Thankful Thursday: IPA Day!

Although I might talk a big game, I’m not exactly a beer geek or a beer snob. I’d like to think that I’m some kind of beer aficionado but I still have a lot to learn. In reality, I’m more of a student of beer.

But, even being the diligent student that I am, I’m embarrassed to admit that I had no idea it was National IPA Day! I just thought it was any other Thankful Thursday until received a tweet from a lovely co-worker alerting me to the importance of today. A celebration of my favorite style of beer!

So, clearly, today I am thankful for IPA Day (and awesome co-workers)!

Happy National IPA Day and Happy Thankful Thursday!

Which IPA are you thankful for? I am thankful for Lagunitas!

Mmmmm …. beer.

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P.S. If you haven’t tried a rye IPA, you must!

New Fave Brew: Ruthless Rye

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I may have mentioned this before: I’m something of a hop-head.

Citra, Simcoe, Cascade, Chinook … I love ’em. So, it comes as no surprise that IPA’s are my go-to brew.

But, this year, I stumbled across a style of beer that I wasn’t familiar with at the Great American Beer Festival: Rye IPA’s.

Wowza.

My first taste of a rye was at Firestone Walker’s booth. We tried the Wookey Jack Black Rye IPA. It was love at first sip. The spicy hops balanced with a roasty, dry rye. Yum. Yum.

Since GABF, the spouse and I have kept our eyes peeled for rye beers to taste. One night the spouse bought my new favorite (and has been back to the store many times for more): Sierra Nevada’s Ruthless Rye.

Spicy, hoppy, balanced, dry, warm … it’s about as close to a perfect winter brew as I can imagine. And, unfortunately, that’s just what it is … a winter seasonal. So, don’t wait too long to try it! At the rate I’m going, they’ll be out soon. ;)

Give the Rye a try and definitely let me know what you think!

Are you a beer drinker? What’s your favorite brew right now? Does it change with the season?

P.S. Sierra Nevada is one awesome brewery and two of our home-brewing buds got to got to Beer Camp with them. Try what they made at camp – the limited release Simmer Down Brown – at the Pints 4 Paws event in Cheyenne, WY on February 8th!

Image Source.

Tasty Tuesday: I Miss Beer

I’m a beer drinker. I like it…a lot. And not because it makes my head feel floaty or because it’s easier to make bad decisions after having a few. Nope, I’m not into beer for the alcohol alone…I like the taste of beer.

I’ve been labeled a bit of a “beer snob” or “beer geek” by those that genuinely enjoy a Bud Light, but truth be told, I’m really not all that knowledgeable about the brown bottle. Living in the Napa Valley of beers, I’m surround by actual ‘beer geeks’ who know far more than I do….I just like a good beer.

I like it hoppy and a little malty. I love Pale Ales, Reds and IPA. I enjoy the light flavor of a Stella on a hot day and heavy creaminess of a Guinness in March. I have dreams about Yeungling (only available east of the Mississippi). And when I’m feelin’ fancy, I’ll bust open a bottle of Chimay. Mmm….

And, as many of you know, my spouse is a home-brewer so we often have two home-brews on tap at the house. Lately, because he’s a real sweetie, he has one beer on tap and a home-made root beer on the other for his expecting wife. Awwww.

But root beer doesn’t always cut it. Over the last eight months, I’ve missed my hoppy elixir of malted grain and in efforts to satisfy my craving I’ve tried about every non-alcoholic beverage under the sun. Today, I thought I’d share my findings so you lovely beer guzzlin’ gals will have some guidance when it comes to spirits if you suddenly find yourself with child.

Non-Alcoholic Beer

In order of preference:

St. Pauli Girl – Hands down, my favorite NA. It’s a little odd, given my affinity for the heavier, hoppier microbrews, but I have to say when it comes to “beer” taste, St. Pauli Girl gets it the closest. It’s a lightweight malt beverage, perfect for a hot day or with a meal. I’ve knocked back quite a few of these green bottles in the last eight months and will definitely be trying regular St. Pauli Girl post-pregnancy. I’ve never really considered regular St. Pauli Girl beer before and can honestly say I have no idea what it tastes like.

O’Doul’s – Probably the most famous of the NA’s, you can find O’Doul’s at almost every bar, restaurant, or liquor store. For those that typically imbibe on the more flavorful selections, I’d recommend trying the Amber O’Doul’s (comes in a brown bottle). It has a lot more ‘beer’ flavor and has more substantial weight on the tongue than O’Doul’s Premium (green bottle).

Kaliber – An interesting spin on NA if you ask me. This swig will definitely give you some taste, but it’s not what you’d expect. Created by the folks who bring us Guinness, this slightly darker ale has a coffee-infused flavor and aftertaste. While the flavor of Kaliber is stronger than that of most of the other NA’s, it’s still a very light-weight brew and won’t fill you up.

Bitburger – I just stumbled upon this one recently. Bitburger is a German beer with more hops than most NA’s and quite a bite. The flavor is definitely strong….it takes some getting used to…but it grows on you as you sip down this bubbly beverage. It’s the only beer I’ve found that is 0.0% ABV (most NA’s are less than 0.5% ABV).

Becks – I’m not a huge fan of Becks NA. It’s a light amber but a little too light in flavor. Also, there is something of an unsettling aftertaste with this brew. I wouldn’t necessarily turn it down but it’s not the first one I’d ask for.

Sharps – By far, the worst beer I’ve ever had (and I had a Hamm’s once pre-pregnancy). Unfortunately for Miller, their NA beer is just as bad as their regular beer. I assumed that the domestic beer giants (Budweiser, MillerCoors) would make a terrible NA because their regular beer sucks, so I avoided the majority of their products while preggo. In Vegas, I was accidentally served a Sharps when I mistakenly asked for a NA brew without asking what the options were. I made it less than half-way through the bottle before paying a ridiculous Vegas-price and leaving it to be dumped out.

So, there ya have it…my NA beer reviews! Like I mentioned, I never explored the typical domestics so I’m not sure what Coors Light NA tastes like (but I’d venture to guess, based on the taste of regular Coors Light, it’d be…..water-flavored?). And I’m sure you can find more flavorful, zany brews if you really dig through the NA aisle but I think the selection above captures most of the widely available NA’s.

I know for sure, the brews near the top of the list will definitely quench your thirst when you’re a sober sister in need of cold one.

Tasty Tuesday: Equinox Brewing

“Thank you, microbreweries, for making my alcoholism seem like a neat hobby.” ~ Jimmy Falon.

Te he he. I joke.

I heard that quote recently and could not stop giggling. As you all know, I LOVE to visit microbreweries and, living in the Napa Valley of beer (look it up), I get to spend a lot of time visiting local breweries with a never-ending supply of hand-crafted, unique beers.

Earlier this summer, the spouse and I stopped by one of our favorite local breweries, Equinox Brewing, for an afternoon sampler. As always, their friendly atmosphere and intriguing brews provided us a relaxing and enjoyable treat.

Via Equinox Brewing

Equinox Brewing was started by the owners of Hops & Berries, a well-known (and frequently visited by my spouse) local home brew store. Experts in all things beer, the owners of Hops & Berries are quick to answer questions, provide tips and recipes, and guide home brewers from novice to expert level. It was only a matter of time until their success would lead them to opening their own brewery.

The brewery is located next door to Hops & Berries and, in addition to their welcoming interior, they offer a comfortable, shady patio which is perfect for summer afternoons and evenings. They frequently feature local bands and artists and provide activities for the under-21 customers as well.

Their beers are all unique; offering twists on classic brew styles with new techniques and ingredients from around the world. My absolute favorite beer of theirs is the Orbit ESB…I order it every time I go.  It’s a hoppy, citrusy beer that’s balanced with a light sweetness at the end. In a word: Delicious.


