Beer Batter Breakfast

Lloyd's Christmas Ale

Brewery: Ellicotville Brewing Company
Pancakes: Yes
Type: Christmas Ale
Syrup: No

I know what you’re thinking - Christmas in May? That doesn’t make any sense. At least wait for July, right? Well, there’s a silver lining here: we’re just wrapping up Madison Craft Beer Week, which is basically Beer Christmas, and considering I’ve been sitting on this since November, it seemed like a good time to dust it off.

Dashing through the snow...
Dashing through the snow...

Lloyd’s Christmas Ale comes to us all the way from Ellicotville, New York, a tiny little village about an hour South of my hometown of Buffalo, NY. My parents brought it with them when they came on a visit back in November for Kanopy’s Fall show. Lloyd’s pours a dark brown with a surprisingly thick/hearty tan head. The beer immediately had a dark fruity aroma which smelled more like raisin than the fig the bottle mentions. It’s not overly spiced, which makes me think it might be better labelled as a Winter Warmer instead of a Christmas Ale.

Prep/Cooking

It ain't just the head that's thick...
It ain't just the head that's thick...

The thickness of the beer’s head translated directly into the thickness of the batter. I’ve always wondered what makes some batters thick and some not. The consistency was almost like cake batter, and while the aroma picked up a sweeter note, the flavor totally lost the subtlety and richness the beer had.

Results

Super fluffy!
Super fluffy!

Thick head. Thick batter. Thick pancakes. Well, maybe thick is the wrong word for it, but they were really fluffy and hearty. Flavor-wise, the pancakes picked up some of what the batter had lost: a subtle sweetness and notes of dark fruit. Not nearly as malty as its liquid counterpart, but overall an interesting pancake.

The Decision

  • Pancakes: Yes. Even after aging for 6 months, this beer still just isn’t as complex as I want it to be.
  • Syrup: No. 0/10 would not recommend. The syrup completely ruined the subtlety that was so delightful in these pancakes.
Christmas is ruined
Christmas is ruined

JP's Imperial Date Porter

Brewery: Jesse Peterson
Pancakes: N/A
Type: Oak-Aged Imperial Porter
Syrup: N/A

In case you were wondering, not this isn’t my first homebrew post (search “homebrew” on the sidebar). In fact, this isn’t even the first beer from this particular individual I’ve covered. JP previously sent a Dunkelweiss my way, and having seen what I did with it, was eager to put this beer to the test.

I had to write that on there. He didn't even label it :(
I had to write that on there. He didn't even label it :(

Boasting a much more complicated description than the first, JP describes this beer as an “Oak-aged Imperial Date Porter made with dates”. I think he really wanted us to know about the date part. Right out of the bottle, the beer was a little heady/over-carbed, but given everything that’s going on in here, you really can’t blame him. You’re immediately graced with a dark fruit aroma, and the first taste is rich and sweet without being overpoweringly oaky. It has a nice, smooth finish to boot. As the beer warms, more of the fruit notes come through.

Prep/Cooking

Dark & Boozy
Dark & Boozy

Due to the aforementioned headiness, mixing this batter was a little complicated. After the dust settled, the batter had a predictably dark color and a noticeably boozy aroma. The batter’s flavor lost some of the sweetness of the beer and the oak notes came through. The most noticeable characteristic is that ~9% ABV coming through the batter.

Results

I had no idea what I was in for
I had no idea what I was in for

The first thing I noticed was this incredible aroma coming off the plate. Before I could even bite into one, there was this amazing fruitcake aroma, maybe with a little rum. It stopped me in my tracks. When I finally got around to trying one, the flavor was just wonderful. Waves of flavor wash over you as the richness of the oak chips, the fruitiness of the dates, and the smoothness of the porter all hit you in turn. A deep, nuanced flavor with a perfect finish.

The Decision

I usually break form when it comes to homebrew posts because the likelihood of anyone else getting their hands on this is virtually zero, but I will comment on adding syrup.

