A beautiful day to get outside!

Hey y’all.

Thanks for the wonderful response to the post the other day. Knowing that people are reading and care, certainly does make a person happy to put their thoughts out there. I’ve got a recipe coming up here one of these days, but for now, I figured we’d just keep sharing life.

We’ve got a good old four day weekend going. I needed the break and so far it’s been really nice and relaxing. The day started off with a nice fun run with Jackie and Kaitlin. I had a great time with Mike and Eddy for our church Executive Leadership Team (ELT) meeting. And then the bulk of our day was spent with our friend Connor who just got back from Peru. He was part of a team of 13 that went with Leadership Excursions/Endurance Leadership. We were very excited to get to hear all about how God was working down there. Both on the team that went as well as with the orphanage there.

We made some sandwiches featuring Herbivorous Butcher “meats”. Oh my delicious. Jackie’s favorite is the “turkey” slices, I personally like the “pastrami” the best. Whatever way you slice it, it’s all good. Connor was a fan, which is always a plus, when your omnivorous friend, digs the food.

We had planned to drive to Maryland to check out the Red Shedman Farm Brewery.  We’ve picked up some of their raspberry cider in the past and it’s super good.  We thought it would be fun to put the dog in the car and head out there to hang out and try some beverages while playing some games and catching up.  It was perfect for all of that. First off the Farm has beer, cider and wine.  We didn’t check out the wine today but we sampled everything else.  Its set in such a beautiful location, there are rolling hills and trees everywhere.  You’ve got the vines for the winery surrounding all the sides of a nice little grove with picnic tables set up.  (In retrospect, I really should have taken some pictures of the property… gotta get back in the habit.)

We tried a flight.  I personally thought the best beer was the Lunatic Fringe.  A Belgian IPA that was infused with habanero.  Jackie was a fan of the Raspberry Cider, and Connor’s favorite was the Farmers Daughter, a wheat beer.
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Here’s Connor and I just enjoying a moment there on the picnic table.  The beard is so much bigger isn’t it!
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Connor fell asleep with Olive in the car on the way back.  But he woke up in time to show us a rocking backflip off a tree.  After we got a good video we wanted to try to do a boomerang video…Well it didn’t work quite as well, but it’s super funny to watch.  🙂

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The real highlight though was hearing the stories, and challenging each other on what’s going on in our lives.  Connor asked the question as to what our greatest fear is.  I’ll tell you what, it takes a good friendship to get vulnerable and really share that.  It’s been a blessing to have him here as an intern and getting to know him.  Between him and Bethany we’re going to be really sad when this season of life is over and we have to go to remote relationships.

We’re going to end off the night by going to see Despicable Me 3.  I’m excited, Jacks is super excited.  It should be a whole lot of fun.  We’re going to sneak in some Earth Balance White Cheddar Popcorn.  😉

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Sunday Sips: A Quadruple helping of beers

Its been awhile, so what better way to get back into it then to bring an extra large helping of beers to tell you all about.  This is courtesy of a fine watering hole that we have here in Cedar Rapids called Parlor City.
Sampler platter
A couple of weeks ago we were out with some friends to see To Kill A Mockingbird performed at our local theater. (really well done by the way, but no longer running.) We were trying to figure out where to go afterwards and we decided on this place, mostly because I knew they had one of my favorites on tap. It was time for me to get some Pseudo Sue from Toppling Goliath. But do you ever have one of those moments when you walk into a place with like 100 beers on tap and then you can’t make a decision. This was one of those moments. And then like an epiphany I saw that they had make your own beer flites. This was amazeballs, I could have my favorite and try three more. (I also got to make a flite for a buddy of mine while there too. Great times.) So going from right to left, darkest to lightest, we had Evil Twin’s Yin, Evil Twin’s Yang, Stone’s Go To IPA and finally the Pseudo Sue.

The Yin is an American Imperial/Double Stout, rather heavy at 10% ABV. This was a really nice full bodied stout, it definitely packed a punch with that 10% alcohol, I could feel it right away. It had a really nice mouth feel, a bit of a creaminess. It was also better rounded then some stouts, they put some hops in here to round it out a bit and take away from some of the sweetness. I’d give the Yin a 4.5 out of 5 Stars. I really enjoyed it. Then came the Yang which was a 10% ABV Double IPA. Man, this one was an in your face brew that just hit you upside the head with bitter hops. Not in a bad way mind you, but I was sipping this guy. There was no way I was downing this as a session beer. On its own I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. It wasn’t quite as good as the stout, but it was still a darn fine beer. The best part of these two came about when you did the obvious and made Evil Twin’s version of a black and tan. Holy cow, this came out as black IPA, and it was delicious. The two flavors just balanced each other perfectly. It was like a party going on. One that would leave my opinion of the Stone IPA slightly skewed I’m sure.

The Stone IPA was much more of a light weight in terms of alcohol. It was 4.5%, with 65 IBUs. This was meant to be a sessionable IPA. It looked really great to the eyes even if it was really clear. They filtered it for sure. The thing I remember the most is some pine mixed in with grapefruit in the nose. The mouthfeel was good, but as far as taste is concerned, this just wasn’t working for me. It was ALL bitterness, no rounding of flavors as far as I was concerned. I figure its alright, I like plenty of the rest of their beers, but this one just won’t go into my rotation. It gets 2 out 5 stars for me. I say stick to their other more fully bodied IPAs.

