Friday, December 07, 2007

The Session: Winter Beers


Finally, December 7th has arrived! The first Friday of the month means its Session time and I'm your lucky host. The theme this month is Winter Beers. I think I'm pretty lucky in that there are quite a few local Texas breweries that make good solid winter seasonal beers. With the goal of staying local my first instinct was to go Saint Arnold's Christmas Ale, a beer that I have reviewed a couple of times on this site. However I wanted something a little different so I kept searching. My next choice was for Rahr and Sons Winter Warmer, however I never found any down in Houston. Finally I went to my local Central Market for some inspiration. I spoke to the Beer Man there Caesar and he new just what I should get: Real Ale Sisyphus Barleywine Ale 2007, so that's what I did. The second optional part of the theme was to pair beer with wine or use it in a beer inspired recipe. While Barleywines aren't traditionally used in cooking, they are used in food pairings, one food in particular: cheese, big blue cheese at that. Again I searched for local foods, and found a really nice blue cheese from Pure Luck and their Hopelessly Blue Cheese. Now I had all of my ingredients, its time for write up!
The Beer: Using a sifter shaped glass, the beer pours a cloudy brown with a thin head. The beer weighs in between 10 and 11% abv. The nose is white grapes, sweet malt a bit of floral hoppiness. The hops show up in the taste, but its very well balanced with the malts. This is not an overly hoppy Barleywine say in the style of Avery Hog's Heaven. You get more toasted malts, even a little sweet caramel, a tinge of alcohol as it drips down your throat, more white grapes and a bit of honeyness all with out being cloying. Very smooth barleywine, one that I could sip on all night long. This one is an A- in my book. Here's what the folks over at BA had to say.
The Cheese: This is a pretty mild blue cheese, very creamy, with just a little bit of that blue funk that I like in this style of cheese.
The Paring: When the cheese is eaten with the beer the 'funk' as I call it explodes over the tongue really accentuating the flavors. The honeyness and maltiness really brings out the gorgeous flavors of this cheese. Great paring I think.

Well that about does it for my Session Entry, next up of course is posting a round up. I've already received quite a few entries, but if you have sent me yours you can post a link to this post with your entry or email me at ted.duchesne@gmail.com. I plan on posting a round up no later than Sunday. Hopefully that will catch any stragglers.

4 comments:

The Dude said...

I haven't ventured in to a Central Market thus far. Nice selection there? I did finally make it to the downtown Specs a few months back, though. To say they have a nice beer selection is a serious understatement! I live in NW Houston (Willowbrook area) so I don't get downtown much. It was worth the trip in that case though.

I couldn't overcome the temptation to make the Saint Arnold Christmas my #10 Session subject. I've posted about it before, but not really in the context of a review, so I went with it. Coincidentally, I did get my cases of it at Specs, but not the downtown location. Thanks again for hosting, Ted and cheers to you and yours this holiday season.

tedo said...

I find that CM has a really excellent selection of Beers, small becuase its constrained to the wine and beer section, but very strong. No American Macro brews, and the beer guy there has a real passion for good beer. He is trying to get the store to give him more space or get rid of some of the lower end beers so he can get even better quality.

Kieran Haslett-Moore said...

Good post, although I dont think you meant " to pair beer with wine " . Fraudian slip.

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