Lucky 13: Oregon Chocolate Festival Beer & Chocolate Menu

One of our fine team members getting the goods plated…

Mmmmmmmm

Ahhhhhhhhh

Ooooooooo!!

Robust crowd sounds abounded last weekend at the 13th annual Oregon Chocolate Festival, held at the Ashland Hills Hotel & Resort in Ashland Oregon. It was my 6th year presenting and they’ve come a loooooong way since they started. They’ve continued to see increased attendance, invite a variety of tasty and engaging vendors, host a line-up of educational presentations and have even added a run.

Six years ago when I started giving the classes, I literally didn’t know any chocolate makers. So – about twenty minutes before my talk, I ran around the festival floor, introducing myself and asking, “would you like me to feature your chocolates?” to a handful of vendors.

Great crew (slightly chocolate-goofy!) helping out

Dagoba was one of those vendors and they’ve become a long-term partner for me – and I’m so grateful and glad! World class organic chocolate, variety of flavors and styles (drinking chocolate powder, bars and so forth) and very easy to work with. Props to Jill and the Dagoba crew for their continued support. If you were there and liked the chocolates, be sure to let them know (they graciously give [read: donate] the goods each year).

This year was so much fun, as usual – because of the guests who come to partake of all the fest offers. And I’d like to give a special shout out to all the fine flavor lovers who attended one of my two Beer & Chocolate Classes! Thanks for everyone who came back and thanks to every one who experienced it for the first time.

My thanks as well to the fine volunteers from The Hospitality Club at Southern Oregon University, Asante, and the world class staff with the Neuman Hotel Group who makes sure everything is smooth and fabulous for me and our guests every year. To my captains, Katrina & Larry – you rocked it! Till next year ~

Love live the Festival!!

Here are the menus we enjoyed.

Saturday:

  • Standing Stone Brewing (all beers deliciously made by their brewer Larry Chase) Milk Chocolate Ale + Polenta with Dagoba Superberry + fresh blueberries & strawberries
  • Twin Plunge Double IPA + Dagoba Orange &  Lemonberry bars
  • Chocolate Porter + Ginger cookies with Dagoba Chai drinking chocolate & Xolcolatl chocolate chevre

Sunday:

  • Chocolate Porter + Dagoba Milk Chocolate bar
  • Twin Plunge + Lemonberry polenta & lemon zest
  • Milk Chocolate Ale + Ginger cookies with Dagoba Chai drinking chocolate & Authentic chocolate chevre

Recipes:

Chocolate Polenta

I made a large batch of polenta (to feed 100!) for each day. Essentially 12 cups of water + 4 cups of polenta; adding 2 bars of chocolate to each batch + 1 cup cream (not milk – it’ll separate). You can add more as desired – and I didn’t add any sugar at all, so the results were lovely and mild. Enhance and play with them as you wish.

Chocolate Chevre

Since I love love love goat cheeses, it was an easy pick to enhance chevre with the drinking chocolate powers. Allow the cheese to reach room temp and soften a bit more. When they’re room temp, sprinkle in the chocolate as desired. I highly recommend you add, mix & taste – following this pattern until you reach the flavor target desired.

Ginger cookies in testing mode

Ginger Cookies (on which we spread the chevre)

Yield = approximately 108 with a size 60 scoop dollops cut in half

Beat together until creamy: 1 + 1/8 c bacon fat* and 1.5 c sugar (mixing white and brown is a delight!)

Add: .25 c malt syrup or molasses + 2 large eggs

Sift together: 3 c flour, 1 t salt, 3 t baking soda, 1 heaping t powdered ginger, pinch cayenne, 1 heaping t cinnamon and .5 c Dagoba Drinking Chocolate powder of choice

Add dry ingredients to the wet, combine completely and don’t overbeat the batter.

Scoop or spoon out as desired. Note – with the bacon fat, they’ll spread so be conservative unless you want wide and flat cookies! Chilling the dough after mixed and before baking may help retard spread somewhat.

Bake at 350 for only 9 minutes; they can dry out and be really crumbly (if you like that style of cookie, go for it). Remove from the over after 9 minutes, cool for 1 minute, and remove to cooling racks. They cool and harden quickly too; store in airtight container. I surmise they’d freeze okay – and are always best fresh!

*I use Beeler’s 2# packages of bacon cuttings; it’s really low in salt and simple high quality bacon and a great value.

