Friday, March 30, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: 11 Below's Oso Bueno American Amber Ale

by Eric Ducote

Happy Good Friday everyone! I'm coming to y'all on back to back days (be sure to check out yesterday's MLB opening day Wakey Whiskey post) with an all new Feature Beer Friday.  I've ventured out of state a few times already, but today will be my first feature from the state of Texas. My mother was over in Houston a few weeks back and was nice enough to bring a few 6-packs back for me (it's like she knows I like beer) so here's the first review from that haul.   

11 Below Brewing is a relative new-comer to the Houston, TX area, a city that not too long ago was virtually a craft beer wasteland outside of Saint Arnold and is now blossoming with breweries everywhere you look. Houston itself is home to around 20 breweries now, not counting the rest of the metro area, which is large to say the least. If you are ever in Houston (to check out an Astros game maybe?) 11 Below can be found in an industrial park just to the NNW of the beltway.  They are open every Thurday and Friday from 5 to 9, and Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 6.  Like all the other Texas breweries, they operate on a token system, where $10 buys you admission and you get three tokens to redeem for beer.  It wasn't too long ago that Louisiana breweries operated their tours/tastings in a similar fashion, and hopefully Texas can catch up to the taproom trend before long. 

Oso Bueno Amber from 11 Below Brewing
Now for the beer itself, Oso Bueno is an American Amber Ale, a stalwart of styles that has been popular for years among novice and expert craft beer drinkers.  The style is defined by the BJCP as: "An amber, hoppy, moderate-strength American craft beer with a caramel malty flavor. The balance can vary quite a bit, with some versions being fairly malty and others being aggressively hoppy. Hoppy and bitter versions should not have clashing flavors with the caramel malt profile." Oso Bueno (which translates into "good bear" and don't miss the pun...) clocks in at 5.3% abv and 22 IBU, which puts it on the lower end for the style and has me expecting that this will be a more malt-forward example.

This beer pours a reddish brown, deeper than what I would consider a true amber color but not all the way into brown ale territory. True to expectation, the aroma on this one is rich with toffee and caramel, with just a hint of hop bitterness adding a bit of a floral note. There are no surprises on the taste, the malt sweetness dominates and provides a nice change of pace from all the NEIPAs I've been drinking lately. This offering is a smooth easy drinking malty amber ale that definitely has a place in my fridge. Unfortunately nothing from 11 Below is available in Louisiana yet, but if you are ever in Houston (or other parts of SE Texas) and you see the Good Bear, don't hesitate to give it a try.

Cheers, and happy Good Friday to you all! 

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Wakey Whiskey: Cooperstown Distillery Classic American Whiskey

by Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone on this most joyous of days!  What are we celebrating today you ask? A day that should be a national holiday.  A day that should be celebrated around the country and even in Canada.  A day that should see all kids home from school and all parents off of work to join them. 

It's the most American of all days, it's Major League Baseball's opening day!

This is a special one for me as it's the first time I'll be able to share in the glory with my son.  He might only be 5 weeks old, but it's still his first opening day, so this morning I'm breaking out my Astros championship shit, my little man is going to wear... some onesie I guess... and we're going to watch some baseball.

Cooperstown Distillery Classic American Whiskey
With that in mind, I had the perfect selection, the Classic American Whiskey from Cooperstown Distillery in Cooperstown, New York.  For those unaware Cooperstown is home to the National Baseball Hall Of Fame And Museum, a pilgrimage for any baseball fan that I have yet to make but hope to one day.  The good people at the Cooperstown Distillery were nice enough to send samples of their Classic American Whiskey and their Double Play Vodka to the Bite and Booze team, and although I'm not much for vodka, it's wakey whiskey time!

The first thing to notice is the packaging, as this sample is packaged in a miniature baseball-shaped bottle just like the actual full-size packaging only smaller. It's a very attractive design for a baseball fan even as a collector's item in addition to a whiskey storage vessel. According to their site, this whiskey is mashed and distilled in the traditional bourbon style with a predominantly corn grain bill in addition to some rye and barley.  It's then aged for 10 months in used American oak bourbon barrels, which means they can't call it a bourbon (has to be new charred American oak barrels) but that also could accelerate the aging process since there should be some characteristic bourbon flavors trapped in the wood of each barrel.

The sample I had appeared a little lighter in color than the website photo to the right, but I attribute that to the smaller volume. The aroma starts off with some corn sweetness and a fairly aggressive hit of alcohol. It's not bad, but it smells like a very young whiskey, not surprising for only being aged 10 months. The taste however is unexpectedly smooth with classic hints of vanilla and oak, and a smoothness completely surprising given the short aging and the rough notes of the aroma.

