Monday, November 9, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Sahara Mart East in Bloomington, Indiana is a fantastic place to find many rare beers. I happened upon two bottles of my favorite (and sadly discontinued) beer, Liefmans Goundenband. They were vastly underselling them at $5.50 a bottle. Travis and I decided to open one with dinner the other night, as I thought its sour qualities would pair well with our steak and goat cheese mashed potatoes. Sadly, it was way past its prime. The amount of sediment made the mouthfeel wholly unpleasant, and the sour fruit I so love in the taste fell very flat.
I'm still holding out hope for the other bottle, but am banking on disappointment.
Monday, August 31, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Travis and I bought our first pet together and named him Napoleon.
He is beautiful and smarter than your average fish, I swear!
I have some beerific recipes planned for this week including slow cooker chili and provençal beef stew. I spent the last year cooking dinner for my parents almost every night with no real food budget. It was wonderful to be able to experiment with all sorts of ingredients and dishes. Cooking on a very tight budget (a just found out we're looking at $21,000 worth of loans budget) has proven to be a blast in an entirely different way. Boneless beef chuck and our slow cooker have proven to be my best friends.
Life is stressful to the max, but good. I miss my friends. You're the only missing parts in this most excellent equation. By the by, the picture at the top of this post is another from our honeymoon. We were at Pride Mountain Vineyards on top of Spring Mountain outside of St. Helena. Super beautiful.
Monday, August 24, 2009
The wedding and the honeymoon are over. Life has resumed. We are in Indiana, and I am beginning the job search. We have 4 cases of beer with us, all left over from the festivities. Life is good. Also, we went on a hot air balloon ride. It was badass.
I cut my hair, and it feels great.
Our new apartment is full of love and beer.
-1 case Victory Prima Pils
-1 case Victory Lager
-1 case Victory Whirlwind Wit
-1 case of mixed (mostly La Fin Du Monde)
-assorted bottles of whatever we could grab before we left
I reiterate, LIFE IS GOOD.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
In addition to the beer thing, my other (probably larger) hobby is cooking. When I can combine the 2, it becomes a giant Voltron of joy for me.
Tonight Travis and his parents are coming in from Ohio for the wedding. Side note: one week until we're married ohmygoodness! I'm making etouffé, which is a sort of similar to gumbo, but sort of not.
Chicken, Sausage and Shrimp Etouffé
-2 T extra virgin olive oil
-2 pounds andouille, chorizo or any other smoked sausage links
-1 whole chicken, skin on, broken down into 8 pieces
-20-25 medium shrimp with the tails left on, peeled and deveined
-kosher salt and pepper to taste
-4 T unsalted butter
-1.25 cups of all-purpose flour
-2 medium onions, roughly chopped
-1 green bell pepper, roughly chopped
-1 poblano pepper, roughly chopped
-4 ribs of celery, roughly chopped
-8 cloves of garlic
-2 twelve ounce bottles/cans of beer
---I like a darker, full-bodied beer for this. Nothing to heavy or malty, so steer clear of stouts and porters. I'm using a doppelbock.
-8 cups (64 oz) low-sodium chicken broth
-4 bay leaves
-4 T paprika
-1 t cayenne pepper
-1 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
-4 scallions (whites and greens), diced
Get out your largest pot/dutch oven and set over medium to medium-high heat, depending on the strength of your burners. Add the olive oil and let heat. Add all of the sausage links and brown while some of the fat renders out. Remove the links before they're cooked through and set aside. Season the chicken pieces liberally with salt and pepper, add to pot skin side down. Cover and cook for 7-10 minutes to render the fat from the skin. Flip the pieces and continue to cook until they brown. Remove pieces and set aside.
Keep pot over medium to medium-high heat and add the butter to the fat in the bottom of the pot. Add the flour and whisk to incorporate, then switch to a flat whisk or wooden spoon. Cook the mixture, stirring often, until it is brown, about the color of peanut butter. A good brown roux should take about a beer or 10-12 minutes.
Get out a large capacity food processor and add onion, celery, poblano, bell pepper, and garlic, pulse to roughly chop. Add this mixture to the pot with the roux and stir with the flat whisk/wooden spoon. Cook for 5-7 minutes, then deglaze the pot with the beer. Add the stock, bay leaves, paprika and cayenne. Return the chicken pieces to the pot and simmer for one hour or until the chicken is tender. Remove the chicken pieces and shred the meat. Discard all the bones and return the meat to the pot. Cut the sausage into 1 inch chunks and add to the pot to heat through.
While the sausage is cooking, place a skillet over medium heat. Drizzle about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and let heat. Season shrimp with salt and pepper and cook in the skillet. Add the shrimp to the pot with everything else just before serving. Season the etouffé with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and garnish with parsley and scallions.
