Tag Archives: stout

Porter-Stout Week

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I interrupt this Wine Wednesday to bring you…

Porter-Stout Week

at Pizza Lucé in Richfield!

We were so lucky when our friend Shondra directed us to the Pizza Lucé Richfield Facebook Page which announced the release of several ethereal porters and stouts on tap for this entire week!

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Some of these include:

  • Boulder Shake Chocolate Porter (CO)
  • Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout (NY)
  • Goose Island Bourbon County Stout (IL)
  • Founders Imperial Stout (MI)
  • Fulton Worthy Adversary Russian Imperial Stout (MN)
  • Southern Tier Crème Brûlée Stout (NY)
  • Bells Hopslam Double IPA  (MI)
  • Surly Abrasive Double IPA (MN)

Okay, so those last two are not porters, nor stouts, but they are worthy of recognition for being tapped in their own right! And I love how there are some local beers included on the menu, too.

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Nearly all of these have high ABVs, so they’ll only be served up as 10 oz pours. You’ll be grateful if you want to try more than one!

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What’s more is that Shondra reminded us that every Tuesday the Pizza Lucé in Richfield offers all of their tap beers for $3 all night long! And that didn’t change at all for this special event. Beers that we might pay $6 to $10 for elsewhere were just three bucks. We were pleased.

I ordered me a plate of appetizer meatballs (half-price during Happy Hour):

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Meatball Appetizer
Five meatballs or veggieballs topped with mozzarella cheese and baked in a homemade sauce made from organic tomatoes, fresh garlic, Italian herbs, roasted red peppers and red wine. Served with garlic toast. – $7.59

Since it was a school night and couldn’t have a glass of every beer, I had to choose my beer wisely. I started with the Southern Tier Crème Brûlée Stout since I adore it so and it is hard to find in a bottle, let alone on tap. But I quickly learned why I prefer that as an after-dinner dessert beer. It was a little sweet to pair with the meatballs. I’ve been known to order ports and stouts as dessert.

I decided on just one more beer: the Goose Island Bourbon County Stout. Generally, I like to support the locals. But it’s the only beer on the menu I hadn’t had. And I am really in a bourbon barrel beer phase.

One sip and I was in heaven.

You can find these beers (well, not for $3, but still not badly priced) at Pizza Luce in Richfield all week. On Thursday, they’ll have live music along with a very limited tapping of a firkin of Fulton Worthy Adversary.

What’s the best special/happy hour where you live?

Enjoy!

Cheers~
Carrie

Pig & Fiddle – Minneapolis {Closed}

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Yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve written a local Restaurant Impression. Crap. I’ve dined so many places I’ve wanted to tell you about in hopes that if you are in the Twin Cities, you’ll visit. And if you aren’t, you’ll be inspired to make similar dishes!

And since it’s American Craft Beer Week, I thought I’d tell you about a place known for beer that we’ve been to a few times… Oh, Crap… Last fall and winter. Yeah, it’s been that long.

Although, winter didn’t end here until a couple of weeks ago this year… Do I get a pass? Pretty please?

The first time we went to Pig & Fiddle, we were invited by our friends Wendy and Tracy:

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Was this really last fall? It couldn’t have been. I was wearing short sleeves and I’m a FREEZE BABY!

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More importantly, check out that chalkboard behind me. That is the constantly changing beer list! They have a wide array of taps. Here is a shot from our second visit to Pig & Fiddle when we sat at the bar:

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Yes! You see Steel Toe Dissent on that list! That is where we discovered it. Steel Toe describes it as a Dark Ale, but we thought it was more like a Stout. {We learned on our Beer Trolley Tour, that that has something to do with rights and trademarks.} Yeah, now just count those taps of craft brews!

But back to our first visit with Wendy and Tracy. That night, Wendy and I opted for a bottle of wine. I KNOW! Pig & Fiddle is known for its beer, and we got wine. But it was soooo good. I love me a good, big, bold Zinfandel and that is exactly what we got:

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Who knew that a restaurant with an emphasis placed so heavily on beer, would have a decent wine list as well? As for the food, the description of this establish on the Pig & Fiddle website reads:

Located at 50th and France Ave. in Minneapolis, Pig & Fiddle is the gastro-pub younger sibling of the Muddy Pig. The beer list is worthy and hefty with 36 taps along with a rural Euro-inspired menu.

