30 May 2009

AHS American Red Ale

First post in a while. 

Just a follow up on this homebrew: Austin Homebrew's American Red Ale, mini-mash method. It turned out pretty good (maybe it will get even better). It's less muddy than my picture makes is seem, but not very red (certainly not as crimson as the copy of The Crimson Petal and the White upon which it sits). A definite Cascade hop flavor comes through, although much subtler than in so many American pale ales. But this isn't a pale, it's a red ale. 

I might have liked a touch more malt flavor, but this is really more of an easy drinker, a good warm weather beer at that. It seems to appeal to "civilian" beer drinkers, though hop heads might find it a little dull. No idea how much of a difference mini-mash makes versus extract + specialty grain.

For my sixth brew, I took a chance on all grain, more or less. I'll try to post soon.

08 May 2009

Green Brewing

I've been really busy at work and home, so not much posting recently, and maybe a light load in the future.

Here's a piece from the Center from American Progress (a left-wing think tank) about environmentally friendly brewing practices at New Belgium, Brooklyn Brewery, and others. A lot of this we beer geeks have heard already, but I didn't know, for example, that Brooklyn pays farmers to pick up their spent grain to feed to their livestock.

28 April 2009

Dieu du Ciel Corne du Diable/Nils Oscar IPA (CAN/SWE)

Two IPAs from unexpected parts: Quebec and Sweden. Accordingly, both are on the pricey side.

Dieu du Ciel Corne du Diable: The devil's horn. It's in the style of "la cote ouest de l'Amerique du Nord," and it tastes it. Pretty golden amber with lacy head, it smells of Cascade dry hopping. Medium-to-full in body and lightly carbonated. Malty, hoppy (though nothing ridiculous), grapefruit and pine. Tingles the ribs afterwards. 

Nils Oscar India Pale Ale: A classier label, I think, although possibly a bit dull. This one also claims a US influence, with "American Amarillo hops to give the exotic aroma of tropical fruit." It seems lighter in color and in body (I didn't drink them side by side), and fizzier. It is in fact vaguely fruity tasting (not citrusy, as I tend to think of Amarillos), and maybe spicy/earthy. No IPA hop blast, but it's pleasant. What semi-spoils it for me is the finish, which is dry and in fact chalky. The effects of a less than fresh bottle? I don't know. I don't regret that it isn't an American-style hop bomb, although others may, but it loses points for the powder. 

For me, this is now two winners from Dieu du Ciel.

24 April 2009

Brewhouse Honey Blonde

Just in time for the warm weather, my Brewhouse Honey Blonde, modified for five gallon rather than six, and with WLP008 yeast rather than the enclosed Cooper's.

It turned out good. Orange-tinged, slightly hazy (though more clear than my picture lets on). It has what I consider to be more of a soda pop carbonation -- plenty of what feel like bigger bubbles -- which is more appropriate for this style.  The honey flavor is actually buried underneath what I think are yeast flavors. I probably should have used a cleaner yeast; then again, I kind of like this taste. Without it, it might be kind of a boring beer.

So thumb's up on the easy to make, but pricey, Brewhouse Honey Blonde.


22 April 2009

Mel Kiper Drinking Game

For diehard NFL fans who intend to spend all weekend watching the draft (I would be one but the weather supposed to be great): the Mel Kiper Drinking Game

Some of the rules:

1) Anytime Mel says this player is productive take a drink
2) Anytime he says this player is great value take a drink
3) Anytime a general manager says Mel Kiper has never worn a jock strap take a drink.

The "jock strap" debate was over the Colts taking Trev Alberts over Trent Dilfer in 1994. On hindsight, I'm not sure who was right. Alberts had his career ruined by injury, Dilfer kind of sucked (the Colts seemed better with Jim Harbough), but then piggybacked his way to a Super Bowl. Meanwhile, Kurt Warner went undrafted that year, so I suppose no one knew what they were talking about.

19 April 2009

Ellicottville Pantius Droppus (NY)

I noticed that Beerjanglin' gushed over this foray into big beer from Ellicottville Brewing Company (EBC), so I figured I'd give it a try. Pantius Droppus is an Imperial Pale Ale --  not an Imperial IPA. I wondered what that distinction meant, and then recalled that I didn't even like EBC's grapefruit rind pale ale.  So would this be just more of a bad thing? In addition, it's claim of a "robust Cascade dry hop" made me think I knew what I was getting into, nothing particularly original.

But then there's the sour, enough so that I wondered whether my bottle had gone bad. It turns out, others have noted the sour notes as well, so I'll assume it's intentional. Here's the thing: I have yet to "appreciate" sour beers, but I like Pantius Droppus a good deal. The sourness isn't overwhelming, but stands on top of other aspects of the beer: citrus and sweet-leaning malts, slight grapefruit bitterness underneath. The high alcohol doesn't comes through. It still leans more to sipper than gulper, but isn't oppressively heavy. 

About $7.50 a bomber for 22 ounces of 11.5% ABV isn't a bad price at all, and I greatly appreciate the uniqueness of Pantius Droppus, a beer that Biggus Dickus would have loved.

18 April 2009

AHS American Red Ale

This is my fifth batch of homebrew, although I haven't tasted my fourth batch yet (maybe tomorrow; I'm pretty patient). My first partial mash, using a kit from Austin Homebrew.

American Red Ale
5 lbs. Munich LME
1.5 lbs. Munich malt
1.5 lbs. 2-row
0.5 lbs. Cara-Munich
0.25 lbs. Special B
1 oz. Cascade (7.5%) each at 60, 15, 5. 
Windsor yeast

The grains smelled like Grape Nuts flakes.

The AHS instructions specified using a stockpot (and large grain bag) for the partial mash, but I used a 4-gallon cooler (and grain bag).  I figured this would hold the heat better, but (a) I forgot to pour hot water into the cooler ahead of time to raise the internal temperature, and (b) the grains and strike water (two gallons) barely filled half the cooler. So I lost more heat than I think I should have, finishing the 45 minute mash rest just below 150 degrees. But I don't know if that's a big problem with a mini-mash. My OG was 1.057 instead of the expected 1.053, but I don't trust my gravity readings that closely. 

The whole thing has smelled strongly of Cascades from the first day until bottling day (today). That's the "American" part, but I wonder if AHS adjusts its recipes for AA, with 7.5% is on the high side for Cascades. Windsor yeast is known to leave a fairly high FG, which is part of the reason this isn't an APA, I guess. The yeast was slow to get going, which worried me a bit. Last known gravity was 1.020 (expected 1.014), but my hydrometer broke so I didn't get a bottling day measurement.

