Tag Archives: Tasting

Pumpkin II This time it’s Chocolate

+++ Well, it has been a month and it is still technically Autumn, so I am having another Pumpkin ale.  This time we have for our evening sipping pleasure, something called “TREAT” from Midnight Sun Brewing, out of Anchorage, AK.

+++ It is very highly rated for is style on RateBeer, and as i am about to open it, I can only hope that it has calmed down suffeciently from me droping it when I got out of the car.  It banged a few times as it fell eventually hitting the pavement with a loud “Clink”.  The head space was solid foam when I got it inside so I put it in the fridge for an hour before I dared get it out and open it.  Here goes….  We’re good.

+++ Alaska is famous for, among lots of other things, giant pumpkin growing.  Apparently the long daylight in teh summers and the lack of most of the pests and diseases that the lower 48 states have just do not exist in AK.  a 700 pounder was grown up there a few years ago.  I wonder how many of those Midnight Sun Brewing would need to make a batch of this beer.

But I digress….

+++ Very dark Brown/Black pour with a small milk chocolate colored head that quickly faded but maintained a thick ring around the edge of the snifter.  Like onof those oil spill clean-up floats they use to corral spilled crude oil onthe ocean.   A roasted aroma but sweet, like chocolate cookies and instant cocoa, and some classic pumpkin pie smells as well.  Cinnamon and allspice maybe.   Lots chocolate imediately on the first sip, that quickly morphs into a more smokey, scalded chocolate milk or like the little bit that burs on teh bottom of the pan when you forget about the chocolate pudding you are making.  The spices a re mild, and the pumpkin even milder.   I guess they are ballanced.  it is not a pumpkin pie bomb, that’s for sure,  but I was hoping for a little more.  Quite heavy, thick pallate that seems to coat your mouth.  Softly carbonated. Very low bitterness, the lable says 30 IBUs, that even seems high.  But with these big sweet roasted flavors, they would taste knocked down a bit I suppose.

+++ Last month when i had one of these Pumpkin ales I asked “where’s the Pumpkin” we I can’t say I found it but this one is pretty good but closer to a sweet British porter than a pumpkin ale.

Beer and Cheese

I am getting ready for a nearly 2 week road trip to Mexico (that is another blog, or at least should be) and was too busy for dinner tonight getting ready.  By 10PM I realized my oversight and made what turned out to basically be a beer run.  Rick’s place,  ‘Brewforia’ was a bit far and I would have spent nearly an hour getting there, picking out something lovely and getting back, so I caved and hit up my local Albertson’s, who actually must have recently hired someone who’s  beer IQ slightly higher than his hat size as there were more than a few options that looked interesting.

The New Belgium, Lips of Faith “Eric’s Ale” looked intriguing and when I saw that it was a sour Ale and made with Peaches, it somehow found it’s way into my basket.  NB will always have a place in my heart for what they did with La Folie and how that opened my eyes (and taste buds) to the style.

I was looking for somehting a little more “blue collar” to go with what I was putting together for a late dinner and so I went with the Lagunitas IPA also.  Both in the 22oz super size.  Cuz, I mean, it’s a better deal that way..  ahem.

I couldn’t just have beer for dinner…well, not again, so I made my way to the deli section.  I had always admired a bit the nice (for a supermarket) selection of small and over-priced wedges of impiorted cheeses.  Sudenly it struck me, a beer and cheese tasting sounded like a great way to end the day.

Not knowing what most of what I saw tasted like, or even how to pronounce many of them, “Hickory Smoked” rang a bell and I picked up a 5oz chunk of Rambol Fume’

Basically it is  smoked Gruyere’ and is quite tasty over the Fire Roasted Tomato & Olive oil Triscuits that transported them unto my gaping maw.  s I read a little more about what I am stuffing in my face, I find that actually it is a processed Gruyere “style” cheese that is smoked.  Oh well, this is where I pull out the “I may not know much about art…but I know what I like” bit and load up another cracker.

As far as a “pairing” I would say that the IPA blows out the fairly subtle creamy smokiness of the fermented curd, which in turn is also more than matched my the herbal spices of the crackers.  Not exactly a symphony of flavors, more of a drunken bar fight where each combatant takes it in turn to deliver a wild “hay-maker” to the other and fall to the floor only to get back up again for his turn.  With 4-1 odds on the cheese… to show.

The brew was as expected.  Plenty of “west-coast” hop flavor and just enough bitterness to give it that lip smacking dry pucker power that draws me to the style.   I am sure I have said it before but it bears repeating.  Lagunitas has an excellent “bang for the buck” factor and while very few (that I can think of) of theirs are top tier, very few are disappointing.  And almost always 3-4$ for a 22.  It’s like a trusted friend in the cold-box at the store.

A good effort though on my maiden endeavor at haute-cuisine, and a nice late night snack.

Southern Tier

I must say,  this beer is already at a dissavantage in that my hopes and expectations are riding pretty high.   I have had a dozen Souther Tier offerings over the last few yeare and have loved all but a few of them.  The Pumking, Jah-Va, Imperial Oat and Creme Brule Stout,  all were fantastic.

Picked this up yesterday at Brewforia’s new Meridian, ID location and it’s label  claims to be simply “A Stout Brewed with Chocolate”

While I respect craft beer, I still find it a bit pretentious when I notice a blurb on the lable telling me how cold or warm it should be when served.  The reputation that this brewer has with my tastebuds, demands compliance however.  Turns out, Iam about 5 degrees over the RST.   Deep brown/black with a lively and disappointingly short-lived, tan head.   This quickly settles out to just a thin ring around the circumference of my snifter.

Aroma is unlike anything I can remember.  My first thought is of Tootsie Roll-Liqueur or Fudge Brownies and Kahlua.  But the tootsie-roll thing keeps coming back.  I can even imagine the wax paper wrapper they come in.  Or used to anyway.   Whatever classic dark roasted aromas that are otherwise common for an Imperial Stout are pretty much sacked by the sweet chocolate and subtle mocha notes.

At 11% ABV the “burn” does cut through a bit, but it’s not too much and goes well with the bold roast  and chocolate.  After a few sips, the smooth roasted, slightly charcoal flavors are really working well with the bittersweet chocolate.   It smelled like it was going to be biting off a chunk of Toblerone, but this is nice.  As it warms up a bit more I can taste vanilla, hazelnuts and a bit of  leather tag-teaming my taste buds.  A scoop of vanilla ice cream would be a great match for this.

The label says 27 degrees  Plato.  This translates to an original gravity of about 1.135 ! !  and if my calculations are correct, and they sometimes are, the claimed ABV of 11% means the final gravity of this thing is about 1.035.  That is quite a bit of residual sugars.  But I suppose if it was not sweet enough, the chocolate thing just wouldn’t fly.  Even still, the feel is smooth, almost silky, but not very heavy.  The rather soft carbonation is just right for this brew and the late lingering bitterness is a touch sharp, but not hoppy.   More like bitter chocolate or a little espresso.

Well done, Southern Tier.  Not my favorite of theirs, but that claim would be a tough nut to crack as their line up, as I mentioned earlier, is terrific.  At $10 for this 22oz bottle, I am glad that I won’t be buying it again soon, but even gladder that I got to have it tonight.   A great way to cap a Friday night and kick-off the weekend.