Tag Archive | "Beer of the Week"

Beer of the Week: Fat Tire Amber Ale

The first beer of vacation is always the most enjoyable. The promise of adventures to come is loaded into each sip as its bubbles happily pop on their way down your throat, urging you on to new frontiers.

And happy is just how I feel as I sit in the Alamo City Microbrewery & Grill at the San Antonio International Airport with a pint in front of me.

The copper color gleams in the dim room and I have to hold it up to my laptop screen to get a good look at its deep, rich beauty.

There isn’t much of a head, and only the tiniest ring of lacey foam around the top edge. It was probably the way the beer was siphoned from the tap, slow and steady against the glass to avoid as much head as possible. At $6.75 a pint (airport prices, remember), the customers are  sure to want every last drop that will fit in the glass.

A sniff doesn’t reveal much  beyond a touch of hops, malt and the tiniest bit of fruit. But a sip, followed by a big gulp, reminds me of why this beer from the New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colo., is such a pleasure, especially when nothing else is pressing for the rest of the day. The hops and malt, with a pleasant touch of caramel, become much more robust, with the bitterness from the hops disappearing mid-palate into a refreshing, almost water-like flavor, as if it were tapping into some Colorado mountain spring. (It’s not watery, mind you; but it is clean and, to someone as tired as I am, revivifying.)

The finish is odd, yet in a good way. A pleasant hoppy bitterness mixed with a coolly metalic element isn’t readily apparent, yet it makes itself known after a bit and lingers long after the first pint is finished.

You could pair this beer with plenty of foods, from Buffalo wings and chips with salsa, even a habanero salsa, to a mixed grill platter. The New Belgium website offers a recipe for ColoRouge Beer Cheese Soup that would be great any time of year.

Well, one escape has led to another. It’s almost time to board …

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Beer of the Week: Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale



Beer of the Week is sponsored by the Lion & Rose. Each week, we introduce you to a wonderful brew that’s a little bit different and well worth seeking out.





Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale

There are some weeks when nothing but the best will do. When you get  in that frame of mind and you want a brown ale, then reach for Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale. It’s that good.

This British beer from Tadcaster in North Yorkshire has long been a favorite, but I hadn’t tried it for awhile  until recently. The first was so good I couldn’t resist having a second.

The first thing you notice as you pour it into you pint glass is that the color is a little browner than you might except, with the beer giving off more of a tea color than the hints of deep reddish-brown you might have expected. The head certainly rises, a healthy two or three fingers deep and only dissipates slightly in the glass over time.

As the name makes plain, a nutty aroma arises from the beer (think just-roasted hazelnuts), and it is matched by a sweet toffee or caramel scent mixed with yeast.

You’ll pick up on flavors of each of those foods, but this beer doesn’t stop there. There’s a touch of citrus, some roasted malt and a even a hint of something peaty, like scotch, before you notice the great schemes of balance and contrast the brewer seems to having fun with. The nuts and caramel are perfect complements, making you think of an adult candy, while the sweet is met full on by the bitter elements, down to the finish. Complex, rewarding and ultimately refreshing.

This is the kind of brew that loves beef. At the Lion and Rose, that could mean anything from Sidekick Sliders, any of the pub burgers, the sirloin steak sandwich or the Roast Beast with its cheddar and horseradish.

Grab yourself a four-pack and treat yourself to a complex ale that will make the rest of the week fade into a welcome glass of hazelnut and caramel richness.

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Beer of the Week: Five for Fiesta



Beer of the Week is sponsored by the Lion & Rose. Each week, we introduce you to a wonderful brew that’s a little bit different and well worth seeking out.





Let’s face it, Fiesta is not just a party for one day. It’s a party that tests endurance as well as wallet, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

So, here are five beers that won’t tax your wallet. They also taste great without taxing your attention too much. Plus, some of them are light enough to enjoy if the temperatures get hot, which they have been known to do this time of year.

As always, remember to drink responsibly, during Fiesta and any time. Have a designated driver or call a cab if you’ve had to much, whether it’s at a friend’s house or NIOSA.

Red Stripe — This Jamaican beer adds life to the party. It’s a great sipper and it’s perfect with street food, such as overstuffed gorditas sizzling hot out of the fryer.

