Archive for category Food

Beer Review: Ska Brewing Co.’s True Blonde Ale

 

Craft beer in a can

 

This offering from Durango, Colorado’s Ska Brewing Company had been catching my eye for a while.  Why wouldn’t it?  Ska is one of a growing number of microbreweries that has been putting their craft made beers in a can, and what an interesting looking can it is.

Seen above, the can boasts a bright yellow basecoat.  Checkered-flags and a retro depiction of a sultry blonde’s blue eye are the centerpiece of the artwork.  Still, we all know the old saying about books.

In general blonde ales are brewed with a conservative amount of hoppy bitterness, a higher carbonation count and are often given added flavor and aromatic depth by adding floral notes.  Grainy and malt profiles are often the most notable aspect of these brews.

Scoring

  • Appearance – 4 of 5
  • Smell – 3 of 5
  • Taste – 2.5 of 5
  • Mouthfeel – 4 of 5
  • Drinkability – 2 of 5
  • Overall –  3.1 of 5

 

True Blonde’s appearance is a sparkling copy of both its name, and the blue-eyed spokeswoman featured on its packaging.  Boasting a bright yellow body reminiscent of a sun-drenched wheat field ready for harvest, and a one finger width, off-white head this beer pours a really nice looking-glass. There is also noticeable carbonation that adds a sparkle to the appearance of  this “True Blonde.” The head quickly dissipates and sticks surprisingly well to the side of the glass as it empties.

The aroma of this beer is not quite strong but remains pleasant.  Floral notes and hints of citrus (lemon), are the main attractions of its nose.   Any malt or grain aromas are subdued which disguises their bombardment of the flavor profile of True Blonde.

The flavor is very pleasant upfront, though this may be due to the carbonation and mouthfeel than the taste itself.  True Blonde doesn’t really start registering strongly with the taste buds until the backend and the aftertaste.  Unfortunately, outside of a hint of citrus, when the flavor finally starts to come on strong it is of a very grainy malt.  It’s almost grassy in its flavor, and as the beer warms similarities to malt liquor arise.  Out of all the factors, flavor is the lowest registering aspect of this brew.

True Blonde’s mouthfeel is every bit as delightful as it’s flavor is disappointing.  A high carbonation count, and a nice creamy body really hit the spot upfront. It really is a shame that the taste lags because the texture is close to perfect.  It isn’t sludgy or watery, and it holds form as the beer empties and warms.  A real treat.

The drinkability is hurt by the steadily increasing domination of grainy, grassy flavors in the aftertaste.  I really couldn’t see myself drinking more than one of these in a sitting if there were other beers available.

In the end Ska Brewing Company’s “True Blonde Ale,” is a decent brew that comes in a cool can.  Though not exceptional, it would be a nice, cold brew to put down after mowing the lawn on a hot summer day.  definitely a step up from pounding your garden-variety macro swill, and something that is worth the occasional purchase.  Just make sure you have something else on hand if you plan on having more than one or two.

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Beer Review: Pale Ale from Schlafly Brewing Co.

Schlafly Pale Ale bottle and pint-glass

As a Kansas City, and Boulevard Brewing Co. homer, I had been reluctant in purchasing beers made by the Schlafly Brewing Company of St. Louis.  In fact, during my now three years as a craft beer drinker I had yet to purchase a single one of their products.  Luckily, for me, the lady of the house picked up some of their Pale Ale up by chance the other day at, one of our local liquor stores.

Shclafly’s version of the pale ale is made in the style of the old English Pale Ales rather than its American counterparts like Boulevard’s and Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale offerings.  It uses traditional English hop varieties rather than American.

Scoring

  • Appearance – 4 of 5
  • Smell – 3.5 of 5
  • Taste – 4 of 5
  • Mouthfeel – 3.5 of 5
  • Drinkability – 5 of 5
  • OVERALL – 4 of 5

Its appearance boasts a medium copper/ amber body that becomes more orange when held to a light.  The body color also has a definite haze, which makes it difficult to see through to the other side of the glass. (though on further research pictures found on the web feature glasses poured showing little to no haze at all) It pours with a finger width, off-white head that dissipates quickly and leaves little lacing as the beer recedes down the glass.

The aroma is a fairly even balance of hops and biscuity malt.  Significantly more malty and less hoppy than most American pale ales.  The scent is of a medium strength and there are hints of floral and herb as well, but they are only faint.

The taste, much like the aroma of this beer is a wonderful balance of hop bitterness and malt flavor.  The first thing the drinker should notice is the coating, biscuity flavor of the malt, which is followed shortly after by the faint floral and herbal notes, then again by the hops for a dry, crisp finish and a pleasant alcohol burn.  I personally, really like the taste and mouthfeel on the back of my tongue, as Schlafly’s pale ale delicately works on those bitter-sensitive taste-buds.

