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Abbey – Belgian Style Ale

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Craft Beer can be expensive as we all know, so every once in a while I go to my local grocery store and get one of those 12 packs that has a variety of beers, in the end, those cases of beer can cost the same or even less than that $18 bottle. I have to say that every time I pick one up, I’m never disappointed in the product they put in those boxes, sure they have some that I wouldn’t buy on its own, but since it came in the pack, I’m glad I picked it up and it helps me try new beers. The pack I purchased a few weeks ago was from New Belgium Brewing, it was the Folley Pack that had their Spring offerings and in the case, I found three bottles of the Abbey Style Ale. I drank two of them and the third bottle, I used it to make dinner on a Sunday night and I made a Beer Braised Chicken dish, it was delicious and I include the recipe in this post and you’ll definitely want to stick around for it.

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The Abbey Style Ale had some of the common aromas you’ll find in this style, it was a bit boozy with some alcohol being very present, some of those biscuity smells too like bread and some yeast funk, and this beer was very malty, it smelled delicious. The Ale has a medium body with low carbonation. The taste is primarily malty, you’ll get lots of malt throughout the sip and will combine with a bit of banana and vanilla sweetness up front, finishing with a yeast and alcohol flavor. The bottle noted it had some anise, but I failed to smell or taste any of it, even though I let it sit to reach room temperature.

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This is a a beer that really surprised me, I was not expecting it to be up there in my rating system. As I previously mentioned, these 12 packs I tend to buy, have a mix of bottles that please me, on average they are Three Beer Caps, but this particular Abbey Belgian Style Ale merits Four Beer Caps from me. If you’re reading this, get to the store and pick one up and make sure you also get the rest of the ingredients for the Beer Braised Chicken recipe I have below for you.

Rating4

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The Abbey Ale marries well all of the ingredients from the recipe. You’ll experience a nice and creamy broth with great earthy flavors from the ale, mushrooms, and beans. It’s a lovely home-made flavor made for these cold winter days. I got the recipe off the Food & Wine website and didn’t have all of the ingredients available, like the anise seeds and saffron, but the flavors came out great.

Throw one back for me ~ cheers!

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Ingredients:

  1. 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  2. 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  3. 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons pure olive oil
  4. 8 skinless chicken thighs
  5. 2 tablespoons anise seeds
  6. 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  7. 1/2 teaspoon loosely packed saffron threads
  8. 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  9. Salt
  10. 1 cup shelled fava beans
  11. 1/2 cup fresh peas, preferably English peas
  12. Freshly ground black pepper
  13. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  14. 1 pound button mushrooms, halved
  15. 8 scallions, thinly sliced
  16. 2 thyme sprigs
  17. 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  18. One 12-ounce bottle Belgian beer
  19. 1/2 cup heavy cream
  20. 1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  1. In a small skillet, toast the anise seeds over moderate heat, shaking the skillet, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Let the anise seeds cool slightly, then crush with the side of a knife.
  2. In a mini food processor, combine the toasted anise seeds with the chopped garlic, saffron, paprika and cayenne. Add the lemon juice and puree. Transfer the mixture to a large, shallow bowl and stir in 1/2 cup of the olive oil. Add the chicken thighs and turn to coat with the marinade. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add salt and the fava beans and cook for 1 minute; using a slotted spoon, transfer the fava beans to a small bowl and let cool slightly. Add the peas to the boiling water and cook until tender, 5 to 6 minutes; drain. Peel the fava beans and add to the peas.
  4. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large enameled cast-iron casserole. Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade, scraping off the excess. Season the chicken with salt and black pepper and cook over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken thighs to a platter.
  5. Wipe out the casserole, add the butter and heat until melted. Add the halved mushrooms, sliced scallions and thyme and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until any liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are browned, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Slowly stir in the beer and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the casserole.
  6. Return the chicken thighs to the casserole and season with salt and black pepper. Cover and simmer over low heat until the chicken is tender and cooked through, about 25 minutes. Add the cream, fava beans and peas, increase the heat to moderate and cook uncovered until the sauce has reduced slightly, about 5 minutes. Discard the thyme sprigs. Serve the chicken stew in shallow soup bowls, sprinkled with the parsley.
Make Ahead: The braised chicken can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat gently and garnish with parsley before serving.
 
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Posted by on February 12, 2013 in Empty Bottles

 

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Tart of Darkness

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Not a lot of reviews on sours have been posted on the blog and it surprises me as I’m fond of them, but I rarely set them aside for me to save for a review. I can count the number of sours I’ve posted on the blog, maybe four, this would be my fifth or so, definitely not a milestone, but lets treat it as such, it’s variety people! I can’t recall drinking a Sour Beer that’s been worthy of a Five Beer Caps rating and I’ve set a goal to search for one in 2013. How’s that for a New Years Resolution?

