Saturday, October 18, 2014

Effective 10/19/14, I've Moved to

Hi! Effective, 10/19/14, I've moved over to my own site!

It's complete with a blog, video, milestones and more! 

Thank you for your support. Cheers!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Oktoberfestin - South Florida Style...

"We don't need no, education.." was played 
I was thrilled to find a real Oktoberfest in South Florida! The German American Society of Greater Hollywood, is housed in a cute replica of a real German building, sitting in a random residential neighborhood, off of 69th Ave. and Pembroke Rd. My mom and I went, unsure what to expect. We thought we may have a German beer, then be on our way. Boy, were we wrong. We arrived soon after the doors opened, and almost closed the place down. I'll preface the details with me mentioning to my mom, I was going to blog about it. She shot me a look like, "Not all of it right?" Right. It was one of those nights where we checked our phones the next morning, piecing some of the night back together... 

I'm going back for more

As we were greeted with temporary membership cards by warm members in German attire, the smell of authentic German food wafted through the air. We made a beeline to the full service bar, and I purchased a German beer mug for $15, with refills for only $5 all night long. We both had the Hofbrau Oktoberfest. It's a Marzen style, Oktoberfest, with a 6.3% ABV. It's a beautiful straw color, malty and crisp. 

Beads were involved
A one man accordion band got people on the dance floor immediately. He played German songs, and even belted out Pink Floyd at one point! We watched German dancers perform, while we ate savory sausages, German potato salad, mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. We happened to sit at the table with the star of a local car show. All I'll say, is there were pitchers of beer involved, and shots of Jäger brought over by the gracious, accommodating and friendly President of the Club. We all felt like family, the vibe was positive and welcoming; it was just a fun night, with people wanting to have fun! I met some new friends, including one who looked like Adam Levine. We ended up dancing to a bunch of stuff, not limited to: German songs, the Chicken Dance, and the Tootsie Roll.. So random, yet such a great time. 

Craft beer, no. However, Germany has been making beer a lot longer than we have, and it's good quality beer. With me being part German, and this in my backyard, going was a no brainer. They have two more: Saturday, 10/11/14 and Saturday, 10/25/14. I think it would be more fun with a large group. The more the merrier! Maybe I'll see you there.


While we're talking Oktoberfest, can we chat about Left Hand Brewing's Oktoberfest Marzen Lager? Wow, this is a good one. It tastes clean, fresh, and malty - coming in at 6.6%. There are bready undertones, slightly creamy and toasty. If you're an Oktoberfest beer fan, I'd recommend this one.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Trip to Indiana, and the Beers That Went Along!

The best thing next to being a parent, is being an Aunt. I truly enjoy spoiling a baby, especially with the ability to give her back to her parents! That's exactly what I did, over a long combo birthday / meet the niece / see family weekend - to South Bend, IN. 
How a layover should be...

Midwest craft beer was at the forefront of my mind (behind my niece, and family of course). The beer was kicked off during my layover in Detroit's Airport. Tucked away nicely in Delta's terminal, is an Irish Pub. Of course I find it. I tried Rochester Mills Beer Co's Red Ale, an American Amber / Red Ale. I loved that it wasn't hoppy. I love me some hops, but was in a malty mood, and flying blind. I saw what they offered locally, and tried it! I was very pleased with the caramel notes. 

Bonus! Got to wear boots in September.

Fast forward to Sunday. The thoughtful logistics from my brother and sister in law, involved dropping off the baby to grandparents, then visit a local brewery. Then an apple orchard. Then we get home in time to watch Da Bears game. Best plan ever! They know how to make a birthday girl feel special! We get to Figure 8 Brewing in Valparaiso. I'm in love instantly. It's like a Main Street - with brick buildings, and cool weather in the 50s.
To sample what they've got, I order a flight. It included: 

- Ro ShamPo Imperial Red (Whisky notes, 4 hops and toffee tones!)
- Where Lizards Dare IPA
- Raven Tor Oatmeal Stout (Nitrogen pour!)
- #El Dorado Hashtag Pale Ale
- Camp 4 Nut Brown Ale (Won it's way to a pint!)
- Jumbo Love Barleywine

Favorites were the Camp 4, and Jumbo Love. The Camp 4 is a blend of 7 grains, with Liberty and Mt. Hood hops. The chocolate, caramel and toffee notes were apparent, and delicious! I'm a Barleywine lover. Their Jumbo Love was a little fruity, and if we weren't planning to walk through an apple orchard right after, I would've enjoyed sipping it from a full glass. Exploring local breweries is always important to me, any new place I venture.

