Sprinkles

sprinkles

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.

-Maddy

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Procrastination

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!

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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.

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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?

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:
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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.

FULL BOTTLES

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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,

-Maddy

Silly Cybies

I often feel that when I’m doing a beer tasting or enjoying a meal with several courses, the very first thing I try ends up being my favorite. That was definitely the case with the beers I put aside to share with Maddy last week. Moments after walking in from the airport we split Crooked Stave Silly Cybies, a Belgian-style dark ale aged in oak barrels with raspberries. I knew that this one-case-per-account, embarrassingly expensive, limited release was going to be good, but it exceeded my expectations.

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Silly Cybies pours deep cranberry with a tiny pink head, and has an oaky/berry nose. It isn’t heavy, but the body is full and velvety, much like red wine. Although we knew that it was pretty high ABV (9%), we were surprised by how little alcohol we detected. The dominant flavor is tart, juicy raspberry, followed by wood and red wine vinegar. We could have had an entire bottle to ourselves! We could have had two bottles each! We could have split a 6-pack (if it came in 6-packs), but we would have been smashed, so thank goodness I only had one! Silly Cybies sprinted to the top of our “What are you loving now?” list. So glad I saved it to share with my BB.

Tell us–what are you loving these days?  What’s your go-to brew for spring?

-R

The Only Good Thing About Winter…

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…is dark beer! I’ve had so many delicious porters and stouts lately. There’s no better style to curl up on the couch with on a cold winter night. Here’s a look at some of the beers we drank while snowed in last weekend!

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On Saturday morning, once I got the official word that Hops and Hocks was closed, we made a big country breakfast and cracked open Hardywood’s Gingerbread Stout. We’ve talked about our love for this beer before, and I was pleased to find out that this year’s batch is just as good.

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We also did a taste comparison of Evil Twin’s Christmas Eve at a NYC Hotel Room from 2014 vs. 2015. We found both to be chocolatey, a bit smokey, and surprisingly easy-drinking for the ABV. The major difference was that the aged version was considerably boozier.

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I was surprised and delighted by the Mackeson Triple Stout, a milk stout that one of my Beer of the Month Club members dropped off for me to try. This thing is so ridiculously light bodied, smooth, and sweet, I could drink ’em all night. That’s a claim I rarely make about dark beers.

The cutest snow bunny of all!

This weekend I’m planning to have Prairie’s Barrel-Aged Bomb! and new dry-hopped dark farmhouse, Ape Snake. Those are sure to go on my list of Must Have Winter Beers. I’m pleased, happy, ecstatic to see warm weather in the forecast for the coming week. One weekend of blizzard was enough for this Barley Babe. What did you drink during your blizzard?

-R

“Craft” Beer – A Reminder

We’re huge fans of South Carolina’s Westbrook Brewing Company. Their gose was one of the first sour beers that Maddy got into. I remember taking a picture of their IPA while vacationing in Folly Beach way back in 2012, just a few months after they started canning. I realized what a HUGE deal they’d become when Brooklyn lost their shit with the annual release of Mexican Cake last May. Mexican Cake, an imperial stout aged on cocoa nibs, vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks, and fresh habanero peppers, has had a cult-like following since its released in January 2012 to celebrate Westbrook’s first anniversary.

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Barrel-Aged Oud Bruin is one of Westbrook’s newest releases. The Oud Bruin (old brown) style originated in the Flemish region of Belgium. Typically these beers undergo multiple fermentations and extended aging, resulting in a lactic sourness. Westbrook aged their Oud Bruin in Bourbon barrels for two years, adding flavors of oak, vanilla, and bourbon to the vinegary, dark fruit sourness.

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I shared this bottle with Kat and Allison on Saturday night and we were blown away, truly. So flavorful! So complex! So decadent. There’s a growing appreciation for craft beer, but I routinely encounter customers who say things like, “Fifteen dollars for one beer? That’s crazy. It’s not like it’s wine.” Think about how much time and effort went into making this beer! Growing and harvesting the ingredients, brewing the beer, multiple fermentations, years of aging. Not to mention that since this particular beer was aged in Bourbon barrels, you have to add the amount of time it takes to produce the bourbon, and for the bourbon to flavor the barrels that will eventually flavor the beer. That is craft! That is an extraordinary level of dedication to providing a once-in-a-lifetime sensory experience! Thank you, Westbrook, for reminding me how much I appreciate and respect the world of craft beer.

Happy Wednesday! Cheers to only 59 more days ’til spring.

-R

“My Milkshake Brings…”

Remember Food Pairing Friday? That was a cool thang we used to do. I’m not writing about a food pairing today, but a food-themed beer that’s been all the buzz in Bushwick these past two weeks.

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I put Tired Hands/Omnipollo’s Milkshake in January’s H&H Beer of the Month Club package, and immediately started getting requests that I find more. This extra special IPA was brewed with oats and lactose sugar and fermented atop strawberries and vanilla beans. To further enhance the milkshake-like body, 50 pounds of local apples, which are high in the gelling agent pectin, were also added to the boil. Finally, the beer was hopped with Citra and Mosaic hops to provide tropical fruit flavor and aroma. Yeah, it’s pretty great…

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What I like most about this beer is the slightly tart finish, which is rare in an IPA unless it’s specifically supposed to be sour. It’s ridiculously complex. Sweet, tropical hop flavor is followed by strong strawberry, notes of vanilla, a little bit of funk, and then the beer closes with a lactic tartness that makes you forget you’re drinking an IPA! I didn’t find it as full-bodied as the name “Milkshake” would suggest; I definitely noticed the creaminess they were trying achieve with the fruit, but it certainly isn’t heavy or syrupy. Tired Hands has released blackberry, peach, pineapple, and guava varieties in their Brew Cafe, which means another Philadelphia beercation is on the spring agenda.

Happy Friday! Have you guys had any spectacular beers lately that we should know about? Been to any cool breweries? Great beer bars? Give us the dirt!

-R

Pretty Swell

The hoppy selection for November Beer of the Month Club has been available in Virginia for a while, but just came to New York last month! I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t know much about Maui Brewing Company before choosing their Big Swell for November’s package.

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This is not Hawaii, but I thought maybe you could use a beach scene this morning.

MBC was founded in 2005 by San Diego native, Garret Marreo. They now have a brewpub in Lahaina, HI and a brand new brewery and tasting room in Kihei. MBC’s beer is delicious, but their commitment to the environment and local economy is even more impressive. They make their beer entirely in Hawaii, package using 100% recyclable materials, and their cans are designed by local artists. In a piece on craftbeer.com Marreo stresses the role craft brewers play in stimulating the local economy; sourcing ingredients and materials locally puts money in the pockets of community residents.

Photo Credit: Maui Brewing Company
Photo Credit: Maui Brewing Company

Big Swell IPA, one of MBC’s flagships, has earthy and tropical hop flavors, caramel malt sweetness, and a long finish. As H&H cheesemonger, Jackie and I shared this brew behind the charcuterie counter, we swore that we detected a hint of salty ocean breeze on the nose. It might have been our imaginations running wild, though…

Happy Monday!
I know it’s gonna be a rough one, but remember, it’s just threeish weeks until the next holiday!

-Rach

 

Beer #2

The second beer this month is from a favorite brewery of mine and Maddy’s. I incorporate Chicago-based Off Color Brewing’s eye-catching, delicious brews in BOTM whenever I can. This month’s selection, Le Predateur, is a farmhouse ale made with French malts, French saison yeast, and Australian hops. Those of you familiar with Off Color’s other offerings will recognize this seasonal release as a spin on Apex Predator, their year round Belgian-style Saison. I love how they just tweaked the illustration of the Apex, giving the lion a beret, baguette, and mustache to make him look French. You can’t deny the cuteness!
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Le Predateur pours hazy golden with a bubbly, medium-thick, white head. The bready, citrusy nose is followed by malt sweetness, spicy/herbal notes, and a lemon peel hop finish. This one pairs perfectly with a range of fall flavors. I recommend enjoying alongside root vegetables, poultry (if you’re into that 😉 ), or a cranberry-centric dessert.
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It seems inappropriate to talk about this beer without mentioning what’s going on in France right now. Friday’s events were heartbreaking, and the people of Paris continue to be in our thoughts. The world can be a scary, sad, and unfair place. Let us take this opportunity to say we love all of you, and we’re glad you’re in our lives.

Geyser Gose

I’m going to give you guys a sneak peek of the November Hops and Hocks Beer of the Month Club package! Not only are the beers all really delicious this month, they all have cool back stories!

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First up, the Geyser Gose, the first collaboration brew from Evil Twin and Connecticut-based Two Roads Brewing Company. In 2014 Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø of Evil Twin and Two Roads Brewmaster Phil Markowski decided to do a unique collaboration at the geographic mid-point between America and Denmark. Earlier this year the pair traveled to Iceland, and with the help of a local farmhouse brewery sourced local ingredients—Icelandic moss, rye, herbs, sea kelp, skyr (Icelandic yogurt) and birch-smoked sea salt to create a twist on this refreshing style. Geyser Gose is medium bodied with mild tanginess, notes of grass and lemon, and a clean finish.

Allison, Kristin and I split this one last week, and we all agreed it was refreshing and delicious. Maddy took a couple back to Virginia to try with Mac and Parkway peeps; can’t wait to hear her verdict. That’s right!! Maddy was in Brooklyn last week! We had many beer drinking Barley Babe adventures, so look forward to some good posts in the near future. Here’s a sneak peek:

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