Thursday, May 28, 2015

Sierra Nevada Ovila Abbey Saison with Mandarin Oranges and Peppercorns

I see it! The light at the end of this cloudy, rainy tunnel! This weekend shows promise of sunshine and 90 degree weather. I appreciate the rain, but I can't remember the last dry day we had! I enjoy NW style beer, but not NW style weather. Just to throw some figures at you, we've already had over double the monthly average rainfall in inches, and almost triple the rainfall of May 2014. Change seasons, already!

Speaking of seasons...

Sierra Nevada Ovila Abbey Saison with Mandarin Oranges and Peppercorns - Collaboration with Monks of the Abbey of New Clairvaux
(For those of you scratching your heads, "saison" mean's "season" in French.)

BG Poured from a 12.7 fl oz cork & cage bottle into a tall stemmed tulip, 7.5% ABV, Packaged 05/05/15

A Bright copper in color with almost three fingers of fluffy eggshell foam. It has better clarity than usual for a saison - only slightly hazy. Lacing is nice and sticky.

A Smells like a malty orange soda! The peppercorns match well with the spicy phenols from the yeast. Sweet citrus, toffee, biscuit, stinky feet - but it’s somehow not off-putting. 

T Hmm… it’s got a weird banana, burned caramel pudding thing going on. Sweet mandarin juice, angel food cake, over-baked cookies, lemon zest, very peppery. There’s some citrusy hops for support, but it’s fairly masked. Overall, it’s sticky sweet with a peppery zip.

M Creamy, sticky, a touch of alcoholic warming, moderate carbonation, med-full body

A Burnt toffee

C Not a fan! But that doesn’t mean it’s not good. It’s hard to separate the yeast character from the mandarin and peppercorn, which means they’re paired very well. The combination of flavors just isn’t my thing. I think it’s the peppercorn. I like it for seasoning food, but not for seasoning saisons. One person’s meh is another person’s yeh! … or something.

FP Banana pancakes with walnuts and real maple syrup. Lightly panko breaded halibut and mixed greens salad with grape tomatoes, red onion, a citrus herb vinaigrette, and a generous topping of fresh cracked pepper. Crème brûlée with a citrus glaze.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Boulevard Brewing Smokestack Series Sixth Glass Quadrupel Ale

I don't know why, but it has been on the chillier side in Salt Lake as of late. It has sent me downing mugs of tea, layering up with blankets, and sipping on pints of stout. The swing in temperature brings a renewed appreciation for cold weather libations, and I'm happy to partake. 

Boulevard Brewing Smokestack Series Sixth Glass Quadrupel Ale

BG Poured from a 12 fl oz (355 ml) bottle into a snifter, 10.5% ABV, Best By 01/28/17

A Coppery-orange in color with ruby highlights, and almost two fingers of sandy foam. Lacing sticks in splotches here and there. The head looks very creamy and persistent. It’s brilliant, though the color is fairly dark. 

A Belgian yeast phenolics, candied plums, baking spices, sticky sweet caramel, a touch of fusel alcohols, dark raisins, Portuguese bread roll, crunch berries cereal, crystal malt, a little bit of dry grass, mild floral hops for balance

T Boozy! I get strong alcohol from start to finish. It goes down like a very gentle Canadian whiskey. Equal parts caramel and dark fruit join that up front 10.5% to create a sort of bourbon caramel covered cherry chocolate experience. Bran muffin, cinnamon, toasted cashews, dark raisins, molasses. 

M High carbonation creates fluffiness. Full body. Carbonation and alcohol join forces to give a decent bite. Alcoholic warmth lasts forever.

A Cinnamon and brown sugar oatmeal, spiced rum

C This is exactly what the doctor ordered for a long bout of cooler, rainy Utah weather. There’s enough alcoholic warmth in this glass to keep me from turning the heat on in mid-May. Sounds weird, but feels Where’s my sunshine? Why am I wearing my winter coat? It doesn't matter. Sixth glass or first, this quad is here to warm you the whole way.

