Thursday, May 31, 2012

Old Beer and You

A smart man once told me "all that will happen to old beer is it will ferment more." Thing he left out was "and sometimes start to taste like soapy ass." In my experience, this depends on the beer. A nice Imperial Stout will often age beautifully whereas a 5 month old IPA tends to suck. As I am so dedicated to this blog, despite what my taking weeks off without realizing may indicate, here are some test results on light hoppy beer aging:

Oskar Blues 5.5 month old GUBNA
This Imperial IPA tastes like Jesus... DEAD. Well okay, stale with a hint of onion and oodles of booze. Just not enjoyable at all.

Oskar Blues 1.5 month old Deviant Dale's
By no means the best IPA ever but the very strong hop presence interplayed beautifully with the malts for a very pleasant drinking experience with no real suggestion of alcohol.

Jack's Abby-3.5 month old growler of Hoponius Union
It tastes like a very stale version of the normal beer. Far from rancid but not enjoyable.

White Birch-the long forgotten bottle of Hop Session Ale
I couldn't tell you where this came from when but it mostly went down the drain once I popped its cap.

So while I am all in favor of telling Beer Advocate users to STFU a lot of the time they may have a point about freshness dates on beer. While some flavors evolve in great directions, others explode with putrescence. So let's say you overdo it at the brewery and come home with 3 cases, get ordered off the sauce two weeks later pending diagnosis, and discover your stash is getting just a twee funky. If it's not too bad, grab ye some self rising flour, preheat the oven to 375, and grease thine favorite loaf pan.
Beer bread is second in simplicity to walking to the bakery around the corner. I personally complicate things by taking into account both consuming audience and the beer itself. Here are two recipes I made recently.

Bacon, olive, Gouda Smoke&Dagger Bread
1) set oven to preheat to 375
2) cook bacon in pan then rest on paper towels
3) plop olives in blender on purée
4) add 3 cups self rising flour and 12 oz. Smoke&Dagger smoked lager to bowl. Mix until cohesive.
5) add bacon, cheese, and olives to bowl. Distribute adequately within dough.
6) grease loaf pan using leftover bacon fat.
7) shovel dough into pan
8) cook at 375 for 1 hour

Maple honey Jabby Bread
1) preheat oven to 375
2) grease loaf pan with substance of choice
3) mix 3 cups self-rising flour in bowl with 1/4 cup sugar and 12oz Jabby Brau until cohesive.
4) mix in some maple syrup
5) mix in a couple spoons of honey
6) put half the dough in pan and add pats of butter.
7) add rest of dough and repeat the buttering.
8) cook at 375 for one hour

In both cases, let them cool at least 20 minutes before removing from their pans. The breads should be dense but still edible. If you find them a bit brickish, try sifting flour and/or mixing in melted butter.
The general rule with sweet flavors is they mask the beer's taste. My wife's loaves almost always include sugar because she likes a hint of beer whereas I base my ingredients around the hooch of choice.
Another ingredient omitted from mine is butter. This has to do with my being lactose intolerance more than anything else. The cheeses used were a mix of raw milk Gouda, goat milk Gouda, and five year aged Gouda. All are easy for me to digest. Butter is not. It does a great job making the crust look lovely and moistens the bread just a twee. However, I prefer ugly bread with bacon grease as it doesn't cause me pain.
These are just two suggestions and chances are even I won't duplicate them again. The honey maple doesn't work outside of dessert. Sugar needs to be omitted and maple syrup probably halved. The stuff is sticky and sweet to an extent where even my wife kind of misses the beer. I'd also probably prep the olives differently as they sort of dyed the bread and get the bacon less carbonized. Mind you I may just make something else entirely as beer bread getting complicated is too oxymoronic even for me.

