Review: Blue Moon White IPA and Mango Wheat

Blue Moon is nearly ubiquitous in American bars — and it’s about to get even more of a presence via these two new expressions, arriving just in time for summer.

Blue Moon White IPA – Summer beers often prove a challenge to breweries. The humidity and high heat in much of the country preclude people from drinking heavy, high alcohol beers and instead they look for beers that are refreshing, light and ones that can be enjoyed in multiple at a picnic or the beach. This beer deserves a permanent place in your cooler.

Even though it is brewed year round, this White IPA from Blue Moon Brewing certainly fits the bill as a great summer beer. Pale gold in color, the initial nose is citrus and spice, with little of the bitter aroma sometimes associated with an IPA. The first taste is citrus, and as it continues there is a very nice taste of honeydew, present because of the use of Huell Melon hops. The beer finishes with a hint of very pleasant bitterness, and then lingers with a slight taste of honeydew with no bitterness remaining. This IPA is approachable, friendly, and very enjoyable.

This is an excellent beer that really stretches the definition of what the style can be. A style combination of American IPA and Belgian Wit, this beer is free of much of the bitterness often associated with IPAs, and will appeal to drinkers who usually don’t reach for an IPA. Its perfect balance and crisp, citrus flavor make this beer an excellent accompaniment to nearly any cuisine, but is particularly well suited for the food of China and Japan. 5.9% abv. A / $9

Blue Moon Mango Wheat – A seasonal release from Blue Moon, this summer-centric mango wheat beer can easily find a place in your cooler if you’re headed out for a day at the beach. At a very low 19 IBUs, this beer drinks like a soda despite its 5.4% abv. The pale amber color evokes the fruit the beer is made with, even though the beer is slightly cloudy, as it’s still a wheater. The scent of mango is is present even from a distance. At first nosing it deeply, mango is all you sense and this continues through the first taste. There is very little carbonation, and the beer is very sweet with very little bitterness. Because of the low carbonation, the beer feels a little heavy on the tongue and is slightly cloying. The beer finishes with mango and honey; the sweetness lingering without the balance of any bitterness. The lack of balance in this beer is a little surprising, as many other fruit beers seem to balance the sweetness a little more evenly. Despite its faults, this beer could go very well with anything spicy you might be enjoying.

It’s also very sweet and would function as an excellent mixer for shandies and other summer beer focused cocktails. Mango Wheat would also make a great marinade base for fish or poultry, as the sweetness combined with the wheat should develop into a beautiful flavor when grilled. Just be sure to add citrus for balance. 5.4% abv. B- / $NA

bluemoonbrewingcompany.com

Review: B4 Hangover Preventer

What better time is there to get a sample of B4 than right before Super Bowl weekend?

Billing itself as “what to drink before you drink,” B4 is a vitamin and supplement fueled hangover preventer. B4’s light orange color, mild carbonation, and metallic orange nose signal a citrus base with overtones of fortified vitamin water. The carbonation is nice on the palate, but B4 has a slightly bitter, metallic taste that finishes with the essence of cough syrup and crushed multivitamins, leaving a significant unpleasant aftertaste.

The makers of B4 say that the drink supplies enough electrolytes, amino acids, vitamins, plant extracts, antioxidants, and minerals to protect against alcohol’s effect on your system. If you are out for an all-night binge (and can physically tolerate the high B vitamin levels), B4 could be possibly be very helpful the following morning. I personally did not see any physical benefit, but I think this is designed for a heavier drinker than myself. The best use for B4 might to add the cause to the cure and use B4 as a fortified mixer for sweeter drinks that can balance the flavor out. Also note that it is essentially a vitamin bomb, featuring very high doses of B complexes and other vitamins and supplements well above recommended levels. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you have to be aware of the ingredients just like any other supplement or vitamin you would use, and plan accordingly.

C+ / $4.50 per 8.4 oz. can / drinkb4.com

Review: Fruli Strawberry Beer

As Valentine’s Day approaches, strawberry beer is an unlikely addition to any well-planned romantic dinner. Fruli, brewed in Melle, Belgum at the 300 year old Huyge brewery, is a lovely witbier with strawberries added.  Fruli lends itself beautifully to what the Valentine’s meal is supposed to be: a prelude to the rest of the evening.

