Monthly Archives: December 2014

My Favorite Beer on TAP!

Standard

A couple of week’s ago, our friend Monkey notified us that my favorite beer was now back in stores. We picked some up right away!

IMG_0907

Central Waters Brewer’s Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout

Then we found out that there was a Central Waters Tap Takeover at the Adam’s Street Pub in Green Bay, where we were headed to see family for the holidays.

But alas, when we arrived at the pub at around noon on December 26th, it was closed and we had to lunch elsewhere.

After lunch with the boys at the Green Bay Distillery and watching White Christmas on DVR {followed by which may have included a late afternoon nap}, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go back downtown to Adams Street Pub for some Central Waters beer.

IMG_0967

Yes, you read that correctly. There was a tap takeover by my favorite brewery; I was only about ten miles away; and I was considering doing “the usual” instead.

But it was dark and I was still groggy from my nap. (Poor me!) I asked Rob what he wanted to do. Going up the road to Townline for a bite to eat sounded so much easier to both of us.

But I gave it more thought, weighed the options, listed pros and cons…

CONS

  • One of us would have to drive. (Tough to think about when you have access to your limited edition favorite beer!)

PROS

  • We’d get to try the Call Me Old Fashioned, a unique limited release beer that I probably would never get to try again.
  • We go to Townline almost every time we are in Green Bay, usually out of convenience. And while they do have a lot of beers on tap, there is generally only one that we are sort of willing to drink.
  • It would be something new, not the same-old, same-old.
  • We thought there might be a band playing.

I came to my senses. The pros outweighed the cons. And the con was a stupid one. Nothing said we had to get stupid drunk. I’d rather have a couple of my favorite beers and enjoy them! So we headed back to Adams Street Pub.

And I was happy to find that *all* of the tap takeover beers remained on tap!

IMG_0997

 Just look at those beautiful heron taps lining the bar!

IMG_0970

I had to start with the Call Me Old Fashioned. It’s very limited and a beer that just screams Wisconsin!” Anyone who has grown up in Wisconsin and moved away eventually comes back and drinks an Old Fashioned with family when visiting, even if they never really drank them before.

Everyone has an idea of how a a true Old Fashioned should be made. But there are several variations. When in a Wisconsin tavern, you should order them this way:

  • Brandy-Old Fashioned-Sweet
  • Whiskey-Old Fashioned-Sour {The way my mom likes them!}
    And so on…

Old Fashioned Mix can be found in stores in Wisconsin, but you can also make it yourself. {Although, I don’t know anyone who does that.} They are often garnished with maraschino cherries {and sometimes olives}. Customizable to your tastes, I’d say.

Here is a Central Waters’ beer with an Old Fashioned twist:

FullSizeRender (1)

Central Waters Call Me Old Fashioned – American Red/Amber Ale aged in whiskey barrels with oranges and maraschino cherries

 Oh boy was that yummy.

Did it taste Old-Fashion-y? I’m not quite sure. But I liked it. A lot. But I also like barrel-aged beers. So there’s that. I loved the concept of this one. And the name.

Because I was driving, I allowed myself only one more beer. It was going to have to be my fave… I had finally had the opportunity to have it on tap!

IMG_1013

And I was not disappointed. I savored Every. Single. Drop. Rob went with the Headless Heron Barrel Aged Pumpkin Spice Ale. I totally forgot how wonderful this beer is!

From Beer Advocate:

Generously spiced with nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and cloves, this barrel-aged pumpkin spice ale overflows with dark fruit, dried fruit, and hints of bourbon.

One sip and I tasted all of those spices and was whisked back to fall. Mmmmm…

Our main purpose for visiting Adams Street Pub was to sample the Central Waters beers. However, because the ones we chose were high in alcohol, it was necessary to get some food in our tummies, too.

While on beer #1, Rob ordered us these:

Pub Cheese - House-Made 3yr Cheddar Sauce served with Pretzel Bites (Cup-$5, Bowl-$9)

Pub Cheese – House-Made 3yr Cheddar Sauce served with Pretzel Bites (Cup-$5, Bowl-$9)

I have to say that this cup of Pub Cheese was one of the best appetizer values I’ve seen. I normally don’t care for cheese “sauces” because they make me think of something that comes out of can. But I did like this one. What I liked even more were the pretzel bites! Think of one of those big, soft pretzels, but in little one-inch portions. Now think of them tasting even better. The last big pretzel I had at Lambeau Field was overly salty. These were utter perfection. Each bite had that slightly crisp outer pretzel crust with a warm, doughy inside.

