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.

BOTW–Ale Flip

Ale Flip
Put on the fire in a saucepan one quart of Ale (16 oz Speedway Stout), and let it boil; have ready the whites of two eggs and the yolks of four (er, one egg separated, yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon of caster sugar, and the white beaten to soft peaks), well beaten up separately; add them by degrees to four tablespoonsful of moist sugar, and half a nutmeg grated. When all are well mixed, pour on the boiling Ale by degrees, beating up the mixture continually; then pour it rapidly backward and forward from one jug to another, keeping one jug raised high above the other; till the flip is smooth and finely frothed.

Note: This is a good remedy to take at the commencement of a cold.

The last time I made this, thinking I would make it with a Traditional London Ale, I tried it with Fuller’s London Pride Ale and it was pretty dreadful.

While contemplating making the Ale Flip again, I trying to think of some way to salvage the drink, and it occurred to me that this very old drink was likely made with a beer which was to a certain extent sour, as fermentation with wild yeast was much more common in the time previous to the industrialization of beer production and a better understanding of what exactly yeast is.

However, that would have required me to purchase more beer, and Mrs. Flannestad has lately complaining about the slight build up of undrunk Stouts and Porters in the house. She does not generally enjoy that style of beer, so I only ever drink them on my own.

Anyway, a while back we got this Speedway Stout, and I thought instead of buying some sour beer, I’d try the Ale Flip with Stout. My reasoning went something like Flip->Eggs->Breakfast->Coffee->Espresso Stout!

AleSmith Speedway Stout

A HUGE Imperial Stout that weighs in at an impressive 12% ABV! As if that’s not enough, we added pounds of coffee for a little extra kick….Jet Black, with an off-white head. Starts with a strong coffee and dark chocolate sensation, then fades to a multitude of toasty, roasty and caramel malt flavors. Clean and crisp, full- bodied. Warmth from the high alcohol content lightens up the feel.

And my am I glad I did. I may not have enjoyed this drink with London Pride, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with an Spiced Warm Whipped Espresso Stout Custard, essentially what this drink is. In fact, I enjoyed it so, I was kind of bummed when I ran out of flip and had to drink the rest of the beer all on its own.

Just don’t ask us to make this for you during the next Savoy Night at Alembic Bar, as the bartender may react strongly after they read the bizarre recipe.

Though, hm, if we warmed the beer with the wand on the espresso machine, whipped the eggs with the little cream whipping wand, it might not be too bad.

Well, anyway, order it at your own risk. It certainly is a drink which gives you a good amount of respect for what was going on in the 19th Century, (well more like 15th-18th,) Century Tavern.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the drinks in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, the, uh, Sauterne Cup.

BOTW–Hop Off!

First, just a reminder that Sunday, April 24, 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.

French Style Potato Salad.

Most potato salad in the US is made according to the mayonnaise dressed model. Another tasty way to make Potato Salad is, according to Julia Child, more French. I am not an expert in French Cuisine, so I cannot say. I do, however like this kind of Potato Salad. What are the characteristics? Start some potatoes boiling or steaming. While that is happening, make the dressing, (or maybe Marinade is a better term,) by finely mincing some shallots and herbs (Fresh Tarragon FTW! Fresh Dill is also great!). Splash in a little White Wine or Sherry vinegar, olive oil, a teaspoon of coarse mustard. Liberally dash in Salt and freshly ground black pepper. When the potatoes are just barely cooked, drain them and toss them in the marinade. Allow to stand for a bit, check the seasonings, and serve at room temperature. I embellished this version by also including steamed green beans along with the potatoes. Very tasty.

I like to add things to hamburgers.

Different people have different philosophies on Hamburgers. Are they just beef or do you season them? Fabio Viviani got dinged for hamburgers which were too much like, “Meat Loaf,” by the judges on this year’s Top Chef Season. Personally, I like to skirt the edge of Meat Loaf by adding some bread crumbs and seasonings.

Flannestad Hamburgers: In a large bowl wet a couple tablespoons of bread crumbs with wine and olive oil. Finely mince a couple cloves garlic and a teaspoon of onions. Decide on a regional seasoning theme. I like Spain lately, and season with Spicy Smoked Paprika, Thyme, and Oregano. Add a pound of ground beef and knead lightly until combined. Divide into three patties. Before cooking season with salt and pepper.

