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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Sidekick Two Brothers

This American Pale Ale was more complex than it looked. It was a great brew to enjoy and savor a bit. Not a beer to chug, but not a sipper. You can get what you want from it.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This clear-yellow brew had a frothy white head. It left thick lacing on the glass as I drank it down. I could smell earthy hops over the food and bar smells.

Taste: It was herbal. I tasted a spice...was it coriander? The bitterness sticks on the tongue. It stood up to the greasy, deep dish, pepperoni pizza.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Star Chicken Shotgun (Greenbush)

It's been a long while since I've had a Greenbush beer. We used to make that long drive out to Sawyer, Michigan when they first opened. But with the length of the drive and a busy life, it's hard to get out there. I was surprised when I saw them on tap at a local chain restaurant bar. I was even more surprised when it wasn't one of the flagship brews I had tried before. I ordered a 10 oz pour of this and wish I had time for another.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This cloudy straw/orange American IPA had a solid white head. It had a grapefruit and musky aroma.

Taste: This tasted like grapefruit juice. Rich, creamy grapefruit juice. Its tropical flavors were much welcomed on this colder-than-needed spring day. The creaminess balanced out the hop bitterness.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Deliciously Detailed Miniature Food Art

Last week deviantART reshared a post from last fall. It's worth looking at every single one of these pictures. They are hand-crafted miniature sculptures of desserts, fruits, finger foods, and holiday dinners. When I say miniature, I mean they can fit on the tip of your finger with room to spare. You can see every crumb, every seed, the runny sauces, and in some cases the sheen of grease. It's not just the food. The tables, crates, and platters were carefully crafted too. If you didn't have an object of comparison for these photos, you'd think they were fresh and ready to eat.

To give the artists their due, you'll have to go to the link to see what I'm talking about.

Unbelievable Realistic Miniature Food Sculptures (Oct 23, 2014)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Beer Worth Writing Home About: Infused Aubade

I'd had Hunter's Aubade in the past. It's a complex and clean German Wheat. I've even had it infused with strawberries and ginger at Porter's Perfect Pint, which was refreshing and decadent. When I found out they were serving Aubade infused with lemon, orange, and mint at the Blue Chip brew fest in Michigan City, Indiana, I felt like I was missing out! I was told it would come back two more times. I was there and ready for the first taproom release of this brew. I was expecting refreshing citrus to go well with the existing lemon flavors of the German Wheat. I wasn't sure how the mint would factor in, but I thought it would be a hint. I trusted that Hunter's would make it work, and boy did they!

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This cloudy yellow brew had a silky white head. I could smell the mint from where it sat on the bar. It was a sweet mint smell.

Taste: It was refreshing, bright, and crisp. For me, the mint was not a hint in the background. It was full-force mint, and it worked! Mint beer can be a success if done right. It had a ripened citrus sweetness to go along with the malt. The acid from the citrus and minty flavors left this creamy and sweet beer clean on the palate. It was like a tropical shandy; though, it was still substantial enough for me to know this was a beer, not a fruity cocktail. This was my experience. I've heard that some only tasted one of the three factors. Some couldn't smell or taste the mint at all! For you Indiana locals, it's worth a try. I think it's still on tap today, but it was running out fast. Keep your eyes open for the second release this summer.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Food Education: Feeds, News & Other Resources

Between restaurants, recipes, and festivals, I'm a big fan of food. It can be nourishing, fun to prepare, and beautiful to look at. I learned more about how food grows when I started my garden. I saw first hand how policy and regulation impacts food production when I started learning more about farming. I found out more about the science behind cooking when I gained access to a wider variety of foods and began experimenting in the kitchen. If you are as interested in food and the factors affecting our food industry today, you should add some of these resources to your newsfeed. Share some of your favorites in the post comments.

Food Blogs & Feeds

Media Food Columns

General Information

  • Civil Eats - Blog providing information about food policy, eating culture, environmental issues, and food justice.
  • Slow Food USA - Official blog of Slow Food USA listing events and tips for following Slow Food practices.
  • Treehugger - Resource for tips, news, and products that support a Slow Food lifestyle.
  • Local Harvest - Map showing organic resources in your community (includes, CSAs, Farm Stores, Markets, and more).
  • Eat Wild - Map and listing of sources for grass-fed meat, eggs, and dairy products.

