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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Spring Saturday 

A couple weekends ago we had one of our favorite guests in town, Kat’s boyfriend Michael! On Saturday we took full advantage of his luxurious automobile and went upstate for a short hike. 
Bear Mountain is only about 2.5 miles round trip, but the incline on the first half is quite steep. The trail was busy, but not crowded, and drizzle turned to clear blue skies as we leisurely made our way up the mountain.

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“I’m glad I didn’t know ahead of time that it was going to be this steep..” -All of us

The summit was filled with hikers having picnics and hanging out, but we were able to find a secluded spot to relax and take in the view. Our adventurous little Kitten almost gave me a heart attack in her quest for the perfect place to sunbathe.

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Bear Mountain Bridge


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After many a picture taken and Snapchat sent, we made our way back down the mountain. Carefully inching down the rocky incline might have been harder than climbing up! Safely back in the car, we decided we should reward ourselves. That, my friends, is where the beer comes in. Don’t worry, this hasn’t turned into a healthy lifestyle blog.

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Practicing for my future career as a TMZ reporter

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Peekskill Brewery is only 5 miles from Bear Mountain (we didn’t even plan this!) After a refueling lunch at La Cascada in downtown Peekskill, we headed to Water St. to check out one of my favorite NY breweries.

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Juices Flowin’ DIPA

Peekskill Brewery is right on the Hudson and just a short walk from downtown. The two-floored facility features a full bar and restaurant in addition to a tasting room. The first floor was crowded with groups of friends drinking, snacking, and playing darts. A sign advertising a two-for-one happy hour deal Monday-Thursday had us wishing that Peekskill wasn’t so far away!

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Allison ordered the Simple Sour, an easy-drinking, moderately sour ale that we’ve had many times. I tried Peekskill’s new double IPA, Juices Flowin.’ As promised in the tasting notes, it was juicy and dank–just how I like my IPAs these days. Michael and Kat shared a flight. Michael, a fellow hop head, enjoyed Juices Flowin’ as well, and also it’s lighter cousin, Shotgun Willie. Kat’s favorites were the Simple Sour and Moscow on the Hudson, an “Atlantic-style Porter.” The only letdown was the Uncommon Rye Lager; the happy couple reported that this one is actually quite common.

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About a year ago Peekskill’s renowned brewmaster, Jeff O’Neil left to start a new brewery. Assistant brewer Matt Levy took over O’Neil’s position, and almost immediately won a silver medal at GABF. Before Peekskill Levy spent a year at Michigan’s Jolly Pumpkin, and produced small batch brews at Captain Lawrence. I haven’t had enough Peekskill beer over the years to evaluate whether this change in head brewer is an improvement, but I was extremely impressed with the beers I tried last Saturday. Peekskill is one to keep an eye on! If they scale up and start packaging, I hope Juices Flowin’ makes the cut.

Happy Friday! Any brewery visits in your weekend plans?

-R

Russian River Brewing Company

We have a special Thursday treat for you, readers! The lovely Amanda Stromecki has written another great Barley Babes guest post. Amanda is currently living on a wildlife refuge in CA, helping research an endangered bird called Yuma’s Ridgway Rail. She recently  visited one of California’s most renowned breweries; read on for her review!

Hi, there! It’s Amanda—friend of the Barley Babes and fellow beer geek. For the past two years I have been rambling around the West coast and drinking beer along the way. I just spent six months living in Lagunitas, California, a small town about an hour north of San Francisco. Fun fact about Lagunitas: it is a tiny, tight-knit community that is home to the original Lagunitas brewery, when it was still just a homebrew operation. Owner Tony Magee was actually kicked out of town when he dumped his rejected beer down the drain and into the septic system, causing a yeast + human waste explosion! Oops!

While I have visited Lagunitas brewery in Petaluma, my most notable brewery trip in CA was definitely to Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa. This brewery is in beautiful Sonoma County, in the heart of wine country. Russian River is known for Pliny the Elder, a west coast style IPA that lives up to its reputation. Pliny has a gorgeous honey color, a citrusy hop resin nose, a powerful hoppy punch on the palate, and a clean finish. It is big and bold, yet light and refreshing. One of my favorite IPAs to date.

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On tap at Russian River

Another great RR IPA is Blind Pig. Seriously full hop bite, but a little mellower ABV. We tried a bunch of beers, including the STS Pils, which was light, crisp, and true to style. Damnation, a Belgian strong pale ale, was a well-balanced, bready, and woody. Compunction, an American wild ale brewed with pluots (a plum/apricot hybrid), was my favorite of the day. Great pucker factor and stone fruit flavor. Another sour was Supplication, another American wild ale aged in Pinot Noir barrels. The barrel aging imparted a rich mouthfeel, lovely red color, and complex flavor profile. While my sour beers turned most of my friends off, I was impressed by Russian River’s sour and Belgian offerings. If only Maddy and Rachel had been there!

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Russian River’s Blind Pig IPA

Don’t be scared off by the long lines or crowds; a trip to Russian River Brewing Company is well worth the wait. The staff is efficient and handles the chaos well. The food, mostly pizzas and sandwiches, is tasty and well priced. The brewpub has a massive bar, which provides lots of opportunities to meet fellow hopheads. After enjoying RR beer for a few years, it was nice to finally give the brewery a visit. I think a Barley Babe fieldtrip there is a must. Cheers!

