Happy Halloween! The gals of 287 Evergreen had quite a festive weekend. Saturday night Allison and I planned a pumpkin beer/cider tasting to have before we went to a Halloween party. The standouts on the list were Downeast’s Pumpkin Blend and the Evil Twin/Two Roads Pachamama. Pachamama is a porter brewed with sweet potatoes, purple mais, and chili peppers. It has a nice sweet potato/coffee aroma, and then the flavor is roasty, chocolatey, and slightly spicy from the peppers. So good!
I was most excited about Flying Dog’s Gourd Standard, which is described as a pumpkin IPA. It isn’t a bad beer, but I didn’t really think it tasted like an IPA. It reminded me a lot of the Pumking actually–pumpkiny, slightly sweet, and boozy on the finish.
Sunday we spent the day recuperating and watching Stranger Things! Have you seen it? We were a little late to the game, but once we started we couldn’t stop. Perfect spooky show for Halloween weekend! How are you guys celebrating the holiday? Any pumpkin beers in your fridges? Making yourselves sick on candy corn? 😉 Tell us, tell us!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
Our wonderful sister Riley graduated from high school this weekend, which means that the Barley Babes were reunited for a weekend of family, fun, and beer! We drank a couple of cool beers that we’re excited to tell you about later in the week, but in honor of Riley, let us begin with cider.
Riles is more into cider than beer, so we planned a cider tasting on Saturday afternoon. We started things off with Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider, a medium-dry cider with a clean apple flavor. This one set the bar high; our tasters raved about how crisp and flavorful it was.
Cider two is one of Riley’s go-tos: Crispin Original. We all agreed that it was a bit of a let down after Samuel Smith’s. After getting used to SS’s higher level of carbonation, Crispin seemed almost flat. The semi-sweet apple taste is very present at the beginning of each sip, but it dissipates too quickly, leaving you wanting more flavor.
Next we gave Bold Rock’s new pear cider a try. We’ve posted about Bold Rock several times, and as you know, we think all of their ciders are delicious. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a lot of pear from this one! It mostly just tasted like Bold Rock Virginia Apple. Our mom and Riley said the pear flavor is more predominant in Crispin Pacific Pear.
Fourth on the menu was DeMunck’s Belgian-Style Hard Cider, a cider made by NY-based brewing company Southern Tier. Like all the other ciders we tasted, this one only weighs in at around 5% ABV, but our tasters found it to be boozy and almost reminiscent of wine, which was mentioned by other reviewers when I looked this one up on RateBeer.
The next standout was B. Nektar’s The Dude’s Rug, a cider made with tea and chai spices. This was Riley’s favorite of the tasting!! Seriously, if you’re in a pinch and need an easy, last-minute present for her, grab some Dude’s Rug.** As a huge fan of chai tea lattes, she loved the spicy cinnamon and ginger flavors. We all agreed that this would be a great fall beverage, and made plans to try warming some once the weather gets colder to make a mulled wine-esque concoction. It’ll be perfect to sip on while cuddled up together in front of the Family Stone!
We closed with an oldy but a goody, Potter’s Hop Cider. We first fell in love with this at a cider festival at Castle Hill, a cidery located in Keswick, VA. We’re so excited to finally be able to find it in bottles! Potter’s Hop drinks like a standard semi-dry hard cider, but has a subtle hop flavor from the addition of Citra and Amarillo hops. I read that they use a device called a hop back to run the hops through the cider just long enough to add hop flavor and aroma. Because the hops aren’t heated, the bitterness is left out. This cider is delicious, but what we like most is that it bridges the gap between cider and beer. At the end of the day, we’re still the Barley Babes!
Congratulations, Riles! We love you and are so proud of all you’ve accomplished!
**Once she is 21. It was legal for Riley to drink at this tasting because she’s over 18, it occurred at a private non-alcohol selling premise (our home), and she had parental consent. No laws were broken during this afternoon of fun!
It’s official, my favorite part of working at Hops & Hocks is getting to meet so many interesting, inspiring NYC brewers. Last Saturday, Juan Camilo of Dyckman Beer Co. was in the shop sampling his Café Con Leche, a light, smooth, milk stout with a huge coffee flavor and notes of cocoa.
