Saturday, October 3, 2015

Smoke in the Valley

Smoke in the Valley is one of my favorite beer festivals. There are hundreds of different beers to sample; definitely a beer for every taste. There is music, food trucks, and more. A good time; even in the pouring rain like last year.

I was humbled and honored to be selected as a guest judge for this year's Smoke in the Valley.

The requirements for my duties were complex and daunting. Uhm . . . not really. All I had to was taste beer and decide which one I liked best.

Okay, it sounded super easy. It turned out to be not as easy as it sounds.

I along with my co-judges - Seymour's first selectman Kurt Miller, fellow beer blogger Will Siss, and SITV sponsor Mountain Road Liquors' brew gurus Jeff Dirzius & Jay Maguire  - were faced with very difficult choices. Judging the home brew competition was seriously anything but easy. Very tasty but wicked difficult.

We each were assigned seven brewers who had the opportunity to showcase just one of their offerings. We were then tasked with picking our favorite beer out of those selections. Then we got together and sample each judge's favorite and picked the favorite from those.

Whew! Not easy, I'm telling you. So, I started out with a bribe.

Not really - I have more integrity than that! I wasn't even judging this guy's brews.  Good beer though - a yummy maple porter.

I got to sample an English Old Ale called Boat Flipper which was good representation of the style.

An American Brown Porter dry hopped with salemme chili peppers brewed by Blue Collar. Mildly hot and nicely hoppy.

Ooo, then a hopped hard apple cider aptly named Sock Hop - lots of hops, no socks - made by Stafford Tavern and Cidery, Sock Hop had a big Mosaic hops in a crisp dry cider. NOM!

A Scottish Ale aged with rum infused oak chips brewed by Betters Beer; a tasty twist on a classic style.

'tis the season for spiced pumpkin beer. So done to death. I would never have thought this would have been my favorite. But it was. Rich warm flavors, smooth, cream, and wonderful.

Then Irish Car Bomb stout by Man Cave Brewing. Sadly disappointing. Thin and acidic. 

Finally, a wild fermented pinapple cider called Tepache. Tart, fresh, and super tasty. A close second to the pumpkin ale.

And there was more of this. Because why not?

That was my seven. I went around and sampled some other brews while I waited for the other judges to finish being judgmental.

The highlights of those were . . .

Peanut Butter Cup by Third Stage was amazing with a fantastic peanut finish.

Steiny's  Last Cup of Sorrow - wowzers! Hot peppers through and through!

And Pine-Apple Bottom  brewed by Nothing Sacred. Pineapply goodness!

Finally, it was time to taste the other judges' favorites. Again the decision was super difficult; they were all so very good.

First Place went to Awesomesauce an American IPA brewed by nothing Sacred. A bright, fresh, seriously hoppy brew that could compete with any of the big guys.

Second Place went to Toasted Pumpkin Brau brewed by Fermentation Faction. A nice UNspiced pumpkin beer that was nicely sweet and freshly pumpkin-y.

I sampled a lot A LOT of beer at Smoke in the Valley. Of all the beers I tasted, I can honestly say the the best of the best was in the homebrew tent. These guys and gals try really hard to make the best beer they can and they ROCK!  I am so happy that I could be a part of it all and contribute my ever so humble opinion to help decide which was the very best.

I love beer.  Just sayin'.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Sriracha Hot Stout

I love sriracha. I mean, come one, who doesn't. It's like hot sex in a bottle. Without the sex. Because seriously you don't what that sh!t any where near your sexy parts. Yowza!

I've clearly established that I'm a fan of sriracha. But sriracha in my beer?

Hmm . . .

Hell ya!

I love a good pepper beer. To my taste, a pepper beer should subtly incorporate the characteristics of the pepper but not be overwhelmed by them - either in flavor or heat.

Sriracha Hot Stout (5.7% ABV) brewed by Rogue does this quite well.

It pours dark with a thick creamy head.

The aroma is dark roasted malts, fresh coffee, and a whisper of peppers.

The taste is a classic Rogue stout, roasty malts and coffee flavors with a tinge of hoppiness. The pepper flavor is subtle and not particularly hot up front. The heat comes through in the finish and beyond. In fact, the heat builds quite pleasantly as you drink - almost, but not quite, too hot.

The mouth feel is smooth, gently carbonated, and warm (then warmer and warmer).

Overall: Good

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A beard for the Beards and Beers 5K

Last November I ran the Beards & Beers 5k. The theme is for the road race is, obviously, beards and beer. Last year, while I quaffed copious quantities of beer post race, sadly I was beardless. When I signed up for this year's road race I decided to rectify the situation.

