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Wild time in store for guests to Brew at the Zoo

BrewAtTheZoo_4C_RsgFor nine years, the Wild Things, the Jacksonville Zoo’s Young Professionals group, has been throwing a party at the zoo billed as the “wildest food and drink festival in town.” Indeed, over the years, Brew at the Zoo has grown to become one of the premiere events of its kind in Northeast Florida. Attendance seems to grow each year as does the collection of vendors that range from Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse to beers from distributors Republic National Distributing, Champion Brands and North Florida Sales.

To learn more about the event, we asked Melissa Gilleland, Development Officer at the zoo, a few questions:

Jax Beer Guy: How did the festival come about? What was the impetus to its creation?

Melissa Gilleland: The Wild Things – the Zoo’s Young Professionals group – wanted to start a fall fundraiser for the Zoo to show young adults the Zoo is for all ages. That was nine years ago, and now Brew at the Zoo has grown into the wildest food and drink festival in town.

JBG:  What are you most excited about concerning the festival?

MG: This year, we are most excited about the variety of food, drink, and entertainment options that are being offered at the event. It’s our largest yet! We have all the local breweries, plus the newest Jacksonville brewery, Wicked Barley Brewing, will be serving their beer in public for the first time. We have over 50 restaurants serving a full menu of samples ranging from shrimp and grits to carnitas tacos to rum cakes and ice cream. Entertainment will include a mix of returning favorites and new bands, like Jacksonville favorite X Hale.

JBG: What do you hope to accomplish with the festival?

MG: Our goals for Brew at the Zoo are twofold. We hope to raise funds for the Zoo, which is a nonprofit, and also raise awareness about our mission of conservation and education. We know there is a segment of the Jacksonville community that is connected to the Zoo through events like Brew at the Zoo, and we want to keep them engaged and learning about the Zoo as a place to learn and have fun.

 JBG: How will the proceeds from the festival be used?

MG: Proceeds from the event go towards general operating support for the Zoo, which funds the care and feeding of our animals and plants, our conservation initiatives, and our education programs. Last year we raised over $100,000, and we’re well on the way to exceeding that this year!

 JBG: What is your vision for the future of this festival and other beer festivals that may take place at the zoo in the future?

MG: We want to continue to engage a younger generation of Zoo supporters, who will hopefully become involved in the Zoo’s future. We want to promote the Zoo as a place that is not only for kids, but can also be enjoyed by adults. The Wild Things are a great example of a group of young adults who are involved with the Zoo.

Tickets for Brew at the Zoo are $55 for zoo members and $65 for non-members. Designated driver tickets are $30. They may be purchased at: http://www.jacksonvillezoo.org/brewatthezoo.

Remember to party responsibly, do not drink and drive. You can receive a $20 credit for your first ride with Uber by simply using the promo code “l2jkr” when you register for UBER. Click HERE to sign up now or go to your phone’s app store.

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Posted by on August 31, 2015 in Beer Festival

 

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Northeast Florida Beer Cup and Brew at the Zoo coming this week

beercup2014In case you had not noticed, Jacksonville is bursting with craft beer events these days. This week is proof of that with two big events: The Northeast Florida Beer Cup and Brew at the Zoo. Both events have proven to be a lot of fun in the past and promise more of the same for this year.

The Northeast Florida Beer Cup is put on annually by Jacksonville Magazine, this year the festivities are being held at The Museum and Gardens (formerly known as the Cummer Art Museum and Gardens). Guests can expect to sample great beers from around the First Coast. The event will be capped at only 500 guests, so if you do not have your tickets yet, get them soon.

The event is Thursday, September 25 and runs from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.  Tickets are available for $35 at Eventbrite.

BrewAtTheZoo_4C_RsgBrew at the Zoo is an annual opportunity to go wild at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens while drinking great craft beer and noshing delicious food. The fundraiser benefits the zoo itself and promises a fantastic time for all. More than 50 craft beers will be available for sampling along with food from 30 local restaurants.

The event is Friday, September 26 and runs from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

The Jax Beer Guy has partnered with the UBER car service in Jacksonville. Because of this partnership, you can receive a $20 credit for your first ride by simply using the promo code “JaxBeerGuy” when you register for UBER on your smartphone.

Click HERE to sign up now!

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2014 in Beer Festival

 

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Oskar Blues & Sierra Nevada beer dinners coming to Publix Aprons Cooking School

ApronsCookingSchoolOver the next few weeks, the Aprons Cooking School located in the Publix Supermarket on San Jose Blvd. in Mandarin will feature two outstanding beer dinners. On October 25 join Geoffrey Hess and Noah Tuttle of Oskar Blues Brewing Company for a pairing dinner featuring favorites like Dale’s Pale Ale and Old Chub. And on November 7 the chefs of Aprons “Bring Home a Celebration” with Sierra Nevada beers.