Double bonus - amazing mac and cheese!
The goods from Michigan
Florida girl getting a fireplace pic

As we get back to South Bend, and prepare to watch Da Bears (Christen that 49ers stadium by the way), I tell my sister in law, who is like the sister I never had, and who I LOVE - let's go get some beer (duh). She replies with "Girl, it's Sunday. We can't buy beer in Indiana."  Say whaaatt??? What state does that to their constituents?? I was about to cry, then she said, "Don't worry, we can drive to Michigan!" Good thing the state line was only 5 minutes away! I Yelp a liquor store, call and ask if they have craft beer, and get told "Umm yeah" (another duh). We hop in the car and drive to a borderline, sketchy place. We contemplate in the car if we should even get out. We do, and as we peruse the beers, we talk through how the scenes in our episode of 'Law and Order' would go: 9:18PM - browsing the Founders section; 9:22PM clerk notes the ID of the victim was from Florida; 9:24PM last sighting of these chics in the parking lot, entering the truck, seeing taking photos of beer in the back seat, so they could check in on Instagram!

Photo cred to Dad and Stepmom
Dessert gets a shot at least...
Obviously we were safe, and the next night we had a great dinner with my dad and stepmom at Rocky River Tap and Table, in Granger, IN. I found it via Yelp, under what else: craft beer in South Bend (I'd filter in food). They are "farm to table", with alliances established with local farms and breweries. What do you know, to my delight of asking for the 3 Floyds rotating? Zombie Dust on tap! I would rave how amazing my chicken pot pie was, and how juicy my cherry and apple dessert was, but sorry - it's a beer blog. 3 Floyds gets the spotlight. Is it sad I even have my Dad looking for "better camera angles - let me take the picture of the beer from my spot", and my stepmom "How about in front of the logo?" They get it.

My birthday. I'll breakfast how I please

My breakfast on the way home, was at a great spot in South Bend's airport, called Bar Fly. Again, I went with the local recommendation from the bartender: Sun King Cream Ale (and a muffin - it was breakfast after all). It was refreshing, malty and grainy, with nice lemon undertones. 

I would write about the fabulousness of Sweetwater, from the Atlanta layover, however my flight was delayed due to communication between the planes and tower, in South Bend. Then, there were delays in Atlanta, due to the President's arrival. Long story short - I was running like OJ to make my connecting flight back home to Florida. It's a good thing I stocked up at Martin's, with some fabulous Midwest beer - to stash back in my suitcase!
Midwest stash. Edmund Fitzgerald is my jam.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

South Florida Local Love!

Have you been to Tucker Duke's Lunchbox in Deerfield Beach? If you enjoy enormous burgers, decadent Southern comfort food, and great craft beer (big local choices), then I advise you go ASAP! 

I'm a beer blogger, but, macaroni and cheese has a special place in my heart, so it made the cut for the blog. I had the Jalapeño Bacon Mac and Cheese. It's rich, comforting and hit the spot after an afternoon of taking my kids to SkyZone (Cool moms jump, so I was starving). I'm a fan of spicy and hot; this isn't that hot - so you don't have to worry if you're not a spicy fan. 

I paired it Wynwood Brewing's La Rubia Blond Ale. La Rubia (Blonde in Spanish), is the lightest beer from Wynwood Brewing, but it's full on flavor! I normally don't seek out "Blonde Ales", but give me Wynwood's and I'll take it anytime! It's refreshing, full flavored, complex with hints of sweetness, fruit, and a rich mouth feel. 

Speaking of a Wynwood Brewing (Miami's first craft production brewery), Happy First Anniversary! I first met the family behind Wynwood Brewing last year, before they opened. I crossed paths, and got to know the owner, family, brewer, and different staff members, via various beer events. Everyone from Wynwood Brewing has always been so kind, welcoming, and fun to be around! So when the opportunity arose to volunteer at their 1st Year Anniversary Block Party, (which included their first ever bottle release) - I signed up right away! 

