Mallett – Malt

Malt: A Practical Guide from Field to Brewhouse (Brewing Elements Series) by John Mallett

Date read: 07-23 March 2015

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cover of Malt by John Mallett

Paperback, xxvi, 297 pages

Published 2014 by Brewers Publications

Source: Own

An excellent book that leads one in a natural progression of knowledge of malt. The bottom line, malt matters.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Foreword
  • Introduction
  • 1 Harry Harlan—The ‘Indiana Jones’ of Barley
  • 2 Malt: The Soul of Beer
  • 3 History of Malting
  • Malthouse Tour—Floor Malting in Great Britain
  • 4 From Barley to Malt
  • 5 Specialty Malts
  • Malthouse Tour—Full Scale Modern Malting
  • 6 Malt Chemistry
  • 7 Malt Family Descriptions
  • 8 Barley Anatomy and Agriculture
  • Malthouse Tour—Craft Micro-Maltsters
  • 9 Barley Varieties
  • 10 Malt Quality and Analysis
  • 11 Malt Handling and Preparation
  • 12 Milling
  • Appendix A: Commercially Available Malts
  • App. B: Worldwide and North american Malthouse Capacities
  • App. C: Craft Maltster Listing
  • App. D: Introduction to Home Malting (by George de Piro, reprinted with permission from Zymurgy)
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Commentary

The Brewers Publications Brewing Elements series also contains Yeast, Hops and Water. I do not own, nor have I read, Yeast. I own and have read Hops. I own but have not yet read Water. Turns out the three I own were all pre-ordered from Amazon, varying from exactly 6 months in advance to 3 days.

Another new book on malt is Dave Thomas’ The Craft Maltsters’ Handbook.  Thomas wrote the Foreword for this book (and a blurb on the back). He writes:

“Recently, our paths crossed again when we realized we were both writing books about malt. Mine, The Craft Maltsters’ Handbook, recently published by White Mule Press (Hayward, California), and John’s book published by the Brewers Association (Boulder, Colorado). When we bumped into each other at the 2014 Craft Brewers Conference in Denver, I asked John about possible redundancies between our two projects. He heartily replied’ “don’t worry; yours is written from the maltster’s point of view and mine is the brewer’s perspective. They will complement each other!” He was right. They do nicely.

John talks about the “heavy-lifting” that malt does for brewers. In this book, John has done the heavy lifting for us by presenting (in a very readable fashion) the chemistry of malt carbohydrates, sugars, amino acids, proteins, and lipids. …” (xiii-xiv).

John Mallett is Director of Operations at Bell’s Brewery. His qualifications for writing this book are first-rate. Here’s an interview with Mallett and others.

1 Harry Harlan—The ‘Indiana Jones’ of Barley

Wow! We really do owe Harry Harlan—and Mary Martini—a massive debt of gratitude.

“… she would become a life-long collaborator and great friend to Harlan during his adventures in the world of barley. Together they bred, grew, and assessed new varieties in the US for many years, helping to create the scientific basis for modern barley variety development” (5).

And what adventures he had traveling the world and collecting over 5000 varieties of barley (7)! Seriously, Harry Harlan and Mary Martini’s work needs much greater exposure.

I don’t intend to say a lot about this book, other than it is excellent, nor am I going to do a detailed layout of its Table of Contents, which is a good bit more detailed than above. The chapter titles are quite honest in their description and coverage, though.

The two books in the Brewing Elements Series, from Brewers Association, that I have read contain a wealth of quality information. I suspect the other two do also and am looking forward to reading Water.

This is cross-posted at my other bog, Bend Beer Librarian, as that is where I write about beer and related.

This is the 18th book in my Traditional Chesterfield armchair

Yaeger – Oregon Breweries

Oregon Breweries by Brian Yaeger

Date read: 08 February – 19 March 2015

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cover of Yaeger's Oregon Breweries book

Paperback, xx, 396 pages

Published 1 December 2014 by Stackpole Books

Source: Own (Amazon 3 December 2014) [According to WorldCat neither Deschutes Public Library or COCC’s Barber Library have it.]

Contents:

  • Acknowledgments
  • Foreword
  • Introduction
  • Portland
    • Northwest Portland
    • Southwest Portland
    • Southeast Portland
    • Northeast Portland
    • Portland Metro
  • Coastal
  • The Gorge-Eastern
  • Willamette Valley
  • Bend and Central
  • Southern
  • Beer Festivals
  • Bottle shops and Taprooms
  • Breweries to Come
  • Cheesemakers
  • Cideries
  • Portland Coffee Roasters

Commentary:

Let me state right up front that I enjoyed this book. More importantly, I find it valuable. For me, the factual data—the listing of so many of Oregon’s breweries in one place along with information on them—is what matters. The individual “story” of every brewery, or at least as told by the author, is not my main focus by any stretch, even though some are quite interesting.

