Friday, January 31, 2014

Rye 95

The brewers at Two Roads are some pretty busy little beer makers. By my count, Two Roads has released 21 beers in just over a year in the brewing business - some are on in the regular rotation, some are seasonal, some were limited time offerings.

Alessie Ale Little Heaven
Anniversary Ale No Limits
Belgian IPA Ok2berfest Ein  
Conntucky Lightnin'         Ok2berfest Zwei  
Henry's Farm         Ol’ Factory Pils 
Hizzöner Maibock Road 2 Ruin 
Holiday Ale Roadsmary's Baby 
Honeyspot Road Route of All Evil
Igor's Dream 2013 Via Cordis
Igor's Dream 2014 Worker's Comp

That's a lot of different beers in a relatively short period of time - nearly two a month! And, that's not including the firkins they do every other week or so. It's crazy! Crazy good!!!

The latest addition to the Two Roads line up is Rye 95 (9.5% ABV) an American Tripel brewed with rye.

It pours a hazy golden orange with a floof of foam that dissipates into a fuzzy halo that leaves fin lacing on the glass.

The aroma is a bold burst of rye and a twang of hops.

The taste is a wash of rye complimented with sweet fruit flavors. The sweetness is balance and counteracted by a mouthwatering explosion of hoppy goodness. The finish is dry with the lingering flavor of grain. 

The alcohol is very well concealed.

The mouthfeel leans towards full with loads of carbonation.

The malted rye in Rye 95 gives this beer a singularly distinct flavor among the Two Roads line up of beers.

Overall: good

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Slumbrew Snow Angel

Date night found me enjoying hot wings, cold beer, the company of my adoring (if not adorable) husband,  and a new craft beer from the tap list!

Oh, and a hot oil pizza with shrimp! Heavenly!

Don't you love it when the stars align and all is right with the world?

The new-to-me beer was Snow Angel by Slumbrew (AKA Somerville Brewing)

Snow Angel (9.00% ABV) is an imperial IPA.

It was served in a nonic pint glass. The color was a slightly hazy aurous red-orange. It had a fluffy head that left behind scattered lacing.

The aroma was a hop explosion of mouth watering proportions with underlying juicy fruit notes.

The taste was big time hop forward; grapefruit and resin combined with sweeter tropical fruits.  Malt and biscuit round out the flavors to create nice balance. A delicate black pepper quality builds on the palate and adds character. The alcohol is well concealed. The finish is hops and more hops.

The mouth feel is medium approaching full with lively carbonation.

Snow Angel is a hop lovers delight! I thought it was exceptionally good and reminded me of Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA.  Don't pass this one up if you see it! Delish!

Overall: very good.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Vanilla Oatis Stout

Ninkasi was worshiped as the goddess of beer and alcohol in ancient Sumaria some 6000 thousand years ago. Her name means ‘the lady who fills the mouth'. Her duties as an immortal were to prepare the nectar of the gods - AKA beer - to "satisfy the desire" and "sate the heart".

Naturally, there is a brewery named after her. Ninkasi Brewing is located in Eugene Oregon. They started out with a 15-barrel system in 2006. Three expansions later, their current brewery features a 55-barrel brewing system that can produce 95,000 barrels of beer a year. Unfortunately for most of us, they only distribute to Alaska, California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.

Despite the difficulty in acquiring Ninkasi, I managed to get my greedy little hands on a bottle of their nectar, er, beer.

Vanilla Oatis (7.2% ABV) an oatmeal stout brewed with vanilla.

It pours a dark sable brown with ruby highlights with a full, dense head that leaves behind nice layers of clinging foam.

The aroma is of roasted malt, dried dark fruits, and some alcohol.

That taste is malty tinged with dark roasted coffee and cocoa. I didn't pick up much vanilla. The sweetness was tempered by the roasted grain and mild hops and balanced by a nice biscuit quality. The brew was somewhat tart which was interesting and I'm not sure where that was coming from. The finish is roasty and bitter.

The mouth feel was lighter than expected but creamy. The carbonation was lively and left a bit of a tingle.

Vanilla Oatis didn't blow me away but it was a decent stout. I'm looking forward to trying some of their other beers.

