Although the temperature in Cincinnati has been all over the place, the first official day of winter is Thursday. If you haven’t already been partaking in seasonal brews, the time is now.
Fox News published a Best Holiday Brews article this week and it reminded me that these seasonal selections won’t be around forever. Although I don’t usually drink darker, heavier beers, they are great for warming you up on cold winter nights.
I have had – and do like – the top beer on this list: Great Lakes Brewing Co. Christmas Ale, a holiday beer brewed with honey and spiced with ginger and cinnamon. It’s medium-bodied, not too heavy, and a repeat World Beer Championship Gold Medal winner. My sister-in-law was nice enough to share her stash over Thanksgiving (Thanks, Laurie).
Not on this list, but a popular choice - Sierra Nevada Celebration. While Celebration tastes good for a change, I can’t drink many as it’s a very robust, rich ale. But it’s great for bringing along to your holiday parties and for toasting friends and family.
Do you have a favorite winter beer? Leave a comment here and let me know what you like and what I should try before they all disappear.
Last week I was lucky enough to attend the Mollydooker Blending and Wine Making Celebration on behalf of wine-girl.net. The event, which took place at Morton’s The Steakhouse Cincinnati, featured Sparky Marquis, award-winning winemaker and owner of Mollydooker Wines.
Before I get too far, Mollydooker is Aussie for left-hander. Both Sparky and wife, Sarah, are left-handed. The husband-and-wife team established Mollydooker in 2005 and they’ve won many awards for their wines since.
This event was entertaining and educational. We were first greeted with a tasting of Mollydooker’s only white wine, The Violinist, made from the Verdelho grape. We all learned later in the evening that it was Sparky’s mum, Janet, who greeted us with the wine! We munched on Miniature Crab Cakes and Blue Cheese Tenderloin Crostini, and Sparky came in to welcome us and chat for a while.
We were then led to another banquet room with assigned seating. There a personable and extremely entertaining Sparky told us the story behind Mollydooker. He also demonstrated the Mollydooker Shake – the best way to prepare and enjoy most Mollydooker wines. The vigorous shaking of the wine bottle releases nitrogen, which allows these young wines to show their full, creamy flavor profile.
Then it was time for the interactive part of the evening. We were paired up and challenged to create our own blend of wine. Each pair designed very different flavors using three Mollydooker Lefty Wines: a Merlot called The Scooter; The Maitre D’, a classic Aussie Cabernet; and a Shiraz called The Boxer. Each table voted on the four creations and my team’s blend was the ultimate favorite! Funny thing is Mollydooker makes a blend with the perfect combination of these three wines called Two Left Feet.
Finally, we tasted Mollydooker’s Party Wines, including Gigglepot, a Cabernet Sauvignon named after the Marquis’ daughter, Holly; and Blue Eyed Boy, a Shiraz named after their son, Luke. We also tried the Love Wines: Enchanted Path, a Shiraz/Cab; Carnival of Love, a Shiraz; and the fabulous Velvet Glove. Many thanks to the event organizers for comping my ticket.
Some fun Mollydooker facts:
- All Mollydooker bottles are screw caps so that no wines ever experience cork taint.
- Bottles include a Wine Find tear off tab on the back label so you always remember the name of the wine you just drank.
- Sarah is the inspiration behind all the labels. Each label tells a story about some aspect of Sparky and Sarah’s lives.
A quick post on one of our almost local breweries: Schlafly of St. Louis. Michelle and I had the chance to stop in here on our way through Missouri and enjoyed the visit. On tap were two cask conditioned alternate versions of the 80/- (80 Schilling) and the Golden Ale.
I sat down with the cask conditioned 80 schilling. Cask conditioning allows a secondary fermentation to occur within the storage container. In this case it added an extra layer of smokiness that I usually don’t find in the normal Schlafly offering. AbV was in line at 4.7 to create a very enjoyable drink.
I also tried a small sample of the Pumpkin Ale from draft and found a pumpkin-pie flavor along with a very noticeable sweetness. This was pumpkin pie filling with a touch of whipped cream. The 8% alcohol was not apparent.
The food was also impressive. I had a pulled pork sandwich along with a side of the Beer Cheese soup. Michelle had a ham and egg sandwich. We could have easily split either entree between the two of us. The portions were generous and the food itself was well prepared and matched the beer.
Overall, I would give a to the Schlafly brewery experience. We did not have time to take the tour at the Bottleworks location, but if any readers have been on that tour, let us know in the comments. For anyone visiting the St. Louis area, I recommend a quick stop by the brewery to split a meal and try something from their large selection.
You can always follow me on Untappd to see what I am enjoying.
Every so often, a non-alcoholic beverage item comes my way for review. In this case, I agreed for two reasons: I love tea and hot chocolate and they offered a machine for giveaway. Since the giveaway is valued at about $129.99, it seemed like a great opportunity for you guys!
It was a big coffee-maker holiday for Kevin and I. The nice folks from Tassimo sent us the T20 Single Serve Brewbot to review (and keep, so thank you!). Additionally, my mom bought us a Keurig single-serve coffee maker as well. Since Mom bought the Keurig, it’s going to stay at home and the Tassimo is going to work with Kevin soon. But we like them both, for different reasons.
If you haven’t played with a single-serve coffee maker, you should. You see, I don’t drink coffee at all, but I do love tea and hot chocolate. Kevin, on the other hand, is a huge coffee drinker. We can both make our respective drinks using one single-serve machine. It’s fantastic. Even better, my tea doesn’t taste at all like his coffee, because each drink is made from one single-serve disc.
