Friday, November 30, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: Melvin's 2X4 Double IPA

By Eric Ducote

Hello everyone, and welcome to another Feature Beer Friday!  This might be my last one for a few weeks due to upcoming knee surgery, but it certainly won't be my last post ever.  This week's feature is the 2X4 DIPA from Melvin Brewing out of Alpine, Wyoming.  I found a selection of their beers last weekend in Florida at a Total Wine store.  Apparently Total Wine in Florida contracted with Melvin a large enough order to make a one-time distribution to the state.  A pretty good idea if you ask me, if the demand is there for a certain brewery and that brewery can meet the supply, why not make a special order?  

Melvin Brewing started off as a nanobrewery in the back of a Thai restaurant and has grown into a powerhouse in the NW part of our country.  The 2X4 DIPA, which won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2012 to really put Melvin Brewing on the map nationally.  It's a 10% ABV, 100+ IBU beer loaded with American hops such as Columbus, Centennial, Citra, and Simcoe.

Melvin Brewing's 2X4 DIPA

The first thing I notice is the slight haze to the pour.  This is certainly not brewed in the NEIPA style, but it's not filtered clear either.  It's a little on the copper/orange side for color, with as you can see a prominent frothy head.  The aroma is pure hop joy, with pine notes coming through strong as well as citrus.  It's an excellent blend of hops, with multiple layers of flavor shining through, and that extends to the taste as well.  The malts are there, but they lay low and allow the hops to shine through, with even more pine and citrus flavors bursting through every sip.  This is a phenomenal DIPA, and I feel like it really serves as a bridge between the old school malty IBU heavy double IPAs and the trendy hazy NEIPAs.  This beer really allows the hops to shine through without making them the only performer in the show.

I know this one won't be easy to find around Baton Rouge, but if you do see some or get the chance to try it, don't pass it up.  Cheers! 

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Wakey Whiskey: Old Forester Kentucky Straight Bourbon

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone and a happy last (regular season) LSU football gameday to you all!  Not too long ago I saw a post on social media about the old fashioned cocktails at Mouton at White Star Market being fantastic and being made with Old Forester, so when I saw some Old Forester on the shelf when out running errands last weekend I decided it was a good time to grab some and give it a try. 

Old Forester has been around since 1870 and makes the claim to be the first ever bottled bourbon.  It's distilled in Louisville, Kentucky and is owned by Brown-Forman, one of the largest American companies in the alcoholic beverage industry.  Among their brands are Jack Daniels, Woodford Reserve, Coopers' Craft, Korbel, and many more throughout the industry.  The company started in Louisville with the Old Forester label and obviously has grown significantly since then. 

Old Forester Classic 86 Proof Bourbon

This particular whiskey is the Old Forester Classic 86 Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.  It's the base expression of Old Forester bourbon, and as usual I gave it a first try neat.  The aroma is pretty strong, a burn stronger than expected for 86 proof with notes of oak, vanilla, and a floral character.  The taste is sharp as well, with a noticeable alcohol burn and a good bit of sweet corn flavor to go with the oak.  Honestly, I'm not a fan of this one as a neat sipper.  

After a glass of Old Forester neat, I checked on what I had on hand to make a cocktail and gave it a bastardized attempt at an old fashioned, with some cherries and simple syrup.  As a cocktail bourbon, this definitely comes closer to hitting the mark, the strong flavors come through but blend well with the rest of the cocktail to give a distinct bourbon flavor without being lost in the mix.

With that, the regular season editions of #wakeywhiskey is over, so let's all hope for an LSU win tonight, and look forward to some holiday and bowl game wakey whiskeys in the near future!  

Friday, November 23, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: Gnarly Barley's Lion Up Wheat Ale

By Eric Ducote

Happy Black Friday to you all!  I sure hope everyone reading this is enjoying some quality time with friends and family and not fighting the crowds for the deals.  Or if you are out there shopping, maybe hit up some local small businesses.  Regardless, you're not going to find me joining in on the shopping madness!  For this week's offering I dug into the beer fridge to find something that was worthy of FBF praise, and found a can of Lion Up from Gnarly Barley Brewing.  

