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TUESDAY BREWSDAY: PLINY THE ELDER

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Alright alright alrightttt…. This post has been a long time coming. It’s something I’ve been saving for awhile, because obviously – if you’ve frequented my Instagram – it’s a beer that I drink as often as I can get my hands on (which is not as often as I’d like) and a beer for which I am not shy in declaring my undying love.

But today I decided it was finally the right time to officially share on the blog. Why, you ask? Well, I’ve had an insane amount of change going on in these past weeks…all good change…but man the train is a-movin’! Seriously, it reminds me of the lyric from one of my favorite John Mayer songs “‘Cause now I see, I’ll never stop this train.” Things are chugging along and life is moving quickly, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Today I start a new job with huge potential and infinite horizons. With this new job brings a big move for me and my fiancé. We have to relocate from the area that has been the hub of our 4-year relationship (and a cornerstone for my upbringing for the past 15 years!) and start a new life together in a new city an hour away. So last night, we toasted (most appropriately) with some ice cold Pliny the Elder.

West Coasters will tell you this is the greatest IPA ever made. East Coasters stand firm with Heady Topper (to be reviewed soon!!!). Regardless, there’s no denying that it’s an outstanding IPA. It is my all-time favorite beer. I might claim to have a lot of favorites, but I’m here to tell you that all my “favorites” have their own ranking system and Pliny the Elder is #1. El jefe. Numero Uno.

Hops. Pine. Body. It’s simply perfection. It’s the beer against which I compare all other IPAs. And because of that, I tend to be a harsh critic, I’ll admit it. But it’s so darn good.

I’ve only ever found it on tap once in my life and that was at Tony’s Darts Away in Burbank, CA. Upon ordering a beer that was tapped, the barkeep casually mentioned that they had Pliny the Elder on tap as a consolation. A consolation?! Excuse me, why didn’t you say that before?!?!?! Pliny is never a consolation.

Recently, we came across Pliny in our favorite local liquor store, which of course had a 1-bottle limit. So fiancé bought one, then sent me to buy one, then we repeated the same exercise the next day and our good friend even drove out to grab us one. Then we found it at Whole Foods, which had a 2-bottle limit. And in the end, ended up with 10 bottles of Pliny. That, my friends, is the dream. I do have to admit, though, that we sat on some of the bottles a little too long, because we wanted to save and savor the sweet, sweet nectar. We still have 3 bottles left, but after toasting last night, we could tell it wasn’t as fresh or up to par as when we first brought them home and opened a few. I know what you seasoned Pliny lovers out there are going to say… “It says right on the bottle:

RESPECT YOUR ELDER: KEEP COLD, DRINK FRESH, DO NOT AGE!
PLINY THE ELDER IS A HISTORICAL FIGURE, DON’T MAKE THE BEER INSIDE THIS BOTTLE ONE!
NOT A BARLEYWINE, DO NOT AGE!
AGE YOUR CHEESE NOT YOUR PLINY!
RESPECT HOPS, CONSUME FRESH!
IF YOU MUST, SIT ON EGGS, NOT ON PLINY!
DO NOT SAVE FOR A RAINY DAY!
PLINY IS BEST FOR SAVORING, NOT FOR SAVING!
CONSUME PLINY FRESH OR NOT AT ALL!
DOES NOT IMPROVE WITH AGE!
HOPPY BEERS ARE NOT MEANT TO BE AGED!
KEEP AWAY FROM HEAT!

Moral of the story is – as rare and hard to find as Pliny is – when you find it, drink it and enjoy it! Don’t sit on it. Because you are really, really going to enjoy it.

Cheers!

 

BEER

TUESDAY BREWSDAY: BLOOD ORANGE AMBER

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Is blood orange the new grapefruit? I think so! Not to say that I’m over grapefruit, because no. But when everyone has been jumping on the grapefruit bandwagon over the past year or so, I’m happy to see The Dudes going a different direction and bringing their A-game with a blood orange brew. I have already labeled this as my Summer 2016 poolside go-to. I know, usually when you think pool or beach, you think crisp Corona with a lime wedge. But this is just…better. There I said it.

From the can to a glass, it pours a dark red color. The texture is smooth and creamy. The flavor is a creamy, sweet vanilla bean balanced against the crisp tang of the blood orange. Then there is a dark chocolate finish, which is interesting but welcomed! Overall it’s smooth, flavorful & fruity but not too overpowering, and not too high in ABV to sip on while laying in the sun for a few hours. Basically, it just hits the spot.

What’s your go-to summer brew?

BEER

TUESDAY BREWSDAY: WALDO’S SPECIAL ALE

IMG_1393Brief story: I got home from work on Friday with a lot on my mind. It’s an unusually busy time for fiance and I right now and, being the planner that I am, I needed to start to talk it all out so we could plan our weekend to-do list accordingly. I got through a whole spiel and sat quietly waiting for his input. And then he says, “The liquor store got the new Waldo’s in, should we go pick some up?” Excuse me? Did you not just hear a word I said? MEN.

Long story short, he went to pick up a 6-pack of the new release of Lagunitas Waldo’s Special Ale. Looking through my Untappd, I have surprisingly not had any of the previous releases. I was curious because a Special Ale could be a great many things. Here’s what Lagunitas says about it:

Herbacious. Botanical. Dank. Resinous.

My interest was peaked. There’s a whole other side of this brew’s history and where the name comes from, but I’ll leave you to google that yourself because it’s not really in my taste. What IS in my taste, however, is the flavor of this beer! It poured a cloudy copper color. Strong tropical mango and pineapple presence with a sugary finish. The consistency is a bit thick. This triple IPA does work. It’s like grown up candy. But eat too much and you will definitely get a stomach ache (among other things) because oh boy that 11.5% ABV will getchya. I recommend you go on the hunt for some Waldo and let me know what you think!

BEER

TUESDAY BREWSDAY: WOLF MOTHER

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Over the years since I’ve become a true craft beer aficionado, I’ve come across a lot of brews that I love. And I might throw around the word “favorite” in a bit of a cavalier manner. So let me lay it out for you for reals. My favorite style of beer is an IPA. My absolute favorite IPA is Pliny the Elder by Russian River. But coming top 5 at the very least is Wolf Among Weeds by Golden Road. It’s just… So. Good.

Then, last week Golden Road comes back and says “We see your Wolf Among Weeds, and raise you a Wolf Mother.” (That’s me attempting to speak poker.) I was jumping out of my skin, itching to try it! And when I arrived home that evening, fiance had 2 waiting in the fridge for us. I know, I really picked a winner.

We pulled out 2 frosty glasses from the freezer, poured, cheersed (yep that’s a word), and tasted. It was undoubtedly from the Wolf family – potent, piney, smooth, with citrus and grapefruit flavors. However, I expected it to have a lot more kick given it’s Triple IPA status. Maybe I should have done a blind tasting with the two, but on it’s own I would have said it was the same as Wolf Among Weeds. I also found it to be under-carbonated. Again, maybe this is personal preference because I am all about the bubbles, but my brews from Golden Road usually have a little more pop on my tongue.

All in all, it’s a delicious IPA, don’t get me wrong. I would just say it doesn’t distinguish itself as much as I’d hoped from Wolf Among Weeds. Have you tried it? What are your thoughts?

BEER

TUESDAY BREWSDAY: HOP SELECTION

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This weekend was an absolute whirlwind! I took a quick trip out to Nashville to look at some wedding venues and even try on dresses! Like…WHAT? Is this real life? Yep, this is happening folks and I’m more excited than ever! After an eventful day playing bridal dress up (more coming on that soon!!), we celebrated with an indulgent lunch and a couple of cocktails.

Coming to Nashville is great because they have so many local breweries popping up and the town LOVES to support them. I always look forward to trying whatever is new from Yazoo, Jackalope, Tennessee Brew Works and others. Those guys are really putting Nashville craft beer on the map. On this particular afternoon, however, this brew from Terrapin (out of Athens, GA so still fairly close) caught my eye. It was the Hop Selection Imperial IPA from their Monster Beer Tour, which highlights one stand out hop varietal of that particular season. This Hop Selection was about the Vic Secret 2016 hops, which I have admittedly never heard of. No matter – I liked it! At 80 IBUs it has a good bitter bite, but not offensive. A crisp, pineapple flavor with a finish of pine. Yum yum. Just what I needed to highlight a fun-filled day.

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BEER

TUESDAY BREWSDAY: THERAPIST IMPERIAL IPA

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He is Risen and my fast is broken – Hallelujah! Oh beer, how I’ve missed you. It was 40 long days but I made it! And let me tell y’all, I have been stockpiling beers like nobody’s business. “I want to try this when Lent is over…and I need to drink this when Lent is over.” I’ve got my Tuesday Brewsdays set for weeks and weeks to come and there is some GOOD stuff on the way, you don’t even know!

This weekend, Drew and I took a trip up to central California to spend Easter with my future in-laws. There are a couple of local breweries up there that we love to hit when we’re in town, so to break my fast we grabbed a growler of Therapist Imperial (Triple, whichever you prefer) IPA from Dust Bowl Brewing in Turlock, CA. What better way to celebrate Easter and my Lenten accomplishment than with 100 IBUs? I mean, that’s how you do it right. It was a gorgeous clear golden color with medium carbonation (maybe some of this was lost in our growler. The screw tops aren’t the most efficient). Citrusy and piney with a well-balanced malty sweetness. I think this has officially replaced Hops of Wrath as my favorite Dust Bowl brew. If you think great west coast hoppy beer only comes out of San Diego or way up in Northern California (think Bear Republic or Russian River), Dust Bowl will surely change your mind and put central California on your radar.

BEER

TUESDAY BREWSDAY: PLINIAN LEGACY, THE FINAL INSTALLMENT

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As I mentioned when I started this brewing recap, this was only our 2nd ever homebrew. Our first attempt came with much trial and error, and we knew this time around we weren’t going to get it quite perfect either. We were right.

I left off last having transferred our wort to the primary fermenter. 2 weeks later we transferred to our secondary – a 6 gallon plastic bucket with pour spout to make bottling easier. Here’s where things went a little awry. We had our fermenter in a kind of MacGyver cooler to keep the beer at the proper steady temperature. Basically it was was partially submerged in cool water. With the primary (glass carboy) this was no problem. But two weeks after transferring to the secondary, we went to dry hop the beer and noticed the water looked a little murky. The pour spout had pushed up against the giant bucket it was submerged in, and created a gap in the seal between the spout and the plastic bucket. Our beer was leaking out. Boo had a minor panic attack that the beer was ruined and water had gotten in, but I thought it was only a slow leak outward, rather than seeping into the secondary. We immediately removed it from our makeshift water bath and purchased this insulated fermentation bag – what we should have done from the get go – to house the secondary for the remainder of fermentation. Whether or not the beer was ruined, we weren’t sure, but we pressed on to not lose all of our progress.

2 weeks later it was time to bottle. Again we sanitized ALL equipment. We mixed a priming solution and poured it into our bottling bucket (back into the glass carboy). Time for bottling. We filled a mixture of 12 oz and 22 oz bottles and capped of with these cute hop caps that Boo found. The bottle wand was a dream, but did get clogged with sediment every few bottles and needed a washout. Another 2 weeks and it would be the moment of truth: the tasting.

Perfectly carbonated and only a little sediment. It was hoppy with very slight sweetness on the finish. Was it similar to Pliny the Elder? Not really. It’s hard to duplicate greatness. But was it a failure? Absolutely not. It was actually good! A huge improvement from our first homebrew. Admittedly, the flavor was definitely affected by our leak, but it thankfully did not ruin the batch. All in all, another great learning experience and we are even more prepared and itching to start our next brew!