Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bottle Share / Bake Offs, and Beer Academy Graduation - A Week of Inaugural Stuff!

Warm RuinTen IPA Cheese Dip... Silky Southern Tier Choklat Cake... Chilled bombers and growlers... Hot chics preparing it all…

Is this a dream? No! It’s the inaugural Craft Brewjas Bottle Share / Bake Off!

Some bad ass Craft Brewjas
On a rainy afternoon, Craft Brewjas drove from near and far, to bake, cook, eat, share and drink beer. Juicy convo was involved. One lucky dude made it in. 

The Menu:
-RuinTen IPA Cheese Dip, with Homemade Taragon Sour Loaves
-IPA Braised Sausage with Lager Sauerkraut
-Baked Beer Mac & Cheese
-Ghostface Killah Stuffed Peppers
-Cigar City Maduro Brown Sugar Cookies
-Southern Tier Choklat Cake 

Pair all that deliciousness with these brews: Bruery 4 Calling Birds, Weyerbacher Riserva, Lips of Faith Heavenly Feijoa, Sweetwater Dank Tank, Idle Hands D'aison, Asheville Brewer's Association Hoppy Saison by Green Man, Peg's Cantina / Cycle Brewing Rare Dos (YES!!), 7th Sun Brewing Graffiti Orange, a bomb ass growler from Rapp Brewing, Ironfire Six Killer Stout, and a growler of Broken Flan from our local friends, 4th Age Brewing. 

This my friends, is how us Craft Brewjas roll. After all, we are wicked women who get crafty with our beer! Plans are in the works for the next soiree. All I can say is that it involves costumes, pumpkins, and beer... Want to see what we're up to before then? Check out the Facebook, Instagram, Untappd and Twitter pages! @CraftBrewjas 

If you're a Facebook fan, you can find the recipes on the page. Just sayin. 

Beer swag!

In other inaugural news this week, I graduated from Riverside Market’s Beer Academy! It was six evenings of learning and sipping, with meeting great friends along the way. Our last class featured a presentation on ESBs from the owner of Kingshead Pub (Sunrise - who also brought us English chips and free drink tokens), Barleywines and Sours presented by the host with the most, Julian from Riverside Market, and our old homebrewing (Invasive Species) friend from last week, Josh Levitt. We sampled: Goose Island Honkers Ale, St. Somewhere Lectio and Full Sail Barleywine. Side note - my personal favorite Barleywine is Stone's Old Guardian. Totally not sampled, but I thought I'd throw that in.

Our final exam consisted of a blind tasting. Cue the Shiner Bock Lager, Southern Tier Porter and the Stone Sublimely Self Righteous Ale. Our final class concluded with the presentation of the diplomas, and some beer swag! Beer Academy was an awesome experience. I will miss it, but know that I am now a wiser beer nerd because of it.

Wiser beer nerd.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Funky Buddha! And Prepping for Beer Academy Finals...

Finally! I went to Funky Buddha Brewery! This friend was going to take me, that friend was going to meet me there, this group was going to go. Whatever. I am not a patient woman, so off to Oakland Park I went. I started with a flight, on a cool ass Buddha shaped tray. My samples included: Last Snow, Mocha Porter, Hop Gun IPA, Pineapple Hop Gun IPA, No Crusts, OP Porter and Doc Brown Ale. The highly Instagram'd No Crusts, and Last Snow were my favorites. No Crusts truly tastes like a PB&J, but not overly sweet as I expected. Last Snow has a nice nutty flavor and both, better yet, all of their brews for that matter, are very smooth, flavorful and taste super fresh! I joined the Snifter Club, and can't wait to drink out of my "CraftyCableGal" glass. That's whats up. Let me know when you want to meet up there.

Beer Academy at the Riverside Market is in full swing, wrapping up next Tuesday. If school was as interesting as Beer Academy, I would've had my Masters. Evan Benn, Staff Writer at the Miami Herald, and Online Beer Columnist at, schooled us on IPAs and Pale Ales. We sampled: Oskar Blues Pale Ale, Bells Two Hearted Ale, Stone IPA, Dogfish 60 Minute, Cigar City Jai Alai and Green Flash Imperial IPA. Yeah, that was a great lesson. We learned a good rule of thumb: for every percentage of alcohol, you should estimate about 25 calories. Also, if you take all breweries - craft breweries only make up about 10% of the brewing world; the other 90% are the "big guys". This was amazing to me; look at the abundance of craft breweries, and picture that this is only 10% of the brewery's world. Amazing. Our IPA and Pale Ale guest speaker, Evan Benn, was very knowledgeable, intelligent, and his passion for his craft (no pun intended) is evident.

