28 February 2008
As a consequence, I approached the First Annual Craft Beer and Fine Food Symposium at L'explorateur with some trepidation. Fortunately, the experience surpassed my expectations a thousandfold. Chef Neal Brown's down-to-earth hospitality, along with his ingenious culinary creations and Ted Miller's assistance with beer selection, set my stomach and mind at ease. In fact, Neal's five-course meal and Ted's beer choices were so mind-blowingly delicious that it was difficult for me to pick a favorite course. After a bit of deliberation, I decided on the pairing of Broad Ripple Brewpub's Ankle Biter Barleywine with the curried leg of lamb, which was served on a bed of cassis and cassia lentils. Kevin Matalucci, the brewer of the barleywine and an attendee at the dinner, has created the mellowest, most palate-pleasing barleywine I have ever sampled. The caramel notes of the barleywine mingled perfectly with the spicy bite of the curried lamb, which was wonderfully buttery and tender.
Thanks again to Neal and Ted for putting together this groundbreaking Indianapolis event. Thanks also to those HBG readers who came out to enjoy the dinner with us. The next symposium won't come soon enough for me!
Despite our concerns with the sophistication of the menu, there was no issues once we started eating. A relaxed yet excited audience was treated to an amazing all around dining experience - one that left us all wondering when we could do it again.
Fortunately for us, Neal seemed to be thrilled with the reception - and he announced that this was just the first time for what could become a regular event. For those of you who didn't make it - you really missed out.
Looking back through a menu filled with highlights, it's hard to pick out my favorites. Here are a couple.
Czech Pilsner paired with Loup De Mere, Hot Buttered Popcorn, and King Crab Salad - I didn't bring a notebook, so I couldn't tell you which Czech Pilsner we had. A fruity nose with some definite malty elements was evident immediately, but the malt backbone was really drawn out by the buttery elements of the fish and crab.
Brugge Triple de Ripple paired with Banana Pot Crème - I don't think it's possible that I'll ever have a better dessert. The combination of the chocolaty banana Pot Crème when served with Brugge's Bananaey (new word) Triple de Ripple was so amazing that the best word to describe the combination is four letters long, starts with "F", and ends in an exclamation point.
I'd like to thank Neal and menu assistant Ted Miller again for the amazing experience.
27 February 2008
Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA:
This was a bottle gifted to be by Matt at our Stout and Porter gathering. I had been interested in trying this since the New York times said it was their second favorite "Extreme Beer", with Dogfish Head's 90 Minute being their favorite. When in stock, the Double Simcoe can be found at Jungle Jim's in Cincinnati.
It is an enjoyable and unique beer. The exclusive use of Simcoe hops gives it just a bit of a different hop flavor. Simcoe's are meant to provide the nose and flavor without as much harshness. It allows Weyerbacher to use a lot of it without providing other flavorings to mask the unpleasantness that can come from hops. So you get the pine and citrus and a certain amount of smoothness. It is simple in design, and very successful.
I still would rate 90 Minute, Hopslam, and Racer 5 above this beer. But if it becomes available in Indiana, it would likely be put into a regular rotation, as they brew it year round.
Rock Bottom Downtown's Fast Freddie IPA:
It had been a while since I had been to Rock Bottom, just because I haven't had the time. But they recently put a bonus ten bucks on my Mug Club Card, and it had to be used by March 2. So I found the time.
IPA's can be a tricky thing to produce successfully. If not done right, they tend to be harsh. Fast Freddie is alright in my book. It has a nice balance between the bitterness and the fruit aroma. It has been on tap since 1/18, so it is nothing new. But it also may not last long, so I'd suggest stopping in soon.
Looks enticing! It'll be interesting to see what our homebrewing friends can cook up.
The First Annual Indy Craft Beer Festival
Saturday May 3 - 2pm to 6pm
Hot Shotz Ale & Grill parking lot
4705 E 96th St, Indianapolis, IN 46240
Benefiting Indiana Down Syndrome Foundation
Admission: $35 day of $40 at the door
Competition: Home Brewers vs. Home Brewers and Professionals vs Professionals in a peoples' choice award contest.
Each attendee gets 3 Home Brewer votes and 3 Professional votes. Ballots will be handed at the door with tasting glasses. Attendees will leave their ballot at monitored designated locations in the tent. Attendees will be rank their top three beers. Each ranking will have a point value: 1st - 3pts, 2nd - 2pts, 3rd - 1 pt. The top three Home Brew and top three Professional brewers will be awarded 1st 2nd and 3rd place.
Each entrant has to submit a full 5 gallon keg, ale or lager. The beer may be naturally or forced carbonated. It can be dry hopped. No style guidelines will be enforced. Brew your best beer. May the best beer win.
Entry form available here (Microsoft Word Document).
1st prize – Beer Showcased on tap @ Hot Shotz, $1,600 Kinetico RO system, Great Fermentation Gift Certificates, Hop Shop Gift Certificates and other prizes to be determined
2nd prize – Beer Showcased on tap @ Hot Shotz, $350 Kinetico in line water filter, Great Fermentation Gift Certificates, Hop Shop Gift Certificates and other prizes to be determined
3rd prize - Beer Showcased on tap @ Hot Shotz, Kinetico bottled water for a year, Great Fermentation Gift Certs, Hop Shop Gift Certificates and other prizes to be determined
Professionals - Beer Dinner in their honor, 1/2 page ad in Nuvo as the winner, Channel 8 is covering the event and more to come.
26 February 2008
If they want to visit, we'd be happy to host - While we're happy with the crowds we've had for our events, we wouldn't object to the company of the 300 women who've taken part in Philidelphia's "In Pursuit of Ale" women's beer club. From the MySpace (warning: music):
Established in June of 2006, In Pursuit of Ale is a collective of women with a range in age as great as their professions and their pallets. They have declared their independence from mass produced swill…and have joined the pursuit of the world’s preferred potables. We meet biweekly, hopping around Philadelphia’s finest watering holes. We like beer a lot. No, we love beer a lot. We run the gradient from geek to gorgeous. We're teachers,writers, scientists, graphic designers, accountants, nannies, servers, auditors, personal trainers, bartenders,salespeople. Your new drinking buddy. Your dream come true.Sounds just like us. Our Matt is particularly dreamy.
