Craft beer adventures and experiences… one pint at a time

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Belgian Beer 101 – For People who Love People who Love Belgian Beer

Ideas to Help with Holiday Giving…

Every year when holiday season rolls around and I’m browsing my local craft beer aisle for new brews, I watch nervous parents, grandparents, husbands/wives, and other adults aimlessly scanning beer labels in hopes of choosing just the right combination of beers for their loved ones who love Belgian craft beer.

Harried sales clerks are often too busy to repeat their picks to yet another clueless customer whose son/daughter/boyfriend/girlfriend loves specialty beer.  While it’s easy to pick up a six-pack of something local, many are looking for an introduction to Belgian Beer so that they can make informed choices.

Note that beer drinkers are like art lovers or foodies!  There are often style/flavor preferences that differ between friends and family members about their beer preferences: the light beer drinkers who buy whatever is cheapest in the 24 can pack (stop reading now,) those who prefer Belgian beer (this is for you and yours,) those who are American craft beer lovers (see my next blog post,) while some are just getting into the “beer world.”   

For those who love Belgian beer and those who love them, I compiled Belgian Beer 101 – for yourself (if you want to know more) or print out for a loved one who simply isn’t as knowledgeable or passionate about Belgian beer as you are.  (You can thank me when you finally get a delicious gift of good Belgian Beer !)

One point to note – if you or your recipient is into BELGIAN BEER – buy Authentic Belgian!  

Don’t be swayed by a bottle or package of Belgian-style American craft beer (unless you’re really on a budget.)  Belgian imported brews have unique flavors that come through generations of pride, tradition, barrel aging and often wild Belgian (in the air) yeast.  It’s like being transported to Belgium and living the good life!  For me, the
deep richness that comes with my favorite Belgian brews are worth the extra couple of dollars I might spend.  (It might sound snobby, but I like what I like.)

Still stumped?

petrus-aged-red1Create a gift basket or 6 pack of several different Belgian beers:  For starters choose different styles that show the diversity of Belgian beers:

  1. One bottle of Lambic (you probably won’t think it is beer because it tastes more like a fruity champagne-style drink than a “traditional” U.S. style beer.  This is a great choice for anyone who might have to share their gift with someone who “isn’t really into the taste of beer” (we ALL know people who say this!)  Brouwerij  (Brewery) Van Honsebrouck N.V. brews St Louis lambics:  Framboise (French for Raspberry) and Kriek (French for Cherry);
  2. A couple of barrel-aged  brews such as the Brouwerij De Brabandere’s Petrus suite of beers including  Petrus Oude Bruin, Petrus Aged Red (my favorite – it’s deep  amber color and sweet) and Petrus Pale ale.  If you or your recipient are a bit adventurous, you might want to take a look at the combination “Sour Power 6-pack” (it comes with instructions on how to blend the brews to get your perfect taste!);
  3. One bottle each of a Dubbel, a Tripel and a Quad.

This would give you a nice varied six-pack of small (11.2 oz) bottles. If you want to create a basket – 2 or 3 of the larger 25 oz / 750 ml (wine bottle sized) bottles or a large and a couple of small bottles, together with a couple of Belgian beer goblets or flutes that match the brewery (or blank ones) makes a great gift. (I’d choose one of the Brewery De Bradandere’s barrel-aged brews, plus a Dubbel and a Quad for variation.)

Happy holiday season, and please share, like, comment – and let me know if this has helped you with your holiday giving !  If you’d like me to send you a copy by email, send me a note at caroldekkers@gmail.com with the subject Belgian Beer 101.  I’ll also be doing a Craft Beer 101 in the next couple of weeks.  Are you interested?

As the Belgians would say:  à votre santé (to your health) or Proost! (cheers!)

Belgian Beer 101 – Page 1

belgian-beer-101-2

Belgian Beer 101 – Page 2

TBBW 2014 – part Deux – Highlights of Events (that I attended…)

2014-03-08 11.06.41To continue along the lines of the Olympic references of my last post about Tampa Bay Beer Week 2014 (Mar 1-9, 2014), we had essentially two opening ceremony events spread across the first weekend with the Florida Brewers Guild (FBG) festival on Saturday March 1, and the Brewers Ball festival on March 2, two separate events providing patrons with samples of award-winning brews from Florida and beyond.

From March 1-9, both sides of the Bay and north and south played host to over 300 craft beer related events, culminating in the final weekend with Hunahpu Day on March 8, and the Hunahpu Hangover/Dunedin final days on March 9.

