The Craft Beer Mount Rushmore

There are a huge and ever-growing number of beers that are worth drinking out there right now, but periodically it's important to stop and think about which ones aren't so much delicious as they are important. Beers that transformed the American Craft Beer landscape or created a new style or craze all on their own.

One of my favorite games is "Mount Rushmore". You pick a topic, any topic, like say... snacks, and you make the "Mount Rushmore of Snacks" (Potato Chips, Oreos, Pretzels, Funions). The other day a few of us decided to try the Mount Rushmore of Craft Beer. What started as a fun game ended as a shouting match about what were, not the best, but the most important Craft Beers. Since I write the blog, my 4 will be enshrined in history as the winner. Here are my personal choices for the Mount Rushmore of Craft Beer

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Sierra nevada Pale ale.jpg

What started as the dream of some homebrewers has become perhaps the single most important product in American Craft Beer. Focused on Cascade hops and 100% two-row malt, the sheer gravity (Beer Puns!) of this beer pulled the entire style of Pale Ale and and IPA toward itself. One of the first genuinely hop forward beers to hit the American Market, it's hard to see what the hop boom of the past 20 years would look like, or if would have happened at all, without this beer. Just as important as it's legacy is it's staying power. It's just a relevant today as it was when it came out 25 years ago and is one of my few go-to craft beers. 

Sam Adams Boston Lager

sam-adams-boston-lager.jpg

Like countless other people, Sam Adams Boston Lager was my first foray into Craft Beer. What started in 1984 as Jim Koch making an old family recipe grew quickly into the most widely available and ubiquitous craft beer in the country. Sam Adams was the first Craft Brewery to make a real charge at huge breweries on beer menus and to turn people's heads and make them realize that Craft Beer was here and here to stay. Boston Lager, like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, is still the flagship beer of the juggernaut and it shows no signs of going anywhere. 

Pliny The Elder

Pliny the elder.jpg

Often Imitated. Never Duplicated. It's a testament to the voracity of the Craft Beer industry and it's drinkers that a beer available in something like 5 states can be one if the 4 more important craft beers ever made. I can think of swaths of people I know that have heard of this beer but only a fraction of them have ever had it. What SN Pale Ale started decades before evolved, in the late 90's and early 00's, into what can only be described as a hop arms race. Beer who's IBU's dwarfed their own quality flooded the market in an effort to become the newest hop bomb. Pliny the Elder did it best. Made by a small brewery in Northern California called Russian River Brewing Company, Pliny the Elder lets the flavor of the hops shine through instead if just it's bitterness. Russian River brewer Vinny Cilurzo is often credited with creating the Double IPA style, but in the 17 years since it's release, Pliny still sits at the top of the hop throne. 

New Belgium La Folie

New-Belgium-La-Folie-2017.jpeg

You may be tempted to think this beer is a controversial addition to this list but you'd be wrong. When sour beer first entered the US market by way of Belgium in the 70's people returned them by the case because they believed them to be infected. For another two decades the only sour beers you could find were from Belgium. To think there was a time when Cantillon could be found on shelves is madness today. Sour beers have absolutely exploded in the last few years. Farmhouse Ale, Gose, Lambic, Flanders Ale, Wild Ale, Saison, seemingly every brewery is throwing their hat in the ring. If you follow the breadcrumbs back through time you'll find La Folie. If Sierra Nevada's Ken Grossman can be called the Grandfather of Hoppy Beer, New Belgium's Peter Bouckaert must be the Godfather of the American Sour Ale movement. Brought in from Belgium by the Colorado brewery, La Folie was the first major entrant into the style. It's a bracingly tart Flemish Style Sour Brown that any sour lover needs to try. 

Honorable Mentions

This list is absolutely 100% subjective. There's quite simply no way to limit the most important Craft beers to just 4, but this was my best effort. There are dozens of beers that could go on this list, though I'd struggle to find justifiable replacements for Pale Ale and Boston Lager. Here just a few of the beers that missed the cut.

Dale's Pale Ale - Oskar Blues legacy doesn't lie as much in their beer, though it is tremendous, but in it's packaging. When everyone was convinced that good beer came in bottles, they released craft cans. Game changer.

Anchor Steam - Definitely the hardest to keep off the list above, this is the OG American Craft Beer. 

