Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Craft Critique: Santa's Butt from Ridgeway Brewing

Sometimes a beer comes along that I simply must try because the name of it calls out the the 12 year old adolescent boy that resides in brain of my 43 year old pre-menopausal body. Santa's Butt from Ridgeway Brewing is one such offering. I first heard about this beer from a fellow beer geek several years ago and it wasn't only until recently that I stumbled across it at my favorite bottle shop. It is one of several Christmas beers offered by the brewing company and it enjoys the company of Reindeer Droppings, Lump of Coal and a host of naughty elves that range from Bad to Insanely and Criminally Bad.

So, what are my thoughts on this beer? Let me tell ya...

Appearance-Santa's Butt (yes, I giggle every time I type that) pours a the deep caramel hue of Coca Cola, complete with the slight reddish cast when caught by the light. You cannot see through it, but light is able to penetrate through the beer. It is topped off by a fluffy ecru head that is slow to start dissipating, but when it eventually begins to disappear, it goes away fast. Very little lacing remained in my glass.

Smell-This beer has what I consider a typical porter aroma. It is dark, roasty and toasty with notes of caramel, brown sugar, fig and molasses.

Taste-The taste of Santa's Butt is atypical for the style, tasting more like a brown ale than a porter. There are immediate notes of toasted bread and the slightest hint of caramel that are signature to the style, but I found this beer to be lacking in malty sweetness and the chocolate characteristics that made me fall in love with porters.

Mouthfeel-I was expecting a beer with more substance than this one delivers. It felt too watery to be a porter, once again reminding me of a brown ale. The carbonation falls into the medium to light category and does help make this a very drinkable brew. It feels soft and a little creamy on the tongue but lacks the porter "oomph".

Overall Impression-I so wanted to love this beer for the sheer novelty and corniness of the name. I don't hate it but I certainly don't love it, either. It isn't a bad beer, but it just isn't a good porter. It lacks so many of the traits of a good porter. If you are a fan of the style, Santa's Butt will probably be a letdown for you. However, if you are new to the style, it may make the transition from autumn beers to winter beers a little easier. I would recommend serving this with pulled pork or brisket, beef stew, pecan pie, turtles or a vanilla salted caramel cake.

The Craft Critique: Samuel Smith Winter Welcome Ale

Winter Welcome Ale from Samuel Smith Brewery is a "seasonal beer is a limited edition brewed for the short days and long nights of winter. The full body resulting from fermentation in ‘stone Yorkshire squares’ and the luxurious malt character, which will appeal to a broad range of drinkers, is balanced against whole-dried Fuggle and Golding hops with nuances and complexities that should be contemplated before an open fire".

Here are my interpretations of this beer:

Appearance: Winter Welcome pours a warm, golden hue with a light head that quickly fades. This brew offers minimal lacing.

Smell: The smell of this brew is sweet with some very obvious apple notes. There is an underlying scent of bread and a caramely sweetness.

Taste: A lightly sweet flavor that turns to apple and citrus if you hold the beer on your tongue.This flavor quickly turns into a chemical like taste if held too long, which is definitely off-putting.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied brew with light carbonation. Personally, I would have liked a little more bubble action.

Overall Impression: In my opinion, this is on okay beer for the holidays. It provides nothing noteworthy (good or bad) that makes it a holiday standout. The flavor is lighter and fruitier than most seasonal brews without the spicy character that is popular this time of year. It goes down easy but is lacking in oomph. I would recommend this beer for holiday snacking, served with poultry, wild game or holiday seasoned meats such as those with cranberries or spice. For those looking for vegan friendly beer, this one is registered with the Vegan Society and is suitable for vegetarian and vegans.

Winter Welcome is brewed by the Samuel Smith Brewery of Tadcaster, England. It is available for sale in 550ml bottles. To locate a retail outlets near you, please visit the retail search function online. For more information, please visit the Samuel Smith Brewery website or Facebook page.

Celebrate the holidays with a Merry Prairie Cocktail from Prairie Organic Spirits and Dustin Parres

The holidays are a special time to celebrate friends and family, create lasting memories and share in delightful treats. This holiday season, toast to great taste with a sophisticated handcrafted cocktail courtesy of St. Louis mixologist, Dustin Parres, made exclusively for Prairie Organic Spirits!

The Merry Prairie 
  • 2 oz Prairie Organic Vodka 
  • 2 oz White Cranberry Juice 
  • 2 oz Club Soda 
  • ¼ oz Mint Liqueur 
  •  3-5 Cranberry and mint infused Ice Cubes 
  • Lemon Twist for Garnish 
In a pint glass with regular ice, combine Prairie Organic Vodka, white cranberry juice, and mint liqueur. Shake and strain into pint glass of cranberry and mint ice cubes. Top with club soda. Garnish with a lemon twist. For the ice cubes, simply place one cranberry and shredded mint leaves in an ice tray fill with water, and let freeze completely.

Made with respect from seed to glass, Prairie Organic Spirits is the #1 organic spirit*, offering 100% certified organic vodka, cucumber-flavored organic vodka and organic gin, which are made from single vintage organic corn grown on a handful of family-owned and operated Minnesota farms. Each bottle of Prairie Organic Spirits takes three years of meticulous work and provides an elevated cocktail experience that we can all raise a glass to this holiday season.

Product Review: Nature's Path Pumpkin Flax Granola

Recently, I received a sample packet of Pumpkin Flax Granola from Nature's Path in the latest shipment of goodies I got from SampleSource. I have eyed the small package with anticipation for the last couple of weeks, just waiting for the right time to finally open it and dig in. Today was that day and I am actually enjoying the last few nibbles of my sample as I type up this review.

Nature's Path Pumpkin Flax Granola is made with a blend of rolled oats, cane sugar, soy oil, brown rice flour, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, oat syrup solids, sea salt, molasses and cinnamon. It is a non-GMO verified product and USDA certified organic. It also contains 5 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein, 31 grams of whole grain and is considered an excellent source of ALA Omega-3. Nature's Path describes their granola as:

"Enriched with pumpkin and flax seeds to offer up an impressive 450 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids and 1500 mg of Omega-6 fatty acids"

All of this sounds great, but let's be honest, how many of us are going to spend our hard-earned money on this product if it doesn't taste good? Well, luckily for us, it is good for our taste buds as it is our bodies.

Unlike many granolas that are hard, Nature's Path Pumpkin Flax Granola is very easy to chew. It doesn't contain the heavy coatings and sharp edges that make so many other brands difficult to eat. This granola is packaged in small pieces and comes with a very light coating, which can make it difficult to eat if you're on the go, but not having to gnaw your way through hard clumps is a definite plus! It is the perfect blend of crispy and crunchy thanks to the abundance of flax and pumpkin seeds mixed throughout. But what about the flavor, you may be asking. Well, the flavor is simply fantastic. There is a light sweetness to Pumpkin Flax Granola and a hint of cinnamon, but neither are overpowering.