Here's a couple more links to the group (1, 2 - with video, halfway down the page). At Hoosier Beer Geek we do the stalking for you.
It can't be bad! We've still got a bottle in the fridge! - I have no idea what Gina paid for our bottle of Ommegang's Chocolate Indulgence, but the Fond du Lac Reporter says it was too much:
"The nice rocky head from the pour was a nice teaser, but the first sip assaulted my mouth with an overwhelming metallic taste, like licking aluminum siding. It wasn't subtle and there was no reason to go on."We'll let you know what we think when we get to it.
If craft beer is like Slow Food then I guess that makes Miller Light the Landshire Sandwich of the beer world - An article at the Vancouver Sun (9 degrees and overcast in Vancouver right now) give the who-what-why behind the Vancouver branch of CAMRA:
Like Slow Food, CAMRA is a social movement, held aloft by sensual pleasure (eating and drinking, primarily). They have regular beer tastings, brewmaster's dinners, beer-pairing dinners, guest speakers with tastings, beer tastings, brewery tours and home brewing seminars. They publish beer guides and restaurant and pub guides.Furthermore, it makes you a better dancer, does your taxes, and walks your dog - Ron Jeffries really loves what he does - you might be able to tell in this article with the Jolly Pumpkin owner:
"We're making something that makes people happy ... Especially in the craft brewing industry, we create something people really enjoy, that tastes phenomenal, and can really accentuate and benefit your life."And this brewery - it will be in Indiana? - While browsing Teri Fahrendorf's Road Brewer blog I came across this little nugget:
My amazing five-month odyssey introduced me to all sorts of fabulous and experienced people, some of whom I connected with like crazy. One of those heroes was Jeff Mease, partner at Bloomington Brewing Company in Indiana. I recently made a deal with Jeff, and I am flying to Bloomington for a week at the beginning of March. Click here to read my original blog post from Bloomington.A green brewery in Indiana? Sounds like a fine idea to us.
The plan is for me to consult with Jeff's brewer, Floyd Rosenbaum, to streamline brewery operations, train Floyd on brewpub labwork, and possibly help him set up a root beer production system. In return for my "free" consulting, I will work with Jeff and his staff to learn the "front of the house," which means restaurant, kitchen, and financial issues.
Jeff and his partner Lennie own five pizza delivery businesses, the brewpub, and a commercial kitchen that preps food for the six restaurants. Jeff and Lennie are also in the planning stages for an organic farmhouse brewery and restaurant that Jeff hopes will be as self-sufficient and ecologically sustainable as possible. We've brainstormed lots of ideas toward that goal, which has been excellent fun.
22 February 2008
In the fridge:
1 - Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout
1 - Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence
3 - (Unibroue) Trader Joe's 2007 Vintage Ale
1 - Barley Island Bourbon Barrel-Aged Oatmeal Stout
1 - Sierra Nevada 2008 Bigfoot Barleywine
1 - Shipyard Brewing Co. Pumpkin Ale
1 - Iron City Beer Premium Lager
1 - Kasteel Rouge
1 - Barley Island Sinister Minister Belgian Style Black Ale 2007
1 - Aventinus Weizen Eisbock
1 - Bells Hopslam
1 - HeBrew Jewbelation Eleven
1 - Kreik Cherry Lambic
1 - Rogue Morimoto Soba Ale
2 - cans of Schlitz (leftover from the Retro Beer Challenge)
2 - cans Youngs Double Chocolate Stout
1 - Samuel Smith's Taddy Porter
1 - Goose Island Oatmeal Stout
1 - Sierra Nevada Porter
1 - Sinebrychoff Porter (2000 vintage, straight of the shelf of PartyPak)
1 - Dogfish Golden Era Imperial Pilsner
1 - Great Divide Saint Bridget' Robust Porter
1 - Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Ale
1/2 Growler - Schlafly Coffee Stout
1 - Lakefront Cherry Lager
1 - Unlabeled Avery
1 - Brooklyn Lager
1 - Sapporo Beer
1 - Warsteiner Premium Verun (whatever that means)
And on the shelf:
1 - Schlafly Reserve Barleywine Style Ale (2006)
1 - Mikkeller Santa's Little Helper (2007)
1 - Real Ale Brewing Company Brewhouse Brown Ale
1 - Real Ale Brewing Company Full Moon Pale Rye Ale
3 - Founders Breakfast Stout
1 - Baltika 9 Extra Lager
2 - Kasteel Rouge
My current physical situation (no gym membership, no bike rides, 10 extra pounds) means that none of this is getting drank right now, either. The problem is that there's a whole shelf (and both crisper drawers) of my fridge filled with beer.
This weekend, while reading The Brewmaster's Table, it occurred to me that in order to do proper pairings, it would be best to have on hand at least one beer representing each BJCP style. Since the fridge is so full already, we'll see how that goes.
16 February 08 Location: My Mom's House, Trenton IL
Rogue Santa's Private Reserve - Trips back to Illinois means visits to Illinois liquor stores. Usually by the time I've bought a six of something to drink over the weekend my mom will remind me that I've got four left over from the last time I was home. The Santa's Private Reserve was left from Christmas.
Tea colored with no head, yeasty bready elements in the nose mix with scents of pine and orange peel. The beer had a flat front, and worked the sides of the mouth. Earthy flavors ring out, with no reflection of the nose - the primary taste I get is fresh cut green beans. An interesting and drinkable beer, with a tiny hop bite on the back end - not offensive, not very good either.
18 February 08 Location: Home
Founders Breakfast Stout - This is a beer I picked up back in Illinois. I was busy writing up the latest Beer School entry and suggested that our readers pour themselves a beer and settle in - then I realized I was really talking to myself.
