Saturday, December 27, 2014

Meet the Brewer - Sean Lawson (Lawson's Finest Liquids)

Two Roads Brewery hosted the third of their "Meet the Brewers" events. This one featured the mastermind behind Lawson's Finest Liquids, Sean Lawson.

Two Roads brewery is contracted by Lawson's to brew two beers - Sip of Sunshine and Super Session #2.

It is wicked exciting to me to get the opportunity to be able to get my greedy little hands on some of that fine Lawson's beer without having to make the trek all the way up to Vermont.

I managed to work my way through the throngs of beer enthusiasts and to have a short conversation with Sean. He told me that he found in Two Roads a contract brewery that was true to his recipes and made his beer taste the way it would if he had made it himself. That's quite a compliment!

Sip of Sunshine (8% ABV), a double American style IPA, is a rich honey gold color with a big floof of clingy white foam.

The aroma is very hop-forward. Resin, citrus, and tropical fruit.

The taste is very hoppy. Again with the resin, citrus, and tropical fruit but with a dank quality that clings to the back of the palatte. Some malty sweetness seeps through the back end. The finish is crisp and mildly bitter.

The mouthfeel is on the full side of medium with tingly carbonation. Solid.

Super Session #2 (4.2% ABV), an American IPA, is a clear bright sunny color with a puffy tenacious head.

The aroma is big on citrus - lots of grapefruit - pine, and a hint of malt.

The taste is lovely tart grapefruit and resin. There is a deeper yet almost elusive fruitiness that could be tropical or sweeter citrus.  There is a nice malty character to balance out the hops. The finish is clean, dry, with a teasing linger of hops.

The mouthfeel is medium-ish with a smooth effervescence that makes this brew awesomely drinkable.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cooking with Beer - Stout Beer Jelly

If you're handy in the kitchen and are looking for ideas for homemade holiday gifts, this is a tasty gift for beer lovers or someone who enjoys cooking.

This beer jelly is yummy on toast or grilled cheese or roasted veggies or baked brie or roasted meat or burgers.  You get the picture.

And, with only three basic ingredients and a bit of canning know-how, this is a pretty easy recipe to make.

Stout Beer Jelly

2 Cans Guinness Draught
1 Box Pectin
3 1/2 Cups Sugar

A word of warning - use the biggest pot you have. Trust me, on this. Otherwise you're going to end up with an expansive lava-esque foamy frothy mess all over the place.

Pour the beer and pectin into the largest pot you own. Stirring continuously, bring to a boil. Keep on stirring and boil for one minute. 

Then add the sugar. This is when all the voluminous foam-ulation occurs. Stir, stir, stir. Don't stop even when big, fat, spumous bubbles start belching molten syrup out of the pot. Keep stirring for two minutes.

If you didn't use an enormous pot, this is when you'll wish you had.

Remove the pot from the heat. The foam will settle a bit now.  

Prepare canner pot. Put enough water in canner to cover filled jars with at least one inch of water. Bring to a rolling boil.

Ladle the jelly into clean sterilized jelly jars. Fill to within a 1/4 inch of the lip of the jars. You may need to top off the jars as the foam settles. Wipe the rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.

Process the jars for 10 minutes in a water bath. Remove the jars from the hot water bath and allow to sit undisturbed for at least 24 hours.

What's cool is that the jars look like little pints of Guinness. 

Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Just press in the center, gently, with your finger. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it.

Now, store them in a cool, dark place and use them as needed or gift them. 


(Hot water bath canning basics)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Lagunita Pils

I'm a big fan of Lagunitas beer. Their brew is consistently oh-so good. So, when I spotted Pils on tap at my favorite spot for hot wings and cold beer, I immediately requested a pour.

Lagunitas Pils (6.20% ABV) is a Czech style pilsner.

It pours a hazy golden color with a very dense head of foam.

The aroma is remarkably tropical for a pilser - namely pineapple. There some bread / cracker notes, as well.

The taste is crisp and clean. Malty, doughy, and - again -  pineapple. There is a whisper of floral hops that adds just a touch of bitterness. The finish is dry with a nice lingering tropical aftertaste.

The mouthfeel is light and bubbly.

