Thursday, October 31, 2013

Plan Bacon

Plan B is a great place to go for great beer, creative burgers, and fine bourbon. This week they've added another B and another reason to go there - BACON.

It's Bacon Week at Plan B!!! I know!! Can you stand it??

That's just way too much awesomeness to not share, so hubby and I met up with some friends to partake in the crispety, crunchety, salty goodness. Much bacon was consumed; several pigs' worth, at least. We have no regrets.

Friend and fellow beer enthusiast, Kyle, was also at Plan B with his very own merry hoard of bacon eaters. Remarkably, Kyle had just emerged from a five year hiatus of bacon abstinence. Can you believe that?? Who can go FIVE whole years without eating bacon? It doesn't seem possible. Well, welcome back to heaven, dude. He remarked that he likes his bacon firm and not flaccid. I can't say that I disagree with that. 'nuff said.

Our server, Jessica, was the best! She was attentive, knowledgeable, friendly, and quite tolerant of our silliness!

When Plan B makes a menu for Bacon Week they don't mess around! Holy baconoly!

We started out with the bacon appetizer which was aptly named Bucket of Bacon. It was literally nothing more than a pile of crispy bacon served with a side of three dipping sauces. It was flippin' incredible.

And of course, a bacon cocktail was in order. Bacon Bourbon Apple Cider Fizz - bacon infused bourbon, apple cider, ginger, beer candied bacon, and an apple slice. Mmmm.

Everybody ordered a main course off the Bacon Week menu. They all looked so tempting, it was hard to choose. No, I take that back. For me, it was a no brainer. I got the Hog Tied Hamburger. The burger consisted of half beef, half apple juice brined ground bacon burger topped with maple syrup roasted pork belly, bourbon bacon butter country gravy, fresh arugula, and served on bacon cheddar buttermilk biscuits.

How to describe how it tasted? Hmm . . . this scene from When Harry Met Sally pretty much gives a good idea. Except I wasn't faking it.

Of course we had beer. All of the selections were good. A couple were great. So, let's get to it!

Deviant Dale's (8% ABV) IPA by Oskar Blues

Served in a stemmed chalice. It was a clear pale amber color with the remnants of the thick head. This beer has remarkable lacing; impressive!  The aroma was an enticing mixture of resinous hops and caramel malt.  The taste mirrors the aroma with a a mouthwatering combination of pine, grapefruit and spicy pepper hops offset by caramel and biscuit malts. This brew is the best of both worlds with a nice sharp bite of bitter hops balanced by lovely sweet malt. The finish is dry and bitter. The mouthfeel is medium with good carbonation.  Overall: very good.

Sofie (6.5% ABV) Belgian Farmhouse Ale by Goose Island

Served in a stemmed chalice. It was a clear pale gold.  The aroma was grainy with some fruit notes. The taste had a strong bready grain profile accentuated by banana, citrus and clove.  The wine barrel aging imparted a distinctive crisp quality that was, indeed, wine like.  The mouth feel was medium with lots of bubbly carbonation.  Overall: good.

Pranqster (7.5% ABV) Belgian Golden Ale by North Coast Brewing.

Served in a shaker pint. It was a hazy golden color with a skim of foam floating on top.  The aroma was typical of a Belgian style beer - banana, bubblegum, clove, juicy fruits, yeast. The taste was also very characteristic of the Belgian style.  Loads mouthwatering tart fruit flavors co-mingling with sweet juicy fruit flavors along with candy-like sweetness and spices. There is a strong grain presence, as well. The hops provide just the right amount of bittering to counteract the sweetness and create a good balance of flavors. The hops take over in the finish leaving a lingering bitterness. The mouthfeel is medium with loads of tingly effervescence. Overall: good

Brewer's Select Aries (8% ABV) an amazing combination of their Heathen Imperial Stout and Imperial Pumpkin Stout by Weyerbacher.

Served in a stemmed chalice. It was as dark as night with reddish orange highlights. This was an outstanding brew! All the characteristics of a good barrel aged stout combined with flavorful pumpkin ale. Malty, roasty, pumpkiny, gently sweet, spicy. All this with an incredibly creamy mouthfeel. So good! Overall: excellent!

Pale Ale (5.4% ABV) by Founders

Served in a shaker pint. It was a clear amber with the remains of a head intact that left behind nice lacing. The aroma is primarily grassy and citrus hops with some malty undertones. The taste was a fairly average and unremarkable pale ale. More hoppy than most with sweet malts to offset some of the bitterness. The mouthfeel is crisp and dry. It was good but nothing special. Overall: good.

