It’s the day with the least amount of sunlight, or as they say, the darkest day of the year. With apologies to the southern hemisphere, let’s talk about some of the darkest beers we should be drinking on this dark day.
I’ve mentioned Brooklyn Black Ops before, specifically in the solstice post from 2018, but it’s still an amazing beer. This year, Brooklyn has released Black Ops in 16oz cans, and a Four Roses Small Batch version, which is what I purchased. This beer is just superb all around. It’s smooth and rich and just freaking EXPLODING with flavor. Chocolate and some coffee and rich bourbon and roasty notes. It blows my mind how smooth it is too, beers that come in at 12.4% ABV usually burn a little, especially when they haven’t been aged. And this beer is dark for sure, but keep in mind that drinking 16oz of 12.4% beer is roughly equivalent to four Bud Lights.
Next up we have this fun beer from Tree House, Cafe Kola, that I purchased back in the summer when I was in Cape Cod. This is another rich imperial stout. Kola is Tree House’s coffee liqueur, which I have not tried, and this beer is meant as a complement to that. It is ALSO quite dark, though the ABV on this one is slightly lower at 10%, and comes in a 12oz bottle. There’s actual coffee in this one, so it gives it a lot more bitter/roast notes that just balance out everything else so nicely. Complex, chocolatey, delicious and not too sweet. I’d have welcomed another one of these.
We’ll be talking about the Darkest Beer for Darkest Days thing when we record the podcast tonight, so stay tuned for that. Will we compare it to the Mets Black Jerseys? Only time will tell.
SRM isn’t a great measurement, though it suffices for measuring how dark a beer is. One thing I like to do to assess is the next day, when I wash my dirty beer glass that had a dark beer in it, is to fill it up with water and see how dark the residue makes it. This Cafe Kola water is darker than many a beer.
Ceetar can be found onTwitter andUntappd where he’s probably baking too many cookies. You can also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
<video removed for errors wtih rss errors>
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.
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.
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!
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.
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).
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
Why shouldn’t the Winter Solstice be a beer holiday for drinking DARK beers?
The winter solstice. Not typically a beer holiday, if any day can truly be said to NOT be a beer holiday. The darkest day of the year. If we’re going to make it a holiday, we shall make it a holiday where you drink the darkest beer you can find. The most common, at least in America, way to measure beer color is SRM. Standard Reference Method is officially calculated by shining light through beer, though most breweries are using approximations based on ingredients. It’s maybe not the best way to measure color or really describe a beer, but it’s a fine measure to talk about the DARKEST BEER.
Official style guides, even for the darkest stouts and porters, don’t go beyond about 39-40, but if you add more color-adding malts, you’ll raise the SRM. Officially there’s a top bounds–once light stops penetrating, you can’t measure it anymore. That doesn’t stop breweries from listing it though.
Uinta used to make a big black ale called Labyrinth, that was listed at 184 SRM. The Dutch brewery De Molen make a few really dark imperial stouts, Hel & Verdoemenis, and Hemel & Aarde that come in at ~150 and ~174 respectively. These beers translate to Hell and Damnation, and Heaven and Earth–great names. The bottles say ‘Enjoy within 25 years’ which is longer than most US breweries have even existed. I’d love to try them one day. I did spent two and a half days in Amsterdam back in 2012, but De Molen wasn’t one of the places I hit.
Carton Brewing in New Jersey seems to aim for 42 as the SRM on their dark beers. A nice Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy nod is always appreciated. Perhaps the ultimate question to life, the universe, and everything is ‘How many beers are you going to have tonight?”
De Molen went all hellfire and damnation with their naming schema, and certainly extremely dark beers lend themselves to some fun and creative names. I appreciate a good hop pun as much as the next guy, but you can’t beat the imagery some of these dark beer names describe.
Brooklyn Brewery absolutely doesn’t make a beer called Black Ops, which is definitely not a bourbon barrel aged stout. There is no intel on this, especially not SRM, as it doesn’t officially exist. Shh. This is actually one I’ve had before, and definitely enjoyed immensely. It’s in a bomber, and is somewhat expensive, but I can’t help but notice that a bomber seems to be the perfect size for a christmas stocking. Someone forward this to my wife Santa Claus.
Gun Hill Brewery in the Bronx makes a beer with the name, Void of Light, which is practically an SRM measurement right there in the name.
