Tag Archives: beer

It’s My Older Day!

I’m 27 years old today. 2-7. Twenty-seven. Oy. Where has my youth gone?
am1 Yesterday morning I woke up to this. 9 degree weather. 9. Nine-degrees.
am4 But then I decided that instead of dealing with the cold, I’d just hop on a plane and head somewhere warmer.
am6 Still too cold for my taste.
am7 WAY too cold for my taste.
am8 I distracted myself from both the icy mountainous terrain outside, and from my impending aging by being reckless and having a Fat Tire at 9am. Oh, what a crazy 26 year old I was!
am9 As an early birthday present, I got the entire row to myself! Well, actually there were two people sitting there, but they got up right before the plane departed and moved a few rows back. I’d even showered that morning! Sheesh.
am10 When we landed in a much, much warmer place, I stuffed myself with fresh seared ahi tuna and spinach chips…
am11 Before heading back up to the room to get in my workout so I could have my actual birthday off. This 27 year old does not skip out on workouts! Well, except for on her birthday…
am12 Immediately after coming down from my endorphin high, we headed out via a free hotel shuttle to Downtown Burbank! I used to sell in beer at Story Tavern at my old job, so I knew the tap selection would be awesome.
am13 First up – Enegren Brewing’s Hickman Bitter. Such fond memories of this beer. And so. Freaking. Good.
am14 I got a few tastes of some other options on the lineup while perusing the Beer Paper LA and enjoying the gentle sun that streamed across the outside patio…
am15 …And settled down to another bitter while enjoying that 75 degree weather. There are definitely some aspects of California I miss, but man, it’s so much easier to enjoy the state when you’re vacationing and not residing!

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway! It ends Friday!

Now I’m off to celebrate my birthday with tons of food, bundt cake and ocean! Happy humpday!!!

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Chocolate Covered Pretzels

I tend to have incredibly nerdy tendencies. If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you already know this. On Friday I decided to make some chocolate covered pretzels to take into Enegren. I originally planned to cover them with orange and black sprinkles and go with a Halloween theme. When I got to the grocery store, there were no orange OR black sprinkles to be found. I stumbled across silver and gold, then had an epiphany.
Enegren’s official colors are grey, red and yellow. Nerd-dom activate!
Silver (gray), gold (yellow) and red sprinkles.
Served in an Enegren glass, of course. I warned you: NERD.

I’d love to say that I created this recipe, but really, dipping pretzels in melted chocolate and sprinkling them with sprinkles isn’t really a recipe. I DID, however, steal the idea from Dashing Dish.

For a super simple recipe – melt a whole bunch of chocolate chips in a coffee mug, take long pretzel rods and dip them in the melted chocolate. Place the dipped pretzels on wax paper and sprinkle with toppings, then freeze for 10 minutes until they harden. Recipe magic!
While I waited for those to harden in the freezer, I enjoyed the always lovely California afternoon.

I worked at the brewery Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The kegs of Christopher Columbus (Enegren’s IPA that was dry-hopped with Columbus hops) were drank dry by happy customers, so my awesome artwork had to come down. Another aspect of my job as a brewtern: artwork. It almost never turns out…

Last night we had the monthly meeting of our local homebrew club: the first time I’ve been in town and able to make it since it began.
We had about twenty people show up, and about twice as many bottles. What you see above is about half of what we had.
It was a beautiful evening.

Without further ado, Happy Halloween!
This monster tried to attack me the other day. I was not appreciative.

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Happy Labor Day!

I hope you had a wonderful day off filled with hiking, kayaking, whitewater rafting, skydiving… Whatever your fancy! As for me, I mainly lazed about the house, did nothing, dyed my hair with blue streaks, did a little more of nothing and then made dinner.
Last Friday night at 8pm, my doorbell rang. On the front step awaited this bottle of barbecue sauce, sent to me for free from KC Masterpiece and Foodbuzz as part of the Tastemaker Program. I was sent this product free in order to review/create a recipe with. All my opinions are my own, blah blah blah. I now present to you:

Zesty Beer-Braised Baby Back Ribs

Serves 4-6
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 2 hours, 30 minutes
Total time 2 hours, 50 minutes
Meal type Main Dish
Fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs are tenderized with beer and drenched in a spicy sweet beer and barbecue sauce reduction.