Hard Pumpkin Cider (5% ABV) by Ace Cider

Served in a shaker pint. It is a bright, clear honey color. The aroma is promising with a mouthwatering combination of pumpkin and apples. The taste is somewhat disappointing. The flavors of pumpkin, tart apples, and pie spices come through but it's somewhat watery and lacking. It needs something - more oomph - and it just doesn't have it. Overall: meh.

It was a great evening of good good and drink shared with the best of friends. And bacon. Lots and lots of bacon. It just doesn't get much better than that!


Damnation Ale

When selecting the beers to take on our annual fall camping trip, I immediately included the bottle of Damnation Ale.  I thought it would be an appropriate beer to enjoy while toasting my tootsies in front of a raging campfire.

I was right!

Damnation (7.0% ABV) is a strong golden ale brewed by Russian River.

It pours a hazy straw color with a moderate head that leaves behind tight lacing.

The aroma a sharp citrus and sweet fruits.

The taste was wonderful. Gently sweet; some fruit with a hint of spices. This is contrasted by tart citrus that compliments the flavor but doesn't overwhelm the palate. There is a touch of hoppy bitterness that lends balance but is quite subtle.  The alcohol is nicely concealed. The finish is dry and crisp.

The mouth feel is medium with brisk champagne-like carbonation. The alcohol can be felt as a tingle in the mouth.

Damnation Ale is delicious and dangerously drinkable. An excellent example of the style.  I like it! A lot!

Overall: very good!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Attempted RedRum

I've had a couple bottles of Attempted RedRum from New England Brewing Company hanging around for months and months and never quite found the right opportunity to bust into a bottle.

When I was selecting what beers to bring along for a recent camping trip, I thought it would be a perfect beer to enjoy while relaxing by a raging campfire.

Ironically, and completely unplanned, I just so happened to be reading the sequel to the Shining (Doctor Sleep) during the same camping trip.

So, it really was the perfect time.

Attempted RedRum (13.00% ABV) pours a dense reddish orange color that resembles fresh unfiltered apple cider. There's barely a head to speak of, just a halo around the edge of the glass.

The aroma is rummy, boozy with hints of dark fruits and caramel.

The taste mirrors the aroma. There is a clearly defined taste of rum accentuated by caramel and some dark, rich fruit. It is also has a brandy like booziness, that is quite nice. This is a sipper not a gulper!  The finish is thick and sweet.

The mouthfeel is super creamy and warming. The alcohol leaves a nice tingle.

This is bold brew, tasty but intense. Barleywines are not my favorite style but I liked it.

Overall: good.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Beer, Bait, & Ammo - sounds good to me!

Recreation Ale

Every year at the end of the summer hubby and I go camping. The primary purpose of this fall camping trip is decompression and relaxation.  The main activities for this camping trip are eating, drinking, sleeping, drinking, reading and drinking; all while enjoying the brisk air, the beauty of nature, and a roaring campfire.

I was recently gifted a case of beer that exemplifies what our annual camping trip is all about.

The slogan - Taste the great outdoors!

Circling the rim of the can are the words -

Camp - did that
Partake - totally did that
Bike - nah, too much like work
Hike - did that, too
Paddle - depends on what kind of paddling you mean  (Ͼ˳Ͽ)

The beer? Recreation Ale by is a hippety hoppety hopped up American Pale Ale by Terrapin Beer Company. The alcohol  content is a very sessionable 4.7% ABV, so you can safely drink a few and not get so fluffy that you fall into the fire. That's a good thing.

It pours a hazy golden straw color with a big fuzzy head that leaves behind tight lacing all the way down the glass.

The aroma is hops, hops and more hops.  Mostly dank, earthy hops. An incredibly mouthwatering smell.

The taste is wonderful bitter hops. All kinds of hoppy goodness - dank, nutty, earthy, pine, citrus - all competing for my tastebud's attention. There is the tasty addition of malty sweetness that comes through to balance out the bite and add complexity. Th finish is clean and bitter and makes your mouth beg for more.

The mouthfeel is light and bubbly. The effervescence leaves behind a pleasant tingle.

If  I've managed to leave any doubt, let me state quite clearly that I love this beer. So good and refreshing and incredibly drinkable.

Overall:  excellent.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Beer and burgers

I was in the Greater Hartford area to visit with family and we decided to go to Plan B for dinner. Burgers and beer, yum!

I got the special burger of the week - The Jack on Jack! Sweet Jack Daniels glazed beef, Jack Daniels aioli, Monterey jack cheese, frizzled onion, lettuce & tomato! - on a pretzel roll. NOM!

