Sunday, March 31, 2013

I broke down and had some beer

So there I was.  Driving down the highway minding my own business.  Then all of a sudden.  Nothing.  Just like that my car ran out of go.  

So, I called hubby who promptly came to the rescue.  I was about an hour away from home so I got to hang out on the side of the road waiting.  And, of course, I had to piddle . . . bad!

My faith (or lack thereof) in humanity was restored when not one single person stopped to see if I needed help.  So much for chivalry, knights on white horses, damsels in distress, and all that fantasy world stuff.  Thanks goodness I have a husband who is cute, smart, attentive, and mechanically inclined.

Anyhoo . . . an hour or so later hubby showed up with a toolbox that weighs something like 200 lbs.  After fiddling around with doohickies, whatsamacallits and thingamajiggers, he determined that the engine wasn't getting a spark and that it was probably a busted timing belt.  My poor car wasn't going anywhere except strapped down to a flatbed tow truck.

So, what's a girl to do?  Drown her sorrows in a big honkin' glass of beer (or three).  Duh!

Newcastle Winter IPA (5.20% ABV) by Caledonian.  I'm not a huge fan of Newcastle Brown Ale but I love IPAs.  So, why not?  Then, I learned that Newcastle is actually owned by Heineken.  Huh, who knew?  

No matter, I got served a long, tall amber beer with a nice little head in a glass loaded with bubbles.  The aroma is caramel malt and sharp hops.  The flavor is a nice balance of sweet malt and bitter hops.  It has a nice dry finish.   The mouthfeel is somewhat light making this an exceptionally drinkable brew.   I like it.  It's flavorful and goes down easy.  Especially, good on a day when a girl (or guy) needs to unwind!  Overall:  Good.

Also on tap I tried a:

Brewnette Amber Lager (5.00% ABV) by Beaver Beer Company.  Huh, this brewery is less than 20 miles away from me and I never heard of it.  Goodness, gracious!  There are so many breweries are popping up in Connecticut I can't seem to keep track!

Served up in a big, ol' pilsner glass, the beer is a fairly clear brown lager with a good two-inch head.  The aroma is caramely with hints of bready yeast.  The taste is somewhat sweet with malt and some toffee flavor, the yeast come through with a nice balance of bittering hops.  It's got nice carbonation, lots of bubbles. Generally speaking, it's a little light on flavor but it's not bad, just nothing special. Overall: Good.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Game of Thrones - Iron Throne

Game of Thrones inspired Iron Throne is a beer based on a television series based on a series of books.  You got all that? 

To be completely honest, I never heard of Game of Thrones - television show, book or otherwise - before the beer.

I bought a bottle because I love Ommegang beer and, let's face it, Game of Thrones is a pretty cool name.  The label is pretty spiffy, too.

Iron Throne (6.5% ABV) pours a hazy liquid gold .  Even with a moderate pour it builds into a big, frothy head.   As big and fluffy as it is, the foam diminishes quickly but clings desperately to the sides of the glass.

The aroma is very yeasty, very bready and sweet caramel malt.   Mmmmm, drooooool. 

The flavor was equally drool-worthy.  The yeasty breadiness in the initial sip is big and wonderful!  Malt washes in behind with a nice caramel sweetness followed by just the right amount of wheat.  The finish is lingering yeast and slight alcohol warming.  

The flavors in Iron Throne build and balance each other remarkably well. This brew gets a vigorous two thumbs up from beer swilling wench.  

Overall - very, very good!


Friday, March 29, 2013


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Four beers in four minutes

I love it when a beer run leads to a beer tasting. This was one of those trips with a bonus waiting for me right inside the door. 

Berkshire Brewing Company was set up with several bottles of their beer chilling in a bucket of ice.  Did I stop to give them a try?  You bet your sweet bippy.

Colin, the BBC representative, was knowledgeable and professional.  he described the different beers as I tasted and we discussed my thoughts and opinions of the various brews. 

