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The Bang-For-You-Buck IPA (working girls IPA)

4 Jul

Do you love tasty craft beer but hate the high prices?

I feel like an oldster when I am like “I remember when Dale’s used to be $8.99 for a six-pack.”

But really, am I the only one who thinks the price of craft beer has inflated recently? I mean come on craft breweries…I am not made of money and I certainly am not going back to the ANBUSCH products.

So as I scour the racks for a tasty brew that will not blow my budget, I always come back to this old Imagefavorite: Sweetwater IPA.

Located in Atlanta, Sweetwater was one the pioneering breweries of the South. It slowly tricked town to Northern Florida, where I was going to school at the time (Go Noles!).

So lets talk taste: this beer is a citrusy, hoppy IPA. True to the IPA nature, it’s strong (6.5 ABV) and rings in at $7.99/$8.99. It’s a beautiful orangish/reddish color with a great floral smell and undertones of red grapefruit. This is not a piney or grassy IPA and definitely falls heavy on the fruit spectrum.

Image

If you are made of $$$, try something I like to call “IPA of the gods” – Stone IPA.

If not, stick with Sweetwater. You can thank me later.

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Ceviche Salad and Sweetwater IPA: Light and delicious summer dinner

15 Apr

Ceviche salad + Sweetwater IPA = Excellent dinner

Living in Florida definitely has its advantages.

But lets face it, this place is hot as hell.

With no pool, living in town that’s 2 hours from the beach and recently discovering people judge you for slip-n-sliding as an adult, it’s a struggle to stay cool.

So cold beer and cold yummy food are of the upmost importance to stay cool in my post slip-n-side days.

In addition, bathing suit season is right around the corner and I’m feelin’ the need to eat a little healthier and maybe shed some LB’s before I spend some time on the water.

Now, I normally don’t review food, I’ll leave that up to the pros, Healthy Lazy Food and Brave New Food, BUT this was super delicious, easy and involved no cooking. I happened to have some Sweetwater IPA’s in the fridge and a bunch of other random things that ended up being the perfect blend for ceviche!

Ceviche is a blend of random seafood, veggies and citrus. The citric acid actually mock-cooks the seafood, turning it firm and pink, as if you had heated it (no pots and pans – yay!).

The light citrusy flavor of the ceviche went perfectly with the Sweetwater IPA, which is a hoppy, citrusy beer. This is one of my favorite IPA’s, right up there with Bell’s Two Hearted, Swamp Head 10/10/10 and Dogfish 60 minute. Both were tangy, flavorful and light.

I kind of just threw some stuff together, but it ended up turning out great, so here you go.

Random Ceviche Recipe (makes 4 servings)

Ingredients

Just the ceviche, now add salad and chips and beer. DONT forget the beer

12 Large Shrimp

1 Avocado

1 Cucumber

1 Tomato

2 Limes

2 Lemons

1/3 cup Orange Juice

1/3 Cup Cilantro

pinch Cayenne pepper

Directions

  1. Chop up all veggies and shrimp, put in a bowl.
  2. Squeeze lemon and lime juice, add all other ingredients.
  3. Stir up, cover, let chill for an hour or so.
  4. Serve over lettuce (I used organic spring mix), with tortilla chips. Enjoy!

More about Sweetwater IPA! 

Sweetwater beers are delicious in general. Brewed out Atlanta, this craft brewery has been slowly expanding over the past couple of years and now ranks at the 27th largest craft brewery in the US.

They make an impressive IPA – very hoppy, well balanced and has hints of citrus, especially grapefruit. It’s bitter, but not overpowering. It also is not overly sweet, as IPA’s can sometimes be. It has normal carbonation, foam and is overall and excellent beer – worth a try if you like IPA’s or want to try a good, strong (6.7% ABV), summer beer.

10 Reasons why I love Bell’s Two Hearted IPA

5 Apr

Once upon a time, a foam heart appeared in my Bell’s Two-Hearted IPA when I was on a first date with a new boy. It was like a sign from above he was “the one”.

We are now happily married with two kids, an array of adopted pets and a hybrid mini van.

Just kidding.

He was lame.

