Alaskan Brewing Company Amber Alt Style Ale

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Wow! This is one of the best and most drinkable amber ales I have ever tasted. A true session beer for the person that is not afraid of a real ale. It’s not too heavy or sweet. The IBU rate is 18. It has just enough hops to give it a little bitterness on the back of the tongue. It also has a great refreshing mouth feel too. ABV is 5.3.

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Beer Tasting Event

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T and I did the Anheuser-Busch Brewery tour in St. Louis this weekend! It was unbelievable! they have a total brewing capacity of 20 million gallons of beer!

The tasting crew numbered 5. Ages were 43, 44, 45, 46, and 81. This included two females (T and my sister Sue) that I consider pretty well-rounded when it comes to what beers they will drink. The guys were different. My Dad (the 81 year old) is really a light beer drinker. Keith (my brother-in-law) seems to favor sweeter beers and ales and a few stouts. For me, I am a pretty well-rounded (yeah, that way too!) beer drinker with the exception of generally not drinking light beer really at all. I’d rather have half of a regular beer than a whole light beer! I favor more bitter, dark, stout, hopp beers and ales. So, I think the group represented the spectrum of beer drinkers pretty well.

And now, without further ado:

Bud Light Golden Wheat

Type: Lager

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.1%

http://www.budlightgoldenwheat.com/goldenwheat/default.aspx#/home

I will tell you that I am not a fan of light beer at all and usually will refuse to drink it. This one impressed me. I would give it a 6 (a 5 being average) on a 10 scale. It was pretty well-received by the rest of the crew also.

Michelob Marzen

Type: Lager- German-style Marzen/Oktoberfest (fall/winter seasonal)

ABV: 5.1%

http://michelob.com/public/agegate.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2fdefault.aspx&AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1

There is a great story behind this! We were at a grocery store in St. Louis and looking for a good beer to take back to the hotel. Believe it or not an Anheuser-Busch marketing rep happened to be shopping for beer at the same time and he actually bought us a six of this!!

I really liked this one! It had a bit of a citrus/cider tang to it, but just a hint. Not as good as Schlafly’s No. 15 but close.

Rating: 7

Stella Artois

http://www.stellaartois.com/

Type: Lager

ABV: 5%

The tag line for this brew should be: “Don’t worry, be hoppy!” I liked this very much! T kinda liked it but thought it was too hoppy. It is definitely an acquired taste. We had it on draught. In the past, when I had it in the bottle at a local tavern, I thought it was kind of  “skunky” (think Heineken or Beck’s) which I definitely don’t like. One of the A-B employees (on the tour) explained to me that is what happens to a hoppy beer when it sits on the shelf for a while. I think it would go well with brats, pretzels, or nachos (something salty and/or savory) but strictly a draught beer.

Rating: 7.5

Shock Top Belgian White

Type: Unfiltered Belgian-style wheat ale

ABV: 5.2%

http://www.anheuser-busch.com/brandPages/micShockTop.html

This tasted light to me for an ale and somewhat citrusy. I liked it for a white ale. It was a big hit with the crew, although Dad thought it just a little heavy for his taste. It would go well with fresh salads, chicken dishes, and Asian cuisine.

Rating: A solid 8

Stone Mill Pale Ale

Type: Organic Pale Ale

ABV: 5.5%

http://www.anheuser-busch.com/brandPages/micStoneMill.html

This one was definitely different. I really liked it! The group was very favorable to it also.

Would go well with herbed chicken, hors d’oeuvres, mediterranean food and any pasta with a garlic or shallot sauce. It also pairs well with saltier food such as thick-cut potato chips.

Rating: 7.75

Hoegaarden

Type: Belgian white ale

ABV: 4.9%

EVERYBODY really liked this ale! A little citrussy. White and opaque to the eye. Would go well with light dishes.

Rating: 8.5

Wild Blue

Type: Fruit-infused lager

http://www.anheuser-busch.com/brandPages/wildBlue.html

ABV: 8%

The dark-horse that I thought (before tasting) would be a love it or hate it brew was a pretty big hit with all! It was totally not what I expected. It has a purplish color. It really doesn’t taste like a beer at all. It basically tastes like homemade blueberry wine. At 8% ABV this is a powerful brew! Would go well with full-flavored dishes.

Rating: 8

If you have any thoughts on these or any other beer please feel free to express them in the comments section. Thanks, Dean

Connoisseurs’ Corner

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Connoisseurs’ Corner is going to cover many subjects in the future.

First, I will define the term connoisseur: noun. An expert judge in matters of taste.

I am starting it out with a subject that is near and dear to my heart: Coffee.

This is how I make what I consider to be a great cup of coffee:

Cue the mood music:

Total Prep Time: 5-7 minutes once you get used to the routine.

The Equipment

1. A coffee grinder. These range in price from about $20-$60, depending on the bells and whistles you want. I have a Braun that was about $25 and it does me just fine.

2. A french press coffee maker. You can get a good one at Walmart or Target-type stores for about $25.

3. Something to boil water in.

4. Your favorite coffee cup.

The Bean

Beautiful!

First things first. I always buy whole bean coffee. If you buy pre-ground coffee it has lost much of it’s flavor while sitting around a warehouse for weeks.

Your favorite type of coffee will vary according to your personal taste. The only way to find your favorite is through experimentation. My taste runs more to the dark roast, robust, and full-bodied coffees. Currently (because this changes from time to time) my personal favorites are Sumatran and Jamaican Blue Mountain. My favorite commercial coffee roasting companies are  Shaw’s Coffee, Ltd. in St. Louis, MO (http://www.shawscoffee.com/) and Caribou Coffee Co. in Minneapolis, MN (http://www.cariboucoffee.com/). You can’t go wrong with either one. Unless you are lucky enough to be in St. Louis, Shaw’s Coffee is only available to order on-line. Caribou Coffee is more widely available. I know that here in STL it is available at Schnuck’s grocery stores. Check your local grocer for availability.

A note about storage: DO NOT STORE YOUR COFFEE IN THE FREEZER! This will effect the taste. Storing it in the original bag you bought it in on your kitchen counter or in the cupboard should be just fine. If you want to get fancy you can buy an airtight container to store it in. Another thing, only buy enough coffee to last you about a month. More than that will get stale.

The Roast

Coffee ranges from light to very dark roasts. I use lighter roasts for after-dinner type coffees and medium to dark roasts for my everyday breakfast coffee. Now, in my book, there is another kind of roast. I call it “Starbucks Roast”. It is way past the dark side of roasting and all the way into burnt charcoal! It tastes like something that oozed out of the LaBrea Tar-pits! In my humble opinion, this does not a great cup of coffee make. Plus, why pay $4-$5 a cup when you can make your own little cup of java heaven for easily under a buck?!

The Grind

Grinds range from very coarse to very fine. Very coarse is generally for old-school percolators and metal filter auto-drip coffee makers. Medium grind is used for most paper filter auto-drip coffee makers and french presses. A finer grind is good for turkish-style coffee and making espresso.

To achieve a good medium grind for my french press I fill the grinder only up to the rim and grind for about 10 seconds.

I grind my coffee fresh everyday, but grinding enough for a week at a time is just fine for convenience sake.

And now onto making the coffee:

Here’s a video tutorial for your viewing pleasure (no, that’s not me):

Here is a great site to visit that is basically everything you ever wanted to know about coffee but were afraid to ask. http://www.sweetmarias.com/index.php

If you have any thoughts on how to make a great cup of coffee or a particular blend/roast you like please feel free to express them in the comments section. Thanks, Dean