The Session Roundup (finally!)

Added on by Rebecca Patrick.

WOW. That is all I can say about how blown away I was at the participation of this month’s The Session. THANK YOU to everyone who wrote something in response to my question about taste, underrated beers, overrated beers, and going against the grain (any grain, really). I enjoyed reading everyone’s perspective on this subject, especially those of you who admitted to the beers you love that aren’t a crowd favorite. And many of you brought up points and ideas I hadn’t even considered in this topic before. Thank you for your consideration, passion, and words.

I was a little overwhelmed when it came to doing a roundup post, so please please pardon me for not being able to write more about each of your posts. I would love to sit down with all of you (all at once! One big blogger party!) to talk about this, because I’m pretty sure we could talk (and enjoy a few pints) for hours about this. Thank you again, and I can’t wait to see you all again at next month’s Session hosted by Oliver from Literature and Libation!

Cucumber Kolsch

Jon at The Brew Site reassures us that our opinion and taste is enough and that “I make no apologies for the beers I drink, especially if they raise eyebrows—and if other people like beers that just don’t do it for me, more power to them.” More power to him for this stance. I love this.

“How easily is our ship steered” by Dan from Community Beer Works gives us so many great articles to read and nudged me into an article wormhole. I loved reading about what he found regarding the influence of price, expectation, and marketing. I’m pretty sure I could pick his brain for a long time on this subject.

Glen acts like a true friend at Beer is Your Friend by also agreeing that we should stand up for what our taste buds tell us. It would be silly to spend years trying to enjoy a beer that we don’t actually like just because we’re “supposed to,” or avoiding a beer because we aren’t supposed to like it.

Over at Baltimore Bistros & Beer Doug expressed a similar thought to mine when it comes to ratings and reviews. His tendency is to be reserved in letting others experiences sway his expectations, and when reading beer reviews usually skips the actual rating part simply to read the description of a beer. I’m with you there, I’m not discounting ratings, but it’s hard to know what a “92” tastes like.

The Beer Nut finally found the type of beer I’ve been looking for as a lightweight...2.8% ABV...but was it good? I think the Beer Nut put it very well when he said that “there's lots of very useful information in the middle ground and I believe it is possible to determine the relative value of a middle-range beer from what value the raters and advocates have collectively assigned to it.” I know we could talk until the end of the earth about the value and merits of ratings, and I’m perpetually stuck in the middle.

Steve gave a resound “Yes” to a question of whether some beers are overrated. At Beers I’ve Known Steve introduced me to a list that I hadn’t even considered before: the top 10 beers from England on Ratebeer. This is one of the things I love about beer bloggers. I have no exposure to craft beer in the UK, but through other beer bloggers we can compare and contrast notes about similar trends in ratings, reviews, underrated beers, and overrated beers across cultures.

David. Oh David. You applied a concept in economics to beer. YES. Just, yes. Even if you don’t like economics, you should go read his post at Beer Tinted Spectacles for The Session. He says “proper lagered beer will soon have its day again.” Beer & economics: always my favorite.

I’m infatuated with the concept of home, and Bryan won me over with a post about which beer tastes like home for him at This Is Why I’m Drunk with “Bias and a taste of home.” Underrated by many, the Ithaca Apricot Wheat is always a welcome pour for him.

Eric from Sheppy’s Blog gave us his two cents on two beers that are raved about by the beer community, but that just didn’t “wow” him in the same way. And made a good point that, as craft beer drinkers, aren’t we all going against the grain in the beer world?

“If you hate a beer, why can’t I drink it?” Exactly.  Nate at Booze Beats Bites makes the point that a beer being a classic beer makes it good, but also that a best selling beer can be enjoyed as well.

Another UK post from the Ale is Good, and how you can find out why the French call the British “the roast beefs.”

Congrats and welcome to Vin at Bier Battered for his first Session post! I was happy to read about another sour lover and someone who prefers to be able to have a beer ready to drink. Seems like we both like bourbon barrel aged beers, but some of them can be a little too hot and boozy upfront. Hope to see you next month too!

What about taste deflation? Sean gave me something new to think about at Beer Search Party. Being relatively new to the craft beer party, I haven’t seen as many styles come and go like amber ales. Sean also reminds us that there is value in going against the grain as well, that we aren’t doing it just for the sake of being different. “The craft beer industry needs people who are more black sheep style and won’t run with the herd after every last craze.  This will keep the industry honest and will eventually make ratings more in line with where they should be and where they will be most helpful.”

Reuben from The Tale of the Ale gave me two new beers to check out that I’d never heard of! Two of his underrated beers are Barney’s Brew from Hilden and Porterhose TSB, which goes to show that even underrated beers according to ratings can be well loved.

Has the beer community started to create the unattainable? Has all the hype created an expectation that a beer can’t meet? Are we looking for the white whale? Oliver looks at taste and how it varies similar to a fingerprint from person to person. Does that mean we’ll never be on the same page about objective taste? See what he has to say about this over at Literature and Libation.

It looks like Jon and Bryan may have something to agree about, because Jon takes this at a different angle by bringing up the topic of comfort beers at 10th Day Brewing. It may not even matter if a beer is overrated or underrated. What may be more important is what that beer means to us, where it fits in our memories, and what it reminds us of. I’m particularly fond of this approach, as it fits in pretty well with how I approach writing about beer. “What memories do the flavors in that glass in front of you bring to the party?”

It’s all come “Full Circle” for Derrick at Beer Runner, who goes against the craft beer grain (which is going against the beer grain) by diving back into the simple pleasure of a macro brew.