Regulation & Policy Resources

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Celebrating Earth Day 2014

It's the 44th anniversary of Earth Day. While there are many areas for improvement and education, we are more aware of our environmental impact and what we can do about it. In school we were taught to reduce, reuse, and recycle. We were taught to turn off our lights and the water tap when not in use. We were taught little steps that reduce our impact. Today is a reminder to start a compost bin or make a trip to the recycling center. There are a million more little things we can do to help preserve our land, keep our skies blue, and keep our water swimmable. You can also get involved in the fights to save the Florida waterways with groups like the Florida Water Coalition and get your hands dirty cleaning up the beach.

Earth Day started in 1970 as a reaction to the rampant air and water pollution. It was a political movement to draw attention to the impact this was having on the earth and on the population. According to Earth Day Network, "The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts."

Since 1970, the idea has caught on internationally. Not only does the White House issue a Presidential Proclamation, the United Nations posted about this year's Green Cities Earth Day theme (here). The astronauts on the International Space Station even released a special Earth Day message as the "luckiest people off the earth."

With the weather warming up, it's time to get out there and enjoy the land. Get out there and hike, bike, or kayak. At least, on this work/school night, take a walk around the block or to the park. Don't forget to bring a bag and pick up any garbage you find along the way.

If you are looking for a good everyday resource for all of those little things you can do, my favorite site for tips, ideas, and innovations is Tree Hugger.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Get Dirty: Speedy Veg to Start Your Garden

Easter is here and we are celebrating spring. With a lag in warmer weather in much of the nation, NPR released an article about veg to grow that you can enjoy sooner rather than later. It's a great day to go get your hands dirty!

On Your Mark, Get Set, Grow: A Guide To Speedy Vegetables:

Imperial Compass (Southern Tier)

Another gorgeous beer from the notes. I bought this bottle last year, but didn't get a chance to crack it open until yesterday. It was a day just leading up to a wonderful spring weekend. A whole chicken was just thrown on the grill after a nice long walk. Ah....spring. You really appreciate it after that crazy winter weather that has clung on through April!

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This yellow beer was clear at first pour (before the yeasty bits were mixed in). It was effervescent with a white, bubbly froth for head. The foam clung to the glass. It smelled like grapefruit pith with a floral aroma that I could smell over the grill.

Taste: It was creamy, but the citrus acidity cut through it. It had a crisp lemony flavor, and the cloudy yeasty pour brought out more of a grapefruit bitterness. It was a great refreshing drink for spring. It would be a great summer brew.

From the bottle:
As a sort of compass, we use the six pointed brewer's star to help navigate uncharted brews. The cardinal points of water, malt, grain, yeast, hops and a brewer make the baseline. From there anything goes. Sometimes the journey is as important as the destination. 

You'll notice a slight bitterness in Compass derived from our use of rose hips accentuated by the high effervescence. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Belgian Coast (Green Flash & St.Feuillien)

Maybe this month should be mouth-watering beer month. I'm running through all of my notes and the ones with these amazing pictures seem to stand out to me. I have quite a bit of note backlog! I think I'll start with the prettiest ones!

This collaboration IPA was released late last October. This is the third collaboration between the San Diego and Belgian breweries.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This gold brew had a white head that settled to a frothy layer. It smelled like woody hops and sugar.

Taste: It was resinous and orangey. The orange was both pith and an under-ripe fruity flavor. That bit of sour fruit went surprisingly well with the woodiness.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Rye Stout (Bell's)

Dipping into the notes archives, I tried this stout in February. It had been a while since I had a Bell's brew. They are generally hit or miss for me. When I saw it on the menu, I went for it. When they brought it over with such a thick luxurious head, I knew it would be a nice treat while I waited for my friend to arrive.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: It had just a creamy, creamy, creamy off-white head. It was dense and silky. It was a black brew with strong rye spice aromas.

Taste: It was smoky, it was creamy, and it was spicy. It fit the style to a tee. There was no question about the rye, but it wasn't overpowering. It was rich and delicious. It would have went well with a steak.

From the Bell's site:
Rye Stout presents the earthy flavor of rye in a stout package. Roasted malts are definitely present, but the dark chocolate aspect is favored over coffee notes. Lighter than several in the Bell’s stout portfolio, Rye Stout remains a full-bodied beer with 6.5% ABV.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Paardebloem (New Belgium & Red Rock)

This is a great brew from New Belgium's Lips of Faith series to enjoy during this beautiful spring weather. It's probably best enjoyed on the patio.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This straw-colored brew was incredibly effervescent. It had a white foamy head. It had a floral aroma.

