August/September Madness?! NCAA Beer Brackets finally completed

Finally: The completion to NCAA Beer Madness from back in March. I’m sure everyone was waiting with baited breath. In any case, this clearly illustrates why I’m not fit to be in charge of anything.

Dangermenparenting hunted down the finalist beers and brought them over one evening after our daughters spent the afternoon terrorizing the neighborhood pool. So much time had passed from the first round of the tournament that, due to beer emergency, or mere thirst, all of the original beers had long been consumed.  So, without further adieu, we have:

Port City Porter vs. Uinta Hop Notch
Port City Porter got here by trouncing Abita Save Our Shores Pilsner in the first round. And Uinta Hop Notch had an easy first round draw against one of my only Lagunitas disappointments: Cappuccino Stout.

Port City Porter is not too sweet, not too dry. And it’s subtle, with chocolate, light notes of coffee, cream, and a light kiss of hops. One of my favorite porters. It flops its big hairy toe into the Stout category in some ways, but I don’t think enough so to book it (if I were the type of style-Nazi who was so inclined to do so).

I have given Uinta Hop Notch chance-after-chance. Each time I am cautiously optimistic from the tropical hop aroma. Then I taste it and it’s a little creamy, which I like in IPAs, but the hop flavor has never fully delivered for me.

Beerbecue: Port City 60, Uinta Hop Notch 40.
Dangermenparenting: Port City 60, Uinta Hop Notch 40.

Southern Tier 2X Stout vs. Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald
Southern Tier came out of the first round with a surprise victory against Nugget Nectar. This still has me bitter. And Edmund Fitzgerald soundly defeated Sixpoint Bengali Tiger.

The 2X Stout smells like double chocolate milk. It’s sweet, but not nearly as sweet as the nose lets on. Chocolate with a little coffee come out to play. There’s some roasty, smoky business up in there, and some nice hop character, too. It’s surprisingly complex.

I don’t get as jacked-up about Edmund Fitzgerald as some (namely people from Ohio). I think it’s a good, drinkable porter.

Now, I clearly prefer the 2X Stout (especially for breakfast), but I am not going to beer bong it or haul off and drain a couple on a hot day. Edmund Fitzgerald might be better suited to those purposes. But since I’m too old for beer bonging anymore…

Beerbecue: Southern Tier 51, Great Lakes 49.
Dangermenparenting: Southern Tier 53, Great Lakes 47.

FINAL: Port City Porter vs. Southern Tier 2X Stout

Beerbecue: Port City 55, Southern Tier 45.
Dangermenparenting: Port City 51, Southern Tier 49.

Blatant homerism, people. Plus, I have said it a million times: Port City Porter is better than a Benihana chef on the SP-12.

And in the consolation match for third place, Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald took out Uinta Hop Notch, by a wide margin. Although this mismatch demonstrated the weakness in our scoring system (percentage of time you would get one vs. the other). Although, unless you only matchup like styles in a shootout like this, you are going to run into this problem.

Maybe we’ll try this again next year. And we’ll shoot to finish before August/September.

You can see dangermenparenting’s March Madness finale post here.

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NCAA First Round Beer Madness

I am blowing off work today to eat BBQ, drink beer, and watch the first round of the NCAA Tournament with dangermenparenting. He, quite nobly, actually worked a half-day. But, at the Haybag’s request, I steam-cleaned our rugs. That’s what I call banking some marital equity; and that means dangermenparenting is starting out underwater, and I’m starting off with some equity to burn.

I updated this post periodically through the day, uncut and uncensored. You can read Tony’s at dangermenparenting here.

1:15: We met up at Pork Barrel BBQ in Del Ray. I was late because of a motorcade…or the cop was just being a dick and not letting me on 395. The BBQ was OK. Had pulled pork and brisket. Even at the edges, the crust and smoke ring were only mildly tasty. Overall pretty dull tasting. The sauce is tasty, though. And the sides pretty dang good. Nowhere near my favorite South Carolina place, and my BBQ is way better; but these guys have to crank out some serious amounts of meat. So I can understand. Had a Miller High Life. Don’t judge.

