Saturday, January 2, 2010

A New Year, a New Beer

Happy 2010! Last year was a good one for me. My second child was born, a son, Rowan, and professionally, I was able to publish several wine reviews. But I've also slowly gotten more into craft beer, especially after getting, and quickly finishing, a book called "The Naked Pint: An Unadulterated Guide to Craft Beer" by two beautiful beer sommeliers, Christina Perozzi and Hallie Beaune (check out their photos in the book jacket - I showed it to some guys at work who were like - "that's not what we imagined a female beer sommelier would look like.")

The book offers a great entry into the world of different beer styles, and offers suggestions and food pairings along the way. I really enjoyed the book, especially the history behind how certain styles emerged over the past few hundred years, and think it is a great primer for people interested in learning more about the field of craft beer, even if, like me, you've been drinking the stuff occasionally for a few years already.

It really inspired me to seek out some beers I wouldn't normally try, such as Belgian ales and funky, sour beers. Luckily I did, because I enjoyed them tremendously - in particular, a Reutberger export Dunkel that brought some serious ripe banana and fruit scents on the nose, and a barnyard funk in the glass. I also had my first saison, a farmhouse ale that nearly went extinct but is being revived. I can't remember the name of the brewer (I got it at Lucky 13 in Alameda), but the beer had a striking orange rind taste with other citrus accents.

I always hated beer growing up because what I had access to before reaching the legal drinking age was horrible watered down beer-flavored water. I'm thinking about you, Natty Light. It wasn't until I tried an oatmeal stout years ago that my eyes were open to what beer could be. Since I love chocolate, any beer called mocha porter attracted my attention. Since moving to the Bay Area four years ago, I have been able to deepen my appreciation for craft beer by visiting all of the wonderful brew pubs in the area. Plus, the Whole Foods in Oakland has an amazing selection. I can go there and just read all the labels and shelf talkers for hours. My latest finds there have been Ten Fifty, a black as night, thick as tar beer that tastes chocolately and malty. Their selection has also allowed me to delve deeper into the world of extreme hopped-beers, which I also love.

I've been finding myself reaching for craft beer lately to pair with certain meals instead of bottles of wine. Still trying to determine appropriate matches, and tonight, I'm going to see how chicken chili matches with a Green Flash Barleywine. I'll let you know how it goes.

But again, happy new year, and good drinking in 2010!