Teachings From The Tap Beer Pairings

I am happy to report that feedback on the book continues to be very positive! People enjoy the armchair travel aspect of it as they’re transported to the world’s greatest beer destinations.

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Teachings from the Tap

One suggestion I received was to offer beer-chapter pairings. It’s an awesome idea and I wish I had thought of it! In response, I have put together a list of suggested beers to enjoy with each chapter. Happy reading and happy drinking!

January: For our very first trip of the Year in Beer, Chris and I traveled to Alaska for the Great Alaska Beer and Barleywine Festival. I suggest pairing this chapter with your favorite Barleywine. With a glass of this style in your hand, you can do as the Alaskans do to weather the cold winter months. As an alternate, Panty Peeler, a Belgian triple, from Anchorage’s own Midnight Sun Brewing is a great choice.

Hop Crisis at 21A

February: This month, we went to San Francisco for Beerapalooza, the precursor to SF Beer Week. Cracking open one of 21st Amendment’s canned beers will help transport you to the City by the Bay. My favorite is Bitter American Extra Pale Ale, but the Brew Free or Die IPA and Hop Crisis Imperial IPA do not disappoint.

March: In March everyone becomes Irish, at least on March 17th. We celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in arguably the country’s most Irish city: Boston. By drinking a Harpoon IPA you’ll feel like you’re right there in Beantown with us. Heck, you may even want to treat yourself to a lobster roll or lobster bisque while you’re at it.  Better still, if you’re lucky enough to be in Boston, read the book at your favorite Beer Works location and have a Curley’s Dry Irish Stout. Sláinte!

April: We learned two things during our April visit to Seattle: 1) everything deserves a second chance and 2) it can get darn cold in the Emerald City. So first, I suggest giving a beer you haven’t had in a long while, a second chance. Who knows? It may surprise you! Or second, if you’re lucky enough to live in a state that distributes Elysian, I suggest getting cozy with their Dragonstooth Stout, an Imperial Oatmeal Stout that warms the soul with its rich flavor of coffee and dark chocolate.

Kölsch in Köln

May: This month took us to Franconia for Germany’s second largest beer festival. Along the way we made stops in Bamberg and Cologne. One beer that will put you in the spirit of this chapter’s adventure is Schenkerla’s world famous Rauchbier. If smoked beers don’t tickle your fancy, go lighter and pour yourself a Kölsch, Cologne’s namesake beer style.

June: In June we went to Ireland. Here I would suggest anything other than Guinness and preferably an Irish craft beer. One of my favorite Irish craft beers is Galway Hooker Irish Pale Ale. However, unless you’re in Ireland, you won’t be able to drink this beer as you read about our adventures on the Emerald Isle. Several beers from Porterhouse Brewing Co. and Carlow Brewing Co. are available in the U.S. and are great choices to get you in the spirit of the chapter.

Hopworks Urban Brewery

July: In July, we went to the Oregon Brewers Festival, an event that brings back many memories for us. For this chapter I suggest going nostalgic and have a Full Sail beer of your choice. One of the classic Oregon breweries, their beers remain solid and refreshing.

August: August was about finally making a proper beer visit to England. Of course the beer to drink there is real ale, so ditch any thought of a lager or kegged ale. Go to your favorite pub serving beer on cask or grab yourself a Fuller’s London Pride. Then crack open the book and join us as we celebrate the great English brewing tradition.

Ein Maß of Festbier

September: This month was an easy trip to plan for the Year in Beer. We went to Oktoberfest, the penultimate adventure for any beer geek. Of course the pairing of choice is to fill yourself up a Maß of fest beer from any one of  Munich’s six breweries. Put on your lederhosen or dirndl and you’ll be hearing Oompah music in no time. Prost!

October: October took us to Denver and the GABF, a place where any beer geek can feel right at home. While there, we learned that Denver’s weather can be a bit finicky. It can be cold one day and warm the next. So, this pairing depends on the weather; a refreshing Great Divide Titan IPA when it’s warm or Great Divide’s Yeti Imperial Stout if it’s not.