Lagunitas Pils is a well balance tasty pilsner. Remarkably refreshing and ridiculously drinkable. I'm a fan!

Overall: very good!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

20 Ton Ale

Since Two Roads Brewery is practically stumbling distance to/from my home, it's only natural that it's a great place for us to congregate and imbibe with friends who also just so happen to live nearby. We meet up there nearly every single week.

While I enjoy most of Two Roads' standard brews, I look forward to their seasonal and limited offerings.

'tis the season for Route of all Evil and Holiday Ale - both very yummy beers. This year they've released a limited quantity of 20 Ton Ale. So named after the 20 ton overhead crane with hook that graces the center I-beam over the brewery floor.  Recently seen decked out with a beer can Christmas Tree.
20 Ton Ale (12.00% ABV) is a blond barleywine style beer.

It pours a clear bright honey gold color with a small but clingy head.

The aroma is sugary sweet and mildly fruity with a mouthwatering hop presence. And booze.

The taste is initially caramel and sugary. This followed by a wash of wonderful hoppy goodness that clears the palate of any sweetness and leaves behind a remarkably dry, crisp finish. There are also some fruit and citrus notes. The alcohol is clearly present but not particularly boozy tasting.

The mouthfeel is somewhat sticky but fairly light for the style.

Overall: excellent.

20 Ton Ale is a wonderful and tasty barleywine. The hops mellow out the sweetness and make this a dangerously drinkable brew.

Monday, December 1, 2014


We were in New Hampshire for the holidays. While we was there we went to our favorite place in the Mount Washington Valley for ribs and beer.

The ribs are always slammin' good at the Red Parka Pub and there is always something new-to-me on tap.

This visit they had Warlock by Southern Tier. Warlock  (8.6% ABV) is an imperial stout brewed with pumpkin and spices.

Mmmm, sounds good to me. Southern Tier brews some mighty fine beer.

So, of course I got a pour.

As I'm sipping the beer I'm nibbling on ribs. And I'm all like shnikes! The beer and the ribs tasted perfect together!

RPP also has some ridiculously decadent desserts. So, of course I had to get one. I got the Misssippi mud pie to share with hubby.

As I'm sipping Warlock I'm nomming on the coffee ice cream pie. And I'm all like jinkies! The beer and the ice cream tasted perfect together.

Holy moly. Needless to say I was in a very happy place.

WarlockPours into a cherry brown with a floof of thick foam.

The aroma is incredible. Fresh pumpkin and subtle spices make this beer smell exceptionally inviting.

The taste is kind of wonderful.  Pleasantly pumkin-y without being overwhelmingly pumpkin-y. Vanilla, soft pie spices, a little cracker, and a touch of hops.

The mouthfeel is full and rich.

Warlock is pumpkin-y sweet-ish and nicely hoppy. Not at all overdone in any way.

An excellent beer! I would drink this again and again. Especially with ribs and ice cream!

Sunday, November 30, 2014


One of my favorite New Hampshire breweries is Tuckerman Brewing Company. They have consistently good tasty beer. You can find their brews in restaurants all over the state and surrounding areas.

I've visited their brewery on a number of occasions, but now they have a new and bigger brewery. If you're familiar with the location of the old brewery, you shouldn't have a difficult time finding their new location. It's right across the parking lot.  :)

So, when we were up for the holidays we swung by to check out their new digs.

Unfortunately, we missed the grand opening that was attended by local resident and Olympic champion Bode Miller.

I was impressed with the new brewery. They've certainly expanded the operation and their new tasting area is lovely. We signed up for the tour and settled in to sample some brews while we waited.

We were greeted by the lovely Amanda who served up the beer and was to be our tour guide.

The new brewery is awesome and all that, but I was wicked excited to try their new beer.

The new brew which is officially named TRale has the unofficial epithet of Bode Beer. However, the beer is actually named after the Turtle Ridge Foundation, a  non-profit youth and adaptive sports foundation created by Bode Miller's family. A portion of the sales of TRale will go to the charity.

TRale (4.9% ABV) is a kolsch. I love a good kolsch.  Mmm, so crisp and refreshing. TRale filled that bill quite nicely.

It poured a rich honey gold with a nice fluff of foam that lingered and clung to the glass.

