A Holiday for Stouts

Posted by Jim on Mar 16th, 2011
Mar 16

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day. As is the tradition of Nissa and I, we will be having breakfast at Bull Feeney’s tomorrow morning. They serve a fine full Irish breakfast, and the large pours of beer taste even better when consumed before noon. Nissa will have to head to work, whereas I have a few hours in the Old Port before I must go pick up Emmett. I’ll probably check out the new porter that will be poured at Gritty’s, or go get a pint of the recently rereleased Bourbon Barrel Aged Lake Trout Stout at Sebago. Normally I finish up with a chalice or two at Novare, but day care is closing at 3 tomorrow, so I’ll have to skip the bier garden this year.

To get myself in the mood, I’m enjoying a few stouts tonight. First up is the classic Cadillac Mountain Stout from Bar Harbor Brewing Company. If I review any others tonight, I’ll add them to this post.

Bar Harbor Brewing Co. Cadillac Mountain Stout
A- / 4.03
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a cellared bottle into my Beamish Imperial Pint. This bottle has been in my cellar since May 2009.

Caddy is a very dark beer. The opaque black liquid fills my glass. The head is foamy, brown and thick. As it settles good lacing is left behind. A little bit of film and foam coats the sides of the glass as I swirl the beer about.

Sweet roasted malts greet my nose as I inhale this beer’s aroma. Milk chocolate covered caramel comes to mind.

Dark malts with a slight roasted quality is the first thing I taste as the beer enters my mouth. As I swallow, the taste of hot fudge syrup is present, but it is only the slightest bit sweet and not syrupy at all. I’m not sure if that quite makes sense; it is chocolately, but not like normal chocolate, hot fudge sauce is the closest thing that I can think of to describe it. There is a sherry-like quality to the beer, but it isn’t too strong.

The carbonation level isn’t very high, but there are still some bubbles to this beer. A coat remains after I swallow, although it is a bit watery and not too flavorful. There is just enough of the beer in it to make me want another sip.

Overall, I am a fan of this stout. This aged bottle doesn’t quite live up to the once legendary status of this beer. I would drink it again, most likely fresh and certainly nothing older than a year old. I had samples fresh at the brewery, and I remember liking it more, but the time and place could have been a factor in that memory. People will tell you that the beer isn’t as good as it used to be, before the brewery changed hands and (supposedly) the recipe changed. I can’t really comment on that, as I wasn’t much of a beer geek back when I had the original recipe and I don’t remember how it tasted. Still, it is a very good stout that is worth seeking out.

A near perfect meal

Posted by Jim on Feb 9th, 2010
Feb 9

Nissa and I took advantage of locals night at the Lion’s Pride yesterday.  The special pricing includes $12 for a large plate of shrimp scampi or generous cut of prime rib.  I guess it’s called locals night because not many tourists are still in Brunswick on Mondays.  We drove up from South Portland for the meal, and I certainly found it to be worthwhile.  It’s amazing to me that more people aren’t taking advantage of this offer.  I know we are all experiencing tough economic times, but if you are able to afford a meal out, this should be near the top of your list.  The steak I ordered was very tasty.  It had been way too long since I ordered a piece of prime rib.  I wouldn’t say that the cut I had last night is better than the sirloin tips that are always on the menu, but I am still very happy with my choice.  As soon as Nissa and I decided to have dinner here, I was picturing what find beer I would order to accompany my meal.  For me, it was a no-brainer: a glass of Pannepot Old Fisherman’s Ale.  This s one of my favorite beers.  It’s high cost and rarity makes it a special occasion beer for me, and this nice dinner seemed like a good opportunity to order one.  here’s my impression of this terrific brew.

