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

They Make Wine in Austria? You Bet.

Wimmer_Gruner_Vertliner_2015On the docket:  Wimmer Grüner Veltliner 2015 1L bottle

Poured into:  Wine & Whiskey Country glass

S:  Pale straw and crystal clear

A:  Lime, honey dew melon, green pear, white pepper.  Bright and citrusy with a nice spice contrast.

T:  White peach and white pepper.  Green herbs, lime, more honey dew melon.  A slight vegetal bitterness.

F:  Great acidity, and zippy almost to the point you’d think it was sparkling.  Warming alcohol.  Medium-light body, refreshing.  Ends dry.

O:  Excellent wine for hot summer days for when you tire of Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio.

 

Suggested food pairing:  light vegetable dishes, Vietnamese spring rolls, fried chicken, schnitzel (classic)

Bored? Oh, Try this Wine

Chateau_L'Eglise_Saget_2014_My_BlogOn the docket:  Chateau L’ Eglise Saget 2014 Bordeaux 750mL (60% Merlot / 40% Cabernet Sauvignon)

Poured into:  stemless aeration glass

S:    A pink meniscus above a garnet/currant body.  Deep color, inviting.

A:  Dried red cherry, a touch of mineral-earth and vanilla.

T:  Much of the aroma carries over into the palate with an addition of a delicate tartness reminiscent of cranberries.  Darker note of plum.

F:  While the merlot provides the fruit, there no bones about it- the cabernet brings the structure.  Smooth, refined tannins carry over into a medium-long finish.  The body has some weight on the palate, but it’s not overbearing.  Medium.

O:  Simple, elegant, smooth and luxurious.  This is a fine example of how just two varietals blended in the right ratio can please any wine enthusiast.

Suggested food pairing:  Mushroom Swiss burger, white cheddar, chicken liver (for the brave)

A Reader Replied! Awesome!

A few days ago, a reader of my blog replied to one of my more recent posts, the one with the provocative title.  The reader sent me a link to an article that discussed how people in the beer world (and other arenas) are appropriating the phrase “black lives matter.”  The reader also explained that while they routinely enjoy my content, they felt uneasy about my choice of titles.  It gave me pause, and I understand and acknowledge their opinion.  This is why I’m a little slow in posting.  However, I will not be changing the title of my blog post.  What I will do however, is explain my views of the preciousness of life, briefly.

It’s not often that I delve into political issues on this blog.  Afterall, it’s about beer.  But, I do want to go on the record and detail my stance on a few things.

All lives matter:  regardless of color, creed, religion, race, age, and lifestyle preference- unless that preference happens to be in the pursuit of causing carnage, fear, and mass casualty.  At that point, I feel your life is forfeit.  On the flip-side of the spectrum, I wholeheartedly believe that unborn lives matter.  My belief that unborn life matters is so strong that this first determines whom I vote for in races for public office.

So, why exactly would I title what most people consider a trivial subject (beer) with such a lightning-rod of a phrase?

Actual black lagers, properly named schwarzbiers, are a German style that receives little consideration outside the world of craft aficionados (and inside the world of craft aficionados for that matter).  They’re not usually brewed with weird ingredients, barrel-aged, or possess double-digit abv.  But, when properly executed, they are flavorful, sessionable, unique beers that show a) dark doesn’t have to mean heavy AND b) all lagers aren’t boring, pale, rice/corn laden cans of swill.  For this reason, I wanted people to sit up and take notice of one of my favorite styles.

Perhaps this attitude is changing, albeit slowly.  A week ago I got an email message that Barley Creek Brewing took first place for their Angler in the black lager category at the United States Beer Tasting Championship.  For those of you lucky enough to have tasted it, you understand why.

The attitude toward black lagers may also be changing in the macro-beer world as well.  Not long ago Sapporo put out a black lager to add to their lighter lager options.  Pleasantly surprised this happened, I bought can consumed a few can just satisfy my curiosity.  Smooth, crisp, and easy to drink, I must say.

Appreciate lagers and share my belief that all life matters?  Let me know.  Your comments will be moderated to keep things friendly.