I Must Be a Coco-Nut?

beerI saw this beer while shopping the other day, and as the gloom of a Michigan winter was weighing heavy on my soul, I needed something to remind me of summer. To remind me of what sunshine felt like, the sweet smells of coconut sun lotion and the taste of a cool frozen cocktail by the pool.

Porter Rico beer is brewed by the Arcadia Brewing Company right here in our wonderful state of Michigan. I would like to say some poetic description of how the beer fuses the tastes of Cacao and Coconut into a liquid exotic tropical island adventure, but in reality to me, it was like a good chocolaty porter and coconut sun tan oil had a baby. A weird, disturbing baby.

I tried to like this beer but could get over the taste of what I can only imagine coconut sun tan oil tastes like. Yes, it did take me back to my wild impetuous youth, where we would coat ourselves in Hawaiian Tropic and lay out on a bed of aluminum foil, but even with the fond memories I just couldn’t love this beer.

I think you either like this beer, or don’t. I was one of the don’ters.  I did not meet anyone as of yet who has LOVED it, although my most likely inevitable son-in-law, Quinton liked it.

This beer has 5.5% alcohol by volume, and is brewed with real coconut, bittersweet malt and chocolate. It is one of Arcadia’s seasonal beers for 2017 so get it while you can. I say try it, you might like it. I however, am sad to say I won’t be buying again.

Irish You Would Try Malone’s

img_3244I had tickets the other night to Andiamo to see Peter Noone and Herman’s Hermits.  It was a great show – even got to get an autograph and a picture with him! A wee bit tipsy, we invited him to my friend Michelle’s house for Nachos the night night , but he was heading for Ohio in the morning.  Otherwise, I am sure he would have joined!

We wanted something a bit easier and more economical than Andiamo’s for dinner, so we decided to try Malone’s Tavern, a local Irish pub, on Van Dyke and 14 Mile.  I made reservations, that we waiting for us when we arrived. The service was friendly and she took good care of us, even though she seemed to be one of the only waitresses.

Omar and I ordered a Super Trooper Coffee and Donut Brown Ale by Petoskey Brewing Company. 7.3% abv.  The beer was smooth, not too heavy. The beer is a brown ale that has chocolate malt, Colombian coffee and donuts in it, sourced from local companies.

From the website: The coffee grounds are from Higher Grounds in nearby Traverse City and the donuts are from Johan’s Pastry Shop in Petoskey. The brew smells more like a coffee than a beer.

Their menu is fairly large, with your standard bar fair, intertwined with Irish specialties. Some of their more unusual offerings are pepper jack cheese balls, reuben sliders made with Wigley’s corned beef, home made potato chips, shepherd’s pie and bangers and mash.

I was not super hungry, and just felt like potato skins, which I ordered with a side salad. The potato skins were a bit disappointing.  They were under cooked, with a small amount of toppings.  The salad was inconsequential.  A simple bagged salad with a few soggy croutons and ranch dressing. Edible, not memorable.

Omar got a Louisiana Burger, which is a Cajun spiced burger, topped with jalapeños, pepper jack cheese, sriracha mayo and onion straws. Served on a grilled brioche bun. He ordered onion straws on the side as he doesn’t like onion straws/rings on a burger. He said the burger was good, but didn’t order any sides so was not super filling.

Our other guests ordered such items as reuban sandwiches, atlantic salmon, burgers and shepherds pie.  Everyone said their food was ok.  Nothing special, but nothing terrible either,

Overall, I give the atmosphere and friendliness factor a 7 out of 10 and food, a mere 5 out of 10.  It is what it is, bar food, nothing less, nothing more.  I would go back again for the convenience, but don’t think I will be singling it out for its amazing food.

 

 

Beer Beer and more Beer

Looking for something to do, and somewhere to go, Omar and I decided we needed to try the brewhouse that his barber recommended. You never know where your next awesome restaurant referral will come from. We headed to the Brown Iron Brewhouse in Washington Township, at 26 and Van Dyke.

The place when we pulled up was already rocking, lots of people, full tables and a full patio with fire pit. We managed to grab a couple seats at the bar, and began to look over the many tappers on the wall.  Imagine an entire wall full of tappers with an array of beer offerings from light lagers to unusual porters to ever so fun and funky IPA’s. The menu of beers changes daily and sometimes even hourly we were told.

They offer sample size beers in small snifter glasses from 1.50 to 4.00 depending on the beer.  You can also get larger sizes but whats the fun in that? We both ordered to start a Liquid double fudge Imperial Stout by Evil Twin brewing company, abv of a whopping 12%. The waiter, who was amazing said we don’t want to do that what we want to do is order that AND an Evil Twin Imperial Doughnut Break, which was a Doughnut Imperial Porter, with a abv of 11%. I love that! I love an educated beer server who knows his stuff and isn’t afraid to speak his mind!!

Both beers were really smooth. Dark, rich and chocolaty. The Liquid Double Fudge had overtones of a bittersweet chocolate while the Doughnut Stout was a bit smoother, with a bit more sweet overtones of brown sugar and a little smoother.  I was so full after that I couldn’t do anymore. So disappointing. It was like being in a beer wonderland. Literally any kind of beer for every palate! Omar ordered a Jaden James Peanut Butter Porter with a abv of 6.8%.  The beer indeed tasted like peanut butter. Omar loved it. He loves peanut butter in many things. Shakes, sundaes, etc.  I thought it was really gross myself.  But I have to hand it to the brewers, it did have distinct flavors of chocolate, coffee, and peanut butter. Like breakfast in a glass. Although this brewhouse doesn’t officially brew yet, they were in the process of adding tanks and will begin brewing their own beer soon.

The menu is really interesting, Although a BBQ/smokehouse with the menu weighing heavy with your standard BBQ fare, ribs, brisket, burnt ends, pork, etc., it had eclectic and interesting appetizers. I had to order the loaded potato egg rolls.  Egg rolls filled with a warm cheesy mashed potato filling, with smoked bacon, sour cream, green onions, dipped in a homemade buttermilk ranch dressing.  So unusual but they were so good!

We also ordmenuered the hot soft pretzels, which came with an amazing caramelized onion dip and spicy mustard.  We added by recommendation the warm beer cheese dip.  The pretzels were really good and that onion dip you could eat by itself, with a really big spoon!

We unfortunately started our journey here too full and too late but we will go back and are excited to try some of their other offerings. What a nice surprise to stumble into somewhere you had never heard of and feel you are transported somewhere else! We can’t wait to go back.  We give this place a million thumbs up!!

I have attached a pic of the robust beer menu – but remember it changes every day!!

Three Ale Mary’s and Two Thumbs Up

The day after we went to Bastone Brewery Omar actually agreed to go to Royal Oak again! Was it he is warming up to the food diversity there, or was it just because our friends Ray and Denise suggested it? It was funny, because Denise and I made tentative plans to meet at Mr. Paul’s Chophouse.  A little tableside Ceasar Salad, Chateaubriand for two… yet somehow our men folk changed plans and we went to a beer hall style dinner.

Humph.  Well going with the flow as I usually do, cause I am cool like that, we headed out to Ale Mary’s.  I have never been here, but heard it was really good from people at work.  We were surprised to find the restaurant was so small.  The second half of Tom’s Oyster Bar, transformed into a German Style Beer hall with long community tables and a robust beer menu.  I don’t really like sitting at picnic table style seating with, as Stealers Wheel so eloquently put, clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, but alas, go with the flow aye?  Also I am getting kind of old for a long beer drinking session with no back to lean up against.

Our “dates” for the evening were running a bit late, and we were running very early, and hungry so we opted to order the duck poutine while waiting. The fries, cooked in duck fat, are layered with a thick hearty gravy, cheese curds and pieces of duck.  Very tasty but so bad for you!

This blog post, I will first review the food, then the beer.

I ordered the cuban sandwich.  It was tasty, with pulled pork, ham, spicy mustard and extra pickles.  The bun though, as I have experienced in the past seemed less cuban-esc and more hot dog bun-esc.  My sandwich cane with even more fries, which I shared but did not partake.