I wouldn’t let them go to waste. When Rob was finished, I ate Every. Single. Last. One. For that reason, I was getting full.

I had originally decided, once and for all, to get the Friday Fish Fry. But I was way, too full for that now. Besides, the portions were huge!

FullSizeRender

I had also been considering building my own burger with 3yr cheddar, garlic ailoi on a pretzel bun…

FullSizeRender (2)

But that, too, seemed like too much food. Instead, Rob suggested that we split the Breakfast Burger, substituting fries with cheese curds. Splitting something sounded like a great idea to me!

Breakfast Burger - Pretzel Bun, Nueske's Bacon, House-Made 3yr Cheddar Sauce, Garlic Aioli, Tomato Jam, Fried Egg - $9 (substitute Cheese Curds for fries +$2)

Breakfast Burger – Pretzel Bun, Nueske’s Bacon, House-Made 3yr Cheddar Sauce, Garlic Aioli, Tomato Jam, Fried Egg – $9 (substitute Cheese Curds for fries +$2)

Only, as Rob was placing the order, he also decided to order this:

Gourmet Grilled Cheese - Renard's Cheddar Cheese, Nueske's Bacon &Tomato Jam

Gourmet Grilled Cheese – Renard’s Cheddar Cheese, Nueske’s Bacon & Tomato Jam

His plan? We would each take a half of a sandwich and he’d eat the onion rings, since I’m not a huge fan. So. Much. Food!

Almost everything about the Breakfast Burger and Gourmet Grilled Cheese was heaven.

First: You had me at Pretzel Bun, dear burger. Then, when Rob split it in half, the runny yolk spilled out. I was in love! I passed my bacon pieces over to him and delighted in the juiciness of the burger.

The grilled cheese was nice and melty and perfectly buttered and grilled. You are asking how one could mess up a grilled cheese? While I’d agree, I’ve also had bad ones. And that’s just wrong.

But there is one thing that I did not like about these two sandwiches. And it might surprise you.

It was the tomato jam.

All of the tomato jams I have had in the past were savory. This one was sweet. It could have been strawberry jam, for all I could tell. It was overpowering. I had to scrape it off. It it weren’t for the tomato jam, this would have been a practically perfect pub meal.

And for the record, Adams Street Pub does have a lot of beer and whiskey options!

IMG_0969

Thank you @CWBrewing and @AdamsStreetPub for putting on the Tap Takeover. Thank you very much. Now, to convince my husband to whisk me away to Amherst, Wisconsin next September for a little birthday at the brewery. 😉

Have you had tomato jam?

Was it sweet or savory?

Did it work with what you were eating?

Cheers~
Carrie

What I Did over My Christmas Vacation…

Standard

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas Holiday.

Ours was wonderful – lots of family time, food, poker and naps in Green Bay.

With the way Christmas fell during the week this year, Rob and I had a couple of extra days to vacation and relax in Green Bay before heading back to the Twin Cities.

So when I found out that there was a Central Waters Tap Takeover going on at Adams Street Pub in Green Bay, I begged Rob to go because it was just an opportunity we couldn’t miss. He was quick to point out that the tap takeover was only happening through December 21st. But on Christmas Day, I found them on Facebook and asked if they had any CW beers left on tap. They replied back almost immediately that, indeed, they did.

IMG_0971

Merry Christmas to me!

I was going to have the opportunity to try my favorite beer ever – Central Waters Brewer’s Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout – ON TAP!

So long about noon on Friday, Rob, my dad and I piled into Mitzi – our new-to-us SUV – and made our way downtown. According to the FB page, Adams Street Pub opened at 11am.

IMG_0968

When we arrived, we pulled up a seat to the bar. The place was EMPTY!

There is a reason for this. Due to the holiday, they decided not to open until 4pm. The door had only been open for a delivery.

You can imagine how bummed I was.

So we had to figure out a Plan B, because we still needed some lunch!