Wendy and I both ordered:

GRILLED CHEESE asparagus, chevre, smoked gouda and caramelized onion on sourdough 12

Grilled Cheese
asparagus, chevre, smoked gouda and caramelized onion
on sourdough – 12

I love asparagus, so I liked that addition; but the sandwich didn’t really taste like a grilled cheese. I think I would have called this sandwich something else. It tasted like springtime! But the real star of my plate was the side salad! Sandwiches are served with “a choice of frites, a tossed salad or mashed potatoes.” I read what was in the Main Dish Tossed Salad and knew immediately that it was what I wanted as my side.

TOSSED SALAD aged cheddar, radish, toasted sourdough and shallot vinaigrette

Tossed Salad
aged cheddar, radish, toasted sourdough
and shallot vinaigrette

Can you believe that I loved this salad so much that the grilled cheese was an afterthought for me? I loved the chunks of aged cheddar, the crunch of the roasted sourdough croutons, the perfect blend of mixed greens and the tangy vinaigrette. It’s not very often I have radishes either. Did I mention that I kind of liked this salad? Yup. You’ll find it on our Best of the Twin Cities page!

The boys ordered the burgers:

burger

They didn’t realize it until after digging into their burgers that they weren’t cooked correctly. Rob tends to eat all of his fries first. So, while Tracy made his way through his burger, he just thought it was undercooked. However, when Rob got to his burger and found that his was overdone, we knew what had happened. They placed the burgers in front of the wrong people. Don’t worry! The server and manager made it right for them!

The boys tried a few different brews that night, but the favorite was:

Great Lakes Erie Monster - Imperial IPA

Great Lakes Erie Monster – Imperial IPA

If you don’t like ales that are too hoppy, just give an Imperial or Double IPA a try. It sounds just wrong, but I feel like the imperials and doubles often taste smoother! Yes, there is still hoppiness, but in my opinion, it’s more well-balanced, despite the high percentage of alcohol.

On our second visit, I got the tossed salad as an entree and was happy, happy, happy. Plus that was the night we discovered Steel Toe Dissent.

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Tossed Salad
aged cheddar, radish, toasted sourdough
and shallot vinaigrette
small 6 | large 10

Rob ordered something different as well and was also happy, happy, happy!

POLISH-STYLE PIEROGI mushrooms and sour cream 12

Polish-Style Pierogi
mushrooms and sour cream – 12

Our most recent visit was in January, when we decided to order and do a battle of Imperial Stouts! We wondered if the local Fulton Worthy Adversary would hold up to Michigan-based Founders Imperial Stout. Founders has a tough time making a bad beer.

I honestly don't eve know which one is which now...

I honestly don’t even know which one is which now… {Funny how they were served on Left Hand Milk Stout Coasters!}

The winner? Founders by .0000000001 %. Seriously. They were both that good. If you ever see one of these on tap, order a pint. They are hard to find and once they empty the keg, it’s usually gone!

That night, for food, we switched things up again:

salad

I was debating between this and a British Chicken Kebab. This pita sandwich doesn’t seem to be on their menu anymore. I believe it was chicken curry, but I remember it being pretty light on the chicken. And there is that salad again!

Rob ordered this:

Food

This was a pasty stuffed with beef and gorgonzola. Rob loved it, but I’m not finding it on their menu anymore either. Some items could be seasonal.

Still, looking at their current menu, I’m thinking I need to try this next:

Guajillo Chile Rubbed Rib Tips with rhubarb glaze and Belgian endive. Looks like another trip to Pig & Fiddle is in order!

Happy American Craft Beer Week!

What is your favorite pub fare?

Cheers~
Carrie

Beer & Food Pairings…

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We interrupt the usual Wine Wednesday for a little info on beer, since it is American Craft Beer Week and all…

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Let’s start out by saying that I know nothing about food and beer pairing. Okay, so really I know nothing about it compared to what I know about food and wine pairing. What I do know: An IPA makes we want to eat salty foods! And a nice Chocolate or Oatmeal Stout pairs nicely with chocolate cake… Or it can be a good replacement for chocolate cake. I’ve been known to order a stout as dessert from time to time. 😉

Still, I wonder if true beer snobs cringe when I order X beer and then a meal that ruins the flavor. {I proclaim I’m a beer snob, but don’t really know much more than that I don’t like the run-of-the-mill lights and lagers.} I mean, when I see people ordering a sweet Riesling with their Prime Rib, I cringe… even if I profess that the best pairing is one that you like.

