Monday, July 24, 2006

My Education In Ale

Well, my education in ale at the Michigan Beer Festival on Friday was successful of a sort. I learned that once you turn 50, your body doesn't appreciate the kind of gastronomic experimentation that comes with sampling various microbrews.

Wife Wendy fared fine, since she drinks the locally brewed Frog Island beer and has developed a taste for hops. (She was disappointed that Frog Island was a no-show this year). And the atmosphere was festive with a band that sounded like Santana and free goodies being given out. So it was fun, but I have to say that partly because Wendy says I will lose my blogging privileges if I don't.

There was some serious beer tasting going on there. You could tell it from the t-shirts worn. As in, "Beer, it's not just for breakfast anymore." And, "Beer, it's what's for dinner."

But myself? I did feel a little sickly after sampling beer after beer that when poured look like yesterday's coffee (never mind how I felt the morning after). Now I wanted to steer clear of the dark beer since I've never appreciated the popular European variety of ale. So I knew to back off from bock and stay away from stouts. But it seemed that no matter what I picked off a brewer's menu, it was darker than vanilla.

Scottish Ale, IPA (which stands for India Pale Ale but my sample looked like India ink), WIT, Porter, etc. I even tried a specialty brew with the odd-sounding name Dragon's Milk since I figured anything with "milk" on the label had to be bland enough for baby. But now I know why dragons breathe fire. It's in the beer they drink.

There was one dark microbrew that wasn't too bad. Called Kentucky Breakfast, it included chocolate and coffee in the recipe. Then it was further flavored by being aged in casks that originally held Jim Beam bourbon whiskey. It did taste like something you could sip while you waited for your ham and eggs to be served.

Here's from a review of this microbrew I found on-line . . . "Deepest ebon hue, an impenetrable blackness, above which nestles a modest ring of earthy brown . . . Aroma is chocolate first, followed by coffee, then molasses, brown sugar, and licorice . . . Taste: Full and thick as it boards the mouth, slipping rich, deliciousness everywhere... Further in, I can taste the charcoal, even."

Hmmmmm, I thought I recognized the charcoal flavor in the Dragon's Milk. That would make more sense.


Blogger Me said...

That made my stomache ache just hearing about it!

6:11 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Ugh . . . some of those stronger beers truly take a strong stomach to go with it. They've a Danish beer over here that took me several hours to go through. I prefer some of the lighter ales and brews in Norway, such as Lysholm and Grans.

10:33 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

Can't beat the Aussie pale ales Dave, served chilled on ahot day, just the ticket.

4:21 AM  
Blogger Fred said...

I understand your point about the age 50 issue. I'm still suffering from my weekend with the boys. Seems my stomach is in full revolt right now from a bit too much beer. Ahhh, the good old days...

5:14 AM  
Anonymous cassie-b said...

That's a lot of beer. And some of them are bound to be a bit much.

8:55 AM  
Anonymous Terri said... sure has come a long way since stuff like Blue Label and Schlitz. Never a beer drinker myself, I'm always amused at these microbrews.
I'll take a glass of fine wine, thank you.

9:05 AM  
Blogger poopie said...

Chocolate, coffee and beer do not belong together. SOOOOO not.

10:37 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

I'm not a beer drinker by nature, but that Kentucky Breakfast sounds like it might be interesting! I might have to try to track down a sample...

11:10 AM  
Blogger Deb said...

Sounds like you had a great time. I have a great time myself at wine tastings. heh heh

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Maria said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful time sampling. Since I am not a beer drinker and can't even imagine the flavors you described.

5:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You must have gotten wasted blogger!

5:30 PM  
Blogger WordWhiz said...

Even college fraternity parties never helped me develop a taste for beer. To me, they all taste yucky!! Hope you had fun!!

7:49 PM  
Anonymous bonnie said...

Look out, Dave. It's a slippery slope from beer guzzling to couch burning. Or, so I've heard.

6:57 AM  
Blogger Nankin said...

My ex used to like to drink beer and eat chocolate icecream. Maybe he had something and I just didn't appreciate it.

3:33 PM  
Blogger Lucy Stern said...

Like I said before, I don't drink so this is over my head.... I don't think I could have handled even one beer. Hope I didn't effect your blood sugar too much.

9:18 PM  
Blogger Spider63 said...

Anything darker than Michelob is a pass. Years ago, I went along with some friends who insisted that dark ales were the best. So we went to a trendy bar that served only dark ales, and tried a different one every round. Besides the fact that most of the dark ales tasted like turpentine (to me); by the early morning I was puking my guts out.

11:17 PM  
Blogger Kacey said...

I think it must be an Ypsilanti thing. My oldest grandson went to Eastern Michigan on a full ride scholarship, so he was very careful never to take a drink of anything. He did not want to lose that prized scholarship. (They even sent him to Paisley College in Scotland for a semester) However, he turned twenty-one in Nov. of his senior year and spent the night in a bathtub barffing up some of those unusual beers. He works for a govenor in Washington, D.C. now and I think you Michiganders gave him some really bad ideas!

8:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


12:53 AM  

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