When all was said and done, thousands of kegs were emptied, thousands of happy patrons made it home safely, hundreds of events ended profitably, and no one died (of alcohol poisoning or violence or any other TBBW related calamity!)

Given that parts of the world can barely make it through a full day without calamities, I’d say we live in luxury when we can celebrate the wonders of craft beer in friendships and sunshine with only a few minor mishaps along the way.

Olympic Style Medals…

I’d love to do a Gold, Silver and Bronze award across all  TBBW events, but gosh, But, gosh, I only made it to a dozen events out of the hundreds scheduled during Tampa Bay Beer Week and they ranged from the huge anchor events on both weekends to small gatherings.

However, the week featured a myriad of different craft beer related experiences – and I invite you to comment on your favorites from both sides of the bay, with a challenge…

How about we (you and I) each rate the events we attended during TBBW Mar 1-9, 2014 and award those of merit with an Olympic medal (or not?) Here’s the options:

  • Gold (stellar – I would definitely go back – something happening and not just beer tasting);
  • Silver (not quite gold medal worthy but still worth attending and fun/good value/other – tastings without entertainment);
  • Bronze (worth mentioning but not too much more than a tasting or release);
  • or None (not deserving of any Olympic standing and would need to be overhauled for me to go again.)

I’ll go first.

DSC_0407Carol’s Olympic Medal Round for #TBBW Events (that I attended) – lots of GOLD and SILVER to award…

I attended a variety of events throughout the week (see the Photos, Photos and more Photos page for picture galleries) and I can truly say that none were a disappointment:

(For a full listing of the TBBW 2014 events, visit www.tampabaybeerweek.com)

Pre- TBBW:

  • Thurs Feb 27, 2014- St Petersburg – St Petersburg Preservation presents “From Cafeterias to Craft Beer” at Green Bench Brewing Company – GOLD medal winner – More than 100 members and prospective members sampled barbecue from The Witches’ Barbeque Den and Green Bench, St Pete Brewing Company, 3 Daughters Brewing and Cycle Brewing beers, then listened to an informative lecture and panel featuring brewers from each brewery.  The official event page (Facebook) features photos (see also the photos page on this blog);

TBBW officially (Mar 1-9):