Enter Green Bay Distillery, a newish restaurant-bar-distillery opened in 2011. You can read a bit about it on the front of the menu here:

IMG_0979

By the notes above, it seems that they are in the beginning stages of distilling and have plans to expand. What disappoints me is that they only have fruit-flavored vodkas at the moment:

IMG_0989

Why can’t you come with something more creative than those flavors? I’m thinking even a jalapeño-flavored vodka, or a ginger-infused one. Other bars do this with vodkas that aren’t their own. Why can’t Green Bay Distillery?

We were still in the mood for beer. While they have a decently sized bottled beer list, the tap selection was limited. At least it focused on a lot of brews from the region.

Rob’s choice:IMG_0976

My dad always likes to order whatever Rob is having, but the bartender offered him a taste first. Dad was glad he did that because he didn’t think he’d like to drink a whole pint. He chose the Hinterland Brewing Company Luna Stout {Green Bay, WI} instead. And to be honest, I don’t even remember what I had. Because it was just that – not memorable.

When I took a sip from Rob’s glass, though, I thought the Blü Bobber kind of tasted like Fruity Pebbles! What’s more is that they topped the beer with frozen blueberries before serving. As they start to thaw, they bob up and down in the glass. That’s something I hadn’t seen yet!

IMG_0972

Fox River Brewing Blü Bobber Blueberry Ale {Oshkosh, WI}

Deciding what to order for lunch was difficult for me. In this part of Wisconsin, Friday is the day for a traditional fish fry, something you really don’t see in Minnesota. I considered taking advantage. The choices were numerous compared to other fish fry offerings at most bars, taverns and restaurants. I was intrigued by the Pretzel Perch.

IMG_0986

But as a cheese lover, I was torn. The front of the menu (pictured earlier in this post) indicated that Food Network Magazine described this as a “Cheese-lover’s Menu.”

And if you want a little slice of Wisconsin, you can get one – with bratwurst and cheese curds on your own pizza pie!

IMG_0981

Those whiskey caramelized onions intrigued me. So when Dad said he was ordering the Pretzel Perch, I asked if I could try a bite of his before ordering something else:

Drunken Steak Quesadilla$9.99Seared tenderloin steak smothered in whiskey onions and Cheddar Jack cheese folded between a jalapeno tortilla. Served with our ale cheese sauce.

Drunken Steak Quesadilla – Seared tenderloin steak smothered in whiskey onions and Cheddar Jack cheese folded between a jalapeno tortilla. Served with ale cheese sauce – $9.99

The onions were sweet and tasty; the jalapeño tortilla gave it a nice flavor; and I loved that these were served with the ale cheese sauce in addition to the usual sour cream and salsa sides which accompany quesadillas. But the meat was a little chewy, in my book. I didn’t need the fries. I thought it was a little strange that they were served with my quesadillas. But I suppose they were listed under “sandwiches” rather than in the usual “appetizer” category.

But I was glad that I didn’t order the perch.

Pretzel Perch$11.99Our signature pretzel encrusted lake perch served like a traditional Wisconsin Friday night fish fry with tartar sauce, coleslaw, buttered rye bread, red onion and beer battered French fries.

Pretzel Perch – Signature pretzel encrusted lake perch served like a traditional Wisconsin Friday night fish fry with tartar sauce, coleslaw, buttered rye bread, red onion and beer battered French fries – $11.99

The pretzel coating was quite different from the traditional fish fry breading, but the crunch was extremely satisfying! It was the fish itself that didn’t taste great. Dad agreed with me, but had no trouble finishing it off.

I wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that he pointed out that he received a thrork (left) rather than the fork I received (right).

IMG_0993

Ha ha! He is too funny. If you know my dad at all, you’ll know this is his usual sense of humor. When I was a kid, we were at Mills Fleet Farm because my dad had to pick up something. A stop to “pick up something” at Fleet Farm was never a quick stop. He could spend hours in there. But when we got to the counter that day my dad said to the cashier, “I was going to pick up of these up as soon as I got around to it!” Then he pulled a coin out of his pocket and showed it to her, smiling all the while. Inscribed on it:

“To It.”

Now for Rob’s burger… You knew he had to get the burger, right!? I mean it included a pretzel bun and was slathered with melted cheese curds!

Cheese Curd Burger$9.99Half pound grilled sirloin hamburger topped with fresh melted Wisconsin cheese curds, our specialty pub sauce, all on a pretzel kaiser bun.

