Dark Metal… As Opposed to Light Metal?

Birrificio_Indipendete_Dark_Metal_Imperial_StoutOn the docket:  750mL bottle of Birrificio Indipendente Elav’s Dark Metal Imperial Stout (8% abv)

Poured into:  River Horse snulip

Sight:  A hue straight from the Dark One’s soul- so black it seems to suck in the light around it.  A big, velvety, khaki cap of a head sits on top.  Gradually, it recedes.  The lacing looks like the font artist for Borknagar doodled on the rim of the glass.

Aroma:  Luscious, bold dark chocolate, French-roast coffee, anise.  A tingle of complex warming alcohols.  Subtle whiff of pine and spice from the Chinook hops.

Taste:  Roasted barley, high-cacao content dark chocolate.  Smooth, almost cold-press coffee and a bitter finish to balance off the sweet malt.  Long finish of black licorice and earthy, peppery spice.  As it warms, a slight twang emerges, like that found in Guinness.

Feel: Medium-full.  Not quite chewy, but getting there.  Light, tingly carbonation.

Overall:  Pleasant imperial stout from a prior-unknown Italian brewery.  Puts Peroni to shame (which, FYI is owned by Asahi!!  That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, Peroni is actually Japanese).  Throw up horns and crank up the volume on some Kreator, Testament, or Opeth.

Suggested food pairing:  Smoked gouda, baby-back ribs, vanilla-bean NY style cheesecake, the blood of the innocents…

… that last one was a joke

Paranormal IPA? Stone’s Ghost Hammer

Stone_Gost_Hammer_IPAOn the docket: 12 oz. can of Stone’s Ghost Hammer IPA

Poured into: Wine & Whiskey Country snifter

S:  A Lightly golden, somewhat hazy body stands beneath a white frothy head.  Decent lacing accrues on the sides of the glass, but the head dissipates, like a specter you’re not sure you saw.  Small zippy bubbles make their way to the top.

A:  A grapefruit citrus mixes with a subtle floral aroma.  A pinch of pine.

T:  Mirroring the aroma, citrus leads, followed by the floral component.  Interesting hop choice.  It finishes with a bit of cracker-y malt and firm but not bracing bitterness.
F:  Medium-light.  Gentle, but discernable carbonation.  Excellent bitterness to balance the malt.
O:  On the lighter side, but a smooth, easy-drinking IPA despite the 6.7% abv.  It’s a bit of a departure from what we expect from Stone, but that’s by no means a bad thing.  An intermediate-level IPA that will vanish quickly from your glass.  Ooooooo!

Suggested food pairing:  Arugula salad with sliced mango, tropical style roasted chicken, fruit tart, medium-sharpness cheddar.

One For the Now: California Project Pinot Grigio

California_Project_Pinot_Grigio

California Project Pinot Grigio, Non-vintage

5 ounces poured into:  Wine Country stemmed wine glass

Sight:  Very pale golden, clear, clean

Aroma:  Subtle nose of lemon, slight tartness

Taste:  A small thread of Meyer lemon, plus citrus, and light, zippy tart acidity

Feel:  Light, crisp.  What you want for casual company, a hot day, and a back deck

Overall:  Easy drinking, casual-consumption wine for those hot days on the deck, by the pool, or out in the sun

Suggested food pairing:  spring-mix salad with Meyer lemons, lightly-washed rind cheese, pasta with Alfredo sauce

Double Your Chocolate, Double Your Fun

Rogue_Double_Chocolate_Stout_My_Blog

On the docket:  Rogue’s Double Chocolate Stout

Poured into:  Dogfish Head goblet

S:  Opaque umber liquid fills up the glass, topped by a thick, mocha head.  Minimal lacing and staying power.  This is certainly not a fresh bottle, though the age is undetermined.  Particulate settles on the bottom bowl of the glass.

A:  Intense baking-chocolate aroma, malt sweetness, and a slight bright note from the Cascade hops.  Rich and inviting.

T:  As it warms, the chocolate is more apparent.  Supporting flavors also include a licorice note, in addition to a slightly mineral chalkiness.  Guinness-like.  Is that the chocolate malt and roasted barley?  There’s raisin here too, I thank the Caramel 120 malt.  The sweetness and chocolate exit eventually, leaving a dry-ish, slightly bitter finish.  Alcohol very well integrated, hardly noticeable.

F:  For a 9% stout, this is easy to drink and lighter than expected- most likely due to the rolled oats.  I do appreciate Rogue providing the grain and hop bill on the back of the bottle, as it helps parse out where the flavors originate.

O:  Big, bold, chocolatey sipper.  Ages well.  Considering the amount of snow on the ground as I type this review (~19 inches, the last great snow storm of 2017- in March no less!), I feel the libation a perfect way to combat the elements.