Kane Brewery in New Jersey has a seasonal release, with many variants, called A Night To End All Dawns. This might be my favorite beer name ever and my only regret is this is extremely hard to get. I’ve had a few of them on tap at events around this time of year, and was really digging a cocoa variant I had a few years ago. To double down on the awesome name, they make a small beer from the second runnings of ANTEAD called Civil Twilight. You can think of second runnings much like running a second cup of coffee through the coffee grinds, if you used an extreme amount of coffee grinds for the first cup. Civil Twilight comes in at a respectable 37 SRM, which certainly suggests the original is much, much darker.
There’s Great Lakes Blackout Stout.
“Turn off the lights and turn on the flavor, because Blackout Stout is back and as dark as ever”
Inspired by the big 2003 blackout in the Northeast, this is a really solid stout year after year. Nothing fancy, just rich dark and roasty malts. I just purchased one of these myself, though I didn’t experience much of that blackout myself. Oddly enough, I was in Amish Country in Pennsylvania, a place not particularly known for electricity. It wasn’t until we started driving home that night that we crossed into cell range and got all the messages from family telling us to extend our vacation, which we did. We stayed in a hotel in Allentown, PA just outside the edge of the blackout, played mini golf, and went to bed with the air conditioning blasting.
Those Dutch beers are probably the darkest beers in the world, but to the human eye there’s probably not a perceivable difference between any of these black as night beers we so enjoy this time of year. It’s the darkest day of the year, crack open a beer to match.
Time for another installment of Run, Relax, Refresh, where our intrepid blogger combines a post-workday run with a stop at one of Syracuse’s fine local craft brewing establishments.
This day’s journey took me along route 11 in North Syracuse, New York, to some residential side streets, and then spat me back out along the narrow shoulder of Taft Road, plus a couple of detours tacked on to get me to the 30 minute mark (my normal weekday exercise goal).
The route 11 portion of this run wasn’t bad, thanks to there being a sidewalk available set safely away from the road. I was able to run past some of the town’s more quirky local businesses, such as Earthbound Metaphysical. I was hoping that this was a “Ray’s Occult Books” style shop of necromancy and paranormal resources, though it turns out they just sell fancy coffees and tees.
When I realized my route as originally designed was going to clock in at around 2.75 miles, I decided to tack on a couple of small detours. One was to run down the access road at Hinerwadels, a famous local clambake joint that has sadly closed their doors this year (luckily, their gravel driveway remained accessible). I also detoured over to the local junior high school and added a quarter mile by running a lap on their local track. These both had the added benefit of getting me off of Taft Road, where the shoulder is about as wide as Kate Moss’ torso.
The intermediate roads on this route, through residential North Syracuse neighborhoods, did have a nice display of foliage out for enjoyment.
A good workout, overall, not the most scenic path I ever traversed, but it conveniently started and ended at the Full Boar Brewery and Tap Room.
This awesome little joint opened in 2016 in a local shopping plaza — always a plus, ensuring that there’s plenty of parking and that it’s not too conspicuous to leave my vehicle in front for 30 minutes without shopping, while I get my run in.
This place has a lot to offer, first off — each table has a caddy of individual sized snacks, chips and pretzels.
I personally went with the Dipsy Doodles, which are like Sun Chips’ sexy naked cousin in the snack world.
Lots of comfortable seating abound as well as snappy decorations, as you can see.
But now, let’s remember, this isn’t an HGTV decorating show. I’m not here to comment on the feng shui, I’m here to partake.
They have a great selection of brews, of all colors and flavors. Not to mention these tricked out growlers converted into hanging lights (OK WE GET IT DECORATOR-BOY).
I sampled the peanut butter and jelly flavored blonde, which was just a bit too odd, and then had a sour mango, which was a refreshing enough beer (though I prefer my sour mango beers to be sourer and mangoier).
The real star of this “triple R” was the chocolate peanut butter stout.
It seems all too appropriate to enjoy one of these beers on the week of Halloween. After a couple of days spent “borrowing” from my kids’ trick or treating haul, this stout was scratching me right where I itched (not in the sweaty runner crotch kind of itch, more of the emotional yearning sort of way). It’s basically a Reese’s peanut butter cup, only in beer form (which is candy for the liver).
As per the menu, this beer is a 6.6% ABV choice and ITBMCBB*, it’s “smooth and sweet with a deep roast flavor. Nice peanut butter nose balances well with the dark Chocolate.” At $5 for a 16 oz portion, it hits my wallet’s sweet tooth as well.