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Beer & Chocolate

It’s that time of year again – the Oregon Chocolate Festival is coming right up. And yours truly is again presenting lively & delicious chocolate and beer tasting sessions.

For the past 5 years (this year = 6th) it’s been a pleasure to be part of this event at the invite of my fine colleague, Karolina of the Neuman Hotel Group. As I look back at the previous years, I like what I see.

OCF 2012

2012: First year invited to the festival by Karolina. My Fine Husband is a brewer in the same town and he was invited to make a beer for and talk at the Friday night Chocolate Makers dinner. Yum! I was lucky enough to go along and enjoy the hospitality and get a glimpse of what was ahead. We also were given a booth in exchange for my presentation, wherein we sold WEB goodies.

It’s always fun to see returning guests like Michelle.

2013: On the grow – the festival keeps attracting return guests and new guests into the flavor fold. I’m invited back thanks to our success last year and it’s a great time again, this time with an even fuller room (2 sessions, one Sat & Sun) that last year. Returning guests provide a humbling bonus.

Felicia enjoys the festival, with a fresh beer in hand.

2014: Getting bigger! And our last year in the actual room inside the hotel. We’re bursting at the seams and I give away a few tickets to the event – even better to help the Hotel generate more enthusiasm for a consistently well run and well done event. Felicia is the Winner and I’m so glad to have her the other 40 – 50 guests for each session. The Hotel Group has a terrific team, year over year, too so that makes the life of a presenter so much easier and more fun.

2015: Last year at the Ashland Springs Hotel, Downtown Ashland. In the tent we had a ball with as many guests would fit on Saturday, as well as a robust audience on Sunday too. Still with chairs only, we can snugly fit 60ish guests seated, with a few standing in the back. Thankfully I had enough of everything to serve the groups. Even better, my filmmaker Sean and PR pro Erika are in the house to capture all this tasty fun (clip above).

Join us at the Hills for the Festival

2016: We made a big leap forward to the new location, Ashland Hills Hotel, where the room can seat significantly more. We set up for 80 (seats & tables) and had big overflow of likely 100 = 120! While it’s a thrill to get that many people in the room who want to take part, it’s a disappointment to not be able to fully serve everyone who wanted to be there.  Big thanks to my team, Stacy & Russ, for working with the NHG crew to make it sing for me and our fine guests. I also gave away some private beer & chocolate tasting sessions (only 1 of 3 was redeemed…).

Soon: March 3 – 5, 2017. We’ll seat 100 people only, making sure that those who get there in good time have a literal seat and chair to enjoy the fun. Saturday & Sunday will allow for two different sessions, separate menus and as likely a few surprises. I’m deep into the throes of menu planning and development – creating a fun and delicious & enlightening menu for the 100 guests we’ll have Saturday and the other 100 we’ll have Sunday. Plus Karolina has given me the opportunity to be the moderator of a panel of beverage & food specialists – can’t wait!

Paula, Cassie, Ginger & Karolina are ready for you to join the fun!

Why am I walking down this chocolate memory lane today? Because in a world of sometimes feeling like I didn’t accomplish anything some days, these events are incredibly tangible and real. They’re like my fairway: a successful event like this helps me keep moving forward, knowing what I do matters.

  • Thanks to all the guests – one timers, repeats and stalwarts.
  • Thank you to Karolina and my crews – you make it all the better and successful for everyone.
  • Thank you for my flavor partners, including Dagoba Organic Chocolate and Larry/Brewer and others.

I’m relishing the upcoming festival and hope to see you there. Here’s the agenda. Please, come join us.

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Off Flavor Tasting

What a funny term: “off flavor.”

It’s commonly used in the beer industry to identify flavors that should not be present in a particular beer.

Odd name not withstanding, I was able to join an Off Flavor Tasting conducted at one of my local brewpubs by the brewer during American Craft Beer Week (May 16 – 22, 2016).

Brewer Larry & friend Sandi at the Off Flavor Class.

Brewer Larry & friend Sandi at the Off Flavor Class.

While I’ve been to a number of tasting specific events, I choose to keep attending when it fits to keep expanding my knowledge. Each instructor has a different style, different tactics and vocabulary and you meet new people every time. Knowledge isn’t just power – it’s fun!

