Parallel 49 Salty Scot

parallel49_labelsIt wasn’t long ago that Parallel 49 Brewing first came to my attention. And after trying their combo pack, which provides a pretty good sampling of what they do, I came to two tentative conclusions. One, the brewers at Parallel 49 tend to experiment with some pretty interesting combinations. And two, the result is really quite good.

But I was decidedly unprepared for some of their latest releases. First, there was the Bad Sweater Milk Stout, which I have yet to try, and their Salty Scot Scotch Ale, which I just finished drinking for the first time. And true to form, this beer is pretty damn experimental, combining caramel and sea salt with a “Wee Heavy”-style scotch ale. And also true to form, the end result was quite pleasing…

Appearance: Dark amber brown, slightly cloudy and good foam retention
Nose: Distinct caramel nose, sugary and sticky sweet
Taste: Light, sweet malts giving way to notes of salt water toffee, viscous and chewy
Aftertaste: Slight tang, giving way to more toffee and touch of smoke
Overall: 8.5/10

What can I say? As far as Wee Heavies go, this is one oddball of a beer! But its taste, nose, and good mouth feel make it a pleasure to drink. At 7.5 alc/vol, it’s certainly deserving of its basic designation, and the sea salt and caramel are a very nice accompaniment, providing some balance to what would otherwise be a heavy ale.

I am intrigued and kind of frightened to know what they might come out with next. Might I suggest something run of the mill; perhaps a nice, simple pale ale? No fruit, no dairy, and no particular variety of candy? No dice, huh? Ah, do what you like. You’re five for five so far 😉

Comfort Bangers and Mash!

Thanks to the lingering cold I’ve picked up, and a cold and rainy front that just won’t seem to quit, I’ve been quite inspired to experiment with comfort food lately. Yes, my wife and I have experimented with a few of our favorite recipes of late, and even found the time to tweak a few time-honored traditional ones. The following falls into the latter category, being an international twist on a British favorite. I had a chance to test drive the recipe recently, and believe me when I tell you it came out hearty and delicious, which was quite comforting!

Dutch-Style Bangers and Mash:
Otherwise known as Boerenkoolstamppot, this dish is very similar to the British variant, except that the potatoes are fortified with vegetables. I should take this opportunity to give a shout out to our friend Berdine, the lady who taught us that! To prepare, first get your hands on some appropriately large and tasty sausages. I prefer either Mennonite or Chorizo, but that’s just me. And of course, you could always go authentic and try actual British bangers, but in this case, you may want more than just a few, as they tend to be smaller in size.

4 large red-skinned potatoes
1 onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 bunch chard
2-4 links of sausage (depending on the size)

Place sausages in a pan with sliced onions and add water. Cook until sausages and onions are full cooked and softened, and keep the liquid for jus. Then boil water in a large pot and add diced potatoes. Cook until softened but not ready, then add chopped chard and garlic (Kale will also do in a pinch). Drain, and add butter and sour cream until desired consistency is achieved. Serve on a plate, add sausages on top, and drizzle jus on top.

Beer Pairing:
Due to the relatively mild but hearty nature of this food, I would recommend something strong and sharp to accent the taste. As such, I would recommend a good stiff IPA, of which numerous examples come to mind. However, I feel the need to venture outside my country of birth on this one and award the top pairing spot to Dogfish Head’s own 90 Minute IPA, a beer which Esquire magazine described as being “perhaps the best IPA in America.”

If none are available, the following beers will certainly do: Red Racer IPA, Hoyne Devil’s Dream, or Rogue Yellow Snow. Pour into a tall glass, and trust the hoppy brew to wash down all those spuds and sausage! The floral and citrusy kick ought to go well with the sausage and onion flavored jus as well.

Thank you and happy eating/drinking! Winter’s right around the corner, so expect something appropriate for a winter ale! Stay tuned…

Comfort Burgers!

Well, its no secret that it’s getting colder outside. And unless culinary traditions from all over the world have lied to me, the most time-honored remedy to this problem is hot food and stiff drink! And so I’m back with more recommendations for comfort food, and this one comes from one of my favorite places in the whole entire world. The backyard grill!