Real Ale Firemens #4 Blonde Ale — This local favorite would work with pretty much any dish you might set out. Or you could just enjoy a few by themselves. Your mouth will enjoy the treat.

Harp Lager — Good ol’ fried food, whether it’s chicken on a stick like they serve at the Oyster Bake, fried mushrooms or calf fries, goes down much easier with a clean, cold brew. Simple yet full of flavor, Harp fills the bill.

Pilsner Urquell — Add a little Czech touch with this brew from the town where pilsners originated. One sip will make you want to enjoy many more.

Dogfish 60 Minute IPA — Grilling up some sizzling anticuchos at your home to share with friends? Or a ceviche with plenty of serrano to give it an extra kick? Then reach for this hoppy treat, with a pleasant bitterness that stands up to the heat.


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Beer of the Week: Blanche de Bruxelles



Beer of the Week is sponsored by the Lion & Rose. Each week, we introduce you to a wonderful brew that’s a little bit different and well worth seeking out.





Blanche de Bruxelles

It’s a good thing Carly Simon wasn’t a Blanche de Bruxelles drinker back when she wrote “You’re So Vain,” or we might all have been singing, “I had some dreams, they were clouds in my beer.”

There certainly are clouds in this beer, clouds of yeast that swirl around with each sip.

The unfiltered brew from Belgium, a white or weiss beer (or “Witteke,” according to the beer’s website), can be had on tap at the Lion and Rose or you might be able to find it in the bottle. I had a pint with dinner the other night. When the glass arrived at the table, the head had already settled into a nice lace at the top, which also boasted a slice of lemon.

That spritz of lemon added to the lively orange peel and coriander aromas mixed with wheat and a touch of hops and a faint sense of clove.

The hoppy element becomes more prominent on the palate, as a bitterness with a twinge of freshly mown grass is evident, along with the same notes of orange, spice and wheat. Nothing is particularly strong, everything seems to work together in harmony as it slides down easily to a clean, dry finish.

In other words, waitress, bring another.

If you want to pair this with food, think of dishes as light as the beer. At the Lion and Rose, bangers and mash would work well, with the nutmeg of the sausages sidling up nicely to that hint of clove. Begger’s Pouches, pasta with four types of cheese, would also be perfect, as would the King William’s Turkey BLT or the Vegetarian Pita.

Whatever you choose, be sure to welcome the clouds in your beer. You’ll love the rustic texture that comes with the flavor.


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Beer of the Week: Five Beers That Go with Ham



Beer of the Week is sponsored by the Lion & Rose. Each week, we introduce you to a wonderful brew that’s a little bit different and well worth seeking out.





What's on tap for Easter?

Sunday is Easter, and hams are practically flying out of the supermarket. So, many possibilities await home cooks. You could dress it up sweet with a honey glaze or brown sugar. You could go savory with mustard and spices. You could go salty with a country ham or smoke it until it boasts a great hickory or pecan flavor.

All these possibilities mean a host of possibilities for the beer that you want to go with dinner.

Here are five brews we have featured in the past and reasons why each would go with that centerpiece.

Franziskaner Weissbier: This German beauty is great with ham and other light foods. Notes of clove and coriander on both the nose and in the flavor make it a great companion to the old-fashioned but ever-welcome style of covering your ham with pineapple slices adhered with cloves. My mom used to make ham like that, and it’s still a crowd-pleaser.

Lindemans Pomme Lambic: Pork and apples are natural companions, so why not try an apple-flavored brew with ham of any style? Lindemans’ lineup of lambic is a great choice if you want to serve people who think they don’t like beer.

Smithwick’s: This Irish ale is rich and fruity with a pleasant touch of bitterness, just right if you’re going with a smoky ham or even with grilled ham steaks. It also will like your mashed potatoes and most all of your side dishes.

Real Ale Firemans #4 Blonde Ale: This local brew night not be the best match with a ham that’s been heavily sweetened, but it’s versatile enough to go with just about every other style, from country ham to one rubbed in a mustard sauce. It’s also coolly refreshing if you’re having a picnic in the heat.

Bard’s Sorghum Malt Beer: This is a great addition if any of your guests are avoiding gluten, but it’s also a fine enough brew to hold its own against a honey-glazed ham.

Happy Easter!

