A Game Of Thrones Beer Review: Take The Black Stout

A quick review of Take The Black Stout.

photo by Ceetar

I unintentionally paired Ommegang’s Take The Black Stout with some Game of Thrones Oreo cookies, which was a pretty nice pairing. Stout, chocolate, cookie, all good things.  I paired both with episode one of season eight.

This beer came out originally in June of 2013, it was the second beer in the series. I was still under some illusions to the idea of having them all.  I had a taste of this at a beer festival that same year, and ended up not drinking the bottle I had, until now.

I enjoyed it a lot more than I enjoyed most of the Game of Thrones beers from the earlier runs. The age definitely smoothed out the flavors, with the roasty malts really being intertwined with the star anise and the licorice. Those were a lot more muted than I suspect they were originally, they were an added twist of depth to the beer rather than hitting you in the face with what’s typically a rather strong flavor. Lots of chocolate flavors in there, that’s what really shone through to me. I drank this pretty warm, especially by the time I got through the bottle.

It’ll come to no surprise that Game of Thrones beers did pretty well on Untappd last night. Pictured below, a tweet from Untappd founder Greg Avola.

Two Beers, One Lunch: Back to the Hops Spot, Again, Some More

So, it’s been a while since I’ve posted a “Two Beers, One Lunch” post, and there’s actually a good reason for that.

In December of 2018 I changed employers.  My new job is located further from the downtown eateries, and, also, because I am newer and still learning, it’s a tougher situation to drink two beers and then go back for an afternoon at work without risk being branded as “unprofessional.”  Or “a big lush.”

But this past week, after taking my first turn in an on call rotation, I had accumulated enough hours worked to be able to take a half day on Friday, which meant lunch out followed by a trip home to nap.

This meant a prime opportunity to return to the Hops Spot.

You may recall, dear reader, my previous trips to the Hops Spot, saved for posterity here, and then also here, and finally, also here!

Yes, there’s a pattern.  This is my preferred spot to go grab some delicious grub while also having a couple of brews.  I’ve yet to have a bad meal there, and they routinely keep a list of 40+ beers on tap from all over the northeast U.S. of A.

This meal started out with the Fat Orange Cat Brew “All Cats are Gray in the Dark” white stout.  This is a brewing company based out of East Hampton, CT, and they make a fine ass beer right here.

Pictured in the background, in blur, is one of my regular two companions, whom I will refer to as “the Imbiber.”

Yes, you read that right. Stout.

 

I’ve never had a white stout before, but having recently enjoyed a black lager, and after a ringing endorsement of this drink by our server (who swore that if you drank it with your eyes closed you’d never know it wasn’t a dark beer in color), I took the plunge.

Magnificent!

Hints of coffee, chocolate and vanilla, as per the menu, and I could say that I wasn’t really feeling the vanilla, but I was all about the coffee and chocolate flavors here.  My other companion, “the Sampler,” used the word “witchcraft” to describe this concoction, light in color but dark in taste, and I agreed that that was the best way to describe it. You could legitimately close your eyes and imagine it going down as a dark, rich stout.

The meal?  Well, after a number of visits enjoying the classique poutine, this trip I went with the very Indian flavored Chicken Tikka Masala poutine.

This is some shit right here!

 

Made up of fries, chicken tikka masala (Indian spiced) curry style gravy, chicken, cheese curds and fresh cilantro, it scratched me right where I itch. No, not the butthole. What I mean by that is, no one else in my family enjoys Indian food. Therefore, I look for opportunities to indulge in that style of cooking where I can.

Next up, beer number two, and I went with the full pint here.  Because I had the afternoon off and was headed right to bed after this, I figured, why not?

This second beer was the Stoneyard Progressive Adult v1 sour farmhouse IPA.

Big and sour and magical, and featuring “the Sampler” in the background

 

This was another winner! The sour, ITBMCBB*, is described officially as a “juicy, sweet/tart IPA. Brewed with lactose, oats, natural peach and orange flavors, lots and lots of Citra hops, lactic acid. Mmmmmmm.”

I agree with each of these things! Noticed the peach flavor specifically, but honestly, it was just a refreshingly tart and tasty sour beer. I’d buy another one of these, for sure.

