Saturday, March 26, 2011

Oskar Blues Tasting

Oskar Blues out of Colorado is America’s first craft brewery to can their own beer. Why can you say? Well as Oskar will tell you, there are a lot of benefits to cans when compared to bottles. Cans can keep beer fresher as the solid aluminum blocks out all light (that makes beer skunky) and keep it just as fresh and carbonated as glass. Aluminum is easier to recycle. The cans are lighter and smaller making them easier and cheaper to ship. Also, due to their size they’re easier to stuff in a cooler and carry along, wherever it is that you go, no need to pack a bottle opener.

Enough about the vessel, how about the beer?

Mamas Little Yella Pils

It’s light, clean, crisp and refreshing taste make this a good session beer. It’s Oskar Blues’ least alcoholic offering at 5.5%. Free of adjuncts like rice, this beer has a more full flavor. I’m not the biggest fan, but again, I’m not a pilsner fan.

G’Knight Imperial Red (a.k.a. Gordon)

“If you knew the man behind this tribute, this ale needs no explanation. If you didn’t we’re sorry” reads this can. And as we were told by the sales rep for Oskar Blues, this beer was dedicated to a Vietnam vet named Gordon Knight who tragically died in a 2002 helicopter crash while fighting wild fires. BAD ASS! Friends and brewers at Oskar Blues have truly honored him with an equally bad ass brew. Dark red in color with a creamy off-white head. Sweet smells of toffee, caramel, and malty goodness hover above this beer. Gooey, sticky hops run throughout with a little bit of fruitiness. And call me crazy, but I thought it tasted a little bit like marshmellows. G’Knight is really an amazing beer that gives no hints of its massive 8.7% ABV.

Dale's Pale Ale

Oskar Blues first offering is still a hit and responsible for over half of the breweries sales. Coming off of G’Knight it feels thin and watery to the mouth but the flavor is not missed. It’s full of bright and bitter hops. Grassy and orangey flavors in abundance. This clean and refreshing beer is well balanced and a great example of American pale ales.

Old Chub Scottish Ale

Old Chub is a big (8%) and dark Scottish ale. It’s rich, smokey, and malty. Chub smells and tastes of bitter chocolate, roasted malts, and a little caramel. I would love to put this in my next chili. Chubby Chili? It’s gonna happen. Another fine example of craft beer from Oskar Blues.

Ten Fidy Imperial Stout

This critically acclaimed beer, appearing in the top 100 beers on, does not fall short of expectations. Motor oil is the first thought that comes to mind. Its soooo thick, soooo black, and oh so delicious! So thick you could chew on it! Ten Fidy tastes like oatmeal drizzled with chocolate and caramel served with a mug of coffee. I could drink this for breakfast it wasn’t 10.5%! And, despite the valuation it’s even more than 21 times better than Fidy Cent. This mammoth of a beer grabs you and doesn’t let go.

Oskar Blues’ is the little can that could. They will strip you of all your biases and prove that beer this good can come from can.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Coalhouse Oskar Blues Beer Dinner

If our normal Modus Operandi is Food Plus Beer, then a Coalhouse Beer Dinner is (Food + Beer) x 5. Or maybe (Food + Beer)^5. Yeah, I like that better. Exponentially. Just remember to use PEMDAS.

But enough about my 8th grade math class. We’re here to talk about the five-course food and beer marathon that is the Coalhouse Beer Dinner.  This past Monday, FPB scooted on down to Coalhouse for a beer dinner featuring the handcrafted libations of Oskar Blues Brewery – also known as “those beers that come in a can.”

(Note: To read a full review of the 5 Oskar Blues offerings we sampled at the dinner, check out Kyle’s post (coming shortly) where he tries to guess what kind of hops they use in each beer. I’m just going to go over everything quickly because there’s a lot going on during one of these events. K? K.)

As we settled in we were greeted by Gerard, his business partner James, and the smell of deliciousness permeating through the air. (That was probably the food, and not Gerard or James).

Out came the warmup round – Sweet potato and Beet chips with homemade Tzatziki sauce (Yes, I had to look up how to spell Tzatziki.) The chips were crunchy, salty and delicious, and the Tzatazktizkaitkzi was a perfect complement. A fine start.

Next up was the first course to be paired with a beer – a Spring Fennel Salad and Oskar Blues’ Mama’s Little Yella Pils. Kyle and I normally stay far away from vegetables, but the salad was quite good – particularly the roasted red peppers. The beer was our least favorite of the night, but hey, it’s a Pilsner. It is what it is.

Next came the Pea Soup and G’Knight Imperial Red Double IPA. Just sounds like a beer that’ll kick your ass, doesn’t it? Or at least joust you in the chest. This was my personal favorite beer of the knight (I wrote that “k” by accident, but I think I’ll leave it), paired with a great-tasting soup with nice big chunks of ham and fresh crackers made with beer.

