Big Muddy Blueberry Blonde (6% ABV): This fruit beer brewed by Big Muddy Brewing Company in Illinois pours a clear, diluted copper with a thick off-white head. Blueberry Blonde stays true to its name with a powerful artificial blueberry pie aroma. The flavor was better than expected and not quite as “fake” – mostly sweet blueberries with light malt finish. I would have liked a bit more bitterness to balance out the sugary sweetness. I picked up this beer because of the label and the name, and I think it served its purpose as a fun, different brew; not something I would purchase again.
Two Roads Honeyspot Road White IPA (6% ABV): This American IPA brewed by Two Roads Brewing Company in Stratford, Connecticut pours a slightly hazy straw yellow with a bright white soapy head that fizzles out quickly after the first sip. Two Roads’ take on the white IPA is refreshing and more in line with a wheat beer than an IPA. The brewing process uses American ale yeast without the spices in order to achieve the unique, refreshing flavor. American Wheat hits your senses first with bread-notes, pungent grapefruit and minimal bitterness that quickly changes and finishes with a healthy dose of bitter hops to remind your taste buds that you’re drinking an IPA. Keep in mind that I was in dire need of a drink when I stumbled into The Crooked Knife – more below – but, Honeyspot Road White IPA is flavorful, with an undercurrent of wheat that nicely highlights the hops for an award-winning* drinking experience that I would recommend all summer long.
I ordered a pint of this beer at The Crooked Knife on W 14th Street in NYC (there are two locations). After a few hours of walking The High Line, Meatpacking and Chelsea, I randomly stumbled on this place in need of a place to sit down and sip on a cold brew. The outdoor seating drew me in, but the friendly staff, good service and drinks made for an enjoyable experience. Bonus, a pint cost $7, not bad for NYC.
* Two Roads Honeyspot Road White IPA is the 2013 Great International Beer Festival (GIBF) gold medal winner for American Wheat.
During a lazy night at home watching TV, I came across a cooking show, “Food Rush,” on the Live Well Network featuring host and chef Ryan Scott. The episode showcased some yummy beer inspired dishes including Beer and Cheddar Soup, Beer Braised Pork Shoulder, Clams and Beer and a Beer Float that I just had to share! The episode begins with a visit to ThirstyBear Brewing Company in San Francisco where Ryan samples some brews to inspire for his dishes. The recipes are true to the style of beer used, easy-to-follow and manageable for the average cook. I look forward to trying these recipes soon. Click here to watch the full episode.
Smuttynose Vunderbar Pilsner (4.9% ABV): This German-style pilsner brewed by Smuttynose Brewing Company located in Hampton, New Hampshire pours a hazy pale yellow with a two-finger white head that slowly thins. Grassy, sweet malt and zesty lemon come together for a subtle yet refreshing aroma. A malt foundation begins followed by sweet honey and grassy herbs with a slightly bitter finish. This is a decent beer, but not a great representation of the style. I was hoping for a traditional German pils with more depth, but I got an easy drinking beer that seemed a bit bland. I can only reminisce about my trip to Bavaria.
Memorial Day is finally here and I can’t wait to kick off the summer with family, friends, good food and most importantly good beer! I attend at least one BBQ every Memorial Day weekend and the grub is usually the same all around. I always have my fill of burgers and dogs, but it’s nice to see some other options. Mix things up this year by making German Potato Salad with Beer Dressing from Recipe 4 Living; it’s familiar yet something you won’t find in every backyard.
- 10 small red potatoes
- 12 slices bacon (This seems like a lot of bacon; I’ll probably only use 6 strips when I make this).
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 4 ribs celery, chopped
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 2 tbsp. flour
- 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 1 cup beer
- 1/2 tsp. hot sauce
- 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
- Peel and cube potatoes and boil until tender; drain.
- Fry bacon until crisp and drain well to remove excess grease.
- Crumble bacon, and mix with onion, celery, and salt.
- Set aside.
- Stir butter and flour in a small saucepan to make a roux.
- Add mustard and sugar.
- Slowly stir in beer and hot sauce.
- Bring to boil, stirring constantly.
- Pour over potato mixture.
- Sprinkle with parsley.
- Toss lightly and let stand 1 hour.
- Add bacon mixture, toss gently.
Crispin Artisanal Reserve “Honey Crisp” (6.5% ABV): This natural hard apple cider brewed by Crispin Cider Company based in Colfax, California pours hazy lemonade-yellow with no head. Honey crisp is straight-forward tart and sweet apple on the nose. The flavor is similar to apple cider – it’s refreshing and tart with sweetness from the honey peeking through. This is one of my favorite ciders and I could easily see it becoming a summer staple.