Heady Topper - The NEIPA... thing? Let's call it a thing. The NEIPA thing is everywhere right now and if you're tired of hearing about them, blame Heady Topper. 

Goose Island Bourbon County Stout - Not on the list for not actually being craft, but they were the first to bourbon barrel age beer. 

Celis White - Pierre Celis brought Belgian Wit Beer to the US in 1992. Three years later 2 things happened: a beer called Blue Moon was released and Celis sold to Miller Light. Blue Moon exploded and Miller closed Celis in 2000. The classic is back though and it's fantastic.

What beers did we miss? Let us know!

 

Winter Cocktails

This time of year is without a doubt the best time of year. I'm not talking about Christmas, I'm of course talking about our new Winter Cocktail menu. Christmas is great and all, but what's Christmas without a nice boozy eggnog or an Irish Coffee? Here's what we'll be slinging this Winter

eggnog.jpg

 

Aged Eggnog

We make our eggnog in house from scratch. It's... not healthy, but then again we're talking about eggnog here. We make a traditional eggnog and spike it with Aged Rum, Brandy, and Bourbon and then age it (It's Pasteurized) to perfection. If you haven't had our eggnog you haven't had it the way it was meant to be. It's also great when dropped into a Nitro Stout like an Irish Carbomb... just sayin.

Irish Coffee

The first of our two hot drinks on the menu this year, our Irish Coffee doesn't stray too far from tradition. Jameson, Coffee, Brown Sugar Syrup, and we float some shaken cream spiked with a little chocolate bitters on top. Great for a cool evening or right at 11am when we open.

Hot Toddy

I have a British Aunt who I absolutely adore. Why? Because whenever I'm sick she makes me a hot toddy. When I was a kid I would try to act sick to get out of school. Now I try to act sick for one of Aunt Jill's Hot Toddy's. We use Monkey Shoulder Blended Scotch Whisky, fresh lemon juice, and our house made honey ginger syrup. It's never too cold when you have a Hot Toddy.

New York Sour

Winter is Citrus season, which means one thing: Sours. The New York Sour is a riff of the classic Whiskey Sour with the addition of a dry red wine float. We use Bourbon, fresh lemon, and simple syrup for the base and top it of with a floater of robust Zinfandel. If you haven't had one it's spectacular. Definitely a staff favorite.

Trinidad Sour

You know that scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where the guy's dad is talking about building a castle in a swamp? They said he was daft to build a castle in a swamp, but he did it all the same. When I heard there was a cocktail based on Angostura Bitters, I thought that it was insanse. Why? Why would someone do this? Then I had one, and it is majestic. Angostura Bitters, Lemon, Rye Whiskey, and Orgeat (Almond Syrup) combine to make a complex and surprisingly balanced cocktail. It's sweet, sour, bitter, and completely daft. 

Goodbye Horses

One of our staff members had this cocktail on a trip to New York recently and we did our best to recreate it. It's a light beverage that's a great contrast in the colder months. Bourbon, Lemon, White Wine, St. Germain, and a dash of bitters. Also great in a high ball with club soda.

Winter Old Fashioned

 We always have a take on an Old Fashioned on the menu, in the fall we had the Apple Pie Old Fashioned (which you can still get), this season we're going back to Bourbon but adding a couple twists. We add some Jelinek Fernet, a Czech spirit with cinnamon and herb notes, with simple syrup, Angostura and Chocolate Bitters. 

Applejack Sazerac

Sometimes you just need a strong drink. This is for you. We take the Rye Based New Orleans classic and add some Laird's Applejack and a couple varieties of bitters for a winter twist on an old classic. 

Mulled Sangria

The Sangria has been one of our most popular drinks every season. This time we're marrying the classic winter Mulled Wine and a Sangria into something wonderful. It's stronger than our previous entries with the addition of Rum, Brandy, and Orange Liqueur, so tread lightly. 

Christmas Guide For The Beer Lover

My family always says I'm the hardest person to buy gifts for which is ridiculous. A Specs gift card is all I need for happiness... which sounds concerning when you really think about it. Do you have someone in your life that loves beer and the like and you just don't know what to get them? I've got you covered. Below you'll find some gems that anyone that enjoys the pint.

For the Beer Lover

Tasting Beer.jpg

This might be the best book out there to start diving deeper into beer. It's great for beginners and experts. Everyone knows how to drink beer, but few know how to really taste it with an understanding of the finer points of brewing, serving, and food pairing. Discover the ingredients and brewing methods that make each variety unique and learn to identify the scents, colors, flavors, and mouthfeel of all the major beer styles. Recommendations for more than 50 types of beer from around the world encourage you to expand your horizons. Uncap the secrets in every bottle of the world’s greatest drink! 

His/Hers Baldy's Glasses

Glasses.jpg

We're rolling out some limited Lady Baldy glasses for Christmas and when they're gone they're gone. $10 for the set and a something that we would definitely classify as a need and not a want.

Ukeg Growler

Ukeg Growler.jpg

Growlers are a great tool. You head over to your favorite brewery or growler fill station and fill up with 64 ounces of your favorite brew. The only problem is that once the beer goes into an unpressurized container it starts to go flat and it will only last a few days at most. With the Ukeg growler you pressurize it with a CO2 cartridge and you can hold your precious brew for much longer. They're expensive but if you love growlers then it's a must have. You can also save a good amount of money by just getting a standard growler at your favorite fill station.

Teku Glass

Teku.jpg

This is the ultimate beer glass. The Teku was designed to accentuate the flavor and aroma of beer to maximize your experience. No glass collection is complete without one.

Beer

Beer.png

The Best Gift my wife ever got me was going to a great bottle shop and picking out a few bottles of hard to find beers for my collection. If you really love your spouse, buy them beer.

What We're Drinking Right Now

We periodically like to pretend that you guys care what we're drinking. So here we go.

Kevin

The Bitter Old Kevin - Most of the time I spend at the bar is also during office hours so I try to stick to Non-Alcoholic stuff. It doesn't really have a name so they started calling it the Bitter Old Kevin, presumably after my sunny disposition. It's Diet Coke with Angostura Bitters and Lime. If it sounds like something your Grandpa would drink, it's because I have the lifestyle habits of your Grandpa. 

Harry

Wisconsin Old Fashioned and Pumpkinator (not together) - My wife and I might be most of the reason that we did a post on the Wisconsin Old Fashioned. If you haven't tried one you need to. Whiskey, Sour is the how I do it, but lately I've been leaning towards Pumpkinator. I don't normally go after the Pumpkin-y beers but with the cooler weather it's what I find in my glass more often than not. 

Joey

Hazy IPA's and Daiquiri's - When I'm at the bar I usually mix it up a lot but lately I've been joining the cool kids on the Hazy IPA bandwagon. B-52 Wheez the Juice and Ze Hazy, and Copperhead Citraddicted tend to be the one most common. At home I've basically been mainlining daiquiri's because I bought WAY too many limes and a handle of good rum last week. Here's how I make mine: 2 oz of a nice aged rum, 1 oz of Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, and .75 oz lime juice. Shake and serve up. Maybe don't drink more than 2 in a night; these aren't your usual frozen nonsense, these are drinks that would make Hemingway proud. 

The Wisconsin Old Fashioned

wisconsin-old-fashioned-.png

I'm a big fan of the Old Fashioned. I make them at home all the time, we always have them at the bar and like to play around with different variations; so I was thrilled when my friend Ashlie asked me to make her one at her house. So I get out the Bourbon (because there was no rye), put in a couple shakes of bitters, add some simple syrup, twist of orange, etc. And as I'm finishing the drink I look up and she has a look of absolute disgust on her face. I believe her actual response was, "What in the hell is that?"

As it turns out, in Wisconsin, the Old Fashioned is it's own thing. About 10 years ago or so when craft cocktails really started to catch on, people got really, really militant with the Old Fashioned, myself included. Wisconsin though has their own thing going and truth be told, it deserves some recognition. 

The Wisconsin Old Fashioned goes like this: You muddle a sugar cube with a slice of orange and a cherry. Normally we call this "heresy". When you have a nice sugar/fruit sludge going you add a few dashes of aromatic bitters and fill with ice. The base of this drink is either Blended Whiskey or Brandy. Not really nice brandy though, don't whip out some XO Cognac or anything crazy. Truth be told I use Korbel. Finish the drink by topping it with "Sweet OR Sour". My friends from Wisconsin insist this means Sprite or Squirt. Take a moment if you need.