Overall: good

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Igor's Dream (2014)

It's not every Saturday that I'll haul my butt out of bed early in the morning to go drink beer, but today was special. So, that's exactly what I did.

What's so special about this particular day? The second annual release of Two Roads Brewery's Igor's Dream.

Igor’s Dream commemorates Stratford hero and American aviation icon Igor Sikorsky. The beer style is a nod to his Russian heritage.

I got there early but I wasn't the first one in line. Not by a long shot. Manny from New Haven was standing patiently at the door since 5:30 AM waiting for them to open. That wasn't until around 7:30 AM. Now that, my friends, is dedication to brew. For his devotion Manny got the bottle numbered #1. He certainly deserves it!

The queue to get the bottles of Igor's Dream was well organized and jovial. Each person in line had the opportunity to buy up to three bottles of the 2014 version and one bottle of the 2013. I opted to get my full allotment of 2014 and none of the 2013 since I still have my quota from last year cellared.

At 9:00 AM the line started moving. It flowed smoothly through the brewery to the area set aside for distribution.  The bottles of 2014 Igor's Dream were $20 each and given out in a nifty Two Roads carrying bag.

There were 1980 bottles of 2014 Igor's Dream available for sale. I got bottles numbered 134 through 136. All 1980 bottles were sold out by the end of the day.

Two Roads head brewer Phil Markowski and Igor Sikorski's sons were on hand to sign bottles and to answer questions.

After getting my bottle signed, I mosied up to the bar to finally get a taste of the long anticipated brew. The 2013 was also on tap, of which they only had two kegs, so I was able to do a side-by-side comparison.

Igor's Dream (10.9% ABV) is a Russian Imperial Stout. The recipe will vary from year to year. Aside from the variances in the recipe, last year the beer was aged in Willett bourbon barrels and this year it was aged in Redemption Rye barrels.

Igor's Dream (2014) pours a deep dark brown with a cap of foam that dissipiates into a halo that leaves a skim of tiny bubbles on the glass as you drink. I wouldn't call it lacing because it doesn't really cling but, instead, slides back into the drink.

The aroma is malty and roasty with a pleasant oakiness and a ghostly whiff of whiskey.

The taste is big and malty. Roasty grain, espresso, cocoa come through and play well with the woody flavors from the barrel. There is an essence of whiskey that is sensed more as a smell than an overt flavor. The hops balance out the sweetness and add depth of character. The finish is a pleasant roastiness.

The mouth feel is full, creamy, and gently carbonated.

The brew is bold yet incredibly drinkable; scarily drinkable considering the alcohol content.

However, when compared to the Igor's Dream that's been aging gracefully for the past year it doesn't seem quite so big.

Everything about the cellared 2013 is big. Enormous even! It is robustly aromatic. The taste was incredibly smooth and rich. Roasty malts, silky chocolate, deep coffee flavors with notes of warm bourbon. The mouth feel is fabulously full and velvety with a lively play of carbonation. Wonderful.

Both are fantastic beers. The 2014 is like a young man kicking up his heels dancing a jig and the 2013 is more like a dignified older gentleman kicking back warming his feet by a hearth.

As I said, it's not every Saturday that I'm drinking beer early in the morning. It's not ever happened that I've been beer'd out by 10:30 in the morning. But that's how it went on this Saturday.

Two Roads did a great job with this release event. The staff was out in full force to make this a fun event. Everything from start to finish was well planned and superbly organized. It was enjoyable all around. And the beer was excellent. Cheers to the folks at Two Roads for being so flippin' awesome and to the brewers who make the magic happen!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Long Trail Craft Beer and Food Pairing

I received tickets to attend the Long Trail Craft Beer and Food Pairing compliments of Long Trail Brewing.

The event was a part of the Mohegan Sun Winefest and featured The American Craft Beer Cookbook Author John Holl & Long Trail's Executive Brewer Dave Hartmann.

There were five Long Trail brews chosen to be paired with selected recipes from the cookbook.

The first course was a wonderful assortment of Grafton Village Vermont aged cheeses paired with Belgian Brunette Belgian Dark Ale (6.20% ABV) from Brown Bag Series #7 - a crisp, flavorful unfiltered farmhouse style ale that is malty with a good balance of flavors. The cheeses by themselves were amazing but the pairing was an excellent match.

