BOTW–Trumer Pils

BOTW--Trumer Pils

Beer of the Week: Trumer Pils

A German style Pilsner, Trumer Pils is characterized by a distinct hops flavor, high carbonation and light body. A combination of Saaz and Austrian hops, malt mashing process and proprietary yeast make Trumer Pils unique among beers.

Sometimes you don’t want anything too complicated, especially while doing your end of the shift cleaning.



So I’m puzzled here, one of our favorite beers from Oskar Blues was their Gordon.

This last time we visited our local BevMo, we could find no trace.

Instead, we found another beer with a similar color scheme called G’Knight.

Oh wait.

While it is true that Dan Gordon, a founder of Gordon Biersch, has asked Oskar Blues to change the name of the beer “Gordon” it is a little more involved than the Beer Advocate posting would imply. Oscar Blues came out with a single beer named “Gordon,” in memory of the late brewer Gordon Knight, in 2002. Dan Gordon has been producing German Lagers and Hefeweizen with the name Gordon Biersch on the label since 1988. Dan asked Oskar Blues to change their beer name to “Knight” or some other moniker that consumers would not confuse with his beer for years. They had settled on a verbal agreement that Oskar Blues would not sell the brand “Gordon” in states where Gordon Biersch is distributed, which did not include Oskar Blues’ home state of Colorado. Oskar Blues did not hold up their end of the bargain and that is why legal action was taken.

Well, on the plus side, G’Knight is every bit as good as Gordon was…

Will sausages fall from a great height? That beer smells OK too.

Caught Mrs. Flannestad in the act of taking a picture of relish.

A half pie? How can you sell half a pie? Why not a small pie?

Corn and Avedano’s smoked wild boar sausages ready for the grill.

I like big buns and I can not lie.

Potato Salad.


BOTW–Almanac Summer 2010

Prep for dinner.

The other day, I was talking to Jesse Friedman about the beer his company, Almanac Beer Company had recently launched and he suggested, “A Beer of the Week Feature on would totally put us over the top.”

Always happy to oblige a friend.

The funny thing is, every time I make a punch and have Jesse taste it, he tells me it is kind of “sweet”. I usually reply, “Well it is Punch.”

To me the bottles of Almanac fall squarely in the region defined by Belgian Trippels, beers that, to me, are just a little too sweet and rich to drink before dinner. They need food to contrast against to be fully appreciated. Or you can drink them for dessert.

Anyway, it the Almanac Summer 2010 is a Belgian Style blended beer, aged in used wine barrels with berries.

This Citra-hopped golden ale is a snapshot of Sonoma County from the second week of July 2010. Hot sun and long days produced sweet and complex blackberries. Our first release melds the flavors of four varieties–Cherokee, Marion, Ollalie and Boysenberries–with hints of vanilla and oak from months aging in red wine barrels. Enjoy paired with triple-cream cheeses, roast pork, and grilled stone fruit.


The whole thing is a labor of love, blood, sweat, tears, and cash for Jesse and his partner.

Jesse is a friend of mine, you should buy his beer, even if he looks a little goofy when he poses for pictures. Take my word for it, he’s a good guy.

I’ve had Miso Baked Black Cod, everywhere from Alembic to Heaven’s Dog to The House.

It’s dead simple to make.

1/4 Cup Shaoshing Rice Wine
1/4 Cup White Miso Paste
1/4 Cup Sake
1/8 Cup Sugar
dash Sesame Oil

Heat to dissolve sugar, cool and pour over fish. Cook in a 325F oven until done. Plate fish on warm dinner plates, pour off cooking liquid and reduce. Pour over fish and serve.

Not sure where this dish originated, but I found some indication it might have been originally made at Nobu.

Cauliflower and Broccoli roasted with soy and chile bean paste.

Quinoa pilaf with green onions.

Drink more beer, preferably Almanac.

