Tag Archives: old rasputin

Beer Nog, Holiday Message, and Good Tidings

01-nipponbeer

Well, it’s that time of year again, where a bearded fat man, in celebration of Jesus, breaks in to your house in the middle of the night, eats your food, and leaves a few things before moving on to the next house. For others who don’t recognize this bizarre annual disturbance, it is also the holidays and a good bit of time off work.

There are many ways (and reasons) to enjoy beer over the holidays and the variety is, as it has always been, limitless (though in the cold winter months I’ve noticed many folks tend to go with the dark and/or boozy beers like Imperial Stouts, Belgian Tripels, or Dark IPAs). While of course nothing quite beats enjoying them in a glass on their own to either wrap up a day of gift wrapping or in an attempt to shut out the family arguments, there is a way to combine your beer with the OTHER favourite drink of the holidays. I refer, of course, to the ‘Nog.

Yep, you can indeed mix eggnog with your beer, though picking the right beer isn’t as easy as it sounds. It can’t be too bitter or too dry, so something creamy and a touch on the sweet side would do marvelously. Beers I would suggest to use are Mill Street‘s Vanilla Porter, New Holland Dragon’s Milk Bourbon Barrel Stout, or North Coast Old Rasputin Imperial Stout. Though thinking on it, a nice coffee stout might also go pretty wonderfully. If any of you folks have other suggestions, please please PLEASE put them in the comments.

Now that a beer is picked you have two ways of going about it. You can either do a mix with store bought eggnog or you can make your own. If you’re going with the first method, I’d suggest 3 parts of nog to about 2 parts of beer. Possibly throw in a bit of milk and nutmeg/cinnamon.

For the make-it-your-own method, the author of The Craft of Stone Brewing Co. and The Sriracha Cookbook Randy Clemens made a damned good recipe way back in 2009. Here it is…

Beer Nog Recipe

6 eggs*, separated
1/2 c sugar, plus 2 Tbsp
2 1/2 c whole milk
1 1/2 c heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
10 fl oz of beer (Clemens suggests Port Brewing Old Viscosity or other dark, strong ale)
2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

Whisk 6 egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer for several minutes, until the yolks lighten in color and double in volume. Lower speed of mixer and add milk, cream, vanilla, beer, and nutmeg, stirring until combined. Reserve yolk mixture. Wash mixer bowl and whisk attachment thoroughly (any traces of dairy or egg yolk left on equipment will keep the egg whites from whipping properly).

Whisk 6 egg whites in cleaned stand mixer on high. Gradually add in remaining 2 Tbsp sugar and continue whisking until stiff peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into yolk mixture. Chill and serve, topping each glass with additional grated nutmeg if desired. Serves 8.

And with that, I just wanted to say Happy Holidays from me and mine to you and yours. I’ll go in to a bit more detail on my new year’s post, but 2014 was a hell of a year for this little site and its humble but pretty tall author and none of it would have happened without viewers like you. Thanks for reading, thanks for talking, and I hope your holidays, however you spend them, are as relaxing as they can be.

 

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Filed under Cooking With Beer, seasonal, Site Business

4 Comics, 4 Beers

Hey folks. I know it’s been a while since I’ve made a post on here, but to say “stuff came up” would be a HUGE understatement. If any of you were concerned, thank you. But I’m back now and have a few posts lined up. Let’s get started with this one.

COMICS! I love reading them. Most of you out there probably love reading them. I’ve been thinking of shaking a bit of my creative pairing muscles lately by doing one of these comic/beer pairings and not go so obvious like “Captain America would drink a Bud” or “Wolverine would drink a Molson Canadian” that a lot of similar posts on other blogs have done (Wolverine strikes me as an O’Keefe’s man anyways). In the case of this post I have reached out to creators and publishers (success varied) and pulled several nerd muscles in order to bring you four comics with a beer pairing that would I would not only suggest the to the character, but also the reader. Enjoy.

#1: THE GHOSTBUSTERS

So, as some readers here know, I’m a bit of a Ghostbusters fan. Okay, I’m a huge one. I love the films and was raised on the animated series. And after a while of being unimpressed with IDW’s previous runs with the title which had creators who just didn’t quite pinpoint the dynamic of our four guys, they brought in writer Erik Burnham and artist Dan Schoening in and I really suggest any Ghostbusters lovers check it out. Well-written, well researched and includes plenty of little easter eggs throughout that only the diehard fan will get.

So what beer would I pair with these guys? Easy. Brooklyn Lager by Brooklyn Brewery. It’s local, the malty finish and not-too-imposing hops notes make it incredibly refreshing after a rough day. Plus the Brooklyn Brewry itself, located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn has some history. Once an Iron Works and later a Matzo Ball factory, it’s not unlikely that our boys would have to catch a ghost prowling around the building and, in gratitude, they would get a regular supply of cases. Sadly, creator Dan Akroyd is impossible to get a hold of to see if he would agree and Erik Burnham, current writer of the series, has yet to try the beer (but promises to in a couple of weeks when he’s at a convention)!

