Archive

Posts Tagged ‘brewing’

Phantom Brewer Takes “Battle of the Bubbles” by Storm

Ok, well maybe he’s not a phantom, but my hubster certainly came from out of no where and took this year’s Battle of the Bubbles homebrew competition by storm!   Battle of the Bubbles is a local competition started last year, and continued this year as part of Frederick Beer Week.

I’m bragging you say?  You bet I am!

88 beers were entered in 21 different categories.  The hubster entered four of his homebrews – a Belgian IPA, a Southern English Brown, a Hellesbock and a Winterbock (my personal favorite).

Results were as follows…

  • Belgian IPA – 2nd place all around, 1st place in its category,
  • Southern English Brown – 1st place in its category
  • Hellesbock –  3rd place in its category
  • Winterbock – 2nd place in its category.

All went to the final round, with his Belgian IPA taking 2nd place all around.

We thought he’d come home with a few medals of honor, but when he collected his winnings, the stash included four huge ribbons; gift cards from local restaurants, Northern Brewer and White Labs (yeast); beer stickers; t-shirt; a tap handle; and a VIP tour of Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick for up to 10 people (don’t think I won’t be blogging about that!).

Holy cow!  We were two giddy kids sitting in the car, laughing and dumbfounded by all the goodies he’d won.

Rumor has it, my hubster is “the one to watch out for” next year.  That’s the best prize of all!

Cheers beers everyone!  

Advertisements

Cocoa Mole! Cerveza Para Cinco de Mayo!

The hubster brought home a surprise bomber the other night.  Something new, completely unique and amazingly good.  If you’re lucky enough to have access to New Belgium Brewing Company’s specialty beers, then bypass the Mexican beers this Cinco de Mayo and pick up a bottle of their Cocoa Mole.  Holy Mole, this beer is spiced just right with ancho, guajillo and chipotle peppers; cinnamon; and bittersweet cocoa.

If you’re not familiar with mole, it’s a heavy spiced Mexican sauce or rub that’s sweet, spicy, and full of delicious, fruity smoky lingering heat.  Imagine that in a beer and you’ve got Cocoa Mole -“Porter de Mexico”.  Introduced as part of New Belgium’s Lips of Faith series, this beer is not for weak taste buds.  The spices permeate the beer without overwhelming.  You can taste every ingredient, yet the combination is brilliant, and like the sauce, the chilies and leave a sweet fruity lingering heat that blends perfectly with the spicy cinnamon and bittersweet chocolate.

For those of you who like stats with your beer reviews, here we go…

  • Medium bodied
  • Dark
  • Full Flavored
  • 9% ABV
  • IBU’s?  Target hops are used, but IBUs aren’t even listed – the spices pretty much replace the hops in this one.
  • Spices – Ancho, guajillo, and chipotle peppers, cinnamon, cocoa

If you’re thinking you’d rather cook with it than drink it, then hey, you’re not alone.  I can easily imagine cooking this down to a thick syrupy demi glacé and spooning it over mounds of tender roasted chicken or pork (Remember the beautiful food in the movie “Like Water for Chocolate”?) .  Or scoop some vanilla ice cream, pour Cocoa Mole over and top with chocolate syrup for a delicious beer ice cream float.  Yum!  Don’t believe me?  Check out New Belgium’s website for some creative Cocoa Mole recipes.

Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy a good authentic mexican cerveza on Cinco de Mayo.  And in the heat of summer, a cold (yes, I said cold) Corona can be just the ticket (and it happens to be one of the few beers that encourages fruit).  But for a true Cinco de Mayo flavored filled cerveza experience, you’ve got to try Cocoa Mole.  At less than $10 a bottle, not only will you get a memorable beer experience, but you’ll also have a gorgeous artsy bottle that will melt down into one heck of a nice cheese plate (check out New Life for Old Beer Bottles) !

Happy Cinco de Mayo Everyone!  Viva la Mexico and Cheers Beers!

