The Wookie and the Sasquatch

Homebrewing, 2002

When I first started homebrewing back in 2002, I used to bring my homebrew into Boundary Bay to get feed back from the then Head Brewer Skip Madsen.  Skip is a large hairy guy and is known by many as “The Wookie.”  Skip was very encouraging with his feedback and would send me home with some yeast for my next batch.  In 2005 I started working at Boundary Bay as a Cellarman and Assistant Brewer in 2006.  Sadly, Skip wasn’t there anymore as he’d left to start the Waterstreet Brewery in Port Townsend and now American Brewing Company in Edmonds.

I found two new teachers in Head Brewer Aaron Jacob Smith and Assistant Brewer Steve Ellison.  Working in the brewery at Boundary Bay is kind of like an apprenticeship where I have to do the same thing many many times before being taught the next thing.  I started washing kegs, but by the end of my first week I was doing transfers and filling kegs.  Next I was washing and sanitizing tanks, harvesting yeast, bottling beer samples…bit by bit learning all the aspects of brewing.  It took about a year and a half of dedicated effort for me to work my way onto the brewdeck, fulfilling my dream of becoming a professional brewer.

the past and present brewers of Boundary Bay Brewery (Anthony pictured at left, Skip pictured center, back)

As soon as I started working at Boundary Bay I’ve made many efforts over the years to increase my brewing knowledge.  I’ve attended seminars and classes, read many books, applied for scholarships, brewed a lot of beer and tasted a few along the way.  After 6 or 7 years of applying, I have recently been awarded the Glen Hay Falconer Scholarship to the American Brewers Guild Intensive Brewing Science and Engineering Course (link to ABG}.  This is a monumental achievement for me.  I know that in the future I will look back at this class as a pivotal point in my career.  I share this victory with my co-workers Aaron and Steve who have taught me so much already.

It can be frustrating applying year after year, I have a folder with all my applications and denial letters.  You don’t know if you were in the top five or bottom fifty, you just know that you weren’t selected.  Some years I took it kinda hard, doubting if I was on the right path.  Other years I made fresh determinations to be the best brewer I can and continue to apply.  I entered contests and drawings, everything I could think of to get a chance to attend classes on brewing.  I have a degree in Environmental Science from Huxley College at Western Washington University.  With the Brewing Science course I hope to be able to create a new niche for myself in the brewery, maintaining the consistent quality of our beer as we expand production in the future.  I am determined to share what I learn through this course with my co-workers, other local breweries and local homebrewers.

I teach beginner homebrewing classes and beer tasting classes at the Bellingham Technical College, the next class is a Winter Beer tastingon January 21st.  Matt Hansen, a BTC culinary alumni and Boundary Bay kitchen manager, will be preparing foods paired with the beers. I will also be teaching a beginner homebrewing class in April and British Beer tasting class in May, next quarter.  I started doing these classes because I meet so many people who say they want to start homebrewing but don’t know how to take that first step.  I tried doing a hands on class the first time but it was logistically very challenging.  The class is set up now as a demonstration/ lecture/ Q&A class.  I have a friend, Robbie Lowry help keep an eye on the stove while we brew a batch of extract beer in the class.  I bring hops and malts, discuss ingredients, the brewing process, I get people practicing bottling with some water…I just try to give them enough confidence that yes, they can do this themselves in their own kitchen.

The beer tasting classes have been fun, but they are much better now that I have Matt doing the food.  He prepares food right there in the class room while we are tasting and discussing the beers.  I started doing the tasting classes because I meet so many people who don’t know what distinguishes different beer styles and/or don’t know what they like or don’t like in a beer.  The great thing about tasting several beers side by side is that you can compare and contrast them to see what you like and why.  Do you like the hoppier beers like an IPA or the malty sweet Scotch ale?  Doing this kind of tasting helps people know what they want to buy or order in the future.  Otherwise if you have a beer one week and a different beer the next it’s hard to compare the two and know which you liked best.