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Beer of the Week: Pilsner Urquell

Pilsner Urquell

I remember visiting the town of Pilsen, or Plzen, in the Czech Republic about 20 years ago. My sister and brother-in-law had taken me to Prague and we drove through on our way back to their home in Germany. There wasn’t time to tour the beer museum there, but there was time to have a cool, refreshing stein of Pilsner Urquell.

This is the beer that is the standard of all pilsners, and it’s a beauty.

Pour it into a tall, thin glass and enjoy the luscious yellow color that suggests straw in the summer. The head builds but settles so quickly it’s fairly negligible.

The nose is filled with yeast with some grassy, floral hops underneath.

Your first sip is filled with malt and yeast. It’s only on a second sip that you get a hint of sweetness —lemon and honey, maybe — as well as bitter hops and a touch of straw to match the color. The finish is clean and slightly bitter, drawing you back for more.

It’s not terribly complicated. It’s more about pure liquid refreshment. And in that, Pilsner Urquell delivers.

It also goods great with food. At the Lion and Rose, think fried for some fun match-ups. Try Chips and Petals (fried potato coins and onions), Limerick Fries (fried green beans) or Bloke’s Mushrooms. The Fish, Feather and Shell (fried fish, chicken strip and shrimp) would work just fine, but so would a pairing with a salad or even Parmesan-crusted Tilapia. Just forget about the dessert; it’s a little too bitter for sweets.

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Beer of the Week: Belhaven Scottish Ale



Beer of the Week is sponsored by the Lion & Rose. Each week, we introduce you to a wonderful brew that’s a little bit different and well worth seeking out.




Belhaven Scottish Ale

It’s amazing that the people of Scotland can be known for producing both the magnificent complexity of finely aged Scotch and the bizarre oddity that is haggis, a mash of sheep’s organs (heart, liver and lungs) with oatmeal, suet and seasonings.

Thankfully, the Scottish brew Belhaven is more like the former than the latter. This is one beautiful brew, marked by its rusty appearance, with flashes of red and copper. When you pour it, the off-white head climbs fairly high but dissipates relatively quickly to a nice lace.

A nutty aroma with the sweet pull of toffee greets your nose with subtle notes of malt, yeast and even coffee rounding out the edges.

Pleasant, yes, but not as enjoyable as the flavor. Malt and coffee mingle more forceful on the palate than in the bouquet, with hops and caramel offering a delicious balancing act of bitter and sweet.The finish is dry and delicious, making this eminently quaffable. So, have another print and enjoy responsibly.

It’s fairly easy to pair this ale with food. Think of anything with beef and you should be happy. At the Lion and Rose, that could be one of the steaks or the Sidekick Burgers, sliders worth sharing with friends as a meaty snack. Shepherd’s Pie, with its dense potato topping covering slow-cooked beef, or even a pasty, a kind of British empanada with ground beef, potato, onion and more in pastry and crowned in onion gravy.

It might even go well with haggis, but, thankfully, that’s not on the menu at the Lion and Rose.

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Beer of the Week: Stella Artois


Beer of the Week is sponsored by the Lion & Rose. Each week, we introduce you to a wonderful brew that’s a little bit different and well worth seeking out.





Stella Artois

This lager is probably Belgium’s most famous beer. Not necessarily the best, mind you, but certainly the most popular.

Popularity is, after all, determined by those qualities that are most desired and yet can also appeal to the public at large. So, don’t expect Stella Artois (pronounced R-twah) to provide the same complexity you’ll find in the Chimay brews or an Orval. But do expect a finely crafted beer that’s great for quaffing on a hot day.

In other words, grab a six-pack of this if you’ve got to mow the lawn and put in any spring flowers this weekend. You’ll be able to reward yourself for a job well done. And if it rains, you can still reward yourself for your good intentions.

What you’ll notice first when you start pouring the beer is a gorgeous golden color that shows off the wheat to good effect. The head builds nicely but soon dissipates to little lacing around the edge.

The brewery suggests you pour it into a chalice, and it even offers deals on its website where you can get your own engraved chalice to drink it from. Click here to learn more.

The nose is filled with wheat and a slight skunky quality that’s not off-putting, just somewhat odd.

The taste is what makes the beer so popular. It’s pleasant, with a refreshing lightness and clean feeling that has a touch of wheat and an even lighter note of hoppiness. The finish is dry and a touch bitter, in the best way possible.