Four weeks in primary, no secondary, and now it will be three weeks in the bottle before I crack one. I do like this mini-mash procedure and look forward to using it more, probably with more grains and less extract. Possibly I could try an all-grain half batch, but my weak electric stove limits my ability to boil too much wort.

13 April 2009

Lake Placid Ubu Ale (NY)

This beer's claim to fame is that Bill Clinton tried it and liked it so much he asked the brewery to send a few growlers to the White House. Clintons successor drank so much alcohol as a young man that he lost his privilege by the time became President. Somewhat predictably, this has lead some to think there's a rule that the President should never drink. And all this after Obama was accused of disliking beer, and drinking anti-union beer, and lord knows what else.

Ubu was (is?) the name of a chocolate labrador retriever. The beer is described as a strong ale (7% ABV), which I think is a fairly open style. It's dark -- slightly ruby -- and comes across as a bit stout-like, but not of the dry, highly roasted variety. There's chocolate malt evident and a slight sweetness that doesn't stay around too long. Medium-bodied. Ubu is an easy-drinker, a session ale despite the ABV. Tasty, if somewhat nondescript.

09 April 2009

Thomas Hardy's Ale 1998 (ENG)

L@@K VINTAGE! 1998! 

Looks like a bottle of this recently sold on ebay for $17.87. It's expensive, but not that expensive, though in auctions it only takes one person to overpay. 

Thomas Hardy pours a dark amber -- clear unless you tip the yeast in as well -- but I can't get much of I head. I could smell the underside of the cap all night: raspberry-chocolate, mmm! First taste of the ale is nothing like that, however. In fact, I primarily detect licorice. Also, a strong peppery, spiciness distinguishes this from other barleywines I've had (its 12%). Brown sugar, fruit, slight sweetness, just a whole lot going on. All in all, an excellent barleywine, but not above and beyond all the others I've had (e.g., Old Foghorn).

BTW, here's a piece from the late William Brand on the history of this beer. It looks like my bottle was in between Eldridge Pope's and O'Hanlon's brewing. The bottle only says 'Thomas Hardy Brewery Ltd." I'm somewhat proud to see, as is the case with Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout, there's an American distributor at the heart of the fight to keep this ale flowing.  

06 April 2009

When my time is up...

Just so you know, when I go, if this woman shows up a my wake, let her stay: 

Sheriff's deputies said a Texas woman started a brawl at a wake in Arkansas when she arrived with a beer can in her hand. The woman, 52, faces a third-degree domestic battery charges, as does another woman, 46, over the March 29 fight. Deputies said the first woman arrived at the Christies Chapel Church with a beer can in hand and that she refused to leave.
People in Arkansas are just so prissy about stuff like this.  

04 April 2009

Coney Island Albino Python (NY)

Some craft breweries don't even bother with lagers. Shmaltz has a whole specialty line of them. Albino Python (with its slightly salacious label art) is a singular beer: a "white lager brewed with spices," a witbier brewed with lager yeast. Who else brews one of those?

The lager yeast is bound to make a difference, but on top of that, Shmaltz uses an atypical blend of spices: ginger, crushed fennel and orange peel. No coriander? And how many other beers use fennel? (Although fennel is licoricey like anise, which isn't completely unusual in beer.) To me, the spices definitely dominate any citrus fruit elements, and I'll definitely believe it's ginger and fennel. There isn't much malty backbone here, and the hops aren't bitter, but instead appear to add a somewhat rough and dry finish. It's crisp, and would work well with grilled chicken or fish or something like that.

Albino Python is, first and foremost, different. It's also pretty good, better than most lagers. But I don't like it quite as much as a well-made white ale.

30 March 2009

Session Reminder

Just a reminder that this Friday, Lew Bryson is hosting, and the topic is smoked beers (coincidentally, The Atlantic has a short piece on Bavarian Schlenkerla). I've been pretty busy with work and life so I don't know if I'll be able to participate. If I do, it will surely rate a fail due to Lew's one demand:

Because I'm not going to tell you that you have to like them, how you have to drink them, or whether you can have an expensive one or where it has to be from. But I do insist that if you blog on this Session, that you drink a smoked beer that day.

Which I'm sure means that some of you will fail to do that and proudly blog about it and have what you think is a real good reason. I swear, it's like trying to push string...
That's kind of tough, because I won't be home from work until after 6, and then there's dinner, and I will likely have plans Friday with people who couldn't care less about smoked beer of beer blogging. Drink on Thursday, post on Friday, I say. Still a nice topic.

28 March 2009

Hair of the Dog Ruth (ORE)

Now you're messing with a sonovabitch. Oregon's Hair of the Dog must be viewed as one of the quintessential  American boutique microbreweries. Well, boutique might not be the right word, but they make only a handful of beers, mostly big alcohol, not huge batches. Ratebeerians drool over things like the 29% ABV Dave with its super-selective release. 

Ruth is only 4.5% ABV and predictably not as highly rated. An American Pale Ale, it claims, but it's also unfiltered and not at all in the Sierra Nevada style. It looks like a hefeweizen and tastes like fresh grapefruit juice. Seriously, drinking this blind I'd probably guess carbonated grapefruit juice as easily as beer. It's good: not bitter canned grapefruit juice, or pith or rind. It's more fruity and a bit floral. Not a lot of hop sharpness for a West Coast pale, nor a bready malt backbone, just some combination of Crytsal hops, light grains and yeast. 

It's unusual and refreshing, I think, but a little too pricey on this side of the country to be properly drunk as a warm-weather session ale. Still, I'm sure I'll drink this again.

25 March 2009

NYT on Wine in Supermarkets

Eric Asimov has written about the governor's plan to permit wine sales in New York State grocery stores. Opponents to the measure includes liquor stores of course, but also both the Teamsters (who have a stake in distribution) and Baptist ministers. With supporters like that....

But Asimov makes a good point:

Nobody supporting the bill would begrudge some concessions to wine and liquor stores, which right now are not permitted to sell cheeses, bread and other foods that would naturally pair with wine. They can’t even sell beer, which is sold in groceries, delis and convenience stores. If groceries are permitted to sell wine, perhaps wine shops ought to be able to sell cheese and beer.
A few weeks ago, my local Wegmans was asking people to sign an in-store petition on this measure. I wanted to ask the guy whether they supported allowing liquor stores in New York to sell beer. Perhaps at this point, they would, as they're big enough not to worry about Joe's Liquors poaching their six-pack sales . Nonetheless, it's important to recall that no one's motives are pure. Liquor stores have doubt been harmed by their inability to sell beer. I don't begrudge them their complaints now.

