Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pork'n out on beer

Most Wednesday nights you'll find hubby and I at Porky's Cafe in Shelton, CT for our weekly hump day excursion for hot wings and cold brew.  The rotating tap and seasonal beer offerings continue to impress me.  

A lot of these are from two of my favorite breweries . . . Dogfish Head and Lagunitas . . . but there are others such as Brooklyn, Founders and Sebago.  Of course, if there's something new available you know I'm going to try it.  

I've recently gotten the opportunity to try three outstanding beers.  Any of these I would recommend . . . especially to the hophead and the craft brew lover . . . they were all drool worthy!

Lagunitas Daytime Fractional IPA - Hops, hops and more hops . . . oh my, IPA heaven.  Lots of citrus and hops in the nose . . . and the flavors to back up that wonderful aroma.  It's big on taste but fairly light otherwise.  The 4.6% ABV and a goes-down-easy mouthfeel makes this very tasty IPA a great session beer for the hop lover.  Yum!

Lagunitas Brown Shugga - I ordered this without realizing it was a barleywine . . . not that I wouldn't have ordered it anyway.  Brown shugga . . . er . . . sugar, yeah it's got that.  And honey, too!  All that sweet stuff is offset by lots of grapefruity bitterness.  Sweet, tart and mouthwatering good.  An awesome balance of flavors with a bit of an alcohol burn.  Brown Shugga weighs in at a hefty 9.9% ABV.  Mmm, mmm, good!

Dogfish Head Olde School - I'm not big lover of barleywine but I'll give anything from Dogfish Head a whirl.  This brew has an amazing smell . . . tart and sweet and hoppy all at the same time.  The first sip . . . holy cow WOW!  Every sip there after . . . wow.  The bartender served this beer up in a shaker pint glass . . . surprising since there were three beers in that glass if you consider the massive 15% ABV.  And you can feel all that alcohol . . . it tingles the gums and tongue.  It's interesting in that you don't overly taste all that alcohol.  It's got a dark fruit taste and loads of caramel and something else I can't quite put my finger on.  It's sweet, all right, but there hoppy bitterness in there, too.  Olde School is truly something special . . . I am impressed.   Thumbs up all over the place for this brew!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Asahi Super Dry

Hubby and I went out to dinner with family to a Japanese steak house to celebrate a birthday.    This type of restaurant isn't hubby's favorite so, it was an opportunity to eat a  hibachi dinner, drink hot saké and . . . of course . . . try out a new beer.

I love saké and I don't often get an opportunity to drink it.  Saké is usually misclassified as rice wine.  The process of making saké is more akin to how beer is made.  Saké is brewed but the process isn't exactly the same as how beer is made, though.  When saké is brewed the starch to sugar/sugar to alcohol conversion occurs in a single step; as opposed to two like in beer making.  Saké typically has a 15% ABV . . . what's not to like?

Okay . . . enough about my beloved rice beer.

Hubby ordered a bomber sized bottle of Asahi Super Dry.  Asahi Breweries is based in Tokyo, Japan.  I was kind of surprised that Asahi wasn't brewed by an American based macro-brewery.  Why?  Because it tasted an awful lot like a middle-of-the-road mass produced American style beer . . . Bud, Coors, Miller, etc.

Ah . . . mystery solved.  I wasn't too far off.  It turns out that the Asahi beer distributed to North American is brewed in Molson's Vancouver brewery.  There you have it!

 I'm not saying I didn't like it.  I'm no beer snob.  I believe every beer doesn't have to be a $15 bottle craft brew to be good.  I love and appreciate those wonderful brews . . . but mass produced beer has it's place and I like it for what it is. 

Asahi is good . . . for what it is.

Asahi tastes pretty much a typical lager.  There's nothing complex about the flavor . . . it's light tasting and slambackable.  Which is to say that it's a good beer to kickback and enjoy after a hot afternoon of mowing the back acre.

Like I said . . . a time and place for every beer.

Oh . . . about that lager thing.  It's interesting to point out that German POWs worked in the Asahi brewery during the war to end all wars (WWI).  It's possible those prisoners had some influence over the brewing process.

Wow . . . a pretty long blog post for a mediocre beer . . . go figure.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Meet me at the Moat!

Some would say that no visit to the White Mountains is complete without seeing a moose.  Yeah, well, been there done that and all.  I even have a tee-shirt.

For me, no visit to the White Mountains is complete without a stop at Moat Mountain Smokehouse and Brewery.  It's not that seeing a moose isn't an awesome experience.   It's just that getting a good meal and a great beer at Moat Mountain is much more likely.

