Tag Archives: Target

New Belgium Long Table Farmhouse Ale

Beer from New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado used to be like a revelation. A twelve pack of Fat Tire Amber Ale was treated like a gift when someone was thoughtful enough to bring some back from the Front Range. Times have changed and I have not been impressed with their recent exploits. Nonetheless, nostalgia will get me from time to time and I picked up a six pack of the recently released Long Table Farmhouse Ale:

Long Table

This a beer that drinks boozy (6.2% ABV) with little bitterness (20 IBU) or body to balance it out. When I think of “farmhouse ale” or a saison I am generally thinking that it will be a lower alcohol beer that is easy drinking. Think light beer with soul.

Long Table has none of that soul. With a small amount of bitterness and no dry hopping there is little hop aroma or flavor. With nothing hitting your nose or tongue your palate is left to deal with a thin beer hitting you in the face with alcohol and esters. There are a lot of peppery notes in this beer, but it comes across like someone just cracked a peppermill over the bottle before packaging.

Long Table tastes like it is a derivative of other similar New Belgium beers. The plan out of Fort Collins seems to read like Hollywood’s—reboots and sequels. When is the reality of what New Belgium is brewing—thin variations on a theme—going to overcome the perception of the brewery—pioneering spirit of American craft industry, environmentally friendly, socially conscious, employee owned, etc.? With breweries in two states and a near total coverage of the continental United States it feels like New Belgium is brewing and marketing toward the middle ground where it is offering little different from the craft labels owned by the macro brewing giants.

If you are an aficionado of thin, boozy beers with little else to tickle your palate crack open a Long Table:

Purchased One Mug Rating

See what others are saying about New Belgium Long Table Farmhouse Ale at Beeradvocate.

 

What Black Friday Means to Me

This year Black Friday, the traditional start to the Christmas shopping season that falls after Thanksgiving, is getting a lot of attention for the fact that it is no longer confined to Friday.  Rather, it has crept into the evening of Thanksgiving and, therefore, the employees of these retailers are forced to forego an evening spent with family.

Workers and concerned citizens, e.g. referred to as guests by retailers or shoppers by the rest of humanity, have started petitions asking for the encroachment into the Thanksgiving holiday to cease.   We already shop too much in the United States, so what’s the problem with spending some time away from the retail scene?

At least WalMart’s employees are using the attention afforded to retailers on Black Friday to potentially disrupt the narrative about consumerism and turn it towards the plight of workers.

For me, however, Black Friday means something else entirely.  It’s the beginning of my traditional siesta from shopping.  From now until after the New Year I will spend little or no time shopping for gifts or what not.  Why?  Because the status quo is insane.

I remember when holiday shopping was fun.  Maybe it was because I was a kid, but I loved the mall at Christmas time.  The decorations, the bizarre Santa Claus throne, the music…it was wonderful.  Sometime during college, probably during my stint working at a big box electronics retailer that shall remain nameless, I noticed the craziness of the holidays.  I remember watching people almost furiously filling carts with shrink wrapped items as if it were preparation for an upcoming superstorm.  It really turned me off of the holidays.

As the years have passed, opting out of the shopping hysteria just became second nature.  My wife and I have not exchanged gifts during the holidays, which conveniently also take place during the time when both of our birthdays fall on the calendar, for over a decade.  For our children, I take the holiday season as an opportunity to spend a good deal of time in the woodshop to build them a gift.  Last year it was a play table.  This year it is going to be a pair of bookcases that look like castles.

It just seems like a better way.

Beer Thoughts in a Time of Drought

One upside to living through the worst drought in the past twenty five years is that after a day of ferrying buckets of water to the plants you want to save a cold beer tastes mighty fine.  By the third beer, as the sun goes down, you even begin to forget that your grass is crispy and the dawn redwood you planted earlier in the summer is really having a hard time.  Ugh!

I was brewing a new batch of beer this past week.  As I was pouring the wort into the carboy, my four year old daughter stuck her head inches away from the carboy’s opening and asked, “Daddy, where’s the trub?”  Yep, my daughter knows about trub.  I am proud parent.

American Wheat

For a summertime treat I went back into my homebrew past to brew up a batch of American Wheat using an extract kit from Northern Brewer.  This recipe is the first one that I tried when I began homebrewing almost one year ago.

