Twitter Road to Cicerone #beerchat

Tuesday 15 July, Ray Daniels [see note below if you aren’t familiar with Daniels], held a Twitter #beerchat #RoadtoCicerone. During it he announced their new study program Road to Cicerone®, which was released the next morning. There will be 7 courses available in the Road to Cicerone® Self-paced Instruction for Certified Cicerone® Candidates but for now only the first is available: German Course.

[Check out Ray Daniels at the bottom of this page under “Who started the Cicerone program?“]

I am immensely interested in the German Course and what you get for $99 as I am currently setting up a beer styles study group for a small band of friends. While $99 is kind of pricey so is my time identifying and sourcing beers, researching history of the styles, and so on.

Daniels also took questions regarding studying and other forms of preparation for the Certified Cicerone exam.

Here are some of the things from the #beerchat that I found of importance and/or that I want to comment on [note: these are mostly in order from earliest to latest, but I re-arranged a few where it made sense]:

Steven Ward asks who should take exam and Daniels replies:

Daniel Hartis asks about beer writers:  

Daniel Hartis concedes the point and Ray tells us he started as beer writer:

Douglas Smiley asks about bloggers but I did not, nor could, find a reply.

Beer Styles:

Study partners:  

It sounds like they are trying to make Cicerone.org more of a community, with multiple ways to support each other and, of course, pay for more education. Sounds promising to me. All forms of support are needed in serious studying. This is serious.

How to manage so many styles:

Food and beer pairing:  

Notice the best and worst pairings comment. Why do some pairings not work?

Time required to study:

Someone questioned the “new to beer” comment and Daniels clarified that he truly meant new. I’m not sure why someone that “new” to beer would be jumping into taking the Certified Cicerone but it is possible.

Road to Cicerone courses: As I said above, the Road to Cicerone courses were announced during the Twitter chat.

Certified Cicerone considered “mature professional”:

So it appears based on this and above that Certified Cicerone is considered a professional certification for a “mature beer professional,” which includes exactly … what? Working in the “beer industry” or being a beer writer. Blogger; not sure. Distributor? Why?  On learning beer chemistry:

The bible for draft systems:

Great resource for learning draft systems (not cheap):

— —   After chat:   A while after the chat I retweeted the following and then a tweet of my own commenting on new pricing which led to a short chart with Cicerone (not Ray, but the Cicerone Certification Program account):

That morning someone with Cicerone tweeted that the cost for the Certified Cicerone is going up to $395, which is what my comment above was based on. I cannot find that tweet but here is the relevant section from the Certified Cicerone page:

Exam Cost – Initial test: $345; Retake Tasting: $75; Retake Written: $150.

**Please Note: Effective 9/1/14, the Certified Cicerone exam will be priced at $395. Retake Written $175, and Retake Tasting $100.

I fully understand the cost of professional certifications and have paid for acquiring them, along with having paid dues to professional organizations for decades. I also know no one has to use the Road to Cicerone courses. But if they did? That is 7 x $99 (at pricing for 1st; last not due to 4th qtr 2015) + $395. Or, $1088.00. But you also need the Oxford Companion to Beer. Let’s say a round $1100.

You still have to supply all of the beer.

Do not mistake me. I am not judging. This will be great for many people. Some of the rest of us have the time, knowledge and inclination to do a lot of the research on our own. As I said above, I am immensely interested in what is in the German Course as I am currently designing a beer styles study group using the Certified Beer Server and Certified Cicerone syllabuses, the BJCP style guidelines, the Oxford Companion to Beer, etc. And, lo and behold, German’s are first. Very interested and will probably spring for it as soon as I can afford it.

By the way, after my “after chat” I paid the Cicerone Certification Program $69 and took my Cicerone Program Certified Beer Server exam and passed it. I am not against Cicerone nor giving them money. I do not resent them their fees and I also find them appropriate as compared to other professional organizations. My point is simply that it is a lot (and here I am only speaking of the $395) for someone not in “the industry.”

