5 Vulture por 5 Rabbit Cervecería

The Aheiateteo are the 5 Aztec Gods of excess and pleasure. 5 Rabbit, or Macuiltochtli, is the God of drunkeness, and is the God that the founders named this Chicago Cervecería after. An interesting name for a brewery, and one I kind of doubt the “Man” understood when they approved the license for this brewery. The history of the first Latin-themed brewery in the United States is mired in drama, with one of the founding members suing the other one. Maybe some of that famous Latin fire and passion? The beers are still flowing though, with Randy Mosher, the Radical Brewer himself writing the recipes.

5 Vulture, or Macuilcozcacuauhtli, is the God of gluttony. The scavenging nature of the vulture represents the stripping off of deeply rooted lustful and envious impulses from our being. The god is associated with wisdom and longevity.

This beer is a uniquely North American creation. An Amber Ale, one of the only true American Styles of beer, that has a small amount of roasted Ancho Chiles, a new world fruit. It smells like an earthy chili. I love chili. I probably end up eating chili in some form every single day of my life. This smell is very inviting to someone like me.

One of the founders of this brewery is from Costa Rica. When I was there, there was this light American-style lager brewed locally in  San José called Imperial everywhere. Now someone is bringing a little Costa Rican flair to the booming craft beer scene in the states, and with this brewery, you end up with some pretty descent beers.

It has a dark brown color, with an off-white head. The head is small, and does not last long. I think that could be because of the oils from the chilies.

Chili beers in my experience are hit and miss. Sometimes they taste like taking a swig from a Tabasco bottle, and sometimes, like this time, they taste delicious. This one kind of tastes like an interesting mole sauce. I love mole sauce. It tastes darker than the description would lead you to expect. It has subtle spices and subtle bitterness, but luckily not much hoppiness.

I was eating it with buffalo flavored tacos, and it kind of clashed. A more traditional flavored taco probably would have tasted better. Maybe a nice flat-iron steak with your favorite mole sauce.

Bells Best Brown and Shepards Pie

Shepard’s Pie? Are you serious? Are you living in some sort of dickens novel? All of these are valid questions, but no, I’m bringing back meat pies.

Shepard’s Pie, or Cottage Pie is a meat pie with a crush of potatoes on top. Traditionally the meat is mutton. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen mutton in the grocery store lately. I actually used ground turkey (because it’s healthier or something). I also used rutabaga instead of potatoes. In my quest to eat every type of food in the produce section, I purchased a rutabaga with only a vague ideas of what a rutabaga is. It turns out that it cooks and functions a lot like a potato. In fact, the recipe I found for mashed rutabagas could easily be used for mashed potatoes. Before potatoes came to Europe, the rutabaga was a major starch source.  It is solid peasant fare, and should go with solid peasant beer. Like a delicious Bells Best Brown Ale (it even says it’s the best).

The aroma is nice and bready, with no real hops coming through. It tastes like bread , nuts, and  malt, with a bit of caramel coming through. It has a laid back bitterness. It is almost savory, and melds with the savory homeliness of the Shepard’s Pie. The onion and rutabaga – rutabaga being a descendant of turnips and cabbage – add a nice earthy flavor to the pie that melds magnificently with the beer. It has a reddish-brown hue. The mouthfeel and carbonation level are both medium, nothing fancy here.

After this meal you’ll be ready to toil for hours in the field and then, when called upon, go defend your Feudal Lord.

Kona Brewery Pipeline Porter and Chocolate Cake

With a name like Kona Brewery, you’ expect some quality coffee in this Porter. Believe me, coffee is exactly what you get. The label claims that there is Kona Coffee in the beer, one of the most expensive coffees in the world. Only coffee that is grown on Hualalai and Mauna Loa in the Kona districts of the Big Island of Hawaii is allowed be called Kona Coffee. Coffee, like hops and grapes, has terroir. This means that the location and conditions the plant grows in affects the taste and aroma of the plant. I have had some pretty good estate coffee from Hawaii, but this is probably the first time I have ever had real Kona Coffee.

The aroma is of coffee and toasty maltiness. If you closed your eyes and took a sip you might think that somebody switched out a mocha coffee for your beer. It has just the right amount of sweetness with the perfect amount of bitterness on the back-end. Exactly like a good mocha coffee. It is a very smooth beer with medium-low carbonation and a large mouthfeel. It essentially feels like smooth chocolate milk.

It went perfectly with a deeply rich chocolate cake. There is a reason coffee goes great with cake. It has to do with roasting. Coffee, chocolate, and malted barley  all have very similar flavors due to the similar process each goes through to get to their edible states. The cake was more fudge than your average birthday cake. A sweeter cake might have been better with something like a milk stout, but this cake was perfect with this bittersweet treat.

Guinness Foreign Extra Stout and Veggie Soup

It being the winter, Helper Monkey Amy and I decided to make a delicious hearty vegetable soup. No meat, only veggies. Don’t worry, it has lots of body, and what the Japanese would call umami (i.e. a savory taste). As part of my post holiday focus on the fitness, I am trying to eat healthier. This may include less meat, but it does not include less beer (very convenient), because beer is healthy. It was a big pot of soup that lasted several days, and one of those days I had a Guinness Foreign Extra Stout with it.

Foreign extra stout is a beer brewed by Guinness for export to places like the Caribbean. Regular Guinness Stout is a very light, low alcohol session beer (contrary to what my unbeer-schooled college mind thought the first time I had one). To make the long trip to the hot Caribbean, they had to brew it to a higher alcohol content. This is essentially the same reason the British invented the Russian Imperial Stout, except for export in the opposite direction. For a long time, to get Foreign Extra Stout, you had to travel either to the Caribbean or to Africa. Now Guinness has decided to import it to the states, and we are all the better for it.