It would appear that their unorthodox (for a whiskey at least) method of aging in used bourbon barrels paid dividends on the flavor profile of this whiskey, and I think this might be an avenue for other distilleries to consider, so long as they don't mind not being able to label a product as bourbon.

I hope you all enjoy a glass of whiskey as well today, and Go 'Stros!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Jay D's Bites: Brie en Croute with Barbecue Fig Jam

Who doesn’t love cheese wrapped in dough?! My favorite part about preparing this dish was cutting open the crust and watching brie ooze out. We transformed this mild wheel of cheese into hot, gooey comfort food. The sweet-tart fig sauce gives contract to this appetizer and will make this a must-have when hosting friends and family. Serve with your favorite crackers!

Brie en Croute with Barbecue Fig Jam

Serves 8-10

Photo: Jordan Hefler Photography

1 Wheel of Brie cheese
1 Package of Fillo dough, at least 10 sheets
1 egg, beaten
Barebecue Fig Jam
8 whole fig preserves
½ cup Jay D’s Louisiana Barbecue Sauce

Preheat oven to 350℉. Combine fig preserves with Jay D’s Louisiana Barbecue Sauce in a small pot and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and blend until smooth. Stack 10 Sheets of Fillo dough and place the wheel of Brie Wrap at the center. Fold up corners to completely encase the Brie. Brush egg wash over dough and bake until golden brown. Once out of the oven, cover the top with Barbecue Fig Jam.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: Old Rail's Don't Forget The Flowers DIPA

by Eric Ducote

Hello everyone, it's been a week since my last Feature Beer Friday post... which of course means it's time for another one! Funny how that works, right? Today's Feature Beer Friday (Hashtag FeatureBeerFriday) is coming to us from the Old Rail Brewing Company out of Mandeville.  If you're wondering why you haven't seen any beers from Old Rail on tap or in stores around town, it's because they are a brewpub and sell 100% of their product out of their restaurant and taproom in the heart of historic Mandeville.

Old Rail's tap list features a handful of regular offerings like their Seven Sisters IPA and Cow Catcher Chocolate Milk Stout, but they are also putting out some really phenomenal seasonal and specialty beers.  I was over that way a few weeks ago and stopped in to see what was new, and the Don't Forget The Flowers DIPA caught my attention, so it was an obvious add to my flight.

Old Rail's Don't Forget The Flowers DIPA
Old Rail's Don't Forget The Flowers DIPA

Don't Forget The Flowers clocks in at 7% abv which leaves it on the low end for a DIPA, but that's fine with me, I don't drink to get drunk, I drink because beer is delicious.  The team at Old Rail describes the beer as, "Clean, Smooth, Soft, Citrusy and Tropical, Juicy Hop Character, Sweet Malt" and the name is derived from the train that used to run right next to the brewpub.  They say, "You stand on the platform waiting for your beloved to arrive, flowers in hand. The complex aroma wafts from the large colorful bouquet as you hear the whistle in the distance and you begin to smile. You didn’t forget the flowers. The trains no longer run here and no one comes waiting with flowers but that doesn’t mean we can’t find inspiration to invigorate our senses and bring a smile to our faces."

I without a doubt get a strong floral aroma, coming from some hops that aren't used as much in the current hazy New England-style IPA trend that's dominating the industry currently.  The floral aroma gives way to the light-bodied smooth and slightly sweet taste that's dominated by a complex hop flavor of flowers and citrus with hints of the tropical fruit they mention.  The finish is easy and it lets the hops linger without being overly bitter, making me want another sip right away.  They have an easy drinking winner here with this DIPA, and it's still on tap, so if you are looking for something to do this weekend, head on over to Old Rail and give it a try.  Just remember to be responsible on the road!

Cheers everyone!  

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Jay D's Bites: Chocolate Chile Truffles

by Liz Courville

These truffles are the perfect chocolatey treat. Not only are they decadent, but they’re not terrible for you either! They’re packed full of healthy fats and proteins from the cashews and pecans, loads of beneficial fiber and carbohydrates from the dates plus antioxidants from all of that cacao! Don’t forget the Jay D’s Coffee Chile Rub… it’s the secret ingredient that changes the dessert game completely.

These truffles can be eaten for dessert, a snack or even as a part of a well-balanced breakfast! They are loaded with energy and won’t leave you feeling sluggish like most other desserts. Do yourself a favor and make these ASAP!

