Fancy Beer Glasses

indexContinuing with the trend of beer related gifts this past week Andrew’s birthday present to me included a set of beer glasses.  The glasses are different shapes and styles appropriate to different kinds of brews.

The gift pack included a number of glass styles including: Craft Pub, English pub, Pilsner, Wheat Ale, Belgian Ale, Stout, etc.  Basically a glass for every type of beer beverage imaginable.  We’re looking forward to trying out all of them.  So far the Craft Pub and the Belgian Ale glasses have been favourites for their feel and style.

September’s Beer of the Month

The last week of the September Andrew and I received our second last shipment of beer in the mail – unless we decide to sign up for another round.  This selection included three beers: Biker Beer Lager by Nickel Brook Brewery, 1815 Lockstock Ale by Strathroy Brewing Company, and Belgian Wit by Niagara’s Best Beer.

This was the first month where Andrew and I weren’t really impressed with any of the beer sections.  I was initially excited that they were all small Ontario brews, but all three of them fell short of the mark.  None of them were bad by any means but they weren’t great or anything memorable.

Additionally, the Biker Beer label was fairly off putting and was objectifying to women. I get that it’s inspiration was the Friday the 13th bikes at Port Dover and probably has a very specific target market – but come on. Hopefully the final shipment is a better selection of beers!

Garden Maintenance

IMG_20151010_141611This past weekend we spent some time playing in the dirt.  We did some fall garden cleanup and maintenance including harvesting the last of the root vegetables, pulling out dead plants, and getting the soil ready for compost.

Both Andrew and I remarked on how much easier it was to do this maintenance on the square foot garden portion of the veggie garden.  Typically by the time fall hits we are into garden fatigue and don’t have the motivation to tackle the cleanup part of the garden.  This usually means we have a whole lot of work to do some spring. The smaller square foot garden made maintenance throughout the whole season easier and there were substantially less weeds to battle in the fall.  Definitely a success.

And while we were doing cleanup Little Miss got to play outside and managed to get covered in dirt as usual. Good thing it was bath day.

Hefewizen Adventure

20151001_084003Andrew and I recently sampled two Hefewizen beers – Hey Day Hefewizen by Granville Island Brewing and Hop & Weizen by Creemore Springs.  Prior to this adventure I didn’t know a whole lot about Hefewizen style beers.

Apparently they are typically brewed in the south German style of wheat beer, use a yeast that sparks banana and spice flavours, often with notes of bubblegum or apples.  The ‘Hef’ prefix means ‘with yeast’ so most appear unfiltered and cloudy.

Both of these selection’s fit the bill as mild Hefewizen style betters.  The Hop & Weizen was very yellow in colour and was moderately hoppy. There was thin note of banana and it finished with a spice flavour (possibly clove?).  It was fairly smooth drinking and would be great on a sunny day.

The Hey Day was light and the had more overt banana flavouring.  The hops were a bit milder on this one and Andrew enjoyed it over the Creemore selection.  I didn’t love either of these beers — but that might have more to do with the style of Hefewizen beers than the individual brews.

Traveling With a Little One

Since Little Miss has been born we’ve traveled to Ottawa, Southern Ontario, Red Rock, Buffalo, London, and gone camping a few times.  The addition of one small human being to our family seems to exponentially complicate packing and travel.

Things we have forgotten to pack on various occasions:

  • The pack n’ play.  Also known as Little Miss’ travel bed.  Thankfully when we forgot this crucial item we were merely staying 15 minutes from home and could retrieve it without too much hassle.
  • Pajamas for Little Miss.
  • Baby spoons.
  • Toys.
  • Bedtime cream, bedtime books, and other items that have become integrated into her bedtime routine.
  • Baby carrier/wrap.
  • The cord for the breast pump.  This item isn’t so useful when you can’t plug it in.
  • That time when I only packed one heavy sweater for Little Miss and the whole trip ended up being cold…and there were no laundry facilities.

I figure we manage to fit all three of us and most of the baby gear into the car we’re doing well.  Most of the extras can be bought or done without.  Though having can make life a whole lot easier. These days I seem to permanently have a nagging feeling that I’m forgetting something.

Fall Gardening

It’s been a busy fall with lots of activity in the veggie garden.  For the first time in a number of years Andrew and I successful grew zucchini.  Now we just need to figure out new ways to eat that tasty vegetable. And I’m sure there is more in the garden that we need to pick before a cold snap gets the plants.

We’ve also dug our potatoes, onions, and garlic.  I love root vegetables that store well over the winter months.  Nothing beats having snow outside and making a delicious meal (maybe stew?) with home grown vegetables.