Speaking of, if you’re thirsty and have some free time this evening:

7×7 Week in Food

Thursday, July 14 2011

Starting at 6 p.m., Almanac Beer is celebrating their brewery launch at Shotwell’s Bar with pastrami dogs from Wise Son’s Deli, Nosh This’ beer caramels covered in chocolate, and Kitchen Sidecar’s beer-braised carnitas taco. Oh, yeah, and there will be beer: Almanac’s 2010 Vintage Blackberry Ale and Sour Summer 2010. 3349 20th St. (at Shotwell)

…and that Sour Summer 2010 is off the charts…


The Bruery Mischief

Mischief is a Hoppy Belgian-Style Golden Strong Ale. This wickedly good golden ale is fiendishly dry-hopped with American hops to add a layer of complexity and mystery to its fruity, dry Belgian-style character. Citrus and resin diabolically combine with ripe melon, pear and slight peppery spice in a precariously effervescent mixture. Enjoy it, but you’ll want to keep an eye out.

ABV: 8.5%
IBU: 35

Of the hopped Belgian-style ales we’ve tried lately, Mischief stood out for its subtle use of hops and not too sweet character. While not as dry as the Thiriez Extra, this is a pleasant American take on the Belgian style. I’d definitely buy this one again.

Chopped squash.

Israeli Couscous!

Asparagus for roasting.

“Will any of that Pancetta fall on the floor perchance?” Monty asks.

Sauteing the veggies for the Couscous dish.

This dinner was a little schizo: Jerk seasoned roast pork tenderloin. Israeli Couscous with pancetta and kabocha squash. Roast asparagus with tarragon and lemon.

Seems unlikely, but somehow it worked. The Joseph Swann Zinfandel even worked as a pairing. Strange.

BOTW–Ovila Dubbel

First, just a reminder that Sunday, June 26, 2011, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails, (they also have a great beer selection,) on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders, (and me,) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.

Purple Potatoes and Garlic roasted with Rosemary.

Ovila Dubbel.

Sierra Nevada is producing this beer in association with the Abbey of New Clairvaux in Vina, CA, about 20 Miles from Chico. They are planning on releasing three, all called Ovila. The first is this Dubbel. It is quite tasty, a fairly traditional Belgian in style, not a modern reinterpretation. Glad to see Sierra Nevada producing so many new and interesting experiments, along with their regular offerings. Later this year they will release a Saison and a Quadrupel.

Ovila Abbey Ales: Sierra Nevada Update

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of these beers will go toward the restoration of the historic Ovila chapter house building on the grounds of the Abbey of New Clairvaux in Vina, California, just a few miles north of Sierra Nevada’s home in Chico. This medieval chapter house was begun in 1190 near the village of Trillo, Spain. Monks lived, prayed, and worked there for nearly 800 years. In 1931, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst purchased the abbey, dismantled it stone-by-stone, and shipped it to Northern California. Hearst’s plans were never realized, and the stones fell into disrepair. In 1994, the monks of the Abbey of New Clairvaux gained possession of the ruins, and began the painstaking reconstruction of the historic abbey.

Mrs. Flannestad got a little obsessed with Blueberries this week and purchased a whole lot, so she made a Blueberry Buckle with some of them.

Five Dot Ribeyes, ready for grilling.

Fresh Porcini Mushrooms sauteed with shallots and deglazed with Sherry.

First Flip.

First Turn.


One more Flip.

Monty would like some steak, please.

Grilled Ribeyes, Roasted Potatoes, and braised greens.

Buckle for dessert.


Over the years we’ve tried a few Hopped American Beers in an Belgian style and even a few Belgian Beers inspired by American Ales. I believe this is the first hopped French Saison we’ve run across, though the inspiration is more English than American.

It appears to be imported into the US by Shelton Brothers, who have a page about it on their website, Thiriez EXTRA:

This particular beer is an interesting joint effort with an English brewery. It uses one hop varietal, a rather unusual hop grown in Kent called ‘Bramling Cross.’ The malt is from 2-row spring barley grown in France. (The English brewer is brewing to the same recipe, with the same ingredients, for sale in the U.K., under the French name.) The result has certain characteristics of an English bitter: it’s not too strong, very dry, and eminently drinkable.

And the brewery Thiriez itself has this to say about the beer:

Initialement nommée “les Frères de la Bière”, elle est le fruit d’un partenariat avec un brasseur anglais, John Davidson de la Swale Brewery, dans le cadre d’un projet Interreg.
Blonde, légère en alcool, un houblon aromatique du Kent, utilisé très généreusement lui confère son caractère unique..

