Archive for the ‘beer’ Category

Overheard at J. Clyde…

Friday, November 12th, 2010

“Beer makes me pregnant.” – unknown

Beery Birmingham…

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

One of the reasons I love Birmingham.. This is the menu for the J. Clyde beer dinner I’m about to tuck into…


Your admin is a major slacker…

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

I’ve been meaning to put this video up for quite some time. It’s a segment done by The Happy Hour Guys a few months ago when they visited my neighborhood pub, J. Clyde. (Of course, your Random Ham admin makes a few appearances.) Too bad the reforms Stuart mentions died in the 2010 legislative session.

Yeah….so that’s not the only thing I’ve slacked on. Seems I have some pics of some PETA folks snogging in 41 degree weather. Still need to get those up, since there’s been a request for them.

Beer good….beer dinner better!

Monday, May 24th, 2010

A bit late with this post, as I wanted nothing more last night than to pass out and sleep off a good meal. J. Clyde hosted a beer dinner featuring Good People brews. The J. Clyde beer dinners are always good- but this one was even better, as Good People is the local brewery- and one I like very much. The dinner was also a fund raiser for Junior Achievement of Birmingham. It all started off very well, soon as I walked through the door. I had been inside for mere seconds when I was offered a Good People Wild IPA.

I love IPAs, and it was a fabulous warm up. Once the dinner started, we had some good opening words from J. Clyde owner Jerry Hartley, whose mind, heart, and palate always seem to be int he right place. He apologized for not being a good speaker, but he definitely was, and always is.

Jerry hartley

Next up was Good People’s head brewer, Jason Malone. He’s a guy I sometimes find very intense in his focus, but it’s not the sort of intensity that intimidates. But every now and again, he pops out for a bit, cracks a great smile, and says something grand. He’s a great guy, who makes some great beers.

Jason Malone

All of the beer was good- and so was all of the food. But this salad was quite a highlight for a few people there…


When it was all over, we were all stuffed to the gills. J. Clyde staffer James tried to humorously show it, and wound up looking like a creepy old pregnant woman!


I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. If you’ve never been to a J. Clyde beer dinner, you need to get to one!

Lots O’ Ham Ahead….

Friday, May 21st, 2010

If you’re in the greater Birmingham megalopolis this weekend, there’s lots on tap. First, the events that started today, and continue all weekend:

      Imagicon is on at The McWane Center, Old Car Heaven, and a few other locations. It’s a sci-fi and fantasy con featuring performances, parties, and workshops on a variety of things ranging from anime to costuming to…..hard science! I hope to drop by to gawk at the guys dressed as Lord Vader, who are passing out form the high heat we’re expecting this weekend.

That’s hardly everything this weekend, though….

      Saturday night after barber I hope to stop by to see the Tragic City Rollers take on the Columbia Quad Squad. It’s been a while since I went to a roller derby bout, and hopefully, this time I won’t arrive an hour late like I did last time.

So…if you’re not in the ‘Ham this weekend, you should be!

Good people on the move.

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

I had a chance to stop by Good People Brewing Company (the name is no accident) on Saturday. I was there for a small, informal beer tasting to celebrate my friend Joseph’s birthday. The tasting turned out to be in two locations, as GPBC is on the move. This is the current brewery, below street level in Five Points South (complete with Free The Hops president Stuart Carter jokingly scolding Joseph):

No more snorting the yeast, young man....

We didn’t get past two beers before we went on the move to the future location of GPBC, which is down by Railroad Park. Note that it’s just slightly larger, and this picture doesn’t even take it all in.


Joseph found a tricycle, and took off with a sack full of world-class beers in tow.


He eventually came back, and we sampled the brews. We also got to try a beer GPBC hasn’t yet rolled out. Hopefully, you’ll get to try it soon. The move is in two weeks or so- and after that, I expect some really big things from the brewery. GPBC has blown away lots of people already, and it just keeps getting better.

Let the stereotypes commence….

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Beer & Irish music together, who’da thunk it? I went down to J. Clyde tonight to lead a beer tasting (thanks for all the kind words, folks!), and at the end ran into something I hadn’t expected. My friends Jill & Dan were out front jamming with a violinist on some Irish tunes. I knew some folks came down for sessions regularly, but I didn’t realize it was always on Wednesday evenings. Unfortunately, they leave before I generally get there around 11. I’ll have to take more Wednesdays off. :)

Jill & Dan jam

Happy hour got a little happier.

Monday, January 18th, 2010

I got off early today, and decided to pop in to J. Clyde, only to see someone interviewing my friend, Free The Hops president Stuart Carter. When they were done, I struck up a conversation with the guy, who turned out to be Jimmy Ludwig of The Happy Hour Guys (below, in a really crappy cell phone picture).

Jimmy of The Happy Hour Guys

I got on well with Jimmy and his photographer, (the stat guy) Jeff. Over the next two and a half hours or so, they talked extensively with me and my friend Joseph about all sorts of things related to beer, breweries, mead, the craziness of our state legislature, and much more. A couple of times during our chat, Jeff turned the camera on us while Jimmy conducted short (and fun) interviews on a variety of topics. Look for Joseph and myself to appear in The Happy Hour Guys in a few weeks, if our craziness doesn’t earn us a spot on the cutting room floor! It was good to make these new friends, and the friendships will hopefully continue!

