Sunday, December 30, 2012

Soups and Beer from Stone

Last evening, we hosted another beer dinner and featured soup and beers from Stone Brewing Co.  Gayle and Dennis bought over chips, guacamole, sausage & cheese appetizer, chips and Stone Pale Ale.  Nicole and Tibor brought over fruit desert pizza and Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard.  Lori and I had prepared 3 soups, Ham & Beans, Chili, and Chicken & Noodles.  I also  whipped up corn bread muffins.  Everything tasted great and my recipe for the chili is below.  It is always great to get together with friends and we had a fantastic evening.

The beers we sampled -
Stone - Pale Ale (5.4% ABV and 41 IBU)
Stone - Vertical Epic 10-10-10 (9.5% ABV)
Stone - Vertical Epic 11-11-11 (9.4% ABV)
Stone - Vertical Epic 12-12-12 (9% ABV)
Stone - Arrogant Bastard (7.2% ABV and CLASSIFIED IBU)
Stone - Double Bastard (11.2% ABV and CLASSIFIED IBU)
Stone - Oaked Arrogant Bastard (7.2% ABV and CLASSIFIED IBU)
Stone - Lukcy Basartd (9.2% ABV and CLASSIFIED IBU)

We started with Pale Ale and the Vertical Epics were poured as a flight and the Arrogant Bastards were poured as a flight.  The Stone Vertical Epic 10-10-10 was the favorite of the Vertical Epics and it had been cellared for over 2 years.  For the Bastards, Lukcy and Double were the preferred Bastards.  These are big beers and they were really tasty.  I also really enjoyed the Pale Ale.  I think the Vertical Epic 10-10-10 was the best beer of the evening and it has really improved / evolved with age.  

Chili recipe 
8 Ancho dried chilies
2 Roasted Anaheim Chilies (these were purchased and frozen in the fall)
4 C. Water
3 T. Vegetable Oil
2 - 3 # of Pork Shoulder
1/2 tsp. Cumin
1/2 tsp. Coriander
1 1/2 tsp. Oregano
1 Yellow Onion
4 tsp. Garlic
2 Cans of diced tomatoes

Heat 4 C. of water to boil and remove from the burner, roast the Anchos over med. - med. high heat and remove the seeds and stems and place in the water.  Soak for ~30 minutes and place something on top of the Anchos to keep them submerged.  

While the Anchos are soaking, cut the pork shoulder into small cubes.  Heat a large skillet and the 3 T. of vegetable oil and brown the pork.  You will need to cook in a few batches and drain the port on paper towels.

Coarsely chop the onion and add the Anchos, water, Cumin, Coriander, Oregano, Garlic and Tomato in a blender or food process and puree.  

Place the pork and the puree into a pot or a crock pot and simmer for a few hours and stir occasionally.  You can vary the thickness of the chili by decreasing the amount of water.  Serve with corn tortillas, cheese, sour cream, and avocado.  

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Holiday Beers – The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

There are a number of very tasty holiday / seasonal beers available to the craft beer drinker and from my perspective it is “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”.  Some of the selections are quite hoppy, taking advantage of the recent fall hop harvest; some are quite malty focusing more on the sweet side, and some use holiday spices to make things interesting.  I usually pick up a number of these to enjoy over the holidays and are part of an annual purchase and some of these are new.  There are some very tasty winter / holiday / seasonal beers and go out and pick up something new.  Below are some that I have recently sampled.

Sierra Nevada – Celebration 2012 (6.8% ABV and 65 IBU), is an American IPA and fresh hops are used in the brewing process.  I am currently reading Mitch Steele’s IPA book and he describes Celebration as one of the first IPAs that was brewed by craft brewers.  It is a fantastic beer and one that is on my “buy list” each year.  This is one for the hopheads. 

Left Hand – Fade to Black Vol. 4 (6.5% ABV and 64 IBU), is a Black IPA or a Rocky Mountain Black Ale as described on the label.  Each year, Left Hand releases a different volume of Fade to Black and this year’s version if for the hop lover.  This one was not too hoppy and I really enjoyed it and yes this is on my “buy list”.  

