Welcome back to the Guinea Pig Diaries – where we’re having a Beer, Wine and Cheese Festival! So come drink with me all month long! Every monday we’ll focus on our favorite beers, wines, and cheeses and at the end of the month, we’ll tour a real LIVE BWC Fest plus share our Top Picks!
Today we’re talking BEERS!
Allow me to introduce my partner in crime, my boyfriend Joe, and longtime beer connoisseur. Say hi, Joe! You can tell I didn’t have to ask twice for his help with this project.
A Bit of History:
There are two kinds of beers: ales and lagers.
Ales have been brewed for over 5,000 years! The term ale comes from the German “alt” meaning aged. And ales come from the top fermentation yeast and are typically served at room temperature.
Lagers have only been around for the last several hundred years. They’re made from bottom fermentation yeast, and their creation was actually an accident that no one understood until the invention of the microscope, where the new yeast strain was actually visible. They are typically served at cooler temperatures.
The Four Key Ingredients:
Water, Yeast, Malt (most commonly barley), and Hops.
The water and yeast combine to start the brewing process, and yeast is the ingredient which makes the drink have alcohol in it. Barley is a type of grain that as it sprouts, produces sugar. The yeast feeds on these sugars during the brew process. And hops are climbing vines that produce flowers or “cones”. Hops is what gives the beer its bitterness and its aroma. Mmmm!
Time to Start the Tasting!
Just like with wines, when doing a tasting, you’ll want to start with your lightest beers and move to the darker ones. This allows your palette a clean transition.
Hefe-weizens are usually light colored beers. The name translates from “Hefe” meaning unfiltered or with yeast and “weizen” meaning white beer, for its light color.
Franziskaner Weissbier – Light yellow in color, bubbly, and a little cloudy. This is a smooth, malleable beer that is well received on its own or with the smorgasbord of summer snacks one finds at a barbecue. We tried it with lightly salted pistachios and the combo was heavenly. A little sweet, fizzy, and crisp!
El Hefe Bavarian Style Hefeweizen – From local Pearl Street Brewery, a great starter beer or transition beer, the Hefe is a light ale packed with barley and wheat and notes of banana and clove. It’s most commonly served with a lemon slice for complimentary flavor. Now, the Hefe can get a rep as the “girly beer,” but don’t underestimate this Bavarian style wheat beer. It’s crisp, packs a punch, and I love the citrus notes!
Heineken Premium Light – Brewed using a horizontal fermentation process, this lager has a wheat color, and licoricy aftertaste. Overall it is smooth and another great pick for mixing with meals because its light and mellow.
Redd’s Apple Ale – Ok, no lies. This girl loves a good cider, but Redd’s is marketed differently. Though it’s made with apple, Redd’s is a true ale, and not a cider. It’s made by MillerCoors and meant to rival such carbonated faves as Mike’s Hard and Twisted Tea. If you look on Beer Advocate’s rating site, this one did NOT do well. For avid beer fans, such as my honey, I wouldn’t expect a high ranking for this fruity, fizzy drink. But I’m a fan! It’s crisp, a little tart, and only starts out fizzy. The first few gulps are bubbly indeed, but it mellows right away. This was again, a negative on Beer Advocate, but just going off of taste and fully noting that I am desperately seeking summer – I would totally grab a case of Redd’s and hit the beach with my besties!
Mr. Beer – Ever wanted to try making your own beer? Now you can! Even without a brewery in your backyard. I bought my honey the Mr. Beer, Beer Making Kit and it’s not half bad! With a recipe and care instructions, Joe bottled 8 liters of homemade beer. Classified as a pale ale, this batch was a light medium amber color and very fizzy. To smell, it’s quite sweet and a little syrupy to taste, but still fresh. Upon further inspection, it smells like brown sugar. Quite enjoyable indeed, and it gave my honey a new appreciation for those who work daily in the brew making business.
Killian’s Irish Red – With a dark, rich amber color, this beer is smooth, full, and a bit darker than the previous ones. It’s sweet to smell, and one that I didn’t mind swirling around my mouth to enjoy. I think this beer would go well with red meats, hard cheeses, and peppery foods.
India Pale Ale:
Described as the “star of the hop world”, IPA’s first came about while the British were colonizing India. Originally, all the beer they sent down was spoiled by the time it got to the soldiers, so they added in more hops and more alcohol – both of which have preservative qualities – and voila! The IPA was born!
Smuttynose IPA – From the Smuttynose Brewing Co., this IPA is known for its sedimentary gold color. I thought it had a bit of a sour smell, but that didn’t translate in the taste. It definitely lingers on the tongue with what I described as a funky, but friendly, aftertaste.
Beer Advocate website defines the Double IPA as this: “Take an India Pale Ale and feed it steroids, ergo the term Double IPA. Although open to the same interpretation as its sister styles, you should expect something robust, malty, alcoholic and with a hop profile that might rip your tongue out.”
Hopslam – From the Bells Brewing Co., Hopslam is befitting its name from its inclusion of six different hop styles. Add in some grapefruit and floral notes, a generous malt bill, and a dollop of honey = Hopslam. The label itself proclaims “A biting, bitter, tongue bruiser of an ale. With a name like Hopslam, what did you expect?” This beer will wake you up!
