Dominion Brewing struck a chord with Delaware and local beer drinkers several years ago when it began introducing what the brewery now calls its Pin-Up series of beers.
The beers (which I refer to on occasion as “the bomber series”) began as seasonal offerings in 22oz “bomber” bottles with artwork that harkens back to the posters favored by G.I.s in World War II.
The series became so popular that Dominion had no choice but to expand their availability by offering them in 12oz six-packs individually, or in a rotating sampler case dubbed The Pin-up Pack which now comprises of Double D IPA (All year), Morning Glory Expresso Stout (All year), Candi Belgian Triple (Fall/Winter) and Abbey Ale (Winter/Spring) and Gigi’s Farmhouse (Spring/Summer).
In an interview I did back in January, CEO Jim Lutz informed me that they were brewing test batches with the plans of adding another girl to the group this summer, Hop Lips, the brewery’s first IPA but because the beer was in its early stages, there wasn’t much he could tell me about it at the time so I simply made a mental note to keep an eye out for it.
And now it’s available, so let’s taste.
THEM:Hop Lips (whose pin-up girl is named Hannah) is built on a grain bill of Munich, Crystal and wheat malts. Her lips get their hoppiness from Nelson-Sauvin, Cascade, Select and Crystal. The beer clocks in at 6%ABV and 45IBUs.
ME: Good looking beer. Dense foam head, lace, decent carbonation. The nose is filled with hop contributed aromas like florals, tropical fruits and some straight forward cascade goodness. The taste is right in line with aroma. The hops aren’t over powering, but they do tip the scale slightly to their favor over the malt base. I’d say the mouth feel is about medium, although it does finish a little watery on the back end. In some beers this could let the hops linger, which they do, leaving a light tingle and a hint of astringency in your mouth, but Hop Lips never builds to the point of being overly bitter or bitey.
Hannah is worthy of being the next pin-up girl. She’s pretty well balanced, has a nice hop profile and drinks pretty quickly. When Jim described his future 6.0% IPA to me as “sessionable”, I admit I chuckled a bit, but it wasn’t lasting long in my glass. She’s definitely more in line with an American IPA style, as opposed to and English style I recently talked about when I reviewed 16 Mile’s Inlet IPA. For Dominions first offering in the IPA style I think they hit the mark pretty well.
As far as where it falls with the rest of the brewery’s beers, Double D is still my favorite with Candi coming in at a close second, but Hop Lips is high on my list. Any IPA lovers living or traveling through Delaware should give her a shot. She just may be your kind of girl.
Today I’m going to be taking a look at a beer from a brewery I haven’t really covered much on this blog, 16 Mile. 16 Mile made quite an impact when it first hit the local beer market as that brewery that released its beer in aluminum bottles. That’s right, aluminum BOTTLES.
To be honest, this kind of raised some eyebrows on my beer loving friends but soon 16 Mile was rolling out in more traditional 12oz glass bottles and building a steady following in and around Delaware.
The name comes from an old statement about the brewery’s home town of Georgetown, DE being 16 miles from everywhere else in the county. In fact, its central location led it to becoming the county seat in 1791.
They claim to brew a more English style beer, so today I’m going to look at the beer that I think will most standout as to whether it’s in the English or American vein – Inlet India Pale Ale. Let’s taste.
THEM: From their website:
Aromatic hops accompanied by bold flavors of citrus; crisp and refreshing from start to finish. Connecting the Indian River Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian River Inlet provides fishermen and seafarers alike coastal and off-shore adventure. When stormy weather abounds, strong currents and large swells test the skills of local surfers.
Not much more as far as information goes. 6.1%ABV/80IBUs
ME: Pretty looking beer. It gives up a nice fluffy head to start, good lace while drinking and an awesome cascade of bubbles from the bottom of glass. In my glass the beer goes from a light amber to almost a copper/orange from bottom to top. The aroma definitely lets you know that there’s an English influence going on here as this is an IPA that doesn’t overload you with goobs of citrusy hops as you’re likely to find in American varieties. To be honest, my nose is too busy picking up the subtle caramel type malt and a hint of bread to really notice any hops at all. But they are there. Quiet. Reserved. To be honest I get more of a grassy note than a citrus one. The taste? More of the same. Nice malt backbone (is that toffee?), the hops pop through a little more (again grassy). There is a touch of fruit here but I’m not sure if it’s hops or some esters dancing around in there. Everything in balance. Nothing over done. And then it finishes clean with a little lingering bitterness in the cheeks.
I’ll be honest, although I love their attempt to present a much need alternative to today’s American hop explosive/aggressive barrel aged landscape; and I give them mad props for their Collaborative series (which now sits at beer #8. Each beer in this series is completely distinct with each one benefiting one of an amazing array of charities. Check them out) I’m not hugely into 16 Mile. Many of their shelf products don’t resonate with me (on the other hand I have loved some of their draft offerings like Delaware Oyster Stout and Riverfront Dock Porter), but Inlet IPA is pretty good. If you decide to give it a chance just remember; this isn’t your hop head’s IPA – and it’s not supposed to be.
As it seems every year, Saint Paddy’s was going to come and go without a related post by me. I seem to say this every year, and then pull one out at the last minute, but this year I’d pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I was just going to pass this time.
So all was quiet until the other day when I saw a TV ad for Guinness’Blonde American Lager. Now this beer didn’t catch me by surprise, I’d seen it on the shelf before, but what did catch me off guard was that I realized upon seeing this ad that I’d seen more of them for this beer than Guinness’ iconic stout.
And then on Saint Patrick’s day a Washington Post article was being shared around Facebook that suggested the beer to drink in different countries if you wanted to look like local. And of course, the author suggested Guinness for Ireland. And although that should seem so right, it kinda didn’t.
While it’s true that Guinness is still the number 1 brand in Ireland, the truth is that the classic dry stout and its smaller siblings Murphy’s and Beamish are getting a bit of flogging on the beer market. That’s because the majority of beer drinkers on the Emerald Isle are now lager drinkers.
