5 courses, 5 beers at Black Sheep dinner

black-sheep-roof-1-988x768Perhaps the best physical feature of Riverside’s Black Sheep restaurant is its roof-top bar/dining area. Add the inventive flavors of Chef Waylon Rivers’ food and a cold craft beer and you have all the ingredients for a magical evening.

To make just such an evening come true for diners and imbibers, the restaurant has scheduled a roof-top, walk-around tasting dinner paired with beers from the award-winning Aardwolf Brewing Company of San Marco

This is a casual event so come anytime between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., Sunday, August 28. But, be sure you will have enough time to enjoy five different courses prepared by Chef Waylon Rivers all paired with beers from Aardwolf Brewery.  Cost is $60 plus tax and gratuity.  Please call (904) 380-3091 to make reservations.

Tasting menu and pairings are listed below:

purslane, peach gel, basil, thai chili

watermelon mignonette, micro coriander

smoked pork shoulder, gnocchi, shiso, benne

short rib, truffles, radish, chard

profiteroles, coffee and cocoa nib ice cream, spiced mexican chocolate

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Posted by on August 22, 2016 in Beer Dinner


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Brazil’s beer scene has nearly 200 year history

Image credit: Bit Copa Beer.

Image credit: Bit Copa Beer.

By now the 2016 Summer Olympics are in full swing and Team America is most certainly kicking some major ass in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. Over the past few days, you have no doubt been barraged with puff pieces during Olympic broadcasts covering the local customs of Brazil’s hardest partying region. Scenes of glistening bodies on Rio’s infamous beaches, samba dancing and copious drinking are surely gracing your television screen making the tropical paradise south of the border seem even more glamorous and desirable for tourism.

What they are likely not telling you is that Brazil is the world’s third largest beer market consuming 3.5 billion gallons of beer annually – that’s more than 62 gallons of beer per capita.

Brewing in Brazil has a long history that dates back to the 1830s when German immigrated to the South American wonderland seeking new opportunities and prosperity. Naturally, the beer-loving Bavarians brought with them a thirst for the frosty beverage and the skills needed to quench that thirst. In 1853, Bohemia Lager began production and became the first mass-marketed brew in the city of Petropolis, Rio de Janiero. Bohemia, now under the ownership umbrella of Anheuser-Busch/InBev, lays claim to being the oldest beer still brewed in Brazil. Later, in the 1880s, Antarctica and Brahma lagers joined Bohemia and together the three brews claimed nearly 98% of the Brazilian beer market.

As is the case in much of the world, mergers and acquisitions ran rampant in the Brazilian beer market.  The majority of the market belongs to AmBev, the owner of the Brahma, Antarctica, Bohemia and Skol brands. Brazil’s largest brewer was formed in 1999 from the merger of the two biggest brands, Brahma and Antarctica. In 2004, Ambev merged with Belgium’s Interbrew to form InBev which merged with Anheuser-Busch in 2008 to form the world’s largest brewer, now known as Anheuser-Busch/InBev.

Brazil’s big beer brands are omnipresent in the countries bars, on its beaches and at barbecues. Brazilians consume these light, refreshing lagers everywhere and at almost any time. According to local custom, they are served on draft in small cups at least half full or more of foam supposedly to keep the beer colder longer – it doesn’t, but who can fight long ingrained custom.

Craft beer is making a slow emergence into the Brazilian beer scene and today Brazil sports a few craft breweries and more are coming online all the time. Sure, in the summer heat of Brazil’s tropical climate, an ice-cold – I mean so cold there is a layer of slush at the top of it – lager is perfect to beat the heat but, more and more, craft brewers are taking that venerable style and amping it up with hops infusions and indigenous fruits.

While mass-produced lagers may remain at the top of the heap in Brazil’s beer market, as in the rest of the world, craft beer is slowly chipping away at that mountain. So, as you watch the rest of the Olympic Games, kick back with a cold Brazilian brew and cheer on your favorite athletes.

A few Brazilian beers you can find locally include:

Xingu Black — Cervejaria Kaiser

Black and silky, this Brazilian beauty is rich with dark, roasty flavors of chocolate and coffee. Enjoy with a Brazilian steak for an unforgettable experience.

Palma Louca Pale Pilsner — Cervejaria Kaiser

A smooth representation of a Brazilian pilsner. Keep this one covered in ice as you enjoy beach volleyball from the Rio Olympics.

Brahma — Companhia Cervejaria Brahma

Pale yellow with light, grassy hops, this typical Brazilian lager is also one of its oldest. Slip on a thong swim suit – guys, too – and head out the beach with this buried in ice.

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Posted by on August 18, 2016 in Beer


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Schmaltz Brewing goes where no brewer has gone before

640-350x350Boldly going where no brewer has gone before, Schmaltz Brewing Company is releasing two beers that celebrate the 50th anniversary of the seminal science fiction television program Star Trek. Both beers are billed as golden ales, but each has its own characteristics.