Taste: It was peachy with a floral hop flavor. It was creamy but the bubbles made it light on the tongue. It was a honey-nectar flavor, then a woody dryness.

From the NB site:
This is an ale brewed with peach juice grains of paradise and dandelions greens blended with wood aged beer. Using dandelion greens to bitter a Belgian-style ale blossomed from our brewers collaborating with Red Rock Brewing. These being our sixth interpretation together since 2008, expect a wonderfully complex ale fermented with wild Belgian yeast and blended with just a touch of wood-aged beer. Bitterness imparted from dandelion greens and grains of paradise will have you blowing wishes for sips.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Belgian Style Yeti (Great Divide)

I've written notes about three other styles of this Great Divide Imperial Stout, the illusive Yeti. I had the first of this two-bottle purchase in 2011 on the last day of the year. It was a nice winter brew, great to ring in the new year. I saved this bottle for a rainy (or snowy) day. As the temps have dipped down this odd and snowy April, I cracked open the bottle one evening and hibernated in the basement with Mr. K.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This black brew had a creamy, coffee-colored head. It smelled like roasted malt with a sugary, caramel-sweet aroma.

Taste: It was smooth and syrupy. It was thick and creamy with the yeasty pour. It had a medium roast flavor. I tasted a deep spice that I couldn't quite place, was it cardamom? I may never know, this brew is no longer listed on the Great Divide website!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Wheel Incident (Hunter's Brewing)

This American Pale Ale was gone as quickly as it came. It was a true pale, not an IPA parading as a pale. It had a nice deep and mellow bitterness to it that would make me order it again.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This orange-gold brew had an off-white bubbly head.

Taste: It was juicy. I can't explain it. It wasn't fruity, but it was a mouth-watering juiciness. It was malty-sweet. It had a floral hop flavor. It was well balanced. It had a deep, lingering bitterness, but it was a light and mellow bitterness. It was a great, earthy floral pale ale.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Distant Thunder (Hunter's)

This brew was a good one to end the cooler weather with last March. It was good enough to take a growler home.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This black brew had a tan ring for head. The ring stuck around. It smelled like bitter chocolate.

Taste: It had that rye spice. It was rich, roasted, and tasted like bitter chocolate. It was creamier than your standard porter. It tasted like spiced chocolate.

Unite (Hunter's)

This beer was brewed as part of the Pink Boots Society International Women's Collaboration Brew Day. All across the world, women were brewing pale ales called Unite. They all had to follow the same basic parameters, but could do whatever they wanted to outside of that to make it their own.

From the Pink Boots Society web page:
Unite Pale Ale Collaboration Brew Recipe
4% pale session beer with a universally available hop
EBC: 10
IBU: 25
ABV: 4%
Late hop: Cascade (US/UK/NZ/German)

I would have liked to try some other versions. Overall this was a great light brew to welcome spring.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This light-gold brew had a creamy white head. I couldn't place the aroma. It was very light. I want to say floral, but I was really stretching.

Taste: It has a mellow bitter that lingers. It was really light bodied. The mellow hoppy flavors made me want to savor this brew.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

My Dangerous New Craving: Timbrook Kitchens

Timbrook Kitchens
17 Ridge Rd. | Munster, IN | Cash Only (Credit Cards Soon) | Closed Mondays

While working on a crossword puzzle in a local town newsletter, I learned a new word. That word was Timbrook. Just below the puzzle was an ad for a spot just down the road called Timbrook Kitchens. I looked at their website, and one look at their menu made me want to head out right away.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Stalin's Dark Side (Evil Czech)

At the 2nd Annual Stalin Release Feast, I had the opportunity to try the 2013 and 2014 releases of Evil Czech's Stalin's Dark Side. It was served with a decadent chocolate cheesecake that had some Stalin mixed in. Having the 2oz pour of 2013 next to the snifter of 2014 you can really taste the differences.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: They were both nearly black with a chocolate-colored head. The 2013 smelled like chocolate. The 2014 smelled boozier. For some reason I was getting an almond extract aroma from the 2014. More as it warmed. It was crazy.

Taste: The 2013 was boozy and tasted like chocolate syrup (in a good way). The 2014 tasted like chocolate cake and malt balls. Again...crazy. Not sure what was going on here. I normally don't get all of these crazy flavors. The 2014 also tasted kind of smoky to me, but it didn't smell smoky at all. It was a dryness to it probably from the barrel aging. The 2013 did well in the year aging, smoothed out quite a bit as expected.

