Thursday, June 28, 2012

I got a plan . . . Plan B!

Connecticut has a small . . . but growing . . . chain of restaurants called Plan B.  The "B" stands for beef, burgers, bourbon and beer.  All of which they have in abundance . . . they have creative burgers, a diversity of bourbons and along with everyday run of the mill beers they have rotating taps of amazing micro-brews.

Hubby and I make the pilgrimage to this mecca of awesomeness every month or so.

On a recent visit we had a short wait for a table in which to ponder the beer menu.  There were so many choices . . . so many good choices . . . what to choose??

By the time our table was ready we had completed sufficient research  . . . gotta love free Wi-Fi access . . . to make our decisions on which beers to enjoy with our burgers.  We both chose a different selection; ones that we each preferred but also so that we could both taste as many different beers as possible.

We both chose three and these were our choices:

Prima Pils by Victory Brewing Company 

This beer as won many awards and, after tasting it, I can understand why.  This pilsner style beer was smooth and delicious.  However I was impressed . . . and a little surprised . . . with the unexpected bite of hops.   The hoppy bitterness and mellow maltiness balance out to create a very enjoyable beer.   The glass was left with an impressive amount of lacing.   (5.3% ABV)

312 Urban Wheat Ale by Goose Island

It's a very sessionable beer (4.2% ABV) that screams summer . . . or better yet . . . drink me its summer!  312 has a slightly sweet fruitiness that compliments  the wheat and hops; creating a flavor that is surprisingly well balanced.  It has a creamy mouth feel that goes down oh so easy.  This is an excellent go-to beer if you're looking for something light but are craving more flavor than your average mass produced light beer.

Tramp Stamp Belgian IPA by Clown Shoes Beer 

The name alone was enough to get me to try this beer . . . that and the lure of hoppy goodness.  The description of this beer is thus: "Like a stamp on a tramp, this brew is about not so subtle seduction."  Yeah, that about sums it up.

This was an amazing beer . . . seriously you MUST try this one.  I've never had a beer with such a complexity of flavors.  With all that this beer has going on it surprising how well it all pulled together to make . . . well, lets just say . . . it's like a party in your mouth . . . with clowns! 

How to describe the plethora of tastes . . . it was a little sweet and a little bitter. Just as the hoppiness is rolling off your tongue wheatiness washes in and then it finishes clean . . . ready for more.  There is nothing subtle about this beer including the alcohol content (7% ABV).  I was truly impressed and highly recommend this beer.

Mary’s Maple Porter by Brooklyn Brewery

Hubby ordered this one . . . I like porters and stouts, but I don't love them like he does and I'm not a huge Brooklyn Brewery fan so it wouldn't have been on my list in any case.

It was . . . to be perfectly blunt . . . meh.  All the Brooklyn beers I've tasted have a weird flavor to them that I've yet to nail down and this one has it, too.    It's a deep dark porter and you can definitely taste the maple syrup.  But again, it was just okay but I wouldn't jump at the opportunity for another one.  And even my stout/porter loving hubby agrees with that assessment, so take that for what it's worth.  (6.9%)

He'Brew Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A. on Rye by Shmaltz Brewing Company

A strong (10% ABV) IPA brewed with rye malt and named for Lenny Bruce . . . okay, gotta try it.  Admittedly, I'm not a huge fan of rye beers.  This beer was definitely strong, definitely hoppy and definitely yummy.  Bitter and sweet . . . coffee and caramel are pronounced but somehow balanced out with citrussy grapefruit and pine notes.  The rye in this beer wasn't an issue for me at all . . . it all just kind of worked out very nicely to make a very good and tasty beer.  Also, despite the high alcohol content, there was no overt boozy taste to throw off the enjoyment.  It's a big beer and a pretty intense flavor experience . . . and it's kosher . . . I say go for it!

