Tag: New Brews

Travel Brew

(Long stories are called that for a reason, so grab a drink and sit for a while)

So The Mr is in Minnesota this week and Memphis the next. More miles and even more bars and brews. Some less memorable, some more so, and then every now and then you hit the beer jackpot!

Last October found this traveling techie in Louisville, KY, for a trade show. On the last day, I went hunting for a beer unavailable in Charlotte — the Dogfish Head 120 minute IPA. The Mrs had this lovely libation on tap in Virginia, where the drink regulations are less draconian (the 120 is often between 18 and 24%) and she came home singing its praises.

Armed with my trusty iPhone, I dialed numbers blindly from the Dogfish Head website while tearing down our booth. And what luck, someone had my beer just a few miles away! Since I was driving back home, a little detour wouldn’t hurt anyone. I’d be in and out in minutes, then on the road for a long drive home.

I had some trouble locating Sergio’s World of Beer, which is ironic for a world of beer, but after I followed the GPS directions, there was only one bar and a shop next door with Brazilian soccer flags in the window and a general unwelcoming appearance.

I walk into the bar, finding Pabst on tap — not “hipster” Pabst but rather the sturdy array of American adjunct lagers familiar to a rugged crew of working men. I ask if they have Dogfish Head, and you could almost hear the needle scratch. The kindly barmaid suggested that I inquire next door.

I walk to the front and see no opening.
I walk to the back and see this:

Back door entrance to Sergio's World of Beer

Well, daylight’s wasting, and a wise man once said that “no mother’s son or daughter ever got anywhere by being timid” … So the Mr went a knocking.

A busy stockman opened the door and welcomed me in. I asked for the 120, as I’ve got an 8 hour drive ahead and the sun is starting to sag in the afternoon sky. Instead, he beckons me to a beer cave of mythic proportion — and the non-chilled stock area is even larger.

Behold, this is no mere stockboy, but Sergio himself, and Sergio’s is no mere distributer but instead, he has over 1400 different beers for sale! (Yes, two zeros after the fourteen)

He tempts me with rare and collectible bottles, but I cling to my four pack of the 120, both for security and because if I let go, I’ll be able to reach my wallet and spend the mortgage payment.

Resolute as I am, he beckons to the front bar. “Do you like sour beers?”
Well, I’m just getting into them … I’ve tried the Rodenbach …

“Well then, you can’t leave without trying this — I have the only keg on this side of the world.” Hook, line, and sinker … How can a beer guy resist?

Tap pull for special sour beer(Note: this beer is “Good Dog”  — hee hee)Bon Chien 2004

He directs me to an empty seat next to a older gentleman, the sort of distinguished regular that elevates discussion even if only by the asking. He’s brought beer magazines and printouts, and he’s presiding over a trio of bottles each new and foreign to this beer guy.

The beer bard fills me in on the Sergio backstory, as well as pointing out where the establishment has been listed in The Great American Ale Trail.

We talk for almost an hour, and my sour becomes more complex as it warms. I think now that I could unroll my sleeping bag in the corner … and have my mail forwarded … Except that I have to drive 8 hours home, oh yeah, I should stop drinking before I lose the will to leave 🙂

So with a audible sigh, I push away from the bar, and drag my mixed six out to the rental and point its nose home.

Here’s my loot, all from Dogfish Head: 4 120 minute IPA’s, 1 World Wide Stout, 1 Burton Baton, oh my
Beers from Sergio's

When I got home (the next day), the Mrs and I popped a 120 and slowly savored each sip. The rest went I to my “cellar”, as I call the area under the guest bed. We pulled out another two brews for celebrating New Years.

And recently, after returning from Mississippi, land of past and future, where my father was in and out of the ICU, having scared me more than a little, it seemed fitting to pour a pint in his honor. (He is recovering nicely, gentle reader, and in time will be back to raising a glass of his own) Some rites of passage are distinct points in time and some are progressions along a spectrum. When you find yourself reaching out to help a parent, instead of reaching out for help yourself … Well, after a long drive home with plenty of time to reflect, it was time to raid the cellar.

The Mrs and I chose a Dogfishhead Burton Baton and a World Wide Stout.
Were they luscious beers, where each sip makes you want to curl up in the glass? … Yes. Did I wish that I had bought out Sergio’s stock? Of course!

Many travel brews are forgettable, like a few local IPA’s that I’ve tried tonight. But some watering holes turn into wells worth returning to, and every now and then, you bring something home worth sharing.


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3.2 in the rearview

For this week’s “Tuesdays on Tap” post (a tradition we plan to be more consistent with this time around), I’d like to tell you about some interesting Mississippi brews.

You may remember that when we traveled to Mississippi recently we decided to bring along provisions since our previous experience had been that good craft beer was pretty scarce down there.  I have to tell you that we were pleased to discover not one, but two Mississippi breweries with offerings we really enjoyed.

Truth be told, our provisions were gone in about two three days.  Hey…we shared.  It wasn’t all us.  We don’t drink that much.  So, as we still had 9 more days to go in the Magnolia State, we had to go in search of replenishments.  While in Jackson, we found Lazy Magnolia’s Southern Pecan and Timber Beast at the local Kroger.  We had hopes of getting our hands on their Jefferson Stout (a sweet potato cream stout) and Southern Hops’pitality (a traditional IPA) as well, but couldn’t seem to locate those.

The Southern Pecan is a lightly hopped caramelly nut brown ale that, according to Lazy Magnolia’s website is the first beer in the world brewed with pecans.  While in MS, I had it bottled at my in-laws house and on draught at three different locations.  Both delicious, but the draught was obviously my favorite.  It became my go-to Mississippi brew.




The Timber Beast is an Imperial Rye IPA which is the first in Lazy Magnolia’s “Back Porch Series.”  The name of this series sounds special and interesting, but I have yet to find a definition of what all it actually entails.    If I ever get down to the brewery in Kiln, MS I’ll have to ask.  Whatever it is, it got this brew a Beer Advocate rating of 90 (exceptional) and at 9% it was actually illegal to brew, own or distribute in Mississippi until last summer.  Being an Imperial Rye IPA, this one was more The Mr’s style…or so you’d think.  But more on that later!

While out and about in the Brandon area one evening we decided to pop into the local Mellow Mushroom as we were jonesing for a draught and we knew the Mellow Mushroom would have a good selection.  We were pleased to find that a new Mississippi brewery, Lucky Town Brewing Co (from Gluckstadt, MS) had a selection tapped there – their Ballistic Blonde.




It’s a Belgian Style Blonde Ale that clocks in around 5.1% with notes of banana and spice.  It was very refreshing, the kind of beer you want to drink outside on a warm summer evening.  Since February in Mississippi ranges in temps from 40-73 degrees (I was drinking it on a 68 degree February day), you are pretty much good to drink it year round down there.  Lucky Town is apparently a newly opened brewery (so much so that it doesn’t appear to have an open tap room yet) and currently only has two offerings – the Ballistic Blonde and the Flare Incident Oatmeal Stout. (Lucky Town folks, if you read this and I’m wrong, please correct me.  We’d sure love to visit the next time we are down that way.)

Later that week we made the pilgrimage north to God’s country – Oxford, MS.  (Aw, I miss it…)  While in OxVegas, we were pleased to have more opportunities to enjoy these local brews.  I mentioned that I washed down my City Grocery Shrimp and Grits with a Timber Beast.




I’ve stated time and time again that The Mr is the IPA fan in the family.  But, I knew from my Beer and Cheese pairing class at NoDa last October that I can really enjoy an IPA with the right smoky gouda.  I have the recipe for City Grocery’s Shrimp and Grits and, while it doesn’t include gouda, I knew that it included parmesan and extra-sharp white cheddar cheeses and had enough of a smokey quality that I would more than enjoy a hoppy Timber Beast with it.  I was right.  The bite of the Timber Beast beautifully balanced the spice and smoke of the Shrimp and Grits for me.  It was a perfect pairing.

A couple days later I discovered that Oxford’s new-to-me-Cajun-dive, Irie on the Square, had Lucky Town’s Flare Incident tapped.  My research told me that this was an oatmeal stout, which I knew would be right up my alley.  The Mr offered to go start us a tab while I got a table and caught up with old friends.  When I asked him to get me a Flare Incident, I assumed that it wouldn’t be necessary to specify that I only wanted a pint.  I was wrong.  This is what I was brought…




If you haven’t inferred from context, let me clarify.  The vat-o-beer on the right is what he brought me.  Sadly, this was our third stop of the evening, so I didn’t have the capacity for 32 extra ounces of beer. (What was he thinking?!?)  I barely made a dent in this maple syrup laced baby.  But, what I did drink, I very much enjoyed.  I’m looking forward to encountering this Incident again…albeit it in a somewhat smaller delivery vehicle.

