Friday, January 28, 2011
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
My name is Aaron Brown and Josh has asked me to contribute to his blog. Josh loves wine, as you know. But dare I say his first love was beer. These are two subjects that are often held in contrast. Each has their diehard adherents, each has its charms, quirks, traditions and insanities. However you feel, whichever was your first love, no matter. Disagree where they do, one thing that is for sure is that writing about both of these ancient drinks is too large a task for one man. Somebody trying to write with the same quality as Josh does about both beer and wine is bound to do both a disservice.
You already know Josh but here is a little about how Josh and I know each other. We originally met in high school. We hung out in the same circles and have dozens of mutual friends. I finished high school, left Ontario and went to Halifax for university. One day during my third year in Halifax, Josh and I spied each other behind the King’s College rez buildings. This was an absolutely mindblowing chance meeting and we immediately reconnected.
The following year we were roommates. Josh’s knowledge of homebrewing and winemaking were fascinating to me. The fact that he worked for The Noble Grape (an excellent supply shop for wine and beer equipment) was an even bigger boost to my newfound hobby. It had a location behind our house and this made it especially easy to brew up batches.
Josh is to blame, directly or indirectly, for most of the dollars I’ve spent spent on beer since somtime in 2007. Once you get a taste for the good stuff there is no going back. One thing I loved about Josh was that he was willing to teach and debate but he never nominated himself as the final authority. He was happy to hear my thoughts and opinions as I learned and my interests developed. Almost immediately the brewing was a joint responsibility. He was not going to pull the load on his own to brew for 4 thirsty university students(and their friends).
He was willing to give pointers but once he got me comfortable brewing it was all on me to develop recipes and do the dirty work. Partly, this was a case of fairness. Why should he do all he work? But I suspect that this was his way of letting me learn on my own and become my own beer geek. It’s no fun unless you can argue sometimes. Josh and I both enjoy a good argument, though I prefer having them face-to-face rather than online. Call me old fashioned.
So there is my relationship with Josh in a nutshell. I’m sure some more stories will come out of the nutshell as the blog goes on ;)
Now, here is a little about what to expect in the beer posts:
• Tasting notes – I will be digging out some old notebooks from my travels & adding pictures where possible. It will be fun to see what I think now, looking back on those beers.
• Travel notes and stories related to beer. I have been lucky to travel. And as a beer lover you are lucky that beer offers you so many excuses to travel and drink good stuff while you do so. I love to drink amazing things and to see amazing things and I will be sharing some of my adventures with you.
• Beer history, beer stories, tall tales etc. I am not the be-all end-all authority on beer styles and beer history but I like to cut through the crap where it exists and celebrate the mysteries of
beer’s history where it ought to be.
• I won’t be writing about beer news so much unless it is truly significant and I have access to the relevant product. What the US micros are up to is really cool but I don’t keep my finger on that pulse so much because many of the beers are unavailable to me. I will try to talk about beer I have actually drank. Lots of Canadian beer and whatever decent foreign stuff I can get hold of. I am lucky to live 4 blocks from the best beer bar in over an hour's drive. So that helps.
• Occasionally I will do some interviews or coverage of beer events (ie. Tasting events). In fact, I am going to one tomorrow from Muskoka Cottage Brewery
If you’d like, follow me on Twitter where I say whatever I feel like with no guiding theme or control >> @aaron_j_brown
Or visit my *ahem* ‘personal brand’ website if you want to hear me write like you might want to hire me. It's actually kinda cool. Come on now!
ok, i'm done. Cheers, people :)
Friday, January 21, 2011
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Sunday, January 9, 2011
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
The Wynns will have to wait. Although I know next to nothing about scotch I have a plethora of reference books related to wine, and I’m sure within the pages of one of those books is at least a short, if admittedly modest, paragraph on scotch…
I have managed to find some information that I may pass along. I’ve often thought that single malt scotch, that is to say single malt whiskey that is produced in Scotland, meant either that there was only one type of malt used and or the bottle contained only one specific batch of whiskey. As it turns out, as a great surprise to me, single malt refers to the distillery(ies) in which the whiskey was made, not to the batch or the malt used. Single malt means that one and only one distillery was responsible for the production of the whiskey, it may have been blended but only with other batches that the same distillery produced.
It seems that in the days gone by and in the days of present there were and are distilleries that specialize(d) in producing specific flavours in a whiskey. Different whiskeys from various distilleries, each with their distinct characteristics, can then be blended together to make a whiskey that is greater than the sum of its parts, this is what is called a blended whiskey.
The scotch that I am enjoying in lieu of the Wynns red wine is a single malt scotch, with a nice smoky character – something which is common amongst scotch whiskey. More on where the smoky character comes from in weeks to come, but for now, I present to you…
Notes: A tasty scotch that has nice flavours of smoke, caramel, cedar, and BBQ spices. It's fairly smooth and enjoyable to drink, for $40 I would buy this again.
Sunday, January 2, 2011
With apologies dealt with I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year, I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday season as much as I did. I'm sure most of us managed to pack on a few extra pounds, decrease our livers' life span by a few weeks and plunge ourselves a little further into debt, but it's worth it. There is no other time where we get to mix relaxing, celebration and stress in a bizarre cocktail of booze and food induced exhaustion. People have been celebrating or mourning in this fashion for millennia. China set the drunken precedent about 10 000 years ago if not more. The funerary rites were such that the next of kin to the deceased would fast for 7 days, on the 7th day the deceased was buried and the next of kin would would eat and drink for the two of them, this would encourage a meeting of the two so the next of kin could pass on messages to loved ones.*
Admittedly funerals and Christmas are on the opposite end of human emotion but ceremonies between celebration and mourning are much the same; we eat and drink to mask the pain or bring forth the excitement. I'm sure the early Chinese mourners were conducting themselves much in the same way during times of celebration.
Drinking and eating to excess dates back to the origins of civilization, people were busy concerning themselves with how to get drunk before they had figured out how to farm, one theory I have heard even suggests the reason humans went from nomadic to agriculture based societies is so they would have a steady supply of grains, not to make bread as many believe but to make beer.** So if you are feeling a little guilty about over indulging remember it's what humans do, we've been doing it since time immemorial, just remember not to celebrate every day.
Here is one of the wines I celebrated with over the Holidays...
Producer: Oyster Bay
Wine: Sauvignon Blanc
Region: Marlborough, New Zealand
Grape: Sauvignon Blanc
Notes: Beautiful and powerful aroma displays green apple, grass, citrus, gooseberry, and cat pee(a good thing in sauv blanc). Flavours are much the same, hopefully no one would describe its flavours as cat pee-esque, there is some nice pear flavour too it as well. This wine is Awesome and I highly recommend trying it as a great example of a New Zealand Sauv Blanc.
*This little tidbit of information came from Patrick E. Mcgrovern's book Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcoholic Beverages.
**This theory was presented to me by a prof. I had in university, it was probably 1 of 2 interesting things I learned in that class.