Monday, April 14, 2014
Beer: Founders Porter
Brewer: Founders Brewing Company
Style: American Porter
Description: Founders Porter pours a deep dark brown color with a thick tan head that recedes fairly quickly and leaves behind very little lacing. The aroma explodes forth with notes of chocolate and coffee from the roasted malts, with a slight hint of piney hops in the background. The bittersweet chocolate and coffee flavors hit up front, followed by a pleasant yet very subtle hop bite before finishing nice and dry. The medium-full body and low carbonation certainly give this beer the feeling of a stout, but it does have a bit less of the filling feeling that stouts can give off. This incredibly smooth and easy-drinking porter is easily one of the best American porters available on the market today.
Food pairing: A good porter is a very versatile beer and can work with dinners and desserts just the same, which is certainly the case with Founders Porter. Try pairing this brew with roasted pig, pork chops, or even roasted pork barbecue; the malt bill will highlight the wonderful caramel flavors that are given off from well-roasted pork, while the subtle hop background adds an extra flavor depth to an already delicious pairing. If you are looking for something a little less involved, try pairing with a burger. Don’t go overboard with the toppings or you can dissipate the wonderful match-up between the beef and the beer. Sticking around for a while? There is no need to switch beers as you move to dessert, as this porter has it handled! Pair this beer with chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookies, or even coffee cake. This porter is definitely a workhorse and will add a ton of flavor to any dish without being too heavy on the palate.
The Final Word: Simply stated, Founders is a brewery that brews incredible beers and one should expect nothing less from it; this porter is yet another incredible beer. The popularity explosion that has occurred in the craft beer realm with IPAs seems to have left many fantastic styles behind in the minds of the casual beer drinker, with porter being one of those styles. However, if someone unfamiliar with the style were given a Founders Porter, there is no doubt that they would quickly realize the incredible beer that they are pushing off to the side to have yet another hoppy beer. The body and fullness of this porter is one that walks the thin line between porters and stouts, but walks it with confidence.
Where can I get it? Currently available in 12-ounce bottles at J & H Beer- Plains Township, PA; Krugel’s Georgetown Deli & Beer- Wilkes-Barre, PA; Exit 190 Beer Deli- Dickson City, PA; and Arena Bar & Grill- Wilkes-Barre, PA.
Available on draft at Jack’s Draft House- Scranton, PA.
For a complete listing check here.
Beer: Go To IPA
Brewer: Stone Brewing Co.
Style: American IPA
Description: Go To IPA pours a crystal clear golden yellow with fluffy white head that maintains some retention and leaves a trace of lacing behind. The aroma is dominated by hops with strong notes of grapefruit coming through up front, something many Stone IPA drinkers have grown accustomed to over the years. Behind this there are subtle notes of fresh oranges and pine, with very little malt coming through in the aroma. The taste is dominated by hops again with grapefruit attacking up front backed with other tropical fruits, finishing with a much understated sweet malt before coming to a perfectly dry finish. The moderate carbonation is perfect for the style and the body is a bit on the thinner side – just how it should be for a sessionable beer. Stone Brewing Co. has brewed yet another fantastic IPA, and this time it is lower in alcohol and perfect for a night out with friends, proof that less alcohol does not mean less flavor.
Food pairing: The lighter body of this beer makes it slightly different to pair with foods than one typically pairs with IPAs; the strong hop flavor and aroma definitely pack a punch. This beer pairs perfectly well with a large variety of dishes, ranging from appetizers to main courses, such as simple tortilla chips and salsa or Cajun shrimp for appetizers. As for the main course, try pairing it with jerk chicken, Thai noodles with spicy peanut sauce, or a Moroccan dish such as chicken tagine with pine nut couscous. The spices within these dishes will meld perfectly with the kick from the hops, and the beer still has enough malt backbone to soothe the palate between sips.