The Epic Beer Girl talks about one of the most important things in craft beer (in my opinion): being open to trying something again. We could very easily not try a beer the first time we have it, but then warm to it the second time around. We could miss out on something great by setting something aside after just one try.

Stan from Appellation Beer described what sounds like a delicious wheat beer that Boulevard used to produce - the Two Jokers Double Wit. I can’t even imagine the frustration when a brewery stops brewing a beer that you love, and then the relief when they start brewing it again. The good news is Two Jokers will be back this summer, so those of us in Missouri will have another great beer to ease our humid summer nights.

Alan at Growler Fills made me laugh out loud in his very first sentence, pointing out how smart I was to wear a helmet when jumping off a light post. Once I stopped laughing, I was able to read what Alan had to say about dictating (basically, we shouldn’t) what someone’s experience should be with beer.

I want to raise this post up and say “me too!” Jim from the Drinking Class shares the same desire I have to get to the heart of what you think. He wants to know how and why you came to a certain conclusion, well, I’ll let him explain: “I do care why and how you have come to the conclusions you have come to. I care very deeply about those things. And I argue to get you to clarify your stance and to help me articulate my own. I argue to get you to be more accepting of people who have arrived elsewhere than you have and to build that understanding in me.”

For those who love to have their own beer discoveries instead of the build up of expectations, read about Ruth’s adventure with beer in 2013 over at the Beer Faerie Blog.

Alan from A Good Beer Blog had just three things to do, but I’m glad they all manifested into his post about the subjectivity of beer writing (it’s only really through reading about beer that we discover what beers are popular), and proposal that maybe there’s a different way we should be writing about beer. “... no one can describe to you exactly what that taste does in your mouth. The moment is different, the memories evoked are different, your financial circumstances are different and you are different. Now, they can get close. They can be self-aware and understand the massive existential division between each person's autonomous insular subjectivity and their autonomous insular subjectivity... but they never do, do they. Or at least seldom do.”

Part of the great thing about this session is seeing shared perspectives on beer reviews such as Jay’s at Brookston Beer Bulletin (home to The Session). Another contributor to the Session this month wonders about the current state of “beer reviews” and the interesting direction they may be heading here soon. This will be a great Session to read as you gear up for next month’s topic: a challenge to do very untraditional beer “review.”

Well Miguel...I’m going to have to enlist an interpreter to read your post as unfortunately I chose to study French instead of Spanish. If any of you would like to volunteer, please go check out Amante De La Buena Cerveza for The Session!

Jessica & Ray from Boak and Bailey’s Beer Blog let us know about a few beers from Arbor Ales that they’ll say “no thanks” to next time, but that now actually makes me pretty curious about tasting them just to try. I wonder if maybe reviews of beers we don’t like actually make others curious to try them too...Reverse beer-psychology, you think?

I think you should go read The Session at vonSchlapper’s Adventures with Beer if only because he came up with my new favorite beer name: lambic pentameter. Sounds like a great excuse to drink a beer in English class to me.

Bill! Every time I see a Bill this plays in my head. I’ll tell you I know more about shaving than I did before reading the Pittsburgh Beer Snob’s post, and now can say I do know someone who doesn’t love love love the-hoppier-the-better-IPAs. But who also recognizes that taste really is subjective, and while IPAs may not be his standard go-to, it could be an absolute delight to the rest of us.

Then Simon brings up some good points about a perceived status quo in beer. Sometimes we like the stories and experiences behind and surrounding the beer much more than we may like the beer all on its own. And Simon sums up what I think most of the points everyone has been making in this Session… “That there is no “best” beer does not mean that rating sites are useless, not that their ratings are useless. We’re perfectly capable of understanding what types of beer get high ratings and adjusting our expectations accordingly.”

And last but not least, we have A Tempest in a Tankard with “Drinking lager in an age of extreme taste,” wondering if  our palettes focused on intensity may be confusing extremity with quality. Franz also starts hinting that we might possibly be seeing a return of lagers (hallelujah in my opinion!).

THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH. I loved hosting January’s Session and I am so grateful that you all put so much time, energy, and passion into this topic. We’ll see you in February!

 

The Session #83 - Against the Grain

Added on by Rebecca Patrick.

Strawberry Blonde First, thank you to everyone who is participating in this month's Session. I have loved seeing so many articles coming in so far and I can't wait to read what everyone has to say! Look out for a round-up post next week as I'm giving people a few extra days to get their thoughts in. 

The Session, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday, is an opportunity once a month for beer bloggers from around the world to (virtually) converge on a single beer related topic, each bringing their own unique perspective.

A good portion of my craft beer experience goes against the seemingly common experience, notably in two areas - taste and volume. I'm notoriously a lightweight, simply due to physiology and my paranoia about driving after drinking even the smallest portion. When you surround yourself with people who love craft beer, I can feel a little out of place when I'm nursing one beer over the night or leaving up to half a beer on the table so I can try another. Then there are the beers where I really seem to be the odd man out.

Let's take Teddy Bear Kisses as an example. The excitement around the release of Teddy Bear Kisses is palpable among my friends and in the online craft beer community. I have seen friends' eyes light up and visibly sparkle upon seeing that it is back. But I just can't get behind that beer. I love Upland, I'm obsessed with their new Berliner Weisse, and I love how much they embody Indiana. But it's just never been for me. I used to wonder if it was my taste, or if I was missing something important. When almost everyone you know fawns over a beer, but you're left with a "meh," it's easy to wonder if you're in the wrong. Do I have bad taste? Is my taste completely off? Will I ever get there?