Porters are the first beer in the world to receive national distribution. The two most likely places the porter got its name from are the “train porters” who sold the beer along the rails or from its sea passage to other “port towns.” The darkness and cloudiness of port beers come from the early, albeit inconsistent, brewing process of the 1700’s, and helped mask any flavor imperfections.
Samuel Adams Maple Pecan Porter – Joe and I actually toured the Sam Adams Brewery in Boston, MA and had a great time! It turned both of us into fans – both for the beer’s taste and because the company gives back quite a bit of funds into local history preservation!
The Maple Pecan Porter is so dark I could barely see through the glass! The maple syrup and pecans give this beer a nutty flavor, but there’s a definite coffee taste as well. I would describe this slightly bitter, full-bodied porter as the perfect beverage for a cozy night in.
Those are the beers I was drinking, how about you? Do you have a favorite kind or brand of beer? What are you wanting to try next? Have you ever toured a brewery before? Joe and I always try to hit up at least one winery or brewery on vacation; they’re pretty fun!
If you’ve tried any of these beers, which is your fave?
Until next week, CHEERS!
Hello, hello everyone! I hope you’re all well rested from last month’s Sleep Study, because this month is all about fabulously savory treats!
It’s a new month, so that means a new challenge on the Guinea Pig Diaries! Starting next week, we’re kicking off:
Next Week: Top Picks in Beer
Followed by: Top Picks in Wine
With a Side Order of: Top Cheeses
And the Grand Finale Tour of: A Real Local Beer, Wine and Cheese Festival!
I’m currently researching at the moment, but will be sharing my favorite selections soon!
What are your favorite beers, wines, and cheeses? Got any I should seek out?
See you all soon!
Welcome to another edition of Guilty Pleasures Friday! Indulge yourself, get cozy, here all gluttony reigns! I won’t tell on you.
For the month of October, I’m focusing on all things wicked. So today’s guilty pleasures are my top 10 favorite things about fall.
- The Desire to Spend Copious Amounts of Money on Pumpkins I’ve never met a pumpkin I didn’t like. Big ones, baby ones, spotted ones, warty ones, pumpkins with curlicue stems! They are a fall tradition and welcomed inside and out. Sometimes, I name them, a bizarre habit to be sure, but one I refuse to give up.
- The Urge After Purchasing Pumpkins to Consume Them in Multiple Forms Pumpkin Bars. Glorious pumpkin bars, the birthday treat of choice for this redhead. Then there’s pumpkin spice lattes and roasted pumpkin seeds, and I’m also a fan of their cousin, the Butternut Squash.
- The Decking Out of Houses: From Home Sweet Home to Enter At Your Own Risk I love seeing the houses that put gravestones in their yard, stick bones out of their lawn, and make dummies out of old clothes. Nothing is as fun as giving yourself a little chill walking up to your own front door.
- The Expectation of Shenanigans and the Increase in Security That Follows Late night runs through a corn field telling ghost stories with friends! Getting kicked out of Paradise Road! Scaring unsuspecting strangers with motion sensing Halloween décor and creating really good alibis when the police pull your car over and ask what you’re doing out so late.
- Apple Picking: Not Scary, but Good Old Fashioned Recreational Fun Grab a basket and pick your very own tangy sweet apples. Stock up the pantry with a local orchard’s cider, apple crisp, and handmade caramel drizzle. Mmmm
- Tea Drinking Season: Not Just For School Marms Anymore Every day is a tea drinking day in the fall. Green Tea in the morning, pomegranate oolong in the afternoon, peppermint tea at night. This charming habit is made even more fun with a big, funky mug collection. My favorite coffee shop in town is a teeny tiny shop that has the biggest selection of actual dried tea leaves, they brew you a whole cozy pot to yourself and let you pick your tea cup!
- The Bizarre Fashions That Become Acceptable Bring out your flannel, put on some gloves, and grab your flip flops! What’s that you say? One of those things is not like the other? Doesn’t matter in autumn, the weather changes so fast, you may as well keep your dresser stocked: Long sleeve shirts, rainboots, tank tops, corduroys, wool socks, ear muffs and a bathing suit.
- The Hibernation of the Human Race Once the weather gets a little chillier, suddenly people start to disappear into their houses, the windows get boarded up, and you don’t seen your neighbor bring the trash out for weeks. You question whether you should call the police and have her checked on, but there’s smoke coming from the chimney and a faint flicker of blue TV light every Thursday at 7pm. Give her another week…
- The Beer, Brats, and Polka Bands Autumn brings Oktoberfest to my town and that means brats with sauerkraut, beer and drinking gloves, and lots of live music and parades. The big parade is the Maple Leaf Parade and there’s one at night too called the Torch Light Parade. I went to that for the first time this year and it was really fun. All the marching bands are decked out with glowsticks, even on their instruments. And, you can drink on the sidewalk of the parade route. *Weeeeeeeee!*
- The Changing of the Colors The best part about fall is the colors. And living in Bluff Country, we certainly get to enjoy a multitude. There’s nothing quite like sitting on the edge of the bluff overlooking the adjacent forest, marsh and city below, ablaze in fall colors. Joe and I went hiking this weekend and here’s some shots I took along the way!
What are your favorite things about fall?