Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Stouts in June

Sunday marked the Columbia Beer Enthusiast's stout blind taste test. Fifteen or so stouts and maybe 11 or 12 imperial stouts later, we had some winners. I swiped the 411 from our Ning. The pics are mine.

It should also be noted that I brought the imperial winner: Bell's Expedition Stout. My prize? I won a Brugge Black, a Belgian dark ale from Indiana.

Yesterday the CBE put on it's second blind tasting with great success! Special thanks to Sanford and Sycamore for hosting! There were 19 of us total and we ended up rating over 25 different stouts (14 regular and 12 imperial), not bad for a hot summer day! For those who did not participate, here is how we handled the tasting:

1. Regular (<8%)>

2. Each beer was put in a plain brown bag and randomly assigned a number. Regular stouts were labeled S1-S15, while imperials were labeled I1-I12.

3. Everyone was given a scoring sheet where they were asked to rate the beer on four characteristics (appearance, aroma, mouthfeel, and flavor) on a five point scale (0-5). Using these four scores, a total score was summed (0-20). Each scoring sheet also had room for notes/additional comments.

4. Once we finished tasting the flight of regular stouts, everyone's scoring sheets were given to our official scorer and the overall scores were entered into the cpu. We then moved on to tasting the flight of imperials and did the same thing scoring-wise.

5. Once we finished both flights of beers, we 'unveiled' the beers and the overall results.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Get It Together: Steak and a Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Saturday for dinner, we grilled steak. I needed a beer to match the smokiness and richness of a fillet hot off the grill. I considered a double IPA in order to match the richness of a steak, but I always go IPA by default. There are several good imperial stouts that would compliment a steak well, but that felt heavy on a near-100 degree day. For this meal I went with a Belgian strong dark ale: Unibroue 17.

The Unibroue 17 stands up to the smokiness of the meat and matches it with complexity and some fruitiness. Pomegranates, raisins (yes, I said raisins), orange peel, molasses, and alcohol provide such complexity. The dark malt flavor matches the smoke. All-in-all, it was an excellent match on both sides.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

I Feel Like the Governor of South Carolina

Between work, school, and vacation, I have severely neglected my blogs. It's as if I was lost on the Appalachian Trail or in Argentina visiting my mistress or some shit like that.

So, in the spirit of keeping things updated, I thought I'd fill you in on what was missed. Will I chronicle every beer I had over the past two weeks? No. But here are some highlights...

I was able to make out to Sycamore a couple of nights in a row for some good beers. I sampled an '09 Matilda from the folks at Goose Island. This was a great Belgian style strong pale ale. I had an Orval later in the week and the Goose Island pale compared favorably. The second night at Sycamore rewarded me with a Founders Red's Rye Ale which is an excellent example as to why ryes might be the next big thing in beer. I also enjoyed some Southern Tier Choklat as my buddy's wife ordered a bomber she needed to split with us.

In between those two visits to Sycamore, I did fit in a Brother David's Tripel from Anderson Valley. While this beer is not the best example of the style, it do go well with the gyro and spinach pie I picked up from International Cafe.

My blogging friend from NYC returned the favor and sent me some great beers. I have yet to taste any of them. We actually left on vacation (more on that below) the day after the shipment arrived. So, in my stash sits a Brooklyn Local #1, Stone 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, Hair of the Dog's Fred, Weyerbacher Twelve, and a '08 Goose Island Matilda. My plan is to hit the Matilda first as I just had the '09 version recently at Sycamore.

As I mentioned before, we traveled to North Carolina for a vacation. No, we did not spend a week in Asheville. Rather, we spent our time on the Outer Banks which was great, sans the few beer options. My father-in-law and his wife very graciously rented a cottage on the beach for his two kids and their families. Luckily, there was plenty of beer as both my fil and brother-in-law are homebrewers big beer enthusiasts. I was the only one to bring his own. They both liked it a lot. My fil commented that it was pretty good for a rookie.

Aside from my homebrew, we feasted on Magic Hat #9 (still not sure about fruit beers), various selections from Trader Joe's, and some Dogfish Head. The DfH came from a grocery store R and I discovered. They had both 60 Minute and 90 Minute IPA's. I couldn't pass that up. This salvaged what could have been a somewhat disappointing week in beer. That is, until we discovered Harrika's Brew Haus.