Unfortunately, without any consideration for my need for brewski fulfillment,  my chauffeur (hubby) had taken the day off. Consequently, I couldn't sample as many of the brews that were available on tap as I would have liked, but I managed to pick a couple of good ones. So, it's all good.

I started out with Six Point Resin IPA and finished with Abita Purple Haze. Both good, but in entirely different ways.

Resin (9.1% ABV) is an imperial IPA brewed by Six Point. It was served in a stemmed chalice and arrived with the wisp of foam that left behind loose, chunky lacing.

The aroma is boldly hoppy, lots of pine and some bitter citrus.

The taste lives up to it's name. It has a big resinous and grapefruity bite and a mouthwatering bitter punch. A hophead's beer for sure.

The mouthfeel is somewhat creamy and smooth, it's a mouthful.

I've not been a big fan of Six Point brews, but I'm in love with this one!

Overall: very good.

Purple Haze (4.2% ) is a fruit beer brewed by Abita. It arrived in a shaker pint with the remnants of foam on top. It's actually almost purple in appearance.

The aroma was all raspberry, leaving no doubt about what to expect.

The flavor upfront was raspberry followed by some wheat. This is a fairly sweet beer, barely bitter. Clean finish with almost no aftertaste.

The mouthfeel is light with good carbonation.

This is a good beer, but nothing special. It didn't wow me but I did enjoy it.

Overall: good.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Cooking with Beer - Cranberry Lambic & Butternut Squash Roasted Pork Loin

This is one of my throw together meals.  I had all the ingredients but no real plan. I adapted my recipe for Beer Braised Pork Loin to the ingredients on hand. Voila! A wonderful fall dinner that is flavorful and comforting. And, really not all that complicated to make.

The pork falls apart and is delicious. The sauce is creamy and the perfect accompaniment to the meat. Yum!

I used Samuel Adams Cranberry Lambic. Experiment with what you like and come up with something all your own.

Cranberry Lambic & Butternut Squash Roasted Pork Loin

1 Pork Loin Roast, About 5 Pounds
1 Large Red Onion, Chopped
4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Tbsp Ground Mustard
1 Tsp Ground Cloves
1 Butternut Squash, Peeled And Cubed
12 Ounces Cranberry Lambic
1 Can Jellied Cranberry Sauce
1 Tablespoon Seasoned Salt
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
8 Ounces Brie Cheese

Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit.

In a large Dutch oven heat oil and melt butter over medium high heat.  Place pork loin in the Dutch oven and sprinkle all over with some of the seasoned salt. Cook until browned on all sides. Remove from pan.

Sauté onions in the dutch oven until softened and lightly caramelized. Season with the ground mustard, cloves, some of the seasoned salt.  Stir in cranberry sauce until well combined.  

Place roast on top of the onion/cranberry mixture in the center of the pan. Surround with butternut squash cubes and sprinkle with remaining seasoned salt.

Pour the cranberry lambic over the roast and squash.

Cover the Dutch oven and place in the preheated oven. Bake at 350° for 2 hours, or until pork is tender. Place pork loin on a serving platter and keep warm.

Place liquid with vegetables into a blender; cover and process at low speed until smooth. Return the sauce to the Dutch oven and heat through.

Spoon sauce over sliced pork and top with a slab of brie. Place dish in the oven for a minute or so to melt the cheese, if desired.

Great served with my Beerific Sausage and Apple Stuffing or rice.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pumpkin Ale

'tis the season for pumpkin beer and here is another of many I've tried this year.  This one was on tap at my favorite place for hot wings and cold beer - Porky's Cafe in Shelton, CT.

Before I get to the beer, I have to say the wings were saucy, spicy and extra good. And the porketta sandwich was oh so SO good; nicely spiced roasted pork topped fresh mozzarella and cherry peppers! Drooooool.

The beer was Blue Point Pumpkin Ale (6% ABV). It was served in a pint glass. It was a dark chestnut brown with orange highlights and came with just a ring of foam around the edge of the glass.

The aroma was full of rich pumpkin spices. This is a very pumpkin pie smelling beer.

The taste wasn't quite what I was expecting. Although the pumpkin was in the forefront, the spices were subdued. So it was a lot less flavorful spice-wise than I had been lead to anticapte based on the smell.  That doesn't mean I didn't like it, it was good, it was just different than I thought it would be.

The mouthfeel was medium with nice carbonation.

Blue Point Pumpkin is on the lighter tasting side of pumpkin beers; more subtle. It is tasty and drinkable.