The reason that finding these great local craft beers in Mississippi is so amazing is that, until last July, it was illegal to sell or possess beer that contained more than 5% alcohol.  From our experience, though, you were lucky if you could even locate any beers that weighed in over 3.2%, much less find a 5%-er.  That also meant that Lazy Magnolia (the only Mississippi brewery that existed until recently) couldn’t even make higher gravity beers to distribute in other states.    Thanks to the hard work of grass roots organizations like Raise Your Pints Mississippi the governor signed the craft beer bill into law on April 9, 2012 making “brews that are up to 8 percent alcohol by weight, or 10 percent by volume” legal in Mississippi as of July 1, 2012.  This was our first trip back since the law changed and, boy, did it make going home that much better.

(Side note – the grass roots efforts are now working on initiatives to legalize home brewing the  Magnolia State.)

So, Mississippi, let’s raise you pints!  Here’s to keeping those 3.2’s in the rearview mirror!



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my husband thinks my beer belly is sexy

Why shouldn’t he?  He gave it to me.  He’s the one who introduced me to craft beer.

Our 14th anniversary is coming up this Spring.   Beyond that, 2013 marks the 16th year that we’ve known each other.  In our 16 years as a couple, I think we’ve made a big deal out of Valentine’s Day twice…maybe three times.  We’re just not big Valentine’s Day people.  Needless to say, our conversation over breakfast yesterday went something like this:

The Mr:  “Did you get me a valentine?”

Me:  “Oooh…today is Valentine’s Day, isn’t it?”

The Mr: “Sure is.”

Me:  “Well then, no, I didn’t get you a valentine.  Did you get me one?”

The Mr:  “Nope.  What do you want to do?”

Me: “NoDa’s releasing a special Valentine’s Day beer.  Want to go get one when the tap room opens?”

The Mr:  “Are you sure that’s all you want to do for Valentine’s Day?”

Me:  “Why not?  I love you.  You love me.  We love beer. “

The Mr.  “Point taken.”

Truth be told, whether we had other Valentine’s Day plans or exchanged gifts or not, I had been plotting since October to head out to NoDa Brewing Co on Valentine’s Day.  Last October we were out at NoDa for a Beer and Cheese Pairing hosted by Chad, the head brewer.  Sadly, I never got around to actually blogging about that event.  I did, however, learn that a nice Gouda can really take the edge off of the hoppiest of IPAs.  The Mr is the “hophead” in the family, not me.  But apparently, if I’ve got a wedge of Gouda and stack of crackers, I could polish off a pint of an IPA very easily.

Anyway…while at the Beer and Cheese Pairing, Chad told us about his planned Valentine’s Day release – a Belgian style Quadruple called Ménage a Quàd.

Menage a Quad

The Ménage a Quàd is part of NoDa’s “NoDable Series,” unique small batch beers “that otherwise would not be possible on a larger scale” released only in the tap room each week.  Good news is that if these beers are successful then the brewers may add them to their regular menu.  Bad news is they won’t let you growler them and take home.

For those of you who don’t know what a Belgian Quad is, here’s how I understand it.  Belgian Dubbels, Tripels, and Quadruples were originally reserved for Abbey brewed ales.  However, over the years, secular breweries (particularly in the U.S.) have started trying their hands at it.    Basically, these three brews are distinguished by the number of times they are put through the fermentation process with the “quad” going through a total of four fermentations and resulting in the richest, strongest, and most complex flavors and highest alcohol content of the three.  Typically quads are high in malts with background yeast tastes and notes of fruits and chocolate with alcohol contents trending towards 10% or more.  (In the interest of full disclosure, I did a bit of internet research on these distinctions and found the simplest most straightforward answer in this blog post from the Dallas Beer Snobs.)