  • Fri Feb 28, 2014 – Tampa – Pour House pre-TBBW party featuring over 10 taps from 7venth Sun Brewing   and other local breweries (see the photos page for pics) – SILVER medal winner – a great place with great atmosphere.  Only missed out on gold because there was really no EVENT aside from all of us meeting each other.
  • Sat Mar 1, 2014 – Tampa – Florida Brewers Guild Festival – Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park, Tampa – GOLD medal winner – Highlights included the reading of the Tampa Proclamation and tapping of a commemorative firkin by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, and a veritable gourmet assortment of delicious Florida-only brewers (see the photos page for pics) – sizable crowd but not too crowded.  Having the mayor present and so many FL brewers who came from Miami to Pensacola to Jacksonville was a plus.
  • Sun Mar 2, 2014 – Tampa – Best Florida Beer Brewer’s Ball – Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park, TampaGOLD medal winner — Highlights included free pour taps of 81 award winning brews from the Best Florida beer competition featuring both pro-brewers and home brewers judged by the BJCP rules (see the photos page for pics);
  • Mon Mar 3, 2014 – Tampa – Pour House – Beer Bloggers Summit – SILVER medal winner – purely based on the size of the turnout.  Quality of presentation (myself, Sean Nordquist, Gerard Walen, Thomas Barris) and Thomas Barris’ organization of the event were top-notch.  Small gathering but great discussion!
  • Tues Mar 4, 2014 – St Petersburg – 3 Daughters Brewing Fat Tuesday Crawfish Boil -GOLD medal winner – for a mere $30. attendees could dine on all-you-can-eat boiled fresh crawfish, potatoes, sausage, corn and free pours of two 3 Daughters Brews (Summer Blond and the IPA) with a live New Orleans style band.20140304_190156
  • Wed Mar 5, 2014 – Clearwater – Brewers Tasting Room – Florida Beer and All About Beer magazine presents Beer 201 – SILVER medal winner – the styles of beer presented and the educational aspect (beyond basic) was appreciated and BTR always has a great assortment of beers you can’t find anywhere else;
  • Wed Mar 5 2014 – Clearwater – Pair O’ Dice Brewing – Brisket and Brews- GOLD medal winner- while I arrived at Pair O’ Dice after the last morsel of brisket was already devoured, all I heard from participants was how incredibly good the food and the pairing was (and it was free!)  I had a great beer, but I had to take the enthusiastic response from everyone I talked to that this was a winning event.
  • Wed Mar 5 2014 – Seminole – Rapp Brewing – Rare Beer Night – GOLD medal winner  – Greg Rapp pulled out the stops to feature not only his wide variety of local brews, but also a few absolutely rare beers for this specialty night. Again, like the Pair O’ Dice event, the tasting room was packed until late.
  • Thurs Mar 6 2014 – Palm Harbor – Lagerhaus – Bacon, Bacon, Bacon GOLD medal winner – along with tapping a special barrel aged brew and the multiple bacon dishes (bacon cheddar soup, bacon pretzels, bacon wrapped dates and figs to name a few) , the tasting room was packed from mid-afternoon until late.  What can be better than Bacon and Beer?
  • Thurs Mar 6 2014 – Tampa – Southern Brewing and Winemaking – Release of the Moonrakers – SILVER medal winner – special Moonrakers releases and a good gathering
  • Thurs Mar 6 2014 – Tampa – Florida Avenue Brewing – Special Hoperations – SILVER medal winner – homebrewed  samples and special tastings (randall)
  • Fri Mar 7 2014 – St Petersburg – Foeder for Thought – Green Bench Brewing CompanyGOLD medal winner-  essentially a neighborhood street market plus releases on tap and special pourings inside the brewery, the place was packed until closing;
  • Fri Mar 7 2014 – Tampa –Southern Brewing and Winemaking – Best Florida Beer Leftovers Party and the Future of Craft Beer in Florida panel GOLD medal winner – featured entertainment, the craft beer futures panel plus a wide array of the pro-brewers and the homebrewed submissions to the Best Florida Beer competition
  • Sat Mar 8 2014 – Tampa – Cigar City Brewing Hunahpu Day – SILVER medal winner -this would be a hands-down GOLD medal winner if the crowds had been manageable, this was a 3 in one event:  Hunahpu release + bottle sharing (complete with a makeshift attendee organized campground) + beer tasting.  Just one event of the three (any one) would be GOLDEN.
  • Sun Mar 9 2014 – St Petersburg – Flying Pig Taphouse Beer Brunch featuring Lagunitas, New Belgium and Cigar City Brewing – GOLD medal winner – 
  • Sun Mar 9 2014 – Dunedin – Hunahpu Hangover Day – featuring 7venth Sun and Dunedin Brewery GOLD medal winner – special releases in the side garden area of 7venth Sun (it was packed) and in Dunedin Brewery – the sun shone, the brews were innovative, and the air was celebratory.  Grand cooperation!

Your turn – what were your medal events?

I can’t wait for the events in planning for the rest of this year (at a minimum our TBBW Halfway There – Rare Beer Fest scheduled for September 6, 2014) – Tampa Bay Beer Week continues to thrive, grow and spillover into multiple weeks of the year.

It is a great community of vibrant, positive, optimistic Floridians.  Long live Tampa Bay Beer Week!

Happy St Patrick’s Day – be safe!

Carol

LOCALTOPIA – A Celebration of Local Business (and Craft Beer!) in St Petersburg

Localtopia

February 1, 2014 – 75 degrees, sunshine, St Petersburg FL, an awesome army of volunteers, local vendors, and the “Drink Like a Local” beer truck, made for an exciting, fun, and memorable day for families, friends, residents, and everyone in between.   It was an amazing event!!!!

So many people came together to make the day such a huge success including main organizer Olga Bof, of Keep Saint Petersburg Local, and Brett Andress, owner of The Ale and the Witch, and an army of others.  Here’s the event website www.keepsaintpetersburglocal.org/calendar/event/localtopia/

It was also a big day for our not-for-profit Tampa Bay Beer Week consortium as St Petersburg, FL city councilman Steve Kornell officially proclaimed Tampa Bay Beer Week March 1-9, 2014 (I wrote the proclamation!)

proclamation

Here’s a recap of the event from a craft beer perspective by Brett Andreas:

Huge Bigger than Big congrats on an absolutely amazing event, when you get a chance to settle back, grab a glass of wine and relax with your family be very PROUD of your vision, drive, passion and enthusiastic support in gathering so many locals into our oldest City park for a day to enjoy together as a community. It was absolutely beautiful!!

