|Brewery||Saucony Creek Brewing Co.|
|Style||Imperial Pumpkin Ale|
|Color||J-honey peach colored, K-hazy amber honey|
|Head||J-good amount of head, lace-like, K-creamy, off-white head|
|Aroma J/K||J-sour apple, K-pumpkin bread|
|Mouthfeel||J-smooth yet crisp, K-full body with a spritzy carbonation|
|Hops||J-well balanced, K-1|
|Repeater||J-oh yeah, I liked this one. K – definitely|
|Comments||J-not overstrong like some imperial beers are, very drinkable, a little bit oily – but in a good way. Pleasant burn on the back of the throat. Strong clove finish, very drinkable with depth and substance, but on the lighter side of the imperials so it’s easy to drink. Very fall-like. Didn’t taste any maple syrup though… K-Nice malt and pumpkin flavor, a bready beer that reminds me more of pumpkin bread than pumpkin pie (and I do love pumpkin bread!). Can taste a touch of the maple, and the clove really comes through on the finish. The imperial aspect comes through with a mild warming alcohol burn on the finish.|
|Beer Advocate Score||89|
|Brewery Notes||Ale brewed with butternut squash with maple syrup & spices added.|
Our First Pumpkin Beer tasted (note, these are in no particular order)
J- Janine (the wife)
All Scores are on a 1-5 scale wiht 5 being the highest
|Name||Night Owl Pumpkin Ale|
|Color||J- Cloudy & honey colored K- orange amber, cloudy|
|Head||J- minimal K-off white, thin, fizzy|
|Aroma J/K||J- apple cinnamon spice K-mild, ginger, cinnamon|
|Mouthfeel||J- bitter on palate and main part of tongue, but smooth, thin K- medium and fizzy|
|Comments||J-lemon/citrusy overpowers the spices/ refreshing, clean, not warm and autumy – kinda California autumn. K- initally sweet with a nice blend of all pumpkin spices, dry and somewhat bitter finish with a touch of citrus. Definately less sweet and a bit more hoppy than your average pumpkin ale.|
|Beer Advocate Score||88|
|Brewery Notes||150lbs pumpkin each batch, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and allspice added, horizon hops|
Ahh…4 years gone, but still drinking good beers and back to blogging. My wife, Janine, suggested that we celebrate autumn by reviewing some of the pumpkin beers that I collected on a recent business trip to Maryland. Hope these posts inspire you to put a few logs on the fire, sit back, watch the leaves fall end enjoy some good pumpkin beers… I’ll be writing with my guest co-blogger and wife sniffing, sipping and enjoying beside me. So you’ll get the male and female points of view. We welcome your comments to see who you agree with more. Cheers!
If you found this blog interesting, please check out my new beer blog at:
Steak is typically off my menu when the weather turns cold. I usually don’t even see the point in eating steak unless it is cooked on my charcoal grill. But my wife found a great marinade recipe (and no, the marinade did not include beer!), and with a nice bottle of stout I’d been wanting to try on hand, I gave the broiler a try, and was so happy I did.
Broiled Flank Steak with Mushrooms
For the steak:
1 to 1-1/2 lb Flank Steak
1 medium onion
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tamari or regular soy sauce
Season steak with salt and pepper, and put into a large plastic zip-top bag. Chop onion, and stir together in a bowl with the other ingredients. Pour into bag with steak, and marinade for several hours, or up to 2 days, turning occasionally.
When ready to cook, remove steak from bag, discard marinade, and put onto broiler pan. Set oven rack to 3” to 4” below broiler, and set broiler on high. Cook anywhere from 6 to 8 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the steak and your desired doneness.
Transfer steak to a cutting board, and cut at a 45-degree angle across the grain into thin slices. Serve topped with mushrooms and sauce per recipe below:
For the mushrooms:
3/4 lb portobello mushrooms
3/4 lb white mushrooms
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 stick of butter
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2-1/2 tablespoons tamari or regular soy sauce
1/8 cup sugar
Wisk together the vinegar, soy sauce and sugar in a bowl. Set aside.
