Boh-Shine

Today I will be combining both whiskey and beer, in a discussion built surrounding the venerable National Bohemian.

Natty-Boh is something of a cultural phenomenon in the mid-Atlantic, specifically Baltimore. With a long and storied past that has been covered at great length elsewhere on the web, this once brewed in Baltimore beer was at a time distributed nationally. After falling out of national favor, it lingered as a budget beer in Maryland for decades, eventually ceasing local production after the brand was sold, moving out of state, at some point spawning the awful “boh-ice”, and generally being relegated to a place alongside Narragansett and Lone star as a local oddity/novelty brand. After a resurgence of interest in the brand starting in the late 90’s into the early 2000’s, its iconic imagery spread throughout the city (great old marketing campaign posters, and a snappy cartoon mascot helped), and the brand relaunched in full – though it is still made out of state. Now it has become un-escapable, with expanding distribution, and availability on draught after a number of down years of existing bottles and cans only. I’m pretty sure that in some parts of Maryland they’re even tattooing children with Mr. Boh’s face at this point.  It’s an inevitability that they’ll get one someday themselves anyways.

An example of the modern can design.
An example of the modern can design.
This beer was so bad...I never met anyone who actually liked it.
This beer was so bad…I never met anyone who actually liked it.

Speaking of children, I have a coming-of-age tale brought to you by Natty Boh that seems appropriate to tell at this point in our examination. It was the late 90’s, I was 15 years old, approaching 16, and needed to log some forgotten number of hours driving with an adult to qualify for a driver’s license. My father, being a generous man came to me one afternoon and said “drive me to the liquor store, and I’ll sign off on an hour.” You must understand, this was a 10-minute trip, so his offer of getting a full hour signed off on was a sweet deal, and of course I agreed. So we got into the car, drove to the store, and while in line he gestured at the cooler next to the register filled with single loose cans of Natty Boh “why don’t you get one for yourself”, feeling like a total badass I said “ok!” and handed one to him to purchase for my own. While on the brief drive home, windows down, summer sun shining, he handed me my single beer while rifling through his own bag of freshly acquired brews and said “here ya go.” I was floored, I had made it, I was all grown up! I could do whatever I wanted! I cracked it open, took a sip and ::SLAP:: beer gone, dad now has it, and is saying “pull over.” I did, confused, as he informed me “you were just drinking and driving dumbass.” I drove home thinking it was a dirty trick, but it worked to enforce the notion that just because someone says to do something doesn’t make it a good idea…this magic moment was brought to you by Natty Boh.

This is the Boh can I recall from my misspent youth.
This is the Boh can I recall from my misspent youth.

Boh comes in bottles, cans, tallboys, 40’s, and draught, and will consistently, without fail, give you a hangover that will make you wish for death if overly consumed. It will also give you the absolute rankest farts this side of rotten eggs. With a flavor ranging from corn when ice-cold, to yeasty when less than ice cold, one thing that can’t be said about this lager is that its lacking in flavor. It’s unique (although Trader Joe’s “Simpler Times” Lager tastes very close), and not without charm, but there’s better cheap beer options. I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I might have one here or there, but after however many gallons consumed over the years, the affair is over and it’s no longer a staple in my fridge but rather a throw back enjoyed with friends before moving on to some other drink.

Tastes alarmingly similar to Boh.
Tastes alarmingly similar to Boh.

At this point if you’re still with me, you’ve got to be wondering, where does the whiskey come in to play here? Well, I was recently privy to sample some home distilled National Bohemian whiskey (which is totally illegal and I do not officially condone in any capacity as the proprietor of www.biscuitswhiskeyandbeer.com). What’s that? Liquor made from triple distilled Natty Boh, oak aged for mellowing and flavor? That doesn’t even make sense! You’re right, it doesn’t, and that’s why I get such a huge kick out of the secretive TBM Distiller’s Boh-Shine. It’s technically a whiskey based on the ingredients used to make the beer from which it is distilled….don’t argue this, I looked it up. Coming in at 45-50% ABV (I’ve been told the bottling is less than an exact science…TBM being bootleggers and all), if you take a whiff out of the bottle, there’s a slight familiar smell, with oaky-char overtones. This is a loud, brash shine. It’s got a very slight beer taste, but is surprisingly sweet, mostly oak in flavor (must’ve been a heavy char on the barrel), and while stiff, not un-enjoyable for sipping over ice. For a novelty item of dubious legality, this was a fun one. I’m sure it took a TON of crappy beer to make one little bottle of this stuff, but I think it’s better that way, a true labor of love, and a gesture towards an old familiar friend, Mr. Boh.

