Friday, January 11, 2008

Beers of the Holidays (Catch-up blog #2)

Over Christmas, I managed to drink a few really yummy beers, and at least one not-so-yummy one. You'll find my beer reviewing to be slightly less knowledgeable than Mike's, and I generally stick to terms like "yummy" and "icky." In no particular order, here are my reviews of my holiday beer consumption:

Christian Moerlein Christkindl Winter Warmer

A very yummy beer, and not as alcoholy as some winter brews I've had that were branded as "warmers." A wonderful aroma, and a great sweet malty sort of beginning flavor. The label claims a chocolate flavor in there somewhere, and I think I was able to taste it near the very end. It was very good, I hope to have some again.

Seadog Bluepaw Blueberry Wheat

While not exactly a "Christmas" sort of beer, I ran across this while beer shopping and decided to give it a try. Low in alcohol and strong in blueberry flavor, I think I liked it overall. A couple years ago I discovered my love for blueberry beer (it's practically a health-food what with all the antioxidants in the berries and the beer, right?) when one of the Boston brothers turned me on to Bar Harbor Blueberry. It was a bit weird having the blueberry in a "wheat" ale, as the wheat and the blueberry almost seemed to be competing for my attention... but if there must be a fight on my palate, I guess a beer-fight is the fight to have. Not my favorite blueberry beer, but I'll drink it again in the summer.

Steamworks Spruce Goose

Amazingly horrible yet wonderfully original and addictive. I must have more. My little brother was kind enough to send this to me for Christmas. I visited Steamworks with my brother and Dave when I was in Durango last fall, and immediately became a fan of their beers. This one is weird. According to the bottle, spruce beer originated with the Scottish and with the Vikings. Being part Scott and having the manners of a viking, I figured this must be a beer for me. Apparently the Scotts would brew beer with spruce saplings in order to drink it before battle, because they believed it brought out their animal instincts, made them better warriors, and contributed to greater and more efficient raping and pillaging. While I didn't engage in any raping or pillaging after drinking this wonderfully odd beer, I did have some rather vigorous... er, never mind.

Back to the beer. My favorite moment was right when I popped the bottle open. The aroma of spruce and pine needles transported me immediately to a pine forest somewhere in the mountains. I haven't smelled a beer with such an enticing and strange aroma since my first try at a German Smoked Beer seven or eight years ago. I could have almost just sat and sniffed it all night, but I said to myself, "glue is for sniffing, beer is for drinking." The beer was one of the most beautiful red-brown-orange colors I have ever seen in a beer, and as unique as the smell.

The taste was amazing... and I was reminded immediately of something we used to do when backpacking in the sierra. For anyone who's ever chewed on pine needles... that is what this beer tasted like. There was a certain sort of pine we would grab the needles from and chew on them and they would actually give you a very brief (three or four seconds) but strong and unique buzz. This beer had the same effect. I immediately felt like raping and pillaging. A very strong spicy taste, and I wasn't able to identify what I thought I was tasting except perhaps a cinnamon-type hops.

I must have more of this beer...

Abita Christmas Ale

Without a doubt, this was hands-down the turd of my holiday beer-drinking experience. No aroma, a reddish color, and very little flavor. This was the most boring Christmas beer I've ever had. I've never been a huge Abita fan, and this mediocre offering didn't raise their stock any in my mind. I'm curious if anyone else had it and thought it was as bad as I did.

Label-less Beer from The Drew Brewery

Perhaps my favorite of the holiday season. While I forgot to make any notes when I drank it, so I can't give any real specifics, I do remember that this is what an Ale is supposed to taste like. Not too sweet, not too hoppy but just hoppy enough with a sort of herbal finish. The Drew brewed this one right. (And I didn't share it with a soul.) It was the perfect companion to a bowl of home-made Chicken Tortilla Soup I made:

The catch-up blog...

Wow... after posting Spider Pig below, I suddenly realized that I hadn't written anything in nearly a month, which came somewhat as a surprise to me... I seem to remember writing things, but apparently all I've been doing is thinking of things to write, then never actually sitting down to do it. So this will be the catch-up blog from the few things I can remember that I had intended to sit down and do, but never got around to:

Christmas PS3:

I never posted anything about Christmas... yes, we did have Christmas at our house, and yes, it was wonderful. In keeping with my earlier post about things that are great about having kids, I managed to convince Santa that the boys needed a new PS3. Quite an amazing thing. I had a Lieutenant once who talked about how the only sounds you would hear as you walked through his house were the sounds of shooting, dying, and other sorts of carnage. Now I know what he meant. Between the PS3 on the big screen being pumped out through the surround speakers, and Rainbow 6: Vegas coming from the PC speakers, I think my poor wife has some sort of contact-PTSD.

If you have a PS3, you must buy Metal of Honor 4: Modern Warfare. Then get with me online and we can kill each other.

Christmas Dinner

My days off magically landed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I can't remember the last time I had both off, so that was kind of cool. I didn't realize until Christmas Eve that we didn't have any plans for Christmas Day. With mom and dad being down in Florida now, our usually Christmas dinner wasn't going to happen, so I asked Tonya if I should make a nice Christmas dinner for the fam.

I went to the store originally planning on a nice big ham or turkey; the usual Christmas dinner, but ended up spotting a huge pork loin on sale for a great price and decided that we'd settle on the less-traditional grilled pork for Christmas dinner:

My brother-in-law Randy and his beautiful wife Pam ended up coming over to share Christmas dinner with us, which was enjoyable and made the meal that much better.

Aborted New Year's Roast

Originally I know I had more to write about this topic, but for now, all I can remember is that I took a picture of the pretty bed of veggies that I laid my roast in before putting it in the oven:

I'm really not sure why it was I took that picture, and I can't remember what I had intended to blog about the roast... but I can tell you this: In the end, the roast was horrible... tough, tasteless, yucky meat that was slightly less chewy than bubblegum mixed with beef jerkey (yes, I do know what bubble gum and jerky tastes like...) After making the kids each choke down a nasty slice of the roast beast, I remembered something my mom used to do with leftover roast: I diced the remaining two pounds or so up real small the next morning when I got off work and threw it in a crockpot all day with a jar of BBQ sauce... that night we had BBQ beef sandwiches that the kids said was "the best thing you ever made, dad." They didn't believe it was the same meat we had the night before.

Perhaps if leftover crock-pot BBQ is the height of my culinary achievement to date, I need to give it up and stick with delivered pizzas.

Spider Pig, Spider Pig....

This morning was The Simpson's Movie viewing party for my entire shift. Everyone came over to my house after work and we drank some beer, ate some food, and laughed a lot. (Come to think of it, that's pretty much what we do any time I get together with any of my friends.) Of course, as host I had to have an appropriate beer on hand:

For any Simpson's fan who hasn't seen it, The Simpson's Movie is a must-see. While the overall story line might not be that wonderful, the parts that make up the whole are typically pure Groening genius.