Maybe we never warm to a particular style or beer. Maybe beer can be like music, where we have to be at a certain point in our journey for it to click. I was that way with Antony & the Johnsons and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. For years I couldn't wrap my head around them. I couldn't see what everyone was talking about when they raved about these artists. A few years later after they were recommended, though, it clicked. With CYHSY, I was driving back to Atlanta from my Papa's with my aunt playing their first CD, and it all came together. Maybe beer is like that too. I certainly didn't like stouts at first when I started drinking craft beer. It didn't mean I had bad taste, just that at that point in my craft beer life I wasn't at the place where I could start enjoying them yet.

Then there are the beers that I love no one else I know seems to enjoy. Most of these tend to be fruit beers, and as a lady, liking fruit beer is a hard thing to admit to anyone. Yes, fruit beer can taste syrupy. But IPAs can be too bitter, stouts can be way too malty, and porters can be way to aromatic. Any beer can be a poor example of the style. Everything has that potential. But in particular, fruit beer seems like the red-headed stepchild. There is of course a stereotype that women tend to lean toward fruit beers, so it can feel sometimes that if we do like a fruit beer then we aren't a "real" beer fan. This feels like the case so much so that I rarely hear any of my fellow female beer fans talk about fruit beer. I like Cerise. I love Festina Peche (if Indiana gets some this summer, just try and keep me away). Rubaeus was great this year. I like fruit beers. And while I'm still nervous to say that, some beers are too good to pass up just because others don't like them.

At the end of the day, even if we're at the beginning of our craft beer days, we need to have patience, confidence, and humility. The patience to let our tastes develop over time, the confidence in our gut instinct and taste, and the humility to recognize that everyone should be given the space to have their own unique taste.

the session

Announcement! The Session #83 - Against the Grain

Added on by Rebecca Patrick.

The Session The Session, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday, is an opportunity once a month for beer bloggers from around the world to get together and write from their own unique perspective on a single topic. Each month, a different beer blogger hosts the Session, chooses a topic and creates a round-up listing all of the participants, along with a short pithy critique of each entry. Be sure to check out this month's Session #82 hosted by Beers I've Known!

The Session #83 - Against the Grain

Well I want to hear what you think about the following:

How much is our taste or opinion of a craft beer affected by what friends and the craft beer community at large thinks? What beer do you love that no one else seems to get? Or what beer do you say "no thanks" to that everyone can't get enough of?

I can find myself wondering sometimes when I've had an extremely popular beer, but haven't been all that "wowed"...is it me? Am I missing something here? Was there too much hype? Could there be such a thing as taste inflation? If we really want to dive further into this, is it really only "good" if a large portion of the craft beer community says it is or is our own opinion and taste enough?

How to participate?

Post all your awesome thoughts about this on Friday, January 3. Either include a link to your post in the comments on my post that day, send your link to me via Twitter @thebakeandbrew, or send a link to thebakeandbrew@gmail.com.

I'll post a round-up the following week to make sure I can include anyone who can't get their post up on that Friday.

Cheers!

The Session #82: it was just a dream

Added on by Rebecca Patrick.

The Session, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday, is an opportunity once a month for beer bloggers from around the world to (virtually) converge on a single beer related topic, each bringing their own unique perspective. This month is hosted by Beers I've Known, with our prompt being to tell a beer-inspired tale.

Shoshone riverTwo months my beau visited for three very short days. It was September in St. Louis. It was 70. It was sunny. It was perfect. We relaxed on the porch, we went into the city, we got to go on an actual date. We drank beers on a sunken terrace by a creek and by fire light.

The night he left I had the best dream. We were back on the ranch in Wyoming, standing on the bank of the Shoshone river. It was chilly and there was snow on the ground dusting the riverbank. He was fly fishing, and I was wrapped in a thick sweater, reading, with a cold beer in hand.

Last week I landed in Cody, where he picked me up and we drove back to the ranch. The skies were the most brilliant blue and when we got back to the cabin he handed me an Alaskan Winter Ale and we went walking down to the river. He wasn’t fly fishing, and I wasn’t reading, but we were standing together on the banks of the Shoshone dusted in snow looking at the most gorgeous sky. I was drinking a beer and the snow was crunching under our feet. The dog was weaving in and out of the trees and the light was starting to slant and fall behind the mountains.

This was another dream all by itself.

The Zissou

 

the session

Ol Wyom

Added on by Rebecca Patrick.

Sneak preview: it was incredible. As in, actually unbelievable and still feels like a dream. More to come, especially about all the great beers I was able to try and the best German Shepherd I know. Wyoming

Moose Drool

Zissou

Winter is coming. Drink Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale.

Added on by Rebecca Patrick.

Sierra Nevada Celebration

Indiana got its first snow last night, St. Louis had a thin layer of frost, and winter beers are back on the shelves. St. Charles, which is basically Santa’s workshop during December is already putting up Christmas lights and garland on the street lamps, so I thought it was okay to crack open the most Christmas-y of beers for me, the Sierra Nevada Celebration. With that adorable cabin smothered in snow, this is my celebration. Here’s to looking to snow-capped mountains in two weeks, and here’s to a town covered in Christmas decorations and carolers when I return.

All in all… This is a light and fresh IPA with a lovely amber color and a gorgeous frothy head that disappears quickly, and smells like pine needles. It’s full, smooth, and sweet with plenty of hops and just a little bitterness left over. This is perfect for a transition into winter when the abstract concept is still okay, but we haven’t been hit with bitter winds and trying to climb out of bed on cold mornings. If you aren’t ready for full on winter warmers and dark strong beers to carry you through to spring, and you’re still holding on to bright hoppy beers, then grab this one.

Recommend to a friend? Come on down, we’ll head down to the Gingerbread village (for real) and we’ll split one on the brick streets.

