February 26, 2010

Three Sheets to the Wind

Luckily, that title doesn't describe how I got last night. Rather, it was a celebration of Ballast Point beers at Sidecar Bar (and is also the name of Ballast Point's barleywine).

Regular readers of my blog know how much I love Ballast Point. Big Eye, Sculpin, Dorado - some of my favorite beers. Last night I got to try a few others, including the Three Sheets, Victory at Sea, and Sea Monster. I also had some great food: fish fry (I forgot how much I loved fried shrimp), mahi mahi tacos, and a margherita pizza. Sounds like I ate a ton, but all were shared around the table.

Three Sheets to the Wind is a barleywine, but it tasted unlike any other barleywine I've had before. It actually tasted more like an IPA. It had a very bitter finish. The other barleywines I've had have been much sweeter, more fruity. This was good, just not what I was expecting.

Victory at Sea is a coffee vanilla imperial porter. It's 10% but doesn't really taste that strong due to the nice balance between roasty coffee tastes, vanilla, and caramel malts. I really liked this one.

The Sea Monster Stout is (duh) a stout. A really, really good stout. Nice, thick, chocolatey, roasty goodness. I actually have a 22 oz bottle of this just waiting for me to drink it at home. Today would be a perfect day for it - snow on the ground, some snow still falling.

Sidecar Bar has a lot of great events coming up, so be sure to check out their site.

February 25, 2010

Port Brewing Shark Attack Double Red Ale

Monday night was a good one at Memphis Taproom. Tomme Arther, head brewer at Port Brewing and Lost Abbey was on site. Sadly, I didn't get to meet him (it was packed and he was swarmed) but I did get to try a couple of great beers.

I had the Lost Abbey Carnavale, but literally only a taste. It was really delicious - a saison ale that was slightly spicy, slightly citrusy. I need to find it so I can have a real drink of it. I also had a taste of the Port Brewing Mongo, a double IPA that was quite good.

The beer I decided to focus on that night was the Port Brewing Shark Attack Double Red Ale. It poured a deep, dark red. The smell was nice and hoppy, but mixed with some sweet malt as well. The taste was sweet from the malts without much of a hop bite. There was also the taste of some dried fruit, and it wasn't overly bitter. It's a pretty drinkable big beer - 9% ABV - but the alcohol does come through a bit more when the beer warms, making it somewhat less enjoyable (unless you like that big alcohol taste). I think this is one worth trying.

I would like to point out that the other two Lost Abbey/Port Brewing beers I've had were not really to my liking, so I'm excited to find and write about the Carnavale. I'd also like to get my hands on some Wipeout IPA and Hop 15, because I've heard nothing but good things about both.

February 20, 2010

To remain a vegetarian or not, that is the question

This post is not beer related. Well, it's somewhat related to beer. You'll see what I mean.

I've been a vegetarian for almost 6 years. I guess pescatarian, or vegaquarian, since I do eat fish. Lots of fish. I don't eat meat - no chicken, no turkey, no pork, beef, duck, rabbit. I don't drink milk, but I do eat cheese and on occasion, ice cream. I'm a selective vegetarian, I guess.

I choose to eat this way because I've never been a huge fan of meat. One of my earliest memories is of me spitting my meat in to my napkin at dinner because I didn't want to eat it. When I finally was old enough to make decisions about what I was going to eat, I stopped eating red meat and pork, but continued with chicken and turkey. Then a few years back I decided to do the Atkins diet and jumped back on the meat wagon in a big way. I ate meat at every meal and little to no carbs. That didn't last very long. I read a book - Skinny Bitch - that opened my eyes to the way animals were treated prior to being slaughtered, and that was it. I was back to not eating meat, only this time I threw turkey and chicken in there with pork and beef.

Here I am 6 years later. Over the years I've eaten a piece (bite) of steak here and there. But lately I've been feeling this urge for a burger. Or a whole steak. I feel like as I'm expanding my palette through my love of craft beers and good wines, I'm missing out on some really wonderful tastes. I'm not talking about things like McDonald's hamburgers (which I can say I've never eaten) or Kentucky Fried Chicken. I'm talking about delicacies. Great burgers (which there is no lack of in Philly). Rare steaks. Maybe try some pork belly. Or quail. Even rabbit. The other day at lunch I had half a trotter - yes, a deep fried pig foot. It was good, even though I felt a bit guilty as I ate it. I also had some braised short rib that I thought was fantastic.

My resolve is wavering. I've felt good over the past few years proclaiming myself a vegaquarian. But now I think I'm ready to proclaim myself a food adventurer, willing and wanting to try new things. At least in small portions.

