Friday, May 22, 2009

Keys to the Store: Beer Terms

Brewing Ingredients:
The German Purity law lists beer ingredients as:
• Water ( the medium)
• Malt ( base)
• Yeast (the catalyst)
• Hops (the stabilizers and flavoring agents)

Belgians and other distinctive craft brewers use spices, seeds, nuts, flowers, fruit, coffee, ad many other flavors. The legitimate grains for malt are barley, wheat rye, and oats. All others are considered adjunct (substandard) such as corn, rice and other lesser grains.

Types of Beers
Lager and Pilsner: are bottom fermented and are generally lighter and lower in alcohol.
Ale and Wheat Beer (Weiss): are top fermented and usually fuller flavored and higher in alcohol.
Stout and Porter: can be either top or bottom fermented.

Additional Terms
Imperial: A highly extracted version of a certain type of beer.
Double: Twice the malt half the water, way too much of a good thing.
Vintage: Beer produced in a certain year or for a holiday
Bottle Conditioned: A second dose of yeast is added to insure complexity
OG (Original gravity): The ratio of solids to liquids in a brew
IBU (International Bittering Unit): Amount of hops on a scale of 100
ABV (Alcohol By Volume): The amount of FUN in a beer

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Aly's Intro: Cinco de Mayo Beer and Cheese Tasting Notes

This is grain, which any fool can eat, but for which
the Lord has intended a more divine form of consumption.
Let us give praise to our maker and glory to His bounty
be learning about beer.
--Friar Tuck

There is a reason why monks are known to brew beer and make cheese. Perhaps it is because beer and cheese make people happy, and the production of these products serves the community around them, or perhaps the process of manipulating basic ingredients into something beautiful is a near-holy experience in itself. Whatever the reason is, there is no denying that the pairing of a bubbly brew with a delicious cheese is a divine one.

Naturally, when asked to conduct the first beer event of the year for Surfas, I relished the opportunity. What better way to kick off our Beer Series at Surfas than by paying homage to this time-old traditional pairing? I picked five beers and cheeses that I thought would illustrate the range and flexibility in which these two things could be paired and enjoyed.

1. Old Speckled Hen (5.2% ABV) -- Greene King Brewery; Bury St. Edmunds, UK
Beecher's Flagship Cheddar
(Beechers Creamery; Seattle Washington) melted on French Baguette crostinis, topped with Jamon Serrano
--This English Pale Ale and Cheddar share a common terroir ((UK)). The sharpness of cheddar picks up the maltiness and caramel notes of the English Pale Ale, as well highlight the apricot and nutty flavor.

2. Blue Star Wheat (4.5% ABV) – North Coast Brewing Co.; Ft. Bragg, CA
Acapella Goat Chevre (Andante Creamery; Sonoma, CA)
-- The citrusy notes of the Belgian Witbier complement the slight tartness of the chevre, while the banana and fruity notes pick up the sweetness. Carbonation refreshes and cleans the palate from the creaminess, as if to invite taste buds for another tasting.

3. West Coast IPA (7% ABV) – Green Flash Brewing Co; Vista, CA
Grayson (Meadow Creek, VA)
--The bold flavor of this stinky cheese stands up to the 95 IBU (bittering level) of the hops in this India Pale Ale. The fresh grassy elements of the hops pair well with the creamy, intensely perfumed cheese.

4. Gouden Carolus Cuvee van der Keizer (10% ABV) -- Brouwerij Het Anker; Mechelen, Belgium
Five Year Vintage Gouda (Holland)
--Caramel and fruit notes of the cheese will match the deep raisiny notes of the strong dark ale. The dry finish of this Belgian ale intensifies the creamy butterscotch notes of the Gouda.

5. Cucapa Barleywine – (ABV 10%) Cucapa Brewing Company; Mexico:
Saint Agur (Auvergene, France)
--The intensity of this beer needs an equally intense cheese. Creaminess complements the
sweet dessert like quality of the beer, as well as the syrupy mouthfeel. Tastes of dark fruit complement the saltiness of the St. Agur, which marry well in this low carbonated brew.

If you're looking to try something new but don't know where to start, or are already a beer aficionado looking for something different, we carry all of the above beers and cheeses at Surfas and I encourage you to give these pairings a try.