Deep black opaque body supports a thin ghostly head that doesn't go away through the whole pint. Nose of chocolate, malt, and coffee the leads to a straight-up coffee shot taste. Cold or warm, the flavors remain - a top of mouth coffee bite. It would be interesting to compare this against Schlafly's Coffee Stout - I suspect they're very similar beasts. At $15 for a four pack, is the Founders worth it? I'm not so sure.
21 February 2008
Settle in, and pour yourself a drink. This is a long one.
Porters and Stout originated in England in the 17th to 18th Century. Porters came first - stouts were stronger variations of porters. Beers in the stout category were once considered “Stout” porters. As an attempt to capitalize on Porter popularity, the number of these types of beers kept expanding and diversifying until they became worthy of their own category.
From a composition standpoint, roasted barley or black patent malt is usually added to provide dryness in stouts. Interestingly enough, modern versions are not always stronger than Porters.
Stouts are divided into six categories, which makes for a lot of sampling. These categories are Dry (Irish) Stout, Sweet (Milk) Stout, Oatmeal Stout, Foreign Extra Stout, American Stout, and Russian Imperial Stout.
Dry (Irish) Stout
According to BJCP guidelines, Dry Stouts may have prominent Coffee-like roasted barley and roasted malt aromas, with a slight chocolate, cocoa and/or grainy secondary notes. They typically have a thick, creamy, long-lasting, tan- to brown-colored head, with flavors featuring a light to moderate acidic sourness, and medium to high hop bitterness. BJCP also notes "For the high hop bitterness and significant proportion of dark grains present, this beer is remarkably smooth. Overall Impression: A very dark, roasty, bitter, creamy ale."
We had two examples for the Dry (Irish) Stout category. First up was Murphy's Stout.
Mike: Ashy, watery, heavy lacing, a little sweetness... forgettable.
Kelly: Watery, slightly tinny tasting.
Matt: Creamy texture, watery flavor.
Gina: My notes were "I don't like this". It was very thin and watery. I may have liked this more if it were my first beer of the night.
Our second example of the Dry (Irish) Stout style was Avery's Out of Bounds.
Kelly: Huge head, looks like a root beer float; heavy cardamom aroma.
Matt: Hop nose & flavor.
Gina: Tall, foamy head and hoppy smell that is very reminiscent of Pine Sol.
Mike: Better of the two in this style. Hoppy sting in the nose, piney front.
Sweet (Milk) Stout
Milk stouts have the same chocolate and coffee notes as Dry (Irish) Stouts, but also often feature a cream-like sweetness, and can even feature low to high fruit notes. A dark and full bodied ale, milk stouts often taste similar to sweetened expresso. On the title of the category, BJCP says "legally this designation is no longer permitted in England (but is acceptable elsewhere). The “milk” name is derived from the use of lactose, or milk sugar, as a sweetener."
Mackeson XXX Triple Stout
Matt: Roasty, malty, sweet.
Gina: Smells sweet, bready and like a candy necklace. Good.
Mike: TASTY! Smooth. BUY MORE!
Kelly: Viscous, hints of toasted coconut and whipped cream.
Oatmeal Stouts give off what BJCP calls "a coffee and cream impression", with coffee notes and a full bodied mouthfeel. Instead of the milk element found in sweet stouts, Oatmeal is used to provide complexity.
Goose Island Oatmeal Stout
Mike: Coffee and licorice nose, dark and coke-colored, full-flavored, malted milk, kind of like a mix of Left Hand Blackjack porter and the Mackeson. Grassy and earthy.
Kelly: Oatmeal cookie nose, something really sweet in the finish that I can't place -- maybe charred marshmallow?
Matt: Licorice, smoky.
Foreign Extra Stout
Foreign Extra Stouts feature strong roasted grain notes, and can also feature elements of coffee, chocolate and a lightly burnt taste. According to BJCP "Some versions may have a sweet aroma, or molasses, licorice, dried fruit, and/or vinous aromatics. Stronger versions can have the aroma of alcohol (never sharp, hot, or solventy)." This version of stout was originally brewed for tropical markets, and was brewed stronger for export.
Bell's Special Double Cream Stout
Mike: This is like the beer I can't escape. It took me 6 months to finish the six pack in my fridge. Then we sampled it at Big Car. Then we reviewed it for a roundtable. And I don't like it.
Kelly: Bitter, acrid, malted milk.
Matt: Very smoky, something else I couldn't put my finger on, but couldn't properly describe
Gina: Back when we did the review of this I gave it a tentative score and said it would be better in colder weather. Well, I was wrong. The nose is still amazing and it still reminds me of an ashtray. I still cannot decide if I like this or not, so I am just going to go with not.
American Stouts are brewed in much of the same manner as Foreign Extra Stouts, but feature the use of citrusy or resiny American Hops. BJCP says to expect the following as an overall impression "A hoppy, bitter, strongly roasted Foreign-style Stout (of the export variety)."
North Coast Old #38 Stout
Kelly: Roasty, peppery, on our to-buy list -- really drinkable.
Matt: Rroasty, malty, one of my favorites.
Gina: Roasted, malty, smooth.
Mike: Bitter, peppery, tasty.
Russian Imperial Stout
The most complex of stouts, the Russian Imperial Stout features many of the same characteristic of the other stouts covered above, but features a malt aroma that "can be subtle to rich and barleywine-like, depending on the gravity and grain bill. May optionally show a slight specialty malt character (e.g., caramel), but this should only add complexity and not dominate." (BJCP)
BJCP says to expect an impression that's "roasty, fruity, and bittersweet, with a noticeable alcohol presence. Dark fruit flavors meld with roasty, burnt, or almost tar-like sensations. Like a black barleywine with every dimension of flavor coming into play."
Matt: Sweet, smoke, malt, charcoal.
Gina: This has a great roasted, chocolaty, woody smell and the taste reminds me of a burnt campfire hot dog (but in a good way).
Mike: Smokey, with obvious alcohol notes, tasty with a big front. Instead of a punch you see coming, this is one you see going. A fantastic aftertaste lingers.
