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Saturday, January 29, 2011

White Rascal (Avery)

This Belgian white was a change from the stronger Averys that I'm used to. I got a six pack of this wheat to help combat the winter blahs.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: The white foam was gone after a little bit. The smell is wheat and lemon pith. This was a straw-colored beer. I wouldn't call it gold or yellow. It's almost white in certain light. You get the cloud swirls from the wheat sediment, but it is almost translucent. This gave me a bad first impression. I was thinking it would be flavorless and watery. 

Taste: The taste was smooth. It was a mellow wheat. Not watery at all. You get an acidic hit after a beat, but it fades fast leaving you with an almost creamy feel. It has little aftertaste. It was nice and light, not flavorless and bland.

From the Avery site:
Beer Style: Belgian White Ale
Hop Variety: Czech Saaz
Malt Variety: Two-row barley, Belgian wheat
OG: 1.050   ABV: 5.6%   IBUs: 10 
Color: White

A truly authentic Belgian style wheat or "white" ale, this Rascal is unfiltered (yup, that's yeast on the bottom) and cleverly spiced with coriander and Curacao orange peel producing a refreshingly fruity thirst quencher.

Blue Moon Belgian White (Coors)

This Belgian-style wheat ale used to be a go-to standard for me when a bar didn't have Guinness on tap. I used this beer in my turkey brine last Nov. It's no Paulaner, but it is a decent wheat.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: Foamy white head dissipated quickly. It's a cloudy orange-tinted gold. You get a wheat and orange peel smell.

Taste: You get the strong wheat first thing with the orange citrus taste. It isn't as smooth as other wheat beers, but it's still drinkable. The aftertaste lingers a little. It's a standard wheat. Better than some, and not as good as others. And yes, when I get an orange in it at a bar...I eat the beer-soaked orange.

From the Blue Moon site:
Unfiltered for more depth of flavor and a unique, cloudy appearance.

Ingredients white wheat, oats, coriander, orange peel.
  • Full flavor with a smooth finish.
  • Light, spice citrus flavors go great with chicken, seafood and pork.
Best when garnished with a slice of orange to bring out the natural spices and subtle fruit flavor.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dogfather (Laughing Dog)

Now this was one I couldn't pass up from the label alone. It seemed creative, innovative, and well done. I can't hide that I have a bit of love for the Puzo/Coppola masterpiece, so the beer....well I needed it. Of course, my fondness of dark stouts didn't hurt either.

My odd obsession did well for me this time. Though, this may have added to it. A book, a movie, and a stout.

I brought out this brew during a Godfather movie marathon. (Although, just watching the first one may count as a marathon.) I also happened to be in the mood for Imperial Stouts that afternoon. This beer really added to the experience. I found myself watching the beer more than the film!

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: It had a thick, creamy, chocolate-colored head that stayed for a long time. Five minutes after a very careful pour it was still going strong. It looks like a root beer float as it settles. This brew is so black that I could see my reflection in the glass. It was so thick on the pour that it drizzled out of the bomber, high viscosity goodness. The bubbly head left quite a bit of lacing behind, which illustrates the level of malt we were dealing with. It had a bitter roasted smell.

Taste: I enjoyed this one more than the Upland Teddy Bear Kisses that I had prior. This says a lot, because I really enjoyed that. This seems to have similar bitter levels, but was more chocolaty. (Although, TBK is 80 IBU and Dogfather is 71 IBU.) It was creamier and lighter. It was mellow. I could taste the alcohol more in this, but smell it more in the Upland brew. Don't take my favor toward this one over that too seriously, because I can generally say that my favorite beer is the beer in hand. The aftertaste is more like chocolate milk than espresso.

Love the movie, love the beer!

From the Laughing Dog site:
“I've got a brew You Cant Refuse”
The Dogfather is one of the biggest brews we have made.
Weighing in at a hefty 11% percent, the Dogfather has 7 malts and 4 different hops giving it a complex flavor profile.
Over 11 months in the making some of the Dogfather is bourbon barrel aged.
This is a very limited release for the first of November, Get it before it’s gone!
But trust us, it will be back next year.

Teddy Bear Kisses (Upland)

I haven't had many Upland brews, but learned about them at the Indiana Brew Fest. Some local brew pubs keep Upland on their guest taps. It's no secret that I like dark stouts, so I had to grab this off the shelf of my local liquor shop.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: It had a creamy chocolate-colored head. You can see how nicely it came out in my blurry picture. It was a good three-finger head. This brew was black, jet black. It smelled like an imperial stout, roasted with an alcohol smell. It poured very thick. It smells bitter too.

