Posts Tagged ‘brewery’

This years Adventures in Food special Christmas beer comes from the Belgium brewery De Dolle and is called Stille Nacht. Apparently Christmas fire sales do not apply only to holiday decorations, apparel, and other Christmas themed items normally found in department stores. I walked into Binny’s to pick up some good wine for my holiday party and found their entire display of Christmas themes beers on sale on an end cap display. I had recently read about Stille Nacht as a faux holy grail to beer lovers around the world and felt that I was never going to get a better price.

Stille Nacht pours a beautiful cloudy, tangerine orange. This is another one of those impossible beers to pour and the head far outweighs the liquid and quickly fills your glass. What I did love, though, was that the head resembled fluffy mounds of snow. I’ve attached a movie below to show the sheer amount of carbonation that lifts from the glass after pouring only 6 ounces into a pint glass. The head is snowy white, but sticky and does not disappear for some time. I  wound up drinking several mouth fulls of head before I ever got to the beer itself. The aroma bursts of sweet malts with bananas, cloves, and tangerines. The first sip immediate burst of sweet malty goodness with a tinge of heavy orange syrup. The spice notes quickly take over and tantalize different parts of your palette until finally a taste of banana takes over before beginning to fade from existence. This is not a gulping beer, in fact, I’m embarrassed that I even poured this into a pint glass at all. This would be a fine sipper drunk straight from the bottle or poured into a snifter.

I want you to know that words cannot accurately describe everything that is going on with this beer. De Dolle clearly has an understanding of what it takes to make a good beer and this is near perfection. I have no complaints, nor any critiques. Any mistake in pouring to create too much head is my own fault. If this beer cheated on me with my best friend at our wedding, I would probably still take it back. It’s that good. However, perfection comes with a pricetag that many might be scared of. You can purchase a 12oz bottle of Stille Nacht only around the Christmas season for around $6 ($4 if you wait for the fire sale). The 12% ABV is prevalent while drinking this beer, but by no means is it overwhelming. I can tell you that you will feel it by the end of your bottle. You probably shouldn’t plan to drink more than two of these in one sitting. Stille Nacht is a perfect beer in my world and should be heralded and replicated year round. It receives the highest rating in my book.

Grade: A+

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I don’t know how I feel about a brewery named Chicago Beer Company – especially since it’s located in Elgin, IL. This brewery has only been open since 2010 and I came across a row of their offerings on the bottom shelf in Trader Joe’s. I don’t know if this was intentional, but this definitely sent a message indicating the lack of confidence in sales if a store is placing it on the bottom. They did try to compensate this by placing a sticker that said “New!” near the price tag, hoping to draw the eye. “Well why not,” I told myself, and here I sit with Lake Shore Lager.

The pour receive an extremely thin, pale yellow colored lager. I noticed immediately the near transparency reminding me of champagne more than beer. There was an immediate rush of carbonation forming a thick head, but this broke up quickly. After the initial pour, there was very little carbonation rising from the bottom of the glass. I found myself getting hypnotized by the slow moving bubbles – some moving slower than others. The nose was fairly clean hop aromas. My first taste was relatively unimpressive and my second was more of the same. This is a very thin beer with virtually no complexity or craft. I would compare this beer to a slightly thinner Rolling Rock. I’m pretty sure I could make this exact lager in my basement using a home kit. That said, I did still appreciate this as a lighter beer with more flavor than typically light beers commonly consumed.

I didn’t hate it, I certainly didn’t like it (and I lived on Rolling Rock for a year in college). I just rather nothing Lake Shore Lager – I “meh” it. And at $9 a six pack, I could never see myself investing any more money in this brewery to try their other offerings and couldn’t see myself purchasing Lake Shore Lager again. It was a fine experiment and I will certainly be open in the future to retry their brews after they’ve developed their recipes a bit.

Grade: D

In Han Christenson’s short story entitled “Ole the Tower Keeper,” Ole speaks to the narrator about the tradition of New Years Eve and the transition from the old year into the new. He relates a tale about people raising glasses when the clock strikes midnight to bring success into the new year. Each glass has a different meaning.

The first is the glass of good health. Drink this and you will be blessed with good health until the end of the year.

The second brings about a little bird who soars upward with its happy song that gives you both courage and cheer.

The third brings about a little winged urchin with goblin blood who has no intention of harming you. But he will happily play tricks on you. He’ll whisper happy things into your ear so as to keep you merry and warm and provide you wit at parties.

The fourth is the boundary line of sense. Beyond this lies only despair and misfortune.

The fifth will make you weep at yourself and you will forget your dignity (assuming you have any left).

Inside the sixth glass sits a demon:

“And the sixth glass! Yes, in that sits Satan himself, a little, well-dressed charming man who never contradicts you, tells you that you are always right. He comes with a lantern to guide you home! What sort of home, and what sorts of spirits live there? There’s an old legend about a saint who was ordered to choose one of the seven deadly sins, and chose what he thought was the least – drunkenness. But in it he committed all the other six. Man and the devil mixed with blood – that is the sixth glass; and all the evil seeds within us thrive on it, and each of them sprouts with a force like the grain of mustard, in the Bible, and grows into a mighty tree, spreading out over the whole world.”

Happy times.

I came across The Sixth Glass while in Kansas City looking for some local microbrews to take home and feature. I was first drawn to the demon face staring at me from the store shelves and then drawn even further when I read this was a quadruple ale. A quad? I don’t think I’ve ever heard of such a thing. Intrigued, I picked up a four pack.

