As a pastry chef, cake is my thing. For years I have collected, written and fine-tuned cake recipes. My notes are always messy, but they all make sense to me. While I don’t typically eat cake, this particular recipe is one I enjoy very much. It uses an acid to neutralize the leavening and with the bitter DIPA and mild buttermilk, the flavors are just perfect. Not too sweet, layers of flavors unfold with each bite.
For my birthday month, I wanted to celebrate with a beer that is special to me. I chose Lizards Mouth from Figueroa Mountain Brewing. It was the first DIPA I can remember tasting. I have very fond memories of visiting their main brewery in Buellton for their 5th Anniversary party, and several other locations around California. It truly is the type of brewery where you feel like family. Lizards Mouth is my favorite beer they make, so it was an easy choice.
On the eve of my 39th birthday, it is a pleasure to share with you one of my favorite recipes!
Prep time: 30 Minutes Yield: 8″ cake or 24 cupcakes
Preheat oven to 350 Prepare 2 – 8″ pans by spraying them with nonstick spray and dust with flour OR put 24 cupcake liners into cupcake pan
2 each Eggs 1 cups Buttermilk 1/2 cup Vegetable Oil 1 tsp Vanilla Extract 2 1/4 cup All purpose flour 2 cups Sugar 3/4 cup Cocoa powder 2 tsp Baking soda 1 tsp Baking powder 1 tsp Salt 1 cup Double IPA beer
Measure each ingredient and place into large mixing bowl.
Using a metal whisk or hand held blender, blend until smooth.
Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula, making sure there are no lumps.
Continue to whisk until smooth.
Pour into 2 prepared 8″ pans or scoop evenly into 24 cupcake liners. *Batter will be really runny
Bake at 350 F until fully baked. About 16 minutes for cupcakes, and about 34 minutes for the 8″ cakes. You can tell the “doneness” by sticking a toothpick in the center of each cake. When you pull it out, if the pick is clean, cake is done. If it is smudged with batter, leave it in oven and check every few minutes.
Allow to cool to room temperature and ice with your favorite icing. I use a Swiss meringue buttercream, but really this cake would go great with anything!
Chef Julia San Bartolome has been a professional pastry chef for 20 years, and has a passion for cooking with beer. Owner and pastry chef of Sweet Arleen’s in Westlake Village (known for winning Cupcake Wars on Food Network 3 times) she spends her mornings baking fresh cakes and cupcakes, and her evenings sampling all the craft beer she can get her hands on. email Julia@sweetarleens.com ig @mommybeerest
We recommended our favorite new beer book in the gift guide. Now we’re taking a more in depth look with a discussion with Drink Better Beer‘s author Joshua Bernstein. Joshua is a Brooklyn-based beer, spirits, food and travel journalist, as well as an occasional tour guide, event producer and industry consultant.
Since 2000, he’s written for scores of newspapers, magazines and websites, including The New York Times, Bon Appétit, Men’s Journal, New York, Saveur, Wine Enthusiast and Imbibe, where he’s a contributing editor in charge of beer coverage.
Joshua is the author of five books, including Brewed Awakening, The Complete Beer Course, Complete IPA, Homebrew World, and his newest book Drink Better Beer, published in September 2019. He is an expert on beer, but he highlights a range of other beer experts in this new book including competition judges, beer consultants, and master brewers. Together they’ll help you make sense of the ever changing and expanding world of craft beer.
What’s an experience you had with one of the people featured in the book that stands out?
Hands down, I was blown away by chatting with Dr. Hoby Wedler, a blind sensory specialist. Our eyesight drives so much of what we take in with beer, from the way it looks to how it’s poured, the label, the foam and, well, the Instagram pic. But our eyesight is not our trustiest sense. We can see the moon, Dr. Wedler said, but do we know what the moon smells like? What it feels like to walk there? Same goes for beer. Our eyes might draw us to a beer, but what’s more important is the fragrance we sniff, the liquid that passes over our lips and slides into our stomach. We need to pay attention to all forms of sensory intake.
It’s a gorgeous book. Can you tell us about the design process, and about how you rounded up the great photos?
As I often tell folks, nobody ever picks up a book and says, “My, those are are beautiful words!” I wanted to the book to look as good as it read, which meant a few things. First, I created the book’s text architecture—chapters, sidebars, profiles, boxes, etc.—that the designer used to create a layout. Then I reached out to first-rate photographers to complement the copy with great imagery, a winning one-two-three combo of words, design and imagery.
Has the way you personally see and interact with beer changed since you started writing this book?
I’ve been reminded that no two beer drinkers are alike. We all have different entry points into beer—Busch Light at 17 for me, jumping on a backyard trampoline in suburban Ohio—while other folks might be starting off with a hazy double IPA, or maybe a pastry stout of some sort. Are you happy with the beer you’re drinking? Great! That’s what matters, no need to yuck someone’s yum. We all sit at different points on beer wheels forever spinning around to different flavors, styles and experiences. I might have spun several 360s, but that doesn’t make me any better or worse—or worthy of judging you. And no matter what beer you’re drinking, I’m sure we can find a common ground for conversation.
You worked with loads of beer experts for this book including doctors and master cicerones. Who really blew you away with their knowledge?
Instead of a single person, I was struck by Allagash Brewing’s sensory department. I spent a day at the brewery in Portland, Maine, sitting through Allagash’s rigorous sensory panels that ensure each and every beer tastes great, time and time again, with no off flavors, unwanted aromas, infection or carbonation that’s far too vigorous. As a writer, it’s easy to simply celebrate the brewers, but it’s the behind-the-scenes team team that makes a brewery hum along at a high level.
