Saw this at my local bottle shop, and was immediately intrigued. An IPA brewed with marshmallows? I couldn’t imagine it, so I knew I had to try it. Besides, the can design is awesome!
Shploing!! Mango S’mores is an IPA brewed with marshmallows, graham crackers, salt and lactose sugar with mangos and vanilla added. I love IPAs and I love s’mores, but I really couldn’t imagine the two meeting. It poured from the can a hazy, straw color with about a finger of off-white head. The head dissipated really quickly. The aroma was exactly what I was hoping for: strong mango scent, with a distinct vanilla marshmallow smell cutting through. The taste was prominently tropical fruit and citrusy hops. I picked up on an incredibly subtle vanilla aftertaste. The malt flavor definitely took the back seat to the hops, though I could see it being described as graham crackery (I suspect this to have a lot more to do with the actual malts used than the fact that it was brewed with graham crackers, but who knows?) There was a bit of sediment at the bottom, but not invasive or so much that bothered me. I’ll be honest, I expected a lot more marshmallow flavor than there was from this beer; but I was also worried it would be too sweet for my liking which it was not. I had fun trying this, and there were some subtle unique flavors, but overall I would categorize this as a basic, but solid, India Pale Ale. I highly recommend it for the bitter hopheads, but suggest you stay away if you’re only in it for the marshmallow. Shploing!! Mango S’mores IPA clocks in at 7% ABV.
Have you tried Shploing!! Mango S’mores? What was your opinion of it? What is the most unique combination of flavors you’ve had in a beer? I’d love to hear from you, please feel free to comment below!
As a beer lover with a film degree and a passion for film noir, I couldn’t pass up a beer called Femme Fatale, especially if it comes from Evil Twin.
Femme Fatale Brett is an IPA fermented with brettanomyces and hopped with Galaxy, Citra, Summit, and Cascade hops. It poured a hazy, bright, glowing orange and had a huge, frothy head with incredible retention. The aroma was of fermented fruit, notes of lemon, and sweet banana esters. The initial flavor was strong citrus and apricot, while a consistent sweet yeast undertone ran across the full palate. Mid palate was tangy, with a distinct brett taste dancing across the tongue, and a subtle biscuity hint reminiscent of sea salt. The lingering aftertaste was both sweet and funky. Despite the large head initially, the mouthfeel lacked carbonation and was thin and flatter than expected. If you are into brettanomyces and citrusy belgian ales, I highly recommend you face the funk and taste this incredibly drinkable beer. Femme Fatal Brett clocks in at 6% ABV.
Have you had Femme Fatale Brett? What did you think of it? Is there a beer you would like to see me review? Let me know!
I have a mental illness, and I choose to drink alcohol. I know that I am certainly not alone in this boat, and I don’t necessarily think that it is a bad thing. Having a mental illness makes many aspects of life more complicated – including drinking alcohol, but it can certainly be doable if you are informed, safe, and intentional.
Know Why You Drink.
I drink beer because I love the art form of brewing. I drink beer because it smells and tastes good. I drink beer because I enjoy sharing the experience with people. I drink because sometimes I just plain like the way it makes me feel. All of these reasons are fine reasons to occasionally drink beer.
When I find myself wanting to drink because I am stressed, or because I am sad, or because I had a bad day – these are warning signs.
When I find myself wanting to drink to numb my feelings or to checkout of reality or to black out – these are MAJOR red flags.
All people, but especially people struggling with mental health, should take the time to evaluate why they drink.
Know How Your Medication Interacts With Alcohol BEFORE You Drink.
Many people with mental health challenges are prescribed medications, or choose to self-medicate using illegal substances. Mixing both legal or illegal drugs with alcohol can be absolutely lethal. If you are on a new medication, find out how it interacts with alcohol. This can usually be done with a quick Google search. Keep in mind that even if an alcohol/drug interaction isn’t deadly, drinking could still significantly impact the drug’s effectiveness.
Don’t stop taking an antidepressant or other medication just so that you can drink. Most antidepressants require taking a consistent, daily dose to maintain a constant level in your system and work as intended. Stopping and starting your medications can make your mental health worse.1
Know Your Limit.
Everyone’s body reacts to alcohol differently. Keeping this in mind, there are a few standard things to consider:
-Smaller individuals are effected by alcohol faster than larger individuals.
-Food slows down the rate of absorption – that’s why alcohol affects you more quickly on an empty stomach.2
-Alcohol has a more severe effect on a biological female’s liver than on a biological male’s. As well as being unable to ‘break down’ alcohol as quickly, it takes longer to repair itself when damaged.3
-National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says that men should not exceed 4 drinks per day or a total of 14 per week and women should not to exceed 3 drinks a day or a total of 7 per week.4
-Alcohol affects you in a way that changes your judgement, depth perception, as well as vital motor skills required to drive safely. It’s easy to think you are driving normally when truly you are not.5
-Give alcohol-free days a-go. If you drink regularly, your body starts to build up a tolerance to alcohol. This is why many medical experts recommend taking regular days off from drinking to ensure you don’t become addicted to alcohol.6
Know the Facts.
