Imbibe Hour

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Beer and bargains, playing is half the fun, but time waits for no thirsty man

DC Brau's Stone of Arbroath at Bier Baron
DC Brau's Stone of Arbroath at Bier Baron
There are two things that you can't get away from when going out to enjoy good beer.  One is that you will be able to have beer on tap which is something you can't do at home (unless you have your own home bar and kegerator).  The second is, usually you will be spending more money, particularly when it comes to drinking non macro produced brews.

For me, drinking beer in the DC area can be expensive, that is why I was so excited in early April to read about a promotion that was going on for neighborhood bars and restaurants.

The Washington Post had an article about a passport that you could get to promote DC beer week. You buy a small badge for $10 dollars, visit the venues and you could get certain discounts.  The deals on beer varied from venue to venue.  Churchkey for example, had a promotion for the badge to have half off any cask beer on Mondays.  It was obvious when I looked at the offer the badge price would be quickly compensated for the deals that were offered.  The real kicker was that if you visited all of the places in your passport, you would get stamped, and could enter your passport in a drawing.  15 winners would get a $50 dollar gift certificate to 1 of the 15 bars, and... wait for it... 1 grand prize for $50 gift certificates to.. ALL OF THEM.  Looking at the list there were many venues I was quite often a visitor, some that I had not visited in some time, and some that I have never been to.  It was time to move post haste and get my badge and earn the prize... or... not.  Perhaps it is of no use to mention this deal now, since the end of April is upon us, but if I could make one saving grace to tell you about this promotion, it is that I have not got a chance to grab the brass ring.  But I tried!!  and found also some real new interesting things along the way.

Nugget Nectar at Churchkey
Nugget Nectar at Churchkey
The first place I thought of going to was an obvious one and that was Churchkey.  I am at this place often, and it is no stranger to anyone in the DC area as a premier destination for beer.  Here is a place to chase 40 taps and a bottle list that fits in a huge binder.  If you are a beer nut/geek/dork/freak, you need to visit.  It was also one visit here that during my passport hunt I met someone I will refer to as only "The Man".

"The Man", like myself, is a guy who comes into Churchkey with pen and paper in hand to review, not unlike me and many other beer reviewers.  There is one exception. "The Man" is retired, he's also much older than myself and is up to nearly 10,000 personal reviews of beers.  Striking a conversation with him we could talk about beers till we were blue in the face.  The hardest part, was he wouldn't let me leave!  Needless to say, I still had to figure out how to get to all these other places on my passport.  Me and "the man's" path I am sure will cross again.

Meridian Pint was a no brainer, It's often in between my work and on the way home so that was no big deal.  The Dupont Circle area was close to my area for work for after tipples that fit places like Pizza Paradiso, Kramers, Bier Baron  and so forth.  A few spot places could also be managed.  But how was I going to do the rest?  It was obvious that a good chunk involved a return trip to the Adams Morgan neighborhood.  The last time I was there to imbibe was during my last bachelor party which should put things into perspective, and will be a story I won't dare repeat here.  So what's new in Adams Morgan 7-8 years later?

Jack Rose bar
One of three walls of Jack Rose
I went to a place that never existed back in the day called Jack Rose.  Upon walking in, my eyes nearly exploded.  Rows, and ROWS and ROWS lined the shelves filled with mostly whiskey bottles.  I was rather stunned to see so many bottles on display, it was a physical library of whiskey.  I grabbed a seat though thinking about what beer to have, and more importantly, if the beer selection would be just an afterthought to the whiskey choices offered here.  With 20 choices on tap and a quick glance of the handles my mind was made up in an instant.
Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche on tap at Jack Rose
Schlenkerla Eiche on tap at Jack Rose
Peering out was a familiar name, and more so, it's name on a distinct green background that makes me drool everytime on first sight, that beer name is Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche, their oak smoked rauchbier.  I love this beer to death.

The tap list here at Jack Rose seems to focus on malty offerings, a Smoked and Oaked Epic beer popped out as well.  No doubt the offerings here at Jack Rose are bent to hit on the whiskey smokiness offerings, and the beers seem to hint at dark richness focusing on malt and smoke.  It is a place that I need to visit again.  A quick chat of the bartender mentioned that the place has the largest whiskey selection in the United States.  I really need to return...

