Lawson’s at Barleycorn’s

Barleycorn’s in Natick never ceases to amaze me. Tim and I attended their brewing event featuring Sean Lawson from Lawson’s Finest in Warren, VT. In addition to making 6 different recipes that Sean created (Tim and I worked on the Marzen Lager; there was also: Saison with Juniper-Cedar, Maple Barleywine aged on Maple Wood, Kiwi Double IPA, and Toast Black IPA ), we got to try a HUGE variety of beers that Sean brought from Lawson’s, and Jack brought from Jack’s Abby, and other brought from their collection. Proof that Barleycorn’s people know their stuff…. two beers ranked #1, and all beers ranked under 2.75! That’s some GOOD beer!

Quote of the day: As I explained my dream of Agape Brewing Community and my love for beer, a guy said, “Do not lose that passion!”

First some pictures, then my rankings.

Tim struggling to pour in all the yummy extract:

Look at all those beers we got to taste!

Will from Barleycorn’s pouring beer from Sean Lawson!

Jamie, Will, Jamie. A Jamie sandwich.  :)

The beers:

Smoke and Dagger Barrel Aged - Jack’s Abby so amazingly delicious, great bourbon/coconut flavor. Yum!

Maple Tripple - Lawson’s Finest one of a kind, OMG amazing, sweet, delicious, $30 bottle, SO good, like an orgasm

Blond  - Cape Cod Beer wheaty, drinkable, delicious, flavorful and light 1.25 

Harvest German Ale - Cape Cod Beer good octoberfest-esque, drinkable 1.5

Heady Topper - Alchemist  an absolutely delicious IPA, great balance of malt and hops 1.5 

Seared Palate - Lawson’s Finest aged in oak barrels and bottle conditioned and aged. So good, delicious bourbon/coconut flavors 1.5 

Triple Play - Lawson’s Finest wow, delicious, bitter but a good bitter 1.75 

Baby Maker - Jack’s Abby 14%, barrel aged for 9 months (ha!), strong, little coconut flavor, good flavors 1.75 

Seizoen - Logsdon Farmhouse Ales wheaty, like a hefe/tripel, maybe a bit too sour 1.75 

Double Dose IPA - Lawson’s Finest and Otter Creek Collaboration very nice, hoppy, drinkable

Lashes Lager - Jack’s Abby perfumy, floral, hop pellet aftertaste, but smooth and light going in 2.25 

Kiwi Rising - Jack’s Abby very tropical, fruit flavor, easy to drink 2.25 

RU55 Jester King Barrel aged sour red, cherry aftertaste, actually drinkable, would be great with desserts 2.25 

Hopzilla - Lawson’s Finest very hoppy, wicked hoppy, whoa, too much piney flavor (Simcoe), not too much cat pee flavor, mouth feels like hops afterwards 2.5 

Porter - Cape Cod Beer plain, meh, little coffee flavor, definitely drinkable though 2.5

IPA - Cape Cod Beer meh, a typical IPA 2.75

More pics:

<3 Jamie

Savour’s Fall Tasting

Hey everyone! I am making my debut as an official beer taster at Savour Wine and Cheese In Gloucester! Sunday, November 17, 1-4pm, come to Savour at 76 Prospect St for a complimentary tasting of over 80 wines and craft beers and appetizers from Chef Matt Beach. A rep from Berkshire Brewing Company will be there with some great Berkshire brews, and I’ll be there with a table full of other delicious craft beers for you to try! Come support me and Savour, one of my new favorite stores! 

If you haven’t beer to Savour, here’s what you’ve been missing:

First of all, they have these AMAZING machines that make wine tasting easy and fun!

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You get a card with 10 free tastes— insert the card into the machines, press a button, and voilà, a small sample of wine for you to taste.

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Tim and I have visited twice and we’ve had such a a marvelous time that I’m pretty sure we’ll be back weekly. 