As much as I enjoy both the texture and flavor of this granola, my favorite thing about it is its versatility. It can be eaten straight from the package as a quick and easy, although slightly messy, snack or you can pour it into a bowl and top it with fresh fruit and your favorite milk and enjoy a hearty breakfast. Microwave it for a hot cereal alternative on cold mornings or mix it in with oatmeal or cream of wheat for an added boost in flavor and nutrition. I can also easily see myself stirring it into a cup of yogurt or sprinkling it on top of frozen yogurt, as an ingredient in a parfait, topping on a trifle and so many other ways to incorporate this yummy granola into my every day meals.

I love eating granola and have been known to make my own when time allows, but I have weak teeth so eating it can be a painful experience that leaves my mouth and jaw aching for days afterwards. Since trying this product out, I have a very strong feeling that granola is about to become a regular part of my diet instead of being an occasional and painful indulgence. Thank you Nature's Path! I can't wait to try out some of your other products. For more information about Nature's Path, Pumpkin Flax Granola and their other products, please visit their website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram.

Related Products

Disclaimer: I received this sample of Nature's Path Pumpkin Flax Granola as a participant of the Sample Source program. This free sample in no way colored my opinion or affected my judgement of this product. My opinion is my own and free from bias. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Family time is hard, celebrate the holidays with the new pinot grigio from SWISH Beverages

SWISH Beverages, a company founded by "The Fat Jew" and creators of "White Girl Problems", announced the release of their newest product: Family Time Is Hard. Family Time Is Hard is a revitalizing pinot grigio created to make life a little easier during the insanity of the upcoming holiday season.

"We made this for anyone with a family. Walk into the living room with this bottle of pinot grigiot and let everyone in your family know exactly how you're feeling-light, crisp, refreshing and refreshingly honest."

Pinot grigiot is the most popular white wine during the winter holidays as it pairs wonderfully with a wide variety of dishes, including fish, grilled shrimp, pasta, salads, passive-aggression, catching up and general family time. Family Time Is Hard is a bright, medium-bodied pinot grigiot with notes of citrus, pear, melon and mineral flavors with a light to medium acidity. Family Time Is Hard will be available online at and in select retailers beginning November 10th. For company news and updates on Family Time Is Hard, BABE and White Girl Rose, please follow them on social media at @whitegirlwine.

Professional golfer Graeme McDowell to pair his passion for beer with Harp's legacy

Boiled down to their most basic terms, golf and beer seem like pretty simple concepts. One is all about hops, yeast, barley and water, while the other can be thought of as simply grass, a club, a ball, and a hole. What isn’t so obvious is the huge amount of hard work, dedication and precision that goes into each craft. A shared passion for these principles, as well as for quality beer-making, are what help draw together a beer like Harp Lager and an athlete like Graeme McDowell.

Officially announced on November 17th, the golfer and beer aficionado – who spent his early years just a short distance from the brewery – will tap into his love for the craft of brewing in an effort to put one of his long-time favorite beers back in the spotlight in the U.S.

McDowell knows a thing or two about golf. He’s won 13 tournaments in various parts of the world, including a big win at the 2010 U.S. Open, and has played on four European Ryder Cup teams. But he also knows a great deal about beer, especially Harp, and what it takes to produce quality – day after day, pint after pint. While many golfers are involved in winemaking when they’re not on the course, McDowell is now poised to blaze a trail alongside Harp within the beer category, while encouraging responsible drinking at the proverbial “19th hole.”

McDowell had this to say about his new partnership:

“Golf has taken me all around the world, which has also grown my beer knowledge, but it all started for me in Ireland, where I first got to know Harp. I’ve always been a fan of great beer, and Harp and I have more in common than just being products of Ireland. We’re both trying to achieve a level of excellence that some might say isn’t even possible. I’m really excited to join up with them to do some exciting things in the near future.”

To begin the partnership, McDowell will appear in digital videos and social content for Harp, be featured on point of sale materials in both on and off-premise locations and also participate in press events in support of the beer.

Harp Lager was first brewed in 1960 by Guinness under the guidance of German master brewer, Dr. Herman Muender. The golden, clear lager has a dry and malty front with a crisp and hoppy finish, with an ABV of 4.5% and 21 IBUs.

“Graeme is so passionate about beer that he really understands why we go through such lengths in our brewing process, why we’re so particular about the ingredients we use and why we sometimes seem obsessed about how we present the Harp legacy to our fans,” said Dan Buttling, SVP Marketing, Diageo Beer Company. “He grew up down the road from the Harp Brewery and has brewed beer himself, so he’s as all in on the brand as we are.”

It’s par for the course to drink responsibly; please remember to do so when enjoying a Harp in the clubhouse or at home.

About Diageo Beer Company
Diageo Beer Company (formerly Diageo-Guinness USA) is the U.S. beer and flavored malt beverage business of Diageo. Brands within Diageo Beer Company include the iconic Guinness, Harp, Smithwick’s and Smirnoff ICE. Diageo Beer Company is a global company, with its products sold in more than 150 countries worldwide. For more information about Diageo Beer Company, visit at

Thanksgiving turkey and gravy recipe from Atkins

For a healthier version of the traditional Thanksgiving Day turkey and gravy, try out this tasty recipe from Atkins.


  • 12 pounds whole turkey, defrosted, rinsed and patted dry, giblets reserved 
  • 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning 
  • 7 cups water-1 cup for turkey and 6 cups for gravy 
  • 1/2 celery stalk, halved 
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed 
  • 2 to 3 parsley sprigs 
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 4 black peppercorns 
  • 1 cup chicken broth 
  • 1 tablespoon Thick-It-Up

For the turkey: 
Heat oven to 325°F. Place turkey on rack in large shallow roasting pan. Season turkey generously with salt and pepper and poultry seasoning. Add water to pan. Roast, basting occasionally with pan drippings and adding more water if pan gets dry, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh but not touching bone registers 175° to 180°F and the stuffing registers 165°F, 3 to 4 hours. If necessary, cover turkey loosely with heavy-duty foil during the last hour of roasting so it doesn't get too brown. Transfer turkey to cutting board, cover loosely with foil and let stand 20 to 30 minutes before carving.

For the gravy: 
Combine giblets, water, celery, garlic, parsley, bay leaf and peppercorns in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Skim off the foam that rises to the surface. Reduce heat to very low and simmer until reduced to about 2 cups, 3 to 4 hours. If you like, dice the giblets, and remove the meat from the neck to add to gravy. Strain; wrap in plastic. Refrigerate broth and giblets until ready to use. Pour juices from roasting pan into a fat separator or glass measure; skim off fat. Add giblet broth to measure 3 cups. Add chicken broth, if needed; if you have more than you need, reserve for another use. Place roasting pan on stovetop over two burners. Add pan-juice mixture and bring to a boil over medium heat, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan. Stir in thickener and giblets and neck meat, if desired. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat to low and simmer until thick and flavors are blended, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Carve turkey and serve with the gravy and stuffing.

