Untappd Is Not A Race: Enjoy The Beer Experience

Burlington Brewing Co.'s Strawberry Whale CakeWHOOMP THERE IT IS!
My 1,000th unique brew check-in using the Untappd app: Burlington Beer Co.’s Strawberry Whale Cake.

I like celebrating just about anything. Especially craft beer related happenings like: Untappd milestones, special beer releases, bottle shares or finding a whale or unicorn beer during beercations. So when my 1,000 check-in was imminent, I started to reflect on the brews I had over the past 2.5 years leading up until this point. Some of them big names: Hill Farmstead, Three Floyds, Mikkeller, Russian River, New England Brewing, Wicked Weed, etc. Some of them hidden gems blazing the path to beer stardom: Pizza Boy Brewing Co., Tired Hands, Draai Laag, Lost Nation.

Not to mention the experiences that went along with the check-ins. I try hard to take in the moment. The food paired with the beer. The places explored. The people I had met. The friendships made.

It had been a good 2.5 years in beer hunting.

I also started to plot and plan exactly what I would drink for my 1,000. All the choices. This was going to be hard to find the perfect selection. It was so exciting thinking about the possibilities and when it was going to happen. (See. I told you. I love to celebrate and plan the experience all out.)

What was unexpected was I kind of felt like I was farther behind in check-ins than some of my other craft beer friends. Yeah, I reached 1,000 but others are already at 1,500. Some even over 2,000. Geez, if only I had started using the app when it was first launched, then maybe I would have a more competitive number. Gosh. I have been drinking craft beer for 21 years. That’s got to count for something, right?!

HOLD UP! WAIT A MINUTE!
I get so competitive sometimes. I know that about myself. It’s certainly no secret. Folks who know me, know how it is. In the past two weeks, I’ve had a self-realization that Untappd is NOT a race. I mean, I certainly didn’t set out using the app with a competition in mind. It just kind of snuck up on me over the years check-in after check-in. “Did I try something really unique?”, “How many brews did I get to try during that beercation or this bottle share?” “Why didn’t I get that badge after this check-in?”

CHECK YOUR HEAD
And, it’s not just me. I find lots of fellow craft beer enthusiasts doing the same thing. Racing to get their check-in tally higher and higher.

Even taking it to the extent of bragging about a beer that they found and taking lots of photos with facial expressions of “envy me because you don’t have access to this beer.” Trying to one up the craft beer drinkers that follow them on Untappd and even on Twitter and Instagram.

Huh? It’s NOT a competition. Glad to see you have a really great beer in hand but don’t make me feel like lesser of a person.

Or even worse, I recently recommended a particular brewery and beers to some folks only for them to later basically tell me, “Meh.” I don’t remember the exact quote but it was something to the effect that they didn’t see what the big deal was and that everything they drank was mediocre. Ouch! That hurt.

Then there’s the Pliny vs Heady battle. Really? Do we really have to argue about beer? Some of these discussions get heated. Insulting one another’s taste in brew.

LOSING MY RELIGION
It got to me so bad that I had a snapping point and I took it to Twitter:

Untappd is NOT a Race
What ensued after that was a great discussion amongst the craft beer community. Ending with the single thought that ‘Beer is NOT a Status Symbol’ and is meant to be enjoyed even savored. They talked me off the ledge.

COME AS YOU ARE
Of course, I want to know what epic beer you’re drinking. And, I want to share my experiences with you, too. But from here on out… for me… I’m not putting much weight on the Untappd check-in tally you have, my friend. I DON’T care if you have 2,000 check-ins or 2 check-ins. I’m also not going to listen to a bunch of banter about how many beers you’ve had at the last bottle share.

What I DO want to hear is what you loved about each beer. Or what you would have liked to have seen in a brew that maybe didn’t tweak your palette. I mean. Do you even remember (really remember) what each tasted like? Probably not.

Better yet. Promise me that you’ll be present and take in the moment of your first sip. Put down your phones. Take note of what is going on around you. What music is playing? What is completely awesome about your surroundings? Who is with you? What do they think about the beer? How does it bring out the flavor of what you’re eating?

Yeah. DO check-in your beer. But don’t forget to enjoy the experience. DON’T simply race through it. And please, just please, DON’T take on a bragging tone when you SHARE with all.

I’m vowing to do the same. After all, I’m not completely innocent when it comes to this topic. I’m guilty of all of the above. But I’m making a conscious effort to be a better craft beer citizen. Will you do the same?


(Follow Me On: Twitter & Untapped: @dzyngrl | Instagram: @dzyngrl14)

Rogue Farms Summer 2015 Crop Report – Interesting Excerpts

So, I really enjoy reading the Rogue Farms crop reports. For some reason, I find it so adorable that they want us all to know how the farms are doing and how it effects their beer production. I’m also a little bit of a secret nerd, and I love learning about their bees, what they plan to grow, what they’re harvesting next, etc. So, I put out a tweet to find out if anyone else cared or wanted me to share what they send me. Turns out you do! Here are a couple of excerpts from their latest report.

