Results tagged “beer”

Piwo grzane: Hot Beer with Syrup

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Our friend Kenner just returned from a trip to Poland with intriguing tales of heated alcoholic beverages and as the weather chills here as well those are sounding very attractive. We're already fans of toddies, Glögg, Quelque Chose, etc. so we're very open to the whole concept. One of Kenner's finds was a warm mead, which sounds great. The only problem with mead is that the same word is applied to a lot different things, so I feel like we'd need to find the same brand or style to make sure we were trying the same thing.

The other drink he described was both more re-creatable, but had a certain dangerous sound. Piwo grzane--hot beer, with a flavored syrup, that you drink through a straw. Let's break that down for a second.

Beer. Yay! We like beer.

Hot beer. Huh. I know I just said we like Quelque Chose, but to an American palatte warm beer sounds odd, and saying the words "hot beer" out loud just sounds wrong.

... with a syrup. Here again--we drink plenty of fruity beers--lambics and fruit-flavored beers, but we tend to prefer the tart-er ones and there's something about adding a syrup that sounds a little weird.

... that you drink through a straw. You drink soda with a straw. But Kenner was very insistent--it's better through a straw.

OK, well we were ready to give it a try. Kenner said there were lots of variations--different beers, flavored syrups, etc (but the straw was important!) but that they had liked Okocim lager with raspberry syrup.

Our local liquor store didn't have any Okocim (this being Chicago, I'm sure I can find some eventually) so I thought I'd go with a tasty but simple lager and picked up a six-pack of Red Stripe.

We already had some Torani Raspberry Syrup, which is mostly sugar-water with flavor, but our local grocery store happened to have real Polish Polonaise Raspberry Syrup (Syrop Malinowy), which is made with raspberry juice. Our cashier gave us the thumbs up as we were checking out. "Very good with just a little water," she said. Noted.

Supplies for Piwo grzane (Hot Beer with Syrup)

The actual preparation was dead easy. I poured two bottles of lager into a big Pyrex measuring cup, heated it up in the microwave for about three and a half minutes, then poured it out into two pints glasses. I gave a healthy pour of raspberry syrup into each glass -- which fizzed up and mixed nicely on its own. And then two straws.

The verdict: very nice. Warming, tasty. Maybe a little too easy to drink fairly quickly. Definitely an addition to our winter-drink list.

Piwo grzane: Hot Beer with Syrup

Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer

Pizza Beer

The tag line of Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer is "Beer so good it deserves... a wine glass!" I'd suggest a shot glass, because that's as much of this beer as you're going to want to drink.

"I like pizza and I like beer. So why wouldn't I want to combine the two?" you might think. And that, I guess, is the question the Seefurth family of Campton, IL asked themselves. The answer, unfortunately, is that you wouldn't want to combine the two because it tastes terrible.

And it's not that it doesn't taste like pizza -- this ale "brewed with oregano, basil, tomato, and garlic" certainly has the aftertaste of a big bite of pizza. The problem is that it's the wrong order. You'd take a big bite of pizza and then a swig of beer to cleanse your palate for the next bite. WIth this beer, all you've got is the lingering taste of pizza. Drinking it on its own is unsettling -- all the aftertaste of a greasy slice without the actual pizza. And the only food I could imagine pairing it with would be... pizza, in which case it would be overkill.

(Originally posted on the Chicago Metblog, Oct 12, 2008: Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer)


Shandy fixin's

Our dear Wisconsin friends at Leinenkugel's have a new summer brew showing up in bottles and at bars that have "Leinekugel's Seasonal" on the menu -- the Summer Shandy. Leine's are making their Shandy as a wheat beer with "lemonade flavor". Erica and I have been drinking and enoying it, especially on these recent scorchers, but it was reminding me of the Shandies I had as a youth* in Australia.

In my recollection, the Shandy in Australia was half beer and half English-style lemonade, which is halfway between American lemonade and Sprite. And a quick peek at the Wikipedia entry for Shandy showed that around the world a Shandy can be just about any kind of soft drink mixed in with beer. Perhaps the biggest difference between that style of Shandy and Leine's premade one is that the mixed ones dilute the alcohol, which means that on a hot summer day, you can drink more of them without getting quite so sloshed**.

So the only thing for it was to pick up a bunch of Shandy fixin's and have an old-fashioned Shandy taste-off.

Since we were comparing to Leine's Summer Shandy, I wanted a comparable beer without the lemonade flavor and so I grabbed some Leine's Sunset Wheat***. All the Shandies were half-beer and half-mixer:

We started out with some solid American lemonade: Simply Lemonade-brand:
Fuzzy: Smooth, light, very refreshing and almost frighteningly drinkable.
Erica: Awesome and delicious.

I thought R.W. Knudsen Spritzer Jamaican Lemonade might be something like the Austalian lemonade I was remembering (but it's not):
Erica: Tastes more artifical -- I'd rather just drink the spritzer.
Fuzzy: Pretty weak and watered-down.

The Wikipedia entry had mentioned a number of variations of ginger ale or ginger beer, so we thought we'd try Canada Dry Ginger Ale:
Erica: Like watered-down beer.
Fuzzy: Yeah, also pretty weak.

Since regular ginger ale seemed too weak, we tried some Sprecher Ginger Ale, which claims on the bottle that it's "icy-cool and spicy-hot with real ginger". In fact, by itself the Sprecher Ginger Ale doesn't have that strong of a ginger kick and it isn't much better mixed with beer:
Erica: Maybe it'd taste good with some fruit in it. It's a little bitter.
Fuzzy: Blah.

I'm a big fan of Limeade, so why not:
Erica: I'd rather drink Limeade on its own without messing it up with beer.
Fuzzy: The lime doesn't mesh as well with the beer as the lemon did.

Another entry in the maybe-it's-like-English-lemonade was Trader Joe's French Market Pink Lemonade:
Erica: Uh-oh, this might be my favorite. It's sweet and fizzy. Plus, anything pink you can't go wrong with.
Fuzzy: I'll give it a close second after the regular lemonade.

After trying all those variations, we gave the Leine's Summer Shandy another taste and frankly it came up short:
Erica: Huh, this is now my least favorite. It's kind of bitter.
Fuzzy: Weird, I really liked it yesterday.

So, the regular lemonade and the Trader Joe's fizzy pink lemonade were both favorites. And if the weather stays this hot, I think we'll be drinking plenty of both.

* By youth I mean 18, and that was legal for bars there. So there.
** That may, of course, be a positive or a negative for you.
***After all our tasting was over, I noticed that the label described it as "beer with natural flavors". WTF? Flavors? The whole test is ruined and we'll have to conduct it again (and again and again)!

(Originally posted on the Chicago Metblog, Jul 9, 2007: Shandy!)

Dolomite at Piece

Dolomite Malt Liquor at Piece

Piece (1927 W North) is already a favorite of Team Gerdes -- Erica likes the exotic pizza toppings like mashed potatoes and artichoke hearts and I like the New Haven-style Plain Crust because I'm not actually a big cheesey-pizza fan. We both like the beer -- the Worryin' Ale has, indeed, washed away many of our worries and the beermosa (a sour German beer and orange juice) is fifty times better than it sounds. Tonight, I ordered the "Brewer's Choice" to get a dollar off my beer and it was the Dolomite -- Piece's own micro-brewed malt liquor. Which they serve in a glass in a paper bag. Erica laughed every single time I took a drink and refused to let me take it out of the bag. It also got me well-buzzed. Got-a-quarter?

(Originally posted on the Chicago Metblog, May 30, 2007: Dolomite at Piece)

Pumpkin Beers: Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale

Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale

Every Fall Erica and I get excited about pumpkin beers. And every Fall we completely forget which ones we had liked the year before and which we didn't. So I'm mainly doing a service to me-a-year-from-now by recording some mini-reviews of this Autumn's pumpkin beers.

And let's be clear -- nobody wants pumpkin beer. What we want is clove, nutmeg, and allspice beer -- pumpkin pie flavor, basically. The trick is to get it somewhere between so-subtle-that-all-you-taste-is-beer and Pepsi Holiday Spice.

Pumpkin beer is something of a niche market and so we're usually drinking the products of a number of small breweries. But all that my local Jewel had in the way of pumpkin beers was Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale, brewed by Molson Canadian and imported by Blue Moon Brewing Company (themselves a subsidiary of Coors). So we start off the year with a mega-brewery beer.

The first bottle of Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale -- well, what did I just say about not wanting? It tasted like someone had pureed a pumpkin and mixed it into a beer. A little slimy, in fact. And I couldn't taste the spices at all. A second bottle seemed much more on the mark. It veers towards the subtle end of the spectrum, but we've got that cozy Autumn feeling going on (and not just because I've had two bottles of beer). Erica also gives it the thumbs up.

(Originally posted on the Chicago Metblog, Oct 23, 2006: Pumpkin Beers: Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale)