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Oregon Brewers Festival

By Joe Ruvel · July 28th, 2013 · Comments Off

What a well run festival. From the people at the gates to how they serve the beer  - this festival was one of the best run festivals I have ever been to. Because it ran 5 days this year the opportunity to go on a day that isn’t that crowded is great for anyone that can do it. We went on day 2 of the festival (thursday) and it was perfect. Sunny, right on the water with a good amount of people there (festive without being crowded). Fun music, lots of food options AND you can bring in food which we did (Kenny and Zuke’s pastrami sandwich!).

I liked the idea that each brewery brings the same beer every day for five days. It lets you easily associate a beer with a brewery and try a bunch. My friend Bill thought that two beers would be good per brewery and I get what he is saying. That way you could try a brewery’s options while still having a choice. Still I liked it as a different style festival then the 5 beers per brewery smorgasbord that I am used to.

Some of my favorite brews were:

Hop Contract – Fort George Brewery – BIG hop flavor without too big a body. Lots of talk about this brewery in Portland right now.

Bone Crusher Imperial Red – Silver Moon Brewing –  liking this style  - real tasty brew – 100 IBU – 8.6% abv

Cluster F Single-Hop IPA  - Double Mountain – Cluster Hops in the face! Goooood bitterness. Like this brewery a lot  - Vaporizer Pale was pretty darn good too.

Overrated West Coast IPA – Surly Brewing Company (!) – real excited to see them here – kind of a surprise – and I liked this one a good amount.

DJ Jazzy Hef – Gilgamesh Brewery  -  got this one because of the name mostly but we liked it – it has Jasmine in it but it was just a bit and overall a good one

And now some pics:

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If you have never been – I would plan to go next year – a vacation to Portaland with OBF part of it is a great way to spend a few days in July.

Comments OffTags: Beerventures

Beer at Joe’s: European Vacation

By Jasmine · July 7th, 2013 · 1 Comment

Beer at Joe’s is setting out to travel the world! We are going to Hungary, Romania, Poland, Austria, Germany, Ireland, Scotland, and Israel, plus a few months traveling around the US. We’re going to be gone for 8-10 months. It’s going to be our greatest Beerventure of all.

Since we’re working on new things, we may be starting some new blogs to focus on our separate projects–stay tuned for links and updates!

Also, if you’re one of our beer buddies in the SF Bay Area, we are having a going away party at our house on July 13th–email Joe at joe@beeratjoes.com for details.

→ 1 CommentTags: Beerventures

The Perks of Being a Cheesemonger

By Jasmine · June 14th, 2013 · 2 Comments

Working in the artisinal food industry is not easy. You don’t generally make much money, the hours are long, you’re usually on your feet, and the conditions are never cushy. You have to truly believe that what you’re doing is bettering the planet, or humanity, or animal lives, or whatever it is that drives you.

Or, you have to really dig the perks. Lean into them, if you will.

My friend and former Cowgirl co-worker Ruth now works for La Quercia, an amazing company that specializes in one of my favorite food groups (second to cheese, of course): salty, cured meats. They are based in Iowa, where the vast majority of US pork is raised. They know all their farmers and specialize in humanely raised, heritage breed pigs. So when Ruth contacted me to see if I wanted to join in on creating some beer and meat pairings at Magnolia Brewing. she got a resounding “Hell, yes”, and we agreed to meet at the brewery Monday morning.

So while you were having your first strategic team meeting of the week, I was getting half-pickled with Ruth and Ben Spencer, Magnolia’s Head Brewer.

When ever I do a tasting set of any kind (cheese, chocolate, wine) there is always one beer (or wine) that goes with everything. In this case, it was the Big Cypress Brown. We tasted what you might call a “vertical” of prosciuttos to go along with the beer. We had Prosciutto Piccante (rubbed with fennel & red pepper), Speck (smoked proscuitto), Tamworth, Berkshire, and Acorn Tamworth Spalaccia (a sort of prosciutto made from the front leg). Tamworth and Berkshire are heritage pork breeds. Herb Eckhouse, owner of La Quercia along with wife Kathy, calls these “varietals”, just like a fine wine. They even have Acorn editions of Berkshire and Tamworth, where the pigs spend the last few months of their life foraging for acorns. The Acorn Tamworth Prosciutto will be released in late 2013.The pairings will be revealed at an 18 Reasons event on June 30th that is part of their west coast Ham Independence tour (if you still think Italy makes the best/only prosciutto, go buy a ticket now). I mean, Herb and Kathy have made Spaniards declare that the best cured meats being made today are coming out of Iowa.

I also got to chat with Ben a bit–he says the new Magnolia location in Dogpatch is set to open in July–hooray! He’s been with Magnolia since 2004, and moved to San Francisco just for this gig and apparently is still loving it. The way he put it is “Why would I consider leaving a company that is growing so fast?” Also, your fun fact of the day: He told me they have started using more Maris Otter malt, a type of English malt known for its crispness, because a Haight St. neighbor’s father grows it.

