Congratulations To Garrett Oliver On James Beard Award Win

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It’s a beautiful sight to see the coveted James Beard Award hanging around the neck of one of our own. On Monday evening, the 2014 James Beard Award for “Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional” went to Garrett Oliver of the Brooklyn Brewery.

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Garrett posted the above photo on his Facebook page, and asked his followers to forgive him the sin of “posting about something you’ve won.” Under the circumstances, I don’t think his disclaimer was necessary. This is the type of big time award that should be crowed about. Without question, it’s a terrific achievement for Garrett, but it’s also an important accomplishment on beer’s road to respectability and legitimacy as the fine beverage we all know it to be. In his typical erudite fashion, Garrett reflects on the award, and what it means for beer.

Last night I was named “Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional” by the James Beard Foundation. These awards are often called “the Oscars of the food world” and given the star-studded black tie ceremony at Lincoln Center, the description seems apt. I don’t need to tell you that beer has always taken a back seat in these circles, though by rights beer should have arrived here a very long time ago. My esteemed fellow nominees, especially Sam Calagione and my friend David Wondrich, have preached our bona fides from the rooftops for many years. So this shiny chunk of bling is for my Brooklyn Brewery brewing team and for all the 3,000 American breweries making some of the most amazing beverages the world has ever seen. Stand facing the mash tun, get stuck in, and make some magic today. “This thing of ours” is the very best thing in the world.

Well said, and congratulations on a well-deserved award. Chris Lowder snapped the shot below of much merriment after the award ceremony, with a clearly happy Garrett Oliver.

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Marinating Your Meat In Beer Makes Grilling Healthier

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Here’s good news for your next backyard barbecue. Not only is marinating your meat a tasty choice, it’s also better for your health. According to a new study by the American Chemical Society released today in their Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, “the very same beer that many people enjoy at backyard barbeques could, when used as a marinade, help reduce the formation of potentially harmful substances in grilled meats.”

The new study, Effect of Beer Marinades on Formation of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Charcoal-Grilled Pork, is better explained in the ACS press release:

I.M.P.L.V.O. Ferreira and colleagues explain that past studies have shown an association between consumption of grilled meats and a high incidence of colorectal cancer. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are substances that can form when meats are cooked at very high temperatures, like on a backyard grill. And high levels of PAHs, which are also in cigarette smoke and car exhaust, are associated with cancers in laboratory animals, although it’s uncertain if that’s true for people. Nevertheless, the European Union Commission Regulation has established the most suitable indicators for the occurrence and carcinogenic potency of PAHs in food and attributed maximum levels for these compounds in foods. Beer, wine or tea marinades can reduce the levels of some potential carcinogens in cooked meat, but little was known about how different beer marinades affect PAH levels, until now.

The researchers grilled samples of pork marinated for four hours in Pilsner beer, non-alcoholic Pilsner beer or a black beer ale, to well-done on a charcoal grill. Black beer had the strongest effect, reducing the levels of eight major PAHs by more than half compared with unmarinated pork. “Thus, the intake of beer marinated meat can be a suitable mitigation strategy,” say the researchers.

The study was done using pork, so I wonder if it’s true for steak, too. Looking at the chart, it appears that the “Black Beer” is best for making the meat healthier, so I wonder if it’s the roasted malt? And why would non-alcoholic beer work better than pilsner? Clearly, more research is needed.

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And here’s the abstract, if you want the more technical version:

The effect of marinating meat with Pilsner beer, nonalcoholic Pilsner beer, and Black beer (coded respectively PB, P0B, and BB) on the formation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in charcoal-grilled pork was evaluated and compared with the formation of these compounds in unmarinated meat. Antiradical activity of marinades (DPPH assay) was assayed. BB exhibited the strongest scavenging activity (68.0%), followed by P0B (36.5%) and PB (29.5%). Control and marinated meat samples contained the eight PAHs named PAH8 by the EFSA and classified as suitable indicators for carcinogenic potency of PAHs in food. BB showed the highest inhibitory effect in the formation of PAH8 (53%), followed by P0B (25%) and PB (13%). The inhibitory effect of beer marinades on PAH8 increased with the increase of their radical-scavenging activity. BB marinade was the most efficient on reduction of PAH formation, providing a proper mitigation strategy.

James Beard Semifinalists Announced

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The 2014 semifinalist nominations for the James Beard Awards were announced yesterday, and the good news is there are quite a few beer professionals among the nominees for “Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional.” If you’re not familiar with the prestigious food awards, here’s how the James Beard Foundation describe their annual awards. “Covering all aspects of the industry — from chefs and restaurateurs to cookbook authors and food journalists to restaurant designers and architects and more — the Beard Awards are the highest honor for food and beverage professionals working in North America.” Until very recently, the awards were almost exclusively food and wine-centric, but more recently “beverage professionals” has slowly been expanding to include craft beer and spirits, too. It’s been nice to see the prejudice against beer in the food, cooking and restaurant world finally beginning to slide away. Too slowly, perhaps, but still … it’s about time and nice to see.