Moat Mountain is one of my favorite breweries.  Their beer is consistent and good and clearly made with care.  

On our way home from every trip to the North Conway area we always stop for lunch and get a bunch of growlers refilled.  If they have Violet Bs Blueberry on tap that's what is most likely to go home with us.  Hands down, that my favorite Moat beer but I have no complaints about any of their other beers.

This time when we stopped they had a couple new-to-me brews that I had to try so I skipped the 24 ounce glass of blueberry and opted for something different.  However, I did go home with a couple half-gallon jugs of blueberry goodness!  

GerRye Pale Ale - Much like Iron Mike's the GerRye has a large hop presence. I admit I'm salivating just a bit thinking about it.  It's crisp, a bit tart, pleasantly bitter with a touch of peppery spice.  There are a lot of flavors co-mingling to make this tasty and very drinkable brew.  It finishes dry with a hoppy bitterness that lingers.  If you like hoppy beer . . . like *I* like hoppy beer . . . you'll like this one.  Yum! 

Dunkel Weiss (5.70% ABV) -  Looks aren't everything but I must say this beer has a gorgeous golden amber color.  I"m not a huge fan of wheat beers . . . that is, I'm not a fan of wheat beer that is overpoweringly wheaty.  This one actually has a nice balance of wheat, spice and fruitiness.  Actually, quite refreshing and tasty.  Smooth and drinkable . . . good stuff. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A beer excursion at Hilly Billy's Barbecue

While on our little Thanksgiving weekend mini-vacation in North Conway, NH we decided to stop for a couple of beers in between beer stops.  Well, to be honest we stopped here after a mead run at the Sap House Meadery, but it was before going for beer at the Red Parka.  

I kid you not, hubby and I are beer whores.  

So, we decided to try out Hill Billy's Barbecue.  We're in the area several times a year and Hill Billy's is one of those places we keep meaning to check out but never seem to get around to.   I'm glad we did . . . great beer, good food, helpful wait staff!

Figuring out what to get to snack on was a no-brainer . . . sweet/spicy chili wings (as recommended by Meghan, our lovely and talented bartendress), hot wings and onion rings. Yum.  The beer selection made picking a beer very difficult.   So, we just went for it and tried as many of the ones we hadn't had before as we could . . .  we couldn't squeeze them all in but got most of them.

Oh, relax.  We didn't get slooshed.  We each had a pint and then opted for a sampler.  

This is how it went . . . 

Hex (Ourtoberfest) by Magic Hat Brewing (5.4% ABV) - it smells pretty much the way it tastes . . . caramel malty with a bit of hops.  The first thing you taste is  mildly sweet maltiness with pleasant bitter finish.  Hex is clean and refreshing and quite tasty.  I would've gone for a second if it not for the other taps screaming at me.

Slick Nick Winter Ale by Sebago Brewing (6.2% ABV) - a nice winter ale.  Plenty of caramel and hints of spices . . . lightly sweet with nice effervescence.  I liked it a lot.

Dead Guy Ale by Rogue Ales (6.6% ABV) -  I haven't met a Rogue beer I haven't liked . . . and this is one no exception.  Dead Guy is very malty up front but has a crisp malt finish to add balance and cleanse the palate for your next sip . . . and your next and your next.  Yum!

Rainbow Red Ale by Trout River Brewing (5% ABV) - The tap head caught my attention with this one . . . it's a trout . . .  so I asked about it.  The bartender said that it was one of their most popular beers.  I can see why, it's really really good.   Lots of caramel malt flavor and exceptionally drinkable . . . Rainbow Red goes down smooth and easy . . . too easy.  

Curious Traveler by House of Shandy (6.5% ABV) - This is another one with an interesting tap head, that and it was right in my face.  So, I asked about it.  The bartender said it was her personal favorite.  Enough said.   It's a refreshing wheat style beer infused with lemons and limes.  It goes down easy and is very tasty.  Another good one! 

Old Thumper by Shipyard Brewing (5.9% ABV) - This is and extra special /  strong bitter ale.  And while there is lots of bitter there is plenty of malt and a bit of fruit to keep all that hoppy bitterness in check.  It finishes clean and begs for another sip.  Quite good.

I really enjoyed our Hill Billy's Barbecue experience.  Frankly, if your mouth doesn't start watering as you're walking in the door then you've got no sense of smell.  I wanted one of everything I was smelling . . . drooool.  If you're in the area give Hilly Billy's a try.  The food was really good and the beer selection impressive.  And, if you're into sports they've got games up on several big screen TVs.