Williams’ Onion and Garlic Beef Burger:
1 onion, finely chopped
1 pound lean ground beef
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon teriyaki sauce
1 bunch leaf lettuce
1 beefsteak tomato
1 red onion
, sliced

Combine ingredients in a bowl, mix until consistent, then start grabbing handfuls and shape them into patties. Depending on your preference, you should get three large-sized burgers, or four regular ones. Place on the grill and flip regularly, cook until lightly charred.

Beer Pairing:
As far as burgers go, you can’t miss with a good hoppy ale. In my experience, hops accompany grilled meat quite well, especially when it’s not delicately spiced. And burgers are all about rustic taste and appeal, so the beer that comes with should be of similar character.

Hence why I would recommend either a good stiff Pale or a solid IPA. And when it comes to Pales, I gotta go with an old favorite – McAuslan’s St. Ambroise Pale Ale! Not only does it have a deliciously hoppy bite, its got the perfect balance of citrus and floral notes to accompany the bite of onions, garlic and garnish that are characteristic of burgers.

Good eats, good drinking, and see you next time! Hoping to find a food that pares well with a winter ale, because Halleluiah, those beers are arriving in store as we speak!

Dead Frog Fearless IPA

I just got a special delivery… and I do mean special! After liaising with the good folks over at Dead Frog brewery a few weeks ago, I was told to expect some samples of their new Fearless IPA. Today was the day that my samples arrived. Yep, three bottles all wrapped up in bubble wrap and sealed in a paper-wrapped box. The sampling began shortly thereafter…

From the earliest indications, the Fearless looks, smells and pours like a true IPA, with an amber color, a hoppy bouquet, and mild foam retention. However, it is slightly different in that it has a very good clarity, which one does not always find with IPAs. The alcohol content and hop content are also consistent with a Northwestern India Pale, weighing in at a respectable 6.5% per/vol and 77 IBUs.

And then of course comes the interesting hop combination. By using Galaxy, Zythos, Cascade and Columbus hops, the brewmasters were clearly going for a unique combination of sweet and robust. The former two strands are Australian and a combination variety that are known for achieving a tropical fruit taste and smell. The latter two are well-known amongst beer drinkers as being what gives Northwestern Pale Ales and IPA’s their citrusy profile. The end result is what one might describe as a rippling effect of flavor.

Appearance: Crystal clear, good amber hue, mild foam
Nose: Citrus notes and hints of pineapple and passion fruit
Taste: Immediate burst of bitterness and malt giving way to citrus and slight sweetness
Aftertaste: Lingering piney flavor, intermittent pineapple
Overall: 8/10

As it stands, this is the third IPA that I’ve sampled from Dead Frog, all of which are only available in the 650ml bottle. First there was their limited release Fusion Hop, followed shortly thereafter by the Citra IPA. Of the three, I think this one ranks the highest. Many beers get bonus marks for experimentation, but this beer gets its marks for being an experiment done right. And just in case people were wondering, absolutely no marks were given for home delivery! 😉 Kudos Dead Frog, congratulation on a fine product and thanks for the sample!

Philips Green Reaper Fresh Hop IPA

It seems just about everybody in Victoria was getting on the “wet-hopped” thing this past summer. First there was Hoyne’s Wolf Vine Pale Ale, then Driftwood’s Sartori Harvest IPA, and now Philips Green Reaper. What do these three venerable breweries and these most recent products have in common? They are all fresh-hopped (aka. wet hopped), meaning they use hops  that are local and fresh off the vine rather than of the usual, dried variety.

However, whereas the previous two beers used Sartori hops fresh from Vancouver, Philips uses Willamette hops were harvested from Nanaimo, mere hours before they were added to this latest limited release. Though I came to it late this past summer, I am happy to add it to my review lineup now.

Appearance: Light, rosy amber, good clarity, low foam
Nose: Light scent of floral and citrus hops
Taste: Light, sweet malts accented by mixed hops palate, herbal, mild citrus,
Aftertaste: Light bitterness, quite smooth and clean
Overall: 8/10

You may notice the word “light” being featured here a few times. Well, there’s a reason for that. As is the case with all fresh-hopped beers that I have now sampled, the flavors are quite subtle and smooth. There is of course the usual combination of citrus and grassy bitterness, but they come across as more subdued and layered. As we are now coming into winter, I have to admit that I will miss this variety of beer which I am quite new to. However, I’m quite sure the winter seasonals will keep me entertained until next summer!

