Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cholula Hot Sauce & Nogne O Imperial IPA

A few weeks ago I received a set of four hot sauces from Cholula, a Mexican company claiming to be the "flavorful fire" so I figured it was time for a little cooking and beer pairing.  The 4-pack of sauces came with the original flavor, chili lime, chipotle, and chili garlic.  I had some fajita beef on hand, so I figured a garlic and jalapeno beef fajita with some chili garlic hot sauce would be pretty tasty... especially paired with the right beer!

The recipe itself was pretty simple, diced up pieces of beef with some olive oil, minced jalapenos and garlic, Cholula chili garlic sauce, and a little Slap Ya Mama cajun seasoning.  I blackened the beef in a cast iron skillet while I debated which beer would be good with some fajitas.  With the hot sauce, another round of hot sauce coming, and the cajun seasoning, I anticipated a bit of a spicy fajita, so I opted to go for a Nogne O Imperial IPA (@nogneo).  I figured a big hoppy beer would counter the spice well and help quench a little bit of burning between bites.

 After the meat was done cooking it was fajita time... a few black olive slices, a generous helping of shredded cheese (4 cheese Mexican blend!) and a little more garlic chili Cholula hot sauce completed each one.  They ended up really nice, spicy and flavorful which was complimented well by the extra hoppy Nogne O beer.  

Cheers, and always remember to drink well when you eat well!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Review: Stone Vertical Epic 11/11/11

I'm rushing this review out because it's a beer from Stone Brewing (@stonebrewingco) still on the shelves at a few local places like Calandro's (@calandrosmkt for you twitter people, where I bought a bottle) and probably a few other usual suspects when it comes to more limited beer releases. 

This is the tenth release of the Stone Vertical Epic series, starting on 02/02/02 and culminating next year on 12/12/12.  I guess they thought of the idea a year too late to start in 01/01/01, but oh well, still plenty of beer to enjoy!  The main point of "Vertical Epic" is the idea of a vertical tasting.  In beer terms, and probably wine as well, a vertical tasting is going through and tasting many successive years of the same beer release.  This of course requires the patience and storage to age beers for years and the money up front to buy beers that you might not drink for, in this case, a decade.  Recently I've been working on increasing my beer cellar so of course another one of these will be added for aging, and to be drank when the 12/12/12 Vertical Epic from Stone is released!

Now on to the beer itself... of course I had to buy one for immediate consumption!  This one is a "chile beer" which just means that it has some chile peppers in there but doesn't really describe the base of the brew.  For this one I poured into an imperial pint, but I think a snifter would be even better for next time, or for anyone who tries one after reading this. 

It's a ruby red color, clear with a couple of fingers of off white head. There isn't much lacing but some good looking pooling on the surface of the beer.  I let it warm a few degrees before drinking because the fridge is at 37 and that's just too cold for a good beer like this.  Once the beer fridge / kegerator is up and running I'm going to be keeping it right around 45 degrees, which is much better for a tasty beer.

The smell is rather malty with some strong cinnamon notes. There's a little Belgian floral hop note in there as well. Pretty appetizing. The taste is a lot more chile in there with a flavor that closely resembles a Belgian dubbel. I'm a big fan of the interaction. It's very easy to drink with a minimal alcohol note despite a strong 9.4% abv and the chile flavors really enhance the rest of the taste.

Another winner from Stone, grab one of these if you can, the price was very reasonable (I think $7 or $8 if I remember right.) I felt higher about it than the BeerAdvocate community, but at a decent price it's absolutely something worth trying.  If you really aren't sure about a chile beer, buy one to try and if you like it find another one to age.

My Rating: A

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Full Whiskey Tournament Field!

For those who missed out on the Raise A Glass Whiskey Tournament selection show on the radio over the weekend, here if the full field of 68, er, 64 whiskeys that are still alive! 
Click on the bracket for a full-sized version.

Please write in the comments, tweet me at @BRBeerScene, tweet the show at @RaiseAGlass, or post comments on my facebook page and let me know what you think about any of the match-ups.  In the event that the judging panel of myself, Jay Ducote, James Lawson, and Jeremy Spikes (with possible other guest panelists) are split on a vote, then the reader/listener participation is the tiebreaker. 

The field after the #1 seeds was set randomly, so there are some interesting first-round match-ups and some big-time upsets in the making.  Tell me what you think and who you think should win!

Here are the four sections of the bracket broken apart:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Raise A Glass - Season 2: The Whiskey Tournament

Hello everyone!  

I'm excited to announce that Season 2 of Raise A Glass will be premiering on Friday, Nov. 11th, at 6PM on WHYR radio 96.9, Baton Rouge.  For those that can't catch it on the radio, the show will also be up on iTunes shortly after appearing on the airwaves, and you can find the Raise A Glass iTunes page here!

In season 1, we developed some ideas for the radio show where we stuck to a topic every week and gave bits of info about the topic such as 'How It's Made' and 'Drinking In Time' and 'Liquor in Foreign Places' but we decided to try something a little different for season 2.  Instead of focusing on a new topic each week, we are going to have an overriding theme for the season, and in this case it's going to be whiskey!  

A few days ago it was time to record the first episode, so I got together with Jay Ducote, my co-host, brother, and the author of Bite And Booze, our producer James Lawson, and our good friend Jeremy Spikes to set the field of 64 whiskeys in our season-long whiskey tournament.  We had representatives from all over the world, although mostly from the United States, Scotland, and Ireland.  I cant reveal the entire brackets yet, you'll have to listen for yourself or check my blog out later, but I did want to get some feedback on a few first round matchups!