21 March 2009

Cricket Hill American Ale (NJ)

I think this is my first New Jersey beer, and I believe Cricket Hill -- founded in 2002 -- is only just starting to sell outside their state. The label design is very attractive, although it looks more suitable for a telecommunications company than a brewery.

American Ale is clear gold/copper in color, nice head. The body is on the light side of medium, and carbonation is held in check. Grassy and slightly citrusy hops, but not too many of them (East Coast restraint). Some might want more bite, others a different a "brighter" approach. I think it's a nice easy drinker.  I see Lew Bryson quotes the brewer singing the praises of sessions beers, and this offering follows suit. 

17 March 2009

St. Patrick's Day

I have nothing interesting to say, and to be honest, St. Patrick's Day is starting to grate on me as I age. FWIW, it currently loses to its evil twin (good twin?) Valentine's Day in a Googlefight, but it's close.

16 March 2009

Brew House Honey Blond Ale (modified)

For my fourth batch of homebrew, I decided to give a Brew House kit a try. If you're unfamiliar with these, they describe themselves as "premium all grain beer kits" from Canada. But this isn't all-grain brewing; it's no boil brewing. You get a four gallon bag of wort brewed to high gravity (~1.080) and add two gallons of water, and pitch yeast. To prevent spoilage, the bagged wort is acidic, which you rectify by adding potassium bicarbonate (included) to raise the pH. This is the big idea that allows you to avoid the use of extract and its corresponding problems (e.g. dark color, extract twang).

Supposedly these kits make the best beer short of all-grain brewing, plus are as simple to use as no-boil canned beer kits from the likes of Cooper's and Mr. Beer. This raises an interesting conundrum. You'd think ease of use would be a great selling point, but I don't want the process to be too easy. I mean, if I want easy, I'd just buy beer. On the other hand, it does seem silly to want to go through extra steps of steeping grains and boiling wort if it still produces inferior beer. (Though at this point, I can't vouch for the quality of the Brew House kits.)

Fortunately, The Brew House kits are hack-able, allowing brewers to put their own stamp on the beer. You can swap yeasts. You can add less top-off water to produce stronger beer. You can boil hops of steep grains in the water before topping off. The manufacturer's website gives a few interesting recipes, and I found a few more here.

Although I was tempted by the Duvel clone built upon the neutral American Lager kit, I instead opted for the Honey Blonde kit with two modifications: I used liquid yeast, and I added only enough water to make a stronger, five gallon batch (note: the kits say they produce gallons, but those are imperial gallons). The yeast I used was White Labs East Coast Ale, WLP008. In truth, I might have been content using the enclosed Cooper's dry ale yeast, but I wanted to give liquid a shot for the first time. WLP001 (West Coast) would probably have been a more natural choice for this style of beer, and I can't say why I chose WLP008 instead. 

The night before "brewing," I made a 1/2 gallon starter (my first!) using DME, a pinch of yeast nutrient, and a sanitized growler. The process seemed to go well. I pitched the whole starter into chilly wort (below 60). I had stored the kit box in the garage and grew impatient waiting for its 40+ pounds of mass to warm up. I still saw bubbles that evening, and within 24 hours had a raucous ferment on my hands.

The kit instructions suggest using a 12 US gallon fermenter (!) which I don't have. So instead, I used a blow off, snipping the cross off the bottom of my 3-piece airlock and attaching 1/2 inch wide tubing to its stem.  It worked perfectly. Plenty of gunk inside the tubing suggested things would have been messy without the blowoff. 

Anyway, fermentation died down abruptly and stuck at around 1.030 (after a starting OG of ~1.060).  I tried gently swirling the pail, but ultimately opened her up and stirring with my sanitized thief. I also increased the heat a few degrees. Both of these things -- opening up the pail and warming -- have their drawbacks, but they worked, and my fermentation ended at 1.017 when I transferred to secondary 11 days after brewing. Still, not great attenuation, but I think that's what WLP008 does. 

This is my first use of a secondary. I don't know if one was really needed, but I need my ale pail for my next brew. So my 5 gallon Better Bottle is sitting in a closet and will be there for another couple weeks. It'll be some time before I see how this tastes.

Even if the taste is great, two caveats:
  1. I paid nearly $45 for the kit. Your mileage may vary, but these are very heavy and thus very expensive to transport. Again, this is a kit designed to make six US gallons, or 4-5 gallons of bigger beer, but it's still pricey.
  2. If you don't have a really big pail, you'll need to use a blowoff. Even then, I don't know if you can make six gallons of this in a 6.5 gallon bucket. I found that others have reported violent fermentations, so be careful. 
Postscript: here's the finished product.

14 March 2009

Schneider Aventinus (GER)

This beer's a classic I've never tried before, and I assume it is going to be my last doppelbock until fall. "Germany's Original Wheat Doppelbock" it claims, and it's brewed with an ale yeast and not a lager yeast. A big, dark wheat beer rather than a big, dark lager.

My overall reaction is that I'm surprised at how light Aventinus is. Well, not exactly light, but it isn't weighty despite the 8.2% ABV. It's medium brown in color with a massive head, and not so far removed from a hefeweizen that you can't smell banana. On the tongue that doesn't really come through, but there's some tartness, spice, raisins, and cocoa powder. It's pretty deep, yet still almost refreshing. I prefer my doppelbocks to be more like this -- not syrupy or alcoholic or soy saucy -- and thus this moves to the top of my list of favorites. The rating sites show nearly universal love, but also a high number or ratings, so I'm probably not telling you anything you don't know already.

10 March 2009

Beer Quiz

Trying to kill time at the office? Try the Pike Brewing beer quiz. Maybe this has been around, I don't know. It's 100 questions and I lost interest before I finished, but at least the questions aren't of the "what beer did Spuds McKenzie endorse?" variety.

09 March 2009

Ommegang Rare Vos (NY)

Rare Vos is described as a Belgian-style amber ale, 6.5% ABV. The label says to serve at 40 degrees, but I must have gone at least 10 degrees higher. I bought this corked 750 ml bottle on sale for $4.59 I think, which isn't a bad price at all. 