And that probably wouldn’t be bad if lagers like Harp were leading the charge, but in reality, the lager surge is actually being driven by such not so native brands as Carlsberg (#1) Heinekin (#2), and Carling. Yeah, the last time I saw Carling on draft – I was in Ireland.
Yep, the country that boosts that every pub has a Guinness tap should also be forth coming that you’re just as likely to find some combination of the above lagers and on any given night, those beers together are outselling Guinness.
Some may think that this isn’t surprising, large foreign beer producers trying to push the quaint homegrown beer out of the market like a nerd on a playground. But one must remember that Guinness itself is owned by Diageo, the largest producer of spirits in the world and themselves the owners of some brands you may have heard of – Johnnie Walker, Oban, Talisker, Lagavulin, Cragganmore, Smirnoff, Popov, Ketel One, Gordon’s, Tanqueray, Captain Morgan, and Seagram’s . So no one’s out muscling Guinness in the liquor stores, especially in their own backyard.
No, this transition is purely organic, a reflection of the change in drinking habits in the younger drinkers across the country, and it’s not the only place Guinness is seeing sales slip.
But is this a good thing? The maker of THE most notable stout in the world, stripping down to an American lager? Let’s taste.
THEM: BAL is apparently the first in an on coming series of “fusion beers” where Guinness will look at ingredients a brewing techniques around the globe an pair them with some Irish tradition – specifically, Guinness’ yeast from Dublin. BAL was brewed in partnership with City Brewing in Latrobe, PA (yes, you’ve probably heard of that town before, “33”).
The ingredients are all American with pale 2-row, and biscuit malts supplying the backbone while Willamette and Mosaic(TM) hops bring in 21IBUs and those Irish beasties get the beer to 5.0%ABV.
ME: BAL pours golden with a white head that tames down to some nice lace. The nose is a very nice combination of malt and biscuit, the hop character is subdued just like in a European lager but there are notes of grass to be had. The first sip brings some of the hops to the forefront, but again they don’t slap your tongue in any sort of way. This beer is well balance, with a nice supporting structure of malt in the middle, along with notes of bread and fruit; and ending in a pleasing crispness that doesn’t over power.
In keeping with the intention I try to maintain here at tDoB of reviewing a beer just on the beer, this is actually a very nice, and well constructed lager. It’s got a good balance to it, and definitely enough malt/hops to elevate it above the American mass produced lagers. If you’re looking for a good lager to accompany you in your weekend activities, you could do a lot worse.
However, if I were to slide a bit out of the above convention and look at this beer overall, the real question about American Blonde for me isn’t how, it’s why.
Guinness already tried this to a certain extent when they released Black Lager a while back. And although that beer did initially see a bump in revenue for Guinness, it didn’t sustain it very long and I sadly see the possibility of Blonde going down the same road.
People will of course be curious at first, but at $9-$10 a 6-pack, there are other options out there. I don’t see Joe Budweisers making a step up to this beer, nor do I see Joe CraftBeers (many of whom have abandoned brand loyalty for the thrill of always chasing something new) staying with it long.
However, if this beer is indeed a part of an on going series maybe Guinness can keep grabbing the attention of the curious but flighty beer buyers with each release and start to reclaim some of their dwindling sales.
And I’m craft beer purist and big beer conspiracy theorist Ed Morgan.
And I have Elysian’s Loser pale ale.
And I have some God-awful swill produced by some corporate sellouts with no allegiance to the traditions, the ethos or the craft that made them hugely successful. Disguised as Loser.
Although I’m saddened that a great brewery (one of my favs actually) has sold out to A-B, I’m not going to let it harsh my buzz. These things happen in business, and will continue to happen. As long as Elysian is allowed to continue to operate at their previous high standards and creativity, that is all I care about for the moment. And since all parties involved have promised that will be the case, I’m willing to give Elysian the benefit of the doubt until I see otherwise.
And I have it on good authority that black, unmarked Anhueser-Busch vans where in front of the brewery yesterday dropping off masked men in nondescript jumpsuits who busily installed the equipment that infuses the corporate taint whose kovorka I can easily detect in each of their products, but resist with all the passion that truly malted barley and Brettanomyces can muster.
This machine is an affront against the purity of craft beer. It’s primary component being a multi-membraned semi-permeable filter, of which one of the membranes is produced from the bladder of a baby panda which must be harvested while the animal is still alive!
The monstrosity also has an immense carbon footprint, spewing more toxic waste in the air every day than six Mount Saint Helens. It is single-handedly responsible for global warming, the die off of rain forests, your child’s alzehma, and Colony Collapse Disorder (the fact that this puts a strain on the meaderies is icing on the cake).
My loser pours a touch under amber, with nice carbonation and minimal lacing. The nose has some light citrus as well as some underlying malt plus some bread. It may lean a hair more hoppy than I like my pale ales, but hey, that’s just nitpicking.
My Loser pours like sewage sludge; thick and sinewy. The color can best be described as craft-ish with obvious bits of dead dreams and betrayed loyalties floating in it. When not in direct light I detect the slight toxic-waste like glow that tainted beers exhibit. The contamination is particularly visible under blacklight. Despite being labeled a pale ale, Loser contains no trace of tantalizing hop aroma to my nose, just a dank staleness that reminds me of mothballs, musty books and old people.
Nice flavor. The citrus hops are apparent, but not over bearing, as well as a nice touch of spice. The beer also benefits from support in the form of flavors of malt, perhaps a touch of honey. The finish is clean, slightly sweet and doesn’t leave you overwhelmed by the hops. I had no problem going through a couple of these.
Disgusting. Insipid. Lifeless. While my Loser gives a feeble attempt to pass itself off as a craft beer, one can easily see through its charade. The flavor is flat, as if everything that once made this beer one of the hallmarks of the craft beer world has been sucked from its very soul. And then there’s that aftertaste, that trademark twang of corporate taint that divulges its “big beer” connection. It puts me in the mind of the lingering taste in the mouth that one would wake up to three to four days after gargling with a mouthful of gasoline. Its unmistakable to me.
