Friday, May 1, 2015

Besieged

Under a threatening sky, BESIEGED by rain clouds, lightening glinting in the hills, the winemaker worked alone to collect grapes destined for one of his debut wines. As he worked, the ravens cackled from above but instead of being harbingers of doom, they brought him good good fortune, becoming the totem for his winery.  The winery is Ravenswood.  And the wine.  It is Besieged.

I have to admit that the label caught my eye.  However, I do not buy wines solely on the label.  Many a bottle has stood on a shelf because I will not allow myself to be swayed by what is little more than marketing.  The one thing that led me to purchase a bottle of this wine was the blend ... Petite Sirah, Carignan, Zinfandel, Alicante Boushet, and Mourvedre.  I am a big fan of Petite Sirah, and have a great interest in both Carignan and Mourvedre.  But Alicante Boushet?  I had never heard of that varietal.  It was the prospect of having a wine made with a grape that I had never tasted.

The grape, Alicante Bouschet, is a hybrid, produced by crossing Petit Boushet and Grenache.  It was first cultivated by ... Henri Bouschet ... in 1866.  The result was a high quality grape that enticed French vineyards and winemakers throughout much of France, including Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Loire Valley, as well as by Portuguese vineyards in the Alentejo.  It is also a popular grape among winemakers and vineyards in California, including Joel Peterson of Ravenswood.

The Besieged pours a dark red to almost black. Something that echoes the colors of a raven's wings.  The aroma is full of fresh, ripe dark fruit, such as blackberries, black cherries and plums.  There is a slight spice or pepper in the background, but it struggles to make itself known amongst the fruit.

As for the taste, I have to say that I was truly impressed with this wine.  The elements include the fruit -- blackberry, black cherry, and plum.  The winemakers also suggest a rather peculiar spice ... cardamom.  And, I have to say, I actually picked up the cardamom in the wine.  It revealed itself for just a few moments before being wrapped in the dryness of the tannins in the wine. The finish is a little dry, but that is to be expected given the use of Zinfandel and Mourvedre.

When it comes to pairing, this wine is perfect for a grilled steak or other grilled meat, such as chicken or pork.  The fruit flavors, and the cardamom, contribute to the flavors of the grilled meat.  I paired this wine with my Green Fire Ribeye, which is a grilled steak with a rub made of green Hatch chile, coriander, cumin, onion powder and garlic powder.  Notwithstanding the use of chile powder, the wine still worked very well because the tannins are relatively tame.

I found this wine in a local grocery store.  A bottle runs from $14.99 to $16.99.

ENJOY!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Pan Seared Scallops with a Roasted Red Pepper Curry Coulis

My relationship with scallops as an ingredient has, historically, been a troubled one.  At times, I love the ingredient and think of various different ways to prepare this shellfish.  Those times often coincide with other inspirations and influences.  The results are dishes such as Seared Sea Scallops with Carrot-Orange Gastrique and Cauliflower Puree.  Then there are the periods where I hate scallops.  I see it on a menu and I keep looking.  When I am in the kitchen or my local grocery store, my mind races away from the ingredient, looking for substitutions or different recipes altogether.

Recently, I was inspired by my beautiful Angel to make a scallop dish.   I perused the Internet looking for recipe ideas and I came across the idea of scallops served with a red pepper coulis.  A coulis is a thick sauce made from fruits or vegetables.  The name itself comes from an old French word -- couleis -- which, in turn, comes from the Latin word -- colatus -- or "to strain."  The sauce is made by pureeing the fruit or vegetable and then passing it through a sieve or strainer.    The one coulis most often paired with scallops is a pepper coulis.  I found a recipe from a website, jessicagavin.com that for a roasted red pepper curried coulis.  Given my love for curry, this recipe seemed perfect.  I had my recipe - Pan Seared Scallops with a Roasted Red Pepper Curry Coulis.

Jessica Gavin happens to be a certified food scientist and her recipe included something else that interested me ... a step that called for brining the scallops.  This step originated with Thomas Keller, who has a recipe for Caramelized Sea Scallops in his cookbook, Ad Hoc At Home, that calls for the scallops to be brined before being seared. A brine for scallops is intriguing.  Like many seafood, scallops are notorious for how quickly they cook and for how absolutely horrible they are when overcooked.  The brine helps to provide some additional flavor to the scallops and also helps to firm the scallops' flesh.