Pumpkin pie spice recipe

Why waste your hard earned dollars buying a pre-made pumpkin pie spice mix when you can easily create your own from spices you most likely already have on hand?


  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir until thoroughly combined. Store in an air-tight container and store away from direct light and extreme temperature fluctuations.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Never fail pie crust recipe

If you are looking for a simple pie crust recipe that yields consistent results, look no further! This crust always bakes up beautiful and flaky. I use it for all of my pie and pot pie recipes.This recipe will yield 3 crusts.

  • 2 1/2 cups flour 
  • 1 cup shortening 
  •  1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 egg 
  • 1/4 cup very cold water 
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar 
In a large bowl, combine flour, shortening and salt. Cut ingredients together using a pastry blender or fork until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, whisk together egg, water and vinegar then pour into flour mixture. Blend together using a fork or your hands until the mixture comes together and forms a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until time to use. 

11-crust balled

5 tempting recipes for baking with pumpkin

Nothing says "Autumn is here!" or "Happy Thanksgiving" like the smell of pumpkin inspired baked goods. Pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie and the oh so delicious pumpkin roll are seasonal favorites here in Ohio. Local stores can't seem to keep them on hand and restaurants serve them up hand over fist. For those of you who prefer homemade to store bought, indulge in these delicious recipes.

  • 3 eggs 
  • 1 cup sugar 
  • 2/3 cup canned pumpkin 
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  • powdered sugar for dusting 
  • 1 cup powdered sugar 
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened 
  • 8 ounces cream cheese 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and grease a 15x10x1 inch baking pan and line with parchment paper. Generously grease and flour paper. Beat eggs on high for five minutes then slowly add sugar and pumpkin. Mix in flour, cinnamon, and baking soda until just mixed. Pour batter in pan and tap several times on counter top to spread it evenly. Bake for 15 minutes and Immediately turn out onto a linen towel dusted with powdered sugar. Peel paper from cake and starting with the short end, roll cake up in the towel. Cool. While cake is cooling, make filling by mixing powdered sugar, vanilla, butter and cream cheese together until smooth.Carefully unroll cake and spread filling over cake. Roll up again. Cover roll and refrigerate until time to serve.

Cook's Notes Roll can be garnished with additional powdered sugar or caramel sauce. If desired, sprinkle filling with chopped walnuts or pecans before rolling cake.

  • 1 cup softened butter 
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar 
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar 
  • 3 eggs 
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg 
  • 1 can canned pumpkin, 16 ounces 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease 2 9X5 loaf pans. Cream together butter and sugars, add eggs and mix well. Combine dry ingredients and stir into butter mixture until just moistened. Add pumpkin. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes (until a toothpick inserted into center of loaf comes out clean).

  • 1 recipe for a 9 inch single crust pie 
  • 3 eggs 
  • 1 egg yolk 
  • 1/2 cup white sugar 
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 
  • 1 1/2 cups milk 
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream 
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree 
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine eggs, yolk, and sugars. Stir in spices. Slowly stir in milk and cream and add pumpkin. Pour into pie shell.Bake for ten minutes then reduce heat to 350 degrees F and bake an additional 40 to 45 minutes. Cook's Notes The recommended pie crust recipes makes a double crust. You can either cut the recipe for crust in half or double the pie recipe.

  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, rinsed and dried 
  • 6 tablespoons sugar, divided 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 
  • 1 tablespoon butter 
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Spread seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until dry and toasted. While seeds are toasting, mix together 2 tablespoons sugar, salt, and pie spice and set aside. Heat the butter in skillet and cook seeds remaining sugar over medium high heat until sugar melts and begins to brown. Pour seeds into spiced mixture and stir until well coated. Cool before serving.

  • 1 can canned pumpkin puree, 29 ounce 
  • 1 can evaporated milk, 12 ounce 
  • 3 eggs 
  • 1 cup sugar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice 
  • 1 package yellow cake mix 
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted 
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9X13 pan with non-stick spray and set aside. Mix together the first 6 ingredients until well mixed, pour batter into pan. Sprinkle cake mix evenly over the pumpkin mixture. Drizzle butter over cake mix and sprinkle nuts on top. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes.

Sweet potato pecan bread recipe

This bread is a great way to use up leftover sweet potatoes. It is also a delicious way to sneak some veggies into a picky eater's diet.


  • 3/4 cup white sugar 
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed 
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
  • 1/3 cup water 
  • 1 cup cooked and mashed sweet potatoes 
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans 

Preaheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9X5 loaf pan with non-stick spray and set aside. In a large bowl, combine sugars and oil. Add eggs and beat until well mixed. In a second bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Alternating flour and water, stir into sugar mixture until just combined. Add sweet potatoes and pecans and stir. Pour into prepared pan and bake 55-60 minutes. Allow to cool in pan 10 minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.

Old fashioned bread stuffing recipe

Whether this is your first time hosting Thanksgiving dinner or your fiftieth, nothing says tradition like this old fashioned bread stuffing recipe. It is a timeless way to dress up your Thanksgiving meal and have your family begging for seconds.


  • 1 1/2 cups chopped celery 
  • 1 cup chopped onion 
  • 1/2 cup butter 
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning 
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 
  • 12 cups dry bread cubes 
  • 1 cup chicken broth 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place bread cubes in a large bowl. Add butter, celery, onion and seasonings to a large skillet and cook until tender. Add to bread cubes and mix well. Drizzle with chicken broth, tossing to combine. Pour mixture into a 2 quart casserole dish and cover. Bake 35-45 minutes, until heated through. Makes 12 servings

Sausage and cornbread dressing recipe

If you are looking for a new dressing to serve with your Thanksgiving feast, this one is a delicious choice! It has many of the traditional flavors we associate with dressing with the savory flavor of sausage and a satisfying crunch from pecans. It's sure to be a hit.


  • 12 ounces sausage 
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped onion 
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper 
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery 
  • 1/2 cup butter 
  • 5 cups dry white bread crumbs 
  • 4 1/2 cups crumbled corn bread 
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning 
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper 
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted 
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken broth 

Brown sausage and drain well. Set aside. Add butter, onion, pepper and celery to the same skillt used for browning the sausage. Cook until tender. Add to cooked sausage. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place bread cubes and corn bread crumbs in a large bowl and combine. Mix in sausage and onion mixtures, seasonings, and pecans/ Drizzle with chicken broth, tossing to combine. Pour mixture into a 2 quart casserole dish and cover. Bake 35-45 minutes, until heated through. Makes 12 servings

Pecan tarts recipe

These bite size treats are a delicious addition to your dessert table during the holidays. Their small size also makes them a great choice for work parties, too.

  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  In a large bowl, combine margarine and 1/2 cup sugar. Stir in egg yolks, almond extract, and flour. Spray mini muffin tins with non-stick spray and press the crust mixture evenly into the cups. Bake for 8 minutes. Combine butter, corn syrup and powdered sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add pecans and fill baked crusts half full. Bake for 5-6 minutes. Allow to cool before serving, or serve warm topped with mini scoops of vanilla ice cream.

