Saturday, April 19, 2014

A Long Awaited Beer and Not Disappointed KBS - Kentucky Breakfast Stout

When I first heard that Founders Brewing was going to be distributed in Louisiana starting in April of 2014, the first thing I thought was

My hopes were that we, the beer lovers of the area, would be lucky enough to get some in the Houma Thibodaux area, but I had some doubt due to the fact that we were just bringing Founders in to Louisiana the month of the year, April that KBS is released.  KBS is a highly sort after beer with limited production that is only released once a year.  KBS is currently rated #5 of the Top 250 beers on Beer Advocate.

So as luck has it the Houma/Thibodaux area was able to get there hands on one keg of KBS.  It was tapped on 4-17-14 at Whch Craft? in Houma.  An old high school friend of mine sent me a message and out the door I went.  Both to my happiness and disappointment there was a good crowd of men and women sampling KBS, happy because it is great to see the passion for good beer grow in this area, but disappointed that it meant the KBS would not last as long on tap  :)

So after the many year wait I finally get my first pour of KBS... As some of my readers may know I am a fan of Imperial Stouts, but sometimes worry that the wait and the hype creates a certain picture and flavor in ones mind that can be hard for the beer to live up to the expectations.  But in this case I was not disappointed at all!

Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) is brewed once a year by Founders Brewing out of Grand Rapids, MI.  It is an imperial stout that is aged in bourbon barrels for over 1 year in a cave at 55 degrees.  Each April the relativity small amount of beer is released across the country.  

KBS poured from the tap a nice dark black color with some hints of dark brown highlights .  The head was a small bubble, tight tan color.  The aroma was roasted, coffee, chocolate with hints of the bourbon.  As the beer warmed I felt the roasted notes were accentuated and the bourbon tones faded a little.  The mouth feel was full and smooth with a bit of creaminess.  The carbonation was mild.  The that is where it gets really special....was very good, multi levels of flavors that compliment well.  Bold roasted coffee, chocolate , and vanilla flavors were present.  The  bourbon notes and flavor compliment well but not as bold and up front as some barrel aged beers I have had in the past. There was mild bitterness that seem to be more from the coffee and chocolate aspect as opposed to in your face hops.  The alcohol content was not present when the beer was first poured.  It left a great lace along the glass.  But be careful at 11.2%ABV it is a "big boy" beer, it will sneak up on you.  (to prove that taste is a subjective thing my wife drank a KBS and said it was ok, she was not  overly impressed with it.  she said there was "some" aftertaste that she picked up...but she did finish it)

Is this the #5 best beer in the world....well that is hard to decide, as taste is so subjective.   But I can tell you this is one very good beer.  So good the I returned to Which Craft the following day to have another before the tap runs dry.  I think the limited release of this beer adds to the desire of KBS, but again I do feel the hype is justified.  If you get a chance to try some KBS this year, do not pass up the opportunity.   So Far I have been impress with he Founders' Beers that have been released in Louisiana, also give their other beers a try.   I got a feeling you will enjoy them.  

Sunday, April 6, 2014

National Beer Day April 7th 2014

Today is one of the best Holidays of the year.....National Beer Day
In honor of the holiday I will repost my blog from 2013.  
Cheers My BEER Drinking Friends 

The 18th Amendment of 1919 prohibited the sale and production of alcohol in the United States.  For nearly 14 years once law abiding citizens, were now criminals in the eyes of the 'law".  Hundreds of  back room speakeasies and bath tub gin makers sprung up all across the US.  This fortunately changed on April 7 1933, the date that the Cullen-Harrison Act was enacted.  The law was actually signed by President Franklin Roosevelt on March 23, 1933.  The Cullen-Harrison Act allowed for the production and sale of beer as long as the alcohol content was less than 4% alcohol by volume (ABV).

These beers are know as Session beers.  It is defined by beer advocate as  : 
Session Beers - Any beer that contains no higher than 5% ABV, featuring a balance between malt and hop characters and, typically, a clean finish.  A combination of which creates a beers with high drinkability.  The purpose of a session beer is to allow a beer drinker to have multiple beers, within a reasonable time period or session, without overwhelming the senses or reaching inappropriate levels of intoxication. (yes you can drink and enjoy beer without getting drunk!!)

