Tag Archives: the new yorker

Dogfish Head Brewery

It seems like I’ve been blogging a lot about beer recently, not quite sure why that is, but there’s more to come…

I don’t read The New Yorker too often, when I do sit down to read it I find myself flipping through the pages, barely skimming the articles and unless an article really catches my eye I’m done about 20 minutes later. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy The New Yorker, its just really hit or miss for me. Every once in a while I come across an article that I really enjoy. Such is the case for the article, A Better Brew, The Rise of Extreme Beer by Burkhard Bilger in the November 24th 2008 issue.

The article talks mostly about the modern craft beer movement and focuses primarily on Dogfish Head Brewery in Delaware. They do delve into beer history a little bit, explaining the Reinheitsgebot (German Beer Purity Law) and the differences between German beers and Belgian beers (and where American beers fit in). I was amazed to learn that before prohibition and the industrialization of the 1950’s American beers were actually good.

In 1878, Maureen Ogle notes in her recent book “Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer,” Busch’s St. Louis Lager took on more than a hundred European beers at a competition in Paris. The lager came home with the gold, causing an “immense sensation,”.

The history part of the article was fun to read about, but I got really excited reading about Dogfish Head. I’d heard of them before, seen their beers at the liquor store, but never paid them much attention. They’re pretty pricey and with all the good quality local beer for lower prices I never got around to trying anything they make. But this article portrayed them as wildly experimental, exciting and from the sounds of things, making great beers.

It told the story of their Palo Santo Marron, a 12% brown ale aged in Palo Santo wood containers. This wood is some of the hardest in the world and has been used to make wine before, but never beer. The brewery liked it so much they made the largest wooden brewing containers out of it in American since prohibition. They also talked about the Midas Touch Golden Elixir, made of barley, grapes, honey and saffron they claim it is the oldest known fermented beverage recipe in the world. The beer sounded so good I had to go out and try some.

I got lucky at the liquor store, they had both of the beers I just mentioned, what wasn’t so lucky was the price. A four-pack weighed in around $13, less than $4 a beer after tax and CRV, its cheaper than drinking at a bar, but still pricey for bottled beer. I decided to go with the Palo Santo Marron, they had less of it. I got home, chilled it and gave it a try. I poured it into a pint glass and immediately noticed how thick and dark it was. It poured slow and heavy like a viscous dirty motor oil. It left almost no head at all in the glass. Luckily when I tasted it the taste was anything but motor oil. It was still thick and heavy but good. It tasted like most brown ales, a little nutty, maybe a little vanilla, only stronger, much stronger. After one 12oz bottle I could feel a buzz, it was a good thing I wasn’t drinking this at a bar because I wouldn’t have been able to drive for a while.

As with most “extreme beers” this isn’t something I’m going to drink all the time. Even if I could afford to, I don’t think it would be as good if drank everyday, but every once in a while this beer is quite the treat. I’m looking forward to trying plenty of other beers from this brewery.

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Olive oil and wine

This weekend on the way back from Thanksgiving in Punta Banda, we took a trip up Baja Highway 3, from Ensenada to Tecate.

It was a last minute decision, to go to Tecate rather then up the coast back to Tijuana, but it payed off when we realized we were on the Ruta Del Vino, the highway that goes through the Valle de Guadalupe and past plenty of great wineries.

The first we stopped at was Casa Veija. At first we weren’t sure if it was a winery or someone’s house. We spotted this truck and stopped for a picture:

Casa Vieja

Casa Vieja. Photo by Kinsee Morlan

We were greeted by two friendly dogs and a smiling man. The winery was young, only two years old, only producing one of their own wines, but it was rustic and friendly. The man pouring the wine was born in the house sixty-some-odd years ago, and recently came back to open a winery. We tasted some wine and ended up buying some. There was no label on the bottle, just a peice of masking tape with a name and year.

We stopped at another winery, the name of which slips my mind, it was big, clean, fancy and sterile compared to the first. They had more wines and more pretention. The wine wasn’t bad but we left empty handed.

Driving down the road was like a trip back in time, it felt like what southern California should look like. We stopped at Laja just to check it out. They do fixed price meals, four or seven course I think. We asked about vegetarian meals and he said they could cook vegetarian any night. A little pricey for vegetables but good to know they are willing.

Back on the road we stopped at our last winery, L.A. Cetto, the biggest, most crowded and developed of the three. It was a nice place, with families picnicking outside and plenty of wine tasting inside. After a short wait we started tasting. They didn’t have a straight Malbec, but did have Marques Del Valle, a Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec blend which was the first I asked to try. In the end it was my favorite. The guy pouring our tastes was really friendly, chatting with us for quite a while. At one point he brought out pictures of himself body boarding in Southern Mexico.

We tasted about 10 different wines, as well as delicious cheese and some of the best olive oil I’ve ever had and were good and tipsy by the end. Thanks to his generous pours we bought a case of wine and a gallon of that delicious olive oil.

The rest of the drive was even more beautiful, driving into the foothills toward Tecate as the sun was setting, casting a beautiful golden hue on the rocks.

Later, while talking to a friend about the olive oil, she mentioned this piece in the New Yorker about counterfeit Italian olive oil, yet another reason to buy local.

Halloween One More Time

Kinsee and I dressed as Trout Fishing in America made it on to The New Yorker Book Bench Blog’s Halloween costume post. I really like the two costumes above us a lot also.

Thanks to Chris for taking our picture.