FROM THE YBN’s EDITOR’S DESK :: Food and Brew… Brew and Food… and a Little Music!

by Harvey Gold on April 7, 2015

Tracey Thomas

Tracey Thomas

So as we’ve been puttering along, there have been opportunities to enjoy some excellent brews of late. Here’s a few of them, sampled with some great eats:

The most recent came on the occasion of a swell night hearing friend Tracey Thomas sing with a sweet band at a lovely venue, Jilly’s Music Room. The sound is good, the seats (tables and banquettes) comfy, and the food and drink, excellent.

My wife loves a signature cocktail of theirs, of which they have a fair number, a Maple Bourbon Martini.

Maple Bourbon Martini

Maple Bourbon Martini

Pretty simple stuff: 2 oz. Maker’s Mark, 2 oz. cranberry juice, ½ oz. maple syrup. A sprig of rosemary with a cranberry or a cherry on the end spruces it up. Way too sweet for me, but getting pretty good responses from her mixed drink crochet squad, the Cocktail Cuties.

For my part, I started off with a Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout from Alltech’s Lexington Brewery. I have been critical of their Bourbon Barrel Ale, which I tried once in a bottle, finding it to taste like a run of the mill light ale (I think) with an overwhelming shot of bourbon flavored extract thrown in. Admitedly, I have not had it on tap. I’ve read and heard positive reviews of it from people I respect, but with so much to try, have not yet muscled up to see if a draft of it might change my tune.

indexBut, particularly in light of an old friend running the brewing at Alltech now, I thought I’d give the stout a try. This turned out to be a good idea. From the bottle, no head to speak of and not much of a nose (which I see as a good thing compared to the overpowering room freshener like nose of bourbon on the ale), this turned out to be very nice, with nothing to overwhelm the traditional toasty grain flavor I’ve come to associate with a proper stout, enhanced by far more a flavor of oak from the bourbon barrels and a touch of coffee than the bourbon itself. A most enjoyable and drinkable brew.

We ordered up some food from the Jilly’s tappas (small plate) menu. For the table (3 of us) their baked jarlsberg cheese dip with peppered crostini chips is always the first item ordered. Along with that, we each had an opened face marinated flank steak slider with goat cheese, served on a bit of toasted baguette and topped with roasted red peppers and… yes… fig jam. Tender, melt in the mouth delicious, so rich we were actually pleased that they were itty bitty three bite babies of wonderfulness.

photo credit:

photo credit:

By this point, I had finished the stout and, staying in the pocket, ordered a nitro can of Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, from across the pond. This was delicious. I really like the creamy mouthfeel of nitro cans. I love a Boddington’s this way while finding it rather pedestrian coming from a straight tap. Guilty pleasure?
The Youngs carried a big chocolate nose, and a milk chocolate flavor. Now as opposed to the Chocolate Manifesto Double Milk Stout from Flying Monkeys I reviewed in my tour of this year’s Art & Ale, which I found to be an ice cream parlor novelty brew, this chocolate milk stout was a lovely balancing act. Coming as it did, novel as well… or is it? Is the mouthfeel created by nitro cans novel, or simply yet another variation on the brewer’s beverage? If it is a bit of a parlor trick, it wasn’t overwhelming so, and it’s one I like. I would definitely drink this again.

As I sipped the stout and Dolli embarked on her second Maple Bourbon Martini, we ordered up a St. Patrick’s Day special Jilly’s kitchen was offering on the day after, a wonderful lamb and beef Shephard’s Pie. Meaty and a little black peppery, it was a fabulous dish to share. Our friend, brewer and ace musician (who I’ve sucked into my band, at present), Taylor McIntosh, then, received a text from a fellow brewer, chomping at the bit to tap a creation of his, asking for a return of his actual tap, borrowed by Taylor… posthaste! This left me, as he rushed out, with half of his Anchor Steam. This is a session strength (4.9%) “steam beer.” To best describe it, here’s a nice video produced by the gang at Anchor Steam.

There was a sweetness, and a nice measure of bitter. Taylor had mentioned that some people simply don’t like it. I can see why. There’s something in the flavor that some might describe, for lack of a better word, as a bit of the skunk, just that hint of sour to go along with the traditional flavors of a lager style beer. I found it had excellent drinkability, mouth feel and, moreover, was interesting at every sip. A big thumbs up from me, topping off a lovely night, once again, at Jilly’s.

photo: betterbeerblog

photo: betterbeerblog

Also recently sampled:

Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point, 7% IPA, boasting “hints of peach, lemon, and mango.” This comes from the fertile brewing ground of San Diego, and is regarded by The Beer Advocate as world class! I don’t know what it is with me. Some days a beer will really resonate with me, as this one should have, my being a lover of a fine IPA, and others, not so much.

I had this at another eatery with a truly tasty menu, The Merchant Tavern. I drank this with my spectacularly tasty Dijon Chicken Sandwich : grilled chicken, spinach, thick chunks of brie, garlic mayo, and dijon, served on a lovely crusty bread. Maybe I needed more spice to get this brew to raise my eyebrows as it cut through (70 IBU), but for some reason, it never managed to reach me. As a unanimous cheer goes out to this one, I’m going to have to try it again, I think.

A little bit of a polka dot post. A little of this, and a little of that. But some days that’s just how we roll. Cheers.

POST SCRIPT: We recently attended a get together at the home of dear friends to, along with picking up a parting gift of a delicious Paskha, celebrate the Greek Easter with a lovely feast and good conversation. And then there was the iced beer bucket, containing one of the daughters’ favorite brew, Sculpin IPA, which I grabbed up immediately as a second chance to get to know this acclaimed brew. Again, to be honest, neither my nose nor my mouth exploded with fireworks, but I will say it was a nicely balanced, refreshing, and tasty brew that did itself proud washing down the lamb sliders, pastizio, and all the other amazing Greek goodies to be had.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Tracey Thomas April 7, 2015 at 7:50 pm

I feel so famous! Thanks for the nod, as for me I am thinking that chocolate stout is the way to go I am going to try that. Used to be a huge fan of the Boddington’s.


Carol Westbrook April 11, 2015 at 4:34 pm

Nice little piece about good stouts and good company — which is always what good beer demands!


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