It’s my opinion that my skills have improved, but only the beer will prove that out:

Well?  I have mixed impressions right now.  My sinuses are burnt—a combination of the heat, allergies, and medication have left them somewhat desensitized—so nothing smells right.  A big part of beers is the aroma and this beer actually smelled burnt.  Literally, it smelled like burnt malt.  I cannot believe that is an aroma from the beer.

It’s easy drinking, which is good in a time of drought.

Patersbier & Mild Ale

The patersbier I brewed up a few weeks ago has been put into bottles and will be ready to drink in a couple of weeks.  One reason why I keep looking at a soda keg dispensing system is that it cuts out the bottle conditioning time.  There is nothing as bad as waiting for a beer to bottle condition.

One step that I skipped with the patersbier was secondary fermentation.  Since no additional ingredients were going to be added I just extended the time in primary fermentation and went right to bottles.  I am not a fan of secondary fermentation because it adds in the chance of contamination.  The color on this beer is very light.  It will be interesting to see how it looks coming out of the bottle.

Also in a carboy right now is a batch of mild ale.  This recipe is very light on hops.  It only calls out 1 ounce of U.S. Fuggle boiled for 60 minutes.

New Zealand and Australian Hops Arrive on the Scene

The more I brew the more I learn about hops.  Currently, the hop varieties from the Pacific Northwest seem to dominate.  How many recipes do you recall that spec out Cascade or Willamette hops?  Too many to count.  But, it looks like the folks from the southern hemisphere are looking to invade the U.S. beer scene.

New Belgium’s Shift Pale Lager, reviewed below, uses Nelson Sauvin variety.  I could not tell you about that particular hop because my palate is pretty weak at discerning the individual notes.

The good thing about this invasion is that it brings more options to the table.  For the longest time I remember every craft beer that I opened being an exercise in restraining my gag reflex because the over abundance of either Cascade or Willamette varieties made me think I was about to drink day old bong water.  A lot of breweries have gotten away from that heavy hand, but the trend is still prevalent.  If you want to experience a blast of hops like no other check out Stone Brewing Co’s Stone Ruination 10th Anniversary IPA.  Not only is it heavily hopped, but it also clocks in at almost 11% A.B.V.  This is a “big” beer.

Variety is the spice of life, right?

New Belgium Brewery Shift Pale Lager

There are times when even the most disciplined homebrewer runs out of beer.  I was one such homebrewer this week.  I found myself facing ninety degree temps and nothing read to drink for almost a whole week.  What’s a guy to do?

Go to the liquor store of course, but this would be the first time in a while that I had made a purposeful trip to the beer section of my local Hy-Vee’s liquor department.  One nice thing about not having made such a trip in a longtime is that there were a lot of new options.  Most of the new stuff from the macro-breweries sounded pretty vile.  Lime-a-rita or something like that from the makers of Bud Light.  Joy.

New Belgium Brewery’s new Shift Pale Lager caught my eye.  When I buy beer I tend to gravitate toward styles that I do not make myself.  Lagers fall into that category because I have not gone to the trouble to devise a fully climate controlled fermentation system preferring the room temperature joy that is ale.

True to its name, Shift is pale in color:

The taste is anything but pale.  Apparently, the beer uses four different hops (Target, Nelson Sauvin, Liberty, Cascade).  The neat trick is that this beer does not taste overhopped like so many other craft beers.  Oh sure, you can taste the hops but the bitterness and aroma are there in the right amounts.  Unlike beers that are heavy handed with varieties like Simcoe or Amarillo, which seem to be the hops of the moment, the mix of four varieties produces something that is more complex than a one note daisy cutter on your palate.

This beer definitely fits into the “lawnmower” category that I do not find derogatory in any way.

It’s available in 16 ounce aluminum cans so it is venue friendly.  This is important in the summertime when the safety police outlaw the presence of glass bottles.

Olympic Beer Controversy

What is the official beer of the 2012 Olympics?  Why, Heineken of course!

Huh?  These games are being help in a country that is home to the Campaign for Real Ale.  A country that has a long history of unique beers is going to be serving pale Dutch swill for the ever so reasonable price of £7.23 or just over $11.  Nothing like laying down over ten bucks for a schwag imported beer in England.

What’s next, ordering a Bud Light under the shadow of St. James Gate in Dublin?

