Archives for posts with tag: chocolate

So on my diet, I can thankfully drink as much tea and coffee as I want. I was recently in California for work and the hotel I was staying at had sachets of Harney &Sons teas in the room. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I used to drink their English Breakfast Tea. The tea I had at the hotel in Monterey was their Earl Grey Supreme. I’m a big fan of Earl Grey and this is a great example of a wonderful flavor combo.

When I got home I hopped on Amazon (be careful if you use Prime because you MIGHT get better prices direct from Harney & Sons’ website…) and ordered some of their chocolate and coconut flavored SOHO tea as well as a box of 50 bags of their Hot Cinnamon Spice.

The SOHO is good. Smells stronger than it tastes, and the flavor is pretty good. Not something I’d want to drink all the time, and I’ll bet it would be good with a splash of cream, but for dieters who need a little chocolate fix, it does the job without cheating.

The Hot Cinnamon Spice is another story altogether. First of all, it smells UNBELIEVABLE! The aroma is so great, pure cinnamon delight. I was surprised about how sweet it tastes, coming from naturally sweet Sweet Clove. I love this tea! It’s warm, flavorful and sweet without any sweeteners actually being in it. This could EASILY be an everyday afternoon tea for me. It is just great!

I’m a big fan of Harney & Sons, now. I’ll be ordering more Hot Cinnamon and some Earl Grey Supreme and I want to try their smoked green tea… And with hundreds of tea varieties I think I have years of experimentation ahead of me with this brand! Yum!

When I lived in Michigan, I was five minutes away (by foot) from the New Holland Brewing Co. brewpub, an hour from Founders and maybe 90 minutes from Bell’s. Michigan had an incredible brewing scene and four years after leaving it’s even better! I miss it, but luckily we’re able to get a lot of Michigan beers here in Kansas City. Good thing!

Founders makes excellent beers. Period. I guess you can stop reading now! They got their start brewing at the same time as the guys who started New Holland… they were in the same fraternity at Hope College and they all homebrewed together. The founders of NHBC stayed in Holland, MI and the buys from Founders went to Grand Rapids and they both make great beers.

Founders is probably most famous for this one, their Breakfast Stout, and it’s bourbon barrel-aged sibling, Kentucky Breakfast Stout (which is a much more limited release and a lot harder to find). Breakfast Stout comes in a 4-pack for around $10 or so. If you see it, buy it. You’ll love it.

To get the details out of the way, Breakfast Stout is 8.3% ABV with 60IBU’s and it is considered an imperial or “double” stout. Because of it’s name, I’m having it as a quasi-breakfast on this glorious work-free Friday (although it is 10:51AM, so I’m not breaking too many taboos). The beer pours black and thick and it has a nice dark tan head that is about like shaving foam from a can (shudder the thought). It looks a lot like the crema¬†on a good espresso shot.

Breakfast Stout gets its name from the fact that it is a stout with all the stuff in it people love for breakfast: coffee (essential), oatmeal (yum!) and chocolate (sugary cereals, chocolate donuts, the breakfast of champions). These are all things that are commonly added to stouts to begin with, so to find all three in one beer is genius. I guess they could’ve added lactose to make it a milk stout, too, but they must’ve had good reason not too.

The aroma is awesome on this beer. For once my nose seems to be working, and if it’s going to work I’m grateful it’s on this beer! There is nice roastiness on the background, but the main aromas I get are coffee and semi-sweet chocolate. It’s one of those beers I’d be happy just smelling for a while! Oh, and as with most beers, particularly stouts, my preference is to drink these at warmer temps. I probably had the Breakfast Stout sitting out of the fridge for a good 35 minutes before pouring. Your mileage may vary.

Now, to preface this review, I haven’t had a beer in about a month (one at BWW doesn’t count because it was Bud Lite) and I’ve been on a REALLY good diet with no sugar, wheat, alcohol, etc. This is a super treat for me. I may be more excited that I should be! Now, at this warmer temperature I can definitely get some of the alcohol, so I may have it 10 degrees too warm or so. The aftertaste is slightly astringent, giving a slight dryness to my mouth about 30-40 seconds after swallowing, and there is a nice lingering bitterness that is hard to know whether to attribute it to the hops (mainly in the beer for balance) or the roasted components.

The sip is very complex. Chocolate (but bitter chocolate, not sweet) is on the front end and carries through about 75% of the sip. Right after sipping a big wave of bitterness (I think from the coffee component and the roasted malts) that is accentuated by alcohol (again I think I let this warm up too much, but I like it like this) warming hits, then the aftermath of that big wave carries out for a long aftertaste of cocoa powder, slight chalkiness and lingering roasty bitterness.

I don’t know if that sounds good, but it is! I can see now why they didn’t add lactose to make this a milk stout, too. Lactose is an unfermentable sugar, so it stays in the bottle and sweetens the beer without being converted to alcohol by the yeast. Left Hand’s Milk Stout is my favorite example of “milk stouts” (because lactose is a sugar found in milk) or sweet stouts, and it is AWESOME, too. But, I think adding a lot of sweetness would take away from this beer.

