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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The Word on Beer Street

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I hope you all had relaxing, fun, holiday weekends. The roomies and I were fortunate enough to spend a few days in Shelter Island with Ed, his girlfriend Andrea, and her friends from college. I sure am missing this view! It’s always hard to adjust to reality after vacation. Luckily, there’s a lot of interesting beer news this week to help you ease back in.

Just in time for summer, fruit beers are the next big thing!

Now you can make beer at home using the SodaStream Beer Bar. The author of the article likens it to microwaving a frozen dinner, but who doesn’t enjoy a good Lean Cuisine from time to time?

Budweiser –oops, I mean America made a non-alcoholic beer. The 0.0% ABV beer “is intended to taste precisely like Budweiser.” So…do with that what you will.

How many of these summer drinking spots have you tried, New Yorkers?

The economic crisis in Venezuela has citizens waiting in line for basic necessities for as long as five hours a day. With a shortage on bread, milk, diapers, and toilet paper, running out of beer seems like the least of their worries.

Can’t wait to try this non-alcoholic, chicken-flavored beer brewed with dandelion and flax! Just kidding, it’s for dogs.

“The Commonwealth of Virginia is quickly becoming the San Diego of the East.” Stone, Green Flash, Deschutes, and now Ballast Point are all opening locations in our home state.

No roundup would be complete without a beer-infused recipe. This Blackberry Peach Saison Galette looks incredible!

Happy Wednesday! Look at that, we’re halfway to the weekend already..

-R

Rhubarb Strawberry Margs

Do you need a Humpday treat? Or a festive bev for the upcoming holiday weekend? As promised, here’s our take on the Minimalist Baker’s Rhubarb Strawberry Margaritas. Minimalist Baker is a food blog with recipes that require 10 ingredients or less, only use one bowl, or take less than 30 minutes to prepare. Many of the recipes are vegan, so Riles has become a loyal follower.

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The only intensive part of this recipe is making the rhubarb strawberry syrup and giving it time to chill– that’s why the prep time is so long. After chopping your fruit, add it to a saucepan with water and sugar and allow it to simmer for about 5 minutes. As the fruit cooks, mash with a wooden spoon so it gets soft and mushy; the MB describes the final product as looking like pie filling. Next, drain the syrup  by putting the cooked fruit through a mesh strainer. We employed a reusable coffee filter for this step– very effective.

The recipe suggests allowing the syrup to cool for a couple of hours in the fridge, or popping it in the freezer for a quicker chill. We chose the freezer, and enjoyed our Potter’s Cider while we waited.

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For each marg, combine 5 tbsp. of the syrup, one shot tequila, 1 tbsp. lime juice, and 2 tsp. agave nectar in a cocktail shaker, and give it a healthy shake. If you’re making these for a crowd, we hope you have a bigger cocktail shaker than the one at the Chitwood household. Our tiny shaker could only make one drink at a time, so it took a bit longer. (Can you tell we’re beer people?)

While Riley practiced her bar-tending skills, I worked on salting the rims of our glasses. The recipe suggested running a lime around the edge of the glass before dipping to make the salt stick better. In the past I’ve used water for this step, and lime juice worked a lot better. Although this beverage comes out pink and fruity, it truly isn’t sweet or sugary. Rhubarb and strawberry bring a refreshing tartness to this classic cocktail, and completely mask the tequila.

So there you have it! The Barley Babes drink tequila sometimes and we ain’t sorry ’bout it. Hope these quench your thirst on the first really hot day we’ve had this year! It’s supposed to be 88 in NY today. Praise him.

-R

 

Potter’s Grapefruit Hibiscus

This time last week I was driving down to Virginia for a long weekend. Unfortunately, it rained most of the time I was there, just as it did at Christmas. It seems like I bring the bad weather! We certainly made the best of things, though.

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Saturday’s main event was a cookout featuring plenty of beer and burgers. On Sunday we packed in brunch at home, a movie, a walk on the Huckleberry Trail, and dinner at Mellow Mushroom. I was excited that the draft list at the Blacksburg Mellow had improved since my last visit. I enjoyed one of my favorite southern IPAs, the Foothills Jade.

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On Monday our grandmother treated the sisters to lunch at Radford’s new coffee shop. We were so impressed! The food at Radford Coffee Company is fresh and tasty, and the proceeds are used to educate children who live in rural communities alongside Nicaragua’s Ri Coco river.
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Tuesday morning we ventured out for a quick, foggy hike in Salem, followed by lunch at Grandin’s Local Roots. I had my only Get Bent of the trip over lunch and it was as delicious as always (the $2.50 price tag certainly didn’t hurt). Since Riley and I were dining with local celebs, the generous LR staff sent us a complimentary cheeseboard to start. Those pickled strawberries are something special!
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On my final night we celebrated Taco Tuesday–a Chitwood family staple. While chopping veggies and waiting for dad to get home from work, the gals split Potter’s Grapefruit Hibiscus Cider. This dry, tart beauty drinks more like rosé than cider. It has juicy grapefruit upfront, followed by subtle notes of hibiscus, sweet apple, and oak. My mouth is salivating just remembering the delicate, yet bright flavors. Potter’s launched this seasonal variety last summer; I hope to find more when I’m in Charlottesville in June.
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Taco Tuesday also featured Strawberry Rhubarb Margaritas by the Minimalist Baker. Cider is not beer, and margaritas are DEFINITELY not beer, but the world needs to know how good these are! Expect a full write up next week. After all, half the fun of having your own blog is getting to make the rules.
Cheers!
-R

A Trip to the Mountains

Fresh sage is delicious tossed with pasta, blended into pesto, or sprinkled on pizza. It also makes a damn good beer additive.

