California Pilgrimage: Genesis (Bj’s Restaurant and Brewhouse)

(The California Pilgrimage is my one month journey around California encompassing various activities but overall, these posts will be about beer. This title is directly from the first episode of Michael Jackson’s old show called The Beer Hunter. A True Beer Geek must know about Michael Jackson. If you don’t, you’re either a poser or someone who is starting out the journey through the Elixir of Life. I hope you are the latter.)

Day one, May 24, 2015

Genesis… The beginning… It is the first book of the Judeo-Christian religions referring to the origin story according to this culture and religion. It is, in some ways, my Genesis into Craft Beer. I have been crazy about the drink for the last five years yet I haven’t been able to visit the American Breweries I know and love. To that end, I was able to visit three breweries during this visit. This was quite low for my preferences but NorCal (I was mostly based in San Francisco and the Bay Area during this visit) has so much to provide. It is my type of place and I can’t wait to go back. Nevertheless, this day was a great start.

I arrived at SFO (San Francisco International Airport) around 4 PM with my grandparents (who are the best grandparents one can have). The view was cloudy and grey, a sharp contrast to the warm, bright and sunny palette that I was exposed to the past few months. I was ecstatic after bearing a fourteen hour flight in economy class plus the hour long wait at immigration. I arrived at my aunt’s house around 6:30 PM with this beautiful view of the Western Conference Finals Game (anything in a 72 inch screen is beautiful).

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72 Inches is Bliss

Prior to leaving for San Francisco, I messaged my good high school friend Aaron on my trip to the Bay Area. We agreed to see each other when I arrived but I didn’t expect to see him a few hours into my trip. He saw my uploaded photo of the TV on my Facebook feed and he surprised me by arriving at the driveway fifteen minutes later. It has been more than a year since I last saw him when he and his wife visited Manila. Seeing him just sent bolts of energy around my body and I couldn’t help but run and hug the mofo. After talking to him for a few minutes, I asked permission from my relatives if I could spend the night with them. Luckily, I have very understanding relatives.

Due to my incessant demand for beer (I was in California, it’s beer country), Aaron and Sarah brought me to Bj’s Restaurant Brewhouse at San Bruno.

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Beer and Sight Seeing in Iligan City

Good day fellow beer lovers!

Some of the Beers for the Night

It’s been a real long time since I’ve written a blog post. I am sorry for not putting out content far longer than I have written for this blog but I hope to put out content again soon. Anyway, it’s time to focus on new content rather than dwell on my long hiatus.

A few months ago, I was in Iligan City for work and I happened to be able to contact Pauly del Rosario of Fat Pauly’s Handcrafted Ales and Lagers since he’s based there. What started out as a simple hangout was turned into a nice beer tasting session with him, his then fiancee now wife and his friends.

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Beerman’s Craft Beer and Food Pairing Dinner

Last March 21, 2014 was a special day for me. It was the first time that  I hosted a beer and food pairing dinner for a group beyond my friends and family. It was a project 2 years in the making due to the request of my former Atenean professor for his class.

Further on, why did he request a Beer and Food Pairing dinner for his class? His class is about culture and the senses. I was a former student in his class and we both thought it was a great addition to the course. After the long process of trying to make it work, it finally happened.

With the participation of Barley Gastropub and Fat Pauly’s Handcraft Ales and Lagers, the five course dinner was set for eight people.

The menu was designed by Chef Justin of Barley Gastropub with the beer selection picked by yours truly.

Let’s now move on to the actual dinner.

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Black Beer Onion Rings with Squid Ink Paired with Iligan Pale Ale

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Beer Skill 101: Tasting Beer

Hello fellow beer lovers,

A Freshly Poured Delirium Tremens
A Freshly Poured Delirium Tremens

Beer is a drink that spans hundreds of styles and various ingredients. Thus, tasting beer is a great skill to have if you are a beginning beer enthusiast. It is obvious to everyone that there is a huge difference between a brew such as Cerveza Negra and a Pale Pilsen. The problem is, how do you prove it?

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Books Bites Brews Craft Beer and Food Pairing Dinner

I would love to toast to the success of Books Bites and Brews first Craft Beer and Food Pairing dinner last Saturday. It was one of the first attempts at seriously providing people an avenue to the world of beer. With that in mind, I documented my experience that night for your viewing pleasure.

