Beer Review Generator: Long Trail Harvest Vermont Maple Brown Ale

I poured one of these beautiful beers out to have with my dinner last night.

And then, instead of trying to piece together a literate, smart review of the reasons why I enjoyed this beer so much, I put my newly christened Beer Review Generator™ to work.

It’s going to use random choices from a series of lists to generate words beyond my own capability for expression.  The best part is that every time you refresh the page, you’ll get a brand new review.

Go ahead and give it a try!

“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.”

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Run, Relax, Refresh: The Preserve

Rose: Why do men chase women?

Johnny: Well, there's a Bible story... God... God took a rib from Adam and made Eve. Now maybe men chase women to get the rib back. When God took the rib, he left a big hole there, where there used to be something. And the women have that. Now maybe, just maybe, a man isn't complete as a man without a woman.

Rose: [frustrated] But why would a man need more than one woman?

Johnny: I don't know. Maybe because he fears death.

[Rose looks up, eyes wide, suspicions confirmed]

Rose: That's it! That's the reason!

Johnny: I don't know!

Rose: No! That's it! Thank you! Thank you for answering my question!

 

What does this fantastic scene from Moonstruck have to do with running?  Or beers?  Or any damn thing?

Let me explain, or, as Inigo Montoya said, “no, there is too much, let me sum up.”

Men run because they fear death.

Maybe.

I should speak for myself here, and not my entire gender.

I don’t fear death.  I recognize that it’s part of the circle of life.  I saw the Lion King.  You have to have someone die before they can hold the new cub up and sing “Nants ingonyama bagithi baba!”  (actual Zulu lyrics, I looked them up) and so on.  I get all that.

What I fear, instead, is a gradual, slow death, incapacitated by inactivity, lifeless, slumped over in a chair or a bed in some assisted living center, awake but not really awake.  Overweight, and achey, and struggling to haul my big old ass up off the couch or up a flight of steps.  I’ve seen too many other old folks go out that way.

I run because it restores a sense of vitality to my life.  I run because it’s a way to remind myself that despite my advancing years, I can stare mortality in the face, let the Reaper know that even though he will eventually catch me, that I’m laced up and ready to make him WORK to catch me.

So, having said that, let’s take a foot tour through one of the many fine neighborhoods in my town.

The Run:

Wednesdays are run club nights – my run club runs a (mostly) closed-to-traffic stretch of trails and city sidewalks marked off and known as the Creekwalk each Wednesday after work.  The full route is 5.5 miles, though some of it was closed for construction.  I modified the route today to shorten it up to a 5k (3.1 mile) route, as I have a marathon in a few days and didn’t want to overextend myself.  This is a nice meandering path around a few different parts of downtown Syracuse, including a loop around our interactive museum, the MOST.

Of the 26 minutes I was running, I had about a ten minute stretch to start where the sky was dry, though gradually “purpling,” and then a 15 minute downpour, followed by (of course) a let up just as my run ended.  Because that’s how these things go.  Likely, my pace picked up due to the heavy rain, as I was inclined to get my miles in and move on to the second portion of my trifecta.

The Relax:

Historically, the run club has started and ended our Wednesday runs at a cafe, chosen primarily due to its proximity to the Creekwalk and ample parking.

While pleasant in a general sense, and containing some outdoor seating, I don’t need coffee at 5:30 PM.  That’s a late hour for caffeine.  I generally have something more refreshing in mind that late in the day, especially after a 30 minute run.

So, wouldn’t we be a happy-as-heck run club to find out that a brand new pub/tavern was opening up right along our route?

Shiny and new and ready for visiting

The Preserve opened its doors officially earlier this month.  Our run club prez made arrangements with the place so they would set aside a table for us.

This place is really very pleasant and upscale.  I ran first and then headed in for a beer, and immediately felt like Rodney Dangerfield’s character from Caddyshack.

Cloth napkins?   Faux fireplaces?  People wearing pants?  I felt like some kind of fancy person.  Come on now.

