I’ve had the opportunity to try some new (to me) beers lately. Here’s a quick rundown of what I tried (anyone who reads my twitter feed saw the long list of beers I had last night). Continue reading Tried Some New Beers
Recently, Rhode Island has seen a couple breweries pulling distribution out of the state. This happens somewhat regularly, but it’s interesting to look at the specific breweries that do it and their reasons for doing it. While my last post was about breweries being bought up by larger breweries/companies or merging with other small breweries, this one is going to take on those who remain independent, but are still growing in both popularity and brewing capacity. Continue reading Brewery Growing Pains
After our Sunday River trip, we headed down to Brunswick, ME for the night to visit The Lion’s Pride, the newest restaurant owned by Chris and Jen Lively of Ebenezer’s fame. If you like beer and you live in New England (or anywhere really) and you haven’t been to Ebenezer’s, you need to get there… NOW. Of course their hours during the winter are funny, being only open on the weekend, likely due to their seriously remote location. This is why we decided to go to The Lion’s Pride. They’re open every night of the week.
While Ebenezer’s has a small middle of nowhere pub feel to it, The Lion’s Pride has a more urbane feel. Aside from that difference, they’re very much the same. The staff at both restaurants are fantastic. The food is to die for. And the beer… it’s world class. They’re both known for their steak tips, using the same recipe at each and getting their beef from the same local farm. This is what I ordered. And, as expected, they were absolutely amazing. Whatever they use as a marinade is just mouth watering. Susan got the seafood scampi, which said it came with lobster, mussels, shrimp, and scallops. We weren’t expecting much in the way of big hunks of seafood, but on top of the huge mount of pasta was a huge mound of seafood, including a ton of lobster. I ate my whole meal, but Susan brought hers home. It fed both of us that second night. Prior to our meals, we were brought a small loaf of bread, which was amazing. I think it was a molasses oatmeal bread or something like that. I honestly don’t remember, but it was darker and very tasty.
Now the beer… being indecisive, we ordered a couple flights. They had a taplist of something like 25 different beers, all amazing. This made the choice difficult and the option of getting a flight much more attractive. Our first flight of six beers consisted of the following.
- Smuttynose G-Bock
- De Struise Pannepot
- Cuvee de Jacobins
- Dogfish Head Olde School Barleywine
- Biere de Boucanier
- Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted
The Smutty was a great beer, classified as a doppelbock. It was sweeter and quite tasty. Cuvee de Jacobins is a Flanders red ale (or a sour red). The difference is that it’s far more tart than most in the style. In fact, it bordered on being a lambic, in my opinion. Pannepot is a spiced Belgian ale, similar to a spiced quadrupel. It’s tasty, but not my favorite (though I’ve heard it’s excellent aged). The Olde School wasn’t as good as I had hoped. It was hoppier, but not hoppy. The malt profile seemed lacking. I expected more depth to the beer. Bitter and Twisted is a traditional English IPA. It was nice and malty with a touch of hops. It’s very easy drinking. Finally, Biere de Boucanier is a Belgian strong pale ale. I wasn’t overly impressed by it, but it was still good (I’m not the biggest Belgian pale ale fan).
Because there was still so much beer left on the list that I had to try, I ordered a partial flight when we finished the first. That one consisted of:
- Smuttynose Oak Aged Maibock
- Allagash Interlude
- Koningshoeven Quad
- Bayrischer Berlinerweiss
The Berlinerweiss was ordered straight up. In Germany, they’ll add a shot of flavor to it, like raspberry or apple. We wanted the pure unadulterated beer. It’s a very light, easy drinking wheat beer with a tart finish. It’s a very refreshing beer. I wasn’t impressed with the Quad, which was surprising as I enjoy it from the bottle. Perhaps the difference was being on tap. I actually have bottle of that in my basement from 2006 that I need to drink. I’ve heard that those bottles had something wrong with them, but I guess we’ll find out when I open it. Interlude is a different type of beer. I think Allagash was going for a saison, but ended up infecting it by accident the first time they made it. It gave the beer a slight hint of funky tartness. It’s an excellent beer as always. My favorite beer of the night, however, was the Oak Aged Maibock. I don’t know what kind of oak barrels Smuttynose used, but I was expecting a big bourbon flavor as with many oak aged beers. This one, however, was very different. The oak gave the beer a nutty maple flavor that I was not expecting. It tasted almost like maple walnut ice cream. It was a superb beer, and, as a big fan of everything maple, easily my favorite.
