Sunday, April 20, 2014

Chocolate Milk for Adults

Brewer-Odell Brewing Company

Beer- Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout

Style- Milk/ Sweet Stout

ABV- 8.50%

Description – Lugene pours pitch black with very subtle ruby highlights and a thick tan head that hangs around for quite some time but leaves behind a hefty lacing on the glass.  The aroma smells of sweet milks chocolate along with notes of coffee and roasted malts, it’s an aroma that almost causes one to drool.  The taste follows suite with the roasted malts washing over the palate first preparing you for the silky smooth milk chocolate that is to follow giving you a feeling of thick chocolate milk before the lingering semi-bitter chocolate flavor lingers behind.  The full body and medium carbonation are perfect for the style and create the incredibly smooth feel to this beer.  The 8.5% ABV is completely hidden with no alcohol heat coming through whatsoever, which is great but with a beer this delicious and drinkable it can be a bit dangerous!  An absolutely world class beer!

Food pairing – Desserts, desserts, desserts.  This without a doubt is an absolutely perfect dessert beer!  Sure you can pair this with some BBQ or oysters if you wish, but to truly see this beer shine go with decadent and heavy cream filled desserts!  Crème brûlée, fruit tarts, and cheesecake are all fabulous pairings with enough cream to add an extra layer of thickness to an already incredible stout.  If you are looking to enhance the lovely chocolate flavor from the beer try pairing with chocolate bundt cake, double chocolate fudge brownies, triple chocolate cake, or chocolate covered peanut butter brownies!  However, if you are truly looking to relive your youth with this amazing beer, than this is the beer to use as a beer float, so grab your favorite ice cream, I prefect fresh vanilla bean, but feel free to use coffee or chocolate flavored as well, and put a scoop in and enjoy, you can thank me later after you wipe off your beer stache!

The Final Word – If you are a fan of stouts, sweet or dry, this is one to add to your list of must try beers.  The chocolate is certainly present but not overly sweet or off-putting as some can be in this style.  Instead the chocolate enhances the depth and flavor within this beer.  This is truly chocolate milk for adults with all the rich and decadent flavors we remember as a child, but now we are grown up enough to really appreciate a flavor profile such as Lugene.  This is another must try beer from a must try brewery!


Where can I get it? -  Odell is not a nationally distributed brewery, however they are fairly available throughout the country.  To see if there beers are available near you check here

Keep It Running

Brewer-Odell Brewing Company
Beer- Runoff Red IPA

Style- American Amber/ Red Ale

ABV- 6.50%

Description – Odell’s Runoff Red pours a dark blood orange red with a frothy white head that leaves behind a very thick and beautiful lacing on the glass.  The aroma has notes of hops in the pine and citrus family with subtle honey and bread malts to provide a nice balance.  The taste follows suite with the nose with the sweet malts coming first mixed with piney hops and followed by hints of caramel before the citrus hops swoop in and leave you with a long dry finish to a fantastic beer.  The medium body and moderate carbonation are the perfect vessel for this beer that delivers in the hop category without overwhelming or fatiguing the palate.  The beer has an almost sparkling wine characteristic to it making for a very crisp and refreshing drinking experience. 

Food pairing – This is without a doubt a beer that is craving to be enjoyed with a wide variety of Mexican dishes: tacos, quesadillas, tamales, fajitas, huevos rancheros, chimichangas, chiles relleno, tostadas, panuchos, and on and on.  The spices are highlighted by the wonderful hop bite but quickly soothed with the wonderfully smooth body and malt bill.  This is also a great beer with non-spicy foods such as pork chops, roast beef, and fried chicken due to the malts.  The pleasing aspect this beer has going for itself over regular IPA’s is the wonderful malt profile and backbone, it allows this beer to withstand a wide variety of foods without being to filling, but still maintains a great balance.

The Final Word – I have never had a bad beer from Odell, there are very few breweries that I can make as bold of a statement about, but I completely stand by my statement.  They are a brewery that truly cares about brewing world class beers and it shows with each and every beer that exits the brewery.  While many breweries can get caught up in gimmicks Odell has simply stayed on a path of producing great beers and it is certainly paying off for them.  The only knock to Runoff Red IPA is that it is not available year round and is currently a seasonal available only between January and April,  If you are lucky enough to get your hands on this one or any of Odell’s beers, you will understand everything! 


