Happy Memorial Day Maniacs! Welcome to the UFC 146: "Dos Santos vs.
Beer Mir" edition of MMAmania presents "Beermania."
The plan is to rate and review two different styles of beer prior to each UFC pay-per-view (PPV) fight card, with one brand representing each of the two main event fighters.
Unfortunately, I was unable to sample any beers from Francis Mir's home state of Nevada, so I have decided to go with two easily accessible American Amber Ales. Today, I will be sampling New Belgium Brewing's Fat Tire out of Colorado and Bell's Brewing Amber Ale from Michigan. Also, I will be including my awesome London Broil Recipe, just in time for this weekend's barbecues.
Here's how it works.
When reviewing a beer, there are typically five categories of concern: Appearance (A), Smell (S), Taste (T), Mouthfeel (M), and Drinkability (D). After a brief description for each category, based on my tasting notes, I will assign a letter grade to each beer.
With any luck, I can convince some you to try out a beer you normally wouldn't have sampled at the local watering hole -- or keep you from making a huge mistake when ordering on the fly.
Follow me after the jump to get started.
Below are the Beer Judge Certification Program Guidelines (BJCP) for the Amber Ale style:
American Amber Ale
Aroma: Low to moderate hop aroma from dry hopping or late kettle additions of American hop varieties. A citrusy hop character is common, but not required. Moderately low to moderately high maltiness balances and sometimes masks the hop presentation, and usually shows a moderate caramel character. Esters vary from moderate to none. No diacetyl.
Appearance: Amber to coppery brown in color. Moderately large off-white head with good retention. Generally quite clear, although dry-hopped versions may be slightly hazy.
Flavor: Moderate to high hop flavor from American hop varieties, which often but not always has a citrusy quality. Malt flavors are moderate to strong, and usually show an initial malty sweetness followed by a moderate caramel flavor (and sometimes other character malts in lesser amounts). Malt and hop bitterness are usually balanced and mutually supportive. Fruity esters can be moderate to none. Caramel sweetness and hop flavor/bitterness can linger somewhat into the medium to full finish. No diacetyl.
Mouthfeel: Medium to medium-full body. Carbonation moderate to high. Overall smooth finish without astringency often associated with high hopping rates. Stronger versions may have a slight alcohol warmth.
Overall Impression: Like an American pale ale with more body, more caramel richness, and a balance more towards malt than hops (although hop rates can be significant).
History: Known simply as Red Ales in some regions, these beers were popularized in the hop-loving Northern California and the Pacific Northwest areas before spreading nationwide.
Comments: Can overlap in color with American pale ales. However, American amber ales differ from American pale ales not only by being usually darker in color, but also by having more caramel flavor, more body, and usually being balanced more evenly between malt and bitterness. Should not have a strong chocolate or roast character that might suggest an American brown ale (although small amounts are okay).
Ingredients: Pale ale malt, typically American two-row. Medium to dark crystal malts. May also contain specialty grains which add additional character and uniqueness. American hops, often with citrusy flavors, are common but others may also be used. Water can vary in sulfate and carbonate content.
Mendocino Red Tail Ale, North Coast Red Seal Ale, St. Rogue Red Ale, Avery Redpoint Ale, Anderson Valley Boont Amber Ale, Bell's Amber, Hoptown Paint the Town Red, McNeill's Firehouse Amber Ale
Now on to the this week's beers!
Out of the blue corner and representing the challenger and former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir is New Belgium Brewing's Fat Tire.
From the Brewery:
Named in honor of our co-founder's bike trip through Europe, Fat Tire Amber Ale marks a turning point in the young electrical engineer's home brewing. Belgian beers use a far broader palette of ingredients (fruits, spices, esoteric yeast strains) than German or English styles. Together with co-founder, Kim Jordan, they traveled around sampling their homebrews to the public. Fat Tire won fans with its sense of balance: toasty, biscuit-like malt flavors coasting in equilibrium with hoppy freshness.