Omar ordered the, wait for it, Beer Cheese burger!! My honey is so predictable.  The burger cooked medium, with applewood smoked bacon, final absolution beer cheese, sprink mix, picked red onion and roasted tomato on a brioche bun. His too, served with more fries.  The burger was good, dripping with oozy cheese and very messy.

Ray ordered a deconstructed chicken pot pie, which consisted of free range chicken, roasted, atop a mound of mashed peas and potatoes, with a puff pastry cap and mirepoix (which for you foodie newbs is basically tiny chopped veggies).  He said it was good.

Denise ordered roasted brussels sprouts for an appetizer for the table. Roasted and tossed with pine nuts and an orange brown butter sauce, they were delicious.  She too ordered the beer cheese burger and enjoyed it.

So moving on to the best part of the evening, the beer.  This first beer, I actually had a whole glass while waiting for our guests.  The rest Omar and I shared a flight.IMG_2190

Saugatuck Neopolitan Milk Stout Nitro: Officially a blend of milk sugar, chocolate, vanilla beans, and strawberries. From their menu: “This decadent specialty stout has developed a cult following and just one sip will tell you why.” I will tell you why: This intricate beer somehow infused all the flavors of a classic Neapolitan in a single glass.  Layers of chocolate and vanilla, with slight overtones of a gentle strawberry flavor.  This really tasted like melted ice cream in a glass. 5.9% abv, I give this beer two big thumbs up!

Clown Shoes Clementine: A Witbier, 5.9% abv, Light-bodied and crisp, this is a terrific seasonal packed with plenty of zest! Hazy in appearance and healthily carbonated, it utilizes Blanche de Chambly yeast to energetically shape its wheat malt base. Light, with just hints of clementine oranges. A light and refreshing summer beer.

Goose Island Matilda: A Belgian Ale, 7.0 abv, this pale ale is fermented with the wild yeast Brettanomyces. Matilda pours a golden sunrise color with dried fruit and clove aromas, a spicy yeast flavor, and a satisfying dry finish.

Wolverine Barista Coffee Lager: 6.2% abv, A collaboration brew with Ann Arbor’s RoosRoast featuring locally roasted Colombian coffee. Wolverine Brewer Karl Hinbern, once in the coffee roasting business himself, spearheaded the coffee side of this beer, finally selecting a Colombian Excelso bean roasted at Roos. Pours a dark clear brown with an off white head and features huge coffee flavor and aroma. OMG Omar and I were in love love love with this beer. Tasted like iced coffee.  The coffee flavor is this beer just slaps you across the face.  Amazing and HIGHLY recommended.

Liberty Street Pooh Beer Honey Porter: I had to order this beer with such a cute name!A whopping 9.8% abv, you wouldn’t know by the light texture and smooth taste.  This is a honey porter made with locally harvested honey, and plenty of it, to give this high alcohol beer a very sweet finish.

Ballist Point Peppermint Victory at Sea Imperial Porter: 10.0 abv, a festive take on Ballist Point’s popular Imperial Porter. They took their trademark robust porter brewed with Caffe Calabria coffee and vanilla and added a dose of refreshing peppermint. The trio of flavors play perfectly on your palate – the brew’s sweet roasting balances nicely with a cool, minty finish.

Founders Nitro Oatmeal Stout: 4.5% abv, brewed with generous amounts of flaked oats, chocolate malt, roasted barley and a healthy helping of Nugget hops, it is extra smooth and has a creamy mouthfeel. This beer was your typical Oatmeal Stout.  Nothing amazing, but good nonetheless.

Overall, we will most definitely go back. Maybe not so much for the food, but for sure for the beer. Check it out while you are in Royal Oak!!

 

 

 

Alba Go Bragh!

