Greetings from Bellingham! Today, in celebration of Mac getting a job, we opened Everybody’s Brewing’s Sprinkles. Part of their Tiny Tank Series (how cute is that?), this kettle-soured Red Ale is subtle and delicious. Sprinkles was brewed with dried hibiscus flowers, which gives it a gorgey dark-pink hue. Aromas of honey and cherry blend with a tangy, currant flavor to produce a softly sour, slightly musty, almost wine-like, perfect for the afternoon bev. Is that a style of beer yet? Perfect for the afternoon? It should be.



I’m working a few shifts at Hops and Hocks this week to cover for a friend who’s out of town. On Friday night one of my favorite customers came in, and he ended up giving me a really cool beer to try!


Finback Brewery was founded in 2013 by two longtime friends. After home brewing for eight years Basil Lee and Kevin Stafford left their full time jobs to launch Finback in Glendale, Queens. I’ve consistently been impressed with the brewery’s canned IPAs, but didn’t know what to expect from Procrastination–an IPA brewed with coffee.


Procrastination pours hazy, dusty orange–the color of a dirty grapefruit. The nose is mostly tropical fruit, with just a suggestion of coffee beans in the background. At first you think it drinks like your typical North East IPA–creamy mouthfeel, juicy, tropical hop sweetness–but then a wave of coffee swoops in. The bitterness you would expect to taste in a cup of coffee or IPA is there, but but there’s also the roasty, mocha quality characteristic of a dark beer. So cool!

This was only my second or third coffee IPA, and I enjoyed Finback’s execution more than the others I’ve tried. I like how they added coffee but maintained the light/medium body and juiciness I seek in an IPA. Do you have a coffee IPA recommendation? What about another unusual coffee-infused style?


I spent last weekend in Cincinnati visiting my best friend, and loyal BBs reader, Haley! Cincinnati has a booming craft beer scene, and we packed as much Cincy beer as we could into my short trip.
I arrived late on Friday night and we relaxed on Haley’s roof and enjoyed a couple cans of Rhinegeist Crash. Rhinegeist is probably Cincinnati’s most known craft brewery. The barely three-year-old operation has experienced enormous popularity and growth since opening in June 2013, and they just started expanding distribution to the East Coast. I really enjoyed the flavorful, easy drinking Crash pale ale. It has tropical hop notes, mild bitterness and a short, clean finish.
On Saturday morning we went to yoga at the newly renovated Central Parkway YMCA and browsed at The City Flea. Our first beer stop of the day was Taft’s Ale House, named for 27th President, William Howard Taft. Taft’s is housed in a renovated Evangelical church. The enormous three floor space has a bar on each floor, tons of seating, a private events space, and a full food menu. We grabbed flights on the top floor (in the balcony?) and took a seat to discuss the important issues of the day.😉
Unfortunately they were out of Haley’s favorite beer: Snake in the Grass, a Belgian-style blonde brewed with lemongrass and local basil. I thought all the beers I tried were solid. My favorite was the Nellie’s Key Lime Caribbean Ale, described by Haley’s husband Andrew as “the craft version of a Bud Light Lime.”  It’s a wheat beer brewed with key lime juice and coriander. So refreshing!
From Taft’s we walked to Rhinegeist, just half a mile up Elm Street. Rhinegeist was having their annual mini Oktoberfest inside, but we went straight to the rooftop bar–Haley and Andrew’s favorite in the city. Rhinegeist has a huge selection of beers and ciders on tap. I wish I could report on the rosé cider, but I only had eyes for beer! Andrew recommend Rhinegeist’s flagship IPA, Truth, the brewery’s most solid offering in his opinion. I wasn’t disappointed! Truth is packed with West Coast hops and effortlessly masks the 7.2% ABV. I also enjoyed Haley’s choice,  Chester, a dry saison brewed with sour cherries.
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The people-watching on the Rhinegeist roof is highly entertaining, but we finally tore ourselves away from lederhosen, bachelorettes, and dress-wearing runners to take in the view. Andrew and Haley pointed out all the old buildings being converted to swanky new apartment buildings and businesses. Like Bushwick, the landscape of Cincinnati is constantly changing, and understandably it hasn’t been without controversy.
From Rhinegeist we took Cincy’s new street car back to the apartment for a little r&r. Haley and I made this delicious, extra crunchy, pistachio guacamole, and we had more skyline time on their balcony. The coolest sight on the balcony might be the outhouse Andrew built for their dog, Zoe! Do you recognize the material on the roof?? It’s covered in different varieties of Rhinegeist beer cans! Such a great idea. Reduce, reuse, rep great beer.🙂
The main event on Saturday evening was a trip to the Cincinnati Oktoberfest, the largest Oktoberfest outside of Germany. We hopped back on the street car for a quick one mile trip downtown and emerged in a different world.
Although over half a million people turned out for “Oktoberfest Zinzinnati,” it wasn’t overwhelmingly crowded. We easily grabbed beers and found seats next to an Oom-pah band. Andrew got in touch with his German heritage, grooving along to the music, and even convinced Haley to get up and do the chicken dance with him (am I the only one who didn’t know it’s an Oktoberfest song??)
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Deciding that a lap was in order, we moseyed over to another band with a less traditional set list. An Oom-pah take on oldies and classic rock? You know we were into it. Another round of beers and we found ourselves in a Congo line sandwiched between a gaggle of very enthusiastic International students from the University of Cincinnati and a group of friendly middle-aged Midwesterners. It was one of those moments when you think, “How exactly did I get here?” but decide not to care because you’re having so much fun.
We ended the evening on the swings at the Smale Riverfront Park, recapping the day and gazing out at the John Roebling Suspension Bridge. The bridge spans the Ohio river between Cincinnati and Covington, Kentucky, and was built 30 years before Roebling started an even bigger project– the Brooklyn Bridge! When worlds collide, it’s a beautiful thing.
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Thank you, Haley and Andrew, for showing me such a good time in Cincinnati! I’m already thinking about my next trip. If you’re a craft beer lover, this growing city needs to be at the top of your vacation wish list!