While enjoying this course, we were introduced to John Holl and Dave Hartmann by marketing guru Ken Zuckerman. Doug Cohn, a representative from Riedel spoke about drinking beer from the appropriate glassware and the glasses specially designed by Spiegelau in conjunction with craft breweries. This discussion was so intriguing that I will be performing experiments of my own to test the information he presented.

The second course was an individual shrimp tart with a shrimp reduction. The tart was fantastically delicious. It was ideally paired with Ramble Lemon Pepper Kölsch (5.30% ABV) from  Brown Bag Series #5 - a wonderful, bright Kölsch with hints of lemon and spicy of pepper that builds and grows bolder with every sip. Perfection.

While we were enjoying each individual course, John Holl and Dave Hartmann discussed why each beer was selected for each food, why beer pairs so well with food, and information about the different beers. The conversation was lively, fun, and educational.

Next up was a morsel of chicken mole paired with Culmination Chocolate Porter (9.30% ABV) - a dark, rich roasty beer with bold chocolate flavor. The chicken was outstanding and the beer was just as tasty. I just wish there had been more of it! YUM!

Following the chicken mole was a roasted root vegetable hash paired with Long Trail Ale (4.60% ABV) - an altbier that is a Long Trail classic; sweet and malty balanced with a gentle dose of hops. I love roasted vegetables and they went so well with the beer.

Last but not least was a carrot cake topped with bourbon mascarpone frosting paired with Limbo Double IPA (7.50% ABV) - an imperial IPA with sharp resinous and citrus aromatic hops tempered a bold malt backbone. This was a daring pairing. When John suggested it to Dave he scoffed. But then Dave went out and bought himself a carrot cake to try the pairing. He was duly impressed so we got to try it, as well.  The contrast of sweet, rich cake combined with the bitter wonderfulness of the beer was lovely. So good!  

Thanks to Long Trail for the tickets. It was a fun and educational event and I look forward to attending other such functions in the future.

Cooking with Beer - Beer Stroganoff

Beef stroganoff is one of my most favoritest foods in the whole wide world. It's one of those things I can eat until I'm ready to burst and I still try to shove more in because it's tastes so stinkin' good.

I know I shouldn't be mucking around with recipes that are already established as fool-proof and delicious. But I also have this irresistible urge to put beer in everything (especially myself). Resistance is futile.

Beef stroganoff is one of those recipes to which I yielded to the beer. In went the beer and out came awesome!!

So, here it is for you to try. I used a Long Trail Ale, but feel free to experiment with whatever beer you happen to have on hand or whatever suits your taste.

Beer Stroganoff

2 Pounds Eye Of The Round, Cut Into 1-Inch Cubes
2 Tbs. Neutral Flavored Oil; Canola, Etc.
1 1/2 Tsp. Salt
1 Onion, Thinly Sliced
4 Tbs. Butter
8 Oz. Sliced Fresh Baby Bella Mushrooms
1/8 Tsp. Paprika
2 Tbs. Flour
1 Tsp. Worcestershire
1 12-Oz. Bottle Beer
1 Cup Sour Cream
1 16-Oz Bag Egg Noodles

Several hours before you plan to cook the stroganoff marinate, the beef by placing the diced beef into a zipper type bag and pour the beer in. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

When you're ready to start cooking, place a colander over a large bowl and drain the meat, reserving the liquid.

Cook egg noodles according to directions on package. Set aside in a large bowl.

Heat oil in a large skillet. Season the beef with the salt and brown in the hot oil. Remove the meat from the pan. Drain the pan drippings over the noodles. Mix well then cover to keep warm.

Place the sliced onion, butter, and mushroom into the skillet. Cook just until onion is translucent. Stir flour and paprika into onions and mushrooms. Cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the beer and Worcestershire. Stir and cook until thickened and bubbly.

Stir in the beef and cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes.

Turn off the heat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.  Then stir in sour cream. Mix well.

Serve over the egg noodles noodles or rice.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

I'm a superstar!

In December I wrote an article about Chaz & AJ Beer, a beer that was brewed by Charter Oak Brewing in conjunction with the morning radio show hosts to raise money for charity. Read about it here.