“Dès l’attaque, l’amertume est là, puissante, enrobante,bien associée au malt. Structure moelleuse, bien maltée et sans lourdeur. Du houblon à l’état nature envahit le palais. Les amateurs vont en raffoler”

Bière Magazine mars-avril 2006

Exportée au USA sous le nom de Thiriez EXTRA

Quite a head on that one! I apologize to the beer geeks in the audience. Well the gentlemen at the shop did warn me to have a glass ready when I opened the bottle. Definitely one of those which would need to be poured very, very carefully to get the appropriate 3/4 inch head.

In any case, this is another selection from Healthy Spirits, I was in the mood for a Saison last Friday afternoon, and this was their recommendation. To quote, “My favorite Saison nobody is buying.” I totally agree with just about everything the Shelton Bros website has to say about this beer, pleasant, interesting character, not too strong. The sort of beer, in an ideal world, you could drink all afternoon while watching the grass grow or weeding the garden in France or Belgium.

Oven braised Steelhead filet baked on top of lemon slices, with fresh tarragon.

Mrs. Flannestad purchased a large amount of Blueberries at the Alemany Farmers’ Market, with the hopes of making a Clafoutis. We found a recipe for Blueberry and Nectarine Clafoutis on epicurious, and she made it with peaches. Delicious.

Monty is (n)ever patient.

Merry Edwards 2007 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

The wine is a mirror, clearly reflecting a pure fruit focus, characteristic of this vintage. Luminescent ruby in color, its attractive aroma is perfumed with a mouthwatering medley of cola, red raspberries, plums and blueberries. Exotic Indian spices, a touch of earth and vanilla bean add complex accents. This elegant Pinot shows an invitingly rich entry. The refined mid-palate is soft, round and supple followed by a finish that offers balanced, restrained tannins. Appealing now, this wine will surprise you with its development – the cool area parentage ensures subtle integration of flavors with increased depth and body over time.

An all right wine. Definitely fruit forward. It was just too big for the Steelhead prepration I had decided on. Rose or a hearty white might have been more appropriate.

Red Quinoa Pilaf with Carrots, Spring Onions, and Pine Nuts. Tomatero Farms Lacinto Kale with caramelized onions. I had an idea with the kale to cut the kale stems and caramelize them with the onions. I always like roasted brassicas, and this turned out similar and quite delicious.


When I was talking to some friends about our recent “Hop Off!“, I asked what they thought of the beers we had tried. A couple of them professed to not really like those rather extreme examples of Hopsmanship.

One example a friend gave, was that they preferred Drake’s Denogginizer to the more extreme Hopocalypse.

Denogginizer Double India Pale Ale – 9.75% ABV, 90 IBUs
Silver Medal winner for Imperial India Pale Ale, Great American Beer Festival 2009. Besides Jolly Roger, this is probably Drake’s most renowned beer. An Imperial (or Double) IPA, Denogginizer is a big bold beer hopped with an abundant amount of Simcoe and Amarillo with a touch of Ahtanum and Chinook. Mashed with Crystal malt and Caramalt for color and flavor to help balance out the hop assault. Denogginizer is also Drake’s most powerful regular offering, at a whopping 10% alcohol by volume!

Well, I don’t know, Denogginzer is an Imperial IPA and Hopocalypse is a Double IPA. What the difference is technically between a Double IPA and an Imperial IPA, I do not know. I do know Denogginizer is even stronger, sweeter, and maltier than Hopocalypse. Hopocalypse seemed Hoppier, but it might just have been the varieties used, not the amount of Hops. If I remember correctly from the Hop Off!, and night of the Hop Off! is a little blurry for some reason, I think I preferred Hopocalypse.

WesMar 2006 Russian River Zinfandel

2006 Zinfandel, Russian River Valley (183 cases)
Aromas of spice, and berry fruits. The mouth offers a sweet blackberry entry followed by wild berries, anise,
chocolate, cola with minimal oak. This is a fun medium bodied zinfandel with a medium length finish that is vinous
and well balanced.

Beef Stew with Winter Vegetables.


Well, what with the world ending on the 21st of May and all, Mrs. Flannestad and I were talking about what we would want for our last meals.

