The Session: Repeal THIS!

session-logo-smHappy repeal day, everyone.

For those non-Americans, today is the seventy-fifth anniversary of the repeal of prohibition.

Now, as some of you may know, while campaigning for president, Freddie Roosevelt ran on the platform of repeal saying “I like beer, you like beer, we all like beer.”

Even so, I feel that repeal day is more of a booze holiday than a beer holiday. To me, a beer isn’t as appropriate as a martini (make mine ice cold, gin, vermouth, and bitters, garnished with a lemon twist, always stirred, never shaken, and not more than 3 oz. plus 1-1.5 oz water, none of this pint of vodka, or worse something flourescent geen, and calling that a martini) or perhaps a Manhattan. I plan to start the evening off with a nice glass of rye (Old Overholt), and then I will end up drinking beer. In this case, Sam Adams Winter Lager will be the tipple of choice.

So join me in practicing our American right, the right to drink!

Cheers! Slainte! L’khiyam! Ganbei! Salud! and so on,
The Scribe

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The Session: What’s in My Glass

session-logo-smOooo…Matt over at World of Brews threw down the gauntlet this month with a simple but loaded question:

What is your favourite beer?

Well, Matt, if you wants to ask the questions, you gots to be able to take the answers. I’ll borrow an Ed Hamilton (from the Ministry of Rum) classic retort:

Whatever happens to be in my glass.

No. Seriously. Think about it. Who has one favourite beer? Honestly, if you have a favourite beer, you haven’t drunk enough. Is your breakfast of champions brew the same one you enjoy as a hair of the dog? (Of course not, since your hair of the dog ought to be ginger ale, orange juice, and a generous pour of Angostura bitters. It tastes as good as it sounds, but boy does it work.) I’d rather a Woodstock Inn Autumn Ale to go with my apple pie, but before dinner, I’d probably go with their Pemi Pale. Is Beirtuit (the drinking game) really the same with a beer that costs more than $15 per case?

I probably drink more Pemi Pale than anything else, but that is also because I have ahuge supply. At the same time, at last count, I had over a dozen different beers within five yards of my computer, and you can be sure they all have their day in the sun. With all that said, it wouldn’t be the Session without a beer review, so since I’ve been really enjoying it lately, why don’t I suggest a brew from my favourite brewery:

Woodstock Inn Brewing Co.: Autumn Ale Brew

Tasting Conditions: I enjoyed this brew after quite a long hard day of life, with a very late dinner. I used a Harpoon seven ounce straight sided beer tasting glass to try this seasonal lager. I got the bottles from the brewery and they sat for maybe a month at room temperature before being consumed.

Eye: This is a dark reddish-brown ale. On the pour, it was quite fizzy, foaming up rather like a soda. After the surge settled, it continued to produce Champagne-like bubbles. The bottle was very Halloween with orange, yellow, and black dominating. The label featured a bunch of apple-headed witches stirring a cauldron of beer.

Nose: The nose had lots of apples and spicyness. The aroma can best be described as the smell of fresh baked apple pie, with just a bit of hops and ferment underneath.

Mouth: The first sip revealed lots of winter spice: cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. The cinnamon dominated the finish, with the nutmeg close in front. There were also fairly constant apple notes, of the sweeter, softer variety. The front end was quite sweet with sugar notes. The middle revealed that you were, in fact, drinking beer with a nice hoppy bitterness. The beer was also almost chewy in the mouth.

Conclusion: This is a yummy brew, though definitely on the sweeter side. It would be perfect with desert, especially, and this is from experience, if said desert involved baked apples. Other wonderful uses include warming up after a cold day. Altogether a yummy brew from my favorite brewery.

Picture shortly.

