Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I apologize for the large gap between posts.  Moving has been crazy.  We are currently in Columbus, OH enroute to Bloomington.  I can't wait to move in and unpack!  Bought some great beer to drink with dinner tonight.  I promise to update with reviews soon!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

cerveza preparada.

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.

Lime wedges 
Coarse salt
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:

Ceviche Tacos
1.25 pounds of sushi-grade fish (I used tilapia, but I would have preferred yellowtail had it been available)
Sea salt
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.

beautiful nostalgia.

circa 1890
Why oh why don't they make advertisements like this anymore?  

Saturday, July 18, 2009

valeir extra.

Valeir Extra
ABV:  6.5%
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
Nose:  Floral/pine
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.

Ommegang Hennepin, Cooperstown, NY
11.2 fl oz draught
Style:  Saison
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-

chimay blue.

It's been a hell of a week.  

Chimay Grand Réserve or Chimay Blue
11.2 fl oz bottle
Style:  Belgian Strong Dark Ale
ABV:  9% 
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

bloomington, indiana.

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

blog title.

This book inspired the title of my blog, and that's pretty much the only good thing about it.  

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).
ABV:  10%
IBUs:  100
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
ABV:  4.2%
IBUs:  15
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-

valeir blond.

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
ABV:  6.5%
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.

Tröegs Sunshine Pils, Harrisburg, PA.
German style pilsner
ABV:  5.3%
Color:  straw
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

beers for years.

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".
Origin:  Belgium
Style:  Tripel
ABV:  8.1%
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

4th of July

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

wedding beer.

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

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!


first post.

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
ABV:  7.5%
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.