So it’s time I get educated. First, I went to the Google. Not surprisingly, there are many guides online:

Men’s Journal offers a great basic guide.

Beer Advocate allows you to search by cuisine, type of cheese, meat or course.

You can download a Food & Beer Paring Chart at CraftBeer.com.

Still, just like wine, I know that to really learn and understand beer and food pairings, you need to experience them. So, who wants to be my company? I’m looking for a beer dinner to attend this summer! If a brewery out there wants to sponsor me, I can most certainly write about my experience. 😉

Otherwise, a beer and food pairing night may just have to be in the works. It helps to have a guide, though…

Lastly, here is a recipe for Blue Moon Orange Chicken from Kristin at Iowa Girl Eats. I’m not sure that Blue Moon is considered craft beer because it is mass produced, but I love it just the same. I can’t wait to try out this recipe!

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What is your favorite beer and food pairing?

(Beer and Pizza does not count!)

Have you been to a beer and food pairing dinner?

Happy American Craft Beer Week!

Cheers~
Carrie

Losing Weight (or Maintaining) without Exercise

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It can be done.

Although, if you can exercise, you should. That cardiovascular exercise is good for your heart and lungs. But if you can’t, that’s no reason to give up.

I feared gaining weight back when I stopped running (and working out at all, for that matter) in December due to back problems. But I’ve been mostly maintaining. I’ve been fluctuating between the same five pounds back and forth.

Without exercise, I need to be more diligent about what I eat. Sure, in less than a week and a half, I’ll be having surgery on my back. So I could just give up for now and say that I’m gonna “start again” when it’s over… or once I’m off pain medication… or once I’m feeling better… or once I can start running again. We can always say that we are going to start over “when”.

But this is my life, not a diet. I’m not on a diet. I’m learning to make healthy choices every single day. And for me, a healthy choice is sometimes an indulgent one. I believe anything can be enjoyed and fit into a weight loss program if not consumed in excess. It was when I had the all-or-nothing mentality and was totally restrictive that I failed.

So for the days leading up to my surgery, I’m going to document what I’m eating… Good and bad. Not for you to analyze, but for me. I can analyze when I’ve made good choices and when I should make better ones. I’m finding that I’m more aware of what I’m eating when I have to take a picture of it, too!

And since I’m still getting used to this plan to document my meals for about a week, I’ve forgotten to take a few photos but that’s okay.

And with that, here are Sunday’s eats!

Breakfast

Fiber One 90 Brownie

Fiber One 90 Brownie

I also had a banana (not pictured). Oh and I had a few sips of Dr. Pepper before I stepped out the door. {For the past several months, I’ve had very little pop, er… soda, whether it be regular or diet. It’s something I’d like to cut out completely, or at least keep to a very minimum.}

Lunch

I met my friend Sally for lunch at Cafe Latte in St. Paul. We each ordered a pizza. I didn’t take a photo, but you can check out what they look like on their website. I think they are about 8 or 9″ pizzas. I got the Sonoma Pizza, which was made with basil marinara sauce, spinach, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, feta and mozzarella. If you make homemade pizzas at home, I highly encourage you to combine these toppings! I ate a little more than half of the pizza.

Dinner

Yes, I went out again for dinner. While we do eat out often, it’s generally not twice in one day. Rob and I dined at The Lowry in Uptown {Restaurant Impression to come soon!} I sipped on a Surly Abrasive, a local Double IPA. (not pictutred). It’s quite hoppy and I always feel like DIPAs whet my appetite. Then, I devoured this salmon dish:

Salmon

Salmon fresh Scottish Fillet, oven-roasted asparagus, potatoes, tomatoes & olives

It’s some of the best salmon I’ve had in a really long time. It was seasoned perfectly and I loved this combo of vegetables! I would get this over and over again when I go to The Lowry, but there are too many other things on the menu I’d like to try.

Dessert for me was a Founders Breakfast Stout. This stout is bigger and has much more flavor than a Guinness and gets it name from it’s upfront coffee flavor.

