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On The Road Again!

On The Road Again!

I love road trips! I especially enjoy road trips that include a fun new beverage experience. Now we all know that Florida isn’t known for its wine, but there are a lot of great craft breweries popping up in the Sunshine State! My husband and I hit a couple last weekend while on our latest road trip to the Jacksonville area. My favorite of the trip??? Aardwolf Brewing Company!

Housed in a really bitchin’ old building that used to be a railroad icehouse (located in the Jacksonville’s trendy San Marco neighborhood), the atmosphere is enough of a reason for a visit. The beer??? Oh yeah … more than an added bonus!

John started out with a glass of their White Russian Stout (which ended up being my favorite of the night) and I started in on some flights!

Okay, I need to admit right here and now that we tried a bunch of different beers that night. That’s the great thing about flights though, right??? You get to try a little of everything. Well, sadly not EVERYTHING, as they have a lot of choices.

The beers that I tried that I remember best include:

Hopped Be Thy Name – I’ve been really into IPAs lately, and this doesn’t disappoint. It’s a well-balanced Double IPA with lots of citrus along with a nice creamy mouth feel!

San Marco Sour – Along with the IPAs, I’ve also recently been getting a kick out of trying sour beers. It’s a new thing for me, but not for the world! Sour beer is actually the oldest type of beer in the history of beer! Before brewers completely understood the whole pasteurization and sterilization thing, pretty much all beer was somewhat sour. Add to that, nowadays most of the well-known beers are made with specific yeast strains, not the native yeasts of yesteryear! More and more people (both in the beer world and the wine world) are using native yeasts, which can make the beverages very interesting indeed. Aardwolf’s San Marco Sour is golden in color (in fact, it looks a lot like orange juice!) with a palate of tart unripe peach and pear. It’s sour, but not TOO sour. This beer is the perfect thirst quencher for a hot Florida day. To me, it’s the beer equivalent to a nice Sauvignon Blanc!

4 Year Anniversary Beer Rye Barley Wine – Okay, so I’m a wine pro not a beer pro, and this ISN’T wine, but it is really tasty! The color is dark amber and it tastes of caramel and toffee. I could definitely drink a lot of this, but at 9.7% ABV … I should probably be careful!

White Russian Stout – Oh wow, how I love this dang beer! I can’t get enough of it. We bought three Crowlers (32 oz. can, not to be confused with a Growler) to go, but I wish I could just install a tap in my house with a direct supply! It’s super creamy on the palate with roasted coffee, chocolate, and an almost sweet vanilla bean. It’s oh so rich, smooth & silky. I absolutely adore this beer, can you tell???

Although they have a fun outdoor patio at the entrance, we bellied up to the bar when we got there and the service was phenomenal.

The vibe is really cool here, they have really great beer, AND they’re dog friendly!!!!!! How great is that? They’re also kid friendly, so there are no excuses to not pay them a visit.

Check them out here: https://www.aardwolfbrewing.com

 

 

 

You Scream For Ice Cream? I Scream For Beer!

You Scream for Ice Cream? I Scream for Beer!

I may be a wine pro, but I also love beer! Another thing I like??? Ice cream! So how excited was I to find a beer and ice cream pairing????? Helloooo!!!

My husband and I (along with our three dogs) are traveling up North for a month to get out of the Florida Summer heat. We’re in a little RV with a fridge big enough for some beer and wine we buy along the way!

One of our first stops was in Asheville, North Carolina. Asheville is a great city! Surrounded by the Smoky Mountains it’s not only beautiful, but it’s also very fun and hip! Along with mountains, Asheville has many great breweries open to the public for tastings and/or a great place to enjoy a pint with friends.

One of those wineries is the Highland Brewing Company. Dog friendly on their roof top terrace, we headed up there with our menagerie and grabbed a pint. Later, we checked out the tasting room where they were having a beer and ice cream tasting. What??? Heck, we wanted to give it a try.

Along with The Hop Ice Cream Café’s yummy ice cream, they were pouring some beers!

The first pairing was Highland’s Gaelic Ale with The Hop’s Salted Caramel Ice Cream. The salted caramel balanced the hop flavor of the ale very nicely. The salt in this ice cream crunches in your teeth providing a really fun finish. This is good stuff! Although not my favorite pairing of the four, it WAS my favorite ice cream! In fact, we bought some “to go” for our tiny freezer in the RV.

The next pairing was Highland’s Daycation IPA with The Hops’ Grapefruit Sorbet. This was a fantastic pairing. The ruby red grapefruit flavor of the sorbet was a fantastic match with the pink grapefruit taste in the beer.

Next up was the Oatmeal Porter with Big Briar Raspberry Ice Cream. With lots of tobacco on the beer, the raspberry ice cream helped create smooth finish.

The final pairing was another great one. Black Mocha Stout with … you guessed it Black Mocha Stout Ice Cream! How could this NOT pair well? The pairing was best when we started with the ice cream and finished with the beer! So yummy!!!!

So … if you’re heading to the Asheville area and you like beer AND ice cream, you must check this out!!! You can find more info about Highland and The Hop Ice Cream Café here:

http://thehopicecreamcafe.com

https://highlandbrewing.com

A Breakfast Beer??? Yes!!!

