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Davis Beer Week

17 Aug

The summer is almost at an end – I’m setting my alarm tonight for the first time in about a week. Tomorrow is the beginning of pre-year meetings and planning sessions even though the kids don’t come back for another week and a half. I’m not quite ready.

It was a weird summer. Not bad….but kind of bumpy. Summer work was overall good but I missed my trip home due to an ill timed flu. I spent one whole weekend in bed. Missing the flight, though, did mean I was in town for Davis Beer Week.

Even though I didn’t participate in many of the official events, I did a lot of unofficial tastings at home.

I kicked off beer week with a range of pale ales. First was Auburn Alehouse Independence Day Ale. Decent, but not noteworthy. IMG_0128.JPG

Although the cap was pretty awesome… IMG_0129.JPG

I also had Dale’s Pale Ale for the first time. Not sure how I’ve managed to miss it but it provided a nice pick me up to an afternoon reading educational books.

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Finally tonight in honor of fall I tried New Belgium’s Tour De Fall – of the three this was probably my favorite.

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I did go to a great class at the Davis Co-Op: Cooking with Beer. I got to watch the excellent chef there make four different recipe and sample each. We had Lambic Whipped Cream Cheese, Chocolate Stout Muffins (sooooo good!), Welsh Rarebit with a brown ale, and finally an IPA BBQ sauce.

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I wrapped the week up at the Davis Bike and Brew Fest. My friend Katy kindly went with me. Beer, sunshine, and a good friend – a perfect ending to summer.

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Belgian Beers – February Beer Dinner

14 Mar

Even though February was just a month ago it feels like it was so much longer – the last several weeks have been non-stop busy. Generally once a week I have to stop and ask, “What day of the week is it?” Usually it’s only Tuesday. Planning for a beer dinner is always a good mental break and I was excited for February and the Belgian beer theme. I’m actually not all that much of a fan of Belgian beers but I’m branching out a bit. Usually Belgians are too “Belgian-y” for me…maybe a little stanky…I never claimed to be good at beer descriptions!

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My favorite beer of the night was probably the Spring Blonde, a Belgian style pale ale. It was very light and crisp. I also really liked the Affligem Tripel – fizzy and with just a little bit of stank. The Chimay Grande Reserve was good but very belgian-y and the La Fin Du Monde was similar. My least favorite was the Pranqster; it was very carbonated and sweeter than the others.

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Now the beer tasting was good but the food was awesome, even if it did cause a few problems. I decided to start the night with some zucchini cakes made with my absolute favorite cheese:  Nicasio Valley Foggy Morning cheese. I visit the nicest woman at the Davis Farmer’s Market just about every other week to get myself a new round. All of Nicasio Valley Cheese Company’s cheeses are amazing but the Foggy Morning is my favorite and I love the Basil and Garlic for special occasions.

Nicasio Valley Foggy Morning

The zucchini cakes just didn’t work out…but I improvised zucchini cake-parmesan cheese-tomato tarts. A lot of them.

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But pretty delicious. Especially paired with 21st Amendment Sneak Attack – a saison style beer.

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For the main course we had Pizza Style Stuffed Peppers, paired with Mission Amber Ale.

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And finally for dessert we had Beer Brownies, paired with Boulder Beer Company Shake Chocolate Porter. Another great and delicious beer dinner!

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Belated Christmas Joy – December Beer Dinner

30 Jan

I know it’s almost Valentine’s day but I love Christmas. So even though two months have gone by since the December beer dinner I’m pretty OK with  re-visiting it.

Christmas is probably my favorite holiday. I love the traditions of the season, the decorations, the chance to get together with friends you only see once in awhile. Constantly through the season I try to pause and appreciate the joy, something I need to remember more throughout the year. Just yesterday I was rushing through my day thinking about how stressed I was but when I actually took a minute to reflect, I realized a hectic day didn’t equal a bad day. I mean, a kid brought me glue sticks as a present. That’s a good day. So take a moment with me to remember the holiday, have a little beer, and enjoy.

Decorating the house is always a favorite. I kind of have decorations for every holiday…

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This was the anniversary beer dinner so we did a gift exchange and I bought crackers with ridiculous toys and paper crowns inside.

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The theme was “Favorite Beers” so everyone brought a beer they liked best. I paired the first course of dinner, roasted carrots and parsnips, with Red Seal Ale, and the second course, veggie pot pies, with Primator Lager.