As I mentioned earlier this was our first year growing garlic.  It did fairly well, but I think the soil where we planted them could have used some love last year. As a result they aren’t huge bulbs — but they are still flavorful and full of goodness.  It has been a learning experience, I hadn’t realized how much maintenance the garlic needs once it’s planted.  I’m going to bring some down to Southern Ontario for family there next week.  And we’ll hopefully plant this year’s fall garlic in the very near future.

Artwork and Beer: Collective Arts Brewing

I recently picked up a six pack of State of Mind, the session IPA from Collective Arts Brewing.  Light, citrus flavoured, and full of hops this was an enjoyable pick for me.  It poured a light golden yellow and had a slightly hazy look.

Collective Arts has a few other IPAs and pale ales that’s I’m hoping to try in the future.  The Rhyme & Reason was recommended when I bought this selection so maybe I’ll try it next time.

One of the reasons I was excited about trying this selection was the labels that Collective Arts uses.  The bottles feature limited-run artwork by artists.  Additionally many of the labels are compatible with the Blippar app which allows you to scan the image to learn more about the artwork, artist, or listen to paired music. I loved the uniqueness of each label and the added bonus of being able to learn more about the artist using your phone was a neat surprise. A great conversation piece combined with tasty beer.

At the hundredth meridian where the great plains begin

I’ve had the Hip song “At the Hundredth Meridian” stuck in my ever ever since a friend recommended that Andrew and I try the 100th Meridian Amber Lager by Mill Street.  Neither of us are typically drawn to lager style beers, but our friend said he usually wasn’t a lager fan but still liked the beer.

Brewed at Mill Street’s Toronto Brewpub this selection’s name reflect the fact that it was made with ingredients from west of the 100th Meridian.  I’ve found Mill Street beers hit and miss in the past. But the Meridian was smooth and easy to drink.  It’s a nice middle ground between the very mild Mill Street Organic and the more robust Mill Street Tankhouse.  It has a light body, pours golden-amber and has a distinctive malt smell.  Simple but tasty.

While enjoying the Meridian, Andrew and I fondly recalled our visit to the Mill Street Ottawa Brewpub a few years ago.  Located in a former grist mill, the 140+ year old building is a great example of adaptive reuse of a heritage building.  Well worth the visit if you’re in Ottawa, even if it is a little bit out of the way of downtown.

Sharing and Gardening

One of my favourite parts about having a garden (other than eating the delicious veggies) is sharing produce and talking about gardening with other people.  I love the idea of trading vegetables, sharing bountiful produce, and having a gardening community.

Within our local family and friends we try to share plentiful produce.   This summer we’ve been treated with cucumbers from Andrew’s parents garden – they had far more than they could eat.  We plan to share some of our garlic with local and far away family members.  I also enjoy cooking and sharing meals that were made out of food we grew.  There is nothing more satisfying than eating a meal that you cooked from scratch and that contains the food you laboured over.  Those meals are true works of love — even if the occasional dish ends up being a creative failure.

Some of the best gardening tips and advice I’ve received have been from other local gardeners.  I have tendency to want to read a lot before starting a project. There are a ton of gardening books and blogs out there and beginning to read about a topic like vertical gardening can be a bit like venturing down a rabbit hole.  Which is great but sometimes it’s hard to find suggestions of what will work in our specific climate and soil quirks.  Even locally there is a lot of variation in soil, but local success stories are heartening and highlight the ability to grow such a range of produce in the North.

Where do you turn for gardening advice? Who is your gardening guru?

Volkan Brewery and Greek Debt

GreekDebtAndrew and I are still working our way through our July beer of the month delivery.  This shipment included two selections from the Volkan Brewery in Greece.  One of the most interesting parts of these two beers was a small logo on the side of the bottles which indicated the beer is a certified “Greece Debt Free Product”.

Essentially for each 1 euro of profit Volkan Brewery will help reduce the Greek National debt by 50 euro cent through the purchasing of Greek government bonds in international markets.  More about the Greek Debt Free program can be seen here. Of course the logo caused Andrew to joke that he was being a good global citizen by drinking tasty beer.

The two beer selections from Volkan that we sampled were the Santorini blonde pilsner and the Santorini black lager. Both beers are brewed with Santorini honey. The pilsner was a fairly generic tasting blonde, good on a hot day but nothing spectacular. The black lager was a bit more complex with nutty, mild chocolate malt flavour and accompanying aroma. On a whole I wasn’t overly impressed with the Volkan beers, but they did make for interesting conversation around economics and social conditions.

So far in cases where the beer of the month delivery included an Ontario and an Italian or Greek beer both Andrew and I have preferred the Ontario brew.  It seems like this was the case in July as well.

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