Chocolate Chile Truffles

14 truffles
(Raw, Vegan, Gluten-free)

1 cup raw cashews
1 cup raw walnuts
1 Tbsp cacao powder
¼ tsp sea salt
½-1 tsp Jay D's Coffee Chile Rub
12 Medjool dates, pitted (soak in warm water 10 minutes if dried out)
1 ¼ cups dairy free dark chocolate (chopped roughly)
1 tsp coconut oil
Topping: ¼ cup cacao nibs, walnuts and/or sea salt for topping

Place cashews and walnuts into food processor and pulse until a meal consistency, set aside in a different dish.

Next, place dates into processor and pulse until small clumps/small balls start to form.

Add in cacao powder, Jay D’s Coffee Chile Rub, and half of the nut meal. Pulse and continue to add in small amounts of nut meal until a loose/soft dough starts to form. (You may not need to use all of the nuts, can use left overs for toppings.)

Once dough is easy to form, scoop out 1 Tbsp and roll into balls. If they are not holding together well, hold and press the dough into palm and heat for a few seconds. Approximately 14 balls should form, place these on parchment paper and place in freezer to chill.

While these are chilling, melt chocolate in double boiler or microwave in 30 second increments. Once melted, stir in coconut oil to help the dipping process.

Take the chilled dough out of the freezer and dip each ball and place back onto parchment paper. Once all are dipped, top with excess nuts, cacao nibs or sea salt.

Let sit out at room temperature before diving in! Store at room temperature in airtight container. (For long term storage, use freezer.)

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Beers with Chuck: Magic Marshmallow Breakfast Milk Stout from Tin Roof Brewing

by Chuck P

St. Patrick’s Day in Baton Rouge is a very big deal. People line up sometimes overnight to secure their spot for the annual parade and prepare for a long day of drinking. There’s lots and lots of Jameson and Guinness being consumed and unfortunately, a lot of very unnecessary green beer. Luckily for us Tin Roof Brewery made sure to give us a better option this year with their third consecutive specialty release the Magic Marshmallow Breakfast Milk Stout.

To keep with the theme of the day, the guys at Tin Roof decided to go all out and include Lucky Charms cereal into the brew recipe. How much Lucky Charms you might ask? We’re talking 72 boxes of magical deliciousness! They also used a marshmallow flavored coffee and lactose to give it some creaminess.

On my first pour I noticed the hint of the cereal coming through with a bit of the coffee on the aroma. Greeted with coffee first, some vanilla creeps in, but after it began to warm up I thought the vanilla faded giving way to more of the coffee. The lactose was minimal in my opinion, but still noticeable. The cereal itself arrived at the finish but was subtle which I liked with a bit of bitterness rounding it out.

Tin Roof has been crushing the small batch game recently with the release of the Santeria Double IPA (aka the beer formerly known as JUJU), Haze Hunt Triple IPA and now with the release of Magic Marshmallow they continue to bring down the house. Unlike the aforementioned Santeria and Haze Hunt which were both brewery exclusives you can find this breakfast milk stout on tap at your favorite craft beer watering holes.

Congrats to Tin Roof on another delicious brew. I can’t wait to see what type of specialty beer they do for Easter!*

*Tin Roof has nothing scheduled for release that’s Easter themed. Or do they???

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Wakey Whiskey: Bushmills Distillery Reserve 12-Year Single Malt

by Eric Ducote

Alright lads and lasses, it's St. Patrick's Day, which means it's time to throw on some green clothes, don some green beads, get some Irish beer and whiskey ready and head on down to your local parade.  Baton Rouge annually hosts one of the larger St. Patrick's Day parades in the country and this year it just happens that March 17th falls on a Saturday for some extra Irish charm.

I've rode in the parade many times, gone to watch many times, partaken in the overpass block party and without a doubt made an ass of myself more than once.  This year though, no revelry for me, as my newborn son is finally home from the NICU.  I hope everyone headed out to the parade has fun, but I'm still going to find time for a little wakey whiskey.

Bushmills claims to the the world's oldest whiskey distillery although that's based on a license granted in 1608 to distill whiskey in the county, and not based on registering the Bushmills brand itself, which happened in 1784 and would make it the 5th oldest whiskey brand in the world. Regardless, that's old-- That's even older than Chuck P, although not by much.

A little more Bushmills trivia:
The distillery isn't actually in the Republic of Ireland, but is instead in Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom. It's on the island of Ireland though, so it's Irish whiskey to me.

This particular brand is the 12-year Single Malt, which is comprised of barrels that are between 12 and 14 years old, and it's aged primarily sherry casks. The special thing about the 12-year is that it's only available at the distillery in County Antrim, and nowhere else.  This particular bottle is one that I've been saving in the cellar for quite a while, since a 2006 trip to Ireland in fact, so it's past time I took another pour or two.