February 16, 2010

Eisenbahn Defumada

Was meeting a friend for lunch at Chifa today. We were supposed to meet at noon. I got there just before then, at just about the same time I got a text from her saying that she had to push it back to 12:15. Since I was already there, I decided to go in and have myself a drink. I don't always drink at noon on a weekday, but I justified it with thoughts of Mardi Gras (which made me think of when I actually would to go out drinking all day on Mardi Gras and some of the crazy, crazy times I've had. But that's another post. For another blog. That I would only write anonymously.)

Anyway, I decided to try something completely different (for me) - a smoked lager. It was called Eisenbahn Defumada, but some research shows that it also goes by Eisenbahn Rauchbier. It's brewed by Cervejaria Sudbrack Ltda in Brazil. No matter it's name, it was a tasty beer.

It poured a dark, clear amber. "Rauch" is German for "smoke" and the smoke was evident in the smell, but wasn't overpowering. Malty sweetness was there, too. The taste wasn't surprising given the smell - there were smoked flavors, and sweet caramel malt. It was very crisp. And it has a low ABV - 6.3%. I can't say I loved it, but I'm really not a huge fan of lagers. However, I found this to be more drinkable than other lagers, I think because the smokiness made it a little more interesting than the lagers I'm used to drinking.

February 12, 2010

A Beer Brainstorm - Left Hand Fade to Black

Last week I posted a guest review from fellow beer blogger Josh who writes at LostintheBeerAisle.com. He mentioned that he'd previously done a "beer-brainstorm" with another beer blogger, and it sounded fun to me. So we chose a beer, a date, and a time. Last night it all came together and below is the repost of what Josh put on his site from our session. As Josh so rightfully points out, this was a hell of a lot more fun than drinking/reviewing alone - thank you, Josh!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Left Hand Fade to Black

Tonight I'm posting my second ever chat-based beer brainstorm. Tonight my co-reviewer is Helene, which you may recall runs PhillyBeerGirl.blogspot.com. Doing this kind of review is 100 times more fun than drinking and reviewing alone! Many thanks to Helene!!!

