Dragon Slayer–Tri City Brewing

I am one of those people who tries to do the things that I say I will do. On the larger scale, I announced during some high school class or another that I would be a lawyer, live in Ann Arbor and never have kids. Note that I got my law license in 1997 and practiced for 7 years, co-own a home in Kerrytown and there are no little squirts running around our domicile. On the smaller scale, I have long been announcing to the world that I would visit Tri-City Brewing in Bay City. They are one of my first stops at every beer fest, I have enjoyed every single beer I’ve ever had and I even know one of the brewers! It took us a little while, but Boyfriend Ken and I finally made it up there last Friday!

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As soon as we walked in, we felt at home. The place just seemed to welcome us and we had excellent service the entire time we were there. We enjoyed a sampler and I could probably write about all of the beers but I will limit myself to my absolute favorite: the Dragon Slayer.

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This beer is a barrel aged (either bourbon or whiskey…I think our bartender said it was whiskey this time around) Russian Imperial Stout. I often forget how much I love this style of beer and I really shouldn’t do that. As you can tell from the word “imperial”, it definitely has some punch to it:  it is 9% a.b.v. in its non-barrel aged incarnation (the Giant Slayer), 10.5% for this version. No matter what the a.b.v., it went down as smooth as a kitten’s belly (if one is in to drinking the belly of a kitten). It mixed just the right notes of roasted malt, chocolate and coffee and was very well balanced; to wit, Boyfriend Ken generally avoids any stout that mentions it has coffee in it but he loved this so much that he got his own glass of it.

All told, the Dragon Slayer was like being wrapped in a warm blanket of malty goodness as you sipped your morning coffee and nibbled a dark chocolate bar. Make your resolution now to drive up to Bay City (a lovely town), be a woman/man of your word and pay a visit to Tri-City Brewing. Be sure to slay some dragons while you are there!

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Published in: on April 10, 2013 at 7:09 pm  Comments (4)  

Food Faves

YANKED from Meg Goes Nom Nom:

    • McDonald’s, Burger King, In-n-Out? None of the above. I’ve never eaten at In’n’Out.
    • Mountain Dew, Sierra Mist, Sprite? Again, none of the above (God I’m a puke!)
    • Dasani, Aquafina, Evian? Tap water + my Soda Stream
    • Trident, Dentyne, Crest? Trident of the three, but I prefer Juicy Fruit
    • Almond, Peanut, Cashew? Cashews
    • Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, White Chocolate? Dark!
    • Sobe, Gatorade, Powerade? Never had any
    • Lays, Ruffles, Pringles? Pringles (but prefer Better Made)
    • Toast, English Muffin, Croissant? English muffin! I don’t like croissants.
    • Sweet, salty, sour, bitter, spicy? Oh geez..salty, I guess!
    • What do you absolutely refuse to eat? Tofu
    • The most disgusting thing you have ever eaten? Foie Gras
    • The longest you have gone without food or drink? <24 hours. I try (and fail) every Yom Kippur
    • Do you watch cooking or food shows? No TV
    • Do you know how to cook? Yes
    • When did you learn how to cook? I don’t really remember. I had to when I lived by myself in law school but it wasn’t very fancy…just heating things up mostly. I was probably married by the time I really “learned”
    • What did you last eat for breakfast? My usual banana and peanut butter
    • What did you last eat for lunch? Beef tortilla
    • What did you last eat for dinner? Eggs and toast–BRINNER!
    • Would you rather eat alone, with strangers, or with friends and family? Oh definitely with family and friends. I hate to eat alone!
    • Would you say you have good table manners? I am good with basic stuff but don’t follow the Miss Manners stuff.
    • If you have pets, do they ever get table scraps? Yep
    • Ever eaten dog, cat, other animal food? Hell no
    • First thing you usually feel like eating when you wake up? Cinnamon roll but if I eat carbs in the morning then I am jacked up all day
    • Do you chew gum? Nope, TMJ
    • Health food or junk food? Both at various times
    • Are you overweight? So says the BMI scale.
    • Have you ever been on a diet? Weight doesn’t stay off me no matter what I do.
    • Are you allergic to any kind of food? Nope.
    • What’s your favorite pizza topping? Just plain cheese
    • Organic or not? Sure if I can afford it
    • Are you vegetarian? I am not.
    • Favorite Food? Pizza and cheesy breadsticks
    • Vegetable of the Year? Meat 😉 I don’t like vegetables. Please don’t tell me that it’s because I haven’t had them cooked in the “right” way. It doesn’t matter; I don’t like them and I seriously question it when people proclaim to love them.
    • Ever eaten spam? Nope
Published in: on April 3, 2013 at 8:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

What Have I Been Drinking?

My goal for Passover was to give up yeast bread & beer. That is always my goal for Passover and I rarely make it past the first two days. But this year, I’m happy to announce that I’ve almost made it to day seven! (There was a tasting glass worth of Oberon and some toast points that just couldn’t be avoided but otherwise I’ve been SPOT ON!)

Luckily, I have friends who make good margaritas 🙂 Ken and I had a TACO BAR dinner party on Friday and margaritas were supplied. Also luckily, I have friends who know about good wine and that is what I drank at a dinner party on Saturday. But beer–sweet, sweet beer–awaits this week…more to come….

Published in: on April 1, 2013 at 8:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

Happy birthday to me!

The fact that I have a St. Patrick’s Day birthday has always been cool. As a baby, my parents dressed me in green dresses and ribbons. In elementary school, it meant that my mom brought cupcakes with green frosting to my classroom (except for that poor girl who was allergic to chocolate…she had to have a Twinkie). That birthdate was always fun but it really hit its stride in college. I managed to never drink a green beer but I usually managed to have a pretty good time.

                To paraphrase Bob Seger, now that “sweet 16 has turned”, well, 41, things aren’t quite as wild as they used to be. Nevertheless, I still get out and enjoy myself around town. This year, I created a “birthday shenanigan weekend” event on Facebook and was quite surprised by its success. My friends and I went to a variety of bars, culminating at the Corner Brewery on the afternoon of March 17.

                I had my choice of beer (heck, everyone else was buyin’!) and I chose the Michael Faricy’s Irish Stout. Named for a dearly departed friend of the Greffs, this stout is a rich but not too thick. It has a slightly burnt flavor but is not overly dry. It is well balanced and creamy from start to finish. I limited myself to two and enjoyed every last drop. Good beer and good friends is the best birthday present you can ask for.

                Now! What to do for next year….

Published in: on March 19, 2013 at 7:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Rise of the Rat

Friends know that I am a huge fan of the HBO series “The Wire”. Like many hot blooded women, I found McNulty adorable but such a rascal! The way he drank the Jameson and the beer…it got me thinking that it would have saved the character some time (and money) if those two great tastes came together. I honestly never thought it possible until I attended the annual Rat Fest at the Corner Brewery.

The Rat Fest brings together homebrewing groups who schedule a day (or days) to brew on the Corner’s 10-gallon system built by the one and only manager Danny-Boy Peron.  Nine groups graced the Rat Pad system this time around: Ann Arbor Brewers Guild HopHeads, Ann Arbor Brewers Guild Yeasters, Brighton Brew Club, Craft Beer in Michigan, Detroit Draft Divas, Motor City Mashers, Muskrat Mashers, Sons of Liberty and the Ugly Mug.

These intrepid brewers brewed four different beers a piece (one from a predetermined recipe) and came up with an amazing array of beers including one that combined Jameson and beer (no joke!). Here are some of my standouts:

How Did You Do That?~ One of my favorite flavors is mango. While I’ve never actually sat down and gnawed on the actual fruit, I do enjoy the taste of the juice. I have had several beers that purported to have mango flavor in them, but they have never really retained the taste. Somehow, the good folks at the Ugly Mug made a mango beer that actually tasted like mango but didn’t forget it was a beer. Well played, friends, well played.

Most unique~ Sometimes, people at festivals go overboard on being “weird”. That is not always a bad thing but can lead to some really bad beers. These groups did something different and ended up with great tasting brews, to wit:

Detroit Draft Divas’ Juniperus Zizania. This surprisingly strong (7.7% ABV) beer contained junipers which made for a tangy flavor. Well balanced and malty, this was my first beer of the day and it was extremely enjoyable. And seriously, how cool are female brewers??? Love them!

