Dansk Mjød Viking Blod

Despite the fact that, like many people, I favor certain beer types over others, I relish the opportunity to try new beers. However, it’s very rare that I come across something very new and different. Perhaps I just need to try harder, if my liver will allow me? So when I saw Dansk Mjød Viking Blod on the menu in Tucson and read its description, there was little chance I would not order it. Honestly, just on the name alone I would have ordered it. The menu described it as a “honey wine” and in reality it is definitely a mead. Mead is created by fermenting honey with water and sometimes with various fruits, spices, grains, or hops. This particular brew is from Denmark and consists of Honey, water, hops, dried hibiscus, and “various spices” per their website. The alcohol content of mead can be anywhere from 8% to over 20% with this weighing in at a very respectable 19%.

Sweeter beers are nothing new in this day and age however Viking Blod is intensely sweet which some may not appreciate. It feels thicker, almost like nectar, and there is
only a hint of carbonation. All of that combined with it’s high alcohol content makes for quite a different experience. Likely because as already covered, this is a mead and not a beer despite it being listed with other beers on the menu. I imagine that is intentional; that if it was listed under a “Mead” section, it might result in decrease sales. Personally, I greatly enjoyed Viking Blod and not just for the name. Not only is it very different, I found it to be not filling at all which I attribute to its minimal carbonation. So, if you ever see this (or other mead) listed on a beer menu, you want something very different, and you are not afraid to jump out of your comfort zone, definitely give this a try.

Eating on a Recommendation

While in Montreal, Teena and I decided to eat one night at a place recommended by Anthony Bourdain. That place? The simply if not comically named Joe Beef. Despite everything I read online about needing to make reservations a month ahead of time, we were able to get Saturday night reservations calling just the night prior. The restaurant itself is located outside of downtown Montreal on Rue Notre-Dame West. It appeared to be a one block oasis of dining and entertainment set amongst homes and apartments. For us, it was a perfect 25 minute walk from our hotel, but could definitely be longer depending on where you were staying in Montreal, so a cab (or Über) may be necessary.

We actually arrived a bit early and our table was also ready somewhat early from our designated reservation time. One immediately notices how warm, cozy, and intimate the establishment is, especially in regards to the table next to you. The menu, wine list, and drink list is written on a chalkboard in French and difficult to read in the dim lighting. Not to worry as the wait staff have the menu pretty much memorized. I can see how some may not like the atmosphere. It could be considered claustrophobic and you can’t help but hear img_0580your neighboring diner’s conversation. If you are one who likes your dining establishments somewhat standard, this may not be the place for you. I know my father would be irritated and might lend to the concept of the “rude American”.  I started off with the Oysters. They had a selection of three kinds from various Canadian locals. Unfortunately, other than the one’s from Prince Edward Island, I don’t remember where the other two were from. I opted for a half dozen equally divided amongst the three. All fantastic. Admittedly, I’ve been on an oyster kick since my initiation to them almost a year ago in Vancouver. I also guess it’s hard to mess up oysters unless you let them sit for days in the heat before serving them.

My main entree was related to me by our waitress as a “beef brisket” and in actuality it was more in line with a beef burgundy. I wish I could say I liked it as much as my oysters. I found the beef to vary between dry and less dry. The vegetables were good and would have been even better if the stock was not so bland. Overall, I felt let down by the entree.

Their wine list is extensive and I have to commend them on this. You could find any type of wine to pair well with your meal and even wines to pair with contrasting meals as Teena had a white fish entree. As we were both in the mood for a red, the 2014 Christopher Pacalet Chenas was a nice, light beaujolais that complimented both our meals well.

In summary the staff, oysters, and wine are great and the atmosphere is dependent on the diner’s tastes. As for the entrees, to be fair since I’ve only dined there once, I’ll say are hit or miss. While I’m an avid fan of Anthony Bourdain, I have to admit, I was expecting to be blown away by this meal and I just wasn’t.

Lambics- Mort Subite

For those who love beer and aren’t scared to try something very different, give a lambic a try. After tasting them, you may question if these are really beers and I assure you they are. Lambics are brewed in the Pajottenland region of Belgium southwest of Brussels and in Brussels itself at the Cantillon Brewery. As opposed to other beers, which are fermented with carefully cultivated strains of brewer’s yeast, lambic is fermented spontaneously by being exposed to wild yeasts and bacteria native to the Zenne valley in which Brussels lies. This process gives the beer its distinctive flavour: dry, vinous, and cidery, usually with a sour aftertaste.

I’ve had numerous lambics in the past and I’ve found them to be too sour for my taste. img_0589Mort Subite or Sudden Death was a nice change for me. Don’t let the name fool you, it actually has a low alcohol content of 4.5 percent. What makes me like this lambic over others is that it has a perfect balance of sweet and sour. It’s starts off sweet with raspberry flavors and finishes tart. Just enough of each to make it very interesting and enjoyable. Again, if you like your beers standard and bland, this is probably not for you. However, if you have braved the variety that is out there such as IPA’s, porters, and wheat beers and want something very different, give a lambic a try, especially this one.