Taste: Flavor explosion! Bitter chocolate and roast. You taste the malt for a bit, but then the bitter kills it. It feels as thick in my mouth as I'd expect from the pour. The bitter cuts through the creaminess of it though, giving it a sharper flavor.The bitter aftertaste subsides and leaves you with the taste of a good espresso. It also leaves your mouth watering for more.  I really like this one! I'd definitely have it again.

From the Upland site:
A dark and robust beer brewed in the traditional stout method. Teddy Bear Kisses features an abundance of dark malts and high alpha hops for a powerful impact of roast, chocolate, and sweet bitterness. The lucky few who cuddle up to a warming session with Teddy Bear Kisses sense the velvety malt character, balanced bitter intensity, and soothing chocolate notes created by long aging on fair trade cocoa nibs. Teddy Bear Kisses will make you feel warm and happy inside, but it’s definitely not your childhood cuddle toy.
Teddy Bear Kisses won a Gold Medal in the 2010 World Beer Championships.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Kilkenny (St. Francis Abbey)

This Irish cream ale is a delight. I'm learning a bit in this blogging adventure. Apparently, Kilkenny is a variant of Smithwick's Irish Red Ale. It is also owned by Guinness. Yet it seems impossible to find a website for it.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: I was excited when it came to the table. It was still settling. The waves of thick creaminess rippling through it. The head was wonderful and hung on to the very end. This brew was more of a brown-gold to me. Not as copper-colored as some.

Taste: It was so creamy. When I took my first sip it was mellow and then I got a spike of bitter. Did I mention it was creamy? Good competition for a Wexford. I'd have to taste them together to pick.  

Smithwick's Irish Ale (Smithwick's)

This Irish red ale from Kilkenny has been a favorite of mine as long as I've been able to drink. It's a classic go-to beer. I've never been able to explain why. Even as I developed a taste for hoppy and bitter, this ale is still one of my favorites. This is probably the first time I've sat down with a Smithwick's and thought about it this much!

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: It has a rich amber-brown color. It's on the dark side for an Irish ale. The head is white and thick. Malty and floral hop smell.

Taste: This brew is just comforting to me as soon as it hits my tongue. I think my brain has problems thinking about it critically, because it's such a known taste to me now. It's the perfect level of malt. Not sweet, very mellow. You get a short aftertaste.

It has a bit of a weird history that throws me off a bit. It was brewed by Smithwick's, but purchased by Guinness in 1965. They are listed also as being owned by Great Northern Brewery.

From the Smithwick's site:
Smithwick's is Ireland's favourite ale, from a tradition of ale brewing founded in 1710.

Clean and delicate with different individual notes:
Fruit: From the top fermentation by the Smithwick's yeast, come aromatic "esters", creating a fruity aroma.
Floral: The Aroma Hops - added late in the boil, contribute clean, fresh floral notes.
Malty: Ale Malt, contributes aroma hinds of biscuit and caramel.

Smithwick's is a clear beer with a rich ruby colour and creamy head.

  • Refreshing & clean, with a gentle balance of:
  • Bitterness from the Hops added early in the boil
  • Sweet/malty notes from the ale malt, and
  • Hint of roast/coffee - from the roasted barley.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

1664 (Kronenbourg)

I'm not even going to spend a lot of time on this one. It was yellow, and it didn't have much head. It was light. It had a surprisingly sweet flavor to it. Not malty, just a hint of sweet. It just wasn't good. Not good at all.

On their site is says they are the French Premium Beer. It's owned by Carlsberg.

I believe it...just not for me. It wasn't terrible. Better than other yellow beers. I actually left it on the table. Second time ever I've done that. I went and got a Smithwick's. I'd never pay for this again.

From their UK site:
"Most beers give you a taste hit. One second of flavour, then absolutely nothing. But Kronenbourg 1664 isn't 'most beers'. It’s specially brewed for a unique aromatic flavour that lingers long after the first taste. You've been waiting all day for a cold beer, so slow down, put your feet up, open a Kronenbourg 1664"

More info:

McCaffery's Irish Cream (Argus)

I had to try this one at Ballydoyle's in Downer's Grove, IL. It promised to be Wexford-ish, and I was at an "Irish Pub". It's only available in this pub.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: Looks a bit Wexford-ish. Great color, copper. A really nice creamy head. I didn't smell much, but didn't try to hard. It settled quick (think crazy Guinness/Boddington's settling). The head stayed forever. It hung on until my last sip.

