Loose Cannon

Week 12 in the Year of Drinking Adventurously!  Cask conditioned Ales.

For my adventure this week, I drank Heavy Seas Brewing Company’sheavyseas_banner Loose Cannon on cask.  This is not a beer you find at the supermarket or the beer distributor.  A cask conditioned ale is only found on tap at a pub or restaurant.  This is a very cool thing, people!  Imagine having fresh beer, full of flavor, not force carbonated, poured from a wooden cask via gravity, the way a pub owner would have served you in the days before mass-produced beer.  Oh, and it’s not ice cold, either.  Say what, now?

First of all, the casks:

Remember the post about bourbon barrel aged beer?  How brewers are using discarded bourbon barrels to age a Belgian Tripel, for example?  The barrel actually adds flavor to the brew.  Heavy Seas uses not just one type of barrel to condition the ale.  From their website:  “In our collection of casks, we possess 11 wooden barrels. These barrels vary in age and make: American or European oak, toasted or untoasted wood, converted from wine or whiskey barrels. Wooden casks like these bring history and flavor nuances to the beer.”

The way it’s conditioned:

Before the ale has been filtered, carbonated, or kegged, it gets siphoned into a cask.  The casks are stored in a ‘cellar’ for a time, allowing the yeast to settle to the bottom.

The way it’s served:

At cellar temperature, which is maybe in the 50-degree range, cool but not cold.  But serving at that temperature doesn’t numb your taste buds and all the flavors can come through. Speaking of flavors, the Loose Cannon is an IPA (India Pale Ale).   It isn’t really bitter like some IPAs but has a little hint of grapefruit and pine that ease up the hoppy-ness.

I would love to tell you that I sat at a several hundred-year-old public house having an Imperial Pint with a crowd of rowdy patrons, cheering for the local football club (and by football, I mean soccer my American friends…) but alas I sat in an anonymous sports bar that just happens to have an incredible beer selection.  So I sipped my Loose Cannon while watching multiple athletic competitions on 60 TVs.  And it wasn’t even basketball.  Sigh…

Oh, and in case you were wondering?  Of my five brackets, two of them are still ranked in the top half of all brackets in the challenges I entered!  Not too shabby!  Go Villanova!!!

Make sure to visit Lula and see what she drank this week!

Yo, it’s Philly.

Week 8 in The Year of Drinking Adventurously!

Rye beer is here.  Before you get all up in my face about Thomas Jefferson being from Virginia, let me explain.  Yards Brewing Company is a local Philadelphia microbrewery with a collection of beers called “Ales of the Revolution” which (supposedly) follow the tradtional recipes created by the Founding Fathers – Thomas Jefferson being one.  The brewmaster at Yards worked with along Philadelphia’s famous City Tavern, which dates from pre-Revolutionary times, to come up with the recipe for Thomas Jefferson’s Tavern Ale.  It’s a golden ale, crafted with rye as one of its malted grains.

51fffcpqPZL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_According to Jeff’s book:  “… it was fairly common for brewers to supplement barley malt and other grains with rye during colonial times.  It was more about what was available to them at the time, than it was about a particular flavor profile they were pursuing.”

If old Tommy’s recipe has been authentically reproduced, then this is a really great ale.  And at 8% alcohol, it’s a butt kicker!  The brewmaster recommends pairing the tavern ale with a rich, fatty meat like roast duck.  I drank mine with “locally sourced” potato chips.  I found the pairing to be quite enchanting.  The saltiness of the chips was subtly complimented by the liquidity of the ale.  That tangy rye flavor added a little zing to the otherwise bland potato.  And chips are fatty, right?  It’s kind of like roast duck, in that sense.

I am disappointed that Yards doesn’t give John Adams some love.  He is my favorite Founding Father.  Mostly because of David McCullough’s book “John Adams” and the HBO miniseries it spawned.  John Adams and his wife, Abigail, were the nation’s first power couple.

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Image via the New Republic

Abby was a force in her own right – my kind of lady!  The letters they wrote to each other are eloquent, intelligent and absolutely beautiful.  They called each other “my dearest friend” which I find oddly romantic.  I cried at the end of the book when Abigail died.  Oops – spoilers!

Oh well, perhaps Adams wasn’t the party animal Jefferson, Franklin and Washington were.  But since he “paired” so well with Jefferson, perhaps we could at least name a roast duck dish for him.

Don’t forget to stop by and see what Lula drank this week!