Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lemons to Lemonade

While all the hype for the Great Taste of the Midwest was mounting, and I knew I had no ticket, I turned lemons into lemonade or into Scram Cat Pale Ale.

Yes, I FINALLY got to use that damn beer kit that I got months ago. Officially I could bottle today, but I am going to wait another week.

Sampling can/will begin sometime in late September or early October.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Rare Vos

Just a quick shout out! Rare Vos!!! I am at a local coffee house and decided to buy a beer... Yes, at 1:45pm I opted for a beer. I couldn't resist!

The beer is called "Rare Vos" and means "sly fox" in Flemish. The name has an even deeper meaning for some as it is named for a famous cafe in Brussels. This beer is not brewed in Belgium. In fact, "Brewery Ommegang is 3,264 miles from Brussels, but its heart is right in Belgium," accoriding to its label.

For the past two weeks at school, I have been teaching the kiddos about "la Francophonie," and it just so happens that Belgium speaks not only Flemish, but also French. As students researched, they were sure to point out that Belgium is known for its grain production and thus its beer. (In my head, I was like, obvi! I know!)

Moreover, the brewery, Ommegang, is a new favorite of mine. I haven't been on the tour yet, but you best be sure that the next time that I am in Cooperstown, NY, I will visit not only the baseball Hall of Fame, but also Brewery Ommegang.

So what about the beer, you ask...

It is a beautiful, cloudy amber. Its smell is citrus fruity, but not really sweet. Having high expectations for this beer (since I really enjoy its sister, Hennepin), I am in danger of being disappointed. The initial taste is crisp, but not light. There is a slight yeasty odor and taste as you sip. It finishes well without dragging the taste out. It leaves you wanting more. There is a tickle of spice, but not enough to conflict with the crispness. In fact, throughout the entire sipping process, the beer holds up extraordinarily well. There is really nothing I can find wrong with this beer! It is quite refreshing, whether in the chill of an automn evening or under the heat of the summer sun!

Other info on the bottle:

- Cellared at the brewery

- 6.5% ABV

- it is to be poured slowly to not disturb the yeast sediment

- part of the Duvel family

- created out of devotion to a country where brewing is and art and partaking is a passion

Info on the website:

- 2008 Great American Beer Fest Award Winner

- Orange Blossom Aroma

- caramel malt

- hoppy finish

I really enjoyed this beer! I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mr. Beer

I suck at blogging these days. There are a few reasons why. Number one: I took from January 1st to February 1st off of drinking... just a personal thing. I usually do this "fast" once a year. Number two: I guess two jobs and graduate school are large time commitment... Number three: After completing an average of 4 writing assignments a week (three of which are online), the last thing I want to do is hop online again to write yet ANOTHER thing.


Oh well, at least there is still beer to be drunk!

My big day back in the drinking thing, February 1st, was also special because it was my birthday! Hooray for being 26! This year I got a re-gifted gift... lame? NO! AWESOME!!!

For Christmas, my father's employees got him something they were sure he would love... he is, after all, a beer lover. Their big mistake: He only loves MGD light. Indeed, he drinks beer nearly everyday, but he is as loyal as they come to his brew of choice. That said, I am the proud owner of my very own Mr. Beer Home Brewing Kit!
Now I know what you are thinking... those cheapo beer kits are heaps of crap. And they probably are. However, as a first-time, just-getting-into-it home brewer, I am very grateful for the simplicity of this thing. As the box says "We've taken the science out of brewing a great tasting beer at home." In case you didn't know, I'm a linguist... not a scientist. I hope that this may be my gateway to bigger and better home brewing technologies...

Anyway, I am excited, (about as excited as the dude in the picture on the box above!) I haven't started my first batch yet... I hope to begin a week from Friday when I have a day off of work (which never happens.) I'll be sure to keep y'all posted on the results!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cooper's Tavern

Howdy everyone! Sorry it's been a while. While I do not have a lot of "drinking" to report, I do have much great news!

Cooper's Tavern is open at last!!!
The long awaited capitol square gastropub's doors have finally opened, and I am proud to announce that I will be working there Friday and Saturday evenings. Please stop in!

Cooper's is inspired by the history of alcohol and its storage... thus nodding our heads to the folks who made storage in barrels possible - coopers!