HIVE SPLITTING: THE BEES ARE DOING AWESOME!

photo credit: Rogue Farms

Checking on colony strength and locating the queen. Photo credit: Rogue Farms

Andrew, Rogue Farms Deputy Undersecretary of Agriculture: Department Bee, surveyed the colonies and came back with the news we were hoping to hear. After spending winter in the almond blossoms of California, and coming home to a strong nectar flow in spring, our 7,140,289 honeybees are as healthy as we’ve ever seen them. It was time to split the hives and grow more honeybees.

Splitting a hive looks simple – at least on paper. Move the queen and about half the worker bees to a new hive somewhere else on the farm. The split hive grows into two new colonies. Our colonies were strong enough to split several of them, increasing the size of our apiary by another 20 – 30 colonies. All that adds up to more honey we can harvest for our meads, kolsch, braggot and soda.

But what may look simple requires a lot of careful planning and hard work

First, we want to know a colony is strong enough to survive a split. We’ll open a hive to see how crowded it looks. The more bees, the better our odds. If a colony is on the verge of overcrowding, then our timing is as good as it gets. Next, we check for a healthy queen and brood. When the queen moves with the workers, she’ll need to be up to the job of laying hundreds of eggs every day for the new colony to grow to full strength. Some of the brood stays behind. The original colony no longer has a queen, a situation that’s intolerable as far as honeybees are concerned. The remaining workers feed a special substance called Royal Jelly to a select group of eggs, one of which will grow to become the new queen. As long as the workers know a new queen is on the way, they’ll remain calm and carry on. Finally, we move the split hive to a location that’s far enough away so that the honeybees don’t try to return to the original box. Then we put an empty box on top of the hive so the new colony has room to grow.

Hive splitting is our way of helping the honeybees do what comes naturally to them. When a hive becomes overcrowded, the queen and half of the workers depart en masse to find a new home. It’s called swarming, and it’s a normal part of a honeybee’s reproductive cycle. Splitting the hive gives us a say on the timing and allows us to keep the new hives here on the farm.

With the start of the summer nectar flow, our honeybees have an abundance of wild berries, wildflowers and crops awaiting them. Taste our Dream Pumpkins, Prickless Marionberries, Jalapeños and all the other flavors of the farm in the next crop of Rogue Farms Wildflower Honey. At Rogue Farms, we do our part by sending our honeybees south during winter, by planting a diverse group of crops for them to forage and pollinate, and by planting wildflowers so they have even more sources of pollen and nectar. Our honeybees take care of us by producing the honey we use in our beers and sodas. We do our best to take care of them.

PRICKLESS MARIONBERRIES – FOR THE BRAGGOT DUH!

photo credit: Rogue Farms

Planted in May, first berries of the season appeared in July. Photo credit: Rogue Farms

This spring we planted two acres of Rogue Farms Prickless Marionberries. It’s our biggest patch of berries ever. 1602 starters. 1602 holes. All dug, planted and watered by hand. Marionberries are a type of blackberry that originated right across from river from us in Marion County, Oregon. They don’t grow fruit until they’ve experienced a hard frost. Around here, we don’t get that kind of weather until late September, and more likely not until October. So we’ll have nothing to pick from this new planting until next year.

The one thing that drives marionberry farmers crazy are the prickly thorns. They make it harder to harvest and every so often a consumer bites down on one and gets a nasty sting in the mouth. Not exactly good for business. Breeders have been trying to develop thorn-free marionberries for years. They got rid of the thorns, but the berries were small and flavorless. A few years ago, one of our neighbors stumbled across the Holy Grail. Growing in a field he discovered a thornless marionberry that produced excellent fruit. Mother Nature had outsmarted all of the best berry breeders. Rogue Farms is proud to be among a handful of farmers growing his prickless marionberries.

None of this would be possible without the 7,140,289 Rogue Farms honeybees. They’ll pollinate the flowers that grow into marionberries, and bring the nectar back to their hives to produce honey. Only then will Brewmaster John Maier use our marionberries and our honey to craft future batches of Rogue Farms Marionberry Braggot. It’s a long time from planting day to brewing day, but it will be worth it.

JALAPENOS: KEEP THE FIRE AND THE FLAVOR

Left: The first pepper of the 2015 jalapeño crop. Right: John picking peppers from an earlier harvest. Photo credit: Rogue Farms

The last of the ingredients we planted this year was an acre sized patch of Rogue Farms Jalapeños. We started them a while back in the greenhouse. But as they outgrew their tiny pots it was time to move them to where they belong, into the soil next to the Prickless Marionberries, Wigrich Corn and Dream Pumpkins. Look for them along Wigrich Road the next time you head into the farm.

Our secret to growing jalapeños is waiting. Wait until the soil is warm enough and there’s enough sun before planting. Wait even longer for the peppers to fully ripen and turn bright red. Unripe jalapeños are edible and spicy, those are the green ones you see in the grocery store. But we don’t only want spice, we want flavor. So we leave our jalapeños on the plants to mature longer than most growers. The last of the crops we plant is also the last of the crops we pick.