I met my beautiful Jen after work for dinner and drinks last nite at the Tilted Kilt in Sterling Heights. I have heard many things about it listening to sports talk radio shows who sometimes broadcast from there. As one suspects, its a UK themed sports bar. Lots of televisions abound and the place is quite large. Looks like a great place to have a fantasy football draft or a gathering to watch Monday night football.
The decor is Scottish themed and the servers and bartenders wear kilts and the menu has a shout out to the British Isles with standard bar food thrown in as well. Wednesday is 5 dollar burger day, all day. Add ons to the burger are about .50 or a dollar depending on what you like and fries are another dollar.
I ordered the $5 burger which comes with lettuce, tomato and onion. I added bacon, jalapenos, pepper jack cheese and fries, which brought total cost to $8.50. The burger by the way is a half pounder.
My burger was cooked the way I like it and tasted great and the fries were good too. Really enjoyed the meal. Jen was not as enamored as I was, she said it was just ok.
The beer selection was good and better than what is shown on their website. I had a Founders breakfast stout and a Hideout peanut butter stout. Both were wonderful and bursting with flavor.
Which brings me now to the wait staff. The ladies are dressed in kilts and stockings accompanied by a half shirt. Jen likened it to a Scottish Hooters. Now the young lady who served us was affable just not too speedy. Now I know a lot of guys would forgive that, because the ladies are scantily clad. However, ogling young ladies that are half my age and only a few years older than my daughter, is just a little creepy. Anyway, I enjoyed my experience and will return.

Bob’s Your Uncle

Recently attended a Human Resource Conference in Grand Rapids. Our entertainment for the evening was dinner and drinks at a place called the B.O.B. (Big Old Building). This place is really cool and very eclectic. It is a remodeled old warehouse, with floor after floor of restaurants, comedy clubs, and bars. Our evenings entertainment put us on the third floor with a live band (who were pretty good) and the fourth floor for Dr. Grins comedy club. As this was a sponsored event, it is difficult to review the menu as we had a pre-chosen buffet. Rather three buffets. One area had a variety of cold salads, BBQ smoked chicken sliders, which were spicier than I expected, and a beef station with carved filet, baked beans and cornbread. The filet was the star of the show, cooked as a whole tenderloin, medium rare, and smoked perfectly. The beans were cooked with onions and BBQ sauce and were really tasty. The cornbread is not even worth mentioning, however.
Station #2 was a pseudo Mexican gala with pulled pork tacos and chicken nachos. I did not try the tacos, but the chicken on the nachos were very dry.
Station #3 was pasta, Caesar salad and pizza. I had a bit of the Caesar salad, which was well, Caesar salad. Not impressive, but good. The one pasta I tried seemed like a bacon infused mac and cheese. Pretty good. The second pasta looked good, a tortellini spinach pasta, but loaded with mushrooms so I opted out. The pizza looked underwhelming, so I opted against.
The BOB has its own brewery – who knew? I really have to go back to Grand Rapids and enjoy the craft beer culture that has over taken the city. With Founders Brewery, The Bob and numerous restaurants catering to a more refined beer drinking college crowd, such as Hopcat, it really is a beer lovers destination.
My beer of choice for the evening was SpaceBoy Stout, an oatmeal stout, light and creamy and easy to drink. 6% abv, it is similar to my other love, Rochester Mills Milkshake Stout.
A fun evening, and I have discovered a fun new beer, and a fun new place to visit when in Grand Rapids. I recommend both!

Celebrating the 4th. Street that is!

Cleveland part, heck I don’t know, I have lost track…

Saturday Evening we took a shuttle to the 4th street area.  This is where Michael Symon of Food Network has his restaurant “Lola’s Bistro” along with such eclectic places as Pickwick and Frolic’s which a comedy club and retro style cabaret, Butcher and the Brewer (featured on Food Networks Burgers, Brews and Q’s), The House of Blues, Chinato’s and many more pubs/restaurants. Although we were obviously not hungry, we wanted to see what the hype was all about.

The street is completely pedestrian, and by that, I don’t mean lacking refinement, but literally, no cars allowed.  I know we throw the term pedestrian around a lot, but in this case it is really true!! Cobblestone streets, cafe’s with awnings, and crowds of people, talking, laughing, drinking, eating. It really is a foodie’s mecca, with such oddities as Beef Cheek, bone marrow, sweetbreads and foie gras and that is at Lola’s alone!!