 The aroma is a gentle array of bready malt with a touch of fruitiness.

The taste replicates the aroma quite nicely; mildly bready, a little fruity. Barely sweet, it is also gently hoppy without being overtly bitter. Pleasant and near to Kolsch perfection. The finish is dry and begs for more.

The mouthfeel is medium-light and effervescent.

TRale has a taste that is just what I want from a Kolsch. Clean, crisp and refresshing. Delish! I hope this becomes a Tuckerman staple brew!!

Overall: very good

Monday, November 24, 2014

Will run for beer!

It's been almost exactly three months to the day that I was inspired by Two Roads Brewing's Shore 2 the Pour 5K to get into a shape - a shape other than round - and run next year's race myself.

I am now 25 pounds lighter than that day and 17 pounds lighter than when I ran my first 5K two weeks later. I am in better physical condition than I've been in years - all due to exercising 2-3 hours every day and dieting. I managed to lose all that weight without eliminating beer from my diet. That's so not ever going to happen.

This weekend I ran another 5K; the first annual Beards & Beers 5k. Touted as "one of the manliest races you'll ever be a part of".  I don't know about that but there was beer at the finish. And that's all the reason I needed to participate.

Despite the frosty air, a lot of runners showed up to participate in the inaugural race. 

In attendance were many manly men sporting their No-Shave-November whiskers and lovely ladies donning (presumably) artificial facial hair.

Running alongside me were kindred spirits attesting to the fact that beer is the only motivation some of us need to cross the finish line.

How'd I do? Good for me, especially considering this is only my second 5K - 43:50.85. Thank you to my husband for hauling my fat ass across the finish line. Who ever's idea it was to put the finish at the summit of Mount Everest should be fired! Just sayin'.

The local breweries sponsoring the race were - Pioneer Beer, Olde Burnside Brewing, Hartford Better Beer, and Thomas Hooker Brewing.

I'd already had many of the brews being poured, so I focused my attention on those I hadn't yet had the opportunity to sample. I did, however, have at least one taste from each of the brewers.

Soft Spoken, a Biere de Table, by Thomas Hooker was my favorite beer of the day. It had loads of tingly champagne-like bubbles and a light wonderful Belgian-esque flavor. DE-lish!

A close second was The New Frontier, a double California style IPA, by Pioneer. Mmm, so crisp and fresh and hoppy. Yum!

Father Christmas Highland Ale, a Wee Heavy, Olde Burnside Brewing Company was also a very tasty offering!

Overall, it was a great day. A fun race for a good cause. And beer.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Art of Darkness

A brisk night, cozy fire, good friends, and beer.  And a perfect way to discover the Art of Darkness.

Art of Darkness (8.9% ABV) is a limited edition Belgian Strong Dark Ale brewed by Ommegang.

I first had this beer when it was originally released and it was delicious. This particular bottle had been cellared for a couple of years and it was remarkable. It definitely aged gracefully.

The cork slipped from the lip of the bottle with a healthy **pop**.

Art of Darkness poured a deep cherry black with a  thick pillowy head that left behind loose layers of lace.

The aroma is dark dried fruits, cherry, and cocoa with an underlying maltiness.

 The flavor bold dark sweet malt and burnt sugars.  The dried fruit and cherry flavors come through and cling to the palate followed by a whisper of chocolate. The aged brew is incredibly smooth tasting. The alcohol is nicely concealed but its presence was felt. The finish is malty sweet.

The mouthfeel is full and with soft  but lively carbonation. The richness of the beer seems to mellow out the bubbles.

Art of Darkness is intense and complex. This is as strong brew to be sipped and savored. The flavors change subtly as the beer warms in the glass.

Overall: very good

Monday, November 3, 2014

Cooking with beer - Witbier Shrimp and Avocado Salad

I'm on a quest to find new and interesting recipe ideas that fit into a light, healthy food plan.  Salad is the old standby but regular salads with fatty dressings get boring. I found a recipe similar to this one and kicked it up a notch. And added beer. It has a nice combination of flavors, textures, and ingredients.

The Belgian style witbier compliments the bright citrus & herbs and contrasts nicely with the shrimp and avocado.

It's fresh, tasty, cool. and most importantly it's satisfying. Or maybe even more important, it's super easy to make.