Serve over rice. Tonight I'm serving this with homemade cornbread and a simple salad, with plenty of hot sauce options on the side.
Pair this dish with a crisp, floral beer. Slight acidity or citrus flavors present would be preferable. Try an IPA that's not too harsh on the IBUs or a wheat, saison, or belgian tripel. Enjoy!
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Ok, so I lied. I will not be updating with pictures or reviews of the beer I purchased today. Instead I am watching Ghost Hunters International on the SyFy (what is that all about?) channel and drinking wine. Yes, wine. Red wine. Delicious wine. Funky, old-world delicous red wine. See how multidimensional I am?
You must get better soon! I need to see you the maximum amount before the wedding. I'll be back in PA on Friday evening, so get ready.
I also want you (and C-Bear) to visit us in Indiana. Good beer, good friends, and good times are all here. I miss you.
Sahara Mart East in Bloomington, Indiana has the best selection of beer I have ever seen, and their prices are good to boot!
I bought four 750ml bottles of some of the best beer ever made for $31.00 total. Supreme excellence.
I will update with pics of said beers and reviews later tonight.
In other news, our apartment is looking great! I put up a bunch of family and friend photos. Now it truly feels like a home. I also found out that auto insurance is much cheaper in IN than in PA. Bonuses, bonuses!
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Prepared beer. Beer-based cocktails are popular throughout much of Latin America. One of the most popular is the Michelada. Travis and I experimented with this a bit tonight to pair with the Ceviche Tacos I made for dinner.
2 oz (about 1/4 cup) fresh squeezed lime juice
1/4 teaspoon soy sauce
1/4 hot sauce (I used Tobasco, but I bet Chalula would be better.)
2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
12 oz bottle of Mexican Lager (I used Pacifico, but Tecante, Corona, XX, etc would work)
Rub the top of a glass with a lime wedge and rim in coarse salt.
Pour lime juice, soy sauce, hot sauce, and Worcestershire into rimmed glass and stir to combine.
Pour chilled lager over the top or serve over ice.
Garnish with a lime wedge
The verdict: Both Travis and I decided this concoction was not for us. I think I may have liked it more minus the Worcestershire and soy sauces and served with a darker beer--Negra Modelo, perhaps. It was a fun experiment, but I prefer my beer unadulterated.
**Recipe courtesy of the August issue of Martha Stewart Living (Nerd Alert).
In case you're interested:
1.25 pounds of sushi-grade fish (I used tilapia, but I would have preferred yellowtail had it been available)
5 Tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice
5 Tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons sugar
1 Tablespoon of the juice from a jar of pickled jalapeños
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 fresh jalapeño, minced (discard the seeds if you want to cut out some of the heat)
1/2 of a red onion, diced
1 fresh avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
Fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
12 crispy taco shells
Cut fish into 1/2 inch cubes, season with sea salt and pepper.
In a glass bowl, combine lime and lemon juices sugar. Add fish cubes to the mixture and toss to coat. Cover, place in the fridge for no less than 4 and no more than 6 hours (until fish no longer looks raw), mixing occasionally.
When the fish is ready, drain off the excess liquid and toss with pickled jalapeño juice and olive oil.
Spoon into taco shells and garnish with fresh jalapeño, red onion, avocado, and cilantro.
These were pretty good. I followed a stock recipe I found, and there were a lot of things I would change. I think garlic and some citrus segment would be a nice addition to the curing liquid, for instance.
Oh yeah, and I may post recipes on here from time to time. I enjoy cooking and do a good deal of it.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Style: Belgian Pale Ale, some label it a Saison
Color: pale marigold
Head: Thin, lacy, leaves what I like to call "paw prints" on the glass
Taste: Dominant florals and grapefruit, very citrus on the aftertaste
This beer is very drinkable and tasty, but not complex. Still, on a hot summer evening, it tasted pretty damn good. B.
Ommegang Hennepin, Cooperstown, NY
11.2 fl oz draught
Color: Pale, golden honey with a slight head
Nose: Overwhelming spice and citrus
Taste: Typical citrus peel, abrasive alcohol, latent sweetness, tart, too astringent and slightly metallic.
Before I had tried a lot of beers I used to love this. It was one of my go to brews. Now I am not a huge fan. C, maybe even C-
It's been a hell of a week.
Chimay Grand Réserve or Chimay Blue
11.2 fl oz bottle
Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Color: opaque dark reddish-brown
Head: cream-colored, disappears quickly and leaves hardly any trace on the glass
Nose: raw meat, cellar must, old water, lemon, and a bit of sea air
Taste: malty caramel and copper, slightest tinge of sea water, well balanced between sweet and bitter.
