Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cooking With Beer: Samuel Adams Beer Roasted Chicken

Just in time for the release of Samuel Adams Octoberfest, a recipe from the Sam Adams website using the Octoberfest beer for roasted chicken. The recipe as it appears on the website:

Beer Roasted Chicken


1 1/2 cups Samuel Adams® OctoberFest
3-4 pound chicken, cleaned of fat, rinsed, and patted dry
Juice of one lemon
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (to taste)
1 teaspoon freshly crushed black pepper
1 large clove garlic
1 tablespoon dried sage or thyme (for fresh sage, use 1 teaspoon)
4 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened


Rub chicken inside and out with lemon juice. Sprinkle inside with half the salt and pepper. With side of cleaver, mash garlic and remaining salt to form paste and mix with sage and butter. Carefully lift skin on each side of the chicken breast and push some of the mixture under. Rub the remaining mixture over the outside. Tie it up and place the chicken breast side down on well greased rack in a shallow pan. Pour Samuel Adams® OctoberFest into pan and place in 425 degrees F oven for 40 minutes, basting every 10 minutes with beer and pan drippings. Turn breast side up and roast 25 minutes, basting every 8 minutes. The juices should run clear when you puncture the skin at the thigh joint.

Remove from pan and place on a heated platter. Cover with foil and allow to rest 10 minutes before carving. Serve with pan juices or make into gravy.
And now the notes since I am incapable of following a recipe exactly...
  • I used a package of bone-in chicken breasts instead of a whole chicken.
  • I added a bit of rosemary at my wife's suggestion.
  • I used a bottle of Samuel Adams Double Bock in lieu of an Octoberfest.
Other than that, the recipe went off without a hitch. I did not use the dripping for gravy but in retrospect, that sounds like a good idea. The chicken turned out moist and flavorful and I served it with some broccoli rice and steamed vegetables. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Beer at the Ballpark: Camden Yards, Baltimore

Baltimore has a long brewing tradition and Camden Yards makes a small nod to that by offering "Old Line Microbrew" kiosks offering better beer throughout the ballpark. There are two kiosks of this type on the main concourse and I spotted one way up in the concourse for the cheap seats; they are all basically the same. They offer local brews in the form of Heavy Seas Classic Lager, Falmouth Copper Ale, Flying Dog Old Scratch IPA and the imported Heineken. At some of these kiosks the selection is expanded to include Guinness, Smithwick's and Harp lager.

The prices are steep, $7.50 for a 16oz pour but considering the park is charging $7.25 for 16oz of Bud Light, it's a relative value. There is also a Blue Moon kiosk on the main concourse behind the home plate area, same price and a better option than Miller Lite.

In the luxury box section there are taps for Stella Artois and Samuel Adams Boston Lager at the various bars.

There are a lot of great beers brewed in Baltimore and Maryland in general and it would be great to see more of them represented at the park but there are some quality brews to choose from.

Now, if you are looking for a great beer experience before (or after) the game, just a block from the stadium is the Pratt Street Alehouse, specializing in English-style ales including three varieties on cask. The prices are good, the beer is great and its proximity to the ballpark make it a must stop if you are a lover of fine ale.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Coaster: Duvel

Still one of my favorite beers of all time, I picked up this Duvel coaster in Belgium as the dual Flemish/French tag  line gives away. Roughly translated, "Shhh...here we serve ourselves Duvel." It's a play on the slogan on the outside of the Moortgat brewery in Breedonk, "Shhh....here rests the Duvel."

Monday, August 30, 2010

Tasting Notes: Lancaster Kolsch

Brewery: Lancaster Brewing Company
Style: Kolsch
ABV: 4.8%
Date Poured: August 2010 

Tasting notes from the growler of kolsch I picked up fresh from the Lancaster Brewing Company brewpub/restaurant in Harrisburg, PA.

Pours a lustrous golden yellow with a generous frothy snowy white head. Smells strongly of noble hops, grassy and herbal. Some sweet pale malt present as well.

