212. “Arf and Arf” – London

#212 Arf and Arf - Hero

This number is actually two drinks, but I only know what one of the variations actually means. As a result, this is only the London version. To that end, please let me know if you have a sense of the difference between “new” and “old” ale, and then I can do the American one.

In honor of National Puppy Day (puppies go “arf,”  right?) on Friday, here is an example of the fine, hard-hitting journalism we all expect from The Guardian.

#212 Arf and Arf - Ingredients

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News Flash – Mammoth Brewing Company (Update!)

One more travel post and then I think I should be back to actual cocktails next week (next Monday to be exact). This week’s post, though, is a bit of a new feature. Almost exactly a year ago, I visited Mammoth Brewing Company in Mammoth, CA, and sampled all of their beers. And, last week, I visited again! Many of the old classics were still there, but there were a few new concoctions that I’ll discuss below. So, consider this a companion piece to the old entry.

The Originals

Golden Trout Pilsner

Golden Trout Pilsner – 5.5%

This was there last year. Still just sort of a typical pilsner. Very drinkable but I didn’t love it this time. Unlike last time, apparently.

Golden Trout Pilsner

Yosemite Pale Ale – 5.5%

This may have been there last year? There was a pale ale, but it was called “Paranoids Pale Ale.” It seems from my comments that it might be the same thing but renamed. Piney nose, strong hops but not overpowering.

Wild Sierra Session Saison

Wild Sierra Session Saison Ale – 4.5%

Either I’ve learned a lot about beer in the past year or my tastes have changed. I liked this a lot, as a basic belgian style ale. There was a hint of pine in the aftertaste (that was supposed to be the main flavor) but not a huge amount of uniqueness otherwise. Again, this is different from how I described it last time.

Double Nut Brown Porter

Double Nut Brown Porter – 5.5%

This was there last year, but in the meantime I’ve discovered an interesting distinction — we had this bottled, earlier in the week, and I liked it a lot as a smooth deep coffee and chocolate porter. However, on tap, the coffee comes out even stronger and so does the bitterness. You lose the caramel and toffee notes, and as such I really didn’t like it much. I wonder what the difference is… maybe just the batch?

Epic India Pale Ale

Epic India Pale Ale – 6.5%

This was there last year. And, I made the same comment I made this time — I don’t love the taste but it was the perfect color for beer. It’s what you picture when you think of a pint.

IPA 395

IPA 395 India Pale Ale – 8.0%

There last year, still great. Such a weird mix of flavors, but the sage tempers the bitterness and makes it very tasty.

Imperial Root Beer

Imperial Root Beer – Non-Alcoholic

Technically we had this last year, separately, but it wasn’t part of the tasting. This was incredibly sweet, and much more like a cola or even cream soda (vanilla) than root beer. As such I kind of liked it. It still smelled like root beer, but was a very different taste.

The Seasonals

XCitra Session IPA

XCitra Session IPA – 4.0%

This was new, and was also horrible. Smelled and tasted incredibly hoppy, and was weird and thin and I hated it.

Dos Osos

Dos Osos – 7.5%

We had this before. Still good, with a strong coffee nose but a nice cinnamon-y taste. A good weight and thickness while still remaining crisp.

Orange You A Peelin' Porter

Orange You A’Peeling Porter – 5.5%

This was new as well — though they had a blood orange flavored IPA last year. This had a super interesting, almost savory smell. Tastewise, there was a lot going on but it actually worked really well together. So much so that I couldn’t pull out individual flavors.

Gooseberry Sour

Gooseberry Sour – 7.0%

We had this last year, but it was still really good. Smelled like cranberry or concord grape juice, and was easy to drink despite being a sour. Like kombucha, almost, or that French fizzy lemonade. Yum.

The PiC and I agreed that those last two seasonals were our favorites, and the first seasonal was by far the worst. And, I’ll definitely come back in another year’s time to see what else is new! Stay tuned for part 3.

News Flash – Vail Brewing Company

The Board of Majesty

In honor of National Beer Day today, I give you our latest trip to a brewery — this time in Vail, Colorado. We sat down at the aptly named Vail Brewing Company for a couple hours last week, and were loathe to leave, and not just because there was a snowstorm brewing outside. It was their second birthday, and they had great live music, a charming atmosphere and, above all, some interesting and tasty beers. Here they are, in no particular order.

Brown, English, Stout

(From left to right)

Down River Brown – 5.5% ABV – 22 IBU – 40 SRM

This was super drinkable, and had a nice malty flavor with almost no hops (though a higher IBU than I would have expected). Not a huge amount of flavor overall? But it was nice to sip. I liked this more than the PiC.

Us and Them English Ale – 6.0% ABV – 40 IBU – 14 SRM

This was also very nice. Caramel notes, with more hops but still sweet. I generally like ESBs so I’m biased, though the PiC actually liked this more than me. A little dryer than usual, perhaps? The hoppy bitterness lingers longer than I would like, but it’s overall very nice.

Brother From Another Udder Stout – 5.9% ABV – 29 IBU – 40 SRM

This had a very strong coffee smell, but no taste of it — thankfully. Really nice and thick, with a silky texture. The PiC described it as smoky and burnt, which I agree with. We asked the bartender, and it’s an oat chocolate vanilla milk stout. Many adjectives, but it at least made the name make sense.