Quick and easy cornbread recipe

Thanksgiving just wouldn't be the same without cornbread on your table! This recipe makes a great batch of cornbread that can be served on its own or used in other recipes calling for cornbread, such as dressing.


  • 1 cup self rising cornmeal 
  • 1/2 cup flour 
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a shallow baking dish with non-stick spray and set aside. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and pour into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Dovetail Brewery adds fall and winter seasonal wheat beer to its lineup with its new Dunkelweizen

Dovetail Dunkelweizen 300 pixels.jpg
Chicago's acclaimed local brewery, Dovetail Brewery (1800 W. Belle Plaine at Ravenswood in the North Center neighborhood), continues its mission of crafting outstanding seasonal beers with its release of the new Dunkelweizen. This dark wheat beer is Dovetail's interpretation of the classic southern German dark beer that is particularly enjoyable during cooler weather months.

"Our Dunkelweizen is a winter version of our Hefeweizen that is darker in color and features rich chocolate and roast notes in addition to the clove and banana that are traditional Hefeweizen characteristics," said Dovetail co-owner Hagen Dost. "Dunkelweizen is a heartier version of Hefeweizen that is refreshing without being too robust and filling. It pairs well with the heartier foods of late fall and winter."

Chocolate brown in color, it has an alcohol level of 5.1% ABV (alcohol by volume), IBU 16 (International Bitterness Units), EBC 35-45 (European Brewery Convention-a color scale) and CO2 6.6 g/L (carbonation). The serving glass of choice is a fluted Hefeweizen.

The Dunkelweizen is available on tap at the Dovetail Brewery taproom with its expanded hours. The taproom is now open Tuesday through Sunday.

Chicago bars and restaurants currently carrying Dovetail Dunkelweizen include Fountainhead (1970 W. Montrose); The Vig (1527 N. Wells); Riverview Tavern (1958 W. Roscoe); JP Burke's (2913 N. Lincoln); The Beer Bistro (1061 W. Madison); Gideon Welles (4500 N. Lincoln); and Beermiscuous (2812 N. Lincoln).

This month, Dovetail Brewery's taproom was named one of Chicago's best new breweries by

Stop by to visit the taproom, grab a beer and remember to BYOF (Bring your own food). In addition, some of Chicago's finest food trucks frequently can be found parked in front of the taproom.

Bill and Hagen lowres300About Dovetail Brewery 
Dovetail Brewery, located at 1800 W. Belle Plaine in Chicago, Illinois, is a craft brewery owned by master brewers Hagen Dost and Bill Wesselink, specializing in delicious, balanced beers brewed using traditional German and Belgian brewing methods. Signature beers include unfiltered German-style lagers, traditional Hefeweizen, Rauchbier and Lambic-style sour beers. Dovetail Brewery also produces a variety of special seasonal beers.

Taproom hours are: Tuesday- 2 pm - 10 pm; Wednesday- 2 pm - 10 pm; Thursday- 2 pm - 10 pm; Friday- 12 pm - 11 pm; Saturday- 11 am - 11 pm; Sunday- 10 am - 8 pm.

The 22,000 square foot brewing facility includes an attractive tap room that is open to the public for drinking and retail sales. The tap room is also available as a rental space for private events.

Dovetail Brewery delivers beer by the keg to venues near the brewery and also to some select venues closer to the Loop. All bars, taverns and restaurants in the greater Chicagoland area that wish to serve Dovetail beer on tap are welcome to pick up kegs, in two sizes, at the brewery during normal business hours.

For more information about Dovetail Brewery, please visit the brewery's website at (under construction), their newsroom at or contact Bill Wesselink by email at or Hagen Dost by email at For additional information, call 773-683-1414.

Follow Dovetail Brewery on Twitter @DovetailBrewChi
Follow Dovetail Brewery on Facebook

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Maple walnut truffles recipe from Domino Sugar

If you're searching for a new sweet treat that celebrates the flavors of Autumn, look no further than this recipe from Domino Sugar! These truffles are filled with the sweetness of maple and the nuttiness of walnuts.


In a large mixing bowl, cream butter for 1-2 minutes until it becomes lighter in color. Scrape the sides of the bowl often. Add confectioners' sugar, mixing on low speed until incorporated, then on a high speed for 1-2 minutes. Add maple flavored granules, mix an additional 1-2 minutes until very fluffy and pale in color. Remove bowl from mixer; scrape all of the buttercream from the mixer blade. Stir in the chopped walnuts. Spoon into a covered container and store in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours to chill completely. When ready to make the truffles, spoon out a tablespoon-sized amount. Roll into a ball and set onto a foil-covered baking sheet with sides. Put the pan into the refrigerator to chill while melting the chocolate. In a glass or microwave-safe bowl with high sides, melt the chocolate. Carefully remove from microwave and stir well. Remove truffles from the refrigerator and, using a fork, dip truffle into the chocolate, allowing any extra to drip off. Set back on to the foil-covered pan. Place the pan back into the freezer/refrigerator to chill. Place each truffle candy into a mini wrapper. Truffles should be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Truffles can be served cold or set them out at room temperature 5-10 minutes before serving.

Makes 20 truffles.

Quick Tip: You can also dip the fork into the chocolate and drizzle over the tops of the truffles on the pan. Set back into freezer/refrigerator to chill.

Celebrate Halloween with a spooky cocktail from Tommy Bahama Restaurant and Bar

In case you haven't heard, Halloween isn't just for the little ones. Adults have been embracing the spookiest time of year for years and the numbers continue to grow! For those in the Manhattan area, stop by Tommy Bahama Restaurant and Bar and enjoy the creepy Zombie cocktail. For those not in the area, they were gracious enough to share the recipe with us to pass along to all of you.

Glassware Collins, Belgian Beer or Hurricane
Ice Crushed or cubes
Garnish Mint sprig and pineapple wedge

  • ¾ part Flor de Caña 4-year rum 
  • 1 part Mount Gay Eclipse Rum 
  • ½ part Trader Vic’s Dark Rum 
  • ¾ part Cointreau 
  • 1 part pineapple juice 
  • 1 part lime juice 
  • 1 part grapefruit syrup 
  • 1 dash of Angostura Bitters 
  • ¼ part Mount Gay Overproof Rum 
Add all ingredients in a shaker except Mount Gay Overproof Rum and top with ice. Shake well until chilled, strain over fresh ice and top off with Mount Gay Overproof Rum.

Conveniently located in Midtown Manhattan on Fifth Avenue at 45th Street, Tommy Bahama Restaurant & Bar is the ideal location for lunch, dinner or Happy Hour. 
 Tommy Bahama Restaurant & Bar – New York
551 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10176
Open 11:30am Daily, Island Time Happy Hour: 4-6pm Daily
For reservations, please call 212.537.0960 or visit

New still is just the tonic for island gin producer

One of Australia’s first dedicated gin distilleries will begin ramping up production in the next few weeks following the arrival of a new still.