Next, though, may have been my favorite round of all. The brewery’s flagship, Dale’s Pale Ale, was accompanied by a goat cheese, honey truffle oil, red onion, pistachio and asparagus pizza. Just awesome. The sweetness of the oil set against the tartness of the goat cheese almost made me forget about bacon. (Almost.) And the Dale’s came through mightily despite having a tough act to follow.

The goat cheese pizza wasn't baaaaaaad. See what I did there?

Yes, that’s right, we’re still eating. It’s just like long-distance running…you just have to eat through the pain. Next came lamb tenderloin on a bed of assorted veggies, accompanied by Old Chub Scottish Ale. The lamb was tasty and well-cooked, and I enjoyed the beer despite not knowing much about the style. Also, it was fun to be able to say “Old Chub” a lot.

And what is an insanely decadent meal without dessert? We finished with the mammoth TenFIDY Imperial Stout, one of the most highly regarded beers in the world of beer-dorkery, as well as ice cream made with TenFIDY on a homemade cookie. The ice cream was incredible – the brewery representative went on to tell us that they make their own ice cream from TenFIDY, but that Coalhouse’s version was even better. Suffice to say, I was a clean-plater.

 This is what beer looks like.

It was a great time, with excellent food and drink, and I’m still full. I don’t think Coalhouse OR Oskar Blues has seen the last of me.

Until next time,

P.S. Oh yeah - We got to take home pint glasses and beer coozies from the brewery! Gotta love that swag!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Philly Craft Beer Fest - 2011

Going to a craft beer festival is a lot like going to Six Flags: You’re giddy with excitement, there are long lines of people everywhere, and you might throw up afterwards.

With that in mind, Food Plus Beer took its talents to Philadelphia for the 5th annual Craft Beer Fest at the Navy Yard. Boasting “50+ breweries and 100+ beers,” the PCBF was held in a huge brick building right on the Delaware River, surrounded by enormous retired Navy battleships that we unfortunately weren’t allowed to climb around on.

Let’s re-live the festival together, shall we?

12:30: We arrive at the festival, just as it’s beginning, only to find that the line to get in the door is 12 miles long (approximation). We’re pissed. Doors were supposed to open at 12! How did they screw this up?! We are never getting in.

1:00: We get in. The length of the line may have been slightly overstated.

I may or may not start wearing pretzel necklaces everywhere I go.

We make our way directly to the Victory booth, where we’re faced with the choice between Yakima Glory and Headwaters Pale Ale. We choose both. Thankfully, no one behind us has a problem with us double-dipping. Gotta love beer fests!

This photo captions itself.

1:10 – 2:50: We spend the next hour and forty minutes more or less drinking anything and everything that appealed to us. Some highlights:

-The aforementioned Victory Headwaters Pale Ale: Awesome, crisp, straightforward IPA that is the definition of a summer session beer.
Fegley’s Hopsolutely: Monstrous 11.5% 100 IBU Triple-Hopped IPA. Yowza.
Triumph Jewish Rye: Actually tastes unnervingly like Rye bread. Goes best with pastrami and Russian dressing.
Arcadia IPA and 21st Amendment IPA: Pleasant surprises from breweries we’d never heard of.
Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter – Roasty and bitter. Very smooth.
Ithaca Flower Power IPA: Had it before, of course, but even in a room full of awesome beer, it stands out.

You're not going to believe this, but this isn't the real Samuel Adams.

2:55: It occurs to me that I need to pee. A lot. Upon seeing the mangled mess that is the line to the port-o-potties, my bladder decides to crank up the pain. I am miserable. I’m jumping around like an extra from Flashdance at this point. I’m seriously considering peeing on the ground next to the port-o-potty at the end of the line, continuing to fire away as I’m dragged off in handcuffs for indecent exposure.

3:05: I finally reach the front of the line and achieve urinary Nirvana. I now have a little less than an hour to power through the remaining breweries before our session ends.

3:30: I mya bee getting a little bit intocixatecd.

Approximation of what the beerfest looked like at this point.

3:40: There is a basketball hoop in the corner of the building. I play basketball twice a week. I take a shot – airball. I blame this on a combination of my inebriation and the fact that the hoop was clearly not regulation height (Kyle will verify this). Although, I must say, charging drunk people to take a jumper on a 12-foot hoop is a brilliant marketing strategy (not that I paid. I am above the law).

3:45: Facing the home stretch, we begin drinking like Lindsay Lohan behind the wheel, and we encounter a few more standouts:

Weyerbacher Merry Monks – Belgiany goodness.
Blue Point Barleywine – We got to try this because the Blue Point representative was hitting on our girlfriends.
Ballast Point Big Eye IPA – Super fresh, hoppy and excellent.

And then, all of a sudden, it was over. One by one, the breweries stopped pouring samples, and we flooded the few booths that were still going until there were no more. It was time to file out of the building and into the streets of Philadelphia to cause trouble.

This was only our second brew fest, and you can bet we’ll be going to more in the future. The Philly brew fest was an awesome time. We got to try a bunch of new beers, enjoy some old favorites, and best of all, nobody barfed. Party!

Until next time,