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The best course of the night had to be dessert. Chocolate Whoppie pies! They were a bit of  a bitch to make…

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…but were definitely a hit and tasted delicious paired with Bison’s Organic Chocolate Stout!

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So much belated joy and thanks to everyone who attended December’s beer dinner and made my first year of cooking, beer, and baking such fun!

Validation Beer Brownies

29 Jan

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about big life events. Those milestones we judge our life by and use to compare ourselves to others. Maybe it’s because I just turned 30. Maybe it’s because in the last 5 months I know of 11 babies that have come into the world (that’s 10 pregnant friends, twins for one), with one more expected yesterday. We have baby showers and bachelorette parties, bridal showers and weddings to acknowledge these huge events and validate our life decisions. And these haven’t happened for me yet. I’m pretty much 100% OK with that – I’m not ready to be married, I don’t want the responsibility of a child – but sometimes I need a little validation, too. Where’s the party for going on another awkward first date? The party hat for being the only single person during dinner at the wedding reception? Hanging up your own curtain rods. Again. So that’s where brownies come in. (And beer, let’s admit.) Amazing, chocolaty, gooey brownies to celebrate a Tuesday night.

Even better than being validation brownies, these have beer in them! Chocolate and porter – the best of my two favorite food groups!

Chocolate and beer

You start by getting all the various ingredients prepped – mixing the flour and cocoa together, beating together the sugar and eggs.

Prep

Melting the chocolate, testing the beer (it was good to go).

You also brown the butter a bit before adding it to the chocolate along with the beer and some vanilla. I almost stopped right there…

Chocolate mix

Mix all the ingredients together and add chocolate chips…

Batter

…then pour into a prepared pan. Parchment paper is the best.

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I cooked mine for about 40 minutes but ended up putting them back in for another 5 after I started cutting into them – just a little too underdone in the middle. The top end up being wonderfully cracked.

Baked brownies

Such a delicious pairing – although the brownies would have been wonderful with milk, too!

Brownies and beer

Total credit for the recipe goes to Claire at the Kitchy Kitchen for this Beer Brownies with Milk recipe.

Everything you’ll need:

  • 3-1/2 oz semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup butter, browned
  • 4 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup porter or stout
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

As I type this, I realize I didn’t follow the directions on The Kitchy Kitchen exactly. Below is what I did…

  1. Preheat the over to 350 degrees and prepare pan (butter and flour or line with parchment paper).
  2. Carefully melt the chocolate either in a bowl over boiling water or in the microwave. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the flour (1 cup) with the cocoa powder (1/4 cup) and set aside.
  4. Cream together the eggs (4) with the sugars (1 cup white, 1 cup brown), about 2 minutes.
  5. Separately, brown the butter (1/2 cup) in a saucepan.
  6. Combine the melted chocolate, browned butter, vanilla (2 t), and beer (1/2 cup).
  7. Add part of the flour mixture to the egg/sugar mixture, beat. Then, add the wet ingredients and mix. Finally, add the rest of the flour mixture.
  8. Fold in the chocolate chips (1 cup).
  9. Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake 45 minutes.

September Beer Dinner

15 Nov

September Beer Dinner was fabulous. I’m just saying.

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It was my first dinner in my new place and I was nervous because it’s a little squashy. Usually there’s just enough room at dinner for me, my sister and brother-in-law, and their oversized dog. Although, the dog takes up the equivalent of three people…so having eight people over for three-courses was a bit nerve racking.

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Since it was the tail end of summer I decided we’d taste Fruit Beers. Which is kind of funny because I don’t totally love fruit beers. My favorite of the tasting was the Lost Coast Raspberry Brown.

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There were a few off-theme beers there, too, which I loved even more. The Blue Moon Pine in the Neck was awesomely hoppy and the Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale – wow.  I’ve had beers aged in bourbon barrels and they’re always just a little too syrupy for me but this one was amazing!

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I packed the fridge in preparation of great food, too!

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We started with Caprese Polenta Stacks paired with Paulaner Hefe-Weizen.

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The second course was a lemon and veggie pasta bake. I think I tried this at least four times before deciding on the final recipe but it was worth the recon. This I paired with the Exquisite Kolsch by Ruhstaller.

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Finally, we finished with a white chocolate raspberry cheesecake and Lindemans Framboise.

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Such a great first meal in the new place!

Davis Beer Week

27 Aug

I had an absolute blast at the Capital Beer Fest during Sacramento’s Beer Week but I have to say, Davis has it all over Sacramento. Particularly because I could bike or walk to basically all of the events! This was the inaugural Davis Beer Week and I very much enjoyed myself. The weather was great for sitting on patios drinking beer and the timing was perfect – the last week of summer vacation. I also had a chance to check out some new beers and breweries.

Sudwerk is Davis’ local brewery and was a co-sponsor of the event. Now my previous experience with their beers were at their dollar pint nights as an undergraduate (and the focus wasn’t so much on the taste or quality of the beer…) so I was eager to check out their new look and new beers. My first beer week stop was the Burgers and Brew patio to try Sudwerk’s Dry Hop Lager. I was hoping to love but it was only OK…it was almost a little soapy. But I do love the new look and was happy to keep the glass!

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At the University of Beer I tried a flight from Dust Bowl Brewing and really liked two of the four beers I tried. The Galaxy Pale Ale was excellent and I surprisingly liked their Double IPA – Son of Wrath, over the IPA – Hops of Wrath. Still not a fan of Barleywines.

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Mid-week I got to catch a pint of Great White from Lost Coast (and another glass!) with a co-worker. Delicious!

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Then we headed over to the University of Beer for another flight tasting – this time Dogfish Head. The flight was a little bigger than we anticipated but we just went ahead and split it. My two take away favorites were Namaste and Sixty-One. Apparently Sixty-One is a take on their 60 Minute IPA (which I haven’t tried). I thought it was tasty!

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I also got to try a small flight of Bison Brewing Co. beers at Monticello. Monticello is a seasonal restaurant in Davis that I’ve always wanted to go to but never had and I happened to stumble in on open mic night!

IMG_0359Loved the Honey Saison but was not a fan of the special mash up of the Chocolate Stout (which I do like) and Logsdon’s Seizoen Bretta — much too sour for me.

IMG_0358The week culminated, of course, with the Davis Beer Fest in Central Park. It was a great, great Saturday afternoon.

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June Beer Dinner

30 Jun

IMG_8348It’s been a month. Hell, it’s been more than a month since I last posted. Life just seemed to slip away from me in the last 40 days. The end of the school year came, then it was beer dinner time, hosting a baby shower for twins, and getting ready and starting my summer jobs. For awhile there I was only capable of thinking about three days ahead. Not good when you’re suppose to be planning things that need more than three days to prep. Now, though, I’ve finally managed to catch my breath.

At the beginning of the month I hosted my fourth beer dinner – Summer Seasonals! There was quite a variety of beers and lots of new guests. Both my cousins and their spouses came for the first time, plus a new co-worker. It’s always fun to have new people.

Seeing as it was the beginning of summer I went with a beach theme! Super cute but now I’m not sure what to do with beach balls and sand toys…

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For dinner we started with veggie kabobs and rice…

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Then black bean sliders and chips. (Recipes to come!)

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Dessert was stout floats! I had to test out many different stout and ice cream combinations but I finally decided on Lagunitas Imperial Stout with coffee ice cream.

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I paired the kabobs with a local amber by Track 7 Brewing Co. I haven’t made it out to the tap room yet, but hopefully by the end of the summer. The Daylight Amber is probably my new favorite amber. It rich without being too hoppy. Same for the Goose Island IPA I paired with the Black Bean Sliders. I first tried this beer at the Sac Beer Fest and really liked it. I think I’ve grown into hoppier IPAs since, but even my sister liked this one.

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The beers we tried this time:

  • Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest – Too hoppy for me (I guess I haven’t grown that much)
  • Samuel Adams Summer Ale – Pretty good but wasn’t anything remarkable
  • Leinekugals Summer Shady – Totally different beer; reminded me of the malt beverages I choose when I first started drinking…
  • Big Sky Brewing Summer Honey – Probably my favorite; sweet without being too much
  • Blue Moon Agave Nectar – Was good, but a little too sweet for me
  • Anchor Summer Beer – I don’t remember…

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The next beer dinner is schedule for the beginning of August but I’ll also be moving then so we’ll see. I guess that just means more time for me to test-taste some beers!