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Posts Tagged ‘Pumpkin Ale’

Honey Of A Pumpkin Ale

October 26th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

You could go trick or treating for The Honey Pumpkin

Anne and I stopped by Dunedin Brewery late Sunday afternoon, on the way back from Tarpon Springs, to check out the latest beers on tap. I was pleased to see that they had a new offering from their Brewmaster’s Reserve series, and decided to order a pint.

Dundein Brewmaster’s Reserve The Honey Pumpkin (Dunedin Brewery; Dunedin, FL; Pumpkin Ale; ABV: 7.0?) is a smooth, spicy pumpkin ale. Deep amber in color, the big pumpkin nose is complimented by well balanced notes of pumpkin, honey, and cinnamon spices. I didn’t see an ABV listed for it, but I’m guessing The Honey Pumpkin is around 6-7%, comparable to Dogfish Punkin Ale which it reminded me a little of.

The Honey Pumpkin is an easy drinking beer perfect for Fall, and takes its place among this season’s best pumpkin ales.

Something To Wine About

October 14th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Punkin's spicy notes are brought out in a wine glass

I learned something new the other day. If you drink a pumpkin ale out of a wine glass, it really enhances the flavor of the beer. So I decided to put this theory to the test recently.

I ordered a Dogfish Punkin Ale (Dogfish Head Craft Brewery; Milton, DE; Pumpkin Ale; ABV: 7.0) with dinner at Lucky Pelican Bistro. Needless to say, Punkin’s flavors, especially the big notes of nutmeg and cinnamon spices, were really brought out in the wine glass. The spiciness of this ale perfectly complimented the delicious blackened shrimp tacos that I ordered for the main course. This will be my glassware of choice when drinking a pumpkin ale from now on.

And speaking of pumpkin ales, I finally got a chance to try the much ballyhooed Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin (Shipyard Brewing Co.; Portland, ME; Pumpkin Ale; ABV: 9.0) last week at Mr. Beery’s. From their Pugsley Signature Series, this ale is second only to Southern Tier Pumking as the most pumpkin tasting beer around. Like the former, it has an alcohol content of 9%, although Smashed Pumpkin has a lighter feel to it. Smashed Pumpkin is copper in color, with subtle notes of cinnamon and nutmeg spices balancing the pumpkin pie backbone.

In closing, I highly recommend drinking pumpkin ales from a wine glass. Especially when savoring high end offerings like Punkin, Pumking, and Smashed Pumpkin.

Lucky Pelican Bistro on Urbanspoon

Early Harvest

September 7th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

You'll gladly serve pumking

While the official start of Fall is two weeks away, it’s nice to see that breweries around the country have gotten an early jump on distributing their pumpkin ales. I’m a big fan of this style of beer, and it was nice to try a couple of old favorites, in addition to a new one, recently.

Southern Tier Pumking; Southern Tier Brewing Co.; Lakewood, NY; Pumpkin Ale; ABV: 9.0. Pumking, in my opinion, is the best pumpkin ale on the planet. It pours a rich pumpkin color, with big notes of pumpkin and cinnamon spices complimented by nutmeg and caramel malt. Pumking is the closest thing to drinking a pumpkin pie that I have ever experienced, and this year’s batch seems to have taken the wonderful array of flavors up a notch. It’s also worth noting that the 9% alcohol content is well hidden.

Dogfish Punkin Ale; Dogfish Head Craft Brewery; Milton, DE; Pumpkin Ale; ABV: 7.0. While Punkin doesn’t have the big pumpkin pie presence of Pumking, it’s still a very enjoyable beer. This ale is copper in color, with big notes of nutmeg and cinnamon spices balanced by caramel malt and a hint of pumpkin in the backbone. Punkin is an easy drinking pumpkin ale that’s perfect for the Fall.

Southampton Pumpkin Ale; Southampton Publick House; Southampton, NY; Pumpkin Ale; ABV: 6.0. I tried Pumpkin Ale for the first time recently at WOB, and really enjoyed it. This amber colored ale is lighter in feel than Pumking and Punkin, but nonetheless has perfectly balanced notes of pumpkin, nutmeg, and cinnamon spices. Like Pumking, the pumpkin flavor is really drawn out in this beer.

I highly recommend each of these pumpkin ales as a splendid way to welcome in the Fall.

Now Datz A Deli!

