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Dining – Pittsburgh – Over The Bar Bicycle Cafe North Park Boathouse

Icon Written by admin on February 6, 2014 – 11:31 am

Over The Bar Bicycle Cafe North Park Boathouse By: Rick Perrotta II

“We use fresh jalapenos; I leave the seeds in for the extra spice,” says North Park Boathouse chef Eric Strafalace. Mr. Strafalace is speaking of one of their signature appetizers, and our first of the night, the Old Firehouse Dip ($7.99). He’s right – the dip is much spicier than typical restaurant fare. Luckily, it’s also wonderfully balanced, the jalapenos being countered by other fresh ingredients such as diced tomatoes, green onions, crispy bacon, cream cheese and shredded cheddar. On the menu, OTB rightly boasts of working with PA farmers to provide fresh, local produce. The dip is also served with fresh tortillas; the difference between the fresh and the store-bought is evident.

The Old Firehouse Dip was just one of many dishes my party and I were treated to the night we visited Over The Bar Bicycle Cafe’s North Park Boathouse location. Mr. Strafalace describes more food as it is brought out. “The black bean cakes,” known as the 650 Bean Cakes ($7.99), “are thickened with corn starch rather than flour, adding corn starch instead of flour doesn’t interfere with the taste.” The cakes are tremendous, absolutely delicious served with sides of sour cream, guacamole, and homemade pineapple salsa, good enough to be its own appetizer. Then there’s the Spoke Junkie ($7.99), “made from freshly sliced zucchini, rolled up with 3 kinds of cheese, then hand battered.” The best zucchini we have ever sampled!

The attention to detail, creativity, and quality ingredients are just a few things that set Over The Bar Bicycle Cafe apart from other restaurants. There is also the friendly staff, led by manager Jerri Lauffer, and of course the setting and atmosphere. One can see the lake while dining and when the weather is nice, patrons can sit on the dock and more intimately appreciate the beautiful landscape. Owner Mike Kotyk and his partners have done North Park a true service by spending the last 3 years and half a million dollars renovating the Boathouse, which sat mostly undisturbed for some 30 years. Not only that, Mr. Kotyk has signed a five year lease with Allegheny County meaning taxpayers will be getting a new source of revenue and an absolutely fabulous place to dine, drink or simply relax.

Regardless of where one is seated, you are certain to enjoy your visit. Much like OTB’s original South Side location, the Boathouse has an extensive craft beer selection. Impressive brews such as the Southern Tier Krampus and the Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA are on tap plus over forty more beers can be ordered by the bottle including several from Oskar Blues Brewery and Pennsylvania’s own Troegs Brewing Company. My choice, the Krampus, was delivered in a chalice. When ordering by the bottle, glasses were brought without having to ask, this truly added to the overall experience of OTB. They have also added another nice touch by including the Beer Advocate score of each beer on the menu.

Adding to the overall experience, many of the dishes are named after local landmarks or Pennsylvania luminaries, such as the North Ridge Nachos ($7.99) and the Rachel Carson Wrap ($9.99). Others are named for biking references, as Mr. Kotyk is a well-known biking enthusiast, such as the Top Gear Tenders ($8.99) and the Dirt Rag Delight burger ($9.99). The Dirt Rag Delight is a must try. This juicy hamburger is served with American cheese, thick sliced dill pickles, and Wholey’s homemade peanut butter. Yes, peanut butter. This sandwich was inspired by the biker’s need for protein. The peanut butter adds a touch of sweetness while blending surprisingly well with the flavor the burger. You seriously “must try” this burger!

Mr. Strafalace says OTB also offers many selections for their “vegetarian and vegan friends,” which are marked with a ‘V.’ Any of the burgers can be made with a black bean burger instead of ground beef. The Iron City Bites ($7.99) are vegetarian wings made from seitan, which is made from wheat but has the texture of meat. In 2011 and 2012, OTB won an award for “Best Vegetarian Soup” at the South Side soup contest. In addition, we were fortunate enough to try the B.E.L.L.A. tacos (Biking Enthusiastic Ladies Loving Adventures, $9.99) which are stuffed with grilled balsamic marinated Portabella mushrooms, fresh avocado, Asian slaw, and homemade pico de gallo. Again, the jalapenos in the pico de gallo are evident but very nicely offset by the avocado. There are several more options, more than can be listed succinctly.

Toward the end, we were told they have one more dish they would like us to try and they bring out the Granny Gear Salad ($11.99). The Granny Gear Salad features char-grilled chicken over mixed greens, topped with Swiss, roasted red peppers (prepared in-house, of course), julienned apples, and craisins. This terrific salad was served with an outstanding homemade poppy seed dressing, though they were kind enough to offer us other options as well including their fantastic balsamic vinaigrette.

OTB Bicycle Café North Park Boathouse is located on Pierce Mill Run Road in McCandless. Between the service, the music, the setting, the beer, and the level of attention given to serving a quality product with a unique twist, we had a great time with seriously amazing food. They are open 7 days a week – Monday-Wednesday: 11AM-10PM, Thursday-Saturday: 11AM-11PM and Sunday: 11AM-9PM – For more information, including the menu and contact information, please visit Or for directions you can call 724.940.5000

OTB (Over The Bar) Bicycle Cafe on Urbanspoon

BZ’s Bar and Grill – Pittsburgh

Icon Written by admin on February 5, 2013 – 7:18 pm

BZ’s Bar & Grill By: Suz Pisano

BZ’s Bar & Grill at 140 Federal Street sits right across from PNC Park and has been on my radar ever since they began renovations months ago. They’re finally open, and Nightwire gets to be the first to tell you all about it. Brandon Herriott is one of the owners. He’s the ‘B’ and his partners Bob & Laura Zoravkovski are the ‘Z’ and the investors in this new hot spot offering great food, amazing drinks, craft beers, happy hour, lunch specials and much, much more. They came together from an act of kindness, Brandon was asked by Bob to look over a proposal for a pending restaurant/bar acquisition, which he graciously accepted and wouldn’t take anything for his expertise and advice on this project. This simple act of kindness eventually put Bob and Brandon together as business partners and they landed on a concept and a location bringing together many years of working in the industry as well as the capital to invest in a dream. This new bar and grill promises to be a big hit year-round with interesting takes on comfort foods and favorites using only the best ingredients.

Let’s start with Small Plates. We tried the Hummus Trio ($8) served with Gremolata, Hot Cherry Pepper Relish and Bruschetta Mix. I can’t tell you which one I preferred, but there is plenty to share, they’re extremely fresh and made in house daily. The “to die for” choice in my book is the Duck Sliders ($9). I have to admit that I spied it on the website and was hoping to sink my teeth into one of these, duck confit, blackberry preserves and herbed cream cheese on the perfect little bun. Oh my! I grew up eating jelly and cream cheese sandwiches; I think it’s an Eastern European thing or maybe a Pittsburgh thing like “jumbo.” I love, love, loved these duck sliders. Also available are Beef ($8) made with brisket or Crab ($11). The Small Plates choices are plentiful with everything from wings, tacos, truffle fries, fried mozzarella to bruschetta and a goat cheese crostini. Salads are offered in Greek, Caesar, Capresanella- fresh tomato, mozzarella & basil. Additions include Portobella, chicken, shrimp, crab cakes, lamb or brisket. There are so many options at BZ’s that you’re gonna want to take your time while perusing the extensive menu.

Another menu item that caught my eye was the Shrimp Po’ Boy ($12), delicately fried shrimp, pickled cucumber, mayo, lettuce and tomato. Yum. And yum for the next day when I ate the leftovers! The pickled cucumber is delicious; don’t take it off! We also tried the Big Texan ($11), which is Brisket, pickled onions, hot Chinese mustard, cheddar cheese and BBQ Sauce. Quite a mouthful of flavor but the brisket is melt-in-your-mouth, cooked for hours and hours and hours. Not a sandwich for the meek. I have to mention the Gyro ($11) made with real lamb, marinated and cooked to perfection, not lamb lunchmeat. I can’t wait to try it.

Burgers are also served up at BZ’s. We were pleasantly surprised to try the Turducken Burger ($12) a deconstructed version of the mythical Thanksgiving bird. BZ makes their burger with turkey dark meat (yum) layered with duck confit and topped with a fried egg, arugula and sage aioli. Turkey, duck & chicken all represented in this delectable burger version. The turkey was so flavorful, perfectly seasoned, juicy and moist. You know I’m never a straight up turkey burger fan but I would highly recommend this burger, I’m even going to order it again on my next visit. It’s that delicious! The fries that accompany the sandwiches and burgers are lightly dusted with a secret house made seasoning, you’ll definitely eat every one. A nice enhancement to the thin cut fries- my favorite kind.

BZ’s also makes pizzas. They offer everything from the classic to the Racy Swine ($12) with house made chorizo, bacon, pepperoni, mozzarella, red chili flakes and marinara sauce. Absolutely delicious. The 4- cut pizza is a hearty meal or enough to share along with a salad. Other offerings include the Fungi, Spanakopizza, spinach and feta delight, Pear & Blue with walnuts and truffle oil, or the Bedded Duck- duck confit with goat cheese, olive oil, garlic and arugula. I mentioned that one last because it’s another thing I can’t wait to try. Pizza crust is house made and the perfect consistency for the toppings. I know good dough! I adore homemade pizza dough and have tried several recipes in my home kitchen.

While sitting and chatting with Brandon, he suggested that we should try another specialty of the house: Mac and Cheese. We were presented with a Mexican Mac and Cheese ($15) with chorizo, goat cheese in their four-cheese classic mac, which we all loved. The Lo Country ($16) version adds pimento cheese and fried chicken! There’s even a Crabby ($16) mac and cheese!

If you’re a BLT fan, BZ’s just might be your spot. They offer a Classic ($8), Black N Bleu ($9) bleu cheese gremolata dressing, or a BLT du Jour featuring a bacon of the month. Yes, bacon. For $3 they will add 3 ounces of bacon to anything on the menu. Think of the possibilities!

This is a perfect opportunity to mention the Maple Bacon-infused Old Fashioned that we sampled. It was just one of the many signature drinks brought to BZ’s by Bar Manager Matt Nalepka. He’s a transplant, too, and also an award-winning martini maker! Pittsburgh will be happy to have him serving up some very special cocktails. I think having a cocktail is like having a little celebration, something you might never have at home. Cocktails are meant to be savored. At BZ’s, homemade syrups and stellar ingredients had us passing drinks around the table all evening. The Elderflower Fizz was heavenly, presented in the perfect glass with a lavender garnish. The Berry Sophisticate was so exotic, the blueberry garnish made me feel like I was in paradise. The Thai Coconut Tea was a nice twist on a favorite but my two favorites were the Key Lime Pie (order one!) and the Dirty Martini served with a pickle and spicy pickle juice. Wow! I snagged that drink immediately and claimed it as mine. I’m so looking forward to returning to BZ’s to try something new!

Now for the ever-changing craft beer selections. If you can’t land on one beer selection, try a flight. (Flights are the perfect complement to any mac and cheese choice, especially in these cold winter months. I think I’ll have my next mac and cheese at the bar!)

Entrees at BZ’s include Pepperonata ($15,) a hot Italian sausage served with onions, sweet peppers, and marinara sauce with Gemelli; Mushroom Ravioli ($15); Scampi Pasta ($15) (adding chopped bacon to that is an extra $3); and Dry Aged Ribeye ($26), which I cannot wait to try! A Fish Dish is offered in limited quantities as is a daily special.

We shared the Chicken Marsala ($14), and we all loved the roasted vegetables, which included Brussels sprouts, carrots and potatoes as the side. The Marsala was rich and delicious, and the chicken cooked to perfection. What a beautiful meal. And don’t forget to save room for their homemade desserts, S’Mores Cheesecake ($6), totally to die for, Chocolate Lava Cake ($6) and Dessert Du Jour. Very close attention is paid to presentation, and service at BZ’s promises to be great. Brandon’s experience in absolutely every aspect of the restaurant industry is evident in the professionalism and level of pride offered at this brand new establishment.

Weekly specials at BZ’s include:
Monday: Red Blooded Mondays–$6 BLTs or Burgers with Fries, 20% off Big Bottled Beers and a featured Bloody Mary
Tuesday: Backyard BBQ Tuesdays–House made BBQ platter for $10, includes 2 Sides and canned beer specials

Wednesday: Hump Day Happy Hour–specials from 5:00pm-9:00pm. Karaoke/DJ/Name That Tune and DJ Bromeo starting at 7:00pm
Thursday: Ladies Night–Special $5 Martini menu from 5:00pm-close, ½ off select apps. DJ Bromeo at 7:00pm. Monthly drawing giveaway.
Friday: Early Recess –Happy Hour specials from 3:00pm-7:00pm.
Saturdays start at 9:00pm–$5 Bombs and Beat The Clock starting at 10:00pm. $1 Domestic drafts
that go up a buck every hour till regular price. The establishment with the most employees present (must have at least 5 to qualify) will receive a free $100 tab.

Sunday: SIN Sundays–Service Industry Night
Happy Hour Specials: Monday – Friday (normal hours are 5pm-7pm) $3 draft beers, $6 Specialty Drinks and Martinis, ½ off Wine, and ½ off selected appetizers.

BZ’s Bar and Grill is located on the North Shore at 140 Federal Street next to PNC Park. 412-323-BZBG(2924). They are opened daily Monday through Sunday 11am-2am. Check them out on the web at

BZ's Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Dining – Saga Hibachi Steakhouse & Sushi Bar – Robinson – Pittsburgh

Icon Written by admin on October 27, 2010 – 9:26 am

Saga Hibachi Steakhouse & Sushi Bar

By: Nightwire

Saga is the latest addition in Settler’s Ridge Center, located in Robinson Township. We found SAGA’s atmosphere to be extremely inviting, tastefully decorated with silk foliage and a beautiful waterfall in the entry. In addition to a full bar and beautiful hibachi room, SAGA features a sushi bar draped in vines and wrapped in  enchanting hazy blue lighting spanning the length of the ceiling, with large, private booths. They also offer outdoor seating, ideal for a warm fall evening.  Upon entering, we were promptly greeted by the manager Sun, and Jason, one of Saga’s partners.  Saga was comfortably busy for Thursday early evening.  Since opening on April 8th, Saga is already seeing repeat business and building a solid customer base.  We cannot wait to tell you why!

We start at the bar.  Happy Hour at SAGA is from 4:30pm – 6:30pm, with two-dollar domestics and two-dollars off well drinks. SAGA offers a full bar. Bar Manager Gina started us with a Pineapple Passion ($6.00). This is a creamy coconut rum concoction with pineapple juice. Gina likens it to a “pineapple cotton candy”, not too sweet, not too fruity – a perfect blend of flavors. If you are planning to take a date or want to cozy up to someone special during this holiday season, we recommend the SAGA Volcano ($14.00).  This drink is large enough to share with two straws; a definite “Must try!”  The Volcano is a combination of gin, rum, and vodka with tangy orange and pineapple juices, served flaming!  The also offer an award wining “living & breathing” wine list that compliments both their lunch and dinner selections.

Gina definitely knows her way around the bar. She has created a whole menu to choose from of original martinis.  She quickly reminds us that Saga has plenty of non-alcoholic options and fun specialty drinks for children. We tried a Japanese orange soda – highly carbonated and tastily tart in a colorful glass bottle. SAGA offers Edamame, salted soybeans (in pods) a healthy alternative to bar nuts. They were delicious; we could not stop eating them.

Next came our appetizer, an artful array of sashimi ($5-$7.00 a la carte) nestled in flowers and bamboo, the presentation was spectacular. There was fresh cut Ahi tuna, salmon, flounder, snapper, and yellow fin. Definitely tender, delicious, top quality and the freshness of an ocean catch.

Next, we were off to the hibachi grill. The room is spacious yet extremely comfortable and personal.  The servers quickly served us a bowl of soup, a clear chicken and beef based broth garnished with mushroom and shallots very tasty, and definitely not salty.  Next, the salads served with Saga’s homemade house dressing, very creamy with a hint of apples and oranges, one of the best Japanese dressings we have ever tried.

Hibachi Chef Victor emerged from the kitchen and introduces himself. With ten years of experience, he is engaging and poised at the grill. We watch mesmerized as he turns stir-fry into a fascinating experience. He quickly ignites the grill and flames erupt like an inferno. He balances and cracks an egg with just a spatula, quickly slices an onion into a flaming and steaming volcano. A minute into this charismatic show, he quickly proceeds to make a heart-shaped rice mound sizzling on the grill, which he brings to life with a throb from the spatula. Next, we watch as the vegetables cook, with precision and care.  Then he proudly presents us with a glimpse of what’s going onto the grill.  He turns this meat and seafood platter into mouth watering delicacies all seasoned to perfection and not overly saturated with soy sauce.  Saga only uses low sodium soy sauce, which truly enhances and lets the flavors blend rather than over powered with soy sauce.  The filet was melt in your mouth tender, cooked to perfection.  The chicken was moist and extremely flavorful as was the shrimp and scallops, delicious!  The lobster tails were perfectly grilled and succulent – no dipping butter required, you will want to savor every bite. SAGA serves very generous portions and their prices are extremely moderate for the quality and quantity of food they serve. Entrees range from $15- $39.00, there is also a children’s menu available $10.00 -$12.00. Saga is by far the best Japanese Steak house in the greater Pittsburgh area, they offer a variety of fresh seafood and traditional dishes with great service in a professional, friendly and elegant environment.  Saga is definitely the premier address for serious seafood and service where your experience will be unforgettable.  Saga experience the difference!

In addition to the Robinson restaurant, they have two other locations; Cranberry, which is currently celebrating their “Grand Opening” and Monroeville, with a third location coming soon to the South Hills.

Open Monday – Thursday 11am-10P (lunch served 11am – 3pm, dinner 3pm-10pm) Friday Noon – 10pm (dinners served all day), Saturday Noon to 11pm and Sunday Noon – 10pm. Reservations recommended.

Saga also offers birthday celebration “special packages” for only $5.00. Package includes fried ice cream, a blooming, flaming lotus flower candle and a disco ball and all the servers singing a lively birthday song.  Saga also offers private party rooms for your holiday or any celebration and off site catering. Call 412-788-8668 ask for Sun, she’ll take care of everything and make sure your party is picture perfect!

Located at:

1040 Settler’s Ridge Center Rd

Robinson, PA 15205

Tel.: (412) 788-8668

Saga Hibachi Steakhouse & Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon


Icon Written by admin on August 15, 2010 – 7:19 pm

Nightwire likes to eat and we sure like to write about it!  Please read some of our reviews to find great places to eat!

Andrews Steak and Seafood – Northside – Pittsburgh

Archies – Pittsburgh

Bistro Soul – North Side – Pittsburgh

Bistro to Go – North Side – Pittsburgh

Blue – North Hills – Pittsburgh

BZ’s Bar and Grill – Pittsburgh

Cafe Notte – Emsworth – Pittsburgh

Cain’s Saloon – Dormont – Pittsburgh

Chicken Latino – Strip District – Pittsburgh

Di Pietro’s – Pittsburgh

Doce Taqueria – Pittsburgh

Emilia Romagna – Pittsburgh

Empire Palace – Pittsburgh

Everyday Noodles – Pittsburgh

Flavors of Fort Lauderdale – Florida

Four Wood Grill – Pittsburgh

Gabriella’s Restaurant – Pittsburgh

Gaucho Parrilla Argentina – Pittsburgh

Hofbräuhaus – Pittsburgh

Hokkaido Seafood Buffet – Pittsburgh

Latitude 40 – Pittsburgh

Legume – Pittsburgh

Mandy’s Pizza – North Side / West View – Pittsburgh

Monte Cello’s – North Hills – Pittsburgh

Monte Cello’s – Wexford – Pittsburgh

Over The Bar Bicycle Cafe North Park Boathouse – Pittsburgh

Round Corner Cantina – Pittsburgh

Saga Hibachi Steakhouse & Sushi Bar – Robinson – Pittsburgh

Sauce – Bridgeville – Pittsburgh

Sharp Edge Brasserie – Pittsburgh

Sharp Edge Bistro – Pittsburgh

Shiloh Grill – Mt. Washington – Pittsburgh

Stonepepper’s Grill – Pittsburgh

Tailgaters – Pittsburgh

Taverna 19 – Pittsburgh

Union Pig and Chicken – Pittsburgh

Villa – South Side – Pittsburgh

Village Tavern & Trattoria – West End

Willow – Pittsburgh

Beers of Summer — 2018

Icon Written by admin on May 5, 2018 – 9:37 am

The Beers of Summer

Summer. Just the thought of the word brings back thoughts of warm weather, vacations, and kicking back on the porch with a few beers. Good beer is a crucial part to summer, so picking the right one is as important as choosing the best beach to visit on vacation.

As the wise sage and eminent musician Don Henley put it, I can tell you that my love for beer will still be strong even after the beers of summer have gone, but thankfully these beers are just arriving.

From shandys to pale ales to wheat beers and beyond…summer beers are all about refreshing you and beating the heat. There’s a special bond that exists between warm weather and cold beer. While beer is pretty great all year; there’s just something about a hot day that makes a beer taste better than normal.

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Dragons & YumYums – If there’s one thing the folks at Dogfish Head know, it’s how to pair music and beer up in a way that is never gimmicky or forced. Their most recent entry into their beer and music lineup comes by way of the weird and wonderful band The Flaming Lips. Together with the brewers at Dogfish Head, the band came up with a beer that fits their personality while fitting perfectly into DFH’s unique beer lineup. Dragons & YumYums is a 6.5% ABV “Lip-smacking” tart pale ale that’s brewed with dragonfruit, yumberry, passionfruit, pear juice, and black carrot. All ingredients you’d expect to find in a beer from Dogfish Head, and lineup just eclectic enough to do the Flaming Lips justice.

Anderson Valley Brewing Company
Briney Melon – Back in the early 16th century, the people of Golsar, Germany created a beer that was brewed with salt water and spiced with coriander and hops. Allowed to ferment with lactic bacteria, this tart beverage was a loved by the masses. As with all things, history has a way of repeating itself and Anderson Valley is here to help with their Melon Gose (prounouced go-zuh). This 4.2% ABV beer is light yet tart with a slightly salty taste. Perfect for warmer months, this beer is only around during the summer so make sure to try it before it’s history again.

G&T Gose – When it comes to classic cocktails, it’s hard to beat a gin and tonic. Simple, straightforward, and full of bright botanical flavors, it’s a real go-to drink. The brewers at Anderson Valley Brewing Company felt the same way, which is why they decided to translate this classic drink into beer form. Using a tart sour Gose beer as the base for the concoction, you’ll also find lemon peel, juniper, lemongrass, and grains of paradise along for the trip to give this bright, tart beer a truly refreshing edge that’s perfect for warmer months. Like many Gose-style beers, G&T Gose comes in at 4.2% ABV.

Summer Solstice – Unlike winter and fall beers, summer beers fall into quite a few categories and run the gamut of flavors. Take for example Anderson Valley’s Summer Solstice. This beer is slightly sweet with a malty backbone and a clean finish. Summer Solstice is considered a session beer, coming in at 5% ABV, making it perfect for having a few beers while barbequing or cutting the grass. Bravo hops give this beer a slight hop flavor and the light spice addition gives the beer a hint of caramel and spice, making it a “cream soda for adults” without being too sweet.

Bell’s Brewery
Oberon – Few things taste more like summer than a cold can of Bell’s Oberon. This 5.8% ABV wheat beer features a spicy hop character with mild fruity aromas. The malt gives this beer a smooth mouthfeel and pleasant lightness that makes it nearly perfect for the warm summer months. Oberon is available in 12-oz cans as well as the 16-oz pint cans, giving you the exact right amount of beer to make the porch-sitting months hopefully last forever.

Heavy Seas Beer
Smooth Sail – Wheat ales seem to make the best summer beers, but sometimes they can get a little bit overused and, dare I say, boring. The folks at Heavy Seas Beer agree on both counts, which is how their Smooth Sail Summer Ale was born. This 4.5% ABV wheat ale is brewed with lemon and orange peel, giving the finish on this beer a great citrus kick. Since cans are the best beer vessel for the summer, this beer will only be available in cans and on draft. So, grab a can, kick back, and enjoy the tastes of summer without worrying about broken bottles or boring beers.

North Country Brewing Company
Bucco Blonde – Blonde ales are typically light and refreshing, making them a perfect match for warm weather, and North Country Brewing’s Bucco Blonde just that. This 4.9% blonde ale has a great malty body with just a hint of bitterness to balance things out. Best of all, this beer is brewed specifically for our very own Pittsburgh Pirates, and more specifically for Bucco’s pitching coach Ray Searage, also known as Uncle Ray. To sweeten the deal even more, proceeds from Bucco Blonde go to benefit the Make a Wish foundation.

Victory Brewing Company
Summer Love – Returning this summer again in a can, Victory’s seasonal Summer Love comes to us in the go-anywhere 12-oz can. While there are many reasons to love summer, Summer Love is possibly the best. This golden ale comes in at 5.2% ABV and features tastes of fresh, clean German malts with earthy, spicy noble European hops, and finishes up with a slight lemon aftertaste thanks to some whole flower American hops used in the brewing process.

Troegs Brewing Company
Crimson Pistil – What do you think of when you think of summer? Pools, grass cutting, and the beach are all good candidates, but one thing that’s probably present in every image is bright, colorful flowers. Summer is when the beautiful hibiscus flower blows, and Troegs Brewing decided to take full advantage of it this year for their new Crimson Pistil Hibiscus IPA. This 6.2% ABV beer features a mix of berry-like tanginess, tropical hop notes, and a hearty dose of bitterness to give you your new favorite summertime beer.

Erie Brewing Company
Soleil Shandy – Shandys are perfect for the summer. They’re light, refreshing, and exactly what you need for a day spent in the sun. Erie Brewing’s Soleil Summer Shandy is a great example of what a shandy should be. The beer comes in at 3.5% ABV and features bright raspberry and lemon flavors with a backbone that’s all beer. Unlike flavored beers, shandys are a blend of fruit juice and lager, done so that you can enjoy beer in the warmer weather without having to resort to anything less flavorful.

Oskar Blues Brewery
Fugli IPA – Not all IPAs are meant to be high in alcohol and super bitter, far from it. Take for example Fugli from Oskar Blues Brewing. Along with the bright hop flavors you’d expect from an IPA you’ll find hints of blueberry, tangerine, and citrus thanks to the Yuzu, Ugli fruit, and Mosaic hops. Best of all, Fugli comes in at 5.8% ABV so you’re not overdoing it when the days get long, and the nights get warm.

Otter Creek Brewing Co.
Orange Dream Cream Ale – There was a time when cream ales ruled the beer world. They were low in bitterness, easy to drink, and cheap to make. As with many things, everything old is new again, and with that is a resurgence of the beloved cream ale. Returning for 2018 is Otter Creek Brewing’s take on the cream ale, their 5.25% ABV Orange Dream that features flavors of orange peel, citrus, and malty goodness. Inspired by the orange-flavored ice cream that we’ve all loved at one time or another, this beer is meant for the hot summer months and like most beers in this list, is avaialbe in a can so it can go where you go, too.

Saugatuck Brewing Company
Blueberry Lemonade Shandy – Lemonade stands are all nice and fine, but if more of them upgraded from lemonade mix to Blueberry Lemonade Shandy from Saugatuck Brewing Company, they’d probably make a little more money. This 5% ABV shandy has the bright lemon flavor you’d expect in a solid shandy with the added tartness of blueberries to give it a truly unique flavor profile that’s just perfect for summer.

Irish Beer All Year with O’Hara’s Brewery

Icon Written by admin on April 7, 2018 – 1:26 pm

Irish Beer All Year with O’Hara’s Brewery

With the number of breweries opening around us every day, it’s easy to believe that the craft beer movement is unique to the United States, but while we definitely have the most growth and expansion happening, other countries have been, and continue to have success in brewing great beer with quality ingredients. Take for example the family-owned Irish brewery O’Hara’s, also known as Carlow Brewing Company.

Based in County Carlow, Ireland, O’Hara’s mixes traditional Irish brewing practices with inspired craft beer creations to give us a brewery that’s both old and new, traditional and innovative. Founded in 1996, O’Hara’s took two years to completely restore the 19th century “Goods Store” they chose to be their brewpub as well as collect the required licenses, materials, and of course brewing equipment, officially launching their first beer in 1998.

The first beers produced by the fledgling brewery were their current year-round offerings of Irish Red and Curim Gold Celtic Wheat. The next year, O’Hara’s launched their current best-seller in the form of their ubiquitous Irish Stout. From there the brewery continued to brew traditional Irish beers like their Irish Red and Pale Ale while adding in seasonal beers and brews with higher hop content to meet the growing trend of hop-forward beers.

This lead O’Hara’s to start their craft-focused lineup of beers centered around the IPA style including their 51st State IPA, Freebird White IPA, HopSession IPA, and Notorious Red IPA. This also spawned their Hop Adventure series of beers as a seasonal offering, with each unique beer focused on one specific type of hop.

The brewery expanded their production capacity in 2005 and moved to an even larger brewery just a few years later in 2009. In 2011 the brewery added a significantly expanded kegging system to better distribute their award-winning beers.

Much like some of their American brewing brethren, O’Hara’s received a license to distill in 2012, adding even more history and innovation to their lineup.

Today O’Hara’s Irish lineup of beers are available thanks to distributors that understand that a craft beer doesn’t have to be American to be great. With the help of Vecenie’s Distributing in Millvale we’re able to enjoy these fine Irish beers not only for the now passed St. Paddy’s Day, but all year long.

Beer Lineup
While not all of O’Hara’s Irish Ales are available this side of the pond, knowing their lineup and what they have to offer is never a bad thing. One beer that’s always available to us is their tried and true O’Hara’s Irish Stout. This nitrogenated flagship beer comes in at 4.3% ABV and is uniquely Irish while staying true to the taste one would expect with a modern craft beer. First brewed in 1999, Irish Stout features a robust flavor that’s accentuated by complex coffee and licorice notes in both the aroma and flavor. The combination of traditional hops with modern Fuggle hops give this beer a slightly more hop-forward flavor while not stepping outside of the flavor profile one would expect with an Irish Stout.

O’Hara’s Irish Stout uses no less than five varieties of wheat and malt to craft the flavor, aroma, and mouthfeel of this award-winning beer. This, paired with a secret recipe of hop varieties and additions leaves you with a beer that’s traditional enough to evoke memories while exciting enough to warrant a spot on your favorite beer list all year long.

One of the two original beers brewed more than seventeen years ago, O’Hara’s Irish Red Ale is a malty, complex example of a traditional Irish Red Ale that stands out from a category that can sometimes be less than impressive. This 4.3% ABV beer features a low bitterness level that allows the bready maltiness to show through beautifully. While often overused, O’Hara’s Irish Red Ale is the definition of smooth and balanced, allowing the beer to be somewhat sweet and bready while staying far away from being cloying or sugary.

Originally known as Moling’s Red Ale when first brewed, this is one beer that has stood the test of time and will be around for years to come.

While Ireland isn’t typically known for pale ales, O’Hara’s Irish Pale Ale will leave you wondering just why that is. This 5.2% ABV beer follows suit with traditional European IPAs while adding a generous amount of dry hopping that is more in-line with American pale ales. Best described as refreshing and zesty, the bitterness in this IPA (Irish Pale Ale) is balanced yet bright enough to bring out the fruit and floral notes hiding just below the surface.

With the success of their Irish Stout, O’Hara’s brought on another Irish style stout with their Leann Folláin. Gaelic for “wholesome stout,” this intense beer is a full-bodied Irish stout that features flavors of dark chocolate, vanilla, and balanced bitterness.

With a balance between sweetness and bitterness, you get a bite of hop bitterness on the finish after a pleasant flavor of chocolate and vanilla. Think of the 6% ABV Leann Folláin as the big brother to O’Hara’s Irish Stout.

Sticking with the traditional names for beers, O’Hara’s Curim Gold Celtic Wheat is named for the old Celtic word for beer, “Curmi/Cuirim.” Diverging from the traditional wheat beer style, Curim features a higher hop rate than typical wheat ales, which means the result is a beer with a slightly tart finish that helps to balance the fruity ester flavors of peach, banana and plum.

Curim Gold comes in at 4.3% ABV and thanks to its higher alpha-acid content hops, gives you a wheat beer that has more than meets the eye.

Look for O’Hara’s Irish Ales on draft and in bottles both at your favorite craft beer bars as well as your local distributor or bottle shop. With so many different breweries in the world, it can be tough to know which ones are truly independent and family-owned and which ones are not. Thankfully O’Hara’s Irish Brewery has been independent and family-owned since opening more than 17 years ago, and continues that tradition today.

Travel Like a Local

Icon Written by admin on March 4, 2018 – 2:23 pm

Travel Like a Local

Insider Tips from Ambassadors Around the World
At TravelBird, we inspire curious people to explore the world and discover something new. We use local insight and insider tips so that our travelers experience the very best of a destination. Our latest travel insight comes from some very special local experts. We contacted ambassadors from all over the world and asked them to share their unique cultural knowledge and destination highlights with us. As representatives of their native country around the globe, we were curious to hear what they offered up and eager to share their recommendations with our travelers.
We asked ambassadors two very simple but revealing questions. If a traveler only has 48 hours in their country, what should they see, do and eat? And, are there any misconceptions or incorrect clichés about their country?

Mr. Giorgio Novello – Italy
If a person is visiting Italy for 48 hours, where should they go? What should they see? What should they eat?
“I would of course recommend Venice, Florence and Rome, which are by the way connected by an excellent network of high speed trains. Since I want to suggest something original I would recommend three areas located very closely to Venice, Florence and Rome respectively: Near Venice: inland waterways navigation on the Brenta through Padua and to the Euganean hills. All in all, some seventy kilometers navigation by boat in an idyllic countryside landscape first along the banks of the river Brenta and their Venetian countryside villas (including one by Palladio, which is now of the UNESCO world heritage list) then through Padova/Padua, home to the third oldest University in Europe and the first to award a degree to a woman in 1678; and finally to the foot of the Euganean hills and the Medieval city of Monselice.

Not far from Florence: the Literary Landscape Giosué Carducci in Castagneto Carducci. Literary landscapes are cultural itineraries in the places where important Italian writers and poets lived or set their masterpieces. In a Literary Landscape you can for instance visit the house of birth of an author or the school he/she attended, the rooms in which he/she composed their works; attend readings from their works; participate in events such as concerts and theater performances, enjoy traditional food in listed restaurants…The Literary Landscape Giosue’ Carducci is important because it is devoted to the Nobel Prize Winner in 1906 who also established the Dante Alighieri Society which today is in charge of the Literary Landscapes all over Italy.

Near Rome: the small village of Tolfa, on top of a hill, some 45 minutes from Rome, which has hosted for the last 20 years a prestigious Norwegian-Italian cultural Institute and has become a magnet of cultural, literary and scientific exchanges between Southern and Northern Europe. Worth seeing is also its archaeological museum with Etruscan findings.”
Is there a common cliche about people in Italy which you believe is misrepresentative or untrue?
“A common cliché about Italy is that my country is very strong in soft skills (including fashion, design, cuisine, art) and weak in hard skills (engineering, scientific research, aerospace). The fact is that Italy is also a leading country in advanced technology, science, nanotechnologies, pharmaceuticals, energy, aerospace. For instance, machine tools and mechanical engineering are the most important component of our export and we are today the 5th largest manufacturer in the world after the United States, China, Japan and Germany.”

Mr. Tomislav Bošnjak – Croatia
If a person is visiting Croatia for 48 hours, where should they go? What should they see? What should they eat?
“Two days in Croatia, notwithstanding the seasons, would probably be best spent by visiting first Dubrovnik, walking around the city walls, drinking malvasija wine and eating a traditional fish grill with silver beet and potatoes, and finishing off with a rožata. Then travel to Plitvice, walk around the waterfalls, drink šljivovica (plum brandy) and eat a meal of cured and smoked meat with sauer kraut and potatoes, before having lička pita for desert. Then travel to Zagreb, visit the Cathedral, the Gornji grad (Upper City) with St Mark’s Church, the Jelačić Square and the City Market, have štrukli and Zagrebački schnitzel, wash it down with local beer or a local dry wine mixed (half – half) with Jamnica sparkling mineral water which is locally known as a ‘gemišt’.”
Is there a common cliche about people in Croatia which you believe is misrepresentative or untrue?
“Croats are sometimes described as being reserved and insular by those who do not know them. 18 million annual visitors to Croatia are finding for themselves a completely different story.”

Mr. Matthijs van Bonzel – Netherlands

If a person is visiting Netherlands for 48 hours, where should they go? What should they see? What should they eat?
“If you’re in the Netherlands for only 48 hours, I recommend that you spend some time in our capital, Amsterdam, and soak up the history and culture of this beautiful city. Rent a bike and cycle along the canals or take a boating trip. Pay a visit to the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum or Anne Frank House and visit a pleasant terrace café afterwards.

If you manage to do that all in 24 hours, I recommend you spend the last 24h somewhere outside of Amsterdam. Take a short train trip to The Hague and Rotterdam, for example. Visit the Dutch Parliament and the Mauritshuis in The Hague or explore modern Rotterdam and visit the biggest port of Europe. The Netherlands offers something to everyone.

What to eat Go Dutch and try ‘poffertjes’, a ‘kroket’ or ‘frikandel’. If you’d rather eat something more elaborate, you could opt for a ‘rijsttafel’, the dishes served are actually Indonesian, but its origins were colonial. The Dutch introduced the rijsttafel during their presence in Indonesia, hence the Dutch name. Of course you should also take some ‘stroopwafels’ back home.”
Is there a common cliche about people in Netherlands which you believe is misrepresentative or untrue?
“Don’t worry, we don’t all smoke weed!”

Mr. Jorge-Castro Valle – Mexico
If a person is visiting Mexico for 48 hours, where should they go? What should they see? What should they eat?
“Definitely visit Mexico City, as it is the capital of the country, it offers many things so it is a nice city for a short stay. Travellers should visit the historic center of the city as it’s a must-see. They should also visit the Zócalo, the cathedral, the murals in the National Palace, as well as walk along Madero Street, Bellas Artes and the Alameda. To know a little bit more about the history of Mexico, it would be nice to visit the Museum of Anthropology and History. The pure architecture of the museum is worth the visit. And if people are interested in contemporary art, the Tamayo Museum offers, besides the work of Mexican artists, a very good selection of temporary exhibitions.

Travelers should also make a visit to Coyoacán, which is a colony that still keeps much of it past and whose center is a place of recreation for families. In addition, there is the house of Frida Kahlo, and the Anahuacalli Museum of Diego Rivera. If there is time, it’s nice to visit the Teotihuacán pyramids.

And for eating, I would recommend everything! From tacos de pastor, suadero or campechanos on the street, to the contemporary cuisine of fine Mexican dining. Travelers should not miss the opportunity to visit the markets, such as Mercado de San Juan or Mercado de Medellín.

In a country like Mexico, food plays a fundamental role. Much of the social interaction happens through food, so the best way to start to know the country is by the stomach.”
Is there a common cliché about people in Mexico which you believe is misrepresentative or untrue?
“There are some clichés about México and the Mexican citizens, but part of it is because of missing of information, or some clichés are about the old Mexico. One of the best examples of it could be the Mexican sleeping under a cactus with a tequila bottle.”

Mr.Nagy Zoltán – Hungary
If a person is visiting Hungary for 48 hours, where should they go? What should they see? What should they eat?
“Walk on the Margaret-bridge, and on the banks of the Danube in Budapest, visit the Parliament, take a ride on a boat, and visit the Castle. Other notable cities to visit include Szentendre (25 km North of Budapest), Visegrád, the Danube bend, and Tihany (Lake Balaton). Try one of the Thermal baths in Budapest (Gellért, Rudas or Lukács). Those visiting should eat Hungarian Gulash, Fish soup, Wiener Schnitzel, lecsó, stuffed cabbage, and the cakes: Dobos cake, Somlói galuska.”
Is there a common cliché about people in Hungary which you believe is misrepresentative or untrue?
Some misconceptions include -“Hungarians do not speak languages: in fact, the young people speak English, and in Budapest, in most of the shops and services English is spoken. Hungarians are xenophobic: Hungarians (mainly in the smaller cities) love foreigners, the hospitability of Hungarians is famous (they ask you if they can help, if you are seemingly lost, they share their food with you, and offer you pálinka (strong short drink) until you can drink. Antisemitism: we have several working synagogues in Budapest, the Central Synagogue is the largest in Europe. The Jewish district is the most vivid part of the capital with restaurants, shops, Jewish community houses, pubs.”

Mr. Román Macaya – Costa Rica
If a person is visiting Costa Rica for 48 hours, where should they go? What should they see? What should they eat?
“Experience Costa Rica’s strikingly diverse terrain with lush forests, wildlife reserves, and tropical beaches which offer something for every traveler. Beach-lovers should stay along the Pacific Coast and head to Guanacaste and the Nicoya Peninsula’s. Nature-seekers should stay in the Northern Plains or along the Caribbean coast and visit Puerto Viejo, before going to Monteverde Cloud forest and hike Arenal Volcano. If they are interested in going to San José, the capital, they can visit the National Theater, the Cathedral, Barrio Amón (one of the oldest neighborhoods in the country), the National Park, the Jade and Gold Museums, and the National Zoo. The typical Costa Rican lunch consists of rice, beans, chicken or meat, mature bananas and fruits that are produced throughout the year.”
Is there a common cliché about people in Costa Rica which you believe is misrepresentative or untrue?
“Untrue cliché: Travelers come to enjoy Costa Rica´s natural wonders during their vacations, and may leave believing that all Costa Ricans live a similar ‘vacation lifestyle’ year round. However, the work ethic of Costa Ricans is very strong, with many Costa Ricans working in high value services and high-tech manufacturing. Many people, even those who have visited Costa Rica, have the idea that Costa Rica’s economy is primarily agricultural, when in fact our main exports are high value services and medical devices.”

