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Beer Tasting For Wine Fest Puts Newsroom To Test

Beer at a wine festival? Go figure.

By Carol Rock and Jon Dell

On Wednesday, the Loose Goose Wine Festival hosted a
specialty beer and food pairing lunch at Robinson Ranch in Canyon Country.

 

The event brought Stella Artois Master Beer Sommelier Marc
Stroobandt to Santa Clarita to guide a small group of people through a beer
experience that showed how to best drink different kinds of beer, which beer
flavors go well with particular food flavors, and how beer, like wine, can be
savored.

 

Not surprisingly, the entire staff at KHTS volunteered to
cover the event, but News Directors Carol Rock and Jon Dell felt it was their
job to shoulder their responsibility and took on the difficult task. Here are
their experiences.

 

 

Letting Loose

Jon Dell

 

Let me first acknowledge that I like beer. I like it a lot. I’m
more of a backyard barbecue type, who likes his beer to go down quick and be
refreshing, hence the Costco-sized case of domestic light beer in my fridge.

 

When I first heard about the beer and food pairing organized
by Loose Goose, I pictured a scientific, highbrow lesson of how us common folk
don’t understand how to properly imbibe.    

 

Instead, what I took from the experience was a feeling that,
while I love beer, I have never actually taken the time to enjoy beer.

 

Master Beer Sommelier Marc Stroobandt began the lunch with a
malted barley and wheat mix brew called Hoegaarden. He explained that a beer’s
foamy top serves a distinct purpose, and it should accompany every pour. The
foam, or “head” as it’s called, is intensely bitter and when a glass is tipped
towards the lips, the beer should fall through the head, picking up that bitter
flavor, creating balance as it reaches your mouth. To help coincide with the
flavors, a light salad was served of red leaf lettuce graced with giant prawns
and caramelized oranges. I got into the habit of alternating bite, sip, bite,
sip, doing my best to slow down, and really taste rather than consume.

 

The second course was a flat iron steak served with sweet
potato fries, along with a glass of full-bodied Stella Artois.
For dessert, we were treated to an apple strudel with a honey-laced beer called
Leffe Blond.  

 

Throughout each of the courses I found myself in a moment of
pause, actually understanding that I was tasting - something sweet, bitter, or
hearty. My flashbacks to wolfing down a sub sandwich in my car while driving
can’t help but paint a picture of how I’ve come to accept whatever is fast,
easy and on sale.

 

It seems to me now, after being forced to sit down and
concentrate on my palate, that enjoyment is the main theme of Loose Goose. The
upcoming wine festival isn’t as much about wine as it is about enjoying
something.

 

I think I needed to loosen up. Next time I reach for that
after work beer, I think I’ll pick out something more complex than the standard
domestic. I’ll pour it in a glass, turn off the T.V and actually sit down for a
moment.

 

Taking The Pale Out of the Ale, as opposed to Taking the Ale
Out of the Pail

By Carol Rock

 

I have to start by saying that I’m more a wine drinker than
a beer drinker, but firmly believe that nothing beats an ice-cold beer on a hot
day. Most of my beer-drinking is done when my son is visiting from the East
Coast and involves a) a beach, b) seafood, c) large crowds or d) all of the
above. OK, so maybe I drink more beer than I thought, but usually my alcohol
consumption involves drinking out of fluted glasses, not the original container.

 

I knew when Sommelier Stroobandt made a frowny face and the
gesture so familiar to me – that of holding one’s thumb over the top of a beer
bottle to shake in the lime – I was probably in trouble and in for a lesson.
Boy, was I right!

 

The first thing we did with this august group of media and
local chefs was to sniff our beer. Yes, we inhaled the delicate bouquet of a
fine blend of hops and wheat, first from a flat, wide water glass, then from a
goblet. What a difference – you can actually smell the different parts of the
beer if the drinking vessel physically mixes the aromas. It made me want the
beer in the goblet instead of just quaffing the one in the water glass.

 

Contrary to popular beliefs, Stroobandt taught us that the
head on a beer is desirable and, just like the “aha” moment I got in science
class when we mixed baking soda and vinegar, it now makes perfect sense to me
to filter the liquid of the brew through the effervescent creation gracing the
top of my beverage. I also learned not to rest the glass of the bottle against
the edge of my pilsner glass; rather, one should pour the beverage from about 3
or 4 inches above.

 

As we were led on the path of fermentation through our meal –
one of the best I’ve had in a long time, I might add, kudos to RR chefs – we
learned about blending flavors – citrus with citrus or seafood, heavier brews
with red meat and potatoes, slightly sweet with pastry. It made perfect sense
and better yet, might make me choose a beer to wash down my lunch, something I
would not have done before.

 

Bottom line, just as both festival guru Peter Goosens and
Stroobandt emphasized, the whole thing is personal enjoyment. Wednesday’s
exercise helped expand my horizons and introduced me to a whole new way of
looking at beer. I won’t stop drinking wine, but I might not be as quick to
grab a beer in one hand and lime in the other. That might insult a faraway
Belgian who spent his life making his best for my friends and I to drink.

 

At any rate, it’s all about enjoyment, so here’s some
information on the Loose Goose Wine Festival:

 

Where: Bridgeport Park,
23520 Bridgeport Lane, off Newhall
Ranch Road between Bouquet
Canyon Road and McBean
Parkway

When: Saturday, Oct. 4 from 5-10
p.m.

            Sunday,
Oct. 5 from 1-5 p.m.

Entertainment: Saturday – CRUSH, playing hip, edgy music
from 7-10 p.m.

            Sunday –
Pete Escovedo Orchestra headlining the afternoon

What to Do: Sample offerings from 100 domestic and
international wineries, try one of three Belgian beers, visit luxury vendors,
enjoy food and wine-focused demonstrations presented in an Old World European
setting.

Why: A portion of festival proceeds benefit the Henry Mayo
Newhall Memorial Health Foundation and the Brenda Mehling Cancer Fund.

Who: Age 21 and over only, please!