**Notes of a Beer Nerd is written by Timperial Stout, our resident cellar dwelling mammal. Reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or write a comment below.***
Tuesday I celebrated my 30th birthday. Well, actually, I use the word “celebrate” loosely. The real celebration was about 2 weeks ago when the greatest friends and family a man could ever ask for threw me a “Dirty 30″ surprise party (thank you all so very much!).
I also just completed a long weekend away at Treehouse Point, yet another surprise provided by my wonderful girlfriend. Point is, I’ve already done a lot of celebrating, so Tuesday, the actual anniversary of my birth, was more or less comprised of a bit of self-pampering.
After a long day at the brewery helping out Rhett Burris of Burris Brewing cook up another batch of his delightful Jackrabbit Pale Ale, I stopped at Ballard Market on my way home and grabbed some ingredients for an epic Skooby-Doo style sandwich (you know, the kind that is so tall that you need to crush it down with both hands in order for it to fit in your mouth) and, of course, some tasty adult beverages.
A Dogfish Head 90 Minute Imperial IPA paired very nicely with my turkey (and a ridiculously lengthy list of accompanying ingredients) sandwich. The scent of palisade hops that filled the air of the brewery earlier in the day made me crave this member of the Seven Wonders of the Hoppy World (doesn’t exist, but it should).
Honestly, the herbal and malty sweet balance of 90 Minute is so perfect that I believe it would pair nicely with just about anything. I mean, if you told me I had to eat a shoe but I could wash it down with a 90m, I’d eat the hell out of that shoe.
The most exciting and noteworthy element of this pampering came at the very end of the night. A simple pleasure, but a pleasure without a doubt – an ice cream float! I took the simplicity to the extreme, using Rogue‘s Chocolate Stout and vanilla bean ice cream, both of which are very easily obtained at almost anywhere selling foodstuffs. I decided to give it a little pizzazz and added a few fresh raspberries.
This made me think…surely, in the vast reaches of culinary creation, there must be countless ways to pair beer with ice cream and make it delicious. With all the styles of both out there, what possibilities await us? I did a bit of brainstorming and some research, and I thought I’d share a few thoughts. Maybe the next time your sweet tooth comes a knockin’ you’ll whip up a beer float and tell us your thoughts.
Sticking with the stout motif, The imperial stouts of Southern Tier would be killer combos with vanilla, chocolate, or even fruit flavored ice creams. Try Choklat, Jah*va, Mokah, Creme Brulee, or Oat.
How about fruit lambics and ice cream? Just about any offering from Lindeman’s would be killer with vanilla. A Cantillon Kriek or any of the New Belgium Lips of Faith beers would work wonderfully as well.
Playing mad scientist with beer and ice cream seems like a darn productive use of time to me. Beer Blotter suggests that you give it a whack and let us know what pairings work best.
In celebration of world renowned brewer, Fred Eckhardt, Hair of the Dog will be hosting their 5th annual Fred Fest. Fred, known to many beer lovers as an American style barleywine is just one of many spectacular brews from Portland’s very own HOTD.
Below is a blurb from FredFestPDX’s blog regarding details about the event:
Attendees will be treated not only to a rare assortment of hand-selected beers, but also light fare cooked in beer and a birthday cake — complete with a round of “Happy Birthday” — just for Fred. Cheeses, chocolate, candy and even cereal will be offered in abundance so attendees can experience some of Fred’s famed beer-and-food pairings.
Cost for the event is $50 in advance ($60 at the door for the few remaining tickets, if any) and includes a souvenir glass, free ticket for a raffle of bottled specialty beers and four hours of sampling, sipping and story-telling with Fred. Tickets *are* limited and they are going fast (they’ve sold out every year to date), so order yours today before it’s too late!
So get ready, Monday, May 10, 2010 from 6:00PM until 10:00 PM at Hair of the Dog Brewing Co.’s digs. You will be in the company of some amazingly unique and well executed beers. As always, 100% of the proceeds from FredFest and the related auctions will go to a charity of Fred’s choice. This year, Fred has named the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation as the 2010 recipient of the fest.
A quick side note- use the directions to the brewery that are posted on their website. Your GPS will bring you to a place that does not serve beer and that is very upsetting.
