Tag Archives: Pale Ale

Davis Beer Week

17 Aug

The summer is almost at an end – I’m setting my alarm tonight for the first time in about a week. Tomorrow is the beginning of pre-year meetings and planning sessions even though the kids don’t come back for another week and a half. I’m not quite ready.

It was a weird summer. Not bad….but kind of bumpy. Summer work was overall good but I missed my trip home due to an ill timed flu. I spent one whole weekend in bed. Missing the flight, though, did mean I was in town for Davis Beer Week.

Even though I didn’t participate in many of the official events, I did a lot of unofficial tastings at home.

I kicked off beer week with a range of pale ales. First was Auburn Alehouse Independence Day Ale. Decent, but not noteworthy. IMG_0128.JPG

Although the cap was pretty awesome… IMG_0129.JPG

I also had Dale’s Pale Ale for the first time. Not sure how I’ve managed to miss it but it provided a nice pick me up to an afternoon reading educational books.


Finally tonight in honor of fall I tried New Belgium’s Tour De Fall – of the three this was probably my favorite.


I did go to a great class at the Davis Co-Op: Cooking with Beer. I got to watch the excellent chef there make four different recipe and sample each. We had Lambic Whipped Cream Cheese, Chocolate Stout Muffins (sooooo good!), Welsh Rarebit with a brown ale, and finally an IPA BBQ sauce.


I wrapped the week up at the Davis Bike and Brew Fest. My friend Katy kindly went with me. Beer, sunshine, and a good friend – a perfect ending to summer.



April Beer Dinner – Ambers & Reds

17 Apr

It has been forever. Basically three weeks. Probably 20 beers. OK, more like 30. I’m sorry. In my vague defense I’ve been a bit overwhelmed with work. I started full time teaching again after having spent the last year and a half splitting my time between a part-time office job and teaching just a few mornings a week. It’s like being back in my first year of teaching – feeling like I’m going to drown but also being exhilarated to get up and go to work in the morning. I guess things balance out.

IMG_8149So it was a welcome break the first weekend in April to host my third, bi-monthly beer dinner! I was a lucky girl and three of my very good friends came to spend the weekend with me. Between putting them to work hanging decorations and their own amusements playing with my train set, we managed to fit in a quick trip to the University of Beer (thanks for the gift certificate, Mom!). I tried my first white IPA there – Chainbreaker White IPA by Deschutes. It was a lot different than other beers but I really liked it! Some hops goodness without being overwhelming, plus a little something extra.

Back home Rachel, Bonnie, and Ed helped me put the finishing touches on the table setting. Ed proved himself to be surprisingly apt at flower arrangement and I do believe things looked beautiful!



IMG_8159This month we tasted Ambers and Reds, plus some beers from Wisconsin Rachel brought. Sadly, none of them super stood out to me. I found that I favored the Reds over the Ambers, though. My two favorite was probably Knee Deep’s McCarthy’s Bane Imperial Red Ale.



There was actually sooooo much beer that three bottles didn’t even get opened….lucky me! I don’t think Ninkasi’s Spring Reign is an Amber or Red but I do know I like it! And the Rubicon Irish Red was my other favorite. (Sorry there’s no actual descriptions of these beers….I didn’t really write anything down this time and it’s been awhile….)


Dinner was delicious if I do say so myself. To start we had a Vegetarian Tortilla Soup that I paired with Sweetgrass American Pale Ale by Grand Teton Brewing Co. That was followed up with Black Bean Empanadas expertly constructed with the crew’s help. This was paired with Firestone Walker’s Union Jack India Pale Ale and an awesome corn-tomato-avocado salad a la Bonnie.


Dessert was Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes paired with a Chocolate Stout by Rouge Ales. I also got to play with my pastry bag to do the frosting on the cupcakes! It was a bit of a disaster to start but in the end the cupcakes were beautiful!

Now I’m looking forward to June’s beer dinner. We’ll be tasting Summer Seasonals – the perfect way to start summer break!

Fairfax Brewfest

17 Mar

This weekend I had the divine pleasure of visiting my friend Bonnie in Fairfax. She and her husband have created a truly bountiful homestead tucked into the Marin hills and every time I visit I’m tempted to move. The town of Fairfax sits in kind of a valley so from Bonnie’s back porch you can look across to rolling hills and on Saturday morning hear the pop of a baseball bat from the fields below while sipping your tea.

I drove straight from work Friday night to join in on a potluck featuring broccoli! We had broccoli soup, broccoli fritters, even broccoli ice cream! (I forwent the broccoli and opted to bring a growler of Berryessa Pale Ale instead.)

Saturday was the Fairfax Brewfest. Bonnie won free tickets (thank you Facebook contest!) and we showed up at the doors just before 1:00pm. There was already a nice crowd waiting to get in.


