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May 22nd, 2014 | in Beer Tasting, Food | Leave a comment

Let’s see, where all did we try some beer? People looked at us funny because we truly only tasted, never stopped and actually had just a beer (unless we were eating). So I will try and list all of the places that we tasted:
 

 

While in Rapid City, SD we had dinner at Independent Ale House. They have hand hand crafted pizza and ours was awesome! They have 40 rotating taps and over 145 different bottled beers to purchase. You need to go here.
 
We also went to Montana Brewing for lunch, I just love their fish & chips!

 


 

Cheers! ~ Kim

July 12th, 2011 | in Beer Tasting | Leave a comment

Ok, I know, there has been a lot about beer lately, but hey, it’s one of my new passions! And, well, Michigan has some excellent craft breweries! Here are some words to live by for the State of Michigan:

Brewery, Microbrewery, Brewpub, what’s the difference?

  • A brewery can sell beer both in their own tavern, as well as through retailers across the state. Breweries are limted to one tavern per company.
  • A microbrewery is limited to brewers under 30,000 barrels of annual production. Microbreweries can sell beer in both their own taverns or through retailers across the state. They are not limited in the number of taverns they may operate.
  • A brewpub can only sell its’ beer inside their own establishment including beer-to-go. It also may include a liquor license and offer a full-service bar.

These definitions are based on the State of Michigan licensing qualifications. These definitions may vary from state to state.

 

It seems petty and silly, but hey, all I care about is the beers. They can figure out what they are, I will try their samplers :-)

 

While in Michigan, we tried several different breweries (or what ever they were…) as we traveled around. Here is the list:

 

Round Barn Beer Barn

Round Barn Beer Barn

 

Bell's entrance in Kalamazoo, MI

Bell's entrance in Kalamazoo, MI

 

Bell's selections, too many to choose from

Bell's selections, too many to choose from

 

Our selection

Our selection

 

Jim outside of Paw Paw

Jim outside of Paw Paw

 

Paw Paw is starting small

Paw Paw is starting small

 

Livery Brewing

Livery Brewing

 

The Livery selections

The Livery selections

 

Our Livery selections

Our Livery selections

 

Jim entering Cheboygan Brewing

Jim entering Cheboygan Brewing

 

Cheboygan beer fermenting

Cheboygan beer fermenting

 

Tahquamenon Falls Brewery

Tahquamenon Falls Brewery

 

Tahquamenon Falls selection

Tahquamenon Falls selection

 

It was a lot of fun trying out different beers, Paw Paw Brewing (with only 2 beers to taste) was established in January of 2010 and Cheboygan (again only 2 beers) had been open only 5 weeks! The others were old hat, but worthwhile checking out, especially Bell’s. I even looked for a clone recipe for Bell’s Two Hearted Ale and found several. It’s really, really good.

 

If you are into beer, especially Ale’s (of all kinds), check out the Alehead Blog.

 

When trying to figure out what to do while in Ohio (other than visit, eat & drink), Put-in-Bay came up from a friend at dinner. So the plans were made, the drive seemed long (because we had to get up so early to catch a certain boat), but it was all worth it. We were just a tad early for the season, a couple of days before Memorial Day, so not everything was open. That was ok, we still had fun!

 

The biggest bummer was that the Perry Monument was closed for renovations (200 year anniversary next year for the War of 1812). We couldn’t go to the top, but the video was interesting in the visitors center.

 

 

After visiting the memorial, we did some shopping and then decided it was time for lunch. We had heard about this marvelous lobster bisque at the Boardwalk, but the Boardwalk was closed. We ran into someone that worked there (they were getting it ready to open over Memorial Weekend) and he said that the Hooligan Pub was also owned by them and they had some that day, it was in the process of heating up.

 

So, off to Hooligans it was. We ordered lunch but they said the bisque wasn’t ready yet, it had to be re-heated very slowly. We said we would come back for it after awhile. Once we were done with what we did order, we headed over to the Put-in-Bay Brewing Co. so that I could try their beers (and get a souvenir glass :) ) We did go back, but they were closing from between lunch & dinner. They never told us that, so we asked for our bisque to go and ate it out on the porch. We were definitely disappointed in the bisque, it was too thick and kinda lumpy.

Here’s there line-up that we tasted:

  • Watermelon Wheat
  • Captain Barclays’s IPA *
  • Summer Brew
  • South Bass Oatmeal Stout *
  • Pass Out Bourbon Stout *

 

I liked the IPA and the two stouts, the oatmeal was the better of the two. I was pleasantly surprised that I even liked one, let alone three of them. I would go back if I ever had the chance.

 

After the brewery, we headed out to do a little wine tasting. There are two wineries on the island, Heineman’s Winery and Put-in-Bay Winery. We didn’t taste at Heineman’s, all they had was sweet wine, but we did make some purchases in the gift store. We did try a few wines at Put-in-Bay, they had a few dry reds and whites. Not bad, but no purchases made here.

 

After wine tasting, we drove around some more in our little golf cart along the waterfront to see how the other half lives. There are some really nice homes and a lot of summer cottages. It was fun to see what was basically a “gosling nursery”. There were 3 or 4 mama geese keeping all their goslings together and herding them from one spot to another. There were all different ages (sizes) of goslings, so it was really interesting to watch. Those mama’s were very careful too, if you got too close, they started spitting at you and would make like they were going to bite. I stayed a little further back to get my pictures 😉

 

We didn’t want to get home too late, so we headed back, but we also wanted to try another winery on the way home. We stopped at Firelands Winery in Sandusky. It was really nice inside (they were renovating the outside), the people very nice and you got to choose 5 wines to taste. They had a little of everything. I bought a cool bottle (blue fish) that has riesling in it (didn’t taste the wine, just wanted the bottle) and a bottle of sparkling brut (didn’t get to taste it either). We did open the bottle a few days later and I found it really enjoyable and was surprised at the quality (not so much for the price though). Terri bought a couple of bottles of Italian styled wines.

 

We were ready to be home, it was a long day, but really enjoyable. How can you go wrong after wine & beer tasting? You can’t 😀

We made it safe & sound to Pigeon Forge, TN from Memphis. We haven’t been in this neck of the woods since 2000. It sure has changed! We are parked down the road from the main drag of Pigeon Forge, nice park, no road noise. Once we got here after 6 hours of driving, we just parked and settled. Yesterday was all about laundry, dishes, and other pink items that needed doing. Now that I am mostly caught up, we took the afternoon to start our adventures.

 

This adventure was about 3 local wineries (all owned by the same group) and the local brewery. We did a little shopping in between :)

 

Rocky Top Wine Trail:

 

They had a gamut of wines to try, all the tastings were free. Each winery has at least 4 dry wines, then they go into the semi-sweet and then sweet. The south loves their sweet wines, that is what they sell the most of. The Merlot at Hillside is made from grapes from Oregon and wasn’t that bad (but I didn’t buy any). I did buy a dry white at Mountain Valley and a brut sparkling at Hillside. There was a LOT of wine walking out the doors. All three wineries had huge gift shops and had some of the same stuff, but quite a bit that was different. I could have stayed a long time just to look through it all. I did buy some of my favorite wine stoppers.

 

Mountain Valley Winery

Mountain Valley Winery

 

Apple Barn Winery

Apple Barn Winery

 

Hillside Winery

Hillside Winery

 

Gift shop & tasting room in Hillside

Gift shop & tasting room in Hillside

 

The Apple Barn Winery is part of a huge complex that included a restaurant, Cider Mill, and a Creamery. It was very busy, the parking lot was pretty full and there were several buses.

 

We headed over to the Tanger Mall so that I could look for a few clothing items that I needed (always need something) and then finally decided it was time to try the brewery.

 

Smokey Mountain Brewery is pretty big, they have several restaurants in Knoxville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. We tried the Pigeon Forge brewery and restaurant, it is where all the beer is actually made.  We got a taster of 6 of the beers, 2 seasonals: Bock & Stout, then 4 of the regulars: a red, porter, brown and pale ale. We really liked the stout, bock & pale ale. I would go back again. Besides, the food was really good!

 

Outside Smokey Mountain Brewery & Restaurant

Outside Smokey Mountain Brewery & Restaurant

 

the beers that we tasted

the beers that we tasted

 

happy beer tester :)

happy beer tester :)

 

In fact, I liked the pale ale so much, I would really love to get the recipe. It had just the right hops! I had a reuben sandwich for dinner w/fries (bad, bad, me) and Jim had their signature sirloin steak. They were both wonderful and would recommend anyone to try them out.

 

Now, I am really full and have this post done. Time to get ready to see who gets kicked off of DWTS! Until later…

April 15th, 2011 | in Beer Tasting | Leave a comment

The beer is finally ready, I head over to Mark’s house to help out with the bottling. He prepped the bottles (sanitizing them), but I helped to rinse and then fill the bottles. The most work is in sanitizing all the tools (bottles, caps, bottling bucket), if you don’t, you will ruin a batch really fast. We also add a little sugar to get the yeast working again, you want a few bubbles in the bottle :)

 

the beer is ready!

the beer is ready!



 

beer bottles being sanitized with chlorine water

beer bottles being sanitized with chlorine water



 

the sturdy box ready for the newly bottled beer

the sturdy box ready for the newly bottled beer



 

draining rinsed bottles ready for beer

draining rinsed bottles ready for beer



 

my own case of IPA ready for the RV

my own case of IPA ready for the RV



 

Mark taking My beer to MY car :)

Mark taking My beer to MY car :)



 

Now the hard part, waiting a minimum of 4 weeks for the beer to bottle age and longer would be better! I have 4 22oz bottles from the first batch that I made with Mark, it will have to hold me over until this batch is ready for consumption. I guess I will just have to drink wine until then 😉 darn, what a tough life!

April 15th, 2011 | in Beer Tasting | Leave a comment

I decided that I wanted to become a beer brewer, a home brewer that is. I won’t be able to do it this year before we left for our travels, but I wanted to take some beer with me. I approached Mark with a proposition, if I pay for the ingredients, would he allow me to make a batch at his house with his help? He was all for it (thank goodness), so we made plans to start the brewing process once again.

We made the same IPA (India Pale Ale) that we made the last time (one of my favorite types of beer), but with a twist, the malt was a little lighter and the grains were a little darker. The process would be exactly the same though as the last batch. The big difference would be that I got half of the beer! One full case of 16 oz bottles of home brewed IPA.

It’s funny, I mentioned to Jim about wanting to brew beer at home and he had already started thinking about how to go about it. We have a BIG workshop that is only used for storage right now. We are going to pipe water to it and wall out a room so that I can temperature control it for brewing (and could be used for wine making too). While in Mineola, we had to make a trip to Lowe’s, Jim needed a new bolt for the RV and I wandered around looking at stuff that I would need to make this room work. I am really excited about this new project! The “girls” are going to pipe the water while we are gone this summer and once we get back in the fall, the brewing room building will begin!

Tools for this batch of IPA

Tools for this batch of IPA



 

stirring the wort, it's a little darker this time

stirring the wort, it's a little darker this time



 

finished beer going into carboy for fermentation

finished beer going into carboy for fermentation



 

cooling down so that the yeast can be added

cooling down so that the yeast can be added



 

I didn’t get to add the yeast, the beer had to get to a certain temp before it could be added, so I left it in very capable hands. We made the beer on March 26th, had to wait for it to get through fermentation, it was ready to bottle on April 7th. We had planned originally to start our trip on April 4th, but it all worked out, I had messed up my back and was still getting it happy again, so we decided to leave on Saturday the 9th. It allowed us to give the beer the time it needed before bottling.

 

February 20th, 2011 | in Beer Tasting, Friends | 1 comment

I seem to be talking about beer a lot lately, but what can I say? I am a beer snob. Plain & simple. I am hard pressed to drink a Bud or a Michelob even on a really hot day. What I do like is a really good micro brew, usually something with lots of hops or complex flavors. I love IPA’s (India Pale Ale), red Scottish Ales, Stouts & Porters. Jim’s favorites are the Porters, something really chewy yet smooth.

No, I haven’t quit my love and fascination with wine, but beer is easier to make at home if that is what you want to do and I am thinking it is. Mark, a friend here in Texas, has been homebrewing for quite some time. When I was helping him (really, mostly watching and learning), I think he was on his 88th batch. With a b-in-law and a “new” (in-law) nephew that both brew (home for the b-in-law and a brewmaster at Lompoc for the nephew), it’s hard not to get interested.

Beer making is something I can do while in Texas over the winter and have a finished product(s) before we hit the road again in the spring. What could be better than that? Especially if it is beer that you really like! I couldn’t do that with wine, it would have to be babied over months of time that we want to be on the road enjoying everything that we can find to do. So, beer making it is :)

Mark was generous enuf to let me come over and interrupt his normal process to take pictures and ask questions. And darn, in-between times that we had to do something, we got to enjoy some of his previous batches of homebrew, what a sacrifice! Thanks Mark for a great time and probably a new hobby, just what I needed 😉

Here are some pictures that I took through the process…



December 15th, 2010 | in Beer Tasting, Family, Friends | Leave a comment
Right before we left Seattle, we quick got in a couple of meals with friends and family. We headed down to Portland to say goodbye to my family, and then the trip began (which would take over 1 month) to head back to Texas. We had plans to spend most of the month of October in Yellowstone/Tetons and Southern Utah. As mentioned before, we also made a stop at Walla Walla after leaving Portland, since it takes 3 drive days in an RV to get to our first major stop, Yellowstone.


Andrae's Kitchen

Andrae's Kitchen

 I had made friends with Andrae when he was working in the tasting room of Dusted Valley in WW. He just happens to be a trained chef. He does a lot of catering but he now also has a food wagon in WW and they have some of the best stuff!

another beer tasting at Lompoc

another beer tasting at Lompoc

 

 While in Portland, we went to the New Old Lompoc Sidebar to enjoy their harvest beers, Jim is bellied up to the bar to get us our beers, my sister Teresa (bottom right) is chatting with a friend of her children, Alex.

Lunch w/Keith at Dog & Pony

Lunch w/Keith at Dog & Pony

 

 Keith and I got together for a fun lunch at the Dog & Pony. We never have enough time to catch up with what’s happening in each of our worlds. I have known Keith since I went to work at Boeing in Nov. 1988. Can’t believe it’s been that long!

Dinner w/Johannah, Sklyar & Mark

Dinner w/Johannah, Sklyar & Mark

 

 We grabbed an evening and went to dinner with our son Mark and his girlfriend Johannah and her daughter, Sklyar. We love going to the Islander, they have some great food and a nice wine list.

Chicken Curry & Roasted Corn - OMG
Chicken Curry & Roasted Corn – OMG

 This, this is some really great grub from Andrae’s Kitchen! The chicken curry was great, but the local Roasted Corn was to die for! We went back the next day to try the special (pulled pork sandwich) and another ear of corn. I want the recipe!


November 3rd, 2010 | in Beer Tasting, Scenic | Leave a comment
I talked Jim into heading over to the beach for a week. I love the beach and we just don’t make enough time to really visit. I crammed a LOT of stuff into our week, but still, some of the best times are just walking along the waves in the sand.
     
We actually walked to Mo’s along the beach, did a lot of people, wave & kite watching as we walked. It was a good thing, because we needed to burn the calories to enjoy the clam chowder :)
 
We also visited Depoe Bay, Newport, & Pacific City, tasted and drank a lot of beer, shopped and enjoyed a lot of great seafood. We love seafood. While in Depoe Bay, there was a boat with fresh caught crab, I couldn’t pass it up. We enjoyed every bite in several forms.
      
   
pictures can tell you a lot more in fewer “words” than I can; so come along on our beach trip via pictures.
   

November 3rd, 2010 | in Beer Tasting, Family, Friends | Leave a comment

July was a very busy month for us, I enjoyed my 35th HS reunion in Bend, visited with friends Patty & Russ and watched the fireworks. Went to the Oregon beach (Newport/Depoe Bay) for a week (been a REALLY long time since we had been to the beach and stayed). Visited with family & friends in Portland. The final fun week was the HUGE family camping trip to “Cow Camp”. It wasn’t as big as it usually is, but it was still a lot of fun! I ran the whole show (well, mostly) this year because several of the other “helpers” were busy planning a wedding to take place the following week after Cow Camp. Here are a couple of misc pictures, there will be more blog on the big stuff 😉



Family & Friends by the pool

Family & extended family enjoying a little downtime by my sister Teresa’s pool.


Bend Fireworks

We enjoyed the Bend Fireworks from Patty & Russ’s front yard. The fireworks were being shot off of Pilot Butte. While watching, we enjoyed a couple of bottles of bubbly too! imagine that 😉


Russ, Odin the dog & Patty

Patty (and Russ too) has a new family member, Odin, a rescued St. Bernard. He is just a huge sweetie and we became great friends while visiting.


Beer tasting at Bend Brewing

While in Bend, had to try a couple of breweries that I hadn’t in the past. Here I am enjoying a “tasty” tasting tray at Bend Brewing. They had some great beers.


Another long bike ride

Last, but not least, in-between all the other activies, Jim and I headed over to see Beth, Steve, Vicki & Dave come into Portland after riding in the Seattle to Portland 2 day bike ride. It’s fun to watch all those bikers coming across the finish line. Jim and I both crossed that finish line in 2004 & 2005.