Friday, November 30, 2007

Downtown Beer Tasting

The Downtown Bar & Grill, a neighborhood bar that I often visit and have posted about before, held a beer tasting featuring Dogfish Head brews. They had nine of them available and I had already tried four of them before. They are generally good and of the ones that I have had the Raison D'Etre was the strangest. I first had it at Crossroads, formerly the Raccoon Lodge and I described it as being a bit funky and tasting of raisins, not surprisingly.

Featuring Dogfish Head

I started off with a Midas Touch, a nice golden colored brew that had a firm white head. It was extremely smooth and almost tasted like a Chardonnay with a bit of mead mixed in. You could pick up a bit of honey in the nose and if you didn't know it was a beer you would think you were sniffing a glass of wine. It is quite viscous, also more like a wine than a beer. It had an alcohol content of 9% and went down very smooth. Not a bad beer at all and if it wasn't a tasting I would have had another.

The gimmick on this one is that the recipe is supposedly based on the residue in drinking vessels found in King Midas's tomb. The ingredients include white Muscat grapes, honey, and saffron. Despite the gimmick, it is a very pleasing beer and would pair well with anything you might drink a white wine with. I bet it would be great with a nice Brie.

Bar Man And The Midas Touch

Dogfish Head has no end of gimmicks and the next beer, Pangaea, was no exception. Pangaea, as some of you may know, was a super-continent that existed about 225 million years ago. In fact, all of the current continents were part of it. Pangaea is a Greek word meaning "all lands." So, what is the gimmick? This beer uses one ingredient from every continent including crystallized ginger from Australia, blue rice from Asia, Belgian yeast from Europe, etc.

It had a nose with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg and a bit of earthiness (no pun intended). The first hit on the tongue is sweet but you quickly get hit with a hoppy bitterness. It was a relatively mild 7% alcohol. Not bad, but not one I would go out of my way to order again.

I moved on to a Golden Era AKA Shower. I am not sure if that connotation sells much beer. Well, maybe in some bars. Of course with that in mind I couldn't help but notice that it did look a bit like urine. Not much of a nose, thankfully, but a big woof of hops with the first swallow, and the hops cling. a dry finish that makes you want to take the next swallow. Not bad, but nothing special. This one was back up to 9%.

A Glass Of Golden Era

I finished up with the 120 Minute. Now this is the one to finish up with. A rousing 21% alcohol, so it is not for the faint hearted. A couple of guys next to me were drinking the WW Stout a mere 18% alcohol. I passed on that one and sneeringly referred to them as girly-men.

This wasn't anything like I expected it to be. Often times the exceedingly strong beers contain so much alcohol that it overpowers everything else. Not this one though. A nice amber color with a decent head. It was sweet and very flavorful. You picked up a hint of raisins in the nose along with caramel. Coffee came through as well. This would be a good substitute for a port at the end of a meal and would pair well with a stinky cheese.

Bar Man And Dogfish Head 120 Minute

The place had quite a crowd and I will have to say that the bartender, Matt, seems to know almost everyone by name. And everyone seems to know him. I have mentioned him before, a good guy who knows his beers. I only had one complaint. The beers were served in wine glasses, far smaller than a pint and the prices ranged from $7.50 to $9.00. This seemed a bit high because at least some of these beers are routinely available at $5.00 to $6.00 a pint elsewhere. I did get a buyback though, so no real complaints.

I will definitely be on the lookout for the Midas Touch and 120 Minute so I can try them again, perhaps with cheese.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Happy Hour Mobile - Another View

If you would like to check out Mark's take on our mini bar trek through my neighborhood, click on the picture below and check out The Bars section of their blog. It was reassuring to see that we agreed on most of the details of his sojourn in Brooklyn. Hell, we even agree on our lack of details, like the name of the last bar we visited.

  • Tuesday, November 27, 2007

    Mobile Happy Hour - Part Deux

    I know I am a bit late in getting this posted but what with Thanksgiving and the new release of Everquest I have been quite busy lately. I do apologize for the delay though.

    I met up with Mark at the logical starting point for most of my little excursions, and that was, of course, Pete's Waterfront Ale House. I got there a bit before Mark, but then I just had to walk a few blocks and he was coming in from Queens. While I was waiting those interminable five minutes for him to show, I decided to have a beer. As usual, they had a nice selection to choose from.

    Pete's Daily Specials

    A mighty fine selection, as usual. I decided to try a new Brooklyn Brewery offering that I hadn't seen before, Brooklyn Bright Golding.