I poured leaving the yeast in the bottom. The beer is on the orange end of amber more than the darker side, and the billowy head is fantastic. Light-to-medium bodied, assertively carbonated. Really, this should be drunk in warmer weather. The nose is fiercely fruity, and the taste is fruity as well -- something like peaches and apples -- and a bit spicy. All that Belgian goodness. Rare Vos finishes dry and very abruptly,  too much so perhaps, as I'd have liked to taste it a bit longer. I suppose that's better than finishing too sweet. Ultimately, a really fine Belgian-style ale. I wonder what it would have tasted like at the recommended 40 degrees?

Of Ommegang's five basic beers, I've never had one of them (Three Philosopher's) and am torn in my preference between their eponymous ale and Hennepin. Rare Vos is, to me, a shade below these two, but a bit better to Witte.  But they're all good. 

07 March 2009

Orlio Closing

I saw this from a post at 2beerguys blog: Orlio Organic Brewing is closing. They were owned by Magic Hat. I tried and liked their Black Lager back when this blog was young. Orlio only had two other beers I think. Sad to see them go, but of course in any business, many will fail.

06 March 2009

Genesee Bock Beer (NY)

Session #25: Lager. The Beer Nut suggests we "return to our roots" and calls for us to leave those fancy-pants imported lagers aside. In his kick off post, he also writes up Dundee Honey Brown Lager and calls it the very sort of fancy-pants imported lager we should not be blogging about, and this is a problem for me, for whom Dundee Honey Brown is local, not imported, and stands as the quintessential middlebrow brau. There is roughly the same amount of space between it and Budweiser as there is between Applebee's and Wendy's. So what lager can I find that fills the space between craft and crap?

Actually, The Beer Nut backtracks a bit and says Honey Brown is exactly the sort of beer we should discuss. Nonetheless, I felt self-conscious about over-shooting this one. Fortunately for me, this is the time of year where Genesee (ultimately, the same brewery that makes the Dundee line) releases its "special edition" Bock Beer. The brew is a bit darker than The Beer Nut's recommended pilseners, light lagers, or helleses, but it runs about $6.50 for a 12-pack, so I don't think I aimed too high on this one. And how can anyone resist the early-60s-wallpaper style can design?

Genny Bock is attractive enough to justify pouring into a glass: clear amber with a big (but superficial) head. On the tongue, it's over-carbonated and light-bodied. The finish will prove to be metallic (or maybe that's just me fixating on the can). But before that, it's a pretty good beer. A little caramel flavor, some very light floral hops. It's not too sweet or corny or rice-y. It doesn't warm all that well, but is more than just thirst-quenching for 90 degree days. It's damn well better than any other Genesee beer. I never regret buying a full 12-pack, although one pack a year usually suffices.

I can't say Genny Bock is really a 'roots' beer for me. I didn't drink this in high school or college, and it wasn't a regular choice for me before I became connoisseur and hobbyist. Still, I'm glad to see it when it comes out each year. It's what an unpretentious value lager should be, and it's a shame there aren't many American regional breweries that produce stuff like this anymore.

05 March 2009

Paper City Radler Bräu (MA)

If ever there's a time to drink this, it isn't in March. Radler is beer mixed with Sprite or sparkling lemonade or something. For all the respect Germany receives for its brewing tradition, they sure do know how to adulterate the stuff. I suppose if someone offered you Diet Sprite and then said "would you like beer in that?" it wouldn't seem so bad. But why not just take the beer?

Paper City's take on the style talks of "natural lemon flavor" rather than specifically mentioning soda (or "tawnic"... it's in Massachusetts). It's golden in color with a fairly decent head, and a mouthfeel that is light and spritzy. The lemon taste is subtle, and not tart at all, nor sweet. Instead, it's like a mixture of Corona and lemon Crystal Light. Watery and dull. In the heat, it could be refreshing, but even then there are better options.

Paper City Brewery seems to have an affinity for fruit beers: they have three fruit lagers listed on their site. I'd hope they're all better than Radler Brau.

04 March 2009

Colbert on Beer Pong and Herpes

Stephen Colbert weighs in on the issue of beer pong and herpes (it starts about 30 seconds in).

02 March 2009

Session #25: Lager

A reminder that this Friday is the next Session. Hosted by The Beer Nut from Dublin, the intent is to get "back to basics":

Don't even think about cheating the system: leave your doppelbocks and schwarzbiers out of this one: I want pilsners, light lagers, helleses and those ones that just say "beer" because, well, what else would it be?

This has already lead to a bunch of comments asking what "counts" as a lager here. Hopefully, some of these discussions will pop up in the Session posts themselves. 

01 March 2009

Samuel Adams Double Bock (MA)

This is part of Sam Adams' Imperial Series that also features a pilsener and a witbier. Of the three, doppelbock is the only style that's naturally big. Even so, Double Bock is on the heavy side for its style at 9.5% ABV and 24.5 Plato (over 1.100 OG). It turns out to be a little much for my tastes.

A good-looking beer, it pours clear mahogany with a decent head. It is very rich on the tongue, syrupy like a barleywine. Nice soft fizz. Unsurprisingly, it's a big malt bomb -- caramel, molasses, maybe a little maple syrup -- though there are just enough hops to keep it from being too sweet. My problem is the alcohol comes through, both peppery on the tongue, slightly burning in the throat, and warming in the ribs. A lot of doppelbocks bring heat, but my favorite -- Weihenstephaner Korbinian -- doesn't, and is also lighter on the tongue. Just a matter of personal taste I suppose. SA's take is a well-made beer and a pretty good bargain given its size. Just know what you're getting yourself into.

27 February 2009

Wye Valley Dorothy Goodbody's Our Glass (ENG)

Dorothy Goodbody has to be one of most attractive women to grace a beer bottle label. She's no more real than Betty Crocker, but if she were she'd be a lot more fun. Gotta love the punny name: not just "good body" but "(h)our glass." I believe in Britain, however, this is just known as Country Ale. It's either an ESB or an English Strong Ale at 6%. As an import, it cost me over $5 for 500 ml.

Nice clear ruby color--it had a little yeast in the bottom, but I left it there--with a terrific head that imprinted the side of the glass as I emptied it. A little more malt than hops. Rich caramel mostly, but some raisin as well. As it warms, fruity esters appear. As it warms even more, sherry is evident (not so fresh a bottle?). The hops hit the back of the throat in the finish and provide balance. Until the very end when it had warmed a bit too much, I thought this was wonderful. It's not something that grabs you by the throat, though. Well done, Dorothy!