I love visiting Equinox Brewing and am always eager to take out-of-town visitors to this local favorite whenever I can. Next time you’re in Fort Collins (remember, we are the Napa Valley of beer, so you outta plan a trip), be sure to stop by Equinox and enjoy a sampler of Colorado microbrews!

Tasty Tuesday: Left Hand Brewery

Recently, the spouse and I visited Left Hand Brewing Company in Longmont, CO. As always, we loved our time spent there sampling their delicious craft beers and soaking up sunshine on their large deck. When we arrived, we were both surprised to find that the bartender remembered us from last time (which was in October!)! That’s the kind of place they run there…the people are extra-friendly, the beer is fantastic, and the atmosphere is just right for a relaxing afternoon.

Left Hand Brewery opened its doors in 1994 with its first batch of beer, Sawtooth Ale (which you can still get today). All Left Hand beers are brewed with the goal of achieving balance between malt and hops. This strive for balance has resulted in many unique, handcrafted beers ranging from light to dark that will surely please even the most discerning beer-loving patron.

The spouse and I each ordered a sampler; I was sure to include an ESB, IPA, and Pale Ale (my fav beers) as well as a brew outside of my comfort zone to challenge my palate. The spouse basically ordered all the samples that I didn’t so we could try as many samples as possible.

Post-beers we did our usual browsing through the merchandise area to see if there were any hoodies or hats we couldn’t live without. We thanked the bartender, snuck in one last sample at the bar (a couple we met couldn’t stop raving about the Dopplebock so we had to try it….it was great!), and we made our way home.

I would always recommend touring the brewery or visiting the tasting room at Left Hand Brewing Company to any beer connoisseur! You’re in for a large variety of excellent beers, wonderful people, and a great afternoon!

Tasty Tuesday: Odell Brewing Co.

Happy Tuesday!

How was your Memorial Day weekend!? I hope it was a wonderful kick off to summer! The spouse and I enjoyed BBQ’s, brewery tours, running, and the movies….it was a perfect three-day weekend!

For me, it really starts to feel like summer when I’m tasting a seasonal micro on the patio of any Fort Collins brewery. Last Friday, we kicked off the Memorial Day festivities doing just that which is today’s Tasty Tuesday tale….a visit to Odell Brewing Co.

Around 4pm on Friday, we started the holiday weekend on the right foot with a trip to the famous local brewery for an afternoon sip. We’ve been to Odell a billion times (’cause we love them!) so we’ve already taken the tour and tried the sampler trays. On this visit, we both decided to try a pint of a beer we’d never had before.

Spouse tried the Cerveza Vecino and I tried a wit beer that I’ve forgotten the name of…. It’s not Odell’s fault, it’s mine. I know I don’t like wit (wit is a belgium-style wheat beer) so I don’t really know what I was thinking when I ordered it. The spouse and I traded after one sip and I quickly forgot all about it. The Cerveza Vecino, however, was delicious! It was kind of like a Negra Modelo and I really enjoyed it. Good news…the spouse liked the wit a lot!

We decided to stay for a second round but both went for the Odell Classic IPA. I love their IPA – it’s heavy on the hops which gives it a very bold flavor. Yum, hoppy, yum. I order a pint almost every time we visit.

Beer number two in hand, we relaxed in the tasting room and enjoyed the friendly atmosphere that they have created in their brewery. With over 45,000 square feet of space, Odell is an impressive building. The tasting room has plenty of seating, is always playing good music, and usually full of fun, beer-lovin’ folks.

Post beers, we checked out all the new t-shirts, glassware, and other goodies they have in their store (this has been added to my wish list) and the spouse tried on hats (he currently has this but needs a new one from wearing it so much). We left happy (as always when visiting Odell) and look forward to visiting again soon!