Founders Breakfast Stout

Founders Breakfast Stout

Snack

With all that dining out, I probably didn’t need an evening snack, but I’ve been pretty good about taking a little wedge of the Double Cream Brie leftover from my canceled Open House, rather than eating the whole wheel.

DCB & Crackers

What are Ancient Grains, you are asking? Here’s what the box top reads:

Ancient Grains

These crackers are delicious and we have a big box of them {leftover from the canceled Open House}. I really have to pay attention to the number of cheese and crackers I eat because I’m a cheese fanatic. {Hey, it’s a given. I grew up in Wisconsin!} So I made my snack into a pretty plate and even got inspired by the picture on the box:

Ancient Grains Crackers topped with Double Cream Brie and tomato

Ancient Grains Crackers topped with Double Cream Brie and tomato

I estimate that snack to be close to 300 calories (the size wedge I cut was about two servings). That’s a little much for a snack, but better considering that I could have just brought the wheel of cheese, box of crackers, a plate and a knife into the living room to sit in front of the TV.

Overall, the day wasn’t perfect, but I’m glad I got some fruit, veggies, protein and Omega-3s in there!

What’s your favorite way to enjoy salmon? If you have a recipe, please share!

Cheers~
Carrie

Sparkling Wine Cocktails for New Year’s Eve

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Ahhh… The Bubbly. It makes every occasion more special. This Wine Wednesday, I’m offering up a few sparkling wine cocktails for the New Year! This will liven up your usual bubbly toast and offer some alternatives to those who don’t normally enjoy a dry bubbly.

Sparkling-Christmas-Champagne-wallpapers-488464

Remember, all Champagne must come from the Champagne region of France to be called such. However, it can be expensive. In all of the cocktail recipes below, feel free to substitute any sparkling white wine, as long as it is dry. {We’ll have a more in-depth lesson Champagne vs. Sparkling Wine at a later date.}

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KIR ROYALE

  • 1 part crème de cassis
  • 5 parts Champagne

Pour crème de cassis in a glass, gently pour Champagne on top.

Optional: Add a twist of lemon zest for garnish.

Variation: Substitute raspberry Chambord for the cassis.

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BLACK VELVET

  • 1 part Guinness (or other stout), slightly chilled
  • 1 part Champagne

Pour the Stout into a half-pint glass or flute. Carefully add the Champagne on top. When you sip, the heavier stout will slip under the wine, so you’ll enjoy a taste of both!

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POINSETTIA

Variation 1:

  • 1 oz Triple Sec
  • 4 oz Champagne
  • Splash of cranberry juice

Variation 2:

  • 1 oz cranberry juice (choose a brand with no sugar added)
  • 1 tbsp Grand Marnier
  • 4 oz Champagne

Add the cranberry juice and Triple Sec or Grand Marnier to a flute and top with Champagne.

Optional: Garnish with an orange slice or drop in a few frozen cranberries for fun.

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BELLINI

  • Splash of peach juice or peaches in simple syrup
  • 4 oz Champagne

Add the peach juice or peaches in simple syrup to the flute. Top with Champagne.

Optional: Garnish with a fresh peach slice.

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BERRY SPARKLER

  • Frozen strawberries or raspberries
  • 4 oz Champagne

Fill the bottom of the flute with frozen strawberries or raspberries. Top with Champagne.

Optional: Coat the frozen strawberries with sugar first and let sit for a while. Garnish with a ripe, fresh strawberry.

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NELSON’S BLOOD

  • 1 oz Ruby Red Port
  • 4 oz Champagne

Pour the port into a flute, then add the Champagne.

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FRENCH 75

  • ½ oz gin
  • ¼ oz lemon juice
  • 4 oz Champagne

Shake the gin and lemon juice with cracked ice; strain into a flute and top with Champagne.

Optional Variations: Add an orange slice for garnish, vary the amounts of the ingredients, add a bit or powdered sugar or a splash of Cointreau.

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CHAMPAGNE SUNSHINE/SUNSET

  • 2 oz orange juice
  • Splash crème de cassis (sunshine) or 1 oz grenadine (sunset)
  • 2 oz Champagne

Add the orange juice and cassis or grenadine to a flute. Top with Champagne.

Optional: Plop in a Maraschino Cherry.