I also maintain that the Certified Cicerone certification is highly relevant to beer writers, possibly some bloggers, also to serious beer enthusiasts, and to many in the “beer industry” but certainly not all.

Besides myself, I know of several people who are serious beer geeks but are not currently working in “the industry.” Some of us have assorted aspirations along those lines and some don’t. The point is we are highly interested in this certification.

I hope to participate in next week’s follow-up #RoadtoCicerone chat on Tuesday. I intend to ask about the new draft BJCP style guidelines. The changes do effect Cicerone but possibly (probably?) not that much. I am analyzing that info now. There are a couple small areas needing cleared up but that would be easy. I hope to know more by next Tuesday. Before the chat so I can ask intelligent questions during and then hopefully after based on response. [There was a recent press releases from the Cicerone Certification Program stating that they were working with the BJCP regarding style guidelines changes but this was before the release of the draft and had no specifics.]

Michael Jackson’s Beer Companion

Michael Jackson’s beer companion.Jackson, Michael; Running Press 1993WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder

Read 11-24 June 2013

This book, published in 1993, is a bit of a time capsule. While all of these styles are still produced by someone, the beers and breweries featured are not necessarily still produced or in business. The books is lavishly illustrated as are most of Jackson’s books. The initial section, Exploring Beer, gives a little history and discusses ingredients. The heart of the book is the 3/4s of the content where he discusses each style, along with representative beers and breweries for each. Beer and Food discusses cooking with beer, matching beer with food, and features twenty-five recipes which includes several desserts. By the way, while there are a couple of vegetarian dishes the recipes are heavily skewed towards meat. The Reference Section includes the glossary and index, and a gazetteer for hunting the classic brews he mentions (or others). It consists of countries broken down by cities or regions and lists shops, breweries and beer gardens. Again, how many of these are still in business? Nonetheless, this is an interesting and still useful book.

I got this book from OSU Valley Library via Summit. Call no. TP 577.J271 1993.

Contents

    • Exploring beer
      • Never ask for “a beer”…
      • The renaissance of beer
      • A civilized drink
      • Taking a world view
      • Malt
      • Water
      • Herbs, spices and hops
      • Yeast
      • A beer-lover’s calendar
    • Great Beer Styles of the World
      • The lambic family
        • Lambic
        • Gueuze
        • Faro
        • Fruit beer
      • Wheat beers
        • Berliner Weisse
        • South German Weizenbier
        • Belgian wheat beer
      • Ales
        • British styles of ale
          • Mild
          • Bitter
          • Pale ale
          • English brown ale
          • Old ale
          • Barley wine
          • Scottish ale
          • Irish ale
        • Belgian styles of ale
          • Belgian ale
          • Flemish brown ale
          • Belgian red ale
          • Saison
          • Belgian golden ale
          • Trappist beer
        • Bière de garde
        • Altbier
        • Kölsch
        • American ale
        • Adelaide sparkling ale
      • Porters and stouts
        • Porter
        • Dry stout
          • Oyster stout
        • Sweet stout
          • Oatmeal stout
        • Imperial stout
      • Lagers
        • Dark lager
        • Vienna-style, Märzen/Oktoberfestbier
        • Pilsner
        • Dortmunder Export
        • Bock beer
      • Extra specialties
        • Steam beer
        • Smoked beer
        • Rye beer
        • Black beer
    • Beer and Food
      • Cooking with beer
      • Matching beer with food
      • Recipes
    • Reference Section
      • Hunting the classic brews: a gazetteer
      • Glossary
      • Index

Cole, Let me tell you about beer (review)

Let me tell you about beer Let me tell you about beerMelissa Cole; Pavilion Books 2011WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

Read 9 – 18 February 2013 via Deschutes Public Library – 641.23 Cole.

This is another one of those books that are primarily a list—albeit a fancy, ordered list of some kind—of beers to try. In this case, they are divided by style. This is an order that makes much more sense than the one used by Beaumont in The Premium Beer Drinker’s Guide.

