Endless Beer: Dark Water IPA

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Alright kids; number two from my beer trade is a black IPA. Black IPA sounds odd to many people. What it means is that it is a beer that keeps the “integrity” of an IPA, but also has the malty profile of a dark beer. Black IPAs come in many different shapes, sizes, and flavors. For me, the key to a quality black IPA is having the hop-forward flavor without losing the dark color of the beer and the sweet malt flavor of a dark beer. Some will go too many hops or too little hops. The key is balance (kind of ironic in an IPA). Imperial Oak Brewing Company offers us a black IPA weighing in at 90 IBUs (pretty average for an IPA). Anyway, here’s the flavors!

ABV:9%

Tasting Notes:

Appearance: Black, nearly opaque with tan head

Aroma: Hops and biscuity

Taste: Roasted malts in the front – mixture of coffee and bitter chocolate, followed by strong hop flavor. Hop bitterness holds throughout, balanced by the roasted malt flavor. Slight notes of caramel in the back end.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy mouthfeel.

Overall: Definitely an above average black IPA. The flavors are well thought-out and keep me wanting more after each sip. Has the definite profile of an IPA with the roasted malty flavor typically coming from such a dark beer.

Endless Rating: 4.25/5 Suds

Endless Pairings:

Cheese: Buttermilk Blue with crustini, grapes, and dried apricot

Appetizer: Buffalo Wings

Entree: Grilled pork chop with spinach and acorn squash

Dessert: Chocolate cake

Cigar: CAO Sol

New Year’s Resolution: Drink More Coquito

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Cocktails, beer, wine, does it really get any better? The holiday season brought us several additional pounds, great food, and obviously tons of booze. BUT, you may have missed out on one of the best parts of the holidays: the Coquito. Coined as “Puerto Rican Egg Nog,” the Coquito brings Christmas flavors to the palate in addition to sweet flavors of coconut and rum. Sounds awful, I know.

I jealously overheard a co-worker saying, “they should fill Nalgene bottles of that shit” and was instantly intrigued. Turns out it was some kind of amazing concoction of coconut, rum, cream and spices. Some use egg, others do not. I spent the rest of my day dreaming of booze and Christmas. When I come home to the wife, she has a small bottle of “some kind of Puerto Rican drink.” BOOM. Santa WAS good to me! Unfortunately, the bottle went quickly and I now need a recipe. Not the kind of recipe you find online. I want a genuine Puerto Rican recipe with all the secrets in it. Anyway, you may still be wondering what it tastes like.

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Endless Beer: Imperial Oak’s Crank it Hop IPA

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I’ve been so busy drinking beer over the Holidays. It’s been tough. As I mentioned, my favorite time of the year is beer trades and exchanges. From my beer trade with Chicago, I tried the “Crank it Hop” IPA from Imperial Oak Brewing Company. From a grolwer, the suds still had great carbonation and I was able to complete the hard job of tasting 32 ounces of beer. Enough already…here are the notes.

ABV: 6%

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Transparent gold with white head

Aroma: Bitter and hoppy aroma with sweet citrus

Taste: Very sweet matly and caramel flavor in the front end. Follows with slight citrus flavors of orange and grapefruit and ends with strong hop finish.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly smooth finish and buttery mouthfeel throughout.

Overall: Very well balanced IPA. It is a sweeter IPA than you typically expect when you think of the style, but the sweetness is pleasant. Smooth drink that was easy to finish even 32 ounces of.

ES Rating: 4.5/5 Suds

Endless Pairings

Cheese: Sweet fig goat cheese with toasted salty almonds and dried cranberries

Appetizer: Candied bacon!

Entree: Grilled barbecue chicken with sauteed green beans and sweet potato puree

Dessert: Caramel Cheesecake

Cigar: Alec Bradley American Sun Grown

 

 

Straight ‘Outta the Trade

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The best time of the year for me is typically when our quarterly beer exchange happens, or when my beer trades happen with my cousins. It started with my “cousin-in-law” from Seattle and has not reached Chicago. With all the beers available in the country, why not taste as much as possible? Well, my Chicago trade has arrived! I look for unique brews from places that I cannot get locally. Well, my cousin delivered in more than one way. First, these brews come from a microbrewery in Chicago. Second, they came in crowlers!