My Loser is a solid pale ale, and as long as A-B allows them to continue to make beers of this quality, I am willing to take a “the proof is in the bottle” stance with Elysian products in the future.
My Loser has already been stripped of everything that made it great. I am never buying this, or any other Elysian beer, every again.
You do realize that I bought this beer only days after the announcement so it was produced way before they were bought by A-B.
Doesn’t matter. Corporate taint lurks in every beer that is made. Possibly breed into the unnatural GMO ingredients that those satanists use to produce their vile refuse, and are secretly selling to unsuspecting craft breweries through underworld cartels disguised as reputable malt dealers.
The taint lays dormant in every beer waiting to be activated, just like the zombie virus in The Walking Dead. Once a craft brewery allows itself to join the unearthly fold , the infection changes all of their beer forever.
I thought you said they needed a machine to infuse the corporate taint?
Yes! That too! *looks around suspiciously and whispers* But that’s a higher level of taint. Far stronger than they’ve secretly been introducing into craft beer production.
Holidays. Movies. For me, they go hand in hand. Whether it’s enjoying Mose and Ramses struggling with each other to decide who controls the fate of the Hebrews at Easter, or John Wayne trying to recapture his more peaceful life in Ireland on Saint Patrick’s day, there always seems to be a movie that I’m looking forward to as each Holiday arrives.
And so comes Christmas. OK, I’m not in small company here. When it comes to Christmas, just about everyone has “that movie”, the approximately 2 hours of cinema that just captures your Holiday spirit the way nothing else does.
Someone in one of my Facebook groups posted a question about that very thing today, and the responses ranged from the obvious to the decidedly less so – It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, White Christmas and on the more slanted side; Bad Santa, Elf or Gremlins (if you don’t remember why, check it out on Netflix).
Here at tDoB, Tracey will have A Christmas Story on for as much of the 24 hour marathon that it runs as she possibly can, probably only catching the move in its entirety once, but enjoying several select scenes multiple times throughout the day.
For me, it’s simply not the holidays unless I’m catching some version of the Charles Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol – whether it be the 1951 adaptation starring Alastar Sim in the role of holiday hum-bug Ebenezer Scrooge, the 1984 version starring George C Scott (admittedly my least favorite) or the TNT produced version starring Patrick Stewart. And yes, Scrooged.
It’s the TNT version that I seek out every year. Patrick Stewart’s performance of Scrooge is one of my favorites, a gripping performance from an actor who in my mind is excellent at portraying the 180 degree emotional swing of a man who is given a glimpse of the future he as forged for himself, and given the enviable opportunity to change.
And of course, I’d be lying (like all the other Holiday movies I mentioned above) if there wasn’t a beer tie-in involved.
The beer in this case is Boston Beer Company’s Old Fezziwig, a beer named for the festive character from Dickens’ novella which used to enjoy full seasonal release status, but now is sadly relegated to a included brew in BBC’s annual Winter Favorites 12-packs and cases.
And I mean sadly. For me, Fezziwig is one of the best seasonal beers BBC makes, and I look forward to procuring my 2 or 4 bottles every Christmas. So much so, that in order to get my yearly fix of this Holiday goodness, the BBC Winter Favorites pack is the only case of beer I buy outside of cases of Guinness for Saint Patrick’s day – ever. Not lying. I rarely buy cases of beer. I just don’t drink that way. Is it worth it? Let’s taste.
THEM: Old Fezziwig is built on a grain bill of two-row pale, Munich 10 and chocolate malts. The beer is balance with Hallertau, Mittelfrueh, Tettnang, and Tettnanger hops with an IBU finishing at low but respectable 25. Orange peel, ginger, and cinnamon are added to give the beer its festive flavor and the beer clocks in at 5.9%ABV.
ME: Standard beer to start, deep mahogany pour with ample head and lace. The nose has a light touch of spice mixed with malt and chocolate. It’s the lightness in the spice that I appreciate the most about OF. This isn’t Anchor’s Our Special Ale, with an onslaught of spices on the palette no, this has a subtleness about it. A light touch of spice that doesn’t drowned out the basic beer.
The taste has a good backbone of malt which comes across as caramel or brown sugar with more spice layered in. I get the orange and ginger when I drink OF, with the cinnamon playing a very small part in the overall profile (which is good, I’m not much of a cinnamon fan).
The end is balanced, but not overly sharp as one would expect with 25IBUs. I know this term is over used, but I find this beer quite…drinkable, with a hint of lingering spice in the finish. I wish Santa would bring this back in stand alone six-packs, or at the very least bombers. I don’t think I’m asking for much. But I guess I’ll just have to continue to buy the Winter Collections every year.
So there you have it. One of my most looked forward to Holiday beers that perfectly aligns with one of my most looked forward to Holiday movies. But that’s not all.
After years of watching the many incarnations of A Christmas Carol, I one year got curious about the “Christmas Pudding” that takes center stage at the Cratchit family’s Holiday table, and of course, being a little bit of a kitchen troll, I eventually had to make it myself.
Think of traditional Christmas Pudding as a steamed fruit cake. If you only have moderate kitchen skills you can pull this off. The only unusual technique is the use of bain-maries, which you can think of as French for double boiler – because you know, they have a fancy word for everything. But seriously, there’s nothing tough here.
Below is a recipe I found on the internet on Simon Pearson’s Flickr account. It’s pretty consistent with other recipes I’ve researched over the years, and I’ve always had good luck with it. I encourage you to check out the original site with its awesome pictures. But because it’s on Flickr the step-by-step picture “next photo” procedure might be a little cumbersome, so I’ve unified the full recipe and added a few steps below.
Also, the recipe is in metric (if you’re baking or homebrewing, you SHOULD be using metric, but I know many don’t) so I’ve include the equivalent standard measures where needed. I’ve also translated it into what I’d call “Ed Baking Mode”, meaning that on occasion I take shortcuts that I’m sure would make a real baker quiver, but saves you from washing one or two bowls in the process. Enjoy!