PhillyBeerGirl: hey
@Lost_in_Beer: Howdy
@Lost_in_Beer: Have you warmed the beer at all?
PhillyBeerGirl: I didn't really - I grabbed it out of the fridge just about 5 minutes or so ago
PhillyBeerGirl: how about you?
@Lost_in_Beer: only a few minutes more...maybe 10-15
@Lost_in_Beer: I've never had this before...have you?
PhillyBeerGirl: Nope - I'm excited though, because people seem to really love it
PhillyBeerGirl: What do you get when you smell it?
PhillyBeerGirl: I'm getting coffee, toffee, maybe some caramel
@Lost_in_Beer: I've got a crazy confession about the aroma
@Lost_in_Beer: The last two beers I've had were toffee flavored. Both times (this one included) I smell olives
@Lost_in_Beer: It's creepy
@Lost_in_Beer: I'm 99% sure that my nose interprets toffee oddly
PhillyBeerGirl: Are you smelling the burnt smell, too?
@Lost_in_Beer: Nope, none of that action
@Lost_in_Beer: i think I'm picking up the coffee aroma you mentioned though
@Lost_in_Beer: Much head on your pour?
PhillyBeerGirl: No, not really
PhillyBeerGirl: Yours?
@Lost_in_Beer: Ditto
@Lost_in_Beer: Not even 1 finger
@Lost_in_Beer: The pour was a little syrupy looking
PhillyBeerGirl: I completely agree - was thinking the same thing when I poured it
PhillyBeerGirl: Although now that it's been sitting in my glass for a few minutes, it doesn't look as thick as I'd originally thought
@Lost_in_Beer: I just tasted this puppy though
PhillyBeerGirl: Okay, I'm going in for the taste now
@Lost_in_Beer: Totally coffee
PhillyBeerGirl: Oh yeah, but some sweetness, too
PhillyBeerGirl: And definitely bitter
@Lost_in_Beer: yeah, interesting mix of bitter & sweet. Initially I think it's fairly well balanced
PhillyBeerGirl: I think so, too
@Lost_in_Beer: And although I didn't get burnt smell, I do think it's definitely smokey tasting
PhillyBeerGirl: It's a pretty strong beer - 8.5% - and I think you can taste some of that
PhillyBeerGirl: Not overwhelmingly - but maybe just a hint of it like a little alcohol at the end
@Lost_in_Beer: Thus far, you think it meets the hype you heard?
PhillyBeerGirl: I do think it lives up to the hype
PhillyBeerGirl: It's really drinkable and like you said nicely balanced between bitter and sweet
PhillyBeerGirl: Getting anything more as the beer warms a bit?
@Lost_in_Beer: I was about to say that the character isn't changing much
@Lost_in_Beer: Which honestly surprises me with a beer this dark
@Lost_in_Beer: not complaining....
PhillyBeerGirl: I feel like I'm getting some fruit flavors - maybe plum?
@Lost_in_Beer: Could be some dark fruit in there. If anything the beer gets slightly sweeter as it warms.
@Lost_in_Beer: Your opinion on carbonation / mouth feel?
PhillyBeerGirl: Yeah, maybe a little less bitter
PhillyBeerGirl: Not too heavily carbonated
@Lost_in_Beer: agreed
PhillyBeerGirl: But definitely not flat
@Lost_in_Beer: Yeah...not as syrupy as the pour appeared
PhillyBeerGirl: Yes! Like I said, when I first started to pour I thought it was going to be very syrupy
PhillyBeerGirl: And then seeing it in the glass and tasting it - it doesn't really go with what I thought I'd get from that first pour
@Lost_in_Beer: Have you ever had a super flat, thick beer?
PhillyBeerGirl: Um, I don't think I have
PhillyBeerGirl: I don't know that I'd really like that
@Lost_in_Beer: I had one once. I think it was Sam Adams Triple Bock.
@Lost_in_Beer: Straight down the drain
PhillyBeerGirl: It was that good, huh?
@Lost_in_Beer: hehe
@Lost_in_Beer: Tasted like it looked: black sludge
@Lost_in_Beer: Nothing like this beer :)
PhillyBeerGirl: Do you like beers that are bourbon-barrel aged?
@Lost_in_Beer: HELL YES
PhillyBeerGirl: You should try Port Brewing Older Viscosity
PhillyBeerGirl: Or Lost Abbey Angel Share
PhillyBeerGirl: You'd probably love them both
@Lost_in_Beer: I'll add them to my shopping list on the site
@Lost_in_Beer: See if I can get them here
@Lost_in_Beer: Any final thoughts on the Fade to Black?
PhillyBeerGirl: I would definitely buy it again and recommend it
PhillyBeerGirl: I think it's a solid brew
@Lost_in_Beer: Ditto
@Lost_in_Beer: Dark roasted malts and coffee deliciousness
@Lost_in_Beer: Perfectly balanced
@Lost_in_Beer: That's how I would sum it up
PhillyBeerGirl: We're in agreement then
PhillyBeerGirl: This was really fun!
@Lost_in_Beer: I love doing these
@Lost_in_Beer: So much more fun then drinking alone
PhillyBeerGirl: Totally agreed on that, too!
@Lost_in_Beer: Tonight I would have been stuck watching Oprah with the wife while reviewing :)
PhillyBeerGirl: haha - I'm glad I could save you from that (although I do love me some Oprah!)
@Lost_in_Beer: I'll be honest...it isn't that bad
@Lost_in_Beer: Unless it's one of those sappy-make-you-cry shows
@Lost_in_Beer: Then I tap out...
@Lost_in_Beer: (mostly because I'm a sap and I cry b/c of that stuff)
@Lost_in_Beer: LOL
PhillyBeerGirl: make sure you leave that in when you post this
@Lost_in_Beer: hehe...maybe
@Lost_in_Beer: Anyhow...I should eat before I end up in a booze coma on the couch
@Lost_in_Beer: Thanks again for doing this
PhillyBeerGirl: Have a great night! And thanks!
@Lost_in_Beer: Have a good evening Helene

February 9, 2010

Cane and Ebel Rye Beer

Wanted to try something different the other night. I saw the Cane and Ebel Rye beer on the menu and figured that fit the bill (plus it came strongly recommended by the bartender). The beer is brewed by Two Brothers Brewing, in Warrenville, IL and was described as being brewed with rye and Thai palm sugar. Sounded good to me!

And good it definitely was. It was actually beyond just good - pretty damn great, if you must know. I could tell from the smell alone I would like it. It had that citrusy smell I love so well, as well as some spicy rye. The taste is delicious - rye spiciness balanced by grapefruit and orange from the hops. It's full-flavored and wonderful. It's a bit of a bigger beer - 7% ABV - but it's so smooth you'll never know it.

I seem to be a fan of the rye beers. I've had the Founders Reds Rye and these both are topping my list of favorites. Now I want to try more. I think I've mentioned before that some of my friends find the bitterness of the IPAs that I love so well to be too much. I think these rye beers are the perfect answer - they provide that hoppy taste (and some moderate bitterness) but are smoothed out well by the spicy/graininess of the rye. Definitely a must try!

February 7, 2010

Snowpocalypse Bar Crawl

Yesterday was another big storm in Philly. Total snowfall amount in the city? 28.5 inches! That's just crazy.

