Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cooking with Beer - Beer and Paprika Beef Stew

This stew was inspired by meat leftover from fondue and a bottle of beer.  I'm easily inspired . . . hehe.  It made a fantastic stew . . . rich and delicious.  Served up with some warm bread . . . also leftover from fondue.  Yum!

The beer you choose is up to you but whatever you select will change the flavor of the stew.  I used a Yuengling Lager and it was so good!

Beer and Paprika Beef Stew 

1 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 Pound Stew Meat, 1-inch Pieces
1/2 Medium Onion, Diced
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Beer, 12 Ounces
1 Can Beef Gravy 
1 Cup Water
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
1 Teaspoon Paprika
1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 1/2 Cups Baby Carrots
8 - 10 Baby New Potatoes, Halved

Heat oil and butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Brown meat the remove from pot and set aside on a plate when brown. 

Add diced onions to the pot. Stir and cook for two or three minutes until softened, then add garlic for another minute. 

Pour in beer and beef stock, then add Worcestershire, tomato paste, paprika, salt, pepper. 

Add beef back into the pot. Stir to combine. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

The gravy will thicken as it cooks.  If  it gets too thick, add additional water as needed. (I didn't have to add any additional water)

Add carrots and potatoes, then cover and cook for an additional 30 minutes. 

Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Serve in bowls along with warm crusty French bread and a cold beer. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Blue Moon Ginger Beer

I'm pretty much a purist when it comes to drinking beer . . . i.e. I like to let the beer stand on it's own.  But this is a delicious, refreshing beer cocktail and one I would make again.

Blue Moon Ginger Beer
(makes two cocktails)

2 Ounces Ginger Liqueur
2 Ounces Vanilla Liqueur
1 (12-ounce) Can Club Soda, Chilled
1  Bottle Blue Moon, Chilled

Combine the liqueurs in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake to chill then mix with club soda, stir gently to combine.

Fill a chilled pint glass halfway with the club soda mixture. 

Combine half the club soda mixture with half the bottle of Blue Moon.  Stir gently.

Serve immediately.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Genghis Pecan

When I think Clown Shoes Beer I think . . . good beer, fun labels, creative concepts . . . not necessarily in that order.

When I spied a bottle of Genghis Pecan pecan pie porter I couldn't deny myself a bottle.  The label depicts Genghis Khan chucking pecan pies at a rampaging horde of vicious turkeys.  That in itself was worth snagging the bomber for but that coupled with an intriguing sounding beer well it just had to be winner!  Didn't it?  

Did I mention the attacking turkeys on the label are wearing clown shoes?  No?  Well, that just goes without saying, really.

This beer didn't remain in my inventory very long . . . maybe a few hours . . . because I really wanted to try it.  It sounds so damned good!

When I busted into the bottle all I could smell was nutty pecan, a delicious drinkable alcoholic pecan pie kind of smell. This boded well for what was to come.  

Genghis Pecan (7.0 % ABV) pours a rich reddish brown with a butter colored froth that hugs the glass creating layer after layer of lacing.

When I took my first sip I was surprised that it was less nutty than I expected.  The pecan was actually fairly subtle, considering.  There was plenty to taste, nonetheless.  

Don't get me wrong there was a certain nuttiness along with loads of malty caramel combined with dark chocolate and coffee.  All good things to be found in a good rich porter.  The mouth feel is smooth and creamy, much like a milk stout, and quite nice.

I like this beer a lot.  It was sweet without being cloying and the flavors were well balanced.  Clown Shoes did good!  Grab a bottle, you won't be disappointed.

Visit Clown Shoes' website or check them out on Facebook.

Smoked Porter

Smoked Porter brewed by Alaska Brewing Company is a beer that I can't get at my local beer store but I got this as a gift.

This porter is a limited edition bottle aged beer and is know to be one of the first rauchbiers brewed in the U.S.  It is released in small quantities each November so if you can get your hands on a bottle then grab it!

I was able to get a 2011 "vintage" bottle.  It pours black as black with a thick but quickly dissipating head and wafts a big smoky aroma.

I'm not a big fan of smoked beer but this one was different.  It had, of course, a smokey (mesquite?) flavor but it didn't overpower other taste aspects . . . dark chocolate, a touch of caramel, coffee and nuts.

