Tag Archives: thirsty thursday

Nutmeg Brewhouse

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Happy Thirsty Thursday!

There is a new brewery South of the River!

It’s about time. Around these parts, we’ve only had Badger Hill Brewing to keep those of us in the South Metro company.

Nutmeg Brewhouse had their soft opening on January 2nd. The next day, Rob read a bunch of critical comments on Facebook. How could it be so bad? How can you judge so soon? Generally, we like to visit a new restaurant after they’ve had all of their kinks ironed out. But all of this ridicule had us intrigued to stop in on Day 2.

First, let’s get things straight. This is a brewhouse, not a taproom. It is a restaurant with its own beer on tap.

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Many of the online complaints were about about the beer descriptions. I will agree that “hop-flavored” beer is a strange and very generalized description; however, I’ll give them a break here. I can’t even imagine how exhausted one has to be putting a place together like this.

The other big complaint was about the beer. Uh-oh.

I had the Mild Porter, which was quite fine for a porter, if anything, just a little light. But, then, it was accurately named Mild Porter. Still, I enjoyed it. Rob liked the Shipmate’s IPA much more than I did. The biggest online complaint seemed to be about the unfiltered Wheat Weiss {which Rob pointed out is redundant}. It didn’t look just a little cloudy, but completely opaque.

I honestly had no complaints about my beer; it just wasn’t anything special. And as you know, these days, that’s what I usually go for. I could enjoy the Mild Porter any day; it’s just a little difficult after savoring a porter as wonderful as Death by Coconut by Oskar Blues the day prior.

Seriously, when it comes to beer, though, let’s give these guys a chance.

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The menu says that all of the beers are “brewed in house using traditional colonial influences.” I’m not quite sure what that means. Then, from Nutmeg’s Facebook page:

Nutmeg Brewhouse will feature British Colonial influenced cuisine and traditionally crafted beer.

Truly, I’d just like more info. It seems that you may find beer that is more particularly British in style and foods that are stereotypically English {read: fish and chips} or incorporate flavors from lands the Brits colonized {read: Indian}. But why the name Nutmeg? That’s something I should have asked.

Note: Nutmeg was built as an addition to the India Palace building. Rumor has it that the addition is owned by the owner of India Palace. But Nutmeg has its own kitchen and does not seem to be physically connected {by a doorway} to India Palace.

I also find it interesting that all of their wines are Australian, presuming that they are going with the colonization theme. Actually, I like that. British beer, Indian-influenced food, Australian wine…

Truthfully, I’ve never found a sparkling shiraz on a restaurant menu before. But there is a huge discrepancy with wine prices here. The reds are almost double the price of the whites! If you are running a business in Burnsville, the only way you are going to get away with a $13 glass of red wine  is at Chianti Grill, not a brewhouse.

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Now it was time to try the food. The menu is currently very basic, but is supposed to be expanded. I’d like to see some descriptions.

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Rob opted out on the food since the only dish he could have was the Scotch Eggs, which didn’t interest him at the time. I wanted everything, but couldn’t make up my mind without descriptions.

Since we were on the end of the bar, we could see all of the people seated around it. Several people ordered the Canterbury Cod and Chips. To me, the fish looked a bit dark, overcooked and greasy. However, the guy next to us told the bartender that he liked how the batter was really light. So I guess it really needs to be tasted.

I asked our bartender for a recommendation.

Chicken Tikka Kabab with Mint Chutney - $15

Chicken Tikka Kabab with Mint Chutney – $15

 

I love Chicken Tikka Masala, so I agreed it would be a good choice. The meat was very good, but I do like the extra sauciness of a traditional masala dish.

Please Note: This dish does not come with the mint chutney on the side. The bartender merely suggested it. I wasn’t sure if I’d like it; but it was really want the dish needed! The vegetables were way too boring without it. The mint chutney wasn’t overly minty, just more fresh-tasting. I’d order that sauce again and again. The rice was just way too much. Overall, the way the dish was served to me, it was pretty good. But for $15? I’ll try something else next time.

I had to ask what they did serve that chutney alongside and it turns out it is with {or on?} the flatbread. See what wonders a description would do? I can only assume that they are working on all of that.