November: November’s trip took us to San Diego, one of the beer world’s most celebrated meccas. It would be easy to pair this chapter with one of San Diego’s big name breweries, but that would be buying into the hype. There is so much more to San Diego’s beer scene and Alpine Beer Company is a perfect example. One of the area’s more understated breweries, they let the beer speak for itself. I suggest the Alpine Ale, while Chris prefers Pure Hoppiness.

Finish the book up with a Westy…

December: We went all out for our final trip of the year. We traveled to Belgium for the Kirstbierfest and aimed to visit all 7 Trappist breweries. The perfect way to celebrate the end of the Year in Beer is to pair this chapter with a Trappist beer. A Westvleteren, if you can get your hands on one, embodies the great accomplishment of reaching the end of our yearlong endeavor. While not my personal favorite, drinking this beer while enjoying the tale of our Belgium adventure will help you feel the same sense of accomplishment that we did when reached our goal. A more accessible alternate is Orval. Always a great beer, drinking one while reading about our visit there will have you packing for Belgium!

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New beergeek.TV Episode – Belgians, Trappists & Kerstbier

YiB-12“Belgians, Trappists & Kerstbier” is the latest Year in Beer episode of One Pint at a Time.

With December being the last month for the Year in Beer, we wanted to make it a special one. And what can be more special than a beer tour of Belgium. We had two main goals for the trip: visit all seven Trappist breweries and reach 450 breweries. The Year in Beer culminated at the Kerstbierfestival, a Belgian Christmas beer festival in the town of Essen.

So enjoy our adventures in Belgium…

For all the episodes of One Pint at a Time go to beergeekTV.

Merideth’s Year in Beer Top-10

By now you have already read Chris’s top-10 beer experiences from the Year in Beer. And now, you’re getting mine.

We decided on two different lists primarily because we have differing criteria upon which we base our determination of what is the “best”. Our lists overlap a bit and since I had the honor of publishing mine second, I risk looking unoriginal. Please bear with me as I offer to you my top-10 experiences from the Year in Beer (in no particular order).

Meeting our friends Matt and Michelle
Meeting them in Alaska for the first time, Matt and Michelle helped create a great kick off to the Year in Beer. Had it not been for a shared love of beer and our determination to pull this whole endeavor off, we would have never met them. It’s reassuring to realize that you’re not the most geeky of all the beer geeks in the world.

Getting stuck at Pug Ryan’s
Going to a pub and expecting to catch a cab home is not always a given, as we found out at Pug Ryan’s in Dillon, Colorado. There are apparently no cab companies in Dillon. Completely shocked and dismayed, I felt like a big city folk mocking the small mountain town, but it really was just absolute surprise. The owner was good enough to offer us his bartender as a ride home. Thanks, Chris the Bartender!

Showing our German friends around Munich
It was a bit strange and even a little awkward to have known Munich better than our German friends. Chris acted as tour guide and successfully wrangled our group to several of our favorite Munich beer halls. Wolfie thought Chris was the best tour guide he had ever had, even if he was the only one he had ever had.

Surviving 9 days of drinking real ale
I can’t say that our trip to England made me want a hand pump in my house, but surprisingly my complaining was minimal during the trip. I think I had a German-style lager on only a few occasions. Quite a personal accomplishment. You afraid of a little taste lager girl?

Volunteering at Great British Beer Festival
We had no idea what the beers were. We couldn’t handle the money without turning over every coin to check the denomination. But festival goers and fellow volunteers alike were incredibly nice and it was a fun time. Plus, where else can you watch a guy in drag sing traditional English drinking songs?

The Year in Beer tastings
Packing the beer for travel home is always a pain and not one of my favorite activities. However, our Year in Beer tastings made it all worth it. The tastings united the Monterey Peninsula beer community and I really enjoyed sharing our discoveries with others. Those others are now people I consider to be my friends.

