There are a lot of factors that go into my identity, including my passion for craft beer. Another is the fact that I am Type 1 Diabetic. Join me today, November 14, in wearing blue to spread awareness on World Diabetes Day.
I am often asked if I am even “allowed” to drink beer as a diabetic. The short answer is yes, as long as I do so responsibly. For my fellow diabetics (or friends of diabetics) out there, I thought I would share this great infographic I found about Diabetes & Alcohol:
Thank you for all of your support in spreading awareness and searching for a cure. Living with a chronic illness that is so often misunderstood can be completely infuriating at times, but the love and hope from my support system is what gets me through.
Today I raise my beer to toast all my fellow Diabadasses out there, living everyday with their heads held high.
Join me and JDRF on our journey to create a world without T1D, ending its impact on millions. jdrf.org/T1DLooksLikeMe
Labor Day weekend has come and past, and I am slowly saying farewell to summer. I am excited for autumn, but won’t truly be able to embrace fall until the weather cools off. To help with my transition, I decided to finish off the last of my Grapefruit IPAs and share some micro-reviews with you! You’ll notice these are less serious, more train-of-thought reviews than my usual. Enjoy!
This beer has been a summer staple for me since Perrin first released it in the spring of 2013. Brewed with real grapefruit, this beer is super sessionable, and balances out the traditional grapefruit tartness with a not-so-subtle sweet malty backbone. A refreshing pool, river, or lakeside beer. Perrin’s Grapefruit IPA is not nearly as hoppy as I prefer my IPAs, so if you are also looking for something a bit more IPA-like check out Juicy, the Grapefruit IPA’s big sister. Juicy is an Imperial Grapefruit IPA, brewed with 12 different hops and twice the amount of grapefruit – an untamed yet refined citrus bomb of goodness!
Grapefruit Sculpin from Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits in San Diego, CA Style: India Pale Ale | ABV: 7% | IBUs: 70
This was actually my least favorite of the bunch, which really surprised me. Sculpin IPA (the base beer) is a really solid IPA of which I love, and I am also a huge fan of the Pineapple Sculpin. The thing that got to me was the aftertaste – it was just TOO grapefruity. I think the bitterness of grapefruit masked the beer’s complexity throughout the palate, and by the end it just tasted like straight grapefruit juice. Well, boozy grapefruit juice. This beer was not for me, but if you dig grapefruit juice it might be worth giving a try.
Grapefruit Jungle (GFJ) is one of Sun King’s annual one-off specialty beers. I had the pleasure of attending Sun King Brewing’s 7th Anniversary Party and release of this delicious beer earlier this summer. The 2016 GFJ has a super fruity nose – aromatics of grapefruit, tangerine, and apricot. The taste on this bad boy is a well-balanced roller coaster of bitter and citrusy hops, with malt undertones that keep it from getting out of hand. This careful combination of Amarillo (ruby grapefruit), Simcoe (resiny pine), and Cascade (sweet orange zest) hops make this not only a solid Grapefruit IPA, but a solid IPA in general.
Grapefruit Dead a collaboration between 18th Street Brewing in Hammond, IN and Mikkeller of Copenhagen, Denmark Style: Double India Pale Ale | ABV: 9.7% | IBUs: 75
Grapefruit Dead is my favorite of the four on this list. As a Double IPA it naturally boasts a higher level of hoppy delight. This beer is brewed with grapefruit juice, grapefruit zest, and – like Sun King – utilizes the Amarillo hop to fully capitalize on the bright bitter yet citrusy flavor. The front of the palate on this beer presents a sweet, almost caramel-like malt combined with grapefruit rind, and quickly slides into a wild garden of resiny grapefruit bitterness. This has a smooth mouth feel despite the occasional bitter pucker and ends with a pleasantly warm, boozy finish. Again, this is not only a solid Grapefruit IIPA, but a solid IIPA in general.
Have you had any of these beers? Do you have a favorite grapefruit beer? Is there a beer you would like to see me review? Let me know!
I first became a fan of Prairie Artisan Ales when my husband Luke was in Tulsa for a work trip. He brought back a variety of their beer and they instantly won my heart (and taste buds) over. Now whenever I see Prairie at my local bottle shop, I’m inclined to pick up as many bottles as I can carry.
As the end of summer grows near and my husband and I return to work, we knew we couldn’t let things get boring and bland. Backyard sparklers while drinking BOMB! Imperial Stout is one great way to make sure this summer goes out with a bang!