I took a few notes after our conversation with Chad in October, but it’s been several months since I’ve looked at them. (So, Chad, if you ever read this and I have gotten it wrong, please forgive and correct me.)  If I deciphered my notes correctly the Ménage a Quàd was brewed using the same yeasts as the Westmalle beers and was aged in red wine barrels.  The Mr and I thought we tasted raspberry and chocolate notes as we sipped our snifters.  The “sipping” was our attempt to savor it, because this baby was smooth enough that it could have gone down MUCH faster.  Savoring was required because, much to our chagrin, NoDa limited patrons to two each in tap room on the night of the release.  Despite our sadness at the limitation,  with the Ménage weighing in at 11.2%, it was probably for the best.

As I sat sipping, making the low pitched murmurs of yummied satisfaction, I noticed The Mr staring at me and smirking.  “I should have known the way to your heart would be through beer,” he laughed.  “You + me + 2 beers = a ménage a quàd.”  Like I said at the top, my husband thinks my beer belly is sexy.

Who needs a Valentine’s Day ménage a troix when you can have a NoDa Ménage a Quàd? 😉


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New Kid On the Block

These days, most the buzz in Charlotte is about the DNC.  For local beer lovers, there is something much more newsworthy though… the opening of Charlotte’s newest brewery. In case you hadn’t noticed, our fair city is becoming quite the beer town.  Yesterday Triple C Brewing Co., newest addition to the Charlotte beer scene, opened it’s doors.

The Mr. and I had a busy day, so we weren’t sure that we’d be able to stop by.  But, being the beer lovers that we are, we just simply couldn’t let the occasion pass without squeezing in a visit.  We only had about 30 min to spare for new brews (sad, I know) and we spent 20 of those minutes waiting in line to actually procure a pint.

The Mr. gulped down Triple C’s Greenway IPA, while I guzzled their Smoked Amber.    He wanted to get his hands on a Baby Maker, but didn’t think it wise to try something that bold when we had so little time.  We had to drink them so fast, we can’t really give you honest opinions on them.  We did get to take in the tap room pretty well while all queued up, but sadly did not get a lot of pics.  For now, you’ll have to take my word for it – rustic/industrial, but elegant.  I dug it.

I guess we’ll just HAVE to give it another whirl when we’ve got more time spend…

Cheers y’all!

The Mrs. Signature

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He Said/She Said: To Market We Go!

BG was one of those lucky folks who got Good Friday off of work. Unfortunately for me, healthcare does not adhere to all national holidays. While enjoying his day off, BG treated himself to a haircut and apparently got into a nice beer discussion with his stylist. She – aghast that as a fellow beer lover didn’t know about this place – tipped him off to a local beer gem, The Common Market. While I was slaving away in the speech therapy world, I got a text from BG at precisely 12:55 pm saying “Going to check out a new beer store in Plaza Midwood.”

Somebody’s enjoying his day off…

Four hours later I got a follow-up text “Beer tasting next Wed at 6:30 – Common Market.” Ok, sounds fun. Have you been there all this time? I returned home to find three new beers in my fridge

and a giddy, smiling husband in my kitchen.

Wednesday finally rolled around and off to The Market we went!

Upon entering, there is a distinct “convenience store” vibe.  You know, candy aisle, sodas, etc.  But as you keep walking towards the back a whole new world appears.  There’s an entire wall of beer – GOOD, CRAFT BEER – not just your typical garden-variety convenience store beer collection.  Then there are crates and crates of wine tagged with ratings and tasting notes.

These are capped off with a mini Wine Bar/Tap “Room” just before heading out the back door and onto the patio…where you can eat your fresh gourmet deli sandwiches.

To our surprise, the Charlotte Beer Club, which we didn’t know existed (Sign us up?  Yes, please!) was there for the tasting.  “On tap” for the tasting were 4 beers from the Southern Tier Brewing Co.

First up was the Southern Tier Hop Sun –

He Said: Pours a clear, pale straw color with minimal head. Wheat taste, with a dry finish.
Even though they gave out free pint glasses, for some reason we started with the plastic cups — so perhaps the “Dixie Cup Ambiance” reduced the head a little.

She Said: I’d drink this in the summer…although it is a smidge dry and hoppy for my taste.  Nice crisp finish.  And do I detect a bit of citrus?  Lemon maybe?