Taste: It had a sweet turn to it. You get a malty taste with a turn. I had somewhat of a watery aftertaste. Sweet. Not a huge fan. Wasn't as creamy as I'd like. I'll take a Wexford any time. Nice try Chicago brewery. It was great for this restaurant though. Went good with my corned beef appetizer and my steak boxty. I liked it, but prefer others. If I was at this pub again, I'd probably go for a Guinness though. 

From the Argus site
Subtle malt aromas of caramel & nuts followed by a mild but refined hop nose using imported hops.
Middle copper color with a dense, creamy, long lasting head. 
Moderately full malt flavors followed a mild hop bitterness.
Overall Impression:
A smooth, light bodied and subtle malty ale.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Iniquity (Southern Tier)

This Imperial Black Ale was a Southern Tier selection that I could not pass up. It's black, it's an ale, what can go wrong? Not sure about the imperial part though.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: Chocolate bubbly head. Looks like a Guinness from afar, but the head isn't as creamy. It is a really dark brown. It smells of malty roast. The head stays around for a bit, but doesn't stay long. At the end it had a tiny bit of lacing.

Taste: Super creamy! Unexpectedly. It tastes very malty, just a touch of bitter. It almost tastes like malta with that sweetish molasses taste. It was a good version of ShoreLine's Lost Sailor Imperial Stout. It was much more balanced and well-rounded though. It comes at you as a wave with a malty base. You get a bit of that bitter moving through, but end with a malty aftertaste coating your mouth. It was perfectly carbonated for a brew of this consistency. This wouldn't make my list of favorites, but that's personal preference. I'm more of a hop kid than malt. This was very, very good though. I would recommend it.

**I totally drank it in the wrong glass. It recommends a Southern Tier Tulip, but there is something about this that screamed pint glass to me. I wasn't disappointed.**

the antithesis of unearthly

The hexagram talisman has been used around the world for centuries to invoke magic and good luck. The six–point star is also the customary symbol of the brewer, representing the essential aspects of purity: water, hops, grain, malt, yeast, and of course, the brewer. Wishes of good fortune often collaborate with the brewer’s creativity to yield dramatic results. We carefully chose the name for this Imperial India Black Ale, Iniquity – a word opposing goodness. Why? This beer is contrary to what one may expect from an IPA; this is an ale as black as night. It is the antithesis of Unearthly. Some may consider it an immoral act to blacken an ale. We suggest they don’t rely on conventional standards. Allow the darkness to consume you. Cheers!
9.0% abv • Imperial Black Ale • 22 oz / 1/2 keg / 1/6 keg

Thursday, January 20, 2011

La Choulette de Noël (La Choulette)

This French holiday bière de garde is distributed by The Shelton Brothers. This is the last holiday beer that I have. The label and bottle made me think of traditional Belgian holiday ales.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: White frothy head. Hung around for a bit, but not too long. It clings to the glass as it goes down. After that, it didn't have much lacing. This is definitely more brown than I was expecting. It smelled nice and malty.

Taste: It tasted surprisingly sweet. It tasted like juice. It was very light weight, not as thick as I like for my holiday beers. The flavor was not very complex. I kept swirling and warming and trying to get some flavor. I even held it in my mouth and sucked it down like a weirdo trying to get some taste. The aftertaste I did get was sweet. I just didn't taste fermented, it just had a tiny bit of tang.

"La Choulette bière de Noël (alcool 7 % vol.),
Habillée d’ambre brun aux chatoyants reflets cuivrés, coiffée d’une belle mousse blanche et dense, telle est la Choulette de Noël qui, pour cet hiver 2010, ravira palais et papilles.
L’artisan brasseur a assemblé malt biscuit, malt caramel et malt chocolat ; les orges parfumées et cultivées en région Nord se marient alors à l’amertume franche des houblons Target et à l’arôme légèrement épicé des Brewers gold.
Grâce à cette alchimie, la Choulette de Noël développe un nez subtil avec de jolies notes fruitées et aromatiques. La plénitude se confirme en bouche. Ronde, douce et charnue, la bière de saison offre un bel équilibre avec une dominante de caramel.
La Choulette de Noël 2010, une création signée du maître des lieux Alain Dhaussy.
- Température de dégustation entre 10 et 12°C.

