Cocktails and Happy Hour at Mr. Rain’s Fun House Baltimore, MD

•March 6, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Yes, it has been far too long since I have blogged.  There are far too many interesting and wonderful things going on in the world of spirits, beer, and cocktails for me to have been away for so long.  Let us not speak of this again.

While I love my beer, I am a sucker for well made cocktails.  I would have been dipsomaniacally at home during the turn of the 20thcentury at the very heart of the golden age of cocktails.  With that stated, the 21st century isn’t too shabby.  The rebirth of the cocktail revolution is quite fortuitous with those with discriminating palates.  Some argue that the current rebirth started in the late 1990s, but I think the pendulum really began to swing about 7 years ago.

In 2004 the Algonquin Hotel in New York City – which was the regular haunt of one of my favorite dipsomaniacal heavy weights, Dorothy Parker – began offering a martini for the measly cost of $10,000.  This Vesper Martini (Lilet is substituted for the vermouth in this drink) is served with a one and a half carat diamond at the bottom of the glass.  It isn’t the diamond in the glass that caught my attention; it was the use of Lilet.  While I find a vesper martini not only an improper martini and a waste of a fine apéritif, at least the oft ignored Lilet had reappeared.  This is my long-winded version of stating, it’s nice to see quality ingredients going back into cocktails.  This brings me to the topic at hand: The Baltimore Sun’s Dining@Large ‘Starving Artist Happy Hour” at Mr. Rain’s Fun House in Baltimore.  While this event occurred more than a month ago, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this affair.

While the food was very good, I will leave that to others to discuss because there is much to be explored with the libations.  The cocktail menu is pleasantly sizable and very inventive.  While it is certainly possible to order a classic cocktail, that isn’t the style of this establishment.  The menu and especially the cocktail menu reflect the eclectic surroundings of the building in which it resides: the American Visionary Art Museum.  Do not take the whimsy of the menu and surroundings to heart for these libations are deadly serious.

To begin, I must give a tip of my chapeau to what piqued my initial interest in this venture: The first item on the drink menu is a flight of cocktails.  It is a brilliant concept and as an individual who needs to taste as many new items as possible a boon of epic proportions.  This bravado is backed by the staff.  Our bar chef, Michelle, did an outstanding job.  She was knowledgeable and crafted a superb beverage.

Our adventure included a number of fabulous cocktails, but today I’m going to focus on one cocktail from each of Mr. Rain’s cocktail categories: the Earth and Fire from The Garden Variety selections, the English Breakfast from the Aroma Therapy selections, and the crown jewel of the evening: The Orchard from the A Cure for What Ails You (indeed!) selections.

I love that mezcal – while struggling – is battling with a pugilist’s determination to make its way into the mainstream of the spirit world.  Mezcal originates from the Mexican state of Oaxaca, although it is now produced in a few different regions in Mexico.  There are a number of differences between mezcal and its more popular cousin, tequila.  Both are made from the agave plant (although, tequila is only made with blue agave).  Mezcal is only distilled once whereas tequila is distilled twice and while it is generally accepted  that mezcal is not as smooth as tequila, mezcal has a beautifully smoky and complex flavor profile.  The complexity found in mezcal is only found in the most expensive high-end tequilas and even then, I generally gravitate towards mezcal and I am glad that mezcal was used in the aptly named Earth and Fire.

The Earth and Fire is a combination of Beet Infused Sombra Mezcal, Fennel Tincture, Cointreau Orange Liqueur, and Oregeno.

There is a distinct nose and hint of sweet earth on the palate from the beet.  This is quickly followed by the robust and powerful smoke from the mezcal.  The fennel tincture and oregano add a fabulous twist that incorporates a roundness that is reminiscent of an apothecary.  The last note from the Cointreau that completes the drink cannot help but remind me of one of my favorite cocktails, the Blood and Sand.

The English Breakfast is an amusing and refreshing libation that works well as an aperitif.  This combination of Hendrick’s Gin, Cherry Heering, Luxardo Orange Liqueur, mint, and Pimm’s No. 1 foam is an aromatic delight stylishly served in a metal martini ‘glass’.

