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As I was scoping out some of the different beer blogs that are all over the ‘net I noticed a post on B.C. Beer Blog about a cheesecake made with Russian Imperial Stout.  “I like Russian Imperial Stouts and I like cheesecake,” I said to myself.  I often talk to myself.  So I started perusing the recipe (adapted here for a US audience):

beer-1742_1280x960.JPGRussian Imperial Stout Cheesecake

1 1/2 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs
2 tbsp white sugar
1/2 cup melted butter

32oz (4 8oz pkgs Philadelphia) cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
1 lb dark chocolate melted in a double boiler
12oz Russian Imperial Stout (room temperature, degassed)
4 large eggs at room temperature

Preheat oven to 325°F (or 300°F if using a dark pan). Grease the sides of 9? spring form pan and cover bottom with wax paper. Mix crumbs, 2 tbsp sugar, and melted butter in a bowl until evenly blended; press firmly onto the bottom of the pan with a fork.

Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth, then add remaining ingredients (except eggs) at medium speed until well blended. On low speed, add eggs one at a time, mixing each until just blended. Pour batter over crust.

Bake 55-60 minutes or until center is almost set. Loosen cake from side of pan by running a paring knife around the inside edge. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature before removing side of pan. Refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight. Store any leftover cheesecake in the refrigerator.

Adapted from Michel Brown’s Russian Imperial Stout Cheesecake by Fred Eckhardt in Northwest Brewing News, Feb/Mar 2008, Volume 7 Number 1, pg. 29.

The author of BC beer blog mentions a method of degassing the beer, personally I think it’s just easier pouring the beer into a bowl and whisking it until it seems degassed.  Also, the author makes no mention of the cheesecake being cooked in a water bath, but seeing how that’s the only way I’ve ever cooked cheesecake, I went about using one.  Using a water bath added about an extra half hour to the cooking time, but your mileage may very.

I ended up using Founders Breakfast Stout as my RIS of choice as I thought the chocolate and coffee notes in the beer would really enhance the cake.  Did they?  I don’t know, I’d almost have to make a separate cake using a different beer to see the difference. I think almost any RIS would work well in the beer, so use the one you like best.

I ended up using a very bitter chocolate which made the cake very bitter as well.  This wasn’t a bad thing for me as I love a bitter chocolate dessert, but if bitter chocolate isn’t your thing you may want to try a very high end milk chocolate and see how it turns out.  If you do end up trying this out, let me know your results.

ofallon.jpgA few weeks ago, you may remember me mentioning O’Fallon was working on a new seasonal beer, a Cocoa Cream Stout. Well, O’Fallon head brewer Brian Owens reports in the STL Hops forums today that the beer is now available at Cicero’s for tonight’s beer school. Brian describes the beer as such:

This is a chewy milk stout using lactose and malto-dextrin with 50lbs of lowfat cocoa tossed into the kettle of each batch. Coffee and chocolate notes throughout.

With this cold front moving through tonight, it looks like we may finally have some wonderful fall weather that can match up to tonight’s chilly temperatures.

beer-342_1280×960.jpgI’m not much of a Christmas person. I didn’t used to be this way, I used to love this time of year. The lights, the food, the gifts and getting together with family used to make it all worthwhile. But as I’ve grown older it all just doesn’t do it for me like it used to. But maybe that’s all beginning to change as I begin looking forward to all of the Christmas beers that breweries put out during the holiday season.

beer-343_1280×960.jpgI was given the Michelob 2007 Holiday Gift Pack (appropriately as a gift) and we decided to catch up on Heroes while trying the beers contained within the rocket shaped bottles. First off it’s a lovely package containing two glasses that will help the any beer drinker to really pick up the aroma of the beer. Contained in this year’s release is Celebrate Chocolate Lager (which was first released last year) and the new Celebrate Cherry Lager.

beer-347_1280×960.jpgWhen I first opened the Chocolate Lager, I didn’t quite understand what they were going for with the packaging. I assume the cone shaped cap was to be removed and then I would open the bottle via a bottle opener. It wasn’t until I ripped the cone-cap off that I realized that I was supposed to twist the entire cap off. Not that it has anything to do with the beer, but while the bottles were pretty unusual, a twist-off cap seems a bit low brow.

beer-348_1280×960.jpgBut like I said, the packaging nothing to do with the beer itself, and the beer is the only thing that really matters. I poured Irene and myself the Chocolate Lager first into the two glasses provided within the package. It pours clear and has a dark brown, chocolaty color. I didn’t pick up much chocolate in the aroma, but it was slightly there. Plenty of malt in the aroma as well as a strong alcohol smell (both beers were 8.5%.) No real discernible hop smell though I don’t think it would pair very well with the chocolate.

I really enjoyed the body on this beer, it was full and almost silky. It really filled the mouth and left me really wanting more. At first sip it had a slight chocolate flavor. But I found that the more it warmed the chocolate starting moving forward in both the smell and the flavor, but at no time did it overpower the malt character. I found this to be a very well balanced and tasty beer. If AB sold this in 6-packs I may even pick it up as an occasional change of pace.

As Irene doesn’t drink much beer (or alcohol in general) she was feeling pretty fine after her first couple of glasses of the Chocolate and was primed for the Cherry lager. I opened this bottle correctly and poured into our cleaned glasses. beer-359_1280×960.jpgI poured with a lovely cherry-amber color that I really enjoyed. It still looked like a beer and didn’t look like a blazing red stoplight. The aroma was similar to that of maraschino cherries which was very dominate and overpowered almost every other smell in the aroma. The beer also tasted of maraschino cherries, but at no time was cloying. The beer was sweet, but not overly sweet. If you’re a fan of these cherries, then you’ll probably love the beer as an after dinner aperitif. But I couldn’t personally see drinking this on a regular basis.

Overall, I think this is the perfect gift to give to some of the Light Lager drinkers in your life to show them a beer that can have more flavor and aroma than the beer they’re currently drinking. This could be the elusive gateway beer you’ve been looking for and a great Christmas gift as well. Maybe that’s what I need to lift my Christmas spirits as well, more beer.

(My thoughts on the Brewmaster’s Reserve beer also pictured above will come next week. I plan on sharing some of it with Bill during our Festivus celebration Friday night.)