Conditionnement : en bouteille de 75 cl, 33 cl et 25 cl"

Babelfish Translation....probably terrible:
"Choulette de Printemps of blazing the reflections of amber and coppered gold.
A white and consistent foam, strewn with fine bubbles, also comes to crown it.
As for the nose of a spring freshness, it releases from the delicately caramelized malt flavours which subtle honey keys exaltent. Finely hopped in mouth, the beer of season develops a particularly pleasant balanced savour.
Such is Choulette de Printemps worked out in 2010 per Alain Dhaussy: one spring of amber and light announcing freshness and sparkling. Which beautiful season!.
- Temperature of tasting 8°C

Conditioning: out of bottle of 75 Cl and 25 Cl."

Sunday, January 16, 2011

La Folie 2010 (New Belgium)

This sour brown ale from New Belgium's Lips of Faith Series was aged for 1-3 yrs in French Oak barrels. New Belgium has some decent beers. Not a ton of variation among their standards, but they have some go-to brews. I did not get a pack of 2° Below this year...actually this is the first New Belgium I've had in a while.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: Light head that dissipated quickly. Very dark brown. Smells like green olives. I smell a really light oak. Not like most oaked beers; perfect enough to enjoy.

Taste: Sour, but not skunky. Light enough as not to over do it, but strong enough to really enjoy it. It tastes a little flat, but then you get light bubbles tingling on your tongue. I taste vinegar too, not just sour...vinegar. Not in a bad way though; it's the acid. Reminds me more of wine than beer. I don't get a ton of malt, and the hops are almost absent. A little sweet aftertaste from the malt, or maybe my tongue is combating the sour. The aftertaste is also very dry.

From the New Belgian site:
La Folie Wood-Aged Biere, is our original wood-conditioned beer, resting in French Oak barrels between one and three years before being bottled. Peter Bouckaert, came to us from Rodenbach home of the fabled sour red. Our La Folie emulates the spontaneous fermentation beers of Peter s beloved Flanders with sour apple notes, a dry effervescence, and earthy undertones. 
New in 2010, we'll do a single bottling of La Folie for the year. Collect the 22oz unique to 2010 designed bottle and start a yearly wood-aged collection of goodness.
Just the facts Ma'am...
ABV -6.0%
IBU -18
Calories -200
Hops -Target
Malts -Pale, Munich, Carpils, C-80, Chocolate
OG -15.2
TG -3.2

Double Bastard (Stone)

I had been waiting for this ale for a while, since I saw the recipe for the Double Bastard Brownies. I bought some bottles as soon as I saw them, but just finally sat down to enjoy it now.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: Nice creamy head. Dark amber brown. You could smell the hops and the malt.

Taste: This didn't have the hop overload you get with Arrogant Bastard. It's more mellow. You get a great balance between malt and hops. It is still extremely flavorful and complex. The smell totally comes through when you're drinking it. It's a whole package. The aftertaste lingers, and it just makes it all that much better. A wonderful brew. I'd love to stock up on this one as good feel-better brew.

From the Stone site:
"This is one lacerative muther of an ale. It is unequivocally certain that your feeble palate is grossly inadequate and thus undeserving of this liquid glory...and those around you would have little desire to listen to your resultant whimpering. Instead, you slackjawed gaping gobemouche, slink away to that pedestrian product that lures agog the great unwashed with the shiny happy imagery of its silly broadcast propaganda. You know, the one that offers no challenge, yet works very, very hard to imbue the foolhardy with the absurd notion that they are exercising ‘independent’ thought, or attempts to convey the perception it is in some way ‘authentic’ or ‘original.’ It’s that one that makes you feel safe and delectates you into basking in the warm, fuzzy, and befuddled glow of your own nescience. Why so many allow themselves to be led by the nose lacks plausible explanation. Perhaps you have been so lulled by the siren song of ignorance that you don’t even notice your white-knuckle grip on it. You feel bold and unique, but alas are nothing but sheep, willingly being herded to and fro. If you think you are being piqued in this text, it is nothing when compared to the insults we are all asked to swallow streaming forth from our televisions and computers. Truth be told, you are being coddled into believing you are special or unique by ethically challenged “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” marketers who layer (upon layer) imagined attributes specifically engineered to lead you by the nose. Should you decide to abdicate your ability to make decisions for yourself, then you are perhaps deserving of the pabulum they serve. Double Bastard Ale calls out the garrulous caitiffs who perpetrate the aforementioned atrocities and demands retribution for their outrageously conniving, intentionally misleading, blatantly masturbatory and fallacious ad campaigns. We demand the unmitigated, transparent truth. We demand forthright honesty. We want justice! Call ‘em out and line ‘em up against the wall... NOW."