Four years ago, while working a less-than-stimulating job as an investment banker, Juan started homebrewing as a hobby. Shortly thereafter, while looking at a list of NYC breweries sorted by borough, he noticed a significant gap in his neighborhood of Uptown Manhattan. The wheels started turning. Juan threw all his energy into a business plan for what is now Dyckman Beer Co., a brewery inspired by the people and spirit of Uptown. The Café Con Leche exemplifies this inspiration. It’s made with Café Bustelo, a Cuban-style coffee and bodega standard in NYC. Juan decided to use Café Bustelo because he grew up seeing it in his local bodega and drinking it at home.
Unfortunately, the weather was gray and bleak on Saturday, so it wasn’t as busy in the shop as it’s been during past tastings. This gave me more time to talk to Juan about Dyckman’s plans for the future, though. They’ve been brewing at Thomas Hooker in Connecticut, but are in the process of purchasing an old bread factory in Uptown that will serve as a brewing facility, tasting room, and restaurant! Juan also told me a little bit about the beers he currently has in the works. Those in the NYC area should be on the lookout for Dyckman’s cherry red saison, passion fruit wit, and Suave IPA, a session IPA (love the name!). If those beers are as tasty as the Café Con Leche, Dyckman’s future is very bright. 🙂
Hey guys! So I know we talk about tacos a lot, but let’s face it, they might be the world’s most simple, delicious, and versatile meal, so let’s talk about ’em again. On my last night in Connecticut, Amanda’s dad, Ron, made an amazing taco Tuesday dinner and we sampled six different beers, all from CT!
We tried most of the beers before dinner, and Amanda kept careful track of which went best with our chips and guac appetizer. The verdict: Stony Creek Brewing’s amber lager, Dock Time, and the Thomas Hooker Blonde Ale. Not only does Dock Time have a bottle that could be considered a work of art, but this malt-forward lager is full-flavored while remaining light and crisp. Dock Time is exactly the right name; we were all imagining ourselves by the pool with a cooler of these babies.
We also loved the artwork on the two Black Hog Brewing cans that we sampled. Granola Brown pours and drinks more like a porter than a brown, but who even knows what constitutes a brown ale anymore?? It has notes of roasted nuts and coffee, and bitterness that lingers a tad too long. While we’re not sure we’d bring this one on a hike (as the can suggests), I think it would be a good beer to enjoy after dinner with a chunky chocolate chip cookie.
Black Hog’s session Rye IPA (Easy Rye’Da..so cute), went better with the salty chips, but wasn’t as balanced as we would have liked. We felt like the bitterness overpowered the rye and citrus flavors. The other session IPA of the group, Around the Clock, was a completely different story. Its big, piny hop flavor is perfectly complemented by the five different malts that Top Shelf Brewing packed into this beer. Ron isn’t really an IPA guy, but he liked this one.
Finally the tacos were ready! Ron ate his with an old standby, Coors Light 😉 and Amanda and I split City Steam Brewery’s Double IPA, Innocence. To be honest, I can’t remember much about this beer because I was SO focused on my tacos. Ron’s spread featured three different kinds of tortillas and every topping you could imagine: sautéed veggies, cabbage slaw, shredded romaine, three different types of cheese, guac, corn salsa, regular salsa, spicy ranch dressing, and probably more things that I’m forgetting! My tacos were so packed I had to eat them with a fork!
As you can imagine, we were totally stuffed after this meal, but not too stuffed for ice cream! It’s a good thing that Amanda’s kitty was there to help us finish off our bowls of mint chocolate chip. 😉
Thanks so much to Ron and Amanda for my amazing three day vacay in Connecticut! I never wanted to leave your comfy home (and all that beer, pasta salad, and fudge…), and I already can’t wait to go back! You two are seriously the best hosts a Barley Babe could ask for.
HELLO! Happy spring! Happy Thursday! Tuesday was a good day for beer. First and foremost, the new batch of Boulevard’s Love Child has finally landed in Blacksburg! AND GUESS WHO SCORED A BOTTLE? Me, bitches. While I want to drink this Goddess of a beer tonight all by myself, I’ve decided to save it for my graduation in May. Do ya hear that, Rach? Big fun ahead!
Want to know another reason that Tuesday was a great beer day?