The Victory-Garden BeerVenture

Cheers Beers has been nominated for the Beautiful Blogger Award!  Many thanks to Anne at Zen and Genki for her gracious acknowledgement.  As part of my acceptance, I shall follow a few simple rules…

Instructions for the Beautiful Blogger award:

1. Thank the person who gave you the award
2. Paste the award on your blog
3. Link the person who nominated you for the award
4. Nominate 7 bloggers or less
5. Post links to the 1-7 blogs you nominated

Ground rules aside, I’m happy to recognize several of my long time, personal award worthy favorites for this BEAUTIFUL award …

The Victory-Garden Tour

Feeling the need to post something beautiful, our Victory-Garden Tour should be just the ticket!  We visited Longwood Gardens a few weeks ago, on (as luck would have it) one of the most gorgeous spring days yet.   Longwood Gardens is located in PA, just over the Delaware line.  Of course, when we travel, there’s always beer involved.  It just so happens that Victory Brewing Company is located only 30 minutes away.  Yay!

Our first trip to Longwood Gardens, it was spectacular.  Fabulous for kids of all ages.  Tulips were at their season’s peak, and trees were flowering everywhere.  But the real show was inside the conservatory, where florals, fruit trees and greenery filled every room.  Every turn offered an entirely new experience – new colors, sounds, smells.  Not our last visit, I assure you.

The brew pub at Victory Brewing Company in Downingstown, PA never disappoints.   We followed our usual game plan and bellied up early in front of the growler fillers.  What can I say?  It’s stupid simple entertainment for us big kids.  And of course we had to get a sampler, because the list at Victory always  includes new and rare items that we may have the chance to try again.  Their tap list is long and includes something for everyone – stouts, IPAs and hoppy bevs, belgians, barley wine, german style lagers, wheat beers, and three cask beers.  One of my favorites, St. Boisterous (maibock) was bellowing my name.  I also love the Golden Monkey.

A stand out was the smoked lager.  Smoked beers, when done well, are amazing, and the sure sign of a masterful brewer.  In fact, that’s one thing you can expect from Victory.  Whether or not you like their beer, you can’t say it’s not well brewed.  They have rightfully earned their elevated position in the craft beer hierarchy.  We’re just glad they’re within driving distance.   In fact, we’re considering a year-round pass to Longwood Gardens to justify more trips northward.  I hear the garden fountain exhibit (opening June 9th) is spectacular!

Ah, and here my wordy tour ends with some actually beauty – a small sample of our Victory Garden Beerventure… Cheers beers!


Peanut Butter Dog Cookies from Spent Grain

I’ve been itching to make dog cookies from spent grain since seeing a recipe in one of the hubster’s beer magazines.  Many breweries hand their spent grain over to local farmers for feed, so we know our four legged friends are fans.  After the hubster and his buddy brewed this weekend,  I asked him to set aside of few cups of grain for experimentation purposes.

Below is a basic recipe that seems popular among homebrewers and their canine sidekicks.  I actually halved the original recipe, and as I write this, our kitchen is filled with the yummy aroma of peanut butter dog cookies baking in the oven.

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE:  Hops are toxic to animals, so do not feed any grain to animals if it has come into contact with hops of any kind.

Peanut Butter and Grain Dog Cookies

Makes 2-1/2 dozen medium sized dog cookies.

Ingredients

    • 2 cups grain
    • 1 cup all purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup peanut butter
    • 1 egg

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix ingredients thoroughly.
  3. Roll out dough and press shapes with cookies cutters, cut with knife, or drop cookies using two spoons.
  4. Bake for 30 at 350 degrees, then reduce temperature to 225 degrees and continue baking for 2 hours.  The cookies should be dried out at that point so they won’t spoil when left out.

Cool cookies and share w/ your four-legged friends.

These are rustic looking cookies.  But my dogs don’t seem to mind.  There’s not much they won’t eat and they seem to really enjoy these.