This ale leaves a lingering heat on the back of the throat long after the last sip.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Travis and I are preparing for our big move to Indiana. We spent all day yesterday packing and a large part of this afternoon and Ikea. I drank a nice variety of beers over the last few days, all of which I will review tomorrow when I find my notes.
I am really looking forward to having our own space. It will be a welcome change from our current situation. I am not, however, looking as forward to Bloomington, Indiana. It seems like a nice enough place with nice enough people, but the beer scene is pretty meager. There are two breweries in the Bloomington area and I'm not too impressed with either. They both make the standard six: Pale Ale, Amber Ale, Porter, Stout, Wheat, and one seasonal rotation. Boring. I sincerely hope a visit and a taste prove me wrong, but I'm not banking on it.
Indiana may not be an ideal location, but I'm still looking forward to starting over somewhere new with the man I love. It's so temporary (2 years) that it's really not worth getting worked up over.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
My jobless celebration happened to coincide with a Boaks food-pairing event. Boaks is a small, one man brewery out of Pompton Lakes, NJ. The brewer, Brian Boaks, sat with us for a moment while we ate our second course of foie gras and pork cheeks. This dish was paired, by the restaurant, with Boaks Monster Mash Imperial Stout (the darker brew in my right hand).
Dark brownish/black coffee color
Traditional stout notes of malty sweetness, dark chocolate, and coffee. Had rather unexpected hints of black-strap molasses and cigar tobacco, coppery finish. This was not an overly aggressive stout, lighter in body than most with a taste that did not belie its high alcohol content. Sweet, bitter, well-balanced. B
Boaks Double BW Twisted Beligian Wheat (left hand)
Unfiltered Beligian Wheat
Light golden and lemon yellow color
This Beligian wheat is unusual in that it is brewed with the addition of lemongrass, which is a pleasant change from the typical orange peel flavors that dominant this style. The lemongrass is too subtle, though and makes the brew feel somewhat hollow. There is but a faint tap of lemon at the back of the palate. Beyond that there is a subtle bitterness, and the beer ends smoothly, maybe too much so. There is a slight grainy taste after the finish, which can undoubtedly be attributed to the ample use of wheat, but comes off tasting more of rice.
It is refreshing, but relatively tasteless. Too subtle for my liking. C-
For 2 years I have worked a job that I down-right hated. Today was my last day, and I celebrated with a few beers tonight.
First up was Valeir Blond.
Belgian Blond Ale
Mustard/dark lemon color
Starts with lemon drop, moves on to herbal chamomile, and finishes floral with a lingering citrus note. It leaves a spiciness on the back of the tongue, which is more sensation than flavor. Crisp and spicy on the nose with a hint of pine needle.
This was the first time I tried this particular beer. I very much enjoyed it with my Croque Madame (grilled ham and cheese topped with a fried egg) and twice-fried fries. Very refreshing, balanced, and flavorful. A-
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Tröegs Sunshine Pils, Harrisburg, PA.
German style pilsner
Dominant taste: straw, dry grass, ends with a typical hoppy floralness, slight citrus pith bitterness on the nose
I bought a case of this beer last Saturday in order to properly celebrate the 4th. I have mentioned it in several posts since then, so I figured I'd give it a proper review. It is tasty, summery, local, and relatively affordable. Pretty solid, but not incredible.
Monday, July 6, 2009
March 2006, Rome. Much has changed since then. In this picture I'm drinking Nastro Azzurro (obviously) because I knew almost nothing about beer. Nastro Azzurro is Italian for "Blue Ribbon", and that essentially what it is--Italian PBR. Gross. I hate to sound like a beer snob (I created this blog, so I must be), but I can't believe there was a time when I paid 5 Euro for this shit. And not just one. Noooooo. This is like 4 of those pisswaters in! I'm glad I know better now, if for no other reason than to spend what little money I have wisely.
Today was a long day at work. Time for a leftover Sunshine Pils.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Slaapmutske-Flemish for "sleeping-cap" or "nightcap".
Color: Pale golden honey
Taste: Hoppier than the average trip, bitter yet well-balanced, wonderfully floral, slight notes of pink peppercorn and grass/hay
This was the first time I tried this particular beer. They were out of my first choice, Liefmans Goudenband. LG, a wonderful, slightly sour Flemish Oud Bruin, is probably my favorite beer. The producer, Brouwerji Liefmans, was bought out by Duvel in 2004, and this wonderful brew has not been made since. 'Tis a damn shame. If you are lucky enough to stumble upon this brew, which comes wrapped in paper like the world's best Hanukkah present, please drink one for me. I bought one of the last ones my local bar had for $15 last year. Worth every penny. Delicious, a true classic.