The initial nose is strawberry (thank God) with a hint of clove and orange. The first taste is pure summer strawberry, which lingers very nicely, with no bitterness at all. As the strawberry taste dissipates, orange pops up and remains just for another moment as a slightly spicy finish takes its place without being overbearing or coy. On the finish, my first thought was that this would pair amazingly well with any type or style of chocolate; another plus for Valentine’s Day. Fruli’s flavor profile also lends itself nicely to beer cocktails and could easily be used to make any other morning-after cocktail that has lambic or witbier as a base.

All told, this is a very drinkable, approachable fruit beer that drinks like a session beer. Light and moderate drinkers can enjoy several of these over the course of a Valentine’s Day dinner and still be set for the rest of the evening’s activities.

4% abv.

A / $13 per 4-pack / friuli.be

How about a cocktail recipe using Fruli?

The Morning After for 2
12 oz Fruli
8 oz orange juice
2 oz Godiva liqueur
2 chocolate covered strawberries

Mix Godiva and orange juice together in shaker. Pour into 12 oz tall glass. Split beer between two glasses. Top with Godiva mixture. Garnish with chocolate covered strawberry or chocolate shavings on rim.

Review: Breckenridge Brewery Vanilla Porter

A year round member of its Mainline series, Breckenridge Brewery boasts of using fresh vanilla bean in the brewing process of Vanilla Porter. This is certainly evident in the beer, with a strong vanilla nose the minute you open the bottle. The first taste delivers a strong root beer and vanilla essence, followed by a quick cascade of chocolate, coffee, caramel, and roasted almonds. This beer finishes nicely and lingers pleasantly with notes of cocoa and coffee. The mouthfeel is slightly thinner than other porters, but that doesn’t stand in the way of the beer being a very enjoyable one.

5.6% abv.

B+ / $10 per six pack / breckbrew.com

Review: Stateside Urbancraft Vodka

Philadelphia-based Federal Distilling’s inaugural Stateside Urbancraft Vodka does not disappoint.

Beginning with the fun flip-top bottle and ending with the seamless  finish, this is a very enjoyable vodka. Distilled seven times and aerated with “medical grade oxygen,” Stateside has a very pleasant, gin-like juniper and citrus nose upon first approach. The vodka drinks cleanly and is well-balanced. On the palate there are hints of grapefruit and spring rain, and a very subtle sweetness reminiscent of the corn used to distill it. The vodka’s finish is very well-structured, leaving only the citrus notes to play with a little residual sweetness.

Overall, it’s a well balanced vodka that is very enjoyable neat or as the base for an exemplary martini.

80 proof.

A / $30 / statesidevodka.com

Review: Double Nickel Brewing Pilsner and Vienna Lager

Pennsauken New Jersey’s Double Nickel Brewing has been open since October of 2015, adding to a very vibrant brewing community in Southern New Jersey. Here are two of their flagship beers.

Double Nickel Brewing Pilsner – Brewed with Noble hops, this excellent pilsner has a very clean crisp flavor and the straw color you would expect. Although it’s a bit more bitter than many American pilsners, it has a depth of flavor not often seen in American versions of this style. The beer exhibits distinctive citrus and floral overtones, with a little spice on the finish. Beer drinkers who don’t usually drink small-brewery beer might find this a good gateway beer. The brewery describes the beer as being good for light beer drinkers, but at 5.6% alcohol I would beg to differ on that one. B / $10 per six pack

Double Nickel Brewing Vienna Lager – A very malt-forward beer brewed with three different malts (Pilsner, Vienna, and Munich), this beer has a rich caramel flavor and color. The first taste is full of caramel and malt, leaving little room for any nuance. After the first taste, honey and toffee overtones begin to fill in behind the malt, tempering and smoothing out the flavor, as the first blast of malt begins to wear off. The sweet finish tastes like a molasses brown bread, and it feels similar on the tongue. The beer finishes a little heavy with a strong but very pleasant aftertaste, and it maintains its taste and body even if it’s a little warm, seemingly at its best flavor at around 45 degrees. 5.3% abv. B / $10 per six pack

dnbcbeer.com

Breakfast Recipes: Hangover Cures for New Year’s Day

I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do on New Year’s Day is get up with a hangover and cook breakfast.  Here are three make-the-night-before breakfast recipes to get you up and functioning on January 1st.

