Friday, March 30, 2012

Beer Braised Beef- New Beer Recipe!

I have been trying to find more recipes to try out that involve beer. I found one very similar to this, but I modified it a little bit. So, without further ado, here is my newest beer recipe creation:

Beer Braised Beef with mashed potatoes (Crockpot recipe)
What you’ll need:
Small Bottom Round Roast
5 Russet Potatoes (medium to large sized) Peeled and quartered
2 Large Carrots-Chopped
1 large clove of garlic- Chopped
Two stalks celery-Chopped
Dried Porcini Mushrooms -Chopped
2 Bottles good stout or dark lager
¼ cup dark brown sugar
1 cube beef bouillon
1 cup water
1 Tablespoon of Worcestershire Sauce
Salt and pepper

Season the roast with salt and pepper, then put all ingredients into the crock pot. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.
When the food is done in the crock pot, remove the potatoes, saving one for the sauce, and add butter, and salt and go ahead and mash those potatoes… mash them good. They will be a little brown from the stout, but tasty!
Take the onion and two cups of the liquid and put into blender or food processor with the potato you saved from the mash. Make sure you fish out the mushrooms for this!! Blend until the consistency is gravy like, you may need to add a little flour to thicken. I added salt and pepper to the gravy but you may want to taste it first.
Slice the roast (if it doesn’t fall apart on you) then drizzle some of the sauce over the meat. Serve with the mashed potatoes and carrots (you will have to fish them out of the crock pot) and more sauce if you want.

I hope that you enjoy it! I know that I did. I used Leinie's Creamy Dark Lager  and I think it was fantastic.

PS, I am super excited about the Chicago Beer Festival tomorrow!!!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Party Planning, I need some help

If you couldn’t tell, I didn’t meet my goal of posting every day for a week… I am a little bummed, but at the same time exceptionally happy that I have such wonderful, supportive friends and family who helped me get through 4 days of straight blogging.
To be fair, here are my answers to the questions I asked:
  1. Why do you drink beer?
 Taste, Portability (you look like a lush walking around with a bottle of wine), and comfort.
  1. Why do you like beer? I grew up in a house where beer was an everyday thing, and imported beer was a special treat, when I got old enough to buy beer I guess it just seemed to be the natural drink to choose, it is like a comfort food to me.
  2. What kinds of beers do you like?
 I LOVE Belgian style brew, anything that tastes like a barnyard is like heaven to me, but I am also trying as many new beers as I possibly can.
  1. What do you want from your beer? Conversely, what don’t you want from your beer?
I want a good experience and a good story. My favorite thing to do after tasting a beer is reading about it while I drink it, whether on the label or online. It is like a mini adventure. I don’t want to be bombarded with too many flavors and I don’t want to drink something just because it’s trendy (point in case sour ales, I can’t handle them but they are the new thing apparently)
  1. If I use the word “craft: beer, what does that mean to you?
It means that someone who cares about, is passionate about beer made decisions about brewing this beer with extreme thought, and that the end goal was a good product, not how many pallets will it please.
According to the Brewers Association the definition of Craft beer is,” An American craft brewer is small, independent and traditional.” Well we all know that there are exceptions to every rule, and daily I think we are seeing more and more exceptions to this definition as brewers become less traditional, and some breweries become larger but are able to remain independent (Dogfish Head and New Belgium), while others get purchased by “the man” but are able to continue to produce the same product that made them so phenomenal in the first place (Goose Island).
In other news… My blogiversary is coming up!!! April 15th was the first blog post I ever wrote. So to honor that I am having a little soiree at chez moi, and I need your help! I have constructed a table (anyone who knows me is not surprised by this) and the table tells me what sort of cheese to pair with which type of beer, and what food item I am preparing to include the cheese and match the beer. Very complicated I know. 