    Bright And Golden, As Advertised

    This is an English Strong Ale that comes in at a comfortable 7.5% alcohol. It does have a bright golden color to it and a creamy white head. It had a nice crispness with hints of citrus, mostly lemon. Also a hint of floral hops to it, but not over-powering by any stretch. Of course my taste buds are somewhat desensitized to hops due to all of the over-hopped IPAs I have been drinking lately. I thought it was a very drinkable alternative to either an IPA or a lager. It seemed to fall somewhere the two and would be great sitting on a beach or in a boat on a summer's day. The alcohol is noticeable, but in a good way. A very dangerous beer. I wonder if they sell it in six-packs.

    Mark wasn't too late and he quickly joined me in a beer. I suggested that he have the Brooklyn Bright Golding as well and I switched over to Blue Point Sour Cherry Stout after the bartender, Gerry, poured me a taste.

    Gerry, The Bartender

    Mark, Bar Man, And Beers

    I guess it would be no surprise if I told you this stout had both chocolate and sour cherry tones to it. You also pick up the aroma of both in a very pleasant combination. There is also some very nice maltiness. It pours dark, almost black, but with a pretty white head. This runs at a healthy 9.2% alcohol but it is so flavorful that you don't notice the alcohol at first. However, at the end of your swallow you do feel a nice warmness in your tummy. Now this is an excellent winter beer. Would be nice to drink in front of a warm fire after you just came back from using the outhouse.

    Mark said he enjoyed his beer and we decided to finish up our stay at Pete's with an Ephemere (Apple). This little number is brewed by Unibroue in Quebec, Canada. It had a nice apple nose, but the flavor didn't quite live up to it. This seemed to be a bit of a cross between a cider and a beer. Not exactly sure what they were trying for here. It looked a bit like a cider, but with only slightly more of a head that didn't stick around long. It was a decent 5.5% alcohol, but it really didn't do anything for me. If I want a cider I will order one and if I want a beer I will order one. I don't think I would pour both into the same glass though. Oh well, win some and lose some.

    Mark wanted me to show him a few bars in the neighborhood and I knew if we didn't head out soon we would end up settling in. One of the must see bars in my neighborhood is Montero, of which I have written about before, and more than once.

    Sitting in the, in her usual place and keeping up with the events of the day, was my favorite gal, Pilar.


    Of course I had to go over and give her a big hug. She always seems so happy to see me, although for the life of me I don't know why. I really should stop in here more often.

    Bar Man and Pilar

    I guess one reason I don't stop in here too often is because it is pretty much a beer and a shot place. Not that there is anything wrong with that, not by any means. It is just that I kind of like to try out different beers most of the time and this isn't the place for that. There is a pretty convivial crowd in here, when there is a crowd. Otherwise you can just chat with Pilar and, if you are lucky Jackie.

    Jackie, The Bartender

    Mark and I had a couple of shots of Maker's Mark and a Budweiser. Mark was wondering what might be the worst hard liquor you might be able to buy in a bar and the consensus among those at the bar was generally the house gin. We didn't check it out for ourselves though.

    Mark and Bar Man and Beers and Shots

    We spent a bit of time here looking at all of the stuff hanging from the ceiling and hanging on the walls. It really is worth coming in here just for that. This isn't like a TGIFridays where they order the decor from a warehouse, this stuff is all for real. And if you see something interesting, ask about it. Pilar, or someone, will be more than happy to tell you the story behind it. And some of the stories are interesting indeed.

    Our next stop was Last Exit. This bar, you may remember, occupies the space where Pete's Waterfront Ale House used to be. This is another one that I don't get into very often, but it is pleasant enough with a most eclectic interior. A lot of the local artists hang there work here and, well, local artists are often not very famous for a reason. I shouldn't be too harsh, it just wasn't anything here that I would want hanging in my place. The pictures did add a bit of color to a nice little back sitting area though.

    Bright Back Room

    For some reason it seemed appropriate to have a Maker's Mark Manhattan with a Bass Ale chaser in here. I guess Last Exit has a bit of a cocktail feel to it. Mark and I were in kind of early though so we were the only two there.

    Bar Man In Brooklyn With Manhattan

    Mark and I had a most enjoyable afternoon and I am going to try to get him back for an evening one day soon. A few of the bars nearby like Floyd and Magnetic Field don't open until later and are well worth visiting. So many bars, so little time.

    Speaking of so many bars, Mark and I decided to stop for one last beer on his way back to the subway and I am going out on a limb here saying it was O'Keefe's. But, to be honest, neither Mark nor I could really remember. Now you know we had a great day.

    The Mysterious Last Beer

    If whoever took this picture remembers where we were, please let me know.