1 orange (juice and zest)
3 baby carrots (cut into thin strips and then chopped)
1tbsp mixed spice (Mixed spice is the English cousin to pumpkin pie spice and usually contains cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. You can use PPS in a pinch, or mix your own. And don’t be afraid to add other spices like ginger or cloves if you wish.)
6.2oz (175g) dark muscovado sugar (you can usually find this in specialty food stores. Use dark brown sugar in a pinch)
1.8oz (50g) toasted pecans
5.3oz (150g) chopped dates
5.3oz (150g) chopped prunes
5.3oz (150g) raisins
5.3oz (150g) currants
5.3oz (150g) sultanas (Known here in the US as “Thompson Seedless” which is the grapes that raisins are made from, so they’re kind of redundant in my mind. I’ve substituted chopped dried apricots in the past.)
3 eggs (beaten, or not. See below)
6.2oz (175g) warm butter (easier to work with when warm)
4 slices crustless white bread (crumbed or chopped fine)
2.6oz (75g) blanched almonds, flaked (slivered almonds work)
2.6oz (75g) self-raising flour (you can find self-raising flour in any supermarket)
3.4oz (100ml) Guinness (a four pack of cans works best)
3.4oz (100ml) Grand Marnier
two pudding basins (use what you can find that will work. Circular is best, but mine aren’t)
two large pans with lids (to make bain-maries)
Set up the bain-maries: Put one of your pudding basins into each of the large pans. Fill the pans with water until the level of the water reaches about 3/4 of the way up the basin. Remove the basins.
Drink two of the cans of Guinness to insure freshness. If the Grand Marnier has been sitting around for awhile or looks suspicious, then have some of that also. How much? Until you’re satisfied that its good, or until you just don’t care anymore.
1 – In a bowl, stir together all the fruit, chopped carrots, OJ, Guinness and Grand Marnier. Let sit for at least one hour. Longer is better. Over night is killer. I substituted CB Honey for the Grand Marnier last year.
2 – In another bowl, combine orange zest, sugar, and butter. Mix until smooth like Barry White. Test the brandy.
3 – Add three eggs into the mix from #2 and mix to combine. You can beat them together in another bowl and add them in after – or decide there’s been enough violence in the world for one year and you’d like one less bowl to clean and add them unbeaten. It’s up to you. Finish drinking leftover Guinness, or if you’re still not sure about its motives, test the brandy again.
4 – Sieve into #3 the flour and mixed spice. Add the bread crumbs and nuts. Stir until they behave.
5 – Add the fruit that is now hopefully feeling as little pain as you are to #4 and mix together.
6 – Split the mixture into two well greased pudding basins. Cover with foil and use the string to tie them securely. If you’re feeling adventurous, try tying it in a away that gives you “handles” to easily place and remove the basins into your bain-maries. Or if you like your fingers steamed, don’t.
7 – Bring the water in the bain-maries to a strong simmer. The water should put off a lot of steam, but it shouldn’t be a rolling boil. Once the water is to temperature, lower one of the filled pudding basins into each bain-maries and cover.
8 – Let the puddings steam for 6 hours, checking the water level in the bain-maries often, and adding more water when needed to keep the level constant. This is a good time to test the brandy. What? I already did? I think you’re mistaken.
9 – Once done, carefully remove the basins. The puddings can be immediately turned out and served, or left to cool in the basins and refrigerated for later.
10 – To serve, turn out onto a platter, pour brandy on top of the pudding (I poke a small dent in the middle of the top of pudding to create a well) and light (my lawyers instruct me that I must tell you to be careful with this step. We are not responsible for tabletops, eyebrows or long-haired pets). Owww and Ahhh until the flame goes out. Slice and serve. If serving hot I suggest serving with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and a snifter of something good, like scotch or hey, brandy (if there’s any left at this point.)
[AUTHOR’S NOTE: The post is part of my NOCTOBER series. A group of posts I’ll be writing throughout November that are about subjects I would have written about in October if I hadn’t taken several weeks off to focus on Halloween. ]
When I first grabbed a bottle of Evil Genius Beer Company’s Trick or Treat, Chocolate Pumpkin Porter; I thought, “SCORE!” I mean, what better beer to review during the Halloween season than one named Trick or Treat, and what better brewery for that beer to come out of than one named Evil Genius? This was a slam dunk I thought as far a blog post was concerned because after all, evil geniuses are common place in the landscape that is horror movies and saluting some of them during this review seemed appropriate. That is until I actually started my research for this post – and found out that many of them are simply getting by on their reputations.
When it comes to evil geniuses in the horror world, Doctor Frankenstein should immediately come to mind, and it is true that in several movies he’s pretty villainous. However in Mary Shelly’s classic novel, the Doctor is actually more of a morally straight forward, momma’s boy who embarks on a quest to circumvent the laws of nature when his mother dies of scarlet fever. Throughout the novel, Doctor Frankenstein’s motives are generally good, oh yeah there’s that whole “grave robbing thing” but lets be honest, that was so common place back then that I often wonder why they even bothered to bury people in the first place. The story ends up being mostly about the good Doctor’s attempts to destroy his creation, which totally tanks his EG cred.
Then there’s Griffin, AKA The Invisible Man, who’s been played in classic movies by the voices of Claude Rains and Vincent Price. Griffin is a successful scientist in the field of refraction who discovers a way to change the skin’s refractive index to that of air, rendering himself invisible. And although that should certainly qualify you as a genius, the lack of forethought about the consequences of being invisible add serious penalties to his EG score. Like the fact that you’re basically going to be running around naked in Southern England during the winter months, and all that amazing covertness you were trying to obtain from invisibility will go out the window when villagers see a heavily bandaged man (or just a single waist-high sock) walking down the street. In fact, H.G. Wells paints Griffin as a man who clearly can’t grasp the grand scope of the possibilities of his invisibility, to the point where at the end of the story, just as he’s finally beginning to formulate plans for a “reign of terror” against the nation; he’s subdued and killed by local villagers. A man who was invisible. Kill by a bunch of sheep herders. Not genius.