What’s the big deal with crowlers? well, I would say they are overrated if you’re just going to your local brew pub. However, for the sake of beer trades, crowlers make it even more possible to share beer with your friends that was once nearly impossible (unless you want to daringly attempt to send a growler). Anyway, here’s what came straight ‘outta the trade this time (tastes to follow):

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Endless Beer: 2016 Anchor Christmas Ale

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Anchor Brewing Company continues their 42 year-old tradition every Christmas season by releasing their seasonal Christmas ale. While the name does not change, the recipe and illustration does. The recipe is kept secret, so maybe their fooling all of us, but from what I can tell, there is a change in recipes throughout the years. I’ve been saving one every year for the past four years. Next year, I’ll taste each year and let you know. Until then…

ABV: 6.5%

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Black in color, but is not opaque. When held up to the light, you can barely see through it. Head is tan.

Aroma: Sweet smells of maple, fig, and cherry in addition to the scents of bread.

Taste: SWEET. Tastes of maple and roasted malts come first, followed by a chocolate flavor. Fruity flavor of years past is there, but not as strong. Winter spices are very subtle in this one – clove, nutmeg and cinnamon.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and smooth throughout – goes down easy.

Overall: Bought a case for my exchange, then bought a 12 pack for myself. This is a great dessert beer without going too heavy. This year’s is very balanced and has a great flavor that does remind you of Christmas.

Endless Rating: 4.3333/5 Candy Canes

Endless Pairings:

Cheese: Fig goat cheese with rusted nuts, dried fruit, and crustini

Appetizer: Roasted Garlic Chicken Satay

Entree: Roasted pork loin over apples and sweet potatoes with sauteed broccolini

Dessert: Chocolate pear panettone

Cigar: Nat Sherman Timeless Dominican

Endless Beer: 2016 Bourbon County Stout

Endless Beer: 2016 Bourbon County Stout

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Ahh yes, the most wonderful time of the year. My Black Friday shopping tradition became not one of waiting in endless lines but going to pick up my favorite holiday stout. Goose Island annually releases their Bourbon County Stout on Black Friday. Few distributors are provided with a limited supply and the beer snobs rush to get their stash. This is my third year of commitment to the stout and I now have a nice collection in my cellar to one day do a tasting across five years. Goose Island suggests that the brew can be aged up to five years, so why not?

On to the tasting!

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Gingerbread Man Old Fashioned

Top 10 Holiday Cocktails

Ah yes, here we are. The red cups are back, people are crankier than ever, and our bank accounts are draining the same day we get paid. So how do we cope celebrate? Alcohol and parties! Yes, we all gather to celebrate the holidays and drink our sorrows away. Well, this year, impress your colleagues, friends, and family with some new cocktail recipes. You’re welcome.

10. Candy Cane Affogato

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Ever since I had my first Affogato on a cruise, I will always order it when on the dessert menu. But now, this?! Not only do I get my espresso with my ice cream, but there’s a bit of booze and minty freshness. Sign me up.

9. Wine Me Up Santa

I got a massive bottle of red wine for our recent holiday party. Well, a day later and there is still at least 3/4 of the bottle left. Knowing it would “go bad” in a few days, I drank the rest of the bottle myself. Next time, I’ll be offering these at the party. Unless I’m feeling like drinking an entire bottle of wine again.

8. Gingerbread Man Old Fashioned

Gingerbread Man Old Fashioned

I’m a whiskey fan. Go to drink is typically a Whiskey Sour or just drinking it straight. I’m always looking for other cocktails to make than the Whiskey Sour. Well, here we have it – Gingerbread Man Old Fashioned. I’ll be having this one tonight. Cheers.

7. Hot Buttered Whiskey

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At my super-classy holiday party, I was tempted to serve buttered rum. Only thing was that the party just started and I didn’t feel like bringing another Crock Pot up from the basement. You can use this recipe with rum or whiskey. I suggest whiskey.

6. Candy Cane Martini

Some like to keep it simple. While this certainly is not for the lightweights, it will get the job done.

5. Haute Hazelnut Cocktail

A few years back, I fell in love with Rumchata. This version of Bailey’s is very similar. I mean, I could probably even have this drink with breakfast.

4. New York Sour

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First time I had this drink was at Keen’s in New York City. I always ask if the bartender knows how to make this. if they say no – then I go with beer. Otherwise, I go for this every time.

3. Hot Peanut Buttered Rum

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The POV in D.C. offers this up as their spin on buttered rum. Start with peanut butter infused rum with hot cinnamon tea, butter, and of course a bunch of whipped cream on top.

2. Punched Up Punch

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Take yourself back to the days of college, grain alcohol, and Kool Aid. Now class it up a bit and you have this drink made with Brazilian Cachacaliqueur, ginger infused acai spirit, organic tea syrup, lime and passion fruit juice. Originally found at Poste in DC.

1. Purple Snowflake Martini

 

I mean…if you want glitz and glam at your holiday party. Here it is. And it has plenty of booze too!