I travel for business from time-to-time. The trips are typically short and there’s often limited time to explore the destination – so I bring beer home to explore it afterwards:
I’m coming back to Toronto after quietly being away from home for the last 10 days. Part of the time was spent vacationing in Ontario’s cottage country followed by a blistering 3-day visit to New Brunswick (which included a 16-hour drive).
On the way to New Brunswick, we bought some beer in Quebec. I took the opportunity to pickup a few local craft beer including this one:
I leave beer in the freezer. Too often. It`s just kind of what I do.
If you ever forget beer in the freezer, defrost it slowly in the fridge. That may help keep it drinkable. But if it defrosts too fast or it pops its seal when freezing, it will be flat and not a lot of fun to drink. Here`s some things you can do with frozen beer (this also works with flat beer that`s left from the night before):
- Add it to tomato sauce to make chili. This is just the best option and you can`t go wrong with it.
- Add it to stock or soup.
- Use it to replace water when making dough or pasta.
- Cook rice in it.
- Use it as a de-glazing liquid to add to stirfrys.
- Steam dumplings or other things.
- Add it to mashed potatoes.
- Add it to gravy.
- Use it as part of a marinade.
- Make bbq sauce.
- Glaze something in it.
- Add it to maple syrup, (50-50) and reduce it over a low simmer – use this as a glaze or sauce base.
- Add it to a cream sauce.
- Make a cheese fondue
What would you do with leftover beer?
My Christmas errands brought me to the LCBO (our Provincially-run liqour stores) and a quick rummage through the beer selection offered a few memories of seasons past as well as a few choices I hadn`t seen before. Here`s some of the bottle`s we`ve tasted this season:
Barley Days Cherry Porter (5.5%, Picton, Ontario)
The cherry takes a backseat in this bottle; I`m not sure I would have picked it out in a blind tasting. It`s on the sweeter side for a porter and is an easy drinking dark beer. I think those who adore porter may call this a little tame but it is an easy drinking beer that could be drank year-around.
Dieu Du Ciel Corne Du Diable (God of the Sky Brewery, Hor of the Devil Beer, 6.5%, Montreal, Quebec)
Quebec has long roots in Religion – many Craft Brewers have reference to Religion, Folklore and such traditions. This hard-hitting IPA is alcohol-forward and plenty bitter. It was my favorite beer of the Holidays (so far). It pours a beautiful dark-amber, it`s head is perfectly balanced and the beer is crisp and refreshing. Considering the Holidays is a time when we eat a lot of vastly different flavors, it`s a treat to have a single taste that`s strong enough to cut through the different cheeses, snacks and feats we share while still leaving your palate in tact for the next taste. This beer does just that.z
Brooklyn Brewery Double Black Chocolate Stout (10%, Brooklyn, New York)
This is a return to out fridge. It screams dessert. I love pairing this with parmesan dipped in chocolate. It tastes of molasses or chocolate and is just a fantastic winter beer. It`s an adult alternative to hot chocolate and also pairs fantastically well with a comfy sweater.
Russian Gun Imperial Stout (8.4%, Cambridge, Ontario)
Russian Stout tends to be heavily boozy. Despite the high ABV, this stout was smooth to drink with no surprise finish (I find the boozy stouts can take your breath away a few seconds after a large gulp). This was super-easy to drink and the only criticism I can think of is that purists may find it a little too tame to fit into this style. This is a great beer to introduce people into darker and higher alcohol beers. I quite enjoyed it.
Meantime Coffee Porter (6%, London, England)
This is the cutest bottle that exists. It just makes the contents feel special. Meantime is a very cool beer maker – consider that their coffee porter has won `Top 50 beer in the World` several times over and that they have an exclusive beer club that`s open to only 500 members. Each of the members of the College Beer Club gets 2-750 ml bottles of rare beer sent to them each month for the low-cost of about $800 per year. Meantime won brewer of the year in England in 2008. Their coffee porter is a light-tasting porter with a heavy coffee influence – each bottle contains the same caffeine as a cup of coffee. It`s a pleasant drinking dinner beer that was lovely with our turkey dinner.