When talking with the beer experts featured in the book, what was your biggest “ah ha moment”?
Ten years ago, beer drinkers were obsessed with bitterness—the more IBUs the better, double IPAs abrasive enough to darn near scrape the enamel off your teeth. IPAs have since evolved to show their softer, fruitier side, but there’s been another kind of insidious creep: the dry hop. I spoke to Oregon State University’s Dr. Tom Shellhammer, one of America’s top hop experts, about brewers doubling, tripling and even quadrupling their dry-hopping regimen, seeking to boost flavor and aroma. That’s awesome in theory. In reality, adding all that plant material can cause big problems. Did you know that hops contain fermentable sugars that yeast can feast upon, elevating alcohol percentages and potentially creating unwanted off flavors, such as diacetyl? Yeah, me neither. Excess doesn’t always equal excellence, especially with IPAs.
What’s changed in the beer world since you hit send on the final draft of the book?
More breweries closed, more breweries were purchased. Could I have predicted that a Japanese-owned company would buy Colorado’s New Belgium? Heck no. But nothing surprises me, even as hard seltzer continues to bubble across the country, slushy machines slowly churning inside brewery taprooms snuggled inside strip malls, stouts drawing inspiration from the far reaches of dessert menus. Everything is fair game, which makes for a wild, and wildly flavorful, future.
Welcome one, welcome all, to a brand-new interview series we’re starting up here at BeerSelfie. While we’re all fans of beers of many and varied styles, we also like to focus in on the personal aspect of the craft beer scene. To that end, this interview series will be to help learn a little bit more about some of our fellow froth fans. Today, we’re talking with Patrick Morgan, who you may be more familiar with as @BeardedTortuga.
BeerSelfie: Please introduce yourself, and how you find yourself a part of the Craft Beer community. Patrick Morgan: My name is Patrick Morgan, and I’m a Community Manager for New Belgium Brewing working with the Voodoo Ranger Brand Family.
I found myself in the Craft Community through various ways. I’ve always been a big fan of Craft since my first Fat Tire and Dead Guy back in 2005. From there, my education in craft grew. I have always been a Graphic Designer and worked in the cycling industry which translated well to the cycling and outdoor nature of New Belgium’s ethos, as well as my own personal knowledge as a craft drinker. I was a Graphic Designer at New Belgium for 4.5 yrs until I was moved to a Community Manager role in the Voodoo Family focusing on the Gaming/esports/fandom/eventing and content creation communities.
BeerSelfie: Seems like quite an interesting journey that enabled you to follow your passions. With your focus – today – being on esports and conventions like PAX – how do those differ from the “regular” beer events? Patrick Morgan: These events differ in a few ways. First of all, the gaming and esports worlds are very leery of advertising., which is totally understandable. These events are not a logo play (which is all many brands look for) but more about making experiences for the community. Things like meetups for content creators, after parties and partnering with other brands like Hyper X and Top Golf to put on unique events and provide a fully baked experience for the consumer. In other words, we just want to party with people who love the same thing as us. Beer, Video Games and the Internet.
BeerSelfie: Up top, you mentioned your first Fat Tire and Dead Guy in 2005 – how did your journey into craft beer get started? Patrick Morgan: Well, when a mommy beer and an daddy beer get together…
My journey started a year out of college when I finally had a “real” job, so no more Natty Light for me! One of my friends said “Fat Tire is coming to Chicago!” I had no clue what that was but he was insistent that we go to this ONE bar in Chicago, the only bar that served it that first weekend. It was a piano bar that was literally a Bachelorette Party bar, but they were serving buckets of Fat Tire. So my friend and I went, stood in line for about an hour and grabbed a back table at this piano bar and drank our Fat Tires all while Bachelorette parties were singing to the ceiling. From that day, I was on my Craft Beer Journey, trying everything I could get my hands on. That led to throwing parties every other week where everyone brought a new craft beer and played Halo.
BeerSelfie: From buckets at a bachelorette bar to throwing parties at gaming events – quite the journey! What have you found to be the most enjoyable thing about craft beer and the community that has grown around it? Patrick Morgan: That craft breweries in general are really all a big family trying to figure this all out together. Collaborations run rampant and are a blast. It’s a physical embodiment of – and way to share – this like-minded love for the beer industry.
BeerSelfie: Sort of the “together we stand” approach, which is awesome to see. Since you’ve joined the community, how have you seen it grow and/or change? Patrick Morgan:The community has changed in various ways, both good and bad for the industry. Growth exploded as we saw an increase in money-making in the industry, which brought craft and local to the forefront.
On the other hand, growth explosions always have a downturn at some point. We’re also currently see the climate of the industry starting to run a bit flat. On top of that, the breweries have a new problem to handle – craft drinkers have SO many options these days that the general craft drinker tries everything, is very curious and can have a hard time sticking with just one beer or brand.
Back on a more positive note, we are seeing a great movement in the industry, really trying hard to be more inclusive. It’s historically had the stigma of it being all bearded white dudes -and the bearded white dudes are actively trying to change that for a much more inclusive and better community.
BeerSelfie: As a member of the “bearded white dude” group, I for one have been very excited to see how welcoming the community has been, and meeting (at least, digitally) a wide variety of folks I would have never otherwise met. How do you see social media playing into (and influencing) the craft beer “scene” ? Patrick Morgan: Social Media in the craft beer scene plays a massive role. It’s really the only way that breweries can get new beer info and events out to the public when you consider that we don’t play in traditional media.
The approach to social media in craft has also been changing drastically in the last year or two. No more are the glamour beer shots – it’s all about being a lifestyle and telling your story of the beer.
