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Wisconsin Road Trip … With BEER & John Mayer!!!

Wisconsin Road Trip … With BEER & John Mayer!!!

I live in Florida where the winters are glorious and the summers suck. It’s just so dang hot. So a couple of years ago my husband and I did something we never in a million years thought we’d do. We bought an RV. Owning a little home with wheels enables us to take our three doggies with us as we get the heck out of Dodge for a few weeks during the hottest (and stormiest) times in Florida.

This year we headed toward the Midwest, a land known for some super breweries.

While in Wisconsin, we hit quite a few. Here are some of my favorites:

Hinder Brewing Company – This new brewery is located in Waupaca, WI, my parent’s hometown where I spent a lot of weekends while growing up. My favorite thing about this brewery was the venue. Oh gosh, what they’ve done with this place! The building used to be a pretty run down store and they’ve turned it into a super hip spot. What a great place to hang with friends and down a brew or two. My favorite beer here was the Schweddy Stout, although their GladAss Porter and Craggy IPA were darned good too.  I absolutely love their slogan … “Grab a Hinder”!

22 Lakes Brewing Company – Also in Waupaca, this brewery is located right downtown and has some great beer! One of my favorites was the 22 Lakes Chuck’s Steam Engine, their signature stout with lots of roasted barley flavor. They also have some “Guest Beers” from Fifth Ward Brewing Company in Oshkosh (my hometown, woohoo!!!!). I fell in love with Fifth Ward’s Haze It or Love It New England style IPA! Full of grapefruit and orangey citrus flavors, this beer is a great thirst quencher on a warm day! Loved it!

Central Waters – Next up was Central Waters in nearby Amherst, WI. Holy moly, there wasn’t a bad beer in the bunch, and they have a HUGE bunch of beers!  My personal favorite was the Brewer’s Reserve Vanilla Bean Stout. Aged in bourbon barrels, this Imperial Stout has a lot of flavor, but the vanilla and bourbon are so well balanced that neither is overpowering. And I would never have guessed the ABV at 9.5%! I also really loved the Cassian Sunset; another bourbon barrel aged imperial with lots of baking spice flavors. They had a to die for milkshake IPA too, but like I said, every beer we tried was fabulous, and we tried pretty much all of them! I was so enthralled with the beer that I forgot to take many pictures! Luckily my husband snapped one of our flights, and I did capture a couple on my way to the loo! We bought lots of beer to go, along with some souvenir glasses and a shirt.

Geneva Lake Brewing Company – While visiting the Lake Geneva area of Wisconsin, I wanted to check out their brewery scene. We were there on a Monday, so we were limited because most places were closed. We checked out Geneva Lake Brewing Company and were happy with our choice. The brewery and taproom are in an industrial area, but that works for us. Inside, the taproom is pretty cool, and they have a bunch of board games and great seating. It was slow on Monday, but I imagine it’s pretty jamming on the weekends. Our favorite beers there were the IPAs. We grabbed a crowler of both their No Wake IPA and Implosion Double IPA to go!

Good City Brewing – Last, but certainly not least, was Good City Brewing in Milwaukee! My hubby and I were in town to see John Mayer at the Fiserv Forum, so I looked into nearby brewery taprooms we could hit before the show. Wouldn’t you know … right across the street was a taproom for a brewery I’d been dying to try … Good City! So we checked it out before the show! The vibe is awesome, with lots of seating in a fun industrial, yet modern space. They have a barley wine called BFG that I really dug. It’s 11.5 alcohol, so I was careful. They also had some great IPAs, my favorite probably being the Reward, which is a Double IPA. I loved the complexity of the tropical fruit along with some floral hoppy notes. My husband’s favorite was the Detail Porter, with lots of mocha maltiness! Good City was definitely a great way to start a fabulous night seeing John “gasp” Mayer!!!!!!!! Seventh row, no less! What an awesome time in Milwaukee!!!!!. P.S. Be sure to order some of their curry fries! Holy Moly!!!!

By the way, my husband and I have seen John Mayer in concert a gazillion times, and this tour ROCKS!!! If you have the chance, don’t hesitate to make a date and go!

We are now on our way back toward Florida, with a weeklong stop in Asheville! I’m sure we’ll be hitting Asheville’s famed South Slope to sample some of the brews there. Who doesn’t love a road trip with breweries along the way?

