beer: narragansett summer ale

Ryan Hudak of In Search of Beer is back to review Narragansett’s summer ale.

This summer, I’ve been trying to do three things: run at least four times a week, try to avoid leaving air conditioning at all costs, and explore lighter, more refreshing summer beers. While I’ve been having mild success with the first two (they don’t really go hand-in-hand, after all), I’ve been able to make a lot of headway on the third item. Oddly enough, one of my discoveries came as I was blatantly ignoring #2 on my list and camping.

The Narragansett Summer Ale, from Rhode Island, is a light, crisp and clean blonde ale that doesn’t overwhelm in any sense. It’s 4.2% ABV allows you to “refresh” yourself multiple times throughout the day while the citra hops lend the flavor of grapefruit and citrus. These flavors blend perfectly with the pale malts to give you a laid back and refreshing beer that’s not only highly drinkable, but highly affordable ($26.99 for a case of 18-oz cans).

When the weather has been such that you break a sweat just opening the front door to get your mail, the last thing you want to be drinking is anything that reminds you of thick chocolate milk or bitter hop syrup. Keep it light and keep the alcohol low and you’ll have a much better time than if you were sitting in the sun drinking a 14% barleywine—trust me, I’ve already made that mistake this year.

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monk’s cafe – lost abbey beer dinner

Guest blogger Erin is back to recap her experience at last Tuesday’s Lost Abbey beer dinner at Monk’s Cafe.

Tuesday night, I was lucky enough to attend Monk’s annual beer dinner with Lost Abbey’s Tomme Arthur. I first discovered (and loved) Lost Abbey’s beers last year, and on a trip to California in August, was able to visit the brewery and sample plenty of their Belgian-inspired brews. When I heard that Monk’s was hosting a Lost Abbey dinner, I knew I didn’t want to miss out.

The dinner started off with a fluke and smoked scallop ceviche, with just a touch of jalapeno, and was paired with Devotion, one of Lost Abbey’s year round beers. Devotion is one of their more hoppy beers, and it went really nicely with the heat from the ceviche.

Next up was a duck confit spring roll with a cherry dipping sauce, and paired with Cuvee de Tomme (which was also used in the cherry sauce). This is a big brown beer, (11%!) which is fermented and then sits in bourbon barrels for a year with sour cherries and wild Brettanomyces yeast. The end product is a complex beer with strong raisin, cherry and sugar flavors coming through. I thought this was the star pairing of the night. The roll was perfectly crisp, and the flavors of the beer really complimented the duck.

The third course lightened things up a bit. Lost Abbey’s Carnevale, a bright saison ale, was paired with a chicken roulade of ham, spinach, goat cheese, pesto, and mushroom sauce. The roulade was a really nice blend of flavors, and the pesto packed an herbacious punch that was balanced by the gravy.

Course four was definitely the boldest pairing of the night. The beer was a strong golden ale called Gift of the Magi, a seasonal winter offering, and was paired with a massive lamb shank. When I say massive, this thing was HUGE. Braised with Gift of the Magi, it was served with carrot, turnips, onions, and parsnips. The beer was a good match for the strong gamey flavor of the lamb.

Next was a cheese and beer pairing. The cheeses were L’Amuse Gouda from The Netherlands, two years aged with hints of caramel and vanilla, and Lauren’s Pride, a house made raw cow’s milk cheese washed with Deliverance, the accompanying beer. Deliverance is another big beer (12.5%), and is a blend of bourbon barrel-aged Serpent’s Stout and brandy barrel-aged Angels Share. The booziness of this beer was balanced out by the cheese, and even tempered the pungent Lauren’s Pride.

The final course was a warm apple pie topped with extra sharp NY cheddar, and paired with my favorite beer of the night, Red Poppy. Red Poppy is a brown ale that is blended with sour cherries and aged in oak barrels with wild Brettanomyces yeast, resulting in a deliciously sour beer. The sweet apples and buttery, flaky crust complimented the tartness of this brew.

The meal was really enjoyable, and Tomme popped in around each course to talk about the pairings, his history, and love of Monk’s. If you haven’t checked out Monk’s or Lost Abbey, I highly recommend both.

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beer: wagner valley sled dog doppelbock

Today’s guest post is by my good friend and homebrewer, Erin Mulrooney.

While wine touring last fall in the Finger Lakes of upstate New York, one of the stops brought me to Wagner Vineyards, which also has its own brewing company. I first tried Sled Dog in their tasting room, and enjoyed it so much that I bought a few six packs to bring home with me.

Sled Dog pours a medium caramel color, and is extremely effervescent with fairly large bubbles and a small head that dissipates quickly. The aroma from this beer contains rich notes of caramel, and almost no bitterness.

Doppelbocks are known for being extremely malty and having a fairly high ABV, and Sled Dog does not disappoint. Weighing in at 8.5%, I was surprised at how smoothly this beer drinks, with very little alcohol taste. When I initially tried this beer, I was with my grandfather (who is not a big beer drinker), and even he commented on the smoothness. In addition to the ever-present caramel, you also get a pretty big dose of molasses in the flavor. With more sips, I started to notice the sticky quality that such a malty beer like this has – it actually stayed on my palate after finishing the beer. Despite the initial effervescence, it is almost nonexistent throughout the drinking of this beer.

Sled Dog is an enjoyable beer, especially if Doppelbock is a new style for you. It isn’t the kind of beer that you’d want to have a few of in one evening, mostly due to the stickiness, but it does make for a good pint on a cold night. If you ever find yourself in the Finger Lakes, I’d recommend a stop at Wagner to sample the other beers they produce in addition to Sled Dog.

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beer: charleville hoptimistic ipa

Today I finally open my blog up for a guest post. Friend and fellow blogger Ryan Hudak of In Search of Beer offered to write a beer post for me.

Being that Brian’s blog here has “beer” in the title but not really in the posts anymore, I thought I would help out and donate a little beeriness (more of which can be found on my blog, In Search of Beer). I received this particular beer, from Charleville Vineyard and Microbrewery in Missouri, in a beer exchange with a fellow blogger. I wanted something I wouldn’t be able to get at home, and this certainly fit the bill.

The beer poured dark orange with a thick, foamy yellowish head. It had a very soothing, floral, and piney hop smell that didn’t hint at much bitterness.

But, the bitterness was certainly there, and almost overpoweringly so. The first few sips were surprising, as the smell didn’t hint at this much bitterness. Underneath, though was a strong citrus flavor, but also a slight soapy flavor.

The beer would have benefitted from more balance. There was a subtle maltiness that could have been stronger to help with the bitterness of the hops. More balance would’ve elevated this IPA from good to great. If I ever go to St. Louis, I would order this again if there was nothing else, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to find it.

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