Saturday, August 31, 2013

A visit to Shebeen

I was first introduced to Shebeen beer at a brewfest in June.  At the festival, I got the opportunity to sample three of Shebeen's brews and chat with Rich Visco - Headbrewer/Artiste/Mastermind/Man-behind-the-madness.

I took me a couple months, but I finally made the trek to visit the brewery.  The brewery is small but impressive, the tasting room is charming and comfortable, and the staff is friendly and eager to pour. Oh, yeah, bring it on! And, bring it the lovely Terry did! That girl knows how to pull a draft beer like nobody's business!

After sampling a few wonderful brews, another Shebeen staffer, Mike, gave us a nickle tour of the brewery. I fully appreciate them allowing me to venture beyond the tasting room door considering the major upheaval and hubbub going on back there. Especially, considering my prodigious aptitude for clumsiness, which is almost as great as my love of good beer. And that, my friends, is saying something!

Shebeen is in the process of installing upgrades to their brewing system. Major upgrades. They're going from three little one barrel tanks to four huge thirty barrel tanks and two shiny new fermenters! They were physically in the process of positioning these tanks while I was back there checking things out. The energy and excitement in the brewery was palpable. Hopefully, now they will be able to keep up with the ever increasing demand for their yummy brews.

In one corner of the brewery was a big crate. Concealed within is the breweries new canning machine. That's right, Shebeen in a can. How cool is that?? Coming soon to a store near you? That remains to be revealed.

Rich was running around like a chicken with its head lopped off - sans the blood. Despite that, he took a few minutes to stop and talk to me. We talked about the upgrades, of course, but he showed off one of the casks he will be using for whiskey barrel aging - he'll be doing a double rye porter soon! But don't get too excited, barrel aging takes time.  

We chatted about other things, as well. I was sworn to secrecy but there are even more amazing things going to happen at Shebeen in the coming months. There are even a couple new beers in the works. It's all good and it's all awesome!

German Cerveza (4.7% ABV) is a kölsch brewed with agave nectar. It was interesting, to say the least. It poured a clear liquid gold with a nice but quickly diminishing head.  The aroma is somewhat grainy and sweet, very inviting.  The taste is bright with a strong presence of malt and grain.  Nary a hint of bitterness; however, the agave makes its presence known in the finish with a lovely sweetness that clings to the back of the palate. Really, quite nice. Overall: very good.

Irish Pale (4% ABV) is pale ale. It pours a rich amber with a big head that dissolves into the beer leaving behind a wisp of foam. The aroma is malt forward with a hint of grain and hops.  The taste resembles the smell;  caramel malts, mellow hops and grain. Pleasantly bitter without biting balanced by the sweetness of the malt. Light and sessionable.  A great beer to drink any time for any occasion. Overall: very good.

Pineapple Wheat (5.1% ABV) is a fruit / wheat beer. This beer was my favorite of the day. It pours a clear honey gold with a nice lingering bubbly head. The aroma is boldly wheaty and big on pineapple. Enticing. The taste is a burst of fresh pineapple backed up by wheat and sweet malt. This is a pleasantly sweet, refreshing beer with not a hint of bitterness.  Overall: excellent

Cannoli Beer (5.2% ABV) is an American Pale Ale. Served with a rim of powdered sugar and a sprinkle of cocoa atop the foam, this is a Shebeen favorite. The aroma is, well, like a cannoli. The taste is wonderful! The airy sweetness of the sugar and subtle cocoa enhances and sends the spicy ale over the top. I could drink this ALL day long. Or for a liquid dessert at the very least. The taste clings to the palette. Mmm, so good. I also drank this without all the fixins and the beer stands very well on it's own. Cinnamon and nutmeg come forward making for a gently sweet, quaffable brew. Delicious! Overall: excellent.
A big thank you to Rich and his staff for making my visit so delicious and eventful.  I left the brewery very happy with a growler each of Pineapple Wheat and Cannoli. I'll be back soon!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Bourbon County Coffee Stout

I like stout, I like coffee, I like bourbon.  The flavors can complement and enhance each other. Unless it's over done.  In my opinion, it is way overdone in this beer to the point of being unenjoyable.

Bourbon County Coffee Stout (14.00% ABV) by Goose Island (Anheuser-Busch) pours as black as an oil slick with a thin swirl of foam.

The aroma is intensely boozy; big bourbon in the nose with a whisper of coffee and dark roasted malts.