Where can I get it? -  Odell is not a nationally distributed brewery, however they are fairly available throughout the country.  To see if there beers are available near you check here

What is a Porter?

Style: Porter (American and English)

Brief history: The background story of porter is a bit muddled due to the seemingly ever-changing history of the beer that is also directly tied to the history of stouts. The beer does not so much have a birth as it does a slow transition, rising as its own style from English brown ales. The style was also not initially called a porter; in fact, it did not have a name. Rather, it was about the popularity the beer had amongst river porters. The style also changed over the years, initially being produced using roasted malts, changing to all pale malts with burnt sugar for coloring, though very illegal. Soon in the early 1800s, a roasting machine was invented that could evenly roast all the malts for repeatability, giving way for the porter style to flourish. The English style grew in popularity and soon gained a fondness in America where, over time, the American Porter style developed. This style has a bit more hop presence when compared to English variations.

Standard characteristics: The style is malt-forward, with English brewers using very little hops while American brewers tend to be a bit heavier-handed with them. However, the beer should have perfect balance and not be overly cloying on the palate. The color is fairly dark, being brown to black in appearance. The typical ABV for this style ranges between 4.0 and 6.5 percent.

Nose: The aroma is filled with roasted malt scents, typically exemplified by bitter chocolate and coffee. There is usually little to no hop aroma, though American versions have subtle hop aroma, but it is very much a background note.

Body: The body is medium and can be medium-full in feel. Porters, especially those that classify themselves as “imperial porters,” can cross the line between porters and stouts in the body of the beer and can be very full. English style tends to have a creamier feel than the American varieties.

Taste: The strong roasted malt flavor is in the forefront of all porters, with many noting tastes of chocolate and coffee from the malts, especially in the English variations. Hops make a slight appearance on the palate if you pay close enough attention to the flavors, but they are not a dominant flavor.

Food pairing: Porter work very well with roasted and smoked food, barbeque dishes, and a wide variety of desserts, especially those that are chocolate-based.

Recommendations: Porters are very approachable for anyone, whether they are new or used to the full-flavored craft beer styles. The porter style is one that nearly all breweries have some variation of on their beer list, so there is certainly no shortage of available porters to try. Here are a few recommendations to get you started:

Deschutes Brewery: Black Butte Porter

Samuel Smith: Famous Taddy Porter

Founders Brewing Company: Founders Porter

Sierra Nevada: Porter

Fuller’s: London Porter

Odell Brewing Company: Cutthroat Porter

Stone Brewing Co.: Stone Smoked Porter

Great Lakes Brewing Co.: Edmund Fitzgerald Porter

Anchor: Porter

Smuttynose Brewing Company: Smuttynose Robust Porter

Ballast Point Brewing Company: Victory at Sea Imperial Porter

Now in Session

As we continue the transition from the freezing cold winter into the spring thaw-out, we have emerged from our blanket cocoons and now have some work to get done around the house. This means less sitting around and more moving around and, unfortunately, our heavier and higher ABV beers that we enjoy during the winter months may interfere with these plans. Thankfully, many craft brewers have been hard at work brewing full-flavored lighter ABV session beers.

For many years, craft beer lovers have been asking brewers to make session beers. This was mainly due to the fact that if craft beer lovers go out for a night of drinking with non-craft beer drinking friends, it typically would lead to some conflict; craft beer drinkers have chosen quality over quantity, and this normally leads to ending the evening earlier.

Session beers are beers that are lighter in alcohol, typically between three and five percent ABV, but this range can vary depending on the drinker and who is writing about the topic. The reason it is referred to as a “session beer” has some historical roots that date back to England during WWI, when drinking “sessions” were allotted. Many English beers, such as the English Mild or Bitter, are lower in alcohol and fall well into the category of session beer. Somewhere along history the term “session beer” came into being used as it is today.

It stands to reason that many British brewers have long been brewing session beers, and you can see this on the shelves at your favorite beer shop: Guinness, Harp, Newcastle Brown, Samuel Smith Taddy Porter, and Bass Pale Ale all fall well within the limits of what would be deemed a session beer.

