Monthly Archives: December 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all!snowI hope you all have a wonderful, blessed day with family and friends.chrishmash

Isaiah 9:6
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

am20Merry Christmas!

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Home for Christmas

I have eleven days to spend in Colorado! This nice extended vacation has been punctuated with shots of Dayquil, Local Celestial Seasonings Echinacea tea and spicy foods in attempts to fight off this awful bug I brought with me. Sorry, family! Hope you stay healthy!
am6There’s still snow in spots on the ground outside as I type, and the promise of more snow hangs in the air just over the mountains out the back window. I might actually be blessed enough to have a white Christmas!
am1I brought a few pre-Christmas gifts with me. Ora Tamir, the artist I used to work for, finally got the finished product of her book!
am2Ora and I spent months working on this thing, and it turned out perfectly!
am3So happy and proud!
am5I even got my quote published in the book next to my favorite piece! I’m officially a published editor and author. Awesome.
am8The second day I was here, my mumsie and I met up with our best friends from way back when I was in elementary school at the Chocolate Cafe in downtown Fort Collins.
am12Exquisite caramel cappuccino for my bestie Michelle. Unsweetened jasmine tea for the virus-ridden me.
am14Grilled cheese (quite sad compared to anything from Custom Melt’s menu) and creamy tomato basil soup split with my mumsie.
am15Chicken gnocchi soup for me.
am13Michelle and her mom split the key lime pie. I was dying to try their chocolate ravioli or toffee brownie, but was too full to even attempt it. Luckily I have plenty of time to head back for another go.
am17Of course I couldn’t get through more than a few days without visiting a brewery. Loveland Aleworks opened July 4th of this year in the quaint downtown Loveland.
am21Clean and spacious with a high stack of board games. I could see myself settling in here for a few hours playing “Fact or Crap” while the snow falls outside.
am16My pops, brother and I split a flight of everything. I got the last sip in attempts not to infect them both.
am19We got these ten brews, plus a taster from the cask.
am18My favorite of them all was the Russian Imperial Stout. Thick and dark as motor oil and full of sweet dried fruits and rich chocolate. A perfect winter warmer at 9.5%ABV. I didn’t have a single beer here that I didn’t like! I’ll be going back for some more tasters and a tour during my stay this week. I have quite a few tours on the schedule, actually, so keep an eye out for those recaps!

I’m off to bake Christmas cookies, take more shots of cough medicine and drink some nice, hoppy brews in an attempt to battle whatever is raging war inside my lungs. If you’re looking for an amazing Christmas morning breakfast recipe, check out my Savory Christmas Bread Pudding. You won’t regret it.
am20Merry Christmas Eve!

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Beer ‘n Wings Night

One evening I was sitting at home after a long day’s work, in desperate want of buffalo wings and a good craft beer to pair with them. I opened my computer, went into Facebook and created the group “Beer ‘n Wings“. Once a week a group of friends and brewery regulars (who are now friends) get together at a new spot and test out the wings and taps, in search of the best in the state. So far we’ve hit up Hooters (twice), the Dugout, Arkaine’s, Brendan’s Irish Pub in Newbury Park, BJ’s in Westlake, Wood Ranch and our latest destination: CUSTOM MELT!!!
amThe owners of Custom Melt, Phil and Thomas, offered to host our latest wings night. Thomas specially prepared out-of-this-world wings drenched in his own creation of sauces. Thomas and Phil, thank you so much for going out of your way for us!
AMImportant things first – chips and cheese and BEER! Firestone Double DBA on tap? Yes. Sweet toffee malts balanced out with rich, earthy oak and topped off with a touch of hop bitterness. 12%ABV. Yes.
AM1First up were the spicy wings. Tender, succulent and a hearty kick of spice at the end. The second – chipotle barbecue wings. Smoky and sweet. The third?
AM2A combination of the spicy sauce with the chipotle barbecue. This was everyone’s favorite and made for a PERFECT pairing with the Double DBA. The ribbons of caramel in the malts complimented the sugar in the sauce and tamed the flame while the oak danced with the smokiness of the chipotle making each bite and sip taste like more. Okey, now I’m hungry again.
am8We had a lovely group of nine craft beer and wing enthusiasts. When people heard that Custom Melt was hooking us up, they raced to sign up. This place is HOT within the people of Moorpark for good reason!
am3Enough pictures, time to eat more.
am4Good job, John. We went through THIRTY POUNDS of wings that night! I’m quite proud of the nine of us accomplishing this grand feat.
am7Of course we had to end with an official dessert. Daniel Irons – Missoura style! Enegren Brewing’s Daniel Irons Oatmeal Stout with a splash of coffee, topped with whipped cream and another dash of rich stout.
am5Delicate aroma with hints of vanilla, robust cocoa and a touch of coffee.
am6This message was approved by Chris Enegren.

Now the question that awaits us all – where do we go first in the new year?

I’m off to Colorado for eleven days of breweries, beer, brewery tours, family, Christmas, beer and breweries! Keep up with my Twitter, Facebook and blog for updates throughout the upcoming week!


Filed under beer pairing, Restaurant Review

Panera Soup

It’s two and a half days into the work week and I’ve spent two of them in walk-in coolers. Nine hours a day in walk-in coolers that are an average temperature of anything between 35-41 degrees. Did I mention it was raining outside, so every time I entered the walk-in I had little droplets of water turn to ice? A slight exaggeration, perhaps, but holy crap it was cold. Needless to say, I was in desperate need of anything that would help me thaw out for lunch.

Enter – free lunch from Panera! I received a gift card from both Panera and the Tastemakers Outreach program to go and check out the new soups on the menu. Although I received a gift card, all opinions are my own, yadda yadda yadda.

Alongside freezing my ass off, I’ve also been graced with a lovely cold. Chicken soup to the rescue!

I ordered the “You Pick 2” combo with the Sierra Turkey sammich and the homestyle chicken noodle soup (apparently low-fat? I didn’t agree to that!).
amI gotta admit, the sammich was a little disappointing. While I absolutely LOVE Panera’s bread, I was hoping that the ratio of meat, onions and field greens would be a little more on par. And now I’m realizing that my normal order there is the delicious and evenly proportioned Asiago Roast Beef sammich… Dagnabit.
am1The soup – this is where it gets delicious. Piping hot, full of soft egg noodles, tender chicken, carrots and onions. I still find it hard to believe that it’s only 80 calories based on how wonderfully comforting it was. I wish I’d gotten a bigger size of this in one of their freshly baked bread bowls. Perhaps the next time I’m stuck in gigantic freezers I’ll do just that – oh wait, that’s tomorrey…
am2A big thanks to Panera and Daily Food Buzz for feeding this cold, hungry girl. I’m very grateful for the short-lived thawing of my insides.

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Apricot Lane Farms

Last week the Enegren Brewing Crew was invited to visit a local biodynamic farm – Apricot Lane.
Screen shot 2012-12-16 at 3.08.04 PMSource

John and Molly Chester, the managers and owners, had come into the brewery the week before to try the beers and after learning that they ran this soon-to-be certified organic farm, I threatened to withhold serving them any more beer unless given the option to go see the place. They readily agreed.
amJohn and Todd, his beautiful blue-eyed pup, greeted us at the barn.
AM1We immediately occupied ourselves with petting the guardians of the sheep – Basil and Sage. They spend days and nights protecting the sheep and goats from devilish, hungry coyotes.
AM2These Great Pyrenees were ridiculously filthy and affectionate. Those two things combined made for some dirty jeans when they jumped on you. Well worth it.
AM3We were introduced to the sheep next. This is Special. Special is…well, special. He was born with an unknown neurological disorder and has difficulties standing and walking, but has managed to overcome the odds so far and survive.AM4Brie took an immediate liking to the little guy.
AM5The goats were roaming around in the same pasture.
AM6“Hey. Hey, whatcha got there?”
AM7“Can I…can I see it?”
AM8“Can I…can I eat it?”
AM9We left Special asleep in the sun and trekked over to the barn.
AM10Inside the big barn we came across these giants. Highland cattle – the baby in the background is being weaned from her mama, so she lives with her aunt for the time being.
AM11Next up were the chicks. The cute phase above…
bbThe not as cute teenage phase…
AM12And the grown-up phase. These lucky chickens have a HUGE green pasture they roam about as well as a handmade coop they can seek shelter in. This farm has about ten to fifteen volunteers, known as WWOOFers, who live on the farm for three months at a time and are given room and board in exchange for working and learning about organic lifestyles. Interested? Check out WWOOF for more information. I’m quite tempted to go for it myself…
AM13Johnny and Frankie are the two draft horses of the farm. They’ll be pulling the carriage about the farm once Apricot Lane begins giving tours. I’m just gonna put this out there now, but if there need to be any trial runs, I’m willing to help out and ride along…
AM14How photogenic is he?
AM16We rode up the hill on the back of the farm’s electric carts and took in the beautiful view.
AM17Mama Highland and her hubs. Apparently she’s not very friendly to begin with, but now that her baby has been separated from her while she weans, she’s really pissed off. We kept our distance. Those horns don’t look like much fun to deal with.
AM18The edge of the farm has yet another amazing view. The EBC crew was completely bowled over by how beautiful this place is.
AM19Todd, gazing out over the horizon, keeping an eye out for coyotes.
AM20We hopped back on the shuttle and were taken on a tour of the rest of the farm. 130 acres of fruit trees – apricots, apples, cherries, pluots, apriums, avocados and dozens of other varieties.
Screen shot 2012-12-16 at 3.49.36 PM(Picture taken from Apricot Lane Farm’s Facebook)
John and Molly (and Mallory), thank you so much for showing us your beautiful farm, AND for the most delicious eggs I’ve ever tasted. I can’t wait to go back and visit again – soon!

Check out Molly’s blog Organic Spark for amazing photography, recipes and details on how to live an organic lifestyle.


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Custom Melt – Breakfast Edition

I haven’t given Custom Melt the full post it deserves yet – mainly because I end up devouring my sammich before I remember that I should be taking pictures. Last Sunday, they began serving breakfast. I was happy to be the first in line.
am1Beckers wantin’ brekkers!
amI’ll admit that I was extremely tempted to get a Crispy Chicken sammich (my current go-to/obsession) but was talked out of it by my dining companion.
am4A view of the counter where the magic happens. And take my word, this place creates magic!
am2We started out with the necessities. Coffee…
am3And breakfast chips! Delicate fried tortillas sprinkled with cinnamon sugar!
am6Commander Matt got the Breakfast Brioche. Choose ham, bacon or sausage? CHOOSE? No, I made him get all three.
am7Instructions: Crush sammich with fist and slice in half. Not quite as pretty-looking but this is, without a doubt, the BEST breakfast sammich either of us has ever consumed. The lemon aioli adds a tangy, glorious twist to your not-so-traditional breafkast sammich, slicing through the rich cheeses and creamy egg yolk. More, please.
am8I went for one of my all-time favorite breakfast dishes and got the pastrami hash topped with two over-easy eggs. Perfectly seasoned soft potatoes laced with hints of pepper and studded with thick chunks of pastrami. Absolutely wonderful, but I’m still hooked on that freaking sammich. Dang, now I want another one…
am5After breakfast, we realized that plain and simple coffee Just. Wouldn’t. Do it.
am9Oh yes. Coffee + Daniel Irons Oatmeal Stout + whipped cream + a little more Daniel Irons = THIS. Out of this world goodness! And it has oatmeal in it, so it’s officially a breakfast beer!