Ingredients

  • 2-3lb babyback ribs
  • 12oz beer (I recommend something roasty like a nut brown)
  • 1 cup KC Masterpiece Southern Style barbecue sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar (tightly packed)
  • 1 lime (zested and juiced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • pinch salt
  • pinch ground black pepper
  • pinch red pepper flakes

Directions

Step 1
In a large mixing bowl, combine the beer, barbecue sauce, garlic, brown sugar, lime juice and zest, onion powder, ground ginger, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Whisk until combined.
AM1
Step 2
Place the rack of ribs in a baking pan. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper, then pour the marinade on top.
AM2
Step 3
Flip so the meaty side is drenched in the marinade, cover with plastic wrap and let it marinate in the fridge for 4-8 hours.
Step 4
When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 5
Take the ribs out of the marinade (setting the marinade aside) and encase them in foil, tightly sealed but with enough space to allow the air to circulate through.
AM3
Step 6
Bake at 275 for 2-2 + 1/2 hours, or until the meat falls off the bone.
Step 7
An hour before the ribs are done, pour the marinade into a saucepan, bring to a boil, then let simmer until reduced by half.
AM4
Step 8
Pull the ribs out of the oven, let rest for five minutes, then serve, drenching them with this sauce.

The hint of spice from the red pepper flakes, the caramel sweetness of the brown sugar, slight tang from the lime and the acidity of the KC Masterpiece Southern Style barbecue sauce make for a lively combination! Of course, adding beer makes everything better. There was never any doubt about that… I’d recommend using any amber/brown/stout – anything that’s incredibly roasty and malty will really round out this sauce and take it to the next level.

If you want to turn this into a full meal that teeters on the edge of health (but leans slightly toward the “not-THAT-healthy” side), grab a few ears of corn from the local farmers’ market, tear out the hairs and shove a couple of pats of butter between the husks.
Grill them outside over medium heat for about fifteen minutes, extinguish the flames that erupt from the singed husks (oops), turning every five minutes.
If you want to add ANOTHER vegetable, grab a potato or two (they come from the earth, therefore, I consider them a vegetable. Don’t argue! You’ll ruin it for me!) from the farmers’ market, wrap them in foil and grill them over medium for an hour, rotating every fifteen minutes. Then, stuff them with sour cream and butter so they no longer resemble anything healthy.
Hint: Taking pictures of your meal surrounded by green grass makes it appear to be more healthy. Green = healthy. I see lots of green in the picture above, therefore, it is indeed healthy.

There’s no better way to say farewell to summer than messily chowing down on a rack of ribs and freshly grilled corn, desperately trying to wipe off the butter that runs down your chin and slurping the sticky-sweet barbecue sauce from your fingers. Happy Labor Day!

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Brewing at Enegren!