Crisp and light. The grassy hops take over quickly and add to the wonderful crispness and lightness of this beer. Just a hint of biscuity malt and lemony citrus. It's a refreshing ale and perfect for a hot summer day. According to the brewery's website, it's available in cans too, a point in its favor.

Great little summer beer, even better fresh from the brewery (I'd imagine...).

Lancaster Brewing Company

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Beer Travel: GrowlerQuest 2010! (Part 2)

On our way back through Harrisburg, heading west, I navigated a tangle of junctions for Interstates 83, 283 and state road 322 to reach the Lancaster Brewing Company, a restaurant bar that serves all the offerings from this brewery. I am a big fan of their Milk Stout but has not had a chance to try any of their other offerings. I went in, was directed back to the bar area and promptly was given a few samples.

Now, this was early July when the entire US east coast was sweltering through a heat wave. And coming in out of that 100+ degree heat, the Milk Stout, IPA and even the Hefeweizen all paled in comparison to the Lancaster Kolsch. It was crisp and lightly sweet with a wonderful flowery hop aroma. It was just what the doctor ordered. I ordered up a screw top growler full, paid the barkeep and moved on.

LBC of Harrisburg was a homey little restaurant and bar whose menu tries to skew to the upscale side of the normal pub fare. I'll have to get back here for a fuller experience.

As always, tasting notes to follow...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Cooking With Beer: Samuel Adams Pale Ale Corn Bread

No, this is not the most complicated recipe but I am, in fact, the world's worst baker. So this recipe seemed about my speed. Here it is, from the Samuel Adams website:

Pale Ale Corn Bread

1 1/2 cups Samuel Adams® Pale Ale or Samuel Adams® Summer Ale
2 cups flour
1 cup cornmeal
¾ teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven at 350. Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for 40 minutes.

Now the notes...

  • I was fresh out of pale ale, Samuel Adams or otherwise. I substituted a bottle of Rogue Brutal Bitter.
  • The recipe does not specify what kind of flour. I used 100% whole wheat flour which will have an affect on the bread later.
  • I used cornmeal from the (relatively) local Nora Mill located in Helen, GA.
  • Since I am the world's worst baker, I don't have a loaf pan. I went with a 9" pan I have used for corn bread in the past.

Basically, combine the ingredients...

Pour it into the pan...

And bake. I made this as a side for a pork loin I barbecued on my charcoal grill with potatoes and peppers. I decided to have a Sea Dog India Pale Ale, a malty, English-style IPA from Maine.

Because of the wheat flour, the bread didn't have the classic yellow/golden brown color of normal corn bread but it tasted good just the same. We're calling it a success but next time I'll try it with white flour.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Beer Travel: GrowlerQuest 2010! (Part 1)

Back from vacation and, as I am wont to do, managed to squeeze in a bit of beer hunting during the break. Since we were going to be spending plenty of time in Pennsylvania, I decided to focus on getting some fresh growlers from some PA breweries. Georgia law prohibits growler sales and I miss my days in Maine when I could just drive down the road and get a refill from my favorite local brewery. So growlers it was!

The first stop would be at Tröegs Brewery in Harrisburg, PA. I have had my big 2-liter German-style Troegs growler for more than 6 years now and filled it often when I would pass through town but haven't had a chance to use it since this trip nearly three years ago.

I arrived during the mid-afternoon so the place was pretty empty. The first thing I noticed was the expansion of the hospitality area as there were now tables to sit and enjoy samples but an expanded store as well. But more importantly, the taps were in the same spot...so I headed over to the taps to get my growler filled.  

I perused the list of beer on draft and noticed one I did not recognize. I asked what "Mouflan" was. "That's a barleywine," said the barkeep. "I'll take it," I replied. 

$15 filled my growler with Flying Mouflan, a relatively new offering from Tröegs, hopped with Chinook, Warrior, Nugget and Simcoe and weighing in at 9.3% ABV. How on earth I will be able to finish a growler of such a beast in the appropriate time is beyond me. Obviously, I will have to share.

