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Lagunitas Brewing Co. featured at Publix Aprons Cooking School beer dinner

lagunitaslogoFounded in 1993 by Tony Magee, Lagunitas Brewing Company started in its namesake city in California but quickly outgrew its rural location and moved to Petaluma. Currently rated as the fifth top-selling craft beer brewery in North America, Lagunitas is also known for its irreverent beer names and the stories that go along with them. On Friday, May 1, 2015, Publix Aprons Cooking School hosts the storied brewery for a beer dinner that pairs the iconic brews with delicious dishes.

For its first decade of life, Lagunitas was a sleepy producer of regional craft beer, little known outside of its local area. But, by the mid-2000s, the California brewery had begun to branch out to become one of the fastest-growing craft breweries in the United States. Output rose from 27,ooo barrels in 2004 to an astounding 106,000 in 2010. As demand rose, Magee began to look towards expansion again. So, in April of 2012, he announced that his brewery would build a brewery in Chicago with a capacity of 600,000 barrels annually. Just two years later, the brewery began production.

A penchant for sarcasm led Magee to name many of his beers irreverently, perhaps most noteworthy is Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale. On what is now known in California beer culture as the 2005 St Patrick’s Day Massacre, Lagunitas was targeted and shut down by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). The shut-down stemmed from a loose weekly party held every Thursday at 4:20 in the afternoon. The party featured discounted beer, blues and, for some attendees including Lagunitas “Beer Weasel” and marketing director, Ron Lindenbusch. On the fateful day of the massacre, Lindenbusch was arrested by ABC agents who had infiltrated the party in hopes of catching the brewery in illegal activity. They succeeded. The resulting investigation found the brewery guilty of operating a “Disorderly House” and shut them down with a 20-day suspension of their liquor license.

In typical sarcastic fashion, the brewery’s website describes the incident, “We did the crime. We did the time. We got the bragging rights.”

At the Publix Lagunitas beer dinner you can expect to hear a few of the stories surrounding the beer names as well as more about the brewery and its scrappy beginnings. You can also expect Chef Tony Charbonette and his cast of entertaining chefs to demonstrate how they create the delightful dishes created for the dinner as they serve them for your enjoyment.

A partial menu for the event includes:

  • Lagunitas Pils paired with Steamed Mussel Frites (Beer Steamed Mussels, Fennel Butter and Crispy Fries)
  • Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ paired with Kung Pao Style Chicken Wings
  • Lagunitas IPA paired with Spicy Caveman Porterhouse Steak and Poblano Pan-Fry

Tickets for the event are available by calling 904-262-4187 and cost $45 each. But, according to a Twitter posting by Chef Tony, if you act quickly, you can take advantage of a buy-one-get-one-free offer on tickets.

For more on this blog about Lagunitas read: European Street Taps New Lagunitas Brew

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2015 in Beer Dinner

 

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European Street taps new Lagunitas brew

Beer drinking and storytelling are two activities that go hand-in-hand. Barstools are full of storytellers that spin fantastic yarns over cold brews on a daily basis. But, a beer new to the Jacksonville area and now tapped at the Park St., San Marco, and Jacksonville Beach locations of European Street has the story to tell this time. And Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Co. has quite a story to tell.

The label on the bottle of the beer hints that the story is not one that sits well with Tony Magee, the owner and brewmaster at Lagunitas. In tiny type on the edge of the label his diatribe says, “From the first day of the first congress at the moment of the passage of the first law, we became weaker.

The extra-large B. Franklin said it well that you can tell the strength of a society by the paucity of the pages in its book of laws – Tax laws, civil law, criminal law, Statutes and Bills. Laws that make large and small criminals of us all.”

The label refers to the 2005 investigation and subsequent shut-down of the brewery for 20 days the next January that resulted from complaints of parties on breweries premises. The parties were said to include food, beer, loud music, and – perhaps most damning – marijuana usage.  The investigation took place over two-months with investigators going to the weekly parties undercover to see for themselves what was going on.

According to the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control public information officer John Carr, officers attended parties over an eight-week period to determine whether partygoers were dealing in drugs. During a St. Patrick’s Day party at the brewery the officers revealed their investigation by showing their badges and arresting one employee and patron.

Punishment came to the brewery in the form of a 20-day shut-down in January of 2006, which Magee used to install a planned new bottling line.

Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale is called “especially bitter ale” to commemorate the bust and shut-down of the brewery. Later Magee, not none for his quiet demeanor, said, “This beer, I wanted it to be a knuckle sandwich. It’s big, it’s bitter and it’s angry. It’s unrepentant, and it’s unforgiving.”

And Magee, is right in those characterizations. The brew weighs in with 10.1% ABV and 74 IBUs. Popular beer rating website Beer Advocate gives the brew an 89 out of 100 points. One reviewer on the site left comments referring to the beer as, “Barleywine-like strength with well-kilned grains and citrus hops.” Another said, “Interesting. Both the hops and toasted malt appear upfront, then the bitterness hits on the finish.”

But, drinker beware, a few pints of this brew could lead to a few of your own stories. Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale is available until supplies are exhausted at European Street.

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2012 in Beer, Pubs, Restaurant

 

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Hop To It If You Want Fresh Hop Ales

In 1996, Steve Dresler of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company began a tradition that would ultimately lead to a tasty, glorious flood of unique and highly enjoyable beer. Dresler, on one of his beer research journeys, came across a European tradition of brewing beer with freshly harvested hops. So, being the pioneering person that he is, he decided to try a batch of the beer himself. What resulted was an extraordinary beer with fresh, vibrant flavors otherwise unattainable in brewing.

Hops used for brewing grow on vines and are the cone-shaped flowers of the plant Humulus lupulus. After harvest, in late August to mid-September, the hop flowers are usually dried before they are used in brewing. Fresh hop beer, however, is made with undried or “wet” hops. The trick is to get the hops to the brewer as quickly as possible since hops will begin to degrade within 24 hours of being picked.

Breweries like Sierra Nevada that are located in relatively close proximity to the hops growers send refrigerated trucks to the fields and rush the freshly harvested cones to the brewery. On the way, the truck drivers call the brewers to let them know how long it will take them to get there so they will know when to start the boil. As soon as the trucks arrive the fresh hops are added to the wort.

But, breweries that are further away from the hops farms must resort to other means of obtaining fresh hops. Many use overnight package services to rush the hops from field to brewery. That can be an expensive undertaking. Particularly when you consider that some breweries order as much as 800 pounds of the fragrant cones. According to the FedEx website, that would cost in the neighborhood of $5,000.

But, to many, the effort and the expense are well worth it. The beer that results from fresh is unlike other beers. Fresh hop beers are akin to the wine world’s Beaujolais Nuevo in that they are extremely limited to a certain time of year and are intended to be enjoyed immediately. Fresh hop junkies say they can taste the difference in the beer each year, too. The hops, like grapes, have different flavors from year to year depending on the growing conditions and weather.

Fresh hop beers have a more herbaceous character that is not present in brews made traditionally from dried hops. This character is much “greener” than and not as intense as full-blown dry-hopped beers. Wet, another word descriptive word used, hops retain all the volatile oils that are usually lost in the drying process. Wet hops bring a vegetal, earthy aroma to the beer and subtle taste notes that simply don’t show up in other beers.

Here in Jacksonville, several breweries produced fresh hop ales. Intuition Ale Works brewed Fresh Hop Ale to the delight of the Tap Room crowd. The flavor is redolent with freshness, soft hop notes, with the afore mentioned green, vegetal, chlorophyll-driven accents. As of this writing Intuition still had some of their Fresh Hop Ale left at the Tap Room. If you want to try it, I would get in there quickly. Engine 15 brewed two fresh hop beers this year. Unfortunately, I was unable to get out there and taste them before they were gone.

A few other fresh hop brews you might want to seek out and try are:

Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere Harvest features Cascade and Centennial hops from the Yakima Valley in Eastern Washington.

Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest is not available yet, but is set to debut in late April and will feature fresh Pacific Hallertau, New Zealand Motueka and New Zealand Southern Cross hops, all from New Zealand.

Lagunitas Wet Maximus provides lots of hoppy orange and grapefruit as well as some piney hops mixed in with rich caramel malt flavors.

Chatoe Rogue Wet Hop Ale packs six different varieties of wet hops into this subtle and restrained brew that is a perfect entry point into the wet hop style.

Freshness has long been a buss word for brewers and using freshly-picked hops is absolutely the best way to get that freshness into a bottle. But, since hops are so fragile, fresh hop brews can only be produced near harvest time. So, enjoy this year’s crop of fresh/wet hopped ales while you can otherwise you spend the next year pining for the freshest beer around.

Until next time.

Long Live the Brewers

Cheers!

Marc Wisdom

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2011 in Beer

 

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