Endless Horizon: An Enormously Satisfying Collaboration

“1234” by Feist currently has in excess of 101 million plays on Spotify (generating fistfuls of Canadian bucks in royalties, too, I hope).  It’s a simple song about an innocent love in the rear-view mirror, but it’s hard-coated in the sweetest of pop candy shells.  The song caramelized itself onto the brains of millions of listeners after it appeared in this eminently danceable iPod Nano commercial, and even if you maybe started to hit ‘skip’ on your brand new Nano after about the 40th time hearing it, there was still plenty of nourishing sustenance remaining on the rest of Leslie Feist’s acclaimed 2007 album The Reminder.

Take “The Park”. Set in an outdoor space in snow-covered London (complete with chirping birds filling the arrangement), this is a crushingly sad song about a relationship that couldn’t endure the harsh darkness of winter and it withered and died.  A thematic line could be drawn from “1234” to the “The Park” but the emotions dripping from each song couldn’t be more disparate.  

The album is chock-full of gems, including another fav of mine, “The Limit to Your Love”, a tender piano ballad about unrequited love with an emotionally unavailable partner that got ripped into this dark, soulful jam by James Blake (I love when he sings “like a wat-uh-fall in slow motion!”). So many good songs!  Anyway, it’s no wonder the New York Times’ Kalefa Sanneh named The Reminder the number uno album for all of 2k9.

So when Feist teamed up with my favorite band in the whole goddamn universe, Wilco, on 2009’s “You and I” off of Wilco [the album], well I was beyond ecstatic that two of my beloveds were joining forces, even if it was for just three minutes and twenty-five perfect seconds, to create something that bottled each of their best in one collaborative mini-miracle.  

~~~

Surf days back at Bolsa Chica State Beach used to conclude with lunch at the OG Beachwood BBQ in Seal Beach, and when they opened the larger Beachwood BBQ and Brewing spot in downtown Long Beach, well the best brewery (and fried green tomato sandwich) in town was now just a bicycle ride away from my Belmont Shore apartment.  Countless evenings having pints of Amalgamator IPA, Udder Love Milk Stout, and the James Brown Ale are some of my fondest memories of gritty and gorgeous Long Beach.

So as a native New Mexican who called the LBC home for 16 years but is once again a Burqueño, a collaboration featuring Beachwood Brewing from Long Beach and Albuquerque’s own La Cumbre was, for me, like Wilco and Feist getting together one more time, but to make beer.  I would have let TicketMaster gouge me for $65 bucks plus applicable ‘convenience’ fees to watch these guys brew live and in person.

For me, when I hear “tropical”, it evokes images of palm trees and maybe even Long Beach’s vocal, wild parrots, but a tropical stout is still the dark, roasty stout we know and love, but with a subtle charge of sweet and sometimes fruity esters.  The Endless Horizon tropical stout (to this shitty, novice palate anyway) is mostly the former – shadowy, rich and roasty with coffee on the nose, but I do get a slight nectar on the back end, which triggers “tropical” and evokes memories of those beautiful green parrots making all that racket above the Vons on Ocean Boulevard.

Long Beach’s wild parrots. Photo: lbhomeliving.com

The Endless Horizon poured slow and thick like all the crude (what up, Belmont Brewing) being sucked from the ground by the steady, synchronized Long beach oil derricks bobbing for unrefined black gold.  The head was frothy and thick and conjures a crumbly wave on a blown-out Bolsa Chica afternoon.  This beer is a very drinkable late summer stout but also says to the now arriving autumn, “Hey, where ya been? We’ve been waiting for you.”

New Mexico + Long Beach = AMOR POR VIDA

Endless Horizon is still available in 4-packs at La Cumbre.  Get it before the sun dips and the horizon is no more.

 

You and I, we might be strangers

However close we get sometimes

It’s like we never met

But you and I, I think we can take it

All the good with the bad

Make something that no one else has

~~~

Post-script: I got to see Feist perform “You and I” live with Wilco in LA in June, 2009. I couldn’t find a video of that particular show online, but it was probably something like this minus dear ol’ Dave.

~~~

 

Hoppy Gilmore is a lover of buzzbands and beers.  Engage with him if pics of doggos and hot USL soccer takes are also your thing.