Hair of the Dog Brewing Co. makes several beers that are worth your time and pleasure. You have your attainable beers such as Blue Dot, a smooth IPA, Ruth, your quintessential American Pale Ale, Adam, first brewed in Dortmunder, Germany and Fred, a barleywine. Now, on to those HOTD beers that make my eyes pop out of my skull when I see them in bottles and, the unthinkable, on tap. Fred from the wood is aged to perfection, Doggie Claws, a heavy, flavorful, seasonal barleywine and B.O.B (my personal favorite and a rarity that is not bottled to my knowledge) a lambic style beer aged in wine barrels.
HOTD is a highly respected brewery. All of their beers are easy to drink, entice your taste buds and encourage a greater love of beer. These are the reasons why we LOVE this brewery.
This week we celebrated the food, beer and culture of Brussels the capital of Belgium (well The City of Brussels is the actual capital). Mussels cooked in a garlic, dry white wine broth with frites (thin strips of potatoes deep fried) is the most popular dish in the country. During and after our meal, we enjoyed three beers brewed in Brussels or the surrounding area. Please meet: Girardin Gueze 1882, Cantillon Kriek 100% Lambic and Hanssens Artisanaal Oude Gueuze.
The birth of Brussels is attributed to Duke Charles of Lower Lotharingia around 979. Damn that’s old! Charles went on to construct the first permanent fortification in the city. Originally, Brussels was a Dutch only speaking country. To date, the majority of residents speak French.
On to the next thing, our featured artist, surrealist Rene Magritte. Now, many amazing, prolific, talented, earth shattering artists are from Belgium. The majority of the most influential artists are from the Renaissance and Baroque periods (from 1300-1700). However, since Brussels is home to the largest collection of modern artist, Magritte’s artworks, this seemed quite fitting. His works frequently displays a juxtaposition of ordinary objects in an unusual context, giving new meanings to familiar things. His most popular work, The Treachery of Images, as seen above, is a picture of a pipe with a caption, in French which translates as “This pipe is not a pipe.” His point? It is not a pipe, it is a painting of a pipe.
Of course, we are all thrilled to be going to Belgium, to soak it all in and drink ALL of the beer. But tonight, tonight, we could barely sit still as we polished off 3 12oz beauties contained in green glass.
The Girardin Gueze 1882 was cracked first and accompanied our mussels and frites. Straight from the “cellar” this beer was served at approximately 50 degrees. In our opinion, the perfect temperature. The carbonation does not overpower the flavor, yet the sourness combined with the texture feels like pop rocks in your mouth. Smells like (not pop rocks) corn, hay and a sour, yet sweet fruit such as a pineapple. A sweet tartness greats your taste buds while an element of apple cider vinegar and pineapple leads the way to the back of your throat and the corners of your jaw line. This beer took a lot of tastes, independent thoughts and discussion to truly detect its qualities. An amazing beer that went perfectly with the wine based broth and saltiness of the mussels.
We decided to split up the two Guezes (although later to find they were distinctly different in smell and flavor) with a Lambic. Before we divulge the beer of choice, lets discuss the qualities of a Lambic styled beer. Lambics are traditionally brewed in the Pajottenland region of Belgium which is just southwest of Brussels. During the brewing process, Lambics are exposed to the wild yeasts and bacteria that are said to be native to the Senne valley. This exposure gives the beer its distinctive flavor which tends to be dry, cidery and sour. Cantillon Kriek 100% Lambic is brewed with cherries (krieks). Blood red in color with a slight transparency, this beer did in fact smell of dried cherries. The physical impact of this beer was unprecedented. There is a sour punch upon first sip then the effect immediately stings the corner of your jaws and dries your throat. This of course, leaves us wanting more and more.
Lastly, Hanssens Artisanaal Oude Gueuze from a brewery with a lot of history. Originally this brewery brewed a brown ale and a lambic. However, once World War I began, production ceased and never began again. From that point on and currently, Hanssens is a blend only establishment (making only Gueuzes). What a job, blending the great beers of Belgium. Once the beers are blended, they are bottle fermented in the brewery’s “caves”. This Gueuze smells like cured meats, pepper and pears. Interesting….the taste has a distinctive funkiness with a combination of malts in the background. It so interesting how the color and carbonation of this beer looks like your average American macro brewery but inside, the smells and the flavors are unique and complex, belonging to this one bottle and this bottle only.
Next week, we plan on waffles for dinner, beers from West Flanders and the cinema experience of “In Bruges”. So check back every week as we wind down the days until our trip to Belgium, Germany, Amsterdam and France!