Pan-galactic wit?

Oort Cloud

Oort Cloud

Week three of the NFL season sees the Arizona Cardinals pay a visit to the New Orleans Superdome to face the mighty Saints. Unfortunately for my Gameday Beers series, getting some Arizona beer over in the UK has been pretty impossible so I had to think outside the box a little. This week I’ll be torn away from my game at half-time as I set out to the local theater to see a live performance of the awesome radio adaptation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy so I figured instead of a game-related beer, I could get away with something a little different this week and go for the space-themed Belgian Wit, Oort Cloud (5.1%ABV) from relatively new brewery Rocket Science. Since I’ll be taking-off to the theater very shortly and I have one eye on the game, I’ll need to keep this blog brief.

Out of the bottle, it looks like a typical Wit, cloudy and golden yellow like a field of corn but it’s got a really fresh aroma with pine and grapefruit – very lively compared to some Wits I’ve had. The slight carbonation really opens up the banana sweetness combined with a slight hint of herbs and bitter lemon. It’s pretty light for the style but super-refreshing.

Swing when you’re winning (I hope!)

Continuing with my Game Day series, I’ll be raising a glass to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who will be this weeks’ rivals and, like last weeks’ losers the Atlanta Falcons, they’re also divisional rivals of the formidable New Orleans Saints. For those unfamiliar with the NFL, the teams are divided into the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC) and the winning team from each of these conferences eventually goes on to battle it out in the Superbowl. The two conferences are divided into four divisions each and my team, the New Orleans Saints, are in the NFC South division along with the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We’ll see each of our divisional rivals twice during the season and the winner in each division will go through to the play-offs. Although the divisional games have slightly higher stakes because of this, I find it difficult to dislike the Bucs who I’ve lovingly nicknamed the ‘Sucks.’ This is partly because a good friend of mine is a fan and partly because, well, they have a cute logo. Oh and they haven’t been much of a threat in recent times. The last time we met was a 41 – 0 beat-down, but as we know anything can happen on any given Sunday. Since I’m writing this before the game, it won’t do me any favors to get too cocky and I may end up eating my words.

Swinging Harry

Swinging Harry

Whatever happens, this is an excellent opportunity to crack open that very special beer that came back from Copenhagen with me way back in May. Since I’m in London at the Anamanaguchi All Dayer on game day Sunday, I’m enjoying my game-day beer slightly in advance. Any excuse will do – I’ve been excited about the Mikkeller collaboration with Tampa Bay brewery, Cigar City, ever since I saw the label which takes me right back to being a kid playing Pitfall! on the Atari. Swinging Harry (11.4%ABV) is a Belgian style quad brewed with Papaya and Mango and aged in Grand Marnier barrels and if you think you might wanna risk your neck swinging from vines over alligator infested swamps to get your hands on a bottle, you may find it worthwhile! Unlike the awesome label illustration by the ever-talented Keith Shore, the actual beer is a little dull to look at – a swampy slightly orange murky brown with a lacing of tiny off-white bubbles. The aroma is on the stronger side of what you expect in a Belgian ale with a really sweet waft of orange, candy sugar and super-warming alcohol. The taste is not as alcoholic as the smell and instead is full and thick with ripe tropical fruits. The bready malts take the back seat to the papaya and mango with deep woody notes and juicy figs and raisins soaked in bitter orange and masses of caramel. It’s like a boozy fruit cake that leaves you with sticky lips and a warming glow. It had been in the fridge for about an hour before I lost patience and hauled it back out, but I think the flavors really came out to play as it warmed in the glass so don’t worry about chilling it too much. Just relax and enjoy and wish the Saints the best of luck. Who Dat!

In the name of winning

Finally! The long hot summer is drawing to a close and the NFL season has begun! The majority of my Sunday nights from now till the January I will be on my sofa shouting ‘Who Dat‘ at my awesome team, the New Orleans Saints (please note – the hyperlinks will help if you are new to any of this). No football is complete without beer and some time several months ago I had a crazy idea about a beer match for each week of the NFL season. Unfortunately, down to my own disorganization and incompetence, I hadn’t quite managed to find one for every team we face but I’ll try to come up with something suitable each week to be reviewed after the game, since I am normally unable to pay attention to anything that isn’t black and gold for that 60 minutes each week.

In The Name of Suffering

In The Name of Suffering

The opening game of the season against the much hated dirty birds, the Atlanta Falcons (which incidentally we won) deserved something special and I’ve been saving In The Name of Suffering (7.1%ABV) all summer long for tonight. It’s tagged as a New Orleans-Style Black India Pale Ale and was brewed by Three Floyds with the New Orleans ‘sludge metal’ band Eyehategod. I’m a big fan of the BIPA style and this one seems to have been touched by a bit of bayou black magic. It’s a really deep black, only glinting with a hint of brown when held up to the light and it’s topped with light and delicate tan bubbles. The aroma is simply incredible – berries and chocolate and citrus and leather and the taste is possibly the most complex I’ve encountered in this style in a while. It starts off with a hit of sharp hops which melt into rich gooey chocolate gateaux and dark roasted coffee and big malts. There’s a lasting bitter lemon and pine at the end and although the beer is pretty thin, it’s satisfyingly well rounded and sinfully sweet, leaving you with sticky lips wanting more.