Friday, February 12, 2010

Beer Blog/Zine Review: Hot Knives'

In the early nineties, we had zines. Zines were like blogs you photocopied. Before anyone could say anything to millions of readers, folks wrote manifestos to copy and paste for tens of people.

The past and present collide with Hot Knives' Greatest Sips. The vegan/vegetarian hipster beer blog published a zine of their favorite beer reviews. And I have to say that for the beers I know, their tastes are right on target. As for the brews I don't know, I plan to learn about them shortly.

Greatest Sips from Hot Knivez on Vimeo.

I, like any beer geek, like to talk beer talk. You know, discussions about esters, Brettanomyces, and hop varieties that make your taste buds water and lips pucker. However, the beer talk can get thick, missing out on the experience the beer enhances. What do you listen to while sipping this beer? What food best pairs? What does the beer make you think about?

Drinking fine craft beer is a bigger experience than raisins, bananas, and bubblegum. I like to talk about the story behind the beer or compare beers to bands and breweries to indie labels. Why can't the discussion about a beer go beyond the ingredients? We should talk about how it makes us feel and which synapse it triggers. Does the beer remind us of a day in July, floating down a river? Does it remind us of a day snowed in with nothing but beer and a fire to keep us warm?

These are beer reviews of the highest order and I suggest you go buy their zine today.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Some Beers I've Had

I keep meaning to post the beers I've had over the past several days, but I have been unable to keep up with this blog, which is better than I can say about several of my other blogs.

Anyway, here are some highlights over the past few days. You can also check my RateBeer account for other reviews.
I had new Belgium's take on the IPA, Ranger. The aroma hit me in the face with Simcoe and Amarillo, but the beer was super bitter and dry. That and it had this lingering New Belgium presence that I blame on their yeast. It never seems to show its head in their bigger, barrel-aged beers, but it rears its ugly head here. This is a fine beer, very sessionable. It's just not going to be my first or third choice at the bar.I hit a local joint called Broadway Brewery before a rock show the other night. Word had it that they had tapped a DIPA. So, I thought I'd give them a try. The beer had a great nose of Centennial and Willamette (I think), but it was very, very green. It tasted like your homebrew 3-4 weeks before you should drink it. Hopefully, it will stay around for a while or the brewery will get a chance to brew it again. Like the brewpub/restaurant, it just needs time to improve with age.

I made some burgers with a Founders Porter (which I finished while preparing dinner). The burgers were juicier and richer thanks to the beer. I don't know that this beer made a difference, but they were good burgers. I'll certainly remember to add three tablespoons of dark beer to my next batch of burgers. Also, along with the porter burgers, I smeared on some delicious stout mustard made with Schlafly's Extra Irish Stout. The combination was perfect and I look forward to trying it again.

Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot 2010 hit shelves this week. I promptly bought a sixer and chilled a '09 for comparison. Due to circumstances out of my control, I had to split the two beers over two nights. Assuming that it's the aging, the '09 was say more complex and fuller than the '10 version. It's nice to know that aging some of those beers is paying off.

Tonight, Schalfly, O'Fallon, and New Albanian collaborated for an oak-aged smoked rye pale ale. Someone best described it as more interesting than good. The rye pale ale part was good and as solid as anything else I've tried, but the smoke just didn't fit. Someone smelled Jack Daniels, but I chalk that up to the rye and smoke. Smoke doesn't work with everything. However, this beer did pair well with the Vietnamese hot wings Uprise Bakery was serving with the beer.

Friends and I also split an Avery dunganA double IPA. Aside from the odd bleach smell and taste from the glasses, the beer is fresh, crisp, and citrusy. It was a nice finish to the past several days of beer drinking.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Beer I Drank Today: BrewDog/Stone Bashah

I'll drink and enjoy anything the folks at Stone brew. That's just a fact.

On the other hand, whatever BrewDog puts in a bottle promises an awful lot, but it rarely delivers on that promise.

This beer somehow fulfills both prophesies. Like the black pilsner they collaborated on, the beer defies style and definition. It's black black with lovely lacing. The aroma is big, roasty, raisiny, and even oddly hoppy. However, the mouthfeel is a bit watery and the flavor doesn't quite live up to what's promised in the appearance and smell.

That said, I enjoyed the beer anyway. It's still better than 90% of the beers out there and is unique enough of an experience to warrant another pint.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Lost in Tank 7 (Plus Get It Together: Farmhouse Ale and Cheese Fondue)


Such are the mysterious numbers in my favorite TV show, Lost. They come up time and time again throughout the series, hiding some cryptic meaning for Losties like myself to ponder endlessly.

The obsession for this show runs deep as I wait nine or so months for the show to return to the weekly lineup. Even as intensely frustrating as the series can be, I'll wait for it's arrival every February.

The mysteries surrounding numbers exist in beer as well. Boulevard Brewery of KC has a particular fermentation tank that likes to infect their beers. Instead of fighting the mysterious black cloud hovering over Tank 7, they went with it and brewed up a semi-traditional Belgian farmhouse ale. And like my obsession for the show, I've waited for this beer to arrive in its majestic 750 mL bottles to reveal the mysteries of open fermentation.

