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Coolin’ Off with Frozen Beersicles

We found Sean Paxton’s (aka. The Homebrew Chef) Beersicles recipes just in time for the 4th of July.  Easy to make, these popsicles will be the king of conversation at your next homebrew gathering or cookout. They’re also a great way to feature your homebrew or other favorite beers.  Use the recipes below as a guide for creating your own variations. Just don’t let the little kiddies get hold of these – they’re for big kids only.

Beersicles (from the Homebrew Chef)

Start with a basic simple syrup…

Simple Syrup Ingredients:

4 cups water
2 cups organic sugar

Simple Syrup Directions:

To make the simple syrup, bring water to a boil and add sugar. Whisk to dissolve the sugar and boil for 3 minutes on high. Remove from the heat and chill. This can be made in advance and will hold in the refrigerator for 3 weeks. Also perfect for cocktails and other desserts.

Union Jack IPA Pop Ingredients:

12 ounces Firestone Walker Brewing Co. Union Jack IPA
2 ounces simple syrup, recipe below

Midasicle Ingredients:

12 ounces Dogfish Head Midas Touch
2 ounces simple syrup, substitute 1/2 cup of honey for 3/4 cup sugar

Bastard Pop Ingredients:

12 ounces Stone Brewing Co. Arrogant Bastard Ale
2 ounces simple syrup

Kriek Popsicle Ingredients:

12 ounces Drie Fonteinen Schaerbeekse Kriek
2 ounces simple syrup

Goose Island Bourbon County Stoutsicle Ingredients:

12 ounces Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
1 ounce simple syrup
1 ounce heavy whipping cream

Instructions

  • Choose your recipe and combine ingredients in a bowl with a whisk
  • Carefully pour (we used a funnel) the mixture into popsicle molds.  One recipe filled a set of 4 popsicle molds.
  • We used plastic molds, but you could probably use small plastic cups and wooden popsicle sticks, and put a small piece of plastic through the stick and over the top of the cup.
  • Freeze overnight.

We made ours with Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch and Stone’s Old Arrogant Bastard.  Reminds me of ice beer.  The flavors are somewhat condensed and the primary flavors of the beer are really accentuated.  The honey of course was prominent in the Midas Touch, and the hoppy bitterness stood out in the Old Arrogant Bastard.  The taste of the beer is retained, but sweetly enhanced with the simple syrup.  Just a fun, interesting way to experience your favorite beer, especially in the heat of summer.

You’ll find tons of great beer recipes on Sean Paxton’s website at www.thehomebrewchef.com.  He also hosts a show on The Brewing Network where he talks all about cooking with beer.  He shares some amazing homebrew and food recipes (afterall, he is a homebrewer AND a chef), as well as comprehensive insights to food and beer pairings.

Cheers beers!

Lunch at the Three Floyds Brewing Company and Pub

Our trip took us through Munster, Indiana, so we couldn’t pass up lunch a the Three Floyds Brewpub and Brewing Company.   This small craft microbrewery focuses on brewing smaller batches of top quality, unconventional craft beers that are primarily available throughout Indiana and the Chicago regions.

They’re also well known for Dark Lord Day, a “fantasy drinking event” held in honor of their Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout:

“A demonic Russian Style Imperial Stout, brewed with Intelligensia coffee Mexican vanilla, and Indian sugar this beer defies description, available one day a year in April at the brewery, Dark Lord Day.”

Three Floyds Brewing Company was founded in 1996 by two brothers and their dad, last name Floyd.  The brewpub later opened in 2005, and much of the pub food comes from their 3,000 square foot organic herb and vegetable garden.  Schedule your trip right, and take in a Saturday tour to learn more about the brewery and its history.

The beers all have bold eclectic names from various historical, medieval, comic book, cinematic, fantasy influences.  I had Robert the Bruce (7.0% ABV, 30 IBUs) –  a smooth, dark, roasted, malty scottish ale that was slightly dry, with medium body and mouth feel.  That’s my description, here’s how they describe it:

“A bold Scottish ale with a complex malty body derived from roasted and crystal malts balanced with just the right combination of hops. This ale pours a deep ruby color, has a sweet malty nose with layered caramel and roasted notes and a full body. Robust yet smooth, Robert The Bruce is a malt lover’s delight.”

We also tried the Alpha King (6.5% ABV, 66 IBUs), 3 Floyds’ flagship American Pale Ale – bursting with fruity, floral hop aroma, full flavored, and well balanced with the malt and the hops.  Here’s their take:

3 Floyd’s flagship beer, Alpha King is a big American pale ale that pours a deep amber with a creamy head. This ale is brewed with Centennial, Cascade, and Warrior hops giving it an intense citrus aroma and a crisp hoppy finish.

The pub is small and packed with locals, and the brewery’s artwork and image screams non-conformity – heavy metal spattered with pop art, overlaid with skulls and crossbones, with undertones of pop culture geekiness (e.g. Homer Simpson, Star Wars, and the projection of Japanese cinema on the bare walls).  It all adds up to a fun, quirky atmosphere for enjoying some finely crafted brews, paired with fresh unconventional food.

Cheers beers!

2011 State Capitols and BeerVentures Tour

We all have a bucket list – places we want to visit, people we want to meet, things we want to do before we kick the bucket. Right? My dad has one item on his bucket list, and it has since become an item on my bucket list too.

In the Beginning

When I was about 9 years old (just a few short decades ago), my dad decided to take on the challenge of visiting and taking a picture of every US state capitol. He has to be the one to take the picture. No one else can take it for him. That’s the rule.