Warmer, Blonde, Raspberry

(From left to right)

Hut Trip Winter Warmer – 5.7% ABV – 18 IBU – 27 SRM

This was number one on both of our lists. It had a really interesting smell, of chocolate and cinnamon, but really didn’t taste that way at all. It was a Very nice. Interesting smell, chocolate and cinnamon. It was made with vanilla black tea, herbal chai, and cinnamon, and you could taste the chai especially. Colorwise, it was dark for a warmer, but I think that’s because of the tea?

Hot Mess Blonde – 5.5% ABV – 22 IBU – 4.5 SRM

Like the raspberry blonde (below) without the raspberry. It was a little sweeter and rounder, and also a bit wheatier which doesn’t really make sense. It was much better without the fruit, and it was our third choice overall. There was a touch too much hops, perhaps, but that’s me being a wimp about bitterness.

Pink Vail! Raspberry Blonde – 5.4% ABV – 4 SRM

This was good! But still number six for us. It wasn’t super fruity, and had some nice hoppy notes. Very easy drinking, with a twist. The PiC wished there was a little more raspberry, but I was okay with it — almost just an aftertaste.

 

130. Porter Sangaree

130. Porter Sangaree - Hero

This is an alternate version of one we’ve already tested, the Ale Sangaree. This one is better.

Hopefully, the most important thing that will happen today in the news is the Super Bowl, this afternoon between the Patriots and the Falcons. Being from New England, my choice here is clear, and so I will be a porter of Pats spirit even here in LA — or let’s face it, most places — where people kind of hate them. At press time, the odds are 61% in favor of the Pats (according to FiveThirtyEight) so I’m okay with that. Have fun watching!

130. Porter Sangaree - Ingredients

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American Light Beers – Special Report

3-Light-Beer-Shootout

Over the Memorial Day weekend, we decided to add an additional element to our Monday celebration. We took five American light beers, and did a blind shootout with 5 friends and family members to see if we could tell the difference, and to see if we liked any of them. [Spoiler alert: no and no.] The blind shootout is an idea we stole from the guys over at the Totally Beverages and Sometimes Hot Sauce podcast (GFY). Go check it out if you haven’t heard of them. If you’re a fan of this blog, you’ll probably enjoy that as well.

The shootout was much harder to implement than I had expected. We had to match up each beer with a label on the bottom (a different number of dots for each one) and label 7 cups with the same label on their bottoms. Then we poured each beer in to the appropriate cups, and swapped each row around with others until we had no idea which column of cups went with which beer. Since we couldn’t see the labels, this wasn’t too hard, especially since all the beers looked the same in the glass, but it still took a few rounds of “one person leaves the room and the other mixes them around.”

So what did we test? Well, this was partially decided by what was available in the store. I am a weirdly proud fan of classic Budweiser (not Bud Light) but unfortunately there weren’t enough small quantities of normal beer [What is the opposite of light beer? Full beer?] so we went with the light ones:

  • Bud Light
  • Miller Lite
  • Coors Light
  • Michelob Ultra
  • Natural Light

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Abita Abbey Ale – News Flash

Abita-3

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…

Abita-1

 

129. Ale Sangaree

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And we’re back to Jerry Thomas! I’m still a little behind ingredients-wise, so this is one of his simpler ones, but as soon as I buy some non-blue curaçao we should be on a roll. Also gomme syrup, which is apparently like simple syrup but smoother and silkier, which is intriguing. There’s a trip to BevMo in my near future.

There weren’t many news stories to go after with these particular words, but I found this article that says that Shakespeare’s father was an official ale taster for Stratford. Pretty sweet job, if you ask me. And speaking of sweet ale…

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129. Ale Sangaree

(Use large bar glass.)

  • 1 teaspoonful of sugar, dissolved in a tablespoonful of water.
  • Fill the tumbler with ale, and grate nutmeg on top.

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Tasting Notes:

BN: This was a rather vague recipe; I assumed that it wanted you to mix the first ingredient with the ale in the tumbler, rather than just sort of look at it while you drank the nutmegged ale. For the beer, I used the Mammoth Brewing 395 IPA that I brought back from my trip, partially because it was around, but mainly because I thought that the sage and other herbal notes in it would work well with the nutmeg, which they did! In terms of the drink overall, it initially just tasted like beer, with a hint of additional spice, but I think our glass was probably larger than expected, and so there wasn’t enough sugar to go around. So, I added more (probably about double) and then you definitely got the sweetness, which was pretty nice. Hit the bitterness of the IPA and toned it down. However, at the end of the day, it was just sweet beer, which was not too exciting. Nothing compared to the Port Wine Sangaree

PiC: I thought this tasted good but I wasn’t that impressed with it as a cocktail per se. Maybe the beer tasted worse in his time, so this made it easier to drink? I would drink it, but I wouldn’t make it again, unless I had a beer that was really bad.

Blogger’s Note:

This is not related to cocktails, but rather to the blog itself. As you know, I switched to a self-hosted wordpress site at the beginning of April and, well, it sucks. The hosting itself, that is. I have a bad provider, and while it’s free, I’d rather pay money and get faster loading, fewer errors, etc, because it doesn’t make it easy for readers like you to enjoy the content. So, does anyone know of any good options? I’m looking at BlueHost right now, which is recommended by WordPress itself, and has pretty enticing pricing. Thanks all!

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