Saturday, November 29, 2008

What's brewing this weekend: Leftovers

Appropriately for the holiday weekend, I'm just trying to take care of what I've got left in the fridge before beginning a search for something new. So far that's meant some Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (ol' standby) and Abita Turbodog. There's also a Sam Adams Honey Porter or two left in there that I might get around to pouring.

What are you drinking this weekend with your leftover turkey and dressing?

Friday, November 21, 2008

What's brewing this weekend

It's been a rough week here at The Star, and I've never really appreciated the meaning of "Miller Time" more than today.

To that end, my friend who made the big beer run last week is bringing down some of the unconsumed portion of that haul. I'm not sure what's left or what he'll bring, but I remember seeing a bottle of Young's Double Chocolate Stout and a Sweetwater Festive Ale. We're going to stay at my house while our spouses head out to a scrapbooking gathering.

What will you be consuming this weekend, and under what circumstances?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Today's column:Hey, porter: Rich, dark brew is a sweet winter classic


Since porter derived its name from an early popularity with people who carried things for a living, it's sort of fitting that many people now think of it as a winter beer.

After all, it's this time of year that people are toting loaded shopping bags, hefting big dishes to the feast table and hauling the family off to visit relatives for the holidays.

Or maybe it's that the deep-dark colored ale, with its malty-rich flavor tastes so good alongside all those holiday dishes that tend to appear only near the end of the year — slow-roasted turkey, brown-sugar-encrusted sweet potatoes, any number of sinful deserts.

Porter is said to have taken its name from the hard-working laborers around London where the beer was born in the 18th century. The characteristic dark brown or even black color comes from the special varieties of malted barley, the grain that is the bedrock of most beer. As with all brews, first the barley is soaked to allow the seeds to germinate, then heated to dry it and promote the conversion of starch to alcohol.

For porters and other darker beers, some or all of the barley is dried at higher temperatures, changing the color and flavors of the resulting malt. Generally speaking, the higher the temperature, the darker the malt and the more complex the flavors. Brewers mix and match malts to achieve their desired tastes. "Chocolate" malt can add caramel or vanilla flavors; patent malt is dried hot enough it turns black and picks up an acrid smokiness. Crystal malt is roasted in a rotating drum before the drying process, and can give the resulting beer an extra sweetness.

Porters, like their cousins the stouts, pair well with a number of entrees, and their rich body makes them an excellent base for chili and stew recipes. And all those roasty flavors mean the dark beers are an excellent match for rich deserts, playing much the same role a cup of coffee does alongside a slice of pie or cake. It might sound counter-intuitive, but the next time you pour a glass of porter, hold back just a splash in the bottle and drizzle it over a bowl of vanilla ice cream — you'll never need chocolate syrup again.

Below are a few good porters from American brewers; all can be found either in area restaurant coolers or on local store shelves — at least you won't have to carry them far to get them home.

Sierra Nevada Porter — A good, straight-up basic porter, with a rich taste from chocolate and caramel hops. Naturally for a West-Coast brew (Sierra Nevada is based in Chico, Calif.), bitter hops balance out the sweetness.

Samuel Adams Honey Porter — True to porter's heritage, Boston Beer Co. uses English hops varieties alongside the roasted malts, then sets it all off with a bit of Scottish honey. The brewer suggests trying it alongside glazed ham and roasted vegetables.

Rogue Mocha Porter — This is your dessert beer. With generous doses of chocolate, black and crystal hops, it'll stand up to the richest, gooiest dessert you can serve. Try it with ice cream, as mentioned above; even better with a warm fudge brownie underneath that scoop of vanilla.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Lazy Mag bottles roll into town

Great news, Calhoun County beer fans: Lazy Magnolia's Southern Pecan Brown Ale is now available in bottles here.

After we finished cleaning up the reception hall following the wedding tonight, my fellow groomsman and I headed to the Grub Mart at Mountain & Pelham in Jacksonville (click for a map) to restock my nearly empty fridge. I was shocked to see a pile of the Lazy Mag sixers on display in the middle of the floor. The Southern Pecan previously had been available only on tap in a few select places around the county. Props to Supreme Beverage for bringing the good stuff our way,

Anyone seen the bottles available anywhere else around town?

Friday, November 14, 2008

What's brewing this weekend

A good buddy of mine is getting married this weekend, and both he and my fellow groomsman are beer fans. There's expected to be a little consumption tonight, as you might already have assumed. The other groomsman arrived from Georgia today with a load of assorted goodies, including a number of winter seasonals - Sweetwater's Festive Ale and Sierra Nevada's Celebration Ale among them.

I'm unsure if there' s to be any other brew on offer at the rehearsal dinner (it's got a tailgate party theme), or at the reception, but as we relax later tonight for our friend's last night of bachelorhood, we'll have something to warm us while the temperature drops outside.

What will you be sipping this weekend, and where? Click below to comment.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cleburne County may not be ready for bars (and I'm back)

Cleburne County residents voted Nov. 4 to go "wet," ending that county's longtime unique "moist" status, under which beer could be sold only un-chilled (or "hot" as people keep saying - that just sounds wrong) and sales of hard liquor were prohibited. But the Heflin City Council last night discussed new laws to prevent bars from opening in the city. County Commission officials also are considering restrictive measures.

What do you think?

Meanwhile, how many times have you heard a blogger promise to post more regularly? Well, since technically you could say I'm getting paid to do this, I'll be keeping that promise. It's not like there's no local alcohol news out there to share.