I also appreciate how amazingly difficult it would be to write so many entries of basically the same information for all these breweries all the while trying to make them sound different. I would not relish that task. That said, the strain shows on occasion. And sometimes I imagine others might appreciate the author’s humor more than me.

Some “factual” and other issues first:

Full Sail is included in the Coastal group when it should be in The Gorge-Eastern, while Oregon Trail is included in Southern instead of Willamette Valley.

There are two listings of the breweries. The first is in the table of contents where they are separated into areas/regions (such as, Northwest Portland or Bend and Central) and then listed alphabetically. The second is the Brewery Locations map which lists them all alphabetically and then gives each a number that corresponds to, basically, the county it is in. That means all of the Portland breweries have one number (2) on the map.

A separate map of Portland, divided by quadrants, would be most useful!

I also realize that alpha order is easy but that doesn’t make it the right organizational tool, especially if you have multiple tools available. Some of the areas/regions would be harder than others but Coastal could go north to south or vice versa and The Gorge-Eastern could also easily go east to west, etc. That would make “small,” regional visit planning easier. This is not everybody’s use case though so not sure this is an entirely fair critique.

Each section has an intro that gives a quick overview of the region, along with a nice listing of non-beer-related places to visit. Each brewery entry generally consists of the following sections of info: Name and address, contact info, logo; textual entry; Beers brewed; The Pick; and a listing of other info like hours. Each full entry is from one to three plus pages and a few do not have The Pick and a few also do not have Beers brewed.

In the textual entry we get Yaeger’s impressions, perhaps an origin story or some other hook, and other facts or interesting tidbits. Beers brewed is what it purports to be, while The Pick is Yaeger’s pick from his visit. May not be available when you visit, of course.

The textual entry makes up most of the space in a brewery’s entry once past one page, so it is kind if interesting to see who gets more pages and who doesn’t (see, e.g., Ale Apothecary and Barley Brown’s). The final bit of info contains: Opened (year), Owner(s), Brewer(s), System, Annual production, Distribution, Hours, Tours, Takeout beer, Gift shop, Food, Extras. Some have less info at the end but most contain the same bits of data.

As I said up top, the strain of writing so many similar, yet hopefully different, entries took its toll once in a while. I certainly am not going to point out all of the minor distractions but I do want to point out a few.

Logsdon Farmhouse Ales

“In the mid-eighties, Logsdon cofounded neighboring Full Sail Brewery, then colaunched yeast industry giant Wyeast Labs, so naturally the beers he and partner Chuck Porter make are yeast-forward saisons” (207).

Um, no, that doesn’t follow. “Yeast-forward” follows, perhaps. But “saison” most certainly does not. Full Sail is not particularly known for saisons and Wyeast has quite a few strains of yeast.

BricktownE Brewing Co.

“BricktownE’s location was built in the 1890s, according to owner and craft beer crusader Craig McPheeters, and a brothel used to operate upstairs. You could call their Workin’ Gal BrownE Ale, which busts a nutty flavor and mouthfeel, an homage.” (344).

Um. OK. He really did go there.

Caldera Brewing Co.

“Another amazing treat from my last visit was intended to be a replica of Red Sea, just like Mills brewed in Kona, but they accidentally left Mogli’s bourbon, chocolaty oak spirals in the fermentation tank. The resulting warming vanilla …” (347).

Wait. I’m supposed to drink beer from a brewery that can’t even begin to clean a fermentation vessel properly? If they leave physical items in their tanks accidentally, deity only knows what else is “left.” I think the story is probably something else and worded poorly. At least I hope so.

Draper Brewing

“He has experience at some small-by-most standards breweries including Lost Coast and Mad River, both in Humboldt County, which makes sense since he’s originally from Northern California. Mad River happens to be one of my favorite breweries from that area, so it stands to reason that he has folded some of the tricks he picked up there into his own operation” (350).

Not the way causation, or grammar, works. The last clause follows from the first clause of the first sentence but not from the clause it follows. The author’s liking of Mad River has nothing to do with any of the other clauses. Stackpole’s editors seem to be nodding off once in a while.

Walkabout Brewing Co.

“Nearly as popular is Jabberwocky, perhaps with the implication that each 22-ounce bottle implores you, in its best Lewis Carroll voice, to “drink me” (374).

Wrong character in a completely different work. Easy cultural references and allusions aren’t always good ones. And,, yes, I know that most people won’t get the difference, or care. But literature matters. Literary allusion matters.