We were given a control beer and then a succession of spiked beers. The spikes are liquids added in small amounts to mimic what the off flavor could taste like. In this case the brewer spiked it to 3 times threshold: three times what it would normally take to perceive this flavor. Making them very *ahem* obvious. Oof.

All the unhappy facial expressions aside (which goes with off flavor territory), it was definitely worth taking.

It was a fun hours worth of time learning, sipping, listening, tasting and expanding my brain to increase my knowledge of beer. I’d highly recommend you find and take classes about beer to keep your enthusiasm up and support bolstered.

By the way, I polished off the control beer at the end to relieve my palate. I’m thankful for brewers who make quality consistent beer, Kike Larry.

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2016 Oregon Chocolate Festival Recap: Beer & Chocolate &…

First of all, THANK YOU to all the super engaged and fun flavor loving guests at the very recent 12th annual Oregon Chocolate Festival, Ashland Hills, Ashland OR.The organizers moved it to a roomier venue – and in my opinion, with great success. Way more room and opportunity for everyone to fully get around

Elegant tasting-ready room at OCF 2016, Ashland Hills

Elegant tasting-ready room at OCF 2016, Ashland Hills

and mingle. The previous venue is now too small for this ever-growing destination event.

It marked my fifth year presenting at this yummy Theobroma cacao saturated festival. Each year I’ve given lively & tasty beer and chocolate tastings. We’ve gone from a room that’ll seat 30ish to a tent that seats 45/50ish to (now) a roomy room for 80+.

When people started coming in, 30 minutes before the sessions started, I knew we were in store for more incredible crowds of enthusiasts. I’m happy to report, every single person who was our guest at all three of the sessions was a pure pleasure to have in the room! I especially liked the multi generational families with offspring of varying ages.

With 22+ Friday night, 80 – 100+ Saturday afternoon, and 80 – 100 Sunday, it was a packed crazy good time had by all. Can’t wait to return next year! I’m always humbled by guests who return to my sessions on purpose – so a special thanks to them all.

Russ, Ginger & Stacy - revved up for the 2016 OCF

Russ, Ginger & Stacy – revved up for the 2016 OCF

The sessions ran smooth in large part thanks to my exceptional (not exaggerating here) crew, starting with my second in command for the weekend, Russ. He’s a service professional, kept it all going, gave directions to the hotel staff (who are always fantastic too!), and made my job easy. Hats off to my colleague and occasional assistant Stacy, equally competent, sharp and guest focused. The hotel staff & crew, management and security hired – all of them were smiling, helpful and fun to work in delicious harmony with and for.

So – what’d we have, you may be asking? Good question! Let me whet your whistle with the menus we served. I encourage you to try this at home:

Friday / Always a Classic: Beer + Chocolate Pairing & Tasting

  • Standing Stone* Chocolate Stout with chocolate gingerbread cookies & Dagoba** Lemonberry Zest chocolate.
  • Barleywine* with shortbread cocoa sticks with Xocolatl** fondue + red raisins
  • Milk & Honey* with Scharffen Berger Coconut Macadamia fudge

Saturday / Together Forever: Beer, Wine & Chocolate Tasting

  • Barleywine* + Weisingers Syrah with barleywine poached Bosc pears drizzled with unsweetened** fondue and Rogue Creamery Flora Nelle blue
  • Chocolate Beer* + Weisingers Sauvignon Blanc with citrus cookies and mandarin oranges

Sunday / Better All The Time: Beer, Chocolate & Cheese Tasting

  • Noble Stout* with more Coconut Macadamia fudge + Scharffen Berger sea salt pistachio fudge and unsweetened coconut shavings
  • Twin Plunge Double IPA* with Orange** chocolate, mandarin oranges, and rustic french bread crostini topped with Rogue Creamery Cacow Belle cheese & either lemon orange marmalade or cherry citrus jam
  • Milk & Honey* with Milk chocolate** and water crackers topped with soft chevre, dusted with Drinking chocolate powder**

Hungry yet?

Good.

I’ll post recipes tomorrow.

*Standing Stone Brewing Company beers

**Dagoba Organic Chocolates

 

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Beery Details for 2016 Vail Big Beers Cooking With Beer Seminar

Whew!

One thing I am grateful for is friends. Industry friends in particular are on my mind today, as I am developing my seminar at the 2016 Vail, CO Big Beers Belgians and Barleywines Festival.

It’s a huge treat to be invited to return and give another flavorful session to a packed room. Thanks to Laura, Bill and everyone who gets this tasty beast off the ground, year after year.

