Widdershins Oak Aged Barleywine Ale

I would love to get my hands on a bottle and save to compare to our first homebrew barleywine. Is it just me or does the label just reach out and say “you must drink me”

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Widdershins (which means counterclockwise or in a left-handed direction) Oak Aged Barleywine Ale from Left Hand Brewing Company (now I get it!), Longmont, CO., has a great label, and that’s what attracted me.  The description on the label was enticing, highlighting such qualities in the beer as floral, fruity, orange, apricot and peated malt.  10.7% ABV sealed the deal.  Widdershins pours honey-colored with a fleeting head

Image courtesy of Left Hand Brewing Company Image courtesy of Left Hand Brewing Company

and just a bit of lacing.  The bouquet is definitely malt forward, but the hops balances well, with neither being extreme.  The mouthfeel is a bit thinner than I would expect, but it’s certainly not detrimental.  The taste profile however is not all that it advertised.  In fact, I found it kind of unflavorful.  Yes, there was a sweetness, yes there was a dryness, but there was not an interesting array of tastes and flavors, contrary to…

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Sweet Brew Creations™ Test Batch of Cookies is a HUGE Hit!

It seems I am getting better at tweaking recipes I find on the Internet for spent grain goodies.  I have used this recipe before found on blog cheflisa, who tweaked the recipe from JoyOfBaking.  I decided to make Spent Grain Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, but also added protein powder, chia seeds and coconut and they were divine.

sweet-brew-creations-spent-grain-cookies-peanut-butter-oatmeal-chocolate-chip-coconutI doubled the recipe so here goes:

1 1/2 cups butter, softened room temp

2 cups brown sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup spent grain flour (I had dried it in oven and used Vitamix to turn into flour

1 cup oat flour (I didn’t have all-purpose)

2 cups wet spent grain, but make sure not dripping wet.  I pulsed them in Vitamix to break down the texture a little

1 1/2 cups oatmeal

1/4 cup protein powder, I used whey protein powder 365 Brand vanilla from Whole Foods

1/2 cup natural organic peanut butter, you can use whatever you have

1 cup chocolate chips

3/4 cup coconut

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, cream butter, sugar until creamy then add egg and vanilla and beat to combine.  Mix together spent grain flour, wet grains, oat flour, oatmeal, salt, cinnamon, combine with wet ingredients and lastly add chocolate chips and coconut.  If mixture seems to wet, slowly add more flour.  I baked for 13 minutes and they were perfect!!

Lastly, share with friends who love craftbeer and/or cookies and they will be your friend for life.  I had requests for my recipe and I’m happy to share!  Cheers:)

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What a great night at Northern Lights Rare Beer Fest in St. Paul, MN

If you thought $100 was too much for a beer festival, a RARE beer festival, you were mistaken.  The Northern Lights Rare Beer Fest was worth every penny.  Held on Saturday, March 29, 2014, at the Minnesota History Center.  Mind you this is HoppyGirlBrews view and personal opinion, but I didn’t see anyone complaining all night.  The food offered from Bon Appetit both to the brewery reps/volunteers and to the patrons was incredible.  The only beef, pun intended, was from vegetarians that they didn’t have an offering of more consistency for them.   I was a clean plate clubber….Northern-Lights-Rare-Beer-Fest-Steak-Dinner-Grand-Cru

The dessert was just as good and yes we had plenty…

Bon-AppetitIt was a long night so we also tried the peanut butter, chocolate and I think it had coconut and the berry cobbler bar too!!!  shhhh….don’t tell anyone.

 

 

Let’s get to the good stuff!  Pictures are worth a thousand words so enjoy them.  I will say the craftbeer from Central Waters Brewing Co that we poured was over the top incredible.  Kosmyk Charlie’s Y2K Catastrophe Ale Barleywine and their anniversary Imperial Stout “16” was downright top notch.  With flavors of vanilla, bourbon-soaked marshmallow, dark chocolate and subtle espresso intermingle with the molasses and caramel notes from the whiskey offer a decadent finish (simply offering the description from our booklet).