What I need from you is help deciding what actual beer is the best one to serve.  I did list the beers that I am thinking about serving, but I want to hear your suggestions or anything that you see that I am doing wrong. I want this to be a celebration of all the things that I have learned over the past year, and that means I want to have as much involvement from everyone who makes me enjoy writing this blog

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Day four- MORE Beer Stories

I am almost there, the end is in sight! Here are the answers to my questions for today. Today, I want to emphasize that it doesn't matter what sort of beer you prefer (Karol likes MGD! And she isn't here to tell me to not pick on her).
So here we go, different colors are different people, and I am sorry if the color text doesn't show up well on mobile phones, you may need to go to a computer...

 Why do you drink beer?
It tastes yummy!
The taste, it’s nice on a hot summer day (and even has minerals in it)
It's cold, tastes good, and can make your bad feelings go away. :P

Why do you like beer? 

It tastes yummy! ( am I repeating myself?)
 It’s nice to drink with friends, and the variety of tastes

What was your first experience with a craft beer?
Being that I don’t know what a craft beer is I can’t really answer this question.
I honestly can’t remember.
If by craft beer you mean non-commercial beer then that would be "Stu-Brew" a porter made by Stuart Mitchell.

   What kinds of beers do you like?
– I am not really a beer sampler – I like one kind and usually stick with that
Mainly Ales, I’m trying to learn to like Stouts and Porters
I like anything that isn't an IPA

   What do you want from your beer?
To always be there for me! J
Good taste (high alcohol volume isn’t bad either)
I always look for flavor, full bodied beers.

What does the term "craft beer" mean to you?
Please refer to question # 3
I take it as a unique beer. I may not like the way it tastes but I can appreciate that it wasn’t mass produced in a giant factory.
See the answer to question 3.

Thank you to everyone who has sent me their responses!! I really appreciate it! In this post we have answers from Karol, Michelle, Kaeleen, and Justin.  Monday I failed to mention the responses were from my dad and Kate. Thank you all!! I really can't express how lucky I am to have friends and family who support me in what I would have thought would have cause more of a ruckus (You want to write a blog? About BEER??)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

3.14159265 (also titled more beer stories)

I have set a goal for myself this week.... I am going to try to post once a day all week (or at least for five days). If you didn't know, today is Pi day, or the day that nerds everywhere celebrate the number that never ends, and makes circles everywhere possible. Thank you Pi, without you we would not have correctly measured beer bottles or cans.

The last two days I have had posts about beer, and why we drink what we drink (as well as why the Muppets are awesome) Today shall be no different. Here are two longer responses that I got to my questions, one from my friend Nancy who was SOOOO wonderful and quick to respond, and the other from my wonderful, totally awesome Aunt. 

I am not a huge beer drinker especially now that I am trying to lose weight and get fit.  That being said I do enjoy and crave a good beer every now and again.  My beer tastes have evolved over the years.  When I was younger I drank beer because it was cheap and I could drink it through the evening without getting annihilated ;-)  I drank cheap beer as a teen (Old Style & PBR) *shudder* then slowly graduated to bud and bud light in my 20's.  Late 20's early 30's I was introduced to GOOD beer... Beer with flavor and body or as my husband sarcastically claims... Chewy beer! *BIG SMILE*

Now, I drink beer for the flavor.  I love dark beers, Pilsners, wheats... yummy stuff.  Truly anything with a unique flavor.  I'm not a HUGE fan of sweet beers and ciders; I typically can only drink just one. I am still occasionally guilty of downing a bud or 2 on a hot day doing yard work so I do not consider myself a beer snob even though my husband disagrees ;-)

My first experience with craft beer was TERRIBLE!  I was young and hadn't developed a taste for beer yet... I was still drinking it because it was cheap;-)  A friend of mine took me to a micro-brewery... they were just starting to become popular... and we ordered the 'variety'... It was AWFUL!!  Every last shot was absolutely TERRIBLE!!!  I ended up drinking Bud much to my friends embarrassment (he was a beer connoisseur ;-)

Now I go with recommendations and honestly I like to peruse the shelves for unique bottles or names... Some are winners and others... NOT SO MUCH! *Another Big Smile*