Ginger & John Holl at 2014 BBBB (yes!!)

Ginger & John Holl at 2014 BBBB (yes!!)

I love this festival for many reasons: well run, well done, well attended, super engaged guests, a slightly elevated (though not snobby) brand of attendee. My former WEB Captain Diane and I rocked the session out in 2014. Perhaps it was the aroma from the slow cooker of the Grown Up Pork & Beans I made in our hotel room…in any event, Vail – here I come again.

As alcohol regulations stipulate, interstate trade of beer has its own miasma to negotiate, including labeling. To that end, two of my three choices for breweries were ruled out this week. Damn! So I set about to scramble and replace.

It’s not fun to be asked – “Hey – I need a replacement for someone else, it’s short notice…can you help me?This is where relationships come full circle. I was able to call on two other industry frolleagues who were very quick to reply and say YES! Both of whom I’ve worked with before in beer, food & cooking events. They understand the rules of beer law and see the value in working together.

Today I’ve got it all dialed in, thanks to the help of all three generous breweries & folks. Here they are:

The Bruery, Placentia CA. Patrick’s beers and operation have long-held my taste buds at attention – the styles they brew really agree with me, are very refreshing, low alcohol many, and I’m very eager to develop my recipe and serve it with a fresh Bruery beer at the event.

New Holland Brewing, Holland MI. My friend Fred, aka The Beervangelist, stepped right up to the plate. He and I have done the Fred & Ginger show (literally!) at GABF and other events (SAVOR) as well as sharing a passion of the bigger picture of food, cooking and community. I’ll gladly be cooking with and serving one of their beers in Vail.

Are you coming?

Are you coming?

Allagash, Portland ME. Having featured Fluxus in 2014 at Vail, I was very happy they replied so quickly to my request to again be one of my partner beers. And deliciously so! Allagash is an absolute go-to brand for me – my husband even packed 3 (4) packs home with him earlier this year when he was in Portland. Good man. Great beer. Thrilled to have them return to the line up for my event.

A BIG shout of thanks to the two who won’t be served (this time):  Jared Long, Brewer & my brother in beer, Altitude Chophouse & Brewery, Laramie, WY & Larry Chase, Brewer & My Fine Husband, Standing Stone Brewing Company, Ashland OR.

So – support your local brewer? Heck Yea I do!! Local casts as wide a net as you wish your neighborhood to be. The globe is my neighborhood and I’m sending cheers to these neighbors today.

See you in Vail ~

p.s. the skiing is snowtastic too!

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Holiday Gift Ideas

Good Grief, Charlie Brown!! It’s the giving season again….

And where ever and however quickly it came from (seriously, only 300+ days ago??), tis the season. While I give the gift of books in particular year round, I want to share a few favorites with you today for beer & flavor lovers everywhere.

Books:

yum yum yum...Beer Pairing, by Julia & Gwen

yum yum yum…Beer Pairing, by Julia & Gwen

Beer Pairing, The Essential Guide From The Pairing Pros, Julia Herz & Gwen Conley *just* released  (2015 Voyageur Press). I’ll have Julia sign my book when next I see this dynamo of the beer gospel. Both she and Gwen have cut a smart swath to helping people enjoy beer. It’s a comprehensive book on what, why, when, how and why not of beer and food pairing. A great read and flavorfully inspiring, once you buy one for yourself get a few for others.

Cheese & Beer, Janet Fletcher (2013 Andrews McMeel Publishing). Janet’s written a few dozen books on food – cheese being her forte and oh-so-deliciously so! Others include Cheese & Wine, The Cheese Course, Yogurt (a personal fav go-to), and Four Seasons Pasta. All dandy and mouthwateringly fun and functional. Her writing style and the information she gives us is timeless and well rounded by smarts and broad world view.

Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer, Maureen Ogle. Maureen is an historian and was inspired to write about beer upon wondering what her next book was – and at that moment having a Budweiser truck cross her path while driving. Inspiration struck and she’s tells the story starting in the 1880’s to modern times. Great read like many with herstorian context: you learn way more about way more than you think.

The American Craft Beer Cookbook, John Holl (Storey Publishing 2013). John’s an accomplished journalist and definite flavor lover. I’ve had the pleasure of sharing many beers with him as well as having hosted a book signing party when the book came out. He’s collected recipes with beer in them and paired with beers from brewpubs across this fine country. With sidebar stories and additional beer suggestions included, this book is a winner winner beer for dinner.

