Voltaire on Speech

“To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize” – Voltaire

I stumbled upon this quote today while mindlessly web-surfing but it caused me to engage with this idea for a moment. Read More…

SotD: “My Favorite Things” – John Coltrane

I grew up watching The Sound Of Music, it is special importance to me. Regardless of personal appeal, it’s status as one of the greatest films of all time is undeniable. (Its got everything a great movie needs, romance, nazis and sneaky nuns.)  One of the great songs to come out of The Sound Of Music was “My Favorite Things” sung by Julie Andrews.  Two years after the movie released, John Coltrane created his own rendition of the Rodgers and Hammerstein tune which was his first major success as a headliner after working with Miles Davis.

Rounding out a meal: How to pair beer with food

Memorial Day has passed, the sun is out and I am wearing a pair of shorts as I write this. Summer is finally here, barbecue season is upon us.  Standing around the barbecue tending to grilled meat is an experience that demands beer.  Sadly we often undervalue this beautiful pairing; focused on ensuring that both meat and beer are available in surplus.  We effectively match the flavors in our foods as we have been trained to pair them; burgers with fries, steak with potatoes, hot dogs with chips. Still we neglect to match the last part of the meal, beer. (Is he really writing about beer again?)  Poorly picking a beer to match our food can result in one vastly overpowering the other.

I have created a table different summer barbecue foods and supplied a list of beer styles that might match nicely to such foods.  I have also included a few beers as suggestions for those who don’t wish to figure out what the heck a “Dubbel” is.

Food Styles Beers Notes
Burgers Amber
Pale Ale
Full Sail Amber
Bridgeport IPA
Alaskan Amber
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Lagunitas Little Sumpin
Widmer Drifter
Generally pick medium bodied beers with a good balance between malt and hops. IPAs can go with burgers, provided it is a less aggressive IPA.
Steak Belgian Tripel
Nut Brown Ale
Belgian Strong-Pale Ale
Irish Red Ale
Westmalle Tripel
Rogue Hazlenut Brown
Chimay Red
SA Irish red
Sweeter beers match the richness of heavier red meats. Brown ales and heavier Belgian ales are a good match.
Brats Marzen
Vienna Lager
European Lagers
SA Boston Lager
SA Alpine Spring
Paulaner Oktoberfest
Hofbrau Dunkel
Full Sail LTD 5
Widmer Hefeweizen
Session Black
Medium bodied beers with slight malt emphasis, but enough hops to help cut the fattiness of brats.
Fish Steam Beer
Cream Ale
Anchor Steam
Pilsner Urquell
Weihenstephan Hefe
Session Red
Ensure pilsners aren’t too skunky, pick generally mellow lagers that will not overpower fish. For more “fishy” fish, allow for a slightly more aggressive beer such as a blonde ale, pale ale, or steam beer.
Chicken Kellerbier
Wheat Beer
Blonde Ale
Pale Ale
SA Alpine Spring
Session Black
Saison Dupont
Bridgeport Summer Squeeze
If the chicken is spicy a Saison is a nice match. Blonde or other mild ale if the chicken has more subtle flavors.

A few more thoughts:

For dessert beer pairing can get a little trickier because desserts have strong, bold flavors. Your beer should parallel the flavor of the dessert. For a fruity dessert, pick a Lambic (very fruity Belgian style) for a moderate chocolate dessert, pick an oatmeal stout, or for more decadent chocolate dessert, a chocolate stout.

For spicy foods, pick something with the ability to overpower the spiciness, such as an aggressive hoppy IPA or a funky Saison. If you want something smooth to balance against the spiciness, pick something  like a Mexican lager, or American macro lager.

Though I am quite fond of IPAs, I would generally recommend against pairing them with food.  They should be paired with strong flavors if you have acquired a taste for hop bitterness.  It would also be wise to remember specific details of the flavor profile. The flavors imparted by the hops (citric, pine, floral, herbal) and whether it is an east-coast or west-coast IPA will determine if it is a proper match.

I hope you enjoy the challenge of finding the perfect beverage to match a meal. It can be difficult at times, but a well picked combination can make a huge difference.

SotD “American Patrol” – The Glenn Miller Orchestra

An appropriate fusion of classy jazz and memorial day patriotism.  Glenn Miller was a successful songwriter and bandleader in the late 1930s before the United States entered WWII. In 1942 he volunteered his services to the war effort as a bandleader. For the next two years he performed concerts for the troops in England and his music was broadcast over radio waves to German soldiers where they could hear popular tunes mingled with allied propaganda. In December of 1944 he was scheduled to play for the troops in Paris, but on the flight across the channel, his plane disappeared.  Major Glenn Miller is still listed as missing in action. His wife accepted a posthumous Bronze Star on his behalf. Stay classy Major Miller.