It has a full, creamy mouthfeel that I loved.  It goes down smooth and easy . . . interesting in a dark rich beer . . . with nice bite of bitterness at the end.

Drink it slow and savor this beer.  The flavors and aroma enhance and are accentuated as the beer warms in the glass.

Overall, I liked this beer a lot . . . for it's uniqueness as much for its deliciousness.  

I'm hoping to snag a bottle of the 2012 to see how it compares.

6.5% ABV

Visit Alaska Brewing's website for more information about their beer or check them out on Facebook!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christoffel Bier

I picked this beer up on a whim while browsing my beer store . . . primarily because it is double hopped and I like hoppy beer.  For me, that's as good enough a reason as any for me to buy a beer!

Christoffel Bier is imported from the Netherlands and is an archtypical German style beer . . . bottom fermented, unfiltered and unpasteurized.  As Sint Christeffel Brewery says it's "beer as a pilsner was meant to be."

I popped open the gasket on the swing top anticipating the zippy aroma of hops but that didn't happen.  It was more of a deep, rich grainy smell which kind of surprised me.

It's a pilsner unlike what I generally think of when a pilsner comes to mind . . . which is pale and clear.  It pours a cloudy golden blond with lots of sediment towards the end . . . mmmm, that's where all the good stuff!  Gotta love an unfiltered beer!  

The taste?  Again, not what I have typically experience in a pilsner.  As hubby says, this is old school European style beer.  It has a big taste but not BIG IPA like I was expecting from a double hopped beer.  It is rich, bready, sweet . . . almost chewy.  It finishes surprisingly clean with just a touch of bitterness in the end.

The flavor brought me back to a long ago summer that I spent in Sweden touring the countryside and getting happy on European beer.

Quite good but, yeah, not at all what I was expecting but then again I was not at all disappointed.  Christoffel Bier wasn't what I thought it would be but it was damn good beer.  

If you're looking for a traditional German style pilsner . . . this is it . . . go for it.  You're in for a delicious beer drinking experience.

6% ABV

Visit Sint Christoffel's website for more information on the brewery and their other beers.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Beer Haul . . . not too shabby!

Two Roads Brewery Doubletap

In all my excitement with blogging about the opening of Two Roads Brewery I was remiss in doing a review of the two new beers I tried while I was there.

When I had my sneak peek of the brewery prior to them opening their doors to the public I had the opportunity to try their Holiday Ale, Road 2 Ruin and Honeyspot Road.  All of which were outstanding brews!

When I was at the opening I got to try two new beers . . . 

Worker's Comp Saison is a very sessionable 4.8% ABV.  It is murky golden color with a fluffy head and a hearty wheat aroma.   Worker's Comp is a very wheaty beer that is lightly fruity and a little hoppy . . . making for a delicious, well-balance brew.  If you're a fan of wheat beer then this one is definitely for you!  Light and refreshing . . . very good!

The saison was good and all that but . . . 

Ol' Factory Pils was the star for me.  A clear golden colored beer with a thick head and a mouth-watering hoppy aroma.  A very drinkable and sessionable 5.0% ABV, Ol' Factory is a surprisingly hoppy pilsner.  It's not as hoppy as an IPA.  It is smooth, crisp and has just the right amount of bite.   Oh . . . and lacing?  It's got that! This is one of those beers I could sit around and drink all day . . . and enjoy every single sip.  Delish!!

However, I must admit that Honeyspot Road white IPA remains my favorite of all their beers . . . so far.

For more information about Two Roads Brewery visit their website or check them out on Facebook!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Two Roads Brewery opens quietly

Since I had my sneak peek at Two Roads Brewery a couple weeks ago, I have been waiting with happy anticipation for them to open their doors to the public and a chance to try more of their brews.

My opportunity came on December 18th, when they had a “soft” opening in order to work out the kinks in the tap lines, so to speak. Other than minor technical difficulties and a few foamy pours, I think they’re off to a great start.

Every stool at the bar in the tasting room was occupied with enthusiast beer lovers. Others roamed about taking in the view from the floor to ceiling windows overlooking the brewery.

