Beer(s) of the Week: Barrel Me This

Last weekend I had a three-grill, three-barrel-aged-beer kind of weekend. Here’s how it went:

Friday night: I can’t say that I’ve perfected pizza on the Big Green Egg but it certainly is one of my strengths. I decided, on the odd suggestion of an episode of Food Network’s ubiquitous Diners, Drive-Ins and Drives, to make my first “white” pizza. In this case the white was reduced-fat cream cheese or Neufch√Ętel which I call Neuheisel after the former football coach. The last two times I made pizza I had store-bought crusts but screw that noise. It’s recommended to make the dough days in advance but I tend to make mine the day of. I did that, slathered on some of that hard to spell cheese that had warmed to room temperature, threw on some roasted red peppers along with some strategically placed dollops of pesto and added mozzarella to finish the deal. After the fact I had a friend send me a recipe for a dough that includes cream cheese so that’s a strategy for the future.

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Beer of the night was Wicked Weed’s Oh My Quad. I have searched my local beer stores far and wide and one “strategery” is to actually go back into the store’s cooler case and sniff around. I went to a Total Wine and saw a bottle of this rare brew hidden in the back. It was a 375-ml bottle, so about the size of a normal 12-ounce beer and it was nine bucks so of course that’s Friday-night worthy. The beer is a Belgian Quad, luckily not a bomber otherwise Sharona would have been confused, aged in Silver Oak Cabernet barrels for four months. So we’re dealing with a heavy but kind of dark fruity beer including cherries and the taste of a dark red wine. It often takes me a few sips to “catch up” to a barrel-aged beer because it has that high booze burn of drinking something with more alcohol than your typical beer. Silver Oak is a $50 bottle of wine so nice pull, Wicked Weed.

Second grill night was pulled pork. I had a delay to the start because my Big Green Egg heat deflector literally sheared in two. I’ve had this grill for a couple of years and the heat deflector is nice add-on piece that keeps your grill from getting up to 1000 degrees (results may vary). I had already started my grill and discovered the broken piece. After trying to make do with the bigger of the two remaining pieces I left the grill hot (BGE maintains its temp nicely) and went to my local store expecting to purchase a replacement. I was under warranty so woo hoo, free replacement. I got back and put the meat on around three in the afternoon. I had about four pounds and it was done around 8:30. I used a rub called Meathead Memphis (come on, you’d try it) and it was solid. Even though the meat got up to 195 it was more sliced than pulled.

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Since the meat was late I had to go with some leftover pizza as my meal. My beer of the night (ok, I had a few before this) was Boulevard/Firestone Walker’s Collaboration #6. I purchased this bomber a while back and decided that it was the right time to open. It’s a combination of Boulevard’s Bourbon Barrel Quad + Imperial Stout X Tart Cherry, Firestone Walker’s Stickee Monkee and Velvet Merkin. So you take four barrel-aged beers that are quite stout on their own (pun intended) and make them into a superbeer. Was it super good? It was deep, dark, and sippable. It’s $12 for a bomber which isn’t bad since the Imperial Stout X Tart Cherry goes for that and to get Firestone Walker to Georgia, you have to put it in your carry-on.

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I went for an easier grill the following evening. The meal was chosen to match the beer. I had chicken breast so I made half with BBQ sauce including this great smoke rub I got in Nashville and a tangerine Asian recipe I looked up. The tangerine was chosen to pair with… Avery’s Tangerine Quad. I’ve had this beer twice before with positive reviews but you know what they say, try a beer three times and you’ll be a fan for life, or on the floor. It’s the aromatic nature of the beer that makes it so beloved on my front. I’d like to try it without the bourbon barrel aging because it was “tres boozy” but it was a nice pairing and a beer that I have trouble holding onto because it’s so darn good.

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