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Mystery of Julio's

I went to the Spring Beer Festival at Julio's Liquors in Westborough, MA today. It's an annual event where several distributors and brewers set up. In past years, I've attempted a normal blog about it where individual beers are discussed and hot gossip from brewers is shared. The results were so bad even I wouldn't post them. So this time around, I opted to just stuff random freebies in my pocket then try then check my outgoing text messages and figure out WTF I'd been up to.

The above picture suggests I tried several beers from Oskar Blue of Colorado. This doesn't shock me. People have told me Dale's Pale rocks their hairy anuses for years. However, I keep helping more local micros out and getting several months' worth of product instead of purchasing brews. My guess is the following text relates to these beers:

Then apparently the crap Chinese restaurant across the way, Mandarin, gave me a coupon. I ate there after a previous fest. Maybe they changed chefs with locations but even drunk I found the food mediocre at best and some of it tasted worse than bile.

Why there's a Narraganset bumper sticker in my pocket is beyond me. Yes, their cheap lager is the best buy at several local clubs. However, I avoid their stuff as I don't want to have a taste for it. Nothing against em but the less I want a dehydrator at a sweat factory, the better. My guess is I tried the summer but my pallet was presumably so shot I wouldn't taste anything weaker than rubbing alcohol.

Then I apparently stumbled across the way to see Jack's Abby and Mystic. I dimly recall chatting with those dudes as I stepped to the side to allow their lines to continue and got stuck for a good twenty minutes against the wall.It was a nice wall and my ruined pallet dug it some Powderhouse Wheat Wine from  Mystic and Cask Framinghammer from Jack's. This is judging by the following email sent to me from my phone:
"POWDERHOUSE IS AWESOME! THAT iueerjojljwfoj THINKS I Am starinG AT HER CHEST!!!!!! ahahahahahhahaha AWESOME! HonESTLy I was stairng isjat hher peepeppper! It lokke3d tlike those ferom te talberque fbrowncoats! whatevfvvvvarrr yum casky framinghammmemmmmmmmmmmmmer! shir fuckdk tou and ioyuyr damned long ass wrlimits! eat itk verixxon!
Also I guess Verizon limited my texts and sucked.

The next message reads
"FUCK BACKLASH FOR NOT BEING HERE! Notch ujji is! Theey twweeeeet alalot toooo! I fo pee then drinks thar bears! I TRY! IT OOD!!!! TRY WHEN SNOT RUINED LWOMAN"
So apparently Backlash no showed the event, thus meanining I need to buy Groundswell to try which judging by my twitter feed, isn't happening as I now blame Helder for everything wrong in my life. The indication is I liked Notch enough to add them to my list of things to try when not ruined by IPAs.

Okay so apparently someone had a beer with Solstice in the name which tasted like cream soda. When I want soda, I drink soda. When I want beer, I drink beer. When the two cross, it apparently makes me so angry I forget to blame Backlash.

Then it looks like I got dinner and a massage in Westborough. I am hoping I wasn't stupid enough to do the latter drunk. So not a bad day. Have a list of maybe five beers to try sober some of which are from Notch who I didn't know going in. So yay for me. Now I need to try and tell that person I texted demanding ass juice that I meant orange juice. Later, Internet.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Reformed Kilts Custom Kirk

This lovely little purple and black number from Reformed Kilts didn't come out precisely as I envisioned. There isn't enough purple and the discussed pocket hook for my keys would be nice. However, certain uncontrollable circumstances caused the maker and myself to fall out of touch for months at a time. Given that, he did a damn fine job.

Again, my goal here was something casual to knock around in which would hold all my stuff. I am quite glad Aaron surprised me by going with denim. The material was the one aspect of jeans I missed. Plus, it compensates a bit for the fact three of seven kilts in my collection are basic black. The garment looks handsome and I dig how it hangs.

My favorite parts are the massive, compartmentalized, removable pockets. They have custom slots for common-carry devices other than my keys in addition to space adequate for a nook simpletouch reader. If there's any issue with them, it lies in the very slight learning curve on the attachment mechanism.

