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

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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!

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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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

Beer + Brooklyn

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Hey, peeps! Long time no chat. We had to take some time off after the very taxing 12 Days of Christmas. 😉 Surely you understand. My dad and I are in New York this week visiting my brother, Ed. We’ve had some incredible NY beers that I want to tell you about.

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On Tuesday night we went to a cute little Italian spot in Downtown Brooklyn called Forno Rosso. The service was a bit spotty, and there was some confusion about what they had on draft, but I ended up with a decent IPA from Chelsea Brewing Company. It was light on the hops for my taste, but it paired well with my roasted vegetable pizza, and hit the spot after a long day of traveling. Dad started with a truly awful lager by Coney Island Brewing. It was totally flat and flavorless, but in Coney Island’s defense we think there was something wrong with the keg. There’s just no way a brewery would produce a beer that awful. Ed had Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout, and while it’s not from New York, it deserves a mention for being so damn good.

Later that night Ed and I ventured back out to the Brazen Head, a cozy bar with an impressive draft list. We both tried the Bronx Rye Pale Ale, and I was surprised by how much I liked it! It definitely drinks more like an IPA, and while the rye is noticeable, it’s not overwhelming. I’ll have this one again.

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Wednesday we had dinner at a no frills burger joint called two8two. The boys both tried Victory’s Pale Ale and enjoyed it a lot. I went with an old standby: Brooklyn Brewery’s Sorachi Ace. I can’t say enough about this beer! The lemon/lemongrass flavors make it one of my favorite saisons, and it was a great compliment to my grilled cheese (yes, I’m a child…who drinks a lot of beer).

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Thursday, after a looooong day of walking, we got thai at a hip, cozy, restaurant down the street from our AirBnB– Sage. Again, they had a great draft list, full of local options. I tried the Ithaca Flower Power IPA, Ed had Empire Brewing’s Amber Ale, and Dad went with The Crisp, Sixpoint’s lager. All were quality beers, but the food really stole the show. We split veggie dumplings with broccoli and sweet potato, served with sweet chili soy sauce (um, YUM!). Dad and I both got stir frys filled with fresh, perfectly cooked veggies, and Ed got a spicy, delicious-looking curry. I was really missing my fellow Barley Babe at this dinner! Maddy would have loved the food and the beer selection. The spice fiend that she is, I have a feeling she would have tried the Finback El Verano, a witbier with lemon and jalapeño.

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After dinner Ed and I went to a couple of cute bars in the neighborhood. At Huckleberry Bar Ed had Singlecut’s rich, chocolately, milk stout nitro. I tried an interesting brew from Upstate Brewing, their India Pale Wheat. It featured the hoppiness you expect from an IPA, but also some wheat beer yeastiness. The can was my favorite part.

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At The Drink Ed took a break from beer and had their warm, spicy Hot Toddy with bourbon. I tried Newburgh Brewing’s Smoked Gose, and it was one of the most interesting beers I’ve ever had. The smokiness was very present, but it still had the tart, refreshing flavor you expect from a gose.

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We had  PACKED day yesterday, and went to several places we’ve blogged about before. Ed and I built Maddy an epic six pack at Top Hops Beer Shop and then we had a delicious dinner at Radegast. Today we’re off to Coney Island! Have a great weekend!

Boulevard Hibiscus Gose: My New Breakfast Beer

Hello, and a happy Monday to ya, beer peeps! I was just enjoying Boulevard’s Hibiscus Gose when I thought, “Damn, this is great. People need to know about this!” Some of you may be wondering, “What even is a gose?” A gose (pronounced go-zuh) is an unfiltered, German style wheat beer that uses a malted wheat and the addition of salt to create a crisp brew with a tangy, slightly sour aftertaste. And, guess what? It’s delicious.

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I’ve been waiting for the Hibiscus Gose to come into Vintage Cellar for weeks, and when it finally arrived on Friday I snatched up a 6-pack and counted down the minutes until the end of my work day. It’s now Monday and I’m polishing off my last bottle. Needless to say, I LOVE THIS BEER.

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Reasons why I love it:
1) It’s way too easy to drink at 4.2% ABV (hello, breakfast)
2) The slightly floral aftertaste balances the sour perfectly
3) It’s light and refreshing, perfect for these fleeting summer nights
4) The coral-pink color makes me feel fancy and happy

One note: this beer does have a slight smell of vinegar
…and I probably won’t drink it for breakfast…probably.

-M