Central City Patrick O’ Pumpkin Barrel Aged Imperial Pumpkin Ale

CentralCity_pumpkinBrewer: Central City Brewing,
Style: Imperial Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 8.0%
IBUs: 27

Description: A seasonal release, and part of their series of character-based releases, this Imperial Pumpkin Ale is brewed using using a hefty dose of pale malt, then infused with spices, pumpkin flesh, and aged in bourbon barrels.

Tasting Notes: You might say this beer is Central City’s regular pumpkin ale on steroids (or some other performance-enhancing drug!) The malts are heavy, the pumpkin flavor intense, and the alcoholic bite noticeable, Unfortunately, this kind of subdues the spice palate and the bourbon flavor. Still, a lovely and powerful Autumn brew.

Appearance: Dark brown, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong malt, pumpkin flesh, notes of allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg
Taste: Rich malt base, pumpkin pie, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, mild whiskey, alcohol
Aftertaste: Lingering whiskey, alcohol and spice bitterness
Overall: 7.8/10

First Fall Beer Review!

phillips_labelsphillips_crookedertoothFall is just around the corner, and it seems the Fall beer is already hitting the shelves. And what better way to start my review of this Autumn’s beer than Phillips latest seasonal/limited release Crookeder Tooth Pumpkin Ale. Building on their success with Crooked Tooth, and in what appears to still be a trend in craft brewing with these folks, Phillips latest incarnation of this pumpkin ale is a barrel aged, stronger variant with some added kick! This comes not only in form of added alcohol (7.3% alc/vol), but in an infusion of bourbon made possible by the barrel-aging process.

And much like their Twisted Oak Red Ale, I highly approve of the end result. Rather than adding a whiskey tang and bite to the mix that did not do it justice, the bourbon flavor adds a very nice, velvety texture and vanilla-like flavor. This is highly complimentary to the beer’s heavier malt, spice palate and pumpkin flavor. All in all, its very much like having a piece of well-spice pumpkin pie. Score one more for barrel-aging done right!

Golden orange, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Discernible pumpkin flesh, light traces of cinnamon and nutmeg
Taste: Sweet malt, immediate notes of allspice, vanilla, mild bite of bourbon whiskey
Aftertaste: Lingering bourbon flavor and spices, slight alcoholic bitterness
Overall: 9/10

I can recall enjoying this beer’s predecessor when I tried it. And I can honestly say that I enjoyed this one more. In addition to being pleasing without being overpowering, as the last one was, they also managed some dimensions of flavor and strength. It’s a rare thing when an upgraded model can retain the benefits of the old one while adding new ones. Kudos to Phillips, and welcome to the Fall of Beer!

Comfort Chili

As part of the fall season, I thought I might share some culinary ideas, specifically with regards to comfort food. For those of us who live in the more temperate regions of the planet, where Autumn is known to bring cold winds, darker days, and plenty of moisture that chills your bones, this is an essential area of knowledge!

And to start this list off right, I have decided to share the Williams’ family recipe for chili. I can’t tell you how many winters this food has gotten me through. Not only is it a warm, delicious meal that will stick to your bones and beat out the cold weather, it is also downright delicious, even when reheated. Yep, in addition to being awesome, it also keeps well and will continue to please for many servings.

Williams’ Signature Chili:
Now this is comfort food! For years my mother has been making what I still consider to be the best damn chili in the world. And though others cannot endorse this ruling, mainly out of loyalty to their own mothers and kin, they still admit that it’s damn good chili! And variations on the recipe are possible, but I generally make it a point not to stray. My wife insists that I add corn, carrots and potatoes to the mix, to which I reply in the resoundingly negative. Why? Because this isn’t stew! Veggies beyond beans, onions and garlic have no place in chili. You may disagree…

Anyhoo, here is the breakdown for a single pot. Adjust amounts based on how many you intend to serve, as this can be expected to provide multiple servings for at least two hungry people. For those with smaller appetites, I expect at least four people could eat from this and go back for some seconds. Enjoy!

1 can of beans (red kidney)
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 can tomato paste (sub soup if you’re so inclined)
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minded
1 lb lean ground beef
sprinkle chili powder to taste

Combine garlic, onions, beef and chili powder in a large soup pot with a small amount of vegetable oil Cook until meat is browned and garlic and onions are softened. Add beans and tomatoes (including the liquid from the can), then add tomato paste/soup. Stir frequently and add chili powder to taste, and consider adding Sriracha sauce, chili flakes or Tabasco to add heat. Serve with buttered, crusty bread to sop up the liquid, and be prepared for a major case of ITIS!

Beer Pairing:
And of course, how could I, the GCBS, consider this recipe complete if I did not mention some fitting beers to accompany it? Well, beer and chili aren’t exactly a match made in heaven, I’ll admit. But when it comes to the various flavor and textures of this food, I would have to recommend a beer that goes down clean, or provides a smooth tawny stimulation. What’s more, hot food usually demands a beer that is either best served cold and which is crisp and refreshing, and/or something that has gentle malts and doesn’t contain too much in the way of hops. Otherwise, your tongue will be a battleground of competing flavors and stimuli, which won’t work out too well in the end.

Hence, I would have to recommend either a good clean lager or a nice smooth stout. A brown ale can do in a pinch as well, provided its not heavily hopped and nice and tawny. My personal favorites would be Naramata Nut Brown Ale, St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout, or VIB Iron Plow Marzen. In short, a fall beer for a fall dish! Again, these are merely suggestions, and the culinary world is built on experimentation. If you’ve got variations on this recipe and the pairing, please feel free to share them with me. And please let me know if the following recipe and pairing suggestions works out for you!

Until next time, keep warm, stay dry, and never go to bed hungry or thirsty! Winter is just around the corner…

Iron Plow Harvest Marzen

Hello and welcome back to the Fall Beer series! After a brief diversion to sample a new brewery, well new to me (Parallel 49), I’m back on the seasonal beer horse! And the beer in question is Vancouver Island Brewery’s Iron Plow Harvest Marzen, a pale lager that commemorates the end of the summer harvest and the beginning of the fall season.

And much like many of their other limited release or seasonal beers, I was quite happy with this one. Not only was it a pleasant drinking experience, it confirms that Vancouver Island is once again excelling at craft brewing, making small batch, high-quality beer that has good flavor and is faithful to the best in brewing traditions.

Appearance: Light orange hue, clear and low foam
Nose: Mild hop aroma, slightly sweet, mild notes of honey
Taste: Light creamy malts, tangy and slight minerality, mild bitterness
Aftertaste: Clean and refreshing finish, mild bitterness
Overall: 8.5/10

I’ve now sampled this beer a total of five times and still find myself still going back for more. But that’s the thing with a good, refreshing Marzen lager. They get the job done and go very well with food, especially the kind of spicy or warm, comfort food that goes so well with dreary fall weather and cold, early evenings!

FYI, this is my 100th post as the GCBS! Cheers!