Yesterday I awoke at 4:30am, made a gigantic mug of coffee and rolled out the door over to Enegren Brewing Company for brew day!
When I got there a few minutes after 5am, Chris and Matt were already set up, prepping for the mash in.
In order to fill one of their 6 barrel fermenters, Enegren has to brew TWICE in one day. It’s a crapload of work and makes for a long day, so I tried my best to help out in any way I could, as well as not get in the way.
And this is just the first batch.
Here’s what’s in one of those buckets that Matt’s lifting. There were five buckets of this size. TWICE, they lifted five of those to the mash tun. Macho men.
Delicious oatmeal breakfast mash! Such a heavenly aroma.
While the mash tun does have a thermometer on the side, it isn’t the most accurate way to read temperature since there can be hot pockets and uneven heating througout. Matt, Chris and Joe use a long harpoon-style thermometer to check for those hot spots and make sure their readings are accurate.
Checking the pH.
While they did the scientific stuff, I stirred in my required brewniform.
Tacky boots were a necessity – of course.
In my attempt to be helpful, and since the brewers were excessively busy with creating delicious beer, I filled these kegs with beer from Joana – the fermenter full of their California Alt beer.
So. Many. Kegs.
They showed me how to fill, and after a getting soaked by a few minor beer showers, I finally got the hang of it.
Lauter tun with a false bottom, extracting the sugary wort from the mash.
Once all the liquid is extracted, they open the door to a wall of caked grains, and try to get the bucket underneath before it spills all over the floor. They succeeded – this time.
I think I need to do more weight lifting if I’m going to be in the brewing business…
11am rolled around, so I changed out of the brewniform and stepped behind the bar with Brie to help serve the masses of craft beer lovers that stopped by.
Wave after wave of groups came in to taste, fill growlers and chat with the brewers. They stayed for a couple of hours, but I don’t think they really enjoyed themselves or liked the beer that much… The couple in the center is actually getting married soon, and Enegren will be serving their beer at the wedding! I guess they do kind of like it after all.
While brewing is a very, very serious business, there’s ALWAYS time to play Whack-a-Mole when Chris is cleaning out the mash tun.
Brie has had serious training when it comes to Whack-a-Mole.
You can never practice too much when it comes to Whack-a-Mole.

I lasted until 11pm before I decided that I wanted to survive the drive home and not fall asleep behind the wheel. The guys were getting close to finishing up the second brew, but still going strong when I left. It was a LONG, exhausting day for me – the fact that the brewers hold 9-5 jobs AND do this on the weekends astounds me. I’ll be back there as much as possible, until they kick me out. And just to end this post on a gratuitous note:
See you guys soon!

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Azu Ojai

I bought this Living Social deal MONTHS ago. For $20, you get $40 worth of food from Azu in Ojai. I love Ojai and I love cheap food. Win-win-win!
Azu is nestled in between a frozen yogurt shop and a bakery on the main street. Once you enter, you’re greeted by dark woods, craft beers on tap and a surprising extension of the restaurant that stretches all the way to the back.
For noon, it was relatively quiet. Two other tables by the windows were occupied.
Since I had a massive amount of money to spend (I don’t think I’ve personally spent more than $12 on food…) I did something I never do – got an appetizer. The honey baked brie took about twenty minutes to bake. The wait was well worth it. It came out sizzling hot, the local sage honey caramelized and crusty around the edges, and the candied walnuts toasty with a slight crunch of sugary coating. We DEMOLISHED this plate!
For the main course, I ordered the vegetable panini. I’m kind of on a portobello mushroom kick since I found out that I’m not totally disgusted by them two weeks ago. Marinated and grilled portobello mushrooms, bell peppers and onions set atop soft, pillowy foccacia bread, and slathered with pesto and goat cheese. The skinny fries on the side were sprinkled with sea salt and served with a homemade ketchup. Another plate, demolished.
We decided to get two desserts and split them. Azu’s dessert of the day was strawberry shortcake served in a cream puff and overflowing with homemade whipped cream and balsamic macerated strawberries. I had a few bites of that one, but I was really waiting on the edge of my seat for MY choice.
Crème brûlée!!!! I’ve been dreaming about this since I had it at Ladyface last week. This one was a clean and simple crème brûlée – studded with vanilla beans and topped with a thin sugary crust that cracked easily with the tap of a spoon. They drizzled homemade caramel around the plate which I may or may not have licked clean. I’m classy like that.
Azu made for a ridiculously content Becki. It also makes her talk in the third person… Immediately after, I lapsed into a food coma and had to be bribed out of my seat with the promise of a visit to the Ojai Beverage Company.
Oh yeah, I went there.

