Friday, August 14, 2015

I Do Spy | The World

You're all like me, right? You want to find the perfect career that will allow you to travel at your leisure to anywhere you would like. Yeah. Me too.

While I haven't found that career yet, I can wanderlust. Right now you'll find me exploring Bologna, Italia. If you want to see my adventures, follow me on social media with #LaCapraAffamati. In the meantime, here are some ways to see the earth: on your clothes.

Overseas and Out Top — ModCloth
See You Later, Equator Bracelet — ModCloth
Which Way to Wow? Earrings — ModCloth
World Map Passport Cover — Gifts and Travel

Song of the Blog: "Born to be Wild" by Steppenwolf

Some of these links are Modcloth affiliate marketing links. This means that if you click them and buy something, I get a little tiny piece of commission. But that doesn't mean I don't love each and every one of them. In fact, those earrings are going in my next suitcase.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Into the Pint Glass | American Lager

For those of you who don't know, I'm currently drinking all the wine in Florence, Italy. If you want to see my adventures, follow me on all the social media with #LaCapraAffamati. In the meantime, Mariah can answer any extra questions you might have about today's beer: American Lagers!

What was the first beer you ever tasted? Budweiser? PBR? Miller High Life? Chances are it was a really shitty beer that tasted like piss water. These are American Adjunct Lagers, which were inspired by the Czech Republic and German Pilsners. However, they've come a long way and not necessarily for the better.

Lagers were first introduced to American in 1840 and in 40 years, there would be over 2000 breweries producing that style. But, what's the difference between an ale and a lager, you ask? It's simple (ish). It's all about where they ferment in the fermentation tanks. Ale yeast will ferment at the top in warmer temperatures while lager yeast ferments at the bottom in colder temperatures.

So can you find a good tasting American Lager? That depends on what you're looking for. If it's a traditional adjunct, in my personal opinion, not so much. Stella Artois makes a tasty premium lager, as does Full Sail. But maybe try adding "Amber" in the mix or "Blueberry." But what it really comes down to is if it's a hot day and you want to have a hot dog and a beer, Lagers are usually your best bet for low ABV and for chugging them down.

image via David Hale Smith
Lone Star Beer
Style: American Adjuct Lager
ABV: 4.65%
IBU: 13

This is the National Beer of Texas. Yes, National.

Aroma: It smells a little better than a traditional American Adjuct Lager (read: piss water).

Appearance: It pours a hazy straw yellow.

Flavor: There is a sweet maltiness with very low bitters, but just enough to make it well balanced.

Mouthfeel: It's light-bodied with mild carbonation.

Overall: What can I say? This is obviously my least favorite style of beer, even more than hoppy IPAs. If my only options are lagers, than I'm always going to pick Lone Star because it's the most drinkable. But I'm still too hungover from all my PBRs and Coors Lights from beer pong in college to ever really appreciate a lager. #sorrynotsorry

Do you like American Lagers? Please join us! This link-up will be open for two weeks so you have all the time in the world to try a local or national American Lager! Be sure to tag your drink of choice with #IntoThePintGlass. You will find the next coming month's beers below. So, take note of what your drinking and drink up me hearties, yo ho! 

Into The Pint Glass

Up Next: Hefeweizen

Song of the Blog: "American Woman" by Lenny Kravitz

Friday, July 31, 2015

I Do Spy | Italia

Caio! I've officially been in Italy for a week and a half. I'm not saying this to rub it in your face — oh wait, yes I am. I'm in Italy, betches. Follow my adventures on all the social media with #LaCapraAffamati!

Viva l'Italia!

Paint Splash Map — artPause
Vintage Rome About Travel Case — ModCloth
Italy Country Necklace — Truche
Italian Leather Travel Journal — Artistic Bookbinding

Song of the Blog: "That's Amore" by Dean Martin

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

How to Unsuccessfully Homebrew

Beer. It's in my blood. My brother is a professional brewer. My father is an award-winning homebrewer. My mother will drink Newcastle.

I've been learning so much about different beer styles through Into the Pint Glass and it has really boasted my confidence and enthusiasm when I talk about beer with other people. And I actually know a crap ton about the brewing process from the thousands of breweries that I've toured*.

But just because I know about the process, doesn't mean I can execute it. Here are just a few ways to ensure your wort never becomes beer**.

Step One: Be too enthralled with taking pictures of this wonderful occasion.

See that photo right there? It looks pretty good, right? The mash is bubbling quite nicely in my gallon pot and I just so happened to match my font with my thermometer. Take a closer look. My strike water is 185 degrees, which is 30 degrees higher than it is supposed to be. I'm pretty sure I murdered any chance of fermentation right there.