Steel Rail Extra Pale Ale (5.3% ABV) Extra Pale it is.  The aroma is very fruity and malty.  Based on the smell, I was looking forward to my first sip.  The flavor?  A huge let-down. The tasted of this beer is empty and featureless.  Bland. It really has almost no flavor at all.  Disappointing.

Lost Sailor India Pale Ale (5.5% ABV) a British style ale.  The aroma is very malty.  The taste is somewhat light. Malt is what comes through first with some hoppiness on the back end and it finishes dry.   This beer is good but not great.  Pretty much a middle of the road IPA.  Overall:  good.

Maibock Lager (6.5% ABV) Now this is more like it.  The aroma is malty and fruity.  The taste is rich and pleasantly sweet; loaded with caramel malt, bready yeast and a whisper of vanilla.  The sweetness is nicely balanced with a touch of bitter hops.   There is a boozy quality, but it is fairly well concealed and doesn't detract.  The mouthfeel was especially pleasant,  it is somewhat heavy and creamy on the palate.  If it's any indication of how much I liked this beer, I bought a bottle.  Overall: Very Good.
Dean's Beans Coffeehouse Porter (6.2% ABV) is a damned good porter!  The aroma is like a fresh cup of coffee.  Yeah, just like that and very enticing.  The flavor met every expectation the smell stimulated.  Loads of roasty coffee flavor with hints of cocoa and vanilla.  Bitter hops balance out the malty sweetness.    The mouthfeel is heavy but the carbonation lightens it up.  I bought two bottles of this brew because I liked it so much.  Overall: Very Good.

Based on this tasting experience, my opinion is that BBC does much better with their heavier, darker beers.  The light ones I sampled were okay, but nothing special.  I look forward trying more of their brews in the future.

Visit Berkshire Brewing's website for info on their other beers and "like" them on Facebook.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Luck of the Irish

Beer is good.  Free beer is great.  It's even better when there's a story behind it.

Thanks to a couple of friends who went to Ireland on vacation who were thoughtful enough to remember my love of beer and who were also awesome enough to bring a couple back for me, I recently got to drink two brews that aren't available for import to the United States. 

That would be a good enough story for me.  But wait!  There’s more!

One of the places they visited was a little town in south of Ireland located on the Dingle Peninsula

As they story goes, they arrived in Dingle with nary an idea of what to do or see.  As they meandered the streets of the quaint town, they spied a sign for the Dingle Brewing Company.  A plan quickly emerged.

They headed in the direction the sign pointed.  Having really no idea of where this place was or what it looked like, they stopped to look around. 

Suddenly, from out of nowhere, a leprechaun appeared.  They quickly snatched up the creature.  Because everyone knows that if a Leprechaun is captured that it will grant wishes in order to get free.

Okay, okay . . . I made that part up.

What really happened was that while they were stopped they were approached by a little old woman who was barely over three feet tall.  She inquired in a thick Irish brogue if they were lost. 

The hapless wanderers explained to her that they were looking for the Dingle Brewery.

She gingerly and with great deliberation extended a crooked finger and pointed to a small building wedged in the crook of the road beyond a farmer’s storehouse.  And, thusly secured her freedom.

She was a Leprechaun, I’m telling you!!

So that's the story of how they obtained Crean's Fresh Irish Lager.

They also mentioned something about a dirty room and banana peels but I didn't ask for them to elaborate.  Frankly, what they do when their alone in the throes of passion is their business.   I honestly, don't want to know!  

Maybe that part happened in Tipperary where they acquired the second beer.  It's a long way to Tipperary, you know.  It's 211 kilometers from Dingle to Tipperary, to be exact.

Anyhoo . . . 

Tom Crean's 18/35 brewed by Dingle Brewing Company was named for the famed explorer of Antarctica.  The 18/35 is in reference to the 18 hour 35 mile solo trek to save the life of his two companions. 

18/35 is an Irish lager (4.2% ABV).  It pours a perfectly clear reddish gold that fairly glows.  With a moderate pour, a small head builds that quickly diminishes.  The aroma is rich with honey and hints of fruit.  The flavor is malty, bready with a touch of citrus.   The mouth feel is light with lots of bubbly effervescence.