After harvest, we’ll dry the peppers using the kilns here on the farm, the same kilns we used to dry our hops. Then we’ll drive them 77 miles over the Coast Range to the Rogue Distillery in Newport and dry smoke them over fires of cherry and alder. The payoff comes when John uses the peppers we grow, kiln and smoke to brew Chipotle Ale and mash Chipotle Whiskey. It’d be easier and faster to buy someone else’s peppers, or import capsaicin extract from China. But that wouldn’t give us the quality and flavor we want, so we do it ourselves. 

Tree House Brewing Co. & Their Beautiful Brews

A Visit to Tree House Brewing Co. in MassachusettsRemember when I ranted about NEVER going to stand in line for craft beer EVER again after waiting for three whole hours at Hill Farmstead Brewing Co. last summer? Yeah. Well. I did it again. This time at Tree House Brewing Co. in Monson, Massachusetts. It was my first stop during my epic “Chelsie does MA craft breweries while visiting her Mom” trip back in June. I was leery about driving 8 long hours straight until arriving at my destination in Andover, MA which is at the very tippy top of the state. So it made complete sense to take a break from driving and hit up a brewery on the way. After all, Tree House came highly recommended. “A must stop.” “If you go anywhere, go here.” “They have fabulous IPAs”. Ummm. Ok. Sold! My husband and I are both hardcore Hop Heads as well as Beercationers.

We made sure to arrive 30 minutes prior to opening at 5pm since we knew how popular the place was. We thought that would give us ample time to snag our beer and then go grab dinner somewhere on our way to Andover. To our surprise, there had been a line forming for hours outside the brewery before we got there. Once we found a place to park (along side a narrow country road), we scurried to get in line before others who were pulling in in droves made it there first. This line was so incredibly long I just knew we didn’t want 40 more people hopping ahead of us. Take a look:

The line at Tree House Brewing Co.See that woman that I circled in the photo? That was an employee passing out order forms so that folks in line could check off which beers they wanted and in what quantities. Some brews had a quantity limit which was understandable. This wasn’t our first rodeo at Beer Hunting. But we didn’t expect to NOT be able to try anything before ordering. But, hey, this was a great brewery so we weren’t exactly worried. It just would have been nice to try before you buy.

After we marked our selections and turned in our order, we were told an estimated time to wait: 3 hours. Gulp! “What did you say?” “About 3 hours until they call your name with the order fulfilled. But no worries. You don’t have to stand in line the whole time,” she assured us. OK. Phew! I really didn’t want to wait that long but thank goodness we could hang out casually or even leave and come back closer to the time to pick up our brews.

We chose to stay on premise the whole time to explore the surroundings, talk to fellow craft beer lovers and watch the beer-making action in the brewery. But really we were deep-down-inside hoping it would take way less than 3 hours.

(We somehow missed the What To Expect page on the Tree House site which would have prepped us. Or maybe it has been added since our visit. Either way. READ IT!)

Hanging Out & Checking Things Out
It was a gorgeous summer day. No humidity and wispy clouds in the sky made for an enjoyable wait. We learned that Tree House Brewing Co. had just moved into this brand-spankin’-new building earlier this year. It was astonishing to know that although the brewery had started in 2011 that already in 2015 they had to expand to keep up with demand. I just knew this was going to be really great beer! I sported a big, silly expectant grin the whole time. I wouldn’t say I was salivating (OK. Maybe I was.). But I most definitely wanted to dig into this beer the minute we arrived at my Mom’s place.

Until then, I checked out the various planters with baby hop vines twisting their way up twine and admired the soon-to-be-opening tasting room. That cute little building had housed the brewery, store and tasting room at the old location across the street before being transported to its new home here beside the massive new brewery. The tasting room is slated to open sometime this year. There you will be able to get samples, from my understanding. Cool!


TIP: Did you notice the sign: No Open Cans or Full Pours on Premises. Samples Only. Two things to note here. The town’s police department actively patrols the parking lot for people drinking. While there, we saw a police car drive through twice. Do NOT drink your growlers at your car, folks. Secondly, you will not be able to purchase pints of beer at the brewery.


So what about the Tree House? I looked all around hoping to see a tree house. After all the place is Tree House Brewing Co. We learned from Dean, the brewery liason, that just across the parking lot and into the field/wooded area there was an area slated for constructing the tree house and fish pond. Darn! We were going to miss seeing it. No worries. During our next visit, the tree house exploration IS happening. I don’t know. I just have a thing for tree houses.

Speaking of the parking lot. The space is pretty huge. But so many folks show up at the brewery, that you may have to park along the street that the brewery sits on. We ended up doing that and then once the line widdled down after the first hour or so, we moved our car to the spots opening up in the parking lot. Then we didn’t have to trek our filled growlers a distance to where we originally parked.

Gift Shop & Taproom Area
While waiting DO go into the gift shop and taproom to explore merch. I was able to snag a comfy, soft sweat shirt and Derek opted for a t-shirt. We also got to check out the way the orders were being filled at the growler station. It was a work of art at how methodically and quickly they pushed through orders. Well done, ladies and gents. Well done.

