Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Wild Streak

There was a time when all beers were aged in wood, and yeasts ran wild and cavorted together. Modern brewing is wonderful, of course, but sometimes a little cavorting is a fine thing. Sometimes it gives you a chance to reveal your funky side.  That is the beginning of the story of how Garrett Oliver and his team at Brooklyn Brewery decided to reveal their Wild Streak. 
The Brooklyn Wild Streak starts off as a Belgian-style golden ale, but the brewers work their magic to transform that ale into a Barrel-Aged Brett Beer.  The ingredients are straightforward: Pilsner malts, along with three types of hops: German Perle, Slovenian Aurora and Styrian Golding Celia.  In addition, the brewers use their house Belgian yeast strain for the primary fermentation.  After that fermentation and a brief conditioning, the brewers then age the beer for several months in second-use bourbon barrels, which the brewers describe as giving the beer a soft, round character infused with nicely balanced oak flavors. Finally, the brewers bottle the beer flat and re-ferment it with blend of priming sugar, Pris de Mousse Champagne yeast and the wild yeast strain Brettanomyces Lambicus. And then the cavorting begins.  When all is said and done, the end result is natural carbonation. The beer is aged for almost a year (the cavorting takes a while) and then it is available for craft beer enthusiasts who like "a wonderfully complex earthy funk."  (That includes me.)

The Wild Streak pours a sort of hazy golden color, with a thick foam that recedes with time but never disappears.  The aromas initially reveal the bourbon barrels, with a combination of alcohol, bourbon and oak wood.  Those elements are accompanied by a little earth and grass.  The latter elements introduce the drinker to the funk to come in the taste.  

The earthy funk actually represents the outcome of a epic battle between two very strong flavor elements: the Brettanomyces and the bourbon barrels.  To some extent, the Brett struggles to overcome the bourbon barrels.  Other times, the bourbon barrels seemed to be overcome by the Brett.  There are other elements that also make an appearance, such as tart apple, pear, some citrus and a clear booziness that comes with a beer packing a 10% ABV.  Ultimately, the battle between the wild yeast and the bourbon barrels ultimately ends in a stalemate, as the overall taste of the beer provides a good combination of the wild yeast and bourbon barrels. At the end of the glass, I could not say that either the Brettanomyces or the bourbon barrels had outshined the other, both were represented well in the beer. 

The brewers suggest that the Wild Streak is "particularly great with cheese and game meats."  They particularly suggest washed rind cheeses.  This is an interesting suggestion, one that perhaps invites another battle between the funk of the beer and the funk of the washed cheeses.  

I found this beer at local grocery stores, and, a bottle sells for $23.99 (which is the same price as the Brooklyn Black Ops).  It is definitely worth the purchase, but only if you have a wild streak yourself.

ENJOY!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Turkey, Artichoke and Green Bean Paella

A while back, I made a Turkey Paella for Clare and her parents.  It was a wonderful combination of turkey thighs, turkey sausage, artichokes, roasted peppers and other ingredients.  Ever since that time, I have wanted to make a Paella for my parents.  Recently, when my parents were visiting us, I had the opportunity to make the dish for them.

I came across an article about Paella written by Mark Bittman, a food columnist for the New York Times magazine.  Bittman opened the article by noting that he had been accused of making arroz con cosas -- rice with things -- by the Catalans who lived near Valencia.  The accusation seemed serious, given Valencia is the home of paella.  It was also somewhat obnoxious, evincing an "air" that anything different that what may be produced over coals within the geographic boundaries of the Spanish is necessarily inferior.   

Mark Bittman appeared to be non-plussed by the critiques.  His response ... "paella really is just rice with things -- as is risotto, as is pilaf." 

More importantly, Bittman provides some useful insight and guidance into paella.  First, one needs rice, preferably short grain rice (such as risotto, but it should be Spanish bomba rice or Valencia rice).  Second, one needs olive oil.  Third, one needs vegetables.  After that, there are options.  The New York Times produced a very interesting graphic to depict the many options that are available to the cook:

This graphic is very helpful, although I did not follow it all for this paella.  Instead, I decided to make another turkey paella, but I decided to go a different direction with the recipe.  I found some grilled artichokes, which would help to provide some smoky flavors to the dish.  I also decided to use some green beans in place of peas.  The combination -- turkey, artichokes and green beans -- are all stuff my beautiful Angel loves to eat and, together, they made a great paella for my parents.

