Monday, July 13, 2015

Briar Nation Meet-up

I attended a fun and interesting peripherally beer related event this past weekend. The gathering was for a pipe smoking group I'm a member of on Facebook - Briar Nation. And, of course, there was beer involved.

I've been an occasional cigar smoker for years, but recently my husband introduced me to the pleasures of pipe smoking. I find it often compliments and enhances the whole beer drinking experience. Smoking a pipe is not a thing to be rushed through. For me it's about sitting back to relax and reflect and simply savor the moment.

It was interesting to meet up with these folks that I interact with almost daily online. Over the course of the weekend, we enjoyed stimulating conversation, fine smokes, and a few brews. All-in-all, a good time!

We started out at Cigars International Super-Store in Bethlehem PA. CI has a couple of smoking areas equipped with plush comfy chairs. They are BYOB and I came well prepared.  As I situated myself in one of the cozy chairs I busted into a tasty honey flavored John Hay Swagger cigar and one of my favorite summer beers - Road Jam. The pairing was near perfection - the mild sweet flavor of the cigar went deliciously well with the cool refreshing taste of the raspberry wheat brew.

I had a second cigar . . . I can't say that a particularly enjoyed that one. I can't even say that I finished it. Blech!

As the afternoon progressed, I smoked several different pipes packed with wonderful aromatic tobaccos and drank several more Road Jams. An afternoon well spent.

That evening we ended up at The Wooden Match restaurant in Bethlehem, PA. Their sign reads "beer, meat, cigars". The restaurant and bar are housed in a re-purposed railroad station and the atmosphere is extremely cool. They have a wide selection of craft beer, amazing food, and an atmosphere where cigar and pipe smoking is not only permitted but encouraged. In fact, they have several cigar stuffed humidors on the premises. Very cool, indeed.

The group of us sat in the basement area. There we engaged in colorful conversation, imbibed frosty beverages, gorged on copious quantities of food, and puffed to our hearts content.. Coming from Connecticut where smoking of any sort is outlawed in public establishments, the experience was both liberating and wicked awesome.

BTW - I had a BLT with a whole freakin' pound of bacon on it. OMG! So good.

Funky Citrus (7% ABV) by Red Beard Brewing, Mango Wheat (4.5% ABV) by Free Will Brewing, Sweet Baby Jesus ( 6.5% ABV) by DuClaw Brewing

The next day a few of us hooked up for brunch at Leaf Restaurant / Cigar Bar, which is adjacent to and a part of Famous Smokes Cigar Shop in Easton, PA.

The atmosphere was comfortable and totally smoke friendly. It was refreshing to sit down and enjoy a cigar while sipping a delicious local craft beer before and after a meal.

The beer list was extensive. They had a huge selection of craft beer on draft and in bottles. And the food was fabulous.

It was a great way to end a great weekend. I met some awesome people, sampled a bunch of new tobaccos, and drank quite a few new brews.

Kölsch (4.8% ABV) by Lancaster Brewing, Dark Dungeon (9% ABV) by Red Castle Brewery & Distillery

The Briar Nation rules!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Blueberry Pie

What's better than blueberries? More blueberries. Duh!

One of my favorite fruit beers is Violet B's Blueberry brewed by Moat Mountain.   Moat Mountain uses 30 to 60 pounds of fresh blueberries per batch.  That's a lot of blueberries!

I decided to add a few more.

To this already yummy brew I added fresh blueberries, vanilla rum, and bit of gingerale. It's a burst of awesomeness. Super yummy!

It's like Blueberry pie and ice cream!

Blueberry Pie
makes 1 cocktail

Fresh Blueberries
1 Tsp Brown Sugar
1 Oz Vanilla Rum
4 Oz Ginger Ale
4 - 6 Oz Violet B (other blueberry beer not Shipyard Smashed Blueberry!)

Place a small handful of blueberries into the bottom of a tall glass. I used a Moat Mountain shaker pint, but any tall glass will do.

Sprinkle the berries with brown sugar.

Gently smush the berries and muddle with the sugar.  Leave the berries somewhat intact, don't mash them.

Fill the glass with crushed ice and then add the rum.

Pour in the ginger ale and top off with the beer.

Stir gently and enjoy!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Strawberry IPA Infusion

I had a remnant from a six-pack of Brutal IPA from Rogue and a pint of fresh strawberries hanging around in the fridge. They were all lonely like, so I decided to bring them together.

The result was surprisingly delicious.

The sweet strawberries compliment the hoppy bitterness making the Brutal be not so, well, brutal.


Strawberry IPA Infusion

Place several cut up strawberry into the bottom of a French press and smoosh with the back of a spoon.Then pour 12 ounces of IPA in with the fruit. Let the beer soak into the berries for 4 to 5 minutes. Finally, press the filter down slowly and pour into a glass.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A little wee, a little mead

Sap House meadery Blackberry Maple mead paired with Sutliff Dark Honey Berry tobacco was lovely marriage of flavors and sensations, making for a few relaxing moments after a long day of work.


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Relaxing on a Sunday afternoon

Watermelon Lime IPA Infusion

Blending the flavors of fresh lime and watermelon with a hoppy IPA makes for a refreshing infusion. The fruits mellow out the sharpness of the brew, simple and delightful.


Watermelon Lime IPA Infusion

Place several chunks of fresh cut watermelon into the bottom of a French press. Squeeze a couple wedges of lime into the pot and drop the lime pieces in with the melon. And then pour 12 ounces of IPA in with the fruit. Let the beer soak into the watermelon for 4 to 5 minutes.  Finally, press the filter down slowly and pour into a glass.  

I threw some chunks of watermelon into the beer, too. After it was infused.