This is lager at its most essential. It tastes like beer, like what you think of when you think of beer, like beer on a Platonic level.

So, don’t think. Drink.

That’s what people love about Stella Artois and it’s what will have you wanting more.

It’s perfect with a great deal of flavors, so you can have with whatever you have a hankering for. At the Lion and Rose, you could start with spicy Hackney Hot Wings or go with something as comforting and earthy as Holloway Road Hummus. Then move on to a Lion and Rose Garden Salad with cheddar, bacon and egg or Fin, Feather and Shell, a fried plate of fish, chicken and shrimp.

You might want to finish the Artois before dessert, because its bitterness will fight sweets. Or you could have another instead of dessert.



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Beer of the Week: Real Ale Firemans #4 Blonde Ale



Beer of the Week is sponsored by the Lion & Rose. Each week, we introduce you to a wonderful brew that’s a little bit different and well worth seeking out.




Real Ale Firemans #4 Blonde Ale

OK, let’s get the bad out of the way first: This beer has the worst grammar of any I’ve seen on the market lately. What exactly is a “Firemans”? The plural of “fireman” is “firemen” and the possessive of “fireman” is “fireman’s,” which leaves us with no place for a poor “Firemans” to go, except in my belly.

Now that my inner copy editor had his say, it’s time to concentrate on what Real Ale in Blanco gets right with this brew, which is just about everything else.

The beer boasts a shimmering golden color with a slightly cloudy tinge that is reminiscent of lemons. A healthy head foams up, but after a few minutes, it settles into a nice lacing around the upper edge.

Lemons come to mind again on first sniff, because that bright citrus dominates the aroma, though a touch of yeast and malt is also present.

Citrus with a lively layer of hoppy bitterness dominate the flavors, and these get more pronounced the warmer the beer gets. But either cold or room temperature, it is refreshing, cutting through anything heavy you may be eating or complementing a touch of spice. It all ends in a dry, clean finish that makes you thirsty for more.

This beer is versatile when it comes to pairing it with food. At the Lion and Rose, you could match it with a bowl of Belgian mussels in a white wine mirepoix or snack through a basket of Bloke’s Mushrooms with ranch dressing. Or you could match it with a more substantial plate, such as Langostino Tilapia with its buttery sauce or the vegetarian Beggar’s Pouches, pasta filled with four types of cheese.

So, put the fire out with a Firemans #4 and leave the grammar to someone else to fix.

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Beer of the Week: Dogfish 60 Minute IPA



Beer of the Week is sponsored by the Lion & Rose. Each week, we introduce you to a wonderful brew that’s a little bit different and well worth seeking out.




Dogfish 60 Minute IPA

Give me an IPA, or India Pale Ale, with an extra jolt of hoppy bitters, and I’m happy. Needless to say, I fell for Dogfish 60 Minute IPA from the first sip.

The brew’s website explains the name: “60 Minute IPA is continuously hopped — more than 60 hop additions over a 60-minute boil. (Getting a vibe of where the name came from?).  60 Minute is brewed with a slew of great Northwest hops. A powerful but balanced East Coast IPA with a lot of citrusy hop character, it’s the session beer for hardcore enthusiasts!”

Get this beer well chilled before opening. As you pour it into a mug, you’ll notice its bright golden color with an almost orange intensity. The foam rises about an inch high before settling into a wispy lace around the edge of the glass. As you pour, you also can’t escape the hoppy aromas bursting from the bottle. Both floral and slight piney scents mingle with notes of bread and citrus.

These carry over into the pleasantly bitter flavors of the beer, with an orange-lemon quality and a touch of sweetness floating in that bracing, often piney bitterness. This puppy has plenty of bite. It also leads to a bitter finish that will be welcome to any hop-head like myself.

I love drinking IPAs by themselves. They’re strong and refreshing. But they’re also surprisingly good with strong-flavored food. At the Lion and Rose, these could cut through the heat of the Hackney Hot Wings or offer a contrast to the sweetness of shrimp wrapped  in bacon in the Angels on Horseback plate. Have with any cut of steak or even the Central London Chicken Curry in a coconut-curry sauce with basmati rice.

Any way you pour it, Dogfish 60 Minute IPA is a fine catch.


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