At first I was reluctant to add syrup at all given how rich and complex the pancakes themselves were, but I felt I had to stay true to form, so onward I went. Syrup gave these pancakes an almost candied sweetness, and brought out the dark fruit flavors much stronger than in beer or batter form. The strong oak finish refused to be subdued, though, which created an overall interesting and elegant flavor experience.

For science!
For science!

3 Sheeps Hello My Name Is Joe

Brewery: 3 Sheeps Brewing Company
Pancakes: No
Type: Imperial Black Wheat
Syrup: No

The fun thing about buying lots of beer and keeping it in storage for awhile is when you finally get around to drinking it and you discover a) the brewery is never making anything like it ever again, or b) it was so wildly popular the brewery is expanding its production. In this case, Hello My Name Is Joe (HMNIJ) used to be a seasonal and is now a year-round offer from 3 Sheeps. I personally would take Ewephoria over HMNIJ in a heartbeat, but…so it goes.

I wouldn't even recognize it on the street
I wouldn't even recognize it on the street

HMNIJ is an extra take on their black wheat ale (Baaad Boy), where they add specially-roasted Colectivo coffee to produce a wonderfully dark, smooth, bitter beer. There’s a very strong coffee aroma right off the bat, but it’s not overpowering from a flavor standpoint. I’m generally a fan of coffee beers (especially ones that aren’t porters or stouts), but there seems to be some bizarre aftertaste haunting HMNIJ. Maybe it’s the dark malts, maybe it’s the wheat.

Prep/Cooking

It's been awhile since we've seen crazy colors...
It's been awhile since we've seen crazy colors...

Obviously with a beer as dark as HMNIJ you’re going to get some fun-colored batter and pancakes. What was really interesting was actually the consistency - it seemed relatively watery, but the pancakes it produced were bubbly and fluffy (some of the fluffiest I can recall from this blog). Flavorwise, it was incredibly creamy (moreso than the already creamy beer), and had no detectable coffee flavor. What it did seem to emphasize were the dark malts in this beer. It was almmost oatmeal-like in its smoothness.

Results

Hello again, dear old friend
Hello again, dear old friend

Again, they came out “super fluffy”, as in probably the fluffiest pancakes I can remember on this blog (I wonder what factors lead to that…). The aroma of these pancakes reminded me of something, but I couldn’t quite place it &endash; dark, sweet, roasty, slightly boozy. Maybe rum balls? The flavor echoed the smoothness of the beer, and the dark malts really stayed strong throughout. No sense of coffee here, either.

The Decision

  • Pancakes: No. In beer form, it’s a pretty delicious, smooth, boozy drink. In pancake form, it’s basically nothing.
  • Syrup: No. The aroma gained this spicy sort of aroma, like allspice or nutmeg, but the flavor was virtually unaffected.
We'll call this one an interesting experiment
We'll call this one an interesting experiment

Destihl Wild Sour - Flanders Red

Brewery: Destihl Brewery
Pancakes: No
Type: Flanders Red Ale
Syrup: Yes

Destihl is another brewery that’s relatively new to Wisconsin (or, at least, to me). Their Wild Sour series started popping up around town sometime last summer, and any time you put “sour” on a beer, you’ve got my attention. Looking at all 4 styles/options (Gose, Flanders Red, Berliner Weiss, Raspberry Berliner Weiss), I decided to go back to my roots and try the Flanders Red.

Monk's Cafe is a Flanders Red...
Monk's Cafe is a Flanders Red...

Flanders Red is one of many beers Destihl makes as part of their Wild Sour series. In fact, looking at their website has taught me we’re totally missing out in Wisconsin, as they have other delicious-sounding beers like Smoked Gose, Sour Cherry Stout, and “Adambier” (which sounds like a sour brown ale). You’re killing me, smalls.

That all being said, the beer came out of this can super heady, with a thick, bone-ish colored head. The beer itself is cloudy and light amber in color. The first taste is extremely tart &endash; almost too tart. It grows on you, though, as the cherries really come through.

