Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Quick Sips....Episode 2

It's good to be back for Episode #2 of Quick Sips.  While I haven't posted any specific information about beers I have enjoyed in the past month, it doesn't mean some good drinking hasn't been happening.  It's actually been a great 4 weeks of beer since my last post.  So without further adieu, here are some recent beers that have been tantalizing my palate...

Bells Black Note Stout: This one gets a lot of hype for a couple reasons.  It's bourbon barrel aged, it comes from Bells, and it's hard to come by.  It's also quite good.  For me it is quite smooth and has a great creamy mouthfeel.  The bourbon is present, but subtle.  Nice chocolate, some vanilla tones, and sweet molasses dominate the flavor profile.  An extremely well rounded beer....but...gasp....it's not mind blowing like they hype makes it out to be.  Still a great beer....

Alpine Brewing Pure Hoppiness:  A gift from a beer geek friend of mine. Excellent pine and citrus hops dominate the nose and palate.  Great crisp and clean hop flavors.  One of the better double IPA's I've had.  Alpine knows what they are doing.  Another great beer from these guys.  Some noticeable malt but the pine and citrus flavors are the stars of the show.

I know I've reviewed this before, but Russian River Pliny the Elder was also consumed.  I managed to get bottles from the 1/29/13 bottle run about a week and a half after bottling.  Incredibly fresh.  Hop bombs were definitely dropped on my face hole as usual with super fresh Pliny.  Also took a cool pic using some of my kids Thomas trains.

Earlier I talked about Black Note and how it was not quite mind blowing.  This Russian Imperial Stout from Flat 12 did fit the bill of a mind blowing beer drinking experience.  Pinko aged in 23 year Pappy Van Winkle barrels was one of the best beer drinking experiences I have had.  The depth of flavor in this beer was ridiculous.  I remember molasses, a nice mix of sweet chocolate with a touch of bitter dark chocolate, some subtle charred fruit notes, and a velvety mouthfeel which helps to tame the rich bourbon notes from the Pappy barrel.  This beer was special.  Honestly, in my opinion, it's better than Black Note....and I'm not sure it's close.
 Goose Island Bourbon County Coffee Stout: Another mind blowing beer drinking experience.  BCCS has loads of coffee, some chocolate, some vanilla, and some oak wrapped in a bouquet of rich bourbon.  Definitely a sipping beer at 14% and one I will often take with me to bottle shares to watch other people have their mind blown.  Top notch beer.  Don't think I could ever have enough of it.
Three Floyds Arctic Panzer Wolf: Scorching palates is the objective with this hop monster from Three Floyds.  Mission accomplished.  Loads of citrus hops do in fact leave your palate a hapless victim as this beer just flat out dominates.  This beer doesn't get enough pub in my opinion.  It has some serious legs.  The finish lingers with a punchy bitterness and the dry feel leaves you craving more.  It's ridiculous.  Thanks to Kahns for alerting me to a fresh arrival.....I need more.
I have reviewed Head Hunter from Fat Heads before, but it's worth noting that they recently (like last week) started distributing to Indiana.  An awesome west coast IPA with loads of Pine in the hop profile.  It's a great IPA and definitely one worth buying.  Obviously I'm a fan of buying local, but the only way to keep breweries in Indiana is to buy their stuff.  So go get some Head Hunter.
 Green Flash Palate Wrecker:  Probably one of the prettiest beers I've consumed.  The hops in this beer will destroy your palate in a similar way to Arctic Panzer Wolf.  The finish is ridiculously dry and bitter.  Loads of pine which I expect from a west coast ipa.  Love this one.  Glad my sis sent me some.
 New Glarus Raspberry Tart:  Thanks to Calvin for grabbing me a bottle so that I could share with my wife.  This is liquid raspberry goodness.  This converted me to loving fruit beers that are done well.  Loads of raspberry in this provide a sweetness and a tart finish that make this the perfect dessert beer.
Other beers not pictured:

Williamsburg Alewerks Bitter Valentine: Awesome double IPA thanks to a trade.  Great bitterness.  Tons of awesome hop flavors.  Subtle booziness and warming down the throat.  Lovely beer.

Flat 12 Bleeding Heart IPA:  One of my favorite local beers of all time.  Half Cycle infused with blood oranges.  The blood orange is the star of the show giving intense citrus flavors with the lovely bitterness from Half Cycle.  This is world class.

What are some beers you have enjoyed in the past few weeks?


Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Baking with Beer Experiment

Last week when discussing what meals we would have in the coming weeks, I mentioned to my wife that I could make chili and that I would like to use beer as an ingredient.  I immediately received the bitter beer face response that was popular in those old school Keystone Light commercials.  She was not supportive of the idea.  I believe her exact words were "that's gross, you can't use beer as an ingredient".

Now I am a firm believer that beer can add many levels of awesome to food.  So I was determined to prove to her that beer can certainly be used in cooking.  This week being Valentines Day, I knew I would be looking to make some sort of dessert when I stumbled upon a recipe for Pots de Creme, a French custard.  This would be perfect and simple to do.

6 Eggs
6 ounces of your favorite stout or porter.  For this I used Founders Breakfast Stout.
1 Pint Whipping Cream
1/2 Cup Whole Milk
1/3 Cup Sugar
6 Ounces bittersweet chocolate.
The first step is to simmer the beer and sugar using a very small saucepan.  Reducing the amount of liquid to about 3 ounces, or a little less than half a cup.  Once complete, you will have a nice syrup that is liquid glory. I then chilled the mixture by putting the saucepan over ice.
The next step is to take a medium sized saucepan and simmer the milk and whipping cream.  Once it is bubbly, take it off the heat and add the chocolate.  Whisk until smooth.

Go back and check to make sure your syrup has cooled sufficiently and add your beaten eggs to the syrup and mix well.

By this time your chocolate mixture has cooled a little bit and so now you can slowly whisk the egg/syrup mixture into the chocolate mixture.  Continue whisking to combine everything nicely.

Pour the mixture through a fine strainer, so that any foam is left behind.  I poured it through a strainer into a small pitcher.  Let the mixture stand for about 10 minutes.  Then pour the chocolate mixture into 6 Ramekins, up to the 3/4C mark or a little above.  Place foil over each Ramekin and place them in a baking dish.  Fill the baking dish with hot tap water to about halfway up the Ramekins.

Place in a 325 degree oven and bake for about 1 hour.  These took about 1 hour and 10 minutes for me to finally set.  Remove the Ramekins from the baking dish, let them cool a little and then place them in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

 When you are ready to serve, put a small bit of whipped cream on top and shave some semi-sweet chocolate over the top of the dessert.  Serve and enjoy!

I served this to my wife, not telling her that there was beer in it.  She loved it.  She was quite surprised by beer being an ingredient, but that didn't stop her from asking for more!

What are some of your favorite beer infused dishes?