Homebrewing, with son Sawyer, 2011

The Glen Hay Falconer Foundation has an annual event, The Sasquatch Brewfest which will be held Saturday May 12th, 2012 in Eugene, Oregon.  So I went from learning from the Wookie, to the Sasquatch.  I will be going down with some beer and I hope that many people from Washington, especially Whatcom and Skagit Counties will attend as well.  There is a brewam golf tournament that pairs professional brewers with amateurs, if you’re a golfer please come down and participate. This is the 10th anniversary of the Glen Hay Falconer Scholarship and they’ll be inviting all the previous winners to attend the festival.  As this year’s winner, I will be representing Boundary Bay and Bellingham, Washington in a central position.   I hope that I can bring more people and beer from Washington to this event, so please put that date on your calender, check out the website, train your liver and come down to the Sasquatch Brewfest.

Cheers!   -Anthony Stone, Assistant Brewer at Boundary Bay Brewery
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Brewing For Best of the Bay


I first started homebrewing in late 2002. My first few batches of beer were less than stellar and I might have given up if not for the patient support of Robert Arzoo at North Corner Brewing Supply. When he suggested that I enter a beer in a local homebrew competition called Best of the Bay in 2003, I thought that I surely wouldn’t win anything but it would be good to get some feedback from more experienced brewers. I entered my fourth batch of beer which was an imperial stout that had erupted all over the house, I called it Mt.Vesuvius Imperial Stout and it was voted best beer in the porter/stout category.

Mt. Vesuvius aftermath

After repainting the walls and recovering from the mess, I was surprised at how good that beer turned out. This experience gave me a lot of confidence in my ability to make good beer and ultimately led me to pursue my career in brewing at Boundary Bay.

There wasn’t a club for homebrewers in Bellingham at the time in 2003, and Best of the Bay hasn’t happened since. When I saw that the Bellingham Homebrewers Guild (BHG) was being formed and that some of the members had taken the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) tests to be beer judges, I thought it was time to revive Best of the Bay.  I wanted our local brewers both old and new to have the same kind of confidence building experience I had in 2003.

entries for 2011 Best of the Bay

I started out in Feburary by contacting Jesse Nickerson who was organizing the club at the time. We met and discussed what kind of event we wanted Best of the Bay 2011 to be. We set a date and registered with the national BJCP program and with the National Homebrewers Association. Jesse and I then formed a steering committee and met every two weeks for months planning the event. Ian Harper handled all of the website/internet stuff and as he was elected President of the BHG he helped co-ordinate with the club. Justin Bajema became our judge director and spent many hours contacting, organizing, and running the judging sessions. Alex Cleanthous painted the bung awards and was always willing to handle the loose ends. Robert Arzoo was a great mentor sharing his experience with running the Best of the Bay in the past. Chris McClanahan handled our promotion and gathered prizes donated by many sponsors including Boundary Bay Brewery, Chuckanut Brewing, Lagunitas Brewing, North Corner Brewing Supply, Northern Brewer, Avenue Bread, Artisan Alloys and others.

2011 Best of the Bay judges

Our event became two separate events as we held the judging on a Friday and Saturday; then Sunday we had an awards ceremony/ homebrew rally in the Boundary Bay beer garden. It was a tremendous success all around. We had 196 beers get registered with a final 184 official entries from throughout the state and even some sent from California. Winners received prizes and a Gold/Silver/ or Bronze bung. The best of show got a $50 gift card from Northern Brewer plus a free entry into the National Homebrew Competition which will be held in Seattle in 2012.  Our event in the garden was saturated with great beer and people. We had homebrew to taste, judges on hand to taste the beer and give feedback and homebrew set-ups to look at. Robert also made a series of hop teas so that you could taste hop flavors individually.

