Tag Archives: coffee

New Brew: New Holland el Mole Ocho

10 Jun

A little spice can go a long way.  True in life, especially true in food, and occasionally true in beer.  When I saw New Holland Brewing’s el Mole Ocho at Barriques Fitchburg on a recent beer run before an epic camping and disc golfing (don’t call it frolfing) weekend, my inner spice fiend’s interest was certainly piqued.  A beer inspired by mole, the famous Mexican sauce often containing dried chiles, cocoa and/or coffee?  Count me in.  With Furthermore Oscura now constituting roughly 36% of my total liquid intake until I can’t find it on shelves anymore, a coffee-infused, Mexican-inspired beer couldn’t sound more delicious.  Unless you added cocoa and hot chiles, of course.

New Holland el Mole Ocho

Style: Spiced Strong Ale

Vitals: 8.0% abv; 22 degrees plato; brewed with cocoa, dried chiles and coffee; ~$6.99/22oz bomber at Barriques Fitchburg

Company Line: “Our exploration into the flavors of mole, the legendary sauce of central Mexico. Malty aroma and rich, cocoa-laden body laced with an invigorating tinge of dried chilies and coffee.”

My take: pours a dark mahogany/garnet in the glass under a finger of khaki-colored foam.  Nose oozes toffee, caramel sauce, vanilla and old coffee.  Palate is sticky-sweet with caramel malts, citrus, milk chocolate and the faintest chile heat in the finish.  Body is dense and slick, leaving the lips sticky with repeating sipping.  Like many spiced beers, this one is just a little too cautious with it’s theme ingredients.  I was hoping for more contribution from the cocoa, coffee and chiles in what could have been a seriously aromatic and complex beer.  Instead, I got what amounted to a a sticky doppelbock (Capital Autumnal Fire comes to mind) with a mildly spicy finish.  Don’t get me wrong, el Mole Ocho is a pleasant drink –  it just falls short of the the exciting potential of its culinary inspiration.


New Brew: Hinterland Luna Coffee Stout

10 May

A welcome trend in the past year or so has been a steady stream of new beer from the Northwoods making its way in draft and bottled form into Southern Wisconsin.  From O’so to Red Eye to Bull Falls, enterprising Up Nort’ brewers are packaging their wares for the discriminating palates of we city-folk to their South.  While Green Bay Brewing Company’s Hinterland label has been available in bottles for several years now (albeit, just their Pale Ale which was apparently contract-brewed and bottled at Gray’s in Janesville), they have recently expanded their production (and added their own bottling line) to their much-praised Luna Coffee Stout, and in a new 16 ounce form factor, no less.  The Old Fashioned here in Madison has been instrumental in getting NorWis beer in the hands of eager Madisonians.  Here’s to the continued exodus of tasty suds from our Northern bretherin.

Hinterland Luna Coffee Stout

Style: Coffee

Vitals: Very little documented.  Made with coffee from the Fox Valley/Door County’s own Luna Cafe.

Company line: “Opaque, black, coffee-like character. Very creamy, extremely clean and refreshing. -hinterlandbeer.com”

My take: Stoutly in appearance with ample  crema-toned head that fades quickly.  Smells like a cup of strong day-old coffee with a hint of vanilla and a whiff of brisk hops.  Smooth coffee rules the palate as well, contributing to the French-roasted malt and hoppy bitterness. A noticeable metallic edge detracts somewhat.  Body is on the thin side, lending drinkability.  Not nearly as bold and full as Central Waters’ Brewhouse Coffee Stout, but its smoothness and ample sessionability keep it worthy in the eyes of this coffee-drinking beer-lover/beer-drinking coffee-lover.

Drinkos to Try-o: Reserva de Don Ramon Reposado and Furthermore Oscura

6 May

No time like 11:11 PM to finally celebrate the fifth day of May in style with the national distillate of our friends to the south and a delicious beer from Wisconsin with a Latin twist.  My roommate was game enough to share in the shooting of some fine, fine reposado that my mom muled over the border on her last trip.  The Reserva de Don Ramon Reposado is silky smooth, slightly peppery, with hints of oak and vanilla.  A fine sipping tequila – coming from someone who doesn’t really sip tequila, so take that as real talk.  Also great with a little bite of key lime.

On the fermented-but-not-distilled tip, Furthermore Oscura has come to be one of those beers, if not the beer that ear-worms itself a-la three cup chicken into my consciousness.  Where 99% of coffee-infused beers end up being thick, roasty malt bombs like imperial stouts and porters, Oscura sits on a base of warm-fermented, cold-lagered steam (I mean California Common) beer and is imbued with the goodness of Just Coffeeroasted beans from an all-lady coffee co-op in Nicaragua.  Iced coffee in beer form.  Appropriate for any time of day (I’ve tested this extensively).  Finally, a coffee beer that doesn’t put a brick in your stomach.  Crave-worthy.  An obsession.  A healthy one, of course.  Salud!

It’s so watery – and yet there’s a smack of ham to it – Baked Ham with Coffee and Brown Sugar Glaze

8 Mar

Somewhere between Christmas and Easter, I found myself with a second-hand ham taking up half of my freezer.  Sometimes a lazy Sunday is reason enough to cook 11 pounds of meat and watch some basketball (always a pleasure seeing Bruce Weber stymied by Bo and the boys).  Oh and the Oscars (The Dude wins!).  I guess today was a holiday after all.

A quick scanning of my modest cookbook library yielded an interest-piquing recipe from my Dean & DeLuca Cookbook for a poached/baked ham with a coffee and brown sugar glaze.  The severe lack of coffee and coffee-related food items in my life right now made this one a no-brainer.  Coffee and pork – together at last.

Baked Ham with Coffee and Brown Sugar Glaze

(courtesy of The Dean & DeLuca Cookbook)

Though it does sound a little unusual, the glaze in the recipe lends a lovely color and flavor to the exterior of the ham; after all, ham with red-eye gravy (made with coffee) is a Southern classic. And there’s another creative element in this dish: though this is baked ham, it spends most of its cooking time poaching in water on top of the stove. This keeps the ham very moist (it heats to the center more quickly than in a dry oven). Additionally, the water method draws out the salt in the ham, rather than concentrating it. Just make sure that you keep the water below the boiling point—say, 180° to 190°F. Also make sure, of course, that the ham you choose is the best ham you can find. Serves at least 20

Ingredient rundown:

  • 12 to 14-pound smoked, ready-to-eat Ham
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup strong black brewed coffee (some potently French-pressed Alterra Love Supreme worked quite nicely)
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • (I added a teaspoon or so of molasses to the glaze as well.  You know I’m never satisfied following a recipe to the letter)

I ended up making a half recipe so I cut my 11-12 lb ham in half and halved the measurements for all of the glaze fixins.

How I did it:

  1. Place ham in a very large pot and fill with water until it covers ham. Cook over high heat on top of stove until water begins to boil. Reduce heat to low, and let ham poach for 1 1/2 hours.
  2. While the ham is cooking, prepare the glaze: Combine the brown sugar, vinegar, mustard, and black coffee in a bowl, and stir with a fork until the sugar is dissolved. Add the breadcrumbs and blend. (The glaze will become pasty.)
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  4. Remove the ham from the pot of water and place in a large baking pan. Carve away the excess fat, and some of the rind. Spread the glaze evenly over the ham. Reduce the oven heat to 375 degrees and bake the ham for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the crust is hot and dark brown. Allow the ham to cool for at least 15 minutes before carving.

My housemate was kind enough to put together some Hooks 3-Year Cheddar risotto (which can be made in much the same manner as my Mushroom risotto, only with the red wine swapped for white and a cup or so of grated cheddar instead of, or in addition to, the parmesan at the end)  that paired pretty damn well with the ham.  The glaze provided a nice hit of sweet/roasty/malty depth of flavor that was a welcome change of pace from your standard pineapple and clove accoutrement.  Now how long is it going to take for me to eat 10ish pounds of baked ham?  I have some ideas, don’t worry.

Hot Ham Water. Better thirst-quencher or BEST thirst-quencher?

Coffee. Black: Alterra Love Supreme

11 Feb

Love is a warm French press

Yep, I’m still drinking coffee.  Plenty of it.  The fine folks at Alterra have a new limited release special blend for all you love birds out there.  A sweet melange of some of my favorite African origin coffees with a splash of Indonesian, Love Supreme has me smitten like a kitten in mittens.

This stuff is silky smooth with just enough of that wine-like acidity that I love from the Kenya AA balanced by the chocolatey and nutty undertones of Ethiopia Harar and wrapped in a ribbon of spicy clove from the Sulawesi Toraja. This stuff makes a rich, deep cup and won’t be around for long.  Hit up Alterra’s website or stop by your neighborhood Barriques and pick up a pound before that oh-so-special/oh-so-forgettable day passes and we’re left checking off the calendar until Sweetest Day.

Hold the soy: Alterra Kenya AA Nyeri

6 Oct

Alterra KenyaWhile interviewing for a job at *drumroll* Barriques last week, I was treated to a cup of Alterra Kenya AA Nyeri while I waited.  Now I usually am attracted to darker roasts with lower acidity, which tend to work well in espresso drinks.  I don’t own a drip coffee maker (nor do I really plan to), so I don’t drink a lot of brewed coffee unless I’m using my French press.  I must say that this simple cup of black coffee blew my mind.  Never before have I experienced such a range of flavors and mouthfeel in a single bean.  The muddy roasted flavors that I have grown accustomed to were replaced with bright, wine-like acidity and spicy hot apple cider notes that nip at the back of the tongue.


When I saw the beans for sale at Sentry Hilldale this weekend, I jumped at the opportunity to put them to use at home. These characteristics are undoubtedly muted when paired with steamed milk and microfoam in a cappuccino, but the brightness still manages to break through in the end and makes for unique experience.  Who knew that in a 24 hours I would have my conception of coffee turned upside down and get the good news of an opportunity to get my food service feet wet.  I clearly have much to learn and I can’t wait to be humbled by the new worlds that lie in front of me.

Hold the soy: Alterra Delta Mud

29 Sep
If I squint real hard I think I can see Vincent Van Gogh wearing thick-rimmed glasses.  There's no booze in there, I swear.

If I squint real hard I think I can see Vincent Van Gogh wearing thick-rimmed glasses. There's no booze in there, I swear.

I apologize for my lack of…brand diversity in my Hold the soy series, but it’s hard when any blind stumble will likely land me across the street at Barriques. At this point I might as well just try every Alterra bean Barriques Fitchburg offers.  Slowly conquering the world – one half-pound bag at a time.


Delta Mud, as it’s name would imply, is a darker full city to Italian roastslightly oily yet not quite black.  These beans produce a rich shot with a robust charred bitterness rounded by sweet cocoa notes that fool the palate into thinking you’re drinking a mocha instead of a cappuccino.  Acidity is definitely on the low side which leads to a smooth, easy drink with a lingering roasty aftertaste.  The overall impression is certainly muddy, but think more Mississippi mud  pie than 3am Denny’s.  A great bean for espresso drinks.

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