BOMB! is an Imperial Stout aged on espresso beans, chocolate, vanilla beans, and ancho chile peppers. It poured the color of dark espresso, topped with a quickly dissipating taupe head. The aroma was immediately led by a strong vanilla presence, which tapered off to distinct chili notes and the subtle underlying presence of coffee. My first sip was incredibly smooth with moderate carbonation. Sweet vanilla and earthy chocolate danced across my palate, the sweetness kept in check by the presence of a bitter espresso backbone. The chili spice didn’t show up until the end, which provided a pleasant, warm finish to the whole ensemble. This is definitely the best use of chili spice in beer I’ve had to date, primarily because the peppers aren’t aggressive, but are instead used to accentuate the other quality flavors. BOMB! clocks in at 13% ABV and 65 IBUs. For such a high alcohol content, this beer was far from boozy. The incredible balance of flavors mask the high-alcohol taste.
For those of you who love a good stout, I highly recommend this beer! I am a big fan of coffee beer, but tend to tread carefully when it comes to spicy beer – I have a fairly low heat tolerance. It takes a well-balanced, flavorful array that doesn’t leave my mouth and throat in pain. BOMB! did not disappoint.
Have you had BOMB! from Prairie Artisan Ales? What did you think of it? Is there a beer you would like to see me review? Let me know!
My first Polka Dots & Pints beer review was written nearly two years ago, after a trip to Toronto and a visit to Bellwoods Brewery. I adored every beer I tasted, but especially fell in love with Donkey Venom, a Brett Barrel-Aged Porter. It is easily among my top 5 favorite beers of all time. This weekend I was fortunate enough to travel back to Toronto and be reunited with this incredible place and their artful product. We had a great evening with old friends, delicious food, and excellently crafted brews. Trust me on this one, Bellwoods Brewery is a beer destination you do not want to miss.
Bonus: This time we were smart enough to snag a couple of bottles to take back to the States with us, so expect to hear more about those brews soon.
Yesterday I hosted a Michigan IPA Tasting Event at our home. Six of us gathered around the table and shared beer, stories, and laughter. I had a lot of fun hosting, so if you’ve ever considered it, I say – do it! Here is a little advice to get you started:
Pick a Theme
Do you want to sample beers from one brewery? Do you want to sample the same style of beers from a variety of breweries? Do you want to share with people your favorite beer of each style? Once you decide the theme of your tasting, it will help determine what comes next.
Picking my theme was easy, because I had beer that I needed help getting rid of. Generally IPAs are meant to be enjoyed fresh, and my cellar was piling up with an abundance of Michigan IPAs that needed to be drank fast!
Pick Your Guests
First, you’ll need to determine how many guests you’d like to invite. Do you plan on having an intimate around-the-table tasting, or a larger mix n’ mingle party? It’s also a good idea to take into consideration the types of guests you want to have. If you’re planning on a more formal tasting event that thoroughly dissects the appearance, aroma, taste, mouthfeel, etc. – make sure you are inviting experienced and knowledgeable beer drinkers. If your event is going to be more casual and will include people with a variety of beer experience, make sure you facilitate it accordingly. You don’t want to disappoint your fellow beer junkies, and you definitely don’t want to scare off or intimidate new craft beer drinkers.
For yesterday’s event I invited friends that appreciate craft beer, but all have different levels of knowledge on the beer spectrum. In this instance, the environment was a positive one which facilitated an open discussion of beer knowledge.
Pick Your Beer
Once you know your theme and how many guests you plan on having, it is time to pick your beer! It’s fun to serve rare or unique beer your guests have never had before, but it might also be good to serve familiar beer to act as the tasting ‘control group’ to the other beers. How many different beers do you plan on having? We had 12 different IPAs, divided into two rounds – but I think if I were having a more formal tasting event, I would limit myself to 6 in order to prevent palate fatigue and mental exhaustion. Now is also the time to determine how much of each beer you will need. Are you having enough people to warrant a pony keg, or do you just need a couple bottles from your local bottle shop? Remember, a tasting event is different from a drinking event – each guest only needs a couple of ounces of each beer. Also keep in mind that a couple of ounces can add up to a lot of ounces, depending on how many different beers you are serving.
Beer. Purchase your beer ahead of time, and make sure you store it in a cool, dry place. On the day of your event, make sure the beer is served at proper tasting temperature for the style. Beer that is too cold is hard for our taste buds to taste.
Tasting Cups. Remember, these only need to be a few ounces. I used clear plastic cups with a wide mouth, so guests could easily evaluate color and catch the aroma.
Tasting Mats. I made tasting mats for each round of tasting, with ordered, labeled spots for each beer. I also included other information about the beer, like the brewery name, ABV, and IBUs.
Beer Score Cards. While my event did not include formal judging, I wanted to provide my guests with a place to take notes about each beer if they were so inclined. I also printed off a page with some tasting “suggestions” and some simple beer vocabulary.
Snacks & Water. I intentionally picked snacks that act as palate neutralizers or that traditionally pair with beer. We had pretzels, popcorn, bread, and cheese. Make sure you also provide your guests with plenty of water. The idea behind the snacks and water are to help clear the taste buds between beer samples, and also to help prevent any major drunkenness caused by an empty stomach. Aside from the snacks, our group was small enough that we were also able to order carry-out once the event was underway.
