Thursday, December 30, 2010

All Hail Imperial Stouts!

Get your sip on like royalty!





The crown of Empress Catherine the Great of Russia,
one of the original fans of the Imperial Stout. Holla!
Coffee lovers, the Caribbean-blooded, beer lovers who favor more potency and full-bodied concoctions...whoever you are, quality ale vendors are stocking the shelves with the wave of "imperial stouts" that are causing quite a stir around town. I was just stepping my phone game up at Verizon and I ended up giving recommendations on stouts to get while they're out. And then this morning, my sister called and asked me the same thing when her IT guy asked for suggestions. Seeing the trend here, I thought I would do all my peoples a favor and recommend three definites to put in your shopping basket while they're available particularly in Atlanta (the Old Rsputin below is national). Nice and thick, imperial in strength (8-12 percent ABV) thanks to the demands of the Russian czars of the 18th Century who had the English send them a hopped up, super strong version of their stout to last the long journey overseas. The result was a robust, malty, roasty  brew that had everyone going nuts! Now in 2010, American craft brewers have pimped the style and perfected it to a whole different level especially for the winter season. Grab 'em while they're hot...errr...cool.

Note #1: Do not serve them ice cold. Slightly chilled will really let these stouts breathe and present all of their character regarding smell, appearance and taste.

Note #2: Try and hit up local pubs that specialize in pouring specialty brews on draft. Beer bars are bound to have limited editions of stouts that pour thick and creamy which will keep bar stools warm throughout the U.S. I went to The Porter in Atlanta's Little Five Points and had the Old Rasputin (see below). Delish! The glass is hot, too!

The Terrapin W-n-B Oatmeal Coffee Imperial Stout aka "Wake N Bake": I always look forward to this one out of Athens that is seasonal, coffeeish and just straight-up delicious at 8.1 percent abv! Coming from Terrapin's celebrated (and potent) Monster Beer Tour series, they used to call it the Wake-n-Bake, but some hayters said there was reference to indulging in smoking some kind of plant or whatever (cough!) so Terrapin had to abbreviate the name but notthe flavor! I say to hell with that and call it what it is. With coffee added by town favorite, Jittery Joe's," forget Folgers; this is "the best part of waking up"!



The wax top is what you want!
Sweetwater Happy Ending Imperial Stout 2010: I have been waiting a whole year for this stout and when I saw a package in my mailbox from the SweetWater crew out of Atlanta, I was practically skipping to my bottle opener. That is until I opened the box and saw that it was a bomber with a hand-dipped wax top, something unprecedented with the Happy Ending (they do it with the Festive usually). The HE big bottles of yesteryear usually had the top wrapped in foil, but this time around, the bottle looked so stealthy, dark and stylish complete with the dripping black wax, I couldn't even open it. Instead, I chose to shelve this 9 percent abv beauty and head over to the bottle shop to grab a wonderfully priced six pack for $8! Grab a six and bomber while you can since this is a "Catch and Release" limited edition. It'll make you say "Ahhhhhhhh!" when done.

Old Rasputin Imperial Stout: You can't lose with this one. The closest thing to perfection when it comes to imperial stouts, so the North Coast Brewing Company (ironically based out of Fort Bragg, California - go figure) graciously made this available year-round! Coming in four packs, its an awesome quartet that will warm up the coldest Russian winter.
(9 percent abv)

Honorable mentions: Victory's Storm King deserves a crown (9.1 percent abv), Ten Fidy is the best canned stout on the planet (10.5%), I always recommend the Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout (10% abv) and Great Divide's Yeti Imperial Stout perfectly complements a roaring fire and good conversation (9.5 % abv).
Make sure you pour these bad boys in glasses for the full effect: cascading bubbles, a great head and sipping bliss! If you have some local favorites, feel three to add them in the comments! I know I left a few out but I just wanted to do three here.

Drink imperial stouts like a king and bring in the New Year royally!
Cheers!
Ale

Friday, December 17, 2010

I'm Baaaack

I’m baaaaack!
An Ale Sharpton apology, kickin’ it at the Biltmore in Asheville, NC and 10,000 reasons why beer is the sh*t!
I was testing out Range Rovers in
Asheville, NC aka BeerCity USA

My bad.
Well it’s been a minute and I apologize for that, but after the theft of my awesome laptop, it has been a pain in the ass to travel, juggle everything and still find the time to post a blog that rocks over the past week. To add, God bless this notebook I am temporarily using, but it just is no comparison to in terms of speed, memory, monitor size, etc. It’s been a pain in the ass, but I have finally caught my wind. Again, my bad on the wait.