We’re not huge fans of overly rich foods, so no Foie for us, thank you.

To be honest, one of my favorite dinners is fairly simply roasted chicken with a salad and risotto.

I suggested it, Mrs. Flannestad said, “Make it so!”

I learned this risotto dish on from an actual Italian. Steep some dried mushrooms (I used Chanterelles) in hot water. Remove soaked mushrooms from soaking liquid and reserve liquid. Mince mushrooms. Trim and clean your asparagus. Break off the tips. Steam (or blanch) the stalks. Prepare an ice bath. When the stalks are tender, drop them in the ice bath to stop them cooking and set the chlorophyll. Puree the stalks in a blender with some of the soaking liquid from the mushrooms. On a stove, combine pureed asparagus with the rest of the soaking liquid and some water, chicken, or veggie stock over low heat. Brunoise a half an onion and a half a carrot (some like to use leeks or celery instead, so the carrot color doesn’t distract). Heat a heavy pan large enough to contain your risotto. Add oil and 1 cup risotto. Cook until it is fragrant and lightly browned. Add the onion and carrot and sautee briefly. Add enough warm stock to cover the rice. Simmer, adding liquid as it is absorbed until the rice is just a little firm to the tooth. Stir in the minced dried mushrooms. In a separate pan, saute the asparagus tips. Stir a little finely grated parmesan (or other tasty cheese) into the risotto. Add some finely minced fresh herbs, (like Marjoram or Oregano,) and adjust seasonings. Fold in aspargus tips. Serve and grate a little more grated parmesan cheese.

Spatchcocked the chicken (as usual from Avedano’s), rubbed it with olive oil, salt and pepper, and fresh herbs. Roasted in a convection oven at 400 degrees F until done.

Russian River Damnation, of course.

Damnation: In the great beer producing country of Belgium, some brewers have made it a tradition to give their beers an unusual name. Sometimes the name is curious, now and then it is diabolical and other times it is just plain silly. Damnation is our brewmaster’s interpretation of a Belgian style Strong Golden Ale. It has extraordinary aromas of banana and pear with mouth filling flavors of sweet malt and earthy hops. The lingering finish is dry and slightly bitter but very, very smooth.

7.0%ABV / 1.068 O.G / 25 BUs

Salad with not so great tomatoes (it’s too early in the year) and balsamic vinaigrette.

True Confession: For many years I overdressed my salads and over seasoned my salad dressing.

Hey, I grew up in the midwest, and really the lettuce was more of a garnish for the syrupy salad dressing and accoutrements of the salad. The idea that you’d want to actually taste the greens was foreign.

However, since moving to California, we’ve had a lot of good salads, and I’ve realized simpler is better, when it comes to dressing.

I’ve actually read a bunch of classic cook books, and its interesting that garlic is never really an ingredient in the actual salad dressing. Usually what is suggested is that you rub a garlic clove into the salad bowl before making the dressing and tossing the salad.

I’ve started adopting that, though I don’t have a big wooden salad bowl.

What I do is put a little kosher salt in the bottom the bowl, then I rub the garlic clove in that. Sort of making garlic flavored salt. Then I rub any garlic sticking to the clove and discard the clove. To the seasoned salt, I add the ingredients for the salad dressing. Finally toss the leaves in the dressing. I’m still working on dressing my salads less, but this ends up giving you salads that taste more of your ingredients and less of raw garlic.

Pulling out the big guns, Radio Couteau La Neblina, 2007.

Spanish for “fog,” la neblina rolls in from the Pacific Ocean to blanket and cool the coastal Pinot Noir vineyards of western Sonoma County. Aged on primary lees for 15 months, this cuvee is a blend from four truly coastal vineyard sites where this classic vintage was captured. The core of this blend is from vines planted in the Goldridge soils of the Sebastopol Bench along Gravenstein Highway 116. We fermented with 10% whole cluster in 2009 to add tannin complexity, structure, and spiciness.

Salad with Tomatoes and vinaigrette, Asparagus Risotto, Spatchcocked Chicken, Damnation, Sonoma County Pinot Noir and Mrs. Flannestad. Life is good!