They had a long, comfortable looking bar — so populated with people that I had to elbow my way in to look at the taps.

I’ll take one of those, please.

The bartender was pleasant in both appearance and disposition and she did that thing that girls do that makes me crazy.  She poured me a beer.  I love her!

The Refresh:

I had two beers today, the first of which was a nice, if not particularly memorable, IPA.  The second beer, however, was a revelation.

This bad boy, right here, the Good Nature Brewing American Brown Ale.

Ignore the branding on this pint glass

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am long partial to the brown ales.  The first post that I wrote for this blog, in fact, was a review of another brown ale.

Today’s beer was brought to me (via the Reserve) from the Good Nature Brewing Company, based out of nearby Hamilton, New York.  Their American Brown Ale (6.2% ABV, IBU 47) is described on the brewer’s web site, ITBMCBB*, as “rich with prominent chocolate & toffee notes. Dark & robust but smooth.”

I couldn’t agree more.

This thing had all kinds of depth of flavor.  I’m partial to most craft beers’ version of a brown ale, but this was hands down the best of all that I have had.  Sweet, and rich, and wonderful.

Perhaps I don’t have a sophisticated palette.  If you challenged me to find the notes, or hints, in this beer, I’d just look at you like you were growing extra heads, or make a joke about your mama’s mouth feel, or some other dumbass snarky wisecrack.

This is where I grow frustrated by my own lack of innate poetic talent.  (Yes, I do understand that prose, by definition, is a style of writing devoid of poetic flair, and that this is barleyprose.com, and, yet, I still strive to be more of a wordsmith here in this space, hence my desire to blog in the first place).

I’m going to work on a random beer superlatives phrase generator, that will pull from a few different sets of phrases to auto-magically build me poetic and beautiful descriptions of all the delicious beers I’m enjoying these days.  So, for now, imagine that the blanks are replaced by words and phrases suggested in parentheses.  Use technology to accomplish what my tired weeknight brain can’t do on its own.

“This beer tastes like what it would taste like if a _________ (real life occupation) made love to a _________  (creature from any ancient society’s mythology or folklore) in the middle of a ________ (uncommon vehicle or domicile), and then together raised a baby with their shared feelings of ________ (semi-appropriate emotion), and, finally, that baby cried _________ (positive adjective) tears of __________ (cold liquid) into a pint glass.”

This idea has real potential!

Until that tool is ready, go out and visit the Preserve, if you’re in town, or head out to Hamilton and grab a nut (brown ale!).

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Review: The Hops Spot

There two kinds of people in the world.  There are those who eat poutine, and those who do not.

(Author’s note: there are actually several other kinds of people in the world.)

What’s poutine, you say?  I’ll pretend you’re asking me that, semi-imaginary reader, strictly for purposes of moving this write up along, and not out of ignorance.

Poutine is a dish of french fries, mixed with cheese curds (known in some parts as “squeaky cheese”), and then topped with gravy.  The same kind of gravy you’d normally be ladling over stuffing and mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving, that is to say.

It looks like this, in its simplest and most delightful form.

Poutine!

Now, you might think that a person would have to travel to the great white north, AKA Canada (sometimes affectionately known as “America’s Hat” or “America Jr.”) to find a proper plate of poutine.

But if you thought that, you’d be wrong, and, possibly, oblivious.  I can forgive you.  Let’s not let it ruin this fantastic thing that we have going here.

No, the dish of poutine pictured above was served up right here in one of Syracuse’s newest eateries, The HopsSpot.

I visited this place with a few buddies recently and had me a big ol plate of poutine.  I washed it down with a couple of delightful beers from their excellent beer list, in another installment of my running “two beers, one lunch” motif.

The beer list can be found on their web site and when dining there in person, on paper menus (they run 4+ pages long), with over 40 choices of draft and can/bottle beer to choose from.

I started my day with a Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale.