There were lots of barrels stacked in the brewery, obviously an expansion of earlier experiments involving adding wild yeasts to standard brews and barrel aging them. 

Tasting notes to follow...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Coaster: Samuel Adams

In honor of the 25th anniversary of Boston Beer Company, I dug up one of these old Sam Adams coaster from the mid-90's. As you can see, the logo still shows the original stoic Sam Adams instead of the current "Party Patriot" that they use today. I probably got this from one of the Sam Adams airport pubs which were in their infancy at the time and kind of novel. Now, they are all over.

On the other side, there were various listings of awards won by the famous Boston Lager.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Beer at the Ballpark: Turner Field, Atlanta, GA

I can't believe I never thought of this before. I love baseball, I love beer...but I have trouble finding the good beer at the ballpark.

Lots of times it's not available at all but a lot of time it is there...just hidden unless you're looking for it. So here's the first installment; where the best beer is at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia.

Most of the beer at Turner Field is as you would imagine it; Budweiser and Miller are the staples, usually in cans, sometimes on draft. Scattered in various concessions, you may find some bottles of Blue Moon, Stella Artois or Pilsner Urquell but these appear without rhyme or reason.

The place to go in the Terrace Level of the stadium, to either outlet of the Tomahawk Tavern. There is one near Section 233 on the northeast side and one near Section 222 on the northwest side. Both offer a decent selection of bottled and draft beers. In bottles, there is Abita Purple Haze, Sam Adams Summer Ale, Sam Adams Light, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Pilsner Urquell and Guinness Draught in cans. On draft is Sweetwater 420, Blue Moon, Sam Adams Lager and Tomahawk Amber Lager (a crafty-type amber brewed by Budweiser).

On this particular scorcher of a night, I opted for something lighter and went with Blue Moon. At $6 for bottles and $7 for a draft, these beers are relative bargains compared to what you have to pay for Bud or Miller Light.

The Bottom Line
Location: Terrace Level, two locations near Section 222 and Section 233
Highlights: Sweetwater 420 (draft), Sam Adams Summer Ale, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Prices: $6 for premium bottles, $7 for 16 oz. drafts

Monday, June 28, 2010

Southern Beer News: 6/28

The big news in the Atlanta metro area today is that the excellent Brick Store Pub is tapping the first colloboration beer between Terrapin Beer and De Proefbrouwerij  today at 5:00 PM. The beer is described as an Imperial Flanders Red and is reported to be released to distributors on July 15th.

In other beer release news, beers from the 21st Amendment Brewery, based in San Francisco, began appearing on store shelves late last week. Cans of Hell or High Watermelon Wheat and Brew Free or Die are now all over the Atlanta metro area and the addition of more good canned beer to the mix is welcome indeed.

This is not new but Sweetwater has introduced a new year-round brew call Sch'Wheat. Billed as an unfiltered American wheat, it screams boring and probably won't appeal to me. But I'll have to try it at least once. The beer launched on June 1st.

The 3rd Annual Capital Ale House Virginia Beer Festival will be held from noon- 11:00 pm at their Midlothian restaurant on Saturday, July 3rd. Craft breweries from all over the state and live music all day.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cooking with Beer: Arrogant Prawn Gumbo

Here's a recipe I got from Beer Advocate magazine. (You can subscribe here...) It's almost worth the subscription price for the recipes alone.

The ingredients:

1 qt chicken stock
2 lb prawns
22 oz of Arrogant Bastard

4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2 ea andouille-style sausage, sliced
5 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 ea yellow, red and green bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2-6 tbsp Cajun spice blend
2 bay leaves
1 jalepeno pepper
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
2 tbsp Louisiana-style hot sauce
3 cups rice
3 green onions sliced thin


In a medium-sized pot, add the chicken stock, the shells from the prawn and the Arrogant Bastard. Simmer 30 minutes.

