This Sh*t's Delicious

Exploring the world through cocktails, shit hole restaurants, and UrbanAg

Category Archives: Alcoholic Drinks

Beer Review: Ommegang’s Iron Throne Blonde Ale (@baudais)

For today’s post, we have Alicia B.’s review of the Iron Throne Blonde Ale. Alicia’s a great home-cook who never seizes to impress me with her culinary skills and her obsession with twerking. Keep an eye out for blog posts featuring her kick-ass recipes.

If you are too lazy to read the full review, here’s my 6-second review of the beer. Keep an ear out for the unintentional, but hilariously timed background dialog!

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6.5% ABV | Belgian Pale Ale | 750 ml for ~$12

If you couldn’t tell already, most of us at Sh*t’s Delicious are geeks. We like to geek out about food, drinks, video games, books, television, etc. As a food, beer and fantasy genre geek, I pretty much couldn’t leave Co-op Wines Spirits Beer without Ommegang’s Iron Throne Blonde Ale. I can’t remember how much I paid, but it was in the $12 range.

Ommegang is a microbrewery located near Cooperstown, N.Y. that specializes in crafting Belgian-style ales. It was originally founded in 1997 by Don Feinberg and Wendy Littlefield who eventually sold their share in 2003 to the renowned Belgian brewer Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat, brewers of the world-renowned Duvel Golden Ale.

I must admit that I approach collaborations like this with hesitation. I was excited to try this beer with my geeky friends, but I was preparing myself for it to be a mediocre beer that was riding off of the popularity of the Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire series. A limited release that is brewed by Brewery Ommegang in New York, the Iron Throne Blonde Ale is described as being brewed with grains of paradise and lemon peel. It’s a nod to the Lannister family that currently sits on the Iron Throne.

This beer is a lovely golden colour, is slightly cloudy, and is nicely carbonated. It has a nice citrus aroma that was slightly hoppy to my nose. I also detected some spices that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Taste wise, this is an easy drinking beer. It’s slightly tart—you definitely taste the citrus you smell—and pleasantly hoppy, malty, and yeasty. It almost tasted slightly sweet to me, but this was not overwhelming. I enjoyed the flavours best while the beer was nice and cold.

Yes, we tried this beer out of plastic cups. As much as we like to keep things classy, we unfortunately didn’t have access to proper glasses. (Okay, we don’t always keep things classy!)

Ommegang’s next beer in this series will be a Take the Black Stout, a stout that’s a nod to the Night’s Watch. I’ll be excited to try this one as the leaves turn yellow and the temperature drops.

Enjoy!

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Links we liked: Canadian microbreweries mapped

Plan your cross-Canada road trip with this map. [link]

Links we like: The shelf life of beer and other liquor

If you are ever wondering if Baileys improves with age: [link]

A Cocktail-a-Day #2: Paloma

untitled-0265June 04, 2013

Today was a tough day. Didn’t feel like working. Coming face-to-face with a tornado makes everything else pale in comparison. Makes everything irrelevant, mundane.

It’s the second day and I am already getting stressed out. “Why?” is something that is constantly swirling around in my head. I am going to the field next week for four days…have no idea how I am going to make a cocktail a day.

Alcohol will help me through this. haha.

But at least it was a nice sunny day, so it called for a summer-y drink like the Paloma

Paloma is actually a popular Mexican grapefruit soda that many a bartender has adapted into a cocktail. Mine is an adaptation of mixologists Phillip Ward and Jamie Boudreau’s take on this popular drink.

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Kosher salt (optional)

2 ounces blanco tequila

1 ounce fresh grapefruit juice

3/4 ounce fresh lime juice

1/2 ounce Simple Syrup

1 ounce chilled club soda

1 rosemary spring + 1 for garnish

Moisten with outer rim of a highball or Collins’ glass with a lime wedge and lightly coat with Kosher salt.

Muddle a rosemary sprig in the cocktail shaker. Add ice. Add the tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice, and simple syrup and shake well.

Strain into the glass, stir in the club soda and garnish with the additional rosemary sprig.

Discussion

I love this drink for its refreshing, herbal qualities. The Aha Toro blanco tequila I use also has a great “earthy” taste that compliments the herbal nature of rosemary.

Another way to infuse the rosemary flavour into the drink is to add it to add two rosemary sprigs to freshly made simple syrup and refrigerating it overnight. I didn’t want to bother with all that, so I simply muddled it in.

Enjoy!