Beyond books, I’d invite you to find a few Women Enjoying Beer & Men Enjoying Women Enjoying Beer goods on our shopping page. Since we’ve exited a very successful festival circuit run, we’ve got a few goodies remaining looking for great homes. Be ahead of the curve as they may be collectors items soon!

Your Local Brewery

SSBC Gift Six pack

SSBC Gift Six pack

Our local breweries need our business. They pump ridiculous amounts of effort & money into our local economies, all the way up to the federal level (ask them about excise taxes, for example). Visit them all, as you can and see fit. Ask them questions, listen, share, buy and support. One of my locals, Standing Stone Brewing Company, sells Brewer For The Day packages as well as the holiday Gift Six Pack. Order a keg in advance to help celebrate in tasty fashion, give the gift of lovely glassware.

Homebrewing

Home brewing abounds in America! It’s a fabulous opportunity to learn to cook a whole new recipe: Beer. Locate your local shops and go to a demo, hang out with the local clubs, and start making your own. Like food cooks, many professional “beer cooks” start by homebrewing. The American Homebrewers Association is a super place to start.

Whatever you do, give the gift of flavor this season – and year round. Start with flavor first, experiment, try, share and repeat. Beer changes as does everything else in life so pour it on.

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Great Flavor Partners, Beer & Chocolate

People file in…anticipating flavor and fun…they’re happily satisfied.

So went our annual Beer & Chocolate Tasting sessions at the recently concluded 10th Annual Oregon Chocolate Festival. The whip sharp and inspiring Karolina of Ashland Springs Hotel (Neuman Hotel Group) started the festival 10 years ago to create a shoulder season event for residents and visitors alike. Suffice it to say: it’s been a big success.

Ashland is home to 23K+ permanent residents, a few thousand University students and innumerable visitors every year. A festival of this caliber is a pleasure to be a part of – Karolina and her fantastic assistant Paula along with the entire crew (Gina, Charlie, Gigi, and dozens more staff) are a joy to collaborate with.

Find a local beer class - and take it!

Find a local beer class – and take it!

When I approached Karolina 3+ years ago to inquire about adding their first ever beer and chocolate session, she was ready to embrace it – new, interesting, and attractive to the hundreds of guests that visit the fest. Some of them year after year after year, from far and near.

I love teaching. The lightbulb moments, the opportunity to open minds and pleasing palates, the myriad people you meet and the comfortable and accommodating setting are all reasons the love continues. Teaching in an ideal setting helps make it the best it can be for the guests too, never mind the presenters (!).

Get out and support your local festivals. Attend as a paying guest, volunteer to help, and spread the word.

Here are the menus for the 2 sessions we gave this year. Hope to see you in class next year!

Great Flavor Partners: Beer & Chocolate

Saturday

  1. Milk and Honey Ale with Roseberry
  2. Twin Plunge IPA with Lavender Blueberry
  3. Humboldt Fog
  4. Hop Night Cascadian Dark with Mint

Sunday

  1. Steel Cut Stout with classic Dark
  2. Noble Stout with New Moon
  3. Truffle Tremor
  4. Milk and Honey with Eclipse
  5. BONUS: award-winning Amber (with whatever was remaining!)

A great time was had by all – thanks to all the guests, new and returning. Cheers til next time –

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Cheers to 5 Years of WEB

Last week found a group of revelers and flavor lovers celebrating our 5th Anniversary. I choose one of our local brewpubs for the host location, a cozy room was full of fine folks, and a good time was had by all.

To review:

Women Enjoying Beer is the only company on the planet that specializes in studying women and their relationship with beer. We conduct qualitative research with women, educate both consumers and professionals based on that research and offer business and marketing services for professionals who want to authentically and successful attract the female consumer and buyer.

The brewer leading our beer flight at WEB's 5th Anniversary party

The brewer leading our beer flight at WEB’s 5th Anniversary party

While beer is our specialty category, the information we gather crosses category lines. Once someone shares how they make decisions (qualitative data) and all that surrounds those decisions, then you can affect change. To know the stats (quantitative) is not enough nor is it fully telling of the story.

I think of quantitative information as the bones of a skeleton. The qualitative information is the tissue and muscles, which move the body forward. It makes everything possible. A skeleton without tissue is not very useful.