Comfort Paella!

Here is a dish that is appropriate for summer eating, since it was borne of a nation that is used to its fair share of heat! However, I also find that it is perfectly suited to cold, wet weather, the kind of stuff folks here in Canada are certainly used to. And considering that this dish is spicey, rich and brothy, and pack a lot of meat and seafood into a sticky rice base, the kind of food that really sticks your ribs, you’d think someone who was used to freezing their asses off would have invented it.

Matt’s “Pileup” Paella:
I began making this dish roughly five years ago, coinciding with my darling bride and mine’s trip to Spain to walk the Camino de Santiago. After determining that we had not eaten any genuine paella, largely because of the hours pilgrims keep and the fact that restaurants don’t serve their real menu until late in the evening (by which time pilgrims are sound asleep), I decided to learn the recipe and make some myself. The exercise was so popular that my wife and I insist on repeating it whenever possible! Talk about a hot, satisfying dish to chase away the cold and the rain!

1 Clove garlic, chopped
1 Spanish onion, chopped
1 Red pepper, chopped
4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
2 Cups chicken stock
2 Cups water
1 Cup white wine
1 Cup brown rice
1 Chorizo sausage, sliced
1 Breast chicken, sliced
12 Large shelled prawns

1 Cup peas

Combine garlic, onions, pepper and tomatoes in a deep frying dish with Chorizo, chicken and prawns. Stir until garlic, onions, pepper and tomatoes soften and meat and prawns are lightly cooked. Add chicken stock and water, stir thoroughly and add wine. Let sit until liquid comes to a boil and add peas. Let simmer until rice is cooked, stir regularly to prevent sticking. Add crushed chilies or cayenne powder to spice. Traditional recipes generally involve mussels and saffron. In the former case, my wife doesn’t like them, so I avoid their use. As for Saffron, never used it. That spice don’t come cheap, you know!

Beer Pairing:
Now this is a tough one! It’s not that beer doesn’t go well with Paella, it’s really just that it is more well suited to wine, particularly a dry one. However, when looking for a beer to go with this dish, one should steer towards something light and subtle. So, once again, I would go with something in the Lager/Pilsner variety, or possibly a nice light wheat. In this regard, I would suggest either a Wellington Arkell Best Bitter, a Philips Analogue 78 Kolsch, Erdinger Weisbier, or Hoyne’s Summer Haze Honey Hefe.

Cannery Brewery Knucklehead Pumpkin Ale

Hello again and welcome back to the Fall Beer series! And in keeping with my ongoing efforts to give as many pumpkin ales their due, I have procured a bottle of Cannery Brewery’s Knucklehead Pumpkin Ale. As some might suspect, the name is a reference to the type of pumpkins used, but also makes for a delicious pun on the whole “pumpkin head” thing.

And I have to admit, I was somewhat surprised with this version of the fall beer classic. Whereas most breweries tend to make their beers along the same general lines, spicing them with cloves, cinnamon and/or nutmeg and allspice, Cannery seems to have taken the purist route. The label says Pumpkin Ale, and that appears to be what you get. Yes, the label also says they use spice in the mix, but that does not appear to be the case once you taste it. While they may have chosen to add some of the aforementioned spices to

Appearance: Dark ruby-brown, transparent, light foam
Nose: Very mild notes of pumpkin flesh and malts
Taste: Light, refreshing, slight notes of pumpkin, no discernible spice
Aftertaste: Lingering taste of pumpkin flesh, tangy malts
Overall: 7/10

Yes, this beer was a bit of a stumper for me. On the one hand, it was quite light and odd tasting for a pumpkin ale, a variety of beer which usually packs a good dose of rich, spicey flavor, reminiscent of pumpkin pie. However, at the same time, I can see both the honesty and the balls in them doing a beer in this way. While everyone else is doing a pumpkin pie ale that tastes predominantly of cloves and allspice, they are doing a straight pumpkin one that offers nothing but what the name suggests. Admittedly, not my favorite of the variety, but a good and honest beer nonetheless.