If you want to know more about Crispin’s other ciders, read my review for Crispin Artisanal Reserve “The Saint.”
Crispin Artisanal Reserve “The Saint” (6.9% ABV): This natural hard apple cider brewed by Crispin Cider Company based in Colfax, California pours a cloudy pale yellow with no head. The Saint is brewed with maple syrup that is clearly defined in both the aroma and flavor. Mostly tart apples and sweet maple syrup on the nose with white wine essence. The maple syrup gives this cider a slightly heavy quality that takes away from the clean crispness I’ve come to enjoy when drinking a cider. You can also expect a notable yeastiness. The Saint is a world away from many other ciders on the market and has encouraged me to try the other flavors of the artisanal reserve offerings.
P.S. I prefer to drink to ciders over ice. If you don’t want to water your drink down, try these.
I recently visited Top Hops Beer Shop in the Lower East Side for a Saturday afternoon drink. The atmosphere is cozy and welcoming with an array bottles and beer merchandise serving as the décor. A few high-top tables offer seating in front along with a medium-sized bar with about a dozen stools and more than 20 beers on tap. Coolers in the back filled with beers from all over the world are available for purchase to-go or to drink at the bar for a small fee. Also, feel free to bring a growler for a refill. If you want a yummy snack to go along with your beer, the cheese platter was popular while I was there.
My friends and I ordered several beer flights and I enjoyed all the beers I sampled – I don’t remember what we drank, but do recall drinking a Daydreamer from Ithaca Beer Company. The bartenders were knowledgeable and clearly beer lovers. All of the patrons were friendly and we spent some time chatting with the table next to us. Kudos to Top Hops for playing great music; I’ve never been to a bar where I like every single song that was played.
Bottom line – I would go back to Top Hops, but would carefully choose which bartender I ask for a recommendation. While ordering, I briefly chatted with the bartender and explained that I enjoy all styles of beer but would like to try a good-quality beer that is unique to the area/shop or difficult to purchase in the area. I asked if he had anything that was running low or something that he felt was “different” that I should try. He laughed smugly and told me to look at the list of beers on the wall and then proceeded to tell me he can’t recommend anything because he doesn’t know what I like and everything is good-quality. I was in the restaurant/bar business for several years and understand that people ask “stupid” questions, but the bartender could have been a bit more helpful and friendly.
P.S. Make sure you shut the door on your way in/out! Cheers!
With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, many people are planning their traditional corned beef and cabbage dinners. For those of you who are looking for a different dinner option, Mom’s Signature Roast Beef from Southern Living is a hearty recipe that will have you celebrating like a true Irishman (or woman).
Ingredients (Makes 6 – 8 servings):
- 1 (12-oz.) bottle dark beer (Since it’s St. Patty’s Day, I recommend using Guinness.)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 8 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 1 (3- to 4-lb.) boneless chuck roast, trimmed
- 1 teaspoon fresh coarsely ground pepper
- 8 carrots (about 1 1/2 lb.), diagonally sliced (If you’re lazy like me, you can use baby carrots)
- 7 Yukon gold potatoes (3 lb.), peeled and cut into eighths
- 2 large onions, cut into eighths
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Combine beer, next four ingredients, and 2 Tbsp. oil in a large zip-top plastic freezer bag.
- Add roast, turning to coat. Seal and chill at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.
- Remove roast from marinade, reserving marinade. Sprinkle roast evenly with pepper.
- Brown roast 4 minutes on each side in remaining 1 Tbsp. hot oil in a large heavy-duty roasting pan over medium-high heat.
- Add reserved marinade, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of pan.
- Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and cover with heavy-duty aluminum foil.
- Bake at 300° for 2 1/2 hours or cook in slow cookers on high for 4 – 6 hours.
- Turn roast, and stir in carrots, potatoes, and onions.
- Bake 2 more hours or until roast and vegetables are tender.
- Transfer roast and vegetables to a serving platter.
- Skim fat from juices in roasting pan.
- Whisk together cornstarch and 1/2 cup water in a small bowl until smooth.
- Whisk cornstarch mixture into juices in pan; cook over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until thickened, whisking to loosen particles.
- Drizzle 1/2 cup gravy over roast. Serve remaining gravy with meat and vegetables.
Long Trail Brewmaster Series Double IPA (8.6 % ABV): This Imperial IPA brewed by Long Trail Brewing Company in Vermont pours a hazy burnt orange with a small, thin head. Fragrant floral hops on the nose with notes of pine and a hint of citrus. Smooth, balanced drinking experience – bitter hops at the forefront complemented by bitter-sweet grapefruit and sweet malty caramel flavors. The ABV is will hidden in this double IPA with a punch of flavor.