Krampus (Southern Tier)

I thought I was nearing the end of my holiday beer stash, but found this lager hanging out in the back of my lovely 1960's blue beer fridge. Southern Tier joins the ranks of beers for me that I take for granted. They have a decent track record. Even though they have a great and diverse set of brews, and are continually coming out with new and different recipes, I seem to by-pass them for something else.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: I was trying to get some good head on this, but it was pretty light. No issue for me though, it was great. Even with the light head, it had good carbonation. It was a pale amber color. It smelled like sour apples.

Taste: This had an earthy taste, it was the hops...earthy hops. It was super bitter. Bitter melon kind of bitter. It was tart at the same time. It had a light after taste with spikes of bitter as I sat there. I know it was too cold, but it was hard to warm up in this weather. As it warmed the bitter mellowed out and the tart balanced it out. It didn't change too much. Not a typical noel-style holiday beer, but didn't claim to be. It's a nice departure from that. I will definitely try to stock this next year for that balance.

"are you naughty or nice?
St. Nicholas, aka Santa Claus, is a magical figure, the bringer of gifts and an icon of holiday spirit. Forgotten by most is his evil side kick and enforcer of ‘the list’. European tradition says while St. Nick is busy delivering presents to good little boys and girls, Krampus hands out punishments to the bad. A fanged, goat-horned bully, the Christmas Devil uses sticks and chains to beat the naughty children. Dark malts and aromatic hops create the diabolical spirit of this brew. It is finished with lager yeast and aged cold for no less than 30 days. This Imperial Helles Lager will warm even the darkest hearts.
This season, replace the cookies with a bottle of Krampus. If he happens to pay a visit, toast to him with this devilish brew. Merry Kramp-mas to all, and to all a good pint!
9.3% abv. • 20º plato • Imperial Helles Lager • 22 oz / 1/6 keg"

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Slow Cooked Green Chili Chicken

If you're in the mood for something a little spicy with complex flavor, this will work every time.

2 Chicken Breasts (boneless and skinless)
2 Poblano Peppers
1/2 Yellow Onion
3 cloves Garlic
5 Tomatillos (large)
1 Green Plantain
Drizzle of Olive Oil

Seasoning and Spices
1/2 tsp Chili Powder 
1/2 tsp Cayenne
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
**For the spices you can cut back or add as much as you want to tone it down or spice it up. You can add half of a bell pepper instead of one of the poblanos, but I like the tang of the poblanos better.
  1. Roughly chop up the peppers and onion (about 1 in. pieces). Mince the garlic. Cut the plantain in 1 in. slices and then in half.
  2. Peel and wash the tomatillos well. Puree the tomatillos with a handful of the chopped onions and poblanos. (I know it's not precise, you just want to get some of that flavor in while leaving more than half of it to cook with the meat.)
  3. Season the chicken with half of the spices, and brown it in a pan.
  4. After the chicken is fully browned, move it to a deep baking dish. Pour the tomatillo puree over the meat.
  5. At medium heat, drizzle a bit of olive oil in the pan that the chicken was browning in. Add the rest of the onions and poblanos. Add a bit of water to help deglaze the pan.
  6. Cook for 5 minutes or until the peppers and onion are soft. Mix in the garlic, and remove from heat.
  7. Add this vegetable mixture to the deep baking dish. Add plantains and the rest of the seasonings mixture. Stir well to combine it all.
  8. Cook covered at 325° for 1 1/2 hrs.
I like to shred chicken and serve over white rice. The plantains help thicken it up a bit to a nice sauce.

Adoration (Ommegang)

Ommegang is one of those breweries that I take for granted. I know that they consistently brew enjoyable beverages, so I bypass them in the sake of  something new. I had to purchase this holiday brew to make sure I had a full taste this season.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This reddish-brown ale had a white frothy head. It smelled mulled and sweetly malty. I could smell fruit...pears. Funny, you usually smell red fruit or citrus in beers, especially holiday ones. This pear smell was refreshing. I know from the description on the bottle (and site) that it was supposed to have all of these wonderful spices. My smell isn't refined enough to pick them out...I can just say that it smelled like mulled wine.