BOTW–Double Trouble & Chilayo

First, just a reminder that Sunday, May 22, 2011, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails, (they also have a great beer selection,) on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders, (and me,) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.

When I was growing up, my sister and I weren’t really allowed into the kitchen. Basically, about the only things we were allowed to do were load and unload the dishwasher and decorate Christmas cookies. Especially since the family roles were very traditional, even if I displayed some interest in cooking, men were really only allowed to grill things outdoors in our house.

Consequently, I was sent off to college with very little idea of how to feed myself. I survived the first couple years on dorm food, Ramen, and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

But then I went and spent what little money I had saved on Comic Books and Records, so I had to get a job. I also needed to an apartment outside of the dorms, so I didn’t have to spend summers at home with my parents.

I really don’t remember how I ended up getting a job at Brat und Brau, I don’t think it was anything more than a random job application submission. Anyway, after they determined that I was unsuited for service work, I was assigned to the job of getting the dining room in order for lunch service, including setting up the salad bar and popping the corn.

Somehow, I parlayed this experience at Brat und Brau into a job as a prep cook in the catering department of a local deli chain.

It was there that I realized that I really enjoyed cooking. I mean at first I didn’t make anything more complicated than my typical bachelor food: fried potatoes with bacon, eggs, and cheese, but I sort of sunk into it and started to absorb the business and culture.

I’d always felt a bit like an outsider, and the people at the catering company were people I felt more comfortable with than a lot of the friends I had grown up with. They were outsiders. In the 1980s and 1990s, cooking was not yet really a reputable career, and my parents weren’t exactly thrilled with this new direction. I even tried to drop out of college my junior year and just cook, but they wouldn’t let me, “We’ve paid for your tuition this far, you WILL graduate.”

Anyway, I did eventually graduate, with a lovely and useful Bachelor of Arts in English, but as soon as I had finished college, I went into cooking full time at a local Southwestern Restaurant.

At the Southwestern restaurant, I was initially thrilled, this was really good food. Or, well, it seemed to be at the time. But then I started reading about actual Southwestern and Mexican Food, Mark Miller and Diana Kennedy were my first two big authors, and realized what we were serving was, well, not that good. A mishmash of Italian-American comfort food and Southwestern food, even though we were using decent ingredients, it bore no resemblance to any of the dishes I made from Ms. Kennedy nor even Mr. Miller.

Along with the early influences of Ms. Kennedy, Mr. Miller, and the Chinese Food Books of Nina Simonds, one of the people who has been most influential on me later in life is Alton Brown.

I always really like people who get down to the basics and demystify things that seem too complicated. Or, well, things that other people have made seem too complicated. Sure, cooking is complicated, but there are methods which allow us to understand it, and even generally end up with predictable outcomes.

I really like that he has always been on the side of demystifying food from a technical perspective, but not only that, but that he has championed American Food and Food Culture. He even seems like a sensible man.

I recently learned that Alton Brown has decided to stop producing new episodes of his Good Eats show on the Food Network, after a mere 249 segments and something like 10 years. Get sad about the end of a TV show? Especially one on the Food Network? Seems a little pathetic. But, I am. You can make fun of me now.

The first beer this week, is the Orchard White from the Bruery.

Orchard White is an unfiltered, bottle conditioned Belgian-style witbier. This hazy, straw yellow beer is spiced with coriander, citrus peel and lavender added to the boil and whirlpool. A spicy, fruity yeast strain is used to add complexity, and rolled oats are added for a silky texture.

I didn’t read the label at first, and was like, “What’s that flavor?” Put on my glasses, checked the fine print. Oh right, Lavender. Well, at 5% ABV or so, the Orchard White is easy drinking and enjoyable. Spiced Wit Beers are not generally my favorite Belgian style, but this isn’t bad, despite the Lavender, maybe on a hot day, when you’re feeling a little floral. Interestingly, I recently read that the Bruery is reorganizing its beer production and varieties, and to make room for other things in its schedule will be discontinuing the Orchard White.

Monty, however, is not impressed, with all this boring monkey talk about beer and food preparation. Until all this blah blah is over, he will be waiting on his chair at the table.