Dr Jekyll and Mister Hyde? Yes! Now we’re talking. The internal struggle between good and evil that exists in every man. But Robert Lewis Stevenson’s tale of caution actually has a subdued context when it comes to evil. True, Doctor Jekyll found a way to transfer himself into Mister Hyde, allowing Doctor Jekyll to indulge in vices that would be unseemly to a man of his social ranking, but Stevenson never mentions what these vices are although the social morals of the time of the story could indicate that they were things like carousing in seedy taverns and fraternizing with morally questionable women – or what my friends and I used to call ‘Saturday night’. In fact the only crime Hyde commits openly in the book is a murder during one of his last transformations, which is horrible, don’t get me wrong, but not “I want to rule the world” bad. And Genius? Jekyll dispatches himself when he realizes he can not recreate the formula that keeps him from turning into Hyde. Evil geniuses never give up.
No, sadly some of the most iconic figures in classic horror aren’t the evil geniuses I originally thought them to be. And the ones that are present don’t equal any where near the number you find in comics, TV or cartoons – genres of entertainment that the evil genius truly thrives in.
People like Lex Luthor, Doctor Doom, Sideshow Bob, Gru and of course my absolute favorite:
*FACEPALM* NOOoooo. Ok…..maybe a little…but put up the other picture anyway…
So can Evil Genius’ Trick or Treat rekindle my belief and faith in the “Evil Geniuses” of the world? Let’s Taste.
THEM: ToT is built on a grain bill of 2 Row, Crystal malt, Chocolate malt, and Roasted Barley. It features Warrior and Tettnang hops to the tune of 35IBU and is fermented to 7.8% ABV. From the website, “Our Chocolate Pumpkin Porter melds together rich chocolate decadence with fall spices. Notes of cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg collide with a delicious chocolate flavor to create a whirlwind of flavor in your glass“.
ME: Oh Hello! I drank half of this before I even typed one letter of this review. The nose is bursting with chocolate, a slight touch of malt and memories of sticking my nose into a carton of malted milk balls. After a bit I begin to pick up subtle spices in the mix which puts me in mind of that designer chocolate you can buy now different spices in it. The flavor is more kick ass chocolate with hints of dry cocoa all of which end pretty neutral in the back. There’s a touch of syrupy sweetness in the end, but it’s not over powering.
The pumpkin aspect of this beer is rather subdued. I can catch some of the spices in the nose and every now and then I believe I can pick out the pumpkin, but to be honest if you gave this to me blind I probably would have never pulled the pumpkin out – not that this is a bad thing. To be honest I’m glad that the spices and pumpkin weren’t so prominent that they distract from the fact that, at its heart, Trick or Treat is all about being a very good chocolate porter first, and a seasonal pumpkin beer second. At least that’s the way I see it.
Genius? I’ve always maintained that the subtle use of flavors like spices, coffee and bourbon in a beer usually is.
As I’m writing this, summer is on its last leg. Seriously. It is 9:37pm on Monday September, 22nd and Summer only has an hour or so to live. No, this isn’t some kind of Soap Opera or Murder Mystery, it’s just the normal changing of the seasons. The autumnal equinox happens tonight (or last night, as you’re reading this) at 10:29pm EDT and while many people may be mourning the death of summer, I’m going to be honest, I love fall.
OH don’t me wrong, I don’t love winter any more than you do. Freezing, winds, ice – no thank you. But before all that crap comes, it’s fall, and fall my friends is awesome. Cool nights, turning leaves, beautiful skies and of course Halloween.
As I stated in my recent Full Moon post the reason behind all this is that Earth is moving to a very important point in its orbit around the sun. Throughout are lives we’ve been taught about the equinox’s and everything they supposedly mean as far as designating equal time between day and night. But as I said in my recent Full Moon post, it’s really all wrong.
The day and night on the equinox are not “equal”, most certainly not all over the world. As I wrote before, sunset and sunrise are marked by the last trace of the sun sliding under the horizon, and the first glimpse of it rising above the horizon (respectively) which means technically daylight always beats out night by a few minutes on the day of the equinox. But there’s another factor that makes this whole “equal time” rule get all fuzzy.
The sun plays a trick on you. Every night, every morning. Well, actually that’s not true; the trick is played by Earth, thanks to its atmosphere. Because of the refraction of light through the Earth’s atmosphere, the sun appears to remain longer in the morning and evening skies than it actually does. As a matter of fact, if you’ve ever watched the sunset at Mallory Square in Key West, by the time the last wisp of the sun’s disk disappears below the horizon it in fact has already been set for quite some time.
And don’t get me started on what living near the North or South poles brings to all this confusion.
So with all these deviations due to definitions and nature trickery what truly is an Equinox? It can be simply thought of as one of two points in the Earth’s orbit in which neither pole points at any degree towards the sun. Because the Earth rotates on a tilt of 23.5 degrees, either the North or South pole is always pointing more towards the sun (even ever so slightly) than the other except at these two points in the Earth’s orbit.
So what’s equal? As we know from the whole “short days in the winter, long days in the summer”, the sun’s path across the sky moves throughout the year. Its highest path across the sky happens sometime around June 21st at the Summer Solstice, and its lowest around December 21st at the Winter Solstice. On the two Equinoxes, the path of the sun lays equally between the two at a point referred to as the celestial equator.
THEM: The beer appears to be a straight ahead IPA, containing only 2-row pale and caramel malts, while being bittered (55 IBU) and flavored strictly by Equinox hops. The beer starts out at 15.7° plato and ferments down to 6.5%ABV.
Equinox is sibling of the Warrior hop variety and is supposed to bring aromas of citrus (lemon, lime), tropical fruit (papaya), floral, apple, green pepper and herbal characteristics.
ME: Equinox is a nice looking beer, transitioning from a nice golden to a somewhat orange color from the bottom to the top of my glass. The carbonation is on point, nice white head that lasts long enough, and a considerable amount of lacing around the glass as I drink it. The malt balance is there but to be honest its a little more restrained than I like in my IPAs but it is in line with where SN balances their other beers. I am getting the slightest bread/cracker thing going on, but other than that, it all about the Equinox.
