Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Beer Review – Brew Velvet Brewery

It’s been a while since I’ve posted one of my beer reviews.  It’s not that I haven’t been trying out a few new offerings, rather I am behind on getting reviews written due to pesky things like work.  photo

I’m really excited about today’s review, however, because these are the first home brews that I’ve tried in a while and as you’ll tell from the review, I loved them.  Tsan Abrahamson, not only one of the most gifted trademark, IP and licensing lawyers out there, a former professional chef, but also a really nice person, sent me a quartet of her beer making prowess.  I sampled the first two of them yesterday with Ryan

First thing you notice are the great names, which I guess should be expected from someone who deals with branding on a daily basis.  “Wit She-Devil” – a Belgian Wit styled beer with lemons and oranges and one of the better beer names ever: “Keep Hop Alive” IPA. 

Wit She-Devil Review:  Ryan’s favorite of the two.  The orange and lemon are perfectly balanced and it’s nice to see a beer that can achieve this.  Usually, I get either one or the other, or an imbalance between the two.  Great nose of fruit zest and there was copious amount of debate whether coriander was present as well.  There was something similar to the Zinnebir that I tasted previously in both quality and accessibility. 

Mendelson Rating: 8/10.

Keep Hop Alive Review:  This one was my favorite.  I was pleasantly surprised that a home brew could have such wonderful hops, but this one did.  Ryan wanted even more hops, especially later in the brewing process, but I’m happy with the balance and the lack of bitterness that some IPAs get.  My only “ask” would be a bit heavier on the nose, but it was a smooth and effective IPA in my opinion. 

Mendelson Rating:  8/10.

Now of course, the big issue is that none of you can purchase these fine brews at your local market.  But if you know Tsan, or you hire her as your attorney, perhaps you, too, will find a gift box arriving at your door one day.

May 26th, 2010     Categories: Beer, Food    

Beer Review – Jolly Pumpkin Brewery

Over the Memorial Day weekend, Joe Stump and I (fellow Michigander and co-founder at Simple Geo) decided to try some Michigan beers and see how they stack up to some of our favorites. 

photo photo

Jolly Pumpkin Brewery out of Traverse City, Mi has always made a really nice pumpkin ale that I get from time to at  the Kitchen Upstairs, but this was the first venture to try their other brews, specifically their Noel de Calabaza Special Ale and their Bam Noire Dark Farmhouse Ale. 

Noel de Calabaza: Joe and I liked this beer.  The nose is really full of fruit and spice and the taste does not disappoint.  As with all Christmas beers, which are usually a “what we have left in the brewery” beer, I can’t pretend to understand all of the things that I tasted, but the cola brown, foaming thick Belgian-styled offering had hints of spice, yeast, apples and several other fruits.  There is also definitely cinnamon, which some of you know if a very large plus for me. 

Mendelson Rating: 7/10

Bam Noire:  While billed as a farmhouse ale, I found none of the barnyard qualities that so please me with beers like the Saison Dupont Farmhouse.  Joe immediately recognized a metallic front end to the beer, which I later found as well.  On the plus side, there was a very nice nose and a nice gummy quality to the beer.  However, overall, this beer disappointed.  I do look forward to trying their regular farmhouse ale to see how that differs from this one. 

Mendelson Rating:  5/10

So, the “homeland” is making some nice beers.  And it’s another good reason to visit Traverse City. 

May 4th, 2010     Categories: Beer, Food    

La Binchoise Spéciale Noël Reserve

Today’s beer posting brought to you by Tracy DeCicco, whom came to my office hours last week and brought me a bottle of beer. 

(Clearly it was the best meeting of the day).photo

This was a really nice beer.  I had never heard of it, but better late than never.  There were a couple of things that were really special about it.

First, if you like orange in your beer, this is for you.  It’s not overpowering at all, but really nicely tucked into the body of the brew and is both front tasting and lasting.  While it’s a Christmas brew, I could easily picture drinking it on a warm day.

Secondly, while a very nice amber color, it has nicely balanced hops and is still very accessible.  Moreover, it’s really perfectly balanced with its carbonation, which seemed less than most beers, but perfect for this effort. 

Overall it’s a unique and yummy beer.  Thanks Tracy!

Mendelson Rating: 8.5/10

April 4th, 2010     Categories: Beer, Food    

Zinnebir Belgian Blonde Ale

If you’ve read my reviews on the deProef Signature Ale and Saison Dupont – Brasserie, this beer fits right in the middle of them. It’s the most complicated Belgian that I could recommend to a friend worried about accessibility. You’ll note that many of my reviews will talk about “accessibility” as I find that while I’m a total whore for Belgian beers, many are not.

This is a really special beer that is unlike anything that I’ve tasted. This is a mellow / sweet beer (not too sweet) that has a stronger finish that one might guess from the initial taste. There are hints of citrus, but my palette is not refined enough at this point to tell you what type. Still super yummy. I’ll make sure that I always have one of these in the beer fridge.

(Super cool – there is a Facebook Fan Page for the beer)

Mendelson Rating: 9/10

March 19th, 2010     Categories: Beer, Food    

St. Bernadus Abt 12


St. Bernardus Abt 12 has a great quote on its website regarding the water in its beer:

“Water, pumped up from a depth of 150 meter is the basis of all St. Bernardus beers. This water is not only the purest but has also a historical background. Scientists have proved that the water that is pumped up now, is originating from rainfall from the time of Jeanne d’Arc.”

How does any brewer compete with that? It’s not exactly Rocky Mountain water, but wow.

How about the beer? Nice. Real nice. It’s a bit darker that I would have expected. Call it carmel, but it’s not a dark beer and is nice and smooth. It’s perfect for a cold winter day. My biggest issues was pouring it. No matter how hard I tried the head on this beer was epic. The taste was extremely rich. It doesn’t taste like chocolate, but it’s all that I could think about while imbibing. If I were to guess fruits, I’d go with raisin, plum and maybe add in some spice and licorice (which I realize are not fruits).

This could be an after dinner drink even. It’s also over 10% alcohol, so you wouldn’t want to drink this in large quantities, either. This is definitely a sharing beer.

Mendelson Rating: 8.5/10

March 2nd, 2010     Categories: Beer, Food    

Saison Dupont Belgian Farmhouse Ale


When they say Farmhouse, they aren’t kidding! I’m not much for barns and farm animals, but if there was a good way to describe all of these aromas, they are in this beer. It’s a really nice and complex Saison Dupont offering, much more involved than their more standard “Brasserie” offering (also commonly called just Saison Dupont). Think a musty farmhouse, but yet still really attractive with a lighter body and a sharp front palette. It has some traditional Belgian bitterness, but is smooth with a dry finish. An excellently crafted beer this is a real treat. It’s light, but able to stand up to heartier dishes and is very unique.

Mendelson Rating: 9/10

February 11th, 2010     Categories: Beer, Food    

Maredsous Trippel Beer Review


When I started reviewing beers, I had two evil plans that lurked beneath the idea.

1. I wanted folks to send me ideas of what to drink next; and

2. I wanted really nice folks to send me free beer.

Mission accomplished.  (But that doesn’t mean quit sending me things.)

Today, I review this wonderful beer suggested to me to drink by Dave Davis, who was to cheap to send me a bottle, but we’ll forgive him this time. 

Maredsous Trippel. This is a wonderful trippel that is unique with a nice critus bite on the front and classic trippel finisn on the back end. Named after a Benedictine Monastery and currently produced by the Duvel brewery, it’s a very nice example of a tripel, albeit stronger and more pungent than the classic Westmalle variety.

Given that this beer comes in a large format wrapped in nice paper, this is also a great beer to take along to an event.  Interestingly enough, I’ve only been able to find this beer at my local Harvest Wine and Spirits and not even on Internet, where you see the more standard Maredsous 6, 8 and 10 offerings. 

Thanks Dave! 

Mendelson Rating: 8/10

January 21st, 2010     Categories: Beer, Food    

Saison Dupont Brasserie Beer Review


This is a very accessible beer even to those who think that Stella Artois represents great Belgian beer making.  (This is a nice way of saying even if you drink Coors light, this beer is drinkable for you). 

There is a lot of fruit here, in fact, I found myself sampling the nose as long as I would a more complicated pinot. As I previously mentioned, I’m new to this review thing, so bare with me with I attempt to tell you the nose was all orange and lemon, but pure smoothness was the taste. It is perfectly balanced.  The most unique thing about this beer is the incredibly long aftertaste.  And it’s a really pleasant experience.  Usually, I’m not into the long aftertaste, but in this case, I’m pleased to be part of the ride. 