The short story: All in all, this is a good book with a fair bit of information on beers, beer ingredients, brewing, beer styles and specific beers. But the vast majority of the book is descriptions of specific beers, within styles, to try. Useful for the adventurous and for the already converted to craft beer but wants to broaden their tastes into other styles or for someone who has had a great beer in a style they’re not familiar with and want to explore that style further.

Let’s get the Table of Contents out of the way:

  • Introduction 6
  • Part One: Introducing Beer in All Its Glory 10
    • The usual?
    • Basically beer
    • Wonderful water
    • Glorious grains
    • Heavenly hops
    • Yeast: it’s alive!
    • Final flourishes
  • Part Two: Appreciate Your Beer That Little Bit Better 28
    • Buying Beer
    • Storing and serving beer
    • Beer jargon
    • Taste beer like a pro
    • My taste chart
    • Beer and food
    • Beer is good for you
  • Part Three: Beer Styles and Brand Heroes 56
    • Wild beer
    • Wheat beer
    • Lager
    • Golden and blonde ale
    • Farmhouse ale
    • Pale ale and India pale ale
    • Bitter
    • Trappist ale and abbey beer
    • Barley wine, Scotch ale and old ale
    • Mild
    • Porter and stout
    • Fruit, field, spice and all things nice
    • Vintage and wood-aged beer
    • The lunatic fringe
  • Where to find the best beer 208
  • Beer festival 217
  • Beer vocabulary 218
  • Index 220
  • Acknowledgments 224

As you can see from the pagination, specific beers and styles make up ~68% of the total. This is a definitely a book about beers to try. I am not saying that is a bad thing; just that you ought know going in. Seeing as this book is, in my opinion, more reasonably divided than Beaumont’s, you could easily jump around and read about the styles you are primarily interested in as they would actually map to the world of beer styles.

Part One is a short but good overview of the ingredients that make up beer and includes a chart of suggestions for “If You Like This” then “Try This.” For example, if you like “Aromatic dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc,” try “New World-style pale ale, well chilled” (10).

Part Two covers a lot of ground in a short space but does so efficiently. Buying beer in a shop or a pub/bar, seeking out great beer, cans?, storing and serving beer, cellaring, serving temperatures, glasses, pouring, common faults in beer, beer jargon, tasting like a pro, basic flavors, the author’s flavor/taste chart, beer and food pairings, and beer and health all make an appearance.

In her discussion of beer jargon she mentions “the most useless phrases in beer” as being ‘malty’ and ‘hoppy’ (39). Well, guilty as charged. And although I do agree with her, some of us are still trying to develop our palates so that we can do better than this. And as not every new beer is tasted in a perfect environment, we sometimes cannot do much better whether that is due to what also is being consumed with the beer or the fact that we’re drinking our beer in flights and have already tasted several others such that our palates have been temporarily suppressed, or for some other reason. I do promise to attempt to do better because, well, I am trying to do better but it isn’t like I can just tell my palate to develop itself immediately because I now care about describing the beers I drink to myself and to others.

As the author tells us, ‘malty’ “can mean any one of these flavours: dark chocolate, milk chocolate, toffee, caramel, raisin, smoke, whiskey, liquorice, tar, molasses” and ‘hoppy’ is about bitterness and aromatics and includes “lemon, lychee, coconut, orange, nettle, autumn leaves, geranium, …” (39)

As I said, I do better sometimes and am trying to do better always.

She provides an interesting taste chart on page 49 that is divided into fruits and flowers; vegetables and nuts; woods, herbs and spices; sweeties and pastries; wines and spirits; vinegars, spreads and sauces; Mother Nature and man-made; and mouthfeels.

If one hadn’t already noticed by this point, perusing this list would convince one that this is definitely a British book. This is not a bad thing, by any means. I read lots of books from the United Kingdom but this author’s language is a little more colloquial than many others. Again, not a bad thing but there are quite a few turns of phrase that might poke and tickle the American reader. Most are able to be easily figured out in context, though.