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Click here to access all of the beer school series of articles.
20 February 2008
Welcomes you to the First Annual
Craft Beer and Fine Food Symposium
Frank Boon Gueuze
Stinky Fondue | Rabbit Sausage Meatballs
Chilled Oyster | Oyster Tempura | Black Oyster Stew with Pearls
Loup De Mere | Hot Buttered Popcorn | King Crab Salad
Broad Ripple Brew Pub Ankle Biter Barleywine
Curried Leg of Lamb | Cassis and Cassia Lentils |
Brugge Triple de Ripple
Banana Pot Crème
Chef Neal Brown explains:
A few things of note, this is not your ordinary beer dinner. But as many of you know, we aren't known for ordinary. Because of the context of the discussions on Hoosier Beer Geek about beer being a part of the fine dining experience, I really felt strongly about making this a very progressive, fine dining affair. Thats not to say "stuffy" or "pretentious", but an example of where fine dining is across the globe.
We are at about half capacity for the dinner and I am sure that once Ted sends it out to his list, Braingirl posts it on her Blog, and it goes live on Hoosier Beer Geek it will sell out. We are capping the event at 30 but will have a little flexibility there.
Thanks for your patience. We are really looking forward to this dinner, I have done some snooping around online and have found nothing as unusual as these pairings, so it will be a very unique, thought provoking and delicious experience.
All six of us here at Hoosier Beer Geek plan on attending, so we hope to see you there. Don't worry, we're as intimidated by that menu as you might be. But we were that way with beer once, too.
Reservations can be made at L'Explorateur through this link or by calling (317) 726 6906. Cost is $65 per person (plus tax and tip). Come on out and support those who support expanding the palate - and better beer.
19 February 2008
You really must give Ted, Charlie, and Company credit for bringing an attractive look to their premises and their products.
Porters and Stouts originated in England in the 17th to 18th Century. Porters came first - stouts were stronger variations of porters. Porters were the first beer to be brewed on a large, commercial scale, and were named for the common laborers (porters) who drank them.
A porter is a malt based beer, primary brewed with chocolate, dark roasted, and caramel malts, which give the beer both its flavor and color. Porters are typically sweeter than stouts due to the lack of black patent malt & roasted barley.
Porters are divided into three BJCP categories: Brown, Robust, and Baltic/Imperial Porter. We tried examples of all three.
According to the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP), Brown Porters should have a malt aroma with mild roastiness, and may also have a chocolaty quality. They may show elements of non-roasted malt character (caramel, grain, bread, nut, and/or toffee). Brown Porters are the original English version, and should use a sweeter and milder English hop, which leads to a moderate-to-none hop aroma.
We were fortunate enough to have two examples of this style - an English and an American - Samuel Smith's Taddy Porter and Left Hand Brewing Company's Blackjack Porter.
Samuel Smith Taddy Porter
Gina: This was one of my favorites. The nose was mild and it tasted a bit smoky. Very balanced and easy-drinking.
Mike: Chocolatey, with a sharp little bite on the front. Roasty toasty.
Matt: Roasty flavor, not much nose.
Kelly: Smoky. roasted, nicely balanced nose, does yummy have a smell?
Left Hand Blackjack Porter
Mike: Light color, malted-milk nose, a little funky. There's something I like about this one. Lingering licorice aftertaste?
Matt: Sour milk of magnesia, burnt, flavor lingers a bit too long.
Kelly: Burnt Tums, oily, overroasted finish.
Gina: This was unpleasant at first, having a sour milk nose and taste, but that mellowed as it warmed up. The mouthfeel was smooth and silky.
Robust Porters are the American answer to the milder English-style Brown Porter. They use more aggressive American hops to produce flavors somewhat similar to the brown porter, but with a noticeable to "moderately strong Roasty aroma (often with a lightly burnt, black malt character)" (BJCP).
This is a pretty wide open style, which is noted in the BJCP notes:
Although a rather broad style open to brewer interpretation, it may be distinguished from Stout as lacking a strong roasted barley character. It differs from a brown porter in that a black patent or roasted grain character is usually present, and it can be stronger in alcohol. Roast intensity and malt flavors can also vary significantly. May or may not have a strong hop character, and may or may not have significant fermentation by-products; thus may seem to have an “American” or “English” character.Our sample of the Robust Porter style was Sierra Nevada Porter.
Matt: Boozy nose floats out of glass, coffee flavor, earthy.
Kelly: Surprisingly great hop balance. Would love to pick up some more of this.
Gina: Light, hoppy nose with a thin, watery taste.
Mike: Soapy nose, bubbly soapy body, watery mouthfeel with a middle and back of tongue bite.
Baltic/Imperial Porters have a "rich malty sweetness often containing caramel, toffee, nutty to deep toast, and/or licorice notes. Complex alcohol and ester profile of moderate strength, and reminiscent of plums, prunes, raisins, cherries or currants, occasionally with a vinous Port-like quality" (BJCP). These are high gravity, high malt content beers that can be brewed as an ale or lager. They are brewed in Baltic countries and are influenced by Russian Imperial Stouts.
Our sample Baltic/Imperial Porter was a vintage 2000 Sinebrychoff Porter.
Kelly: Boozy chocolate, similar to breakfast stout.
Gina: The nose on this was chocolaty and smoky and the taste reminded me of Founder's Kentucky Breakfast Stout. Very Good.
Mike: 7.2%, Chocolate and alcohol, a tasty combo. Almost barleywine-like alligator of a nose, woody with a watery/slippery mouthfeel. Nice.
Matt: Took one off.
* * * * *
Thanks to Bob at World Class Beverages - particularly Bob, who provided the notes for this lesson.
Click here to access all of the beer school series of articles.
18 February 2008
A little less than a week ago, the Knights were invited to Matt's (of Matt's Beer Blog) home and do a porter and stout sampling event. It was a brilliant night that involved tasting 11 beers of varying quality. Having a slight case of OCD, I felt that not going for an even dozen beers would be irritating. Not having another bottle around, we opted to try the Kikkoman's Soy Sauce and pretend that it was a beer. But more about that venture later.
We began by tackling porters. First up was Samuel Smith's Taddy Porter, which has been determined by beer judges and beer websites to be the cream of the crop as far as English Brown Porters go. And this is one situation where tradition out performs American ingenuity and gusto. The balanced, roasted malt goodness from the Taddy Porter outperformed the Left Hand Black Jack Porter (listed as an English Porter) and the Sierra Nevada Porter (an American Porter). Both were unbalanced with odd lingering flavors (carbon notes in the Left Hand; soapiness in the Sierra Nevada).
The other porter that we tried was the 2000 Sinebrychoff Porter from Finland. This Baltic Porter, while not superior to the Taddy Porter, was interesting and enjoyable. The smell reminded me of my fourth grade lunch box (I left an orange in my lunch box over summer vacation, leaving a lasting moldy orange scent to everything that would go in it from that time on), but had a peatty taste like a good scotch. I would definitely try this one again in the future.
The next seven beers were stouts. We started with a Dry (Irish) Stout: Murphy's Stout. Unlike the porters, I find that the original/traditional versions pale in comparison to some of the American craft varieties. The Irish Stouts tend to have a watery consistency to them that, while not unpleasant, leaves you unfulfilled. Mackeson's Triple Stout (Milk Stout) had a sweetness to it and was milky smooth in mouthfeel. I found this to be uncomplicated yet enjoyable and worth another taste at some point.
The Avery Out of Bounds Stout (Irish Dry Stout) poured with a big head and notes of scotch, coffee, and hops. This was superior to the Murphy's in my opinion and should receive a full review in the future. The Goose Island Oatmeal Stout was bitter with hints of oatmeal. I've had better Oatmeal Stouts. The Bell's Special Double Cream Stout (Milk/Sweet Stout) has a smooth and dry mouthfeel with a certain twang in its flavor from the combination of malts used. The North Coast Old No. 38 (Irish Dry Stout) was yet another scotchy type stout that reminds me of some whiskey barrel aged beers that we have had in the past. Another one I want to discover again in the future.
We finished with the Abyss by Deschutes Brothers in Oregon, an Imperial Russian Stout that Matt traded a Dark Lord for. In my opinion, he came away the winner in that trade. I can't put my finger on what it is that I like about this beer. It is very alcoholly. It has a complex flavor profile. The best way I could describe this is like Dark Lord without the candy sugar taste and mouthfeel. Which, in my opinion, is a good thing. But that's just me.
So that is eleven beers. To make it an even dozen, we opened Matt's last bottle of Sam Adams Triple Bock (circa 1997, I think). Which doesn't fit into the porters and stouts category, but what the hell. The aroma (I really wanted to write odor) smelled of soy sauce. The taste was of soy sauce. It looked like soy sauce. And it stained Matt's clear glass drinkware a nice amber color. I seriously think this is better suited on top of fried rice that in a beer glass.
Holy crap, that was not good. How not good? I'd chug a Chelada over this any day of the week. Just goes to show that my OCD tendencies are never right, and no matter how odd a number to stop at, eleven was the clear winner on this day.
Consequently, I bring you my latest beer diary with a meager two beers to discuss.
16 February 2008 - Avery Brewing's Old Jubilation Ale
This was one of those lonely, stray bottles that I was just speaking of. It was a poor, neglected leftover from one of our Big Car/World Class Beverage tastings from November or December. After cracking this one open, I wanted to kick myself for letting it languish in the back of the fridge for so long.
The Old Jubilation is an English Strong Ale. It poured with a deep, mahogany color and a thick, tan head that left a lot of lacing on the inside of the glass. The Old Jubilation's nose gave hints of so many things--caramel, toffee, hazelnuts, chocolate, bananas, and cloves. The flavor came across in much the same way, with a little more sweetness on the tongue than I expected. The mouthfeel was what I'd call "medium"--not quite chewy, but not watery, either.
This is an enchantingly complex beer. Avery's website says its release window is October to December, but I'd bet that you can still find some on the shelf at Parti Pak, Kahn's, or the Hop Shop. Go get this one, quickly!
14 February 2008 - Goose Island Pere Jacques
Jason has already given his views on this beer, but I thought I'd chime in with mine.
A nightcap for a wonderful Valentine's Day with the redheaded knockout (that's my wife, in case you're wondering). The bottle in question was the third of a four-pack I purchased at the Trader Joe's in Castleton, which tends to have a fair beer selection. I'm not a big fan of Goose Island's bottled beers, though I've had several stellar selections on tap at their Clybourn location in Chicago. The Pere Jacques is, without question, the best Goose Island beer I've tried.
This Belgian-style ale (brewed in the dubbel style) poured with hazy copper color and a fine, off-white head that dissipated quickly. As one might expect from a Belgian, the Pere Jacques had a sweetish nose with clove, banana, and plum notes. The mouthfeel was what I'd call "slippery"--not unpleasant, sort of like what WD-40 might feel like in the mouth if it were not poisonous. The taste was sweet and malty up front, fruity in the middle, and slightly boozy at the end. Not a beer for those who are afraid of a prevalent alcohol bite in their beers, but a delightful Belgian-style ale for those who don't mind that bite. Trader Joe's is running a pretty good deal on the four-packs at the moment -- $10.49 for a four-pack. There were only two four-packs left on my last visit, which was on Sunday evening. A beer well worth the purchase.
17 February 2008
So much better than those little candy hearts: Valentine's Day has come and gone, but any time's a good time for chocolate... and beer.
"What makes a chocolate and beer tasting great is the fact that it is unusual, and it works. Even folks who say they don't like beer like chocolate," Halfpenny explained. "Anyone with an untrained palate can find bready, toasty, caramel, toffee, roasty, chocolate, coffee and, yes, fruity notes in beer. They just have to get it out of the bottle and stop long enough to think about it."
Now this is a gateway beer: New Glarus Brewery has debuted a German lager made with ale yeast, the Organic Revolution.
