Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Oh yeah??? Prove it!!!

I heard good things about Sly Fox [Phoenixville, PA] from a CoolRunning compatriot, but had reservations about a brewer who would DARE to release a craft brew in aluminum cans. I appreciated the balls required. It is hard enough to start-up in the craft brew field, even if you do have a good product. But to put it out in cans …???

I remember a little operation known as Otto’s which created an Oat Bran beer, and set that loose upon the Pennsylvania countryside, in little silver cans back in the early 90’s. Their only purpose was to get PA couch potatoes to lower their cholesterol by drinking beer. The Sly Fox cans although wonderfully decorated were only offered in 12-packs, wrapped in cardboard boxes that reminded me of the bulk packaging of soup at the local warehouse mart.

As much good press as Sly Fox got, it was still a mythical creature … quality beer, from Pennsylvania [nothing new there; PA’s been bringing the love for years], in an aluminum can [huh??? Steel maybe, but aluminum, I don’t know?]

I dismissed it; much as Pennsylvanians dismiss the Jersey Devil; they’ve never seen it and since they have no backwoods boogeyman to call their own, why should we?

Note: Though I’ve never seen the Jersey Devil, I have heard it … not something I want to do again. Imagine the sound of a goose slowly being strangled shifting to a woman’s shriek and then to a baby’s cry fading into the misty forest on a moonlit night. It ain’t pleasant.

When 22 oz. bottles of Sly Fox appeared on the cervezeria shelf, I found a gateway and a loophole. It would be best to sample the PA brewery first on tap, failing that a nice big bottle is a reasonable option. I could see what they had to offer and if it was good … it was legitimately good; if it was bad, I couldn’t blame it on the can.

My first bottle was Sly Fox Instigator Doppelbock. Not being a connoisseur of bocks, single, doppel or otherwise, I just let it be what it was. It was enjoyable like kicked up root beer or Dr. Pepper.

Then I opened a Sly Fox Rte. 113 India Pale Ale. Now, I really like the IPA’s [although I don’t fully understand the whole IBU measuring system … How can a guy look out the window, see a Rte. 113 sign and say “I want to make an IPA that’s 113 IBU” Is there math involved??? A formula??? I always thought the hoppiness (however they measure it) could not be controlled but was just a magical outcome.

With Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA being my baseline [10], Rte. 113 scored a 9.25 – comparable with Victory HopDevil.

With two very enjoyable bottles under my belt [literally] I felt prepared to crack open the cans.

I chose to stick with the IPAs - Sly Fox Phoenix IPA.

Let me just say this; it felt very weird pouring a CAN of beer into a pint glass. Some beers NEED to be drunk straight for a can or bottle, for the sole reason that the aroma is so detrimental to the taste. I drank Yeungling from a glass once … never again.

That being said, Phoenix IPA is beyond can-worthy. It is very enjoyable from a glass and I can imagine would be very good on tap. It’s a little light and a bit weak to make it into the 9’s of my IPAs, but we finally have a decent foundation for “Beer Can Chicken” with something other than NASCAR beers.

Beer Can Roasted Herb Chicken
Show: Dinner: Impossible
Episode: Beg, Borrow and Steal: Tailgating: Impossible – featuring the Philadelphia Eagles Fans!!!

4 tablespoons of your favorite dry spice rub
3 teaspoons kosher salt
4 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
4 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
4 (1 1/2-pound) frying chickens
4 cans beer, your choice, exterior of can rinsed

In a large mixing bowl, combine the rub, salt, rosemary, thyme and parsley. Rub inside cavity of chicken with mixture and heat grill. Open each can of beer, pour out (or drink) about 1/4 of the contents and place a chicken on end over the open can of beer with the tips of the legs pointing down. As the chicken cooks on the outside, the beer will get hot and steam the inside. Remove chicken from grill when cooked and let rest. Remove beer can from each chicken. Carve chicken into portions and serve.

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