I Heart Beer

Harvest Time Beer: A meal in a glass

Like many others, I proudly declare fall to be my favorite season.

Oh yes, I love the season of football (only high school and college though, thanks!), the opportunity to wear sweaters, boots and tights, and hello, Halloween?

But the absolutely best part of the fall? Harvest themed beers. Oh yes, they are on tap already and I have three wonderful doozies to share with you! And now, in no particular order:

Number one: Seirra Nevada Life and Limb

This is a “small beer” (means it is the second brew from a batch of hops/barley) with huge flavor! The flavor profile includes burn toast, coffee, and maple syrup. A perfect brew to curl up with and dream of breakfast in the morning. Or hell, just drink this for breakfast! Be warned however, at 10.2% abv this “breakfast in a glass” might leave you loitering around the house for a while!

Number Two: Great Divide Smoke Baltic Porter

“beef jerky in a glass” proclaimed Vinnie, one of my favorite bartenders. This beer does live up to it’s proclamation of being “smoked” but I didn’t really get the jerky bit. I think Vin was just jerking my chain! This porter does have a slightly salty after taste, but I loved it. As Christine said, it’s a beer you have to chew, and at only 6.2% abv you could chew a few over a nice evening with friends.

Number Three: Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale

From the website: [This] pumpkin ale is the mother of all pumpkin ales. It is heartier, spicier, and more “caramelly” and “pumpkiny” than its faint brethren! We have added lots of pumpkin along with Cinnamon, Nutmeg and a touch of cardamom and clove giving this beer a spicy, full-bodied flavor. This truly is an Imperial Pumpkin Ale.

Weyerbacher holds my heart when it comes to pumpkin ales (although, I do enjoy a good Dogfish Head Pumpkin too, don’t get me wrong) but I always proclaim this beer to be “Big Red in a glass.” I don’t taste the pumpkin, so much as the spice, but I love every drop of this 8.0% abv ale, every time.  

So there you have it ladies and gents. My top three for the fall. Start enjoying them now, because they will be gone in a flash!

Love to all,
~the “yes, I rank my favorite seasons based on beer” gal, Jess

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I Heart Homebrew

It’s been a while since I’ve touted about the wonders of beer, but I’m kind of a big fan. I even participated in Stubbie’s 100 Beers in a Year challenge in 2009-2010. If you wondered why that fizzled out, I did get 60 in, but I just live too far way from the bar [just under an hour] to safely be successful at that challenge. Safety first, my friends.

The “failed” challenge was not a loss by any means, however. Not only did I have a blast blogging about my 60 different brewed adventures, I rekindled a friendship with a college buddy, Slim. After Slim stumbled across my blog on Facebook, we started chatting about styles of beer, beer advocate forums and the fact that Slim has started dabbling in homebrewing. Yeah, he’s pretty much a badass, but I already knew that from our undergrad years.

However, when he offered to ship me some of his brewing samples from Austin, Tx where he currently resides, I pretty much jumped for joy. Would I like to try his homebrew? I would LOVE to.

Slim sent me 2 different beers to try: “Adam” or Adambier is a German style, high abv (alcohol by volume), dark, sour beer which Slim informed me he had been aging for two years.  The “IS” meanwhile is a year old Imperial Stout. 

I’m a total sucker for a sour beer (hello, Duchess is still my all time fave!) so we started with Adam. psst, by “we” I mean Christine, Ross and myself. They are my two favorite beer snobs, so it was only fitting we shared in the wealth of homebrew.

Honestly, my big girl words are failing me to describe how wonderful this beer was. I wish I could just loan you my taste buds and neurons so you could experience the wonderful crisp, sour combo of this beer. While Adambier is a dark beer, and according to the history, is traditionally hopped more heavily than other sour beers, I found this to be light and bright. Just perfect. My only complaint? That I only had one bottle and had to share it! ok, so I chose to share it, whatevs.
Next up was the Imperial.  This IS was bursting to get out of the bottle…literally.

Glug, glug, glug….but please don’t chug.

