Carla Jean Lauter

The Beer Babe

Category: Beer Blogger’s Conference (Page 2 of 5)

Goose Island Beer Dinner

This post is part of the ongoing coverage of the 2012 Beer Blogger’s Conference. For more information on the conference, check out

After a memorable visit to Goose Island’s production facility, I was even more excited to attend the beer dinner at Goose Island Clybourn’s brewpub. We were brought to a seating area with black tablecloths and fancy silverware. I was told that the Goose Island pubs are known for good pub food, but not ‘fancy’ fare, so this was a pleasant surprise. I sat at a table with a few Chicogans so that I could talk to them a bit more about their city.

Brewmaster Brett Porter was on hand to give us an introduction into what they do and to tell us about the barrel aged beers that Goose Island has in their portfolio. Education Coordinator Suzanne Wolctott then walked us through each course. Their stories and knowledge were great, and I think that I can safely say we were big fans of them both by the end of the evening.

The courses & beers:

Goose Island Lolita
Trout and Tomoatoes: Rushing Waters trout, Iron Creek heirloom tomoatoes, local chevre and balsamic vinegar.

After a brief huddle at our table about whether to eat the fish and its skin (the verdict was yes), we dove in to this beautiful course. I tasted the tomatoes first, and they were succulent and delicious. I was surprised that the goat cheese was on the trout, but it was a fantastic match. The Lolita was bright pink, tinted by raspberries, and its tartness went with the vinegrette very well. I’ve never had Lolita before, and I have to say it was amazing.

Goose Island Matilda
Pork Belly and Pasta: Gunthorp Farms Pork Belly, House-made Pappardelle, Rosemary, Jus, Camembert Foam.

Not one to ever turn down pork belly, seeing this get put down in front of me made me instantly smile. The pork belly was well cooked, and the somewhat dry and sweet notes of Matilda cut through the fat of the dish very well. I wasn’t as much of a fan of the pasta, but it was a very nice (and unexpected) pair. I am very familiar with Matilda (as I mentioned in the last post, it was something I’d always have to ask people in other states to get) and was really surprised by its versatility with food. I may have to incorporate it more into my dinner experiments in the future.

Goose Island Juliet
Leg of Lamb: Slagel Farms Lamb, pork fat poached fingerling potatoes, haricot vert, jus.

Now come on, seriously, you’re spoiling me here. I will have lamb any day of the week so this twas just heaven. Perfectly cooked, lightly seasoned, and again, a great pair for the beer. Juliet is a rye beer made with Michigan blackberries, and aged at least 14 months. It was also reddish, and had a great tartness to it. In this course I fell in love with the lamb, but enjoyed the beer long after the course was over.

Goose Island Madame Rose
Chocolate and Cherries: Flourless chocolate cake, seedling cherries, black dog malted gelato.

You know when you see a cake that looks so rich that you’re almost afraid to take a bite? This one looked like it was going to be heavy and sticky, but was neither. Absolutely delicious chocolate and a slight hint of dark cherries made this blissful. Our table had a “moment” where we all put a forkful in our mouths and were stuck speechless, eventually putting the fork down and just staring at each other in bliss and delight. With the cherries and the Madame Rose? Even better. It was heavenly.

All in all this was one of the better beer dinners I’ve ever attended. There wasn’t a missed course, and the welcoming atmosphere was obvious. Great job, all!

Note: I would like to thank the Goose Island Clybourn staff, chefs, brewers and everyone that helped out with this event. I know the work that had to have been involved, and I think that it shows how much you care about the beer and the food. Cheers and thank you! Yours, The Beer Babe

Chicago, My Kind of Town

This post is part of the ongoing coverage of the 2012 Beer Blogger’s Conference. For more information on the conference, check out

Walking along lake Michigan, listening to the gentle ‘tink, tink’ of sailboat masts and looking at the beautiful l blue water I had to admit something to myself. I think I’m in love…

…with Chicago.

I arrived to the pre-conference a day before the scheduled events were to take place after I saw a chance to snag an inexpensive flight out. For some, this would be inconvenient, for me this was a chance to explore a new city.

I did the things that you do in Chicago as a tourist, and I spent a ton of time on the L trains, on my feet and just taking it all in. There’s something about the city that tugs at my heart – the abundance of green spaces, the clear transit directions, and incredibly friendly people. There is a constant juxtaposition between the historical and the new, the natural and the man-made. A line of skyscrapers includes both the ornately carved marbles and granite and shimmering clean glass. Shiny, bent metal reflects the swaying trees and the green peeking out. I took a tour of the underground tunnels known as ‘pedways’ and ended up staring at a gigantic Tiffany glass dome, saw a controversial Picasso, the Clark County Assessor’s Office, The Bean and countless other places of lore.


I could live here.

My distinctly beer-free explorations were cut short by the heat wave, and I retreated to air conditioned hotel bliss for a nap.

I awoke to several tweets from Chicagoans answering my recommendations for hot dogs and beer spots, as well as one from the communicaions manager for Goose Island brewing.

