Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Check out the new skin of the Jax Brew Bitch

Hello! ... as you may already be aware, I have revamped my website (www.jaxbrewbitch.com). I did this because my original site was based upon a Flash template and could not be accessed by many mobile devices. With the ever-growing demand for more mobile-device-friendly content, now was the time to do it.

As time allows, I am going to migrate all the older entries of this blog over to the "Blog" section of the new website - recently, I have been posting my latest article to both blogs for those of you who are used to this one. To be more time efficient (one of my personal New Years Resolutions), once I get all the content migrated to the new site, I will be closing this blog.

On my new website (www.jaxbrewbitch.com), you can sign up for a Newsletter I am starting named "Hypnotic Hop" which will feature upcoming events, specials from our Brews & Chews Community businesses, contests and swag.

Click "Calendar" and on that page you can mouse-over and click any entry to learn more about that event. Also, in the right column is a running list of "UPCOMING EVENTS"  by date. There's a bunch of info on there - and I hope it will help you decide what to do when you get out and about!

By making this transition to a new website format, I can spend more fruitful time getting the word out for all of us who love craft beer - and good food - and great service.

So when you can, please check out my new website (www.jaxbrewbitch.com) - as always, I appreciate you taking time out of your day to read my blog and follow me in the Social Networking venues - the fact you do means a great deal to me - and I look forward to seeing you enjoying what our great community has to offer during my future Jax Brew Bitch Prowls!

Most Sincerely,

Regina
Jax Brew Bitch
www.jaxbrewbitch.com
regina@jaxbrewbitch.com

Thursday, January 24, 2013

“Jax Brew Bitch Buys Beer”

Who is “Rachael”? … actually, I don't know – that's why I asked … I see her all over my “neck of the woods” here in Jacksonville – her name, that is.  However, I really don't know much about her at all – but I DO know one thing for darn sure – she “Buys Houses”. The handwritten signs are strategically planted at intersections all over my part of town announcing “Rachael Buys Houses” with a phone number.

Hey Rachel! I got a house to sell ya ...
I have been wondering about the identity of “Rachael” for the past few weeks and yesterday, I realized I had grown to admire the signs – SINCE THEY WORK! … I think about them now without even driving by them. Simple and effective in their message – those wishing to rid themselves of a house have a direct and efficient way to try at least – with “Rachael”.

There is NO doubt “Rachael” solicits information from those contacting her about where they heard about her. You can bet your bottom dollar on this – that if the signs were NOT effective, they would no longer be around.

Why do I bring this up in my beer blog? … because ownership and management of brews and chews establishments around the Greater Jacksonville area SHOULD be soliciting information from their customers about what brought them in.

And WE, as customers loyal to the Brews and Chews scene in our community should provide feedback about what brought us in – print advertising, TV, radio or blogger post or announcement (*blush*).

We should provide this information even if we are not asked. Why? .. because whatever forum a business owner chooses to employ to get the word out about themselves or upcoming events and specials will cost them some amount of money – except for the blogger, of course..

Our purveyors need the feedback so that they have an idea of the effectiveness of their decisions  on venues. Jacksonvillians  don't want the owners wasting money needlessly which could be better spent improving their businesses and beer selections – especially in this economy.

It is my hope is that when you visit an establishment due to some print, TV or radio advertising, some particular review website or blogger that you will take the time and make the effort to seek out the manager and let them know. It's good for our community and helps our businesses stay more cost efficient.

My heartfelt appreciation to “Rachael” for using an effective marketing system and to all of you who have taken the time out of your day to visit my site and read my blog. Thank you all so very much for your continuing support.

And oh, by the way, if any of you have some great craft brews for sale which are not available around here, contact me because the “Jax Brew Bitch Buys Beer”.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sunday Funday Sharings and a trip to Saigon


Aftermath at Sunday's Bottle Sharing
If “craft beer” is a focal point for you – regardless of the amount of craft beer you have tasted, you are invited to participate in the Bottle Sharing get-togethers at Brewer's Pizza / Pinglehead Brewery (14B Blanding Blvd – Orange Park – 904.276.5159) on Sundays – usually at 2:00 pm.


There is no cost for attending.

We DO ask you:

a) bring a bomber or two smaller bottles of craft beer
b) bring your favorite tasting glass (if you forget, we'll have cups for you);
c) be willing to buy something off Brewer's Pizza impressive menu and/or a pint of something available there.

For those of you who have never attended a Bottle Sharing get-together:

The craft beer you bring does NOT have to be expensive – just something you like or want to try and share with the group. If you are uncertain as to what to bring, just ask the helpful and knowledgeable at Broudy's Liquors, Beer:30, Grassroots Natural Market, Total Wine, ABC Liquors or any other establishment which sells bottles (or cans) of craft beer.

We only request you not bring the mass-produced national brands like Bud, Miller, Coors, etc. Nothing particularly wrong with those – we just focus on tasty creations from the myriad of microbreweries springing up all over the country.

I maintain a database of e-mail addresses of those wishing to be kept informed of the next Bottle Sharing get-together since some days we may decide not to hold the Sharing or alter the time. If you are interested, please send me a note with your e-mail address and you'll be “in the know'!

The Bottle Sharing of Sunday, January 13 was well-attended at Brewer's Pizza and there was a LOAD of beer there!

