Tag Archives: craft beer

The Best of Summer 2016 Part II…Beer

I’ve done extensive scientific research into the subject of chillaxation, which is defined as “a state of total tranquility that comprises both the restfulness of body (chilling) and peacefulness of mind (relaxation)”. As it turns out, there’s no better activity to achieve this blissful state than enjoying a cold beer on a hot day.

I’ve enlisted my childhood friend Monica to help substantiate my hypothesis. Along with holding a PhD in Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, she’s also conducted numerous field studies at the establishments that make up our region’s exploding craft beer and microbrewery scene. Monica is now going to report on her research by giving us some beverage suggestions that are guaranteed to maximize your chillaxation all summer long!

(First off, I have a short confession to the readers: I don’t like hoppy beer. My IBU scanning of selections usually have me choosing the lowest numbers by default. If you are a hop head, you’re likely not going to have fun with the following.)

In the regional area, there are approximately 70 breweries. The boyfriend and I have a list and a google map and are slowly visiting them all. Hell, we even made it to Milkman Brewing and they were open for approximately 20 minutes. There are many beers that we can consider both local and good for summer drinking. Not all of my suggestions are local, but many are. Support your local brewer.

This being said, I’m also a big qualifier of information. I have a thing for parenthetical comments. When I’m asked a question, I instantly go through the multitude of answers that could be correct, and qualify when each answer is appropriate. I thought that it would be most helpful to have a list of common summer situations in which beer is the appropriate answer and then qualify them. Here it goes:

The “I just spent a ridiculous time performing lawn maintenance in 90F weather for a lawn that I only go in to mow” beer.

The appropriate beer here is one that won’t be contaminated by the taste of the sweat running down your face or the smell of grass stuck in your nose. It won’t be super high in ABV, nor will it be super astringent. This beer will quench your thirst, but also give you a taste of something that will remind you of something other than lawn work. It’s not a savoring beer, it is a thirst quenching beer. (Yes, I do my own lawn work.)

I’m recommending a Doc G’s beer called “Orange Blossom Wheat”. It’s a 4.8% ABV with a hit of orange. It is all of the things that I think go well with a shitty lawn job. Now, you all can go over to yelp and look at the reviews of this place (it’s in DuBois), and well, they’re not good. What I can say is that I have insider information that the brewer has changed, and this will likely impact your beer enjoyment.

The “It’s Friday, my coworkers have the intelligence of horseshoe crabs, and I need to go in tomorrow anyway” beer.

Sometimes you need to sit at a patio and bitch about life while sipping a beer. This calls for a quality drink. You can have a couple of drinks, but then you realize that real life is going to set in early tomorrow, so you want to make them count. You want something that is a pleasant taste and buzz, and go well with that water you’re going to have after them.

I’m recommending the Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale by Alltech’s Lexington Brewing and Distilling. It’s 8.19% ABV is going to have you pleasantly forgetting about the idiots you work with and have you moving to a discussion about what you’re going to do on vacation. (I’m calling this local because you can get it at Giant Eagle.)

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The “I’m being forced to spend time with my family” beer.

If you are obligated to spend time with your family and need beer to get through it (and they’re of the Bud Light variety), you are going to need a beer that satisfies several criteria. One, it must be worth it to take to the location. Two, it’s going to have to be something that someone else is not going to want to steal. Three, it likely has to not be too heavy as to not compete with the potato salad. Four, it needs to be a session beer (We know what you think of your cousin’s new boyfriend, but we don’t need to do this now).

I’m recommending the Ellicottville Brewing Company’s Blueberry Wheat beer. It’s fruity, so all of the old white-beards in the family aren’t going to want any. It’s a lighter wheat beer, and it’s just a hint of blueberry, so it goes well with the standard cookout fare. Lastly, it only has a 4.8 ABV, so you can finish the 6-pack while the rest of the family is harping on you to get married.

The “F*@K this I’m out, night before vacation” beer.