Hair of the dog, ayuk nyuk

Those who’ve read this blog before will know that I have a penchant for a brown ale.  They speak to me, in fact, I can think of very few brown ales that I have not enjoyed.

There’s something comforting about them, smooth and inviting, like wearing my granddad’s sweater.  Except, in this case, I’m stuffing that sweater into a pint glass and then wrapping it around some poutine that’s landed in my gut.

This particular brown ale (6.5% ABV, 29.5 IBU) is particularly tasty.  The web site doesn’t provide the usual floral descriptions, or mention hints of any particular flavors, so I will describe it as being the resultant product of a love affair between a Canadian lumberjack and an Egyptian belly dancer, sprinkled liberally with pixie dust and magic brown slurpiness.

I moved on from the Dog to an IPA, this time going with the Troegs Independent Perpetual IPA (7.5% ABV, 85 IBU).  I do pick my drinks out often based on the “maximum punch” process, preferring higher ABV choices to lower ones and 16 oz. servings to the 10 oz “specialty” sizes.  So this bad boy fit the bill on both counts.

This IPA, ITBMCBB*, “emerges rife with sticky citrus rind, pine balm and tropical fruit.”  Now, pine balm would be a hard flavor to identify on my best days.  I have pine trees growing behind my house, though I’ve never balmed them or sought balm from them.

Nor can I claim to taste tropical fruit, or sticky citrus rind.

That doesn’t mean that it’s not still a fine, fine choice.  It’s hoppy, sure, but in a fun, delightful way, like when the neighbor’s kid gets too many pixie sticks in him and starts hopping up and down the street like he’s on a pogo.  You don’t care, it’s someone else’s child, let him get all hopped up.

The Hops Spot has a menu full of good looking choices – burgers, salads, and several other varieties of poutine, all of which I hope to sample in the upcoming weeks and months.   Not to mention another 38 or so beers, most of which are new to me (though I was pleased to see them carrying choices from the Buried Acorn on their list, among others).

For those not local to Syracuse, go out and find yourself some equivalent poutinerie (yes, that’s a real word, it’s on the Hops Spot web site after all) and dig in to this northern delicacy.

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Repost: A Tribute To A Coconut Brown Ale

This is a repost of a blog entry I wrote on BeerGraphs in 2013. 

 

Technically coconut fruit is a drupe, not a nut.  So brown ales with coconut are really fruit beers and not nut browns, but that’s just semantics and botany really.

Coconut is a flavor that many people will tell you they don’t like, although if pressed a lot of them will cite the texture. This is understandable, as a lot of times their initial exposure to the flavor is similar to mine; When I picked the unlucky chocolate out of a box of Russell Stover Candies. This wicked game of chocolate Russian roulette is not working with the highest quality ingredients to start with, and if you go in thinking you’re going to get a smooth milky chocolate it’s only going to make the surprise more jarring. Trying a Mounds or Almond Joy at Halloween is less surprising, but it’s still only the grainy and chewy form of the stuff. My mother would have one or two, but there were always a handful of the blue-wrapped candies destined for the trash in the remains of my Halloween bag when we found it months later.

I rarely gave it another thought. I’d made up my mind that I didn’t like coconut, and that was that. I passed over things with coconut in or on them, immediately assured it was something I didn’t like.

All that would change on October 16th, 2010. I’m a big believer of the old adage, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” When I’m in new places, I open my mind to the differences and try the local cuisine. It was an innocent enough night in Kona on the isle of Hawaii and me and my new wife were sitting at the bar at the Kona Brewing Company waiting for a table. I flipped open the menu to the one-off section where they had a couple of experimental beers, which is usually my favorite section of any beer menu. I read about one, a brown ale with toasted coconut called Coco Loco Toasted Coconut Brown Ale, and was intrigued before I finished reading the name. My mind was open to new flavors and Hawaiians do not shy away from coconut, unless it’s via a warning not to sit under a palm tree.