Halve, then slice the portobellos into 1/4” thick slices. Put 1/4 of a stick of butter in a pan over medium heat, add about half of the chopped onion, cook for 1 minute, then add the portabellas. Stir occasionally, until mushrooms are well-browned and most of the liquid has evaporated from the pan. Set aside in a bowl.
Slice the white mushrooms into 1/4” thick slices. Put the other 1/4 stick of butter in the pan, and add the rest of the chopped onion. Cook for 1 minute, then add the white mushrooms. Again, stir occasionally, until mushrooms are well-browned and most of the liquid has evaporated from the pan. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the already cooked portobellos, along with the vinegar-soy sauce mixture. Allow to boil for approximately 3 minutes, or until sauce thickens slightly. Serve over sliced steak.
My perfect beer pairing for this steak is Green Flash Stout. Only recently available in New Jersey, Green Flash Brewing was founded six years ago just outside the micro-brew mecca of San Diego, California. Well-known for their hop-heavy West Coast IPA and other hoppy brews, their stout is a more balanced offering, but still with a noticeable hop presence.
It pours a deep ruby-cola hue, almost black, with a frothy, foamy head the color of chocolate milk. An initial caramel and brown sugar sweetness is soon followed by an earthy middle of cocoa powder and bakers chocolate. The finish is earthy as well, with flavors of roasted walnut, sasparilla, and bitter root; just enough bitterness to balance the initial sweetness. The mouthfeel is thick and creamy; rich enough to be memorable, but not so rich that you can’t finish a pint or two.
The sweet, bitter, and earthy flavors in the stout both compliment and contrast the sweet and tangy flavors in the steak marinade and mushroom sauce. While both the steak and the stout are extrememly enjoyable on their own, the pairing brings both to new heights.
The stout style was originated by the Guinness Brewery of Ireland, who brewed several types of porter, including their “Extra Stout Porter”, a particularly rich and flavorful take on the porter style of beer so popular in England at the time. Eventually, the word Porter was dropped from the name, and Guinness became the mother of all stouts to come. Key to a stout is the roasted and chocolate barley malts that provide the distinctive flavor and color to the style. While I’ve found quite a few stouts over the years I enjoy more than Guinness, I must still tip my hat to (and enjoy the occasional pint of) the original.
“Fermentation equals civilization.”
– John Ciardi
Just a post to share various local beer news and happenings in Northern New Jersey and the Tri-State Region this month.
Boaks Beer Launched
Cheers and best of luck to a great homebrewer who has now gone pro! Brian Boak, award-winning homebrewer and president of my local homebrew club (http://www.jerseybrewers.com/), has now launched his own line of commercially-produced specialty craft beer under the label Boaks Beer (http://www.boaksbeer.com/index.php).
His Monster Mash Russian Imperial Stout is now available in restaurants, bars and stores in New Jersey. While the Russian Imperial Stout style in general isn’t a favorite of mine, this one is a solidly good beer, and is opening to great reviews on beeradvocate (http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/16792/41239) and ratebeer (http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/boaks-monster-mash-imperial-stout/83776/)
Even more highly anticipated (in my opinion) is his Two Blind Monks Belgian-style Dubbel which should be available later this month. If it is anything like the subtley spiced, rich and malty homebrewed Dubbel that Brian has shared at our homebrew club meetings and at last Fall’s Brewtopia Fest in NYC, this is one well-worth seeking out.
We wish you all the best, and look forward to your future releases!