North Coast Brewing Company out of Fort Bragg, CA, was pouring their Old Rasputin Barrel Aged since 2011 and Grand Cru….let’s just say this Belgian Strong Ale was smooth and delicious on the front end with a punch on the back at 12.5% ABV.  They both were phenomenal so we didn’t have to travel far away from our table to enjoy great rare beer.

Brenda-March-2014Northern-Lights-Rare-Beer-Fest-EntranceFulton-Beer-North-Coast-Brewing-Lakefront-BrewingLagunitas-Oskar-Blues-Anchor-Brewing-TallgrassRush-River-Squatters-Ommegang-DeschutesSierra-Nevada-Northern-Lights-Glassware-Lift-Bridge-Brau-BrothersSadly, I didn’t get to every booth, but I can tell you that there were so many wonderful beers to choose from….including Surly Brewing’s Darkness 2010 and 2011, which we did get a tasting.

 

Brenda-Lizzy-Rare-Beer-Fest-2014Brenda and Lizzy are having some fun setting up the booth!

Oskar-Blues-Icy-Wheat-IPAOskar Blues has never let me down.  Their new Icy Wheat IPA is hopped up wheat and tastes so good!

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Thanks Again Meagan for allowing us to represent two awesome breweries!  Cheers

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Spent Grains for Breakfast

I will be trying this recipe and tweaking with bacon and cheddar cheese to boot!

The Candle Wine Project

I’m into a bit of recycling, especially if it doesn’t cost me anything, such as making a grape trellis out of an old swing set. Well, recently I’ve begun eating spent grain for breakfast.

What is spent grain? In order to make beer, grain is soaked to remove the sugars/carbohydrates, and then the water is removed leaving behind “spent grain.” This is now a by-product of making beer, which most home brewers either toss it or compost it. Commercial breweries usually ship it to some farmer to feed livestock because there are still some nutrients in it, especially protein and fiber, which is very good for cattle.

I decided, rather than spending money to make beer and then spend money on buying cereal, that I would try eating spent grain like hot cereal. It is actually pretty tasty and a little sweet, but very chewy. I like…

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Sweet Brew Creations™ Creates Spent Grain Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with a Twist

I had some time on my hands and wanted to treat my friends at Lucid Brewing with some treats so I dug out the supplies and went to work.  Sweet Brew Creations™ never knows how things will taste or turnout when I tweaked a recipe, but I can honestly say I ate a #bakersdozen while making these and enjoyed some of the dough too!  Recipe will follow

Sweet-Brew-Creations-Oatmeal-Chocolate-Chip-Spent-Grain-Cookies-IngredientsIt’s all in the fun to experiment!  Delete this and add that….

Results-Sweet-Brew-Creations-Spent-Grain-Oatmeal-Chocolate-Chip-CookiesEven after baking the first batch, they spread thin, but were delicious.  I added more oatmeal and a bit of spent grain flour and a pinch more baking soda, but I believe it was the oatmeal and flour that made it better as it was too wet and the butter was making it spread thin, but again they tasted awesome!

Sweet-Brew-Creations-Oatmeal-Chocolate-Chip-Spent-Grain-Cookies-Orgasmic-Pumpkin-Pale-AleBest way to eat #spentgrain #cookie is with some #homebrew.  I finally filled the CO2 tank and now I can enjoy “aged” O.P.A. Orgasmic (organic) Pumpkin Pale Ale even in March.  Cheers!

Recipe was  found via blog cheflisa and she tweeked it from JoyofBaking.com.  I tweaked it more and used organic ingredients for the majority.

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup brown sugar

1 large egg

1tsp vanilla extract

1 cup spent grain flour (took dried spent grains and used Vitamix to grind to flour)

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup ground flaxseeds

1/3 cup protein powder (I used whey protein)

2 cups old fashioned oats

1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat over to 350 degrees F, cream butter, sugar until creamy and smooth, add egg and vanilla and beat to combine.

