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

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

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!

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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.
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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!

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

“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

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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Sour Power

As you know, Allison and I went to the Brooklyn Local Craft Beer Festival on Sunday. That debrief is going to take a bit longer, so in the meantime I want to tell you about finally trying two sour beers from Russian River!

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Russian River’s sours are regularly ranked among the best in the world, but they’re incredibly hard to get your hands on. The only East Coast city that the brewery distributes to is Philadelphia. You might remember that I tried their famous double IPA, Pliny the Elder back in the spring. My friend Zoe traveled home to California recently and brought back bottles of Supplication and Consecration to share with me.

Zoe’s favorite is Consecration, a 10% sour dark ale aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels with currants. We cracked this one open first and headed to the roof, where we enjoyed a stunning view of the NYC skyline and jammed to early 2000’s rap blaring on the Roberta’s patio. Consecration is full-bodied and tart with flavors of dark fruit, oak, chocolate, and red wine. To me the high ABV isn’t really apparent in the taste, but maybe I was just distracted by all the different flavors I was picking up on. This is such a complex beer! Zoe says it’s even better on tap at the brewery.

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Next we drank Supplication, and I think I liked this one even more! Supplication is a brown ale aged in Pinot Noir barrels with sour cherries, brettanomyces, lactobacillus, and pediococcus. Both the sourness and carbonation were more intense than in Consecration, and I also liked the little bit of funk provided by the brett. I’m going to make the bold statement that all brown ales should feature flavors of tart cherry and woody funk.

Thanks so much for sharing these with me, Zoe! It’s so satisfying when famous beers actually live up to the hype. Delicious beer, girl talk, and a rooftop—that’s really all you need in life. It was Wonderful.

Life Gose On

We’ve entered that gorgeous, magical, fleeting period between summer and fall. Yesterday I went for an afternoon run and wasn’t afraid of collapsing from heat exhaustion! Allison wore pants to work! The smell radiating from the trash piles on the streets wasn’t quite as pungent! To celebrate, Allison and I took to our fire escape (in jeans and sleeves!) and enjoyed Evil Twin’s Mission Gose.

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A gose is a salty/sour beer with a low alcohol content. They’ve been my (and everyone else’s) beer of the summer. Maddy, who is typically ahead of the curve, has been into the style for quite a while.

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Evil Twin’s Mission Gose is more sour than salt forward, and has a slightly lingering pucker. The carbonation is mild and there are strong flavors of lemon, coriander, and grass. It’s flavorful, refreshing, and the bottle makes you feel like you’re at a swanky cocktail party, not just chillin’ on the fire escape because you’re too scared to climb the ladder to the roof. As a professed lover of warm weather, I’m usually sad to say goodbye to summer, but you know what? Let’s do it. I’m ready for a change. I’m ready for a fresh start in a new season. Farewell Summer 2015! This is the perfect beer to gose out on.

(I had to get one more pun in there.)

-Rach

Love Child #5

I never thought I’d say this, but the most delicious thing we drank last weekend was a sour! With the help of my fellow Barley Babe, and my sour-loving brother, I am officially on the sour bandwagon.

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On Sunday afternoon we shared Boulevard’s Love Child No. 5, the fifth installation in Boulevard’s Love Child series of wild, barrel-aged beers. Maddy loves these beers so much that I felt very lucky (and slightly guilty) getting to drink a third of the bottle. Love Child is refreshing and gulpable (I know, I know, not the most civilized descriptor). It has a tart, cherry flavor up front and a little bit of funk at the end.

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We drank Love Child with Two Peas and Their Pod’s Asian Quinoa Salad, but I don’t think this was the best pairing. The salad, while delicious and fresh, doesn’t have bold enough flavors to stand up to a beer this sour. I also tried it with a few slices of aged sharp cheddar, and the cheese was much better at holding its own. That being said, MAKE THIS SALAD–it’s incredible. Just pair it with something more subtle, like Good Juju, or a wheat beer or mild saison.

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Back to LC, though. I read that this year’s batch is a blend of barrels of beer that have been souring since 2008, 2009, and 2011. Can you imagine how exciting/nerve-racking/gratifying it would be to finally taste a beer that you’d been working on since 2008?? Apparently Love Child No. 4, released last year, was “unrelentingly sour,” even for Boulevard’s brewers, so this year they strived for a more balanced, softer blend. Love Child No. 6 debuts in December, just in time for Maddy’s birthday! Coincidence? I think not…

-R