Sunday, August 30, 2009

Creme de la Creme: Southern Tier's Creme Brulee Imperial Milk Stout

I've got a sweet tooth. No surprises there. That being said, I have not had creme brulee in a long time. Maybe once or twice in my life. I definitely recall being out at a bar in NYC at 2 or 3am about 10 years ago having wine and "creme caramel" and feeling pretty fancy-pants about it. Fast forward to yesterday.

Southern Tier
is located in Lakewood, NY and has a large and diverse selection of beer. The Creme Brulee Imperial Cream Stout is among its unusual imperial styles, which include an imperial cherry saison, and an imperial pumpkin ale (you know I'm excited to try that one!) The bottle has some interesting facts on it, including the cultural disputes over where creme brulee originated (there are similar desserts with roots in England and Spain, but it's generally attributed to the French).

Cream stouts are sweet stouts made with lactose (milk sugar) which regular stouts are not. There you go.


Appearance: is typical for a stout. Pitch black. When held to the light it's slightly lighter around the edges (like a dark cola-esque brown). A foamy brown head forms on top and sticks around for a minute, leaving a thin layer on top for quite some time. Spider-webby lace coats the glass. It's attractive.

Smell: Upon opening the bottle the smell of pure vanilla bean pours out. I poured it into a pint glass and woah sweetness. Caramel, vanilla, marshmallow, cream. Subtle malts and hops. Did I mention this is "sweet?"

Taste: "Sugar...Doo doo doo doo doo do ohhh honey honey...." Caramel-sugar-vanilla-cream topped with marshmallow. Faint hops contribute a bitter edge which helps bring this beverage some slight semblance of balance, but it is overwhelmingly sweet. I ate a little l'creme vanilla et cookie-chips-ahoy et hershey's syrup with this beer. The ice cream in my mouth mixed with a little beer turned into a ridiculously delicious vanilla-beer-milkshake.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and good consistency. It actually felt a little flat after a while. I was glad it was not any thicker...That may have been overkill.

Drinkability:
This comes in a 22 ounce bottle which I paid $8.95 for. I recommend it, but split it with a friend or 2. About 8 ounces was plenty. This is dessert. It is also 10% ABV which was not noticeable at first, but as it warmed, the alcohol became more noticeable in smell and taste. This is super sweet. Beer and dessert are not mutually exclusive. Have this with super dark chocolate. Or vanilla ice cream. Or alone. And enjoy.

B+

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Unique Beer and History Lesson: Dogfish Head's Theobroma

Well, I've been waiting for this. Ever since seeing it featured on an educational tv special about beer, I have been waiting. For like, months. I had to go to a few places to find it, and felt immense satisfaction at buying it. I held onto it for a few weeks, but this past weekend it was time to try it.

First: the history. "Theobroma" = "food of the gods"
The creative and unique Dogfish Head Brewery created this beer after analyzing traces of chemicals on Aztec pottery dated to 1200 BC. Who knows how close it is to the actual old school beverages of our ancient Aztecian friends, but it is inspired by this, using Aztec cocoa, honey, chile, and annatto ("fragrant tree seeds.")
It is available only in a 750 ml bottle. I poured it into a wine glass, not sure what the closest thing I have is to 1200 BC pottery.

Appearance: A pretty peach color. Tiny bubbles of white head did not last at all, and it left no lacing. It was slightly hazy; almost like an orange-ish colored apple juice.

Smell: I have a cold, but even without this, I do not think the smell is strong. The first smell was chile, which I got upon opening the bottle. Mild and sweet. Perhaps faint cocoa.

Taste: Interesting. Very interesting. Started out sweet, but the spices (chile and "annatto" I suppose) came out. To me there was cinnamon. Maltiness; an overall sweetness but I'm not sure if I would have pinpointed this to honey and cocoa without reading the bottle first. The spice of the chile is not overbearing but present; I can feel it in my stomach. As it warmed, the spices became more dominant.

Overall, this was decent. A very unique beverage, made more interesting because of the historical inspiration behind it. Truly "off-centered" as Dogfish Head's motto proclaims. Very flavorful, but not overpowering since it has both spice and sweetness. One glass took me a good hour and a half to sip on and is plenty with 9%ABV.

The next night I enjoyed another glass with a most delicious mustard-glazed cranberry-topped salmon with goat cheese and spinach-risotto (Holla!) It was all delicious, but a million different strong flavors happening. I will not be going out of my way to try Theobroma again, but I'm very glad I got the chance to try it. I did enjoy it, but it's not for everybody.

B+

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Judged By Its Cover: Speakeasy's Prohibition Ale


Well, my beer intake has decreased as of late. The good news? I've been real busy and lost weight. The bad news? Boring! I like my beer.

I got this Prohibition Ale on a whim. The bottle is awesome. The label is great, the name is fun, and best of all? Creepy eyes looking at you from the neck.


This is an amber ale, coming from Speakeasy Brewery in San Francisco. "Amber Ales" are amber to deep red in color, generally malty, and somewhat fruity. The bottle boasts that this one is aggressively hopped as well.

A) Caramel-amber with a thin white head that disappears quickly.

S) Malt-heavy. Caramel and raisins. An edge of hops does come through.

T) The hops come out more in the taste, but it's still very sweet. Caramel-malts, slight piney-hops, some bread, and a bit of alcohol taste after a while.

MF) Medium-bodied

D) Pretty good. It is refreshing and tasty. 6.1%ABV is reasonable to have a couple. While it may be hoppy for the style, it's still too sweet and malty for me to have more than 1. But worth a try. I'd give another style from this brewery a shot.


B