Small Business Saturday at Sap House Meadery

One of our favorite small businesses we enjoy visiting while vacationing in the White Mountains is the Sap House Meadery.  We decided to make this our must-do stop for Small Business Saturday after Thanksgiving.

We were greeted by Ash and Matt, Sap House owners, and sat down to enjoy a tasting of their meads . . . including their season offering Cranberry Sage.

We had a nice conversation about how they make their meads, their bottling process and the future of their ever growing business.

They are currently operating in a small store the encompasses their production area, a wall of shelves filled with their retail offerings and the tasting bar.

Today's tasting . . . we have one every time we visit . . . was Vanilla Bean, Hopped Blueberry, Sugar Maple,  Ossipioja and Cranberry Sage.  They pour the samples into etched wine glasses and the mead is served room temperature.

The Vanilla Bean is amazing.  It has a light mouth feel with an intense vanilla flavor.  It's truly remarkable how much vanilla you can taste . . . delicious and intoxicating (18% ABV)

The Hopped Blueberry may be my favorite.  It's not as sweet and a little dryer.  I'm a hophead so I appreciate the hint of hops that co-mingles with the fresh blueberry taste (14.6% ABV).

The Sugar Maple is sweet and rich.  Delicious and loaded with yummy local maple.  It's smooth going down and finishes clean (13.8%).

Ossipioja is made with rioja wine grapes and is an excellent segue for the wine drinker to transition to enjoying mead.  Luxurious and kind of sexy (14.2%).

Cranberry Sage . . . wow!  This mead has a light mouth feel and wonderful cranberry flavor accented by a touch of sage.  Get this while you can and stock it up for your next Thanksgiving dinner as mead ages well.

Look for Sap House meads in a store near you . . . or order online from their website.

Thank you Ash and Matt for making our visit so fun and educational.

Learn more about Sap House Meadery by visiting their website and keep up to date with Sap House happenings by liking them on Facebook.

Black Friday shopping my way

I'm ashamed to admit I went shopping on Black Friday.  Anyone who knows me knows that I abhor shopping . . . I'd almost rather chew glass than go shopping, especially on the biggest, nuttiest shopping day of the year.  

So, what could be so compelling that I would risk life, limb and sanity to go shopping on this most frenzied day of purchasing madness?  A giant flat screen television?  No.  An Ipad?  Hells no.  A furby?  Cute, but no.  

Well? What is it?  Beer, duh!

Hubby and I took advantage of the long Thanksgiving weekend and headed to our favorite place in the whole, wide world . . . the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  

Near to where we stay is a great little store specializing in all kinds of beer, especially local craft brews.  

Glen Beverage is located near the intersection of Routes 302 and 16 in Glen, New Hampshire.  This small, unassuming little store contains a mind boggling variety of beers . . . 200, or so the sign outside says.

You walk in the door to a veritable wonderland of brews.  One of the great things about this store is you can buy almost any beer as a single.  So, if you've never had a particular beer and aren't inclined to buy an entire six-pack or you just want a sampling of a bunch of different beers (like me) this is the place to go.

Hubby and I went nuts . . . him stouts and porters, me IPA's and pale ales . . . we were grabbing bottles and bombers from nearly every shelf as if someone behind us would snatch up all the beer before we got a chance to get ours.  Not that that was likely since we were the only people in the store, at that time.  But, it was all very exciting.

And, although there aren't price tags on most items, the prices were reasonable.  

I'll admit I was a little scared when we started piling our beer selections onto the counter for check-out.  But we walked out with 42 brews  for a fair and reasonable charge.                                                                                    

Anyhoo . . . this is my idea of Black Friday shopping.  Supporting the little guy while obtaining some slammin' good brews!

Friday, November 23, 2012

A visit to Woodstock Inn Brewery

A visit to Woodstock Inn Brewery is never a disappointment.  They were slammin' busy today so everything took a little longer than we're used to but the beer was fresh and good, the food was yummy.

Despite the fact that I've had every beer on tap . . . with the exception of the available seasonable brew . . . I decided to get the sampler so that I could have a taste of most of them.  That's much easier than trying to suck back five pints . . . not that I couldn't but I wasn't looking to get trashed.