Let me add that the author seems like she’d be a lot of fun to hang out with and to talk (and drink) beer. I’d love to hear some of these turns of phrase in actual conversation.

Her beer and food pairings chart on pages 52-53 lists beers by type and includes three other columns: Great With, Three Best Friends, and Avoid.

Next up, the real meat of the book which is the style descriptions and histories and beers to try and their descriptions.

Wild Beer
Deschutes The Dissident gets a shout out as being “a great New World take on the style [Flanders brown]” (63/67).
As does Destihl from “the wonderfully named town of Normal, Illinois” (63) (Flanders/Oud Bruin 67) I’m a little jealous that this British author has had beer from Destihl when I have not despite living in Normal for six years. Of course, it didn’t open until 3 years after I moved, although, I was only an hour away for a few of those early years but didn’t hear about it until we left Illinois. It seems she most likely had Destihl beer at the Great American Beer Festival (based on a post I found at her blog).

Golden & Blonde Ale
This section focuses on goldens from the UK (97).
Deschutes Cascade Ale is mentioned (97 / 103).
The author’s transition style – “And I also have this beer style to thank for getting me into great beer. Golden ales eased me into the world of cask ale and helped me understand how a beer can uplift you. To me, golden ales hold the promise of summer in every sip — and they have a huge place in my heart” (97). The specific beer that got her “into the world of beer” was Kelham Island Pale Rider (100).

Pale Ale & India Pale Ale
An example of her “odd” Britishisms – “the shenanigans of the Hodgson and Drane likely lads” (119). ‘Likely lads’?

Bitter
The Wise (Elysian, Seattle, WA) (136)
Bachelor ESB (Deschutes, Bend, OR) (137)

Barley Wine, Scotch Ale & Old Ale
Outback X (Bend, Bend, OR) (154) – fresh root ginger

Fruit, Field, Spice & All Things Nice
Um, is it Robert Louis Stevenson or Stephenson as she has it? (185) It is definitely a “v” in Stevenson

Vintage & Wood-Aged Beer
Palo Santo Marron (Dogfish Head, Milton, DE) (199). We have had this recently based on a recommendation from a random guy reaching in to get one at the The Brew Shop/Platypus Pub in Bend while we were deciding on some bottles ourselves. He said it was the best brown ale he has ever had. I picked one up a few days later and O.M.G. is it an amazing beer. And quite affordable too. Highly recommended.

The Lunatic Fringe
Midas Touch (Dogfish Head, Milton, DE) (206) – recipe based on analysis of clay jars from Midas’ tomb. We have one of these in the fridge but have not tried it yet.

Beer Blogs

Beer Festivals

The author includes some very good tips on attending beer festivals. While some of them are common sense …, well, we know about how “common” it is and when combined with alcohol, let’s just say these tips bear serious consideration.

Comprehensive world-wide list – www.beerfestivals.org (217)

Comments:

Perhaps I am displaying some lack of knowledge of United Kingdom practice but her use of place names bothered me some. First, it was kind of inconsistent within its consistency. That is, there are three levels of suggested beers. First are the beers that get a full page of description and they have the fullest geographic information. For example, Bison Brewing Honey Basil Ale is listed as Berkeley, California, USA (186). Next, are the “More to Try …” beers, which are shorter entries of about three per page, and also usually include as much detail. See for example, Buckbean Orange Blossom Ale which is listed as Reno, Nevada, USA (189). But over on the next page (190), we see Maui CoCoNut Porter listed as Hawaii, USA. But Hawaii is a state and an island within said state, and Maui is an island also within said state, and neither is a city. Where exactly is Maui Brewing Co. located? There are a couple of other examples of such inconsistency. Third up are the “Other to try” beers which is usually five to eight beers in a simple list on the last page of the “More to Try …” section. There they simply include country or for the US beers include state and USA. Listing a city wouldn’t have taken up that much room.