18/35 is a very tasting light beer that is refreshing and quite sessionable.

Overall:  Good.

Spiced Apple & Honey Cider (4.5% ABV) brewed by Bulmers pour a clear honey gold with little to no head.  The nose ripe with the aroma of honey and sweet apples.  The flavor is true to the smell.  It tastes like sweet apples drizzled with honey with undertones of orange zest.  It has a very nice bubbly mouth feel that tingles on the palate.  

This hard cider is light and refreshing and exceptionally drinkable.  

Overall: Very Good!

The end to this story was a fun surprise.  While logging these beers on Untappd I received a Luck of the Irish badge.  

The end!

Thank you to my good friends, James and Lindsay, for the beer and the tale.  Thanks for thinking of us!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Two Roads premieres Igor's Dream

Saturday, March 23rd, was a big day for Two Roads Brewery - the premiere of a much anticipated beer. 

Nearly all of Two Roads brews, in some way, pay homage to Stratford.  Their latest release, Igor’s Dream, commemorates Stratford hero Igor Sikorsky and furthermore is a nod to his Russian heritage.

The brewery opened its doors at 9:00 AM.  I arrived a few minutes after that to an already overflowing parking lot and a line of enthusiastic people waiting to get their limited edition bottle of Igor’s Dream.   I got the impression that beer enthusiasts, like myself, were in the minority.  Many of those in line were employees, pilots and military personnel associated with Sikorsky aircraft.

Despite the long line that wound from the front door, through the tasting room, and down to brewery floor, spirits were high as people chatted about working at Sikorsky, aviation and, of course, beer.

There were only 999 bottles of Igor’s Dream available for sale.  With a limit of 3 bottles per person, tickets were being distributed to those in line.  As early as I was the number on my ticket was 515 and sometime before noon all 999 bottles had been sold. Each numbered and dated bottle was signed in person by head brewer Phil Markowski.

Igor Sikorsky Jr. and Nikolai Sikorsky were on hand signing bottles of Igor’s Dream, photographs and other paraphernalia. 

There was a lot of excitement and things were hectic, but I had the opportunity to speak briefly with Two Roads partners Clem Pellani and Brad Hittle. Brad was also kind enough to introduce me to Phil Spalla, Sikorsky Archives Director who had arranged for Igor Sikorsky's sons to be at the event. All were pleasantly surprised by the turnout and the enthusiasm for Igor’s Dream. 

Bottles in hand, I seated myself at the bar in the brewery tasting room to finally drink a glass of this long awaited brew.  

Igor’s Dream is labeled as an “unorthodox Russian imperial stout”.  A Russian Imperial Stout is typically a dark brown bordering on black with a higher than average alcohol content ranging between 6 and 11%.  The flavor profile is most often bitter chocolate, roasted coffee, and dark fruit.   

True to the style, Igor’s Dream incorporates these flavors and is at the high end of the ABV (alcohol by volume) spectrum at 11%.  Besides being bottled in 750ml champagne bottles, what makes Igor’s Dream unorthodox and sets it apart from other Russian Imperial Stouts is that it is aged in rye whiskey barrels; this imparts unique qualities not usually found in a Russian Imperial Stout; making for a distinctive flavor.  The results are outstanding.

Was Igor’s Dream worth the wait?  It was!  The beer was smooth, creamy, delicious and dangerously drinkable. 

You won’t find Igor’s Dream any place that beer is sold.  It is not being distributed for sale elsewhere.  However, if you missed out on getting your bottle of Igor’s Dream, there is still a chance to try it. But you’ll have to hurry; it’s on tap in the brewery's tasting room for a very limited time.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Mission IPA

Mission IPA (6.8% ABV) brewed by Mission Brewery is a good, solid IPA that's perfect for anyone venturing into the realm of IPA's.  

It pours a lovely reddish gold with a bubbly head that settles into a nice glass grabbing froth.

The aroma is has nice resin and citrus characteristics along with hints of malt and bread.