Summer Solstice - Anderson Valley at Smoke & Barrel
Smoke & Barrel was another place I visited that is also new.  This place was a mystery to me at first, and it sort uh... made me wonder what happened to the old Asylum that use to be around here?  I quickly forgot settling in with a familiar favorite cream ale from Anderson Valley, their Summer Solstice.  Really nice atmosphere, and very friendly staff was what I left with for an impression.  The place contains BBQ but I did not have any when I visited at the time.

Tryst tap shot and staff photos in Adams Morgan
Being in Adams Morgan reminded me for an overdue visit to a place I always think of, but never get a chance to visit as much as I would like and that is Tryst.  A great coffee house, it has had what I would consider a very noticeable make over since my last visit.  Where is all the ratty ripped furniture?  Woah these walls are actually painted (and cleaner).  Still the portraits on the wall of the coffee staff are still there, this time against a clean yellow creme background.  I still get a kick out of the one guy who has a cup of joe over his groin, the camera angle posed and shot to make it look like he's a pic right of an ... ahem... porno mag.  Hey your espresso isn't THAT big buddy... ;)

Espresso at Tryst
Espresso at Tryst
I was surprised they were participating in the promotion for beer, I couldn't even remember if they even served beer back in the day?

Still, I took a breather and had of course great coffee. I almost forgot one of my favorite touches they have when they serve, and that is, animal crackers on your saucer.  Even though I didn't have any alcohol they still stamped my passport which was nice, remarking that it was yellow and VERY hard to see.

The Totality Incomplete
The totality incomplete
Still, after all this time adventuring, I am still not finished.  Time has nearly run out, and even the budget with the discount hasn't quite made it happen.  Technically of this writing I could "still" complete this passport but I am down to four places.  One is in my favorite DC neighborhood of H ST NE, called Granville Moore's.  Another is the District Chophouse that servers a nice side of corn bread in a cast iron skillet the size of your face.  The Big Hunt, while also in the Dupont neighborhood has always eluded me...  But as I understand it, when May 1st comes time is up for the passport.

I suppose.. and I say this with all hypothetical possibilities cause what I am about to say next is "technically" possible... BUT.. I could visit all of the four remaining places within the next 48 hours.

Somehow though the time and the funds always seem to run out, but the good beer and places in DC never does.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Return to form, the bar is back and open, flying high with an Aviation cocktail

The bar is back.  While I was in between houses, I got stuck with lots of my wares in boxes.  The bar was one such thing.

Time waits for no one.  There is a saying that whiskey never keeps. But the reality is that nothing should be locked up that you wouldn't want to share it's greatness.

I decided after setting up the bar that I needed an introductory cocktail to christen it if you will.  Any what a perfect cocktail to debut than the Aviation.

The Aviation cocktail uses a real unique ingredient called Crème de Violette, a liqueur made and described as capturing the fragrance of the native Austrian wildflowers of Queen Charlotte and March Violets.  Pouring and making this drink is truly like soaring high.  Shaken with lemon juice a whispy cloud hits but gives the colors of streaking gray and blue, and violent tinges.  With this drink you will want to climb high, and never come down.

I also decided with the inaugural bar initiation to make a discussion on what a proper cocktail glass should be. To learn more on how to make this drink, and to also see a little bit of what I call cocktail glass 101, check out the video below.

Cheers!!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter and beer, and a fun seasonal from Het Anker

When it comes to Easter, my first thoughts go to what I am having for dinner.  Being that I grew up just having excuses to cook a big meal on holidays that I was never exactly "one to observe" so to speak, I was never one to complain.  Holidays meant an excuse to eat and drink well, no matter your disposition.

However, I got quite bored and even more disgusted with the signature disk on Easter and that is of ham.

Ham I grew up with was the typical overly pink, water injected, and as I soon experienced coming to the DC area, can be hell on earth that is salty.  One Christmas I went hole hog into it and bought what I and my family will only refer to as "the salt lick" of death.  Long story short, it was a Christmas ham I wish I could forget.  "You making another Mongolian salt mine again?!" my dad sent in his email when I told him the plans I had.  If there was anything it would have to be the amount of ridicule that probably got me more motivated. I refused to be mocked, I wanted revenge on this beast, I am going to destroy this ham!

I went for it again this Easter, while in the back of my thoughts I was thinking duck... just so I could be different.  Since a duck around this time let alone a good one is probably not the most easiest to acquire, and pork was in abundance, ham just made me cave in.  My mind panicked as to how badly I would either, a) Hate this thing with strong compassion or b) how badly I would screw this up.