As with all tastings, the pours were small. 🙂

Next up was the Southern Tier IPA

He Said: Pours clear, golden with little head. Crisp and floral, but I’m having trouble smelling the beers today. Perhaps it’s the Dixie cups, perhaps it’s the North Carolina allergies.

She Said: I can smell ’em!  Nice floral nose.  And after the first sip…WHOOO-that’s hoppy!   Another crisp and light finish.  I know enough to know this is a nice representative of the varietal but…

WineGirl clarified, “I’m generally not a fan of IPA’s”.
BeerGuy countered, “I’m generally not a fan of Dixie cups”, as he picked up the free glass for the next round.

Round three – Southern Tier IBA.  That is, the Iniquity Imperial Black Ale.

He Said: Yum! I got this in a snifter when we first walked in. To give away my secrets, the BeerGuy tends to head straight for the bar upon entering a drinking establishment, and then beer in hand, turns to take in the environment.

My one note was “Get a Bottle!” It’s too big and black to shortchange, so we’ll write up a separate review.

She Said: By this point in the game I was too busy being sociable to make tasting notes or take pics.  Luckily a bottle of this came home with us, so, as BG promised, a more detailed review will come later.  I may not have made a lot of notes, but I do remember that I liked it and was intrigued by the uniqueness of the black ale.  Third time’s the charm, right?

And finally, the Southern Tier Jah-Va…an Imperial Coffee Stout.

He Said: When I first visited, Thomas (manager?, owner?, enthusiastic beer-dude!) recommended this so highly that I took one home for the WineGirl. We haven’t popped it yet, and I had trouble smelling the sample at the tasting, so we’ll write this up separately. High hopes, though, that we’ve found a new breakfast beer.  🙂

She Said:  Ah…a beer after my own heart!  Again, no formal notes from the tasting, but there’s a bottle in the fridge!!

Some may say that the star of the tasting show tonight was the Southern Tier Brewing Co., but I say it was the camaraderie.  You see, this was one of the most unorganized laid back tastings I’ve ever been to.  Don’t get me wrong. The laid back vibe totally fit the atmosphere. I’m just saying that usually at a tasting, the pouring is very organized, the beers are brought out on a schedule and the brew master or beer company rep really wants to talk to you about the beer and describe the taste, process, philosophy of the brew.  Here, the tasters just mingled and socialized and the hosts seemed to randomly decide to open up the next brew, giving a pour to whomever held their glass out the fastest.

While that put my little OCD heart on edge, the mingling allowed us to get to know some of our fellow beer enthusiasts.

We chatted with 1) the head of the Charlotte Beer Club, 2) a naturopathic physician who just happens to brew a little on the side, and 3) the Brew Master of the new NoDa Brewing Co. (scheduled to open in Charlotte’s NoDa neighborhood this fall).  These people are true beer lovers who want not just to enjoy the beer for themselves, but to share it with others as well.  To that end as the NoDa Brew Master was describing to us a particular beer he loved, he stopped mid-sentence, grabbed a bottle of it out of the cooler, opened it up, and shared it with us.  Ladies and gentlemen, meet TINY.

Brought a bottle of this home too…and it gets a post all to itself.

Believe it or not, TINY, wasn’t the only privately purchased bottle someone shared with us out of good-beer will.  Another fine young lad simply smiled and handed over a bottle of this from his 6-pack after the naturopathic physician complimented him on his beer choice.

We split it three ways.  Once again, BG has deemed this one good enough for its own post.  So…stay tuned!

All in all, this evening included three of my favorite things – good beer, good conversation, and good atmosphere.  Not bad for being out on a school night!  And, P.S., guess who does wine tastings every Tuesday night?  You got it, The Common Market.  After this evening’s success, it is safe to say we’ll definitely be checking that out very soon!

Cheers, y’all!

Wine Girl

Beer Guy

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Red, Blue, and Blackend Voodoo

As Wine Girl told you previously, we attended the 2011 annual Ole Miss Alumni Crawfish Boil earlier this month. A few work trips delayed this write-up from the beverage point of view.

I’ll spare you the pronunciation for “crawfish boil” — after all, you are reading this to yourself, so call it a “boil” (bo-ee-ul) if it pleases your Yankee heart. It does mine, if only to annoy the Wine Girl. (Shhh … don’t tell!)