Thank you to everyone who joined the celebration. We gathered for a pre-program beer, chatted and met new folks, then moved into the evenings agenda. The brewer of the brewpub was on hand to share and educate about the flight that was included. Once he was finished, I shared a talk about beer’s 10K years of herstory til now, in a very abbreviated fashion.

In the spirit of the season and reason for gathering, everyone received a goodie bag as well as kept their initial beer glass. New friendships were made, delicious flavors were had by all and the group wandered home happy.

Thanks to them and all of you as we head into year 6. Cheers to a very tasty, peaceful and fun New Year ~

Beer Menu:

Wild Trail Ale, I Love Oregon Ale, Victory Lager, Amber Ale, Twin Plunge IPA, Steel Cut Oatmeal Stout, Noble (coffee) Stout, Malbec barrel aged Barleywine.

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Beer & Wine: Together Forever Workshop

I’ve been loving putting the ‘and’ where it belongs between beer and wine with tastings that feature both of these wonderful libations this year.

Beer & Wine: Together Forever workshop 11.10.13 - awaiting guests!

Beer & Wine: Together Forever workshop 11.10.13 – awaiting guests!

Last Sunday found us at it with a room full of guests ready to sip-in. The Ashland Culinary Festival takes place the first weekend of November in Ashland OR. In 2012 I lead two flavor oriented beer education sessions – this year we included wine.

Why?

Because flavor is where you find it. Beer, wine, spirits, mead, cider, perry, sour cream, tofu, whatever. It’s not the “what” that’s ever as important as the “why” behind what we try. To be diplomatic and share your affinity for whatever it is forward with tact and enthusiasm is tantamount to developing more ‘and’ connection, less ‘vs.’, ‘or’, and ‘but’.

And who ever said you have to pick either beer or wine?!? No one. It’s just unhelpful conjecture and our own roadblocks that we put up.

Knowing more about anything includes investigating the ‘why’ – the Why is what drives our decision-making processes and it’s loaded with helpful insight into ourselves and those around us.

Our friends at Weisinger’s Winery was our host location and contributed the wines. Local brewery Standing Stone Brewing Company provided the fresh tasty beer. David Schultz of Sysco generously sponsored the entire event and provided lovely accompanying food nibbles.

When I started the session, there were at least two great guests who said they “weren’t beer drinkers.” By the time they walked out, smiling broadly, they both happily claimed they were. Still in the learning stage to be sure and supported by the entire room, it’s important to note that an open mind is key. 

Cheers to beer and Cheers to wine! Here’s the menu we savored.

  • Beer: Wild Trail Ale brewed with Yarrow and St. John’s Wort with the Beers Made By Walking collaboration.
  • Wine: 2010 Petite Blanc, blend of Viognier, Chardonney, and Gewurtztraminer
  • Beer: Vienna-style Victory Lager
  • Wine: Lot 20 Mescolare, proprietary blend of Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc
  • Beer: Steel-Cut Stout
  • Wine: 2010 Estate Tempranillo
  • Foods: Sysco lightly seasoned wafer crackers, Monterey Jack & Cheddar Cheeses, 3 varieties of fresh pears, dark chocolate disks.

Go ahead. Have a beer AND wine tasting party. It’s easy, simple, and fun.

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Beer Writer John Holl To Visit Southern Oregon

I’m thrilled to announce that John Holl, accomplished beer writer, author, colleague and friend is coming to Southern Oregon to do some book events around his latest release – The American Craft Beer Cookbook.

Join us for a Cookbook signing with John Holl

Join us for a Cookbook signing with John Holl

John’s great fun to be with, is an educated professional beer community member and travels about sharing, teaching, judging and overall encouraging the enjoyment of beer, delicious beer.

Here’s the mash for Monday 16 September 2013:

  • 2 Public events in Ashland – one at Standing Stone Brewing Company and one at a local bookstore.
  • Private event: We’re hosting John at our home for a fun, tasty and casual house book party!!! If you are or plan to be in the area and would like to join us, call me directly. It’ll be in the evening and he’ll be available to chat, buy and sign books and have a great time. I’ll make a few of the recipes in the book for guests to nosh on, My Fine Husband will serve fresh beer.

Anytime we can help support colleagues and friends doing things that are good for the entire community, we’re ready to do so.