Sometimes you can be one of those people that packed for vacation 2 days before you leave. Other times you need to walk out of work realizing that you have to get up at 6 AM for the flight and haven’t washed clothes for 2 weeks. When the latter happens, you can hole up at a local brewery (bonus points if there’s a food truck and the mayor is wearing shorts) and have a beer or two. Because, really, you’re going to sleep on the plane anyway.

While I said that I’m no fan of hops, for some reason the hops I do like are the Nelson hops. These New Zealand based hops aren’t nearly as piney to me, and provide a nice astringent taste and a floral aroma that’s refreshing.

For pre-gaming vacation, I suggest Brew Gentlemen’s Nelson Saison (ABV 6.0%). This beer says “I’m only packing what I need for the beach”.

The “Sitting around the bonfire watching the stars” beer.

Sometimes you need a relaxing evening with friends, sitting around a summer bonfire, picking out the constellations in the sky. It’s way after dinner at this point, you don’t have any plans in the morning, and sitting and chatting are the only thing you want to do. Not high level work discussion, not philosophical discussions about what the world looks like to you, just telling stories and shit-talking your friends.

To save the best for last, I’m imploring you to get some of Helltown’s Hefeweizen (5% ABV). It’s the sitting around beer. It’s the ‘hold my beer so I can tell this story with hand movements’ beer. It’s the beer of friendship and remembering who has the embarrassing pictures of you as a child.

Best of Summer

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everybody loves…Toronto

My wife and I recently spent a long weekend in the fourth biggest city in North America – Toronto, Canada. It was my first time visiting Drizzy Drake’s hometown and I absolutely loved it. Below is a recap of some of the many highlights of our trip.

InterContinental Toronto Centre Hotel: Nestled next to Rogers Centre in the shadow of the CN Tower, the InterContinental was the perfect home base for our stay in Toronto. It was very modern, attractive and clean (like me) with an extremely friendly and helpful staff (again, just like me).

The CN Tower: Getting to the top of the CN Tower was the first activity we undertook after checking into our hotel. It was an absolutely gorgeous day so the 360 degree view of the lake and the city was quite breathtaking. The sky terrace was pretty crowded but we were still able to navigate through the selfie-stick wielding crowds to get some really great pictures.

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Spice Route Asian Bistro & Bar: This popular King Street West restaurant combined a super-chic ambiance and a menu overflowing with sharable Indo-Chinese delicacies. I’m now 17% cooler just by having dined there.

Hey Lucy: Another trendy bistro on King Street, Hey Lucy backed up their fashionable façade with delicious brick oven pizzas and a gaslamp-lit rooftop patio that provided the perfect amount of romantic ambiance.

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Bar Hop: A sh*tload of beers on tap and really great French fries. Bar Hop was basically what I imagine heaven to be like.

Distillery District: Strolling around the cobblestone pathways of this Victorian-style village was such a charming experience. Along with a plethora of artisanal shops and cafes, this area was also home to the awesome Mill Street Brew Pub.

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The Second City’s How to Kill a Comedian: People constantly texting “lol” has devalued the sentiment so much that it has almost replaced “ok” as a compulsory response. Regardless, there’s really no better way for me to describe my Second City experience other than with a capital #LOL. I laughed out loud so much that I nearly p*ssed my pants. And that would’ve really sucked since I only packed one pair.

Canadian Craft Beers: Though still dominated by Labatt’s, Molson and Bud (ughh), Canada also has a burgeoning craft beer scene with many appealing options. Below are three of my new favorites along with an alliterative summation:

Bar Hop Poutentious ESB (Premium Bitter/ESB – ABV 5.0%) – bitter, biscuity and bubbly.

Mill Street Belgian Wit (Witbier – ABV 5.2%) – hazy, hoppy and hints-of-banana.

Collective Arts Rhyme and Reason (American Pale Ale – ABV 5.7%) – grainy, grassy and grapefruity.

Final Call: Toronto reminded me a lot of Chicago, except much cleaner and without the constant threat of violent crime. It’s a beautiful, big city with plenty of green space and world-class entertaining, shopping and sports experiences.

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Special shout-out to my Torontonian buddy Elle for all her help in planning our itinerary and accommodations. She has now replaced Michael J. Fox as my favorite Canadian!

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