Dancingecko Mojito Mix – News Flash

Dancingecko Mojito

I think one of the earliest mixed drinks that I actually enjoyed was the mojito. Mint has always been a favorite of mine (ice cream, candy, and so on), and this was basically like a mint soda. But one that could get you drunk.

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Abita Abbey Ale – News Flash

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Having recently been to New Orleans, when I came across an Abita I hadn’t yet had in BevMo, I had to check it out.

The Abbey Ale is an 8.0% Belgian dubbel, and, like most of Abita’s brews, was very tasty. Sweet and a little funky like the dubbels I’m used to, it also had nice spice notes (they say cloves on the bottle, which I couldn’t name but seemed to fit), and it was easy to drink despite the high alcohol content. Whether that last point is a point for or a point against is up to you. It was a nice dark color as well, looking very regal in our chalices. It didn’t have as big of a head as I was expecting, but it was still bubbly so I didn’t mind.

It was also pretty cheap, so definitely check it out. Only downside is that it only comes in 22oz bottles, which are a little less manageable than more normal sizes. And, what’s more, every bottle gives 25 cents to St. Joseph’s Abbey, which is presumably some nice monks in New Orleans? I have chosen not to research, in case I find out it isn’t…

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Grilled Pineapple Old Fashioned – News Flash

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I saw this drink over at ToGatherCuisine and thought it sounded delicious. He’s got all sorts of good stuff on the blog, so definitely check it out.

I tested out his pretty original take on an old fashioned, with the unique twist of allowing the fruit to make its own simple syrup! Sadly, I found it wanting, but I’m pretty sure this was either my fault or the pineapple’s fault, not the recipe. Notes to follow.

It’s a pretty simple recipe, copied below in its entirety.

Grilled Pineapple Old Fashioned Ingredients

Grilled Pineapple Old Fashioned

  • 4 oz. bourbon. (Bulleit was [his] weapon of choice)
  • 1 slice of fresh pineapple, 1/2 inch thick.
  • Using an indoor grill pan or an outdoor grill, grill the pineapple for 3 minutes on each side over medium to medium-high heat. Add the slice of pineapple to a shaker filled with 1 cup of ice. Muddle for 20-30 seconds, leaving only a few cubes of ice still frozen.
  • Add the bourbon to the shaker and shake for a few seconds, just enough to incorporate the pineapple and the alcohol.
  • Pour the contents of the shaker into a tumbler filled with ice through a strainer, making sure none of the pineapple chunks fall into the glass.
  • Enjoy while cold!

Tip: While using an outdoor grill with charcoal and/or wood will add another layer of depth and smokiness to the drink, just make sure to clean the rack your pineapple will be resting on well before grilling the fruit. The last thing you want is remnants of the burgers you grilled floating around in your glass.

Pineapple GrillingMixing Gif Grilled Pineapple Old Fashioned

Tasting Notes:

BN: I really wanted to like this, but it wasn’t sweet enough and was too watered down. I think therefore that was some issue with my ratio of ice to pineapple, or the fact that maybe I didn’t grill the fruit for long enough to really pull out those caramel-y sweet flavors. Maybe it needed to be fresher pineapple — I’m not sure how good the one I had was. Alternately, maybe canned pineapple would be syrupy enough.

Also, I think this would be an even better recipe with the inclusion of bitters, a) for Old Fashioned’s sake and b) because bitters make everything better. I will try this again, maybe in the summer when I have more grilling confidence, because I love the idea, and I think I just didn’t do it justice. But wrote about it anyway.

PiC: I don’t like Old Fashioneds very much in general, and this one didn’t really have much taste which was too bad because I do like pineapple.

Grilled Pineapple Old Fashioned Hero

NOLA Brewing Company – News Flash

NOLA Brewing Tap Room
Source: Sarah Baird, http://bit.ly/1RhTkuE

In February (no, not during Mardi Gras, which I personally think is a good thing, but it’s up to you…) the PiC and I took a trip down to New Orleans, along with my brother and his wife — no code names there, otherwise that would start to get very confusing. We had a lot of different beverages throughout the trip, which I’ll go through in a later post, but this entry will be a continuation of my “drink many tiny beers at a brewery” series.

On our last day in New Orleans, we walked down to the NOLA Brewing Company space and had a flight of eight of their beers. They had a lot more than that, but we were but humans and could not really sample everything.

