Tag Archives: delirium tremens

My First Beer Pairing Dinner

So March 25th marked a really interesting moment in my beer learning adventures. For the first time in my life I attended a beer pairing dinner.

The dinner, put on by Mirella Amato’s Barley’s Angels, a group dedicated to educating women about the wonderful world of beer and hosted by Guy McClelland of McClelland Premium Imports and “Beer Knight”. The venue was at one of my local places, the Town Crier, which has an AMAZING selection of European beers on tap. Plus I’ve been bugging the owner to get involved with Toronto’s beer geeks, so it was great to see the place involved.

On top of it being my first pairing dinner, it was also my first time going to a meet of the famous Barley’s Angels. It was so great to meet women of all different backgrounds coming together to learn something about a fabulous beverage.

So expectations were pretty high. Mirella is a giant in the Toronto beer scene and Guy has been responsible for bringing some top class Belgian and German beers to this godforsaken province.

So beer/food dishes included…

1. Beet salad with orange goat cheese & Belgian endives with Fruli and Radler dressing with Fruli beer (An interesting, refreshing and sweet start to a meal)

2. Smoked German sausage wrapped in Falian ham with braised green onion & German mustard with Erdinger Dunkel (Dear LORD, what a wonderful dish that was. Went well with the Dunkel, too!)

3. Belgian poutine with miso gravy and cheese curds with Delirium Tremens (The gravy was a bit watery and some of us found that pairing it with Palm Ale proved a better match)

4. Beer braised beef short ribs with Affligem Abbey Ale (This dish just melted in my mouth. And the pairing with the Affligem made for a wonderful experience. I STILL have dreams about this course)

And on top of that we had in-between beers such as Stiegl-Radler (Beer with grapefruit juice!), Stiegl Lager (refreshing!)  Erdinger Weiss (nice crisp taste) and Palm Ale (sweet with a nice bitter finish). And all of this went with an educational talk by Guy McClelland where we learned about “The Perfect Pour”, the importance of drinking your beer from a glass (and the right glass at that) and the effects of light on clear bottles (The beer goes skunky and foul after 30 seconds in the sun). Also learning about the sales statistics in Canada and getting a better idea of craft beer’s emerging role was incredibly useful information.

So what did I think of the experience? Well, I definitely had a good time and learned quite a bit more about beers in Germany, Belgium and their influence in Canada. While I must admit that I would have liked to have learned more about the art of pairing beer with food rather than just the beer, I still learned quite a lot and got some experience with my taste buds that I’ll be storing away for future consideration.

And I really have to give credit to Guy and Mirella for being amazing hosts at the event. It was great to meet them both. Guy clearly knew his stuff and had a great passion for it and Mirella was a pleasure to talk with.

I was really pleased with this night. I felt it lived up to my expectations and didn’t let me down.  I definitely would not say no to another oppurtunity to go to one again because if anything you’re learning more about how complex and wonderful beer is and turning the experience of drinking a beer in to the experience of having it be a part of a perfect meal. It’s a good thing to learn.

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CURRENTLY DRINKING: Three Beligian Beers

So Three Belgians walk in to a bar…

Found myself on a weekend having an all-Belgian cast and thought I’d write about these darlings.

Two I’ve had before, Delirium Tremens and Westmalle Tripel. The third though, Palm, has always been under my radar a bit. I’ve seen it around, but haven’t had a chance to pick it up.

Belgian beers hold a really special place in my heart. With the Belgian yeasts that give the beer a wonder fruity aroma and taste along with, in some cases, the Candi Sugar adding a fantastic depth to the taste, some mighty fine beers have been made by the good people of Belgium. It’s safe to say that Belgian-style is one of my top types of beer.

PALM ALE – 5.4%ABV

From Palm Brewery and known as “Belgium’s Amber Beer”. Palm is one of those beers that I’ve seen around the liquor store a lot, but never really got around to picking it up. After some research, it was interesting to know that the brewery had a pretty fun history and that Michael Jackson (no, not that one. This one is THE top beer journalist) had some wonderful praise for it. So I decided to give it a shot.

COLOUR: A nice amber-like honey colour.

AROMA: A bit subtle, but definitely hints of honey with some nice fruity notes.  Kind of an edginess to the aroma that I can’t quite pinpoint.

TASTE:  Kind of syrupy mouthfeel and pretty sweet! Citrus, dried fruit and honey taste make a good appearance and then everything is wrapped rather nicely with a light bitter finish.

VERDICT: I think this is a pretty good introduction beer to the Belgian style. It showcases what the style is capable off without going full hog and intimidating newer drinkers. To be honest, if I was putting on a party (or gathering, or box social) I would consider picking up this beer as the “help yourself” beer.