I took the early shift, from 11am - 3pm, helping out with ticket distribution. 
Wristbands for days.. But they went in hours!

Congrats on the first bottle!!!! You know I got mine!

Our tent also had the bottle sales at 2pm for Wynwood Brewing's El Infante, a barrel aged Wheat Wine, that's been aging for 7 months in French Oak Petite Sirah barrels. It's part of their Shipwreck Series. Without looking at my watch, I could tell when 2pm hit. The line instantly grew down the block! I'm really looking forward to tasting El Infante, after it ages a bit more, and I'm really excited for their future bottle releases!

Irish Breakfast Imperial Stout, on top of the tap list

While I was there, you know beer sampling was involved! I had the Irish Breakfast Imperial Stout, with coffee, vanilla and whiskey. This was amazing. It was so smooth, with hints of everything I mentioned, prominently featured. 

The Gallagher! Watermelon Wheat Ale

I also had The Gallagher! Watermelon Wheat Ale. Their Beat the Meat, American Pale Wheat Ale is the foundation, and smashed watermelon is used during second fermentation stages. And get it, Gallagher the comedian smashed watermelon??? I love that there's thoughtfulness into the names as well. And, the beer was great! Thirst quenching, wheat presence, with watermelon notes; I could sip this poolside all afternoon! It hit the spot after hours of passing out tickets to fellow Wynwood Brewing enthusiasts!

I sample beers from all over - my palate does not discriminate based on geography. However, Cigar City Jai Alai (Tampa) is one of the best IPAs I've tried. It's highly sought out for trades, and is a great IPA. I love the sticky caramelness it has, and enjoy looking for the freshest dates on the bottom of the can. 

Cigar City's Invasion Pale Ale reminds me of a maltier, toned down hops version of Jai Alai. This is a fantastic choice for the beach, pool, boat - as well as Jai Alai, or any cans of good craft beer! 

Another great can I've sampled lately is Due South's Caramel Cream Ale. It's creamy, with equal hints of vanilla and caramel, without being overly sweet, and a tad bit earthy with some malty flavor. Due South Brewing, (Boynton Beach) gets it right with every beer I've tried. They're another core brewery of South Florida, that is contributing to the solid reputation of the South Florida craft beer scene. 

I love my local breweries! Until next time, cheers! 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Week of Funky Buddha, Milestones, and the Beer That Went With It!

Best engraved glass ever. I'm biased.
The idea of seeing my name on a glass was all I needed, to join Funky Buddha's Snifter Club last year. Throw in an extra 2 oz pour each time, extended happy hour, and a t-shirt and I'm in! Fast forward a year later. Time to renew, or pick up my glass. Since I don't make it in that often (not by choice), and don't live too close (5 more years to the east side beach condo), I grudgingly picked up my glass to enjoy at home... However, I can't go in there and just "pick up a glass". That's dumb. I had to at least enjoy one more draft Buddha brew out of it, before shoving it in my purse for the trek back west..

My brew of choice was: Chocolate Covered Cherry Porter. Yes.. I just said that. Yes.. it was silky. Yes.. there was luxurious chocolate with balanced tart cherries involved... The bitter malt meshes perfectly with the authentic taste of cocoa. This weighs in at 6.3% ABV, and is one of my favorites I've had from Funky Buddha.

Cheers to my niece that will be spoiled, then given back

I had a big reason to celebrate last week. I'm an Auntie! To celebrate this grand occasion, I reached into my cellar, pulling out the last 2013 Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout I had. This has been aging for about 8 months now, and tasted incredible. It was smoother than November, and as it warmed up, I picked up dark fruits, molasses and heavy toffee. I dare say vanilla too. This 14.5% ABV beer, never ceases to amaze me. Fresh, poured from the bottle in November, on tap at random spots, and aged for 8 months: it's always a decadent treat. 

Another reason to "celebrate", (or cry) last week, was my daughter getting her Learner's Permit. 

Not sure what's scarier: my younger brother having a child, or my child legally able to drive. It's a toss up. Either way, I know that Bison Brew Organic Chocolate Stout will never leave me wondering. It's always smooth, and I just discovered their site has recipes, and cooking recommendations, such as utilizing it as a meat tenderizer. Be looking for THAT entry soon. Bison Brew says, it's "Like Barry White's voice in a bottle". At 5.0% ABV, with an earthy, dark chocolate and espresso foundation - I can't get enough of this one...