Vermonster by Rock Art Brewery

An American barley wine  . . . a great BIG one and without a doubt falls into the category of an extreme beer.   It's strong, both in alcohol (10% ABV) and flavor.  Vermonster pretty much slaps your taste buds around with bitterness . . . clearly not for faint of heart nor for the novice beer drinker.  But it's not all bitter . . . a sip of this brew comes with essences of fruit, caramel, malt and pine.  Despite the huge flavor and richness it finishes surprisingly clean.  Very nice.  This is a sipper not a pounder . . . sit back and relax and enjoy as it warms in your glass and the flavors change subtly as it does so . . . making for an interesting drinking experience.  Yes, I said experience and I mean it.  This is a good one . . . 


Oh . . . we had more than just beer.  We had wings and burgers too . . . om nom nom nom.  If you haven't been to Plan B, I would say GO!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sap House Meadery - Peach Maple Mead

Hubby and I discovered the Sap House Meadery in February.  We did a tasting of the regular and seasonal meads.

So, when we went back to the White Mountains of New Hampshire for our summer vacation we made sure to make a trip to Center Ossipee and drop by again to see what Sap House had on tap.  

Again we did a tasting . . . how could we not want a taste of each and every one?  Their meads are so wonderful! (See previous review)

Fear not . . . we were mindful of the fact that we were on the motorcycle.  Being the passenger has its benefits . . . wink, wink.  ;)

We had a long conversation with Mead Master and co-owner of Sap House Meadery Ash Fischbein (that's what I call him . . . I don't know if that's his official title) and his dad.  We discussed mead, mead making, and all sorts of other topics.  We spent an hour and a half tasting, talking and visiting.  Either Ash actually likes us or he's a really really patient person to put up with us for so long.   Nah, he must just be really patient.  

Anyhoo . . . 

The seasonal mead they had for the summer was a Peach Maple Mead.  It was absolutely fabulous!  So much so that I had to go back for a second taste and walked out of the store with two bottles.

Ash told us this mead is made with locally grown whole-fruit peaches, never juice, and was aged in American Oak barrels . . . just like an Oaked California Chardonnay! 

The mead is a pale golden color with a lovely peachy aroma.  You can really taste the freshness of the peaches but its not all encompassing.  You get a real mead flavor with hints of peach and maple . . . it's really quite nice and balanced.  It's very clean on the palate . . . not at all sticky or overly sweet.  And, despite the relatively high alcohol content . . . 13.5% ABV . . . there is no boozy taste.    Really quite lovely.

I'm looking forward to a visit in the fall when we've been promised a bottle of a strawberry and a blackberry maple. Mmmm .  .  . I can't wait!

Visit Sap House Meadery's website or check them out on Facebook!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sunday River Brewing Company

Hubby and I went off on a long motorcycle ride on a beautiful day. We went through two states. . . Maine and New Hampshire . . . three notches. . . Evans, Grafton,  and Pinkham. . . making a 200 mile trip.  The plan was simply a nice long ride and to see some beautiful sites.  Which we accomplished most successfully but we had the bonus of finding a micro brewery along the way.

The brewery / brew pub was waaaaay out of the way in the middle of nowhere.  And, because we were on the bikes we obviously weren't going to be slamming down a whole big pile of beers.  Hell, I don't feel comfortable riding after having a single beer. 

So, we decided to share a sampler and a whole big pile of hot wings. . . a few sips each of six beers . . . just a tease really. . . and noms.

About the brewery:  Sunday River Brewing Company (SRBC)  . . . once tied in with the now defunct Stone Coast Brewing Company . . . is located on  Sunday River Road in Bethel Maine. It is a decent sized pub with clear viewing of the brewing area.  The brew master . . . or pro brewer, as he is called there . . . is Stewart Mason.  A home brewer to start he began working for breweries in Boston and then other locations until he made his way to Sunday River, where he’s made his home. 

Our lovely and knowledgeable server, Darcie, brought us our sampler and described the brews as such . . .  a blonde, an alt, an IPA, a porter, a wheat and a double IPA.