Suggested food pairing:  port-wine cheese, crème brûlée, Porterhouse steak dry rubbed in chocolate and coffee grounds, on its own as a “cocktail” beer

Franco-American Strong Ale

Some of you, quite rightly, are scratching you head and wondering, “did the BJCP codify a new style I’m unaware of?”  No, but I did.  As my second on-premises homebrew recipe, I am collaborating with my bother-in-law.  He’s French by birth, but I won’t hold that against him.  Our idea is something that is both French and American, something that reflects our heritages, and our common love for bold, complex, Belgian-y beer.  With a last name like Shoemaker, you may quickly deduce that I’m from German stock, and you’d be right.  Look below and you’ll find an ingredient that’s German- Avangard Pilsner malt.  American Magnum hops, used for bitterness, are German in origin.  The spices used are quite common in French cooking, and to tie it all together, a Belgian style yeast to handle the anticipated higher gravity and to dry out the beer.

This trans-Atlantic brew does not have a name yet, but something will come to us.  Have an idea for the name?  Leave it as a comment.   An added bonus, Benjamin (my b.i.l.) is an accomplished artist.  I’ve charged him with the responsibility of doing the label art.  Our brew date is this Saturday, 3/25/17 at 4 p.m.

Upon completion you can bet I’ll be reviewing the beer.  Will it come out like I’ve imagined it, or will it result in something entirely different?  We’ll see.

Recipe: RED SUPER SAISON F-A.S.A.
Brewer: JOHN SHOEMAKER
Asst Brewer:  BENJAMIN PERRAMANT 
Style: Saison
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (30.0) 

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Boil Size: 6.25 gal
Post Boil Volume: 5.00 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.00 gal   
Bottling Volume: 5.00 gal
Estimated OG: 21.6 Plato
Estimated Color: 15.1 SRM
Estimated IBU: 30.8 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 80.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 80.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amt            Name                                     Type    #     %/IBU         
13.00 lb       Pilsner Malt (Avangard) (1.7 SRM)        Grain   1     83.9 %        
1.00 lb        Crystal Malt - 60L (Thomas Fawcett)      Grain   2     6.5 %         
0.75 lb        Rye, Flaked (Briess) (4.6 SRM)           Grain   3     4.8 %         
0.50 lb        Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM)   Grain   4     3.2 %         
0.25 lb        Wheat - Soft Red, Flaked (Briess)        Grain   5     1.6 %         
0.75 oz        Magnum [13.30 %] - Boil 60.0 min         Hop     6     30.8 IBUs     
1.00 oz        Pepper Corns (Boil 7.0 mins)             Spice   7     -             
0.75 oz        Nutmeg (Boil 7.0 mins)                   Spice   8     -             
1.0 pkg        Belle Saison (Lallemand/Danstar #-)      Yeast   9     -             


Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 15.50 lb
----------------------------
Name              Description                             Step Temp.  Step Time     
Mash In           Add 19.64 qt of water at 169.9 F        154.0 F       75 min        

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun , 3.20gal) of 168.0 F water

Sure to Win: Victor Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon

Victor_Vineyards_2013_Lodi_Cabernet_Sauvignon_My_Blog

On the docket:  Victor Vineyards 2013 Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon 750mL

Poured into:  stemless aeration glass

S:    Red-violet meniscus that rings around a deep, intense ruby red body.

A:  At the first inhale one gets sweet black cherry jam. There’s some pleasing alcohol present.  Subtle spice.

T:  The black cherry continues, but not as jam-like on the palate.  There is an initial sweetness which gives way to earthy flavors, cocoa, and black pepper.  Oak is balanced, adding a modicum of vanilla.

F:  Smooth, fine-grain tannins and a full-bodied feel.  Supple.  Long finish of cherries and a dried herbal note.

O:  An affordable, pleasant Lodi cab.  Excellent on its own or with a simply prepared cut of beef.

Suggested food pairing:  Osso bucco, venison, berry fruit tart, Havarti

 

I See Windmills: Dutchcraft Vodka

Dutchcraft_Vodka

On the docket:  Dutchcraft Vodka Small Batch, Five Times Distilled (Winter Wheat) 40% a.b.v.

Poured into:  Wine & Whiskey Country glass

S:  Immaculately clear, no particulate.  Give it a swirl and it does develop legs.

A:  Just the slightest whiff of grain, and I mean slight.  Am I missing something?  I checked other reviews of this product, and the descriptors are riotously hilarious.  Amusing descriptions include: porcelain, rainwater, and even, get this- electrical charge.  Really?

T:  There’s a definite sweetness present, something I’d best describe as “marshmallow.”  For clarification- this is not flavored vodka.  In my mind, this type of spirit should be without any true taste, color, or aroma.  There is a slight aftertaste that I can’t quite define.  The same review citing those crazy aromas provide flavors of under ripe pineapple, mint jelly, and dried strawberries.  It makes me wonder if we’re comparing the same product.

F:  Very dry finish, and as vodkas go, quite smooth.  Slightly creamy.  Medium-bodied with a pleasant warming sensation.

O:  Excellent choice for value-priced vodka.  Skip the Ketel, go for this hidden gem.

 

Suggested food pairing:  caviar, sushi, mozzarella cheese, cured meat