Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Fiery Foods Fest 2014

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We returned to the North Market Fiery Foods Festival this past weekend. This marked our second time there (see previous Fiery Foods Festival post for reviews on beers from Elevator and mead from Brothers Drake). The Wargos and our family decided to tag team the event again. We picked up 3 hot sauces, a hot pepper jam, and talked with Ed Currie, the mad scientist who created the current world's hottest pepper (Carolina Reaper).

After having some gut wrenching, painfully hot pepper and cheese pizza, we decided to mellow out with some good beers.

Seventh Son
Humulus Nimbus Pale Ale

Unfortunately, we did not get a picture of this. The mind was not working with a gut full of pain. We picked this up at the festival (they were the only brewery who was in attendance, for some reason). They had two selections, a brown ale and a pale ale. I figured, having a stomach full of intense pain, a pale ale would be easier to drink and more soothing. Mind you, sometime soon, we'll have to redo this review, as at this moment, my senses were askew, due to the heavy onslaught of habanero, ghost, scorpion, and other hot peppers. [Side note: Nathan entered the hot pizza challenge, which entailed eating an entire pizza that was made of crust, cheese, and really hot peppers, such as bhut jolokia, Trinidad scorpion, and possibly Carolina Reaper. He made it through 4 pieces before he tapped out. To be fair, Jennie had two bites of this vile concoction and was sidelined for two days.] This poured a nice golden, amber color with decent amount of white head. A faint aroma (again, possibly because of the flogging my senses recently lived through) of hops and caramel. This was smooth drinking (and helped sooth the beast that was wreaking havoc on my previously iron stomach). Hop heavy, being grapefruit and tropical flavors with a nice caramel backing that blended perfectly, not too hoppy, not too malty.  Medium body, with a light lingering of hops on the backend. A slightly sticky finish that didn't linger. We're definitely interested in trying more of their brews (especially as they're local. And trust us, try the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, their American Strong Ale. That deserves some love from Hopsus).

Suggested Pairings:
Music: White Stripes, "Ball and a Biscuit"
Cheese: Monterey Jack. Just not pepper. Please, dear cheese gods, no peppers required after that hellacious pizza experience. Crackers, minimal cheese, and copious peppers do not equal pizza. Please find Mikey's Late Night Slice for their ghost pizza challenge next year.
Food: Shrimp California Roll. Eat the pickled ginger. Trust us on this, especially if it's at the Fiery Foods Fest.

4.2/5 caps

After we finished our Annual Assault of Capsicum, we decided to head over to Barley's Ale House (across the parking lot from North Market) for a beer. Well, as is tradition between the Wargos and our family, one pint turns into more.

Barley's Ale House
Bourbon Meyer Buckeye Stout

(Barley's Bourbon Meyer- Photo by Nathan Shadley)

 Angelo is a God among men for concocting this beer (well, this and Beastie Boysenberry.... but that's another post that has not been written). As we walked in, he happened to notice us as he was filling a pint and we were waiting to be seated. He asked if we had tried this yet; well, needless to say it ended up being our first beer there.

So, Jennie had a conversation on Facebook awhile back (that she doesn't fully recall) whence it forthcame. It seemed to be early fall, and several people had chimed in about peanut butter porters and stouts. Two homebrewers and a professional brewer professed to brew their own idea of what this should entail on their next brew venture. One ended up being Jennie's Birthday Brew, a peanut butter porter. The other that we've seen come out of this ended up as Bourbon Meyer Stout.

This poured a deep, rich, opaque brown with a small amount of creamed coffee head. The aroma was fantastic! Peanut butter-heavy with some oak, vanilla and bourbon notes lending a welcoming addition. Mike and Trish wanted to drown in the aroma (our words, not theirs, but theirs were quite similar... Mike actually did take forever to smell his portion and waited to actually drink it for a long time, which, if you know Mike, is rather unlike him. Trish waited even longer. Peanut, at our side, just complained about how Jennie had overly hopped the porter for her Birthday Brew, even though he only has tasted -- and will taste -- the wort). The flavor is almost like the aroma. Peanut butter-heavy, with gentle flavors of cocoa, wood and bourbon. This isn't overly boozy, which we find rare with barrel-aged brews. This drinks smooth with very light carbonation. A nice dry, woody finish tops this off to make something all other barrel aged stouts should be judged against.