So I ordered it, and it was wonderful. It wasn’t a hint of coconut. It wasn’t a rich malty beverage with a lingering aftertaste. It was a full-on, in-your-face explosion of coconut. And it was delicious. The nutty sweetness of the coconut was the predominant taste and the beer enveloped it from there creating a rather tasty beverage.

When I returned to New Jersey I knew there was Kona beers around, but I also knew there was no chance they would have this specialty beer since it wasn’t even in bottles in Hawaii. As most people do when they return from the Hawaiian Islands I wallowed in nostalgia for a couple of weeks and missed my coconut beer and my Mauna Loa macadamia nut chocolate chip cookies. After that I got down to work researching homebrew recipes for a clone. I found some other homebrew threads talking about toasted coconut, and after a while I formulated a recipe and brewed my nostalgic brew.

To date it’s probably the best beer I’ve created. I’m clearly biased, but I’ve had independent confirmation of this by friends who have had most of my other creations including an odd, but not bad, root beer beer. I even rebranded it as a Mets-themed beer called Oliver Perez is Coco-Nutz. I just bottled another batch of it this past weekend.

Then the miraculous happened: Everyone else loved Kona’s beer as much as I did and they decided to both bottle it and add it to their Aloha Series, the one that gets distributed to the mainland along with Pipeland Porter, Wailua Wheat, Fire Rock Pale Ale and Longboard Lager.

Kona Brewing Company’s Koko Brown is deliciousness in a glass. It tastes like lounging on an island beach during a Luau entwined with stand-up paddleboarding on the blue waters. The aroma evokes a relaxing vacation bottled with the rich aroma of tropical paradise. Drinking this coconut delight brings images of gently flowing palm trees in a warm breeze and beautiful pink sunsets over giant ocean waves.

Koko Brown has a 3.68 rating with 2.26 BAR and 0.2 wOBAR. It’s a well-crafted malty beverage with a smooth coconut taste and a caramelly sweetness and just enough hop bitterness to keep it balanced. If you can’t find it, brew it.

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Review: Brooklyn Brown Ale

Well, let’s get one thing clear, right out of the gate.

And if we can’t agree to this basic premise, then, well, I’d suggest you go off in search of a blog about knitting, or dressing up tiny dogs to look like celebrities, or dressing up stuffed animals to look like tiny dogs.

The premise is: beer is delicious.

Having said that, I am privileged enough to live near a Wegmans.  And one of the great joys of Wegmans is the “Craft Your Own Six Pack.”  For $10.99, a shopper can choose from over one hundred various porters, stouts, sours, ales, lagers, IPAs, hard lemonades and ciders, and so on, and get six new beers to try.  Many of my reviews will be obtained in this fashion.

(And, don’t tell anyone, but, theoretically, a shopper could just grab a beer from a united four/six pack and place it gently in their own “crafted six pack” and add to their possible choices.  I wouldn’t do that, due to the Judeo-Christian ethic and Big Brother and such.)

So, a number of the Brooklyn Brewery beers are available and made available via this fine program.  This is how I came across the Brooklyn Brown Ale.

This ale, if the brewmasters can be believed, (or ITBMCBB for short, as I intend to use this acronym again, hey, Ceetar, let’s get a glossary going!), is a “blend of six malts, some of them roasted, [that] give this beer its deep russet-brown color and complex malt flavor, fruity, smooth and rich, with a caramel, chocolate and coffee background.”

Now, that’s just fancy brewer speak, to me.  I can tell you is that it’s dark brown and sweet and delicious.  I tend to pair this with beef dishes, when serving it up at the ol’ KilgoreStout residence.

I would describe this as what it would taste like if you were to make out with a unicorn that ate nothing but pancakes and maple syrup.

Perhaps the greater joy is that a six pack of these beauties goes for just $8.99 at my local food jobber, a good $2 less than the sampler sixer.  Which means that, when I am pressed for time or energy and don’t feel like I can find six new, interesting beers to try, I’ll grab a 6 of this and a six pack of another Brooklyn Brewery beer, one that pairs better with fish and chicken, and which I shall review at another time.

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