Companion and I ordered the following from Brewer's Pizza's tantalizing brew menu to start the afternoon:

Pinglehead Brewing Company Moon Dance Oatmeal Stout
Pitch black body with a thick, mocha colored head. Luxurious, rich espresso in the nose with dark chocolate barely poking out. Sweet oats act as a blanket to nurture an abundance of roasted coffee, dark and milk chocolate and hints of roasted barley. A full body with enough strength to battle any robust stout. Note: 7.0% ABV & 29 IBUs

Pinglehead Brewing Company Rawhide Strong  Ale
Rawhide is the big brother of Pinglehead Imperial Red. It pours a clear deep red with an off-white colored head. Aroma is caramel sweet with floral undertones. Dry-hopping gives subtle floral hop flavors that compliment a huge caramel malt backbone. Finishing with a slight hop bitterness, this awesome strong ale is sure to put Orange Park on the map. Note: 9.7% ABV & 25 IBUs

This laid down our “base” for the beer which we would be tasting well into the evening … here is what I brought to share (please keep in mind I bring too much – again, a good amount to bring is one bomber or two smaller bottles)

St. Arnold Brewing Company Christmas Ale
This was the first seasonal we made. There has long been a tradition amongst brewers for making a special beer for the holidays. We decided on an old ale. The definition of this style has changed over the years. When we use the term, we use the old definition which describes big, malty, rich beers as they brewed in the olden days (as in a couple of hundred years ago--those olden days). Thus the name. (Today this name often implies a big beer that has been aged.)

We use five different types of malted barley in the Christmas Ale, no other grains or cereals such as corn or rice. The large quantity of malts is responsible for the sweetness and high alcohol content. Also, we use two different Pacific Northwest hop varieties in the Christmas Ale. The resulting hop character is a spicy bitterness and a flowery hop bouquet.  Note: 7.0& ABV & 35 IBUs

New England Brewing Company – 668 – the Neighbor of the Beat Belgian Style Golden Ale
Good fences make good neighbors” … unless you live next door to Satan. Then you may need something more  than a fence to accept that your neighbor is the Prince of Darkness; like our “668”. this HELLaciously delicious Belgian Ale is brewed with pilsner malts, candi sugar and blended with American and German hops.It will help you accept that cloven-hooved guy next door. “668”; mortal tested; Goat Load approved. Note: 9.0% ABV

Mikkeller Brewery Santa's Little Helper Belgian Strong Ale
Another incredible creation from the talented folks from that famous brewery in Copenhagen! … Belgian yeast, molasses and a slight hint of coffee – Note: 10.50% ABV

Eel River Brewing Company Raven's Eye Imperial Stout
A rich, roasty brew with a deep espresso character, this Russian Imperial Stout is strong, yet incredibly smooth. Originally brewed for the Imperial Court in Russia, this style stout is a warm festive drink made with the cold Russian winters in mind.

The intense flavor of the Raven's Eye Russian Imperial Stout can easily overpower most main dishes; however, it stands up to goie gras and smoked goose. For cheese pairings try long-aged cheeses such as Gouda, parmesan or cheddar. Pair the Raven's Eye with rich desserts such as dark chocolate truffles or chocolate raspberry mousse cake. Note: 9.5% ABV & 18 IBUs

Uinta Brewing Company Baba Black Lager
Robust and smooth, this full-flavored lager is exceptionably drinkable and pitch black in color. Note: 4.0% ABV & 32 IBUs

Founders Brewing Company Cerise Fruit Beer – Cherry! - Note: 6.5% AB

Please refer to the photos to see the awesome beer shared by others at this Bottle Sharing get-together!

Come on – why don't YOU join us at an upcoming Brewer's Pizza Brewing Bottle Sharing get-together in the very near future!


St. Arnold Brewing Company

New England Brewing Company

Mikkeller Brewery

Uinta Brewing Company
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Uinta-Brewing/136640885735?fref=ts

Another fabulous Bottle Sharing! … but now it was time to get something to soak ...uh … I mean something to eat.

Spring Rolls - Little Saigon Cafe
Leaving Brewer's Pizza by way of the rear parking lot by taking the narrow drive along the opposite end of the building and heading toward Wells Road, you will see 57 Heaven on the end of an adjacent building. Just a few doors down from 57 Heaven is Little Saigon Cafe (1975 Wells Road – Orange Park – 904.375.0061). Robin, Jackson and Gary had told us about the place before – actually, companion said he took me there after an earlier Bottle Sharing at Brewer's Pizza but I doubt him – I'll have to ask Tinker Beer. Anyway, Little Saigon Cafe was our destination.

Companion said the food was outstanding the first time we ate there, so I was taking his word for it. Glad I did! … it is truly as good as our friends described!

Vermicelli & BBQ Pork - Little Saigon Cafe
Companion and I looked over the significant menu and decided we would have:

Spring Rolls – Clear thin rice paper rolled with shrimp, Vermicelli noodles, fresh mints and cilantro – served with peanut sauce – excellent appetizer!

House Deluxe Vermicelli – Shrimp, beef and chicken served with additional crispy egg roll cut into little crunchy pieces

Vermicelli and BBQ PorkSeasoned pork chop marinated lemon grass flavor and Asian spices

House Deluxe Vermicelli - Little Saigon Cafe
The servings were so large, we took home enough for another meal. Our server was pleasant and Little Saigon Cafe has that type of ambiance where you can “settle in”.

My sincere thanks to the staff at Little Saigon cafe for providing spectacular and effective soaking-up food and for maintaining a comfortable place to end this Special Sunday Bottle Sharing Jax Brew Bitch Prowl.

Little Saigon Cafe

Beer Sharing, Good Eats and Bold Toe-Tapping Tunes

Saturday gathering at Green Room Brewing. Open to all
If “craft beer” is a focal point for you – regardless of the amount of craft beer you have tasted, you are invited to participate in the Bottle Sharing get-togethers at Green Room Brewing on Saturdays – usually at 2:00 pm.