Instagram: @1.21gigawattts 

Twitter: @chingonrecords 

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An Imprecise Beer Journey in Europe

Brand IPA, Den Haag

Because I’m as much a sucker for a three-minute punch of guitar rock and harmony as a I am for a cold beer, I occasionally find myself visiting a blog site called Powerpopaholic to discover new music. The guy there ostensibly “reviews” singles and albums in the Power Pop genre on a scale of 10 but because he likes power pop, and the stuff he reviews has already met the conditions of the type of music he likes before he’s listened to it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him give a review of less than 7—it’s all 8s and 9s over there. It’s either really great, or really good.

It’s a Trappe!

I’m guilty of the same with beer. At the urging of a friend several years back I downloaded the Untappd app allowing you to “check in” every time you have a beer, photograph it, indicate where you bought it, who you drank it with, and share that info with your beer-enthusiast followers (and surely some back-end AI delivering data to ad generators and marketed to taverns and brewers). Everything is a social network today. We do things only to get credit for having done it, and wind up with personalized encouragement to do it more. By the way I have only 24 “friends” on that app. For God’s sake please follow me (springer66).

I don’t use Untappd to record every beer I have. Wait, you had 4 Budweisers, in an hour, in your backyard? Not telling. What I think it can be useful for is to track variety—both in the beers I try and the places I try them. That’s the best kind of beer anyway: evocative of the moment you drank it, the places you were, and the good times associated with it. That’s another reason my reviews of them can’t be trusted: If I feel good enough to tell the world, or at least 24 people, that I just drank a particular beer, I probably also liked it.

Super 8 Primus in Brussels

So when my friend Ceetar asked me to write about the beers I had on a recent trip to France, Brussels and the Netherlands on his excellent blog, I was hesitant in the sense that if you want to know anything particularly technical about the beers I had there, you’re following the wrong guy: my reviews are pretty much worthless. According to Untappd, over the 16 days I spent in Europe I had 10 different beers in 10 different cities—which between us is a huge motherf-ing lie—and all of them, according to me, scored a rating between 3.75 and 4.25. They were all good! But to the extent variety, experience and unique places count, I have a story to tell.

France: We Drank Some Beer Here

We (me, my wife and 13-year-old son) left our Brooklyn home on Friday August 16, arriving in Paris the following Saturday afternoon.

Some beer in Paris.

I actually don’t have a lot to say about Paris, beer wise. For one thing, I figured there I’d do what the locals do and drink wine with our meals; for another, I wasn’t much using the phone then and so didn’t actually Untappd the beers I had there. Beyond all that, we discovered France is basically closed for business in August and it was only us tourists there anyway. I’m not joking: most of the shops were closed, and a plumber to fix a malfunctioning toilet in our hotel room wasn’t even available for two days. That’s a good way to thrust oneself into local culture and a foreign tongue: puis-je utiliser vos toilettes?

Get us to Belgium

We had some enjoyable beers there at cafes, though the only brand I remember was the ubiquitous Budweiser of France, Kronenbourg 1664. I can recall being hopeful that this Continental export lager would somehow reveal itself to be something special when consumed locally, as we’d experienced with the impossibly fresh and delicious lagers we drank when we visited Germany five years before, but it wasn’t really the case.

The only other beer I recall having in France, thanks to this photo we took on the luxurious Thalys train, wasn’t a homeland beer, but one originating from our next stop on the trip.

A Great Place to Drink Beer and Pole Vault

Belgium. It’s a totally underrated country. About all I knew about Belgium before we arrived came from war movies where it’s always cold and desolate with Germans shooting at you. I also knew a girl from Belgium once, and she dressed drably–not that I wouldn’t have given her the exact same impression about Americans.

But Belgium in fact was lively, fun, safe and attractive, and the weather was gorgeous: Bright blue skies, never too hot. We also had a ton of delicious beers here that highlighted both Belgium’s great tradition of brewing and also, influences from the craft movement that we hadn’t seen much of in Germany or in France.

L’Ermitage Californication: Terrific post-sightseeing beer that also glows in the dark.
For mussels in Brussels

Brussels is a gorgeous old city, plenty to do and see; not completely overwhelmed with tourists and just large enough to explore by foot. We did a little research to find where we might experience good beer and found a fantastic bar called Moeder Lambic just in time for a sun-soaked happy hour after a long day of sightseeing. Here, I had a super fresh Californication double IPA from Brussels’ L’Emeritage brewery that was dynamite. Afterwards we hiked on a restaurant called In’t Spinnekopke where I asked our waiter to recommend something to accompany our mussels and out came a bottle of Wikap Pater Stimulo, a mellow Belgian pale ale with a very cute logo.