Overall: Good

Monday, October 21, 2013

Alessie Ale

I was recently at Two Roads Brewery to enjoy some brews with good friends.  On tap was a new beer called Alessie Ale.

The beer was brewed in honor of Bruce Alessie - a local civic leader, politician and philanthropist - who recently passed away.

Just as Bruce had a special place in the hearts of many in the community,  he was near and dear to Two Roads Brewery.

Bruce Alessie, who was head of the business development office for the town of Stratford, welcomed Two Roads to Stratford with open arms.  He helped and encouraged them as they sought a place in the town; guiding the effort with advice on how to work with town and state officials to make the dream of establishing the brewery a reality. He became a good friend along the the way.

The folks at Two Roads wanted to honor the man who came to mean a so much to them. They did it in a way that they do best.

Alessie Ale (6% ABV) is an American Brown Ale.

It pours a rich chestnut brown with a dense off-white head that leaves behind loose lacing.

The aroma is of dark roasted malts and a surprising burst of hops.

The flavor is classic brown ale with a kick. It is gently sweet, roasty, and malty; which is to be expected. This is followed by a solid bite of bitter hops that add new dimension to an otherwise average style of beer. The finish is dry and bitter.

The mouthfeel is medium-light with nice carbonation.

This is a good example of an American style brown ale with a nice bite of hops.

Overall: good.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Iron Maiden Trooper

Another successfully executed wings and beer night! Success being determined by two critical factors: Hot wings were bold and spicy.  The cold beer was frosty and refreshing.

Better yet, another new craft beer was on tap!

Woot! Woot!

It doesn't get much better than that!

On tap?

The brew, Trooper, is named after a song by the same name from Iron Maiden's Piece of Mind album.

The beer, Iron Maiden Trooper, is  brewed by Robinsons in collaboration with beer lover and Iron Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson.

 That's pretty darned cool, right there!

All that niftiness aside, how was the beer?

Iron Maiden Trooper (4.70% ABV) was served in a frosty mug. It was a lovely orangy rad with the remnants of foam swirling on top. The froth left behind great lacing.

The aroma is malty with a nice bready yeastiness and a touch of hops.

The taste is just what I would expect from an ESB.  A nice hit of malty sweetness, a bit of caramel, and some breadiness. All this followed by a goodly bit of bitterness to balance out the flavors and carry it through to a nice crisp finish witha bite.

The mouthfeel is moderate with good carbonation.

Iron Maiden Trooper is ridiculously drinkable and goes down exceptionally easy.  I polished off a glass before I knew what happened. So good!!

Overall: very good

Friday, October 18, 2013

Mint Chocolate Porter

I tried like crazy to get a bottle of Stone Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout last year. It sounds so flippin' good!

Despite all my attempts to acquire a bottle which may or may not have included begging, pleading, cajoling, threatening and/or blackmailing. Sadly, it was not available for distribution in my neck of the USA and, apparently, I can't twist anyone's arm hard enough to get a bottle.

So, in desperation, I got a bottle of what I had hoped would be a suitable substitute.

Mint Chocolate Porter (6.20% ABV) is a winter seasonal beer brewed by Bootlegger's Brewery.

It poured a rich dark cherry color with a dense but small mocha colored head.

The aroma as mildly minty and chocolate. Kinda/sorta like mint chocolate chip ice cream.

The taste . . . OMG awfulness.  It tasted like someone shoved a stick of spearmint chewing gum into a bottle of chocolate beer. Simply awful. I couldn't even choke down more than a couple mouthfuls.

I can't compare Stone's Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout with Bootlegger's porter, but I pray to Ninkasi that it's better.

The bottle got dumped and in my house that almost never, ever, ever happens.  That's considered alcohol abuse. But this is one beer that deserved a little abuse.


Overall: god awful.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Denver Pale Ale

I love a good pale ale. I like the more bitter American style just as much as I like the sweeter maltier English style.

Great Divide fills the bill quite nicely with their English style pale ale.

Denver Pale Ale (5.40% ABV) pours a clear golden amber with a finger or two bright white head that settles into a fine layer of foam.

The aroma is heavy with bready grains and floral hops. Appealing and mouth watering.

The taste is nicely malty with lovely bread-like overtones. Floral and grassy hops add character and balance but not too much bitterness. The caramel sweet malt and the biscuit qualities of the English style pale ale are what really do it for me in this beer. The finish is crisp and dry with a whisper of hoppy bitterness.

The mouth feel is medium with good carbonation.

Denver Pale Ale is a great example of an English style pale ale. Very nice.