I started out with the Cogsman Ale.  The only new-to-me brew in the sampler.  Deep golden in color. Clean, crisp, ale hopped with traditional English hops. A slight fruitiness gives way to hop assertiveness.  5.6% ABV.  It was a lovely color with a nice hoppy aroma.  It has a nice light flavor but a little watery tasting for my liking . . . I like a beer with more punch.  Not my favorite Woodstock offering, but it was good. 

Next was the 4000 Footer IPA. This big beer is made with 4 types of hops including Columbus, Chinook, Amarillo and East Kent Goldings. It has a bready, slightly caramel aroma and a lingering bitterness in the finish. 7.1% ABV.  This is more my style.  Intense hoppy bitterness, bursting with flavor . . . this beer is rockin'!

Then the Pemi Pale Ale . . . the beer that led me into the wonderful world of hoppiness.  I haven't looked back.  Best Pale Ale in the Northeast and second overall in the Country at the United States Beer Tasting Championships. Pale amber in color.   5.7% ABV.  They say this beer is for the hophead.  I agree that it is a nice hoppy brew . . . but the 4000 is way bigger and hoppier.  Pemi is a great pale ale that is exceedingly drinkable . . . yums!

Onward to the White Mountain Weasel Wheat Ale.   Straw  in color with low hop character and bitterness. A light dry finishing beer. A summer favorite on those hot days.  4.13% ABV.  It has a light wheat flavor and plenty of flavor.   The low alcohol content makes it drink-drink-drinkable . . . have a few!

Finally, the Red Rack Ale.  Another of my favorite Woodstock beers. Amber in color with slight caramel sweetness. Medium hop bitterness. Malty up front with a nice hop/ malt balance.  5.5% ABV  Simply a delicious beer . . . a good choice for any beer drinker . . . flavorful, lightly hoppy with a touch of malty sweetness.  Good stuff!

Although they didn't have the Autumn Ale on tap, we did have it on tap at the Red Parka Pub the other night.  This one is one of my VERY favorite beers . . . of all time.  Chestnut in overall color. Medium bodied with apple and cinnamon flavor and aroma.  4.63% ABV.  It's like drinking apple pie beer . . . it is sooooo flippin' good!  

A great beer drinking afternoon . . . and they put jalapeno slices on their hot wings . . . oh yeah!

Heading off to Woodstock Station Inn and Brewery

Hubby and I blew off our families for Thanksgiving . . . yeah, we're like that.  Anyway . . . while visiting our home away from home there is one place we can't not visit.  And that is Woodstock Inn and Station.  What makes this place so special is the outstanding beer they brew on premises . . . and the food isn't too shabby either.

In the video below, you can see yours truly and hubby participating in a brewery tour discussing how their beer is made.  I'm more famouser than Captain Kangaroo . . . well, almost.  Okay not even close . . .

The same day this video was shot they were also doing filming a marketing video for the inn, restaurant and brewery which we can also be seen in . . . pretty cool.  

If you're ever visiting the White Mountains in New Hampshire and you're in the vicinity of Loon Mountain and Woodstock and you love great beer and good food you, too, should make this a must-stop stop.

Guess where we're going today . . . more later!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Rogue XS Russian Imperial Stout

The other day we thoroughly enjoyed Rogue's 2011 XS Russian Imperial Stout.  My hubby picked this one out of our horde . . . er . . . stash of craft beers.  And it was a great choice!

First of all, I'd like to comment on the bottle.  It is quite impressive and a fitting vessel for this outstanding brew.   The bottle is a  ceramic bottle painted charcoal black with a swing top stopper.  There is no way light is penetrating this bottle to skunk this brew!  Awesome!

To add a touch my own personal style, I served this beer in a mason jar . . . I'm nothing if not classy. :/

This extra special stout pours dark as pitch with a creamy mocha head.  The aroma is an abundance of coffee and a hint of booziness; at 11% ABV this isn't unexpected.    

Not for the faint of heart nor for the meek beer drinker. This is a BIG . . . nay . . . ginormous beer.  

The first taste . . . I wasn't sure if I was drinking a beer or a coffee.  The big coffee taste is complemented by dark chocolate notes.  It has a clean finish complemented by a bitter hoppiness.  It had a bubbly mouthfeel  and not as creamy as I expect in an imperial stout.  That's not a bad thing, just different from what I anticipated.  

The flavors intensify as it warms . . . as does the burn that accompanies such a high alcohol beer.  It's all good and just gets better.

I am truly impressed.  Gotta love Rogue!

This beer is perfect for anyone who is a fan of coffee and/or stouts.    Outstanding in it's awesomeness.  I give it two thumbs up plus any extras I can find laying around!