Gnarly Barley is no stranger to this space, and for good reason.  They put out some of the best beers in the state and the taproom is always a great spot to visit.  Co-owners Zac and Cari Caramonta are usually there hanging out and similarly to how LSU and Tin Roof put out the licensed Bayou Bengal, Gnarly Barley partnered with Southeastern Louisiana University to put out the licensed Lion Up.  It makes perfect sense with Gnarly Barley being located in Hammond and both Caramontas being alumni.  Lion Up is brewed with football season in mind, and although it's been cooler and dreary lately, most of football season in south Louisiana is on the warmer side, so this American Wheat Ale is brewed with late Summer and Fall in mind. 

Gnarly Barley's Lion Up Wheat Ale

The beer pours a deep yellow color, some haze from the heavy wheat bill, and a bubbly champagne-esque white head.  The aroma is very floral with some sweet notes from the malt underlying the Cascade and Amarillo hops.  The taste is clean and refreshing, with the hops holding up well to the wheat and barley base, giving the beer an excellent blend of sweet and bitter and packing plenty of flavor into the 4.5% abv.  The result is exactly what they describe it as, "an easy drinking beer, great for football season!" I could definitely see plenty of these making it into my cooler next year, unless the Tigers are playing the Lions again.

Cheers everyone, and I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!  

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Wakey Whiskey: Blade And Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone, it's already the last home game of LSU's season, which has seemed to fly by.  I know this space is primarily for whiskey talk, but I've been really surprised by the success this season.  Obviously losing to Florida and Alabama hurts, but assuming nothing insane happens this weekend LSU football will be a 9 win team with a shot at 10-2 and a new year's day bowl game.  That's far better than I expected going into this season. 

Enough football talk though, how about the whiskey?  Today's selection is the Blade And Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey produced by the legendary Stitzel-Weller distillery.  It's created using a unique "solera" aging process where older whiskey is bottled without draining each barrel, and then the barrels are topped off with the next oldest, which are then topped off with the next oldest, etc., until freshly distilled whiskey is put into oak barrels at the top of the pyramid.  Blade And Bow is released as both a "straight" bourbon and as a 22-year old vintage.  The Bite and Booze crew was sent a sample of the straight bourbon, so... time to give it a try.  

Blade And Bow Straight Kentucky Bourbon

The whiskey pours an amber to brown color, "straight" means it has been aged for at least two years but the solera process means that a lot of the whiskey in the sample could be years older, apparently the oldest barrels in the solera go back to 1992!  The aroma is ripe with oak and vanilla, a hint of plum sweetness, and a bit of spice that makes me think about rye although I'm pretty confident this is a more heavily wheated bourbon.  The burn is minimal, and the aroma is overall very pleasant and inviting.  The taste is an excellent follow through on the pleasant aroma, with notes of fruit, oak, vanilla, honey, and some cinnamon spice as well.  The finish is smooth, and makes this Blade And Bow an excellent neat sip.  

I'd never heard of this brand before, but after giving it a try and learning more about their story, I'd be confident picking up a bottle if I see one out in stores.  And if I ever saw the 22-year, it would be headed straight into my cart.  Cheers!  

Friday, November 16, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: Tin Roof Veterans Voodoo Pale Ale

By Eric Ducote

Hello everyone, welcome to another edition of Feature Beer Friday here at Bite And Booze.  This past Sunday was Veterans Day with the observed holiday falling on this past Monday, so a quick thank you to everyone out there who has served or is serving our country!  In honor of Veterans Day, Tin Roof Brewing (a FBF regular) released a special Veterans Voodoo.  The Veterans Voodoo is the same water/malt/yeast as the regular gold-medal winning Voodoo, but it's hopped with a special Veterans blend of hops from Yakima Chief hops.  