It would be easy to muddle all of the complex flavors that are contained in this drink and end up with an overly alcoholic heavy tasting mess.  What I received was a cocktail that floated on gossamer wings to my tongue.  The mint surprisingly played well with the cucumber components in the Hendrick’s and was not only an aromatic treat, but was a refreshing change after some of the heavier cocktails.  The fruit components of the cocktail were just barely discernable, which is the absolutely correct intent.  The botanicals from the gin and the herbs from the Pimms dance friskily in your nose.  I would fully expect Puck to quaff several of these on a warm midsummer evening.

Despite my overwhelming delight with the aforementioned cocktails, The Orchard is an absolutely brilliantly crafted cocktail and has quickly arisen among my favorite cocktails.

The Orchard is comprised of Bulleit Bourbon, Lillet Blanc, apple cider, a cinnamon tincture, and maple perfume.  This beverage is where apples hope to go when they die.  As our bar-chef so astutely noted apple and bourbon are a perfect pairing and complement one another exceptionally well.  Cinnamon – also a natural pairing for apple – is a brilliant component to include in bourbon cocktails and I am ashamed to admit that I have not thought to include cinnamon more often.  Good cinnamon will act as a type of drying agent to bourbon, which often trends towards sweetness in cocktails and if one is not careful can easily fall over the precipice into the unwelcome realm of cloy.  For those that may have never used maple for anything other than breakfast victuals, it is an exceedingly tricky component to effectively utilize.  Maple is a very robust flavor and an unsteady hand can easily turn something from delicious to disastrous.  Luckily, our bar-chef has a keen eye and measured hand for the maple perfume was executed perfectly.  While the maple was clear and forward in the nose it was just barely perceptible on the palate.  The mouth feel is rich and slightly decadent without being sweet with overtures of vanilla from the bourbon and a touch of herbaceousness from the Lillet.

Mr. Rain’s Fun House is one of the hidden gems in Charm City and I am truly surprised that there is not more of a buzz around this establishment.  The food is creative, fun, and stylish while still very approachable.  The cocktails are a true joy.  I can only imagine that its location atop the museum have kept it somewhat out of sight and thus out of mind.  However, with the quality of products from this institution, I expect the feline to be released from the sack quite soon.

Saúde!

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Infinium Bière de Champagne by Boston Beer Company & Weihenstephan

•December 30, 2010 • Leave a Comment

As I heard that Infinium was about to be released, I of course contacted Harry and sure enough he was able to secure a bottle for me.  Again, this is why it is important to have a good beer man.  Only 15,000 cases of Infinium were shipped to the United States and with all the hype, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to secure a bottle.

Because of the expectations surrounding Infinium, I broke my own rule. I read and heard reviews about this beer before I was able to try it.  However, in my defense it was almost impossible to avoid the hype that led up to Infinium’s release.  This was to be a revolution; the brewing of a brand new beer following the Reinheitsgebot.

For those that may not be up on their 16th century Bavarian decrees, Reinheitsgebot was the German purity law as it pertained to beer.  The original law stated that only three ingredients could be included in beer: water, hops, and barley.  Some will recognize the missing and quite necessary and crucial component for fermentation, yeast.  Sam Adams and Weihenstephan give more than a wink and a nod to the fourth component.  They erroneously state on both of their websites that yeast was a part of Reinheitsgebot, which is a tad bit disingenuous.  Traditionally, the yeast would either be introduced from remaining sediment from previous batches of fermented beer.  If that failed, the brewers would then leave their beers to rest and – much how Lambics are formed – they would hope for spontaneous fermentation from wild yeast.  As it turns out, Infinium is not a brand new style of beer, but a Bière de Champagne. Strictly following Reinheitsgebot and creating a Bière de Champagne would be a near impossibility.  Bière de Champagne has a usual range of 10% – 15% ABV.  At this range, very specific high gravity yeasts are needed to achieve the desired result.  So, take their claim of following Reinheitsgebot with the appropriate amount of sodium.

My tangent and picking of nits aside, Sam Adams and Weihenstephan deliver this brew in a beautiful package:

