Mr. Booze stumbled upon a lederhosen sportin’ beer nut wandering around a local beer garden slurping suds from an eighty ounce stein. Jon “the beer geek” Webster is a welcomed edition to our bar and one of the most knowledgeable beer snobs we know. Crack open an Oktoberfest and let’s read what Jon has to say… (more…)
Beer from Mr. Booze
Oktoberfest has ended and the leaves are coloring and beginning to fall. The evenings have a chill that wasn’t there just a week or two ago. The simple Märzens and Harvest beers don’t have quite the heft that the coming cool requires. What’s a beer drinker to do? Seek solace in the deepness and richness of malt, Porter, Brown, Rye, Dubbel; these names should be your mantra, their flavors your guide through the waning warmth.
Some of the beers I’m going to recommend have only regional availability, don’t be disheartened! Make friends with your local purveyor of fine beers and ask for alternatives, they should be knowledgeable and able to find you something fresh, local, and delicious. If you’re in the Maryland area, stop in and see me at i.m.wine, I’m always happy to recommend a tasty brew or three.
Let’s start with the Browns, malty, nutty, caramel, toffee, amber, reddish, fruity, dry, and sweet. A lot of variation in this style for certain, but when looking for a brew to warm me up from the inside out, this is where I head first. Peak Organic Brewery in Maine produces two great beers for the fall, their classic Nut Brown Ale, and the hoppier Fall Summit Ale. The Nut Brown showcases a broad a complex malt flavor with any easy finish, where the Fall Summit eases up on the malt, but provides a healthy dose of the citrusy/piney Summit hops for a monster finish. Bell’s Best Brown, from the well known Kalamazoo brewery, is toasty and toffeeish with its malt flavors, and the slightest nip of smoke on the finish. The beers of New Glarus Brewing barely make it out of their home state of Wisconsin, but are worth seeking out if you’re visiting the region. Their Fat Squirrel Nut Brown is just that, nutty, with hints of chocolate and caramel on the finish. Brooklyn Brewery’s Brown Ale leans a bit to the fruitier side, with hints of plums mixed in with the toasty malt base, finishing with a nice firm American hop character. Not to give lagers short shrift, the Ayinger Altbairisch Dunkel is a lager of robust malty proportions, with flavors of caramel, dark bread, and milk chocolate building to a crisp refreshing climax.
Porters are quite the conundrum at times, usually very dark brown to black, and this scares many away thinking the colour indicates something thick and super-heavy. Not at all! Most porters only clock in around 4-6% alcohol by volume, with a few pushing up to 7%, but most porters balance a nice dark roasted malt flavor with a refreshing drinkability. Firestone-Walker Brewing in Paso Robles, California, makes a delicious porter. Their Walker’s Reserve Porter is at once roasty and chocolatey, rich without feeling heavy, deep but never ponderous, despite its nearly opaque black colour. The Edmund Fitzgerald Porter from Great Lakes Brewing isn’t quite as dark as some others, with glints of ruby and brown peeking through. The flavor though, majestically creamy with a mocha, cappuccino like intensity, defines this beer as classic. Stone Brewing in Escondido California, and Alaskan Brewing in Juneau take a slight detour with their respective Smoked Porters creating perhaps the perfect pairing for BBQ ribs ever dreamt of. Finally Breckinridge Brewery’s Vanilla Porter is as tasty a pairing with chocolate cake as I’ve ever had.
The Belgian Dubbel sprung from monastic brewing tradition in the 19th century when the Trappist abbey of Westmalle brewed a brown beer of surpassing strength for the era. Fruity, malty, rich, dry, modern dubbels fall in to the 6-8% alcohol range and provide excellent pairing opportunities with fall fare. Ommegang Abbey Ale from Cooperstown New York is full of toffee, fig, spice, and plum flavors. This beer has never met a stew it didn’t like. Westmalle trappist dubbel, the originator, has a deep amber colour, with whiffs of mocha and black bread. Roast beef on pumpernickel with a nice spicy mustard has this beers name written all over it. Brother David’s dubbel from Anderson Valley Brewing in Boonville California is slightly richer and sweeter than many dubbels, with tropical fruit and milk chocolate emerging among the deep malty flavours. Chocolate soufflé anyone?
Rye beers contain a robust portion of rye grain in the mix, providing complex spicy, tart undertones. Harpoon Brewery has two ryes in their stable of excellent beers. The Leviathan Imperial Rye and the small batch Rich & Dan’s Rye IPA. The Leviathan is a surprisingly easy going beer at almost 9% (perhaps we should say ‘deceptively’?) Rich, with caramel malts suffused with a bread pudding like flavor giving way to spicy, warm rye flavors. Two of these are guaranteed to warm you head to toe! Rich & Dan’s Rye IPA is a gentler take on the rye beer for sure, but no less delicious, golden rye forward maltiness is wrapped up in herbal and grassy noble hop aromas. A more classicly inspired brew, Rugbrød from California’s The Bruery is a take on classic Danish rye beers. Thick, frothy, flavors of black bread, burnt orange, spice, toffee, wood smoke. Pair this with friends and a roaring fire. Founders Brewing’s Red’s Rye is a gutsy IPA with a strong base of rye flavors. The brassy grapefuity hops always threatening to steal the show, but the strong rye malt holds them forever at bay. Not a gentle pint of brew, more of an exhilarating roller coaster you find yourself going back to again and again.
Now go forth to good fall drinking! Prost!
No real recipe with this one, just a word of caution; “be careful with Boilermakers”. They’re really nothing more than a means for the drinker to forget about a bad break-up, a bad day at the office, or anything else you wish to put behind you for the night. Have no more than three, and make damn sure you’ve lined up a safe way back home when it is time to sleep. Yes…I do indulge, on occasion.
Here we go –
- 2 oz Whiskey (Bourbon/Scotch/Sour Mash)
- Glass of Beer
Shoot the whiskey in a shot glass; chase the shot with a beer, putting the beer glass down when it’s empty.
When it’s really hot outside, or I’ve come home to a steamy house on a summer night, I occasionally like a beer on ice. That’s what a Foxtail is; a cold beer poured over ice with a long twist or “tail” of orange or lemon peel as garnish. The oil in the citrus peel does add a little snap to the flavor plus just the smell of the fruit skin adds to the overall cool down experienced.
Here we go –
Wait for a 90+-degree day or night, crack a beer (lager is the best), and pour it over cracked ice in a tall glass. Add the peel, then stand in front of an air conditioner.