Ms. Elizabeth Ellison-Kramer – Austria
If a person is visiting Austria for 48 hours, where should they go? What should they see? What should they eat?
“As I was born in Vienna, I would recommend the capital of Austria. Go to Schönbrunn castle, the former imperial summer residence, which was built during the reign of Empress Maria Theresa, and is definitely worth visiting and among the most popular sights. I would also recommend visiting Salzburg and the small town of Oberndorf, near Salzburg. In Oberndorf stands the chapel where the song ‘Silent night’ was first performed in 1818 on Christmas Eve and was declared a cultural heritage site by UNESCO. Vienna for example is famous for its coffee house culture offering a wide selection of different coffees as well as sweet treats (Sachertorte, Linzer Torte, and Kaiserschmarrn). For those who like meat dishes, Wiener Schnitzel is a must.”
Is there a common cliché about people in Austria which you believe is misrepresentative or untrue?
“Stereotypes about Austria are full of folklore picturing Austrians wearing Dirndl and Lederhose, skiing a lot and loving Sound of Music. I believe that Sound of Music is actually more popular outside of Austria. However, it is true, that especially in the West, many Austrians are fond of skiing. Austria is not only famous for its historic sites but also known for modern and environment friendly architecture.”

Mr. Aníbal de Castro – Dominican Republic
If a person is visiting Dominican Republic for 48 hours, where should they go? What should they see? What should they eat?
“The Dominican Republic has a great diversity of beaches, with golden sands in the north, white sand beaches in the east and black sand or rocks in the south. This variation allows people to enjoy a very diverse experience within the Caribbean.

I would suggest setting off on a Saturday on a catamaran excursion to Saona Island: swimming in its clear waters and walking on its white sand will be an unforgettable experience. Another option is to go to Palmar de Ocoa bay, where visitors can enjoy spectacular views and a gentle breeze, and afterwards visit Ocoa Bay, where you can taste the wine selection of the most important vineyard in the country. Sunday is the best day to tour the streets of the first city of the Americas by bicycle, exploring the cultural offering, local design shops, and cafes. Visitors can take advantage of a wide selection of local gastronomy in the Colonial Zone. To top it off, I would recommend ending the day by dancing Son and Merengue to the notes of the Bonyé group in front of the colonial ruins of the San Francisco Monastery.”
Is there a common cliché about people in Dominican Republic which you believe is misrepresentative or untrue?
“The relaxed mood of Dominican people should not be confused with a lack of appetite for work. Quite the opposite, Dominicans are tenacious and entrepreneurial and work from sunrise to sunset with a good disposition and positive attitude.”

Mr. Jørn Eugene Gjelstad – Norway
If a person is visiting Norway for 48 hours, where should they go? What should they see? What should they eat?
Visit -“Oslo (Opera House, Munch museum, Vigeland park, Fram museum). There are not many better places for a drink along the fjord than the Opera house. The architecture is stunning and it is so much fun for kids to run on the roof. The nearby Sørenga offers swimming in an urban oasis, and you should not miss the Astrup Fearnley museum. Then take the train to Bergen and have a walk from the charming fishing wharf up to Fløyen. It takes you through a historical and very beautiful residential area, gives you a good scenic experience and finally an amazing view over Bergen, the fjord and the mountains. If you prefer, you can take the cable car up, and walk down. It is just as good. Enjoying nature and the outdoors is considered a national pastime in Norway, and this is reflected in our attitude towards the preservation and use of the nature. lists eco-friendly hotels and destinations. You can’t visit Norway without eating seafood such as salmon, shrimps, muscles in classic or more modern culinary versions. Try also geitost, the sweet goat cheese that all Norwegians use on their ‘matpakke’ their home made sandwich which they take to school or to work.”

Is there a common cliché about people in Norway which you believe is misrepresentative or untrue?
“Norwegian are ‘cold’ people. This is far from true. They have a different mentality compared to more southern countries, yes, they might not talk on the bus or speak to strangers, but cold no. When you make a Norwegian friend you have a friend forever!”

Mr. Fernando Bucheli – Ecuador
If a person is visiting Ecuador for 48 hours, where should they go? What should they see? What should they eat?
Travellers -“should visit the Old Town of Quito, and after go to the ‘Mitad del Mundo’ monument. The next day you should go to Mindo Valley which is a subtropical forest, two hours away from the capital. In terms of food, for breakfast it would be nice to eat coffee with ‘bolones verdes’. For lunch, I recommend shrimp ceviche, ‘locro’ (potato soup), ‘seco de gallina’, fruit ice-cream, and pancakes with chocolate, as it is made with the best cacao of the world. Finally for dinner, it is really nice to eat chicken soup.”
Is there a common cliché about people in Ecuador which you believe is misrepresentative or untrue?
“The straw hat is confused with the so-called Panama hat, which is originally from Ecuador not from Panama.”

Mrs. Ritva Koukku-Ronde – Finland
If a person is visiting Finland for 48 hours, where should they go? What should they see? What should they eat?
“For 48 hours we recommend staying in the Helsinki region, visiting the city center, exploring Jugend architecture in the old town and modern, sustainable building style in Jätkäsaari or Kalasatama. We also recommend the islands around the city (Suomenlinna, a Unesco World Heritage site), the old town of Porvoo with beautiful wooden houses and the Nuuksio national park in Espoo. Depending on the season some of the outdoor activities can also be changed into museum visits.

For sightseeing in Helsinki, go to the Helsinki Cathedral, Temppeliaukio Church, Ateneum Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki Market Hall, Tori Korttelit – Design District, Public sauna complexes Löyly and Allas Sea Pool. A new exciting thing for 2018 is the opening of Amos Rex, a new arts museum in the heart of Helsinki.

When in Finland you should definitely try the pure tastes of local nature, like freshwater fish and reindeer as well as berries and mushrooms. Wild and local food tastes intensive and is pure and clean. The traditional Finnish rye-bread is also a must-try.”
Is there a common cliché about people in Finland which you believe is misrepresentative or untrue?
“A cliché is that Finnish people are very shy and introvert. We might be a little shy but people who travel to Finland normally say that Finnish people are friendly, hospitable and heartfelt. When Finns meet new people for the first time, they tend to take the role of the observer and want to be polite and give the guest first some own space.”

Ms. Susan Bincoletto – Canada
If a person is visiting Canada for 48 hours, where should they go? What should they see? What should they eat?
“Everyone knows that Canada is a large country, but often time’s visitors don’t realize just how large it is. For comparison, the land mass of Switzerland would fit into Canada over 240 times! Therefore, my recommendation would be to focus on a region or one of Canada’s big cities. As I was born in Montreal, Quebec, it is my top recommendation for an amazing 48 hours in Canada. Montreal is a truly bilingual city where you are likely to hear individuals switch back and forth from English to French within one conversation. Visitors can enjoy a mosaic of cultures set against the backdrop of one of Canada’s oldest cities. I recommend that visitors take in the charming cobblestone streets of the city’s old district to see how the city first began to develop and check out the Notre-Dame Basilica with its incredible stained glass art. A walk to Mount Royal Park to take in the view and a couple of selfies is also a must. Once you have your history fix, treat yourself to some retail therapy by exploring the shops along Rue Sainte-Catherine, one of the longest shopping streets in Canada, where you will find cool shoes at Little Burgundy, Montreal-designed vegan leather goods at Matt & Nat, and great fashion at Simons. Come the evening, no visit to Montreal would be complete without a night out at a hockey game. Enjoy the passion of the fans of the Montreal Canadiens (or The Habs as they are more commonly known). The Habs have the honor of being the longest continuously operating professional ice hockey team in the world and some of the most loyal fans around.

As for food, there is much fun to be had in Montreal. You cannot miss a smoked-meat sandwich at world-famous Schwartz’s deli and make sure you take the time to find out why Montreal-style bagels are so beloved by grabbing a bag from St-Viateur to take home for enjoyment later. Finally, dive in to a classic French-Canadian treat like poutine, the traditional recipe is simply French fries covered with cheese curds and gravy, but there is a whole assortment of exciting ways to enjoy this comfort food.”

Is there a common cliché about people in Canada which you believe is misrepresentative or untrue?
“Honestly, a lot of the clichés are quite accurate: Canadians are friendly, tolerant, and, sorry, but we do apologize a lot. A less accurate cliché is the idea that Canadians are a rural people. Of course as the world’s second largest country, we have a huge amount of land and space for our population of 36 million. However, 81% of Canadians actually live in urban centers and these urban centers are overwhelmingly multicultural; in fact Toronto is recognized as the world’s most multicultural city. As a result, we have vibrant and innovative creative industries, performers and artists and we are lucky to enjoy a remarkable array of culinary experiences. While we have become an urban people, Canadians enjoy our natural endowments during their free time and are thankful to those who cultivate and protect these areas.”

Ms. Melita Sta. Maria-Thomeczek – Philippines
If a person is visiting Philippines for 48 hours, where should they go? What should they see? What should they eat?
Travelers -“should visit the islands! A good way to do this is to go through Cebu in order to avoid the gridlock of Manila’s roads. Cebu itself offers a range of attractions, including lovely beaches. You shouldn’t miss the local ‘lechon’ (succulent roast pig) or the ‘sutokil’ (fish prepared three ways: grilled, as a soup, and something similar to ceviche). Bohol is also just a two-hour ferry ride away and offers more white strands, the Chocolate Hills, and the beautiful Loboc River, among others. It also has a lot of old churches, which unfortunately suffered damage in an earthquake a few years ago but are now being restored.”
Is there a common cloche about people in Philippines which you believe is misrepresentative or untrue?
“Filipinos are famously lighthearted and good-humored, so some people underestimate how serious and deeply committed they can be when entrusted with responsibility or engaged in serious discussion.”

Ms. Nicole Roberton – New Zealand
If a person is visiting New Zealand for 48 hours, where should they go? What should they see? What should they eat?
“New Zealand may be a small country but it is jam-packed with jaw-dropping natural scenery, vibrant modern cities, picturesque cycling and walking trails, dynamic arts and culture, adventure activities, and film locations. I promise you won’t regret extending your stay, especially as doing so will give you more opportunities to sample some of New Zealand’s world-famous beef, lamb and oysters, washed down with award-winning pinot noirs and sauvignon blancs.”
Is there a common cliché about people in New Zealand which you believe is misrepresentative or untrue?
“It’s not a cliché, but it’s amazing how many European people tell me that as children, they assumed everyone in New Zealand had to somehow walk upside down. It’s also interesting that, despite the fact that the world is round, when people produce flat maps, New Zealand always ends up in the bottom left hand corner, looking like we are at the end of the earth. To counter this, we have some excellent alternate maps, like The Upside Down World Map… Location is in the eye of the beholder!”

Mr. Luis F Carranza – Guatemala
If a person is visiting Guatemala for 48 hours, where should they go? What should they see? What should they eat?
“Definitely, tourists have to visit ‘Old Guatemala’ only 40km away from the main city, as it is a colonial city recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site. In Antigua Guatemala there are some of the best restaurants. I would recommend eating a ‘Parrillada Chapina’, roast, black beans, rice and guacamole. There are more elaborated dishes such as ‘Ka’ik’, which is a thick soup made with turkey and unique spices from Guatemala. And from Antiguan, the tourist can visit the Atitlán Lake, where you can value the Mayan culture, and also in this area it is possible to climb some active volcanos, which are really next to the capital, such as ‘Pacaya’ or ‘Volcán de Fuego’.”

Is there a common cliché about people in Guatemala which you believe is misrepresentative or untrue?
“I think there are lot of clichés, but the most common one is that people think Guatemala is a tropical country. It actually has many microclimates, so there are really high and low temperatures in the country. If you are next to the sea there is going to be a really warm weather, but if you are in the Western Highlands, the temperature can get below zero between December and February.”

Ambassadors in 53 countries were contacted between September 2017 and January 2018, of which over 100 answers were received. The decision was made to only showcase answers from ambassadors (i.e. not press officers or representatives of the embassy). This categorization process concluded with a total of 55 answers, from 36 different nationalities, based in 22 different countries.
The ambassadors were asked two questions about their country of origin. For example, the Italian ambassador based in Norway answered the questions about Italy.

The two questions were as follows:

• If a person is visiting your country for 48 hours, where should they go? What should they see? What should they eat?
• Is there a common cliché about people in your country which you believe is misrepresentative or untrue?

Therefore, based on the above example, the Canadian ambassador based in Switzerland would then reply with recommendations on what Canadian food to eat and any incorrect clichés about Canada.

Ellicottville Brewing Company

Icon Written by admin on March 4, 2018 – 2:20 pm

Ellicottville Brewing Company

Born out of the heart of ski country in New York State, Ellicottville Brewing Company has been making their take on old world-style beers for more than 20 years and counting. Founded in 1995 by Peter Kreinheder, Ellicottville Brewing Co., or EBC as it’s known to those of us into the whole brevity thing, started with the idea that ski country needed some better beer than what was currently available, which in 1995 wasn’t much at all.

Ellicottville Brewing’s first location was in, you guessed it, the Village of Ellicottville, NY. Since the founding of the brewery in 1995, two more locations in Fredonia and Bemus Point, NY have opened to help spread the good word of craft beer and amazing food. In 2013 the original brewpub was expanded into an 8,000 sq. ft. facility featuring a restaurant, brew house, and German beer garden. Standing by their slogan of “Brewed to Entertain,” EBC has continually made outstanding beers that never fail to please. With a focus on fresh ingredients and a want to follow the idea of “Farm to Pint,” EBC is still going strong 23 years later with no signs of slowing down. Best of all, thanks to Vecenie Distributing we’re finally able to get EBC beers here in the City of Champions.

Like most craft breweries, Ellicottville Brewing Co. has both year-round and seasonal brews so we can have our favorite beers all year, and enjoy some extra special beers tied to each season. As an added bonus, EBC launched their Imperial Series in 2015, under which they have been able to release some very unique beers with a little higher gravity than your typical beer has to offer.

EBC focuses on old world-style beers with a modern twist, which means that while they mostly start with tried and true styles of beer, these common brews are spiced up with something extra special. Whether it’s adding fruit to a hefeweizen or peanut butter to a porter, EBC mixes the old and the new to make truly unique craft beers.

Everyday Series

Blueberry Wheat Ale – Refreshing at any time of the year, EBC’s Blueberry Wheat Ale comes in at a sessionable 4.8% ABV, featuring fresh blueberries, Canadian 2-row barley, white wheat, and noble German hops to give you a beer that’s light, crisp, and always fresh. On the nose you’ll get a fresh blueberry aroma that’s followed by a light malty body and a bright blueberry taste. The finish is slightly dry with a light, lingering blueberry flavor.

Keepin’ It Peel – Brewed in the style of American IPA, Keepin’ It Peel comes in at 5% ABV and features flavors of grapefruit and lime peel, giving this already citrus-forward beer a bright, fresh flavor and aroma that’s not overpowered by a higher ABV as with other American IPAs.

Stainless Steel IPA – Another take on the American IPA style, Stainless Steel IPA refers to the tanks in which most beers are brewed and fermented. Stainless Steel comes in at 7% ABV and 77 IBU and features juicy, flowery aromas backed up by a brilliant, complex flavor profile including citrus rind, light floral notes, and a hop-forward bitterness.

Seasonal Series

Ski Bum Hoppy Ale – Jumping over to the seasonal side of EBC, their Ski Bum Winter Ale may be on its way out as we get into Spring, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get ready for next year. Ski Bum is a crisp, hop-forward winter ale that pours a beautiful auburn color that features a 6% ABV, hoppiness thanks to Centennial hops, and a little holiday spice to make this beer bright and flavorful for those cold winter months.

Blood Orange Hefeweizen – Ellicottville Brewing takes the standard hefeweizen style of beer and adds the bright, refreshing character of Napa Valley blood oranges. With a slight bitterness, this sessionable 4.6% ABV beer has a clear blood orange flavor with a somewhat dry, earthy finish.

Mow Monster Ultra Pale Ale – Starting with Belgian Cara malts and an array of fresh American hops, EBC’s seasonal American pale ale is brewed for warm weather to be lighter-bodied while keeping tons of flavor and just enough bitterness to stay refreshing from start to finish, and at 5% ABV, this is one beer you can have a few of and not worry about your mowing.

Just Peachy Fruit Ale – Brewed in the shandy/radler style of beers, EBC’s Just Peachy is a sumer seasonal that uses barley and wheat paired with sweet Georgia peaches and black tea to give you a 4.2% ABV beer that’s light, refreshing, and ready for the hottest days you can throw at it.

Fall Festival Lager – Changing pace from the typical lineup of ales from EBC, their Märzen Fall Festival Lager uses fresh German Hallatauer hops and Munich malts to make a truly unique yet traditional 5.6% ABV beer to celebrate the yearly Oktoberfest season.

Mosaic Sunrise IPA – Brewed using all Mosaic hops, Mosaic Sunrise is a 6% ABV beer that comes loaded with layers of tropical fruit and big, bright aromas all neatly packaged in a hop-forward American IPA. Ringing in at 80 IBUs, this beer isn’t for the faint of heart, yet it is approachable enough for those just starting to worship at the chapel of the almighty hop, too.

Imperial Series

Chocolate Cherry Bomb – True to the series name, Chocolate Cherry Bomb is a big 8.2% ABV American imperial stout featuring English hops, chocolate malt, and Oregon sweet cherries. The result is a beer that is just about perfect for that very special day in February with someone extra special.

½ Baked Peanut Butter Porter – EBC starts with an American-style porter and ups the ABV to 7% while adding roasted peanuts to give this beer a real roasty peanut butter character that’s backed up by the American oats, British malts, and Canadian Barley. ½ Baked pours a near-perfect black with a creamy tan head and a silky-smooth mouthfeel.

Fistful of Peel Imperial Citrus IPA – Brewed in the American Imperial IPA style, Fistful of Peel comes in at 8% ABV and 82 IBU and features zesty orange, tart grapefruit, and bright lime peel all alongside the Centennial and Citra hops to give you loads of citrus goodness while keeping the fruitiness in check thanks to the hop-forward character found from start to finish in the big, bold beer.

Raspberry Beret Sour Ale – Now that you have Prince stuck in your head on repeat (you’re welcome), EBC’s take on the sour style of beers comes your way at 7% ABV and is specifically a kettle-soured raspberry blonde ale. That means you’re in for bright, tart flavors with a crisp sourness that has a somewhat malty, bready base. In short, this is one heck of a solid sour beer that’s still approachable.

Caramel Apple Cuvee – Some beers need a little time “in wood” to get the perfect flavor profile, and EBC’s Caramel Apple Cuvee is just such a beer. This 8.5% ABV strong blonde ale is aged in American Oak and is brewed with caramel, green apples, citrus, and vanilla. Together, these flavors meld into one truly amazing beer that finishes dry with a very prominent oak essence.

Swept Away by Grand Isle

Icon Written by admin on February 11, 2018 – 7:14 pm

Swept Away by Grand Isle
By Suzanne Ferrara

When you’ve got some of the best fishing, softest beaches, and hypnotizing surf right off the coast of Louisiana, who needs anywhere else?
Adding to its allure, Grand Isle oozes a presence unlike any place on earth, and is chock full of mystery, history and beauty. While this seven-mile barrier island may have been pummeled by hurricane after hurricane for more than a century, the squalls have never broken its spirit. Once you set foot on this island, you’ll feel as if you’ve discovered a world onto itself.

Fishing reigns on Grand Isle, and has ever since the Native Americans and perhaps the legendary Jean Lafitte used these waters. That’s not surprising since both inland and offshore waters hold a bounty of fish, shrimp and crabs. (Fun Fact: There are 280 species of fish and four seasons of fishing in and off of Grand Isle). Grand Isle has numerous fishing rodeos– for all ages— in the summer and fall, and the iconic Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo, which began back in 1928, takes place the last weekend of July. (Fun Fact: the Tarpon is the oldest tournament in the United States and is one of the largest fishing rodeos in south Louisiana).

Grand isle has certainly changed, as more people have discovered the unmatched treasure and millions of dollars have been spent to restore the coastline and marshes in and around the island. Where there was once a plethora of small fishing camps with no air conditioning, there are now gated communities with million dollar ‘camps’; ut perhaps the biggest jewel here is the authenticity of the real generational locals who have thrived off these waters and on the island for decades.

Although it’s only seven miles, a one-day visit is too short to completely experience the island. Don’t fish? That’s o.k. You can certainly experience Grand Isle without hooking a line, as the islanders make it easy and enjoyable for non-anglers as well.

If you don’t own a boat, no problem; just cast off the fishing pier at beginning of the island, surf fish off the beach or just drop a line from the side of the road. You can also come with only your sunscreen and an ice chest, and let one of several great fishing charters provide all the rods, reels, lures and live bait you need. Oh, and did I mention, your catch will be cleaned, filleted, and bagged for you to take home? It’s true; your catch will be quickly ready for either the grill or the freezer!

It’s hard to choose from the plethora of charters offered here because there are so many great boat captains who are not only passionate, but have also have the skill to know where to cast a line. One option is Spots and Specks Charters which offers inshore and coastal fishing courtesy Captain Eddie Berthelot, who grew up in nearby Golden Meadow. H & M Fishing Charters, with husband and wife Captains Jules and Pat Bellanger, offer excellent inland and coastal fishing as well.

If you want a fun offshore excursion, board the Nauti or Knot Charters where Captains Dennis and Amanda will ensure a trip to remember.

Need more fun and adventure? The ever-growing kayak charters are also available, and Ann Smith of Calmwater Charters will bring anglers to Grand Isle’s scenic marsh to find schools of fish. Plus, when speckled trout move off the beaches, Smith, who is also a wade fishing guide and instructor, can take you wade fishing as well.

Did you Know? Grand Isle is a bird lover’s paradise with thousands of migratory birds returning to this island each year. The island offers a perfect habitat for a variety of species who make their temporary homes in the marshes on the back of the island, the beach and the island’s Oak Hackberry Forest. There are at least 100 varieties of birds you may spot at any given time, ranging from the Brown Pelican to the blue heron to the warbler and, once in a while, the pink roseate spoonbill. (Fun Fact: Sometimes a strong thunderstorm will cause thousands of weary migratory birds, in the process of making their 500-mile journey across the Gulf of Mexico, to fall to safety into the branches of Grand Isle’s trees. This “fall-out” is truly a sight to behold)!
Once you’ve had a day of fishing and birding, you’ll be ready to relax and have a great dinner. One of the newer eateries on the island is the Hurricane Hole, a fine dining Italian-inspired restaurant, located in the heart of The Hurricane Hole Marina. Perhaps one of the best kept secrets at this marina, is the Old Blue Chair Bar, which is located behind the restaurant in the heart of the marina; it’s here where you watch one of the best sunset on Grand Isle.
Speaking of watching sunsets, another great place is the Sand Dollar Marina which has a tiki bar and features popular libations like The Marina Rita, Bloody Mary or White Russian. (Tip: ask for Brittany Allemande who will not only create some of the aforementioned cocktails, but is also the manager. She is a wealth of information on all things Grand Isle, and has been coming here since she was a baby to visit her grandmother). The Sand Dollar is the perfect place to sit back, eat (great burgers and shrimp po-boys at the deli) and watch the boats coming in with their catches, and you may even spot a few dolphins.
Want more options? Starfish Seafood is a quaint and cozy restaurant with great seafood platters and overstuffed shrimp po’boys; or head to Yum’s Restaurant for delicious oyster po’boys and mouthwatering specials. (Tip: Be sure to meet Leoda Bladsacker, who not only runs Yum’s, but will also give visitors a tour of the island if they ask her). Oh, and if you are looking for terrific fried or grilled shrimp, stop by Jo-Bobs Gas and Grill.

While we’re talking about seafood, Grand Isle is known for selling fresh seafood for you to take home to boil. A popular spot to pick up live shrimp, crabs and crawfish is Camardelle’s Seafood which sells boiled, ready-to-eat items as well.

Looking for entertainment? While many of the bars have some sort of live music on the weekends, a hot spot for nightlife is Artie’s (Big Daddy’s) Sports Bar which features live bands throughout the summer. This place touts itself as having the largest “topless” deck in the state which, by the way, overlooks the Gulf. (Tip: Be sure to order Artie’s Fried Chicken).

Where you choose to stay on Grand Isle depends on your preferences. There are beachfront and bayside camps (with or without boat docks), plus beach houses, condos, fishing cabins and a campground to pitch a tent.

If you are looking to take in the hypnotic surf and gorgeous views of the Gulf, make Shawnuff South your headquarters. This large and updated beach house has a bathroom in every bedroom, and it’s located on the third-to-last section of the island which has a much wider beach from which you can view the water. There’s also the historic Presidential Palace, which sits midway on the island with a great beach, and across the street is Castaways bar where you can grab a cocktail and then head out for a stroll on the beach. (Tip: Call Britani at Remax Coastal Reality who will be sure to place you in the perfect accommodations suitable for you. Britani knows the island very well and has visited Grand Isle for years).

If you are looking for paradise on the bay side, then make the Tipsy Tuna your temporary waterfront home. This property has a long pier which is lit up a night and is perfect for fishing. The porch and deck is great for watching the sunset, too.

If you want something more extravagant (one that is basically a marina unto itself), rent Spectacular, which is located at the end of the street, and is secluded and surrounded by water. Spectacular has a private boat launch and a safe harbor to protect your boat when water gets rough. There’s also a large entertainment area underneath the camp with swings, a picnic table, barbeque pit, a set-up for boiling seafood, a little cabana and a fish cleaning station. Its large wrap-around porch offers great water views for all of your guests (Spectacular accommodates up to 28 people)!

For more information go to:

Weyerbacher Brewing Company

Icon Written by admin on February 11, 2018 – 7:10 pm

Weyerbacher Brewing Company

When it comes to craft beer today, the need to stand out from the pack is more important than ever before. Back in 1995 when Dan and Sue Weirback opened the doors to their new brewery however, there wasn’t that much of a crowd to stand out from. With a total of 858 breweries in the United States when the Weirbacks started selling beer, it was a much different world than today’s world of more than 5,000 breweries.

That doesn’t mean the beer coming out of their livery stable in Easton, PA wasn’t impressive. As with most early craft breweries, Weyerbacher started by making more mainstream styles like ESB and Pale Ale. Even though there wasn’t nearly the number of breweries there are today, the need to stand out from the crowd was still important. Dan and Sue found their way to stand out thanks to their first big beer, Raspberry Imperial Stout. This hefty beer definitely got attention, so much so that the following year the pair brewed their Blithering Idiot Barleywine along with their first foray into the world of Belgian style beers.

With the success of these big, flavorful brews the future of Weyerbacher took shape and they haven’t looked back since.

Much like the beer they brew, the Weyerbacher name has quite a bit of history attached to it as well. The brewery name actually comes from the original spelling of the Weirback family name as it was spelled by the first immigrants in their family that came to America from Germany almost 200 years ago. Oh, and in case you need a little help with the name, it’s pronounced Wey•er•bach•er.
The Beers
While Weyerbacher may have made their mark with big beers, it’s not the only beers they brew. With a mix between big and little beers, Weyerbacher’s lineup really does have something for everyone.

Year-Round Beers
Blithering Idiot – One of the first beers Dan ever brewed, Blithering Idiot comes in at 11.1% ABV and just as much flavor. This big barleywine style ale is a deep copper color that features notes of date and fig. Blithering Idiot is brewed with hearty British beers in mind to give you a big beer that’s focused less on bitterness and more on well-rounded flavor.

Last Chance IPA – What’s better than a great IPA? A great IPA that does some good for the world, too. Weyerbacher’s Last Chance IPA is a 5.9% ABV ale with tons of Centennial, Cascade, Citra, and Mosiac hops that give the beer citrus aromas with tangerine and grapefruit flavors. Last Chance IPA goes a step further than most beers by giving a portion of the proceeds for the beer to local animal rescues to help these animal’s last chance at a happy life to be the best it can be.

Merry Monks – Another one of the earlier beers brewed by Weyerbacher, Merry Monks is a big 9.3% ABV Belgian-style tripel with a surprisingly complex flavor profile with all the notes of spice, banana, and pear you’d expect with a dry finish and overall medium body. In short, a really great example of a Belgian-style tripel.

Mellow Monks – For those of us looking to have more than one beer in a sitting, Weyerbacher brews their Mellow Monks, a 4.5% ABV Belgian-style golden ale that’s reminiscent of Merry Monks, just a little more mellow.

Speaking of the Monks, be on the lookout for Funky Monks, too. A funky take on the Belgian style beer, this is one that’ll be hard to find but well worth the search! This special release hit shelves in January and will be around until it’s all gone.

Sexy MotherPucker – A newer beer from Weyerbacher, Sexy MotherPucker is a homage to the classic blending of iced tea and lemonade with a definite beer twist. This 7.5% ABV sour ale has bright citrus notes along with a sour, tangy body and a nice dry finish. Not one to fall short on any side, this beer also features a late addition of Citra hops for some extra citrus flavor and aroma without too much added bitterness.

Tiny – Just like the biggest kid on the block with the same nickname, Tiny is one of the biggest beers offered by Weyerbacher, coming in at 11.8% ABV. This big little beer is a Belgian inspired imperial stout that features huge notes of chocolate and roasted malt that go along harmoniously with traditional Belgian beer flavors thanks to the Abbey yeast strain used in the fermentation process. Surprisingly smooth, Tiny lacks the astringency often found in stouts of its caliber.

Seasonal Beers
The best things in life are often limited, and for good reason. It’s the limited nature of things like seasonal beers that help to make them as interesting as they are. Weyerbacher loves seasonal beers, brewing at least one for every time of the year so there’s always something to look forward to.

Wingman – Just like that friend that’s there for you when you need him or her, Weyerbacher’s Wingman is ready to step in and help out when you’ve had enough big beers for the day. This 4.5% ABV pale ale is most definitely hop-forward in aroma and flavor thanks to the unique hop profile of Calypso, Ekuanot, and Denali hops. Available in cans right now, this is one pale ale that never pales to comparison. Available starting in January until it’s gone.

Insanity – If big beers are your thing, then Insanity is perfect for you! Clocking in at 11.1% ABV< Insanity is everyone’s favorite Blithering Idiot Barleywine that’s aged in whiskey barrels. This time spent in wood gives the barleywine definite notes of vanilla, oak, and warm whiskey for a much fuller flavor than you could have thought possible. You can find Insanity starting in March. Sunday morning Stout – A personal favorite of mine, Sunday Morning Stout puts Weyerbacher’s other big beers to shame by coming in at a hearty 12.7% ABV. This American Imperial Stout is aged in bourbon barrels to help it get a full flavor profile that is second to none in my humble opinion. In it you’ll find aromas of roasted coffee and bourbon as well as flavors of chocolate, roasted malt, vanilla, and even caramel. While probably not the best beverage for an early Sunday morning, it’s just about perfect for a late Saturday night. Sunday Morning Stout is available starting in February.

Glutenberg Brewery

Icon Written by admin on December 6, 2017 – 3:31 pm

Glutenberg Brewery

Gluten is my best friend. From bread to beer to seitan, if it has gluten in it, I’ll probably love it. While I may revel in all things glutinous there are some brave men and women out there that due to intolerance or disease simply can’t partake in the joy that is gluten and are forced to live a life without never-ending pasta bowls or cheesy bread.

Until very recently those afflicted with celiac disease or gluten intolerance have been forced to live a life without some of their most beloved food and drink, with the most notable exclusion being beer. Made primarily from barley, beer may not have an abundance of gluten in the finished product, but it’s more than enough for those suffering from celiac disease to be forced to abstain.

Thankfully the days of swearing off beer due to gluten are a thing of the past. Today there are a number of breweries and beers focusing on those not gifted with the ability to have gluten, helping them to life full, happy beer-inclusive lives. The most recent addition to this list in the Pittsburgh area comes to us via Canada and the Glutenberg Brewery.

The Founding of Glutenberg
The goal of Glutenberg Brewery is a simple one, to brew delicious beers that are on-par with other craft beers in the market, but to do so with zero gluten. More than a marketing trend, the brewery grew out of co-owner Julien Niquet’s own experience with celiac disease. Along with his long-time friend David Cayer, the pair founded Glutenberg in 2010 not only to help Julien to have the beer he was craving, but to help others like him to be able to enjoy beer like the rest of us.

Along with Julien and David, head brewer Gabriel Charbonneau make up the core team and after more than a year of research and development they released their first (and current flagship) beer, Glutenberg Blonde, into the market in Québec.

Fast-forward to today and Glutenberg offers a variety of gluten-free beers and distributes their beer in seven countries including Canada and the United States, which receives 50% of their total production.

Glutenberg Brewery features more than twenty seasonal beers and five year-round beers. They employ four full-time brewers that utilize the brewery’s sixteen fermentation and conditioning tanks to give gluten-free beer lovers around the world the best beer possible.

Gluten-Free Brewing
So how does one brew a gluten-free beer? When talking about beer on its most basic level, there are four primary ingredients: water, barley, hops, and yeast. As you may have guessed, the gluten in a typical beer comes from the barley, which is the grain the beer is brewed with. To create a truly gluten-free beer, the barley must be replaced entirely with a grain that doesn’t have gluten in it. This may seem easy, but without getting into the science behind brewing and the need for certain enzymes found in barley, you’ll just have to believe me that it’s not easy to do. It’s even harder to brew a gluten-free beer that actually tastes good, too!

Glutenberg uses millet, buckwheat, corn, quinoa, and amaranth to brew their beers. These grains may seem exotic, but they give Glutenberg the ability to brew 100% gluten-free beers that lack nothing in taste when compared to their gluten-full counterparts.

There’s no magical gluten removal process or secret sauce that makes these beers gluten-free, just hard work, quality ingredients, and a specialized brewing process that meets the needs of the grains being used. In the end we have a lineup of beers that look great, taste great, and help those required to stave off gluten to enjoy great beer.

The Beers
While that’s all nice and fine, it’s the finished product that has the final say on how good the brewery, ingredients, and process truly are, and the beers from Glutenberg truly speak for themselves. Since we haven’t perfected the inclusion of beer samples with every magazine just yet (trust me, I’m trying!) I’ll have to speak for these beers until you’re able to find them in the wild and try them for yourselves.

Even if you’re of the gluten-enabled masses the beers from Glutenberg are work a try, as there’s truly nothing lacking from them other than the gluten that I’m sure you won’t miss. Take it from me, a pro-gluten fanatic that now likes gluten-free beer.

While Glutenberg features more than 25 different beers offered around the world, Pittsburgh will be starting off with their 4 most popular brews to get us started with a life less gluten-y. Each of these beers are available in 16oz cans and on draft.

The first beer released by Glutenberg and their current flagship beer, their Blonde ale comes in at 4.5% ABV and 15 IBUs with a light, lemony character with floral, herbal notes. Think pepper, pears, and fennel with some lemon peel on the finish. Their Blonde ale is brewed with millet, corn, and demerara sugar as the fermentable base.

Glutenberg Brewery IPA is 6% ABV, 76 IBU, and a shining example of what a great IPA should be. There is a severe lack of quality gluten-free IPAs in the craft beer market, which is why Glutenberg put so much thought and care into making theirs. While this beer may have zero PPM gluten content, it’s full of citrus aroma, fresh hop flavor, and a sharp kick of bitterness. Expect to find lemon and floral notes on the nose with apricot and bitterness on the middle and finish. Glutenberg IPA is brewed with millet, buckwheat, corn, black rice, and corn maltodextrin.

Showing their French-Canadian roots, Glutenberg’s White Ale is better known as Blanche, and no, that’s not a reference to my favorite Golden Girl, but rather the fancy way to say white in French. Blanche is a 5% ABV, 13 IBU beer that has everything you’d expect from a true Belgian White. While traditional versions of this beer feature wheat, the Glutenberg iteration utilizes buckwheat, millet, amaranth, and quinoa, making it one of the most complex beers brewed by the guys in Canada. Along with these ingredients you’ll find more traditional ones like coriander and orange peel, too. The quinoa and amaranth give this beer a notably “grainy” character that helps mimic the mouthfeel of a true Belgian White that’s brewed with wheat.

Referencing their French-speaking roots yet again is the last of the initial launch beers for our area from Glutenberg with their Rousse, or Red for those of us less French-enabled. Rousse comes in at 5% ABV and 24 IBUs, and while it may have no gluten in it, it does come with a World Beer Cup win as well as four Canadian Brewing Awards.

Glutenberg’s take on the classic red ale starts with aromas of roasted nuts, coffee, and caramel and follows up with tastes of toasted bread, coffee, and chestnuts. To achieve such a consistent and remarkable beer without gluten in it, the guys at Glutenberg use buckwheat, millet, candi syrup, and quinoa in this beer alongside molasses and chestnuts to round this beer out and make a truly outstanding gluten-free red ale.

Variety 4-pack
For those of us that can’t decide, Glutenberg also has a variety 4-pack featuring one of each beer so you can get a well-rounded dose of gluten-free beer and see that while there’s no flavor or aroma missing, the gluten most definitely is.

Thanksgiving, California Style

Icon Written by admin on December 6, 2017 – 3:28 pm

Thanksgiving, California Style
By Agent Suzanne Ferrara

If the present day southern California coast had been the place onto which the Pilgrims first stepped foot in 1621, you can bet Thanksgiving Day would have been very different. The mild climate, the harvest and the indigenous peoples would have added amazingly unique touches to a Thanksgiving that…might have been. While this scenario would have been nearly impossible, what is a fact is that Americans who live in this region have celebrated Thanksgiving since 1850 when The Golden State became our country’s 31st state.

Southern California may have never seen the Mayflower, but Dana Point was the port for Boston-owned tall ships carrying goods to the Pacific shore in the early 1800s. Today visitors can board the historic replica Pilgrim, a stunning sailing brig which skirted the California coast and Dana Point during this hide trade.

For an unforgettable Thanksgiving, head to the California coast, specifically Dana Point and make California Dreamin’ a reality—it will be a trip of a lifetime with unparalleled experiences in a stunning backdrop, that’s for sure! Dana Point is a beach town known for its stunning cliffs skirting the coastline and for its whale watching and surfing. Before delving into those unforgettable discoveries, make sure you have plans for a Cali Thanksgiving feast.
There’s nothing like eating turkey, all the delicious fixings and fresh coastal seafood with the gorgeous Pacific Ocean in full-view. Adding to this inviting scene are the mild temperatures of November and southern California’s sunshine.

For an extraordinary experience that features both unforgettable ocean settings and unsurpassed cuisine, make a reservation at Raya, located at The Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel in Dana Point. There isn’t a bad seat at Raya; but while this split-level restaurant offers stunning views from just about any spot, try to reserve a window table with an unobstructed view of the Pacific.

Offerings in Raya’s three-course Thanksgiving menu include Adobo Free-Range Turkey and Prime Rib. (Tip: Before enjoying your Thanksgiving Feast, sip a refreshing hand-crafted cocktail outside at 180blu, which is perched 150-feet above the beach. The panoramic views of the Pacific are incredible).
There’s a philanthropic side to Raya as well: This triple-A five-diamond resort also offers a Thanks-For-Giving Buffet, which features a sea of culinary options, and is held in a luxurious ballroom. (Tip: Guests are encouraged to bring canned goods and non-perishable food items that will then be donated to Orange County Rescue Mission).

While at The Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel during Thanksgiving, be sure to notice the amazing gingerbread extravaganza being constructed by the resort’s skilled pastry team. This year’s massive confectionary display highlights climate change, sustainability and clean energy through a representation of the California landscape, and reflects how the resort supports and helps protects the environment. The pastry team is expected to spend more than 500 hours creating this unforgettable show of gingerbread artistry.

Speaking of the environment, Dana Point is known as a hotspot for whale and dolphin watching. A boat trip aboard one of the many whale watching cruises is a must and a great experience to add to this memorable California Thanksgiving.

For a one-of-a-kind experience, board the ‘Dana Wharf Whale Watch’. Coasting alongside these whales is a sight to behold, especially when the world’s largest mammals spout vapors from their blowholes. You will also see pods of dolphins on this trip!

Need more adventure? Make a bee-line to the Ocean Institute where, among many fascinating things, you can board the tall ship Pilgrim. Aboard this breathtaking ship you can travel back in time with period costumed docents who will show you the ship, sing sea chanteys and tell stories of nautical lore. You can even help them raise the sail or sit back and relax and enjoy the sea air while strolling the decks.

You can also tour the tall ship Spirit of Dana Point, a replicated 1770s privateer schooner used during the American Revolution, and this holiday season’s visiting vessel, Hawaiian Chieftain. (Tip: Be sure to sign up for one of the Institute’s Tall Ship Sails).

Want more sailing? You can also join Ocean Institute scientists on a whale watching cruise, and/or take the Sea Explorer voyage during which scientists will teach you fascinating facts about the ocean animals and much more.

The Ocean Institute is also where you can experience the captivating Headlands & Beyond exhibit. This exhibit offers hands-on exploration of the ocean’s underwater world, plus interactive programs featuring California’s fascinating maritime history.

After taking in all the sights, you will need—and definitely have— a great night’s sleep at The Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel. It’s not just the goose-down comforters and pillows, and luxurious 400-count Egyptian cotton sheets that will leave you immeasurably relaxed, but also the ocean air and unparalleled views (offered in most rooms) of the hypnotic surf. (Tip: First floor ocean view rooms have an outdoor firepit).

Need more relaxation? You won’t come out of the Ritz Carlton Spa the same person you were when you walked in. All of your cares will certainly melt away in this award-winning spa which offers ocean-inspired services that incorporate sea salt, algae, minerals and water to enhance your relaxation and rejuvenation. (Tip: One of the most popular massages is the PACIFIC WAVE, a beach-inspired treatment that uses the ocean rhythm movements found in Ashiatsu barefoot massage techniques. These will ease muscular tension and leave you in a state of bliss).

Need even more relaxation and rejuvenation? This resort offers ocean-front wellness classes, including yoga and Pilates. There are also two outdoor ocean-view pools and whirlpools, and be sure to relax in an Adirondack chair on one of the luxurious lawns overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

After experiencing The Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel resort– which is ranked among the world’s premier travel destinations — you will want to return again and again, and, like many, create Thanksgiving memories for generations to come.