Wearing my dirndl to Oktoberfest
Despite being cold, I felt very festive being at Oktoberfest in my outfit. This year, I participated in Oktoberfest, not just attended it.  Now if I can only get Chris in some lederhosen.

My Birthday
I’m not thrilled about careening towards 40, but what better way to celebrate a birthday than a trip to one of the best and most famous beer cafes in the world, ‘t Brugs Beertje. Daisy and her staff were awesome and I even have a little stuffed brown bear to commemorate the occasion. If he only had a beer in his hand…

The Kerstbierfestival
Our kind of festival. Out-of-this-world beer in a mellow, yet lively and fun atmosphere. Dignified without being douchey. We met a few new people and ran into Tom Peters. “Dank u” to the festival organizers for creating a great event.

Developing an appreciation for Belgian beer
For those of you who know me, know that I am generally defined by what beer I don’t like and Belgians were at the top of the list. Not so anymore. I think they’re pretty darn good.

The Year in Beer Top 10 – Chris’ List

With the Year in Beer now over, we would be remiss not to come up with a list of top 10 experiences from our amazing year. The original plan was to come up with a combined list, but within the first minute of discussion, it was clear that wasn’t going to work. So, here is my list not necessarily in order…

The Kerstbierfestival
Our kind of festival where great beer, friends and conversation seem to be the focal point. Maybe the perfect end to the Year in Beer.

The “Four”
I still need to come up for a better name for our July-October stretch of the Year in Beer. In these months we went to four of the premier beer events in the world; Oregon Brewers Festival, Great British Beer Festival, Oktoberfest and Great American Beer Festival. A lot of beer geeks would be happy to make all four in their lifetime; we did it in consecutive months.

Anchorage in January
The first month for the Year in Beer and there was some worry about how it would turn out. Not only was Anchorage’s beer culture quite amazing, the community was so nice and welcoming. We couldn’t have started the year in a better fashion.

Cologne, Munich and Vienna
After the Bergkirchweih beer festival, we joined our friends Ute and Wolfgang for Flogging Molly shows on consecutive nights in Cologne, Munich and Vienna. Day one was Kölsch, day two was beer gardens with liters of beer and day three was our first visit to Vienna.

Hallertau Hop Tour
One of the fringe benefits of the Year in Beer was that we got a tour of the Hallertau hop growing region by Anheuser-Busch’s European hop guy, Willy Buholzer. Thanks to Willy for being a great host and hop guide.

The Beer Bars
The Year in Beer gave us the opportunity to go to some of the best beer bars in the world… Toronado, Monk’s Cafe, Standard Tap, Brouwers, Falling Rock, Kulminator, Arendsnest, In de Wildeman, ‘t Brugs Beertje, Cafe Delerium, Liar’s Club, Cafe Amsterdam, O’Brien’s… to name a few.

Visiting All Seven Trappists
One of the main goals of our December trip was to visit all seven Trappist breweries. The worry was that in December, the six that were open to the public, would have limited hours or be closed. The beer gods were smiling down on us as we were able to visit all seven and drink the beer at the six that were open to the public.

One of the side trips we made during 2008. Big thanks goes out to the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing  Corporation for inviting us out for Philly Beer Week. If they hadn’t, we would still be talking about someday we need to get to Philly. We knew about Monk’s Cafe, and it is truly amazing, but there is a lot more to Philadelphia’s beer scene than just Monk’s.

Seeing Our Friend Win Beer Drinker of the Year
Another 2008 side trip… Being into beer, for me, is not just about the beer, it is also about the great friendships you make. And to be on hand to see our friend, Matt Venzke, win Wynkoop’s Beer Drinker of the Year, was not only a great time but was worthy a Top 10 Year in Beer experience.

OK… this is probably number one. I got to spend the Year in Beer with my best friend and better half. It truly doesn’t get better than that.