These two new elements -- the  brining of the scallops and the use of a coulis -- have opened new doors for me, to say the least.  From now on, a brine will be a mandatory, preparatory step whenever I prepare scallops.  As for the coulis, the ease of making it means that I will be experimenting with this sauce, particularly on those evenings when I have less time to prepare a nice meal.  


PAN SEARED SCALLOPS WITH 
A ROASTED RED PEPPER CURRY COULIS
Recipe adapted from one by Jessica Gavin
Serves 2

Ingredients (for the scallops):
1 pound of jumbo scallops, muscle removed (about 8 to 10 pieces)
3 tablespoons of grapeseed or olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Sea salt, as needed
Freshly ground black pepper 
Micro-greens, for garnish

Ingredients (for the scallop brine):
1/2 cup kosher salt
1 cup hot water
4 cups cold water

Ingredients (for the Roasted Red Pepper Curry Coulis):
1 large red bell pepper (about 2/3 cup of roasted pepper)
1 tablespoon of grapeseed or olive oil
1 tablespoon of shallots, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon of curry powder
1 tablespoon of coconut milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

Ingredients (for the Vegetable Stack):
1 eggplant, sliced
1 Yukon Gold potato, sliced
1 sweet onion sliced
Grapeseed or olive oil
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
1.  Prepare the coulis.  Roast the red peppers directly over a gas flame or under the broiler, turning occasionally until the peppers are blackened all over.  Transfer the pepper the pepper to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to cool completely.  Peel the pepper and discard the skin, seeds and core.  In a food processor or blender, combine the peppers with the oil, shallot, curry powder, coconut milk, salt and ginger.  Puree the coulis until very smooth and then strain through a sieve to remove air bubbles.  Season the coulis with additional salt if needed.  Set aside until ready to serve.

2.  Prepare the vegetable stock.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a baking sheet with a non-stick spray.  Place the sliced eggplants, potatoes and onions on a baking sheet.  Brush the vegetables with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and black pepper.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked. 

3.  Brine the scallops.  In a medium sized bowl, combine the salt with boiling water, stirring to dissolve the salt.  Add ice water to cool the brine.  Add scallops to the brine and let stand for 10 minutes.  Drain the scallops, rinse under cold water and arrange in a single layer on a paper towel lined baking sheet.  Place a paper towel on top of the scallops and gently press to remove the additional moisture.  Allow to sit for 10 minutes at room temperature before cooking.

4.  Sear the scallops.  Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large stainless steel frying pan over medium high heat until it ripples and begins to smoke.  Sprinkle scallops lightly with salt and add them to the pan without crowding.  Cook the scallops without moving them, until the bottoms are a rich golden brown, about 3 to 3 1/2 minutes.  Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the pan.  Turn the scallops and caramelize the second side, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.  Transfer to a serving platter.  Lightly season with freshly ground black pepper.

5.  Plate the dish. Stack the vegetables, alternating eggplant, potato and onion.  Spoon the coulis over the vegetable stack and on the plate.  Place 2 scallops on top of the stack and 3-4 scallops on the plate.  Top with micro-greens. 

ENJOY!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Steak Marchand de Vin

French cooks believe that good meat deserves a sauce.  These words were written by Anne Willan, the author of one of my favorite French cookbooks, The Country Cooking of France.  Anne Willan is a member of the James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame.  She received that honor for her cookbooks, which have focused on French Cuisine.  She wrote those books with the goal of helping home cooks, like myself, learn the techniques and recipes used by French cooks and chefs.

One of these recipes is called "Steak Marchand de Vin," also known as "Winemaker's Steak."  A "Marchand de Vin," is a quick jus or sauce made with wine and fresh herbs.  In this case, the sauce is made after pan frying a steak.  Willan says that any cut of steak can be used in this recipe, from a filet to T-bone or entrecote.  With all of the fond in the pan, a cook uses wine to deglaze the pan and incorporate those flavors into what becomes the sauce.   As the wine reduces, with the alcohol evaporating, along with some of the liquid, the pan is removed from the heat and fresh herbs are added.  The end result is a very simple sauce that is full of flavor.