Just the facts Ma'am...
|Hops -||Willamette, Goldings, Target|
|Malts -||Pale, C-80, Munich, Victory|
A: Poured from the bottle into a pint glass. Body is clear coppery-amber with a half-finger khaki-colored head. Plenty of visible carbonation. A decent amount of lace.
S: Toasted malts, sweet, caramel and even some hints of floral hops.
T: Tastes of biscuit and malt up front with a toasted caramel and syrup flavor on the palate. Earthy hop character and finishes on the sweet side of dry.
M: Medium body and medium carbonation.
D: Very easy drinking beer, could certainly have more than one.
Score: B. I would give the Fat Tire a B on the Shiv scale. It's what I like to call a "gateway" beer. Brewed solid enough for craft beer fanatics, yet approachable enough for the Miller Light crowd. It is also a very versatile beer, good after mowing the lawn in the summer heat, or while sitting around the camp fire on a cool September evening with some friends.
Out of the red corner and hailing from Michigan representing the current UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos is Bell's Brewing Amber Ale.
From the Brewery:
Amber Ale deftly balances a mixture of toasted grain & light caramel notes with a range of floral, citrus and herbal hop notes, capped by a clean bitterness. This balance of flavors makes Amber Ale quite versatile as a food pairing option, not to mention being rather tasty in its own right. Whether serving as a jumping point to other styles or as a familiar standby, Amber Ale is central to the Bell’s portfolio.
Alcohol by Volume: 5.8%
Original Gravity: 1.056
Shelf Life: 6 months
Dates Available: Year Round
Available Packages: 6-packs, 12-packs and draft
A: Poured from a 12 ounce bottle, into a pint glass. Hazy amber in color with a one finger cream colored head that fades to nothing relatively quick, very little lacing.
S: Aroma is a mixture of sweet malt and citrus. There is also a trace of fresh grain.
T: Sweetened malts and grain with some light floral hop character and some wet grass in the middle with dried berries and nuts. Perfect amount of lingering bitterness in the aftertaste.
M: Smooth medium body with light carbonation.
D: Very easy drinker, could certainly order more than one of these.
Score: A. Bell's Amber Ale is a very nice brew, it is brewed to style, and one that I would consider suggesting to anyone who has never had an Amber Ale. Still very approachable for the Pale Lager crowd. Extra points were earned due to the creamier mouthfeel that the Bell's had in comparison to the Fat Tire.
Now as an added bonus, I am gong to give all you Maniacs a recipe that I have been grilling up for years. Shiv's London Broil.
1 French cut London Broil (ask your butcher to do the French Cut)
1 32oz bottle of Ocean Spray Cherry Juice
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1 Stick Butter (salted)
All Purpose Flour
Barbecue Sauce (whatever is your favorite) I make my own, or use Sweet Baby Rays
McCormick's brand Applewood smoke style dry rub.
Step 1: Marinate the LB. Pour 1/2 to 3/4 of the bottle of Cherry juice into a container large enough to hold the LB, Place the LB a hand full of fresh rosemary and some crushed red pepper (amount is up to you) into the marinade, cover and refrigerate over night.
Step 2: Sauce. About one hour before you are going to cook, take the LB out of the marinade, making sure you keep all the liquid. Pat the meat dry with a paper towel, and let it come down to room temperate. In a medium sized sauce pot use the flour and butter to make a base roux. Directions for that can be found here. Once the roux is ready, pour in the saved marinade liquid, the remaining fresh cherry juice that was saved, and some of the barbecue sauce and some black pepper into the pot, continue to heat and stir until the desired consistency is achieved.
Step 3: Grill and dry rub. Next take the Applewood dry rub and cover the london broil. Let the rub sit for at least 10 minutes before placing the meat on the grill. I use charcoal, but if you have gas, preheat the grill to medium-high. Grill the LB for 13 minutes total, flipping once halfway, Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. This will get you rare/medium rare, leave the meat on longer if you like your meat cooked to a higher temperature.
Step 4: Enjoy with your friends and family while drinking a Bell's Amber Ale or New Belgium Fat Tire.
Well, that's it for this edition of Beermania. Make sure to check back for future installments. And as always, remember to drink responsibly, even you Jon.