Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Girls' Night Out and Beer 101 at Tony's Darts Away

Beer 101If you hadn't noticed, there are quite a few women in the beer world in the area. Women brewers, beer writers, beer bar managers, etc, and they want to get more women out there to learn more and fall in love with beer. To that end, some of them decided to hold a girls' only beer 101 tasting class at Tony's Darts Away in Burbank, which houses over 30 California craft beers.

The beer tasting was led by Paige from Tony's Darts Away and Ting from Eagle Rock Brewery. For those of you who are interested, Ting actually holds girls' only beer classes at the brewery on the third Wednesday of every month.

Before the tasting, we had to first learn about the four major ingredients: water, hops, barley, and yeast.

Malt/malted barley gives color and body to the beer. Pilsner malt is the base malt (used in lagers) and determines the gravity (how much alcohol and sugar) of the beer. In addition, crystal malts are added. Named by numbers (like C-120), the higher number indicates a darker roast, which also gives more fruit characteristics.

Hops give bitterness to the beer (which comes from the alpha acids) and without them, the beer would be overwhelmingly sweet and have no balance. They showed us what the original dried hops look like (right) before they're packed into the pellets used today (left). The pellets save space and also make it easier to obtain consistent flavors.

They didn't want us to drink on an empty stomach, so we had some sausages and poutine. Not sure why, but they kept bringing out the vegan sausage and poutine. Good to know that they have vegan offerings available, but I definitely preferred meat in my sausages! I surprisingly liked the vegan poutine thought. Both the "gravy" and "cheese" were flavorful and had the right textures (close enough anyway).
Vegan Poutine
Oh, right. The beers. I had to leave early but managed to try quite a few beers that night:
  1. Craftsman 1903 Lager. Tasting notes: light and crisp, tasted fruit with only a light bitterness.
  2. Black Market Brown Ale from Temecula (5% ABV). Malty but light with a honey aroma and caramel at the back palate. Some people noted "burnt cereal" too.
  3. Russian River Blind Pig IPA from Santa Rosa. This brewery is.known for their IPAs and sour beers. We smelled citrus after beer is agitated. Bitter but balanced. One of the more drinkable IPAs for me, not too bitter.
  4. The Bruery Trade Wines Tripel (8% ABV). This was one of my favorite beers. It's a Belgian style beer and higher in alcohol content, so they must use yeast that can survive in higher alcohol environment. Light colored, ripe fruit in the nose, medium body, bit of spice at the back palate. 
  5. Eagle Rock Solidarity Black Mild. It seems like there is a small movement to debunk the "dark beer is heavy beer" myth (I received the same message about Deschutes Brewery's Black Butte Porter). Eagle Rock Solidarity Black MildEagle Rock Brewery has released the Solidarity Black Mild, a dark beer with only 3.6% ABV. Yes, the beer indeed looks quite dark, and there is a light coffee in the nose, but it has a very light and crisp body with a slight bitterness at the back palate (it is after only 3.6% alcohol!)
    To brew this beer, they use 7 different types of malt. It's also a nitro blend beer, meaning they use more nitrogen than CO2 (60% vs 40%) which changes the mouthfeel.

So that's all the beers I got to try that night, but I certainly learnt and tasted a lot! If you want to learn more, or learn about which types of beers you might like, you can go to Ting's classes on the third Wednesdays. Or you can just go to craft beer focused bars like Tony's Darts Away, Blue Palms Brewhouse (Hollywood), 38 Degrees (Alhambra), and many many more, and just taste away.


Gourmet Pigs   © 2008. Template Recipes by Emporium Digital