So November is the month we've added a new section to the Beer of the Month Clubs reviews. We're now getting the Beer of the Month Club from Amazing Clubs, and we'll review it for you every month. This way, you Craft Beer Drinkers can see what kind of quality they're sending and make the most informed decision possible. We're really happy to be able to bring you this information on DrinkCraftBeer.com.
"The Frosted Mug," Amazing Club's monthly newsletter, give you a history of both breweries each monthly and some tasting notes on all four beers. You'll be able to find the answers to most of your questions about these beers here.
This month, Amazing Clubs sends us two local favorites (local for us, not necessarily for you!). Sherwood Forest our of Marlborough, MA and Shipyard from Portland, ME. We're quite familiar with both breweries, having been drinking both for a few years now. Sherwood is represented by their flagship Archer's Ale and the Maiden's Blueberry Ale. From Shipyard we're drinking their Prelude Special Ale and the Longfellow Winter Ale, both winter seasonals.
And, like always, if you want to join this club go here: Click to Join.
Sherwood Forest Archer's Ale
Appearance: Red-amber with a bone white head.
Smell: Creamy malt with mild hops.
Taste: Nutty malt with some mild hops. A sessionable interpretation of an English Pale Ale. It's good, but not phenomenal.
Note: So Sherwood Forest is brewed right in our backyard, based in Marlborough, MA. It's definitely a nice beer to revisit. We've always enjoyed it as a good local session beer. We're very glad to see people outside the area getting a chance to try it!
Shipyard Longfellow Winter Ale
Appearance: Dark dark brown with red tinges at the sides. Light brown head.
Smell: Figs, chestnuts and spices. A good winter ale smell. Dark fruit in there.
Taste: Dark cherries with a light chocolatey finish and some roastiness. Light on the tongue, but finishes full. A very nice winter ale from Shipyard.
Note: Again, this is a beer brewed locally for us (Maine). It's nice to see some local breweries getting exposure all across the country in these clubs. That's why we love these things. There's enough "hype" beers out there. People need to see theres a lot of just good drinkable beers all over the country as well.
Sherwood Forest Maiden's Blueberry Ale
Appearance: Pale straw color with a white fluffy head.
Smell: Blueberry. You can smell it from several feet away. But authentic blueberry, not fake blueberry flavoring.
Taste: Tastes like heated blueberries (except it's cold)... meaning it tastes like the blueberries in pancakes or pie. Honestly, we went into this skeptical expecting not to like it. We opened one between five of us... and ended up immediately opening a second beer upon tasting it so we could each have more. Nice biscuit flavor backing up the blueberry. This isn't one we'd have a bunch of, but we're definitely enjoying this! Much more than we expected. And we don't normally like fruit beers. Check this one out. Also, be on the lookout for a waffle recipe involving this beer. We're currently perfecting the concept.
Shipyard Prelude Special Ale
Appearance: Red... Straight up deep garnet with a tan head.
Smell: Dates and raisins. Dried sugary fruit... Fruitcake.
Taste: Bold and robust malt with some biscuit and light roast. Mildly spiced in the back of your throat. We almost want to chew it... like a gingersnap cookie. There's some molasses in there. This is a very solid winter ale that will warm you up on a cold night!
Well it's about time for the holidays again this year, so we here at DrinkCraftBeer.com thought the time was right for another craft beer and food pairing article. And what better food to pair with craft beer for the holidays than cookies!? Trust us, Santa will be much happier with craft beer and cookies than the same old milk and cookies he finds everywhere else. Or, better yet, eat cookies and drink craft beer while exchanging gifts with your family and friends. Or just do it for dessert! Craft beer and cookies are a can't lose combination in any situation.
This time, we went a little beyond what we normally do. We know you're spending money on presents this time of year and don't exactly have a ton of cash left over to be buying more stuff to bring home. Beer is a necessity (at least we think so), but cookies you can make yourself. So, in the spirit of saving more money for gifts, we've baked these cookies ourselves and are including the recipes with the tasting notes. That way you can save some money AND impress your mom with you baking abilities. Trust us, if we can make them then anybody can.
Also, for those of you who live in the Boston area, we'll be running a tasting with these combinations at The Wine Gallery in Brookline from 3-6pm on Saturday, December 20th. Come on by and try them for yourselves!
Wine Gallery Brookline
375 Boylston Street
By T: Green Line, D to Brookline Hills Stop
Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar & Oatmeal Cranberry Butterscotch Cookies
This pairing was a last minute surprise. We were thinking a darker stout would work best, but saw this and (luckily) gave it a try. The cookies definitely make the beer better, and the beer makes the cookies better. The sweet malt (beer), cinnamon (cookie) and the oatmeal (cookie) pair great, while the hazelnut plays off the super-sweet butterscotch to add a very interesting dimension. Also, the butterscotch and the brown sugar really bring out the hazelnut in the beer. The cranberry wraps everything up by adding a little tart tang at the end that really puts a finish to it.
Get the recipe here. Our friend Janice made them for this tasting and they're delicious!