The Brew Haus featured beer, tea, and related collectibles. (And next door was their wine and cheese house.) It was a restoration/gift shop/craft beer/party house/tea room kind of place. The beer selection was first-rate. They even had a couple of beers on tap. I chose the Harpoon Summer Beer since I really didn't need another Fat Tire. (Apparently, New Belgium was a newish addition.) If you ever are in the Emerald Isle area, you must stop by this little joint at least for a drink. Due to limited space in my suitcase and limited time to drink, I just picked up Weyerbacher's Insanity and Heresy as well as a Dogfish Head Palo Santo Maron.

So, there you have it. I'm caught up. Sure, I drank a Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale and an O'Fallon Five Day IPA, but that was basically the meat of my two week hiatus from this blog. There's more to come as I have a dinner with a Belgium strong dark ale and a blind tasting on which to report. Cheers!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Beers: June 8-14, 2009

Here are the beers I had this week...

Bell's Expedition Stout

Did you read about my ice cream? It is so good. The best part is that I finished the half of the beer that did not go into the dessert.

Chimay Tripel (White)

R and I actually had a date night. I passed on a mediocre beer for dinner mostly so I could truly enjoy this great beer at the 'Tag.

Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale

The sitter and I enjoyed this beer together...Don't worry. She's old enough. She likes brown ales. I thought this was a brown ale. It turns out that it's so much more.

Avery IPA
I have actually never had this beer before. We were out for dinner with friends. This was the only beer on the menu that interested me. It's a solid IPA.

Dogfish Head
Festina Pêche
I pulled this beer out of the stash to wet my whistle and start my Friday evening off right. I don't want to drink a ton of these, but they are so refreshing. My taste buds are so primed after a
Festina Pêche.

Orval Trappist Ale
My brother-in-law claims this was his favorite beer while traveling through Belgium. It certainly is nice with the bubble gum, bananas, and honey dominating my tongue.

Southern Tier Hopsun Wheat Ale
What a great summertime beer this is. I'd put this one up there right next to my usual summer favorite Oberon. What sets this beer apart from its wheaty brethren is the presence of pale ale-like hops. It is possible to enjoy hoppy bitterness in the sun.

Pisgah Vortex I DIPA
This beer was sold to me by another CBE member who travels to the Carolinas from time to time. There may be a couple of DIPA's I'd place ahead of this beer, but none are more balanced. And head was incredible. Check the pic.

Jamie's Breakfast Stout
Two of my three favorite brewers in Columbia are home-brewers. Jamie is one of them. His stouts are rich and chocolaty. No one should be able to do this in their driveway.

Josh's IPA
This is the other home-brewer. Josh happened to bring a growler of this excellent IPA. It stood up on a day of several top-notch IPA's.

Josh's Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy
By Josh's admission, this is no wee heavy. I'm not sure what it is, but it's good.

Ninkasi Tricerahops Double IPA
This is one of those breweries that seems to popping up in these parts. This DIPA was different than so many other DIPA's, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Either way, I'm glad my fellow brewers shared.

Green Flash Imperial IPA
Unassuming beer. I've maybe heard of Green Flash in conversation with beer geeks, but this was yet another nice DIPA from the Northwest.
Russian River's Pliny the Elder

Moylan's Ryan Sullivan's Imperial Stout
I am so glad Moylan's decided to come to Missouri. This is a great addition to the many great imperial stouts available here.

Three Floyds' Oat Goop
This is a wheat wine. This is the only wheat wine I've had. I'd describe a wheat wine as the sweeter, fruitier, lighter younger brother of a barley wine. I loved this beer and it may ruin my ability to enjoy any other wheat wine ever again.

Same as Last Week: Stone Ruination IPA, Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard, My Three-Hearted Ale

My thoughts on the week: Wow! Two weeks in a row of a wicked list of beers, many not available in this state. Eventually, this will slow down and my list will be in single-digits with one or two rare beers included.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Brew Day

Sunday was brew day for a few Columbia Beer Enthusiasts. I did not participate, although I did brew my own batch later. Instead, I hung out while Jamie and Josh brewed a couple of Belgian-style beers. Jeff was there as well, giving input where needed and consuming his share of the beer.