From the Evil Czech site:
Released once a year, on the anniversary of Josef Stalin’s death (March 5). Stalin wasn’t even a true Russian! Dark as Stalin’s mind, this is a true Russian Imperial Stout, aged for three months in whiskey barrels straight from Journeyman’s Distillery in Three Oaks, Michigan. This beer features a sweet smelling nose with roasted malt, dark chocolate, and a hint of fruit. The taste will hit you like the best chocolate chip cookie you’ve ever had…one with a bourbon barrel taste!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

John The One Eyed (Evil Czech)

This Belgian dubbel was served along side the main course at Evil Czech's Second Annual Stalin's Dark Side Release Feast.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This dark amber brew had a barely off-white bubbly head that settled into a thick bubble ring. It smelled like candied sugar and fruity yeast.

Taste: The bready and dark fruity yeast flavors came though. It was sugary. It had a lighter consistency than I was expecting.

From the Evil Czech site:
Just like his namesake, John is a true warrior who has had his sweetness tempered out by a walk through fire. John is brewed with raisins, which turns his amber color into more of a thousand yard stare, while he hits you in the nose with the scent of banana and brandy. Even John’s sugar hints are hardcore, complimented with Belgian yeasts.

**After reading their description, I wonder if some of that yeasty fruit was the raisins it was brewed with.

Rooster (Evil Czech)

This brown ale was paired with a hearty stew for course two of the Evil Czech's Second Annual Stalin's Dark Side Release Feast. It was a perfect pairing in my opinion.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This dark brown brew had a creamy off-white head. It had a strong biscuit and nutty smell to it. It smelled a little smoky to me, but I didn't get a great whiff before my aromatic and delicious stew arrived.

Taste: This was dry, biscuity and nutty. It wasn't as sweet as some browns, but had enough malty sweetness to balance the spicy stew.

From the Evil Czech site:
Named after the lead bison bull at Rooster Hill Farm, Rooster shows off a bold dark brown color with a creamy, persistent head. Rooster packs everything you expect in a nut brown ale and more, almost resembling its traditional British cousin, thanks to the use of Maris Otter malt. You will find smooth taste with a prominent presence of toffee and nuts, a satisfying finish, and just a hint of sweetness. A brown ale that is fulfilling without being filling.

Friday, April 4, 2014

General George Patton (Evil Czech)

This was the first pairing at Evil Czech's Second Annual Stalin's Dark Side Release Feast last month. This pilsner was paired with pierogi and caraway sauerkraut.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This straw-colored brew had a white head that settled to a ring that stuck around. It smelled grainy.

Taste: It had a clean grain flavor you get with a traditional German pils. It was substantial for a pils. It had a grassiness that went well with the food it was paired with. It had a musky fruit flavor as it warms, which was odd for a pils.

I could not find the description for this brew on their website. They did note during the dinner that this one was named after the general that liberated Pilsen during WWII.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Evil Czech's 2nd Annual Stalin's Dark Side Release Feast

Evil Czech
530 S. Ohio St. | Culver, Indiana

Early, last month I attended Evil Czech's Second Annual Stalin's Dark Side Release Feast. While this post is a little delayed, I think it will be a great reference for next year. 

Evil Czech releases this beer to commemorate the death of Joseph Stalin (March 5, 1953). It's a Russian Imperial Stout aged in Journeyman Whiskey barrels for three months. I bought tickets not being sure what to expect. I'd had their beers here and there and tried some sips at brew fests, but I'd never been to their pub. I'd heard great things about the beer, food, and atmosphere. I was looking forward to checking it out. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Creative Outlets: Painting & Booze

In the past couple of years, the booze and paint night scene has exploded. It's a night of painting at a studio or local bar. An artist guides you through painting a picture while you imbibe a multitude of beverages from the bar, or in the case of the studio, the bottles you brought. 

When I first moved to the Chicago area, I searched for one, but couldn't find an event like that anywhere. Fast forward a few years and every LivingSocial, Groupon, or Amazon Local e-mail includes at least one deal for a paint night. Some are national and some are local. There is Colors & Bottles, Vino van Gogh, Paint Nite, Wet Paint Chicago, VIP, Sip & Splash, and Both Sides, just to name a few. They have them in well-known area bars with full service or in loft studios with a built-in bar for your BYOB selections. I even attended one at the Green Door Tavern that was held in the former Speakeasy downstairs (and had this delicious IPA).

These are the five points I consider for my social painting experience.