Pannepot Old Fisherman’s Ale

A+ / 4.65
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | drink: 5

Reviewed from my tasting notes. Served in a snifter at the Lion’s Pride. The beer is colored a very dark shade of brown; it is too dark too see anything through it except for a faint glow caused by a bright light. There was a small head of tiny tan bubbles It quickly settled to skim of foam. There was a little bit of lacing left by the settling, but a great amount of lacing occurred as I began to drink the beer. The Old Fisherman’s Ale smells nothing like an old fisherman. It is mainly sweet, with plenty of spices. I think I can detect aromas of clove and date, but identifying smells is one of my weak points, so I can’t do this aroma justice. I find it be very pleasant and a perfect compliment to the amazing flavor this beer possesses. I taste plums and dates. It is a bit sweet, but not as sweet as other Quads and high alcohol brews. In fact, there is just a hint of alcohol, mostly in the finish. You can feel and taste it evaporating after you swallow. For a spiced beer, this is taste perfection. The body is of medium consistency, while the level of carbonation is on the lighter side. There is some mouth coating, but it is very slight. It is not syrupy or sticky; as I described above, it feels like it is just a thin layer of alcohol the pleasantly disappears. This is especially impressive, considering the strength and style of this beer. This quality mouthfeel lends itself to making Pannepot incredibly drinkable. The spices never get overwhelming. If you order a glass of this, or pop open a bottle, you could sip it slowly for a long time, or just as easily, you could order round after round. The alcohol never impedes the drinkablity (the Old Fisherman’s Ale is dangerous that way). I would drink this beer all the time, if it wasn’t so rare (and expensive). It’s an exceptional product that I can easily call my favorite Quad.

The Lion’s Pride always has a bunch of posters up advertising upcoming events and specials, so I was surprised when I saw an announcement on their blog that was not advertised in the restaurant.  The week spanning March 5 through the 13th is the date of the Lion’s Pride First Annual Belgian Beer fest.  Beer nerds far and wide know the reputation of the Belgian Beer festival held annually at Ebenezer’s (the Lion’s Pride’s sister location), so to have a similar event this close to home is something to be very excited about.  Chris, the host of these events, is always very generous with the rare beers he offers to those lucky folks who make the pilgrimage to the event, and this one looks to be no different.  The blog has a number of beers listed, but the event listing at Beer Advocate actually has a bit more information, so I’ll copy that list for you to look over:

On Draught:
A whole bunch of Allagash Goodies will be on draught
De Dolle Mad Bitch Oct.2009
DeDolle Stille Nacht 2007
Tsmije Plus
Tsmije Tripel
Tsmije Kerst
Tsmije Catherine The Great
Tsmije Wostyjte
Tsmije BBB (CASK)
Oude Beersel Framboise
Oude Beersel Unblended Lambic
Pannepot 2007
Tsjeeses 2008
De Glazen Toren Jan De Litche
De Glazen Toren Saison De Epmere
De Glazen Toren Canister
Cuvee De Angelique
Konnenings Hoeven Quad
Chimay Tripel
Cantillon Gueuze
Cantillon Cuvee De Champions 02-03
Cantillon Lou Pepe Kriek 2006
Cantillon Vigeronne
La Trappe Brother Isdor
Abbey ST Bon Chien 2006
Abbey ST Bon Chien 2007
Abbey St Bn Chien 2008
BFM Le Muele
BFM Toriple
Brooklyn Flemish Gold
St. Bernardus
And a few other rather interesting things being poured as well 😉

It’s easy to be excited about everything on that list.  Considering that something as amazing as Koningshoeven Quad is the low point (as in, easiest to acquire outside of this event) , I don’t know how a beer fan could not be incredibly excited about this event.  I find it too hard to even list the stand-outs—they are all stand-outs.  But on March 5 I’ll have to decide what to drink first, so based upon what information I have now, I think I would have to order a Kabert.  Don’t go looking for a beer Advocate listing for Kabert, you won’t find it, this beer is too rare.  It’s a special blend of Portsmouth’s Kate the Great and De Struisse’s Black Albert.  Is it possible for two of the greatest beers on Earth to be made even better?  I’ll let you know on March 5th.

Last Night’s Reviews

Posted by Jim on Jan 22nd, 2010
Jan 22

My first Pitch the Pint night at the Lion’s Pride was an excellent experience.  The place was virtually empty, which surprised Nissa and I, but it meant that we could kick back and have an hours long conversation about beer with Leigh and Ryan (our gracious hosts for the evening) and close down the bar.  We left with a few glasses, which was very generous, and got to tour the behind the scenes areas (VIP access!).  It was a really special night, and other great memory I’ll associate this excellent beer bar.