I compared it to a regular bottle of Bushmills, and the 12-year is without a doubt a darker, deeper color with a rich honey tone to it.  The aroma is very floral, with notes of honeysuckle and vanilla, complex and strong.  The taste is amazing, in my opinion, with a hint of citrus to go with strong oak and vanilla and a little dark fruit as well.  I think the sherry casks used in the aging really add another layer to this on top of the standard oak notes and it blends together exceptionally well.  The finish is smooth with just a hint of booziness (it's bottled at a modest 40% abv) that doesn't linger nearly as long as the sherry notes.

I know this isn't one that you guys and gals can just go pick up off the shelf, but if you ever find yourself in Northern Ireland and swing by the Bushmills distillery, this is worth a pick up.  Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone, and sláinte!  

Friday, March 16, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: Southern Prohibition's Crowd Control Imperial IPA

by Eric Ducote

Good morning everybody, I hope you are having a fantastic Friday so far, or whichever day you might be reading this, I hope it's awesome.  Today's Feature Beer Friday (Hashtag FeatureBeerFriday) comes from Southern Prohibition Brewing out of Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

Southern Prohibition (or SoPro) established in 2013 actually makes it one of Mississippi's oldest craft breweries. It wasn't too long ago that Mississippi was a black hole for craft breweries thanks to restrictive laws, but starting with Lazy Magnolia in 2005 the state has started to join the craft beer movement.  The group Raise Your Pints has done a lot to help in the legislature as well as the breweries themselves continuing to fight for their business. In the end, Mississippi is starting to catch up to the rest of the country, or at least the rest of the South, and that's without a doubt a great thing for craft beer drinkers in the region.

Enough history though, how about the present, and this Crowd Control Imperial IPA?  The pour is hazy, but not quite the juicy look of some "New England" styled hoppy brews. The color is a deep, opaque gold with a frothy white head and the hop aroma reached my nose before I was even done pouring.  The first thing I noted from the aroma is that this has a much more dank, piney, resiny scent than all of the juice bombs I've been drinking recently. The beer is hopped to feature Mosaic hops, which have a real tendency to give off a green onion flavor, but I'm not getting that as much as the resinous, traditionally bitter hop bite.

The taste is more complex, with the resin notes coming through strong and coating the tongue and a minimal sweetness in support.  The finish is bitter, but in an awesome way and completely different from the velvet smoothness of a real "soft" juicy IPA.  Even a minute after a sip there is some lingering hop bitterness, which makes me want to go back for another sip (or another can) to satisfy that craving for MORE HOPS! It's only 8% abv, so the lower side for an Imperial IPA, and not so strong that I can't go back for another, right?

SoPro has a real winner on their hands here and it has been a favorite pick of mine ever since cracking the Baton Rouge market.  If you see some out there, don't hesitate to give it a try.  Cheers!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Jay D's Bites: Irish Stew

The newest product to hit Jay’s online store, the Coffee Chile Rub, has everything you crave - from the deep flavors of locally roasted coffee to the kick of spicy peppers, this rub is a go-to for anything from braised stews to seared steaks. This Irish Beef Stew is a perfect weeknight favorite for the whole family, especially around St. Patrick's Day!

Irish Stew

Serves 4-6
3 lbs beef stew meat
2 cups onions, small diced
2 cups celery, small diced
1 cup carrots, small diced
12 oz stout beer
2 Tbsp flour
1 quart beef stock
1 Tbsp garlic, minced
3 oz tomato paste
2 Tbsp Jay D’s Coffee Chile Rub
4 cups small fingerling or small red potatoes, quartered
3 cups carrots and parsnips, ½” circles
Parsley, finely chopped

Toss beef with salt and black pepper. Sear beef until golden brown. Add onions, celery and carrots; saute for 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of flour and slightly toast the flour by continually stirring. Add beer, stock, Jay D’s Coffee Chile Rub, garlic and tomato paste. Simmer for 1-2 hours. Add root vegetables (carrot and parsnip slices) and simmer for 30 minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: Southern Craft's Three Generation Tripel

By Eric Ducote

Hey everyone!  I hope you have all had a fantastic week... this morning I'm featuring a beer from Southern Craft Brewing, out of Baton Rouge.  Unlike the last two from Tin Roof, this beer should (if you're reading this promptly) still be available on tap at the Southern Craft taproom out on Airline Hwy. near Barringer Foreman.  Southern Craft became Baton Rouge's second active craft brewery back in 2015 and has been brewing several flagship beers plus a few seasonals ever since.