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“Give ‘Your’ Regards to Broadway!”

Icon Written by admin on December 6, 2017 – 3:27 pm

“Give ‘Your’ Regards to Broadway!”
By Agent Suzanne Ferrara

Seeing Broadway shows in New York City is magical in and of itself, but having a complete quintessential Broadway experience is even more captivating! Broadway aficionados know the complete show experience includes legendary pre-and-post theatre dining and cocktails, plus those iconic accommodations all in mid-town Manhattan in the heart of the theatre district. When you attend a Broadway show, it is a timeless experience and one that dates back to the opening of the first New York City theater in 1750.

There are 41 Broadway theatres showing everything from the most recent arrivals to the box office hits, and to some of the longest-running productions. There are literally dozens of musicals and plays from which to choose, and there is sure to be something that will suit your taste. Rest assured: You will be swept away by the profound talent of Broadway’s high-profile stage actors and world-class sets, the combination of which will give you a respite from the daily grind. (Fun Fact: According to The Broadway League, total Broadway attendance was 13.27 million in 2016–2017).

To ensure a smooth experience, it is best to purchase your Broadway tickets in advance, either online through the actual theatre or through a reputable ticket seller. While you can walk up to the theatre box office right before a show to purchase tickets, there’s no guarantee that particular show will have seats for sale. Upon availability and for select shows, you can also purchase discounted same-day tickets at the TKTS booths throughout the city and in Duffy Square, in Times Square.

Another great option is to purchase tickets in advance through Broadway Inbound, which sells tickets for Broadway, Off-Broadway and for Lincoln Center performances. Broadway Inbound offers deals on tickets for groups of six and more; it can be friends, families or organizations. This group ticket supplier is tied to the long-standing The Shubert Organization, which has been around for more than a century and adds to Broadway Inbound’s trusted reputation. (Fact: The Shubert Organization is the oldest professional theatre company in the United States). Broadway Inbound can also help you and your group plan the perfect Broadway experience.

No Broadway experience is complete without visiting the iconic and legendary Sardi’s Restaurant. An American institution, Sardi’s is a must for pre-or-post theatre dining and cocktails, and has been for nearly a century! The likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Carol Burnett, Bruce Willis and Bette Midler have dined at Sardi’s, and it’s not unusual to see celebrities—as they have since 1927– sitting at their favorite tables.

Be sure to request a table with Johnny Felidi, a long-time waiter and a former Off-Broadway actor who is a charismatic fixture! Johnny is a walking encyclopedia chowk-full of Sardi’s history and will show you Al Pacino and Shirley MacLaine’s favorite tables (corner tables in opposite sides of the room) which you, too, can reserve. (Tip: Veteran patrons request table #4, and celebrities tend to dine here on Wednesdays and after shows on Thursdays).

Millions have come through Sardi’s doors just see the walls draped with Alex Gard’s (a Russian refugee) caricatures of numerous show business legends hundreds of the famous in show business from 1927 to today’s work which has been illustrated by Richard Baratz for the past 29 years. (Fun Fact: In the 1920s, Gard struck a deal with owner Vincent Sardi, Sr., that for every caricature he drew, he would get one free meal a day. That deal stuck until Gard’s death).
You can tempt your taste buds with the same historic dishes enjoyed by its most famous patrons, dishes that include its famous Cannelloni au Gratin (a family recipe of “Jenny” Pallera, ‘the wife of Vincent Sardi, Sr.). In addition, Sardi’s version of an antipasto is a must, as is the Orange Teriyaki Glazed Broiled Salmon (Warning: You will have a hard time leaving this place because of its welcoming and fun atmosphere, plus its mouthwatering continental cuisine)! Be sure to finish off your pre-and-post Broadway meal with Sardi’s famous creamy New York Cheesecake and its Tahitian Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee!

There are eight performances a week on Broadway, giving you several opportunities to see shows and to dine. In terms of the latter, another quintessential New York theatre dining option is the Rock Center Café which overlooks the Rockefeller Center’s magical ice-skating rink and the stunning bronze gilded Titan Prometheus statue. (Tip: The best time to dine here is at night when the ice skating rink and the Prometheus are lit up).

The employees at the Rock Center Café’ are second-to-none, and many have been working here for several decades because they love it! Mike Berman, the general manager, joins his staff by serving dishes to patrons, and will even tend bar and concoct a refreshing, classic New York Sour. (Fun Fact: The assortment of fresh-baked bread offered here, including the Cranberry Loaf, comes from the beloved Amy’s Bread down the street). Some of the most popular dishes here include the Crispy Calamari, the Burrata, the Rigatoni Amatriciana, the Skirt Steak, the RCC Chef’s Burger, and the Shrimp Chop-Chop Salad, which has been on the menu for 15 years! (Big tip: Be sure to request tables #305, #306(which seats two) or table #308 (which seats up to six) for the best view of the rink and for ‘people watching’ in the house). Be sure to finish off your meal with the New York Cheesecake and the Honeycrisp Apple Crostata!

When you walk through the antique revolving doors of the legendary Russian Tea Room, you will feel as though you’ve stepped into another world. This iconic restaurant was founded by members of the Russian Imperial Ballet in 1927. You can easily be swept away by the main dining room’s scheme; it’s draped in lavish modernist Russian-style décor with bold colors of rich red, gleaming gold and deep green. The Russian Tea Room has hosted New York’s elite with its continental fine dining, including High Tea, and the finest vodka and caviar selections. High Tea, by the way, includes two courses and is served with cherry preserves, clove honey and cinnamon which you can put inside your tea or to accompany baked delicacies. Other popular menu options are the traditional Tea Room Red Borscht, Chicken Kiev, and Boeuf à la Stroganoff.

You can reserve the plush booth on the left, from which Dustin Hoffman sat and ordered a double vodka in the movie Tootsie, or sit at booth #2, where Woody Allen found inspiration for the movie Manhattan; most recently, Gossip Girl was filmed here. (Fun Fact: Madonna was a coat check girl before she became famous).

Be sure to ask Igor, a longtime floor manager, to show you the Hearth Room on the fourth floor, which has a glass enclosed active diorama of the Kremlin. On the second floor is the Bear Lounge, which has the stunning Fabergé-inspired Venetian glass eggs hanging from a tree and a 15-foot tall revolving glass bear aquarium. On the 3rd floor is the Bear Ballroom where you will find massive imperial bronze chandeliers decked with frisky brass bears.

After all the excitement of Broadway and dining, you will be ready for a good night’s sleep. Head to the Lotte New York Palace, formerly the Helmsley Palace, on Madison Avenue. This luxury hotel has unparalleled and breathtaking views of the massive St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Rockefeller Center. The skyline view of the iconic historical cathedral structure is reason enough to reserve a room during your stay. Simply put: There are no words to give this heavenly view justice. (Tip: Reserve a Premier Skyline high floor view room that overlooks the Cathedral). (Fact: The Palace received the 2017 World’s Best Awards and was listed among the Top 10 Hotels in New York City by Travel & Leisure).

Additionally, there are also no words to describe the genuine and helpful bellmen, all of whom offer warm New York hospitality, and who will make sure you feel as though this historic hotel is your home away from home. (Tip: Paul and Michael at the front desk will also make sure your every need is met). Be sure to enjoy a mouthwatering breakfast at the VILLARD, formerly the landmarked historic residence known as the Villard House. (Tip: Sit in VILLARD’s enchanting and stunning Gold Room). The Lotte New York Palace also boasts a full-service spa and fitness center that overlooks the same breathtaking views. (Tip: Need some R and R? Robin and Camille are among the most-requested massage therapists).

If you can carve out some time, purchase a CityPASS for a more quintessential New York experience . This pass allows you to visit several landmarks including The Empire State Building, the American Museum of Natural History, Top of the Rock Observation Deck, and the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island.

Once you’ve immersed yourself in the full Broadway experience, you will have discovered this timeless magical gift of American theatre can only be encountered in the world’s greatest city!

Wilmington, North Carolina

Icon Written by admin on November 3, 2017 – 11:26 am

Wilmington, NC…… A Great Holiday or Anytime Getaway!

There’s no better way to get in the holiday spirit than to immerse yourself into holiday festivities. From taking in classics like the Nutcracker and It’s a Wonderful Life to shopping in decorated markets, and seeing homes decked out in their holiday best, it’s impossible to not feel the season. While you can certainly do some of these activities right in your hometown, a getaway to Wilmington, N.C., and its Island Beaches is a great excuse to get out of your holiday comfort zone and enjoy this year’s holidays, coastal-style.

Holiday Markets

Those seeking artistic pieces for the art lover on their gift list should check out Art for the Masses on Nov. 18. The community tradition sells 100 artist’s unique pieces for $250 or less. If you’re someone that loves the beach and the holidays (and who doesn’t?), then a trip to the Kure Beach Holiday Market is a must. Stop by the oceanfront market on Nov. 18 or 25 to shop handcrafted items that will make the perfect thoughtful gift for your loved ones. Continue your holiday shopping at the Cape Fear Academy’s annual Holiday Market Nov. 30 through Dec. 2. In addition to the market – which offers items ranging from clothing and accessories to home décor and gourmet foods – there will be a Sip & Shop Preview Party on Thursday and a Holiday Mingle on Friday (age 21+ only). If the people on your list are a bit more eclectic in their tastes, the Holiday Flea at BAC might be just what St. Nick ordered. Billed as the “ultimate vintage flea,” this three-day event (Dec. 1-3) has a variety of vintage, retro, antique and upcycled treasures, along with local food trucks, a coffee shop and bar to keep you fueled while you shop. Holiday Flea takes place in the middle of Wilmington’s Brooklyn Arts District at its namesake Brooklyn Arts Center, which dates back to 1888. For another shopping experience in a unique setting, visit the Arts, Crafts & Gift Show at Poplar Grove Plantation Dec. 9-10. One of the last remaining plantations in North Carolina will come alive with more than 100 holiday vendors. Plus, kids can visit Santa’s Workshop or visit with Poplar Grove’s farm animal residents.

Holiday Flotillas Parades

To shake up your holiday experience and celebrate a non-traditional Thanksgiving, come out to the North Carolina Holiday Flotilla at Wrightsville Beach on Nov. 24-25. Voted a Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 Event, this weekend-long celebration culminates with a lighted boat parade and fireworks along the Intracoastal Waterway unlike any other holiday parade you’ve experienced. If your Thanksgiving plans don’t allow for a getaway, enjoy the Christmas Flotilla at Carolina Beach on Dec. 2.

Holiday Tours & National Register Historic District

For a different kind of holiday home tour, venture to the Cape Fear Festival of Trees at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. Guests can wander through a winter wonderland of holiday elegance, that’s also home to some of the most unique underwater animals, from Nov. 20 through Dec. 31. Take in the sparkling sights and festive sounds of the season at Enchanted Airlie on Nov. 24-25, Dec. 1-2, 8-10 and 13-22. The garden holiday celebration takes guests through a spectacular array of over one million lights and holiday displays while strolling through picturesque Airlie Gardens. You can even find the jolly man himself, Santa Claus.

Spanning 230-plus blocks, Wilmington’s National Register Historic District is one of the largest in the country. Explore some of these private homes, churches and historical sites during the Old Wilmington by Candlelight Tour on Dec. 2-3, a tradition since 1973. Get a closer look at Bellamy Mansion during the Jingle Belles Holiday Tea on Dec. 3-4. This formal tea takes place in the parlors of this historic home and includes food, tea, champagne and live entertainment. Then, the Burgwin-Wright House, Bellamy Mansion and St. James Episcopal Church will treat visitors to an old-fashioned Christmas with an evening filled with music, dancing and costumes during A Christmas Stroll Through the Past on Dec. 9. Poplar Grove Planation will also offer Candlelight Tours Friday and Saturday evenings during the first three weekends in December. Eight rooms – including the morning room, bridal suite and always-popular children’s room – in the Manor House will be decorated by theme and color. Other activities include a bonfire for roasting marshmallows, a letter writing station for wishes to the North Pole, the Grinch’s Toy Junk Shop and outdoor screenings of holiday favorites like The Polar Express.

Holiday Arts

The spirit of the season will come alive when Mannheim Steamroller comes to The Wilson Center on Nov. 21. Thalian Hall, one of the oldest and most beautiful theatres in the country, will be the festive setting for several holiday experiences you won’t find at home. The New York City Ballet for Young Audiences will present the holiday favorite, The Nutcracker, for three shows on Dec. 1-2. In the mood for a laugh? The tale of a boy and his famed Christmas present comes to life in A Christmas Story: The Musical on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Dec. 8-17. For one show only on Dec. 14, attendees can enjoy a unique blend of virtuosi instrumental talents, beautiful vocals and stunning step dancing, with an Irish twist, during Cherish The Ladies: Celtic Christmas. Finally, it doesn’t get much more iconic during the holidays than It’s A Wonderful Life. On Dec. 21, this Christmas classic will be shown as it was meant to be seen: on the big screen.

For more information about Wilmington Holiday Festivities and all that Wilmington and the surrounding beaches has to offer visit:

Embrace the Pumpkin with These Fall Beers

Icon Written by admin on October 5, 2017 – 5:00 pm

Each year as the weather cools down and the leaves begin to change, the yearly battle of the gourds inevitably begins. Sadly, this skirmish doesn’t involve punkin’ chunkin’, but it does involve fans of beer near and far. Lovers of the fall-centric squash embrace it in everything from beer to coffee to shampoo while their sworn enemies think the only good pumpkin is one smashed in the street.

Wherever you fall on this squash scale, pumpkin beers are a sure sign that the seasons are changing and shorter days and cooler nights are in our very near future. The use of pumpkins in beer is far from a recent occurrence, and its presence in beer recipes can be traced back to the early settlers of our United States.

While there’s far more pumpkin pie spice found in pumpkin beers today, there’s still a healthy dose of gourd in most of the better pumpkin beers around today, making them a unique drinking experience that’s typically only around for a few short months.

Whether you’re a lover of all things pumpkin or you’re new to the gourd game and you want to see what all the fuss is about, finding the right pumpkin beer can be tough to say the least. Yours truly has done the legwork and with the help of the fine folks at Vecenie Distributing, I’ve put together a list of must-try pumpkin beers to fill your fall with all things pumpkin. Check out the list below and don’t listen to the haters…pumpkin beers are not only craft beer, they’re a great way to celebrate and enjoy the changing of seasons before it gets too cold to think about it.

Anderson Valley Brewing Company – Fall Hornin’: With a brilliant, deep copper hue and creamy beige-colored head, our Fall Hornin’ Pumpkin Ale has inviting aromas of caramelized malt and baking bread with highlights of cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin and seasonal spices. The pleasantly creamy mouthfeel and silky body embrace the sweet caramel flavors and tang of spices with just hint of hops that ends with a smooth, round finish. 6% ABV

Buffalo Bill’s Brewery – Pumpkin: America’s Original Pumpkin Ale was first brewed in 1985. Made with real pumpkin, it has a golden amber color, and the sweet aroma of pumpkin pie. This brew is perfect for Fall, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. Pumpkin Ale is available from August through November. 6% ABV

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery – Punkin’ Ale: A full-bodied brown ale with smooth hints of pumpkin and brown sugar. Dogfish Head brews Punkin Ale with pumpkin meat, brown sugar and spices. As the season cools, this is the perfect beer to warm up with. 7% ABV

Erie Brewing Company – Johnny Rails Pumpkin: A blonde based ale gives this pumpkin beer a lighter, meltier flavor to start with. It is a fruit beer with delicious flavor, a great nose, and the perfect poise of pumpkin and spice. This flavorful brew is sure to get you in the fall spirit. 6.5% ABV

Heavy Seas Beer – Greater Pumpkin: In the most-worthy of pumpkin patches and during the silence of the midnight hour, the Greater Pumpkin rises up and pours a rich deep and orange color. Heady aromas of bourbon, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and clove linger over the thick white head of this giant brew. Its love at first sip as the full malt body, dominated by British crystal malt, brown sugar and pumpkin, slowly washes over your tongue. Bourbon barrel aging rounds out the flavors with notes of oak, vanilla, and bourbon. 10% ABV

Lancaster Brewing Company – Baked Pumpkin: Have your pie and drink it too! Bold flavor with a deep amber color, our big Baked Pumpkin Ale is sure to remind you of Grandma’s homemade pumpkin pie. 7.3% ABV

North Country Brewing Company – Late Night Pumpkin: For the fall season, North Country brews their Late Night Pumpkin with a healthy dose of pumpkin, spice, and of course this is all done late at night, when the pumpkins taste their best. Coming in at 6.1% ABV with a gold color and a nice spiced character, Late Night Pumpkin is a canned beer you definitely need to try. Oh, and if you can find the barrel-aged version, don’t pass it up! 6.1% ABV

Smuttynose Brewing Company – Pumpkin Ale: This beer is a homage to the craft and heritage of America’s brewers. Recipes calling for the use of pumpkins in beer date back to early colonial times, when brewers sought to extend their supply of costly imported malt with locally grown ingredients, such as squash and “pompions.” in that spirit, Smuttynose brews this ale with the addition of pumpkin to the mash, along with traditional spices to create a delicious American original. 6.35% ABV

Weyerbacher Brewing Company – Imperial Pumpkin: This high gravity pumpkin ale is the mother of all pumpkin ales. It is heartier, spicier, and more “caramelly” and “pumpkiny” than its faint brethren! Weyerbacher added lots of pumpkin along with cinnamon, nutmeg and a touch of cardamom and clove giving this beer a spicy, full-bodied flavor. This truly is an Imperial Pumpkin Ale. 8% ABV

Tröegs Independent Brewery – Master of Pumpkins: Pulling the strings of great beer and smashing some pumpkins in the process is a pretty amazing beer from The Tröegs brothers out of Hershey, PA. Master of Pumpkin is brewed with native Pennsylvania neck pumpkins that’re harvested just a few miles away from the brewery, and is combined with traditional pie spices that’s so good it’s almost blinding. 7.5% ABV

As you can see, there’s a lot more to pumpkin beers than meets the eye. From big and spicy to reasonable with a hint of spice…there’s a pumpkin beer for everyone to try this fall season. Don’t pass up your chance to try some of them today.

Antebellum Return

Icon Written by admin on October 5, 2017 – 4:57 pm

Antebellum Return
By Suzanne Ferrara

With the allure of the Hollywood epic, coupled with the historical worldliness of a fairytale, there’s no chance Oak Alley would leave a visitor with anything but awe. The near 200-year-old homestead is unparalleled to any place in America and is a captivating vortex of wonder and beauty. You will certainly be swept away by the larger than life presence which oozes from this cinematic scene (also a National Historic Landmark) in Vacherie, La.
Its antebellum charm exudes from every corner of the Greek Revival estate, and you can all but see the swaying hoop skirts dashing across the gallery and distinguished noblemen of the day entering the mansion.

Once standing in front of one of the most photographed and storied southern plantations under its infamous long alley of 300-year-old live oaks whose canopy of branches seem to be holding hands, you too, will be taken by the soulful and perhaps surreal site.
It’s no wonder people from around the world ardently await the moment they can stand in her presence and admire her exquisiteness and soak in her deep dramatic history.

A visit here will unveil what the “Golden Age” of sugar plantations was really all about, from the slaves upon whose backs the plantation was built to the sugar cane they cultivated for Jacques T. Roman’s family’s colossal empire. The Roman’s history and influence which stretches from Opelousas, Louisiana, to New Orleans and Gulfport, Mississippi played a pivotal role in not only the family’s fortune but the economy of this southern region.
To begin unveiling this enthralling history a tour of the “Big House” itself is a perfect introduction to much more that awaits your exploration on the grounds of Oak Alley. Here you will learn about the families who resided at Oak Alley and view several artifacts belonging to the owners. (Fact: All oratorized details given in the tour are based solely on historical facts). The lavish lifestyle of the Roman family and the substantial spending of Celina Roman, Jacques Roman’s wife, is also uncovered during the tour.

In a complete paradox, the plantation’s slave exhibit entitled: “Slavery at Oak Alley” offers an intimate look at the slaves whose hands made the Roman family flourish and allowed for their extravagant existence. Here you will not only learn about one of the darkest periods in America, but you will learn about Antoine, an enslaved gardener and expert grafter of pecan trees, and Zephyr, a freed slave, among others who have fascinating stories of their own. The cottages also hold artifacts including tools and devices used by the enslaved and those used to keep them in bondage, like shackles. (Tip: Every Friday, a historical interpreter is present at the cottages and offers even more information about the lives and legacies of the slaves).

Oak alley also boasts a Sugarcane Theater with a film on the crop that is responsible for the Roman’s empire and the south’s “Golden Age”. The documentary also explores the complete process of cultivating sugar cane from the 1800s to today. There is also a Sugar Cane Exhibit which includes an 1800s-era plow and sugar barrel, a sugar kettle and skimmer. (Fact: Descendants of the Stewart family, the longest inhabitants of Oak Alley still live and work at the plantation).

You will need several hours to take in all the history and beauty of the 25-acre estate or better yet, stay overnight in one of Oak Alley’s historic or newly built cottages of which further details and tips are given further below.

Be sure to grab a refreshing signature plantation cocktail while enjoying the grounds. You can wet your whistle at Oak Alley’s Spirits Bar with their famous Mint Julep or if you want a different twist on this traditional southern concoction try the tasty Lemon Julep or Frozen Blackberry Mint Julep. (Tip: you can enjoy your drink of choice while touring the plantation).

Hungry? Oak Alley Restaurant offers scrumptious southern Cajun/creole house made dishes sure to please everyone. The Chicken, Smoked Sausage, and Andouille Gumbo as well as the Vacherie burger with its special Creolaise Sauce (creole mustard, mayonnaise and seasonings) are sure crowd pleasers. (Tip: regulars ask for extra sauce to dip their French fries). The Seafood Au Gratin, Red Beans & Rice with Smoked Sausage, and a Cajun Medley which features a cup of gumbo, crawfish étouffee, and red beans and rice are also popular dishes.

(Tip: A favorite among many plantation employees is the Open Faced, Sloppy, Roast Beef & Gravy Po-Boy.) The combination of the roast beef marinated in a special House Herb Vinaigrette dressing and the succulent gravy makes this sandwich a winner; this is certainly a ‘wet’ sandwich which will force you to eat this southern delicacy with a fork and knife! No matter what you order, take care to wash it down with a tall glass of their homemade Sweet Mint Iced Tea. While at the restaurant, be sure to meet Mrs. Rheba, a fixture at Oak Alley who is quick on her feet as she waits tables even as she boasts true-Southern hospitality and charm.

Be sure to save lots of room for dessert, especially for the Pecan Praline Cheesecake topped with a dark rum sauce. If that doesn’t work, try the mouthwatering Buttermilk Pie or Oak Alley Plantation’s Famous Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce, made with real French bread. (Tip: They can wrap up a whole pie for you to enjoy when you return home).

After getting your fill of delicious Southern food and the plethora of history and exhibits offered at Oak Alley Plantation, visit neighboring St Joseph’s Plantation, a working sugar cane planation located right next door to Oak Alley. St. Joseph Plantation houses several pieces of original furniture, tools, and dishes among other artifacts. Ready for still more? Just a five-minute drive away lies Laura Plantation which is steeped in creole history, and has 12 buildings on the national historic registry.

Of course, one of the biggest natural draws to Oak Alley is the mighty Mississippi which put the iconic planation and other river road plantations on the map. In front of Oak Alley, you can pull your car right up to the levee and sit on one of the benches to watch the lazy river and the riverboats and barges traverse through this iconic waterway. However, for the best seat in the house, be sure to sit on the bench which sits dead center above the legendary row of Oak Alley trees. The view of the plantation from this vantage point is a sight to behold, and you can turn around and look at the majestic river, too.
Looking for activity? Before you arrive, call Baton Rouge Bicycle Rentals, and Gaston Gravois will deliver bikes to you with helmets and locks for your enjoyment. Take your two wheels atop the levee on the 3.1-miles of paved asphalt also used for walking and running. The trail runs right across the front of Oak Alley, St. Joseph and Laura Plantations which allows you to planation hop on your bike (or just explore the area with the breathtaking Mississippi skirting alongside your ride).

After a day of being swept away by antebellum charm and a history, be sure to have one of the best sleeps of your life courtesy of the AAA-approved, three diamond accredited Oak Alley Cottages. You can stay in either one of the century-old cottages or a newer deluxe cottage, all of which have kitchens. With all the amenities, you could want, plus a Tempur-Pedic mattress, you are sure to have a restful stay. (Tip: Cottage #6 is an historic suite with two bedrooms and a back porch with a large oak tree. Room #’s 7, 8 and 9 are the newer cottages with king-size beds.) Dinner is served in your room only, and you can choose from their menu before you check into the cottages. (Fun Fact: overnight guests use the flashlights supplied in each cottage to walk around the grounds at night under the oaks. Be sure to turn off your flashlights to completely enjoy the enchanted star-studded night sky).

Another option is to head three and a half miles from Oak Alley to B & C Seafood Market & Cajun Restaurant in Vacherie. The Cajun Sampler with catfish, crawfish kickers, alligator, boudin balls, and hushpuppies is a popular appetizer with regular patrons; you can also indulge in mouthwatering seafood platters, soft shell crabs, fried alligator and frog legs. Another great choice is DJ’s Grill where Chef Brandon Naquin creates delectable dishes for the lengthy menu, which includes gourmet pizzas, choice steaks, seafood, Italian dishes and, of course, Cajun specialties. (Tip: Although reservations are not required, they are strongly suggested, especially on weekends).

Back at your home base of the beautiful Oak Alley, comes a full southern breakfast each morning, the price of which is included with an overnight stay. There are several items from which to choose including plantation-sized omelets, bacon, beignets and delicious Community Coffee’s gourmet “Gold Cup” coffee. (Tip: For an additional fee, be sure to reserve the “Do Not Disturb” package which includes wine or house-made Mint Juleps, plus a fruit and cheese tray and chocolate covered strawberries. This package also includes breakfast brought to your room).

While Louisiana is riddled with plantations, especially along the mighty Mississippi River, the grand dame of them all–the largest plantation in the entire South– is Nottoway Plantation and Resort. This sprawling, majestic “White Castle” and its 15 acres of stunning landscape, cottages, and resort facilities is only 60 miles upriver from Oak Alley in White Castle, Louisiana. Nottoway (also a National Historic Landmark) is a premier historical resort with AAA-Four Diamond Award luxury accommodations and amenities.
A visit to Nottoway’s 1850s sugarcane plantation certainly leaves one awed by its captivating grandeur and glory. When you lay your eyes on the massive 53,000-foot Greek Revival and Italianate-styled mansion, and then walk through this picturesque setting, it’s almost surreal and, like many visitors, you may feel as though you were dropped right into the cinematic scene of the antebellum era. (Fun Fact: The mansion itself has 64 rooms with a total of 365 doors and windows which its 1850s owner, John Hampden Randolph, wanted to represent the 365 days of the year).

If you can, spend two nights at Nottoway because it will be hard to leave after just one day! Before delving into its captivating history, a great option is to spend the first day by basking in its hypnotic atmosphere and enjoying amenities that will surely please and whisk you away.

After checking into your luxurious one-of-a-kind accommodations, indulge with a refreshing quintessential Louisiana cocktail from The Mansion Bar and Lounge (or perhaps a frozen lemonade) and stroll the lush grounds dotted with magnificent 200-year old oak trees and beautiful gardens lush with native plants and flowers. (Tip: When making your reservations, request that a bottle of chilled champagne be waiting in your room).

Need more ideas before diving into the fascinating history tours and museum experience? Take a dip in the gorgeous pool, soak in the hot tub, or grab one of several complimentary bikes and explore the area which is surrounded by sugarcane fields and the Mississippi River; guests can peddle atop the levee which skirts the Mississippi and is only 200 yards feet from the front of Nottoway! (Fact: Some of the sugarcane fields surrounding Nottoway are original to the plantation, and that very sugar is used in many of the desserts served here. Nottoway Plantation included 6,200 acres in 1860).

There are 40 different elegantly appointed accommodations at Nottoway with lodging options ranging from cottages, grand suites inside the plantation, and honeymoon suites, one of which has its own private pool! You can sleep like the Randoph family did in the 1800s in their very rooms inside mansion; these rooms are full of antique furniture and decor from the era and some even contain original furnishings. (Tip: You can see the Mississippi River and boats passing by from the grand windows inside the Cornelia Randolph Room which is located on the third floor. Every other Saturday, the American Queen Steamboat is docked on the banks of the river right in front of Nottoway; it’s truly a sight to behold).

The cottage accommodations resemble plantation-era structures on the outside, but inside, there are modern, plush rooms with covered porches and oversized rocking chairs. (Tip: Guests of Nottoway are free to roam about the mansion, (traditionally only done with a tour guide), throughout the evening and at night, and if you get a chance, ask Bob (who works plantation security at night) if there are any ghosts at Nottoway. (Tip: Be sure to sit in an oversized rocking chair and enjoy the riverfront breeze on the mansion’s massive third floor balcony that overlooks the river. This is a special great experience at night as well). By the way, all rooms have flat-screen TVs with cable and high-speed wireless internet.

Your stay also includes access to the fitness center, tennis courts and a scrumptious full plantation breakfast at the Mansion Restaurant, and you can either order breakfast from the menu or opt for the buffet which includes several house-made options. (Tip: Be sure to meet Arlene, a fixture who has been working at Nottoway for nearly 20 years, and serves breakfast and lunch).

Whether eating breakfast, lunch, or dinner, request a table or make a reservation for a window- view table so that, while dining, you can enjoy the view of the breathtaking grounds. (At night, the magnificent 200-year old oaks and the surrounding cottages are lit up and provide a stunning view).

The men behind Nottoway’s mouthwatering cuisine are Executive Chef Michael Loupe and Sous Chef Brandon Geske, the latter of which started cooking at home when he was just eight years old and has learn the trade under Chef Loupe’s wing. Geske will quickly tell patrons, “My success is all due to him (Loupe); he is like a father to me.” (Dinner Menu Tip: The Jumbo Lump Crab Cake and Brandon’s Sugar Cane chicken (made with raw cane sugar from Nottoway’s sugarcane fields) are sure-to-please appetizers. Tempt your taste buds with the Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, and entrees Roasted Duck 31, Shrimp and Crab Tagliatelle Pasta and Prime Rib are musts!

There are two types of historic tours offered at Nottoway: one a self-guided audio version, the other with a guide dressed in period clothing. Nottoway suggests taking both tours to get the best of both worlds since each provides a different experience. The self-guided tour is great because, with a touch of a button, you can hear interesting facts and details about Nottoway at your own pace, and stop-and-go as you please. (Fun Fact: The audio recording is of an actor portraying John Randolph, but using Randolph’s own descriptions of Nottoway). (Tip: After your tour, visit Le’ Café’ and pick up a ‘Meal-To-Go’, which is a sampling of traditional Louisiana food, and then picnic under the grand oaks).

Do not miss Nottoway’s museum, theater and historical cemetery on the grounds. Artifacts belonging to the Randolphs, and from the era as well, are displayed in the museum, and there’s an excellent video that gives the history of Nottoway and plantation life of this bygone era. (Tip: Block out an hour to experience and read all that is offered in the museum and theater).

Want some fun? Take part in one of Nottoway’s Murder Mystery Dinners which includes hors d’oeuvres, champagne, wine and an exquisite four-course dinner. Actors and actresses, with some portraying Nottoway’s original owners John and Emily Randolph, are dressed in stunningly-detailed 1850s -period clothing and perform a fascinating mystery story set in 1859. This Mystery Dinner is both fun and thrilling, and guests are invited to participate.

There is no doubt that a trip to the antebellum South along the Great Mississippi River Road, will take hold of your soul and sweep you off your feet with all the grandeur and captivating history of a bygone era. As you leave these historical wonders behind, you will not only take home a storied history unlike any other, but a filmic scene as well, one that will be forever etched in your mind.

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Laguna Beach — California Riviera Meets Disneyland

Icon Written by admin on September 11, 2017 – 5:11 pm

California Riviera Meets Disneyland
By Suzanne Ferrara

The breath-taking and famous Laguna Beach, also known as the “California Riviera,” has been painted and photographed for more than a century. Laguna’s hypnotic coves, towering palm trees, sandy beaches, and dramatic rocky crags are sights to behold. The curve of the coastline and the hilly terrain gives Laguna characteristics similar to the famed beach of Waikiki of yesterday but without the cluttered buildings.

This award-winning seaside destination is also known as the “Arts Colony” and rightfully so; there are more than 100 galleries in the community where famous painters like Norman St. Claire and Edgar Payne used brushes to transport this majestic scenery to the rest of the world. Many would agree, that no painting or photograph can do justice, to witnessing this captivating southern California coastal destination in person.

Laguna Beach has a handful of luxury resorts, but if you want to experience Laguna on an intimate level, head straight to the Inn at Laguna Beach. Here you will grasp the local vibe of this intimate beach community, and the Inn’s cozy, comfortable and charming atmosphere only adds to its essence. This quaint hotel is only five stories high and has 70 rooms adding to its cozy allure. The inn sits on the town’s most celebrated Main Beach, which is a curved sandy beach and rocky coves with tide pools or on either end of the of the beach. (One of those gorgeous rocky outcrops is just steps away from the inn).

The inn’s central location is not only perfect for experiencing the genuine pulse of Laguna, it stands in the area known as “The Village”, which is full of privately-owned restaurants and shops. (Fact: There are no strip malls or franchises in this area). The Inn is within walking distance of most attractions and restaurants, and there’s a FREE trolley service which runs along the Pacific Coast Highway every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Guest can hop aboard the trolley in front of the Laguna Beach Art Museum next to the Inn.

The Inn at Laguna Beach offers unparalleled views of this one-of-a-kind coastline and the glistening, cobalt Pacific Ocean. Once you put your feet on the sand, you will feel like you’ve been dropped into a movie set. On the South and North end of the pristine sandy Main Beach are the aforementioned rock crags of all sizes jetting out into the ocean. (Tip: The Inn offers complimentary beach chairs, umbrellas, boogie boards and towels. They also have complimentary frisbees, buckets, shovels, and basketballs. It should be noted that all of the concierge employees are eager to make your stay special).

Laguna’s coves are full of opportunities for discovering sea life! When there is a low tide you can see starfish, hermit crabs, and kelp, among other sea species and plants inside the rock formed tide pools. The rocky formations are great for jumping and walking from rock to rock, all the while discovering new vantage points amid this wild, unique beach terrain. (Tip: Be sure to ask the concierge for one of their easy to read maps which illustrates all of the beaches, restaurants, and parks among other places for your discovery).

You can choose to swim in the ocean or take a dip the Inn’s heated pool on the third floor, and here too, is a great view of the coast. (Tip: The two most sought-after suites at the Inn are on the top floor of the Inn. The Laguna Vista Suite has a wraparound balcony offering great panoramic views of the coastline. The Sunset Vista Suite is the second most popular suite and offers a view of the coast as well). The Inn is undeniably romantic, but it’s also kid and pet-friendly!

Among the Inn’s complimentary amenities is a wine hour at the Inn’s Rooftop Bar, milk and fresh house-made cookies to end your day, and to start your day, Starbucks coffee and an assortment of Tazo brand teas. The Inn at Laguna Beach’s concierge is second to none and pays close attention to fulfilling their guests needs. Have concierge set up a plethora of activities including surfing lessons, scuba diving, and snorkeling during your stay.

Need more activity? Laguna has several beautiful hiking trails along the coastal hilly terrain one of the best trails is literally connected to the Inn at Laguna Beach. You can step outside the Inn and immediately onto the two-mile-long Heisler Park walking trail which sits atop a cliff and skirts two of Laguna’s beaches. (Fact: Laguna has several beaches all with different characteristics and named after streets of the town).

For a one-of-a-kind experience, make a 15-minute drive up the coast and board the “Dana Wharf Whale Watch” cruise at Dana Point. Coasting alongside these whales is a site to behold, especially when they spout out vapors from their blowholes. You will also see pods of dolphins on this trip!

After whale-watching at Dana Point, satisfy your appetite with delectable cuisine at Raya, located inside the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel. The panoramic glass-enclosed oceanfront view atop a 150-foot cliff is hypnotic! (Tip: While the stunning coastline can be seen from anywhere in the restaurant, request a window table). Another great option with magnificent views is Splashes, a beach-front restaurant, where you can watch the gorgeous sunsets while enjoying coastal-American inspired dishes. Splashes is located inside the Surf and Sand Resort in Laguna Beach.

Want more dining choices? At Three Seventy Common, in downtown Laguna, Chef Ryan (Orange County native) creates mouthwatering dishes with international influences using locally sourced meats and produce. (Tip: Among the small plates, the broccolini with a fried egg is a must. The bone marrow, short rib, pork loin with BBQ mac n’ cheese, and the wild salmon are revered by the locals). Three Seventy Common is also known for its refreshing libations concocted to complement the menu. (Tip: Be sure to try the Chupacabra, made with tequila, lime, cilantro, cucumber, and agave). Save room for the bourbon bread pudding or seasonal berry shortcake.

It is hard to believe, but only 25 miles from Laguna Beach is Disneyland. Disneyland, the place where all the nostalgic magic began, has it all, with many new and classic rides and roaming characters you won’t find in Walt Disney World. Don’t miss Disneyland’s Fantasmic spectacular pyrotechnic and fireworks show; a full-scale eerie pirate ship sails in front of park-goers with dozens of characters on board, highlighted by an impressive Captain Jack Sparrow and stunt performers executing duels and falls. Adding to the magic, Disney California Adventure is just steps from Disneyland and showcases many rides (like Radiator Springs Raceway) and experiences you won’t find anywhere else.

Still need to get out? Just 15 miles from Disneyland is a shopping experience of a lifetime: South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, which is California’s largest shopping center and features over 250 retailers. Costa Mesa also has live Broadway shows and stunning musical performances at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, and the Costa Mesa Marriot is in the middle of all the action. By the way, the Marriot provides shuttle service to Disneyland.

Undoubtedly, this part of southern California offers a Swiss army knife of vacations – cinematic beaches, magical kingdoms, and fine culinary artistry – all within a 30-mile radius. Mark my word, you will never forget this enchanting experience!

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Bell’s Brewery Ringing in More than 30 Years of Brewing

Icon Written by admin on August 6, 2017 – 10:59 am

Bell’s Brewery
Ringing in More than 30 Years of Brewing

Craft Brewing today is all about what’s new. The newest brewery on the block seems to get all the attention, and while we can’t blame anyone for needing to check out the new kid on the block, it’s the pioneers of craft beer that are proving the staying power of brewing great beer. For Bell’s Brewery that means more than 30 years of making beer that isn’t like everything else on the market, and that’s a very good thing.

To see where it all started for Bell’s, we need to take a trip down brewery lane all the way back to the late 1970’s. Here we find Larry Bell homebrewing when there wasn’t a supply store in every town or an Internet to order supplies from. To rectify this problem, Larry opened his own homebrew supply store and named it Kalamazoo Brewing Co.

Fast-forward to 1985 and Larry stepped up from homebrewing and in September of this year he sold his first commercial beer. In 1986 the total commercial production was 135 barrels of beer, and while this is small compared to today’s numbers, it was a very big deal at the time.

The 1990s were a big decade for Bell’s, as 1990 saw the first Bell’s Brewery beer sold outside of the state of Michigan. 1993 marked the opening of the Eccentric Café, which was the first on-site brewery pub in Michigan. The brewery continued to grow, which quickly made the craft brewery need a new, larger brewery to continue to grow.

In response to their continual growth, Bell’s opened their new Comstock Brewery in 2003. Constant growth and construction followed their success, and in 2012 the expansion to a new, American-made 200-barrel brewhouse was finished and open for business at the Comstock Brewery.

Seeing the trend in canned beers, Bell’s added a canning line in 2014, and since then more of their most-loved beers have seen the inside of these aluminum vessels, including Hopslam, Oberon, Smitten, Winter White, and Best Brown Ale.

September of 2015 marked the 30th anniversary of Bell’s Brewery, cementing them as a pillar of the craft brewing community. In 2017 Bell’s co-owner Laura Bell was promoted to CEO of the brewery. As the daughter of Bell’s Founder Larry, Laura grew up with the brewery, being 2 months old when the company was founded. Her father Larry continues to be Bell’s President and is still very active in the planning and oversight of projects at the brewery.

Bell’s Brewery is currently the 7th largest craft brewery in the United States with annual production in 2016 topping out at a little more than 420,000 barrels of beer.

Brewery history is all nice and fine, but the beer is really where it’s at, and that’s one thing that is always ringing true at Bell’s. With year-round and seasonal lineups that resonate with craft beer fans near and far, Bell’s is leading the way after more than 30 years of brewing.

The Beers

Bell’s Brewery is known as much for their seasonal beers as they are for their year-round beers, which is hard to do for a brewery that’s been around as long as Bell’s has. Looking at their year-round lineup, it’s hard to list anything but Two Hearted Ale first. This American IPA is brewed with 100% Centennial hops, which give the beer huge hop aroma and taste, with grapefruit upfront and a nice malt backbone throughout. Two Hearted comes in at 7% ABV in cans, bottles, and on draft. If you only try one beer from Bell’s, this should be it.

On the other side of the lineup is the year-round Oarsman Ale, a 4% ABV tart wheat ale that’s bright, refreshing, and lightly hopped as to add to the overall experience and not dominate the beer. While Oarsman is perfect in the warm weather, it’s really a great beer any time of the year, which is why you should be thankful it’s available all year.

A newer beer from Bell’s is their Oatsmobile Ale. This year-round American Pale Ale comes in at a sessionable 4.3% ABV and features a hefty hop lineup including Mosaic, Ekuanot, and Glacier hops. These, along with the oats used in the brewing process, give Oatsmobile a blend of peach, mango, and tropical aromas while keeping bitterness in check.

