Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mother's Day Ideas

I know that I haven't had an actual post reviewing beer in a while, I didn't realize that it had been almost a month though! So, this is overdue I think.

This past weekend, after a long day in Madison, we had two very interesting, and incredibly delicious beers. The first beer we had was The Reverend, by Avery Brewing Company (sorry that is a link to Beer Advocate, the Avery website wasn't working). I thought that this was pleasantly malty, with a nice copper color. It had a rich yeast flavor and was well balanced. I see in the Beer Advocate reviews several 2's and 3's in the scores. I have to say I disagree, I would say that this is a (slightly) above average Quadrupel beer... but that is probably why I don't read the Beer Advocate reviews until after I have written my review...

The second beer was from Finch's Beer Company in Chicago. We had the Cut Throat Pale Ale, which I thought was also above average. It was nice and crisp, with a wonderful hoppy flavor that was evened out by the citrus that was thrown in. This was very good, and I would be glad to have it again.

With Mother's Day just around the corner (May 13th if you didn't know), I thought it was a good time to start my list of things that I would like for Mother's Day (because I know you have been waiting for the list). 

The first thing on my list is beer (surprised I am sure...) I was looking for good gift baskets that could be shipped to my house, and I came across this Beer On the Wall website, and I am sure that you have seen it before but since my exposure to the outside world is only through Yo Gabba Gabba cameos, I had no idea. They have some cool beer gift sets, any one that would be great for the Yo Gabba Gabba shut-in in your life.

I then found this BEAUTIFUL chandelier that would look perfect in my house from Design Buzz
If you are looking to buy me some jewelry, you can check out Jewelry Inspired by Blue Moon by Drinks to Design

Of course, what mother/beer lover wouldn't love a new beer mug? Check out this awesome Celtic inspired mug that I found on Etsy

So there are a few things to help inspire you to shop for me... I mean your mother. If you find anything that you think my wonderful husband needs to go out and buy me to show me how much he appreciates the fact that I carried his daughter for 9 looong months, and have not eaten her, please let me know.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

This is a secret post- Welcome to Chicago Lagunitas!!

This is a secret post, because I promised I would spend all my free time getting ahead on homework this week... so don't say anything to my husband. Tell everyone else though.

If you follow Craft Beer at all, or live near Chicago, you have heard that Lagunitas is opening a second brewery and has chosen an awesome place in Chicago to call home. If you do live under a rock, here is an article from last week's Chicago Tribune about the move. The most interesting part about this to me is that the move is not just about saving money and being able to increase production. According to the Trib article, Lagunitas founder and owner, Tony Magee said, "he has long been concerned about both the money and diesel emissions expended while shipping beer to the 32 states where Lagunitas is available. In February, while driving to work, he was struck with an idea: Instead of spending all that money to ship the beer thousands of miles, what about opening a second brewery in Chicago?"

With Earth Day less than a week away, and carbon footprints/sustainability becoming more and more important topics everywhere, it seems like a great time for this move by Lagunitas.

 This got me thinking, how many of the breweries that we look to for fantastic beer are considered "green"? I know that I hear about craft breweries trying to be part of the community, helping promote sustainable farming practices, and decreasing their carbon footprint all the time. How do we know that they aren't just full of hot-air? I found a list of the Top Eight "Green" Breweries in the United States, research by the Huffington Post. It is an interesting article. I am not sure what the criteria was that they used to determine this. I would hope to see that the list of "green" breweries will get longer each year.

Do you know of any "green" breweries that were missed by the Huffingotn Post's article? I am hoping that this weekend I can do my part to endorse responsible breweries. If you are looking for something that you can do, perhaps with the entire family, the Earth Day website has some great events on their "Find an Event" page listed. I strongly you to check it out. Maybe this is a little bit of a hippy philosophy, but I think that we should always look for environmentally responsible and respectful companies no matter what we are buying, and do what we can to encourage others to do the same. I feel the same about shopping locally and supporting the local economy. I truly wish we had more locally owned, small businesses by me, especially more local breweries. If I look at my local brewery, Small Town Brewery, I love seeing how much they are a part of the community, and being able to see their passion for beer and the local community is something special. I think that the craft beer community is especially in a unique position to do this.

Boy that turned into a bit of a rant... sorry...

In summation, Welcome to Chicago Lagunitas!!! I look forward to seeing you soon.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Experience the Bahamas

Bahamian Beach
I think it is time for another awesome guest post... so, here is one from my sweet sister. Enjoy!!

As an idealistic anthropologist who is plagued with perpetual curiosity in all things, I love to experience new places and new people.  I am also an avid subscriber to the belief that in order to experience a new place or understand a people, one must first try the local beer.  One of my first experiences testing this ground-breaking theory took place over the course of three Study Abroad trips to the Bahamas (2009, 2010 & 2011) in which I was part of an archaeological survey on the island of San Salvador.  During my multiple stays in the Bahamas, on New Providence, San Salvador, and Abaco islands, I had the experience of drinking  the Beer of the Bahamas.  While the Bahamas are synonymous with fruity rum drinks served in the slaughtered shells of coconuts (and Casino Royale), the beer of the Bahamas is noteworthy for its taste, history, and experience.

In the Bahamas, there are three beers that you will see well stocked in nearly every bar, whether its a tourist-packed club in downtown Nassau, or a smoke-filled shack kept hidden from the tourist’s eye.  Two Bahamian beers, Kalik and Sands, are standard.  Also surprisingly prominent throughout the Bahamas is Guiness.  

Of the two Bahamian beers I have thoroughly “studied” during my time in the Bahamas, Kalik is by far my favorite.  Pronounced “Kuh-lik”, its smooth and refreshing taste and texture compliments perfectly with the intense sub-tropical sun and salty ocean air.  There are subtle hints of Mexican cerveca in taste and light body, but there is something unique about Kalik that separates it from other beers.  Much like the Bahamas themselves, Kalik represents years of European influence, and a constant connection to the ocean sub-tropical climate.  The result is truly Bahamian.

The name Kalik itself is a reference to the traditional national festival of the Bahamas called Junkanoo.  Each Boxing Day and New Years Eve, thousands of Bahamians crowd the streets of downtown Nassau with drums, cowbells, and elaborate handmade costumes and parade throughout the entire night and into morning.  The festival has roots in traditional West African ceremonies brought to the New World by the slave trade.  The story goes that slaves were allowed a break from work during the holidays, during which they would meet under moonlight and celebrate their shared ancestry.  Resisting years of subjugation, they made do with with what they had readily available; long grass turned into costumes, goatskin stretched into drums, and cowbells became instruments.  Still used today, goatskin drums thunder during Junkanoo while tied cowbells ring out the sound “ka-lik-ka-lik-ka-lik”!  Hence the name of the national beer, Kalik. 

Today Junkanoo is a symbol of national identity, and Kalik beer proudly honors this history in its name, unique taste, and local distribution on the islands.  In a country that historically has been governed by powers abroad and whose people have triumphed and persevered through hardships, Kalik is truly a Bahamian symbol.  A symbol of generations of resistence and national identity, Kalik’s refreshing taste is perfect for long days under an intense sun and  near an endless rocking ocean.  After sunset, Kalik passes around friends in crowded bars, sways and spills on dirty dance floors, and attracts sand on condensation as millions of stars bounce and reflect off still waters.  The taste and history of Kalik makes it a unique beer, but it is the experience itself of having a Kalik while a world away is what makes it exceptional.

Thank you Christie for your very interesting take on some exotic beers. Next time, put me in your suitcase!

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