There's nothing too complex going on here.  Pine and citrus hops come to the forefront followed by subtly sweet caramel malt and yeasty remants.  The finish is crisp and lingering with a touch of booziness.  

The mouth feel is clean and light.  Making this a very drinkable beer that would be sessionable if not for the alcohol content.

I like this IPA.  It's not too bitter, it's not too sweet.  There's a nice balance of hops and malt to make for a simply tasty IPA.

Overall, very good.

Visit Mission Brewery's website or "like" them on Facebook.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Cooking with beer - Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage and Sausage

This is real comfort food for me and brings back warm, cozy childhood memories.  

This is very much like the recipe Gramma used to make except I've upped the flavor factor by replacing the water with beer and using Tony Chachere creole spice in place of the salt and pepper.  

Use whatever kind of beer you like.  I think this recipe is especially good with a lager or a brown, but you can experiment with your favorite style.

This makes for yummy leftovers.  Mmmmm . . . good stuff!

Beerific Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage & Sausage

4 Tablespoons Rendered Bacon Fat
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Small Yellow Onion, Chopped
4 Cups Shredded Red Cabbage
2 Granny Smith Apples - Unpeeled, Cored & Sliced Thin
2 Tablespoons Cider Vinegar
1/2 Teaspoon Caraway Seeds
1 To 1-1/2 Pounds German or Polish-Style Smoked Sausages
1 Pound Potatoes, Halved or Quartered
Salt And Fresh-Ground Black Pepper To Taste
1 Bottle Cup Beer

Melt the bacon fat in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sugar and cook, stirring often, until the sugar browns, about 4 minutes. 

Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the onion, and saute it until it is golden, about 5 minutes. Add the cabbage, apples, vinegar, and caraway seeds, and stir to blend.

Place the sausage links and the potatoes on top of the cabbage mixture. Season with salt and pepper and pour the beer over all. 

Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. 

Taste, adjust the seasonings, and serve hot.

Note:  I use raw sugar in place of granulated sugar.  I replace Tony Chachere Creole Seasoning for the salt and pepper.  

Monday, March 18, 2013

Reunion Ale '12

Reunion Ale '12 (8% ABV) is an American Brown Ale.  It is a collaboration between Terrapin Beer and Shmaltz Brewing.  Touted as "a beer for hope".    I've enjoyed beer from both breweries so I don't need to hope it's good.  I'm sure it will be!

I wasn't disappointed.  Yum!

Brewed with cocoa nibs, vanilla and cinnamon, this is a dessert beer if there ever was one.

It pours a deep mahogany with a thick, fluffy off-white head.

The aroma is reminiscent of a cookie; a sweet, melt in your mouth beerific cookie.  Loads of  vanilla, sprinkled with cocoa and spices.  Nom!

The flavor is caramel, vanilla and cocoa with a touch of cinnamon.  The sweetness is balanced nicely with just the right amount of bitter.  There is definite brandy quality to this brew; it's boozy and warming.  The finish is crisp and spicy.

It has medium body/medium carbonation.

Overall, very good!

Slow down, sip, enjoy!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Old Engine Oil

Old Engine Oil  (6.00% ABV) brewed by Harviestoun, a Scottish Black Ale, is aptly named.  Apt in appearance, that is.  Nary a speck of light permeates this dark, dense ale.  It pours with an off-white head that quickly dissipates.

The aroma is as dense as the beer, packed with scents of chocolate, coffee, malt and dark fruit.

The flavor fulfills the expectation given by the smell. This a very flavorful beer;  dark chocolate, roasted coffee, dried fruit, a touch of smoke, and perhaps a touch of dark molasses.  The finish is dry with lingering cocoa and coffee notes.

The mouthfeel is smooth but lighter than I expected.  

This brew is fairly drinkable but I recommend that you take the time to savor it; the flavors intensify as the beer warms.

I can't say that I loved it, but overall it's pretty good.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

El Café Miel

A blend of Patron XO Cafe and Vanilla Bean Mead makes for a smooth, delightful cocktail - as elegant as it is lethal.  

