Friday, July 30, 2010

More Handmade Weblog Craftmanship From the Online Artisan.

Pretension and craft beer. That's what's bothering me these days, as we toddle from coast to coast. And suddenly, it seems, even the word craft is too low-brow for some folks. Now it's all artisanal. I guess the difference is that artisanal beers are made by artisans instead of craftspeople. Got it?

By the way, it's a word used by one of the better up-and-coming brewers in the country, Brian Strumke of Stillwater Artisanal Ales in Baltimore. I guess that makes Brian an artisan. Anyway, his Stateside Saison is over there in that far, tiny, excellent corner of the bell curve when it comes to American-made interpretations of the style. It avoids excessive spiciness while going hoppy, dry and unique. So he gets to use whatever word he wants.

The Stateside was half of our favorite pairing during a five-course tasting dinner the Missus and I inhaled at Birch & Barley last week in DC. The other half of the pairing was corn-stuffed tortellini with crab. (Another winner was the goat's milk cheesecake with tart Ommegang Zuur, which is something like a Duvel-revived Liefman's old brown sold via Cooperstown.)

Anyway. Crab. The other great feast of the week was decidedly low-brow, but no less fun. All-we-could-eat crustaceans at Ernie's Original Crab House in Alexandria, Va. Knives and hammers and lots of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, which was the only craft option there. Something about that zesty Cascade aroma made for a perfect union with the Old Bay... Lots and lots of salty Old Bay, which days later still coarses through my blood stream and is stuck in my nostrils.

I can't say the saison-tortellini pairing was any better than Sierra Nevada and Old Bay crabs. It wasn't any worse either. There are lots of ways to have fun. It's nice to have options.


  1. Wow. I have a Zuur that I picked up close to Cooperstown a couple of weeks ago. Time to drink it.

  2. Just been to NY for the annual craft beer week, and got the chance to try Stillwater brews at an event. I remembered you wrote a post about it, and I totally agree: Stateside Saison is absolutely delicious.