One last note, as any chef or cook will tell you, you cook with a wine you want to drink.  For this recipe, I used a Saumur Champigny, a wine from the Loire region of France.  The wine worked very well with this recipe, because of its ripe cherry and cranberry elements.  If you can't find that wine, look for a Côtes du Rhône or another red wine from France, especially if you want to keep with the French inspiration.   If you are looking for other inspirations, many consider a Carmenere from Chile.  Those wines often have a spice or pepper element to them that could provide another layer of flavor to the sauce.


STEAK MARCHAND DE VIN (WINEMAKER'S STEAK)
Recipe from Anne Willan, The Country Cooking of France, p. 135
Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 steaks, cut 3/4 inch thick (about 1 1/2 pounds)
Salt
Pepper
4 tablespoons of butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 cup of full bodied red wine
Leaves from 3 to 4 sprigs of fresh tarragon, chopped
3 to 4 fresh chives blades, chopped
3 or 4 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped

Directions:
1.  Brown the steaks.  Season the steaks on both sides with salt and pepper.  Melt half of the butter in a frying pan over high heat until it stops foaming.  Add the steaks and fry until well browned 2 to 3 minutes.  Turn them, lower the heat slightly, and continue frying until brown and cooked to your taste, 2 to 3 minutes for rare steak, 3 to 5 minutes if you prefer it more done.  Lift out the steaks and set on warmed plates, keep warm.

2.  Make the wine sauce.  Pour all of 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan and return to high heat.  Add the shallots and garlic and saute until soft, about 2 minutes.  Add the wine and boil rapidly until reduced by half.  Take from the heat and whisk in the remaining butter in small pieces.  Stir in the herbs, taste, and adjust the heat.  Spoon the sauce over the steaks and serve at once.

ENJOY!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Saumur Champigny (2011)

Saumur Champigny.  According to some, the name is derived from Latin, campus igni, or "fields of fire." Those "fields" are nestled in the Loire Valley of France, between the cities of Angers and Tours.  The terrain in this region is a low plateau of tuffeau, which is a yellow, sandy and porous metamorphic rock that is ideal for the cultivation of grapes in this appellation.

The principal grape grown in the Saumur appellation is Cabernet Franc, although Cabernet Sauvignon and Pineau d'Aunis (a rare varietal) are also cultivated there.  The wine - Saumur - is made from Cabernet Franc grapes.  Indeed, the rules require that at least 90% of the grapes used to make Saumur wine must be Cabernet Franc, allowing for the use of the Cabernet Sauvignon or, more rarely, the Pineau d'Aunis grapes. Those Saumur wines of the highest quality are given the designation of "Champigny."

The Saumur Champigny pours a garnet to crimson red color.  The aroma of this wine provides hint of some cherry and other ripe berries.  However, what makes this wine remarkable is its mouthfeel and taste.  On the one hand, the Saumur Champigny has what seems like a relatively light body.  This lightness is somewhat deceiving, because the taste of the wine is full of ripe cherry and even a little cranberry.  These elements suggest a darker, bolder wine.  There is also a minerality to the wine, along with well balanced tannins.  The result is a full bodied wine with a deceptive lightness, encased in tannins that frame the entire experience.  

All of these features would seem to suggest more Cabernet Sauvignon than Cabernet Franc. Nevertheless, the rules of the appellation clearly say that it is much more Cabernet Franc than Cabernet Sauvignon in the production of this wine.  For this reason, I find the Saumur Champigny to be a very interesting and enjoyable wine.

When  it comes to pairing, the Saurmur Champigny is best paired with grilled or roasted beef or poultry.  I paired this wine with a Steak Marchand de Vin and the pairing was perfect.  The wine also pairs well with roasted chicken or fig-stuffed rabbit.  (I need to find a recipe for that rabbit, because it sounds interesting).

As for the wine, I purchased a bottle a couple of years ago from Le Bistro du Beaujolais, which is my favorite French restaurant. The owner recommended the wine and I have to say that he was right.  I can't recall what I paid for the wine, but if you see a bottle, it is definitely worth trying.  

ENJOY!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Chipotle-Garlic Roasted Turkey Thighs with Roasted Potatoes and Turkey Crackling

It has been a while since I tried to create my own recipes, or a recipe that I would deem worthy of being published on this blog. To be sure, I am not a professional chef.  I cannot expect that I will create dishes at a level of many of the chefs that I follow through social media.   That is not really the objective of this blog.  Instead, this blog is about my journey through food.  It is about learning new things about ingredients, cooking techniques, cuisines and much, much more.  