Had a really fun afternoon, as my followers/friends on Twitter/Facebook know. I've started using foursquare to "check in" when I go places and the updates are sent to those two sites. I looked at my facebook page today and have to admit, it was somewhat obnoxious! Between the hours of 2 pm and 12 am I went to the Royal Tavern, Tria, Good Dog, Jose Pistolas, Bar, McGillins, and finally Varga Bar. Got around by walking, which is some good mileage. Especially in the snow. I guess that's why my legs hurt as bad as they did this morning!

I love the city during a snowstorm. First, there are almost no cars on the road. It's so quiet and peaceful, especially when the snow is still coming down. Everyone walks in the middle of the street, and it really looks like a scene from a movie where we're the only survivors of some horrific event (think zombie or alient attack). And everyone is so friendly! I had the same experience in December during another storm (a mere 23.2 inch snowfall with that one). Something about weather disasters that makes us all like each other, I guess.

Got to experience some great beers yesterday, too. I won't list them all (mostly because I don't want to recount all that I drank) but really enjoyed the Dogfish Head World Wide Stout (nice, big 18% beer that didn't really taste that big), Stone IPA, and the Southern Tier Chocolate Stout.

It was a fun day spent having a great time with great friends! Now you'll excuse me while I try to dig my car out from under all this mess.

February 6, 2010

Intercourse Blue Ball Porter

Okay, let's get the elephant in the room out of the way - the name of the brewery (Intercourse) and the beer (Blue Ball Porter). Those not living in the Philadelphia area may not be aware that there is a town out in "Amish country" called Intercourse. Blue Ball, Bird-in-Hand, and Paradise are other nearby towns - and Paradise Pale Ale is another beer in Intercourse's line up.

Since we're in the midst of another major snowstorm (as of 12:45 pm there is close to 20" on the ground, maybe even more?) I thought I'd try the porter rather than the Pale Ale. I'll save that for another day.

I like this porter. Other people may feel differently, because there is the taste of blueberries mixed with the smokiness that you'd expect in a porter. For me it works. It pours a deep, dark brown. You definitely get the smoky malts in the smell, as well as the hint of blueberries. The taste is the same - smoke flavors mixed with some sweet from the blueberries. I don't usually like fruit-flavored beers, but I guess that the smokiness balances it out, making it drinkable to me. It's low ABV - 5.2% - adds to its drinkability.

Intercourse is a newish brewery, started in June 2008. Originally the plan was to brew in Intercourse but it turns out that's a dry town (the 12-year old boy I never was has some things he'd like to say about that) so the beers are being brewed in Wilkes Barre. Distribution is limited to Philly and the surrounding areas for now, so it will likely be hard for those not in the area to find one. However, if you do, I think it's worth giving it a try.

February 3, 2010

St. Peter's Organic English Ale - a guest review

As I mentioned last week, I provided a guest review at www.lostinthebeeraisle. If you missed it, you can read it here. This week, Josh from Lost guest reviews for me. This is the first guest reviewer I've had, and I'm looking forward to doing this more. Read on for Josh's review.

Josh (a.k.a. Lost) from the state of Massachusetts is the author of LostintheBeerAisle.com. Although he’s enjoyed craft beer for a number of years, he only recently got serious about drinking and reviewing beer as a hobby. Josh created LostintheBeerAisle with the intent of creating an unintimidating and welcoming place for craft beer fans of all knowledge levels to come and discuss beer.

As I start this review of St. Peter’s Organic English Ale, I have to reflect on how good life has been lately. A new position at work. A raise. My MBA class is going well. Seats are filling up for the Boston Craft Beer tweetup that I’m planning, and I’ve already secured some excellent door prizes. LostintheBeerAisle has been very blessed with a recent influx of guest reviews, and finally, this week has marked the first time I’ve been asked to do a guest review for someone else’s site! Many thanks to Helene for inviting me to post on her blog.

I’ve had tonight’s beer in my fridge for a number of weeks. I’ve been waiting for the right moment to crack it open. For whatever reason, tonight seemed like the right time. St. Peters is out of Suffolk, Eastern England. This is the first time I’ve tried any of their beers.
The beer is a straight-up amber color. It poured with minimal head: 1 finger at best. Zilch in the lacing department. Given the dry air, my sniffer is still fairly dysfunctional. What I do pick up is some malty sweetness.

I let the beer warm up for a good 15 minutes. In part because I was booting up the PC and taking the pictures, but also in part because I had a hunch that the flavors would pop a lot better if this one was warm. I feel like I was right with my assumption. Cold, the beer is relatively characterless. Warm, it’s a different story. The taste starts malty like the aroma. Hops slowly turn the taste bitter, finishing with a hopiness that is obviously present, but not overwhelming.

This is definitely a beer I could picture drinking at the bar while I watched a hockey or baseball game. It goes down pretty easy, but isn’t boring at all. And l can’t forget to give credit for the beer being organic! Dear St. Peter’s: Consider my hat tipped. Love, Lost.