Looking at Bell’s seasonal offerings things get even better. By and far one of the best summer beers around is their Oberon American Wheat Ale. This 5.8% ABV wheat ale is brewed with Bell’s signature house ale yeast, which helps to give the beer its hop character and mild fruity aroma. Brewed with only 4 ingredients, Oberon is clean, simple, and incredibly crushable. With summer winding down, this is one beer you want to make sure you do not miss, especially since it’s available this year in the 5-liter mini keg.

Summer isn’t the only time for seasonal beers, and a shining example of this is Bell’s Best Brown Ale. What starts as a typical brown ale is kicked up a notch thanks to the generous use of American hops that perfectly offset the caramel and cocoa nuances hiding in each sip. Clocking in at 5.8% ABV, this fall seasonal beer is lower in alcohol than the big heavy stouts found in the fall, and is just dark enough to help us transition from the brighter flavors we expect from spring and summer beers. In short, it’s the perfect balance of flavor and body with just enough alcohol to make it stand out from the crowd.

While we wish summer could last all year, the arrival of August means we’re seeing fall creep around the corner, and even though that means chillier weather, it also means some great seasonal releases from Bell’s including:

• Special Double Cream Stout
• Oktoberfest Beer
• Expedition Stout
• Third Coast Old Ale

With the focus on independent craft beer, it’s great to see a company like Bell’s that keeps a focus on family and community while making consistently great beer. Bell’s employs more than 400 employees, and thanks to the father-daughter combination of Larry and Laura Bell, continues to be a family-run business making some of the best beer around.

Lake Austin’s Restorative Oasis

Icon Written by admin on June 30, 2017 – 9:30 am

Lake Austin’s Restorative Oasis
By Suzanne Ferrara

Mark my words, you will NOT want to leave this sanctuary, and will long for your return even while you’re still there. The moment you step foot on the Lake Austin Spa Resort, your cares of the day instantly melt away as you are absorbed into a world of tranquility and wellness.

This wellness resort in Austin, Texas is truly a piece of heaven on earth and awakens all of the senses. No stone is left unturned at this world-class, full-service paradise, and guess what? Almost everyone walks around the property in their robes and sandals (provided by the resort), the latter of which you can take home as a gift; however, the real gift is the restorative you that will walk out of its doors.

“It’s hard to capture how special it is. Where else can you go with these surroundings and all that is offered here?” says first-time visitor Kacee Geoffrey, a California resident who is experiencing this restorative oasis with her mother, Lisa Hale. And Mom concurs. “I’ve been to several stunning places in the world, and never have been to a place like this,” agrees Hale. “I’ve been transfixed just walking through all of the gardens, and I can go to breakfast and dinner in my robe…and it’s expected!”

It is certainly not surprising that, for the past decade, this wellness resort has been ranked among the top 10 by Condé Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice Awards and Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards. The all-inclusive experience includes gourmet garden-to-table, award-winning meals and snacks, and refreshing drinks to quench your thirst. Executive Chef Stephane Beaucamp makes certain you are never hungry, and that rings true with the four-course dinners and multi-course lunches and breakfasts offered daily. (Fun Fact: Chef Beaucamp, a France native, has cooked for Nicole Kidman and Elton John). (Tip: There are no limits as to how many scrumptious healthy starters, soups, entrees or desserts you can enjoy during the three daily meals; however, the resort promotes moderation, not deprivation, as a key to healthy eating). There are also gourmet snacks and drinks available to guests throughout the day, and a stellar wine and champagne list can be found at both restaurants.

Resort dining is enjoyed in the property’s dining room with its picturesque views of the Lake Austin, or at the Aster Café. (Tip: Be sure to eat at both during your stay). They’ve thought of everything here; there’s even a large ‘Friendship Table’ with open seating at the Aster Café’ for those wanting to meet some new friends. You can also opt for room service or, upon request, they’ll set up a private table for two outside overlooking the glistening lake, or inside the picturesque library.

This is truly a cinematic postcard perfect scene, and you can’t help but keep your eyes on the hypnotically clear blue-green waters of lake with its backdrop of lush foraged green hillside skirting the banks. There’s a breathtaking view from practically every vantage point on this 19-acre lake shore property; at every turn, there are unexpected eye-pleasing surprises, from flowered canopy-covered walkways to a butterfly preserve, all of which add to this transformative experience. The globally- recognized healing garden oozes a plethora of both one-of-a-kind and traditional herbs, vegetables and flowers. This ‘secret garden’ plays a crucial role in the health and well-being of guests, all thanks to master-gardener extraordinaire Trisha Shirey (and we will cover the garden in a later article).

There are also therapeutic aquatic gardens and water features strewn throughout the grounds for an added sense of relaxation. “People come here for the healing properties of water, and wellness touches everything here; and you can literally go to dinner in your bathrobe, and no luxury hotel can offer that,” says Janice Clapoff, Lake Austin Spa Resort’s Managing Director. “Don’t rush this experience even when it comes to all the courses at dinner; it’s about taking your time and mindfulness.” And you can take part in this wellness sanctuary if you are at least 14 years of age. (Tip: If you get a chance, be sure to meet Clapoff who is not only chock-full of information and tips, but is also a consummate example of living the lifestyle inspired by this wellness resort).
Also included in your all-inclusive stay are a plethora of classes and activities– nearly two dozen offered daily—and it’s completely up to you as to how many you attend. In addition to varied levels of fitness offerings, there are many programs reflective of the healing power of water through yoga, meditation and aquatics. (Tip: Lake Austin Spa Resort offers Ripple Effects: The Wellness of Water program which is based on scientific evidence which suggests how water can heal the mind and body, and thus make you happier and healthier). The daily schedule runs the gamut from hiking the bluffs or canyon to meditating through creating art programs. Want to cook? There are nutritional cooking classes with guest chefs, plus classes with book authors and lecturers from all over the world; you can also request a personalized class and experience a la carte.

Since water is the focal point of health and well-being at this destination spa, it’s only apropos that there are open dock hours along Lake Austin where an attendant will help you get in and out of the water with hydro bikes, the new Hobi pedal boards, kayaks, or boats. Have a need for speed? Sign up for skiing or wake boarding. There are also three different pools: the barn pool which is an Olympic-size lap pool that’s covered and heated; a main pool overlooking Lake Austin; and the Palm Pool with cabanas. There’s also a full-service state-of-the-art fitness center that has an inspirational view of the lake.
When relaxing, it will be hard to choose where you want to enjoy a brief or long respite. The resort’s Living Room, Lake Room, library and the Blue Room will certainly add to your well-being and peaceful state, and the décor here is second to none. (Tip: Be sure to grab a refreshing drink and relax on one of the hammocks on the lake).

The team at this wellness resort is second-to-none, and friendly staff members will make sure your every whim is met. Adding to this blissful haven are the endless details and touches that will make your experience one of great ease and truly unforgettable, from soothing music playing softly at the barn pool to mouthwatering homemade healthy snacks (including frozen yogurt and sherbets with ingredients straight from the garden), or to the bottles of sunscreen available throughout the property.

You will certainly get a good night’s rest at the Lake Austin Spa Resort. There are 40 rooms, which are more like cottages; each has a front porch with a table and chairs from which you can look at the lake or the award-winning garden. Most of these rooms, decorated in soft hues for tranquility, also have a private back patio with a water feature, and It’s so private you can take a shower with the bay windows completely open. (Tip: Rooms #39 and #40 are choice rooms; both have great views of Lake Austin and are the quietest on the property). Yes, there are luxury bath accessories which are also sold in their gift shops, which by the way, are chock-full of great items including clothing, books and jewelry.

A stay here is not complete without a visit to the world-class and award winning Lake House Spa, which uses unsurpassed ‘ancient and modern therapeutic techniques’. There are more than 100 spa treatments, each of which will surely melt your stress away, and the pampering and service you’ll receive in this 25,000-square foot spa is second to none. The treatment offerings are all aimed at rejuvenation, healing and balance and, believe me, you will not leave the same person you were when you walked into this spa. (Menu Tip: The Lavender Dreams and the Weekend Warrior are among the most popular body treatment massages). (Tip: The spa is open at night, so you can receive a single or couples’ massage inside or at one of the outdoor treatment areas and then walk back to your room under the stars all renewed and relaxed).

(Big Tip: The best way to arrive at this transforming oasis is via the resort’s private boat taxi that can pick you up near the airport and whisk you to the Lake Austin Spa Resort so that your rejuvenating experience begins even earlier). While you are only 20 minutes from downtown Austin, no one who comes here ever wants to leave for any reason. Once you visit, you, too, will know why.
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The Clement Hotel – Six Star Luxury Hotel!!

Icon Written by admin on June 8, 2017 – 1:46 pm

The Clement Hotel – Six Star Luxury Hotel!!

Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, The Clement Hotel is an all-inclusive, boutique luxury hotel that is truly an exceptional property like no other: it’s honestly a hotel on steroids! We have travelled around the globe, and this property is so outstanding, we will never forget our stay.

It starts when you say, “Go!” From the minute you make your reservation, the Clement staff emails you a questionnaire, the answers to which will allow them to get to know your personal wants, needs and preferences; these responses will then be used to prepare an unforgettable experience where ‘you’ are the central figure.

Since this is an all-inclusive property, Clement staff wanted to know what snacks, drinks and liquor we liked so they could stock our mini-bar. Well, we were assuming that it would be stocked with single-serve bottles of wine and spirits, but, oh, no– not at this hotel! The Clement fully stocked our bar with regular-size bottles of all that we had checked off on our list, and accompanied those selections—champagne, wine and spirits– with the correct crystal glasses. They even had a bottle of champagne chilling in ice! (We are still talking about it as we had checked off quite a bit on the questionnaire thinking, “Oh, they might not have this or that, so let’s order everything: champagnes, wine, whiskey, brandy, vodka and rum.” Again, our entire credenza was lined with a fully-stocked bar). Plus, there was a stack of monogrammed, personalized stationary tied with a beautiful silk bow along with a personal hand written note welcoming us from the owner, Mr. Clement Chen, III. Unbelievable!

Each air-conditioned room at The Clement is equipped with a 65-inch IPTV, a Nespresso coffee machine and an in-room refrigerator. The window coverings are remote-controlled, and the bed and bedding were made for total luxury and comfort. I never slept so well in my life. Their spacious bathrooms, with heated stone floors, guest robes, slippers and free toiletries and a fresh flowering orchid. The bathrooms are equipped with a Toto Washlet, and…OMG…it’s the most incredible toilet seat and toilet in the world. It’s padded, heated, softly lit, and comes with a remote that allows you to control and personalize the heated water spray and jet settings that are designed to keep you fresh and clean after every bathroom use.

No detail is ever overlooked at The Clement Hotel, Palo Alto’s newest and most inspiring urban retreat. At the Clement, you are assigned your own personal concierge who is there to see that your every wish is their command. It was incredible, in no small part because the entire staffs is impeccably trained and are experts at what they do; they love their jobs, and it shines through with their attitudes and willingness to go above and beyond your wildest expectations. They are always there to fulfill your every desire in a non-intrusive, but extremely caring manner.

At the Clement, you will experience all-inclusive luxury, including breakfast, lunch and dinner prepared in its open kitchen with your own personal chef presiding. You have your choice of eating in the dining room, the outdoor dining terrace, the privacy of your own suite, or in a cabana on the Clement’s private roof-top pool deck overlooking the picturesque Stanford University campus. There’s also a fully-stocked guest pantry which, yes, has just about everything you could possibly think of, and it’s open 24 hours a day. This all-inclusive luxury – is exclusively created for you!

Dining at the Clement takes dining to a whole new level. The chef prepares a daily menu of specials along with the regular menu; however, you can request anything, and the chef will make it right in front of you. We loved the ‘open kitchen’ concept where you get to watch and even talk to the Chef as he prepares your personal meals, and there’s a wide range of endless, top-notch cocktails, and high-end wines and spirits to accompany your food. It’s all part of their inclusive ‘your wish is their command’ concept, and the service and foods are definitely six stars.

We truly enjoyed the Clement Hotel’s rooftop heated pool with its gorgeous panoramic views of Palo Alto and the Stanford University campus. The pool has a whirlpool and cabanas, and there’s a host of amenities like beach towels, sunglasses, tanning lotion, a fire pit and heaters (in case the night is a chilly one). We had lunch and drinks by the pool, and our every need was taken care of by staff members who were out of sight, but definitely there and ready to quickly respond.
For convenience, there is a 24-hour front desk at the property; plus, concierge services and personal assistants are available, along with a rooftop terrace, business center, fitness center and spa services. On-site valet parking is complimentary along with all of the following all-inclusive amenities: concierge and personal assistants; rooftop pool and cabanas; private boardroom; in-room refrigerator; breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, plus beer, wine and cocktails; in-room dining; a 24-hour, fully-stocked guest pantry; gratuities; twice-daily housekeeping services; overnight shoe shine services; and high-speed internet.

The nearest airports are the San Jose International Airport (which is 14 miles from The Clement Hotel) and the San Francisco International Airport (approximately 25 minutes away).

Let The Clement Hotel take care of your every need and fulfill your every wish! This property is so incredible, you have to experience it to believe it! Thank you, Mr. Chen, for creating such an incredible experience! We can’t wait to come back!!

The Clement Hotel 711 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94301
phone 650.322 .7111

A Summer of Stone with Stone Brewing Company

Icon Written by admin on June 8, 2017 – 1:43 pm

A Summer of Stone with Stone Brewing Company

Gargoyles are known to stave off evil spirits and generally promote good fortune wherever they are employed, and at Stone Brewing they take this idea seriously. Looking at Stone’s logo or any of their beers and you’ll find their figurehead gargoyle front and center, helping to ward off any evil spirits looking to do your beer harm. Gargoyles aside, it’s what is inside the bottle that has made Stone Brewing a powerhouse of craft beer for more than 20 years and counting.

Stone Brewing Co. was founded in 1996 by Greg Koch (pronounced “cook”) and Steve Wagner in San Marcos, CA. The first keg of beer ever produced by the brewery was their Stone Pale Ale, and while not in production today, it was the beer that launched an empire, so to speak. In their first year of brewing, Stone Brewing produced 400 barrels of beer, which was easily surpassed by the 2,100 barrels brewed in 1997. This tremendous growth has continued throughout Stone’s history up to today.

Fast forward to 2016 and Stone Brewing produced 350,000 barrels in a single year. This steady growth should stand to show how consistently great Stone’s beers have been and continue to be. Today Stone Brewing Co. brews out of their Escondido, CA brewery, which they’ve been in since 2005 as well as their newly opened brewery in Richmond, Virginia. For those with more European interests, Stone also opened their Berlin brewery in a former gasworks facility originally built in 1901.

To celebrate the opening of the new Berlin brewery, Stone is releasing a line of collaboration beers brewed in Berlin and imported into the US. Found in large magnum bottles, these unique beers are definitely not single serve, and as with the ideals of craft beer, are meant to be enjoyed with friends.

With breweries on both coasts of the US and in Germany, getting fresh Stone Brewing beer has never been easier.
The Beers
While Stone Brewing makes some seriously amazing year round beers, their seasonal program is really where it’s at. By keeping things fresh and changing up the big unique beers throughout the year, Stone Brewing helps to give us a taste of something different while continuing to come out with new and interesting beers on a regular basis, especially those special Berlin-brewed beers we’re dying to get our hands on.

Stone Tangerine Express IPA
Hops are amazing. Not only do they impart bitterness into the beer they’re brewed with, but they also add a host of other flavors ranging from pine to pineapple to citrus and beyond. All that flavor hiding in the small flowers of our favorite bine.

An excellent example of this is Stone Brewing’s Tangerine Express IPA. This beer is brewed with Citra, Centennial, Sterling, Azacca, and Mosaic hops to give it a fresh, citrus body that’s then accentuated by the addition of tangerine and pineapple puree.

Coming in at 6.7% ABV and 75 IBUs, Tangerine Express is a refreshing take on the classic West Coast IPA style that’s thankfully going to be around in 22oz bottles and draft year round.

Stone Ghost Hammer IPA
A fermenting beer never slumbers, or so says the folks at Stone Brewing and for good reason. The night shift at any brewery will tell you that when things quiet down and the night gets dark, those otherwise innocuous tanks and pipes take on a life of their own. Knocking, banging, and making all other sorts of ghostly noises while brave brewers and brewery staff do their best to assure themselves they ain’t afraid of no ghost.

With this in mind, Stone is releasing a new seasonal beer named Ghost Hammer IPA. This 6.7% ABV beer is being released in cans and features Loral and Magnum hops to give it a refreshing, bitter flavor that’s perfect for summer days and nights when you need a little liquid courage scaring off some ghosts of your own.

Stone Mocha IPA
Now I know what you’re thinking, hops…coffee…chocolate…really? Sure, on the surface these tastes may not initially seem like they go together but once you try this seasonal warm-weather beer, you’ll be convinced that coffee and mocha in your IPA is the best idea since beer and grass cutting.

There’s something to be said about sticking to the traditional styles, and something else entirely to cross the unspoken boundaries and mix the ideals of an IPA and a stout to make an amalgamation of styles that somehow works perfectly. Brewed using cold brew coffee, this beer gives you all the coffee flavor you love without added bitterness.

While Stone’s Mocha IPA is at its core a respectable double IPA, there are notes of coffee, milky sweetness from milk sugar, and a latte-like character that flows alongside the citrusy, juicy hops and the refreshing bitter finish. This seasonal beer comes in at 9% ABV.

Stone RuinTen
Originally brewed in 2012 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of one of the most intense, hop-forward beers in the Stone Brewing portfolio, Stone RuinTen continues to celebrate everything that makes Stone Ruination amazing while doing so much more.

Stone RuinTen is a triple IPA coming in at a staggering 10.8% ABV and 110 IBUs. Described by Stone Brewing as “A stage dive into a mosh pit of hops,” RuinTen is an over-the-top IPA that utilizes five pounds of hops in each barrel of beer to give it exceptional bitterness as well as a substantial flavor profiles that really has to be tasted to be believed.

So how do you make a beer this good even better? It may be hard but the brewers at Stone found a way. By adding orange peel and vanilla bean to the mix, we’re left with a beer that’s just as big and bitter as the original with some extra flavor added into the mix.

Stone RuinTen is available seasonally, stays fresh for only 90 days, and can be found in 22oz bottles and on draft.

Stone Farking Wheaton WootStout
What do you get when you cross a group of beer-loving nerds with a brewery that’s not afraid to do something a little weird and wild? Well, if you’re Wil Wheaton, Drew Curtis, and Stone Brewing founder Greg Koch you join forces and brew an outstanding beer and share it with the world.

With a name that’s more than a mouthful, Stone Farking Wheaton WootStout was originally released in 2013 as one of beer’s nerdiest collaborations. Fitting with Stone Brewing’s want for being different, this brew is a summer seasonal beer.

WootStout is available in 22oz bottles and on draft, and as you can imagine is one of the more rare seasonal beers in Stone Brewing’s portfolio, so keep your eyes peeled for some, and when it comes to buying some for yourself, do as Wil’s TV boss says, and “make it so.”

Stone Enjoy BY 7/4/17
Stone Brewing is dedicated to fresh beer. Some breweries say they love fresh beer, but few are so dedicated as to not only print the expiration date on the bottle, but to actually make it part of the beer’s name.

Stone Enjoy By is an insanely fresh double IPA that has a staggeringly low 37-day shelf life. This dedication to freshness can’t be achieved alone, it takes support from amazing local distributors like Vecenie Distributing to make sure the beer gets into our hands as quickly as possible, and to make sure only the freshest beers are in the wild.

Stone Enjoy By 7/4/17 is available in 22oz bottles, on draft, and for the first time ever, in 12-oz cans. Check out the patriotic-themed cans and bottles today and toast to freedom the best way possible.

Stone Berlin Groundbreaking Collaborations
With the opening of Stone Brewing’s, well, groundbreaking, new brewery in Germany, the company felt the need to release a line of collaboration beers brewed at the new facility to celebrate. Released in large magnum bottles, these beers are in short supply and while they may cost you a few bucks thanks to their epic size, the beer inside is definitely worth it. Just make sure to get a few friends to help you enjoy them.

The first of these special beers to hit our shores was an imperial coconut porter with Maui Brewing called Aloha! Berlin that featured hand-toasted coconut, Maui coffee and hazelnuts.

Next up for Stone Berlin was a collaboration with Victory Brewing and Dogfish Head Brewing called Royale Imperial Saison Du Buff. Released in February of this year, this imperial farmhouse style ale comes in at 10% ABV and features parsley, sage, rosemary, and lemon thyme.

Release number three was Stone’s collaboration with Brewdog Brewing Co. called Super Bashah. This blank Belgian-style double IPA features chocolate malt and Belgian yeast with an ABV of 9.7%.

The last of the initial launch beers from Berlin is a collaboration between Stone Brewing and The Lost Abbey called Sticks N’ Stones. This dark imperial lager comes in at 8.3% ABV and is brewed with Belgian yeast and aged with wood chips in granite barrels.

That’s not all though. There are a total of 14 collaborations headed our way from Berlin. Keep your eyes open for more big bottles to hit our shelves as these are released into the wild.

Of course Stone still offers their lineup of year-round and seasonal offerings, all of which are currently available with these amazing special beers listed above. So kick back, relax, and make this the summer of Stone.

Kissimmee – Florida

Icon Written by admin on April 30, 2017 – 5:36 pm

You’ll Want to Kiss Kissimmee
By Agent Suzanne Ferrara

If you haven’t been to a Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament in Kissimmee, Fla., you are missing out on a most impressive and thrilling experience.

Your step back in time to medieval Spain begins the moment you walk across the castle’s drawbridge. Inside the replicated 11th century fortress is a huge arena in which the tournament and royal feast takes place. Your role is that of a special guest of the King of the Realm, who invited you to his royal banquet. Once the action-packed festivities begin, you can’t help but be a part of this one-of-a-kind experience and its spirited atmosphere.

You will witness all the pomp and circumstance and pageantry that goes with a medieval tournament. Six highly-skilled knights engage in a heated competition for Princess Catalina’s hand, and the tournament includes jousting, hand-to-hand combat and sword fighting.

The knights, who are costumed interpreters, take their roles and aptitudes seriously; they not only go through extensive training, but have astonishing physical strength and have proficient steed skills as well. (Fact: Stallions and Pure Spanish horses, including the revered Andalusian, that are used for the production, live on the grounds and many of the knights are their actual caretakers). The horses are trained by a master mount trainer, and after they retire from performing, are treated like royalty for the remainder of their lives at the Medieval Times’ Chapel Creek Ranch).
The dignified sport of falconry is also part of the show. The majestic and powerful bird of prey soars above the audience, all the while following the direction of the expert Royal Falconer. Throughout the show, it will be hard to take your eyes off all of the action-packed talent, even while you are being served a feast fit for a king.

Did I say ‘feast’? Guests are served a scrumptious four-course dinner on pewter plates and bowls. Everyone eats Middle Ages-style, without utensils! What’s on the menu? Tomato Bisque Soup, Castle Bread, BBQ Spare Ribs, Roasted Chicken, Herb-Roasted Potatoes, and a Pastry of the Castle (an apple turnover). (Tip: Non-alcoholic beverages are included with your admission ticket, and there’s a cash bar for alcohol. Before the show, grab a refreshing libation in the main hall, then stroll around the castle and the medieval village).

Speaking of… the Medieval Village is comprised of eight cottages that feature coppersmiths, weavers and potters of the era. Be sure not to miss the Hall of Arms which is chock-full of medieval artifacts. There’s also a dungeon, full of centuries-old relics and instruments; this exhibit, however, may be too intense for some children. (Tip: Doors open 75 minutes before the show which is the best time to arrive and take in all the sites). (Seating Tips: The King’s Royalty Package includes VIP seating, a framed group photo with the king and princess, a knight’s cheering banner and a behind the scenes DVD. There’s first-come, first-serve seating for all regular admission tickets, so arrive early).

Wondering which knight wins the princess’ hand? After their epic battles, one of the King’s brave knights is named ‘Champion Knight’, and it could be the one you were rooting for during the night!

From knights on horses to a display of thundering horse power—we’re talking high performance engines at the Old Town, Kissimmee’s Muscle Car Show and Cruise each and every Friday night. American-made Muscle Cars (cars with a V-8 engine) from 1964- on and American classics right up until 1988 rev their engines and parade down Main Street, but that’s not all; every Saturday night, Old Town plays host to one of America’s longest-running weekly car show and cruise. The Saturday Nite Classic Car Cruise invites all 1979-and-older street and hot rods, and antique classics to show off their stuff down Main Street, too. For car enthusiasts, it is definitely a dream come true, and perhaps, just a little bit of motorized heaven!!
But there’s a lot more to Old Town than just a display of engines, that’s for sure; this recreated turn-of-the-century Florida town has been a destination for family-friendly fun for over three decades. This walking district, which boasts historical architecture, has something for everyone, and offers a plethora of attractions, entertainment, shops and restaurants! It’s the perfect opportunity to get in your steps and, at the same time, take in the culture and sights of an amazing community!

Need more excitement? Board an airboat in Kissimmee and tour the stunning headwaters to the Florida Everglades; for example, Boggy Creek Airboat Rides, which the Long family began back in 1994, offers a variety of thrilling tours. (Tip: The sunset tour is a must if you want to be awestruck by the sun setting over the lake, but if wildlife is something in which you are interested, take the half-hour or full-hour tours during the morning). In addition to soaring across the swamps at speeds of 45 miles per hour, riders will come across the Florida alligator, exotic birds and much more. (Tip: The best time to see alligators is on summer days before 10:00 a.m.).

Did you know? Kissimmee is known for being the ‘Vacation Home Capital of the World’, which means there are thousands of unique houses which you can use as your home base during your vacation. Want a pool? A hot tub? An entertainment room? These homes have every amenity you could desire, from pools to movie theaters, and a number of these vacation rentals come with a beautiful lakefront setting.

Oh, and did I mention that Kissimmee is just fifteen minutes away from Orlando’s Walt Disney World and Universal Studios? Just checking. Those spots seem to bring in a visitor or two as well.

For more information go to:

Travel Cuba

Icon Written by admin on March 30, 2017 – 6:54 pm

Travel ………Havana, Cuba… Exploring Opportunities

Mark Lucero, CEO of Vodka Brands Corp recently travelled to Havana with top Pennsylvania LCB officials, who went to Cuba to explore the possibility of exporting and distributing Havana Rum in Pennsylvania. Mark Lucero, Vodka Brands Corp met with top officials in Cuba and had discussions on the possibilities of importing and distributing Blue Diamond Vodka in Cuba. The meetings went extremely well and both the PLCB and Vodka Brands are extremely optimistic that Havana Rum will be imported to PA and Blue Diamond Vodka and Diamond Girl Brand will be ultimately exported and distributed in Cuba.

Vodka Brands Corp currently has three vodka labels, White Diamond a mid-priced, very smooth premium vodka, Blue Diamond a higher end ultra-smooth vodka and soon to be introduced Diamond Girl Specialty Brand Vodka their newest addition to their vodka brands. Vodka Brands Corp currently trades under the stock market symbol VDKB.

Cuba is a Caribbean island nation under communist rule. It has sugar-white beaches and is dotted with tobacco fields, which play a part in the production of the country’s legendary cigars, the Monte Cristo. The capital, Havana, is lined with pastel houses, 1950s-era cars and Spanish-colonial architecture in the 16th-century core, Old Havana. Salsa music plays in the dance clubs and cabaret shows are performed at the famed Tropicana.

Mark was extremely impressed by the pre-1959 cars which are mostly being used as taxis. These colorful well maintained classic cars are truly reminiscent of the 50’s.

Even though travel to Cuba for Americans is restricted, that doesn’t make it impossible to visit. For many years some intrepid Americans were traveling to Cuba anyway. Initially there were three ways to accomplish this.

Special License: You could register for a special license with the US Government if the reason for your travel fit a certain category. These include family visits, professional reasons, journalism, religious or cultural programs, and humanitarian projects.

People To People Tours: Organized tours that involve some sort of educational experience with local Cuban people. It’s never been defined officially, but basically your trip can’t just involve sitting on the beach. Travelers would talk with a school, volunteer for a community project, or collaborate with artists. A kind of legal loophole that tour companies use to sell tours in Cuba.

Foreign Gateway Cities: The other option was to travel to Cuba “illegally” through a foreign gateway city. This means flying yourself to Canada or Mexico first, then traveling to Cuba on your own from one of those countries. Because for the rest of the world, Cuba has been a popular travel destination for many years. It’s only us Americans who haven’t been able to visit Cuba!

New US Rules: As of January 16th, 2015 Americans no longer need to apply for specific licenses if they fit one of the 12 special categories.

• Family visits
• Official business or the US government, foreign government and certain intergovernmental organizations
• Journalistic activity
• Professional research
• Educational activities
• Religious activities
• Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions and exhibitions
• Support for the Cuban people
• Humanitarian projects
• Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
• Exportation, importation or transmission of information or informational materials
• Certain export transactions

What does this mean? It simplifies the process for Americans that meet those special requirements to visit Cuba. But it also creates a grey-area. If you no longer have to pre-apply for a license, can you say your trip is for journalism when it’s really not? Will anyone even check to make sure you actually match one of the 12 categories? If you don’t fit one of the categories, will anyone enforce the rules when you return to the United States? From our experience & listening to other travelers, the answer is no.

While it’s still technically illegal for Americans to travel to Cuba for tourism only, it seems in practice, no one really enforces these travel restrictions anymore since more and more airlines are offering flights from the US to Cuba.

Panhandle Bliss

Icon Written by admin on February 4, 2017 – 6:12 pm

Panhandle Bliss

By Suzanne Ferrara

What was once a sleepy fishing village, with miles of deserted sand dunes on land and some of the best catch available in the waters, has come a long way. Today Destin, Florida is one of the top beach destinations in the world, and is famous for its beautiful clear turquoise waters, sugar-white sand beaches and yes, for fishing.   Once you defrost in this heavenly beach playground, you’ll know why it ranks so high. While you really can’t go wrong when choosing a place to stay on this beach, there are some places that are worth mentioning, including one-of-a-kind experiences that everyone can enjoy!

It’s a refuge which oozes an unmatched setting. Bordering the pristine beach of the Emerald Coast and the breathtaking Henderson Beach State Park Preserve is an oasis unlike any other, The Henderson Beach Resort. This Salamander Beach and Spa Resort in Destin is the newest and one of the most luxurious beach destinations offered between New Orleans and Sarasota Florida. Not all resorts are created equal, a statement that certainly rings true at this irresistible retreat; it’s no wonder, because The Henderson was spawned from the adjacent, award-winning Henderson Park Inn.

This massive replica of a seaside inn is chockfull of enticing amenities and will wow you with its beautiful architectural design. From the wall of windows, to the cedar-exposed beams and tresses, to hundreds of pieces of stunning artwork adorning every corner, you will surely be inspired by this haven.

This quintessential American beach resort has a plethora of special touches like the sunset salutation bell which reminds guests to witness the amazing sight of a Destin sunset. (Tip: Watch the sunset from the rooftop terrace).   While taking in the views, sip complimentary beverages like ice tea, morning coffee and hot teas available in the lobby. Be sure to enjoy the sprawling veranda overlooking the state park and adjoining gulf coast. Right off this gallery is the octagon-shaped Horizons Bar with huge bay windows and a striking Italian marble fireplace. Here you can enjoy house-made snacks, precision mouthwatering cocktails and craft beers.

The balcony of your accommodations can give a vantage point that will instantly melt your cares away. (Tip: Request either the third or fourth floor corner rooms/suites which offer unparalleled views of both the stunning gulf and the unspoiled maritime forest preserve). You can also enjoy Mother Nature’s wonders up close on two wheels; the resort offers complimentary bikes and passes to the state park. (Tip: The resort offers free shuttle service).

After wetting your whistle, head to the Primrose Restaurant which boasts an open-air kitchen and unbeatable sushi bar, courtesy of Chef Hieu and his culinary masterpieces. The cuisine and service here are superb, and the dock-to-table dishes scrumptious. (Must try: the Chef’s Featured Catch of the Day and the Henderson Roll). Be sure to meet chefs Zachary Garza and Chase Gilley, both of whom pour their hearts into every delectable dish. Another dining option is the Beach Walk Restaurant which has sweeping views of the gulf at the resort’s Henderson Park Inn. (Must try: Smoked Tomato Soup with crab and Pepper-Crusted Yellow Fin Tuna).

After a good night’s rest, you’ll be ready to enjoy the zero-entry adults-only pool and cabanas, or take a relaxing float down the lazy river with the kids. For more sun action, take a stroll on the beach and enjoy complimentary beach chairs, umbrellas and free lemonade. Want to get active? The Henderson Beach Resort also offers various water sports and a state of the art fitness center and, for younger guests, a Kids Club.

A stay at The Henderson Beach Resort is not complete without experiencing the world class luxury Salamander Spa. You will not want to leave this tranquil paradise which exudes a healing atmosphere.   A visit here begins with a one-of-a-kind ‘singing bowl’ welcome ritual. Complimentary offerings include wholesome snacks, chocolate-covered berries, and a variety of teas to be relished in their inviting relaxation lounge.   This full-service spa boasts several water features and a lengthy list of services that will surely disconnect you from the cares of the day. (Tip: Two popular services are the Essential Balancing Facial and the Well-Being Swedish Massage).

Now, if you love everything about the beach, this is one thing you don’t want to miss and it’s for all ages: sandcastle lessons. In fact, you can build your dream sandcastle right on the sugar-white sand in front your beach resort.

Beach Sand Sculptures make ‘house calls’ all along the coast on both public and private beaches. Its sand castle experts haul out all the supplies and tools you will need to make your castle (which naturally makes this special activity very convenient), and all you’ve got to do is show up.

It’s a great way to bond with your family, friends or with the love of your life; a truly magical experience. You will learn all the secrets of how to build sand castles, and you’ll be able to take these tips to every beach you visit!   At the end, their experts will snap a picture of you and your family, proudly standing right in front of your sand castles. (Tip: This photo will make for a great Christmas Card)!

Speaking of conveniences, a really neat and refreshing lodging option is staying at the Jade East Towers in Destin. There’s just something about a smaller property that sets the mood for a totally intimate beach experience, not to mention having that wonderful property next to the emerald waters. If want your accommodations to be as close to the water as possible, the Jade East Towers are only 30 steps from the beach! Yes, Jade East has all the amenities you need including a Gulf-front pool, beach service, grills and a lighted tennis court, and the accommodations offer a number of things money can’t buy! For example: In addition to condos with sweeping balcony views of the Gulf, you can also receive a sensory experience, namely, the hypnotic sounds of the ebb and flow of the ocean. (Tip: Unit #0720 is a great option for this sensory experience, and the unit also has little inspiring touches like a desk planted within a floor to ceiling bay-window overlooking the hypnotic gulf or for a more dramatically experience on the higher-level floors reserve #1540 or #1040).

Jade East Towers is one of several diverse Newman-Daily Resort Properties ranging from beach homes, condos to villas and cottages. All Newman-Dailey vacation rentals have special offers to enhance your vacation stay – a “Be Free Bundle” gift card to use toward area activities from the Big Kahuna’s Waterpark, snorkel excursion, a sunset dolphin cruise and much, much more. Go to:

One of those hotspots included on the Newman-Dailey ‘Be Free Bundle’ that will surely put a smile on your face is the Track Family Recreation Center. There aren’t many places in America where you can ride a go-kart on a three-story spiraling wooden track, so be sure to take a spin on the Wild Woody; plus, there are also four other tracks including the ‘Slick Track’ and a great family track with an overpass simply known as ‘The Track’. For the little-ones. The Kiddie and Rookie Karts tracks are a great option, and The Track also offers mini-golf where you will discover jungle animals, right next to a great arcade and bumper cars. Feeling adventurous? The Track has bungee jumping and a Skyflier in which you glide in the air and get a feel for skydiving.

Hungry? You cannot beat the fresh seafood in Destin! Steeped in history and overlooking the marina Dewey Destin’s Restaurant. The Destin family and the community of Destin, Florida have been intertwined since Dewey’s great, great grand-father Leonard Destin founded; the town in 1835. (Tip: sit on the back porch overlooking the beautiful harbor and be sure to order the Jack Scallops appetizer and any fresh fish dish).

Another great option is the newly-owned Brotula’s Seafood House and Steamer. Chef Tommy Lamasters, a local boy, worked his way up the ranks in the restaurant industry and pours his heart into every dish he prepares. Fresh steamed and boiled seafood is a must, as well as locally caught fish. (Tip: Be sure to order the Build Your Own Boil and any Fresh Fish from the Gulf dish).

For breakfast, head to the apply named The Pancakery where you will find the mouthwatering Blueberry Hill, Destinite, and Chocolatier pancakes, to name a few. They also serve scrumptious freshly made omelets and crepes.

For more information on accommodations visit:, and

For information on the aforementioned activities and special offers visit:,, and

Craft Beer for a New Year (2017)

Icon Written by admin on February 4, 2017 – 5:32 pm

Craft Beer for a New Year

We’re one month into 2017 and the craft beer calendar is already shaping up to be a real winner. From returning favorites to new and interesting one-off beers…February is definitely here to help you recover from our collective post-election hangovers.

Anderson Valley Brewing Co.

Briney Melon Gose – You may not be familiar with the gose beer style (pronounced go-sah), but you should be. These beers are slightly salty with a tart character that’s akin to sour beers, but more tart than sour. The folks over at Anderson Valley Brewing Company have brewed a few varieties of this classic beer style, including this brand-new iteration that’s bound to please.

The classic gose style is paired with subtle watermelon aroma and flavor to give this beer a perfect harmony between acidity and fruity sweetness. The finish is nice and dry, giving you a beer that’s both tart and sweet without any lingering sweetness on the finish. As with others in the style, this new gose will come in at a sessionable 4.2% ABV and is available in bottles, cans, and on draft.

Ee Tah! IPA – Adding to Anderson Valley’s strong pale ale portfolio is their Ee Tah! IPA. Golden yellow in color, this India pale ale features aromas of tropical fruit, passion fruit, and just a hint of citrus. The impressive hop profile comes via Chinook, Citra, and Amarillo hops while pale, pilsner, and midnight wheat malts give the beer a nice balance. Coming in at 7.5% ABV, this is one beer that’ll pair with your favorite grilled meats and spicy dishes.

Bell’s Brewery

Hopslam – When it comes to IPAs, this one may very well be king. Bell’s Brewing uses six different varietals of hops to craft the huge citrus and floral flavor that’s packed into this beer, giving it a complex and very bitter taste and aroma. Weighing in at a hefty 10% ABV, Hopslam is a beer for true lovers of the hop.

Hopslam is a true imperial IPA, with a huge flavor and enough alcohol to give the beer a slight warmth on the finish. As you might have guessed, Cupid’s worked overtime on this one, making just about everyone love Hopslam, so while it may take a little work to find this beer, the work is definitely worth the reward. Hopslam this year is available in 12oz cans, and on draft.

Smitten – Smitten isn’t a word that’s used too often anymore, but I argue that it should be. A perfect use of this word is for the golden rye ale brewed by Bell’s Brewing. Their idea of Smitten starts with rye to impart a spiciness and body to the beer that give the beer an almost magical presence.

On the nose, you’ll notice peppery rye spiciness along with a noticeable bready aroma. The taste has rye up front with a nice citrusy hop character following it up. All of this sits nicely on a malt backbone that’s all about bready malt. The rye imparts a creamy mouthfeel that finishes the beer up perfectly.

Bell’s Smitten Golden Rye Ale clocks in at 6% ABV and is available during the spring and early summer. Smitten is a great example of an interesting take on the traditional American Pale Ale with a nice rye malt twist. Smitten Golden Rye Ale pairs very well with strong cheeses, salty snacks, and savory meats. Smitten is available is 12oz bottles, 16oz cans, and on draft.

Dogfish Head Brewery

Flesh and Blood – While 60 and 90 Minute may be IPAs from Dogfish Head we’ve grown to love, Flesh & Blood IPA is the up-and-comer that’s won over a lot of hearts. Originally released in 2016, this IPA features a hearty dose of real citrus including lemon flesh and orange juice as well as orange and lemon peel.

Flesh & Blood balances the American IPA style with zesty fruitiness to give it the bitterness that hopheads love and the drinkability that those less hop-inclined need. Coming in at 7.6% ABV and 45 IBUs, Flesh & Blood IPA is just about perfect, especially now that it’s available year-round, and it’s even available in cans!

Erie Brewing Co.

Ol’ Red Cease & Desist – Ol’ Red is a big 10.1% ABV wee heavy Scotch ale that features a strong caramel malt flavor that finishes with a smooth, alcohol warming sensation. This hefty beer is a deep red color with a light foamy head. Aromas include dark fruit, malt, and a touch of caramel.

Ol’ Red pairs well with Fruity, mild, or buttery cheeses as well as smoked and roasted meats, sausages, and even crème brulee and shortbread cookies.

Heavy Seas Beer

TropiCannon – Citrus and IPAs go together like, well, citrus and IPA! This seasonal offering from Heavy Seas Beer clocks in at 45 IBU and 7.25% ABV, and features huge citrus aroma and flavor that’s backed up by a balanced hop profile.

TropiCannon starts its life similar to Loose Cannon, and while they share the same ABV, the beer cousins couldn’t be more different. On the citrus side you’ll find blood orange, grapefruit, mango, and lemon in both the aroma and flavor while the hop side you’ll get some piney hop flavor along with even more citrus thanks to the Amarillo and Simcoe hops.

North Country Brewing Co.

Liquid Love – One of the tenants of a good Valentine’s Day is chocolate. A close second to this would be, in my book, alcohol, so why not combine the two into a stout that is part chocolate, part beer, and all amazing?