And he had horrible taste in beer.

Beer gods, you’ve deceived me again.

Bell’s Two-Hearted is my favorite beer and has been for a hot minute. And unfortunately I now associate it with this lame date/beer heart deal.

But regardless, this is a great beer, you should try it, especially if you love IPA’s like me.

10 reasons why I love this beer.

  1. Brewed in Kalamazoo, MI. Lets face it, Kalamazoo is fun to say. Kalamazoo. Kal-ah-mah-zooo.
  2. Hints of tropical fruit and citrus. Most IPA’s have a fruit flavor, but this is different tasting and very distinctive. I detect maybe mango, grapefruit or/and passion fruit flavor.
  3. Intensely hoppy. Like a frog wearing moon shoes.
  4. Perfect aroma. Sweet, floral and fruity smelling. If I could bottle it and wear it as perfume…ok I won’t go that far.
  5. Beautiful color. It has a golden copper hue, and not opague, but a little cloudy. This beer just looks delicious.
  6. 7% ABV. ‘Nuff said.
  7. It has a bite. This isn’t your mama’s watered-down holiday punch – unless your mom is a complete bad ass. It is quite bitter and very hoppy which most definitely gives it a kick. Truck through the first few sips and you will adjust to it .
  8. Well balanced. Sweet malts and grapefruit flavors up front, a piney taste and distinctive hops. Overall, delicious.
  9. Started brewing out of a 15-gallon soup kettle, now a regionally known craft brew company. Legit.
  10. Good carbonation, good foam. Not flat, bubbly and overall fresh tasting.

Put a couple of these bad boys in your fridge and impress your friends.

Did I mention this is my favorite beer?

Swamp Head Brewery: 3 Best Beers

3 Apr

Gaines ville, Flor ida

(geynz– VIL, FLOOR-duh)

– noun

1. A small town in the heart of Florida with an unhealthy infestation of Alligators, Koran-burning lunatics and pretentious academics.

2. A town where Tebow is an acceptable unisex first name for a child.

3. A town that is literally hotter than hell during the months of May, June and July.

4. A town holding the award for ‘most orange and blue infrastructures’ in a 5-mile radius.

5. The birthplace of Tom Petty and Gatorade.

Besides being a quaint small town, Gainesville as a community is very supporting of local music, art and beer.

Bar hop around Gainesville, and you will notice local bars with 2 or more Swamp Head beers on draft. As much as businesses like to support other local business, they would not house these beers if they were not good. These beers are good and have serious potential in the world of craft beers.

Swamp Head Brewery makes a variety of tasty brews that I have come to know, love and recommend at my bar. Here is a run-down of my 3 favorite beers they brew.

Big Nose IPA

As you may have guessed from other posts, I can be a little partial to IPA’s. What’s not to love about them – hoppy, fruit flavors, usually pouring a beautiful orange-red color.

Big Nose is an admirable IPA – full-flavored, strong and hoppy. It has a strong floral smell to it and a slight fruity taste. I like this IPA because it’s not too overwhelming in the bitter category. Overall, love it. If you like IPA’s, a must-try.

Stump Knocker Pale Ale

I like to think of this beer as a less intense, less fruity version of the Big Nose IPA. While this beer is milder than an IPA, it is still flavorful, hoppy and slightly bitter.

Whenever I have sold this at my bar, it has been very well received. Good beer.

Midnight Oil Oatmeal Coffee Stout

Perfect for dark beer lovers. This beer is thick, chocolaty with tastes of coffee. It pours with little carbonation and a light layer of dark brown foam. It has a bite to it and the roasted barley and malts are definitely identifiable.

I often recommend this to people at my bar, and it is always well received. It masters the art of making dark beer drinkable – not too heavy, but still dark, creamy, smooth and enjoyable.

Employee meeting – Oh wait, just kidding, awesome beer tasting.

29 Mar

If you have ever worked at a restaurant or bar, you know to brace yourself when your hear “employee meeting”. It will most likely be an hour rant about high costs, over pouring, too much socializing, blah, blah blah. I get it your angry and we are all on the verge to being fired. Basically, ending with a few empty threats and making you hate your boss even more than yesterday.