So drink down whatever is in your glass, and head over to World of Brews to catch the roundup,
The Scribe

The Session: A Celebration

For those of you who are new to the Dram, what I do here is blog on beer and cocktails, in roughly equal portions. This month I am also blogging on wine. However, in general, you can find reviews of beer, usually three per month, plus beer cocktails, and other cocktails as well. Anyway, onto the Session:
Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a six pack of Tuckerman’s, which I usually drink when I get down from the eponymous backcountry ski area, one of the deadliest in New England. Otherwise, I tend to drink a sparkling wine for celebrations. However, this ale made this selection hard. In addition, since this is wine month here at the Dram, I had to find a barleywine, which is a style I don’t tend to drink. Then, serendipity struck.
This weekend was my roommate’s twenty-first birthday. This seems like the sort of the special occasion asked for by our good host. One of our guests even brought a little Sierra Nevada barleywine bottled under the name “Celebration Ale.” Honestly, could the synergy be any better?

It is an interesting beer. It’s a miserable winter seasonal, because it is not much of a winter warmer. However, it made an excellent summer cooler. It is my honor to present:

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.: 2007 Celebration Ale

Tasting Conditions: I enjoyed this winter warmer after work one day. I drank it from the bottle from, which had been sitting in the fridge for a few days. I drank it from a British pint glass of one imperial pint with room for some head proud of the pint mark.

Eye: This is a wonderfully honey amber ale. It had a lot of surge on the pour, but it subsided fairly quickly. The bottle is a fairly standard Sierra Nevada bottle, though it was in a winter theme.

Nose: There was a lot of good spicyness here, as well as some good hops, and some pleasant herbal notes.

Mouth: In the mouth this was a sweet ale with a pleasing bitterness. It was surprisingly refreshing for a winter beer, and had some Belgian tripel notes. There was also some sour, though more along the lines of cranberry than citrus.

Conclusion: I enjoyed this ale as a summer libation. However, I am not sure how it would taste in the dead of winter. In addition, I find winter ales to be the best seasonals. While this was good, other winter warmers do a better job in this regard.

Be sure to check out the wrap-up over at the Barley Blog.

May we have many more special occaisions,
The Scribe

The Session: The London Beer & Cider Festival, 2008

Hello all, and welcome to my blog. For those of you who are beer drinkers, and new to my blog, welcome. For those of you who are spirits and cocktail bloggers, and don’t know what The Session is, it’s basically the beer blogging world’s version of MxMo.

This week the topic of The Session is beer festivals. Being freshly legal at home, I haven’t really been to any beer festivals in the States. However, while I was in London, I did go the annual London Beer and Cider Festival. Let me just say what a blast it was. The festival was hosted by CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale. So-called “real ale” for those who don’t know, is ale that is unpasteurized and served out of the same container in which the secondary fermentation happens. The way this festival worked was there was an entry fee (£2.50 for non-CAMRA members), and you could either borrow a glass, or buy the festival glass for £3. The glass was really quite gorgeous, and it was large enough that there was room for head proud of the imperial pint line. Then there was a cost per beer.

Frankly, I would have much preferred a higher entry fee, like perhaps £10 or £20, and unlimited beer. I felt that charging by the half-pint meant that I was less willing to simply try beers, which I feel should be a large part of the festival, but only tried the beers that had flavor notes I liked and were types of beer I liked. While I tried a ton of different beers, I had a good recollection of two:

Enville Brewery: Old Porter – This was quite a nice mild porter. It had some slight sweet notes, with just a touch of bitter and lots of fruity complexity. I would love to get my hands on this fine porter.

Fox Brewery: Cerberus Norfolk Stout – This seemed like more of a porter to me than a stout, at least in comparison to Irish stouts like Guinness, Murphy’s, and so on. Nevertheless I enjoyed this beer immensely. It had nice chocolate and raison notes with just the barest hint of bitterness. It was also pleasantly light bodied for a stout, which is a nice change from the more traditional meal in a glass

Thanks for coming to my Session. Next week, I should be mostly moved in, and will be back to live posting.
Cheers!
The Scribe