North Country Brewing out of Slippery Rock, PA brews their Liquid Love Stout to be the perfect balance of chocolate and dark stout not only for those of us celebrating Valentine’s Day, but for anyone else looking for a great dark beer with overtones of dark chocolate. When it comes to chocolate stouts, a little goes a long way, which is why this beer is so great. The beer is well balanced with enough bitterness paired with the toasted malt to support the chocolate and make this 6.5% ABV beer extremely drinkable and infinitely enjoyable, but make sure to find it on draft, as it’s the only way you’ll find it this year.

Thanks Daaaaan – Brewed with legendary sportscaster Dan Potash, Thanks Daaaaan Belgian Wheat is a light, refreshing Belgian wheat beer that comes in at 5.5% ABV and like most wheat beers, is a hazy golden color with a frothy white head.

Oskar Blues Brewing Co.

Deviant Dales – This imperial IPA comes in at 85 IBUs and 8% ABV, and features aromas of citrus, grapefruit rind, and piney resin. Deviant Dale’s pours a deep copper color with an off-white foamy head.

As for flavor, Deviant Dale’s packs in more of that citrus and pine and follows it up with a malt backbone that finishes slightly dry.

Otter Creek Brewing Co.

Kind Ryed – When it comes to IPAs, a growing trend is the use of rye in the recipe to give the beer an added bit of spiciness and body. Otter Creek Brewing does just that with their Kind Ryed IPA, giving it a strong rye malt backbone to support the 60 IBU and 6.5% ABV the beer features.

By using a combination of Apollo, Simcoe, Chinook, and Centennial hops, the brewers at Otter Creek give this beer a clean, refreshing taste that has just enough rye to make it one of the more unique IPAs around.

Saugatuck Brewing Co.

The Reverent Monk – Belgian monks have been brewing beer for hundreds of years, giving them a history of quality that’s simply amazing. While the monks brewed their beer for help with nutrition while on fasts as well as to sell to travelers, Saugatuck Brewing brews their Reverent Monk Belgian Tripel purely for our enjoyment.

Coming in at 10% ABV, Reverent Monk features complex flavors of clove, banana, and spicy esters to give the beer a depth of character that’s hard to find outside of the Belgian borders.

Stone Brewing

Ripper – The different varieties of pale ales are often overshadowed by the bigger, hoppier India Pale Ales. While some may say these styles are starting to merge, there’s still more than enough room for the base pale ale in our beer world.

Take for example Ripper, a 5.7% ABV pale ale. This beer features tropical and floral aroma and flavors in a bright, golden body. Technically considered a West Coast pale ale, this is the perfect beer for long days at the beach or warm evenings on your porch, both of which we’re hoping to see very soon.

Jindia Pale Ale – Always ones to experiment with the IPA style, Stone Brewing is releasing a one-off IPA that’s sure to impress. Their Jindia Pale Ale comes in at 8.7% ABV and features balanced levels of ginger, juniper, and citrus to give this beer a very gin-like quality that makes it bright and refreshing. This, paired with the beer’s intense hop flavor make for a brew you won’t soon forget.

Straub Brewing

Groundhog Altbier – Whether that seer of seers and prognosticator of prognosticators predicts more winter or an early spring for us, one thing we can be certain of is Straub’s Groundhog Altbier and its ability to get us through however many cold nights we have left.

Coming in at 6.9% ABV, this end of winter beer pours a bright copper color with a toasty, caramel flavor and aroma.

Tröegs Independent Brewing

Nugget Nectar – Here’s a beer you could really make your main squeeze. Nugget Nectar is Tröegs Brewing’s ode to the hop. Tröegs uses ultra-fresh hops to give this beer huge aroma and flavor that’s hard to beat. Coming in at 7.5% ABV and a hefty 93 IBUs, this beer is technically considered an imperial amber ale, even though it’s stiff competition for any IPA out there.

Nugget Nectar just saw its 2017 release in January to a thirsty throng of beer lovers, and if you want to get your hands on this lovely, you better do it soon or else be without the one you love for another year. And trust me, this isn’t one you want to have a long-distance relationship with. Nugget Nectar will be available in 12oz bottles, cans, and on draft.

Victory Brewing Co.

Sour Monkey – Sour beer is something of an acquired taste. When first trying a sour beer, it can be somewhat overpowering and not at all what you’re expecting. Given a few tastes however, you’ll find depth of flavor and aroma that makes these beers a truly unique experience.

Sour Monkey is a 9.5% ABV version of the popular Golden Monkey is soured using a strain of Brettanomyces, giving it added flavors of lemon, tartness, and overall Brett funkiness.

21st Birthday IPA – Ah, the joy of the 21st birthday. Being able to go out to the bar and legally buy the drinks you’ve longed to have. It’s an event most of us remember (for the most part, that is) as being a fun, special day.

Victory Brewing is turning 21 this year, which means it’s time for them to celebrate by having themselves a beer. This year Victory chose to brew a special IPA that features aggressive kettle and dry hopping with fresh-harvested hops, giving this 6.1% ABV beer some real character.

The New Look of Dogfish Head

Icon Written by admin on October 8, 2016 – 10:33 am

The New Look of Dogfish Head

There’s a saying that goes “it’s what’s on the inside that matters,” and while that’s definitely true for beer, it never hurts to look good, too. It may hurt to admit, but a beer’s packaging has to look as good as the beer inside tastes for it to be truly successful. With hundreds of craft breweries making thousands of different beers, it’s that first impression that helps make a beer love at first sip.

Sam Calagione founded Dogfish Head Craft Brewery with the need to make beers that were different from the rest of the crowd. His goal was to brew beers that used culinary ingredients in a way that made as much sense as hops and malt all the while making beers that were off-centered while staying true to the roots of brewing history.

Not one to go with the flow, the design of Dogfish Head’s lineup of beers hasn’t changed much since the brewery’s inception and for good reason. Calagione and crew loved simple, descriptive designs that let the beer speak for itself. Years later, the “shark and shield” that marks every bottle, case, keg, and glass from Dogfish Head and has become one of the most notable examples of design in the craft beer world.

It’s hard to change a design that everyone knows while assuring your loyal fans that the beer inside is the same amazing ale that they’ve come to love. Sticking with the tried and true design is fine when you’re producing a handful of beers, but when you’re talking about a brewery like Dogfish Head that has more than 30 beers available in 2016 alone, having a design that signifies it as a Dogfish Head beer while showing the difference between those beers can be quite complex, especially with the constant addition of new beers.

The designs that worked for Dogfish Head early on weren’t so easy to adapt to their growing lineup of beers in a meaningful and recognizable manner. It was time for a change.

This change comes in the way of a complete redesign of the core beers that Dogfish Head offers, with more redesigns to come soon.

The New Design
The key to any product redesign is to make it a big enough change that it’s useful while keeping it familiar enough as to not confuse the people that love your beer. With this in mind the shark and shield are hanging around for the redesign as well as that unique Dogfish Head font that’s adorned every bottle of their beer for the majority of the brewery’s existence.

Beyond this, the new design showcases the ingredients that make the beer special while showing you everything you’d want to know about the beer you’re drinking including ingredients, size, ABV, and of course the beer name and style. No hunting for facts or spinning a bottle to read everything. It’s all right there for you to read.

The six-pack carriers even put the key ingredients for the beer illustrated over the carrier handle so you literally have a handful of hops or other ingredients as you take your beer home. In short, it’s a perfect mix of new and old that gives Dogfish Head’s beer lineup a look that’s similar to each other while being just different enough to stand out.

The Beers
Dogfish Head is kicking the new design off with seven of their current beers, with more to follow. The beers getting the first crack at a redesign are:
• 60 Minute IPA
• 90 Minute IPA
• Flesh & Blood IPA
• Indian Brown Dark IPA
• Midas Touch Ancient Ale
• Namaste White Belgian-Style Witbier
• SeaQuench Ale Session Sour

60 Minute IPA
Dogfish Head’s flagship beer is by and far their 60 Minute IPA. This well-balanced IPA is continually hopped IPA features citrusy hop character while keeping the bitterness in check with a malt bill that helps to round this beer out to make it the complete package.

60 Minute is named for the length of the boil and the length of the corresponding continuous hop addition. 60 Minute is golden amber in color with a piney, citrus hop-forward aroma, a hoppy, malty balanced taste, and a crisp medium mouthfeel that leaves a slight bitterness behind. 60 Minute comes in at 6% ABV and 60 IBU.

90 Minute IPA
The first beer to be continually hopped by Dogfish Head’s founder Sam Calagione, 90 Minute IPA is the big kind on the block when it comes to year-round IPA’s from Dogfish Head, and rightfully so.

90 Minute sits at 9% ABV and 90 IBUs, and while this may seem a little imposing, this beer has a strong malt backbone that helps to even things out in the way of flavor and aroma. Instead of being overpowering, 90 Minute features the pine and citrus aroma and flavor that’s found in its little brother, just with a little more prominence. 90 Minute is fuller bodied with a slightly more robust mouthfeel than 60 Minute, but in a way that keeps the drinkability of this beer high while making sure you respect the 9% ABV.

Flesh & Blood IPA
While 60 and 90 Minute may be the seniors of this lineup, Flesh & Blood IPA is the freshman on campus. Originally released in 2016, this IPA features a hearty dose of real citrus including lemon flesh and orange juice as well as orange and lemon peel.

Flesh & Blood balances the American IPA style with zesty fruitiness to give it the bitterness that hopheads love and the drinkability that those less hop-inclined need. Coming in at 7.6% ABV and 45 IBUs, Flesh & Blood IPA is just about perfect, even if it’s only available in the summer months.

Indian Brown Dark IPA
What do you get when you cross an IPA with a brown ale? Well, if you’re Dogfish Head you get Indian Brown Dark IPA. Somehow Indian Brown balances the two seemingly opposing styles of beer into one amazing beer. The malty toastiness of the brown ale balances out the mild hop bitterness, leaving you with caramel and brown sugar notes that finishes dry.

Indian Brown Ale comes in at 7.2% ABV and 50 IBUs, and is available year-round. While you can get this beer throughout the year, fall seems to be the perfect time of the year to either revisit this beer, or to discover it for the first time.

Midas Touch Ancient Ale
Beer has been around for literally thousands of years, making it one of the oldest alcoholic beverages in the world. That means there’s a vast history of beer spread throughout the ages. In an attempt to explore this rich history while respecting the brewers that have come before them, Dogfish Head worked with the University of Pennsylvania to determine the ingredients used to brew a beer that was brewed 2,700 years ago via traces found in a drinking vessel in none other than King Midas’ tomb.

Midas Touch is sweet yet somehow dry and is brewed using barley, honey, white muscat grapes, and saffron to give this beer a unique mead-like character while still remaining a beer through and through. Midas Touch is 9% ABV and a meager 12 IBUs, meaning it’s big, slightly boozy, and sweet up front with a crisp, clean finish.

Namaste White Belgian-Style Witbier
When it comes to Belgian-style witbiers, finding one that’s truly unique can be hard to do. Borrowing a word commonly used by our yoga-practicing friends, Namaste means “the spirit in me acknowledges the spirit in you,” which is Dogfish Head’s way of thanking all their fans that’ve turned their fellow beer-loving souls onto the off-centered brewery.

Namaste White is 4.8% ABV and comes in at 20 IBUs. This straw-yellow ale features aromas of citrus and cloves with just a hint of coriander in the background. This is carried through to the taste, with sweet malt notes added in as well as a slightly spicy finish. Exceedingly refreshing, Namaste White is crisp and perfect for chilly days as much as for hot ones, and thankfully it is available year round.

SeaQuench Ale Session Sour
Finishing up our list of newly designed beers is another member of the freshman class, and it’s one of the more unique beers on the list, too. SeaQuench Ale is a session sour beer that’s brewed with lime peel, black limes, and sea salt to give you a tart, citrusy merger of three different German styles of beer.

SeaQuench Ale starts its life as a straightforward Kölsch with lots of wheat and Munich malt. From here a salty Gose (pronounced go-sa) is brewed with the black limes, coriander, and sea salt. Finally, the last beer is a tart Berliner weisse brewed with lime juice and lime peel. These three beers are combined, and just like Voltron, they become more than the sum of their parts once combined. SeaQuench Ale kicks off a partnership between Dogfish head and the National Aquarium located in Baltimore, Maryland, and their logo can be found on the SeaQuench Ale label.

SeaQuench Ale is 4.9% ABV and 10 IBUs. Expect a tart, slightly sour character that’s light, refreshing, and all-around great. SeaQuench Ale is available in August and September each year.

Look out for the new labels for your favorite Dogfish Head beers and enjoy the beer you love with a fresh, new design.

Fall Beers for Every Taste – 2016

Icon Written by admin on October 8, 2016 – 10:29 am

Fall Beers for Every Taste

While we hate to see summer make its yearly exit, it means that fall is on its way and with it comes the amazing variety of fall beers. As the leaves start to change as it seems do our tastes in beers. The bright, refreshing beers that call summer their home don’t leave us entirely, but they definitely make way for some bolder and more robust beers. Darker, stronger, and even spicier beers dominate the fall season and for good reason. The nights are starting to get cooler and the days shorter, meaning we all need a little something extra to make the transition into fall go a little more smoothly.

While autumnal beers seem to be known primarily as full of pumpkin and spice, that’s not all the beers of fall have to offer. You’ll find stouts, porters, brown ales, the quintessential pumpkin ales, Oktoberfest style beers, and even some pretty great IPAs and other beers you probably wouldn’t align with the fall.

We’ve done the hard work for you and rounded up some of our favorite fall beers that run the gamut of flavors, alcohol content, color, and style. Check out our list of fall beers for every taste and find your new favorite beer for this autumn.

Anderson Valley Brewing Company – Fall Hornin’: With a brilliant, deep copper hue and creamy beige-colored head, our Fall Hornin’ Pumpkin Ale has inviting aromas of caramelized malt and baking bread with highlights of cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin and seasonal spices. The pleasantly creamy mouthfeel and silky body embrace the sweet caramel flavors and tang of spices with just hint of hops that ends with a smooth, round finish. 6% ABV

Bell’s Brewery – Best Brown Ale: When it comes to fall beers it’s hard to find one that’s more universally loved that Bell’s Brewery Best Brown Ale. With hints of caramel and cocoa, this well-balanced beer has a deep malt body that’s balanced out nicely by the generous use of American hops. 5.8% ABV

Buffalo Bill’s Brewery – Pumpkin: America’s Original Pumpkin Ale was first brewed in 1985. Made with real pumpkin, it has a golden amber color, and the sweet aroma of pumpkin pie. This brew is perfect for Fall, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. Pumpkin Ale is available from August through November. 6% ABV

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery – Punkin’ Ale: A full-bodied brown ale with smooth hints of pumpkin and brown sugar. Dogfish Head brews Punkin Ale with pumpkin meat, brown sugar and spices. As the season cools, this is the perfect beer to warm up with. 7% ABV

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery – Seaquenchale: A beer doesn’t have to be dark and spicy to be a fall beer, and this is shown best with the newest beer in Dogfish Head’s seasonal lineup: Seaquenchale. This beer is classified as a sour session ale that features lime juice, lime peel, salt, black limes, and coriander. A closer look at Seaquenchale will show a mix between a Kolsch, Berliner Weisse, and a Gose that is perfectly mated to give a refreshing sour taste that’s not overly sour while being exactly what we need to send summer off in style. 4.9% ABV

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery – Red and White: Originally released in 2006, Dogfish Head’s Red and White is a big Belgian-style witbier that’s brewed with coriander and orange peel, then fermented with pinot noir grape juice. Think of Red and White as a refreshing mix of the ideas behind both beer and wine while staying safely on the side of beer. 10% ABV

East End Brewing Company – Big Hop Harvest: There’s fresh, then there’s Big Hop Harvest fresh. This IPA starts its life just like any other batch of East End Brewing’s Big Hop IPA and gets so much better from there. Big Hop Harvest gets more malt, more hops, and more ABV. Hops are driven from the farm they’re grown on and added to the beer the same day they’re picked, making Big Hop Harvest just about the freshest beer you’ll get all year.

Erie Brewing Company – Johnny Rails Pumpkin: A blonde based ale. It is a fruit beer with delicious flavor, a great nose, and the perfect poise of pumpkin and spice. This flavorful brew is sure to get you in the fall spirit. 6.5% ABV

Hacker-Pschorr Brewery – Oktoberfest: When you’re having an Oktoberfest-style beer, you might as well make it a true Oktoberfest brew, which Hacker-Pschorr’s version definitely is. This beer is brewed in Munich for the annual Oktoberfest celebration and features a malt body that’s complimented by a slight hoppy note in the finish. 5.8% ABV

Heavy Seas Beer – Greater Pumpkin: In the most worthy of pumpkin patches and during the silence of the midnight hour, the Greater Pumpkin rises up and pours a rich deep and orange color. Heady aromas of bourbon, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and clove linger over the thick white head of this giant brew. Its love at first sip as the full malt body, dominated by British crystal malt, brown sugar and pumpkin, slowly washes over your tongue. Bourbon barrel aging rounds out the flavors with notes of oak, vanilla, and bourbon. 10% ABV

Lancaster Brewing Company – Baked Pumpkin: Have your pie and drink it too! Bold flavor with a deep amber color, our big Baked Pumpkin Ale is sure to remind you of Grandma’s homemade pumpkin pie. 7.3% ABV

Lancaster Brewing Company – Oktoberfest: Oktoberfest uses seven different malts and three varieties of imported and domestic hops, as well as authentic Bavarian lager yeast. Light in copper color, this beer is full-bodied with a nice malt sweetness. 5.5% ABV

North Country Brewing Company – Late Night Pumpkin: For the fall season, North Country brews their Late Night Pumpkin with a healthy dose of pumpkin, spice, and of course this is all done late at night, when the pumpkins taste their best. Coming in at 6.1% ABV with a gold color and a nice spiced character, Late Night Pumpkin is a canned beer you definitely need to try. 6.1% ABV

Otter Creek Brewing Company – Overgrown Ale: Dripping with dank, American hop flavors and aromas, Overgrown is balanced by a subtle, sweet malt backbone that takes a back seat to the bountiful hop additions. A celebration of the hop-growing season, this one will tangle up your taste buds. 5.5% ABV

Smuttynose Brewing Company – Pumpkin Ale: This beer is a homage to the craft and heritage of America’s brewers. Recipes calling for the use of pumpkins in beer date back to early colonial times, when brewers sought to extend their supply of costly imported malt with locally grown ingredients, such as squash and “pompions.” in that spirit, Smuttynose brews this ale with the addition of pumpkin to the mash, along with traditional spices to create a delicious American original. 6.35% ABV

Spring House Brewing Company – Braaaiins Pumpkin: Available this year for the first time in cans, the “pumpkin ale for Zombies” is brewed with generous amounts of pumpkin added right to the mash, giving the beer a subtle pumpkin flavor that’s accentuated by traditional autumn spices that has a bold malt body and a nice, crisp finish. 8.5% ABV

Stoudt’s Brewery – Oktoberfest: This medium-bodied amber beer elegantly combines a touch of malty sweetness with a pleasingly subtle aromatic hop character. 5% ABV

Tröegs Independent Brewery – Hop Knife: Hop Knife Harvest Ale recognizes the meticulous, time-honored tradition of hand-harvesting hops at the peak of maturity. Troegs HopCyclone process creates an inward spiral of hop dispersal during fermentation, releasing a bounty of citrus, resin and tropical aromas. 6.2% ABV

Tröegs Independent Brewery – Master of Pumpkins: Pulling the strings of great beer and smashing some pumpkins in the process is a pretty amazing beer from The Troegs brothers out of Hershey, PA. Master of Pumpkin is brewed with native Pennsylvania neck pumpkins that’re harvested just a few miles away from the brewery, and is combined with traditional pie spices that’s so good it’s almost blinding. 7.5% ABV

Victory Brewing Company – Festbier: Highly aromatic and full-bodied, this novel pale ale delivers a fresh hop flavor like no other. Its secret? Fresh hops piled into the boiling kettle just hours after their harvest. With many more of their essential oils intact, these ‘wet’ hops add glorious middle notes of juicy, fruit and tea-like bite to play off of its lightly toasted malt character deliciously. 5.8% ABV

Victory Brewing Company – Moonglow: Weizenbocks are an amazing style of beer. Originating in Germany, these beers use German hops and wheat beer yeast. This gives Moonglow distinct flavors of clove, vanilla, and honey along with a light hop character. Much like our favorite doctor’s box, this beer is definitely bigger on the inside. 8.7% ABV

Weyerbacher Brewing Company – Mellow Monks: Belgian-style beers have a surprisingly complex character that’s hard to beat. Reminiscent of Weyerbacher’s Merry Monks beer, this mellow sibling is much more sessionable and features notes of apple, pear, and banana. 4.5% ABV

Weyerbacher Brewing Company – Imperial Pumpkin: This high gravity pumpkin ale is the mother of all pumpkin ales. It is heartier, spicier, and more “caramelly” and “pumpkiny” than its faint brethren! Anderson Valley added lots of pumpkin along with cinnamon, nutmeg and a touch of cardamom and clove giving this beer a spicy, full-bodied flavor. This truly is an Imperial Pumpkin Ale. 8% ABV

Weyerbacher Brewing Company – Sunday Morning Stout: Sometimes you want a light golden ale or a bright, hoppy pale ale, but it’s hard to argue that sometimes a big, strong stout is exactly what you need, and Weyerbacher is happy to help. Weyerbacher’s Sunday Morning Stout features aromas of roasted coffee and bourbon that pair perfectly with flavors of chocolate, roasted malt, vanilla, and caramel, and at 11.3% ABV, it’ll make your Sunday morning pretty great. 11.3% ABV

Each of these beers can be found in and around the Pittsburgh area by Vecenie Distributing

Rocking Little Rock

Icon Written by admin on October 8, 2016 – 10:25 am

“Rockin” Little Rock
By Suzanne Ferrara

Little Rock is far from little, and no one knows that more than the locals who will repeatedly tell you it’s a “big-little city”. Little Rock may have gotten its name from French explorers who identified the area by a small rock formation they called “La Petite Roche” on the Arkansas River in 1799, but those early settlers would not recognize the land they discovered so long ago. This city, a mini-metropolis, has developed by leaps and bounds over the last 20 years, and offers visitors more than ever before.

One thing is for sure, Little Rock is chockfull of political lure; it’s a city from where governmental deals and national historical events have rocked the nation. Add to its lengthy repertoires a myriad of award-winning restaurants, entertainment venues, museums and outdoor adventure, and you’ve got a prime vacation destination.

Once you arrive, make a bee-line straight to the historic luxury Capitol Hotel, which opened in 1873, and is ironically known as the “Front Porch of Little Rock.” Attention to detail is an understatement in this refined oasis which has a quiet grace about it. The Capitol Hotel’s grand staircase is said to be a “sweet spot” for political hopefuls announcing their candidacies. (Tip: The Capitol Hotel’s Chuck Magill and Stefan Piraux, the chief concierge, exude Little Rock hospitality and are full of knowledge about both the hotel and the city).

With its marble columns, grand hallways, towering ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows in every room, you can’t help but feel the history in the Capitol Hotel. The elevator is so large that, according to legend, it was constructed to easily accommodate President Grant and his horse. By the way, the historic State Capitol, the oldest state capitol building west of the Mississippi River and the location of President Clinton’s election night celebration in 1992, is just down the block.

Before you head out to explore the highlights of Little Rock, make a stop at the hotel’s Capitol Bar and Grill, a place where political deals have been struck for more than a century. Here you can sip a legendary cocktail and tempt your taste buds with award-winning provincial comfort dishes. (Recommended: The Best Spiced Pecans and Pimento Cheese appetizers, followed by the one of the best hamburgers in Little Rock, and finished off with some amazing house-made banana pudding). The cocktail menu, meanwhile, is full of historical libations like The Seersucker and hand-crafted cocktails with a new twist like the Crop Duster.

Who needs the White House? The Clinton Presidential Center, which is the presidential library of Bill Clinton, showcases fascinating artifacts from his presidency including full-scale replicas of the Clinton-era Oval Office and Cabinet Room. Here you can find out how it feels to sit in the Commander in Chief’s chair (be sure to take a photo).

There are 79,000 artifacts, 80 million documents, and Bill Clinton’s
Presidential limousine is on display. There’s even a heart-warming letter from Mother Teresa (canonized a saint September 4th) addressed to the first lady. An array of awe-inspiring and one-of-a-kind gifts given to President Clinton are on display; however, for those objects not on exhibit, museum visitors can get a sneak peek inside the vaults to see more phenomenal possessions.

President Clinton’s story unfolds before your eyes from his campaigns to his inaugurations to his notable policy-making, and it’s all revealed through a myriad of items, photographs and videos that are sure to capture your attention. While the exhibit really brings to life President Clinton’s presidency, it also intimately shows visitors a real example of how the US President lives while leading the country.

Who needs to go to the Olympic Games? You can see some of the most inspiring artifacts used in the Olympics up close and personal at the Clinton Presidential Center. The temporary exhibit called, American Champions: The Quest for Olympic Glory, includes memorabilia featuring dozens of American Olympic athletes including a U.S. Olympic Hockey Team hockey stick and puck used to win the Silver medal (also on display) in the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games. You can also experience what it feels like to sit inside the 4-man bobsled piloted by Steven Holcom at the 2010 Games in Vancouver; this bobsled is a replica of the Night Train which was used to win the first gold medal for an American bobsledding team since 1948.

The Quest for Olympic Glory also includes artifacts dating back nearly three-quarters of a century. The Silver medal and Team USA sweater and track jersey worn by Clyde Scott in the 1948 Olympic Games in London, Peggy Fleming’s figure skating costume from the 1968 Winter Olympic Games in Grenoble, France, and the 1936 Western Union Telegram to President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the selection of Jesse Owens as the head of the American Olympic ‘welcome home parade’ are also part of the exhibit. This display showing the strength of the human spirit through the Olympics is sure to inspire everyone. You can easily spend an entire day at the Clinton Center, so be sure to carve out a lot of time to enjoy this unmatched experience, highlighted by both permanent and temporary exhibits.

While at the Clinton Center, be sure to check out the 30-acre Clinton Presidential Park surrounding the museum on the riverfront. The site was once part of the rundowned warehouse district and has been revitalized with pathways and gardens thanks to President Clinton’s vision. Be sure to cross the historic 1899 Rock Island Railroad Bridge, which was converted into a pedestrian bridge crossing and offers scenic views of the historic Arkansas River.

Little Rock has come a long way since the days of European settlers who tried to limit Quapaw Indians’ alcohol consumption and the era of destroying whiskey distilleries. In fact, just a few blocks away from the Clinton Presidential Park, the whiskey is overflowing. Here lies the Rock Town Distillery, Arkansas’ first legal distillery since prohibition! In fact, in a complete paradox, while half of Arkansas’ 75 counties are dry, Little Rock is pouring out its spirits and promoting its locally produced libations with a tasting tour.

Rock Town, which was named one of the ten best Southern Distillery Tours by USA Today, is one of several stops on Greater Little Rock’s Locally Labeled Spirits Passport Tour. This artisan craft distillery is where you will find the coveted award-winning 2015 American Micro Whiskey of the Year, awarded in the revered Jim Murry’s Whiskey Bible.

Arkansas native Phil Brandon is the founder of Rock Town, and he offers award-winning distillery tours seven days a week, and by tour’s end, you’ll taste all of Rock Town’s award winning spirits. Phil will take you through the whole process of making spirits from grain to glass, and uncovers the genesis of bourbon, vodka and gin. But the Locally Labeled spirit tour extends beyond the Rock Town Distillery stop; it includes nearly a dozen homegrown craft breweries and wineries all of which feature beverages that are sure to please.

One of the most fascinating and unusual stops in Little Rock is the ESSE Purse Museum, the only purse museum in America and one of only three in the world. This private museum takes an intimate look at the evolution of purses and its personal contents from American women for more than a century. Viewing the development of handbag styles and the intimate items women carried in their purses during each extraordinary decade gives one a true testament and perspective of how different eras affected women’s lives. This is a ‘don’t miss’, one-of-a-kind experience, and it’s all in Little Rock!

The ESSE purse museum unveils how purses evolved from an accessory primarily designed to hold ladies’ coins to an essential carrier of necessary contents reflective of a woman’s core. The ESSE purse museum also reveals how purses became a fashion statement, showpieces to costly labeled designer bags. The myriad of styles, kaleidoscope of colors and materials on stage are truly an eye-full.

While the museum is a 20th century gallery, for a contemporary exhibit of the purses various women carry today and their contents the ESSE Purse Project blog continues this intriguing show online. The project encourages women to send in photos of their handbags, their contents, their age and occupations, and to share it all with the world via the internet.

While you can’t buy a purse from the museum exhibit, you can purchase a handbag at the museum’s store. You can choose from their collection of vintage handbags to handmade originals made of leathers, canvass and metals.

For a moving historical experience, about a mile away from the ESSE Purse Museum, you can walk up the same steps as the “Little Rock Nine” did at Central High School in 1957. The national historic landmark and proposed world heritage site also has an extensive visitor center across the street which offers interactive exhibits and details on the Little Rock Nine’s place in civil rights history. (Time tip: You will need a couple hours to really enjoy the depths of the visitor center’s exhibit.)

In case you didn’t know, Little Rock is a secret foodie town with a plethora of award-winning tasty dining options. In addition to the Capitol Hotel’s Capitol Bar and Grill, be sure to enjoy the array of culinary offerings in Little Rock’s South Main District. This must-experience of an up-and -coming neighborhood boasts unmatched restaurants and shops that make sustainability and locally-sourced products a top priority.

A visit to Little Rock is incomplete without a visit to The Root Café, a local favorite which uses local meats, eggs, bread, produce, cheese and nuts. The Root has an award-winning breakfast and lunch and its homey atmosphere exudes character with antiques and collectables. Nearly every Saturday morning you will find Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola, who like the plethora of locals, enjoys the quality savory dishes.

Another award-winning must visit (and a popular spot for local food critics) is the South on Main which is both a restaurant and entertainment venue. Chef Matthew Bell serves innovative dishes with a southern flare which reign at South on Main. In addition to creating savory, unforgettable dishes, Chef Bell strives to make sure all employees are like family, and this relationship is evident by the up-beat team spirit displayed at one of Little Rock’s most popular restaurants. Grab a table and enjoy a delectable dinner as you enjoy some culturally-rich entertainment born from content associated the Oxford American magazine. Trotters with Creamed Greens, Pumpkin Seeds & South on Main Grape Jelly, and Pork Ribs with Twice Baked Potato serve as memorable starters and main dishes.

Anytime is the perfect time to step back in time at the Loblolly Creamery also located in the South Main District. Once you open its street-cornered door, you instantly realize you are in a special place. Grab a seat at the marble counter of this neighborhood soda fountain and ice cream bar located inside The Green Corner Store & Soda Fountain. There’s nothing like the mouthwatering taste of a freshly churned scoop of ice cream and baked goods made with farm-fresh dairy products and local quality ingredients. Loblolly Creamery serves a plethora of unique, mouthwatering flavored homemade ice creams with flavors like Lemon Berry Ice Box Pie and Little Rock-y Road, and refreshing soda fountain phosphate sodas, like the old fashioned concoctions created in the late 1800’s, are also served. Need a gift? The Green Corner Store and Soda Fountain has several specialty and locally made items. You will find it hard to turn yourself away from this place which oozes old time atmosphere.

Rest assured, you won’t see all that Little Rock has to offer in one visit;
For more information go to:

20 Years of Stone Brewing

Icon Written by admin on July 26, 2016 – 5:45 pm

20 Years of Stone Brewing

What does it take for a craft brewery to be in business for 20 years? For Stone Brewing it takes a focus on creating amazing, innovative beers and a healthy dose of ­­consistency, topped with a penchant for taking risks on big, hoppy beers before “craft beer” ever joined the general lexicon.

Stone Brewing was founded in 1996 by Greg Koch (pronounced “cook”) and Steve Wagner in San Marcos, CA. The first keg of beer ever produced by the brewery was their Stone Pale Ale. In their first year of brewing, Stone Brewing produced 400 barrels of beer, which was easily surpassed by the 2,100 barrels brewed in 1997. This tremendous growth has continued throughout Stone’s history, never dropping below an average of 25% growth every year.

Fast forward to 2015 and Stone Brewing produced 325,645 barrels in a single year. This steady growth should stand to show how consistently great Stone’s beers have been and continue to be. Today Stone Brewing primarily brews out of their Escondido, CA brewery, which they’ve been in since 2005. Along with the new brewery Stone also opened Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens in 2006. This amazing beer garden and world-class restaurant reflect the dedication to quality and innovation that is at the core of Stone Brewing.

Speaking of growth, 2016 marks the grand opening of Stone Brewing’s newest brewing location, and lucky for us, it’s on the east coast. Stone Brewing decided to call Richmond, VA their new home away from home, giving us east-coasters a direct line to some of the freshest beer around.

The Beers

While Stone Brewing makes some seriously amazing year round beers, their seasonal program is really where it’s at. By keeping things fresh and changing up the big unique beers throughout the year, Stone Brewing helps to give us a taste of something different while continuing to come out with new and interesting beers on a regular basis.

Stone Mocha IPA

Now I know what you’re thinking, hops…coffee…chocolate…really? Sure, on the surface these tastes may not initially seem like they go together but once you try this seasonal warm-weather beer, you’ll be convinced that coffee and mocha in your IPA is the best idea since beer and grass cutting.

There’s something to be said about sticking to the traditional styles, and something else entirely to cross the unspoken boundaries and mix the ideals of an IPA and a stout to make an amalgamation of styles that somehow works perfectly.

While Stone’s Mocha IPA is at its core a respectable double IPA, there are definitely notes of coffee, milky sweetness from milk sugar, and a latte-like character that flows alongside the citrusy, juicy hops and the refreshing bitter finish. This seasonal beer comes in at 9% ABV

Stone Citrusy Wit

It may seem like Stone Brewing only likes to make big hoppy beers and while they do have a predilection for them, that doesn’t mean they can’t do their own take on a typically lighter style of beer every now and then, too.

Stone Citrusy Wit follows Stone Brewing’s need to be unique by changing up the typical orange peel found in wits and replacing it with tangerine and kaffir lime leaf. This gives the beer a fruit-forward aromatic character as well as a definite citrus note to the flavor while keeping the beer balanced.

Stone Citrusy Wit comes in at 5.3% ABV and is available during the summer months in 12oz bottles, 6-packs, and on draft.

Stone RuinTen Triple IPA

Originally brewed in 2012 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of one of the most intense, hop-forward beers in the Stone Brewing portfolio, Stone RuinTen Triple IPA continues to celebrate everything that makes Stone Ruination Double IPA amazing while doing so much more.

Stone RuinTen is a triple IPA coming in at a staggering 10.8% ABV and 110 IBUs. Described by Stone Brewing as “A stage dive into a mosh pit of hops,” RuinTen is an over-the-top IPA that utilizes five pounds of hops in each barrel of beer to give it exceptional bitterness as well as a substantial flavor profiles that really has to be tasted to be believed.

Stone RuinTen is available seasonally, stays fresh for only 90 days, and can be found in 22oz bottles and on draft.

Stone Farking Wheaton w00tstout

What do you get when you cross a group of beer-loving nerds with a brewery that’s not afraid to do something a little weird and wild? Well, if you’re Wil Wheaton, Drew Curtis, and Stone Brewing CEO & co-founder Greg Koch you join forces and brew an outstanding beer and share it with the world.

With a name that’s more than a mouthful, Stone Farking Wheaton w00tstout was originally released in 2013 as one of beer’s nerdiest collaborations. This year, w00tstout is brewed with wheat, pecan, and is partially aged in bourbon barrels. This strong, dark stout comes in at 13% ABV and fitting with Stone Brewing’s want for being different. While not a seasonal beer and more of a special release collaboration beer, we’re glad to have it around either way.

w00tstout is available in 22oz bottles and on draft, and as you can imagine is one of the more rare special release beers in Stone Brewing’s portfolio, so keep your eyes peeled for some, and when it comes to buying some for yourself, do as Wil’s TV boss says, and “make it so.”

Stone Enjoy By 09.30.16 IPA

Stone Brewing is dedicated to fresh beer. Some breweries say they love fresh beer, but few are so dedicated as to not only print the expiration date on the bottle, but to actually make it part of the beer’s name.

Stone Enjoy By IPA is an insanely fresh double IPA that has a staggeringly low 37-day shelf life. This dedication to freshness can’t be achieved alone, it takes support from amazing local distributors like Vecenie Distributing to make sure the beer gets into our hands as quickly as possible, and to make sure only the freshest beers are in the wild.

Stone Enjoy By 09.30.16 IPA is available in 12oz bottles, 22oz bottles, and on draft. Stone Brewing releases the latest variation on August 1st, so look for it in and around Pittsburgh shortly thereafter.

The Almighty Can

Beer in a can is far from new, but craft beer in a can is a pretty fresh idea that’s really starting to get legs under it lately. As an environmentally-friendly, innovative brewery, Stone Brewing is starting to embrace the aluminum vessels in a very big way. Starting off with the Arrogant Brewing line of beers, Arrogant Bastard Ale as well as Who You Callin’ Wussie pilsner, which is a fairly big departure for Stone Brewing (and Arrogant Brewing, too), showing us that yellow fizzy beer doesn’t have to be for wussies.

Stone Brewing is also kicking off their canning line with the classic Stone IPA in 12oz cans as well as Stone Go To IPA, their sessionable hoppy ale also in 16oz cans. Both of these beers ae available in 12-packs, full cases, and variety 12-packs as well, making them the perfect beers for the beach, the yard, or a Pirates tailgate.

Red, White and Brew

Icon Written by admin on July 5, 2016 – 7:00 pm

Red, White, and Beer

Celebrate Craft Beer Independence with These Patriotic Brews

Independence. It’s something that we often take for granted unless the calendar falls on July 4th, and even then this patriotic holiday often celebrates fireworks and cookouts more than independence and freedom. One place that independence is never taken for granted however is in the craft beer world. Craft brewers large and small all share one thing in common: their independence from being ruled by someone in a far-away castle.

Craft brewers are, at their core, fiercely independent. It’s what makes craft beer so unique and so special. While you should support your local brewer every day of the year, the summer and more specifically our Independence day, make for a perfect time to try a few of your favorite craft beers and even try a few you haven’t had before.

Check out our choices for patriotic craft beers below, and remember that independence isn’t something to be taken lightly, just like craft beer.

Stoudts Brewing Company

It’s hard to find a more American beer than an American Pale Ale, but Stoudts Brewing found a way to do just that, they put their refreshing APA into a red, white, and blue-labeled bottle with a vintage-inspired flag right on the front. If that’s not celebrating independence, I don’t know what is.

This hoppy session ale features a crisp, medium body with a light amber color. The hop kick comes to us thanks to Warrior and Cascade hops, giving the beer enough bitterness to be refreshing while hanging on to a vibrant citrus aroma.

Grab a few of these 5.1% ABV beauties for your 4th of July festivities as well as for anything else you do throughout the year, as Stoudts APA is thankfully a year-round beer.

Victory Brewing Company

Founded in Downingtown, Pennsylvania in 1996, Victory Brewing is a welcome constant in a world of constant change in the craft beer world. Both HopDevil and Festbier were part of the initial lineup of beers offered by Victory, are still available today. Along with these two staples of their lineup, Victory Brewing offers a variety of beers both seasonally and year round.

Most notably for the warmer weather from Victory are their lighter-bodied refreshing beers including the always popular Summer Love, a 5.2% ABV golden ale that features whole flower hops paired with imported 2-row German malt. Another great summertime offering from Victory is their Cage Radler. Radlers are beers that mix fruit juice and lager beer to give you something that’s refreshing without being overly sweet. Cage Radler comes in at 3% ABV and features the light, dry taste you expect from a lager while adding in the tartness and refreshing nature of fresh lemon.

Straub Brewery

What’s more American than being the best at something? Recently the World Beer Cup was held and Pennsylvania’s very own Straub Brewery walked away from the worldwide event with a bronze medal for their Kolsch.

What better time to celebrate their win than during July when we’re celebrating the independence that helped them be in business since 1872.

Their award-winning Kolsch is available starting in the spring and typicall hangs around through some of the summer months, too. This 5% ABV beer is crisp, malty, and has just a hint of fruitiness on the finish.

Their Kolsch shouldn’t cast a shadow on their always available Lager and Amber. These beers, both available in summer-friendly cans, are quite possibly the perfect beer for a hot day of yardwork or cooking out. It doesn’t get much more independent than this.

Bell’s Brewery

Much like most other breweries, there’s a great story behind the start of Bell’s Brewery. Started 30 years ago in Kalamazoo, Michigan by Larry Bell, the brewery began as a passion project that quickly became a great example of the American dream. Fast-forward from the early 80’s back to today and Bell’s Brewery makes some of the best craft beer around.

Take for example their Oberon American Wheat Ale. The brewers at Bell’s took a beer style that was popular for generations in Europe and gave it an American kick that helps solidify the American Wheat Ale as our very own. This 5.8% ABV beer features spicy hop character with mild fruity aromas. The addition of wheat malt to the brew givers this beer a smooth mouthfeel while staying refreshing. While there’s a lot of spicy tastes in this beer, it’s all from the brewing process and the four basic ingredients that make beer great: water, malt, hops, and yeast.

Bell’s Brewery was the first craft brewery east of the Rockies, and 30 years after opening their doors, is a staple of the craft beer world, helping to keep craft beer Independent and strong.

Jack’s Cider

What started as a family farm in Gettysburg, PA is today a surprisingly amazing farm-to-table cider producer that has as big of a focus on family today as they did when they turned their first apples into cider.

Hailing from a place that independence isn’t only valued, but was fiercely fought to obtain, Jack’s Cider makes crisp, refreshing hard ciders that don’t rely on being overly sweet to be delicious.

Their most popular ciders are definitely the Jack’s Cider and their Helen’s Blend. While Jack’s is nice and dry, Helen’s Blend is off-dry, giving it a taste that’s universally loved.

Smuttynose Brewing Company

It’s hard to find a better example of our independence than New England during the Revolutionary War. It was from this collection of states that the revolution truly began and our independence was fought for and ultimately won.