The list released yesterday is the semifinalists. On March 19, a smaller list of finalists will be announced from among the semifinalists and the award winners will be announced over two days in early May. In the category “Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional,” seven of the twenty semifinalists work in the beer world. Hopefully, they’ll all make the cut next month.

  • Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, DE
  • Don Feinberg and Wendy Littlefield, Vanberg & DeWulf, Cooperstown, NY
  • Mike Floyd, Nick Floyd, and Simon Floyd, Three Floyds Brewing, Munster, IN
  • Garrett Oliver, Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, NY
  • Tom Peters, Monk’s Cafe, Philadelphia
  • Joey Redner, Cigar City Brewing, Tampa, FL
  • Rob Tod, Allagash Brewing Company, Portland, ME

Congratulations to all the semifinalists. It’s a great list, all deserving, though I’m especially pleased to see Tom Peters, who I just traveled to Belgium with last week, along with Don Feinberg and Wendy Littlefield, who I had dinner with in Ghent last week, make the list.

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Beer In Film #37: Food Tech — Hot Dogs & Beer

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Today’s beer video is an episode of Food Tech, which used to be aired on the History Channel, focusing on Ballpark food and beverages, specially beer. This was the last episode of ten total shows, and although it was called “Ball park,” it featured segments about “Kegs, Hops, Beer, Hot dogs, Casings (sausage), Mustard, Cracker Jack and Drumsticks,” the ice cream. Who’s hungry now?

What A Surprise! Prohibitionists Hate Beer-Flavored Jelly Beans

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Hilarious. I saw this one coming. The prohibitionists — who my friend and colleague Harry Schuhmacher calls the “no fun bunch” — are already expressing their outrage that there’s a jelly bean with beer flavor. Alcohol Justice (AJ) took to Twitter today to voice their disapproval, even using the photograph distributed by Jelly Belly in their press release.

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But let’s look at their nature of their outrage. First there’s this sarcastic sentence.

Kids really need beer-flavored jelly beans.

They do the same thing any time there’s a drawing or cartoon on a beer label. They make the very wrong assumption that only kids like candy. Or that jelly beans are just for kids. I think former president Ronald Reagan would take issue with that. Reagan famously loved jelly beans and jars of them were all over the white house during his two terms. I think it’s fairly safe to assume that plenty of very serious people and politicians ate jelly beans then, and continue to do so.

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Could we please dispense with the notion that if children like something, that adults can’t (and vice versa), or that there can’t be adult versions of things that kids like, too? It frankly is absurd and surely they could come up with a better argument.

The company Jelly Belly has for decades made cocktail-flavored jelly beans. “The company first created a non-alcoholic gourmet flavor in 1977 with Mai Tai. Since then, more flavors from Blackberry Brandy to Strawberry Daiquiri were developed, inspired by popular cocktails. Over the years, favorite flavors like Piña Colada (1983), Margarita (1995) and Mojito (2010) have helped carve out the Jelly Belly Cocktail Classics® collection of six cocktail flavors.” Yet as fas as I know, this is the first whining by AJ over alcoholic flavored jelly beans. And it should also be noted that not one of these, the beer bean included, have any actual alcohol whatsoever in them. But none of us who have made it past age 21 should be allowed to enjoy any of those on the off chance that a child might eat one, or even want to eat one. Oh, the horror! What utter nonsense. If you don’t want your kids to eat the nonalcoholic jelly bean with a whiff of some of the same flavors as a hefeweizen, I think I see a way out. Don’t buy them, and don’t let them buy them either. Maybe you could just lock up your kids until they’re old enough to navigate the world on their own. I’m sure that wouldn’t be bad for them. You should definitely keep them as sheltered as possible from anything that’s of the adult world so they’ll be prepared to be adults themselves. What could go wrong? But here’s AJ’s insightful conclusion:

So very wrong.

Why? Seriously, why? What the fuck is wrong with there being adult-oriented flavors of jelly beans for adults (or children for that matter since there’s absolutely NO alcohol in them). Seriously, what is wrong with you? Can you really be afraid that it will give kids a taste for beer so they’ll want to try the real thing? Or that it “normalizes” the idea of drinking beer? Which is, may I remind you, still legal for adults 21 years and over, despite your best efforts. I’m sure there’s some perfectly logical reason why you hate this other than you just hate anything to do with alcohol. So what is it? Let me strap in. Go ahead. Why shouldn’t there be candy aimed at or made for adults? Why can’t there be nonalcoholic candy of any flavor, especially when there already has been other such flavors for decades? Why is it “so very wrong?”

Jelly Belly Debuts Beer-Flavored Jelly Bean

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The local Fairfield company Jelly Belly has made hundreds, perhaps thousands, of jelly bean flavors since they debuted in the summer of 1976. But their newest one, draft beer, really got my attention.

Apparently, for decades, a beer-flavored jelly bean has been one of their most highly-requested flavors. But their “research and development team wanted to get it just right before announcing the new flavor to the world.”