1:30: Scoring system is set. Since we are going to have mismatches, the standard is: What percentage of time would you have Beer A vs. Beer B?

2:15:  The brackets are set:
EAST: Tröegs Nugget Nectar vs. Southern Tier 2 X Stout.

SOUTH: Port City Porter vs. Abita Save Our Shores Pilsner

WEST: UINTA Hop Notch IPA vs. Lagunitas Cappucino Stout

NORTH: Sixpoint Bengali Tiger vs. Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald

You might find these match-ups odd. We didn’t coordinate ahead of time ( only that we needed one from each region). This is what would happen in the first round if i was involved with setting the NCAA Tournament brackets: Montana vs. Long Beach State, Kentucky v UNC, and ND playing an intrasquad scrimmage (which I have a feeling is the only way my Irish would get to the second round).

2:30: East:

Nugget Nectar- It should be clear by now how I feel about Nugget Nectar. It’s awesome (despite the whole communist mind-control thing it’s got going on).

2XStout – It’s as dark as blaxpoitation flick, but not super oily. It smells like double chocolate milk. Not nearly as sweet as I thought it would be. In the taste, chocolate is there, but a surprising amount of coffee comes out to play. I am picking up some smokey chicory thing, too, and some nice hop character, too. I was expecting this to be a blowout, but I am going to have a tough time scoring this one.

Scores: Tröegs 52, Southern Tier 48, in OT. Tony had Southern Tier winning 57-43. Average has Southern Tier winning 52.5 – 47.5. Sorry Troegs…I still heart you. Perhaps it was that I had not had a good stout in awhile. I felt like Troegs could have gone deep but for its first round draw, and Tony being wrong. 🙂

2:53: South Matchup:

Abita donates 75 cents on every bottle to help save the environment. Hippies. 5 point deduction. Pours about like a mid-morning piss (you’ve had your coffee already, but not enough H2O), with way more head than a piss should have, regardless of the time of day. Tastes way better than I thought it would (not shocking, considering my first impression). It is fairly sweet for a pilsner. You can taste some floral and spicey hops, and it has a heftier mouthfeel than your usual pilsner. Had I bought this to purchase on a 102F day, I would be a little pissed because it isn’t exactly the most refreshing pilsner I have ever had.

Port City – My thoughts on Port City’s Porter are well-documented. It rocks. Not too sweet, not too dry. Subtle. Chocolate, light notes of coffee, creamy, and a light kiss of hops. One of my favorite porters.

Score: Port City Porter 75, Abita Pilsner 25. After Abita’s 5 point hippie deduction: Port City 80, Abita 20. Tony had Port City winning 78-22. Average: 79-21

3:18: West matchup:

Uinta Hop Notch IPA – I expected great things from this. I had heard someone call this the Pliny killer (Pliny the Elder), which seemed little dubious. This is very smooth, somewhat creamy. I think I am picking up citrus and some tropical fruits, and a slightly piney bitter finish. It is a solid IPA, but it is no hop-lover’s delight.

Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout – Pours much lighter than I thought it would. It’s almost like a dark Brown Ale, with red highlights. It smells nice: a pleasant coffee, with hints of chocolate. Tastes sweet and bitter with a funny sour aftertaste. I can’t tell if the bitterness is from the hops (about 30 IBUs) or the coffee. I think it must be the coffee. This is my least favorite Lagunitas beer (and Lagunitas is one of my favorite breweries). I am having a hard time figuring out when I would get this again. Perhaps if I found myself north of the Arctic Circle, delirious, unsure whether it was 9pm or 8am, all I had was beer, and I needed a little pick-me-up combined with a little coping mechanism for being north of the Arctic Circle. It could happen…

Score: Uinta 90, Lagunitas10. Lagunitas gets +10 for being one of my favorite breweries. 80-20. Tony had Uinta winning 66-34. Average had Uinta winning 78-22. I think Tony is an Anti-IPA-ite.

3:49: North Matchup:

Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter: This is new to the DC-area. I have heard great things about this beer, particularly from Ohio-based beer blogger behindthebrews. It’s dark, dark, dark brown, with amber highlights. Sturdy 1-inch head. Light coffee and bittersweet chocolate smell. Same with the taste, with maybe an addition of toasted malt and smokiness. This is an extremely drinkable porter. It doesn’t blow me away, but it is tasty and I could throw down many.