Taste: It was creamy and complemented the chocolate stout tart I was eating. I drank this one for a while though, so I got a good taste of it aside from the food I was eating it with. It was warming and tart, with the creamy consistency of a milk stout. The aftertaste was pear.

From the Ommegang site:
"Ommegang announces our first Strong Winter Ale, named Adoration, becoming available from mid-October through December, all across the US.

Ommegang Adoration, brewed in the authentic style of Belgian winter, or noel beer, is dark, strong, malty and assertively spiced.

At 10% abv Adoration is not a lightweight beer, and is best sipped before a roaring fire, or on a sleigh ride over the hills to Grandma’s house. (But let someone else drive.) It would also be a tasty accompaniment to dark roasts and wild game.  Even at the strong abv, the beer is well-balanced and not at all hot or fiery. The dark malts give it lush, malty flavors and aromas, strongly complemented by the five spices, including coriander, cumin, mace, cardamom and grains of paradise. Hopping is modest, as befits such a beer."

Chocolate Indulgence (Ommegang)

I enjoyed this stout on tap in a goblet. I was hesitant to try this chocolate stout, because I'm not one for chocolate beers. I've seen it a number of times in stores, and I shied away from it. Ommegang does  have a good record with me though. On tap, I couldn't resist.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: Perfectly dark with a chocolate-colored creamy head. It smelled of rich chocolate, not like a hot chocolate. Not too sweet, but not too bitter. The creaminess clung to the glass with a good bit of lacing.

Taste: It has a great creamy consistency. It coats the mouth. You taste the bitter chocolate and stout; it's not sweet or as overpowering as I was expecting. This is not a beer for chocolate lovers. It has a bitter aftertaste. Not sure if it has that roast I taste or if the color and bitter chocolate are deceiving me. It's a great dessert beer, but also paired well with food. I may get a bottle of this and cook up a steak to accompany it!

From the Ommegang site:
"Chocolate Indulgence comes with a thick tan head of foam resting on top of the rich onyx-colored liquid. The aroma immediately speaks of dark chocolate and dark malts. The gentle herbal nose of Perle hops compliments the darker notes, making the beer savory to the senses.

The taste continues with the intense Belgian dark chocolate gliding across the tongue; starting sweet up front but giving way to rich cocoa flavors at the back. Through it all, a subtle fruitiness from our special Belgian yeast gives the beer brightness otherwise foreign to a beer style normally associated with gray foggy skies. 

Lingering chocolate entices the drinker to taste more. Go ahead. Dessert is good for the soul."

Oak Smoke (Schlenkerla)

I was able to get this ale on guest tap at Three Floyds. It came in a bowtie glass and went wonderfully with the cream cheesy bacon and onion pizza I was eating.

I put the brewer's description after my take on it because it's long...and frankly never seems to impact my thoughts.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: It had a wonderful white frothy head that left great lacing when it went down. From what I can tell it's a light amber color. It smells smoked, but not that liquid smoke smell.

Taste: Strangely enough, it almost has a sweetness to it. Probably the maltiness of it all. It has a little saltiness to it and reminds me of smoked pork. It ends with a light smoky flavor. The metallic part aside, the smokiness is in great balance. Some beers way overdo it with the smoke that it's all you can taste. It's almost like they pour a whole bottle of that liquid smoke garbage. This oak smoke has the perfect level of smoke.

11/17/13-I initially reported a metallic taste to this, but after having some from a bottle it was fine. Not sure if it was a tap line issue or just a different day with different taste buds.

From the Schlenkerla site:
Following century old recipes all malts made at the Schlenkerla brewery are dried by wood fire. While for the classic “Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier” traditionally beech has been – and still is – used, the malt for “Schlenkerla Oak Smoke” is kilned with oak wood. The resulting Oak Smoke Malt has a smoother and more multi layered smoky note than the intensely aromatic Beech Smoke Malt. The hence complex smokiness in “Schlenkerla Oak Smoke” is paired with the multifaceted bitterness of finest Hallertau aroma hops. With 8% alcohol and amber color it matures for months in the deep brewery cellars underneath Bamberg into a special treat for smoke beer lovers for Christmas.
Since ancient times beech has been the common fuel for fire-drying food in central Europe, e.g. for the malt of “Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier”. Beech was and is abundant in German forests, it has a high energy yield and a pleasantly intense smoky aroma.
Oak however, with a smoother and more complex smoky note, was seldom used as fire wood. Different than beech, oak is very pest- and wheather-resistant and hence was valuable timber. Apart from buildings, mainly ships used to be made out of oak wood. The acorns were important animal fodder and during times of hardship necessary for feeding humans as well. Being so precious, kilning with oak was a rare specialty and its fine and multi layered smokiness a unique treat. “Schlenkerla Oak Smoke” is being brewed following this tradition, to present smoke beer lovers that special taste experience today.