Aunt Linda
 Thanks for asking!  I wasn't always a big fan of beer.  However, my band would often play at rowdy nightclubs where everyone seemed to be drinking beer by the pitcher or in buckets. My favorite drink - coffee  - was generally unavailable and ordering a glass of chardonnay would just be weird.  So to fit in,  I would order a Miller Lite, which was ok but certainly not memorable.  My first experience with craft beer was when the crafty Uncle Fred started home brewing.  To be polite, I would taste his creations and a couple of them turned out to be quite good!  My favorite was his Christmas porter, which had extra sugar in it ( he told me tonight, that wasn't for flavor but to boost the alcohol content!) and cinnamon.  Yum!
   My most recent craft beer experience was at the Hurricane Restaurant in St. Pete's Beach, FL.  The Hurricane was a long-time hangout of Grandma and Grandpa.  I noticed while there that they were offering souvenir 23 oz. beer glasses with purchase and decided I had to have one.  The waiter told me that they were out of the beer glasses and all that was left were 45 oz. "colossal" cocktail glasses.  I said ok, bring me one of those, thinking that it would have 23 oz. of beer in it.  Wrong.  I was served with a gigantic 45 oz. beer in a take-home glass, so heavy I couldn't pick it up.  An older guy at the table next to us wisecracked " does that glass come with a gurney?"  Ha ha.  Uncle Fred, Grandpa and I acquired some straws and between the three of us managed to finish it off.  The beer was fresh out of the tap Jai Alai from Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, FL.  Pronounced "hi li"  and very tasty.  The first beer I've ever had that was hoppy and fruity at the same time.  Check it out: 
And I got my souvenir glass.  Jeni says it will make a good candy dish :).
    As for your question "Why do I drink/like beer?"  While some of it does taste good, I think the best thing about it is how well it lends itself to sharing with family and friends :)

I love both of these anecdotes because I think everyone (unless you were raised on stout) can relate to them. We don't all start off as beer snobs, and we don't all become beer snobs when we discover craft beer. Thank you both very much for helping me with my goal of posting once a day this week, but more for sharing your stories with me.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

More Beer Firsts

Yesterday, Matt graciously sent me his answer to one of my endless questions about beer. Well, I have a lot of questions about beer. Here are the ones that I put out to my friends, family, Facebook, and Twitter this morning:

Why do you drink beer?
Why do you like beer? 
What was your first experience with a craft beer?
 What kinds of beers do you like?
 What do you want from your beer?
What does the term "craft beer" mean to you?

I received many interesting answers to my questions, and all of them were unique. This made me see that no matter what beer you drink, or why you drink the beer you drink, we need to celebrate beer. I am going to share some of these answers with you tonight, and more tomorrow, but first I need to ask another question...

Really? The Muppets?
Why is the highest traffic driver for this blog a search for "Muppet Birthday Party"? Why am I not aware of these awesome Muppet birthday parties?? Can anyone really think of a better traffic source? I can't complain, I think it is fantastic!!

Here are some of the answers that I received today. 

Why do you drink beer?
Sometimes I just need the cool refreshing taste of a nice cold beer.

A cold frosty brewski just quenches my thirst like nothing else.

Why do you like beer?
Beer is like a comfort food. Familiar, tasty and relaxing.

 I love beer because as a child we had beer and popcorn night every Friday.  The whole family including us kids would have a glass of beer and popcorn.  This was long before it was called child abuse

What was your first experience with a craft beer?
In January 2000 my friend Brian and I visited a bar on the pier in Redondo Beach, CA that had 70 different beers on tap including imports and local brews. We spent the day sampling new and interesting brews in the California sunshine with some steamed crabs, live music and a very interesting crowd.

My first craft beer was given to me by my brother in law, David Bunce.  He has been brewing his own beer for about 40 years 

What kinds of beers do you like?
My favorite beers are the yummy beers that Hoppy Beer Girl brings to me as gifts! OMG! Ommegang!

What do you want from your beer?
I want my beer to wake up my senses and make my brain have happy thoughts. Or is it hoppy thoughts?