Again, this had to be a very tough job and the author has done a fine job with a limited amount of space for each entry on the many, many breweries we have in Oregon. I’m not trying to nitpick by pointing out the above but show that there are some small issues; reasons for which I only rated it 4-stars.

Breweries to Come

[Keep in mind this book was released 1 December 2014; that is, is quite new]

This is a two-page listing of the breweries in the process of becoming operational; that is, in planning and/or outfitting.

Of the two mentioned for Bend, one (North Rim) has been open a while now and at least one other not listed (Monkless Belgian Ales) is also already open.

Also not listed, Craft Kitchen and Brewery is replacing Old Mill Brew Wërks, which is out of business.

Immersion Brewing has been announced.

Redmond’s scene is definitely growing. See the bottom of Jon’s post here for some new ones.

The problem with these sorts of books is that they are out-of-date as soon as they are published. For a place like Oregon even before publication. Remember, release date was not even four months ago.

I would really love to see this sort of thing as a wiki, with accompanying map(s), and various ways to slice and dice the data. Perhaps the Oregon Brewers Guild should do such a thing (just do it well!) and you could get access with SNOB membership. Wouldn’t help out-of-state visitors or the simply inquisitive and not-yet-converted.

Honestly, I just want it open and available. But who will maintain it? A definite early-21st century issue. This is not a dig on Yaeger’s book but on the entire class of book like this. His has superseded, at least partly, two other books. Neither of which is that old. His will be too. Soon.

Anyway, for the most up-to-date listing of Central Oregon breweries (and their order of operation) just look in Jon’s sidebar at the Brew Site.

Again, I think this is a darn fine book of its type. For me it will serve as a reference book (I did purchase a copy after all). I have already used it extensively in making plans for our trip this week to Portland.

This post is cross-posted at my other blog, Bend Beer Librarian, since that is where the beer writing (mostly) goes.

This is the 17th book in my Traditional Chesterfield armchair

Saunders – Dinner in the Beer Garden

Dinner in the Beer Garden by Lucy Saunders

Date read: 10-11 March 2015 (Re-read); originally read 24-27 June 2014

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Photo of cover of Lucy Saunders' Dinner in the Beer Garden

Paperback, 232 pages

Published 2013 by F&B Communications

Source: Backed on Kickstarter 6 Sep 2013 ($25) by wife, received 31 Jan 2014

[Sara helped Kickstart this book so we have a signed copy that randomly arrived one day a couple of months later. Some days that’s a joy of Kickstarter. Some days not. I read it last June but failed to review it at the time. As part of my goals for the year, starting this month, one a month, I am to review a beer book that I previously read but failed to review. That schedule may be a little tight since it will involve so much re-reading but if I can get through about six before year’s end then that’d be most of them.]

Well-illustrated with color photographs. Lest the title distract you, this is a cookbook. There is no text wasted on philosophies, disputations or similar arcana. There is an acknowledgments, a recipe index and an ingredient index, along with photo credits and an author bio. In between each recipe section there are short “profiles” of some beer gardens and related topics. Otherwise it is mostly recipes, each of which comes with a suggested beer pairing.

While this book does not eschew meat entirely, as the jacket states, “It’s a cookbook for people who like carrots and kale—as well as butter, fish, cheese and chocolate!”

Table of Contents (and commentary):

  • Appetizers (9 recipes – Bock pretzels and other sweet and/or savory things for various seasons)
  • About Tasting and Pairing Beer with Vegetables
  • Beans & Legumes (6 recipes – From salads to fried)
  • Bavaria’s Biergartens (by Lindsay Bosslett and Rick Hadsall)
  • Cheese (9 recipes – French toast to gnocchi to turnovers)
  • Estabrook Park Beer Garden (Milwaukee, WI)
  • Eggs (8 recipes)
  • August Schell Brewery Gardens (New Ulm, MN)
  • Fish & Seafood (7 recipes)
  • New Glarus Brewing Co. Hilltop Beer Garden (New Glarus, WI)
  • Greens (7 recipes)
  • Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro (Bellingham, WA)
  • Noodles & Pasta (6 recipes)
  • Brewery Farms (Rogue, Bell’s, NY farm brewery license program, Sean Paxton, Sierra Nevada, Stone)
  • Roots (7 recipes)
  • Building a Better Beer Garden: Advice from a Pro Brewer (advice from Aaron Rzeznik, landscape designer and brewer at Witch’s Hat Brewery, South Lyon, MI)
  • Squash & Vegetables (12 recipes)
  • Virginia’s Brew Ridge Trail (Blue Mountain Brewery, Afton; Devils Backbone Brewpub, Rosedale; Wild Wolf Brewing, Nellysford; 6 breweries, Nelson and Albemarle Counties www.brewridgetrail.com )
  • Grains (6 recipes)
  • Botanical Garden Brewfests (Fest-of-the-Ale at Missouri Botanical Garden (Oct); Fest-of-Ale (month of Oct) by Atlanta Botanical Garden; Chicago Botanic Garden festival; Oregon Garden Brewfest, Silverton)
  • Sauces & Soups (8 recipes)
  • Bière de Garde Jelly by Christina Ward, Milwaukee County Master Food Preserver
  • Fruits & Desserts (13 recipes)
  • Recipe Index
  • Ingredient Index
  • Photo Index, Participating Breweries

