Thursday, November 29, 2012

What's on the Grill: Samuel Adams Boston Lager Cut

It goes without saying:

I love steak and I love beer.  

Bite of Steak

So, when I learned Samuel Adams teamed up with a meat purveyor to produce an original cut of beef, I saw stars.  Granted, stars with nice marbling and a healthy amount of char, but nonetheless, stars.

Now if you told me CoorsMiller teamed up with JTM to make an original burger, color me a little skeptical.  I smell a cheap publicity stunt.  

However, knowing Jim Koch's love of good beer and dedication to the movement, making a beer and meat pairing by actually having a hand in crafting the meat is a pretty neat proposition.

The Boston Lager Cut

The Samuel Adams Boston Lager Cut is a signature cut of beef developed by Jake Dickson, owner of Dickson's Farmstead Meats in New York and is available everywhere through the online meat purveyor, Robinson's Prime Reserve, out of Louisville, Kentucky.

The Cut runs at a 45 degree angle to the cap of the top sirloin muscle, yielding a tightly grained steak perfect for grilling and slicing. This carving method optimizes the Cut's cooking properties and flavor potential, enhancing the pairing capabilities.

I have to say, I agree.

I find it interesting that for as long as we have been butchering cattle, there are still relatively "new" ways of looking at, or interpreting, meat.  The Tri-tip and Flat Iron are two other prime (no pun intended) examples.

My treasured meat parcel showed up from Robinson's and resembled a portable refrigerator, minus the plug.  Nestled within the box and its styrofoam confines were two freezer packs.


Removing the frozen packs gave way to the box.

Robinson's Prime Reserve Box

 Then, there it was.  The mother lode.

The Gift Pack

Robinson's sells gift packs which include several cuts of meat, as well as Samuel Adams Boston Lager Pint Glasses.  For a proper tasting, proper glassware is an absolute must.

Samuel Adams Pint Glasses

I like just about anything wrapped in butcher paper and the presentation here, along with the butcher twine, was top notch.

Samuel Adams Boston Lager Cut

The cuts arrived frozen and vacuumed sealed.  They went through a relatively quick water bath defrost before I prepped them.

Samuel Adams consulting Chef David Burke recommends a light seasoning of only salt and pepper.  I couldn't agree more.  Although I love a healthy rub, I almost always adhere to my minimalist approach to steak seasoning.  Even though I use "a lot" of seasoning, it almost never includes more than three ingredients, or what I call, salt, pepper, and a third.  

Spice & Beef

For these cuts, I wanted the meat to shine through so I followed Chef Burke's recommendation: salt & pepper.

Rubbing the Steaks

With the grill prepped for direct high, I dropped the steaks on the grates.  I like my meat medium rare and because of the size of these steaks, it's a fast cook.  No more than 4 minutes a side.  

Boston Lager Cut on the Grill

With the steaks down, my pint glass was filled.

Samuel Adams Boston Lager

If you have not had the chance to drink from one of these glasses, you are missing out.  Yes, I like my dimpled pint mugs, my pilsners, and my tulips, but I love these.  They really are great beer drinking glasses.  They are made for your mouth.

With the steaks pulled from the grill at 130 F and allowed to rest for about 4-5 minutes, dinner was served.

Boston Lager Cut Dinner

The meat was incredible.  In terms of taste, I would put it somewhere between a strip and a flat iron.  The texture was closer to a strip, but the flavor more like a flat iron.  Seeing I like both cuts, the net result was all good.

Boston Lager Cut Medium Rare

The Boston Lager is a natural accompaniment to grilled meat.  Although I usually prefer a solid ale with beef, the unique characteristics of this hopped up lager work really well.  

So, would I order again?  Absolutely.  Yes.  

In fact, I had a website hiccup when ordering from Robinson's.  I sent an email, on the weekend no less, and had a speedy reply and remedy that day.  Their customer service is top notch.

If you are looking for a Christmas gift for that beer/beef lover, I heartily recommend checking out Robinson's.  To receive a 30% discount on a package order of Boston Lager Cuts, use code SAMADAMS at checkout.  I rarely order meat online, but this experience has certainly changed that.

I'm always looking for something new to grill, especially on the steak front.  Now, I've found it.

Note: Quite unexpectedly, Robinson's provided me a gift pack sample of meat.  The grilling, however, was all me.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


It's hard to believe Drew and I started brewing beer together 4 years ago.  To commemorate that first group brew, every fall Drew hosts a brew day at his house with the Backyard Brewers.  

Brewgiving 2012

Through the years, the event has grown.  As with most things we tend to do, it's also has a name.


I, for one, love Brewgiving, as it gives me a chance to just brew and not worry about running the grills.  I find my brewing schedule benefits greatly from my attentiveness.  No surprise there.

Brewgiving 2012

This year, sadly, the whole gang couldn't make it as our schedules sometimes just don't mess.  Nonetheless, Drew, Bryan, and I carried the mash paddle for them…and later welcomed Dave, Eric, and our female associate members, more commonly known as wives, for beers.

Brewgiving 2012

Drew brewed the imperial stout I brewed almost two years ago.  I have a few bottles left and even though the carbonation came out too low (which is why I keg...It's carbonation foolproof), I really loved it.  Drew felt it was a bit too sweet for his taste, so he made a few changes to the grain bill and mash temperature.  I'm dying to see how it comes out.

I brewed…well, I'm not sure what I brewed.  About 5 weeks ago I selected a recipe and picked up some additional ingredients to supplement the other grains I had on hand.  Some of the grains I picked up at Brewtensils were a mixed bag of dark and roasted malts.  For smaller and more speciality grains, I have the exact amounts measured out to avoid buying a big back of something I only need a few ounces from.  

Brewgiving 2012

Like an idiot, I never wrote down what recipe I was using.  I unsuccessfully tried to retrace my steps to figure it out, hoping I could match up grains and yeast.  Nope, I substituted the yeast too.  Backtracking = screwed.

So, when you are given grain, even if you don't know what it is, you still make beer.

Brewgiving 2012

That's what I did.


While we went through our processes, help was never to far away.  I've asked Drew repeatedly about adding a spigot to his kettle.  He outright refuses.  Pour and pray.

Brewgiving 2012

While we mashed and brewed, we also tasted.  

Brewgiving 2012

Brian brought several bombers to supplement Drew's homebrew.  Griffin's Bow is a favorite of mine.

Brewgiving 2012

So is My Antonia from Dogfish Head.  Both are stellar and if you see them at your local, pick them up.

Speaking of homebrew, Drew's converted fridge turned kegerator continues to perform.

Brewgiving 2012

Outside of his three tap system, his use of a drywall mud tray and vent louver as a drip tray is ingenious.  After all, it's The Drew.  I would expect nothing less.

Brewgiving 2012

As the brewing pushed towards hop additions, the food started up.  

Brewgiving 2012

Which was good…brewing makes you hungry…or is it the drinking?

Brewgiving 2012

Fried food is a brew day staple and since the fryer was already out, Drew rightfully decided to utilize it further.  Meet dinner.

Brewgiving 2012

Yes, fried turkey…well, soon to be fried turkey.  Outside of some initial safety steps, like ensuring the turkey is thawed and not using the fryer in the living room, the whole operation is really set it and forget it.

Brewgiving 2012

As Mr. Turkey fried its way to perfection, I wrapped up my brew.

Brewgiving 2012

Based on what I "think" I was brewing, I hit my gravity marks.  As did Drew.

Brewgiving 2012

His imperial stout is a big beer and with an Original Gravity of 1.10 it's well on its way.

Brewgiving 2012

With the yeast pitched, we quickly turned our attention to dinner.

Brewgiving 2012

The turkey turned out incredible.  Surprisingly, at least to me, I've only had deep fried turkey on a couple occasions and I've never made it myself.  I need to.  Drew's turned out really good.

It would not have been Brewgiving without a proper sit down meal and thanks to Drew's wife, we had more food than we knew what to do with.

Brewgiving 2012

The spread was incredible, the company second to none, and in months time we will hopefully have some great beer to show for it.  

I'm already looking forward to next year.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Happy International Stout Day!

One of my favorite beer holidays: International Stout Day!





Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Relatively Wordless Wednesday

One of my favorites, Blue Fin Tuna, grilled.  Barely.

Grilled Blue Fin Tuna

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Samuel Adams Utopias - 10th Anniversary

There are big beers and there are big beers.  Samuel Adams Utopias, with an ABV of 27%, is neither.  It's extreme.


The story behind Utopias is almost as good as the beer, and yes, although Utopias is un-carbonated, served at room temperature, and is 53 proof, it is still very much a beer.

According to Sam Adams founder, Jim Koch, the origin of Utopias dates back 20 years.  In Jim's effort to explore the untouched extreme boundaries of the beer spectrum, in 1994 he released Triple Bock, the first ever "strongest beer" (17.5% ABV).  

On a side note, I still have one bottle of Triple Bock left.  It has been years since I've had my second to last bottle and sadly, my hazy memory doesn't hold a lot of good memories.  I'm thinking about opening my last bottle before the end of the year and giving it another try.

Triple Bock was followed up by Millennium in 2000 and ultimately the first batch of Utopias in 2002.  

Sam Adams Utopias

The journey of Utopias from mash to bottle can boggle the mind.  It is made with a blend of liquids, aged in several different types of wooden casks, some aged for 19 years.  This year's batch even includes some of the original 1994 Triple Bock, an ode to this beer's extreme origin.  In the end, Utopias was finished in single-use bourbon casks.  It is easy to see, based simply on the Utopias brewing roadmap, why this is such a complex beer.

My first taste of Utopias came during our tour of the Sam Adams brewery earlier this year.   Not only was our taste a special treat, stumbling on the casks of Utopias "hanging out" in the brewery was even better.

Utopias in Casks

Utopias has always been served in a bottle resembling a traditional brewing "copper", or kettle.  This year is no different, but in an added splash of nostalgia, roots have been etched on the sides to give homage to the 20 plus years of history that goes into this 10th anniversary batch.

Sam Adams Utopias

I want my bottle of Utopias to last through the New Year, so I'm enforcing the 2 ounce pour rule.  It may be a little tricky.  This batch is out of this world and I have hard time visualizing 2 ounces.

Utopias exclusivity and longevity of aging is also reflected in its price of $160 a bottle.  In my opinion, the price is well worth it.


Only 15000 bottles of Utopias are available for sale.  I've got bottle bottle 14915. 

Utopias Pour

The Taste

The nose is of dark fruit and raisins.

On first taste, more of that dark fruit with a subtle woody undercurrent.  The finish was a mixture of sweet malt and spice. On subsequent tastings, it's difficult to figure out exactly what's going on, as so there are so many different layers.  It is complex.  Although there is no denying the presence of the alcohol, the brown sugar like sweetness beats it down.  The sweetness of Utopias lingers on the lips and the spice profile camps out in the back of the throat.  It really is phenomenal.  

Utopias in Glass

Utopias is the perfect after dinner drink.  If you get the opportunity, get a taste, or better yet, add it to your Christmas list.  It is that special of a beer.
Note: The wonderful people at Sam Adams provided me with not only this fine bottle of Utopias, but the Utopias tasting glass by Reidel.  My Christmas is over.