The Tassimo T20 Brewbot from Bosch has a water filtration system built right in, which is nice. On top of that, it’s small and compact, which is another reason it’s the machine heading to Kevin’s desk. The technology behind it is pretty cool at that. Each single-serve T-Disc has a bar code imprinted on the top. The machine reads the bar code and “knows” whether you’ve put in a disc for espresso, cappuccino, earl grey, or a cup of Starbucks. It then brews the right amount at the right temperature based on the information it scans in that bar code. It fits any size cup as well, which is cool. I discovered that you can remove the cup base and suddenly a travel mug fits right under the spout.
My favorite thing about the T20 is its ability to steam milk. I love chai latte, and the T20 makes a great one. I purchased a box of Twinings chai latte, which comes with discs for both chai and latte. First I pop in the chai disc and hit the Brew button. The T20 brews up a small amount of exceedingly strong chai. Next I pop in the matching latte disc and the T20 steams enough milk to fill up, and froth up, my cup. A little stirring and I have a nice chai latte that did not involve me trying to steam the milk myself or use a liquid chai – all in about a 3 minute time period.
There are a lot of options available for the Tassimo Brewbots, including Twinings and Tazo for tea, Milkka for hot chocolate, and Starbucks and Gevalia for chocolate. Boxes of 16 discs run about $20 at Bed, Bath & Beyond and on Amazon. You can also “subscribe” to boxes on Amazon and find them cheaper. Tassimo offers more than 40 beverage
and flavor varieties to satisfy everyone.
Personally, I’m in love with the convenience of a single-serve coffee maker like this. Sure, there will still be occasions when I’ll heat up the tea kettle or fire up the coffee pot, but the convenience factor is just amazing for a quick cuppa. Even at a party we hosted the other night, it was great to offer people different options – would you like Starbucks, Gevalia, or something else? We’ve got it all.
What you’ve all been waiting for is the giveaway – how can you get your hands on one of these nifty little items? Easy.
1. Leave a comment below saying why you want the T20.
2. For an additional entry, tweet about this giveaway and then leave a comment linking back to your tweet. (My twitter ID is @writetechnology.)
Now! Well, now through 11:59 pm EST on Sunday, December 9.
You must live in the United States. The nice folks at Tassimo will only ship domestic.
You must have a valid shipping address that I can give Tassimo, not a PO Box.
You must have a valid email address at which I can contact you.
You must have a valid user name that isn’t some spammy sort of thing. If it looks or sounds spammy at all, I reserve the right to delete you.
You are allowed one comment entry and one comment entry with a Twitter link. Not TWO comment entries UNLESS one of those includes a link back to your tweet.
I will “draw” a comment number using Random.org on Monday morning, January 10, and notify the winner via email. You’ll have 48 hours to respond before I give up and try another randomly generated number.
1/10/11 Update: And the winner is …
FTC Goodness: We received the brewer and some T-discs at no cost for review (although I did run out and buy a bunch) and giveaway; all the opinions belong to me – no one paid me for them.
If you feel like heading out of town on Sunday, I’ve got a great event for you. Fork, Cork, & Style is happening at Churchill Downs in Louisville this Sunday, September 12.
Churchill Downs Entertainment Group is hosting Fork, Cork & Style this Sunday from 1-9 pm at the racetrack. The festival is bringing in celebrity chefs and party specialists, and Bringing to life its theme of “Fork, Cork & Style” the festival will present signature foods from around the country, celebrity chef cooking demonstrations, a wine tasting featuring 150 elite brands and innovative ways to dress up your next tailgating party.
There will be cooking demonstrations by Emeril Lagasse, “Top Chef” finalists (Brian Malarkey, Eli Kirshtein, & Betty Fraser) and local Louisville chefs. There is a grand wine tasting with over 150 brands (via Southern Wine & Spirits) from 2-5 pm and 6-9 pm. Restaurants from Louisville and across the nation will also be serving tasty bites. According to the web site, notable restaurants participating include:
Chicago area’s Albano’s Pizzeria, #8 on Travel Channel’s “101 Tastiest Places to Chow Down” for their football-sized pizza puff ; Buffalo’s Anchor Bar, home of the original Buffalo Chicken Wings and #17 on the “101 Best Places to Chow Down” list; Memphis hot spot Central BBQ, rated #1 BBQ joint in Tennessee, which will prepare delicious ribs and pulled pork; West Virginia’s Hillbilly Hot Dogs, which placed #15 on the Travel Channel’s “101 Best Places to Chow Down” list and is best known for their 15-inch Home Wrecker hot dog topped with a pile of tasty condiments; Chicago’s world Famous Billy Goat Tavern and Grill, which brings their highly publicized cheeseburger adored by the cast of Saturday Night Live who performed the sketch “Cheezborger, Cheezborger”; Tony Luke’s in South Philly, home of the ultimate cheesesteak featured on Travel Channel’s “Man v. Food”.
So there you go. Come for the wine and food and enjoy some live music while you’re there. Between Beer Fest on Friday, a wedding on Saturday, and this event on Sunday … well, this weekend is most definitely the Last Bash of Summer for Kevin & myself. We’re staying the night in Louisville, an option I highly recommend.
Tickets are $29 for all music performances, cooking demos and one portion of food from the restaurant of your choice. For $64, you can get all of the above plus access to the Grand Wine Tasting inside Millionaires Row 4. For $200, you can do all of the above and meet Emeril while you’re at it.
Can’t make it to Louisville? Drive three more hours and you can attend the next Fork, Cork, & Style, held in Chicago on Oct 2.
Full Disclosure: While I was interested in this event anyway, Kevin & I were given free tickets to attend the event, although I have no idea if we have access to the Grand Tasting.
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