Located in Lyons, Colo., the original Oskar Blues brewery was the brain storm of Dale Katechis. His restaurant, Oskar Blues Brew and Grill was founded in 1997 and was known for its Southern comfort foods, Cajun and creole cuisine. To compliment his foods, Katechis wanted quality beers and decided to begin brewing his own in 1998 in the basement of the restaurant. His beers were so popular he moved his brewing operations into a 60-year-old shed behind the restaurant where in 2002 Oskar Blues became the first craft brewery to can their beers instead of bottle them. Controversy ensued.   But, 11 years later, the practice of canning craft beers has spread throughout the industry and has become common practice.

Now the brewery owns several other restaurants in the Front Range area of Colorado including Oskar Blues Liquids and Solids as well as ChubBurger in Longmont, Colo. The brewery has also moved to Longmont along with its attached Tasty Weasel Tap Room. In 2012, the company opened a second brewery and tap room in Brevard, NC not far from the beer destination of Asheville.

Presenting the dinner at Aprons are Geoffrey Hess and Noah Tuttle. Hess is responsible for Chains and Grains at Oskar Blues Brewery in Longmont Colorado. He Works closely with their national chain accounts and runs the Hops and Heifers brewery owned Farm.  Noah Tuttle started off in the packaging line at the company’s Longmont, Colorado, facility as well as the Oskar Blues Home Made Liquids and Solids restaurant in Longmont. He worked his way up to senior brewer, and last year was offered the opportunity by Oskar Blues owner Dale Katechis to be the Head Brewer for company’s new expansion brewery in Brevard.

The menu for the dinner includes:

  • Grilled Shrimp Soft Tacos with Lemony Roasted Poblano Salsa paired with Mama’s Little Yella Pils
  • Dale’s Marinated Crispy Chicken Sliders with Pickled Red Onions paired with Dale’s Pale Ale
  • Deviantly Braised Lamb Shank with Grapefruit Gremolata paired with Deviant Dales
  • Blue Cheese & Pine Nut Shortbread Cookies with Cherry Poached Pears paired with Old Chub

The dinner begins at 6:30 and tickets are $45 each. Go to http://www.publix.com/aprons/schools/Jacksonville/Home.do for more information or to purchase.

Ken Grossman learned to homebrew from the father of a close friend. From an early age, he was enamored by the sights and smells of the fermenting jugs of bubbling beer, wine and sake. His first attempts at making beer were rudimentary at best, but began a lifelong passion for the art of fermentation.

Grossman opened a homebrew supply store in downtown Chico, simply named The Home Brew Shop. As he and fellow homebrewer Paul Camusi got more into the craft, Grossman’s brewing became more and more elaborate, and, soon enough, people were eager to sample his new brews.

Grossman began planning a new small-scale brewery based in Chico. He took the name of his favorite hiking grounds in the nearby mountains and decided to launch Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Grossman knew he wanted to make a hop-forward Pale Ale, but he also knew that the key to convincing people to try the beer and come back for more was consistency. He spent the last of his money and countless months to make sure he could reproduce identical batches of beer. He dumped 10 batches before getting the perfect balance into his Pale Ale, the beer that helped to launch the American craft beer movement and changed the tastes of millions.

The holidays have always been about gathering with friends and family to share a great meal, but nothing makes a meal better than pairing it with some very special Sierra Nevada beer. Publix and Aprons Cooking School invite you to “Bring Home a Celebration” with an evening of fun, featuring world-class beer and food pairings just in time for the holidays. Sierra Nevada’s Beer Ambassador and resident beer geek Bill Manley will join Publix chefs to present a cornucopia of food and beer filled with exciting holiday flavors.

The menu includes:

  • Celebration Popcorn paired with Sierra Nevada Celebration
  • Shrimp and Kellerweis, Ginger, Garlic, Cilantro, Orange and Lime paired with Sierra Nevada Kellerweis
  • Porter Sausage Turnovers paired with  Sierra Nevada Porter
  • Grilled Steak with Torpedo Smashed Red Potatoes with Chilies paired with Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere
  • Narwhal Ice Cream Float paired with Sierra Nevada Narwhal

The dinner begins at 6:30 and tickets are $45 each. Go to http://www.publix.com/aprons/schools/Jacksonville/Home.do for more information or to purchase.