Still crazy after all these beers
Follow the link below to an article on the excellent Captain Lawrence Brewing Company and the state of homebrewing in Westchester County, New York: http://www.lohud.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080305/LIFESTYLE01/803050302
The Beer Essentials
Follow the link below to an article on the Hudson Valley’s own Defiant Brewing and homebrew club the Ramapo Valley Ruffians: http://www.lohud.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2008803050305
1st Manhattan Cask Ale Festival
Cask-beer afficianado and expert Alex Hall, recently featured in the New York Times (www.nytimes.com/2007/10/24/dining/24pour.html), is organizing Manhattan’s First Cask Ale Festival in conjunction with (and being held at) the Chelsea Brewing Company on March 28-30. For more information, and eye-popping list of breweries expected to be providing casks, visit:
It Must Be Spring…
if Maibock is now on tap! Ramstein, brewers of some excellent German-style lagers and wheat beers, will have the debut of this year’s Maibock (a traditional German hoppy sweet strong pale lager typically tapped in May) at their March Open House on Saturday, March 8th from 2 – 4 p.m. at the High Point Brewing Company in Butler, NJ. Their open house includes samples, a brewery tour, and the chance to purchase growler-fills of their draft-only beers (including their Maibock). Visit the brewery website at:
Out of Town Events: Philly Craft Beer Week
A celebration of the (self-proclaimed) America’s Best Beer-Drinking City, there are numerous events, tastings, tours, dinners and even a breakfast (ah, yes, “Wheat Beer! The Breakfast of Champions”). For more information, visit:
A Belgian Dubbel is a true treat to those who love dark, rich and complex beers that pair well with hearty food. The raisins in the following recipe compliment the dark fruit flavors of the beer, while the carbonation and notes of spice in the beer help cut the sweetness of the rich sauce. While nearly any Belgian or Belgian-style Dubbel will do, I tried this particular dish with a Dubbel by Westmalle, a Trappist brewery where the beer is produced under the watchful eyes of the monks of the Trappist Abbey of Westmalle.
I suggest making homemade spaetzle (recipe further below) to accompany the pork, but egg noodles will do in a pinch. The pork comes out amazingly tender, so be patient during the relatively long cooking time. It is well worth the wait.
Slow Braised Pork with Raisins and Balsamic
Serves 3-4 people
1-1/2 to 2-pound boneless pork butt, cut into 3-4 equal pieces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 large onion, diced
1-1/2 cups raisins soaked in warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence
1 teaspoon thyme
Preheat oven to 325°F. Salt and pepper the pork. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Add pork to pot and cook until browned on all four sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer pork to plate; discard fat in pot. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in same pot over medium heat. Drain the water from the raisins, then add onions and raisins and sauté until onions are soft, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Add sugar and stir for about 30 seconds. Add vinegar and bring mixture to boil. Cook until slightly reduced, about 2-3 minutes. Add broth, all herbs, and pork with juices from plate. Bring to boil. Cover pot and transfer to oven. Bake (braise) for 45 minutes. Using tongs, turn pork over and continue braising until meat is very tender, about 45 minutes longer. Remove pork from pot, and place on top of spaetzel (or noodles) and cover.
Boil cooking liquid over high heat until thickened, about 4-5 minutes. Ladle from pot, leaving any fat or oils behind. Pour over pork and serve.
2 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup minced parsley
Butter to taste
Lightly grease a large bowl with butter. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, blend flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in eggs and milk, and mix to form a soft batter. Mix in the parsley.
Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Taking about a 1/2 cup of batter at a time and using a flat spatula, press the batter directly into boiling water through 1/4-inch holes on coarse grater or colander. Stir spaetzle gently and boil for 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, scoop spaetzle from pot, drain well, and transfer to buttered bowl.
Definition: Trappist Beer
Only seven breweries in the world are authorized to call label their beers as Trappist. Six are from Belgium (Orval, Chimay, Westvleteren, Rochefort, Westmalle and Achel), and one is from The Netherlands (Koningshoeven). These beers must be brewed within the walls of a Trappist abbey, either directly by or under supervision of Trappist monks. The monks started brewing to both provide for their own consumption and also to provide funds for the upkeep of the abbey and their charitable works.