Cheese Curd Burger – Half pound grilled sirloin hamburger topped with fresh melted Wisconsin cheese curds, specialty pub sauce, all on a pretzel kaiser bun – $9.99

Please note: The menu says that all burgers are cooked to medium-well. Rob was not going to order one for that reason. But I considered that this place was in walking distance of Lambeau Field. My thought was that when the restaurant fills up with wall-to-wall people on game day, they just need a standard to go by for the sake of speed. I inquired about this and sure enough, Rob was able to order his burger medium-rare.

But he wasn’t too impressed. The pretzel bun was probably the best part. Cheese or cheese curds? Who could tell? He said the meat wasn’t really seasoned. He decided on chips over the fries because he asked if they were house-made. Rob must have only heard, “yeah” because I heard, “Yeah, pretty much.” For the record: They aren’t. We are just spoiled by all of the restos in the Twin Cities offering house-made chips. Really spoiled.

I’m glad we stopped in to check out something in Green Bay that might be different from your average sports bar. But really, it’s not. It’s more a restaurant for the masses adding a “distillery” to make it stand out. I don’t think I need to go back. If you are in Green Bay near Lambeau, you need to get a burger at Kroll’s instead.

What kind of food is a fun interpretation of the area or culture in which you live?

Cheers~
Carrie

Thirsty Thursday – Tongue in Cheek

Standard

As part of our Thanksgiving Staycation, we had a lazy day that Sunday. We had breakfast, sipped coffee and hung out in our pjs catching up on the DVR. {Well, that’s pretty much every Sunday morning for us.} 

We never did eat lunch, so we opted for an early dinner. There was only one problem: The Packer game was on at 3:25pm.

That just would not work. I didn’t want to go to a Sports Bar to watch the game for three hours when it was on local television and could watch it in the comfort of my own home.

But I had an idea. I scanned through our Groupons and looked up each restaurant. Finally, I chose one that did not look like it had an TVs:

Tongue in Cheek – in St. Paul

We would DVR the game and watch it afterward, sans commercials. This also meant Rob couldn’t be on his smartphone during dinner to check scores. Win for me!

The bar at Tongue in Cheek opens at 4pm. Since our tummies were empty, we took full advantage of that! We also took advantage of their Happy Hour.

IMG_0724

We started by splitting the flight of Cock(tail) Teasers. I don’t believe you can order these teasers outside of Happy Hour. I didn’t see them on the regular menu. Rob said that he couldn’t imagine having to create these miniature cocktails for just $2 each. He thought, “How annoying for the bartender!” But they’ve thought of everything here. They make the teasers ahead of time, so that they are ready-to-serve with only a garnish needed.

Flight of Cock(tail) Teasers - $12

Flight of Cock(tail) Teasers – $12

The cocktails are pictured in order as they are on the menu, only from right to left. And that’s how we tasted them. Then we ranked them. Surprisingly, both Rob and I ranked them in the exact same order!

  1. Jack’s Pool – This one surprised me because I’m not a huge rum fan!
  2. Mother of Dragons – Another surprise for both of us. The jalapeno was subtle and the flavors were well-balanced. Who knew I’d like a Jim Beam cocktail?
  3. Cross Eyed Mary – Oh yeah. I love me a good bloody and I actually prefer gin to vodka.
  4. Tickle My Tiny Pickle – What you’d expect by the menu description.
  5. When in Rome – I thought this would be my fave. It wasn’t. But I didn’t not like it! Bottoms up!
  6. Why Not Minot? – Not memorable because, you know, I don’t even remember this one.

Each of these cocktail teasers came from each of their six sensory categories of all of the craft cocktails that they offer. Check them out on the main menu:

IMG_0721

Looking back at that menu, it does look like you can get a flight of cocktails, if you’d like, outside of during Happy Hour. It’s just more expensive. I’m not sure if you get to choose which drinks come in your flight though.

We arrived in our Packer gear and the bartender commented. Rob told him that we were taping the game, so dining here was perfect because we wouldn’t have access to the score. We come to find out that Mike The Bartender is from Milwaukee and it was killing him not to keep us updated!