Six Point: Dull gold. Nice-looking, rocky-type IPA head. Looks pretty. Don’t smell much…some distant hops in the nose. The can claims: citrus, pine, and resin. I taste grassiness up front and citrusy-pine in the finish. It has a bitter aftertaste that isn’t worth the flavor down-payment. Therefore, this beer does not make it through my underwriting department. This is my second Six Point, and I was disappointed in both. I have seen a bit of hype around Six Point. Meh.

Score: Great Lakes 55, Six Point 45. Tony wants even numbers now, so I gave Great Lakes +1 point because they are from Cleveland, and they have a beer named after the time the Cuyahoga River caught on fire. So, 56-44. Tony had Great Lakes winning 86-14. Great Lakes won the average: 71-29

4:30: I haven’t paid much attention to the basketball thus far. I know Montana is getting their asses handed to them, and Syracuse is about to bust everyone’s bracket. I do know that the tournament would be better if they got to pick special tournament names, ND bookstore basketball tournament style…with no censors. Then the world would not be deprived of glorious names such as: Kentucky Harry Ballsagna, UNC Hung Dong Millionaires, Marquette Sofa King Awesome, UNLV How I Met Your Mother, Gonzaga Would You Please Stop the Bus and Let My Brother Jack Off.

Check back for the semi-final match-ups: Uinta vs Port City and Great Lakes vs Southern Tier.

Thanksgiving Beer Pairings: We be all classy ‘n s$%t

As I mentioned, dangermenparenting sent out the bat signal to beerbecue to come up with some good beers for Thanksgiving. That’s right…I said beer for Thanksgiving. What? Do you think Pilgrims and Indians had a bunch of Chateau Lafite Rothschild Bordeaux at the first Thanksgiving? That’s not what I learned in grade school. They had beer, dammit….and this:I received several suggestions from friends on past successes. I will try to give credit to them where possible. So, here we go..

We need something that can hang with heartiness, but not overpower earthy comfort. So for Thanksgiving, beerbecue says: screw the hop bombs for one day out of the year, and go with earthy, sweet, lightly spicy or fruity, or a combination thereof. There are several beers that can fit this bill, and I will throw a couple variations for turkey prep differences, and some dessert selections.

Pretty safe, but very tasty: Latch on to the sweet, earthy, and caramel with a Dogfish Head Indian Brown, a Brooklyn Brown, or, as Tom suggested, a good German Marzen. Or even go a little darker with New Belgium’s 1554 Enlightened Black Ale.

A little more adventurous: Belgian Tripels. These little beauties have a light to moderate sweetness, some fruit (like apple, banana, pear, or oranges), earthiness, and sometimes a slight peppery, clovey, or spicey flavor from the Belgian yeast. The carbonation does a good job of clearing the palate, but the high carbonation can turn some off…like the Haybag. Also, they usually manage to mask their high ABV, even though they aren’t correspondingly heavy. And we all know high ABV can help in dealing with in-laws.

Try any of the following tripels: Allagash (a suggestion from Tony (not the DMP Tony) in the comments to the previous post); Unibroue La Fin Du Monde; Westmalle, St. Bernardus, or even New Belgium’s Trippel, which is now pretty easy to find in the DC-area. Also, some sweeter variations include Gouden Carolus, Weyerbacher Merry Monks, and Green Flash Trippel.

Perhaps even more adventurous: Although typically a Spring and Summer beer, the Saison/Farmhouse style would work. These will be dry, earthy, spicy, crisp, and light-bodied. You can try Saison Dupont (see the poetic description from Tony on Beer Advocate that says its all). Or I can also vouch for Ommegang’s Hennepin. The Dupont has a passing, but typical, barn funk (wet earth and hay), that is worth giving a shot. The Hennepin, on the other hand, lacks da funk.

What funk? I don

Smoked turkey curveball: I think the above suggestions work for roasted or fried turkey. But for smoked turkey (like the beerbecue residence) you might could go for something to stand-up to and compliment the smoke, like Founder’s Dirty Bastard or Oskar Blues Old Chub.