There is no cost for attending.

We DO ask you:

a) bring a bomber or two smaller bottles of craft beer
b) bring your favorite tasting glass (if you forget, we'll have cups for you);
c) be willing to buy a pint of something from Green Room, the owners of which are kind enough to provide the space for all of us to enjoy good beer and fellowship.

For those of you who have never attended a Bottle Sharing get-together:

The craft beer you bring does NOT have to be expensive – just something you like or want to try and share with the group. If you are uncertain as to what to bring, just ask the helpful and knowledgeable at Broudy's Liquors, Beer:30, Grassroots Natural Market, Total Wine, ABC Liquors or any other establishment which sells bottles (or cans) of craft beer.

We only request you not bring the mass-produced national brands like Bud, Miller, Coors, etc. Nothing particularly wrong with those – we just focus on tasty creations from the myriad of microbreweries springing up all over the country.

Feel free to bring something to eat – or you can have food delivered at Green Room Brewery.

Offerings to the Beer Gods
I maintain a database of e-mail addresses of those wishing to be kept informed of the next Bottle Sharing get-together since some days we may decide not to hold the Sharing or alter the time. If you are interested, please send me a note with your e-mail address to regina@jaxbrewbitch.com and you'll be “in the know'!

The Bottle Sharing of Saturday, January 12 was well-attended at Green Room and there was a LOAD of beer there!

Companion and I ordered the following from Green Room's tantalizing brew menu to start the afternoon:

Count Shakula Chocolate Oatmeal Stout – yummers! … tastes like a bowl of the you-know-what cereal – except with a kick!

White Devil IPA - The White Devil I.P.A. is 6.66% ABV and 66.6 IBU's. A collaboration with Green Room Brewing and Cigar City Brewing. Brewed with Lactose, Wheat, Rye, Florida Orange & Grapefruit peels, grains of paradise, coriander and orange blossom honey. Fermented with a Belgian yeast strain. 

Homebrewer & Craft Beer Lover, Chris Kozak
This laid down our “base” for the beer which we would be tasting well into the evening … here is what I brought to share (please keep in mind I bring too much – again, a good amount to bring is one bomber or two smaller bottles)

Butternut's Brewery Moo Thunder Stout (you gotta see this brewery's website!)
This stout beer pays tribute to the Butternuts Brewery's former life as a dairy farm. It's a more drinkable version of the Stout breed than its heavy, boorish and smelly European sisters. We use lactose sugar for body and mouthfeel; not too strong, not too viscous at 4.9% abv. Unlike a true bovine it has a malty, roasty aroma and a dry finish but no tail or teats, and leaves no unsightly cow pies laying around the yard for you to step in.

Long Trail Brewing Company Imperial Porter
Long Trail Imperial Porter features a complex, darkly roasted malt flavor complemented by a thin, creamy head. The abundance of malt is balanced with a variety of hops, creating a clean finish. The recipe has been a homebrew secret that was developed by one of our own brewers. We are proud to present Long Trail Imperial Porter...ENJOY! … Note: 8.3% ABV & 56 IBUs
Malts: 2-Row, Cara Munich, Caramel 80L, Wheat, Roasted Barley, and Chocolate
Hops: Nugget, Centennial, Simcoe, and Amarillo

Uinta Brewing Company Crooked Line Detour Double IPA
Detour blazes the trail for fresh and bold Double IPAs. Four varieties of hops combine to step up the flavor profile. A hoppy adventure that finishes dry. Big in alcohol and character. Venture to pair with other spirited flavors such as those found in spicy ethnic foods. Note: 9.5% ABV & 74 IBUs

St. Arnold Brewing Company Christmas Ale
This was the first seasonal we made. There has long been a tradition amongst brewers for making a special beer for the holidays. We decided on an old ale. The definition of this style has changed over the years. When we use the term, we use the old definition which describes big, malty, rich beers as they brewed in the olden days (as in a couple of hundred years ago--those olden days). Thus the name. (Today this name often implies a big beer that has been aged.)

We use five different types of malted barley in the Christmas Ale, no other grains or cereals such as corn or rice. The large quantity of malts is responsible for the sweetness and high alcohol content. Also, we use two different Pacific Northwest hop varieties in the Christmas Ale. The resulting hop character is a spicy bitterness and a flowery hop bouquet.  Note: 7.0& ABV & 35 IBUs

Lonerider – Ales for Outlaws – Shotgun Betty Hefeweizen
Shotgun Betty is a sexy, tough cowgirl who is always armed and dangerous. Don’t be fooled by her good looks, she will have you for an appetizer! That’s why we picked her to represent our Hefeweizen. Shotgun Betty is a wheat beer with rich, banana-clove nose and refreshing dry finish. Sound good? Try one. But beware, once Betty gets a hold of you there is no escape. Note: 8% ABV

Big Boss Brewing Company Hell's Belle Belgian Pale Ale
Hell's Belle is a subtle but complex ale that is meant to be a showcase for our favorite Belgian yeast and beautiful Belgian malts. These elements produce a clean, spicy citrus finish. Hell's Belle remains light and refreshing but still packs a 7% finish. Enjoy with creamy pasta dishes, spicy foods like Indian & Thai dishes. Note: 7.0% ABV & 30 IBUs

Natty Greene Red Nose Winter Ale
Our 4th quarter seasonal. Full-bodied winter warmer with a rich, dark malt body spiced with cinnamon, ginger and orange peel for festive flavor. Munich 2, Pale Wheat, Cara Munich 3, CaraHell, Chocolate and Melanoidin – Magnum hops. Note: 6.8% & 21 IBUs

I was pleased to see Robin Bennett who is typically at the Bottle Sharing at Brewer's Pizza on Sunday join us! … friend, beer lover and talented homebrewer Jackson had dropped him off at Green Room in hopes we could give Robin a ride back to Brewer's Pizza later in the day … no problem!

