Enjoy By 12.21.12 At Plan B Burger Bar Springfield

Enjoy By 12.21.12 at Plan B Burger Bar

When I saw Jeff was tapping the latest of Stone’s series of devastatingly fresh double IPA‘s, I rounded up the Jay and Richard and made our way out there before I missed my chance. Why head all the way to Springfield for a Stone beer you ask? Well let’s face it, the Capital Region isn’t even a blip on the radar for Stone Brewing Company. We get screwed out of just about every single special release, collaboration, and well anything that doesn’t get nationwide distribution. Even something like the Vertical Epic 12.12.12 won’t see our shelves until some time in January, or about a month too late for anyone trying to do a VE tasting. All this while I can find Lukcy Basartd sitting on shelves in gas station in Waterbury. It’s frustrating to say the least. Thankfully, Springfield isn’t really that far away, and the beer was still flowing by the time we got there.

Plan B Burger Bar

Devastatingly fresh was an understatement. Not just the taste of the beer, but also for the way Stone approached this IPA. Too often their D/IPAs are the equivalent of a pine cone raping the back of your throat. Not gently, either. I’m talking about you, Ruination 10th Anniversary. Stone is not known for “balance” in their beer, and this was probably the most balanced of their beers I’ve had in a long time (well, other than those that have sat in someone’s cellar for 5+ years that is). The hops are right there, front and center, with a little orange peel and citrus but they played nicely with the caramel malt notes. This is the first beer from Stone I’ve enjoyed in a while. I still have a bottle of this left (thanks Jon) that I plan on opening up with Fourteen Stone wherever we end up with the End of the World.

Enjoy By 12.21.12 at Plan B Burger Bar

I could have done without the pimp chalice Plan B served our beers in.

Of course there was no way we were going to drive an hour and a half away just for a single beer. I mean, we were at a “burger bar” for god’s sake. Of course we were going to get some chow and explore the rest of the tap list while we were there, too.  Given that I was driving, I only had one other beer during the night. The Sierra Nevada Narwhal had just kicked, so the waitress brought over some Pro-Am Porter from Wormtown Brewery instead. This was a little on the sweet side for me but I thought it was absolutely fantastic. A great surprise for sure.

Blue Chips at Plan B Burger Bar

Blue Chips at Plan B Burger Bar

We followed up our second round of beers with a couple of appetizers before hitting the main course: wings (way too mild for my tastes) and some really killer bleu-cheese covered potato chips. The bleu cheese was very rich but when stacked up with the house made chips, tomatoes, bacon, red onion and jalaps it was amazing. Definitely get this with a few friends to share. I followed up the Blue Chips with a Blue Cheese Burger, which, in retrospect was probably too much blue cheese for one meal. Two things: as I said with the Blue Chips, the blue cheese was no joke and (unfortunately) really dominated the burger. You didn’t get much from the caramelized onion and BBQ sauce, nor the bacon I had added. It was all blue cheese. The other problem that I have, and I think this is a chain restaurant thing, which I did not realize Plan B was going into it, is that they really, really don’t like cooking burgers below medium. When the server took our order our options were “some pink” and “no pink”. Me? I like to chase my burger around my plate a bit before killing it, so even with “some pink” it was barely pink, let alone red and juicy the way I like it. Just something to think about before heading that way.

Blue Cheese Burger at Plan B Burger Bar

Blue Cheese Burger at Plan B Burger Bar

Just another little thing to add about Plan B: they have some pretty cool lighting through the whole place which really sets up the ambiance nicely. From the retro lights above the bar:

The Bar at Plan B Burger Bar

To the “EAT MEAT” neon sign I NEED to have in my kitchen:
Eat Meat Neon Sign at Plan B Burger Bar

Eat Meat Neon Sign at Plan B Burger Bar

And then there’s the cool lights with exposed wiring you can see below the sign which separate the bar area and the dining area.

Overall I liked Plan B. I don’t see it as a destination place, but for those of you who live by it’s definitely worth the trip, especially on a night when they have a special beer release. I don’t see myself going out of my way to head to Plan B unless there’s something going on like this 12.21.12 release as there’s still a lot I haven’t covered in MA yet (hello Moan and Dove??) but the tap list, extensive bourbon list, and menu should still be enough to keep an out of towner entertained.

Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout

Samuel Smith's Organic Chocolate Stout

Served at room temperature in an Ommegang glass. Take the thick mouthfeel of Choklat and cut it down by one third, add the creaminess of a milk stout, toss in a few extra tablespoons of sugar per bottle and you’re about on track for what this beer is like. It’s lower ABV too, which means it’s a lot more drinkable than Choklat, not that that was ever an issue, but man is it sweet sweet SWEET! Definitely an after dinner/dessert/chick beer to say the least. Should be labeled a chocolate milk flavored malt beverage, honestly. I probably wouldn’t pick this one again (I didn’t, actually. Stole this one from Elise, haha) but it’s worth the try. Once.

Team Buffalo Gang Bang Beer It Forward #2

After a stop at Premiere and night of hopping with Merc between MacGregors’, Blue Monk, Cole’s, Mr. Goodbar and an obvious late night snack at ETS, it was time to get some real drinking done.

For those of you who don’t know, a rather large or “Gang Bang” Beer It Forward was set up on BeerAdvocate that transpired between the months of June and July. 5-8 man teams, 400-500 oz requirement, plus swag, glassware and whatever other extras you felt like throwing in. Team Cleveland sent to us, we sent to another team, that team sent to team #4 etc etc. I threw in some Lawson’s, Rock Art (blech) and naturally Heady Topper, with a damn fine looking Lawson’s Tulip to boot.

Team Cleveland grossly ignored the 500 oz limit (I wasn’t complaining) by sending us close to 800 oz’s including all of the bottles (one was a 3L), growlers, and a sixtel keg of Columbus IPA. Not to mention shirts and a couple of glasses for everyone, beef jerky and other dried meats, popcorn, chocolate and I’m sure a bunch of other stuff I’m forgetting. They killed it.

Drinking commenced around mid-afternoon and the party didn’t stop until midnight. A handful of bottles were still left, but that was on top of the extra’s that the rest of Team Buffalo included, including one very sexy growler of Apple Brandy Hunahpu, some Chocolate Rain and a handful of other treats.

It wouldn’t be a proper tasting without some Kan Jam, some grilling, and some keg stands (even though it was only a sixtel). That activity produced to of my favorite photo of the day. Timber!!!!

I took a TON more pictures throughout the day that will be dispersed throughout the rest of the week. Keep reading!

Edit: The beers and other shenanigans of the Gang Bang BIF #2 can be found here.

Pre-Dark Knight Rises Grub at Cask and Rasher

Not wanting to eat mall food, but still wanting to grab something to eat between our drive from Albany to The Dark Knight Rises at the IMAX theater at the Palisades Mall, The Cask and Rasher in Coxsackie was a natural choice. Some quick perogies, potato skins and sandwiches later, with a Crossroads Outrage IPA to wash it down and we were on our way. (No Satan Wing this time.)

DKR was fucking amazing, btw.

21st Amendment Brewery – Hell Or High Watermelon Wheat Beer

– This really isn’t my type of beer so I’m not gonna shit on it or anything. It’s a chick beer. That’s fine, chicks need beer too. Still, I had to try it once just to give it a shot. Lowish ABV makes it easy to drink, and on a hot as balls day I could see chugging the shit out of one of these because it’s refreshing as hell. Little bit watermelon Jolly Rancher-ish, bit overly sweet (for me) but again, that’s the style of this beer. Overall, it’s a somewhere between average and good camping or backyard BBQ kinda beer but that’s about it.

Early September Release for 2012 CCB Marshall Zhukov

From Cigar City Brewing’s Facebook page:

Next week we’re brewing a little guy we like to call MARSHAL ZHUKOV’S IMPERIAL STOUT. Unfortunately it’s not looking like it’ll be ready for release in August like we originally planned, but it will see an early September release. This is due to the transition to our new brewhouse, as it’s been a rough (but oh so fun) one. Don’t worry though, we’re brewing even more than we did last year so there should be plenty to go around!

I haven’t had any Zhukov since I did an IP trade for it a few days before Hunaphu Day last year (by far my favorite bottle release yet). Hopefully I can convince my brother to snag some and ship it up, or maybe Lueken’s Liquors will get another shipment. One way or another, I gotta have some!

Southern Tier Brewing Company Phin & Matt’s Beer Bread

I’ve had this mix from Brick Village Gourmet sitting around since we did the brewery tour at Southern Tier back in January and over the weekend I got bored and decided to bake this puppy up. Instructions are on the back, it’s pretty easy to follow.

I tried mixing this up in the KitchenAid but it’s really not that kind of dough. Just use a spatula, you’ll be better off. The instructions imply you can put the bread in just about pan you have around but I used a tradition buttered loaf pan.

Of course there’s no point in making beer bread without enjoying another New York brew while you’re waiting for it to bake in the oven.

About 30 minutes later you have something that comes out looking like this. Not too shabby huh?

The consistency was like a mix between that of regular bread and banana bread. Elise didn’t love it, but I didn’t mind. This slathered up with garlic butter made a pretty tasty treat.