I have already identified several recipes of interest, including a Basil-Walnut Pesto and Udon with Ginger-Garlic Broth under Noodles & Pasta; Potato-Leek Cakes with Almond Cream Sauce and Manchego Potato & Chard Tarts under Roots; Sesame Miso-glazed Squash and Cauliflower-Chickpea Cakes under Squash & Vegetables; and Carrot Risotto Cakes with Spiced Plum Relish and Millet Flatbread with Manchego and Rosemary under Grains. No doubt, others will sound scrumptious when the proper ingredients are in season.

Pairings  

For the Udon with Ginger-Garlic Broth she suggests a black IPA or hoppy American stout. I might use less ginger; in fact, would, so maybe not so big. I’m thinking Firestone Walker Wookey Jack. The rye in that can add a little of its own spice.

For the Potato-Leek Cakes with Almond Cream Sauce she suggests “a yeasty Belgian strong ale with plum and caramel notes …” (127). Mmmm. Several possibilities here.

For the Sesame Miso-glazed Squash the recommended pairing is “malt-forward lager such as Vienna or Oktoberfest [which] balances the salty miso sauce” (159).

Once in a while the recommendations are oddly specific; I am not referring to the odd Rogue or Goose Island beer or so on as several breweries did support her with locations and/or photos. But, for instance, for the Millet Flatbread with Manchego and Rosemary the recommendation is “a golden ale aged in merlot barrels, or a farmstead dry cider with enough tannins to take on the Manchego and rosemary” (178). OK. We get two recommendations. But both are incredibly specific. I agree that either, but especially the merlot barrel-aged golden, would be exquisite. Not the easiest thing to put one’s hands on, though.

I would love to go to the Fest-of-the-Ale at Missouri Botanical Garden. [ I love MOBOT! I grew up in St. Louis County and visited MOBOT many times when a kid and made it back a couple years ago.]

The Bière de Garde jelly sounds quite tasty but it involves canning. [I must say, I adore this contributor’s title, “Master Food Preserver.” Of course, I just registered for our second year at the C.O.M.G.A. Spring Gardening Seminar.]

All-in-all, this is an excellent book of primarily fruit- and vegetable-centered recipes covering dishes of all sorts to pair with beer. And while these foods could certainly be enjoyed anywhere—without or without a well-paired beer—they would be even better in a beer garden among loved ones or friends. That is what this book celebrates.

I recommend it if you can get your hands on it. Seems to be used copies out there.

This post is cross-posted at my other blog, Bend Beer Librarian, for purposes of the below reading challenge.

This is the 16th book in my Traditional Chesterfield armchair

Allen and Cantwell – Barley Wine

Barley Wine: History, Brewing Techniques, Recipes (Classic Beer Styles series no. 11) by Fal Allen and Dick Cantwell

Date read: 26 February – 04 March 2015

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Image of cover of Barley Wine: History, Brewing Techniques, Recipes (Classic Beer Styles series no. 11) by Fal Allen and Dick Cantwell

Paperback, 198 pages

Published 1998 by Brewers Publications

Source: Own

Fal Allen is currently the head brewer at Anderson Valley Brewing Co. (AVBC). You can see more of his brewing background at that link. Dick Cantwell was one of the co-founders of Elysian Brewing in 1996 and is still their head brewer.

Contents:

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: The History of Barley Wine
  • Chapter 2: The Flavor Profile of Barley Wine
  • Chapter 3: The Five Elements: Malt, Hops, Yeast, Water, and Time
  • Chapter 4: The Brewing Process
  • Chapter 5: Professional Barely Wine Breweries
  • Chapter 6: Recipes
  • Appendix A: Festivals
  • Appendix B; Troubleshooting
  • Appendix C: U.S. and Canadian Barely Wine Breweries
  • Appendix D: Unit Conversion Chart
  • Glossary
  • Further Reading
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • About the Authors

NB: Publication date 1998. At the time perhaps it made sense, but 17 years later App. C is kind of useless. Chap. 5 is better in that we get some data and descriptions, so even if the beer or brewery are long gone it still provides some context, especially compared to the others in the rest of the chapter. [This book is no. 11 in the series and no. 10 Stout (see below) also has an appendix “Commercial Stout Breweries,” which seems of the same limited value and ends with “Note: This is only a partial listing of the numerous brewers of stout.” You think?]