I grabbed a good ham from my organic farmer's market, a Mulefoot butt roast.  Huge hunk of meat, and also a huge hunk out of my wallet.  I figured this is a real bad way to screw up an expensive piece of meat at $9.99 a pound.  Examining the picture I'll let you guess how much that thing weighed (then do the math).

I closed my eyes and handed over my credit card, dreaming of the glaze that would come, the oven that could handle it, and the salt lick past ready to bury into oblivion.

A few hours of prep the day before (scoring the ham and a bit of marinating, the next daya glazing of honey and mustard and vinegar, smoke that filled my house for 30 minutes as I seared it for 20 minutes at 425 first before turning it down, I had lift off, once my instant read thermometer took nearly 4 hours to get to a good internal temperature.  ARE WE DONE YET?? I kept asking myself while friends nibbled on a turkish meze of celery root and carrots with homemade pita bread my wife made.  The die was cast, WE EAT NOW!  Friends could partake, and boy did we ever.

Pictured left was a big dent we put in it, as the jewels of fat glistened everywhere.  I grabbed my latest gadget, an electric carving knife.  My god this is my favorite kitchen items and would describe it as the best tool ever in a kitchen.  Nothing makes a man feel like a man after 4 hours of slaving a hot roast, having fat burned on your arms, lifting a giant pan, and ripping into the beast with a chainsaw to extract a hard slaving work of cooking and basting.

Along with all the food I also took part in enjoying an Easter Ale beer from Het Anker, which is a seasonal beer released specifically around this time.

Wonderful match and interesting take on a Belgian Strong Dark Ale.  Malty but also a big candy licorice and perhaps even some mint and menthol like action on the finish.  Certainly an interesting beer to imbibe on Easter.

But nope, not done.  Enter crepes again and for Easter more beer.

Chimay Bleu rounded out the evening of some beer imbibing fun.  These crepes I didn't actually prepare myself, it was from our friend (who also added Noir dark chocolate hazelnut spread from Belgium too).

Beer and Easter just works in the most peculiar way I must admit.  Now I have 8 days of ham to eat for left over.  Pork... so dam good, and take that SALT LICK!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Enjoying passions, one thing at a time. After the ride with Throttler magazine

Riding motorcycles.

I am by no means the best rider on the planet, or even the most experienced, but one thing I always wanted was a bike.  After eventually learning how to ride one through the MSF, I discovered that drinking and riding was a no go.  A real NO GO.  But that didn't mean I couldn't combine my passions the correct way.

I eventually got enough experience to take longer rides, and with a goal in mind once luggage became the ultimate cool accessory, (more so than a Yoshi Pipe) I found myself riding to vineyards in Virginia at times, checking out scenic trails and the fantastic Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park.  I would find myself more in the scene, glancing at rolling green hills, old mountains of the Appalachia, chances to partake of fresh fruit, wine tasting (spitting), the sun shined as if the day would never end.  Then someone came calling.

I received an invitation to write for a motorcycle magazine called Throttler.  I've actually written my first article, and if you check the link up above you can see the article I wrote.

Throttler magazine is published out of Iowa, it's free if you find a copy at a local dealership where it might be distributed.  The articles deal with a ride variety of motorcycle culture so please go check it out.

One last obvious thing, don't drink and ride EVER, that means ZERO CONSUMPTION while riding.  Stick to the formula and you get to ride again.  (You'll notice that all my bottles in this pics are of course UN-OPENED!)  Even better yet... you'll have another drink when you're done!

Cheers and ride safe and smart, and then...

Drink well!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Breakfast and beer, Belgian Crêpes make it happen

I love crêpes to death.  As a young kid raised on loving pancakes with maple syrup and butter, my mom would make crêpes mostly on Christmas Eve as a special treat.  As I got older my sweet tooth really disappeared (probably because I had 8 cavities and root canal by the time I was 12) and I would love stuffing crêpes with ham, cheese, shrimp and seafood.  There is no limit to the imagination what you can stick in a crêpe.  But better yet why not use beer to make them?

I came across a Belgian crêpe recipe in the Washington Post, and used a great Belgian Pale Ale called Troubadour Blond to make them with.  Watch the video below to see how you can make these wonderful tasty breakfast meal.