Category Archives: Beer

Boston: Sam Adams Brewery Tour

This weekend Sam and I went to visit our friends Becky and Gary in Boston.  Although both of us had been to Boston in the past, it was when we were much younger.  So it’s been on our list to see our friends and check out this city as adults.

On Saturday we visited the Sam Adams Brewery, did the tour and tried some of their beers!  The tours take place Monday thru Saturday, each day starting at 10am.  Each tour is about 1 hour, and you can enjoy a Sam Adams beer at the end!

The brewery is in the Jamaica Plain area of Boston, in a fairly residential neighborhood- easily accessible by public transportation.  The tour is free, but donations are recommended.

Samuel Adams was founded by Jim Koch in 1984 in Boston, MA.  Although Sam Adams is the largest selling craft beer in the country, it only accounts for less than 1% of the beer in the U.S.  Most of the beer is actually made in two other breweries- which are located in Cincinnati, Ohio and near Allentown, Pennsylvania (this location makes about 60% of the beer).  The Boston location is mainly used to test out new beer, 2 million barrels of beer per year are made here- which only accounts for 1% of all Sam Adams beer.

What beers did we get to taste?  We had the Sam Adams Boston Lager, the seasonal Summer Ale, and the Sam Adams 26.2 Marathon Brew.  This last beer can only be found on tap around Boston, and it was made specifically for the Boston Marathon– which took place this past Monday.  Currently there are 50 different types of Sam Adams beer.  The most popular, about 50% of sales, is the Boston Lager.

What did we see on the tour?

This is where the brewing and mashing takes place.

This is the cooling tank to allow the beer to cool off.

These are the fermentation and conditioning tanks, each holds 25 barrels of beer.

Barrels of beer ready for drinking!

This is in the tasting room, great to see the different bottles.

Next time you’re in Boston you should definitely check out the Sam Adams Brewery!

After the tour you can take the free trolley to Doyle’s Cafe (about a 5 minute drive).  This trolley is decorated with a disco ball and the driver plays fun music.  In 1986 Jim Koch established a partnership with Doyle’s Cafe, making them the first purveyors of Sam Adams beer- this was the first place that had the Sam Adams beers on tap.  Doyle’s Cafe was established in 1882- it’s celebrating its 130th anniversary this week!  The best part is if you show your Sam Adam’s Tour stamp, and order a Sam Adams beer, you get to keep the Sam Adams glass!  We had some amazing clam chowder here!

Living Social: Cowgirl Creamery’s Cheese & Beer Pairing Class

Living Social has opened up a live events venue in Washington DC- named 918 F Street– for businesses to provide yet another experience to its costumers.  It’s a beautiful space which has been renovated and updated, and is being used for a number of classes.  So far the events have ranged from pop-up restaurant dinners or tastings, to photography or yoga classes.  It’s a wide spectrum, and I’m sure it’ll continue to grow.

One event which caught my eye was the “Craft-Beer, Cheese and Charcuterie Pairing Class” which was led by Adam Smith, of Cowgirl Creamery.  By now, I’m sure you know that Sam and I are huge fans of Cowgirl Creamery (and cheese!) so we decided to see what this class had to offer.

Cowgirl Creamery, started just north of San Francisco, began making sustainable, artisan hand-crafted cheeses from organic milk in 1997.  Today the store has grown to 3 locations, providing customers with a variety of cheeses from around the world.  In addition, they do have a handful of their own seasonal cheese, all so good I can’t recommend just one.  About 80% of the cheeses at Cowgirl are made in the United States.

Some interesting facts about cheese and beer pairings:
• beer, like champaign, is effervescent; the carbonation cuts through the butterfat
• differently than wine, there are lots of ingredients in beer which can change tastes (hops, malts, yeasts)
• pairings can be done regionally (example below: Colston Basset Dairy Stilton & Crispin’s Browns Lane Cider- both from the UK)
• Proper cheese and beer tasting: 1) taste the cheese- with no bread, cracker or beer; 2) smell the beer; 3) take a small sip of beer; 4) lastly, take a small sip of beer and small bite of the cheese- allow the cheese to melt in your mouth, mixing with the beer

So what did we get to try?



I’ve added some information (and links) to all of the cheeses and beers.  From the pictures above, I started at the top, going clockwise when describing cheeses (although I included an additional picture of the cheese above the description).  For the beers, I began all the way to the left.  I’ve listed the cheese, and then the beer- those two were paired together for this class.

Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk: made in Pt. Reyes, CA; it’s a year-round cheese; triple-cream; it was washed with a brine solution that tints the rind pink (due to the wild bacteria); it was aged for 4 weeks

The Bruery’s Saison de Lente: brewed in Orange County, CA; this beer is seasonal- available from March to May, but made during the winter; it’s a light blonde; fresh hoppiness; lightly and flowery in flavor; made from Belgian-style yeast

Meadow Creek Dairy Mountaineer: made in Galax, VA; smooth texture; aged in cellars for a minimum of 6 months; the flavor is nutty and sweet, very similar to Gruyere; great cheese for mac ‘n cheese or with figs; it’s a European-style Alpine cheese (which is usually made in: France, Switzerland, or Northern Italy)

Schlafy’s Bierre de Garde: brewed in St. Louis, MO; it’s a traditional French ale; it’s brewed in the early spring, released throughout the summer months; made with Belgian-style yeast; rich, sweet and malty taste

Cabot Creamery’s Clothbound Cheddar: made in Greensboro, VT; made in partnership between Cabot Creamery and Cellar’s at Jasper Hill; traditional clothbound cheese; aged for 10-14 months; has a sweet and nutty flavor; once the cheeses are removed from their molds, they are bandaged with cloth and painted with lard; Cabot Creamery is one of the oldest farmer-owned cooperative creameries; the wheel above is made up of 480 servings

This specific wheel was made in December 2010.

Below is a piece of cloth which was wrapped around the cheese:

Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA: brewed in Healdsburg, CA; IPA’s were brewed by the British while traveling to India in the 19th century, therefore to make the long journey the beers had lots of hops; light-bodied and floral in taste

Essex Street Cheese L’Amuse Signature Gouda: made in Beemster, Holland; the cheeses are aged for 18 months to 2 years; velvety texture with a hazelnut flavor

Founders Porterbrewed in Grand Rapids, MI; creamy with chocolate and coffee notes; malty

Colston Bassett Dairy Stilton: made in Nottinghamshire, UK; Colston Bassett is one of the smallest stilton dairies in the UK; mild and tangy flavor; the rind is dry and tough; after 4-6 weeks the cheese is pierced, air enters the holes and the Penicillium roquefortii begins to grow; a week after it is pierced again, then on sale 3 weeks later

Crispin’s Browns Lane Cider: brewed in Worcestershire, UK; made with traditional English bittersweet cider apples; soft and subtle apple flavors; lightly sparkling and crisp finish

Our last lesson of the class was on storing cheese:
• keep it well wrapped (parchment or wax paper are best)
• scrape mold off, or cut off the moldy piece
• to keep the cheese moist, store it in one of the following: wine cellar, produce drawer, or a cigar box (in the fridge)

If any of you are in the Washington DC area (or in San Francisco), and have a love for cheese, definitely check out Cowgirl Creamery.  The staff is very knowledgeable and helpful in finding pairings, snacks or new cheeses to try.

Charlottesville, Virginia

For the long Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, Sam and I went to Charlottesville, VA.  We left DC on a chilly Saturday morning and headed south.  Some of our friends went to UVA and we’ve been wanting to explore this college town.  For the latest restaurants and fun things to do, I reached out to a fellow food blogger, Kath from Kath Eats Real Food.  She has a great Charlottesville page– with descriptions of places to check out.

We spent Saturday afternoon walking around the Pedestrian Mall on old Main Street.

There are many restaurants, boutiques and shops.  Walking from the west to the east end, we browsed around and checked out some storefronts.