The Final Word: Stone Brewing Co. has built a reputation on aggressive beers with its over-the-top hopped-up Ruination or bold and aggressive Double Bastard; it makes no apologies for their aggressive takes on a variety of styles. However, Stone Brewing Co. has now made a beer that is both aggressive in taste, but a bit more reserved in ABV, something many craft beer lovers have been demanding for a number of years. The difficulty involved in brewing a beer with this much hop flavor but with only 4.5 percent ABV may be lost on the casual drinker, but those in the know are aware that this is no easy task. A beer this light can easily show off flavors or quickly become unbalanced, yet Stone Go To IPA is not only a fantastic American, but is also one of the best sessionable beers available in today’s market.
Where can I get it? Currently available in 12-ounce bottles at: J & H Beer- Plains Township, PA; Exit 190 Beer Deli- Dickson City, PA; Krugel’s Georgetown Deli & Beer- Wilkes-Barre, PA; and Wegmans- Wilkes-Barre, PA. A more complete listing can be found here.
Beer: Hop Ranch
Brewer: Victory Brewing Company
Style: American Double/Imperial IPA
Description: Hop Ranch pours a hazy golden straw color with bright white creamy head and decent head retention that doesn’t linger too long, but leaves a thick spotty lacing on the glass. The aroma is a hop explosion with citrus notes being on display through grapefruit, lemon zest, and pineapple dominating with ever-so-subtle hints of a sweet malt backbone wafting through. The taste backs up the nose with the hops displaying a citrus and tropical fruit bomb, being dominated by mango, pineapple, and grapefruit up front before the sweet malt washes over, subduing any harsh hop bite. The medium body and mild carbonation work in perfect tandem to cleanse the palate in between sips. This is certainly a beer with a huge hop presence but very little harsh hop bite that still manages to have a semi-dry finish. Simply a textbook example of a DIPA!
Food pairing: Hop Ranch is a DIPA that can stand up to nearly anything you throw at it. The body and strong hops give it staying power, but this is a beer that pairs very well with a wide array of standard American foods. Try pairing this with a juicy cheeseburger and do not hold back on the toppings one bit; the spicier the better, as the hops will add a layer of subtlety to the topping while the malt bill will seamlessly melt into the meat. Also try pairing with hot wings. Again, the spicier the better, as the beer will both enhance the spice up front but subdue it on the back end with the sweetness from the malt bill. Hop Ranch also pairs well with spicy Mexican, Thai, and Indian dishes and is a great match with your next pizza. This truly is a workhorse beer and can pair extremely well with a huge array of foods, so feel free to experiment with this one!
The Final Word: Victory Brewing Company is no stranger to hoppy beers and has been brewing them even before they were fashionable; see Hop Devil. Victory has hit two homeruns in the DIPA department as of late with DirtWolf and now Hop Ranch. This is a beer that, despite being very heavy-handedly hopped, still maintains a thick juicy quality that makes it fairly approachable for those new to craft beer. The use of the new hop Azacca combined with the growingly popular Mosaic hop have a deliciously juicy and creamy IPA that still maintains perfect balance and a fairly dry finish. This is a DIPA that will quickly move towards the top of your favorite IPA list!
Where can I get it? Currently available in 12 oz. bottles at: Armetta’s Pizzeria- Clarks Summit, PA; Exit 190 Beer Deli- Dickson City, PA; Backyard Ale House- Scranton, PA; Dooley’s Pub & Eatery- Old Forge, PA; and Wegmans- Wilkes-Barre, PA.
For more availability check here.
Beer: Fresh Squeezed IPA
Brewer: Deschutes Brewery
Style: American IPA
Description: Fresh Squeezed IPA pours a deep amber copper with a frothy white head that sticks around for some time and leaves behind a thick web of lacing on the glass. Hops of course dominate the aroma with strong notes of citrus, peach, mango, kiwi, and oranges balanced with delicate notes of sweet malt. The taste is also dominated by hops up front again, dominated by a wide fruit bouquet: pears, kiwis, and citrus fruits are balanced against a wonderfully sweet, almost toffee-like malt bill to provide an absolute perfect balance. The moderate carbonation and mouthfeel provide the perfect vessel for all the delicate flavors within this fantastic beer. While it may tend to be a bit sweeter than most IPAs, the balance is certainly present, and this is a highly drinkable and enjoyable beer from a world-class brewery!