The best parts of Boh, with all the worst parts distilled out and bottled at 45-50% ABV? Sign me up!
The best parts of Boh, with all the worst parts distilled out and bottled at 45-50% ABV? Sign me up!

Here’s to you Mr. Boh, we’ll meet again…and again, and again.

Your host,

Charlie Mewshaw

Adventure Biscuits

I recently spent a couple of nights out in the wild, wonderful wilderness of West Virginia, and let me tell you, it made some distinct impressions. First off, when you get really out there in the mountains and your phone displays “no service” for probably the first time ever, you start to feel a little like Matt Damon in The Martian. Not the parts where he’s working to survive, like the first parts, where he’s still all “well this sucks.”

Well shit...at least it looks nice here.
Well shit…at least it looks nice here.

Once that subsides, and you figure out how to get your bearings, things calm down until you have to stop at the only gas station you’ve seen for an hour of driving. It’s immediately evident that you are less Matt Damon in The Martian, and more Luke Skywalker in the Cantina scene from A New Hope. The people…they stare…hard. All you can do is smile back, be friendly, and hope to not get captured while eyeing the nearest escape points.

Man, I just want to get some blue milk, and get the hell out of here.
Man, I just want to get some blue milk, and get the hell out of here.

Truth be told, everyone I talked to was totally cool once they got done sizing me up and decided I weren’t no revenue man comin’ fer the shine proceeds. The main take away from that particular stop was that people in rural West Virginia (as opposed to more developed areas, like say Morgantown) don’t believe in sugar free ANYTHING. They’ve got energy drinks you’ve never heard of, in sizes that would stop a horse’s heart…but no sugar free anything.  It’s weird. Also, lip sores in full blossom were on display in these parts, and the cashier definitely licked her thumb to count out change. So that happened, and so did a frantic hand sanitizer bath once back to the vehicle.

Once the site was reached (I drove through a river!), and camp was made, I partook in a practice only previously seen on adventure/survival reality shows. I drank charcoal water…yum. You see, I was getting over a legit, “sick from both ends” bug, and although the worst had passed the day prior, lingering queasiness was impeding my spirits from rising. Observing this, White Stag Trading Company’s very own Mike (http://www.whitestagtrading.com/), and partner in crime-for-life Kevin debated the amount to prepare, but agreed that I should drink the slurry. So we burnt a stick, scraped off the charcoal bits, and down the hatch it went. It didn’t taste like anything, and had a sandy texture, it was actually unremarkable in every sense, but it got my gut right and left my teeth black…already I was assimilating to mountain ways.

Stir it up...just like Ovaltine.
Stir it up…just like Ovaltine.

 

Not so bad looking, right?
Not so bad looking, right?

Kevin had brought some Bisquick, and stated his intentions to make some biscuits using the recipe from the box on day two of the trip (add milk, cook). This task would require a spoon/spatula, and since none were available, he impressively fashioned one from some wood.

Spoon!
Spoon!
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It didn’t make itself…

Once the giant dough ball was made, it was hit with a weeee bit of garlic salt,  broken up into biscuity shaped balls, and placed in a Dutch oven (go ahead and laugh, I am). The Dutch oven (still giggling?) had been used for some bacon earlier in the day, so a wee bit of flavor was meant to be included in this now highly anticipated batch of biscuits.

Dough ball.
Dough ball.

These things came out amazing. Maybe it was the fact that I had only eaten MRE’s at this point in the trip, but the kind of burnt crunchy outside, and hot bready inside was amazing. It was like a ball of that bread restaurants sometimes bring out, it even tasted buttery despite their being no butter (and the garlic salt was ever so subtly in the background). I am now a born-again believer in bisquick, and feel ashamed for having neglected it for so long in favor of the tube kind of grocery store biscuits.

