willandmegan

"Stuart rose from the ditch, climbed into his car, and started up the road that led toward the north…. As he peeked ahead into the great land that stretched before him, the way seemed long. But the sky was bright, and he somehow felt he was headed in the right direction." (from Stuart Little by E.B. White)


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No Guts No Glory – Pumpkin Ale Tasting

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On Sunday September 15th, Megan and I had an adventurous day spurred on by our desire to enjoy an approaching fall-like climate. We completed a blog more fit for the month of October, but figured it should be shared sooner than never. After a quiet date in the park with talks about our family and upcoming wedding, we decided to bike to Penfield. On the way home a beautiful monarch butterfly specimen appeared before our feet on the sidewalk. It was fully intact and fully dead. Score one for our butterfly/moth collection!

We then took the monarch in a plastic case and continued onward with plans to start a pumpkin ale tasting. While Megan prepared pasta for dinner I setup a simple arrangement with mason jar mugs and faux Fall berry decor. Not bad eh? Here are the results of our tasting with notes on flavors/aroma. I opted not to go into specifics with color as there clearly isn’t an extreme variation from one ale to another.

-w&m

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AMERICA’S ORIGINAL PUMPKIN ALE

ALE BREWED WITH REAL PUMPKIN AND NATURAL SPICE FLAVOR

BUFFALO BILL’S BREWERY

This beer has a complexity of flavors which we noted as uncommon for pumpkin ale. To me it smelled like a vanilla flavored tootsie roll. 

There was a subtle sweetness like molasses with the consistency of syrup. The flavor of molasses was complimented by bitter black cherry and oats. The aroma also came through as artificial spice similar to men’s deodorant.

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Wolavers fine organic ales

Pumpkin Ale

BREWED WITH VERMONT PUMPKINS

This ale brewed in Vermont had a bland flavor from start to finish. It has floral aromas and a lasting sweetness like nectar, but really too much spice and not enough pumpkin. We both noted what smelled like lavender, but why in a pumpkin ale?

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Dogfish Head (7% Alc.)

Pumpkin Ale brewed with pumpkin, brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg

We were excited about this ale from Dogfish Head as they listed specific ingredients as well as alcohol content. As much as it seemed to smell like moss/dew, It was very malty with the satisfying sweetness of caramelized sugar. The bitter notes came through like a salty pretzel and the vanilla-like undertones reminded meg of marshmallow.

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Blue Point Pumpkin Ale

Malt beverage brewed with pumpkin and spices

This ale was highly aromatic and reminded Meg of some “hippy head shop”. It had the aroma of incense, creek water, pine, lemon peel and patchouli. The flavors came through as too intense and sickening for my likes, but I could taste something like sandalwood oil which reminded me of bitter chocolate. Along with the standard nutmeg, cinnamon, spice you expect from a pumpkin ale this one offers a unique variety of flavors. Maybe more acceptable to those who aren’t a fan of pumpkin beers.

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Post Road Pumpkin Ale (5% Alc.)

Ale brewed with pumpkin and spices

This ale had a nice peach aroma that reminded me of a White Ale by Hitachino Nest. The flavor is zesty like orange peel with a crisp opening, but overall watered-down experience. There are some light notes of nut and floral and a lasting bitterness.

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Crack It Open – Coconut Chocolate Tasting

coconut full display edit

Last night we created one of the most elaborate tasting displays to date in our long awaited Coconut Chocolate Tasting. To gauge the level of my anticipation for said tasting, 4/5 of the bars shown were purchased a month in advance along with the coconut and coconut milk (for aesthetic purposes). The final installment is a brand called RitterSport and was purchased by Megan a week ago during her trip to Germany. Whoot for our first German brand chocolate included in the lineup! The first thing I noticed upon a quick overview of packaging is the occurrence of blue/turquoise as a color choice from brand to brand. Does blue indicate the cool refreshing feeling of a bite into raw coconut? Well this tasting is equally about the chocolate as it is the coconut. Which chocolate company effectively blends the flavor and texture of coconut with milk/dark chocolate?

*Note* I’d like to state that the bars we chose cover a variety of approaches to the inclusion of coconut. Our tastes may vary differently from yours. We felt that a broad spectrum of very simple additives to extremely complex spices/flavor would make the tasting more interesting. We hope you feel the same. Enjoy!

-w&m

alter eco coc edit

1.) Alter Eco Dark Coconut Toffee (47% cocoa) ~$3.88 2.82 oz.

This bar opens up with a bright warm flavor that has the crunch of toffee bits and sweetness of a frappucino. The overwhelming abundance of large organically shaped chunks of toffee removes any opportunity for coconut to shine through. However, the satisfying bite of salt, undertones of butter and oats make this bar hard to put down. Think of it like a dessert!

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2.) GOOD CACAO – Coconut Omega-3 (72% Dark Cacao) ~$4.89 1.5 oz.

The super dark tone of this bar is intriguing along with its bright white flecks of coconut on the underside. The flavors are slow to release, but gradually move from cool notes of floral to dried fruit and cinnamon. It has a very fine and fibrous texture throughout. Imagine the subtle aroma of good perfume and taste of apricot. By far one of the most complex bars we have tasted to date. Take one look at the list of ingredients such as Raw Lucuma and Nutri Plankton and you won’t feel guilty indulging on this bar.

ritter sport kokos edit

3.) Ritter SPORT KOKOS (45% Milch-Creme) ~$1.20  3.52 oz. (price conversion from Euros!)

Meg describes this German native bar close to the Almond Joy, but more specifically “Heaven On Crack”. It has a rich creamy outer layer with a coconut frosting-like inner layer. In my mind it tasted like someone took a box of Samoas Girl Scout Cookies and condensed them into one chocolate bar. If you aren’t a health freak with concerns for emulsifiers, corn syrup and the like, this bar is for you.

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4.) sweetriot KICKIN’ COCONUT (70% Dark Chocolate) ~$3.99 3.5 oz.

The use of texture in this bar is well done, however it doesn’t have much coconut flavor. The buttery notes of the chocolate itself stand out along with a hint of floral that wants to jump to your taste buds, but never quite makes it. A sweet tasting bar with great texture, but doesn’t deliver in overall flavor.

theo coc curry edit

5.) theo Coconut Curry Milk Chocolate (45% Cacao) ~$3.25 2 oz.

The first warning I heed is that this is not your mamas chocolate bar. The level of spices and fiery intensity that comes in this little package is quite delectable to some.  The oily consistency comes with a bitter twist of dried spice bits that bite your tongue periodically. Expect the cardamom to overcome your senses along with undertones of cayenne and mustard. From start to finish this bar delivers in flavor complexity, intensity and some level of texture, but no coconut flavor.


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Water tower (18)

“The Steam Barrel”

Located on Waddell Rd. in Clifton Springs, NY

Characteristics: Steel beam foundation, constructed of wood boards ribbed with metal rods, conical top with roof like shingles, no text.

Details: Tank capacity was 40,000 gallons during its use for steam locomotives. To locate, take Route 96 to Clifton Springs NY. From 96 turn onto 488 and travel south through Orleans. In a few miles before 488 continues on and passes by county rd. 20 and 23 make a left on Waddell Rd. The tower is located near a hiking trail and can be seen from the intersection of Waddell and 488.


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Water tower (17)

“Wolcott UFO”

Located in Wolcott, NY

Characteristics: Teal painted metal coloration, unusually large diameter, text (WOLCOTT) on South facing side, unique metal wire star surrounded by a circle atop of the container.

Details: Situated next to private property. Can be seen from 104 but difficult to see inside the town.


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Water tower (16)

“WA”

Located in Penfield, NY

Characteristics: Cylindrical from bottom to spherical top, text (black and blue WA meaning Water Authority), storage tank construction, hexagonal shaped metal hardware on top center of tank.

Details: Situated across from the Penfield Wegmans inside Penfield Park.


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Water tower (15)

“Walworth”

Located on Atlantic Ave in Walworth, NY

Characteristics: Cylindrical from bottom to spherical top, light blue coloration, small metal cylinder on top center, text (WALWORTH)

Details: If driving east on Atlantic from 250 it will be on the right approx. 5 miles down the road. The tower sits on top of a hill to your right.


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Water tower (14)

“Ontario”

Located on Ridge Rd. east of Ontario Center Ontario, NY

Characteristics: Light rust from bottom of container down to legs, teal coloration, block letter text (ONTARIO), spherical top.

Details: Take Rt. 104 to Ontario Center and head east on Ridge Rd. Drive a little over one mile and the tower will appear on your left just after a hair salon. It is near the Ontario fireman field and can also be viewed from 104 and Ontario Center Rd. near Wayne Central School.