About a month ago I got made fun of for wearing a sweater and jeans in 80° weather. This is a yearly problem for me come the end of August. I am just itching to get into sweaters, jeans, boots and maybe a jacket. Fall is my favorite season hands down. Our family orchard is in full swing, the trees dripping with fruit ripe for the picking. Maybe being a part of this family means a certain genetic predisposition to love this season but it can’t be helped. Honey crisp, Gala, Elstar, Swiss Gourment, Mollie’s Delicious and McIntosh’s are all jumping off the trees into our hands for enjoyment. The leaves will soon start to turn, mimicking the fruit they bear; some a little green with a flash of scarlet racing across the skin. Today I stopped by the orchard to snag my favorite apples — the more old-fashioned varietals — Elstar and Swiss Gourmet. The first bite I popped off the Elstar created a heart shape and I couldn’t help but chuckle. I guess they learn after 125 years on the same orchard. How well the apple knew its consumer.
When you create an account with Ratebeer they ask you your favorite style of beer. In the beginning, I was a barley wine girl then a fruit lambic lady and now I feel like I might be delving into the world of sours. Barley wines were appealing, and still are, because of the high abv and they tend to have interesting sweetnesses going on. Fruit lambics were of particular interest because they produced flavors reminiscent of those found in our family orchard and the lambic style is so varied and surprising. Sour ales also fall into this category of surprise and a variety of flavors that can vastly differ from one to the next. My recent excursion to Lola had the added bonus of Jolly Pumpkin’s sour ale, La Roja. I hadn’t had one since July and it was such a pleasant reminder of the greatness of sour ales. Off to expand the horizons once again.
The Line Up
I wrote about this weird yet great sour earlier in “Salty Bitches” but here’s a run-down again of my notes on it. Straight from the bottle enjoyed on a summit over Lago Lugano, Switzerland. This was recommended to me by the wife/owner of A Tutta Birra in Milano as her favorite. Most interesting beer I’ve had so far in Italy. The aroma reminded me of rotting trash and at first sip so did the flavor. Further sips revealed sour cherries, dark fruits, apricot and vanilla. Incredibly smooth on the palate, absolutely no kick at the end. Much too sweet for me, almost could be considered a dessert beer in the same vein as dessert wines.
Pours a muddy purple/red with no head. On the nose: same white grape tartness as lambic gueuzes but the flavor is really watered down. Flat but crisp. Don’t get the cherry taste but more lemon and white grape. Love the crisp cool character and the slightly boozier aroma of this as compared to the guezes. Very drinkable but not very complex.
On draft at Beer Engine Sour Ale tasting. Pours a dark brown/black with ruby tinges on the side. No head. Nose: cognac as is the flavor with that white grape/almost smokey aftertaste. Flat, slightly tart and crisp. Yum. The tartness is really present in the corners of the mouth which inspires you to keep sipping away.
Bottle at The Beer Engine: Color: same as Rochefort 8 with no head. Aroma is funky bleu cheese and sour white grapes. Smooth slightly tart but boozier flavor at the beginning of the sip then tart bite at the back of the palate. Very refreshing and completely different than the last Flemish Red I had, Duchesse de Bourgogne. Love the diversity of this style – it felt like a borderline lambic.
750 at Lola into white wine glass. I love the label as I love all the Jolly Pumpkin label but this one is just great. The color is simply beautiful like a cross between a hoppy IPA and a mead. Fluffy orangey/tan head with a nice fruity aroma almost a kin to red wine sangria. Flavor is similar with some dark wood background notes and again that really nice fermented fruit sweet/sour combination. Such a delight.
After much harranging by my mother, I decided to get the swine flue vaccine today. I was so NOT going to get it after watching this video…which admittedly made me laugh uncontrollably for a short time before I freaked out a bit. The news story triggered my friends to respond to any comment with “I’m just cherishing every step”. So, when I got home today after tokyo driftin’ my way through ridiculous snow filled streets, I decided to make sorbet and pie for the first time ever. Since I have to wait 10 days to figure out if I’ll be rendered insanely disabled from a shot, I’m gonna live it up with some sweet food.
For the past 4 hours, I’ve been watching VH1′s 100 Most Shocking Music Moments while cooking. I started off with George Jones getting a DUI for driving raving drunk on his John Deer lawn mower down a highway and my great grandmother Grace’s pie crust recipe.
All mixed up in a bowl:
2 cups flour
6-7 tablespoons of butter
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
a little salt (and probably a little sugar)
enough ice water and extra flour to make a nonsticky dough
Rolled out and then draped in a butter lined pie pan
Then I layered pretty slices of Beckwith Orchards Jonagold apples, fontina cheese, Ghiradelli unsweetened cocoa powder, more apples and crushed up baking chocolate. I think next time I’ll layer the very top with sugar before placing the top crust. I gotta say it’s kinda weird because the cheese gives the slightest chewiness to the other textures but fontina isn’t a particularly strong cheese so it doesn’t overpower the other tastes. Definitely more sugar next time.
Got this beaut of a bottle from my one love, The Beer Engine. This was my first mead so maybe my analysis of this style is skewed, or not as well informed. First off, I LOVE the label, the bottle and the process of unwrapping this, my first mead. The bottle is maybe a half inch-thick gunmetal enamel with some serious heft to it. I honestly felt like a little girl at Christmas unwrapping a present she knows is going to be crazy awesome.
The color is a beautiful golden amber, unctuous against the glass like a thinner cognac. The aroma is so complex: honey, grass, a little musty like the inside of a hive or a dried up comb. The flavor is sweet, boozy with a silky mouth feel. Warmed, the flavors are even silkier. Talk about a winter warmer, the warmth down the throat relaxes the body and makes you want to snuggle down in blankets by a fire. It was pricey at $31 but I honestly believe it was worth it — it’s like having a snifter of warmed brandy only better, why shouldn’t we pay for quality? Simply because it’s another style of fermented alcohol — one of the oldest styles of fermented beverages — doesn’t mean it shouldn’t deserve the respect that Maker’s Mark enjoys. I think I just became a mead-head and possibly found my calling — a lady brewer of hard cider and mead.
I’m coming up to the last few days before my ALS Beer Dinner Event goes down and things are getting down to the wire in a fun and slightly overwhelming way! Luckily over the summer I secured awesomely generous donations from three incredible local Ohio microbreweries: Thirsty Dog, Buckeye Brewing and Hoppin’ Frog. These guys really blew me away with their donations, encouragement and enthusiasm not to mention they are my favorite Ohio microbreweries.
From Thirsty Dog: Raspberry Ale, Labrador Lager, Lunar Lager and Old Leghumper Porter
From Buckeye: Zatek Old Ale, 76 IPA, Old Mammoth Stout
From Hoppin’ Frog: Wee Heavy Scotch Red Ale, BORIS Oatmeal Impy
As for the menu, I’ve been striving for all local and all donated which is a little tough as it turns out but I’ve had some great feedback and donations from local businesses in terms of food donations and raffle prizes. Sometimes I feel like I need a permanent assistant to follow me around while I dictate my insanely long To-Do Lists and navigate the web of email responses. Luckily I have a great team of volunteers selling raffle tickets, helping prep food and awesome friends keeping my brain from becoming an addled mush.
To the meat of the issue, here’s why I’m doing this fundraiser: this dinner is for the benefit of Lou Gehrig’s Disease (aka Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis) research. This is a cause I’ve supported for 5 years since the disease claimed my father. In memory of the 5th anniversary of his death, I thought he’d especially appreciate an event featuring our two favorite things, beer and food. Funds raised will go directly to Project ALS in the hopes that continued, proactive research will find a cure for this terminal, neuromuscular degenerative disease.
The event features a 5 course meal paired with samples of 9 different beers. There will be a raffle where you can win prizes like a Pumpkin Beer gift basket donated by Rozi’s Wine and Liquor House, a custom made cake from local baker extraordinaire Liz Keeney, gift certificates to the Village Deli and Middle Ground, beer steins and a Kenyon blanket from the College Bookstore.
Grilled hot italian sausage with lemon and cilantro
Sweet potatoes Anna
Local cheese plate with local chocolates, Beckwith apples and cider
Mini BORIS pancakes with honey
*sorbet palate cleanser in between courses of Thirsty Dog’s Raspberry Ale
Happily fruit isn’t racist – so you don’t have to be a white lady to enjoy a white lady peach, it merely refers to the white flesh inside the peach. The color through the skin is beautiful and is quickly distinguishable from the red haven (yellow flesh) peach. With a free-stone pit peach you don’t have to worry about losing any of the goods to a tenacious pit. It’s also easy to halve a peach without a knife – find the sutcher (butt crack) line, plunge both thumbs in and pull in opposite directions. I picked these up from my family orchard, pulled them open, removed the pit and a dessert idea popped in my head: halved peaches, a spoon scoop of Fage 0% yogurt and sprinkling of ground ginger over top.
The peaches are insanely good, juicy and sweet and the cool tartness of the yogurt blends well with the textures while the ginger adds a subtle spicy happiness. With a bottle of Prosecco and two plates full of peaches between 4 people, these were gone in a flash.