Prep/Cooking

+1 for the assist for the black pepper tin
+1 for the assist for the black pepper tin

Aside from being thick, there wasn’t much notable about Flanders Red’s batter. It was slightly darker in color than the beer’s head, and it lost almost all sense of sour tartness or fruitiness, which allowed the beer’s caramel malts to come through (which was actually nice considering that’s almost impossible in liquid form).

Results

I feel like sour pancakes always look interesting
I feel like sour pancakes always look interesting

The first thing I noticed about these beers is they “kinda smell like fruitcake” (as per my notes). The most disappointing part is that the flavor almost completely died with these. The first few bites tasted like normal pancakes, and eventually I got a little sense of something that was somewhat malty, somewhat bitter. Nothing at all like the batter, and certainly nothing like the beer.

The Decision

  • Pancakes: No. I know sours are hit or miss with people, but if you’re into the beer, don’t bother with the pancakes.
  • Syrup: Yes. Now this is really interesting. Adding syrup restored a lot of the fruity and malty notes the beer had but didn’t bring back the sour bite. It was actually kind of good.

I liken the experience to the first time I had Wisniowka, which is a Polish cherry liquor &emdash; without any sweetness, it’s really dry, almost bitter fruit flavor, but adding a little sugar and all the flavors come to life.

A definite improvement again
A definite improvement

Surly Coffee Bender

Brewery: Surly Brewing Company
Pancakes: Yes
Type: Coffee Brown Ale
Syrup: Yes

Surly’s invasion of Wisconsin last summer caused quite the stir, and it provided us with many other fantastic beer options that have certainly survived the initial rush. Having personally taken a trip to Surly’s brewery, I can tell you what they serve up on-site is way better than what they distribute. But even at that, they make some pretty solid beers. We had Doom Tree a few weeks ago, and here we are back with Coffee Bender.

Not just a bender...a Coffee Bender
Not just a bender...a Coffee Bender

Surly’s Coffee Bender is a delightful marriage of their Bender oatmeal brown ale and Minneapolis-roasted Guatemalan coffee beans. Surly descibes it as having a “cappuccino-like creaminess”, and I can’t really disagree (though I think I’d call it closer to a latte). The beer pours a dark brown and has a deep, strong aroma. There’s a touch of sweetness on initial taste that finishes smoothly malty/coffee-y. The beer poured with a thick cream-colored head (as you can see).

Prep/Cooking

I feel like these pictures never do justice
I feel like these pictures never do justice

Echoing the photo caption, the batter was almost an identical color to the head on this beer (my poor phone’s white balance apparently couldn’t figure that out), and the batter was actually surprisingly thick. It actually formed a solid layer between the beer and the pancake mix before I stirred it, and after letting it sit for a little it got really thick again. Odd, but not disconcerting. In terms of flavor, almost all of the coffee notes disappeared, but the vanilla maltiness stayed, giving it a delightfully sweet flavor.

Results

Look at those two cute little ones!
Look at those two cute little ones!

Likely due to how thick the batter wound up (I use the same amount of powder mixture for each batch), I didn’t quite get as much volume out of these pancakes. Not that that’s a bad thing, but it was a thing I noticed. The pancakes themselves were really interested. Very sweet, almost cakelike. The first two were slightly undercooked, but even at that, the pancake flavor stood on its own even with the beer’s aftertaste in my mouth. Not coffee-like at all, but a really interesting and delicious flavor.

The Decision

  • Pancakes: Yes. I was actually reluctant/sad to add syrup to these because I was so enamored by the flavor. It took the best parts of the beer and amplified them while removing others (notably, the strong coffee flavor).
  • Syrup: Yes. Hmm, this is a tough one. It certainly didn’t take anything away from the pancakes, but I can’t say for sure if it added anything.
Mmmmmmmm, coffeecakes
Mmmmmmmm, coffeecakes