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The two that I have not yet had are the Black Velvet and the Nelson’s Blood. I’m looking forward to trying them this New Year’s Eve!  Please give one or more of these a shot and come back to let me know your favorites.

What are your plans for New Year’s Eve?

Do you celebrate with any traditions?

Cheers~
Carrie

Living Social Beer Trolley Tour

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Last night I spent the evening wrapping gifts and talking with my mom and my 5-year-old nephew on the phone. I wished I could hug him right then and not have to wait until Christmas when we go back to visit.

Although I mentioned it in my post on the Top 5 Gifts for the Hard-to-Buy-for Person Who Has Everything, I fell like that now, more than ever, giving the gift of your time is one of the most precious things you can give.

For my husband’s 40th birthday, I threw him a “40 days before your 40th” surprise party {time with friends}. Then, on his actual birthday, I had 40 little gifts wrapped. The first one was a timer set to 15 minutes because the intent was for him to open a gift every 15 minutes so that he’d be opening them all day long! I also gave him the freedom to watch football, uninterrupted, all day long {time for himself}, though it was nice to reconnect with him every 15 minutes so that he could unwrap the his next gift. “Hurray!” he’d shout. I’d swear this man had not just turned 40!

One of those gifts was a gift of experience, but he would have to do it by spending time with me!

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As I may have mentioned a time or two, we’ve been blessed with new craft and  micro breweries popping up all over the Twin Cities metro since the Surly bill was passed a little over a year ago. Having lived in Seattle for a good five years, my husband is a fan of such beers and has turned me into somewhat of a beer snob.

So when I received an email from LivingSocial with an offer for a Beer Tasting Trolley Tour, I knew I had to snatch up a couple of tickets and put them in Rob’s birthday box. I didn’t know how good the tour would actually be, but I thought getting him to Lucid Brewing {one of his faves} with perhaps an opportunity to talk with the brewers would be a gift in and of itself.

Our tour included:

  • Lunch at Pizza Lucé with a Pint of Beer
  • Guidance by LivingSocial Adventure Staff
  • 12 Tastings of Local Craft Beers
  • Tours of 4 Local Breweries
  • Take-home LivingSocial Pint Glass
  • Round-Trip Transportation Aboard Vintage Trolleys

There were 60 of us in our tour group, split up onto two trolleys.

Trolley

It didn’t feel like that many people; however, except at the beginning, while dining at Pizza Lucé. We sat there for a good 20 minutes or more before someone came to take our beer order. It was sort of frustrating because we knew that the pizza wouldn’t be out right away, but it would have been nice to have something to sip on while we were waiting.

On top of that, the server was so unfamiliar with the beer menu. He couldn’t tell the difference between an IPA and stout. When he finally came back to the table with our beer, he said that he had three Surly Furious IPAs, but it was obvious that two of the beers were darker and were the stouts Rob and I ordered. He was so confused and had to go back to the bar to find out what was wrong. Seriously, if you are going to serve good local brews at your restaurant, train your staff already. {He wasn’t the only one clueless.}

This was our first time enjoying Summit Oatmeal Stout on Nitro!

Rob and I have concluded that we aren’t fans of Pizza Lucé crust. There is just no flavor there. Season It Already!

But truly, that was really the only complaint of the 5 and half hour tour. There was much fun to come! Our first stop was at Excelsior Brewing Company in Excelsior, MN:

Soup of the Day = Beer & Jumbo Jenga at Excelsior Brewing

Soup of the Day = Beer & Jumbo Jenga at Excelsior Brewing

We really *wanted* to like this place. But we just weren’t that impressed with the beer. Their new Summer Solstice was very strange, too. It had an aftertaste that I couldn’t place. Later, I realized it reminded me of a wine I once had, with an overwhelming eucalyptus finish.

After our three tastes there, we bought a glass of their Porter. Even that fell flat for us. There were many people who enjoyed the beers, though, and even bought Growlers for the trolley ride. {Yes, we could drink on the trolley!}

Don’t worry, we’ll still give Excelsior Brewing a chance. They are still very new. I believe their opening week was only back in July. I still really want to like the place.

Our next stop was at Lucid Brewing where they also share the facility with Badger Hill.

Lucid & Badger Hills on tap from this cooler!

Lucid & Badger Hill beers on tap from this cooler!