El Café Miel

2 Parts Sap House Meadery Vanilla Bean Mead
1 Part Patron XO Cafe

Combine ingredients in an ice filled cocktail shaker.  Shake well and pour into a chilled cocktail glass.

Serve and enjoy!


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Full Throttle Double IPA

I can think of few things more enjoyable than an evening out with my hubby sharing cold brews and hot wings; except maybe if you thrown a spicy hot oil pizza into the mix.  What's better than that?  A new beer on tap that I've never had the pleasure to sample.  I was doubly excited that it was an IPA; a double IPA.   Suh-weet!

Full Throttle Double IPA by Sebago Brewing Company (8.40% ABV) is exactly what I expect from a double IPA.

The hazy amber ale was served in a standard shaker pint with the wisp of a diminished head.

The aroma is sharp with the tang of citrussy hops and a subtle undercurrent of malt.

The flavor is perfect for the style - lots of bitter hops well balanced by sweet malt.  

The grapefruity hops are big on the front end.  Sweet caramel hops merge to create an explosion of wonderful flavor.  Piney hops make their appearance towards the end, creating a crisp finish.  The alcohol is well concealed and there is no  booziness to speak of.

The mouthfeel is thick with light carbonation making for a heavy beer.  That's not a downer for me; I like it!

This is a pretty drinkable beer considering the high alcohol content.  This is one I could probably get in trouble with and have one too many.

Overall - very good!


Visit Sebago Brewing's website and "like" them on Facebook!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Devil's Food

A concoction that is deep, dark and sinful . . . sinfully delicious!  

Imagine a devil's food cake topped with creamy vanilla frosting.  This cocktail is a combination of  bittersweet dark chocolate stout mixed with rich, sweet vanilla bean mead.  

Devil's Food

2 Ounces Sap House Meadery Vanilla Bean Mead
12 Ounces Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout

In a 16-ounce glass, pour the mead and top off with the stout.  No need to stir.

Simple but delicious.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Blue Moon - new offerings

The other day when I was picking up some brews I spied a promotional kiosk for new Blue Moon products.  I'm not a huge fan of mass produced mega beer  . . . 

but . . . but . . . but . . . 

FREE samples of BEER!!

So, I sampled.  

Blue Moon Valencia Grove Amber (5.9% ABV)  The color was indeed amber.  The aroma as very orangy with a hint of wheat.  The taste is pretty much the same.  It's quite like when you put a sliver of orange into an original Blue Moon only more so - with a touch of wheat.  It was actually pretty good.  Very easy going, smooth and refreshing.  

Proximity  (8.5% ABV)  is a blended beer brewed with the juice of Sauvignon Blanc grapes.  I like beer.  I like wine.  This might be good.  Or it could be very bad.  Proximity is a pale gold with very little head.  The aroma is wine like, grapey.  The flavor is, again, wine-like but with clear wheat beer characteristics.  Interesting and not at all unpleasant.  The mouth feel is much like that of a sparkling wine.  I liked it but didn't love it.  

Impulse  (8.5% ABV)  is a blended beer brewed with Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.  After sampling Proximity I knew pretty much what to expect from a beer/wine combo.    And I knew this one had potential.     It poured red and has a thin pink head.  It smelled wonderful!  Very much like a nice Cabernet Sauvignon with a breath a wheat.  Impulse is dryer, maltier - much more to my liking than Proximity.  But, then, when I drink wine I prefer red.  It has a touch of wheat and some spice, as well.  But the red wine is what lingers on the palate.  The mouth feel is smooth but effervescent.    I like Impulse a lot.  I would definitely buy it.  

Beer Money

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Cooking with Beer - Beerific Corned Beef & Cabbage

It's about that time to cook up a pot of corned beef and cabbage! I grew up eating this traditional St. Patrick's Day boiled dinner.  But it's not really an Irish thing, it's actually an American tradition.  In fact, corned beef and cabbage is rarely eaten at all in Ireland.  Go figure.

My mom made it good but she never added my secret ingredient.  The one that makes my corned beef and cabbage so freaking good. My special ingredient?  You guessed it, beer!  