The first beer, The Trouble with Tribbles – named for the beloved episode – features light Carastan malt for some light toffee sweetness and Munich malt for a slight bready quality. Finally, wheat malt is added to impart a crisp character. In keeping with the intergalactic theme, hopping is comprised of Comet, Polaris, Aurora and Admiral (Kirk) hops.

The second beer called Voyage to the Northeast Quadrant utilizes Munich malt and brewer’s maize the brew exhibits aromas of fresh citrus fruits and subtle notes of white wine. In all, the beer features five malts, five hops and clocks in at 5% ABV.

Both beers will be available at the premiere of the new movie, Star Trek Beyond in Los Angeles and at the 50th Anniversary Star Trek convention. Further distribution information was not available.

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Posted by on July 20, 2016 in Beer, Beer Releases


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Beer burglars hit SweetWater Brewing


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If you are a lover of SweetWater Brewing Company’s summer seasonal ales, it may be a little more difficult than normal to find a six-pack of your favorite brew. Sometime between close of business Monday, June 20 and opening Tuesday, June 21, more than 79,000 bottles or 3,300 cases of SweetWater brews disappeared along with two trailers that they were loaded in. The trailers were recovered, but much of the beer is still missing.

But, the reason the beer was stolen remains a mystery. By law, retailers cannot accept beer from anyone other than a licensed SweetWater distributor. So, if the motive was to sell the beer, valued at more than $125,000, the thieves are destined to hit a brick wall.

In an article posted to the Men’s Journal website, Tucker Berta Sarkisian says, “We can’t speculate, [why that much beer would be stolen], “but maybe someone is just trying to throw one hell of a party.”

That would be one hell of a party. Just to put it in perspective, that much beer would be enough for every person in attendance at a sold out Jaguars game at EverBank Field to have one beer. Even at that, there would be beer left over for every person in a seat at a sold out Sun’s baseball game to have two beers.

The Associated Press reports that about 25-percent of the beer was found in a warehouse south of Atlanta where SweetWater is located. Ironically, the warehouse is located close to locations where the 1977 comedy Smokey and the Bandit was filmed. The movie’s story revolves around a shipment of Coors beer being trucked through the southern United States. While the similarity of the story and the theft is not lost on SweetWater officials, they are not amused.

Company marketing officer, Steve Farace said that even though some of the beer was recovered, SweetWater would not resell it.

“We can no longer trust that the beer would be up to the quality standards that we as a brewry maintain,” Farace said in the AP article before uttering the words no beer-lover likes to hear. “So, unfortunately we have to destroy it all.”

The beer in the stolen trailers consisted of the company’s summer variety pack that contained their “Goin’ Coastal IPA.” The brew, flavored with pineapple is one of SweetWater’s best-selling seasonal brews. Because of the theft, the vast majority of Goin’ Coastal for the Atlanta region has been lost and must be remade. There is no word on how the heist will effect shipments to Florida or other SweetWater markets.

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Posted by on June 24, 2016 in Beer, Beer News


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Whirlpool creates a new homebrew machine

VessiEnviromentWhirlpool, the company behind all the appliances in your kitchen, has something new they would like to add to your lineup; an all-in-one beer fermenter, carbonator and server. The new appliance is called Vessi and is being launched in conjunction with crow-funding site Indiegogo.

“The traditional fermentation and carbonation stages for home-brewers can be tedious, cumbersome and require many steps in order to get the perfect brew,” Noel Dolan, senior manager, Open Innovation & Strategic Partnerships at Whirlpool Corporation said in a press release. “We knew there had to be a better way. At W Labs, we’ve been researching, testing, designing and rethinking the entire beer brewing process and what’s resulted from that is the Vessi system. With the Vessi fermentor, we’re taking the stresses out of the fermentation stage for homebrewers and allowing them to focus on what they love about beer making.”

While brewers still need to make wort using their current method, Vessi allows homebrewers to serve their beer much quicker than they would if they fermented using carboys, often in as little as seven days. The company bases this claim on a low-alcohol (3.3% ABV) blonde ale.

The fermentor includes a single tank system that is sealed, pressurized and temperature-controlled to create beer in a near perfect environment. Featuring a single tank design, the Vessi fermentor also allows users to reduce risks in the homebrewing process such as contamination, oxidation and imperfect temperatures. The system retains the beer’s carbonation throughout the fermentation process, rather than the complicated multi-step carbonation process typically used by other homebrewing systems.

The system is expected to ship by the end of the year and retail around $1,400. You can learn more about it at the official Indiegogo site:

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Posted by on June 10, 2016 in Beer, Beer Releases


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Pucker up butter cup

rodenbachA couple of months ago I wrote the article below for my column in Folio Weekly Magazine. After a conversation with a representative from Belgian Brewery Rodenbach, I decided to re-post it here for those who may have missed it. 

The power of sour is undeniable. For centuries, breweries have been making sour beers that range from mildly tart to toe-curling, tooth-enamel-eating sour. Sour beers that go by names like gose (pronounced go-zah), lambic, Berliner Weiss and more are experiencing a surge in popularity rivaled only by the IPA craze of the past few years. And, with the hot, humid summer months coming, you’re sure to see more and more of these thirst-quenching beers on local shelves.