September 6th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas 2 comments

Datz is a classic New York style deli and loft bar

I went to check out Datz in South Tampa with Anne and Blanche today. I’d heard from reliable sources that it’s a deli reminiscent of the classic New York style venues I’d grown up with. Add to the fact that they have a new lounge and loft bar, which carries an extensive list of wine and craft beer, and you knew we just had to go.

I’m pleased to report that Datz more than lived up to our expectations. And in between my Roger’s Rockin’ Rueben and Mile High Cheesecake, I managed to enjoy a couple of fine beers as well.

I started with a pint of Bell’s Oarsman (Bell’s Brewery; Kalamazoo, MI; American Palw Wheat Ale; ABV: 4.0), a crisp, easy drinking wheat ale. Light golden in color, Oarsman has subtle notes of wheat, breaded malt, and citrusy hops, with a clean refreshing finish. At 4% ABV, it makes a really nice session beer, and I’m glad to see that it’s now available here in Florida.

I’m pleased to see that the season for pumpkin ales has started early, and when Datz has my all-time favorite on tap, you know that I can’t pass up a good thing. I ordered a pint of Southern Tier Pumking (Southern Tier Brewing Co.; Lakewood, NY; Pumpkin Ale; ABV: 9.0), in my opinion the best pumpkin ale on the planet. This ale is pumpkin in color, with big notes of pumpkin and cinnamon spices from start to finish. It’s the closest thing to drinking a pumpkin pie that I have ever come to!

In addition to a superb food and beverage menu, Datz has a wonderful big city feel to it. I strongly recommend stopping by next time you’re in Tampa.

Datz on Urbanspoon

Brewfari

August 9th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas 4 comments

I was in my natural habitat at Wazoo 2010

Anne and I had a blast at Wazoo 2010 this past Saturday night at the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa. In addition to having more than 250 beers and beverages from around the world, the event featured cuisine from restaurants as well as live music from area based artists Velvet Jones, Impulse, and The Paper Stanleys. We also had a chance to get out of the heat for a bit at the zoo’s Beastly Beverage Club, which featured dinner and live music as well. Wazoo 2010 was a well organized brewfest, and I had the chance to sample some old favorites, as well as some new ones. I listed a sampling of the latter below.

Samuel Adams Sample A – Belgian IPA; Boston Beer Co.; Boston, MA; Belgian India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.0. Part of this year’s 2010 Longshot Series, this ale is my pick for the brewery’s 6th annual Beer Lover’s Choice. Golden in color, with big notes of citrusy and piny hops balanced by sweet malt and a spicy undertone from the Belgian yeast. As full-bodied as it is complex.

Samuel Adams Sample B – American Rye Ale; Boston Beer Co.; Boston, MA; Rye Beer; ABV: 5.3. This Longshot Series candidate pours a deep mahogany color and has notes of rye and roasted malt complimented by citrusy and floral hops. Very easy to drink with a nice dry finish.

Saint Somewhere Pays du Soleil; Saint Somewhere Brewing Co.; Tarpon Springs, FL; Saison / Farmhouse Ale; ABV: 8.0. A delicious saison from area based brewery Saint Somewhere. Amber in color, the big notes of tart and citrusy fruit are complimented by sweet caramel and toffee with a sour finish typical of a wild ale.

Saint Somewhere Saison Athene; Saint Somewhere Brewing Co.; Tarpon Springs, FL; Saison / Farmhouse Ale; ABV: 7.5. An excellent farmhouse ale. A golden saison brewed with chamomile, fresh rosemary and black pepper. The array of spices are backed by notes of sweet malt and citrusy fruit with a crisp clean finish.

Sierra Nevada Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale; Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.; Chico, CA; American Brown Ale; ABV: 5.5. A smooth brown ale, Tumbler has notes of sweet caramel and roasted malt, balanced by piny hops and a brown sugary backbone.

Dunedin The Rock Double IPA; Dunedin Brewery; Dunedin, FL; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.0. From the local brewery’s Brewmaster Series, this DIPA pours a burnt orange color and has big notes of citrusy fruit balanced by caramel malt and piny hops with a slightly bitter finish.

Southampton Pumpkin Ale; Southampton Publick House; Southampton, NY; Pumpkin Ale; ABV: 5.5. An exceptional pumpkin ale from the Long Island based brewery. Copper in color, with the pumpkin pie presence complimented by sweet caramel and cinnamon spices.