-Regular drinking lowers the levels of serotonin in your brain – a chemical that helps regulate your mood.6
-People with bipolar disorder turn to alcohol in an attempt to quiet their symptoms, especially manic symptoms.7
-Extreme levels of drinking can occasionally cause psychosis. Psychotic symptoms can also occur when very heavy drinkers suddenly stop drinking and develop a condition known as ‘delirium tremens’.6
-More than one-third of suicide victims used alcohol just prior to death.8
-Nearly 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the United States.9
-In 2014, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 9,967 deaths (31 percent of overall driving fatalities).9
This applies to all people, but is especially pertinent to people with a mental illness: You should control your drinking, your drinking should not control you.
If you are starting to feel out of control of your drinking, if the idea of going a day alcohol-free seems impossible, or the symptoms of your mental illness are getting worse – get help. Talk to your doctor, or seek other professional help. Additionally, here are some resources for individuals challenged with a mental illness or who need help controlling their alcohol intake:
Crisis Text Line:Text HELLO to 741741 from anywhere in the USA.
Crisis Text Line serves anyone, in any type of crisis, providing access to free, 24/7 support and information.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.
SAMHSA’s National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.
Alcoholics Anonymous: http://www.aa.org/ If you are concerned with a drinking problem, wish to learn more about Alcoholics Anonymous or want to find A.A. near you, we can help you.
I want to say that I am writing from a personal perspective. I believe that there is a social stigma surrounding mental health, and I feel the best way to challenge this stigma is to talk about my experience. I am faced with multiple mental health obstacles, perhaps the most challenging being major depressive disorder and hypomanic episodes. I have gone through counseling and therapy, I have tried many types of medicine, I have been through inpatient treatment at a psych hospital, I have participated in multiple wonderful partial hospitalization programs, I have experienced success, I have experienced progress, and I have experienced failure. I know people challenged by mental health, and I have lost people to their mental health. What I’m writing about today is one perspective, my own, and in no way do I mean to offend or step on anyone’s toes – I merely wish to share my thoughts in hope of helping and informing others.
If you’re like me, the holidays can be a stressful and overwhelming time. So much baking, decorating, and snow clearing to do! Not to mention, you want to look your holiday best for that special mistletoe kiss. Never fear – I am here to present 4 Beers To Get You Through The Holidays.
The Perfect Cookie-Pairing Beer: Moloko Milk Stout from 3 Floyds Brewing Co. Skip the milk, leave this milk stout out for Santa!
Moloko Milk Stout pours a deep, dark black and is topped with a tan head. It also leaves gorgeous lacing down the glass as you drink. The aroma of this beer is subtle, hinting at sweet chocolate toffee and roasty malts. The taste starts with lightly charred marshmallow, and gives way to a sugary sweet chocolate vanilla swirl of flavor with hints of espresso at the tail. This beer is well balanced, and the alcohol does not over power at all. I love the creamy, present body. Perfect for fresh out of the oven sugar cookies!
The Perfect Decorating Beer: Deal with the Devil Double Pale Ale from 18th Street Brewery Because sometimes you wonder if you have to make a deal with the devil just to untangle those Christmas lights.
I was just recently fortunate enough to try this beer over Thanksgiving break, and I’m very glad I did! Deal with the Devil pours a hazy, dark amber color with a solid white head. The aromatics of this beer won me over instantly – strong juicy citrus notes, with a subtle but distinct sweet bready undertone. This beer tastes similarly to how it smells – sweet orange zest and slightly more bitter grapefruit notes, tropical mango, and delivered by a well balanced caramel malt throughout. Hoppy, citrusy, and not too much alcohol – they know the way to my heart. This was one of the best new beer I’ve had in a while!
The Perfect Post-Snow Shoveling Beer: Dragon’s Milk Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout with Coffee & Chocolate from New Holland Brewing Co. Some people want coffee or cocoa after being out in the cold. Let the bourbon, coffee, and chocolate of this brew knock off the edge instead!
Did you know that Dragon’s Milk was one of the early bourbon barrel-aged stouts in the US? That was way back in 2001, and now the barrel-aged scene has, obviously, EXPLODED. Not only was Dragon’s Milk one of the early BBA stouts on the scenes, it remains to be one of the most solid. Then New Holland decided to take their already delicious beer, age it with coffee & chocolate, and TA-DA! – you have one of their most sought after Reserves.
The Perfect Mistletoe Beer:
Speedway Stout from AleSmith Brewing Co. Because in the end it doesn’t matter if you get kissed or not – this beer is so good you’ll want to give it a smooch!
There is a lot of hype surrounding this beer – and it does not disappoint. In the words of AleSmith themselves, “Speedway Stout’s ominous, pitch-black appearance has become a hallmark of this modern-day classic. Chocolate and roasted malts dominate the flavor, supported by notes of dark fruit, toffee, and caramel. A healthy dose of locally-roasted coffee from Ryan Bros. Coffee, Inc. added to each batch brings out the beer’s dark chocolate flavors and enhances its drinkability. Despite its intensity, Speedway Stout’s fine carbonation and creamy mouthfeel make it very smooth and surprisingly easy to drink.” As many people have shared, this beer absolutely improves with age. So why not pull a finely aged bottle out of your beer cellar to set the romantic tone for your special mistletoe smooch?
What beers do YOU sip to get through (or celebrate) the holidays? Which beer makes the best Christmas gift? Have you have any of these? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section!
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!