However, many American breweries have adapted these English styles, typically making them more flavorful and with a higher ABV, with resounding success. Now the demand has gone the opposite route and American craft brewers are once again answering the call.

The biggest difficulty brewers face with brewing these beers is to keep the intense flavors while restraining the ABV and maintaining a solid balance within the beer; this can be much more difficult than many of us realize. Thankfully, breweries such as Stone Brewing Co., with its new Go To IPA, have been able to create beers that pack an intense flavor and keep the ABV at an incredible 4.5 percent.

There is no end to great fully-flavored beers that fall into the session category, but brewers have been targeting this category as of late with fantastic results. These are some brews that are five percent ABV or under to try: Founders Brewing: All Day I.P.A.; Tröegs Brewing Company: Sunshine Pils; Dogfish Head Brewery: Festina Pêche; Wolaver’s: Wildflower Wheat; Yards Brewing Company: Brawler; Stone Brewing Co.,: Levitation; Sam Adams: Escape Route; and Deschutes Brewery: Mirror Pond Pale Ale.

Any of these beers are going to give a lot of flavor and the enjoyment that you want from your beer, while still allowing you to do some of the work around your house that you have been putting off during the cold winter months.

Hardcore Fans Only

Beer: Hardcore IPA

Brewer: BrewDog

Style: American Double/Imperial IPA

ABV: 9.20%

Description: BrewDog’s Hardcore IPA pours a murky amber orange color with slightly off-white head that does not linger too long, but leaves behind a very thick lacing on the glass. The aroma is a perfect balance of hop dominance and sweet malts. The hop aroma is primarily towards the floral end of the spectrum, with subtle citrus notes of grapefruit and orange. The sweet caramel malt aroma makes for an even more inviting beer. The taste follows the nose with hop bitterness attacking up front and aggressively, but very quickly the sweet malts wash over and soothe and relax the palate before the perfect long and dry finish. The surprisingly thick mouthfeel is absolutely perfect to hold the hop bill in check, and the medium carbonation is everything you could want from a DIPA. The 9.2 percent ABV is shockingly absent, so keep it in mind as you drink this world-class beer!

Food pairing: Double IPAs are perfect with spicy foods, and Hardcore IPA is no exception; it would find itself perfectly at home when paired with a variety of Mexican dishes. The spices will bring forth the large amount of hops within the beer, but the sweet and soothing malt bill will cleanse and relax the palate in between bites and leave a perfectly dry finish without any cloying tastes lingering behind. The amazingly sweet malt bill also makes this a great beer to pair with desserts, something that one would not typically think of when discussing IPAs. Nevertheless, pairing Hardcore IPA with creamy desserts such as gelato, ice cream, or crème brûlée are absolute no-brainers when you sit down and enjoy these pairings. The malt bill comes across as an additional topping for the dessert, while the hops add a wonderful layer of depth within. Hardcore IPA is certainly a workhorse beer and can handle a wide variety of dishes, so feel free to experiment with this one!

The final word: BrewDog is a brewery that has gained its reputation on bold beers and bold statements; after all, they produced a beer called Sink the Bismarck! That came in at 41 percent ABV, but that was not enough. They also brewed a beer called The End of History that was packaged in a taxidermy squirrel and had an ABV of 55 percent! Needless to say, BrewDog is not afraid to experiment, which is something you can see firsthand on its Esquire TV show “Brew Dogs” and that you can also directly taste in Hardcore IPA. The lab results for this beer state that Hardcore IPA finishes at 150 IBUs, so this is certainly not one to try if you are new to the IPA style, but hopheads will absolutely love it! Hardcore IPA is another must-try beer for craft beer and IPA devotees!


Where can I get it? This is a bit trickier in that BrewDog does not have great tracking for their beers in the USA yet.  However, they are imported by Anchor Brewing now which is great and has made their beers a bit easier to find on shelves,  Your best bet to search this one down at this current moment is here

Monday, April 14, 2014

Porter Perfected

Beer: Founders Porter

Brewer: Founders Brewing Company

Style: American Porter

ABV: 6.50%

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.

Your New Go To

Beer: Go To IPA

Brewer: Stone Brewing Co.

Style: American IPA

ABV: 4.50%

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.