The first, Sunday River Blonde, was a pale lemon colored ale; a very light and refreshing but tasty 3.8% ABV; this would make an excellent session beer that you could enjoy many of on a long hot day.

The second, Sunday River Alt, was a tawny colored ale that is lightly sweet and has a clearly define caramel flavor. Another excellent beer.  Smooth and delicious. (4%ABV)

The third was Sunday River IPA. For some reason I have been lusting after IPAs recently and this one didn't disappoint me. Grapefruity hoppiness, bitter on the front end with a clean finish. A classic English IPA flavor with 5.7% ABV.

So far we're going three to three on liking this brew pub's offerings . . . and the wings are pretty darn good, as well . . . they all cant possible be good. Can they? Read on . . .

The fourth was Black Bear Porter.  This was my least favorite of the sextet . . . but not because it was bad.   It was indeed quite good, in fact.  What made me like it less than all the others is the smoky aspect. . . I'm jot a fan of smoky beer, that's all.   Hubby claimed this to be his favorite partially because of the smoky flavor . . . so, to each his own. This porter is typically dark and malty but surprisingly hoppy.  6% ABV

The final two were seasonals . . .

The fifth in the line up was a Belgian Wit a pale golden yellow.   A fruity wheat beer simply screams summer.    Like a lemonade beer . . . oh so good and refreshing . . . was refreshing, light and tasty.  The lemon wasn’t overpowering but instead complimented the wheat to create a nicely balance beer.

The final beer in our sampler was Mollyockett’s Revenge, a double IPA. A very big IPA coming in at a strong 8% ABV.  Despite the high alcohol content there was no boozy taste.  A really good hoppy beer . . . bitter, citrusy and seriously good. 

The beer discovery of Sunday River was nearly as amazing as the awesome ride.  If you’re ever in the area of Bethel Maine stop by and have yourself a few brews, you won’t be disappointed . . . great beer, pleasant staff and good food make for an all around experience.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Double Tap Mexicano

Mmm . . . cerveza fria . . . there may nothing better than an icy cold beer.   Well, mostly.

Today I'm reviewing a pair of Mexican beers: Sol and Tecate.  unbeknownst to me when I picked up this pair of cervesas, both of these beers are brewed by the same company Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma Brewery which is a subsidiary of Heineken International.  This brewery is a large operation that has been in business since 1890.  

I can't say that I loved either one of these beers.  They are your everyday, run of the mill beers . . . nothing special . . . that doesn't make them bad, just not outstanding.  Don't get me wrong . . . I like light beers.  I think they have their place in the beer drinking scheme of things.  I equate it to drinking water with alcohol and I drink this alcoholic water quite often.

Tecate . . . Cerveza Tecate-Con Carácter  . . . beer with character, so they say.  Personally, I think that's a bit of an over statement.  It is an American Adjunct Lager.  This style is comparable to beers like Pabst Blue Ribbon, Rolling Rock, etc. - mass produced to be inexpensive.  It's so called because it uses adjunct cereal grains, like rice and corn, to cut costs.

Tecate is very light and unremarkable.  If your looking for a beer with low alcohol content (4.5% ABV) that you can consume in quantities on a hot and sweaty day . . . this is your beer.  Overall . . . meh.

I could say the same for Sol . . . only more so.  It is marketed as "The original Mexican sunshine beer" is a blond Mexican, light, festive and refreshing golden colored pilsner-style beer. Sol is brewed in the style of an American Light Lager with an even lower alcohol content (3.7% ABV).   It is extremely light and I thought a little skunky tasting.  However, I find that is often the case with beers packaged in light colored bottles.  

Again . . . meh.

You may say . . . but, but, but they're a subsidiary of Heineken.  Yeah, well, I don't like  Heineken , either.  The only Heiny you'll catch me grabbing is my hubby's.  Just sayin'.

Cringe if you want . . . but I'll stick with my Keystone Light when I want alcoholic water.  


For more information visit the Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma Brewery website.