Step Two: Think a pasta strainer has the ability to strain two and a half pounds of malts.

As I was preparing for this wonderful day, I was also trying to save money because grains and hops don't come cheap. So, I figured my cheap, plastic pasta strainer would be just find to strain the water-soaked malts that had just been sitting in over 3 quarts of water. This happened to be one of the hardest parts of the whole process. The struggle was real.

Step Three: Don't buy enough ice.

Oh, you think you can cool down your wort from boiling to 80 degrees in less than 20 minutes? Think again. Next time, I will definitely be buying four bags of ice. And I will do it in advance instead of forgetting to buy the ice and then running to my nearest gas station while my water is boiling. #safetyfirst

Step Four: Buy difficult equipment.

You would think that the homebrew store would sell easy-to-use equipment, especially to those who are just starting out. Nope. My fermentation bucket had the most impossible lid. I tried kneeling on one side while leaning on the other. The lid would.not.go.on. So what's a girl to do? Bring out the hammer. I had to hammer my lid down while sitting on one side of the bucket.

Step Five: Leave your wort sitting in your hallway for over a week, even after there is no sign of fermentation.

This one is just sanitary. There was no way my beer was going to become beer. But instead of cleaning up my mess after a few days of inactivity, I left my bucket just hanging out in all its glorious yeast. I ended up having to toss out a perfectly good bucket (That's a lie. See Step Four).

Have you ever brewed your own beer? What were your mistakes?
Would you brew your own beer at home?

Song of the Blog: "All I Need is a Miracle" by Mike & The Mechanics

*Yes, I am exaggerating. However, I have lost track of how many breweries I've visited. Especially since all of our family vacations revolve around beer. That is not a lie. Want to be adopted? Because we're awesome.
**What is Wort?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Into the Pint Glass | Cider

For those of you who don't know, I'm currently laying on the beach on the Amalfi Coast with wine in my hand. If you want to see my adventures, follow me on all the social media with #LaCapraAffamati. In the meantime, Mariah can answer any extra questions you might have about today's "beer:" Cider!

Ok, ok, you caught us this is technically not a beer, it’s CIDER, but hey, it’s often served in a pint glass. Cider or more specifically hard cider, is an alcoholic beverage produced from the fermentation of juice from the apple. While the concept of cider is very simple, there are many variations on this lovely and ancient drink. Ciders can be sweet, tart, light, refreshing, barreled-aged, high in alcohol, low in alcohol, mixed with other fruits, clear, murky, dark, white, sparkling, still, made with wine yeast, made with beer yeast, made from filtered apple juice or unfiltered apple juice/cider. Are you getting the picture yet? Ciders are crazy complex, however they are fairly simple to make. Basic cider is made by dumping yeast into apple juice, unlike beer there are not multiple steps with mash and boil time. 

Cider dates back to the BC era (before cans), that’s why you mostly see it in bottles (ba-dum-chh). It’s debatable when cider first hit the civilization market. There is evidence that apples were grown as early as 1300 BC, but whether they were used for cider is unclear. Cider comes on record in the era of Julius Caesar, around 55 BC. By the ninth century cider was well established in Europe. Cider was also the newly colonized America’s beverage of choice, where apples, not grains were plentiful. As beer became more plentiful in America, the popularity of cider decreased, then was wiped out with Prohibition. It’s slowly seen a return as the popularity of craft beer and artisan brewing grows. 

Ciders are not really broken down into styles per say. The basic cider styles are still or sparkling, and level of sweetness. Though included under the brewing style of Cider, we also have Perry. Perry is like Cider, except it’s made with pears not apples. Cider is it’s own beverage category. It’s actually more similar to wine than beer, but it likes to hang with the craft crowd.

Superstition Meadery's Blueberry Spaceship Box Cider
ABV: 6.9%

A few months back, my dad, uncle and I went to Superstition Meadery to try a sample of their meads. This is my new favorite place. While they had killer meads, this blueberry cider was the winner between my dad and I and he was kind enough to ship me a bottle so my glutard friend and I could share it.

Aroma: My friend and I both smelled oxidized apples. Generally, you're not supposed to smell that in a cider, but I think because the strong sugary blueberry scent made it so sweet, it really evened it out.

Appearance: It was a very opaque, deep blue-purple.

Flavor: This had a traditional cider undertone with unripe blueberries; very tart.

Mouthfeel: It was medium-bodied and slightly tanic because of (I'm guessing) the blueberry skins. Think 2% milk.