If you’d like to check these breweries out, here are the links! Cheers!!!

https://hinderbrewingco.com

http://www.22lakesbrewingco.com

https://centralwaters.com

https://www.facebook.com/GLBrewCo/?rf=891035637634727

https://www.goodcitybrewing.com

What’s The Tastiest Hangover Remedy???

What’s the Tastiest Hangover Remedy???

Did you know that French Onion Soup is a hangover cure? What??? That’s what a lot of people believe. In fact, this heavenly caramelized onion concoction is often served at weddings in France long AFTER the cake … to ward off the dreaded headache and nausea that is bound to plague you the next day!

I made a batch last night. Not because I was hung-over, but because it’s my hubby’s favorite!

Now I know that there are a lot of wine pairing options for this tasty soup, but which bottle should I crack open? Should I go with a Pinot Gris from Alsace, whose Meyer lemon and waxy texture would compliment the soup nicely? A Gewürztraminer crossed my mind, for the touch of residual sugar that would bring out the sweetness of the onions. A Northern Rhone or Beaujolais were also tempting, but I ended up going with a Pinot Noir from Burgundy!

I chose the 2012 Régis Bouvier Gevrey-Chambertin, which I think was a great fit! The bright raspberry, cranberry and cherry fruit in the wine pick up the onion’s sweetness. The herbaceous thyme I used to in the soup brought out the earthiness of the wine. Perhaps most importantly, the great acidity of the wine cuts the richness of the Gruyere cheese (my favorite part!) blanketing the soup!

The wine itself is lovely! Perfectly balanced with fruit and earthiness, this 2012 Régis Bouvier Gevrey-Chambertin is a great value and once again a fine example of why I trust a bottle with the Kermit Lynch logo on the back label!

So go for it!!! Whether you’ve had too much fun the night before (i.e. hangover!) or you’re just in the mood for some warming soup with a kick-ass wine, cook up some French Onion Soup and grab a bottle of Régis Bouvier! Cheers!

https://www.kermitlynch.com/our-wines/regis-bouvier/

 

This Oklahoma Beer Is More Than Just … OK!

This Oklahoma Beer is More Than Just … OK!

It’s that time of the year … FOOTBALL SEASON!!!! And what goes great with football???? Why BEER of course.

To quote someone in the news this week, “I like beer!”. “I like beer a lot!” And now .. I have a new FAVORITE beer! It’s called Bomb!, and it’s from Prairie Artisan Ales out of Oklahoma.

This stout is so dang good. With the alcohol at 13%, it sure packs a punch too!

In the glass, the color is dark black with an auburn colored head. There is lots of chocolate and coffee bean on the nose. On the palate is a delightful mocha flavor with vanilla, some baking spices and an absolutely delightful hint of mild chili pepper on the finish. You would never know that the ABV is so high, as it’s not hot at all and doesn’t’ have that strong alcohol flavor on the palate that some high ABV beers do.

I literally can’t get enough of this beer. So … I went to my local Lucky Market to stock up on some more, and they were out! What???? They did, however, have some Prairie Artisan Ales Paradise Stout, so I bought them out.

Wow, Paradise is a great stout too! This also pours dark black and tastes of espresso, with some chocolate and nuttiness. This beer is brewed with coconut and vanilla. There is definitely a hint of each, but it’s not too much. This is a very well-balanced stout and a delight to drink!

While my favorite is still the Bomb!, I love the Paradise too. And you’d better believe that I’ll be seeking out all of the beers that Prairie Artisan Ales produce. The next time I’m driving through Oklahoma, I’ll be stopping in for a visit!!!!!

You can learn more about them here: https://prairieales.com

Stop To Smell (& Taste) Nathaniel Rose’s Wines In Michigan!

Stop to Smell (& Taste) Nathaniel Rose’s Wines in Michigan!

Are you ready to live in an Airstream to fulfill your dreams? Anyone who knows about the wine industry understands that owning a winery is a lot of HARD WORK, and doesn’t come cheap.

My husband and I are currently touring the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail in the Northwest of Michigan’s lower peninsula, and I have to say that I’m impressed. We have tasted a lot of very tasty wines and ciders the past couple of days. Saturday’s favorite? … Nathaniel Rose!

Interestingly, my husband and I are touring the Midwest in OUR recently purchased RV (a new passion of ours), but we’re NOT the ones living in the Airstream! That would be 33 year old Nathaniel Rose, making his dream a reality by living on the low and producing some fabulous wines!