A couple weeks ago I received an email from the Chaz and AJ show's producer, Phil, saying that they all enjoyed my review and would like to have me come on the show to chat about beer.

Of course, I accepted. What fun!!

When I got to the studio I was greeted by Phil and who gave me the lowdown on studio procedures, like keeping your mouth close to the microphone without licking it (because that would be gross), then asked me to wait until Chaz and AJ were ready to have me on the air.

Being that this was my first personal appearance as Brauista I was understandably nervous. As I paced back in forth in the waiting area, I heard the door to the studios fling open. I spun around and through the doors flew a laughing Pam, the traffic girl, with Chaz chasing after her. Chaz glanced over at me so I said, "Hi." He said, "Who are you?" I said with enthusiasm, "I'm Brauista!" He said, "Oh, I forgot about that." then hurried on his way.

Uhm, okay.

Finally, it was time for me to go on the air. Phil got me all situated and introduced me to Chaz. I glanced over my shoulder into the attached studio and exchanged a friendly little wave to AJ. And then it was time. Deep breath, here we go!

The first thing Chaz asked after introducing me was why I started writing about beer. I explained that I enjoy drinking beer and wanted to share my experiences with other beer enthusiasts. From there we covered various beer related topics before he became fixated on my recipe for Beer Cheese Fondue Macaroni & Cheese. I have to admit that I was caught a little off guard with this line of questioning - I was expecting to talk about beer, not cooking. I can't blame them, of course. Nothing is better than homemade macaroni and cheese but when you add beer and bacon . . . wowzers! Anyhoo, I think I was able to get through the interview without sounding completely moronic.

After my brief interview I wrangled up the boys and Pam for a quick photo-op. Then I headed off to work in a bit of a daze.

I didn't get more than a few feet into the office when I heard someone shout, "You're a star!" And then, "Hey brewista." 

Oh boy.

I'm hoping to get the opportunity to go back to the show with a piping hot pan of my award winning macaroni and cheese. And maybe even get a chance to actually talk about beer! 

I'm. A. Superstar!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Cold Snap

There's no denying it's winter time. It's freaking cold out there! In fact, it's been beyond freezing for days and days. It appears that there is no end in sight. One might go so far as to say that we're well into a cold snap.

When I spied Samuel Adams' new winter brew on tap - ironically called Cold Snap - I had to give it a try.

Cold Snap (5.30% ABV) pours a cloudy honey orange color. The thick creamy head quickly dissipates but leaves behind loose lacing.

The aroma is wheat mingling with soft spices and lots of sweet orange.

The taste is a burst of wheat and orange. This is a relatively sweet beer and not even a little bit bitter. The coriander spice notes are much more subtle but linger in the finish.

The mouthfeel is medium and smooth.

This is a supremely drinkable, slam-backable beer. I can say this without hesitation because I knocked one back in short order and was ready for another. I like it. I like it a lot.

Overall: very good

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Cambridge House Kolsch

I bought this beer thinking I hadn't had it before. When I went to log it on Untappd the only Kölsch listed for Cambridge House is the Copper Hill Kölsch which I have had before.

So, now I'm confused. I had to dig around a bit before I came up with the information that clarified the situation.

I know, I know. Most people would just say "whatever" and drink the beer. Me? I gotta know stuff.

Think of it this way. You get to benefit from the results of my inquiring mind.

It turns out that this Kölsch and the Copper Hill Kölsch are one and the same. 

Here's the deal. The original owner of Cambridge House sold the brew pub in Granby to somebody else. He then went on to open another brew pub in Torrington which subsequently closed. However, the original owner retained the rights to distribution of Cambridge House brews.

The Cambridge House brew pub in Granby can sell the beer in pints and growlers. Cambridge House beer company sells the beer for distribution. Same beer - different packaging.

Okay that doesn't explain the name change. Maybe someone didn't like the name and dropped it. Who knows. Whatever.

Now you know more about Cambridge House beer than you ever wanted to know.

My original review for Cambridge House Kölsch (5.1% ABV) was  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.   

This batch was definitely more bitter but still a tasty brew!

Overall: good.

Long Trail Craft Beer Food Pairing Seminar

Long Trail produces consistently good, flavorful beer.

My first taste of Long Trail beer was a Blackberry Wheat. It has persisted as one of my favorite Long Trail brews. It's a damn tasty beer!