I reviewed three beers over the course of the evening. They aren’t very wordy, but I only wanted to jot down quick tasting notes so I could get back to the conversation.

d’Achouffe Le Chouffe

A / 4.35
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | drink: 4

Reviewed from my notes. Poured from a bottle into a Le Chouffe goblet. It’s a golden orange beer with a thin white head. It’s translucent and has lots of carbonation bubbles visible within. It has a very nice earthy yeast aroma; there may be a hint of fruit in it as well. It has a great grassy, wheat like taste. There is a hint of alcohol in the finish. It’s spiced to perfection. It has a heavier body than I expected, and a plenty of carbonation. It’s a bit strong, but very good to drink. An excellent beer.

d’Achouffe N’Ice Chouffe

B+ / 3.8
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | drink: 4

Reviewed from my notes. Served in a La Chouffe goblet. It has a medium brown color, opaque, with a thin skim of grey bubbles. I couldn’t detect much aroma, but it was served pretty cold. It has a slightly sweet flavor, with some caramel notes. There is a lot of carbonation and a medium body. Overall, a pretty interesting beer that was fun to drink, but I don’t think I’d order too many. I’m glad I got it on tap instead of in a bottle.

De Glazen Toren Jan de Lichte

A / 4.4
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | drink: 4.5

Reviewed from my notes. Served in a tulip glass. The beer is colored somewhere between gold and orange. It has a nice, thick white foam head. There isn’t much carbonation visible in the glass. There is a slight earthy yeast aroma. You can taste orange and coriander as well as some candy sugar sweetness in the finish. It is an interesting mix of flavors, complex like a glass of champagne. It has a less-than-medium body and a near perfect mouth coating (just enough to leave you wanting another sip). This beer is highly drinkable. I could stick with this all night. Everything by De Glazen Toren is so good!

There was some great stuff on tap last night that we didn’t get to try.  Good thing we’ll be back in Brunswick on Saturday!

21rst at 76

Posted by Jim on Dec 4th, 2009
Dec 4

Tomorrow is Repeal Day, the 76th anniversary of the ratification of the 21rst amendment, which repealed the 18th and made alcohol legal once again!  One way I’m honoring that great act is by buying and consuming some exceptional beers.

I made a trip to Downeast Beverage yesterday afternoon, whilst waiting for 4 pm to roll around and for Novare Res to open its doors.  I really shouldn’t go here alone, especially with a fat wallet, as I always see so many beers I want to purchase, and I usually end up buying most of what I want.  I limited myself to four bottles, all of which look to be exceptional.  I picked up a 750 ml of Fantome Noel, which is the third different Fantome selection I’ve added to my cellar since the fall.  It’s such a great brewery, I feel really lucky that I am able to find so many different Fantome products in Maine.

I also bought myself a bottle of Weyerbacher XIII, their anniversary beer from 2008.  I already had a bottle of the Twelve and the fourteen should still be on store shelves; once I pick one up, I’ll have a bit of a vertical going.  That’s pretty exciting!

Lastly, I bought two 12 oz bottles of J.W. Lees Harvest Ale.  One is from 2007, which I’ll save until 2017 so Nissa and I can drink it on our tenth wedding anniversary.  The other bottle is the port cask aged variety and it dates from 2005.  This is my favorite style of the cask aged series.  I’ll probably drink it soon, maybe for Christmas or New Years.

Tomorrow, on Repeal Day, Nissa and I will be traveling to a home in Biddeford to take part in the first meeting of the Southern Maine Beer Drinkers Group, a collection of beer enthusiasts who met on Beer Advocate.  There will be some exceptional beers on offer tomorrow.  I’ll do a full write up of what I got try after the meeting.

Finally, tonight is the First Friday Art Walk in Portland.  I’ll be headed out to the Two Point Gallery to meet the folks behind Rum Riot Brewing Company.  There isn’t much information on this group (at least not that I could find), but apparently they only offer there beers in two ways: on draught at a specific gallery on First Friday or in a bottle/growler by contacting the brewery directly.  I hope that their beer is good, as I’d love to think I’ve discovered a new source of excellent beer from right here in the Portland area.  If you get a chance, make your way to 564 Congress at 5pm and join me for a beer you most likely have never tried before.  Plus, it’s free!

Best Vacation Companion, Ever

Posted by Jim on Jan 26th, 2009
Jan 26

And she was this excited about Canadian Beer!

It probably also had something to do with wearing a t-shirt with a hot dog on it.

Still Not a Gamer

Posted by Jim on Jul 21st, 2008
Jul 21

Nissa and I bought ourselves a Wii yesterday.  No games other than Wii Sports so far, but expect Mario Kart and Smash Brothers to be purchased soon.