No, you certainly would not want to chug this thick, creamy and slightly sweet stout. This would be the perfect “dessert” in my world and I enjoyed savoring the rich mouth feel as much as any chocolate ganache. 

“Adam” may have came out as my number main squeeze of the evening, but I would have loved to have more of the imperial on hand too. Slim, my wonderful friend, please don’t stop brewing. You have a delicious talent and if you need me to try any of your next batch….well, you know what to do. Thank you again for sharing and letting me blather about the experience online.

Love to all,
~the, “it really pays to have talented, beer loving friends” gal, Jess

PS. Oh, and that whole perfect dessert idea? Technically both of the homebrew samplings were dessert, since Christine kindly whipped up a tasty dinner of some pesto gnocchi, asparagus and some yummy garlic bread from Fresh Market.

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Dog Days of Summer

Happy Friday.

That is all.

Love to all,
~the too hot to write anything more gal, Jess

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The Parental Units Take on Stubbies

So, my undying love for Stubbies is well know by any and all of my friends, family members and even strangers I chat with in the grocery store. And I’d been begging my Mom and Dad to come glory in the wonders of 400+ beers and amazing German Food for quite some time. Mom was game, naturally…she’s usually adventurous if it makes me happy but, Dad. Well, Dad was another story.

See, Dad has been getting pressure not only from me to visit Stubbies, but also Ryan, one of his now graduated students (Dad is a college professor), who I met at Stubbies only to learn we had a very close “mutual friend” if you will.  But Dad is very brand loyal when it comes to beer: He’s a Budweiser man through and through and it’s hard to get him to budge. He usually sips my beer and then makes some rude comment (he thinks it’s funny, but hey, I’m a beer snob….don’t knock my beverage literally or figuratively, thank you very much!)

But finally after 6 months of nagging coercing he finally caved…that and I offered to pick up the tab.

So off we trucked to downtown Gville and after settling into one of my favorite hightops (not the one in the window, aka the hell table!) we ordered round one of the night.

Honestly, I don’t remember what my first draft was (I’m about a month behind on this post!): It was something off the draft board, maybe something by Collins? Anyways, it was “odd” according to Max, but very smokey. I LOVED it…. and I do recall it went down quickly!
[I will check my list next time I’m in and update you! ]

EDITED TO ADD: I was right: Fort Collin’s Scotch Ale

My 2nd brew was a copy of my Mom’s first. She wanted (per my suggestion) the Golden Pheasant, but they were out, so Max brought her his next best guess. We both loved this lovely, crispy yet creamy Burgerbrau Pil. Yum.

Dinner was a lovely sausage platter served up with the cold cucumber salad (so refreshing!) and potato pancakes with dilled mayo of course! Plus ‘kraut and rye bread. I actually ended up eating everything but the sausage. Shrugs. The “I could never go vegetarian because I love sausage” girl didn’t finish her sausage? What is wrong with me!?!

Dessert was a beautiful friend: dear old St. Bernardus knocked my socks off with his Abt 12, even if it was in the bottle (this is one of Stubbies regulars on draft-they just have a bunch of summer seasonal stuff right now.)
So, what was Mom and Dad’s thoughts? Mom loved it and can’t wait to go back! [Side note: I should have taken a picture of her Jaeger Schnitzel-it was devine!] Dad is Dad and nursed a Genesse Cream Ale all night. Le sigh. I told him just to tell Max what he likes (Amberbock) and they would get him something similar, but no…..he drank Genny Cream Ale. Oh well, at least he was a cheap night out, Genny Cream Ale and PBR are the cheapest beers at Stubbies- $2.50!
You just can’t teach an old dog to drink new beer I guess. 
Love to all,
~the glad at least 1/2 of my parent’s like my favorite hangout, Jess
Categories: I Heart Beer, Stubbies' 100 Beers in a Year Challenge | Leave a comment

Stubbies 2 for 1!

Hi loves,

If any of you know anything about craft and good import beers (and I know some of you do, otherwise why would you keep reading my blog, that has been totally taken over by BEER!) you also know that they NEVER come 2 for 1. But I figured since I was 2 Stubbies posts behind, why not make this one a double header! (ummmm, I love head……….on beer you gutter brains!)

Night one:
Or So Close I Can Taste It

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot- so apparently I’m not a barleywine fan. Or at least I wasn’t of this variation-too hoppy and “chewy” for my taste. I’d never had a barleywine before, and didn’t know that was what I was ordering. This will teach me to chose something on the draft list just because I liked the name. (well and I typically like SN beers, but hey you can’t win em all, right?) Anyways, I drank about 1/2 of this and then sat, playing with my glass, trying to suck it up and just suck it down. Luckily Jay noticed my “distress” and swooped in with a rescue brown ale:

Oh my goodness, what a “web-redemption” worthy brown ale! (Tosh.0 anyone? Anyone?) The boys at Stubbies got me once again. What can I say? I think I am officially a “brown ale, gal” Anyways, this Dutch Brown Ale by Tilburg was smooth and malty, such a refreshing change after Bigfoot. Also, I love the label:

In case you can’t tell that is a bird eating a man, who is shitting out a bird. Wonderfully sick.

My last beer was a rare treat:

The Rare Vos the be exact. I enjoyed this Amber Ale by Brewery Ommegang (Cooperstown, NY), for it’s lovely lace-y head, and sweet malty flavors that mask prevent any linger hoppiness (perfect in my book!)

What a great night….and it left me 2 shy from the looming number 50!

Night Two:
Or Halfway There, Baby!

I started off this “big night” with a beer I had been circling (literally!) for a few weeks on my list:

My good friend St. Bernadus’ Prior 8 is a Begilum Dubbel packed with cherry aromas. Oh so worth the wait. I loved this beer and KNEW it was going to be a good night. #49-check!

#50 was another beer I had been considering for a while, and had actually ordered the other night, only to be redirected to a new Brown Ale arrival by the charming Mike. (ah, Mike!)

The Corsendonk Brown Ale was a real treat. I’m sure you are all sick of hearing me gush over yet another brown ale, but seriously I’ve found my soulmate (although I will still claim Dutchess as my forever lover). I loved the balance of sweet maltiness with a touch a peppery spice and maybe ginger? So good, soooo worthy of being my Number Fifty! Whoot, whoot!

Vinnie brought me #51 after a little review of the draft list (I love when I can be like, “nope, had that…loved that, did that one too!) we settled on this dark boy:

Rouge’s Chocolate Stout. I have really learned to enjoy darker beers (think Stouts and Porters) this year, so this was another winner in my book. I think I scrawled on my list “Chocolate milk that bites back” yep, it was getting to THAT point in the evening!

So of course I NEEDED a pretzel (or as I have confessed on many occasions, a vehicle for mustard)

Delicious mission accomplished!

Emboldened by my pretzel I decided to round out the night with a cider on the draft board, and finish up with #52!

Kelly’s Raspberry Cider was sweet, dry and went down quickly. Nuff said.

Wow, that was a LONG post, but then again number 50 has been a LONG time coming! Now I have just under 3 months to finish the remaining 48 beers on my list….stay tuned!

Love to all,
~the beer laden gal, Jess

PS. Here is a fun picture Ross snapped one night. I love how serious I am about beer!

Categories: I Heart Beer, Stubbies' 100 Beers in a Year Challenge | Leave a comment

2 Awesome Gifts

Happy Friday, Ya’ll!

So, my Mummy surprised me at work today. She said that she was going to be at the County Office (right by my school) and wanted to drop some “supplies” off with me for my classroom. And then she waltzed in with this lovely little surprise:

A celebratory “margarita” for a pretty great first year teaching, and more importantly- celebrating that I have been rehired to teach science to the little darlings at “your friendly high school” again next year! Whoot.

And then things got even better when I got home and there was a package from my lovely “pen pal” containing this treat:

My soul sister was on a road trip in Austin, Texas and saw this nifty notepad and KNEW I couldn’t live without it. She was totally right obviously….and of course I had to test it out with a little happy hour of my own.

