The Magical Land of Dragonmead

Dragonmead is located in a place I’d never think to look—right off of the 696 expressway on the service drive. Once inside, however, I would not have known if I was off the service drive, off the beaten path or on the freeway—it’s that magical. (Note: I was going to try to get all cute and shit and write this in Ren Fest Olde English but I just ain’t that creative. Sorry)

First, we were immediately met with a bowl of pretzels and spicy mustard. Nice! Then we got the little ordering card and started making the difficult choice of what to drink. Normally, we can just order a sampler of everything on the menu and, while we certainly could have done that here, we would have had to have moved into the place because 40+ samples of beer would have done even Jeff and me in for the night.

Dragonmead has an INSANE of beers on tap, and, as I know from various beer events, all of them are awesome. So we had some thinking to do. For our first (and only, we swore to ourselves) tasting, we got the Ring of Fire, Bishop Bob’s Holy Smoke, Juggernaut Double Red, Final Absolution and Woody’s Perfect Porter.

I’m sometimes a little skeptical of pepper beers mainly because I think it’s easy to go overboard on the peppers and a little goes a long way, in my opinion. I can honestly say though that the Ring of Fire was the best pepper beer I have ever had. The nose was pure pepper, but not enough to make you want to sneeze or cough. The underlying ale was delicious and had the perfect amount of “burn” so that you got the pepper flavor but none of the uncomfortable singe that you can get in a lesser pepper beer.

Similarly, I am sometimes concerned about smoked beers. Again, one can go overboard on the smoke flavor and end up obscuring another otherwise good beer. Again though, this was a very well balanced beer. The nose was smoky and the taste was too, but not so much that it overpowered the actual beer. Jeff, who is a huge fan of smoked beers, said it was one of the best he had ever had.

Next was the Juggernaut Double Red. Man I am loving the reds lately! This beer had a light mouthfeel, slightly sweet but not cloying, nice bitter taste from the hops and a malty body. Delicious!

Next up was Final Absolution, which I always have at the beer festivals. After I took my first sip of this 10% ABV beer, I suddenly WAS at the beer festival, under the tent, listening to the tornado sirens go off and screaming, “If I’ma dying, I’m dying with BEER TODD’s beer in my glass!” before rushing off to the Copper Canyon tent. As always, FA was sweet, smooth (hee hee, I wrote “smoot” in my notes) and, for some reason, I noted that it was “wheat colored”.

The last beer in what was to be our ONLY sampler, honest to God, just one, no more for us, was Woody’s Perfect Porter, which was served on nitro. This means it is served with nitrogen instead of carbon dioxide, which generally gives it a smoother and creamier taste (think Guinness). And yes sir, it was smooth. In fact, I drew little hearts and wrote “smoooooooooooooooooooooooooooove, like drinking ice cream.” I’ll take my word for it.

From here on out, my notes got a little fuzzy. We decided that a second sampler was in order and went with an Earl’s Spit Stout (all roasted malt goodness!!! Noted I), Jason’s IPA (because the brewer’s name is Jason and my neighbor Keith told me to ask if Jason was there but Jason had gone home already, or so say my notes), Inquisition IPA (bitter, a little sweet, touch of grapefruit? I wrote), Sir William’s ESB (loooooooooooong bitter finish yum, scribbled I) and a Dead Monk which just has a happy face and, inexplicably, a Christmas tree next to it.

For the sake of my wallet, my waistline and my liver, it is a good thing that I do not live next door to Dragonmead. Even with all we sampled, there were still over two dozen beers to try—and the bartender apologized that there weren’t more on tap! If you believe nothing else I said, please believe me when I tell you to get yourself out there sooner than we did and find yourself transported to a magical place, right off of 696! See, that didn’t need Olde English Ren Fest after all!

Great Beer at Great Baraboo

Before our most recent “beer trip”, I facebooked about it. I am so glad that I did because my friend, (and head brewer at Arbor Brewing Company AND winner of Best in Show at the World Expo of Beer) Bill Gerds, suggested that we stop at the Great Baraboo in Clinton Township.