Yet, there are times when I return to things I know and love.  I know how to roast a turkey thigh.  I love the combination of Mexican inspired ingredients, such as chipotle peppers, garlic, cumin, and adobo, in a rub.   That is how this recipe for Chipotle-Garlic Roasted Turkey Thighs developed.  I purchased a couple of bone-in, skin-on turkey thighs and returned home to rifle through my spice drawer to get together all of ingredients for the rub.   

Once I gathered all of the ingredients, I stopped and looked at the thighs, focusing upon the skin.  I could prepare these thighs with the skin, hoping that the skin would crisp up by the time the thighs themselves were cooked.  That had not always happened in the past.  Or, I should say, the skin has not always been as crisp as I would have liked it.    I was halted, at least for the moment.  The question was what to do with the skin.

The answer came in one word.  Crackling.  I have passed bags of pork crackling on the shelves of my local grocery store.  I thought to myself, "why can't I make turkey crackling."  Apparently, that thought had crossed the minds of many others.  There are many different recipes for turkey crackling.  However, they all say the same thing -- stretch the skin out on a non-stick pan or baking sheet, sprinkle with salt, and bake until brown and crispy at about 350 degrees Fahrenheit in the oven.

As one question was answered, another arose.  What to do with the crackling?  One obvious answer was simply to eat it.  I decided that I would break it up and add it to the potatoes that would be roasted with the turkey thighs.   Once that decision was made, the recipe was set and the cooking commenced ....


CHIPOTLE-GARLIC TURKEY THIGHS WITH 
ROASTED POTATOES AND TURKEY CRACKLING
A Chef Bolek Original
Serves 2-3

Ingredients:
2 turkey thighs, with skin and bones
2-3 large garlic cloves, diced finely
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
1/2 teaspoon toasted, granulated onion
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/4 teaspoon adobo powder
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 pound of red skinned potatoes
1 onion, peeled and quartered

Directions:
1.  Make crackling.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Remove turkey skin from thighs.  Spread skin on baking sheet and salt generously.  Bake the skin for 30 minutes until brown and crispy.  Remove from the oven and place turkey skin on a plate.  Set aside.

2.  Prepare marinade.  De-bone thighs.  Combine garlic, chipotle powder, granulated onion, Kosher salt, dried oregano and adobo powder.  Apply marinade to turkey thighs.  Place thighs in the refrigerator to marinate for 1 to 2 hours.

3.  Boil the potatoes.   Clean the potatoes. Slice the potatoes in half.  Bring a pot of water to boiling.  Add the potatoes and boil until almost tender, about 5 to 10 minutes.  Drain and set aside for the moment.

4.  Roast the turkey thighs.  Increase the temperature of the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place the turkey thighs in a roasting pan with the onions and potatoes.  Roast for 15 minutes and then lower the temperature to 375 degrees.  Continue roasting until the temperature of the turkey is 165 degrees Fahrenheit, about 35 to 40 minutes.   

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Trail Head

Few beers are brewed with a purpose but the Fat Head's Trail Head Pale Ale is one of them. The purpose is clearly set forth on the can: get your can off the couch, find a Trail Head, and give back some good vibes.  A "trailhead" is, as the word suggests, the head of a trail.  There is more to the word than its obvious meaning.  A trail head is not simply the beginning of a trail.  It is the start of an adventure through the wonder that is Mother Nature. 

The Trail Head Pale Ale is dedicated to the adventures that one can enjoy in the Cleveland Metro Parks.  The Metro Parks are a ring of connected nature preserves encompassing more than 21,000 acres.  That ring is also known as the "Emerald Necklace," providing a deep green that contrasted with the brownish image of a once-proud steel town that became part of the Rust Belt.  The necklace is invaluable to local residents, offering an escape where people could hike, boat, fish and observe all sorts of nature.

The Metro Parks
I know the Metro Parks well.  Having grown up outside of Cleveland, I have memories of riding my bike with my father along the trails.  I also have memories of fishing in Baldwin Lake with my grandfather.  Even after I left the Cleveland area, I would still return to visit family and friends. Inevitably, I would find myself in those parks, walking the trails, taking pictures and enjoying the beauty that is nature.

