Monday, September 8, 2014
What is in the water with India Pale Ale is hops. Plenty of hops. Hops are flowers which are used in brewing to add a bitter offset to the sweetness of malt. They also help in preserving beer. I have always heard that the first India Pale Ale was made because spoilage was a problem on the long ocean voyage from England to India. It appears that’s not actually correct, if I am to believe Wikipedia. That source says the highly hopped beer became a favorite in India because of the taste and was given the name due to that popularity.
Wikipedia also offers a listing of the kinds of hops used in American craft IPAs today: “...distinctively American hops, such as Cascade, Centennial, Citra, Columbus, Chinook, Simcoe, Amarillo, Tomahawk, Warrior, and Nugget.” Hop nerds must be the beer world’s equivalent to the wine world’s grape nerds, especially those grape nerds who actually know - and talk openly about - what clone they are drinking. It might be fun to ask a bartender, "Is this Cascade or Chinook I'm tasting?" Of course, the bartender might then decide that it's fun to not wait on you anymore.
Smog City Brewing Company was named, no doubt, after the most iconic element of life in Los Angeles - bad air. They are located in Torrance, in the South Bay area of Southern California, even though I have never noticed too much smog down that way. We keep our excess smog in the San Gabriel Valley. It sits well against the mountains there.
Smog City’s head brewmaster Jonathan Porter - great beer name, right? - presides over the brews, collects awards and works with chefs in L.A. to pair his beers with great food.
Smog City’s Hoptonic IPA goes for $7 a glass at Westside Tavern on Pico. It was hot that day, and a good IPA is one of my favorite warm-weather refreshers, so I drank it pretty quickly. I did take time to note the aromas and flavors of citrus and a floral hops element that I love in this style of beer.
Smog City elaborates on Hoptonic a little more, citing “the exceptional flavor and aroma of west coast hops with notes of orange, citrus peel, tropical fruit, guava and floral honey. The lightly toasted caramel malt balances the resinous hop flavors and firm, yet balanced bitterness that make this beer a full bodied hop lovers' paradise.” I'll try to drink it slower next time.
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Wednesday, September 5, 2012
One of the most exotic cuisines in the world, to my palate, is Indian food. Spices like cardamom, ginger, nutmeg and turmeric mark the food and lend aromatics and flavors you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else. With so many different spices used - sometimes in the same dish - it can be a challenge to pair wine with Indian food.
In Los Angeles, there are numerous options for dining in Indian style. One of my favorites is India’s Oven, located at 7233 Beverly Boulevard, just a little bit west of the New Beverly Cinema. Kamal Singh and his staff serve home cooking, Punjabi-style - from Northern India.
How does wine fit into the Indian food scene? Come find out. Now And Zin and India’s Oven would love to have you come over for an Indian food and wine pairing event, Friday September 21, 2012 from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. For only $12, you can sample four of the best dishes at India’s Oven and pair them with selected wines. Personally, I think once you try the food at India’s Oven you’ll be a regular.
The complexity of the spices and the heat of the food - if you order it that way - can make for a difficult wine pairing situation. But it’s possible to get the wine right by looking beyond the meat/fish aspect and going with the spice makeup of the dish.
Samosas and biryani rice dishes: Sauvignon Blanc, ChardonnayDal, coconut milk curries and chickpea curries: Fruity reds work well - Merlot, Malbec, Pinot Noir - or silky whites like Pinot Grigio.Tandoori chicken: Shiraz, Zinfandel, Pinot NoirSaag paneer and other green dishes: Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay
In general, when pairing wine with Indian food, you want to choose wines with a minimum of oak influence.
Save the date and come try the pairings at:
7233 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA
Friday September 21, 2012 from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.
$12 for four pairings
We hope to see you there!
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