Way way way back in the day (before I met Jeff, before I came to Ann Arbor, before I wisely gave up the practice of law), some friends and I went to the Great Baraboo. I had no idea what “craft beer” was and certainly had no inkling of the role it would eventually play in my life. At the time, all I knew was that beer was just something you drank because it was cold and—not gonna lie—got you buzzed. I couldn’t actually say as I knew the taste of beer because all I had ever drank was “cold”. I do not remember my impressions of the Great Baraboo except that I probably thought the beer was odd because it had actual flavor, instead of just the lovely flavor of corny ice that so many macrobrews have.

Given my current knowledge of craft beer, I was excited to make my triumphant return. The first thing I realized was that I like my pubs dark. I had never thought about it before but I realized that the atmosphere of the Baraboo was perfect—sports games on television and dim lights. I think there would have been natural light—which is okay in a bar but not in a beer SNAP!—had it not been pouring rain outside.

Jeff and I got the sampler, which started with the Sharktooth Bay Golden Ale. I considered this to be the “gateway” beer of the place and found it crisp and light bodied.

The next beer was the Snake Eye Canyon Red Ale and it was scrumdiddilyicious! It was malty and roasty with a long lasting, creamy finish. Quite honestly, this was one of the best finishes I ever had in a beer…absolutely excellent.

Next was the King’s Peak Caribou Wheat, which was an American wheat. American wheats don’t have the strong banana and clove taste that a German Hefe might have…it is much more mellow. It was made with a 50/50 blend of wheat and barley and therefore did not have that “harsh” wheat taste that I often talk about. Nice, solid beer.

Boston Blackstone Porter came next and it was another standout for me. According to the menu, this recipe came from a recipe that the owner’s family brewed during Prohibition. It was creamy, toasty and had a full body. Excellent example of a porter style beer.

The Hoppy Heartland Pale Ale was a classic pale ale that I found to be sweeter than the other beers, with hints of caramel and some fruity/floral notes from the hops. Delicious!

The IPA was the “special” beer that day and was awesomely balanced in that it wasn’t overly malty and not overly bitter. It did have a bitter finish which was quite refreshing. Nice floral hops nose.

I always like to look at special events coming up in pubs and noticed something that I had never seen before—an upcoming ladies’ night with a Coach purse giveaway. The only designer things I really like in this life are Coach purses and so this caught my eye right away. I’m sure some ladies would object to this on principle but not me, sweetie pea.

If a bar was looking to get more girls in and spending money, this would be one way to do it. Fortunately for me, the beer was so good that I would go back in a heartbeat; the free Coach purse would just be the icing on the—er, the foam on the beer!

Sherwood is a Sure Thing!

That is the hokiest title ever but kinda cute, in a way.

The problem with stereotypes is two-fold: you see an individual (a purple person, let’s say) and he acts a certain way and you think that all purple people are going to be like him. Or, you see a group of purple people and expect them all to act a certain way, based on preconceived notions from the one purple person you saw last week. As a white teacher in a school with a mix of Hispanics, Arabics, blacks and whites, I try to impress this upon the kids–don’t judge ALL white people (for good or ill) based on me and don’t think that just because this white person does it, that all do. I hope it sinks in.

I bring this up because I buy into stereotypes myself (who doesn’t?), one of which is that things in strip malls are gonna suck. This is because most of the stores I’ve gone into in strip malls have, in fact, sucked. So when Jeff and I pulled up into the parking lot of the strip mall that houses Sherwood Brewing Company, my heart sank a little. Shit, thought I. What’s this going to be like?

Much as the cobbler’s children have no shoes, so did the teacher who preaches against stereotyping have no clue–the place was great, beers were great, we had a super time. As always, we got a sampler which went as follows:

Dubliner Dry Stout. At 4% abv, this was a very easy drinking beer. This would be an excellent “gateway” stout for those who might be hesitant to try the dark beer. Since it was a dry stout (as opposed to an oatmeal or coffee stout), it was full bodied and smoky. Very nice roasted malt and a dry, smooth finish.

Production Line Red. This was my favorite! I think I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been on this “red” kick (note to any leftover Communist hunters from the 50s…red is a style of beer and does not define my politics. Thanks) as of late and this fit the bill. It was malty, with a roasty finish. There was barely any hop character to speak of and almost had a hint of “tea” flavor in it.