On tap were Ol’ Factory Pils, Honeyspot Road White IPA, Worker’s Comp Saison, Road 2 Ruin Double IPA and Holiday Ale.  With the exception of the Holiday Ale, all the beer currently on tap will be available in bottles and available where beer is sold.  

I’ve tried all of the beers currently on tap but I’m looking forward to future brews that are already in various stages of the brewing process; a rye imperial stout and a double bock.

Two Roads Brewery is a great thing for Stratford.  Besides drawing new business and increasing revenue for the town, they took a defunct factory and transformed it into a state of the art brewery all the while retaining and incorporating much of the original woodwork and other aspects of the unique environment.  Two Roads is creating a quality product that is made with care.  In return, this draws positive attention to our historic small New England community.

Two Roads is now open to the public every day except Monday. Tuesday through Thursday, 3 to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.  There will be snacks for sale in the tasting room and there will be food trucks parked out front on Fridays and Saturdays offering more substantial food stuff. Tours will be available Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Goose Island Bourbon County Stout

Goose Island . . . I don't want to be a fan, I really don't.   A small craft brewery bought by macro-beer giant Anheuser-Busch is a turn off.  The big guys making a play to push out the little guys by posing as craft brewers and taking away business from the true artisans.  But I must admit I like some of their beers.

In other words, it wouldn't be my first choice when selecting a beer.  That opinion aside . . . 

Hubby asked me to pick up some Goose Island Bourbon County stout because he likes stout beers and he'd heard good things about the Bourbon County brand.  The Bourbon County beers are aged in bourbon barrels.

That being said, he's not a big bourbon lover so I wasn't so sure he'd like this beer.  I, however, get the occasional hankerin' for a good bourbon so that was a plus in my book.

I grabbed a four pack of 12-ounce 2012 Bourbon County bottles.  

I poured a bottle into a snifter style glass.  It pours black as the darkest night with little to no head.  Based solely on the aroma, there is no doubt that this is a bourbon barrel aged beer.  The aroma of bourbon is clear and intense.

The first sip . . . WOW!  BOURBON!  Yeah, there's nothing subtle about this beer.  It is strong and powerfully flavored.  Coffee, dark chocolate and dark chocolate flavors all come through but in the end the bourbon is all encompassing.  And there is a definite alcohol burn.  The mouth feel is thin with very little carbonation.

This is a seriously big beer . . . if you are not a fan of bourbon, you'll want to skip this one.  At 15% ABV this is a sip and a single bottle should probably be shared.

Hubby and I are both big beer drinkers . . . big meaning we drink a lot of beer AND we like big beers . . . and neither one of us could finish a full bottle.  That's saying something, I assure you.

Overall, this is a great beer for a bourbon lover.  It was tasty but too overpowering for my liking.  I like to taste beer in my beer . . . maybe with a finger or two of good bourbon on the side.

Visit the Goose Island website for more information on this or their other offerings.  Be sure to check out their Facebook page, as well.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Dogfish Head Ta Henket

It’s no secret that I’m a HUGE fan of Dogfish Head beer.  I haven’t met one their brews I haven’t liked. 

So, when I saw Ta Henket in the cooler of my beer store of course I grabbed it.  I was actually drawn to the intriguing label and then when I saw what it was I grabbed it.

This beer is one of Dogfish Head’s ancient ales and I must say I was not only impressed but very much smitten with this interestingly yummy beer.

According to Dogfish Head the ingredients and traditions for this recipe were pulled from Egyptian hieroglyphics.  In fact, the native Egyptian yeast was acquired by trapping the strains in petri dishes set out in Cairo.  That’s a lot of effort and I, for one, appreciate it!

Ta Henket pours a rich gold with a thick root-beerish head.  When I took a whiff, my first impression was a distinctly chili like aroma.  I’m guessing this is the za’atar . . . a middle-eastern spice. 

The taste is like no other beer I’ve ever experienced . . . and it is an experience.  It is savory . . . almost meaty . . . tasting.  Again chili pops into my mind.   You may be thinking . . . ew.  But this beer is most assuredly not ew!  It’s is amazing. 

What surprises me “knowing now what I didn’t know then” about the ingredients is that I didn’t detect any sweetness or fruitiness; I would expect to get that from the doum fruit (a sort of, kind of date-like fruit), chamomile and the emmer Farro’ (wheat).  But I didn’t taste anything like that.