25 February 2009

Wordle of This Blog

Here's some fun: the most commonly used words in this blog (excluding a, the, and, etc.). I have a suspicion that it's only looking at recent posts for me (not including this one). "Conable" looks a bit big, and I know I've used it only in one post. I don't ever remember typing "welch." You can kill a lot of time at the office playing with the layout. 

24 February 2009

Reason for Homebrewing

The libertarian publication Reason has an online piece on the legalization of homebrewing in the US. A few things I didn't know:

  1. In 1872, there were approximately 17 times as many breweries in the US per capita as there are now. And "now, " of course, comes after a long boom in micro brewing.
  2. Pre-1978, illegal homebrewers were never threatened by the Feds as much as by state law enforcement.
  3. It was a supplier of beer-making equipment in Rochester, NY who asked Congressman Barber Conable to sponsor the famous 1978 homebrewing bill that Jimmy Carter signed. Asked about the importance of the bill decades later, Conable couldn't even remmeber it.

22 February 2009

Custom BrewCrafters St. Patrick's Irish Ale (NY)

I'm not actually thinking about St. Patrick's Day yet, but I was looking for an easy drinking beer to share and a growler seemed to fit the bill. Honeoye Falls, NY based Customer BrewCrafters cranks out tons of styles for area bars and restaurants. Growlers are available at the brewery and in several local stores, and two of their beers are bottled (one of which I reviewed here). 

This Irish ale is pretty light in the body, but very smooth and easy drinking. Some caramel malts are balanced by earthy hops which never really reach the level of bitterness. The beer reminds me of their English Pale Ale. I don't know if it's mostly the same malts and yeast (not that this is a beer that shows off its yeast). This is what happens 

To me, St. Patrick's Irish Ale is just okay, but it serves its purpose. St. Patty's Day isn't for beer connoisseurs, it's for everyone, and they could do worse than a drinkable local brew. 

21 February 2009

Lower Beer Taxes? / NYT on Hop Obama

With all this talk about increasing beer taxes in Oregon and New York, it's interesting to see a call for lower beer taxes in Britain. The Conservative Party has launched a campaign to lower beer taxes (and raise taxes on high strength cider and alcopops). The Tories are out of power, so I have no idea if it's going anywhere. It sounds like good politics in a place where you can associate beer with family owned pubs (not the case here in the States). 

Meanwhile, the New York Times has an article on Brooklyn's Sixpoint Craft Ales, formerly brewers of Hop Obama. The beer was already retired a few weeks before the feds told them to stop. Really, you can't just name a beer after a public figure like that. I'm skeptical of this:
What stung about the Hop Obama episode was the suggestion that the brewery had been trying to cash in on the president’s name. In reality, Mr. Welch said, Sixpoint felt an affinity for the former community organizer because the beer business thrives on grass-roots connections like camaraderie over a frothy pint glass and even artistic collaboration.
I don't doubt the sincerity of his feelings toward Obama, but I don't know if Welch (brewmaster of Sixpoint) really has any right to feel "stung" by the suggestion that he was cashing in. It was great marketing while it lasted.

16 February 2009

Mendocino Brewing "Black Eye"

Mendocino also sells a beer called Black Eye, which is a mixture of their Black Hawk Stout and Eye of the Hawk Ale. I didn't buy that beer, but instead just mixed a couple bottles from the variety pack. I don't know whether this is exactly the same as the version that's sold.

The stout gets the better of the pairing, which is a shame given that I liked Eye of the Hawk better. Eye's role seems mostly just to cut the stout a bit, adding a very faint fruity note and boosting the ABV. What works best with the mix is the texture: this is a really smooth, creamy beer. 

I don't know whether I'd but Black Eye if I saw it in the store, but if you have three of each from a variety pack, why not mix a one of each? It's a pretty good "fifth beer."

15 February 2009

Mendocino Brewing Black Hawk Stout/Eye of the Hawk (CA)

Other two beers from the 12-pack:

Black Hawk Stout: A reminder that dark doesn't mean heavy. "The the intent was to create a Stout that did not overpower the palate," says the brewer.  It's very dark, has a thick beige head that unfortunately fizzes away before you can fully admire it. Medium-bodied, I'd prefer a little less carbonation as the acidic CO2 element doesn't work for me in a stout. Roasty and very slightly burnt, it finishes dry. Nice stout, about as good as Red Tail Ale.

Eye of the Hawk:  This one caught me by surprise. For whatever reason, I wasn't at all familiar with it, and had no idea what to expect. It's a strong ale at 8% ABV. Clear copper color, nearly headless. It reminds me of a barleywine with its slick, oily mouthfeel and soft carbonation. More malt than hops, it's perhaps a little too sweet. Eye of the Hawk has sort of a fruit brandy thing going on for me. The alcohol is hot, making this one a sipper. It also has some yeast in the bottom, which I didn't pour in.

I like it a lot and was kind of disappointed to see it receiving lesser reviews at the rating sites. What's also interesting is how all-over-the-place the descriptions are. Some say the alcohol is hidden, it's crisp or sessionable, others compare it to an ESB. I didn't get that at all. 

For me, Eye of the Hawk validates the Mendocino 12-pack. It's just not the sort of beer you'd expect to find in one, and with the IPA, it gives it two good bigger beers alongside two nice sessionable ones. 

13 February 2009

Mendocino Brewing Red Tail Ale/IPA (CA)

Mendocino Brewing Company is located in Hopland, CA, but also has a big brewery in Saratoga Springs where they produce the unexceptional Indian lager Kingfisher. In a 12-pack, Mendocino's offerings came out to just under a buck a bottle for me, so it's "bargain" craft beer, like Saranac, Dundee, et. al. 

Red Tail Ale: Their flagship beer, a (surprise) fairly subdued amber ale. It's pretty nice though. The brewery's website says  it has Cluster and Cascade hops, but I don't detect citrus/floral. The Cascades certainly aren't used for dry-hopping here. The site also says that most of their beers are bottle conditioned, but none of these seem to be. Red Tail Ale is slightly more malt than hops to me, but finishes dry. Very faint orange flavor. Clean and crisp.

White Hawk Select IPA: 7% ABV and 60 IBUs. The brewer says it has a "truly authentic English flavor," but is a blend of Fuggles and Cascades, so it's not purely English in style. Here, I do detect the Cascades. Not a blockbuster IPA, but very flavorful, well-balanced, and brings a bit of that IPA tingle. Nice lacing down the glass too.