Mistress Jade’s Hemp Ale. I’ve had this beer at various beer festivals, so it wasn’t new to me. I have to confess that I am not a huge fan of the hemp “taste” because I had an awful experience the one and only time I ever ate something laced with hemp (I’m talking awful…like, rushed to the hospital almost died awful). So the taste brings back some horrid memories (including one that involved me being dead and spending the afterlife with Jason, my EMT…not that Jason was horrid, but I really don’t want my World to Come to be the back of an ambulance). Nevertheless, this beer is appealing because of its dry hopped character.

Grindstone Pale Ale. Light bodied, toasty flavor with slightly bitter finish. About 5.0% abv so not quite a lawnmower beer, but I wouldn’t say no to one after a day spent in my yard.

Alaskan Sister Wit. To my surprise, this was my second favorite beer. Normally, I am not a huge fan of wit beers but this was great! It’s a white-Belgian style but didn’t have the “Belgian” taste that I often don’t like. Rather, it was citrusy with hints of spices, including (I think) coriander. Nice dry finish.

Buxom BlonDDe ale. Let’s hear it and cheer it for the DD girls! This was the highest alcohol beer at 6.5%. It’s a classic golden ale that was well balanced, with a malty body and slightly bitter finish.

Something else that I liked about Sherwood was the numerous upcoming events that were advertised throughout the pub. A mug club member potluck was forthcoming and since I love potlucks, that appealed to me. There was also a ladies’ night (I think they would still let me in, despite the fact that I am not terribly lady-like), a chocolate & beer pairing for the girls (I do not care for chocolate but I might be persuaded to go to something like this), a comedy night & a blues & brews night. Also, check out the website for upcoming beer releases…wow!

So I learned something that day…to not judge something by where it is but rather what is inside of it. That’s a life lesson that I think everyone–beer drinkers or not–can benefit from.

Spring Beer Dinner at the Grange–Springing Into Awesome

Brandon Johns is not just one of the coolest people I know, he is one of the bravest. I mean, seriously? Starting a restaurant in this economy?? And stocking it with locally sourced and seasonal food, still not a sure thing even in this town? Wow. That’s just gutsy.

Not only is Chef Johns committed to local food, he is similarly committed to local beer. This past week, the Grange held its Spring Beer Dinner which highlighted the best of food and brew.

The first beer served was Arbor Brewing Company’s Tree Fort beer. This is a light, refreshing “lawnmower beer” that has improved with every batch. It is, quite simply, the beer you’d want after a long day of mowing. It was a perfect start to the dinner and was paired with a variety of snacks, Brandon style. I say “Brandon style” because “Patti style” snacks are a bag of Doritos, take it or leave it. But at the Grange, we got homemade chips (yum!), popcorn popped in bacon fat, deep fried pickles and deep fried smelt with OMG I never had before but promptly fell in love (and, as someone at our table said, “I get the feeling that the Superbowl at Brandon’s house wouldn’t have pretzels). I could have eaten that stuff all night and felt I got my money’s worth. The salty, crispy, fried deliciousness paired perfectly with the lighter ale.

Next, we had sauteed lake trout over spelt and leeks. The beer was New Holland’s Golden Cap Saison Ale. This beer is made with spelt and so it paired very well with the spelt. (I just realized that we had smelt and then spelt and that is kind of cool). Golden Cap is an updated version of a traditional farmhouse ale. You see, back in the day, the farmhands would drink beer (water was icky and unsafe) and if you feed your workers a 9% Trippel, well, they are going to be sleeping instead of, er, hoeing. Thus, a lighter beer! (Okay, this one has an a.b.v. of around 6% but still).

The next course featured Arcadia’s Whitsun Ale paired with paella, rabbit & shrimp over gold rice. I have to confess some hesitation to eat Thumper but he’s pretty good! Whitsun is a wheat beer, full bodied & toasty with some hints of caramel. The toasty body paired very well with rice and Thumper (Brandon kindly remember that I don’t eat shellfish and had a special dish just for me! That’s the kind of service I’m talkin’ about).

The “main” course was a smoked pork shoulder but I got another special dish of homemade pasta. People love to get me crap for not eating pork–and I do miss it–but I am so glad that I got this dish instead! It was delicious and paired well with the fourth beer, the Dark Horse/Arbor Dark Corner brown ale. If you haven’t had this collaboration ale, you need to get some before it runs out. It is the same recipe but different water and house yeast, and the brewpubs made totally different beers. Both are great–but both are different. Both went nicely with my pasta and Jeff reported that they were “perfect” with his smoked pig.

Finally, we had a selection of Michigan cheeses, including a ricotta that was–and I’m not gonna lie–like eating a pillow of deliciousness. The beer was Founders Curmudgeon Old Ale. This was the strongest beer of the batch. It is malted and oak aged, with a touch of molasses. Nice heavy beer to go with the light cheeses. It made for an excellent dessert course. Much better than chocolate, which I actually don’t care for.

I can’t say enough about this excellent dinner! We had wonderful dinner companions, including Ron from Rave Associates (who was knowledgeable and personable, as always) and a wonderful host in Brandon! I’m truly glad that we have such a cool–and brave–guy here in our little town.

Last Stop: Lily’s

And by “last stop”, I mean the last stop on this particular outing! We actually had a bonanza beer outing this past Friday, about which I will blog at a later time.

But for now, I must complete the lovely Saturday tour that we had, which ended with dinner at Lily‘s in Royal Oak. Previously, I had only ever had their beers at various beer fests (along with some memorable barbecued pretzels from a few years back! Mmmmmm) and I really didn’t remember much about them. My bad, as the kids used to say, because these are some excellent brews.

Let me first say that the food was outstanding! Jeff & I both had fish dishes and they were excellent. Nothing was overly expensive and so it would be a nice place for an out of town date night.

Our sampler started with the usual “gateway” beer, which in this case was the Propeller Island Pilsner. But calling this a gateway beer maybe isn’t fair as it weighs in a 5.2% abv. It is a classic lager brewed with Pilsner malt and has its characteristic light, crisp taste. Easy drinking and a nice start to the sampler.

Next was my favorite, Reggie’s French River Red (I have been on this “red” kick lately, I believe). This beer had a nice floral aroma from Centennial hops. Its body is malty and toasty but overall well balanced with the hops. It has a nice mildly bitter finish. Very excellent red, 5.8% abv.

The Whitefish Bay Wheat was a traditional German hefe, which I am not the hugest fan of. This one was pretty good though–not too heavy on the banana and clove tastes, which is good because I do not care for those flavors (which is why I do not really like this style of beer!) Jeff does this style and had nothing but praise.

The A. Strange Stout was excellent–brewed in a porter style, it had a lovely roasty chocolately malty flavor. Definite hop character too, which doesn’t always happen in stouts.

O’Grady’s Cherry Stout was probably my second favorite beer. This was a dry Irish stout made with tart cherries. The tart cherries balanced the coffee flavors very well. According to the bartender, cherry juice was added at the end of boil, so I’m sure that accounts for some of the yummy flavors. Super duper stout that can even be enjoyed by folks like me who don’t always like fruit in their beers.

MacGregor’s Marzen was probably the weakest one for me. I found it lighter than the usual marzens that I drink and a bit plain. It wasn’t bad…just not my favorite.

Sven & Ollie’s IPA was the highest abv on our sampler (7.3%) and it was excellent, but definitely a higher alcohol beer! It was made with Cascade hops and had a full malty taste. Nice, smooth, bitter finish that left a nice taste in my mouth.

This place was a wonderful discovery for us and we will definitely return (in fact, uh, we are going back this Saturday as part of a pub crawl). I should also note that I like the story behind this place. The founders opened it in the spirit of their grandmother, Lily, who was a Scottish immigrant back in the day. They wanted to honor her spirit of food & drink, family & friends. They have definitely succeeded on all fronts. Gramma Lily would be proud.

Monday’s Mug: Black Lotus Brewpub

Yes, I know it is Tuesday but I’m running a bit behind this week what with my entire district getting laid off and such. Nevertheless, beer continues to flow so all is well.

As I said last week, my husband & I went on a small beer quest the Saturday before last and this is stop #2, the Black Lotus in Clawson. This charming brewpub is located in Clawson, which has a cute little downtown that I didn’t know about.