Jimmy and Jeff have an interesting gig: right now, they’re both in the cast of the traveling production of The 101 Dalmatians, and in their spare time they visit pubs to meet the locals and talk beer. (Sounds like a life I could enjoy.) Tomorrow morning, they’re off to Nashville- but hopefully, they’ll be back in Birmingham soon!

The beer world comes full circle.

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

You may remember that in October, I posted a picture of the U.S. Army’s CPT Daniel Reid, who was standing near the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan, wearing his Free The Hops t-shirt. Saturday night in Hoover, I went to the FTH Christmas party, and was honored to meet the man in person. It turns out we are both fans of Greg Mortenson, and had a good chat about him and his work. Even cooler than that- in the dirty Santa (fueled by beer….it was FTH, after all) CPt Reid wound up with the bottle of Dark Lord Imperial Stout I’d placed in the ring. He plans to open it new year’s eve in Times Square. Sounds like a pretty good plan to me.

Politics & pints.

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

I’d intended to leave politics off the blog, so I won’t dwell on this. Today, Birmingham’s mayor was convicted on all 60 counts in a bribery indictment. I say this to the people who live outside the metro. Those inside already know, and have their opinions of Mr. Langford. Now, our council President moves into the role of interim mayor. It all changes in a month or so when the new council is sworn in. Prepare for a fun ride.

Now, on to the beer and the food….

I had a lovely evening tonight down at J. Clyde tonight for the SweetWater beer dinner to benefit Black Warrior Riverkeeper. If you’ve never been to a J. Clyde beer dinner, you should. However, now that they’re just quarterly, you won’t have as many opportunities.

Here’s what we had tonight:

SweetWater Motor Boat & Corn Chowder with Caramelized Sea Scallops
A fabulous way to start the 5-course dinner! The Motor Boat is a little darker than amber, with a hoppy aroma. There’s not as much hop in the flavour- but combining it with the scallops and the sweet fresh corn in the chowder really brought it out. Very nice pairing.

SweetWater 420 & Asian Egg Roll with Fresh Gulf Shrimp drizzled with a 420-honey reduction
I’d always associated 420 with fabric softener. That’s because the first time I had it, I was sitting outside my building’s laundry room as someone was washing their unmentionables. (Kidding about the unmentionables. Not sure what was in there.) This course may cure me of that.

420 has a light character with a bit of hops, but not too much. That played a nice counterpoint to the reduction sauce, which had darker, richer flavours going on (and still a good soy nose). It also paired well with the fresh Asian-style vegetables in the egg roll. They were cooked to the point where they still had some firmness- perfect. The single shrimp pn the side of the dish also brought out a nice sweet orange-like overtone in the beer.

SweetWater IPA & Okra Salad over mixed greens and shoepeg corn tossed in a Honey Lime Dressing
SweetWater IPA is easily my favourite in their regular lineup. The grapefruit-like overtones and the hop bitterness appeals to the hophead in me.

This was one of the most complex pairings of the night. First, I tucked in to the salad. The honey and lime played well together. When the fresh (grassy even) greens and the sweetness of the dressing met the beer, it turned the flavour a little spicy and almost woody. The light sweetness of the corn was a nice element, but the red beans were a little distracting. The okra (which was thankfully not overdone) had darker flavours, and a wonderful peppery overtone. For such a different flavour from the greens, it also brought out a remarkable sweet and spicy flavour when it met the beer.

SweetWater Georgia Brown & Soy Honey Tilapia served with Alabama grown Sweet Potato mash
I am not a huge fan of nut brown ales. I appreciate their sweetness and their sessionability. They just don’t really have enough zing for me, for I am a hophead. For me to really enjoy them, they need a pairing like this.

The Georgia Brown starts off with a nice hazelnut quality, then morphs to dark caramel and hits a quick hop highlight before the caramel returns to close the deal. Drink it with the pleasantly slightly lumpy potato mash, and all bets are off. It gives you a wonderful pumpkin pie effect. The caramelized grilly-bits of the fish also went well with the mash- but overall, the tilapia didn’t meld at all with the beer. The two flavours were wallflowers at the dance on my palate. Neither would ask the other to waltz. In the autumn of this dish, the fish was summer. That’s not to say it was bad fish; it was certainly not. On the contrary, it was very tasty- but just didn’t fit in.

SweetWater Dank Tank Big Ol’ Belgian Blue Balls & Native American Rice Pudding with golden raisins, dried blueberries, and a Maple butter rum sauce
First off, the native American dish was made by a Canadian. (I know….before the Europeans arrived, even the pre-Canucks were native Americans.) I wanted to sing Oh, Canada! when this arrived at the table. But we’ll start with the beer.

There’s a nice sweet blueberry aroma on the Blue Balls (combined with a brown sugar note), but it’s mostly absent in the flavour. That’s sweet, caramel-y, with a hint of citrus, and a distinct Belgian overtone. The pudding looked like oatmeal with big dark spots. :) The aroma reminded me of bread pudding and oatmeal. The flavour was a little darker than some of the rice pudding I’ve had. It was interspersed with bursts of flavour from the berries, which had reconstituted. I’m not entirely sure there were any raisins. The sauce was mostly maple, with a lurking hint of rum. The highlight for me was the texture- with rice that was almost al dente, a pleasing graininess to the sauce, and a nice smoothness to the blueberry innards. The beer pairing didn’t bring an overwhelming change to the flavours, but did lighten up the beer, and really bring out its yeasty Belgian goodness.

After all that, maybe you can understand why I advise you to get yourself to J. Clyde for the next beer dinner. It’s in February, and there may be a very special guest!