Soft or Hard Cookies.  Since I have older dogs, I prefer cookies that aren’t too hard, and still have some tenderness on the inside, so I don’t overbake them.  Test out times and temps in your oven to determine optimal baking time and texture.  Just keep in mind that if the cookies are soft, then their shelf life won’t be as long.  You can even refrigerate them so they won’t get moldy.

Storage.  I’d store these for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container, much like you would human cookies.  However, if you dry them out completely at a lower temperature for a longer period of time , then they should have a fairly long shelf life.

No Grain?  If you’re just looking for a good dog biscuit recipe but don’t have any spent grain on hand, then  visit SpiceGirlFl’s blog Savoring Every Bite and give her homemade peanut butter dog biscuits a try!

I’ll be testing and posting more recipes and ideas for using for spent grain, so stay tuned!

Cheers beers!

Old Fashioned Homegrown Hop Pickin’

The hops here at our small Hoppy Times hop farm and home brewery have finally reached their third season – the season when bumper crops are expected to roll in.  And so they have.

Last year we were a bit concerned because Fred, our oversized ground critter, Fredwina and six baby Freds all lived under the shed and enjoyed snacking on the bottom leaves of the hop vines. This year, they opted for my cucumber plants instead, so unfortunately we will be without pickles this year, but the centennial and cascade hops have been left to flourish for this year’s labor day IPA.  Woo hoo!

Hop vines grow up, out, into my azalea bush, and through the shed.

The hubster engineered a great contraption that allows the vines to grow high against the shed,
and it unlatches and lowers for easy picking.

Our little hop of horrors is hungry today!

Let the good old fashioned hop pickin’ begin!

A hopback is a hop filter that fits between the kettle and the wort chiller. Only whole cone hops (vs hop pellets) can be used in a hopback.  The hot wort flows straight from the brew kettle and through the fresh hops, then into the wort chiller where the hop flavor is locked into the beer.

The hops are dried before use, so we spread them into a single layer across window screens.
Then we’ll vacuum seal the hops and freeze them for brew day.

Hope you enjoyed the Hoppy Times hop farm tour.  We’ll let you know how that Labor Day IPA turns out!

Cheers beers!

Roy Pitz Brewing Co. – Chambersburg, PA’s Hidden Gem

Since reading an article in the paper about this small time operation, the hubster and I have been itching to visit the Roy Pitz Brewing Company.  Two years later, we finally ventured to Chambersburg, PA to check them out.  Our initial thoughts?  Wow!  Roy Pitz is a name to watch out for.

The Roy Pitz Story

The Brewery is owned and operated by Jesse and Ryan, two grade school friends who grew up in Chambersburg and have since continued their friendship and cultivated a shared passion for craft beer and brewing.  They experimented heavily with homebrewing in college, and their training in professional brewing began with jobs at Victory Brewing Company and Twin Lakes Brewing Company. Upon graduating with business degrees, the duo attended the Siebel Institute of Brewing Technology in Chicago, and Ryan continued on to study at the Doemens Institute in Germany.   He earned an International Degree in Brewing Science and returned to Chambersburg to join forces and open Roy Pitz Brewing Company with Jesse.

Who’s Roy Pitz?

According to an article from Hagerstown Magazine, “the brewery takes its name from the legend of a pair of quarreling conjoined twins local to Chambersburg named Roy and Pitz.”  The two brewers and longtime friends aren’t twins, but metaphorically speaking, they are attached at the hip, personally and professionally.  And so this relationship is conveyed by the conjoined twins represented in their logo.

The Brewery

The Roy Pitz Brewing Company was opened in 2008, has since tripled production and is currently looking to expand distribution into Maryland.  The brewery is housed in an old warehouse located off a remote alley on the edge of downtown Chambersburg.  If you’re not looking for it, you won’t find it.

They currently distribute kegs to about 30+ locations across Pennsylvania, and they only fill growlers at their Chambersburg location.  These guys are small potatoes…for now.  But the word is out in Chambersburg, as parades of locals crossed the parking lot and entered the small tasting room with empty growlers in tote.