Facts on „Schlenkerla Oak Smoke“:
  • brewed with 100% Schlenkerla Oak Smoke Malt
  • 8% alcohol
  • 40 bitter units from finest aroma hops
  • Bernstein (amber) color"

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Simple Balsamic Artichoke Heart Salad

I love all of these ingredients, so I put them together for a nice balsamic-marinated salad. I keep it super simple with the spices, because these veggies have really complex flavors.

1 Can Medium Artichoke Hearts
1 Small Can Sliced Black Olives
1 Medium Red Bell Pepper
1 Medium Green Bell Pepper
1 Medium Tomato
1/2 Small Red Onion Sliced Thin
1/4 c Regular Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste (remember the ingredients are pretty salty, so don't use much salt)

  1. Slice and dice up the fresh veg, and open cans. 
  2. Mix vegetables together. 
  3. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar over the top, and add salt and pepper. 
  4. Mix well and let marinate overnight. 
  5. Taste it in the morning and see if you need more salt or pepper. 

This doesn't get soggy or rubbery, so it stays fresh for a while.

Belgian-Style Spiced Ale (Flossmoor Station)

I have no idea what this brew was called. It was their 2010 barrel-aged Belgian-style spiced ale. It is potentially called Grandma's Sleigh Ride (thank you Google).

They don't list this beer on their website, and I didn't take down notes on their description of it.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: ZWACK was all I could smell. I love Zwack. That is what I toasted the 2011 New Year with. It is an liquor made with 40 different herbs. This beer had that herbal smell, and a really strong similarity that I couldn't put my finger on. Was it anise? It had a bit of head that dissipated quickly, leaving some nice light lacing.

Taste: It didn't taste like Zwack. It was that cherry/medicinal flavor you get from brandy barrels (not that I know if that's the type of barrel they used). It was very carbonated. The aftertaste of cherries linger for a while. Doesn't compare to the other holiday beers. It is mostly aligned with the BA Alpha Klaus because of the cherries. Definitely beats the Géants Christmas beer. 

Replicale Pale Ale (Flossmoor Station)

This Pale Ale was the 2010 Illinois replicale. For a replicale, each participating brewer uses the same grain and hops, but everything else can vary. I tried some of the 2009 Indiana replicale brown ale in Indianapolis. It's a great idea.

They don't list this beer on their website, and I didn't take down notes on their description of it.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This brew was a nice golden to amber color. It had a really frothy head that stuck around. You could smell the hops off of it.

Taste: You could taste the bitter right away. It wasn't as strong as their IPL though. It had a light aftertaste. This beer wasn't gross. I finished it off.

Baltic Porter (Flossmoor Station)

This porter seemed like a good pick for Flossmoor. I'm not sure what the actual name of the brew is. We tried a taste before committing to it. It wasn't bad.

They don't list this beer on their website, and I didn't take down notes on their description of it.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This was black with the tiniest bit of head. It was a lighter viscosity than expected. You could really smell the roast on it.

Taste: I was expecting a thicker and creamier drink, but after seeing how think it looked I wasn't surprised by the taste.  You get a strong roasted flavor that lingers for a long while. Some might say this is too roasted for the sake of it. Not an amazing. complex, roast. Just a roast.

Géants Noël des Géants (Brasserie des Géants)

I purchase this holiday beer from World Market to round off my holiday beer run. Belgian brews seem to be the top in the holiday beers for me. I couldn't pass this one up.

From the Shelton Brothers site (the distributor):
"The Brasserie des Géants, or Giant Brewery, is housed in a medieval castle in the town of Irchonwelz, in the French-speaking south of Belgium.The Géants Christmas beer came out in 2007, and it’s their best one yet. Rich and warming, and just a bit spicy (thanks to the delicate addition of a special aromatic herb from the region of the brewery), this festive ale has everything you want in a Belgian beer – but not the cheap sugary flavor that the more commercial breweries use to reel in a less sophisticated crowd."