Bittman provides more advice.  He notes that water is most often used in paella, but stock is also acceptable.  Bittman suggests chicken stock or seafood stock.  While chicken stock would work, I found a turkey stock.  I felt that the turkey stock would help to deepen the turkey flavors in the stock.

Finally, Bittman notes that the one unusual aspect to paella is that the paella is not stirred.  The reason is that you want to achieve a browning of the bottom of the rice.  The Valencians have given a name to that browning ... "soccorat."  It is the signature feature of paella.  Bittman concludes, "should you achieve it, no one will say you've made arroz con cosas."

Needless to say, the Turkey, Artichoke and Green Bean Paella was excellent, except that I did not achieve that socarrat.  I guess that there is always the next time.


TURKEY, ARTICHOKE AND GREEN BEAN PAELLA
A Chef Bolek Original
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
2 1/2 pounds of turkey, cut into even sized, small pieces
1 pound of artichokes
1 pound of green beans
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 onion chopped
1 bell pepper minced
1 tomato, seeded and minced
1 garlic clove minced
2 cups of Spanish Bomba rice (or Arborio rice)
4 cups of turkey stock
1/2 cup of dry white wine
1 pinch saffron
1 bay leaf
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:
1.  Prepare the ingredients.  Heat the olive oil in a the paella pan.  Add the turkey in batches and cook until browned on all sides.  Remove and set aside.   Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the green beans.  Blanche the green beans for a few minutes and then remove to an ice bath to cool.  Drain and set aside.  Rinse the artichokes

2.  Make a sofrito.    Add the bell pepper, onion, tomato and garlic and cook until soft. 

3.  Add the main ingredients (other than the rice).   Add the turkey, artichokes and green beans to the pan.  Add the wine and allow it to reduce by half, about 1 minute.  Pour in the turkey stock and bring it to a boil.  While the stock comes to a boil, add the saffron to some hot water to rehydrate and then add the saffron and water to the pan, along with the bay leaf.  Season with salt. 

4.  Cook the rice.  Add the rice, taking care to spread it evenly around the pan.  Cook over medium-high heat without stirring until rice has absorbed most of the liquid, which should take about 15–20 minutes, although it may take longer.   Also, if you pan is like mine, which is larger than the burner, rotate the pan every few minutes to make sure that different parts of the paella are over the heat and the rice cooks evenly.)  Cook until the rice has absorbed the liquid and is al dente. Remove pan from heat, cover with aluminum foil, and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

ENJOY!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Bell's Hopslam Ale

I admit that I often struggle to describe beers in my beer reviews.  I spend a lot of time trying to create an image of the beer in the reader's mind.  Too often, I give up that endeavor and just write a rather ordinary review.  Other people apparently don't suffer from the same troubles as I do.  They have a much easier time creating an image that sticks with a reader long after the article -- and the beer -- has been finished.  And, for some, those descriptions come a little to easy.

For example, a production manager at a brewery described one of the brewer's most popular offerings in the following way: "[imagine] if you’d gone to the hop growers association 20 years ago and said, I’m going to have a beer that we make 4,000 barrels of one time a year. It flies off the shelf at damn near $20 a six-pack, and you know what it smells like? It smells like your cat ate your weed and then pissed in the Christmas tree."  I found this quotation in a post from Appellation Beer written by Stan Hieronymus, and, it comes from Bell's Production Manager, John Mallett.  According to Hieronymus, Mallett was decribing Bell's Hopslam Ale.

The Hopslam Ale is brewed in the style of a double Imperial Pale Ale.  The brewer uses six different hops to brew this beer, although Bells does not disclose the identity of the hops on its website.  The brewers do note the "massive dry-hop addition of Simcoe hops" as part of the brewing process, which results in what the brewers call the most complex hopping schedule of any beer in its repertoire.  