As for the Pseudo Sue, I’ve raved about that in the past. You can find that review back here.

Anyone else out there just get blown away when you can mix and match smaller versions of beers at a bar and create your own beer tasting menu?

Sunday Sips: Frostline Rye by Summit Brewing

Hey guys, thanks for all of you faithful followers who are sticking with us and in particular me and my non constant posts.  Its been kind of nice getting back into the swing of things.  I think having new computing resources definitely plays into that.  Well there is always the fact that I finished off all the old beer that was hanging out in my fridge.  There is always something exciting about being able to go and find some new brews and wanting to get right to trying them.  Its just easier for me to do when I don’t have a bunch of old beer that could be going bad.

While we were in St. Paul a couple of weeks back we visited Summit Brewing company.  I was really impressed with the operation that they had going.  We sampled some really good beer, but they also talked about their seasonal from this year.  I could have tried it on location, but Jackie and I had plans on going to get some Surly and French fries at the Depot downtown.  So I just said I’d look for it when I got home and have a bottle here.  Well that was a wise decision, because it did not disappoint.

I’ve reviewed some Summit beers on here before, after hearing a little more about their company I really can’t express how much I’d like to see more people give them a try.  They’re a craft beer brewery that is really striving to break into the big boy’s market.  They have a quality product that should be able to do that.
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This is the seasonal that I was touting earlier. The Frost Line Rye. A beer that could withstand the winter, giving a nice warming bite with plenty of hops to make it very much like an IPA. The lighting in our kitchen that I often complain about at night, really doesn’t do the color of this beer justice. It was simply amazing. It was such a deep copper, and the head was a nice ivory white with a finger or two in width. The beer itself is 5.8% ABV which lends itself to being just a bit heavier than a session beer, but really not heavy at all. Its got 55 IBUs which puts plenty of hoppy bitterness to mellow out the malts. As far as tastes go, its somewhat hard for me to explain. I really enjoyed it, a very spicy note to start, definitely the rye coming forward, then followed by some breadiness and finishing with dry hops to have some bitter round out that sweet and spicy front note. It’s well balanced, and it really is a great transitional beer that fills in the gap between their winter ale and spring maibock. You cannot go wrong with picking this one up in late spring if you find it. A solid 4 out of 5. I won’t hesitate to grab some more if I see it.

This paired really nicely with a veggie burger and some bourbon carrots. I think it would be fantastic with a casserole. I say bring on spring. What are you all most looking forward to with spring on the way?

Sunday Sips: Bell’s Cherry Stout and Bonus beer

Its another fine Sunday here in Iowa, winter has decided to return again. Seriously? I’m over it, but you just learn to deal with it, the forecast for next weekend is looking pretty awesome, so I’m hoping that spring really will be here to stay after that. Jackie and I spent some time up in Minneapolis last weekend, so I’m sorry I missed out on giving you guys a beer to try. To make up for it, I’m giving you two today. I’m not sure you’re going to thank me for it though. 😉

The first beer that I’m reviewing comes from Bell’s Brewery out of Michigan. I’ve reviewed a few of their beers on here before. They’re the makers of one of my favorite beers ever, the Two Hearted Ale. Just typing that in here makes me want one. Its seriously that good. As I was rummaging through the single serve bottles trying to find a new drink or two to sample for the blog and myself I saw this one. I was immediately intrigued. It’s been awhile since I’ve had a good stout, and it spoke of tart cherries being in there. Sounded like a nice dessert brew. I’ve just immediately thought of some ideas I should try there, how about a cheery stout brownie…. hmmmm, I’ll have to come back to that.

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The first thing I want you to try to notice, though I sort of blame my picture quality here is the color of this beer. It was simply amazing. It was a really deep brown almost black, with with a super dark red hue to it. It was really a great beer to look at. Immediately I’m sitting there thinking to myself, I’ve got real cherry juice in this thing. The head left a little to be desired as there just wasn’t much to it, but I’m not complaining. The nose had caramels, and chocolate and of course some cherry. As far as the taste this did not let me down in the slightest, it was a really good stout on its own merits, as it had lots of smokey malts, hints of chocolate and coffee and it finished with the tartness of the cherry. They put in just enough hops to balance it out so it wasn’t overly sweet. It really was rather delicious. At 7.0% ABV, I wouldn’t be crushing these back too quickly, but I can tell you that I finished my bottle rather fast. I was really happy with it. I give this beer a very solid 4.5 out of 5.

Now I told you all I’d give you a bonus beer, but you might not be happy with me for doing it… So I also found another beer that intrigued me as being something a little different. This one was a Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale by Wells and Young’s Brewery out of England. Normally I don’t go for the flavored beers, but I was smitten by the idea and figured why the heck not. I’ll tell you why not… Because most flavored beers just don’t work. 🙂

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It had a nice pour, for an ale it didn’t have much lacing or head to it, the color was definitely a nice burnt caramel. This is where my compliments end. The beer was an average ale at best in that it had some nice malt balance, but no bitterness to it really, so it was all sweet. Additionally the fake caramel flavoring was not very good at all. At least in my opinion it felt too forced and artificial. I don’t even really know how to describe it. It gets a 1 out of 5 from me. I poured it out. Don’t fall into the same trap I did. Stay away.

Have a great week guys. We’re working on some new blog ideas, so please keep coming back.