July 22, 2014

We made it!!! - Colorado...I'm Thirsty!

These past few days in Colorado have been amazing!  I have hung with my awesome friend Summer from North Carolina, now in Colorado, hiked, drank, toured...awesome!  My husband and I keep saying if we weren't such east coast people, this would be an area we would consider.

Our trip started on Friday with a flight from Vegas to Denver (We were in Vegas last week for a conference I was attending).  When Summer picked us up she has chilled Coors in a cooler and we were headed to Golden, Colorado, about 45 minutes away.  She wanted to get there before 4pm when the free tour stopped accepting people.

We got there in plenty of time to the super cute town of Golden.  Coors definitely has its influence on the town but in general it can hold it's own with many smaller craft breweries popping up.  We were told when we entered the parking lot that we would have to wait about an hour and 45 minutes for the tour shuttle but we didn't mind, we were here and we were game.

Downtown Golden, CO.
Summer and I went across the street to a liquor store to score a single a Coors, which we did, but when we got back to the tour waiting area with our brown bags (we're so cool) there were signed that said no drinking with a fine of $150.  So we left hubby in the waiting line while we went to her car to down some beer and catch up.  We got back in line with hubby about 20 minutes later to start the tour.

Now understand that neither hubby nor I are Coors fans.  Well it's not that we aren't fans it's just not the beer we would choose.  Maybe it's an east coast thing but I never knew anyone that drank Coors. My family, if they had a beer at all, were Bud people or more likely Labatt people.  A top three brewery...meh.  But a free brewery tour...great way to start our Colorado vacay!

What a great tour they give!  We were shuttled a short distance to the facility that is 5 miles long!  I loved that everyone got a 'phone' looking device where you can press a number that gives you a self guided tour as you roam the halls.  Very informational and we loved the history!

Tanks, tanks and more tanks, inside the Coors Tour

I didn't know Coors did no many beers!

Half way through we received a small sample of beer and continued to learn more about the science and packaging of the beer.  It was really well done and very fun to learn about.  As I said earlier, we never choose Coors but I would now!  It was so refreshing and you always feel you have a connection after touring a brewery.

A couple fun facts I learned on the tour:
  1. The founder of Coors also invented the two piece beer can and didn't patent it because it wanted it to become the standard - you would never see that now a days.
  2. Silver bullet, as it came to be known, is because one of the daughters in the Coors family went to college and that is what her friends were calling it so she told her father and they made that a marketing campaign.
  3. I had no idea Coors made or bought out or made so many different beers like Blue Moon and Leinenkuglel's and Killians.
At the end of the tour you get to the tasting room.  You get to have three samples but let me tell you these are not samples!  You get about three pretty big beers, like 8oz!  The tasting room is super cute and you can tell it's a Friday because a lot of college age kids are here for the free beer I am assuming.  The other thing I like about the tour is there were flowers EVERYWHERE!  Very pretty.

Love the flowers EVERYWHERE...including here in the tasting room.

"Three free 8oz pours!"

April 7, 2014

Homebrew Review

Before I begin I want to stress how much we LOVE Union Craft Brewing in Baltimore.  We've lived here about a year and a half and it's been our favorite Baltimore area craft brewery by far.

It's National Beer Day so of course we had to celebrate (any reason to have a beer really).  This weekend my husband was excited to get a single can of Balt Altbier from Union at Grand Cru Baltimore.  We aren't opposed to having a full pack of this awesome beer but we have so much beer in the house right now a single was probably best.

What he really wanted to do was compare the Balt Alt to his homebrew clone we fondly call Alt-imore.
Union's Balt Alt vs. Homebrew Alt-imore.  Can you tell which is which?
So he poured both into a glass and gave them both to me to try to see if I could tell the difference.  I tasted them both and I thought the one in the Natty Boh glass was his homebrew.  You might be able to tell from the photo, it's a little lighter in color and tasted really good but a bit waterier then the other, which isn't uncommon in his homebrew.  The one in the Utz glass I thought was Union's because it had a fuller, richer taste.  Well I was completely wrong!  The fuller beer was his homebrew and the other was Union's.

He is so proud of this beer, and rightfully so!  He even entered it into the Barley Legal 4 Homebrew competition and came in 2nd place for his category.

Wow...what a way to celebrate National Beer Day!



Happy National Beer Day

Happy National Beer Day!  How will you celebrate?

March 16, 2014

Guinness Brownies

I like to cook when I have time.  Cooking sweets isn't my favorite though since it's only the two of us.  I hate having desserts around since it's unnecessary calories, split between two people, isn't the best decision in the world.