In addition to the 20 bottles of wine you can taste, the store has a table set up with tastings of other special goodies- cheese, bread, vinegar, coffee, chocolate, etc. 

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And for sale, they offer tons of wines, craft beers, specialty food products and all sorts of other gadgets and gizmos for wine/beer/food aficionados. 

The owners, Kathleen and Bob, are fabulous and friendly people. They are the perfect balance between helping you out and leaving you alone to enjoy what the store has to offer. 

Here are the most recent wines we tried at Savour:

(scale of 1 to 5, 1 is the best) (note: I am aware that I need to work on my wine tasting descriptions, but I think what I need to say has been said!)

2011 Chenin Blanc Goulaire Vouvray:  smooth, grapey, sweet, delicious 1

2011 Sauvignon Blanc Nals Margreid : very sour apple and not in a good way

2011 Vermentino Aragosta like a pinot grigio, but a bitter bite

2012 Verdicchio Antonucci Pignocco: light, plain aftertaste

2012 Vermentino Edmunds St John: meh

2012 Grenache Blend Edmunds St John: good, almost fruity

2012 Malbec Postales: oak aged, not amazing 2.5 

2012 Verdejo Protos:  light-ish, meh

2011 Pinot Noir Pietra Santa: whoa no 4.5

Hope to see you on Sunday!!

<3 Jamie

Vermont Beer Festival 2013

So I went to the Vermont Beer Festival on Saturday Night, July 20th. This was my 4th appearance at the Vermont Beer Festival (2009, 2011, 2012, 2013) and I plan to go back every year.

And let me explain why this blog post is appearing in October when the festival was in July. See, what happened was I got married between then and now, and misplaced (gasp!) my tasting notes amidst all the wedding chaos. But today I found them (yay!) so I could finally complete this post. My apologies for the delay!

So anyways, I went to the Fest with Melissa again, my best beer bud. We got LOTS of compliments about our pretzel necklaces. 

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We tried 37 beers. Here’s Melissa drinking one: 

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I love Vermont breweries, especially creative ones. Read this beer description (my fave description at the fest):

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In addition to Vermont breweries, there were many other craft breweries present, like Lagunitas:

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And New Hampshire’s Flying Goose, NH’s first solar powered brewery:

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One of my favorite things about the Vermont Fest is that it is outdoors. The weather is always gorgeous, and I love being outside, in the fresh air, by the lake, at sunset. And I dont get hot and sweaty inside some small building stuffed with smelly drunk dudes.

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So here are my tasting notes (from best to worst at the fest):

Hodad Vanilla Chocolate Coconut Porter Fiddlehead Brewing 5.5%, 30IBU, made with real vanilla beans, cacao nibs and toasted coconut in a wood fired oven, awesome flavor, tastes like a chocolate macaroon! 1.5 

Crop Weizen Crop Bistro and Brewery 5.2%, YUMMY, solid hefe 1.75 

Heart of Lothian Drop-in brewing 5.6%, golden promise/chocolate/crystal malt, fuggle and east kent golding, light bodied, roasted, malty, smooth 1.75 

Lemon Pepper Kolsch Long Trail Brewery brewed with lemon rind, and ground peppercorns, mild, refreshing, only a tad lemon/pepper flavor, not overpowering, 5.25%, 25IBU 1.75 

Malocchio Silician Pale Ale Northshire made with ancient Emmar grains and sicilian blood oranges, great flavor, 7%, 80IBU 1.75 

Lucky Me Covered Bridge Craft Brewery 6%, 30IBU, light, delicious, so drinkable

Golden Grillz Fiddlehead Brewing gold color, 5.2%, 25IBU, plain but drinkable

Ginger Wheat Foley Brothers 5.9%, 20IBU, great ginger flavor 2 Skinny Bitch Kingdom Brewing blueberry beer, not bad

Biere De Miele Wormtown tad sweet, light, good, made with Honey from Sutton MA, 7.5%, 15IBU