FP Apple and raisin stuffed chicken breast with rosemary mashed potatoes and buttered asparagus. French toast sticks with bourbon maple syrup for dipping. Warm bread pudding with a caramel drizzle.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Saison Dupont

Being really into saisons lately, it's only fitting that I finally try the benchmark of the entire style. Brasserie Dupont has been making their saison since 1844. Woo! That's only a few years younger than the oldest brewery in America (1829). Nobody lasts that long unless they're doing it right!
Brasserie Dupont Saison Dupont

BG Poured from a 750 ml (1 pt 9.4 fl oz) green glass bottle into a stemmed tulip glass, 6.5% ABV. There’s no date code, but the cork reads “2.014”. I’m not sure if this has any significance. 

A Golden honey in color with 2.5 fingers of soft white foam that sticks to the glass. The foam looks silky and enticing. Slightly hazy.

A Lots of yeast-derived fruitiness - ripe apricots, late harvest white grapes, wildflower honey. Horse blanket and sweat are brought out with a gentle swirl of the glass. Light graininess, a bit of spice, mild citrus.

T Funky! An off-dry impact of white grapes gives way to tangerine rind, hard graininess, and bleu cheese. It’s rather bitter without being hoppy. Dry grass, biscuit, honeydew, toastiness, some umami from the yeast. Gobs of honey on the finish, though it comes off as very dry.

M High carbonation gives a fluffy mouthfeel. Med-light body, and slightly mouth-drying.

A Rather bitter red apple skin, a little papery

C Very interesting! Beers infected with Brett or other wild microorganisms always leave me scrounging for words to describe what I’m tasting. I’ll have to figure out a better vocabulary for these types! I’m positive this is oxidized. It has the telltale honey/waxy/papery flavors, but I’m taking it with a grain of salt. This is a great beer, and would pair well with most meals.

FP Garden fresh bruschetta. Spaghetti with an herbed red sauce, green bell peppers, and browned Italian sausage. Sourdough toast topped with lightly spiced pear jam and bleu cheese crumbles.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Getting The Most Out Of Your Beer

Check it out! I recently wrote a blog for the Red Rock Brewing website about getting the most out of your beer. You can go read it here.

My friend Noodle was so kind as to let me use her darling Bernese mountain dog pup for this picture. Her name is Pippa, and she has an instagram: pippatheberner. What a cutie!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA

What a strange three days it has been! Two days ago, I was hiking in 76 degree weather in shorts and a sleeveless shirt, sweating and wearing sunscreen. It has been snowing now for 24 hours, and we've seen about 10 inches of accumulation from it. This is more than I've seen it snow all winter! I've never nursed a sunburn on my shoulders in a snowstorm before.

Tea has been my companion for most of the day, but it's time to switch over to beer! Thanks for this one, Eric Kammerer!

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA

BG Poured from a 12 fl oz (355ml) bottle into a stemmed tulip, 6% ABV, Bottled on 02/06/15, 9.5 weeks old

A Golden to light copper in color with a finger of snow white suds on top. It quickly shrinks down into thin layer of tiny bubbles, leaving the sides of the glass well laced. It’s brilliantly clear.

A Herbal and earthy hops, saltine crackers, tropical fruits like pineapple and grapefruit, gardenia, slightly toasty, Pils malt. The aroma is light. Nothing in-your-face. As it warms up a touch, more piney hop aromas are drawn out.

T Lots more pineapple and grapefruit. Toasted honey wheat bread, sharp cheddar cheese, solid malt backbone, lots of floral notes. Mild bitterness I would better associate with a pale ale. 

M A little creamy, medium carbonation, the finish is a tiny bit astringent

A A bouquet of flowers… that you just ate. It’s more pleasant than it sounds. =)

C This is a perfect example of an East Coast IPA. Compare it to Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and you’ll find one beer is much hoppier than the other, and it’s probably not the one you think (SN PA is hoppier than DF IPA). In general, IPAs are more hoppy and bitter than pale ales, but East vs. West puts a different dynamic into play. West Coast cranks everything up a notch in the hop department. Is that better? No, just different. This IPA has a lovely even balance of gentle hop derived tropical fruit and bready malt backbone. It’s very sessionable, and won’t kill your palate. 

FP Tortilla chips with picante salsa. Chevre salad with pistachios, grapefruit, and a creamy herb vinaigrette. Peach pie.

Curious about the 90 minute IPA? Check it out here.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Lindemans Faro Lambic

Faro is a substyle of lambic that was first imported to the US in 2010. It is a blended lambic that is sweetened and then pasteurized to prevent further fermentation. Sugar is added to help balance the tart acidity of the beer, and make it more palatable. The result is a fruity, sweet, spontaneously fermented lambic-style brew. The sugary, fruit-flavored lambics aren't really my thing, but I've never tried a Faro before, so I had to grab this!

BG Poured from a 12 fl oz (355ml) green capped and corked bottle into a Chimay chalice, 4.2% ABV, "L K21LFA" Bottled 11/21/12 - Good thing lambics just get better with age!

A Iced tea amber in color with reddish hues and fairly large chunks of sediment that eventually rest at the bottom of the glass. Not really any foam, but a film of suds is present for a few minutes after pouring. 

A This sucker is potent! I could almost take notes on the aroma while my nose is a foot away from the glass. Getting my nose up closer, this is double sugar-coated peach rings that have been liquefied and fermented. Red apples, raspberries, white peaches, a little bit of cherry. That lambic tartness comes through and gets my salivary glands going. When I swirl the glass, some familiar lambic sweaty gym sock stank comes through. It’s really just overwhelmingly sweet smelling.

T Have you ever made sweet tea and accidentally put too much sugar in, and you don’t notice until you taste it? That’s what this is like. Sweet and tart raspberries, mango nectar, the tiniest touch of funk rests on the tongue on the finish. Artificially flavored seltzer water. It’s borderline sour, but the syrupy sweetness drowns it out. Peach pit, Arnold Palmer, fruit leather, turbinado sugar. 

M High carbonation, slightly mouth puckering, surprisingly off-dry finish

A Tart cherries, a little tobacco, some astringency

C This is as sweet as fruit juice, and more like a wine spritzer than a beer. Nonetheless, I’m sure it’s right up someones alley, just not mine. I prefer a straight lambic or a gueuze. But I’m happy to have had the opportunity to try it! 

FP Pear and candied walnut pizza with caramelized onions. Chèvre cheesecake with graham cracker crust. Salted caramels.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro

I'm sure many of you are familiar with how Guinness in a can works. It has what they call a "widget" inside of the can that releases nitrogen when the can is opened, effectively replicating that creamy mouthfeel and visual cascading effect that's most often enjoyed on draft. In 2011, the geniuses over at Left Hand Brewing Co. figured out a way to bottle a nitrogen beer without a widget. After an extensive 15 minute research session, I am here to tell you I have no idea how it works. I don't know if it's a dearly kept secret or something, but I wasn't able to find any sort of scientific or dumbed down explanation of this black magic. If I find one, I'll be sure to put it up here!

Nitro beers are very visual, and if you pour them wrong, you're failing the beer. Pay attention, kids! This is how it's done.

You can read more about Left Hand's nitro beers here.

Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro

BG Poured from a 12 fl oz (355ml) bottle into a nonic pint, 6% ABV, Enjoy By 06/11/15

A Dark chestnut in color with ruby highlights. Two fingers of super thick, khaki colored froth rest on top. I could watch that gorgeous cascade of beer settle in the glass all day. Sheets of froth cover the glass as I drink, not unlike my upper lip.

A Equal parts sweet and roasted malt. Plenty of coffee, nuttiness, and a hint of oak.

T Oh my… a great sadness has just come upon me. I have found another favorite beer that doesn’t distribute to Utah. This. Is. Incredible! Vanilla bean, coffee, and dark chocolate all wrapped up in a soft blanket of sweet lactose. Walnuts, fresh cream, roastiness. And everything is so perfectly balanced. This is actually perfect. 

M The mouthfeel of this beer contributes tremendously to the overall impression. Nitrogen gives beer a silky, milkshake texture that you simply never get from carbon dioxide alone. 

A Cafe latte, nougat

C This is as close to a beer milkshake as you will ever get. This just might be a perfect beer. I lend not just my left hand, by my right as well in applauding the creators of this masterful milk stout! This isn’t an extreme beer. The subtleties of flavor are all in balance, creating a flavorful but not overwhelming beer. I wouldn’t change a thing. Bravo Left Hand Brewing!

FP Buttered whole grain toast with avocados and a dash of salt and pepper. Fish and chips, no sauce. Angel food cake.