Six things about Saratoga Springs . . .

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 So if I keep making conversation when I am out sampling good beer by mentioning I write a beer blog, maybe I oughta be updating the thing.

OK, six-pack of things in my beer world — specifically around Saratoga Springs, NY.

 1. If you’re anywhere around the area, and that includes Albany, you need to get to Henry Street Tap Room (check on facebook). It’s a true beer bar with 16 drafts (including one cider) on a chalkboard and great beer cuisine. I will write more later, but let’s say there are not a lot of places you can sip a Belgian Sour or the latest from Southern Tier while sitting in a leather arm chair in front of a fireplace.

2. There’s always an extra stop on the 20-minute drive from my house to Henry Street, and it involves Eddy’s Beverage (EBI), my favorite package store. (Hey, I am from Rhode Island. It’s a “package store.”) In my mind, best beer selection between Albany and the Canadian border. But what’s more important is that the staff is made up of the kind of people you want to drink beer with. They really know their stuff. Three taps, at reasonable prices, and a firkin on Fridays. One of them is my crack dealer, I mean my go-to person when I need a recommendation, because her taste is like mine when it comes to porters and stouts. I’ll drop $12 or more on her recommendation, and I have not been disappointed. ( http://ebisaratoga.com/ )

3. Anyone figure out Black IPAs yet? The style is all over the place. The first one I had was from Otter Creek (Vt.), and as one of the guys at Eddy’s Beverage pointed out, it was far maltier than many others. Right now I am working on the Black Cannon from Heavy Seas in Baltimore (http://www.hsbeer.com/). It’s far hoppier. (This one’s from last week’s firkin at EBI). There is a bitterness (the good kind) on a second flavor wave. My local brewer, Jason, at Davidson Brothers here in Glens Falls, is dry-hopping his at the finish with Cascade. Very nice. I have had some others, but it’s not as simple as defining an IPA.

 

4. Speaking of sitting in a leather armchair in front of the fire at Henry Street? I was having a snifter of the Firestone Walker 16th Anniversary ( http://www.firestonebeer.com/beers/products/sixteen-coming-november-2012- ) . I plunked down $15 for a 12-ounce pour, this time trusting one of the bar owners, Ryan and Sonja). I will write more about it later. It’s a blend of various fancy and oak-aged beers and is one of the best beers I have ever had. Full, smoky, ringing with alcohol. Amazing stuff.

5. Oh, another reason to love EBI. It is across the street from Ole Saratoga Brewing, where you can get growler fills of a variety of things and free samples as well.

 6. Just so George and the folks at Druthers, the new brew pub in Saratoga Springs, don’t think I don’t love them, I have to say that the shrimp and grits is one of the best lunches I have ever had.

 

 

 

Remembering the first beers of the year

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It’s been a great year for beer.

I have had some streaks of busy tasting and other weeks where I just took it easy.

Right now, I am unsure how the year will end, but I remember how it started.

On New Year’s Day, I took a quick ride to Union Jack’s, which is in Douglassville, Pa., the town my sister lives in and had two beers, but my were they serious beers. I had one of the grails, the Dogfish Head 120-Minute IPA. You may have heard of the 60 or 90 versions, but in this one, the hops are added to the boil for two solid hours. It has a ridiculously high Alcohol By Volume of 18 percent (think Budweiser  at less than four). But I love it, because I am big into high-alcohol beers and the whole hop thing. They pour it in a nine-ounce glass, because of the alcohol.

The first beer of that afternoon was one of my all-time favorites, the Southern Tier Imperial Pumking, my favorite pumpkin beer out of about 30 I have had. This was the oak-aged version, and I found that made it much more mellow and easier to drink. I actually had to slow myself down, because it was going down so easily.

Union Jack’s is a really neat place, because it combines the feel of a hometown bar — and serves Budweiser and other products — with a quality, high-end beer bar. Knowledgable staff, nice folks.

Recipe Monday: Beef, Stout and Cheddar Stew

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It’s ambitious, but I would like to start a weekly feature of beer recipes.

I have a couple in the bank, but I could really use your help if you have something to send in.

Here’s my all-time favorite beer-related recipe.

Beef, Stout and Cheddar Stew

This one’s from my friend George, who is a professional cook, and therefore finds a recipe that requires a hunk of cooked roast beef or prime rib to be an ordinary thing.

 Ingredients

3 to 4 pounds of roasted beef (i.e. leftovers!), cut into chunks

(Of course, you can just make a roast beef to use for it)

2 to 4 whole cloves garlic. Cut up.

1.5 pounds. cheddar cheese cubes. I think the sharper the better works.

Three pressurized cans Guinness or other stout (Murphy’s, Beamish, etc), room temperature but unopened. (You get to drink the fourth).

Two large onions of your choice, diced

Salt and pepper

Personally, I add oregano and a couple of bay leaves

Steps

1. Put cooked beef chunks, garlic and seasonings into pot, adding just enough water to almost cover.

2. Bring to boil, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add more water a little at a time to keep from running dry.

3. Remove meat from water and let cool, then pull apart if possible or cut into very small pieces. Discard any visible fat.

4. Return meat to broth in pot and slowly add stout, foam and all. Add onions if you like them.

5. Bring to a boil, then set on lowest heat or place in crock pot on medium high setting.

6. Add cheese cubes and stir to mix in.

7. If simmering on stovetop, simmer for about one hour, stirring frequently.

8. If using crock pot, after the initial stir, let alone for one or two hours then stir before serving.

9. Add salt and pepper to taste before serving.

NOTE: Even if you skim the broth ahead of time, the cheese will cause a layer of fat to form on top. Skim or not, your choice. This will get VERY hot, so eat carefully.

Live Review: Stone Brewing’s Lukcy Bastartd

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No, I am not drunk. The spelling is correct.

22-ounce bomber from RSVP Liquors in Portland, Maine.

This is a regular feature. I drink beer. I post commentary on it. I love beer-blogging.

Breweries have different reputations. I know Dogfish Head will always push the limits and try new things, Magic Hat will be funky and different, Southern Tier will go strong and hard and big, big beer.

Stone Brewing? The beer will always grab ne by the throat and scream, “What do you think of me now, fat boy?”

Such is the case with the Lukcy Bastartd, a non-standard spelling for a non-standard beer, which is a blend (50-50 they say) of the Arrogant Basatrd and the Lucky Bastard.

It’s a very aggressive beer. Hits you right away with a little malt burn, but even though it’s high malt, the hops come right through. Like many strong beers, it mellows a little as it gets warmer. And it will get warm, because you need some time to drink this.

Very pretty beer. A light mahogany with a yellow-tinged, cream-colored head.

Get it while it’s around.

 

Welcome back to my little corner of the bar

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Welcome back.

After writing hundreds of beer blog posts in my brain over the last year or so, I figure it’s “time to get the band back together” and starting writing again.

Few things are better than meeting fellow beer geeks and talking beers over a well-made beer, and a blog is one way to keep the conversation going.

There have been a couple of incarnations of this blog over the years, at a couple of different sites, but what I am looking for right now is to re-boot, start over and keep up the posts. I have completely cleared the blog, and we’re starting anew.

I will be adding a good number of past posts with their dates so you can put them in context. Some are evergreen, they are as topical today as they were three years ago, and some are a little dated.

The most important thing here is for your to respond. What do you think about what I think?

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