Asheville NC.
Anyways, after that tearful apology, I just got back from Asheville, NC, the awesome city that may be small in size but huge on beer! Just ask the thousands who voted Asheville as the 2010 BeerCity USA. Although it’s assumed that I was all over the beer scene here, hopping in and out of anything ale-related, my alter-ego was covering a story on the awesome Land Rover Experience Driving School at the famous home of the Vanderbilts—the Biltmore Estate—and was "confined" to their ridiculously lavish property for two days.  (It’s definitely a spot to bring your honey to—especially during the winter and spring time.) I had so much fun learning how to drive these plush SUVs up and down hills laced with snow, and across iced-over streams (see the pic). Two things were accomplished: I am more confident to take on any road condition and second, the Range Rover is officially my dream truck. I strongly recommend you experience the "Experience"; here's the link: Land Rover Driving Experience
In Ale Sharpton mode, it was an almost unbearable tease that so much brewing goodness was available just beyond the gates of the 800+-acre property, but I did try some of Biltmore’s own that are contractually brewed by the Highland Brewing Company not too far away. Named after the Vanderbilt family’s beloved St. Bernard, there was the Cedric English Pale Ale (5.5% abv) which was bready, slightly sweet up front with a mellow hop finish, and the Cedric Brown Ale (also 5.5%) that was a nice mahogany-colored session brew that was nutty with subtle notes of toffee. They did a decent job with both, but I was really craving a serious dose of hops or something “imperial.” I was told I had to head in town for a place called Bruisin’ Ales to buy one of their 900+ brews on the shelves, sip a pint at Barley’s, or visit any one of the nine breweries in town including French Broad, Craggie, Lexington Avenue or the aforementioned Highland. Since a trip was impossible with the itinerary I was given, I enjoyed the Estate and made it a prerogative to drive back up with a few of my beer-loving homies as soon as possible in 2011.

10,000 reasons to love beer.
After my was flight cancelled on Wednesday and then catching another one that left at virtually the same time back to Atlanta (don’t ask), I found out why. The freezing rain left black ice everywhere including the runways, so after safely landing from a mere 30-minute flight, I had to stop by one of my favorite brew spots to re-up since I only had two Ballantine Ales (it’s been years since I have had a 40-ounce in NYC and they finally have made their way down here so I had to cop a six pack), one Lagunitas Maximus IPA 12-ounce, five exotic bombers and an Emelisse Imperial Stout I brought back from Holland that I refuse to open—yet.  After reading an esteemed beer enthusiasts’ group email I belong to, everybody was trying to find out where to get the extremely limited edition of Bell’s Batch 10,000 Ale—A Commemorative Brew. Now I already know how Bell’s gets down when it comes to limited editions that have us beer nuts go in a frenzy including one of my top five IPAs, their gangster HopSlam (which I am sipping on in my logo and website header), so I had to get it before they ran out. Dodging three car accidents and ignoring cyberspace warnings that no one will have it by the time I reach town, I got to Green’s on Ponce and asked the worker if he had any 10,000 left. The bearded clerk smiled and said yes, although I was limited to buy only two 12-oz bottles for $7 each. “$7 for one damn 12-oz bottle beer that is only a few states away???” I exclaimed. “Give me the two, man. Damn.”
After feeling subjected to brewing pimpdom, I took the “L”, grabbed a four-pack of Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout for .50 cents less than one Bell's Commemorative, a $2.79 bottle of Innis & Gunn for my business partner, and headed to the counter. It turned out that the dude was wrong: the Bell’s 12-0z was only $2.99 a bottle! The beer gods have rewarded me for my dedication (and stupidity) to be willing to pay that much initially, and it turned out to be a great evening.

Note: In a recent press release, Bell’s Marketing Director Laura Bell said, “Batch 10,000 seems like a good milestone to end the series at. It’ll free up other opportunities for specialty beers in the future.” Let’s hope so because Bell’s is truly one of the best microbreweries in the country that makes product that justifies beer nuts like me driving over black ice to score a “$7” 12-oz. bottle of brew—or two.

Ayyo, look for a truly well done "Cruisin' For A Brewsin'" episode I have coming out on the totally cool site, Thrillist.com/Atlanta. (Search: Ale Yeah). A major shout out goes to the site's head honcho Mike Jordan who hooked it all up and filmed it. 

Hoppy Holidays!

 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Converse shows Ale love!

Keep on Chuckin'!

Preparing for a top secret project I am doing for you beer lovers that is set to launch in the beginning of 2011, Converse got word and wanted to show their support. The result? I got All Star Chuck Taylors kicks of hella colors. Although I already have a fondness for their ageless wonders, I will wear them with even more of a pimp strut now. So far, the navy blue are still my faves, but they sent me some other joints that could give them a run for their money.
So raise a pint to Converse and the love they are showing for your boy Ale's Cruisin' For A Brewsin'!
Keep on Chuckin'!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Celebrate Repeal Day at Leon's Full Service!

Celebrate Repeal Day at Leon's Full Service!
A cool spot to get your sip on this Sunday until 1 AM

Hey, although I won't be able to swing it over here due to other commitments, I strongly recommend anyone who loves to kick it in a hip, chic atmosphere run by down-to-earth folks who know their beer, stop by Leon's Full Service in Decatur, GA (131 East Ponce De Leon Avenue, Decatur, GA 30030-2513; (404) 687-0500). Mike, the founder of the world famous Brick Store beer bar around the corner, sent me this letter to deliver among the masses. Check it out as drink specials run the show all day until the we hours of the morning.
Cheers! I am off to see my fantasy squad win yet another week of football. Holla!
Your homey,
Ale


Repeal Day Celebration, Sunday December 5th



Come celebrate your right to drink all day at. Leon's Full Service. The day that prohibition was repealed is a true American drinking holiday. We have fantastic food and drink features from 12:30- close (1am). This is our second annual Repeal Day party and we hope to pour even more rye than last year! Jeez, even our prices are closer to prohibition prices than any of those fancy restaurants. Check it out.


Featured Cocktails
Rye Old Fashioned $6
Bee's Knees $6
No. 1 $6
Classic Martini $6
Scofflaw $7
Brooklyn $7

As American as a Baseball Game:
Shot of Rye $4
Brooklyn Lager $3
Hope to see you all today at LEONs.


Cheers,


Mike & the Staff of LEONs Full Service