The pub’s atmosphere reminded me of my usual pub, the Corner Brewery, which is what all other brewpubs are measured against. The vibe was casual and it was definitely a place where I could hang out for endless periods of time. It also had deep fried pickles which are my personal favorite beer snack (besides shelled peanuts). I have tried some of Black Lotus’ beers at various beer festivals but this was my first time trying them all at once. Here are my impressions:

People Mover Pils, a.b.v. 4.3%. This was their basic American pilsner, very light and crisp and reminded me of the Wolverine lager that is on draft at that brewpub. A nice “gateway beer”.

Detroit Hip Hops, a.b.v. 6%. This American Pale Ale contained citrusy hops and very fragrant. Nice bitter taste and finish.

Red Tao Amber, a.b.v. 7.5%. This was one of my personal favorites. This beer was caramelly and smooth…I certainly would not have known it was so high in alcohol! It had a definite bitter hop taste and a slight “Belgian” taste that was not overpowering. Smooth finish.

Black Bottom Oatmeal Stout, a.b.v. 5.5%. This beer made me think of my friend Cindy who we call “Stout Girl” (not because she is chubby but because she likes stout beer). I wrote down “worthy of Cindy” in my notes, which means it is a good beer! This was, as the name says, an oatmeal stout. It had hints of chocolate and coffee and a creamy mouthfeel.

DD Blonde Maibock, a.b.v. 6%. Let’s hear it for the DD girls! And for this beer! Definitely more of a bock than a blonde, it was Jeff’s favorite.

Clawtown Brown, a.b.v. 6% was my other favorite. All I wrote was “delicious!!!!!!”. Sorry I can’t give you more but the sheer number of exclamation points should tell you something.

DTF Tripel Belgian, a.b.v. 10.8%. We asked, and were told that DTF is a saying from that charming piece of Americana, The Jersey Shore. You would have to shoot me to get me to watch that show, so I just started guessing what the letters meant and finally, our nice bartender told me. You can guess at your own risk. Meantime, get out and enjoy this beer. It had a lovely taste, not at all “Belgian”y. Smooth, clear with a sweet finish, this beer was surprisingly easy drinking. Belgian candy sugar gives it its lighter look and mouthfeel and again, it is not what you might think of when you think of a Tripel Belgian. Very good and easily one of my favorites.

All in all, this is a lovely brewpub with great food and even better beer. Next week, hopefully on Monday this time, I’ll conclude with our last stop, Lily’s Seafood. Until then….

Big Rock Chophouse Brewpub

This past Saturday, Jeff & I woke up late, missing an engagement that we had scheduled. (Actually, I got up and then went back for a nap; Jeff slept straight through). At some point, I suggested that we hop in the car and check out some brew pubs that we haven’t yet been to. Jeff replied, “Smashing idea!” And so we were off.

Our first stop was the Big Rock Chophouse in Birmingham. Here is where I tell you that I’m kinda intimidated by Birmingham…I never quite fit in and always feel way out of place. So as soon as we got into the restaurant, we ran to the bar (I almost ran over another patron who was, of course, little and blonde and made me feel about 3 inches taller and 30 pounds heavier) and plopped ourselves down. We were immediately comfortable and felt welcomed. Ahhh…we had found our place in Birmingham!

The place is gorgeous–lots of shiny wood and bottles and just the right lighting. We ordered the beer sampler, which looked like this:

See? It’s pretty!

Starting on the left is the lager. Folks, when the basic lager is good, you know you are in for a treat! This lager was perfectly “to style” (as best I can tell…I’m not a certified judge). It had a pure “lager” nose and was crisp and dry.