The taste is overpoweringly boozy, unpleasantly so.  The bourbon is huge, coffee and dark malts are hinted at but drowned out. The alcohol is so front and center that it overpowers and minimizes all the other flavor characteristics.

The mouthfeel is full and thick with little carbonation.

I really wanted to like Bourbon County Coffee Stout   I'm no stranger to big beers; I generally enjoy them.  But this one is too intense, too massive and too much of a good thing.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Cooking with Beer - AleMan’s Beer-B-Q sauce

Hubby and I visited a nano brewery when we were vacationing in New Hampshire a couple months ago.  Not only does Canterbury Aleworks have some pretty darned tasty beer but the brewery is situated in an amazing location.

Recently, I came across a link where the Aleman himself  - Steve Allman - was doing a cooking demonstration on a local New Hampshire television station. He was making a barbecue sauce using his beer.

The ingredient list includes a splash of this, a finger of that and a blump of something else. Oh, and as much Canterbury Aleworks beer as you can part with.  Yeah, that's not so easy, that's good beer!

The recipe looked so good I just had to try it.

We happened to have a growlerette of Canterbury Aleworks Granite Ledge Stout in the fridge.  My husband just about had a fit when he found out I was using it to cook with.  Kind of like the time he found out I opened his 30 year old bottle of whiskey to cook with.  ლ(ಠ益ಠლ)   

He said, what ever I cooked with had better come out my portion of that growler!  Good thing I didn't use it all, huh? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  

The Aleman's recipe was somewhat ambiguous, so I decided to take a crack at deciphering it. I did good!  It was super tasty.

This tangy sauce is the perfect Beer-B-Q baster for anything on the grill. Build up a glaze by brushing the sauce often over meat beginning about 15 minutes from the end of cooking time.  

Use whatever beer you like but the Aleman says: Amber to darker-colored beers are best!

This is Bräuista's interpretation of AleMan’s Beer-B-Q sauce

1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 Medium Onion, Chopped
4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1/4 Cup Sherry Vinegar
1 Cup Granite Ledge Stout
1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
1/2 C Tomato Paste
1 Tbsp Spicy Guinness Mustard
1 Tsp Fresh Ground Pepper
1 Tsp Kosher Salt

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.  Saute onion and garlic until the onions start to caramelize.

Add vinegar, beer, maple syrup, mustard, tomato paste, salt, pepper to taste.

Simmer and stir uncovered, about 20 minutes or until sauce thickens.

I used this sauce over a stout marinated flank steak; seared then glazed. Served with Beer'd Warm German Potato Salad on the side. Amazing!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cara de Luna

This is a beer I picked up not knowing a thing about the brewery or anything about the beer.  But the bottle looked interesting so I decided to give it a go.

The brewery is Crazy Mountain.  They are a small batch craft brewery located in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.  They are expecting to brew 12,000 barrels of beer this year; that's double what they brewed in 2012.  That's some big time fast growth!  

Crazy Mountain's motto is "crazy is, as crazy does, so drink up and live the life you want!".  Okay, will do!

The beer is Cara de Luna. It is a black German style pale ale.  Come on now, tell me that doesn't sound intriguing!

Cara de Luna (5.50% ABV) pours a georgous black cherry color that is black as a luna-less night in the glass. It builds a fat thick tawny head that clings to the glass leaving behind lovely lacing.

The aroma is deep roasted malt with a whisper of dark chocolate.

The taste is richly roasty and mildly smokey. Dark malts and black coffee meld nicely with the spicy Hallertau hops. This beer is neither overtly sweet or bitter.  It is simply well balanced with loads of flavor and easy on the palette. The finish is crisp with lingering roastiness.

The mouthfeel is fairly thin with lovely carbonation. Refreshingly light for such a dark beer.  Quite nice and very quaffable.

Overall: very good.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Trouble with Trubble

Last week when I was at Two Roads Brewery enjoying Firkin Thursday, I was sitting at the bar overlooking the brewery.  I was happily sipping my dry hopped Honeyspot Road when I looked down and saw this!

I almost fell off my stool.

Despite my anxiety, I managed to choke down two or three more beers.  I know you're thinking that I couldn't have been all that upset if I continued drinking.  But, but, but, you can't leave beer in a Firkin!  It would be a waste of perfectly good beer.  I felt obligated to do my part.  It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it.

On my way out, I spied the culprit in the beer garden, swilling a beer of his own.  So, I marched right up to him and said, "What the #%&*!!"

He must've thought I was either drunk or crazy, both of which may be true, but also beside the point.

When I explained the reason for my angst he offered a reasonable explanation that restored my faith in both him and the brewery.

After viewing the video (it's way better with sound), proceed to the explanation below:

What he was doing was removing the trub from the bottom of one of the tanks.

After fermentation or the boil is complete, the beer is transferred to another tank.What's left behind is a sedimentary layer of waste - primarily comprised of residual yeast, protein, fats and/or hop refuse.  These dregs are removed because they can produce off-flavors or a hazy appearance if left in contact with or allowed to mix with the beer.

So the trub is flushed from the tanks so that the tank can be cleaned and prepped for the next batch of beer.

And, that is what he was hosing down the drain. Not beer.


Friday, August 23, 2013

Roadsmary's Baby

'tis the season for autumn beers to start making their way into our midst. With impeccable timing, Two Roads Brewery introduced it's new seasonal creation. Roadsmary's Baby - a pumpkin ale aged in rum barrels - on Friday, August 23rd.

Of course, I had to be in attendance for this momentous occasion. I arrived to a packed parking lot and made my way into the midst of a happy crowd beer drinkers. The bartenders where jammin' and I had to wait for an agonizingly long minute to get my beer. But it was worth the nearly insufferable wait!

I love the tap handle, by the way.

From the tap, Roadsmary's  aby (6.8% ABV) poured a deep ruby red with a finger of off white foam that quickly dissipates into wisps of swirls on top of the brew.

The aroma was thick with spices - nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon - and pumpkin. It smells just like a pumpkin beer should smell; like pie only better because it's beer!

The taste was clean and bold with a good helping of pumpkin but far less spice than I had anticipated. The rum is subtly evident, although it is more "smelled" in the back of the mouth than actually tasted. The alcohol is dangerously well concealed.  The finish is dry and leaves behind the essence of pumpkin spice.

The mouth feel is medium-ish with just the right amount of carbonation. Very tasty and way too drinkable.

Roadsmary's Baby is a fine addition to Two Roads line up of regular and limited brews. Spicy, pumpkiny - not quite pumpkin pie, but that's okay because I don't like pumpkin pie!  Good stuff! ☜(゚ヮ゚☜)

Available at the brewery or wherever Two Roads beer is sold. Get some!

Cooking with Beer - Pale Ale Brined Eggs (Beer Pickled Eggs)

A hamburger and a french fry walk into a bar. The bartender says, "I'm sorry we don't serve food here.

Actually, that's pretty unlikely.  Most bars do have food in some form or another. Whether it be bowls of pretzels and nuts, or hot wings, or pickled eggs.

Bar food is usually inexpensive. It is often hot or salty or mouth puckery, and it is almost always some form of finger food.

Why?  Because they want  you to eat when you drink so that you don't get totally sh!t faced, so you can drink more.  And all that spicy, sour, salty food makes thirsty, so you will drink more.  And, if you're not distracted by cutlery like which fork to use for which whatever, you will drink more.

It's all about drinking more.  And I, for one, am all for that!

You may or may not have ever seen a big jar of pickled eggs sitting on the corner of a bar.  Although, I've never eaten a pickled egg in a bar, I like them.  I just won't eat them if they're sitting there and I don't know how long they've been sitting there.

I've decided to bring the bar to the egg to make beer brined eggs. I must say they are surprisingly tasty and go great with a cold, frosty brew.

I used Denver Pale Ale, which is an English style pale ale, because it's a little sweeter and  not as bitter as American pale ales. Also, it's light in color.  I didn't want to use an intense flavored beer so to not overpower the eggs. Nor did I want to use a dark beer because it will discolor the

That being said, use whatever you like.  Pickles eggs made with an amber ale might be pretty; pretty tasty, too.

Pale Ale Brined Eggs (Beer Pickled Eggs)

24 Small Hard-Boiled Eggs
1 (12 Fluid Ounce) Bottle Beer
2 Cups Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tbsp Pickling Spice
2 Tbsp Parsley Flakes
4 Tbsp Kosher Salt
2 Hot Peppers

Place eggs in a large, deep pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat.  Turn down to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.

Drain and place in fresh cold water.  When the eggs are cool peel. Stab each egg with fork so that all that tasty brine can fully penetrate the egg.

( ¬‿¬)  She said fully penetrate! Yes, yes I did

Divide the eggs into two quart sized canning jars ( or other air tight glass container).