Brewdog: Nice beer but we didn’t need to travel 3,600 miles for it

Just outside of the central train station plaza in Brussels you’ll find a symbol of craft beer’s growing globalization—an outlet of the Brewdog franchise that grew from the Scottish beer bros who established a brand through a reality TV show. Very nice hangout for the after-work crowd, and a convenient meet-up space where our friend Otto trained in and joined us. Long story, but my wife’s parents were friends with Otto’s folks through work and many years ago, she spent a summer babysitting a then-young Otto and his brother in their home in the Netherlands. Grown-up Otto lives in Belgium now and after our happy hour (your standard Brewdog lineup that were just fine but I can I also can now find in my local C-Town supermarket), the four of us hiked to a Brussels restaurant where we ate pork products and enjoyed the less widely-distributed Karmeliet Tripel, a fruity distinct Belgian style ale that really reminded me I was in Europe.

Enjoy with pork products
You heet the Canadian

Inspired by what I’d seen in the movie, we spent the following day “In Bruges” which just as depicted in the film was a fairy-tale like old city inhabited nearly entirely by tourists. Like American elephants we climbed to top of the bell tower where Brendan Gleason had his ultimate misadventure, had one of our better meals, and popped in a pub to down the brightly shining locally brewed Brugse Zot IPA. I spent most of the day quoting the film: “Back off, Shorty.” “You heet the Canadian.” Etc. Good times.

The original microbrewery, now at your local German discounter.

The next day we traveled by train to Lueven to meet Otto at his place there. Lueven is beautiful old college town that you probably know as the home city of the Stella Artois brewery, which has a giant facility along the highway and rail tracks. We checked out surrounding abbeys where for hundreds of years monks were the original microbrewers. One of these abbeys, maybe it the one pictured here but not certain, got out of the beer business some years back when it sold the recipe for its brew to the no-frills German supermarket operator Aldi. Aldi you may know is a vertically integrated retailer famous for its German efficiency– coin-released shopping carts, cashiers who also stock and sweep floors, and low priced, indifferently merchandised but high-standard food. If you buy their abbey-style beer thinking it’s some knockoff, know this: it actually originated here in the 16th century.

Pole-vaulting in Lueven

Lueven’s historic downtown is lined with streetside cafes fronting stunning old buildings on cobblestone streets, lots of students, and a lively town square where, on a Saturday evening, there was a rock-and-roll pole-vaulting contest going on. We grabbed some chairs, and drank strong Belgian ales (the rich, reddish La Trappe Quadrupel) while eating fried food and watching athletes from all over the world launch themselves 20 feet in the air for our amusement. A truly insane and magical evening.

Me, the Boy, Otto and the Wife. Fun times in Lueven.

A Great Place to Drink Beer and Ride Bikes

From Lueven we continued north into the warm, watery and flat Netherlands, and the tiny North Sea beach town of Petten, were Otto’s parents have a summer residence where we set up for most of the next week. Germans love the Netherlands beaches, filling “camping” fields all around with closely-packed caravans along the dikes and on one evening, whooping it up in a town-square festival complete with an Abba cover band and Amstel on tap.

Hertog Jan from the supermarket

In Petten we mainly drank beers from the local supermarkets—Amstel, the lager which you may know is not marketed as “light” beer in its home country, and a pilsner called Hertog Jan. They were okay. We also used Petten as a home base from which we did day trips and stop-ins throughout North Holland—some by train, others by bike, visiting Haarlem, Alkmaar, Amsterdam, Zaandam, Rotterdam, Den Haag, Uitgeest (pronounced OW-kaste), and Den Helder (which is also the name of my new Van Halen cover band), among other places, having at least one beer in all of them. I’ll speed through here as this post is getting pretty lengthy already.

Ride like the wind

I rented a bike, and can’t say enough good things about the cycling infrastructure in the Netherlands. Almost all roads have separate bike lanes, including the highways, and cycle-specific signage that makes it almost impossible to get lost. I can’t ride more than 20 miles here in NYC without constantly consulting a map (and getting doored); in Holland I found my way around the entire country never having been there and without a clue as to the language. The lanes are all flat, proceed through beaches, farmlands and forests, and thanks to the wind, you can go pretty fast. If you like to cycle, go do it in the Netherlands.

Hoop and herring: A winning combination

I made several long rides, catching up once with the family at Zaanse Schans, the historic “old Dutch” neighborhood north of Amsterdam you see in the all tourist films and postcards.  Here I enjoyed the local roadside delicacy—a herring sandwich—and washed it down with a local micro IPA called Hoop Kaper.