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Yesterday I tried Crooked Stave’s Colorado Wild Sage Mountain Saison, a saison brewed with white sage and lemongrass. It poured gold and hazy with a bubbly white head, and had quite a bit of suspended sediment floating around. The beginning of each sip contained the expected lemon flavor and effervescence of a saison. This was followed by notes of sage, spice, and then a wave of funk. This is one of those beers that packs a full range of flavors in each sip, and if you pay attention, you can experience each one as it hits your palate.

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I read that each batch of this beer uses fresh white sage and lemongrass foraged from the Rocky Mountains. I’m not sure if it was imagining picking fresh herbs in the crisp mountain air, or just staring at the mountain scene on the bottle, but as I drank this in my apartment’s courtyard yesterday evening, I felt calm. All the stress I’ve been feeling about work, and relationships, and coordinating my upcoming move, loosened their grip on my chest and drifted into the balmy evening. It doesn’t have to be at the end of the day or while drinking a beer, but if you’re also feeling overwhelmed, take a moment to let yourself breathe. Everything will be okay.

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-R

Stadium Brews

Hey there, friends! Happy Earth Day! How are you celebrating?? I think I’ll pick up trash and sip an IPA later today! ANYWHO, yesterday I attended my first Salem Red Sox game of the season! Parkway’s Get Bent is now served on draft in their stadium as one of the only craft options, so why the hell wouldn’t I want to go?

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Local beer + Local team = Success.

To me, there is nothing more summery than drinking beer out of a plastic cup at a baseball game. It just feels right!

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Mac and I loaded ourselves down with Get Bents, nachos, and other stadium snacks, and found seats with the best mountain backdrop. Our deliciously hopped beers went swimmingly with the spicy cheese and jalapeños served with our nachos. I mean, how could Get Bent taste bad on a night that beautiful? It couldn’t.

NACHOS + GB

After we downed our GBs, it was time for another brew. Decisions…decisions….and a PBR Tallboy it is!!! I don’t know what could be more American than watching your local baseball team on a warm April night and drinking a PBR. If only we had had powdered wigs and a bald eagle perched on our shoulders.

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Who else is excited for the start of baseball season? Who else is excited for outdoor beer drinkin’ season? Who else is excited to see craft options popping up in stadiums? You can bet your ass I am!

ME + MAC

Cheers, babies!

Maddy

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

The World’s Best Wheat Beer

The thing I love most about writing this blog is how much it’s expanded my beer palate. If you offered me a wheat beer a year ago, I would have accepted it (I obviously never turn down a beer), but I wouldn’t have taken the time to savor and analyze it. Now that I appreciate what each style of beer has to offer, I’m more willing to try beers that aren’t necessarily my favorite style, and this leads me to discover delicious, world-class, brews like the Weihenststephaner Vitus!

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While cooking dinner last night, my mom and I split a bottle of the Vitus that Maddy picked up from the Vintage Cellar. The Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan, located in Bavaria, Germany, claims to be the oldest brewery in the world. It was founded in 1040 on the grounds of the Weihenstephan Monastery, and is still serving up high-quality, world-renowned beers today. The Vitus has been named “World’s Best Wheat Beer” and “World’s Best Beer” at the annual World Beer Awards. I confess that I actually only discovered this information while preparing to write this post, so I took my first sip with virtually no expectations, and was blown away.

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The Vitus is hazy and yellow-orange with a thick, creamy head. It smells of citrus, particularly lemon, and has a crisp carbonation. The taste and mouthfeel are much like that of a hefeweizen, but with a fuller body. This beer paired perfectly with the quiche and salad we made for dinner, but it could easily stand up to more flavorful foods; Weihenstephan recommends red meat and strong cheese! The Vitus tastes like summer, ladies and gents. Pick one up today and embrace the start of my favorite season. Only a couple more weeks to go!

-R

Session IPAs, the Solution to Your Summer

Hello my sweet beer lovers! I realized that we haven’t posted in a while, and it just ain’t right to do that to you guys when there are so many yummy summer beers just waiting to be tasted! On that note, I think we should discuss my new beer obsession: Session IPAs. When done correctly, a session can quench your thirst just like your beloved IPAs, but with less chance of a hangover. Why, you ask? LOWER ABV, meaning we can drink more of them! And who doesn’t love drinking MORE beer? My love for sessions started with the Factory Girl from Parkway Brewing. It tastes like a light Get Bent; it packs a huge grapefruit punch and is loaded with hops, but remains light and refreshing. The Factory Girl is officially my favorite beer to sip on while at the brewery (at least for the summer heh heh).

Mosaic

Blue Point Brewing has a Mosaic Session IPA that I just discovered, and even in a bottle this brew is good enough to name my first child after. Extreme? Maybe. Accurate? 100%. One of the main reasons I love this beer is the use of Mosaic hops, which give a little tropical fruit taste to balance the bitter. Despite being a session, it’s still hopped up enough to please even the hoppiest of hop heads, but light enough for those just getting into IPAs! It’s a MUST TRY ladies and gents.

All this session talk has made me thirsty. What about you guys?

-M

P.S. Any summer beer suggestions for the babes? You know us, always working…