Wednesday, December 26, 2018

A Minnesotan walks into a bar . . .

. . . and orders a pint of Firestone 805. He had taken the barstool next to me and introduced himself as Jack. His beer arrived but the bartender moved onto the next thirsty customer before Jack could ask for a nearby salt shaker. I noticed his unanswered request and offered to pass it to him, although I wondered what he could have wanted with it since he hadn't ordered any food.

805 is a golden ale also known as a blonde ale which according to the Denver Post is one of the fastest-growing craft beer segments and ". . . is decidedly less hoppy and in-your-face – two characteristics that describe why a majority of Americans prefer big corporate lagers to strong, bitter IPAs." (For the first time, the 3 best-selling beers in America are light beers. Can craft brewers catch up?)

Jack shook salt into his freshly poured beer, causing it to foam up slightly. Noting he ordered a lighter beer, I asked him if that was the reason for adding salt. He just shrugged and said, "It's a Minnesota thing." He further explained that to really do it right, one would toss in a couple olives as well.

Confounded, I asked a friend on Christmas day if she had every heard of adding salt to beer. She was from Buffalo and drinking Lablatt Blue, a pilsner, also a lighter style beer. She said, "Oh, yeah. Canadians do it all the time," although she didn't care for the practice herself.

Brewers will sometimes use salt in the brewing process, most often in a Gose. Sometimes, salt is used to treat the water, as in a Bitter. It might be added to a Stout to enhance mouthfeel. But, I could find no explanation for adding salt to the finished product. The internet offered few answers. Many sites offered that this became a habit of octogenarian beer drinkers since beer quality suffered during WWII due to scarcity of quality ingredients. (Jack was an older fellow but not that old.)

Another site offered this was the habit of farmers who toiled in the hot sun and found that adding salt helped quench their thirst. (I was unaware if Jack was a farmer.) Another site suggested adding salt removed beer's bitterness. (As far as I know, 805 is not bitter.)

I could find nothing about adding salt and olives to beer although I did find a website identifying a Beertini as the addition of olives to beer and called it a midwestern staple: "a simple combination of crappy beer and green olives." (PUNCH | How the Beertini Became a Midwestern Staple)

I like olives in my vodka but not in my beer! I like my beer unadorned, thank you, much like coffee and potato chips. I don't need to disguise their original flavors. But, will it improve a "crappy" beer? If salt is a flavor enhancer, then what flavor, exactly, is getting enhanced?

I think I'll steer clear of Minnesota.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Hot off the Panini Press:

Ghost Runners Brewery now has food, deemed "Really good."

Ghost Runners is my favorite brewery in Vancouver. I go there because the beers are good, the staff is friendly, and the owners, Jeff and Amy, treat everyone like family. GRB has a loyal following which makes the taproom feel welcoming. 

This brewery isn't easy to find. It's located in an industrial park off N.E. Minnehaha St., tucked in the back. It's worth the effort, though. They have ping pong, darts, and cornhole (in the summer), trivia on Thursdays*, and double-punch Tuesdays**. And, now, they have food.

Each beer has a running-based name to celebrate the fun, joy, and excitement of running - their words, not mine. "Fun, joy, and excitement" describe Christmas, not running. But, hey, I'm not a runner. I will point out this, however: the more you run, the more beer you can drink and that's something anyone can celebrate.

Until now, Ghost Runners has offered small snacks for sale (packaged chips) and over the last year, they sporadically attracted a number of food trucks. Food delivery was always welcome. Finally, they've opened their own kitchen which makes going to Ghost Runners even better because now there's good, consistent food to go along with their award winning beers. It makes the brewery more of a destination and provides one more reason to linger longer.

My on-the-spot reviewer, a retired chef, sampled the Pesto Turkey Bacon Panini with avocado and warm tomatoes. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! His verdict? "Really good." From a man who knows food, that's good enough for me. I can't wait to get over there and sample the menu myself.

I suggest you do the same. If you've never been to Ghost Runners, you don't know what you've been missing. Now, you have even more really good reasons to seek them out.

*The prize for the winning team is a $10 gift certificate per participant, up to $40.

**GRB has a beer loyalty program. Much like coffee establishments, they offer a punch card: Buy 10 pints, get the 11th free. Tuesdays, each pint earns two punches on your card.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Shoulda aimed higher.