Smuttynose Brewing calls New England and specifically Hampton New Hampshire home. As with the other breweries in our list Smuttynose Brewing is fiercely independent and makes some pretty amazing beers.

While Smuttynose Brewing produces great beer both seasonally and year round, it’s their most popular beers that keep us coming back from more. Take for example their Finestkind IPA. This 6.9% ABV beer comes in at just over 73 IBUs, giving it enough bitterness to make it stand out as a quality bitter IPA while staying surprisingly refreshing.

Dogfish Head Brewery

1995 was a special year for craft beer. It was this year that Sam Calagione opened the doors to Dogfish Head Brewery, originally located in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. From the single storefront in the small beach town Sam was able to grow Dogfish Head into one of the largest craft breweries in the United States today.

When it comes to solid, consistent craft beer it’s hard to beat Dogfish Head. Their 60 Minute IPA is a staple of craft beer and more often than not is the entry point for many people not only into the world of IPAs, but to the world of craft beer as a whole. 60 Minute IPA comes in at 6% ABV and 60 IBUs, and is continually hopped over the entire 60-minute boil process.

While 60 Minute may be their best-selling beer, Dogfish Head is known for exercising their independence by producing some of the weirdest and wildest craft beers available today. With ingredients ranging from the mild peaches, grapes, and pumpkin to the wild like wattleseed, amaranth, rooibos tea, and even some myrica gale, Dogfish Head is definitely not afraid to experiment.

Voodoo Brewery

Without our veterans we wouldn’t have very much independence to speak of at all. This may be why the craft beer world is filled with veterans both owning breweries and working for them. This is just as true locally as it is nationally, and one of the best examples of this is the fine folks at Voodoo Brewery. Originally founded by Matthew Allyn, a USAF veteran, and run by an Army vet, the company actually recently became one of the smallest employee-owned businesses in the country.

Voodoo Brewery touts an extremely impressive lineup of beers ranging from their outstanding barrel-aged beers to their impressive year-round lineup. Hoodoo IPA is one of Voodoo Brewery’s most impressive beers, and for good reason. This 7.3% IPA features seven different varieties of hops and while the beer is impressively bitter, it still features notes of maltiness and even a slight fruity candy finish.

Tröegs Independent Brewing

Finishing out our list is a brewery that believes so much in being independent that they included it in the brewery’s name. Tröegs Independent Brewing is based out of Hershey, Pennsylvania and makes a lineup of beers that stands out in an industry that can be tough to impress.

The warmer months are the perfect time to enjoy a Tröegs beer, as their nearly perfect Sunshine Pils makes its appearance. This 4.5% ABV beer is light in body but big on flavor and character.

Whether you’re porch-sitting, grass cutting, or just kicking back and relaxing, Tröegs Sunshine Pils is exactly what this summer needs.

All of these beers and more are available in and around the Pittsburgh area from Vecenie Distributing.

The Canned Beers of Summer — 2016

Icon Written by admin on June 17, 2016 – 2:52 pm

The Canned Beers of Summer

The first portable beers left breweries by way of bottle, which is no surprise knowing that beer was first bottled by a brewery more than 400 years ago. Since then the bottle has been a staple of getting beer from brewer to drinker, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best method possible.

Take for example the can. Canned beer is better in many aspects than beer in a bottle. Not only does a can protect your beer from light better than a bottle ever could, but it seals out oxygen better than a bottle cap can, too. Cans are easier to recycle, cheaper to ship, and get cold faster than a bottle could ever hope to. In short, cans rule.

There was a time that only cheap, flavorless beer was put into a can and the better, craft beers were bottled, but today that just isn’t the case. More and more craft breweries are starting up canning lines and putting their amazing beers into these aluminum receptacles to help get you the best, freshest beer possible.

Each year the list of beers available in cans grows, making beer in a can the newest trend in craft beer, and one that’s easy to get behind. From protecting your beer to amazing recycling stats, beer in a can is where it’s at. We’ve compiled a list of the hottest seasonal beers coming out in a can as well as year-round beers that are making their debut in a can this year to make it easier on you when you make your next beer run.

Whether you’re tailgating, cutting the grass, sitting on the porch, or even kicking back on a beach, these canned beers are not only better in a can, they’re safer for those glass-free situations. Grab yourself a beer koozie and dive into our list of summer canned beers.

Anderson Valley Brewing Company

Anderson Valley Briney Melon – Back in the early 16th century, the people of Golsar, Germany created a beer that was brewed with salt water and spiced with coriander and hops. Allowed to ferment with lactic bacteria, this tart beverage was a loved by the masses. As with all things, history has a way of repeating itself and Anderson Valley is here to help with their Melon Gose (prounouced go-zuh). This 4.2% ABV beer is light yet tart with a slightly salty taste. Perfect for warmer months, this beer is only around during the summer so make sure to try it before it’s history again.


Anderson Valley Summer Solstice – Unlike winter and fall beers, summer beers fall into quite a few categories and run the gamut of flavors. Take for example Anderson Valley’s Summer Solstice. This beer is slightly sweet with a malty backbone and a clean finish. Summer Solstice is considered a session beer, coming in at 5% ABV, making it perfect for having a few beers while barbequing or cutting the grass. Bravo hops give this beer a slight hop flavor and the light spice addition gives the beer a hint of caramel and spice, making it a “cream soda for adults” without being too sweet.

Bell’s Brewery

Bell’s Brewery Oberon – Few things taste more like summer than a cold can of Bell’s Oberon. This 5.8% ABV wheat beer features a spicy hop character with mild fruity aromas. The malt gives this beer a smooth mouthfeel and pleasant lightness that makes it nearly perfect for the warm summer months. Oberon is available in 12-oz cans as well as the 16-oz pint cans, giving you the exact right amount of beer to make the porch-sitting months hopefully last forever.

Heavy Seas Beer

Heavy Seas Smooth Sail – Wheat ales seem to make the best summer beers, but sometimes they can get a little bit overused and, dare I say, boring. The folks at Heavy Seas Beer agree on both counts, which is how their Smooth Sail Summer Ale was born. This 4.5% ABV wheat ale is brewed with lemon and orange peel, giving the finish on this beer a great citrus kick. Since cans are the best beer vessel for the summer, this beer will only be available in cans and on draft. So, grab a can, kick back, and enjoy the tastes of summer without worrying about broken bottles or boring beers.

Lancaster Brewing Company

Lancaster Brewing Kölsch – Originally brewed in Köln, Germany, the Kölsch is a beer that seems to be brewed specifically for the summer. Lancaster Brewing’s Kölsch comes in at 4.8% ABV, making it great for a variety of outdoor activities, and the fact that it’s available in a can makes it even more versatile. Lancaster’s summer seasonal pours a pale straw color and features floral hop notes followed up by a smooth malt character, which is thanks to their extended cold aging.

North Country Brewing Company

North Country Brewing Bucco Blonde – Blonde ales are typically light and refreshing, making them a perfect match for warm weather, and North Country Brewing’s Bucco Blonde just that. This 4.9% blonde ale has a great malty body with just a hint of bitterness to balance things out. Best of all, this beer is brewed specifically for our very own Pittsburgh Pirates, and more specifically for Bucco’s pitching coach Ray Searage, also known as Uncle Ray. To sweeten the deal even more, proceeds from Bucco Blonde go to benefit the Make a Wish foundation.

Victory Brewing Company

Victory Brewing Summer Love – Returning this summer again in a can, Victory’s seasonal Summer Love comes to us in the go-anywhere 12-oz can. While there are many reasons to love summer, Summer Love is possibly the best. This golden ale comes in at 5.2% ABV and features tastes of fresh, clean German malts with earthy, spicy noble European hops, and finishes up with a slight lemon aftertaste thanks to some whole flower American hops used in the brewing process.

Victory Brewing Golden Monkey – Available for the first time in cans, the now year-round Belgian-style tripel comes in at a hefty 9.5% ABV and while yes, this isn’t your typical summer beer, it’s availability in cans makes it a sure-fire win for any time of the year. Golden Monkey has a surprisingly light taste and mouthfeel, and features herbal, fruity notes along with the spicy flavor and aroma that’s common to many tripels. While this may not be the best beer for mowing the lawn, it’s exactly what you need for kicking back on the porch or having a great tailgate.

Victory Brewing Vital IPA – One of the newer beers from Victory is also available in cans this year. Vital IPA is a 6.5% ABV beer that features fresh, crisp, fruity notes that are thanks to whole flower American hops and rugged German malts. IPAs are typically very refreshing, making them great beers for the warmer months, and Vital IPA delivers everything you want with pine, tropical fruit, and a light body to round things out.

Oskar Blues Brewery

Oskar Blues Beerito – While IPAs are great, there’s something about a crisp, light-bodied lager on a hot day that’s as close to perfection as you’re apt to achieve. Oskar Blues Brewery knows this, and to help us all try to reach Beervana, they’re releasing Beerito this summer. Beerito is a 4% ABV Mexican lager that features German and Colorado malts along with noble hops. This combination gives Beerito a surprisingly deep character for a beer that only comes in at 4%. This might just be your new favorite lawnmower beer.

Otter Creek Brewing Company

Otter Creek Brewing Fresh Slice White IPA – The call of the lawn chair and fresh cut grass is a strong one, and Fresh Slice from Otter Creek Brewing is here to answer it. This 5.5% white IPA includes a little clementine peel and coriander along with some very dank hops. Otter Creek uses Belgian yeast in this beer to give it a crisp, fresh taste that’s refreshing, especially on those hot summer days. Best of all, this is the first can ever offered by Otter Creek, so check it out while you can, as this one is only seasonal for the summer.

Otter Creek Brewing Steampipe – Continuing with Otter Creek’s newfound love for canning beer, one of their newest beers is making its debut this summer in cans. Steampipe is a 6% ABV California-style common lager with an extra kick of juicy hops. Modeled after the California Common, or “Steam Beer” style of lager, Steampipe uses a lager yeast yet is fermented at a higher temperature that is normal. The California Common style of beer is one of the only beer styles to have originated in the United States, making it a great beer for celebrating not only all summer long, but all year long, as Steampipe is a year-round beer.

Tröegs Independent Brewing

Tröegs Sunshine Pils – Coming back again this year in cans is Tröegs Brewing’s Sunshine Pils, this year sporting its all-new artwork and design. This straw-golden Pilsner comes in at 4.5% ABV and is possibly one of the most refreshing beers you’ll ever try. Brewed with Pilsner malt and both  Hersbrucker and Saaz hops, this Euro-style Pilsner is crisp and light while having a solid hop character. Perfect for just about any meal or a good day of yard work, Sunshine Pils is like sunshine in a can. Catch Sunshine Pils while you can, as it’s only available in the summer months.

Tröegs Nimble Giant – New to the Tröegs portfolio of beers this year is a hefty double IPA known as Nimble Giant. This 9% ABV imperial IPA is a late-summer seasonal that’s only available in 16 oz. “pounder” cans and on draft. Brewed with Azacca, Mosaic, and Simcoe hops, Nimble Giant features notes of grapefruit rind, pineapple, and honeysuckle while keeping an earthy character that makes this IPA one that any hop head needs to try as soon as possible.

San Antonio Serenade

Icon Written by admin on May 3, 2016 – 5:24 pm

San Antonio Serenade
By: Suzanne Ferrara

It’s easy to get lost in San Antonio’s mystique; the central Texas city’s alluring charm and fascinating history is practically unmatched. The millions of visitors who return here, year after year, know first-hand that one visit is not enough. It’s the kind of place that seems to capture the soul and leaves you longing for more; in fact, it’s one of the most unique places on American soil, a place where you can experience some of the colorful character and spirited culture of Mexico.

Standing amidst this metropolis is a consummate symbol of courage and sacrifice: the iconic, awe-inspiring Alamo. No visit to San Antonio is complete without witnessing the “Shrine of Texas Liberty”, and the list of those who battled Santa Anna’s Mexican troops includes a veritable “who’s who of Texas history”: Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and William Barret Travis.

While history unfolds inside these walls, it also comes to life in the treasure trove of amazing artifacts that reflect the site’s 300-year history. Included in the collection are personal items and objects of the Alamo defenders including Crockett’s ornate vest and Bowie’s knife.

Delve even further into the city’s natural and cultural heritage with a stroll through the picturesque Paseo Del Rio (the San Antonio River Walk). The renowned downtown River Walk is full of restaurants, shops, and bars, with many built of native stone. The beautiful San Antonio river flows through winding pathways lined with Cypress trees and lush tropical foliage.

Board a boat which glides underneath a canopies of trees and under stone-arched bridges, and as you do, you are sure to hear the sweet melody of strolling Mariachi bands serenading bystanders with their lively rhythms and harmonies. A great way to experience the River Walk is by taking a 35-minute, narrated boat ride tour offered by Rio San Antonio Cruises (which run from morning till night).

For an unforgettable experience, hop aboard one of the candlelit dinner cruises available for a relaxing evening on the river. Boudro’s, a New American bistro with wood-grilled steaks and seafood, serves up awesome fare, and the ride begins with bowls of the mouthwatering guacamole made with roasted tomatoes, fresh lime and orange juice. Sipping a refreshing signature Prickly Pear Margarita is a must.

After that, it’s only a few steps to a good night’s rest at the Marriot River Walk, which is conveniently located near several attractions. As a matter of fact, the River Walk’s pathways and a boarding stop for the river boats are right outside the hotel. (Tip: Request a river view room with a balcony).

In the morning, head to Market Square (El Marcado), the largest Mexican market in America, one filled with a plethora of specialty shops, produce stands and restaurants. In the heart of this three-block long plaza is the legendary Mi Tierra Restaurant and Bakery, a world famous landmark located in Market Square. The Cortez family has been serving scrumptious Tex Mex and authentic Mexican dishes since 1941 when it started with only three small tables; today there’s seating for more than 500. As musicians visit diners, Mi Tierra and its colorful décor of Christmas lights and pinatas, is the place for a spectacular feast.

Be sure to check out the inspiring grand artistic addition to this longtime establishment: a massive mural of Mexican Americans entitled “The American Dream”. This Spanish heritage masterpiece is the work of five artists, including local favorite Roberto Ituarte, and took more than two decades to complete. Ask your waiter to show you how to see the mural in 3-D, a special technique Ituarte used to make it seemingly come to life.

For an innovative yet deeply rooted traditional culinary experience, tempt your taste buds at La Gloria (The Heaven) located on the historic Pearl Brewery Complex. San Antonio’s famed Chef Johnny Hernandez offers unique, authentic street foods of Mexico like Tacos al Pastor of Mexico City to Cocteles de Mariscos from Veracruz. Hernandez takes authenticity to heart, and it shows, right down to the kitchen tools he uses to create his dishes.

Just fifteen minutes away from all of this vibrancy is the breath-taking Texas Hill Country, a perfect setting to unwind and have fun amid seemingly painted vistas. The San Antonio Hill Country is dotted with grand resorts offering guests both the best in luxury and entertainment; each has its own unique architecture and grand water features.
La Cantera Hill Country Resort, part of the Destination Hotels collection, sits on 550 picturesque acres. This estate boasts four pools (with poolside attendants), 10 luxury cabanas, and a bar that overlooks the scenic hills; plus, there’s a kids’ pool with a pair of slides of which they’ll never tire.

La Cantera also offers two world-class golf courses, including one designed by Arnold Palmer, and lessons are available from PGA professionals. For the young set, there’s endless fun at the resort’s Kids Club; and in the evening, the entire family can roast marshmallows and then watch Six Flags Fiesta Texas fireworks show.

This resort boasts nine distinctive dining and beverage options, ranging from casual to gourmet, and all have a southwestern flair. At Primero Cantina, Chef Zachary Garza uses his grandmother’s recipes and the flavors of Mexico (and Texas) in his creations. Be sure to try the Mixto Ceviche, Tacos Al Pastor, and their Carne Asada with house-made corn cakes and goat cheese, then finish it off with Sweet Tamales topped with hibiscus cream, corn nuts and fresh mint.

A special culinary feature: a charcuterie with delectable smoked meats and gourmet cheeses at Bocado. If that’s not enough, there’s an inventive and savory menu at Sweet Fire Kitchen including the unique deviled eggs and classic wood fired pizzas.

Six Flags Fiesta Texas is only one minute away from La Cantera Resort, and this theme park has dozens of thrill rides including the new 4-D free-fly Batman coaster, Bugs White Water Rapids, and Scooby Doo Ghost Blasters. Younger kids can venture to the water park and Kidzopolis plus take photos with numerous Looney Tunes and DC Comics’ characters.

Twenty miles away, in the community of Cibolo Canyons, is the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa. The resort’s six-acre River Bluff Water Experience is reason enough to check into this estate; this massive water feature has a 650-foot river ride, water slides, plus a 1,100-foot lazy river.

Want something special out of the water? Head to a pair of 18-hole PGA tour golf courses, walk or bike a five-mile trail thru rolling green hills, or take their “Nightlife” nature walking guided tour. After dark, you can stargaze with a resort astronomer or enjoy s’mores at your own campfire.

Leave your worries behind and renew yourself at the J. W. Marriott’s state-of-the-art, 26,000 square-foot full-service Latina Spa. This spa has a beautiful private pool, fitness center, café and boutique, and indigenous plants and herbs are used to pass on the healing traditions from the Curanderos (village healers) who lived more than 500 years ago.

Hungry or thirsty? There are seven restaurant and lounge options including Cibolo Moon which serves mouthwatering regional Hill Country cuisine with Mexican influences. J.W. Marriott also has a supervised kids’ recreational program at the Range Rider Kid’s Club where on some nights, children even make their own ice cream. Don’t be surprised if your little one doesn’t want to leave.

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Emerald Coast Paradise — Santa Rosa Beach — Florida

Icon Written by admin on April 4, 2016 – 6:22 pm

Emerald Coast Paradise

By: Suzanne Ferrara

Nestled among the sugar-white sand and pristine turquoise waters of the famed Emerald Coast is the idyllic Santa Rosa Beach. This charming northwest Florida beach town is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico and the Choctawhatchee Bay, making it a nature lover’s paradise.

Adding to this picturesque escape, Santa Rosa Beach is home to the breath-taking Point Washington State Forest and the historic Eden Gardens State Park. These natural wonders add to the mystique of this coastal paradise for vacationers from around the world who seek this sublime refuge. Santa Rosa also boasts award-winning restaurants, boutique shops, family attractions and a myriad of outdoor adventures.

Perhaps the most alluring natural feature is the unspoiled white sand beaches and clear turquoise waters. There’s something truly hypnotic about hearing the ebb and flow of the gulf waves crashing onto the coastline, and at the award-winning, luxurious WaterColor Inn and Resort you can hear these natural sounds right outside your door or private balcony patio. That’s because the water’s edge only steps away from guests at this “Four Diamond” retreat.

Whether you want to relax in this enveloping oasis under the resort’s beach umbrellas or take a dip in either the invigorating clear gulf waters or one of six resort pools, the experience will renew your senses. Guests of the WaterColor Inn and Resort can enjoy the private beach club which overlooks the gulf; it’s here you can swim, relax, have lunch, or sip your favorite frozen concoction. (Tip: The club balcony is another great spot to watch the stunning Emerald Coast sunsets.)

Traveling with family? Camp WaterColor is chock-full of fun, kid-friendly activities. Adjoining rooms are available, or you can opt for an upscale beach house or cozy cottage. There’s also the convenience of a resort-wide concierge service, and everyone in the family will enjoy acres of parks, lush gardens, foot paths and a state-of-the-art fitness center.

The WaterColor community is pedestrian-friendly, and the very best way to get around is by foot or bike (the latter of which is provided by the nearby Bike Barn). A myriad of biking and walking trails are threaded throughout the sprawling (and charming) 500-acre development.

From the resort, take your two-wheels for a ride on the Timpoochee Trail which will give you an intimate look all along 30-A, a scenic highway along the Gulf of Mexico coast. Among the sights are mesmerizing views of snowy beaches, dune lakes, both old Florida and Caribbean architecture, and green trails.

Had enough of land exploration? For a memorable water adventure, head to WaterColor’s BoatHouse for a kayak, canoe, sailing, or YOLO boarding excursion. And fishermen should feel at home as well: cane poles and bait are available, you can fish right off of the BoatHouse docks on Western Lake. (Note: Because of this very unique coastal dune waterway, with spring waters which at times open to the Gulf, you can catch both fresh-water and salt-water fish).

Western Lake is a 220-acre rare coastal dune lake, and is sure to inspire anyone who paddles through its waters. To learn more about this fascinating environmental treasure, sign up for the unforgettable Walco Eco Tour with master naturalist Murray Balkcom. Whether it’s a guided family adventure or a romantic boat trip for two, you are sure to create a memory of a lifetime.

After all of this natural exploration, you will be ready for one of the most relaxing and pampered experiences offered along the Emerald Coast. Only 10-miles from the resort is the award-winning Serenity by the Sea Spa, a full-scale, 14,500 square-foot spa with 16 treatment rooms, a gorgeous vast nail salon, and a state-of-the-art fitness center.

The spa’s Serenity Lounge is a retreat unto itself with floating, zero-gravity chairs and the tranquil sounds of the gorgeous waterfall wall; nearby is the soothing whirlpool and relaxing steam room and sauna. A must experience: the new HydraFacial. You will never want another type of facial after you experience the addictive HydraFacial, and your skin will be glowing after this non-invasive, multi-step procedure.

Men love the large flat-screen television, healthy snacks, whirlpool, steam room and sauna in their lounge, as well. Staff here is second-to-none and they make this extraordinary spa even more unforgettable. Guests truly come first at Serenity by the Sea!

After melting your cares away, be sure to watch the blazing sunset, with its alternating hues of gold, orange and red from either your private WaterColor Inn accommodations or from your comfortable beach chair. You can even watch the sunset from your large walk-in shower, with inset windows that provide you with an expansive view of the gulf.

After a full day of activities, you will have worked up an appetite. Rest assured, there is a plethora of dining choices throughout Santa Rosa Beach, and fresh gulf seafood is a must while dining in northwestern Florida. With a host of passionate chefs, your taste buds will be satisfied in Santa Rosa Beach; in fact, the WaterColor Inn and Resort has four restaurants, including the multi-award winning Fish out of Water.

The WaterColor Inn’s Gathering Spot and Sushi Bar is where you will find Chef Slade Christmas, a culinary artist whose savory, innovative dishes are sure to please even the most discerning of palates. One of his claims to fame is his Lobster Grilled Cheese, a mouth-watering dish served with a cup of fresh tomato and red pepper soup; but there’s plenty of competition for Christmas’ ‘top dish’ creations, including his Sunomono Cucumber Salad and the WaterColor Roll. Upon request, Christmas will create a special five-course tasting plate dinner that you and your palate will never forget. Libation recommendations: Up in Smoke (a torched Sazerac Rye concoction) and the Strawberry Drop Martini made with homemade strawberry vodka.

The desire to please taste buds also runs deep in the veins of Chef Gio Filippone of Vue on 30a restaurant on Santa Rosa Beach. Chef Filippone began his culinary career as a little boy cooking with his entire family, and today, he is nationally known for his television debut on season five of the reality cooking show, “Hell’s Kitchen” with celebrity Chef, Gordon Ramsey. Vue on 30a is located directly on the Gulf of Mexico, and offers one of the Emerald Coast’s best views. Be sure to order the Pistachio Crusted Grouper and the Vue Fruits de Mer (a tasty seafood medley).

After a good night’s rest, head straight to WaterColor’s Fish out of Water restaurant for a scrumptious gourmet breakfast and, yes, sweeping views of the coast. While you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, the omelets are superb.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you, but you won’t want to leave the WaterColor Inn and Resort. You will think to yourself, “I wish this could last forever!”

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5 Years of Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week With Vecenie Distributing

Icon Written by admin on April 4, 2016 – 6:18 pm

April is an amazing time of year. Not only does it mark the accepted end of winter and start of spring, but for those of us lucky enough to live in and around Pittsburgh it means Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week is back once again. While some people might say the most wonderful time of the year involves decorated trees and an obese bearded man handing out gifts, I would argue that PCBW holds that crown.

From beer festivals to tap takeovers to your chance at learning a little more about the beer you love, Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week is by far the most wonderful time of the year, and this year it’s even more special than normal. 2016 marks the 5th anniversary of a group of people in the craft beer industry deciding over a few beers that Pittsburgh deserved its own week to celebrate all things craft beer. While the idea itself isn’t new, these craft beer pioneers gave life to the idea in Pittsburgh and since then, it’s only grown in size and appreciation.

This year Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week falls in the middle of April, running from April 15th through the 24th. Across the hundreds of events this year you’ll find something for everyone. From samplings of new breweries to meeting the brewer to trying some extra rare beers…there’s a lot going on!

Vecenie Distributing is a founding sponsor of Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week and them, along with founding board member Tony “Beer Man” Knipling, they have made PCBW a reality for all of us in and around Pittsburgh. In fact, without sponsors like Vecenie Distributing we probably wouldn’t have a 5th year of Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week to celebrate. You can learn more about Vecenie’s events and their involvement with PCBW by heading to or checking them out on twitter and Facebook, both @ BeerSince1933.

Vecenie’s is bringing the big guns this year with some of the most interesting events of the entire week with some of the biggest names in craft beer like Stone Brewing Co., Dogfish Head Brewing, Bells Brewing, Oskar Blues, Victory, and Tröegs Independent Brewing to name a few. Check out some of the best events Vecenie’s has to offer for Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week below, and to see all the events head over to

PCBW Kick-Off Party

Kick off Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week in style at The Library with Vecenie’s Distributing and Weyerbacher Brewing. Along with a variety of great craft beer on tab they’ll also have two different years of the elusive Sunday Morning Stout on draft. You won’t find this anywhere else, so don’t miss your chance to try a 2-year vertical of the barrel-aged stout. Best of all, there’ll be Weyerbacher glasses to give away for some lucky early birds while they last. Fun starts on April 15th at 7 pm.

Joint 20th Anniversary Celebration

Along with PCBW’s 5th anniversary this year, Victory Brewing and Dogfish Head Brewing are both celebrating their 20th year in the craft beer world. Vecenie’s will be helping them celebrate at Smokin’ Joe’s in the South Side the best way possible, with some amazing beers. Try some hard to find beers from Dogfish head including their huge beer “Higher Math.” Check this event out on the 21st starting at 8 pm.

Voodoo Tap Takeover

The always amazing Voodoo Brewing wil be taking over the taps at New Kensington’s House of 1,000 Beers on Friday the 15th starting at 7 pm. Come try some of their year-round favorites as well as a few hard to find rarities that’ll have to be seen to be believed.

Brewery Rep Olympics

Coming back again this year is the Brewery Rep Olympics on three different days at three different venues. Check out Night 1 on Sunday the 17th at The Summit, Night 2 on Monday the 18th at Hough’s, and Night 3 on Tuesday the 19th at Barrel Junction. Each night’s activities begins at 8 pm and features Dogfish Head, Oskar Blues, Victory Brewing, and Otter Creek.

Blue Dust Oysterfest

Another returning event for 2016 is Blue Dust’s Oysterfest held under the Homestead Grey’s Bridge. Join your fellow craft beer and oyster-loving comrades and try a variety of beers including Otter Creek Brewing and try a variety of oysters all while enjoying the nearly-guaranteed beautiful weather.

Beer and Pizza Pairing

Few things in this world go together better than beer and pizza, and to prove this point, Burgh Pizza and Wing Pub is featuring a Beer, Pizza, and Wing pairing on April 20th starting at 7 pm. Come hang out with Tony “The Beer Man” and try some hand-selected pairings featuring a variety of beers. They’re taking their beer, pizza, and wings so seriously that this is a ticketed event. Call 412-257-8767 to get in on the fun.

All About Beer Class

Speaking of ticketed events, The Crafty Jackelope is featuring an All About Beer Class with 5 beers, 5 “bits” (small plates), and lots of great beer stories from some craft beer industry folk. Class is in session on April 21st starting at 7 pm. Tickets for this event are available by calling 412-220-9785.

As for the rest of the events, there are far too many to even give you an idea of the size of PCBW 2016. With help from Vecenie’s Distributing and all the other PCBW sponsors, this is easily shaping up to be the biggest and best year yet. Get your excuses ready now to call off of work and have yourself a merry little PCBW.

The events listed above have all been made available by Vecenie Wholesale, a five-year founding sponsor of Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week.

Beer World – Spring 2016

Icon Written by admin on February 28, 2016 – 11:32 am

Spring Has Sprung in the Beer World

Well, that seer of seers and prognosticators of prognosticators Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow this year, which hopefully means we’ll have an early spring, and while the jury’s still out on whether or not the groundhog is correct, spring has definitely sprung in the beer world, no matter what the thermometer says.

From Helles Bocks to light and fruity IPAs, spring has definitely spring in the beer world and we have the proof. Check out our favorite springtime beers below as hand-picked by Beerman Tony from Vecenie’s and celebrate our favorite marmot’s prediction.

Anderson Valley Brewing Co.

Spring Hornin’ IPA – As the flowers start to come out, a great floral IPA is just about perfect, and Anderson Valley’s Spring Hornin’ IPA is just that. Light in color and big on taste, you should notice floral aromas along with white pepper, and Bartlett pears followed up with a taste that has a strong, clean malt body and herbal hop flavors. The finish is nice and dry, with just enough bitterness to be refreshing.

Spring Hornin’ comes in at 6.8% ABV and is brewed using Columbus, Golding, Nugget, and Northern Brewer hops. Spring Hornin’ is a great beer for the season, and should be at the top of your list. Spring Hornin’ pairs well with Fish and chips, roasted lamb, peppery Korean beef, and even oatmeal raisin cookies.

Briny Melon Gose – A beer style that’s gaining notoriety once again is the Gose (pronounced go-sah). These beers are slightly salty with a tart character that’s akin to a sour beer, but more tart than sour. The folks over at Anderson Valley Brewing Company have brewed a few varieties of this classic beer style, including this brand-new version that’s bound to please.

The classic gose is paired with subtle watermelon to give this beer a perfect harmony between acidity and fruity sweetness. The finish is nice and dry, giving you a beer that’s both tart and sweet without any lingering sweetness on the finish. As with others in the style, this new gose comes in at 4.2% ABV and is available in bottles, cans, and on draft.

Bell’s Brewery

Smitten Golden Rye – Rye is a very unique ingredient for beer. It imparts a spiciness and body that’s unique to the grain, and when used correctly it can make a truly amazing beer. Bell’s Brewery made their Smitten Ale featuring rye to bring out these exact characteristics. On the nose you’ll notice peppery rye spiciness along with a noticeable bready aroma. The taste has rye up front with a nice citrusy hop character following it up. All of this sits nicely on a malt backbone that’s all about bready malt. The rye imparts a creamy mouthfeel that finishes the beer up perfectly.

Bell’s Smitten Golden Rye Ale comes in at 6% ABV and is available only during the spring and early summer. Smitten is a great example of an interesting take on the traditional American Pale Ale with a nice rye malt twist. Smitten Golden Rye Ale pairs very well with strong cheeses, salty snacks, and savory meats.

Dogfish Head Brewing Co.

Romantic Chemistry – It’s a pretty big understatement to say that the bread and butter of Dogfish Head Brewing Company’s beer lineup is the IPA, but it’s the truth. This wildly popular style is once again being refreshed and made even better, this time by brewing the beer with mango, apricot, and ginger. Together these flavors and aromas join forces to make a beer that’s one serious IPA! Coming in at 8% ABV, this beer will be available in 12-oz bottles and on draft now. If you were a fan of Aprihop, then this beer is right up your alley.

Beer to Drink Music To – The folks at Dogfish Head love their music almost as much as they love their beer. They’ve collaborated on quite a few music-inspired beers in the past, and keeping with this trend is the oddly named Beer to Drink Music To.

This new seasonal beer is a Belgian-style Tripel that’s brewed with sweet orange peel, green cardamom, peppercorns, and vanilla. Look for this 9% ABV beer on draft and in 12-oz bottles very soon.

Otter Creek Brewing Co.

Citra Mantra – A newer style that’s been gaining popularity is the India Pale Lager, or IPL. Similar to the IPA, just made as a lager instead of an ale. You still get the fresh bitterness of an IPA, but with the crispness and light body of a lager.

Otter Creek Brewing’s Citra Mantra is their take on the IPL style, featuring Citra hops. This gives the beer a fresh citrus flavor along with a crisp bitterness. Along with the tropical fruit character, the choice of German malts gives the beer a unique body that makes it easy to drink. The 5.75% ABV helps you to have more than one in a sitting, too. Make sure you get this one quickly though, because just like spring, this beer won’t be around long. Citra Mantra pairs well with spicy dishes like Mexican and Thai, as well as savory Italian dishes like chicken parmesan.

Steampipe (new) – A new beer for 2016, Steampipe from Otter Creek Brewing takes the classic California Common beer style and brings it into a year-round rotation at Otter Creek. Inc ase you’re not familiar, the California Common beer style is a style of beer that’s also known of as a “Steam Beer,” and as the name suggests, originated in California.

This 6% ABV beer has a juicy kick of west-coast hops paired with the well-balanced beer style make for an easy-drinking beer that has enough bitterness for fans of the IPA to love as well as those who enjoy less bitter beers.

Stone Brewing Co.

Pataskala Red X IPA – Pat-as-kal-ah…Pa-tas-ka-la…Patas-kala…However it’s pronounced the beer under the label is where it’s at, anyway. This unique red IPA was first brewed in September of 2015 to support music and arts education programs in none other than Pataskala, Ohio where Stone’s co-founder Greg Koch grew up. It was such a hit that Stone decided to release it to the rest of us, too.

The red part of this beer’s name comes from the dark crimson color the beer pours, which comes from the malt variety used in brewing. This, paired with a massive dry-hopping of Mosaic, Cascade, and Amarillo hops give this beer a citrus-forward flavor that’s backed up with biscuit and toffee notes. Coming in at 7.3% ABV and 75 IBUs, this is one beer that you don’t want to miss, even if you can’t pronounce it. Stone Brewing’s Pataskala Red will be available in 12oz bottles and on draft.

Americano Stout (new) – As Stone Brewing often does, the trend of springtime beers has been bucked with the release of a big and dark stout. This 8.7% ABV beer is a true American stout that has rich espresso added to give the beer a heavy dose of bitterness along with the creamy near-sweetness of espresso.

Every 250-barrel batch of this beer brewed utilizes more than 250 pounds of espresso-roast beans. This, paired with Columbus, Chinook, Amarillo, and Cascade hops give the beer a resiny citrus character that pairs very well with the coffee. In short, this is one dark beer you won’t mind drinking even when the weather starts to clear.

Straub Brewing Co.

Maibock – Straub Brewing of St. Mary’s, PA brews some pretty amazing beers, which shouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with the brewery. One of their newer offerings is a 6.9% ABV all-malt Maibock.

Straub’s Maibock is literally a bock beer released in May, and this version is brewed using a combination of German and American ingredients. The nose is full of caramel and malty aromas with a little hop character to balance things out. Taste follows the taste, but adds a little more hop to back up the big malt taste. Maibocks pair very well with a variety of foods including cheeses like Gruyere, meats like ham, seafood, and even deserts like carrot cake.

Legacy Sampler – Straub Brewery has been in the brewing business since 1872 and today they’re not only producing quality beers that have been around for much of their history, but new and innovative beers as well. Take for example their Legacy Sampler, a mix pack of beers that show the history of Straub Brewery better than any history book ever could. The sampler includes their 1872 Lager, a 5.4% ABV pre-prohibition style lager, longtime favorite Helles Lager, a 5.5% ABV lager, Dopplebock, a 7% ABV Winter Bock, and Their 5.6% ABV IPL, Straub’s take on an India Pale Ale, but in the lager style.

Tröegs Independent Brewing

Cultivator – With the ground thawing, it’s time to start cultivating the ground and get those crops planted. Not into the whole farming business? That’s fine, you can still join in with Tröeg’s Cultivator Helles Bock.

This 6.9% ABV lager is a fresh and crisp beer with just enough hop bitterness to be refreshing. Brewed with floor malted Bohemian Pilsner malt and Hersbrucker and Magnum hops, Cultivator is possibly the perfect spring beer. The malt body gives the beer a little more meat than a typical lager while still staying light enough to be delicious.

Cultivator pairs very well with a variety of cheeses including Asiago, Colby, Gruyère and Swiss. The malty sweetness and clean, dry finish of the beer also complements spicy dishes like Thai or Korean BBQ, shellfish, and a variety of fried foods.

Victory Brewing Co.

Anniversary 20 IPA – Once again the folks at Victory Brewing have created a beer to celebrate their anniversary. Sticking with the idea that a sessionable beer is best for a celebration, their 20th Anniversary beer is a 5.5% ABV IPA.

This refreshing IPA might clock in at the top of what we’d call sessionable, but it drinks like a beer you could enjoy all night long, if you catch our drift. This beer utilizes experimental Idaho 7 hops to give the beer a surprisingly crisp citrus and pine character while keeping nice and balanced with the choice of Pilsner and CaraPils malt. This beer is out now and should be available through March on draft and in bottles, so get it while you can.

Each of these beers are proudly distributed in and around the Pittsburgh area by Vecenie Distributing.

BZ Craft Beers

Icon Written by admin on February 28, 2016 – 11:26 am

BZ Craft Bar & Twisted Eatery……

The newest buzz at BZ is their state-of-the-art Digital Pour board. Digital Pour is a highly techno electronic board which displays all of the beers BZ has on tap, in “real time” with an electronic, digital display, showing how much beer is left in every keg along with Brewery’s logo and pricing. You’ll know instantly if your favorite beer is ready to kick or if it’s full or half full, etc.! BZ is the first bar in Pittsburgh to have one of these amazing boards. So if you haven’t stopped in yet, BZ just gave you another reason to do so. Plus, their Director of Operations, Clint Bylo, is a Cicerone Certified Beer Server. For those of you that have never heard of that term, a Beer Cicerone is similar to a wine Sommelier, only with beer. Stop into BZ and ask Clint to recommend a great tasting beer that would be perfect – just for you.

“We gotta lota style too – beer style. You’re sure to find a beer you’ve always wanted to try – with over 40 different beer styles, from 5 countries, representing 33 brewers, totaling 100+ beers (30 0n draft) we’ve got your beer! Oh, we’ve got some fine Liquor and tasty wines too, but make no mistake – we’re a craft beer bar first and foremost!” says Eric Rimpela, VP of Operations.

“We don’t have an absurd list of 750 different beers, with 600 of them sitting on a shelf getting old and skunky, or stock 18 mediocre IPA’s and only 3 other beer styles, or carry lots of average, run-of-the-mill “lawnmower” beers. We’re different – all the beers we stock are truly special and highly regarded within their style. We also stock a nice selection of locally brewed beers that are the pride of Pittsburgh. Customers can be assured the beer they purchase will be the finest example of beer within its style. We sell the very best – highest rated beer ranked by the independent beer rating website “Beer Advocate” said Clint.

Eric added “To ensure customers are served the best tasting beer possible (just like the brewers intended) we’ve done the following: (1) we’ve built our bar with the shorted beer lines possible (beer won’t go through a 100ft of bacteria-infested plastic lines before it goes into your glass). (2) We make it a point to clean the draft beer lines every 2 weeks or less! Most restaurants might clean their beer lines once a month! (3) We’ve installed “beer clean” plumbing fixtures to ensure every glass we use is “beer clean” so you’ll be able to appreciate all the nuances of a great beer (long legs, smell, head retention, taste and color).

BZs happy hour is Monday through Friday 4:30pm-7pm; they offer $2.00 off ALL craft beer, $5.00 signature drinks & martinis and ½ off on ALL wines and ALL appetizers, making BZ the best “happy hour” on the North Shore. In addition to their happy hour they offer great daily specials: Mondays 5pm – close – $.50 beef sliders and $1.00 duck sliders. Tuesday’s its $1.00 ribs and Wednesdays 1/2 price Phuket 2-way Wings. (fun fact: Phuket is a island province of Thailand). Plus, join Nightwire every Sunday night from 6pm-9pm for the best “happy hour” around – $2.00 off all craft beer and ½ price on ALL appetizers. What a great way to end your weekend!

BZs entire menu consists of daily “made from scratch” recipes with only the finest and freshest ingredients. If you haven’t tried BZ Craft Bar and Twisted Eatery, what are you waiting for? Their menu definitely has something for everyone: from starters to homemade soups, small plates, salads, huge sandwiches, burgers, pizzas, mac and cheese (the best in the burg) and so much more. Check out their full menu at

BZ Craft Bar & Twisted Eatery – Open 7 days a week 11AM

140 Federal Street (Across from PNC Park)

Pittsburgh, PA 15212


New Orleans — Beyond Mardi Gras

Icon Written by admin on January 28, 2016 – 2:21 pm

New Orleans Beyond Mardi Gras
By: Suzanne Ferrara

No matter who you are, New Orleans will capture your soul in an instant. It is truly a place like no other.

It has its own language, oozes culture, charm, and is deep in 300 years of fascinating history. The Crescent City, which borders the mighty Mississippi and Lake Pontchartrain, brims with some of the most genuinely friendly people you will ever encounter. It’s no wonder that once you visit her, she’ll hypnotize you and you’ll never want to leave her warmth and grandeur. Know this: just one visit won’t be enough to uncover the many awe-inspiring treasures Crescent City has to offer.

Mardi Gras parades, hot jazz, King Cake, gumbo, and the iconic French Quarter…the list of New Orleans’ hallmarks is endless.

One of the best ways to experience the French Quarter and other iconic areas of New Orleans is by carriage. Some of these mule-lead carriages have been in operation for nearly a century, and the ‘buggy ride,’ as many locals call it, is not just popular with tourists.

Be sure to board one of New Orleans’ Royal Carriages which offers six distinctive unforgettable journeys. In addition to the French Quarter’s Vieux Carre’ tour, these rides will bring you uptown to the Garden District (where you’ll see the homes of movie stars) or perhaps the legendary oak-lined St. Charles Avenue with its breath-taking mansions.

