Monday, September 30, 2013


Not every beer wows me. Not every ten or even every twenty beers wow me.  This beer - Pumking - it wowed me.

This may be the best pumpkin/spiced beer I've ever had. And that's saying something! I don't necessarily like pumpkin beer.

I've had no fewer than six different pumpkin beers this season, so far. And many in previous years. I would go so far as to say this is the king of beers. The PUMking of beers!

Pumking (8.60% ABV) brewed by Southern Tier is an imperial pumpkin ale.

It pours a hazy golden copper with what appears to be a subdued inner glow. The head is thin and quickly dissipates into a wisp of tiny swirly bubbles.

The aroma is like fresh pumpkin pie. Just like that, the spices are warm and inviting.

The flavor is remarkable. The pumpkin is a solid foundation of this brew, of course. But the spices are uniquely distinct and stand apart so that you can taste many of them individually - cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, allspice. The vanilla and caramel really come forward and build on the already malty sweetness yet it is not a cloying beer. There is just enough bitterness from the hops to mellow out and balance the lush sugars. Don't be fooled, this is a strong ale and it is bold. The alcohol is well hidden, although there is a pleasant tingle left on the tongue. The spices linger in the finish.

The mouth feel is full and rich with just amount of carbonation to lighten it up.

Pumking is far better than I could ever have anticipated.  This brew is too smooth and too drinkable.  Dangerously good. One of the best pumpkin ales out there! Get some!

Overall: excellent

Friday, September 27, 2013

Crabbie's Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer

There's a little Caribbean take-out place I like to go to. I occasional will pick up dinner from there. I love me some good spicy jerk chicken and fried plantains!

When I stop at the Kingston Kafe, I make sure to grab a bottle of ginger beer for hubby.  He loves that stuff! Me? Not so much.

However, when I spied a bottle of alcoholic ginger beer I couldn't resist giving it a try. So a snagged a bottle of Crabbie's Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer.

Admittedly it's not beer, it's actually a malt liquor. But it's something to try, right?

(I can see all the beer snobs cringing right about now)

Crabbie's (4.8% ABV) says to serve over ice with a slice (of lemon or lime).

I poured it over a tall pilsner style glass filled with ice. It pours a clear, pale ginger color with a rapidly diminishing head. I followed the instructions and served it with a slice of lemon. It looks very much like a carbonated iced tea.

The aroma was very gingery, as one might expect.

The taste? Just like ginger beer . . . with alcohol. Shocking! I know. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  

I'm not a fan. But, again, I don't overly like ginger beer so that's to be expected.  Hubby liked it. Although, he liked it better without the slice.

Well, it is what it is.

Overal: meh

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Bonfire Rye

Date night is the best night of the week; second only to Friday. Hubby and I have been going out for hot wings and cold beer almost every Wednesday since we first met. Let me tell you, that's a lot of wings and beer, but who's complaining? Certainly, not me!

The only thing that makes date night even more specialer is when our favorite wings and beer place has a new craft beer on tap. That's like the cherry on top of the whipped cream on top of the ice cream that's surrounded by bananas and covered in hot fudge and sprinkled with walnuts. Yep, it's that good!

This week I spied a new brew on tap from a brewer who has yet to disappoint me. In my experience, Sebago beer is consistent and delicious.

Bonfire Rye (5.70% ABV) is a small batch, autumn seasonal brew.

It is a lovely warm auburn brown with a floof of white foam the leaves behind wispy ropes of lacing on the glass.

The aroma is super! Super as in amazing. Super as in enormous. The nose is a big hit of piney hops. Drool worthy if ever a beer smell was.

The taste is initially resinous hops followed by a rush of rye. Bready, spicy, malty flavors all combine to make for a wonderfully tasty beer. The hops and malt balance and compliment each other and the rye is the finishing touch.  The finish is crisp, dry and gently bitter.

The mouth feel is medium with enough carbonation to tingle.

This beer goes down way too smooth and easy. I can totally imagine enjoying this huddled up  around a campfire on a brisk fall evening. Yum.

Overall: very good

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Cooking with Beer - Brown Ale Chili Sauce

I ask you . . . what goes better with hot dogs than beer? It's like mom and apple pie, valentines and chocolate, Sodom and Gomorrah.  All right. Maybe not the last one. But you get my drift.

Beer, hotdogs. Hotdogs, beer. Mmmmmmm.