DELIRIUM TREMENS – 8.5%ABV

From Huyghe Brewery in Belgium. I’ve always been in love with this drink. From the dark humor of its name (Delirium Tremens is a pretty serious form of alcohol withdrawal) to the little pink elephants on their glasses (also going the dark humor route).

COLOUR:  Golden yellow with a beautiful white head. Carbonation works out especially good if had with a snifter glass (which is ADORABLE AND HAS PINK ELEPHANTS).

AROMA: Light citrus notes, cloves. A sliiiiight hint of Bananas and Peaches. Very plesasant.

TASTE: Still light citrus notes, but the sweetness from the sugars and belgian yeasts are kicking in. A nice, almost honey feel to it. Alcohol content is creating a bit of a tang. Pretty refreshing drink.

VERDICT: This beer is one that definitely becomes the star on the patio. Very refreshing. Just don’t have too many.

WESTMALLE TRIPEL – 9.5% ABV

I’ve mentioned this beer before in some detail on my post on Trappist beers, but thought I’d do something of a proper review, since the LCBO decided to stock this wonderful beer. From the Westmalle Brewery located in the Abbey of Westmalle. This beer did indeed make me weep with joy and even my mother, who enjoys just sipping the beers I have was suddenly turned into a convert of the “beer is wonderful and complex” way of thinking.

COLOUR: Cloudy straw yellow colour.

AROMA: Sweet. Lemon, orange and various spices. Very soothing

TASTE: You know, in the Trappist post I mentioned that the taste always left me dumbstruck because I just couldn’t describe it. Light mouthfeel with a LOT going on. Citrus, Bananas, spices, cloves…it’s all just hitting you at once. Working together like a choir. Just wonderful.

VERDICT: Sorry, I have something in my eye…

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And that’s it for now! Stay tuned this week and next since, due to sickness and travel preparations, I have a few backlogged posts on the way.

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The Surprisingly Complex World of Beer Glasses

Yes, more than one glass for beer exists (And I’m not talking about different logos) and more and more I’m noticing pubs actually carry them.  And while they do look nice and pretty, they are varied for a reason.  This post will go over that reason and list off some glasses along with which beer styles go with them.

So to put it as basically as possible, the glasses help bring out the best in your beer.  If you want, think of a glass as a suit or dress that just suits you SO WELL and calls attention to all the right parts, showing no flaws.  That is the job of the glass.

To get in to specifics, similar to wine glasses, different types of beer glasses help compliment different styles.  With the right combination of beer and glass, the aroma, taste and steady carbonation of the beer will be greatly complimented.  So tell that to your wine snob friends next time they laugh about how unsophisticated beer is.

Perfect example.  It was a warm summer day and my mother and I were in a pub.  She wanted something light and crisp, so she ordered a Pilsner Urquell, which was served in a Pilsner Flute Glass (see picture above).  She adored the beer’s crisp flavour, biscuity aroma and to top it off, she was refreshed by the end of it. Fast forward a month later, she’s at home and feels like another Pilsner Urquell, so she gets a can from the liquor store.  We don’t have any flute glasses at home, so she picked a random one, an Abbey Goblet (also above) and in her own words “it smelled and tasted like piss“. So once again, the right glass for your beer will REALLY help bring out it’s best qualities and have you strongly consider a second date, er, tasting.

So where can you get these fancy glasses?  Well, there are plenty of ways.  Ebay is a good bet.  So is contacting the breweries individually or kitchen stores and the like.  And yes, there’s the dishonest way (and as it happens, my late grandfathers preferred way)  of just swiping them from a pub.  But that is dishonest and you should at the very least offer to buy the glass from them.

And now, because knowing is half the battle, I’m going to teach you about some of the more common glasses you’ll find in pubs and what should go with them.  For pictures, see the picture/chart above.  Keep in mind that there are many different styles of the different styles of glasses.  A flute glass can be stemmed or not, for instance, and a particular beer needs a specific one of those and so on.

STEMMED ABBEY GOBLET: These babies are usually for holding dark ‘n heavy Belgian Abbey ales.  Suggested beers: Leffe Brune, Westmalle Tripel, La Trappe Tripel, Chimay Red

SNIFTERS: Not just for rich guys with a passion for Brandy and cigars! Beglian ales, Barley wines and Imperial IPAs are great for this glass and really brings out the aroma. Suggested beers: admittedly, Delirium Tremens is the only beer I’ve had with this glass.  But damn, it’s lovely.

FLUTE GLASSES: For Pilsners, Lambics and fruit beers.  And dear lord, they make the brew look refreshing and beautiful.  Suggested beers: Pilsner Urquell, Budvar (Or Czechvar in other places), Fruli

PINT GLASSES: The classics.  We love ’em.  Nothing screams “traditional pub drink” than a nice pint glass.  This usually takes in the mainstream stuff as well as stouts, porters and bitters!  Suggested beers: Fullers London Porter, Hobgoblin Ale, Guinness, Arrogant Bastard

TANKARDS: For when you want to quench your thirst after a bloody battle.  Suggested beers: WHATEVER YOU WANT, YOU’RE A VIKING RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH. Seriously though, see above in the pint glass bit.  I find those go really well with a nice Pewter Tankard that’s been left in the freezer for a bit.

And that’s all on glasses from me at the moment.  Hope it was enlightening! And now you know what glass to expect for which type of beer!

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CURRENTLY LATHERING – Taking A Look At Beer Soap

No, that’s not a typo and NO, THIS ISN’T GOING TO HEAD IN THE DIRECTION YOU’RE THINKING.  Well, unless you read the second half of the title and that direction is towards Beer Soap.

But yes, Beer Soap.  It’s a real thing.  I guess I’ve always known that it existed, but never really saw any examples of it until about a month ago when Brooklyn Brewery announced the sale of a three soap set, with each soap being made with lager, brown ale or black chocolate stout. I couldn’t hit “order” fast enough, but when the cost of shipping exceeded the cost of the actual product ($10 for the soap, $15 for shipping) I decided to close that order window and wait for when I actually head down to Brooklyn in June.  But I had the bug.  I HAD to try a beer soap.  So, on the advice of a friend I searched Etsy and it was there that I found the good people at The Beer Soap Co. from Miami, Florida (Their non-etsy site is here) and…wow.  Not only did they offer beer soaps for significantly lower prices, but the amount of beers they turned in to soaps was staggering.  It was kind of a shame that this wasn’t a real store otherwise I would be dancing in it.

After going through only a portion of the intimidating selection, I settled on a soap made from Delirium Tremens.  Partly because it’s one of my favorite beers and I’m a slave to the little pink elephants, but also because I enjoy the aroma of it and wondered what it would be like as a soap.  A few clicks and a 2-3 week wait later, and I had a very nice-smelling package waiting for me in the mailbox.

Now before I get in to a review of it, let me get this out of the way: You aren’t going to smell like you just poured beer on yourself.  If that were the case it would be far cheaper to just pour the contents of a bottle all over you and you’d probably get the exact same looks of judgement and pity.  While the soap is made with beer, the people at The Beer Soap Co. have added essential oil blends to ensure that you can use this and still be taken seriously at a job interview.

Right, onwards to the review.

COLOUR – Skin coloured with dark flecks all over.  There’s an inner circle that is slightly darker than the the outer circle (see picture to get what I mean).

AROMA – Mmmmmm…Eucalyptus is the strongest scent here! With the smell of Oak hitting next and lingering the most.  The product description says Birch and Tobacco are also in this, but my nose isn’t refined enough to sense it, I guess.  And of course, there is the slightest hint of the beer itself, which brings a nice, subtle fruity finish. Also, the coconut oil that’s in this can barely be noticed, but it’s there.

BATHING –  Once water hit the soap the overpowering smell immediately went down.  Lathering took a while, but was okay.  In all honesty if you use a loofah, put it away and just use the bar as it’s less of a hassle.  Very creamy texture to it which is owed to the Shea and Cocoa Butters in it.

SHAVING – It just so happened that the arrival of this soap landed on Leg Shaving Day. So, for research and a passion to inform the uninformed, I shaved my legs using the soap.  One sentence review, the creamy texture to the soap made for a great substance and shaving was flawless and left the legs nice and smooth. (Quit snickering, you men.  This is SERIOUS BUSINESS)

VERDICT – The saving grace for this soap is how smooth it leaves the skin feeling.  My skin is usually extremely dry and I may well just hold back on the moisturizer.  Other than that…if you’ve had homemade soaps with oil blends before, you aren’t missing too much with this one, although it’s subtlety in scent can be admired.  From a personal note it’s nice that I’m not reeking of the scents that make this soap, which is a problem I’ve had with friends who go a little too “I want to put ALL THE SANDALWOOD in this!” with the soaps they have made and given to me.  I should say that it is now, post-shower, where the scent of the beer is starting to come out a bit more. And that is lovely.

To be honest, I have a feeling that if it weren’t for the novelty of using beers to make the soap, I’d have given these a miss. But as it stands they DO use beers to make this and I’ll most likely be ordering more to compare and give in to the family addiction of collecting things that I have fought for so long.  It’s a fun idea, fairly cheap and a pretty good soap, so why not? At the very least it’s worth buying one to satisfy your curiosity.

Hell, this soap came with a sample that is made with Brooklyn Red Lager called “The Hipster“.  While I’m not part of the thick-rimmed glasses and jeggings crowd, I am interested to try it out in the future.

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