Mike gave us a ton of menu recommendations, including items that I wouldn’t have tried otherwise. Like this, for example:

Goldi-Lox - gravlox, horseradish, dill, salmon roe - $2

Goldi-Lox – gravlox, horseradish, dill, salmon roe – $2

All of the teasers on the menu are meant to be one or two bites. This one was much more! The teeny, tiny spoon probably helped with that. And for just $2, this teaser packed a ton of flavor! Not listed on the menu is the avocado puree on top, along with some crispy fried shallots that add a little extra crunch. {Mike did an excellent job describing each dish as he delivered them to our table.} I thought that this taste was perfection!

At this point Rob checked out the beers on tap. I found it to be a nice varied selection of mostly Midwestern origin:

  • New Holland Dragon’s Milk (MI)
  • Summit Winter Warmer (MN)
  • Indeed Sweet Yamma Jamma (MN)
  • Rush River Double Bubble IPA (WI)
  • Cuvée des Jacobins (Belgium)

While Mike poured him a Dragon’s Milk, I sipped on a $3-Happy-Hour Sangria.

IMG_0731

I thought it was pretty good; but the more I drank it, the less I liked it. Not sure if that was because of the oncoming cold or because it needed to be stirred before I started drinking it.

We also ordered a cheese plate:

Artisan Cheese Trifecta - $9

Artisan Cheese Trifecta – $9

There was a blue, a semi-soft goat {which Rob loved until I told him it was goat cheese} and the Wisconsin Pleasant Ridge Reserve. Those little dollops are of apple puree, mango puree and balsamic. It was divine to drag a little cheese through it, despite the fact that purees like this always make me think of baby food! {In a good way.}

But the plain crackers to accompany the cheeses left a bit to be desired – like some fresh bread. Yes, I desired that.

IMG_0734

 Rob ordered us another $2 Teaser:

Charred Feta - strawberry & black pepper jam - $2

Charred Feta – strawberry & black pepper jam – $2

If you think that looks huge, it was really only about two to three bites. Here’s a photo with a fork to give you some perspective.

IMG_0736

But the bites were tasty! The salty… with the char… with the sweet… This was perfect for a taste! Any more than that would probably be too much.

I was originally planning to just order some more teasers for my dinner because a Heavy Table article I read suggested that was the best way to go. But Mike suggested the salmon. And who could argue with Mike?

Wild Salmon - goat cheese risotto, zucchini, tomato-gin consommé - $25

Wild Salmon – goat cheese risotto, zucchini, tomato-gin consommé – $25

Mike was right to recommend this. It’s probably some of the best salmon I’ve had! It was well-seasoned, the goat cheese wasn’t too overpowering and the zucchini ribbons had the perfect texture. My only gripe is that the salmon was just a tad under-cooked for my liking. But I still sopped up every bite!

And you know already that Rob got the burger.

The Cheeseburger - Cheddar, House Pickles, Arugla, Aioli - $12

The Cheeseburger – cheddar, house pickles, arugla, aioli – $12

 This burger will move to Rob’s Top 10!

{Which reminds me, he still needs to update that.}

I think there are three things that generally make Rob burger- happy:

  1. The quality of the meat.
  2. Seasoning the meat.
  3. The quality and use of the bun and toppings.

It’s places like this, where quality rules. Tongue in Cheek’s Mission:

We are devoted to only using animal products that are raised or caught in a humane and sustainable manner. This is something we are passionate about and it will never be compromised. We believe living a good life tastes better.

Amen! Oh and for the record, Rob thought the fries were just fine at first, but later said that they kept getting better with every bite!

 ~

We loved Tongue in Cheek so much that we bought another voucher when we got home. The East Side of St. Paul is an up-and-coming culinary hot spot. When I walked in to Tongue in Cheek, it reminded me a bit of Ward 6, also located in the area. Then the quality craft cocktails reminded me of Ward 6, too. However, these two restaurants are different enough that you need to experience both.

I love the concept of the Teasers on the menu at Tongue in Cheek. It gives people a chance to step out of their comfort zones to sample some things they maybe normally wouldn’t, without the worry of wasting money or a meal. I’d come here just to try all of the little different bites they have to offer!

Have you dined at a restaurant that offers small bites or teasers on the menu?

If so, what were your favorites or what did you try that you maybe would not have otherwise?

Cheers~
Carrie