Looking more inward to the industry itself, social media has created some – if not most – of the collaborations we have today, since that is where employees, brewers and marketers connect.
BeerSelfie: Yeah – like it or leave it, social media is definitely a large part of the craft beer scene. For one, it’s a great way to learn about stuff you’ve never heard of, and get recommendations. What is your “Go To” brew that you reach for?
Patrick Morgan: I know this might sound biased but it truly is not: Voodoo Ranger Juicy Haze. I find it goes with every food I could put it with, easy enough to drink on the couch while chilling or hanging at the pinball arcade on the weekends. Light enough to not feel full like most and laid back enough on the hops that I don’t have a pucker face.
BeerSelfie: Hey, no harm in loving the products from your own brand. Frankly, I’m a big fan of the Voodoo Ranger lineup myself. So, you’ve got yourself covered, you know what you like. When you’ve got someone asking you for a recommendation, what’s the first one that comes to mind? Patrick Morgan: When it comes to New Belgium. I think everyone should try Voodoo Ranger Imperial. Sounds intimidating but its crazy far from that. In fact most people prefer it to a normal IPA even though it technically is hoppier and higher in ABV. If you can get your hands on Oakspire and/or La Folie, those really show our range.
BeerSelfie: Ok, you’re showing some range there! Let’s stretch things out a little bit more – you’re mixing up a sweet 6-pack for a trade – what’s going in the box that you’re sending out? Patrick Morgan: I’m gonna be wicked biased here:
The Hemperor (Dank AF! Also not legal in Kansas which is kinda badass)
BeerSelfie: No problem with that – and if you want to send me that sixer, just let me know! You’ve been around the craft community for quite awhile now. If you had one piece of advice to someone jumping into craft beer community – in whatever capacity – what would it be? Patrick Morgan: Go in to learn. It’s ok to not know things. Even brewers who have been in this their whole lives are still learning. It’s what craft was made to do: learn, experiment, collaborate, play, teach, and make a product and community they love and are proud of.
BeerSelfie: Solid advice for us newbies. Now, what about you – who would you go to for advice? In other words, if you could sit down and share a beer with anyone – who would it be? Patrick Morgan: Barack Obama – and I’d bring along Coors Banquet (cause it just feels like the right type of beer). I just want to hear him talk about his family, dog and sports.
BeerSelfie: I like it – totally down to earth (in multiple respects). Last, but not least – what’s in your glass today? Patrick Morgan: I truthfully have a taster of Atomic Pumpkin right here! It’s snowing today, need to make things warmer.
And with that, Patrick Morgan made me very envious, as I never found the Atomic Pumpkin here locally. That aside, I’m super thankful to him for taking the time to work through the interview questions with me, and help to get this new series kicked off. If you’ve got any reccomendations for who we should talk to next, hit us up on the contact form and let us know!
I found the perfect Thanksgiving Day beer! Roadhouse Brewing’s Outcasty Porter is brewed with roasted sweet potatoes. Beginning as a pumpkin beer, Outcasty was reimagined as a Sweet Potato Porter after an early winter freeze created a pumpkin shortage. The clever twist resulted in a unique and superior outcome.
Utilizing one ton of house-roasted sweet potatoes in the brewing process, Roadhouse enlisted CES (Community Entry Services) to help with peeling the innumerable potatoes. A long-term partner of Roadhouse, CES is dedicated to empowering those with disabilities to help them live productive and satisfying lives in the community.
Roadhouse Brewing co-founder Colby Cox described this latest version of Outcasty, “When reimagining this beer with our Head Brewer and Experimental Brewer, we really wanted to emphasize the natural flavors of the sweet potato so we decided to remove the spice additions. What we landed on after multiple iterations was a beer with all the essence of fall and none of the nonsense of the classic ‘holiday beers.’ It’s dry, warming and drinkable in quantity – but too many over the Thanksgiving table might lead to rich truths best left unsaid!”
I found Outcasty to be an excellent porter with a mild, dark malt nose with a hint of coffee. The flavor brought dark chocolate up front with a smooth, rich caramel finish. Honestly, I doubt I could have named the sweet potato addition if I didn’t know about it going in, but I think I could pick it out from the usual porter flavors. There seemed to be a bit of unexpected earthiness and a nice richness that may not have been there otherwise. This is the perfect addition to a big Thanksgiving meal!
I couldn’t decide on one favorite beer from 2019, so I narrowed it down to two. Although, I could probably choose at least three more! 2019 was a good year for beer. The two I picked are both Michigan brews. Old Nation’s Strawberry M-43 is every bit like the original just with an added punch of strawberry. Perrin’s Pineapple Upside Down IPA was phenomenal. Pretty sure I bought like seven six packs. I just couldn’t get enough of it! It was velvety, smooth with loads of pineapple.
I pondered this question for quite a while. My favorite beer…. what one beer stood out amongst the rest? I’ve had so many incredible beers this year that it felt nearly impossible to choose. Then I looked closer at the question. Perhaps “favorite” doesn’t have to be judged by flavor alone. Perhaps other factors such as experience play into it as well. Then it hit me.
Just last week I returned from a pilgrimage to Belgium, the home of Lambic beers. While I was there, I had numerous beers that blew my mind, however one stood out above the rest.
One night, my friend and I were in Bruges at a bar called Le Trappiste. We were joined by a Chocolateir friend we made the previous night. When scanning the sour menu, one beer carried a hefty price of 50 euros. I asked the bartender why it was so expensive. He said, “I have never been lucky enough to try it myself, but many have told me that this is one of the best beers they’ve ever had. It’s special. It’s not a casual beer.” Of course at that point, I knew I had to try it.