So, who do you have in the following preview matchups:
Lagavulin scotch vs. Cragganmore scotch?
Baker's bourbon vs. Booker's bourbon?
Black Bush Irish whiskey vs. Millar's Irish whiskey?

Reader/listener input through the season will help us determine the matchup winners, so let me know what you think, tell me what your favorite whiskey is, and what you would want as your top seeds, and those will get consideration for advancing.

All in all, I'm looking forward to this season, it should be a lot of fun discussing and comparing all the different whiskeys.  And maybe season 3 will be a beer tournament instead?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Could It Be? Westvleteren 12 in the Unites States?

Apparently unbeknownst to most people outside of Belgium, Westveletern had a crazy one-day large-scale release of Westvleteren 12 gift packs.  They released 98,000 "boxes" as they called them in an effort to raise money to restore parts of their abbey.  The one-day release apparently rivaled large release parties in the USA like Dark Lord Day and the Pliny the Younger release, except it was at a chain of stores across Belgium instead of just in one location!

What's of most importance to us, though, is the last tidbit... where this article is translated as saying, "Almost all revenue, 2.3 million will be devoted to the renovation. A similar formula should also be born abroad in 2012. Some 70,000 boxes should be sent beyond our borders."  Whoa... 70,000 gift packs of Westvleteren 12 leaving Belgium?  You have to assume that at least part of that will be coming to the United States, so keep tuned and keep on the lookout for this next year.  I'm sure it'll be a crazy event, I know I'll grab as much as I can even if it's $30 or so per pack, or whatever 25 Euros is exchanging to these days... probably more.  I paid $20 per bottle just to try it so a 6 bottle and 2 glass pack, hell yeah.  

Here's hoping this is true, I'd love to have a few of these in the fridge waiting for me when I get home.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Beer Travels: Bozeman Brewing Company in Bozeman, Montana.

Alright, time to finish off one of my New Year's resolutions with brewery trip #6 on the year, a visit to the Bozeman Brewing Company up in Montana!  After flying in, and a quick rest stop for lunch at Mandi's aunt's place, we headed to the brewery for their nightly open house.

 Apparently law in Montana allows the brewery to sell three pints per person (or one growler refill) per night directly, but only between the hours of 4 to 8.  I guess that's an interesting way to allow breweries to sell direct, but only in smaller quantities, or give daily growler fills to the locals.  So,  we picked out a table in their tasting room, and headed to the bar for the first round, the Amber Ale and Belgian Dubbel.

The space was a little small but it is a small town, and they had 8 of their beers on tap, some of the regulars it seemed plus a few special releases. I did like the atmosphere of the bar area / tasting room a lot and they had a handful of tables with barstools plus some popcorn available.

The beers were outstanding, and cheap! The regular pints were $3.50 and snifters of some of the special releases like their Imperial IPA and Barrel Aged Imperial Stout were only $5. I really liked the Imperial IPA a lot, and Mandi loved the Barrel Aged Imperial Stout which was aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels for a very different and interesting flavor.

The standards were quite good as well, and one of the real highlights was the fresh hop ale made from local hop varieties. It was a real treat and the epitome of drinking local.  Apparently Montana is a real hotbed for hops farms... I did not know that.

All in all a great experience and if I'm ever back in Bozeman I'll be stopping in to see what's new on tap. A must-try for any beer lover stopping through. And with that, I'm am done with another New Year's resolution!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Latest on Bandit Blonde from Tin Roof Brewing!

Hey everyone, just received this press release from the guys at Tin Roof Brewing.  It appears that the Bandit Blonde is about to roll out on tap in the area.  Here are the details:


BATON ROUGE, LA (November 3, 2011) - Tin Roof Brewing Co. is pleased to announce the launch of the highly anticipated Bandit Blonde Ale on draft in the  Baton Rouge area market.  Bandit Blonde Ale will be available at many local bars and restaurants starting Wednesday, November 9th…just in time for homecoming.
"We’re extremely excited to be rolling out this third brand," said William McGehee, Tin Roof co-founder.  "With all of the media attention Bandit Blonde received earlier this fall, we’re just glad to be able to finally offer it to our customers.”
The name Bandit Blonde pays homage to the famous defensive unit responsible for helping LSU bring home the 1958 National Championship.  The beer will be a light-bodied, crisp American blonde ale, perfectly suited for Tiger tailgating.
Official collegiate licensing for the beer is still in the works. However, Tin Roof has been working closely with LSU, and students have already been attending regular brewing sessions at Tin Roof throughout the semester as part of a new, brewing-based food science course.   The Louisiana Business and Technology Center, the LSU business incubator, has been assisting in business planning and marketing with its counselors and MBA graduate students.  The brewery also provides the LSU AgCenter with cattle feed.  Thousands of pounds of spent grain from the brewing process are sent to the dairy on a weekly basis. 

Tin Roof has pledged 10% of their Bandit Blonde sales to the LSU Foundation until the licensing reaches final approval. "This beer has been tied up in the licensing process for quite a while," McGehee said.  "We really wanted to get Bandit Blonde to fans this football season, and a draft launch was the only way to accomplish that goal as the official cans will take time to produce."
Tin Roof Brewing Company was founded in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and began operations in November 2010.  Tin Roof will now offer three flagship brands:  Bandit Blonde Ale, Perfect Tin Amber Ale, and Voodoo Bengal Pale Ale.   Perfect Tin is also available in cans.  Brewery tours are every Friday from 5:30-7:30.  For more information, follow Tin Roof on twitter or facebook, or please visit www.tinroofbeer.com.
So... less than a week away Tiger fans!  It's good to see the local guys adding a third beer to the lineup, and I hear they have some more extreme styles up their sleeves as well.  Now we just need to convince the NCAA to get their shit together and allow LSU to license the beer!