The obvious question is whether the beer "smells like your cat ate your weed and then pissed on your Christmas tree"?  To find out, I was fortunate enough to be given a bottle of Hopslam Ale from a friend.  The beer poured an amber, copper-orangish color.  A good thick foam appeared and stuck around for quite a while.  I let the beer rest for a moment and two, and, then I tried to discern the aromas.  Fortunately, the aromatic elements were closer to the description provided by the brewers -- "a pungent blend of grapefruit, stone fruit and floral notes -- than the description provided by the production manager.  (Although I should note that Mallett's description was given as part of the reason for the formation of the Hop Quality Group -- a non-profit organization that communicates brewers' interests in hop aromas and the changes to those aromas to farmers.) 

For me, there was that pungent blend of citrus and floral notes in the aroma of the Hopslam.  However, those notes were restrained somewhat by the sweetness that comes from the "generous malt bill" and the "solid dollop of honey" used to produce the beer.  The sweetness served as a frame for the hops, both with the aroma and the taste of the beer.   The taste included everything I would expect and enjoy with a double IPA, a strong punch of citrus that crosses over to provide some piney notes, but the honey coats those rather astringent and bitter elements and adds a complexity that is often missing from double IPAs. 

Overall, this is an excellent double IPA, which one would expect when you are paying almost $18.00 for a six pack. If you are lucky enough to see a six pack.  It seems that -- whether the smell is like a cat eating your weed and peeing on your Christmas tree or a pungent blend of grapefruit, stone fruit and floral notes -- those six packs sell very quickly.  If you come across a six-pack, or even one bottle, it is worth the price.

ENJOY!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Advieh-e Khoresh Spiced Chicken Kebabs

If there is one thing that amazes me about cooking, it is spice mixes.  I have made many recipes with different spice mixes that are as varied as the countries from which they originate.  Hawayil from Yemen.  Baharat from Egypt. Bzaar from Libya. Berbere from Ethiopia.  Creole spice from Louisiana.   Those are just some of the many spice mixes that I have made over the years.  

What is so intriguing about spice mixes is how they can represent a culture and its cuisine.    For example, there is Advieh.  It is a spice blend that is used primarily in Persian cuisine.  The mix traditionally consists of cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, cardamom and cumin.  It also contains a unique ingredient that I have not seen in a spice mix before ... dried rose petals.  That is definitely an ingredient that I have never worked with before.  (And, as explained below, I still have never worked with.)

Advieh is used by Persian cooks in a wide range of dishes, from rice dishes to chicken and bean dishes.  There are two traditional types of Advieh: (1) Advieh-e polo, which is sprinkled over a rice dish after the rice is cooked; and (2) Advieh-e Khoresh, which is a spice rub that is used for grilled or roasted meats.  I decided that I would make Advieh-e Khoresh and use it in a quintessential Persian dish ... chicken kebabs. 

Advieh represents what is great about spice mixes.  It is used in dishes from the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea; and, across that expanse, there are an endless variety of Advieh mixtures.  The mixtures contain all or most of the traditional ingredients listed above, but some may include cloves, turmeric, ginger, coriander, saffron, black pepper and/or mace.  The variations mean that you can make the mix several times and have a different result, with each result being as intriguing and tasty as the last one.

One final note.  The unique characteristic of Advieh is the use of dried rose petals.  That is not a very common ingredient in western stores.  If you can find a Mediterranean market, you might be able to obtain those petals.  I was not so fortunate.  Still, I wanted to make the recipe; so, I decided that I would make a substitution.  Rose water for rose petals.  I added a few drops of rose water (the stuff is pretty potent) in the oil when I prepared the marinade for the kebabs.  While I don't think it is the same as using rose petals, I think it is an acceptable effort to recreate the final result ... which was very delicious. 


ADVIEH-E KHORESH SPICED CHICKEN KEBABS
Spice Mix recipe from The Clothes Make the Girl
Serves 4

Ingredients (for the spice mix):
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground rose petals
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Ingredients (for the kebabs):
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into even size pieces
3/4 cup of olive oil

Directions:
1.  Make the spice mix.  Combine the cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, cardamom, rose petals (if you have them) and ground cumin.  Blend well with a fork or a spoon.

2.  Marinate the chicken.  Place the chicken in a storage bag.  Add the oil (and the drops of rose water, if you are using it as a substitute for rose petals).  Add the spice mix gradually, mixing it into the chicken and the olive oil.  Continue until all of the spice mix has been added to the storage bag.  Close the bag and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or as long as overnight.

3.  Prepare the kebabs.  Soak the skewers for at least an hour (this is not really necessary).  Skewer the chicken pieces, making sure each skewer has the same amount of chicken on it.

4.  Grill the kebabs.  Heat a grill to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Oil the grates and place the kebabs on the grill.  Grill for about seven to ten minutes on each side total, but rotate and turn the kebabs occasionally.  Remove from the heat and let rest for five minutes.

When you serve the kebabs, it is best to serve them with rice and a side, like Salad-e Shirazi, which is what I did for this meal. 

ENJOY!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Mushroom Bolognese

When one thinks of a Bolognese, it is a sauce made with onions, celery, tomatoes and cheese, with meat.  Beef, pork or lamb.  One never thinks of a vegetarian Bolognese and a vegan Bolognese gives me the shivers.  A true Bolognese has been on my short list of dishes to make.  However, because Clare does not eat beef, pork or lamb, that dish has to wait for a night when I am only cooking for myself.  

In the meantime, I decided that I would make a Bolognese recipe that Clare would eat.  I found a recipe by Sarah Grueneberg, a Top Chef contestant, which provided a good starting point.  The one thing that caught my attention was the use of a variety of ingredients at the outset ... not just onions, carrots and celery (which are usually found in Bolognese sauces), but also parsnips and turnips.   Grueneberg's recipe also calls for the use of dried porcini mushrooms and king oyster mushrooms.  The latter mushrooms are chopped with the vegetable mixture, while the former provide the "meat" in the dish.

I decided to alter the dish in a few ways.  First, there was the mushrooms.  Rather than use porcini and king oyster mushrooms, I used a combination of portobello, oyster and shiitake mushrooms.  I decided to use half with the vegetable mixture and keep half sliced to serve with the pasta.  The substitution of these mushrooms for the porcini created another issue.  This led to the second substitution.  Grueneberg relied upon the water from rehydrating the porcini for the sauce.  I needed something in place of that liquid.  This was not really a problem at all.  I used about 1 cup of vegetable stock in place of the porcini water.

The third substitution involves the pasta.  Grueneberg uses spaghetti in her recipe.  When it comes to a Bolognese, I think that a flat pasta is better, because it shows off all of the elements in the sauce.   Fettuccine would work well with this recipe; however, if you can find pappardelle, that is the pasta of choice.  Its wide flat noodles provide the most space for the Bolognese sauce to cling to the pasta. 

Finally, the recipe calls for the use of 1/2 cup of wine.  Given that I was making a Bolognese sauce, a wine from Emilia-Romagna -- the region where Bologna is located -- would have been the ideal choice.  I could not put my hands on a non-sparking wine from the region, such as a Sangiovese di Romagna.  So, I went with a Sangiovese wine that is a lot easier to find ... a Chianti Classico from Tuscany.


MUSHROOM BOLOGNESE
Adapted from a recipe by Sarah Grueneberg 
and available at Food & Wine
and some other recipes

Ingredients:
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
1 celery rib, coarsely chopped
1 medium parsnip, chopped
1/2 small turnip, chopped
3 ounces of shiitake mushrooms, sliced
4 ounces of portobello mushrooms, sliced
3 ounces of oyster mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry red wine (preferably Sangiovese)
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Pinch of crushed red pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon minced rosemary
1 1/2 pounds of pappardelle (or fettuccine)
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter

Directions:
1. Prepare the vegetable base.  Pulse the onion, carrot, celery, parsnip, turnip and one-half of the mushrooms in a food processor until finely chopped  In a large pot, heat the oil.  Add the vegetables, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 20 minutes. 

2. Make the Bolognese sauce.  Add the sliced mushrooms and cook until fragrant, about 5 to 10 minutes.  Add the wine and red pepper, and cook until the wine evaporates.  Add the vegetable stock, cover partially and cook over low heat, stirring until thick, about another 25 minutes.  Add the cream, rosemary and 1/4 cup of grated cheese and simmer for 5 minutes. 

3. Cook the pasta.  Heat a pot with salted water until it boils.  Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package.  (Generally, dried pasta takes several minutes while fresh pasta only takes about 1 to 2 minutes.)

4.  Finish the dish.  Add the warm pasta, butter and 1 cup of water to the sauce and toss, stirring until the pasta is well coated.  Serve immediately.