This beer is called Framboise Lambiek from Geuzestekerij De Cam. The second this beer touched my lips, I was in love. It was sour, funky, and flavorful. The raspberry came through beautifully without overpowering the beer. It was absolute magic. And to top it off, I was sharing it with one of my best friends, a new friend, and the bartender in a beautiful Trappist bar in Belgium. It was a special experience and that is why Framboise Lambiek was a favorite beer of 2019.
I smirked when I read this question and immediately replied in my head “Double Dry Hopped Space Diamonds” from Other Half Brewing. You never forget hat first sip, so if you’ve had the luxury of trying this specific beer from Other Half then you know!
Without question, my absolute favorite beer this calendar year was Tampa Heights-based Hidden Springs Ale Works’ Darkness in the Light, and not solely for the fact that this barrel-aged imperial stout with cookies and cream — think dense and silky with the slightest edge of seductive, tongue-coating bourbon; amounting to utter and unequivocal liquid Oreo — could turn even the most reluctant stout-phobic into a devotee. Not solely neither, for the fact that shortly after acquiring one bottle post-release, I placed a phone call requesting another six; nor for the fact that its label — designed by Tampa Bay artist and illustrator Arielle Katarina — is absolutely, stunningly RAD. Darkness in the Light is my favorite beer more so for the fact that after receiving those six additional bottles, I became dedicated to cracking them in as many zip codes-, atop as many kitchen countertops, at the back of as many breweries-, and with as many friends- as humanly possible. Over the past year, it’s served as both an endowment and a bridge; and just as many stories, laughs, and moments were shared over those bottles as were respective pours and sips. It doesn’t get better than that.
Picking just one beer from the whole year is tough, so I’m going with the beer I recommended the most this year, Allagash’s Farm to Face. Since it’s brewed as a pale pale before being inoculated with bacteria and peaches it has more body and complexity than other American sours making it a great starting point for people just getting into mixed fermentation beer or looking for something special to share. It’s one of the few beers that has captured that fresh peach essence for me. Notes of pie crust from the malt complement the tart, tangy peach and apple flavors, perfect for sipping slowly and enjoying outside!
My favorite beer of 2019 was definitely Silver Moon Brewing’s F* Cancer. Not only was it a solid IPA, but it brought people together for a great cause.
It is a cause I’m personally affected by as I have been going through treatment for Papillary Thyroid Cancer since last year. A friend I met on Instagram was kind enough to send me 2 cans because I was unable to find it locally, but then a taproom actually had a tap takeover. By the time I got to the event, the taproom was packed and they completely sold out of hats and shirts. I was lucky enough to snag a pint glass. Every time I drink out of it, I will be reminded of the fact that I’m kicking cancer’s ass!
It’s an absolute toss-up this year between the return of one of my favorite variants, Old Nation’s Strawberry M-43, and a total surprise from Untitled Art and Angry Chair, the absolutely fantastic Cookies and Cream stout. These beers are polar opposites, one being a juicy hop bomb with an incredible, sweet strawberry jam finish, and the other a smooth, dark stout that tastes exactly like a boozy liquid Oreo cookie. I’d like to think the duality of my pick represents some deeper duality in myself, an equal appreciation for disparate flavor profiles and absolute aesthetic difference. Honestly though, I’m just bad at making decisions. Cheers.
My favorite beer in 2019 has to be “Mint Condition,” an American Imperial Stout from Bottle Logic in Anaheim, Calif.
It’s not some highly-sought after beer, but mint chocolate chip is my favorite ice cream and it was my first sip of Bottle Logic. I was amazed at how vivid the mint chocolate chip taste came through, and At a boozy 12.2% abv, you know I felt warm and fuzzy after sippin’ it.
My 2019 beer of the year with out a doubt came from one of my favourite breweries! Sawdust City Brewing up in Gravenhurst, Ontario. They came up with a 52 week challenge. 1 new beer a week! With one of the brewers leaving, who previously created a hot seller called Juicin’ a NEIPA, he decided to up the ante and create a bad ass 9% New England Style double IPA called Super Juicin! It sold out online within hours and it was worth the price! So by far my favourite of 2019 was Super Juicin’! So check out Sawdust City because they make damn good beer and hopefully Super Juicin comes back!
The beer for 2019 for me was “Lightworks” from Laylow Brewery, a Trinidadian-inspired Belgian wit with hibiscus.
The “Lightworks” witbier from Laylow Brewery is a year round offering on tap at the brewery, and named after an MF Doom song of the same name. The beer is heavily inspired by Trinidadian culture. The team at Laylow have partnered with Trinidadian chef, Young Animal, and, given MF Doom has a Trinidadian background, the team were moved to make a beer that spoke to this culture. Ever had a “sorrel”? That’s right, the Trinidadian hibiscus tea is the inspiration for this delicate Belgian wit – it’s an incredibly refreshing offering that is perfect for day drinking, especially with its friendly 4.6% ABV.
Pouring a pleasant, slightly hazy pink with a little head that dissipates quickly, the hibiscus wit comes with mildly fruity, floral, and spicy aromas. The nose is followed by an amazingly refreshing tasting beer: mild tart, muted sweet, subtle spice, and all in it’s neatly contained light body. This is easy to drink, and absolutely delicious, I must say. It’s taste more than lives up to the exciting colour.
I can’t decide between the two, but both were beers I’ve had on my wish list for years that I finally got to try this year.
New Glarus Brewing Company’s Wisconsin Belgian Red.
And Russian River Brewing Company’s Pliny the Elder.
