My latest featured article for RateBeer’s The HopPress… posted on Saturday, February 12th.
While I would not necessarily consider chocolate beer to be a “seasonal selection”, it does fit in quite nicely with the rapidly approaching Valentine’s Day. I thoroughly enjoy all types of chocolate… milk, dark and white… in the virtually endless ways that they can be served. So, as a bit of a celebration of of this “holiday”, I thought that I would profess my undying love for some of my favorite chocolate beers and then passionately whisper a few sweet nothings to you about some foods that I think make for nice cozy cuddling with these tasty brews. All in good fun, mind you…
Some of you might be shocked to hear that not all beer that has “chocolate” in its name actually has real chocolate as an ingredient, but there are certainly some very excellent exceptions to that, as you will see. Many of these beers, in fact, get that name from the flavor imparted by the darkly roasted malt actually called chocolate malt. Not as dark (starts at about 300ºL) as the darkest malts , like black patent, chocolate malt retains some of the nutty and/or mild coffee flavors that most beer drinkers associate with porters or stouts. In the proper proportions with other ingredients and with the right care and handling during the brewing process, this malt can definitely contribute to a quite distinct chocolate flavor in the beer that I really enjoy.
My latest featured article for RateBeer’s The HopPress… posted on Saturday, October 30th.
Like most modern American holidays, Halloween is more than a little over-commercialized and (I am at risk here of sounding like an old fogey) it seems to have lost some of the “mystique” and fun that it had when I was much younger. The once simple act of dressing up like a ghost (my favorite) and merrily going house to house gathering “treats” has been severely tainted with the risks and the potential dangers that type of behavior now carries. Wither the innocence of days gone by…
Lamenting aside, for me there are still some significant benefits to be gained from the celebration of Halloween, even if those do not much resemble the days of my youth. I am not talking about dressing up and going out to party it up all night with friends, although that can definitely still be enjoyable. I am, instead, talking about sampling some of the Halloween “themed” beers that are available these days. I am going to steer clear of the pumpkin beers, since those are focused more on the autumn season and there is plenty in the media about those beers these days. Instead I am going to hit some of the beers that either because of their name or what they taste like could be associated with Halloween.
Thanksgiving at the VTHopHead house is all about family, close friends, great food, football and, of course, good beer. While most people are focused on the turkey n’ stuffing, cranberries and pumpkin pie (I like these too) for my son Jamie and I it is also a time to pull out a “special” beer (or few) to add to the holiday cheer. This year he has scored an excellent Unibroue selection, including their abbey tripel La Fin Du Monde, and what will be my first beer from Nova Scotia, Alexander Keith’s Premium White. I also will have a slightly chilled bottle of Allagash Musette, one of their bourbon-barrel aged brews, on “standby”, just in case. This is shaping up to be a really great Thanksgiving!