We settled in a Pickwicks and Frolic since they had a nice open table, right in the heart of people watching country.  I, being super full, ordered a Fat Heads Bumble berry, a honey and blueberry infused beer, with a easy 5.3 apv.  I was worried the fruit flavor would be too overwgelming, but as the cinnamon toast crunch was, this too was mild and fruit flavors were not overpowering.  I really enjoyed this beer, especially on a beautiful summers night.  Well beautiful until it started to sprinkle on us!!

Omar ordered a Peanut Butter Cup Coffee Porter by Willoughby Brewing Company.  A mere 5.5% by volume, it did indeed have flavors of chocolate, coffee, deep roasts and of course, a subtle kiss of peanut butter.  I found it odd, and personally would never order nor drink it, Omar enjoyed it, and even searched it out when we got home.  Beer Advocate gives it a 92% satisfaction rating so someone must really like it!! Well I may be brave enough if this was included in a flight of beers, but not on its own!

It started to sprinkle, so we finished our drinks.  The patios were clearing out as the crowds ran inside, apparently afraid they would all melt. We decided to meander and stroll back to our hotel, taking in the sights of the city along the way.  They had a restaurant called the chocolate bar, and I wished we weren’t so full The deserts looked delicious, and all the savory foods were prepared with candy or chocolate in some way.

It was fun just walking among the skyscrapers and hustle and bustle of a large city.  It was a long full day of food, fun and festivities and we still had a day to go!

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Fat Head and Fat Belly

Cleveland: Dinner Saturday

After our day cruise, we opted to take a side trip to another brewery right outside the city.  We headed to Fat Head’s Brewery & Saloon, about a 20 minute drive from the hotel.

Oh man, we hit the jackpot for beer selection.  They had probably over 20 different kinds of micro brewed beers ranging from Hoppy IPAs to Seasonal Spiced Ales.  All beers available as a 4 oz. sample ranging from 1.50-2.50 per selection so that is what we opted for.  Omar and I, having similar beer tastes, ordered the same samples.

Which were:

The Battle Ax Baltic Porter: Smooth and Rich, with chocolate overtones and a a complexity of flavors including dark dried fruits, licorice and molasses.  8.6 abv.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch: This was surprisingly subtle, with a hint of sweetness, vanilla and cinnamon. They call it their breakfast in a glass. Sweet malt and bready flavor. 7.8% abv.

Chocolate Vanilla Porter: 6% abv, had chocolate, coffee, caramel and roasted flavors. Madagascar Vanilla beans and Belgian Dark Chocolate give this brew its elegant flavor.

Black Knight Schwarzbier: A dark black lager with dark roasted flavors. 5.5% abv.

The food was really good. HUGE and I mean huge portions. I highly suggest splitting something.  Omar ordered the “Thick Rick” burger.  Two, yes 2, 8 oz. patties, american cheese, bacon, lettuce, mayo and tomato with a big slice of onion.  Came with fresh cut fries o’plenty.

I ordered the Smoked prime rib dip sandwich with prime rib sliced thin, and grilled with onions, topped with provolone cheese & horseradish sauce. Au Jus on the side. It was served on a tasty sub bun, but way to large for me to even attempt to eat.  A handful of homemade potato chips accompanied the sandwich, which were cooked very well.

Overall, a fabulous experience.  We even commented that was it us, just choosing the most stellar restaurants to eat in, or did Cleveland just have a much better food selection than Detroit? So far, we have made FABULOUS choices! More to follow…

Cruising and Boozing

More Cleveland…

So Saturday we took a tour around the Cuyahoga River with the Goodtime III cruise.  We got their early and got a great set on the top deck. It was a perfect day, not too hot, sun was shining.  The cruise was about 1 hour on the river learning about the history of Cleveland, and an hour just cruising on Lake Erie.  For $17 I would highly recommend this if visiting Cleveland.

So to tie this in to Brews and Chews, we did drink beer on this cruise.  We are on vacation after all!

The beer selection was limited and Omar chose for us Yuengling’s traditional lager. This beer, produced in what is touted as America’s oldest brewery, in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, established in 1829! So they must be doing something right.  This beer was introduced to Omar by our friend and fellow beer drinker, Kevin Cole. Thanks Kevin for the interesting bit of beer history!