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The Beer Burger: Beerman “Cooks”

Good day fellow beer lovers. It’s been a while since I last wrote and the amount of material that I have to write is quite a lot for the next few days. First off, I went to the Omakase Degustation at Sensei Sushi for my friend’s birthday and it was great. I had paired beers with the dishes that night but the amount of writing involved is immense. That will happen next week since I was too focused on eating rather than documenting it. For a good background of the dinner, check out my cousin, Mikka Wee, write about the dinner on her blog at: http://mikkawee.com/2014/01/28/sensei-sushi-degustation/

Moving on, I wanted to write about my favorite things to do with beer, using it as an ingredient for dishes. People love using beer as an ingredient for dishes such as fish and chips where beer is added to the batter. That’s cool. I like the idea but the concept of using beer for cooking is a fairly complicated procedure. Using the ever available San Miguel beer is a great start to cooking with beer but I’d rather use one of my favorite beers around, Kapuziner’s Hefeweizen (German Wheat Beer).

Excuse me for word salad. I guess you guys want me to go straight to the point. Well here it is,

The Beer Burger with the Beer

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Suds and Grub! Oreo Edition!

Good day fellow beer lovers!

I remember a month ago during the holidays when I was in Davao. Now, Davao is a great city. It’s a great place to live since nature is around you and the people are warm and very relaxed. The problem with Davao is the beer selection. With that problem, I was forced to think of solutions to satiate my hunger for  suds while also having some great grub to pair it with.

Nonetheless, I didn’t get to fully satiate my hunger and thirst for a great pairing but I returned to the foundation where I found beer and food pairing to be one of my passions in life. It is the simple Oreo cookie and Cerveza Negra!

Oreos!

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What is Beer?

To ask the question is a question on the essence of it.

“What makes a beer? How does it become a beer?”

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These questions can be hard or easy to answer.   Usual answers are that it’s a yellow liquid that has alcohol. It’s great with bar food. We can say that the beer is made from water, barley and hops. Both of these questions are right. The only problem with these answers is that they do not sufficiently answer the question:

“What makes a beer?”

Why should we take into consideration the what, how and why of it?!?!?

It’s a drink to get us drunk!

Rocktoberfest

It’s easy to perceive the most common form of liquid courage as means to an end to most people. For me, beer is more than just that. According to the famed beer writer Randy Mosher, it is the world’s greatest drink.

A beer is a liquid that uses the basic ingredients of water, barley and hops. I think it’s obvious to all of us that these are the basic ingredients of beer.

The Basic Ingredients of Beer

Although it might seem so easy to define that, there are various styles of beer that do not use barley and hops.

In Peru, beer is made out of corn. The name for this beer is chicha. This beer is made from corn and is flavored with various herbs. In essence, our basic understanding of beer is different from chicha. It might be hard to understand but it lies beneath the process of how a beer becomes a beer.

How does a beer become a beer?

The basic understanding of beer is that it has alcohol. To become a beer, a beverage must be fermented with yeast that consumes the sugar of the ingredients. By consuming the sugar, the yeast converts the sugars into alcohol. This is the basic formula for an alcoholic beverage but this is still not a beer.  This is how you make wine.

Why is it a beer?

To make a beer, a beer must be brewed before it is fermented. Brewing is the process of milling, mashing and steeping the beer. Basically, this is the process that makes beer different from wine.

The function of brewing is to convert the starch found from the starch ingredient (commonly barley) to sugar. Beer differs from wine in its process because wine is made through the direct fermentation of the sugars of the ingredient (mainly grapes) without the need for brewing. The sugar of the fruit is already ready for the yeast to feast on!

With the introduction of fermentation through the yeast, it imbues upon unfermented liquid its magical ingredient of alcohol. The yeast needs sugar, not starch, as its energy source in order to convert the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide (the reason why beer is bubbly!).

It sounds easy right? Well, if you watch how wine is made, brewing is probably more difficult than that. Making beer requires several skills that resemble baking. It is an art and a science. Brewing not only involves the processes of milling, mashing and steeping. Within the brewing process, the brewmaster decides the recipe for the beer, the brewing time, the fermentation temperatures, the yeast, the hops to be used, the packaging and so much more.

Beer could probably be the most complex drink to make in the world. Its history, its influence and its culture involve millenniums of interesting facts and trivia.

With that in mind, the next time you try out a bottle, a pint or even a keg; think about what is the beer that you are drinking?

*Here is a video of the beer brewing process if you want to know a little bit more on how beer is made http://www.youtube.com/watch?

v=Ycnwc5vPaAo

*If you are interested in Chicha, here is a link of the clip from Brewmasters, a show from Discovery channel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fcf8WUB33hg

Photo sources:
http://www.cargillfoods.com/wcm/groups/public/@cseg/@food/documents/image/na3068874.jpg
Other photos are from my personal collection.