Weekend in Vermont: Beer, Beef, and Light Firearms

June 9, 2010

Mr. JK has a second home near Bellows Falls, Vermont.   The house is the oldest home in the county.  It has a fully modern kitchen, a pool, all sorts of grilling and smoking devices,  and it is situated a stone’s throw from the Connecticut River.  Mr. JK tries to organize a ‘Boy’s Weekend’ in the spring and the fall, and invites friends, colleagues from work, random passerby on the street, etc.  The 2010 Spring Weekend was a few weeks back.  Unfortunately, everyone Mr. JK invited crapped out on him except for the V-Man and me, so it was just the three of us.

Being in Vermont is wonderful, but getting to Vermont is a royal pain in the ass.  For reasons that no one can adequately explain, the V-Man and I left Jersey City at about 2 p.m. on Friday afternoon, with Mr. JK taking the train to New Haven.  We were going to pick him up there when he got off the train shortly after 4 p.m. and continue on to Vermont.  That plan did not survive first contact with the enemy.  The V-Man and I hit the Merritt Parkway at which point we came to a dead stop.  We never got above twenty miles per hour, and even though Connecticut is a small state, it takes forever to cross it if you are constantly braking your car.  Things got so bad that I picked out a fat bald guy smoking a cigar in his Audi convertible, and told the V-Man that I wanted to grab the tire iron from the trunk and beat the crap out of “that smug asshole.”  The V-Man is as even keeled and as level-headed as anyone I have ever known, and even he thought it was a pretty good idea.  Good God, we hated that guy, smoking his stogie with his stubby pink fingers, while he jibber-jabbered on his cell phone, no doubt locking in another obscene bonus with our bailout money.* Read the rest of this entry »

A Stout Weekend

April 12, 2010

Despite it being the warmest weekend of this young year, when my thoughts usually turn to hefeweizens and saisons, I grabbed a few different stouts this weekend.  I chose one stout billed as having a coffee flavor, and one with a chocolate taste.

First up was the Coffee Stout, part of the Brewer’s Reserve Series from Vermont’s Long Trail Brewing Company.  There was absolutely no head at all on this deep, dark pour.  Although this is brewed using Vermont Coffee Company Dark Roast coffee beans, specially roasted for Long Trail, the first thing I noticed in the aroma and the taste was chocolate.  There was a slight coffee aftertaste on this, which as it warmed tasted somewhat like cola.  This was a smooth drinking beer even with an 8% ABV.  I give it a 6.5/10.

The Dragonstooth Stout from Elysian Brewing is brewed with rolled oats, roasted barley and chocolate malts, with centennial and cascade hops to give it some bite.  The first thing I noticed on this beer was the taste of dark coffee, with a hint of cocoa in the background, along with some smoke.  The hops are prominent in the aftertaste.  This poured with a frothy cappuccino colored head, which lasted to the bottom of the glass.  Not as smooth as the Coffee Stout, but I liked the hoppy bitterness.  7/10.

To sum up, the Coffee Stout tasted chocolatey to me, and the chocolate stout tasted like coffee.  There is a good chance that I have no idea what I am talking about.

A Tale of Two Bourbon Cask Aged Imperial Stouts

April 5, 2010

I spent an enjoyable afternoon this weekend at the Blind Tiger Alehouse in New York.  They recently had an event for Dick’s Brewing Company from Washington State, so more than half the taps were given over to Dick’s beers.  This is not a bad thing, as most of the beers I tried were superb, with special focus on the cask conditioned IPA and the Dry-Hopped Mountain Amber.  Both were hoppy and flowery, and as smooth drinking as they come.

The first beer on the board that I noticed was the Imperial Stout aged in a Bourbon Oak Cask.  I decided to try that one last, figuring that it would be a strongly flavored beer that might blow out my taste buds, leaving everything else tasting thin and lifeless.  While I was working my way through the other beers, a keg kicked and they tapped the Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, which is also aged in oak bourbon barrels.  As I could now do a side by side comparison, my beer dorkiness was at an elevated level.

First up was the offering from Dick’s.  My drunkenly scribbled notes start off with “Holy Shit! Fantastic!”  This beer was smooth as silk, with perfectly balanced vanilla and oak in the aroma and the taste.  A fantastic beer, as good as I have had in ages.  9.5/10.

The Goose Island was not quite as good, though if I had not just had the Dick’s to compare it to, I’d probably give it the same superlatives.  The same oak and vanilla flavors were there, but they were overly aggressive and overpowered any subtler flavors this beer may have had.  Do you remember how Nigel Tufnel’s amps went to 11? The Goose Island Bourbon County Stout may “go to 11” but I am giving it an 8/10.

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