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Friday, January 27, 2012

Firestone XV

Photo from Firestone's website. Visit them!
Firestone XV

When: New Year's Eve

Served in: Wine Glass

Appearance: Pours a deep ruby red, some haze, tight off white head.

Aroma: big vanilla oak with chocolate and malt.

Taste: Big warming oak with hints of cocolate, finishing with some alcohol heat. No two sips
are alike! Picking up orange peel once, sometimes chocolate. As it warms the orange and fruit
comes out more. The warmth also brings out a roastier, tannic finish.

Mouthfeel: Low to moderate carb, incredibly drinkable at 12%. Noticable alcohol burn, but
but nothing you wouldnt expect. The body is lean enough to keep sipping without thinking
its maple syrup.

Overall: A big, drinkable, complicated beer that can probably use a year to develop and let the oak mellow out.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Chicken Sandwich Paired with Innis & Gunn Rum Cask Aged

Innis & Gunn's Rum Cask Oak Aged Ale is a unique and exciting brew.  I first encountered it at the Philly Craft Beer Festival in early 2011, where it made my top 3  beers of the day.  You can check out that review HERE.  The exciting part about the beer is its confluence of flavors:  The oak cask imparts an earthy, vanilla essence, with dark and sensual spices of Jamaican rum providing an appropriately playful partner for the sweetness.

Here's how you replicate my awesome sandwich:  First ingredient is a chicken breast.  Cut it down fairly small, then beat the crap out of it with a tenderizer.  Next, sprinkle kosher salt and fresh-cracked peppercorn on both sides and finally, grill it to perfection.  There.

The roll wasn't the best ever, but here's how you make it sexy-- Cut it open and put some oil-cured olives on one side, and Chimay cheese on the other.  Put it under the broiler for a few minutes until the bread is browned and the cheese is melty.  Excellent.


Now there's a serious sandwich.  Very savory.  So how does the Innis & Gunn rum cask ale match up with the food?  I have to be honest, it didn't work as well as I thought it would.  A week or two ago, I had Chimay cheese on a burger made with onions sauteed in Victory Golden Monkey.  The onions had taken on an extra sweetness, and the salty cheese was a perfect foil.  Here in my chicken sandwich, the salty bitterness of the olives and the savory Chimay Cheese worked together with the bacon to jazz up the chicken.  So perhaps a dry pale ale or smooth IPA would have cut the bold flavors, almost mimicking the neutrality of the chicken.

The rum flavors of the Innis & Gunn are a little too jazzy to cut the cheese (so to speak), and actually compete a little bit with the bold sandwich.  Perhaps an imperial stout to complement the bacon and the olives?  Or something more Belgian-y to go with the Chimay cheese?  Maybe even the original Innis & Gunn oak aged ale... Wanna check out our review of this beer?  Read it HERE.  Oddly enough, the original I & G review was posted on January 20th, 2010, exactly one year before the writing of this article.  Weird, huh?  Anyway, a session IPA may be the right call in the end.

Innis & Gunn Rum Cask Oak Aged Beer has some food match suggestions on its own site.  Check it out HERE.  Even though a strong, mature cheese is recommended, I wasn't blown away by the pairing with the Chimay cheese.  Maybe I should've added some chutney...  I & G also suggests game such as venison or duck, which both have a stronger flavor than chicken.  I guess that makes sense, considering the dark spiciness of the rum, which would complement the meat rather than compete with the accessories.

While I enjoyed both the sandwich and the beer, I don't think they were paired perfectly.  If you have any serious success stories or epic fails with regards to #craftbeer and food #pairings,  please share them with the Ferment Nation.  We would love to add YOU to our Citizen Review Cabinet.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bell's Java Stout

Bell's Java Stout:

Stouts are somewhat my forte (though I do love a good IPA, too) – and I have been dying to try Bell’s Java Stout.  I had heard only good things about it, but was afraid I might be let down by this beer.  Luckily, I was not!

This beer poured into a tulip without much head, but it had a bold nose full of rich coffee and chocolate notes.  At first taste, I was overwhelmed by the powerful, black coffee flavor of this beer.  It does not have much mouth feel, but with so much flavor, more thickness would almost be overkill.    Overall this was a delightful coffee stout, with much more coffee flavor than for example Tröegs Java Head (you can read the VP's review of Java Head).  I would definitely drink this one again.

I also finally broke out my 33 Bottles of Beer  notebook, this felt like a good beer to christen it.  I found this lovely item when looking for a birthday present for The VP.  At only $12 for a pack of three, this one-hundred percent recycled, USA-made product is both a steal and a smart purchase.  I look forward to using it to help me remember many beers in the coming months!

Monday, January 16, 2012


Cheers to Andy, a great and productive citizen reviewer from the left hand side of the Ferment Nation!

Stone Brewing/Elysian/Bruery
La Citrueille Celeste

Vessel and date: Shaker glass in November 2011

Appearance : Dark brick brown. Stiff white head from a hard pour into the glass.

Aroma: lemon bordering on cloying, enough spiciness and malty esters to balance it out.

Taste: Lemon and spiciness up front, followed by a touch of hop bitterness. Then the spices drop right off, leaving you with a pleasnt roasty finish. All aspects well balanced, nothing too overpowering.

Mouthfeel: Enough carbonation to make the flavors pop, body isn't so heavy that you can't drink this with a slice of pumpkin pie!

