Sour'd In September

September 10th, I made my way to Elmsford, NY for Captain Lawrence's annual Sour'd in September. Being my first visit to the brewery (not for lack of trying), I was surprised at the vastness of the facility. The line moved quickly and I entered through the lobby, into the main rooms. Sour lovers spilled outside into the back yard and side areas, all filled with even more beer and food. I felt like Augustus Gloop in a candy factory. I took my tums and began the tastings!

Stand-outs of the day:

Urban Family Flat Earth Theory (American Wild Ale) - This poured a clear, golden color with a thin white head, which dissipated quickly. The aroma was sour with omija presence. To those who don't know what omija is, it's quite a difficult flavor to descsribe. Known as the five flavor berry, each part of the berry is known to contain different flavors. The skin is known to be sour and tart, which is present in this beer. The center of the berry is known for being salty and sweet, both lightly present in the beer. The seed is known to be spicy, which I did not detect in the beer. Overall, it was pretty tart with a lasting omija funk through out, not overpowering though. This was a really nice, balanced way to incorporate the berry in a beer.

Modern Times Symmetric Orchestra (Sour/Wild Ale) - This poured a hazy, golden color with a white head. Very light lacing. Aroma was tart with light oakiness and bright citrus notes, maybe some white grape. The taste was similar, a light oakiness balanced the citrus/tartness. Body was on the lighter side, with a slightly dry finish, keeping the beer clean and refreshing. I could drink this all day.

Modern Times Fruitlands Passionfruit Guava (Gose) - Oh my guava. This was a delicious beer. It poured an orangey-gold. The first thing that hits me is the strong guava in the aroma, followed by a tartness. Taste wise, the guava was dominant, but not overly sweet. Passionfruit follows and the taste ends with a tartness and light minerality in the body. I really enjoyed the showcasing of tropical fruit in this, without it being a sweet beer. Nice take on the gose style. 

Hoppy Drinking! 

- One Hoppy Lady

The Fir Farm, Colts Neck, NJ

The Fir Farm, beloved cut-your-own Christmas tree farm of Coltsneck, NJ, has been providing the state with Christmas spirit and real trees for decades. "What does it have to do with beer?" you ask. Well, as of two years ago, The Fir Farm has also been planting hops! Intrigued, I decided to go check it out last week. 

When I arrived, Bob welcomed me to the farm and was kind enough to give me a tour (even though I showed up on the one day it poured!). He showed me the different hop fields and pointed out each variety we passed, explaining how each variety looks different. (Fields included Nugget, Chinook, Columbia, Centennial, Cascade, Mount Hood, Tettnang, Willamette and Sorachi Ace!) As I walked through rows of hops, I was surprised to see 18 foot bines. Cones were already forming and newer plants were lush with burrs. Some bines even had arms which surpassed the length of my own!

Their secret? Bob gives credit to the natural greensand deposits found in Colts Neck. The Fir Farm is 100% natural/pesticide free, relying heavily on the Garden State to do its thing. The iron potassium silicate found in the area is known to loosen clay and increase moisture by ten times. It is also said to include traces of up to 30 different minerals. Perhaps, the reason for such quick results? "Being retired men, doing what we love every day probably doesn't hurt it either!" He added. 

Ater looking around the hop fields, I also asked to see the cider apple trees, at which point Bob was more than thrilled to tell me a story about Harrison apples. A style indigenous to Newark, NJ, the apple was thought to be extinct. A single apple found in Livingston, NJ (1976) was used to bring back the species (which are now planted on The Fir Farm, as well). One thing's for sure, these guys are extremely passionate about what they do and the area that they are working in. With years of history in agriculture, tons of new plants, and a great attitude, I'm excited to see what The Fir Farm brings to NJ's craft beer scene. I will be sure to revisit the farm during harvest in three weeks. Drink local, brew local!

Hoppy Drinking!

- One Hoppy Lady

Next to the burr-filled plants

Next to the burr-filled plants

Picking blackberries

Picking blackberries

Reykjavik: Mikkeller Bar & Other Beer

As airlines were a great source of distress on this trip, it was no surprise to me that my flight into Reyjkavik (connecting then to EWR) was several hours late. This meant that the entire flight had missed their connections (only one flight out of Reykjavik to each destination per day!). We were all going to be stuck in Iceland over night.