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2013 in Beer Dinner

 

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Beer: Just four ingredients, infinite possibilities

Pilsner Urquell in its original glass

Pilsner Urquell in its original glass (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Brief History

Thousands of years ago, an urn of water was sitting under a table being used to process grain. Some of that grain fell into the urn and, over the course of several weeks (housekeeping was not a top priority in those days), the water slowly transformed into an early form of what we now call beer. About that time, a thirsty wanderer came along and, seeing the urn of liquid, decided to drink it. He (or she) was surprised by the sweet taste of the concoction. The beverage was definitely not water, but it tasted so good they continued to drink. After drinking a while, they noticed that they felt strangely euphoric and slightly out of control. With a full belly, they decided to sleep off the strange feelings and awoke the next morning with a splitting headache. Thus, the first hangover was suffered.

Since then beer has been used for everything from currency to sponsor of beach volleyball. During its long history it helped to save the human race, assisted monks to survive 40 days of fasting at Lent, and was instrumental in founding our country.

Ingredients: The Early Years

If you were paying attention to the story I just told, you heard two of the ingredients of beer; water and grain. And, in the beginning, that I all that the simple people of that time knew about. But, as the process of brewing beer was refined, more ingredients made it into the brew pot.

Archeologists agree that the Vikings that first conquered and settled northern Great Britain used to flavor their beer with heather flowers. The ancient Chinese are known to have used hawthorn fruit in beer over 9,000 years ago and ancient Hondurans used cocoa, chilies and honey in their brew.

Delaware brewery Dogfish Head has made several brews based on ancient recipes that used such ingredients as chamomile, oregano and palm fruit. But, apart from specialty brews such as Midas Touch or Ta Henket – both brews based on ancient recipes – beer is traditionally made from a just a few base ingredients.

Ingredients: The Law

Beer as we know it today owes a debt to the Bavarian Duke Wilhelm IV who, in the town of Ingolstadt decreed in 1516 that beer could be made of only certain ingredients. Those ingredients were: barley, hops, and water. The fourth ingredient, yeast, had not been discovered yet and this was not included in the law until it was understood to be a part of the fermentation process as explained by Louis Pastuer in 1857. The law was known as the Reinheitgebot or more simply, the German Purity Law.

It is from these basic ingredients that beer as we know it today is crafted.

Over the next hour we will discuss each and how it affects the finished product. We will also taste examples of beer styles that highlight each ingredient.

Water

Seemingly the simplest of the four ingredients in beer, water is surprisingly a very complex part of the final product. Water comprises more than 95 percent of beer and, depending on its mineral content, can lend distinct flavors to the beer that is made with it. Water hardness or softness is something to which every good brewer pays very close attention.

Some of the world’s oldest and most well-known breweries have been using water from the same source to brew their distinctive beers for hundreds of years. And, when the brands go global, some of the flavor characteristics simply cannot be reproduced. An example of this is the debate that rages on in beer circles of whether Guinness tastes better in Ireland than anywhere else. Detractors say that it is simply romanticism that makes the beer taste better on the Emerald Isle while proponents insist that differences in the water used at contract breweries simply is not the same and thus the flavor of the beer is off because of this. In fact, a serious study was undertaken to put this argument to rest. The result: Guinness brewed in Ireland did taste better to a panel of experts in a blind taste test.

Another famous example of water playing a pivotal role in the flavor of beer is that of Pilsners brewed in Pilzen, Czechoslovakia. Bohemian Pilsners are more malt forward despite the fact that they are hopped more heavily than other Pilsner styles. This is due to the incredible softness of the naturally occurring waters used in brewing. Pilsner Urquell is an excellent example of how water affects the final taste of a beer.

Malt

Traditionally, and according to the German Purity Law, malt is made from barley grain. This was part of the law in part to ensure bakers had enough wheat and rye to make bread. Today, however, beer is brewed with a variety of grains including wheat, rye, oats, even quinoa. The mega brewers use other, cheaper grains such as rice and corn as well.

Malt is made by soaking the grain in water until it begins to sprout. At that point the grain is converting its starches into the simple sugars that are needed for fermentation to take place. The grain is removed from the water and halted from further germination by drying with hot air in a kiln.

Beers styles that are traditionally malt-forward include Scottish ale, doppelbock, Vienna lager, and English barleywine. These beers are typically sweeter with a deeper color and rich maltiness. But, other styles that are influenced heavily by malt include stouts and porters that are made with malt that is roasted longer in the kiln until almost black in color. This process lends the chocolate and coffee flavors that are so prized in these styles. Still another style of beer – hefeweizen – is light, slightly sweet and yeasty in flavor. This style gets its characteristic golden color and hazy appearance from wheat grain. An excellent example of this style is the original Blue Moon.