Bae-Day Beer Tasting

Hey there, folks! It’s your old pal Maddy. You may remember me from less well written posts from like…a year ago…I know, I know…I’m the lazy sister. Anywho, we’re gathered here today to discuss a delish beer tasting held in honor of Rach!Rachie and Flowers

During our vacation in Folly Beach, we were lucky enough to spend Rachel’s birthday together as a family.

There was a lot of this:
Charleston 2


IMG_4313 (1)But it’s not a birthday with the Barley Babes without a beer tasting! Without further ado, here are our thoughts on the Bae-Day Beer Tasting and #Splash Celebration.


First up, Prairie Flare Gose from Prairie Artisan Ales. I was super stoked to find this gem at the Charleston Beer Exchange for two reasons.

1.The gose is my most favorite style of Beer.

2.Prairie can do no wrong in my opinion.


The addition of orange results in a tart, pulpy, orange juice flavor that was both highly drinkable and very enjoyable. My Dad described it as zippy, and I think that’s spot on. It’s bright and slightly salty. Also, look at the little Kanye flare button. Adorbs!


Next, we sampled Evil Twin’s Food & Beer, an all brett pale ale brewed with peaches– Ed’s contribution to the tasting. Evil Twin brewed this beer to celebrate the release of their book, Food & Beer. The book is a shout out to the fact that beer can be the perfect complement to a meal. Probably going to order a copy; that’s my kinda book.


Mom immediately picked up on a bandaidy flavor that at first I didn’t taste. It’s so cool how our palates become accustomed to certain flavors over time! As the beer warmed a bit, I started to notice some of the more complex flavors like creamy peach, funky band aid, and mild, musty grain. Typing those descriptors, I feel like they sound like they would all be really potent, deep flavors, but they were light and balanced one another.

Brand New Eyes1

We moved onto a farmhouse saison called Brand New Eyes from Birds Fly South Ale Project. For me, Brand New Eyes wins the best packaging award. It is just damn dreamy! Do you ever see a gorgeous label and wonder “Who came up with that brilliant packaging?” I know I do, and I was delighted to see that the artist, Chris Koelle, was included on the label.