At the east end of the Pedestrian Mall there is a Charlottesville Community Chalkboard:

The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression was created so members of the public may express their views on any subject that they choose.

I have yet to see a spot like this anywhere else, so it was cool to check out and read what others have written!

Our first stop was Skybar.

We wanted to check out Commonwealth (the connected restaurant below) but it wasn’t going to open for another 30 minutes.  So we walked upstairs to find a covered bar (with heaters), I’d love to hang out at this place when the weather is nice.  Both of us tried new beers, shared a cured meats plate and some truffled fries:

This is a Blue Mountain Kolsch from Afton, Virginia.  Both of us really liked it, so the next time we’re in the area we’ll definitely have to visit this brewery.

The next place we checked out was Miller’s, it’s known for Dave Matthews starting his band- Dave Matthews Band– while working here as a bartender.

It’s a great dive bar, with a large beer menu (this is only 1 side of the list):

There are many choices, one of the one’s we tried was:

It’s Sixpoint Craft Ales brewery from Brooklyn, and they have a number of different beers.  If you ever see it on a beer list- definitely give this one a try!

And to fill us up, we got a giant nacho plate- although it was the 1/2 order (also known as the 54 1/2 nachos).  I’m glad we didn’t order the bigger one, since we didn’t finish this one!

By then we were tired after a long day, and decided to head to our hotel.

Good-bye Miller’s!

In the next post we’ll share what we did on Sunday…

European Food Adventures- Munich

Our last stop on the European adventure was in Munich, Germany (other stops include Poland and Austria).  One of the main reasons for choosing Munich was because of Oktoberfest.  Other than liters of beer, Munich also had to offer plenty of great food.

Munich, Germany

As many of you probably know, Munich is the third largest city in Germany and the host of the 1978 Summer Olympics.

Fun Fact #3: München (in German) was derived from the Old High German, which  meant “by the monks place”.  The city name comes from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city- the foundation date is 1164.  At that time black and gold were the colors of the Holy Roman Empire- they continue to be the city’s colors today.

Of course, the first thing we had to do was drink some German beer!  The liter mugs, also referred Maß, were in all of the restaurants around Munich:

One of our favorite things, not just in Germany but in all of the cities we visited, was the plethora of outdoor seating.  It’s really nice to relax outside- especially with the wonderful weather that we got throughout our trip.

After walking around the center of the city, we stopped at Hackerhouse, just blocks from the Marienplatz.

Both of these dishes (above and below) are Oktoberfest specials at the restaurant.  The above meal was a variety of wurst with potatoes.  Sam did say that the sausage link all the way in the back of the photo was one of the best he’s ever tasted in his life.  The dish below was roasted beef with gravy and cold potato salad (with dill and cucumbers).  The salad was definitely a first for me in texture and taste- but I really enjoyed- I wonder if I can replicate it!

As I mentioned before, when we were in Munich we did stop by Oktoberfest.  Just walking around it feels like a state fair (I’ve only been to the state fairs in the midwest so I’m not sure what others may look like) with rides for kids, vendors with lots of food and many people just walking around.

While walking, everyone will notice that there are massive tents- 14 of them this year.  Each tent is manned by a different brewery.  The capacity of these tents range from 98 to 10,000!  Sam and I visited 2 tents: Armbrustschützen (Bull’s Eye) and Hacker (Bavarian Heaven).

This is the entrance to Oktoberfest, as you can see there are a lot of people going in and out!

All around the campgrounds there are little kiosks selling Lebkuchenherzen (gingerbread hearts).  They range in size and color as well as a variety of  messages.  For example: Ich liebe Dich (I love you), Du bist mein sußes Herzchen (You’re my sweetheart) or Ich denke nur noch an Dich (I think only of you).

One of my favorite parts of Oktoberfest was brezn (pretzel)!  The pretzels range in 3 different sizes:

1) about the size of your hand
2) about the size of your face
3) significantly larger than your head!

And yes, I had 2 of them during our visit.  I don’t think any pretzel from a baseball park will ever compare.  All of these are so fresh and fluffy- I think this inspired me to make some of my own very soon!