Both lived up to the extensive hype and then some. Everything I hoped and dreamed for! The latter was shared with Taylor (aka @mylovelyladyhops) who also popped her Pliny cherry with me at the same share!
Combustible Pineapple? Why that name? The can definitely did the name justice, but in a landscape of can-art over selling the actual liquid product, I felt the need to investigate further. With a skeptical mind-set, I crack the can. Let’s get it crack-can…Off the bat my nose filled with the aroma of fresh cut pineapple straight from Star Corridor! Time to taste. As the liquid pineapple beer juice flowed down my inner neck regions, I caught a sweetness on the midsections of my tongue, with a slight bitterness on the back end. As I exhaled stomach air outward my largest face hole, there was a very noticeable vanilla air accent. I would guess this beer has lactose present. I look at the can, and BINGO! This Pineapple Milkshake IPA is all that It claimed and more! At 7.5 abv, you’ll definitely have a greatest than average night. We’ll let that be our little secret.
My pick for favorite beer of 2019 is Orlando, FL based Ellipsis Brewing’s Fruit Punch Project with Marshmallow. The original (non marshmallow) was great but the marshmallow adds that warm, sugary vanilla WOW factor to the strong, tart, tropical, tangy fruit punch flavors.
This beer pours a vivid deep glowing red with a light foam head that disappears quickly. This beer came out in the summer and sold out in less than 30 minutes after its release. I have been guiltily holding on to my last can because it’s that good!
Holy cow!! This was a hard one! I’ve had so many wonderful beers this past year. Just so y’all know, Georgia Breweries are killin it! But since y’all made me pick one, I had to go with this one. POG from Scofflaw Brewing Co. was already a favorite of mine so after having this one, hands down had to be my favorite of the year! When they say X2 they mean it.. Masked higher ABV which I love! I highly recommend trying to get your hands on this one if you can! Keep checking on my page to see more amazing local Georgia beers!!
My favorite beer of 2019 was of course a IPA but not any IPA it was a sour IPA with some amazing fruit added. Elon from Kings Brewing Company had lemon peel, vanilla bean, pineapple, hibiscus, cranberry, and pomegranate. The fact the I enjoy both my fruit, sour, and an IPA all in one was orgasmic.
Bell’s Hopslam is one I had recommended to me by a friend, and I’m always looking to try something from my original home state. With the Hopslam, you’ve got a DIPA that lifts the ABV without needing to divert into the juice/citrus flavors we commonly see. Not that those are bad (I enjoy them) but sometimes you want a change of pace. Here, you’ve got a honeyed sweetness that creeps in, balanced with a tartness that comes on the back side of the sip. Combined with a thicker mouthfeel than you might expect, Bell’s Hopslam will definitely twist your expectations for what a higher-ABV IPA can be.
My favorite beer of 2019 is This Time It’s Personal from Asylum Brewing. This simcoe forward DIPA is the closest beer I’ve come across to describe as the PERFECT combination of both hoppy AND delicious. I can easily drink this beer all night!
Greetings fellow comrades in craft. Welcome to yet another
installment of Beerhind the Scenes with Beer Selfie and Traveler’s Beer Log. For
this take, I once again decided to play it close to the vest and visit another
(VERY) local brewery here in my hometown of Lodi, CA. I was thrilled that a
hometown kid like myself could sit down with Grant, the owner of IDOL Beer
Works and talk about all things beer related under the sun. The things I
learned from him were incredible and his perspective on beer, not only in our
region, but across the globe made me that much more excited to do this brewery
justice in this article.
To understand IDOL’s beginning we need to go back before
they opened their doors to the fine folks of Lodi. Grant owned a business
called Flight Lounge in the city of Woodbridge (basically a little mini city
within Lodi). It was a nice spot that specialized in good eats and even better
craft beer options. At the time, it was really the only place in town you could
go and find an extensive selections of good local brews. This was the first
time Grant could display his true passion for all things beer. Being born and
raised in Scotland, he joked with me and said this long love of beer started
very young and could be credited to “Always being around Rugby clubs growing
up”. He knew that he wanted to start pushing the beer (more importantly CRAFT
beer) scene into the city of Lodi. What he didn’t know was if the people here
would be accepting of it.
It goes without saying (but G dangit I’m going to say it anyways) that opening up a place that centralizes it’s drink offerings around craft beer took guts. We are in the heart of wine country out here after all. My city alone is home to some of the best grown Zinfandel in the world (no that is not an exaggeration). So it’s safe to say that Grant’s hesitation about the reception of beer here was warranted. However, the beer was welcomed with open arms. So after owning Flight Lounge for a while he started to think about how to take this beer passion even further. He had been homebrewing and studying beer for quite some time, so he felt the only natural next step would be to open up a legitimate craft brewery here in town. So that’s exactly what he did.
Not only was Grant born and raised in Scotland until coming to the states at the age of 23, but he also lived in Austria for 10 years. Gee, rough life. It was here where he began to realize something very important about the beer industry: Germany knows what the heck they’re doing when it comes to making beer. While living in the land of hops and dreams, he became even MORE smitten with beer (somehow his smitten meter wasn’t already full) when he got more involved with the German processes of making beer. We’re talking about a country with a 1,000 year history of this beautiful fermented beverage. He fell head over heels for their scientific, precise approach to brewing that – in Grant’s opinion – has allowed their styles and breweries to remain unflappable and stand the test of time. You can see a lot of German influence in Grant’s beer at IDOL from a lot of the beer being unfiltered to the fermentation times and lengths he goes to for certain styles. There is a lot of passion, and a WHOLE LOT of commitment, research, and experimentation put into his hopped up babies. And boy howdy does it all pay off in the end result.