In a Dutch oven, over medium heat, add olive oil and butter. Add the sliced sausage and and stir until the meat has browned. Remove the sausage and set aside.

Add the flour to the oil and whisk to a loose paste. Turn the heat to low and brown the roux for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the onions, peppers and celery and saute until vegetables are fully cooked, about 15 minutes. Add some of the Cajun spice. Then add the bay leaves, garlic, tomatoes and tomato paste and cook for another 5 minutes.Add hot sauce and strained stock Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Add the sausage and Cajun spice to taste. Cook for 10 minutes. Add the prawns. Bring back to a boil, then remove from heat and cover, letting sit for 5 minutes.

Serve over rice, garnished with green onions.

A few notes:

* I didn't use andouille, I used a locally produced hot link sausage.
* I didn't use yellow onion...this is Georgia. Vidalia, of course.
* I made my own Cajun seasoning from spices on hand
* No Dutch Oven (yet) so I used the heaviest stainless steel pans I could muster.

After I was done cooking, I went to get an IPA to have with the meal...but could find none in my fridge. I had forgotten to check what I had on hand and had assumed that I had some on hand (as I usually do).

So I hit the beer closet to see what I had on deck and got lucky...a bomber of Stone Cali-Belgique IPA, which had the body and bitter hops to stand up to this hearty gumbo.

The recipe was a good one. I had never prepared the stock, or the roux for that matter, in such a deliberate way and it seemed to make a world of difference. I was thick, hearty, spicy and more complex tasting than any gumbo I've ever made before. It's a lot of work but I'll definitely be using this recipe again.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bottles of Barley: The Reboot

It's time to reboot the blog!

Not in a design sense (at least not yet) but in focus and content. I started this blog around the planning and chronicling of a beer trip to Belgium. That thrust kept things going for awhile. But that trip was almost two years ago and the blog has lost focus and steam. Big time.

My other blog serves as therapy and for some reason the loose structure works and allows my mind to travel where it will go. Over here though, the lack of structure is strangling whatever momentum I had going.

So here's the bit of structure I am proposing to get the blog back on track:

Tasting Notes - once a week: When I tend to get back to blogging, Tasting Notes tend to be what I fall back on. And they get monotonous, for me and for you I'd imagine. One and only one per week.

Local/Regional Beer News - once a week: To help keep the readers and myself more plugged in to the Atlanta/Southeastern beer scene.

Coasters/Breweriana - 3-5 times a month: I have a ton of coasters as well as other pieces of breweriana. I'll be posting pictures of those a few times a month.

Out of the Cellar - twice a month: I have a lot of beers in my cellar. I think I can afford to drink 24 bottles a year. Time to get tasting.

Cooking with Beer - twice a month: These posts are relatively new but I like them a lot. Need to do this more, even if it's a simple recipe.

Beer Hunting/Beer Travel - once a month: These are the posts I love the most. I need to find ways to get more of these done.

The Session - more!: I need to participate in The Session more. Get the juices flowing.

That's something like 17 posts a month which is ambitious for me but it's a good target to get things moving.

I'll start this next week. Here's to beer!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Beer Travel: Kickbacks Gastropub, Jacksonville, FL

I headed down to Jacksonville, Florida this past weekend and, as I am want, tried to find a place to have a good pint with dinner. I succeeded.

I found Kickbacks Gastropub in the old historic district of Jacksonville. It's a bit of a contradiction. At first glance, it looks like a typical dive bar but boasts 60 taps and an extensive bottle list. It is filled with flat screen TVs but blasts loud music instead of the game. You wouldn't expect to be able to get much more than pub fare or a burger for food but they have quite the gourmet menu (at least, that's what they shoot for).

One of the first things you notice is the large board with neon writing on it that details the 60 taps available that evening. I decided to get a draft of Terrapin Oak Aged Wake N' Bake and figure out what to eat. The server was prompt, attentive and knew his beer. We talked about the beers he had on tap and he brought me out the extensive bottle list too.

I decided to go with The Harpoons; skewers of broiled bacon-wrapped shrimp and scallops and they were served with steamed broccoli and fried onion chips. They were very good, much better than most pub food I have had. Was it fantastic? No but they are aiming high and it's damn good...especially when you consider all the good beer.

The Terrapin Oak Aged Wake N Bake was very good. I usually don't think that oak aging stouts works that well but this one turned out pretty well. It doesn't really improve the beer any but it does make for some pleasant differences.The oak aging adds some nice dark fruit notes to the stout but doesn't overpower the roasty coffee flavors that make the beer so great.

I chatted with the server about a good local beer to try and he suggested something from Cigar City Brewing. Cigar City is based in Tampa and started brewing in 2008. I decided to try the Jai Alai IPA. And it was a good choice. It's well-balanced but with strong citrusy hop profile. Orange, grapefruit and apricot with a bready malt backbone. The website says it weighs in at 7.5%...really tasty and smooth even at that strength. I was impressed. (Between Cigar City and Saint Somewhere, I may have to revamp my entire thinking of what Florida breweries are capable of...)

Only one point of feedback...the draft beer list. It's on a couple of greaseboards (see the fist picture) and the writing is so small I had to get up and walk over to the list to read what was there. Maybe I'm just getting old. Or they could invest in a couple big chalkboards so you can read it from across the pub.

Kickbacks Gastropub is the best beer bar in Jacksonville. I wish this place had been open when I live here.

A couple beer sidenotes from the rest of the trip...

Stopped out by Singleton's Seafood Shack in Mayport as I always do. Even straight out of a bottle, Sam Adams Boston Lager goes great with fresh seafood.

Out at the The Baseball Grounds in Jacksonville, the European Street Cafe runs a "Biergarten" where you can get good beer while you watch the Jacksonville Suns play ball, which is always welcome.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tasting Notes: Lancaster Milk Stout

Brewery: Lancaster Brewing Company
Style: Milk Stout
ABV: 5.3%
Date Poured: April 2010

First has this a couple years back while stranded in Philadelphia International Airport. It was in a little airport bar, on draft, and was the highlight of my extended stay in the The City of Brotherly Love. I found this bottle...actually I don't remember where I got this beer but it was most likely either on a recent trip through the Carolinas or a recent trip to Sarasota. I wanted to revisit it and see if the bottled version holds up the the draft.

Pours an opaque brown with hints of mahogany highlights about the edges, topped by a thin creamy (but persistent) brown head. Smells prominently of roasted barley with a milkiness (or lactose) providing the background for the mocha-like aroma.

In the mouth, the lactose and creaminess are very up front in this beer but with an underlying (yet balancing) coffee-like bitterness. It certainly sweet but the roasty bitterness makes itself known. The bitterness especially is prominent in the aftertaste, long and lingering. There's just a touch of dark fruit in there too. Mouth is smooth and creamy, making it easy to drink. It's nicely balanced, well crafted and tasty.

It doesn't blow me away like it did on draft but it is still really good from the bottle. A fine example of a milk/cream stout if you're looking to try one.

Lancaster Brewing Company

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tasting Notes: Konig Ludwig Weiss

Brewery: Konig Ludwig International
Style: Hefeweizen
ABV: 5.5%
Date Poured: April 2010

It's summer in Atlanta again so it's time to crack open some wheat beers. I have managed to find a German hefeweizen that I have never sampled before, Konig Ludwig Weiss. This beer is produced by a Bavarian brewery literally owned by Bavarian royalty as the company is headed by Prinz Luitpold von Bayern. I would expect this to be pretty traditional.

The very hazy body is the color of straw with a modest, frothy head. Smells of clove, lightly of honey and some lemon. There's just a touch of ripe banana back there too.

Lots of lemon and clove in the mouth. Sweet and bready, but muted, wheat malt. A bit sour. Some peppery spice in there too. I am searching for the ripe banana but find none. Crisp and fizzy, clean finish.

It's a good refreshing hefeweizen. It doesn't rank among my favorites (I think Paulaner still makes my favorite hefe) but it's certainly worth a try.

Konig Ludwig International

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tasting Notes: Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter

Brewery: Great Lakes Brewing Company
Style: Porter
ABV: 5.8%
Date Poured: April 2010

I picked this one up on a trip through North Carolina a few weeks back. I should clarify; I picked up a full six-pack, not just one. I've had this during a couple trips to Cleveland and have enjoyed it. Haven't tried it in more than two years so I was curious to see if I still love it.

Pours opaque brown with enormous frothy brown head. Lots of thick lacing. Some coffee notes in the nose with a light milk chocolate aroma and a hint of roastiness.

Creamy mouth, equal parts bitter coffee, roastiness and milk chocolate smooth and luscious

Alternately dry and sweet maltiness up front. Morphs into strong roasted coffee bean flavors. This is like porter's greatest hits. Smoky, sweet, creamy and bitter. Coffee and milk chocolate and damn smooth. It has it all. Really like this creamy mouthfeel, it's just so luscious. Roasty, mocha flavor in the finish that linger through the aftertaste. Easy drinker but full of flavor.

It's still very, very good and I look forward to working my way through the rest of the sixer. One of the best porters in the country. A bold statement but I think the beer merits the title.

Great Lakes Brewing Company

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Cooking with Beer: Guinness Cake

With time and money too short for brewing and road trips on the back burner, I decided I would start cooking with beer a bit more to sharpen my skills and see what I could create.

This recipe comes from the NPR website and goes like this:

1 cup Guinness (or other stout)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder*
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda (make sure it's less than 6 months old for maximum leavening power)
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan, place a round of parchment paper on the bottom and butter it, then flour the pan.

Place the stout and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.

Whisk in cocoa powder until mixture is smooth.

Thoroughly combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in large bowl. In another bowl, beat together the eggs and sour cream until well-blended. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed.

Finish mixing by folding batter with a spatula until completely combined. Pour batter in the springform pan and bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Place cake on a rack and cool for 10 minutes, then remove the sides of the pan and cool completely.

Beat together the cream cheese and sugar. Add cream and vanilla and mix. Spread icing on top of cake to echo the appearance of a glass of Guinness and its head of foam.

Now a few notes...

  • The recipe didn't specify what variety of Guinness so I went with the more popular Guinness Draft from the can over the Guinness Extra Stout from the bottle.
  • My cake pan is nowhere near deep enough. I had extra batter and my cake still spilled a bit as it rose and then burned on the bottom of my oven.
  • There may be nothing so decadent as sticks of butter simmering in stout. Observe:

Overall, I'll call it a success. I am not a fan of cream cheese icing but it did turn out quite well. The wife and kids enjoyed it even more than I did. I'm a lousy baker but this turned out as well as could be expected.

Friday, January 8, 2010

12 Beers of Christmas, Day 12: Trader Joe's Vintage 2009

Brewery: Trader Joe's Brewing Company/Unibroue
Style: Strong Belgian Ale
ABV: 9.0%

Date Poured: January 2009

Sure, this is sold at Trader Joe's and marketed under the Trader Joe's Brewing moniker but the cork cage features the familiar purple "U" that signifies that this beer comes from the great Unibroue brewery. So let's pop the cork and enjoy some Quebecois "ale sur lees".

Pours a deep opaque brown, damn near black, with the signature Unibroue "voluminous head of froth". Lots of yeasty and dark fruity aromas. Raisins, black currant and a breadiness in the nose.

In the mouth, rich dark fruit, really big and deep, dark fruity flavors. So fruity and so luscious and vinous. Raspberry, black currant, ripe plum...bready too. Thick but smooth with just a hint of warming alcohol. Not too sticky in the finish though, the alcohol cleans the palate just enough to keep it from being overly cloying.

