Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Tipsy Boar Beer Dinner Featuring Green Flash Brewing

Tuesday night I went to a kick-ass beer pairing dinner at The Tipsy Boar in Hollywood, Florida. And the featured brewery was Green Flash Brewing out of San Diego! I hadn't been there before, but apparently I've been missing out on 40 taps and an awesome menu. For this event, I was invited by Ed Roberts (back on Twitter) and Stephens Distributing (they always have the best parties).

I arrived early of course, but was greeted by Tim and Jamie and Richard from Stephens and Luis Carrizo, Green Flash's South Florida District Manager. They all had cool Green Flash shirts of which you could say I was envious of all evening. But they bought me a few beers, so you know. We chatted and I took a bunch of pictures as I sipped a sample of Ristretto Cosmic Black Lager, a limited release beer (I had a pint later too, LOL) served much later with dessert.

Before I forget, Best Beer of the night was the awesomely fresh Green Flash Green Bullet. And Best Food Dish of the night was the Grilled Jerk Chicken on a Bed of Egg Noodles with Asian Vegetables and Peanut Curry Vinaigrette!

I told a bunch of the people at "Richard's Table" that for me, this was a little different than the typical beer dinner. First, there were six food courses each paired with a great beer (doesn't count the pre-game course). Luis had mentioned earlier that Green Flash is known for their IPAs and their core lineup that doesn't drift below 8% alcohol, so there's that too, LOL. But the main difference was that the menu was less of a traditional meal progression and more of a (big portion) sampling of the best dishes the restaurant has to offer. Picture Gordon Ramsey or Robert Irvine walking into a restaurant on one of those shows, ordering 10 items like they always do, and LOVING all of them so much they licked their plates. Yeah!

We started with a Spicy Ahi Tuna Tar Tare Topped with Guacamole and Crispy Won Tons paired with Hop Odyssey Citra Session Ale, a beer I hadn't tasted before. I loved the spicy tuna, loved it! There was a "spare" plate from one raw fish hater that I pretty much ate as well. The beer was super astringent and full of grapefruit and lemon rind bitterness, great as a pairing beer for this rich dish.

Next up, that Grilled Jerk Chicken I mentioned above served with a second Hop Odyssey beer, their White IPA. Luis mentioned that the beer was originally a collaboration Green Flash did with Founders Brewing. The dish was beautifully presented (as they all were). OMG, let me tell you how awesome the chicken and noodles and intense though not overpowering spice was. Moist chicken, crunchy vegetables, peanuts and curry spice made it pop. Since I never swear, SO FUCKING GOOD! I was NOT the only person to say that at my table.

Grilled Jerk Chicken with Egg Noodles
As each dish was being served, including by the owner of the restaurant, Jamie had a recorded video to show on a TV screen above the kitchen to each of the 40 or so guests. My favorite video moment was when the beardalicious Green Flash Brewmaster Chuck Silva was asked who he'd like to drink his last beer with on Earth. Before he answered the interview question, I guessed Jesus, which seemed like the "duh" answer. But Chuck said the Swedish Bikini Team. LOL!

This may have been the pause moment where I somehow had that pint of Ristretto ordered for me. And it lasted the rest of the evening. Third course was Fork Pinched Jumbo Raviolis Stuffed with Wild Mushrooms and paired with West Coast IPA, a killer beer. So awesomely bitter, piney, spicy, intentionally aggressive! The tender fresh pasta and filling were delicious, and the almond crunch in the creamy sauce was perfect.

Lamb Porterhouse wish Okinawa Mashed Potatoes. Hola Rosemary!
Our fourth entree, seriously, was Lamb Porterhouse with Okinawa Mashed Potatoes and Blue Cheese. Ed made me try the Green Bullet served with it after taking a bite of the blue cheese solo. I liked that side pairing I guess, but I have this love/hate relationship with blue cheese. Sorry but Green Bullet kicked West Coast IPA's ass all the way back to San Diego on this occasion. Super duper fresh, sweet and bitter at the same time. The lamb was tender and juicy while the potatoes were very unique and tasty.