So, let’s review. What have we learned here today?

1. This blogger keeps going back to the Hops Spot to try new menu items and also pick fresh choices from an always changing selection of delicious beers!

2. This blogger has two companions, “the Imbiber” and “the Sampler,” who make for pleasant company and co-enjoyment of beers and poutine.

3. I’m just dreaming about Indian food while eating American fare with my family.

4. Sours and stouts are great! (OK, if you’ve read any of my other posts, you knew that already)

 

This Mets Fan Group Has It’s Own Beer At The Ballpark

Tasting the new United We Cheers beer from The 7 Line Army and MIkkeller NYC.

The 7 Line Army is an offshoot of the T-shirt company created by Darren Meenan that sells creative fan merchandise for Mets games. It’s a dedicated group of fans that have outings and tailgates at the park, and often travel to other parks as well, bringing a dedicated cheering section on the road is something that’s pretty neat, and something the ballplayers definitely notice and appreciate.

They recently teamed up with Mikkeller NYC, a brewery that’s actually attached to Citi Field, to create a special beer called United We Cheers, utilizing Mikkeller’s unique artwork style. It’s a 4.3% German Pilsner, which really makes it an excellent tailgating beer that’s pretty drinkable by most beer drinkers, perhaps even especially non-craft ones.

I stopped at Mikkeler before Opening Day and had a can of it. I also had a delicious Hill Farmstead IPA, but that’s not why we’re here.

The beer had that light sulfury smell many Pilsners do, and a bit of lightly warmed bread. The taste matched that well, crisp, a bit of light phenols from the hops and some of that sulfur taste from the water chemistry. The hop bitterness is present and accounted for, that spicy/peppery noble hop varieties that are typical of the style. It’s full flavored and not at all watery. If the hop varieties were different, you might even call it a session IPA, but noble hops are more crowd pleasing.

This is a beer I’d be happy to drink all day watching or playing sports. It’s a great drinking beer.

 

Old, Bad, Beer And Drinking It Anyway

I was in a unique situation recently; I’d saved a special bottle of beer and was looking forward to opening it–and I knew it wasn’t going to be good.

 

I was somewhat less aware of every ‘big’ beer or brand in 2010. There were a lot less of them of course, but there were still a ton, and unless you’re making an extraordinary effort, well, some slip your awareness.

 

Stone Brewery, like many people, noticed that the new millenium lent itself to dates like 1/1/1 , 2/2/2, etc. They started a series called Vertical Epic 2.2.2 that released on that date in 2002, nominally designed to age until 12.12.12. The craft beer movement, and Stone itself, was pretty tiny at the time, so the batch was pretty small, but each year everything got bigger.

 

I didn’t become aware of the series on the east coast until roughly two weeks after 10.10.10, which just so happens to be my wedding date. I don’t need to tell you that I bought a few bottles of a beer with a unique name and date released on the day of my wedding. This one was meant to age until 12.12.12, the culmination of the series. Taking advantage of the coincidental timing with the wine grape harvest, this beer is a Belgian Strong Ale with fresh Muscat, Gewurztraminer, and Sauvignon Blanc grapes.

Alewife Queens Stone Vertical Tasting Event, now a brewpub!
I believe this is 8-12 going right to left. 10.10.10 right in the middle.

The next question would typically be, “How did it taste?”, but that’s a tricky question. How did it taste in 2010? I honestly don’t recall. On 12.12.12 when me and my wife went to a Stone event in NYC? It was pretty good then, though mostly overpowered by some of the stronger, and older, beers in that lineup. I remember thinking it was very wine-y but still with malt, hops and yeast characters that defined it as a beer. That was a great event, Alewife had all but the very limited 02.02.02 on tap and we got a sample of all of them.

 

How did it taste on 2.10.19, exactly 100 months from 10.10.10? Less good. Perhaps even bad. It was basically flat, and tasted a lot like old white grape juice. The wine notes were prominent, with maybe even more sweetness from the malt with no bitterness. I drank a few ounces of it, but that was enough. Even nostalgia didn’t get me to finish it. Neither did my wife, nor either of my parents who tried it.