Southern Tier IPA (7.3%, Lakewood, New York)
I love IPA. If there`s one thing that the traditionally bitter ales labelled as IPA suffer from it`s that the style has become so interpretive that it`s tough to truly guess what the contents of a bottle may taste like. Higher alcohol can dull the flavor of a beverage so those with high booze content tend to have amped-up flavors. This beer is no exception – it`s very bitter and it`s taste turns the corner to taste almost like a spruce tree blended with citrus fruit. It`s an interesting combination that I didn`t adore (though I found it easy to drink) and Dana`s mother loved.
Worse. Worst. Worster. Just simply not that good. They all describe me and my approach to my collection of craft beer from around the world. I really wish it wasn`t the case but I think it`s simply time to face the facts.
I am a sucker for `scarcity.` Anything that says limited edition or is not readily available or unique just appeals tremendously to me. This probably has a lot to do with the wall of jars in the kitchen that fill our lives – and our bellies. I’m a sucker for it and I know it.
I also know that my love of beer – and craft beer – is only part of the reason for the occasional 4-hour drive to the United States (Buffalo) where I can fill up on craft beer that I can’t buy in Canada. The passion for beer is certainly part of the fuel – knowing that I have something to drink (and share) that I can’t get in the province (or country) that I’m from is another part of this love. Dana’s pretty sure that some wire will eventually cross in my had and I’ll turn into an overnight hoarder. The joke is partially tongue-in-cheek. Partially.
As I write this I find myself running on fumes. I haven’t slept in more than 36 hours. I’m surprisingly alert (just finished doing some house cleaning and cooked a lentil soup from scratch for Dana and her Mum) and have decided to open a bottle I’ve been holding on to for more than a year. It’s time to celebrate a few things including the official start of my vacation and the completion of a work project that has been under development (off and on) for the last two years.
The bottle is from Stone Brewery – it’s a Double Bastard. It’s the big brother to Arrogant Bastard and hails from San Diego. It’s tough to find their beer in the North East – next to impossible to locate in Canada. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the brewery in person and have long considered them one of my favourites. I loved Arrogant Bastard when I first tried it and tonight will be my first taste ever of Double Bastard.
And I’m sad. I haven’t even opened the bottle and I am already disappointed that it’s gone. Don’t get me wrong – there’s no tears or true tragedy; just a small twinge that’s sharp enough to be noticed. Sharp enough for me to feel it. Sharp enough for it to make me laugh at myself.
The truth is that I am a better collector than consumer of Craft Beer. I’m not sure that’s entirely a bad thing; as long as I don’t end up nailing the door shut behind me and fortify my house with a shield made of empty beer bottles. For now I’ll just take comfort that I can share and laugh at the voices in my head.
Short post today – but a valuable one (at least for the beer drinkers amongst us). I had a different post planned but a timely event served a good reminder and thought it may be a good time for a health and safety announcement. .
We`ve all learned that the odd twist top bottle is next to impossible to open. Some are so stubborn that you actually need a bottle opener to pry the lid to get to the golden nectar stored safely inside. It`s frustrating and, as I learned a few years back, a hint that something might not be right.
I did 7 projects for a National Brewer 10 years ago. In that time I learned the entire process of mass producing beer (rather fascinating) – from brewing through packaging. It was amazing to see how more than 700 bottles of beer can be filled in a minute. It`s not exactly craft or micro but it is indeed fascinating and I learned a lot from the process. It was rather fascinating.
A beer bottle can be reused more than 20 times in it`s lifetime. There are a lot of urban legends which try to explain how they track uses – claims range from marks on a bottle through to printing on the label. The truth is that the large brewers bring forensic scientists to Canada from Europe who can examine a bottle through a microscope and can examine the rough lines on the glass which are etched as a bottle travels through the processing line. They examine broken bottles to ensure that their lines are running as fast as possible without creating excess breakage.
It was during this process that I learned that twist tops are often difficult to open because of a crack or a break in the thread of the bottle. Since learning this I can state that close to 100% of the very difficult beers I`ve had to open had broken threads.
So there`s your beer safety tip of the day. As for the battle between craft, home and mass-produced? We`ll wade into those waters on a different day.