Happy New Year from all of us at Drinkhacker — and don’t forget the Advil!

Mom’s Hair of the Dog Strata
1 lb bacon, chopped and cooked
8 oz breakfast sausage, cooked and sliced thin
1 bunch green onion, sliced fine
1 cup broccoli florets cut small
1/2 pound cubed bread.  1 day-old baguette usually does it.
10 eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups whole milk
8 oz cheddar cheese
2 oz shredded pepper jack
1 tbsp butter
salt, pepper, Tabasco and nutmeg to taste

Butter a 9×9 high sided baking pan.  Mix all ingredients together except the Asiago.  Put in baking ban, cover and chill overnight refrigerated.

The following morning take strata out of the fridge, sprinkle Asiago on top while oven is preheating. Once oven has reached temperature, bake strata uncovered for about 30-45 minutes, or perhaps a little longer, depending on your oven. Once it is puffy and brown, remove from oven, let cool for 5 minutes and eat.

Drink pairings: Mimosa or Beermosa, Lambic Sangria

Breakfast Stromboli
This can be made the night before and then wrapped tightly and refrigerated overnight.  You would just need to do the egg wash in the morning right before baking.

1 large pizza dough 22 oz (I use Michael Lomonaco’s recipe)
12 eggs + 1 egg
1 lb Mozzarella
1 lb Italian Sausage cooked and sliced thin
4 oz prosciutto
1/2 cup Alfredo Sauce
2 tbsp heavy cream or full fat milk
1/4 cup Parmesan or asiago, grated

Mix the heavy cream or milk and the 12 eggs and scramble. Cook until just set but not hard or runny. Set aside to cool. Roll pizza dough to 12” by 18” rectangle with the base on a cookie tray or parchment sheet. Brush the dough lightly with Alfredo sauce, leaving an inch of clean space on all four sides. 

Cover the dough with prosciutto in a single layer. Sprinkle half the mozzarella on top.  Add the cooked eggs, making sure they are cool first.  Add the remaining mozzarella and the sausage. 

Roll the Stromboli and pinch ends and bottom closed.  Egg wash entire Stromboli and sprinkle Parmesan or Asiago on top.

Bake at 475F for about 10-2o minutes depending on oven. Stromboli should be golden brown and the dough should sound hollow when you knock on it.

Drink pairings: Espresso with a splash of anisette, Madras, Any German Pilsner

Short Ribs for Breakfast
Special equipment required: Slow cooker — put on no later than 10 pm
3 lb bone-in short ribs or 2 lb boneless
1 cup seasoned flour
two 12 oz stouts or porters of your choice
1 onion sliced
1 bay leaf
2 pieces celery rough chopped
2 medium carrot peeled and rough chopped
1 dry ancho or cascabel pepper (These are dried and will reconstitute in your crock pot)
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 spring thyme
8 oz brewed coffee
16 oz beef stock
eggs (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
1 can pop-open biscuits
8 oz cheddar cheese

Roll the short ribs in flour and sear until brown in a heavy skillet.  Add all the vegetables to the bottom of the crock pot.  Place the short ribs on top of the vegetables.  Add all the spices and herbs.  Add the stout and the beef stock and coffee. Turn on low and cook overnight.

In the morning, bake the biscuits.  While they are baking, remove the short ribs shred the meat, saving the liquid.  Strain the liquid, reserving the liquid and disposing of the vegetables.

When the biscuits are done, dunk them quickly in the cooking broth, fill with cheddar and the shredded short ribs, and enjoy.  Add a fried egg if you want to.

Drink pairings: Bloody Mary, Firebreather (coffee and stout in equal parts, plus 1 oz Fireball)