After having attended the Capital Beer Fest two weeks ago with something like 90 breweries, our expectations weren’t super high for this event being held in an old gymnasium.


But man it got crowded fast!


And there were tons of great breweries there! Bonnie and I started by talking to the incredibly nice brewers of Triple Rock Brewery and Alehouse in Berkeley. Apparently it’s American’s oldest brewpub. We both tried their Saison which was a bit different than other saison’s I’ve had – more “lemon-y” I thought.


I was also super excited to see Speakeasy there because 1) I just love the name; 2) I had one of their beers at the Beer Shoppe and loved it….but can’t remember what it was; and 3) I keep seeing their beer at the store and wanting to try it. I went with the Payback Porter which was good, but kind of “burnt” tasting at the end.


One fun addition to this brewfest was the “Taste ‘Em & Rate ‘Em” booth.


Six different beers were on display and you did a blind taste test and then voted for your two favorites. I have no idea who won, but it was fun to compare beers of the same style.


Another favorite of mine was Napa Smith. They had several beers to taste but my favorite by far was their “Cool Brew.” Bonnie and I took a vote and Napa Smith won out of all the breweries there. I think this will be the next place I go and visit!IMG_8014

The Beach Chalet was also a favorite. (Look at the cute fabric!)


I had the Oat Pale Ale and really enjoyed it; Bonnie liked her Monsoon Mild.


And of course we had to go by Fairfax’s own Iron Springs.


I may have overindulged a bit this time, but it was a most excellent brewfest and excellent weekend. Cheers!


Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

25 Feb

I don’t think I’ve ever actually had tortilla soup. As a child I was a very “willful” eater (in other wards, if it wasn’t peanut butter, grapes, or bologna on white bread I wouldn’t eat it). Even when I got older and started to outgrow those tendencies I didn’t like things too spicy. And now of course (if you haven’t caught on yet), I don’t eat meat and you never see tortilla soup in restaurants without chicken. So I managed to get to my late (…sigh…) twenties having never tried tortilla soup.

Starting out I was skeptical. Little things went wrong one after another so I was gearing up for disappointment. First, my grapeseed oil to saute in was rancid (they should really put ON THE BOTTLE that you need to refrigerate it). Then I was out of garlic. And my avocado was bad. But the soup turned out pretty good! A little more stew-like than I think tortilla soup  usually is, but satisfying.

First, you’ve got a lot of spices to throw together: cumin, paprika, chili powder, onion powder, oregano, coriander (which I didn’t have), salt, & pepper.


You start cooking by sautéing the onion and bell peppers until soft. The recipe calls for a green pepper but that’s a willful tendency I’ve held on to – I hate green bell pepper.


But there was a stow-away green pepper in my yellow one! How does that thing get there?


Anyway, next you mix up your spices with the onion and peppers.


Then you start adding cans of things.

Green chili peppers and diced tomatoes.




Vegetable broth.


I recently started using “Better Than Bouillon” anytime I need veggie broth. It’s quick, I can make only what I need for a given recipe, and its more flavorful than those containers of vegetable broth. Finally you add black beans and some lime juice (which I also didn’t have….hmm…maybe this is why the soup wasn’t quite what I expected).


I made the soup Sunday night and paired it with Flying Dog Brewery’s Old Scratch Amber Lager. It was good but a day later nothing stands out to me about the beer. It was an amber. And the label kind of creeped me out.


IMG_7829For dinner Monday I had the soup again (the soup that I was going to have for lunch but left in the fridge) and this time paired it with Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale from Deschutes. Now this beer was good – super piney without a lot of bitterness. The first sip made me pause and consider. I wouldn’t, though, pair it again with the Tortilla soup. The big citrusy-pineness just didn’t go with the spices for me.


I also took out a few frozen Black Bean Empanadas which I had made two weeks ago while my mom was visiting and they reheated awesomely! I had followed my earlier recipe but this time made them bigger and I was super pleased.


Do you have a favorite beer you pair with Mexican-inspired foods? A favorite (vegetarian) tortilla soup recipe I should try next?

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

The original recipe was found at The Cooking Photographer.

Everything you’ll need:

  • 2 Tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Oil to saute
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 4-0unce can diced mild green chilies, drained
  • 2, 10-ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 1, 15-ounce can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 64-ounces vegetable broth
  • 2, 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime


  1. In a small bowl, mix together your spices: cumin (2 T), paprika (2 t), chili powder (2 t), garlic powder (1/2 t), onion powder (1/2 t), oregano (1/2 t), coriander (1 t), salt (1-1/2 t), and pepper (1/2 t). Put aside.
  2. In a large pot heat the oil over medium-high, then add the onions and bell peppers and saute until soft.
  3. Add the spices to the onion and peppers and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the green chile peppers, corn, and vegetable broth; cook until warmed through.
  5. Add the black beans and cook 2 more minutes before serving. Squeeze in the lime juice and serve with desired garnishes.