We plan on making this an annual event and hopefully it will get bigger and better each year. For next year, in particular, we need more beer judges. So if you are interested, join the Bellingham Homebrewers Guild and take the BJCP test this year. Thank you to everyone who supported us behind the scenes. I may have forgot to mention some of you specifically and I’m sorry if I did. I especially have to give a huge thank you to Ed Bennett and Janet Lightner of Boundary Bay Brewery. We could not have pulled off this event without their generous support. I also want to thank Ilana for catering the food for the judges and Brian for grilling all our burgers. See you at Best of the Bay 2012. Cheers! Anthony Stone

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April was a busy month for Beer and I.  I recently taught a beginners homebrewing class at the Bellingham Technical College (BTC).  I also taught a Beers of the British Isles tasting class, which was a lot of fun. For this class the idea was to have classic beers from England, Scotland and Ireland, then compare them with American examples of the same styles. This not only shows how and why craft beer took off in America, but how these classic beer styles have evoloved into new styles of their own.  At the World Beer Cup for example there are separate sub-categories for English IPA and American IPA.  I hung up some flags and maps, put on some Irish and Scottish music and we had a great time.  Another plus, for the first time we had a chef preparing food pairings right there in the room.  Matt Hansen is the kitchen Manager at Boundary Bay and is an BTC Culinary alumni.  His pairings were both great tasting and clever.  For example he paired a Indian curry with the India Pale Ales.  Hopefully Matt and I can join forces together for my next beer tasting class, which, probably won’t be until the Winter quarter.  I’m taking the Summer and Fall quarters off from teaching any classes.  I’m open to ideas until then so if you have a suggestion, post it on this blog.  April was topped off with the annual April Brews Day beer festival, which is a fundraiser for the Max Higbee Center.  I made two special beers for this event: Ginger-Peach Blonde Ale, and Vanilla Bourbon Oak Aged Imperial Stout.  The stout turned out really good, but I think last years was better, I will definitely do it again next year.  The Ginger-Peach is always evolving and I think I’ll need to get more peach into it next year.  If you tried either of these and want to give me some feedback for next year, please post it on the blog here.  Thanks to everyone who attended the April Brews Day and who came to my classes.  Without the support of beer lovers in Bellingham, there would be no craft beer here.
Slainte, -Anthony Stone

Matt Hansen, culinary genius

The pairings were:
  • IPA with Curried Apple Soup
  • ESB with Frisee aux Lardons
  • Porter with Mushroom and Goat Cheese Tart
  • Stout with Irish Soda Bread
  • Wee Heavy Scotch with Peanut Butter Ganache Pretzels
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I Love Beer in the Springtime

April is going to be a busy beer month here in the city of subdued excitement. I have two classes at Bellingham Technical College, a beginner homebrewing class on Sat. the 16th and a Beers of the British Isles tasting on Sat. the 23rd.  The following weekend on Sat. the 30th is April Brew’s Day – the Bellingham beerfest that is an annual fundraiser for the Max Higbee center.

The first April Brew’s Day I went to I helped pour beer for Frankenstein/Whatcom Brewery from Ferndale.  The next month I started working at Boundary Bay, this was back in 2005.  Each year I see the festival it gets bigger and better, well bigger isn’t always better, i guess, since there is a big crowd of people to navigate around.  I suggest coming early as there is a line to get in and some of the breweries special beers often run out early.  That is why I always try to find beers I haven’t tasted before first before going on to quaff old favorites.

April Brew’s Day is located across the street from Boundary at the Depot Market Square (home of the Bellingham Farmer’s Market) so I like to try and have something different for people to taste since they could just get our beer across the street otherwise.  Over the last few years, some of our rare brews for April Brews Day have become cult favorites, so this year I will be again be brewing my Ginger Peach Blonde and Vanilla Bourbon Oak Aged Imperial Stout (people’s choice last year).  It was funny last year while hanging out in the crowd I heard many people talking about the Ginger Peach, but I didn’t hear anyone talking about the Vanilla Bourbon Stout.  So I was surprised that nobody seemed to vote for the Ginger Peach Blonde and was really happy when the Stout was voted people’s choice.
The history of the Ginger Peach Blonde was we needed something for Strange Brewfest at the old WaterStreet Brewery in Port Townsend.  I came up with the idea of putting some fresh grated ginger and some peach juice/extract in a keg of Blonde.  I’ve played around with it each year with varied success, but the concept is you smell the peach and then taste the peach, but it quickly gives way to a spicy ginger finish that cleans your palate, kind of like eating pickled ginger with sushi.  I’ve never liked sweet, cloying, syrupy fruit beers, which is why I use the peach extract/juice concentrate because it gives the aroma and flavor without all the extra sugar or cloudy pectin.  The Vanilla Oak Aged Imperial Oatmeal Stout is a bit more involved, but the process started several months ago to be ready for this month.  I hope you’ll come down and try this years beers, and please don’t forget to vote for them!
My Beers of the British Isles class will have iconic beers of England, Scotland, Ireland, maybe a Welsh beer and then American versions of these styles.  The idea is to show how American craft brewers have been inspired by these traditional brewing styles, and then taken them to new levels.  I’ll be teaming up with Boundary Bay’s kitchen manager and BTC culinary alumni, Matt Hansen.  He’s going to help pair food with each beer style which will be a perfect accompaniment to our beers.  The beginner’s brewing class is for people who are brand new to homebrewing.  We will do a demonstration extract brew and discuss all you need to know to start brewing in your kitchen.  You can register online for both of my classes.  Hope to see you there.
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How Cool is Your Beer?