I was on a roll with the rose..

Recent honorable mention for beautiful label artwork goes to Saint Somewhere (Tarpon Springs, FL).

Drain pour mention also goes to Saint Somewhere, for their Pays du Soleil Dubbel Belgian Style Ale.  I immediately noticed the cork slipping up on it's own, once I removed the wire. Red flag #1. Red flag #2, was picking up on medicinal flavors, and honestly, the kind that felt I may be sick if I drank it. So, I drain poured this marvelously labeled bomber. 

Perhaps, my palate is used to other styles, but that's the beauty of craft beer: there's something for everyone. Cheers!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Beer Geek at Beer Camp

After getting the lowdown from my Instagram friend that my local Total Wine should be getting Sierra Nevada Beer Camp cases, I called and they said "Yes, should be on the floor by 5pm today". Heeeeyyyyyy... So once I wrapped up my day job, of juggling multiple projects across the state - I made a beeline to Total Wine, and snatched up one of five cases left. It was a happy moment! When else can you get a case of beer from your "gateway to craft beer" brewery, collaborating with 12 different nationwide breweries, with 12 different styles of beer? Pure genius!

Picture this: they're chilling in my beer fridge, and right around the time I'm ready to crack one open - I get a sudden sore throat (courtesy of my daughter), and was forced to wait a few days to start my Beer Camp journey. Sometimes, life just isn't fair. My old Polish Auntie used to always say: "If you have your health, you have everything". So true..

Once I had my health back, I started my Sierra Nevada Beer Camp journey. I will rank them in order of my favorite, to least favorite:

1 - Yvan the Great Belgian Style Blonde - Collaboration with Russian River Brewing (CA)

Yeah, I know - I'm a stout girl. What's this Belgian doing at the top of my list? Well, it was amazing - that's why. The dry, yeasty foundation, along with subtle citrus traces and mild hops was just beautiful. It was bready and robust. It was also my first ever Russian River brew (with the exception of  a few sips of Pliny the Elder at a Miami Sud Swap). I could drink this Belgian masterpiece every day.

2- Double Latte Coffee Milk Stout Ale - Collaboration with Ninkasi Brewing (OR)

Bitter, creamy, and savory sips of coffee throughout the bottle. The aroma had traces of hops, chocolate, and coffee - which worked extremely well together. Very, very impressed.

3 - 
Tater Ridge Scottish Ale, Collaboration with Asheville's Brewers Alliance (NC)

This is brewed with sweet potatoes. I couldn't really taste the sweet potatoes, but did enjoy the earthy, robust and perfectly hopped character. I bet this would be really good on tap. I've been watching Brew Dogs, and saw a recent episode when they went to Asheville. Well, Asheville has officially made it to my "Beer Travel List". The quality of this one was impeccable. The color was an outrageous auburn hue.

Chipoltle Steak Bowl paired great...

4 - Yonder Bock - Tropical Maibock - Collaboration with Cigar City Brewing (FL)

Yay! A local collaboration. I was slightly hesitant reading about the flavors of mango, guava and passion fruit since although I've lived in Florida 20 years, I'm not a big fruity beer gal. Well, this one was a pleasant wild card of the pack! I didn't pick up much fruit, however I did pick up big malts and caramel, and a fulfilling heaviness. The ABV is pretty heavy too: 7.7%. Don't sleep on this one - it's a gem!

5 - Alt Route Altbier - Collaboration with Victory Brewing (PA)

Altbier is a unique old German brewing style, with top fermentation instead of common bottom fermentation. It's fruity like an ale, but drinks like a lager. I had a heavy taste, but light mouth feel. I loved this random style. The label makes mention of refusing to take the easy path. I can't appreciate that, and I appreciated this delicious brew!

6 - Maillard's Odyssey Imperial Dark Ale - Collaboration with Bell's Brewery (MI)

Imagine roasted everything, I mean everything. This one reminded me a lot of Founder's Porter, but more carbonated, and much more crispier.