Plus, your city-licensed guide will hop off and give you a tour of the legendary St. Louis #1 Cemetery, the oldest above-ground cemetery in North America. You’ll certainly get an earful of fascinating New Orleans history, and you’ll see the storied streets of this great city at a leisurely pace, as if you were traveling in the 18th and 19th centuries. (Tip: Take a morning private ride and request John Cosentino for any tour).

Another way to truly experience this rich city is by taking a cruise along the mighty Mississippi River aboard the historic Steamboat Natchez. The Natchez is one of the last, authentic, steam-powered paddle wheelers on the river, and you will get spectacular views you cannot see anywhere else. You can also tempt your taste buds with a sumptuous New Orleans-style lunch or dinner, all as you listen to live Dixieland jazz. Be sure to head to Natchez’s third level bar where you can wet your whistle with the steamer’s famous savory Bloody Mary.

No visit to New Orleans is complete without dining at one of the many French-creole restaurants where the cuisine is derived from centuries of cultural culinary recipes.
Head to the legendary Antoine’s Restaurant which is celebrating 175 years of service! Antoine’s has been serving since 1840, and in that time celebrities, royalty, U.S. Presidents and even Pope John Paul II have enjoyed the superb cuisine. And how’s this for history? Many of the waiters are ancestors of those who served here over a hundred years ago. (Be sure to request Charles, a fourth-generation waiter deeply rooted in the tradition of Antoine’s). Ask for a private tour of the restaurant which includes a ‘secret’ room, and a peek at the legendary 165-foot long wine cellar that holds 25,000 bottles of wine.

For appetizers be sure to try the delicious Pommes de Terre Soufflés (Antoine’s classic fried puff potatoes) or the Huitres en Coquille a la Rockefeller (Louisiana Gulf Oysters baked on a half shell with the original Rockefeller sauce created by Antoine’s in 1889); then follow it with Pompano Pontchartrain (Grilled filet of pompano with lump crabmeat sautéed in butter) and finish things with Antoine’s famous Baked Alaska.

Breakfast, lunch or dinner at Brennan’s Restaurant on Royal Street is a must! This eatery has been a tradition since 1946. Sumptuous dishes such as Eggs Hussarde (a Brennan’s original), Seafood File Gumbo, Brennan’s Oyster Soup and New Orleans’ classic Grouper Almondine are just a few items that will tempt your taste buds. Do not leave without finishing your meal with the famous Banana’s Foster!

Another dessert option is Café Du Monde which at its French Market location, has been a New Orleans tradition since 1862. Enjoy mouthwatering beignets (a French style square donut covered in powdered sugar) and either a cup of dark roast coffee and chicory or a cup of Café Au’Lait (coffee mixed with half and half and hot milk).

New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz, and you will be whisked away by the mesmerizing sounds of Dixieland. Some of the top choices to hear this authentic styled repartee are Fretzels European Jazz Club, New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, and the Maison Bourbon.

New Orleans is full of a variety of museums extending from the French Quarter to downtown and midtown. The Presbytere, located next to the historic St. Louis Cathedral, has an elaborate collection of Mardi Gras artifacts and memorabilia, and offers an interactive exhibit will give you a realistic Mardi Gras experience.

As everyone knows, the celebration never ends in this city! So head to the legendary Pat O’Brien’s where you can drink the legendary “Hurricane” or visit the new 21st Amendment Bar at La Louisiane, which celebrates just that, the repeal of Prohibition.

After all the sightseeing, you’ll be ready to rest up for the next day. If you are looking for an historic French Quarter oasis, the Audubon Cottages will transport you to another place and time. This secluded hideaway surrounded by an 18th century brick enclosure and lush tropical gardens is a stone’s throw away from all the action. It’s hard to believe these “Five Star Alliance” accommodations are just one block away from Bourbon Street.

There are seven cottages from which to choose, most with private courtyards, and all surround by what is believed to be the French Quarter’s oldest in-ground swimming pool (heated), set in original brick. Audubon Cottages are named after famed painter and naturalist John James Audubon; he lived in cottage number one back in 1821, and finished part of his legendary “Birds of America Series” in cottage number seven. Modern-day celebrities have discovered this unique getaway, too: Elizabeth Taylor stayed in cottage number three 27 times!

It’s hard to choose which cottage to reserve. All buildings have exposed historic brick, original wooden beams, and beautiful wooden floors; and most cottages include a living and dining room, an original fireplace, one or two bedrooms and a private courtyard. Number four is a two-story cottage with a balcony and spacious lush courtyard.

Butlers assigned to each cottage (Ada is a gem and will make sure you have absolutely anything you desire), and complimentary cheeses, fruit, sweets and champagne are among the treats waiting for you. If that’s not enough, Alfred Edwards, a true New Orleanian, aims to please and will whip up anything you desire for your complimentary breakfast.

Another French Quarter lodging suggestion would be to stay at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel. It’s been nearly two centuries, but amazingly, in this hotel stands the iconic Orleans Ballroom. It is there the aristocratic elite took part in decadent galas, balls and celebrations that were said to be the envy of Europe.

This was also the site of the grandiose and controversial quadroon balls, during which married European noblemen and Creole aristocrats were paired with a mistress, a young creole with fair skin, adding to the mystique: the Bourbon Orleans is known as the most haunted hotel in New Orleans.

Bourbon Orleans’ guests can take part in a seasonal five-course candlelight period dinner with costumed reenactors portraying the most notable military leaders involved in the Battle of New Orleans. Enjoy similar historic meals which the Marquis de Lafayette and other European nobility ate in these very walls.

To say that the Bourbon Orleans has a distinctive location is an understatement. Stand on the Bourbon Orleans’ promenade balcony and turn to your left? You get a dramatic back view of the St. Louis Cathedral and the breath-taking basilica garden. Turn to your right? There’s iconic, historic and exciting Bourbon Street.

For luxury accommodations right outside the French Quarter, try the Windsor Court Hotel. And you don’t have to be British Royalty or travel to Buckingham Palace to have this truly regal experience in New Orleans. Visitors might feel as if they’re walking into England’s Windsor Castle when they enter the Windsor Court Hotel. While the luxury hotel is dripping in British decor, it also has a warm and inviting feel.

It’s no wonder visiting U.S. presidents, British royalty, movie actors and rock stars have called this hotel ‘home’. The AAA Four-Diamond, Forbes Four-Star designation has earned the hotel a plethora of prestigious awards and recognitions, including “Best Hotel in the World” from Travel and Leisure Magazine. The accommodations are impressive and meticulously decorated, and boast breath-taking panoramic views of the mighty Mississippi River or the Crescent City.

Life’s most celebrated events take place at the hotel’s Grill Room, New Orleans’ only four- star/four diamond restaurant. Regional dishes with fresh local ingredients (done with a bit of a twist) reign, as Chef de Cuisine Daniel Causgrove tempt your taste buds with his exquisite culinary creations.

Le Salon’s afternoon tea, just off the lobby, is a must experience while in New Orleans. The finest brews are steeped, poured and accompanied by mouth-watering sandwiches, scones and an assortment of fine chocolates, and soothing melodies from a harpist or string-trio complete the experience.

The Windsor Court’s Polo Club Lounge has a feel reminiscent of a private club in England. Roger, a legend here, uses his mixology skills to create hand-crafted cocktails sure to wet your whistle. (Tip: Be sure to try his creation, ‘Nicole’).

And don’t forget the kids! New Orleans has a plethora of enjoyable experiences for the little ones and the kids at heart; a trip to the award-winning Audubon Zoo, Aquarium of the Americas, and the Insectarium will surely entertain the whole family. Whether you’re on a romantic getaway, a guys’ or girls’ trip, or a family vacation, the alluring and fascinating Crescent City will capture your heart and soul.

For more information go to:,, and the

Travel – Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

Icon Written by admin on December 30, 2015 – 2:44 pm

By: Suzanne Ferrara

It’s the sort of place that many are not aware exists; Chicagoans call it God’s Country. Once you feast your eyes on the breathtakingly gorgeous terrain and serene natural beauty you completely understand and will make certain of this. The pristine lake formed by glaciers is the draw for visitors who instantly find their cares and worries melt away once they arrive in this wonderland for all seasons.

Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin is a snapshot of a Normal Rockwell scene. You will feel so at home as the warm people envelop you and make feel like you’ve lived there your entire life. The area offers so much to see and do, and once you visit, like the tens of thousands before; you will want to come back time and time again. It truly is like a home away from home.

The crown jewel of Elkhart is the Osthoff Resort, a AAA Four Diamond, all-suite hotel perched on the bank of Elkhart Lake. The resort, originally built in 1885 has incredible views, as it is surrounded by a lake beach, cedar trees, water features plus a myriad of walking trails. Just a few steps from the resort there is a quaint village market square with unique, locally-owned shops and restaurants housed in buildings dripping with history, some of which have grand, turn-of- the-century wooden bars.

Winding around the resort, through the village and over the hills, are signs marking the historic open road-racing circuits of Elkhart Lake which date back to 1950; and yes, despite the fact that public road racing was banned by the state legislature in 1952, tradition lives on in these parts. Racing continues in Elkhart at Road America, a premier circuit road race course that opened in 1955 and has scores of races from motorcycles, Indy cars, to classic cars. The four-mile rolling track is internationally known, and serves as a favorite among racing professionals and celebrity drives. Got a need for speed yourself? Try out Road America’s racing school.

There is something to be said about taking part in activities while you’re surrounded by all of this natural beauty. Elkhart Lake offers a plethora of things to do on and around the lake. First and foremost, the Osthoff Resort under the management of Lola Roech, here you will find everything you could possibly imagine. Like the resort, Lola, a native, exudes hospitality along with “all” of her employees, which adds to the warmth of the Elkhart Lake experience. You’ll know without a doubt, you are in very capable hands and there’s something very special here.

This 40-acre luxury resort boasts one of the Midwest’s premier spas, Aspira, which is nestled on the shores of the legendary Elkhart Lake. This spa has grand suites with fireplaces, private whirlpools and showers, a breath-taking meditation sanctuary and a yoga studio. Aspira’s architectural and interior design follows the premise of the Feng shui philosophy of balance, peace and harmony, and the spa’s unique holistic approach pays homage to Elkhart Lake’s healing and restorative powers (a belief which dates back to the indigenous peoples.) The glacially-formed, spring-fed lake has attracted many seeking physical healing from various ailments for more than a century. Many still come here to rejuvenate their minds and renew their spirits with the clear turquoise waters of the lake, here they find solace at Aspira.

Their signature massage, Sacred Waters, is derived from the waters of Elkhart Lake which the Native Americans considered sacred and powerful. This warm water treatment is sure to melt away your worries and relax the entire body. Another example of the spa’s use of the area’s natural wonders is the Cedars Massage, a therapy involving fresh cedar, picked daily from the lake shore, which is used over the body and emits a fresh, intoxicating scent. Three of the Osthoff’s massage therapists studied under world renowned physical therapist John Barnes and are trained in the Myofacial Release Approach.

The Elderberry facial is also a must. Dried elderberries and chamomile flowers from the resort grounds are ground right in front of you, thus guaranteeing its freshness. The concoction releases an extraordinary scent and creates an anti-oxidant exfoliation cream of the purest form. There are more than fifty treatments from which to choose at the Aspira Spa, and that does not include hair and makeup services. You will not leave this spa feeling the same way you did when you entered, and you certainly will lose track of time and your sense of place.

Would you like to eat the same savory meals that King Louis XIV and centuries later Napoleon Bonaparte ate at their tables? Well not only can you enjoy the historically traditional cuisine that was served in wealthy French homes for hundreds of years, but you can make it yourself!
The Osthoff has its own cooking school, “L’ecole de la Maison, where resort Chef Scott Baker teaches students how to make traditional tried-and-true French recipes that have been passed on for centuries. And you don’t have to be a serious cook to attend the classes; Baker will make a complete novice feel comfortable making dishes like Mushroom Veloute with Duxelles Crostini. Students can also create the recipes of legendary French Chef Auguste Escoffier, a culinary legend who updated many French cooking methods in the late 1800s.

The cooking school is patterned after a very large traditional French kitchen and has every tool you will ever need to make that perfect dish. Chef Baker even has assistants who organize all the tools and ingredients you will need and best of all they clean up the mess. Baker’s philosophy is to let students do as much as they can on their own, and guests can choose the specific cooking class they wish to attend.

To say these hands-on cooking classes are a fun experience is an understatement; in the end everyone is proud and somewhat surprised by the delectable French dishes they created at the Osthoff. Enjoying the five-course meal or dish you prepared with fellow students and friends at L’ecole de la Maison is the perfect way to end this memorable cooking experience.

If you love outdoor adventure of every kind, Elkhart Lake has some amazing possibilities. The Osthoff offers dozens of activities such as kayaks, pontoon boat tours and biking; while on the water, the natural features of the lake alone are breath-taking and large freshwater fish abound. The resort also has indoor and outdoor pools, a fitness center, arcade, gift shop and two restaurants. Lola’s on the Lake, the resort’s signature restaurant, serves a variety of dishes sure to impress even the most discerning palate. The resort’s Otto’s Restaurant is casual fare and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. A must-try is: Otto’s mouth-watering Baked Berry Pancake, a delicacy unique to the area.

The Elk Room, a resort favorite has an Old Faithful Inn feel with wooden beams, natural stone and a large fireplace in addition to mesmerizing views of the lake thanks to the floor- to-ceiling windows. There are also several seating areas and a bar which serves hand-crafted cocktails, craft beers and an extensive wine list of fine wines.

The Osthoff Resort is both very romantic and family friendly, and appeals to everyone. The accommodations are spacious and the suites have balconies overlooking the natural splendor of Elkhart Lake. Rooms are meticulously kept with fireplaces and full kitchens which will make you feel right at home. Plus for a unique shopping experience head to the Village Square, which is walking distance from the Osthoff. All of the shops and boutiques here are locally owned and carry special items, many of which you won’t find anywhere else. There are a wide variety of retail businesses including Nordic Accents, Two Fish Gallery and Sculpture Garden to Lieutenant Dave’s Area 51 Vintage Shop. Be sure to stop at the Off the Rail Café, a local favorite which is housed in Elkhart Lake’s original railroad depot.
You don’t have to go to Napa Valley to have an extensive wine-tasting experience and education. The Vintage Elkhart Lake Wine Shop and Tasting Bar is sure to please with over 150 wines hand-selected by owner Jaclyn Stuart, an award-winning certified sommelier; Stuart pairs Wisconsin cheeses and assorted aged Balsamic vinegars, which are sold in her shop, at each wine tasting.

Enjoy more spirits at The Back Porch Bistro at the Victorian Village Resort with picture-perfect views of Elkhart Lake. This place is a local favorite for a nightcap and delectable desserts. You can get great hand-crafted cocktails, including specialty winter libations, like the Holiday Mule, which is actually a refreshing concoction any time of year.

After eating dessert “before” dinner, travel just a few blocks to the Paddock Club restaurant. The Paddock Club is in a beautifully restored historic building where you can watch the bustling activity in the open-style kitchen from a turn-of-the-century bar. Be sure to try one of their homemade pasta dishes for your entrée and then the Panna Cotta, a light, vanilla bean custard for dessert.

The resort itself is practically one-stop shopping for recreation and relaxation. Despite the seemingly endless list of amenities to partake in at the Osthoff, the only thing you’ll eventually desire is… for your visit to never end. You will certainly leave with an extended list of fun and relaxing memories and the
yearning to return.

Elkhart Lake is not only loved; it’s beloved by locals and generations of visitors. Once people discover it, they come back time and time again, many for the rest of their lives. With its Norman Rockwell charm, breath-taking natural wonders, deep history and legendary anecdotes, Elkhart Lake is a destination that offers an experience like no other.

For more information go to: and

Breckenridge Brewery – 2015

Icon Written by admin on November 30, 2015 – 10:47 pm

Breckenridge Brewery

It seems like there’s a new brewery opening every few weeks with a variety of new and weird brews to offer the world. Sure, these new guys are great, but at the core of the craft beer world are breweries that have been around since the term “craft beer” wasn’t in our collective lexicon just yet. Breweries like Colorado’s Breckenridge Brewery, which opened its doors in February of 1990 and set the foundation for the new breweries we all love today. It’s thanks to breweries like Breckenridge that we have the term craft beer today.

While the original brewpub, which is still open today, was only capable of brewing around 3,000 barrels of beer each year, their current location puts out a massive 66,000 barrels of beer each year. It’s no wonder Breckenridge is in the top 50 US breweries when it comes to sales.
With a history longer than most, and some of the best beer around, it’s no wonder that Breckenridge Brewery is still going strong.

The Brewery
Located in the town of Breckenridge, Colorado the first iteration of Breckenridge Brewery opened its doors to the public in February of 1990, making it only the third brewpub in the state. Richard Squire, the founder of Breckenridge Brewery opened the brewpub on the historic main street of Breckenridge hoping to bring great beer to the masses. Paired with amazing homemade food the beer basically sold itself, pushing Squire to open a second location only two years later in Denver.

As luck would have it, directly across the street from Breckenridge’s second location would turn out to be the new home to none other than the Colorado Rockies baseball team in 1995. This influx thirsty patrons meant Squire’s team couldn’t make beer at the rate it was being consumed. Early last year, Breckenridge Brewery announced the plans for its new 85,000 sq. ft., $35 Million brewery and Farmhouse restaurant, located on a 12-acre country spread along the South Platte River in Littleton, CO.

Breckenridge Brewery opened the doors to the new brewery with an initial capacity of 150,000 bbl/year, and that will be expandable to about 300,000 bbl /year before needing to build any additional structures. The brewery, ranked the 40th largest U.S. Craft Brewery in 2013, has posted higher than 20% growth for the past four years. The new production facility will allow Breckenridge Brewery to continue this growth in a sustainable manner. Currently, the Denver brewery is at maximum capacity, operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, just to meet demand.

Today Breckenridge operates five separate brewpubs and ale houses in Colorado, and distribute their beer to 32 states. Here in Pittsburgh we’re lucky enough to get Breckenridge beer just as fresh as they do in Colorado.

The Never Summer Program
When you think of Colorado the image that most likely comes to your head is one of snowy mountains and skiers and snowboarders flying down said mountains. Breckenridge Brewery is more than aware of this idea and with the help of the aptly named Never Summer Industries, they are once again working together to welcome the winter sports season.

While most of us think baseball when we hear about opening day, the folks at Never Summer Industries think snow. The partnership between Breckenridge and Never Summer Industries celebrated the opening day of winter sports in Colorado starting on November 7th this year, with the celebration going well into December.
For Never Summer’s part they create a custom snowboard featuring the Breckenridge logo and for Breckenridge Brewery’s part they host parties throughout Colorado featuring their great beer. As winter comes it may truly feel that it will never be summer again, but with beer like Breckenridge offers, that might just be ok.

The Beers
When it comes down to it, beer is really what it’s all about, right? And when it comes to Breckenridge Brewery the beer is definitely the star attraction. From year round favorites to seasonal offerings to a mixed 12-pack for those of us that are indecisive; there really is something for everyone at Breckenridge Brewery.

All Year
At the core of any brewery are their year-round offerings. While seasonal wonders are great, without a solid core of great beer the seasonal beers would never see the light of day.

Breck IPA – A great IPA is at the core of any solid beer lineup, and after a scrutiny of ingredients and experimentation with process, Breckenridge Brewery made what they consider a true leader in the IPA world. Breck IPA features a prominent fruity and floral aroma that gives way to a well-balanced taste and body thanks to the choice in malts used in the beer. Unlike many other IPAs, the true secret ingredient in Breck IPA is a rare malt variety that lends the perfect balance to this 6.3% ABV beer.

Avalanche Ale – First brewed in 1988 by founder Richard Squire himself, Avalanche Ale is an amber ale that’s considered the cornerstone of Breckenridge Brewery’s offerings. Brewed using both caramel and pale malts, this beer is balanced out with just enough hops to give the beer the full package. Avalanche Ale comes in at a sessionable 4.4% ABV that finishes smooth and is surprisingly easy to drink.

Vanilla Porter – Dark and malty, this beer has a vanilla character that pairs perfectly with the chocolate and roasted nut flavor that’s balanced perfectly in this beauty of a beer. The chocolate and roasted nut come to this beer via the malts used in this beer, with the vanilla coming all the way from Papua New Guinea and Madagascar. Breckenridge’s Vanilla Porter comes in at 4.7% ABV, making it a great beer year round.

Oatmeal Stout – Bold, smooth, and full of dark-roasted coffee aromas and flavor, Oatmeal Stout by Breckenridge Brewery is, as they say dark in character, not in spirit. Breckenridge uses a spirituous dose of flaked oatmeal to give this beer a creamy body and a semi-dry finish. All total, this 4.9% ABV beer is dark without being overly heavy.

471 IPA – Brewed in small batches to focus on the big flavor, 471 Small Batch IPA from Breckenridge Brewery is an aggressively strong IPA that uses five different malts and four different hop varieties for a depth of flavor and aroma that is far more than the sum of its parts. 471 IPA comes in at a hefty 9.2% ABV that starts with a moderate sweetness up from with a dry bitterness on the finish. If you’re looking for the biggest kid on the block, this is definitely what you’re wanting.

Variety Pack – Is deciding on one single beer too difficult for you? If you’re of the indecisive persuasion, the Rocky Mountain Sampler from Breckenridge Brewery is right for you. The 12-pack sampler features three each of four different beers including the Avalanche Ale, Vanilla Porter, as well as a seasonal beer and one of the Mountain Series of brews, a special lineup of beers from Breckenridge Brewery.

The great things about the seasons are that they’re always changing. Along with the change in weather comes a change in those special beers we get to enjoy each year. As winter closes in we look to the holiday and winter beers to keep us warm on the long, cold winter nights as we all wait for spring to thaw us out.

Christmas Ale – Each year Breckenridge Brewery releases their Christmas Ale to welcome the season in style. This 7.4% ABV beer is full-bodied with a noticeable caramel character that’s backed up with notes of chocolate and just enough bitterness to be present without impacting the amazing holiday flavor. Brewed in the style of a winter warmer, this American Strong Ale is dark and delicious, something you’ll love to drink by the fire on a chilly night.
Other seasonal beers from Breckenridge include their Ophelia Hoppy Wheat, Summerbright Ale, and Autumn Ale, each available in their respective seasons.

Breckenridge Brewery is proudly distributed in and around the Pittsburgh area by Frank Fuhrer Wholesale.

Travel – Gulf Coast Paradise

Icon Written by admin on November 30, 2015 – 10:42 pm

Gulf Coast Paradise
By: Suzanne Ferrara

It’s a hypnotic combination: soft white sand underneath your feet, unspoiled shorelines and clear turquoise waters. If that’s not enough to sweep you off your feet, add breath-taking sunsets, windswept dunes and the sounds of the rolling surf along with the gentle breeze of the clean salty air.

This is paradise on the Alabama Gulf Coast: Gulf Shores and Orange Beach straddles 35 miles of the coastline and offers something for everyone. It is an ecologist’s dream, and at the same time, it’s the place to get top-notch pampering plus endless adventure. Make no mistake: Gulf Shores and Orange Beach form a destination that will instantly melt your cares away.

There is no shortage of places to plant your beach chair and umbrella atop the endless white sand (which, by the way, gets its color from quartz grains). The sand is so soft that it will squeak underneath your feet while, at the same time, you can see it beneath the clear rolling surf only a few feet away.

You can choose to take in the fresh gulf air, peer at the dolphins swimming in the distance, and watch the osprey and gulls fly overhead, and do all of the above from either a private resort beach or from several public beaches.

Before delving into the endless adventures, cuisine and pampering, you will need to choose a place to stay. Lodging choices include resorts, bed and breakfasts, hotels, cottages, and beach houses.

Many choose a resort because they won’t have to leave the property to get everything they need to have a perfect beach vacation. Resorts, also offer beach chairs, umbrella and other outdoor services.

Touted as the most luxurious resort and the jewel on the Alabama coast is Turquoise Place on Orange Beach. This Spectrum Resort property has three to five bedroom condos all with phenomenal features and breath-taking views from every vantage point. The private balconies alone are reason to stay here. Each has a hot tub jacuzzi and outdoor kitchen with a natural gas grill with unparalleled views.

And there’s more! These luxury residences are spacious with the three-bedroom condos measuring 2,300 square feet with 10-foot ceilings and gas fireplaces. Each has floor-to- ceiling windows from which to see the gorgeous vistas. All of them come with fully equipped kitchens with Subzero and Wolf appliances, plus wet bars with wine coolers and high definition flat-screen televisions.

For a splash of fun, head over to the Turquoise Place’s 450-foot heated lazy river and float along the meandering waterway. This resort also boasts five pools and two indoor heated salt water pools with beach and poolside cabanas.

Getting hungry? Change of Pace, an outdoor grill and bar will surely satisfy your appetite with scrumptious dishes and sandwiches. You can also wet your whistle with their signature cocktails and cold beer.

For those seeking serious pampering, there’s a lavish full-service Turquoise Place Spa. You won’t regret a single minute you spend inside this oasis. The Spa’s message therapists are second-to none and you won’t walk out the same person you did when you came through their doors. You can even order a beachside or an in-room massage for one or two.

There’s also a plethora of activities: beachside yoga, line dancing, and canvas painting classes. And yes, there’s plenty of organized, fun entertainment for the kids. Turquoise Place runs kids programs like a well-oiled machine. There are arts and crafts and competitive games for all ages to enjoy.

Just 20 miles away in neighboring Gulf Shores is the Beach Club Resort and Spa, which covers roughly five football fields. This resort continues in its mission to preserve the ecosystem in and around the property; in fact, wooden walkways have been built above the beach to minimize any disturbance around sand dunes. It’s commonplace to see resort employees and guests alike doing all they can to protect sea turtles and the eggs they lay onshore.

The Beach Club and its four towers of fabulous condominiums, boasts five pools, five hot tubs, two restaurants, an ice cream shop and a gift shop. And if that’s not enough to keep you busy, there are also tennis courts, biking, kids camps, playgrounds and a luxurious spa.

There’s no shortage of places near the waves to plant yourself for a day of relaxing, and like Turquoise Place, The Beach Club offers beach chair and umbrella service. After you’ve kicked back a bit and recharged your batteries on the white sand, you can put that stored energy to use with a variety of water activities such as paddle boarding, kayaking, parasailing and jet skiing.

Don’t miss lunch or dinner at the resort’s Coast’s Restaurant, a restaurant where Chef Brody works his magic and serves award-winning (and mouth-watering, naturally) dishes. Coast’s has panoramic waterfront views of the Gulf of Mexico and offers inside and outside dining. For a more casual atmosphere, one chockfull of food and activities, head to the resort’s Village Hideaway for scrumptious grilled dishes and an extensive craft beer selection. Pool tables, shuffleboard, video games (a really cool golf simulator!) and flat screen TVs help give the Hideaway its fun vibe.

The extent of excursions, adventures and things to do here is boundless and readily accessible. There is truly something for everyone in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach from deep sea fishing charters (here you’ll find one of the largest fishing fleets on the gulf coast) to sunset cruises. With the Gulf on one side and several inlets, lakes and bays literally a stone’s throw away, water adventures of every sort rule. There are also beautiful biking trails, amusement parks and eco-tours.

Bring out the naturalist in you! Board a covered golf cart and take a fascinating eco-tour through the pristine woodlands and natural habitats of the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail. Here you can explore the marshes, swamps, and secondary sand dunes. This journey also brings you over the creeks of Gulf State Park.

If that’s not enough exploration, head to the 7,000-acre Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, one of the most important natural sanctuaries in the country. Maritime forests and coastal marsh provide permanent and temporary homes to millions of spring and fall flying migrants. A hike of the Pine Beach Trail, with trails of varying difficulty, is a must for all members of the family.

You can also choose to discover this ecologist’s dream by kayak or take a boat tour on Oyster Bay, which plays a vital role in the seafood industry. There are numerous outfitters eager to take you on a variety of unforgettable excursions.

To satisfy the thrill seeker in your family head to the Wharf. Hop on the second-tallest ferris wheel in the southeast at the Wharf for an unforgettable view of the sunset. Then, head to The Track and ride the Sky Coaster and the Wild Woody three-tiered go-kart track. There are also bumper boats and miniature golf courses.

After working up an appetite, enjoy a culinary experience at one of several restaurants.
Royal Red Shrimp, caught only in the deep Gulf waters off the Alabama coast, reign supreme at King Neptune’s Seafood Restaurant, and then, there’s LuLu’s at Homeport Marina: this is the place to grab a spoonful or two of their famous seafood gumbo and L.A. (lower Alabama) caviar. Need something to occupy the kids? LuLu’s has the Fountain of Youth (for cooling off) and the Mountain of Youth (a safe, three-story climbing challenge for adventuresome children of all ages). (Tip: Lulu’s serves 4,000 people a day during the summer season so be sure to arrive early because reservations are not accepted.)

Enjoy unbeatable views of Perdido Bay from the expansive indoor and outdoor seating offered at Cobalt’s The Restaurant. This restaurant offers live entertainment as well as a Happy Hour and an unbeatable Sunday brunch. Be sure to try their legendary firecracker shrimp with a spicy remoulade sauce.

One thing is for sure – you won’t be able to get enough of the bliss, relaxation, and adventure that Gulf Shores and Orange Beach has to offer. From the instant your toes touch the soft sand, it becomes clear that there is but one way to describe this beauty – paradise.

For more information go to, and

The British Invade Pittsburgh, or How I Learned to Love Britsburgh

Icon Written by admin on September 3, 2015 – 12:56 pm

The British Invade Pittsburgh, or How I Learned to Love Britsburgh

There was a time that relations between the British and the United States was somewhat…strained. Words were had, taxes were levied, and battles were fought. In any other situation this would mean the two nations involved would pretty much be on bad terms forever. Most nations however aren’t England and the US. After some time to cool off and grow, both countries have developed a relationship that would be surprising under the best of circumstances, and is simply amazing knowing our history.

Pittsburgh seems to love England, so much so that the Steelers even played against the Minnesota Vikings in 2013 in London. As a city that loves its heritage, our connection to Great Britain is quite strong indeed.

It’s this type of connection that is the reason why, for six days in September, Pittsburgh will become Britsburgh. Ok, so our name isn’t officially changing but starting on September 9th the British will definitely be coming with music, food, events, and most importantly British beer. Fuller’s is helping us enjoy Britsburgh by featuring their ESB, London Pride, and London Porter throughout the week. This taste of England is just what we need to get us in the British spirit, so to speak.

The Britsburgh celebration is being organized by the British-America Connections Pittsburgh, a group of individuals who are passionate about the 250-year special relationship that Pittsburgh shares with Great Britain.
God Save The Queen
So why have Britsburgh in September? Well, the start date of Britsburgh is set to coincide with Queen Elizabeth II overtaking Queen Victoria as Great Britain’s longest-reigning monarch. To help the Queen and England celebrate this momentous achievement, Pittsburgh is going Britsburgh.

Queen Elizabeth was born on April 21st, 1926 and came to power on February 6th, 1952. Her coronation service the following year was the first ever to be televised. Along with reigning the longest, the Queen is also the longest-lived British monarch and is the world’s oldest reigning monarch, as well as the longest-reigning female monarch in all of history.
Celebrating With Fuller’s
Speaking of history, it’s no secret that many of the brewing techniques we follow today started in England, and that the English helped us to have the affinity for beer that is stronger than ever today. Fuller’s Brewery is located on the historic Griffin Brewery site in Chiswick, England. Beer has been brewed on this site since the 17th century, and Fuller’s has been making beer at the location since 1845.

The brewery was founded by John Fuller, and was handed down to his son John Bird Fuller, who partnered with Henry Smith and John Turner to grow the business, and making the Fuller Smith & Turner Brewery.

Fast Forward to today, and Fuller’s owns and operated more than 380 pubs, inns, and hotels across the south of England, and makes some of the best authentic British beer to be imported into the US.
Beer School With Fuller’s- BBC at The HYP
What do you get when you combine beer and school? Some might say “college,” and while you’d be mostly right, we’re talking about something a lot less expensive and you graduate in just one night.

On Friday, September 11th join Tony from Vecenie’s Distributing a the Cabaret Theater at Theater Square for a night of beer and education with Fuller’s Brewery. Tony and the folks from Fuller’s will be in attendance to talk all about Fuller’s lineup of authentic imported British beer as well as crack some jokes and simply have a good time. If you haven’t been to one of the beer schools yet, you’re truly missing out. For more information on beer school with Fuller’s, visit
Fuller’s Beer
Brewed since the 1950s, London Pride is, well, the pride of Fuller’s Brewery. This well-rounded beer comes in at a sessionable 4.7% ABV and is a great example of an English Pale Ale. London Pride pours a clear copper color and has both the taste and aroma of a nice bready malt with some nice toffee in the middle. A great, full-bodied beer that’s amazingly easy to drink, London Pride is possibly the best way to celebrate Britsburgh in a bottle or on draft.

If you like your beers extra special, then Fuller’s ESB is just about perfect. This Extra Special Bitter (ESB) comes in at 5.9% ABV and features a sweet caramel malt body with a slight herbal bitterness in the finish. Expect some light toffee, caramel, and even a hint of dried fruit in the aroma, and bread, raisins, and a herbal undertone in the taste. Overall, ESBs are easy to drink and great to pair with a good, meaty dish. Seek out the draft.

It’s the time of year when dark beers are coming back into popularity, and in the Britsburgh spirit, Fuller’s has their London Porter to offer. This 5.4% ABV beer is an award-winning example of the historic English style of beer. Smooth, creamy, and with just enough chocolate and coffee to balance the flavors out, London Porter is exactly the beer you’d expect to order in a classic English pub.

There’s a lot going on throughout the week of Britsburgh Fest, so check out and for all the events on info on how you can celebrate, to.

Look for the official Britsburgh window logo in these participating venues (as of publishing). Stop in have a Fullers and toast the Queen.

Pipers Pub
Patrick’s Pub ( Moon Twp)
Rugger’s Pub
Fox and Hound (North Hills)
New Bentleyville Tavern ( Washington Co.)
Hal’s Bar and Grill (North Hills)
James Street Gastropub
Sharp Edge Penn
Poor Richards Ale House ( Wexford)
House of 1000 Beers ( New Ken)
BRGR ( East End)
Hilton Garden Inn ( Oakland)
The Yard ( Market Sq.)
Diamond Market ( Market SQ.)
D’s Six Pack and Dogs

Fuller’s Brewery is proudly distributed in and around the Pittsburgh area by Vecenie Distributing. Vecenie’s is also a proud sponsor Britsburgh Fest

Getting Crafty With Wyndridge Farm Brewing

Icon Written by admin on September 3, 2015 – 12:54 pm

Getting Crafty With Wyndridge Farm Brewing

Farmhouse breweries are not a new idea. For hundreds of years beer has been brewed on farms throughout the world. These farmhouse breweries are responsible for many amazing styles of beer we love today, and the methods created in barns on farms large and small are mimicked still today. While brewing has come pretty far since those days, the idea of farmhouse breweries is still one that brings up ideas of quality, freshness, and amazing beers.

Few breweries today can call themselves a true farmhouse brewery, but Wyndridge Farm Brewing in Dallastown, PA is one of them. Located in South Central PA, Wyndridge Farm Brewery is home to their lineup of craft ciders and beers. The rustic wood of the brewery stands in stark contrast to the high-tech brewhouse that lives there, reinforcing the idea of traditional farmhouse brewing brought into the modern age.
The Brewery
Wyndridge Farm Brewing opened their doors to the public in 2014, and in that short amount of time they have grown to include a 30 barrel, four vessel automated brewhouse that’s capable of producing 12,000 barrels of beer per year. Not one to be left to kegging beer alone, they also have a bottling line capable of filling 3,000 bottles per hour!

All the brewing equipment in the world won’t do you any good unless you have a team of talented people working on it and behind the scenes to get everything going smoothly. At Wyndridge Farm Brewery this is done by a family of beer and cider experts, even if some of them aren’t related.

On the ownership side you have the Groff family consisting of Steve, Julie, and Taylor, followed by head brewer Stephen Foster and head cider maker Scott Topel. Pete Koelsch rounds out the motley crew with his engineering skills to keep everything working as expected. Together they make some of the best beer and cider to come out of the area, and are all extremely glad to finally be sharing it with us in Pittsburgh.
Crafty Beers
When it comes down to it a brewery is generally judged by the quality of their beer. Thankfully, Wyndridge has a solid lineup of beers to go along with their great story and prepossessing location.

10 Point Ale – This golden ale is an easy drinking, refreshing sessionable beer that’s extremely approachable for those just getting into craft beer. 10 Point Ale is available year round and while it’s approachable and easy to drink, it remains unique enough for craft beer veterans to enjoy over and over again, too.

Wyndridge uses American 2 row, caramel, and Munich malts for the base of this beer and relies on Perle hops for the bittering and aroma. 10 Point Ale comes in at 4.8% ABV with an IBU rating of 20.

Laughing Crow IPA – The ubiquitous India Pale Ale is easily the most popular style of craft beer today, and Wyndridge Brewing’s Laughing Crow IPA is a shining example. Laughing Crow uses a hefty late addition hopping to give the beer tons of hop aroma without making the beer too bitter.

Laughing Crow also relies on local water with a high mineral content to give the beer a crisp taste and dry finish so there’s no cloying sweetness hiding in the background. The malt bill for Laughing Crow includes 2-row, Vienna, and Aromatic malts, but the hop bill is where this beer truly shines. Wyndridge uses Zythos, Falconers Flight, Cascade, Belma, Chinook, and Galena hops to craft a beer that has tropical fruit and citrus notes with a refreshing bitterness that’s far from overpowering. Laughing Crow IPA comes in at 6.5% ABV and a respectable 40 IBU.

Barn Dog Chocolate Vanilla Imperial Porter – The porter style of beer is a unique one that’s come in and out of popularity for more than 100 years, and is seeing a resurgence today as brewers add new and interesting flavor profiles to this classic style.

Wyndridge Brewing’s Barndog Porter features fresh cut vanilla beats and cacao nibs from Ghana to give the porter a complex yet approachable taste that truly does the porter style justice. The vanilla is very present on the nose, with the middle and finish dominated by silky smooth dark chocolate notes.

Barn Dog features a malt bill consisting of 2 row, chocolate, Crafa III, caramel, and flaked barley along with a top-secret hop bill that gives the beer a bitterness that’s present but far from dominating. Barn Dog comes in at 7% ABV and 24 IBU.
Crafty Ciders
Craft ciders are the single fastest growing segment in adult beverages, making them a pretty hot commodity. With mass-produced ciders flooding the market, it can be difficult to find a cider that’s crafted with care by a family-owned brewery. Wyndridge offers a lineup of ciders for every palate out there, even the die-hard IPA fan that might not initially try a cider.

Dry-Hopped Hard Apple Cider – If hops are your thing, the Wyndridge’s Hopped Hard Apple Cider is for you. Their hopped cider is a blend of crisp apples and bitter hops that works surprisingly well together.

Wyndridge uses locally pressed apples, yeast, and hops to make their cider a truly local treat. The result of this blending of hops and apples is a fresh, clean hopped cider that’s semisweet at 5.5% ABV.

Cranberry Hard Cider – If tartness is your thing, then Wyndridge’s Cranberry Hard Cider is just for you. This cider starts with their base cider with a splash of fresh cranberry juice added. The light tartness of the cranberry offsets and compliments the sweetness of the apples. Cranberry Hard Cider is a year-round cider that’s 5.5% ABV.

Original Hard Cider – You always remember your first, and for Wyndridge their Original Hard Cider is their first offering to be sold. This cider is fermented with champagne yeast to give it a dry finish while keeping enough sweetness to make it refreshing and light.

Original Hard Cider is 5.5% ABV and is always made from freshly-pressed apples that are sourced locally, never from concentrate. Drink this cider chilled, but forego the ice, you’ll be glad you did.

Wyndridge Farm Brewing’s beers and ciders are proudly distributed by Frank B Fuhrer Wholesale in and around the Pittsburgh Area

Amelia Island, Florida

Icon Written by admin on August 4, 2015 – 6:56 pm

Amelia Island, Florida..

For tourist information and planning:

Get in on a great vacation secret island.  Set in the Sea Island chain, this barrier island was Florida’s first luxury tourist destination and it is still winning awards (and hearts) today. Named among the Top 10 North American islands by Conde Nast Traveler’s Reader’s Choice Awards for seven consecutive years and recognized as a Top 25 Island in the World, Amelia Island is treasured for its long stretches of quiet beaches, natural beauty, unique history, and charming seaport character. Choose from golf, spa, dining, shopping, and a range of outdoor activities – or simply let relaxation take its course and enjoy time with loved ones. Lose yourself on Amelia Island and make memories.

Amelia Island is chock-full of historical lore: Over the past 400 years, Amelia’s been the conquest of eight different provinces, including France, Spain, Mexico, and the U.S. All of that hand-changing made it a haven for pirates who, according to legend, stashed their booty all over the island. It’s also the birthplace of the commercial shrimping industry—much of Florida’s white shrimp is caught right off the island’s coast—and the production of handmade shrimping nets still takes place there.

While on Amelia Island be sure and explore Centre Street. Once a vibrant, Victorian age, charming downtown, Fernandina Beach escaped the mass commercialization of the 20th century and boasts a beautiful 50-block historic district with many original structures dating back to the late 19th century, including many Victorian-style mansions and Victorian cottages. Take a stroll through the heart of Amelia Island’s shopping district, historic Centre Street. Visit the numerous boutiques and unique shops along the streets, it will take you back in time and you will feel like you have been transported to another era.  The shops are all very uniquely different and host a wide variety of merchandise; you won’t find duplicate merchandise in these little independent shops, each shop is extremely unique and different.  We were really impressed with the selection and pricing, something for everyone, all very unique and totally different.  Really enjoyed the shopping!