It was a nice to watch a couple of experienced home brewers do their thing. Josh brewed a Belgian Ale and Jamie had a Saison and IPA on the docket. Unfortunately, Jamie's IPA was lost to a shattered carboy. A little too much drinking led to no cooling for the IPA. For some reason, it seemed like a good idea to just place the carboy in some ice water. The halved carboy would beg to differ.

I'll do a post on the whole process once I'm done. For now, here are some pics from the day. Notice the carboy cozy my mom made for me.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Brewery I Like: Stone

This post is a continuation of a series I started on my other blog. The idea is to write about a brewery that I regularly turn to whenever I get the chance. The first was Southern Tier; the second is one of my top-three breweries, Stone.

Brewery: Stone

Location: Escondido, CA

Beers I've had: IPA, Ruination IPA, Arrogant Bastard, Oaked Arrogant Bastard, Old Guardian Barley Wine, Smoked Porter

Favorite Beer: The Ruination IPA might be what made me a hop-head. I picked it up at this shop around the corner while living in Columbus, OH. I wanted about two beers to have with the sub that was on its way to my house. I noticed the place had some bombers. The Stone bottles caught my eye right away. The beer also caught my attention. As one non-beer drinker I allowed to sample some Ruination remarked, "When you drink this, you know you've got something." For reals.

Least Favorite Beer: The Smoked Porter sort of underwhelmed me. Sure, it was a nice beer, but I expect a Stone beer to punch me in the face. Besides, I'm learning that I don't really appreciate porters.

Beers yet to try:
Pale Ale, Cali-Belgique IPA, Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale, Levitation Ale, Anniversary Ale, Double Bastard Ale, Imperial Russian Stout, Vertical Epic (although, these last two are in my stash)

Why I like this brewery: This is one of those breweries that gets me with every aspect of their product. First of all, they put out an aggressive, West Coast-hopped beer. Then there's the unique marketing, always letting you know just how good they really are. And those bottles. The bottles have these great drawings of gargoyles and demons painted on the glass with these elaborate explanations of the superiority of the Stone brew. I've never really wanted to go to southern California, but now I do just for a chance to visit the Stone brewery.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cooking w/Beer: Bell's Expedition Stout-Milk Chocolate Ice Cream

I made an ice cream with Bell's Expedition Stout using a recipe from Perfect Scoop. The original actually called for Guinness Stout which is a little on the weak side for me. An imperial Russian stout like the Bell's Expedition is more than twice as alcoholic and infinitely more flavorful.

Due to the extra alcohol, the ice cream was soft, but it was still very good. Chocolate, roasted malt, hops, coffee all assaulted my taste buds. It was great for my tastes, but R complained of bitterness. That may have been the hops. Pairing this ice cream with some vanilla would probably cut the bitterness.

So, for your own Bell's Expedition Stout ice cream, here's what you do:
  1. Turn to page 32 of Perfect Scoop.
  2. Follow the directions using high-end, organic milk chocolate and substituting a Russian imperial stout for the Guinness.
  3. Mix and chill.
  4. Drink the rest of the beer.
  5. Churn in your ice cream maker. (Here, Ziplock bags, salt, and ice will probably not do.)
  6. Freeze.
  7. Enjoy.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Beers: June 1-7, 2009

Here are the beers I had this week...

Schlafly Kolsch
I was in STL for a beer event at The Wine & Cheese Place. After doing some shopping, I had time to kill. I chose to do this at a nearby pub. I went with the Kolsch from Schlafly. It was light, crisp, and refreshing. That was all I needed.

Founders Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale
So, the first beer tried at said beer event was this fine scotch ale. Usually, scotch ales don't hold enough scotch nor ale to meet my needs. This beer is the exception and should be the example for others to follow.

Founders Curmudgeon Old Ale
Right next to the Dirty Bastard, they poured me this old ale. That's a heavy beginning to a tasting if you ask me. The event was for MOBev folk. I won a drawing with STL Hops that allowed me to sit in. The Founders rep explained that the vanilla flavor in this beer comes from the tea bags of oat chips they throw into the fermenters.