Seared Veal Tenderloin Wrapped in Pancetta? Yes, please! Good dish, but the most memorable for this one was the Le Freak beer pairing. I used to trade beer to get this Belgian Triple/Imperial IPA hybrid, but no more for over a year now. And to help make it even more accessible, Green Flash will be opening a second Virginia Beach, VA brewery. Hope I'm invited for opening day! If you like delicious juicy orange mango tropical Belgian yeasty beers, this is your crush!

Vanilla Ice Cream Float
We finished up eating with what was called a TahitianVanilla Ice Cream Float served with that Ristretto Cosmic Black Lager. No skimping on the ice cream either. Delicious. I'm pretty sure that I might start having one or two of these after working out every day!

Luis told me about two new beers that are coming on November 1, 2014, so I'd be an encyclopedia of Green Flash knowledge! Not sure if this is breaking but JIBE will be a 4% alcohol 65 IBU Session IPA and Soul Style IPA will be a 6.5% alcohol 75 IBU beer named for a "hanging loose" surfing style. Not sure how much looser Spicoli could hang, but I learned a new term!

Thank you for the invitation and great food and beer and conversation and people and service and everything. I was sad to come home!

Spicy Ahi Tuna Tar Tare

Fork Pinched Jumbo Raviolis
Seared Veal Tenderloin

Monday, August 25, 2014

Squatters Bumper Crop Honey Ale

Well, I never did get to try the President's Honey Ale (probably a Twitter follower is why). But perhaps Utah Brewers Cooperative's new summer seasonal, Squatters Bumper Crop Honey Ale, might be the next best option. The label shows a photo of an old-school tractor in a field. On the back of the bottle, a short story about lavender and local honey, creating a beer that "tastes bee-yootiful." Unfiltered. 5.5% alcohol. 15 IBU.

Pleasant flowery lavender aroma with malty sweetness in the background. Sweet honey flavors and plenty of lavender and flower flavors are pretty much what this beer offers start to finish. Yes, I know that's what was promised. Just stating the obvious. Mostly a malty beer though there is enough bitterness and carbonation to tone the initial sweetness just enough. The lavender lingers at the finish, and by the end of the bottle is just a touch too much. Simple and tasty. Check it out.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Guinness Blonde American Lager

I was invited to Guinness' launch of their new Guinness Blonde American Lager at Biscayne Tavern last week. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to make it as I was down the shore vacationing with my family. Blonde American Lager is the first in a new series called the Discovery Series. As I was unable to make the tasting, I figured out a way to have a few samples waiting for me when I returned from my trip.

But when I opened the box, there were two unlabeled bottles and no supporting marketing materials. I pretty much figured that one of you guys sent me some homebrew to check out (which is fine). I did finally find a stamp that told me it was Guinness and that it's a sample not for sale. I don't know a lot more other than it's brewed in Latrobe, PA (I saw a few reputable places online say that).

I grabbed my new Concrete Beach Guinness drinking glass and cracked open one of the bottles. Grainy, buttered toast aroma. Flavors start the same, with lots of grain and more of the buttered toast, lightly sweet. Hints of vanilla and butterscotch fade in and out, along with hints of fruit. A grassy bitterness answers the initial sweetness, nicely balancing the beer. Good body, nice prickly carbonation. More of that fruity apple lingers in the aftertaste. Pretty good. I liked it!

Update 10/28/14: Here's a model at a festival holding the real bottle for those that may like to see it:

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Uncle Matt's Organic Grapefruit Pale Ale

Ed Roberts and his family were over for some burgers and beers a few weeks ago. Ed brought the Westbrook Rhubarb Remix, the Cantillon Lou Pepe, the Brooklyn Cuvee Noire, and the Intuition Ale Underdark Imperial Stout. Yeah, I know! But he also left behind a bunch of Leinenkugel shandy varieties and this one I'm trying today: Orlando Brewing's Uncle Matt's Organic Grapefruit Pale Ale.