Don’t expect sparkle and polish, the tasting room is a small, rustic, cellar-like setup.  It has character and foosball!   Wooden barrels emerge from the walls supporting plain wooden tap handles, and the small room is surrounded by a collection of growlers, memorabelia and merchandise.  Behind a glass wall lies the modest brewing operations filled with stainless steel tanks and a volunteer or two hard at work keeping the place well sanitized.

Liquid Art

One taste and you’ll agree, Roy Pitz’ beer is an art form.  Roy Pitz has coined themselves as “America’s Freshest Brewery”.  These guys brew using the highest quality ingredients, and they keep it local as much as possible, from the water to the produce to the hops produced from their own local hop farm.  There aren’t many breweries that offer customers the opportunity to taste and take home beers that were kegged from their fermenters that very same day.  That’s fresh!

Available beers are displayed in chalk on the overhead board, and the brewery is free and generous with their samples.  But many patrons are regulars who know exactly what they want, and some visit weekly to stock up for the weekend and ensure they don’t miss out on anything new.

Our server/jack-of-all for the day told us that the seasonals are outstanding and worth the trip.  After tasting the lot, I can assure you that the year round brews are every bit as outstanding as the seasonals, and yes, it was worth the trip.

Five beers were available on tap, four of which sold for $10 per growler, and one that sold for $15.  Most are available year round with one or two seasonals thrown in.

Our Two Growler Picks

Lovitz Lager (Watermelon Lager, Seasonal).  This has gotta be one of the best fruit beers I’ve ever had.  The aroma of fresh watermelon is intoxicating, and the fruit flavor permeates the beer.  The warmer the beer, the more fragrant, fresh, and apparent the watermelon flavor.  It’s clearly a well brewed lager, unfiltered, clean, and balanced.  I didn’t even feel compelled to add more watermelon to the beer.  It’s perfect as is.

Our server mentioned that Jesse and Ryan were at a beer festival in Philly pushing the Watermelon Lager as a contender for Best Summer Beer.  Best of luck guys!  It has my vote!

Lugwig’s Revenge (Smoked Lager, Year Round).  This is a smooth, rich, full flavored dark lager with a delicious smokiness that makes this a unique brow-raising experience.  Ludwig’s Revenge is unlike any beer I’ve had before.  Smoked beers can often be overpowering with smoke flavor (sometimes liquid smoke), or they’re watery with barely a hint of smokiness.  The primary flavors in Roy Pitz’s beers permeate without dominating, so the smoked flavor is apparent throughout the beer, but perfectly balanced with the smooth dark malts.  A rare treat of a beer.

We also had the privilege of sampling the Old Jail Ale (English Brown is delicious, mild, malty, flavorful), the Best Blonde Ale (amazingly well done Kolsch style beer with loaded with flavor and refreshingly crisp and citrusy) , and the Daddy Fat Sacks (malt and hops are incredibly well balanced, nice sweetness, full-bodied, full flavored).  Picking two to take home was not an easy task, every single beer was stellar.   Visit their website to find out what will be on tap during your visit.

Beer is Their Priority

Remember the name Roy Pitz and keep a watchful eye out for Jesse and Ryan.  The talent and skill of these two young brewers and their exacting attention to details are clearly reflected in their products.  Ignore their modest surroundings, their priority is the beer.  Our server mentioned an event where they displayed a note to customers apologizing for their lack of merchandise.  Their message read “we put our money into the beer”.   Enough said.

Cheers beers!
.

The Forefathers of Homebrewing

In honor of the 4th of July, I thought I’d do a little research and throw out some tidbits about our forefathers and their love of beer….

Thomas Jefferson – a Forefather of Homebrewing

According to The Jefferson Monticello website…

“At Monticello, beer [1] was a “table liquor” served during dinner, and Jefferson’s earliest designs for his plantation included spaces for brewing and the storage of beer.”

Bottles used at Monticello to bottle beer – made of clay and glass.

“In the early years of their marriage Jefferson’s wife Martha brewed fifteen-gallon batches of small beer (which has a relatively low alcoholic content) nearly every two weeks. Perhaps with a view toward expanding production, Jefferson’s early plans for Monticello’s offices (the rooms where household services were carried out) came to include both a brewing room and a beer cellar.”