To be perfectly honest, an ideal food pairing for a foreign extra dry stout would probably be some sort of roast beast, but there is no point in trying to make the perfect pairing every time. Some time you just have to sit back and enjoy.

The beer is like chocolate milk made with semi-sweet chocolate. It has a bigger body and more sweetness than its sessionable little brother, but still retains some bitterness on the back-end.  I’d say the bitterness probably comes from the roast malt or barley, and not from any hops as you would expect from a stout from across the pond. It is very smooth with a medium to medium low amount of carbonation. The dark flavors went well with the kale and the root vegetables in the soup. It also added a bit of roastiness that a vegetable soup sans meat might be missing. It also has a nice warming alcohol feel that is good for any cold day. All in all, this was a great winter meal, and only a fire could have made it better.

Founders Breakfast Stout for Breakfast?

What other time are you suppose to drink a Breakfast Stout?

It’s made with two different kinds of coffee, and there is a distinct coffee flavor.  It is very smooth, and tastes a lot like this particular Nicaraguan coffee that I enjoy (if you threw in a little chocolate and Irish cream). It is bitter, it is smooth, and it is massive in both body and alcohol. It certainly made my subsequent trip to Target a bit more interesting. I bet it would go great with a bowl of oatmeal.  I had no oatmeal, I instead had delicious doughnuts.

The first doughnut was sweet and intensely chocolate. It probably was a little too sweet to pair with the beer. I did think it improved the doughnut by cutting through the cloying sweetness. Fruit Loops covered the other doughnut. It tasted much better. Maybe that picture on the label is trying to tell you something. The fruit loop doughnut was a better balanced doughnut in general, and I enjoyed it a lot more. There is a reason you drink coffee with donuts, this is just a modern interpretation.

Smoque BBQ and Bells Porter

I spent a month and a half in Eastern Tennessee this year. I had plenty of BBQ when I was down there. When you think of Tennessee BBQ, you probably think of Memphis style with Tomatoes and Vinegar style sauces.  Tennessee is a long state, and I was about a 6 hour drive from there. The BBQ by me was a mixture of Memphis and North Carolina. Whatever it was, it generally came out of shacks with a smoker next to the shack. It was delicious, but it was the not the best.

The best came when my fiancé was looking through the Check, Please! website for some place to go. Check, Please! is a TV show on the local Chicagoland public TV station WTTW in which 3 local residents pick their favorite restaurant. Then all three – along with the host Alpana Singh – go to the restaurant and critique it in a round-table discussion.

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Quite honestly you don’t think very much of a BBQ in Chicago.  It’s generally tasty, but not outstanding or extraordinary. It is semi-known for sweet sauce and ribs. I’m not the biggest fan. From what I read about Smoque before we went, they were really known for their Texas style dry rub brisket, and that is what I went for. I also got the slaw, the fries, and the baked beans.

First the fries. They were good, but nothing outstanding. Next time I will get the mac and cheese, which from my one-bite sample, was outstanding.

The slaw – which comes with all the plates – was very good. It had an acidic bite to it. Really unlike any of the very sweet slaws I usually get and I never enjoy.

The fork tender Texas style brisket was better than anything I ever had in Tennessee. There was a side of  Carolina sauce that was tangy and delicious and made a great pairing with the dry rubbed brisket. It’s funny. The place is supper busy and small, so we got it to go. On the wall of the restaurant you saw all the notoriety the place had, including a little plaque from Check, Please! Prominently displayed was a big signed picture indicating that Diner Drive-In’s and Dives   featured the place on their show. This is a show where the host, Guy Fieri, drives around the country and find’s the title places. While watching the Real Deal BBQ episode we ate the food, because no TV goes better with food, than food TV.

Now the baked Beans. Quite simply the best baked beans I have ever had in my life. They smelled like you put your head inside the smoker, because as I learned in the Diner’s Drive-In’s and Dives, they are actually put in the smoker. It was delicious and actually reminded me of the New Holland’s Charkoota  Rye Doppelbock.

Unfortunately I did not have any of that particular beer at hand, nor any smoked beer at all. I did have Bell’s Porter, which has a decidedly coffee flavor. More so than the Aloha Brewery’s Pipeline Porter I also have, despite being made with Kona Coffee. I think the problem is that the intense smokiness overpowered even the porter, and I quite honestly can’t see a better partner to the BBQ than a smoked beer. Maybe not one that is so smokey as the Charkoota Rye, but a smoked one nonetheless. The sweetness of the dobblebock would work nicely with the tangi-sweetness of the Carolina sauce. Next time I will be more prepared.

Buttermilk Pancakes, Homemade Maple Frosting, & Pipeline Porter

Once upon a time I suggested that a good idea would be to open a Breakfast Brewpub, since the adult drink options at most breakfast places, if they exist at all, kind of suck. Yesterday the fiancé and I decided to make some pancakes. These are pancakes made from scratch, and in my honest opinion, they are better than any restaurant pancakes that I have ever had. I keep a stockpile of the dry ingredients pre-mixed in case I have the sudden urge for pancakes.

This time it was taken up a notch because, instead of maple syrup, we covered them with homemade maple frosting, made with real maple syrup (healthier than that maple flavored corn syrup stuff of course). To go with it I had a nice glass of Aloha Brewery Pipeline Porter, brewed with Kona Coffee. Very appropriate for  breakfast. Simply one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had, and will be the first thing to go on the menu of my Breakfast Brewpub. I think it’s good enough for second breakfast as well.

Like the retro mixer?