Turkey Day Prep

23 Nov

So here I am, standing over the stove with a beer, making a roux for my gravy.  Hold on.  Let me take a step back and allow us all to get our bearings on this post.

Every year, my wife and I invite over friends who don’t have immediate family in the Portland-area for a Thanksgiving feast.  I make a giant turkey in my roasting box (I do pigs too!) and top it off with all the trimmings.  We watch football, drink homebrew, and generally eat until we are uncomfortable.  Then I get real quiet and sit on my couch in a food coma.  You know, like everyone else in this country (with the exception of the homebrew… that’s an Oregon thing). 

This year is no different, EXCEPT: I don’t have to make all the sides this year.  I cannot tell you what a relief this is.  Every year I am just freaking out at the prospect of making all those sides.  Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, brussel sprouts, biscuits, gravy, cranberry, pies, etc.  Well this year, I decided to hand out assignments to all the people coming over.  Like my wife said: I finally got smart.

Now, since all I need to do is make gravy, cranberry sauce, and cook a turkey tomorrow, I am free to drink some beers while working.  Normally I try to stay sober for these types of activities, but since the workload is small, I am going all in on a couple of 22’s tonight.  I figured it was safe to review the first one for you.  Up first will be the Papa Noel Olde Ale from Alameda Brewing.  Their website refers to it as a winter warmer, and it looks like a yearly seasonal.  I bought this one sometime last winter and left it in my beer fridge.  Yes, I have a beer fridge.  Don’t hate the player, hate the game people!

The beer pours a really attractive amber color with an off-white head that sticks around for a couple of minutes.  The immediate aroma when I bring it up to my nose is caramel and malt extract.  Not in an off-putting way at all, but it is a clear scent off the beer.  I also detect faint traces of smoke, which probably speaks to the type of malt used.  The first taste is solid.  Sweet, nutty and slightly smokey all at once.  The bitterness hits after, and lingers on the palette long after the beer is swallowed.  The next swig brings all the flavors I initially tasted, but the smoke comes through more and now there’s toffee and dates flavors that dominate.  Now those sweet flavors are dominating my mouth.  The bitterness definitely keeps this from overwhelming you, but it doesn’t keep it at bay forever.  The body is medium in character, but I think it fits well with the flavors coming out of it.  It definitely does not finish dry.  More rich than anything else.  I like the beer, but I think I would be limiting myself to one.  It clocks in at 7.2%, which isn’t overwhelming, but with that sweet profile and that ABV, I might move on to a more reasonable brew to finish out the night.

Food Pairing:  This is a tough one.  Olde Ales have a clear style and character all their own.  They are typically higher alcohol and sweeter in nature, which indicates that they would do well as a dessert beer.  Considering Miranda has been talking about dessert beers all day today (and probably has a post coming on them!), I am thinking Apple Pie with a Salted Caramel sauce would work well here.  I think maybe a 10 oz pour would be enough, though.  Any more than that, and you are probably heading towards S&M of the mouth.  Unless you’re into that kind of thing.  In that case…make sure your partner knows the “safe word(s)”.  We use “Knock that shit off”  in my house.


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