A significant time period ago I read on some beer blog or another that a Portland brewery was experimenting with an oak aged Belgian-style fruit beer. In a kind of cheeky move, they chose to call it “Stumptown Tart” and had a nice young woman pose for the label. Local seasonal fruit, of course, also figured prominently. We are talking about Portland, after all.
My first response to this sort of thing is to make an attempt to do a trade with a friend in the community in question. Fortunately, on a recent trip to Portland, I’d had a chance to hang out with Lance Mayhew at the House Spirits Distillery. Lance was a decent guy and into beer as well as spirits and cocktails. He endeared himself to Mrs. Underhill and I that day by relating an unfortunate episode regarding an exploding bottle of ferment in the family refrigerator.
I dropped Lance a note and he promised to try to track down some of the Stumptown Tart. Then I was in town again and Lance and I failed to hook up. I did drop off some Russian River Brewing bottles for him at Teardrop Lounge.
Anyway, he was kind enough to ship the Stumptown Tart down to SF recently and Mrs. Underhill and I gave it a try.
My initial response is relief. Stumptown Tart is a fairly dry fruit beer. So many American fruit (or spice) beers put the fruit (or spice) in front of the beer that they taste more like fruit juice than beer. To me Bridgeport did a nice job making a fruit flavored Beer beverage rather than Beer flavored fruit beverage.
Portland Beer writer Jeff Allworth was pretty negative in his review of Stumptown Tart. I can’t say I feel quite as negative about the beer as Jeff did. I did think that its scent and initial tastes promised more than the beer delivers in the end. Something about it is just not quite balanced. (Wait, which Stumptown Tart am I talking about again?) Ahem. Anyway, I’d give it a B for effort and a C for follow through. But as a first try for this brewery in this style of beer, not bad. Hopefully next year’s tart will be even more luscious.
I stopped by Alembic Bar yesterday and confirmed that they are indeed planning on re-launching their “Savoy Cocktail Book Night” the evening of Sunday, Dec 14th.
On Savoy nights, instead of having their regular menu, Alembic simply hands you a “Savoy Cocktail Book” and the bartender tells you to pick a cocktail, any cocktail.
Previously, I have described this enterprise as “masochism”, but others have called it “Hard Core” and “Really Cool”.
Lately, however, I’ve been thinking “Fool Hardy” might best describe the enterprise, as the rumor is they will be allowing a certain middle aged cocktail enthusiast try his hand at Savoy mixology.
Hope to see you there!
Also, for up to date news on what’s going down at Alembic, check out their recently launched blog: Alembic Bar
Persimmon identification, part two for Tiare.
The other sort of persimmon that it is possible you might run across is called a “Fuyu Persimmon”. As you can see, it has a flatter shape than its cousin the Hachiya Persimmon.
Unlike Hachiya Persimmons, Fuyu Persimmons are edible when still crunchy and firm. A lot of times you’ll see folks eating them out of hand like apples. Being a weirdo, I like to peel both apples and persimmons before eating.
I’m trying to think of what other food they are most similar to and coming up a bit empty. Maybe a bit like a crunchy pear, but sweeter and without the acidity?
Few other fun Persimmon facts:
All the persimmons on a single tree ripen at the same time, making them a very seasonal fruit. Here in the San Francisco area, they are available from early November through Mid-December.
You can let Fuyu persimmons “ripen” until they are pudding-like and soft.
Technically, you aren’t letting persimmons “ripen”. They are ripe when they are crunchy. The technical term is “bletting“. But really, you’re mostly letting them rot a bit. Other than Persimmons, Quince and Medlars are also at their best after, ahem, “bletting”.
If you don’t have time to allow Hachiya Persimmons time to “blet”, you can just freeze them. When they thaw again, they will be soft and their astringent character will be gone.
4 Parts Gin. (1 1/2 oz Plymouth Gin)
2 Parts Orange Juice. (3/4 oz fresh Orange Juice)
1 Part Curacao (or any other of the Orange Liqueurs) (Barspoon Brizard Orange Curacao)
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.
Went a bit light on the Curacao, for the recipe. The orange I was using was pretty sweet.
A pleasant, non-demanding cocktail.
This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.