Jopen one up in Haarlem.

In Haarlem, we had Jopen beers at lunch and later that afternoon, encountered its brewery—stunningly set in a restored church. That’s my Northsea IPA in the foreground ahead of Wifey’s beer, which I believe was a pilsner (can’t be sure of that), and the ever-present frites. Nice place!

Stunning brewery in an old church.
Cooled off with an ostrich in Amsterdam

In Amsterdam, we hung out with Rembrandt and Van Gogh, and fought off 90-degree heat with this Ijwit wheat beer in a super-cool bottle. The beer endorsed by an ostrich. Refreshing.

In Alkmaar, we visited the famous cheese market, gorging on very good gouda, saw a crazy Beatles museum, and tried this Punt IPA brewed in the far northern town of Groningen.

It’s goed.

Like many of the so-called IPAs we had here (the Hoop Kaper, the Brand we had in Den Haag) this beer wasn’t exactly what you’d consider an IPA here in the U.S., but they’re in the ballpark in the same way you might consider Rainbow’s “Since You Been Gone” a Power Pop song (it is, only one not by a brand-name power pop manufacturer). There are no doubt some Power Pop Cops and Pale Ale Police out there who might disagree, but like I said, it’s all good to me.

We spent our last night in a hotel in Den Haag, where bringing us full circle, the toilet malfunctioned. There was beer, and it was good. But it was time to fly home.

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Drinking Away A Lousy Situation

Lousy situations call for stronger beers. You can’t combat dealing with lice with a sessionable lager–break out the good stuff.

So far it looks like we only had the initial signs of an issue, and we’ve all been doused with medication and we washed clothes and towels and all that. Still, after that sort of panic and frantic washing, you can’t get away with sipping a gose, you need something with some heft.

Bring on Terrapin’s Wake-n-Bake.  Specifically Raspberry Truffle W-n-B, an imperial stout with coffee, oatmeal, cacao, and raspberry. Smooooooth. Delicious. There was almost no alcohol or stout burn to this, though it was sweet and thick and lovely.  You could tell it was strong, but it was so full flavored that it was all balanced nicely. What a great stout, what a great way to unwind.

Day 2, everything seems fine but we still have to comb and check and are wary about everything.  It’s still fresh on our mind. My hair still itches out of anxiety. Tequila. Tequila is definitely the way to go.  

I opened up my bottle of Founders Mas Agave, an imperial gose brewed with agave, lime and sea salt. Margarita, clearly. It certainly smelled like it. I’d had a bottle of a similar beer from The Alementary a few months ago called Escape From Oaxaca which was less sweet, and more tequila-flavored than this, but this one was still fun to drink. In fact, it may have been easier to drink, even if I preferred the taste of the other one.

It’s sweet, from the agave, so if sweet isn’t your thing probably avoid both these beers. Apparently my ‘comfort beer’ tastes veer into the trope of single lady downing ice cream after a breakup. Something I think tequila would also be appropriate for, though I have been known to say tequila gose (haha) with everything.

Anyhow, this beer tasted like a margarita, but a sweeter one. One heavy on the lime juice and sweetener. I personally would’ve enjoyed more barrel aging on it, more tequila taste. This was 10% and went down easy. The salt balances the sweetness nicely, keeps it from being cloying, much like it might do in a similar margarita, but really the tequila should be the showpiece in a cocktail, or a cocktail-themed beer.

Drinking beer does not kill lice, but it sure does make a lousy situation more manageable. Until next time, because #kids, cheers!

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Game Of Thrones Beer Review: Mother Of Dragons

I need to get this post up before we run out of dragons!

As far as I can tell, Daenerys Stormborn is not the mother of Stuffy, the flightless stuffed dragon from Doc McStuffins

 Inspired by Daenerys Targaryen, this blend of a smoked porter and a Belgian kriek represents the smoke and fire that Daenerys has unleashed on her opponents during her ascent to conquer and rule the seven kingdoms.  The beer will be available nationwide on September 28.

So it was only 7 months or so old when I had it, which shouldn’t have adversely affected it much. I didn’t get the heat from it I was expecting, and I was worried age had played a factor.

I still enjoyed the beer.  I do like smoked beers, I like porters, I like Kriek, so there was really no doubt I would enjoy this one. It’s just more Kriek than smoke. The cherry is present on the nose, with sweet dark malt underneath, and just a hint of that smoke.

There’s some red tinges to this

It tastes great. It was mouth watering cherry flavor, and not in that overly medicinal way. Needs more char. I need to feel like I’m drinking this in the ashes of something the dragons just burned down, but there’s merely a whisper. Dracarys, gimme more heat. This probably could’ve done with a bit of cinnamon or chili to complement the dragon theme.

ITBMCBB* this beer should be as follows.

Mother of Dragons pours a deep ruby-tinted mahogany with a creamy tan head. Aromas of chocolate covered cherries intertwine with subtle smoke and roasted malt. The flavor is rich with tart cherry up front leading to a center palate of semi-sweet chocolate then resolving to subtle smoke and mild sweetness. The mouthfeel is luxuriously creamy and full, and the finish is semi-dry with lingering notes of smoke and cherry sweetness. Mother of Dragons is 6.5% ABV and pairs well with smoked gouda and charcuterie, braised meats, and rich desserts like flourless chocolate cake and cherry cheese cake.

So I guess the subtle nature of the smoke is intentional, but they missed the mark imo. Those pairing make sense though. Does mozzarella and pepperoni in pizza form count among them? I’d say so, even if I wasn’t particularly taking note of how they complemented each other as I consumed them.

Overall this beer was pretty good, and I enjoyed it, but I wanted more from it. You might say the same about these last few episodes of the show as well.

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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)

 

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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.

 

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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

while listening to the Greatest Hits Album of the world’s greatest band, ever, that being of course

and then together raised a baby with their shared feelings of

and, finally, that baby cried

tears of

into a frosty pint glass.”

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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.

 

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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.

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Do You Even Crowler, Bro?

Until not that long ago, I would have assumed that if you mentioned a “crowler” in front of me, that you were just making up words.  I was not always the astute and seasoned blogger, admirer, criticizer and prose generating beer themed adult who sits here today.

I was just a boy, once.

Only the biggest bestest beers get to live in the Guinness glass

 

It turns out that a number of these new craft beer tasting/tap rooms are also willing to sell a beer to go. The standard size is the growler, a 64 oz. portion.

Now, sadly, I am the only one in my household who tends to lean back in the chair for a beer. Which means that a to go serving with the equivalent of four 16 oz. glasses of beer is just an awful lot for me to bring home.

As awesome as it is to have your own jug of beer. A jug!

I don’t own this but it’s nicer than most of the furniture in my house.

Well, this is where the crowler comes in.

The crowler is a 32 ounce serving of beer to go. This equates to two very tall, full pours into a 16 oz pint glass. My most prized piece of glassware, the Guinness glass, holds a bit more, making for a more comfortable drinking experience.

I am all about this! Two tall beers is a decent amount of drink, maybe it’s one with dinner and one later in the evening, or one while cooking and then the rest at the meal. It works either way.

This was the first crowler I ever purchased. It’s a rite of passage, for me, in a sense, in that it’s another step into a world of appreciation for the finer things. Like locally brewed and concocted beers and ales.

This crowler came courtesy of the fine folks at Full Boar Brewing in North Syracuse, New York. I have written about them before, in glowing phrases. They really do conjure up a great range of beers, from New England IPAs, to stouts and porters, American style pale ales, ambers, and so on.

This is their new “Imperial Cin,” an imperial oatmeal stout. This sucker clocks in at 10.7% ABV and 54 IBUs, and, IFBMCBB*, is “brewed with Cinnamon Sticks and Madagascar Vanilla Beans.” Fine choices, says I.

“Crowled” on December 21, in time for Festivus

I do drink a lot of stouts, so I figured I’d put on my researcher’s cap and determine what the difference is between a stout and an imperial stout. It turns out that in most modern cases, an imperial stout is just made in a fashion where the hops and malts are doubled or tripled during brewing, leading to higher alcohol content and more pronounced flavors.

This particular stout was delicious. I went in on a busy night just before Xmas and had a tiny sample of it to get a sense of the flavor, and then immediately decided to get a crowler to go.

This was, for me, my “gift wrapping” crowler, as I very deliberately knocked back two servings of it while wrapping all of the gifts that went under the tree for the family. A perfect mid-wrap quench, it was (they were).

Forgive the lateness of this post, our Xmas tree is now relegated to a big plastic bag due to January.

 

I will let the Prose-inator bring this one home. Happy crowlering, y’all!

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

made love to a

in the middle of a

while listening to the Greatest Hits Album of the world’s greatest band, ever, that being of course

and then together raised a baby with their shared feelings of

and, finally, that baby cried

tears of

into a frosty pint glass.”

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