"Studies show . . . " just about anything depending on who's sponsoring the study. Generally, the conclusion is that almost anything in moderation is good for you. Even Twinkies.

No doubt you've read somewhere that a daily alcoholic beverage is good for you. This young man has taken that to heart:
101-year-old WWII veteran credits Coors Light for long life; the company responds with free beer 
" Andrew E. Slavonic whose birthday was last week has been drinking a Coors Light every day at 4 p.m. for the past 15 years, his son, Bob, told Fox News last week."
Upon the news, Coors threw him a party and stocked Mr. Slavonic's fridge with beer. I think he should have aimed higher. He should have attributed his long life to Château Lafite or Moët & Chandon. Not that I dislike Coors but a (wine) fridge full of Rothschild or champagne would have been fine by me.

Happy birthday, Mr. Slavonic. And, cheers!

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Skip and Go Naked

A reader submitted a recipe for this drink:
Skip and Go Naked
1 1/2 oz. gin
1 1/2 oz. sweet and sour mix
3 oz. beer
Combine ingredients over ice in a double old-fashioned or tall 8 oz. beer glass.
With it, he asked what kind of beer should be used. Please, if you have ideas, let them be known.

He further suggested this food pairing and requested an invitation to dinner:

Does this change your earlier answer?
He may be waiting for some time.

I researched the interwebs to find other references to this drink and found this one that combined beer and gin although it used lemon juice and grenadine instead of the sweet and sour mix.  Wikipedia includes a reference to this drink under their entry for Porchcrawler. Here, the sweetening agent is Sprite. bon appétit has a recipe for Vitamin C Brew using orange juice.

However, when browsing the internet for Skip and Go Naked (and not without some trepidation), I mostly found recipes combining beer with vodka. Some used lemonade while others used pink lemonade or pink lemonade concentrate. (The beer, vodka, pink lemonade concentrate combination often being referred to as the Panty Dropper or Pink Panty Dropper.)

What beer to use? I say stick to your favorite and forget the mixers. Beer, like coffee or potato chips, should not be monkeyed with. They're fine just as they are. They don't need mixers, creamers, or flavors.

But, I could be wrong. Let me know if you've tried this drink or some variant of it. 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Best of ...

There will be no shortage of "best of" lists in the last days of 2018. This is VinePair's: 50 Best Beers of 2018. To be considered,
" All beers had to be available in the U.S. in a can or bottle retail. (Sorry, crowlers! Maybe next year.) The top 50 list focuses on beers that are accessible; though a few may be hard to find, it is possible to procure them even if you’re not in that city or state. Although many beers are new in 2018, this is not a requirement. No beers from last year’s top 50 list were considered, and entries were limited to one beer per brewery. Beers were tasted more than once, particularly those among the top 10. "
Brews that made it onto this list came from all over the the world but predominantly from US breweries. Beers near here included:

Per the requirements of this ranking, all beers on this list should be available somewhere. Try your local bottle shop, Total Wine & More, or even Costco. Then, invite some friends over and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Fruit and Stout Cake

Don't count out all fruitcakes. (I'm talking about the edible kind.) Homemade fruitcakes are good and more varied that what you might come across at the grocery store.

This one is made with golden raisins, prunes, currants, and stout. It's a dark, dense cake that combines the sweetness of dried fruit with the smokey, roasty, chocolatey essence of stout. Bonus: it's a fruitcake you'll actually want to eat. Because it's literally fermented, you don't have time to make one before Christmas but if you hop to it now, you can slice off a piece on New Year's Day.

Go get some of your favorite stout - some for you, some for the cake. Get plenty; the cake takes several hours to make and weeks to ferment. In the end, if you don't like the cake, you will have had a good time and made a good door stop for somebody.

Monday, December 3, 2018

News to Me

"Your Favorite Shitty Beer Just Got a New Lease on Life" by Sarah Rense on
Pabst, which shut down its Milwaukee brewery in 1996, enjoyed a quick resurgence. Despite closing up shop, it had become terribly popular among the good hipsters of the Pacific Northwest, and that made it attractive to beer giant MillerCoors. [Emphasis, mine.]

Did you know, Pabst is the fifth most popular beer in America? I sure didn't.