I love dark beer and I love Guinness.  This recipe is great, festive and allows me to bring a treat into work to share with the masses. Pinterest gives me a lot of inspiration and this recipe I found on I've been waiting for St. Patty's Day to come around to try it.

Like many blog recipes, inspiration comes from another blog and they get it from another and so on, this is true with this recipe.  What I followed, for the most part, came from this post by Blondie's Cakes & Things.

While making this of course I had to have festive music playing.  iTunes has two great Irish music stations right now through iTunes Radio.  I personally like the Irish Rock one.  I really wanted to listen to a CD of my favorite Irish rock band, Seven Nations, but couldn't find it. :(  But if you ever get to see them play in person it's a must do!

What is nice about this recipe is you don't need any crazy ingredients and most you probably already have.

Ingredient List:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (I used wheat flour)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 8 ounces dark bittersweet chocolate (I bought Ghirardelli chips and measured out 8 oz.)
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate (I bought Toll House White Chocolate Chips)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar (I used the baking Splenda/White sugar mix that I've been trying to use up)
  • 2 bottles Guinness Draught Beer
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used a mint and chocolate combo bag I found on sale at Target, looks like it comes out for winter baking)

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees (F).  Spray 9x13 inch baking pan with non-stick spray or lightly grease with butter.
2.  Pour both bottles of Guinness into a medium saucepan and simmer on medium until it is reduced down to 1 1/4 cups.  Set it aside to cool while you work on the rest of the recipe.(This took me awhile, I didn't feel like it was reducing.  I covered it for awhile.  After about 30 minutes I took it off the heat and as it cooled it seemed to reduce.  I measured out 1 1/4 cups of the liquid when I was ready to use it and had very little left over.) 

3.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa and salt until evenly combined.

4.  Melt butter, bittersweet chocolate and white chocolate together in microwave.  Melt for 30 seconds, stir, 30 seconds stir and so on until it is melted and mixed together.  (It took me 3 times of 30 seconds then stirring for it to be ready)

5.  In a large mixing bowl beat eggs and sugar with a mixer until it is light and fluffy.  Add melted chocolate mixture to bowl, mixing until combined.

Look how festive I am with my green and orange!
6.  Mix flour mixture into chocolate mixture.  (You might want to stir it in first to get the cocoa 'wet' or the mixer will make it 'dusty')  Mix in reduced beer and vanilla.

7.  Pour into making pan.  Sprinkle mint and chocolate chips on top.

8.  Bake 25 minutes on center rack of oven or until a toothpick comes out clean.
9.  Let brownies cool then eat and enjoy! 

I think these came out pretty good!  The mint chocolate chips are a good addition if you like that type of thing.  It sure did make the apartment smell good.  This recipe makes a dark, dense brownie.  The beer enhances the dark chocolate taste, so if you like dark chocolate you are good to go!  Since these are pretty rich, I was able to get 24 brownies out of one pan.

Here is the nutritional break down based on what I added to MyFitnessPal (24 servings per batch):
  • 234 Calories per brownie
  • 30 carbs
  • 12 fat
  • 3 protein
  • 46 sodium
  • 2 fiber

"Tastes like a thin mint smashed on top of a brownie."

March 12, 2014

Breweries of the United States

This is pretty sweet!!!  This interactive map of the United States lists, what looks to be, most of the craft breweries out there.  Click the map below to take you to the website, then click the map on that site to zoom into the different areas of the U.S to find your favorite breweries.

Beware this map can definitely suck you in but it's fun to see where the hot spots of craft beer are and where they aren't (eh hem North Dakota).

Via Pop Chart Lab
You can buy a print of this map for a reasonable price although it says it is currently back ordered.

February 26, 2014

Spent Grain Bars

As home brewers know, making beer is quite a lengthy process.  There is a lot of waiting for the liquid to 'do its thing.'  After the steeping process (which looks like your are making a giant batch of tea) you are left with a ton of byproduct made up of whatever grains were used.  If we make a full batch of beer (5 gallon bucket size) we end up with about a pound and a half of wet grain left over.  Don't throw this grain out!  Try making spent grain bars!

My husband first found this recipe on the blog Flying on Jess Fuel.  She first used their spent grains to make dog biscuits then advanced into making what closely resembles granola bars.  The other nice thing is if you aren't ready to use the spent grain right away you can put it in a Ziploc and freeze the grains until you're ready.

We follow this recipe pretty closely but what is great is you can really add whatever you wish or have around the house!  We usually add almonds, and dried cranberries.  We also don't cook them quite as long as her recipe calls for, which makes ours chewier and not hard.

They sure go fast around our house and the dog knows she always gets the last bite!  On a personal note, these suckers are full of fiber making us (and the dog) very ummm...regular.

"Guaranteed to get you movin'!"