Here’s my friend code, if you’d like to add it: 0422-1149-0233-5405

Race Results

Posted by Jim on Jun 26th, 2008
Jun 26

Just in case you are wondering, here are mine and Nissa’s results from the Smuttynose 5K we ran this past Sunday.

I ran the course in 30:36, which put me at 420th palce overall.  I was 41 out of 48 for my division, with a pace of 9:53/mile.

Nissa came in at 567 with a time of 36:42.  She was 50 out of 61 in her division and had a pace of 11:51.

Novare Res First Impressions

Posted by Jim on May 21st, 2008
May 21

Just got back from the soft opening…  A great draft selection, about 20 or so beers, no locals, closest is a Suttynose.  They have Beamish!  The bottle menu is about 5 pages long, divided up by style.  There is a limited menu of plates of appetizers…no hot wings or anything like that, more like cheese plates and tasty olives.  The staff is new to the bar scene (it seems)…my pal Jeff ordered a $5 beer, paid with a $20, and got a $5 and $10 bill as change; he wasn’t able to leave a tip since he didn’t have anything small.  Overheard friends of the bar who claimed the problems with the taps were due to the person who ran the keg lines doing a bad job.  A shout out to my friends at the Maine Beer Writers Guild: I overheard a few people who, like me, learned of the early opening through your blogs.  Thanks for keeping us all informed!  So far the second room and outdoor seating aren’t licensed, but should be open by next week.  Everyone was very friendly.  The owner gave a little speech at one point, telling everyone that it was his and his wife’s dream to open a place like this.  To make up for the taps pouring poorly and the staff not being quite prepared to handle all of the customers, he bought a round for the house.  It was quite generous.  Overall, I’m not going to say it’s my new favorite Portland bar, but it is very nice, certainly in the top 3, and has strong potential to become number 1, once the few problems are sorted out.  I’ll be back tomorrow so Nissa can try it out, and I expect to be back numerous times this summer.  I’m very sure this is the first bar I’ve been to where there isn’t a single beer available I wouldn’t consider drinking.  Congratulations Novare Res.  Here’s to a long and successful run!

Realtor Expedition to Brunswick

Posted by Jim on Mar 22nd, 2008
Mar 22

Nissa and I have signed a buyers’ representation agreement with a Realtor and spent a couple hours in Brunswick this afternoon looking at four homes.  The four properties appeared good on paper, but only one of the four would we consider living in.  We’re not about to make an offer on it or anything; we’re also looking in South Portland and Westbrook and want to see what’s out there.  It is reassuring to view a home that we could see ourselves in for the next few years.  The Raltor will keep us updated on any Brunswick properties that come onto the market and fit our budget, plus go over what’s available in South Portland and Westbrook and e-mail us with some listings.  From there, Nissa and I will plan another trip to visit some potential purchases.

The Road Home

Posted by Jim on Feb 27th, 2008
Feb 27

Nissa and I have been discussing buying a home for a long time. We’re now going ahead and hope to have a place of our own by the summer. In the first two weeks of February we attended a first-time home buyers course offered through hoMEworks. This past Saturday we met with a representative from my credit union, who referred us to a local mortgage company that they arrange their home loans though. We have an appointment with the lender on Friday morning. Since it is wise to shop around for the best deal (which isn’t necessarily the lowest interest rate), we also have an appointment with a lender from Nissa’s credit union on Saturday morning. We are hoping to get a loan that will cover the kind of house we can both be happy with. Each of us has good credit, but also a bit of debt in the form of auto and student loans. I think we are being reasonable with our home buying expectations. We certainly aren’t going to look for who will loan us the most money and then buy as much as we possibly can. We’ve determined how much money we’d like to spend each month on the house (the mortgage, home insurance, heat and taxes) and we’ll find a home that fits that budget. I’m quite confident that the amount we will qualify for will more than cover the amount we are willing to spend on a house.

Being a first time home buyer isn’t easy, but luckily there is a lot of great information out there. The home buyers course I linked to above offered a wealth of information, as well as some contacts in the banking/real estate/title law fields. The Maine State Housing Authority page has a lot of information for first time home buyers as well. I’ve begun to read the Get Rich Slowly blog for economic advice that goes beyond the home buying process. There is also good advice available the The Motley Fool. Lastly, we’ve had some fun looking at what homes are available through Realtor.com and Zillow.com.

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