Kangaroo Island Spirits (KIS), located on a pristine island off the coast of South Australia, has taken delivery of a 300-litre pot still and hopes it will eventually allow the business to increase production by up to 10 fold. KIS was established in 2005 by Jon and Sarah Lark and has just produced its 500th batch of its original Wild Gin in its 80-litre copper pot still.

The distillery at Cygnet River now produces two vodkas, liqueurs and up to six gins including its Old Tom Gin, which took out the Champion Gin Trophy at the Australian Distilled Spirits Awards in April.

Jon said the new 300-litre pot still featured a Carter head specifically designed for gin, making it much more efficient.

“We won’t know until we’ve done some test runs – but we could be looking at 10 times the capacity. The 80-litre still was running twice a day in double shifts – it was ridiculously small and there was no room for us to grow with that. A 300-litre still is quite small in the scheme of things so it definitely will still be craft. The products that come out of this new still will be absolutely the same gins - they may actually be smoother but I don’t think they will be discernibly different.”

KIS currently produces about 20,000 bottles a year and is sold in more than 200 bars, restaurants and bottle shops across Australia. Its gins boast a distinctly Australian flavour enhanced by the inclusion of local botanicals such as foliage from the coastal Daisy bush (olearia axillaris), native Juniper (myoporum insulare) and locally grown Lemon Myrtle and Aniseed myrtle.

Jon said he was fielding inquiries from Hong Kong, Mainland China, the United States, Spain, UK and New Zealand.

“We are finding there is increasing demand for our products and export is certainly on the horizon but we keep surprising ourselves with how much the domestic market is sucking up, which is great. We’re already thinking down the track – in two or three years time we might need to get another small still.”

Jon’s brother Bill Lark started Australia’s first craft distillery in Tasmania in 1993 and has built Lark Whisky into a globally respected product.

“We were probably the first Australian dedicated gin distillery when we started 10 years ago. We felt the early rumblings of this coming out of the UK and we decided we wanted to do small batch gin by hand using some local botanicals.”

Kangaroo Island, Australia’s third largest offshore island, is about 150km southwest of the South Australian capital Adelaide. Known for its natural beauty and wildlife, it is a tourism icon drawing more than 40,000 international visitors every year with the majority coming from Italy, Germany and North America. Jon said the mystique, beauty and tourism appeal of Kangaroo Island had helped his business. He said the proliferation of other Australian craft gins in recent years had done little to slow the growth of KIS.

“Demand for our spirit hasn’t fallen off at all. Once our still is in place we’ll do some trial runs this year of a rum and a whisky and there’s great potential on the island to work with KI Pure Grain and local beer guys to do some mash runs for us, which would be a nice co-operative arrangement for the whisky.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Caleb Radford (author) and Dean Wiles (photographer).

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Beets: The one root veggie you aren't eating but should

Beets and asparagus on a plate.I can almost hear the fallout now…

“Beets? Eewwww! What were you thinking, writing about beets?!”

Well, what I was thinking was that I wanted to write about a food item that I am not personally very familiar with in hopes of developing a potential fondness for it and hoping that maybe, just maybe, a reader or two would learn something along the way and try something new as well. I must admit that my exposure to beets has been very limited. Limited to only those brightly colored abominations known affectionately by some as pickled beets and called disgusting by countless others. My mother tried her hardest to get me to eat those things in my early years and I held fast, refusing to even give them more than a perfunctory sniff when presented with one. Fast forward 30 years, and here I am, writing about the many virtues (yes-there are many!) of this often misunderstood root vegetable. My, how the times have changed! Want to learn more about beets? Keep reading…

Beets, also known as beetroot, table beets, garden beets or red beets, are an edible, cool season vegetable. They are in season from June through October, making the summer months the perfect time to enjoy this veggie. Both the root and leaves are edible, making it a versatile vegetable to cook with and enjoy. Wild beets are believed to originate from pre-historic North Africa where just the leaves were eaten. It wasn't until the ancient Roman times that humans began consuming the root as well. During the middle ages, beets were often used to treat digestive problems and illnesses associated with the blood. It wasn’t until the 19th century that the beet was introduced to North America. Beet juice is currently used as a coloring for a wide variety of various other food items, including breakfast cereals, frozen novelties, tomato paste and sauces, jellies and jams, desserts and ice cream. It is sometimes used to make wine and ink, as well as added to road salt to more effectively treat winter roads.

You may be asking yourself, “Why should I eat beets?”, right about now. Well, according to research there is a growing number of reasons to give this vegetable a try.
  • Beets are a good source of the phytonutrients betanin and vulgaxanthin, which provide anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and detoxification properties. Studies on human tumor cells shown that these compounds can slow down tumor growth and help regulate inflammation specifically in the circulatory system and protect against liver disease.
  • Beetroot juice helps to lower blood pressure and may have a positive impact on athletic performance and exercise.
  • Beets also contain high amounts of boron, which is related to the production of  human sex hormones. They are rich in nitrates, too, which have been shown to boost a sagging libido in both men and women.
  • Pregnant women will benefit from the beta-carotene, beta-cyanine, vitamin B and iron beets contain, as they are beneficial to new cell growth and replenishing iron.
  • Eating beets may help lower the risk of developing colon, stomach, nerve, lung, prostate, breast and testicular cancers.
After reading about the numerous health benefits of eating beets, are you ready to add them to your diet? If so, choose small to medium size roots that are firm, have smooth skin and a deep, rich color. Take care to avoid roots that are spotted, blemished, bruised wet or shriveled. If you plan on consuming the green, the leaves should be fresh, tender and have a healthy green hue.

When storing beets, there are several easy steps to take to provide optimal flavor and preserve their nutrients. Shake the dirt from the roots, do not wash them. Cut the stems off about two inches from the top of the root. If you plan on using the leaves, store them, unwashed, in a plastic bag with the excess are removed. They should be stored separately from the root vegetable and can be kept in the refrigerator for up to four days before consuming them. Beet roots can be stored in a root cellar (or other cool, dry location) if uncut or in the refrigerator for up to three weeks if the leaves have been removed. Place them in a plastic bag, squeeze out excess air. Wrap tightly. Under no circumstances should you freeze uncooked beets.

The beauty of beets is how versatile they are. The roots can be eaten raw, grilled, boiled, baked or roasted while the leaves can be enjoyed raw or cooked. Cooked beets have a buttery flavor while the leaves are similar to chard or spinach. When steaming beets, limit their cooking time to 15 minutes or less to preserve as much as of their nutritional value as possible. To prepare them for cooking, gently rinse them under cold water and rub them with a paper towel to peel (wear gloves unless you want pink hands) then quarter them for faster cooking. To steam them, fill a steamer with 2 inches of water and bring to a rapid boil. Add the beets and cover. Steam for no more than 15 minutes. They are done when easily pierced with a fork.

