Sunday, March 30, 2008

Locavore's Travels

I've been away--in Washington DC where I had a mixed beer experience. I'm leaving again tomorrow, Florida this time. Who knows what local beer awaits. I will report in, this time more promptly.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Pale and Blue

Here's a tip: go to the Blue Spoon on the top of Munjoy Hill. Order a Peak Pale Ale and drink it quickly while pretending to peruse the menu. Let the crisp, hoppy goodness wash away the day's challenges. Relax. Smile. Order another one. At the same time order the Pan Seared Scallops.

Nurse your Pale. Eat the scallops slowly and savor every bite. They are one of the world's great foods.

Finished? You can order the house salad, the pork loin or the hanger steak, stick with the Pale or wade into a nice red and have a meal fit for a king. You could also leave, walk over to Colucci's and get an italian sandwich and a 6-pack of PBR. Consume that at home and you've still had a meal fit for royalty. The Scallop-and-Pale combo is that good.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Catching Up on This and That

Gritty's Black Fly Stout is quite good. It compares favorably with the Shipyard Blue Fin reviewed earlier. The Black Fly is really dark, with hints of coffee flavor. It's smooth, and light in alcohol content (4.1%). It's a nice breakfast beer option. It costs (or did when I bought it) a buck more than the Shipyard--on that basis I'd opt for the Blue Fin. Of course, if price is no object, my recommendation is the Allagash Black.

Bonobo is a wood fired pizza place on Pine Street that offers delicious, and somewhat unique to Portland, pizza choices. The salads are good, too. The space is lovely, the prices reasonable. They also have an eclectic beer menu. But there's a problem: the only locavore eligible beer in the place is the dreadful Sunday River Pale (brewed by Stone Coast). Having had it before, I skipped it. Pizza and beer is a great combination. I opted for pizza and Spanish wine. Not bad, but where was the Geary's?

Bruno's is a restaurant and tavern out at Morrill's corner. We ate in the Tavern. There's a decent beer selection, I drank the Shipyard Brewer's choice. The prices change (go up) at 4:00--get there before then, enjoy sports on TV, and better food than is found at the sports bars in town (I know, that's like the smartest kid in the dumb row).

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sneak Peak

I had an opportunity to sample some of Peak Organic's finest this past week with Tim Adams, a regional manager for the Portland-based brewery. Peak is comitted to brewing with organic ingredients. They are equally comitted to a quality product, and the two beers I sampled, the Nut Brown Ale and the Pale Ale, met the mark.

The Nut Brown is rich, malty--in a chocolate toasted malt sort of way--and yet crisp at the finish. A nice, tasty beer that I could easily drink a lot of, without worrying about a pesticide "hangover".

The Pale was a special treat. We drank it at the Great Lost Bear, which is the only place that Peak distributes firkins of the product. The result: a cask conditioned beauty of a beer--served cool, not cold, and with carbonation provided only by the cask and the strong right arm of the barmaid.

Peak Pale is a hoppy pale--bordering on IPA level hoppiness. By hops I mean cascade hops, less sophisticated, maybe, but much more flavorful than their British brethren. It's great. I'm going to try the bottled version soon (probably not for a few hours, though) but I've been jonesing for a return trip to the GLB for the cask-conditioned stuff ever since I left there.

Peak Organic is the brainchild of Jon Cadoux. The Pale is essentially the recipe he used as a home brewer. Peak has hired Shipyard to do their brewing now. And under the watchful eye of Portland's unofficial brewer laureate, Alan Pugsley, the brewing quality is a lock, although extremism is unlikely (and I'm a bit of a sucker for extremism). In addition to the beers I sampled, Peak brews an Amber Ale, and recently bottled a Maple Oat beer. Rumor has it that they will offer a somewhat unique white (a tough product to differentiate) in the summer.

If you are out and about, Peak is available at the following venues:

Fore Street
Vignola (soon)
Cinque Terre (soon)
Green Elephant
Big Easy
Beale St. BBQ (rotates)
Frog N' Turtle, Westbrook (rotates)


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Flawed Information

I decided to cook Thai food last night. Normally, I cook Thai at Pom's on Congress Street or Saeng Thai House on St. John's Street. But both of those stops mean a commitment to Shipyard Export (potable, but not my favorite) while the staff is pulling together the ingredients. So I decided to cook at Chaing Mai, and take advantage of the $2.50 micro-brewed pints offered at 3$ Deweys before and during the cooking process.

I'd sourced the beer special here. The problem is, 3$ Deweys wasn't running the special. It's bad information! Oh well, even a full priced HSA or 3 is worth it. The Pad Thai was overcooked, though.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Black For Breakfast

Somewhat predictably, since it had been several hours since the last storm, we had a fairly significant overnight snowstorm that continued into the morning. I dug the car out and made my way to the gym only to discover that it was closed due to the storm. Since the workout was not going to happen I shifted my focus to breakfast.

Stout beers--think Guiness as the prototype--are dark, full-bodied and flavorful. They tend towards smokey flavors--coffee and toast (slightly burnt) come to mind. Malt, grain, oatmeal (and some stouts literally include oatmeal) are other flavors I associate with stouts. To me, stout is a breakfast beer.

Generally, and somewhat counter intuitively, stouts are fairly low in alcohol content. Guiness, the standard-bearer, weighs in at a Bud Light-level 4.2% ABV. To start my breakfast off right, however, I cheated, and drank a bottle of Allagash Black. Delicious! Coffee and toast and grain and malt--healthfood, really, and 7.5% ABV that kicks the day off right. It's a wonderful beer from my favorite brewery (have I outed myself before with this revelation?) but, in fairness, it's $12 per 750 ML bottle. Not cheap. I had a brief moment of panic when the cork broke off cleanly in my hand as I was opening the bottle. But using skill, determination, athleticism, and a versatile corkscrew, I was able to open the bottle.

Next up: Shipyard's Blue Fin Stout. It's great, and very reasonable at $3 per 22 ounce bottle. This is a beer notable for its smokiness. I'd drink the Allagash Black anytime, this one seems wrong for most occasions. But on a stormy winter day, it works.

I bought two other beers for my stout sample. Gritty's Black Fly Stout and Black Bear Brewing's Deamon Stout. I mapquested the Black Bear when I got home and discovered that Orono was 137 miles from Portland. Locavore ineligible! A disaster averted only by loyal reader Sam's offer to dispose of the beer. I'll need to report back on the Black Fly. I'm full (stouts are filling) and sated and ready for a post-breakfast nap.