While ABC Liquors doesn’t always have the most spectacular of beer selections, the do a nice little “make your own 6 pack” dealio that I enjoy. Both of the beers I so expertly analyzed and “rated” with the aid of my handy little notepad


After- I must be honest though: this was a practice round, I love me some Wild Blue, it’s sweet and strong….kind like me. teehehe. 🙂 Well, and really, who doesn’t love a 8% Blueberry Lager?

Next up was a new one:

Brooklyn Brown Ale by the Brooklyn Brewing Company, 5.8%. This is not the standard Brown Ale, and I’m not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing. Brown Ales are typically malty and smooth. This was hoppy, with notes of bitter chocolate. Tasty, but wouldn’t satisfy a true brown craving.

Love to all,
~the really empowered now beer snob, Jess

Categories: I Heart Beer, Special Interest | Leave a comment

Hold on to your Bottlecaps….

…..this is going to be a beer laden post. Not only do I have TWO Stubbies nights to fill you in on, I also did a home tasting too!

First up, a “mini” night at Stubbies. I knew I wanted to crash in my own bed that night (I usually stay with Christine after going out, since I live about an hour away from downtown. Plus no one wants to consider a DUI- much less a teacher, yipes!) but I still wanted to go out and get my brews on.

I was pumped to see Sweetwater’s “Happy Ending” on draft, so I know you will be shocked to hear that this unofficial “Sweetwater Girl” (I actually applied to be the Gville rep this summer, but I didn’t get it, probably for the best….I get away with a lot at school already, but a beer rep teacher might be really pushing the envelope! Le sigh.)

In case you didn’t believe me, here is the tap handle for proof! haha.
This dark, inky baby with a creamy head is a wild spin off on an Imperial Stout, like only Sweetwater could produce. Smooth and chocolately to start with a bitter bite on the back. Not exactly my idea of a “happy ending” but you know I’m not a hops kinda gal. Still a very enjoyable beer and one I would gladly order again. This is one of the “catch and release” series, so be sure to grab it while you can! PS. It’s being released more and more often, due to popularity, fyi.

I ended up staying with my Stubbie Loves for a little longer than expected led me to order a beer than had been eyeing me for a while. (We have claimed a “usual” spot at the little bar that happens to be right in front of the seasonal case, which still holds some “winter stuff”. PS I love that I have a bar with a “usual spot” and that I’m on a first name basis with all the staff including the owner. It’s the little things in life! ahhhh.)

Santa’s Champeau- which just like the other Champeau’s is a lambic with a sour finish. This is loaded with both citrus and date flavors, and while a bit strange upon the first sip, I was totally smitten by the end of the bottle. Strange floating chunks, be darned. (No seriously, I’ve never experience such large debris in a beer before- a little off putting, but still tasty).

A large glass of water and a 7-11 coffee had me home at a somewhat late hour, but safe and happy in my own bed! Mission accomplished.

After a mini night and a few weekends away from Gville I was in NEED of a true Stubbies night. Sit back, relax and drool…..

First up from the draft board:

Einbecker Winter Bock. Tasty, malty, smooth and oh so drinkable. Just like anything “bock” should be!
Second: Fort Collins Brown Bevvie. While Vinnie, one of the bartenders, only gave this draft a so-so review I really enjoyed it. I guess that means I enjoy “average brown ales?” Regardless I enjoyed sipping this sweet, nutty brown ale, whose taste profile got more complex as it warmed. This Bevvie or Bowie (as in David Bowie) as I kept calling it has redeemed Fort Collin in my book after the disappointing “chocolate stout” experience back in February.

After 2 drafts all the pretty labels in the seasonal case were just temping me on their sexy little bottles (yes, we had “our seats” again- this nice guy gave up his stool and then found us another, I didn’t even have to ask! See why Stubbies rocks? I get what I want! hehe).

Who am I to turn down a pretty little Dogfish Head creation? Oh man this Festina Peche was great! Sour yet smooth. Like some sort of peach lemonade on hopy acid. LOVE. I will totally be seeking this out to have poolside all summer. It’s that kind of crazy beer. Makes me happy just typing about it!