Next was the IPA, which had a strong hop presence and was not terribly bitter. It also wasn’t terribly floral or citrusy like American IPAs can sometimes be. Next was my personal favorite, the bock. You can see it’s pretty copper color. This was a smooth, biscuity beer that was not at all heavy and extremely easy drinking. I didn’t want it to end so I drank it kinda slowly, which meant it warmed up some…still very good! Next was Jeff’s favorite, the saison. Jeff said this beer was “just about perfect”…wheaty and just the most lightest subtle hint of banana. I’ve sometimes found saisons to be a little “off” but this one was dead on and delicious. Next was the black beer, called a Schwarzbier (which I think is German for, go figure, “black beer”). This beer reminded us of a dunkel…very malty, no taste of hops. It was a filling beer, but not heavy, if that makes any sense. Next was the double red, also fantastic. Nice hop aroma, caramely & roasty body. Finally you will see the most excellent royal imperial stout. This beer was amazing–coffee taste, perhaps a hint of chocolate, perfect example of a stout style and finished with a nice, clean alcohol burn.

At some point, our bartender Jeff (who was super duper fantastic) said, “You two seem like aficionados…when would be a good time to tell you that we have some bourbon barrel aged imperial stout in bottles?” You don’t gotta ask me twice–“Now!” I said. I guess my mad note taking clued him in to our beer geekiness 🙂

This beer was amazing. The nose was all bourbon. The body was creamy and rich with a hint of vanilla. The best way to describe is to say it was like a beershake. Bartender Jeff said it was the royal imperial stout that we had enjoyed in our sampler, aged for about 6 to 8 months in the barrels. Luckily for us, it was bottled and so we took one home to save for later. I trust that no one will break into our house to get this beer, although I suppose I couldn’t blame you if you did!

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the outstanding food that we had. We hadn’t had lunch yet and it was after 3 (remember, we slept in super late), so we got the slider sampler. Yowza–they were pretty keen jelly bean. One was a salmon-crab cake with some sort of awesome sauce on it, another was buffalo chicken and spicy as hell and one was sirloin which made want to cry. The sliders were served with thick, yummy onion rings. It’s like what I imagine White Castle is like when you die and go to Heaven (although with no calories…no calories in Heaven, I hear).

As we went along our journey, I was commenting on Facebook and Twitter. To a one, everyone in the beer community praised head brewer Dan Rogers–and with good reason. Someone called him the “professor” and I have to agree…he is amazing!

So the next time you oversleep and miss the brew session you are supposed to go to…hop in the car and head east to Birmingham. Sit at the bar, chat up Jeff the bartender, and you’ll fit right in!

Beer Bellies

I often say that if not for calories and money issues, I would be a stone alcoholic. So perhaps it is good that I have “body image issues” and am always worried (often needlessly) about going broke. Nevertheless, these issues do not prevent me from drinking and eating a lot. This past Sunday, I got to do both at the first Wolverine State brewpub’s “Beer Bellies” dinner (and why yes, I did increase my beer belly, thanks! :))

Let me start by saying that this dinner was AMAZING and one of the best dinners I have been to. The menu appealed to me because it did not feature pork, which I do not eat and which is often front & center for any kind of dinner event (might have eaten the shellfish though).

The dinner started with these things called beignets which I still can’t pronounce but I sure can eat! They are this doughy bready thing filled with chives and cheddar cheese and then, I think, deep friend. What the fuck? Who thought this up? Get this person in the space program–BRILLIANCE!!! Those were served with prawns that were made with the Mai Bock beer. These were paired with the Pastoral Winter beer, which is one of my current favorites at the Wolverine.

The next course had cornbread, which is normally not a favorite of mine. But, I am happy to say that this was the first cornbread I ever really enjoyed. This is possibly because it had spicy peppers in it! Yum! Might have had seconds of this. The District 16 Vienna Lager was paired with the cornbread and I have to say that I very much enjoyed this batch of District 16. If you tried it before, go back and try it again…it’s delicious.

Next up were the black eyed peas and greens. Again, black eyed peas are not always my favorite but yet again, I may have found myself having seconds. They went very well with the Vienna Lager…nice compliment to the tangy tomatoes in the b.e.peas.

Next up was the macaroni and cheese and, rumor has it, squash. I normally don’t like squash (Jesus Christ, how did I get an ass like this with all the food I DON’T like?!) but I couldn’t tell it was in there. Very clever disguise, oh caterers my caterers. The macaroni and cheese was out of this world…truly. AND, they paired the Gulo Gulo with it which just rocked the house. May have had seconds of this as well.