Suggested Pairings:
Music: The McCoys, "Hang on Sloopy"
Cheese: An entire cheese plate, replete with grapes and strawberries to recollect your favorite PB&J
Food: Sauerkraut balls from Barley's Ale House #1

5/5 Caps

We decided to stick around for another one, and the Wargos ordered the Christmas ale.

Barley's Ale House
Christmas Ale

(Barley's Christmas Ale- Photo by Nathan Shadley)

It's February. It's cold. We've hit a record number of snow in Central Ohio (as of the 15th, it's the 4th snowiest Winter on record with 45.8 inches so far, 5 inches behind the #3 spot, which was 1909-1910). With that being said, it's still a good time for a Winter Warmer style. Me (Nathan) personally, I'm not a huge fan of the WW style; it's too overdone nowadays. But regardless, when a beer is placed in front of me, I will not complain.

This poured a deep garnet color with a small amount of white head. The aroma on this is deep and complex. Malt-heavy with the typical WW spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, being the most common) lending a nice addition, but not overwhelming. The flavor is similar to the aroma, being malt-driven with hints of the spices. The spices don't try and overwhelm this (a problem I have with most Winter Warmers), which was pleasant. This is one of the best Christmas Ale/Winter Warmer styles I've had.

Suggested Pairings:
Music: Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite"
Cheese: Butterkasse
Food: Ham with pineapple. Or a turducken. Because why the fuck not?!

4.6/5 Caps

As we were leaving, we decided to pick up a growler for later on in the evening. I tried the Aphrodite, but thought it would be too much clove for Jennie's liking (I love clove; Jennie's not a big fan). I decided to go with a classic.

Barley's Ale House
Centennial IPA

(Barley's Centennial IPA in Growler- Photo by Jennie Koeper)

We took this growler of Centennial IPA back to the Wargos where we had dinner (pretzel burgers and a salad). The stomachs were still reeling from the atrocious pizza from earlier, so we decided to tame the lion, so-to-speak, with some more good beer. Good people drink good beer, eh, Hunter?

This poured a gorgeous copper color with decent amount of white head. The plastic, summertime themed cups we poured this in made me forget that it was bitterly cold outside. Damn deception. An
IPA in a summertime cup is a warm feeling.... Damn this winter. Hopsus, we supplicate you to please --PLEASE!!!!!!! -- save us and bring us into Spring, with new life forming and the bitter cold fading away. Regardless, I seem to be getting sidetracked. The aroma on this was nice earthy and citrus tones with a very dank note. The flavor is fantastic. Caramel and biscuit malts lend themselves perfectly to the herbal, earthy and citrus notes from the hops. We're familiar with the Centennial hop strain, but the hop characteristics being so complex must be from the blend of Williamette and Fuggle being in there as well. This is fantastic. This is smooth drinking with decent carbonation (even after 5 hours in the growler). This has a nice balance to it that leaves the tongue longing for more. There is a slight resiny feel to the finish. According to Barley's website, this is 7.6% ABV with 71 IBU.

Suggested Pairings:
Music: The Damned Things, "We've Got A Situation Here"
Cheese: Wisconsin sharp Cheddar, as long as they're not beating the Buckeyes in [insert sport here]
Food: The beer cheese dip with pitas, available at Barley's Ale House #1

4.8/5 Caps

Monday, February 17, 2014

Stout Night

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On January 23rd, we went to a event at World of Beer. This event had an epic beer selection. We took notes on our Untappd application.

Beer # 1
Bell's Black Note Stout

(picture of Bell's Black Note Stout- Photo by Nathan Shadley)
Oh, Bell's Black Note Stout. We've hunted for you for about a year. You are an elusive one. Finally we were able to catch you and enjoy your bliss. A barrel aged behemoth that is sought out by many, your 11.8% ABV was well noticed.

This was available on tap. The pour was pitch black with small amount of light caramel head. The aroma on this was fantastic. A lot of roasted, some chocolate, and some bourbon notes come through with the initial sniff. The taste is not disappointing. Roasted, molasses, brown sugar and chocolate toward the foreground, with some bourbon, oak and vanilla flavors coming through toward the back. This was thick and syrupy with decent carbonation, smooth sipping beer with some alcohol bite and bitterness on the backend. This makes up for the parking meter outside eating an extra quarter.

