Sunday, February 28, 2010

A fine meal indeed!

At Wolfgang Puck Grill, where Chef Marc outdid himself with a superb meal for Mr Cicerone's (fussy) parents, and us too of course. Parent's o' Mr Cicerone opted for the "Three Course Prix Fixe Tasting menu", exceptional value for a mere $29. Not only were the dishes wonderful, the portions were huge! Moist roasted chicken breast for Mum o' Mr Cicerone, and perfectly cooked rare steak for Dad. We opted for the A La Carte menu, and I started with a rich creamed cauliflower soup garnished with chunks of lobster, and some New Holland Full Circle Kolsch. (Oh my!) Mr Cicerone enjoyed a mixed vegetable salad, also with the Kolsch. For his entree, Mr Cicerone enjoyed Marinated Flat Iron Steak, Shiitake Mushrooms, Napa Cabbage & Steamed Jasmine Rice. ("That was awesome!") with Bell's Porter. I had an amazing fish dish, which sadly, I can't recall exactly (we were there about three weeks ago.), consisting of a large chunk of perfectly cooked, moist fish over morsels of braised fennel, nestled in a rich harissa broth. Oh, there were a bunch of large chunks of moist shrimp scattered o'er the fish (I just can't remember what sort of fish it was!) My beer to accompany the dish was Reutberger Dunkel, and it was perfect. Dessert for us was beer (New Holland The Poet oatmeal stout), but Parent's o'Mr Cicerone were wowed with this fabulous (and huge!) chocolate creation, all part of the Prix Fixe meal.
The service was superb. And, we were seated in a cozy booth "far from the maddening crowd",
Thank you Marc!

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Oak Cafe, & Slows recap

A nice beery evening at The Oak Cafe, Wyandotte, one night last week, where we enjoyed Sam Adams Noble Pils, Celebrator Doppelbock and Sierra Nevada Bigfoot '09, ALL on draft. Speaking of The Oak, head over next Saturday, March 6th, for the 4th annual Stout Fest & mustache competition (guess who always wins!). Mr Cicerone decided to give someone else a chance to win the mustache comp this year, so we are headed to Chicago instead for 2010 Day & Night of the Living Ales, which is sold out, but we have our tix. We're deciding where to stop on Friday night on the way....Bell's, The Livery, Founders, Three Floyds. Choices, choices, choices.

The other memorable bar night was at Slows BarBQ, last night. Slows have done it again with their current tap line-up, and a quiet evening at home was abandoned in pursuit of some of these fine beers. We started out with a pint each of Arcadia's cask-conditioned Cereal City Bitter, followed by a pint each of Victory's Uncle Teddy's Bitter. It's rare, but wonderful, to find English-style session beers on tap, let alone two! Both were delicious. Next- La Trappe Isid'or, a Belgian pale ale tasting of brown sugar and licorice. Next- Arcadia Sky High Rye. Mmmm. Always good with Slows food ("The Reason" for Mr Cicerone, and those superb sticky smoky chicken wings for me.) Next- Goose Island Bourbon County Stout. Sweet, a little roasty and bourbony, and delicious with a huge slab of cream cheese frosted carrot cake, a new dessert menu item. Next- Bell's Consecrator Doppelbock & Dogfish Head Fort...well, the last two were "in our dreams" so to speak. We really couldn't manage another beer after downing a whole pint of Bourbon County, but Consecrator and Fort would have been next if we'd been able....

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Bell's Beer Dinner at Uptown Grill

Monday March 8, 6.30PM.
Here's the menu and other info.

Brew Day, Batch 316: Vienna

Mmmm, Vienna beer. Friend of barbecue, faithful companion to many a Mexican dish. Malty, toasty, not too sweet. Hops only there for balance. Today's version will be constructed from 2/3 light Munich malt, 1/3 Pils malt, and a teeny pinch of Carafa 1.

As a bonus, I am including a picture of one of the many high-tech gadgets in use in my basement brewery; behold the Infinitely Adjustable Sweet Wort Flow Restrictor:

Don't laugh! I hear Hofbrau has one just like this, only bigger....

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Brew Day, Batch 315: Kolsch

Never brewed one before, but at the risk of oversimplifying, it's just the ale version of Pils, which I brew lots of. The venerable yet rowdy Wyeast 1007 German Ale yeast will be doing the heavy lifting for me, after which the green beer will be lagered for around a month or so. 100% Pils malt to around 1.048, 30 BU from Crystal and Hersbrucker. Mashed for a highly fermentable wort, to give us a beer with a crisp dry finish.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Recent Swell Beers

Hola, amigos, I know it's been a while since I rapped at ya, but I been busier than a one-armed Cicerone in a beer pouring contest... also my laptop croaked...

Some recent good beers I've had, in no particular order:

Founders Nemesis, a wheat wine aged in maple and bourbon casks. Boozy, bourbon nose, but not oppressively boozy flavor. Lots of heavy sweet wheat malt, heavy body, and a seemingly endless progression of fruity nuances. Lots of coconut from the bourbon casks. Quite the engrossing tipple.

Bells Batch 9000, an imperial stout with molasses and licorice. Wow. Aroma of licorice and hops, then malt and molasses. Lots of hop and licorice flavor, as well, as well as buckets of malt, molassses, and roasted malt. At first you might miss the roast flavor with all that's going on, but it's there, and I think it helps hold everything else together. This beer was worth the extended wait- get it while you can.

Opus Amor at Fort Street, another wheat wine, minus the barrel aging. Deeply malty, with ample bitterness to balance. We are fortunate to have a bottle of this stashed away in the Circus Room at Chez Cicerone.

Sam Adams Noble Pils, on draft, at one of our favorite local bars, the Oak Cafe. A hop sammich! Couldn't drink just one....

(Anyone know who I borrowed the intro line from? Besides Uncle Dave, I mean....)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Birthday Fort St

Fort Street Brewery was 5 years old yesterday.We celebrated along with Doug, his wife Tracy, owner Pete, and the other regulars who filled the bar. Doug's "Ring Around the Roselare", an aged Flemish-style red ale that was released at 7PM for the celebration, was wonderful. Lots of Brett character, some nice fruitiness, and a hint of sourness. Mmmmm. Even more fantastic was Opus Amor, Doug's strong wheat wine, on tap at the brewery, and now in our cellar. As part of the 5 day anniversary celebration, Doug released one large bottle per night to a lucky raffle winner. And, last night it was us! We'll leave that one down there, and bring it to the 6th birthday party.
Thanks Doug for 5 years of great beer!

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Saturday, February 13, 2010


Being the manager of a beer department has some perks, one of them being the ability to put myself on "the list". Meaning that when my homebrew club expressed interest some time ago in tasting Samuel Adams Utopias, I was able to respond with "Why sure..." (And we started the collection.)

And so, we gathered last night at our meeting, and tasted the $185 (+ 10 cents deposit) per bottle luscious libation.....Viscous, with zero carbonation, copperish colour, sherry, raisins & malt sweetness in the aroma, which all followed strongly through into the taste, a little acidic sourness perhaps in the middle, plus alcohol (25%ABV). No discernable wood. I sipped my one ounce portion slowly, savouring each syrupy droplet as it coated my tongue. (With 17 homebrews to taste also, I wanted to remember the experience!)
From memory, samplings from previous editions may have been a little less sweet, with darker fruits apparent, but it has been a while. I'd like to come back to this edition in a year, and then in another year, but alas! it's gone!
Worth $185? Probably not, but it's an experience, and I'm glad to be able to share these moments with good people.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

An evening to remember

What do you call 250 people, gathered together in an old school gym, eating this by candelight......

Bulgur & vegetable sliders with sesame/lime aoli and a ginger salad (Chef Mickey, Ronin)
Cider-glazed pork belly with fried polenta & pickled cucumber relish (Chef Dave, Supino Pizza)
Smoked duck bratwurst with pretzel bread & sweet pepper relish (Chef Marc, Wolfgang Puck)
Ribs, beans, potato salad and relish slaw (Chef Brian, Slows To Go)

.....and drinking Bell's Best Brown & Winter White, New Holland Full Circle Kolsch & Short's Huma Lupa Licious??????


And I was this past Sunday evening, thanks to the efforts of Phillip Cooley (of Slows), and a host of others (and of course, the chefs) who put together this fantastic "ClandesDine" dinner. All proceeds went to charity.

Thank you all! It was just grand!

(Mr Cicerone missed out; he was sitting in a bar in Tawas Bay with the other Allen Park "polar bears", eating a coney dog and drinking Guinness, at the tail end of the annual Perchville USA fest....)

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Goodbye Aaron, Hello Jay!

Or....All My Friends are Going to Chicago!

It is with much sadness on our part, (but happiness for them), that we bid our good friends Aaron Tyrell and his bride (& mother-to-be!) Beth sayonara. They part for Chicago very, very soon to have adventures in the City of Big Shoulders. Aaron, good friend, and our rep for Stone Brewing for the past couple of years, is moving there to launch the Stone beer portfolio. He'll be missed, and now when Mr Cicerone and I head to Chicago, we'll have even more people to see and places to go!
The good news (for us) is that the new Midwest Stone rep is Jay, a Cincinnati-an who is totally geeked about his new position, and he's fun, and nice, and is already out there promoting and selling.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

5 Years On Fort Street

How time flies when you're drinking beer! Here's the lowdown on the anniversary celebration, from Doug:

Greetings and salutations!

The big week is finally upon us! The event that unites nations. The event that gives courage in the face of fear; hope in the face of despair; warmth in the dead of winter; a feeling of prosperity during economic hardship; a light at the end of the tunnel. An event that makes an entire nation believe that if one man can work virtually around the clock to pull off something this big, maybe we can land a man a moon! Yes, Virginia, there is a Fort Street Brewery; and this week it turns five!
Of course I'm talking about our 5th birthday celebration! Five years! We're so excited about it, we've decided to celebrate for five straight days! The fun begins this Wednesday, February 10th at 8 ish p.m. We'll release "Extra Strength Pils" (a 95 IBU 8.25% imperial pilsner style) and "Brown Bomber" (an American-style brown ale and the first beer ever brewed here). On Thursday at 8 ish p.m., we'll have "Veizen Vine (the third part of the big wheat trilogy) and "5x5" ( a lager made with 5 different grains and 5 hop varieties). Also on Thursday, we'll be hosting a promo for Evan Williams Honey Bourbon. That means free samples! On Friday, look for our 4th version of the ever popular "Grapes & Grains of Wrath" (a porter fermented with sangiovese grapes) and a promo for Pama Liquer (free samples again). On Saturday we'll have "Les Houblon d'en Aval" (French for "hops from Downriver". This is an IPA made with yeast from France and hops from Dave's Lincoln Park hop farm). Finally, on Sunday at 7 ish p.m., we'll close with a bang with "Aleodisiac" (made with orange blossom honey, hibiscus flowers, and lovage root. If you've never had lovage root, you really must try it.) and "Ring Around the Roselare" (an aged Flemish-style red ale).
Now if you were just skimming, and didn't really let all that sink in, that's eight new beers! Ya know what, we don't have room for eight beers! So please come and help us make room for the ones later in the week by drinking the ones early in the week! Otherwise, we'll just dump 'em down the drain and scale back any future plans of global beer dominance!
In addition to all the new beers and the liquor promos, we'll be offering $5 mini pitchers all week long! And of course, we'll have some fabulous prizes every night, including one grand prize each night that will be all the talk around the water cooler the next day ( if you've never been in the corporate world, aside from texting and searching the internet for porn, that what corporate types do all day. Or so my sources tell me.)!
Hey, ya know someplace that's alot of fun after drinking alot of beers? Denny's! Tuesday they're giving away free Grand Slams from 6 a.m. - 2 p.m.!
This week on, "Pat-a-Cake, Pat-a-Cake, Baker's Man, Bake Me a Birthday Cake As Fast As You Can!", you'll hear Nicole say, "Hey, I'm busy! Make your own damn cake!" You'll also hear John say, "I can't keep up these grueling 25 hour weeks for ever ya know!" And finally, you'll hear Pete say, "When I was your age, I used to walk to work in six feet of snow! Uphill both ways!"
On your birthday plate this week, look for Pale Ale Ribeyes (Thursday - Sunday), Pasties, Cordon Bleu Strombolis, Chicken & Waffles, Stuffed Turkey Burgers, Bourbon Glazed Salmon, Spinach Feta Triangles, Portabella Burritos, Pizza Quesadillas, and Tiramisu. This week's Waffle Wednesday Special is Waffles Benedict. Yours for only $3!
To summarize: hope instead of despair and a lot of other rah, rah kind of stuff; birthday beers galore!; free liquor samples!; "Oh my God, look what I won at the brewery last night!"; "hurry up and drink that beer, we've gotta make room for more beer!"; free breakfast at Denny's! Too bad it's not free Moons Over My Hammy!; and "who need's Denny's when I can get $3 Waffles Benedict and a beer?!"