Overall: very good

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Great Pumpkin Ale

The name of this beer conjures images in my head of Linus blowing off Trick-or-Treating to wait in the pumpkin patch all night with his little blue blanket. He has faith that The Great Pumpkin will come despite the mockery of the rest of the peanut gang. The kid had conviction, if nothing else.

Ah, the warm fuzzy memories of my youth.

The Great Pumpkin Ale (4.40% ABV) brewed by Cambridge Brewing Company is a nice sessionable pumpkin beer.

Cambridge Brewing claims to be the first brewery in New England to brew pumpkin beer. The Great Pumpkin Ale has become their signature beer.

It is, indeed brewed in honor of the fabled Great Pumpkin. That makes me happy.

It pours a slightly hazy amber with a small one finger had that diminishes to a fine halo of foam around the edge of the glass.

The aroma is a soft, pleasing blend of  pumpkin and spices.

The taste is somewhat light but pumpkin and spices come forward enough to entice the palate. This beer is gently sweet with nary a bit of bitterness. The finish is crisp and mildly spicy.

The mouth feel is light to medium with nice tingly effervescence.

I've had bigger, bolder, badder pumpkin beers, but The Great Pumpkin Ale is mild and mellow. It's quite nice and exceptionally drinkable. I like it.

Over all: very good

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Cooking with Beer - Beer Cheese Fondue Macaroni & Cheese

Nothing says comfort food to me quite like homemade macaroni and cheese. It's warm, gooey and cozy. But can I leave it at that? No can do. I had to add beer.

What I ended up with was warm, gooey and AWESOME!  The sprinklin' of crumbled crispy bacon had a little something to do with that, though.


Everything is better with beer and bacon.
I used my hubby's home brewed nut brown ale for this recipe. You can use whatever might strike your fancy. Just keep in mind, stronger beer makes for stronger flavor and lighter tasting beer will be more subtle. Brown ale was just right.


Beer Cheese Fondue Macaroni & Cheese

1 Package (16 Ounces) Gemelli Pasta
1/4 Cup Butter
2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1 Tbsp Ground Mustard
1 Tsp Salt
3/4 Tsp Fresh Ground Pepper
2 Cups Half And Half
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
1 Cup Brown Ale
3 Cups (12 Ounces) Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
2 Cups (8 Ounces) Shredded Fontina Cheese
2 Tbsp Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese
6 Bacon Strips Thick Cut
2 Tbsp Butter
1 Cup Ritz Cracker Crumbs

Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit.

Cook pasta until al dente, check the package for time. You want the pasta to be a little firm because it will continue cooking in the oven. Drain and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking, fry the bacon until crispy. Set aside.

In the same pot you cooked the pasta in, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add
garlic; cook for 1 minute until it is softened and fragrant.

Stir in the flour, mustard, salt, and pepper until smooth. Then whisk in the half and half, cream and beer. Whisk until smooth.

Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Add the cheeses and stir until melted. Then stir in the pasta.

Pour into a butter casserole dish.  It may be a little loose but will thicken as it bakes.

Crumble the bacon on top of the macaroni and cheese mixture.

In a small saucepan, melt the additional 2 tablespoons of butter. Stir in cracker crumbs and mix until crumbly.

Sprinkle buttered cracker crumbs over the top of the macaroni and cheese and bacon.

Bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes until top is browned and cheese is bubbly.

Serve with a slab of ham steak or whatever makes you happy.

I tell you what. This mac and cheese makes me happy!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Smuttynose Scotch Ale

I like smut. Get your mind out of the gutter, what smut means today and what it originally meant are not quite the same.

I'm not really into porn but I love ""indecent or obscene language", which is the way the word was originally used.

I love using cuss words. Ask anyone who knows me! I let the F-bomb fly at every opportunity.

I also like that dirty beer maker known as Smuttynose. They make some great F'n beer!

I also an a big fan of Scotch Ale; Scottish style strong pale ale.

Scotch Ale (8.20% ABV) is from Smuttynose's BIG BEER series.

It pours a bright, clear amber with one finger of dense foam that hangs a round for a while but leaves no traces behind.

The aroma is malty with some herb and smoke notes. There is also a promise of sweetness in the smell.

The taste is immediately malty and sweet. There are undertones of wood smokes and a certain earthiness.  The alcohol is well disguiesed; it is neither tasted nor felt. The finish is clean and mildly smoky.

The mouth feel is medium with good carbonation.

Smooth and drinkable, this is a good Scotch ale but it's not the best I've had. I like it, but Smuttynose has better brews in their line up.

Overall: good