Enjoy! I did!

Belgian Witbier Shrimp and Avocado Salad

1 12-oz bottle of good Belgian Wit (or similar)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 pinch hot pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 lb. small cocktail shrimp
3 tablespoons chopped mint, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese, plus more for garnish
1/2 medium cucumber, peeled and diced
1/2 medium tomato, seeded and diced
2 small avocados, peeled and diced
4 cups shredded romaine

Reduce the beer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Reduce down to about 1/2 cup. Allow to cool.

Whisk together orange juice, lime juice, pepper, salt, hot pepper flakes, and cooled beer. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine shrimp with mint, cilantro, cheese, cucumber, tomatoes, and avocados.

Pour half of the dressing over the salad and gently toss to coat.

Divide lettuce on chilled plates. Drizzle evenly with remaining dressing.  Heap shrimp salad onto the center of the lettuce. Garnish with additional cheese, mint and cilantro leaves and serve.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sourcopia Beer Dinner

Two Roads Brewery recently hosted their second beer dinner. The first was awesome with excellent beer and food pairings (read about it here).

This one was even better. Admittedly, I was one the fence about paying the $90 per person price tag. But, since the first dinner was so great, I sucked it up and bought the tickets.

I'm so glad I did! It was worth it.

The Sourcopia Beer Dinner was an amazing experience. The beers were (of course) delicious and the food was fabulous.

This beer dinner featured pre-release tastings of four new Two Roads brews - three sours and Roadsmary's Other Baby - plus a course featuring the newly release Unorthodox Ale.

The food was prepared by Chef Plum (Kristopher Plummer). Each course was inspired by the beers he was pairing the course with and, in some dishes, the beer was used in the recipe.

As each beer was being served, brewmastter Phil Markowski discussed the brew and answered questions. Then Chef Plum would describe each course and why he paired the beer with it. Each dish went wonderfully well with the beer served with it.

My dining companions? Well, they were just delightful. We chatted and laughed and shared the experience. I finally got to meet Dan and Kristien ‏of  fellow bloggers OmNomCT. And got the chance to chat with Chef Plum. Of course, there were photo-ops with old friends and new friends.

Kriek (5.2% ABV) is a cherry infused lambic.

It is a hazy coppery orange color with a thin but clingy froth.

The aroma was mouthwateringly tart with the subtlest breath of fruit.

The taste, hmmm, not at all what I expected. My prior experience is that lambics are typically overly sweet and often syrupy. This was neither of these things and oh-so good. It was lip-smackingly tart and nary a bit sweet with whisper of cherries. The finish is dry and leaves you salivating.

The mouthfeel is light and tingly.

Overall: very good.

Gueuze (5.2% ABV) is a blend of young and older lambics.

It has a hazy honey appearance with a smallish white head.

The aroma tart and a wee bit funky.

The taste is wicked tart with a touch of Belgian funk. It very much reminded me of Krazy Pucker - Two Road's Berliner Weisse. Except it was so much more. More sour, more flavor. The finish is dry and crisp.

The mouthfeel is medium-light with loads of happy bubbles.

Overall: very good

Philsamic is an American wild ale brewed with aged balsamic vinegar.

It is a dark burnt orange color with a huge root-beer like head.

The aroma is difficult to describe. There is a definite undercurrent of balsamic.

The taste, indeed, has a balsamic quality without being vinegary. However, it wasn't nearly as balsamic-y as I had expected, Again, hard to describe as I have no basis for comparison. It has a kind of earthiness but not in a hoppy way. In fact, it's not bitter nor is it sweet nor particularly sour. It is truly unique. Definitely worth a try if you can get your hands on some.

Overall: interesting

Unorthodox (9.2% ABV) is a Russian imperial stout. It is Igor's Dream without the barrel aging will become a year-round offering.

It is as dark as pitch with a mocha colored head.

The aroma is roasty malts, dark cocoa, coffee, and a hint of hops.

The taste is true to the style - dark malts, bitter chocolate, roasted coffee, and dark dried fruit. There is some sweetness and a surprising bit of hoppiness. The finish is mildly bitter.

The mouthfeel is full and warm.