So when the bar I work at called a meeting last Sunday afternoon, I reluctantly strolled in hungover a little tired, and prepared to block out what I would hear, and tried to figure out how to sleep with my eyes open.

Not the case. This meeting turned into a 4-hour beer/wine tasting, FIFA tournament, pizza party, funny-You Tube-clip-watching,  Sunday Funday that surpassed the Greater Gator Beer Festival I went to Saturday in terms of trying new beers. We got to try around 50 beers, some from far away lands, some from close by, and I came across some delicious beers and some great blog material.

The boss men claimed they wanted their employees to know what they were recommending to people. Quite the genius plan if I do say so myself.

I have many beers on the docket for review but here are a couple that were too good not mention. Try them if you ever get the chance, you’ll thank me later.

Red Brick 16 Ale (Pricey $$) (Strong :-0)

This is a bourbon-style brown ale. Super good, very very strong (11 percent). Has taste of caramel apples and whisky. This beer is sweet, smooth, bold with a smokey lingering taste.

Coronados Mermaid Red

Not going to lie, this song was playing in my head when I was trying this. Had I not been the only girl in the room, I would have been singing it out loud.

This Amber Ale pours rub red and has taste of carmel and pine. It’s not very bold, but is a light overall tasty beer.

Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted English India Pale Ale (Pricey $$)

This beer is $12 a bottle, maybe not worth it, but really good nonetheless. It’s light, grassy, slightly hoppy with hints of grapefruit flavors. Overall, really liked this beer.

 

Highland Oatmeal Porter

This is one of the only beers we don’t rotate because it’s really good and its not a an overwhelmingly strong beer. You can certainly taste the roased malts and there are hints of coffee and chocolate. I really like this beer.

Cigar City Jai Alai IPA

Like me, this beer was made in Tampa.

It possesses all qualities good in an IPA, hoppy, florally, has citrus and fruit flavors, and pours a beautiful copper orange color. This is something I recommend to people that come in. Great IPA.

Delerium Tremens (Strong :-0)

The beer with the pink elephant, you can’t miss it. Good, but not one of my favorites, personally, but I get so many complements on it I figured I should mention it.

Chrisp, spunky, Belgian style, maybe a slight peppery taste? If Belgians are your thing, you should probably try this. It will come in a fancy glass too.

Duvel

This Belgian Strong Pale Ale does a good job at keeping the classic Belgian beer taste while adding in hops, and slight fruit flavors (maybe pear?)

Abita Strawberry Harvest – A Delicious Summer Beer

11 Mar

When I got a text message from an old friend saying, “Abita Strawberry season is here!”, I just about did a backflip in my closet-sized office.

Abita Strawberry Harvest is a delicious summer beer and one that I have been recommending to people for years. It always comes out in a time when the weather is perfect and summer is on the horizon.

I first tried this beer years ago when a beer distributor brought this to the bar I was working at and I was very skeptical. Beer and strawberries? ..not a likely combo but I was wrong, it was indeed delicious.

A lot of fruit beers are overwhelming with fruit to the point where the beer is not even enjoyable. Other beers just incorporate a fruit taste to cover up crappy beer. Abita Strawberry is neither.

Appearance

Only brewed in bottle, this beer is a light golden color. It’s clear, no sediment, foam and carbonation are normal.

Taste

Abita Strawberry is crisp, light and refreshing. You can definitely identify a strawberry taste but, again it is not overwhelming. I could easily drink two, three or six of these.

I made my dark beer-loving, fruit beer-hating roommate try this and she agreed that it was “pretty good.” I have never heard her say anything close to that about a fruit beer before.

It has no bitterness (which is shouldn’t) and you can pick up on the malt taste.

For a lager, this beer has a lot of flavor. It goes down smooth, no aftertaste, no complaints. I have seen more guys than girls order this beer and let me tell you, if multiple guys can risk their masculinity to order a fruity beer in front of their friends, it has to be good.

I have been to New Orleans six times in my life and this beer embraces Louisiana way of life. It makes you want to sit back on your porch, drink a beer, jam out to some tunes, laugh with good friends and unwind.