I have shared the following video several times – it still brings shivers to me when I watch it:
“I am a Craft Brewer” was commissioned by Greg Kock of Stone Brewery (San Diego, California). He made it as his intro for a keynote speech at the American Craft Brewer’s Association. He came onto stage to a standing ovation after playing that clip.
I hadn’t realized that there were a slew of beer-related (and other) knock-offs. Dana found two that she showed me today and I wanted to share. They are well worth the watch and show the passion of beer geeks from around the continent (and the globe for that matter).
Let’s start with “I am a Home Brewer”:
There is also “I am a craft beer drinker”:
It’s a light but passionate post today.
This is post number 666 on WellPreserved. A rather nefarious number needs a topic to suit so we thought we’d give a nod to a good ‘ol Ontario Craft Beer:
Supposedly brewer with 666 kilograms of malt, 6.66 kilograms of hops, and boiled for 66.6 minutes this 6% beer was originally 6.66% after being conceived on – you guessed it – June 6, 2006 (6/6/06). Great Lakes Brewery claims ‘the Devil made them brew it.’ It’s widely available in the LCBO (that’s the Government controlled Liquor Commission Board of Ontario for those from afar).
The beer pours a dark brown (almost black) with plenty of carbonation:
It’s not overly bitter (especially considering that it is a pale ale) and there are strong undertones of caramel/ toasted hops in the glass. The beer has a creamy texture that smells slightly of nuts and grain. It’s been a mainstay on the craft beer scene for the last few years and is well worth a pour. I hadn’t had it in almost a year when I tucked in to this glass and found myself a little ticked that I had waited so long before returning.
Cheers to number 666 – both the ale and the posts!
Another pretty bottle, another pretty beer. It`s not always that way – but in this case, it`s true.
Lagunitas (la-goon-E-tas) claims that `this is not a double IPA’ it`s just a good American Ale.` I found this to be particularly accurate as it`s taste resembles a true IPA far more than many of my recent bottles which claim to be so. I guess the moral of the story is we all want to be something a little different from we actually are (tongue planted firmly in cheek).
Speaking of tongues-in-cheeks, I adore the copy on the side of the bottle (including the Keanu Reeve`s style WHOA… for the 10 cent refund in Wisconsin):
The beer is bitter (unless you are familiar with IPA and you may claim it is on par with it`s peers) with a head that disappears rapidly. It is a crisp beverage which has a lot of bite up front before hinting at caramel and then abruptly fading as fast as it arrived. At 6.33% it certainly let`s you know that there`s alcohol but it`s far from boozy.
Once again, this is not available in Canada (it is from Petaluma, California – home of Winona Ryder as I recall). For something in the same ballpark, you could try St. Peter`s Golden Ale from England (available in te LCBO).
I find myself pulled to IPA (India Pale Ale) more and more all the time. If you like bitter tastes there are so many great examples – it`s just a shame that so many are not accessible in Canada.
When I was a child a fort was something you built before hiding in – if you were lucky you got to sleep in it overnight.
I later learned the word had other meanings on other languages – FORTE in music is to play loud and bold and FORTE in French means STRENGTH or STRONG.
When it comes to beer, the word FORT generally doesn`t hide anything and such was the case with Dogfish Head FORT. It`s a bottle I brought back from one of various trip to the US; this one was about 2 years old.
The wine-bottle sized ale will age in bottle for a very, very long time (some have successfully aged beer for 25 years – although this is generally reserved for beer that has it`s final fermentation in bottle). We figured 2-years was plenty long enough to wait so we popped the top on this raspberry ale last night.
THe initial shock to the tastebuds comes from it`s staggering punch – 18% abv (alcohol by volume). I wouldn`t clasify this as a thirst quencher although it has plenty of taste. It would be a great dinner or after-dinner beverage. It pours thick and syrupy with little head. It`s punch of alcohol is softened by the sweet undertones of raspberry.
Sam Calagione is the owner of Dogfish Hear (it`s in Delaware) and here`s his review of the ale:
The packaging is also worth noting; I just adore the value and attention that some of the worlds best craft brewers are spending on beautiful labels. It`s also novel to note, from a Canadian perspective, that there is no mention of the alcohol percentage (abv) on the bottle – which is a strict requirement in Ontario as well as most of the rest of the Country.
A fascinating bottle that is best shared with others.