Please refer to the photos to see the awesome beer shared by others at this Bottle Sharing get-together!

Come on – why don't YOU join us at an upcoming Green Room Brewing Bottle Sharing get-together in the very near future!

Butternuts Brewery

Long Trail Brewing Company
https://www.facebook.com/longtrailbrewingco?fref=ts

Uinta Brewing Company
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Uinta-Brewing/136640885735?fref=ts

St. Arnold Brewing Company

Lonerider – Ales for Outlaws
https://www.facebook.com/loneriderbeer?fref=ts

Big Boss Brewing Company
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Big-Boss-Brewery/177203328692?fref=ts

Natty Greene's Brewing Company

As we did last Saturday, we ventured over to Sierra Grille (331 Marsh Landing Parkway – Jacksonville Beach – 904.296.0214) across the parking lot from Broudy's Liquors. Ian Albahae and Robin both accompanied us there, their first visit to this restaurant.

Companion looked over the significant menu and decided he would have:

Sierra Chicken Platter - Sierra Grille
Sierra Chicken Platter – served with rice, beans, salad and salsa bar - $8.25 – an amazing value!

and once again, I selected:

Surf & Turf Grilled Burrito - steak and shrimp blended cheese, lettuce, tomato, ranch - $7.95 – delicious!

The salsa bar is quite impressive – there are a significant number of salsas to choose from including a pineapple salsa with cilantro. On top of that, they have cherry peppers … I love cherry peppers!
Surf & Turf Grilled Burrito - Sierra Grille

My sincere thanks to the staff at Sierra Grille for providing some stellar food and a unique alternative – the perfect combo for inclusion into future Jax Brew Bitch Prowls.




Sierra Grille

We bid farewell to Ian and headed back toward Brewer's Pizza with Robin. Once we dropped him off, companion and I made tracks over to Bold City Brewery (2670 Rosselle St  - 904.379-6551) for the release party of their delectable Smoky Porter!

The Bold City parking lot was packed when we arrived but companion dropped me off near the door and finally found a spot in the rear.

We had to try the Smoky Porter, of course – described on the brewery's website:

Bold City Brewery Smoky Porter
Bold City's winter seasonal. Very bold, robust porter with a nice hint of smokiness.

Bold City's Smokey Porter with a little
Firewater Tent Revival
Firewater Tent Revival was providing live music that evening, so companion and I selected two seats in front of the band. What a talented group! … be sure to follow them on their Facebook page and catch them for one of the their performances in the near future! … also, check them out on YouTube when you can!

The whole day went so quickly and since I had been up early that day, we said goodbye to the wonderful team and family at Bold City Brewery – who I thank wholeheartedly for providing a perfect venue to end this special Saturday-Bottle-Sharing Jax Brew Bitch Prowl.

Bold City Brewery (2670 Rosselle St  - 904.379-6551)

Firewater Tent Revival

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Biscuits and Beer ... I think this calls for Pajama Jeans

My Grandmother  - Laura D

My grandmother, “Laura D” as others referred to her, made what I considered to be the best food – always from scratch. My mother has some recipes she herself has developed which I still think are fabulous – but we both know nothing compares to Grandmother's cooking.

Grandmother's “Liver and Onions”, meatloaf and fried chicken still top my list of food for which I have not found an acceptable substitute. During significant portions of my youth spent living with Grandmother, I came to anticipate morning breakfasts of scrambled eggs, real bacon, toast and often her locally-famous biscuits and gravy.

How I miss all that! … but as I matured and “put on my big-girl panties”, I realized what I had and I am thankful I never took it for granted.

None of this was “on my radar” as companion and I loaded into the Jeep and headed out for the Maple Street Biscuit Company (2004 San Marco Blvd – 904.398.1004) last night (Jan 11).

We had heard good things about the place from Lindsay of Intuition Ale Works and George Deacon of Kickbacks Gastropub and his own (and Bobby Bergeron's) ReelFLA Productions.

As you drive into the historic San Marco Square from I-95, Maple Street Biscuit Company will be on the right just past the San Marco Theater. With the resurgence of the Square and recent completions of improvements on San Marco Boulevard, the returning and ever-increasing excitement about San Marco may have you circling the Square a couple of times before finding a parking spot – but its worth the effort!

We ended up settling the Jeep into a spot across the Square from the Maple Street Biscuit Company and made our way over to the establishment entering just a few minutes after their opening for dinner at 5:00 pm. Note – dinner is served ONLY on Fridays and Saturdays. Lunch is served six days a week until 2:00 pm and they are closed on Sunday.

Maple Street Biscuit Co. - The Five and Dime
There were already a couple of people inside awaiting their orders when we stepped up to the counter – they must have been camped out and stalking the place waiting for it to open – much like I will be on future Friday and Saturday evenings.

“Amazing” is too simple a word to describe all the aspects of Maple Street Biscuit Company. The d├ęcor and ambiance (this evening, modern Folk Music was being piped into the restaurant at a pleasant volume) makes one comfortable as soon as you enter. The menus are up on the wall near the counter and once you place your order, you can choose from seats aligned along the counter or at one of the many tables, inside and out.

