Summertime Siestas with Burritos and Flying Dog Old Scratch

Flying Dog Old Scratch

Flying Dog Old Scratch

There’s a line in an Everclear song that goes “We drank that Mexican Beer, we ate that Mexican food”–and I understand the logic of that: a light Mexican lager or pilsner to go with spicy food.

However, that sells Mexican food a little short. Subtract the peppers, and you still have plenty of rich and fairly substantial foods–beans, meats, flatbreads, veggies and a whole bunch of cheeses.

In other words there are a lot of beers that could go with Mexican food much better than some light lager. In this instance, I’m going with–what else?–a nice amber lager, Flying Dog’s Old Scratch.

Flying Dog is a great brewery that I’m very lucky to have so close by, so do expect more reviews of their stuff in the weeks to come. This one is not even their best offering and in many instances would be an unremarkable beer. Sometimes, however, it’s all about the pairings, and in this case Old Scratch works great with burritos.

The  medium lager body works well against the starchy, fatty  filling of a burrito, and the hoppy, semi-bitter finish fits well against the tangy tastes of cheeses and sour cream.

The carbonation is a little more present than in an ale, so that makes it a lot more crisp and light without missing the body that you need to stand up against the thousand or so calories in your average burrito– the result being that you’ll be satisfied with one or two instead of a six pack of watery lagers with lime added to create a flavor.

So, would I suggest it on its own? No way! Would I suggest it with a sandwich, like a BLT? No, I don’t think so. I also wouldn’t put it up against a really heavy shepherd’s pie, casserole or light salad. But with a burrito, chimichanga, or a few tamales? Old Scratch is just excellent!

Where I got my beer: Ye Olde Spirit Shop

Where you can get your beer: Flying Dog is sold at most major alcohol retailers.

Breckenridge Avalanche Ale: A Springtime BBQ Amber

Breckenridge Avalanche Ale

Breckenridge Avalanche Ale

My husband Max continues his beer reviews for you with a fast rundown on Breckenridge Avalanche Ale:

Last time I talked to you about my baseline, “go-to,” anytime beer, a basic amber ale from Fat Tire. This week, I’m getting a little more “crafty” and going with Breckenridge’s Avalanche Ale. It’s another amber ale, but a little more crafted–meaning a little more thought and trial-and-error went into this one.

It’s still an amber, meaning it’s not an acquired taste–you could set down your nephew on his 21st birthday for his very first beer ever, and if it was an amber like the Breckenridge Avalanche, he’d probably like it.

What makes the Avalanche special, however, is it’s less fruity, more chocolate and caramel than other ambers; it tastes very malty, but the hops cleanser at the finish has a more shaped bitterness, like a fine dark chocolate.

The 3.52% alcohol level means it’s rather light for a craft beer (you should see the alcohol content on some beers–the Brewmeister Armageddon is at a whopping 65%!), but the Colorado water used to make the Avalanche is exceptionally clean (I’m no Coors fan, but they’re right that the water is good in Colorado), so this is a remarkably refreshing beer–which is dangerous in itself–you could easily polish off a dozen without getting a skunky, cloying or intense one in the batch. I think your kidneys would explode before you could drink enough of them to find a bad one, if you follow me.

Breckenridge Avalanche Ale won’t necessarily win over your craft beer snob friends, but that’s only because the flavor is relatively light. What this ale does absolutely perfectly, though, is pair well with classic American grilled foods like burgers, hot dogs, and chicken breasts, so you’ll probably have better luck trying this one out with your buddies on game day. And, yes, friends, that makes for a great beer, too. Serve it icy cold on a hot day, such as in place of your usual Corona, and I bet you’ll be wholly satisfied.

Where I got my ale: Ye Old Spirit Shop, Frederick MD

Where you can get your ale: Where most craft beers are sold; use the Breckenridge link at the top of this post to check for locations near you.

Fat Tire Amber Ale for the Classic Beer Repertoire

Fat Tire Amber Ale

Fat Tire Amber Ale

I have recruited my husband Max to review beer for you, and he begins today by telling you about a popular modern classic, Fat Tire Amber Ale by New Belgium Brewing Company:

I like beer. Well, that’s certainly not unusual–a forty something guy who enjoys beer. I don’t think I fall into either of the two typical categories of middle aged, middle class beer drinkers, however; I’m not a “whatever ya got” domestic lager and pilsner guy who drinks beer simply to drink beer. I actually enjoy beer, in the same way that I might enjoy a good burger, a savory snack, or a nice cup of juice or tea. But, on the other hand, I’m not one of those micro-brew snobs you see spending forty bucks on some IPA that I’ve traveled 200 miles to pick up, either. I’m not above a lager, but I really prefer a decent amber. Sometimes in winter, a stout is great, and a decent Hefeweizen in late spring is very tasty, but my go-to most of the year is an amber.

So, if I’m going to talk to you about beer, I’m going to start with a classic amber, Fat Tire. Ambers are technically dark ales, with an emphasis on the malt flavors with some added fruitiness, as opposed to a pale ale’s emphasis on the hops. That means ambers are really smooth, with a kind of substance to them. These qualities mean ambers are seen as a kind of “training wheels” beer by the beer snobs. Like I said–I’m unusual in that I’m fine with the beer snobs thinking of me as having an unrefined palate–I just want a tasty beer.
New Belgium’s Fat Tire is a rather easily obtained amber that’s not made by a giant beer conglomerate; hence, of my go-to type of beer, Fat Tire is the most readily available type. That doesn’t mean it’s a second choice, though. This stuff is so popular for a reason–it’s a beer your average Budweiser drinker can recognize as a tasty beer, yet a beer snob can taste some complexity in it (hence the “training wheels” tag). My point is that 4 out of 5 beer drinkers will like this amber, and–much like with Elvis–50 million fans can’t wrong, right?
Fat Tire has a lightly malty taste with faint aromas of biscuits and jam plus a slightly bitter finish, so it cleanses the palate as you drink it, unlike a soda or a stout, where the flavors linger until they becomes overwhelming. Fat Tire has some caramel notes and some apple flavors, too, so pair it with anything you think would go with biscuits, berry jam, apples or caramel. Chicken, pork, and seafood work especially well–like a good club sandwich, or a nice cashew chicken with fried rice. Overall, if I had to introduce aliens to beer–Fat Tire Amber Ale is where I’d start.  –Max
Where I got my beer: Frederick Wine House
Where you can find this beer: Most liquor stores.