Philly Girls’ Pint Out Takes Flight at City Tap House

When people ask me what I miss most about North Carolina, sometimes I think about the stunning UNC campus. Other times, I think about the hip, welcoming town of Durham, complete with giant bull statue and delicious eats and my favorite minor league baseball team. And there’s always Cheerwine, Bojangles, and all the beauty of Honeysuckle Sorbet… But then I remember what I REALLY miss most of all.

MISS YOU SO!!

It’s my NC Beer Family, of course! This amazing group of men and women were some of my best friends, and they always welcomed me with open arms and open bottles!! They gave me a community, a place to be myself and geek out over my favorite things in the world (craft beer…. cheese…. chocolate…. friends.)  And, though it’s still in the early phases, I think I’m finding that community in Philly.

You know what helped?

Well, that logo looks familiar!!

Philly’s very own Girls’ Pint Out!!

Though this was my second event with the ladies of PAGPO, it was definitely the first where I really got to meet and know some of the women. And they’re fantastic!

We all got together on Monday night at City Tap House for a DIY Flight-Night personalized for each gal. For $10, we each got 4-5 oz pours of different beers. And, since… tis the season and all, I just WENT FOR IT!

Fueled by Luna!! All pumpkin, all the time!

As you can see on the bottom there, I claimed the name “Pumqueen” for the night since every beer I was enjoying featured a Pumpkin spin. Lavery’s Stingy Jack, Old Forge Smashing Pumpkin, Long Trail’s Imperial Pumpkin, and Fegley’s Brew Works’ Devious Imperial Pumpkin!!

So much pumpkin on one paddle.

Unfortunately, there was some confusion at City Tap House which beer was which on the paddle. However, through careful deduction and detective-like skills (and some discussion with other ladies) I figured out my beers and their order (maybe). Either way, I’m PRETTY sure that my favorite was Long Trail’s Imperial Pumpkin. Smashing Pumpkin was a little low on carbonation, and the Brew Works’ Devious Imperial Pumpkin had a little sharpness to it that I didn’t love, and not enough pumpkin.

Unfortunately, one of the beers had a little extra something and, while I was chatting with my new lady friends over how we all got into craft beer (Brothers! Working at a brewery! boyfriends! Buddies! so many routes to the inevitable destination of beer love!) Into my mouth went….

A SHARD OF GLASS!!

Eeek.

I told one of the servers and, don’t worry, no one got hurt (no one = my mouth). They comped my paddle and, though I’m not sure if it was because he felt bad OR because this had been planned long before, Andy decided to treat all my new lady beer buddies to some special bottles!!

Andy, you the m-ANDY!

Sorry about my lousy iPhone shots, but I didn’t even consider bringing my fancy camera.

TREATS!!

My favorite was HANDS DOWN the Russian River Consecration Ale. Sour dark ale aged in Cabernet Sauvignon Barrels with CURRANTS!

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!@#?!$!?#

Glory, thy name is Consecration and I’d like to drink you ALWAYS.

Despite the glass-y shard, the night was fantastic and had me smiling the whole time.

Happiest camper.

And the best thing of all?

NEW BEER FRIENDS!!

Do you think the pink tint was to go with the GPO colors??

No one could replace my NCBeer family, but I’m SO STOKED to be starting a new bunch of beer loving pals!

Thanks to City Tap House for handling a problem with grace and courtesy, thanks to Andy for spoiling us (and introducing me to Consecration, my new love), AND thanks to my new buddies for sharing your Monday night craft beer loving with me!!

I wonder what tasty beer event is next on the horizon….

 

 

 

North Carolina Girls’ Pint Out Takes Big Boss by Storm

There’s been oodles of fitness lately, and plenty of  food, but you might be wondering where the beer’s been.  Well, don’t worry, because Wednesday night, I’m pretty sure I drank all of it.

See, one of my goals that I wrote in my fitbook was to drink less during the week. Namely, limit myself to drinking one weekday.  And yet, when there’s a special occasion like this one: NC GPO Big Operator Tour and Belgian Beer Tasting, hosted at one of my favorite Triangle breweries, Big Boss.  My resident beer buddy, Melissa, and I headed to Raleigh after work and, after cashing in a coupon for a free pizza at Brixx, hit up Big Boss for our private tour, tasting, and some other shenanigans. For $10, each lady received a tour of the brewery, a tasting of three Belgian style beers, a box of Elemental Chocolates, and a gorgeous etched glass to take home.

Sweet glassware

Talk about the deal of the century! But, as with all GPO events, the company stole the show.

New friends!

Oh goodness, the company and the beer.

Big Operator Lovin' by Melissa!