Visit Rogue's website or check them out on Facebook. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cooking with beer - Beer / Cider Brined Pork Chops

These pork chops are flavorful and tender . . . easy to make and simply amazing!  

Beer / Cider Brined Pork Chops

6-8 Pork Loin Chops, Bone-In
2 1/2  Cups Apple Cider (Not Apple Juice)
1 Can Beer (Your Choice)
1/4 C. Kosher Salt
1 Tsp. Allspice Berries, Cracked But Not Crushed
1 Tsp. Whole Peppercorns, Cracked But Not Crushed
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil 
1 Tbsp. Honey
1 Tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tsp. Ground Thyme
Pinch Of Salt And Fresh Ground Pepper 

Use any beer you like.  I used a light lager . . . a darker beer will give it a more intense flavor.

Combine cider, beer, salt and sugar in a large container and stir until most of the salt is dissolved.   I use a large zip lock bag for marinating.

Add in the peppercorns, allspice and pork chops, making sure the brine covers the pork. 

Allow to marinate for at least an hour before grilling.

Make the glaze by combining the thyme with the oil, vinegar, and honey. Stir to combine.

You can use an indoor grill or an outdoor grill, just make sure that you have enough room to cook indirectly on the grill space over medium heat. 

Remove the pork chops from the brine.  Brush the grill with oil and sear each side of the chops for 2-3 minutes. 

Brush the chops with the glaze on one side, turn over onto indirect heat and cook. Glaze the other side, turn over and finish chops until meat is no longer pink.

Print Recipe

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sound Brewery Monks Indiscretion

There are some beers I just have to try . . . usually a trip to the beer store will satisfy a want and sometimes it's pretty hard to get my hands on a bottle.  A west coast beer I've wanted to try for a while is from a small brewery that sells to a limited distribution area . . . luckily Marina Market in Poulsbo, WA is willing to ship beer and other stuff to wherever (for a price).

Monks Indiscretion from Sound Brewery is that beer.  It was recommended by a fellow beer lover and was pretty high on my list of beers to try.

I'm glad I made the effort . . . it was well worth it.

Monks Indiscretion pours a lush golden yellow with a light frothy head.  The beer smells intense and strong . . . there is much promise to the aroma but can the beer deliver? Oh yes . . . yes, it can!  First of all, it is indeed strong with a 10% ABV.  

There are a lot of complex flavors mingling together . . . it tastes tart fruity with yeasty undertones and a bitter hop finish.  It has a boozy quality that makes it almost brandy-ish.

Monks Indiscretion is a sipping beer, something to be savored and enjoyed.  I think it would pair well with simple plate of fruit and cheese or a big honkin' steak.

This is one of those beers I didn't want to have to share, but hubby was sitting right there and it would've been quite rude . . . not to mention detrimental to marital bliss . . .  not to pour him a glass.  

Monks Indiscretion met and exceeded my expectations.  It is truly a remarkable and enjoyable brew . . . really quite amazing.  


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

A view of Deception Pass near the Sound from a visit a few years ago . . . a beautiful place to visit.  Check out Sound Brewery if you're every in the area.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Kona Brewing Wailua Wheat

When I picked up this beer I was looking for something new and something fruity.  Wailua Wheat from Kona Brewing is what we ended up with.

It interested me because I'd never had a beer from this particular brewery before and I'd never had a passion fruit beer.   For that matter, I'd never had a beer brewed in Hawaii.   It was worth a shot.

Wailua Wheat is an American Pale Wheat Ale.  It's perfectly sessionable at 5.4% ABV . . . a good beer for enjoying an afternoon of beer and whatever without getting completely sloshed.

A lot of the beers I drink are unfiltered but if you don't like hazy beer then you'll like this one.  The beer is a clear golden color that smells of wheat, yeast and passion fruit.  It's sweetish but there is a bitter hoppy bite that keeps this beer from being overly sweet.  

I'm not a big fan of the in your face wheatiness of some wheat beers . . . this one is clearly a wheat beer but the flavor blends nicely with the passion fruit and hops so as to not be overpowering.  Wailua Wheat is an interesting and unique tasting beer  . . . I have to say I liked it.  Overall it's pretty good and I would recommend it if you're looking for something different or simply a fan of fruited wheat beer.

Check out Kona Brewing's Website or visit them on Facebook.

I stand corrected  . . . my beloved husband pointed out to me that I had indeed tasted a Kona Beer 431 days prior to this posting about this beer . . .  does a sip constitute actually drinking a beer?