Thursday, February 24, 2011

Brooklyn East India Pale Ale

After the week from hell, in terms of the little duo coming down consecutively with a fever virus, I did manage to travel to Binghamton and have an opportunity to sample the eighth beer for the blog: Brooklyn's East India Pale Ale. The beer appeared at my dwelling, courtesy of my dad, who took a gamble at Cavanaugh's and brought a six-pack home for us to enjoy. 
Ironically, without being prompted to select a brew from the state of NY, my dad must have had ESP because he picked one from the Brooklyn Brewery, which I have yet to visit but thinking it would make for a fun fieldtrip in the future.
My dad claims he bought the East India IPA, for me, because I mentioned I had enjoyed a Harpoon Belgian Ale (review pending) earlier in my visit, and that since the IPA was an ale, it should be similar.  When I asked my dad if he had, really, read any of my earlier blog posts, that explain the differences between ales and India pale ales (refer to Otter Creek Black IPA post), he admitted he may have but didn't remember their distinctions (as they do exist and are significant)!
However, I was very grateful for his effort, to try to pick a tasty brew, and it really did prove to be a great choice for many reasons!

Taste:  not overly hoppy or bitter rather malty and lightly sweet on the palate;
very tasty & enjoyable and according to my dad it was "yummy!"

Color: honey bronze 

Thickness:  A dense frothy head with minimal bubbles produces a lightness in each sip.

Will it help me sleep better?  Powerful at 6.8% ABV; I could only manage half a pint with dinner or I would have fallen asleep before putting my troops to bed. However, one full pint would have been suffice for me per normal circumstances as well.

Mom Factoid: I paired the pint with my hometown pride, Lupo's Chicken Spiedies and found it to be the perfect complement. Interestingly, the Brooklyn Brewery website, gives you ideas for food pairings and even provides recipes for these dishes, which is rather resourceful & genius, as who has time to be thinking of food pairings and recipes when you've got toddlers?!
An example they gave for a food pairing for this beer is spicy crab cakes:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Peak Organic Espresso Amber Ale

Peak's Organic Espresso Amber Ale, the seventh beer to be reviewed in the blog, was the brew I selected for Super Bowl Sunday! Why, you ask? Because, it is a "special" release ale produced in Portland in conjunction with Trade Certified espresso by Coffee By Design, another local Portland establishment.  The word "special" drew me to it as the SB has somehow morphed into a "special" occasion with parties, food, friends, pools etc...This year, the husband and I quickly came to the realization that we'd be home bound with the little duo enjoying the actual game and forgo an invitation to a Japanese themed SB party.
We planned our detailed menu & indulged in tacos with the kids, danced to The Black Eyed Peas during halftime & the husband even watched the ending of the game on picture-in-picture on our TV while our daughter watched her favorite Angelina Ballerina episode...what a win-win for him (even won a little dough in his office pool too)!
But, this isn't about our SB party, it's about the brew, and, sadly, it was not that "special" for me!  I've had other Peak beers, my favorite being their fall release of Maple Oatmeal Ale but this one just didn't do it for me.  I found myself shaking my head while sipping it and swishing it around my mouth hoping it would start to taste better.  According to their website,, they produce their ale, "to start bright and lively from an abundance of Crystal Malts by establishing a strong contrast between front palate and back palate by adding generous amounts of Munich Malt, which provides a distinct toasty finish." Unfortunately, for me, their abundance of malts and my multiple tastings did not improve my experience with the beer.   Here are my results after the big game:

Taste: malty slightly biscuity with a bittery (not buttery) aftertaste--like a hoppy floral tang
Color: brown with cranberry hues--quite pretty
Thickness: slight to moderate with little head and few bubbles
Will it help me sleep better? you would think so due to the high alcohol content at 6.8% ABV but with the espresso in it the opposite effect should have occurred...who knows?  I don't think I drank enough to comment on the sleep or no sleep category, other than to say that I did manage to stay up for the entire SB game!
Mom Factoid: While this beer may not have been one that I'd choose again, I do applaud Peak's for trying to merge a mom's coffee addiction with a brew.  In terms of coffee, there's nothing better than waking up to a strong pot of joe and meeting up with a mom or group of moms for a cup of coffee during a play date!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Otter Creek Alpine Black IPA

The sixth beer to get reviewed is Otter Creek's Alpine Black IPA. Truthfully, I do not typically enjoy the India Pale Ale Style (aka IPA). It always tastes a bit too hoppy for me.  Why is that?
Let me provide you with a quick history of India Pale Ales: 
  • Originally developed in the late 1700's.
  • British breweries would send beer on boats to their troops & British expatriots in India.
  • However, due to a lack of refrigeration and lengthy ocean voyages (took closely five months), the beer arrived in an unfavorable condition.
  • The brewers back then knew both hops (where we get the bitterness in beer) and alcohol act as natural preservatives.
  • So, they came up with a brew that was very hopped and high in alcohol --- thus creating the "India Pale Ale." 
However, I was swayed to try this one by the "black" associated with this version of an IPA, as I do enjoy darker beer. Plus, Otter Creek is a micro-brewery in Middlebury, Vermont (for more information on the brewery, refer to Mom's Malt Barley Resources) & with all of these snow storms, currently, and in the recent weeks, I had a desire to stay in the Northeast, particularly New England, and fill my pint glasses with tasty winter beers. Interestingly, while this beer is considered a winter seasonal brew, it first debuted this past July in Burlington, Vermont at the state's brewers festival as a small pilot batch. Yet, it was so well received that Otter Creek decided to release it has their official Winter Seasonal beer this year and I'm so glad they did!
Overall, when paired with tangy slow-cooked bbq ribs & cornbread, I really enjoyed this beer. 
Psychologically, the brew completed a perfect winter's weekend night, when you sit bundled up by the fire, in long johns, exhausted by the frigid cold yet secretly excited for the next storm.
Taste: a deep rich hoppy almost citrusy aroma yet left a malty-mocha toasty finish in your mouth
Color: imagine walking in the Alpine white snowy woods & spotting a beautiful, dark chocolate, brown bear in your imagine that color in your pint glass
Thickness: after a few deep sips, it felt silky smooth with a medium body and a decent head of white
Will It Help Me Sleep Better? I wanted to hibernate after consuming one bottle which has a 6% ABV
Mom Factoid: My "brown bear" reference to the beer's color, reminds me of the children's author, Eric Carle, and his wonderful books! I have read "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" hundreds of times to the little duo! Ssh, I will tell you, there is a 'Red Bird looking at me'!
For a complete list of Carle's work, refer to this website: