Sunday, February 27, 2011

Cooking with Beer 3 - Beer Dinner

Recently we got together with some friends (our monthly cooking club) and the theme for this month was cooking with beer.  While I didn't have too much trouble finding recipes, variety was an issue for me.  There were a bunch of bread, chocolate desserts and beef recipes that came up but not much else.  Still, Jo and I managed to find some ideas.  As I'm the resident beer geek and and I make dessert often (my wife would say too often) I was challenged with finding a tasty dessert.

With Jo's help (aka she found the recipe), I found a variation on brownies that looked really tasty.  I've made a similar recipe but it didn't include beer and flipped the order of brownie and blondie layers.  The new recipe was Black and Tan Brownies and they turned out quite well if I do say so myself (and I do!).  I followed the recipe but instead of the Guinness, I went with something more flavorful.  I'm betting any stout would work (chocolate, american or imperial), but I decided Dark Horse Too Cream Stout would work really well.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sharing is Awesome

My buddy Craig was opening some of his bottles that were suspected of being infected (Abyss '09 apparently smells like metal and tastes like death at this point) and came across his '09 Portsmouth Kate the Great.  If you don't know (which I guess most of you don't), Kate the Great is an imperial stout made once a year by the Portsmouth brewpub in New Hampshire.  They produce around 900 bottles which get snapped up immediately.  Before this year, the line generally started forming some time in the middle of the night.  Given they release the bottles in the middle of winter, those people are freaking crazy.  And probably still cold.  This year they did some bizarre lottery ticket thing so it was all a crapshoot.  Less freezing, more gnashing of teeth about how life is unfair.  All this boils down to is that Kate the Great is nearly impossible to get and Craig is awesome for sharing it with me.

Weyerbacher Riserva

Jo and I opened one of our bottles of Weyerbacher Riserva the other day.  It's an American Wild Ale (a sour) that was aged in barrels for 6 months or so (I don't really remember exactly) with a ton of raspberries.  It then conditions in the bottle for as long as necessary in order to create carbonation.  However, with the 2010, Weyerbacher had a lot of trouble getting it to carbonate and eventually decided it would just have low carbonation this year because it just wasn't going to ever fully carbonate.
Smells very sour and acetic.  Sharp, vinegary and very pungent.  First sip and you get a ton of sour.  While the flavors are reminiscent of raspberries, it isn't like drinking a glass of them as the sourness and vinegar notes are more prominent.  I felt like it has mellowed a bit since we bought it last November, but Jo disagreed and it's possibly just my imagination.  As I drank more and it warmed up, I started getting some mild apple juice notes similar to some other sours but the citric acid flavors always quickly overwhelmed everything.  Compared to some of the Russian River sours, this is sort of one-dimensional but I still enjoy it.  Definitely a sharing beer though as it's powerful and a 750 can take a while to finish alone.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sweetwater IPA

Sweetwater is a brewery located in Atlanta, Georgia that only distributes to a few southern states.  I hadn't really heard much about it but my friend thought I'd really enjoy their IPA and was nice enough to help me get my hands on a bottle.
Has a citrus nose with a slight underlying bitterness to it.  First sip is surprising as I get a lot of malty caramel notes with some citrus following.  Not a lot of bitterness up front but some appears in the finish.  Throughout the glass, all I could think about was how balanced between the sweetness and the bitterness it was.  Much more my speed right now.  Jo thought the citrus was very pleasant and enjoyed her taste of it.  Definitely a different IPA than the super high IBU hop bombs.  Thanks for the hook up Mike.  Really appreciate it!

Monday, February 21, 2011

San Francisco - Beers and Beer Week

An amazing coincidence occurred with our trip.  Somehow we planned it so that part of it overlapped with the beginning of San Francisco beer week.  I have no idea how that happened.  I totally didn't look it up before we decided on dates and then convinced Jo that it was a good idea.  See, just a big coincidence!  Or I'm totally lying.  Whatever, stop looking at me like that.

While we managed to make it to a couple events, there were a bunch of other places we went as well.  After getting back from Sonoma and all the breweries, Jo and I visited her sister's neighborhood and, lucky for me, that included a trip to the Toronado.

