Saturday, November 21, 2009

"Cooking" with Beer: Apple Pie Ale

Wow. Okay last year around this time I commenced a little project called "The 12 Beers of Xmas" in which I compared 12 winter/holiday ales to find the winners. It was fun. And hard, delicious work. I recall trying a Harpoon's Winter Warmer at that time and enjoying it. Hadn't thought about it since until recently when I read on a well-known beer-related site that if you mix it with cider it tastes like apple pie.
For a little seasonal fun, I decided to try this, but first trying the beverages in their solitary states.
Harpoon's Winter Warmer (From Boston): A pretty dark clear amber, tiny fizzy head. It smelled strongly of cinnamon and nutmeg, along with some malts and mild...banana? It tastes sweet, like pumpkin pie. Noticeable malts. Despite the strong flavors, it still comes across as thin. Perhaps...Like watered-down banana bread, if that were possible. But overall, pleasant, if not awesome. B
Next I give the cider a go. I picked up a nice 22 oz. of JK Scrumpy's Organic Cider, simply because it was the only cider I saw. I didn't realize until right now that it's from MI. WHOOT! It poured paler than I thought it would be - looked like cloudy apple juice with almost a pink undertone. No visible carbonation or head. The smell? Like apple orchard and beer. The taste? Wow! Super crisp, sweet yet tart, and, ya know, tastes like cider. Alcohol not as present in the taste as the smell. This was WAY good.
Now for the cooking...
I poured about 50% each. It came out darker, sudsier, and with sediment that I had not noticed before but decided they were tiny pieces of apple. Sweet and tart, caramel, spices...Yep! Tastes like pie! I decided to be decadent and have some with real apple pie. Delightful. Also, didn't you think the motto for Sara Lee was "nobody does it like Sara Lee?" Well, according to the box it's "Nobody doesn't like Sara Lee." I don't like that double negative. I do, however, like apple pie.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Stressed Out = Thailand's Chang

Okay, I was REALLY STRESSED the other day. Cuz of boring job stuff. Anyways, it was stressful all day and then I really wanted a beer. But not a delicious beer to savor and appreciate. I wanted a shitty cheap beer in order to feel somewhat more relaxed. I went to the haven of Luke's Discount Liquor. This place was pretty fantastic. A huge aisle was dedicated to nothing but imported beers and besides the usual sizable Belgian/English/German beers they also had a large Asian section. Besides that, plenty of US Micros. But I was not there for any of that. I was there for the crap. So I followed the Budweiser signs back to the cooler. Hmmm...I planned to get a nice 22 oz. of Bud Light or Miller Light or something. Maybe even a 40! But when I got back there, I really couldn't justify spending even $1.50 on something gross. Then I saw the $2.99 22 oz. bottles of Chang. I figured, for basically the same price, let's try something new.

Upon my arrival home, I poured it into a pint glass. It was crystal clear, and dark yellow-ish orange with a tiny white fizzy head that instantly disappeared. No lacing or anything. The smell was strong and poured out of the bottle. It smelled like apples and corn. A lot like Bud or Miller. Also, frankly, kind of like urine.

While it tasted mostly like the watery/corn-y US Macros, it was a little bit sweeter - almost (midly) like apple cider. This had high drinkability, because the flavor was not strong but it was kind of bland, sweet, watery, and not terribly interesting or delicious. Overall gross, but hey, it was a decent distraction to end a less than decent day.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Midas Touch

The story goes that everything King Midas touched turned into gold. The Midas Touch by Dogfish Head Brewing, is based on an ancient beverage found in the Midas Tomb from 2700 years ago. This is really cool. Unfortunately, the beer was kinda gross. The bottle I had was from December 2008, almost a year ago. Almost as impressive as the scrapings of an ancient bottle, no?
Appearance: a cloudy orange, small off-white head, not much visible carbonation.
Smell: Sweet. Honey, a little bit of spice, and at times, a whiff of bakery.Taste: Woah. 1 sip had a bunch of different flavors. The first taste went from sweet to spicey to bitter to fruity to alcohol. Later I refined this to be: Malts->honey->grains and spice->alcohol and dark fruits, grapes. The alcohol was definitely present in the taste. Mouthfeel: Medium to thin and on the flat side
Drinkability: Not very good for me. In theory this is a really cool beverage. And I'm glad they had booze back in the days of yore. But this was a little too complex for my taste buds. Which, by the by, did not turn into gold upon tasting.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Everybody Must Get Stone: Ken Schmidt and Oak Aged Arrogant

Man, oh Womyn. It's been like 6 weeks since I've blogged. Never fret, dear reader(s?) - I have enjoyed some delicious beer during that time. Some Dogfish Head Punkin Ale at a bar in Philly as well as at Halloween. A lovely Belgian Delerium Tremens while out on the town with a visiting friend.

And over the weekend, 2 different beers from the Stone Brewery out in CA.

I've tried a couple from Stone, in particular the delicious Arrogant Bastard. The first I tried was randomly picked up. There was a whole bunch of them in single bottles. Upon inspection I realized it was a Stone product, later learning it was a collaboration between Stone, a Hawiian brewery, and a lucky home-brewer named Ken. The result? a Kona Coffee Macadamia Nut Coconut Porter. Sounds delicious and intense right? Right.
Fun fact: "porters" became a popular style in 18th century England among transportation workers. Hence, the name. American style porters take some initiatives with this style, adding coffee, chocolate, hop bitterness, or in this case, a multitude of nuts and coffee.

Appearance: This poured a very dark cola-esque brown. The thin dark brown head was fizzy and disappeared almost instantly. The liquid was viscious against the glass but left no lacing.
Smell: Coffee instantly stood out. Dark, roasty with a very mild sweet coconut smell coming through.
Taste: Wow - very flavorful! "Smokey," "nutty," and "roasty" all came to mind. Strong, big flavors of coffee and bitter chocolate. I found it to be balanced with a wee aftertaste of coconut.
Mouthfeel: Somewhat soft and chewey, plenty of carbonation, and "coating of the tongue," if you will.
Drinkability: Good. Fairly high in alcohol at 8.5%, but I couldn't taste it. It's a big and intense flavor, so one was plenty. But definitely enjoyable. Recommended with a SKOR BAR.

Next was an Oak Aged Arrogant Bastard, one that I've been keeping for a special occassion. In this case, there was no real occassion except a day off work. I love the regular Arrogant Bastard, so was eager to try this. I don't really get what oak aging does, except add a little flavor and "mellow it out," man. Or something.

Appearance: Gorgeous. Deep amber. Looked brown but bright ruby RED when held to the light. The sticky 1 finger brown head lasted for a long time and left a frothy ring around the glass and tons of lacing.
Smell: Strong vanilla stood out, then dark fruits, malts, and spice, along with a noticeable smell of alcohol. I asked my non-beer-drinking gf what she thought it smelled like and she said, "alcohol and Christmas" which was a better description than I could come up with.
Taste: Nice. Similar to the regular Arrogant Bastard but more malty and rich. The alcohol was also more noticeable in the taste, although the amount is stil 7.2%, same as the original.
Mouthfeel: Soft and chewey
Drinkability: Good, but would have been better for me if the alcohol was less noticeable in the taste and smell. This is a rich, flavorful beverage; something to savor. Unfortunately, after I drank half the bottle I spilled the rest on the carpet. I promise, I was not drunk, only clumsy. And now our carpet smells like old Oak Aged Arrogant Bastard. Which is not so great. B+