Barrel Chest is a beer and wine store in Roanoke with one of the best tap lists in the area, in my opinion. Tuesday I stopped by with my friend Cindy to shop and drink. My favorite thing about Barrel Chest is that you can get reasonably priced 4 oz pours of all the beers on draft. With so many good options, this is a must! We sampled 5 awesome beers, starting with the Founders Rubaeus.
The Rubaeus poured a sweet pink hue, with just enough sweetness and flavor from the addition of the raspberries. Light bodied at 5.7% and slightly tart, this brew had us dreaming of summer dresses and garden parties. This is a warm weather beer if I’ve ever had one!
Next up, Terrapin’s Hop Selection Ella Double IPA. Personally, I’m a Terrapin fan in general, so this DIPA was a must try! Their Hop Selection program features their favorite hop variety of the season; in this case it was Ella, an Australian variety known for it’s floral, spicy aroma. We found the Hop Selection insanely juicy and packed with flavor. Cindy equated it to a Peach Mamba. We both decided Ella hops are straight up de-li-cious as we downed this brew in what seemed like moments.
“How do they make it taste so much like weed smells?”
That sums it up best for us on this one.
I guess it’s something about things grown in the Northwest? 😉
I had long awaited the moment I got to try our next sample: Stone’s Chai Spiced Russian Imperial Stout. I’m about that chai life. The nose was heavy spice, mainly cinnamon, and rich dark grain. It smelled HEAVENLY, YOU GUYS. This RIS was supa smooth and dark chocolatey, with ginger and cinnamon all up in there. I really wanted a bigger pour of this one.
After the heavy stout we were both craving something with a bite, so we went ahead and ordered one more sample. We chose the BFM Square Root 225, a barrel aged saison. For me, this beer stole the show. It was so funky and had the perfect amount of lip puckering. We both decided that sour beers would forever be our favorite style of beer. I honestly can’t get enough sour in my life.
Last night I went to a free beer tasting at a beer shop on the Upper East Side, City Swiggers. The featured brewery was Two Brothers Brewing Company, which is located in Warrenville, IL, right outside of Chicago. It’s kind of funny that there’s a Three Brothers Brewing in VA, and a Four Sons Brewing in CA! Now we need some sisters up in there..dontcha think?
I really liked all of Two Brothers’ beers, even their gluten-free option. The standouts for me were Revelry (an imperial red), Ebel’s Weiss (a hefeweizen), and Sidekick (an extra pale ale). Despite having 120+ IBUS, Revelry is extremely balanced and drinkable. The weiss has a strong, but pleasant banana aroma and flavor, and Sidekick is the kind of light, juicy beer that would be a real crowd-pleaser at a cookout.
I also want to mention their Peppermint Bark Porter; I had never heard of a peppermint flavored beer! When I smelled my tasting cup I was a little nervous, because it has a lot of mint on the nose, but the peppermint flavor is actually quite subtle. The brewey rep said he was hesitant when the brewers decided to attempt this, but was pleased with the result. It’s basically just a delicious, chocolatey porter with a smidge of Christmas.
Swigger City is really cool shop. At the front there’s a huge wooden bar surrounded by shelves and refrigerators of assorted bottles. This is where the tasting was held, and it was nice that there was actually room for everyone to stand around the bar! I didn’t have to fight my way through a crowd of people for each sample, or feel like I was blocking others from getting to the beer.
In the back there’s a bar with 14 taps and plenty of tables to sit and enjoy a pint. I didn’t stay for a full beer because I’m trying to be responsible and save money (groan), but I’ll definitely go back with friends on the weekend. Thanks to the generous pours of the Two Brothers rep, I got my buzz on fo’ free last night. 😉
Happy February, friends! We’re starting out this month of love, candy, and frigid temperatures with a very special guest post from our friend, Amanda. Enjoy!
♥ ♥ ♥
Cheers from Salt Lake City! I’m Amanda, friend and fan of the Barley Babes. I just moved to Utah a few months ago and have been trying to keep my craft beer obsession alive in a relatively “dry” state. Beer import is restricted, nothing on draft in the entire state can be over 4% ABV, and full-strength beer is only sold at state-run liquor stores. Despite this, SLC has some awesome local breweries such as Epic and Uinta, and there are gems to be found at the liquor and grocery stores if you look hard enough.
In order to get our fix of full-strength beers, my boyfriend Matt and I recently started to homebrew. I highly recommend trying this out if you want a more intimate understanding of your beer. As a beer lover, it is so neat to smell the hops and malted barley, and to steep the grains and watch water turn into bubbly, brown wort.