Magic Hat – Heart of Darkness (5.7% ABV and 30 IBU), is a Stout and is a very tasty one.  Heart of Darkness is malt forward with notes of chocolate / cocoa, and it is very easy to drink.  This was the first beer I tried from Magic Hat and it made the “buy list”.  I will look for additional offerings from Magic Hat in 2013. 

Others on the “buy list” – these are just a few and all have been previously reviewed.

Avery – Old Jubilation (8.3% ABV and 45 IBU), is an English Old Ale that is malty and warming – a very tasty beer that is to be savored. 

Deschutes – Jubelale (6.7% ABV and 60 IBU), is a Strong Ale that is a mix of malty and hoppy.  One first gets malty sweetness and then the hop bitterness kicks in.  URL -

Firestone Walker – Velvet Merlin (5.5% ABV and 27 IBU), is a wonderful Oatmeal Stout with a creamy mouth feel and focuses on malts with hints of coffee and chocolate.  URL -

Did not make the list

Goose Island – Christmas Ale (7.3% ABV and ?? IBU), is a Brown Ale that I did not like at all, it is better than macro-beer.  I was really expecting a tasty beer from the Goose as I enjoy some of their other offerings and this beer did not meet expectations.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Beer Camp #78 – Baltic Joy and Devotion

On Friday, I took the family for some pizza at Parry’s Pizzeria and Bar and for a tapping of Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp #78 Baltic Joy (7.4% ABV and 35 IBU).  Baltic Joy is a Baltic Porter and was brewed with almonds and coconuts and I am thinking a good bit of chocolate malt to get a taste reminiscent of the Almond Joy candy bar.  I was amazed at the head retention on this beer and it seemed to never truly go away.  Baltic Joy was very tasty and I could detect chocolate, coffee, and hits of nuts and coconut.  The beer reminded me of Maui Brewing’s Coconut Porter.  This beer is very limited and it was not even listed on the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp site.

I also had a glass of Lost Abbey’s Devotion (6.25% ABV).  Devotion is a Belgian Pale Ale and the Lost Abbey is a noted brewer of Belgian-style beer.  Devotion was a great beer to enjoy with pizza and I liked the tastes of Belgian yeast, bread, sweetness and a touch of citrus bitterness. 

Parry’s Pizzeria and Bar -

St. Louis Gueuze Fond Tradition

While vacationing and visiting with the family in Arizona over the Thanksgiving holiday, I was able to slip out and drink a couple of pints at the Handlebar Pub and Grill in Apache Junction. I had stopped by the Handlebar on my last trip to AZ and I thought they had a very good tap list for a smaller place and I noticed that they had added a few extra taps featuring beers from Belgium. There were some from Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck (Castle Brewery) and I selected St. Louis Gueuze Fond Tradition (5% ABV). A Gueuze is a blended sour beer using Lambics of different ages.

Gueuze - BeerAdvocate 

Photo from the Barley Blog

Appearance – It took awhile for the bartender to serve it as I am sure he needed to allow the head to reside to provide me with a proper pour. The gueuze was a golden straw color with nice carbonation.
Aroma – I picked up a musty, earthy, grassy aroma with hints of tart citrus and a touch of vinegar.
Taste – I could definitely taste the yeast and a nice bread taste that was quickly followed by tart, sour notes. The sourness was not overwhelming and was more like eating tart fruit and just a touch of wine vinegar.
OverallB – I enjoyed this Gueuze and it was easy to drink. I enjoy sour beers and I would have this one again.

Website description - Golden-blond, unfiltered, unsweetened. An extremely pure beer with a long history. A humble nose with a lot of fruit, dominated by young sour apples. An extremely dry aftertaste, which immediately demands another sip. A delicious thirst-quencher that reminds you of its history with every sip.

St. Louis Fond Tradition Gueuze