Thursday, May 28, 2015

Into the Pint Glass | Saison

We're coming toward the end of Mariah and I's birthday month, which is exactly why we celebrated with our two favorite beers. Last time we talked about my personal favorite, Sour Ales, and this week we're talking about Mariah's favorite: Saisons. I'll let her take it from here. 

Saison is considered a Belgian farmhouse style ale, that was traditionally brewed in the cooler months for consumption during the summer. The Saison beer style is a loosely defined style. This beer originates from the French-speaking Wallonia region in Belgium. A complex style, fruity, dry, and with notes of spiciness, fruitness, semi-sweet to tart. The yeast plays a big role in the flavor and dryness of this style. Hop bitterness is more pronounced in this style than in many other Belgian styles, and sometimes it is even dry-hopped. 

Many saisons are bottle conditioned, which means they are allowed to ferment within the bottle to produce carbonation. Saisons can be gold to copper, with an orange tint being considered traditional. There are also variations of the traditional such as saisons with the addition of fruits, black saisons, smoked saisons, and barrel aged. Saisons have seen a massive revival, especially in the US market. Saison Dupont is considered THE saison, if you want to know what a traditional saison tastes like, grab a bottle of Dupont.

Boulevard Brewing's Spring Belle Saison with Flowers
Style: 16C. Saison
ABV: 6.2
IBU: 35

Aroma: There are strong citrus and fruity esthers, particularly pineapple and lemon. There are hints of floral, including chamomile and petals. It smells like a saison.

Appearance: It is a very light gold color that I can almost see through, so clarity is great. It has a long-lasting foaming white head. There is a ton of lacing from the head.

Flavor: There are strong notes of citrus and florals, with the traditional spice in the background. I particularly taste clove, rose petals and pineapple.

Mouthfeel: It has a light body with a dry finish. The carbonation sits on the middle of the tongue, even after swallowing.

Overall: I generally swing either way with Saisons because I feel like they can be too spiced for a lighter beer but this one goes down really smoothly. I find that it's perfectly balanced between fruity, spicy and citrus-y. I don't really taste too much malt or hops, which means, again, that it's very well-balanced.

South Austin Brewery's 6 String Saison
Style: 16C. Saison
ABV: 8

Aroma: This beer smells much more spicy and citrus than the former. There are strong notes of orange and coriander. It smells like it would be a great Christmas-time beer.

Appearance: It is opaque and a deep honey color. There is a lot of activity happening in the glass, even well after the initial pour. It has a white foamy head that also lasts a while. 

Flavor: Holy spicy citrus bomb in your mouth. This is much more sweet than a traditional Saison. There is a sweet aftertaste at the roof of my mouth.

Mouthfeel: This has a medium body to it with great carbonation.

Overall: This is a surprisingly sweet beer that is pretty high in alcohol content, especially for a Saison. I really can't tell if I like it or not. It's drinkable but I'm not sure I'd ever order it again.

Into The Pint Glass

Up Next: Fruit Beers — look for any beers that have added fruit. Example: Abita Strawberry Lager

Song of the Blog: "Summer of 69" by Bryan Adams

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Five Books I Could Not Finish

You know that book you simply cannot put down? You stay up reading seven hours past your bed time because you are dying to know if the good guy will win in the end and if your favorite couple will end up together?

These are not those books.

These are the books that you force yourself to read because you heard great things, or they've been on your list for years and you finally gave in and bought it, or it was given to you for free. But there was nothing in it that you cared about.

One of the greatest lessons my grandmother has taught me (one of many, of course) is that if you don't like a book, don't feel obligated to finish it. There are a ton of stories out there for us to explore so why waste time on something that doesn't tickle your fancy?

Eat Pray Love

I loved this movie. And I remember thinking, wow, I should really read this book. No. Nope. It's so boring. And this was the book that started it all. I told my grandma that I just wasn't into it. I felt like the entire book was Elizabeth Gilbert talking about how awesome she is and how she's finally found herself and how she's a rich white girl who can take off that much time with no consequences. Bye Felicia.

Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea

I'm not sure why I even started reading this book. I don't like Chelsea Handler. She crude and brings other people down to get a few laughs. But when you start bringing redheads into it, count me out. She had a whole chapter as to why people shouldn't date the gingers and I wanted to be like, bitch, please. Check yo self.

The Orphan Master's Son

Blllllllaaaaaaaggggghhhhh. This book had been on my list for a very long time. Maria Helena and I decided to read this book together and I just couldn't do it. It took me so long to get to part two that when the book basically started over at the middle, I called it quits. It was so boring and I found that I couldn't give two shits about the main character. God. It was just so so terrible. I can't believe I wasted my time on the first section alone.


I've started this highly acclaimed novel three times. And I just don't think it's going to happen. I know that it was a revolutionary novel for its time and was a serious social commentary. But I just can't get through the first 50 pages.

