Today’s Beer of the Month Club Review comes from Gourmet Monthly Club’s “Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club.” The two beer selections — Paddle Wheel Pale Ale and the Uncommon Stout — are from the Bent River Brewing Company in Moline, Illinois.
Beer Club Review
Usually, if someone told me to “get bent,” I would be offended. However, if by bent, they meant, the Bent River Brewing Company, I would happily take their advice and drink one of their brews, featured in this month’s Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club.
Beer—or any edible or quaffable product—usually tastes better if passion is amongst the ingredients. Maybe that’s why Bent River’s beers taste so good—the owner, Tim Koster, is literally living his dream.
Paddle Wheel Pale Ale
If you like your beer on the unfiltered side, this hazy ale—with its fairly opaque, amber visual—will make you happy. It’s got an approachable, mild flavor with hops contributing a trace of spice and a smattering of herbaciousness. It’s by no means minty fresh, but you may detect a hint of mint in those herb flavors—a refreshing surprise!
My first experience with the beer was a dinner of Paddle Wheel Pale Ale—two ways. The first: straight up, sipped from a pint glass. The second: in beef stir-fry as a pan deglazer to loosen all the caramelized brown bits of sautéed meats or veggies to ensure they make it into the final dish. Usually, vinegar or a wine is used, but why not try a pale ale? And so I did. I can’t say it was detectable in the final flavor of the stir-fry, but it did the trick.
I like my oatmeal in the morning but I also like it in my stouts. This intense coffee brew definitely took the cake as the roastiest beer in the Beer of the Month Club selection for December—or in recent past. It’s the Darth Vader of brews – it bares its dark soul to you as you take a sip and will make you sigh deeply as your taste buds try to process what just happened to them.
Bent River claims there are even leather notes to this beer and I wouldn’t disagree. That said, it’s not insanely bitter–just intense. I would pair this with food hesitantly—perhaps only as a small pour with something up to the challenge—like a pulled pork sandwich or scoop of vanilla ice cream. I’ve only managed to drink one so far and plan to bake with another next week in a devil’s food cake with chocolate ganache for my dad’s birthday.
The Bottom Line
Speaking of birthdays, my dad’s is the day after Christmas. Both birthdays and the upcoming holiday season are perfect excuses to gift your family or friends with the unbeatable surprise of a 12-pack on their doorstep on a monthly basis.
Learn more about the Microbrew Beer of the Month Club from Gourmet Monthly Clubs