Cheers to John, cheers to good books, cooking, beer, and a tasty time for all.

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Beer & Chocolate: Oregon Chocolate Festival 2013

Mmmmmmmmm. Ooooooooooo! Ahhhhhh!

Sounds that emanated from the Ashland Springs Hotel Grand Ballroom, Conservatory, and Crystal room were harmoniously happy with the offerings at the 9th annual Oregon Chocolate Festival this past weekend.

Glasses and plates up to Karolina of the Springs who started this event 9 years ago. Cassie, Danielle, Jacob, and all the rest of the crew put forth a great and effective effort to show guests a lovely time. Several community partners helped enhance the event as well. Here’s the link to the fest.

beer and chocolate

beer and chocolate

We had the pleasure of providing edutainment both Saturday and Sunday: Beer & Chocolate tastings and pairings. We traveled through the tastings enhanced with great questions asked by the guests. Thanks to everyone who joined us! T’was fun to see some familiar faces return as well. Hope to see you all again next year at the fest.

As promised and is our habit to share, here are the two workshop menus. All beers generously provided by Standing Stone Brewing Company, Ashland OR.

Saturday 3.3.13

  • SSBC I Love Oregon Ale with Dagoba Lemon Ginger Chocolate
  • 2013 Chocolate Festival SSBC Chocolate Ale with Dagoba Xocolatl
  • SSBC Oatmeal Stout with Dagoba Chai Chocolate
  • SSBC Barleywine with Dagoba Roseberry Chocolate

Sunday 3.4.13

  • 2013 Chocolate Festival SSBC Chocolate Ale with Lillie Belle Perfect Illusion Chocolate
  • SSBC Oatmeal Stout with Lillie Belle Stella Blue Chocolate
  • SSBC Barleywine with Lillie Belle Purple Haze Chocolate

Thanks much to Dagoba Chocolates and Lillie Belle Handmade Chocolates for letting us feature their yummy wares.

We also mentioned a few references for learning more about beer:

In the meantime, until next year, call on Women Enjoying Beer for your own events. We’re available to hire to edutain and enjoy “beer and…” whatever you may have in mind.

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Beer Workshops Enhance Culinary Festivals

What a flavorful time! Last weekend we conducted workshops focused on beer at a local culinary festival. It’s a terrific opportunity to bring beer to life and we poured it on.

What makes workshops a success?

1. Guests. When sign up is optional and you have to pay for it, buy in is more proactive. We had the pleasure of having some repeat guests Sunday that has also attended the workshop Saturday. All the guests, one time or repeat, were engaged, curious and fun loving.

2. Host. The host and sponsor, Standing Stone Brewing Company, was gracious and accommodating. Rachel, Events Coordinator, is always a pleasure to work with and the side room where we had the events is cozy and bright.

3. Menu. Beer on Saturday, Beer and Food on Sunday. The brewer at SSBC is highly focused on cleanliness and sanitation, leading to delicious quality beer. The paired foods matched nicely from the brewpub kitchen and we’re nicely presented.

The local Chamber is the organizing body and they did a thorough job of taking care of reservations, fees, advertising, marketing and the actual Festival location and logistics. Kelsey, our primary contact, was on top of details, checked in a few times during the fest, followed up on the workshops and was easily available from the beginning conversation to the end of the event. This is key: have someone who has experience do the organizing.

Here are the menus we enjoyed:

  •     Mmmmm! Ahhhhh! Learning to Smell & Taste Your Beer Saturday 11/3/12: Wildcraft (special batch), Galaxy (seasonal), Double India Pale Ale/IPA (house), and Stout (house)
  •     What A Pair! Learning to Pair Beer & Food Together Sunday 11/4/12:
  •     Double IPA with Crater Lake Blue Cheese, fresh red pears, and light vinegar base purple coleslaw
  •     Oktoberfest (seasonal) and Amber (house) with Bratwurst and braised vegetables
  •     I Love Oregon (house) with New England Clam Chowder
  •     Wildcraft Ale with Stir Crazy chocolate cake, whipped cream and drizzle

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SAVORING Oregon Beer & Cheese

If you were able to attend SAVOR last weekend, you’d know it was a tastebud heaven focused on American beer & matching foods. Delicious is what we’d call it!

Happy and accomplished brewers Larry of Standing Stone (l) and Matt of Oakshire(r) at SAVOR Salon 2012

Ginger had the pleasure of moderating a few Salons, added value special sessions, Friday night. As promised to the crowd, here’s the menu of the early session Friday June 8th.

