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Beer & Ale

Paulaner Oktoberfest: Why I Love October

Though the weather for most of this month has been what we crave in July, typically October is my favorite month. Why? Well, I do love that traditional seasonal change, the crisping of the air, the leaves, etc . . . You start to see the autumnal shift in your diet -- apples, potatoes, good oysters. Maybe you start drinking a little red wine. And, lest I forget, football season and the World Series. The best beer in the world for those things--Oktoberfest, naturally--a rich, amber beer with a strong malty character. I love the Paulaner Oktoberfest, which I cheerfully devoured on Sunday while watching those poor 49ers lose to my just-as-poor Seattle Seahawks.

Japanese Beer: Rice Isn't Only for Sake

I found this interesting Japanese beer on the shelf in Whole Foods. The label, a watercolor of people working the rice paddy, was enticing. It's also a good indication of the beer, which is made from rice. Koshihikari is, according to Wikipedia, a popular rice strain in Japan. The beer is indicative of its origins. It's light in body, texture and flavor. If it's hopped, it's only gently, as there's just a slight grainy whiff of citrus to the beer. It will be too light for most American drinkers, but with some delicate sashimi, it would be lovely.

Slow Drink Nation

Drink Tables

They call it Slow Food, but let me tell you that some of the biggest lines are at the drinks tables. Of all the sections, though, I have to give the nod for the beer pavilion as the best of them all. Why? Not just because it's the quickest service, but because of the diversity and breadth of the selection. The beer pavilion is divided into three bars, each representing a method of beer delivery: bottle, cask, and draught (below).

The Most Delicious Beer of the Year




Though it was a spring release, there's still Lagunitas "Sirius" Cream Ale to be had. Go out and get some immediately - it's likely one of the most delicious beers that will pass your  lips this year.

Sirius is one of Lagunitas' many seasonal releases. Traditionally, a cream ale is a sort of cross between a lager and an ale. It often contains some portion of corn or  rice, similar to a classic American lager like Budweiser, in order to  lighten the body and thin out some of the flavor.

Chateau Montelena: Next, A For-Sale Sign on Mount Rushmore




Not really, but it's quite amazing that two huge, historical and prominent brands have recently been sold to European firms. First, Budweiser, the King of Beers, goes to InBev of Belgium. Now Chateau Montelena goes to the Bordeaux house Cos d'Estournel.

Both were good buys, given the state of the dollar. Still, it's weird that there's not more outrage that our national beer and wine icons are being wheeled and dealed like a used Chevy. Where are the anti-Gall cries of today? What are the new Freedom Fries?

New Orleans Report: Oyster Po'Boys and Abita Beer (to Go)



Just a block from the Monteleone was the famed Acme Oyster House, purveyor of New Orleans seafood since 1910. I stole over there one day by myself for lunch and sat at the bar for an oyster po'boy. Gulf oysters are not my favorite--a little big and mushy for my taste--but they're good when baked, sautéed or, in this case, fried. Despite the sandwich's almost ideal appearance, I didn't love it. Even a whole layer of extra dill pickles didn't save it from being a little bland and soft.


Vietnamese Beer: Triple Threat



This is the beer we drank through Vietnam. Interestingly, there it was called 333, not 33. According to one blog I found, 33 is the original name, and it was the communists who, after taking over in the ‘70s, appended the extra 3.

Sebo in Hayes Valley: A Japanese Triple Play



Few dining opportunities make me happier than the Japanese triple: a glass of sake, a Japanese beer and some fish. This photo was taken at Sebo in Hayes Valley. The beer, Orion, one of my favorites in the world, is brewed on Okinawa, in the south of Japan. The sake was Wakatake Onigoroshi (I believe . . . it was ordered for me), a Junmai Dai Ginjo. I had two. And the fish . . . it was the first of many bites.

Hard Cider: How D'Ya Like Them Apples?



Ever since I was 15 and traveling through France and Britain with my family, I've loved European dry, alcoholic apple cider. This is probably because my parents wouldn't let me drink beer, scotch or (much) wine, but they would let me get the occasional buzz off cider. While there, I developed an affection for the dry, crisp apple-y taste of the stuff.

Beer for Dogs? No, It's Not a Joke



A friend alerted me to this astonishing development in the world of beer: Happy Tail Ale, the first beer for dogs. It's nonalcoholic, fortified with glucosamine (for the joints) and Vitamin E, and it's beef-flavored. Hell, if it weren't for the nonalcoholic part, I'd probably drink it myself.
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