The head brewer of Fat Head's brewery, Matt Cole, is also familiar with those trails. He brewed the Trail Head Pale Ale and a portion of the sales of every pint and growler goes to help maintain the 270 miles of trails of the Metro Parks.  Just as I visit the Metro Parks, I also visit Fat Heads.  I've had this beer on a few occasions.  However, Fat Head's now bottles and cans its beers, which allows me to take some home to enjoy ... and, of course, write a beer review.  

Matt Cole and the other brewers at Fat Head's brew this beer with a variety of ingredients.  The hop list is four-fold: Citra, Mosaic, Simcoe and Amarillo.  Each hop has a reputation for its aroma or taste; but together, the hops provide a chorus of pine, citrus, and tropical fruit.  The malt list is also four-fold: pale, Munich, Crystal and Carapils.  The end product is an American Pale Ale with a 6.3 ABV and 55 IBU.

The Trail Head pours a dark orange, copper color, with a thin cloud of foam that floats on the surface of the beer.  As the beer sits in the glass, the aromas of lemon and other citrus, wrapped with pine needles greets the nose.  The taste of the pale ale gives hints of each of the hops used in the brewing process.  The citrus notes are well developed and complemented by piney notes that follow.  With each sip, there is a pleasant bitterness that accompanies the beer.  That bitterness gently grasps the edges of the tongue, holding through the finish.  This is a pale ale for hop heads, and, it is definitely a great beer.  

As with any American Pale Ale, the Trail Head pairs well with shellfish dishes, such as Sauteed Shrimp with Shrimp Hummus or Grilled Soft Shell Crabs.  The pale ale also pairs well with any grilled or roasted meats, such as a grilled porterhouse or grilled ribeye.

The Trail Head is available for sale at the Fat Head's restaurants or tap room.  It might also be available at grocery stores in the Cleveland area, but I could not say that for certain.  If you happen to come across a six pack, it is definitely worth the price.

ENJOY!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Shrimp Stew from Puglia

Every recipe can tell a story, if you are willing to listen to it.  This recipe tells of small fishing villages along the coastline of Apulia or Puglia. Villages such as Molfetta or Monopoli.  Walking along the docks early in the morning, one would watch as the small fishing boats head out into the Adriatic Sea, searching for the freshest catch available.  The catch could be mackerel or anchovies.  It could be squid or octopus.  And, for some, it could be shrimp.  As the boats return to the harbor and the docks, one waits to survey the catch.  And, if possible, one could select the freshest seafood, and take their "catch" to a nearby restaurant to be prepared in the local style.  Local seafood prepared by local chefs. 

This recipe -- Shrimp Stew from Puglia -- comes, not from a local seafood restaurant in either Molfetta or Monopoli.  Instead, it comes by way of Mario Batali in his book America Farm to Table.  The recipe was provided by Mariquita Farm, which is located in Watsonville, California.  The farm does not cultivate or raise shrimp.  Rather, it grows a variety of produce, including sweet peppers.  Those peppers provide a nice contrast to the briny shrimp, which is what makes this dish shine.  

Shrimp sauteing in the pan.
When it comes to the shrimp, Mario Batali suggests that one look for American gulf shrimp. The reason is that buying American helps to support local fisheries; and, there is no doubt that the shrimping fishery in the Gulf Coast region definitely needs our support.   

There are also other reasons to buy American shrimp.  One major reason is that there are grave issues with respect to shrimp that is harvested in certain areas of the world.  For example, there are numerous reports and stories about slave labor being used by Thai fishing boats. Those same vessels also do not use sustainable fishing methods, which leads to overfishing and damage to the oceans.  

Fortunately, I was able to find some wild caught shrimp from the United States.  When you look for shrimp, you should buy shell-on shrimp, so you can make the shrimp stock called for in the recipe.  You should also look at large shrimp, such as U-12 (twelve shrimp to a pound), but no smaller than 16-20 count (sixteen to twenty shrimp per pound).  Smaller shrimp would simply get lost in the stew.  

Although there is no mention of it in the recipe, I would suggest that this dish be served with a good piece of crusty bread.  The stew is very good and the bread works well to get every last drop of its sweetness.  We did not have any bread when I made this dish for my beautiful Angel.  That was the one missing ingredient.