"It's advertised as a hoppy beer, which conjures visions of the American pale ale style. But Organic Revolution is not a bitter beer — the hop presence is in the flavor and aroma."
80 ounces of Papago Hop Dog? Hoo boy: An Arizona beer festival balances ABV with the potential for high BAC.
"But we quickly discovered that it's probably more, shall we say, socially responsible to have a wide variety of beers," said Jerry Gantt, executive director of the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild. "When you've got people tasting just the strong ones, people can kind of get out of control. So now, while we feature the strong beers, we offer a wider variety."
Seriously, that Hop Dog is fantastic stuff. Mmmmm.
I would have pegged Washington as a lager guy myself: the San Francisco Chronicle solves the age-old mystery: What should you drink to commemorate Presidents' Day? The answer? A microbrewed porter. (If you need ideas, watch this blog in the next few days... hint hint.) And then there's this:
"For dessert, make Washington's porter float: Pour a bottle of porter over vanilla ice cream, add a symbolic powdered wig of whipped cream and, because it's Washington, put a cherry on top."
I vote this for our next Roundtable review. Anyone?
Chalk one up for sustainability: African farmers are beginning to grow sorghum to brew beer in Africa. Heavily sponsored by Heineken and Diageo, it looks like a win-win for the brewers and growers:
"In Ghana, where some 1,000 farmers are involved in the project, the group surpassed its initial target of 800 tonnes of sorghum by 100 tonnes at the end of the first growing season. Sierra Leone had 2,000 farmers in the project but produced only 40 tonnes. However, this year Sierra Leone expects to produce 150 tonnes.
"Heineken is delighted with the results of the project, particularly in Sierra Leone, where expectations had been lower. Thomas de Man, Heineken's regional president for Africa and the Middle East, says: "You see an economy growing around farming."
15 February 2008
Soccer and beer are certainly not odd bedfellows. There always seems to be some cross-pollination going on between these two realms. Whenever I go to tailgate parties at soccer matches (yes, we soccer lovers do tailgate), I unfailingly see soccer fanaticos drinking high quality brew. And when I go to craft beer events, it's not unusual for me to see some beer geek sporting a soccer jersey. I've never been able to figure out the precise reason why there are so many hybrid beer/soccer geeks. Perhaps the reason is that, in this country, it takes a certain measure of independent thinking to love soccer. I find that to be true with craft beer lovers as well.
During our most recent roundtable, which we strategically planned at BadaBoomz so we could watch our national soccer team take on the Mexican National Team in an exhibition match (in hi-def on a big screen, thanks to ESPN2 and the ever classy Mike DeWeese), the beer geek in the soccer jersey was Mike, decked out in the shirt of Fulham FC striker and American international Clint Dempsey, with whom Kelly appears to be smitten. While the match ended in a 2-2 draw, the game was entertaining, as USA v. Mexico matches often are.
We reviewed the Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale. We sampled the 2000 edition of this beer, which has garnered loads of praise from other beer reviewers. The Bigfoot poured with a medium off-white head and a ruby color. The nose was heavy with toasted malt notes accompanied by a prevalent graham cracker character. Medium in mouthfeel, the beer's flavor followed the nose with a cookie-like taste. While this barleywine had been cellar-aged for nearly eight years, this aging had not mellowed the alcohol presence in the beer because I clearly tasted the alcohol. Maybe the alcohol taste came through so clearly due to the beer's style since barleywines (at least, in my experience) tend to show their alcohol character prevalently.
Though I was impressed with the Bigfoot, I was not blown away. Perhaps this was so because I think the serving temperature was initially too cold. The character of the beer, however, improved by the time I was down to the last 1/4 of the glass. I've got to admit that my rating is also colored by the fact that I'm not a big fan of the barleywine style. Still, a very good beer that I would definitely give another shot. 3.275 mugs.
We read our readers' blogs, and from time to time it rubs off, either consciously or unconsciously. So after we'd found out our first choice (Kasteel Rouge) wasn't available, we tossed the menus around until something stuck. I don't know who suggested it, but it was probably me, and we ended up drinking the vintage 2000 Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot Barleywine.
If anything, it's quite obvious that the brewers behind Bigfoot learned a valuable lesson from 1987's greatest film, Harry and the Hendersons. Like the film's main character, Bigfoot starts out untamed and ferocious, with a nose that jumps right out of the glass and tears up your house. But behind that tough front are hints of a sweet sugary nose. Like Harry, the beer can't help but be a little wild and punchy, but there's also a sweetness, with smooth molasses and toffee notes. After you get past the tough exterior, you realize that Sierra Nevada got it right. And Bigfoot's cloudy caramel color matches Harry's face - thus proving that Sierra Nevada always had him in mind.
If you recall the movie, in the end the Henderson's decide that the best thing for Harry is to return him to the wild, where we find out there's an entire army of Harrys, ready for the snatching. If you head to PartyPak, they're sitting there waiting - I brought a 2008 edition home this past weekend. 3.75 Mugs.
Watching the National Team play is always entertaining and it's nice to know that there are places in the city that offer the opportunity to do so while enjoying good beer. This is especially true whenever they are taking on Mexico, even if the game ends in a tie.
I must say I was a little disappointed that the keg of Kasteel Rouge was gone. I have been enamored with it since I tried it a few months ago. Fortunately, Party Pak served me well once again, and I now have some in my fridge. But I digress...
As the Bigfoot Barleywine Ale arrived and we started pouring, I was completely overwhelmed with the heavy alcohol smell. On average, my initial feeling with these styles of beers is dread, as the overly alcoholic nose and the often sickly-sweet taste make the beer rather difficult to finish. I was very pleased to learn that this just simply wasn't the case with this aged Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot. Despite the ever-present alcohol nose, the flavor was more mellow than I would have thought, which I suspect is due to the 7+ years of aging this particular beer went through. I was pleased with this and I am anxious to see how much difference there is with something more recent. 3.25 Mugs.
