Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sam Adams Noble Pils

Tasters at Beer Lover Choice, an event hosted by Samuel Adams, voted for the Noble Pils brew in such overwhelming numbers that the brewers at Sam Adams decided to make it their new Spring Seasonal beer. You’ve heard from the commercial, or could maybe assume from its name that this new spring offering is hopped with a blend of all 5 Noble Hop varieties.

It’s golden in color and is an average 5.2% ABV. My first thoughts were simple, I really liked it. It has a light body with no overwhelming flavors. The hops lend a nice herbal, earthy character (which I guess translates to, "It kind of tastes a little grassy" but not in a bad way). Also, although not sweet, it does have some honey flavors.

In general, it is a pretty subdued and refreshing brew that would best be enjoyed while lounging in the beautiful spring sun. I enjoyed it much more than the old White Ale Spring Seasonal, but it still is released too early and is already being replaced by Summer Ale even though we’re less than a week into the spring season. No matter how much I think about it, I cannot understand why Sam Adams has us drinking Winter Ale in October, a Spring Seasonal in January, and Summer Ale in March. Is it a Miss Cleo predicting the future? A play on consumer impatience? Or is it a rogue groundhog deciding when seasons begin and end?

Either way, drink up while you still can!


Friday, March 19, 2010

Guinness vs. Murphy's

Full of St. Patrick's Day spirit we decided to compare Guinness Draught to Murphy's Irish Stout. Both beers are in the Dry Stout variety pouring a beautiful chocolate milk color that's mesmerizing to watch as it settles to a near black with a rich creamy head. That's because both of these beers contain nitrogen as well as a low level of carbonation. The characteristic smooth taste is also a result of the nitrogen.

Guinness, as we all know, tastes of sweet roasted malt, toffee, coffee, cocoa and iron followed by a briefly bitter finish. I think it's delicious and many consider it the Irish Stout by which to judge all others. We put Murphy's to the test. It's very similar to Guinness but both of us found it to improve on everything we liked about Guinness. It was richer, creamier, smoother and tastier. Unfortunately we're sad to say it's owned by Heineken.

Guinness vs. Murphy's?

Murphy's Wins.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Taco Bell Five Buck Box.

The five buck box,
It rocks, it rocks.
It rocks for a jock,
It rocks for a fox.
It rocks for a meal that’ll give you the trots.

You’ve seen the commercial. You’ve seen a red-velvet-bathrobe-wearing Charles Barkley enter a phone booth, and come out the other side in a bizarre Taco Bell-themed universe (not to mention no longer wearing a red velvet bathrobe). You’ve debated whether he’s talking or rapping as he’s greeted by “a guy with dreadlocks,” the Nets mascot, cheerleaders, paparazzi, a decrepit red carpet reporter, and Lamar Odom for some reason. You’re left puzzled. You don’t know what to think. This commercial is “Green Eggs and Ham” meets “The Round Mound of Rebound.” As you can tell, I’ve seen this commercial roughly 100,000 times; and I always watch it in its entirety. I just can’t look away. It’s absolutely baffling, beautifully absurd, and I’m still trying to figure out if Barkley wrote it himself. It’s just mesmerizing.

In fact, Taco Bell in general has always had a special place in my heart. It just makes me laugh for some reason. Next time you see me, mention Taco Bell, and see if I don’t start grinning like an idiot. It could be the restaurant’s silly name, or the fact that it just invents Mexican foods by throwing extra layers of cheese and tortillas on things. It could be the fact that people just seem to be intimidated by it. But the fact remains: no other fast food restaurant combines LDLs and comedy in such equal measure. That’s why I was particularly giddy for Food Plus Beer’s next mission: Barkley’s own 5-Buck Box.

I was already in full giggle mode as we pulled into the Taco Bell drive-thru. This is where we learned that there are actually 2 versions of the 5-Buck Box: The Cheesy Gordita Crunch version, and the Volcano Taco version. Despite the fact that we both love spicy food, we chose the former, because that’s the one Barkley rapped about (plus, we planned on using copious amounts of Hot Sauce packets anyway). The total came to 10.60, making the 5-Buck Box really the 5.30-Box, but now we’re talking semantics. We were handed our food – in a bag.