Photo Courtesy of Kitchen Treats

Infinium pours a honey amber with a thick white head that has a touch of sandy color that lingers for quite some time before leaving thick and heavy lacing.  It has the mouth feel of a thin barlewine.  I expected some of the brightness and dry crispness of champagne on the nose, but it is distinctly absent.  Instead there is surprisingly malt with a touch of white rose and honeysuckle.  Like the nose, it is sweeter on the palate than I anticipated.  There is a very fine effervescence – perhaps too fine.  I think that perhaps greater carbonation would have balanced the initial sweetness to a degree.  There are distinct notes of grape and honey.  What is really surprising is the dry bitter finish.  It is long.  Red and I both noticed the bitter finish on our palates several minutes after we had last drank.  It wasn’t unpleasant, but it was quite unusual.  A very nice quality was how well Infinium held its carbonation.  Even two hours later there was nearly the same level of carbonation as when we first drank it.  I found it interesting that as Infinium warmed some of the sharpness from the alcohol (10.4% ABV) rounded, but make no mistake this is to be consumed cold.  As Infinium warmed, the flavors muddled and became muddy.  When it is cold the flavors are bright and intense, which is also very surprising as flavors tend to be muted by the cold.

Unlike most of the reviews I have read, I enjoyed Infinium.  It is far more complex than I anticipated and while I was surprised at the sweetness it is still a fine libation.  One could argue that it is a tad unbalanced and I don’t think that would necessarily be a mischaracterization.  I would have liked something to cut through the sweetness in the middle of my palate.  I think cellaring Infinium (yes, it is bottle conditioned) might help alleviate some of that problem.  Nevertheless, I feel that the long and strong bitter finish compensates for the initial sweetness.

However, with all of this stated, it isn’t worth the price.  Most offerings have Infinium priced around $25 and it isn’t worth the cost.  There are other beers in the same price range that I would choose over Infinium, such as Rogue 21.  I appreciate what Sam Adams and Weihenstephan have tried to do, but I would not go running for Infinium again at its current price point.

In short, is it worth trying? Absolutely.  Is it worth a repeat venture? No.

Saúde!

Hot Buttered Rum: A Holiday Tradition

•December 22, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The holiday season is fully upon us and like most Americans the 12 O’ Clock household has traditions that help fill us with the holiday spirit.  However, the spirit that fills us in this household is rum (although Red has introduced a new tradition of making her own Irish Cream, which is positively enchanting).  Rum may have a bit of a checkered history in the United States, but for this New England native, nothing says the holidays like hot buttered rum.

Hot buttered rum made its first appearance in New England in the mid 1600s.  As New England became the hub for rum distillation, some contend that this wonderful libation was the evolution of what I can only imagine was a horrid beverage, buttered ale.  However, I tend to disagree with this line of thought.  The traditional toddy, which is made with sherry, mulled wine, cider, or whiskey, is much closer in function and design to hot buttered rum than buttered ale.  Both hot buttered rum and toddies are served warm and incorporate a liberal use of spice in their composition.  Moreover, given the tremendous popularity of toddies in Europe during the American Colonial Era it stands to reason that as rum became more prevalent it would replace the other spirits in the New England toddy and that is how the hot buttered rum came into being.

There are different variations on the how to make hot buttered rum.  I have come across several traditional recipes that call for buttered batter to be included in the drink.  I don’t assemble mine in this fashion, but it can be delightful when it is implemented properly.  I use a recipe that was passed down to me from an old crotchety Puritanical New Englander who claims it comes from a family recipe that spans a couple of centuries.  I cannot confirm to the authenticity of his claim, but I can confirm that it is absolutely delicious.

Colonial New England Hot Buttered Rum

Photo Courtesy of Kitchen Treats

2 oz Dark rum
2-4 Tbsp brown sugar
1.5 teaspoons of butter
2 oz boiling hot water
1 pinch of nutmeg
2 pinches of ground clove
1 cinnamon stick

The secret, if there is one at all, is the high proportion of brown sugar and butter.  I don’t have much of a sweet tooth and rum is already sweet enough for my taste so I err on the side of less sugar, however many recipes call for the larger amount, which is why I have included it here.

However, with this stated, I need to take – once again – a quick aside.  I have never, ever had anyone say anything about the perfection that is my  hot buttered rum, until this year when Red and I were trimming the tree.  As I serve the first round of drinks, Red takes a sip; she then goes to the kitchen; retrieves some sea salt and applies it to the top of her drink.  She then proceeds to declare how much better the drink has become.  I was appalled.  This is a classic drink that certainly has stood the test of time.  Well, once again her superior pallet had won the day.  Once I had done some additional research to some of the classic hot buttered rum recipes, almost all of them called for just a touch of salt no doubt to cut through the sweetness of the rum and sugar and to penetrate the richness of the butter.  So, while the recipe above will stand on its own, this almost perfect libation will absolutely be enhanced with the inclusion of a half pinch of sea salt as a finishing touch on the beverage.  It appears that I should have lived by the old adage that a good (bar) chef always leaves out one ingredient from their recipe when it is shared.