To our surprise, one of the patrons was a musician. After a little prodding from the group, he busted out his violin and started to entertain us. So fun!


NOTE: If you have to use the restroom, there are outdoor porta potties. Bring hand sanitizer. There aren’t sinks to wash your hands.


Inside the Brewery
When standing in the taproom area, all you have to do is turn around to literally be in the brewery. It’s roped off of course. But you can get a front row seat at the beer making process. We just missed seeing cans being filled. That was to occur the very next day. Bummer. Until next time, sweet delicious canned beer!

We were told that on canning days, purchases are made so quickly that mid-way through sales the cans are literally being filled, topped and handed to the buyer. Now that’s fresh.

Our selections for this visit included growler fills of Alter Ego (IPA), Julius (IPA), Very Green (DIPA) and Double Shot (Imperial Coffee Stout). The latter I gifted to Miss Tierney since she has an infinity for Stouts. The IPAs were quite delicious and dare I say “World Class.” This is definitely a brewery to seek out.

Westview Farms
Insider Secret:
Just one minute away is a farm, creamery and eatery called Westview Farms. Definitely go there WHILE you are waiting. I wish we had done that instead of waiting until after our order was filled.

I ordered a tuna fish sandwich with curly fries and Derek chose a burger with fresh cut fries. The portions are huge and the food is quite tasty. I especially loved the toasted brioche roll. Who knew such good food was just a minute away? I envied those buying ice cream. I just couldn’t stuff in one more bite, but next time will leave room for mint chocolate chip or perhaps black raspberry.

DO:

  • Come early to get your order form to avoid long waits once the brewery opens
  • Bring a picnic lunch/dinner, non-alcoholic beverages and enjoy the outdoors OR go to Westview Farms for some good eats.
  • Bring a cooler with ice to store your filled growlers
  • Consider toting along folding chairs, umbrella (just in case!) and whatever else will make your wait more comfortable.
  • Dress for the weather and for the amount of time you’ll be hanging out. I recommend sneakers and to dress in layers if you’re not sure if you’ll end up hot or cold.

DON’T:

  • Just show up without checking the brewery hours and release info. Currently, the hours are Thursday & Friday from 5 PM – 8 PM and Saturday from 11 AM – 6 PM.
  • Expect any kind of growler to be filled. You can only fill approved Tree House Brewing Co. growlers. This is “a thing” throughout Massachusetts due to the way the growler fill regulations/law is written and interpreted.
  • Get antsy or disgruntled because you have to wait. Do know that the staff is working as fast and efficiently as possible. It’s a well oiled machine. And, be happy that you don’t have to physically stand in line like at other breweries.

(Follow Me On: Twitter & Untapped: @dzyngrl | Instagram: @dzyngrl14)

Magic Hat Electric Peel and How Much I Hate Moving

Magic Hat Electric Peel and How Much I Hate Moving

So, the lovely folks at Magic Hat were kind enough to send me some Electric Peel to try along with a really adorable and fun matching glass. Unfortunately, it arrived right around the same time that I was moving the Stouts & Stilettos HQ, so it has taken me entirely too long to tell you all about it. I can’t tell you in enough words how much I hate moving, especially when it’s 90 degrees and the end of July. Do you even KNOW how many pint glasses I have? Where am I going to put all of these shoes in the new place? Trust me, there’s a good reason for this whining and backstory.

So, it’s Tuesday, and I had just gotten done packing a billion and one things. I’m sweating, and not in the cute ‘oh I’m just glistening a little on a sunny afternoon’ kind of way. I check my fridge and find a world of options, but did I mention that I’m sweaty? A grapefruit IPA sounds perfectly thirst quenching. Then, I remember that kick ass glass that I have that matches and I can’t wait to use it because #ProperGlassware. I go to get it out of the box it was safely about to be transported in … and this is where it goes south.

Magic Hat Electric Peel and How Much I Hate Moving

Rest in pieces, Electric Peel glass. I haven’t moved a single object out of my home and I’ve already broken one pint glass. How many more casualties will there be in The Move of 2015? Only time will tell, but until then #HideYoKidsHideYoGlassware.

Magic Hat Electric Peel and How Much I Hate Moving

Broken glass or not, I’m drinking this beer. I pull out another glass and pour myself a cold one. I find the color to be immediately pleasing – a nice goldenrod hue – and then bring it up to my face to smell. Immediately you get the aroma from the grapefruit, like someone was cutting one in my kitchen right then and there. The taste? Exactly as you’d expect – a pile of grapefruit. Not too complex, not too fancy, perfect for those who really like grapefruit in their beer. I found this to be incredibly easy to drink as I mourned the loss of a kick-ass pint glass and it definitely cooled me off. With the dog days of summer rolling in, this isn’t a bad option to keep handy for a sweaty day.

ps, I can’t hear the name of this beer without hearing this song:

Stats:
Magic Hat Electric Peel IPA with Grapefruit
6.2% ABV
65 IBU
Hops: Apollo, Centennial & Chinook

Disclosure: I received a bottle of the beer mentioned above from Magic Hat Brewing as part of their press kit. Stouts and Stilettos is not affiliated with Magic Hat Brewing and received no compensation in exchange for promotion or review.

Brewer’s Association Reports Continued Growth for Mid-Year 2015

brewersassociation logo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Boulder, COJuly 27, 2015—The craft brewing industry has continued a strong pace of growth in the first half of 2015, according to new mid-year data released by the Brewers Association (BA)—the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American craft brewers. American craft beer production volume increased 16 percent during the first half of the year.

From January through the end of June 2015, approximately 12.2 million barrels of beer were sold by craft brewers, up from 10.6 million barrels during the first half of 2014.

“Industry growth is occurring in all regions and stemming from a mix of sources including various retail settings and a variety of unique brewery business models,” said Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association. “The continued growth of small and independent brewers illustrates that additional market opportunities and demand are prevalent, although competition in the sector is certainly growing and the need for brewers to differentiate and produce world class high quality beer is more important than ever.”

As of June 30, 2015, 3,739 breweries were operating in the U.S, an increase of 699 breweries over the same time period of the previous year. Additionally, there were 1,755 breweries in planning. Craft brewers currently employ an estimated 115,469 full-time and part-time workers, many of which are manufacturing jobs, contributing significantly to the U.S. economy.

Brewer's Association Reports Continued Growth for Mid-Year 2015

“More and more Americans are discovering the joys of enjoying fresh beer produced by their neighborhood brewery. By supporting local, small and independent craft breweries, beer lovers are gradually returning the United States to the system of localized beer production that existed for much of our nation’s history,” added Watson.

Craft brewer definition: An American craft brewer is small, independent and traditional. Small: Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3 percent of U.S. annual sales). Beer production is attributed to the rules of alternating proprietorships. Independent: Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member that is not itself a craft brewer. Traditional: A brewer that has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation. Flavored malt beverages (FMBs) are not considered beers.

Women in Craft Beer: Kim Jordan

Women in Craft Beer; KIm Jordan

This past weekend at #BBC15 the amazing Kim Jordan gave the keynote speech. Oh, and I met her! Listening to her describe what it was like starting New Belgium and what their future holds was definitely one of the biggest highlights of the weekend and conference.

New Belgium started small like many breweries, in this case they were making and packaging beer in their basement. Many scoffed at their Belgian-style brews, and Jordan says it was always an uphill battle, but one she wasn’t going to give up. She shared a story of Michael Jackson visiting the early stages of the brewery and advising against some of their Belgian sours. She shared the story of entering their beer at GABF and there wasn’t a category of Belgian beers. They pushed onward, and look at where they are now.

In a life before New Belgium, Jordan was a social worker, and she’s not scared to tell you that New Belgium didn’t have a business plan when they started.

“If we can just sell 90 cases a week, I think we can make this thing work. Making beer in the basement. You just keep plugging away. What are we going to do, give up and go back to day jobs?”

When New Belgium did their first collaboration, the TTB didn’t know what to do. There had been no precedent set for this. Breweries in the US weren’t collaborating yet, let alone working with Belgian breweries like Oud Beersel. Now, Transatlantique Kriek tells the story of how they forged away the way they wanted to do it.

Jordan says they like to tell a variety of stories through beer, but they always do it with integrity. Their business has core company values, and Jordan says:

“We have the voice to be an advocate for things we think are important. We try not to be too preachy about it (their company values) but it’s important to us”

Specifically, their focus revolves around renewable energy, proudly being employee-owned, and supporting and advancing marriage equality. Jordan says they have been providing domestic partnership benefits for 20 years, because it meant that much to them.

Women in Craft Beer Kim Jordan

She seemed to be as grateful to talk to us as we were to hear her. She commended us on our unyielding dedication and passion for craft beer.”You guys are the ones connecting the dots, creating a story collectively.” In her eyes,

“we are collectively making this brand of craft beer as a whole. Local and small is really compelling for people, and competition makes each brewery stronger. It’s a good thing. It makes us say ‘what do we need to do that’s fresh and promising our customers a really good beer experience.'”

When asked about the advantages and disadvantages of being a woman in a a sea of men, Jordan was concise on what her thoughts were on the current state of affairs:

[It’s] subtle yet pervasive in a way that well-meaning men don’t even realize that they just said something that … ‘you didn’t really just say that did you’. I have a personality that lively and outspoken. I have no regrets. But, I don’t want to discount that sometimes women are sitting there thinking ‘wow we just kind of got shoved aside’.”

At the end of the session I was delighted to be able to shake hands with a true pioneer in our industry. I consider Jordan to be a positive role model for many girls and women alike regardless of whether you’re a beer-lover or not. It was an honor to hear her speak so highly of us all, and an even greater honor to meet her personally.

 

A Trip to Smuttynose Brewing Co.

Smuttynose Brewing Company
I’m a beach loving gal. Yeah. My pasty white skin burns easily, but there’s nothing like sitting on the beach and watching the waves crash in. The smell of the ocean air. The breeze that cools you off on a hot summer day. And, of course the seafood restaurants that have the freshest of the fresh catch’s of the day. So it’s no wonder I ended up making a stop at Hampton Beach in New Hampshire while visiting family in northern Massachusetts.

The goal was to hit the beach, get a lobster roll and enjoy the beautiful summer weather. All of that happened. It was a gorgeous day. The only thing missing? CRAFT BEER!!!

Lucky for me, Smuttynose Brewing Company was just a short 15 minute drive from the beach. This day was just about to get over-the-top awesome. I had had one or two brews from Smuttynose in the past and thought they were decent but I never expected what I was about to experience and drink.
Smuttynose Brewing Company
THE CAMPUS
As we drove up to the building we were in awe of the newly constructed, fabulously designed campus that has a 40,000 square feet brewery, an upscale farm style restaurant, a functioning 14 acre farm with bee hives, fruit trees and hop vines as well as outdoor space for a beer garden and 9-hole disc golf course (which I believe currently are a work in progress).


FUN FACT:
The new home for Smuttynose Brewing Co. cost approximately $24 million dollars and sits on one of the oldest farms in the surrounding areas: Towle Farm.


 

Smuttynose BeerTHE NEW BREWERY
I had no idea Smuttynose was in it to win it since 1994. It just isn’t a craft brew brand that is readily available where I live. To have 21 years under your belt is a huge accomplishment in this and any competitive industry.

You could definitely see, taste and experience the skill of this seasoned brewery. Although we didn’t opt for a brewery tour, we were able to see a good bit of the set up through glass walls after you walk into the building. The tasting room was situated in the fermentation tank area. You literally were drinking in a roped off area IN the brewery which I thought was pretty intriguing. It felt like you were a part of the team brewing beers among the two story, 270 barrel tanks. I pretended I was the quality assurance director and made an honest effort at trying EVERYTHING on tap. You know. To make sure it was all suitable for public consumption. (wink. wink.)

I really didn’t expect to encounter so many varieties on tap. And, for free. Yes. You heard right. No charge to taste up to 5 selections (4 here in the Taproom and 1 at the bar in the Restaurant). Samples were a generous pour, I’m guessing 4 ounces. My husband and I split up the tap list between the 8 choices we could collectively get here in the taproom. I drank half the cup then he drank the other half. There were up to 12 choices on the tap list. Classics like Old Brown Dog, Finestkind IPA as well as Robust Porter were present. We especially enjoyed some of the funkier selections like Daily Brett, Smuttlabs Baja Hoodie, and Smuttlabs Gose.

Earth-friendly
The goal when building the new brewery was more than increasing production capability. Smuttynose strives to be energy-efficient and kind to their natural surroundings.

Energy Efficient Brewing

  • Spent grains are sent to local farmers for their animals to eat to reduce waste.
  • Two of the current buildings were re-purposed from other locations – “upcycled”, if you will. The buildings being the house the restaurant occupies and the barn that will be used in the future.
  • Energy efficient brewing processes and equipment were installed like a Heat Recovery Chiller, Carbon Dioxide Vaporizer, Variable Frequency Drives, Krones Brewing Process and Anaerobic Digester.
  • LED lights are installed throughout to save on electricity.

To learn more about these and other ways Smuttynose Brewing Company is reducing their global footprint, visit the Sustainability page on their website.

THE RESTAURANT – HAYSEED
To get our last free sample, we had to head over to the 1870’s Victorian House that was re-purposed into a farm style restaurant called Hayseed. It sits just a small walk across the parking lot from the brewery. The interior was cozy and comfortable with a mash up of vintage and modern decor. It struck a very balanced sleek and inviting vibe. Lots of natural light streams through the windows and illuminates the dining room and bar.

The Beers
The food flying by us looked amazing and the bar… well… let’s just say my eyes about popped out of my head when I saw the tap list. There were 20 classic and rare Smuttynose beers on tap (including some from Smuttlabs). Plus, 7 “guest taps” from the likes of Stone, Ommegang, Firestone Walker, Lagunitas and Sierra Nevada.

Hayseed - Farm to Table Restaurant
Once we bellied up to the bar, we were greeted quickly and were on our way to enjoying more brews. So many options to choose from! It took me quite awhile to decide. Our bartender was incredibly helpful, friendly and knowledgeable about everything on tap. Various sized glasses were available so you could make your own flight if you wanted to continue with “sampling” or you could commit to a full pint with a selection you wanted to spend some time savoring. Pricing for each size was very reasonable.

IMG_6097b
I chose “Hayseed” for my last of 5 free samples – your 5th is a 7 ounce pour. Nice! Hayseed is a saison made exclusively as the house brew for the restaurant. I continued on with small pours so I could make the most of exploring new beers. And, let me say that I was impressed with the quality of the beers and the diversity of styles. This coming from a very picky “taster”. I thoroughly enjoyed them all.

Hayseed Restaurant - Devilled Duck EggsThe Food
Although we had other dinner plans later in the evening, I couldn’t resist ordering the decadent Deviled Duck Eggs. They were slightly larger and richer in flavor than chicken eggs. The kicker? Crumbled bacon was folded into the creamy, whipped yolks. I could have seriously eaten a dozen myself.

Next time we visit (because there WILL BE a next time!) we are eating here all day. Well maybe not all day. But I’m going to be trying a lot more from this delicious restaurant!

> View the Menu

THE GIFT SHOP
We couldn’t leave without some merch and beers from the gift shop. We picked up a few bottles of things we didn’t get to try during our visit and added in a couple of gifts for folks back home. There were a ton of things available for purchase – tap handles, frisbees, shirts, hats, cases of beer, individual bottles of beer, glassware and much more!

All in all it was a wonderful time. When we come back to visit, I’m definitely going to take the brewery tour, have a full course dinner at Hayseed and hopefully sit in the outdoor beer garden once it’s completed. If you guys get there and experience these things before I do, please be sure to share in the comments below. Cheers and happy travels!


(Follow Me On: Twitter & Untapped: @dzyngrl | Instagram: @dzyngrl14)

Live Beer Blogging – 12 Beers in 60 Minutes at #BBC15

Live Beer Blogging - 12 Beers in 60 Minutes at #BBC15

So, I went into this ‘speed-dating’ style beer tasting really thinking I was prepared. I had all the breweries names with links ready to go, just fill in the beers and pics then press post at the end and keep it moving. Boy was I wrong.

For those who weren’t in attendance at the Beer Bloggers Conference for the Live Beer Blogging session, let me try to explain the insanity of what happened. The concept is fantastic: ~8 bloggers sit at a table with tasting glasses and devices, brewers bring their wares around for your to try, ask questions, etc. and then you share your findings with everyone. The kicker is that every 5 minutes the brewers rotate so you have a limited time to get the information that you need as well as drink however much beer you poured yourself.

At first when they would start rotating I would just down whatever I had left in my glass. After about the 4th rotation I started dumping instead. Yes, I dumped out beers. It was frantic! I remember trying to check in my beer, take tasting notes, take a picture of it, and be engaged with the brewery representative and don’t forget to drink it…all that the same time. I was flustered. It was intense. IT WAS A BLAST!

So, what did I drink and what did I learn? Read on:

Live Beer Blogging - 11 Beers in 60 Minutes at #BBC15

Big Boss Brewing Co., Raleigh, NC
Hell’s Belle, 7% Belgian Pale Ale
Strong bold banana flavors. Big Boss first made this beer 10 years ago

Duck Rabbit Craft Brewery, Farmville, NC
Milk Stout, 5.7%
The Duck Rabbit Craft brewery specializes in dark beer with the ‘lightest beer they make’ being their amber ale. They been doing this for 11 years. I asked about the Duck/Rabbit logo and who saw the duck vs the rabbit (I see the rabbit for the record). I was told that the owner used to be a philosophy professor and that the Duck/Rabbit idea comes from this background.

Live Beer Blogging - 11 Beers in 60 Minutes at #BBC15

Front Street Brewery, Wilmington, NC
Absurdity, 9.1% Belgian IPA
This brew is rockin Montueka & Amarillo hops. Has a tangerine, bready flavor backed by a crunchy hop finish. This is one of their 22 seasonal offerings. Sara asked why it wasn’t a double IPA even though it’s 9.1%. Their brewery rep advised us that this is due to the low amount of malt used, and that the yeast made the high ABV. This is something I never considered thinking about, maybe something to muse on in the future.

Live Beer Blogging - 11 Beers in 60 Minutes at #BBC15

Fullsteam Brewery, Durham, NC
Summer Bail Farmhouse, 5% Farmhouse Ale with basil
This brew was made to celebrate the farm and food traditions of the South. It originally was a test batch, but it was such a huge hit they kept it. The beer changes throughout the season due to the variation of the herb – basil in May isn’t the same as August. The beer evolves as it’s made with real ingredients. made to remind people that beer is agriculture. Plow to Pint. With their beers Fullsteam works to create wealth and economic opportunities for farms n a post-tobacco North Carolina, and want to be a representative for the South. Also, it tastes like summer in a can, and definitely came home to PA with me.

Highland Brewing Co., Asheville, NC
King MacAlpin, 10.2% DIPA
Highland is the oldest and largest brewery in NC and has been operating for 21 years. Hollie, their new brewery, was excited to introduce this new beer. It’s got #AllOfTheHops, 2.5 lbs of hops per barrel.
Live Beer Blogging - 11 Beers in 60 Minutes at #BBC15

Innovation Brewing, Sylva, NC
Beet & Basil Pale Ale
80 fresh beets from the farmers market and fresh basil from their own garden give this beer a stellar level of uniqueness. Smell like straight up sticky icky but tastes like dirt aka beets. Bittered with warrior and no aromatic hops added. The basil is added during fermentation. The end result is a bright red beautifully unique beer.

Live Beer Blogging - 11 Beers in 60 Minutes at #BBC15

Lonerider Brewing Co., Raleigh, NC
Tres Vaqueros, 9.5% Oak Barrel Aged Belgian Tripel
Bready, oak flavors, hint of peppercorn. I really wanted more oak from this. I didn’t have a lot of notes on this as it was close to the end of the session and I was losing focus.

The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, Charlotte, NC
Copper, 4.8% Altbier
Olde Mecklenburg Brewery makes no IPAs, no stouts, and only makes olld style ales authentic German ales. Their hoppiest beer is 35 IBUs. This altbier was perfectly balanced and would be great on that first crisp fall night.

Trophy Brewing Co., Raleigh, NC
Trophy Wife, 5.1% American Pale Ale
How is this beer this dank and only 5.1%? No bittering hops are used in this beer, and you can tell. It is aggressively dry-hopped with amarillo and mosaic. Easy to drink with huge flavor.

Live Beer Blogging - 11 Beers in 60 Minutes at #BBC15

White Street Brewing Co., Wake Forest, NC
Hoptimist, 7.5% IPA
White Street Brewing specializes in very clean beers and are heavily focused on quality and consistency. Hoptimist was awesome with fantastic flavors of mango and tropical fruits.

Wicked Weed Brewing, Asheville, NC
I don’t even know. Were they even there? I don’t have any notes, but I did visit their brewery so more on them at a later date.

NoDa Brewing Co, Charlotte NC
Hop Drop n Roll, 7.2% IPA
This be is hops on hops on hops! Chinook, centennial, amaraillo, citra all shoved in at 3 lbs hops/barrel. Super delicious.

Giveaway: 2 Tickets to Decked Out Live! @ Brewery at Hershey

Giveaway: 2 Tix to Decked Out LIive @ Brewery at Hershey

You like free things right? How about two passes to any Decked Out Live of your choice? Don’t know about Decked Out Live? From now through September 26, 2015 the Brewery (and Vineyard) at Hershey host local bands every Friday night and it’s a kick-ass party every time! While you’re there you can grab their house-made brews by the pint, pitcher, or growler and get your dancing shoes on with friends. They also have a winery on-site for those who aren’t in the mood for a beer, available by the glass or bottle. Every Friday Decked Out Live is packed, but if you win you and a friend are going in for free! Enter using the rafflecopter below, and we’ll pick a winner Thursday 7/24/15. Tickets are a $10 value each.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DuClaw’s Beers of Summer – Food Ideas and Tasting Notes

DuClaw's Beers of Summer - Food Ideas and Tasting NotesDuClaw Brewing Company, located in Baltimore MD, is only about an hour and a half from home base here in in Harrisburg. They launched in our local area three summers ago and won my heart from that day forward. When I say they’re good people, I mean they’re good people. You may know some of their flagships like Serum, Bare Ass Blonde, and Sweet Baby Jesus or even there rarer offerings like Collassus or the Divine Retribution series. This past week I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying two of DuClaw Brewing Company’s summer beers: Morgazm and Funk. Neither of these beers are new to me, but it had definitely been awhile since I revisited each one.

DuClaw's Beers of Summer - Food Ideas and Tasting Notes

Morgazm, named after Ms DuClaw Morgan herself is a summer blonde infused with grapefruit zest creating a crisp and refreshing summer brew. It clocks in at an easy drinking 5% and is made for a summer afternoon of grilling. Oh, and I drank one as a shower beer and found that to be great as well! Expect flavors of, well, grapefruit. It’s slightly bitter, but well-balanced.

It’s been a hectic week for me preparing for the Beer Bloggers Conference, and being pressed with time but flush with tomatoes, I decided to keep it simple and chose a different route for my Morgazm – I had one with fresh homemade pizza. Let me just say this – the citrus and slight bitterness of the beer mixed with the sweet backyard tomato sauce seemed to just work out perfectly. I can also see this beer pairing well with spicy fish tacos, or even Thai takeout if you’re feeling lazy. If you’re open-minded, you can probably have a Morgazm with just about anything.

DuClaw's Beers of Summer - Food Ideas and Tasting Notes

Funk is still one of my favorite DuClaw brews. Funk is an American Wheat Ale infused with blueberries and Meyer lemons creating a perfectly balanced, not-to-sweet summer dessert beer also at 5%. I love that it actually tastes like blueberry, not blueberry flavor.

Inspired by the floats at Zeroday Brewing using blueberry soda, I decided to go all out and participate in #TreatYoSelf2015 by making a beer float with this bad boy while listening to Parliament because WE WANT THE FUNK. Yes, that’s right, a beer float. I love using beer in floats, and I couldn’t believe how delicious this was together. Diet be damned, I even went back for seconds. If you’re not really feeling dessert though, I could also see this beer pairing wonderfully with a crisp summer citrus salad, or grilled pork chops + asparagus.

DuClaw's Beers of Summer - Food Ideas and Tasting Notes

I highly recommend each of these beers if you haven’t tried them before, and if you have, I’m curious to know what you would pair with each. Be sure to comment below and let us know!

Disclosure: Product was provided to me by DuClaw Brewing Company, and I received promotional consideration by DuClaw Brewing Company in conjunction with this post.

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