Sunday, November 29, 2009

Trader Joes wine... CHECK

I went on a a hajji to Mecca, I mean Trader Joes and picked up a box full of sub $10 wines. Mostly spanish wines: I do love me a spanish red. I even picked up some good ol' Chuckie Shaw. Full report to follow.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Full Moon [Blue Moon Winter Ale]

Full disclosure: I love me some Belgian Beers. I love me some Witbiers. So it only stands to reason that I love me some Blue Moon. Flavored with coriander and orange peel, I can’t get enough. Sure sure sure, its strong Belgian flavor is toned down to suit our juvenile American palates. But who cares! It’s tasty! I like it.
So today I am reviewing the seasonal brew, Full Moon, formerly known as “Blue Moon Winter Ale.” It is self described as a “winter seasonal ale that blends three varieties of slow roasted malts and multiple hops to deliver exquisite aroma and taste" and that this “Abbey ale is perfect for crisp winter days. This ale is brewed with roasted malts and Dark Belgian sugar for a perfectly balanced taste.” I believe it. Normal Blue Moon is light and superbly drinkable, this is no exception. It is a little bit heavier than Blue Moon, but not uncomfortably so; just enough to give it nice thick mouthfeel, something to hold on to! The addition of the Belgians sugars to the brew gives it a bit more of an authentic Belgian flair: a little reminiscent of Belgian style beers from another Colorado brewery: the aptly named New Belgium Brewery.
In short, if you love Blue Moon, try Full Moon. If you have never had Blue Moon, for god’s sake do something about it. Do it now, I’ll wait. Have you tried it yet? DO IT NOW!

FYI, according to wikipedia(citation needed) some studies suggest the coriander increases the level of intoxication thought to be caused by accelerated entry into the bloodstream. Take that with a grain of salt, BONUS!

Monday, November 9, 2009

11/07/09 Square One Brewery (Aqua Vit & Trippel)

“A toast to Bjorm!”
All of the Vikings in the small row house raised their drinking horns in a salute to their warchief. They had just completed an unusually large raid against a village on the green isles, and their larders were now fat and well stocked. They had even managed to lose not a single axeman, which surely was a sign that Thor was smiling upon them.
“Mighty Ljormskeetjer, we are almost out of mead!” a servant with his head bowed low in respect whispered to the Viking noble hosting the triumphant war party. “I already have sent runners to gather more from the surrounding houses, but I fear that we will run out before they are back.”
That could be a disaster for Ljormskeetjer, as his position in the clan was precarious enough as it were. Running out of mead whilst hosting a victory party would surely leave him in the outs for years. He had to think fast. “Quick, go gather all the herbs in the kitchen and mix them with some rubbing alcohol from the bathroom. Pour it into small cups so that every man gets a measure and I’ll take it from there.” The servant ran off to follow his master’s instructions and Ljormskeetjer was left sweating nervously while he was eyeing the fill level in the decanters on the table drain with every passing toast. He nearly choked on a lambs leg as the last of the reserves ran dry and the rowdy Vikings started banging their horns on the tables demanding more mead. He only started breathing again when his servant returned with a tray of short glasses filled with a clear liquid. Mustering his courage, he stood to address the thirsty crowd.
“Men, instead of another round of mead or mulled wine I have a new treat for you.” He eyed the small glasses and goggled at how little there was for each man. He had to think fast. “Instead of quaffing down mead as if you were swivving a common wench at a feast, this drink is to be savored in small sips.” He brought the concoction close to his nose to smell, and quickly wished he hadn’t. Despite the fact he had the spice rack cleaned out, it still smelled of rubbing alcohol.
“This smells like a drunken baker’s piss!” One of the men yelled. His friends slapped him on the back and banged their axes in agreement. “And there is so little of it! Even most rot gut that people try to pass off as mead are in abundance. This is hardly enough to rinse your mouth with!”
Flustered, he nearly threw himself on his dagger before his servant Ricky piped up. “You do not need great quantities of this drink! In fact it is better to drink small amounts at a time, or it loses its magic!” This quieted the rabble for they knew better than to dabble with potions. “Yes, this tonic has healthful properties that can balance your humors, make a man as strong as an ox, and make him a more virile love. It is made from grain alcohol and flavored with cardamom, dill, caraway, and lemon. Its called… Aqua vit! Meaning water of life! It’ll soon be the regional drink of Scandinavia”
Bjorm looked at the servant with disbelief. “Aqua Vit is latin right? We’re fucking Vikings. We don’t speak latin. And where the hell did you lemons? They don’t grow in Norway. Cardamom’s from asia, and caraway’s hardly easier to find. I suppose dill is at least local. But is this a drink or a goddamn pie? As a regional liquor, this is seriously a fucking joke right? At least give it a proper Viking name, like Thoramine or something. Jesus Christ, you are a goddamn simpleton.” The warchief took a sip of the booze and spit it out all over his roast boar. “This taste awful! Seriously, you just took rubbing alcohol and dropped a shit-ton of herbs into it like a freaking pie. That’s it, I am not in a mood to party anymore. In fact, I am done being a Viking. Let’s start herding sheep or something. God, I hope you’re happy. Jurgenson, stab Ricky for me. Thanks. Now lets go build some plows or some shit like that. I’m done here.