Our first brew attempt was an ESB, an Extra Special Bitter, which is an English style ale characterized by toasty malt and often fruit flavors. Despite the name, ESB tends not to be very bitter. It is usually around 5% ABV, dark copper or amber in color, with low carbonation. We used the Beer Nut’s ESB malt extract kit, but more experienced brewers often choose their own grain, malt, and hops.
To debut our homebrew to our friends, we decided to put together an ESB tasting. However, we could only find one ESB at our local liquor store, so we expanded our tasting to English-style pale ales. Surprisingly, we came up with a pretty cohesive group of beers. We paired our bitter ales with Jarlsberg, Havarti, and Asiago cheese, crackers, and homemade French fries (my attempt at English “chips”). The result was bloody brilliant.
We did a blind tasting of Firestone 31 Pale Ale, Anderson Valley Belk’s ESB, Bass Pale Ale, Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Samuel Smith’s India Ale, and our homebrew. The nearly-unanimous favorite was Anderson Valley Belk’s ESB, which is a true Extra Special Bitter ale. Pours pale orange with nice head formation. Spiced, boozy nose with notes of biscuit and sweet fruit. Orange, hop resin and sugar on the palate balanced by bready malt. Sweetness nicely cut by bitter hops.
A beer that stood out and surprised us was Samuel Smith’s India Ale. Pours clear and golden with a nice lacy head. Aromas of raisin and butterscotch, reminding us of a Belgian ale. The initial flavors are buttery caramel, biscuit, and candied fruit. Clean finish with pleasant bitterness. Mouth feel is smooth and gooey.
Our homebrew generally scored in the middle, with most of us ranking it 3 out of 6. It pours a cloudy chestnut brown with a nice lacy head. The nose is very sweet, with notes of honey and musk. The toasty malts represent the style well, but could use more bitter hops to balance the sweetness. Slightly filmy mouth feel. Overall, a tasty if not unrefined ESB.
For the quintessential representation of the style, I recommend Fuller’s ESB. It pairs well with fried food, and anything British, so put on some David Bowie or a Harry Potter movie, pour yourself a tall one, and have a jolly good time! Thanks for reading.
♥ ♥ ♥
Thank you for sharing your first homebrewing experience with us, Amanda and Matt! Sounds like it was a huge success. If only those strict Utah alcohol laws didn’t prevent you from shipping beer to other states… 😉
We had a fabulous weekend! Lake Street Dive, one of our favorite bands, put on a two-night concert in Charlottesville, one of our favorite cities, and we went with our two favorite girls! What more could we ask for??
On Saturday night we did a Lake Street Dive-themed beer tasting. Unfortunately, we weren’t overly impressed by any of the beers that we tried, but that’s why themed tastings can be a bit of a gamble.
We started things off with Harpoon’s Pumpkin UFO. The members of Lake Street Dive met at the New England Conservatory in Boston, 15 minutes from Harpoon. We like to think that maybe after a long day of classes, playing music, and studying, they bonded at Harpoon over beers?? Harpoon’s Pumpkin is decent, but it’s certainly nothing to include in the Great Pumpkin Tasting of 2015. We all agreed that it could use more pumpkin flavor and more spice. Interestingly, some tasters noted a slight bourbon aroma.
Beer number two was the “Lager of the Lakes” by Bell’s. You know that we aren’t lager gals, but we needed a beer with “lake” in the title, and were pleasantly surprised by this one. It’s balanced, has a slightly sweet, grain flavor, and Caitlin detected a hint of citrus. If we had to drink a lager, we’d choose this. Plus, isn’t the bottle great? Dad, we know you’ll love the map.
The Lagunitas Censored, a rich copper ale, has a lot going on on the nose. We picked up on smells of sweet fruit, brown sugar, and a hint of liquor. The flavor profile is reminiscent of the Lagunitas Sucks, one of Rachel’s favorite beers, but the Censored is wayy less hoppy. In fact, it’s probably the least hoppy Lagunitas beer we’ve ever tried. Oh! I almost forgot. We chose this brew because the first song that really turned us on to LSD was their cover of “Rich Girl” by Hall and Oates. Do yourself a favor and go listen to their version right. dang. now. Also, prepare to fall in love.