If this is not just a rebottled version of Unibroue's Trois Pistoles, it's a variation on the theme. And at $4.99 a bottle, that's a great value for a very cellarable beer. My other bottle joins my cellar collection today and I need to get out to TJ's to grab another couple bottles.

Friday, January 1, 2010

12 Beers of Christmas, Day 11: Jolly Pumpkin Noel de Calabaza Special Ale

Brewery: Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, Dexter, MI
Style: Belgian Kerstbier (?)
ABV: 9.0%
Date Poured: December 2009

Popping the cork on this bottle reveals a foamer. Foam pours steadily out for many minutes in the sink. Pours a dark opaque brown with a enormous lacy froth on top. I have to wait a few minutes before I can even dip my nose in it. Yeasty and fruity in the nose, some vanilla and sweet spice...clove?

Ooof! In the mouth, it's an explosion of spice, yeast, ripe grapes, alcohol, baked apples, spiced pears and vanilla. Some wine-y flavors, sweet spice, maybe clove, some caramel and toffee flavors way back there too. There's a cidery character and easy to drink considering the complexity and ABV. As it warms, there a rum flavor...or maybe whiskey. No, it's a rummy flavor for sure. Like rum soaked raisins. Long fruity finish and aftertaste.

It's a Belgian-styled wonder of a Christmas ale. Exquisite and highly recommended.

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

Thursday, December 31, 2009

12 Beers of Christmas, Day 10: Dominion Baltic Porter

Brewery: Old Dominion Brewing Co., Dover, DE
Style: Baltic Porter
ABV: 6.8%
Date Poured: December 2009

I had a version of this beer about six years ago and although it was good, I haven't had it since. This is mostly because I could not easily get Dominion offerings where I lived but when I saw this at my local bottle shop, I had to grab one.

Pours black as night with a thin brown head that quickly evaporates to nothing at all. Smells of roasty malt, mixed with dark fruit and a just hint of smoke.

No surprises in the mouth as it reflects the nose almost perfectly. Roasty and dark fruit (raisiny) with a fairly chewy body but creamy as well. The roasted malt and fruit mix nicely and the creamy texture makes it go down smooth. The alcohol sneaks up on you a bit since there's nary a hint of booziness. Creamy, mocha-like finish and a lingering roastiness in the aftertaste.

It's as straightforward as a Baltic Porter can be, balanced the fruitiness and the roastiness well and is smooth as velvet. What's not to like? Six years is a long time to wait between samples...but I think they have improved the recipe since then

Old Dominion Brewing

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

12 Beers of Christmas, Day 9: Stone/Nogne Ø/Jolly Pumpkin Holiday Ale

Brewery: Stone Brewing, Jolly Pumpkin, Nøgne Ø
Style: Winter Warmer
ABV: 9.0%
Date Poured: December 2009

Here's a unique brew. What do you get when Stone, Nøgne Ø and Jolly Pumpkin get together to brew a holiday ale? You get a 9.0% ABV behemoth brewed with 25% rye malt, white sage, juniper berries, caraway seed and chestnuts. Chestnuts! According to the Stone website, this ale was brewed just once for the 2008 holiday season so I guess I'm lucky to have found some.

It's murky brown in the glass and a thinnish but creamy tan head.Smells very Stone-y if you know what I mean. The malt smells very much like Arrogant Bastard. Big bitter hops with some citrusy hops underneath. Hint of alcohol.

Definitely some alcohol in the mouth, spicy, fruity with a pronounced juniper berry quality adding bitterness, Big bruising malt profile. I mean, this must be hopped but I am having a hard time telling if it's the juniper or some other form of bittering being used.. Again, spicy in the finish, must be the sage. I suppose there's a nutty quality to this ale form the chestnuts but I'd be hard pressed to detect it if I didn't know it was in there. Biug sticky mouthfeel. It a liquid meal.

Very unique ale, very tasty and very well suited for winter. I doubt I can find any more...but I'll keep my eyes open.

Stone Brewing

Nøgne Ø

Jolly Pumpkin