One last point that I feel is important to note is the dark rum that is used.  I know that there are many people who use light or spiced rum in their designs.  To me this is a grave error.  Light rum does not have the complexity and depth of dark rum and doesn’t belong in this drink.  Light rum serves no function other than an alcolic bite to the drink and the subtilities of the young rum will be completely lost in this potion.  While I can understand the desire to use spiced rum, this is also an fatal error.  Spiced rum is also not aged nearly as long as dark rum and the spice that has been incorporated will be diluted when they are introduced to the other ingredients.  It is imperative that you only use dark rum for this libation.  Dark rum is aged longer than gold rum and is almost always aged in charred barrels.  This imparts a beautiful complexity, depth of character, and spiciness that makes it the absolutely clear choice to use for hot buttered rum (and for consumption in general).

So, for many of us, in a couple of days we will throw another log on the fire, grab some wrapped gifts from under the tree, and enjoy in some revelry.  I can think of no better drink to have at my side than my trusty New England stalwart and I am looking forward to many more years of extending a tradition with a cocktail that has spanned centuries.

Saúde!

There Are Oysters in My Beer

•December 1, 2010 • Leave a Comment

After a multi-day work trip to Raleigh, North Carolina, I decided to unwind with a new beer upon my arrival home.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend I was visiting my in-laws and we took a trip to the 9th Street Italian Market in Philadelphia.  As we were approaching 9th street, Red noticed a sign that read The Craft Beer Store and promptly brought it to my attention.  We made a note to examine the establishment on our return trip.  While I was not overly impressed with their selection or prices, they did have one beer I had not seen before: Island Creek Oyster Stout from Harpoon’s 100 Barrel Series.

The premise of the beer is certainly a unique one: incorporate oysters in the brewing process of the stout.  This beer contains oysters from my native state, The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which not coincidentally is also the home of Harpoon brewery.  I feel it was my duty as a native New Englander to give the beer a go.

The Island Creek pours a deep dark black with a light sandy head.  The nose is sweet with malt and very sweet coffee notes.  After the very sweet nose, I am expecting a very malty sweet rich mouth feel.  Instead, I am welcomed with bitter chocolate that is a nice juxtaposition from the sweet nose.  The flavor expands and rounds throughout the mouth with smooth warm malts that are only slightly sweet and the finish is a slightly mineral and perhaps with a touch of salt on the tip of the tongue.  The mouth feel is smooth and drinkable without being thin.  Although, it has a relatively low in ABV of 5.5% there is just a touch of heat from the alcohol.

The Island Creek Oyster Stout won’t blow you away, but you won’t be disappointed either, this is a solid after dinner winter brew that will work well with a variety of dishes.  This subtle richness of this beer will pair excellently with a well aged gruyere, but could also hold well with chocolate dish because the 35 IBU and touch of mineral will cut through some the richness while the coffee notes will play will with the chocolate.  I will even go out on a limb and recommend this with a gamey stew.  I can see this stout holding up well against a hearty lamb.

Enjoy the flavor the oysters bring…

Saúde!

Double Bastard Ale by Stone Brewing Company

•November 22, 2010 • 4 Comments

It’s no secret that I am an unapologetic fan of Stone Brewing Company.  Since 1996 this brewery has consistently delivered brilliant beers.  Indeed, some of their libations pass as currency.  About a month ago, I was fortunate enough to be acquainted with a Baltimore Ravens fan and when his team was set to battle my beloved New England Patriots he foolishly wagered a six-pack of Stone’s Ruination IPA on the outcome of that gridiron mêlée.  It is suffice to state that all my wagers should result in such delicious victory.

Nevertheless, I digress from the topic at hand, Stone’s Double Bastard Ale.  In addition to their outstanding regularly produced beer, Stone also releases limited runs that are released annually or in the case of our ale today, seasonally.  Stone’s Double Bastard is released in November and has done so annually since 1997.

This is not an ale for the faint of heart and the bottle duly warns those who may be faint of palate.  From the bottle:

Warning: Double Bastard is not to be wasted on the tentative or weak.  Only the worthy are invited and then only enter at your own risk. If you have any modicum of hesitation DO NOT buy this bottle.  Instead leave it for a worthy soul who has already matriculated to the sublime ecstasy of what those in the know refer to as “Liquid Arrogance”

If you have never had any of the Stone beers, prepare yourself.  Stone truly makes extreme beers and for that I am exceptionally grateful.  The regularly available Arrogant Bastard Ale is above 100 IBUs.

<Sidebar>

The IBU is a take on the European Bitterness Unit (EBU).  Quantifying the bitterness in a beer was once a less than perfect science.  However, IBU and EBUs are measured through the use of spectrophotometry.  Yet, even this can yield results that will not necessarily equate to the experience on one’s palate.  While a spectrophotometer can accurately measure the bittering units in a beer it doesn’t take into account the other components of the beer, specifically the malts.  An English Special Bitter will have a lower IBU than an Imperial Stout, yet to anyone’s palate the ESB will clearly taste more bitter than the ESB.  21st Amendment’s Back in Black labels itself as 65 IBUs, but its aggressive malts masks much of the hops

<End Sidebar>

The 2010 Double Bastard Ale is an American strong ale.  It is an aggressively hopped ale, but is brilliantly balanced with malt.  It pours an enticing amber mahogany.  There is minimal lacing in my brandy snifter, but the viscous barley wine style pour style still imparts a beautifully sweet and bitter nose.  There are wonderful subtle floral notes that linger on the peripheries of warm brown sugar, dark fruit, and ripe banana, but they are wonderfully cut with brawny interjection of bright citrus and pine.

Double Bastard Ale

Photo Courtesy of Kitchen Treats

With the ‘Bastard’ moniker, I expected a stark bitter bite.  Instead, I was treated to a well balanced ale that has the full mouth richness of a barley wine that exhibits flavor components of molasses, fig, and pineapple that is rounded with baking spices and a touch of pine.  The minimal carbonation contributes to the richness of the ale.  There is only the tiniest hint of heat form the 11% ABV of the ale and it only serves to accent the luxuriousness of the ale.

I fully imagine this ale will age exceptionally ale.  While I can only speculate, the robust molasses will enhance the fruit flavors as they blossom with age.  If you decide to cellar this ale, Stone recommends that this ale be cellared at 55 degrees, which should be right in line with other ales and wines in your cellar.

Once again, Stone serves up a winner with its 2010 vintage.  Find one and enjoy.

Saúde!

Fireside Chat Ale by 21st Amendment

•October 25, 2010 • 1 Comment

The 1920s ushered in the era of prohibition, flappers, the Great Depression, and the Golden Age of Radio.  As the depression worsened in the early 1930s, those that were fortunate enough to do so would gather around the family or neighbor’s radio and take some time to enjoy such programs as Professor Quiz, the Champion Spark Plug Hour, and The A&P Gypsies.  However, the programming that elicits the strongest remarks and memories from the individuals of this era are President Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats.

Starting in March of 1933 Roosevelt would give 30 of these addresses to the American people with his final Fireside Chat occurring in June of 1944 a little less than a year before his death.  Roosevelt’s easy style bred a type of familiarity and reassurance that was tremendously successful.  The Fireside Chats would far surpass the number of listeners from even the most popular programming.

After class, I found myself at The Liquor Pump talking to Harry and he had just received a shipment that included 21st Amendment’s Fireside Chat Ale.  This was exactly what I had in mind and the Beer of the Week was decided.

Like one of Roosevelt’s addresses, 21st Amendment has me huddled around this beer and I am enjoying its message.  From the playful artwork on the can –Roosevelt is enjoying (I presume) a beer from a snifter by the fire and if one looks carefully, he is chatting with an elf in the chair opposite him – to the quick dark teak colored pour this ale entices the senses right from the start.

The warm white head lasts quite a while which gives ample time to take in the demonstrative malt notes which are completely laced with the scent of an overly ripe banana that is neither cloy nor has the sharp notes of banana like a Belgian.  As the head dissipates leaving a significant amount of lacing, the notes of spice – primarily nutmeg and clove – become evident.  The slightly sweet malts are made complex by the dry taste of raw cinnamon and clove.  The finish is long-lasting; the malts disappear, but as the malt fades I am left with a touch of fruity chocolate, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  One particular aspect that is of particular note is how wonderfully bitter this ale tastes.  No one would ever confuse it with an IPA, but most winter ales are aggressively malty, which tends towards quite a bit of sweetness.  21st Amendment uses a generous amount of Magnum and Goldings hops that round out not only the taste (self-styled as 45 IBUs) but cuts a good amount of sweetness from the nose as well.