A Cocktail-a-Day #1: Sweet Basil

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This is one of my perennial favourites. This is my fall back cocktail when I need to impress chicks but can’t think of anything better. The recipe is straight off the Food & Wine Cocktails ‘09 guide that I am going to be perusing liberally from over the next 365 days.

The recipe is by mixologist Todd Thrasher of the Restaurant Eve fame in Alexandria, Virginia. He has a penchant for experimenting with unlikely ingredients like pickled foams and peach “airs”…a result of working with molecular gastronomists like José Andrés. The latter trained directly under Ferran Adria of the El Bulli fame. 

Recipe

This simple recipe is brought alive by using fresh basil, preferably harvested just before making the drink:

10 basil leaves + 1 for garnish (optional)

3 oz. Little Blanc

1/2 oz. gin (Hendricks is my favourite, but any brand will do)

1 oz. Simple Syrup (1/2 oz. if you don’t like it too sweet)

In a cocktail shaker, gently muddle the basil leaves until the fragrance wafts up the cocktail shaker. Add the ice, Lillet Blanc, gin, and simple syrup. Shake well.

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Double strain (optional, I prefer bits of basil leaves in mine) and pour the drink into a chilled coupe. Garnish with the remaining basil leaf. Viola!

Discussion

Cocktail-a-Day-0166June 02, 2013I love the fruity overtones in the cocktail. Lillet is basically a brand of French aperitif wine. It’s made from a shit ton of of different grape wines and 15% macerated orange liqueurs, including green oranges (!) from Haiti. It can be had on it’s own or as part of a cocktail. And of course, who doesn’t like getting punched in the face by the sweet yet minty aroma of basil?

Even though Lillet itself is an aperitif, I think you could have Sweet Basil as either a pre- or post-dinner drink as it is just sweet enough to satisfy my dessert cravings. The 1 oz. simple syrup is a bit excessive in my opinion, as the Lillet itself is pretty sweet, but feel free to try out your own combinations.

Enjoy!

 

[NEW DISCOVERY] Gravity Espresso & Wine Bar in Inglewood

 Summary: A neat new addition to the Calgary food scene that serves up all kinds of delicious brews (alcoholic & non-alcoholic alike) and could easily serve as a space for modern art.

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I love Inglewood. Every time I go there, my spirits are automatically uplifted. I found myself in the neighbourhood yesterday again shopping at ESPY for new threads (definitely check this place out –it’s the next Banana Republic) when I stumbled upon the “Now Open” sign for Gravity. It was the perfect time for an afternoon pick-me-up, so I took the opportunity to explore this new addition to the Inglewood family.

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DSC00116The best thing about the most popular cafes is the ambiance (in addition to the coffee, of course) and Gravity does not disappoint. The interiors are a bit dark, if not moody, and has a “quiet” ambiance about it. With large pieces of art from DaDe hanging off the walls, Gravity almost feels like a Nuevo art gallery with high ceilings, hipster baristas, and a full-on chalk board menu that’s all the rage nowadays. To be honest, the high vaulted ceilings give the entire place the ambiance of a library, which to me is not a bad thing at all…I love libraries (Dan of Dan`s Goodside also has a pretty hilarious description of the ambiance here).  Gravity also hosts weekly open mic nights every Sunday and features musical guest every Wednesday.

In addition to serving the traditional caffeinated fares, Gravity also serves wine, beer, and if you are feeling real Russian, premium vodka. They have just applied for a patio permit with the City, so come summer time, you can look forward to chilling outdoors with wine or beer from Village Brewery until midnight on weekends.

Calgary-20120605-00302I personally needed a caffeine and sugar boost, so I ordered a macchiato and cheesecake (no point drinking coffee if you are not complimenting it with something sweet).

Gravity serves Phil & Sebastian coffee, which I am increasingly growing fond of. I love their storefront off of 33 Ave SW in Marda Loop and it always pleases me greatly to see a local outfit make it in the food industry. The macchiato was great – even though the sweetness of the cheesecake overpowered the espresso, it did not taste acrid. The brew went down smoothly and was rich. I am not a coffee drinker usually, but find myself increasingly drawn to it. I can’t really pick up any of the subtle flavours that a more experienced palette can pick up, but in general, coffee is a much more complex beast than wine in many ways.

The cheesecake comes in these cute containers with open lids that are topped off with a strawberry-rhubarb (?) compote. The latter was tangy but the cheesecake wasn’t too sweet, so the tanginess didn’t really help to cut down on anything. Generally speaking, I am not a big fan of these compotes as I find they ruin a perfectly good cheesecake. Next time, I am going to have to remember to tell them to leave it off.