Getting three strong snaps through three corresponding loops takes some practice. However, there's remarkable stability and very little chance of accidental removal. I do wish the same style snap used as pocket closure had been worn or manipulated a bit prior to shipment. One turned out defective and I need to purchase a replacement as Aaron has fallen off the face of the Earth again.

It's good that the side pockets work so well since my rear mount wallet pocket is fairly useless. Even work pants seemingly designed to show the bulge of smuggled pens as you walk by conceal the edge of my money holder better. The small size combined with somewhat messy logo embroidery looks a bit silly, but not so much that it's a deal breaker.
All in all, I find the kilt quite nice. Denim washes well with a bit of prep. All my stuff fits. Air flow is adequate. As a bonus, the waist band conceals three sets of snaps to allow for a few waist sizes. Bottom line, for $112.00, it was a steal which seems likely to last me for several years.

No URL available as Aaron has gone off radar again

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Southcoast Toy and Comic Show

I am working with doctors to try and diagnose something. So for the time being, beer reviews are suspended as alcohol would really screw with things. Instead, I will discuss the Southcoast Toy and Comic Show in Fairhaven, MA.
The apparent idea behind behind this event was to gather vendors and artists from the Southcoast region of Massachusetts in one centralized area and let collectors throw money at them. Organizers added a few semi-celebrities with 8x10s and photo-ops. They also set something up with a local shadowcast to perform some of their special convention pieces. Perhaps that is why it cost eight freaking dollars per person to enter what was essentially a specialized flea market. The advantage to paying twice what I thought was fair to get in was I felt pretty okay about nickel and diming dealers. Downside was even though I had a Darth Vader costume hoodie in the car, I couldn't justify splurging on a photo-op with Guy Who Was Force Choked In Star Wars or Oh Yeah She WAS In Back to the Future or Raven. Of course, given the fact last time I met a pro-wrestler I made him so uncomfortable it's amazing I didn't get a prototype of the Tensai bomb, maybe I should thank the promoters.
Outside of some truly exceptional artwork and adorable handsewn stuffed animals, the selection of goods were fairly typical. Several comic book shops brought out a plethora of fully stuffed boxes and a wall's worth of sexy golden or silver age goodies. Someone got a low grade laser printer and grabbed some mediocre resolution copyrighted images off the Internet then stuffed them in rigid plastic sleeves alongside decent quality goods and exploited bad lighting a bit. Another dealer let us have four incomplete Muppet stuffed animals for the asking price of one then stuffed them into a bag from the local secondhand shop where the lot would've gone us 1/3 the cost at most. Then there was the guy seemingly singlehandedly responsible for my missing all recent limited Masters of the Universe collectibles selling at a pretty formidable mark-up. Most dealers I talked to were decent people who noted my broad range of geekery and forgo the ridiculous salespitch regarding insanely inflated worth.
The one real surprise was the Dr. Horrible shadowcast performance by the RKO Army. For some time, I've been telling people to drive the extra half hour and take in their performances as they take themselves just seriously enough to put on an enjoyable, well done show sans pomposity every time. This go round, however, the synch on almost everything was so far off it was distracting. I think that spacial concerns created by performing in a tiny lounge vs a large theater
account for early entrances. However, gestures 30+ seconds prior to corresponding cues just look bad. Maybe their busy Rocky and Repo schedules meant the Army didn't have time to prepare properly. Perhaps performing to a room seemingly consisting of two casual audience members and friends, family, cast, and crew didn't encourage a Grade-A effort. However, the fact is I felt a little bit better about not adding one of their Repo! performances to the agenda for the wife's birthday spectacular. It was still fun but if I'd driven 90 minutes put of my way expressly for that, I might have issued several crotch punches. Oh and whomever decided on that "hur hur NPH is totally gay" theme to some of the call outs they sound like frat boy bullshit and add nothing to the show.

Event:90/100 for exceeding cheese expectations

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