Fellow beer-geek? Shoot an email my way with your name ((just first name, don't try to get fresh with me)), favorite beer/style of beer, favorite way to drink it ((pairings, glasses)) and if you're a homebrewer, what was your last brew? I'd love to hear your feedback on these pairings, whether positive or constructive. :D

I'll see you at rounds. Cheers!

Aly Iwamoto
Surfas Cheese and Charcuterie Lady
Beer Lover, Enthusiast, and Brewer

hey.beermeplz at

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Mother's Day Teatime Benefitting Downtown Women's Center

We are so excited about this event! Saturday on the Cafe Surfas Patio we will be hosting a Teatime Benefit for the Downtown Women's Center from 3pm to 5pm. In addition to the tea, Cafe Surfas Executive Chef Brandi Quinn has put together a scrumptious assortment of mini sandwiches (Smoked Salmon with Wasabi Tobiko Cream Cheese Spread, Curried Chicken Salad, Sliced Cucumbers with Goat Cheese, and more!) and mini desserts (Coconut Macaroons, Mini Blueberry Lemon Thyme Pies, Mini Raspberry Linzer Cookies, and more!).

Tickets are $25 per person and 50% of the proceeds will go to the Downtown Women's Center!

For more info on the event, please visit our Calendar page!

For more info on the Downtown Women's Center and their amazing work to provide supportive housing services for homeless and extremely low-income women, please visit their site here!

Monday, May 4, 2009

What to Do About Left-over Cheese

Hey Cheese Fans!

OK! People want to know what to do with left-overs. Start by evaluating the cheese(s); Trim rinds, unwanted molds and dried out bits. Smell the cheese. It should not smell ammoniated. This is bad.

OK. Now that you have cleaned and gathered the stragglers, roughly chop and lightly coat with flour or other starch. Add liquid (i.e. milk/cream, beer, white wine) and heat over a low flame while stirring to incorporate cheese.

With this concoction the possibilities are endless: Add macaroni or other noodles for a quick lunch, pour over hearty bread and bake for a quicky rarebit. You can do so much with this simple idea! Share your recipes and discoveries. We'd love to hear them.

All is fair in cheese,

Henry T. Cram

Friday, May 1, 2009

Sparkling Wine and American Artisan Goat Cheese Tasting Notes

Sparkling wine and goat cheese make a perfect pairing. The earthy “barnyardiness” of goat cheese is softened and sweetened by the bubbles of sparkling wine; ultimately showcasing its grassy floral notes and creaminess.

Our featured pairings:

Bellefon Brut Champagne -One of my favorite non-vintage champagnes.

This wine contains more Pinot Meunier than Pinot Noir or Chardonnay. It is dry yet with a long rich finish and because it is lower in Chardonnay it is less acidic with a fuller mouth feel. I served it with Cypress Grove's Midnight Moon - Goat Gouda! The rich creamy sweetness of the cheese is enriched by the champagne.

Trevisiol Prosecco

Intensely aromatic and crisp, bringing to mind yellow apples, pear and white peaches. This is a fresh and light sparkling wine from the Veneto region of Italy and paired with Cypress Grove's Truffle Tremor. The group loved this pairing. Everyone asked for seconds! Truffle Tremor is a fluffy goat cheese, with a rich fondue outer layer. It is made with a black truffle slurry. Every taste of the wine and cheese brought on an uncontrollable need to eat and drink more!

Cava Torreoria Brut Rosado - Cava Rose!

I love blush colored sparkling wines. This Cava Rose made with 100% Grenache is clean and aromatic with light fruitiness and dry berries, small bubbles, structured and balanced. Served with Andante Cavatina, a very creamy goat cheese with an ash rind and slight yoghurt sourness. The Cava Rose cut through the earthiness of this cheese, while the cheese enhanced the wine's bouquet of wild forest strawberries.

Four Vines Zinfandel Port – Not a sparkling wine, but it is the perfect dessert!

An intensely rich port while still fairly low in alcohol, with tastes of wild summer blackberries and rich chocolate. Paired with Andante Etude, aged cheese with parmesan like qualities, truly an amazing pairing! This cheese and wine fit perfectly, like a puzzle finding its missing piece.