The waiter we had, Jon, was excellent. He brought us a complimentary glass of the Cuvee de Jacobins as dessert. He knew his beer, as did the other two people working there that night. I was very impressed by their beer expertise, though I shouldn’t have expected anything less. We chatted with them all for a bit before we left. Even though they closed up right after we left (at 9:30 pm), they weren’t in a rush to get us out of there.
Finally, I want to comment on the pricing. Our bill came out to almost $90 for our two meals and the two flights of beer. The way they do the flights is give you basically a half pour for half the price. They fill up large tasting glasses, which are probably about 5 or 6 ounces each. Our beer came out to just about $40, not including tip or the complimentary beer. My meal was the cheaper (I didn’t have lobster in it). Susan’s meal cost $27, but for the amount of food, especially the amount of high quality seafood, it was well worth the price. I am not one to enjoy spending a large amount of money going out to dinner. The food and beer at this place is well worth every penny. In fact, I would dare you to compare the quality of the food with any top quality restaurants in a major metropolitan area. The food matches the quality of some of the best restaurants here in Providence – a city known for it’s culinary masters.
I went to the GIBF this year for both sessions. While there seemed to be fewer booths at this one compared to the one last year (note: I did not go to the one in the spring), the quality of the breweries seemed to be a bit better. We had more smaller breweries present than in past years, though we also had some that weren’t present, most notably Smuttynose. I can’t help but wonder if their presence at Beervana had anything to do with them not coming to the GIBF. It’s probably a combination of that and the economy, considering the GIBF not only makes the breweries pay for a table but also donate the beer and their time. This is something that should not be done if you ever want to start a beer festival. Beervana, on the other hand, bought all the beer and simply requested that a brewer or brewery rep staff the tables. The breweries prefer this approach because they only have to donate their time. It also allows the festival organizers to hand pick the beers they are pouring at the festival.
Last year, I had only attended the afternoon session, which tends to be the quieter of the two sessions with more people who are really into the beer as opposed to people looking to pay $36 for an all you can drink party. I had heard some horror stories of the second session in the past. This time it seemed to be a bit more mellow. While there were a lot more people than the first session, and it was definitely crazier than the first session, there wasn’t a whole lot of screaming and chanting that I had expected. From an attendee’s standpoint, it seemed to go pretty smoothly, though they had a harder time forcing people out than we did at Beervana.
Some of my favorite brewery stops were Mayflower, Offshore, Gardner’s Ale House, Watch City Brewing, Blackstone Valley Brewing Supplies, and Ithaca. They all had a great selection of beer. Even the other breweries brought some unexpected beers. Victory, for example, had Wild Devil, Golden Monkey, Baltic Thunder, and Hop Wallop (in addition to Prima Pils). I was surprised they brought so many of their bigger beers. I would have expected Prima Pils and Hop Devil. I was surprised to see that Mayflower signed up for this as well. They hadn’t been there in the past. They even brought some of their Thanksgiving Ale with them, which was quite excellent. Even Providence’s own Trinity Brewhouse had four different whiskey barrel aged beers. So even though Heineken, Corona, and Presidente were all present, the quality of beer from the other breweries was much better than last year. Dogfish Head, whom I had heard would not be coming, ended up having a table (though without their RI rep). It was expected that they would only have 60 Minute IPA and a seasonal. They actually had 90 Minute IPA, Chicory Stout, Raison d’Etre, and Indian Brown Ale. While these aren’t their top offerings, they aren’t the usual suspects either.
All in all, it was a good fest. The layout was better, spacing the rows out a bit more, allowing for easier movement around the floor. They put the stage in the far corner this time rather than at the end of one of the rows of booths. This kept it a bit quieter, though they probably should have lowered the volume of the band and raised the volume for the award ceremony. Aside from that, it was great. I still don’t think it’s worth my money for admission, but if you want a decent introduction to some craft beer available in southern New England, it’s a pretty good place to familiarize yourself with it.
The other night we visited with some friends. I brought over a couple bottles of beer to share with them. One of those was a bottle of Dogfish Head Theobroma from the first batch. The beer had originally been a bit drier with the chili pepper coming through a bit more in the back. The aged version had changed quite a bit. The heat from the pepper had subsided, though was still there just enough to give you a slight tingle. The beer had sweetened up quite a bit. I remember when we first tried it, someone suggested that it wouldn’t be a good one to age. I disagree. It was nice and malty with a hint of cocoa and that slight tingle from the pepper. If you have some bottles of this, I suggest aging one or 2 of them. It’s a great beer and I thought it was even better aged. Susan did not like it at all when it was fresh, but she loved it aged. Of course, she doesn’t like peppers or spicy things, which would explain that.
In mid-November, I went to the Nikki’s Liquors beer dinner at Julian’s on Broadway in Providence. The beers were chosen by Mike from Nikki’s. I just wanted to write a little review of it, mainly because there were some interesting beers served.
First, in general, the beer dinner was a huge success. The pairings with the food were spot on (thanks to Mike the chef from Julian’s), the delivery of the courses and the beers were quicker than the last beer dinner I attended there (the Dogfish Head one over the summer). Finally, the pairings were better than those at the DFH dinner. They’ve done several since the DFH dinner. I imagine they got used to pairing with beer and were fixed any mistakes to streamline the process.
Now, the beers. The first beer was Traquair Jacobite. This was an excellent Scotch Ale with some nice dark fruit flavors that paired nicely with the cheese and raspberry starter plate. The second beer was Tripel Karmeliet, an awesome Belgian Tripel that went perfectly with the salad. The third pairing was a bit odd, but the beer is worth mentioning. It was Baron’s Black Wattle Superior Wattle Seed Ale. This beer is like nothing I’ve had before. It’s almost like a Brown Ale, but it’s not. The wattle seed comes from a tree in Australia. It gives the beer a nutty chocolate flavor. The beer is lighter in body, but big in flavor. If you see it, it’s a must try. It was paired with samosas, which were fantastic. The fourth dish was a choice as it was the entree. I got the Old Rasputin with the steak. The beer was on nitro-tap, giving it an awesome creamy mouthfeel that enhanced the beer a bit. The other option was Southern Tier Unearthly IPA with escolar. Dessert was my favorite part. We also had a choice. I got the De Dolle Oerbier Special Reserva 2006, which came with an orange cream tartlette. The beer was easily one of my favorite beers. It was funky and slightly sour with a nice fruity flavor. The other option was Oude Beersel’s Oude Kriek Vieille with a chocolate covered vanilla bean cheesecake. Finally, there was a finishing dish, which was a truffle paired with Xyauyù, a strong English style barleywine from an Italian brewery.
It was an excellent night of beer and food. The pours were small enough so no one got too drunk, unless they were ordering other beers in between courses, which some were. Julian’s is doing a stouts and porters beer dinner on Sunday, which I will be attending. I’ll write a review shortly after, rather than waiting a month.
I know I’ve written about Julian’s before, but I had to write about them again. Susan and I went there for dinner last week. We wanted to go for a walk, but didn’t want to cook. Julian’s had some healthy stuff on their summer menu, so we stopped in for dinner before going for a walk. Susan got the tuna steak (ew because it’s rare, though she likes that kind of thing) and I got their mussels special, which was awesome. Anyway, that’s not why I’m writing (though the food was excellent and certainly healthy). I’m writing because they had a freaking keg of freaking oak-aged freaking 120 Minute IPA on tap. Yeah… it was freaking awesome. Susan ordered it while I got the Avril, which was also on tap. That restaurant is full of surprises and totally worth your time. The Avril was fantastic on tap (often saisons are not very good on tap, but this one was) and the 120 was phenomenal, though I would have preferred it as a dessert beer because it was so sweet (it’s on the sweet side to begin with and the oak aging added a sweet vanilla note to it). So we got the beers with the highest ABV and the lowest ABV that night.
Go to Julian’s. Drink lots of good beer. Eat lots of awesome food.
Visit their MySpace page for updated food and drink/beer menus.
I’m continuing through my beer collection that’s too large at the moment. Last night and tonight were no different. Luckily, I have a lot of very refreshing beer, which is perfect for these ridiculously hot and humid summer nights.
Over the holiday weekend, I had a bunch of Festina Pêche. I believe I’ve written about that before. So to keep it short (and me somewhat dry), I’ll just say that it was a perfect BBQ beer. It’s refreshing, easy drinking, and well worth a try, even if you’re not into beer because it doesn’t taste like any beer you’ve ever had (unless you’re like me and are really into beer).
Last night I decided to crack open my bottle of Rock Art Jasmine Pale Ale. It sounded like a nice light beer, perfect for a hot day. I was right. It’s basically an amber ale brewed with jasmine. It’s got a nice light flavor with a little floweriness (if that’s even a word) and a nice herbal quality. It’s light, it’s not too sweet, but it hit the spot. I give it two thumbs up. Later on, I decided to try Dark and Stormy Night from Picaroons, the 5th beer from my trip to New Brunswick. The label calls it a dark wheat ale and describes it as a German dunkel crossed with an English ale, and that’s exactly what it was. It’s got a nice roasted quality with a nice wheaty/yeasty breadiness. There’s a hint of caramel as well. I was going to add it to Beer Advocate because it wasn’t there last I checked, but someone beat me to it. I reviewed it anyway. It was added as a dunkelweizen, though I was going to add it as an English brown ale because, to me, that’s what it tasted like (though the wheat and yeast obviously were what threw me off).
Tonight I started with Aprihop, which I have talked about here, but is one of my favorite summer beers (even though Dogfish Head releases it in the spring for some reason). It’s a nice fruity IPA with the apricots balancing off the hops bitterness. It’s very refreshing, even though it’s 7% ABV. With dinner, I had 1809 from Weihenstephaner, a Berliner Weissbier. It was absolutely awesome, though the first pour was a bit foamy. It pours a nice pale grassy yellow with a lot of effervescent bubbles. If I didn’t smell it, I would’ve called it a pilsener. However, I did smell it and it has a lot of sour notes to it. Basically, it’s a sour wheat beer, though quite refreshing and not quite as sour as a lambic. It’s very light and very drinkable, and absolutely perfect for a night like tonight with temps in the upper 80’s.
I need to get out of this room, it’s really hot in here (I should invest in another air conditioner for my home office).
As I previously posted, Sunday night was the Dogfish Head Beer Dinner at Julian’s on Broadway in Providence. We arrived a little before 6 and found a couple of Nikki’s regulars already there drinking. We went inside and waited for them to start (which we were told would be promptly at 6). We got our first beer, Festina Pêche and the first course, almond-mint pesto stuffed mission figs with pickled jalapeno pepper. The beer was pumped through the Randall, a device that’s basically just a pipe filled with stuff (usually hops), that had strawberries and oranges in it. It added a nice fruity dimension to an already awesome beer. The fruit served to balance some of the tartness. I was very impressed. It was served in Dogfish Head snifters which ended up being given back to us as a gift to take home at the end of the night.
The next course was a champagne-poached pear, preserved lemon, and baby arugula salad with celery root chips and a green tea vinagarette. It was served with Black & Blue. The salad was really good, though, obviously, the lemons were super sour. The root chips were awesome, as were the pears. I’m not normally a Black & Blue fan, but the beer paired perfectly with the salad.
The third course was cucumber stuffed curried sticky rice balls golden beet carpaccio, and curled jicima. This was paired with Chateau Jiahu, another beer I’m not overly crazy about, but was perfect with the appetizer. The rice balls were awesome. It’s a purple sticky rice, which I have only previously seen at Julian’s. The only thing I wish is that the curry was a bit more predominant as I couldn’t taste it at all.
There was a palate cleansing intermezzo course. For this, they gave us a ginger ice cream float made with 3 year old Pangaea with a ginger lace cookie. It was really good, but we all wanted to actually try the aged Pangaea on its own, so they gave everyone a small glass of it. I was impressed. I wasn’t overly crazy about this beer fresh when I tried it at Nikki’s the night before, but it was awesome aged.
The entree came next. We had a choice of brown sugar and soy marinated flank steak or seitan (a vegan steak) with pomegranate smashed carrots, herb dressed watercress, and meyer lemon coulis served with Immort Ale or pink peppercorn rubbed escolar with bruleed summer vegetables, butter braised frisee, and rhubarb Raison d’Etre reduction served with Palo Santo Marron. I chose the steak and Susan got the escolar (which we later found out can cause some not so fun digestive issues). They were both absolutely awesome and the pairings were spot on.
Finally, we had dessert. There was also a choice for this course. I had the vegan peach cheesecake with peanut butter drizzled over the top and raspberries served with World Wide Stout. Susan got the quince, which sounded better and was served with Raison d’Extra. My whole dessert was actually better, and while the pairing didn’t sound like it would work, it was perfect.
Brian, the bar manager at Julian’s, told us that they’ll be doing a beer dinner the last Sunday of every month. July’s will be a Belgian beer dinner. I haven’t made a reservation yet, but hopefully they’ll announce a menu soon and then I’ll make my reservation. It should be good.
I know it’s a little late, but this coming Sunday is a Dogfish Head beer dinner at Julian’s on Broadway in Providence. It’s sold out (which is why this is a little late). I imagine they’ll be open after it’s over and still have some great Dogfish Head beer on tap, like a keg of aged Pangaea, World Wide Stout, Raison d’Extra, Immort Ale, and Palo Santo Marron (among others). The menu looks to be pretty unique (as with everything at Julian’s and Dogfish Head). I’m looking forward to it and I will most definitely report back.
If you don’t have reservations and still want a great dining and beer experience, you must get over to Julian’s. They currently have some great beers on tap, including Left Hand Imperial Stout, Ommegang Hennepin, and Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale (which is not part of the beer dinner).