Hops

The flower of the plant that bares their name, hops provides the bitterness in beer that offsets the sweetness of the malt. Also known as cones, the hops flowers contain chemical compounds known as Alpha Acids that provide their bitter punch. But, hops were originally used for another reason in addition to as a flavoring; hops kills off bacteria and has preservative properties. In fact, it is these properties that may have contributed to beer saving humanity. Water in Medieval Europe was often swarming with microbes that caused sickness and disease. But, beer was found to be safe in part because of the anti-bacterial effects of the hops used in the brewing process. The preservative properties of hops lead to the discovery that beer that was highly hopped could last longer on long sea journeys and arrive in far-flung locales such as India still drinkable if a bit more bitter than the average ale. Indeed, this is the origins of the beer style known as India Pale Ale or IPA.

There are over 50 recognized styles of hops that provide flavors that range from extreme bitterness like that of a grapefruit or pine needle to milder citrus flavors that are just right for cutting the sweetness of malts.

Beers that truly showcase the flavors possible due to hops are the afore mentioned IPAs. Decidedly hop-forward, IPAs have evolved from monstrous hop bombs that lead full-on assaults of your senses to well-rounded and carefully crafted beers that employ skillful blends and additions of hops at different stages of the brewing process to produce complex brews that challenge the palate as well as the mind of the taster.

Yeast

In ancient times, brewers did not understand that the process of beer brewing would be incomplete without the contributions of yeast. It is likely that ancient brews were spontaneously fermented due to the addition of wild yeasts suspended in the air. Today, however, the true function of yeast is understood and, with the exception of lambics, most beers are intentionally infected with specific strains of yeast that are known to impart certain flavors.

Yeast is separated into two types for the purpose of brewing beer – ale and lager. Ale yeasts typically ferment at warmer temperatures and impart a frutier and fuller flavor to the beer. On the other hand, lager yeasts prefer cooler temperatures and produce crisper, cleaner beers that taste best when served ice cold.

Examples of flavors you may detect due to yeast include banana, crackers, cloves or tartness. In some cases, brettanomyces and Lactic Acid bacteria are used to produce extreme beers that present sour or extremely funky flavors. Another example of a sour beer is a lambic. These beers are made in a specific area of Belgium near Brussels and uses naturally occurring yeasts in the air to ferment the beer spontaneously.

Four Ingredients, Infinite Possibilities

Though beer is traditionally comprised of just the four ingredients we have discussed today, there are infinite combinations that can affect the flavor and character of the final product. Through skillful manipulation of these ingredients hundreds of styles of beer have been produced. Toss in a few other ingredients like fruits, flowers or even Rocky Mountain Oysters and you expand the possible flavors that can be extracted from beer exponentially. Regardless of the reputation beer has had as an inferior drink, it can be affirmatively argued that it is actually much more complex than any other alcoholic beverage.

Beer has been the drink of Pharos and the wage that helped build the pyramids, it has been used in ancient rituals and as sustenance during the most holy of times, it is a staple at sporting events and backyard barbecues. In short, it is one of the most popular beverages in the world behind water and tea. If that is not deserving of a hearty toast, nothing is!

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2013 in Beer, Beer Education

 

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European Street’s Beer & Baseball a hit

Palm beer

Palm beer (Photo credit: Abi Skipp)

Once a month European Street Cafe throws a party in the Beer Garden located past the left outfield area of the Baseball Grounds known as Beer & Baseball. This month the gathering took place on July 21 which also happens to be the Belgian Independence Day known as Fesstdag. To celebrate, Estreet poured Palm, the number one selling beer in Belgium, and Bright Lights White, a Belgian-style Wit from Intuition Ale Works. Along with the beer there were Estreet sandwiches, soft drinks, and a lot of great people.

The next Beer & Baseball — also the last for this season — will be held on August 11 and will feature Highland Brewing Compay beer. Tickets are available at all European Street Cafe locations. For just $20 you get all the beer you care to drink between 5:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m, all the Monster German Weiners and Estreet sandwiches you can eat, and a ticket to the game.

The video below was shot at the July event.

 

Follow all of Marc Wisdom’s travel, dining, and beer articles at his Examiner pages: Jacksonville Dining, Jacksonville Craft Beer, Restaurants, Drinks, and City Guides. Click the “Subscribe” button and never miss an article again.

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2012 in Beer, Restaurant

 

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Pour Yourself a Koelsch One

A wreath Kolsch Beer - LA Times of Kölsch.