When I got to the brewery, I wasn’t quite sure where the questions and conversations were going to lead us. I try to ask more general, open ended questions and hope that through those more poignant, specific questions will come out as we talk more. This was certainly the case with Grant’s and my conversation. After warming up, we got further and further into the idea of where the craft beer movement is heading. How he believes that small (and sometimes not so small) craft breweries are seen as “piranha that the big domestics are scared of and will do anything to keep them at bay”. He then told me about the principles he based his brewery off of. He calls them the 3 C’s: Craft, Community, and Culture. All of these areas are covered extensively with this place. He’s opened up a brewery that is so involved with our community that I can only liken it to him having his hands in the dirt of our town. His tilling is bringing out the best and shows just what this little place has to offer to the world. If I can be frank, I suggest that he adds another C to that vision. It stands for Charity. IDOL has raised tens of thousands of dollars for charities across the board. Most recently, he raised funds for the Operation Restored Warrior Project. His goal for his brewery is to always do things right and that goes for the execution of his beer as well as the engagement within the community. Speaking of beer, that’s what we got to talking about next. I asked him what his initial goal was for IDOL and it’s beer. His answer was simple yet sincere: “I just had the goal that when you taste my beer, I want it to be an excursion. I want all of the flavors to hit you in a way that you don’t see them coming”. Well, speaking from personal experience with his brews he accomplished that and then some. While we’re were on subject… Let’s talk about the BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEER.
I tried 4 beers brewed by Grant and his right hand brewer James themselves. Each one was better than the last and the first was pretty dang great to begin with! To start off I tried the Hazzelicious, a 7% NEIPA with a little extra haze thrown in there. Incredibly refreshing with the up-front bitterness being matched with a lighter haze that makes you want to keep tipping your glass to your mouth till there’s nothing left but the faint memory of a great beer. It was smooth, well rounded, and delicious. Seeing that my glass needed some liquid rejuvenation. Grant then poured me a couple tasters to wet my whistle while I was choosing my next full glass. One of the tasters was the Ballistic Leprechaun. This is one intense Irish Strong Red Ale, but not in the way that you’d think. At 12.3% you’d assume it’d feel like getting smacked by a shillelagh stick square in the noggin, but instead it comes off as an unbelievably smooth ride. My first question to Grant was if it was barrel aged because it has this amazing caramelized malt forwardness and was a just a touch sweet so I assumed it had taken a nap in some type of barrel at some point. Nope. Just an extremely well executed, unfiltered red ale that pours a beautiful deep copper color. No boozy heaviness. No cloying sweetness. The second taster had the acclaimed Double Image DIPA in there. It’s basically like IPA candy. A smooth, thick-ish body is accompanied by a surprising – yet very welcomed – light sweetness on the back end. Let’s not forgot how well those hops work off of everything! Bitter and biting in the best kind of way. I finished my drinking excursion with a full cup of the Dragon My Ass. A dragonfruit cream ale that has a really neat backstory to it. I won’t fill this paragraph up with that, but if you’re ever in the brewery you can try your luck and ask Grant about it. The beer itself is pretty unique. I told him it was so balanced I couldn’t tell when the floral hop profile stopped and when the foloral-er, sweet dragonfruit began! Plus it had that textbook, palate coating body that all Cream Ales should have. It was like I was caught in some amazingly twisted twilight zone episode about beer. And I would’ve stayed there forever had the beer in my glass not run out. The color is also GORGEOUS. I wrapped up the interview with my thirst quenched and my head full of ideas for the article.
As I walked away from the brewery I was a little nervous about doing this man and his brewery justice with my writing. I mean, I have so many paragraphs to fit all of this into. He had so much knowledge to drop and my fingers could only type so fast (especially when delicious beers are involved). With everything I learned from Grant I was worried I’d be unable to put all those things into words and that his true intentions and sincerity would get lost somewhere between the tips of my fingers and the keys on my laptop. I can only hope that I’ve recounted what an awesome, informative experience this was for me and how grateful I am to Grant and the folks at IDOL for having me. I can’t wait to see what they have cooking for the next couple months. Grant did tell me about a few new beers they’re working on. When I asked him if he could tell me anything about them he smirked and swiftly replied, “No”. Alright then… keep your secrets. As soon as I get word of those new beers dropping I’m heading over there ASAP. If you’re ever in our small town and are looking for some gooooood beer, you have to make a stop at IDOL. Come inside, enjoy good company and get the chance to talk with Grant. He’s quiet and humble but is passionate enough to let his genius slip through the more you talk with him (the more beer he drinks also helps). Thanks for tuning it! Till next time y’all, cheers and onward for beer!
Jordan works in the alcohol distribution industry and has a passion for family, writing, and all things beer (both drinking and brewing it). You can find him on Instagram: @travelersbeerlog
Cranberry relish is an approachable and festive treat that can be used in many applications. Unlike its’ “jellied sauce” cousin, the flavors are fresh and not overly sugary while offering a freeform texture.
In this recipe, you will find a balance of fruit and sweetness that allows the beer flavors to be highlighted. The Belgian style golden ale I used was PranQster from North Coast Brewing. This particular beer is special to me, as it was my “gateway beer” into craft beer. Five years ago, I took a road trip up the California coast to Fort Bragg and got a taste right from the Source. I got lucky and found myself eating lunch at the bar, next to the Head Brewer and creator, and fell even more in love with the beer and brewery. PranQster is great for cooking, as it enhances fruity flavors while its delicate yeast strains create a complexity that make you want to keep coming back for more.