By now, I was stuffed. But did I keep on eating? Hell yeah. Our next course was the main course, which was lager fried chicken and porter braised BBQ beef brisket. Lawd have mercy, friends. They paired this with their Wolverine Premier Lager and Wolverine Dark, each complimenting the lighter and darker meats. As I have probably said before, the Premium Lager is a thousand times better now that our man Oliver is brewing it on site.

For dessert, we had peach-pecan bread pudding with some kind of sauce that was truly awesome sauce. I know I talk about awesome sauce a lot but I’ve never actually eaten it until Sunday. It’s really quite yummy! We had the Teenage Mutant Ninja Porter which, with its coffee like taste, was the perfect after dinner drink. By this time, I could actually feel my ass getting bigger but that of course didn’t stop me from consuming the entire dessert. Cuz that’s how I roll (pun intended!)

I cannot say enough good things about this dinner. It was delicious, the brewpub was packed with friendly people and it was cool to hear from the founders/brewers/Beer Wench. I met some new folks and got to meet Fred & Debbie in person which was way cool! And the best news is that I have until the next beer dinner to Jazzercise off the calories!

Monday’s Mug: Hangin Frank

When I first drank this beer last summer, I presumed it was an IPA. To my surprise, Short’s Brewing Company calls it a strong pale ale. It’s their beer and they can call it crap on a tin can if they want–I’ll still drink it.

The nose is citrusy hops and the hop taste carries you through to the finish. The hops are simcoe which gives this beer kind of a grapefruity taste that blends nicely with its toasty grain taste. I will warn you that if you are not a fan of hops, you will likely not care for this beer. I am a fan of hops; ergo, I love the stuff. Personally, I like pairing it with charred beef of the steak variety. Mmmm!

This beer was not without controversy though, and not for the hoppiness or the taste or anything else like that. The label on the bottle shows a man hanging. Some folks thought that his hand (the only skin visible) looked dark and thought this implied that it was a black man hanging and therefore implied lynching. In fact, the story behind the name revolves around a man named Frank Fochtman who is rumored to have hung himself in the basement of the restaurant he owned, now called the City Park Grill (this beer was originally brewed for that place). Of course, the rumor now is that Frank haunts the basement. You see, his ghost is watching over the place, breaking some glass now and again Personally, I long for the day when we live in a country where people do not react to the label but rather react to people who think that there are such a thing as ghosts. But that’s me.

At any rate, I hear that Short’s is going to relabel the beer next year. Check out the label yourself…what do you think?


I’m quite the NFL fan & look forward to the Superbowl every year. On the down side, after today I will have nothing to do on Sundays but I’ll find something, I’m sure. Hockey? Nap? Yeah something.

But we still have the game today, peeps! I’ve never been a Packers fan because I loathe Brett Favre with a heat that I can’t explain. I went to law school in Wisconsin and while it was the worst 2.5 years of my life for many reasons, one of them was the Favre worship that was so pervasive. When he left the Packers, I started paying attention and when I saw the soulful blue eyes of Aaron Rodgers, well, I was okay with the Packers. So I am rooting for them to win today (also, I can’t stand Ben R & the Steelers).

As they usually do, my friends Brent & Angela are having a Superbowl party! Unexpected snow canceled my dinner plans for last night (watching bad shark movies and eating fish themed food…I missed chummed Jello and I’m kinda pissed off at Old Man Winter right now) so I will be bringing lox & bagels and Phish food to their party, but I will also be bringing this:

Honey Popcorn

Pop some popcorn on your stove or in your popcorn maker. The recipe that I used called for 3 quarts but yeah, like I’m gonna measure the shit. Just fill the bowl and go with it. Add some sort of nuts. I used peanuts.

Melt 1/2 c honey, 1/2 butter & 1 t vanilla and then pour onto your popcorn/peanut mix. Spread onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes at 350. You should flip the popcorn at about the 5 minute mark, lest it burn.

That’s it! Easy peasy and yummy to boot.

I am also making Peach Chutney today, but I won’t be bringing it to the party because it isn’t quite cooled yet. I will let it cool, freeze it and serve it at my summer-themed party on March 12th. I also plan on cherry pie for that party (using cherries that I canned this summer) & possibly a blueberry pie as well. So in other words, mark your calendar bitches 🙂 🙂