Introduction

“These days barley wine brewing is alive and well, if somewhat besieged in its native Britain. Its history is not continuous or easy to trace. Studying barley wine is like following footprints which disappear and reappear, forking and veering, stamping for a time in a circle and then dispersing, leaving trails that seem to go cold and then suddenly present a host of destinations. It’s an enterprise requiring a few leaps of courage and fancy simply to consider the widely variant examples and information that is part of the same theoretically coherent style. We will challenge and define the parameters of barley wine, examining every stage of the brewing process to wring the utmost from ingredients, equipment, and procedures. We will explore the contributions of each of brewing’s basic raw materials, including one not ordinarily considered—time. We will also offer practical hints based on our own home and professional brewing experience” (Introduction, 6-7).

Chapter 1: The History of Barley Wine

Seems reasonable. Anyone aware of other histories of barley wine? I like that we’re off to an inclusive start.

Chapter 2: The Flavor Profile of Barley Wine

Covers a lot of ground fairly succinctly.

“There are, in fact, a number of proper versions of the style, each with a historical and geographical precedent, and each matching the original qualities” (31).

Includes: alcohol, color and clarity, hops, age, yeast and other influences, conditioning and carbonation; “families” of barley wines: The Trent, the Thames, and Others: English Barley Wine Brewing; The Northeastern United States—The Great Between; Northwestern Barley Wines; Other Beers Defying Classification.

The “Other Beers Defying Classification” section was interesting in that it told me that Michael Jackson considered Russian Imperial stout to be a dark barley wine. I just checked his The World Guide to Beer and sure enough, pages 170-171 are “Russian stout and barley wines” (1977, First american ed.). I did not remember that. Perhaps partly due to the fact that it was many years later before I had tasted either style. I am not saying I agree with Michael, though. His reasoning was a little loose.

This section also reminded me that “in Stout, Michael Lewis considers imperial stout such a break from traditional stout styles that he devotes to it only a brief discussion (Lewis 1995)” (50). That’s right. I can find almost nothing on Imperials in it. That’s my biggest gripe with Stout. But back to this book.

Chapter 3: The Five Elements: Malt, Hops, Yeast, Water, and Time

I like how they bring out in the section on “Pale Malt” that English pale malt is best (with Maris Otter at the top) because “it has a more complex flavor than American malts, which are generally malted to microbrewery specifications” (55). That is soon to change, although mostly likely remain sparsely dispersed and very small-scale for a long while. Micromalting. Heirloom and landrace barleys. Barleys not even suspected by the macros.

Photo of emblem for the High Desert Museum exhibit Brewing Culture: The Craft of Beer

We went to the last panel discussion at the High Desert Museum as part of their exhibit, Brewing Culture: The Craft of Beer. It was Feb. 19th and this was its remit:

“Join us for a dynamic conversation with Seth Klann of Mecca Grade Estate Malt to learn how barley is farmed and malted in the High Desert. Klann will be joined by Scott Fish a barley breeding researcher and resident malster at OSU and Dustin Herb, a graduate research assistant in OSU’s Department of Crop and Soil Science whose work is on barley and malting.”

The researchers actually went first with Seth finishing before questions for everyone. Mecca Grade Estate Malt. We have locally grown barley and a micromalting facility in Central Oregon. I know there are a few around the country. Michigan, for sure. Colorado somewhere? New York? Montana? Barley region states anyway.

For far more information on this panel discussion of malt see “The day I learned about barley.”

Hmm. Ambled away from the topic at hand again.

This chapter covers some ground but does it fairly efficiently: The Malt Bill: Pale Malt, Specialty Malts, Adjuncts; Hops: Boiling Hops, Finishing Hops; Yeast: Yeast Flavor, Alcohol Tolerance, Attenuation, Flocculation, Oxygen; Water; Aging; Packaged Beer; Wood.

Chapter 4: The Brewing Process

Let’s just say that if you want to brew your first barley wine you perhaps had best read this chapter. I’m not saying it is the last word, by any means. But it gives you a good idea of how much you’ll be taxing your knowledge, your system, your ingredients and your processes.

Chapter 5: Professional Barely Wine Breweries

Provides the specifications, and variably some notes or description, on twenty barley wines, beginning with Bass No. 1. The specs provided are slightly variable and/or not available for some pieces of data on each beer. Basically: Name, Brewer, Original Gravity, Terminal Gravity, ABV, IBU, Hop Variety, Malt, Mash, Boil, Fermentation Temperature, Yeast, Fermentation Time and Aging.