@beerbabe if you want to sneak a peek into #GooseIsland – let me know, and I’ll walk you through the brewery. Otherwise, see you tomorrow!

Realizing that I would only be at the brewpub the next evening, I hopped on the L and made my way across town. On the way, I tried to think about what I knew about Goose Island. they are the makers of Matilda and Pere Jacques – two beers that I used to have my little brother pick up for me in New York and that always bring a smile to my face. For the 2012 Beer Bloggers Conference, Goose Island is sponsoring a beer dinner, as well as our transportation between Chicago and Indianapolis (from pre-conference to real conference).

In 2011 it was announced that Goose Island had been purchased by Anheuiser-Busch, which caused a bit of a stir in the craft beer community as it meant that they were no longer independent. Other than that, I didn’t know a whole lot.

What I found at the brewery surprised me. First, the entire system is a 50 barrel size. To those not sure how much that is, the third photo above is the tank where all of the boiling/mashing occurs. That’s it. Seriously. So Matilda, Sophie and the like? All pass through that one tank.

I got to sample part of their “Fulton & Wood Series” which are exclusive collaborative beers made by employees from secretaries to warehouse workers to head brewers. The Black Mission (the third of seven in the series) was brewed by two brewers and a wholesale support team member, and was designed to mimic Fig Newton cookies. There was a lovely creaminess (from a bit of lactose sugar), bready taste on top of the figs (they used black mission figs right in the beer) and it was lovely.

After warming up with this beer, we got on the topic of the A-B aquisition. I was pleasantly surprised to find out, however, that this was not the ‘evil takeover’ or overly controlling relationship that some had speculated it was. A-B serves as the financial backer and allows the brewery to grow in ways they could not grow before. Thanks to this, Goose Island now has the most barrels (the biggest barrel program) at any US brewery – over 3000, and has been able to offset their “flagship” beers (IPA and Brown) with interesting sours and other things that reflect their never-ending crativity. Now seperate from the brewpubs, the production brewery is where a lot of magic happens. However, there’s no “editorial control” from A-B’s side – they have actually helped to elevate standards for consistency, but have no plans to take over control of the brewing process or dictating what will be brewed. The A-B plant in Baldwinsville, NY was just recently certified to brew some of the Goose Island beers, giving some production capacity back to the production brewery in Chicago. The 312 will be offered in cans soon and thanks to this arrangement, there wasn’t any need to install a canning line.

The 312 (pronounced THREE-ONE-TWO not THREE TWELVE as I was gently reminded after saying it wrong) is the area code for Chicago, and is described as an Urban Wheat Ale, and is really meant to reflect Chicago itself. The skline is on the label, and the black and yellow coloration looks like a taxi cab. The taste is really easy-drinking.

As we chatted about beer and talked about the importance of staying local and creative, I began to think about Goose Island itself. In a way, the “big” guy coming in to buy it has allowed them to have the creativity to reflect their local roots. They are not going anywhere soon, and have a bright future ahead. Just like the rebirth of chicago and the juxtaposition of nature and man, the brewery is both big and small, both local and far-seeing. Absolutely worth a visit, a taste, and the respect deserving of any artisan brewery.

Related Links:
*Goose Island Brewing Company

2012 Beer Blogger’s Conference

I am attending the 2012 Beer Blogger’s Conference in Indianapolis, ID – coverage will be ongoing – stay tuned, or check out hashtag #beerbloggers on twitter to join the fun.

A Nice Pair

This post is part of the ongoing coverage of the 2011 Beer Blogger’s Conference. For more information on the conference itself, visit The Beer Blogger’s Conference Webpage.

There was a lot of talk about beer pairing at the conference – that is, the art/science of attempting to find foods and beer that work better together than alone. The first of these events – a “beer brunch” at the Spirt of 77 was a total hit.

Spirit of 77 Beer Brunch

The first, which happened on Saturday of the conference, was a beer pairing brunch held at the Spirit of 77 (@spiritof77bar) restaurant in Downtown Portland as part of PDX Beer week (which was conveniently concurrent to the conference).

Of a menu that included everything from sweetbreads to bacon to squid, I ordered two pairings:

1. Double Mountain Vaporizer (IPA), paired with battered squid and pickled peppers.

Beer description:
“THE VAPORIZER” is a golden-hued Pale Ale that features a beautifully hoppy aroma and flavor. The malt is 100% Gambrinus Pilsner, our sweet and supple house malt from Gambrinus Malting in British Columbia. The hops are primarily of the Challenger variety, grown on a single farm in the Yakima Valley. We dry-hop “THE VAPORIZER” to pump up the hoppy goodness. It’s an appetizingly dry, clean and pure-tasting take on a hoppy Pale Ale.

Of the beers that we tried (3 from Double Mountain and 3 from Hub Brewing) the Vaporizer was my favorite. It was very clean finishing, but still very hoppy, which I must attribute to the dry hopping, but was impressed with none the less.

