BOTW–Fall Down Brown

Oh, oops. It certainly has been a long time since I did a Beer of the Week post.

Unless you count the Beer & Amaro Posts, it was fall of 2011 the last time I did a BOTW!

So lazy!

Turns out, I’m still drinking beer from Barley and other fermentables, not just beer from Roots.

Ale Industries Fall Down Brown.

Ale Industries Fall Down Brown.

Ale Industries Fall Down Brown

“Fall Down Brown – 8.25% ABV

“Fall Down Brown is our Fall seasonal. It is a brown ale that has been brewed with smoked pumpkin. FDB drinks more like a Rauch Beer than a traditional pumpkin beer. Don’t expect to taste pie with this one!”

We’re pumpkin beer fans here at SavoyStomp, but even we are a little confused exactly what that means.

Is it an Ale brewed with Pumpkin? Is it an Ale flavored with “Pumpkin Pie Spice”? Is it an Ale brewed with Pumpkin & Pumpkin Pie Spice? Examples of all three of these scenarios, (and more!) exist.

Originally, I think it was just an Ale brewed with Pumpkin. Settlers in the Americas desperate for beer/booze, cast about for whatever native plants they could possibly find with sugars and carbohydrates, even minimal amounts, and one of the few they came up with was Pumpkin and other Winter Squash.

Turns out, plain pumpkin doesn’t have a super lot of sugar, nor does it have a lot of flavor or character.

I guess that’s why we pump our pumpkin pies full of spices, ginger, and sugar.

But, when you’re desperate, you’re desperate.

Nowadays, many pumpkin beers don’t even involve pumpkin, are just beers flavored with Pumpkin Pie Spice.

Ale Industries, have taken another tack. They are smoking actual pumpkins and using them in their beer.

As they say above, this doesn’t taste like a glass of Pumpkin Pie, more like an ale brewed with smoked malt, a la the German tradition of RauchBier.

As smoked ales go, this is pretty tasty. But, then, beer from Ale Industries rarely disappoints.

On the other hand, if pumpkin contributes little flavor to a beer, why use it at all?

Well, it is a great label, and an interesting and seasonal, maybe even traditional, take on pumpkin ale.

Sometimes the best answer is, “Why Not?” or, “Because we could.”

I respect that aesthetic.

Picon Biere #7

One of the classic combinations in certain regions of France is Picon Biere, that is a Pilsener or Wheat beer with a splash of Amer Picon poured in.

Unfortunately, we don’t get Amer Picon here in these United States.

However, even if Diageo refuses to send us Amer Picon, we do get a lot of other Amaros…

With this series of posts we shall explore the possibilities we do have available.

Well, sometimes you do have Amer Picon available.

So let’s say you’re scanning the shelves behind the bar for interesting things, as I often do.

Perhaps you see a bottle that looks a little like this:

Amer Picon

What do you do?

Amer Picon

Trumer Pilsener & Amer Picon

METHOD: Pour beer into the mason jar or glass of your choosing. Pour in 3/4 ounce (or to taste) of Amer Picon.

Well, the polite thing is to observe the bottle with some degree of apparent awe. Someone probably had to carry the damn thing back in their suitcase from Europe, for gosh sakes. Ask your bartender politely, if that might be a bottle of Amer Picon. If he acknowledges your query positively, ask if he wouldn’t mind making you a Picon Biere.

Now it is possible that your bartender type will take some offense at this notion, that you might waste his precious Amer Picon in Beer. In which case, perhaps, if it seems the situation is salvageable, ask for a Brooklyn or Creole Cocktail. Whew.

Picon Biere

However, if your bartender is as nice as Kevin Diedrich at Jasper’s Corner Tap, he might be impressed that you have ordered a Picon Biere and gladly make one for you. Though do note, the label says this is, “Kevin’s Bottle,” so don’t be offended if he doesn’t oblige.

