Category Archives: drinks

Pacific Northwest Craft Beers to Try This Summer

IMG_5195On Saturday night, we decided to head out to the Southern Oregon Craft Brew Festival in downtown Medford. We split our time about 50/50 between enjoying delicious brews and laughing at try-hard hipster outfits. Speaking of which, are sweatshorts a thing now? And I’m not talking about the athleisure trend, I’m talking about $5 Walmart sweatpants cut off at the knee. I saw at least three guys wearing them last night paired with chucks, and I don’t really know how to react to that. I’m currently stuck somewhere between “ew” and “but I do love sweatpants.” It was kind of like this:

Source, in case you want to buy some for your man.

Source, in case you want to buy some for your man.

Anyway, enough about hipster clothing. I’m really writing this post to tell you about my favorite brews from the night so that you can try them out this summer. Before we start, I feel like I should warn you: if you’re looking for a serious beer review containing phrases like “mouth feel” and “intricate lacing,” this won’t be that. This is more, “what I’ll be drinking this summer while watching Netflix in my underwear in front of a box fan.”

Ninkasi Brewing Company, Dawn of the Red

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Everyone in Northern California seems to be raving about the Eugene-based Ninkasi Brewing Company right now … and now I can see why. Their Dawn of the Red India Red Ale was easily my favorite from the entire night. I like me a super hoppy IPA, but even if you don’t typically like IPAs/IRAs you should still give it a try. It’s got a slightly fruity flavor (the label says it’s brewed with mangoes, papaya, and pineapple) that mellows the hoppiness a bit. Plus, how cool is the name? It’s a special release, so I’m not sure if you’ll see it in stores. If you do, pick it up.

OakShire Brewing Espresso Stout

bottle_template_StoutI wasn’t originally going to try this one, but I’m SO glad I did – this may be my favorite coffee/espresso stout I’ve tasted. I love coffee, and my main complaint with espresso stouts is that the java flavor isn’t strong enough. However, this was like drinking a glass of iced coffee. The whole time I was drinking it, I kept thinking, “This would go so great with a giant piece of chocolate cake.” (Then again, when do I *not* think that.) These guys are from Eugene too – apparently we need to plan a road trip, stat.

2 Towns Ciderhouse Hop & Stalk

hopAndStalkI mentioned that I love a hoppy beer, and I also love cider, so it’s no surprise that I really enjoyed this imperial hopped cider from the Corvallis-based 2 Towns Ciderhouse. If you’re not a beer fan, you’ll probably love this – it’s super fruity, and it’s made with red rhubarb and fresh-pressed apples. It’s 8% ABV and goes down easily, which means this is a good choice if you’re looking for a nice buzz with not a lot of effort 🙂

Hop Valley Citrus Mistress IPA

hop-valley-citrus-mistre-24039-543zI’ve raved about Hop Valley’s Citrus Mistress IPA before, but I couldn’t leave it off the list. It’s tart, refreshing, and the grapefruit flavor isn’t too overpowering. I’m no expert but I feel like it would go really well with fish tacos. Mmm, fish tacos.

That’s it! If you can’t find these in stores near you, then there’s really only one solution: Plan a trip to Oregon right this minute.

Sparkling White Sangria Recipe + Deck Progress

I have a really good sangria recipe to tell you about, but first, an important announcement: WE HAVE DECK FURNITURE!

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We technically had deck furniture before, but it was plastic and old and every time we got a strong breeze the chairs would end up scattered all over the yard and then they’d stay there for weeks because we’re too lazy to go pick them up and I’ve watched enough reality TV to know that that a yard full of broken, plastic lawn furniture is the first step toward an appearance on “Hoarders.” So when my parents offered to give us their deck furniture when they moved to Hawaii, we were super excited to take it off their hands. In addition to being sturdy and wind-resistant, it also has an umbrella so I don’t have to reapply my SPF 110 three times during dinner. #melaninproblems

(BTW, SPF 110 is a real thing, and it is awesome.)

We don’t have a truck, so the furniture has spent the last two months at my aunt and uncles’ house. However, my mom was visiting last week, so she, my brother, and my grandma loaded it up and brought it up to us on Sunday. We thanked them by feeding them barbecue and this delicious sangria:

Sangria

The bad news: This is the only picture I took, because I was so busy hosting my guests refilling my glass. The good news: I wrote down the recipe before imbibing, so now I can give it to you:

Sparkling White Sangria
1 bottle sweet white wine (I used moscato, but a riesling would be good too!)
1 bottle Champagne or sparkling white wine, chilled (I used sparkling moscato, which made it extra sweet!)
1 cup strawberries, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
1 lime, sliced
1 orange, sliced
Handful of blackberries

Combine the wine and fruit at least 4 hours and as many as 24 hours before serving, and chill. Just before serving, add the sparkling white wine or Champagne and mix well. If you want, spoon out some of the fruit from inside the container and place in the glasses before filling. Pretty! Delicious! Makes you feel like Olivia Pope!

Olivia Pope wine

P.S. – If you make it with both regular and sparkling moscato like I did, it’ll probably be sweet enough without adding any sugar. If you use a less sweet wine, give it a taste before serving to see if you need to add sweetener (I’d suggest honey, agave, or raw sugar).