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Today we’ll delve into Tart of Darkness, a sour beer from The Bruery in Placentia CA, it is a Sour Stout aged in Oak Barrels. This is a beer that was very aromatic despite the serving recommendation of 50°F. When you pour the beer and reach to sniff, you’ll notice that it has a very strong tart smell. The aroma of sour cherries is also noticeable and although the bottle reads it, I couldn’t pick up any of the “roasty” ingredients.

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I love anything sour like warheads and sour patch kids and when I took a sip of the beer, I was reminded of that kind of sour. I could taste some citrus peel and sour cherries, the combination of these two flavors up front I enjoyed. I’m not an expert when it comes to serving temperatures, but when it comes to beers from my personal experience, a beer on the warmer side has a lot more character and that’s what happened with the flavors of this beer. The roasted character flourished just enough, it wasn’t strong, and you got some of that smoky oak and malt. A full bodied sip as expected for a stout with a nice coating of the tongue from the carbonation. I was puckering the entire time I drank this from the sour dry finish and waiting for kisses, but my wife was nowhere to be found, as is normal during my beer research.

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This is a sour that went in a different direction, but a good direction. It’s a very drinkable beer, despite being on the extreme end of the sour spectrum, I enjoyed drinking it. A lot of people out there love this beer, I’m not there yet, but its worth giving Four Beer Caps out of Five. Pick one up and share with some friends.

Rating4

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Throw one back for me ~ cheers!

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2013 in Empty Bottles

 

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Fantôme de Noël

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Fantôme de Noel is a Saisön brewed by Brasserie Fantome in Belgium. This is the last of the four bottles I wanted to review before Christmas Day. I didn’t get a chance to get this one posted before Christmas Day, but the name of the beer suits today’s post as Christmas has passed and we are left with the fantome or ghost of Noël.

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This Saisön is definitely interesting. It has a variety of bread yeast funk, with a citrus/tart aroma of cherries and grapes, not exactly an aroma that evokes Christmas, but maybe that’s what Noël smells like in Belgium. The pour goes flat immediately, the carbonation and head dissapate right away. It’s an easy beer to sip with flavors of dry fruits like currants, grapes, cherries, and apples and I didn’t get any Christmas flavors at all; it’s a Farmhouse Saisön and that’s probably how Christmas is like in the farm, not a lot of moms or gramma’s baking. I’m really surprised this is 10% ABV, as the alcohol is not present in the taste or aroma and it didn’t feel, like the alcohol creeped up on you. The beer has a tart dark cherry aftertaste that leads to a peppery finish.

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This is closer to a sour and I couldn’t think of it as a Christmas or Holiday’s type of brew, but what do I know?! It’s an OK tasting beer and next year if you want to drink something that reminds you of Christmas, skip it and grab one of the ones I previously reviewed. I’d say go for it around the fall or if you want to drink a sour, but there’s better ones out there. Two Beer Caps for this Belgian Saison that left even this Grinch, wishing for Christmas flavors, but as a Saison or Sour, Three Beer Caps.

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Posted by on December 26, 2012 in Empty Bottles

 

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Santa’s Little Helper Bourbon Barrel-aged

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It’s late in the day and Christmas is almost over, but I have enough time to post my recent beer tasting I’ve reviewed. This is a beer by Ports Brewing in San Marcos California, the beer is called Santa’s Little Helper, a fun name for a Russian Imperial Stout aged in bourbon barrels.

This beer had a strong aroma of bourbon that was followed by roasted malt, dark and bitter roasted coffee, dark chocolate, and alcohol. Santa’s Little Helper had a medium body with very little carbonation. The sip is slightly dry with nice tones of vanilla, roasted coffee, and dark chocolate, and the bourbon is present throughout . At 12% ABV, the alcohol is a lot more present in the aroma than in the taste and its turning out to be an easy beer to drink. The beer warms the stomach once it deposits there, but no alcohol burn in the wash.

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I tend to shy away from high alcohol beers as I rarely enjoy them, they tend to be on the sweet side and the strong alcohol finish is off putting. This beer is an exception to that, and as I mentioned, the alcohol was not a strong presence when drinking. I enjoyed drinking this beer today and today being Christmas, I think the fat man in the red suit wouldn’t mind drinking this one after delivering all the toys. A lot of good things going for it, but it was not worth $18 and was missing a lil something; Three Beer Caps for this one.

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Rating3

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2012 in Empty Bottles

 

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Old Jubilation Ale

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Old Jubilation Ale is of the Strong Ale variety made by Avery Brewing Company in Boulder Colorado.

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Malt was the beers primarily aroma followed by roasted coffee, dark chocolate, some yeast funk, all combined with a strong alcohol presence. A malt backbone with some roasted notes, but the holidays don’t come to mind when I sip. I thought of a chocolate and nut biscotto when I first took a sip. Old Jubilation Ale has a nice creamy body and just the right amount of carbonation. The beer had a sweetness from the malt that I really enjoyed. Dark chocolate and roasted coffee beans are discernible, but its a boozy sip and the alcohol will overpower while the malt brings around. The finish is bitter from some hop flavor and leaves you with a dry mouth.