#2: WORMWOOD: GENTLEMAN CORPSE

From those that bust the dead to the dead themselves, Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse is the brainchild of squid-obsessed artist Ben Templesmith and is about a corpse posessed by a worm from Hell who has been around since the beginning of time and has a penchant for drinking and chain smoking saving the universe with the help of his bodyguard and robotic drinking buddy. With crossdressing leprechauns, a secret order of strippers protecting the gateway to our world, squid-gods and an easily distracted four horseman of teh apocalypse, it’s not hard to understand why this is one of the most entertaining reads out there. If you can find the trades I would definitely suggest picking them up.  In fact, the first two issues are free on ComiXology right now. Go.

As for the beer pairing, I initially thought that he drank stout and actually reached out to Ben Templesmith for this one and he responded.

” He can’t drink stout, legally, apparently, according to what someone at IDW told me once years ago but fuck it, he DRINKS GUINNESS. Who can resist it?”

Indeed, who can? And while I’m certainly not going to argue with the pairing SUGGESTED BY THE CREATOR, I will humbly suggest that Old Rasputin Imperial Stout by North Coast Brewing would make a good companion with the book (afterall, Wormy and ‘ol Grigori probably used to be old mates and all).

#3: JOHN CONSTANTINE

Former Liverpool punk rocker magician and now chain smoking, alcoholic loner con man magician/detective living in London. Created by Alan Moore and first appearing in the Swamp Thing comic series in 1985, Constantine went on to his own title, “Hellblazer”, in 1988 and is DC Vertigo’s longest running title (and he also seems to be in the actual DC Universe now since the “New 52” Reboot. John Constantine is a man who knows everybody. Nuns, priests, demons, angels, politicians, gangsters, and is charismatic and rarely lacking in anticipating his next move. He’s also selfish, cynical and due to his actions has had almost everyone he cares about die. He’s conned the devil in to saving his life, hacked the wings off an angel and has been declared the most powerful magician in the world, but he still heads down to the pub for a few pints.

As for a pairing, I know that our John likes a good IPA and I have a feeling that he’d crack a smile on learning about Punk IPA by UK brewery Brew Dog. Nice hop profile with a balanced sweetness and pine flavour. Not too crazy, so it’s good to sip or knock back at a regular pace while thinking of other things (saving the world, a friend’s untimely death, wondering if that bastard angel Machiel will ever give you that fiver he owes you etc.). For John it’s a good beer to drink with the name of the beer maybe having him drift off in to a few memories of the old days, but for the reader it’s just a great pairing with the books.

#4 JUDGE DREDD

Somewhat of a timely choice to include Dredd as the film, Dredd 3-D has been released in a few countries and will soon be released here on Friday (I’m really looking forward to it!). IGNORE THE 1995 STALLONE FILM FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.

Judge Dredd is a comic that has been running since 1977 and starts off in the year 2099 and since time passes in the comic in real time, comics put out in 2012 make the time date 2134. It’s set in a world where nuclear war has destroyed most of North America leaving only three huge city-state “mega-cities” the only habitable places. As this map of the world shows, the rest of the world is in similar a situation. The comic mostly takes place in Mega-City One, which stretches from Boston to Washington DC. It has a population of 800 million. Unemployment is high due to the population and many people live in large buildings known as “blocks” that house about 50,000 people each. The only government and law enforcement are the Judges, which keep the peace and run the city. Overseen by the Chief Judge, the Judges are administrators and “street Judges”, who make arrests and give on-the-spot sentancing (usually a very lengthy stay in an iso-cube, a solitary room). Within this city is Judge Joe Dredd, originally a clone from the first Chief Judge, Dredd is the toughest, meanest and best Street Judge the offer has. In the comics I’ve already read (The mammoth Complete Case File books 1-5 which cover comics from 1977 to 1982) he has saved the city from being destroyed more than twice, taken down to warmonger leaders and has been at the center of more than a few resistance forces. The stories in this comic can be grim, funny, satirical and just pretty to watch.

The two things I love about Judge Dredd are this: Many, MANY talented writers and artists have done at least one Dredd comic and it’s wonderful getting other artist’s take on the character. Also, this is one of the few Dystopian future worlds where the oppressive police/government force are actually the heroes. A nice little change from the usual “small group of freedom fighters” thing.

Time to admit something. Yeah, I know it’s a comic, but I can’t in good conscience give a beer that I think Dredd will enjoy or something that could be consumed in Mega-City One. The two big reasons, as confirmed by a rep from Dredd publishers 2000AD, are that Mega-City One only has synthetic alcoholic drinks, which if it’s anything like modern developments in that field where it is an additive, may not taste too great. The other reason is that quite simply Judges are not allowed to drink. So the best beer pairing I can offer you the reader would be Liberty Ale by Anchor Brewing Co. I think the name of the beer matches a bit of the humour found in the comics and the taste matches the hard bitterness of Dredd himself with a nice malt backbone to make it simple. Would definitely make an excellent reading companion.

And there we go. Hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I did writing it. I also hope that I may have turned you on to one or all of these comics. 🙂

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Lock it in the Basement: Aging Beers

Aging: It’s not just for wines, whiskeys and people who aren’t me.