Trappist beers are typically either Dubbels (dark, rich ales with flavors of dried fruit, brown sugar, and caramel) or Tripels (light in color, but strong in alcohol ales where often the flavor of the particular grains used comes through). In both Dubbels and Tripels, notes of spice, distinctive to each brewery, are a result of the particular strain of yeast used to ferment (no actual spice is added to the brew itself).
Many often believe the terms “Dubbel” and “Tripel” refer to the strength of the beer. However, the mathematics are not exact… a Dubbel at around 7% ABV isn’t double the strength of a typical lager, and a Tripel at around 10% isn’t triple-strength. The terms may derive from the relative amount of grain used. And why, may you ask, can you not find a Trappist “Single”? It is actually called a “Simple” is a low-strength beer sometimes brewed by the monks soley for their own consumption.
“In heaven there is no beer…
That’s why we drink it here!”
– Frankie Yankovic
Earlier this month, Denver, Colorado was home to one of the greatest gatherings of beer under a single roof… over 400 breweries from over 40 states serving over 1,800 different beers to over 46,000 beer lovers! It was the 2007 Great American Beer Festival, and I was lucky enough to be in attendance.
Honestly, I must say, the entire experience was a bit overwhelming (in a good way!). And even by attending 2 of the 4 sold-out sessions, I couldn’t even attempt to take it all in. And while the line to get inside half-an-hour before the doors opened on Friday night stretched around nearly 3-sides of the convention center, I got inside relatively quickly, and with a few exceptions, rarely waited more than a minute at most brewery booths before being served. While certainly the largest beer festival I’ve ever attended (and probably the largest in the world), I’d also have to say it was also the most well-run and well-organized.
But enough about the organization… we’re here to talk about BEER. And there was some truly amazing beer to be had. This blog entry will focus on some of the truly BIG and one-of-a-kind beers at the fest. Probably one of the longest lines at the GABF was well worth the wait: New Glarus Brewing Company out of Wisconsin makes some absolutely outstanding fruit beers and barrel-aged beers. While the one-ounce samples were hardly enough for a full-blown detailed review, their Wisconsin Belgian Red brewed with a pound of local cherries in every bottle; the sweet and tart Raspberry Tart; the big and complex Quadruple with notes of warming alcohol and dried fruit; and their vanilla-tinged Bourbon-Barrel Aged Bock were just all outstanding. Unfortunately, they do not distribute beyond their home state, meaning I’ll just have to find an excuse to visit Wisconsin someday soon.
I also endured waits to try two perennial favorites at the fest… Alaskan Smoked Porter and Samuel Adams Utopias. Alaskan Smoked Porteris the most-award winning beer in the history of the fest, and this year picked up two more medals…. And while medals are not always the best judge of a great beer, it is hard to argue with beer judges who keep recognizing this brew year after year. A truly unique and delicious beer, you can read more about it in a previous blog entry here.
To sum up Utopias, I’ll leave it to the brewer I visited after savoring a sample to whom I explained I needed a drink of water to clear my palate before trying anything else. He said to me “Utopias? That’s not beer!” And he meant nothing negative by that comment. It just really is unlike anything most people would call beer. It is the strongest beer ever brewed at 25% ABV (alcohol by volume), which is equivalent to 50-proof spirits (some rums, whiskeys, etc.) It is thick, syrupy, complex, with an alcohol bite, and no carbonation. It’s brings to mind whiskey, bourbon, even cognac. And at upwards of $100 a bottle, only occasionally brewed, and a very limited supply, it’s unlikely most will ever have the chance to try it again.
The entire lineup of about a dozen beers offered by Dogfish Head at the GABF consisted of brews of at least 9% ABV or greater. Not that big beers are necessarily better beers, but brewer Sam Calagione really knows how to push the limits of the brewing process. His World Wide Stout at 18% ABV is arguably the strongest dark beer in the world, and is incredibly dark, rich and tasty. His Fort is brewed with over a TON of raspberries. And his Red & Whiteis a 10% ABV witbier aged in Pinot Noir barrels, making for a very interesting merging of an earthy wine with dark fruit (cherries, raisins, berries) flavors and a light crisp beer with spice and citrus flavors.