SHRIMP STEW FROM PUGLIA
Recipe from Mario Batali, America Farm to Table, pg. 167
Serves 4

Ingredients (for the shrimp stock):
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Reserved shells from 2 pounds of shrimp
2 tablespoons of sweet paprika or pimenton
4 cups of water
Kosher salt

Ingredients (for the shrimp stew):
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 red onion, cut into 1/8 inch dice
2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1/8 inch dice
2 yellow bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1/8 inch dice 
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon of sugar
1/2 cup basic tomato sauce
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds (16/20 count shrimp), peeled and deveined,
     shells reserved for stock
3 cups of shrimp stock
1/3 bunch fresh chives

Directions:
1.  Make the shrimp stock.  In a 3 to 4 quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the shrimp shells and toss well.  Allow the shells to cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often.  Add the sweet paprika and cook for 3 minutes more.  Add the water and bring to a simmer, pressing down on the shells with a spatula or large spoon to extract maximum flavor.  Cook until reduced by one-quarter.  Season with a little sauce to taste.

2.  Saute the vegetables.  In a 10 to 12 inch saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over high heat until just smoking.  Add the onion and bell peppers and saute for 5 minutes.  Add the red pepper flakes, sugar, tomato sauce, and salt and black pepper to taste and cook over low heat until tender, about 10 minutes.   Remove from the heat and set aside.

3.  Saute the shrimp.  In a 12 to 14 inch saute pan, heat the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil over high heat until smoking.  Season the shrimp with salt and black pepper on both sides and cook until very red, 1 to 2 minutes.  Turn carefully with a wide spatula and cook on the other side for 1 minute.  You may need to cook the shrimp in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan.

4.  Make the stew. Remove the shrimp, add the bell pepper mixture and the shrimp stock to the pan and bring to the a boil.  Cook for 3 minutes, then return the shrimp to the mix and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer for a few minutes more.  

5.  Plate the dish.  Ladle the stew into deep bowls and garnish with chives and and a drizzle of good olive oil.

ENJOY!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Stickin in my IPA

It seems only natural that NOFX, a punk band with a 1994 album named Punk in Drublic, would eventually collaborate with a brewer to produce an alcoholic beverage of some sort.  What one would not expect is that it would take more than twenty years for that collaboration to take place and for the beer to be released. And, when I saw a craft beer collaboration between Champion Brewing (from Charlottesville, Virginia) and NOFX (from Los Angeles, California), I knew I had to try it.

From the craft beer perspective, I have tried beers inspired by musicians.  I've even blogged about a couple, including Dogfish Head's Bitches Brew (a tribute to Miles Davis) and Hellhound on my Ale (a tribute to Robert Johnson).  The effort of brewers to brew beer to commemorate a musician, especially when it focuses on an artist or musical style that I love, such as jazz or blues. 

One musical style that I really love is punk music.  Bands like Bad Religion, Pennywise, Minor Threat and, yes, NOFX, constitute a large portion of my digital music.  I have several of NOFX's albums, including Punk in Drublic, The War on Errorism, and Wolves in Wolves Clothing.  Some of my favorite songs include The BrewsIdiots are Taking Over and Leaving Jesusland.  

However, it is a song off of NOFX's album White Trash, Two Heebs and a Bean that gives this beer its name.  The song is Stickin in my Eye, which the the basis for Sticking in my IPA.  The brewers at Champion gave a nod to NOFX's west coast roots by brewing this IPA in the "West Coast style."  This style means a heavy emphasis on the central features of the hops ... its bitter, piney notes.  The hops used in this beer are Simcoe and Falconer's Flight hops.  To round out the bitterness, the brewer use rye grains, which help to add a little "sweetness" and, in turn, a little complexity to the beer.  

The Stickin in my IPA pours a golden, amber color, with a small, thin foam that quickly recedes to the edges of the glass.  The hops work their magic in this beer.  The Falconer's Flight hops provide a wonderful aroma of piney notes, which are intermittently cut through with a sweetness from the rye and malts.  The Simcoe hops provide a strong, yet manageable bitterness to the taste of the beer.  The bitterness is shrouded in piney notes, with a sweetness that reveals itself after each sip.  As the sweetness greets the tongue, the bitterness holds on to the edges to serve as a reminder that this beer is an India Pale Ale with an IBU of 65 and an ABV of 7.5%. 

I found this beer at a local grocery store.  It sells for $8.99 a can.    It is definitely worth a try, even if you don't like or know about NOFX or punk music.

ENJOY!
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