Endless Beer: 2014 Anchor Christmas Celebration Ale

 

The tradition continues! Anchor releases their 40th Anniversary edition of the Christmas Celebration Ale. Every year, Anchor Brewing tweaks the recipe to the traditional Christmas Ale. And of course…they add a new illustration of the tree to the collection. Generally, Anchor ensures a dark ale packed full of spices that remind us all of Christmas. This is my third year sipping this beverage and it has become a tradition for myself as well. Anchor keeps the recipe secret, but we know that it is made with a mix of strong malts, spices, and hops to be complemented by the dry hopping process. Anyway, here’s to beer traditions.

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Endless Beer: Sierra Nevada Wild Hop IPA

Sierra Nevada concludes their 2014 Harvest series with the Wild Hop IPA. Sierra Nevada went on a journey for the best wild hops around and crafted brews around what they found for these suds. The Neomexicanus “is the literal wild card” of the five bottle package with the hops’ unusual flavors. “Unusual” does not get the cravings going, but that’s why it is the wild card, right? Sierra Nevada introduces the brew with a teaser of melon, apricot, and citrus aromas in the beer coming from the hops.  Here’s what we thought:

6.5% ABV

Flavor Profile:

Appearance:  Hazy dark orange

Aroma: Heavy hops and subtle citrus and apricot.

Taste: Hop-forward flavor provide a pleasant bitterness for hopheads. Slight malty sweetness comes through complementing some citrus.

Mouthfeel: Dry finish with light aftertaste that does not linger.

Overall: This is a definite hophead pleaser. The hops begin and finish the beer nicely. First, the aroma hits hard with scents of being in a sweet hop garden. Then, we get some quick sweetness from the malts that are quickly cut by the pleasant hop bitterness of these WILD unusual hops.

ES Rating: 3.75/4 Suds!

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Endless Beer: Dogfish Head Beer Thousand

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10% ABV

Every beer has a story. Dogfish Head continues on with their music series to bring you Beer Thousand. This time, it is Guided by Voices’ turn. To celebrate the band’s 20th anniversary of their record BEE Thousand: the Beer Thousand. For Dogfish Head, the title is not just a clever play on words, but is also born of a delicious formula. This formula is: 10 grains, 10 hop varieties, and 10 ABV (10x10x10). If anything else, you have to give credit to the brewery for their creativity and precision in crafting a unique and high-powered lager. Here’s the verdict:

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Endless Pairings: European Beer Dinner

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Thankfully, beer pairing dinners are becoming increasingly popular in my area. And lucky for you, you get to hear about it. Now, we can all embrace the fact that beer pairs just as well with food as wine does! Sands Bethlehem and St. James Gate hosted a European Beer Dinner. The dinner paired imported European beers with four courses of fall flavored gourmet style meals. Similar to the wine pairing, representatives introduced each beer to discuss the characteristics of the beer and where it comes form. The chef also circulated during the event and was willing to answer questions.

The pairings were not what I expected for each meal, but each complemented the meal nicely. In speaking with the chef, he explained that he tasted each suggested beer first, then he decided what kind of meal to pair it with. Meanwhile, in our DIY pairing, we were thinking about what the beer would taste like, then finding something to complement the beer. For a true beer pairing, the beer should really complete each meal and bring out the flavors of the meal. We determined our favorite meal, favorite beer, and favorite pairing. Check it out.

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Endless Beer: Ommegang Three Philosophers

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Ommegang famously brings us the Game of Thrones series beers, but also offers other varietals that pack their own punch. Speaking of fame, one of Ommegang’s more well known brews is the Three Philosophers. Weighing in at 9.7% ABV, the Three Philosophers promises to relax if nothing else. Three Philosophers was born when Ommegang asked homebrewers what the “perfect brew” would taste like. The answer was flavors of caramel, chocolate, and cherry. Ommegang messed with various variations until the reached a mixture of 98% ale and 2% kriek (lambic). Here are our tasting notes:

ABV: 9.7%

Poured into tulip glass.

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Cookies and…Beer? Flying Dog Holiday Collection

image1 (3)What’s the best drink to have with cookies? BEER. Why not, people? The holidays are coming; we’re celebrating getting fat and doing it with our families and friends. To support our mission, Flying Dog created The Holiday Collection: Four Otterbein’s Cookie Inspired Craft Beers.  While I was hoping that the kit would come with Berger Cookies, the Otterbein’s cookies did not disappoint.  But what about having them with beer? Well, luckily I’m here to do the hard work of tasting and drinking each beer and cookie. After our DIY beer pairing, we continued on with dessert, complements of Flying Dog. We judged the beers, the cookies, and then the pairing. Here we go!

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Endless Pairings: Negra Modelo

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Mexican beer and fall-themed food. The perfect complement? Well, that’s what were determined to find out when Negra Modelo sent us a “pairing kit” to put it to the test. When presented with the opportunity to taste test, my answer is almost always yes. Negra Modelo sent us a box full of spices from The Spice House, two tulip glasses, a wooden cutting board, and a $50 Visa gift card to purchase the goods. Challenge accepted. Think of it as the at-home version of Chopped. Being seasonal food fans (mainly fall), we began planning a menu of fall foods that would highlight the spices (follow The Spice House recommendations) and pair well with a Vienna (dark) lager. Yes – a European beer style from Mexico. Here’s the menu:

  • Aged Cabot Cheese with apples, fig jam, balsamic glaze, and crostini
  • Spiced roasted brussels sprouts
  • Sweet potato puree with nutmeg and cinnamon
  • Ribeye steak with Quebec beef spice
  • Cornish Hen with bicentennial seasoning
  • Pork with bavarian style seasoning

We had a friend over and made a beer pairing tasting menu. Negra Modelo was served with the appetizer, followed by a taste of each protein with the sides. The beer and food was judged based on the flavor of each, whether the spices complemented the food, and if the beer paired well with each “course.” On to the tasting notes:

Negra Modelo (ABV: 5.4%)

Appearance: Dark caramel with a red hue

Aroma: Sweet scents with subtle scents of toast

Taste: Sweet malts give caramel flavor, biscuit flavor with light herbal and earthy tastes

Mouthfeel: Clean and crisp with lingering sweetness

Overall: A pleasant surprise, Negra Modelo provides more character than expected. While it is an InBev beer, I can forgive that if the brew offers some flavor. For a lager from Mexico, it offers the basic profile of a lager with extra sweetness of caramel and a toasty flavor as well. Tastes like it would pair well with fall foods. So here we go!

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