But the possible UK practice to which I referred above is as follows. If a beer was produced in Scotland or Wales then it says so. If in the full page section then the UK is dropped. See for example, Otley O-Garden brewed in Pontypridd, Wales (75) or Williams Bros. Fraoch Heather Ale from Alloa, Scotland (185). In the “More to Try …” section then the UK is appended. See, BrewDog Hardcore IPA, Fraserburgh, Scotland, UK (128) or also on same page, Highland Brewing Scapa Special which only says Scotland, UK (see the gripe about inconsistency above). But all of the beers produced in England are listed as UK, along with the other geographic data as appropriate. For example, Worthington White Shield from Burton upon Trent, West Midlands, UK (129) or Batemans Victory Ale, UK (129). Back to the inconsistency, in “Others to try” on page 137 we see Somerset, UK; Suffolk, UK; and Yorkshire, UK; although in most other “Others to try” sections as mentioned above we only get “UK.”

So my gripe is this. Wikipedia tells me (as I already knew) that the United Kingdom “consists of four countriesEnglandScotlandWales and Northern Ireland.” If an author is going to specify (or leave off as they see fit) Scotland and Wales then why do they not need to specify England? Perhaps this is really a small issue but to me it seems—whatever the editorial or other reasoning—like an example of English superiority. England is by no sense equivalent to the United Kingdom. Heck, it isn’t even Great Britain but only one of three countries which make up the island. In many, if not most, of the English geographic locations I was aware that it was England being referred to. Burton upon Trent or London, anyone? But there were a few that I did not know for sure were in England and I only believe so do to the author’s (or possibly the publisher’s editorial team), often inconsistent, use of geographic naming practices. An argument that there is some inconsistency can be made. Whether or not the use of UK as a substitute for England is snobbish or something else might be debatable. But it rubs me the wrong way. [I am aware that this is probably much les of a deal than the characters I have spent on it.]

To offset my gripes about geographic place names and consistency in their use I want to commend the author for her great use of pictures—far better than in Beaumont—and she gives full credit in the Acknowledgments.

All in all, this is a good book with a fair bit of information on beers, beer ingredients, brewing, beer styles and specific beers. But the vast majority of the book is descriptions of specific beers, within styles, to try. Useful for the adventurous and for the already converted to craft beer but wants to broaden their tastes into other styles or for someone who has had a great beer in a style they’re not familiar with and want to explore that style further.

Cole, Melissa. Let me tell you about beer. Pavilion, 2011. Print.

1st Annual Beer & Dessert Pairing at Three Creeks Brewing

Yesterday afternoon we drove out to Sisters for Super Secret Date Night (more about that in a moment). Turns out Sara was taking us to the 1st Annual Beer & Dessert Pairing at Three Creeks Brewing Co.

We drove out to Sisters a little early so we could browse at Paulina Springs Books. I picked up a copy of Lisa Morrison’s Craft Beers of the Pacific Northwest, published in 2011. I have been eyeing it for a while now and finally snatched it up. I will review it but have no idea how soon as there are several other books in the review queue.

1st Annual Beer & Dessert Pairing

We got to Three Creeks minutes before the event started and there was plenty of room in the bar area where it was held. Eventually I’d say about thirty people were in attendance. It was clear that they were expecting appreciably more, which was later confirmed by one of our hosts when we signed up for another event in a few weeks. If you RSVP for something folks you really ought to try and make it whether or not you paid in advance as they probably went to a LOT of trouble for your sake. In this case, the chefs did an amazing job making some fairly (and extremely tasty) desserts. “Extra” beer can always be sold but it is much harder for the pub to offload all of those desserts.

This was the 1st Annual Beer & Dessert Pairing for Three Creeks and we, and others in attendance, are definitely looking forward to the 2nd. Our hosts for the evening were brewer Zach Butler, chef Mark Perry, and hostess Heidi Hausner, all of whom did a great job.

There were four pairings. The desserts were all full-size portions while the first three beers were ~4 oz. pours in taster glasses, with the last being a good 10 oz. in a snifter.