As expected, Rob loved being able to talk with the brewers at Lucid. {Another gift SUCCESS!} We had time to chat with the gal who owns Badger Hill as well. We talked with them about our favorites and at what restaurants we like to enjoy a pint or two of their beers.

Our favorite samples:

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Lucid Foto IPA – The dry hoppiness is something we both love in our beer.

Badger Hill Foundation Stout

Badger Hill Foundation Stout

Rob emptying sample number, uh... ??? while sporting the pretzel necklace we were handed upon entry. GENIUS!

Rob emptying sample number, uh… ??? while sporting the pretzel necklace we were handed upon entry. Genius!

They even tapped a firkin for us!

They even tapped a firkin for us!

At this point, Rob could have cared less if we hit another brewery. He was content. However, the next stop was Steel Toe Brewing in St. Louis Park. We had just tried the brewery’s Dissent a couple weeks prior at the Pig & Fiddle and were quite impressed.

Steel Toe’s facility was small enough that they only wanted one trolley-full of people in their facility at a time. Our LivingSocial tour guides were fun and sociable. They had trivia and prizes prepared for us on the trolley while we waited for the first group to tour. I learned a thing or two! Like…

Did you the official national alcohol of the United States is Bourbon?!

I had no idea! It sounds like “they” are trying to get that changed to beer. The U.S. does has more craft breweries than any other country.

We loved the time we had talking with the brewer at Steel Toe. He was a laid-back-down-to-earth guy. But come to think about it, really, they all were. I think it’s a requirement to become a brewer.

Steel Toe Brewing.

Steel Toe Brewing

We came away from that place with two Growlers: one of the Dissent Darlk Ale {really, a stout} and another of the Steel Toe Size 7 IPA. Guess that means that we’ll be back! {Every time you purchase a Growler somewhere, you pay a deposit for the glass jug. You can come back for a refill any time!}

Upon arrival back at Pizza Lucé, the LivingSocial staff came around the trolley, offering to take our information down and call cabs for us. Talk about prepared! They wanted to make it very easy for us to get a ride if we needed one.

We had such a good time that we would highly recommend a beer tour with LivingSocial. In fact, I’d recommend any event they offer. Most people think about the half-price restaurant and salon deals, but they really do put together great events. {I did a Champagne pairing dinner once and the food and pairings were incredible!}

We thought that this would have been even more fun if we had invited friends to join us. However, I bought the tickets on a whim the week prior and had no idea that it would be as good as it was. Now we know!

It took one little email offer to find the perfect gift for my husband. One where we could spend time together enjoying a fun experience. Thank you, LivingSocial!

What is your current favorite local brew where you live?

Cheers~
Carrie

Wine in Wine Countries, Guinness in Guinness Country

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I know it’s Halloween, but it’s about time I recap our trip to Ireland. I mean, we did return three weeks ago! And while I’ve confessed that I am not a fan of Halloween, the Jack O’ Lantern does date back to Celtic traditions in Ireland. In fact, we did see a carved turnip at one of the Folk Museums we visited on our trip:

Celtic Jack O’Lanterncarved from a turnip

But this post isn’t about the history of the Jack O’Lantern {often spelled jack-o-lantern}, nor is it about Halloween. It’s the beginning of a series of posts about our trip to Ireland.

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There is so much to record about our trip. So instead of a play-by-play, chronological description of what we did while we were there, I’m going to offer up our impressions on certain aspects of Ireland. I’d love to talk about the people, the sports, the food, the countryside and travel in general. Maybe you’ll be inspired to visit one day. If not, at least you’ll do some armchair {or desk chair} traveling along with me.

And because it’s Wine Wednesday, let’s start off with the beverage that flows like wine in Ireland:

GUINNESS

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Do you remember when I told you about Rick Steves’ philosophy about drinking wine in wine countries? It’s one I like to follow. And well, Ireland is, of course, Guinness country. So it’s compulsory to have a Guinness while there, right?

Right.

Truthfully, I don’t tend to drink Guinness back at home. And while many people think that Guinness is such a strong, dark beer; it’s really not. True stouts were once just stronger, darker porters – clocking in at 7 – 8% alcohol. A typical pint of Guinness is only about 4 – 4.5%. In addition, it’s much lighter in flavor than many of the stouts I love at home. If I’m going to drink a stout {often for dessert!}, I’d rather have one of the following full-flavored types:

  • Founders Breakfast Stout
  • Summit Oatmeal Stout
  • Young’s Double Chocolate Stout

These stouts tend to have espresso and dark chocolate notes to them. That’s why I love them!