Also on April 7,1933 the legendary icon of Budweiser...The Clydesdales began.  August Busch, Jr and Adolphus Bush III surprised their father August A. Busch, Sr, with a gift of a 6 horse Clydesdale hitch to commemorate the repeal of Prohibition.  The company also realized the marketing potential and sent a 2nd 6 horse Clydesdale hitch to New York City.  They were driven by Billy Wales.  Thousands of people followed the horses down the streets of New York to the Empire State Building where a case of beer was presented to the former Governor Alfred E Smith.  He fought against Prohibition.

The Clydesdales then continued a tour of New England and the Atlantic States before stopping in Washington DC in April of 1933 to reenact the delivery of a case of Budweiser to President Roosevelt that was sent April 7, 1933 by air.  

So remember today and every day that you raise a pint, a long neck or a can of your favorite beer that there is history behind every sip.  A story that makes each sip a bit more satisfying.  

So my friends today I raise a glass to toast BEER, because without it a toast would just not be the same

I must give a nod to  Justin Smith who is credited with creating this beer holiday.  Thanks to Justin, social media and the lovers of beer, many restaurants, pubs, home brewers & beer drinkers across the United States will be celebrating National Beer Day


Sunday, March 30, 2014

My Affair with Sofie & Matilda -- Another Great Beer Dinner/Fantasy Camp

I once again had the privilege to attend another excellent beer dinner this past week at Lacasa Del Sol in Thibodaux, LA.  I was an invited guess to a private/working dinner with the employees of Buquet Distributors of Houma.  I had the pleasure of having a wonderful meal prepared  by Chef Roy Guilbeau Jr that was paired with 4 beers from the Goose Island Vintage Ale line of beers.   As you can imagine when I received the invite....I was like of course I'll be there, being a fan of great food, Goose Island beer and beer knowledge.

First a little info on Goose Island brewery.  It is a craft brewery in Chicago that has been producing excellent beers for some time.  I am huge fan of their limited and series releases.  But I know some of  my readers who are avid craft beer lovers or the beer snobs out there will say that ... NO!  Goose Island sold out when Anheuser-Busch purchased the brewery a few years back.  I take a different opinion, I see it as business and there will be more such purchases in the future.  What I like about Goose Island, besides the beer, is they kept much creative control and continue to brew much of the beers like they did before in Chicago.   One of the reasons being that in the Vintage Series they use wild yeast strains.  Anheuser-Busch would never allow this into their main Breweries.  The risk of contamination with their high volume mass market beers are to great.  There is a big difference in my book with a large company buying a small craft brewer vs. a large mass market brewer trying to act like a craft brewer.  To me it is more about the beer...not the marketing.

Now back to the beer dinner.  There was about 26 Buquet employees and myself.  I was asked to say a few words at the event.  I remember saying to the fellow attendees that "this may seem like work for you guys having to learn about beer and pairings, but to a craft beer and food lover like myself this is like being a baseball fan and taking batting practice with the Atlanta Braves during spring training"  It was pretty cool bringing in attendance.  It was a very good event and the information and knowledge shared was spot on.

Prior to the meal we started off with Goose Island 312 from their Urban Ale series.  A year round beer that has a nice malty flavor with a light citrus finish from the hops.  5.4%ABV and IBU of 30.  If you are new to the beer scene and looking to expand you palate this would be a good place to start.

The first course was an Oyster Chowder paired with Matilda, A Belgian style pale ale with a 7%ABV and IBU of 26.  This beer is bottled conditioned and can continue to improve if cellared for up to 5 years or more.   My initial thoughts when I heard that the Vintage series was being used Chef Roy would start off with Sofie and work his way up to Matilda.  But once again Chef Roy was spot on when combined with the earthiness of the oysters this was a perfect choice to begin.

The second course brought in my other lady friend Sofie.  A Belgian Farmhouse style ale with  6.5%ABV and IBU of 20.  This beer is aged in wine barrels with orange peel.  Another bottled aged and conditioned beer that is moderately carbonated that reminds me of the refreshing crispness of Champagne.   This was paired with a delicious dish of mole rubbed domestic duck with duck confit salad and a dried cherry sauce.    This pairing worked very well.  I am not always a fan of duck, but my plate was empty after this course.  The duck confit was cooked for 8hrs in its now juices and fat @ 200 degrees then shredded.   Excellent!