Since last night would the last Beer Academy fellow classmates, Amanda and Jeff, our table decided we'd bake to share with the class. Does anyone really need a "reason" to bake? Exactly. Amanda brought decadent Brooklyn Brewery Irish Dry Stout Cupcakes with whiskey ganache. Ronnie spoiled us with yummy brownies. I brought Cigar City Maduro Brown Sugar Cookies. I see some extra credit in our future.

The "baking" table at Riverside Market's Beer Academy
The baked goods
Getting smart, and getting photo-bombed by Angry Union
Last night's Beer Academy lesson was....Homebrew Night. How exciting is this?!? We had the pleasure of getting educated by Eric Guerrero of Angry Union Brewing, and Josh Levitt of Invasive Species Brewing Club. Wow, their beers were good! From Angry Union, we had a summer-appropriate Raspberry Hefeweizen, and a perfectly hopped IPA. Invasive Species shared a robust Alt, and a creamy, luxurious and balanced white oaked IPA. Wow, those were good. As we sipped on the goods, all kinds of terms were being taught to us: hot liquor tank, mash tun, 3-way valve, steadmash and the importance of temperature. Who would've thought two degrees could make such a big difference? It sure does. I would love to try homebrewing, but can see how much work is involved, and not ready to maintain all that stuff. For now, I'm going to remain open for "guest brewing". 

My night couldn't have ended any better, than with a smooth, silky taste of Cigar City's Brewers Brunch Stout, courtesy of some dedicated fellow Instagram beer peeps that happened to hang at Riverside Market that night. I never met them in person before! Gotta love when the beer nerds recognize each other from social media beer postings! Cheers! 
Josh Levitt, of Invasive Species showing how it's done

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Randall Action, Creme Brulee and Some w00tstout...

Imagine this: do a random Facebook check before leaving work, and notice that 595 Tap and Tavern is doing a 'Randall the Enamel Animal' event with Cigar City Maduro Brown Ale, infused with bourbon soaked wood chips and German cone hops. My quiet evening of groceries and heading home, was quickly detoured to sample this goodness. It was delicious. I'm a total sucker for bourbon barrel beers, so anything bourbon-related will get me every time!

Friday, I had the privilege of sharing a bottle of Southern Tier Creme Brulee with a friend. It was my first time tasting it. I am a huge stout girl; this one was like luxury and silk in my glass. I'm not a huge dessert person, but in a beer - I'll take it. This is a great dessert beer. I can say that I now have one in reserve in the beer fridge. 

So. My biggest beer related excitement of the week was finding Stone's new collaboration beer: Stone Farking Wheaton w00tstout. Cool name. Cool story. It's a collaboration between Stone co-founder, Greg Koch, founder Drew Curtis, and actor/home brewer Wil Wheaton. It's an imperial stout brewed with pecans, wheat and rye, with a portion aged in bourbon barrels. Now, I have never, ever, ever had a Stone brew I didn't like. This is no exception. As it warmed up, the pecans were more present, and it reminded me slightly of Stone's Imperial Russian Stout, but on a different level. Good stuff! Any beer that doesn't get out out on shelves, and you have to go and ask for it behind the counter, has got to be good. This did not disappoint, and had a 13% ABV to boot. W00t w00t! 

        Oh, yes. Keep bringing it Stone. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Busy Week in Beer!

What do you get when you take a 2 day work week, kids out of town for the last 3 weeks, and a beer nerd? You get a Crafty Cable Gal with plenty of adventures to share! Don't worry, I am keeping it "beer friendly"...

Riverside Market's inaugural Beer Academy continues to be amazing! We've had guest speakers from Brown Craft Specialty Division, Orange Blossom Beer (Orlando), and Gold Coast Beverage. Topics have included: Beer 101, The Difference of Stouts and Porters (my personal favorite!!), and an in depth discussion on Ales and Lagers. As we learn, we sample various brews. Duh. It's beer school. Recent highlights have included: Southern Tier Porter, Ballast Point Victory at Sea, Pilsner Urquell, Orange Blossom Pilsner (didn't know I liked Pilsners!), Chimay, Ommegang 3 Philosophers, and my favorite so far... a decadent sampling of Brooklyn Black Ops 2012.

Did you know that Chimay is made entirely by monks, and that it's non-profit and it all goes to charity? Did you know that back in the day, in England, beer was taxed based on the amount of alcohol in it? How about this: 90% of what you taste is smell. Here's one more: the strongest version of a porter, is a stout, however, the difference between stouts and porters is all in the brewer's scientific, yet creative hands. It's all about the malt, but regardless: all beers are 50% pale malt, and ALL beers are either an ale, or a lager. You're welcome for me droppin' this beer knowledge on you. If you want more, I highly advise you sign up for the next session! While you're there, you might be lucky enough to have BBQ shrimp and grits on special, along with Florida Beer's Gaspar Porter on draft. I was. Showing up early for dinner before class has it's benefits!