Helles Brook Lager Crop Bistro and Brewery 5%, lemony, not pine sol, light, lots of flavor for a lager, good for a hot day 2.25

IPA Foley Brothers 7%, 60IBU, sweet flavor, an IPA I actually like! Made with vermont grown centennial hops, dry hopped with citra 2.25 

Meat Whistle Magic Hat aged in Heaven Hill bourbon barrels for over a year. Too bourbony, good coconut flavor 2.25 

Red Dwarf Drop-in brewing 5.2%, domestic and english crystal malt, columbus/willamette/mt hood/cascade, mildly bitter 2.5 

Grassroots Brewing The Bliss of Absence Hill Farmstead collaboration with Kissmeyer Brewing, brewed with chamomile, lemongrass and citrus, not perfumy and not cat pee, mildly balanced 2.75

Honey Wheat IPA Magic Hat brewed with honey, 6.6%, 75IBU, basic flavor, okay 2.75 

Journey’s End Rock Art 5%, too bitter 2.75 Trosten Bier Trapp Family Lodge 6.2%, very smoky, too much coffee bitterness 2.75 

Watermelon Wheat Vermont Pub and Brewery 5.5% 12IBU, made with 720 pounds of watermlon, not enouch carbonation, but good flavor, if less flat would love 2.75 

Citizen Zero Zero Gravity Brewery collaboration with Citizen Cider, blended with cider, it’s okay, but it’s like a sour apple 2.75 

Hop Head Red Green Flash good blend of red and IPA 2.75

Le Freak Green Flash a bitter belgian, little  sour, tart, bitter 2.75 

Leo’s Early Breakfast IPA Brasserie Dunham made with guava and earl grey tea, collaboration with Kissmeyer, 6.2%, 52IBU, too grapefruity and bitter 2.75 

Pitstop to Portland Brasserie Dunham light, hoppy 2.75 

La P’tite Buteuse Le Trou du diable 5%, 40IBU, tad sour, tad bitter, tad wheaty, only a mild blending 2.75 

Maple City Wheat 14th star brewing don’t be fooled by the name, it’s a tribute to the Maple City and has no maple in it, very sour like a wit, 6%, 25IBU

Dunkel Trapp Family Lodge on cask (which I do not like— too flat and warm), and too bitter 3 Great Snipe Zero Gravity Brewery incredibly sour

Stone Cali Belgie IPA Stone Brewing Company bitter, hoppy, sour belg, crazy flavor 3 S

aison Rock Art 5%, cat pee sourness 3.5 

Ol’ Puckerface Vermont Pub and Brewery collaboration with Magic Hat, sour IPA, 5.6% 85IBU, so grapey, bitter and sour puckering 3.5 

Star Trapp 14th star brewing cat pee

Gose On Currant Lost Nation syrupy, puckeringly sour

Farmhouse Ale Lagunitas 6.6%, 45IBU, too sour

Away we Gose Whetstone Station sour, a little sweet

Benedict Arnold Kingdom Brewing SO BAD, smells and tastes like its spoiled rotten, 6%, 23IBU

La Framboise Hopfenstark 5%, 13IBU, c’est terrible! Like PERFUME!

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Afterword: We called for Flatbread Pizza as soon as we left the grounds. By the time we walked up there, the pizza was ready and we walked back to our hotel to enjoy. It was delightful. What a splendid evening!

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<3 Jamie

Maine Mead Works

We were hoping to start our Saturday with a tour and tasting at Maine Mead Works at 11:30am, but we got a little delayed in the morning, had issues finding a breakfast joint, got distracted at some shops, and didn’t make it to the Meadery until noon. When we arrived, the tour had just ended and all the people on it were mid-way through their tasting.

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We asked for a tasting and the lady behind the bar said it would just be a few minutes. So we walked around the store, and peaked in to see where the magic happened.

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They have a wort chiller just like ours! And vats upon vats of honey!