Brewed with Motueka hops and a house yeast, then bottle conditioned for a month with brett and wine yeast, Brand New Eyes is complex and superbly crafted. The New Zealand hops lend a tropical, sweet aroma that cuts the tartness of the sharp funk. The flavor developed from tangy vinegar, to sticky kumquat, and finished with a soft, champagne like yeastiness. This was a crowd favorite!

American Sour1

We ended the tasting with another Birds Fly South creation, The American Sour, brewed in collaboration with Thomas Creek Brewing Co. This delicious aperitif begins as a golden saison, then is aged and soured on various fruits for over a year. Our bottle had been aged over black currants, but there were also varieties featuring cherry, blackberry, and raspberry. The 6.8% wild ale had a hazy, ruby coloring and tasted like tangy sangria. It was super jammy, nicely complementing the funky backbone. I paired it with the chocolate cake of my cupcake, and it really took it to the next level.

American Sour2


So there you have it! Straight from the horse’s mouth! If I do say so myself, this was one of our best tastings yet.

Until next time….hopefully not a year from now,


The Charleston Beer Exchange

While waiting for us gals to arrive on Saturday, our dad and Ed did some exploring in downtown Charleston. They stumbled upon a cute beer shop near the battery called Beer Exchange. We returned to Beer Exchange during our Charleston day, and after browsing their exciting selection, quickly decided to buy a few bottles for an impromptu (birthday) beer tasting.
The Beer Exchange was Charleston’s first craft beer store when it opened in the fall of 2008. In addition to 900+ bottles and cans, they have nine rotating draft lines to fill growlers, and will ship any of the beers listed on their website (state laws permitting). One of the coolest services they provide is personalized beer tastings for parties or business events. You can hire the Beer Exchange staff to come to your home and deliver a blind tasting of several different beers of the same style, brewery-specific tastings, or chocolate and cheese pairings– just to name a few of the options.
In contrast to our experience at Westbrook, the Beer Exchange staff couldn’t have been friendlier. After asking where we were visiting from, the cashier pointed out the famous Tørst glasses available for purchase–owners Scott Shor and Rich Carley have a close relationship with Jeppe of Evil Twin. We told her that a visit to Westbrook was on the agenda, and she suggested visiting The Revelry, a new brewery downtown, and Edmund’s Oast, a brewpub also owned by Shor and Carley. She was clearly passionate about beer, but totally unpretentious– a rare thing in the beer world.
Photo credit: The Beer Exchange
For our tasting we decided on two local beers and a couple interesting bottles from old favorites. Prairie’s Flare, a citrus-forward gose, and a black currant sour by SC’s Thomas Creek were the crowd favorites. But that, my friends, is a post for another day. Have a great weekend!

Westbrook Brewing

The Chitwood family just got back from a lovely vacay in Folly Beach, South Carolina! While there we drank a lot of good beer (..and rosé..and prosecco..). The SC beer scene had definitely improved since our last trip. The highlight of the week was finally visiting Westbrook Brewing Company, a longtime favorite of the Barley Babes.

Westbrook only packages a handful of their beers, and we were excited to see a draft list filled with brews we’d never tried, or for that matter, heard of. Maddy ordered a flight of small pours for group, and we got a few pints as well. Two standouts from M’s flight were the Key Lime Pie Gose and Coconut Weisse Weisse Baby. The KLPG is loaded with tangy, sour lime and rounds out with a graham cracker finish. Maddy noted graham cracker on the nose too; Westbrook nailed this one!  The table also enjoyed my pint of juicy Nelson Sauvin IPA. It’s the style of IPA I’ve come to expect from NYC breweries like Grimm and Other Half. Finally, we were excited to try the Mexican Cupcake, a session version of Westbrook’s hyped imperial stout brewed with habanero peppers. The cupcake didn’t quite live up to the cake, but it’s nice that you can experience almost the same flavor profile in a lighter, lower ABV beer. Great for summer!