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Wades Wines New Tasting Room

Since I’ll be gone for my dad’s birthday this weekend, I wanted to make it up to him a little bit early. Wades Wines in Agoura Hills was having a dark beer tasting – his favorite, and since I just happen to like beer myself, it was a win-win situation.
Wades recently underwent a complete overhaul of the store design in order to make room for their incredible new tasting room. They have 32 beer taps and 32 wine taps. We got there early and the bar was packed, but there were plenty of tables open.
Their decor is beautiful! They have old wine-making antiques lining the higher shelves.
Huge aging barrels rest upon the support beams overhead.
There are mirrors behind the bar, making the room feel twice as big.
They offer 4 tasters for just $5!
First was the Sierra Nevada Dark Lager. It was surprisingly light and had a lot of hops on the nose. It ends with a slight bite of hops at the end as well. If you’re looking for a good summer beer but only like dark beers, I’d recommend this baby.
My mom got the Mikkeller Saison – perfect for those who like wine. The aroma is full of tangy citrus and banana, and it goes down easy. I didn’t detect hardly any hop aroma or flavor in this – a great beer for beginners.
Up next was Firestone Velvet Merlin. This was pretty heavy on the coffee aroma, and had a rich, chocolate essence. I wouldn’t call it “velvet” since it’s pretty carbonated. I think I was expecting a smooth nitro-pushed beer. False advertising! I enjoyed this one a little more than the Sierra Nevada – it was a little fuller bodied and richer in flavor.
Iron Fist Velvet Glove. This is a VERY rich, heavy beer. Here’s the velvet I was looking for! The aroma is extremely sweet and boozy. I don’t like super malty, sweet beers as much, but the warmth of the alcohol at the end balances it out.
A fly plummeted directly into the glass – the sign of a sweet beer. I saved its life and it stumbled around the napkin, completely drunk. I enjoyed the extra protein and finished most of the beer, but couldn’t finish thanks to the super maltiness of this beer. My dad appreciated my selfless gesture of donating the leftovers to him. It was his favorite one.
Last was the Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout. I’ve been wanting to try this one for quite awhile, so I was happy to see it on the list. I am, however, glad that I didn’t buy the entire bottle. There was no cappuccino essence to this at all. I think my palate may have been compromised by the Iron Fist beforehand – if I try this one again, it’ll be all on its own. There wasn’t really anything super memorable about this beer. I liked it, but I tend to like most craft beers…
After the tasting, we were so close to Ladyface, we just couldn’t resist. They just got their new Chaparral Saison on tap (I’d tried it previously straight out of the fermenter at the second meeting of Ladies at Ladyface). De-freakin-licious. It was served at a slightly chilled temperature, with those lovely tangy wild yeast aromas dancing around the rim of the glass. Happy sigh. My dad got the Bruery Cuir Anniversary Ale, which clocks in at 14.5% ABV, hence the teeny glass.
I stuck with my favorite Ladyface ale – the Chesebro IPA.
My mom ordered the mussels in a chili-garlic sauce. I’ve never tried mussels in my life. I’m not a big fan of clams – fried, chowder, none of it.
I tried to keep an open mind…
Yeah, mussels are not for me. The texture freaks me out! I spent the next five minutes shuddering and sipping my hoppy beer trying to drown out the memory.
Luckily I also had grilled caper salmon with fingerling potatoes and asparagus to help as well.
And dessert! Oh, heavens, the desserts! The Chocolate Porter Cake is to die for! I’ve transitioned from the bread pudding to this slice of joy.
The true star of the meal though? The Orange Crème Brûlée , paired perfectly with the Derailleur. Each bite hits your tongue with a smooth, silky hint of sweetness, kissed with slightly tangy orange, topped off with the delicate crunch of burnt sugar. If, no WHEN, you order this, be sure to get the Derailleur with it! It will blow your mind!
I wish every Thursday night could be as delicious. Happy early birthday, dad!!!

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Beer Clean

I’ve been doing lots of studying on the beer front lately. Yesterday, I learned how to tap a keg (no, I never learned how to do that in college. I’m a late bloomer when it comes to beer…) and how to ensure that a glass is “beer clean”.