Courtney, who is super knowledgeable, passionate about the wines, and a lot of fun, greeted us in the tasting room! Don’t have your heart set on a hoity-toity tasting experience here! This is not one of your fancy schmancy tasting rooms. You can tell that all of the money (and heart) goes into the wine.

The first wine of the tasting was his 2013 Marsanne, made as an orange wine! How cool is that??? If you’ve never had an orange wine, it’s definitely something to seek out! No … there are no oranges used in making this wine!!!! Basically, it’s a white wine where the grape skins are left on during maceration, like in red wine production. This produces an amber (sometimes orange, hence the name) color along with some tannin, which makes it very special indeed. This Marsanne is well done and was a fun way to start the tasting.

We tasted a bunch of great wines, but another fun one that sticks out in my mind is the 2012 Chelois. Chelois is a rare, high-quality French-American hybrid varietal created by viticulturist Albert Seibel in the 1920s. Rose leaves the grapes hang until they are partially raisined, producing a rich and powerful wine.

Nathaniel Rose also makes some killer Syrah! His ’13 La Blonde is co-fermented with Viognier, á la the Rhone Valley! His ‘13 Double Barrel Syrah has a wonderful funky nose, with some tart cherry chocolate on the palate. Good stuff indeed.

My favorite wine of the tasting? That would be his 2012 Right Bank! 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet Franc (fashioned after the wines of the Right Bank of Bordeaux), this wine can hold up to a lot of Bordeaux wines I’ve had. Lots of cherry, currant and some earthiness make this my kind of wine!

If I had more wine storage in our RV, I would have bought a bunch, but I’m happy that I could at least grab a couple to take back to Florida and share with some of my fellow wine geek friends.

So … if you find yourself on the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail, be sure to stop at Nathaniel Rose. The tasting room is just outside the quaint village of Suttons Bay, and has a lovely water view out back!

http://www.nathanielrosewine.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some “Foxen” Great Wine!

Some “Foxen” Great Wine!

Have you ever tasted wine in a hippie shack? Well, last weekend my husband and I did just that!

While visiting the fabulous Santa Barbara wine country, we knew from past experience that Foxen (one of the pioneer wineries of the area) was a must visit. Good thing we stopped, because it ended up being our favorite wine experience of the trip.

Foxen Vineyard Winery is two … two wineries in one! Well, two wine tasting experiences anyway.

They have “The Shack”, their original tasting room. Here they pour their Bordeaux and Cali-Ital style wines in a fun, funky atmosphere where I personally could hang out all day long. My favorite wine in “The Shack” was the 2014 Los Potreros Cabernet Sauvignon from the Happy Canyon AVA. This 100% Cab Sauv has lots of dark fruit, along with some licorice and pepper. I bought a bottle of this to put away in the cellar for a few years.

A hop, skip and a jump away is a completely different Foxen world! Here lies their state-of-the-art solar-powered facility that is modern, classy, and home to some “foxen” fabulous wine! This is where they pour their tasty Rhône inspired and outstanding Burgundian varietal wines.

A lover of Burgundy, I’m darned picky when it comes to Pinot Noir. Not many New World Pinots rock my boat, but there is just something about the Foxen Pinots that get me going. They’re truly special! My favorites were the ’14 Melville Vineyard (still a baby, but this has lots of tart cranberry and a wonderful herbal quality), the ’14 Block 8 from the famous Bien Nacido Vineyard (with ripe plum and a nose of roses!) and my personal favorite the ’14 Fe Ciego Vineyard (with strawberry, cranberry and some lovely earthiness).

I also enjoyed their ’16 Block UU Bien Nacido Chardonnay. This Chard has orange blossom, ripe peach, lemon and great minerality.

And then … there was more! They were offering a library tasting of some really fun wines. We cleaned them out of their 2006 Toasted Rope Syrah. In true Northern Rhône style, the winemaker blended in Viognier (15%!). Wow! I love it. It has lots of olive, smoky meat and there is still nice dark fruit on the palate.

We also grabbed a couple of the ’08 Rock Hollow Cabernet Franc. I opened a bottle the other night and paired it with a Grandma’s Pie (pizza in a pan) and kale salad! It was fabulous!

The next time you are anywhere near Santa Barbara, be sure to head to the gorgeous 2000 acre ranch property of Foxen Vineyard Winery. The views are lovely, the people are friendly, and the wine rocks!!!!

To learn more, click here: http://www.foxenvineyard.com

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