I Tried It: Beer Cocktails Part 1, Baby Steps

I am curious about all the ways beer can be enjoyed outside of drinking it from a glass, from cooking to cocktails. However, my experience in mixing beer with anything is nonexistent. I'm working my way up from drinking my beer "straight" to being able to order a craft beer cocktail at some hip place and having at least an idea of what to expect. That being said, the first installment of my experiments with craft beer cocktails this week starts out relatively tame, with three beer cocktails mixed with cider, other beer (still counts), and espresso.

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I Tried It: Red Clay Sunday Brunch

Here is a fact about me: if you put cereal (especially the sugary kind my mom would never buy for me) on top of a doughnut, I will buy that doughnut. Every time. If anyone out there ever wants to trap me with the old Box-and-Stick Trap, put a doughnut with cereal on top of it under the box as bait. 

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I Tried It: Windy Hill Orchard and Cider Mill

Sometimes I take a break from craft beer to enjoy craft cider. Also, as hard as it can be for me to believe sometimes, not everyone I know is a fan of beer and thus does not want to wile away hours in breweries and bottle shops or at other beer-centric activities. Thus, a visit to Windy Hill Orchard and Cider Mill was in order.

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I Tried It: Lenny Boy Brewing Company

I went into Lenny Boy already knowing that I liked their beer, so I was just as excited to see the space as I was to drink the beer. If you’re not familiar with wild ales or kombucha, Lenny Boy is a great place to go learn more about them. If you are familiar with wild ales, then you will find yourself in good company at Lenny Boy and will still probably find yourself, like I did, delightfully surprised with their creative and elegant beers.

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I Tried It: Beer, (Veggie) Bacon, & Blue Cheese Potato Salad

You can get the entire Beeroness recipe here, but the main ingredients are (duh) bacon, red potatoes, blue cheese, and beer, specifically IPA. Since I had just gotten my Chicago beer supply restocked (and because I wanted an excuse to open it), I used Space Station Middle Finger from Three Floyds. And yes, I know, I know - Space Station Middle Finger is technically a Pale Ale, but c'mon.

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I Tried It: Beer & Cheese Pairing

If you’re curious about pairing beer with food, I think it’s helpful to start out on a smaller scale with something like a beer and cheese pairing because the legwork of figuring out what pairs well with what is already done for you. It’s helpful to break down the flavor components of the beer and the cheese, which I did in a PowerPoint (I can’t un-nerd myself, even when I’m doing things for fun), so that you understand the why behind the pairings, but there is no guesswork involved. It’s like coloring in a coloring book rather than picking up a paintbrush and expecting to be the next Monet.

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I Tried It: Beer Pairing by Julia Herz and Gwen Conley

Beer Pairing: The Essential Guide from the Pairing Pros by Julia Herz and Gwen Conley is a book about, unsurprisingly, pairing beer and food. Beer Pairing walks its readers through the basics of beer, perception, and tasting, and then moves onto providing detailed instructions for which beers pair the best with which foods and why.

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I Tried It: Walmart's Private Label Beer

You may have heard a few months ago that Walmart had quietly started selling its own beer. If you didn’t hear that, you’re hearing it now: Walmart has entered the “craft” beer market with four private label beers contract brewed by Trouble Brewing: Red Flag Amber, Cat’s Away IPA, After Party Pale Ale, and ‘Round Midnight Belgian White. A twelve can variety pack of all four beers retails for about $12.00.

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I Tried It: Opening a Beer Without a Bottle Opener

I usually have no less than two bottle openers on my person at all times, except all those times I need a bottle opener and that sinking feeling comes over me as I pat my pockets and reach for my purse only to find my suspicions are correct: no bottle opener!

Fear not, for a quick Google search opened my eyes to the world of opening beers without a bottle opener.

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I Tried It: American & International Lagers Blind Taste Test

Being a craft beer person, it’s not often I drink beers that fall into the rather euphemistically named American Light Lager, American Lager, and International Pale Lager categories, such as Bud Light, Budweiser, and Heineken. I’m not above buying a gallon of Budweiser at a sporting event or drinking a Miller Lite at a cookout if that’s all that’s available.

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I Tried It: Gluten-Free & Gluten-Reduced Beer

Overall, my gluten-free and gluten-reduced experience was a positive one. While I probably won’t seek out gluten-free or gluten-reduced beers solely because of their gluten content or lack thereof, I definitely won’t skip them over for fear they’ll taste strange or not like beer.

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I Tried It - Thirsty Nomad Brewing Co.

After a few delays, Thirsty Nomad Brewing will officially opening soon. I had the privilege of being able to get a sneak peek this past weekend. You can check out the brewery at the grand opening this Saturday, July 23rd, from 2:00 pm to 10:00 pm at 4402 Stuart Andrew Blvd in Charlotte.

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I Tried It - Corona Extra vs. Corona Familiar

I think labeling Corona Familiar as “familiar” is a very strange choice. There is nothing familiar about the way Corona Familiar tastes compared to Corona Extra. Maybe they should change the name of Corona Extra to Corona Familiar and change Corona Familiar to something like “Corona Bland” or “A Quart of Weird Corona.”

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