In addition to desserts, Gravity also sells entrees like panini, soups, and cheeseboards if you are looking for a more substantial meal. I went back the next day for lunch and ordered myself a roasted vegetable + cheddar panino and a cappuccino as I wanted to have a taste of their lunch menu.

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The panino was delicious: the natural sweetness that roasting brings out in vegetables (zucchini, cauliflower, red peppers, and onions combined really well with the saltiness of the cheese and butter. All the flavours – sweet, salty, bitter and umame – came together really well, and I was pretty vowed when my brain realized what had just happened. The bread was also perfectly done, albeit a bit softer than I would have liked it, but I am just nitpicking. The cauliflower was also a bit crunchier than I would have liked.

The cappuccino was a bit disappointing, however, and that`s likely because I was drinking it while eating the panino. I found the cappuccino to be bitter to the point that I was reminded of the after-taste left in my mouth from drinking hoppy IPAs. There was also a persistent astringent after-taste at the sides of my tongue even though I cleansed my palette with water several times. The coffee had great body though: smooth and creamy, it had a very silken texture which I loved very much.

In reality, I should have asked for the cappuccino to come out after my lunch…I don`t know why these cafes serve you your coffee first if they know you have ordered lunch. Seems a bit backwards, but hey, live and learn. I will have to try their cappuccino at another time without food.

Summary

I enjoyed my time at Gravity. It’s got all the essentials a hip, urban cafe needs: art gallery modernist feel, good coffee and desserts, art hanging off the walls, and of course, hipster baristas. Pretty soon, they will also have a patio to enjoy the great Calgary summers with local beer and wine up till midnight. Keep an eye out for it…

Ranking

Kiran

Ambiance

4.5/5

Service

4/5

Taste

3.75/5

Originality

3/5

Value

3.5/5

OVERALL

18.75/25 = 75%

Gravity Espresso & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

[Beer] Review of Innis & Gunn Highland Cask Oak-Aged Beer

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I love this beer. I & G releases this limited edition once a year and I try to grab a couple whenever I can. The basic concept is this: take already good beer and make it phenomenal by aging it in rare barrels that were previously used to age 18 year old Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Bam!

I & G produces other similar lines of beer such as “Rum Cask Aged” “Irish Whiskey Cask Aged.” In fact, I & G is so popular in Canada, that they specifically brew a line of beer called the Canada Day Special, which also happens to be my favourite.

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Here is my breakdown of the Highland Cask:

DSC00034Appearance: pours clear dark copper / amber colour with a thin, short-lived head.

Taste: delicious honey-like caramel notes at the start with a slightly bitter, hoppy after-taste. Creamy and smooth.

Palate: sweet, honey-like with fruity aromas. Builds a long-lasting malt flavour in your mouth after every sip.

The beer is stronger than most at 7.1% ABV. However, it comes nowhere close to the 10% of the Canada Day Special. A 300 ml bottle of that is enough to hit me hard, especially when I am just chillin’ with friends.

A definite must-try, just like Crabbie’s Ginger Beer. Man, everything alcoholic from Scotland is so good. And…<insert funny comment about Scottish being alcoholic>. Scene. End.

Enjoy!

 

Boozin’ it up Kiwi-style 1: Pomona Traditional Apple Cider

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Pomona apple cider is second in a series of alcoholic drinks that I bought when I was over in Nz for a holiday. This drink is also brewed by Monkey Wizard, the very same brewery that I blogged about earlier when I reviewed their Wheat Ale.

I was actually more excited about this drink than the wheat ale –which turned out to be quite disappointing – even though I hadn’t tried it out at the brewery (no open bottles). The selling point basically was:

“All mainstream market ciders are shit. You need to try ours.”

Sold.

Here’s the lowdown:

IMG_1953Appearance: golden hue tinged with red. Clear in appearance, although it is supposed to be unfiltered…I didn’t notice any sediments

Aroma: apple-y

Taste: mellow, smooth, tangy with a clean finish. Bottle fermented so there wasn’t any of the sharp, pungent feel of forced-carbonation ciders like Strongbow. If you didn’t know any better, you could be fooled into thinking this was fruit juice. If you want a summary on bottle fermentation, check out out previous post here.

Palate: to be honest, I didn’t really taste much other than apples!