Yakima Chief is donating $3 per pound of the hop blend sold in 2018 to the Semper Fi fund, so Tin Roof buying enough for a full batch of Veterans Voodoo certainly put a good chunk of money into the fund.  The hop blend was selected by veteran-owned breweries and in 2018 features Cashmere, Centennial, Ekuanot, Mosaic, and Simcoe.  Centennial, Mosaic, and Simcoe are all very popular hops in the brewing world, but I'm not as familiar with the Cashmere and Ekuanot.  Cashmere is noted for flavors of melon, lemon, and lime, with a moderate bitterness, and Ekuanot is expected to give off flavors of melon, lemon, apple, papaya, and even green pepper.  

Tin Roof's Veterans Voodoo

I swung by to try this one, and of course brought a crowler home for further research.  The color is the same hazy golden color as regular voodoo, with a frothy white head.  The aroma on this special version is fantastic, with tropical fruit, pine, and citrus all working together extremely well to create an inviting bouquet of hops.  The flavor is delicious as well, with the hops really working well together and the standard malt profile that lets the hops dominate.  The smooth mouthfeel and finish is unchanged, only the hop profile, and I think this hop blend creates a pale ale that's on par with the original.  

A full batch was brewed, and is available on tap and in crowlers in the Tin Roof taproom for a limited time.  There will certainly be plenty left when this drops on Friday morning, but it won't be there forever, so go give it a try.  Cheers! 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Wakey Whiskey: Angel's Envy Port Finish

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone, it's time for another wakey whiskey, as despite the disappointing loss last week, LSU football is back at it again today, with a lot still on the line.  They still have a good shot at finishing 10-2, playing in a New Year's bowl game, and there's still an outside (very outside) shot at sneaking back into the playoffs.  Now I'm not holding my breath for that playoff shot, but even still it's safe to say the 2018 LSU football season has so far exceeded my expectations.  

For this week's #wakeywhiskey selection I figured I'd check out some of the Bite and Booze samples I've been sitting on.  I had heard of Angel's Envy before, but I don't ever recall trying some, so this is as good of a time as ever, right?  Angel's Envy spirits are made by Louisville Distilling Company, which recently opened a new distillery in downtown Louisville, Kentucky.  This sample, however, was produced in nearby Bardstown, KY. It's aged on average 6 years in fresh charred oak barrels in the bourbon tradition, then finished for 3 to 6 months in French oak port barrels from Portugal.  This additional finishing violates the rules that would allow this to be called a bourbon, but for all intents and purposes it's practically a bourbon.  

Angel's Envy Port Finish

The pour is a copper color, I wasn't really sure if I should expect a little red from the port barrels, but this could be the result of a golden bourbon with a tinge of red port.  The aroma is mostly vanilla and oak, like a bourbon should be, but also some hints of grapes or raisins from the port aging.  The taste is smooth, with slight fruity notes interacting with the char and vanilla from the oak aging, a hint of honey, and incredibly easy to sip neat at room temperature.  The finish is smooth as well, with a hint of sweetness from the port at the end.

I enjoyed this take on bourbon, but I don't know that I'd be running out to buy some more at a ballpark of $50 for a 750ml bottle.  

Friday, November 9, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: Port Orleans' GL37SON IPA

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone, and welcome to another Feature Beer Friday!  This week I'm checking out the GL37SON IPA (as in Steve Gleason, former New Orleans Saint) from Port Orleans Brewing, which is co-owned by former New Orleans Saint Zach Strief.  I've mentioned Port Orleans Brewing before in my post about the New Orleans Beer Tour, but this is the first time I've picked some up in retail packaging. 

The GL37SON IPA is brewed in honor of former Saint Steve Gleason, who has become a famous advocate for people living with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease.  It's a standard strength IPA, at 5.8% volume and dry-hopped with around 5 pounds per barrel of Mosaic, Azacca, and Lemondrop hops.  The IPA is served hazy in the New England style, and a portion of the sales of each beer go to Team Gleason for care for people suffering from ALS.

Port Orleans' GL37SON IPA

The beer pours a hazy yellow-gold color with a frothy white head, exactly as expected for the style.  The nose is boldly citrus with faint hints of a little resin in there underneath the strong orange and lemon citrus aroma.  The taste is more of the same, with an underlying malt sweetness that gets easily overpowered by the dry hopping.  The finish is clean, with lingering citrus leaving me wanting more.  