The brewery is down by the river — the mighty Mississippi! — and has a nice outdoor patio, as well as some indoor spaces with games, ping pong, and more. Sadly, there’s not so much of a river view (more of a warehouse view) but you know it’s out there somewhere. There were two bars, one upstairs and one downstairs, and then there was also a delicious barbecue window (McClure’s), with about 7 different sauces you could try. We had their mac and cheese and it was amazing, though we were also slightly inebriated so who knows. The brewery was within walking distance of our bed and breakfast, in the Garden District, which was very convenient, as the public transportation in the city left a lot to be desired. It was nice when we didn’t have to rely on a bus that was probably going to be 20 minutes late.

Anyways, we picked the 8 beers that we expected to like the most out of their offering. At the time we went, they had a ton of IPAs and other hoppy brews, so our choices were somewhat limited. We had also already had the Irish Channel Stout, which otherwise would have immediately made it onto our list. It was also good (more on that in the later post).

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Flambeau Red Ale
This was a little bitter, an little sweet, mostly tasted like a pretty typical red ale. Hoppy, but not in a terrible way.

NOLA Blonde
Very golden and blonde in color. It was nice looking, but tasted like nothing. It has a little bit of a fruitiness to it, and smells like honey — orange or clover were our thoughts. There was also a nice sweetness and it wasn’t hoppy at all. (What’s the word for not hoppy?) Could have drank this for a while, but probably wouldn’t want to.

Tea Birth
This was an earl-grey-infused version of their more classic Rebirth APA. And, it tasted pretty similar to what you would imagine that to taste like. The hops blended really well with the tea flavor, and I actually liked it (score another one for APAs!). I feel like APAs are the gateway IPAs — the hops don’t linger as much and so you can keep drinking after more than one sip. There was a clear bergamot aftertaste, in fact almost an aftersmell. If that’s a thing. But, just like 3D in a movie theater, it’s cool at first but you know you’ll forget about the bergamot by the end of drinking a pint. Pretty mild overall, but a nice drink.

Girl Stout Cookie
I GET IT. It smelled minty and a little creamy, but when I took a sip I thought it was pretty disgusting. Now, it did taste exactly like it was supposed to — chocolate and mint like a Thin Mint — but it turns out that those are flavors I don’t particularly like in my beer. The PiC didn’t hate it, but certainly thought it was odd.

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Out Tequil-ya: Sour Ale Aged in Tequila Barrels
The puns keep coming! PiC liked this a lot, though she also likes tequila and sours a lot so that stands to reason. For me, it was still a sour, and so I was conflicted. I actually didn’t mind it so much, and I liked the flavor, but I’d have trouble drinking a lot of it (like any sour, for me.) You could tell the tequila’s influence more at the beginning of a sip than the end. This beer made me realize one thing that might be part of the reason I don’t like sours, and you can see it in the picture up there — they’re often not very bubbly, and that makes it a weird drinking experience for me..

Breakfast Brown
This was ostensibly flavored with maple and other breakfasty things (cinnamon). I didn’t really taste much of the flavoring — it was more just like a brown ale, which is not a bad thing, especially after the Girl Stout experience. Certainly easy to drink and had a nice sweetness. The lack of flavor may also have been the mac and cheese that we got from the place downstairs and started devouring right about the time we tasted this one. I should start a mac and cheese blog. Delicious.

Scary Spiced Stout
While I was disappointed by the slightly misfired pun here — they should have just called it Scary Spice, without the d — I actually really liked this. It was flavored with cinnamon and chipotle, like mexican hot chocolate almost, and the flavor wasn’t overpowering like the GSC. It was also a little bitter, which cut through the flavor in a nice, beery way.

Desire: Raspberry Sour Ale
This smelled like the raspberry syrup I made for the various Jerry Thomas punches. It actually tasted like very tart raspberry juice, which was a nice end to the flight. If someone gave this to me on its own, with no description, I might not even know it was beer. PiC, of course, loved it.

Overall, it was a fun experience. NOLA had some of the first sours I’ve actually liked, and the pun quotient was right where it should be. New Orleans has a lot to offer, either in the drink line or otherwise, and this is a perfect place to take a look at. Next time you’re in town, take an afternoon and check them out!

Kopke Fine Ruby Port – News Flash

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I think I like port now.

That’s the main conclusion I’ve drawn, after trying this very nice Kopke Fine Ruby Port, as well as the Port Wine Sangaree from a few weeks ago.