Some of the other beers are Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, Fuller’s Golden Pride, Anchor Old Foghorn (1996), Thomas Hardy (1989), and Hair of the Dog Adambier.

Chapter 6: Recipes

Eleven recipes “from a wide-range of brewers and brewing backgrounds” (131) are presented and each is sized for both 5 gallons and 1 barrel. Some of the brewers are Ray Daniels, Charlie Papazian, George & Laurie Fix, Fred Eckhardt, and Randy Mosher.

Appendix A: Festivals

Clearly several more by now and The Brickskeller is closed.

Appendix B: Troubleshooting

From stuck fermentation to stuck mash and other issues in-between.

Appendix C: U.S. and Canadian Barely Wine Breweries

No doubt it was partial then; now not so much interesting even as an historical document since we have no idea of the scope of its limitations to begin with.

Appendix D: Unit Conversion Chart

Glossary

Not even sure half of those terms are in the book. And they’re mostly not indexed soit  makes it hard to verify.

For now I am recommending this book. The issues I have pointed out above are inherent in any text like this that becomes dated. My single caveat for otherwise not wholeheartedly recommending it is that I have yet to brew from it. Based on other things I have read their recommendations seem sound but I have not tested any of them in practice. Take that as you will.

This is the 15th book in my Traditional Chesterfield armchair

Citations

Lewis, Michael. Stout. First American ed. Boulder, Colo.: Brewers Publications, 1995. Print. Classic Beer Style Series, 10.

Cross-posted at Bend Beer Librarian.

Robertson – Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker

Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker: 200 Ultra-Convenient, Super-Tasty, Completely Animal-Free Recipes by Robin Robertson

Date read: 02-08 February 2015

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cover of Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker by Robertson

Paperback, 324 pages

Published 2012 by The Harvard Common Press

Source: Skimmed initial copy from public library (641.5636 ROBERTSON ROBIN) and then bought us a copy via amazon

We recently—mostly at my behest—acquired a slow cooker of a size manageable to just us two. Thus, I grabbed a stack of slow cooker books from the public library. Browsing through this one, about halfway in, I decided I wanted my own copy. A few days later I ordered it. I browsed some of it again the day I received it and made our first dish from it the very next day, Barley Orzotto with White Beans and Vegetables. Quite tasty. Also a record by several orders of magnitude for time from acquisition to making 1st dish.

The book is one of the most up-to-date and it includes lots of tips for using various specific ingredients, on the potential need for assorted sizes of crock pots, etc. I also identified quite a few recipes I would like to try for us and when I asked the wife to look through it she filled more than two sides of a piece of paper with things she was interested in trying. I would call this a “Score!”

Contents:

  • Introduction
  • Slow Cooker Basics
  • Snacks and Appetizers
  • Soups That Satisfy
  • Stews and Chili
  • Beans and Grains
  • Hearty Main Dishes
  • Simply Stuffed
  • Vegetable Love
  • Condiments from the Crock
  • Don’t Forget Dessert
  • Breakfast and Bread
  • Hot Drinks
  • Measurement Equivalents
  • Index

Lots of good information on how to best use one’s slow cooker and to best use various ingredients to make amazing food easily. If you are looking into using a slow cooker more this is a good book. Yes, it is for vegans but neither of us are; although Sara is vegetarian. We can always ignore the “use vegan” this-that-or-the-other-thing notes about keeping it vegan. The content—seemingly like 85-95%—of most other slow cooker books that are not specifically for vegans or vegetarians primarily only include meat recipes. It is far easier to add meat (or other protein) than it is to “remove” it. I greatly appreciate the focus on things I can make for both of us.

And no worries on the meat front. I already turned 3 lbs of pork shoulder into tasty shredded pork in the slow cooker. And before that I made Saison Dupont shredded chicken from chicken breasts in it. I just didn’t get those recipes from this book. 😀

The freezer is a wonderful place. I wonder how soon it’ll be before we need a small chest freezer.

This is the 8th book in my Traditional Chesterfield armchair

Morton – Tortillas: A Cultural History

Morton, Paula E. 2014. Tortillas: a Cultural History. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.

Date read: 16-31 December 2014

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cover of Paula Morton's Tortillas: a Cultural History

Cover of Paula Morton’s Tortillas: a Cultural History

Paperback, xxiii, 157 p

Published 2014 by University of New Mexico Press.

Overall I enjoyed this book. Throughout it kept me exceedingly hungry for “proper” nixtamilized corn tortillas made completely from hand. Of course, the horrifically gendered work that went into them is a non-starter. The work that went into them—no matter who’s doing it—is a non-starter.