The brewery tells a little story on the back, how they only brew what they want to drink. Oh, and how all the organic stuff that goes into this beer results in DARN GOOD BEER. Holy chunks of yeast! We're talking mega floaties. Sweet grapefruit and orange fruity aroma. Much maltier flavors than expected--lots of caramel and a strong herbal tea thing going on.

Underneath that malty base, however, was a big dose of grapefruit rind bitterness. It actually leaned more sour and astringent versus a fresh hoppy citrus flavor that I'd have preferred. So-so overall.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Squatters Wee Peat Scottish Ale

One of my friends at the Utah Brewers Cooperative in Salt Lake City hooked me up again with a handful of samples to check out, some new and some repeats with their awesome new label art and packaging! I chose to try Squatters Wee Peat Scottish Ale first.

The golf-themed label is totally appropriate as I sit here watching the final round of the Wyndham Championship. A black and white close up of a dude sporting argyle socks and golf knickers is about to tap in for birdie (unlike Tiger Woods). The back label tells a little story to set your expectations. 5.6% alcohol.

Giving a nod to Wynwood Brewing's first year anniversary (which I just missed while on vacation), I poured the beer in their branded glass. Smoky and caramel filled aroma. Lots of smoky flavors in the beginning as well, but not ever annoying as is sometimes the case. Caramel and ripe plum sweetness are next, with hints of savory meaty bacon as well. At first that savory angle seemed a little much, but a few sips and some warmth made it an enjoyable nuance. Good body.

I don't see this in my South Florida home base any time soon, but this brewery is expanding out west and you can check them out in lots of places. As for this beer, definitely include it in a flight next time you're in town.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Cubano-Style Espresso Brown Ale

I saw one four pack of Cigar City's Cubano-Style Espresso Brown Ale a few weeks ago and decided to grab it. I didn't remember if I had tried it before or not. Apparently, I wrote this back in 2011 when they were still bottling this beer. This time, it's in a wrapped can that lost all the charm of the label art. Boo! Brewed with vanilla, cacao and coffee beans. 5.5% alcohol.

Great aroma: rich chocolate, wonderful coffee and a nice sweetness. Big mocha and chocolate flavors come first, riding a wave of creamy smoothness. Great texture! Coffee is present but not too big, especially considering the beer's name. Hints of vanilla also make an appearance as does a light roast.

Body is on the low end while carbonation is low but fine. Nice flavors, though I honestly prefer the regular Maduro Brown Ale without any added twists.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Saranac High Peaks Clouded Dream

Today I'm trying Saranac High Peaks Clouded Dream, a hybrid IPA/Belgian style white ale brewed by Matt Brewing Company in Utica or Buffalo, New York. I really like this High Peaks series, so I asked to be sent this newest edition by the brewery. Voila!

Considering the style,  I think the name is perfect for this unfiltered beer. And the electric aqua-blue tint shown on the label's clouds really makes you think of dreaming. The back of the label tells a little story about wheat and oats and citrus, and it finishes with some beer stats. 7.3% alcohol is probably the one you were looking for!

Belgian yeast and wheat prominent in the nose, but after a few whiffs, you can really smell the coriander and orange, both sweet and citrusy. Wheat flavors also dominate the beginning. They are met by some tangy orange and spicy coriander. A light alcohol dryness comes before a powerful citrus finish that totally cleanses the palate.

Sweet and bitter, not really a balance of the two. Just a seesaw swinging back and forth (to mix a few metaphors). Good flavors but there is a lingering sour lemony touch that I don't love after each sip. Overall, nice beer.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Beer Camp Across America: Double Latte

I'm checking out Beer #12 in Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp Across America series this year. For me, that is their collaboration with Oregon's Ninkasi Brewing: Double Latte. This beer is a coffee milk stout brewed with lactose. The story on the back sets your expectations and lets you know the coffee comes from Stumptown Coffee Roasters. 7.6% alcohol. 60 IBUs. Packaged 05/30/14.

