Monday, July 25, 2011

Beer of the Month - July

The beer of the month for July is Bitburger Braugruppe's Premium Beer {4.8% abv}. Before our European vacation took place on July 6th, I went to a local beer store and picked out a few new brews to try out. One of my pick-ups was Bitburger Premium Beer. When you see package marketing stating #1 Beer from the exporting country (Germany in this case), you typically take it with a grain of salt and move on; Fosters has been advertised as the biggest Aussie beer ever, in the US, but if you were to ask an Australian about good local beers Fosters would never come up. Now I understand there are probably twice as many beer varieties and brewers in Germany as there are music bands, but the point is Bitburger had a strong presence when we visited Germany this Summer. While in Nürburg, staying at the Dorint hotel, the in house restaurant had Bitburger Premium on draft.

Bitburger, as the biggest draft beer supplying company in Germany, understandably has a history as deep as the day is long. First origins of the now stout Bitburger Braugruppe go back to 1817 with the starting of a small brewery by Johann Peter Wallenborn. Over several generations, the company continued to change hands between descendants of Johann and continued to grow in popularity, even outside of its native Bitburg, Germany. Fast forward to 1909, Bitburger started selling one of their first pilsner brews (Original Simonbräu German Pilsener) and later secured a fresh water well which is still key to the quality of their products today. During WWII, Bitburg was bombed and the brewery was just about destroyed. Once the war was over, the three brothers who owned the company, Theobald, Hanns and Bert Simon rebuilt the factory. Bitburger flourished and by 1978, they were exporting their full-bodied brew to the United States.

Getting home to compare the US-purchased Bitburger Premium Beer, to the lovely drafts I had in Nürburg, Germany was definitely interesting. Anyone who's had a good beer in the bottle then had it on draft (or vice versa) knows there's a different feel to the draft due to carbonation levels amongst other things. In this case I was comparing a bottled export to draft in its home country. I won't go as far as saying the difference was night and day, but they varied noticeably. That said, Bitburger Premium Beer in the bottle is incredibly smooth, with refined carbonation and a great hoppy orchestra performing for your palette. This beer is light blonde in color and is a great drinking beer for the full-bodied hop connoisseur. Think of it as a better Heineken with less bitterness. Rather than 12oz bottles, six packs of Bitburger come in 1/3 liter (11.2oz) bottles. This makes little difference when it comes to enjoying a cold one. 2.5 stars.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Green Thumb Season 2 - Ep. 3

First pepper harvest.

Another few weeks have gone by and we've kept pretty consistent with watering; the cucumbers still require the lions share of water per day, to keep up with production, and there are a few things that have now become quite clear. For one, I don't know how to look for cucumbers. When I was showing pictures of all those mini cucumbers previously, I was unaware of some hidden ones well on their way to maturity. One major reason for this oversight was me assuming all the tiny cucumbers would mature simultaneously. This ideal wasn't proven incorrect until recently as the the larger cucumbers weren't very easy to see...and there is a very good reason for that. Cucumbers need shade to grow, but need a ton of sun to fuel said growth. As these two plants found their directions to grow from the pot, the leaves dispersed from a central position and followed the outstretching vines that developed. In these heavily shaded areas where the leaves grew, a few cucumbers began receiving the majority of nutrients the plants created. Thus it seems only about three or four large cucumbers will be on pace for harvest at any given time. The large cucumbers Beth found while I was on the road, not too long ago, were hanging off the back of the pots, out of the sun. The first cucumber picked was pretty damn large (Finkle and Einhorn large), and since then three more large cucumbers have made it off the vine and into salads. Oh and a couple were specially delivered to my father-in-law as he enjoys them quite a bit.

The peppers have come a long ways over the last few weeks as well. The Yummy, Thai Hot and Italian Sweet peppers have finally began to flower and as of Independence Day weekend all have at least one pepper growing. We've already snagged about three Jalapenos from the stud of the group and they've all been spicy as advertised. With our trip overseas we've figured out a solution for watering needs over the two weeks we're absent; the help of family via spare keys ha.
Week 7:

Week 8:

Week 9:

In prep for the trip we've taken three large cucumbers (we're now up to 7 harvested) off so they don't lose their luster; apparently if you let cucumbers stay on until the spikes fall off (and turn yellow) the flavor goes out the window. As you can see from the last shot from weeks 8 and 9, the curly cucumber didn't take more than a couple days to grow noticeably larger from when the other cucumbers were picked. You can also see the Thai Hot peppers growing significantly from weeks 8 to 9; multiple peppers are growing vertically and some should turn red once mature. The Yummy and Italian Sweet peppers are finally showing several small fruit growing simultaneously, on each. When we return ~17 days would've passed. Hopefully we'll have a plethora of peppers to cook with. For those of you interested, all the green thumb Season 2 shots are uploaded here, in order of old to current. I typically skip over shots (including week 6) for composition purposes. Until next time.

Capturing Life's Fabric with Technology.