Yeah, BISON!

Organic this.  Organic that.  Does organic make it better?  Dunno.  Don’t care  (this is A Beer New World’s official stance on the organic food movement.)  I’m glad I tried the Bison IPA while at Atlanta’s Virginia-Highland’s YEAH! BURGER, a trendy, quick-eat, concept place that succeeds in making you pay an extra $5 for a burger and fries by inserting the word “organic” before every menu item.  And, of course, these are very special burgers.  These cows are not your run-of-the-mill, random-ass, bovine methane makers hauled in frozen from some meat grinding factory in, say, Texas.  Nope, These cows are sophisticated.  More than mere numbers on a field, these cows undergo rigorous studies and training, live on a vegan diet, and each is massaged while NPR is softly broadcast throughout the pasture.  Then they get slaughtered and cut up.  And they taste great.

The best thing about YEAH! BURGER organic burgers, they’re not sleep inducing like most greasy burgers.  The mellow, low alcohol Bison IPA worked well to cut through the beef.  IPAs and burgers are historically a great match.  So an organic IPA with an organic burger?  Well, that’s like getting to do yoga in the gluten-free section at a Whole Foods.  YEAH!

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What Would Washington Brew?

What do you get when you let beer brewers borrow the DeLorean for a few days?  American Revolution Era Beer as explained here.  Taste like Liberty.

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Bell’s Porter

We paired a Bell’s Porter with a hamburger recipe specially engineered to highlight the sweet chocolate malts and stand up to the porter’s dark, bitter flavors.  The following recipe for two is simple (you will note that we do not use exact measurements but instead prefer a method called not caring.)

ground sirloin (enough for two beer drinkers)

Small amount of minced red onion

Two-ish dashes of red pepper flakes

some egg white.  just some.  Not all.

One-ish to two spoonfuls of organic maple syrup

White Cheddar

Mix all but the cheddar together and make your burgers.  Grill to your satisfaction as you let the white cheddar melt on top.  Go ahead and crack a small amount of black pepper over top just to make it look more impressive.  Serve.

Typically, the richer the beer, then the richer the food that you should pair it with.  And because Bell’s Porter is somewhat mild, at least as compared to a hefty burger, we want to keep our burger in line with it.  So ground sirloin is used rather than ground chuck because the low fat content will not overpower the beer itself or the smokiness from the maple syrup.  We want that smoky sweetness to come through and compliment those same flavors that are also found in the porter.  Also, the white cheddar helps alleviate any flavor congestion you may experience on the palate while also drawing out the hop bitterness found in the porter.  And the red pepper keeps that cheddar in check.  And the red onion is necessary because it was about to go bad in my fridge and I’d feel wrong letting it waste.  You know how that is.

So that’s it.  Obviously, you’re going to enjoy this burger recipe very much.  You are welcome.

And now the specs.

Beer name: Bell’s Porter

Style: Porter

ABV: 5.6%

Brewery: Bell’s Brewery, Inc., Kalamazoo, MI

How Served: In a large brandy glass paired with a burger.

Appearance: This one’s obviously a dark, oily, coffee brown.  The foam makes a great impression here, coming in strong for a minute then fizzing off into the heavens.  Just by looking at it you can tell that it’s crisp and packed with aroma and flavor.  The foam’s color, interestingly enough, is identical to the bottle label’s main tan color.

Aroma: Mellow malts and floral hops fight in unison against a toffee smell.  That’s all I got.

Taste: Bitter at first, as a porter should be, but smooth and mellow.  Burnt, or smoky, dark chocolate flavors follow up.  The aftertaste is mostly a bitter chocolate.  While this is not a strong beer, I pick up alcohol flavors for some reason.

Mouthfeel: Bell’s Porter is smooth and relatively light for a porter, probably due to the efficient carbonation that keeps things moving and washed down.

Overall: Bell’s Porter has been around forever.  Max Headroom was still pushing New Coke when this beer first showed up.  So it’s a basic, and it’s a staple.  If you’re looking for a straightforward American take on the classic porter beer style, Bell’s Porter is it.  The burger did all the things it was supposed to do.  Even with small amounts of ketchup and mustard, the right sweet, smoky, and bitter flavors from both the porter and the burger all came through and said hello to one another.  Success.

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Left Hand Milk Stout nitrous draught at Dave’s Pub

Dave’s Pub now offers Left Hand Milk Stout from a nitrous draught, meaning that your beer will be extra special and rigorously foamy as compared to a bottle pour.  Milk Stouts are like most any stout, but, uh, milkier, which compliments the chocolate malt flavors usually found in stouts.  And the nitrous from the draught creates carbonation that is less soluble than regular beer bubbles.  These micro-bubbles result in a more stable and longer lasting foamy head and other science.  But expect a longer pour time though, as the nitrous tends to slow the tap down (which is honestly an explanation that I just made up.  It just took a long time to pour.)