This is my favorite cryptozoologically themed alcoholic beverage. I've tried Chupacabra brand malt liquor and Jersey Devil's Reserve Scotch, but I found both to be bottles of hyped-up novelty, with little flavor or conferral of supernatural powers. That said, I'm still among the unconverted when it comes to barleywines. Being a beer geek has given me the opportunity to acquire the taste for IPAs and Belgian beers, which I had eschewed in the past. I haven't had enough of a range of barleywines to appreciate the differences within the style.
I found it to be an agreeable beverage, although a whole bottle is a bit much, since I ended up drinking most of Kelly's half of the bottle we split. It poured out dark brown, and cloudy. The nose bloomed out of the glass and revealed a lot of alcohol. I also detected chocolate, which was also reflected by a sweet somewhat cake-y taste. I was pleasantly surprised by a hoppy finish. I think Leonard Nimoy should bring back "In Search Of…" and drink a few of these before telling us the tale of the Philadelphia Experiment. I give this a 3.5, and look forward to becoming better acquainted with this style.
14 February 2008
The brilliant people at Guinness have come up with a great little publicity stunt: an online petition to Congress to have St. Patrick's Day recognized as a federal holiday. Their goal is to get a million signatures by St. Patty's Day. Certainly, Congress has more important things to do with their time than to add a federal holiday. But any excuse that this lazy American can find to get out of work and go out drinking is alright by me! If you want to join in the battle for a federally recognized drinking holiday, sign up at their website.
12 February 2008
Still legal in Indiana - We'll volunteer to empty the keg for you - The West Virginia House of Delegates is working on a bill that would make it illegal for scrap metal dealers to buy used beer kegs from anyone but the manufacturer.
"A keg could fetch up to $100 when sold for scrap, said Anheuser-Busch's state lobbyist, John Cavacini. Meanwhile, a usual deposit on a keg is between $10 and $30."
We're not actually advocating this sort of behavior - I'm pretty sure there's a shortage of kegs already.
Once we hit a thousand subscribers, we'll start working on rolling back taxes too - The Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA) is concerned about local pubs closing up shop, so they've called for a 1p beer tax reduction.
“There are 1,000 houses under threat of closure at any one time and with the future of these pubs in the balance it points to a very worrying situation,” said Camra research information manager Iain Loe.
“Community Pubs Week is designed to put local pubs on the map and highlight the crucial role they play in the community."
In case you're wondering, my source (a random person on a random messageboard) says that the current tax is 39p per pint. In case you're wondering, 1p is the equivalent of like two cents. Maybe we can get that accomplished with just 120 readers.
Beware of Scots brandishing Harpoons - Here's an article about the story behind Harpoon's "Stewart's Firth of Forth Ale", a beer created for Harpoon's 100 Barrel Series.
My weekend is ruined! - The Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza franchise in Killeen Texas is alcohol-free and will stay that way. Looks like Chuck's just moved from the eight to the ninth circle of hell. (Dear Dante fans - I know that's not how it works.)
And here's some stuff I've missed (and maybe you have too):
Nick Floyd (of Three Floyds) interview at Drink Craft Beer
Dave Engbers (of Founders Brewing Co.) interview at Drink Craft Beer
A couple of posts about the Miller Light Brewers Collection at A Roughneck's Take on Beer
08 February 2008
I've been crisper-drawer aging my brother's Miller Light for months - "How should beer be stored to produce the desired flavors? Simpson recommends keeping the bottles cool rather than cold (55 to 65 degrees is fine) and, above all, shielding them from light. UV rays, he warns, can break down hop compounds called isohumulones, producing an unpleasant "skunky" aroma."
No mention of Bud Light and Chips Ahoy here - "When better but the dark nights of February to seduce your sweetie with a sumptuous symphony of the senses? And what better way to woo the object of your affections than with the delightfully delectable duo of chocolate -- and beer?"
(Here's the link if you're wondering about the Chips Ahoy/Bud Light)
This just in: Breweries Brew Beer - "Harpoon's "tour" revolves around a buffet-style sampling session led by Osaki with the assistance of Brian Goedde. Normally managing Harpoon's warehouse - located at the rear of the facility - Goedde lends Osaki a hand during the normally busy Saturday tastings.
"It's a mixed crowd," Goedde said, describing the small throng of tasters talking over Osaki's lecture on the finer points of the brewing process. "The older people tend to listen more."
A native of Indiana, Goedde said he had been a Guinness drinker until he first tasted the Munich Dark."
If they brewed a Morganic Beer they'd call it "Holy Teet" - Via our friend Mat at Cavalier comes Clipper City news: "It's here - 2008 "Holy Sheet" Uber Abbey Ale, a 9% ABV Belgian Abbey Style ale. This sold out in record time last year, so be ready when it arrives! Also, this is a beer that benefits from time - the 2007 became much more interesting after a year in the bottle! So make sure you put some away."
Matt says "I am personally looking forward to taste the 2008 vintage of Holy Sheet as I found the 2007 Vintage absolutely wonderful."
Clipper City is also in the process of launching a line of organic beers under the Oxford Organic Ales label. What's an organic beer? "First off, in order for any product to use the term “organic” in its name it must be certified by an accredited governmental organization – usually the state Department of Agriculture. Our certification comes from the Maryland department." More on the subject is available at Hugh's Blog on the Clipper City site.
07 February 2008
10 January 08 Location: Locals Only
Stone Ruination IPA - This was my warm-up beer for the Founder's Dirty Bastard Roundtable. Transparent gold body, lacing, and a sweet nose. First taste reveals rotten egg, spoiled milk elements. I kept drinking it anyway, I've gotten those flavors in beer before. Loose mouthfeel for an IPA, works the top of the mouth, nice little bite, but the taste gets worse the more the beer warms. Something isn't right with this bottle... I've had this before and it wasn't like this. I'd buy it again just to know for sure - and because it's one of the only single-bottle IPAs available at my local liquor store.