Anyways, so we waited a bit more, and the lady said again it would just be a couple of minutes. What started to annoy me was that after she poured everyone the next mead in the line up, she just stood around. She could have easily fit us in and poured us a tasting. But for some reason, she could only handle one set of tastings at a time, unlike every other tasting I’ve been to where people are all over the place with their tastings and the tasting room manager has had no problem keeping up with it. 

Thankfully the tasting was free, so we did get to try 9 meads (eventually). Here they are:

Dry   tasted like pure liquid honey, strong alcohol flavor, 12.5%, 100% wildflower honey 2.5 

Blueberry good, sweet, nice blueberry flavor, 12.5%, would taste amazing with goat cheese! Made with maine blueberries

Hopped so interesting, made with cascade hops,  tastes slightly perfumy, not too hoppy (no cat pee flavor), but lots of wildflower flavor, 12.5%

Semi Sweet very smooth, sweet but not intense, nice honey flavor 12.5% 1.75 

Lavender too perfumy, not for me, not a fan of lavender, 12.5% 4

Elderberry 12.5%, much different flavor than most meads, very tart, very dry, black currant flavor, and woody flavor from being aged in french oak barrels 2.75 

Ram Island Iced Tea 7%, grandma’s iced tea recipe, with lemon, mint and honey, carbonated, EXTREMELY minty, if less minty I would love this, but slightly too minty for me 2.25

Ram Island Lavender Lemonade 7%, lavender mead with homemade lemonade, carbonated. Ugh I really don’t like lavender, it’s like perfumy fabric softener 4.5 

Reserve 12.5%, smells like candy, great for sipping, very strong flavor, aged in Jim Beam bourbon barrels that Allagash used as well 2.5 

None of the meads were spectacular, but we did buy a bottle of the semi-sweet ($14) and a glass ($4). But I doubt we will be going out of our way to drink these meads. I was also disappointed that the tasting room people were not more engaging with the customers, and did not provide much information about their meads. It was not the experience I usually have, so I was slightly disappointed. Sorry Maine Mead Works!

<3 Jamie

Gritty’s

After drinking at Maine Mead Works, Rising Tide and Bunker Beer, we desperately needed food. So what better place to visit than a brew pub, so we could have more beer, but also some food!

It was crowded, so we walked around the place while waiting for a table to open up. Downstairs we found their brick brew kettle.

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And a gorgeous mural on the wall depicting the brewing process.

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And this lovely advertisement for their Halloween beer… “Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid.”

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In addition to food (I got the buffalo chicken salad… the buffalo sauce had tons of cumin in it, tastes more like taco sauce than buffalo sauce. Tasted good but too spicy and potent to finish. He got a burger with sweet potato fries), we of course got the beer sampler.

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Here’s what we tried:

Black Fly Stout nitrous, not my fave texture, creamy, nice foamy/creamy head, like guinness, but better flavor 2.75

Pub Ale wheaty, plain, biscuity 2.25

Brown Ale very light, malty, almost amber-y, not hefty enough, not chocolate or roasted 2.25

Halloween Malty bitter, extremely light body, almost watery, light carbonation, slight cinnamon/pumpkin flavor 3.5

IPA very bitter, almost cat pee, citrusy aftertaste, medium body, good carbonate 3

Best Bitter nicely carbonated, good flavor, mild bitterness 2

Cider very tart like sour green apple or apple juice, strong alc flavor 3

Another great place in Portland. Thanks Gritty’s!

<3 Jamie

Bunker Beer Company

Right around the block from Rising Tide is Bunker Beer Company. After finding street parking, we walked up to a brick building swarming with people. 

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Inside was the entire brewing set up, and a small area set up for tastings. Totally my kind of place, just like a place like I want to open someday soon! 

Brewing equipment: hot liquid tank, mash tun, brew kettle, wort chiller.

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Close up of the wort chiller. We need to make one like this.

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More brew equipment: fermenter, brite tank, 2 more fermenters. 

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Tasting area- taps on the industrial fridge. 