When we finally arrived in the small city, a big bus was already waiting to take us... an hour from the airport... into city center? There was a nice turn of events! Around 8pm, we arrived at the free hotel (which wasn't half bad). We were then served a complimentary dinner, where I dined with a few other passengers from the flight. By the time dessert was done, it was almost 9:30pm and the strange, still-light sky was just too inviting to stay in. Exhausted as I was, I was 7 minutes from the heart of Reykjavik and I only had one night. After convincing a few others to come exploring, I was on my way! 

We stopped into Hurra, a jazz bar that was recommended to us by a native Icelander. The music was fantastic. The people were beautiful. And as I drank my refreshing Einstok White Ale, I had one of those only-when-you-travel revelations where you feel like you've found the place where you belong, if only for one night. 

Though Hurra was mesmerizing, I had to make it to Mikkeller & Friends. Somewhat regretfully, I left the jazz bar in search of beer. When we got there, the 1st floor was a bar, but as soon as we mentioned "beer," we were redirected upstairs. The tiny upstairs had a small bar and two separate rooms. As I took a seat at a communal table, I couldn't help gawking at the interesting choice of decor. Dancing clowns, burlesque devils and a glass case of creepy baby dolls adorned the walls of the bar. Very creepy nursery-esque. I'm not really sure what the story behind that is, but I like to think that somebody just thought it would be funny. 

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Tool LikeWeisse - Poured a murkey golden color with a white head. Aroma was medium tart, wheat, lemony/citrus and hay. Taste had lemon, mild sourness, slight floral notes and white wine hints towards the end. Body was lighter and refreshing, dries towards the end. A good beer.

Borg Brugghus Fjolublaa Hondin - Poured a very dark red, with a thin, pink-tinged head. Dominant blueberry/bilberry in the aroma, with very subltle hints of arctic thyme. Blueberry and brett funk in the taste, some sourness. Lighter side of medium bodied with good amount of carbonation. Enjoyed this one a lot. 

Only having about 2 hours until everything closed that night, I awoke the next morning determined to drink beers precisely at 11am. I had two hours until I had to be back for my bus departure. 

ร–lvisholt Brugghรบs Lava Smoked Imperial Stout @ Scandinavian - Black with a light brown head. Smelled sweet, like dried banana with dark chocolate and some coffee. Malty and roasty in flavor. Toasted malts, but not overly smoky. Cocoa, coffee and very subtle vanilla hints in the taste. Much thinner in body than I expected, on the heavier side of medium bodied. Too expensive to drink again, but would love to age a bottle of this. Many subtle flavors under the smoke.

Viking Classic @ Public House - Clear amber color with light white head. A balanced, malty, well done Vienna. Plenty of carbonation. Refreshing, easy to drink.

I also tried to make it to Kaldi, a craft beer bar. Google said they would be open at 12pm, but I had checked back twice and they still hadn't opened by around 12:40pm. I caught a cab and went back to the Icelandic Air Reykjavik Natura hotel for a complimentary lunch (after almost ordering a $21 bowl of chowder) and to catch my bus back to the airport (which I was strongly tempted to miss). I definitely would love to visit Reykjavik again for a more extended visit. However, at $14 per beer, I don't want to guess how much it would have cost without the complimentary hotel, meals and transportation. 

This concludes my 2016 Euro beercation. Don't worry, there are tons of tales coming up from NorCal!

Until then, hoppy drinking! 

- One Hoppy Lady

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Anderlecht: Brasserie Cantillion

Of course, the Euro-beercation would not have been complete without a trip to the motherboard. After taking a cozy (but pricey!) train ride to Brussels, I walked over to Cantillion, which was surprisingly close. The brewery blended right into the street of quaint little boxes, portraying a sort of humbleness and authenticity that you immediately fell in love with. 

As I walked through the door, I spotted a man at a podium nearby. With a quick, "Parlez vous anglais?" I was redirected to the self-guided English tour. With the free tour comes two free tastings of a choice of three beers. While a few other beers were available to purchase by the glass, most were only available in a 750mL bottle, which had to be opened and drank at the brewery. I suggest bringing friends, or grouping up with strangers to get the most tasting without wasting. 

Lambic straight from the barrel, aged 16 months - This poured a urine-like color, deep yellow and hazy with no head. Aroma was tart, lemon-rind and funk. Taste was funky, wet wood, and apple-esque towards the end, bitter apple. Low carbonation and drying finish. 