The term beer clean refers to a glass that is free of oils, dust particles or other impurities that would disturb the look and flavor of the beer. I set out yesterday to find a glass that was not beer clean so I could demonstrate for you.
I did this for YOU.

We went to Andres Wine and Tapas Bar over in Ventura Harbor yesterday to enjoy the gorgeous weather we’ve been having. I ordered a Widmer Hefeweizen with NO lemon or any kind of fruits on top. The citric acid and oils in the peel kill the head retention of the beer and also masks the true aroma and taste. Not the greatest (nor the worst) beer around, but it’s perfectly light and refreshing on a warm day!
In the glass above, you’ll notice that there is a rim of bubbles close to the top of the glass, and not much head for a hefeweizen (a hef should have a fairly thick head that sticks around for a while). When a glass is not beer clean, the bubbles that cling to the sides will show you where any impurities are, and the head will not last as long as it should.
In a beer clean glass, there will be an even ring of lacing down the sides as you drink the beer. Above, there are only a few random spots with any remnants of lacing.
I got another, just to make sure that it wasn’t a random attack of regular dishwashing detergent. It wasn’t. The other glass did the same thing, but you can’t say I didn’t give them a fair shot! Again, I did this for YOU!

To get a beer clean glass, don’t even think about using detergent or regular soap. There are a few steps to ensure that you’ll pour a perfect pint every time.
1. Wash your pint class thoroughly with a sudsless soap and a clean bottle brush.
2. Dunk the glass in a sanitized sink full of cold water, making sure to put the bottom of the glass in first so you don’t get an air bubble in the glass which will prevent it from getting truly clean.
3. In another sink full of water and sanitizer, dunk the glass one more time, putting the bottom of the glass in first to ensure that all areas are being touched by the sanitizer.
4. Dry the glass upside down on a well aerated drying rack.

Seems easy enough, right? Here are some tests you can do to see if you’ve truly made that glass beer clean.
1. The Salt Test – rinse the clean glass in cold water and sprinkle table salt around the inside. Anywhere the salt doesn’t adhere to is not beer clean.
2. The Lacing Test – This is the test I chose. Pour a beer into a glass, drink that beer and see if there is any lingering lacing around the sides. If there’s not an even lacing from top to bottom, the glass is not beer clean.
Salt Test on the left, Lacing Test on the right.

OKAY, enough learning for the day? I’ll finish up my recap.

After my study session at Andres Wine and Tapas bar, we sauntered over to Andria’s for some fried fish ‘n chips!
Nothing like deep fried fish with an ocean breeze on the harbor on a warm summer day!
We also found the time to traumatize my dog. C’mon, how could I not???

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LazyChiveFace

I have no idea how or why, but I was featured on TheChive yesterday amongst their Daily Afternoon Randomness (Check out number 26 to see ME! And ignore all the semi-nude pics surrounding it. Unless you’re into that sort of thing… I ain’t judgin’!). Not sure who put me on that, but THANK YOU! I’m enjoying all the lovely comments and views from fellow beer lovers! NOW onto today’s post!

I was out of town for Fathers’ Day this year. It’s completely impossible to make it live up to last year’s anyway, but I did my best!
We began last night at Lazy Dog Cafe. Yes, it is a chain, but they serve Firestone beer, so I’m willing to let the whole “chain” thing slide on this one.
We also had to take our own Lazy Dog with us. She enjoyed her complimentary water and $3.95 (!!!!) hamburger patty.
I started with the sampler. They had a blonde, American hef (which they served with a lemon slice – destroyed any semblence of head and overpowered the true flavor of the beer) , Bavarian hef, pale ale, red ale, and the seasonal – Somersault from New Belgium. My personal fave was the Bavarian Hefeweizen – a slightly smoky aroma with sweet aftertastes of banana and vanilla. I liked it so much, I ordered a FULL glass!
Yeah, you could definitely say I liked it…
We split the Mediterranean Pizzetti, which is something I get every single time I’m at Lazy Dog. Make me ANY dish with goat cheese and balsamic syrup and I will fall in love with you… It’s just a fact.
The celebration carried through into today. Originally, we were going to gorge on Indian food in Ventura and hit up the local Irish pub, but plans fell to the wayside and we decided to stick with some local eats. First  up: Karma Indian (owned by The Taj Cafe in Ventura) and then…

LADYFACE.