Fish tacos + Chico King Pale Ale = Deliciousness

7 - Chico King Pale Ale - Collaboration with 3 Floyds Brewing (IN)

I paired this Pale Ale with fish tacos, and it was so good! It had a beautiful bronze color, notes of pine, big malt, and gentle hop flavor. Most pale ales are super hopped - which I do enjoy, but the change of pace in having a more malty based pale ale, was very welcome!

8 - Electric Ray India Pale Lager - Collaboration with Ballast Point (CA)

Hoppy and fresh, with nutty and caramel notes. Great beer, and I would enjoy more of this one.

9 - CANfusion Rye Bock - Collaboration with Oskar Blues Brewery (CO)

I'm always a little scared of rye beers, but I barely picked up any with this. It was very smooth for the high ABV (7.2%), hints of caramel, and a little citrus. Solid brew, and cans make it more fun!

10 - There and Back English Style Bitter - Collaboration with New Glarus Brewing (WI)

This classic style English Bitter is complex, yet easy to drink. I picked up balanced notes of melon, hops and malt. It has inspired me to seek out other English Style Bitter beers.

11 - Torpedo Pilsner - Collaboration with Firestone Walker (CA)

Pilsner's are not my thing. They just aren't. I appreciate the crisp refreshment of this brew, and high quality, along with floral undertones and hop overtones, but I passed it on to someone else to finish. I guess I just can't do Pilsners.

12 - Allagash Myron's Walk Belgian Pale Ale - Collaboration with Allagash Brewing (ME)

Too lemony, too much citrus, too much dough flavor for me. Like all of the Beer Camp brews, the quality is present, but I did not enjoy the flavor profile of this one. I am a big Belgian fan, but not of this collaboration.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

More Suburbia Adventures

Thank you Bokampers
First things first. Bokampers in Miramar, has got it going on. They have Goose Island Matilda on tap, bottles of Goose Island Sofie, and Green Flash Hop Head Red! These gems were pleasant surprises, one relaxing Friday happy hour. 

This work happy hour, started out with "everyone going", but ended up to be myself, and six men. All of the girls bailed. What's a girl to do? I glossed up, savored my brews, and enjoyed the eye candy. I also dropped some beer knowledge to the bucket drinkers (after curious stares). After a friend of mine tasted Matilda, he was like "Wow - that's pretty good. I've never had a beer like that!" Exactly. Great job on upping the craft beer selection Bokampers. On behalf of West Broward beer nerds, thank you!

Sam Adams Summer Ale

While we're talking about West Broward, Texas Roadhouse Grill just opened in the same shopping center as Bokampers. They don't have a large craft beer selection, however their spontaneous staff line dancing, fluffy brown sugar butter rolls, and juicy BBQ compensate for only having Sam Adams Summer Ale to select from. 

Peep the Harpoon in my beer fridge

Do you know who else has it going on? Total Wine does. All day, every day. I love that I can go make random six packs, check a discount wall, then the new release wall, ask for the "special beer" that just came out from the behind the counter, and attend tastings. A recent tasting featured: Harpoon Brewery which was awesome, not only because their beers are yummy, but I got to see my girl Lauren, of former Tap 42 fame, who is now reppin Harpoon. 

Archived shot of the best brunch

While we're talking about the two - did you know that beginning July 19th, Tap 42's brunch will debut $15 bottomless Harpoon UFO drafts? Yes, for real! We're talking UFO White, Rasberry Hefeweizen and Big SqueezeBig Squeeze Shandy is like a mimosa and a beer had a baby. This is a perfect brunch selection. I'll see you there. 

At Total Wine, I picked up Tangerine Dreamsicle Cream IPA, a collaboration brew between Terrapin (GA), and Green Flash (CA). It was crisp, with piney citrus notes, hints of a creamsicle, all with solid malt undertones. Interesting, and surprisingly complex. I wasn't expecting it could be pulled off - but I buy anything Green Flash, and was delighted by this blend. I would love to drink it again. 

This is true love...

I also picked up a favorite staple of mine: Stone Imperial Russian Stout. This is silky, roasty, and dark, with flavors of coffee and decadence. It's a great sipping beer. 

See you at Beer Camp!

One of the biggest things happening in the beer world lately, is Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp. A case of 12 uniquely styled beers, each collaborated with a different brewery across the country. Because I've been sick, I have yet to crack this treasure chest of brews, but will be reviewing all 12 soon! Off to Beer Camp I go!