ENJOY!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Skouras Anassa (2012)

It can be a little daunting when it comes to Greek wine.  For starters, There is some degree of intimidation in the names of the grapes. Agiorghitiko. Mavrodaphne. Tsaoussi.  Moschofilero.  Those names have often left my tongue tied.  When I was recently making Galopoúla me Dendrolivano for my beautiful Angel, I needed a Greek wine to use in the dish (and, of course, to pair with afterwards).  I perused the Greek wine at a local grocery store and found the Skouras Anassa, which is a blend of a familiar grape and a less familiar one.

Skouras started in 1986 in Pyrgela, Aros, and it has worked with both indigenous and international grape varietals.  The Anassa represents that combination of local and international, because it is a blend of 70% Moschofilero and 30% Viognier.  The emphasis on Moschofilero provides this wine with its Greek character, as that grape is well known for its floral aromas and spicy tones, while the Viognier contributes some fruit, such as pears and peaches, as well as minerality to the taste of the wine.

When it comes to Anassa, it pours a very light, pale color.  The wine is described as being a medium bodied white wine with  aromas of ripe apricot, citrus and orange peel, finishing with a clean, crisp finish.  As for myself, I could sense the citrus and even some apple in the aroma.  Those apples carry over to the taste of the wine, which also included bright lemons and some slate.  The citrus somewhat mellowed as the wine warmed up, leaving the minerality (that is, the slate) to shine through as the finish brings a tart bite on the tongue.  

When it comes to pairings, this wine works very well with poultry, such as the Galopoúla me Dendrolivano (Rosemary Turkey) or Katapoulo me Dendrolivano (Rosemary Chicken).  I think that it would also work well with a variety of seafood dishes, which are plentiful in Greek cuisine.  

I found this wine at a local grocery store.  It sells for about $10.99 a bottle.

ENJOY!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Galopoúla me Dendrolivano

When looking for a recipe to cook, there has been one that always seems to appear in my searches ... Kotopoulo me Dendrolivano or Rosemary Chicken.  It is a relatively simple recipe from Saveur and it uses one of my favorite herbs, namely, rosemary.  However, I always had one obstacle ... my beautiful Angel, Clare, does not eat chicken.  I would set the recipe aside for a night when I would be cooking for myself and I would continue to look for something that I could cook and that Clare would eat.

One day I came across the recipe again, and, this time I decided to make it.  Rather than use chicken, I decided to make it with turkey, which Clare does eat.  So the recipe went from Kotopoulo me Dendrolivano (Rosemary Chicken) to Galopoúla me Dendrolivano (Rosemary Turkey).  (Please note I am not a native Greek speaker, so excuse me if I got the translation wrong.)  At long last, I would be making this recipe.

If I was making Kotopoulo me Dendrolivano, I would be looking for bone-in chicken quarters, consisting of both the thigh and leg.  Most supermarkets carry chicken broken down in that fashion.  Those markets do not usually carry turkey quarters.  It is usually a choice between legs or thighs.  Rather than make that choice, I went in a completely different direction.  I chose turkey cutlets. 

This  choice created some additional work.  First, I needed to do something to ensure that the cutlets, which come from the breast, would not dry out during cooking.  Second, I needed to revise all of the cooking times because, if I followed the times for cooking the kotopoulo, I would have wooden galopoúla that could have used to build triremes.  So, I decided that I would do a short and quick brine to help add some moisture to the cutlets.  I found a recipe that called for 1/4 cup of salt in 2 cups of water and used that as a rough guide.  Although the recipe called for the cutlets to remain in the brine for 3 hours or overnight, I just did it for a little more than one hour.  Three hours would probably have worked better, but overnight would have meant that we would have gone without dinner.

Once the cutlets were removed from the brine and patted dry, I turned to the remainder of the additional work.  The recipe called for braising the protein in the oven for at least 45 minutes. If I cooked the cutlets for this long, I would once again find myself cooking turkey planks better suited for purposes other than eating. (Remember those triremes?)  I decided to cut the cooking time by two-thirds and even a little more, reducing the braising time from 45 minutes to 10 to 15 minutes.  I also decided to do the braising on the stovetop in a covered pan rather than in the oven.  This is important because it allowed to watch the turkey and check it to ensure that it did not dry out.