This beer was flavorful and smooth with nary a trace of bitterness.  Simply put, Ta Henket is a very out of the ordinary and remarkable beer. 

If you’re looking for something different . . . this is it!


Visit Dogfish Head at their website  or on Facebook 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Saison Diego

Green Flash is a new-to-me brewery, so when I saw bottles of their beer in my beer store I picked up a bomber to give it a go.  I went with Saison Diego which is a saison / Belgian summer farm ale . . . a far cry from my beloved IPA's, I know, but sometimes you need something a little mellow.

Saison Diego is unfiltered so it pours a cloudy golden color topped off with a huge fluffy white head.

It's a light, refreshing beer clocking in at a very sessionable 4.2% ABV.  Saison Deigo has hints of orange and ginger . . . subtle but flavorful.

The mouth feel effervescent and goes down easy.  

If you're looking for something to cool you down on a hot day, this is one you might want to try.  

Overall, I'd say it's good but not remarkable.   

For more info on Green Flash Brewing visit their website or check them out on Facebook!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Beer Run . . . oh my

Hoptimum by Sierra Nevada

Hoptimum by Sierra Nevada . . . what's in a name?  A whole heck of a lot.  The label says an awful lot, too!

This beer is seriously hopped. It's is dry hopped as well as cold hopped to give a ginormous hop taste with out mouth puckering bitterness.  I likey!

Hoptimum pours a rich amber with a fluffy off white head that clings to the sides of the glass.  The aroma is a promise of what is to come . . . loads of hops and bitter citrus.  It's got a great mouth feel . . . a bit of carbonation and medium body.

Hoptimum's flavors virtually explode in you mouth . . . grapefruit, earthy pine, malt and a touch of fruity sweetness.   There are a lot of intense flavors vying for control of your taste buds.

Hoptimum has many of the qualities I appreciate in a big IPA . . . bitter hops balance with just enough sweetness.  It gets the salivary glands working, begging for another sip and another and then another.

This isn't a beer I could drink all night long.  I think the impressive flavors would begin to lose their impact as you lose yourself in the serious buzz your going to catch.

Hoptimum will knock you on your butt. . . the hops and the 10.4% ABV will do that to you for sure.

This is a really good beer and a yummy IPA . . . worthy of it's name.

I highly recommend Hoptimum for the hophead . . . novices tread lightly.

For more information about Sierra Nevada and their beer visit their website or check them out on Facebook.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Morimoto Black Obi Soba Ale

Rogue beers rock . . . but Morimoto Black Obi Soba Ale is especially rockin'!

I bought the beer with no knowledge of what I was buying or expectation of what the beer was like.  I bought it pretty much because I liked the label . . . and Rogue beer, of course.

Morimoto has been winning awards every year since 2005, seven of which were gold medals in the World Beer Championships.  Impressive, to say the least.  I would tend to agree, this brew definitely deserves those accolades.

The aroma of this beer is a mouth watering teaser for the flavors to come . . . coffee, caramel and malt.  It pours a deep mahogany with a thick hazelnut colored head.  

The first sip vindicated my olfactory expectations.  It's  got loads of rich malty flavor that converges with the coffee and caramel followed by a bit of nuttiness.    There are also hints of smoke and spice.  

The sweetness of the malt is well balance by hoppy bitterness that doesn't overpower but blends and compliments.  This ale is nicely effervescent and it goes down smooth and easy.

There's a lot going on in this beer but everything works well together.   Morimoto Black Obi Soba Ale makes for a satisfying, tasty beer drinking experience.  Mmm, awesomeness!

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

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The malt liquor with the imported taste

Haffenreffer was usually was the go to beverage in my younger years . . . like when I was in high school and it was the only thing us whippersnappers could score . . . to get sh!tfaced.  In those days, we didn’t think we were drunk enough until we could no longer feel our teeth.  It’s not easy getting to that point without spewing Haffenreffer from every orifice but we seemed to be able to achieve that goal more often then I’d like to remember . . . well maybe I don’t actually remember the experience too well.

So now that I’m older and more experienced, I tend to opt for more refined beverages.  I also have a better sense of drinking in moderation  . . . drinking for pleasure not for getting ‘faced.