Menu for the 1st Annual Beer & Dessert Pairing at Three Creeks Brewing in Sisters

The menu for the 1st Annual Beer & Dessert Pairing at Three Creeks Brewing in Sisters

First up, the Raptor Rye IPA paired with an apple, pear and pecan strudel accented with cranberry raisins topped in butterscotch whipped cream.

The IPA was 6.2% ABV and 80 IBUs and with the rye it was well-balanced. It had a floral aroma and fruity hops flavor. I found it a tasty IPA and not excessively hoppy. I gave it 4 stars (out of 5). The strudel complemented the ale well but I found it almost mellowed the rye and hops too much. Still, they tasted quite good together.

1st pairing at the 1st Annual Beer & Dessert Pairing at Three Creeks Brewing

Raptor Rye IPA and apple, pear & pecan strudel

Next up was the Dark Hollow Harvest Ale with a crème caramel, a vanilla bean flavored flan with a light caramel ‘sauce’ and orange slices.

Their take on a late fall/early winter warmer had a slight malt aroma and was a decent version and drinkable. It was 6.5% ABV and 36 IBUs and I gave it 3.5 stars. As a pairing the dessert had almost the opposite flavor this time. The hops in the harvest ale were definitely brought to the forefront and it almost seemed like the rye from the IPA was transferred in. It really was kind of odd. Again, they were tasty together but it was not the effect I was expecting. Sara and I both agreed that the pairing might well have been better if the flan had a graham cracker crust; that is, if it had been treated as more of a cheesecake. We think the graham crackers would have brought out the malts more.

2nd pairing at the 1st Annual Beer & Dessert Pairing at Three Creeks Brewing

Dark Hollow Harvest Ale and Crème Caramel

Third, was a barrel-aged Crosswalk Imperial Porter. It was a blend of about 60% whiskey barrel-aged (9 months) Crosswalk Imp. Porter, 20% non-aged Crosswalk, and 20% Fivepine Chocolate Porter per Zach. It was 10% ABV and 66 IBUs.

Whiskey notes in the aroma and whiskey, tobacco and chocolate in the taste with a hint of vanilla from the oak. I gave it 4.5 stars and my opinion of Three Creeks beers definitely went up a notch or two. The dessert pairing was a chocolate hazelnut torte filled with strawberry buttercream, covered in a bittersweet chocolate ganache, with slices of fresh strawberry on the side. It seems I failed to make any notes on the pairing as I was enjoying it too much. They were exquisite together! Even the strawberry slices and beer paired wonderfully. This was definitely Sara’s favorite pairing of the day and it was probably mine too. (I’m not good at favorites, particularly when there is more than one good thing around.)

3rd pairing at the 1st Annual Beer & Dessert Pairing at Three Creeks Brewing

Barrrel-aged Crosswalk Imperial Porter and chocolate hazelnut torte

Last but certainly not least, was the Imperial Big Bad Sisters Stout. They described it thusly: “This huge imperial stout was brewed with 10 different malts and all Cascade hops, then infused with 7.5 gallons of cold pressed Sumatra coffee from our friends at Sisters Coffee Company.” Zach went on to explain that Sisters Coffee basically cold pressed 5 lbs. of Sumatran beans into 7.5 gallons of coffee which was then added to the bright tanks. Each snifter had the equivalent of about 8 oz. of strong coffee in it!

The stout had a massive aroma of coffee and the taste of coffee was even more massive. But it was good, strong coffee and not burnt at all like so many coffee stouts seem to be, including some with cold pressed coffee. Whatever the brewers and coffee folks did was correct in this case. The ABV was 9.2% and the IBUs 80.

The pairing was an Imperial stout infused chocolate mousse cake using chocolate reclaimed from brewing their Fivepine Chocolate Porter and accented with a bittersweet chocolate covered espresso bean. They were also exquisite together.