Suggested pairings:
Music: Miles Davis, "Bitches Brew"
Cheese: Parmiggiano-Reggiano
Food: Creme brulee

5/5 Caps

(side by side Bell's Black Note Stout- Photo by Jennie Koeper)

Beer # 2
Bell's Hopslam (draft)

(Bell's Hopslam in foreground, Flying Dog Kujo in background- Photo by Jennie Koeper)

We've previously reviewed Hopslam, and rightfully so as it's Jennie's favorite beer. We had the opportunity to have this on draft, and of course, we took advantage of this. The aroma is citrus (possibly Citra) hop heavy with hints of honey and pine. A lot heavier, fresher flavor on draft than in a bottle. The appearance is about the same (only different being this was in the proper glass for this). The flavor is much better on draft as well. A fresh blast of pine, followed by an onslaught of citrus. This finishes bitter and more resiny (as opposed to honey) than the bottle.

The residual staling of hops on my tongue...
The warmth of alcohol coursing through my veins.
-Ode To Hopslam, Jennie, 1/15/2012

Suggested pairings:
Music: The Ramones, "I Wanna Be Sedated"
Cheese: Vermont white cheddar
Food: Baklava

5/5 Caps

(Flying Dog Kujo and Bell's Hopslam- Photo by Nathan Shadley)

Beer # 3
Flying Dog Kujo

 (Flying Dog Kujo- Photo by Nathan Shadley)

Oh... Ho ho ho... This beer... Oh, yes, this beer. This saddens me that it's been so few and far between that I can obtain this. I personally love this beer, possibly my favorite beer of all time. We had this first in January of 2012. After that, we couldn't find any until May 2012 (while healing from my broken foot, Jennie found some old stock). We were hoping for a release last year that we could review, but unfortunately, it never made it to Ohio. I've been longing to have this sweet bliss bless my mouth again, and on this fateful night, it happened (actually, this and Black Note are the reasons we made sure we attended this).

This was the first time having this on tap. This poured black as coal with a light caramel lacing on along the edge of the glass. The nose was very faint, but upon deep sniffs, nothing but a good coffee. The flavor on this is roasted malts and coffee. Heavy on the coffee. Mmm, coffee. Jennie picked up heavy vanilla toward the back that I didn't. For being 8.9 % ABV, this is smooth drinking, with decent carbonation and a slightly sticky (sweet-like) mouthfeel. I find this interesting that this beer has less reviews on both BeerAdvocate and RateBeer than Black Note. Does this mean this is a harder to find beer? Regardless, I personally would bathe in this daily if it were readily available.

Suggested pairings:
Music: Mad Season, "Long Gone Day"
Cheese: Double Gloucester
Food: Belgian waffles or pain au chocolat

5/5 Caps

Beer # 4
Weasel Boy Barrel-Aged Anastasia 

(Weasel Boy B.A. Anastasia- Photo by Jennie Koeper)

This has been building a lot of hype around Central Ohio. Weasel Boy is out of Zanesville (30-40 minute drive from Columbus) and has had limited distribution here. The first time we saw this was at Kenny Road Market, which was priced at $50 for a pre-filled  growler. Ouch. The regular Anastasia was a Bronze medal winner in 2010 and Gold medal winner in 2012 at GABF, so we had to try this. At 10% ABV, Jennie decided to have this alone (as someone had to drive) with a couple sips from me.

Black as coal pour, decent carbonation with an off white head that was noticeable and lingering. At this point, the notes we were taking became 'humorous,' more or less, as we were feeling the previous heavy-test brews. What I can make from our notes is this had a flavor of chocolate that blended into an intense coffee flavor with some oak, bourbon and vanilla toward the backend.  This drank smooth as velvet with a slight tickle of the throat from the carbonation. The ABV was not really noticed while drinking this (unlike the Black Note Stout). "Totes Ma Goats Amazeballs" in the notes a few different times...

Suggested Pairings:
Music: Tchaikovsky, "Swan Lake". Yes, the entire opera.
Cheese: Baby Swiss from Amish country
Food: Georgian shashlik, a kebab from the Caspian Sea region

5/5 Caps

Beer #5
Bell's Smitten Golden Rye Ale

(Bell's Smitten- Photo by Nathan Shadley)

We rounded out the night with a good old standard, Bell's Smitten. This was poured from the bottle into a pint glass. We've previously reviewed this, so for our review, please click the link to it.

(Bell's Smitten- Photo by Jennie Koeper)