I’ve had a number of people asking me about beer temperature lately.  I know that people want a simple answer like, “40 degrees,” but different beer styles are best served at different temperatures.  We’ve been told by commercials for years that beer is best when it’s ice cold.   Unfortunately when beer is too cold it sorta numbs our taste buds so we won’t be able to taste as much.  This isn’t a problem if the beer doesn’t have much to taste to begin with, but for more flavorful beers you’d be missing out.  So here at Boundary Bay Brewery, our beer might seem a little warmer than at some other bars, but we think the flavor is the most important part. We don’t want you to miss a thing!

excerpt from "Tasting Beer" by Randy Mosher

There is a great book by Randy Mosher called “Tasting Beer” that has some great information on beer serving temperatures.  He says that in general lager beers should be about 40F and ales should be served between 50 – 55F.  Another general rule he suggests is stronger and darker beers should be served warmer than weaker and/or lighter colored beers.  I stole a graphic from his book to help illustrate this point.

Speaking of beer and temperature, I just got back from a trip to the frozen mid-west to visit my in-laws.  It is a very small town but there is a small group of about 6 to 9 dedicated homebrewers there.  The day I arrived they had brewed 60 gallons of beer together and had bought a bourbon barrel to age it in.  It’s hard to find beer there beyond the usual Nascar beers, so the homebrew I tried was so good it reminded me why it is such a popular hobby.  It also made me realize how much I take for granted the awesome beer selection we have in the stores here compared to much of the country.  Not to mention that we have two award winning breweries in town, which makes life in Bellingham so much sweeter.  When we went to Iowa City to visit my brother in-law I got to have some of Goose Islands great IPA and some other mid-west beers.  Whenever I travel I love to try the local beers especially ones that I can’t get over here.
If all this talk of cold beer and cold weather is making you thirsty, you might want to sign up for my winter beer tasting class at the Bellingham Technical College on Sat. Feb. 19th.  We’ll be tasting some barley wines, strong ales and other winter warmers from local and abroad.  We had a great time at the last beer tasting class in January.  I’ll have one more beer tasting class in April which will focus on beer styles from Ireland, Scotland and England.  We’ll try iconic examples from their country of origin and then compare them to American examples, which I think will be every informative and fun to do.  I will also have one more beginner’s homebrewing class in April as well which has been well attended the last two times I’ve done it.  I know I’ve had a few people ask about a class on all-grain brewing but there are some logistical issues like class time that have kept it from happening so far.
Wherever you are, and whatever temperature you’re at, I hope you stay warm this winter sharing good beer with great company.  Cheers!
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More Paid “Hangover Days”

New Year’s is a kind of weird holiday.  When my wife worked in the corporate world she used to get half of New Year’s Eve off paid and all of New Year’s Day off paid.  Basically New Year’s Day is “Hangover Day” and nobody wants to work.  How would my boss feel if I walked in the office on March 17th and said, “I’m leaving early today to go out and drink heavily.  I want you to pay me for the rest of today, and tomorrow because I’ll be too hung over to work.”  If my boss complained I could play the discrimination card because it’s Saint Patrick’s day and that is how I celebrate my cultural heritage.  Why is New Year’s day a paid hangover day (for people who get paid holidays, that is) but the day after St.Patrick’s day and Cinco De Mayo aren’t?  I know a few people who’d never come to work if we got paid days off for hangovers.  I always thought it was weird that the precedent people want to set for their entire year is getting totally sloshed and waking up feeling miserable.  It’s no wonder that people make resolutions to cut back on their drinking the next day.