Big Boss was releasing their divine Big Operator black ale.  The brewery describes the beer as so:

Big Operator Belgian Black Raspberry is a full-flavored black ale.  The beer is infused with locally roasted cacao from Elemental Chocolate Company of Raleigh with added raspberry overnighted to us from the Pacific North West. Coming in at 8% abv please enjoy responsibly in a chalice of your choosing.

It was a truly decadent brew. It smelled malty and rich, a little chocolatey.  I didn’t really get the raspberry on the nose, but when I tasted it, that’s when I got it.  It was a hint of fruity perfection. So smooth, and not as boozey as expected.  It drank dangerously easy, but no worries, I wasn’t driving.

Ah, the tongue came out. Classy.

And the chocolate…. wow! I don’t throw around fondness for chocolate lightly, and tend to be more of a vanilla girl.  Well, consider me a convert.  From Elemental:

Elemental Chocolate brings you dark chocolate with whole, shelled cocoa bean centers. They are picked by hand. Roasted by hand. Crafted by hand. Just for you.

The company sources direct from co-ops and purchases certified organic cocoa beans. We are committed to sustainable business practices that help conserve the rain forests and let farmers make more than a living wage. We do not use GMO ingredients to make chocolate.

Elemental Chocolate is based in Raleigh, NC.  Thank you for supporting independent specialty food artisans, like Elemental Chocolate, & spreading the love that was used to make our fine products!

Fair trade, gourmet, and oh so dark.

Dig in, ladies!

I could eat my way through the entire rainforest that they get the cocoa from, it was that tasty.

Chocolate and beer, a match made in heaven, right?

As always, I had a blast with my fellow ladies and it made me wish that I lived closer to the Raleigh-based brewery so I could bask in its glory more regularly.  Then again, with beer, chocolates, and food trucks all around, I can’t imagine my waistline would appreciate that proximity.

Huge thanks to Dave and Robin at Big Boss for being such wonderful hosts. Oh, and for being adorable and in love.

True true true

I know everyone had a blast.  And for the sake of all you voyeurs, here’s some more pictures!

Educating us on the ingredients in the Belgian style beers

Trying a little Abita Abbey Ale!

BEER SCIENCE!

Lovely ladies

Now my tummy is full of shrimp & grits, and all that Wednesday night partying makes for a sleepy Thursday night. Fingers crossed the white noise app knocks me out fast.

 

Orange You Glad It’s Freezing Out?

No. The short and  simple answer to that question, for me at least, is no!

When I woke up in my apartment this morning, I was not unlike a groggy, angry bear who was forced out of hibernation too early.

I fear we have awakened a sleeping giant...

I was the opposite of a happy camper. I was an unhappy…. home-dweller.  It wasn’t pretty (as you can see.)

Lunchtime, though, did bring one happy winter reminder into my mind (and, later, into my belly):

The S&P Bears envy their juicy goodness

Navel oranges have made their way into the “cheap” season at my local grocery store, and the former-soccer player and future soccer-parent in me are both elated.

Last volleyball season, I can’t tell you the number of oranges I sliced and wore in my mouth like a neon smile while my teammates nibbled and looked on in confusion.  I flipping love oranges.

Stopping by the grocery store during lunch was also important because I needed some essentials.  Namely, veggies and sandwich thins.

Today after work, I have to head to Durham for some last minute preparations for the North Carolina Girls’ Pint Out Festival of BEERMAS along with some other errands, so I won’t be able to enjoy a home-cooked dinner like I am fond of doing.  Luckily, a can drain and a few chops into lunch, I had prepared both my midday meal and my evening ingredients.

La Banderita for the senorita!

For the lunch version, I whipped up some  tuna salad with low-fat mayo, cucumbers, and tomatoes.  With enough veggies stuffed inside of a wrap, a can of tuna can definitely make two sandwich “innards” for me, so this worked out perfectly.

ALSO, the La Banderita low-carb, low fat tortillas were a discovery of mine when I first started Weight Watchers, and I’ve sworn by them ever since.  With 81 calories, 6 grams of fiber, and 2 grams of fat, they are absolutely a staple in my household, especially for taco nights or quesadilla feasts.

Anyway, the final product was a very colorful wrap with spinach, tuna, avocado, tomato, cucumbers, and a final dusting of the (now empty) bag of Crackerful chips from my Foodie Penpal of November (sad to see them go…)

The giant looms over her meal, ready to pounce

My shadow over the food means I was starving and, promptly after this photo was snapped, scarfed my food down whilst watching Top Chef: Texas.  On the side were some steamed green beans/carrots with a butter sauce and some cranberries, from a frozen pack that was just waiting for me to eat them up.