My first experience with port was about 10 years ago now, on a cold Christmas Eve night in Aberystwyth, Wales. It was included in a prix fixe meal as an after dinner drink, and I was super excited (for some reason), but when it came I hated it. Syrupy, too sweet, too alcoholic… I just wasn’t having it. A disappointing end to a delicious meal. And so, as a first impression, it was a poor one, and since then I’ve assumed that I didn’t like port. But now more and more I feel like it was probably just bad port.

Anyways, back to the Kopke. We received this as a part of the PiC’s Cheese of the Month subscription from the Cheese Store of Silverlake (if you’re in LA, check them out!) and it was a great choice. Just looking at the bottle,  I loved the design – it almost looks like a fake wine bottle from a cartoon or something (I pictured seeing XXX on the other side, like a big jug o’ alcohol). When we poured it, it was a beautiful deep ruby color. Apparently, and I just learned this, ruby port is aged in stainless steel, so doesn’t oxidize or change color (unlike tawny, etc., aged in wooden barrels).

Tastewise, it was very nice, fruit-forward and not too sweet or alcoholic tasting. Paired perfectly with the cheese that we had, and you could sip on this for a long time without getting tired, or it turning saccharine. A very fine ruby port. (See what I did there?)

It seems to retail for around $14.99, and a bottle would last you a fair amount of time (you wouldn’t want to drink it all in one sitting).

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Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. – Boozy Newsie News Flash

Figueroa Mountain

Over Valentine’s Day weekend, the Partner in Crime and I went to the sleepy, semi-Danish town of Solvang, which was a really nice trip. It’s deep in wine country (the southern part, not the Napa / Sonoma part), and had beautiful sceneryæbleskivers, and an ostrich farm, where I learned that ostriches are weird and emus are basically dinosaurs.

It also had a lot of alcohol. Of course wine, but also beer, spirits, and more. Of particular interest was the Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co., as I’d had a few beers from there in the past and enjoyed them immensely. We actually found it by accident; we were at Ascendant Spirits (a distillery right next door) and they mentioned it was nearby, so we went up.

They had an indoor tap room, but as it was 85° F or so, we sat outside at a cozy picnic table with a welcome sun umbrella, all on astroturf. Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of this. We got two flights of beer, four of their classics, and four seasonal / rotating taps, which were almost all really delicious.

THE CLASSICS

Fig Beer 2

Paradise Rd Pilsner
Very nice, easy drinking. Doesn’t taste like a pilsner to me which is a good thing, because I don’t like pilsners usually. It had a hint of hops, but only enough that you actually wanted to drink it, and it was a welcome bitterness (IPAs and such are too bitter for me, usually).

Danish Red Ale
It was too warm by the time we got to it, but that’s not the beer’s fault. I liked the caramel notes, and it wasn’t too bitter — I almost wish it were a little bit more bitter!

Davy Brown Ale
This is one of the ones I’ve had before. It has a richer flavor, good malty and chocolately notes. Very tasty.

Stagecoach Stout
A little coffee-y for me, but has nice flavors, velvety smooth texture, almost creamy. Also, still had a head on it after 30 minutes or so, which was impressive.

THE OTHER ONES

Fig Beer 3

Hüll Melon Saison
A little on the hoppy side, and doesn’t have much flavor to it other than the hops. A little lemon peel flavor too, but generally not that interesting… I liked the pilsner better (a phrase I never thought I would say).

Surfliner Lager
You could drink this for forever and never have any issues with it. Very light, almost like a beer-flavored juice. I wish it had been a little bit more carbonated, but that could have been the heat, as well. Easy drinking!

Mosaic Pale Ale
Tasted like an APA, which it was, and was actually sort of nice — the bitterness didn’t linger too long, unlike some other hops. Very floral aroma. As far as hoppy beers go, it wasn’t so bad — we didn’t love the taste, but we could definitely drink it and not feel sad about it.

5th Anniversary
A Doppelbock aged for eight months in rum barrels. This was the best. Smells and tastes like caramel. Very sweet, a lot of depth of flavor. Almost syrupy in texture, and 12% which doesn’t hurt either.

Overall, it was a great trip up, and only a few hours from LA. If you’re looking for a weekend getaway to travel, eat, and drink, Solvang is your place. And of course, you can definitely get the beer without even taking a trip, so definitely check it out!