You can use any beer you like for and the flavor will change somewhat accordingly.  I usually use the cheapest or most plentiful beer I happen to have on hand, usually something like Coors Light or Keystone Light.  If I'm feeling particularly extravagant I'll use a Yuengling Lager or Guinness.  But, like I said, you can use whatever beer you want.

This recipe is super easy, almost no work at all, and is delicious.  What's better than that?

Beerific Corned Beef & Cabbage

4 Medium Potatoes, Peeled And Quartered
2 Carrots, Peeled And Quartered
1 Can/Bottle Beer
3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
1 Bay Leaf
2 Tablespoons Sugar
2 Tablespoons Cider Vinegar
1/2 Teaspoon Pepper
1 (3 Pound) Corned Beef
1 Small Head Cabbage, Cut Into Wedges

Place the potatoes, carrots, garlic, bay leaf, sugar, vinegar, and pepper in a 5-qt. slow cooker.

Top with brisket and cabbage. Pour in beer.

Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours or until meat and vegetables are tender.

Remove bay leaf.  

Slice the corned beef against the grain and serve with vegetables.

Enjoy with your favorite beer!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I love it when a Plan (B) comes together!

Last night hubby and I went to Plan B burger bar primarily because they were tapping a keg of the much anticipated Stone Enjoy By 04/01/13, secondarily for burgers.

We each ordered a beer and placed our burger order. I went with the Enjoy By, because that's why we were there after all, and hubby decided on Copper Hill Kolsch.  

I won't do a review of the Enjoy By.  Suffice to say that I didn't enjoy it.  Please click here if you're interested in reading my full review.  

Copper Hill Kölsch (5.1% ABV) is brewed by Cambridge House, which is a local-to-me brewery.  Copper Hill was served in a standard shaker pint glass.  This lager is a clear straw color with a thin lingering head that laces nicely on the glass.  The aroma is hoppy and somewhat bready.  Sweet malt dominates with a touch of fruitiness and a healthy (but not overbearing) dose of hops.  The finish is mildly bitter.  The mouth feel is medium and smooth.  Overall good and quite drinkable.  

While we were finishing up our first round of brews, the burgers were served and round two was ordered.

I got sliders made with ground duck, topped with brie and dates along with a side of green fries (flash fried green beans).  Oh my goodness, those were some yummy little burgers. 

Hubby got a cream cheese and jelly burger.  Before you cringe, it was a burger topped with a cream/goat cheese mixture, pepper jelly, bacon and greens.  It was delicious!

668 The Neighbor of the Beast (8.5% ABV) by New England Brewing another Connecticut brewery.  The strong Belgian pale ale was served in a chalice. The beer was a hazy gold with a big white head that left nice lacing on the glass. There's plenty of hop character that balances nicely with a sweet maltiness and a touch of wheat.  The alcohol can be felt as well as tasted, but it's please and warm, not overpowering.  Be careful with this one; it goes down easy.  This is a great beer! Try it if you find it.

G'Knight (8.7% ABV) by Oskar Blues Brewery is an imperial red ale and was without a doubt the best beer of the night.  This dense amber beer was served in chalice.  It came to the table with a decent head and left behind exceptional lacing on the glass.  G'Knight has a big aroma and big flavor.  Lots of citrus hops and roasty malt along with a nice bready yeastiness.  Despite the high alcohol, this is a smooth beer that goes down too easy.  Overall, excellent.

For dessert, we decided to split a beer and cinnamon apple pie a la mode. The beer was good and the pie was rockin'!

River Ale (7% ABV) by Berkshire Brewing Company is an American Pale Wheat Ale.  Served in a shaker pint, this beer was dark and dense with a good head. The aroma is subtle but malty.  The flavor was a bit surprising; in a good way.  It was wheaty, of course, with spicy clove and banana undertones.  This is complimented by caramel malt, a bready yeastiness and a nice touch of bitter hops.  This is a very well balance and flavorful beer.  Overall, good.

If you haven't been to a Plan B, I highly recommend it!  They have delicious burgers, an extensive bourbon menu and ever rotating beer taps.  Good stuff!