This beer is a traditional lager, but a far step above the pedestrian beers as we call them. (Bud, Miller, etc.) Amber and medium-bodied, it is roasted with caramel malt for a subtle sweetness.

Interesting bit of Yuengling history. They survived prohibition, when most breweries were going out of business by producing the first “near beer” with a super-low alcohol count, and marketed as an energy drink. They also operate a dairy that produces beer insipred ice cream, like their black and tan, which is not made with beer, but caramel and dark chocolate. Oh mama, sign me up!

One more interesting note. In 2010, Obama stated that Yeungling was his favorite beer.

A great day and a great icy cold beer!  Try them both – I highly recommend.IMG_1590 IMG_1586 IMG_1584 IMG_1573 IMG_1569

Bastone Brewery – ooh la la – don’t mind if I do-ery

Today for lunch, the owner of my work took us all to lunch to celebrate one of the ladies 10 year anniversary.  After trying to find a restaurant that would accommodate like 20 or so of us at the prime lunch time hour, we settled on Bastone Brewery.

Now Bastone touts itself as a Belgian brewery with Belgian inspired food.  The first thing that caught my eye, of course (if you remember my fryraid), was they had pomme frittes on the menu, could they be the thin, salty, fries I was hoping for?

As soon as we started looking over the menu, baskets of warm bread were brought to the table with a chive infused butter.  The bread was really good. Imagine a good French bread and a sourdough bread had a baby.  That’s what this bread was.  Crispy on the outside, warm, chewy and thick on the inside.  Melt some chive infused butter on it – oh baby – there goes my diet!!

Before we could settle on a selection, the owner ordered appetizers of spinach artichoke dip and pomme frittes for all. The spinach artichoke dip was unlike any I had ever had. It was baked with what they advertise as four cheeses. The overall look and taste was that it had a cheddar cheese base, rather than a white cheese base.  It was served with warm seasoned crostini. It was delicious. The pomme frittes, not quite as I imagined, stick thin and fried just til crispy, these were thin(ner) and twice fried, giving them the deep brown look and flavor of a hand cut fry.  They were served salty in a paper cone, and came with a variety of mayonnaise dipping sauces (or Aioli’s). All just as tasty as the next.  Garlic, horseradish, red pepper, artichoke, tarragon, basil and mammoet – which is one of the three new culinary words I learned today.  In Belgium, fries are often served as a main dish, and always have some kind of mayonnaise.  Mammoet is a tomato based mayo with garlic. soy sauce, onion and a sweetener.

Here is an interesting website on the history of the french fry, and appropriate preparation and toppings. Just in case you were interested.

http://www.webfoodculture.com/side/fries-and-george-crum/

For lunch, not that I even needed anything else, I ordered a burger.  Now they have a burger served with braised beef cheeks and gouda, but I opted for the face free burger.  I asked for thousand island for my burger, and was told they have no thousand island, no ranch.  Those topping are simply too pedestrian for this place.  I was given both artichoke mayo and mammoet.  I also ordered pomme frittes. Don’t judge, I didn’t want to make a hog of myself with the ones for appetizers.  The burger was cooked well, and seasoned properly. It had that slight charred flavor from a flame grilled burger. The bun was odd, but good. It was almost crispy on the outside, and really light on the inside.

Now others ordered, and here are my other two new culinary words I learned today, grilled Onglet with stoemp. Onglet, basically french for Hanger Steak, and stoemp, which is a mashed potato with carrots and spinach.  I think they were good, but of course, can’t really speak for them. Just mentioned because of my two new words I learned.

The service was spot on, and they treated us really well for such a large party.  Unlike other restaurants that say “Oh, we can’t accommodate a big party you have to leave!!” And you know who you are (**cough cough Parrot Cove**).

Omar has an aversion to Royal Oak, mostly due to the parking. As I work in Royal Oak now, I am getting to see the rich diversity and culinary adventures that Royal Oak has to offer and I am going to start dragging him there whether he likes it or not! Bastone is one I will drag him too. And that time I will be able to sample the Belgian beers and report back to you!!