The mouthfeel of this beer is very nice.  It is light enough without being watery, and thick enough without being too heavy.  It coats the drinker’s mouth nicely, and could be described as a “fluffy” mouthfeel. Note again the dry finish from before.  Its only flaw would be that if drank slowly too slowly it has a tendency to become a bit watery.  Again, this is not typical and with its drinkability should rarely be a problem.

This brew is also very drinkable, and would be suitable for a session at any time throughout the year.  It is quite easy drinking and when served cold would be perfect for an afternoon of yard work or at the ballpark.  It also has a slight warming effect that translates nicely to a winter session.  As it says on the bottle, “Perfect for those summers days and nights as well as a cozy winter fire. ”

Schlafly Pale Ale would pair nicely with spicier dishes from the Mediterranean, India, and the Americas featuring poultry and fish.

Overall, I think this brew will be a definite mainstay in my beer rotation.  It would also be a great transitional beer for those looking to break away from the typical American macro swill.

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It’s nights like these that make me glad I’m back in school.

If you’ve read the “about nicname” section in my bio you know that I am employed as a line-cook.  If you know anything about being a line cook on a Friday night you know where I’m coming from.

Tonight was  especially busy  at my restaurant.  We were constantly trying to get out of the weeds and the sweat was definitely pouring out of every gland available from the time I clocked in to the time I clocked out.  WE made it though and we made the company around $8,000 tonight.  For my efforts I will take home around $50.  Such is the life of the line-cook, especially one who is only two months on the job.

I wouldn’t say that I am a particularly great line-cook either.  I mean, I get by and I give good effort and have a positive attitude but making a career out of it would probably leave me broke and depressed.  For that reason I find myself quite thankful that I am finally back in school and pursuing my dream career of mega-journalist.

During the last five or so years I have worked in kitchens for about four of them, topping out at around 60 hours a week last year while D took maternity leave after giving birth to our son Max.  During that time it became quite clear to me that I would not live a very fulfilling life if I were ton continue on that path.  So I made a point to get enrolled in school as soon as possible.

Tomorrow is an off day, filled with a wedding and college football, then it is back on the grind and thankfully — well at least in monetary terms — I am starting to get scheduled some more hours in the kitchen.

So to all you line-cooks out there “big ups,” you are true warriors that live a tough grind.

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Hot Dogs: 5 ways to prepare (and enjoy) an American icon

“A hot dog at the ballpark is better than a steak at the Ritz.”

~Humphrey Bogart


Whether they are toted by sweaty stadium vendors up and down the grandstands at sporting events,  being hawked street-side via cart and fresh from a “dirty-water” bath on a New York City street corner, or served around the kitchen table to hungry kids as a quick-and-easy lunch, hot dogs have become synonymous with the American way of life.

And though they may have received, perhaps, an unfair share of negative press in recent years (see: choking hazard, cancer-risk ), and yes, like most products there a lot, and I mean a lot of “hot dogs” there that are pure crap (I’m looking at you Bar-S) made from the cheapest pork, chicken, and turkey by-products that companies are able to scrape off of the floor, there are really few things that are as delicious and affordable — especially with the right toppings — as a quality dog.

A brief history.

Created in Frankfurt, Germany of which the names “frankfurter,” and “frank” cased sausages are claimed to have been created as early as the 15th century.  In the early 1800’s residents of Vienna (Wein), Austria tried to lay their claim to the birth of the famous sausage, christening it the “weinerwurst” and later shortening that to “weiner.” It wasn’t util the mid-to-late 19th century that they made their way across the pond to the United States.

The man who is credited (albeit with some disagreement) with creating the first  real, hot dogs meaning a frank served on a bun was Charles A. Feldman, a butcher from New York who began selling them from a cart on Coney Island in 1867.

 

Some guy sells hot dogs from a cart before colorized pictures.

 

 

The key to a good hot dog is found in the meat. As noted before, cheap multi-meat hot dog impostors are not to be confused with a quality frank.  Many cities, especially in the northeast are home to locally owned producers of fine sausages, but when it comes to quality on a national level the two best options are Hebrew National (Kosher) hot dogs and Nathan’s Famous.  I go with Nathan’s natural-casing hot dogs when available. Hebrew National doesn’t make natural-casings because it isn’t Kosher as the casing is usually made of pork intestines.  I hear that Boar’s Head makes a great frank, but I’ve never had the opportunity to try them.

Nathan's Famous: natural casing hot dogs

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