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: Brown with a white head that dissipated quickly. Yeasty smell.

Taste: Malty taste. Malt aftertaste. Not too complex or spicy. I prefer the Goulden Carolus Noel or the N'ice Chouffe. It was good, but I'm not impressed. Not a favorite.

Intercontinental (Flossmoor Station)

Quick note about Flossmoor Station: it's places like this that make my blog/personal notes worth it. They have such a hit or miss beer selection. I avoid getting some of their beers because I can't remember if it is terrible. And when I say terrible I mean it. Once I actually left a pint of their beer with some still in it! That's how bad it was. Blog to the rescue!

This IPL (Intercontinental Pale Lager) was an interesting idea. This is not one that is part of their standard selection, so I know I haven't had it. It was worth a shot.

They don't list this beer on their website, and I didn't take down notes on their description of it.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This had a nice frothy head. It was amber in color. You could smell the hops right off. 

Taste: I was getting a weird sweet taste off of it. I felt it on the roof of my mouth. The hops were warming like Arctic Panzer Wolf. It definitely had a different taste, but I really enjoyed it. The bitter hop flavor lingers.

This is great for Flossmoor Station. I'd order this again if they had it.

Innes's Pale Ale (Uncle Ernie's)

This was another brew from Uncle Ernie's Bayfront Grill & Brew House.

From the Uncle Ernie's site:
"Big and Bad, the beer you’ve been training for!"

General Thoughts
This beer was really good for a random restaurant/brewhouse in Florida.

Look and Smell: A rich gold color. I couldn't smell much, but it could have been the restaurant.

Taste: You could taste the hops, and they were good hops. It was bitter, but not too bitter; a little sweet even. The aftertaste was very light, but it still lingered a bit.

Uncle Ernie's Amber (Uncle Ernie's)

I had this amber at Uncle Ernie's Bayfront Grill & Brew House. This is a local Panama City-area seafood restaurant. The decor is interesting, the food is fantastic. While eating at this wonderful place I had to try out one of their brews. What better one to start with than one with Uncle Ernie's in the name?

From the Uncle Ernie's site:
"A mild, amber brown ale characterized by medium body. Light nuttiness and a sweet residual flavor derived from our use of honey malt. This ale is copper in color, moderate in alcohol, and was designed to be consumed in quantity."

General Thoughts
From reading the description on their site, it's a session beer. I don't know the ABV, but I'm going to say 5% or less.

Look and Smell: This was a nice dark amber. Pleasantly dark. It had a nice white head that dissipated quickly. It had a light smell, a bit malty.

Taste: It was not too carbonated. You could taste the malt, but no hops. The aftertaste was nice and smooth. The malt flavor lingered, but wasn't sweet.

420 (SweetWater)

This Extra Pale Ale was on tap at a pizza chain in Pier Park (Panama City Beach, FL). It was served in a plastic cup. The tap was shaped like a fish. Who could pass that up? I was up for some local beer, at least regional beer that I can't get at home. This ale was brewed in Atlanta, Georgia. After drinking this, I can now say that I have had a beer from GA.

From the SweetWater site:
"SweetWater 420 Extra Pale Ale, our most popular brew, is a tasty West Coast Style Pale Ale with a stimulating hop character and a crisp finish. 1st brewed on April 20th 1997.
Awards  2002 Silver Medal- Great American Beer Festival, 1997 – 2005 Creative Loafing Readers Choice – Best local beer, 1998 World Beer Cup silver medal, Top 10 Local beers – Atlanta Journal Constitution"

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: It was a gold color with a foamy white head that stayed for a while. It beer. Like, you know, the beer everyone thinks is normal? The smell that kept me away from beer for a while. Like...yellow beer. Yet it was a pale ale. Strange, I do think. 

Taste: This extra pale ale was bitter. This is expected, but I would have thought it would be more bitter and have a more hoppy flavor (extra pale ale). The hops had an okay taste for me, but I don't think I could have taken a stronger version of this hop flavor. 
It was light. The aftertaste matched the smell.

I would not drink this again. Looking at the SweetWater description, I'm mildly disappointed. I guess I can't pick out award-winning beer. Although, with the local awards...well GA isn't known for good beer.