On the day of your event, set up as much in advance as possible. I set out each spot at the table with the tasting mats, beer score cards, pens, napkins, and suggestion sheets well before everyone arrived. I also threw some flowers in an old growler, which made a beautiful centerpiece. I put snacks out and poured waters 15 minutes prior to everyone’s arrival, and started playing music 5 minutes before showtime. In case of late arrivals, I advise you do not start pouring beers until everyone is there and ready to start. Talk to everyone, and make sure they are comfortable and enjoying themselves. Keep an eye out for overconsumption, and be aware that as the host you may have to provide a way home or a place to crash for the night if someone goes over the top. (Fortunately, I did not encounter anything remotely close to this last night.) Consider having a party favor you can send home with people at the end of the night – mine was simple, I sent my guests home with a variety 6-pack of the beers they ranked the highest.
Overall, my tasting party was a success and I am really glad that I did it. My guests were great, and brought some of their own delicious beverages to share – including a homebrewed Classic American Pilsner and some homemade wine. Thanks to everyone that came out! I look forwarding to hosting my next one.
Have you ever hosted a beer tasting event? What did you find that worked and didn’t work for you? If you were to host a beer tasting event, what would your theme be?
As I’m sure many of you know, yesterday was National Beer Day. My husband Luke and I are recovering after a bout of terrible illness, and we knew we had to do something good to celebrate. I decided it was time to crack open the Imperial Biscotti Break I had been cellaring – a very good decision!
Imperial Biscotti Break is an Imperial Stout. It poured a silky jet-black, with a brief caramel colored head about a finger high. The first notes to hit my nose were espresso and sweet chocolate, elevated with wafts of roasted malt. I also picked up on a subtle licorice scent. The first sip surprised me with its silky, creamy mouthfeel. Sweet milk chocolate and vanilla flavors lead the charge at the front of the palate, carried on a consistent backbone of darkly roasted espresso. There was a subtle coffee bitterness that lingered at the end, and this was also the only time I noticed the slight burn from the alcohol. While this beer initially seemed very sweet, I was pleased that the coffee balanced it out well. Imperial Biscotti Break clocks in at 11.5% ABV. For those of you who love a good stout, I highly recommend this beer! I know Evil Twin Brewing does some variations on this delicious brew, including one aged in Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Barrels that I would love to get my hands on.
For more beer reviews, check out the old Polka Dots & Pints site here.
Have you had Imperial Biscotti Break? What did you think of it? Is there a beer you would like to see me review? Let me know!
Boozy ice cream treats have been a thing long before the recent fad of Not Your Father’s Root Beer floats (just ask the character Doc in John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row). Before we get into a big discussion about whether or not NYFRB is even a beer, let me say up front, that is not what this post is about. This post is simply about floats made with craft beer.
The story goes that the original ice cream float was invented by Robert McCay Green in 1874 when he made the serendipitous decision to use ice cream in his sodas when he ran out of ice. Some of the most common varieties of ice cream floats are root beer floats, coke floats, and Boston Coolers; and in Australia and New Zealand ice cream floats are called “spiders”. Thanks to creative mixologists and at-home beer & ice cream lovers, beer floats have earned a spot in today’s culture.
As a lover of craft beer and a lover of ice cream, I’ve been mixing the two for quite a long time. The question I’ve always been faced with is: Is it in poor taste to mix an artfully-made, quality craft beer with ice cream? I have friends that strongly protest fruit garnish for beer and beer cocktails horrify them – so the idea of tainting their beer with ice cream is something they turn their nose up at. On the contrary, I also know brewers and other members of the industry that love these decadent treats, and even promote their beer to be used in this dessert. Personally? I don’t feel guilty indulging in the craft beer float, but I do keep the below guidelines in mind:
Guidelines for Making A Craft Beer Float:
Respect the craft. Craft beer is an art form. Before diving into a beer float, drink the beer by itself the way it was created to be consumed. Explore the flavor and nuances of the beer, and respect that this beer is someone’s art.
Complement the craft. If you drive a luxury car, you put premium gas in it. If you drink craft beer, don’t put cheap ice cream in it! Find a quality made, carefully crafted ice cream to go with that quality made, carefully crafted beer! I personally recommend Love’s grass-fed dairy ice cream or Graeter’s handcrafted French pot ice cream – but look around for other craft ice cream in your area. Additionally, make sure you are using beer styles and ice cream flavors that complement each other. My favorite combination tends to be vanilla ice cream with dark, malty beers (my personal favorites usually include notes of burnt caramel, toasted malt, espresso, and bourbon!)
Pour with care. When the carbonated beer hits the ice cream, it’s a recipe for overflow. Pour slowly and carefully, and prepare to slurp up the excess! Enjoy!
How do you feel about the combination of craft beer and ice cream? Are you a fan of craft beer floats? What is your favorite beer/ice cream combo? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below!