Tampa Bay McBrews Scotch Ale; Tampa Bay Brewing Co.; Tampa, FL; Scottish Ale; ABV: 7.0. A smooth, easy drinking Scottish ale. Amber in color, with notes of sweet malt and chocolate balanced by light hops with a resiny finish.

Brooklyn Sorachi Ace; Brooklyn Brewery; Brooklyn, NY; Saison / Farmhouse Ale; ABV: 7.6. A superb saison from the acclaimed brewery. Golden in color, with the Japanese Sorachi hops balanced by notes of citrusy fruit, sweet malt, and peppery spices. Refreshing from start to finish.

Southern Tier Farmer’s Tan; Southern Tier Brewing Co.; Lakewood, NY; Imperial Pale Lager; ABV: 9.0. An eclectic, straw colored imperial lager. Big nose of citrusy and piny hops complimented by notes of sweet malt, wheat, and peppery spices.

Leffe Blonde; Anheuser-Busch InBev; Leuven, Belgium; Belgian Pale Ale; ABV: 6.6. A golden, easy drinking Belgian ale. The notes of citrusy fruit, particularly bananas, are balanced by sweet malt and light spices such as cloves.

We concluded the evening by sampling an excellent dopplebock from The Beer and Wine Makers Pantry. Called Strawberry Dopplebock, it poured a dark amber color with big notes of strawberries, roasted malt, and a hint of chocolate. I’m guessing the ABV is around 6-6.5%.

All in all, our brewfari was a total success!

Making My Case

February 20th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Green Flash Imperial IPA makes a strong case

Another year, another Best Beers list. I decided to do a new slant on this year’s All-Time Favorites post, and create my dream case. The criteria is as follows:

a. Retired beers have been omitted. Ales such as DuClaw Repent, Blue Point No Apologies Imperial IPA, and Thomas Hardy’s Ale were among my favorites, but I want to list beers that are currently available to everyone.

b. Extreme beers, e.g. ABV of 20% or more, have been omitted as well. Samuel Adams Utopias and BrewDog Tactical Nuclear Penguin have more in common with a liquor than a conventional beer.

c. I’ve limited the list to one beer per brewery. This not only prevents the list from getting too top heavy with certain breweries, e.g. St. Bernardus, DFH, Stone, etc., but also allows me to feature some excellent regional brews as well. Although one beer on this list, Life & Limb, is a collaboration between DFH & Sierra Nevada, it’s technically considered to be brewed from the latter and will be listed under that brewery.

And now, without further adieu, is my Ultimate Case, 2010 Edition:

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen; Brauerei Heller-Trum / Schlenkerla; Bamberg, Germany; Rauchbier; ABV: 5.4. Brewed in the classic rauchbier tradition, this marzen has an incredible smoky nose and taste to match. The big hickory smoke bite reminds me of smoked bacon, sausage, etc., and there’s a hint of malt and light hops as well.

Anchor Old Foghorn; Anchor Brewing Co.; San Francisco, CA; Barley Wine; ABV: 8.8. An exceptional barley wine from Anchor Brewing. The toffee and sweet caramel malt is balanced by dark fruit, citrusy hops, & spices. This ale has the taste and feel of a classic English barley wine.

Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock; Privatbrauerei Franz Inselkammer KG / Brauerei Aying; Aying, Germany; Doppelbock; ABV: 6.7. This is an absolutely superb doppelbock. The rich malty taste is complimented by hints of sweet chocolate & spicy hops. Wunderbar!

Bell’s HopSlam Ale; Bell’s Brewery, Inc.; Kalamazoo, MI; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 10.0. An absolute hop bomb! The uber hoppy presence is well balanced by sweet malt and a taste of honey. Truly one of the best IPAs out there.

Brewer’s Art Ozzy Ale; Brewer’s Art; Baltimore, MD; Belgian Strong Pale Ale; ABV: 7.3. A smooth & crisp tasting Belgian style ale. There’s a nice array of floral hops and Belgian spices, with a slight peppery finish at the end.

Brooklyn Black OPS; Brooklyn Brewery; Brooklyn, NY; Russian Imperial Stout; ABV: 11.0. A truly outstanding Russian Imperial stout from Brooklyn. A wonderfully complex mix of chocolate, roasted malt, and spices. Like a chocolate milkshake with a kick!