The menu is delicious (thanks to our inspired executive chef), the wine is plentiful (nearly 30 varieties by the glass), the draft beers are thirst quenching (28 handles) and the bottled beers are head spinning (100 brews!) It would be next to impossible to share every exciting thing about this establishment, and that is why I ask you to stop in...

I had dinner at Cooper's on its opening night last Tuesday. My meal was amazing and everyone else in my party was equally impressed. For the moment, I refuse to do my review on Cooper's, as I feel that I am quite partial... so I await your opinions once you have stopped in for a brew or a snack. Eventually I will throw my opinion into the mix (with a behind the scenes perspective!)

Check Coopers out on facebook.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Wisconsin's Best Breweries and Brewpubs

As you know, I love to find new and exciting beers. Wisconsin's rich beer culture sets the foundation for this interest perfectly. I've recently been reading and referencing a great book that helps me do just that: Wisconsin's Best Breweries and Brewpubs: Searching For the Perfect Pint by Robin Shepard. This book was written by a beer enthusiast Wisconsinite. It includes ratings on over 600 Wisconsin beers from over 60 breweries and brewpubs.

This book has been particularly helpful to me for finding small microbreweries that are off the beaten path. Unfortunately this book is a bit dated and there have been some changes in the local beer scene. However, most of the information is fantastic! Basically, I want to research and write this book.

If you don't mind used copies you can scoop them up for $3 on Amazon. Cheers!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Brewery Tour: Schlafly Bottleworks

The last time I was in St. Louis, I was sure to swing by Anheuser-Busch for a tour and tasting. Huge breweries like this have many interesting aspects, but I typically like smaller microbreweries because I think their beer is better. This last weekend, I took a side step and checked out one of the area's micro-breweries: Schlafly Bottleworks.

To begin my visit, I had lunch in Schlafly's dining area with my hosts!

At lunch I tried their APA, which was awesome... This got me very excited for the tour which was soon to come!

My beer was not poured from a keg. Oh no, no, no! Instead, it comes directly from one of these big guys! Schlafly is all about freshness! ROCK!
Schlafly is the first St. Louis bottling brewery to open since prohibition. It is fairly small and only distributes to a few neighboring states. Unfortunately, Wisconsin is not one of them... However, I do not blame them for wanting to maintain their integrity and commitment to good products by staying small!

Schlafly's claim to fame is their Pale Ale. I sampled this one at the end of the tour. It was a simple, amber-colored ale. It didn't have as much flavor as I had hoped for, but it was still a nice beer. It is quite light, so you can hit this one over and over again in one night. Plus, as you can read below, it pairs nicely with just about any sort of food.

My favorites were:

The No 15 This is a dunkel weisen, but doesn't look very dark. It is unfiltered and is a rich amber color.

The Dry-Hopped APA Popping with hops, this is a fun APA with a slightly spicy finish. It is a little bitter, but not too much. It is sure to please any IPA/APA lover.

The Winter ESB This was my surprise! I wasn't sure what to expect. I hadn't ever tasted an "Extra Special Bitter." It was extra and special! It wasn't bitter in the bitter sense, but more bitter in the Old English bitters sense - kind of malty and hoppy, too. Our guide failed to tell us, but apparently this is made with a small amount of Rye as well! In any case, this was an excellent beer!

The Pumpkin Ale Often times I am not a big fan of pumpkin spice beers. Not sure why, but perhaps they are a bit too sweet. Schlafly's Pumpkin Ale was very balanced. It uses real pumpkin and butternut squash for its sugar in the fermentation process, but since pumpkin itself it not sugary sweet, this beer keeps its edge. It also contains the typical pumpkin spices which make it taste like you are really eating a smooth, creamy piece of Granny's pumpkin pie!

The tour itself was nothing spectacular. I have been on many a tour, so perhaps it is tough to impress me anymore. You'll be happy to know, at least, that Schlafly holds the safety of their employees and guests as a top priority.

Our guide knew a decent amount about the brewing process, but very little about the Schlafly Bottleworks Company itself. The good news about the tour: it was free! Not to mention that at the end, each participant got three beer samples (again for free!) Since I was with two other of age people, we were able to sample each of the 8 brews available on draught that day.

As a tourist, I decided to hit up the gift shop afterward. I got myself a nifty t-shirt that says, auf Deutsch "Beer is not just for breakfast anymore." I love it!

If you are in town and looking for a way to spend a lovely hour or two, definitely swing by Schlafly Bottleworks or the Schlafly Tap Room.