25 February, 2009

Celtika Amber Beer

While France is better known for its wine than its beer, there is a deep history of brewing that goes back to the pre-Roman Celtic (or Gallic, or even Gaulish if you prefer) inhabitants of the country.  Wine was the tipple of choice for Greeks and Romans, but the more northerly Celts liked their beer - and they bequeathed that love of beer to us through their descendants in Britain, Belgium, Germany and France.

Tonight I dipped into my dwindling beer cellar for a Celtika Amber Beer from Brasserie Celtik, a French brewery in Brittany - a region where a Celtic language, Breton, is still spoken.  This corked & caged 750mL bottle was a 2007 Christmas gift from my friend Mark.  

The beer poured a cloudy caramel, with a viscous cream-colored head that dissipated quickly but left behind significant lace.  I could tell from the banana and malt aromas that this would be a sweet beer.  It tasted overwhelmingly of toffee and plum, with a backbone of yeast that softened the sugars.  Not much in the way of hops, just enough bitterness to keep the beer from being cloying.  Despite the overall sweetness, the body was quite light at 5.8% ABV.  

While it's not a superlative brew -- too sweet -- I did enjoy it.  Brasserie Celtik doesn't have much of a web presence, so I have no idea where to find it locally.   Thanks, Mark, for a lovely and apparently rare bottle!

16 February, 2009

drawnk: Session Beer Project Logo

Beer scribe Lew Bryson has a blog dedicated to session beers:

"SBP was started in January of 2007 by beer writer Lew Bryson for two reasons. First, to spread the word about session beers so more people could enjoy them. Second, to better Lew's chances of finding good session beers to drink."

What makes a session beer?
  • under 4.5% alcohol by volume
  • flavorful enough to be interesting -- no light beers, please
  • balanced enough for multiple pints
  • conducive to conversation
  • reasonably priced
A couple weeks ago he sent out an open call for a logo design for the movement. Now, I love me some session beers (Sly Fox O'Reilly's Stout, Yards Brawler, Kenzinger, Philly Pale, etc) so I decided to give it a go and these are the results:

Preliminary sketches:

These were my original ideas. I submitted the second one and Lew got back to me and gave me some feedback; which resulted in the final version below:

Lew still hasn't chosen a logo yet (I think he's still receiving submissions). I had fun working on this and I'm happy with the final result. Now it's up to the fates (i.e. Lew himself) to decide.
Check out his facebook group for SBP...if that's what you're into.

15 February, 2009


In Spanish, amada means "beloved," so it was fitting that HM and I celebrated Valentine's Day with dinner at Amada, chef José Garces' Spanish tapas restaurant in Old City Philadelphia.

Having been to Amada twice before, we were really looking forward to the meal, but this post on Foobooz added a new layer of interest for me: a chance to try Inedit, a beer from Spanish brewery Estrella Damm produced in collaboration with famed El Bulli chef Ferran Adrià.  It's described in the Garces press release as "a lager and Belgian wheat beer blend with hints of orange and spice."

At $30 for a 750mL bottle, or $7 for a 5 oz. glass, Inedit is priced lower than similar volumes of wine, but higher than Amada's other beers.  Naturally, I ordered a whole bottle.  The presentation was beautiful: the bottle is uniquely shaped, with a single gold star (estrella) on the front and a booklet hanging from a red string around the bottle's neck.  The beer, pale yellow and cloudy with a pillowy white head, is served in a white wine glass.

The taste - at first, anyway - was less impressive.  The beer was served very cold, as you would expect for a light lager.  But a Belgian-inspired brew?  That should be served at cellar temperature (55°F), which brings forward the aromatic spice aromas and fruity flavors associated with many Belgian beers.  As the meal progressed, the beer warmed up and so did the aromas and flavors.  

