Dark City Goes Dark: Boom! Roasted – Coffee IPA

Boom_Roasted

On the docket:  16oz. can of Dark City’s Boom! Roasted Coffee IPA

Poured into:  Wine & Whiskey Country stemmed snulip

S:  Hazy pale-gold with a merengue head.  Sustained retention.  Tiny, zippy bubbles wend their way to the top.

A:  When taken in colder, the hops are definitely the dominant note.  Bright stone fruit notes of peach nectarine and a cymbal slash of grapefruit pith.  As it warms up, the earthy, dark roasted notes of the coffee get louder- the bass and floor toms that contrast the bright brassy hops.

T:  Much of the flavor mimics the aroma.  A third player enters- the slightly doughy, grainy malt. All work together to provide a complex experience.  The coffee provides depth and richness, but also bitterness.

F:  Light, fluffy, but carbonated.

O:  A highly enjoyable, sessionable coffee IPA.

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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

Oh, have you not Herd? It was my understanding that everyone had Herd!

Bolero_The_Herd_My_BlogOn the docket:  Bolero Snort’s IV Anniversay, The Herd 750mL

Poured into:  Dogfish Head craft goblet with enough vigor to produce a head, but as not to disturb the yeast from the bottom of the bottle.

Sight:  A deeply gingerbread body fills the glass with a quick-forming khaki head.  As dark as it is, there’s nice evidence of carbonation, tiny, delicate bubbles well up from the base.  A few seconds later, the head dissipates to a tightly hugging ring and a storm-front mass of suds on top.  Further insepction reveals a lovely reddish hue to the body.  No lacing, but hey, it’s a 10.5% abv drink.  Taking a look at the bottle, one can observe a ring of  yeast sediment on the bottom.

Aroma:  Intense, sweet malt.  Almost rootbeer-like spicy sweetness.  Just a fleeting sense of vanilla and gentle perfume of esters and alcohol.  Molasses.  Dark purple fruit note.  Yep, the plums are there.  No hop presence.

Taste:  Much of the aroma follows through to the palate.  Malt and sugar sweetness, on the fuller side of the style.  Pleasant warmth from alcohol which keeps it from becoming too sweet.  The plum note manifests as part of a “fruitcake” sort of fruitiness, along with the yeast.

Mouthfeel:  Highly carbonated, with very fine bubbles, not sharp and biting.  Finish is moderately dry with a slight bitterness, bringing another means of balance.  Medium-full body.

Overall:  More abbey-style than Trappist, a nice New-World interpretation.  This is not your father’s Chimay.  A great way to celebrate four years… at least that’s what I herd.

Suggested food pairing(s):Mongoian beef and broccoli, port-wine cheese, filet, raspberry chocolate cheesecake

Beer Dinners, and Why They’re Awesome

If you’ve ever attended a well-run beer dinner, you know the treat it is– the thoughtful pairing of beer and food.  I attended one not too long ago, featuring an extensive list of Firestone Walker’s portfolio, paired with wonderful dishes, ranging from Bavarian pretzels (with Pivo Pils) to pork belly (with Double Jack).

Beer and food pairing is an excellent creative exercise, and one Garrett Oliver goes to explain at great lengths in his book, The Brewmaster’s Table.  This is also a valuable concept to understand when studying for and taking your Cicerone exam.

For those of you who follow me and are local to Warren County, NJ, I’ll let you in on a little secret:  I’m brewing up a celebration of sorts, a beer dinner that will feature the three Hackettstown breweries all under one roof.  That’s right, Czig Meister, Man Skirt, and Jersey Girl will share the spotlight one night in the semi-near future at a location I’ll disclose as I get further along in the process.

Excited?  I know I am.

Black Lagers Matter: 100th Blog Post!

To my devoted fans, my new fans, and future fans, welcome to my 100th blog post.  You didn’t think I’d make it here, did you?  Well, I’m happy to say, the time has arrived.  In honor of such a momentous occasion (in my head at least), I felt it only right and proper to do a beer review.  This one is partially in honor of my heritage, my fondness for dark beer, and of course, because my freakin’ awesome wife bought not just the beer, but the container in which this marvelous libation dwells (though soon, it will have a new home, in my stomach).  As her Valentine’s gift to me, she bought me a ceramic, 64 ounce growler from Barley Creek Brewing Co. and filled it with one of their year-round favorites of mine:  Angler Black Lager.  Below is the review:

barley_creek_angler_black_lager

Angler Black Lager

On the docket:  Barley Creek Brewing Co.’s Angler Black Lager

Growler filled:  2/13/17

Poured into:  Lone Eagle Brewing Co. craft glass

Sight:  From a long way off, you’d swear the glass held the darkest stout in the world.  But come closer.  A more attentive inspection screams walnut hardwood or if you want to get esoteric, bistre (sooty brown) with reddish-orange highlights.  The head, though short lived is a quick-forming beige cap.  Lacing is braille-like and delicate.  The cap recedes into a swirl of suds and a small conclave of bubbles on one side of the glass.  The body is dark enough to prohibit the detection of bubbles rising to the surface.