The small tap room was hopping on Friday evening. Groups of friends gathered for post-work pints and young parents kept a relaxed eye on their kids over flights. Like us, I think everyone was looking for an air conditioned spot to drink beer and escape the oppressive SC heat.
Our only complaint about the visit is that the Westbrook staff wasn’t very friendly. No one that helped us was overtly rude, but they seem to keep lines short by taking an all-business approach to customer service. I didn’t feel comfortable asking to taste before ordering, and when I ordered a beer that had just run out, the bartender walked away instead of recommending something else. We’re often on the other side of the counter, so we understand the stress that comes with a busy weekend night. I guess we just wanted to experience a deeper personal connection with the staff since we’ve loved Westbrook for so long.
We’ll have more highlights from our trip later this week! Another favorite destination: The Charleston Beer Exchange!

Beer Ice Cream

For the past couple months I’ve been working part time for Tipsy Scoop, a NYC-based, liquor-infused ice cream company. Sounds like a dream job, right? I met the founder, Melissa Tavss, when she came into H&H to do a tasting about a year ago. We immediately bonded over our shared Virginia roots (she has family that went to UVA!), and usually spent most of her tasting hours chatting.


IMG_3385I had no idea that helping out at Tipsy Scoop would mean getting to work alongside a whole group of inspiring women. The TS team is all female and we share a kitchen space with Laurie & Sons, a chocolate company operated by two sisters. I’ve never been in an environment with a group of people this dedicated and hardworking; it’s incredibly rewarding.

Laurie & Sons Dark Chocolate Toffee with Maine Sea Salt

Tipsy Scoop has 30+ flavors of booze-filled ice cream, and you guessed it, one of those features beer. Chocolate Stout and Pretzel is a chocolate ice cream base with Young’s Chocolate Stout and salted pretzels that we chop and add by hand.


The BBs obviously think beer and chocolate are a match made in heaven. Remember that incredible chocolate drizzle we made with Southern Tier Mokah a few years ago? What about our Valentine’s Day beer and chocolate pairing? However, we recognize that many beer novices aren’t down with the dark stuff. The good thing about this ice cream, considering it’s produced for a large, diverse audience, is the stout flavor is discernible in the roasty, malty aftertaste, but every bite doesn’t scream, “YOU’RE DRINKING A STOUT.” My favorite part is when I get a big chunk of salty pretzel—gotta love that salty/sweet combo!

The ice cream machine in action
The ice cream machine in action

I’m hoping Tipsy Scoop will produce more beer flavors in the future. A boozier imperial stout blend would be incredible, or what about a sour sorbet? We’ve already been talking about a shandy flavor for summer. If you want to try the Chocolate Stout and Pretzel, or one of the other tasty flavors (Cake Batter Vodka Martini! Raspberry Limoncello Sorbet! Spiked Hazelnut Coffee!), we ship anywhere in the US. Check out the website and pick your poison.

Happy Saturday!

The Word on Beer Street


I hope you all had relaxing, fun, holiday weekends. The roomies and I were fortunate enough to spend a few days in Shelter Island with Ed, his girlfriend Andrea, and her friends from college. I sure am missing this view! It’s always hard to adjust to reality after vacation. Luckily, there’s a lot of interesting beer news this week to help you ease back in.

Just in time for summer, fruit beers are the next big thing!

Now you can make beer at home using the SodaStream Beer Bar. The author of the article likens it to microwaving a frozen dinner, but who doesn’t enjoy a good Lean Cuisine from time to time?

Budweiser –oops, I mean America made a non-alcoholic beer. The 0.0% ABV beer “is intended to taste precisely like Budweiser.” So…do with that what you will.

How many of these summer drinking spots have you tried, New Yorkers?

The economic crisis in Venezuela has citizens waiting in line for basic necessities for as long as five hours a day. With a shortage on bread, milk, diapers, and toilet paper, running out of beer seems like the least of their worries.

Can’t wait to try this non-alcoholic, chicken-flavored beer brewed with dandelion and flax! Just kidding, it’s for dogs.

“The Commonwealth of Virginia is quickly becoming the San Diego of the East.” Stone, Green Flash, Deschutes, and now Ballast Point are all opening locations in our home state.

No roundup would be complete without a beer-infused recipe. This Blackberry Peach Saison Galette looks incredible!

