About Me

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TARZANA, CA, United States
Hello food, wine & beer pals! Welcome to my photo-journal of food, wine and beer adventures. I'm pictured on the right and my home brewing pal, Aron is on the left. Years ago I started watching the Food Network, saving recipe's, making recipe's, trying new things, tasting new things, and it's all blossomed from there, including the weekly tastings (beer & wine) at BevMo. I'm hooked on variety and continuing my search for tasty goodness all over the world. Please feel free to email me with comments and ideas at FoodieWinonBrew@yahoo.com Bon Appetito!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


After the mini-mashing step is complete, the product is brought to a boil on the turkey fryer. We are about to add something called “wort” in homebrew terminology, its also referred to as malt extract. There is a whole process that is followed to get to the “wort/malt extract” stage that takes a few hours, but most home brew shops carry the finished product, cutting your brew time considerably. The finished product looks like honey. In the silver packet (pictured below) is the wort, and to soften the thick texture up for better assimilation to the sparge water, Aron is running hot water on it. The kettle is then turned off its boil to add the wort. If the wort is added when there is a boil, there is danger of scorching and over boils, both “no-no’s” if can be avoided. The trouble shooting step is to stop the boil and add the wort while stirring the malt sugars.

     After the malt extract is added, the pot is brought back to a boil, which is the main boil for 60 minutes—at different times during this boil hops can be added for bittering, flavor and aroma. 
     Our flavoring hops (added the last 15 minutes of the boil) are pictured here below in processed pellet form, vacuum sealed in metallic astronaut-like packets.

     Hops come from a tall green vine that sprouts small green blossoms resembling little green pinecones. There are many varieties of hops you can purchase depending on what flavors you want to bring out in your brew. For the malty brown ale we’re using the “British Kent Goldings” variety of hops.

     Once the last phase of boiling is done the brew kettle must be cooled down quickly.  This is done by putting the kettle usually in the kitchen sink filled with ice.  When the kettle liquid is cooled to the correct temperature, yeast is added.  But first, the liquid must be siphoned out of the kettle into what is called a “car-boy.”  I know not why this large 5 gallon glass bottle that resembles the ones you get bottled water in is called a “car-boy,” but it is.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of the kettle in the ice bath, or the siphoning process, because I was pretty tanked by then from all the beer tasting and I forgot to play paparazzi.  We also had to walk to the corner store for extra ice, so that further distracted me from my photo-journalistic endeavors.  But I’m betting you have a healthy imagination for the time being, and are able to picture these missing steps in your minds eye. 

     Here is our magical ingredient, yeast!  The type of yeast we’re using needs to be refrigerated, however, for this part of the process the yeast has been taken out of the fridge to reach room temperature.  It all has to do with bringing everything to the correct temperature for fermentation, the longest step of the brewing process.  This usually takes two weeks plus.  For our purposes, we waited 2 weeks until the last phase of our homebrewing--bottling!
Stay tuned for Homebrewing for Beginners Part 3, Bottling! 

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Above is a link to John Palmer's book How to Home Brew, which is an amazing amount of good, free information.  So before you go and shell out money for a homebrewing book, check this free-bee out. As I write this, I’m hoping that the efforts from the pictures above and below, yield magnificent flavor, consistent with the first home brew I made in December with my brew-pal Aron Faria.  The story behind my brew endeavors are as follows: my brew lovin’ pal Wendy says to me “we should do a home brew…”  I say “YEAH-Let’s do it!” I didn’t even conceive this was possible before she uttered the words.  Two years passed to no avail; my friend got engaged and started a family.  I found myself talking about home brewing with an acquaintance and he turned out to be a true blue home brewer!  I told him I didn’t know about what equipment was needed; he said he had all we needed for a 2 ½ gallon batch.   
Home brewing with him wasn’t as difficult a task as I thought, he knew a bit about brewing.  The first time we collaborated it reminded me of cooking: you buy all the ingredients, then go home and use the appropriate kitchen ware to make the dish--or in this case, brew.  I’ve also found that home brewing is a party.  We were beer tasting whilst making!  It became a bonding from love of beer tasting, sharing different favorite beers, trying new ones—a true love of the old school, old world craft nostalgia. 