Founders Centennial IPA
This beer is named for the hops that go into the brew. Founders have slowed their production rather than use another hop while supplies are low. I had one of these the week before and it tasted off. Thankfully, Wednesday's sample did not disappoint.

Founders Red's Rye
Rye might be the new sour. Ryes are popping up everywhere. This one is one of the best I've had. Although it is a relatively new beer, it is quickly becoming Founders' best seller.

Founders Porter
I have a hard time liking porters. You get the coffee and chocolate notes associated with some stouts, but it's really subtle. Some beer snobs call this "smooth". I just think it's a bland style. Founders blew me away with this aggressive porter. This is by far the best porter I've had.

Founders Double Trouble Imperial IPA

I am a hop head. I'll admit it. So, I can't get enough of double IPA's. DT is a fine example of a Midwestern hop bomb that stands up to the big boys out west.

Founders Cerise
I really don't like fruit beers. Normally, I would never try Cerise, but it was offered at the Founders event. So, I tried it and was really impressed. I promptly bought a four-pack before leaving STL, knowing that R would like this beer on a hot Missouri day. That day arrived today, and she was impressed.
Coney Island Sword Swallower
I brought this over for a friend while we watched infant twins, a three-year-old, and Lu. This is the hoppiest lager I've ever had. It almost feels like a hoppy pale ale, not a lager.

My Three-Hearted Ale
Due to the name and style, most folks think this kit from Northern Brewer is a clone of Bell's Two-Hearted Ale. While I'll admit to similarities in the bitterness of the hops and that my execution as a brewer is suspect, this beer barely resembles Bell's IPA. For one thing, the amber coloring is nothing like the golden glow of one less heart. Also, the floral aroma at the nose is a little green compared to the original. Either way, I like my first attempt at brewing and will brew again.

Sam Adams Long Shot Double IPA
I actually had a class on Friday night and Saturday morning in STL. When class was over, I headed over to a friend's for the night and brought along some beverages. Since I don't like to keep IPA's (or doubles) around for too long, I grabbed this beer along with a Founders and one of my home-brews. I love this beer and am sad it's gone. There are no more Sam Adams Long Shot Double IPA's in my stash. It is a sad day.

Arcadia Hop Rocket
Once I returned home on Saturday, I needed a beer. I've comitted to drinking up some IPA's in order not to miss out on their hoppy goodness. This was a purchase in STL earlier in the week. Though Hop Rocket tastes like a typical double IPA, it did add a little spice that was not expected. I will savor the other three bottles in this pack for sure.

Stone Ruination IPA

Mom brought me some beer. Ruination is my favorite. Judging from the taste, this one's been on the shelf for a while. I may have to drink this sixer of Ruination quicker than others. Oh well.

Caldera IPA
My Saturday was an all-IPA event. We attended some friends' tenth wedding anniversary party. It was a nice night and the hosts provided their guests with some excellent refreshment. Caldera IPA (the one in the can) was available at the bar. I had two.

Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard
After a long Sunday afternoon in the garden weeding, I rewarded myself with another beer delivered by my mother. The Founders event made me aware of the vanilla brought on by the oak chips. I love the AB, but the vanilla just makes it another beer. So aggressive, so complex. I am so lucky to have ten more bottles of Stone brews (not counting bombers of imperial stouts and barley wines) in my stash.

Avery Brabant
I was wary of this wild ale brewed in Zinfandel barrels. The nose smelled funky, but the rest of the beer showed no signs of the sourness found in something like La Folie. This beer is way more complex than most sours I've had.

My thoughts on the week: This was a jam-packed week of beer-drinking. The Founders event made it look as though I had a shit-ton of beer, but most of those pours were maybe a couple of ounces. Normally, I don't have a Stone beer, but this week I had two. There were a lot of IPA's and DIPA's, plus a sour. This was a good start for this little project. I can't wait to see what I drink next week.

Breweries Sampled: Schlafly, Founders, Northern Brewer, Sam Adams, Arcadia, Stone, Avery, Caldera, Schmaltz/He'Brew