The fourth beer was one of the favorites of the tasting. We chose Green Flash’s Hop Head Red in honor of LSD lead singer, Rachael Price’s gorgeous red hair. The Hop Head’s earthy hops are so well balanced by its caramel, malt base, we were shocked to find out that it’s over 8% ABV.
“Label says, ‘Love at first sip,’ but I loved Rachael Price at first sight.” – Cait
Our fifth brew was also from the Boston area (well..it’s from Masachusetts at least). The Crunkle Sam by Clown Shoes is an American Barleywine, one of the strongest beer styles. Despite its booziness, we thought that the noticeable hop presence made this beer dangerously drinkable. As Allison wrote in her notes: “Boozy and hoppy in perfect harmony.”
We don’t have a great explanation for why we picked beer six. Mostly we just thought the can was cool. Although, if the members of LSD are reading this, we would love to have a fireside chat sometime.
21st Amendment’s Fireside Chat has notes of cherry, coffee, and spice on the nose. As a “Winter Spiced Ale” we expected it to have a fuller mouth feel, but it was disappointingly light bodied and didn’t pack the flavor punch we hoped for. It also had a strange, iron/blood aftertaste. I think Maddy said it best…“Good, but I’m disappointed because it’s brewed with blood.”
What followed the tasting was a truly magical, totally unforgettable evening of music, dancing, and more beer (obviously). Thank you, Lake Street Dive, for the best weekend we’ve had…ever?
Lee: Consistently good all the way through; no bad aftertaste. Pam: Would go great with fall food. Spices stand out more than the pumpkin flavor. DELICIOUS. I could drink a lot of this bev 😉 Maddy: Lil’ funky from the farmhouse-esqueness. Light, crisp, ez drankin’ Laura: Great. [It took her a little while to get warmed up…] Rach: Very Belgian. Slight booziness emerges as it warms.
Lee: I liked the first one better. Pam: Clove and nutmeg stand out Maddy: Very spicy, immediately on your lips. Pumpkin pie spices. Laura: Spicy. [Don’t worry, she’ll catch on..and when she does, it’s genius] Rach: Tea quality to it. Tastes like a chai tea latte. Don’t like this one as much.
Lee: Not a fan of the art work. Powerful maple aroma. Pam: Maple flavor, but not sweet. Boozy? Maddy: Smells like a salty sweet potato- YUM! Little bit of rum at the end… Laura: Breakfast beer; we should have topped this with bacon. Thicker (like cream soda), cinnamon, brown sugar Rach: Don’t like as much as I did on tap, but still really good. Maple has a strong presence, boozy aftertaste.
“I wish ships were still wooden, ya know?”
-Maddy, very contemplatively, while drinking the Maple Mistress
Southern Tier Pumking (2013)
NOTE: This was our first experiment in aging a beer and we were quite pleased with the results. We kept it in the refrigerator in our parents basement for a little over a year. I read on a forum yesterday that you should store aging brews upright, and I’m happy to report that we did…luckily…despite being completely unaware of this recommendation.
Lee: Picking up on apple flavor/smell. Pam: Not like cough syrup anymore, more pumpkin taste. Smells like a Yankee Candle. Maddy: Smells pumpkiny and less syrupy- like the vegetal [original spelling preserved] pumpkin. Favorite so far, very flavorful. Laura: Bud Light mixed with Scentsy wax. Crumpled autumn leaves with sap. [See what I mean?] Rach: Has really mellowed; not nearly as boozy as last year. Less spicy than the others we’ve had so far.
Lee: Maple at the end. Maybe a little bit bitter? Pam: Tastes a lot like the 2013. Maybe they figured out how to make it taste good without needing to age it for a year. Maddy: Flavor is the same as 2013, but much longer lasting. Spice on the nose. Laura: Looks like Shock Top! Stronger! Pumpkin rokks [this last part is underlined several times] Rach: Like this even more than the 2013; richer and more crisp. Delicious with the aged gouda.
Lee: I still don’t like stouts. Pam: I’m finally starting to like stouts! Maddy: Favorite pumpkin beer ever!!! Goes great with spicy squash on pizza. Subtle coffee and pumpkin flavors. Laura: I love it. Roasted pumpkin, chocolate, molasses. Smoother than a lot of stouts, velvety. Rach: [Was apparently too busy stuffing her face with pizza to take notes…]