At last year’s boil, we took Blue Moon for washing down the mudbugs. Not a good plan! With all respect due to the best beer from Coors, it simply can’t cut the spicy bite.

So this year, I was on the prowl for a beer worthy of the bayou. At the Healthy Home Market, which has a beer section to rival the tofu selection, I bumped into an old friend — Dixie’s Blackened Voodoo!

Blackened Voodoo is one of my first beers to buy legally. Back in the day, ol’ Mississippi boys could buy at 18 years old in neighboring Louisiana. The exotic name and sinister label called me forth into the swamp of beer drinking adulthood … or something like that!

But for the crawfish boil, I was simply needing a good pairing for spicy dishes, and the Voodoo was a slam dunk. (I also picked up a six of Dogfish Head. but that’s a different tale). I poured one tonight, so that you could take a look:

Blackened Voodoo is a Schwarzbier, or “black beer” (German dark lager), from the Dixie Brewing Company. The brewery started in 1907 in New Orleans, but couldn’t survive Katrina, the flooding, and the looting. It’s now brewed under contract by Joseph Huber Brewing in Monroe, WI.
But it still tastes Cajun 🙂

When I poured the bottle, it yielded a dark coppery color (like a well circulated penny) and a thick head that dissipated quickly. I smelled straw and brown sugar, with hints of coffee.

My first sip was full of malt and toffee, and a little too sweet on the finish. It was crisp with a pleasant fullness, though not quite full or creamy, resulting in a smooth finish.

Something’s different tonight … I think it’s because I don’t have crawfish!
I find it to be a bit too sweet for drinking alone, but if you’re looking for good beer to complement a spicy dish, I recommend the Blackened Voodoo.

I’ll give it 4 kegs — any less would be bad juju!
4 of 5 Kegs

Beer Guy

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Blonde’s Have More Fun

A few weeks back, WineGirl arrived home with six-pack of a new beer — Leffe Blonde.
It’s a pale ale brewed at the Belgian Abbey of Leffe, and it’s a tasty surprise. I don’t know whether to say “Leff” or “Leffé” (and while I could call it “Kent”, that would only be funny to a few)

Leffe Blonde

The abbey was established in 1152, and the Premonstratensians bought a local brewery in 1240. It prospered until the mid 15th century, when a combination of plague, floods, and finally invasion by Charles the Bold brought it to its knees. The brewery recovered, though finally suppressed by French Republicans in 1796 and ceased production in 1809. The beer that we drink today is from a cooperation between the abbey and a local brewery, started in 1952.

Leffe Blonde is clear and golden in appearance, with a lacy head. (I used a wine glass, as I’m still investing in proper Belgian barware). It smelled yeasty with hints of honey and banana. The first sip was sharp, moderately carbonated, with a pleasant bite on the front of my tongue. I let it warm a bit, and I got more of the sweet honey taste, with a dry finish.
WineGirl and I will definitely buy this again.

I’ll give it 4 kegs
4 of 5 Kegs

Beer Guy

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It’s Chili Weather

It’s in the air.  You’ve no doubt felt it, as have I.  I’ve been waiting for it since it left last spring.  You know what I mean, right?  The CHILL in the air.  It was 37 degrees in the Queen City yesterday morning.  The leaves are turning.  Football is in full swing.  The jeans and light sweaters have been resurrected from the back of the closet.  It’s officially CHILLY outside.  That means…

It’s time for CHILI inside!

Here’s how to make My Momma’s Chili…which just happens to be the best EVER!

First you start browning the beef

If that looks like a lot it’s because I double the recipe.  (It’s always better the next day because the flavors really mesh.  So I like to make sure we’ve got a few days worth prepared.) Meanwhile chop the bell pepper and the onion

(I hate chopping onions and I don’t like big chunks of onion in anything so I cheat and use the Cuisinart Food Processor)

When about half the beef is browned add peppers, onion, and minced garlic and continue to cook until all the beef is browned, then drain.

My mom always cooked this recipe in a soup pot on the stovetop.  In recent years I have found that a slow cooker works just as well…if not better.  So, next transfer the drained beef and veggie mixture to a slow cooker or soup pot, whichever you have or prefer.