AABG Yeasters’ Pea Biryani. Brewer Mike O’Brien told me that he had heard about people using peas in the mash. He decided to combine whatever he brought back from his recent trip to India with peas and see what happened…and what happened was a delightful red ale nicely balanced with Biryani spices.

Brighton Brew Club’s Jaeger Blonde. True story: I’ve only ever been sent a drink one time in my life and it was a shot of Jaeger. I had never had it before and didn’t feel the need to have it again until I saw this beer listed. Brewed with a “herbal tincture to mimic Jaegermeister”, the beer still retained its base beer taste without having overpowering flavors of licorice.

Favorites~ I had to pick three and man, it was a tough job but here you go!

3rd favorite: Sons of Liberty Almond Joy Porter. Yeah, yeah, I know…sometimes you feel like a nut and sometimes you don’t and all that jazz. This beer seriously tasted like an Almond Joy bar. If ever I lose my ability to chew and I feel like the candy bar, I am going to ask them to recreate this wonderful beer.

2nd favorite (and winner for Favorite Overall Beer): Motor City Mashers’ Salty Dog Grapefruit Gose. As a general rule, I do not like grapefruit and will not eat grapefruit (nor, for that matter, will I drink anything containing Campari). So, I resisted this beer until Boyfriend Ken said, “You should try this, Patti” and so I did and I have to say that he was right (Boyfriend Ken has excellent taste, if I do say so myself). There definitely was tartness but the beer was extremely well balanced and refreshing. The base beer was a wheat beer that the brewers fermented with Hefeweizen and American Ale yeasts. All of these flavors combined to make a clean, zesty brew.

Favorite: Brighton Brew Club’s Bombs Away Stout. I went back for three tasting glassfuls of this and quite honestly, if a glassful appeared in front of me right now I would not hesitate to gulp it down. This beer was amazing—a chocolate stout with the flavors of Bailey’s and Jameson Whiskey. In one mouthful, you got the chocolate and the stout and the Bailey’s and the Jameson and it all combined into a smooth, creamy, slightly minty nirvana. This birthday made me think of St. Patti’s Day (my birthday!) and all of the smooth, creamy, and slightly minty nirvana things that go along with it. It went down a lot smoother than a beer and Jameson chaser (or Jameson and beer chaser if you prefer) like they always had in The Wire…and definitely tastier. Somewhere, Jimmy McNulty is smiling.

 

Published in: on February 6, 2013 at 8:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

Saddle Up and Get to the 4th Annual Winter Beer Fest Presented by Westborn Market

People have told me that I have a difficult job*. I don’t really think so inasmuch that I am not slaving away in a coal mine, chained to a machine or trapped in an office all day. Further, I don’t have anything to complain about compared to some of the kids on my caseload. There are kids who have chronic illnesses, kids who are blind and kids with cancer. And there are organizations that do a heckuva lot more than I do; to wit, Camp Casey, a Royal Oak based nonprofit that offers free horseback rides and other “horsey” fun to kids with cancer. Kids just naturally love horses and I honestly can’t imagine anything more delightful than opening your door and finding a horse there! Seriously, how awesome is that??

You are likely now wondering how on earth you can help such a cool organization. I have great news for you–you can help it by drinking beer. Yeah I said it! I’ll say it again: you can help Camp Casey by attending the 4th Annual Winter Beer Fest by Westborn Market. This yearly event will be held this at the Royal Oak Music Theater on Saturday, January 26 from 8pm until midnight. Tickets are just $40 in advance ($45 at the door) and get you 25 beer tasting tickets. There will also be a dozen or so local vendors offering beer-inspired food snacks and samples. For more information, or to get your tickets, call or visit Westborn Market or the Royal Oak Music Theater.

Westborn Market is thrilled to present this year’s Fest, enthuses Marketing Director Bryan Bandyk.  “Growth of the craft beer category is staggering in our retail stores, and sponsoring Beer Fest is a great opportunity to support that growth and our craft beer vendors,” says Bandyk, who notes that Westborn offers a “Mix Pak – Craft Your Own Six” special of select craft beers at their retail locations for $9.99.  “There is a terrific local element at Beer Fest – from the beers and food products featured, to the venue itself being right in our Berkley location’s backyard,” he adds.

Come on now, it doesn’t get much better than this! Drink good beer, eat good food and help Camp Casey help some awesome kids! Don’t be a neigh**-sayer–come on out for the Winter Beer Fest!

*I am a special education teacher

**Yes, I did!

Published in: on January 14, 2013 at 7:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

Produce Station Produces Great Beer Selection

When I was teaching in former district, I had five students in one particular sixth grade class. The teacher was nice but had a chronic illness that necessitated frequent absences. I would “push in” to the class almost every day and eventually ended up teaching some lessons to the students. My favorite subject was math but a close second was language arts. I happened to be in the room during lessons on homophones/homographs/homonyms and I had a great time making up silly sentences with some of the words: I bow to your nice bow, It’s not fine that you want to fine me and (my personal favorite) Some produce produces stinky butt.

Luckily, our own local Produce Station does not produce “stinky butt” but does produce awesome food & drink. And lately, they’ve been producing an awesome beer selection! I am very excited to announce that the Produce Station is taking pre-orders for bottles of beer from both Right Brain & Greenbush. Yes, you read that right: both Right Brain and Greenbush are bottling! And you can order them and pick them up right here in Ann Arbor.

Beers available from Greenbush include Anger (black IPA), Closure (American Pale Ale), Dunegras (IPA) and Brother Benjamin (Imperial IPA). Right Brain choices include Northern Hawk Owl (amber ale), Naughty Girl Stout (mint stout), Second Coming IPA and Brewery Debauchery Wheat Wine. For a complete list of available beers, please see here and here. And while you’re at it, check out all of the other cool stuff at The Produce Station’s website.

General Manager Andrew Gorsuch tells me that the six packs will be available in February but you can order NOW! Just send him an email at producestation (at) producestation (dot) com.

Can you imagine?? Right Brain and Greenbush in bottles to help you get through the long, brutal month of February! You won’t want to tear your hair out or shed a tear over the crappy weather–you’ll have beer! Just watch the number of beers you drink; I don’t want your brain to get any number than it has to!

 

 

Published in: on January 13, 2013 at 5:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Mindo Tour!

Despite stereotypes about my fine gender, I have never really been a chocolate fan. I enjoy Zingermans chocolate bars and I like Atwater’s Decadent Delight, but that’s really about it. But then I fell in love with Boyfriend Ken who I quickly learned is quite the chocolate connoisseur. He is also very difficult to shop for.

One day in early December, I was looking for chocolate Christmas presents for him. After shopping at the food co op, I meandered to the farmers’ market where I found the nice Mindo folks. I asked if it was possible to tour the facility and she said YES! I emailed them, got a very nice reply from co-owner Barbara and we were off to the races!

I love the story of how this company got started. Barbara’s husband Joe is originally from Ecuador (a top exporter of chocolate). They returned to the country, with the idea of buying some land, building a house and retiring. Until…

…they found out that the local folks in Ecuador couldn’t really enjoy their own bounty because so much was exported. (It would be like us not being to eat our cherries or drive our cars). So, that “retirement house” turned into a cafe/restaurant where they made chocolate brownies made from local cocoa beans. And those were such a hit that they expanded into the chocolate making business and…here we are! Folks in Ecuador and Michigan get to enjoy this awesome stuff and we got to see where it is made! I learned a ton and got to smell chocolate the whole time I was learning.

Okay first of all, I had NO idea that cocoa beans came from a huge pod. I just thought they sort of grew on trees like berries or something. Nature is awesome and if you don’t believe me, look at this:

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This pod contains the beans that eventually make chocolate. This is either proof that God loves us and wants to be happy or that nature is totally rad or both!

According to Barbara, the beans are taken out and brought to their facility where they ferment the beans. She showed us pictures of the fermenters, which rely on gravity to mix the beans. The fermenters are arranged into stair steps and the beans filter down from step to step. Then they are taken out and put out to dry. (The pictures reminded me of drying hops! Lots of yumminess on large screens, happily drying and waiting for their next destination).

