Archive for category What Ales You?

What Ales You?: Magic Hat Hex Oktoberfest

Monthly Feature
Wayne and Leah bring you their monthly take on beer!

Hope you all had a Happy Halloween TMR readers. This month brings you a seasonal from one of our favorite domestic brewers, Magic Hat. The beer, a fall seasonal, is called Hex. Not sure where you sit as you’re reading this, however, where we are the weather is changing and becoming our favorite time of the year…autumn. Cooler temps and changing leaves, fall is here!

Wayne’s Take
Last month we did our Top 5 and Magic Hat #9 was on my list. Maybe in the near future we will review #9, but for this month we went with Magic Hat’s Fall seasonal Hex. Magic Hat, at least until this point in time, hasn’t produced a beer that I didn’t like and the same can be said of Hex. While not my favorite Magic Hat product (#9 still holds that distinction) Hex was very solid. Hex, upon pouring into a glass, had a nice color to it. I wish I had a strict description of the color, maybe a reddish orangish mix, nice color, reminded one of autumn, not a lot of head either. I took my first sip and let it linger for a little while, and how’s this for an oxymoron, it had a simplistic complexity to it. A lot of nice taste lingering, maybe a little spice, hint of cinnamon and then followed by a slight bitterness. Maybe like a bitter walnut??? There were several distinct flavors to it, which gave it that complexity, but not so many that I couldn’t say it was simple. Also, there were two distinct stages following the swallow, the initial taste (as described above) and the following slight bitterness to it.

Leah’s Take
I liked Hex for a number of reasons…number one, sorry to say, was the super cute spooky bottle design. (Hey, it is the first thing you see). It was also, two, a lovely amber color and its nice to start working on the darker beers now that its getting chilly. Three, Hex has a rich but not too heavy flavor that finishes with less bitterness than some comparable beers and has a faint sweetness. It would be perfect to sit down and have several watching football or something.

Wayne’s Meal Pairing
I would pair Hex with a holiday fruit dessert, like maybe a pumpkin or apple pie. I would say that pumpkin and apple pie or sweet definitely, but not as sweet as other desserts. They seem to rely on the natural sweetness of the contents, rather than other desserts, and I think that the fine taste and slightly bitter aftertaste (and I do mean slightly) of Hex would compliment an autumnal dessert nicely.

Leah’s Meal Pairing
Given its very mild sweetness, I think Hex would be fab with something bacony- maybe a pizza with bacon even. I could also see drinking it with sweet-savory like spiced nuts.

There you go TMR readers, another Magic Hat success, hope you try it and like it. Since we were a day late on our October entry, this month we will try to bring you 2 entries. Until next time!

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What Ales You?: Top 5 Beers

Monthly Feature
Wayne and Leah bring you their monthly take on beer!

Greetings TMR readers! We decided to do something a little different this month, rather than the both of us reviewing one beer, we decided to give our “Top 5″ beers. Are these our top five of all time? Did we use any kind of objective scale and criteria to reach these decisions? The answer to both of the previous questions is no, we did not. This is simply based upon our experience in the recent past, we could taste a brew in the near future that might supplant one of the five listed below.

Wayne’s Top 5
I will preface by saying, again, that this list is based upon my feeling right now. All of the top 5 below are great beers and given the day, could be interchangeable on my list.

1. Kona Longboard Lager: I tried this Hawaiian gem last Halloween. We had a party and somebody left Longboard Lager in our refrigerator. Very very smooth, light and tasty. This is a good solid all around beer that I think can be enjoyed all year round and could go with just about anything.

2. Magic Hat #9:  Discovered this one several years ago at a hotel bar outside of Philly, while on a work trip. Very unusual but compelling taste. The Magic Hat brewery usually puts out a qualify product and I am most familiar with this. Great smell that matches the lightly floral and fruity taste. Not too strong on the hops, but just enough. Very enjoyable beer.

3. Pabst Blue Ribbon:  An American Classic! I know that some people turn their noses up at American mass produced beers such as Bud Light, Budweiser, Miller Lite, Coors etc.., however, PBR is a favorite.

4. Dos Equis XX Lager: The green bottle! Other than having really cool commercials, Dos Equis is a solid beer. In my estimation, it used to be that Heineken held the top spot for the most popular import to American drinkers and although I don’t have any numbers to support this, just my taste buds, Dos Equis has supplanted Heineken. It’s a good all around beer, that can best be enjoyed anytime. It had been some time before I had Dos Equis and the first time I did, after that hiatus, I was very surprised just how tasty and smooth it was.

5. Lindeman’s Lambic (framboise):  We reviewed this one before and while it’s a very specialized beer, best enjoyed with a dessert due to its fruitiness, it was still amazing the first time I tasted it and it remains a favorite of mine. You definitely couldn’t drink more than one in a sitting, but the unique taste must be represented in my top five.