So, after that random trio I was in a real pickle. I couldn’t go back dark after that Dogfish, but I didn’t really want something crazy sweet. Steve to the rescue. He listened to me rattle off what I’d had and what I didn’t want and then just like the magical man he is, disappeared only for a moment to return with this HOSS.

Hoss Rye Lager by The Great Divide. Sadly I lost my notes on this one, but I know it went right now. Also, I’ve been eying a Raspberry Ale by the same brewer, so I’m pumped to try it next time after success with the HOSS. (Come on, you know that is just too much fun NOT to say!)

Last but not least, a little Sunday brew-ha-ha. I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into with this Holy Grail (bah-hah!) since I put it in my sampler pack based soley on the labeling. (Yes, I choose books based on their covers too. Notice! I said “choose” not judge!)

I needed not worry. This Ale rocked my socks! I mean, who can go wrong after all with a brew “tempered over burning witches”? I’m not sure how that translates to the smooth, amber colored, malt dominate beer that I so gladly consumed, but hey Monty-I’ll go with it!

Ok, ok so it wasn’t a real tasting, I just opened the last bottle of my ABC sampler pack to enjoy with my lunch today and wanted to share my thoughts. And I like to build up to the not-so-climate-release of disapointment. So there. You win some you lose some right? And let down by my post or no, this beer will not leave you hanging.

I think that is enough beer talk for one night. I’m on “fair break” this week (it’s like spring break, instead it revolves around steer showing and Easter, but we get another spring break in April, so it’s all gravy at the GCSD!) and since I don’t show Steer or Hogs or any other living creature I will be meeting up with my other bossy (read: amazing) teaching girlfriends-who are also my beloved college roomies- for some fun in the sun WBP style. Harvey is coming along for the trip (that is my computer, if you are new to the Semi-Abnormal life-HI!, btw) so I may or may not be blogging. If I am it will probably be reruns, so if you want to set your DVR, er….Google Reader instead I’ll understand.

Happy Spring has kinda Sprung!
Love to all,
~A beer tastic, Jess

Categories: I Heart Beer, Stubbies' 100 Beers in a Year Challenge | Leave a comment

Stay at Home Stubbies

Happy Friday Folks!

It is a COLD and rainy, flat out nasty and dreary night here in NorCenFLA so I nixed my plans to drive into Gville for my original plans of joining Christine for Body Pump taught by the fabulous Brittany followed by some Stubbies time…but in addition to the icky weather I am just recovering from a all week respiratory crap thing-which was truly ironic considering I was teaching the Immune System to my 11th graders this week. Life is grand. And funny!

So after rescheduling with my love, Christine to do Body Pump on Monday (I’m very excited, this will be my first time “pumping”!) and some dinner, since we both have the day off (President’s Day) I was thrilled to come home and snuggle into my sweatpants, pop a Sweetwater Blue (or 2!) and then tuck into this treat:

Stone Crab Claws!

One of my Dad’s students brought him tons of these babies, so this won’t be the first night we get to indulge in a little shellfish. Oh and it’s pretty perfect, considering lent starts this week!

These puppies were pretty big, this one was as big as my hand!

Sweet, sweet success. Oh yum.

And now I have sucessfully written and addressed my Vday cards for my girls- which will still be late, considering Valentine’s is Sunday…but hey, I love extending holidays…it’s kind of my thing!

Time to crack open one of my last Sam Samuel’s Holiday Brews and relish in the Winter Olympics opening ceremony!

Love to all,
~So happy it’s a long weekend for this teacher, Jess

Categories: I Heart Beer, Waz Sup(er) | Leave a comment

Christmas Eve Eve

Hello there my lovelies!

I’ve had a buzzzzy but great day and hope you can say the same.