Last but not least: hendl (chicken).  In each of the tents there were large of rotisserie stations getting chickens cooked.  Since everyone seemed to be getting them, we had to try it.  The one pictured above was finger-licking good!  The crust was crispy and full of flavor, while the inside of the chicken was deliciously moist.

Fun Fact #4: During the 2011 Oktoberfest, held for 17 days, 7.5 million liters (1.98 million gallons) of beer were consumed; there were 6.9 million visitors; each Maß was €9 ($12.66); during this time there were 226,000 stolen mugs.

There is one more thing that we stumbled upon while wandering through Munich, the Viktualienmarkt.  It’s a large, daily food market close to the Marienplatz (closed Sunday’s).  As Munich began to grow in the 19th century the city needed a larger market, therefore, King Maximillian allowed for a large space close to the city center to be designated for the market to grow.  Over the decades many stalls and pavilions were added.  Unfortunately, the market was severely damaged during World War II, but due to its popularity was rebuilt soon after.

Today the market has about 140 shops and stalls filled with many fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, flowers and much more.  In the center of the market stands a blue and white maypole.  Maypoles can be found in many village squares in Bavaria; in the past, signs were posted all over the maypole indicating the goods and services available around that particular city.  The Viktualienmarkt maypole has the following symbols: beer-carts, carousels, dancers, musicians and a fruit lady.  Every year on the first of May the pole is raised by men wearing Lederhosen.

Although we have farmers markets in the US, they don’t compare to the one’s in Europe.  This is just an example of one stand- so much produce to choose from!

I took a picture of this fruit (I think)- but I have no idea what it is.  If anyone reading this blog knows what this is- definitely let me know.  I thought it was very cool looking- lots of texture.

Since it is Germany- there were a number of pickles.

And lots of cheese!

If any of you get a chance to explore the food and drinks in Germany, you’ll enjoy your time here.  Everyone we met in Munich was very friendly and helpful, lots of smiles to go around.

I hope all of you enjoyed our updates on Europe, don’t worry- recipes coming up!  We didn’t have spicy food in Europe, so we had to make up for it once we got back!

St. Patrick’s Guinness Cupcakes

Happy St. Patty’s Day!  We didn’t have any green beer this year, instead we decided to cook a little bit of Irish food at home.  Sam made corned beef and cabbage in the crock pot, and I tried this dish for the first time.  I really enjoyed the saltiness of the meat, delicious!

For dessert, I made some cupcakes.  Since we already had Guinness on hand, I figured this would be a great time to try out a new recipe.  I wanted to add some green sprinkles on top, but we didn’t have any.  The cupcakes had a great chocolate flavor which the beer enhanced.  I didn’t make the frosting too sweet, and the cream cheese flavor still lingered just a bit- yummy!

Also, my first batch had 2 different sized forms, one had the big one’s, while the other had the mini-bites.  I highly recommend the mini bites, the others came out a little dense.

We decided that all cupcakes should have Guinness it them! 

St. Patrick’s Guinness Cupcakes
Adapted from: Bunky Cooks Blog

3/4 cup cocoa
2 cups sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 can of Guinness (14.9 oz)
1 stick of butter, melted
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
3/4 cups sour cream
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups confectioners sugar (more can be used)

In a medium bowl beat the cream cheese on medium speed with a hand mixer, until it’s lightly fluffy.  Slowly, beat in the heavy whipping cream.  Then on low speed, slowly mix in confectioners sugar, until it is smooth and incorporated.  Cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat the over to 350 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugar, flour, baking soda and salt.  In a stand mixer, combine the Guinness, butter and vanilla.  Then, one at a time, beat in the eggs.  Finally, mix in the sour cream, until the mixture is smooth.  Slowly, mix in the dry ingredients into the wet mixture.

Lightly grease muffin tins.  Divide the batter between the muffin cups, filling each 3/4 full.  Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until they are soft and tender.  Take them out of the oven, and cool them.  Finally, top each cupcake with some of the frosting!