Next up, trends spotted (and sampled) at the GABF…
“The Great American Beer Festival is the swirling, dynamic, luminous core of what is now the most exciting beer culture on the planet.”
– Garrett Oliver
The last of our Santa Barabra-area brewery visits takes us south along the coast to Carpinteria, home to Island Brewing Company. Just a short drive off the 101-freeway, tucked into an industrial complex, we find a lively little storefront with a distant ocean view across the railroad tracks and over the green fields of a park just beyond. Dozens of patrons, a few bringing along their babies and dogs, congregate around 5 p.m. inside at a simple bar and outside on the asphalt patio wrapped in a bamboo fence. There is a laid-back vibe here, casual conversation over pints and pretzels (just about the only items served here), with the California sun and surf providing the only needed atmosphere. You can just imagine Jimmy Buffet hanging out here after a hard day at work… wait a minute, does Jimmy really ever have a “hard day at work”?
Six beers are available on tap, with 22 oz bottles of most offerings avaible to take home. We skip the light lager, and start with the Kolsch, a relatively light German-style ale that with its light color and body most casual drinkers would mistake for a pilsner. Island’s version has an aroma nearly identical to Heineken (from the noble hops), but a richer taste of bready malt and clover-honey sweetness. A nice alternative to a lager on a warm summer evening.
Both their Paradise Pale Ale and IPA have a distinctive “tropical” taste with hints of guava and passionfruit resulting from similar hop varieties used in both beers. This flavor gives Island’s beers a signature character to make them memorable among literally hundreds of Pale Ales and IPA’s produced by most American breweries. While the pale ale is more balanced with biscuit and caramel flavors from the malt, the IPA is more assertively hopped with grapefruit flavor and aroma, and a more pronounced lingering bitterness.
And while the Pale Ale and IPA are all about the hops, their Nut Brown and Jubilee ales are where the malts take center stage. The brown has a deep rich caramel flavor, with a sweetness offset by roasted and bitter notes of walnut and peanut shells. The Jubilee is made in the style of an Old Ale, a big rich dark malty beer that one patron described as the extreme take on the Nut Brown. We found Jubilee to be extrememly smooth and very drinkable despite its relatively high alcohol content, and the best beer overall of this very fine bunch.
Definition: Old Ale
While many think of Barleywines when it comes to high-alcohol beers that are meant to be sipped and savored, and can be cellared much like wine, the British Old Ale style also falls under this definition. Old Ales are big malty beers, often having flavors of dark fruit (dates, raisins, figs), and a noticable warming alcohol note in their finish. Even with their high alcohol content, there is still plenty of residual sugar in these beers, and their low carbonation and somewhat syrupy mouthfeel make them ideal for slowly sipping out of a brandy snifter.
“Of hard old ale… according to my mind, is better than all the wine in the world.”
– George Borrow
No, I haven’t changed this blog from a place for imbibers to a study in Greek literature… no, I’m writing about our favorite yellow beer-lovin’ fella and his trip to the Kwik-E-Mart. Now Homer Simpson can get everything he’s ever dreamed of in a single pint… a pint of ice cream that is!
Ben & Jerry’s is releasing a one-time only flavor, “Duff & D’oh-Nuts”, for the premeire of The Simpson’s Movie in Springfield, Vermont. Yes, that’s Duff as in Duff Beer, and D’oh-Nuts as in Homer’s favorite breakfast, coffee-break treat and late-night snack. And those crazy folks at Ben & Jerry’s are putting both of these into ice cream. They say it will be “a combination of chocolate and cream stout ice creams with glazed chocolate donuts.” Hmmm… donuts…
Read more about it here!
And for those who can’t make it to Vermont to try this delicious sounding concoction, you can always add your own donuts to Ben & Jerry’s only other beer-flavored ice cream, “Black & Tan”.
“Ah, beer, my one weakness. My Achille’s heel, if you will.”
– Homer Simpson