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At 8.4% ABV, Old Jubilation Ale is one that can get you to bed early if you don’t mind what you’re drinking, so take it easy with it. The beer can be cellared for up to 2 years according to the bottle, I just might consider doing that to see how the character of the beer changes. I’ve enjoyed drinking this beer, but I was looking forward to some holiday spices in the beer, but it can go both ways as this can be an alternative to the heavily spiced winter warmer available at this time of year. Three Beer Caps for this one.

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Rating3

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2012 in Empty Bottles

 

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Yule Smith – Winter Holiday Ale

I’ll be reviewing these four beers in the next few days, something I should’ve done earlier in the month, but the good thing is that you can still drink these beers even after the holidays.

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It’s the holiday season and if you plan on visiting someone, show up with beer, there’s an advantage to it, trust me. You’ll probably find more wine drinkers than beer drinkers, and if so, you’ll get to either drink all the beer yourself or share with a much smaller group, in the end it’s more beer for you!

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Yule Smith Holiday Ale is brewed by Ale Smith Brewing Company in San Diego. Yule Smith is brewed twice a year with one batch being available during Fourth of July and the other during the holidays.

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This is a Double IPA with a clean floral hop and strong sweet malt aroma. The sip was complex with a punch of hop and malt; delicious. After the beer warmed, caramel and some roasted notes were detectable and enhanced the intense malt flavor. I served the beer as noted, around 50-55 degrees, but I preferred and enjoyed it more on the warmer side. The warmer beer had a different character, the body on the sip was pleasant, much better than when cold. The caramel notes complimented and balanced the hop and malt flavors. Yule Smith had a bitter finish with a peppery burn and alcohol burn.

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This is a great winter warmer to serve to your friends and family. Sit next to the chimney and wait for Saint Nick and serve him a glass as I’m sure he’ll need it and will take you off the naughty list. Five Beer Caps for this great tasting beer.

Rating5

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2012 in Empty Bottles

 

I Pigged Out!

Haven Gastropub in Pasadena collaborated this past Sunday with Golden Road Brewery and hosted an event called, “This little piggy went to the brewery.” The event was right up my alley as they were serving two of my favorite food groups, pork and beer! Those are yours too right? I found out about the event last Friday when I stopped by Haven to grab a beer and some Pork Rillettes. The Pork Rilletes dish is delicious, served with toasted sourdough bread and pickled mustard, just tasty, so when Brian, who’s a bartenders there mentioned the event, I thought it would be worth coming back Sunday and checking it all out.  Thanks for hooking me up and remembering this beer patron Brian!

Pork Rilletes spread over sourdough bread with mustard seeds.

The Haven location in Pasadena is a nice big spot and although it’s not a sports bar, they have big screens, and it worked out as this sports fan needed to watch some Football on Sunday.  All the food served was great as was the beer selection.  The variety of beers on tap at Haven is up there, close to 50 I’d guess.  It was all you can eat pork dishes and 10 tickets for about a 5oz pour of any of the 17 combined beer options available from Golden Road and Haven Brewing.  I managed to taste all of the 17 beers available thanks to the great bartenders who weren’t overzealous about collecting the tickets and made sure we got a pour of all their beers; this keeps a patron and fan, coming back to visit.  Below you’ll find pictures of the delicious food I ate and I describe briefly three of my favorite beers that day.

The Beer Options

Hello World – Pale Ale – Haven Brewing
Sosigenes – Imperial Double IPA – Haven Brewing
Schwartz Stout on Espresso (cask) Golden Road
Hello World, was my favorite out of all the ones I tried, it had a nice strong hop flavor that blended well with the malt character of the beer.  Sosigenes, mild malt flavor with a nice citrus presence, a very refreshing Imperial IPA.  Schwartz Stout, nice bittersweet flavors of cocoa and roasted espresso beans with a nice creamy sip.

Charcuterie & Beer

You guessed right, filled with some yummy pork lard.

The Pork Spread!

I had a taste of everything and I have to say that I was really pleased with the offerings.  I probably had eight of the succulent pig tacos you see in the picture above, just wished the tortillas were hot by the time I was served the tacos.  The rest of the food included root vegetables, mac and cheese, fried Brussels sprouts, you can’t go wrong with fried and a pork rillette bite.  Everything was really good, thanks Chefs!

The Food and beer were great.  I’ll definitely consider going to their Sunday Beer events which they are starting to put together.  If you get a chance, make sure you check out some of their Sunday events, the food options and beer selection won’t disappoint you or the family.  Remember that if you are in Los Angeles, LA Beer Week starts today and both Haven Gastropub and Golden Road Brewing, are participating in events.

Throw one back for me ~ Cheers!

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2012 in Beer Outings

 

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