Leah’s Top 5
1. Hitachino Nest White Ale:  This Japanese beer has been hard to find, but love it for its light yet full crisp citrus-ey flavor. It’s cloudy like wheat beers, but definitely needs no orange. Also, can’t get over how cute the bottle is!

2. St. Arnold’s Spring Bock:  I haven’t had it in forever given our current proximity to Texas and that its seasonal, but I swear I can taste flowers when I drink it.

3. Lindeman’s Lambic (framboise):  I agree with Wayne. Its sweet but not too sweet, gorgeous in color and the perfect accompaniment to a rich dessert or a cheese tray- especially one that is heavy on blue or goat.

4. Duvel: I challenge anyone to find a better beer to drink on a cold fall day at our old favorite Rudyard’s. Recommend you get the burger and tater tots with cheese.

5. Coors Light: The silver bullet will always have a place in my heart. Its very refreshing flavor is great with any salty food and the brewery is legitimately in the mountains of Colorado…well technically the foothills I think…whatever.

So those are our top 5′s, feel free to comment on some that you want us to try… or add your top 5.

*Source: Magic Hat Image, Duvel Image

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What Ales You?: Clipper City Small Craft Warning at Lost Dog Cafe

Monthly Feature
Wayne and Leah bring you their monthly take on beer!

Beer: Clipper City Small Craft Warning (Uber Pils)
Style/Type: Pilsner
Brewery: Clipper City Brewing Company
Location: Baltimore, Maryland

Greetings TMR readers! Leah and I would like to apologize for missing our June entry, we will try to give you a double dip this month. June was an incredibly busy month for us, but we did drink beer(s)! One of the reasons we were busy, is that we had out of town company. That company………..the writer, blogger extraordinaire, food critiquer, executive producer, director, mastermind of this very blog; Mr. Kevin Shalin. Kevin and his family stayed with us for a couple of days during their journey to Boston. During that time, we went to the Lost Dog Cafe, a and while there did a review of a beer. That beer? Clipper City Smallcraft Warning Pilsner. So see below, our take.

Overall Taste
Kevin’s Take
No offense to the fine people who brew Clipper City Smallcraft Warning Pilsner, but this beer reminded me of slightly chilled cat piss. I thought the temp was off, but I guess this was more of a restaurant problem, than a beer maker error. But then again, certain beers need to be served at certain temps, so…who am I to say? The fact remained, cold or slightly chilled, this beer was just not for me. It had a funky, unpleasing after taste that made me want to totally switch gears and order a root beer. So, I did. That too needed to be a few degrees colder, but it was quite tasty nonetheless. I’ve had worse beers than Clipper City. It just wasn’t my style.

Wayne’s Take
I might be a little stuck on this one Clipper City wasn’t my favorite, that is for sure, but I’m not sure disliked it as much as Kevin. It’s called a Pilsner, but wasn’t quite as golden colored as other pilsners that I have seen. It was a little bit more orangey in color. Decent sized head and judging from the color of the head, maybe a brownish tint to the foam, I could tell it was going to be malty tasting. The first sip contained a decent amount of malty/hoppy taste, surely not the most excessively malty or hoppy I have had, but enough, however, it was the aftertaste, for me that was a little difficult. Very yeasty, yeasty yeasty aftertaste, too much for me in fact. In summary, a passable beer, slightly too much malty flavor, with a worse aftertaste

Leah’s Take
I had no problem with Clipper City- It was light enough to enjoy with a meal without taking it over but had a distinctive flavor. I agree with Kevin about the temp, if a beer is a pale shade I usually like it very chilly. This is one that I could enjoy more than one glass of, though I don’t think I would work very hard to find it.

Meal Pairing
Kevin’s Take
The Lost Dog Café has 53 specialty sandwiches on their menu. 53!!! I went with #2…Billy’s Philly. This was like a regular Philly cheese steak, but with chicken. I’d like to say the beer complimented this fine sandwich, but happily, I consumed it before ordering food, and wasn’t about to ruin my meal with cat piss. The root beer was a perfect substitute. The sandwich was good, borderline great. If I ever go back, I’d probably choose something else. There are just too many options. What stood out about my meal was the $3 basket of seasoned waffle fries. Un-f-ing-believable! Think Chick-fil-a…but much, much better. Golden, perfectly crisp, and dosed with seasoning. If you are in the WDC-area, The Lost Dog Café is a no-brainer stop. The relaxed atmosphere, delicious food, and overwhelming beer selection that would make a raging alcoholic’s knees buckle, proved to be a winning combination.