From a beer perspective you accomplished many great feats as well. You sold out of an event beer truck with ALL local Florida beers from multiple distributors and breweries which is unheard of. Over 4200 beers were poured yielded from the kegs you started with and the kegs that Cycle and Green Bench brought in addition to. 4200 beers is over 10 beers poured a minute…. 10 beers A MINUTE and this wasn’t even a beer event. Be proud of selling this many LOCAL beers to our community as they gathered together to spend time together in Williams Park. WOW

It is all about Local and this event was a fantastic show of what local can do together.

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to my army (over 50!)  volunteer beer pourers whose enthusiasm, energy, patience, and sheer dedication made the day a great experience for those who came out.

Here’s a slide show of the event!  Can’t wait to see you all at the next beer event… we are an amazing community.

— Carol Dekkers

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Halfway There Delivered and then Some…

The first organized event since Tampa Bay Beer Week (TBBW) formally incorporated as a not-for-profit was held September 7, 2013 at the Cuban Club in Ybor City:  Halfway There – A Rare Beer Festival.  Over 500 attendees tasted and over 40 breweries, homebrew clubs, distributors and others poured tastings of truly rare beer:  beers that were “one-off” kegs (specially brewed for the event), brews unavailable in Florida, and award-winning home-brew club offerings.  Taps turned on for VIPs promptly at 5pm, with wind down/last pour at 9pm.  In between the beer and conversations flowed, and new friendships were formed over what I call “liquid art.”

Here’s a gallery of photos from the event: (Photos credit Tom Scherberger)

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And… if the initial feedback and social media postings are any indication, we (the TBBW board) hit the ball out of the park. With brews and brewer tents spread throughout the indoor cantina area and the outdoor patio, festival goers could easily mingle and mix with the brewers themselves and heartily sampled brews that will never come together in the same place again, including specialty collaboration beers between brewers at the event.  From stouts to porters to Berliner Weiss’s to IPAs to strong ales – the Halfway There (halfway to Tampa Bay Beer week in March 2014!) – catered to every palate and a myriad of beer styles.

With an upswing of 15+ production breweries in the Tampa Bay area alone with several poised to come on stream in the coming weeks, Tampa Bay is quickly becoming a craft beer destination to be reckoned with, and the variety of offerings is impressive.  When you take a look at the awards amassed by the veterans (Tampa Bay Brewing Company, Dunedin Brewing, and others) along with the newcomers (Rapp Brewing, Barley Mow Brewing Co., St. Somewhere and others) – it is not hard to see why Tampa Bay is emerging as a craft brewing leader in Florida.

With this inaugural event, Halfway There proved that the TBBW board can bring great festivals and new events to the Tampa Bay area, and if you listen to festival attendees, they are ready to drink up more of the same.  If you missed this one, stick around and watch for more of TBBW offerings in the months ahead, culminating in the week long Tampa Bay Beer Week March 1-9, 2014.

p.s., After posting this original post,  the Halfway There Rare Beer Festival was voted the Best Inaugural Beer Fest by Tampa Bay’s Creative Loafing press and Tampa Bay Beer Week 2013 was voted the Best Beer Geek Invasion.

p.p.s. Carol Dekkers is a director on the Tampa Bay Beer Week board of Directors and the Chapter Chair of the new Barley’s Angels chapter:  Tampa Bay Growler Girls (see Facebook.)  Imbibe safely!

 

Summer Brews!

creative loafing Aug 2http://cltampa.com/dailyloaf/archives/2013/08/02/3887302-summer-brews-that-quench-and-cool#.UgHMrG0Xfg0

Cajun Cafe (St Petersburg, FL) does Beerfests up Right!

 

Save the date – Creative Loafing Tampa “Beerfest Sept 22, 2012”

Tickets will soon go on sale for the September 22, 2012 Creative Loafing BEERFEST in downtown Tampa, FL at the Tampa Museum of Art.

Here’s a few details:

What: Creative Loafing Beer Fest 2012: The Art of Beer
When: Saturday, September 22; GA: 7 – 10 p.m. VIP: 6 – 7 p.m.
Where: Tampa Museum of Art; 120 West Gasparilla Plaza; Tampa, FL; 33602; (813) 274-8130
How Much: General Admission: $30 adv, $40 door / VIP: $60 adv, $75 door

Let me know if you’re going – and maybe we can chat over a pint or two.

Have a great weekend and please… drink responsibly!

an unOfficial Beer Goddess

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