Lately I haven’t really had enough material to post one coherent blog post, so, I decided to share some of my disjointed beer experiences/observations with some sarcasm for your enjoyment. First, let’s focus on one of the worst beer and food combinations I have EVER experienced.
I’m serious. The worst part is the it involves one of my new favorite beers. Stone Espresso Russian Imperial Stout is sinfully dark and full of the boldest espresso flavor that I have ever experienced in a beer. It is the closest thing to liquid espresso that I have ever seen next to the real thing. It’s a classic engine oil black stout with a robust cream-colored head and espresso flavor and aroma everywhere. Now, what food did I eat with this beer? A beer with so much flavor that it should be impossible to topple with flavor? How about spicy garlic ginger chicken wings. Spicy, sweet, pungent food doesn’t go with espresso. It was weird and warped the flavor of the beer to give it a funky flavor and the roasted flavors just did nothing good for the wings. Ugh, sometimes the beer you are drinking with your food will just work out, and sometimes you end up experiencing frankenflavors that you didn’t know existed.
Now onto my new favorite beer drinking glass. The Dogfish Head/Sierra Nevada IPA glass. I had heard about this glass after the last collaboration the two breweries did (Rhizing Bines), and I have to say I was as skeptical as anyone could possibly be of a beer specific glass like this. A glass just to enhance the flavors of the IPA? Why was it that shape? Is this just a gimmick? The glass just felt like another attempt by a brewery to market itself with a glass. I did find it on the Dogfish website for 9 dollars a glass, so why not try it?
I love this glass. I didn’t want to, but I do. It’s great for IPAs The bottom of the glass has little indentations to create bubbles, the slim base with ridges helps to create more aeration while you drink, and the tulip part of the glass is lipped so your nose can peek inside the glass so you can smell the hops as you drink. I didn’t think it was possible, but I have been drinking so many more IPAs just because I have this amazing glass. If you are a person who loves a good IPA, this glass is for you. It isn’t a gimmick, all the work put into this glass really makes the beer better. The only drawback that I have heard from most beer experts is that the glass is made with very thin glass and is prone to breaking. It requires hand washing and must be treated like a fine wine glass. You could just use a fine wine glass to enjoy most beers but why would you?
The Mini Enamel Animal. I had been looking into beer infusions for a while. It might seem odd because shouldn’t the beer have enough flavor on its own? Yes, but it’s fun to experiment with new flavors in a beer without having to brew a version that you have been looking to try. If I want to try a watermelon cascade hop IPA, I can do that. I have read the recent articles that suggested using a french press, and it seems like a good idea, but I just couldn’t keep using my coffee source for beer. I use my french press every day, and its hard to fully clean all the time just to make one beer infusion. I get the idea of multi-tasking, but if you don’t clean the french press, you get a hint of coffee flavor in your beer that you might not be looking for. Frankly, I think you would need another french press just for beer, and that is just too much money.
That’s when I found this mini version of Randall the Enamel Animal. Randall, was a way to combat the intense west coast IPAs that have been coming out by filtering the beer through extra hops as it gets poured. The idea actually started with a water filter, and then Dogfish Head developed a machine specifically for this. I saw that they made this mini-version, and decided to give it a try.
Randall Jr. is cheap and allows me to have something specifically for beer infusions. I get that I have a french press, I also understand that Randall Jr. is a water bottle with a screen on it. I don’t care, this didn’t cost me much money, is easy to clean, and lets me combine fruit, beer and hops very easily.
How do you infuse beer? Just take some leftover fruit like some peaches, cut them up and drop them in with some extra hops and you can just pour the beer over. Cap the mixture and let it sit for 2o minutes in the fridge and you have a new fruity beer with some massive hop aroma on the nose. Hops can be found at local home-brew shops and they don’t cost more that a few dollars for a couple of ounces. There is one draw back to the infusion process that everyone should be aware of. The french press or the Randall filter the beer through a mesh strainer which compresses a lot of the carbonation out of the beer. This beer will be a lot flatter than it originally was pre-infusion. It will still have some crispness to it, but it will be more like drinking a cask beer that a fully carbonated beer. If this doesn’t bother you, I recommend trying this.
Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed these experiences. I will be making a trek up to two of the most influential breweries for me as a drinker this Summer (Sam Adams and DogFish Head). I will be posting about those later as well as some more homebrewing diaries.