Lightweight-safe? We’re on the verge of a “no” at 6.8%, but once the holidays hit we’re allowed to be a little jolly.

Plus one? See previous comment about staying jolly.

Get a six pack? That would make me one happy girl.

The Hops Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. - Chico, California American IPA

 

Baking with Beer: Wheat Ale Cake with Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

Added on by Rebecca Patrick.

Wheat ale cake I'm counting the days at this point. I'm counting the days until I get to see the mountains again, and until I get to see my best friend again. I'm heading to Wyoming in three weeks, and have already started a list of all the sweaters and warm clothes I should bring. There's a fluffy white hat, a favorite knit sweater, and my favorite flannel PJs. Plus an extra cribbage set. I'll get to wake up to mountains out the front and back windows. Three weeks until I get to drink a beer in a valley, stand by a river, and cuddle with a German Shepherd by a wood stove. And did I mention skiing? Oh my goodness, my loves, I get to ski again. There is no other feeling like gliding down a mountain quietly and cutting through beautiful snow.

Let's just say it's going to be nearly impossible for me to get back on that plane. After a while I forget how breathtaking the mountains are, and how still they make me. I forget how comforting epic, natural beauty is, and how it makes everything else melt away. Some things wonderfully fall into place when the blue sky takes up your entire view.

It is truly a miracle that any of this buttercream frosting ended up on this cake at all. If you do anything this coming weekend, make this Strawberry Buttercream Frosting by Add A Pinch. This girl has everything right here, and I found myself this past Sunday night sneaking a whole spoonful of this frosting straight from the bowl. She even replied to one of my gushing comments about this recipe by suggesting frosting cookies with this - mind blown. I can't even deal with how delicious that would be.

The process was really very simple, and the only change I made to these recipes was to use beer in place of some milk, so I'm simply going to give you the links below to these great recipes and great instructions. The white cake was sweet, smelled heavenly, and this buttercream frosting is simply unreal.

Wheat Ale White Cake with Strawberry Frosting

*I made two layers (same size as you see above) with this cake recipe.

Wheat ale cake

The Session #81: Women & Beer

Added on by Rebecca Patrick.

The Session, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday, is an opportunity once a month for beer bloggers from around the world to (virtually) converge on a single beer related topic, each bringing their own unique perspective. This month is hosted by Tasting Nitch, with our prompt being (in general): women & craft beer.  I'm a little late on this month's Session post, as I've been waiting for The Biercast to release their latest episode on Women & Beer, where another lady and I sit down with the hosts to talk about this very subject. I'm going to try to keep this entry brief, simply because trying to unpack this subject and do it justice is a daunting task in any format. However, I had a blast talking to Eric & Andrew from The Biercast (and special guest Whitney) about women & craft beer, and I highly recommend you give this a listen. But first...

What made sitting down with these guys to talk about what could be a touchy subject, and where we could all end up saying something regrettable was how open and forgiving we all were (save a few eyebrow raises amongst ourselves..shhh...just kidding...kind of). Talking about the engagement of women in any cultural/societal area is tough, and can be a hot issue. It's really hard to hold the conversation in the first place, and on top of that, it can feel like the stakes are so high. It can feel as if you say the wrong thing (especially as a woman) then you'll have a wave of backlash coming your way. But even before we started recording this episode we all pretty much agreed that it's okay if that happens. It's okay to voice an opinion we all still may be working out. It's okay to let the conversation go down a hole, and have to dig ourselves out. It's okay to get stuck. If we're willing to hear constructive criticism, if we're willing to let others figure out what they think, if we're willing to admit we may have a flawed idea, then we can have a great talk. As long as we give each other the benefit of the doubt, as long as we're kind and forgiving, then we can move our elbows a little bit and feel this subject out.

And if you're similar to myself and haven't had much resistance to participating in the craft beer community, and feel that this is a superficial topic, then I still want to write down this point:

Even though we started off talking about craft beer...we think about advertising, we think about marketing, we think about women's roles and how women are portrayed in advertising. Okay, what does that mean for our society? What does that mean for our culture? What does that mean for how men view women? What does that mean for our interactions together? And what are the consequences in our interactions with each other?... If we want to go there, we can do that...we even touched on how women talk differently than men. Even though this is a relatively light subject, women speak differently. We have different ways of communicating, and that's a very deep subject at the heart of when we think about feminism and gender roles. 

From this conversation tonight, at least in our experiences, if women in craft beer...if it's not equally balanced...this is a great platform to start getting there.

So give it a listen, be kind to us as we move through the conversation, pick up a beer, and keep this going.

the session

Baking with Beer: Lemon Lover Cake with Raspberry Ale Filling

Added on by Rebecca Patrick.

Because you're a darling, I bring you this cake. Because you made it through Monday. Because it's dark outside and winter is coming. Because you're here I bring you this cake that will shoot sunshine directly into your kitchen. This cake is the stuff of dreams. The lemon cake itself is light and more airy than you could believe, and it seems hardly real that something so soft can hold its shape. The raspberry filling is tart, splashed with lip-puckering raspberry ale, and the balance of the raspberry and lemon is beautiful. They bring out the best in each other, and then when you taste the lemon cream cheese frosting...well you're just going to squint your eyes and smile.

Founders Rubaeus Raspberry Ale

Lemon Cake (also Lemon Lover Cupcakes) (recipe from My Baking Addiction) Yields one 9 inch round cake layer

zest from one lemon 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract (it's worth the money) 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 1/4 cups cake flour 1 Tablespoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 1/4 cup buttermilk 4 large egg whites yellow food coloring as needed

Italicized ingredients/measurements are those differing from the original recipe.

1. Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt in small mixing bowl. Beat eggs and milk in a separate bowl. 2. In medium bowl, rub lemon zest and sugar together until the sugar is a uniform pale yellow and feels damp. Add butter, vanilla extract, and lemon extract, and cream until smooth. 3. Add 1/3 flour mixture, mix well. Add 1/2 wet mixture, mix well. Add 1/3 flour. Mix. Add remaining 1/2 wet. Mix. Add remaining 1/3 flour. Mix until just combined. Gently stir in food coloring until you reach your desired yellow. 4. Butter and line 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper. Batter will fill pan about halfway. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean. 5. Let cake cool completely, and cut layer in two halves horizontally. 6. Spread raspberry ale filling on bottom half generously. Assemble the top layer, and frost with lemon cream cheese frosting.

Lemon dream cake

Raspberry Ale Filling

One 10 oz bag frozen raspberries 1 Tablespoon cornstarch 2 Tablespoons water 2 Tablespoons Raspberry Ale (Founders Rübæus Raspberry Ale), flat

1. Let frozen raspberries thaw in a medium saucepan until soft. 2. Mix cornstarch, water, and beer together. Pour over raspberries. 3. Bring mixture to a boil slowly while crushing raspberries, and let boil for one minute. Mixture should change consistency to become thick. 4. Take off heat and let cool to room temperature. 5. Store extra filling in airtight container and use within 2-3 days.

Lemon dream cake

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces cream cheese, softened 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 teaspoon lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract 2 cups confectioners sugar

Beat all ingredients together until fluffy, but not too runny. You may need to put the frosting in the refrigerator to chill for just a few minutes halfway between mixing. Frost, and store in fridge after cake has been out for a few hours.

To store for longer periods of time, cut your cake into slices and seal with cling wrap. Freeze sealed pieces of cake, and put individual pieces in the refrigerator about 8 hours (or overnight) before enjoying.

drink this! Thomas Creek Chocolate Orange IPA

Added on by Rebecca Patrick.

Thomas Creek Chocolate Orange IPA All in all… My first thoughts were "Chocolate? IPA? With Orange? This should be interesting." When I grabbed this from Friendly Package I assumed it was a chocolate orange stout or porter, because who puts chocolate in an IPA right? Well these guys do, and it's delicious. Never would I imagine chocolate being used for a pale ale, let alone an India Pale Ale. Black IPA? Maybe...but this...this works. The aroma is slightly light and citrusy, and this is a full-bodied, flavorful, and rich IPA. Now, the chocolate isn't right at the forefront, but in my opinion it really deepens and builds out the flavor here. It's almost like a Porter/IPA lovechild hit all the right branches of the beer family tree. I have to say, I am mighty impressed with this one.

I really really can't get enough of this.

Bonus: Look out for a Chocolate Orange IPA Cake recipe soon...

Recommend to a friend? Absolutely. I was very pleasantly surprised.

Lightweight-safe? Nope. Not at 7.5% ABV

Plus one? With this flavor? Yes please. With that ABV? No thank you.

Get a six pack? I think these come in four packs, but yes, I would recommend grabbing a full pack of this.

The Hops Thomas Creek Brewery - Greenville, SC India Pale Ale

Leftovers: Adventures in Film

Added on by Rebecca Patrick.

Yesterday I spent the day in Paducah, Kentucky with my family, which has turned out to be such a neat downtown and great example of a community fully investing in itself to revitalize an area. Ten years ago apparently downtown Paducah was like many other contempoary downtowns - business draining as a shopping mall drew people and shoppers to the outskirts of town. However, the city and business owners deeply invested in the Artist Relocation Program, and the downtown has thrived. The riverfront walls protecting the city have been covered in murals depicting the city's history, there is apparently a thriving music scene, and the several restaurants we went to yesterday were delicious. It was an active, eclectic, bustling area, and a delight to spend the day exploring. There was even an Octoberfest in full swing when we arrived, and I was all too content to spend some time in a thick sweater drinking a Smuttynose Brown Ale at lunch. Anyways, as I'm up incredibly early (woke up at 6 am. on my own. on a Sunday...yep) I've been looking through some of my old film that hasn't made it into blog posts yet, so go make a large pot of coffee and enjoy a few Sunday leftovers.

Strawberry Blonde

Anchor Steam

Sweet peppers

St. Charles Car Show

Saturday grilling

baking with beer: pumpkin beer cake with maple cream cheese frosting

Added on by Rebecca Patrick.

pumpkin beer cake Hello beautiful.

Get ready to have your house smell like fall and barely be able to resist opening up the oven every five minutes to eagerly check on this cake. This cake is the best of pumpkin pie, the best of light & airy cake batter, and the best of baking a cake with beer. This cake is best had in flannel PJs during a frosty morning, with a soft sweater on, and hot cinnamon coffee. This cake is best had before driving to an apple orchard, or with hot apple cider. This cake is best had, really, at all times.

I went home this past weekend and enjoyed some glorious weather, drank delicious coffee, and went to an apple orchard to eat apple donuts dunked in cinnamon sugar. I don't think a bad weekend is possible when you have apple donuts involved, to be honest. I drove through cornfields with fog rising above the farms, and I drank good beer with good people. This weekend was kind, gentle, and filling.