I would say this is a perfect beer to introduce you Bud-drinking football buddies to, if you are trying to upgrade their taste.

Mendelson Rating: 8.5/10

January 12th, 2010     Categories: Beer, Food    

Beer Review – Midas Touch Golden Elixir

It’s the holidays and I’ve been sampling new beers like never before.  I have about a dozen to review.  But before I do, my new friend Larry Port offered to give y’all a run down on a beer that he’s excited about – Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch.  (I love Dogfish – great brewery).  Larry, take it away!

“First of all, let me say how honored I am to be the inaugural guest beer reviewer for Mendelson’s Musings. May this series be blessed with great new brews for all.

Now on to the beer.

The recipe for Midas Touch Golden Elixir is touted by its creator, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, as the “oldest-known fermented beverage in the world”. The origin of this beer has an interesting history.

Apparently, ancient Turkish kings were buried with bronze cisterns of beer, which, when you think about it, makes perfect sense and is a tradition in long need of restoring. One tomb in particular, from 8th Century BC, is believed to be that of King Midas and had enough residue in the beer vessels to recreate the brew. So an archaeochemist (a field of study I never knew existed but sounds very cool) named Patrick McGovern from Penn worked with Dogfish to reverse engineer the recipe.

Enough history. Here’s what counts:

When you open and pour Midas Touch, you know immediately you’re in for a treat. First, you can mesmerize your guests with the same historical anecdote I just relayed here (and if you can pull out the word “archaeochemist”, two points!).

Hops wasn’t used in beer in King Midas’ time, making this beer taste unlike any other brew you’ve tasted. Instead, the team used historically accurate yellow saffron as a bittering agent. Honey and something called “yellow muscat grapes” are also used in the recipe.

The color is a rich reddish brown and creates your typical foamy beer head. It pours and feels a bit thicker than your typical brew. Midas Touch has a distinct aroma of honey and spices, and has a heavy sweetness to it, not a light sweetness like you might experience with a wheat beer. There’s a lot of different, unusual flavors due to the saffron and honey. Even though hops isn’t present, there’s still a sense of bitterness, so the taste is not completely alien. It goes down smooth, in spite of the 9% alcohol content, and don’t be surprised if you reach for a second.

I don’t know that Midas Touch Golden Elixir will be a regular in the fridge, but it’s definitely worth trying and revisiting for a special treat.

Rating: 8/10 (though 10/10 for originality and uniqueness).

Larry Port is the Founding Partner and Chief Software Architect of Rocket Matter, the leading web-based legal practice management product. Larry has written extensively for legal publications, including Law Practice Today, Legal Management, ILTA’s Peer to Peer, FindLaw, Chicago Lawyer, and others. He can be reached on Twitter at or via email at larry (at) rocketmatter (dot) com.


January 8th, 2010     Categories: Beer, Food    

Oh Yeah! for O Ya – Boston Restaurant Review

Ryan and I had the great pleasure of dining at O Ya in Boston the other evening.  It’s fabulous. 

Billed as a “sushi restaurant” it’s so creative that defining it as such is disparaging.  It has all the creativity of Nobu (one of my all time favorites), but takes chances with simplicities such as a homemade potato chip on top of white rice with truffles on top, to daring fried Kumamoto oysters with yuzu aioli and squid-ink bubbles to over-the-top seared foie gras nigiri with balsamic chocolate kabayaki, raisin cocoa pulp and a sip of aged sake.

Every course of our dinner was something that we had never tasted before.  All perfectly balanced, served at proper temperature and carefully crafted.

The downsides?  The restaurant is hard to find (took our cab driver, how wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, 30 minutes), and is really small, so it’s hard to get in.  Also the coursing could have been faster.  While Ryan is a nice guy to share a dinner with, we didn’t need the 2.5 hour dinner pace, but these are nits on an otherwise stellar outing.

If in Boston, you must try.  Since I’m now going to Boston on a regular basis, send me other great ideas, if you have them.  Pictures of some of the food are below. 

The Kumamoto Oysters


The Potato Chip


The Foie Gras.  Yum!


December 17th, 2009     Categories: Food