Regardless of the good cause, this is another easy drinking hoppy option for Louisiana drinkers looking for citrus hop flavors.  I wouldn't hesitate to buy some more.  Cheers!    

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Wakey Whisky: Nomad Outland Whisky

By Eric Ducote

Good morning to all you Tiger fans on this beautiful gameday as the Tigers take on the hated team from Alabama.  Last season I tried to get a little superstitious for the Alabama game and try for a whisky that I went into with low expectations, and yeah, LSU lost.  This year I don't have low expectations for this game.  I don't necessarily have high expectations either though, I have no idea how this is going to play out!  (I know that's always true to some degree, but sometimes you just get a feeling...)  So I picked out a whisky (without the 'e' in this case) that I had never tried before and, just like tonight's game, went into it without any expectations.  

Nomad Outland Whisky

For this task, I found a bottle of Nomad Outland Whisky.  It's not technically a scotch, but it's born in Scotland, so they spell whiskey without the 'e' in the Scottish style.  It's a collaboration between master scotch distiller from The Dalmore Richard Paterson (nicknamed "The Nose") and master distiller Antonio Flores of Gonzalez Byass sherry producers in Jerez, Spain.  The whisky starts as a blend of 5 to 8 year old scotch whiskies before being aged for another 3 years in sherry casks, then transferred to Spain for another year of aging in Pedro Ximenez casks.  So this is a minimum of 9 years in the barrel, but probably averaging at least 10.  It's bottled in Spain (hence it's labeled as 'Outland Whisky' rather than scotch) at 82.6 proof.  Now on to the spirit... 

The color is a clear amber, very appealing in the bottle and in the glass.  The nose is potent with oak, a little peat, and definite fruity sherry notes.  The taste is smooth and complex, with peat notes, sweet malt, vanilla from the oak, raisin and plum flavors, all blended together expertly.  The finish is more fruit notes and this one goes down easy.  I didn't have any expectations going into this pour, but it's honestly one of the best whiskies I've tried in a while.  It's a multi-faceted complex and delicious spirit, and if the Tigers can exceed expectations tonight the same way this "Outland Whisky" did, then we're in for a great game.

Geaux Tigers!  (And be sure to look for Jay and the Bite and Booze team on today's College Gameday on ESPN!) 

Friday, November 2, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: Founders 2017 Kentucky Breakfast Stout

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone on this Gameday eve, and welcome to another edition of Feature Beer Friday!  Today I'm headed up to Michigan, in the figurative sense, to try the 2017 version of the Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout.  Founders Brewing has been around in Grand Rapids, Michigan since 1997, making it pretty old and established in the world of craft beer.  Technically Founders is no longer considered a 'craft' brewery as they are 30% owned by San Miguel's parent company, but in my opinion that's a far cry from the breweries that have sold out 100% to AB-Inbev.  

One of Founders' most successful and popular beers is the subject of this review, the Kentucky Breakfast Stout.  It's a big imperial stout brewed with a lot of coffee (hence the 'breakfast' in the name) and chocolate.  It's then aged for a year in bourbon barrels before being released once annually each spring.  It can be found on tap, in 12 ounce 4-packs, and in 750ml bottles.  The bottle I have today is a 12 ounce bottle from the 2017 release, so at this point it's getting close to 2 years in the cellar.

Founders 2017 Kentucky Breakfast Stout

The pour is dark rich brown, almost black, with a couple of fingers' worth of frothy tan head.  The aroma is strong with bourbon and coffee, with a bit of roasted malt bitterness.  The taste is smooth, especially considering this beer is just over 12% alcohol, with more coffee and bourbon notes but also some sweet tones from the chocolate and still a hint of bitter roasted malt.  The mouthfeel is silky smooth, this is a dangerously easy drinker, and I think I'm going to have to stop after one and switch things up!  This still reigns supreme as one of the best barrel-aged imperial stouts in the world, so this Spring, if you see some of the 2019 release on the shelves, make a purchase.  Cheers!