Viper Wine*

This was one of those books where the premise sounds fantastic but it falls short in the execution. And in this case it fell very short. Even in the first five pages, I was like, nope. I'm done. And it just never picked up.

Are there any books that you gave up on? Should I give any of these books a second chance?

Song of the Blog: "DONE" by The Band Perry

*I received this book in exchange for a review from Blogging for Books.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Best of Trader Joe's | Baking & Cooking

Welcome to the Best of Trader Joe's series, where I spent countless hours shopping at the greatest grocery store in the United States* to find the best finds for your household. For five weeks, we will explore the wonderful gifts that they have blessed us with from five categories. At the end, we'll end with an awesome giveaway that includes on item from each category. Get excited, people. 

You all know how much I love to bake, right? I hadn't thought about buying my baking products from TJ's until I was in need of some gluten free flour. And then my eyes were opened. They have a limited selection but if I can buy my simple baking necessities there, I will.

Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour

Are you gluten free? Do you want to bake gluten free? Then this is the only flour you should be buying. Guys. I'm serious. This doesn't have that gross pea flavor that most gluten free flours have and it bakes just like a wheat flour.
Coconut Oil Spray

So most oil sprays say No Carbs! or Low Fat! But what they mean is it's no carbs and low fat in a .5 second spray. This coconut oil is actually a little bit good for you. Ok, I wouldn't go that far. But it certainly isn't bad for you.
Organic Virgin Coconut Oil

I love this coconut oil. Unlike most coconut oils, it actually tastes like coconut. You can see the coconut flakes in it when it's slightly melted. However, this does mean that it's not always the best for baking, unless you want a coconut flavor. But why would you not want a coconut flavor?

Not Pictured: All the generic requirements, like an amazing vanilla extract, baking soda and powder and my favorite whole wheat flour.

*please note: This is NOT a sponsored post. I just really love and support Trader Joe's.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Best of Dancing with the Stars Season Twenty

This week marks the conclusion of Dancing with the Stars: Season Twenty. This show has been on for ten years now (isn't that crazy? — it's times like these where I feel old). This particular season has been incredible. When they first announced the "celebrity" contenstants, I was like, eh, the only person I really know is Rumor Willis. While she has remained a top contender, I've really grown to love a few others. In honor of The Finals tonight, here are just a few* of my favorite dances from the season.

Noah & Sharna

Somehow this man makes me cry every single week. He is truly an inspiration and I am so happy he's made it to the finale. For this particular dance, I actually hated the song (could we be any more cheezy, DWTS?) but the dancing itself is so beautiful.

Nastia & Derek

Oof. She is so talented and flexible. But they've had a rough season. The producers do a great job at making her look like a total bitch and Derek was injured near the end of the season. I was very surprised that they were eliminated after the Semi-Finals, especially with this dance, which made me cry like no one's business.

Willow & Mark

I was genuinely devastated when Willow was eliminated so early on, which shows how pathetic my life is, amiright? She is 14 years old and already showed incredible potential. Plus, I love Mark's visionary choreography. Their contemporary dance was so intense and you can see in her eyes how into she was. And then there's the tango, which I'm pretty sure was week two. She had me as her biggest fan after that moment.

Rumor & Val

From the very start, Rumor was the one to beat. She has had her ups and downs since then but her technique is absolutely amazing. Her mom (you know, Demi Moore) is there every week cheering her on and it's one of the few cases where I'm like, wow, you are actually famous. I mean, Rumor was in Now & Then, only my favorite childhood movie. Plus, her ass is amazing. 

Riker & Allison

I AM IN LOVE WITH THESE TWO. When Allison was announced as pro last season I freaked the freak out because she's an incredible dancer. And then there's Riker. I didn't know who he was before DWTS. But he's been my favorite since the start. The way he dances is so unique and Allison creates wonderful choreography for his body type and dance moves. I would put every single one of their dances on here. But these are my absolute favorites and their contemporary is the best of the whole season.

Who is your favorite DWTS couple this season? Are you going to watch the finale tonight (and tomorrow)?

*I would normally only pick five total, but I love all the dances so much this season.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Into the Pint Glass | Sour Ales

We've already established that I didn't always like beer. It wasn't until I lived in Ireland and tasted my first real Guinness when I realized that beer could actually taste great and not like piss water. But I didn't stray very far from my dark beer roots. Then my brother went to brewing school (that's a real thing) and his homework one night was to try Monk's Cafe Flemish Red Ale and my life was forever changed. It was at that moment that I learned that beer could be so much more than malty or hoppy. It could be fruity and and tart and my knowledge just kept growing.

Sour beers are the coolest because they get crazy into science. Brewers intentionally put bacteria into the beer to essentially spoil it. Now, yeast is always thrown into wort (that's beer before it has fermented) and those yeasts eat the sugars. But with sour beers they throw in additional bacteria, such as Lactobacillus and Brettanomyces wild yeasts, to create the fruity and earthy flavors. Or, they go back to the basics and let the natural yeasts and bacteria into the beer and let nature take its course. This particular style takes a very long time to mature to its state of perfection, which is why they are generally a more expensive purchase when it comes to alcohol. 