Jefferson took to growing his own hops and malting his own grain.  “Once the malt had been ground, brewing needed to commence immediately. In the fall, Jefferson brewed three sixty-gallon casks of ale in succession.”

“As word spread of the brewing operations at Monticello, Jefferson’s neighbors began requesting his ale recipe, or asking to have their servants trained in beer making at Monticello. ”

The Thomas Jefferson Foundation collaborated with Virginia’s Starr Hill Brewing Company to create the Monticello Reserve Ale.  Tastings were served at Monticello this past President’s Day.  As described on Starr Hill’s website – “Monticello Reserve Ale is inspired by what was produced and consumed regularly at Monticello.  It is made from a combination of wheat and corn, lightly hopped. ”

George Washington’s Beer Recipe

As written by Max Reed, The Gawker, May 4, 2011 11:48 PM

George Washington’s beer, made from a recipe he wrote in his Notebook as a Virginia Colonel.

New York Public Library holds the recipe as part of its collection, and to celebrate the centennial of its Steven A. Schwartzman building, has commissioned the Shmaltz Brewing Company (which makes He’brew and Coney Island Lager) to recreate it. ”

Sam Adams – Namesake in Beer

According to Wikipedia…

“The brand name of Samuel Adams (often abbreviated to Sam Adams, even in advertisements), was chosen in honor of Samuel Adams, an American patriot famous for his role in the American Revolution and Boston Tea Party. According to tradition, he was also a brewer.[3]?

Ben Franklin – Hate to Love Relationship with Beer

From Gregg Smith’s article “Brewing in Colonial America” on BeerHistory.com

“The quintessential colonist Benjamin Franklin described his earliest job in a print shop with frequent reference to ale. As a young apprentice, tending to the needs of the journeymen was one of his foremost duties. A right to take a portion of one’s wages in ale was another custom these displaced Englishmen brought with them. Franklin’s diary repeatedly mentions the times his work was interrupted as he was dispatched to fetch rations of ale. Although this job resulted in his early disdain for the beverage he soon developed a fondness. Even John Adams, first United States ambassador to the court of St.James was a beer drinker.”


Colonial Life Revolved Around Beer

From Gregg Smith’s article “Brewing in Colonial America” on BeerHistory.com

“Early colonists of the North American continent had a fairly simple life. The typical immigrant from England had only three things on their mind: where to get food, how to secure shelter, and when would they get their next beer.”

“Nearly every citizen of the day knew that drinking water could make you deathly ill. Ale drinkers were somehow spared this affliction and therefore most people soon substituted a frequent imbibing of ale over the dreaded curse of water.”

“Most parties landing on American soil would bring with them the equipment and raw materials to begin immediate production of ale.”

“Ale and beer was a major dietary staple in the colonies. Literally everyone partook. It was the common item which spanned generations, from cradle to grave everyone drank beer. Infantswere fed beer and it was especially recommended for nursing mothers. Farmers, laborers, merchants, lawyers, and craftsman all drank beer. It was a common thread in all their lives and this democratic beverage would even play a role of mid-wife in the formation of government.”

“It was not uncommon for drinking to begin even before breakfast and it continued with every meal throughout the day.”

“This homebrewing even had its effect on colonial architecture. Most households added a small brew room onto their living quarters. ”


Beer Quotes from Our Forefathers

  • “Beer , if drank with moderation, softens the tempter, cheers the spirit, and promotes good health.” – Thomas Jefferson
  • “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy” – Benjamin Franklin
  • “I fear the man who drinks water and so remembers this morning what the rest of us said last night” –Benjamin Franklin
  • “Let no man thirst for good beer.” – Sam Adams
  • In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria. –Benjamin Franklin
  • “There can’t be good living where there is not good drinking.”-Benjamin Franklin


Happy 4th of July!  Cheer Beers!
%d bloggers like this: