Beer Exploration of the Week: 2 New Pumpkin Brews

I have indulged in yet another two autumn craft beers, these two happened to be pumpkin ales.

I will tell you right away – one of the following two beers I tried was absolutely outstanding in flavor, color and presentation. The other one was a beer I will soon forget about.

As always, you can refer to my Sip Score to see how I lay things out.

HornyCopia  Pumpkin Ale

First, I have to give this brewery credit for their clever names. Check out their website for HornyCopia_Beerthe full list of beers, but Horny Blonde, Baby Got Bock, Hopped Up N’ Horny IPA… you get the picture!

This beer is very carbonated at first sip – not a very powerful pumpkin flavor, but you can definitely taste some spices. This is perfect for the beginner craft beer drinker.

Here’s how Horny Goat Brewing coins the beer:

“We mash in pumpkins with 2 row, Vienna and Caramel malts for a hearty ale with just the right amount of body. Spices added to the boil create a complex yet deliciously harmonious flavor. We used pumpkin and spice to yield a brew we proudly describe as “Pumpkin Pie in a Bottle””

This was not my favorite beer, I probably won’t ever drink it again – but that’s just my opinion.

Sip Score: 1.5 sips out of 5 

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Whole Hog Pumpkin Ale

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By now you can guess which beer I liked better. This beer was amazing. I had just got done playing two grueling hours of Dodgeball (I know, right? Sounds awful. It kinda is, but it’s also a lot of fun) and I was very, very thirty. I was pleasantly surprised and my thirst was deliciously quenched with this pumpkin ale.

Whole Hog Pumpkin Ale is brewed out of Stevens Point Brewery in Wisconsin. (They are over 150 years old – I definitely recommend checking them out)

Here’s my review:

Very distinct smell – a mix of cinnamon, pumpkin and other spices are present at first sip. It actually smelled just like pumpkin pie – it was rich, flavorful and so delicious.

Here’s what the experts say:

Handcrafted using real pumpkin and savory pumpkin pie spices with hints of all natural cinnamon and nutmeg.  Perle hops balance with rich Munich, Roasted, and Caramel malts for the full-bodied taste and exceptional flavor.

Sip Score: 4 sips out of 5

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Oktoberfest Beer

Such kind works from a fellow blogger. It’s good to see another passionate writer out there!

August MacGregor

I was inspired by Erin’s blog to taste-test some Oktoberfest beers. When I read her blog post, it was one of those slap-myself-in-the-forehead moments:

I’ve been blogging about Oktoberfest and Bavaria. Check.

Beer is a big part of Oktoberfest. Check.

I like beer. Check!

That leaves me with no excuse to skip out on the beer sampling fun. (I get stuck in rut with some things — I have beers that I like and stick to them.)

So, a thank you to Erin for inspiring me to branch out of my beer comfort zone. Please go check out her blog and see what she thought of the beers she tried out: Schells Oktoberfest and Summit Oktoberfest. Also, I very much recommend her post Seat 6E, about the consequences of not taking risks. It spoke to me as I work toward my dream to be a full-time writer.

Now for my…

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Beer Exploration of the Week: Fall Favorites

The best time of year for beer is here! (I didn’t plan for that to rhyme)

Oktoberfest, Pumpkin Ales, Caramel Apple Spiced Ales – they are all back!

I tried two Oktoberfest beers this week and I was highly impressed with both of them. As always, if you have any suggestions on beer I should try – send them my way!

See my Sip Score breakdown here if you haven’t yet.

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Schells Oktoberfest

Schells Oktoberfest A great Minnesota beer with a long history. Schells dates back to 1860 when founder August Schell “laid his first brick”.

If Schells can make it through prohibition and still brew beer in 2014 – it’s a beer worth drinking.

So, they have this Oktoberfest beer they have been brewing every year – and it’s pretty amazing. Just saying.

 Here’s my review:

A slight sweetness but with full flavor. It’s crisp, malty and perfect for cool autumn days. It’s incredibly smooth with an earthy finish (stole the word “earthy” from another review – but I totally agree with it)

Here is how Schell describes it:

“The use of Munich and Vienna malts give the beer its toasty malt backbone, and melanoidin-rich flavor and aroma.  It has a soft malt sweetness, pleasant mouthfeel and a slight spiciness.  Hop character is subdued, as the malt takes center stage with this beer.”

I, of course, had to set the mood and light a pumpkin spice candle as I enjoyed this tasty beer! 🙂

Beer Exploration Schells Oktoberfest

Sip Score: 4 sips out of 5

Summit Oktoberfest

Two Minnesota beers? I definitely didn’t plan for that. Who would have thought my two Summit Oktoberfestfavorite Oktoberfest beers are both brewed in Minnesota?

Another validation of why Minnesota is great to live in 🙂

I got this beer on tap about a week ago, but never had the chance to take a photo, so I got a sampler pack and made sure to get this one again.

Here’s my review:

This beer is outstanding. My favorite thus far in my fall beer explorations. Spicy, medium-bodied, very flavorful. Notes of pumpkin and nut towards the end.

Here’s how Summit describes it: 

“Brewed in the classic Märzen style with Northern Brewer hops from Germany. Rich, toffee malt flavors up front with a clean hop finish as crisp as the autumn air.”

Sip Score: 5 sips out of 5

What’s Next?

Fall comes and goes so quickly. I need to get in all of the seasonal beer sampling why I can. Here’s a sneak peak of what’s to come next:

Fall Beers

6 Reasons I’m a Forever-Minnesotan

As I slowly weeded through 252,000 people at the Minnesota State Fair (Saturday’s crowd of 252,092 people set a record for single-day attendance) to ride the Sky Glider, I remembered how much I love the land of 11,842 lakes.

YEAH, I should have picked a different day to go the Great Minnesota Get-Together but regardless it’s something I look forward to every year.

It got me thinking of all the other things I enjoy about Minnesota. Yes, every Minnesotan knows how TERRIBLE our winters are, we live here. But year after year, we survive and continue to live and raise families here because Minnesota is truly a great place to live.

See my list below for why Minnesota is an amazing state to grow up and live in – and let me know if I missed anything!

[The photos used for this post are ones I have personally taken, unless otherwise noted]

 

1. Craft Beer Industry

FultonBrewery FinnegansBeer

Minnesota has been exploding with craft breweries over the last few years, and each one is unique and delicious in its own way. Here’s a short list of some of my favorites: Surly, Finnegans, Fulton, Third Street, 612 Brew, the Freehouse, Day Block Brewing Company… the list goes on. There’s really nothing’s better than enjoying a local craft beer on a beautiful summer day.

See the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild for the full list of registered members/breweries.

 

2. Fall (and the fact Minnesota has seasons!)

FallWeather

Fall is a favorite among seasoned Minnesotans (pun intended). The dog days of summer are over but we still get to enjoy relatively warm days, and get the added bonus of cool nights. Fall is the best time to practice your Instagram skills – beautiful fall leaves, apple picking, and who could forget the basic white girl staple: Pumpkin Spice Lattes.

Grab the riding boots out of the closet, dig out a pair of leggings and an infinity scarf and get your Fall on while it lasts!

Best. Season. Ever.

3. Uptown  & rooftop bars

RooftopBarBeerphoto credit: my friend and old college roommate took this – but I was with her that day 🙂

If you have never had the pleasure of visiting Uptown, do it right now! It’s a great part of Minneapolis filled with vibrant shops and entertainment, Lake Calhoun, and some of the best rooftop bars in Minnesota. The small window of spring/summer/fall should be spent overlooking the Minneapolis skyline sipping on a local craft beer. Seriously, nothing’s better. I promise. (#4 may counter this statement… I can’t decide! Keep reading to find out more)

If you haven’t already, go to Stella’s Fish Cafe and get the Mac & Cheese or the Hot Crab & Spinach Dip as an appetizer or side-order, you’ll be in heaven.

4. Lake/Pool Life

Lake Minnetonkaphoto credit: my dad took this photo of Lake Minnetonka this summer

A Minnesota summer spent on the boat or at the beach is simply the best. Quench your thirst with a cold Summer Shandy and soak up the hot Minnesota sun. Cruising the lake with your friends blasting the songs of summer – it reminds you why you love living in Minnesota.

5. The Great Minnesota Get-Together

Minnesota State Fair

Arguably one of the best people-watching locations in all of Minnesota, the Minnesota State Fair is full of everything deep-fried you can imagine, fun attractions (like the Sky Rider – where this photo was taken) and local beer/food.

Best food to try: Turkey To Go turkey sandwich – you’ll fall in love, seriously!

Best drink to try: Lift Bridge Mini Donut Beer and a Bloody Mary in International Baazarr (but bring your own Vodka, they are virgin Bloody Mary’s) 🙂

6. Ice Fishing

IceFishing

I tried to find someone great about each season. When the weather is not a piercing -30, it’s actually very pleasant being out on the lake ice fishing in the winter (which mostly consists of playing cards and drinking beer)

 

If you have any other Minnesota favorites to add that I may have missed – let me know via Twitter or comment below!

The Undeniable Power of Music

You know when you hear that one song – whether it comes on the radio or a friend plays it – and you start dancing and singing at the top of your lungs? You know that feeling of nostalgia you get as it brings you back to the exact time and place you first heard it? It’s a fun feeling. I get that feeling all the time, especially when I hear something by Yellowcard – specifically “Ocean Avenue”.  It brings me back to my 7th grade crush and one of my favorite summers growing up.  Here’s the video if you’ve never heard the song before:

Memory is such a powerful thing. It’s what makes us unique. So what if everything you’ve experienced in your life – every precious moment, slowly disappeared? I can only imagine how scary of a feeling that’d be.

Sadly, that’s what people with Alzheimer’s and dementia suffer from every single day.

Personally, I don’t know how I could live without my memories. Especially those memories I get from hearing a favorite song. It’s an instant mood-booster or a reminder of something major that has happened in your life.

So, what’s this all about?

If you have ever met me, or worked with me, you might notice I can be a very passionate person. If it’s something I feel strongly about, or think it’s just a great opportunity, I’ll shout it for all to hear. (Sorry not sorry.)

My most recent passion circles around a campaign I am assisting with. The Miracle of Music was created to help spread the power of music and I am working with a team to raise money for iPod shuffles, music and headphones to go into the hands of Minneapolis memory care residents.

Where medications have failed, music has succeeded. This campaign is directly helping patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia.

So, how powerful is music, really, on patients suffering from memory loss? Watch this short video for a bit of an explanation:

What Can You Do to Help?

Great question! I know everyone was wondering. 🙂  If you have just $20 to spare – or even $5, it can go a long way. Please visit www.miracleofmusic.us to donate. Help Alzheimer’s patients regain some of their lost memories through the power of music.

With your help – this campaign will give Minneapolis memory care residents their VERY OWN iPod shuffle, headphones, and a playlist of their favorite music.

We will all get old eventually – wouldn’t you want someone to do this for you?

 

Just think about this for a second: What would you do if you lost your memory? What would you want people to do to help you regain some of those precious moments?

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