Lindsay and George had collectively suggested we try:

The Five and Dimeflaky biscuit, all natural fried chicken, pecan wood smoked bacon, cheddar cheese topped with sausage gravy with a little kick – plus a fried egg on top! - $8.00

Maple Street Biscuit Co. - The Loaded Goat
The Loaded Goatflaky biscuit, all natural fried chicken breast, fried goat cheese medallion with pepper jelly on top – I asked for a side of sausage gravy (Krispy, the Freakin' Fried Fairy high-fived me at the counter) - $7.50

In lieu of giving you a number for your order, the cashier (this evening, it was the beautiful, efficient and very friendly Chelsea) will ask you a question – ours was “What is your dream vacation destination?” - so, when our order was ready, chef and co-owner Gus walked into the dining area and shouted “Japan?” ... well, I WOULD like to visit Japan one day – plus, I was carrying a Hello Kitty bag with some bottled/can beers in case Maple Street Biscuit Company turned out to be BYOB (it is not, yet anyway).

Maple Street Biscuit Co.
As Gus placed our food in front of us, my preconceived notions about Maple Street Biscuit Company vanished. I had assumed the portions would be small and that we would treat our selections as a tasty appetizer on our way to further food adventures. WRONG! … we didn't eat anything else the rest of the evening!

My first bite instantly brought Grandmother to mind – and a tear to my eye – I am not exaggerating. The flavor and texture was close – very close – to my grandmother's biscuits. I had started with the Loaded Goat but was eyeing companion's Five and Dime. He noticed that and switched plates with me so that I could have a bite.

Lawdy – the sausage gravy – I'd like a mug-full to drink with my meal, please! - outstanding! … the combination of the delicious fried chicken and taste-bud pleasing pecan wood bacon with a “smathering” of the sausage gravy (and maybe a little fried egg yolk!) yielded a crescendo of flavors in that Cajun-girl mouth of mine. (By the way, Krispy was on my shoulder doing the Electric Chicken dance)

Cinnamon Biscuits - what fine lagniappe!!
Sitting next to us was a beautiful woman named Jean who was dining alone. We learned during conversation with her that she had lost her husband a few months ago. She said she was sure her fascinating husband would have loved the place. She also mentioned the “macaroni and cheese” at Maple Street Biscuit Company was the best she had tasted – including her own which friends and family rave about.  That reminded me that George told us how good it was – so, I went and ordered some for us!

We couldn't hold off eating until the mac-n-cheese arrived, so we busied ourselves swapping plates back and forth until everything – including the sausage gravy – was entirely consumed. Once the mac-n-cheese arrived and I took a bite, the descriptions provided by George and the woman next to us were spot on! … the BEST I have had – here is the official description:

Smokey Mountain Mac-N-Cheese
Smoky Mountain Mac-N-Cheese – Five cheese (including smoked Gouda!) baked macaroni with cheese cracker crust … *drool* … $4.00

We were too full for dessert – however, Robyn's House Made Pecan Pie ($3) looked fabulous!

We DID partake in a sampling of the cinnamon biscuits, provided graciously by co-owner Scott. Biscuits made with real pecans slathered with delicious cinnamon frosting! … *yummers* … now, I was stuffed – very stuffed – and quite happy.

The fabulous Crew at Maple Street Biscuit Company
Remember, breakfast and lunch six days a week – dinner on Fridays and Saturdays – closed Sundays.

We're going back – and soon. Discard any perceptions of a “biscuit dinner” and head on down to Maple Street Biscuit Company for some larrupin'-good vittles! … My grandmother, Laura D, would give her nod of approval.

My sincere appreciation to Scott for being such a gracious host, to Gus for the spectacular food and for taking the time to speak with me, to Chelsea for politely and consistently checking on us and making sure we were satisfied and to the entire team at Maple Street Biscuit Company for stepping up to establish a distinctive establishment in San Marco which will be a regular stop on future Jax Brew Bitch Prowls.

By the way, I forgot to ask the folks at Maple Street Biscuit Company if they fill Sausage Gravy Growlers … they should! … just sayin' …

Maple Street Biscuit Company
https://www.facebook.com/MapleStreetBiscuits?fref=ts


Earlier in the day, I had arranged with Steve of Beer Junto to meet with him after dinner that evening and he suggested we meet him at Grape and Grain Exchange (2000 San Marco Boulevard – 904.396.4455) – just a couple of doors down across from the San Marco Theater on the corner of San Marco Boulevard and Balis Place.

As we walked down the sidewalk toward the establishment, we noticed a couple of musical performers in the gazebo within Balis Park entertaining a small group of people. Later, we noticed those talented individuals I refer to as “Pyrogyra” - performers specializing in fire. Very entertaining to watch!

We were meeting Steve so that I could discuss how I could assist in Beer Junto now that his family has grown and he has decided to expand his horizons in both business and family matters.

Grape & Grape - chilled brew selections
Entering Grape and Grain Exchange, we noticed that a healthy crowd had already gathered and were enjoying what the wine, liquor & beer bar had to offer. Near the back was the cooler section filled with beer, so I headed there directly, but slowly – I was SO full from my Maple Street Biscuit Company dinner.

Great selection of craft beer at very reasonable prices, Manager Ford came up to us, introduced himself and explained that we could select anything form the cooler and they would provide a glass for you from which to drink – or you take your selections home without opening them, of course, There is no extra fee for opening your beer selections and accepting a glass. There is a corkage/bottling fee assessed for the wine and liquor, however.

Before Steve arrived, companion and I shared (in smaller bottles):

Birra Kuasapa - $3.50
Kuasapa is an Italian beer, inspired by the American Pale Ale, where American hops meet European ones, creating a very intriguing aroma. Beer strong and decisive, the Kuasapa lends itself to combinations with extremes like blue cheese or raw fish.

