Thursday, August 30, 2012

City Steam Innocence IPA

Recently I wrote a post about a bunch of beers I had sampled.  Two of which were from a Connecticut brewery in Hartford called City Steam; both I enjoyed very much.  

The brewery commented that if I liked those I should try another of their beers . . . "She's an IPA by the name of "Innocence" and you will never forget your first. " City Steam

It just so happens that my favorite beer store had this particular beer so I confidently snagged a six pack to enjoy over the weekend.  And, enjoy it I did.  In fact, I liked Innocence even better than the other two . . . Naughty Nurse and Blonde on Blonde . . . and I really liked those.

First of all . . . the label is pretty cute. Front and center is a slightly nerdy, kinda sexy Velma Dinkley (of Scooby Doo fame) look-a-like. Jinkies! 

I popped open a nice cold one and was immediately impressed by the rich reddish gold color.  It poured a thick head that dissipated fairly quickly but left behind a good amount lacing that hugged the side of the glass.  

It looked nice but how did it taste?  Mmm . . . quite good indeed.

Innocence is and American style IPA that has a caramel apple thing going on followed by a citrus and earthy hoppiness that I expect from an IPA.  It is an interesting combination of flavors and even more enticing is how they build in your mouth. It's like the sweetness is almost there and then it's like hey what just happened??  But in a good way!  Just as it seemed  the sweetness was going hit full on the hops took over and washed it away with a pleasant bitterness.   It finished clean and crisp . . . and left me wanting more.  So, I had another one.  Who am I to deny Innocence?

All-in-all I give Innocence a hearty two thumbs up.  Not too sweet, not too bitter . . . just right, very nice.  I would have drank the whole six by myself but my hubby insisted on having some too.  The nerve!  Personally, I think he just wanted to fondle the babe on the label but he'd never admit it.

Ah . . . the end of the Innocence.  

For more information about City Steam Brewery's Beer and Cafe visit their website or check them out on Facebook.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Great balls of fire!

Once a week hubby and I go out for a date night.  This typically consists of getting all googly eyed at each other over good hot wings and cheap cold beer.  Hey, what can I say . . . we're not classy but we have fun together.

This week was a little different.  Oh, there were plenty of wings and a big pitcher of beer . . . and googly eyeballing . . . to be sure.  But I saw a drink special above the bar I simply had to try.

Fireball Cinnamon Whisky Shooter!  

Our lovely server . . . brought over a little shaker . . . shake shake shaking it all the way . . . and a shot glass. 

She placed the glass in front me and pour a thick, cold, amber liquid into.   The enticing aroma of warm cinnamon wafted forth.  Drooool!

If you thought I wasted any time tasting it you'd be dead wrong.

Goodness gracious great balls of fire!  That stuff is GOOD!
If you're not a whisky drinker fear not . . . this tasted like no other whisky I've ever had.  There is no whisky flavor nor is there any whisky burn.   All that you taste is a Fireball . . . you remember those round red penny candies from when you were a kid?  Yup . . . just like that!

Seriously dangerous stuff.  And, oh my oh so yummy.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Winchester . . . a beer lovers paradise

This post is as much about the location as it is about the beer.  Probably even more so.

Recently, hubby and I went to New England Brewing Company’s Final Friday which is basically an event where they open up the brewery to the public allowing them to check out the facilities and sample their beer.

After we had sampled our three beers and enjoyed the party we decided we hadn’t had our fill . . . a sampling of those yummy beers only served to wet our appetite.

Almost directly across the street from the brewery is the Winchester Restaurant and Bar.  It’s a nice little restaurant with a big beautiful bar and an amazing beer list.  I'm pretty sure they serve food . . . just kidding, they do.  We didn't eat much but the wings were good.  The bartender was pretty rockin', too!

If you're ever in the neighborhood be sure to stop in for a pint or so . . . you won't be disappointed.

There were so many beers to try it was difficult to know where to start.  But we worked it out.  We were sharing so don't freak that there are so many beers on this list.  

Mother's Milk by Keegan Ales.  This was by far one of the finest stouts I've ever had the pleasure to consume . . . that's saying something as I am not a huge fan of stouts. It was smooth and creamy and remarkably delicious.  It could almost be a cookie . . . chocolate and oats . . . a liquid beery cookie.  Remarkable!  Apparently hubby thought so too, I think he drank most of it! (5% ABV)

Friars Quad by  New England Brewing.  As the name implies it is a very strong beer (10.2% ABV).  It is a rich, deep red Belgian style ale.  It is very malty with hints of fruit, strong without being boozy and it has a pleasant yeastiness.  Really quite good and tasty.  It disappeared pretty quickly from my glass . . . again I believe hubby to be the culprit.

1687 Brown Ale by Charter Oak Brewing.  Another local-to-me brewing company but this is the first taste I've had of their beer.  This is an American style brown ale.  It was slightly sweet with caramel and chocolate undertones.  Toasty malts prevail with a surprising hoppiness that adds a fine complexity and creates a wonderful flavor. A worthy flagship beer.  (5.5% ABV)

Black IPA by Otter Creek Brewing.  As the name indicates it is a dark beer . . . almost stouty with roasted malt and caramel flavors but most definitely IPAish with a lot of hoppy bitterness.  If you're a fan of stouts and IPAs and are having a hard time deciding which to drink . . . you can have the best of both worlds with this beer.  Awesomeness in a glass!! (6% ABV)

Duvel by Duvel Moortgat.  This an imported Belgian strong pale ale.   It is a bubbly fruity ale . . . not sweet as it is balanced out by the hops.   Don't get me wrong it is not overly bitter but the hoppy floral notes compliment and accentuate the orange, apple(?) and honey flavors.  An interesting beer, very tasty. (8.5% ABV) 

Taddy Porter by Samuel Smith.  A true English beer.  It is dark and frothy, smooth and delicious.  A really good porter with lots of caramel and toffy undertones along with my favorite . . . dark chocolate.  It's smooth and creamy with just the right amount of carbonation.  Again a really good dark beer . . . am I being turned to the dark side?  Maybe.  This was really, really good! (5% ABV)

Naughty Nurse by City Steam Brewery.  City Steam is pretty local to me but this is the first time I've had their beer.  Okay . . . who doesn't like a naughty nurse? Apparently, a lot of people do like Naughty Nurse because it's their best selling beer.  It is an amber ale that is easily drinkable.  It's crisp and refreshing . . . a little hoppy with hints of fruit.  It is a nice light beer that you can kick back and enjoy on a fine summer day.  (5% ABV)

Blonde on Blonde by City Steam Brewery.  It sounds like a porno but it's not.  It's actually a nice, tasty hoppy brew that is much more to my liking (more so than a pile of blonde chicks getting it on).  It's got the strong citrussness (is that a word?) that I love so much in hopped up brews.  It's light and smooth . . . it kind of goes right down (again and again and again).  I've had hoppier but I'm not complaining. This was a damn fine beer!  Delish! (6% ABV)

Scrumtrulescent by New England Brewing.  What's in a name?  Do I read scrumptious in there?  Sort of?  Maybe.  This was yummy!  This is a saison or farmhouse style ale.   It is a nice summer beer . . . a little spicy, slightly fruity . . . overall a light, flavorful and too drinkable brew.   (5.6% ABV) 

If you're at the Winchester be sure to stop by New England Brewing and grab a growler or two!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cooking with Beer - Sea Hag Hopped Up Pickles

Sea Hag Hopped Up Pickles
(Spicy IPA Pickles)

2 Pounds Small Cucumbers
1 1/2 Cups Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Can Sea Hag IPA (or any good IPA)
2 Tablespoons Pickling Salt OR
3 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
8 Garlic Cloves, Peeled
4 Teaspoons Dill Seed
2 Teaspoons Black Peppercorns
1 Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes

Cut off the ends of cucumbers.  This is important because there are enzymes in the ends that will soften the pickles . . . i.e. less crispy. 

Cut the cucumbers into quarters, make sure they’re short enough to fit in quart mason jars without sticking up too high.  Pack the cucumbers into the jars

Split the rest of the ingredients between the two jars.

Combine the vinegar, beer, and salt together in a saucepan, heat until just boiled.  Be careful because it will boil over.

Using a ladle, pour the hot liquid over the cucumbers leaving about a 1/4 inch of headspace.

Screw the lid tops on and allow the jars to cool on the countertop.

Shake the jars gently to mix the spices around.  Put them in the fridge and allow the pickles to absorb all the wonderful spices.

After about a week open the jar, take a bite and be completely impressed with your awesome pickling skills!

PS . . . I use New England Brewery Sea Hag cuz it's a rockin' good beer that make seriously rockin' good pickles!

Print Recipe

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Back East Brewing

Hubby and I went to the official Grand Opening of Back East Brewing.  It was a hot, sticky day with thunderstorms looming. Oh boy was I looking forward to some yummy beer!

I don’t know what I was expecting but I was surprised by the volume of people who had shown of the event.  The place was packed.  There were lines of people everywhere . . . a line to get in, a line for each of the tasting stations, a line for the brewery tour . . . a line for everything.  

I’m certainly not finding fault in that.  I am happy for the brewery for having such a successful grand opening.  It was just so oppressive  . . .  both weather-wise and people-wise.

As we entered the gate we got our hand stamped, a cup, and tickets good for six 4-ounce samples.  So far so good!

I shouldn’t have been surprised by this . . . a myriad of politicians showed up to wave and smile and snip ribbons.  Yeah, they’re everywhere . . . especially during so close to an election.

We found the end of a line leading to a beer sampling tent and were looking forward with happy anticipation to our first taste of Back East beer.   Hubby and I each selected a different beer . . . I chose the Back East Amber Ale and he got the IPA.

Back East Amber Ale is their Flagship brew.  It had a good strong taste up front but pretty much empty of flavor on the finish.  It was smooth and nicely carbonated but generally lacking . . . something.  It was good but not great.

Misty Mountain IPA.  India Pale Ales are my favorite, so I was really looking forward to a taste.  It has a nice hoppy bitterness but is otherwise missing the other characteristics (citrus, pine, malt) of a good IPA that I’ve come to expect in a good, hand crafted IPA.  Again . . . good but not great.

We drank our beer while waiting in line for the brewery tour and tasting room . . . by this time, the dark clouds are building and I was hoping we got inside before all hell broke loose.  Thankfully, we did. 

We declined to take the tour due to time constraints.  But we did take the opportunity to sample a couple more beers while passing through the tasting room.  We also grabbed a couple bottles of the limited edition imperial stout  . . .  hubby 's favorite style of beer.

This time I grabbed a the Golden ale and hubby got the stout.

The Golden Ale was my favorite among all the beers I tasted.  It was very drinkable . . . crisp, light, tasty.  It was nothing special but it was good.

The Imperial stout . . . it was kind of disappointing.  It had almost no carbonation, watery mouth feel. Smokey but wanting other flavors to compliment it . . . like coffee or caramel or chocolate or toasted malt.

Overall I thought all the beers were good but really nothing special.  I was actually kind of disappointed because I’d been looking forward to this event all week.

 Not to be a downer but I  . . . in my honest opinion, for what that’s worth . . . Back East needs to kick it up notch or three.   There are so many new and established craft brewers in Connecticut that are producing some of the best, most creative and amazing flavorful beers.  What I had at the open house simply wasn’t up to the standard I’ve come to expect from the little guys brewing fine craft beer in Connecticut.

Hubby’s take on the quality of the beer is that perhaps they since this was a free event and that the brewery doling out gallons of free samples that maybe they didn’t put forth their best brews. 

On some level that makes sense, but I would think that since it was an open house and the first exposure to their beer for a lot of people . . . myself included . . . that they would want to pour the best tasting beer they make. 

I’ll grab a bottle or two of  Back East Brewing from my local store and give them another give them another go around and see what happens.

Visit Back East Brewing's website or check them out on Facebook

Friday, August 10, 2012

Redstone Black Raspberry Nectar Cocktails

One of my favorite meads is Redstone Black Raspberry Nectar.  It is a melomel style of mead; it is mead made with fruit other than grapes or apples.  It is made with with 5 parts Clover honey, 1 part Wildflower honey and black raspberry puree.  It's light and slightly effervescent.  I like it especially because it is not overly sweet.  It's fairly heavy in the alcohol department, however, coming in at 8% ABV.  I first had it a few years ago and I love it so much that I always keep a bottle or two in the house.

Redstone has several recipes on their website using their meads as mixers.  Although I really like mead without anything added to it I thought I'd give a couple of their recipes a try to see how they taste.   They were, in fact, quite good.  

The Rose

4 Ounces Redstone Black Raspberry Nectar
1 Ounce Vodka
1 Wedge Lime

Squeeze lime into champagne glass and set aside.

Pour nectar and vodka into a shaker filled with ice.  Give it a quick shake and strain into the champagne glass over the lime.