I took the leftovers of this meal and turned it into a sandwich form for the evening realizing that, while I don’t love to go three meals in a row with the same food, two for me is pretty normal.  I realized long ago that cooking single serving meals was a pain, expensive, and a little depressing.

Now, when I’m in the kitchen roasting up enough vegetables for a small village, I pretend that maybe that village is coming over for dinner. (Fact: They never do, so I just eat their portions gradually over time.)

I’ve got a bag of goodies for later loaded with an orange, a sandwich, and some green beans, ready to take on whatever Durham’s got to give.  And, despite the freezing temperatures (of 50 degrees. I’m a weakling when it comes to temperature), I plan on finishing out No Heat November in style, orange in hand.

And in just two days, I’ll be starting off December the best way possible.  Suds and Santa style!

Just call me Santa's Little Helper

Do you have any fruits/veggies that you anxiously await for each year?

North Carolina Girls’ Pint Out: We’re Busy Bees

Hey there friends and neighbors! Hope you’re all surviving Irene, that clap-having jezebel who seems to be ruining everyone’s plans. I was supposed to be in Ocean City, NJ prepping for my cousin’s bridal shower. Instead, the whole island was put under a mandatory evacuation, and I spent some time gathering the essentials in the Wilmington, Delaware Total Wine.  Which. Is. Epic.

3 bottles of wine, a handle of rum, pick six, pretzel crisps, AND 40 lbs of ice. We're ready for anything.

And I have a hot date tonight with this little scene:

As I said before, Happy hour is my happy hour.

But even though my spirit of choice is rum and coke with my mom and dad tonight, it wasn’t too long ago that I joined the fine ladies of North Carolina Girls’ Pint Out at Busy Bee Cafe in downtown Raleigh.  Not too long at all…….

(cue hazy cloudy mist that brings us back to August 18th, 2011. Or maybe just imagine Wayne and Garth waving their hands for a flashback….)

Party on Wayne, party on Garth.

After another successful glass night at Rockfish with the folks representing Palm Brewery (a new tasty beer from Belgium!) I bid everyone a fond farewell.

Thanks, for repping it hard, fellers.

I only enjoyed a single brew, but knew that there were some tasty ones in store at Busy Bee.

The Hive gets a little crazy with their beer list!

The options seemed endless.  The two beers I personally featured in my writeup were:

Dogfish Head Namaste, often translated as “The spirit in me respects the spirit in you”, is Dogfish Head’s way to respect your thirst for beer in the hot summertime. This Belgian White is made with dried organic orange slices, fresh cut lemongrass and a bit of coriander, and is perfect to pair with spicy fare, so try to get some kick from Busy Bee’s Pork Burger, featuring sriracha and Bok Choy slaw.

and

St. Louis Gueuze Fond Tradition: (alas, this beer ran out faster than we had the chance to feature it!) Interested in stepping up your beer game? Step outside the bottle and try this sour, traditional Geuze style beer. A tart beer with lemony fruitiness, you can enjoy the crisp, clean mouthfeel that puckers the lips and makes you crave the creaminess of cheeses, such as Busy Bee’s Baked Mac and Cheese.

Here's me screaming my face off as I talk about beer. (photo credit to Ben Woodward, click to hit up the facebook source)

There were some amazing little treats (for free) provided by the glorious host, Busy Bee!!

Tots are ALWAYS part of my happy hour.

Although this was only our second event, we had over 30 craft beer lovin’ ladies (and some especially brave gentlemen!)

Wow. We're popular.

We upped our profession game:

Sign in sheets! You want a shirt? SIGN OUR SHEET!

We also met some local folks who are keeping it real in the craft beer scene!

Ted from Bottle Revolution!

Ted from Bottle Revolution came and handed out some camo koozies (in case we have to drink while undercover… in the forest).  His store’s going to be opening soon with awesome features like A Year of Beer Club and pre-packaged craft beer coolers (LIKE IF YOU NEED THEM FOR FOOTBALL TAILGATING!!)

I may have even met my soulmate in Somer, a fellow blogger in the Triangle who’s interested in reproductive health and advocacy, UNC, craft beer, and my brother! (well, maybe not my brother yet…. but one day.)

True True and we didn't even know it!

I’m so proud of my fellow planners and coordinators, and I hope that they’re all proud of what we put together!!

Just a few of the founding gals. Again, photo credit to Ben Woodward, click for source!

If you’re a lady, and you like craft beer, and you live in/around the Triangle (or LOVE to travel wicked far), and/or you want to be my friend (duh.), follow NCGirlsPintOut on Twitter or check us out on facebook!