Don’t quote me on this, but we overheard that the Grand Opening is on January 27th. That is not too far away! Until then, they are open daily from 3pm to 10pm.

We’ll definitely be back to see how Nutmeg Brewhouse adapts to little ol’ Burnsville. Maybe in a few months, we’ll give you an update.

Have you ever gone to a restaurant right when it debuted?

If so, what were your impressions?

Did you go back?

Cheers~
Carrie

 

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Fantasy Draft 2015

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It’s the end of the year and I have not yet done my Fantasy Draft for 2015! Fantasy Beers, that is.

Since today is Thirsty Thursday and New Year’s Eve, I found it rather appropriate.

And so it goes… My six-pack pick of beers that I’ve loved in 2015.

And just as a reminder, these are not necessarily the best beers I’ve had this year. Some may be, but others might have just surprised me or stood out as unique! Plus, I have a few rules…

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Rules for Fantasy Draft:

1) No repeat beers from previous years. (Although I still love all of those!)

2) No repeat breweries within the same six-pack. For example, even if I am in love with two beers from say, Central Waters, I can only include one.

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Fantasy Draft 2015

 

Hibiscus Sour – Fair State LÄCTOBÄC: Two (MN)

This was the year of sours for me! I hadn’t understood them when they first became wildly popular, but I’m learning to enjoy them more and IMG_4074more. Fair State is a local brewery that I have not yet visited, nor had I had any of their beers before encountering the Hibiscus Sour at Stanley’s NE. It had all of the sour flavor with a nice infusion of hibiscus. The thing is that Fair State Brewing not only seems to be known for sours, but they change it up with a new one in this “LÄCTOBÄC” series of lactobacillus-soured beers. So who knows if we’ll ever see it again. I had number two. At the time of this writing, Fair State’s website shows that they are on number Eight: Salted Watermelon Gose.

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Indeed DIDDGSWWGHH (MN)

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Yes, you read that description in the photo correctly. First, I’d like to announce that the Indeed Rum King should have gone in a Draft long ago. But this stout is a little something extra special. When it comes to barrel-aged beers, Indeed does them right over and over again. I mean, that gorgeous night in September we also had a Barrel-Aged Door County Cherry Sour. Seriously.

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Central Waters Call Me Old Fashioned (WI)

Visiting Central Waters was a pilgrimage of sorts for me this year. It really pains me that rule #2 is forcing me to choose between this beer and the Headless Heron Barrel-Aged Pumpkin Spice Ale.

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Central Waters knows how to make bourbon barrel beers! I ultimately chose the Call Me Old Fashioned because it screams “Wisconsin!” and I’ve only had it twice. It’s something special because you probably have not had an American Red/Amber Ale aged in whiskey barrels with oranges and maraschino cherries. Have you? Plus, it’s never been bottled. It’s not even listed on CW’s website. Will we see it again? I don’t know. But I do know that in the late fall, I can find the Headless Heron at the liquor store down the street. So I’m glad I got to enjoy The Old Fashioned in case it isn’t released again.

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Not Your Father’s Root Beer (IL)

The first time I saw this stuff advertised, we were at a local sports bar. I looked across the room and on the wall a poster read “NOT YOUR FATHER’S ROOT BEER Beer” in big, bold lettering. I thought to myself, “But what is it!?”

I understood that this was a hard root beer, but I was confused that the tagline “Not Your Father’s Root Beer” was easy to read, without a trace of the name of the beverage anywhere.NYFRB

But that is the name, silly!

This stuff is scary. It is nostalgic – very reminiscent of that root beer from your childhood. That’s all well and good; but it barely, if at all, tastes alcoholic. I love it. But I fear drinking too much of it. I’ve never had more than one in an evening. But generally, if drinking a sweet soda, I rarely would have more than one of those either.

 

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Shock Top Twisted Pretzel Wheat (MO)

I fully admit that I will put beers that are created by breweries that mass produce in my draft lineup. Sam Adams Cherry Wheat has been on my list in years past. But the interesting thing about this beer is that I don’t even like Shock Top beers. I encountered this one at a St. Paul Saints game about two years ago {before the new stadium}. It was German night and they had a few specialty beers on tap.Twisted-Pretzel-Wheat-6-Pack

Pretzels and beer are an age-old common pairing, so how could this version not work.

I fell in love with it that night. But knowing it was a Limited Edition, I thought I’d never see it again. That was until I saw it advertised on my iBotta app this fall, offering a rebate on it. I hadn’t even ever thought of searching for it in a store! And sure enough, a trip to Total Wine yielded me a 12-pack. I once again remembered why I loved it so. I never even eat pretzels with beer. But this one just works. It’s one of my dad’s new favorites, too, since I’ve introduced him! Even my husband, who is not a fan of wheat beers, whole-heartedly admits that this one is stellar.

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Castle Danger Sommelier George Hunter Stout (MN)

Our visit to the North Shore on a brewery tour, introduced us to Castle Danger, beers from which are just starting to make its way down to the Twin Cities.

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Castle Danger really knows how to barrel-age their beers as well. {See a theme here?!} But they also make them unique. They’ll often start with their basic (but the taste is anything but!) George the Hunter Stout. A bourbon-barrel aged George will produce Gentleman George Hunter. However, what was even more exciting was the Sommelier George Hunter is George aged in Napa Valley red wine barrels! And it tastes fabulous.

Coming over to my house?

Pick up any one of these beers and you’ll win me over.

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And just in case you are curious, here are my picks from previous years:

Fantasy Draft 2013
Fantasy Draft 2014

What was your favorite new-to-you beer this year?

Happy New Beer Year!
Cheers~
Carrie

Thirsty Thursday – Winter Ciders

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Happy Thirsty Thursday!

You may or may not know my love for hard ciders. It’s a good go-to choice when I’m not feeling wine and there isn’t a beer on tap that tickles my fancy.

The thing is, I tend to like my ciders dry. The cloyingly sweet, commercial ones can be too much for me.

There is one exception.

J.K.’s ScrumpyScrumpy

J.K.’s Scrumpy is my favorite cider of all time and it does taste sweet. I even put it in my Fantasy Draft last year! Which reminds me, I haven’t yet done one for 2015. Time is ticking… YIKES!

Why is it my favorite? It tastes like the unfiltered cider you get at an apple orchard! We’ve given it to friends to try and I can’t think of a single person who didn’t agree that this is the best cider around. The cidery is out of Michigan. We hoped that they had a tasting room for us to try out on our next visit to the mitten; but alas, they didn’t at the time. It appears that they *might* now; but it’s hard to tell.

In any case, a trip to Total Wine not too long ago prompted us to try these two specialties!

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We were looking for local seasonal brews at the time when I spotted these. It was a no-brainer to make purchase these new-to-us J.K. ciders because they come in at around $6/bottle whereas some specialty bombers of beer go for $10 to $20!

When we finally decided to crack them open one evening, I told Rob that we needed taste them side-by-side to compare. I wish I would have taken a photo so I could show you the extreme difference in color of these two nectars; but it was so dark in our living room that I’m sure the comparison would have been lost anyway.

Let’s have a look…

Cuvée Winterruption:

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I’ll start with this one because after pouring them, it was lighter in color. I’d like to say that the descriptions helped guide me, too; but the truth is that the color was the sole reason I chose it as our first taste.

I thought that Rob would not be a fan because of the cinnamon. Really, who doesn’t like cinnamon?!

I do love the descriptions on the backs of their bottles as well as their words of advice… especially this time of year.

“Please enjoy a cider with someone you love and perhaps someone you don’t. Please mend a bridge, extend a hand and be good to one another.”

That’s advice we can all heed.

Northern Neighbour – Saskatoon Cuvée:

IMG_5211I feel really ignorant about the crops of our neighbors to the north. I had never heard of a Saskatoon before. I probably assumed it was one who resided in Saskatchewan! A search on The Google resulted in photos and descriptions of a berry very similar to the blueberry, but also called endearingly “the little purple apple.” Mmmm…

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Our thoughts…

OH WOW! We loved them both. Neither of us could pick a favorite. They are still made in that wonderfully nostalgic unfiltered-farmhouse-orchard-cider-style. The Winterruption seemed much lighter in style. The spices were festive, yet still subtle enough that the cinnamon didn’t turn Rob off.