The second beer is Hops on Rye from Firehouse Brewing. I really know zilch about this beer and brewery other than a friend recommended it to us. Looks like it is brewed at a sports bar chain which has locations in East Palo Alto and Sunnyvale. The beer isn’t bad, a Rye based IPA, but I think Bear Republic’s Hop Rod Rye is a more, uh, elegant example of this style. Mrs. Flannestad enjoyed it more than I, it seemed just a little unpolished to me.

One of the first dishes I made from Diana Kennedy’s “Art of Mexican Cooking” was a pork stew called Chilayo. Like most Mexican dishes, there’s a bit of semi-labor intensive prep on the front end, and then its pretty easy. Preheat your oven to 300. Basically, soak some chiles in boiling water, then puree them with onions, garlic, and spices. While that is going on, cut up some pork stew meat (this was a very nice piece of Kurobota pork shoulder from Avedano’s Holly Park Market), pour warm water (or stock) over it, start it simmering. Add the pureed chiles and a half pound of quartered tomatillos. Cover and move to the oven and cook until the pork is tender. I served it with Rancho Gordo Cranberry Beans (cooked with a ham hock), Plain Brown Rice, spicy braised chard, and warm corn tortillas.

Definitely Good Eats.


The other day I was again at Healthy Spirits chatting with the nice gentlemen of the store.

I mentioned I was in the market for a dark beer, (more about that later,) and an IPA. We went over the beers I’d sampled for the “Hop Off“, and David Hauslein mentioned in addition to those, now would be the time to sample Avery’s Maharaja.

Beer Style: Imperial India Pale Ale
Hop Variety: Simcoe, Columbus, Centennial and Chinook
Malt Variety: Two-row barley, caramel 120L, victory
OG: 1.090 ABV: 10.24% IBUs: 102
Color: Dark Amber
Availability: Seasonally produced from March through August. 22oz. bombers, 1/6BBL and 1/2BBL kegs.

Maharaja is derived from the sanskrit words mahat, – “great” and rajan – “king”. Much like its namesake, this imperial IPA is regal, intense and mighty. With hops and malts as his servants, he rules both with a heavy hand. The Maharaja flaunts his authority over a deranged amount of hops: tangy, vibrant and pungent along with an insane amount of malted barley – fashioning a dark amber hue and exquisite malt essence.

Mrs. Flannestad had tried Maharaja on one or another of her out-of-state trips and I’d been on the lookout for it in the San Francisco area, but hadn’t found it before that afternoon at Healthy Spirits.

But, Mr. Hauslein’s point was that Avery had announced that it was pulling its beers from a number of states, including California. It turns out expansion and demand isn’t always a good thing, and Avery had slightly over extended itself.

Which led us to jaw a bit about the problem of expansion. Expansion is good up to a point, but when demand oustrips your ability to produce, it can become a problem. Alternatively, a presence in a larger state may require a lot of inventory, but if demand is low, beer is a perishable item. Unlike Whiskey or Tequila, it can’t sit indefinitely on a shelf. And if it does, your product may not be presented in its best light.

So what do you do? Purposely limit your distribution (a la New Glarus Brewing) or expand? If you expand, where does the capital come from and how will you maintain both your businesses internal culture and quality control in a larger, more industrial enterprise?

Which brought up Goose Island. Goose Island was recently acquired by shareholder, and multinational corporation, Anheuseur-Busch/In-Bev. A lot of people are up in arms that their favorite small-ish brewery has been wholly aquired by a multinational. The devil will be in the details, but neither of us were entirely sure this was a bad thing. If In-Bev allows Goose Island the Independence and latitude to produce the same beers they always have, is it a bad thing?

Isn’t it better that the multinationals invest and acquire smaller brewers than they produce fake micro brews, a la Blue Moon, and dilute the consumer’s perceived value of micro brewers?

On the other hand, at least in the distilled spirits industry, few spirits producers seem to manage to continue to produce the same quality product for very long after being acquired. A couple tequila producers come to mind. First there are new bottles, then there are new ad campaigns, then the product line is expanded, then what’s in the bottle seems to change. For the worse.

I guess it remains to be seen whether these beer companies are in this for a quick cashout or for the long haul.

But, for the time being, our first delicious bottle of Maharaja in California, may be our last.