There are six different sub-styles to Sour Ales but there are three that are the most popular in American Craft Beer. 

Berliner Weisse' are a sour wheat beer that is traditionally more light in color. It was once called the Champagne of the North by Napoleon's returning troops. 

Flanders Red Ales are deep red, light brown sour ales that could be considered the red wine of beer (without the tannins). Fun fact: if your Flanders is red than it was aged on oak but if it is more brown, it was aged in stainless steel. 

Straight Lambics are a sour and acidic wheat-based beer but unlike other weisse's, not all will be cloudy. In fact, some will be on the more clear side. This beer is on the endangered species list of beers in Brussels because fewer and fewer traditional farmhouse breweries are producing this product.

Brouwerij Verhaeghe's Duchesse de Bourgogne
Style: 17B. Flemish Red Brown Ale
ABV: 6%

I'm not going to talk about how this compares to the BJCP style guidelines. I'm going to talk about how much I love this beer. To me, this is the perfect beer. It is tart and sour and oaky. It is fruity and wine-like and so.freaking.good. There is a hint of red wine vinegar that I know turns some people off but, guys, this beer is my freaking jam.

And the fact that I found this beer on tap at Italic made me the happiest little birthday girl that ever was.

What Sour Ale did you try? Which team are you on: Team Sour or Team Hop?

Oh, and Happy American Craft Beer Week!

Into The Pint Glass

Up Next: Saison

Friday, May 1, 2015

I Do Spy | Sunshine

The days are slowly growing longer and hotter. It's the perfect time of year to go for a hike in the middle of the day and for a run in the afternoon. Gimme dat Vitamin D!

Serene in the Sunshine Swimsuit — ModCloth
Celestial Charm Leggings — ModCloth
Array of Sunshine Earrings — ModCloth
Chance Greeting Flats — ModCloth

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Into the Pint Glass | Dark Lagers

Welcome back to Into The Pint Glass! Mariah and I thought we would just keep making things harder on you by challenging you to find this week's style: Black Lager. How did you do? My bottle shop only had two beers. I believe in you beautiful people.

I'll let Mariah take it from here. 

Beers in the Dark Lager category are often misunderstood, because of their their dark coloring. Many beer drinkers expect or assume that with the dark coloring, the same flavor profiles, such as coffee, chocolate and other roasted flavors often found in porters and stouts will apply. Where in fact, dark lagers are devoid of any substantial big roasted flavors. A dark malt with no roasted character is used to imparted the color. The black lager style strives for balance, and is defined more by it’s lack of emphasis on individual flavor profiles or ingredients. The wallflower of the dark beer world, perhaps.

American Dark Lager is a clean lager with minimal hop, malt, or roast character. American Dark Lagers are usually the cleanest, least roasty or malty of the three sub-styles. While usually a little sweeter and more bodied than a traditional American lager, it should finish clean. 

Munich Dunkel is the maltiest style in the dark lager category. The key flavor profile for this beer is derived from the use of Munich malt, imparting a bread like characteristic, and mild sweetness. This style of dark lager tends to be the sweeter more malt forward of the three. 

Schwarzbier (black beer) has the malt character between an American and a Munich dunkel. It is the darkest, more bitter and often most roasty of the dark lager styles. The key to this beer is balancing the malt, hop, and roast flavors so that no one aspect overwhelms the others, it should be a balance of the three.

Kostritzer Schwarzbier 
Style: 4C. Schwartzbier
ABV: 4.8%
IBU: 22

Aroma: This German beer is very scent-light. There is a mild malt with a slight twinge of sweetness.

Appearance: It's a very dark, opaque brown with a slow-forming, light tan head.

Flavor: Yum. It has a moderate malt flavor with a sweet aftertaste. There is a low bitterness taste, making it a fairly unbalanced beer. There is a strong roastiness flavor.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, smooth and moderate carbonation. 

Overall: Yum. I like sweet and malty beers and this one hits the spot. However, unlike a stout and porter, it's really light in mouthfeel.

Austin Beerworks Black Thunder
Style: 4C. Schwartzbier
ABV: 5.3%
IBU: 45

Aroma: This is a much stronger scent than the Kostritzer. It's a highly moderate, rich, clean malt scent.

Appearance: A dark, opaque color with a quick light tan head. However, it dissipates quickly.

Flavor: It's very malty and has a strong bitterness flavor. It's not IPA-hoppy, but there's a definite bitterness near the end.

Overall: Nope. Not my jam. It's more full-bodied and bitter than the Kostritzer, which takes away from the malty, sweetness.

Which do you like better? Malty and sweet? Full-bodied and bitter?
Which Dark Lager did you try?

Into The Pint Glass

Up Next: Sour Beers (My personal favorite!) | May 14th

Song of the Blog: "Dark Horse" by Katy Perry