In the nose there’s citrus, some earth (herbal?) and a sprinkling of pine. The flavor continues these flavors, adding a touch of spice and maybe some woody undertones. This is a hoppy beer make no mistake, but it’s not a hop burner by any means, OK, maybe by the time you get to the bottom of the bottle, but really, it’s not overly aggressive.
I’m getting fruit out of it, but my brain keeps wanting to say grapefruit, but I don’t think so. When was the last time I had papaya? And I’m totally missing the green pepper. I’m wondering if this review would have been better served if I’d tasted this beer side-by-side with a few others from Sierra Nevada’s line. Some times that helps a lot. Still time.
Overall? Nice beer, definitely something you should grab a hold of if you want to do a little homework on this new hop, as I’m sure you’ll be seeing it utilized by other breweries in the future. As far as an everyday beer is concerned? Well, if you like the profiles this hop is bringing to the table, then it may possibly be an option. After all, where I buy beer, I can get a bomber bottle of it for $4.99, which isn’t bad. New hop or not.
A lot of craft beer buzzing has been made in my area recently when DFH announced that the next in their line of musical inspired beers, “Beer Thousand”, inspired by the 20th anniversary of Guided by Voices album Bee Thousand would soon be available in both bomber and 12oz bottles. Possibly overlooked with that announcement is that their previous release in the series, American Beauty, was making its second appearance on beer shelves.
The “music series” as I like to call it refers to a series of beer that DFH releases that takes its inspiration from an artist or group in the the musical world. Some, to me, are fairly obvious like Hell Hound on My Ale which is a nod to the late, great Robert Johnson (one of my fav blues players [I realize that’s probably boarder line cliche] and one of my favorite DFH beers), to acts that I probably should be ashamed to say I’ve never heard of like Deltron 3030, which was the inspiration for DFH’s Positive Contact.
It really should be no surprise (at least in hindsight it’s not to me) that sooner or later DFH would land on the improvisational, jam band The Grateful Dead to inspire a beer. And inspire they did. Not only is the beer named after the band’s double platinum certified 1970 album, but DFH took this opportunity, inspired (there’s that word again) by the grass roots element of the band, to do what they have done with several of their beers – rely on crowd sourcing for the ingredients. DFH pooled the Grateful Dead fans as to what they felt would be excellent ingredients for the definitive Grateful Dead beer and received a good number of suggestions (20% of which Sam says were illegal) and the one that stood out the most was granola (organic naturally).
While casual outsiders may associate the Grateful Dead more for tie-dyed shirts and the willingness to allow concert members to record shows; those who followed the band and spent many hours in the park lots before those concerts also equate the band with the granola that sustained them while they awaited their favorite band to hit the stage. One aspect of this crowd sourcing was that each submission had to come with a story as to why the suggested ingredient made a connection with that person to the Grateful Dead, and Tom Butler’s story was chosen from the granola suggesters which allowed him and his father to go to the brewery and take part in the brewing of American Beauty.
If you think about it, granola is a slam dunk in beer recipes. Consisting of things like rolled oats, nuts, honey, rice and dried fruits, this health food staple isn’t very far from things that brewers would use in beers naturally. So this beer should be pretty straight forward, right?. Is it? Let’s taste.
THEM: American Beauty is designated as an Imperial Pale Ale brewed with all-American malts and hops, so I’m expecting a pop of hop, but not in the IPA/DIPA range. Orange blossom honey granola from Grizzly’s Granola in Eugene Oregon, was added to the hot side of the beer. The newish hop #366 hop was used for both aroma and locking in the 55IBUs, and the alcohol measures in at 9%ABV.
Hop #366 is an experimental variety that several of the breweries are playing with now. A relative of Warrior, this hop is supposed to bring all sorts of good things to the party; citrus, tropical fruit, floral, herbal characteristics, lemon, lime, papaya, apple, and green pepper. It still is referred too as #366 in a lot of places, although it’s apparently been named Equinox(TM) by its developers, The Hop Breeding Company. Besides American Beauty you can find it in Brooklyn’s Scorcher, and a version of Lagunitas Sucks.
ME: This is really nice. As I hoped, the hops are not overly done here but they do bring a nice citrus to the party. I was getting a little lemon in the mix along with a touch of pine, and when it warmed it actually had a little tea quality going on. The subdued hops allow the malt, grain, honey and a nutty quality of the beer to shine through that for me is the really beauty of this American beer (I know, malt over hops? Blasphemy!). The booze hides pretty well while the beer is cold, but you can detect a bit of the warmth the closer to room temperature it gets (although you might not want to let it get as close to room temperature as I did. I poured my second glass and then walked away from it and got side tracked). The carbonation is just the way I love it (if it’s not overly nerdy to geek out over carbonation). The head is pretty good and doesn’t fade totally away after the initial pour, but I love the rush of bubbles that’s formed in the liquid that’s at the edge of the glass (plus the sparkling lace that’s left behind) when you tilt the glass back and forth. I may have to post a video of that one day just so everyone knows what I’m talking about. It really is a good looking, and good tasting, beer in the glass.
I’m actually sad I waited so long to review this beer as I probably would have picked up several bottles and enjoyed it on draft a couple of times over that past months. Luckily, as I said above, DFH given me a chance to atone for my mistake by releasing another bottling onto the shelves pretty soon. Thanks guys! Time for another beer…
So you’re probably asking yourself, “what does a beer in a series based on the seven deadly sins from a brewery in Denmark have to do with a beer blog centered around Delaware?” Well to be honest, nothing. But much like LimpD over at It’s Just the Booze Dancing indicated that he is sometimes drawn in by creative packaging, so too am I.
It especially hits while I’m roaming the long shelves at State Line Liquors surveying the hundreds and hundreds of possible selections. At times like these, when I’m being over whelmed by the shear volume of choices, that unique packaging or a bit of creativity from the brewery can help their product standout from the rest.
So it was that the other day I came across a series of beers from Amager Bryghus (Don’t bother unless you can read Danish. The button that is supposed to bring up an English translation of their website only pulls up a page that says, “Sorry we haven’t gotten to the English translation yet.” But hey, at least THAT’S in English.) in Denmark, each named after one of the infamous seven deadly sins.
The origins of the seven deadly sins can be traced back to the bible in the Old Testament:
These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. (Proverbs 6:16-19)
Over time, the concept of “capital vices” was expanded and passed on to Western Christianity through translations of the Greek monk Evagrius Ponticus where they remained pretty much unchanged for two centuries. Then, in 590AD, Pope Gregory I (The Great) consolidated several of this sins into one and shorten the list down to the seven sins we commonly know today.
The theme of the seven deadly sins has been used endlessly throughout history. References to them can be found in tapestries, paintings, sculptures, stained glass and just about any other form of art, especially those incorporated by the Catholic Church.
They also turn up in more modern art forms, probably most notably in the movie Se7en, in which Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman portray detectives trying to capture a kill responsible for a series of grisly murders patterned after each one of the sins. In the WB series Supernatural, some of the seven deadly sins turn up in the personification of demons which have escaped from Hell. And in Jimmy Buffett’s “Bank of Bad Habits”, the singer references each sin and how it should not be applied to your neighbor’s wife, as well as reveling that the up until now unknown eighth deadly sin is (of course), pizza. Not to mention being the title of one of my favorite Flogging Molly songs.
Those last, more…cavalier, uses of the seven deadly sins is a common departure now a days from the more stern warning the original Bible passage was meant to be. Most likely because, although in the case of a few of them, our modern “everything in moderation” world allows us to accept that there are going to be occasions where sins such as gluttony are going to get the best of us. I’m thinking BBQ.
What’s that? So with a shelf full of sins to chose from, why did I chose Lust? Well..ah.. HEY, LOOK AT THE TIME! LET’S TASTE!
THEM: As I said, the website is in Danish with no supplied English translation. But with the help of Google Translate I’ve been able to find out that the website really gives us very little information on how this puppy is brewed. It does speak poetically about brewing the beer with “sensual sugars”, but other than that there’s not much to glean. Well, except that they decided not to add powdered deer penis to it. That’s a plus, right? Yeah, that has to be a plus.
Anyway, as a result, we’re going to have to go…to the label!
Lust is a Belgian style ale that clocks in at 9.2%ABV. I’ll give you a second to digest all of that. Ready? Let’s move on.
DELAWARE AVAILABILITY: State Line Liquors
ME: Lust pours a deep brown with a fluffy off-white head that recedes into an island/ring of bubbles that leaves a very nice lace on the glass when swirled. With the depth of color it doesn’t jump out at you right away, but the beer is cloudy, almost as if it was bottle conditioned, although nothing in the information states to that.
The nose turns to the sweet side, with notes of chocolate, malt, brown sugar and a slight touch of that candi sugar taste that’s not uncommon in some Belgian beers. There’s also a touch of fruit in there, thinking raisins, but it’s the sweet smells that really take center stage here.
The taste is pretty much the same – sugars, honey, malt; a touch more fruit that I’m not able to pull out and identify. The beer leaves a full on coating of sweetness all over your mouth, but at the end there’s also a touch of coolness, almost like a mint (it’s not mint), and the slightest pop of booze.
Lust is a big mouthful of sweetness (is there a metaphor there?) with a touch of attempted balance on the back end, but with each sip it paints your mouth with coat upon coat of sticky sweetness. Much like first time home owners in the 90s trying desperately to cover up those horrible 70s colors in the living room and kitchen. The beer is good, well constructed, and although the sweetness is in line with what the brewers apparently had in mind, at the end of the glass it’s just too much for me. I liked Lust well enough that I might try some of the other Sin Series beers in the future, but not so much that I would have this one again. And it certainly wouldn’t take a place amongst my regulars.
What’s that? Oh you know, those regular beers you always turn to when you just want to “have a beer”. No thinking, no searching. Just you and the beer. See sometimes in our constant quest to try every beer we can get our hands on, we come upon one that….ah, but that’s another post.
The other deadly sins (and therefore the other beers in Amager’s series) are Envy (West Coast IPA), Glutony (Imperial IPA), Greed (Pilsner), Pride (Imperial Stout), Sloth (American Pale Ale), and Wrath (Saison aged in Pinot Noir Barrels). Which would you chose?
With out a doubt one of the coolest things about homebrewing revolves around brewing something outside of the box and then having a commercial brewer formulate a similar beer, allowing you to compare your moment of insane madness to something that you can actually purchase off the liquor store shelf.
Back in the day (yes, I’m old enough to have a back in the day) when I was an avid homebrewer I collaborated with two other guys who worked in the same building that I did. We brewed together, gave each other criticism when it was warranted and drank the shit out of each others beer when it was not. We popped into the local homebrew club on occasion, went to beer festivals together and spent many hours bouncing ideas off of each other concerning which beers we were going to brew next.
I wish I could tell you that I was the adventurous one in the trio, but no. I was perfectly content brewing low alcohol English beers like bitters, milds and stouts. My buddy Rob jumped into the hobby and immediately fell in love with hops, experimenting with different varieties as he brewed beers that were more in line with American pale ales and IPAs. And then there was Jon, AKA Kal. Oh yeah, and then there was Kal.
Kal was gifted with that rare (if not scary) combination of creativity, energy and ADD that would allow him to deduce that it was a good idea to paint his house traffic cone orange, and have it halfway finished in the small amount of time it would take you or I to realize that, no, it probably wasn’t the best idea we’d ever had, especially where our neighbors were concerned. But while in some areas like home decor this would be considered a detriment, in the arena of homebrewing it was plus, for the most part.
Today’s tight rope walking brewers would have loved Kal. Anything he read or heard of – on ANY level – was immediately translated into “what can I do with that?” He planted a large plot of wild millet simply on someone’s comment that millet was an ingredient in some styles of beer where wheat was not necessarily the bumper crop that it is here in America.