A  no really, I used to like a lighter beer, but my husband and my step daughter, the Hoppy Beer Girl, have introduced me to some wonder full bodied beers. That is what I like now

What does the term "craft beer" mean to you?

Craft beer is any beer that has been created with care and attention to detail that was brewed with pride.

The term "craft beer" means a type of beer that is home brewed.  I am not sure if that is what it really means, but that is my definition of it

So there you have it. Two people's answers to my questions. I will have more tomorrow. If you want to share with me your answers to my questions, leave a comment or send me an email at

PS Thanks to everyone who has sent me their answers, if you don't see yours today, come back tomorrow

PPS I have a theme in mind for Blake's upcoming 30th birthday party... can you guess what it is??

Oh yeah! Muppet Treasure Island!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Your First Craft Beer- A guest post

Happy Monday! This week, I would like to talk about why we drink beer. I know that is pretty deep for me, since I am also the person who decided the Muppet Show and beer were a good combination (but I was right). 
My good friend Matt, who is the man who keeps this blog running for me, has (finally) sent me a guest post. I sent him (what seems like months ago) a list of questions that I thought would provoke his inner-beer-writer. So, with no further delay, here it is:

When did I know MGD wasn’t the stuff for me? A friend of mine once said, “Once you’ve tasted filet mignon, you don’t want to go back to Hamburger Helper.” For most of us, it’s the same way with beer. Once you’ve tasted something other than the bland giants like MGD and Budweiser, you don’t want to go back. I remember it was a few years ago and the beer was Hoegaarden. I remember going to the liquor store and walking by the four thousand continuous feet of MGD and Bud cases, and randomly picking a six pack of something I’d never heard of. I’ll admit, I got it because of the label and the name. It looked cool, and I liked how I could say “ho garden” and get away with it.

I’ll never forget my first sip. It was spicy. I thought, “What the hell? This is odd. Spices? In beer? It’s delicious!” The next sound was my mouth applauding. Then a burp. Then more applauding.  I felt fairly worldly telling my family and friends, “Yeah, it’s a White Ale from Belgium,” like a well-seasoned beer connoisseur with a quiet desperation that no one would ask any follow-up questions pertaining to anything beer related. Or anything even remotely related like Belgium, or brewing, or Belgian history, or what that thing was hanging from Aunt Helen’s lower lip. 

Ever since then, I have been trying different kinds of beer, different flavors, different breweries, different styles, local brews, national brews, and world brews. They all taste good with both filet mignon and Hamburger Helper. It’s still fun for me to say “ho garden,” followed by snickering and the image of a Belgian farmer cultivating a field of slutty Belgians. And I’m still trying to figure out what that thing was dangling from Aunt Helen’s lower lip.

Thank you Matt! Please send us a picture of Aunt Helen... And I am happy to share my beer and blog with you.

What was your first craft beer experience? If you would care to share, I would love to hear about it. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Mini Beer post

This doesn't count as a real blog post. This is just a means for me to brag about all the beer I just bought. So, I am calling it my mini-post.
I am so excited about all the beer we got! Feel free to think that my romantic evening out with my husband to Binny's Beverage Depot is not that romantic if you wish. To me going beer shopping, sans child, with my husband is equivalent to going to the toy store as a child with a handful of gift cards, and then out to dinner. I should say that we did exhibit a little self control while we were out (we put one bottle back before checking out).
Enough of that, here is the long list of what we got:
Capital Mai Bock (love Madison beer, it reminds me of my cousin who I love)
Sam Adams New World Tripel (can't wait for this!!)
Finch's Cut Throat Pale Ale
Avery The Reverend
Slumbrew My Better Half
De Glazen Toren Saison
AND Binny's build your own six pack!! (I have to leave some mystery in this so you have to wait to see what those six were)
It was a fantastic adventure, though I always get weird looks from the men in the beer aisle when they see me jump up and down in front of the beer like a little kid. Don't they know I am holding the squeal of excitement in?? At least I didn't skip into the store, I just sang my "beer, beer, buying beer" song quietly.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Pondering March and Beer