As for the flavor, well, it’s sweet without being “cloyingly sweet.” (Note: that phrase is borrowed from every single episode of the show Chopped ever to air on the Food Fatty network). And it’s a stout, with delicious roasted flavor. I enjoy many stouts and this one ranks very high on my list. Shout out to the great pint glasses that the Full Boar uses, too. That groove at the top is perfectly contoured to my fat beer loving lower lip.
The Prose-inator loved it too! No surprise there. How would you describe it, Prose-inator?
“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
I’m a man with many ideas. Some of them are more practical than others.
One idea I had recently was a line of greeting cards where every message, happy or sad, was followed by the phrase “ya jackass” or “ya big idiot.” Because the juxtaposition of emotions is, of course, wildly funny.
“Happy 25th Wedding Anniversary, Ya Jackass!”
“Condolences on your Family’s Loss, Ya Big Idiot.”
I’ll let the reader judge the value inherent in that concept.
Another idea I had was for a brewery to open here in Syracuse where I live, only, instead of being downtown, where parking is at a premium, and requiring more driving time to get to, instead, that brewery would open in the northern suburbs, perhaps even adjacent to one of my regular running routes, and serve up all kinds of delicious local beers.
Well, lo and behold, this second idea has come to pass! In the form of the brand new Buried Acorn Brewery and tap room. The tap room features “16 draft lines pouring Barrel-Aged mixed-fermentation sour Ales, classic and long-forgotten Farmhouse styles, as well as some monogamous hopped up offerings.”
Sixteen draft lines. That’s a respectable set of choices!
Open since July 13th, I meandered down to the new joint after work and after a humid four mile run, thirst buds locked and loaded for a sudsy replenishment. The initial beers available at the time (a few more have since been added) is shown below.
I decided to start my de-thirsting by ordering a pint of the Oatmeal Stout. They have both a regular and Nitro-charged version on tap; I went with the regular only because I failed to notice the Nitro until after my order was in.
The bartender was prompt and friendly and, of course, I love her! She gave me this! (Reasonably priced $5.50 pints, by the way, not too much of a crotch kick to the wallet…)
I have had a few other oatmeal stouts and they all speak to me. I’m an oatmeal guy, it’s one of my go to breakfasts, and the mellow sweetness of the other oatmeal stouts I have had (Ommegang’s, for one, and also a cappuccino oatmeal stout by the Blue Moon folks) have all been a treat.
I think of it as a “breakfast beer.” Not that I’m drinking beer with my breakfast, I mean, I have things to do! However, on nights where my family and I are having the ever popular “breakfast dinner,” scrambled eggs, pancakes, bacon, etc., then the oatmeal stout is a winning choice.
This particular oatmeal stout (5.5% ABV, 23 IBU) is excellent. Rich and creamy and cold and frothy. It also contains, ITBMCBB*, “notes of chocolate and coffee,” though, I mostly just taste the deliciousness. If it were any more oatmealy, I’d be topping this with maple syrup and a pat of butter.
I then moved on to the Alpha Bender IPA (7.3% ABV, 23 IBU).
It’s a golden, delightful treat, much like a Disney princess’ hair. This particular IPA is described by the Buried Acorn site itself as being full of “soft bitterness with ripe tropical fruit on the nose and a crisp dry finish. Crafted with NY State grown hops and barley while employing revolving hop editions from around the world.” Doesn’t that sound pleasant?
To me, and perhaps this is why I’m not writing copy for breweries full time, the IPA tastes like “what it must taste like if a mythical dragon pee’d a rejuvenative cold mythical magic dragon pee drink into a pint glass.”
The bar is also hosting other local brewery products on some of their 16 taps.
I am likely to try the Critz Farms Pig City Porter on my next visit, as I’ve had that one in cans before but not in draft, and know it to be a treat as well.
The Buried Acorn is also now selling cans of some of their beers, to go, as well as growlers. I’ve not ever purchased a growler of beer in my life but those branded ones are pretty slick.
The tap room itself is also a very pleasant joint in which to sit down and beer up. They have bar and table seating, and board games, and the service was prompt despite there being a good sized weekday crowd present.
And the chairs have a delightful “assfeel” to them.
I’m looking forward to returning to the Buried Acorn and sampling some of their newer choices (the Ghoster Blanc and Hot Whip were not ready at the time of my initial visit, but now show on the company’s web site).