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AboutDavid Nilsen, Author at PorchDrinking.com

Posts By David Nilsen

Bean to Barstool Podcast | Defining “Craft” with Clay Gordon

July 3, 2024 |

There might not be a more loaded term in beer and chocolate than “craft.” What does it mean, who gets to use it, and who gets to decide who does or doesn’t fall under its umbrella? Is craft about size and ownership? Is it about processes and ingredients? Is it some other ineffable quality? There is no perfect answer, and the parameters and stakes are different for both beer and chocolate, but it’s a fascinating topic for discussion.

In this episode David Nilsen talks with Clay Gordon, one of the most respected names in the world of craft chocolate, to discuss the meaning of craft, how the term’s usage and meaning differ in the beer and chocolate worlds, how tasting and judging have influenced beer and chocolate differently, and, toward the end, how we both approach chocolate pairings with beer and other beverages.

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Hop Seasons | What Happens at a Small Hop Farm Throughout the Year

June 28, 2024 |

In the year-long agricultural cycle of beer’s main ingredients, hop harvest gets all the glory. Fresh hop and wet hop beers fill shelves and taplists every fall, a celebration of craft beer’s trendiest ingredient. Brewers flock to the Pacific Northwest (or their local hop yard) to evaluate the season’s best lots and choose hops for the coming year. Most of our “seasonal” beer styles today are nods to tradition rather than agricultural dictate, but these beers are different, a hold out from a time when brewing schedules and beer styles were guided by the growing calendar.

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Bean to Barstool Podcast | Moksa Brewing’s Pastry Stouts with Cory Meyer

June 26, 2024 |

Moksa Brewing in Rocklin, California (just outside Sacramento), is one of the country’s most prolific and best producers of Pastry Stouts. These usually high alcohol and high gravity Stouts use ingredients like cacao, coffee, vanilla, and others to recreate the flavors of beloved desserts or create whole new flavor concepts. Moksa’s Pastry Stouts are indulgent but precise.

In this episode we talk with Moksa head brewer Cory Meyer about how he works with cacao, vanilla, and other adjunct ingredients, how he sources single origin examples, and how the Moksa team comes up with the concepts for these dessert beers.

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Bean to Barstool Podcast | Bonus: All About Malt

June 19, 2024 |

Hops get a lot of buzz from beer lovers because of their expressive, fruity aromas and flavors, but malt is really the foundational ingredient of beer. You can technically brew beer without hops (though all commercial examples contain them), but you can’t brew it without malted grain, and the different malt varieties offer a dazzling rainbow of potential colors, aromas, flavors, and textures for building a new beer. So what is malt, how is it made, how is it used in brewing, and what flavors and characteristics does it provide for beer? In this bonus episode, we talk all about malt.

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Bean to Barstool Podcast | How to Host a Beer & Chocolate Pairing at Home

May 29, 2024 |

Bean to Barstool host David Nilsen’s new book Pairing Beer & Chocolate: A Guide to Bringing the Flavors of Craft Beer and Craft Chocolate Together is out now. In honor of the release, David talks in this latest episode of Bean to Barstool about how to host a beer and chocolate pairing at home. How do you plan it, how do you guide the event itself, and how do you give your friends a memorable evening with beer and chocolate? We’ve got you covered.

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Growing Change: Small Growers Adapt to a Shifting Craft Beer Market

May 28, 2024 |

Craft beer grew at an impressive rate in the decade preceding the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, from 1,813 U.S. breweries in 2010 to 9,092 in 2020, according to the Brewers Association. As it grew, it pulled a number of supporting industries up with it, perhaps most notably small-scale ingredient growers and suppliers. The number of small hop farms in the U.S. increased from 68 in 2007 to 817 in 2017 (according to figures published by Penn State University), and member count of the Craft Maltsters Guild grew from eight companies when the guild was founded in 2013 to 67 by 2022.

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Bean to Barstool Podcast | One Cacao Tree with Raven Hanna

May 8, 2024 |

Raven Hanna lives on the big island of Hawai’i, and her backyard is a picture of what most of us see when we hear the phrase tropical paradise. She has a PhD in molecular biophysics and biochemistry, and she loves science, but she also loves her senses, and the opportunity to immerse herself in the natural world. Her book One Cacao Tree: Backyard Cocoa, Tiny Fermentations, and Chocolate Making in the Tropics is an accessible, tangible guide to every step of cacao’s journey, from growing to fermenting, grinding to tempering.

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Mixed Results: How Sour Ale Producers Make the Numbers Work

May 6, 2024 |

Mixed-fermentation, long-aged sours are among the most prestigious styles in all of beer. The esoteric flavors and lore of Belgian Lambic styles have inspired countless American brewers to look beyond conventional fermentations in search of mystery and glory. It’s an expensive but esteemed branch of brewing, and one upon which many reputations have been built. The only problem? Hardly anyone seems to be buying these beers anymore.

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Bean to Barstool Podcast | Somerville Chocolate & Aeronaut Brewing

April 17, 2024 |

In this episode of Bean to Barstool, we’re looking at a fascinating collaboration between a craft chocolate maker and a craft brewery. Eric Parkes at Somerville Chocolate is a tenant in Aeronaut Brewing’s building in Somerville, Massachusetts, so he makes chocolate just a short distance from where brewmaster Mark Bowers and Director of Brewing Operations Filipe Garcia are brewing beer. This has allowed for an ongoing creative exchange between these worlds, yielding unique beers made with cacao and unique chocolate bars made with beer, brewing ingredients, and cacao and other ingredients that have been first used to make beer. The relationship has allowed for creative experimentation and mutual education. In this interview, Eric, Mark, Filipe, and host David Nilsen discuss the benefits of this arrangement and look in detail at the beers and chocolate bars that have come from it.

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Bean to Barstool Podcast | Nick Davis of Jamaica’s One One Cacao

April 3, 2024 |

Nick Davis makes bean to bar chocolate at One One Cacao on the northeast coast of Jamaica. The cacao trade on the island has been tainted by a colonial past of slavery and oppression, but is now being reclaimed as farmers and makers take back agency. Nick shares his thoughts on the good and bad of inclusions, the challenges and opportunities in Jamaican cacao and chocolate, the historical and modern impacts of colonialism on both, and how making chocolate has allowed him to reclaim some of his family’s story and power that had been taken by that colonial harm. I’m so grateful to Nick for his time and his insights, and I think you’re going to enjoy this conversation as well.

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Bean to Barstool Podcast | TCHO Chocolate’s Relationship to Craft Beer

March 20, 2024 |

Today we’re talking with Brad Kintzer, the chocolate maker at TCHO Chocolate in Berkeley, California. In our conversation, we discuss TCHO’s corporate ownership, how they source their cacao, and the flavor labs TCHO has established in many cacao growing regions to work with growers on a mutually-informed flavor lexicon for chocolate and to improve quality.

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Bean to Barstool Podcast | Mushrooms in Beer and Chocolate

March 13, 2024 |

Mushrooms aren’t the first ingredient we usually think of for flavoring beer or chocolate, but many craft brewers and craft chocolate makers are using different species to create unique flavor experiences and, in some cases, provide unexpected health benefits. In today’s episode, we talk all about using mushrooms in beer and chocolate.

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Bean to Barstool Podcast | Luke Owen Smith Talks with Phoebe Preuss of Living KoKo

February 21, 2024 |

In this episode of the Bean to Barstool beer and chocolate podcast, New Zealand beer and chocolate journalist Luke Owen Smith interviews Phoebe Preuss of Living KoKo. They talk about Living KoKo’s relationship with Samoan cacao farmers and cacao supplier Savai’i Koko. They also discuss Penina, Living KoKo’s non-alcoholic chocolate beer brewed in collaboration with Brewicolo and made with cacao and hopped with Citra, Amarillo and Ekuanot hops.

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Roasty & Alcohol-Free | Brewing Non-Alcoholic Stouts

January 26, 2024 |

While Stouts and other dark beer styles can be enjoyed any time of year, their comforting roast flavors of chocolate, coffee, toast, and burnt caramel provide a cozy accompaniment to the winter season. Many non-alcoholic (NA) producers are brewing NA Stouts both as seasonal releases and year-round core offerings. Brewing these styles without alcohol presents unique production challenges.

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Bean to Barstool Podcast | Learning/Unlearning: Agronomist Sarah Bharath on Unlearning What We Think We Know

January 24, 2024 |

I never come away from a conversation with cacao agronomist Sarah Bharath without learning something, and it’s probably because Sarah never comes away from anything without learning. Her curiosity and excitement to learn drive the very important work she does working with cacao farmers to better understand the ecosystems of their cacao farms, how to work with the land and its resident microbes, and how to adapt fermentation practices to a changing environment and climate. For Sarah, learning and teaching form a symbiotic relationship, each thriving best in the other’s company. Cacao lavado is a great example (more on that in a bit).

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Bean to Barstool Podcast | All About Vanilla

January 10, 2024 |

Vanilla is a very familiar flavor for most of us. It’s so ubiquitous, in fact, that the word is used as a pejorative for anything that is commonplace and mundane. But that’s not being fair to this fascinating tropical spice, which can display a wide range of expressive aromas and flavors, and can be used in unique ways throughout world cuisine. In North America and Europe, it’s mostly associated with desserts, pastries, and other sweet treats, to the point that vanilla is often taken to be sweet on its own. That assumption is turned upside down in many other global food traditions however, in which vanilla can be used in savory or spicy dishes. Its heady but gentle profile allows it to work in support of a variety of other flavors.

And it’s of interest to this podcast because vanilla is used so extensively in craft chocolate and, often, in craft beer as well.

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Bean to Barstool Podcast | Favorite Beers & Chocolates of 2023

December 20, 2023 |

Today’s episode is a look back at my favorite beers and chocolates of 2023. You’ll also hear from several friends and colleagues in the beer and chocolate worlds who share their own favorites from the last year as well.

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Sierra Nevada Enters Non-Alcoholic Craft Beer with Trail Pass

December 15, 2023 |

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company is entering the growing non-alcoholic (NA) beer space with their new Trail Pass series, which hits shelves this month with two initial beers: Golden and IPA. The iconic brewery known for standard alcoholic brands like Pale Ale, Celebration Ale, and Hazy Little Thing debuted their new NA offerings at Denver’s Great American Beer Festival in September, and expects the beers to hit shelves across their full distribution footprint by the beginning of January.

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Bean to Barstool Podcast | Adam Krantz of Monsoon Chocolate

December 6, 2023 |

Monsoon Chocolate is making bean to bar chocolate in the desert climate of Tucson, Arizona. It’s not a region we might think of as a hotspot for craft chocolate, but as founder Adam Krantz explains, the southwest has a strong historical claim to cacao, and he wanted to honor that heritage while also pushing the boundaries of flavor with unique regional ingredients like chiltepin chilis or mesquite.

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What They Do Best | Funkytown Brewery Is Crafting Dreams

November 27, 2023 |

Funkytown Brewery founders Rich Bloomfield, Zack Day and Greg Williams met in 4th grade in Chicago and grew up together. They went to historically Black Grambling State University in Louisiana together, and returned to the Windy City together to begin their lives and careers. While attending parties, backyard barbecues, baby showers and other get-togethers in their twenties, they realized something else together: they were the only Black people bringing craft beer to these events.

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