Amer Biere #6

One of the classic combinations in certain regions of France is Picon Biere, that is a Pilsener or Wheat beer with a splash of Amer Picon poured in.

Unfortunately, we don’t get Amer Picon here in these United States.

However, even if Diageo refuses to send us Amer Picon, we do get a lot of other Amaros…

With this series of posts we shall explore the possibilities we do have available.

Amer Biere #6

Ommegang Witte & Torani Amer

If we don’t get Amer Picon in the US, what do we get? Well, a fine Bay Area Company took it upon themselves to create a replacement, so the Basque community in Northern California could have their Picon Punch.

Torani Amer

San Francisco’s favorite for 65 yrs. Mix ice, grenandine & amer for a pleasant drink.

Yeah, fine, pleasant, even, San Francisco’s favorite, yadda, yadda, yadda. So is rice-a-roni, apparently, and Irish Coffee.

Torani Amer is really pretty dreadful. Every time I try it, my first thought is, “Who spilled the orange aftershave in my drink?” My second thought is, “Oh, that’s what chemical Caramel Color tastes like.” My third thought is, “I really should pour this down this sink.”

Witte is our version of the classic Belgian wit or “white” ale. Witte, which is actually Flemish for white, is brewed with malted and unmalted wheat, orange peel, and coriander – offering a refreshing style that showcases the Belgian talent for brewing full-flavored ales that are also light and balanced. It is pale straw in color, slightly hazy from the yeast, and topped with a huge white, fluffy head.

Witte is pleasantly light on the tongue, balanced between malt and wheat sweetness. Hops and spice with a subtle clove note baked by flavors of lemon and sweet orange give way to a dry, crisp, refreshing finish.

I like most Ommegang beers. They were one of the first beer brewers in the US to embrace Belgian style beer. I always feel like their beers are not quite as nuanced as their Belgian inspirations, but they are always good. Interestingly, in 2003, the founders of Ommegang sold their shares of the brewery to the Belgian brewery Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat.

METHOD: Pour a beer into the mason jar or glass of your choosing. (Really, take my word for it, don’t do it, just don’t! Use Amaro Ciociaro, or some other Orange flavored Amaro instead!) Pour in a half shot (2cl) of Torani Amer.

Yeah, I did make this, and I did pour it down the sink. Waste of a perfectly good beer. I added Amaro Ciociaro to the next one and I felt a lot better.

Total Gentian Domination #5

One of the classic combinations in certain regions of France is Picon Biere, that is a Pilsener or Wheat beer with a splash of Amer Picon poured in.

Unfortunately, we don’t get Amer Picon here in these United States.

However, even if Diageo refuses to send us Amer Picon, we do get a lot of other Amaros…

With this series of posts we shall explore the possibilities we do have available.

Ninkasi Total Domination IPA & Salers Aperitif

Total Gentian Domination

Usually, when creating drinks, you strive for balance. Something not too sweet, not too sour, not too bitter. Sometimes, however, it is interesting to layer flavors. I think of Cajun or Chinese Food, where the cooks sometimes layer different types of spice or heat, some from black pepper or Szechuan peppercorns, some from chiles, some from Ginger, and some from freshly cut onions, to create layered flavor sensations in a single dish.

I like many West Coast hoppy beers, as long as they aren’t too extreme, (Moylan’s Hopsickle, I am looking at you,) and was mulling over how to feature one in this series of drinks. Thinking about them, Gentian came to mind. Both hops and Gentian have a sharp bitterness, but the Hops are sharp higher flavors, where Gentian comes in with lower notes and earthiness. Not only that, but it ties in with an ancient style of beer, Purl, which was a sort of morning-after tonic beer, brewed with Gentian or wormwood, spices, and bitter oranges.

I like most things that Ninkasi brews, even their comically named, heavy metal themed Holiday beer, Sleigher.