Mix together spent grain flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, add to egg/sugar mixture and combine.  Stir in oatmeal and chocolate chip…can add nuts, cranberries, raisins too

I used a Pampered Chef seasoned stone to bake for 10-12 minutes, cool on stone for 5 minutes before transferring to a baking rack.

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Yard House Restaurant Made Its Debut in Grand Style in St. Louis Park, MN

If you have never been to a Yard House restaurant around the country then you are missing out on an awesome lineup of craftbeer, delicious food and simply a great atmosphere to meet your friends, family or fellow co-workers for lunch, happy hour, dinner or late night munchies.  Sporting over 140 draught lines with over 130 choices of beer, some domestic, but mainly craftbeer, imports, Belgians and of course in Minneapolis many local craft breweries are represented including Fulton Beer, Surly Brewing, Summit Brewing, Lucid Brewing, Bad Weather Brewing, Indeed Brewing Co. and many more.  My next visit will have to be a flight of beers so I can enjoy and report on so many others available.

Yard House-MN-HoppyGirlBrews-ResearchYard House-bar-draught-beer-HoppyGirlBrewThe front entrance faces the road and there is parking underground and on the street in the back.  The Shops at West End are very nice so take a stroll around the neighborhood when the weather warms up some more!

 

 

 

 

The bar area is massive, but if you prefer a cocktail table, short table or booth there is plenty of seating and large groups can be accommodated, but I would make reservations for a large group.

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We enjoyed complimentary appetizer samplings and dessert alongside our two complimentary beverages.  Thanks again Yard House for inviting Hoppy Girl Brews and for allowing me to bring along a few friends!

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Yard House-Ray-serves-first-beer-to-HoppyGirlBrewsThanks Ray for the smiles and great service!

 

 

JR-HoppyGirlBrews-enjoy-half-yard-Lucid-Brewing-Foto-IPAFeeling thirsty?  Try a half yard of your favorite brew, but remember to drink responsibly and enjoy some food and water to balance you out!! Cheers!  We enjoyed our Lucid Brewing Foto IPA

Yard House-samples-creme-brulee-dessert-Southern Tier-Creme-Brulee-craftbeerThe best treat was Yard House creme brulee dessert or at least that is what I thought I was enjoying!

 

Brian-Fulton-Beer and Joe-Bad Weather BrewingIt was great to meet Brian from Fulton Beer and Joe from Bad Weather Brewing!  Cheers to the great fun we had and to much more to come!!!  Follow them all on Facebook and Twitter!

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The Zen of Chocolate

I love chocolate and great dark chocolate can bring me into my zone!

The Mommy Illuminati

Bon bon on left: Caramelized champagne mango with Scorpion chilis blended with Danta’s magnificent La Soledad criollo 40% milk chocolate from Guatemala, finished in Tango 67% Dark chocolate. On right: Almond gianduja of Red Rack Ale and fresh blood orange juice in Axiom 60% dark chocolate. Bon bon on left: Caramelized champagne mango with Scorpion chilis blended with Danta’s magnificent La Soledad criollo 40% milk chocolate from Guatemala, finished in Tango 67% Dark chocolate. On right: Almond gianduja of Red Rack Ale and fresh blood orange juice in Axiom 60% dark chocolate.

Years ago, my husband brought me samples of chocolates whenever he returned home from work abroad in France and Switzerland. He is the reason I became too spoiled to ever go back to Hershey chocolate again. The creamy texture, the delicate flavors, the “mouth feel” and the happy feelings these special treats provided could never be matched by anything available in this domestic mass market.

Fast forward to last summer: when visiting my aunt in France, she brought us to her favorite chocolate cafe along a cobblestone walk in Bayonne. It boasted a cozy, comfortable place to sit and relax while tantalizing confections were…

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