If you’ve made a resolution to drink better beer and/or to learn more about beer in 2011, please come join me at the Bellingham Technical College for some beer tastings.  On Jan.15th we’re doing an introduction to Craft Beer Tasting with food pairings.  February 22nd is a Winter Beer Tasting class with a number of local and imported strong ales, barley wines, and other winter warmers.  In April I will be teaching a beginner’s homebrew class again and a new Beer of the British Isles tasting class which should be really fun to do.  For more info on the classes check out our Bellingham’s Best Beer blog. Wishing you a very happy and healthy 2011, Cheers!

Editor’s Note: I was really hungover on New Year’s Day and was checking my email on my iPhone in one of the few Cafes open (Thank you for the coffee, Mount Bakery!). Anthony had just sent me this blog to post and a few things went through my mind. One was, “What the hell is Anthony doing writing a blog at 9am on New Year’s Day?” and “I wish I was getting paid today” and “Yep, I feel pretty stupid about starting my new year with a hangover”.  Then I forgot about posting his blog it until today. Sorry Anthony.

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I Still Play With Toys

I’m going to expose what a geek I am with this one.

I was a science major in college, I was a band nerd in high school, and as an adult I still play with trains.

Last year I found a box at my parent’s house with me and my father’s old train cars.  I had some space in my basement so I thought I’d try to set up a train layout.  I had no idea what I was doing so I attended some meetings of the local model train club at the Bellingham Railway Museum.  Some of the guys were going to Boundary Bay Brewery after the meeting so I joined them for a pint and some serious train talk.

Atlas Golden Spike Club Car 2010

They got pretty excited of the pictures of the old train station and round house that are hanging in the men’s bathroom here at the brewery.  I learned from the group that Atlas has a Golden Spike Club that makes a special car each year that is only available to the club members and this year it was going to be a Bellingham Bay Brewery 3-B boxcar.

I had to get one of these for Boundary Bay Brewery.  With some help from our social media guru Amy and the generosity of Atlas we got some of these train cars which are based on an actual historical photo of this car in front of the Bellingham Bay Brewery.  We traded one with the railroad museum for some track, an engine, and a caboose.  Now you’ll find our mini-train above the bar in our tap room.

the Bellingham Bay Brewery with the 3B traincar in front of it

Dale the museum historian brought us some photos of the old 3-B brewery, located around current Ohio street, and some pictures of Railroad ave. where Boundary Bay is now.  I’ve been fascinated with our local history ever since my Bellingham history class in third grade at Silver Beach Elementary.  It’s really fun for me to see pictures of Railroad avenue with trains on it, now the location of Boundary Bay Brewery, with our train on the bar with a historic replica of the 3-B train car.  It will be even more exciting next time we brew 3-B and have it on tap at the bar.

Bellingham Bay Brewery

In the meantime I’ll be working on my Beer/ Zombie apocalypse themed train layout six feet from my keggerator.  I’m looking for ideas of how to build HO scale (1:87)  hop and barley farms..

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Demystifying the Octo-filler among other things…

I’ve always enjoyed giving tours of our brewery, answering questions about our beer, and explaining what our equipment is. Over the years I’ve noticed what most people ask about so I thought I’d demystify the brewery today talk about some of our equipment. I have to point out that every brewery’s equipment is different so don’t be surprised if you tour another brewery and things don’t look the same.

The Tap Room

The first thing that people see when they look through the glass of our tap room into the brewery is the mash tun. Our mash tun is a new upgrade from our old one and is much more efficient. Mashing is basically a process where natural enzymes that exist in the malted barley breaks down long carbohydrate chains into smaller sugars that will later be consumed by yeast to create alcohol. You’ll notice the bottom of the tank is a screen where we’ll rinse (or sparge) the sugars out of the grain and into the kettle. Our new mash tun has rakes that stir up the malt as we mash in and also help us empty the tun out when we are done. We load the used grain into trash cans and then dump it into a large grain bin out back. The spent grain goes to local dairy farmers as feed.

Our first brewing system being loaded into the brewery. Copyright 1995

Automated raking system

Our kettle is a little different than some other ones in that we have the “Power Flame” that burns natural gas and blows it through a coil to heat the wort (beer before it’s fermented), Many breweries have steam jacketed kettles that surround the kettle in steam heating it up. As the wort is boiled on our power flame coil it gets pretty baked on so we have to climb inside our kettle everyday and scrub it by hand. So if you are having a pint in the tap room and see one of us climbing into the kettle with a bucket you know that we are done brewing for the day and are getting in to scrub the coil.


Our fermentors and bright tanks have two layers of stainless steel with glycol jackets in between for temperature control. We have to clean and sanitize them between each brew, luckily we don’t have to climb inside these ones. There is a large spray ball on the ceiling which allows us to recirculate our cleaning chemicals. The door to the tank is called a “man way” and you can see inside this bright tank that there is a racking arm and a stone as well. The racking arm is curved and can swing up and down which is important during transfers. We don’t filter our beer at any point in the process to when we transfer beer from a fermentor to a bright tank we put a glass sight tube on the outside of the racking arm and we can see what is coming out of the tank. We’ll move the arm up or down to get as much beer out as possible while leaving the yeast behind in the fermentor. The stone on the bright tank allows us to adjust the carbonation level of the beer. We measure this with the Zahm. Zahm and Nagel is the brand name for a device that measures the dissolved CO2 in the beer. It probably has a more technical name but we just call it the Zahm, just like the Brits call all vacuums “Hoovers.”

Our ferment tanks

Our bright tanks

The Octo-filler

I used to fill kegs one at a time by placing a custom made filler in the bung hole of the keg. Now we have the “Octo-filler” made by our own Adam Lent, that lets me fill eight kegs at a time. This is much faster than our old system but it can be a challenge to keep track of eight kegs at once. Kegs are purged and pressurized with CO2 before filling, then sealed with a wooden bung that says the beer style, batch number, and keg date. No, Beavis and Butthead did not invent the word “bung hole.”

Speaking of bung holes, our  Munzinger Bung Extractor, manufactured in 1934, is the oldest piece of equipment in the brewery, but is a fairly new addition. When I started out as a keg washer at the brewery, I used to use one of Skip’s old hockey goalie gloves along with a  chisel and hammer to remove bungs. We still have that glove and if you ever smelled it you would understand why we got the Munzinger, not to mention that it is much faster.

The old fashioned way

The new, but still old fashioned way

Thanks for reading. If you are interested in taking a tour of the brewery, give us a call at the brewery at 360-647-5593. Cheers!

Categories: Beer, Brewing, Brewing equipment, Homebrewing, Toward Zero Waste | 1 Comment

Brewmaster’s Dinner at Semiahmoo

This last week I had the great fortune to have some great food with our beer.  On Thursday I went to a brewer’s night at the Trainwreck pub in Burlington which has great burgers with hand-cut fries and their own jalapeño ketchup.  We ordered some jalapeño popper appetizers, not those frozen fried guys, but fresh hand-made, wrapped in bacon.  It’s weird because jalapeños are usually not that spicy but we were all feeling the heat from these ones.  It might have been more intense by all the Boundary Bay IPA I was drinking because hoppy beers can make spicy food taste hotter.

Friday I attended the third of three brew master dinners at Semiahmoo Resort.  Each course was paired with and/or cooked with Boundary Bay beer by their talented head chef Andy Dixon.  There were three appetizers all paired with ESB. They were all great but I think my favorite was the profiteroles filled with beer braised short ribs, chantrelle mushrooms and roasted shallots.  I gotta say though, that I don’t eat oysters and I had two of these poached with cheddar-beer fondue and gratined with Berkshire bacon.  The bacon is what really sold me.