So I’ve decided to take the next step in my beer appreciation learnings and start doing what I’ve wanted to do ever since I tried some beer that had undergone this process. I’m going to start aging beer. I think my first instance in trying some aged beer was at Dogfish Head’s brewpub, where I had a World Wide Stout that had been aged for one year and…dear LORD, it was amazing. Ever since then I’ve been thinking about it. Last week, when Amsterdam Brewery released Tempest Imperial Stout (a delicious one-off originally brewed last year) I decided to buy a few to be the first test subjects in my beer cellar. Lucky thing I got them too, as all 1400 bottles produced sold out within two days. Also, thank heavens, I was able to get the last Muskoka “Winter Beard” Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout from Muskoka Brewery’s retail store.

But how the hell do I get to aging these things? Well, I’m still reading on the subject, but here’s what I’ve learned so far…

–       The beers have to be stored at a cool 10-20°c in a dark, semi-dry room. A basement, garage or cave will do in a pinch. A closet for apartment dwellers also works.

–       The beers have to be bottle-conditioned, which is to say that there are active yeasts in the bottles allowing the beer to further ferment.

–       Beers heavy in malts like Stouts, Porters, Barley Wines and Belgian Ales are best for aging for long periods of time. This makes sense, since the more malts (sugars) the more of a meal the yeasts have which will allow them to do their thing (eat sugar, poop alcohol).

–       Hoppy beers aren’t that great for aging over long periods of time, as the hops break down after a while and create a kind of skunky, dreadful drink.

–       The higher the alcohol content, the more benefits the beer will have to being aged. The agreed upon rule seems to be “8% ABV or higher”, although many Beglian beers with low ABV percentages have also benefited greatly from aging.

–       If the beer contains Brettanomyces, a Belgian yeast that is usually added near bottling time, you’re able to age it. This yeast does a lot in a few months or years (see Goose Island’s Matilda, which can be aged for five years). Having this yeast isn’t needed, this is just a “if you see a beer with this in it, go for it” kind of tip.

–       While there is some argument on this, it is advised to always store the beer in the upright position rather than on its side. The debate is mainly over how to store beer that has been corked, as laying it on the side will prevent the cork from drying out. Although a way around THAT can be to dip the top of the bottle with wax. You know what, I’ll just leave it to one’s discretion.

The advantage of aging beers? Well, there are certain strong flavours in beers that mellow out over time and bring a rise to flavours you may not have noticed before. In Imperial Stouts, for instance, the alcohol bite goes down along with the heavy coffee overtones and presents a sweeter, almost creamier beer. So it highlights complexities to a beer that you didn’t know were there. That’s a good enough reason for me, at any rate.

Beers can be aged for years and years too. I’ve heard plenty of stories of people opening a bottle of Chimay from 1986  and even a beer that was discovered to have been stored since 1869! Madness? Probably. Worth it? Most definitely.

You can also age beer in things like Oak whiskey barrels to add a wonderful flavour and depth to the beers, but since I’m not Mme. Moneybucks McGee (Of the Southampton McGees), I’m going to discuss bottle aging for now.

Right, so now on to my little project.

It was easy to pick the location (the basement of my cottage in Muskoka). It’s dark, it’s cold and it’s dry, but not dry enough to give me a nosebleed or chapped lips. It also has shelf space, so if a flood happens down there (Give me a break, it IS a cottage. It happens) then I have no fear of water touching my precious bottles. I also have something covering it, so no burglers will sneak in to the house in the middle of the night and find it.

It’s important to label what year your beers are from (see above picture) so you’ll remember. And don’t think you will, because unless you’re some kind of savant or only aging one beer you’ll have at least a bit of difficulty remembering. Just do it that way. To add a fun bit of nostalgia to it, I may also write down a few details of how my life is currently going, so I can look back on it. But hey, do what you want.

So now it’s set up in complete, cold darkness and is FAR AWAY from me. I’ll admit, one of my biggest concerns is the will power it takes to just WAIT. Because now I have some fantastic beers in that room and what’s the harm in just having one? See, this is why I chose the cottage. I go up there about 4-5 times a year now, so the chance of me getting to it is pretty minimal. My other biggest concern is how the room will be in the winter time. If it ends up being too cold, I may have to move them. But I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it, eh?

So here’s the score with the beers I have on your right. I have three bottles of this year’s Tempest Imperial Stout, which according to the brewer, can be aged for up to three years. One will be aged for one year, another for two and the final for a third year. The Tempest wrapped in a white top has already been aged for a year and a half (came with a six pack of the beer as a gift) and will be brewed for an additional year and a half. If more Temptests come out every year, I’ll be buying some to age. The Muskoka Winter Beard will be aged for a year. There is also a plan to age some Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, Goose Island Matilda and Dogfish Head World Wide Stout. We’ll see how those go. Regardless I am going to try to have at least three beers in there at any given time for several years.

And that’s that. If any of you readers have suggestions for beers to age, I’d sure appreciate it! If I can get a hold of it, I’ll try!

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