So a good start to the variety pack. A pretty decent flagship beer and a nice IPA. But the IPA isn't the biggest of the pack as it would be more many other breweries.

09 February 2009

High Falls Buyout

Rochester, NY based High Falls Brewing--makers of Genesee and Dundee--is the target of a buyout by KPS Capital.  KPS is also seeking to buy Labbatt's USA, which is on the trading block due to anti-trust regulations. According to the Wall Street Journal:

KPS likely sees an opportunity to leverage the brewing operation of High Falls in Rochester to win a deal for Labatt. The Justice Department settlement requires the buyer of Labatt USA to eventually brew the beers, rather than merely marketing and selling them.

So KPS needs an actual brewery to get its foot in the door in the US. Would this have any effect on the Dundee line, the closest thing to a craft beer is this story? It doesn't seem like it would. 

08 February 2009

Mudlark Ale

This is my third batch of homebrew, and the first I've given its own name. In Erie Canal lingo, a boat was "mudlarked" when it was grounded in low water. Mudlark has also been used to describe someone who scavenges in river mud for valuable items. This brew looked really muddy for a time. 

I created my own recipe, and again made a smaller batch. Don't know what style this is.

3.5 gallons:
4 pounds of light DME
8 oz. Crystal 60L

4 oz. Crystal 90L
1/2 oz. 6.5% Challenger hops (60)
1 oz. 4.5% Progress hops (1/4 oz. each at 60, 45, 30, 15)
Coopers dry ale yeast (7 gram package)
Irish Moss
2 1/2 oz. corn sugar for priming

I ordered the ingredients at the same time as those from my previous batch, so I went with dried extract and uncrushed grains because they last longer (of course I crudhed the crystal before steeping). I chose English hops because I had Challenger left over. I chose Cooper's yeast for no reason better than that it came in a smaller packet for a small batch. I was planning on making a lighter three gallon batch, but then realized I'd be drinking this in the dead of winter, so I bought an extra pound of DME locally and upped the recipe by a half gallon. This was a dumb adustment because it threw the rest of my calculations off.

The brewing process went very smoothly, and rightly or wrongly, I'll give much of the glory to the DME. It fermented better than my previous batches with LME: from 1.061 to 1.017 still not quite (75%). According to the recipe calculator, IBUs were 28. 

I pitched that yeast at 64 degrees and it peaked at just over 70. The Cooper's yeast may have attenuated well, but it didn't flocculate for nuts. I lost a couple bottles worth amidst the sandy dregs. My new toy this time was an autosiphon, which was well worth the price.  While siphoning, the beer looked beautifully golden through the hose. In bottles, it was darker but still clear... until I chilled it. The first few bottles were foggy, but now it's reasonably clear again.

The taste? I think my process didn't hurt it any, but I'm not sure about my recipe. It's sort of an awkward blend of caramel, somewhat raisiny malts and earthy, herbal hops. The levels of each element seems spot on, but the combination isn't exactly right. So enough with my own recipes for a while. Still, it's pretty good, and pleasingly free of any off flavors. Solid execution of a questionable game plan.

What I learned: DME and autosiphons are good. There's so much I would like to try for my next batch. Partial mash, secondary, a yeast starter, or maybe one of those Canadian Brewhouse kits some people are raving about. First, I have to create some empty bottles. 

06 February 2009

The Session: Three Tripels

The topic of Session 24 is "A Tripel for Two." As David at Musings Over a Pint explains:

Beer is best when it's shared, and a strong beer is just right for sharing. Belgian Tripels are big beers with a flavor profile that is enjoyed by both experienced and new beer fans. Be it an intimate evening, or watching a ball game on TV, a Tripel is made for sipping and sharing. For Session #24 the theme is "A Tripel for Two." What Tripel would you pick to share with that good friend, family member, or lover?
As is often the case, the topic seems to assume we'll write about a beer we've had before. I've only reviewed one Tripel so far, the unusual dark Tripel from Abbaye d’Aulne, and I've only ever drank one or two others. The Tripel Brune raises a question: must this style be light in color, or is tripel-ness just a question of heft? I kind of lean toward the former, but am not going to get all pissy about it.

I decided to sample three Tripels. I did not drink these all on the same night, and only the Sprecher did I share.

Maredous 10: Love the stubby bottle. The price point suggests that this may be a second tier Belgian, as it clocks in at a couple bucks less per bottle than the really expensive ones. The 10 refers to 10% ABV, and the alcohol indeed makes its presence felt. Cloudy orange-gold with a meringue head that stays after the party is over. Peachy, spicy, slightly tangy, and a bit boozy. Feels like champagne. Maybe the best of the three for both "sipping and sharing."

St. Bernardus Watou Tripel: This is a better beer overall, just too pricey to share unless it's an intimate setting with someone you know will appreciate it. St. Bernardus makes two tripels; how many other breweries do that? Watou is a town in Flanders, by the way. This slender-bottled beer is mellower than Maredsous. It's "only" 7.5%, a little paler in color, more bubblegummy in aroma, and I think a bit lighter in carbonation. As with Maredsous, the foam outlasts the beer itself. Great creamy body. Honey and fruit (oranges?), but ultimately dry. My favorite of the three.

Sprecher Abbey Triple: I wanted to toss in one American take on the style, and chose Sprecher because it seemed so unlikely. This Wisconsin brewery rightly specializes in lagers. Abbey Triple is sold in a bruising 16 ounce bottle that has a twist off cap, for god's sake. 8.4% ABV. Relatively cheap at around $8 a 4-pack, it's good for sharing with any company, but alas, not really for sipping. It's lighter in color than the others, more clear, and with a less impressive head. The ABV notwithstanding, I can see guzzling this in the summer. Fruity and sweet, it only scratches the surface of Belgian yeast complexity. And yet, it's a tasty beer. If you don't hold it to the lofty standards of a Tripel -- maybe pretend it's a fruit beer -- Sprecher's take is pretty good. Non-beer nerd friends were fond as well.

So there you go. I had a lot of fun with this style, and am curious to see what other Tripels people are drinking.

01 February 2009

Super Bowl Prediction

I'm gonna say Pittsburgh 24, Arizona 17. 