Served over cream cheese and with stone ground crackers, the Cranberry Relish will make a great appetizer at your Thanksgiving Gathering
Prep Time: 30 minutes Yield: about 2 cups
12 ounces Fresh Cranberries, roughly chopped 12 ounces Belgian Golden Ale Beer 3-4 sprigs Fresh Thyme 1 large Fresh Apple (I used honeycrisp, but any apple will work) 1 each Fresh Orange, juiced 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt 2 Tbsp Honey
1. Slowly simmer the berries and beer together with fresh thyme sprigs. Allow to reduce until all liquid is gone. Remove thyme twigs and allow to cool to room temperature. 2. Remove core from apple and cut into chunks, placing into a jar (if you are using an immersion blender) or into bowl of a food processor with blade attachment. 3. Squeeze juice of 1 orange into the mixture and add honey and salt. 4. Puree until a gritty pulp is formed. Keep chilled in airtight container
Cheers and welcome fellow craft beer lovers. This is a series that’s meant to highlight small, local breweries with unique beginnings owned by people with standout personalities who are brewing incredible beer. I’ve brought it upon myself – and BeerSelfie – to go around interviewing breweries to get their story. As we all know, behind every great beer is an even better story.
In this series debut I decided to travel 15 minutes north of my small NorCal town to the even SMALLER city of Galt, California. A rustic, rural, agriculturally savvy community that has a long lasting farming history, but not so much a beer one. Thankfully, a man and his wife set out to change that 5 years ago.
Now, this write up will be a tad different than others I plan
on doing. River Rock is at the tail end of their new expansion so that means
there’s no pictures of the space in here. Just the delicious beer I had the
privilege of trying. But before we get to the beers, let’s talk about how this
brewery came to be because g dang it’s quite the tale.
Several years ago, born and raised Galtonians Ed and his wife
Shery had the idea to open up a brewery in their hometown. Ed had been home
brewing for a little under two years at that point and had gotten enough
encouragement from friends to start up his own space. I’m not going to get into
specifics on this but when he finally did open his brewery doors, people were
less than thrilled about it. Not because of the beer or the man behind the
beard. It was the name. I’m sure you that some of you have heard the story. It
was kind of national news at the time. People were upset. Tempers were hot, and
it showed. It all came to a head one early morning back in 2016.
Ed and Sherry were cleaning out the brewery after a typical
open night when they heard glass shatter near them. As they went to investigate
the realized that someone had thrown rocks from the local river through their
brewery window, undoubtedly by a person upset with their name choice (yes,
people were THAT mad). Tired, frustrated, and fed up with the backlash, the
married couple started to clean up the mess. As Sherry was sweeping up glass
and continued to trip over the rocks that were thrown she suddenly yelled out
“Well if we stay open or start a new brewery we might as well name it River
Rock!” They stopped. Both looked at each other with the same spark in their
eyes and said without saying, “That’s actually not a bad idea”. Those rocks,
which started as a spiteful act of vandalism, had been reborn like a phoenix
from the ash and broken glass of their brewery floor into the new inspiration
of a fresh start.
Cut to the interview. The newly dubbed River Rock Brewery had been open for a little while when they decided that they needed a bigger space. It is a brewery AND homebrew store after all. That’s where I come in. I reached out to Ed (not THE Ed, another Ed who works at the brewery) and was able to schedule some time to come sit down with the folks of River Rock and chat over some beer. As I met Ed outside and walked in I was greeted by about 7 or 8 people. Some were workers and others were friends who have been helping them get the new space set up for the opening in December. I made my rounds, shook hands, and sat down at the *newly installed* bar. The man standing on the other side? Ed, the owner himself. A guy with a beard (not made of hops, unfortunately) wearing a grin and worn out River Rock hat.
Bless Ed’s (and everyone’s) heart for dealing with my questions because I asked a slew of them. After the first initial inquiries by me we all just got to talking. Telling stories about brewing, people we know, other local breweries that I need to try out (boy did I get quite the list from everyone!) and even broke down some of the official titles of everyone who works there. Then I got to pick Ed’s brain about his process and inspiration behind some of the beers. Just one small town guy with a wealth of knowledge talking to another small town guy who loves to learn about all things beer. And speaking of beer, let’s talk about it already!
The first beer I tried was their Red Rye Rocker, a rye IPA. Absolutely what you look for with a rye beer. There was that nice, warm chewiness from the rye that was married with a spicy hop bitterness that plays perfectly with it. Delicious, crisp, and a beautifully rich, deep copper color. Next, I tried their Leee Roy Brown (yes, it has 3 E’s y’all). A super flavorful brown ale that would fool even the most avid beer drinker into thinking it was a porter. Packing a huge nutty chocolate one-two punch, the clean up is done by the incredibly smooth body and tasty coffee notes at the end. Lastly, I had one of the most well-known and loved beers done by them: Burn Yur Butt. A ridiculously complex Jalepeno Amber Ale. On the nose it’s 100% spicy jalepenos that are jalepen-yo face (which honestly made me nervous to drink it). But as soon as this amber colored liquid hit my lips I instantly freaked out. NO. HEAT. I’ve tried quite a few jalepeno browns and ambers in my day. This is by far the best executed in my opinion. Ed could tell I was concentrating after each sip, waiting and waiting for that sudden burst of hot pepper to torch my taste buds and he eventually chuckled and said, “There’s no heat. Trust me.” Boy was he right. A beer with incredible depth: malt that provides a very sturdy body, hops that enhance the spicy notes the pepper should be providing. Now don’t get me wrong, there is a little kick. But the hops make it palatable. Such a well done beer with an intense amount of warmth that was only matched by the warmth I felt from all those folks at the brewery that night. Plus I heard a local restaurant uses that beer in the batter for some fish tacos so you know where I’m taking my wife on our next date night.