Overall: very good

Roadsmary's Other Baby (6.8% ABV) is a pumpkin beer. It is uncut and aged two months longer than the original Roadsmary's Baby.

It is a reddish orange with a loose lingering head.

The aroma . . . holy cow. You can literally drink in the smell and taste the beer. Pumpkin, spices, and awesomeness.

The taste is similar to Roadsmary's Baby but it is smoother, less spicy, and more fresh pumpkin. I like it so much better and that's saying something since I like Roadsmary's Baby so flippin' much. Crazy! Get this one while you can. Extremely limited release.

Overall: awesome.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Ommegang XV

There are few things that I find as relaxing and rejuvenating as camping. That is why, no matter what is going on in my life, I make the time to go camping at least once a year.

Camping to me is sleeping in a tent, chillin' by a raging fire, reading a good book, hanging with best friends, and . . . you got it! . . . drinking beer.

Traditionally, we bring a cooler full of easy drinking, slam-backable brew. This year it was Road Jam by Two Roads Brewery.  However, I also always bring along a few special brews to sip and savor.

The first beer of these year's camping trip was a special brew, indeed.

XV Reserve Ale was brewed by Ommegang to celebrate 15 years of beer making awesomeness.
I bought this extremely limited brew two years ago and have been cellaring it for a special occasion. Since our annual camping trip also coincides with our wedding anniversary, I think it was about time to bust it out.

XV (15th Anniversary Ale (9.6% ABV) is a Quadrupel.

It pours deep and dense with a tease of red. It is capped with a small but thick tan head that dissipates into a halo of foam that lingers around the edge of the glass.

The aroma is wow-rrific! It smells of rich dried fruits, dark sugars, yeast, warm spices.

The taste is intense and complex. Dark sweet malts are the base for dried fruit like prunes and raisins, burnt sugary molasses, spices like cocoa, clove, and pepper, bready yeast, toast and crackers. All this and it works wonderfully well. The alcohol? It's in there for sure. The beer tastes strong but it's not boozy. The finish is sweet but not sticky.

The mouthfeel is full and creamy and smooth.

Overall: very good.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Connecticut Brewers Fest

The Connecticut Brewers Fest was hosted by CT Beer Trail and presented by Two Roads Brewing

Craft beer makers from all over Connecticut were represented and offering samples.

I tasted 35 individual beers and the ones I especially liked I tasted again. And again.

It was fantastic to have the opportunity to chat with the brewers of some of the best beer our state has to offer. We are truly blessed with a great number of good brewers and breweries. And the number keeps going and going up.

All of the beers were good. There were so many different styles and flavors. Is it possible to pick a favorite? At the risk of offending, yes there was one beer that stood out among all the others. To me, at least.

It was actually two beers all mixed up into fabulous deliciousness called Pumpkin Cannoli Black and Tan by Shebeen Brewing.

Both beers are great on their own. I've already reviewed the cannoli beer (click here). The pumpkin was somewhat unique among pumpkin beer in that it wasn't a spiced pumpkin, just straight up beer brewed with natural pumpkin. Fresh and yummy. Together they were fantasmic.

Like I said there were lots of tasty brews on tap. And the competition to win over my taste buds was tight.

Surprising to me was that my second favorite brew was from New England Brewing Company. I know that NEBCO as a very loyal somewhat rabid following and I'll probably piss off someone for saying this, but I kind of have a love/dislike relationship with them. The beer they make that I love I really really love and the ones I don't like I simply don't like. Anyhoo . . . I flippin' love love LOVED the Weiss Trash Culture.  Oooooo baby that is one good Berliner Weiss! Holy shmokes! I absolutely love a good tart Berliner Weiss! YUM!

Other brewers in attendance were:

Back East - BAR - Beer’d  – Black Hog - Broad Brook - Cambridge House  - Charter Oak - City Steam - Cotrell - DuVig - Firefly Hollow - GW Beer - Half Full - Hooker - New England Brewing - Olde Burnside - Overshores - Relic - SBC - Shebeen - Stony Creek - Thimble Island - Two Roads - Weed - Willimantic

Thanks to CT Beer Trail for putting on such a fun beer filled event. And thanks to Two Roads Brewery for providing the perfect location.

Check out all my photos from the event click here.