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“This took about three years to perfect,” says Ambrose Lee, research and development manager for Jelly Belly Candy Company. “The recipe includes top secret ingredients, but I can tell you it contains no alcohol.” The biggest question they first had to answer was what type of beer to make into a jelly bean. “Ale or Lager? Stout? Lambic? Pilsner? In the end, the company opted to pay homage to its German ancestry with a Hefeweizen-inspired ale flavor, and Draft Beer Jelly Belly® jelly beans took shape.”

According to Jelly Belly:

The effervescent and crisp flavor is packed in a golden jelly bean with an iridescent finish. Beer connoisseurs will find the flavor profile to be clean with notes of wheat and a touch of sweetness. The aroma is mildly bready. While Draft Beer packs a flavor punch, it is alcohol free.

The new flavor will debut at this week’s Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco and ISM in Cologne, Germany, and will be released on store shelves shortly thereafter, in early 2014.

Last night they had an event at the 21st Amendment Brewery in San Francisco, where they handed out small packages of the new flavor. At first, I thought I could only get some banana flavors with a hint of clove in the background, but not much else, and little in the way of what I’d call “beer” flavor. But in conversations with other there at the event, what emerged was that the flavors I’d been searching for disappeared if you drank an actual beer beforehand. Several people I talked to recounted the same experience, but those who resisted the temptation to order a beer first had a very different experience with the jelly beans.

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Happily, I took a few packets home with me, and tried them again this morning before my usual cup of breakfast beer (kidding). Anyway, the theory of the night before proved true. They do actually have a subtle beery flavor with wheat and the banana and clove notes you’d expect in a hefeweizen. It’s not a strong taste, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I assume when you have actual beer in your mouth that it kills the subtler flavors in the candy.

Last night, I also spend some time talking with Rob, one of the Jelly Belly R&D guys who worked on creating the new beer flavored jelly bean. He mentioned that they’d originally considered doing a craft beer assortment but getting the first one right took so long that they abandoned that idea. I offered some suggestions, and who knows, maybe we’ll see some more types of beer turned into jelly beans in the future. I suspect many people will think of it as just a gimmick, but the company has a long history of creating original flavors that you wouldn’t ordinarily expect. So why not. They’ve done a cocktail line of jelly beans, so beer frankly only makes sense. If you see some, give them a try. Just don’t have a beer first.

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Turkey & Travel: How We Celebrate Thanksgiving

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Today’s bonus infographic is all about the holiday, entitled Turkey & Travel: How We Celebrate Thanksgiving. It was created by Nationwide Bank, and shows a number of factoids about Thanksgiving, including a comparison of what was served at the first one compared to our modern meals.

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Click here to see the infographic full size.

Beer At The Thanksgiving Table

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Thirty years ago, in November 1983, Michael Jackson wrote an article for the Washington Post entitled “Beer at the Thanksgiving Table.” It was subtitled “Wine is acceptable for this annual feast, but what if you prefer beer?” It was apparently one of his first pieces on the topic of pairing beer and food.

The article contains one of my favorite quotes by Michael:

To give thanks is a matter of joy; should that be confined by excessive sobriety? Better still, Thanksgiving is an annual opportunity to refresh old friendships and make new ones, in which matter both the ritual and effect of a shared glass is the best tie.

When you consider this was written when Sierra Nevada was still a very small brewery, New Albion had just closed and Mendocino Brewing had only been founded the same year, it’s a remarkable time piece. Nobody was even thinking about pairing beer with food yet. Now we take it for granted. But back then most people still needed convincing. This is great reminder of how far we’ve come and how much of debt of thanks we owe to Michael.

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Here’s Michael’s suggested general pairing suggestions from thirty years ago:

As an aperitif: Dry, hoppy beers with some bitterness. Try New Amsterdam (from New York) or Anchor Steam (San Francisco).

With fish: Pilsners. Almost all of the well-known American beers are loosely of this style. So are the best-known imported brands, like Heineken and Carlsberg. Czech and German Pilsners tend to be drier, and therefore go especially well with the more oily varieties of fish.

Shellfish: Dry stouts or porters.

Smoked meats, sausages: If you can find it, the smoked Rauchbier of Bamberg, Germany. Or a German altbier or weizenbeier.

Pasta: The less spicy pasta dishes of Northern Italy go quite well with the Munich Dark type of beer. It is, after all, commonly served with the admittedly-heavier noodle dishes of Germany.

Fowl: Munich Light with turkey; perhaps the slightly less sweet Dortmunder style might go better with chicken.

Red Meat: English Pale Ale.

Game: Scottish ale, which is heavier.

But take the time to go back and read the entire article. And give thanks that nobody looks at you funny when you bring beer to the Thanksgiving meal. As is my personal tradition, I’m enjoying some Anchor Christmas Ale with my meal, something I’ve been doing for roughly twenty-five years. Happy Thanksgiving.

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