Sugary sweet mocha and rich chocolate aroma with a big dose of coffee. Yum! The flavors are much less sweet, though there is certainly a creamy sugary background throughout. Rather, plenty of roasted coffee bitterness is the featured attraction. You may taste hints of smoke and a little chocolate, but coffee is the star. A good dose of alcohol hits at the finish as well. Full flavored and coats the palate very nicely.

I personally would have rather seen less coffee bitterness and more chocolate sweetness, yet this was still the best beer of this year's Beer Camp series!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Double Trouble Imperial IPA

Seventeen years ago today I was about to have a big church wedding ceremony and reception with someone I was already married to! Yep, four months earlier we got married for real in White Plains City Court in front of a judge, baliff and witness. To celebrate, I went to Ross and Target alone to buy clothes for the first time in a few years (I hate clothes shopping) while my wife went to the beach with some of her friends. And neither of us said "Happy Anniversary" anyway, LOL. (We celebrate in April.)

But I am celebrating today with a bottle of Founders Brewing's Double Trouble Imperial IPA. This has been sitting in my fridge for a few weeks and you know what they say about letting IPAs sit around, right? I also decided to really go all out and use my new Delirium Tremens glass and awesome new "You Earned It" brass bottle opener!

The label art is very cool and plays off the name of the beer. It shows a "two-in-one" face, depending on how you are looking at it. Right-side up is a dude with a mustache; upside down is a happy, clean-shaven man. He's probably happy because the beer is in his glass. 9.4% alcohol. 86 IBU. Bottled 06/04/2014.

Terrific fruity aroma full of apples and mangoes, fresh and quite hoppy. Nice bitterness up front with pungent, ripe hop flavors. Green and dank! Pine bitterness and spicy little nips on the tongue follow, along with some fruity citrus. Mild orange and pineapple sweetness add a hint of balance, though this leans more bitter by a good amount.

Some alcohol shows off and on, along with some accompanying dryness. Resinous pine bitterness lingers at the finish. Very enjoyable and highly recommended! But I'm back to All Day IPA now!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

YOU EARNED IT Bottle Opener

Specialty men's retailer Owen & Fred recently contacted me about a product they thought you guys might want to hear about. Though they specialize in made-in-the-USA gear for men, you females also have permission to use this kick-ass bottle opener! I got explicit permission from the manufacturer!

I recently tested out my new YOU EARNED IT Bottle Opener on the fabulous Founders Double Trouble Imperial IPA. I'll do my best to describe and show you the scale of this bottle opener with some pictures, but words may prove difficult and photos can be deceiving!

YOU EARNED IT was made in Brooklyn, right down the road from The Brooklyn Brewery. From there, the package was sent to my home in Florida in a very nice gift box. Simple but nice touch! Inside the box, my bottle opener was inside a little gift bag that pictured and named the product, also suggesting "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere." Good thing, it's 2:30 here! Another memorable thing Owen & Fred did to make their product stand out!

OK. Holy Shit! This is a four-inch-long, half-pound piece of pure bottle-opening muscle! Perfect size! That might not sound very big, but the weight is substantial. And it handled the Founders bottle with ease, like "get the hell out of here, small stuff" ease. One side is embossed with YOU EARNED IT while the other has the "&" from the company name on it. Since most of you are "Righties," you'll be reminded more often that you earned that beer!

You should totally check this out! It can be left on the counter as a display piece and will for sure be a conversation starter. And God help me, but if you are at my house and try to steal this bottle opener, I will kill you! Anyway, Owens & Fred sold out a few times already, and that's just since they launched the product on Memorial Day a few months back. I would buy this now for myself and any gifts that are coming up: birthdays for spouses, siblings, 21+ kids; celebrations, rewards at work, for the Groomsmen, Christmas, whatever!

Their slogan of "Men's Goods. Made Great." has easily been met. And I will never let my wife put it inside a drawer ever again (I'm sorry for that one time, YOU EARNED IT bottle opener. I already told her not to do that again.) And since I bought some new pants and shorts earlier today, I may need to check out this belt next from the company catalog!