I lack the genetics to actually grow a beard, but I have mad fiber skills. So, I decided to make one.

I looked at loads of patterns on the interwebs and finally settled on this pattern from Mad Min. It is quick, simple, and perfectly fits the bill.

This is a great pattern for a beginner crocheter since it uses simple stitches.

See ya at the Beards & Beers 5K. I'll be the one with the cool crocheted beard!!

Crochet Beard
For an adult size beard

I used regular ol' worsted wool and a size J hook.

Start: chain 7
Row 1: single crochet in 2nd chain from hook and in remaining chain stitches. Turn (6sc)
Row 2: chain 1, *Bobble stitch in first stitch. sc in second stitch* repeat 2 times, turn (3 bobbles and 3 sc) **Bobble Stitch Instructions Below
Row 3: chain 1, 2 sc in first stitch, sc across next 4 stitches, 2 sc in last stitch, turn (8 sc)
Row 4: chain 1, *Bobble in first stitch, sc in second stitch* repeat 3 times, turn (4 Bobbles, 4 sc)
Row 5: chain 1, 2 sc in first stitch, sc across next 6 stitches, 2 sc in last stitch (10 sc)
Row 6: Chain 1, *Bobble stitch in first stitch. sc in second stitch* repeat 4 times, turn (5 bobbles and 5 sc)
Row 7: chain 1, sc across, turn (10 sc) Row 8: chain 1,*Bobble in first stitch, sc in second stitch* repeat 3 times, turn (5 Bobbles, 5 sc)
Rows 9-22: repeat rows 7 & 8 (you will end up with 9 rows total of  5 Bobble rows)
Row 23: chain 1, decrease sc in first 2 stitches, sc across 6 stitches, decrease sc last two stitches, turn (8 sc)
Row 24: chain 1, *Bobble stitch in first stitch. sc in second stitch* repeat 3 times, turn (4 bobbles, 4sc)
Row 25: chain 1, decrease sc in first 2 stitches, sc across 4 stitches, decrease sc last two stitches, turn (6 sc)
Row 26: chain 1, *Bobble stitch in first stitch. sc in second stitch* repeat 2 times, turn (3 bobbles, 3sc)
Row 27: chain 1, sc across, turn (6sc)

Chain 10 ( you may have to measure against the person's ear the beard is intended for to ensure fit and may have to add more or less chain stitches to get a snug but comfortable fit). slip stitch to last stitch on Row 27 creating a loop for ear. Fasten off
Attach yarn to first stitch on Row 1. Chain 10 (or whatever you did on Row 27), slip stitch to last stitch of Row 1. Fasten off

Connect yarn to first Bobble stitch on Row 6 with a sc, begin crocheting a chain that will reach over to the opposite side snugly. ( I crocheted 8. Check fit if you can!) sc into first Bobble on Row 20 and
then turn. chain 1 double crochet (dc) into first sc, dc into 3 chain stitches, Sc in next two chain stitches,  dc over last 3 chain stitches, dc into last sc, slip stitch next to last sc into beard. ( 8dc, 2 sc)  (If you chained more or less just adjust he number of dc so you have 2 sc in the center). Fasten off and weave in ends.

** Bobble Stitch Instructions: 
Step 1: yo insert hook into nxt st in row, yo draw yarn through (3 loops)
Step 2: yo insert hook into same st, yo draw through 2 loops (4 loops)
Step 3: yo insert hook into same st, yo draw through 2 loops (5 loops)
Step 4: yo insert hook into same st, yo draw through 2 loops (6 loops)
Step 5: yo draw yarn through all 6 loops on hook, tighten down 
Between each bobble, 1 sc.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Field Yield

A beautiful evening with music, friends, and beer. And not just any ol' beer . . . but a brandy-spankin' new beer! Life is good!

For the second concert in the hopyard at Two Roads, they introduced they're latest brew - Field Yield.  Field Yield (5.3% ABV) is an American Pale Ale brewed exclusively with hops harvested from Two Roads' very own  cascade and centennial hop vines. It was just right for drinking on a warm summer evening - bright, flavorful, and refreshing, juicy with a snippet of hoppy bitterness. Delightful and delicious.

The music was groovin'. Jon Slow opened up the evening with a mix of classic songs and his own tunes.  His acoustic style made an enjoyable background for chillin' with a cold brew (or two(ish)).

He was followed by Hitch and the Giddyup. Their bluegrass stylings were fun and energetic; they got folks clapping and dancing. I'd say that they were rockin' but that's not exactly accurate since, you know, bluegrass. They were flippin' awesome!

I hope Two Roads squeezes in a few more of these concerts before the cold weather sets in - good times!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Black Hog Brewery - private event

I was invited to attend a private tasting and bottle share event at Black Hog Brewing. I was lucky enough to be selected to receive an invitation due to the recommendation of not one but two Black Hog staffers. I was excited and honored to accept.

Not only did I get to participate in a massive bottle share but I also got the first taste of Black Hog's anniversary beer - Hog Water IPA.

I arrived to find a small but impressive array of beer bloggers. beer enthusiasts, brewers, beer geeks, and even the occasional beer snob - many of whom were already known to me. Hugs and beer all around!

Including several Black Hog beers, I consumed about 40 different beers many which were rare and difficult to obtain. The bottle sharers were very generous with their contributions - the variety was incredible.

We were even treated to a Hillside Brewing mead and Russian imperial stout. Super yummy.

Before the bottle sharing frenzy began, we started out with brews from Black Hog. They're offerings are well crafted and tasty.

The Hop Collective CTZ (5.5% ABV) American IPA - this brew was delightfully bitter and had a super fresh hoppiness that was simply amazing. Wicked good brew!

Coffee Milk Stout (5.5% ABV) - Wow! It had all the smooth creaminess that I expect from a milk stout. An excellent offering.

Disco Pig #2.1 (6.5% ABV) Brett Golden Sour Ale Aged in Cab Franc Barrels - I have a passion for sours. This one does not disappoint - mouthwateringly tart.

Disco Pig #3  (6.3% ABV)La Rouge Trois is a collaboration with Oxbow Brewing Company Flanders Red Ale - light and fruity with a nice tang of sourness.

Disco Pig #4  (6.5% ABV) Lime Maguey - an intriguing combination of flavors. The lime and agave give it a kind of south of the border flavor. Refreshing!

Hog Water (7% ABV) American IPA - has a wonderful combination of hops that is bright and refreshing. A little crisp with a hint of dankness.

A great beer and a rockin' good time! I'm looking forward to attending their anniversary celebration!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Shore 2 the Pour

It's been a year since I started training to run Two Roads Brewing Company's annual Shore 2 the Pour 5K.

I started training diligently - walking and (sort of) running as often as possible. Hitting the gym. "Running" other 5Ks.

Here's what I learned along the way. I f'n hate running. I really and truly hate it. All you so-called runners who supposedly love to run, all I can say is what-the-f^ck-ever. Running sucks.

Throughout the year I ran several 5Ks - by "ran" I mean that I mostly walked. Most of those 5Ks were beer related. Will run for beer - that's my motto. There's no other thing that can motivate me to run.

What's worse than running? Running on sand, shells, and rocks.

Although the Shore 2 the Pour is pretty much a flat course, it is pretty much all sand, shells, and rocks. But there's beer. Lots and lots of beer. So, you know what? Bring it on!!

I did it! Along with several hundred other people.

And do you know what else? I didn't finish last. That was my goal - not to finish last. It's not a lofty goal but at least I met it. In fact, according to the official race results posted on the internet, I ran a 7-minute mile and finished in 21 minutes.

If it's on the internet it mus be true. Right?

Sadly, wrong. The official analog results posted after the race say something entirely different.

This is more like it. But, as you can clearly see, I did not finish last.

Whatever. There was beer. Lots and lots of beer. And sand. Lots and lots of sand.

Good times.

Friday, August 14, 2015


Anyone who pays even the slightest attention to my beer drinking activities knows that, in the summertime, my go to brew is Road Jam. Two Roads brewery is practically stumbling distance from my house and I love relaxing in the beer garden with an nice cold brew and good friends.

Earlier this week Two Roads announced the latest release in their Road Less Traveled series - Bergamonster.

Of course, I popped in and tried as soon as I could. Then I had a Road Jam. :)

My understanding is that this monster of a beer is loosely based on Pilot Batch #3 that was released a few months back.

I can certainly taste the similarities, but this is very much it's own beer; kind of a distant cousin to #3.

Bergamonster is a American Pale Wheat Ale that weighs in at a heft 8.2% ABV.  It lives up to it;s name. It is bold but fairly drinkable.

You can really taste the mildly bitter orange peel and lots of spices. You can also feel the alcohol.

It's delicious but not a slam-down summer beer.

Get it while you can. It's not going to be around for long.