Below are 2 pictures of the homebrew shop [http://www.homebeerwinecheese.com/] in Woodland Hills, off of Ventura Boulevard on Rigoletto Street.

I’m going to break down for you the basics of our second brewing endeavor, a British Brown Ale kit, purchased from More Beer [http://morebeer.com/], an online resource for home brewers.  Our first collaboration at home brewing was an IPA [pictured below]; I named it Aurora, for the Greek/Roman Goddess of Dawn and also the name sake of a dear friend that passed away recently.  As this is also the dawning of my brewing endeavors, the name seemed appropriate.  Before I tasted this first batch, I never knew beer could taste that good, probably because I’d never tasted a home brewed IPA like that before.  It had a deep unfiltered amber color, and to taste: balanced ruby red grapefruit citris notes and an immensely smooth, lingering hop finish.  It was my dream IPA; and it was all gone too soon.  I also loved making the labels for the bottles--the front label with the name and the back label told the story behind the beer.  After we bottle the malty brown Ale--of which pictures you are about to see “in the making.” we’re brewing the IPA again, because I need more of that “good lovin’.”

Now let’s talk equipment: basically you will be seeing some of my equipment purchased at my local home brew shop, Aron’s gallon cooler and a turkey fryer I bought at Sears on sale after Thanksgiving for $49.99 including the burner!  Turkey fryers are perfect set-up pots that can do a double batch because they can take 7 ½ gallons (30 quarts) and it comes with a burner, you just have to buy a propane tank.  Below is the turkey fryer in action during the last brewing phase.

Basically brewing is a simple process with potential for fancy innovations on flavor. And if you live near a home brew shop, usually the people in that home brew shop will be able to give you free advice on brewing.  Even if you don’t live near a home brew shop there are plenty of online home brew shops to order from and call for free advice. 

The picture above is Aron taking the water temperature to see if its ready for the grain mini-mash.  The temperature at this point of the process should be within a certain range to get the proper “steep” from the grains.  It’s like brewing tea.  Pictured below the grains are being put in the cooler with the stretched grain bag around the mouth of the cooler to catch the grains, making the tea bag effect.  What you get when the water filters through the grains is called “sparging.”  The sparge is like the tea from brewing the grains, only what you get is sugars from the malt and barley for the yeast to feed on.  I'll explain yeast later.  Not all beers have this first “mini-mash” step but our “malty brown ale” does. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Tasting No. 12 @ Metche’s (day 2)

Firestone Walker’s Union Jack IPA
ABV 7.5%
I’ve reviewed Union Jack IPA before—in fact, this was the first IPA I fell in love with so, I chose this one as the finale to the tasting @ Metche’s (See June 28, 2010 in Archives). She loved it the same as I did, and another convert to the IPA appreciator world was born. I wish I could find this on tap at every bar but so far I’ve only found it at BJ’s Brewery in Woodland Hills (http://www.bjsbrewhouse.com/), and its still a favorite. This is my true “go to” when I want an amazing IPA; my “comfort ale” if you will, hehe! I’ll always remember you Union Jack; don’t ever change!

Tasting No. 11 @ Metche’s (day 2)

ABV 8%
OH GOD! I heart the garden gnome!!! The real selling point is the hoppy coriander taste and rich garden herbs and spices all blending in on themselves in taste. This was the first ale I discovered a year or so ago that made me appreciate the Belgian ale. I don’t drink it often, because I’m not a regular Belgian ale drinker—please understand, that stuff is dynamite, but too much is explosive! I’m always a willing taster of Belgian ales if offered, but I rarely choose one to drink at the pub…unless its just to sample it. But I DO appreciate that art work in terms of the brew master.