This recipe is a spicy meat sauce for hot dogs made with beer. It's hugely flavorful.  It is based on the famous sauce served at Capitol Lunch, a local-to-me eatery that is known for it's hot dogs and it's meat sauce.

I made this recipe with Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale by Sierra Nevada. The spices in the beer compliment the ingredients in the sauce quite nicely. But you can use whatever beer you like; experiment and make it your own.

This recipe is great if you prepare it a day ahead of time to allow the flavors to fully combine and mesh.

Brown Ale Chili Sauce

1 1/2 Lbs 85% Lean Ground Beef
1 12-Oz Bottle Brown Ale
1 Medium Red Onion, Chopped
2 Medium Tomatoes, Chopped
6 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tbsp Allspice
1 Tbsp Hot Mexican Chili Powder
2 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tbsp Hot Paprika
1 Tbsp Salt
1 Tbsp Garlic Powder

In a large stock pot, cook beef, tomatoes and onion in 1/4 cup of beer until beef is browned.

Place meat mixture in a blender and pulse a couple times to finely chopped. Don't process too long because you don't want to puree the meat.

Add the rest of the beer and the remaining ingredients to the pot and bring to a boil.

Return the meat to the pot and simmer for at least 2 hours. Stir occasionally.

Serve over your favorite hot dog. I like to wrap the dog in cheese before I put the sauce on.  YUM!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Lefty's Pale Ale

Lefty's Brewery is a small steam powered seven barrel brewery in Greenfield, Massachusetts.  It is co-owned by a pair of south paws (i.e. lefties).  

Although I haven't gotten the chance to visit the brewery. I did the next best thing and stopped by a liquor store that is local to the brewery - Ryan and Casey - that stocks their beer and picked up a few bottles.

One of the brews I acquired was an unfiltered American pale ale brewed with Cascade hops "from start to finish".

Lefty's Pale Ale (6.00% ABV) pours a hazy honey gold with a tiny head that diminishes to a swirl of fine foam.

The aroma is crisp and citrussy. Mouthwatering.

The taste is bright and fresh.  Loads of citrussy hops give a burst of wonderful lemony flavor. A nice malty backbone provides a good counter balance so that the beer is mildly bitter and gently sweet.  The finish is crisp with lingering hoppy goodness.

The mouthfeel is somewhere between light and medium.

Lefty's Pale Ale is a delicous, smooth drinking beer. Great for any time for cool refreshment. This is a good beer!

Overall: very good

Monday, September 23, 2013

Sometimes Plan B isn't always the best plan

I'm a big fan of Plan B.  They have yummy food, a great beer selection, and good service. I've never been disappointed in any of these things. That is, until my visit tonight.

The services was great as usual. Our server, Sam, was knowledgeable, attentive, and put up with all of our nonsense with good humor and smile.

The food was amazing. I had the special burger for the week. I got the Southern Bell Burger - a beef burger topped with candied yams, Kentucky style fried chicken, wilted baby spinach and maple sausage gravy - it was fantastic.

Even though they were out of the one beer I really wanted (Lagunitas Fusion 17), the beer selection was good. I had a Dogfish Head Theobroma and hubby had Dark Seas by Mission Brewery.

What was disappointing is that Plan B in Milford seems to have taken a cue from their competitor down the road - Prime 16 - and started serving their beers in similar smaller sized glasses.  I thought the point of competition was to outclass your rival and not sink to their level.

I understand that both of the beers we got are both high in alcohol - 9% and 9.8% ABV respectively - so I wouldn't expect to be served a full pint of either. However, I've ordered similar beers during previous visits to Plan B and I have never received such a small quantity. I was a little taken aback and more than a little dissatisfied.

Cases in point . . .

During American Craft Beer Week I ordered a glass of Bigfoot (9.6% ABV) by Sierra Nevada.  It was served full to the brim in a stemmed chalice, as opposed to the tiny brandy snifter this evening's beers were poured into. (see post here)

Another visit, 668 The Neighbor of the Beast (8.5% ABV) by New England Brewing and G'Knight (8.7% ABV) by Oskar Blues Brewery. Again, served in a stemmed chalice. (see post here)

And then before that I enjoyed a Double Stout Black Ale (8.8% ABV) by Green Flash Brewing. Again, served in a stemmed chalice. (see post here)

During bacon week we didn't get any particularly "big" beers (see post here) but the visit before that I shared a He'Brew Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A. on Rye (10% ABV) by Shmaltz. That one was served in a shaker pint. Me thinks someone used the wrong glass in this instance.  (see post here)

See my point?