Food Pairing: While the standard pairing of IPAs with spicier dishes still rings true with Fresh Squeezed IPA – Mexican, Indian, or Thai food are all great – the subtleties within this beer give way to some more delicate pairings. The sweetness from the malt is fantastic with pork dishes, such as a pulled pork taco, braised ribs, or savory brisket. The caramelization from the meat and sauce seamlessly melt into the malt, while the hops then truly make their appearance and cleanse the palate, leaving behind the delicious citrus notes. Another great pairing is with a simple mozzarella and prosciutto sandwich topped with tapenade; the wide combination of flavors creates an experience unto itself!
The Final Word: Deschutes Brewery has worked hard to gain the stellar reputation that it now enjoys. It is certainly a brewery that many proclaim “has never made a bad beer,” and with beers like Fresh Squeezed IPA, this statement is certainly true! The unbelievable freshness of the hops balanced against the wonderfully sweet malt bill is an extremely pleasant surprise and is a very easy-drinking beer. The love of IPAs continues to flourish with many drinkers looking for the next great IPA to try, and this is certainly another to add to that list. We are lucky enough to have Deschutes Brewery attending the Beer Geek Festival and even luckier to know that this world-class beer will also be poured. An absolute must-have for IPA fans!
Where can I get it? Check for availability through Deschutes website here
Saturday, February 22, 2014
The Beer Geek Festival is happening! The information is listed above, as far as breweries, we are bringing the best of the best as this is a PREMIUM beer festival! Here's a short list of those breweries involved:
Stone Brewing Co.
Vanberg & DeWulf
3 Guys & a Beer'd
and so many more!
If you live anywhere near Northeastern PA this is a MUST attend beer festival.
Follow the Beer Geeks Radio website BeerGeeksRadio.com for continual update or on the FaceBook page under Beer Geeks Radio Hour, or on the Twitter @BeerGeeksRadio
Tickets are available at select locations throughout the area or directly at Montage Mountain!
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Brewer: Southern Tier Brewing Company
Style: American Double/Imperial Stout
Description: Southern Tier’s Choklat pours the blackest of black with a tan head that does not hang around too long, but leaves a nice lacing on the glass. The aroma can be summarized with one word: chocolate. The taste backs up the nose completely and is dominated by chocolate. There is a perfect balance within the chocolate, though, so that it does not become too bittersweet and instead manages to be extremely smooth and easy-drinking. The body is full, extremely smooth, and also manages to hide the 10 percent ABV. A word of warning: this is definitely a sipper! Southern Tier Choklat is certainly as deep, rich, and decadent as any box of chocolate.
Food pairing: Upon your first whiff of this beer, let alone sip, it is quite obvious that this is one heavy-hitting dessert brew! Choklat is a beer that you really should hang onto until the final course and crack open to share with the heaviest and creamiest of sweets, as it certainly has enough heft to hold up to all of them. If you are looking for a simple yet elegant pairing, try having Choklat with fresh cannolis. The fresher and creamier the better, as the mascarpone cheese adds another layer of flavor and body to the beer while the beer seamlessly blends into the cheese and leaves the palate refreshed and ready for more. Also try pairing this with rich and creamy strawberry shortcake – the heavier the cream the better. However, if you are looking for a straightforward pairing, here’s what to do: get a pint of your favorite organic vanilla bean ice cream and put one scoop into a glass of Choklat. That’s it, and you can thank me later!
