One positive thing about Fayetteville, NC is that it carries a beer with which I am currently obsessed. I first discovered it in a Thomas Kinkaid-looking town called “Southern Pines” just an hour away. We were having lunch at this surprisingly wonderful gastropub called “The Sly Fox.” Owned and designed by a legit Brit and Chef, Mark Elliot. The food is delicious, (even rivaling some of my favorite gastropubs in San Diego) and the beer list is immense. There are nice wines and liquors, too but let’s face it; beer is and should be the highlight of any place with the word “pub” in its title.
The beer I discovered here is called “Dragon’s Milk Bourbon Barrel Stout” by New Holland. It’s an American Double/Imperial Stout with 10% ABV. Admittedly, I was originally drawn to this beer by the high alcohol level. I hate to be a giant girl (although I am a giant girl; see photo with Grandma below…) but beer makes me full really fast, so I tend to go for beers that are more efficient and will get the job down without having to drink too many. For the same reason, I was also happy to find that Dragon’s Milk is more syrupy than carbonated. It has a small, tan, foamy head and is opaquely black. To me, it tastes like chocolate syrup with notes of coffee and cedar as it warms up. But with the first chill, there are more hopsy and slightly sour notes (in a pleasant way.) I’ve read reviews and some pros may find it to be overdone but I find it to be luxurious. Plus, it paired beautifully with the grass-fed beef burger I had at the Sly Fox and I wanted my husband to replicate the experience for me last night.
I was overruled on the grass-fed beef, however; when you are moving in seven days, you have to clean out the fridge. So I had to settle for the Wal-Mart ground beef nearing freezer burn. But Kellan (Husband) did a great job seasoning the patties and I sauteed up some mushrooms and onions. He topped the patties with aged cheddar, bacon, the mushrooms and onions and served it up with a side of sweet potato fries (courtesy of Ore-Ida). He plated it beautifully and I was inspired. What else would pair well with this Instagram-worthy burger? So out came the wine and the bourbon, too.
I had already purchased the Dragon’s Milk at the local shop “Grapes and Hops,” a store with a great beer selection and a not-so-great, overpriced wine selection. The Dragon’s Milk is expensive at $16.99 for a four pack, but after just two of them, you’re done for the day anyway.
The wine we chose we call our “wedding wine” but its true name is “Harp Tree.” It is a 103 case production of a 2010 North Coast Cabernet that a great winemaker, Monty Pulsen, made specially for our company and that the owners, Brendan and Chrissy (love them!) had a few cases privately labeled for us as a wedding gift. The wine was perfect with the burgers. It has just enough tannin to cut through the chewy proteins of the beef but is approachable enough to sip on its own. We’ve loved this Cab for Summertime Red wine drinking for this reason. The mouthfeel is almost silky with just the right amount of red currants and a hint of spice from the 10% Syrah that Monty used.
The bourbon I chose is a bourbon to which my Kentucky Bell grandmother, Loretta, introduced me and is one of the few bourbons I will purchase for myself. I hate to be a snob, but I am. To me, a low-end bourbon is more painful than cheap tequila. With all the new American Oak and/or Maple wood filtering typically used in bourbons and Tennessee whiskey, the style can be almost sweet with coconut and abrasive tannins. Not my style. But this bourbon, “Maker’s Mark 46,” spends 46 days on French Oak staves (wood chips). I love it. The French Oak mitigates the tannic bite and adds some lovely Carmel notes to the finish. And the burgers highlighted the smokiness of the bourbon. Delightful.
The meal was delicious and it was a great Thursday night. We basically stuffed our faces, caught a buzz and fell asleep watching “Shark Week.” If you are pitying us right now, stop it. I have a full bar at home, a man that can cook, a 60 inch TV and my best friend. With all that and no one having to play Designated Driver, why go out? Duh.