I was lucky enough to steal Mom off to myself today and we trekked to downtown Gville for some yummy yogi time at The Sanctuary. We attended the Yin and Vinyasa with Melissa who is the owner of the studio and both Mum and I really enjoyed it. I have primarily practiced Iyengar style yoga with a little Bikram mixed in for detox purposes so both Yin and Vinyasa styles were new to me today, but I loved the mix of the deep opening, slow poses of the yin style mixed up with quick sequences following the breath that composes vinyasa. So great…I’m really pumped to get the most of my 2 week “new student” unlimited pass! I’m feeling really positive about this studio, even though it’s about as far away from my house as possible, as I’ve really been missing practicing with Denise at what was my “home” studio in St. Pete.

So after some deep hip opening and then a silly sequence of hops from chair to down dog and some more really, really, REALLY deep hip opening Mom and I said our Namastes and stumbled over to the mall for mani’s and pedi’s…..I was totally in need of a fresh pedicure since my currently consisted of me cutting my own nails and slapping repeated coats of red polish on top, but I decided to splurge on a manicure too since my nails were all the same length (some what)….a rare feat! I really should get manicures more often, since I love how my nails look now…but I’m just such a hands on person, litterally, that I just trash my hands and nails usually.

Anyways, all that yoga, pampering and some very light shopping worked up a ridiculous hunger and well, walking through the food court is the only option for exiting that wing of the mall, so we lesser mortals scrummed to the the tantalizing items at the Roman Delight counter.

Stuffed spinach pizza for me

A mushroom slice for Mom and then of course we shared.
Oh so cheesey and soooo good.

Now with yoga, nails, lunch and all Christmas shopping officially complete (I stretched it out with odds, ends and cards this year) we had to contemplate our dinner fates: tomorrow is Christmas Eve so that is Ham Sammys and Champagne (I’ll explain that tradion on Christmas) and Christmas Dinner is Roast Pork Loin (yes, more oinking….hooray for mashed potatoes and green beans!) so of course that leaves….Chinese Take OUT!

While that probably sounds disgusting to some and while I would have rather it been Thai takeout, I’ll take the ethinc adventures my parents are willing to go on and run with it.

My yums:

Huge pint of Hot and Sour Soup, so good, chock full of tofu, egg, mushroom and bamboo shoots!

Part of a pint of Veggie Lo Mein.

All together now…shocking I know!

And enjoyed with another Bud Light Golden Wheat- what can I say, Chinese take out just calls for a light beer! And this stuff may be growing on me? Dunno yet.

Now I need to haul my MSG laden body, complete with screaming hip joints off to bed.

Agenda for Christmas Eve:

  1. Christmas Eve Brunch at my Great Aunt’s River House
  2. Come back to the blog to share my Christmas Bread Story and Recipe (see you here!)
  3. Also be sure to check out my 5 ingredient recipe for a quick and easy (and kinda healthy!) side dish for the holidays
  4. Annual Christmas Eve Party at family friend’s house (easy on the jello shots….)
  5. Midnight Mass (see why I have to go easy on the jello shots? I only want to see 1 priest on the altar! haha)

Love to all,
~a are you sure tomorrow is Christmas Eve?, Jess

Categories: Get It Girl, I Heart Beer, Midday Munchies, Waz Sup(er) | Leave a comment

Chirstmas Elf Snackage

Hi all,

It’s been a busy elfing day here at the Semi-Abnormal household…I’ve been playing baker all day, but that will have to be a separate story!

When I did have a break from the kitchen to tackle card writing it was time for this little baking elf to have a snack! And while most might cuddle up with hot cocca to send out seasons tiddings….

….. I was more intrested in the new Bud Light that found it’s way home today:

It was ok….very drinkable, but I didn’t find it very wheat-y nor could I really detect the supposed orange or coriander flavors. I guess I’m just too spoiled with Sweetwater’s Hummer…which totally shouts coriander! (one of my fave spices too!)

Plus brie and whole wheat Ritz crackers and a sprinkling of chocolate covered sunflowerseeds that looked pretty but weren’t doing it for me today.

Anyways, my timer is about to buzz and I still haven’t finished my Christmas cards….off I go!

Love to all,
~the snacky little elf, Jess

Categories: I Heart Beer, Snackage | 1 Comment

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