This is by far the best winter seasonal in recent memory.  I appreciate bold flavors, but many of the winter seasonals have so much spice that it becomes a jumbled mask of flavor that can hardly be defined as beer.  Others are so unimaginative that they don’t even warrant a second thought.  Fireside Chat is now the measuring stick by which all other winter seasonals will be measured.  It is eminently drinkable.  It is absolutely packed with flavor.  Yet, as a relatively powerful brew at 7.9%, it cleverly disguises itself as a flavorful session beer.  That is quite the powerful deception.

It’s time to crank up the old Victrola and throw another log on the fire because I envision quite a few more of these finding their way to me.

Saúde!

Odyssey Ale from Allagash Brewery

•October 19, 2010 • Leave a Comment

With the return to grad school, I have been negligent in posting a Beer of the Week.  I cannot promise that this will fully return to form during the school year, but I will endeavor to imbibe fine libations as often as humanly possible.

One of Harry’s last recommendations is an ale created by Allagash Brewery located in Portland, Maine.  Their offering, Odyssey, is a Belgian strong dark ale.  Allagash ages and blends this wheat ale in a two stage process.  During the first segment of the process the batch is divided into two portions and some is aged in New American Toast Oak while the remainder is placed into stainless steel.  Allagash states that this segment of the process takes over six months.  Once the ale is sufficiently aged, the second stage is to combine these disparate batches and then bottle condition the ale with Candi sugar and inject another round of yeast.  These additional measures are quite evident in the fullness and strong flavor structure of this ale.

My Odyssey was served in a 750 ML bottle that was corked and bottled in January of 2010.  Per the recommendation on the label, I poured my ale slowly into a wide mouth glass.  Odyssey pours a beautiful rosewood color with a sandy white head that retreats quickly from the middle leaving a small white ring along the glass with little to no lacing.

The nose is strong with unsweetened vanilla bean and brown sugar.  A touch of dark fruit clings to the aroma with a tease of slight oak and spice – clove and the faintest whiff of nutmeg –  that is almost to subtle to detect, but gives a preview of what is to come.

My first taste is full of explosive flavor.  I am overwhelmingly thankful for the aging.  The traditional and almost severe fruit and yeast flavors that are found in the traditional Belgian flavor profile have been tamed and submissively sit in the corner.  There is only the mildest hint of banana flavor.  Instead, I am welcomed with big malty brown sugar and fig flavors that are controlled by the fabulously dry finish.  I was concerned when I first inhaled the aromas.  I thought Allagash had made the mistake of aging Odyssey in bourbon oak barrels.  I have yet to find a bourbon barrel beer that has not been cloy to the point of being undrinkable.  (However, I have been informed that my search is about to come to an end.  Bourbon County Imperial Stout by Goose Island is apparently the nectar of the gods.  We shall soon find out).  I will go out on a limb and speculate that Allagash has procured old wine barrels for their aging process.  There is a very distinct dry wine like finish that is slightly tannic and completely wonderful.  Even for me, this is a hearty beer.  There is distinct heat from the high ABV of 10.3%, however it isn’t so hot that I would have guessed that high of an alcohol content just from flavor.  Nevertheless, if there is one flaw in this ale (and an admittedly small one at that), I think this heat somewhat detracts from the overall experience of this delicious ale.  With the strong vanilla nose and high ABV, bourbon is never far from your mind with this ale and that is not necessarily what you are expecting or want from this style.

Nevertheless, this is a fine, fine ale.  The mouth feel is smooth and lively with little carbonation.  This is a delicious dessert beer that will fantastically pair with a caramel bread pudding or sticky toffee.  Odyssey will also match well against a robust Dominican or Cuban cigar.  The delicious flavors of a Cuban Montecristo #2 – specifically the leather and wood – will match beautifully with the middle spicy notes of nutmeg and wood flavor of the Odyssey (if Cuban cigars were legal that is).

If you don’t want to cellar this ale (and you certainly can; store it around 50-54°F), now is the perfect time to have it.  This the right beer for a crisp autumn evening: warm, dark, and fulfilling.  So, pop the cork, pour a glass, and enjoy it with your favorite Cuban cigar of the legal pre-embargo variety, of course.

Saúde!

 
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