Great Divide Brewing Company Claymore Scotch Ale - $2.09
Named for a medieval Scottish sword, CLAYMORE SCOTCH ALE is our tribute to the legendary “Wee Heavy” beers of Scotland. This malty, deep-ruby beauty features lots of caramel sweetness, a reserved hop profile, and a subtle warming character. Unlike its namesake, this beer only requires one hand, but it’ll still make you feel like nobility. - Note: 7.7% ABV

Food Pairings – Pot Roast with roasted vegetables, seared lamb shank with white beans, bread pudding

Of course, I wasn't thinking of food pairings at that point in time – didn't even want to think of food.

The infamous Heidi and Marie with the biscuit filled JBB
Parting the crowd like “Moses does water”, Marie and Heidi made their appearance at the Grape and Grain Exchange. Marie had been wanting me to try the place and she was SO right about how unique and interesting the place is. She introduced me to owners Bob Smith and Jackson Somphonphakdy. A third owner, Anthony Norton was not there that evening while we were there.

Bob was kind enough to show us the portion of Grape and Grain Exchange which will be referred to as “The Speakeasy” - more later – but it will be open to the public and memberships will be available providing preferred seating and discounts in both “The Speakeasy” and in the front.

Steve arrived – and as I noted in my Blog, Facebook, Twitter and Beer Junto, it took no extra thought on my part to confirm with Steve I would be thrilled and honored to be able to provide some assistance with Beer Junto. However, details were discussed and as we did so, we three ended up sharing the following bombers:

Grape and Grain Exchange features a selection
of fines cheeses and caviar
Meantime Brewing Company Old Smoked Bock - $ 11.35
Made for the Michael Jackson Rare Beer Club with Munich and smoked malts and Perle and Spalter hops. The color is a deep amber color that is clear with a medium high carbonation. Note: 6.5% ABV

Stone Brewing Company Smoked Porter - $4.00
So you think you don't like dark beer? Prepare to believe. This is no ordinary porter. And if you are already among the enlightened who appreciate a fine ebony-hued ale, we think you will find Stone Smoked Porter to be a poignant addition to your repertoire. This beer pours a gorgeous deep mahogany crowned by a creamy head. Dark, smooth and complex, with rich chocolate and coffee flavors balanced by a subtle smokiness, this brew is equally delicious with meats or fine chocolates. Note: 5.9% ABV & 53 IBUs

Grape and Grain Exchange - Wall of Voodoo
The Meantime Old Smoked Bock was excellent and being able to get a bomber of the delicious Stone Smoked Porter for $4.00? … outstanding value! … did I mention I was still full from the Maple Street Biscuit Company?

Steve wanted to get back home to his beautiful wife and daughter, so we bid him farewell and made our way slowly to the Jeep.

My thanks to Steve from Beer Junto for the opportunity of providing assistance and to Bob, Jackson and Ford for being such gracious hosts and for establishing a fun and exciting new venue within the historic San Marco community.

Grape and Grain Exchange
https://www.facebook.com/grapeandgrainexchange?fref=ts

Great Divide Brewing Company

Meantime Brewing Company
https://www.facebook.com/meantimebrewing?fref=ts

Stone Brewing Company

Aww hell naw!
On the way home, I was thinking of this evening's byline and “Beer and Biscuits” kept poppin' into my mind – but there was more – much more  - and I couldn't put my finger on it. Heck, I could barely even put my seat belt around it – and then I realized what else was needed.

Does anyone have the 800-number for Pajama Jeans?



Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tuesday satisfaction - Kick'ing'back Banh Mi style, tapping tunes and firkins

Salvador Dali and Babou

Salvador Dali has always fascinated me – his unusual life and amazing work have intrigued me since I was a young teenager. Some of his masterworks are displayed at the Salvador Dali Museum (One Dali Blvd – St. Petersburg – 727.823.3767) in St. Petersburg, Florida. If you've never been – you MUST set aside a weekend to go! … while you are in the area, you can also visit the Tampa-area microbreweries throughout that region of Florida!

Standing at my jewelry tower deciding upon fashion accessories for that evening's Prowl (Jan 8), I happened upon a watch whose design was inspired by Dali's painting, “The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus” - both in wavy form and color. Companion had given me that years ago and I cherish it – but with the non-metallic wristband, I seldom wear it out of fear of ruining the rather unique wristband.

I felt a little odd spending so much time on accessorizing for an evening I felt like staying somewhat close to home for some reason.

River City Brewing -BLT Turkey Wrap
Earlier in the day, I had attended my first Editorial Meeting with EU Jacksonville (http://www.eujacksonville.com/) and following its conclusion, I met Captain Brooks of Jax Water Tours (http://www.jaxwatertours.com/)  at River City Brewing Company (http://www.rivercitybrew.com/) to discuss plans for his expansion and a schedule for 2013 Jax Brew Cruises – stay tuned! … while meeting with Captain Brooks, I had a very late lunch consisting of BLT Turkey Wrap - delicious! … I also met Bernard Santiago of River City Brewing and I learned some changes are afoot at River City – changes with a capital “C” - and that rhymes with “B” - and that stands for “Beer”!

I knew that although I was quite full, companion would be wanting to include some food during the Prowl that evening.

Dahlias Pour House - Andrea tapping DPH 1st firkin
First stop that night was Dahlia's Pour House (2695 Post Street – 904.738.7132) where owner Andrea was featuring a Firkin of Abita Brewing Company's English Mild Cask Ale. A Firkin is a small cask that is used for brewing cask-conditioned ale. The ale is served unfiltered with little carbonation direct from the Firkin which is tapped right before serving. One neat thing brewers do is add extra hops and/or spices to the beer before it is sealed to get those eye-poppin' flavors distributed throughout the brew.

Entering Dahlia's Pour House, I was happy to see Andrea behind the bar and Brendan from Champion Brands / TeamHopHeads sitting near the Firkin at the bar!

Companion and I both ordered the English Mild from the Firkin, of course … smooth flavor with moderate hop influence, I thought. Very tasty!

Abita's Imperial Oyster Stout
We noticed that Dahlia's also had Abita Brewing Company's Imperial Oyster Stout on tap! … WooHoo! … I believed this would be my first Imperial Oyster Stout, so I was excited to share it with companion! … I'm SO glad I did! … amazing flavor – the salty layer (as mentioned in the description below) was definitely there which added a nice variation to the stout.

Abita Brewing Company English Mild Cask Ale
Of course, being from Louisiana, Abita Brewing Company is near and dear to me. Considered by some to be middle-of-the-road as far as their year-round selections, their specialty programs have garnered a lot of publicity and loyal fans. Abita has now stepped it up again!

This English Style mild designed and brewed just for cask ale – made from a classic recipe for one of the most popular English beer styles - a traditional English Mild. Abita's English Mild is a light brown sessionable beer  created with English Ale yeast dry hopped with East Kent Golding hops. Note: 3.7% ABV

Abita Brewing Company Imperial Oyster Stout
Abita Imperial Oyster Stout is made with pale, caramel, roasted and chocolate malts. Oats are also added to give the beer a fuller and sweeter taste. The roasted malts give the beer its dark color as well as its intense flavor and aroma. The flavors of toffee and chocolate are prevalent but not overpowering. The beer is hopped with Willamette hops. Since the beer gets so much flavor from the malts there is not a lot of hop flavor. There is just enough bitterness to complement the sweetness of the malt. Finally, freshly shucked Louisiana oysters are added to the boil. The salt from the oysters gives the beer a more intense aroma and mouthfeel.

Andrea was kind enough to come over and speak with us and I can tell she is diggin' what's happenin' at Dahlia's!  … she has a lot planned for 2013, so stay tuned!

I had selected a spot next to Brendan and he graciously endured my questions about his holidays and the latest scoop on Champion Brands / TeamHopheads.

Other destinations were on my agenda tonight as well, so we reluctantly bid farewell to Andrea and Brendan and since it was such a beautiful evening, decided to clomp down to the Salty Fig. “Clomp” since companion was still wearing his black boot (aka RoboCop footwear) to protect his messed-up right ankle.

My thanks to Brendan for taking the time to speak with me and to Andrea, owner of Dahlia's Pour House for providing a great experience for this first stop on this evening's Jax Brew Bitch Prowl.

Dahlia's Pour House

Abita Brewing Company
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Abita-Brewery/155081241169804?ref=ts&fref=ts


It was a short clomp on down to The Salty Fig (901 King Street – 904.337.0146) – and this would be our second visit in five days. Companion had mentioned he would like to get something to eat while we were there – maybe something light – so that maybe I would be ready to eat later on in the evening.

We were greeted by a very friendly hostess – as we were the first time we visited – and we indicated we would prefer to sit at the bar – near to where a young minstrel was setting up his stage to perform.

Dustin was our attentive and professional bartender that evening. I was surprised to see that the Terrapin Beer Company's Wake-N-Bake we saw days earlier on tap was no longer available. Dustin explained they would be carrying Intuition Ale Works King Street Stout in its place in the future.

The Salty Fig - Gorgonzola Chips
We had made it in time for Happy Hour where all drafts are half-price! … WooHoo! … you know I like a Brew-Bargain! … another neat thing is that this (in-essence) 2-for-1 allows you to mix up your selections (like at European Street), so for the price of two drafts we were able to order and enjoy the following four:


Bold City Brewery 1901 Red Ale – awesome with the appetizers we ordered
This is not your standard Red Ale. This is a very ‘malty’, ‘roasty’ and complex Red Ale. The roasted flavor comes from the high presence of roasted barley. With a very minimal but high alpha hop addition, this Red Ale has become a favorite among patrons.

Bold City Brewery Duke's Cold Nose Brown Ale
This is a mild brown ale which is easily drinkable. A slight nuttiness and sweetness are present. Note: 7% ABV

Florida Beer Company Swamp Ape IPA – great with the appetizers we ordered
“Florida Beer Swamp Ape IPA is an Imperial India Pale Ale. The fresh and lively hop character is derived from using 5 distinct varieties of hops: Tettnang, Centennial, Chinook, Cascade and Amarillo

This beer has an intense hop bitterness, flavor and aroma balanced by complex alcohol flavors, moderate fruity esters and a medium malt character from the balance of 2-row, Europ and Cherry Wood Smoked.”

Green Room Brewing Company Count Shakula Chocolate Oatmeal Stout – yummers! … tastes like a bowl of the you-know-what cereal – except with a kick!

The Salty Fig - Endamame with smoked sea salt.
While we were enjoying the live music and brews, we enjoyed a couple of appetizers. The Gorgonzola Chips with bits of gorgonzola cheese and drizzled with balsamic vinegar and Endamame with smoked sea salt.
Back-to-back top rate experiences at The Salty Fig! … I'm comin' back again for that Oyster and Bacon sandwich!

My sincere thanks to Dustin for spectacular service and to the entire team at The Salty Fig for providing another exciting option within this beer-centric area of our great community!