Although I am typically drawn to pale ales, this is one of my favorite beers.

Logistics

Abita Strawberry is a wheat beer that is brewed with real Louisiana-grown strawberries, picked at the end of the season for optimal sweetness. No artificial flavors, ingredients or other bullcrap – it’s the real deal.

Due to the great response, Abita is forced to up its production every year.

It weighs in at 4.2 percent alcohol and has 128 calories a bottle (that’s about the best you will get for a good tasting beer).

This year, Abita Strawberry became available 2/22 and will last only a few months.

Abita is an admirable craft company that holds true to their promise of producing good beer and does not sell out on taste for profit. Thir brewery is in a super-cute small town 30 miles north of New Orleans. Abita is one of my favorite brands of beer.

Abita has a handy dandy location tool, you can type in your location and which beer you want to find and it will show you all the places that buy from them. Here’s the link.

Other Yummy Abita beers:

Restoration Ale (benefits Katrina damage)

SOS Pilsner (benefits oil spill damage)

Turbodog

Purple Haze

Abbey Ale

My advice

Get a bucket, ice, friends, bonfire, Strawberry Abita, maybe grill out, crank up some Allman Brothers/Steve Miller Band, (or below video), and enjoy life and the beautiful weather for an evening while this beer lasts. You will thank me later!

Orange Blossom Pilsner – Good Summer Beer But Not Craft Quality(and doesn’t claim to be)

19 Feb

Although, originally I perceived this beer as a craft since I have seen it on draft at places that carry only craft beers and have seen it in a craft festival…I have been mistaken and have had to edit this post.

Thanks owner Tom Moench for the correction and I won’t take into account that you called me a beer nazi.

OBP won the People’s Choice Award at the Tallahassee Beer Festival when I went in 2009. OBP is an okay beer. It is light, crispy and refreshing, it is just nothing special.   I was certainly not jumping up and down signing my “new favorite beer” song or anything.

**Correction. Compared to your typical domestic lager, OBP leaves Bud Light, Miller Light and most other domestic lagers in the dust. Most other beers reviewed on this site cover crafts, which are generally stronger and more full-bodied and much different from OBP.

FYI! Craft beer, refers to a small individually owned beer company, typically producing less than 15,000 barrels, that legitimizes themselves on the quality of their beer and not the marketing/mass quantity sales we see in many companies. Crafts or “microbrews” typically have quality beers that don’t waver in taste for the popular demand. Great craft brew companies include: Oskar Blues, Rogue, Sweetwater, Abita, Cigar City, Lagunitas and Stone.

Appearance

OBP is a golden-honey color. It is clear has a thin layer of thin foam. The bottle is appealing with a bumblebee buzzing around and a claim to infuse this beer with Florida’s own orange blossom honey.

Taste

The first sips of OBP are crisp, refreshing and make you want to go lay out on the beach somewhere. There is a slight orange honey flavor but it is definitely not overwhelming. It’s citrusy but not overly sweet.

It is certainly not void of the classic beer taste you get with Bud or Miller. It is very Blue Moon like, except it is not cloudy and a little less bold. I got distracted at some point and came back to this beer five or 10 minutes later and the beer already seemed to be kind of stale and not 100 percent pleasant. I guess I will conclude that this beer is pretty good if you drink it when it’s really cold. But if you are sipping it and it gets warm you might not be happy with it.

Logistics

This beer is classified as a Pilsner, a form of light Lagers that are generally hoppy, citrus-like and rich. It is uncharacteristic of Pilsner because it is not very hoppy and certainly not rich, however it is quite citrusy. At 5.5 percent alcohol, OBP is a little higher than your average brew, but not strong enough to worry about.

Final Thoughts

This beer is a better alternative to your average domestic lager, but I would not characterize it as a craft or microbrew. Since it is light and refreshing, drink it in the sun when it’s really cold and don’t let it get warm. Another light refreshing beer that I consider to be a better beer is, Magic Hat #9. Also, this beer is brewed in South Carolina despite its claim to be “Florida’s Honey Beer”, however they will be opening in Orlando this year.

Thanks Tom for the commentary. It’s good to see an owner who cares to defend his home brew.