Next up are the canned ingredients

(I have dreams of going all Martha, starting a community garden and eventually using my own canned tomatoes for this, but for now TJ’s will do.) First the diced tomatoes

Then the tomato sauce

Then the beans

My mom’s recipe calls for kidney beans, but I am just not a fan of those.  I much prefer black beans so I substitute those.   (I also think that the contrast of the black against the red of the chili base looks prettier.  So it’s really a win-win.)

Next up are the spices

the water (remember, I’m doubling the recipe.)

and the tomato paste.

Then give it a good stir, cover it, and let it cook.  If you are using a slow cooker, put it on the low heat setting.  If you are cooking it on the stovetop, then simmer.  Either way it needs to cook for a couple hours, stirring occasionally, so that all the flavors meld together.  You’ll know it’s ready when it smells fantastic and all the ingredients look homogenized rather than separated in the pot…like this

To serve it you’ll need corn chips and cheese.  I realize that the addition of corn chips is a little “low brow,” but, trust me, it’s worth it.

Cover the bottom of your bowl with the chips, top with a couple ladles of chili, then sprinkle with the shredded cheese.  Personally, I like a few corn chips on the side for added crunch.

Of course you’ll also need a good brew to rinse it down.  I sent the Beer Guy on a beer run and he came back with this deliciousness – Rogue Chipotle Ale.

Many of our favorite beers are from the Rogue Brewing Company and this one has just been added to the list.  I must say, it’s smoky flavor, crisp mouth feel, and slightly heated finish were the perfect accompaniment to the Chili Dinner and the Chilly Weather.

Go ahead make this dinner for yourself and look for this great beer in your area.  Here’s the full recipe

My Momma’s Chili

  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1 can crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne red pepper (or more for spicier chili)
  • 1/8 tsp paprika
  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • 1 green bell pepper (chopped)
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 1 1/2 c water
  • 1 small can tomato paste

Brown meat, onion, pepper, and garlic in a skillet.  Drain.  Add all ingredients into a soup pot or slow cooker one at a time.  Mix well.  Bring to a medium boil. Stir often.  Turn down to low heat.  Simmer.  Cook until all tastes have blended together.  This can simmer all day, just make sure that it is not too fast or too high or it will scorch.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy the warm chili in your tummy while the weather is chilly outside!

Cheers, y’all!
Wine Girl

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Beer Heaven

It has been a fun, but LONG day! We left our friends in Colchester around 8am this morning. Since then we have driven ALL OVER CONNECTICUT…literally!  We’ll recap that in a later post.

After many hours of driving, peeping, eating, taking LOTS o’pics and having a generally good time we eventually landed in the City of Brotherly Love – Philadelphia, PA. Tired, but hungry we took the conceirge’s advice and walked a few blocks down Chestnut Street to grab some sustenance at Triumph, a local microbrewery.

It had a cool vibe and I liked the decor. The brew list was artfully displayed on the wall…

but failed to impress in the glass. We split a sampler

then each decided to have a full pull of the Double Witbier.

Apparently we visited Triumph on some sort of local musician open mic night. Being a singer myself, I typically would have found this to be cool but tonight it was just annoying…especially since the musicians were the only other people patronizing the brewery besides us. Triumph’s saving grace for us were these yummy stuffed mushrooms and mushroom ravioli.

One was an appy, the other an entree. We split them both.

Finished with our munchies and unimpressive brews we decided to head back to the hotel because as BG declared “Life’s too short to drink foamy beer.”

Across the street was a watering hole by the name of Eulogy.

It caught BG’s attention while en route to Triumph because of it’s name. Not wanting to end the day on a bad beer, he requested that we just cross the street “see what they have on draft.” Little did we know…we were about to hit the MOTHER LOAD.

You see that?  THAT is Eulogy‘s BEER MENU.  This is a place that specializes in Belgian Abbey Ales – which just happen to be BG’s favorite beers!  Eulogy had 300 Belgian Abbey Brews available.  He quite literally thought he had died an gone to BEER HEAVEN!

He wasn’t that far off

We were greeted with this sign right inside the door

Now THAT’S a motto we can get behind!  We instantly knew we were in the right place.  Looking around, his eyes gleaming like a kid in a candy store, BG proclaimed -“I want to live here!”