In each jar place, 1 tablespoon each of the pickling spice and parsley flakes plus 2 tablespoons of kosher salt and a hot pepper.  Use whatever kind of pepper you like or omit the pepper if you don't want spicy eggs.  You can use the pepper whole or seeded or whatever you like depending on level of spiciness you like.

Combine the beer and vinegar and pour over eggs until they are fully submerged. Add additional vinegar if you need more liquid to cover the eggs.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 week before using.

Enjoy with your favorite beer or as a snack or even chopped up on a salad.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Two Roads Firkin Thursday

I love Firkin Thursdays at Two Roads!  What do I like best about Firkin Thursday?  The beer duh!

No really. Well, yes, really but what I like about the firkin is how Two Roads takes one of their regular brews and adds something to it and how these simple additions transform the beer into something new and wonderful.

This week featured Honeyspot Road White IPA dry hopped with fresh, raw hops grown right on Two Roads property.

Honeyspot Road (6% ABV) is one of my favorite Two Roads beers.  It is a golden colored ale with a thick white head that hugs the glass and leaves a marked amount lacing.  Honeyspot Road is a deliciously refreshing IPA that has a touch of citrus flavor and just the right amount of hoppy bitterness.  

In the cask, the white IPA was poured over Centennial, Cascade and Nugget hops. The fresh hops infused aroma and flavor - Nugget with it's green, herbal properties and Centennial & Cascade their citrus characteristics.

The result was interesting and refreshing; although, a flavor that I suspect not everyone would appreciate.  

The aroma was much bolder and hoppier than the standard Honeyspot Road.  The Centennial and Cascade hops made their presence known in the nose in a big way.  

The taste was somewhat different than I expected based on the smell.  

The fresh hops altered the white IPA into something quite different.  It was brighter and cleaner.  The Nugget hops took the lead on the palette with a green, grassy flavor.  There was an underlying vague dankness that was surprisingly pleasant.

I liked it.  A lot.  

***Two Roads has a different firkin every other Thursday.  Look for the announcement on their Facebook for what their next casked offering will be.  I can't wait!***

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Black Crown

That's right! I drank it. And I don't care who knows it.


Say what you will, but when someone offers me a beer I'm taking it.  Unless it's some skunky green bottled brew, I'll drink just about anything.

Granted, I'd prefer a tasty hand crafted brew but I'm not a beer snob. So, bring on the beer.  BRING IT, I said!


What did I think of Budweiser Black Crown by Anheuser Busch?

Comparatively, it is 6% ABV as opposed to 5% ABV in regular ol' Bud. So, you get more bang for you buck considering they come in at close to the same price point.

It's supposedly an golden amber lager, which implies it will be a deeper reddish color. Not so, it's the same pale gold as regular ol' Bud.

The taste?  Pretty much the same as your standard Budweiser fare, maybe a little smoother and a wee bit crisper, but otherwise generally the same beer in a different bottle.

The über frosty cold mug was a nice touch.  Cold enough that the foam froze.

( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

Black Crown . . . I didn't love it but I didn't hate it either. It is what it is and I didn't really expect anything else. Therefore, I was not disappointed.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Cooking with Beer - IPA Vinaigrette

I've been on a bit of a salad kick lately.  When I'm making a lot of salads I like to use various salad dressings to keep things interesting.  

I also like to make my own fresh salad dressings.  So, I'm always looking for something different and tasty to drizzle over my greens.

You may not think that beer and salad pair well.  But I made a dressing using one of my favorite India Pale Ales and it was superb. A wonderful combination of sweet and tart and citrus, it was refreshing and a perfect accompaniment to a hearty salad.

I used Alaskan IPA, but you can use whatever you like.  Experiment with different beer types for a new flavor sensation.

IPA Vinaigrette

3 Ounces Alaskan IPA
1 Tbsp Vidalia Onion, Minced
1 Tsp Orange Zest, Grated
1 Tbsp Raw Honey
4 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tsp Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper

In a food processor or blender combine onion, orange zest, honey, mustard, salt and pepper. 

Slowly add the olive oil and process until mixture well combined.

Toss with your favorite greens and pile on your favorite toppings.

I used this dressing on a salad topped with grilled steak, frizzled onions, provolone cheese, roasted red peppers, green olives and pepperoncini.  Yum!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Mama's Little Yella Pils

Craft beer. Check

Craft Beer in a can. Check.

Craft Beer in a big tall can. Check.

An ice cold craft beer in a big tall can - check, check, check, check.

Ahhh, all is right with the world.

Mama's Little Yella Pils is a beer I've been meaning to drink for quite a while. So, when I spied a can of it on the shelf of The Country Mile, I snatched it up despite the two armloads and fists full of beer I was already balancing.

My experiences, thus far, with Oskar Blues beer have been happy and delicious.  I was expecting nothing less from this small batch brewed Czech style pilsner.

Mama's Little Yella Pils comes in at a very sessionable 5.3% ABV.

It pours a clear golden yellow with a smallish head despite a fairly aggressive pour.  The bright white head left behind a remarkable amount of glass grabbing lace.

The aroma is typical for the style - very pilsner-esque, as it were - with notes of bright Saaz hops and grain.

The taste is clean, fresh and perfectly pilsner-y.  Grains add sweet biscuit flavor and the hops add a small nibble of bitterness.  There is nothing overpowering here. There is an impressive lemony-ness  towards the end that just puts this pilsner over the top for me. So good! The finish is crisp and (again) clean.

The moutfeel is light with lovely carbonation.  Too quaffable, nearing chuggable.

An excellent example of the style.  Very want-more-able.

Mama's Little Yella Pils is a good beer for people who are interesting in craft beer but don't know where to start.  Or for someone who is afraid of craft beer and thinks they're all big and fancy.  This pilsner is crisp, light and drinkable.  A classic style that is simply delicious.

Overall: excellent

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Founders Imperial Stout

I have to admit that my experience with Founders beer started out a bit shaky.

I didn’t like one, then I’d like one, then the next one was iffy and so on and so forth.

For whatever reason, I kept going back for more. Over time, I’ve come to find that I enjoy more of their beers than I either disliked or felt meh about.

Founders does make some good beer.  Just because I don’t like all of their beers doesn't mean they’re a bad brewery. It just means that I don’t like all of the beer all the time or some of the beer all of the time but I do  like some of the beer most of the time. 

Wow, I just totally brutalized Abraham Lincoln’s quote. Hopefully, you get my drift.

Even though Abraham Lincoln had a huge impact on shaping our nation, technically speaking,  he was not a Founding Father.  However, despite him not being an actual Founder, I’m pretty sure he was a beer drinker.  In another quote that I did not abuse he said, “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer.”

Founders Imperial Stout (10.50% ABV) pours sable brown brown with a small but dense mocha colored head.

The aroma is bold with the essence of  roasty malts with hints of dark chocolate and dark coffee. Dig your nose in and booziness wafts from the glass.

The taste is intensely dark  roasted malts.  There are undertones of dark chocolate and deep roasted coffee that add some bitterness, but not unpleasantly so.  There's some underlying sweetness that  is reminiscent of dried fruit.  The alcohol presence can be tasted as well as felt, but not in a distracting way.  It's mild and warming. The finish is gently bitter.

The mouthfee is full, creamy and smooth with little carbonation.

Founders Imperial Stout is a good example of the style. Bold and flavorful; a sipping beer, for sure.

Overall: very good.

Friday, August 16, 2013


I've had an idea knocking around in my head for a while.  A brewmosa.

A traditional mimosa is a concoction composed of one part champagne and one part orange juice with a splash of triple sec.

My idea was a mimosa kind of cocktail using an IPA instead of champagne and grapefruit juice instead of orange juice. With the obligatory splash of triple sec, of course.

I wasn't quite sure how it would come out. The bitterness of an IPA would certainly be complimented by the bitter-sweetness of grapefruit.

I just wasn't prepared for how completely wonderful, delicious and refreshing it actually turned out to be.

My brewmosa could easily replace a mimosa at any brunch or special occasion.

You can use any IPA you want, but I think this would work best with a super citrussy hopped beer. I also used juice squeezed right from a fresh grapefruit.  The juicy bits were awesome.

My brewmosa?  It's a winner!

(Makes two)

1 12-Ounce Bottle IPA
1 Ruby Red Grapefruit
1 Splash Triple Sec
2 Wine Glasses

Into each wine glass, 3 ounces of the IPA and top with fresh squeezed grapefruit juice.  Roll the grapefruit around on the counter or between the palms of your hands to loosen up the fruit and get the most juice.

Pour in the another 3 ounces and top off with a splash of triple sec.

Prepare to be amazed, sip and wow.

À la vôtre!