Archive for the 'Amber Ale' Category

Max’s Belgian Beer Festival

If you had walked into Max’s Taphouse this past Thursday, you might have been sorely disappointed. The world-famous Charm City bar that otherwise boasts 140 rotating drafts and 1200 bottles had no drafts available and a limited bottle selection. Though it sounds like a dismal scene, Max’s was taking these measures to prepare for one of their biggest annual events—The Belgian Beer Festival. A 3-day event, the festival offers the largest selection of Belgian beer in the US—over 100 Belgian drafts and 200 bottles. In addition, the food menu that is otherwise saturated with gastro-pub fare experiences a Belgian makeover. Here at BarleyDine we know that nothing goes together like beer and food!

Beer lovers lined up for a taste of Belgium

I arrived at the festival on Saturday afternoon, eager to tear into some Belgian pints and plates. Not surprisingly, the line was out the door, though moving steadily. In speaking to those that had attended the event previously, we learned that we were in for a “nut-to-butt” situation once we were inside. Yes, nut-to-butt, because shoulder-to-shoulder really does not serve to describe how uncomfortably crowded it was. But that’s all part of the fun, right? Pro-tip: Go with a partner, that way you can take turns fetching beer and grub without compromising the precious couple inches of flat surface (barstool, windowsill, banaster, etc.) you managed to stake out.

See what I mean?

The food menu offered moules (mussels) prepared three different ways, a cheese plate, a meat plate, a couple salads, and a few sandwiches. I’m admittedly a shellfish lover, so I decided to start with the Moules Grand-Mère. The mussels are presented in a creamy beer sauce with bacon and in this case the beer was a framboise, which I thought was a very interesting choice. I paired this with Lindemans framboise lambic and it made for a lovely appetizer!

Moule Grand-Mère and Lindemans Framboise

Lindemans framboise is heavily carbonated and has loads of wonderful raspberry tartness, which gives it a champagne quality. It’s very drinkable with an ABV of only about 3%. The salty, smoky, crunchy bacon offset the sweet, creamy mussels really nicely. Though the raspberry is very forthright in this lambic, it was an unobtrusive compliment to the mussels and it brought out the framboise in the sauce that might have been too subtle to notice on its own.

Endive Salad with Barbãr

Later in the day I went for one of the salads—a Belgian endive salad with honey goat cheese, green apples, walnuts, and citrus vinaigrette. I paired this with Barbãr (a Belgian Honey Ale) by Brasserie Lefèbvre. This was a treat! The ale had a spicy citrus and coriander character at first, but the last note was of pure honey sweetness. The bitter endives and tart apples were nicely contrasted with the sweetness of this ale, while the honey in the goat cheese was able to shine through. Absolutely delightful! I can’t imagine a better pairing for this salad.

Other notables:  Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch on cask, Stillwater/Emelisse Collaboration Holland Oats, an amber ale with apples and oats—surprisingly hoppy with a strong apple cider flavor. I talked to several people who were excited to see so many sours on the menu, so if sours are your thing, don’t miss this festival next year!

Max's bartenders were hard at work all weekend.

If you get a chance to visit Max’s, I would highly recommend it. They have beers you never even knew you wanted to try. They also host a German beer festival in the fall that I’m sure will not disappoint. Cheers!



American Amber/Red Ale | 7.50% ABV

A – Clear copper with an inch and a half of foamy off-white head that lingers for a long time. Lots of lacing.

S – Piney hops with a little bit of slightly sour orange zest. Some toasted malt and caramel as well. Hint of something almost soapy though that brings it down from a 4.

T – Nice juicy piney hops with a hint of sweetness. Reasonably malty backbone with some biscuits and a hint of toffee. Pretty good, but not amazing.

M – Full-bodied with moderate carbonation, but with a little slick oiliness to it that’s not entirely pleasant.

D – Started out high, but after I got through most of a pint, I wasn’t ready to chug the rest of the bottle.

