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.
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.
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.
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 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 – 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 – 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 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 – 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.
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 – 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’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 – 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.
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.
(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.
(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.
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!
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:
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…
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…
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.
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.
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!
Time for the second in my series of breweries that have bears in their logo. This one makes slightly less sense than Big Bear Lake Brewing, but I’ll take it.
As some of you may know, I was actually living up in Mammoth for the past month. This made it a little tricky to create any drinks in my minuscule Airbnb kitchen, so that’s why you’ve been seeing all these reviews. I’ll get back to the cocktails soon, I promise. Anyway, the one thing I could do was taste all 15 beers available at the Mammoth Brewing Company. So I did. Continue reading “Mammoth Brewing Company – To Go”→
I’m renaming this category! I’ve been traveling a lot lately, so there are more and more of these alcoholic postcards to write. Hence, “To Go,” which seems fitting, especially after our New Orleans experience of To Go booze.
Anyways, we were in Big Bear a few weekends ago, and of course we stopped in to their brewery — the Big Bear Lake Brewing Company — for a flight. It wasn’t a huge place, only 6 beers to try, but it was nice enough. They did have a very questionably “patio” that we chilled on with our friends; it was only about 1.5 people deep at maximum, but we could look out onto the oncoming rainstorm which was kind of fun.
(I’ve put a photo of their own tasting notes at the end of this post, if you’re interested.)
Barely Legal Honey Blonde – ABV 6.5%
This actually tasted like a sort of nutty, roasty mead. We didn’t taste licorice, though the card we got with it said that we should. Very malty, not hoppy at all. Nice!
Half Wit Belgian Wit – ABV 6.0%
I did not like this at all. It smelled like bananas, and had a similar aftertaste, which really wasn’t great.
Black Raspberry Session Pale Ale – ABV 4.3%
It smelled like raspberry but tasted like nothing. Hoppy, gross nothingness. It also wasn’t very bubbly, but that may have been because the tender poured it out of a pitcher for some slightly unclear reason. Our least favorite.
Ode to Winslow Chocolate Porter – ABV 6.6%
This was fine. Chocolate and coffee flavors like a classic porter / stout type drink. As you would expect.
Watergate Session Pale Ale – ABV 4.2%
Way too hoppy. But not many other flavors — almost watery. I hated it, but you could at least tell that there wasn’t much alcohol in it so you could drink a lot of it. If you liked that sort of thing.
Whispering Pine Belgian IPA – ABV 7.0% / IBU: 68
Still hoppy, but at least has flavors, unlike the other ones. The hops keep going and going on the aftertaste, but at least there’s a pine flavor to go along with them to make it a little better.
Well, we didn’t really love these. The Honey Blonde was the best of the bunch, but who knows — if you like IPAs more than I do (I feel like most people do) maybe you’ll like the brewery. And it’s still a fun place to go, even if you don’t like the beer.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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..
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!