See ya soon,

Fort Street Brewery
1660 Fort St.
Lincoln Park, MI
(313) 389-9620

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Monday, February 8, 2010

Stone Brewing beer dinner at Uptown Grille

(Or, "Goodbye to Aaron"- see next post.)

Last Wednesday.....

Stone IPA
Flash Fried Thai curry shrimp.
Easy pairing that usually works. Citrusy hops work well with spicy curry. The shrimp were cooked to perfection- moist, plump & tasty, and the curry was not overdone.

Juxtaposition Black Pilsner (Collaboration b/n Stone, Cambridge & Brewdog)
Grilled salmon with ancho chile glaze, on a bed of fire-roasted jalapeno polenta, topped with sweet potato shoestrings.
This beer is malty sweet at the beginning (almost like unfermented wort), light to medium bodied, and ends with a lot of citrusy hops. The dish was really spicy (it was the polenta), and the beer didn't stand up to the heat,nor meld with the pepper flavour particularly well, although with the salmon alone it was a decent match. The salmon was also cooked to moist perfection, and was a big piece.

Oaked Arrogant Bastard
Pepper-encrusted beef medallion with garlic-sauteed spinach, brandy caramelized shallots & cherry demiglace.
This beer is a natural for many different foods, and did go well with this dish.

Kona Coffee Macadamia Nut Coconut Porter (Collaboration b/n Stone, Maui Brewing & Ken Schmidt)
Pulled Wild Boar with fried plantains & char-grilled pineapple.
THE WINNER! Both the food, and the pairing. The pulled boar had been done properly- Joe said it had been slooooow cooking for 11 hours that day. It was great, and just how it should be- moist, smoky & meaty. And, the plantains & pineapple were lovely, and a great accompaniment.
The beer is a rich coffee porter, with a hint of coconut in the finish. They did use a gargantuan amount of dried coconut in the brewing process. The rich flavours melded nicely with the smoky meat, and the plantains and pineapple did seem to pick up a little of the coconut in the beer.

Special Holiday Ale (2008, brewed at Stone)
Turtle Cheesecake with homemade caramel & chocolate sauce, served with vanilla bean ice cream.
Wow, this beer just keeps on giving, specifically the sage. It still hasn't faded, and while it might sound like a strange flavour to find in your beer, or pair with a dessert, it has not disappointed us yet. The rich malt character of the beer, and the sage and juniper spicing were a natural for the unadorned cheesey portion of the cheesecake, but the sweet caramel topping worked a surprise magic with the sage in the beer. You just don't know until you try.

A fantastic meal, for a remarkably inexpensive price. I hear that there's going to be a Bell's beer dinner at Uptown in March. We won't be missing it!

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