Monkey Wizard claims that the cider is unfiltered, unpasteurized, and fermented using only the wild yeast found on the apples. Riwaka (the town where the brewery is located) was pretty much over run with apple orchards, so I don’t doubt the claim that the cider apples have been cultivated over generations specifically cause they lend themselves well to be turned into cider.

Summary: a refreshing summer drink than can be surreptitiously fed to kids cause they won’t know the difference. Haha.

[Beer] Discoveries in Kiwiland: Monkey Wizard Wheat Ale

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One of the greatest joys of traveling for me is stumbling upon random food-related discoveries that turn out to be awesome. Ryan, Jobe, and I were on our way to kayaking in the Abel Tasman national park for a day when I saw this micro-brewery by the roadside. It was 7am in the morning, so naturally it was closed (I guess kiwis aren’t the chronic alcoholics that Brits are). However, never the one to pass up an opportunity to check out hidden discoveries, I made sure we stopped there on our way back.

Monkey Wizard Brewery is located in the village of Riwaka, about 40-50 min. drive from the town of Nelson where we were staying. The area is apparently well known for having excellent water and is ideal for growing both apples and hops. Indeed, we drove by several apple orchards on our way to Abel Tasman. The micro-brewery was  a butcher’s shop in the past that has been converted to a brewery. Apparently, the brewery hand-crafts beer in the time-honoured “single step infusion mashing technique” that was popular in turn-of-the-century UK. I don’t know what the fuck that means, but it sure sounds cool and micro-brewerish.

Anyways, on to the wheat beer. I suppose the closest equivalent to it would be BigRock Brewery’s Grasshopper. Wizard’s wheat ale though was very different from Grasshopper. It was more tangy than the ‘hopper and had a reddish tinge instead of the traditional golden hue that I have come to associate with wheat ales. I personally didn’t find it as tasty or refreshing as Grasshopper but Ryan seemed to really enjoy it and thought it was better than the latter.  It also seemed to lack any defining finish and seemed quite flat.

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The “flatness” likely comes from the bottle conditioning the beer goes through, but in this case, it doesn’t really do anything for me. The beer overall lacked any strong characteristics or defining flavours…

So my first foray into the Kiwi microbrewery scene wasn’t that exciting. That’s fine as we got to tour a few of the great wineries in the Marlborough region of South Island. Stay tuned for more updates on that front!

Till then, sit tight mofos!

[Cocktails] Feng Shui–A Perfect Harmony of Chinese, Japanese, Mediterranean, and Dutch Flavors

It feels good to be blogging again…I have been MIA for the last 3 months or so – winter is never slow in the oil patch.

I love mixing drinks…even though most uninformed and close-minded people think it’s gay, they don’t really understand the art and the joy in mixing different flavours to produce something that is beautiful.

One of my favourite books to try mixes from is the Food & Wine Cocktails ‘09 Guide. No one drink is the same as the other and almost each drink invariably requires some special ingredients that you will need to stock up on. But it’s always worth it afterwards, so even after 3 years of owning this book, I continue to try new drinks from this little handbook.

Feng Shui is an aperitif mixed up by Jamie Boudreau who got his chops making pre-dinner drinks at Vancouver’s legendary restaurant Lumiere. Boudreau apparently falls under the category of “molecular mixologist” and has experimented with some cool shit including bacon and bourbon (!).

I have wanted to try out Feng Shui for a long time, but didn’t do so out of shear laziness. I managed to finally gather all the necessary ingredients:

– 1 lychee fruit OR 1/4 oz. lychee liquor (like SOHO)

– 1 oz. sake

– 1 oz. gin

– 1/4 oz. lemon juice

– 1/4 oz. simple syrup

– 1 fresh thyme sprig

– 1 thyme sprig and skewered lychee for garnishing (optional)

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the lychee and thyme sprig.

Add ice and the rest of the ingredients (except the garnishes) and shake well for 20-30s until the shaker is all nicely frosted. Double-strain the drink into a chilled coupe and Viola!

I couldn’t find any lychees at the local Co-op and was too lazy to drive to T&T, so ended up using SOHO for the lychee flavour, which ended up working deliciously.

This is definitely a great way to start your pre-dinner drinking. The wonderful aroma of lychee harmonizes really well the gin and thyme. I couldn’t necessarily pick out the individual flavours and aromas of the thyme and juniper berries, but that could be because I was using SOHO and not lychee fruit.

Either way, a must try for all the budding mixologists and cocktail hackers out there!

-Kiran