When Sam asked how everything was, first I told her how much I enjoyed the food and how awesome she was.  Then I explained my disappointment in the beer serving size.  She explained that the glass size is determined by factors such as alcohol content, style and commonness.

I'm not new to the beer scene.  I know that. I get that. Still, I was feeling a little ripped off.

I'd like to think that whoever was pouring the beer simply selected the incorrect glass. That's a distinct possibility, but somehow I suspect poor decision making in the change of policy.  Which I don't get. Consistent quality and customer satisfaction are paramount.

The point is, I frequent Plan B fairly regularly. And, frankly, I go there for the beer. I don't go to their competitor - who also happens to have an excellent selection of beer - due to the fact that I don't feel like I'm getting what I'm paying for. I got a similar feeling tonight and I didn't leave happy.

For the record, I don't like writing bad reviews but I want to be honest and share my experiences openly.

In response to this blog post, I received a message from the marketing manager of Plan B.  

I am happy to report that the beer we received was actually served in the incorrect glass. It should have, in fact, been served in goblets as in all our previous visits.  She did, however, indicate that beers with very high alcohol content is served in the smaller snifter glass.

I appreciate the response and feel so much better about the whole situation. Sometimes Plan B is the best plan, after all.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Ein, Zwei, Drei! Ok2berfest!

I had a rockin' good time at Two Roads' first Ok2berfest. There was music, food and beer - lots of beer. There were männer in lederhosen, frauen in dirndl and others in facsimiles thereof.

It wasn't hard to decide where to start, of course. The first thing I did when I got there was a grab a beer.  And then it was off to grab a pulled pork sandwich made with the happy pigs who fed off the spent grains from the brewery.  That was some mighty fine pork! There were loads of other food vendors, but there's only so much food you can eat when there's so much beer to drink!

The head brewer, Phil Markowski, brewed up two beers for the festival - Ein and Zwei.

I got the opportunity to speak briefly with Phil to congratulate him on making some mighty fine brews. I also chatted with Two Roads partners, Clem Pellani and Brad Hittle, to compliment them on the success of the festival.

In fact, I was in the middle of a conversation Brad when he asked which beer I was drinking. When I said I was drinking a Drei he was like, "Wait! What?" I don't think I got through the whole explanation before he turned tail and took off to get himself one of these marvelous concoctions.  Yeah, it was nice talking to you Brad! Tee hee.

It's all good. It's all about the beer. I understand these things.

I also took the time to talk to a several of the brewery staffers and a few of the festival goers to get their opinions of the Ok2berfest offerings. It was pretty much an even split between the two beers. It was actually one of the beertenders who clued me into the Drei. I like that guy!

Ok2ber fest was super fun. What did I think of the beer?

Ein (5.8% ABV) is a traditional Marzen/Oktoberfest style beer.

The color is a clear coppery amber with a bright white fluffy head that leaves behind nice clingy lace.

It has a classic beer aroma; roasty and malty. This what I think of when I think about what a beer smells like.

The taste is, again, what a beer should taste like.  Loads of malt with just enough bitterness to offset the sweetness with a crisp finish.

It has a nice mediumish mouth feel with lots of carbonation.  Smooth drinking and über quaffable.

Overall: very good

Zwei (5% ABV?) is a golden lager of Phil's own invention. It is a barely hazy golden color with a full white head and leaves loose lacing behind.

The aroma is bright and hoppy with and undercurrent of malt.

The taste is big on citrus hops, almost like a pale ale, with pale malts. This is a clean, crisp brew that finishes dry with lingering bitterness.

The mouthfeel is light to medium with nice effervescence.  This is an easy drinking beer.

Overall: very good.

Drei wasn't on tap per se.  If you asked for a Drei, like I did, then you'd have gotten a stein mixed with half Ein and half Zwei. 

The two mixed together ended up being a slightly hazy amber gold brew. The aroma was malty with citrussy hops.  The taste is an a good balance between the two beers.  Not as sweet and malty as Ein and not as bitter and dry as as Zwei. Still Oktoberfesty and impressively tasty. NOM!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Flip Flops and the Blue mountains

I know this is a blog about beer, not people. And, typically I would be disinclined to stray away from the topic of the malty, hoppy goodness that is the nectar of life. However, there is one person who is so singularly fascinating that I would be utterly remiss in not sharing him with you and the world.

His name is Kyle; he is my number one fan - think Misery -, his passion is beer.

He and I are so remarkably in-tune when it comes to our tastes in beer it borders on supranormal. Actually, there's not much that we do agree on other than that beer is über yummly.

Take, for example, A Little Sumpin Wild  by Lagunitas. Kyle is not overly fond of Lagunitas nor is he a fan of A Little Sumpin Wild. To quote him, "Am NOT a fan of wild at all." I, on the other hand, love Lagunitas beer and I adore A Little Sumpin Wild.

And then there's Via Cordis by Two Roads. We both agreed that it had definite hefeweizen characteristics. However, he tasted malt whereas I didn't get that at all. I thought it was more of a hefeweizen meets saison with a touch of lemon and spices.

And then the firkin of Sour Cherry and Mosaic dry hopped Honeyspot Road at Two Roads last night. Despite that it was a casked beer he expected more of sour type brew.  It was exactly what I expected and more.

There are more examples of our sometimes diametrically oppositional taste buds, but you get my point.

That's the great thing about beer. There are so many different varieties and styles that there is something for every palette. What I find most interesting is that two people can taste the exact same beer and have a completely different experience.

Anyhoo, back to Kyle . . .

I met him at Two Roads Brewery one Friday night not so long ago where we chatted over a couple glasses of casked Jalapeno Pils.

A week or so later I was at my favorite beer store when I spied a young man of almost 30 years of age and unusual stature by a kiosk offering samples of Oskar Blues beer.  Not only was he hogging the attention of the Oskar Blues representative but was also blocking all access to the tasty samples that beckoned. That person was none other than Kyle. I never did get to taste any of that beer.

During the course of a conversation at Two Roads we were discussing what rare and unusual beers we each had stashed. I had stuff he hadn't tried and he had stuff that I coveted.  So, we decided to make a trade - an Alaskan Smoked Porter for a can of his Heady Topper. A trade that is still a point of contention to this very day. Read the Heady Topper post for more details.

Kyle is a good guy but he's somewhat delusional.  He thinks the wire brush of facial hair he's sporting is as soft the down on a baby's bottom.  When in fact, I still have abrasions from the briefest contact from posing for a picture with him last night.

He also seems to think he has cute feet. No man has cute feet and I am under the firm opinion that not only should men NOT where flip flops but should also keep those puppies completely concealed. Ew.

One thing that we sorta kinda agree on is that neither one of us is a beer snob.  We both will slam back the the occasional macro-brew because there is a time and place for every type of beer and sometimes you just want to knock a few back and catch a good buzz.

However, he seems to think just because Coors Light comes in a chemically reactive can that turns the mountains blue when the beer gets cold that it's superior to Keystone Light. Yeah, well, Kyle guess what? I took the tour of the Coors brewery in Boulder Colorado and you won't believe what the tour guide told me. He said it's the same beer packaged in different cans and sold at a different price point. So, your stinkin' Coors Light isn't better than my crappy Keystone Light. It's just more expensive. So stick that in your glass and drink it!

I'm just bustin' chops, cuz that's the way I roll.

Kyle's a cool guy and a good sport. He might even be moderately cute.  And, he can take a good ribbing. Kyle knows and has good taste in beer. I actually do enjoy discussing beer with him and sharing ideas about styles and characteristics.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Workin' the Firkin!

It's Firkin Thursday at  Two Roads Brewery. What's spewing from the bunghole this time around? White IPA with Sour Cherry and dry hopped with Mosaic hops. Oh my sweet lord!!

Honeyspot Road (6% ABV) is one of my favorite Two Roads beers.  It is a golden colored ale with a thick white head that hugs the glass and leaves a marked amount lacing.  Honeyspot Road is a deliciously refreshing IPA that has a touch of citrus flavor and just the right amount of hoppy bitterness.

In the cask with all those sour cherries and juicy hops . . . imagine the potential!

I arrived at the brewery shortly after the tapping to find the beertender working the cask for all it was worth - tilting it, shaking it.  My first thought was that the firkin was already empty.  How could that possibly be?? I was so looking forward to this one that I almost had a conniption!

All that freaking out was for naught. It was simply a matter of the luscious cherries clogging up the bunghole. I hate it when that happens. Don't you?

The infused beer was the color of ruby red grapefruit juice clouded with wonderful bits of hop and cherry sediment.

The aroma was a mouth watering burst of fresh Mosaic hops. Simply wonderful!

The taste was remarkable. Juicy hops dominated with the cherries shyly lurking in the background but they were not completely overpowered.  The finish was awfully good bitterness and a lingering whisper from the cherries.

The last sip from the glass was the pièce de résistance. Much of that floaty goodness settled into a tasty layer that was like the cherry on top of an ice cream sundae. Delish!

Other people I spoke with expected more of the acidic, tart qualities associated with a sour. But, since it was a only casked and not brewed, the beer was pretty much exactly what I was expecting.  Others may have experienced mild disappointment. I was, however, quite delighted with the result.

Bold, flavorful, and delicious. This White IPA Dry Hopped With Mosaic And Sour Cherries firkin is my favorite Two Roads casked brew second only to Jalapeno Pils.

Awesomeness in a glass. I'd say "get some" but it's all gone!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Spaten Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest was on tap at my favorite spot for hot wings and cold beer.  It's almost that time, so why not?

Although Spaten has been brewing beer for over 600 years, Oktoberfest brewed was first brewed 1872 and is notably the world's first Oktoberfest beer. It irks me somewhat that this ancient brewery is now owned by Anheuser-Busch.  Oktoberfest is a far cry from craft beer but it's still a classic.

Oktoberfest (5.90% ABV) was served in a shaker pint. It is a deep coppery amber with a small but thick head.

The aroma is what I think of when I think what beer smells like.  It's a little bready and hints at sweet malts with a spot of hops.  A very little spot of hops.

The taste is mostly of gently roasted malts and grain. There is a gentle bite of hops that simply rounds out the flavor without taking over.  Oktoberfest is well flavored but relatively light tasting which makes it hugely quaffable.  The finish is crisp and dry.

The mouthfeel is medium and smooth with soft carbonation.

Oktoberfest is a classic. It tastes like fun. Love it!

Overall: very good.

Brooklyn Lager

My world is all akilter! I don't know what's happening!

I don't like Brooklyn beers! The majority of my experiences with beers brewed in this city have been less than delicious.  I've made my opinion on this subject quite clear.  Read about it here, if you're interested.

And now I've liked two Brooklyn Brewery beers in as many days.  I'm officially freakin'.

But this is a good thing, is it not? I think so.

For months I've been face to face with the Brooklyn Lager taphead during my weekly Wings and Beer date night with my hubby. Finally, I succumbed.  I had a pint.

Not really expecting to like it but feeling determined, I took a sip and was like, "Wait. What?" And then I said, "Hubby, try this." And he was like, "Wait, What?" And then I was like, "This is actually good."

Huh? What do you know?

How cool is that?  ☜(゚ヮ゚☜)

Brooklyn Lager (5.20% ABV) is an American amber lager brewed with caramel malts and then dry hopped.

Served in a shaker pint, the lager is a somewhat hazy golden amber with a finger of bright white foam.

The aroma is malty with a burst of hoppy goodness.

The taste is a nice bite of grapefruity hops overlaying a pleasantly sweet undercurrent of caramel hops. This is enhanced by a mild hit of subtle spices. The sweet and bitter are well balanced.  The finish is crisp with lingering hoppy bitterness.

The mouthfeel is medium and smooth.  The carbonation is just right.

Brooklyn Lager adds an American twist to a classic Viennese style.  It is tasty and drinkable.

Overall: very good.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Post Road Pumpkin Ale

HA! I can finally say I met a Brooklyn Brewery beer that I like.  It's like a miracle or something.

I've made my opinion of beer brewed in Brooklyn - the city, not the brewery - quite clear.  Read about it here, if you're interested.

It's not that I don't want to like beer brewed in Brooklyn, it's just that it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Quite literally.

So, imagine my delight when I drank the well known and well loved Brooklyn Brewery beer Post Road and actually liked it! No one was happier than me, I can tell you! I want to love all beer, not that that is a reality, but I want to! I really do!

Post Road is made with real pumpkin and rich spices to make this yummy pumpkin brew.

Post Road (5.00% ABV) pours a deep rich amber with a smallish bright white head.

The aroma is a bold hit of malt, pumpkin, and spices.  Smells like pie, that can't be bad. (^_^)

The taste is caramel overlaying the pumpkin and spices. There are also yummy a pleasant biscuit undertones. I like that this beer is not overly spiced, but gently and nicely done so that they're not overpowering.  It's also not too sweet and well balanced.  The finish is crisp with some spice lingering on the palate.

The mouthfeel fairly light with lots of tingly bubbles.

This is a pretty darned good pumpkin ale. It has good pumpkin flavor with just the right amount of spices and nicely malty.

Overall: very good.