Read Stuff!

I found this nifty tool/test today and thought I ought to share it. Read the text given then answer a few questions to measure your reading speed. At the end it will provide estimations of how ling it would take you to read different famous books. Though I don’t read as much as I did in my younger days I think I scored pretty well.  Try this out then go read some great literature friends!

ereader test
Source: Staples eReader Department

SotD: “Perfidia” – Glenn Miller Orchestra & The Modernaires

Composed by Alberto Domínguez, “Perfidia” has a romantic sound but is the story of a broken love.  The combination of instruments chosen for his orchestra give the song a melancholy feel. Miller was truly one of the great band leaders, and displays a great understanding of the balance of sounds that the various instruments offer.

Dwight D. Eisenhower on Leadership

Throughout my adolescent years I was involved in a number of organizations and groups focused on the development of leadership. I was a Boy Scout, a varsity athlete, lead small groups and attended a military school. Though I don’t always choose to apply it, I developed a strong working knowledge of how groups work and how to lead people.  In my teenage years I also read a vast number of books on political and military history. One of my favorite figures was Dwight D. Eisenhower, a General and a President; but most impressively a leader.  As a soldier Eisenhower was a Five-star general who commanded all allied forces in Europe during World War II. He also directed Operation Overlord, otherwise known as the D-Day invasion. Both amazing accomplishments, but my favorite Eisenhower moment comes later in the war.

It’s been a few years since I read the details of this story, so please excuse any minor discrepancies, Read More…

SotD: “Mo’ Money Mo Problems” – Notorious B.I.G. Ft. Puff Daddy & Mase

I’ve always had an odd affection for well-composed hip-hop and rap. This track has always stood out to me as an example of impressive musicianship.  The combination of the guitars and vocals from “I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross layered under smooth rap.  Smooth isn’t a good enough adjective to describe Biggie’s voice, that thing is thick and smooth like maple syrup and scotch. Anyways, its Biggie Smalls’ birthday today, so there is a piece of useless information for your noggin. A birthday does however justify posting some fantastic music.

Also, here is a music video made out of the song after Notorious died, it features Puff, Puffy, Puff Daddy, P. Diddy, Diddy, King Combs, Swag (what the hell is his name this week?) that rapper who was born Sean Combs as a Tiger Woods-like character who prays to Biggie Smalls to win a golf tournament. I hope the mildly absurd outfits and the references to Woods’ early success make you realize how old it is.

Tasting Notes: Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company was one of the forerunners of the craft brewing movement. Hailing from Chico, California they produce a spectacular line-up of affordable, well made beer. Their beers fall on the more hoppy side of the spectrum and this one is no different. Bigfoot Barleywine is an American style Barleywine.  This style originates in England where brewers would brew in the parti-gyle method of making multiple beers from one batch of malts. (Imagine making multiple cups of tea with the same tea-bag.) Barleywines were the first beer made with those malts and were named for their wine-like alcohol strength. English beers utilized fewer, but more earthy and grassy hops; but American brewers have altered it with the aggressive use of pine and citric hops.  Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine embodies the American style well and is commercially available most of the year at beer stores and upper-end grocery stores.

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine

Format: 12oz bottle

Glassware: Rastal Luttich

Abv: 9.6%

IBU: 90

Availability: Winter Seasonal, but can be stored year-round.

Style: American Barleywine

I poured Bigfoot into a snifter/tulip glass, most appropriate for Read More…

Why beer?

I suppose the three people who read this blog wonder why I publish all these notes on beer. I don’t publish these notes so that they can be preserved in the public record. I don’t see myself as a zymurgical authority: there are people much more adept at identifying aromas and flavors. They are called super-tasters and one of them could easily put my tasting notes to shame. I don’t mean to brag either, I don’t think putting these notes online looks cool. My love for the culinary aspects of beer is why I write tasting notes. I hope that one of you will read them and be intrigued by the spectrum of flavors that beer can provide. I want a Budweiser drinker to develop a curiosity when they read that a beer contains a “deliciously sour funk”. I want to expand the boundaries of the palate, to incite exploration. I want to make you think in a new way, to approach beer in a new way, not as a vehicle for alcohol, but as a course in a meal, a food as complex as any French dish. Every beer that I write about is reasonably available in the Portland area where I call home because most, some, at least one of you lives here and could reasonably go out and find whatever beer piques your interest. I hope you read something here that provokes a drive to experiment.


If you’d like a compilation of all my notes published on this blog click here.


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