As I left the brewery I couldn’t help but think about how lucky I was for that experience. I thanked the River Rock crew endlessly as I left but I still didn’t feel like it was enough to show them what their hospitality meant to me. Then I realized that this is just what they were about. Here’s a local guy who started his city’s FIRST brewery and has no desire of expanding into multiple cities or distributing outside of 50 miles or so from his area. In his own words, he just wants “A place that people want to come and hang out at in Galt”. Well he’s definitely created that. Not only does this place brew some incredible beer, they’re a certified home brew store. They host taco Tuesdays featuring tacos made from a local spot. Sundays are for people to come together and watch football. There’s also comedy nights, trivia, and future home brew workshops that will be hosted. This place screams local and community engagement. It’s what small spots like this around here are all about. I know that California is home to some of the best breweries in the nation, but it’s places like this that really deserve some time in the spotlight. I’m making it my personal mission to find these spots and give them the credit they deserve. Thank you so much to the gang at River Rock. They open their doors officially on December 1st. With beers cold enough to get you in the door and smiles warm enough to make you want to stay past closing, this is a spot that you MUST come and support if you’re ever in the Sacramento area. They’re brewing some fantastic stuff and their space is going to look incredible. Till next time y’all! Cheers, and remember: Onward for beer!
Jordan works in the alcohol distribution industry and has a passion for family, writing, and all things beer (both drinking and brewing it). You can find him on Instagram: @travelersbeerlog
I’m not sure I could pick just one. Just as I like to constantly be trying new beers, I also like to experiment with fun new cocktail ideas, so of course beer cocktails are no different.
If I’m honest , my go to cocktail is probably a margarita and in the past I’ve experimented with beer cocktails using a sour Gose because the salt and the tart just lends itself so perfectly for that combination. But now a days there are a lot of blurred lines between the beer and cocktail world and many beers out there sound more like cocktails than beers. So I decided to experiment with a new recipe.
I decided to make a Gin Fizz using Other Half Brewings Ramos Gin Fizz, a 6.8% Berliner Weisse with gin botanicals, orange blossom water, lemons, limes and milk sugar.
Of course with a name like that it was an obvious connection, but I find when making a beer cocktail, picking a cocktail that has some sort of soda in it is an easy way to incorporate the beer. Simply sub out the soda for the beer and your drink will still have all the right proportions and carbonation with just some added flavors (and alcohol) from the beer.
The recipe for this Gin Fizz was:
4 ounces Sour Beer (Other Half’s ‘Ramos Gin Fizz’ Berliner Weisse) 2 ounces good quality Gin 1 ounce lemon juice 1 ounce simple syrup 1 egg white Carnation for garnish (optional) (Serves: 2)
Divide the beer evenly amongst the glasses. (Roughly 2 ounces per drink depending on the size of your glass)
Add the remaining ingredients (except the garnish) to a shaker, without ice. Shake vigorously for 1 minute. This makes the egg white nice and foamy.
Add ice to the shaker and shake again for another minute. Strain into your glasses with beer.
Garnish with an edible flower, lemon wheel, or anything else you think looks pretty!
I love the Bee’s Knees cocktail, and any time I have the opportunity to make a cool variation I jump at it, like this Beer-y Bee’s Knees. I know, the name isn’t very creative, but it’s pretty straight forward, just like the cocktail. I used the traditional gin and lemon juice base then, added in some strawberries when crafting the honey syrup to give it a little seasonal kick; the hardest decision was, what beer to use to top it off. I ended up with the Founders MÀS AGAVE, because it had more going on than your regular lager, and contributed to the final product. The bitterness worked deliciously, sitting on top of the cocktail and balancing everything with each sip I took.
1.5 ounces Gin
1 ounce Lemon Juice
½ ounce Honey Strawberry Simple Syrup
Top with Founders MÀS AGAVE (approx.. 2 ounces)
Combine all ingredients, except beer, in a cocktail shaker with ice
A Hispanic twist on a beermosa, with one part orange juice to four parts Saison (in my case Saison DuPont) with a squeeze of lime, a rim of Tajin spice, and an extra lime slice for aesthetics. The orange juice mellows the natural pink peppercorn spice of the Saison. The lemon hint that you normally would taste from Saison DuPont, compliments the citrus of the orange juice and the spice of Tajin. The lime adds additional acidity, and blends with the salt from the Tajin just enough. Finally, you can add the dregs from the bottom of the DuPont bottle to bring out an additional layer of complexity of slight bready flavors. I have also had friends add hot sauce to give this a kick, but even for a spice-lover like myself, I can take it or leave it.
Start by pouring some chamoy and tajin on separate sides of a plate…rim the cup with chamoy first,followed by the tajin..it will stick perfectly! Next add some splashes of worcestershire sauce, then 4 or 5 drops of preferred hot sauce..next add clamato …so that about 1/4 of glass is filled….stir well! Finally add Scurveza Mexican Lager brewed by Asylum Brewing until its right below the rim… squeeze some fresh lime and enjoy!
I like a Dark and Stormy IPA. A Dark and Stormy is similar to the popular Moscow Mule, only with dark rum instead of vodka. I like to add some IPA for a craft beer twist.
For the IPA something juicy or citrusy is best to compliment the lime and rum. I like the hop bite the IPA adds, so I prefer something with some bitterness. At 60 IBUs Secret Trail’s Hazy Trail worked great.