The Salty Fig – a southern gastropub

Bold City Brewery

Florida Beer Company

Green Room Brewing


It would have been easy to walk across King Street to Kickbacks Gastropub but I wanted to be a little hungrier before I went in there – 'cause I know I'll be eatin' sumpin' at Kickbacks.

So, we clomped back to the Jeep and told it to land us safely near Intuition Ale Works (720 King Street – 904.683.7720).

Lindsay and Hannah were behind the bar efficiently and professionally handling the crowd's demands for tasty brews! … Choosing seats at the bar, I was in the mood for a Scotch Ale – so, I asked that my bountiful Mug Club mug be filled with:

The Factor
A big ass, full-bodied Scotch ale. Lightly hopped, sweet and malty with a dry finish. Brewed with all English malts & hops and a Scottish ale yeast.

Companion decided to once again have:
Shotgun Shack Black Rye Ale
This black as night hoppy American ale hints of pine needles, roasty malt, and spicy green peppercorns. Brewed with 30% malted German rye, bittered with Magnum hops and American hops for flavor and aroma. At 5% alcohol it is a sessionable but full-bodied brew.

It was Taproom Tunesday at Intuition Ale Works – so named since live music is provided on Tuesdays. The music combined with the consistently subdued lighting ambiance made for another wonderful visit.

My sincere thanks to Hannah and Lindsay for always being so friendly and generous with their time and to the entire team at Intuition Ale Works for always providing a satisfying stop on Jax Brew Bitch Prowls!

Intuition Ale Works

Okay, it was NOW time for some food! ... "RELEASE THE JEEP!" ... since it has an innate homing sense to Kickbacks Gastropub (910 King Street – 904.388.9551), we settled in for a quick trip back to that establishment.

It was not too busy as we arrived and we were able to secure the high-top on the floor in front of the beer menu board. We USED to employ the use of that board religiously, but now the Kickbacks App for my iPhone is our current and reliable source of "What's on Tap" – that, or the knowledgeable and helpful staff of Kickbacks.

This evening, Eddie was our server and this guy does know beer. Companion had earlier noticed that Newcastle's Werewolf Irish Red Ale on tap and was interested in how this compared to the original Newcastle Brown Ale which he always ordered 10 years ago. The Caledonian Brewing Company (Newcastle) website provides this description:

Newcastle Werewolf Irish Red Ale
Legend has it that a beast roams the moors and plains of Newcastle Upon Tyne. It's part man – part beast – and more than a little wild – the perfect inspiration for a Limited Edition Ale. Newcastle Werewolf Ale comes at you with a dark, startling aroma, a roasty flavor, and a final taste of hops that leaves you howling for more.

Named for the mythical wolf-like creature said to roam the English countryside, Werewolf offers hopheads a beer that shares some characteristics of Newcastle Brown, but remains distinctive enough to stand up on its own. Note: 4.5% ABV & 23 IBUs

APPEARANCE: The highly carbonated liquid pours a bright sanguine color with a stark white head that retains its form through the life of the beer. Nice lacing as well.

AROMA: Strong malt and rye bread fragrance with a hint of berries and slight metal.

PALATE: Sweet malt flavor hits the front of the tongue with subtle berry, grass and wine notes joining in at the midpalate. The liquid momentarily clings to the insides of the mouth before surrendering to a crisp, pleasantly bitter finish.

JBB Notes – easily drinkable – definitely one I would keep in the fridge consistently for frequent enjoyment. Both companion and I felt it was not a special occasion beer – but something good to grab to watch a game or movie at home.

I went with Eddie's suggestion:

Cigar City Resonator German Style DoppelbockI am gaining an appreciation for some Doppelbocks after our trip to Connecticut – this one was malty and sweet with what tasted to me like a raisin or fig influence. Note: 9% ABV

OH DEAR GOD, PLEASE BRING THIS BACK!
Kickbacks Gastropub - The Banh Mi Burger
Eddie dropped by to check on us and mentioned they had a special burger that evening which they had named “The Banh Mi Burger” … when Eddie described it, companion got that “Yeah, that's what I'm talkin' about” look on his face – and I knew one was coming our way.

Banh Mi is a term used in the US to describe a meat-filled sandwich available at Vietnamese bakeries and restaurants around the globe. However, in this case, the flavors of banh mi, which I love, were caressed in what appeared to me a mixture of shredded pickled carrots, cilantro and chili peppers. This mix was put atop a gargantuan burger patty which was itself nestled onto a bed of marinated pickled sliced jalapenos. This combination was … Off .. the … Trail (Ho Chi Minh, that is) … absolutely decadent – please, please, please make this a regular on your menu, Kickbacks!

My sincere thanks to Eddie for the great suggestions and customer service that evening and to owner Steve Flores, the kitchen crew and the rest of the team at Kickbacks Gastropub for always being consistent in providing the perfect place to end this and many other Jax Brew Bitch Prowls.

Kickbacks Gastropub  

Caledonian Brewing Company

Newcastle Werewolf Irish Red Ale


Dali was once quoted, There are some days when I think I'm going to die from an overdose of satisfaction.”

Although I was unable to bring this quote to mind verbatim that evening, I WAS able to get the jist of it formulated enough to realize what Dali meant.

I also wondered if that overdose of satisfaction happened to me how my death could be covered in an episode of CSI: Jacksonville – or more appropriately, a vintage game of Clue -

"Was it Colonel Mustard in the Ballroom with a Candlestick?"

Nope – it was the Jax Brew Bitch in the Taproom with an Imperial Stout.

Il volto di Mae West by Salvador Dali