Overall: An excellent non traditional pumpkin beer. The absence of the standard spices are a relief from the deluge of clove and nutmeg. Amazingly balanced and creative; one of the best stone colllabos ever!


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Oversight Corrected: Thunder Hole Photo

Back on October 3, 2011 we published a review of Bar Harbor Thunder Hole Ale.  The photos of the beer were taken by yours truly, but the awesome picture of Thunder Hole itself was taken by Greg Hartford of www.AcadiaMagic.com.  The photograph has Greg's credits at the bottom, but truth be told: It's pretty small print.  I should have exercised more diligence in crediting the picture, and so this is my apology to  Greg.  The website is very informative, and the photographs are beautiful.  I recommend visiting Acadia National park for all of its beauty and majesty, just plan your visit by visiting AcadiaMagic.com first.

Photo by Greg Hartford of AcadiaMagic.com
Without exaggeration, about 99% of the photos published on Ferment Nation are taken by the operators or citizen reviewers of the site.  Usually, the "borrowed" photos are credited or linked to the site of origin, but Greg's photo of Thunder Hole slipped through the cracks.  I apologize for the oversight, but it has served as a reminder to be more careful.  If anyone notices anything that may need to be rectified, please leave a comment or email me: president@fermentnation.com.  Thanks and Cheers!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Iron Hill "A Study in Hops"

Here's an oldie but a goodie!  Fate had brought the subject up recently as I caught up with my old friend Jesse.  And Lo!  My note sheet from this Iron Hill experiment shows up in a coat pocket.  The date: April 2, 2011.  I had sample-sized servings of the following:
Base Beer: Irish Red Ale
Medium-bodied red ale brewed without finishing hops.  We split it into 10 kegs and added one of the following hop varieties to each keg:

Northern Brewer (Germany).  Notes: Mild at first, with a dry punch.  Subtle notes.  Extremely drinkable.
East Kent Goldings (England).  Notes: Totally British.  Kinda mild but permeates the brew, especially at the finish.  Passive-aggressive.
Saaz (Czech Republic).  Notes: Light and slightly zippy.  I was waiting for this one...not disappointed.  Brings that pilsner drinkable dryness to an Irish Red.
Styrian Goldings (Slovenia).  Notes: Mysterious.  Well-balanced but hard to describe.  I like it.  I think.
Nelson Sauvin (New Zealand).  Notes: Bright hops, less citrusy than the Citra.  Little milder but very tasty.
Sorachi Ace (Japan).  Notes: Dry and smooth, touch of citrus, reminds me: Saison-ish.  Yards?  Most intriguing.
Citra (United States).  Notes: Hops are a little brighter, giving a fresh lift to the red ale.  Stylish, but I'm looking for a little maltier.
Columbus (United States).  Notes: Bitter on the back end, leaving room for the malt.  Reminds me of: Yakima Glory (light).
Centennial (United States).  Notes: Hops are grungier with a darker, milder grapefruit flavor.  I was expecting something more like Centennial IPA from Founders, but this is different.
Amarillo (United States).  Notes: Slightly funky, easiest drinking so far, but it's cooling down my Chipotle Wings.

The interesting part of this experiment to my mind is the use of the Irish Red as a base.  The malt bill is going to be different from a typical pale ale or IPA, so my assessments of these brews is a bit backwards from my typical tastes in hops.  I usually love Citra and Centennial hops,while Sorachi Ace... not so much.  But here I found that the foreign hops added the most to the Irish Red.  An interesting study indeed...

When first introduced to Iron Hill's beers a few years ago, I was in a very experimental stage and really enjoyed by beers over the top.  Iron Hill had reminded me of the Triumph (the Princeton location was the only one I had visited at that point) in that they were drinkable, yeah, but not very bold.  I found them to be a bit boring back then.  But a visit to Iron Hill North Wales changed my mind:  I discovered the Nine of Diamonds Scotch Ale.  As you check out this brief, please know that the Iron Hill location was incorrectly identified as Maple Shade, NJ...  But never fear!  I also reviewed the McMaster Scotch Ale on Cask while I was at Iron Hill, Maple Shade for A Study in Hops on April 2, 2011.

The truth is, I am enjoying Iron Hill's brews more and more each time I go.  The Pig Iron Porter is a super-solid porter by just about anyone's standards, but their experiments, seasonals, and collaborations have proved to be more and more interesting while maintaining a manageable level of drinkability.  I've met the head brewer of Maple Shade a few times now, and Chris LaPierre has been incredibly accessible and gracious whenever I've bumped into him. I look forward to spending a bit more time at Iron Hill now that my lovely wife included a mug club membership as part of my Christmas present this year (thanks, honey!).  Please share your Iron Hill experiences as well as other beer-drinking adventures with the Ferment Nation.  Include pictures and we'll share them with our readers.  Thanks and Cheers!

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year's Eve 2011

The following story is a Storify collection of tweets (plus added commentary) that were posted on New Year's Eve 2011.  I enjoyed some rare and interesting brews.  If you have tried any of these beers and would like to voice your opinions on them, please get in touch.  We welcome your holiday celebration recaps as well.  Cheers!
So there you have it!  We at the Ferment Nation hope you've enjoyed your holiday celebrations this 2011/2012.  Thanks to you, good citizens, we've had an awesome 2011.  Looking forward to sharing 2012 with you over a few beers.  Cheers!