Despite being on an academic press this is definitely a general audience book. There is a notes section in the back with a couple of paragraphs per chapter but not proper notes. There were one or two claims made that I wanted to look into but could find no references to them.

I chose a lot of categories for this post as the author does cover issues of gender, language and word issues, pop culture, technology, and so on.

The book is an easy read but I really wanted more out of it. A bit more scholarly, perhaps, but not enough to throw most people off. The author is a journalist so it has some of that feel. My biggest gripe is the easy nonchalance in which the author reported on wholesale cultural genocide. “Aw, shucks. It happens eventually to everyone [paraphrase].” The sheer bloodiness of European expansion into Central America and Mexico is enough to make us sit up and reconsider our own cultural heritage. At the least. And as European expansion was pretty much bloody everywhere, it simply cannot be “Aw, gee shucks” awayed.

Near the end as she’s wrapping up loose ends (somewhat) and bringing us fully up-to-date, the author provides some statistics. I believe they are completely and utterly incorrect and highlight an utter fail of editing (on everyone’s part):

“In 2002 in Mexico the average daily consumption of corn tortillas per person was 548 pounds. In 2010 the daily consumption was 346 pounds, according to the Mexican National Household Income Expenditure Survey (ENIGH in Spanish)” (124).

Um, No one, I say no single person, is (or was) eating either 346 or 548 pounds of tortillas per day! Not even once on one day. That figure could be the annual total per person perhaps or it could be the weight eaten by all Mexicans in a day but for that it seems way low. Either way, that last cock-up sealed the feeling I’d had about the book all along. I wanted—I expected—more. So I only gave it 3 stars.

Still I learned a fair bit and will be on the lookout for much better tortillas on occasion.

Kick-Off Surroundings

I was unable to participate in the Digital Writing Month Launch Party celebration so this is my response, particularly to the Kick-Off Surroundings bit.

The kick-off happened at 12:01AM UTC 1 November which was 5 pm Halloween here in Oregon. I had just closed the library at a few minutes after and then had to catch a bus to the bottom of the hill to meet some folks. I was also having a discussion with one of my usual patrons while waiting. I did check my phone for the kick-off post and had a quick look. Saw I wouldn’t get any done on time. No worries. I was with friends and had a good grip on ideas already.

We were supposed to accomplish three tasks within the 1st hour:

  • Who are you? Post a Vine to Twitter, due by 20 min.
  • Where are you? [Environment] 3 photos to Twitter, due by 40 min.
  • What are you going to do? [Goals] Roster and abridged version to Twitter

I was not going to bother with the first. Just not interested. And that’s OK. “The point is creation; the method to the madness is up to you.” Sean Michael Morris in Invention, Ambition, Fearlessness: Digital Writing Month 2014

Sure. The idea is to push one’s boundaries, creativity, and so forth. I plan on doing that. And while I may well ignore some of the prompts and perhaps not participate in everything, I did the same last time. Some of the new things I did to push my limits worked and some didn’t. That’s OK, too.

This post serves as my Kick-Off Environment post, which stands in way “late” for the three tweets. I did post my goals to the roster and had earlier tweeted my goals but did so again. It was definitely after the party was over by a couple hours but not many folks got to that part anyway.

Photo #1

Dr. Evelyn Crook and Mistress Quantum Sum before Halloween tarot readings for the Humane Society at Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café.

Dr. Evelyn Crook and Mistress Quantum Sum before Halloween tarot readings for the Humane Society at Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café. [somewhat processed]

Sara and Emily prior to giving their first readings of the night. They were doing Halloween tarot readings for charity at our local, Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café (BTBS). When I got there, Sara was with three of our friends who I joined until they headed out. Not a whole lot later another couple friends, along with two more new-to-me friends, joined me for much of the evening. While we love BTBS we do not spend many Friday evenings there. Halloween was a lot more mellow than I figured it’d be though.

Photo #2

Cooler case and BTBS sign [heavily processed]

Cooler case and BTBS sign [heavily processed]

I am (consciously) unclear as to what this image means to me or the story I am trying to tell. I have an as yet undiagnosed illness, since this summer, that is playing havoc with me in many ways. For some reason this appealed to me. I, and Sara, spend a lot of time in front of these colors. They are a refuge, of sorts. This image is anything but refuge-like though. The unprocessed image is. So. This. Is a story element. Yet to be fully realized.

Photo #3

Temperance tarot card [little processing]

Temperance tarot card [little processing]

For the significance of this photo you will have to read my next post, which is thankfully 95% written already. Past me doing current me a favor [Wickett’s Law/Rule].

This was a large part of my environment for the kick-off of Digital Writing Month 2014.

Temperance. Am going to have to spend some time with that concept.

Two new blogs: By the barrel, and Commonplacing

I recently started two new blogs. My new beer blog is called By the barrel, or Bend Beer Librarian. It will document my journey into craft beer appreciation. My twitter handle is @bythebbl.

After having to give up on moving to WordPress Multisite—couldn’t seem to migrate this blog without breaking an unacceptable amount of things—I installed two more instances of WordPress and set to learning a lot more about configuring WP—both thematically and securely.

If you want or need to know about WordPress I sincerely (and seriously) recommend Digging into WordPress by Chris Coyier and Jeff Starr, both the ebook and the blog.

This post might give you some ideas of their value: Best of DigWP.com. Or a post I wrote here a couple years ago: Digging Into WordPress v3 and its authors rock

I have finally been able to make full use of the book and the blog, along with some other sources I found via Google. Up until today I primarily focused on By the barrel as that is a new venture I am starting and I wanted to get it out there. Although there is some tweaking left to do, I think it is ready to be ‘released.’

Be aware that I did copy six posts over from this blog that were entirely about beer and beer events. But I do have some new stuff primed and almost ready. A couple of book reviews will be leading things off. It isn’t the Bend Beer Librarian for nothing.

Commonplacing is less ready for prime time as I still need to do a lot of backend business. It is really for me and serves as my Internet commonplace book. I started it about two years ago at Posterous and then switched to Tumblr for a better workflow of getting things into it. Recently I decided I wanted full possession of my own content and as I was already starting another blog I might as well start a third. As I said, feel free to poke around and even subscribe if you like but I cannot promise anything regarding its value to others.

From now on most of the beer-related stuff will be over at By the barrel although I reserve the right to mention them here. Grab a glass of tasty beer and join me in my new excursion.

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!

Deschutes beer tasting night at the Platypus Pub

[FYI: The next few posts will be tagged DigiWriMo since they were written during November. I did not post them then though as I set aside the last couple days to get out close to 10,000 words to meet my goal instead of fiddling with WordPress.]

I had a very bad afternoon yesterday (Thursday, 29th) and by 3:30 pm I was ready to start drinking some very dark, very strong beer. But I didn’t.

Then around 3:50 I saw this tweet from @DeschutesBeer

Meet the brewer & taste The Abyss ’11, ’12, BBXXIII, BBXXIV, & Jubelale on Nitro @platypuspubbend #inbend 2nite 6-8pm. See you there??

Sara and I decided to go since we had not yet had Black Butte Porter XXIII. We headed over around 5:15 to check out the bottled beers upstairs—looking for Midnight Sun Berserker Imperial Stout, in particular. Didn’t find any but there are several Midnight Suns and a few other things we’d like to try soon. Headed downstairs and got a table before the proceedings were to start. Turns out that they even had Black Butte Porter XXIII on tap so we got a 10 oz. snifter to share and some food.

Snifter of Black Butte Porter XXIII at The Platypus Pub

Snifter of Black Butte Porter XXIII at The Platypus Pub

This is what I put into Untappd when I checked this beer in:

Mmmm. Tobacco, figs, slight wine notes, pepper on sides. XXIV is better but this is darn fine.

The event started a bit early but we had our food and it was an ongoing thing for a couple hours so we chilled and ate. The brewer and some other folks were there and had some ingredients—brewer’s licorice, vanilla beans and cherry bark, and something else (I forget)—in jars for smelling and tastes of the beers.

While we were eating we saw that they had flights of the 5 beers so we ordered one. It came with the BBP XXIII & XXIV, The Abyss 2011 & 2012, and Jubelale on nitro. Then they told us there was a special 6th one which we would get from the brewer but a few minutes later a guy from the Platypus Pub came by with our 6th glass and said “Here’s your XXII.” Holy WTF, Batman! Black Butte Porter XXII. Sara immediately texted Stacey and Beth. Beth was able to come join us.  All of the beers were quite good but I wasn’t very good at making notes last night.

Deschutes flight: Back L –> R: BBPXXIII, BBPXXIV, Abyss 2011. Front L –> R: Abyss 2012, Jubelale 2012 (nitro), BBP XXII

BBP XXII was much smoother than the XXIII and XXIV and tasted more of vanilla and dark malts, with a very slight bourbon/whiskey taste. I think Sara and Beth like it the best of the three but I still like XXIV the most. Perhaps that is because I have had it more frequently and in more varied situations. Sure wish I could give the XXII that chance, too.

Black Butte Porter case

These are amazing beers and I want to thank Bend for being the town that it is, Platypus Pub for hosting this evening, and to especially thank Deschutes for brewing so many outstanding libations and sharing them with us,