So why, I’m sure you're asking yourself, am I writing about Haffenreffer and, worse yet, how I could actually bring myself to drink it again?  You can blame my beloved spouse who happened upon an article about Haffenreffer and suggested that it might make an interesting blogpost. And, I was kind of curious, too.  What would the drink of my delinquent youth taste like now that I'm all sophistimacated?

The question, then, is this . . . are you interested?

If so, read on . . . 

Haffenreffer Private Stock is labeled as a malt liquor with an imported taste.  I can’t tell you what “imported” is supposed to taste like and I can't imagine whose keeping a private stash of this stuff but I can explain what malt liquor is.

All traditional malt liquor is beer but not all beer is malt liquor.  (Traditional malt liquor as opposed to something like Mike's Hard Lemonade, which is labeled as malt liquor.)

Malt liquor is brewed using bottom fermenting yeast . . . which means the yeast sinks to the bottom of the tank and feeds off of the malted barley and whatever adjuncts like rice, corn, and sugar are used.   Malt liquor tends to be sweeter and less bitter . . .  sweeter because those adjuncts are always added, less bitter because little to no hops are used.   Because of the ingredients, malt liquor tends to be a low quality brew with a high alcohol content.  So the end product is a cheap means to an intoxicating end . . . probably a hang over, too.

Cheap? A resounding yes!  This is probably the major contributing factor as to why we were drinking it as kids.  I think I paid $3.00 for a 40 ouncer of the green bottled, skunky smelling, watered down tasting stuff . . . but I drank it and did manage to catch a buzz.  Like I said, cheap and intoxicating.

It tasted like the same old crap but I did notice a difference . . . a big one . . . from the Haffenreffer of my youth.  In the olden days, there used to be puzzle under the cap . . . screw cap  . . . that we would try to solve after we swilled the bottles contents.  Nowadays?  No puzzle . . . poop.

Now, here’s the interesting . . . if not amusing . . . part of this experiment.  Our friends don't seem to pay much attention to what we drink.  I could pop open a $21 craft brew and no one bats an eye.  But when I bust open some cheap ass beer everyone’s ears perk up and the comments start flying.

Friday, December 7, 2012

What were they thinking?

The other night I was out with hubby for our weekly date night.  We're kicked back enjoying a pitcher of cold beer poured into icy cold mugs and nibbling hot wings.

I happened to glance at one of the big screen TVs and a commercial for Miller Light caught my attention.  I'm not a fan of Miller beer . . . I'll drink crap beer but Miller is really crappy beer.

The commercial showed a series of people punching holes into the the top of the cans.  And I was like . . . what the f#*%??

I know why they were doing it . . . the intent was obviously to shotgun the beer.  They big question is why Miller would be promoting such activity.

For the uninformed, shotgunning is punching a hole in the top of a beer can to relieve a bottleneck of air in the can allowing it to enter through the puncture so the beer exits the mouth of the can faster . . .basically,  to allow the drinker to slam down a beer wicked fast.  The point is to get drunk as fast as possible   So, the question again . . . why is Miller promoting this?

The can features an "innovative" soft spot on the top of the can . . . much like you'd find on a rotten piece of fruit . . . to allow you to easily punch an auxillary orifice in the can . . . much like a worm tunneling  to get to the juicy innards.  

“Miller Lite is giving beer lovers an even more enjoyable drinking experience with the breakthrough Punch Top Can"

More enjoyable how?  So it goes down so fast they don't have to taste the wretched beer?  Maybe.

"On our testing, consumers told us they prefer the punch-top can 3-to-1 over the standard beer can because it's more like drinking from a pilsner glass." 

Okay, that's great.  The whole thing is gross on more than one level.  

First, in their commercial they are showing people punching through the soft spot with all manner of filthy,  germ-ridden objects . . . like there's no chance of cross-contamination.  They even encourage the particularly clever to try to use a dollar bill . . . how many nasty, sweaty, dirty hands that bill has passed through?  Just askin'.

Second, picture all of those cans stacked in a warehouse awaiting distribution . . . imagine a horde of rodents scampering around  defiling the tops of those cans . . .   envision putting that can to your lips.  Just sayin'.  

Skip the weird can with the creepy soft spot. If you want to chug a beer, pour into a cup and chug-a-lug.