The Cardinals are a bit of a question mark. The Steelers pass rush could wreak havoc, and Kurt Warner has been a turnover machine at times. At other times, however, he's like Dan Marino with his quick release, plus I don't think the Steelers can cover Larry Fitzgerald. On the other side of the ball, I think the Cards would do well not to blitz Roethlisberger. They seemed to play more for coverage against the Eagles (the announcers praised the Philly line, but Arizona was often rushing only three guys), and McNabb couldn't deal with it. Big Ben seems to be at his best when scrambling, so don't kill yourself by blitzing, I say, even though Ben is fumble prone. But maybe it all comes down to the running game after all.

I want Arizona to keep it close, but would be happier if the Steelers win. A Super Bowl team just doesn't play the way the Cardinals did versus the Patriots and the Jets in the first half. Oh, and I will be drinking and sharing homebrew.

31 January 2009

Harviestoun Old Engine Oil/Ola Dubh (SCO)

I came upon a bottle of Harviestoun's special Ola Dubh ("black oil"), and figured I should first try Old Engine Oil. The former is based on the latter, but is matured in whisky casks for some time, mine for 12 years. 

Old Engine Oil: Viscous, Chocolatey, Roasty, says the label. Designated as an old ale, I wouldn't argue if they called it a stout. Roasted malts and chocolate provide an overall effect of bittersweetness. Very slightly fruity. Unfortunately not as rich and full as I would have hoped.

Ola Dubh (12 year): This comes in a much fancier bottle, with a paper cover over the cap and a necklace tag. The label says it was bottled in September 2007 and is signed by both the Head Brewer and Master of Wood. This one really is viscous -- inky black, with some purple around the edge. The body is very lightly carbonated and geared toward sipping. The aroma seems slightly asian to me: miso? mirin? Taste is stout-ish, with roasted malts and chocolate, but there's a bit of a raisiny element to it. Subtle whisky components come through, smoke/peat and warming of the ribcage. This is 8% versus 6% for Old Engine Oil. I like Ola Dubh a lot. Whether the versions aged in a whisky cask for longer would taste better or perhaps be too much, I can't say.

No surprise that Ola Dubh is the better of the two, but I also think it's better when adjusted for the price. Old Engine Oil for me isn't special enough to pay something like $4 a bottle here in the States. Old Dubh, on the other hand, is special enough to be worth the occasional $8 a bottle.

29 January 2009

Beer Sabayon Ice Cream

The first real cookbook I ever bought for myself was Biba Caggiano's Trattoria. This was back when I thought Italian would become my specialty. Nowadays, I'd say my specialty is homemade ice cream (not that I'm a reliably good cook), but one of my favorite recipes is Caggiano's Zabaglione Ice Cream. One day, I found a recipe online for beer sabayon, and realized that sabayon and zabaglione are the same thing.

Beer Sabayon Ice Cream
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
8-10 oz Ommegang (or other beer)
squeeze of lemon (maybe)
1 1/2 cups cream, whipped 
3 TBS sugar

I've made this several times, but never had the diligence to try to perfect it, so I can't guarantee that above is the best version. It's still good though.

Beat the egg yolks with the larger amount of sugar until pale yellow (the usual ice cream step). Place it in a double-boiler above simmering water (I just use a stainless steel bowl on top of a pot). Slowly beat in the beer with a whisk. Keep at it for a few minutes until the mixture is frothy and has doubled in size. Then, place bowl in ice water bath to cool, stirring.

Separately, whip cream with sugar. (Whipped cream is always better fresh.) Fold the whipped cream into the egg yolk mixture, and add a squeeze of lemon if desired. Run the mix through your ice cream machine, or still freeze it if you don't have one.

Whipping the cream first is unusual, but produces a super soft texture. The ice cream itself should be strong enough in taste to cut through all that air (Caggiano's recipe -- made with Marsala -- is considerably stronger). That being said, sometimes I only half whip the cream, which also makes it easier to pour into the ice cream maker. Feel free to experiment, maybe using a different beer (I've only used dark Belgians so far).  

26 January 2009

Homebrew in Five Days

Courtesy of Men's Health Living, a way to brew a small batch of beer in your home using your Mr. Coffee machine. I don't own a coffee maker so I can't try it out, but it looks like it would have been a useful suggestion back in 1975. Today, not so much. Ingredients include "1 packet of baker’s or other yeast." Makes 1 to 2 pints. Commenters are skeptical.

25 January 2009

Cropton Brewery Monkman's Slaughter (ENG)

This is a great name for a beer. It's a great bottle, a bit like the newer St.Peter's with its fat round body and then neck. The beer looks nice: a bit muddy and dark brown from afar, but light shines through to reveal a reddish tinge. Pretty head. Nice, creamy "flat" (i.e., low fizz) British body. 

But then there's the taste. My first reaction after drinking was to Google this beer to see whether it's supposed to taste like this. Apparently, yes. Alan at A Good Beer Blog describes it as "lime juice and molasses cookie," and there's not much I can add to that. Maybe its tart green apple skin rater than lime, and there's also a distinct earthy quality to it. English hops add a some bitterness (Challenger and Goldings). 

The label claims this is a "Strong Bitter Style." Is it supposed to be this sour? Maybe the trip across the ocean didn't do it any favors. Also, this is a bottle conditioned beer, and I might have let some of the yeast slip through the pour. Still, I don't think that's to blame. More likely, Monkman's Slaughter is ultimately a taste I haven't acquired. Strange brew.

24 January 2009

The Session 24: Tripel

The Session for January is being hosted by David at Musings Over a Pint, and the topic is A Tripel for Two.  This is mostly a return to the earlier days of beer style topics, although the "for two" adds a twist. 

What Tripel would you pick to share with that good friend, family member, or lover? 

The Session is two weeks from today (February 6th) and I intend to play along. I'll be curious to see if anyone has a specific reason why one tripel is especially suited for sharing, aside from it simply being a great beer. 

22 January 2009

Ithaca Gorges Smoked Porter (NY)

Ithaca Beer Company's winter seasonal takes its name from its town's punny motto Ithaca is Gorges. There are t-shirts attesting to this, but I'm guessing all those college students prefer the ones claiming Ithaca is Gangsta.

The porter is basically a straightforward, medium-bodied, dark, dry brew at around 6% ABV, but with a light layer of smoke added. I'm still a bit put off by heavy smoke, so this is perfect for me. Gorges doesn't taste of ash and doesn't cross over into stout territory. It's just a really nice cold-weather sessions beer, possibly my favorite from this brewer.