The final word: Southern Tier’s Choklat truly is a beer that has something for everyone. It is smooth and heavy enough on the chocolate that even the casual beer drinker could sit and sip this one for hours, but it is also very rich and complex and leaves the craft beer enthusiast satisfied. The incredibly smooth characteristic of this beer is what makes it so highly drinkable, not to mention the over-the-top chocolate goodness! Southern Tier has really carved out a niche for themselves by not only creating imperial versions of many beers but, more importantly, creating imperial versions that are phenomenal. Choklat is a fantastic stout to have on hand this Valentine’s Day, but is also just a great stout to have on hand any time of the year.
Where can I get it? Currently available in 22 oz. bottles at: J & H Beer- Wilkes-Barre, PA; Backyard Ale House- Scranton, PA; Wegmans- Wilkes-Barre, PA; Exit 190 Beer Deli- Dickson City, PA; and Arena Bar and Grill- Wilkes-Barre, PA. Available on draft at Backyard Ale House- Scranton, PA.
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Style: Black IPA or Cascadian Dark Ale
Brief history: The history is somewhat disputed, but it can be directly tied to legendary and sadly missed brewer Greg Noonan from the Vermont Pub & Brewery. Back in 1994, Greg began brewing a new beer called Blackwatch IPA, though he named the style of the beer Cascadian Dark Ale. The popularity was immense and the beer gained a cult following. In 2006, Stone Brewing Co. head brewer Mitch Steele tried Blackwatch IPA and was blown away, and he openly admits that the beer was the inspiration for Stone’s Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale, the beer that is considered a frontrunner and flagship beer for the style. The biggest dispute with this beer style is the name, with purists calling it Cascadian Dark Ale and many others simply calling it a Black IPA. Regardless of the debate, the style has continued to grow in popularity with many breweries now offering a take on the style.
Standard characteristics: The Black IPA has the appearance of a robust porter in both beer color and tan frothy head, along with a medium-to-full body. The aroma is dominated by hops up front, which can run the gamut of any variety of hop bouquets. The background notes are of roasted malts, giving the beer a smooth characteristic in body and mouthfeel, imparting a creamy hop characteristic on the palate. The key to this style is a perfect balance between malt and hop. The ABV for this style has a huge range, going from five percent to 10 percent ABV. This is a relatively new style and is very open to interpretation and experimentation.
Nose: The aroma is dominated by hops, which can lead to a wide spectrum of detectable aromas. With Black IPAs, brewers tend to lean away from aggressively citrusy hops and opt more for pine, floral, resiny hops, although the style is open to interpretation. The notes of roasted malts, which can emanate aromas of bitter chocolate and dark roasted coffee, act as background notes.
Body: The body is similar to porters, leaning more towards the medium-to-full range with a moderate amount of carbonation, but a wide variation is acceptable. This combination gives the beer a smoother character than traditional IPAs mainly due to the malt choices.
Taste: The taste is where this style truly shines and separates itself from other beers. The hop bite is present throughout and generally hits the palate first. The malt profile soothes the hop bite and cleanses the palate with rich roasted malts, giving subtle hints of coffee and bitter chocolate, both enhancing and subduing the hops. The beer should have a dry finish, as with all IPAs.
Food pairing: The combination of aggressive hops and roasted malts make this the perfect beer to have with all red meats. Try pairing with a porterhouse steak, venison, and elk steaks. The malt profile enhances the mineral quality of the meat and highlights the flavor, while the hops will immediately cut through and leave a pleasant aftertaste on the palate. Some in this style can be paired with desserts, but experiment a bit with this pairing.
Recommendations: Black IPAs are an acquired taste for some, but if you are familiar with and love IPAs and darker beers, than this is a style that must be tried. Some of the best currently available are:
• Black Diamond IPA- Breaker Brewing Company
• Black Racer- Bear Republic
• Back in Black- 21st Amendment
• Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale- Stone Brewing Co.
• DevESTATEtion Black IPA- Sierra Nevada
• Black Hatter- New Holland
• Mountain Standard Double Black IPA- Odell Brewing
• Firestone Walker- Wookey Jack
• Durty- Smuttynose
• New World Porter- Avery Brewing Company