Friday, February 18, 2011

San Francisco - Lagunitas

On the third day of our "totally not a beer trip" trip we went to our third brew pub, Lagunitas.  This one is in Petaluma, CA halfway between Moylan's and Russian River and also right off 101.  Very convenient place although it's located in what seemed to be an office park.  Lucky offices.  The sign is easy to miss as it's small, but we managed to find it.  As you walk in there are tables outside and then a tented area in front of you.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

San Francisco - Russian River

I'll admit when we first decided we were visiting San Francisco, my first question was probably, "Can we visit Russian River?"  I've been enjoying their beer for quite a while now and being able to get nearly everything they make all in one place was just too great an opportunity to pass up.  Jo and I visited San Francisco a couple years ago and I wish we had went then too.  It's located about an hour up 101 in Santa Rosa.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

San Francisco - Moylan's Brewpub

While I may have said our trip to San Fran wasn't all about beer, as Stina pointed out in the comments, there was definitely still a lot of it for me to enjoy.  Our first stop of the trip was Moylan's Brewpub in Novato, California straight up highway 101 from San Francisco.  I'm glad this was our first stop as it was the most generic of the three places but since it was first it didn't affect my experience much.  Honestly though it was still pretty good with decent food and good beer.  It basically reminded me of an Irish pub restaurant that brews its own beer.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

San Francisco Preview - Deschutes The Abyss

I'm finally back from San Francisco and, man, without even really concentrating on beer events (my wife may disagree but I stand by this statement!), I got to try some amazing stuff. I've got a whole series of posts planned for the next few days, but I'll start off with a simple but delicious one, Deschutes The Abyss.
I've been super excited to try this one for a long while now but since Deschutes doesn't distribute to the East coast it takes some help.  Lucky for me, there was still plenty available in Noe Valley even though other parts of the city were all out.  As a result, I was able to bring a bottle home for later plus open a bottle to share and finally get to taste it.

Poured black with light brown head.  Smelled delicious, tons of chocolate and roast with a bit of vanilla.  Thick, chewy mouthfeel.  Flavors followed the nose and were just as intense.  Chocolate, licorice, vanilla with some oak and bourbon.  Definitely felt like there was some licorice and oak in the finish as well.  The base of Abyss is an imperial stout brewed with licorice and molasses which is blended with 33% of the same beer that was aged in oak bourbon barrels.  Since it only has a third aged in barrels, the bourbon and oak blend rather than overpower which makes it so much more enjoyable for me.  Very impressed with this one and really glad I have a second bottle.

Look for even more stuff in the next few days.  We visited four breweries, drank some beers at Toronado, and went to a couple bars.  Just awesome beers and all stuff I can't find over here in Philly.  I even brought back six bottles of stuff I can't find in the area.  Great trip and you can read all about it soon enough.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Nugget Nectar vs. HopSlam! Fight!

Last Friday I decided to see how Troegs Nugget Nectar compared to Bell's Hopslam.  I recently had Hopslam at Jose Pistola's and Nugget Nectar at Kite & Key but figured the best way to get a decent comparison would be to have them both in one night. 

I started with the Nugget Nectar thinking that since it wasn't quite as strong it would make a better beginning.  Thanks for leaving a couple bottles behind Greg!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Full Sail Wassail

Was looking for something interesting to drink during the Superbowl and came across the last bottle my brother Dan gave me for Hanukkah, Full Sail Wassail a Winter Warmer.  This one won't age well so I decided to finish my last bottle.
Some slight spice in the nose.  Initially I got spices backed by a sweet and malty base.  It feels like the spices were clove and ginger maybe but could be a few other things.  The finish was almost peppery which was interesting.  Decent spiced beer and an easy way to start off the Superbowl.

I also opened a bottle of Bells Expedition 2009 which was still fantastic.  I'm curious if it's the age or if this beer is awesome fresh too.  It's complex and really delicious.  You can see my first review here.  Mixed well with all the food we ate during the Superbowl too.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Weyerbacher November

Last night I opened my last bottle of Weyerbacher November, a coffee-infused Brown Ale. 

I wrote about it once before on Thanksgiving but after three months it's a much more balanced beer.  Some coffee in the nose is still prevalent but it's not nearly as sharp.  Nice mouthfeel on it.  I still got some notes of coffee but overall it was really well balanced with the brown ale base as the coffee has faded a bit.  As I made my way through it, the coffee flavors started building but they never turned bitter and were just pleasant.  This is drinking really well right now and I wouldn't wait much longer if you have any sitting around.  November was the last Brewers Select beer to be made and it's been a few months since its release.  Curious what the next one is going to be and when it'll be available.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Beer Schooled at the Hulmeville

This past Tuesday I drove up to the Hulmeville Inn for a home brewing class offered by Beer Schooled.  When I first found out about the class, I figured it would be an interesting way to solidify my random knowledge of home brewing and I was pretty much correct.  It also turned out to be a good way to hang out with Kevin and Greg and have a couple good beers.

I started with a small glass of Stone Double Bastard, an American Strong ale aka a strong, hoppy beer.