Wayne’s Take
As Kevin previously mentioned there are SO MANY sandwiches to choose from at Lost Dog, it’s hard to pick. I have been to Lost Dog several times and have tried a different sandwich each of those times. In my opinion, there is some risk for a place to have such a large menu, but when it’s all sandwiches and pizza and you do those well, I guess they want people to have to choose and then take their alternate pick at their next visit. I chose Number 19 on the Sandwich menu, The Balboa, which contains tomato sauce, genoa salami, hickory ham, pepperoni, mozzerella, onions and oregano. I still had some of my Clipper City when the meal came and must say that while I didn’t dislike Clipper City as much as Kevin, I still didn’t think it went well with this meal. My first bite of the balboa was a disappointment, it wasn’t bad, but it was missing something. However, upon taking my second bite and every bite thereafter, that missing something proved to be the oregano. I guess the kitchen missed the end of the sandwich I started on. Once the oregano was mixed into bits, the Balboa becam an excellent sandwich. Again, the sandwiches are so tasty at Lost Dog, its worth a visit. Also, the beer selection is great, and while the Balboa was quite tasty, I figure the yeasty after taste and bouquet of Clipper City wasn’t the right combo for the sammy that I had.

Leah’s Take
I decided to go with pizza during our Lost Dog visit, though a non-traditional one. I enjoyed the very decadant Burro Pizza, which was a nice chewy wheat crust with refried beans serving as the “sauce” and basically a ton of cheese, topped with diced tomatos onions etc. I don’t know how one could possibly go wrong with that combo, so maybe it goes without saying it was good, but I’ll say it anyway- it was good. It tasted great with the Clipper City and the wheat crust made it seem more healthy than it probably was.

There you are TMR readers; Clipper City Small Craft Warning, 1 out of 3 of us seemed to like this beer, but go try one for yourself. If you ever find yourself in the Washington D.C. region, definitely go to The Lost Dog, the food is very good and if you’re an animal lover, the Lost Dog Foundation, helps find homes for homeless dogs and cats. There are several locations now in the D.C. area, so stop by, great food, cutesy family friendly environs. It’s a winner to us.

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What Ales You?: Piraat Ale

Monthly Feature
Wayne and Leah bring you their monthly take on beer.

Arghhhhh MIghty Rib Readers Argghhhhh. This month we reviewed an ale called Piraat Ale from Belgium. An ale is a beer brewed with malted barley and fermented at a warmer temperature. The warmer fermentation will produce a variety of flavors, mostly fruity in taste and smell. Piraat is more closely associated with a pale ale. From what I understand pale ales are naturally lighter in color, but this comes from the malt being mixed and dried with a component called Coke (not the soft drink). Neither Leah nor myself are huge fans of pale ales, so this was an interesting beer to try. Hopefully, we could overcome our general distaste of pales.

Overall Taste: Wayne’s Take
I poured my Piraat into a mug and noted that it had a golden color, and a slight head, however the thermosphere remained foggy for quite some time. Took a sniff and must say, that it did have a really pleasant smell. Not too yeasty/hoppy, but with a faint floral and fruity hint. I took my first sip and I did detect a slight floral hint, however, it was quickly overpowered with bitter. I have had bitter beers before, and Piraat was not the most bitter I have had, however, it was surprising after the delicate and delicious bouquet. Also, Piraat left the bitter after taste for quite some time, which I might call unpleasant if the beer itself were even more bitter. It was tolerable, the aftertaste, but only because the product itself was only slightly bitter.

Overall Taste: Leah’s Take
This is a nice strong but not too dark European-ey beer, and tastes even better when served out of a cute beer goblet. I thought it was clearly hoppy and malty when I first sipped it, and these flavors did not become more subdued as I continued to drink. For myself, Piraat is a nice before or during dinner drink, but its a bit too assertive to enjoy more than one bottle in an evening.

Meal Pairing: Wayne’s Take
Yes, yes, it would be easier to pair the Piraat, with a meal that a Pirate would eat while at sea, say seafood? However, I am going to guess that the Pirate might enjoy a Piraat while on shore leave. That said, I would pair a Piraat with a nice Pork Chiffon. What is a Pork Chiffon you might ask? I have no idea, it just sounded kind of silly and made it up right now. Seriously, I think that Piraat would go with a nicely grilled pork chop or pork dish of some sort. Typically, pork has a nice flavor and is quite light, which would be a good pairing for the bittery Piraat. Maybe even a Hawaiin inspired pork chop, after sniffing the floraly fruity bouquet of the Piraat, even though the following taste has very little of that quality, it might be nice to have a fruity pineappley taste of a H-Chop to accompany the bittery Piraat.

Meal Paring: Leah’s Take
I’d think land lover food would be an injustice to Piraat. I would pair a nice glass of Piraat with some beer or tempura battered shrimp and like a pound of hushpuppies. The mildly sweet briny taste of the shrimp and the heavy greasy carbs of the hushpuppies would contrast beautifully with the robust hoppy flavor of Piraat. If you ate enough of the hushpuppies, you might be able to try that second glass, too.

There it is Rib Readers, Piraat Ale, great smell, with some bitterness dependent on the drinker. Great label and decent to slightly below average brew….in Wayne and Leah’s opinion.

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