Another of Kal’s personality traits was to take all the interests in his life and weave them together in any way possible, and Kal, well he was a boater and a crabber even more so than a homebrewer. Few people would shrug off the obvious combination that is crabs and beer, and of course a large part of what makes crabs so tasty is the spice; whether it be Old Bay, Zataran’s or Wye Seasoning, that us crab lovers use to morph a bushel of nasty, bottom scavengers into a picnic table full of steaming, summer goodness.
So of course, at some point when his brain probably should have been doing something more beneficial, he came up with the idea that if beer and crabs are a quintessential pairing in the culinary world, then why can’t the beer share in some of the spice delivery as well? And as always, before rational thought and common sense could be brought into the picture, Kal had 5 gallons of crab spiced beer fermenting away.
Maybe. I don’t remember where he actually introduced the spice in the brewing process, but the end result was Kal’s Old Imperial Crabby. Now I’m also not sure where the “Imperial” came from. We didn’t have all this “Imperial this” and “Imperial that”, back then that we do today, although I will say that Kal brewed very few things less than 6%ABV, considering low ABV beers well, girly.
So there was Kal, happily telling people of his new zymurgilogical creation, keeping us updated as to its progress and when we would all be able to sample his latest conception that most assuredly would change the face of homebrewing as we knew it. A beer with crab spice, served with crabs. Stories would be written. And songs would be sung. Except.
Kal in his usual rush to quickly jump on what he thought was an amazing idea, used commercial crab seasoning in his brew, totally overlooking the fact that commercial crab seasoning has a boat load of salt in it. I’ll give you a minute to process that.
It was a fine summer day with Kal and I heading out on a local river hoping to catch at least a enough crabs to warrant firing up a propane cooker. As usual (and not smartly) we were trading homebrews from our boat coolers and discussed our creations. After a bit, as we were finishing up baiting the last of the cages, he gave me a sly smile and pulled out a bottle from an up till now unopened cooler that had been sitting off to the side, and handed it to me. “Old Imperial Crabby,” he said with all the pride he could muster as if handing me his first born child to hold. “Tell me what you think.”
Have you processed that boat load of salt yet? Yeah, well it didn’t take my mouth long to process it. To this day Kal still takes pride that he brewed the only beer he’s ever seen me spit out. I would try to describe it, but I really don’t think I have too. You all get the picture. Big crab seasoning flavor, saltier than the dead sea, undrinkable. We’re all on the same page, right? Although in its defense, it did turn out to be a nice ingredient in the pot of crabs we steamed later that day.
So the other day when State Line Liquors posted up a picture showing a case stack of Flying Dog’s Dead Rise, a Summer ale brewed with Old Bay, I of course thought of that fateful morning when I salt rinsed my mouth, and of course, absolutely HAD to try it.
Did the guys at Flying Dog manage to avoid the error that Kal so horribly made with Old Imperial Crabby? I’m pretty sure that they did, but let’s taste anyway.
THEM: The grain bill for Dead Rise is built on Acidulated, rye and malted white wheat; and balanced with northern brewer (hello!), CTZ (Columbus/Tomahawk/Zeus) and cascade hops. The folks at Flying Dog worked with the folks at Old Bay for six months to get the recipe and balance where they wanted it. The beer clocks in at 25IBUs and is fermented with a German ale yeast to 5.6%ABV.
From the website, “The name Dead Rise comes from deadrise boats, which are commercial fishing and crabbing vessels designed and built specifically to navigate the unique waterways of the Chesapeake Bay. The bottom near the bow is a V-shape to cut through the often-choppy Bay. Then, it flattens out closer to the stern, making it more navigable in shallow water.”
And, “Proceeds from Dead Rise will benefit True Blue, a restaurant certification and consumer awareness program that promotes sustainably harvested Maryland Blue Crab and rewards restaurants that serve Maryland crabmeat.” Beer and a good cause, you know I’m all about that. But wait? Acidulated?
Acidulated malt is a variety of malted barley that contains ~1-2% lactic acid which is traditionally used to adjust the pH of the mash. It’s usually used in small amounts, typically 10% or less of the grain bill. You can find it commonly used in Berliner weisse and German Gose.
ME: Dead Rise pours a cloudy straw color with a very nice, fluffy white head. The head actually looks pretty nice, but sadly doesn’t stay around long until it dissipates into into a ring of bubbles circling the glass, but the carbonation continues vigorously long after the beer is poured. The nose definitely brings back memories of standing over a pot of steaming crabs – heaven to an Eastern Shore descendent like myself. But that’s not all, dancing about in that spice you’ll find slight hint of citrus (lemons) as well.
I brace myself and sip. Yeah, of course these guys wouldn’t make the same mistake Kal made. The flavor is happily saltless, with flavors reminiscent of crab seasoning (pepper, paprika, etc) as well as more citrus and the ever so slight inkling of malt. The finish has a nice peppery bite to it, along with a cheek bite. This isn’t a big beer, which you’d expect from a Summer thirst quencher, instead what we have here is a beer you could drink all day, if you’re the type of person that passes up regular chips on the ACME shelf for the Old Bay flavored ones in the silver bag.
Would it go good with crabs, or a low country boil? I’m not sure how it could not. Some might think the spiced beer might be overly redundant, but I don’t think so. I bought a six-pack wondering if I was going to be able to drink the whole thing and had no problem polishing it off over the weekend. Heck, even Tracey liked it.
So what ever happened to our trio of happy brewers? Well, after some time our building was shut down and we were scattered across our company and for different reasons, we all eventually dropped out of homebrewing; Rob just because he didn’t have anyone to bounce things off of anymore, Kal because he feel in love with the idea of making herbal wines instead, and me, well I’m the sad cliche “had kids.” Last time I talked to both of them they sadly admitted that their homebrew days were long behind them.
Me however, I’m not ready to accept that I’ve brewed my last batch of beer just yet. But that’s another post.