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5 gallons kegs!

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And outside, live music! They also have a deck in the back for bands, and a food truck showed up too! What a great place to hang out and drink a beer!image

Beers we tried:

Machine   A czech pilsner, malty delicious drinkable little bitter aftertaste 1.75 

Bunk-toberfest A very nice Octoberfest, malty, bitterness, biscuity 1.75

MCIPA A tribute to MCA from Beastie Boys, IPA with simcoe and bravo, whoa hoppy- cat pee!

This place was so eccentric and different than any other brewery I’ve been to. Good beer, good people, good music, good fun! It was a lovely community gathering!

<3 Jamie

Rising Tide

We had a fabulous time at Rising Tide!

It’s located in an industrial building next to a whiskey distillery and a fresh milk store (yay locally produced goods!). Easy, free parking. Food truck in the parking lot. The tasting room is open and spacious, standing room only, and you can see directly into parts of the brewery where the magic happens.

imageBefore heading to the beer, we stopped at a little table set up with chocolate truffles from “La Creme Chocolat”. Laura, the owner and chocolatier, came up with a truffle tasting to pair with the four beers on tap, including one truffle made with the beer. We of course bought the truffle sampler ($10) to eat with the beers.

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Then we headed to the bar. $4 for four 4-oz samples of beer. Both bartenders were friendly and knowledgable, especially the woman (cute, tall thin blonde, sorry I dont remember her name!). They described the beers to us as they poured them and answered our questions. And when they didn’t know the answer, they directed us to Nathan Sanborn, the brewer, who happened to be there (which I much appreciated!)

So here are the beers we tried, the truffles that were paired with them, and the info we learned about them.

Figue Saison -saison aged in red wine barrels, brewed with fresh figs. The fig flavor definitely cut the lemony saison flavor- producing the best saison I’ve ever had. Very nice, delicious flavor, slightly citrus, slightly sweet, slightly tangy. Paired with “Turks and Cocos” Truffle, a lovely pairing, the truffle was made with the beer! 1.5 for the beer, 1.5 for the truffle

Ishmael An Copper American Copper Ale, 4%, very wheaty, drinkable, light and good, little bitter , paired with Amaretto Truffle- Delicious truffle, amaretto deliciousness, and it pairs perfectly!! 2 for the beer, 1 for the truffle

Daymark A Pale Ale, very drinkable, grapefruity/orangy, good smooth clean, rye spiciness, columbus hops, paired with Grand Marnier Truffle, great pairing with citrus! 2 for the beer, 1.5 for the truffle

Zephyr An IPA, incredibly balanced malt and hops, great malty backbone, fruity aftertaste, cascade, calypso and centennial hops (Calypso- new hop from New Zealand with apple flavors), (spoke to brewer about the maltiness because I loved it so much… he said the malt they used was grown locally and produces a great malty flavor, also the hops were all late additions to the boil which made it less hoppy). paired with Espresso Truffle- amazing bitterness pairing- brought out bitterness of espresso and IPA) 1.75 for the beer, 1 for the truffle

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Thanks Rising Tide for a wonderful Saturday afternoon of taste explosions! :)

Birthday Beer Weekend

So I’m turning 30 at the end of the month and to celebrate, Tim and I went to Portland to drink beer. Lots and lots of beer. And even a little mead. It was a great weekend. Subsequent posts will focus on each place we visited in detail, but here’s the complete list of our tour:

Friday Night:

The Great Lost Bear

Saturday:

Maine Mead Works

Rising Tide Brewing Company

Bunker Beer Company

Gritty McDuff’s Brew Pub

Allagash Brewing Company

Novare Res

Sunday:

Sebago Brewing Company

Downeast Beverage Company

Shipyard Brewing Company

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In total, we tried 9 meads and 50 beers. Whew, what a weekend! What a great way to celebrate the fact that I still have (hopefully) many many more beer drinking years left in me. Cheers!