Perfect opportunity to keep the elevation of beer moving forward. Ideal flavor exploration opportunity. Stunning setting (National Building Museum).

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Beer & Cheese, Beer & Cheese, Beer & Cheese!

At the recent 8th Annual Oregon Cheese Festival, we had the pleasure to conduct the inaugural Beer & Cheese pairing session. Our friends at the Rogue Creamery (event hosts) were gracious, had everything together and the events was sold out – SRO even! Proof positive that festivals and events should offer fun educational sessions for the guests and attendees.

A BIG THANK YOU to Tom, Tasha, David, Carey, Anna, Francis, and the whole crew of Rogue Creamery for putting on such a well run and well received festival. Seriously – it’s one of our favorites because it goes sooooo smoothly.  And it’s very well attended because of that – the guests have a great time, which also makes it a good investment for us as well.

Sue & Larry, great helpers, prep the cheese

The audience in the cozy room were engaged, polite and had some terrific questions about beer specifically. A bonus for me as the leader of the session was that friend and colleague Matt Van Wyk, brewer of Oakshire Brewing, was also in attendance.

I’m one of those people who always welcomes anyone in the room – most especially the folks who are directly tied to the going-ons. Matt supplied 2 of the 4 beers I chose to pair for the session. He was gracious, fun and chimed in & answered questions with thoroughness and tact. I know the guests enjoyed having a brewer in the mix as well, particularly one that could speak to the beers in front of us.

The other brewer was in fact at the festival, as their brewery booth, enlightening more folks about beer – Larry Chase, Standing Stone.

Matt Van Wyk and other guests at the tasting

Since we rarely hand out paper programs that people have to then schlep around or toss or recycle, we always post menus on our site following an event. As promised, here’s the tasty line up we used to edutain and converse about.

The line up was a great cross-section of beers and foods to pair. The best ingredient of the tasting: The People. We’re already excited to get back to it next year.

As requested, we’ll cover why beer and cheese do in fact pair so nicely later this week. Thanks to Australian guest Mashka for asking. Stay tuned!

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“Green Beers” Menu

As a matter of course for WEB, below is the menu we served at the monthly meet-up we host. Women only, education based, highly social and fun, taken care of by hospitable host location partners.

We choose “Green Beers” ala sustainability. It’s the perfect time to not tint any beer food coloring green and to highlight the members of the brewing community that exercise Earth friendly practices. Our host, Standing Stone Brewing, has been recognized as a very green brewpub so it was an easy choice for us to return.

The beers are clean, solid and they brew house beers as well as seasonals. In fact, we even had the last of their barleywine, which had been covertly stashed for the occasion!

Enjoy other green beers, wherever you may be – by supporting your local brewer who is also supporting Mother Earth. Cheers ~

  • SSBC Amber with extra crispy garlic fries.
  • SSBC Barleywine with bleu cheese and candied walnuts
  • SSBC Double IPA with corn chips topped with humus and chili oil drizzle
  • SSBC Noble Stout with classic chocolate cake

 

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An Impromptu Meeting of the Beer Minds

Tonya (center), Larry (right) and Todd (left) all taste some beers

Check it out: Three brewers, informally together, tasting beer.

It’s a lovely site to behold and happily so relatively commonplace. This picture was from a recent trip to Bend, Oregon – home of numerous breweries.

Tonya’s leading Larry of Standing Stone Brewing Company (r) and Todd of Caldera Brewing (l). Tonya is the award winning and very sharp and fun brewer of Bend Brewing Company.

All the beers tried in the brew house were on target per style according to the three assembled here. Kudos to the craft brewing community in all of our communities.

Support your local brewers!

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Beautiful Beer Deserves Beautiful Photos

A big hearty thanks to George for these incredible, lovely, delicious photos. Check them out here.

p1030147They’re from one of several educational employee sessions WEB partnered with at Standing Stone Brewing Company. Alex and Danielle run a good ship and realize that constancy to purpose with reinforcement and refreshment is critical to continued success and growth. Throw in happiness and satisfaction factor and you’ve got a no fail. What a great crew.

George, next time I’m in Ashland, beers on me – and bring that fabulous wife of yours too.

(I understand he plays a mean guitar as well….)

Good beer, good people good business, good music.

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