The first dinner courses were also eye openers for me.  I was always a little picky since I was a kid. I’ve never liked dark meat or eating fat, skin or meat on the bone.  That said, I’ve never been a big fan of duck, as it is usually dark and pretty fatty.  The duck confit was delicious with the meat in thin strips on top of comte cheese and mizuna greens.  So, two foods in a row that I usually wouldn’t eat, but really enjoyed, and they went well with the beers paired with them.  The next dinner course was exciting for me because I had never had sturgeon before. I was surprised by this meaty fish.  Chef Andy really impressed me with this well thought out dish and pairing.   The sturgeon was served on a bed of Beluga lentils that resembled caviar and a curry cream sauce.  It was paired with Boundary’s IPA and I liked how he paired an English curry (with Indian influence) with an English beer style (again with an Indian connection).  So it impressed me on two levels. Not only was it well thought out and clever, but it also tasted great.  That would have been the high note for me if it wasn’t for the next course, which I think was most people’s favorite.  The malted beef tenderloin was a chocolate malt encrusted fillet with rogue bleu cheese on top.  Underneath this beautiful tender meat was a bed of roasted acorn squash and a wort infused demi.  We had to find an extra plate and split it up between us at my table because we loved this so much.  It was paired with Imperial Oatmeal Stout which might sound like a big heavy beer but it worked on several levels with this dish.  Imperial oatmeal stout goes well with creamy bleu cheeses and it also went well with the chocolate malt encrusted around the tenderloin.  Dessert was a caramelized fig tart paired with Old Bounder Barley wine, which was a nice way to finish up the night.  Well done Chef Andy!

Beer pairs well with food just as well as wine, and many times it pairs better.  A great resource if you are interested in pairing beer and cheese is a chart made by the Brewer’s Association:
Cheers and Bon Appetit!
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We ate all the cheese & drank all the beer

This last month I taught my first craft beer tasting class and my second homebrewing class at the Bellingham Technical College. First of all I want to apologize to the people who missed the tasting class due to the date change. Secondly, I want to sincerely thank everyone who came to both classes. I’m glad that there are so many people in Bellingham who are so beer-centric. I am going to take a break from the homebrewing class this Winter quarter and come back in the Spring. This Winter I’m working with the college right now to do two tasting classes, the “Introduction to Craft Beer Styles Tasting” and a “Winter Beer Tasting.

The tasting class went pretty well but I think next time will be even better. We started with a Kolsch and Pilsner from Chuckanut Brewery that were very tasty. From Boundary Bay Brewery we had ESB, Scotch Ale, IPA, Imperial Oatmeal Stout, and Old Bounder. I meant to replace one of those with a beer from the North Fork Brewery, but didn’t get my act together. Next time I will make sure to make that happen. Finishing it all off was a Kriek Lambic (cheery sour beer) from Belgium. Most of the beers had food paired with them. My favorite was my wife’s lavender cookies with the IPA. I wanted to focus on locally made and/or available food and beer for two reasons. First of all, because I want to support local business. And because I didn’t want to offer hard to find beers. If people really liked them it would be frustrating for them to know that they can’t get them in town.

I bought the cheese and kriek at my local Haggen’s, though I would like to get the cheese at Quell Fromage next time. I got the deli meat from Old World Deli and oh, man was it good. Thanks to Trevor Tomlinson at Old World for helping me make such difficult decisions. I also got Gouda cheese made in Ferndale along with apples and pears from Bellewood Acres. Sorry again to those who missed the class. I know it’s cruel to say this, but it was great having extra for the rest of us.

I had about three times as many people sign up for the introduction to homebrewing class this time around, which led to some changes in the class structure. Compared to the last class, this one was less hands on and more demonstration. But the goal remains the same. The class will help people get started brewing on their own at home. This time it went a little smoother and I had better timing than the last time around which meant everyone got to leave on time which was nice. Thank you to Nick Crandall for his help. I really couldn’t do it with out him. After talking about beer for three hours it was great to go home and enjoy one. If only the Huskies could have pulled out a victory that night, it would have been about a perfect day for me. Cheers!

I would love to get any feedback from anyone who took either class. You can comment on this blog or send me an email to: aastone(at)

Categories: Beer, Beer & Food Pairing, Brewing, Cheese, Homebrewing | 2 Comments

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