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.

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…

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.

SotD: “Mabellene” – Chuck Berry

This is where it all started, the birth of Rock & Roll. Chuck Berry work on the electric guitar, paired with a rather traditional jazz rhythm section. This recording was taken sometime shortly, but the Track “Mabellene” was origionaly recorded in 1955, as the Jazz era was coming to a close. The popular charts that year were still composed mostly of jazz vocalists such as Frank Sinatra and Sarah Vaughn. Enter Chuck Berry and “Mabellene”, a track that would forever change American music.

Tasting Notes: Anchor Steam

Anchor Brewing Company is one of the oldest breweries on the west coast, brewing since 1896, with the exception of a mildly mandatory break during prohibition. Their home of San Francisco has a pretty respectable craft beer scene, and it has been built on the back of Anchor Brewing Company.  Fritz Maytag bought Anchor brewing in 1965, saving it from the dark age of beer that consumed so many small breweries. It managed to survive in a market dominated by macro-production lagers and thus became one of the forerunners of the craft brewing movement. In 1971 Maytag introduced a porter, an IPA and a barleywine to the brewery’s products, which likely made Anchor the only brewery in the United States commercially producing any of those styles of beer.  Anchor Steam Beer was the brewery’s flagship product, and predates Maytag’s buyout. It was first brewed in 1896 and is considered a stylistic archetype.Anchor Steam Beer

Format: 12oz Bottle

Glassware: Pelican Pint glass

ABV: 4.9%

IBU: 30 (approximate)

Availability: Year-round

Style: Steam Beer/California Common

Anchor Steam Beer pours a beautiful copper color, invoking thoughts of refreshment but also potent flavor. The Eggshell colored head stands about ¾ after pouring, and it slowly recedes to a nice cap over the beer. As I drink, the foam leaves spectacular lacing in my pint glass. The aroma is very clean and smooth. It is simple and un-aggressive, a backbone of caramel malt with an ephemeral whiff of floral hops.  At first taste I get a crisp sweetness, as the beer crests the tongue I notice the floral hops and a touch of a very plain apple flavor. The aftertaste leaves a slight roasted grain flavor with a hint of bitterness.  This beer has an average body, but the fine carbonation tickles the tongue nicely. This beer would be a fine compliment to summer barbecue food. Though it is smooth and generally uncomplicated, its mellow but potent flavor makes it a nice food pairing.  Match this with burgers or fish from the barbecue.

SotD: “House Of The Rising Sun” – The Animals

I intended to post this song after hearing the Animals’ version of it, but I discovered it has a mildly controversial history. According to Wikipedia it was an old folk song that was recorded without much success by a few people, including Bob Dylan. (Listen to the Dylan version here.) Since the Animals recording in 1964, it has been covered by almost everybody; clearly it is an influential piece of music.

Eric Burdon’s voice is absolutely fantastic for this song. Also did you know that he was also the vocalist for War? Head-splosion.


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