Image via Wikipedia

 It is always fun to delve into the history of a particular style of beer. Particularly if that beer is a bit obscure to begin with. Lately I have become fascinated with several German styles of beer. Coming from a very Bavarian background, I thought it only fitting to dig a little deeper into the traditions of my forbearers and learn more about German beer styles. And so, I begin my little trip down the cobbled stones of ancient brewing with a look at a style that is emerging in the United States as an approachable, drinkable, and decidedly refreshing style: Koelsch.

Now to understand Koelsch you will need to have a basic understanding of the two categories of beers; lagers and ales. Do not confuse these two categories with beer styles. Styles reside within these two categories. The difference between these two broad categories is the type of yeast used during fermentation. Ale yeasts ferment at warmer temperatures and are sometimes called “top fermenting” yeasts. This is because the yeast tends to stay towards the top of the tank during fermentation. Lagers yeasts conversely ferment at cooler temperatures and tend to stay towards the bottom of the fermentation tank. Another major difference between these two categories of beer is that ales tend to have more yeast driven flavors then lagers. Ale yeasts lend complex spicy and fruity flavors to beers that the cooler fermenting lager yeasts do not.

Now that you know the difference between ales and lagers, it is time to learn some history. Sherman, set the dials on the Way-Back machine to the closing years of the 1300’s in Cologne, Germany. A group of Guilds gathered and peacefully over-threw the noble-run government with a more democratic style of governance that allowed more freedom to all and ended a tradition of class segregation in the city that still holds true today. The reason this is so important to the history of the Koelsch style beer is that it proved that the people of Cologne were free-thinkers and strove to be different from other German cities.

At that time the German beer landscape was dominated by what is now called an Altbier or old beer. These beers were ales that used top fermenting yeasts. In the mid-to-late 1500’s though, a wave of lagers began to take over the German brewing world. Altbiers started to be replaced by the new lager styles until only a few ales remained. The city fathers of Cologne recognized that these ales were quickly dying out and, in 1603, issued an ordinance that outlawed the brewing of all but top-fermented beers within the city limits of Cologne. Thus, bottom-fermenting beers were proscribed from Cologne which led to the beginnings of modern-day Koelsch.

From that day in 1603 until the early nineteenth century, Cologne became known for its Keutebier, or white ale similar in style to Belgian wit beer, but without the addition of spices. Keutebier was a beer that used mostly wheat as its main grain. As tastes changed over time though, more and more barley was used until wheat completely disappeared from the beer and the first Koelsch was brewed in 1906 by the Sunner Brewery. But, it wasn’t until 1918 that the name Koelsch was officially used to describe this new style.

At first the style did not gain any momentum. But, after two World Wars, the style began to catch on. In the mid-1940’s, breweries that had been devastated during the Wars began to re-emerge. Lagers were still firmly in control of the beer-drinking world, but Koelsch was making in-roads. In the 1960’s Cologne’s beer production was a mere 50 million liters, or roughly 13 million gallons. In contrast, as the style began to rise in popularity, Cologne’s beer production peaked at over 370 million liters, or almost 98 million gallons. In recent years that number has dropped down a bit, but if the resurgence I have noticed in the style holds, Koelsch could well be on its way back up the charts.

Significantly, as with Champaign, the beer can only truly be called Koelsch if it is brewed in Cologne. In 1985 the Koelsch Convention established that only breweries within the city limits of Cologne could brew Koelsch beers. All others are to be called Koelsch-style beers. In 1997 the European Union gave further protection to the style allowing only 14 breweries the right to label their beers as Koelsch. As with most German beers, this style also adheres to the Reinheitsgebot or German purity law that prohibits the use of any ingredients in beer other than water, barley, hops, and yeast.

A Koelsch beer should be the color of straw and have a rather thin mouth-feel. The official guidleines state that this style should be between 4.4 and 5.2% ABV. The flavor should be slightly sweet with little or no hopiness and practically no fruitiness. All of these characteristic combine to make this an exceedingly refreshing beer when served at about 40 degrees. This is especially true on a hot summer day in Florida when the sun is beating down with the intensity of a blast furnace.

Some Koelsch and Koelsch-style beers to try are: Reissdorf, Gaffel, Harpoon Summer Beer, and Samuel Adams East-West Koelsch. And if you are looking for a locally brewed Koelsch-stylre in Jacksonville, FL, look no further than Intuition Ale Works and their deliciously refreshing Jon Boat Ale.

Until next time,

Long Live the Brewers!

Cheers!

Marc Wisdom

 

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