Even my Grandmother was willing to try the 10.10.10 for Christmas 2012.

I’ve written about accidentally aging beers before, and while I’d like to tell you I intentionally saved this one for the mathematically appropriate 100 months, it’s not true. I purchased three bottles–We had the first at Christmas time in 2012, tried the other one 2 years later when I noted ‘Not as good as two years ago’, and the third got packed away during a move and forgotten about until recently.

 

Your beers are probably at their best _right now_ so go drink them!

Ceetar, You Ignorant Slut (or, “Guinness is, in fact, the Perfect Beer”)

With all apologies to my esteemed coblogger, Ceetar, no, “Nugget Nectar” is not the perfect beer.

(Author’s note: Hat tip to, of course, SNL, for providing the inspiration for the title of this post.)

(Author’s additional note: I have not in fact ever tried a Nugget Nectar beer, so it is premature for me to not declare it to be the perfect beer, but I do hope to try one sometime in the near future.)

The perfect beer is, of course, a Guinness.

Not Guinness blonde, or extra stout, which are in fact fine choices.  I’m talking about the original Guinness Irish Dry Stout.

Let’s review.

Why is Guinness the perfect beer?

First of all, it’s the beer that got me off of the “yellow lager at the ballpark” mentality, and out into the great big world of beers that are out there, to see what else tastes different, and enjoyable.

Second of all, it’s available everywhere.  Lots of places have it on draft (more on this in a moment).  It’s generally pretty reasonably priced.

Third of all, it’s got a distinct flavor.  I’ve drank probably 200 different beers in the last two years, but if you put a blindfold on me and put a Guinness in front of me, I’d know it.

Fourth of all, it’s got just 125 calories per 12 oz serving.  Now, any respectable Guinness drinker is either getting a 16 oz pint at a bar or alternately popping open a 16 oz can at home, but, still, even at that ratio, you’re still getting far fewer calories from a Guinness than you are from most craft beers and IPAs.  While that may not matter to everyone, for those of us who are attentive to not being ginormous gastropods, every little bit counts.

Fifth of all, and perhaps best, when you get those beautiful 16 oz cans to drink at home (do not buy the bottles, while they taste like a Guinness, they don’t do this), and you crack one open, nitrogen from a “widget” is released, simulating the draft beers that are charged with nitrogen, and you get this fantastic and wonderful visual effect (forgive the shakiness here, I am squatting after a long day of work, exercise, drinking, etc.).  Not to mention, that very comparable draft beer taste and feel.

Last of all, and, maybe the best reason, Guinness is delicious.  Drink one, you’ll see.  You will feel like Arnold does in “Predator” when he gives the flamethrower battle cry from the trees.

Run, Relax, Refresh: Now and Later

Lest the reader think that the default state of the Barley Prose blogger is in full repose, drink in hand, perhaps being fanned by palm fronds or fed grapes by bikini clad servant girls, I’m here to inform you that there’s actually a very active side of the spectrum on the Barley Prose writing staff.

That’s right, it’s another installment of Run, Relax, Refresh!

Run!

First, the run. This is the very well known “Tipp Hill Shamrock Run” 4 mile race course.

This “spring” race (spring in quotes, because, in Syracuse, a March race usually features temperatures very un-springlike) is an annual tradition, being run for the 14th time in 2019, and most years attracting upwards of a couple of thousand runners. Getting people to come out and run a hilly four miles in weather best described as “balls-ass cold” is no small feat, but this historic neighborhood is just the draw to get people to shake off their late winter doldrums. There is live music along the course, people in wacky costumes, and tons of free booze (mimosas, Jameson, etc.) being handed out to the less speed-inclined. It’s a fine morning workout and I’ll be running it myself for the ninth consecutive year.

My local run club gets out on this course a couple of times each winter, with the cooperative efforts of local pubs, for a course preview followed by morning refreshment. Here we are.

Coffee? Uh, no, I’ll find something frothier

NOTE: many of the runners in my club opted for coffee and breakfast pizza post-run, not everyone is so inclined to cracking into a draft beer at 9:30 in the morning, but, then again, not all of them write for such a prestigious publication as the Barley Prose blog.

I held back a bit on pace, knowing that I had a 14 mile training run (technically a half marathon being raced at training pace, plus a 1 mile cooldown) on tap for the following morning. Plus it was my first day back after a week in Cancun and I was feeling the briskness of a Syracuse February morn.

Here’s my Strava of the course.  Because, of course, unless it shows up there, it almost certainly didn’t happen.

Relax!

We started and ended our run at the Now and Later Bottle Shop and Tap Room, placed conveniently right around mile 1.3 of the race course. This is a concept that I am a big fan of – while these folks don’t brew their own beers, they keep a well stocked set of beers on tap for convivial moments, such as after a group run for example.  The bar is complete with funky taps and a nice range of semi-local micro brews.

Choices! But, just you wait…

The other half of this facility is a place where the buyer can go select a four, six or twelve pack of a wide assortment of beers to take home with them. It’s a good concept, have one in the tap room and get more to go! They have a number of their choices stocked in the cooler adjacent to the bar. This is really the kind of wall I can get behind, politically and spiritually.

Wall of beers <sniff>
Refresh!

My beverage of choice this morning was the Kings Country Brewers’ Collective offering of a “Morbid Hour” Black Pilsner.

Bonus points for the glasses with the tap room name on them, for the forgetful sort

There’s a nice interview here with the folks at KCBC, a Brooklyn brewery located in Bushwick. Both the brewers and their clientele count themselves as fans of “metal” and brewed this beer specifically for a series on the “most metal breweries” and for a music and drinking fest entitled the “Decibel Metal and Beer Fest.” This beer, despite being called a pilsner, is in fact a black lager or “Schwarzbier,” but was named as a pilsner so as to be more appealing to the masses.

I enjoyed the crud out of this beer!  It was smooth and had a nice finish.  Dark, but not as heavy as a porter or a stout.  Not sure what it is about a dark beer, it could be that I started out as a Guinness man and the dark beers just all appeal to me.  I’ll be digging into this thought in an upcoming post.

As usual, I will let the prose-inator carry this post to the finish line…

“This beer tastes like what it would taste like if a

made love to a

in the middle of a

and then together raised a baby with their shared feelings of

and, finally, that baby cried

tears of

into a frosty pint glass.”

 

Nugget Nectar Is The Perfect Beer

I don’t there’s a better beer that I look forward to more than Troegs Nugget Nectar. Troegs lists it as an Imperial Amber, though styles have evolved since Nugget first came out. This is a hoppy beer, but one with plenty of malt character, specifically sweeter caramel notes. That balances the dry hops.

 

This beer is amazing. It’s as perfect a beer as I’ll ever taste, at least as far as my tastes go right now. It’s 7.5% which means it’s got some punch but it’s not gonna wreck your day to have a couple if that’s what the day calls for. It’s hoppy, and it’s that sticky resiny hop flavor that was in the first IPAs I really enjoyed. That stickiness really contributes to mouth feel and presents the other, piney and mango fruit flavors really well. There’s enough malt to balance the bitter and keep it from being too drying, and it all fits together in this perfect little burst of flavor with each sip.

 

It’s a brilliant bright orange color. It’s got a fluffy head. The logo art is terrific, that of a hand crushing giant hop cone, and to complement that the release events around the seasonal beer are called ‘First Squeeze’.

 

It comes out a few weeks after the holidays have ended, providing a perfect introduction to the new year. I worked through most of a 12-pack right away, with only one beer remaining that I both really want to drink and don’t want to be gone. This beer works in any situation, whether it’s with food or by itself. As the first beer or the 4th. With friends or when drinking alone.

 

It’s a little Nugget of perfection, and If someone really did make me choose a ‘desert island beer’ this would be on the short list.

 

Down With the Sickness

Sometimes, a fella has to put his beer glass down and take a little break.

Ideally, it’s a self regulated decision.  As in, whoa, you know, feels like time to dry out a bit, pull back on the reins, ease off the gas pedal, insert your favorite metaphor here for being less beered up all the time.  Maybe make that call before people are pulling you into a room and giving you the intervention drama, like on TV (a show that has car crash watchability for me personally).

