A Spoonful of Muscovado Sugar Makes the Beer go Down: Southern Tier’s 2XIBA

On the docket:  Southern Tier’s 2XIBA.  Born on date:  7/21/15.  Not the freshest, but certainly within acceptable standards.

Poured into:  Snorkel Snifter with gusto.

S:  A head so khaki it makes my Docker’s look inept.  I might say “nice pants.”  Thick, uniform, thousands of microscopic bubbles.  Thorough but soapy lacing.  Underneath this nice set of pants, the body shows off a deep, dark, brown-black with a pleasant orange glow at the base, but you really have to look for it. Set behind the powder blue octopus and yellow lettering on the outside of the snifter, it’s quite artistic.

A:  Hops greet you immediately with pine, mango, melon trio.  A dark roasted malt aroma follows, with just a hint of sweetness and boozy heat.  Faint whispers of raisin or another dark fruit and molasses.

T:  I need to describe the experience back to front:  Scorpion-shell dryness and a sting of bitter hoppiness.  Mid-way through the smooth oats and dark, rum-like sugar sweetness.  It starts roasty, with pumpernickel bread which carries into the middle.

F:  Medium light, smooth due to the use of oats- definitely sense the “oatmeal stout” fluffiness. Prickly carbonation, enough to lift some of the sweetness away.  It’s hard to see the bubble activity due to the SRM that must be about 40 or so.  Dry finish, it’s a good thing because of the sugar present in the brew.  Despite the 8% abv, no alarming sense of heat from the alcohols.

O:  ST brings you a dark party in your mouth.  It’s complex, a balance of dark, bitter, sweet, and creamy.  These guys seldom disappoint.  I’d love to try this fresh out of the tank.  I’d call this a one-at-a-time brew due to the intensity of the palate (2IPA strength not withstanding).  Fans of Carton’s Epitome or Founder’s Dark Penance would enjoy this (I loved both).  Nice spin on ADAs with the addition of the Muscovado sugar, you can taste it.

S:  4  A:  4.25  T:  4.5  F:  3.75  o:  4.25

Suggested food pairing:  a tough one, but perhaps tangy barbecue pulled-pork sliders, Danish bleu cheese, bread pudding or dark chocolate brownie

May the Schwarz be with You: Saranac Black Forest

On the docket:  Saranac Black Forest Black Beer with a date of 1/25/15.  Pretty old, I blame the establishment from which I purchased it, and the fact I didn’t look until I got home.  Caveat emptor.

Poured into:  Sam Adams perfect pint glass

S: A deep, amber-brown body with violet highlights supports a dense, pockmarked beige head.  Tiny bubbles zip to the underbrush of the head’s bottom.  Eventually, the head subsides into a clearing, a small ring on top.  Lacing is sporadic due to the beer’s age, or a non-beer-clean glass, or both.

A:  Clean, with a hint of caramel, a touch of sweetness, and white-bready grain.  Subtle hop aroma of earth and a twist of lemon.

T:  Smooth clean malt, a dash of roast.  Sweet start but drying finish. Reasonably bitter and hoppy, with earth and lemon carrying through from the aroma.  There’s something a little off, I just can’t quite tell what.  DMS?  Am I crazy?

F:  Medium-light, persistent, tiny bubbles.  Sweet on the start, but chalky and drying on the finish.  Crisp, drinkable.

O:  Consumed fresh, I’m sure this one is fantastic, as evidenced by “the brothers.”  Old, it’s certainly drinkable, but not how the brewer’s intended.  It does, however, sport all the hallmarks of a well-made Schwarzbier.

Suggested food pairing:  barbecue pulled-pork, fruit tarts, Münster cheese

S:  4  A:  4  T:  4  F:  4.25  O:  4

Brewery Interview: Angry Erik Brewing, Lafayette NJ

It was a cloudy October afternoon in the Lafayette industrial park.  A light rain fell, making the collage of red, orange, green and gold leaves glisten.  I walked through the door of the humble brewery to find a fit, energetic young woman hauling around empty kegs and flipping high-bar chairs over in preparation for the crowds that would surely visit in the evening.

Heide and I shook hands, I powered up my laptop, and we got down to business.

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Did You Ever Put Butter on a Toaster Pastry?

On the docket:  21st Amendment Brewery’s Toaster Pastry.  19.3 oz can, 7.6% abv, 74 IBUs, enjoy by date of 1/13/16

Poured into:  Stemmed tulip

S:  Crystal clear orange-amber body sporting a beige head.  The cap is thick, even, about a thumb’s width.  Tiny bubbles constantly rise to the top from the base of my glass.

A:  The hops provide wafts of grapefruit, pear, and a touch of resin.  The malts yield lightly toasted white bread, plus a faint sweetness.  For nearly 8% abv, this no alcohol present.

T:  Much of the hop aroma follows through to the taste.  Bright fruit notes, plus a decent measure of bitterness, made known especially on the finish.  The story on the back of the can is correct; the malts do provide a slightly nutty, earthy quality to the flavor of this amber ale.  There are suggestions of berry and pie crust, but very subtle.  I say 21st Amendment brewers wanted it to remind you of a Poptart, but not fool you into think you were drinking one.  As it warms, I get an herbal, eucalyptus-like note from (possibly) German Glacier or Equinox.  This beer contains experimental hops, so I’m not surprised about the flavor.

F:  Medium body, oily and coating.  Prickly, refreshing carbonation keeps you going back for more.  It finishes quite dry, and would provide contrast to a sweeter, fruity food pairing.

O:  It’s an easy to drink, flavorful, hoppy red ale.  I can understand the inspiration behind it based on the resulting flavor.  It’s something I’d like to try on draft.  Nicely done.  No toaster pastries were harmed in the making of this beer… I think.

Suggested food pairing:  Summer salad with arugula, pecans, strawberries and goat cheese, barbecued chicken, sharp cheddar cheese

S:  4  A:  3.75  T:  4.25  F:  4  O:  4