Southern Tier Choklat Imperial Chocolate Stout & Peanut Butter Cookies
I mean, was there even a question? A super chocolaty stout and peanut butter… It’s a given. Yeah, this is delicious. It’s like a peanut butter cup. No brainer! (We know the cookies in the picture have chocolate… the tasting cookies will not have chocolate in them.)
Recipe: For these cookies, just get the Betty Crocker Peanut Butter Cookie mix and follow the directions. They come out very well. We told you that these cookies would be easy to make!
Vichtenaar Flemish Ale & Double Chocolate Cookies
Some of you long-term readers and tasters might remember this brewery from our Valentine's Day Beer & Chocolate tasting. We sampled Eicht Kriekenbier with the Taza 80% Cacao Chocolate bar. Well the beer went over so well, we wanted to include another beer from this little-known Belgian brewery! Actually, if you came later to that tasting, you've already tried Vichtenaar... Eicht Kriekenbier was so popular that we ran out part way through the tasting, so we had to switch to the Vichtenaar. The substitution went over so well that we decided we had to do a custom pairing.
The fudgy chocolate and 60% cacao chunks match perfectly with the tart but sweet Vichtenaar. The beer has a cherry-ish fruit flavor with a tart finish. The cookies are super fudgy without being overly sweet. The tart beer cuts the fudge, while the sweetness and the dark fruit of the beer go perfectly with the dark chocolate. We've determined that dark chocolate and tart sweet/dark fruit beer goes perfectly with dark chocolate. This one is a must try!
Recipe: These are slightly more difficult than the Peanut Butter Cookies... You still start with the Betty Crocker Double Chocolate Cookie mix. You're then going to strain out the chocolate chunks that are in there, and replace them with about 9 oz of Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips (most of a 11.5 oz bag, but not all). This will make the cookies much richer and more chocolaty, which is key to pairing with the tart Vichtenaar.
Peak Organic Espresso Amber Ale
We tried this beer a few weeks ago and were completely blown away by it. The espresso is definitely the dominant flavor, with a very dry coffee finish. It's almost like drinking black coffee. The malt from the amber base beer tempers what would otherwise be an overly astringent brew and turns this into a delicious coffee beer that we've never seen the likes of before. We tried pairing it with every different kind of cookie we had available to us (and that was a lot of cookies) but, in the end, decided the beer really needed to be tried alone to truly be appreciated. Try this after you've had dinner or after dessert, just like you'd normally have a cup of coffee, an espresso, a cappuccino or anything like that. And those of you that don't like coffee don't fret. A lot of our non-coffee drinking friends have enjoyed it just as much as we have. This one will throw anybody for a loop, seasoned craft beer drinker or not!
For the very first time, New Hampshire's Smuttynose Brewing Company will be offering a subscription to get a case of each Big Beer they put out in 2009. The lineup is:
- Gravitation Belgian Quad (New Release) - early January, 2009
- Imperial Stout - mid February
- Maibock - late March
- Baltic Porter - Early May
- Farmhouse Ale - late June
- Big A IPA - early August
- Wheat Wine - mid September
- Barley Wine - early November
- S'Muttonator Double Bock - early December, 2009
This is one of the finest brewers on the East Coast, and each edition of their Big Beer Series is limited and often hard to get if you don't act right away... Their Big A has been known to sell out of stores within a week of release (and some stores sell out in a day). This subscription will ensure you get some of each one.
The downside? You have to buy a case of each and you have to pick it up at the Brewery. But, they will be having beer socials for the release of each brew. For all the details, check out the website here.
We just received word from Mayflower Brewing Company that they will be releasing their much-awaited Bourbon Barrel Aged Porter this weekend, December 12th & 13th, 2008. The beer was aged in Buffalo Trace barrels and will be extremely rare. For more details, here's the email sent by the brewery:
Happy Holidays from Mayflower Brewing Company!
We are pleased to tell you that we will be releasing our Bourbon Barrel-Aged Porter this week at the brewery. This unique version of our award-winning Mayflower Porter was aged in a Buffalo Trace bourbon barrel for a month this fall. The result combines hints of bourbon and oak with the rich flavor of our Porter to create a smooth and complex brew that will warm your soul.
As you may know, supply is extremely limited, with just 70 growlers for sale. To make it available to as many of you as possible, we will be pre-filling growlers and selling them on a first-come, first-served basis at two separate times , with the first 35 growlers available on Friday 12/12 from 4:30PM to 6:30PM and the second 35 growlers available on Saturday 12/13 from 12 noon to 3:00PM. Pricing will be $20 per growler (including the $2 deposit), and quantities will be limited to one per customer.
All the best for the holidays, and we look forward to seeing you this week at the brewery!
This is one beer we've been excited about for a few months now, and could not wait to try! Unfortunately we'll both be in Pennsylvania this weekend for the Sly Fox IPA Fest (I know, I know... no sympathy for us!). We're leaving early Friday and coming back late Saturday, so looks like we'll miss this one. But it is definitely highly recommended!