Trader Joe’s Vintage Ale 2012 and Further Elf on the Shelf Shenanigans

Next up, Trader Joe’s Vintage Ale 2012 (brewed and bottled by Unibroue):

photo (91)

Unexpectedly, my Tröegs Mad Elf review ended up pretty popular. I think this was mostly due to the coke-snorting and Bacardi-swigging Elf on the Shelf pics. I clearly underestimated how sick you people really are. So, since I am nothing if not a traffic whore, I give you more naughty Elf on the Shelf.

Here is Elf on the Shelf celebrating the Colorado Governor signing into law Amendment 64:

You have to admire his DIY initiative.

You have to admire his DIY initiative.

And here is Elf proving that child-proof veterinary prescription bottles are not elf-proof:

photo (93)Now, with that out of the way…every year Unibroue brews and bottles a holiday beer for Trader Joe’s. Each year seems to be slightly different. Here is the review for the 2011, which tasted pretty Coca Cola-y. Also of note, in the review I make fun of French-Canadians…but who doesn’t really.

It pours dark brown…chestnut, I suppose, if you’re feeling festive. It has a tight, tan head that recedes begrudgingly to leave a ring and thin layer. It smells like ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. There is a hint of Coke, too, but not nearly as much as last year. It tastes like some moderately zippy gingerbread, and it has a tell-tale fruity and spicy Unibroue house yeast flavor to it. Carbonation is moderately high, but that’s not out of sorts for a Belgian Dark Ale. And it finishes pretty clean with a little licorice lingering around like the last Christmas party guest to leave, but they help with the dishes, so it’s cool.

It’s pretty good, especially for the price. And it’s definitely better than last year’s…or at least a little more complex.

The Haybag (from her shot glass-sized pregnancy portion): Gah. The carbonation is too much, it’s killing my heartburn. My advice to any pregnant readers: Don’t drink this.

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Thanksgiving Lineup: money where my mouth is.

Here is the beerbecue Thanksgiving starting lineup:

We stuck to the Thanksgiving-friendly styles, and branched-out to two beers we hadn’t quaffed before.  They are as follows:

Unibroue La Fin Du Monde; St. Feuillien Saison (first-time); Schlafly Biere De Garde (first-time, although the Haybag swears we have had it); Oskar Blues Old Chub; and the Haybag went all rogue for dessert with Dogfish Head Bitches Brew (3 parts imperial stout and 1 part honey beer with gesho root) for dessert.

What’s your Turkey Day lineup (beer, wine, shots, straight from the bottle)?

Subsequent Editor’s Note: Don’t drink Schlafly Biere de Garde with Thanksgiving dinner.  I loved it on its own, but with Thanksgiving food it turned evil.  Stick to their pairing suggestions on the bottle (fruit, cheese, cured meats).

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”.