How to not make a black and tan

May 1, 2009

Food Network’s Michael Chiarello apparently doesn’t know jack about beer.

I managed to see what just might be the most idiotic beer fail I’ve ever seen on TV. After getting home from a half-day of work, I flipped on the TV as I grabbed an early lunch. The TV had been on the Food Network, and I caught a guy (Michael Chiarello) illustrating how to make a black and tan in just about the most incorrect manner possible. For those looking to see this for themselves, here’s the show: Team Dinner.

I don’t have a video clip of the segment, but to the best of my recollection here’s what I saw:

Michael was explaining first how to pour a dark beer. I couldn’t make out what he was pouring, but it looked like a Samuel Smith of some kind by the clear bottle. He explained something about a dark beer being heavy and to pour it slowly, and did so into a clear plastic party cup until it was about half full.

Then Michael explained that the darker beer supports the lighter beer that will float on top of it. (At this point I’m saying, alout to myself, “you’ve got to be kidding”.) He takes a Corona in one hand, and with a spoon in the other explains that you have to pour the lager slowly over a spoon into the dark beer. He then proceeds to do so, and the camera quickly cuts away as the lager plummets directly into the dark beer and foams up.

We then see the finished product – a cup of dark beer – with Michael saying something like “and that’s how you make a black and tan”.

Now, I don’t have the audience that Food Network does (or maybe I do, who knows…) but let me try to fix this epic failure of a recipe.

First, Michael wasn’t completely off since in the UK a black and tan is frequently served as a stout with a draught ale or lager poured directly into it, leaving it well-mixed. But that negates the need for the spoon and flies in the face of his “light floats on dark” statement.

Now, traditionally in the US a Black & Tan (using a spoon to separate the beers) is made with a pale ale or lager (Bass, Smithwicks, Harp) and either a stout or porter (Guinness, Murphy’s, Taddy Porter). First add the pale ale or lager, then use a spoon to float the stout or porter on top. But you likely knew that already, didn’t you? 😉

I was quite surprised that no one caught this before the episode aired. It wasn’t live, from what I could tell. You would think that somewhere there’d be a camera worker, editor or production crew member who would speak up and either rectify or remove the blunder from the show. It kind of makes me wonder how many other incorrect recipes they air.

Frustration over funky bombers

April 28, 2009

I went to Cooper’s Cave Ale Company a couple of weeks ago and was quite pleased with their beer at the brewery tasting. So impressed, in fact, that I picked up a baker’s dozen of their bombers (one of each).

I’ve popped two so far (the ungodly delicious doppelbock and a Sagamore stout), and both have smelled and tasted of wet, moldy cardboard. Undrinkable.

I don’t think this has anything to do with the brewery, but I’m wondering what could have happened. They went from their refrigerated storeroom, to my trunk for a couple hours (it was in the mid-60s that day and the bottles were still quite cool when I got home), to my basement.

Obviously some oxidization occurred, but how? I’m now dreading opening the other 11 bottles. I’m not so much bummed about the cost as I am the loss of what had potential to be a very enjoyable set of craft brewed bombers.


If it wasn’t clear, I’m not denouncing the brewery. The beer I sampled was delicious! I’m just really disappointed that so far the first two of the bombers I bought were bad. I’m hoping thee track record improves with the rest of the baker’s dozen I bought. And yes, I wrote them to advise them of the situation.

A fresh take on ale?

March 12, 2009

While waiting at my kids’ dance studio this evening, I read through (pretty much cover to cover) my latest issue of BeerAdvocate Magazine (vol. 3 issue 2, for those keeping count). On the back inside cover is an advertisement for Budweiser American Ale. Most of the ad, as expected, was an image but the text caught my eye:

Carefully brewed with caramel-malted barley and Cascade hops for a full-bodied flavor and bright, hoppy finish. Now that’s a fresh take on ale.

It’s the last sentence that caught me. A fresh take on ale? Perhaps it’s a fresh take for Budweiser, but I see nothing fresh (as in new, trendy, bold) about using caramel (or Crystal) malt and Cascade hops; it’s a fairly ordinary recipe for ale.

I’m sure Budweiser’s marketing machine was simply going for a play on words, but the play for the audience of the very magazine they’re advertising in is flawed. At least it is in this beer nut’s opinion.

I haven’t tried American Ale, and to be honest I’m not running out to try it either. It’s not new to me, and doesn’t excite me, mainly because it comes from a macro brewer whose products I’ve learned to avoid. It might be good, or it might not. I’m not going to question its appeal. I’m just questioning its advertising.

If you’re going to ask me about beer, then ask me about beer

August 24, 2007

I just received a new eRewards notification inviting me to participate in a survey about beer. Since I brew my own and have sampled quite a wide variety from around the world, I popped right over to the survey.

At first I was asked the usual questions… birthdate, sex, blah blah blah. Then how many beers I have in an average week, followed by a question to determine if you have a commercially-biased opinion (do you work for a brewery, distributor, etc.).

Then I got to a page asking me to select the beer I usually drink in a given month. Here’s the list:

Amstel Light
Blue Moon
Bud Light
Bud Select
Busch Light
Coors Light
Coors Original/Banquet
Corona Light
Heineken Light
Keystone Ice
Keystone Light
Keystone Premium
Michelob Light
Michelob Ultra
Miller Genuine Draft/MGD
Miller High Life
Miller Lite
Milwaukee’s Best (Any)
Molson (Any)
Natural Ice
Natural Light
Old Milwaukee (Any)
Rock Green Light
Rolling Rock
Sam Adams Lite
Samuel Adams
Any other beer (specify)

So, being the good little beer-swilling goober that I am, I select “Any other beer (specify)” and I specify “Warsteiner, Dogfish Head, Ommegang, homebrew“.

The next screen is a short but sweet “thanks but you’re not a fit for this survey”.

Gee, if you wanted to ask my opinion about thin malted corn and rice, why’d you ask me about beer?

(OK, ok, there are a few kind-of-decent choices in the list, but still nothing I’d drink regularly.)