Dutch oven, pirate flag, feet up. It's a good day to be alive.
Dutch oven, pirate flag, feet up. It’s a good day to be alive.

 

Biscuits workin.
Biscuits workin.
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Done.
The best snack I have ever had.
The best snack I have ever had.

Join me next time, when I return to civilization and continue discussing things of no consequence.

Your host,

Charlie Mewshaw

Steel String Brewery – Dad Fuel

Steel String is a small brewery located in Carrboro NC that makes adventurous, but grounded beers, and rotates their offerings with amazing regularity. They don’t distribute their beer in bottle or can, so it’s all draught, and only available within a small geographical range. Their staff is amazingly nice, and not in a weird cheesy way. One time after a few too many of their beers, I left a stack of records on the corner of their bar, and the next day I went back to behold that the bartender actually saved them for me! Another time, I was flying solo at their trivia night, killing time until a show later in the evening, and I got absorbed into the staff’s team sitting at the bar. Seriously, really awesome people making amazing beer. It’s always exciting to walk in, gaze upwards at the offerings of the day, and check the “coming soon” board because you know an old favorite might be coming back, or something unknown might be coming the pipe. They really do a great job of keeping it interesting, which is why I hate to say that Dad Fuel didn’t knock my socks off and won’t be a revisit for me.

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Steel String Growler with some good reads and instructions.
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Anticipation! 
Dad Fuel
Dad Fuel

Weighing in at 5.1%, and pouring from the growler with a golden color, I was looking forward to seeing what a Steel String Lager would be like. It was light, with mild, but present hop profile, kind of yeasty…reminds me of cheap beer, you know – Dad fuel. I get it, I really do, they wanted to do a version of an easy drinking, every day beer. Thing is, there’s a ton of those on the market for way less money. I love Steel String, and I’ll continue going and trying new things, but this wont be a staple of my visits like say their “Big Mon” and “Rubber Room” offerings…or this one mysterious dark one that I recall from two winters ago whose name escapes me, but it was so good that here I am still talking about it.

Feeling bad about saying anything less than “I loved it!” in the case of this amazing brewery, I made it a point as a postscript, to go in and try something else I hadn’t had before from Steel String before posting. They are as of this writing offering a really cool Coffee Saison that I thought was great…see? There’s something to suit all tastes at Steel String Brewery.

No head, almost citrus sour notes with big coffee flavor, its weird and wonderful.
No head, almost citrus sour notes with big coffee flavor, its weird and wonderful.

See you next time biscuiteers!

Your host,

Charlie Mewshaw

Provocation of my Ire

Dear Biscuiteers,

I must address a recent occurrence that has underscored some notions previously held quietly between my ears. I can’t stand snarky, know-it-all hipster types. Recently I traveled with a small group of three to a local watering hole known for its “hip” atmosphere, and fancy high-end cocktails and liquors. It’s the kind of place you take out of town guests for one drink before moving on with your evening (which is exactly what we were doing). I have visited it about half a dozen times, and had mixed experiences, but nothing like what has just transpired. I will not name this establishment, but instead describe the experience on this particular evening.

Upon entering and perusing their list, our party ordered at the bar. What other’s ordered on this tab is of no consequence, what is of consequence is that I ordered a single pour of Hudson Manhattan Rye on the rocks. The pour was lean, but it always is at this place when ordering anything other than a cocktail, so I took my tiny drink and sipped it for probably half an hour until we decided to be on our way. Prior to leaving, I excused myself to the gentlemen’s room. Upon emerging, I found that the Mrs had graciously picked up the bill, and we were on our way.

Once we had left the establishment and were well on our way home, I was asked if I knew I had been ordering such an expensive drink. I replied with “huh?” What occurred next highlighted the ineptitude of the staff member that was working solo that evening in an otherwise empty bar. He charged $26 for a lean pour of a very good, but not exceptionally rare whiskey.

This was some serious elitist hipster nonsense. You would think that for $26 I would be receiving his most cherished sacrament: the artisinally distilled tears of Lena Dunham, filtered through a finely waxed beard, poured over ice imported from Mt. Kilimanjaro (which cost the lives of dozens of indigenous peoples btw), and presented in a genuine prohibition era crystal high-ball glass.

I flew into a rage, demanding we go back, I was denied. Instead we tried to call, there was no answer of the telephone at this empty bar. A polite message outlining the current MSRP on a single pour of the product in question was sent discretely to the establishment’s management. There were no accusations, merely an inquiry as to whether the charge in question was in fact their list price. If so, ok cool – fool me once, but if not…wtf man. Management responded and confirmed that we had in fact been charged more than double what it should have been. It was further explained that the bottle was old, from an original distillation of the label, and that it was slightly higher than MSRP for the current bottlings of the brand. Ok, cool, expensive rare drink, but not double their asking price, vindication! An arrangement was had, and recompense made. This is why I will not name the establishment, however, this is where it takes a turn.

I was to pick up the object of restitution the following evening (a gift certificate, avoiding any weird credit card cancellations). After work I dropped in, approached the bar, and explained I was to be picking up an envelope. The jackass bartender rolls his eyes and says “oh you must be the rye people, you know that it’s a special bottle…” and I replied “yeah, I get that, but we were still overcharged” to which he said “well…yes and no.” This is where I almost lost it. Instead, I upped my volume, shifted in tone and replied “NO. The email we got confirmed that it was not priced correctly. Look it up. $26 is an ABSURD price for a single pour of that liquor. I’m not going to argue, please give me refund that is waiting for me in the office.”

This is where the sniveling, know-it-all, douchebag, looking like an extra from the set of Portlandia, put his hands up in the air like I was going to assault him, and his with voice escalating in pitch whimpered “ok ok ok”. Seriously, that guy can go to hell, now I feel like I’ve been insulted twice. I’m sure that he’ll describe me as the biggest prick in the world to his boss, but the truth is, his boss knows that what went down wasn’t right, and that they have a serious problem with a few of their bartenders being jerks (its actually a problem in their online reviews).

Anyone who starts a sentence with “aaaaactually” or “well…yes and no” deserves to get hit by a train. Say what you mean, be able to back it up, and if you do happen to disagree with someone and have facts on your side, assert yourself. Don’t be a snively ass-hat. Especially if you look like a clown. If you CAN’T back it up…then don’t say anything!

Next post won’t be as angry, and will extol the virtues of finding a balance. You don’t owe it to anyone to like everything and everyone, but chances are, if you take a minute to understand your fellow man, you’ll find some common ground. The same goes for biscuits, whiskey, and beer…dig a little, and you’ll find something you like.

Your host,

Charlie Mewshaw

Fiction Kitchen

Fiction Kitchen is an all-vegetarian restaurant in Raleigh, NC, offering a brunch that brings out dedicated followers who start lining up out front 40 minutes before opening. It’s a nice place, but certainly not formal. That being said, it is somewhat more upscale than what I would normally consider a spot for a biscuit, but the wife (who is vegetarian), and I were celebrating our anniversary on this particular weekend, so why not be a fancy lad on a fine Spring morning?

When we were circling the block to park, I took the crowd as a good sign, but was a little nervous that we might be left outside indefinitely once we finally got to the line. About 10 minutes before opening, the hostess came out and informed the uninitiated of the admission process, and assured us all not to fret. Obviously the staff at FK deal with these lines regularly, and have a system in place to make sure everyone has a smooth experience. It was really impressive. Once inside, I didn’t even bother to peruse the menu, I saw what I needed to see. Biscuits. Done.

They deceptively don't look that filling...but they are.
They deceptively don’t look that filling…but they are.

Dense, small, vegan biscuits containing a mock fried chicken vegan protein, and looking more like biscuit-bites than some of the monster biscuits you’ll find in the region were brought out very quickly. They’re about 1.5″ tall, and 1.5″ wide. Bigger than Chik-Fil-A’s chicken minis, but notably not “standard” biscuit size. They’re a little dry and sort of crumbly, which makes me think that their small size is a matter of necessity. This could be a result of whatever unique vegan ingredients used, but it prevents a disaster on your plate, and it works.