Lakefront Brewery Fuel Cafe Coffee Flavored Stout - I've seen this on the shelves at PartyPak. This beer was originally brewed "especially for (Milwaukee's) Fuel Cafe". Sounds like a pretty cool place.
There's something sweet in the coffee nose of this one. Generally I pick up either heavy coffee or beef jerky flavors from stouts - despite being "coffee flavored", I'm getting a lot more jerky out of this beer. All in all, pretty forgettable, and not something I'd buy again.
If you're into this style, Gina and I are really fond of Schlafly's Coffee Stout - I'd say it's best in class stuff, at least off the taps in St. Louis. A growler of that is a guaranteed good time.
15 January 08 Location: Home
Three Floyds Alpha Kong Sextupple Belgian Strong Ale - Every time Gina and I are in PartyPak we end up picking up a bottle, saying "check out how much this is", and then having the clerk say "this Alpha Kong is $20 a bottle". Eventually Gina bought that $20 bottle, and I drank half of it.
The first thing that hits you about Alpha Kong is the way the nose just jumps out of the bottle or glass - strong, sweet fruits scents, with elements of apple, banana, and a hint of nail polish. A translucent cherry-wood color sits underneath a lively head that eventually settles to nothing. A silky/slimy mouthfeel work the roof of the mouth and tongue, with a taste that echoes the nose - apple, banana, and a fruity sweetness. There's an obvious alcohol bite in this (which shouldn't be surprising considering its 15% ABV), but it's not overwhelming. This is a really strong but well balanced beer - extremely easy to drink, but you wouldn't want more than one. My notes say "Gone too fast/Gone fast enough" - while extremely tasty, a beer this strong is dangerous. Half a pint and I was feeling it already. I'd give this 4.5+ mugs in a roundtable review. At $20 a bottle, this is probably a special occasion beer, but I'd gladly buy it again (for the first time).
One last note - Way back at Roundtable #16, we took a tour of Barley Island's facilities in Noblesville and were fortunate enough to sample two of their bourbon barrel beers - the IPA and the oatmeal stout. At that time I found them both a little overwhelming to my developing beer senses. Recently I came across Barley Island's bourbon barrel stout in an unassuming bottle at PartyPak, and I decided to revisit it.
Now, I can't be sure that this is the same recipe Barley Island was using way back then, but now I find the beer fantastic - a nice balance of coffee, chocolate, and bourbon, with a nice creamy mouthfeel. And at $6 for a 22 ounce bomber, not at all a bad price for a limited edition beer. This might be one worth checking out if you're a fan of the style. I've already bought it more than once.
04 February 2008
While it's easy for any beer geek to write off these products, sometimes you've just got try it yourself. Beer review sites can get things wrong. And when you're dealing with A/B products, reviews tend to be downright deceitful. (I've had the Mule Kick and it's really quite tasty.)
With that in mind, as part of our anti-superbowl party yesterday (we watched Fulham beat Aston Villa), we sampled the full-flavored Budweiser version of Chelada.
The color of this was like nothing I've ever seen. It could have come out of the can as bright green ooze and it would have been less disturbing. The beer taste that came through on the back end made the tomato juice taste rotten. The last thing I said before I poured the rest in the sink was "This ain't right". Beer and tomato juice go together like the Bill Belichick and sportsmanship. 0 mugs
I wish I had a better explanation for why we did this. It goes like this: We had leftover sampling cups for Big Car. We had some cans of Chelada. We each tried to finish a shot. Some of us didn't get that far. A fizzy pink body, nose of celery, a peppery taste that's sort of like if you stuck a bouillon cube in your mouth. But that makes it sound almost appealing. It isn't. At least it was sort of interesting. 0.15 mugs.
I may have to rethink my grocery store shopping strategy after this one. I love trying new products; omelet-in-a-box, novelty breakfast cereals, meals that cook themselves when you add water, etc. In short, I love a gimmick. This product jumped out at me while perusing a local chain grocery store, and I fell for it. I figured, "Hey, it's a Budweiser product. The worst case scenario is that it doesn't taste like anything." I was wrong. It tasted like a hangover. It was a sour tomato soupy mess that made me want to reseal the can and bury it at the center of the earth to put it beyond the reach of likewise curious folks. This abomination receives a John Blutarsky rating from me. Zero point zero. If you're a glutton for punishment, or your curiosity must be satisfied at all cost, I still have two cans taking up space in my fridge.
Just a short list of the thousands of wonderful Mexican and Latino contributions to our American culinary culture. In fact, they had been batting pretty well so far.
Then comes Beer and Clamato. Swing and a miss.
I can't imagine someone purposely mixing this drink. It had to have been created by accident. And it's not just tomato juice you are putting in there; Clamato is tomato juice AND dried clam broth.
I give it 0.25 mugs, simply because beer and tomato juice are two components of my chili recipe and if for some strange reason a store is out of regular beer and tomato juice, but has Chelada, it would probably work in a pinch.
Now let us never speak of this again.
01 February 2008
Luckily, some of Indianapolis' finer chefs stopped by to chime in on the subject. And perhaps as a result, both Neal at L'Explorateur and Eli over at H2O Sushi announced plans to hold beer dinners.
We now have some details on the L'Explorateur dinner, thanks to Indianapolis food blog Feed Me/Drink Me:
Beer and Food Symposium: And as promised, on Wednesday, February 27 Neal is also putting on the first of what he hopes could be many beer dinners at L'explorateur -- five courses paired with craft beer. If you were interested in the fine dining discussion here or over at Hoosier Beer Geeks, make your reservation! $65 per person (plus tax and tip)We've also followed up with Eli at H2O - he's currently working with our friends over at World Class Beverages to put something together. We'll let you know when more details surface.
Okay, you can blame it on us. A misunderstanding of the law put us in a position where we would have been dispensing alcoholic beverages without a proper permit. Could we have gotten away with it? Perhaps. But on the off chance that excise were to bust our party (I haven't said that since college), we are postponing tonight's beer tasting at Big Car.
Stay tuned for more free beer events that we will then cancel. Because we like to tease you like that.