Pairing Suggestions: pizza, burger, seafood

beer + food = Barleydine

Beer reviewed by Tiklmelmo @ BeerAdvocate


It’s quite remarkable how many micros are now offered in a can. With the start of the can revolution coming from Oskars Blues in CO, they have certainly started a trend. Now, I have never heard of High Noon Saloon and Brewery before now, that just goes to show the amount of breweries out there canning their goods.

Weekly, either my wife or I, or possibly the two of us attend a weekly farmers market where we find the absolute freshest produce. One weekend, my wife scored a rather large eggplant for a whopping $0.50, which made multiple dinners and lunches. Anyway, of course I would want to pair a beer with the meal of the evening, which turned out to be eggplant pizza.

Pizza can be all over the board as far as flavors go, depends on who’s cooking it and what their recipe consists of. Personally I like a spicier sauce, so I go to town when I’m putting my ingredients together. There is loads of garlic flavor in the sauce that I made for the eggplant pizza, so when choosing the beer I went with something that totally contrasted the flavor. Annie’s Amber Ale proved to fit well with the meal, the sweet malt easily contrasted all the spicy flavors in the sauce. There was just enough hops to slice through the ricotta and mozarella cheeses. The carbonation cleansed the palate leaving you refreshed for the next bite.

Next time you sit down with a pizza, grab yourself some Annie’s Amber if you can find it. If not, grab your favorite Amber Ale before diving into that perfect pie.

beer + food = Barleydine


It’s not always the case that I put a lot of planning into what the wife and I will eat for dinner. Tonight was one of those nights. It was time to cook, so I grabbed a beer, hit the fridge and threw a few things together. Voila, dinner was served. When I cook, I love to have a beer there with me and tonight was no different, as I drank more ideas of how to prepare dinner came to me. It’s great, the beer steps in as my trusty assistant. The addition of bacon to the chicken was a product of my “no worries, have a beer method.” Lot’s of times, what I cook is a rendition of something I may have eaten at a restaurant or seen on tv. I have a blast doing my version of these dishes, much like a band would cover some Beatles or Dead, with a bit of their own twist to it. Tonights beer inspired the sandwich creation, which was heavily laden with flavors. Good thing I had a beer that could easily march in and cut the heavy flavors.

Tonight I whipped up a bacon and chicken melt. Perhaps even a chicken cheesesteak with bacon. It’s topped with green leaf lettuce, grape tomatoes, cheddar cheese and a slather of mayonaise. It’s a robust mouth full of flavors, so it needs a beer that’s just as robust. Like always I ended up in the basement, glancing over the beer collection, emerging with a Magic Hat Roxy Rolles. This is a very well rounded Amber Ale that matches tonights meal very well. Just the right amount of hops and malts, carries the flavors of the food to a superb finish. The beginning notes march in with a bit of malt sweetness that marry themselves very well to the caramelized flavors on the sauteed chicken. The carbonation slices directly through the bacon fat, helping the meat flavors to land every so sweetly on the tongue. The bitterness helps to carry the spiciness of black pepper and cajun spices through to a quick finish. It was a great TV meal, sit down with a beer, a sloppy sandwich and some tv. This is a must try for all.
This is a very simple meal to prepare, it takes very little time and satisfies that insatiable pang for a fatty, sloppy sandwich. Now, I keep chicken and bacon in the freezer at all times. They are staples at my house and I’m using one or the other, or both all the time. To start, get a pan rolling with some olive oil, let the pan heat up a bit before throwing the chicken in. Saute until a medium brown, this caramelizies the chicken, which will match the malt sweetness of the beer perfectly. Now, you’ve all read about how I prepare bacon, I use a large cookie sheet with an elevated rack, that keeps the bacon out of the fate. I prefer to use the oven to cook bacon, it’s uniform and even, and one less pan to watch on the stove. Try to time your bacon to finish when the chicken finishes, but if the timing doesn’t work out, just plan for the bacon to finish first. Once the meat is cooked, your ready to assemble, some of which, I prepare while the proteins cook. Slather your Italian Roll with a bit of mayo, some sliced grape tomatoes and some shredded lettuce. Be generous with the chicken, I like a full sandwich, lay on several slices of bacon and top with thick sliced cheddar cheese. Not the processed junk, get the real stuff. Once the sandwich is assembled slide it into the broiler on low, giving it just enough time to melt the cheese and brown the roll just slightly. I enjoy frittes or fries with my sandwiches, but I bake my fries. Look further into Barleydine for instructions on baking the fries. Baked fries are so much more flavorful in my opinion, given the flavor of spices are not in competition with the fried fatty flavors. A nice Amber Ale will match perfectly to all the flavors of this meal, cutting fat, matching spices and marrying with the caramelized sugars.
beer + food = Barleydine
….watch for the rest of this pairing. beer + food = Barleydine