These Ledbetter’s English Muffins are my current favorite Hamburger Buns. However, they are a little thick, so I like to take about an eighth of an inch out of the middle when cutting them for burger accessories.

Wherein I deviate from my commute in search of beer.

The other Friday I was at work and remembered that we needed more beer at home. However, after a few years I have exhausted most of the typical choices at the two nearest stops on my commute. I thought to myself, “Man it would be awesome if there was some way I could stop off at one of this cities great bottle shops for some unusual beers on the way home.” Then I saw a comment from the manager of local bottle store Healthy Spirits, and thought to myself, “Wait, if I took the 6 MUNI Bus to Haight and Divis, then walked to Healthy Spirits, I could get some tasty beer. Then, the 24 MUNI Bus stops right in front of the store and takes me all the way to Cortland Avenue! Score! Cool beer, and it probably won’t take any longer than usual.”

I had been drinking dark beers recently, so I asked for a selection of Hoppy beers, thinking Mrs. Flannestad and I could do a bit of a taste off among a few we hadn’t yet tried.

Sierra Nevada, Hoptimum

A group of hop-heads and publicans challenged our Beer Camp brewers to push the extremes of whole-cone hop brewing. The result is this: a 100 IBU, whole-cone hurricane of flavor. Simply put —Hoptimum: the biggest whole-cone IPA we have ever produced. Aggressively hopped, dry-hopped, AND torpedoed with our exclusive new hop varieties for ultra-intense flavors and aromas.

Mr. Flannestad: I liked this, but found the finish a tad overpoweringly bitter for my liking.

Mrs. Flannestad: The most hoppy delicious beer of the evening. Winner and Grand Champeen!

Drake’s, Hopocalypse IIPA – 9.3% ABV, 100+ IBUs

Large amounts of American two-row malt and English Pale malt are combined with Vienna, Rye & Crystal malts, then balanced with German magnum, Simcoe & Chinook hops. Then, of course, we then dry hop it with additional Simcoe & Chinook. Finally, this deep orange monster is loosely filtered to keep the integrity of the malt and hops in tact. Enjoy the massive aromatic revelation and prophetic flavor of this beer now and forever after.

Mr. Flannestad: I seem to remember finding Hopocalypse my favorite of the evening, just enough hops to balance out the malt.

Mrs. Flannestad: Tasty, but a little too over-hopped to take the lead.


Humlemord er en ølserie, hvor vi bruger så store mængder humle, at vi kalder det humlemord. Facts om Passion of Hops: OG: 1104 FG: 1030 Alkohol 9,9% vol.Brygget d. 11. december 2009, tappet d. 8 februar 2010, IBU 160. Indhold 33 cl.Brygget på malt, vand, gær, sukker, humle (Sorachi, Amarillo, Chinook, Simcoe, Columbus, Palisade) Ufiltreret og upasteuriseret Bør opbevares mørkt og køligt. Mindst holdbar til: 10. marts 2012

Mr. Flannestad: This was kind of weird, not a great fusion of Belgian and American styles. More interesting than outstanding.

Mrs. Flannestad: I had high hopes for this one as I smuggled it home for Mr. Underhill from Denmark. The woman in the shop in Copenhagen told me that the translation was “HOP MURDER” so I was very intrigued.  However, the additional aging spent waiting for this HOPPY occasion was not kind to the carbonation. Note to self: drink souvenir beer immediately after landing in celebration of making it home alive.

Burgers were grilled over lump mesquite and garnished with arugula, tomato slices, and sauteed onions.

Firestone Walker, Double Jack

Double Jack IPA is our first ever Imperial IPA. It features a big malty middle to cloak the high alcohol and mouth puckering hop bitterness. Huge tangerine, grapefruit and juicy fruit aroma blossom over the herbal blue basil and malt earthiness of this aggressive beer. Best enjoyed in moderation.

Mr. Flannestad: The maltiest entry of the beers we tried this evening, very good. I would rank it No. 2 among those tried.

Mrs. Flannestad: This was my second favorite of the evening, but I felt that it could have used some HOP in the name to qualify for the competition.  Double Jack didn’t quite fit in, but was very delicious. and hoppy good.

