Ahhh, Sunday. My absolute, hands-down, no-contest favorite day of the week. You can sleep 'til noon, make your first meal of the day a fabulous, mouth-watering brunch of eggs, hashbrowns, biscuits, waffles, and anything else your little heart desires. It's the only day of the week where it's accepted, and even expected to drink during the daytime. When going through an entire bottle (or two) of Champagne is followed by girlish giggles and afternoon naps. When football reigns supreme, and the hearty cheers of people crowded around grills and TV's can be heard for blocks. Ohh, Sunday, if I could write you a poem, I would...
Great Lakes Brewing Co. Edmund Fitzgerald Porter: ABV: 5.8% Well, Cleveland may be having a rough go in football this year, but they are having NO problems making good beer. Great Lakes Brewing Co.'s Christmas Ale was introduced to me last year by sweet Joe (like Sweet Jane, but a fella. Love that Velvet Underground), and with his special glass rimming of cinnamon and sugar with nutmeg in the foam, I became a BIG fan. AND I will be drinking it on an upcoming Christmas adventure! Stay tuned...
I had been wanting to taste the Edmund Fitzgerald as soon as I decided to drink 100 stouts and porters, and was thrilled when I received both the Christmas Ale AND the porter in the mail by the wonderful Judy Kozarec. Thank you, thank you! And I was not disappointed when I cracked open the porter.
Comforting, inviting smoky and roasty aromas greeted my chilly nose, that was JUST above the down comforter on Sunday. (I decided a warm, cozy bed was the perfect place to drink beer). It was like being near a fireplace, with charred wood, and billowy rising smoke from freshly added wood, and roasted almonds. Notes of freshly brewed coffee and bittersweet chocolate rippled through the smooth and balanced palate. As the beer aerated, a fresh hoppy aspect arose, which interestingly, was even more present the next day.
They suggest on their website pairing the Fitzgerald with BBQ ribs, which I think is a brilliant match, and I would add to that any other grilled, smoky foods. Remember guys, match like with like. The nice smoke and roastiness on the nose and palate of this beer make it a natural match with dishes of similar profiles.
I certainly enjoyed every last sip of this beer, and would definitely drink it again. It's an easy-goer, and you could definitely down a few without thinking. Most unfortunately, it is not available in Louisiana, so I will not get to. Booo. If you are able to get ahold of it and like to cook, check out the delicious recipe for Edmund Fitzgerald Porter Scallion Dressing in the Recipes!! tab of my blog. Put that on your BBQ and smoke it!
HISTORY NOTE: The beer is named after the famous freighter, SS Edmund Fitzgerald that suddenly sank on a fateful night in Lake Superior on November 10, 1975. According to data and historical research, the ship battled a massive winter storm with hurricane strength winds in excess of 93 mph and 35 foot waves. Although the captain reported to another ship, "We are holding our own," the ship and its 29 crew members unexpectedly sank without a distress signal, only a few minutes after that last transmission. It's a sad and yet fascinating mystery, which prompted Discovery Channel to launch a full probe. Look it up guys. You'll be glued to your computer screen for a few minutes...
Left Hand Imperial Stout: ABV: 10.2% Oh my. Oh my. Um, I don't know where to start. I'm gonna make some enemies. How about this: every time I took a sip, I did the tongue-stuck-out-jaw-stretch. Do you all know what that is? Think cough medicine. When a taste makes you hack a little and stick your tongue out in a knee-jerk fashion. I'm sorry Left Hand people, I know we will never be friends because of this review, but this beer is just bad. There are no two ways around it. I struggled to drink it, and from a girl who drinks ALOT, and makes her living from her nose and palate, that is saying ALOT.
Let's start at the top, and pause at one of the most important aspects, the initial aroma. In this case, SO much heat from the alcohol, I couldn't smell anything. I'm talking burn the nose hairs heat. And who could wonder with 10.4% ABV? But the point is, that Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, Three Floyds Dark Lord, and Brooklyn Brewery's Chocolate Stout so artfully mastered, is that you SHOULD NOT sense the high alcohol in either the aromas or the palate. It should be complex, smooth, and balanced. Like any high octane, California bomber wine should be as well. It should not burn like moonshine down your gullet. Which it did. I think I still have heartburn from it. When that blew off a little (because it never went away), the nose was an extracted, almost sickening syrupy smell.
And then comes the palate. My first instinct, as I mentioned above: cough syrup. No kidding guys. Like Robitussin. Medicinal cherry and dark currant flavors. I just don't get it. WHY was this beer released with so little of those three crucial tiers of any alcoholic beverage (Everclear, Mad Dog, and Cisco not withstanding): balance, complexity, and smoothness? WHO is drinking this beer?! Maybe it's worlds better on tap or nitro. I dunno. I will apologize again to all those I am offending with this review, but I've gotta be honest, and as you all know, I am not one to mince words. And with that disclaimer, I shall cease with this review. I think the point has been made.
Pacific Beach Ale House Robust Porter: ABV: 5.8% (NOTE: This porter is different from the PB Porter on tap at the Ale House) Pours out a deep, rich mahogany color, with some reddish glints. When I plunge my nose in the Riedel, there are dominate notes of vanilla, caramel oozing out of the glass, with hints of toffee and maple syrup. The palate matches the aromas and the beer finishes with a smooth, sweet finish. This beer would pair well with Honey BBQ Chicken or Ribs, a sweet-glazed ham, or even a vanilla-based dessert. Enjoy!
I first drank this beer on Sunday, but decided to save a little to taste while interviewing Eric over the phone. It's similar to drinking a wine while talking to the winemaker. It raises your level of understanding and appreciation of the process, as well as the idiosyncrasies of the aromas and profiles you might not catch otherwise. I highly recommend, whether you are a wine or beer lover, or like me BOTH, going to as many "Meet the Brewer" or "Meet the Winemaker" tastings as you can and soak up the knowledge they have to give. You will be so glad you did.