It is Wednesday, and it is nearly 70* outside in March, in Chicago. This is beyond unusual. The strange weather we have been having (we also got 3 inches of snow in like 2 hours on Friday) has me thinking about how to prepare for the Chicago Beer Festival that is in 3 weeks. Normally I wouldn't think so far ahead, except I haven't been to this festival before, and I rarely have the opportunity to escape downtown with my husband and friends for adult libations without having to worry about getting home before my babysitter falls asleep on the couch. BUT this beer festival is starting in the middle of the day!!! So, I don't have to worry about falling asleep at the table, or rushing home to relieve my mother in law. It is like someone has kids and understands that you can't forever be that hip kid who stays up all night and goes to work in the same clothes you left work in. I think it is so refreshing to be able to go to an event, doesn't even have to be a beer event, without having to feel anxiety about getting there (did I mention that the Festival is being held at Union Station? I don't even have to drive), getting home, and getting to bed. Maybe that makes me sound old (ancient at 28), and if so, oh, well.

I will admit that I miss the days of staying up all night drinking like a rock star sometimes, but when I really think about it, I was not drinking because I enjoyed what I was drinking, I now can appreciate the complexity in a beer, and the craft that it takes to make it. I might not be the party animal that some of my friends are, but I like to think that I have something else now, and usually that does not include a hang-over.

Well if you are looking for something a little more fun, and equally as strange as this Chicago weather, check out this article about the strangest beers. I thought it was very interesting.

Happy Wednesday!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

revenir, ritorno, voltar, återgå

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Return may refer to:
In business, economics, and finance
Rate of return, the financial term for the profit or loss derived from an investment
Tax return (disambiguation), various meanings relating to taxation
Returning, the process of bring back merchandise to a retailer for a refund or exchange
Return (economics), the benefit distributed to the owner of a factor of production.
Abnormal return, denoting the difference in behaviour between one stock and the overall stockmarket
Taxes, where tax returns are forms submitted to taxation authorities
In technology
Return (architecture), the receding edge of a flat face
Carriage return, a key on an alphanumeric keyboard commonly equated with the "enter" key

Well none of these things really encompass my return to beer consumption this past weekend. There are many ways to say "I'm Back"
Well it wasn't quite like that... but I was excited to crack one (or 3) open. So, we had a few good beers this past weekend, and one I was not so excited about.
We started with Grand Teton Grand Saison, which I thought was a little hoppier than I expected. It was a crisp and clean beer with a  gorgeous color. I liked that you could taste the hops, as well as the malt. Like any Saison, it is more of a refreshing beer than a filling one. 
The next one we cracked open was Dogfish Head's Hellhound. Normally I LOVE Dogfish beers, but this was one I can't say I liked. According to the Dogfish website, "Hellhound is a super-hoppy ale that hits 100 IBUs in the brewhouse and 10% ABV. It's dry-hopped with 100% Centennial hops at a rate of 100 kilos per 100 barrel brew-length". Boy do I wish I had read that before I opened it... it is also brewed with lemon. It smelled a bit like a Lemon Head, but the citrus/hops combination is very powerful and, in my opinion, too overwhelming. Blake liked it. I recommend you make your own decision on this one.

After all the hops, my mouth was aching for something a little more mellow, and malty. This is when I decided to open my Smuttynose Winter Ale (it is still winter). I thought that this was a really light (as far as winter beers go) and tasty beer. I loved the tones of vanilla and the gorgeous dark color. These are the types of beer that I look forward to each year, and really the second winter brew I have had all winter.

The last beer that we had was Bear Republic's Racer 5, well not really we but Blake. I wasn't about to go back into the IPA territory, as it would seem that my taste buds have become unaccustomed to extreme IBU's. Again, this one was one that Blake really liked. He said it was crisp, clean, and well balanced. 

So that is it for my first beer review in what seems like forever. I hope I didn't leave you disappointed. 

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