In fact, when I’m in an Irish pub {anywhere in the world}, I tend to drink cider instead. It’s not that I don’t like Guinness. It’s just that it lacks flavor for me. In addition, it’s just so filling. When I drink stouts, I don’t tend to drink more than one.

However, we’ve been told that Guinness does taste a bit different in different places in the world. Rumor has it that there are even a few different recipes, too. In fact, Rob has had Guinness in both Paris and Italy and has been quite pleased with the product in Europe over the flavor in the U.S. Is it in his head? Maybe. But who cares if he knows he can enjoy it abroad?

But truth be told, in Ireland, the stuff is just better.

It’s fresher. It’s smoother. And they know how to pull a proper pint. Be patient for your Guinness. When ordered, you might feel like you aren’t getting the best of service. But your Guinness needs to be poured partway. Then it is set aside to settle a bit before getting topped off.

A properly poured pint of Guinness resting after the first pull.

The stages of poured pints…

After I got sick of drinking cider a few days in a row in Ireland, I shifted to Guinness. And if I was worried that I’d get too full or that it’d be too much for me midday, I quickly learned that instead of ordering a pint, I could just order a glass {a half-pint}.

In most pubs in Ireland you’ll find what I call the “Usual Suspects” on tap draft. These are ones you can expect pretty much anywhere:

  • Guinness
  • Carlsberg
  • Smithwicks
  • Heineken
  • Bulmers Cider
  • Budweiser
  • Coors Light

Yes, I said Coors Light. And I would say that the top two beers I saw being served at the pubs while I was in Ireland were Guinness and Coors Light. I’d like to hang my head in shame that Coors Light has grown so popular. When I was last in Ireland in 2000, the only American beer you’d see was Budweiser. Now Coors Light? What is the world coming to? And you won’t see any English beers on tap at all. At least I didn’t.

No matter which beer you choose, almost every one is served in its properly labeled glass. Notice those Guinness glasses above? Well, you’ll find Coors Light served in Coors Light pint glasses. Bulmers Cider is served in – you guessed it – Bulmers glasses. This makes it really simple to buy a round for your friends! It’s easy to tell what everyone is drinking, without having to ask.

And I’d like to debunk the myth about Guinness being served warm in Ireland. It’s not. But it’s not served ice cold either. Nor should a stout be served ice cold. I’m often frustrated with bars and restaurants at home when they give me a frosty mug for an IPA or a stout. If you chill your beer too much, you mask all the flavors.

Stout is kind of like red wine. It’s not served warm or room temperature, but more like “cellar” temperature. And for stout, maybe even a little cooler than that. This is the proper temperature. And there is a reason for it. Don’t ask for a frosty mug. You want to taste your beer, don’t you?

Our driver, Ray, told us that he preferred Murphy’s Irish Stout to Guinness. He said that because it isn’t as mass-produced as Guinness, it isn’t as processed. Well, you can’t find Murhpy’s on tap everywhere in Ireland like you can Guinness; but when we found a pub with both Murphy’s and Guinness on tap, we decided to do a taste test!

Which Irish Stout is better?

There wasn’t an agreement at the table on which beer won. But which was the winner for me?

Murphy’s!

I thought it had more coffee notes and overall more flavor. Rob disagreed. We rarely disagree on beers. Still, I’d drink either Guinness or Murhpy’s on draft anytime in Ireland!

We did make a trek to Mulligan’s where we are told that you can get the best pint of Guinness in Dublin. And truthfully, it was excellent. Again, I’m not sure if it was all in our heads, but we thought we could tell a difference. When we asked a local what made the Guinness different here versus other pubs, he said:

“The taste!”

Hahaha. Of course, I meant why he thought it tasted different. His only explanation is that it’s been running through the lines for so many years and so often…

In any case, I had my fair share of pints of Guinness in Ireland. But there’s nothing wrong with that because:

Well, everything in moderation right?

All I know is that in Ireland, I have no problem finishing a pint.

Do you drink Guinness?

Do you like stouts?

If so, what are your favorites?

If not, what are your favorite kinds of beer?

Sláinte~

Carrie