One last note, the recipe calls for 1 cup of wine to be used to make the pan sauce.  When I make a recipe from a wine-producing country or culture, I try to use a wine that local cooks could have used.  In this case, I found a bottle of Skouras Anassa (2012), a blend of Viognier and Moschofilero, that sold for about $9.99.  The wine worked very well and made a great pairing for the dish.


GALOPOULA ME DENDROLIVANO
Recipe adapted from Saveur
Serves 2-4

Ingredients:
4 turkey cutlets
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup flour, for dredging
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup white wine
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 fresh bay leaves
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup of sea salt
2 cups of water

Directions:
1.  Brine the turkey.   Dissolve the 1/4 cup of sea salt in 2 cups of water in a large bowl.  Place the turkey cutlets in the water and make sure that they are completely submerged.  Cover the bowl and place it in the refrigerator for at least 1 to 2 hours, but 3 hours or more would be better.  When the brine is finished, drain the cutlets and blot them well to dry them.

2.  Prepare the brined turkey.  Season turkey generously with salt and pepper.  Put flour on a plate and dredge turkey in flour to coat, shaking off excess.  Heat oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium high heat.  Add turkey and cook, turning once until browned, about 5 minutes.  Add wine, rosemary and bay leaves.  Return the pan to the heat until the wine is reduced by half, about 2 minutes.  Add 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups of water and bring to a boil.

3.  Braise the cutlets.  Cover the pan and cook until the turkey is tender, about ten to fifteen minutes.  Uncover and stir in lemon juice.

4.  Plate the dish.  Place one to two cutlets on a dish and spoon the pan sauce over the turkey.

This was a great dish and I will definitely make it again ... perhaps I will also make Kotopoulo me Demrolivano as well.  Until then ...

ENJOY!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Conway's Irish Ale

According to the Oxford Companion of Beer, it was first called "Enniscorthy Ruby Ale."  The "ruby ale" was brewed by the Lett's Brewery in County Wexford, Ireland.  Owned by the Killian family, Lett's Brewery produced the ruby ale until the 1950s, when the brewery closed and they sold the rights to market the beer under the George Killian brand.  Those rights ultimately were purchased by Coors, who produced the Killian's Irish Red Ale.  (The Killian's Irish Red Ale also happens to be the first beer that I ever drank.)  That gave rise to the name "Irish Red Ale," as well as the beer named after George Killian, which became one of the most popular beers since Coors began brewing it in 1981.

Fortunately, for craft beer lovers, there is another Irish Red Ale named after someone.  This particular beer is named after Patrick Conway.  "Pa Conway" was the grandfather of Pat and Dan Conway, who are the co-owners of Great Lakes Brewing Company.  Patrick Conway was a Cleveland who directed traffic for 25 years near the brewery and who is described as a "meat and potatoes" kind of guy, which seems like a good inspiration for an Irish Red Ale.

Brewed with Harrington 2 Row Base Malt and Crystal 77 malts, along with Northern Brewer, Mt. Hood and Willamette hops, the Conway Irish Ale is an excellent representation of the Irish Red Ale style.  Returning to the Oxford Companion of Beer, the style is characterized by its color and malt profile, which typically includes caramel and/or toffee like sweetness.  The roasted malts provide a dry finish with a slight hint of bitterness.  Pours reddish orange in color.  biscuit, toast, bready aromas.  Caramel in taste.  Hint of hops in the background.

The Conway's Irish Ale pours a reddish-orange color, with a foam that quickly recedes to the edges of the beer.  The aromas are a little bready or biscuity, provided by the malts with little to no hop elements.  As for the taste, those bread-like and biscuit-like characteristics carry through and are at the forefront.  Some sweetness, like a caramel or molasses, is also present, but it gives way to the dryness that one expects in the finish of an Irish Red Ale.

As one would expect, the brewers at Great Lakes suggest that the Conway's Irish Ale pairs well with corned beef, shepherd's pie, and any meat or vegetable stews.  This beer would pair well with a lot of other dishes, including grilled or braised meats and vegetables, as well as other earthy or hearty dishes.  Bottom line, when it comes to pairing, think Pa Conway and his "meat and potatoes." 

Great Lakes Brewery released the beer earlier this year and it can be found for about $9.99 a six pack at any store that sells Great Lakes beer. 

Happy St. Patrick's Day and ...

ENJOY!
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