Total Domination IPA

Statistics
First Brewed: 2006
Starting Gravity: 1067
Bitterness: 65 IBUs
Alcohol %: 6.7
Malt: 2 Row Pale Malt, Munich Malt, Carahell Malt
Hops: Summit, Amarillo, Crystal

On the bottle:
Multiple hops collide in balanced perfection, dominating the senses, achieving total satisfaction. From the Pacific Northwest, birthplace of the modern IPA, comes a beer whose name says it all.

Tasting Notes:
Total Domination has a citrusy, floral hop aroma, and big hop flavor balanced with a richness imparted by Carahell and Munich malts. This beer is a big flavorful Northwest IPA that maintains its drinkability, and as such has garnered great admiration from the novice craft drinker and the seasoned hop head alike.

I had a beer, what about a Gentian Aperitif? My favorite of the two or three that are currently avaiable is Salers. It doesn’t use adjunct flavorings or colorings to the extent that Suze does and it strikes me as slightly more interesting than Aveze.

One of the most classic of French aperitifs is a pour of gentiane liqueur on the rocks with a squeeze of lemon. Salers is today the oldest of the producers and also from the Massif Central, birthplace to this style of product. Unlike the large corporate producers that today add artificial colorant, Salers is all natural, with a drier and rustic character that has historically defined this drink. True to its roots, Salers sources its gentiane solely from the Auvergne. Enjoy in a traditional manner with ice and lemon, or in a variety of mixed drinks.

METHOD: Pour a beer into the mason jar or glass of your choosing. Pour in a half shot (2cl) of Salers Aperitif.

The combination of Pacific Northwest IPA and Gentian Aperitif may not be for everyone, but it certainly perked up my taste buds enough to have two glasses. Definitely a tonic of sorts.

Beer-Fashioned #4

One of the classic combinations in certain regions of France is Picon Biere, that is a Pilsener or Wheat beer with a splash of Amer Picon poured in.

Unfortunately, we don’t get Amer Picon here in these United States.

However, even if Diageo refuses to send us Amer Picon, we do get a lot of other Amaros…

With this series of posts we shall explore the possibilities we do have available.

Beer-Fashioned

2008 Goose Island Bourbon County Stout & Angostura Bitters

To be honest, I’m not over fond of most examples of beers aged in spirits barrels. They are usually too alcoholic and too sweet. If you want a beer and a shot, pour yourself a beer and a shot.

Brewer’s Notes:
Brewed in honor of the 1000th batch at our original Clybourn brewpub. A liquid as dark and dense as a black hole with thick foam the color of a bourbon barrel. The nose is an intense mix of charred oak, chocolate, vanilla, caramel and smoke. One sip has more flavor than your average case of beer.

Recipe Information:
Style: Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout
Alcohol by Volume: 14.5%
International Bitterness Units: 60
Color: Midnight
Hops: Willamette
Malt: 2-Row, Munich, Chocolate, Caramel, Roast Barley, Debittered Black

The Goose Island Bourbon County Stout is a well regarded example of the style, but I still find it cloying and over alcoholic.

What do bartenders do when they find things cloying and alcoholic? Why, we add water (ice) and bitters.

Angostura Bitters is one of the two bitters brands which survived both prohibition and the great cocktail drought of the 50s through the 80s, the other being Fee’s. Angostura is made in Trinidad, my famous writer friend Camper English visited and wrote about them in detail on his website Alcademics in the article, “The History and Production of Angostura Bitters.”

An important, and somewhat arbitrary, distinction in bitters, and a relic of prohibition, is the difference between “potable” and “non-potable” bitters. During prohibition, if your bitters were considered “non-potable”, that is, undrinkable, you could continue to sell them, while “potable” bitters fell under the same bans as regular booze. In modern times, the difference comes down to, if your bitters are “non-potable”, you can sell them in grocery stores, and if they are “potable”, they have to be sold in liquor stores. Gary “Gaz” Regan tells the story that the early iterations of his Regan’s Orange Bitters were just too damn tasty and the TTB sent him back to the drawing board to make them less drinkable. Not that I don’t know people who drink Angostura bitters shots, but then, I do sometimes run with a rough crowd. On the other hand, Angostura bitters are a lot more intense than most Amari, so I will slightly reduce the amount I am using in this version of Amaro and Beer.