WHEN you go into Custom Melt, ask for a Daniel Irons – Missoura Style. If Thomas and Phil give you a blank look, tell them you want the coffee/stout thing that Matt and Becki are obsessed with. That oughta do it.


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Ladies at Ladyface: 18

The Christmas season is upon us! Ladies at Ladyface had our (now annual) White Elephant gift exchange and were treated to a mini-brewmaster dinner by the lovely host and owner, Cyrena.
ERMAHGERD. The absolute perfect winter menu. I’ve been begging for shortribs since they disappeared last winter!
The first beer up was one of my all-time Ladyface favorites – Derailleur!
Arugula, sliced apple, candied almonds and salty Fourme d’ Ambert tossed with a light cider vinaigrette. The citrus in the beer cut through the saltiness of the funky cheese and brought out the acidity of the dressing. Drool.
Ale-braised beef shortribs with a fried sweet pickles atop horseradish celeriac. This was paired with La Trappistine – smoky shortribs and sweet dark malts laced with alcohol warmth. A cozy blanket on a plate (and in a glass).
The pairing was capped off with a cheesecake topped with sour cherries. The sour cherry brown ale wasn’t quite ready, so they mixed cherry cordial liqueur with Picture City Porter. Holy Heaven. This was the highlight of the evening for me – hints of sweet cherries swirling between ribbons of rich chocolate and rounding out with a final candy bite.
In between bites we picked up our gifts. The table was overflowing with beer and beer-related gifts. I ended up with the only kind of glass I didn’t yet have in my large beer glassware portfolio, and I’m telling you now, I have a majority of the styles of beer glasses out there. Just waiting to receive my passglass for Christmas.
(Hint hint)
It was yet another wonderful evening with a great group of craft beer-geek ladies.
Yep, this sums us up pretty well.Our next meeting will be January 21st – a brown bag quiz. Blind tasting for style along with socializing, laughing, imbibing and eating. In other words – another perfect night awaits us in the new year!

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My Favorite Colorado Breweries

My Favorite Colorado Breweries (that I’ve actually visited in person. I’m not intentionally ignoring you, Avery or Left Hand! In fact, I’ll be there very soon for a visit!)

It’s a couple of weeks overdue, but here’s a recap of my short-but-sweet trip to Colorado!
I fell in love with Funkwerks the last time I visited, and since then they won Best Small Brewery of the Year at GABF!
The fam and I grabbed two flights of tasters and enjoyed the gentle warmth of sunshine that cut through the slight chill hanging in the air.
It was very uncrowded – not surprising considering it was the middle of the day on a Wednesday. We shared the tasting room with one group of pub jumpers.
I bought a few souvenir bottles to enjoy. Pricey, but (hopefully) worth it. I haven’t gotten a chance to pop them open yet!
Up next was Odell Brewing! This brewery is one of my original faves.
Grabbed a flight, of course. Did I mention that this is at altitude? These little ones were affecting me in a wonderful way!
Myrcenary Double IPA, how I adore thee!
Continuing on, Equinox! I wasn’t able to visit this one on my previous trip, but it’s held a special place in my heart ever since my big bro took me there for a beer and some sibling hang-out-time right before his wedding. And THAT was before I really even understood or liked beer.
Another flight split round the table.
This brewery is one of the more peaceful I’ve attended. Again, most likely because of it being in the middle of the week…
And finally, Grimm Brothers Brewhouse. My first visit here I was so sick that I couldn’t taste a single thing. I’m glad I’ve finally healed.
Taster flight!
My favorite of theirs is still a tie between Master Thief and Little Redcap. With the chilly winter months coming up, I’ve been craving porters and stouts like there’s no end in sight!

After looking through, I’m realizing that these are the ONLY Colorado breweries I’ve ever actually been into aside from New Belgium – and if I had pictures from that one, you can bet they’d be up here. Colorado’s got some awesome brews.
And awesome sunsets. I can’t wait to go back in two weeks!


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