Additional curiosities: Tom suggested Troeg’s Mad Elf (cloves, honey, and cherries…not a bad Turkey Day combo). Ommegang’s Three Philosophers has dark fruit, cherries, and brown sugar (slight sourness from the cherries). Tony suggested Brooklyner-Schneider Hopfen-Weisse, which apparently paired very well with a thyme-roasted chicken his wife made (I imagine the Schneider-Brooklyner Hopfen-Weisse would work well, too). And Chris suggested Guinness with a Jameson chaser, which gets the prize for most efficient.

Dessert: For dessert, you can go with Founder’s Breakfast Stout, Brooklyn Chocolate Stout, or any of Southern Tier’s Blackwater Series Imperial Stouts or their Backburner Barleywine. Alternatively, if you don’t want guests sleeping on your couch, you could try Tony’s “lighter” suggestions for dessert: Chimay Blue (fruit, spice, rich malt) or a Unibroue Noire de Chambly (fruits, spice, and slight chocolate).

Uncle Sal had the Chocolate Stout...and a Budweiser.

The Haybag: I give a thumbs up on those Browns. Also, even though ruling out hop bombs is blasphemy in this house, I think we are going to roll with Oskar Blues Old Chub to complement the smoked turkey. And I am cooking, so keep ’em coming, “Uncle Sal”.

Beer Review Smackdown (Barleywine edition): Southern Tier Backburner vs. Avery Hog Heaven

Next up, the Haybag and I pit two of our favorite barleywine style beers in a no-holds-barred cage match: Southern Tier Backburner vs. Avery Hog Heaven.  We have had each separately, but never close enough together to compare accurately.

Disclosure: The Haybag and I have a bit of a disagreement over who discovered Avery Hog Heaven.  She claims to have happened upon it at a bar, the name of which she has conveniently forgotten, while (surprise, surprise) out of town.  And I have no convincing story, but I still cling to its discovery like a hipster clings to that Deadmau5 show he attended in 2006…you know, before Deadmau5 went all mindie lamestream.  But we’re married. So she’s right.

Southern Tier

Look at me...all artsy 'n whatnot.

Me: Pours a nearly opaque mahogany. Smells like burnt caramel, molasses, and toffee, with a slight hint of a ripe hoppiness.  I thought I remembered this being hoppier, which is why I scheduled this death match. But this is shaping up to be more of an English-style barleywine (malty and wittty…with bad teeth).

Tastes like caramel, molasses, and toffee, with some dark, dried fruits (like dates and raisins and stuff).  Then you catch a pleasant and refined hoppiness at the end. Maybe it’s kind of English, with an American spin. Like a Canadian, but without all the self-conscious hang-ups about being culturally distinct from the US.

The Haybag: Very Good. Caramel and molasses for sure.  But I prefer my barelywines to be a bit hoppier.  Who the hell is Deadmau5?

Avery Hog Heaven

F U. I didn't pick the glass.

Me: Hog Heaven pours a cloudy, dark copper.  The smell is of resinous and pungent hops, with a sweet malt backbone.  Also, there seems to be a certain funk that reminds you that hops are in the Cannabaceae family…um, or so I’m told.

As for the taste: Like a mongol horde sewing salt in the fields, poisoning wells, and leaving no eye open to weap for the dead, Avery Hog Heaven lays waste to your tongue.  But if you love hops, your blubbering tastebuds will wimper sadistically for more.

It has a ripe orange and pineapple citrus hop flavor, with some grapefruit and piney hop notes thrown in just for the hell of it.  The well-balanced caramel maltiness (and maybe some dates or other such dark, dried fruit flavor) reminds you that it is a barleywine and not a Double IPA or Imperial Red. And as it warms, it turns from a warmongering hop barbarian to a purring, but naughty, lap kitty.

Meow.

The Haybag: Even better. This is my favorite barleywine. Did I mention that I discovered this beer? Hey, is this why we had to watch that show about Mongols the other night?

Conclusions

Drink both…unless hops bother you, in which case drink two Backburners.