The beans are then roasted (can you even imagine how good that smells?!?) This is how good it looks, anyway:

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The beans travel to Dexter to meet their destiny ~ chocolate, cocoa butter or cocoa powder! Mindo uses its own beans to make its cocoa butter. Personally, I think they should sell the stuff…I used a little tiny bit on my hands and it lasted for several luxurious hours.

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It looks good enough to eat, doesn’t it??

The cocoa powder is pressed by hand. I did about three pumps and ready to sit down…Barbara and her crew do this for hours because they are awesome and they love us and want us to have good cocoa.

I could now spend about five paragraphs describing the chocolate to you but I am going to insist that you try it yourself instead. You can find it at the Peoples’ Food Co Op, Morgan & York, Arbor Farms, Plum Market, the farmers’ market and several other fine locations. If you want a real treat, go see Barbara and learn about this process in person!

So thanks to Boyfriend Ken and Barbara & Mindo, I am quickly fulfilling the stereotype of the chocolate loving woman. Next I’ll be wearing pink and painting my nails! Hmmm…well, maybe not!

Published in: on January 10, 2013 at 8:45 pm  Comments (1)  

Chelsea Ale House is OPEN!

Years ago, my friend Sarah & I were at the Summer Beer Fest. Our husbands-at-the-time were off somewhere and we were stumbling around trying to find some tent or another. Suddenly, like Kilimanjaro rising like Olympus above the Serengeti* there appeared this guy:

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Well how cool, we declared. That sure would be neat. And then I sort of forgot about it….
….Until I started hearing about Chris Martinson who was determined to open a brewpub in Chelsea. The neurons in my brain fired, connected to other memories and I realized that Chris must be “the dude with the Chelsea brewpub shirt” (as Sarah & I creatively called him).

Clearly, Chris has stuff that I don’t (determination, drive, ambition**) because HOLY SHIT THERE IS NOW A BREWPUB IN CHELSEA! It opened to the public on Thursday and Boyfriend Ken & I checked it out on Friday.

We enjoyed three beers: a white ale, a porter and an IPA. We both really enjoyed the porter, which had a nice creamy head and lovely aroma. The mouthfeel was thick and smooth. Tasted perfect–roasty malt and well balanced. The Broad Reach IPA is a really big IPA (8% a.b.v.), heavy on the hops and citrusy and floral tasting. I really liked it, but Boyfriend Ken does not like American hops so he let me drink most of it (Score). The Silo White Ale was crisp and light. I’m not a huge fan of white ales, so I can’t give it a decent review but Boyfriend Ken really enjoyed it. (And trust me, he’s got really good taste!)

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They look so happy together, don’t they?

We also had the hummus snack, which was really tasty. We got pita bread, pretzel chips and carrots for dipping. You will be proud to know that I ate the carrots first, even though I don’t always like eating orange things.

This was an impromptu trip and the place was packed. So no real camera plus a huge crowd means we didn’t get the in-depth sort of pictures that we would have liked to, but I think this one is pretty good:

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From all accounts, the opening weekend was amazing and there will be lots more good times to come! More beer is being brewed and will be available soon. I can’t wait to go back! Congratulations to Chris and to the whole community of Chelsea. The dude with the Chelsea brewpub shirt has done great!

*Why yes I do bless the rains down in Africa! Thanks for asking!

**Just kidding. I really do have those things but I’m also plagued by laziness and a fondness for drinking beer instead of making it.

Published in: on January 5, 2013 at 11:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Beer of the Year

Hands down, my Beer of the Year is Atwater’s Decadent Delight. I first learned of this wonder from Beer Todd. Really, everything you learn should come from Beer Todd, but I digress. Ken & I have made at least a half dozen treks out to Atwater for this treat–and it is a treat! The nose is all chocolate (we could sometimes smell it across the kitchen when Boyfriend Ken opened a bottle) and the taste is pure cocoa. There are no coffee or oatmeal or any other underlying tastes in this beer–it’s all chocotastic.

Thanks for a wonderful beer, Atwater, and a cool space to drink it in!

Published in: on December 31, 2012 at 5:28 pm  Leave a Comment