Look at him.  He’s GIDDY!

And no, he’s not double fisting. That’s him bringing each of us a draft back from the bar.  Eulogy also had a unique draft list display playing off the whole monks/abbey motif.

I don’t remember which ones BG sampled, but I had the LaChouffe and the Abbey of Christ Monks Ale. While both were delicious, my favorite was the LaChouffe.

There were so many GREAT beers and we had so little time.  We only got to sample four but as BG said, that was 4 down and 296 to go!  So I think it goes without saying that the next time we are in Philly, we are DEFINITELY heading back to Eulogy!

Cheers, y’all!
Wine Girl

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A week in Beer

The more patient readers will note that, a few weeks back, I announced the new weekly series Beer 101. True to form as a “back to schooler”, I promptly wrote up none of my homework, but drank beer instead 🙂

Seriously, I have been reading my textbooks, and during the last 7 days I’ve tried every new beer that someone would leave within arms reach.

So here is the barley retrospective:

Tuesday night, after a flight to Cincinnati for work, my bearded cohort and I stopped at the local Claddagh Irish Pub for drinks and dinner. First a Strongbow hard cider (always on the lookout for a cider to replace Scrumpy Jacks), and after the fruity fermentation failed to satisfy, I moved on to Smithwicks. This Irish red ale was so good, it even made up for the barman’s surprisingly foul sense of humor (of which, gentle reader, I shall spare thee). I’ll have to find a local source for Smithwicks and continue my education. (Note: the iPhone photo doesn’t do it justice)

Smithwicks in Cincinnati

Then, a few days of work to earn my wage, and we were awaiting sister and new brother (whom we’ll call G and P), from the land of Elvis. Flights were delayed, so we went straight from the airport to our favorite new sushi place — Cyros Sushi, just north of SouthPark Mall. Cyros deserves its very own post, and since WineGirl referred to their Avante Garde Roll as “a bit of heaven in the mouth, that melts into deliciousness”, I’ll let her take up that task.

For drinking at Cyros, I started with another new-to-me brew, Weihenstephan Kristall Weissbier. No, my lips can’t pronounce the name, but they drink the beer just the same. Weihenstephan Brewery, which claims to be the world’s oldest operating brewery (licensed since 1040), started in the Benedictine Abbey of the same name in Bavaria. As the multilingual reader can already tell, it’s named for Saint Stephen. I found it to be quite tasty, and as I must have bought the last half-litre in the bar, this filtered wheat beer will require additional study. I then joined P in quaffing Kirin Ichiban, a solid if conventional sushi sauce.

For a tasty dessert at home, WineGirl had made brownies with goat cheese. Oddly delicious, but again, I’ll defer to her for the write up. Alas, our dessert needed a dessert beer, so I reached into the refrigerated recesses and pulled out a winner. P & G, WG & me … we first split a Chocolate Stout from the Fort Collins Brewery. This brew was a 2010 U.S. Open Beer Championship Gold Medal Winner, and also quite a match for the choco-cheese brownies.

Next, in keeping with the dessert flavor category, I popped a Thomas Creek Stillwater Vanilla Cream Ale. Yum! But now what? hmm … the natives are getting restless, especially with 4oz pours, so out comes a Blackthorn Cider … and New Belgium’s 1554 Enlightened Black Ale … finishing with New Belgium’s Mothership Wit.

And that was all just Friday night. Saturday, we visited the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, which will be written up in a future post, along with Frank the terror of the Brew Tour. We traded pints of the Mecklenburger lager and OMB Copper, and I can’t wait for their upcoming Mecktoberfest on October 2nd. Come support your local brewery!

I picked up a few more offerings to pair with WineGirl’s Korean Short Ribs for Saturday night: Shiner’s Smokehaus and Bad Penny Brown Ale from Big Boss Brewing Company of Raleigh, NC. The Smokehaus is brewed with mesquite-smoked malt, which was brought out even more by the barbecue ribs.

Sunday saw us at Big Daddy’s for lunch with fresh brews, and as P & G flew from CLT, I retired for the evening with Blowing Rock’s High Country Ale.

Here’s a line-up of this weekend’s brews:
Beer Gallery

After this brief “survey course”, I’ll be taking these one at a time to sample and report.

Beer Guy

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