Happy Wednesday! Look at that, we’re halfway to the weekend already..


Rhubarb Strawberry Margs

Do you need a Humpday treat? Or a festive bev for the upcoming holiday weekend? As promised, here’s our take on the Minimalist Baker’s Rhubarb Strawberry Margaritas. Minimalist Baker is a food blog with recipes that require 10 ingredients or less, only use one bowl, or take less than 30 minutes to prepare. Many of the recipes are vegan, so Riles has become a loyal follower.


The only intensive part of this recipe is making the rhubarb strawberry syrup and giving it time to chill– that’s why the prep time is so long. After chopping your fruit, add it to a saucepan with water and sugar and allow it to simmer for about 5 minutes. As the fruit cooks, mash with a wooden spoon so it gets soft and mushy; the MB describes the final product as looking like pie filling. Next, drain the syrup  by putting the cooked fruit through a mesh strainer. We employed a reusable coffee filter for this step– very effective.

The recipe suggests allowing the syrup to cool for a couple of hours in the fridge, or popping it in the freezer for a quicker chill. We chose the freezer, and enjoyed our Potter’s Cider while we waited.


For each marg, combine 5 tbsp. of the syrup, one shot tequila, 1 tbsp. lime juice, and 2 tsp. agave nectar in a cocktail shaker, and give it a healthy shake. If you’re making these for a crowd, we hope you have a bigger cocktail shaker than the one at the Chitwood household. Our tiny shaker could only make one drink at a time, so it took a bit longer. (Can you tell we’re beer people?)

While Riley practiced her bar-tending skills, I worked on salting the rims of our glasses. The recipe suggested running a lime around the edge of the glass before dipping to make the salt stick better. In the past I’ve used water for this step, and lime juice worked a lot better. Although this beverage comes out pink and fruity, it truly isn’t sweet or sugary. Rhubarb and strawberry bring a refreshing tartness to this classic cocktail, and completely mask the tequila.

So there you have it! The Barley Babes drink tequila sometimes and we ain’t sorry ’bout it. Hope these quench your thirst on the first really hot day we’ve had this year! It’s supposed to be 88 in NY today. Praise him.



Potter’s Grapefruit Hibiscus

This time last week I was driving down to Virginia for a long weekend. Unfortunately, it rained most of the time I was there, just as it did at Christmas. It seems like I bring the bad weather! We certainly made the best of things, though.


Saturday’s main event was a cookout featuring plenty of beer and burgers. On Sunday we packed in brunch at home, a movie, a walk on the Huckleberry Trail, and dinner at Mellow Mushroom. I was excited that the draft list at the Blacksburg Mellow had improved since my last visit. I enjoyed one of my favorite southern IPAs, the Foothills Jade.

On Monday our grandmother treated the sisters to lunch at Radford’s new coffee shop. We were so impressed! The food at Radford Coffee Company is fresh and tasty, and the proceeds are used to educate children who live in rural communities alongside Nicaragua’s Ri Coco river.
Tuesday morning we ventured out for a quick, foggy hike in Salem, followed by lunch at Grandin’s Local Roots. I had my only Get Bent of the trip over lunch and it was as delicious as always (the $2.50 price tag certainly didn’t hurt). Since Riley and I were dining with local celebs, the generous LR staff sent us a complimentary cheeseboard to start. Those pickled strawberries are something special!
On my final night we celebrated Taco Tuesday–a Chitwood family staple. While chopping veggies and waiting for dad to get home from work, the gals split Potter’s Grapefruit Hibiscus Cider. This dry, tart beauty drinks more like rosé than cider. It has juicy grapefruit upfront, followed by subtle notes of hibiscus, sweet apple, and oak. My mouth is salivating just remembering the delicate, yet bright flavors. Potter’s launched this seasonal variety last summer; I hope to find more when I’m in Charlottesville in June.
Taco Tuesday also featured Strawberry Rhubarb Margaritas by the Minimalist Baker. Cider is not beer, and margaritas are DEFINITELY not beer, but the world needs to know how good these are! Expect a full write up next week. After all, half the fun of having your own blog is getting to make the rules.