METHOD: Place a large ice cube into the mason jar or glass of your choosing. Pour in a quarter ounce of Angostura Bitters. Pour over a Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout. Stir briefly. Garnish optional.

Tasting this, sacrilege though it may be, I don’t think it is a horrible idea to serve the Bourbon County Stout on the rocks. The spice and bitterness from the bitters are kind of interesting, too. I skipped the fruit salad, aka garnish, probably best if you do too.

I still couldn’t finish the whole bottle.

Amaro Bomb #3

One of the classic combinations in certain regions of France is Picon Biere, that is a Pilsener or Wheat beer with a splash of Amer Picon poured in.

Unfortunately, we don’t get Amer Picon here in these United States.

However, even if Diageo refuses to send us Amer Picon, we do get a lot of other Amaros…

With this series of posts we shall explore the possibilities we do have available.

Amaro Beer 3

Hangar 24 Chocolate Porter and Fernet Branca

A while ago the folks from Hangar 24 were nice enough to send me a few of their beers in the mail. Not quite sure what I did to start receiving beer in the mail, but OK. One of the beers they sent was their chocolate porter. Fairly light, on the scale of extreme American Stouts and Porters, it’s pretty nice drinking.

Rich and decadent. This strong porter is perfect for sipping at the end of the day or to accompany full-flavored foods. The intense, roasty flavor comes from two types of chocolate malt and raw cocoa nibs. Whole vanilla beans introduced post fermentation add complexity and enhance the dessert-like qualities of this full bodied beer. Indulge yourself!

Ahem, I knew I wanted to use Fernet in one of these beer and amaro beverages, but how would the extreme menthol notes of that amaro work with a beer?

Mint Chocolate Cookies, that’s how!

METHOD: Pour a beer into the mason jar or glass of your choosing. Pour in a half shot (2cl) of Fernet Branca.

All Fernet menthol up front, the middle flavors are the chocolate and dark malt from the beer, and then lingering bitter notes.

Another keeper, I think.

BOTW–Ovila Saison

Ovila Abbey Saison

For centuries, the monastic tradition has followed the Rule of St. Benedict–Ora et Labora (prayer and work.) This Saison farmhouse ale is in honor of the noble labor in which the monks engage. Hazy blonde in color, these rustic ales are designed to be complex and contemplative but also refreshign and drinkable after a day in the fields. With earthy and spice aromas this Saison has notes of green grass, and a faint citrus tang. The body is light and layered with fruit and spice accents and a dry, peppery, and refreshing finish. Released June 2011.

Sliced tomatoes, Basil, and vinaigrette.

Cap of the Saison. A very, very enjoyable beer. You’ll often catch me enjoying a small one of these when I’m off the clock after Savoy Night at Alembic Bar.

Steak rubbed with salt, pepper, and spices.

Heat that cast iron skillet up hot and sear the first side.

If you don’t set off the fire alarm, you’re doing it wrong.

Roasted potatoes, coming out of the oven.

After searing, we rest.

Tomatoes with Basil and Arugula in a Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Joseph Swan 2006 Zeigler Vineyard Zinfandel

According to winemaker Rod Berglund: “Noticeably sweeter with aromas of fresh blackberry cobbler. In the mouth it is a big wine with the richness and acidity of a light port. The fruit is bright and focused, and, like the Stellwagen, it has excellent balance. Great by itself, with cheese or with dessert. I can’t wait until the wild blackberries ripen as I am going to pick a bunch and make a blackberry cobbler to try with it. Yum!”

Cast Iron Seared Ribeyes, Braised Russian Kale, and oven roasted fingerling potatoes.