The Northern Neighbour is much darker in color, assumingly from the dark “little purple apples” added to the mix. The collaboration is a unique, yet perfect one.

These ciders alone could bring peace on earth. Well, at least collaborating with neighbors and suggesting kindness on the back of a bottle is a start. 😉

What beverages (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) do you find make you feel most festive over the holiday season?

Cheers~
Carrie

 

 

Thirsty Thursday: Wabasha Brewing

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Poor little blog going by the wayside…

Don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten about you, Season It Already! 

Sometimes I have all of these ideas in my head and a backlog of things to say that I suffer from Analysis Paralysis. Or, I am just plain and simply Living Life.

Sometimes I forget that a post doesn’t have to have all of my thoughts and ideas in it. Besides, many people these days would prefer something short and sweet.

So here goes, on this Thirsty Thursday, our trip to Wabasha Brewing in St. Paul:

IMG_5137We had a Groupon for this brewery that was to expire at the end of the month. And you know how December goes with events, parties and holiday plans… So the moment my husband arrived back in town from his golf vacay to Sedona, I drug him right out to Wabasha.

Our GPS took us an odd direction, winding through back streets of West St. Paul until we finally arrived at a little warehouse in St. Paul. It didn’t even look open.

But once we pulled around back and found the door, it was quite the quaint, cozy little taproom! There wasn’t any more room at the 5-seat bar, so we just informed the beertender of our Groupon and she promptly filled us up. We took our flights to a corner of the room with a couch, coffee beer table and games.

Imperial Cave Stout, Lawnmower Porter, West Side Popper Jalapeño Cream Ale, Implosion IPA

She told us that she’d recommending drinking them sweetest to hoppiest, which is the opposite of what I would have done! Since my wine days, I always like to go lightest to fullest, driest to sweetest. But what do I know?! I’m sure she’s much more of a beer expert than I am.

Luckily, they just ran out of a keg of another beer, so we got to try the Imperial Stout as part of our flight, which would normally not be eligible with the Groupon.

Here are our thoughts on the beers:

  • Imperial Cave Stout – This was, no doubt, my fave. But where were the caves? I expected this brewery to be near the Wabasha Caves, but we ended up in a part of St. Paul I’d never been. However, when we left for dinner, our GPS guided us in a different direction, passing the Wabasha Caves not far from the brewery. I just was confused why we were taken the way we were on the way in!
  • Jalapeño Cream Ale – I’m not a huge fan of cream ales, but this was my second fave of this bunch. I hadn’t had a Jalapeño beer since we were in North Carolina. I love the subtle spice to this one!
  • Lawnmower Porter – After the stout, this was Rob’s second favorite. I was surprised that the cream ale surpassed the porter for me, since I adore porters. It just seemed a bit watered down. Rob said that was the point. It was more of a session beer, which you find more common among IPAs and other lighter ales. Thus, Lawnmower – you could drink it all day while mowing the lawn…
  • Implosion IPA – Still good, but our least favorite. Rob’s favorite style of beer is IPA and I like them just fine. This one just seemed… light. But maybe that was due to the order we tried them?

Did I mention how I love the cozy atmostphere of Wabasha Brewing?! I can see it being more of a local hangout than a destination brewery. I can’t imagine fitting even 50 people in there!

However, we overheard our beertender saying “Once they move into the new warehouse…” So I inquired. Right now, they are in a little room in the back of the building, but they will be expanding all the way to the front.

Get thee to Wabasha Brewing. We liked it and, if you like beer, think you will, too!

What order do you like to drink a flight of beers?

Cheers~
Carrie

Once in a Blue Moon – Thirsty Thursday

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You may have probably did not notice that I skipped Wine Wednesday yesterday.