The mouthfeel is great. Oatmeal added to beers creates a slick, smooth mouthfeel, and some people can taste the oatmeal on beers, but I don’t think I can. It does make a really rich, full mouthfeel that I always enjoy. The chocolate and coffee are really nicely balanced and the alcohol is a tad hot, but that’s more my mistake than a problem with the beer.

The astringency on this is pretty heavy, more like a porter, with a pronounced drying effect on my tongue and cheeks, so it makes me want to sip more frequently! This is a big beer and I think it is complex enough to make me suggest drinking it by itself. Of course it would go great with all the typical desserts, but this would do well as dessert in and of itself.

Breakfast Stout ranks up there with Bell’s Expedition Stout as one of my favorite imperial stouts and it is world-famous for a reason. Get some!

coasterbeer-5“Brewer’s Lunchbox” is a sampler 12-pack from Fort Collins Brewery in, you guessed it, Fort Collins, CO. Fort Collins seems like a great place to go for beer… you have this brwery, New Belgium, O’Dell’s… yum!

My “lunchbox” contained 2 each of Major Tom’s Pomegranate Wheat, Rocky Mountain IPA, Kidd Lager, Z Lager, Retro Red and Chocolate Stout. My first sample of a Fort Collins beer was at 2008 Beerfest in Kansas City and I’ve been eyeballing this sampler at Lukas Liquors ever since, so I finally bit the bullet the other day and bought it.

So far, I will say that every beer I’ve had from my “lunchbox” has been a gusher! They must all be bottle-conditioned beers because when I pop the top I lose about 1/4 of the beer as it explodes all over the place! Once things calm down, what’s left in the glass is pretty good beer.

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The Chocolate Stout was my first Fort Collins beer. It’s about 5% ABV and has a strong chocolate flavor from the malt, with a nice roasty component and a touch of hops. I think bringing this up to around 55-60 degrees will give you more of the flavor you’re looking for. This pairs well with good quality vanilla ice cream and especially with chocolate desserts!

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The Z Lager was next on the list. I had no idea what to expect, and obviously didn’t read the label, as I was surprised that it is a smoked beer. At about 5.5% ABV, the Z Lager is in the style of a German rauchbier, a style that dates back to 16th century Bamberg. Rauchbiers are made from malts that are dried over a beechwood fire, giving the malt a smoky flavor. The only other rauchbier I’ve had is New Holland Brewing Company’s on-tap-only Rauch Hatter, a smoked version of their IPA, Mad Hatter. I’m not the hugest fan of smoked beers in general, although I’ve never paired one up with food, which I think would be a good idea. That said, I like the flavors in Z Lager, and I think they’d pair up well with some good Kansas City barbecue.

l104008-10222003-880Fort Collins’ Retro Red is a 5% ABV red/amber with a surprising flavor profile. I generally steer clear of “amber” beers as the style is so widely varied and, in my experience, often contains mediocre selections. Retro Red is a nice, full-bodied and well-rounded beer, though. Tettnang hops give Retro Red a nice hop aroma and slight bitterness while crystal malts provide a nutty and toasty flavor reminiscent of the Goose Island Nut Brown Ale I’ve been drinking lately. Retro Red would go great with a variety of foods, and the carbonation is enough to help scrub the palate of some higher fat dishes, too. This would be worthy of keeping a 6-pack of in the fridge.

Finally, the only other beer I’ve had from the lunchbox is the IPA. I was not terribly impressed by this IPA, but in all fairness I was drinking it from the bottle at a party last night, so before I pass judgment on Rocky Mountain IPA, I feel like I should do it justice by devoting some time (and at least a glass!) to it at a later time.

312351148_457af472082I spotted O’Fallon’s Cherry Chocolate seasonal beer at Gomer’s in Westport the other day. I don’t know much about the brewery other than it is over by St. Louis. I think the only other O’Fallon I’ve had was their Smoke beer, and I just am finding out that I’m not the hugest smoked beer fan as none of them seem to hit me just right.

Anyway, this was more of a purchase for my girlfriend than myself, but I don’t mind a fruity, flavored beer from time to time. In my mind I was thinking this beer was probably going to be a stout made from chocolate malts and with some tart cherry in it, along the lines of Bell’s excellent¬†Cherry Stout, a beer I enjoy very much on the few occasions I get to have it.

To my dismay, the O’Fallon’s Cherry Chocolate is definitely not a stout and definitely not in the league with Bell’s beer. It is a wheat beer with chocolate and cherry extracts dumped in to give it a very synthetic flavor. I can drink it, but it’s not something I really want nor will I ever buy it again. Thankfully my girlfriend really likes it, so the money was not wasted on it, but I would steer clear of this beer if I were you! If you’re in the mood for a cherry beer, go with cherry Lambic, Bell’s Cherry Stout, or something like Three Philosophers from Ommegang, all of which are top notch and wonderful beers.