Monday, April 25, 2011

New England Brewing Company

Woodbridge, CT

It’s a rainy Saturday, what do you do?  No, it’s not a trick question or a riddle – go drink some beer!  In fact, step up your game a little bit - go drink one from the source.  This simple thought process brought Food Plus Beer to our closest commercial brewery, New England Brewing Company in Woodbridge, CT (just outside New Haven).

New England Brewing Company

Now, we knew that New England Brewing is a Microbrewery, but we didn’t fully understand how micro it is until we pulled up.  It’s a small, unbecoming box of a brick building that produces a mere 2,000 barrels of beer annually.  That’s just over 660 thousand beers – Ryan and I can down that in a night! (If you don’t believe us, buy us the beers and we’ll show you).  Popularity of NEBCO’s brews along with limited supply has forced them distribute only to local areas; they even had to stop distributing in New York.  Rarity is reason #2 to jump on any opportunity to try their beers.

This is the entire brewery.

The first reason is because the beer is incredible!  While at the brewery we were fortunate enough to sample “Gandhi Bot” and “668: Neighbor of the Beast”.  "Gandhi Bot" Double India Pale Ale is amazing.  It’s 8.8% and LOADED with hops.  It’s piney and citrusy with a resinous feel that sticks to your mouth and begs another sip.  All the while you can let your imagination run wild as to why there’s a robotic Gandhi on the can.

“668 Neighbor of the Beast”, a Belgian Strong Pale ale with a light body and both a spicy and fruity character, ranks in at over 9% and is almost equally delicious (I'm a hophead so in my eyes you can't beat the robotic rebel!).  The can features a regular ol’ guy in a wife-beater fetching the mail while a red glow emanates from his neighbor’s house.  We love the can and the beer inside it.

At least we know the Neighbor approves...

And just to clarify things, yes they do can their beer (with the exception of Imperial Stout Trooper).  In fact, they actually still can everything by hand. New England Brewing Company is another fine example that great beer doesn’t have to come in glass bottles.  Go to there for the growler fills, stay a while for the free samples.

These cans will all be filled by hand, one by one.


Prime 16

New Haven, CT
Menu | Taps [rotating]

As Kyle, myself, and our dear companions stood inside the New England Brewing Company in Woodbridge, debating aloud our options for lunch, we heard a voice:
“Go to Prime 16.”

No, it was not God, whose Holiness was surely busy answering a slew of Easter Weekend prayers. It was just some dude.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Why would you listen to just some dude?” Well, it’s because he showed up at the brewery to fill three empty growlers with Imperial IPA. And you know that age-old adage: Always take lunch recommendations from the random guy at the brewery filling 3 growlers with Imperial IPA.

So, with that, we headed to downtown New Haven for the beer & burger frenzy that is Prime 16. With 20 rare and continuously rotating beers on tap and 16 burgers on the menu (the reason it’s called Prime 16, perhaps?), the combinations of awesomeness are endless (well, not endless, but this isn’t a blog about math, so I ain’t doin’ it.)

Not only that, but we had just stumbled into the Saturday 2-4 Happy Hour, which featured 50% off draft beer and wings. Hominahominahomina.

If you don't like what's on tap, wait a couple minutes for a keg to kick. Better yet, kill yourself.

Faster than you can say “why the hell isn’t this place in Stamford,” I ordered a Heavy Seas Dubbel Cannon Belgian IPA, and a warmup round of crispy, tangy wings (half buffalo, half Jack Daniels’ Bourbon). The wings were great, but the burger was a monster.

The only thing cooler than triangular plates are tasty wings. Also, beer.

After grabbing another brew, Brooklyn’s Main Engine Start, it was time for the Cowboy Burger – at least a half-pound of juicy beef, topped with smoked Canadian bacon, a fried egg, cheddar cheese, lettuce and salsa. In a word - awesome. The beef was delicious and perfectly cooked, the bacon was salty and crunchy, that delicious egg goo dripping all over the place…I had a burgasm. Let’s just leave it at that.

You just had a burgasm, too.

As if that wasn’t enough, I upgraded my regular fries to fries with truffle oil and Parmesan cheese, because, why the hell not. I’m telling you, these are hall-of-fame level fries. Garlicky, cheesy, salty…you must go for the upgrade. Just do it.

All in all, this place helped to turn a terrible rainy Saturday in mid-April into an epic journey. Great food, great beer. It sounds simple, but it’s so rare to find both in the same place. Prime 16 has it.

And if the growler guy from New England Brewing Company is reading this, we salute you. You’re in the nonexistent Food Plus Beer Hall of Fame, right next to the fries I just anointed.


Prime 16 on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dogfish Head Red and White

10% ABV
Malt Liquor

Dogfish Head Red and White can't technically be called a beer since it doesn't have any hops. Dogfish calls it a "Malt Beverage", similar to Colt 45, Steel Reserve, King Cobra, and the countless other types of "High Gravity", cheap and efficient "lets get hammered" juice.

What makes Dogfish Head Red and White different is that that actually try to make it taste good. Red and White is a big Belgian-style Wit that instantly reminded me of a super Blue Moon. It's brewed with coriander and orange peel, just like Blue Moon, and those flavors are the first that hit your tongue. Dogfish also mixes in Pinot Noir juice (yes, from grapes just like wine) and ages a portion of the "beer" in oak Pinot Noir barrels. This addition adds complexity and a noticeably dry, wine-like finish.

With that said, you might still be wondering, "did I enjoy it?" I can't say that I loved it. With no hop bitterness to balance it I thought it was a little sweet. The alcohol taste was present with each sip, and I struggled to put it down as it warmed. That's not to say that I didn't like it, but its not exactly my cup of tea mug of ale.  It was definitely worth trying and it shows that you can actually make a high quality malt liquor if you put in the effort.  Try it for the experience.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Casa Villa

This past Thursday, the gym where I play pick-up basketball was closed, so I decided to do something very similar – stuff my face with Mexican food and margaritas!

With Kyle and friend of the blog Dave in tow, we headed down to the new Casa Villa on East Main St. We would have gone to the Casa Villa on West Main, but there are only two reasons to enter that neighborhood – to go to KFC, or to get shot. (Note to residents of West Main: Kyle wrote that part.)

We walked in the restaurant, finding it tasteful and surprisingly spacious, with plenty of room for seating. But enough about the d├ęcor – it’s drinkin’ time.

As Kyle alluded to in the Lola’s post, Mexican beer is generally a sad state of affairs, so we did what any red-blooded Americans would do and ordered a pitcher of Margaritas. (Or is it a pitcher of Margarita? While it’s still in the pitcher is it technically one giant Margarita? Someone check up on this.)

If only I were on a beach, instead of staring at a storefront advertising scuba diving lessons.

I’m not a Margarita expert, but I found these to be pretty damn good. Not sickly sweet, not overloaded with tequila…it was just right. It’s what Goldilocks would have chosen if the three bears liked to party.

For my meal, I had steak Chilaquiles, which are like an order of nachos in which the chips have been cooked in with the rest of the ingredients. It was beefy, cheesy goodness.

 What are Chilaquiles? These are Chilaquiles.

Dave got an awesome-looking steak burrito, as well as “Flautas de Pollo” which he didn’t need since the burrito was enormous. And Kyle got the 3-taco combo, where you get to pick any 3 different meats for your order. He got one with chorizo, one with pork cracklins, and one with veal tongue - the first time Kyle’s French kissed a cow since college!

 ¡Ay caramba!

Overall, everything was delicious, and we were all very impressed. The ingredients were plentiful and fresh, including homemade tortillas, and it was nice to see some cool variations to typical Mexican fare on the menu. (Veal tongue, anybody?) Even the salsa stood out.

Oh and, ahem, the side of hot sauce and the extra basket of chips we ordered? Free. As it should be. Not that we’re naming names, Lola’s.

For great Mexican in Stamford, pile all your friends in the backseat of a ’97 Honda Civic and head on over to Casa Villa. You won’t regret it.

Until next time,

Casa Villa on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 1, 2011

Veggie Burgers and Budweiser Select 55

Hey there ladies and germs!

Well, it’s springtime once again - although if you take a gander outside it looks like someone forgot to tell Mother Nature! I mean, SNOW in APRIL? So much for Global Warming! Now that’s what I call an Inconvenient Truth, am I right?! Boy, am I a hoot today or what?

Anyway, Kyle and I recently had our annual Boys’ Night, where we celebrate the start of spring the only way we know how – with burgers and beer – only this time, we did it with a Spring twist! That’s right! We grilled up some veggie burgers and threw back a couple Bud Select 55s!

It's so light, Kyle almost floated away! LOL!

You see, as we all know, Summer is right around the corner, and that means two words: Beach bods! We only have a few short months to get from “All he eats is bacon” to “is he taken?” (I’m so bad.)

But just because we’re watching our figure doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy ourselves! That’s why Kyle and I decided to let loose, get a little crazy and throw our aprons on for a beautiful meal. 

The first rule of grilling, as you know, is that you’d better have a beer in hand, so we cracked open a couple Bud Select 55s. (Only 55 calories? Sign me up!) The first thing I noticed was an intense rush of alcohol from the beer’s mammoth 2.4% ABV content. I immediately handed Kyle my car keys as I knew this night could easily get out of hand.

If it looks like beef, and it smells like beef, it's probably methylcellulose!

Then, the two of us started shaping our burger patties. I won’t bore you with the minutiae of creating fresh Veggie burgers – it’s exactly the same as regular burgers, except that instead of that fatty old red meat, you’re greeted with the enchanting aromas of textured vegetable proteins, soy protein isolate, vegetable gum, and maltodextrin. Great, now I’ve done it – my mouth is watering! Someone get me a towel!

We plated our burger patties (no buns, of course…who needs the carbs??) and retreated to the dining room where Kyle had put together a breathtaking table (very Art Nouveau, with a hint of postmodern industrial cubism). I’m kicking myself for not taking a good picture of it – but by that point I was nearly done with my Bud 55 and could hardly hold the camera.

So, we happily munched away, just two best friends enjoying a healthier interpretation of a greasy classic, until we could munch no more. And at the same time, we looked at each other and came to a sad realization…

“Oh no! Not the dishes!!!”

Happy Spring, my special friends!