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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Cupcake

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!

“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