Or, maybe, it’s a financial decision.  These delicious craft beers and porters and stouts and imperials all cost more than a draft of American lager that I was happy to slug down all of those years.  Maybe a break from drinking is just a way to replenish the bank account.  I can respect that.

Or, maybe, you’ve got something cooking like I do.

Incoming!

Bird flu.  SARS.  Asian swine flu.  Swamp fever.  Dengue.   (NOTE: I am not a medical professional).

Basically, life has sneezed AIDS into my mouth and now I’m hurting.

For the better part of the last six days I’ve felt more or less like the guy in “Jurassic Park” who gets eaten by the T-Rex when he’s sitting on the toilet.  Wet, panicky, hiding, on the bowl, waiting to die.  That’s my week.

Not really the recipe for finely crafted words about the merits of a certain sour cran concoction served up by the local watering hole, which has been calling me over an Instagram post since Friday.

Not really the recipe for a Flagship February post about Guinness, the beer that really put me on a road towards finding out what else there was to drink in the beer aisle that I was missing out on.

Not really the recipe for that “cross promotional” theme I had been cooking up in my head based on the recently enjoyed Harpoon Dunkin Porter – like, when do we get the Heinz Ketchup Red Ale?  The Oscar Meyer Dirty Dog Water Light Lager?  And so on…

Not really the recipe for my idea of tying quirky beers to odd folks in my neighborhood, like the whisper thin Asian teen at my local Wegmans who pushes carts back in to the store, and talks to himself loudly all day, or the lady at work who draws her eyebrows on asymmetrically and reminds me of Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson.

And, sure as sugar, not the recipe for drinking and appreciating beers!

So, in the interim, I shall sit here and suck on my ice water, and dream of better health and thirstier days, and the wherewithal to put it all down in new prose for this fine blog.

Moderatly Functional Alcoholism: My Year in Beer, 2018!

One of my favorite things about Spotify is their year-end “Spotify Wrapped”, a select summary of a user’s listening habits, the number of hours spent under the headphones and a breakdown of which styles and genres and buzzbands hooked us the deepest and hardest.  So apparently I listened to Wilco in 2018 for the equivalent of 2 straight days. Your bet your ass, I did! We spend (read: waste) so much time online and give so much personal information away on the internet, that it’s truly gross and weird how much I love such a tidy review of an entire year of my detailed activity with one company’s product.  I had no idea that Untappd used the data we freely allow them to mine to create a similar year-end summation until I read Ceetar’s My 2018 Beers in Review piece based on his Untapped “Year in Beer”.  So inspired by that, I cribbed his idea and decided to whip up a post detailing my own beer drinking in 2k18 and here’s what I learned, everybody:

I should drink less beer!

Ceets had said he reliably checks in about 98% of his beers and I do not, friends.  I check in only new beers and try to avoid repeats altogether, with a few exceptions.  Special or rare treats I’m lucky enough to get more than once (Modern Times offerings, for example) get the re-run treatment.  Same with Project Dank by La Cumbre, which is an ever-changing experimental IPA, but the name always remains the same. Beyond those special ones, if it’s a beer that’s clocked a previous check-in, this time it will be swallowed down in quiet anonymity. So while Ceetar reported 397 beers in 2018, this asshole over here counted 354 in new brews alone, with the memories of countless unreported repeat favorites relegated to history’s septic tank by way of the bottom of a stained and yellowed urinal.  Beer-drinking is glamorous!

Now to the numbers for the advanced beer-alytics amongst us:

341 unique beers enjoyed over 85 distinct styles at 112 different breweries.  If you adjust for park factor (a technical calculation based on how many of these beers were enjoyed under a tree in a park), my Value Over Replacement Drunkard (VORD) is a career best for me, and challenges some of the best beer-drinking seasons on record.  And if I continue at this pace, I could be a first-ballot (if insurance approves) liver replacement recipient!

Now back to the minutiae.  The repeat beer I checked in the most (all of 4 check-ins) was the Sucker Punch Double IPA, brewed by local heavyweights Boxing Bear Brewing Co., an outfit that collects medals like Michael Phelps.