Tubesteak Boogie

4 Ounces Redstone Black Raspberry Nectar
1 Ounce Jack Daniels

Pour nectar and Jack Daniels into a shaker filled with ice.  Give it a quick shake and pour into a rocks glass.

For more recipes from Redstone Meadery visit their website or check them out on Facebook.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Redstone Black Raspberry Nectar

Saturday, August 4, 2012 was the 10th Annual Mead Day.    Mead Day was established by the Homebrewers Association of America to heighten awareness to this age old beverage.

Mead is believed to be the oldest fermented beverage in the world . . . possibly 40,000 years.  In it's simplest form, it is made with honey, water and yeast. Mead makers add a plethora of ingredients to their brews; fruits, herbs, spices, etc.

So, how did we celebrate Mead Day?  By drinking mead, of course!  The dilemma is which mead to choose . . . it's a difficult decision because we have several in our collection and we love them all.  

I settled on Redstone  Black Raspberry Nectar for one reason . . . and one reason only . . .  it was the first mead I ever drank and my introduction to this beverage that is truly the nectar of the gods.  

I first had this mead a couple of years ago at one of my favorite Connecticut breweries, Willimantic Brewing Company.   They had it on the menu as a "guest tap" and so I tried it . . . and loved it.  I always have a bottle or two on hand.  

Redstone Meadery is based in Boulder, Colorado.  Their slogan . . . honey wine . . . feel the love . . . catch the buzz.  Redstone makes a variety of flavored mead but, the  Black Raspberry Nectar remains my favorite among their offerings.

Black Raspberry Nectar was the first mead produced by Redstone in 2001 and is their best seller. It is made with with 5 parts Clover honey, 1 part Wildflower honey and black raspberry puree.  It's light and slightly effervescent.  I like it especially because it is not overly sweet.  It's fairly heavy in the alcohol department, however, coming in at 8% ABV.  

Best served chilled, it makes a nice cool beverage on a hot day.  It also goes well with a variety of foods; such as meat and cheese or a big honkin' rack of barbecue ribs.  It can also be used as a mixer but I prefer it just the way it is.

Obviously, I highly recommend Redstone's Black Raspberry Nectar.  Give it a try and enjoy!


For more information on Redstone Meadery visit their website or check them out on Facebook.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Sound Brewery Humulo Nimbus

August 2 is International IPA Day.  A day when beer enthusiasts all over the world raise a glass of hoppy goodness in honor of a style of beer the is well known and loved: India Pale Ale!

So in honor of this auspicious occasion I, of course, had to indulge in an IPA.  And I didn't want just any everyday, run-of-the-mill, ordinary IPA.  I wanted a special one.

I acquired a beer that cannot be obtained in Connecticut by ordinary means.  In fact, I went to great lengths to get a beer that not only is award winning but is so locally distributed that it's nearly impossible to get outside the brewery's area. 

And that beer is?  Humulo Nimbus by Sound Brewery.  Sound Brewery is located in Puget Sound region of Washington State.  Which, I might add, is a beautiful place to visit!

Humulo Nimbus, which gets it's name (in part) from the scientific name for hops humulus lupulin, is a double IPA that comes in at 8.5 ABV and 75 IBUs.  

 It pours a hazy reddish gold with little to no head.  I was immediatly struck by a wonderful hoppy pineapply aroma that made my mouth water.  I knew right away that I had chosen a worthy beer to celebrate IPA Day.   

The flavor of this beer is impressive . . . nicely bitter and slightly sweet all at the same time . . . tropical fruits, bitter hops, a little caramel, a touch of vanilla that all meld into a mouthful of YUM.  

It is full bodied  . . . not quite heavy . . . but the citrussness (is that a word?) make the beer refreshing and very drinkable (dangerously drinkable).  It finishes fairly clean with a touch of bitterness at the back end.  

My overall thoughts on this beer?   I would drink it anytime anywhere and why-oh-why can't I get it on the East Coast?  Am I a fan of Sound Brewery?  Hells ya!

If you are outside the distribution area of the Sound Brewery, Marina Market will ship to most states . . . for a price.  

Visit Sound Brewing's website or check them out on Facebook.

Hubby and I during a 2004 visit to Seattle and the Pugent Sound.  This photo was take at Ebey Bluffs on Whidbey Island. Beautiful!  If only I'd known about Sound Brewing then!