Why do we have such a craving for sour things? It all traces back to biology. Sour tastes are generally associated with acids found in relatively few places when it comes to food. Acids in vitamin C are key to holding off a number of deadly conditions — like scurvy — and also help build our immune systems. Somewhere in our evolutionary history, we lost the ability to synthesize vitamin C, so we had to get it from our diets. It’s not just the street cred associated with chowing down on Warheads without flinching; our physiology drives us to seek out acidic foods like citrus.

Before yeast was discovered in the late 1800s, most beers were at least a little sour. This was because brewers didn’t know the role of yeast, and beer was usually brewed using open-topped fermentation vessels. Wild yeast “infected” the sugary pre-beer liquid, or wort, and caused the magical process of fermentation to occur.

Once the properties of yeast were understood, breweries began to control the amount of sour flavors in their beers. Some breweries, particularly those in Belgium, allowed their wort to “spontaneously ferment” by withholding yeast and allowing natural yeast to inoculate the liquid. From these breweries come such brews as gueuze, an intensely sour beer created from blending one-, two- and three-year-old lambic ales.

Other sour styles, such as German goze, are produced by adding yeast strains that imbue sour flavors to the finished beer. This style is also created by the addition of salt and coriander. Yet another style is Berliner Weiss, a German wheat beer made with lactobacillus bacteria and usually, but not always, served with flavored syrup. Another sour concoction is Flanders Red, named for the area of Belgium where it’s made, as well as for its color and sourness it gets from the red wine barrels in which it’s aged.

Sour beers are emerging as a hot trend in craft beer today. You can look forward to more and more sour beer produced by craft brewers in the months and years ahead.

Here are some sour beers you can find locally.

Lactic Zeppelin
Brewed at Aardwolf Brewing Company, it’s a mildly sour Berliner Weiss with a bright citrus flavor. Enjoy this refresher along with the afternoon sea breeze on a hot summer day.

Key Lime Berliner
Green Room Brewing Company’s Berliner Weiss is like a trip to the Keys — you know, for the limes. It’s tart yet refreshing and only on tap as a seasonal brew, so get out to Jax Beach and try it while you can.

Rodenbach Grand Cru
Aged for longer than most Flanders red ales, this classic Belgian sour brewed by Brouwerij Rodenbach N.V. is a blend of one-third young beer and two-thirds beer aged in oak for two years. It’s often referred to as the “red wine of beer.”

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Posted by on June 8, 2016 in Beer


Oskar Blues releases new summer refresher

unnamedOne of my favorite style of beer for a hot summer afternoon is a Belgian Wit. But, had it not been for a Belgian milkman named Pierre Celis. By 1960, the beer, which had once been immensely popular in eastern Belgium, had disappeared from production and was essentially extinct.

Celis, who lived in Hoegaarden, Belgium, was not about to let his beloved witbier vanish from the face of the earth so he purchased some used brewing equipment and began producing the beer himself in 1966. Within just a few years, other brewers again began brewing the style and one of beers greatest comebacks was completed.

The beer is characterized by its hazy white appearance and the spices used to flavor it. Brewers use a melange of spices like chamomile, anise, grains of paradise, peppercorns, ginger and orange peel in the brewing process to give the beer its unique flavor.

American craft brewer Oskar Blues has produced its version of the refresher for years but, until now, it had only been available on tap at the company’s tap rooms and restaurants. That changes this month when Priscilla White Wit Wheat will  be released in cans across the country.

Read all about the brew in the press release below:

Longmont, CO & Brevard, NC & Austin, TXOskar Blues Brewery, the brewery that launched the craft beer-in-a-can apocalypse in 2002, announces the national launch of an AmeriCAN take on the Belgian Classic Wit, Priscilla White Wit Wheat. It’s a Belgian White, Belgian Wit, Belgian Wheat…it’s a White Wit Wheat (5.2% ABV, 20 IBUs).
The beer, which features orange peel and coriander spice, emanated from the basement blues music legacy Dave McIntyre (18 year Oskar Bluesologist) built at the original Oskar Blues Grill & Brew in Lyons, CO. On draft for over a decade, Priscilla’s zesty citrus and light fresh baked bread aromas mix with spicy, fruity fermentation. Light bodied with a subtle savory spice accent and a dry, lightly tart finish you can nearly feel the flicker of the neon and sounds of the King. White Wit Wheat.
“Priscilla is a beer steeped in Oskar Blues’ music history,” said Chad Melis. “A longtime Oskar Blues favorite, we’ve decided its time to bring this amped up, electric brew from the basement and to the masses.”
Oskar Blues, named “The hottest place to be on a Saturday night in Colorado” by Rolling Stone because of its roots in the Colorado music scene, will brew its first batch of Dale’s Pale Ale at their new brewery and taproom in Austin, TX today. The brewery will continue its tradition of soul-savin’ live music with a music venue as part of the Austin taproom.
Priscilla White Wit Wheat will launch throughout the month of June in all 50 states where Oskar Blues is sold and will be available in 12oz. 6-packs and draft.
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Posted by on June 2, 2016 in Beer, Beer Releases


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