Tasting No. 10 @ Metche’s (day 2)

Aron Faria’s Home Brewed Porter

This was the second home brew I had tasted of Aron’s and the beginning of my next step in beer appreciation: making your own at home!!! I met Aron at BevMo (of all places) pouring the wine tastings and his enthusiasm for beer chat soon caught my attention—he wasn’t talking wine anymore, and I liked it! I forgot how much I love talking about beer! See?! I’m even blogging, since I can’t always find a willing ear to listen, haha! He generously gave me a bottle of his porter and I took it willingly, even though I’m not a big porter fan. But I soon realized that the only reason I didn’t like porters is because of the amount of bad ones I’d tasted. Aron’s was good, balanced, rich porter taste—not too sweet. It was Metche’s favorite and impressed the hell out of me. Since then I’ve paid a lot more attention to home brewing. Thank you Aron! Thanks for being a generous and knowledgeable soul that understands the fine art of home brewing—tasting is SO BEE-LEE-ving!

Tasting No. 9 @ Metche’s (day 2)

Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery Pale Alehttp://www.merchantduvin.com/pages/5_breweries/samsmith.html 

Oh how I love drinking this brewery and this pale ale fits right in the line-up as “holding its own” under pressure of tasting. This was the first time trying this and I’m glad I did: for one, this is classic English ale; lovely, broad tasting sweet malted barley, and a rich ale mouth feel. What I refer to as a “good sipping ale” meaning, all you need is this ale and a pal for a lovely time. Sometimes food distracts from great brew, and this ale should be tasted if only once on its own, not paired. It’s a meal in itself. Also, I LOVE the rich amber color of this brew in the glass…so inviting!

Tasting No. 8 @ Metche’s (day 2)

Banana Bread Beer

ABV 5.2%
Banana Bread Beer you say? Wonder what that tastes like? Well its like drinking banana bread made with a beer batter. Bulls-eye! Not much more to say except perhaps this beer would pair well with fried plantains.

Tasting No. 7 @ Metche’s (day 2)

Sea Dog Blue Paw Wheat Ale

ABV 4.7%
Well, this one is like drinking a blueberry muffin with butter…maybe it’s a breakfast beer, haha!

Tasting No. 6 @ Metche’s (day 2)

Bitburger Premium Beer

“Bitte ein Bit!” (That’s German for “one Bitburger please,” but it sounds better in German.) I hate to say “skunky” about a German beer, in fact, I don’t find skunky beers offensive, there’s a time and place for skunky beers and this was the time and place. Now this was a good skunky-crisp with slightly sweet malt finish—very drinkable, excellent German beer. I love seeing this often in beer retail stores that have a good import selection.

Tasting No. 5 @ Metche’s (day 2)

Anderson Valley, Boont ESB (Extra Special Beer)

ABV 6.8%
This was a revelation in bitter for me; I love a hoppy brew to be sure! This fell right into place. I bought this in a variety pack and it was the surprise I love—found the ruby red hop citrus along with smooth, balanced flavor. Another staple in my ale arsenal of love.

Tasting No. 4 @ Metche’s

Paulaner Munich (München)

Hefeweizen, Natural Wheat
I love how the website, being German made, asks if you are over 16 to enter the website! In America the drinking age is 21! Check out the animated beer garden including the friars drinking at a table, with intermittent laughter and sounds of the outdoors, including a fly landing on the table…wanting to drown in your beer. It’s like a virtual vacation!

Wheat beers, especially the German ones have a tendency to remind me of the Belgian style ales, which showcase intense herbs (coriander), sometimes floral, like a potpourri—but here’s the thing I’ve noticed about hefeweizen: add the lemon and the floral flavor is gone and the taste takes another turn, bringing out the lemon and citrus tones of the brew. I’m not a regular German wheat beer consumer, but this experience in the tasting gave me appreciation for flavor. Another thing I really loved about this beer was the great artwork of the label on the bottle—check out the awesome garden party with the country folk, enjoying a beautiful day with beer stein in hand held high!

Tasting No. 3 @ Metche’s

Lost Coast Brewery, Eureka, California
Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat
My gran lived in Eureka for a while, but that was before I was born. Beautiful Northern California…but I digress…we’re here to sing praises of the brewery.
Good effort here: Bright tangerine rind (a hint of orange soda pop) with crisp-dry malt finish. Dig you 50-50 cream-sickle fans!

