Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving! Three Great Local Beers for Your Thanksgiving Meal...

Happy Thanksgiving!

I had intended to post earlier this week with beer recommendations for your Thanksgiving meal, but I got delayed by work, and in the interim it would appear that every other beer blogger has already posted these thoughts. And while it is Thanksgiving eve, and most of you have already bought your turkey day brews, I'm gonna plow ahead and say drink local and seasonal and still give you my thoughts on three great, local beers for your Thanksgiving holiday festivities.

Thanksgiving Ale
Mayflower Brewing, Plymouth, MA
8% abv

I love seasonal Ales that are NOT spiced. This is one such beer. It's brewed in the style of an old English Strong ale and aged on oak.

This beer pours a very dark brown- maybe ruby red when held up to strong light- clear, with a low, white head. Hints of oak and fruit are immediately noticeable on the nose, but it's not overly sweet. There is a strong,earthy maltiness as well.

This is a full bodied beer- thick and chewy, with mild carbonation.

The first sip produces expected notes of oak up front, and a strong malt profile. There's a nice alcohol warmth also, but its not overwhelming. The finish is clean and crisp.

This is a great beer for a heavy thanksgiving meal- its got a lot of flavor that won't wilt under the assault of gravy and turkey that greets most of our palettes on Thanksgiving. It also won't overpower the meal or knock you out with an absurdly high alcohol content- this beer checks in at a moderate 8%.   It reminds me a lot of Greene King Brewing's "Crafty Old Hen", an English Ale blend of a Strong ale aged on oak and a young ale.

Grateful Harvest Ale
Harpoon Brewing, Boston, MA
5.9% abv

A portion of the sales of each six pack of Grateful Harvest go to a local food bank. How cool is that?

This is billed as a cranberry ale, but I think it more accurate to describe it as an Ale with cranberries. Its not a lambic style, where the cranberries are front and center. In Grateful Harvest, the cranberries are clearly a supporting actor, bringing a very subtle sweetness to robust and malty red/brown ale. It's lighter than the Mayflower Thanksgiving Ale featured above, but still has enough flavor to stand up to a hearty meal. I love this beer, and its social conscience.

Hoponius Union
Jacks Abby Brewing, Framingham, MA

My thoughts on Jacks Abby are well known- I love their beer- and their flagship Hoponius Union IPL will be in my glass on Thanksgiving afternoon. Hop Union has an amazing aroma and a bright, clean taste that will cut through the heft of any meal. If you haven't tried it, what are you waiting for?

Happy Thanksgiving all! On this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for all of you that read this humble beer blog! Cheers to you!

aka MDB

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Post #100- Half Marathon Outcome/Clown Shoes "Vampire Slayer"

This is post number 100 on Man Drinks Beer!

When last we met, I wrote about my training for the Ashland Half Marathon at the end of October. To the right here is yours truly, finally crossing the finish line after a pain filled 13.1 miles.

Why pain filled you ask? Because I ran the dumbest race of my life (and that says something!).

First off, the event was very well organized- plentiful and easy to access free parking, easy "day of" number packet pick up, and reasonable lines at the porta johns. The field wasn't too huge, but it was packed at the start.  The course itself was beautiful- lots of trees and woods- except for all those hills! I honestly think they should call this the "Ashland 12 miles of Hills and 1 Sorta Flat Mile at About Mile 9 Half Marathon."

So, the race itself. I ran stupid. Despite a very good training lead up and a good strategy, I ran poorly. Mostly because I abandoned my strategy of going out slow and running consistent splits at about 500 yards. Why? Adrenaline, I guess. I felt great. Thought I could sustain my pace. I felt so good I skipped water stops. Then I hit the hills. And more hills. So I shouldn't have been surprised by the sudden, paralyzing leg cramps I suddenly got at mile 10 (at which point I was still on pace for a sub 2 hour finish, by the way). As the cramps intensified, I hit Green Street, which I learned is also called the "Green Monster" because its a sharp, blind, left hand turn that shoots you straight up the worst hill on the course. Everyone in front of me was walking. Everyone. So I stopped and walked. I thought I'd start running maybe halfway up, but the legs vetoed that action with more massive calve cramps. So I walked.

What you see in the picture here is me after a 47 minute, 3 mile walk/run/limp/curse-fest over the final miles of the course. Thank God the last mile or so is downhill, or I might still be out there! After finishing, I was very concerned over my body's ability to make it home, so I very sadly skipped the Long Trail beer booth, limped to my car, and drove home.

When I did finally feel well enough for a beer, I decided that I needed a strong one to purge the taste of failure from my mouth. Here's what I chose.....

"Vampire Slayer" (Smoked Imperial Stout)
Clown Shoes Brewing, Ipswich MA
11% ABV

Sadly, the cool name of this beer will be discontinued. Get the story here and understand why some lawyers are scum.

The good news is that the beer itself will remain on shelves, albeit under a new name, but with the same awesome recipe!

From the bottle:

"In a world full of uncertainty, hardship, and people trying to hold us back, do we need Vampires, too? Clown Shoes says, “No! Die, monsters, die!” 

Our second anniversary ale incorporates signature dark malts, holy water, and malt smoked locally with hickory, ash, and vampire killing stakes"

History has taught me that Clown Shoes Stouts are outstanding, so it was with eager anticipation that I popped to top off my bottle of Vampire Slayer.

Vampire Slayer pours thick, oily and pitch black into the glass, with a healthy two inches of tan head.

This is an imperial smoked stout, so I expect some smokiness on the nose. What I get is more akin to roasted coffee and cocoa, deep and robust.

Mouthfeel is creamy and thick, with low levels of carbonation, and also reveals the first characteristics of smoke. The body on this beer is wondrous!

Taste is where the smoke really presents- immediately I get smokey peat and roasted malts, profound and tasty, earthy and intense. Boozy at 11% alcohol, the wood smoked malts- over hickory and ash- really stand out in the first few draws from the glass. Resinous hops and bitterness cut the richness of the coffee and burnt cocoa flavors, giving it an amazing balance. Finish is shockingly clean, with a touch of alcohol burn for good measure.

Vampire Slayer is an excellent, excellent stout. The alcohol hits hard, which is my only complaint. The tastes here are amazing, intense and well balanced. Highly recommended.

I would love a version of this at 5% abv.

Have you tried Vampire Slayer? Tell me what you thought of it.