As of two years ago, he had just over 20 state capitols left. Unfortunately, he’s not getting any younger, so being the dutiful daughter, and since I’ve kinda been involved in this whole thing from the start, I volunteered to help him finish his quest.

Since I cannot vacation just on state capitols alone, we started incorporating visits to brewpubs and breweries that are local to the places we visit. During our 2009 (ME and NH) and 2010 (CA, NV, ID, OR, WA) trips we been to Allagash, Redhook, Beer Valley, the Pike Brewing Company, Deschutes, Rogue, and a host of other beer bars and breweries. I’m not sure my dad bargained for that part of the trip, but he certainly had a good time, and now he keeps good beer in the fridge. So I feel gratified that my selfish endeavors have resulted in a win-win for everyone.

The Adventure Begins

Three days ago, we embarked on our 2011 State Capitols and BeerVentures Tour through the midwest, about 2,700 miles total. At the beginning of this trip, we had eleven capitols left, and when its over, we’ll have knocked out six more. In fact, at this point in our trip, we’ve already visited Columbus, OH; Indianapolis, IN; Springfield, IL; and Des Moines, IA. So that gives an idea of how far we’ve already come. Not a lot of time for beerventures…yet. But that’s about to change as we head north into Wisconsin and Michigan. So stay tuned for some exciting beerventure posts, because as of today, we’ll be knocking some of our favorite breweries off the ole beer bucket list!

Cheers beers!

BeerRevue: Smuttynose Wheat Wine

Smuttynose Brewing Company has always been one of my favorite breweries, since our first visit to Portsmouth, New Hampshire 7 or 8 years ago.  What a beautiful little New England port town – lots of shopping and restaurants.   But I want to talk about Smuttynose’s  2010 Wheat Wine Ale.

As a long time Smuttynose fan, I’m ashamed to say that until this year I’d never heard of this 2005 Great American Beer Festival gold medal winner (GABF); but then that’s how Smuttynose seems to fly in this industry – under the radar, doing their New England thing, and making consistently great beer.

Having already tried a number of their specialty beers, including Gravitation, MaiBock, S’muttonator – all instant favorites – this one had me at the name.  Wheat Wine – could be a wheat beer, could be a barleywine, could be malt liquor. Not a clue, but it sounded different, and I’m a sucker for originality.

Wheat Wine Ale is actually a barleywine and wheat ale hybrid.  A style that is, in fact, recognized by the American Beer Association.  The color is a beautiful dark pink amber, and the aroma is deliciously rich. As for taste, this beer captures the full flavor of a barleywine, but the wheat ale seems to cut the thick sweetness of a traditional barleywine.  Considering the Wheat Wine Ale’s alcohol falls around 11-12% ABVs, I found it surprisingly smoother, maybe a little lighter, with lots of caramel and fruitiness.

I personally didn’t notice any stand out qualities from the wheat ale, except its mellowing, and somewhat drying impact on the heavy sweetness of the barleywine, and it brings a bright crispness to the overall quality of the beer; plus it has a clean filtered look and finish of a fine imperial ale.

If you’re a craft beer adventurer, then there’s really nothing to think about; but if you do need further convincing, then here are three very valid reasons to try this beer:  1) It’s a unique hard-to-find style, 2) it’s a GBAF gold medal winner, and 3) it’s brewed by Smuttynose – so seriously, what are you waiting for?

BeerVenture: Frisco Tap and Brew House

January 28, 2011 1 comment

I’ve personally watched Frisco transform from Frisco Burritos to Frisco Cantina and Grille, and now Frisco Tap and Brew House. Whatever you call it, Columbia, Maryland has become home to one of the hippest new beer bars in the Baltimore/DC metropolis.

Located in what looks like a remodeled warehouse on a side street in the heart of Columbia, the decor is something straight out of Santa Fe. Wrap-around booth seating, wall size windows and extended family style tables make this a perfect place to hang out with friends and stay awhile. The enormous bar practically extends the width of the restaurant, as do the 50 beer taps lining the back wall. The star of the bar, however, is the beer list, displayed digitally overhead like two giant airport tele-prompters.

50 beers on tap, 100 bottled beers, and a TV for every game.

You won’t miss your game or fight over channels here. The beer list is surrounded by flat screen TVs, so there’s always something good on the tube, and the menu is still highly recognizable to Frisco’s long-time patrons. That’s right loyal Frisco fans, you won’t have to give up the green chilis, chorizo, nachos, quesadillas, and burritos that we all know and love. The difference is that you can now pair your meal with any of 50 top US and imported craft beers on tap, and 100 bottled selections. Choose from local brews like Flying Dog, DuClaw, Oliver’s, and Clipper City, or maybe you prefer harder to find imported belgian beers. From east coast (RJ Rockers, Dogfish, Troegs) to west coast (Anderson Valley, 21st amendment, Sierra Nevada), up to Canada (Unibroue) and across to Belgium (Scaldis) – Frisco has the craft beer scene covered.  If that’s not enough, house beers will be added soon, as Frisco plans to open their brewing operations well before the year’s end.

The bartenders are welcoming, knowledgeable and stand by to assist, but when in doubt, ask for a sample.  The taps rotate regularly, and the restaurant entertains a packed house on Firkin Thursdays and Pint Nights. Also, don’t forget to ask about their beer club.  The challenge?  Drink and log 100 different beers at Frisco, at which point you’ll chug a “Natty Boh” with the bartenders and earn a coveted Frisco mug.  What better way to begin your next beer journey!

Cheers beers!

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