Cigar City Warmer Winter Winter Warmer; Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; Old Ale; ABV: 10.0. An excellent old ale from the outstanding brewery Cigar City. There’s a hint of tobacco up front, followed by an array of chocolate, caramel malt, sweet fruit, and cinnamon spices with a slightly bitter finish.

Deschutes Hop Henge Experimental IPA; Deschutes Brewery; Bend, OR; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.8. A big, bold hop bomb. The citrusy hops hit you up front, and are balanced by sweet caramel & a piney finish.

Dogfish Squall IPA; Dogfish Head Craft Brewery; Milton, DE; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 9.0. An unfiltered, bottle conditioned, and dry-hopped version of their 90 Minute IPA. The taste is bold and complex. There’s a gust of citrusy, piney, and spicy hops up front, complimented by sweet caramel and a malty presence at the end.

Green Flash Imperial IPA; Green Flash Brewing Co.; Vista, CA; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 9.0. Smooth, nutty, & spicy. A crisp citrusy burst up front, complimented by sweet malt and a piney hops finish. Another of the classic West Coast IPAs.

Harviestoun Ola Dubh Special 16 Reserve; Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.; Alva Clackmannanshire, Scotland (UK); Old Ale; ABV: 8.0. A superior ale aged in a 16 year old whiskey cask. The hint of whiskey is complimented by chocolate, dark malt, and vanilla spices. Similar to an Imperial Porter, it’s very smooth and robust with an exceptional finish.

La Caracole Saxo; Brasserie Caracole; Farmignoul, Belgium; Belgian Strong Pale Ale; ABV: 8.0. An incredibly smooth Belgian strong pale ale. The 8% ABV isn’t noticeable, and the sweet malt taste is complimented by citrusy hops, light fruit, and spices. Saxo finishes crisp and clean, and I could drink this ale all day.

New Belgium 1554 Enlightened Black Ale; New Belgium Brewing Inc.; Fort Collins, CO; Belgian Dark Ale; ABV: 5.5. While their excellent Fat Tire is better known, this is actually the best beer crafted by New Belgium. This would easily be my session beer if I could get it here in Florida. The nutty taste is well balanced by subtle hints of sweet caramel, roasted coffee, & cocoa chocolate.

Ommegang Ommegeddon; Brewery Ommegang; Cooperstown, NY; Saison / Farmhouse Ale; ABV: 8.0. Another outstanding Belgian style ale from Ommegang. This saison is very crisp and refreshing. There’s a nice bite of tart and citrusy fruit up front, balanced by Brettanomyces yeast, sweet malt, and grassy hops with a clean dry finish.

Rogue Double Dead Guy Ale; Rogue Ales Brewery; Newport, OR; American Strong Ale; ABV: 9.5. While the alcohol is a bit more noticeable than their original Dead Guy Ale, it still compliments the sweet malt, caramel, & cascade hops to deliver a rich & smooth tasting beer. In short, as enjoyable as the original maibock, but more complex & certainly with more of a kick.

Russian River Pliny The Elder; Russian River Brewing Co.; Santa Rosa, CA; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.0. Another big & bold IPA with a surprisingly smooth taste. The grapefruit flavor up front highlights the array of citrusy hops, and is complimented by roasted malt & caramel. The finish is crisp & clean.

Samuel Smith’s The Famous Taddy Porter; Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery; Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom; English Porter; ABV: 5.0. The quintessential English porter. A creamy, coffee tasting beer balanced by hints of chocolate & malt.

Sierra Nevada/Dogfish Life & Limb; Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.; Chico, CA; American Strong Ale; ABV: 10.2. A collaboration between Dogfish and Sierra Nevada, it took a lot of effort to find this beer, but the hunt was definitely worth it! This is a very complex beer to say the least. I noticed a smoky, almost tobacco like taste up front, followed by chocolate, sweet molasses, dark fruit, and possibly a little vanilla as well. There’s even a woody feel to Life & Limb that reminds me of Dogfish’s own Palo Santo Marron, albeit a slightly lighter version.

Southern Tier Pumking; Southern Tier Brewing Co.; Lakewood, NY; Pumpkin Ale; ABV: 9.0. This pick surprised me, as I’m always singing the praises of their Southern Tier Unearthly (Southern Tier Brewing Company; Lakewood, NY; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 11.0). Pumking, however, is quite simply the best of the pumpkin ales and deserves to be on this list. It’s bold & spicy with a wonderful pumpkin taste from start to finish. There’s even a hint of pie crust in the flavor! For my hop-head moments, I would substitute this choice for Unearthly, which is quite possibly the best IPA around. A wonderful full bodied ale, the citrusy hops taste is well balanced by sweet malt. It’s very smooth for a hop bomb!

Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale; Stone Brewing Co.; Escondido, CA; Belgian Strong Dark Ale; ABV: 8.6. An absolutely outstanding Belgian strong ale. Brewed on a limited basis annually, Epic is both smooth and complex. The rich chocolate taste is complimented by roasted malt, vanilla, orange peel, and spices.

St. Bernardus Abt 12; Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV; Watou, Belgium; Quadrupel; ABV: 10.5. A wonderfully complex balance of spices, ripe fruit, & sweet malt. The gold standard of Belgium quads, and one of the world’s best beers period.

Terminal Gravity IPA; Terminal Gravity Brewing Co.; Enterprise, OR; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.9. This IPA has a big reputation in the Northwest, and it’s well deserved. The big citrusy hops up front are complimented by hints of caramel & a sweet malt finish.

Three Floyds Behemoth Barleywine; Three Floyds Brewing Co.; Munster, ID; Barley Wine; ABV: 12.5. An superb offering from the acclaimed Three Floyds Brewery. Behemoth has a sweet caramel taste up front, which is complimented by hints of tart fruit, raisins, roasted malt, and piny hops with a slightly bitter finish.

Tripel Karmeliet; Brouwerij Bosteels; Buggenhout, Belgium; Tripel; ABV: 8.4. An absolutely outstanding abbey ale. The taste is quite smooth, with a nice array of citrus fruit up front complimented by sweet malt. flowery hops, and spices.

Honorable Mention 6-Pack:

Boundary Bay Imperial IPA; Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro; Bellingham, WA; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.5. This IPA is an absolute hop bomb, with the big Cascade hops taste well balanced by roasted malt & a piney finish.

BrewDog Dogma; BrewDog Ltd.; Fraserburgh, Scotland (UK); Herbed / Spiced Beer; ABV: 7.8. A very crisp and drinkable beer. The taste is well balanced between the sweet malt, honey, kola nut, poppy seed, guarana, and spices with a nice clean finish. Its alcohol content of nearly 8% isn’t noticeable, so Dogma has the feel of a session beer.

DuClaw Devil’s Milk; DuClaw Brewing Co.; Bel Air, MD; Barley Wine; ABV: 11.0. A very potent barley wine. The sweet caramel malt is well balanced by dark fruit and citrusy hops.

Ellicott Mills Bock of the Bat; Ellicott Mills Brewing Co.; Ellicott Mills, MD; Maibock; ABV: 7.0. Brewed in the classic Alpenhof style of beer. An excellent bock with a roasted, malty taste balanced with dark fruit.

Ninkasi Total Domination IPA; Ninkasi Brewing Co.; Eugene, OR; India Pale Ale; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.7. This is a crisp, smooth tasting IPA. The citrusy hops, particularly grapefruit, is noticable up front, and is well balanced by biscuity malt & a dry finish.

Oskar Blues Ten FIDY; Oskar Blues Grill & Brewery; Lyons, CO; Russian Imperial Stout; ABV: 10.0. This is an excellent Russian imperial stout, with the rich milk chocolate taste complimented by coffee, dark fruit, and roasted malt. Ten FIDY packs a punch at 10% ABV, so it’s definitely a beer to be savored!

Top Tier

January 30th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas 2 comments

Southern Tier will be among the headliners at Brewgrass

The 3rd Annual Bradenton Brewgrass Beer Festival will be held next Saturday, February 6, 2010. The event will feature live bands in addition to beer tasting. More than 50 breweries will be on hand, with several new ones appearing such as Goose Island, Victory Brewing, and Southern Tier.

I’m especially excited by Southern Tier, since they’re finally going to be distributed in Florida. This brewery makes my favorite pumpkin ale (Pumking) and quite possibly my favorite IPA (Unearthly). So I was excited when given the chance recently to try their Southern Tier Cuvée Series 2 (Southern Tier Brewing Co.; Lakewood, NY; American Strong Ale; ABV: 11.0).

Cuvee is a wonderfully eclectic ale. There’s an almost crème brûlée feel to it, and I would enjoy Cuvee as a dessert beer. The rich chocolate taste up front is complimented by molasses, roasted malt, spicy hops, and vanilla with a sweet caramel finish. Cuvee is aged in oak barrels, so there’s a hint of oakiness as well. This ale is very smooth considering its 11% ABV, so it’s one to be savored slowly.

For more information on Brewgrass, please see the following link: http://www.craftbeerexpo.org/

I hope to see you there!

The Great Pumpkin Pint

October 12th, 2009 Bill Zavorskas No comments

While Fall in Florida is different than up North...

While Fall in Florida is different than up North...

it's still a great time to enjoy all things pumpkin

it's still a great time to enjoy all things pumpkin

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. The leaves have already changed color up North, and even here in the Sunshine State, the mugginess of Summer is starting to give way to much more comfortable weather. So I’m definitely in the mood for all things Autumn. Like Pumpkin beer. There are several pumpkin ales that even Linus might wait up all night in the pumpkin patch for.

Southern Tier Pumking (Southern Tier Brewing Co.; Lakewood, NY; Pumpkin Ale; ABV: 9.0) is the best of the pumpkin ales. Brewed by Southern Tier, one of my favorite breweries, it’s bold & spicy with a wonderful pumpkin taste from start to finish. There’s even a hint of pie crust in the flavor! Pumpking is so smooth that the high alcohol content of 9% isn’t noticeable.

Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale (Smuttynose Brewing Co.; Portsmouth, NH; Pumpkin Ale; ABV: 6.0) is another very enjoyable pumpkin ale. It’s very well balanced between the pumpkin flavor and wonderful array of spices. It’s like drinking a pumpkin pie!

Heavy Seas The Great Pumpkin (Clipper City Brewery; Baltimore, MD; Pumpkin Ale; ABV: 8.0) is another winner from Clipper City. I love a great pumpkin ale, and this one is right on the mark. The pumpkin pie taste is complimented by sweet malt & spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon. The 8% ABV is barely noticeable.

Post Road Pumpkin Ale (Brooklyn Brewery; Brooklyn, NY; Pumpkin Ale; ABV: 5.0) is an excellent, crisp tasting pumpkin ale. There’s a smooth pumpkin taste up front, with hints of sweet malt & spices such as ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. It’s a bit lighter than the previous 3 beers mentioned above, but very flavorable nonetheless.

I highly recommend each of these beers to anyone who truly appreciates a great pumpkin ale.

With A Little Help From My Friends

October 6th, 2009 Bill Zavorskas No comments

My friend Kristine Nickel is a woman of many accomplishments. Among them is an expertise for all things culinary. She has maintained a freelance writing career since the early 1980s, wrote a wire-distributed weekly column for the Chicago Tribune for 7 years, and has covered food, wine, and travel for publications such as Sarasota Herald-Tribune, a New York Times regional newspaper, Zagat, Wine Spectator, Sarasota Magazine, and others.

So I was flattered when she asked me to sit down for an interview recently to discuss beer. The theme was Tailgating, with an emphasis on partying at home. The surge in craft beer, and experimentation by traditional breweries looking to keep their edge, came into play as well. Kristine and I sampled beers that would traditionally be on hand at a tailgate party, as well as some excellent alternatives for the more adventurous fans.

The article appeared in last Wednesday’s Sarasota Herald Tribune, and is posted below.

Bill Zavorskas

Bill Zavorskas

BEST BREWS

Bill Zavorskas estimates he has sampled close to 700 different beers since his great beer passion began. Earlier this year, Zavors­kas decided to put his passion to pen, or more accurately, keyboard, and started Billys-BeerBlog.We sat down with Zavorskas to taste a series of beers that would typically show up at a tailgate party, and some that might just get you out of your ordinary buying pattern.

Michelob Ultra Light Pomegranate/Raspberry: This is an offering that Zavorskas says was created “to compete with microbreweries.” It has a wonder­ful raspberry nose and fruity flavors.
Budlight Lime: “Trying to do Corona one better,” is how Zavorskas described this citrusy brew. At 116 calories, this is a beer you could consume several of, and its fresh character would work with many different foods.
Sam Adams Light: Known to its aficionados as “Sammy,” this light beer was the first one from a microbrewery. It’s a beauti­ful amber color with a distinctive lager nose, but I found it thin and a bit short in flavor.
Heineken Light: I’m not sure how this storied Dutch brewery came up with so much taste for just 99 calories, but this was my favorite light beer by far.
Red Stripe Lager: This is a very popular beer, which used to be produced in Jamaica but which since has been swept into a behemoth beer company. That doesn’t change the refreshing, sweetish tastes.
Rogue “Dead Guy” Ale: Rogue is an Oregon-based brewery that really delivers. This beer is a lovely amber color,’ and a molasses nose that I noted I could, “sit and smell all night.”
Smutty Nose Pumpkin Ale: Fruit and vegetable compo­nents are popular in microbrews, and this is ideal for fall.
Bell’s “Sparkling Ale”: “Caramel nose, molasses taste, smooth, long finish” is how I described this ale, which was my favorite of the tasting.
Kristine Nickel

Abracadabra

September 29th, 2009 Bill Zavorskas 1 comment

Spencer Horsman dazzled the crowd at Illusions...

Spencer Horsman dazzled the crowd at Illusions...

while Jerry Rowan juggled torches, beer, & one liners in Inner Harbor

while Jerry Rowan juggled torches, beer, & one liners in Inner Harbor

Even the Lions found a little magic this past weekend

Even the Lions found a little magic on Sunday

It was a magical weekend in Baltimore this weekend, whether one was catching up with old friends, attending a wedding, or taking in a magic show. The city was hopping as the weather held up until late in the day on Saturday, and even after the rain fell, people were out and about.

There were street performers like Jerry Rowan, whose juggling expertise has been featured on David Letterman. He dazzled the crowd with an act that included everything from juggling torches while riding a unicycle to balancing 2 Coronas and chugging down the bottom one! His tongue was as sharp as his juggling skills.

Anne & I went barhopping one night in Federal Hill, & took in the 10:00 magic show at Illusions. Owned by Ken Horsman, a former professional clown, the bar has a swanky nightclub feel to it. The featured performer, his son Spencer, is an internationally known magician. Young Spencer was indeed a master of illusion, and after entertaining the audience with some card tricks, he capped off the night by escaping from a straitjacket ala Houdini. I even got to assist Spencer in a couple of magic tricks, which added to the fun. Illusions has an excellent beer selection to boot.

There were a few beers sampled this weekend that worked their magic on me. These included the following:

Magic Hat #9; Magic Hat Brewing Co.; Burlington, VT; Fruit / Vegetable Beer; ABV: 4.6. A perfect beer for the magic theme. Very smooth, crisp, & refreshing. The fruity taste, particularly apricots, is balanced by an array of dry malt & light hops.

Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout; Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery; Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom; Oatmeal Stout; ABV: 5.0. A classic & chocolaty stout. Very smooth with hints of oats & coffee.

Heavy Seas The Great Pumpkin; Clipper City Brewery; Baltimore, MD; Pumpkin Ale; ABV: 8.0. Another winner from Clipper City. I love a great pumpkin ale, & this is right on the mark. The pumpkin pie taste is complimented by sweet malt & spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon. The 8% ABV is barely noticeable.

St. Bernardus Pater 6; Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV; Watou, Belgium; Dubbel; ABV: 6.7. A superb dubbel from St. Bernardus. The taste is a perfect blend of sweet caramel, malt, & dark fruit. One of the best dubbels that I’ve ever had.

Dark Starr Stout; Starr Hill Brewery; Crozet, VA; Irish Dry Stout; ABV: 4.8. Very smooth & creamy chocolate stout. The chocolaty taste is well balanced by a hint of spices & a nice dry finish.

We caught the end of the Lions-Redskins game, at The Greene Turtle at BWI, before flying back to Tampa. The Lions ended their losing spell with a 19-14 win. I know that our Michigan friends are glad that they finally broke through after a 19-game losing streak that dated back to December 2007. As one football analyst from ESPN pointed out, this is the first professional win ever experienced by a player drafted by the Lions in 2008!

In honor of their achievement, I had a Lion Stout (Ceylon / Lion Brewery Ltd.; Biyagama, Sri Lanka; Foreign Stout; ABV: 8.0) at Shakespeare’s. The big dark chocolate taste up front is complimented by sweet cherries, roasted malt, coffee, & a hint of licorice.

And last but not least, congratulations to the Yankees for working some magic of their own in a sweep of the Red Sox, clinching the AL East & home field advantage!