{Kangaroos are a bit more exciting, no?}

I think I’m going to let go of those Wine Wednesdays. Maybe I’ll do one from time to time or maybe I’ll do a Thirsty Thursday post once in a blue moon or so. That way, I can write about wine, coffee, beer, tea, cocktails or whatever else strikes my fancy.

I’d rather write about what’s itching me at any given time anyway. It’s a little more freeing. Let’s throw out any “rules” I’ve imposed upon myself!

So welcome to this…

Thirsty Thursday

{To be posted once in a blue moon.}

Speaking of blue moons…

As a semi-beer snob who prefers to drink only craft beers and locally whenever possible, I’m willing to admit that I have guilty pleasure:

 

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Rob doesn’t like wheat beers; but I do. And I love Blue Moon, especially in summer with a nice slice of orange. It’s kind of like Fruity Pebbles cereal. But kind of not. You can find it on tap most places, especially if there are no local or craft beers to be found. In those cases, this will be their “specialty” beer.

To be truthful, we found Leinenkugel’s Sunset Wheat to be more flavorful when we did a side-by-side taste test with Blue Moon a few years back. But that’s even harder to find on tap now that Summer Shandy seems to be their distributed summer beer of choice.

Although Shock Top is supposed to be similar as well, it’s just not an option for me. Blech. {Although I was pleasantly surprised by Shocktop Pretzel Wheat at the German/Beer night at a St. Paul Saints game this summer…}

I digress…

I’m not huge into Sampler Packs of beer, in general, because I find that 50% of the beers in the pack usually disappointment me. But when I saw Blue Moon’s Fall Sampler Pack, I was intrigued. There were three beers in there that I was dying to try:

  • Harvest Pumpkin Ale
  • Caramel Apple Spiced Ale
  • Cinnamon Horchata Ale

Although Rob isn’t usually a fan of wheat beers – the exception being Cherry Wheat, he was game to try a few with me. The first two up:

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Caramel Apple Spiced Ale

I took one sip of it and handed the bottle over to Rob. I didn’t like it at all. I’ll take a cider instead, thank you very much. But now that I think about it, I always found the concept of Redd’s Apple Ale pretty strange, too. Why not just drink cider? Rob didn’t think the beer was great either, but okay enough to finish it. I will be using the other bottle for cooking!

Tip: If you want a Caramel Apple Hard Cider, take 12 oz (a bottle) to 16 oz (a pint) of cider (Angry Orchard is good for this) and dump in a shot of Smirnoff Kissed Caramel Vodka. I came up with this creation a couple of years ago when they had that vodka on hand at the now defunct Burnsville Ale House. The bartender was wondering how we could possibly use it. Ta da! We got a few people drinking those at Rob’s 40th birthday party!

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Cinnamon Horchata Ale

Love this! I let Rob have a sip, while he finished the Caramel Apple Ale. Then I hid the other bottle of Cinnamon Horchata to save for myself another time. {I’m so greedy!} This beer is brewed with long-grain rice for a creamier texture. This was my favorite of the Sampler Pack.

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Then, on another day where the temperatures dropped and we dreaded the oncoming snow and polar vortex, I decided to say, “Goodbye,” to fall with the Harvest Pumpkin Ale.

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Harvest Pumpkin Ale

I have really high expectations when it comes to pumpkin beers due to my undying love of Southern Tier’s Pumking. Although we had a pretty incredible Imperial Pumpkin Ale at Dangerous Man that could give Pumking a run for its money. Since they only serve at the brewery and do not distribute, we were lucky to get it before it was gone! And the Schottky Pumpkin Ale by Tin Whiskers Brewery in St. Paul, is worth a try, too!

With so many good pumpkin beers, my expectations were low for this one. But I was pleasantly surprised. I can appreciate this beer for what it is. And I would drink it again. You definitely get the pumpkin flavor with the wheat in the finish. Nice job, Blue Moon.

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Still, when I picked up this Sampler Pack, something caught my eye on the way to the cash register… And I just had to grab it:

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Let’s just say a few things here:

So much so, that before all of this cold and snow came in, we were planning a little road trip to Central Waters. I think that’s going to have to wait…

How do you feel about Sampler Packs (for anything, not just beer!)?

Cheers~
Carrie