For those of you who enjoy gardening and wish to add beets to your crops next year, good news! They are a fairly simple plant to grow, but do require good nutrition. Plant seeds once the ground temperature reaches 50 degrees F-usually in March or April. They should be planted 1/2 inch deep and spaced 1-2 inches apart in soil that has a pH between 5.5 and 6. Beets require high amounts of phosphorous and little nitrogen. To ensure germination, keep the soil moist. Once plants are two inches tall, thin them out to 3-4 inches apart. Mulch and water well as they continue to grow. Your first crop should be able to be harvested between 55 and 65 days.

Whether you choose to grow your own, purchase them from a local farmers market or get them at the grocery, there are a number of ways beets can be enjoyed. I hope you enjoy the following collection of recipes featuring this oft misunderstood root vegetable.

For some delicious recipes featuring beets, please click HERE!

Baked salmon over apple ginger quinoa from Nestle

The folks from Nestle were kind enough to allow me to share this amazing sounding recipe for salmon with my readers. If any of you try this, please leave me a comment and let me know if this salmon is as good as it sounds. I am allergic and unable to indulge =(

  • 1 plus 2 tablespoons cup Apple NESTLÉ® JUICY JUICE® All Natural 100% Juice, divided 
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce 
  • 1 tablespoon honey 
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons peeled, grated fresh ginger, divided 
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil 
  • 4 (about 6 ounces each) salmon fillets 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots or onion 
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
  • 1 cup ivory quinoa, rinsed 
  • 1 cup water 
  • 1 teaspoon MAGGI Instant Chicken Flavor Bouillon 
  • Ground black pepper 
  • Sliced green onions (optional) 
WHISK 2 tablespoons Juicy Juice, soy sauce, honey, 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger, vinegar and sesame oil. Reserve half of mixture for serving. Pour remaining mixture into shallow pie plate. Add salmon and turn to coat. Cover; marinate in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
PREHEAT oven to 450° F. Line baking sheet with foil.
HEAT olive oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes or until fragrant. Stir in quinoa; cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in water, remaining 1 cup Juicy Juice, bouillon and remaining 1 teaspoon ginger. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low. Cover; cook for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with fork; cover to keep warm.
PLACE salmon on prepared baking sheet; sprinkle with pepper. Discard marinade. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Drizzle reserved marinade over salmon; serve with apple-ginger quinoa.

Beet, apple and cheddar tartlets recipe

CDC beets
Beets and apples are a wonderful addition to any diet as they deliver a variety of nutrients to help keep a body healthy and happy. These tasty tartlets are especially yummy on a crisp fall day.

Beet, Apple and Cheddar Tartlets
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry 
  • 3/4 cup shredded white cheddar cheese 
  • 1 small Granny Smith apple, cored and very thinly sliced 
  • 1 small beet, scrubbed, peeled, and very thinly sliced 
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves 
Thaw puff pastry and cut into 6 4-5 inch rounds. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lay puff pastry on it. Prick each round all over with a fork. Divide cheese in half then use half to top the rounds evenly. Place 3 apple slices and 3 beet slices on top of the cheese. Top with remaining cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste then bake until pastry is golden, about 12-14 minutes. Tartlets can be served hot or cooled to room temperature.

Bleu cheese and apple bruschetta recipe

blue cheese Français : BleuThis somewhat odd sounding appetizer is packed full of delicious flavor that is sure to brighten any meal. It is especially good when served with beef.

    • 1 loaf French bread, cut into 1/2 inch slices
    • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
    • 1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped. Fuji or Granny Smith work best in this recipe
    • 3/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
    • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
    • 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
    Preheat broiler. Spread bread slices in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Broil until lightly toasted on each side (1-2 minutes then flip and toast broil an additional 1-2 minutes). Remove from broiler and set aside. In a bowl, mix remaining ingredients and top bread with equal amounts of apple mixture. Return to broiler for 2-3 additional minutes, until cheese is soft. Serve hot

    Sunday, October 2, 2016

    The Craft Critique: Chai High from Avery Brewing Company

    Every once in awhile a beer comes along that is a game changer. For me, Chai High from Avery Brewing Company was this beer. I am already a huge fan of stouts and porters with their bold, malty, robust flavor. Make it a coffee infused brew and I am over the moon! While I am not a big fan of tea, I have been known to indulge in the spicy goodness that is known as chai from time to time and I enjoy baking with it in several dessert recipes. When an associate of mine recommended this beer, I was intrigued by the sound of it.

    The brewery gives a very short and simple description of this brew:
    "American brown with local, fair trade, organic chai."
    While I am a fan of truth in advertising, Avery's description of this unique beer is doing them a terrible disservice. Here are my interpretations of this beer.

    APPEARANCE Chai High pours a rich brown, just as any good brown ale should. It is a murky brew topped with a high reaching, fluffy tan head that gives way to a considerable amount of lacing along the glass. It reminds me of the old fashioned cream soda I used to enjoy as a child, but cloudier in appearance.

    SMELL The aroma of this beer tells you right away that you are about to drink something very different from other beers on the market. Immediately your nose is filled with the warmth of chai tea-cardamom, clove, cinnamon and vanilla, a slight booziness and the merest hints of exotic florals. The scent of caramel emerge as the beer warms.

    TASTE The taste of Chai High is exactly what you would expect from a Chai ale-spicy, malty and earthy that gives way to a more traditional brown ale flavor on the back side. It offers a much more balanced flavor than I was expecting based on past experience with chai infused beers.

    MOUTHFEEL This beer offers what I would consider an average amount of body and carbonation. Both suit this beer wonderfully. It has a
    creamy mouthfeel that lingers long after the beer has been finished. The spices used to brew Chai High add a wonderful, lingering warmth on the tongue between sips.

    OVERALL I found Chai High to be a very drinkable brown ale, perfect for the fall season, but it would be just as wonderful on a cold winter night as a chilly autumn day. This beer definitely bridges the gap between seasons in a way so few do. For someone wanting a "fall beer" that is not pumpkin, I highly recommend Chai High. I would also recommend this to my fellow porter and stout drinkers or anyone who is interested in trying a heavier beer but are wary of the heavier styles. I would love to see Avery offer variations of this, much like Triple Digit Brewing does with Chickow. I think this would be amazing as a vanilla chai, pumpkin chai, barrel aged chai or gingerbread chai flavor. When pairing with food, I would try this beer with fall and winter type desserts, such as apple pie or crisp, cinnamon ice cream, vanilla bean cupcakes with a salted caramel filling or a pear galette. It would also work well with a salad that contains apples and a maple or apple cider dressing.

    For more information about Avery Brewing Company and their craft beer selection, please visit their website, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

    Saturday, October 1, 2016

    Italian chicken pot pie and basil biscuits recipe from Betty Crocker

    Do you love chicken pot pie but are getting a little bored with the same old, same old? Check out this scrumptious recipe from Betty Crocker and try something new tonight.


    • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
    • 1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup) 
    • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped 
    • 3 small zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 cups) 
    • 2 cups shredded deli rotisserie chicken (from 2-lb chicken) 
    • 1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce 
    • 1 can (15 oz) Progresso™ cannellini beans, drained, rinsed 
    • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with Italian-style herbs, undrained 
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
    • 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper 
    • 1 cup Original Bisquick™ mix 
    • 2/3 cup yellow cornmeal 
    • 3/4 cup milk 
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil 

    1 In deep 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook onion and garlic in oil 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft. Stir in zucchini, chicken, tomato sauce, beans, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover; simmer 5 minutes.
    2 Meanwhile, in medium bowl, mix Bisquick mix, cornmeal, milk and basil just until moistened. Drop dough by 18 rounded tablespoonfuls onto hot chicken mixture. Cover; cook 8 minutes.

    Sixth annual Rocktoberfest kicks off at Rock & Brews Restaurants

    Rock-Inspired Restaurant Offering Food and Beer Specials in October at Participating Restaurants

    Rock & Brews Restaurants announced yesterday, September 30th, that their sixth annual Rocktöberfest begins today, October 1. The highly anticipated annual celebration of food, beer and rock music, in honor of the traditional Bavarian festival, will run during the month of October, 1-22 at participating restaurants.

    Rocktoberfest guests can enjoy a special Rocktöberfest menu with German-inspired foods and beers. Food specials include: German Pretzel; Bratwurst Sandwich; Chicken Schnitzel Sandwich and Chicken Schnitzel Platter; Braised Red Cabbage; and German Potato Salad. One liter steins are also available for purchase, with a choice of German inspired beers. Throughout the promotion, select Rock & Brews restaurants will offer an array of exciting Rocktöberfest festivities on Friday and Saturday nights, which will include your favorite classic rock tunes, prizes and games – in rock & roll style.

    “Rocktöberfest is our favorite time of year at Rock & Brews,” said Michael Zislis, co-founder and CEO of Rock & Brews. “We take this as an opportunity to pay homage not only to great beer and the famous festival, but also to the best rock and roll music in history.”

    For more information on Rocktöberfest at Rock & Brews, visit to get more details about the festivities at your local Rock & Brews restaurant.

    About Rock & Brews 
    Rock & Brews is a one-of-a-kind, rock-inspired restaurant and entertainment concept designed to engage people of all ages with quality comfort food and local favorites, a broad selection of craft and international beers, and an energized environment that is reminiscent of being at a family-friendly music event. Founded by rock icons Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of KISS, along with partners, restaurateur Michael Zislis and concert industry veterans Dave and Dell Furano, the first Rock & Brews opened near Los Angeles International Airport in Southern California in April of 2012. Each of the brand’s 17 locations in the United States and Mexico boasts a backstage environment showcasing a “Great Wall of Rock,” iconic rock art, concert trusses and lighting and multiple flat screens sharing some of the greatest rock concert moments of all time. Most offer a play area for kids and many are dog friendly. For more information, please visit

    Let’s Make A Deal To Raise a Beer Stein Oktoberfest Style

    Host Wayne Brady Channels His Inner Lederhosen as Let’s Make A Deal Celebrates Oktoberfest on Monday, October 3rd. Nothing says beer drinking like Oktoberfest and Let’s Make A Deal will be celebrating the world’s largest beer drinking event for the first time in the show’s history. It’s time to put on your lederhosen, tap a keg of beer, grab a bratwurst and join host Wayne Brady as he strikes deals with Traders in an attempt to give away Oktoberfest-inspired items such as a trip to Germany and a car from one of the most recognized automobile brands in the world – Germany’s own Mercedes Benz. Games throughout the show are sure to be more fun than a German beer hall, with Traders dipping pretzels to guess mustard flavors, and the Smash For Cash pigs getting dressed up like Bavarians for the festivities.

    Monday, September 19, 2016

    The Craft Critique: Jack-O Traveler Pumpkin Shandy from Traveler Beer Company

    While not technically fall, the temperatures are starting to dip, Oktoberfests are being celebrated and almost nightly the smell of a distant bonfire drifts through my open windows. No, fall isn't here just yet, but it's close enough for me! The first of many pumpkin spice lattes has already been enjoyed, my sweatshirt collection is slowly but surely making an appearance into my wardrobe and the chatter of Halloween costumes is filling the air as my kids try to decide what they want to be for trick or treat. Since I had a short day at work yesterday, I decided it would be the perfect time to break open the bottle of Jack-O Traveler Pumpkin Shandy that the good folks at Traveler Beer Company sent me to review.

    Traveler Beer Company describes their fall seasonal as :
    "Representing the darker side of Shandy, Jack-O Traveler is an alluring wheat beer illuminated by the tastes of fall. It strikes the perfect balance between bright refreshment and seasonal spice. Jack is made with real pumpkin for a delicious dark-hued, Shandy-inspired beer."

    Here are my thoughts on this brew.

    APPEARANCE: Jack-O Traveler pours a rich burnt orange hue that is deceiving to the eye. The color hints at a heavier drink than is what actually delivered. A large, airy head sat atop the beer that quickly gave way to almost no lacing on the glass.

    SMELL: This brew obviously smells reminiscent of a pumpkin pie with a citrusy lemon twist. Notes of traditional pumpkin pie spices shine through-cinnamon and nutmeg make their presence immediately known and dominate the more subtle notes of pumpkin and wheat.

    TASTE: In true shandy form, the first taste of this beer was more lemon than anything else. Subsequent swallows were all pumpkin pie flavor with just a hint of the lemon shining through. The flavor of actual pumpkin hides behind the spices instead of being allowed to shine through. While I love pumpkin beers, I found this particular one to be too sweet for my liking.

    MOUTHFEEL: I felt that Jack-O Traveler embodied everything a shandy should feel like: light, crisp, medium carbonation. It is a very easy drinking beer. As mentioned above, the color of this beer is deceptive, I was expecting a heavier feel than what was delivered.

    OVERALL: Not a bad beer, but not my cup of tea. Some drinkers will love this, some will hate it. But that can be said of every beer. Personally, I fall in the middle of the spectrum. It is not a beer I would go out of my way to track down, but I would certainly not turn it down if another was offered to me. I believe pairing this beer with the proper foods to help cut through its sweetness would have greatly enhanced my enjoyment of it. I would recommend trying it with a rich New York style cheesecake or a baked brie.

    For more information about Jack-O Traveler or any of the other shandies offered by the Traveler Beer Company, please visit their website, Facebook page. Twitter feed or Instagram account.

    Disclaimer: A sample bottle of Jack-O Traveler was provided to me by Traveler Beer Company in exchange for a review. This free sample in no way influenced my opinion and review of this beer. 