I will give you a few hints on the pairings: Cole Porter + Speck = cozy chair by an English pub fire. Long Break Bitter + nutty Berkshire =sweet bursts of porky love.

The best kind of love.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Beer & Food · Tastings

Make a cheese platter at home

By Jasmine · June 5th, 2013 · Comments Off

When I say make a cheese platter at home, I mean the platter part quite literally.

At its most basic, the simplest way to do this is to take a nice piece of wood, sand it all nice and rounded and splinter-free, and then mineral-oil the shit out of it.

Birdseye maple cutting board

My dad gave me this for Christmas. It’s birdseye maple, which he just happens to have a bunch of sitting around. Birdseye maple cannot be grown–you just have to find it in the wild, much like black truffles–and no one knows why it happens. It has all kinds of little eyes in it, which tear out easily, making it hard to work with. However, because it’s maple, once you’ve got it in the shape you want, if you take care of it it will last forever. Just like anything else rare, hard to work with, and long lasting, it’s incredibly expensive. You can use other hardwoods, of course, like walnut, regular maple, or teak.

The Bird's Eyes

The second simplest (and more trendy) way is to buy some chalkboard paint, paint a flat surface, and plunk down your spread with labels.

Cheese on Chalkboard action

Breakfast in bed, with a cute message

Dark wood stain covers all sins

I fished this breakfast tray out of the trash. When I got it, it had rows of cheesy Mary Engelbreit style flowers across it. In fact, if you rub chalk over the whole surface, gravestone-rubbing style, you can still see them. So I sanded it down, stained the sides inside and out with a nice dark stain, right over top of remnants of blue paint that would just not come out. Then I painted the inside with chalkboard paint, intended to be used as a cute breakfast in bed tray, and then the bottom to use as a meat and cheese tray. It came out just as nice as I hoped it would.

Now I’m going to sell it.

Comments OffTags: Beer & Food

Adventures with Hops

By Jasmine · April 12th, 2013 · Comments Off

And for your enjoyment today, a guest post:

Jake Metzler is a home brewing fanatic who loves to write and share his knowledge with others. When he’s not brewing, you can probably find him rock climbing and/or listening to eighties metal.

As a home brewer, I often find myself latching on to the latest trends in beer. If I see that a commercial brand has just released pomegranate ale or something else I haven’t tried to make, I start researching into how I could make something similar.
Since IPAs have gained popularity over the last few years, I’ve been using a lot of hops in my home brewing. IPAs are noted (and sometimes hated) for their bitterness, since they use a lot of bittering hops, put into the brew during the boiling process when they will release the most alpha acids.
One trend I’ve noticed recently though is the act of dry hopping. When I first came across this term, I was not sure what it meant, since any hops I had ever bought were definitely dried. Turns out that it refers to adding aromatic hops to the brew either late or even after the boiling process. This reduces the amount of acids released and usually results in a floral aroma.


A lot of commercial brands have tried dried hopping in at least one of their brews. Sierra Nevada’s “celebration”, Samuel Adam’s Pale Ale: the list goes on.
Since I am a hops fan, I enjoy dry hopped brews, and have enjoyed experimenting with the technique. Before, I usually focused on the type of hops I used, but now, the point in the process when I add the hops I the most important thing. I’ve added late in boiling, right at the end of primary fermentation, and even in secondary fermentation.
Of course, not everyone enjoys hops as much as I do, and I’ve gotten some people who don’t like the floral aspect of the beers. I haven’t had people say it’s too grassy or oily like many websites warned me, but I have had people say it’s not their style.
The reason I started brewing in the first place is because I like to do things for myself. I figure that the less dependent I am on outside sources, the better. It also gives me a hands-on hobby that I enjoy. So it shouldn’t be surprising that all of this research got me thinking about growing my own hops. I’ve never been much of a gardener, but mostly because I’ve never thought much about it, not because I didn’t want to.
Beer is a motivation though, so last year I decided to get some hops rhizomes and plant them in my back yard. If my research was correct and my luck was good, I would have some homegrown hops in time for my fall brew.


When growing hops, the most important thing is placement. Apparently South-facing is preferred. You want the plant somewhere where the vines will have support. I planted mine near my fence. I dug my holes about a foot deep and put a bit of fertilizer in with it.
In beer brewing, the amounts are always important. You want your ratio of hops to malt to yeast to be right to get the right reactions and flavor. When planting hops, I learned that if you put too much fertilizer, the plants will basically suffocate due to too many chemicals.
Due to some bad weather and what might be a black thumb, I didn’t get any hops last year. But I’m going to be trying again this year. I see it as a way to be even more involved in the process of my beer brewing.
And it turns out, that hops don’t naturally grow all dried and shriveled up. When you grow your own hops, you have to dry them before you use them, which can be done by using a food dehydrator (which always makes me crave jerky), a low-heat oven, or even being set outside on a sunny day. Hops can get too dry though, so you have to keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t get brittle and brown.
What’s your opinion on hops? Love them? Hate them? Have you tried growing your own?

Comments OffTags: Homebrewing · The Basics