Word on the street is we have another excellent event coming in Mid-September…. Stay tuned!

What’s your favorite appetizer to pair with beer?

Women and Chick Beer vs. Craft Beer: A Response

Good Saturday morning, y’all!  Hope you’re already enjoying your weekend, and doing lots of amazing things.  So far, I’ve Body Attacked, had a fantastic double date with my workout buddy (and mistress of the killer workout, the  Death Deck, Melissa) and her guy, and snacked heavily on some froyo and some quality brewskis.  But more on that, later.  See, right now, I have something to talk about that’s been on my mind for the past two days but, as I was swamped at work/working overtime to make up for coming in late on Monday, I had little/no time to blog, tweet, facebook, gchat, or any other fun social media that I love.  But now it’s time.

A few days ago, an article came out and swam around the twittersphere.  The article, from New Zealand’s The Marlsborough Press, was entitled Women and Beer: The taste test results are in.  To sum up the article, a sort of experiment was conducted inviting women who don’t normally drink beer to come out and try two new beers which have been specifically designed to appeal to the ladies.

The two beers in question: Valkyrie Brynhild and Beltane Maiden Source

To expand: one, the Beltane Maiden, was flavored with lemon zest to give it a “sweet citrus flavor”, described as “light in body, low in bitterness, and with a velvety finish.” While some women found it refreshing, others were turned off by the cloudiness, yeastiness, and called it “absolutely disgusting.”

The next beer they tasted was called Valkyrie Brynhild golden ale, which was described as “gentle hopped” and flavored with “hokey pokey” (I have no clue what that means, but I heard that’s what it’s all about…) Again, mixed results ranging from “I’d choose this over a glass of wine” to “drinkable, not too much taste.”  No real winner here, either.

The author of this article, Geoff Griggs (who some of you may know if you spend a lotta time going to beer tastings in New Zealand) found that, when polling the women afterwards, and asking what it is about beer that women don’t like, the answers ranged from taste to the “bloated” and “gassy” feelings they get.  Others focused on the image of beer drinking, traditionally associated with young males getting obliterated at parties.

With the advertising culture of beer obviously geared towards males, with most featuring concepts like this one:

the women are merely accessories are prizes sought by the likes of (yuck) Carlos Mencia and friends.  It is no wonder that women find the image of beer drinking a bit off-putting. One beer manufacturer is even trying to combat this stereotype with “Chick Beer“.

I'll take sexist bottle designs for 800.

Allegedly, this beer won’t “weigh you down” with less than 100 calories per bottle, the flavor is “soft and smooth”, and it’s only “lightly carbonated” to avoid that “bloaty” feeling.  Also, from the site:

Chick Beer finally gives women a beer choice that suits their tastes and their style. The bottle is designed to reflect the beautiful shape of a woman in a little black dress.  The six-pack looks like you are carrying your beer in a hip stylish, purse.  Chick’s unique reflective bottle blings you up!  It’s fun, fabulous, and female!

Ok, we get it.  Lots of times, girls like to shop, to wear dresses, and to have jewelry.  But I have to admit, this beer makes me feel like my fondness for shiny things (Seriously, I’m like a raccoon around Swarovski ) is being mocked, and then sold back to me.  This beer truly just sounds like a flavorless, low carbonated light beer. And there are enough of them to go around.

As a lady of lager (pulled that one from the Girls Pint Out description!!) myself, I have to say that this was an incredibly interesting look into why my breed is a rare one indeed.

Too many women that I know have zero knowledge of the rich, diverse world of craft beers, of the subtle pairings of beers with foods, and of the fact that you don’t have to drink enough to get drunk to enjoy them (thus, avoiding that bloated feeling! I don’t know if I’ve ever been bloated off a single beer.)

Likely, many of them only remember beers from the days of college or partying, where they were hoisted up for kegstands of warm, cheap light beer or were tossed a can of some swill. It’s no wonder, then, that they shifted their interest to the more “refined” wine.

I'll have you know, this was a kegstand of Carolina Brewery Amber Ale. GET ON MY LEVEL!

I certainly don’t think that beers should be developed in order to appear “girly” (just like I didn’t think it was the best practice for Camel to introduce Camel No. 9 in hopes for more women smokers) but only because I think it creates a beerdrinker that will only want that kind of brew. Education can make a world of difference, and women may learn to embrace more beers if they realize what else is out there (and that it’s not all cheap, nasty cans or deep, dark stouts.)

Bottoms up to Craft Beer, ladies!

There’s a world of beer out there, just waiting for you to give it a try.  And even though the bottles may not look like little black dresses or “bling you out”, I promise there are some pretty ones out there that can match just about any outfit you put together.