While I drank American IPAs more than any other varietal (86 check-ins), the style I rated the most highly was the Imperial Stout – the average overall rating for this type of dark and boozy dream was rewarded with a handsome 4.17 rating by yours truly.  

Gun to my head, I think I would pick La Cumbre Brewing Company as my favorite beer maker in my home state of New Mexico, but the brewery I frequented the most was Bosque Brewing Company (37 check-ins!).  It’s our neighborhood watering hole and the clear favorite establishment of my girlfriend, who is basically like a made guy there.  Back in the day, we’d walk in and be carded like all the other Janes and Joes, but now they shake our hands and greet us with reverence like we’re mobsters who invested in their joint to clean all our dirty money.  It’s awesome.

Back to the thing.  Maybe the coolest part of the Untappd Year in Beer, though, is the map:

A cross-country motorsickle trip last fall afforded me the opportunity to taste beers in a few locations in the south and southeast that I wouldn’t otherwise buy.  I’m talking to you, Lonestar.

via the Barley Prose Instagram account

I found a few decent offerings up in Colorado, and Washington state was solid, but now I’m just getting super excited to drop pins all over my 2k19 map.

I’m hoping for another stop at SoCal suds mecca San Diego, but at the very top of the list is a summer vacation to France and Spain, and while we’re that close, we’re gonna shoot very had to jump the straight and visit Morocco.  The idea of setting foot on African soil is this huge, bucketlist-y goal fueled by curiosity, adventure and a desire to meet other people and experience their culture. 

BUT ALSO to buy a beer I’ve never heard of somewhere in Tangier, post a picture of it to brag that I’m at a cool place that you’re not, and then check-in that beer on another stupid app to share with a bunch of far-away strangers on my goddamn cell phone.  A sadly authentic human experience in 2019!

Thank you for reading this post.  Please consider connecting with us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Untapped, Snapchat, Tumblr, Tinder, Reddit, MySpace, Grindr, Friendster, Google+, and/or Christian Mingle (dot) com. Real-life conversations with real-life human beings are so completely overrated.

Beer Ice Cream in Brockport

Decided to take the team out for a team builder/happy hour, and to do that, what’s better than a darts tournament? We discovered a relatively new brewery/winery in town, just south of the Brockport campus: RG Brewery and Five Sons Winery.

The setting was fantastic; a small tasting room with a porch overlooking a large yard. (Hard to set the outdoor scene, as we were in the middle of a snowstorm at the time. Also, bonus: we were greeted at the door by a couple of friendly dogs.) The tasting room has a back door, which leads through the kitchen into the production facility, which features a wall of dartboards and made for a nice relaxed office outing.

The list of beers is small, but complete and varied enough; I tried their Dragon’s Breath Stout, which had a little more heat than I like in my beer. I’ve tried a few “hot” beers now, and as much as I like my food spicy, I don’t want that stuff in my drinks.

Their Hopperhead IPA and All America DIPA however, were much better. The Hopperhead actually had a little more bite than I expected – it’s listed at 125 IBUs.  The All America a little less, and it was definitely smoother.

Food is available as well. They have what can really be described as typical pub fare; burgers and quesadillas and whatnot, all fresh-made in their small kitchen in the back.

But what caught my eye was their ice cream! They use their own wine and beer to make fresh ice cream. And yes, it was snowing, but there was no way I was passing this up.

four single-serving cups of ice cream on a "beer flight" board
Beer ice cream from RG Brewery/Five Sons Winery

I tried a flight of four: the Scotch ale, an Apple Pie torte (which I believe was one of their wine offerings), a porter, and the Hopperhead. As anticipated, the apple one was the most traditional flavor. The porter didn’t seem to have much kick at all, and the bitterness of the Hopperhead overpowered any sweetness in the ice cream. But the Scotch ale ice cream was outstanding. Just enough kick, just enough sweetness.

All in all, a solid visit from me. Worth making a special trip? Probably if the weather is nice, yes, to sit outside on the porch. Looks like they’ve got some events planned, including an oyster night and a chocolate pairing night, coming in the next few weeks, so I’d anticipate keeping an eye on their site for future things that might make it worth a special trip.