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I ate one plain with a fork and a knife not only for manner’s sake, but to pace myself because it was really good and I wanted to enjoy it and not just inhale the thing. The density of the biscuit was a good indicator of its substance, and although the plate looked a little lean, it was really all I needed. The mock chicken was good, nice and crispy on the outside, chewy but not rubbery, with the right amount of seasoning to give it a good fried chicken flavor. For my second one, I hit the biscuit itself with some blackberry jam, and the protein with some hot sauce. Hot damn, this is where it was at. I could eat a dozen of these little guys like this. All the same attributes as above but with the added dynamic of sweet, smoky, and hot made for a great biscuit.

I’m not really into the Sunday brunch scene. I find it cumbersome when I’m usually hung up on cramming in some work before the week begins, and I’m not a vegetarian, but for what it is, Fiction Kitchen’s brunch would be a do-again in my book on account of great staff, unique food, and the fact that the wife loves it.

Your host,

Charlie Mewshaw

George Dickle Barrel Select

This very special edition of BWB is brought to you from Georgia by way of Tennessee. I was introduced to George Dickel Barrel Select by dear friends Jesse, and his lady-friend/partner in excellence Amy. They toured the Dickel distillery, and thinking of me and my better half, procured as a wedding gift, a bottle of this magic potion autographed by the distiller. How awesome is that?! The process of selection for this high quality sour mash is something like this: aged 10-12 years in a small handful barrels selected as “ideal” by the master distiller, and coming out an amazing amber color like the fossil rocks in the original Jurassic Park. Bottled at 86 proof, it’s got a great nose, with an initial sweetness that doesn’t overpower, followed a great pepper finish. I think a single ice cube opens it up a bit, but it’s fantastic neat as well.

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The first time I had this treat was actually with Jesse from a bottle of his own, on an evening that ran quite late with discussions ranging from vintage country music, to contemporary punk bands, action figures and bobbleheads, and in to who knows what else. You know, real deep stuff. Seeing as how he was an amazing host that evening, shared his special bottle of top shelf, and later got me my own, I thought it only appropriate to bring the man in on this discussion. So in sharing the last of my own bottle with him on a fine Georgia evening, here’s a recap of his thoughts regarding a fantastic Tennessee whisky:

“It’s a real mellow sipper with a nice peppery finish that should always be present in a sour mash, makes the lips tingle. I don’t think I’d ever drink this any other way but neat. No ice, and certainly never with a mixer. It’s so good that it’s really easy to let it get away from you.”

-Jesse “J-Mo” Morgan, gentleman, scholar, drinker of fine things

So there you have it, a top shelf overview of a top shelf whisky. Thanks again J-Mo, you expanded my horizons on this one.

Your host,

Charlie Mewshaw

The Worst Beer Ever…and some ok ones.

BREWERS ALLEY

Brewer’s Alley was established in 1996 and is marketed as the first brewpub in Maryland’s Frederick County. On a chilly March afternoon, I decided to grab some friends and take a stroll through some of their beers. They don’t give the majority of their beers funky names as has been the trend for a while now in the beer scene, instead just telling you what kind of beer it is. At first I liked this, until it lulled me in to a false sense of security…

Brewer's Alley, purveyors of one great beer.
Brewer’s Alley, purveyors of one great beer.

IPA – 5.8% – Not a lot of head on the pour, pretty standard IPA hop profile, nothing too notable. In color it’s darker than a golden, and almost a little red. It’s ok, I’d do it again

IPA
IPA

Oatmeal Stout – 6.7% – This unfiltered stout came with no head, and had really big roasted malt flavors. Almost coffee and chocolate flavored, but not overly strong, it was deep deep brown to black, and I loved it. I would come back to this regularly.

This Oatmeal Stout was great.
This Oatmeal Stout was great.

Nut Brown Ale – 5.5% – Medium bodied and lighter in color than expected (but definitely still brown), crisp and session drinkable, its most notable attribute is that its not overly caramel flavored. It’s ok.

The fried pickles in the background were more interesting than this beer.
The fried pickles in the background were more interesting than this beer.

1634 Ale – 5.1% – THIS BEER IS AWFUL. Lulled into a false sense of security I wandered to the beer that had a fun name instead of sticking with their standard offerings. This weird, overly sweet, flat beer was so bad I had to pull my phone out and look up on the web wtf it was about. It’s based on a recipe from 1634, and uses ingredients that would have been available then…neat, but if I wanted weird experimental ancient molasses brews I’d call up one of those Ren-Fest types that makes sub-par basement mead and gone that way. It smells awful, it’s got a fennel/licorice flavor that overpowers every sip, it sucks, and I’m sad.

YOU CAN KISS MY @$$ IF YOU THINK THIS IS GOOD, GET THIS AWAY FROM ME.
YOU CAN KISS MY @$$ IF YOU THINK THIS IS GOOD, GET THIS AWAY FROM ME.

Monocacy Brewing Co. – HL rex – 3.8% – This was a guest brew spot on the Brewer’s Alley beer board, and that 1634 Ale was so bad I just let it sit and moved on. I’m not a cry baby so I didn’t ask for them to take it back, I made a poor choice, I’ll own it. I just used the experience as impetus for abandoning their side of the board, and moved into guest territory. Unfortunately, this light beer was akin to a Coors Light, and when you’re paying brewery prices…that’s not gonna fly. This place is dead to me, ITS ALL BEEN A RUSE! A RUUUUUUSE! THE JIG IS UP! I’M OUTTA HERE!

Why don't we just buy a Mr. Beer and call ourselves a brewery...GTFO with this weak sauce.
Why don’t we just buy a Mr. Beer and call ourselves a brewery…GTFO with this weak sauce.

Having pulled out of the tailspin that was those last two choices, our jolly band of reveler’s went to JoJo’s, also in Frederick MD and had a final round of their fine in-house IPA to wash the sorrows of leaving a damn near full pint of 1634 Ale away. I don’t think I’ll be buying their beers in the store anytime soon, but the food was good, some of the beers were alright (the oatmeal stout ruled), and the staff was nice, so I’d revisit the bar if someone wanted a drinking buddy.

In Defense of Ronald

This morning’s biscuit is one that should be familiar to millions. From beneath the golden arches, where consistency is the business model, breakfast biscuit lovers the world over stuck in a tight spot know they can rely on the McDonalds bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit. With the new “breakfast all day” menu at Mickey Dees, depending on your region, you can even get one at night (some regions are McMuffins only for the all day deal). The particular location for this biscuit is one of those recently remodeled within the last 5-10 year McDonald’s that kind of feel like a Starbucks. Let me be clear, when I say remodeled, I mean they tore the whole damn thing down, and put up a brand new burger spot….that looks like a Starbucks. Gone are the gaudy red/yellow seat cushions of yesteryear, and ephemera with cartoon characters everywhere. These newer structures are sleek, with digital signage, weird little fireplaces, and a clean “modern” feel. It’s weird, and I don’t really eat at McDonalds ever these days, but I still feel a little nostalgic for the way things were whenever I step into a “new” McDonalds.

McCafe. One day we'll all laugh at these, like those new Wendy's that look like night clubs.
McCafe. One day we’ll all laugh at these, like those new Wendy’s that look like night clubs.
Unlike this, which will live on, sparkly and golden in our memories forever.
Unlike this, which will live on, sparkly and golden in our memories forever.

Before we move on to the main topic at hand I should disclose that I, like many young Americans, once held a position of employment in Ray Kroc’s empire. I worked at a McDonalds in a Walmart as the guy who put the sandwiches together. It was a special circle of hell reserved for those with weird schedules. I could complain more, but really, they accommodated my high school sports practice schedule, I was only there for three months, and I gained a weird appreciation for how controlled and consistent the Ronald McDonald way of food production was. That being said…on to the bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit!

Look at that beauty!
Look at that beauty!

Coming in at 2″ tall by 3″ wide, it’s not the behemoth that some other places offer.

She doesn't look like much, but she's got it where it counts.
Wait…that’s not the same thing as the picture at all…
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It may not look like much, but its got it where it counts.

Well done, with some crispy bits but not burnt, and oddly even a little chewy, the McBiscuit has great structure, and holds together without feeling like a brick. This texture makes you feel like you’re eating something substantive, but a look at the dimensions and a reflection on the ingredients will make you think otherwise, like maybe there should be more…more biscuit, more bacon, more something (I suspect this has led patrons to double down on their selections more than once). The biscuit itself is not so much buttery as greasy, almost like a French fry. This isn’t to say that it’s bad, on the contrary, it is surprisingly good. The McDonalds biscuit represents the assembly line perfection of a traditionally “home-style” food. Add in a little bacon, a decent sized egg, and a slice of American cheese and you’ve got a classic.

From a financial standpoint, there are far more sensible purchases from the McValue menu that will net you more food for your buck. They know what they’ve got, and the Bacon, Egg, and Cheese is the Cadillac of the lineup, priced as such at $3 and change.

Eschew this list of savings and go big with the Bacon, Egg, & Cheese, you big spender you.
Eschew this list of savings and go big with the Bacon, Egg, & Cheese, you big spender you.

In their own way, the McDonald’s folks have managed to create a staple item that serves as biscuit 101 for kids, a nationally certified hangover helper for reckless youth, a quick breakfast for people on their way to work, and a symbol to rally around for the elderly (seriously, older people love hanging out at McDonalds in the AM). The McDonalds bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit is the ol’ faithful of the biscuit world. It might not be that exciting, but it is reliable, comfortable, and manages near perfection in its meeting of expectations. How many times you had a bad McBiscuit? My guess is at most once, but a more likely answer is never. Get off yer high horse you haters, and embrace the McBiscuit, it’s a viable option.

Until next time, when I unveil the worst beer I have ever had.

Your host,

Charlie Mewshaw

 

Better Budget Bourbon

GREEN VS BLACK EVAN WILLIAMS

Two years ago I walked into a bar and declared, “I’m going to learn to understand whiskey better!” I should pause and mention that my experiences with whiskey at this point in my life were Jameson, whatever manner of Scotch got served at weddings, and random shots of rail selections at questionable bars. Since then I’ve become no expert, but I do have a better grasp on what I like within the incredibly popular Bourbon branch of the whiskey family tree. Top shelf, I’m into Blanton’s, and I like the 10 year Bulleit a lot. I also enjoy Bulleit’s standard offering (which what started me on quest for understanding), and Buffalo Trace is pretty good as far as upper mid-level selections. Wild turkey isn’t bad, but Jim Beam is a better replacement in what I consider standard class, and then there are some guilty pleasure bottom tier guys like Rebel Yell (it comes with a free paracord bracelet…prizes and trinkets!).

One brand that I have yet to mention is Evan Williams. I really like Evan Williams for a lower-middle of the road choice. It’s good over ice, it has big flavors that cut through if used in cocktails, and it carries a low price tag. Thing is, there’s a few different kinds of Evan Williams, and before this writing I had only sampled the black label variety. Now, mind you, I had witnessed the green bottle variety used at bars and stocked alongside a white label “bottled in bond” variety (which for the sake of this discussion will be overlooked), but always picked up the black label when making my own selections. Well not today, not today. Today I grabbed a green label bottle AND a black label bottle, so that I may compare and contrast in the name of nonessential whiskey blogging. So let’s get to it.

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Right away you’ll note the ABV is different with black label coming in at 43%, and green at 40%. It’s also interesting to note that the wording on the labels is the same, with the lone exception being that the neck of the black variety says “Extra Aged”, while the green omits this designation. This type of vague description makes we wonder just how much “extra” actually is. Upon pouring some out side by side, it’s evident that the green variety is lighter in color, which would make sense since its aged less than the black. It also has less of the oaky smell that the black variety has, which again, makes sense (the black label variety also burns the nose a bit, while the green does not). Sipping black label you get corn and oak flavors, a little vanilla and caramel, with an itty-bitty rye aftertaste and not subtle, but not overwhelming bite, basically it’s a strong, no-frills bourbon. The green label on the other hand is like its little brother. Milder up front, almost sweet, with undercurrents of what it may have been if left in the barrel a while longer (its got a little oak flavor, not overpowering in any way), and minimal if any bite. Now, not being privy to the differences in mash bill between the two (if any), I’d be so bold as to say that the recipe is probably about the same, with the main difference being age. I’m aware that I could probably look up the mash bills, but aren’t some things better left to mystery?