And now the Specs

Beer Name: Left Hand Milk Stout

Style: Sweet Stout

ABV: 6%

Brewery: Left Hand Brewing Co., Longmont, CO

How Served: in a Becker pint glass.

Aroma:  Pungent hop aroma likely from the Magnum hops.  A sweet mellowness comes through as well.

Appearance: Not quite black.  Closer to a dark coffee color.  Oily too.  The medium-dark tan foam was ever present, superbulously creamy (just look at that gleam in the photo).  There was lacing aplenty as the beer glass became less full.

Taste: Tastes like a stick of butter microwaved in a Guinness.  Very rich toffee.  Almost like a dessert.  The longer than normal pour time might have been due to some sort of butter melting process hidden in the tap.  The Milk Stout logo should have the Land O’ Lakes girl riding that cow.  Thankfully the hop bitterness kicks in the aftertaste and makes everything ok again.  A welcomed soft, dry, dark chocolate aftertaste hangs around for a bit too.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and smooth with little carbonation in the mouth.  Nitrous causes smaller than normal bubbles which may cause less of a ruckus.

Overall: Left Hand Milk Stout is popular for a reason and this was worth every penny, all 500 of them.  It’s a sweeter alternative for most bitter, dark stouts, and very heavy.  So don’t expect to knock out a sixer during the big game.  And always take an opportunity to sample a beer poured with nitrous.  It creates longer head retention thus greater aroma and it allows for a smoother beer.   And considering this beer’s sweet toffee and butteriness, its best use might as an ingredient in your next batch of egg nog.

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Guinness, Style, and Zen

The above picture is of my friend Nathan and his Guinness taken on a snowy day not too long ago.  What’s important here is that Nathan wears this Guinness as if he keeps them in his dresser drawer.  Guinness just fits the situation here, like it was captured on film within its natural habitat.  It all works.  It’s zen-like.  A beer nirvana.  A Corona just wouldn’t cut it here.   Nor does it look forced, like a kid wearing a trucker hat while chugging a PBR.

It’s a testament to not only Nathan’s sartorial savvy, but also to the versatility of beers’ ability to compliment and enrich a range of aspects in our lives, even one’s mode of dress.  So remember, next time you’re ordering a beer, consider congruence with all things in the moment, even your attire.

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Sprecher Pipers Scotch-Style Ale

While sitting snuggly in the north end zone of Bryant Denny confidently watching the Crimson Tide spread the board by 24 points on the Auburn Tigers, I received a text from my girlfriend: “hey baby.  AU is starting to scare me.  I got something for you!”

I told her: “no worries sweetie.” [send] addressing her fear about “AU”.

I continued:” “The kittens are nothing to be afraid of” [send]

Then I concluded: “they have tiny little kitten claws and tiny little kitten teeth.  They are kittens and we are mighty Elephants.”  [send]

Her response: “:)”.  Which made sense.  Why should she be scared?  We spent our first three possessions showing Auburn how to score touchdowns with ease.  The mighty $cam Newton had been shut down.  But it was early in the game.  Too early.

I then asked: “so wud u git me woman?” [send]

She replied: “I got you a kilt!”

“Hell YEAH!” which I said out loud, not by text.  So I texted her: “He’ll Yeah” [send] “*Hell” [send]

She had found a kilt and decided that it was something that should belong to me.  A kilt is a wonderful thing if you don’t know.  It’s a traditional Scottish article of clothing somewhat resembling a schoolgirl uniform, yet no other article of men’s clothing is as versatile.  Kilt’s are as acceptable at a White Stripes concert as they are at Christmas mass.  You can wear one on a battlefield or at your wedding and will always get the desired affect you need.  And, just like how a good scotch whisky tastes even better while wearing a well-tailored suit, the kilt likewise enhances any beer.

The rest of that day was dark, frigid, wet, and blustery.  It reminded me of a typical day in Scotland.  Worst of all, Alabama managed to not win.  Which is the right way to explain that game.  I arrived home from Tuscaloosa, looked deep into my fridge and found a Sprecher Pipers Scotch-Style Ale with it’s eye catching Scottish tartan kilt on the label.  The dark, rich flavored ale with a steep alcohol content was just what I needed to warm my body and my mood.  The perfect beer for an imperfect day.

And now the specs.

Beer Name: Sprecher Pipers Scotch-Style Ale

Style: . . . Ale, in the style of Scottish brewing.

ABV: 8.3%

Brewery: Sprecher, Milwaukee, WI

How Served: Poured into a large brandy glass.  Unfortunately, kiltless.