Back to Slaapmutske. It was by no means a fitting alternative to Liefmans (nor was a comparable style, taste, etc), but it was quite tasty in its own right. And true to its name, I slept like a baby.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
A very happy 4th of July to everyone. I will be celebrating with a case of Tröegs Sunshine Pils, some BBQed flank steak, and some fireworks.
I was sipping a bottle of beer this afternoon when I recalled a conversation I had recently with my best friend, Cara. She had mentioned going to a beer store with her boyfriend and his family, which had a rather large display of beer cozies. We both agreed that we hadn't seen anyone use a beer cozy in at least 10 years. I suppose they just fell out of favor. As the condensation from my bottle dripped onto my leg, I found myself wishing for one of these neoprene sleeves, preferably emblazoned with some tacky clip-art graphic of an eagle and an American flag. I will have to buy one the next time I come across some.
On another note, while out buying said case of Sunshine Pils, I tagged a combination stick lighter and bottle opener onto the order. I think this may be the single most American gadget I have ever purchased. Tonight I will try to open a beer and light a firework simultaneously. I will report back.
Friday, July 3, 2009
Since it will inevitably come up, I will take this time to mention that I'm getting married next month. My fiance, Travis is a wine enthusiast. Go figure. You can follow his posts on the the subject at twitter.com/tdhinkle.
Getting married brings up many issues. One at the front of both of our minds was alcohol. We're getting married on a Sunday evening so we decided to eliminate hard liquor, and stick with just beer and wine. He immediately knew some wines he wanted to serve, which were affordable, good, and accessible to our guests. His job was easy. Give a party goer a choice of white or red, and they'll generally be happy with the results. My job was a little tougher. Give a guest the choice between IPA or German-style pilsner and you get a blank look in response. I had to choose beers that were not only accessible, but comparable to the macro-brews Joe and Jane Average know and love.
Living in the Philadelphia area, I also knew I wanted to choose mostly local brews. I live 10 minutes from Victory Brewing Company, 15 minutes from Sly Fox, 45 minutes from Yards, and so forth. To not choose at least a few local brews would be a damn shame.
My final choices are:
Victory Lager, Downingtown, PA: comparable to Yuengling, but less obvious
Victory Prima Pils, Downingtown, PA: a hoppy, German-style pilsner; bitter, crisp and delicious
Lafayette Matrimoni-Ale, Lafayette Hill, PA: a lovely, mellow summer ale in the saison style with strong citrus and spice; I'm telling my guests it's comparable to Blue Moon/Hooegarden; the event appropriate name is also a plus
Yards Pale Ale, Philadelphia, PA: this beer is crisp, hoppy, citrus-packed and perfect for an outdoor reception at the end of summer
Magic Hat Wacko Summer Seasonal, East Burlington, VT: a maltier, herbal, sweeter brew, which is hot pink in color thanks to the addition of beet juice; if the description doesn't get them the unusual color and red-heart label will; a gimmick beer done well
Shiner Bock, Shiner, TX: My fiance is Texas-born and so is 60% of our guest list. I don't even want to imagine the madness that would have ensued had I left this off the roster. A German-style Bock; darker, sweeter, and overall not a terrible brew given its cheap price tag and macro status. It wouldn't be my first choice, but I'm not ashamed of its presence on the beer list.
And NO, there is not a light beer choice on the list. I have never imbibed one of these "light/lite" beers, and I do not plan to start on my wedding day. Our guests can either deal or we can provide them with sparkling water and a drop of yellow food coloring, which is essentially the same thing. If they hem and haw over the absense of Bud and Corona, I will be more than happy to hike up my dress, piss in a glass, and garnish with lime.
All of this aside, my wine-obsessed fiance is a fantastic guy. Our wine/beer dynamic is not at all dissimilar to our Christian/Jewish dynamic. We will have an interfaith ceremony with both a minister and a rabbi present. This will then be followed by an interdrink reception, in which good, affordable wine and beer will be equally represented and enjoyed. Hallelujah!
My name is Sara, and I love beer.
This blog will be my platform to write about, discuss, and review different beers as I taste them.
I'll jump right in.
The last beer I imbibed was Poperings Hommel Ale (pictured above). I have enjoyed this beer on many occasions.
Style: Belgian IPA/Strong Golden
Color: Dark, golden straw with the slightest tinge of clover honey
Taste: More bitter than other Beligian Ales I've tasted, but nicely balanced by a bit of honey sweetness. Also present are floral notes of rose and possibly lavender, a bit of orange peel acidity, and a bit of late spice.