Black
Black
Green
Green

So where then are we left? What to make of the green label? Well, you probably know someone somewhere who makes questionable whiskey decisions – like drinking all manner of weird “flavored” whiskey varieties (honey, cinnamon, mint? blah blah blah). Tell them to stop it, and jump on board the bourbon with training wheels, Evan Williams green label. It’s not bad, and it’s a great mild introductory point to the world of bourbons at a low price point (it’s a buck less than black label at my store, which is already a stellar deal). On top of all that, your questionable friend will no longer appear to have the drinking disposition of a college freshman. Me, I’ll be sticking with the black label.

I’ll be back on Wed. to spin a yarn about a biscuit familiar to millions.

Your host,

Charlie Mewshaw

St. Patrick’s Day 2016 – Guinness Nitro…IPA?

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What fresh hell is this?! Guinness, simultaneous purveyors of great stout, and renowned keepers of world records, have chosen to dabble in not one but two new angles of departure from the expected on this beer offering. The nitro thing has been cruising along, gaining momentum in recent years, and I can see why. Nitro beers are exactly as the ad-men say, smooth, somehow creamy in texture (not in a gross way), and they come with a great sense of novelty because you know, it’s different. Addressing the other curveball (for Guinness), it goes without saying that IPA-mania, while still going strong, has likely already reached its zenith. We’re now seeing small breweries becoming more adventurous, and offering up more than just hop-forward choices that taste the way weed smells, so the introduction of another IPA to the market now is odd. The lingering thought I still can’t wrap my head around is the “why” on this product. I mean, maybe if they were looking to diversify their beer portfolio beyond what’s already there, Guinness could have created a sub-label or something, but no, this is GUINNESS Nitro IPA. Premium brand, unexpected variety. I would like to have been in the room for that pitch. I imagine a dozen Irish folks dressed like characters from Boardwalk Empire yelling at each other, because in my mind, that’s the way the things would be done at the ol’ Guinness factory. Old timey fancy clothes, thick accents, and yelling, lots of yelling. Kind of like human-adult sized leprechauns.

Inspection of the sixer reveals instructions for the user, really goofy instructions to pour at a 45 degree angle. If you need to be told not to dump your beer into a glass at a 90 degree angle, you should probably go somewhere else, because truly, there is nothing here for you. Go, now….

How to pour a beer, because we're all idiots apparently.
How to pour a beer, because we’re all idiots apparently.

Ok, now that we’ve rid ourselves of that guy, lets open a can. Upon opening one up, you’ll hear the little widget starting kicking out its precious nitrogen to give the beer its “creamy” texture. While pouring your beer within the limits of the aforementioned guidelines you’ll notice it does a really cool settling thing (just like it was draught!) I know this isn’t anything new, and widget cans have been around a long time, but I still think they’re neat. Need a quick explanation of how they work? Here’s a diagram I stole:

Secret tip: the air ball is filled with leprechaun farts. Leprechauns fart nitrogen.
Secret tip: the air ball is filled with leprechaun farts. Leprechauns fart nitrogen.

The important part is not the packaging, marketing, or any of that, but really whether or not this beer is worth drinking. So I cautiously raised my glass, took in a mild hoppy aroma and took a swig. Through the thick Guinness-esque head came EXACTLY what was marketed, a smooth nitro IPA. This may be one of the few times a product has been spot on perfect to its marketing description, and you know what, it’s a good beer! It’s not scorchingly hopped, but the IPA flavor is definitely there, almost citrus and floral like with a dry finish. It’s not particularly heavy, so it doesn’t leave you feeling like you can’t have a few. The nitro element is definitely at the forefront of the experience, with the expected creamy smoothness. The only real drawback is that for a few bucks more than the price ($9 a six pack), I can get plenty of mixed twelve pack options and explore a bit more.

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Look ma! Just like on TV!
Look ma! Just like on TV!

If I had to guess, I would say this is likely a limited time release. I doubt that the Guinness Nitro IPA will be around a few years from now, and I doubt I’ll revisit it more than once or twice due to the cost (there’s really just better values out there), but I have to admit that at the end of this beer, I’m going for another.

Join me Friday when I discuss my favorite cheap bourbon!

Your host,

Charlie Mewshaw