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AleSmith Speedway Stout – Macadamia Nut

Or, On Burgers and Macadamia Nuts

So I find myself at a loose end in Woodland, California. I’ve already had a sit down with a good book (American Gods) and had a coffee. I’m peckish and still have in the back of my mind the hunt for a good beer in town. Foursquare to the rescue! Not a hundred yards from where I’m sitting, I see there’s a bar-and-grill called The Burger Saloon. I wander over and stick my head around the door. There’s a dark-wood bar. There are beer pumps. There’s an expansive blackboard with beers listed. Do I go in? Of course I do.

Being me, before I sat down, I went to see what was on the beer list, and was delighted to see a stout on offer, and of course being a sucker for a dark beer, I plumped for that, albeit with some reservation given that it was advertised as being in some way connected to the Macadamia nut.

Speedway Stout – from the Alesmith website

The burger was good. I mean, really good. I ordered a simple cheeseburger, that came with a really good chunk of cheddar. But this is, of course, all about the beer.It’s a nice beer, smooth and sweet and nicely bready. It looks good too, being all dark and mysterious with a fine creamy head. The flavour is all mocha and bonfire toffee and dark toast, all in all a wonderful pairing with my burger, and to be honest I could have supped it with a dessert too, had I been inclined. Of course there’s also the matter of temperature. This one came at an ideal “cellar” temperature, and so all the flavour was immediately available in full measure. Sadly, I had to rush somewhat, so I can’t report on what happens as it warms, but my bet is that all that smooth toffee comes even more to the fore.

Were there hops? Yes, but in a perfect balance to the dark bittersweet of the malts; more a subtleharmonic hint than in-yer-face. Were there nuts? Quite possibly, but if so, the addition is subtle. Macadamia nuts are smooth and creamy and this beer has all of that in spades. Alesmith’s description doesn’t mention them, instead pointing to coffee adjuncts, and those tones are pretty clearly present. I may have to write and ask them, because I’m now more curious than ever, having written this.

Will I go there again? Hell, yes. In an age (and season) where lighter-malts and high hoppiness prevail, this was a most refreshing change. Nicely done, Alesmith.

P.S. Apologies for not posting my own photo. As I said, I rushed and was too disorganised to think about it at the time.

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Categories: Beers Tags: ,

It’s Saint Patrick’s Day. Guinness, anyone?

17 March, 2009 1 comment

Back in the days when I lived in England, one of the ways many of my friends would judge a pub was on the quality of their Guinness. It seems that it is one of those draught beers that will either suffer or benefit greatly from its treatment in the cellar. Now Guinness itself barely needs any introduction – it’s well known the world over for its almost black, dark-chocolate colour, its rich and creamy body, that almost-sweet, slightly bitter flavour with a hint of espresso.

So why is it that people are fussy about it? Is it true that “Irish” Guinness is better than that brewed elsewhere? Is is de rigeur or a faux pas to serve it ice-cold? Well, some of this is historical, some of it is cultural, but all of it hinges on one’s view of what beer is. Read more…

Categories: Beers Tags: ,
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