Jacobs Farm

Pumpkin Beer Cake  Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen's Pumpkin Cupcakes

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed 1/6 cup granulated sugar 1 cup cake flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg pinch ground cloves 1/4 teaspoon salt pinch ground pepper 1 egg, room temperature 1/4 cup Schlafly pumpkin beer, flat 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1. Cream butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together in medium bowl. Mix in egg and vanilla. 2. Sift dry ingredients together in small bown (flour, powder, soda, and spices). Add half of dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. 3. Mix in beer until incorporated. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. 4. Mix in pumpkin puree until smooth. 5. Butter one medium cake pan, and my advice? Cut a piece of parchment paper just smaller than the bottom of the pan, and place at the bottom. I also highly recommend cutting stripes to line the sides of the pan. 6. Pour in cake batter and spread evenly. 7. Bake for 15-17 minutes at 350 degrees F, or until a knife inserted comes out clean. Let completely cool then frost!

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting again, slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen's frosting

8 ounces cream cheese, softened 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened 2 cups confectioners sugar 1/8 cup maple syrup

Beat all ingredients together until fluffy, but not too runny. You may need to put the frosting in the refrigerator to chill for just a few minutes halfway between mixing. Frost, and store in fridge after cake has been out for a few hours.

To store for longer periods of time, cut your cake into slices and seal with cling wrap. Freeze sealed pieces of cake, and put individual pieces in the refrigerator about 8 hours (or overnight) before enjoying.

*Unfortunately none of my pictures of this cake taken on film turned out at all. None. I got the shutter speed wrong for the white frosting, and the focus was all off. So this is brought to you by my iPhone and VSCOcam. Thanks for understanding.

The Biercast: we pretend to know about beer, you pretend to listen

Added on by Rebecca Patrick.

The Biercast There were several "best parts" during my time at home this weekend, but the highlight this time around was hands down recording with The Biercast. I found this podcast through a college friend a few months ago, and have been listening regularly ever since. Simply put, listening to The Biercast is like sitting down at a bar with a few friends to chat about anything, everything, and beer. They're comfortable to listen to, entertaining, and I find myself regularly laughing out loud along with them. And their excitement about beer is absolutely contagious. Their friendly banter and familiarity with each other make you feel a part of the conversation as if you're right there with them and can jump in at any point. Andrew and Eric make no bones about it: they make it known that they are "experts with a little e" and are very upfront and honest about being craft beer lovers, not claiming to be experts. (And welcome constructive criticism as such) Personally, I think they deserve a little more credit, but it's refreshing to be around such humility these days.

Anyways, we got to talking via Twitter and Instagram, and they were gracious enough to have me on for the first time for an episode about beer & baking/cooking a few weeks ago. It was a blast and they were great hosts, so since I was heading their way this weekend I offered to bring some St. Louis beer to share. So this past Friday night I joined them and cracked open a Four Hands Contact High (delicious, by the way) and pretty much talked for five hours about beer, women in craft beer (with another guest Whitney), stereotypes surrounding what styles one prefers, bits of news in the beer world, and everything in between. I also gave Eric a heart attack by saying I liked Weeds better than Breaking Bad (yes yes, bring on the indignation - I can take it...maybe). Afterward we talked a little about extroverts vs introverts, how each type draws energy from different types of interactions, and it reminded me of how much I thrive on settings like this, and people like this. It's invigorating to be around people who you could talk for hours with, who are excited to hear what you have to think, and are eager to hear different perspectives. I look forward to hearing how the episodes we recorded turned out, but even if by some tragic accident they were a disaster - it was so much fun that it would still be worth it.

I highly recommend listening to these podcasts, because it's so enjoyable just to listen to each episode. This isn't going to be a podcast that just reviews beers, or is a lecture about various styles, or a rundown of all the craft beer news. Expect a few tangents, and for things to get off topic for a little bit. Stay with them and enjoy the conversation. Download one and listen during a slow afternoon at work, on a drive, or even while you're making dinner. I hope that you'll have the same experience I do, and feel as if there are friends in the same room with you who are just as excited about your latest craft beer find.

P.S. A couple of my favorites have been The 10 Commandments for Craft Beer Drinkers and Beer & Sports.

the unbearable lightness of baking

Added on by Rebecca Patrick.

vanilla whipped cream When I knew I was moving, one of the only things I wanted was a window in my kitchen, preferably by my workspace. Baking is gentle, can be slow, and is made even more magical by a breeze coming in through the window brushing stray hands of hair across your neck. Right now I have that open window, 55 degree fall air coming through, a ceiling fan on, and a heart trying to be still.

I'm a methodical person. Logic was one of my favorite philosophy courses. I thrive on a schedule. I'm a planner. I feel better when I know what the next step is. I like knowing what the outcome is going to be. I read the whole recipe, I get familiar enough with it to know what should be next. But right now, I don't know what's next.

In the grand scheme of things I know where I'm heading. I have a great love, and mountains I want to live between. I know where I'm heading, but the between here and then is so abstract and intangible. What I don't know is how we, or I get there. I have a month-by-month lease, but because of the timeline at work right now I don't know where I'll be in three months. I know where I'll be in about five steps, but the "meanwhile" is unclear. I can barely tolerate that instability and uncertainty, and really can't do anything other than go with it. It's out of my hands for the moment.

But what is in my control is getting the measurement for flour right. I know when to add the liquid ingredients and when to add vanilla. I know I can chill my mixing bowl, pour heavy cream in, add  vanilla, then slowly turn the speed up and wait. I know that with patience it will start frothing and turn into whipped cream. Delicious, luscious, light whipped cream. And if I want more flexibility I can try to cook. Maybe I can make some pasta sauce and not pay much attention to measurements. But when you crave stability and some comfort, sometimes you just want to rely on mixing flour, eggs, butter, and sugar together and knowing exactly what the outcome will be. And a little vanilla. Always vanilla.