4th pairing at 1st Annual Beer & Dessert Pairing at Three Creeks Brewing

Imperial Big Bad Sisters Stout and Imperial stout infused chocolate mousse cake

Zach, the brewer, had reminded folks to let the stout warm up some so the malts and other flavors could come through. Well, we were there for quite a while nursing these massive stouts and although they warmed up plenty it was still mostly coffee in the aroma and taste. But that is not a complaint! This was possibly the best coffee stout I have ever had. Clearly, with this much actual coffee in it it isn’t an everyday coffee stout but it was still a 5 star beer without a doubt.

By the way, this all was only $15 a person. The last beer was easily an $8 (or more) beer. This was, in essence, a steal.

Super Secret Date Night

Back at the start I mentioned Super Secret Date Night. It is something Sara started several years ago when we were still dating. One of us plans a date that we know, or at least highly believe, the other will really enjoy and we put it on the calendar as “Super Secret Date Night” and let the other know it is scheduled. Often the other won’t know until we arrive what the event or outing is; sometimes they learn because of where we’re heading to get there. This time Sara planned the outing. We have gone to concerts and all sorts of things this way. It is really a simple thing but adds just that little extra bit of spice to being out together.

Brewey/Brewpub Events

I have been thinking I go to too many Deschutes events and may be neglecting the other breweries/brewpubs but the truth seems to be that many don’t have these kinds of events very often. Few of them have the kind of space needed for anything large or even to be able to segregate a group of 25 or less. That’s kind of a shame in my opinion. I realize they each have their own niches–e.g., Silver Moon has a lot of live music, Boneyard has no space–and that is a good thing. I just would like to see all of them engaging other parts of the community in more and varied ways. Entice me to your establishments and events, folks; help me drink your beers.

On this note, Sara and I are going back to Three Creeks on Saturday, February 9th (weather cooperating) for TCBC Beer 101. There will be a presentation from brewer Zach Beckwith on the basic ingredients in beer and the brewing process and tour of the brewery. This will be followed by a sensory analysis based on a full flight of the 10 beers currently on tap. The cost is $10/person, which is again a steal as the flight alone would cost you $15.

Zach was saying last night that they hope to have some kind of event like these each month. I say kudos to Three Creeks Brewing. Keep up the good work.

DBU: Winter beer and cheese

Tuesday night, along with some friends, we attended Deschutes Brewery University (DBU): Winter Beer and Cheese Pairing, which was a joint production of Deschutes Brewery and Tumalo Farms. Our hosts were brewer John Abraham and cheesemaker Flavio DeCastilhos.

Title slide for Deschutes Brewery University - Winter Beer & Cheese Pairing event

Title slide for Deschutes Brewery University – Winter Beer & Cheese Pairing event

They paired 6+ winter beers with 6 cheeses from Tumalo Farms and then told us a bit about each of the beers and cheeses as we sampled them and then chose to sample whichever cheeses (and other small nibbles) with the beers as we saw fit. The reason I said 6+ is that they could only find 3 bottles of the Fantôme de Noël which meant only a half pour each so they added a 7th beer, Duchesse de Bourgogne, and gave us a pour of that too. These two were beer(s) 2A and 2B in the list.

Menu for Deschutes Brewery University - Winter Beer & Cheese Pairing event

Menu for Deschutes Brewery University – Winter Beer & Cheese Pairing event

The beers in order were:

  • 1 Hub Abominable from Hopworks Urban Brewery in Portland, Oregon
  • 2A Fantôme de Noël from Brasserie Fantôme in Soy-Erezee, Belgium
  • 2B Duchesse de Bourgogne from Brouwerij Verhaeghe in Vichte, West Flanders, Belgium
  • 3 St. Bernardus Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus in Watou, Belgium.
  • 4 Delirium Noël from Brouwerij Huyghe in Melle, Belgium
  • 5 Super Jubel from Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon
  • 6 The Abyss (2012) from Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon

The cheeses, all from Tumalo Farms, in order (clockwise starting at 12) were:

Cheese plate at Deschutes Brewery University - Winter Beer & Cheese Pairing event

Cheese plate at Deschutes Brewery University – Winter Beer & Cheese Pairing event

During the intro, John or Flavio (sorry, can’t remember which one), said my newest favorite phrase, “favorably contradictory,” when talking about some of the things we might look for as we made our own pairings of beers and cheeses. “Favorably contradictory.” So many potential uses in taste sensations but hopefully even some broader uses. 😉

And as John said, “Beer and cheese. It’s not rocket science.”