Last night, they debuted a new specialty brew, the Three Generation Tripel which was a collaboration between the Southern Craft brewmasters and local homebrewers Blake and his father Craig Winchell.  Both of them are members of the Brasseurs A La Maison club locally and they named the beer in honor of the two homebrewers plus Blake's son Brennan.  The beer is brewed primarily with pilsner malt spiked with some Belgian candy sugar, with some noble hallertauer hops to balance out the sweetness.  The Belgian yeast gives some traditional esters and leaves the beer with 8% abv.

My first thought was that the color was spot on for the Tripel style, which trends lighter in color than the dubbel and quad Belgian styles.  Traditionally Tripels are of medium strength with lighter color and body and more floral hoppiness than the other Belgian styles.  The appearance is spot on, and so is the aroma, with some sweet notes combined with earthy and flowery hop notes.

The taste is a solid follow through on the aroma, with the sweet candy sugar notes taking a little more of a starring role along with the sweet bubble gum esters from the Belgian yeast.  All of the flavors balance together well and leave a slight lingering sugary sweetness with hints of flowers.  In my opinion, this is one of the best Southern Craft beers to date, so if you are free Friday afternoon, go check out the taproom from 5-9 and you should be able to find some of this still on tap. While you're there, be sure to check out their other current seasonal beers, the Citeaux Oatmeal Coffee Stout, and the Hyla IPA.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Jay D's Bites: Molasses Mustard Hollandaise

Adding Jay D’s Louisiana Molasses Mustard to a classic butter sauce was an absolutely delicious idea! This sauce is tasty on anything and everything: vegetables, meats, seafood or your favorite dish. The fat from the butter is balanced well with the acidity from the Molasses Mustard. This hollandaise came out a rural, rusty-orange color and is an excellent contrast over bright green asparagus and a poached egg.

Molasses Mustard Hollandaise

Serves 8-10

3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten.
1½ sticks unsalted butter, melted until foamy, foam skimmed
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice.
2 Tbsp Jay D’s Louisiana Molasses Mustard
1 tsp Slap Ya Mama hot sauce
Kosher salt

In a saucepan, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. In a stainless steel bowl, whisk egg yolks over hot the water bath. Using a small ladle, slowly pour a thin stream of butter into egg yolks while whisking continuously. Keep butter warm (not hot) during process. Add lemon juice after the third ladle of butter is whisked into egg yolks. After all butter is added, add Molasses Mustard, hot sauce and kosher salt to taste. Whisk until uniform color.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: Tin Roof's Haze Hunt Triple IPA

by Eric Ducote

I know, I know, two straight Feature Beer Friday posts featuring local brewery Tin Roof Brewing, but this also makes two straight weeks that Tin Roof has released a beer worthy of receiving some attention.  Last week's post featured the new Juju Imperial IPA and one week later they upped the ante with a similar (albeit noticeably different, which I'll elaborate on later) Triple IPA themed after the old Duck Hunt game from the original Nintendo system.

Before I even get into the beer, I have to congratulate Tin Roof on putting together a great release day.  I had a pretty busy weekend and wasn't able to get to the brewery early for any pre-gaming, only barely managing to show up as doors opened at noon, only to see a line going down the front steps, across the front of the building, and turning toward the street.  I'm guessing somewhere between 75-100 people were already waiting to get in and buy their 4-packs, teku glasses, and shirts.  I wasn't too worried about the merchandise line, as I have amassed an overflowing glassware collection as it is, so I went through the side door and got a pour of the new beer.

Juju ended up 10.5% abv while the Haze Hunt finished at 11.2%, so even though one was labeled an Imperial IPA and the latter a Triple IPA, the alcohol content was really close together.  There's really no standard definition for a Triple IPA, so some breweries just label anything stronger than their Double (or Imperial) IPA as a Triple.  Other breweries try go get over 12% before they put that Triple label, and some only aim for over 10%.  As of now, it's not an officially recognized style, but my understanding is that the powers that be are considering adding a Triple IPA in the next edition of the style guidelines... but that's enough beer nerd talk, right?

My first thought was that the Haze Hunt has a little more orange on the color, but still fairly light and definitely still hazy like the Juju. The aroma is strong with tropical fruit flavors like passionfruit and pineapple, with nary a trace of the booziness underneath.  The taste is bitter but bursting with mango and pineapple with a hint of dankness and a smooth finish.  The Haze Hunt doesn't quite have the velvety smooth finish of the Juju, but it's still extremely pleasant and kept me coming back for more.

This is two extremely exiting and well done beers in a row for Tin Roof, and it's awesome to see our local brewery get this sort of hype.  I am confident the winning ways are doing to continue over there by downtown for the foreseeable future!