Tasting No. 2 @ Metche’s

Sea Dog Apricot Wheat Beer
– Portland, Maine

ABV 4.6%
Nose: lovely dried apricot. Beers infused with fruit seem to have more popularity in the warmer months with their crisp, refreshing fruit mixed with a hint of wheat in the finish. This beer lends itself well to afternoon tipples in the heat (big smiles), with the welcome taste of apricot playing on the palate.

Tasting No. 1 (@ Metche’s)

Sierra Nevada Brewery, Chico California, “Summerfest”
ABV 5.0%
One of my regular “drinkin’ pals” brought this to my house warming and I recognized its summer glory right then and there. I thought it would be a good starter beer—clean taste, crisp (German beer came to mind) with a smooth balanced malt finish. Long live the Summerfest—lovely effort—great taste!

BEER TASTING @ METCHE'S (prounounced: Metch-EE)

BEER TASTING @ METCHE’S (pronounced: Metch-ē)

It’s taken me a while to post the tasting I did with Metche last August, 2010 (yeah, I know) but please forgive me, at least its making its appearance now. I’ve been to quite a few tastings and also created the opportunity to share the great beer tasting experience with my friends and family. So, here’s hoping all you beer lovers get inspired to do a "tasting," and in doing so, create a forum for talking about beer as well as drinking it! Please drink and host responsibly; have a cab company number handy for the end of the night.
Because of my fondness for tasting brew, I preach the magical culture of beer tasting when I can, including the sacramental aspects of imbibing god’s liquid miracle. Before I grew to love beer, I studied music in college and have since kept in touch with one of my favorite teachers. Now that she’s retired, I schlep down to her retirement village in Laguna Woods for visits. On my last pilgrimage down from L.A. we did a tasting. I must have told her about my weekly worship at the temple of BevMo (Beverages and More) for beer tastings on Fridays, from 4pm to 7pm (a.k.a. “Happy Hour”) for only a $1 donation. At those tastings there are anywhere from 5 beers to as many as 14—that was when a craft brew distributer was there with their line of brews. So it was all that magic in one stop at the tasting.  Back then BevMo charged $4--still a great deal for a tasting!

Metche, my retired musicology teacher, has an appreciation for beer, coming from good German stock and Germans are world known for their appreciation of beer. I brought a total of 12 beers which we divided over 2 days for moderation—I didn’t want to get Metche “tanked” as it were, so I opted for spreading the beer love over 2 days. For palate cleansing I had soft pretzels (mustard optional) and soda water. Looking back, I should have melted some cheese for a fondue effect, but I digress…perhaps next time. For a little variety I threw in fruit beers, which is not like me, but since I’ll try anything once and it was the end of summer, I thought “what the heck, let’s get some fruit beer on!”

Day one, we tried five beers, the first five below. Here’s the way I set up the tasting: I start with a lager (generally milder to taste), throw in the middle fruit beers, then go with more complex and rich tastes in the spectrum of brewing, ending with the most bitter. Going light to intense with taste, you'll be able to enjoy the spectrum without palate ruination.  In the order below you can see how this was accomplished (beers 1-5, were tasted on day 1; beers 6-12 were done on day 2). This was something that the pourer does at BevMo’s beer tastings on Fridays, (tastings usually every Friday from 4pm to 7pm for $2, flight of 5). There’s a beer judge that frequents the tasting that taught the “pouring whipper-snapper” the efficacies of this strategy: the palate warms up on the simple stuff, but isn’t too destroyed until the bitter, complex beers at the end. My compliments to “Jim the Judge” for the ideal form to shoot for in a tasting, it has proven time and again a good idea. The beers were selected randomly based on ones I’ve tried before and ones I was interested in trying at the time.

1. Sierra Nevada “Summerfest”

2. Sea Dog Apricot Wheat Beer

3. Lost Coast Brewing Tangerine Wheat Beer

4. Paulaner Munchen Hefe-Weizen Natural Wheat

5. Anderson Valley ESB

6. Bitburger Premium Beer

7. Sea Dog Wild Blueberry

8. Wells Banana Bread

9. Samuel Smith Old Brewery Pale Ale

10. Aron Faria’s Home Brew Porter

11. Le Chouffe

12. Firestone Walker IPA