Why Beer and Cheese? slide at Deschutes Brewery University - Winter Beer & Cheese Pairing event

Why Beer and Cheese? slide at Deschutes Brewery University – Winter Beer & Cheese Pairing event

Since my notes on the cheeses are so poor, let me say upfront that every one of these cheeses is exquisite! I will certainly be looking for Tumalo Farms cheeses more actively in the future [and I did link them all above].

Abominable and Pondhopper:

7.3% ABV, 70 IBUs. Grapefruit, pepper, light caramel.
Goat’s milk and Deschutes Mirror Pond Ale.
The Pondhopper really brings out the hops in the Abominable, which also paired nicely with the Rimrocker. The Nocciola really brought out the grapefruit in the Abominable.

Fantôme de Noël and Jewell:

10% ABV, barrel-aged, assorted spices. Grapefruit smell.
Failed to make any notes about the Jewell, which should not reflect on its taste.

Duchesse de Bourgogne and Jewell:

Aged in rum barrels. Cherry, vanilla, oak, green apple, rum. Tastes a fair bit like a green Jolly Rancher.
Tastes quite good with dried apricot.

They had us take a small bite of the pickled ginger at this point to clear our palates. Ugh!

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale and Rimrocker:

10% ABV, Belgian strong ale. Boozy dark fruits, clove, cinnamon, oak.
Again, failed on cheese notes.
The St. Bernardus was really mellowed by the Jewell. Was quite good with several of the cheeses (think I tried it with 4), although most, except the Jewell, didn’t affect the taste of the beer much.

Delirium Noël and Classico Reserve:

10% ABV, Belgian strong ale. Berries, plum, figs, raisins.
100% goat’s cheese, cave-aged for one year. Very nutty.
The Classico Reserve really mellowed out the Fantôme de Noël in a very good way and was also good with the Duchesse de Bourgogne.

Super Jubel and Nocciola:

10% ABV., 100% pinot barrel-aged for 6 months. Well-balanced hops & malts.
Oregon hazelnuts.
A really good pairing, sweetens the beer.
Super Jubel also quite good with the cracker with figs.

The Abyss and Fenacho:

11% ABV, 70 IBUs, Italian brewer’s licorice, blackstrap molasses, dry hopped with vanilla beans and cherry bark.
Fenugreek seeds. Hints of butterscotch at the finish.
The Abyss and the candied walnuts = O.M.F.G.

I apologize that my notes are so poor for both the cheeses and the beers. I am new to this level of studied appreciation and lack some of the vocabulary and still have a fairly undeveloped palate; all of which I am trying to remedy quickly. It is also quite hard to pay full attention to whoever is providing you info and taste beers and cheeses (or whatever food) in assorted combinations and keep up with it all. Also, after a while, several small glasses of strong beers begin to take their toll. My first goal in all of this is to pay as full attention to the experience of tastes and aromas as I can, and only secondly to worry about notes.

I will say that all of the beers and cheeses were quite good, as were the pairings set up by John and Flavio. I gave the first 5+ beers all 4 stars and based on some of the cheese and other foods paired with The Abyss (2012) I gave it a 5 star rating for the first time. I am still a long way from considering it the Best Stout or Porter in the world but it is still an amazing beer with lots more potential than I suspected [see my previous notes on The Abyss here and here]. I’m telling you, The Abyss and candied walnuts!

We would like to extend a definite “Thank you!” to John and Flavio who did an excellent job hosting this event. Feel free to do some other pairings in the future for us!

This was Sara’s and my 3rd DBU and we are looking forward to many more! See you there!

[This post, DBU: Winter beer and cheese, originally appeared on habitually probing generalist on 6 December 2012.]