Aroma:  Malt is definitely the star here, as this beer yields an aroma of darkish baker’s chocolate and cocoa powder.  There’s a slight suggestion of roasted coffee, and an earthiness that reminds me of either tobacco or leather.  Either is fine.

Taste:  Closely mirroring the aroma, is a malt-driven brew.  Chocolate, sweetish malt and a hint of brown or pumpernickel bread.  The slightest trace of caramel.  There’s a roundness here that’s appealing.  Only on the end do the hops make an appearance in the bitter balance to all the smooth, dark malt flavors.

Mouthfeel:  The commonly held misconception is that dark beers are heavy.  Well, some are.  But this?  This is light, elegant, and dances on the tongue, a medium- on the body.  Fine carbonation.  Crisp, smooth finish– just like a lager should have.

Overall:  Is it an imperial, barrel aged stout with vanilla, coffee, cocoa nibs, and blessed by a priest?  NO.  This is a fine example of a beer style that receives way too little attention in the beer world:  Schwarzbier.  For those that love lagers, for those that love German beer, for those that love dark beer, for those that love session-able beer (5.2% abv), this beer is for all of you.

Suggested food pairing(s):  banana chocolate-chip pancakes (beer with breakfast anyone?!), coffee-encrusted flank steak, smoked wurst, sharp English or Irish cheddar, chocolate-pecan terrine

 

 

Beer: The Most Romantic Drink of All

That high-stress relationship holiday is around the corner, and I’m sure florists, Hallmark, restaurants, and M&M Mars are poised to make a killing.  Yes, I’m referring to Valentine’s Day.  Inspired by Ms. Puckette’s article over here on her site, I feel wine is pretty well covered.  My focus will be on my first love, beer, and its ability to pair well with chocolate.

Right out of the gate, beer already has an edge over (most) wine when pairing with food- its carbonation.  Capable of cutting through rich, thick flavors and dense fat, those bubbles in beer act as a palette-cleanser.

Couple this cleansing ability with similar flavors found in chocolate, and beer is effective, versatile, and quite the complimentary beverage to chocolate.  Dark, roasty stouts and porters may contain black patent and/or chocolate specialty malts, providing flavor.  Some brewers even add chocolate itself into the recipe, as is the case with Samuel Smith Chocolate Stout made with organic cocoa.  Another option for pairing is a milk stout, such as Left Hand’s Nitro.  It’s brewed with lactose (milk sugar) which does not ferment out, leaving the beer a touch sweet.  Try milk stouts with chocolate high in cacao, to counter and soften the bitterness.

beer_and_chocolate

For those fans of spirits, a bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout or porter will provide a layer of depth and complexity to your chocolate pairing.  Bourbon barrels impart a dose of vanilla and caramel, plus a dryness due to the oak compounds.  Pair these brews with quality milk chocolate and experience something akin to a Milky Way Bar.

Something commonly paired with chocolate is fruit.  Combined with either white or traditional chocolate, fruit beers make excellent “chocolate-covered strawberry/cherry/raspberry” experiences.  A beer such as Founders Rübæus, or its big brother, Blushing Monk, are made with raspberry puree.  Raspberries also provide a hint of tartness, adding a balance to the rich, creaminess of chocolate.  Or, you could skip the fruit AND the chocolate, and blend a chocolate and fruit beer together, a la Samuel Smith’s strawberry and chocolate.

For the truly adventurous, perhaps something esoteric is in order.  The few of us who enjoy those whack-and-unwrap chocolate oranges, try Sierra Nevada’s Side Car (or any pale ale with hops that impart an orange flavor to the beer) with some creamy milk chocolate.

I know me and my wife will find some sort of awesome combination to celebrate this year’s romantic holiday.

Six More Weeks?! Six More Beers.

groundhog-day

With the Super Bowl done and over, we can get back to our regularly scheduled beer drinking.  I mentioned at the start of the year I’d post about deep-winter beers.  Thanks to that miserable rodent, Phil, I guess we have more time to drink them.  Below are my favorite brews for those NW-NJ days with temperature highs in the teens.

Winter Warmers:  More a concept than a style, this one has English origins and typically sports a prominent malt profile coupled with balanced bitterness, and on more than one occasion, spices.  Samuel Smith Winter Welcome is a classic example, but there are plenty of U.S. breweries with their own take, such as Bolero Snort’s Frozen Pasture.

Belgian Strong Darks/Quads/Dubbels:  A good way to sleep the winter away, these brews are usually malty, dark, and strong in the alcohol department.  Beers produced by those magnanimous monks at Chimay are excellent in quality and easy to acquire.

Russian Imperial Stouts:  A favorite dark, high-gravity style of mine.  Roasty, malty, but intensely bitter, a great way to balance out a serving of cheesecake.

Doppelbocks:  The German way to celebrate those chilly nights.  Enjoy in a leather armchair in front of a fire, bearskin rug optional.

Though this makes #7, I feel remiss without mentioning Barleywine.  If you like them sweet and balanced, go for English.  Want something hoppy, and a bit more bitter?  Go American.  J. W. Lee’s Harvest, and a one-year old Sierra Nevada Bigfoot are great choices, respectively.

Come back in a few days when I opine about pairing adult beverages with chocolate, providing ideas for that most romantic holiday, 2/14!