The pairing itself? Okay. The squid and the pickled peppers were drizzled with a spicy cream sauce that was very delicious. But the beer wasn’t quite aggressive enough to be on par with the spicy sauce, so I found myself eating the squid and not really paying much attention to the beer. Good, but not great as far as a pairing goes.

2. Hopworks Urban Brewery – Batch 1000, paired with cured Salmon, potato pancake, Creme Fraiche, Roe.

Beer description:
Our 1000th batch of beer! Brewed with 1000 pounds of incredible Organic Pilsner, Caramel and Munich malts. Hopped with locally grown Cascade, Mt. Hood, and Palisade hops. A beautiful balance of hops and malt await in our American Bitter.

The pairing? The pairing was great. For some reason, the dryness of the beer kept up very well with the richness of the salmon and the creme freche. The dish was perfectly balanced, and all the flavors played in my mouth in delicious harmony, which is what a paring is supposed to evoke. Brilliant match.

While I sampled and dabbled at others’ plates, I had to sit back and appreciate that here, in Portland, OR, this type of event is normal, expected, and well executed. I do long for the day when beer pairing is just as accepted universally as wine pairing is, and I can already see that day on the horizon.

Sharing the Spotlight

This post is part of the ongoing coverage of the 2011 Beer Blogger’s Conference. For more information on the conference itself, visit The Beer Blogger’s Conference Webpage.

Last year, one of the highest rated segments of the Beer Blogger’s Conference was the “Night of Many Bottles” where participants were encouraged to bring local, unusual, or hard-to-find beer to a free-form tasting. With more than 100 participants last year, there were literally hundreds of bottles waiting to be sampled. What I thought was the most interesting bit of that evening was not that there was an infinite selection- but more of what the beer bloggers became as the night progressed. We each became advocates and salesmen of our own favorites. Being the only blogger from Maine in attendance last year, I thought it was my duty to bring attention and respect to east coast beer. Last year I brought Rising Tide’s debut beer, Ishmael, and Maine Beer Company’s Peeper Ale. Both are outside the box beers – an alt and a great, crisp pale ale with lots of hops – that you wouldn’t expect from little old New England.

This year, I received support from many individuals, businesses and beer folks in order to attend this year’s conference. One of the key supporters of my journey was a local brewery, Rising Tide. I think the brewer, Nate Sanborn, has done a terrific job with the three brews he has released so far, and I can’t wait to see what comes next. So, I decided to bring along my favorite Rising Tide beers to share them with the beer blogging community; Ursa Minor and Daymark, both as a thank-you to the sponsors, but also to continue my tradition of sharing the best of Maine beer with the rest of the beer blogging community.

Ursa Minor is labeled as a “Weizen Stout” and I just can’t get enough of it.

“Dark as squid ink and moody as the sea, Ursa Minor is our take on a winter wheat beer. Starting with a German wheat-beer yeast and a base of malted wheat, we added a blend of dark crystal and roasted malts to create a wheat stout. Redolent of dark fruit, weizen yeast esters, and roasted barley, Ursa Minor is perfect for an icy winter’s eve.” – label text

When shopping for Daymark, I noticed that there were still a few bottles of this winter release around and I snatched them up immediately. A few months on the shelf also mellowed the brew just enough to make it super special. The thickness of the mouthfeel and the nice roastiness is what I love about this beer. At the conference, it was the first bottle I had opened for me, and the one that went the quickest.

Daymark, my new favorite summer beer from Maine, was up next. This one is a “Rye Pale Ale” and has some great, bright hoppiness to it, and is made with local rye.

“Chart a new course with Daymark as your guide. We start with a classic, clean and crisp American pale ale brewed with spicy Columbus and Centennial hops. Then we accent the grain bill with rye grown on small local family farms right here in Maine and malted to our specifications at Valley Malts, an artisanal malt house. Finally we dry hop the finished beer for a bright floral aroma.” -label text

It has almost a subtle lemon flavor and it just goes absolutely perfectly with any summer meal. In a large bottle, it’s a little unusual to bring this to a picnic, but I am seeing more people ordering this with meals and sharing the bottle like a bottle of wine. At the conference tasting, a lot of bloggers appreciated that there was a major difference between this and some of the sticky super hoppy brews of the Pacific Northwest, but in a good way.

Having beer bloggers (especially those from the Pacific Northwest, California, etc.) sample maine beer made me start to seriously ponder my blogging focus. I love – LOVE – being an amplifier of what’s going on in New England Craft Beer, and I adore thinking about the ways in which craft beer in New England is completely different, but not less worthy than West-Coast brews. The reality is that New England Beer (vs. West Coast Beer) isn’t an apples to apples comparison. The best IPA in New England is not the same, nor comparable to the best IPA in the West because it’s an entirely different culture of craft beer, a different philosophy of brewing. I plan to write more on this topic later, but it was great to have the opportunity to think about it.

And, if the satisfaction of sharing wasn’t enough, I was thrilled to hear comments and see the word spread about the beers that I brought, like this:

For more information:
Rising Tide Brewing Company
twitter: @risingtidebeer

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