Tonight, as if caught up in the same time warp as the survivors of Flight 815, we enjoyed some cheese fondue with our sci-fi melodrama. The beer and garlic-y cheese paired nicely, playing off the mutual funkiness and tartness, keeping my senses alert as I tried to take in the games Lost played with time and space. Much like the mysterious nature of the island, Tank 7 and the fondue slowly revealed themselves and their parallel assertiveness.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Double Bastard and College Basketball

There was a post from the previous week about drinking some beer over football. It was never completed, but I'll somehow manage this sports-related post concerning sports and beer. Maybe I'll have room for a Super Bowl edition...
Sunday afternoon is a great time to take in a college basketball game and even better time to take in a beer.

Notice the champagne cap. It works when you can't finish a beer in one sitting.

The game was between my beloved Buckeyes and the Golden Gophers of Minnesota. A few weeks ago, Ohio State laid an egg up in Minneapolis. Revenge was on their mind as two Buckeyes led the way to a game I never saw the end of as the network moved on to a more competitive one. Evan Turner and Will Buford combined for 45 points and 13 assists to put away the Gophers by 22 (85-63). It took their double effort to whip the Gophers into submission.

Much like the game, I had a tough time finishing my entire beer in one sitting. I popped open Stone's Double Bastard, a double version of the popular Arrogant Bastard. While at first I thought "This is a stronger Bastard than before..." that wasn't the whole tale. The only thing that balances the sweet toffee of this huge malt bill is the intense level of hops. I consider myself to be a hophead, but this beer is beyond my threshold. It is thought that the human tongue can only sense a certain level of bitterness. Double Bastard made me feel like that limit was busted tenfold. On top of that, the 10.5% ABV made me slow things down a bit, capping the beer to finish just before dinner.

So, like the Buckeye blowout, I loved it. I don't want to simply beat my team's opponents or my tongue's taste buds; I wanted to pulverize them. This past Sunday allowed me to enjoy both experiences.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cooking w/Beer: Roasted Fish with Wheat Beer Sauce

Sometimes there are beers that get lost in one's cellar. It's not that they're bad beers. It's just that it might not be a style one is really into. You have to figure out something to do with it. To drink an entire bomber of a beer you're not entirely sure you want to drink in the first place is hard to do. So, we look to cooking as an option.

For me, there have been a couple of wheat beers that just won't go away. One such beer was the Boulevard Smokestack Series' Two Jokers Double-Wit. This beer is said to be loaded with orange, coriander, and other spices. Spicy wheat beers are hit-or-miss for me. That and I don't always handle 750 mL of Belgian style brews as well as American counterparts. All that and I had the beer in my possession for nearly six months, the universally accepted limit for cellaring beers.

After some searching on the Internets, I came across a roasted fish recipe. It called for halibut or salmon. I was able to find salmon here in town, so that's what I went with. The recipe called for 12 oz. of beer. That left me with enough to drink at dinner which paired deliciously. I will definitely try this recipe/beer combo again.


Serves 4

• 2 halibut or salmon fillets (about 1 ¼ inches thick), halved crosswise
• ½ tsp salt
• ¼ tsp black pepper
• 1 TBLS extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 tsp butter
• 2 shallots, finely chopped
• 1 TBLS balsamic vinegar
• 1 bottle (12 oz) Wheat Beer
• 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
• ¼ cup heavy cream
• 1 TBLS capers, drained
• 1 ½ TBLS chopped fresh tarragon leaves

Preheat oven to 450°F. Rinse fillets and dry thoroughly with paper towel; season with salt and pepper.

In large ovenproof skillet over medium high heat, warm olive oil. When oil is hot, add butter. When melted, add shallots and sauté 3 minutes. Add vinegar; cook 30 seconds, then add Wheat Beer and bring to a boil. Boil mixture until beer is reduce to about 1 ½ cups, about 4 – 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, cream, capers and chopped tarragon; cook mixture 1 ½ minutes longer.

Place fish on top of hot tomato mixture. Put skillet into oven and roast 10 minutes, or until fish is firm to the touch and just barely opaque in the thickest parts. Transfer fish to serving platter. Stir tomato mixture in the skillet and spoon over top.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Beer I Drank Today: Hopslam

Every year, there is a mad rush to claim every case, sixer, and bottle of Bell's DIPA, better known as Hopslam, in this town. We don't normally get as many cases as we received this year, but last year's crazed onslaught of beer geeks seeking hop heaven has finally earned us additional shipments of Hopslam.

Last year's edition was a punch in the face of pure grapefruit. I loved it. I would eat piles of Simcoe hops if my mouth wouldn't get so dry. That's how much I like the grapefruity, cat-piss aroma and flavor of this beer. It was a truly a memorable beer.

This year's version is as balanced as last year's was top-heavy. Sure, as I opened and poured the beer, I could smell that familiar grapefruitiness from last year. But as I took a sip of my first Hopslam, I realized this was another beast. The malt and honey came correct and balanced the Simcoe/Amarillo frenzy. Plus, there's pine not previously present in my experience. Truly, this is a great, great beer.

I love me some grapefruitilicious, hoppy-as-hell DIPA, but this makes it work for the rest of the beer-drinking world. Welcome back Hopslam.