Sunday, July 15, 2012

Beer and Cupcake Tasting @ Slowbeer

Yes, this is a beer and cupcake tasting! As soon as I saw this event coming up I automatically put my name down and engaged my sweet tooth. On the night I found a little shelf in the packed store to make my own and watched as the first beer was poured, and was surreally excited to see the stands of Mister Nice Guy cupcakes sitting next to them. Sure, I have added a chocolate beer to a cake before, and beers with desserts are not a new thing, but for some reason, seeing this scene made me feel a little uncertain of what to expect, but that in itself shows the interesting and open thinking that can be had with beer.

So, with that thought running through my head, and the sound of Chris welcoming us in my ears, we came to the first combination.

Thorogood's Billy B's Golden Apple Beer uses a spontaneous fermentation process and malt extract in what is really a cider. While the extract does allow it to be classified as a beer, it also gives it a fuller mouthfeel/higher gravity than a usual cider. The spontaneous ferment of course brings with it a tartness to the apple flavour, and also get a pretty tingly spritz over the tongue, that comes off just a bit sherberty to remind me a little of a Faro style beer. Still, it cleans up ok at the back, so the tartness does not linger. The Apple Pie cupcake has a very sweet vanilla frosting, and the apple filling in the cinnamon smelling cake is sweeter than the apple flavour in the beer. Therefore, there is a good contrast between the cupcake and beer.

I actually hadn't had the Emersons Taieri George spicy ale before, and had me thinking Christmas ale with its cloudy dark brown body, cinnamon and nutmeg aroma. The nutmeg came across into flavour, along with a brown sugar or dark malt character, but is not dark or dense enough to make it into a Christmas ale style I think. In terms of texture, was sensing some over carbonation which also seemed to give it a bit of an alkaline smell. The Breakfast Club cupcake is cinnamon cake and frosting with raisins, but unfortunately came off a bit bland next to the cake. There is a nice creaminess to the cupcake, but the over-carbonation of the beer knocked this out a bit too much. I was also getting a hit of nutmeg as I swallowed the cupcake, which while matched the nutmeg in the beer, just found it a bit too dominate.

Now, for the pointy end that had me the most excited when I looked at getting into this event, especially when two of my favourite beers are coming at me.

The Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout is a beer I tried over a year ago, and have tasted a couple of times since. I basically just wrote 'Yep!' as a note to show it still has those qualities I loved the first time I sipped it. The Rocket Shot cupcake for me had a lot of mocha character which was great to get, but as soon as the beer hit your tongue after the cake, the flavour and alcohol just wiped your palate of any cake. Leaving some cake in my mouth to mingle with the beer worked to make the beer feel fuller and some of the chocolate of the cake did hold with the beer, but don't think it was enough to make it an equal contributing combination. Still, loved the process of finding this out.

Seeing I had just had that experience with an 11% beer, knew it would be even harder for the Berry Boom cupcake to bring much when paired with the 18% Brew Dog Tokyo. Having had the Tokyo on tap the previous week, was happy to see it was also on tap here. Seeing it hadn't been cellared for a year like the one I had at Beer Deluxe, I was still getting a 'porty' character while it was cold, but some of that sherry quality was coming through as it warmed up. The chocolate cupcake stuffed with blueberries again had the very sweet vanilla frosting from the Apple Pie cupcake. It was funny to find that the frosting actually absorbed the beer better than the cake, with the sweetness holding off the alcohol flavour a bit (just a bit). Having just a small sip of beer with a mouthful of cupcake really darkened up the blueberry in the cake to help it mix with the dark fruit character in the beer. The only problem with this approach to blending the two meant you were left with a lot of beer left after finishing the cake, which meant sitting around afterwards to chat to some of the people while you finished it. Was good to chat to a couple that were getting converted into beer from wine, and that he had been home brewing to keep exploring beer. Still, was so tired after all that was glad it was only a 10 minute walk home with the wintery night air to keep me awake til I could crash into bed.

Another great approach to beer tasting shown by Slowbeer that seemed to bring different people to what I would normally see at a Slowbeer tasting. Maybe I should be giving others a chance to try it out by not going myself...nah! Thanks to Chris, the Slowbeer team and Mister Nice Guy Cupcakes.



PS: Nearly wasn't going to bring up this crude thought, but seeing I accidently got some frosting on my jeans from the Apple Pie cupcake, I can say I literally creamed my pants with the first tasting combination of the night.

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