19 January 2009

Beer Too Much for Pure Youth

What a fantastic headline! Alas, it turns out that this Taipei Times article isn't about a BYU freshman kegger, but about a basketball game in which Taiwan Beer defeated Pure Youth Construction, 75-72.  Lin “the Beast” Chih-jeh is "still struggling to find his groove," according to the piece.

17 January 2009

Baird Jubilation Ale (JP)

I tried Hitachino Red Rice beer recently, and here's another one from Japan, courtesy of Shelton Brothers. It appears to be new to the US. Baird Brewing doesn't sound like a Japanese brewery, but whether beermaster Bryan Baird is native Japanese or not, Jubilation Ale does seem to be Japanese in style. Or at least it isn't Western.

"Japanese ale brewed with figs an cinnamon," says the label, as well as "emblematic of the good cheer and renewed energy with which Japanese celebrate the coming of each New Year." I'm guessing it's a seasonal. It pours the reddish side of amber, ultimately clear, with a ice head. Medium bodied (a little slick) and properly carbonated. Figs and cinnamon? What hits first is big caramel, the real deal, not just caramel malts. Some cinnamon comes through, and this is certainly a heavily spiced brew. It's not too sweet, IMO, thanks to some hops. But there is that odd, rough aftertaste...

Jubilation Ale is a beer blogger's beer. It's good, but mostly, it's different. Something you'll want to try at least once. It's also expensive at around $10 for 633 ml. I'd like to try some other stuff from Baird. 

16 January 2009

AFC Championship Beer Bet

Per Rob Kasper at the Baltimore Sun's beer blog, the CEOs of Iron City and Flying Dog have wagered their beers on the winner of Sunday's game. Pittsburgh can do better than Iron City of course, but what about Flying Dog? I still think of that as a Colorado brewery. When I think of Bawlmer, Merlin beer, I think of Clipper City.  

Nothing against the Ravens, but I'll be pulling for the Steelers. I just prefer a matchup of an expected team (Pittsburgh's all we have after last weekend's carnage) versus a surprise team, rather than two surprise teams facing each other. Philadelphia-Pittsburgh would be a a great battle, but I kind of think Arizona would be more fun, provided they don't flake out.

10 January 2009

Søgaard Bryghus Julebuk (DEN)

Søgaard is a Danish brewery -- I assume Bryghus means brewhouse -- that has only been around since the middle of the decade. Julebuk is some sort of game children play(ed?) at Christmas time in Denmark, and this is indeed a holiday beer. A "full-bodied German-style bock" with "a "blend of Christmas spices," says to the label.

Sniffing directly from the bottle, I sense ginger and soy sauce. Maybe I was just imaging them, though, because they don't appear at all once poured. Held to the light, the beer reveals that it's more medium than dark brown. The head is big and fluffy. It's medium bodied and lightly carbonated. Julebuk isn't heavily spiced, and I wouldn't assume it was a Chrismas beer if they hadn't said so. To me, it falls somewhere in between a doppelbock and a porter. There's a subtle dessert quality to it -- some milk chocolate, caramel -- but it finishes dry-ish. It doesn't have the roastiness of many porters, nor the licorice notes or alcohol burn often found in doppelbocks.

Julebuk reminds me a bit of Utenos Porter , except that it is much, much more expensive (at least here in the US). So much so, that I will probably never buy Julebuk again, even though it's a pretty tasty brew.

08 January 2009

Saranac Vanilla Stout (NY)

I've been disappointed with Saranac as often as I've been pleased with them, so I don't know why I keep coming back. Vanilla Stout certainly sounds tasty, although Caramel Porter did as well, and I didn't like that. It turns Vanilla Stout didn't do it for me, but for reasons that were different than I would have thought. So at least it was interesting in that respect.

I was ready for an overly sweet, lightweight dark beer, with faux vanilla and too many bubbles. Instead, I got a beer with an admittedly terrific, fluffy beige head and a decent (if somewhat light) body. It wasn't too sweet; it wasn't sweet at all. And there was very little vanilla to be found. At most, it tasted like chewing on a leathery vanilla bean pod. Instead, it had a dark roastiness that sounds attractive, but turned into a harsh bitterness in the finish. 

It looks like Saranac Vanilla Stout is receiving pretty good reviews. I can understand that, I guess, as it was neither weak nor cloying. Still, it wasn't for me.  

05 January 2009

Dieu du Ciel Solstice d'hiver (CAN)

We don't get too many good Canadian beers around here, despite the fact that we're just across Lake Ontario. Unibroue is easy to find (thanks to Sapporo), and MacAuslan is around as well. These are both based in Quebec, as is Dieu du Ciel. I don't recall seeing anything from Dieu du Ciel before, so was quick to snathc up Solstice d'Hiver, their winter seasonal barley wine at 9.8% ABV. The label has two scales from 0 to 9 with a couple notches between the 1 and 2 on the second one. So what does that mean? Drink by mid-2011?

The label also reviews the beer. "Brown in color with flaming red highlights...delicately sweet and liquor-like...a very bitter beer." It's weird to describe your own product as "very bitter," especially since it's not that bitter. It probably fits about midway between Anchor Old Foghorn and SN Bigfoot in this regard. Resiny hop bitterness comes through at the end, following an initial big, thick malt sweetness of cherries/berries and caramel. Maybe it's a fruit punch with a grapefruit juice finish. The alcohol is noticeable but not overwhelming.

Barley wine fans have to give this a try. Send more good beer to Western New York, Canada! In return, we'll let you host the Bills for another one of their nine losses next year.

02 January 2009

Unibroue Trois Pistoles (CAN)

Trois Pistoles is named after a town near Quebec that disappointingly means "three coins" not "three pistols." My 750 ml bottle was dated 10/01/10. This is the sort of beer which should age well (it's 9% and the yeast is left in the bottle), but it was hard not to uncork it sooner.

It looks very dark in the glass, but held to the light, it's clear and reddish. The aroma is awesome, and the taste is nearly as good. A dark, strong Belgian ale, it brings the expected fruits (plums, maybe berries) with some chocolate cake. It's actually lighter in body than I would have expected, though not too light. The finish is dry.

The brewer suggests pairing with game, wild fowl or pasta. I'm assuming they mean something like fettucine with a rich cream-based sauce, and not alio oglio. Either way, I like to drink beers such as this by themselves, and save more everyday brews for food pairings. To me, Trois Pistoles is superb, and can hold its own with a few Belgian Trappists.