Stuff I Like: Nut Butter with Flax Seeds

I am a fanatic for nut butter.  Why nut butter?  Some days it is peanut butter.  If I am feeling sassy it’s almond butter.  If I am feeling nasty it’s cashew butter…wait a second, this is sounding like a bad mid-1990s R&B single.  I digress.

The big difference maker for me now is toasted flax seeds added to the nut butter.  Trader Joe’s has an excellent almond butter with toasted flax seeds, but since the closest TJ’s is two hours away and that store has a habit of ditching products without warning I was forced to go looking for an alternative.

Enter the ever interesting house brand from Target:

I am already a fan of the oven ready organic whole wheat lasagna noodles from Archer Farms and the peanut butter with toasted flaxseeds extends the love parade.

The flax seeds add a satisfying texture to the nut butter that is slight yet makes a world of difference.

Stuff I Like: Archer Farms Organic Oven Ready Whole Wheat Lasagna Noodles

Oven ready pasta noodles are one of mankind’s greatest modern day inventions.  It removes the often troublesome step of boiling lasagna noodles—I hate those little ripples on the edge—and layering limp pasta into a casserole dish.  It also turns a long prep into something that can be done in about twenty minutes if certain things are done ahead of time.

At Target I can even get organic oven ready whole wheat lasagna noodles.  Oh yeah:

Think about that combination for a moment.  A major U.S. retailer—not a traditional grocer by the way—has a private label organic whole wheat pasta.  You’ve come a long way baby.  Sometimes we do not think about the ease at which we can purchase food that matches our personal beliefs.  When I was a kid, in the oh so dark 1980s, there was no chance you could have even found organic whole wheat pasta outside of a few extra crunchy co-ops in enclaves like Berkeley or Boulder.

The fact I can get that combo in oven ready lasagna form is like manna from heaven.

This hearty vegetarian lasagna on AllRecipes.com is my go to weeknight meal to please the family and leave me with lots of leftovers for the next night.  It’s a two for one kind of dinner.

Friday Linkage 10/14/2011

My mind is already on vacation, but my body is still at work.  I may or may not post anything during the coming week while I enjoy the mountains of Colorado.  It is all going to depend on how motivated I am while taking in the scenery and enjoying the first bottle of my new organic light beer.  See everyone next week!

Governor Brown Signs Shark Fin Ban into Law—Finally, the shark fin ban in California is law making the U.S. Pacific seaboard, minus Alaska, a no go for this brutal practice that is depleting our ocean of sharks.  Now if only the federal government would move on a nationwide ban.

Target to Source 100% “Sustainable” and “Traceable Seafood by 2015—Apparently Target is not completely deaf to the demands that retailers start worrying about the sustainability of their products, particularly seafood.  The interesting part of this goal is that traceability has not been something that any major nationwide retailer has attempted.  Like Michelle Bachmann says, the devil is in the details.

All U.S. Power Could be Renewable by 2026—I am sure that this is quite possible, save for obstructionist politicians beholden to industries diametrically opposed to renewable energy.  Too bad.

U.S. Demand for Gasoline Falls for 29th Consecutive Week—This is getting to be a broken record, but the U.S. is using a lot less gasoline for transportation.  I do not know if it is a result of Cash for Clunkers, more fuel efficient cars, or people just driving less.  Probably a combination of those three factors and a hundred others.

Lightbulb Wars—I would like to think that I could do a better job reviewing the myriad light bulbs that are competing for our dollars, but I have been beaten to the punch by several sites.  This is one of the better series.

Ten Tips for Growing Fruit Trees—Gardens of annual vegetables are nice, but I cannot wait until next year when I plant apple tree on my property to provide years of local fruit.  This slideshow is just a tease until springtime.

How to Capture Rain—Some interesting ideas from the dry southern California climate.  I particularly love the calling out of a 55 gallon rain barrel as a demitasse of capacity relative to the downpour.  I want to install a rainwater harvesting system, but have the same concern about how much I am really doing in comparison to the effort.  Are there better ways to trap rainwater?

Winery Wastewater Becomes Fruit of their Labor—The production of wine can be a huge consumer of water.  Even at its most efficient, a gallon of wine represents six gallons of wastewater.  Turning this waste stream into a resource is a challenge as well as an opportunity.