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Thanks so much, Amanda! Although it’s wonderful to have a West Coast correspondent, we wish we could all be drinking beer together. One day 😉

Did you read Amanda’s first guest post? What about our review of two of Russian River’s most-hyped sours?

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

Brooklyn Local Craft Beer Festival

I can honestly say that the Brooklyn Local Craft Beer Festival was the least crowded, most relaxing beer festival I’ve ever been to. We never had to wait in line for beer, there was plenty of room to stand and hang out, and it was after five before breweries started running out of beer. Plus, all the pours were extremely generous, which never hurts. 😉

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After a solid breakfast (We used the stove! We boiled water! We scrambled eggs!), Allison and I got to the festival at around one. It’s held in Carroll Gardens right next to the Carroll Street Bridge, a tiny bridge over the Gowanus Canal. It was an absolutely perfect early fall day: sunny and warm with a slight breeze coming from the water.

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Once inside we basically just bopped around to whichever brewery struck our fancy. It was sooo nice not having to strategically plan our route based on lines. The standout of the day for both of us was Ferrari Beer from Staten Island. We tried the Sour Red Ferrari several times, a medium-bodied, mildly tart brew with a hint of cherry. He also had a very limited amount of his delicious smoked beer, Smoky Hollow, which is a great style for fall. The other sour at the festival was Lithology Brewing’s Ugly Mug, a rye gruit. It was so refreshing–tangy, even lighter bodied than the Ferrari, and with a spritzy carbonation and hint of funk.

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It was awesome talking to brewers that I have a relationship with through Hops and Hocks, and even though I’ve had their beer many times, I couldn’t resist sampling! Third Rail’s Field 2 is one of my favorite NY farmhouse ales; I can’t wait until it’s available in cans again. Allison particularly enjoyed Radiant Pig’s Eastside Rapture, a hoppy wheat that I’ve blogged about before.

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Our favorite IPAs of the day were by Flagship and Other Half.  The Flagship IPA is balanced and juicy with a light to medium body and citrusy hops. It’s the kind of beer that I could drink all day long, so obviously we returned to Flagship a couple of times. 😉 Other Half’s Hop Showers has tropical hop flavors and a distinct funk. They recently released this one in super cool cans.

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We broke for lunch at 3:30 and enjoyed massive sandwiches from Big D’s food truck. I know I sound like a broken record here, but there was absolutely no line for food, and it was super easy to find a spot to sit and eat. I went with their vegan grinder (be proud, Riles!) and Allison enjoyed the spicy chicken.

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After lunch we continued to plug away at our lists. I finally tried Gun Hill Brewing’s infamous Void of Light, which won gold in the foreign-style stout category at GABF last year. They also poured the Catskill Hop Harvest, a sessionable English pale ale with mild, earthy hops.

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At five a couple of breweries started to pack up, but at this point we were losing steam. We made one more stop at Ferrari for a final taste of sour red, and then left to have a photo shoot on the bridge.

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Back home we went to our favorite spot these days, the fire escape, and snapchatted crazy pictures of ourselves talked about our favorite brews of the festival. Mexican takeout and a couple hours of Entourage capped off one of the most pleasant days I’ve had since moving to New York. Cheers to Friday, New York beer, and good memories.

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.

Extra, Extra

Oh hey guys. It’s us again, posting twice in one week! Can you believe it?? It’s like the old days, before work took over both of our lives. Read on for interesting and exciting news from the beer world!

Solidifying its position as Maddy and Mac’s favorite date spot, some Taco Bell locations will now serve beer, wine, and twisted freezes. Yo quiero Taco Bell…

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Anheuser-Busch InBev wants to buy London-based SABMiller, maker of Miller, Fosters, and Peroni. AB InBev sales are no longer growing much in the US, so buying SABMiller would give the company more exposure to the parts of the developing world where their brands are selling. The deal is obviously raising anti-trust concerns, because the company would then control about four-fifths of the U.S. beer market.

Pennsylvania’s Duquesne Brewing has created a new Paterno Legacy Series beer to honor the memory of Penn State’s former head football coach, Joe Paterno. Proceeds from the reasonably priced ($22/case) Vienna-style lager will go to a yet unnamed charity. Hmm.

Owners of five major Boston bars allegedly received tens of thousands of dollars from beer distributor Craft Beer Guild LLC to stock its craft brews and exclude competitors. Maddy recently heard from a specialty rep that used to live in Boston that this practice is well known and pervasive.

If you live in Seattle, you can now order beer, wine, and spirits through Amazon Prime.  One hour delivery means that you can do last minute party prep while waiting for the booze to arrive at your door. Amazon says that if the service is successful in Seattle, it will expand to other locations.

As soon as we have a working oven, I’m making Pumpkin Beer Bread French Toast. WE HAVE A WORKING OVEN; no excuses.

Brooklyn-ites! Three Brooklyn bars are holding a Sour Beer Fest for the whole month of September. Mission Dolores, The Owl Farm, and Great Bar Harry are offering a range of sour beers this month, and then each bar has a ten day slot where they dedicate six of their draft lines to different sour styles. The Owl Farm’s slot finishes up this weekend, so if anyone’s looking for Ed, you know where to find him…

It’s not too late to buy your ticket to the Brooklyn Local Craft Beer Festival on Sunday! Fifteen local breweries will pour samples alongside food vendors and performers. Plus, Allison and I will be there, which is really all the entertainment you need. For evidence, see pictures below.

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Cheers to the freakin’ weekend.

 

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