   For years I passed on the Belgian beers but have lately found a real liking for them. Brewery Ommegang brews the most traditional Belgian styles out of any American brewery. Each and every one that I taste, I just can’t believe that I passed on these beers for so long. Hennepin, which is a Farmhouse Saison, would have to be my favorite Belgian thus far. Rare Vos though, is battling for that position tonight. Just incredible, you can almost taste the history in these beers. With a pile of complexity, Rare Vos, just tastes like perfection. Given it’s style, Amber Ale, it has a hefty, malt flavor, followed by a crisp hop bitterness. There is so much more happening in this beer, with the floral notes in the hops, the citrus aroma and the sharp CO2 that nails the tongue. I began to think as I prepared dinner that I may have paired this beer with the wrong dish. Now, I have a more or less Beauty and the Beast pairing tonight, a beautiful beer such as Rare Vos with just a simple chicken sandwich. I suppose the sandwich is more complex than that. Most would probably imagine this beer with something far more high society, but this is Barleydine, common food and excellent beer. Tonight’s sandwich was a real twist on a Honey Mustard Panini sandwich, it was so complex and layered with flavor much like the beer. The beer seemed at times to match perfectly and then the dynamics seemed to change and the match didn’t seem so right. The Honey Mustard sauce was just the right amount of spice for the hops, the sauce also lent itself well to the citrus aroma and orange flavor. There is a powerful yeasty overtone, it adds so much to the beer, to the flavor and aroma, just perfect. The malt flavors matched the chicken well, given it was prepared with a savory sauce. I must say, this was  remarkable pairing this evening. I will definitely be sure to whip this up again, besides it’s a great excuse for a Rare Vos. Though, this beer is so great, one needs no excuse to enjoy such a beauty. Read on for the dinner preparation.

   Preparing the chicken for this sandwich is quite simple. As I’ve mentioned before, I purchase large bags of frozen tenderloin at the store to keep around the house. Earlier in the day I pulled out 6 tenderloins to give them time to thaw. When your all set to cook, pour some olive oil in the pan on medium high heat. Slice your chicken and add to the warmed pan. Sautee, cooking on all sides and cut back the heat once the chicken begins to brown. At this time add your honey mustard. Now, you can make your own, I buy mine, we have a favorite at the store (Dinosaurs Creole Honey Mustard). Just look around till you find a honey mustard sauce that you really like. Add enough sauce that you coat the chicken and have a small pool in the pan. Let the pan simmer to reduce the sauce, chicken is then ready. 
   Tonight we used our new favorite bread, an extreme flat bread. It’s great, your sandwich does not end up being all bun. The sky is the limit for this part of the meal, you can add all those things you love and those you don’t. Our sandwiches consisted of feta cheese, provolone cheese and cherry tomatoes. Once all the ingredients were added to the bread, we loaded them into a panini press and cooked till golden brown. 
   This is a super easy meal that you can add just about any side dish to. Be sure though to enjoy a Rare Vos with your Honey Mustard sandwich, it will be incredible!
   Chicken = 9-13 minutes
   Sandwich = 8-10 minutes
beer + food = barleydine


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