Aroma: Smokey with hints of peat similar to scotch whisky.  But instead of oak cask aged aroma the caramel malt sweetness comes up.  Not a hoppy aroma but Scotch Style Ales are characteristically low in hops.  Why?  Because hops grow in England, a place the Scots historically prefer to avoid.

Appearance: With a medium rigorous pour, a creamy, off-white, rich froth held for a while, giving way to a small but ever-present layer of foam.  The beer is a dark, rudy-copper.

Taste: Scotch Style Ales are brewed with a lower amount of hops than most other styles which results in a sweeter beer as the malts go unbalanced by the bitter hops.  The caramel malt in the Pipers is rich and thick in sweetness, but not as cloying like other sweet beers (such as Oktoberfests/Marzens.)  The aftertaste is a pleasant toastiness which is surprisingly subtle.

Mouthfeel: This one is on the heavier side of beers.  The syrupy elements are prominent but are well balanced by the foam and carbonation.

Overall: If you want a sweet, toasty beer, without the cloying flavor of a marzen or the nuttiness of a Nut Brown, go with a Scotch-Style Ale.  And Sprecher’s Pipers well-achieved balance of the sweet malts makes this a highly recommended specimen.  With just over 8% ABV it’s also a strong beer for ugly weather.  Not a beer for Hop Heads, but the hop presence is just enough to dry out the sweet, rich, and powerful malt flavors.

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ACME California IPA

There will always be a place in our hearts for Jessica Rabbit, Ariel the mermaid, Daphne of Scooby Doo, Pocahontas of Pocahontas, and, of course, Betty and/or Veronica.  They were beautiful, we were young, and they had many adventures to take us on, lessons to teach us, and imaginations and dreams to inspire.  Of course, now that we’re older we’ve had to find a way to work our beloved animated beauties into something that fits into our new lives as drinkers and appreciators of beer.

So we now turn to the likes of the Miller High Life Girl on the Moon, the St. Pauli Girl, and the lessor known ACME IPA girl.  The High Life Girl is tidy, proper, well dressed, and lady like.  She’s the presentable sort that you’d want to bring home to meet the parents.  And you do so because it makes them happy.  And then on the other end of that spectrum we have the St. Pauli Girl who certainly wins the trophy date award.  But seeing as how the St. Pauli district of Hamburg was (is?) a red light district, you’d better just return the smile and move on.

Then there is the ACME IPA girl.

Put simply, she’s golden, literally and figuratively, not unlike the great state which she aptly represents. She’s cute, no doubt, as she can hold your attention as well as she can hold a beer while performing daring physical feats.  Something all of us have attempted, few successfully.  And look at that smile. She’s completely comfortable with herself, a trait which is more attractive than any High Life Girl prudishness, St. Pauli Girl wink, or Jessica Rabbit hip sway.  Both the ACME IPA Girl and her beer stand well above others, and both are keepers.

And now the Specs.

Beer Name: ACME California IPA

Style: American IPA

ABV: 6.5%

Brewery: North Coast Brewing Co., Fort Bragg, CA

How Served: The bottle rode around in my car for about an hour, then I reversed microwaved it in the freezer for about 20 minutes.  Poured it into a lager/pint glass hybrid and enjoyed.

Aroma: A combination of sweet light malts and floral hops.  So mostly a sweet bread smell with a subdued hop aroma.

Appearance: A moderately rigorous pour created a frothy build up, just off white in color, and I was happy when it stayed around for awhile.  The beer color was pure copper and small amounts of carbonation tingled up the glass.  A beautiful beer in appearance.

Taste: That sweet aroma smoothly transitions into the dry and bitter hop taste characteristic of IPAs, complete with just the right amount of malt flavor underneath.  At 55 IBUs it’s not on the crazy scale of bitterness, but it is enough to leave you a bit puckered after a sip.

Mouthfeel: This IPA is light to medium in body.  The carbonation knows exactly when to stay out of the way and when to kick in, meaning once you first take a sip, the flavor is not interrupted, and as you swallow the carbonation collects perfectly in the back of your mouth to flush it all down.  It’d make a good pallet cleanser.

Overall: I was a fan from the beginning and remain so today.  This beer belongs in the top ten list of American IPAs (and there are hundreds and hundreds of US IPAs out there.)  ACME IPA may be a bit heavy both in body and in taste to continue drinking for an extended period of time, so its more ideal as a meal time beverage than it is, say, a game time crusher.

And by the way, the ACME IPA Girl has no official name.  Ever since her inception during World War II she’s just been referred to as “the swinging girl.”  North Coast Brewing acquired the rights to her in the 90s and have yet to call her Shirley or anything.  So if any of you have name suggestions, please share.

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