BOTW–Arend Tripel

I really like this beer. First off, I find most Belgian-style Tripels to be too sweet for my taste.

GREAT LABEL! Anyway, the Arend Tripel, while in reality not all that dry, manages to seem drier than it is. I think it is the touch of hops, especially, that give it that impression.

It is also very complex, you can whip out some of those fun Belgian descriptors: Bananas, Clove, bubblegum, and the always popular “Horse Blanket”. No, I’m kidding about the Horse Blanket, I don’t detect much, if any, Brett in this beer. Save that descriptor for Waterloo’s Oud Beersel Oude Gueze. That’s Oud, not Ood, Dr. Who Fans, but if you want to conflate, conflate away.

Kudos to Waterloo Beverages for bringing in this, and the other eclectic Belgian Beers of their range. Great beers, one and all.

BOTW–Velvet Merkin

Right, well, this is sort of my St. Patrick’s Day Post… The Irish love a good shaggy dog story, right?

At Alembic Bar, they would occasionally have the Firestone-Walker beer “Velvet Merkin” on tap. A very nice California Oatmeal Stout with a hilarious name.

I leave it to you, to discover the rather Not Safe For Work nature of the meaning of “Merkin”.

Just this winter, I found Firestone-Walker had finally bottled what I thought was “Velvet Merkin”. This amused me to no end, and I had to buy a six pack tout de suite. Thinking Firestone-Walker had managed to slip one past the TTB, I posted the news to facebook, “Velvet Merkin in bottles! Looks like someone at the TTB forgot to bring their dictionary to work!” Unfortunately, Dan Miller, (of Sloshed!,) deflated my enjoyment by pointing out the beer was now called “Velvet Merlin”.

Looked in the fridge. Sure enough the beer had gone from Burlesque to Renaissance Faire. “Velvet Merlin”? Really? That is just soooo lame.

Well, despite the pathetic sorcerous nature of the new name, the beer is still tasty.

At 5.5% ABV, Velvet Merlin is a nice change from the usual over alcoholic Imperial Stouts so popular these days with American Craft brewers. Good flavor, too, and nice body. All the things you look for in an Oatmeal Stout. It will definitely put some hair on your… Well… Uh, chin. Yeah, that’s it. Chin.

BOTW–Midnight Sessions

Another beer from one of my favorite breweries on the West Coast, Port Brewing, in San Diego, CA.

Black beers seem to be all the rage these days among brewers, I guess the style is probably defined by using darkly roasted grains in combination with the other elements more common among IPAs. Heavily hopped dark beers are about the most common style.

Port Brewing’s Midnight Sessions is all about the dark roasted malt, but with mild hoppiness. It’s also surprisingly light in the ABV, my bottle says 5%, and sweetness, making it appropriate as a “session beer”. If you’re looking for a domestic replacement for Guinness, this might be it.

I’ll steal the fairly poetic copy from their label:

It’s not often that a great swell coincides with a full moon. But when they collide, nature affords us a rare opportunity to paddle out long after everyone has called it a day.

These moments are a solitary pursuit with empty lineups. But those who carve graceful lines under a full moon understand how things can be dark, lonely and rewarding at the same time.

So next time you paddle in from an overcrowded beach break, remember that nothing tastes better than a cold beer after a session.

We suggest a roasty black lager for contemplating empty lineups and waves that go on for days. Most likely you’ll long for epic summer swells under moon lit sessions, opening the doors to isolation and empty secret spots on an age trying to pass us by…

With the Extreme Super Full Moon coming up on March 19th, this seems particularly appropriate!

Extreme Super (Full) Moon to Cause Chaos?

Coming up later this month (March 19 to be exact) the moon will make its closest approach to Earth (called lunar perigee) in 18 years. A new or full moon at 90% or greater of its closest perigee to Earth has been named a “SuperMoon” by astrologer Richard Nolle. This term has been recently picked up by astronomers. An extreme “SuperMoon” is when the moon is full or new as well as at its 100% greater mean perigee (closest) distance to earth. By this definition, last month’s full moon, this month’s and next month’s will all be extreme “SuperMoons”.