Tag Archives: Beer

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.


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


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.


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.



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…

photo (14)

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

photo (8)

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.

photo (5)

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

photo (11)

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

photo (3)

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.


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…


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

Pic 5

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


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.


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.


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.


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!


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


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


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.


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


Such a great first meal in the new place!

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…


For dinner we started with veggie kabobs and rice…


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


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.


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.


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…


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!

April Beer Dinner – Ambers & Reds

17 Apr

It has been forever. Basically three weeks. Probably 20 beers. OK, more like 30. I’m sorry. In my vague defense I’ve been a bit overwhelmed with work. I started full time teaching again after having spent the last year and a half splitting my time between a part-time office job and teaching just a few mornings a week. It’s like being back in my first year of teaching – feeling like I’m going to drown but also being exhilarated to get up and go to work in the morning. I guess things balance out.

IMG_8149So it was a welcome break the first weekend in April to host my third, bi-monthly beer dinner! I was a lucky girl and three of my very good friends came to spend the weekend with me. Between putting them to work hanging decorations and their own amusements playing with my train set, we managed to fit in a quick trip to the University of Beer (thanks for the gift certificate, Mom!). I tried my first white IPA there – Chainbreaker White IPA by Deschutes. It was a lot different than other beers but I really liked it! Some hops goodness without being overwhelming, plus a little something extra.

Back home Rachel, Bonnie, and Ed helped me put the finishing touches on the table setting. Ed proved himself to be surprisingly apt at flower arrangement and I do believe things looked beautiful!



IMG_8159This month we tasted Ambers and Reds, plus some beers from Wisconsin Rachel brought. Sadly, none of them super stood out to me. I found that I favored the Reds over the Ambers, though. My two favorite was probably Knee Deep’s McCarthy’s Bane Imperial Red Ale.



There was actually sooooo much beer that three bottles didn’t even get opened….lucky me! I don’t think Ninkasi’s Spring Reign is an Amber or Red but I do know I like it! And the Rubicon Irish Red was my other favorite. (Sorry there’s no actual descriptions of these beers….I didn’t really write anything down this time and it’s been awhile….)


Dinner was delicious if I do say so myself. To start we had a Vegetarian Tortilla Soup that I paired with Sweetgrass American Pale Ale by Grand Teton Brewing Co. That was followed up with Black Bean Empanadas expertly constructed with the crew’s help. This was paired with Firestone Walker’s Union Jack India Pale Ale and an awesome corn-tomato-avocado salad a la Bonnie.


Dessert was Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes paired with a Chocolate Stout by Rouge Ales. I also got to play with my pastry bag to do the frosting on the cupcakes! It was a bit of a disaster to start but in the end the cupcakes were beautiful!

Now I’m looking forward to June’s beer dinner. We’ll be tasting Summer Seasonals – the perfect way to start summer break!

Fairfax Brewfest

17 Mar

This weekend I had the divine pleasure of visiting my friend Bonnie in Fairfax. She and her husband have created a truly bountiful homestead tucked into the Marin hills and every time I visit I’m tempted to move. The town of Fairfax sits in kind of a valley so from Bonnie’s back porch you can look across to rolling hills and on Saturday morning hear the pop of a baseball bat from the fields below while sipping your tea.

I drove straight from work Friday night to join in on a potluck featuring broccoli! We had broccoli soup, broccoli fritters, even broccoli ice cream! (I forwent the broccoli and opted to bring a growler of Berryessa Pale Ale instead.)

Saturday was the Fairfax Brewfest. Bonnie won free tickets (thank you Facebook contest!) and we showed up at the doors just before 1:00pm. There was already a nice crowd waiting to get in.


After having attended the Capital Beer Fest two weeks ago with something like 90 breweries, our expectations weren’t super high for this event being held in an old gymnasium.


But man it got crowded fast!


And there were tons of great breweries there! Bonnie and I started by talking to the incredibly nice brewers of Triple Rock Brewery and Alehouse in Berkeley. Apparently it’s American’s oldest brewpub. We both tried their Saison which was a bit different than other saison’s I’ve had – more “lemon-y” I thought.


I was also super excited to see Speakeasy there because 1) I just love the name; 2) I had one of their beers at the Beer Shoppe and loved it….but can’t remember what it was; and 3) I keep seeing their beer at the store and wanting to try it. I went with the Payback Porter which was good, but kind of “burnt” tasting at the end.


One fun addition to this brewfest was the “Taste ‘Em & Rate ‘Em” booth.


Six different beers were on display and you did a blind taste test and then voted for your two favorites. I have no idea who won, but it was fun to compare beers of the same style.


Another favorite of mine was Napa Smith. They had several beers to taste but my favorite by far was their “Cool Brew.” Bonnie and I took a vote and Napa Smith won out of all the breweries there. I think this will be the next place I go and visit!IMG_8014

The Beach Chalet was also a favorite. (Look at the cute fabric!)


I had the Oat Pale Ale and really enjoyed it; Bonnie liked her Monsoon Mild.


And of course we had to go by Fairfax’s own Iron Springs.


I may have overindulged a bit this time, but it was a most excellent brewfest and excellent weekend. Cheers!