Shakespeare in Beer

Ms. Tierney Pomone from Stouts & Stilettos reached out to me and offered the opportunity to do a beer review together. What you see here is our first She Said/He Said Beer Review. We took a stab at Kettleface by Columbia Kettle Works and St. Boniface Brewing Co. 

Be sure to follow Tierney on twitter and bookmark her very nice website.

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Tierney, Kettleface and Shakespeare

Tierney: So, not every day is perfect, and most days are nowhere close to it. This is sometimes why we find ourselves drinking. While certainly not the best coping mechanism, there’s truly an art to taking the edge off a bit while distracting yourself with ‘The People of Happy Hour’ and chatting with your local bartender.

Today I took advantage of this solace directly across the street at the Midtown Tavern. I enjoyed a few Nugget Nectars, a few chicken wings, and the company of at first no one at all, then a good friend, then once again my own solitude.

Tonight was the perfect moment to dive into Kettleface. I’m feeling perfectly honest and also hopeful that once I crack this can I’ll continue to find comfort in a delicious brew.

Since it’s in a can, and called Kettleface, I obviously must drink it direct from the can to my face right? Well, I want to see its color and get a bit of the aroma, so I did pour a small amount into a small snifter for judgment. It’s a deep amber color, and the aroma is very bready, almost biscuity.

Okay, maybe the Nugget is interfering. I just went and drank some water, grabbed a few carrots from the fridge, and queued up some Netflix. Ah Shakespeare in Love, an old favorite. Let’s enjoy this beer with Joseph Fiennes on the tv.

So, I dig into Kettleface, and it was not what I expected. The can tells me it’s a double dry-hopped Imperial Red Ale. Sweet, can’t wait to dig into this hopped up red! Okay wait, at first taste that’s not what’s happening. It’s super grainy. Hang on, more water, more carrots, let’s watch more movie and come back.

Wait wait wait. Untappd says this is 9.2% ABV? My can doesn’t say that! Pretty sure you have to put that somewhere on the label, but okay, here we go. So some of the hops are coming through now, maybe I was just expecting the wrong hop flavor? It says there are Simcoe and Centennial – the less aggressive flavor makes more sense now. Going into a beer blind will give you the most honest outcome, and I’m glad I knew next to nothing about this before opening.

I watched a little more movie and waited for it to warm, hoping this would make it easier to decipher the flavors. 20 minutes into the movie, 20 minutes into this beer. The hops are coming forward, but not in a way I wanted them too. This beer is getting bitter now, but still paired with that grainy flavor I just can’t shake. I don’t know what to do, I don’t really like it. I really want to like it, I don’t want to give up!

“Stage love will never be true love” alas they are right, as I don’t love this beer, and don’t want to pretend that I do. I don’t want to drink the rest. It’s so bitter yet grainy. It’s everything I don’t love in a beer. Parting is such sweet sorrow dear Kettleface, but you were fated for someone else…

Bearcat:

/cracks open Kettleface

//opens email

 ///sips

Hmmm… “The Lady doth protest too much” or not enough. I have known you long enough to know that you don’t like it. Extra points to you for “an honest tale speeds best, being plainly told.” Yet I will ask you to drink it again and see if you remain unimpressed.

I very much like this beer but my biases are all on display here. Columbia Kettle Works is as close to a neighborhood brewery as I am ever going to get. I like their beers and mostly I cheer them on as they make slow steady improvements and growth. So T and dear reader, know that “love is blind, and lovers cannot see”.

I think if you put Nugget Nectar and Kettleface side-by-side you are going to see disappointment as they are in some ways similar but the Nugget Nectar is far more devoted to the hop. Kettleface is not a hop bomb; something to which we have come accustomed.

I like the bitterness as it warms slightly. I think it helps to broaden the flavor profile but it can be off-putting as the beer reaches room temperature. Some beers really open up as they reach this state and improve. Kettleface is best served cool or cold and in that sense, the pounder may do it some disservice.

As You Like It straight from the can, I do think you may have cut off some of the aromas and some nuance from the volatile elements. I love drinking beers from the can but in the glass, this beer was quaffable and did not linger. For me… when it comes to this beer, “I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it” and maybe “my love’s more richer than my tongue.”

I do think this is a great beer but my biases are all out there.  “Above all; To thine own self be true…” this beer may not be for you.

Yes, it is a bit bitter but I will leave you with one last Shakespeare quote: “The course of true love never did run smooth”.

Bread, Milk, and Eggs

No Fry… What you really need is beer.

An impending snow storm is descending upon the Northeast and in my area we are looking to get at least a foot of snow.  That means everyone is running out to get the three necessary food items before huddling inside:  Bread. Milk. Eggs.

But beer drinkers have their own unique needs and I have three for you.

Bread: Toaster Pastry by 21st Amendment is an India Style Red Ale brewed to celebrate their big expansion into a former bakery that made toaster pastries (read: Pop Tarts).  I had this beer about a month ago.  It is hard to find and it was a little on the pricey side but worth every penny. 21st Amendment uses biscuit malts that gave the beer a great bready flavor. Balanced between malty and sweet juicy hops left me in love with this beer.  The mouth feel was thick with a great long finish.  Toaster Pastry is an absolute killer.

Milk:  Lancaster Milk Stout by Lancaster Brewing Company.  I feel like in the Central PA beer scene the folks at LBC sometimes gets forgotten.  LBC has been around making great local craft beer for so long now that they easily get forgotten among a culture that puts a high price on “new.”  This beer, LBC Milk Stout, has been standout for a great Lanacster brewery for years and I every time I have one I wonder why I don’t order these more often.  Hints of chocolate and coffee, but it is really all about the thick and creamy mouthfeel.  A slight sweetness comes in the finish to compliment the pleasantly bitter notes from the front.  It’s a great example of how to properly brew a milk stout and properly represents the brewery’s namesake, Lancaster County.

Eggs:  The Martians Kidnapped Santa Egg Nog Stout by Spring House Brewing Company is a sweet stout and one of my favorite beers in Lancaster County. Spring House has a knack for making great stouts. I think they have a great stout base and that they play off this with an impressive number of variations, each one better than the last. Kerplunk! Coffee Stout, Satan’s Bake Sale Mint Chocolate Chip Stout, the transcendent Blood Lust RIS, and the twin killers Big and Lil’ Gruesome Stout.  Martians Kidnapped Santa is still available at Spring House and in the Central PA area.  If you have yet to enjoy some this year, get on it as it is a fantastic winter stout.  The flavors of heavy cream, vanilla, nutmeg with a whiff of cinnamon come through from nose to finish.

If you can’t find any of the above or want the easy choice, grab a case of my absolute favorite Central PA beer, Nugget Nectar (in the cans).  Nothing will beat tilting a couple of these back with a bowl of chili after shoveling the drive way.

Now, have a beer and enjoy the snow…