Grimm Brothers Brewhouse

Doesn’t it feel like Friday? I don’t know if its cause it’s the end of the month or the end of the first quarter (Hello….how FAST is 2011 flying by?!) but today feels like it should also be the end of the week! I’m completely ready for this weekend but with two days left in the week, I guess I better try to refocus. :)

With the challenge ending yesterday and Q1 ending today, I’ve been thinking back on what 2011 has brought so far and it has been an EXCITING year! Not only did I see Ke$ha (highlight of, like, my life) but saw Roger Clyne in concert too. My dear friends welcomed two of the most precious little babies into the world as my spouse and I welcomed our new pup, Simcoe. All adorable! And I got a new-to-me car, hosted a beer tasting, redesigned this blog, squeezed in a couple of races, and managed to visit a brewery or two. (It’s a tough life…but someboy’s gotta do it, right??) I joke. Really, I thank my lucky, twinkling stars for all this fun every day!

Thinking of all that fun, I realized that I never told you about one of the breweries we visited. A few weeks ago, my spouse and I took ourselves down to Loveland, CO and spent an afternoon in the Tap Room at Grimm Brothers Brewhouse.

Grimm Brothers was started by avid home brewers and is “devoted to the art and science of beer and brewing.” Serving all German-style beers, the tap room is open all year and offers four standard beers as well as several seasonal brews.

Cleverly named after the classic fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, they offer brews such as Little Red Cap, which is an altibier, Snow Drop, a honey wheat ale, and my favorite, The Fearless Youth, which is a dunkel. Yummm…dunkel :)


As with pretty much every brewery I visit, I very much enjoyed Grimm Brothers and am looking forward to returning. They were friendly, poured great beers, and I just couldn’t get enough of their fun theme.

Brewery Tour: The Funk

The spouse and I recently visited the FC’s newest brewery, Funkwerks. Funkwerks is a small, all-saison brewery the just moved into the FC in late 2010 (I think). We enjoyed our afternoon beer tasting…as always….even though I’m not much of a saison fan. Out of their five-beer sampler, I really enjoyed two of them. The other three were….well…if you like saison’s than I’m sure you’d like them!

What is a Saison? I’m glad you asked! A saison is essentially a beer brewed in a small brewery with farmhouse status or heritage and an artisanal quality. This quality is enhanced by the presence of spicing components other than hops – though hops are definitely a part of the style. Color and alcohol content are not factors. (Source)

If you’re around the FC anytime, I’d recommend stopping by. Be ready for pricey samplers and growlers (we didn’t end up getting a growler) but it’s definitely worth a taste.

Speaking of funked….today’s 30 Day Blog Challenge is to post a picture of the person you’ve done the most…um…funked up things with. From eye-patches at the dive bars to nights in Vegas, from countless concerts and brewery tours to crazy camping trips, I’d have to say that the ladies I’ve definitely had the most fun and funky time with are the ones below. (I couldn’t find one pcture with ALL of us, ladies! Let’s get that figured out!)

Holiday Brewery Tour: Yuengling

Going to see family is the best way to spend the holidays….especially when a 150 year-old brewery is a short drive away.

This year, John and I traveled home to NJ to visit our east coast kin between Christmas Eve & NYE. Our trip has been fabulous – we’ve taken a drive up the shoreline to Asbury Park, had a fun night at an Irish Pub in Red Bank with my cousin, took a chilly stroll on the boardwalk and took an unbelievable trip to Pottsville, PA for a tour of America’s oldest brewery: Yuengling

Built in 1829, Yuengling was in business long before prohibition….and refrigeration. Under the main building are creepy caves that were hollowed out by hand to lager the beer and assist in the fermentation process by keeping it cool. The tour includes a walk through the caves and a peak at what life was like many years ago.

 

Throughout the brewery are hand painted murals, gorgeous stained glass windows and a history of Yuengling signage and lables. The huge copper brew kettles, turn of the century kegs and fast-paced bottling room were an exciting sight for beer nerds and beer novices alike.

 

At the end of the tour, we stepped into their tasting room to sample a few of our favorite Yuengling brews and took in their history in photographs, beer cans and bottle styles.

This tour is the best I’ve been on yet a must-see for all who love beer!