I may be a wine educator, but I’m also a lover of good beer. I was born and raised in Wisconsin, so it’s pretty much a given that beer runs through my blood. While growing up there was always a plethora of beer flowing at most social functions to quench the thirst of me and my fellow Wisconsinites!

I have some favorite craft breweries from my homeland, but there are so many great beers being brewed in all parts of the USA. Colorado is one of the hot spots and is ranked third in the nation for number of craft breweries located there. My husband was raised in Denver, so we visit quite a bit and are always sure to try some of their fine brews while there.

One of my favorites in Colorado (Denver, in fact) is Great Divide Brewing Company. While watching NFL football today I cracked open a bottle of their Espresso Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout. Wow. Pouring it into the glass it looks black in color with a dark brown foamy head. On the nose is lots of strong coffee, some dark chocolate and cocoa, vanilla and roasted barley. The palate has burnt coffee, chocolate, oaky vanilla and some caramel notes. The alcohol is 9.5%, but it’s nice and smooth and I certainly couldn’t tell! This is one darned good beer! In fact, I’d call it excellent!

The brewery suggests pairing this ale with cinnamon donuts with crème anglaise. OH MY!!!!!! That sounds truly heavenly! Another pairing they suggest is Chorizo breakfast burrito! I agree with them when they say “you can now have Yeti with breakfast”!

So … if you need to cleanse your wine palate with a beer break, or if you just love great beer, try Great Divide Brewing Company. You can check out this stout and all of their beers here:  http://greatdivide.com

Chocolate – It’s All About The Stout!

Okay, okay, I know that this is a WINE blog, but I drank a beer today that was just so darned good that I had to tell you about it.

Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout is one heck of a beer! It is the most “chocolatey” stout I’ve ever had, and I mean that in a GOOD way. This beer is almost sweet, with a creamy mouthful and some vanilla and coffee flavors to add to the chocolate. It is well balanced and has a long finish. Some beer drinkers may think that it’s too much, but I really love it.

This stout is brewed with well water from the brewery’s original well, which was sunk back in 1758.  Samuel Smith brews in traditional coppers and uses stone Yorkshire Square vessels for fermentation.

Samuel Smith Brewery is located in North Yorkshire where my ancestors are from! Now maybe that makes me a little partial, but I don’t think that is the reason I enjoy this stout so much! I think it’s because they make some delicious beer. Who knows, perhaps some of my long lost relatives even help with the brewing!

To check out Samuel Smith Brewery’s website, click here:  http://www.samuelsmithsbrewery.co.uk/site/

Looking for Beer in Orlando?

Living in Florida makes winery visits a travel adventure. Okay, we have fruit wines here. We even have a few wineries utilizing hybrid and muscadine variety grapes, which I really do need to check out sometime. A visit to wineries using the Vitis vinifera varieties that I so love, however, requires either a plane ride or a long road trip.

Brewery visits, on the other hand, can be made in abundance. Nice and close to home for me is The Crooked Can Brewery, only about a 15 minute drive from my house. And the beer? Pretty darned good!

Located in Winter Garden, Florida (a suburb of Orlando), Crooked Can isn’t the only show in town. Winter Garden is turning into quite the spot for food and beverage.

Plant Street Market in historical downtown Winter Garden is home to a fun array of shops, restaurants and this fun spot to drink. It reminds me a lot of a very clean, mini version of Pike Place Market in Seattle, without the fish throwing! Some of the many vendors include a bakery called Euro Bake World, a great coffee shop Axum Coffee, a pretty flower shop called E Fusion Botanical and the wonderful Market to Table Cuisine, where one can purchase fresh cooking ingredients and products to take home! I bought some truffle artichoke dip, leek & truffle premade soup, maple pecan butter, an Italian marinade and more!!!!

But I digress. I’m here to talk about the beer!

We started out having their Chocolate Stout. It was my favorite of the day, but actually seems more like Coffee Stout. I really like it though. It is brewed in collaboration with Axum Coffee Shop (mentioned above) by using a variety of their coffee beans. It is a deep colored stout with lots of coffee flavors and a bit of cocoa powder on the palate. With only 5.1% alcohol, I could have had another!

Instead, after finishing off our glasses of Stout, we decided to order a flight. I love their flight presentation, using an “airplane” to carry the small glasses of beer.

Our personally selected flight included:

Domestic Bliss – This is a Belgian style Ale with a beautiful golden color and a wonderful rich and creamy mouth feel. There is lots of spice on the palate, especially clove! I really enjoyed this Ale. This goes down very easily, but at 9.5% alcohol, beware of how many you order if you’re driving!

McStagger Imperial IPA – This is a Double IPA with grapefruit galore on the palate. I enjoyed it a lot, but it’s 9% alcohol, so again, drivers beware of too many!!

Cloud Chaser Hefeweizen – This German style wheat beer has some fruit and spice, along with a bit of a medicinal Band-Aid essence on the palate. My husband liked this one a lot, and at only 5.3% alcohol, drink away!!!!

Stout – This is another deep colored Stout with lots of coffee on the nose and palate. I really liked this beer, but still preferred the Chocolate Stout. This has 6.7% alcohol.

Crooked Can Brewery is a really fun place. We’ve been here a few times now. We often sit outside on their huge patio listening to live music while hanging with friends. They also have a service window from the outside, which makes it very convenient and easy to grab another brew.

Oh, and if you prefer cider, they have that too!!!!

For more information, check them out here:

http://www.crookedcan.com

 

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