What!? A bag? Points marked off! Points marked way off!

I'm looking...but I don't see no box.

The five buck bag.
It’s sad, it’s sad.
It’s sad for a dad,
It’s sad for a lad.
It’s sad for a promotion that really doesn’t follow through on its namesake taco-delivery vessel.

It was a bummer, but not enough to throw me off my giddiness altogether. Not only was our food in a bag, but it wasn’t branded with NBA stuff as I’d also hoped. I wanted to see which players were roped into appearing on a 16-ounce Taco Bell soda cup. LeBron? Kobe? Ron Artest? Gilbert Arenas? Darko Milicic?

An inside view of the Cheesy Gordita Crunch.

We brought the 5-Buck Bag to my house and dug in. What can you say? It’s Taco Bell – we all know what to expect. It’s cheesy, it’s meaty, it’s delicious. It’s fantastic soaked in hot sauce. The Cheesy Gordita Crunch is the clear standout item of the box, but everything was satisfying and actually fairly filling, even for a fat person such as myself. And I giggled the whole time I ate, which probably burns a few calories.

It was a successful Food Plus Beer mission, and I’d certainly do it again – but next time, they better have my (*#*(&@*#*@^ing box.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Stamford Restaurant Week Winter 2010

Better late than never - you still have time to enjoy it this weekend!

Stamford Restaurant Week Winter 2010 is from 2/21/2010 – 3/7/2010. Restaurant Week gives you the opportunity to get a full 3 course meal (most restaurants offer an appetizer, entrĂ©e, and dessert) for a fixed price with choices from a special prix-fixe menu. Although you may be able to find some deals, beware, not everything is worth it.

Here's the chart of participating restaurants (click for menus):

Monday, March 1, 2010

Donovan's & Mackenzie

Norwalk, CT


Beers on Tap: Bass Ale, Bud Lite, Captain Lawrence Pale Ale, Dogfish 60-Minute IPA, Guinness, Magic Hat #9, Newcastle, Shocktop, Samual Adam's Seasonal, Stella Artois.

Happy Hour: M-F 3-7, $1 off all drinks, free hors d'oeuvres

Though there are plenty of delicious and deserving restaurants in our hometown of Stamford, sometimes you just need a change of scenery. So on a snowy night this past Friday, we took Food Plus Beer on down to South Norwalk for beer and burgers.

After parking near the Maritime Center and thinking about how cool the shark tank is, we made our way to Donovan’s & Mackenzie restaurant a few blocks away. During this walk, approximately 43 snowballs were formed and thrown at road signs, telephone poles, and girlfriends.

With cold snowball hands, we entered Donovan’s & Mackenzie to find that it had set a new record for “most TVs simultaneously tuned to Olympic Curling.” They had at least five or six TVs set to the broom-heavy sport, shattering the previous record of one. Furthermore, the patrons were loudly cheering for the Canadian team. I still haven’t figured out whether their excitement was genuine or sarcastic.

I ordered a Dogfish 60-Minute IPA from the decent-sized beer menu, and started to look over the menu. This, of course, was a formality. It was destined to be a burger night and that’s just all there was to it. I ordered a Bacon Mushroom Cheeseburger, Kyle had the same minus the fungus.

The beef was high quality and flavorful, and the bacon was big and thick…exactly the kind of bacon one hopes for when one orders bacon on a burger. I found the burger to be one of the messiest I’ve had in recent memory. That’s not necessarily a gripe…what the hell do I care if I’m licking ketchup off my fingers? No one’s looking at me anyway – Curling’s on.

The fries were “crispy, yet soft” as one friend of the blog implored me to write. I tend to agree, but I must also note the subtle, delicate notes of potato throughout.

‘Twas a nice little night in ol’ SoNo; I daresay we will be back before long. As we made our way back towards the car and thought about the sharks at the Maritime Center once more, we finished our trip just as we had started it: With a 4-seam snowball falling about 2 feet short of a nearby “No Parking” sign.

I’ll stick to watching winter sports.


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