If you didn’t guess that right off the bat, then you just don’t know me…
I tried the firkin of the week: Vitamin C. This is the Chesebro IPA infused with orange peel. Now, I LOVE IPAs, but I think the orange peel took this a little TOO much into the bitter side for me. Ugh, never thought I’d say that.
I told you guys earlier this week that I’d like nothing more than to enjoy a chilly glass of Derailleur on the patio while reading a good book. Which I kind of did… To be fair, we STARTED on the patio, but since I was the generous one who offered to sit in the only sunny spot, we soon moved inside. I’m a big whiner when it comes to skin cancer. My Derailleur was enjoyed in the air conditioning instead.
It’s in print, therefore it’s official: Next month at Ladies at Ladyface: Janelle and my suggestion! Bottle sharing and glassware! Every lady will bring in her favorite bottle of beer, or personal homebrew, along with the glass it’s meant to be served in and we’ll be learning the purpose of specific glass shapes.

Oh yes, and there will be FOOD.
GET PSYCHED!
For now, I have some Twisted Sisters Zinfandel that needs to be enjoyed in this beautiful 75 degree weather.
Happy Makeup Fathers’ Day to my wonderful, youthful and handsome pops!!!

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Happiness is…

Happiness is…
Officially becoming a member of the American Homebrewers Association.

My number is blurred so you don’t steal my beer identity. I take beer identity safety very seriously…

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Green Flash Brewing Co.

I’ve tried one beer from Green Flash Brewing Co. prior to tonight – the Barleywine. I wasn’t a big fan, seeing that I’d never had barleywine before and had no idea what to expect. Since I’m working down in San Diego this weekend, and since the brewery recently moved to a new place mere minutes from my hotel, I decided to check it out.
It was such a gorgeous day out, I decided to walk to the brewery.
The building is HUGE! I walked into this ginormous cavern that was jammed with people and beautiful beer.
They recently made the move to this building, so there are huge tanks and fermenters that are essentially empty. These casks and the fridge are all that contain beer here so far.
They had 15 beers on tap here. I waited in a loooong line, got my ID checked (really? ME?) and ordered four tasters.
San Diego Saison – A REALLY good saison (and I’m a great judge of those, seeing that I’ve only had one before…). It had a very nutmeg-y essence and reminded me of pumpkin ale – no wonder I liked! Le Freak – A Belgian-style IPA. VERY hoppy, but finishes with a sweet malt. It made for a happy Becki. Hop Head Red – This clocks in at only 45 IBU… Not sure why they’d call it Hop Head. Still, not bad, but not what I was hoping for after reading the name. Double Stout – A rich, smooth, toasty stout. I finished with this one which allowed it to come closer to room temperature, and really warmed up the aromatics. Stouts aren’t my favorite, but this one was luscious!
Respect the lacing.
I hung out at the bar and took creeper pictures of people and the tanks behind them.
There’s still a lot of work to be done here, construction-wise, but their beers need for nothing! I can’t believe I’ve never experienced Green Flash before, but I’m so glad I was able to experience it straight from the mothership.
Then I wandered to the strip mall across the street and had Indian fast food. Frightening? Yes, but so worth it.
Dare I say the best chicken tikka masala I’ve ever had? BEST CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA I’VE EVER HAD! This arrived at my table sizzling hot, rich and full of creamy, smoky tomato flavor, tender bites of chicken and a zesty spice that made my nose run. Indian Tandoor – unassuming, kinda nervewracking to order from, and delicious. C’mon, live dangerously! It’s worth the risk.

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