The day I visited the brewery - way back in 2008 - was when I began fully appreciating the brewery. Being in the place where a beer is actually brewed somehow makes me feel more in touch with the beer. Or maybe it's all those samplers.



Imagine my delight when I was invited to attend a Long Trail Craft Beer Food Pairing Seminar! It's doubly cool because it's being held at Mohegan Sun Casino, so not only will I be able to drink beer and eat food but also gamble away my hard earned dollars. Nothing could be finer.

The event is this coming Friday - January 24th - from  7 PM to 8:30 PM.

Long Trail beers will be paired with recipes from the American Craft Beer Cookbook:
- Belgian Brunette with assortment of Grafton Village Vermont aged cheeses
- Ramble Lemon Pepper Kölsch with individual shrimp tarts and shrimp reduction
- Culmination Chocolate Porter with chicken mole
- Long Trail Ale with roasted root vegetable hash
- Limbo Double IPA with carrot cake topped with bourbon mascarpone frosting

If you would like to join me and other beer enthusiasts for this informational, buzz inducing seminar,  tickets are still available here.

Monday, January 20, 2014


I received Hibernator as part of a gift pack of Long Trail brews.  I have the best family in the world! They give me beer as presents!

I must say I absolutely love the label!  I could be that bear! That's my kind of hibernation.

Hibernator (5.8% ABV) is an unfiltered Scottish Ale. This is a popular Long Trail brew that's been brewed for the winter season since 1995.

It pours a hazy amber bordering on copper. It has a thick and fluffy head that has good retention and leaves behind a goodly amount of lacing on the glass.

The aroma is a big burst of malt with underlying note of peat.

The taste is very malty; pleasantly sweet but not overwhelmingly so. Caramel and biscuit flavors compliment and offset subtle earthiness. The finish is clean and mildly bitter.

The mouthfeel is on the light side of medium with moderate carbonation.

Hibernator is an easy drinking, flavorful beer that can suit nearly any palate. Refreshing.

Overall: good

Friday, January 17, 2014

Cooking with Beer - Beer'd Parsnips and Carrots

I love sauteed root vegetables. Using beer instead of water for parboiling the veggies seemed like a natural thing to do.

I used a mild IPA for this recipe - Anniversary Ale by Two Roads Brewing. It imparts a gentle bitterness to the sweet vegetables creating a delicious contrast of flavor. But you can use whatever beer you like.

Beer'd Parsnips and Carrots 

2 Large Parsnips
2 Large Carrots
2 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Cup Mild IPA
1 Tsp Tony Chachere Creole Seasoning
1 Teaspoon Sugar

Peel the parsnips and carrots and then slice them into long, thin slices.

Melt one tablespoon of the butter in medium-size skillet.  Then add the parsnips and carrots. Pour in the beer and season with Tony Chachere and sugar.

Bring the beer to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook until fork tender and then drain.

Add the other tablespoon of butter and the olive oil to the skillet. Turn to medium heat. When the butter is melted add the parsnips and carrots.

Saute until the vegetables are golden.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Belgian IPA

When I saw that Two Roads was releasing a new brewery-only beer this week, I made sure that I would be there the day it hit the taps.

The beer is a Belgian IPA (7% ABV) - is brewed with Belgian and American malts and fermented with a distinctive Belgian Ale yeast that adds a spicy element to the blend. The result is a flavor reminiscent of both the old and the new world.

It pours a haze amber with a big, fluffy pile of dense foam that clings to the glass like nobody's business and leaves behind amazing lacing.

The aroma smells of wheat, fruit, and Belgian yeast funk. It also has a distinct Two Roads beer smell.

This is an interesting brew. It's a little sweet and a little bitter. Plenty of hoppy goodness to appease the IPA lover but the hops are not overwhelming.  There is wheat and sweet malts to balance out the bitterness. All this is complimented by fruity, spicy funkiness so commonly associated with Belgian ale yeasts. The finish is dry and bitter.

The mouthfeel is medium with nice carbonation. It is smooth and somewhat creamy.

This really is a tasty brew an my current Two Roads favorite! I like it. I like it a lot. If you're a fan of Belgian style beers and IPAs then you will like it, too.

Overall: very good