The Sixth Glass pours a lovely honey amber color. A fair amount of head forms, but there is not enough carbonation for this to get out of control. The foam is dirty is color and dissipates quickly. There is an immediate burst of honey malt flavors that emerge from the glass followed by dried fruits like fig and cherries. My first taste hit me with banana like sweetness and this was overtaken by a wave of additional flavors such as malt and oak as if it were fermented in oak barrels. The aftertaste was a little medicinal like cough syrup, but I attribute this to the intense sweet brown sugar flavor that lingered on my palette. As I drank my way through the glass and the beer warmed, the mouth feel became heavier and the flavors developed more depth.

The Sixth Glass is a suburb beer – plain and simple. The 10% ABV will hit you over the head if you treat this as a guzzler, so I implore you to slow down and savor the flavor. You can find 4 packs of The Sixth Glass for around $10 or in 750ml bottles for $7. I would place this in my top 10 favorite beers of all time, but will still knock it down from A+ status due to the mild medicinal aftertaste. Still, I highly recommend The Sixth Glass as a must try the next time  you’re looking for something new.

So fair readers, the question remains. How many glasses do you enjoy on New Years Eve after the clock struck midnight?

Grade: A

From what I hear, Allagash White is a widely beloved beer from New England. The Allagash Brewery is not more than 1 hour from where I grew up and yes, ascetically, Allagash White is a beautiful beer. I first heard about the Allagash brewery from my best friend. He told me about their extensive line of delicious beers, but that White is the only one he has ever seen on menus. This is what he described as their “mainstream beer for the masses” (aka the Flagship beer) and that it doesn’t hold a candle to how good Allagash’s other beers taste. He mentioned all of this while he was wearing the brewery t-shirt he purchased from his tour; it was hard to not take his word for it.

Allagash White pours a beautifully vibrant cloudy yellow with a fare amount of sediment. It’s aroma reeks of lemon and coriander and is quite pleasing. There was a thick foam settled on top that dissipated quickly leaving very little lacing. Things started to go downhill when I took my first sip and I tasted very little. It was a good beer, but nothing special. There was a mild lemon flavor and some spice notes, but there was nothing overtly complex and fulfilling about this beer; almost watery. As I continued to drink towards the bottom of the glass, I couldn’t help but think that I was drinking a Blue Moon without the need for an orange. Maybe that’s the appeal of it in that it’s a smooth and simple beer. I did order this beer after eating half of a BBQ chicken pizza, so its possible my taste buds were already too overwhelmed to appreciate the subtle flavors. Then again, maybe I’m just making excuses.

I’ve read that Allagash White needs to be drunk from a tulip glass so the taste hits the proper place on your tongue to really enhance the flavor. Even if this is the case, this experience leaves me expecting very little from a round 2. Allagash White can be found in 4 pack bottles for around $9 or on draft. If you enjoy other witbiers such as Hoegaarden, Blue Moon, or Sam Adams White, you may find that Allagash is a pleasing flavor to you as well. I’m still scratching my head over this one, but I will give it another chance if the opportunity presents itself in the future.

Grade: B-

In the past, I have mentioned that I’m a sucker for good packaging, and while the label is provocative, the potentially blasphemous image of a bikini clad angel was not the selling point for Clown Shoes Brown Angel. Instead, it was the $2 off sign that was good enough for me to pick up a 22oz bottle from Binny’s Beverage Depot in Highland Park, IL. I have had several other Clown Shoes beers and always found them to be well balanced and unique in an off-kilter way. The side of their bottle generally claims that Brown Angel is a brown ale in the modern, sexy American fashion.

Brown Angel holds true to it’s name with it’s Coca Cola brown coloring. I had a really hard time pouring this beer into a glass without creating way too much foam. Most of the time my glass with 3/4 full of dirty white, sticky head. Don’t take me for an amateur, I know how to pour a beer, but I couldn’t figure out what was going on. The head did not diminish fully after five minutes and left gobs of lacing on the glass. The taste bursts of sweet malty flavors that echo hints of coffee and caramel – a classic brown ale. However, this brown ale surprised me at the end with a no nonsense quality finish that will linger in your mouth for some time.

Overally, I enjoyed Brown Angel for its gritty, well balanced flavors, but Brown Angel is just too much beer for me. This is an in your face brown ale that is probably best enjoyed with heavy, salty foods. If this were the Middle Ages, kings would guzzle this by the barrel and barely remember the festivities. Clown Shoes Brown Angel sells for around $7 for a 22oz bottle and is one of the more widely available from the Clown Shoes line. Brown ales generally are not my favorites nor is this my favorite from this brewery, but I can appreciate a well developed beer when I taste one. For those of you that appreciate darker beers, Brown Angel is certainly worth your consideration.

Grade: B

The first time I ever tried Hobgoblin was in 2004 at the House of Brews on 46th St in New York City. I remember really liking it at the time enough to order 3 pints to compliment the bar food. Fast forward 7 years to me looking for a new microbrew to try when I came across Wychwood Brewery’s Hobgoblin again this past week and decided to give it another try.

This is a ruby red-brown ale in the best English style. It’s dark malty flavor comes through first, but this is mellowed the colder you drink it. The pour reveals a thick head that subsides quickly. I found the aroma slightly overpoweringly malty, but I think I’m a little more sensitive to this than others.

Overall I enjoyed this ale. It’s 4.5% ABV is a little low for my liking and I would treat this as a stout or something to enjoy after dinner. I think the flavor falls a little flat in comparison to other brown ales I’ve enjoyed. At around $8 per six pack or $3.50 for a 22oz bottle, this is a reasonably priced import and something you may want to check out for something different.

Grade: C+