Who can resist a St. George Single Malt Whiskey Flavored Gelato Bar?

BOTW–Ryed Piper

First, just a reminder that Sunday, September 25, 2011, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails, (they also have a great beer selection,) on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders, (and me,) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.

Picked up Ryed Piper on the recommendation of the staff at Healthy Spirits.

Ale Industries, Rye’d Piper 5.8% ABV

This hoppy red rye is a rich and flavorful beer with a touch of rye spice that compliments the roasty chocolate flavors of the malt. This beer will speak to the hop head in all of us.

This is the second beer I’ve had from Ale Industries, the first was the delicious Sour Peche they donated to the SF Chefs Unite dinner.

I tend to be a bit dubious about Rye based beer, about 9 out of 10 times they end up with an extreme alcohol nose. I also am not usually a fan of most “Red” beers, most of those are just far too sweet.

So it was a little trepidation that I approached Ryed Piper.

Those concerns proved to be completely unfounded.

This is a delicious, well balanced, hoppy California beer. Definitely worth searching out.

Come to me, my little hops, listen to my siren song…

…and into the kettle with you!

Love the label, love the beer!

BOTW–Late Harvest 2010 v.2

First, just a reminder that Sunday, September 25, 2011, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails, (they also have a great beer selection,) on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders, (and me,) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.

With both of us working more than full time jobs, some weekends it is nice to get away. Leave everything behind and stay somewhere with “No Service”. Fortunately, there are still places as close as Western Marin County which have resisted the siren song of comprehensive cell coverage.

Upright Brewing Late Harvest 2010 v.2

Just last week we released a second blend of Late Harvest, a brew we like to call a provision beer because while it’s quaffable now, is bottled with the intention of cellaring for up to 3 years. This batch uses the Six as a base. It’s a blend of 4 former pinot noir barrels: one with chocolate syrup from Alma here in Portland, two with different forms of black pepper and one straight up, each filled at different times ranging from as little as several weeks to nearly a year ago. The peppercorns, long pepper and Tasmanian peppercorn, are very aromatic, the first being remarkably fruity and bright while the latter are earthy and intense while also lending a numbing sensation to the mouthfeel. The finished beer is very tart and dry with lots of bite from the pepper as well as some from the rye and hops. That bite will mellow with age and the beer will round out with more chocolate and oak flavors coming through down the road.

When visiting Portland in early December 2010, we were had the good sense to visit the Upright Brewing Tasting Room. While there, we tasted a number of fantastic beers, but one of the standouts was this Late Harvest v.2. We knew we had to get a bottle to take home. Chocolate and Peppercorns at first seems like an unusual taste combination, though when you think about it, Chocolate and Chiles is a classic combo, so maybe Chocolate and Peppercorns, not so odd.

Even last December, I remembered the Peppercorns being more dominant in this. 10 months down the line, it is the mild sour character and chocolate which stand out. Not sweet enough to be a dessert beer, this is still a very rich tasting brew. Delicious and a treat to enjoy it in Northern California.

It wouldn’t be a trip to West Marin, without a nice hike. This time we hiked with a friend along the Bolinas Ridge. We spotted this mystery herb at the beginning of our hike and saw it throughout the trip. Smelled delicious, minty with a hint of camphor. I suspect it is Pennyroyal. If so, it’s fortunate we only smelled it, as it appears Pennyroyal is fairly poisonous.

These are the flowers of the mystery herb, probably Pennyroyal.

I didn’t take a picture, but it was nice to also notice for the first time Yerba Buena growing along the trail. One of my favorite native mint-ish plants.

Hm, wait, if we are walking in a quadrangle, and this juncture is the second corner, that means it’s half way?! Wait, if I add that up, it comes to about 8 miles… About half my friends will think I am a wimp for finding 8 miles is on the edge of my hiking tolerance, and the other half will think I was crazy for walking it.

Well, it was very beautiful. A great weekend (not too far) away.