Overall: I could drink this by the bucket. It went down so smoothly. The blueberry is definitely more prevalant than the apple flavor but I'm 100% ok with that. If you're in the Prescott area and they still have this one, buy it. Buy it by the case (and ship some to me).

Do you like Ciders? Please join us! This link-up will be open for two weeks so you have all the time in the world to try a local, national or international cider! Be sure to tag your drink of choice with #IntoThePintGlass. You will find the next coming month's beers below. So, take note of what your drinking and drink up me hearties, yo ho!

Into The Pint Glass

Up Next: American Lager

Song of the Blog: "Break Free" by Queen (please watch this music video — Freddie wins at life)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Into the Pint Glass | Pale Ale

Welcome back to Into the Pint Glass, where Mariah and I talk all about the greatest invention that started out with only four ingredients. This week we discuss one of the classics: Pale Ales. 

Pale Ales originated in the 20th century when brewers started to experiment with malts, pouring techniques and even using different waters. When these pale ales first originated, the bottled version was called its name sake but the cask and keg versions were called Bitters. The names now are almost interchangeable. 

It is not, however, interchangeable with an American Pale ale. 

Once Lagers reached the US in the 1840s, Ales were forgotten. After Prohibition and World War II, the last standing big breweries were the ones that are still producing Lagers today. But all that ended with Sierra Nevada came around in 1979. They took what the English were producing but instead of relying on British products, they went straight to their own backyard and began to use American hops in the ales. This innovation could possibly be what started the craft beer revolution. 

English and American ales have two different sets of standards. American ales will be less caramelly and cleaner with a bigger hop finish, especially if it's a West Coast beer). 

Indian Pale Ales are a whole other story. 

Independence's Power and Light
Style: Power and Light
ABV: 5.5%
IBU: 42

Taste: This is a very light, very well-balanced beer. There are light grassy and citrus notes with a medium mouthfeel and a smooth finish. 

Overall: I drank this when my mom and I went to my restaurant and it was the first beer I ordered, even when we had a sour ale on tap (you know, my favoritest style). It's easily drinkable, especially after a long hike on a hot day. I'm speaking from experience. Drink this. 

Do you like Pale Ales? Please join us! This link-up will be open for two weeks so you have all the time in the world to try a local, national or international pale ale! Be sure to tag your drink of choice with #IntoThePintGlass. You will find the next coming month's beers below. So, take note of what your drinking and drink up me hearties, yo ho!

Into The Pint Glass

Up Next: Cider (this one is for all you glutards out there!)

Song of the Blog: "Mercy" by Muse

Monday, July 6, 2015

Book Review | The Little Paris Bookshop

The Little Paris Bookshop
by Nina George

Goodreads SynopsisMonsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can't seem to heal through literature is himself; he's still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened.

After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.

Review: There are so many great things about The Little Paris Bookshop. Most of the characters are enchanting. It's a wonderful idea. The language is beautiful. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the story line of Jean Perdu, the broken hearted literary lover, going on a river adventure with a young author named Max. Along the way, they pick up a hilarious italian chef, Cuneo and from there, they grow together and experience sorrow and happiness. I often found myself surprised that this was written by a woman, because it seemed like she was able to get into the mind of a man so easily. Max was instantly my favorite character from the start. He is trying to find his way in life and it's when he runs away that he's able to finally find himself. He's joined the list of the literary characters I would like to marry.

The greatest reviews of this novel stem from the fact that it's a love story for books. But I think Nina really has a love for, not just books but also, the night sky. Her and I have that in common and I was entranced by the imagery and fascination with the stars. 

However, I did not enjoy the actual romance part of this novel. I didn't realize that half of this book would be centered around a man who has been heart-broken for 21 years. Yes. Twenty-One Years. That's too damn long, my friends. It's time to suck it up and move on. I couldn't really care about the fact that he was finally healing and I definitely couldn't agree with the fact that he had to fall in love again before he could move on. Those scenes bored me a little and unfortunately that was the last quarter of the book. 

Which brings me to the pacing of The Little Paris Bookshop. There were some moments and scenes that I felt should have had more time spent and others that should have been cut short. Perdu falls for his broken-hearted neighbor Catherine very quickly after she's been abandoned by her husband and then all of a sudden he's on his literary apothecary boat, floating away and finding himself. 

Overall, I enjoyed the story and what it had to offer. I would have liked for it to have been edited some more, perhaps but the language is beautiful and Ms. George can write some fascinating characters.

Rating: 3 out of 5 goats

I received a copy of this book for free from Blogging for Books. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Clearly. 

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