Vanilla Whipped Cream

1/2 pint heavy/whipping cream 2 Tablespoons sugar 1.5 teaspoons vanilla bean paste*

1. Chill metal bowl from a mixer for 5 minutes in refrigerator. 2. Pour whipping cream in and turn mixer on low. 3. Gradually turn the speed up to medium-low, letting the cream beat for about a minute between each speed. 4. When the cream is starting to look frothy with lots of bubbles, turn mixer off while you add vanilla paste and sugar. (So it doesn't splatter everywhere). Return speed back to medium-low slowly. 5. Continue to increase speed to medium. (6 on my Kitchen Aid mixer). Be patient and the cream will start to thicken and turn to whipped cream. When it does get thick, check readiness occasionally so as to not over-whip. Whipped cream is ready when you can remove a mixer and soft peaks stay upright.

*I've been using Nielson-Massey vanilla paste for the past two years now, and one bottle has actually lasted that entire time period. I swear by it and use vanilla bean paste instead of extract whenever I can, as the vanilla beans add such a rich flavor.

**Credit due to previously mentioned great love for the blog post title.

drink this! Flat 12 Cucumber Kölsch

Added on by Rebecca Patrick.

Cucumber Kolsch Last night I slept with the windows down and a down blanket on my bed again. I curled up under a second layer of fluffy blankets and had to put on my blue fuzzy robe (with yellow duckies on them of course) in the morning to fight off the chill in the apartment. Friends, even though it was back to a high of 88 today, fall is peeking through. I'm spending every last second of sunshine on my porch in a swimsuit with my sunglasses on and a beer in my hand.

Cucumber Kolsch

All in all… True to its name, this definitely tastes like a light beer with cucumber slices dropped in. I'm not a fan of the aroma right before you take a sip, but this has a really pleasant aftertaste. As my boyfriend stated once, cucumbers are selfish. You add cucumbers to anything and they take over any other flavors present. It's still a nice beer, and be aware that cucumber is very much everywhere. I wonder how this would compare to taking a regular kolsch and adding cucumber slices? Also...sidenote: have you tried putting cucumber slices on your eyelids late at night? God almighty what a delicious feeling.

Recommend to a friend? If you're adventurous give it a try. Plus, where else have you seen a cucumber beer?

Lightweight-safe? Yep! 5.2%

Plus one? I'll have another, but I wouldn't have one more after going to another style. Stick to this and this only.

Get a six pack? Yes please on a hot summer day.

The Hops Flat 12 Bierworks – Indianapolis, IN Kölsch

Cucumber Kolsch

read this! {never} homemaker

Added on by Rebecca Patrick.

never homemaker Ashley from {never} homemaker is easily the most relatable blogger I've read in the past four years. I started reading {never} homemaker back in winter 2009 and haven't stopped checking this page (and then Writing Chapter Three) since. I've continued to have {never} homemaker as one of my daily blog checks because she inspires me to use healthy ingredients (with beautiful pictures), think consciously about food choices, always inspires me to get back to running (seriously, I always want to go put on my shoes and go for a run after reading this blog). But most importantly, because she shares some of life's imperfections with us. She talks about when a recipe doesn't meet her expectations (happens to all of us) or when she slips on her training schedule (definitely happens to all of us). She talks about her worries, she shares the everyday imperfections, and then she shares how she recovers. We all have imperfections, we all have little setbacks, and we all have worries. A deficit I see in blogging is that most bloggers tend to hide those parts. Food bloggers make everything look easy and perfect, so when you find someone who is brave enough to share more of what life really does look like sometimes, you don't step away from a read like that.

P.S. The posts that I go back to and read time and time again? Easy! The running section of this blog. I go through very long phases of not running, but each time I gear myself up to start again I usually spend quality time re-reading a lot of the running related posts. Getting ready to start running again? Definitely start here. 

going home

Added on by Rebecca Patrick.

home Last weekend I went home for the first time since June. Last weekend I arrived at my dear friend's insanely adorable new house, stared at the front garden, her porch swing, the dried lavender hanging from the ceiling, gawked at the gigantic spider building a web outside her kitchen window, and sat down with a Coors to catch up. We talked about how things had changed over the past year, how we had been lost, but things were slowly becoming more clear. We both have lovely homes that we are relieved to come back to at the end of the day. We aren't trying to escape anymore. We're stepping into lives we can call our own. Is this what it feels like to start "getting it together?"

Last weekend I slept with the windows open at my parents house with crickets as white noise, and I watched entirely too many episodes of Property Brothers with my mother. (Not really, there's no such thing as "too many episodes of Property Brothers") I had my favorite dish at the Indian restaurant in town, and ran into old family friends. Then ran into another friend as I was picking up Indiana beer to bring back with me. It made my heart happy to see people I knew, to catch up, to be around the familiar. Home was familiar, it was comfortable, and it was safe.

six-pack project: indiana beers

Added on by Rebecca Patrick.

Indiana beers This six pack project feature is brought to you by a girl in love with and missing her home state. I've lived in many states and countries, but I'm so proud to call Indiana home. I actually live in Missouri now, right outside St. Louis, and while St. Louis has a thriving craft beer scene I still miss the craft beer community back home. Indiana is this random pocket with an incredible variety, impeccable quality, and unbelievably affordable craft beer. The city I'm from (Muncie) is even more affordable than average, with specials found at local bars like $2 Bell's nights, $0.50 PBR nights, and $4 Zombie Dust. That's right. $4 Zombie Dust (prices of course may have changed since I moved). Indianapolis is teeming with new breweries like Flat 12, Fountain Square, Black Acre (please visit their website and say you're under 21), Sun King, Cutters, Triton, I'm going to miss others if I keep going...and we can claim Three Floyds as an Indiana brewery. But that can be a familiar scene found everywhere. Craft breweries are springing up all over the place. So what is drinking craft beer like in Indiana?

