Monthly Archives: August 2012

Drink This Beer: Schlafly Raspberry Coffee Stout

In a rare treat for my parents, all five Simpsons were together in town this past weekend. We took in a Cardinal game together, had a BBQ (prepared by others, though I had to step in a few times), and played a little poker.

Dad’s not about to let a total lack of knowledge of the rules of poker stop him from playing…

On my way over to the BBQ, I thought I would treat anyone interested in some special edition beer. How about a couple big bottles of Schlafly Raspberry Coffee Stout?

$9.50 a bottle is a lot to live up to.

I’ve been waiting to buy this beer since I saw it announced on the Facebook website. Yes, I am an official fan.

Surprisingly, my NYC police officer brother doesn’t like “fruity” beers (High Life fan), and the political cog / D.C. food blogger brother doesn’t like stouts (IPA fan). Jeez… are we really related? My father wanted nothing to do with it, either, once I told him my impression of the beer (see below). Only my unrelated-by-blood brother-in-law was interested. Thank goodness someone has taste in that house.

Pro Tip: The guy at the Schlafly Bottleworks retail desk told me that some early reviews of the beer were that serving it cold knocked out much of the rich, stout flavor and left them with just raspberries. He suggested letting the beer sit out for a little while and get cool (as opposed to cold), near room temperature, before pouring.

Yes, I know. Wrong glass. It’s all they had.

When you want to pour a beer into a glass at the Simpson parents’ house, your options are usually relegated to a pint glass that may or may not have been legitimately-acquired. Citizen Kane’s, I apologize on their behalf in case this glass is merely being borrowed long term.

I should apparently be using a snifter glass, but it was a pint glass or swigging straight from the bottle. I chose glassware.

Right out of the bottle, I can tell you it smells amazing. Rich, chocolaty, malty. Since it had had warmed up a little bit, we got plenty of frothy head on the beer.

Give that beer any more head and it will feel obliged to buy you dinner!

The beer runs over your tongue very smoothly with minimal effervescence, and you definitely get a ton of hearty chocolate malt flavor, with only a hint of raspberry.

The fruitiness is so subtle and the flavor is so rich, I can only compare this to eating a dark chocolate truffle that has the whipped raspberry mousse inside, but in beer form. That in mind, one can certainly understand that this may not be the beer for your average Budweiser or Coors guzzler. This is a fancy, sippin’ beer. Nonetheless, when it comes to Schlafly Raspberry Coffee Stout: Drink This Beer

Epilogue: Since my reverse-beer-snob family didn’t want any of this stuff, I took the second bottle home with me for later enjoyment. Enjoy it I will.

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Ribs on a Big Green Egg

Belated greetings from Atlanta, where we visited my brother-in-law and his family on the way to Florida for a biennial expensive fiasco extended family vacation! I would have posted this sooner, but, in the spirit of the Olympics, I was very busy competing in Competitive Co-Ed Beach Beer Drinking…. I nearly medaled.

I have never cooked anything on a Big Green Egg. I’ve always wanted to, but the opportunity had not presented itself until recently.

Approach me if you dare, mortal

It’s a clay / ceramic hull of a beast of a BBQ smoker in the shape of a (wait for it) big green egg. Just like Busch Stadium II, I’m told it holds the heat well. (HT: Casey Stengel)

Cleaned out and ready for meat

How fancy are these things? They have their own charcoal…

What? Kingsford not good enough for you?

… and their own starters…

What? A coal chimney’s not good enough for you?

… but it started up well and took a heapin’ helpin’ of water-soaked cherry and apple wood chunks.

Fire Burn!

Wood Burn! (Just not as much…)

I picked up some beautiful baby back ribs from a Straubs-like market in Peachtree City, Georgia, so you know I paid out the nose. At checkout, the cashier saw my shirt and asked what a Billiken is. After I told her, she flirtingly remarked that, being from St. Louis, I surely knew how to handle these pork ribs. I’ll take it.

While there, I found a plethora of BBQ sauces. It took some time, but I finally picked this one after reading dozens of ingredient lists:

Ingredient list beauty

Apparently this was a home run, as my nephew pointed out that it is his favorite BBQ sauce.

On to the ribs. As is standard rib smoking procedure, I peeled the membrane from the concave portion of the baby back ribs. I then applied a hearty coating of my brown sugar based rub all around the ribs and placed the three slabs on a rib rack. Pro Tip: The large (but not extra-large) BGE cannot comfortably hold three horizontal slabs of ribs, so a rib rack was a must.

Now would be a good time for a beer. How about one of these:

Sweetwater 420

I’ve had the SweetWater 420 many, many times before, otherwise it would be a Drink This Beer entry. Easily one of my favorite beers, and certainly one of the best southeastern US beers money can buy. Anyone who knows me or who has read this blog knows I like a classic, smooth pale ale and SweetWater delivers here. Seriously, buy and drink this beer.

After about 3 hours and some beginners issues with respect to BGE temperature, the ribs were looking good.

The wonderful results of smoke and rub

Even though I have committed the atrocity of parboiling ribs, I do actually know how to make real, honest, decent ribs.

Close up of the porky goodness

Each rib was given a generous slather of the Bone Suckin’ Sauce, along with a sprinkle of rub and a little drizzle of honey, followed by a wrapping in aluminum foil for another 2-2.5 hours on the BGE.

Wrap your meat: A life lesson that transcends BBQ.

I finally managed to get the temperature to hold steady at just over 200 degrees, instead of the first timer problems I was having. Whilst the ribs continued to cook and tenderize, why not try another local beer?

What a clever play on words

As the name suggests, this is a hoppy IPA style beer with an ABV over 6. The fine people at Red Brick did a nice job holding back on the hops. Certainly there’s the typical bitterness, but it is a milder, fruitier, more restrained approach to an American IPA than, say, Hopsecutioner, which is another Atlanta-area beer utterly loaded with hops (to the tune of a 71 IBU!), of which we had many.

After 5 or so hours on the BGE, I pulled the ribs from their foil pouches and prepared each slab according to my orders. Prior to wrapping, one got a little bit of beer poured into the pouch to tenderize the ribs to fall-off-the-bone level. Once taken from the pouch, I coated it in more sauce. The second slab got a coating of the original rib rub, mainly for my son, who loves very sweet and spicy ribs, but not BBQ sauce. The third and final slab (the control sample) was simply re-sauced. Each was put on the Big Green Egg to finish.

The things you do for your kids…

After 45-60 minutes or so (who can be sure, we had 6 hours to drink some beers), the ribs were done.

Ready for my belly

Another brother-in-law (I have five on that side of our family) was in town, fresh from a 6 month jaunt to Australia. You might not believe it, but Australians apparently do a really shitty job of making American-style BBQed pork ribs. He ordered the control ribs (not too tender, with sauce) and they were a hit. The ribs didn’t fall off the bone, but they were tender and succulent. I was pleased.

Though it seemed intimidating and complicated, using a Big Green Egg was neither. If I ever get enough money to purchase one of these expensive items, you can bet I will.

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