    Wednesday, September 14, 2016

    The Craft Critque: Ayinger Oktober Fest Marzen

    Typically, I am not a big proponent of day drinking, especially when I have to go into work in just a few short hours. Today, I made an exception. I have had an extraordinarily productive day thus far, so I decided to treat myself to the sample bottle of Ayinger Oktober Fest Marzen that Merchant du Vin so graciously shared with me. And in true Oktoberfest fashion, I have paired this afternoon's beer with Bavarian pretzel sticks. Yum!

    Ayinger describes their fall seasonal as:
    Rich, golden color. Slightly sweet, malty nose. Medium to big body and alcohol. Soft dryness from long maturation.

    I can't really dispute their description, it is spot on! Here are my insights into this beer.

    APPEARANCE: This Oktoberfest brew pours a rich, deep golden honey color. A pour straight down the center of my pilsner resulted in a tall, creamy head that took its sweet old time dissipating. A light amount lacing lingered on the side of the glass.

    SMELL: The aroma of Oktober Fest is lightly sweet, yeasty with a hint of nuttiness and toffee and caramel. The more the beer warms, the more caramel notes open up.

    TASTE: The first taste of this beer, immediately after it was removed from the refrigerator and
    opened was hoppier than I was anticipating from an Oktoberfest. As the beer warms, the hops take a back seat to the malty, bready flavors that emerge. The flavors of caramel and a slight nuttiness are obvious and hints of dark fruit peek through.

    MOUTHFEEL: This medium bodied beer is silky smooth and leaves a creamy feel in my mouth. The carbonation is a little on the light side, making this an immensely drinkable brew. There is a slight warmth that comes through on the finish.

    OVERALL: I feel that Ayinger Oktober Fest Marzen is an excellent representation of what a Marzen should be. It is an excellent choice for fall drinking for those who do not wish to indulge in pumpkin beers. It's rich and complex without overdoing either attribute. It is very smooth against the palate and immensely drinkable. I can't wait for a crisp Autumn afternoon where I can kick back with a glass of this while I watch football! Food pairings obviously favor traditional Oktoberfest foods such as pretzels, schnitzel, bratwurst, sauerkraut, roasted meats and goulash. If pairing with a dessert, I would suggest a gingerbread inspired dessert or something with a spicy zing to it to balance the rich caramel notes of this beer. 

    For more information about Ayinger and their family of beers, please visit their website and Facebook page.  

    Disclaimer: A sample bottle of Ayinger Oktober Fest Marzen was provided to me by Merchant du Vin in exchange for a review. This free sample in no way influenced my opinion and review of this beer. 

    Vegan Hawaiian meatballs for the slow cooker

    Gardein is a sustainable, meatless protein with the taste, texture and nutrition of meat with no cholesterol, less fat and less calories…and no creature had to die in order to produce it. Gardein offers an amazing variety of meatless meals and snacks - good for you and good for the planet. They are completely vegan, made from non-GMO soy and wheat, ancient grains and veggies; gluten-free products are also available. This recipe for meatless Hawaiian meatballs couldn’t be easier – just toss everything into the Crockpot before you go to work and come home to a delicious cruelty-free meal!

    Meatless Hawaiian meatballs in the slow cooker 

    • 32 oz. package of Gardein meatless meatballs '
    • 1 small pineapple cut into chunks, or a 13.5 oz can of unsweetened pineapple chunks (set aside the juice) 
    • 1 red bell pepper, chopped 
    • 1 cup of brown sugar 
    • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch 
    • 2/3 cup of white vinegar 
    • 2 Tbsp soy sauce or coconut amines (available at most health food stores) 

    Place meatballs in the Crockpot and top with the red bell pepper and drained pineapple chunks. In a separate bowl, mix the reserved pineapple juice, brown sugar, cornstarch, vinegar and soy sauce or coconut amines. Pour the sauce over the meatball mixture and cook on low for 3-4 hours or until heated through. Serve over rice or noodles.

    Celebrate Oktoberfest 2016 at the Historic Ho-Ho-Kus Inn & Tavern

    The proprietors of the circa 1790 Ho-Ho-Kus Inn & Tavern are ready to tap the kegs, raise their steins and shout "Prost" at the landmark's first-ever Oktoberfest. The time-honored traditions of the largest beer and food festival in the world are coming to the Bergen County gem on Wednesday, Sept. 21 through Sunday, Sept. 25.

    Guests of the event are urged to celebrate for five days in the authentic tented Beer Garden on the outdoor heated patio. Daily Oktoberfest brew specials will be on tap from Spaten-Franziskaner-Brau in Germany to Brooklyn Brewery in New York. Visitors can feast on a full menu of traditional German fare, such as Bier Cheddar Soup, Bratwurst Bretzelbrötchen (Grilled Bratwurst, Whole Grain Mustard, Golden Dijon and Scallion Relish, Pretzel Roll, House Cut Fries) and Black Forest Kekse. View full German Menu located HERE. Did someone say Oompah band? Dale Stroever of Channel Three Music and his group will be playing traditional and popular German tunes from 7-10pm on Saturday, Sept. 24. The festivities will also include Oktoberfest 2016 commemorative t-shirts and Ho-Ho-Kus Inn glass steins for sale.

    Ho-Ho-Kus Inn & Tavern's Oktoberfest 2016 Schedule
    Wednesday, Sept. 21, 4-8pm 

    • Brooklyn Brewery, NY "Oktoberfest" & "Pumpkin" 

    Thursday, Sept. 22, 4-8pm 

    • Sam Adams Brewery, MA "Oktoberfest" 
    • Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, CA "Oktoberfest" 
    • New Belgium Brewing Company, CO "Pumpkick" 

    Friday, Sept. 23, 4-10pm 

    • Dale Stroever and his Oompah Band 
    • Flying Dog Brewery, MD "Dogtoberfest Marzen" & "The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale" 

    Saturday, Sept. 24, noon-10pm 

    • Spaten-Franziskaner-Brau, Germany "Oktoberfest" 
    • Beck's Brewery, Germany "Oktoberfest" 
    • Goose Island Brewery, IL "Oktoberfest" 
    • Live Oompah Band: 7-10pm 

    Sunday, Sept. 25, noon-8pm 

    • Brunch: 11am-3pm 
    • A la Carte: Tavern Menu and Oktoberfest Menu available 
    • Breweries TBA 

    Brewery reps will be on hand throughout the festival to answer questions and provide special giveaways. No reservations required. See full details on the Oktoberfest 2016 event page.

    About Ho-Ho-Kus Inn & Tavern
    The perfect setting for casual get-togethers with family and friends, a great date night, or custom private events -- such as bridal or baby showers, wedding weekend brunch or other special occasions -- Ho-Ho-Kus Inn & Tavern was constructed in 1796 by Andrew Zabriskie as a home for his son. It was once used as a parsonage and first became a tavern in 1890. Fully restored in 2009 following a $1.5+M renovation overseen by current proprietors Gordon and Laurie Hamm, it continues its legacy as a beloved local landmark and culinary institution, now featuring contemporary American tavern fare highlighting locally sourced and seasonally sustainable ingredients. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Inn is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.