The third course, we more on to the men of the Vintage Ale series...Pepe Nero, another Belgian Farmhouse Ale.  6.4% ABV and IBU of 30.  This is a nice dark beer with great roasted flavors.  It would pair well with beef or venison.  The dish of choice was variation of a Beef Wellington with sweet potato mash.  Once again the food was spot on.  Instead of the traditional puff pastry Chef Roy choose filo dough.  The flavors and tenderness was very good.  The pastry could of been a little crisper, but the flavors were great and the pairing was perfect.   Being a beef lover and dark beer lover, going back to the baseball analogy, this was right in my wheel house.  I was nice to have the Belgian Farmhouse ales back to back to compare and contrast the great difference between the two beers.

The final course (which my wife is still giving me grief for not bringing her one home) was a Banana Creme Brûlée with fresh Bananas and Foster sauce.  The dessert was paired with Pere Jaques - A Belgian style Abby Ale, a Belgian double.  8.7%ABV and IBU of 26.  This a a classic Belgian Abby Style with many fruity notes and flavors...especially bananas.  This pairing had me questioning the choice, I would of considered an more malty or chocolate flavor to complement the bananas.  But that is what makes food and beer pairing an art and a science.  Chef Roy went a different route and line of thinking.  I am happy he did.  With the beer having such prominent banana flavors he felt that the banana dessert would cancel and mask them allowing some of the other minor and less prominent flavors of the complex beer to shine though and it did.   Having dank this beer a few times before, but never paired like this, I never noticed the complexity of this beer.   Another great choice!

Sorry for the length of the post, but I felt like i had to do justice to these great beers from Goose Island and to the excellent food that was served.  This is the second beer pairing dinner that I attend at LaCasa Del Sol and I am so impress with the food prepared.  If you get the chance to attend an won't be disappointed.    Again I would like to thank Buquet distributors and LaCasa Del Sol for allowing me to attend work meeting for you and Fantasy camp for me. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

St Patrick's Day

Another holiday where many use for an excuse to drink and eat and drink.
But I feel that if you going to celebrate the holiday, at least try and remain true to the true spirit and custom of the holiday.

Information on Spirits to drink that are Irish!

1. Irish Whiskey by law of 1980 which repealed the 1950 law requires that:
        Irish whiskey must be distilled and aged on the island of Ireland.
        Must be distilled to an ABV of less that 94.8% from yeast-fermented mash of cereal grains.
        The product must be aged for at least 3 years in wooden casks.
         If the spirit is made of 2 or more distillates is must be referred to as "blended" Irish Whiskey

2.  There are currently 8 Distilleries in Ireland :
     1. Dingle, 2. West Cork, 3. Midleton, 4. Altech, 5. Kiberggan, 6. Cooley, 7.Eichinville, & 8. Bushmills

3.  Bushmills Distillery is the oldest licensed distillery in the world, est 1784.   Bought by Diageo in 2005.  Their brands include Old Bushmills, 1608, Black Bush, Bushmills 10, 12, 16 and 21 year old single malts.

4. Irish Whiskey has increase sales in the US at 17.5% last year

5. Irish know I had to write something about beer and no I am not talking about the green dyed crap that is served in so many places.  I am talking Beer brewed in Ireland. Being a beer drinker who enjoys stouts there are quite a few very good beers from Ireland.

 Beamish Stout : a stout similar to Guinness that uses Beamish yeast dating back to 1792

Guinness Draught ask the bartender for a "perfect pint" it is an optimal pouring method which according to the company should take 119.53 seconds

Murphy's Irish Stout the lightest and sweetest of the Ireland 3 stouts

Porterhouse Oyster Stout Ireland's largest independent brewery

Guinness Extra Stout relaunched in the US in 2010 but was first shipped here in 1817

Harp Lager a lighter crisp lager

Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale the taste can be described as Smithwick's with less hops and creamy head like Guinness.

Smithwick's Irish Ale dates back to the 14th century when monks brewed the beer

Murphy's Irish Ale was bought by Heineken in 1983

Ohara's Cletic Stout an old school stout with just hops, barley, yeast and water.

So whatever you choice to celebrate St Patty's it beer or whiskey.  Please at least keep it Irish