We embarked upon their special Valentine's tasting menu, which offered a few plates absent from the regular menu, including jamón ibérico de bellota, wagyu beef flatbread, olive oil poached halibut and a positively luxurious combination of sea urchin, bomba rice and scallop.  Dishes from the menu included a cheese plate, stuffed peppers, a lamb chop, and our favorite dish of the evening - pulpo a la gallego, Spanish octopus grilled with smoked paprika and lemon.  They served us so much food that we left with a bag full of leftovers.  Service was excellent and a reminder of why Amada is one of the city's best restaurants.
Back to the beer: it did go with all of the dishes, but not in the complementary way that a good beverage brings out subtle and new flavors, where the combination can be revelatory.  Even when it warmed up, Inedit always took a back seat to the food.  On its own, it's a perfectly acceptable beer.  But compared to a funky Belgian beer or a serious pilsner, it was really underwhelming given the internet hype and the breathless prose in the booklet ("Inedit is the first beer specifically created to accompany food...").  It's very cool that chef Garces has brought this rare beer to Pennsylvania, and I'm glad I tried it.  But I think next time I'll opt for some good Spanish wine.

14 February, 2009

Yards Love Stout

Absolutely delicious, served from the hand pump at Prohibition Taproom.  More stouts should be poured this way.  The warm temperature, light carbonation, and foamy head bring the sweet malt flavors forward.  This might not work for a dry stout (Guinness or Sly Fox's O'Reilly's, which really benefit from nitrogen) but for a maltier, sweeter variety like Yards Love Stout, it's pure romance.

11 February, 2009

drawnk: Valentine's Edition

Welcome to a new feature here at the BROG: DRAWNK. Drinking and Drawing. Drawing and Drinking. Get it?
For the first installment here's a V-day card for the beer-loving lover in your life. Print it out. Cut it out. Forward it. Forget it. Whatever. Happy Ballantine's Day.
Here's the full version. Just click the image below:

Update: Stout also goes well with blue!

08 February, 2009

Behold! The Khyber's "Get Outta Towner" Sandwich!

The Khyber had a most exceptional sangwich on special today. Take an ordinary cheesesteak. Add to that a couple long hots, a few strips of bacon, some home fries and a fried egg. There you have the "Get Outta Towner." It is as decadent as it sounds. Wash it down with a crisp, refreshing Rogue Kells Irish Lager. Hang out and watch some horrible sci-fi movie on HD. Its a recipe for an awesome Sunday.

*sorry i dont have any pics. but i do have this ridiculous infomercial to distract you:

04 February, 2009

Higher Education: Beer School!

The wonderful people who brought you the Wine School of Philadelphia have started a companion Beer School, headed by Wine School founder Keith Wallace and Dean Browne, the "Pastor of Fermentation" at Philadelphia Brewing Company.

Something tells me that this will be a lot more enjoyable than law school.

Hat tip: Phoodie

03 February, 2009

I'm moving to within spitting distance of Memphis Taproom!

In Mid-March (or "Middle March" or "The Ides" or however you call it) Amanda and I will be moving to a 2 bedroom rowhome in that section of the Kensington District of Philadelphia known by some as Port Fishington.

In short time I'll be able to walk a half block to the Taproom and order a half-pint, or maybe even a whole pint if I feel like it. We hope to be moved in sometime during Philly Beer Week. Woot!

Speaking of Memphis Taproom: we were there last week for a late dinner and I noticed a change on the menu. The Kielbasy Hoagie has morphed into a Kielbasy Grinder. It now comes with gruyere, sauerkraut and russian dressing on a long roll. It was no less delicious and I was no more able to finish it than before. Sampled the Twisted Thistle IPA from Belhaven. Thistle was not used in the brewing of this cloudy, golden beer. They did use hops and malt though. The hops gallop out at first sip but then the malt catches up. A well balanced beer.

I'm thinking I should look into direct-depositing some of my paycheck each week straight into Memphis Taproom's bank account. That would save the processing fees...and some paper.