And this is the true story of how Aqua Vit was invented, and how it sucked so much the Vikings became the countries of socialist pansies that is Scandinavia today.


Over the weekend I had the pleasure of eating lunch at Square One Brewery in Layfayette Square in St Louis. It is a local micro-brewery/resteraunt/distillery. Their menu was typical of an American microbrewery; pub foods prepared with high grade ingredients. I had a smoked beef Philly sandwich, and while the smoked beef was excellent and tender it was surely not a Philly. They should really have just called it a smoked brisket sandwich or something a little less misleading. Their pub chips were handmade, mixed russet and sweet potatoes. YUM is an understatement.
I started the meal with their trippel. I must admit that I have a weakness for Belgian beers, and this surely hit the spot. High gravity without being too heavy, nice malty character with less obtrusive hint of hops, the unique Belgian yeast. It was everything a Belgian beer should be. Certainly it gets a hearty seal of approval from me.
Before the meal I decided to yield to my curiosity and I ordered a round of Aqua Vit for the table. Now bear in mind that I am big fan of the exotic flavored liquors, but I found this a bit off-putting. Aqua Vit is a made from a grain neutral spirit and flavored with caraway, cardamom, dill, and lemon. Sort of a gin without the juniper if you will, or ouzo without the anise. If it had a stronger anise flavor, I might have liked it a bit better. As it is, this Scandinavian drink gets a low mark from me. I would much rather spend my precious brain cells on pretty much any other standard liquor. If I had to do exotic, break out the sambuca. They do have other hard liquors that pique my curiosity, a Lemon Cello made from blood oranges, and a gin that is more citrusy than junipery. I will hold out judgment until I get a chance to try it; but seriously folks, make some whiskey dammit.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

11/05/09 Singha Lager Beer

Dear Diary,
Last night I went out for Thai food at one of my favorite restaurants in Columbia, Bangkok Gardens. I remember it from a long time ago when it was just a small one room restaurant with maybe six table in a small storefront off upper 9th street. It has since moved to Cherry and has a two story dining room with a contemporary faux Asian decorating flare. They have expanded their both their entrĂ©e and appetizer menu, but several things have not changed: They still serve water in metal mugs, their Pad Thai is super bitchin’, and they serve their Singha nice and cold.
Singha is a lager beer from Thailand that packs a whopin’ 6% ABV. If you drink a few of these you will surely know it. While not an airy beer by any means, it is not too heavy of a drink. It pairs very nicely with the noodle dishes that seem to make up the lion’s share of Thai food. The flavor almost reminds me of an American adjunct lager, but without the corniness or blandness, and with a slightly more sour flavor. While I wouldn’t drink it after mowing the lawn, I would happily suck down two while eating a spicy peanut noodle dish at the beloved Columbia institution.
On a side note, they now have a spicy fried liver appetizer there. Highly recommended; not too livery, spicy tasty sauce, perfectly wok fried. It is the perfect complement to a round of ice cold Singha!