I made it to Tap 42 this week (shocker), and sipped on some Bells Two Hearted Ale. This place never ever, ever disappoints. Food is incredible (especially Sunday brunch), and they have beers for days! Over 50 taps, and plenty bottles. Check out their Facebook page for special events. They are all over it. Cool vibe, great people - always one of my go to spots here in South Florida, and a leader of the pack in the Broward craft beer scene!

A new little gem I stumbled upon was Brickyard restaurant / microbrewery in Boca. Split an Ovila bomber bottle, and had a few Warsteiner Dunkels. In addition to these classy and elegant selections, they have an immense tap and bottle listing. 

Yet another gem this week was 595 Tap and Tavern in Davie. Sophisticated, yet casual sports bar / restaurant with sleek and modern decor, along with an impressive tap and bottle selection. Families, dudes and the ladies can all be accommodated here comfortably. The staff was very friendly, and the Tuna Tacos with siracha were absolutely delicious. I will be going back. By the way, I had a Florida Beer Devil's Triangle IPA and a Cigar City Maduro Brown Ale. Yum. 

My most meaningful, recent beer journey was to Doral, in which MIA Brewing Company so graciously hosted the Hop Into Action fundraiser for Amelia and Zoe. These girls are newborn twins in which their mother passed away from complications in childbirth. Beer nerds, geeks, brewers, and Craft Brewjas gathered to rally around this great cause. Miami was in the house: Gravity Brewlab, 4th Age Brewing, Beer Snob Ales, Sexy Llama, Wynwood Brewing, and MIA Brewing were all representing, and donated food or beers for the event. Specialty and rare brews were auctioned and raffled off, and over $3,000 was raised!

Craft Brewjas are wicked women who love craft beer!

I told you I had plenty to share! It's been a busy week!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Cross Country Stories This Week!

So many beer stories, so little time... This week I'm taking it cross country, beginning in my own backyard: South Florida.

I had the privilege of attending the inaugural Beer Academy class at Riverside Market in Ft. Lauderdale. Absolutely one of the coolest places for beer that I've ever seen. 10 fridges of craft, bottle openers from the ceiling, good food and an honor system in which you lay for your beers via empty bottles is how this place rolls. We learned the basics of beer, the different types, how it's made, and sampled a few different styles including a 2011 Dogfish Head Bitches Brew. Say whaaatt! That was amazing. I've never been so exited to be back in school. Class resumes this week. I plan on being valedictorian. 

I hit the road, or should I say sky, to visit some family up in the Chicago / Indiana area. First beer of the trip was in Granger, Indiana at Granite City Food and Brewing. I had the flight which included 7 samplers for only $3.95. Yes, I said $3.95. There was the pale ales, the bock, the brown ale, the single IPA, a hybrid brown ale and pale ale, however, the "Growler trip back to my brother's fridge" was their Batch 1000, an American Double IPA. It didn't have a Double IPA presence, but, I can't get big growlers in Florida, so something was going back to the house, and this was it. Easy drinking, but tasted like a single IPA.

So off to the Windy City we went, to not stop - until we hit the 103rd floor in the Willis Tower (it will always be Sears Tower to me). After looking for all of my relatives houses from 1,300 feet via the Skywalk Tower, it was time for dinner at my Uncle's house in the city. He prepared for his craft beer, beer nerd niece's visit by stocking up on a Summer Beach pack of Point Brewery. This was strategic on his part since we have relatives that are from Steven's Point Wisconsin, where the beer is from. Uncle of the Year for him. My favorite was the 2012 Black Ale. Went very nice, with an al fresco dinner in an oasis of a backyard, in the middle of the city.

This next portion is more of a public service announcement. Ruth Chris Steakhouse has good craft! I opted for the Three Floyds Pride and Joy, a mild ale. Was a great compliment to my juicy steak and baked potato. After dinner, we hit up Martin's grocery store that has make your own 6 packs for $9.99! I picked up: Bell's Porter and Oarsman Ale, Upland Brewing Elmer's Porter, Shiner Ruby Redbird, Four Horsemen Irish Stout, and the favorite was: Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald. Such. A. Treat. Malty, roasty, creamy but not too much coffee. I loved this one.

Fast forward to Midway Airport. I try Green Line American Pale Ale from Goose Island along with some chicken parm at Harry Carey's. The Green Line tasted like someone forgot to rinse the dish washing soap out. Not a fan. I was a fan of the food, however their service needs work, training and some basic people skills. Once I found their bottle selection though, the Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA more than made up for it. It had an immense floral bouquet, with hops for days. This was my first Firestone brew, and I am very impressed. Honestly though, there's never been a California beer I haven't liked. 

So back to Florida I go, and cannot wait to see what beer school has in store for us this week!