This drink goes against tradition, God, and nature. That being said, if someone from Wisconsin tells you that a drink is good, you should listen. It's absolutely delicious, but I'll never admit that to Ashlie. This November we'll be offering a Wisconsin Old Fashioned with Whiskey or Brandy, Sweet or Sour. I don't think you'll regret it. Unless you do, in which case blame Wisconsin. 

A Big Thanks To All of You

Two years ago Deacon Baldy's was just an idea. A combination of wanting to create a place where our family and friends can come and enjoy each other's company without destroying someone's home (There are a lot of kids), wanting to build a place that honored the late Deacon Baldy, and some old friend's who had always wanted to open a bar.

I don't think any of us had any idea what this dream would become, and we certainly had no idea what we were doing when we started, which is of course always a good idea when starting a small business. Slowly things started to come together, evolve, and shape what would be this place would become. We opened one year ago to mass chaos. It was a blast. We've had hiccups, meltdowns, and we made more than our share of mistakes along the way, but before we knew it we'd been open a year. 

When people ask me why Deacon Baldy's works I tell them it isn't the 40 taps, the cocktails, the Food Trucks, or even the fact there was a massive hole in the market for something like this, it's our customers, our community. We have what might be the most random collection of regulars of any bar I've ever seen. Families with young children, retirees, young professionals, biker clubs, teachers, and a surprising amount of clergy. We almost never have problems with out customers or people causing a stir. Almost everyone is happy to come and drink with their friends while other people's kids (or mine) run around. I've met so many people from all over the world and it's been the best year of my life doing it. 

Making it one year in this industry is no small accomplishment, and while I'd be lying if I said we aren't proud of what we built, the job we've done, and of course our incredible staff, none of it would be possible without all of you. So from the bottom of our hearts thank you for making our little patio bar a part of your life. It means the world to us. 

With Love and Beer,

Deacon Baldy's

New Fall Cocktails

Penicillin.jpg

With Fall here it's time to change up our cocktail menu again and like the last few season's we're trying to bring you a few that you've seen before, a couple that you haven't, and maybe one or two twists on the classics. This fall we're focusing on brown liquid and now that we think about it, a lot of ginger, to make the most of the nice weather. We're keeping the margarita of course and the Juice is too nostalgic to ever take off, but the rest will be all new. These will be dropping next week by the way...

Apple Pie Old Fashioned

We love a good Old Fashioned but every now and again it's good to throw it for a loop and try a new take. We stripped it down and we're making this one with Applejack (similar to Apple Brandy), Maple Syrup, and Barrel Aged Bitters.

Fall Sangria

We're still using our traditional Spanish base wine, Grenache, but everything else is different. We're upping some spices, taking out some things, adding some others, and garnishing it with cinnamon, cranberries, and an orange peel. This will be a great one to sip all season until we figure out what the heck a winter sangria looks like. 

The Czech Whiskey Sour

We take a traditional whiskey sour of Bourbon, lemon, and simple syrup and we spike it with an addition of Jelinek Fernet, a check Fernet (that tastes nothing like it's angry cousin Fernet Branca), and shake it with some egg white for added body. If you haven't had an egg white in a whiskey sour you just haven't had it the way it's supposed to be had. Trust us, it's not gross. 

Pear & Elderflower Colins

This, I'm certain, will be our most popular Fall offering. We make an ultra refreshing collins with Vodka, St. Germain, Pear Liqueur, Pear Puree, Honey Ginger Syrup, and some soda. The whole thing is very light and delicate and since it comes by the pint, you won't HAVE to rush back and forth to get more, but you will. 

The Yes-Man

The Yes-Man started as a basic stonewall and quickly spiraled out of control into something completely different. We take our Applejack and mix it with Dry Apple Cider and Ginger Beer for a simple, no frills, classic

The Spiced Dark & Stormy

We've wanted to do a Dark & Stormy for a while but we wanted to do something fun with it so we took a page our of Jeffrey Morgenthler's book and we made our own House Spiced Rum. We spice the rum in house and mix it with Gosling Ginger beer because if you don't Gosling will sue you. Seriously, they own the name Dark & Stormy. 

Manhattan

One of the giants of the cocktail world, the Manhattan is Bourbon, Sweet Vermouth, Angotura Bitters, and a Cherry served up. Some things just shouldn't be messed with.

Penicillin (See Image above)

Definitely our most aggressive cocktail on the list, I won't say this is going to cure your cold... but it won't not cure your cold. The Penicillin is built on a base of Monkey Shoulder blended Scotch with Lemon, House Made Honey Ginger Syrup, and has a floater of Smoaky Islay Scotch. 

Confession: I Hate Making Martinis

Martini.jpg

The Martini is is not only a classic it's iconic. It is delicate and assertive, simple but elegant. It's also by far my least favorite thing to make when I am behind the bar. Do not misunderstand, I love a good martini when I'm at home or if I'm ordering it at a place I'm confident can make one, but all that love and admiration goes out the window when someone orders a Martini from me. But why? Simply speaking? Everyone likes theirs differently.

There are hundreds of ways to make a martini, and frankly, many people haven't got the faintest idea what they want when they say Martini. Let's go through some words that you can use when ordering a martini: vodka, gin, wet, dry, dirty, bone dry, sweet, with olives, with lemon, with onion (Techically a Gibson), up, rocks, perfect, burnt, shaken, stirred, and the list goes on. Every one of those words changes the drink. So, what is a Martini?

The Spirit

The substitution of Vodka for Gin is common and it's still a martini, any other spirit though and you're just making a different drink. London Dry Gin is typical but with so many different types of Gins on the market today you should play the field. My favorite is Death's Door. If you're using Vodka, buy whatever you like, it's basically all the same anyways. If I had to suggest one, I recommend Aylesbury Duck.

Vermouth

This is the part where I tend to ruffle some feathers. Martini's have vermouth. If you order a Vodka Martini with no Vermouth, you're just drinking cold Vodka, not there is anything wrong with that. The Addition of Vermouth is critical to making the drink what it is. Now I don't begrudge people who shy away from Vermouth; for a long time there weren't any Vermouths worth buying. But with the cocktail resurgence there are a bevy of good options. Here are three to look out for: Vya, Noilly Prat, and Dolin. Some of these you can find at a well stocked grocery store.

Vermouth is a fortified and aromatized wine. Basically: wine spiked with brandy, infused with herbs and spices, and sweetened. There are two types: dry and sweet. For the Martini we'll be using dry, or white vermouth. I recommend starting with a 5:1 ratio of Spirit to Vermouth. Also, the reason that Vodka Martini's caught on, is that Vermouth doesn't really play well with Vodka, because there's nothing really to pair with. It's SUPPOSED to be tasteless. Just try it with a really good Gin. The botanicals compliment each other incredibly well and I promise you'll see why this drink caught on. Or maybe not, who knows.

Shaken or Stirred

Both of these things serve to cool the drink and dilute it. Stirring however will do two things: It will keep the drink crystal clear and it will not chill it so much that you can't taste the subtleties. Shaking, however, will cause the drink to take on tiny bubbles that cloud the drink and it will chill it so much that you'll be hard pressed to taste much of the drink. Why? Because cold kills smell and smell is critical for taste.

Get your Martini's stirred kids, not only will it taste better (or at all) but it will be clear. Plus, shaking waters down drinks far more than stirring. James Bond is ordering a watered down, flavorless Martini and it's offensive. 

Optional Modifiers:

If you're using London Dry Gin, it's traditional to add a couple dashes of Orange Bitters. Trust me it's worth it. 

Dirty: Add Olive Brine

The Traditional Garnishes for a Martini are olives or a Lemon Twist. I like mine with both, but hold the brine please

Sweet: Use Sweet Vermouth

Perfect: Use both Sweet and Dry Vermouth

Burnt: add a little Scotch in there

Rocks: There's nothing wrong with ordering a martini with ice

Recipe

This is the recipe I would recommend to anyone looking to try their first Martini. 

  • 2.5 oz London Dry Gin
  • .5 oz Dry Vermouth (Use Quality)
  • 2 dashes Orange Bitters
  • Lemon Peel

Add the liquids to a glass filled with Ice and then stir while doing your best to not let the ice chip. If you don't have a cocktail spoon it's easiest with a chopstick believe it or not. Stir it for a good 30 seconds. You want to dilute it a little. Then strain into a chilled glass. Squeeze the lemon peel over the drink to express the oils and then drop it in and enjoy. 

If you find you enjoy the vermouth more than you thought, try using more. Miss the olives? Add them. My problem with the Martini isn't that it's a bad drink, it's that despite it's incredibly small ingredients list, there's so many ways to enjoy it.  

Cheers