Craft beer in Indiana is going to a local pub where the bartenders actually say hi (waves hi to Savage's and The Fickle Peach), with clientele ranging from professionals going for a drink right after work, parents and grandparents getting a burger and a beer, to local university students. Of course you'll have your lovely cast of local characters as well. Craft beer in Indiana is comfortable. It's welcoming. It's relaxed. It's accessible and affordable. We just want more people to try craft beer. We're excited about the beer we're drinking. And we're bursting with pride. I haven't found it to be boastful, but more the sparkly-eyed "Have you tried this?? It's amazing!" that you ask your friend after sipping a new beer. We want you to come join us for a beer (or a few).

United State of IndianaShirt from United State of Indiana. It's my favorite.

My six pack review is probably going to be a little different from the others as I wasn't able to select each beer from the store and as I don't write typical reviews. As I'm currently living out of state, I was dependent on what my father was able to select last minute at the store before meeting me on our family weekend. While some of these do represent specific beers that you must try if you're in Indiana, these represent breweries that make me really proud to be from Indiana and that I think are doing an amazing job to promote and carry forward the great craft beer culture in Indiana. That being said, as only six beers could be featured there are others I wasn't able to highlight here but are doing a wonderful job. I would highly recommend that you check out Hoosier Beer Geek to explore all the amazing Indiana beers and breweries, and help plan a visit if you are traveling there soon.

Indiana beers

Flat 12 Walkabout Pale Ale

This beer is like an exclamation point. If you take the brightness of a Two Hearted, subtract a little of the bite, and drop the ABV we're on our way to a Walkabout Pale Ale. This pale ale is so juicy and so shiny that I want to have several of them for the middle of winter when I start to forget what summer feels like. This pale ale is for an evening camping, it's for making a bonfire, and for the smell of evergreens. It pairs well with this song.

Flat 12 is one of my favorite Indiana breweries by far. I was so impressed with this beer the first time I had it a summer or two ago, and most beers of theirs that I've tried have been top notch. (With the exception of a kiwi hefeweizen...that just wasn't for me) They even have a Brazilian Coffee Chipotle Vanilla Porter that sounds deliciously rich, which I'm currently trying to use to make a concept cookie. (Wish me luck!) Plus there's a Cucumber Kölsch in my fridge I'm stoked about trying.

Indiana beers

Fountain Square Workingman's Pilsner

I first had a Fountain Square beer on the day of a bike race down in Fountain Square (how appropriate). I met up with a dear friend to watch the race and we walked a while to the Tomlinson Tap Room to catch up, enjoy the air conditioning, and have crepes. It was a gorgeous sunny day, we finished our beers, went back to the races, and enjoyed the summer day. That is a good day for an Indiana beer.

Pilsners are almost impossible for me to pin down. But this one was really enjoyable - after drinking some pilsners it can feel like I'm just drinking water, you know? But the Workingman's Pilsner is heartier (not hearty like a dark ale) and smells like active dry yeast right out of the packet.

Indiana beers

Mad Anthony IPA

This smells like summer. It's sharp and sparkly and feels like fresh cut peaches. The Mad Anthony IPA doesn't leave you with any bitter aftertaste, and is best enjoyed after a day in the sun. Drink one when your cheeks are pink from the sun and heat and the wind has tangled your hair. Unless you're a guy. Then you'd probably have short hair that doesn't tangle. You should still drink this anyways. (This is legitimately one of my favorite IPA's)

Indiana beers

Three Floyds Alpha King

Ah Alpha King. Ah Three Floyds...If you only try one beer out of this six pack, let it be Alpha King. This is the IPA for me. If I had to take one IPA with me to a desert island, I would take an Alpha King. When you're exhausted at the end of the work day, when your Gmail Inbox "unread" count is reaching epic proportions, when you have dishes to clean, and people to call back, have an Alpha King. Then take a bubble bath. This thing has enough strength and heart to carry you through.

indiana beers

Sun King Osiris

Sun King is a big presence in the Indiana craft beer world, and the Osiris is my favorite of their flagship beers. If you love white grapefruit and love citrusy pale ales, this is the one for you. This definitely isn't a brewery you should miss if you spend time in Indiana, and you won't be able to miss them if you spend any time around bike races or cyclocross. Their beer truck is a familiar and welcome sight, and no matter what anyone says I'll always like the Wee Mac because of having it for the first time on a chilly fall day at a cyclocross race traipsing around in muddy boots. Pairing a Wee Mac with a cyclocross race in the fall, boots, and cowbells is a winning combination. The one I have not been able to try but am dying to is their Popcorn Pilsner. I keep hearing amazing things about it, so if you have the opportunity to try it have one for me okay?

Indiana beersUpland Bad Elmer's Porter

You know, I love summer beers. I love lagers. I love pale ales. But the Bad Elmer's porter makes me miss rich, dark beers. This is boozy dessert in a cup. It is roasted coffee. It is chocolate. This is a go-to porter for me. And bonus! Only 5.0% ABV. This is a win.

Upland feels like the definition of an Indiana brewery. They're settled in hilly and beautiful southern Indiana, sponsor camping weekends, and have their own cycling team. While I can't say I would go to bat for every single one of the beers in their regular lineup, the Bad Elmer's Porter and the Dragonfly IPA are not to be missed.

A big thank you for Bryan over at This is Why I'm Drunk for including me in his Six-Pack Project and letting me rave about Indiana. During the day (meaning when I get home from work at lunch and dinner) I'll be posting links to the features for other states from this month. Hope you enjoy and find a few new beers to try in your travels!

Other six-pack projects for August:

 

six-pack project