Geuze - This was not as tart as the lambic I tasted first. It was cloudier, but still a piss yellow color. Funky smell with some white grape fruity esters. Nice, easy mild tartness. A bit of spice at the end. Lighter bodied, medium carbonation.

Rose de Gambrinus - Deep, clear, pinkish color with hues leaning more towards garnet. A pink head, which dissipated quickly. This had a beautiful aroma of raspberry with a touch of barnyard funk. Tastes bright and slightly sweet at first, then dries out like a wine towards the end. Slightly acidic and effervescent.  

Zwanze 2012 - This pours a light golden clear color and has a thin, white head. Smell is cat piss-esque, kind of tangy. Definitely pick up the subtle rhubarb in the taste, but not sweetened, which was perfect. Well balanced. Tart and drying towards the end. Lighter bodied. 

Fou' Foune - This poured a dark hazy orange with a thick white head. Wow, a big, sweet apricot smell with some underlying funk in the nose. Tart, not overly apricot sweet, like you may assume from the nose. True apricot in the flavor, not candied or artificial. A nice funk takes over, without any astringent or vinegar-like qualities. Probably my favorite beer of the entire trip. Perfectly balanced. 

Lambic Haute Densite - This poured a clear copper/amber color and had no head at all. It smelled like apple baby food and slightly vinegar-like towards the end. Somewhere between sherry vinegar and apple cider vinegar in the taste with slight oakiness. Oxidized. Body was flat and more towards the astringent side. Oddly enough, the more I drank it, the more I liked it. 

Malted chocolate - Their malted chocolate tasted like the wort from a stout! Delicious. I suggest tasting the little malt grains on their own too by picking them off the chocolate. This was a nice snack to pair with the Fou' Foune. 

Though brewing season had just ended when I had visited and many bottles were sold out, I snagged a few Rose de Gambrinus, Geuze and Kriek Lambic Bio to bring home for friends. Like and follow my Facebook Page for updates through out the week on how to win a beer box with one of these 375mL Cantillion bottles, along with other OHL selections. 

Until then, hoppy drinking!

- One Hoppy Lady

Paris: La Fine Mousse

This was my favorite beer spot that I went to in Paris. I went there two nights and loved it both times. The interior had rustic stone walls, wooden stools, some sunken armchairs and tables that stood at the edge of the open building front. There were about 20 taps and a long list of bottles available, including a ton of Cantillon and Tilquin. The lights were dim and the room was dark, like a proper bar, in contrast to Brewberry's bright yellow walls and strong lighting. The environment here was very relaxing. 

Jandrain J Dark Sasion - Brewed with the La Fine Mousse team. This was kind of like a chocolate saison to me. Instead of being fruit forward, it was a light chocolate beer with bitter hops and spice at the end. Lighter bodied.

Tilquin Geuze L'Ancienne 2012/13 - Poured golden orange-y color with a white head, which persisted. The nose was citrusy/lemony. The taste was tart with lemon and orange flavors. Hay flavor was present and the beer ended with a bittering funk. Well carbonated.

Loverbeer For Fan - On my first night here, the bartender was generous and gave us a pour of this from his bottle. So awesome! It poured a hazy coppery orange, with a thin white head. Wow, great funky apricot smell, like rotting apricots. Taste is slightly tart with mild apricot flavors and some barnyard funk. Astringent.

2012 Mariage Parfait - Poured a dark gold. Acetic smell with tropical fruits on the nose, pineapple, mango. Taste had tropical fruits, lemon, white grapefruit, plus some wet, musty, earthy funk. Well carbonated.

Cantillon St. Lamvinus - When I first ordered this, I was told that they were out. However, several minutes later, the bartender reappeared with a bottle, which he had found in their restaurant cellar (Their restaurant is across the street). Made my night! This poured a clear, bright red with darker burgundy hues and a pink tinged head. You could smell the merlot and the tartness on the nose. Pretty tart at first taste. It transformed into tannic/wine-like and woody, then finished with an unexpected musty flavor. Slightly solvent, reminds me of a very specific paint I used in pre-k. I absolutely loved this! 

Trust me, you won't want to miss my next post on Brasserie Cantillon ;) So check back soon!

Until then, hoppy drinking!

- One Hoppy Lady