<3 Jamie 

Earth Eagle Brewery

Tim and I buy some of our beer ingredients for homebrew at this place in Portsmouth, NH called A&G Homebrew Supply. The first time we went there, we noticed there was a little brewery next door called Earth Eagle Brewery. They weren’t open then, but when we went back a few weeks ago, we got to visit. It is exactly the kind of place I dream of opening. They have a small room in back where they brew (and they use the same 5 gallon kegs we do!), and a cute bar area for tastings. A sampler of 6 beers was $7 and we bought a growler too (and they take credit cards!). The guy working the bar volunteers (he’s actually a special ed teacher!) — what a great business model! He and the other customers were all beer geeks like we are, so we had a great time talking about beer while drinking beer. Definitely a great place.

Now about the beer…. They use VERY unique ingredients and recipes. They definitely think outside the box. Which of course can result in amazing or disgusting beers (They had some of each). But props to them for their wide variety. They apparently switch up what they have available very often, so I’ll definitely be back!

Here are my tasting notes:

Phoenix Revolution Brown Ale chocolate malt deliciousness, 5.8%, bought a growler 1.75 

'murican revolution ESB made with earl grey tea, lightly carbonated, little citrusy, 5.6% 2.25 

Josselyn’s 1666 Ale made with wormwood, sassafras, molasses, almost tastes like an alcoholic non-sugary version of birch beer, 6.2% 2.75

Fresh Cut Pale Ale piney, tastes like grass, so aptly named, 4.6% 2.75 

Machine Gun Black IPA bitter, citrusy, malty, 7.6% 2.75 

Frankenberrystein AHHHH sour, So sour it make me hurt, made with horehound, raspberry, blackberry, strawberry, blueberry, gets less sour the more you drink it 3.5 

Brouwerij Lane

(….Still updating from February beer-cation)

Happened upon this place while waiting for my brother to arrive to dinner down the street. Chose this place because of the sign outside that mentioned Dry Hopped On Cask Beer!!

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Walking in that door was the best decision we ever made…. for several reasons (look for the bold!):

First of all, they have an AMAZING beer selectionHuge selection on tap, great variety, different sizes to taste- half pint or pint— $3 for half pint!! AND a huge bottle selection- that you can drink there OR bring home (thanks to NY state laws! Damn Puritan Massachusetts)

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It’s a small place with just a few seats….

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….but we managed to find a table next to the…..woodstove!!

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They have Star Wars Memorabilia in the bathroom…..

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The atmosphere was fun, quirky, comfy— definitely the kind of place we would hang out at regularly!

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They host very cool events here like beer and cheese tastings/pairings (wish I lived nearby!) And just look at this cash register….

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Ok and the VERY best part… my stupid iPhone died which was quite unfortunate because I needed it to get in touch with my brother…. so I decided, what the hell, let me ask and see if they happen to have an iphone charger. They did, AND they let me charge my phone!! What amazing customer service!!!

Well, maybe the VERY VERY best part was the beer :) Here’s what we tried:

Bock    Anchor            caramel-y, dark but light bodied, delicious, brown, malty, very smooth and drinkable, even a teeny bit coconut/bourbon      1.5

Bourbon Barrel  Stout Anderson Valley         delicious coconut bourbon flavors, smooth, little bitter         1.75

Page 24 Brune Brasserie Saint-Germain         toffee, chocolate, caramel, very drinkable      1.75

Dentergems Herfstbier            Brouwerij Het Anker Belgian Bruin, sour in a malty way, probably from belg yeast            2

Dentergems Witbier    Brouwerij Riva S.A.   lightly lemony/citrusy, little sour. What I wanted from Second Awakening      2.25

Doggie Style (dry-hopped, cask)        Flying Dog Brewery   Falconer’s Flight dry hopped on cask, probably great with spicy fod, a sweet candy hoppy flavor, very citrusy. Maybe I like this hops? No wincing, cask but carbonated well, little residue-y    2.25

<3 Jamie