Marriott Residence Inn

2301 Sadler Road, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
Phone: 904-601-3405

Nightwire was hosted by this gorgeous property which is one of Amelia Island’s newest treasures – “Marriott Platinum Award Winning!”  Residence Inn – Amelia Island.  They are conveniently located walking distance from the beach and just a short distance from all of the island’s treasures – great restaurants, local businesses, area attractions, and the best that nature has to offer.   Whether you are on the island for business or the vacation that your family has been dreaming of, the Residence Inn is the hotel to meet all your needs.

They offer spacious studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom suites.  All suites have full kitchens, HDTV with a large selection of channels, complimentary high speed Internet connections, access to our FREE island shuttle, and many more treasures to be found.  Plus they offer a daily complimentary hot breakfast each morning.  You will find this a great place to relax and unwind after a productive day of working or beach combing next to their outdoor pool and hot tub or enjoy a glass of wine with family and friends next to the fire pit!  Bike rentals are available at the Front Desk or you can explore onsite Egans Creek Greenway, a part of the Great Florida Birding Trail with miles of fauna and flora to discover!

The property can easily accommodate meetings and social functions of up to 50 guests in the David Levy Yulee Meeting Room, and their outdoor venue, the Tides Terrace, will add a refreshing sea breeze to your special event. For more information, please contact their Sales Department at 904-277-2440.  They specialize in creating memorable moments for corporate and social groups alike.  Their well-trained staff of experienced specialists will make your trip to Amelia Island a memorable experience.

Fairbanks House – Bed and Breakfast

227 South 7th Street, Amelia Island, FL 32034
Phone: 904-479-4814 or (888) 891-9882


Twitter – @fairbankshouse

Facebook – Fairbanks House Bed and Breakfast

The Fairbanks House on Amelia Island has been awarded membership in Select Registry for 15 consecutive years and named to Conde Nast’s Gold List.  They have been featured in publications such as The Best Romantic Escapes in Florida, Fodor’s, Frommer’s, Southern Living, Atlanta Journal, Miami Herald, Boston Globe and New York Times and now Nightwire!

Fairbanks House features an 8000 square foot 1885 Italianate villa and three cottages.  Located in the historic district of Fernandina Beach, Fairbanks House is an easy bike ride to 13 miles of pristine beach. The mansion, cottages and pool all rest on an eco-friendly, landscaped, smoke-free acre featuring native plants, palm trees, large oaks and a butterfly garden.  This inn caters to adults.  Owners, Theresa and Bill Hamilton aims to please and genuinely welcome each and every guest, making you feel at home and like family.

The Fairbanks House sits on one manicured acre, the four-story Italianate-style villa is graced with dormers, bay windows, massive chimneys and balustrade balconies and porches and a fifteen-foot tower. Each of the twelve guest rooms, suites, and cottages offers magnificent splendor, superior comfort, and private baths. Guests will find queen and king size, canopy or four-poster beds, fireplaces and luxurious bathrooms with choice of Jacuzzis, claw-foot tub, or shower. The rooms are appointed with antiques, oriental rugs, and period pieces to create a special sanctuary for every guest. Cable television and telephones are provided in each room. Guests may also choose to enjoy the genteel country charm of one of the three cottages.

Breakfast at the Fairbanks House, is truly a treat and inviting with the scent of cinnamon orange pecan French toast topped with a caramel topping making its way through the mansion. The smell alone that will entice you out of our comfy beds each morning.  Theresa’s Gourmet breakfasts are fabulous, their presentation and quality of fresh fruits and ingredients are incredible.  Breakfast is served in their grand formal dining room or out on the breezy piazzas by the pool garden where you’ll definitely want to linger. This place is almost paradise on earth, we absolutely loved it!

Fairbanks House also offers complimentary bikes, wifi, off-street parking, beach equipment (chairs, umbrellas, towels and even a backpack to carry your things in) docking stations, games and reading materials are always available. Every evening they serve complimentary drinks and delicious homemade hors d’oeuvres.  In addition to all these great amenities, they add a very personal touch by making recommendations and reservations which will make your trip an amazing Amelia Island rock star experience. Oh, and I must mention the fresh homemade gourmet cookies left on the entry table every evening for you to enjoy at the end of your evening. What a great and delicious touch!  Thank you Theresa!

Bill and Theresa, the owners of Fairbanks House have been “green” since well before it became fashionable.  They go to great lengths to make sure that their practices are in keeping with what’s best for the environment without sacrificing an ounce of pampering for their guests. They recently added two electric car charging stations featuring both Tesla and universal chargers.

Once you’ve arrived, you will lose yourself in the beauty and elegance of this property as well as the hospitality of the owners, you just won’t want to leave. Can’t wait to go back!

Joe’s 2nd Street Bistro

14 S 2nd Street

Fernandina Beach, FL 32034

(904) 321-2558

Located in the heart of the Fernandina Beach historic district.  This property is a restored 1900s home that’s filled with flavor.

The island-inspired dining room is amazing and upstairs is a private dining room, but we suggest grabbing a table out on the covered porch. A meal here is almost like eating in a chef’s home, a quaint and delectable experience, to say the least.

Try the grilled leg of lamb rubbed with black pepper, garlic, and herbs and served with tomato mint salsa, potatoes, and “cotton fried onions.” Shrimp is Amelia Island’s claim to fame, and rightfully so. It was the birthplace of the modern shrimping industry and where even now a good 80 percent of Florida’s sweet Atlantic white shrimp is harvested. Each year Amelia Island proudly hosts a shrimp fest.. which I’ve been told is something you must experience.

Joe’s serves local fresh seafood that they purchase daily.  We highly recommended all of their seafood dishes which are original recipes and amazingly delicious, you can tell they take great pride and care in the preparation of each and every meal.  For those of you that like landlubbers fare, we recommend  the tenderloin of pork.  Grilled to perfection and served with a smoked peach barbeque sauce. One of our favorites was called “Sweet Potato Hay.”  Sweet potatoes very finely shredded and served crisp.  Even if you are not a big lover of sweet potatoes, this dish is one that might just change your mind.  Plus, the steaks, we had a filet and I must say, it was one of the best filets I have ever had.

Joe’s offers a wide variety of expertly freshly prepared menu choices including seafood, steak, pasta and game. The food is fabulous, their wine selection, atmosphere and attentive staff will make this one of your favorite places. Be sure and try one of their delicious homemade desserts.. to die for! After a meal at Joe’s order dessert to go, you’ll be glad you did!

Don’t miss it. You simply have to ……Eat at Joe’s.

Kayak Tour with Kayak Amelia

13030 Heckscher Dr, Jacksonville, FL 32226

Phone:(904) 251-0016

Kayaking is a great way to get out and explore the waterways between the Atlantic Ocean and Jacksonville. The staff was extremely friendly and the equipment was in excellent condition. They have a generous parking lot and the entire facility was inviting.  We were greeted by their friendly staff, which was well prepared and extremely knowledgeable and helpful in getting us ready for our excursion.

We paddled our way through Fort George/Simpson Creek estuary, a series of tributaries that wind through the salt marsh, creating what looks like the arteries of the land. The water twists and turns creating intimate canals for the resident wading birds, fishing osprey, and provides protection for newly hatched fingerlings. The estuary is a fascinating environment, the lifeblood of the ocean, and the nursery ground for most of the life in the sea.

Along our travels we saw tons of birds and fish flying through the air around us. We found a number of great stops where we pulled over to rest and captured some great photos.  For the beginner or experience kayaker this was a great experience that we definitely highly recommend.  It was so much fun and our guides were awesome.  Thank you to everyone for making this experience so memorable.


22 S. 4th Street

Fernandina Beach, FL 32034

(904) 261-7700

Españas specializes in traditional flavors from Spain & Portugal.  They have a menu of more than 10 tapas dishes, both hot and cold, and a variety of extravagant salads and main course options.  We sampled five of the tapas and each one was more delicious and enjoyable that the other each in its own very unique way. One was hot, one was spicy, one was rich and smooth all different and so beautifully presented and scrumptious.  The bread was unexpectedly sweet and it so nicely accompanied the variety of dishes. I have to tell you.. I loved the olive oil/aoli dipping sauce for the bread.

They also serve authentic paellas , Spain’s most traditional dish.  Their paellas are cooked in a traditional Paella pan; a shallow flat pan with two handles, made in and imported from Spain. They start with extra virgin olive oil, saffron and a “sofrito”, which is the combination of garlic, onion, peppers and tomato. Next, they add seasoned meats, homemade stock and rice which are cooked together until the rice soaks up the delicate flavors of the stock. Once the rice is cooked, they garnish the paella with diced roasted peppers, English peas and fresh cilantro. You will enjoy and savor every single bite!!! This is a not to be missed authentic Spanish dish.

The owners, Roberto and Marina have over 20 year’s restaurant experience in both culinary arts and management. They take great pride in their original recipes, taking travels to Spain and bringing those authentic flavors to your table. They utilize only the freshest fish, shellfish, herbs (some grown on premises) and spices for our paellas.

Other menu highlights include varied hot and cold tapas, steaks, and homemade desserts. Accompany your meal with a fine wine from their Select Wine List or try their homemade sangria.  The staff will do everything possible to make your evening a memorable one.

The service was excellent; the wait staff extremely attentive and knowledgeable.  You can definitely tell the owners take great pride in their restaurant and it shows by the quality of food and their paying attention to every detail. Highly recommend this restaurant.  Trust us, you’ll love it!


4924 First Coast Highway, Suite 10
Fernandina Beach, FL 32034

(904) 310-6620

Bar Zin… neighborhood bistro offers guests a diverse menu of wines, local brews and Saki martinis. BarZin has a relaxed, upbeat atmosphere, and offers indoor and outdoor dining options with fresh made daily food offerings.

The original concept for ZinBar was that it was going to be a wine bar with a tapas food menu.  Once owner, Tim Seyda discovered the Palmetto Walk site, that all changed. The location set up perfectly for a quaint little neighborhood American bistro which meant the food menu would take top billing and the wine bar would be an extension of the restaurant. The wine selection is probably the best on Amelia Island.

Guests truly feel comfortable just stopping in for a glass of wine, eating a small snack or having a complete dining experience. Zin Bar is a great neighborhood bar.

Their lunch menu offers great salads, sandwiches, burgers and grilled tacos. All are made fresh daily from the freshest and highest quality ingredients.  Their dinner menu includes fresh seafood, salads, burgers and a variety of options, definitely something delicious and skillfully prepared by their chef for everyone.

Tim Seyda, owner of Zin Bar told us “The concept started over 30 years ago when I was attending the University of Minnesota. During this time I also worked downtown in a high-end classic French restaurant, Les Quatre Amis. After leaving Les Quatre Amis. I opened a 5 diamond regional American restaurant for Amfac Hotel Company. The chef at the French restaurant, Rene Debon, and the G.M., Carlo Bicacci, were my two mentors whether they knew it or not. Rene’s passion and intensity in the kitchen to insure that every dish was perfect has stuck with me over all these years. Carlo’s eye for attention to the smallest detail day after day was also very inspiring. I have brought my own passion and zest for life to Bar Zin with over 30 years of working in the restaurant / hospitality industry.  I am truly grateful that I have the opportunity to share my dream with all of you!”

This is a must stop in and try restaurant for either lunch, dinner or just a glass of wine from their  great wine list or a homemade cocktail.  Simply Zin Delicious!

Stay’N Country Ranch

There is nothing better than horseback riding on the beach, if you have never experience it.. you simply must.  Stay’N Country Ranch does all the work and brings their finely groomed well trained horses to you on the beach at Peter’s Point Beach.  Peter’s Beach is a pristine beach with crystal clear waters and blue skies.  The horses are definitely well taken care of and trained to adapt for any level of rider.  It is a guided beach ride and truly so much fun.

Stay’ N Country Ranch is a family owned and operated ranch just off Amelia Island in Nassau County, Florida. In contrast to the nearby beautiful beaches of Amelia Island, you will find over 43 acres of oak trees, stocked ponds, nature trails, a 20 stall horse barn with 2 indoor arenas, a walk in horse shower, tack lockers, large outdoor arena and a wonderful party barn ready for anything from a birthday party to a rustic wedding. Missy and Schad Freeman have converted a property once used to raise chickens into an equine center that offers not only horse boarding and riding lessons but a variety of activities open to the public. Trail rides are a popular activity in addition to the Children’s Birthday Parties with Wagon & Pony rides. The Party Barn supports a variety of events from weddings- birthday parties-fundraising events and much more.

Don’t miss a great opportunity to ride along the beach and create unforgettable memories.

Amelia River Cruise

1 N Front Street

Fernandina Beach, FL 32034

(904) 261-9972

This Sunset Cruise is an adult BYOB cruise designed especially for adults and is one of the finest ways to end the day or begin the night. The view on the Cumberland Sound can be as spectacular as a legendary Key West sunset. Enjoy a glass of your favorite BYOB beverage and listen to some of Fernandina’s finest local musicians on board. With the wind in your hair and the smell of sweet salt air, you will float away to a tropical paradise where all of your worries disappear and a sense of relaxation and appreciation of nature takes over you.

Amelia Island Museum of History

233 South Third Street
Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
(904) 261-7378

Amelia Island Museum of History, housed in the historic Nassau County jail is a great way to experience the island’s 4,000 years of Florida history. A spoken history tour of the 8 flags that have flown over Amelia Museum tours begin at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Fort Clinch State Park

2601 Atlantic Ave.

Fernandina Beach, FL  32034

(904) 277-7274

Fort Clinch is one of the most well-preserved 19th century forts in the country. Visitors can also sunbathe, swim, and roam self-guided nature trails to discover native plants and wildlife, or explore a six-mile trail through the park with views of the biggest sand dunes in Florida.  To learn more visit their website listed above.

Allegiant Airlines

We flew Allegiant Airlines to Jacksonville for our trip to Amelia Island.  Allegiant Airlines recently started direct flights from Pittsburgh to Jacksonville departing on Mondays and Fridays only. This no frills airline carrier offers flights starting at only $56 one-way.

As with any no frills airlines and for $56, you get what you paid for: They do charge a small online booking fee and there are charges for checked luggage as well as carry-on bags. I was a bit taken back to find that they even charge for water onboard. Sodas and cocktails I understand, but charging for water onboard the aircraft? Now, I know grab a bottle of water in the terminal.  All in all, the planes were clean, the crew friendly and very pleasant, even after the hours of delay they had to endure also, (they do have Pittsburgh based crew, so they are bringing jobs to our city.)

Our Jacksonville flight was delayed for several hours getting out of Pittsburgh (the gate agents did provide us with water and snacks at the gate while we waited.) Our departure delay did slightly impact our plans for arrival day, blew the whole day in the airport, but we rescheduled and all was good. Our motto.. stay calm and carry on, really applied that day. Plus, Bar Symon was just around the corner from our gate and their cocktails, food and friendly service made our delay time fly by. Hey anytime you can get out of Pittsburgh and go to the sun and beach and a fabulous island like Amelia Island…it a win-win no matter how long the wait.

Our return flight was on time, so no issues there.  Remember, delays happen with any airlines, so be patient.  If you are looking for a low cost budget carrier, check out Allegiant, it’s $56 – you can’t go anywhere for $56, but Allegiant will fly you to Florida for $56, so give them a try.  They also offer non-stop flights to Myrtle Beach, Tampa/Clearwater and St. Pete and Punta Gorda and flights from Youngstown Airport for other destination choices.

The reviews online of this airline have not been good they are currently averaging 3 out of 10 stars, however my personal feeling is that only those passengers that are unhappy are writing reviews and those that are happy are just going on their merry way and not sharing their good experiences, why is it we always seem to focus on the bad, not the good?  So, come on Pittsburgh, if you are on a budget or just looking to save money, I would definitely try Allegiant Airlines.  After all, they have direct flights and are giving Pittsburgh a chance, bringing in new jobs and revenue….. how about we give them a chance?

Would Nightwire fly Allegiant Airlines again?  I’d give that a definite, YES if for no other reason than to report back to you, my dear readers and tell you what a great flight we had at such a bargain fare!  Check out Allegiant Air flight schedules and deals at


Stoudts Brewing Company

Icon Written by admin on June 26, 2015 – 2:58 pm

Stoudts Brewing Company

The year is 1987. You can buy the top-selling Ford Escort for
$6,800, the world’s population reaches 5 billion, Fox becomes
its own TV channel, and here in Pennsylvania, the first microbrewery
since prohibition opens its doors. While 1987 had a
lot of good times, the biggest event for us was by far Stoudts
Brewing Co. selling its first beer (which happened to be the
Gold Lager, still offered today) and starting a tradition that’s still
going strong today, nearly 30 years later.
Founded by Carol Stoudt, who also happens to be the first
female brewmaster in the US since prohibition, Stoudts has
made amazing beer since the time when craft beer wasn’t a
phrase anyone knew. Stoudts Brewing Co. is located in rural
Lancaster County and currently offers around 20 different beers
throughout the year, brewing approximately 10,000 barrels of
beer each year.
Today, Stoudts Brewing Co. is owned by Ed and Carol Stoudt,
and Brett Kintzer has taken over as the head brewer. Stoudts
is a true family brewery that offers some amazing beers and a
dedication to the craft that’s hard to match.
Year-Round Beers
The cornerstone of any good craft brewery is their year-round
beers. These are the beers that breweries are known for and
support the weird and wild beers made throughout the rest of
the year. For Stoudts, the lineup of year-round beers includes
four different beers, two of which have won multiple Great
American Beer Festival medals.
American Pale Ale
While APA is a style of beer, Stoudts makes their American
Pale Ale unique thanks to generous additions of Warrior and
Cascade hops. American Pale Ale has been the best-selling
Stoudts beer for ten years running, and for good reason. At
5.1% ABV and with a crisp, medium body, American Pale Ale
is everything you’d want in an APA and more. The best thing
about Stoudts APA? It’s even available in cans, so you can take
it anywhere and have your beer protected from light and the
forces of evil*.
American Pale Ale pairs perfectly with grilled beef, marinated
meat, and is exactly the right beer for anything spicy.
*Protection against the forces of evil might be an exaggeration,
but definitely from light, air, and best of all, cans are way better
to recycle!
Scarlett Lady ESB
Named after a red haired mind reader…wait, that’s ESP…ok,
scratch that. Named after the reddish copper color this beer
has, Scarlet Lady is an English-style extra special bitter (ESB)
that’s rich, malty, and full of hop aroma and taste.
Scarlet Lady comes in at 4.8% ABV and pairs well with grilled
or smoked salmon. If white meat is more your thing, then you’ll
love this beer with ham and marinated pork loin, too.
Pils German Style Pilsner
The Germans know their beer, and specifically Pilsners are a
specialty in the land of Oktoberfest. Pils from Stoudts Brewing
is brewed in the style of a traditional German-style Pilsner that
has a delicate dry taste that’s followed up with a firm bitterness.
Like any respectable German-style Pilsner, Pils is a brilliant
straw yellow with a medium body and the ever-noticeable noble
hop aroma. Pils is 5.4% ABV, and is so good that Men’s Journal
voted it #3 for their best beer in America. You don’t have to
take my word for it either, as Pils has won 3 gold, a silver, and a
bronze medal at the Great American Beer Fest. Pils is the other
beer from Stoudts that’s available in the can, making it perfect
for concerts, the beach, and space travel*!
Pils pairs wonderfully with seafood, chicken, and for the more
adventurous eaters, it’s a perfect compliment for calamari.
*Ok, maybe space travel is going a little too far, but some beer
will be the first one in space, so why not Stoudts Pils?
Gold Lager
This is where it all started. The first beer brewed and sold by
Stoudts Brewing back in 1987, Gold Lager is a Munich-Style
helles lager that’s been called one of the finest German-style
beers brewed in America. Golden in color, Gold is brewed with
a 2-row base malt along with three different types of specialty
malts. With a healthy dose of noble hops to balance things
out, Gold is smooth, balanced, and exactly what you want in a
Munich-style lager.
Gold Lager comes in at 4.7% ABV and has won a gold, three
silvers, and a bronze medal from the Great American Beer Festival
as well as a World Beer Cup medal.
July 2015 • 13
Gold Lager pairs well with roasted chicken and fish, and can
even pair nicely with sharp cheese and traditional German
Fourplay IPA
The newest member of the year-round lineup, Fourplay is
an American IPA that’s full-bodied and chock full o’ hops.
This beer’s hop character is thanks to Apollo hops that lend
a citrus and resinous character to the beer as well as a super
secret, eyes only clearance, black ops hop variety 06300*.
This experimental hop gives Fourplay orange, chocolate, and
even some coconut character. This is a beer that needs to be
tried to be believed.
*About that black ops thing, I might be exaggerating there
a little bit too, but this is one interesting hop even if it’s not
grown in a CIA safehouse…that we know of!
Big Beers
Year round beers are great, but it’s the specialty beers that
bring out the interesting side of a brewery. Each of the beers
in Stoudts’ Big Beers lineup are at least 7% ABV, topping out
at a huge 10% ABV.
Double IPA
Stoudts Double IPA is, as the name suggests, a big double
India Pale Ale. Coming in at 10% ABV and a whopping 90
IBUs, this beer is strong and full bodied, bringing with it some
pretty intense hop characteristics thanks to multiple kettle
hop additions and a very generous dry hopping.
Fat Dog
While this might be a little more than your typical oatmeal
you have for breakfast, Stoudts Fat Dog is an imperial oatmeal
stout that tips the scales at 9% ABV. Fat Dog combines
the smooth character of an oatmeal stout with the hoppiness
and alcohol you’d expect from an imperial stout. Fat Dog is
big, dark, with a roasted malt body and a coffee-like finish.
The Belgians know a thing or two about beer. One of their
greatest inventions is the Belgian Triple. Stoudts version of
this Belgian wonder is strong and full-bodied, coming in at
9% ABV. This specially-brewed beer has a spicy, phenolic
flavor with some fruitiness that makes the overall taste complex
yet extremely enjoyable. Triple has a warm alcohol finish
that balances out the inherent sweetness of the Belgian Tripel
Smooth Hoperator
Sticking with what they know best, Stoudts brewed Smooth
Hoperator to be a strong lager that has a delicate malty body
that, while present up front, is quickly overtaken by a strong
hop profile. Each barrel of Smooth Hoperator has 1.5 pounds
of hops added to it, giving Smooth Hoperator both hop aroma
and taste that’s hard to beat.
Seasonal Beers
Along with their year-round offerings and their big beers,
Stoudts also has a full lineup of seasonal beers, too. These
beers are brewed specifically for their own seasons and represent
the style most commonly associated with that time of the
Karnival Kolsch
A perfect springtime beer if there ever was one, Karnival
Kolsch is a German style ale that’s brewed using 2-row malt
along with some red wheat malt to give Karnival a great malt
backbone. On top of this sits German hops that give the beer
both aroma and flavor. While this beer comes off like a lager,
it’s all ale.
Karnival Kolsch comes out in February each year and should
be available into the beginning of summer, and is 4.8% ABV.
Hefe Wheat
Hefeweizens (German wheat beers) are one of the most
refreshing beers possible for hot summer days. Stoudts version
of this classic is brewed with half wheat and half malted
barley to give the beer a special body that you can’t find
anywhere else. Like other hefeweizens, Hefe has aromas and
tastes that harken ideas of bananas and cloves.
Hefe is 5% ABV, and is available starting in May and should
stick around throughout the summer months.
What do you get when you make a beer that has a strong
malt body, is amber in color, and has a floral yet not overwhelming
hop aroma? Other than simply an amazing beer,
what you also get is Oktoberfest from Stoudts. Brewed in the
traditional German fashion, This beer, which is 4.5% ABV, has
won 5 medals at GABF, and is available starting in August
through the fall months.
Revel Red
Wrapping up the seasonal offerings from Stoudts, Revel
Red is a deep amber colored beer that has pungent (in a
good way) hop profile that hints at citrus and dankness that is
Revel Red comes in at 6.2% ABV and is available starting in
November and stretches through the winter months.
Stoudts Brewing Company is proudly distributed in the Pittsburgh
area by Vecenie Wholesale.
14 •

Anchor Brewing Company – 07-2015

Icon Written by admin on June 26, 2015 – 2:56 pm

Anchor Brewing Company

The craft beer movement as we know it today started around
1988 with breweries like Rogue Brewing Co. and Great Lakes
Brewing Co. starting small in a world that didn’t know what craft
beer was. For that matter, neither did the new, small breweries.

All they knew was that they wanted to make the best beer
around and not compromise for anything.

Let’s jump back in history from 1988, to the year 1871. It was
in this year that German immigrant Gottlieb Brekle purchased
a beer and billiards saloon and opened a brewery on Pacific
Street in San Francisco. It wasn’t until 1896 however that the
brewery was renamed Anchor Brewing by Ernst Baruth and his
son-in-law Otto Schinkel. Nobody’s quite sure where the name
Anchor came from, but it’s widely accepted that it was meant to
be a tie-in with the booming Port of San Francisco.
A series of unfortunate events hit Anchor Brewing, including
the death of Ernst Baruth, the devastating earthquake and fire
of 1907, and of course Prohibition in 1920. Between the repeal
of Prohibition in 1933 and 1965 Anchor Brewing saw its share of
change, but in 1965 a new era started at Anchor, known as the
Maytag Era.

It was in 1965 that Fritz Maytag, upon hearing of the planned
final closing of the storied brewery that he loved, decided to
purchase a majority stake in the brewery in an attempt to keep
the doors open and improve on the beer Anchor brewed.
In 1971, 100 years after Gottlieb founded the original brewery
on Pacific, Fritz Maytag started brewing what would become
the most recognizable beer produced by Anchor still today:
Anchor Steam Beer. Even though nobody knew what a microbrewery
or craft beer was at the time, it was pretty evident that
Fritz and Anchor were on to something pretty amazing, and
were leading a revolution in brewing that was far from the light
lagers that were popular at the time.

Jump ahead to 1984 and Anchor Brewing releases the first
wheat beer produced in the United States since Prohibition
to celebrate their 5th anniversary. Jump ahead even further to
1993 and we find another first for Anchor with the opening of
their in-house distillery at the brewery; a first of its kind in the

Today Anchor Brewing Co. is one of the most traditional breweries
in the United States, producing one of the few remaining
versions of the California Common, also known as Steam Beer.
Anchor’s beers are still brewed in handmade copper vessels in
their San Francisco brew house with the same level of care that
Fritz Maytag brought to Anchor nearly 50 years ago.

Year Round Beers
Anchor Steam
The beer that started it all for Anchor, Steam takes its name
from a nickname beers brewed on the west coast in the 19th
century were given thanks to the lack of ice during brewing and
the often warm conditions they were brewed in. Much like the
name of the brewery itself, the actual source of the Steam nickname
isn’t clear, but it’s believed that it comes from the cooling
of fermenting beer on San Francisco rooftops by the cool night
air, creating a steam that rose from the warm beer.
Steam was at one time a nickname for all beer coming from
the West Coast, but today it’s a trademark of Anchor Brewing
Company and only applies to this great beer.
Anchor Steam Beer is a 4.9% ale that smells of rich, semisweet
malt with a bready, biscuity aroma paired with a slight
hint of citrus. The taste can be described as slight caramel with
a touch of citrus and the same buscuity malt character found in
the aroma.

Overall Anchor Steam Beer is a great, easy-drinking beer that
is well balanced, not too bitter, and has more than enough flavor
to never be considered boring or overdone.

Starting in 1849 the hoppy and delicious IPAs from England
started making their way to the West Coast by way of San Francisco
and while the gold rushers loved the refreshing bitter beer,
it wasn’t until 1975 that Anchor started the tried and true act of
only a year old, but off to a great start. Anchor IPA is 6.5%
ABV and offers a great West Coast hop kick while keeping the
malt profile nice and balanced.

California Lager
Anchor’s California Lager was first brewed in 2012, but its
roots go all the way back to the beginning of the brewery and
the Gold Rush. Made after California’s first genuine lager,
brewed by Boca Brewing in 1876, Anchor’s version is a recreation
of this historic beer.

While Anchor’s version isn’t cooled in a mountain ice pond
like Boca’s version was, it’s still a true to the original version
that will surprise you.

The first thing you’ll notice with this beer is the aroma, which
is extremely floral, with some hop character showing through.
The taste features crisp citrus notes with a strong, yet very
drinkable bitterness that moves to the grassy, earthy category.
California Lager has a dry finish that leaves a slight yeasty
taste that is not unpleasant. California Lager is an excellent
version of an American Pale Lager that has enough character
to stand on its own, while still perfect for pairing with a variety
of foods.

Liberty Ale
Liberty Ale was first brewed on April 18th, 1975 to celebrate
the 200th anniversary of Paul Revere’s historic midnight ride,
and it’s still being made today. Liberty Ale is a 5.9% ABV ale
that’s made with whole cone hops and is also dry hopped to
create a delicate yet satisfying taste that makes this American
IPA surprisingly easy to drink.

The aroma of Liberty Ale features citrus in the forefront with
some bready, yeasty characteristics in the background. The
taste can be described as having pear and grapefruit present
with a balance of malt and bitterness. Liberty Ale is naturally
carbonated, which gives the beer a unique higher than normal
fizziness and unique mouthfeel.
Craft Originals Variety Pack
Can’t decide on what beer to get? Check out the Craft Originals
Variety Pack. In it, you’ll get Anchor Steam Beer, Anchor
Porter, Liberty Ale, and Summer Wheat.

Seasonal Beers
Along with the year-round beers offered by Anchor, they
also offer a seasonal beer for each time of the year.
Spring Saison – This beer is light, fresh, and spicy. Coming
in at 7.2% it has a little kick to match up with the spiciness
of a true Belgian saison.

Summer Wheat – The currently in-season seasonal, Summer
Wheat is perfect in the can or bottle and is easily one
of the most refreshing beers offered by Anchor. A wheat
beer that comes in at 4.5% ABV, it’s light, fresh, and just
what you need for a hot summer day.

Autumn Red Ale
When fall rolls around the calendar again, slightly darker
and maltier beers are just what we need to stay warm.
Autumn Red Ale from Anchor is a 6% ABV red ale that first
saw the light of day in 2013. Malty with a nice hop profile,
Autumn Red is meant for the fall.

Christmas Ale
The tried and true Anchor Christmas ale is a great yet mysterious
winter ale. Each year there’s a new tree on the label
and a new beer in the bottle. Nobody but the brewer knows
exactly what the beer will be each year, but it’s a pretty safe
bet that it’ll be great.

Winter Wheat (new)
The newest of the seasonal beers offered by Anchor, Winter
Wheat is a dark wheat beer that comes in at 7%. Made for
cold winter months, Winter Wheat is malty with hops present
in the background. This beer is earthy, woody, and perfectly
what you need to warm up on a cold night.

Anchor Brewing Co. is proudly distributed by rank B. Fuhrer
Wholesale throughout the Pittsburgh area.

Gaucho Parrilla Argentina

Icon Written by admin on June 26, 2015 – 2:50 pm

By SuperMonkey
Hands down my new favorite place to eat is Gaucho Parrilla Argentina located in the Strip directly on the corner next to the 16th Street Bridge at 1607 Penn Avenue. Originally opening next door in 2013, in a very small space, (originally a small kitchen with a counter for taking orders, a couple bar stools, and some places to sit outside, weather permitting.) With the huge success of this small little restaurant, Anthony Falcon, Head Chef and Owner decided to double down in life and move into a newly renovated beautiful location, right next door. The restaurant is now double the size of its original dining room and includes more countertop seating as well as tables and chairs in the front and back dining rooms. Gaucho plans on adding a lounge in the back of the building once it secures a liquor license. For now, its BYOB with no corkage charge.
Gaucho has continually received rave reviews from food critics and foodies, which has built them an extremely loyal customer base. Yelp just recently named Gaucho Parrilla Argentia, Pittsburgh as one of the Top 100 Best Places to Eat in the U.S. and placed Gaucho in the Top Ten ranking them at Number 7 in the whole country. Congratulations for this well-deserved honor.

If you have not been to Gaucho then you need to get with the program and find out what you’ve been missing! Unless of course, you have something against the most succulent, tender, juicy, flavorful, wood fired meat in Pittsburgh. Then stay home, more delicious meat and delectable offerings for the rest of us. I’m just kidding, of course! Gaucho isn’t just meat; they offer something for everyone with grilled veggies, chicken, seafood, fish, salads and so much more. Plus, most menu entrees come with sides and are offered in sizes, small and large.
My favorite item on the menu is definitely the Bandiola Con Pan Pork Sandwich (I’ve tried to try other things when I’m ordering, but it’s so good it just begs to be ordered again and again.) Let’s start with the bread. Fire-toasted Ciabatta bread, just crispy enough to have that great sandwich crunch, and gets a little soft and stays crispy while soaking up all the delicious juice. You know you love it the savory taste of meat juices and it would be such a shame to waste them. Bandiola Con Pan is slow wood fired pork shoulder roasted with onions, carrots, and celery until it is literally so tender it falls apart. This tender, juicy succulent pork shoulder is piled high and then they add a nice layer of spicy Dijon mustard and caramelized onions. When you bite into it, it’s a flavor explosion of everything that makes Gaucho so successful. You can taste the passion in Anthony’s culinary art and this guy is a Culinary Rock Star. Creating a great menu is like creating a great piece of art. When you are passionate about something, it shows. You can tell that Anthony has put his heart and soul into Gaucho because his food is art you can eat. Absolute perfection! I have to tell you about the Mona Lisa of meat. The Gaucho Steak Burger. It’s not really a burger per say, but more a mountain of juicy, tender, perfectly seasoned wood grilled chopped steak. You get to pick two toppings for your 100% beef patty like provolone, bacon, asparagus, or mushrooms. It’s now my new favorite thing to eat at Gaucho. It used to be the Bandiola Pork Sandwich but after sampling the Gaucho Steak Burger I have to say this might be the best burger in Pittsburgh. I really don’t even eat burgers; however, I can really crush a Gaucho Steak Burger on command. That’s how seriously good it is.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the other menu items, like the Camarones, (shrimp). Gaucho uses white tiger shrimp and grills them on a cast iron skillet with olive oil, fresh rosemary, salt, pepper, and grilled lemon. They smell as delicious as they taste. Don’t waste your time trying to go to the market, clean the shrimp, prepping to try and replicate this amazing dish, just go to Gaucho for shrimp that will make you come back for more.. Perfection, that’s Gaucho’s secret.

Gaucho also offers delectable sides like Gaucho Papas, or roasted potatoes ($3) it’s the right side dish to accompany any of their great meals. Papas are roasted with a blend of fresh rosemary, thyme, garlic, salt, pepper, and paprika. These same potatoes make up the Papas Cuna (Ku-na) which is an Argentinian style potato salad. It’s mixed with fresh oregano, feta, mayo, and pickled red onion. Served chilled, it’s a definite must try side. Other sides include, saffron yellow rice ($3), maiz (roasted corn on the cob, $2), grilled vegetables (zucchini, peppers, onions, tomatoes, portobello and grass ($7 small – $11 large) plus many other daily offerings. I have to mention the Provoletta Pequeños which takes an Argentine approach to grilled cheese. They grill sharp, dry aged provolone with fresh oregano, and serve it on tostado (grilled toast) topped with fresh arugula, lemon, olive oil, and Kalamata olive. It’s addicting, just like everything I’ve tried at Gaucho Parrilla Argentina.

The menu is hand scrawled daily on chalkboards. Offerings are sectioned into categories; small plates like empanadas, grilled potatoes and sides; meats that include five cuts of steak: ribeye, skirt, flank, New York strip and filet mignon; pig (pork), lamb, chicken; sandwiches that feature chorizo (sausage) and seafood, mussels, shrimp, clams, calamari and fish; salads to which you can add any meat if desired are always available. Gaucho also offers larger plates for those with big appetites, like a sampler platter consisting of all five cuts of steak, enough for 5 or one meat loving man or woman!

Each dish can be enhanced by the condiments featured on the wood-block table in the center of the indoor dining space. All four sauces — the Chimmi Churri, Pimenton, Ajo and Cebolla — are olive-oil based. Fresh herbs and notes of garlic, charred pepper and vinegar differentiate between the four sauces. Be sure and sample some of each to determine your favorite. Trust me, that could prove to be a real challenge… picking just one!

Anthony told us that he feels the context of eating out is changing, it’s becoming about going to a small, little restaurant, having high-quality food cooked by high-quality cooks, without the pretentiousness of a dining room table, silverware, and chandeliers. It’s cutting-edge.
Gaucho is definitely top-notch and the food is perfection… so based upon or experience and its recent prestigious award, we vote Gaucho Parrilla Argentina the Number One place in Pittsburgh to dine! For rock star food, service and overall experience it’s Gaucho hands down. This is definitely a must dine at restaurant!
Gaucho Parrilla Argentina is located at 1607 Penn Ave on the corner of 16th and Penn Avenue in the Strip, open Tuesday thru Saturday 11am-7pm.

Freedom in a Bottle: Yards Brewing Ales of the Revolution

Icon Written by admin on May 31, 2015 – 7:11 pm

Four score and far more than seven pints ago our forefathers, much like many of us, brewed their own beer. While planning the revolution that brought us the freedown we have today, our founding fathers enjoyed their fair share of ale. The founding fathers are most notably known for, well, founding a nation and a way of life for generations to come but their love of beer was as inherent in them as their belief that we should be free from Colonial England.

For example, after Thomas Jefferson stepped down from his life of public service he actually started making beer himself, taking over the duty from none other than his wife Martha. Jefferson brewed and bottled his first batch of beer at his home of Monticello in 1812, making him one of the earliest homebrewers in the new nation!

Along with plans for battles and ideas for running the United States of America as its first leader, George Washington kept a beer journal, too. This journal had brewing notes and methods for brewing in all types of weather. One of the most famous beer recipes alive today is the one Washington recorded for making small beer.

The examples go on, but the idea remains the same: beer is so closely tied with the start of our nation that it’s as much a part of the USA as apple pie, chopped down cherry trees, and of course freedom. Brewing in the time of Washington and Jefferson was surprisingly similar to how it’s done today, with some obvious improvements in technology helping us to make much better and more consistent beer.

To celebrate the love our founding fathers had for beer, Yards Brewing, located in our nation’s original capital of Philadelphia, PA, came up with their Ales of the Revolution series. Comprised of three different beers, the Ales of the Revolution pay homage to the beers these first leaders of the nation by making modern versions of these historic beers using ingredients from the original beer recipes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin.

Created in partnership with Philadelphia’s City Tavern, a favorite bar of our founding fathers, the Ales of the Revolution showcase some unique beers that are just as good today as they were in the time of Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin.

General Washington’s Tavern Porter

General Washington sent quite a few pieces of communication to his officers, but one of these came in the form of a description of a specific style of beer and how to brew it. Using molasses to aid in fermentation and taste, Washington made his porter to resemble those found in Philadelphia at the time. Washington’s Tavern Porter is dark, smooth, with just a hint of dried fruit on the finish. Coming in at 7% ABV, Tavern Porter is an amazing beer that pays homage to our first president and his love of all things beer.

Poor Richard’s Tavern Spruce

Benjamin Franklin had a favorite recipe for beer that included barley, molasses, and oddly enough, spruce. When used in beer, spruce can lend floral, citrusy flavors that can lean towards the resinous and piney, depending on use. While the idea of a pine tree in your beer may seem odd, remember that much like hops, spruce has been used for hundreds of years as a botanical spice, even being used as a source of vitamin C to ward off scurvy during the winter.

Poor Richard’s Tavern Spruce is a highly approachable amber ale that uses blue spruce clippings from a local organic farmer that are steeped in the kettle during brewing. It’s been said that this recipe came about when hops were cut off from England during the war, this was Franklin’s attempt at an IPA without hops (even though there are hops used in this version today). Tavern Spruce comes in at 5% ABV and is considered a Spice Ale or Indigenous Ale, and even won a bronze medal two years ago at the Great American Beer Festival for Indigenous Ales and another bronze last year for historic beers. The beer is complex with a light spruce flavor and aroma. If you haven’t tried a spruce beer before, this should definitely be your first. You’ll be surprised how well spruce pairs with beer.

Thomas Jefferson’s Tavern Ale

Thomas Jefferson made sure that beer was served at every dinner as a “table liquor.” Jefferson was so enthralled with beer that his earliest plans for his home at Monticello included specific spaces for brewing and storing beer.

Jefferson considered brewing beer a scientific pursuit, which showed in his dedication to the craft. Jefferson considered beer to be ubiquitous with life, keeping it a part of his home and his daily activities. While the beer he consumed daily was a “small beer” of lower ABV than is common today, this was done more for the want to consume it often than an inability to make higher gravity brews.

Much like any successful homebrewer, Jefferson’s neighbors soon started asking for his recipes and methods for brewing, and James Madison even sent someone from his staff to learn the Monticello way of brewing to bring back home with him.

While stronger than Jefferson’s table beer, Yards’ Tavern Ale still pays homage to this early brewer and founding father. Tavern Ale comes in at 8% ABV and is considered a strong golden ale. The brewmaster for Yards worked closely with Philadelphia’s historic City Tavern to recreate Jefferson’s recipe for us to enjoy today. Brewmaster Tom Kehoe chose honey, flaked maize, rye malt, and American hops to make this beer an amazingly unique and refreshing lesson in our nation’s history.

Variety Pack

With beers this unique and amazing, it can be hard to choose only one. This is why Yards Brewing has their Ales of the Revolution variety pack. The variety pack comes in the 12-pack variety and has four of each of the Ales of the Revolution included. Pair two of these together and you’ve got a history lesson in a case.

Our founding fathers believed in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and each believed that these three necessities are all found in beer. What better way to celebrate the founding of our nation on July 4th than with beers that are directly tied with those great men that helped our nation stand up for ourselves and demand freedom.

Yards Brewing is proudly distributed in and around Pittsburgh by Frank B. Fuhrer Wholesale.

Cedar Point – Hotel Breakers

Icon Written by admin on May 31, 2015 – 7:10 pm

Cedar Point… …………………. Hotel Breakers

May 2015 marked the debut of the newly-renovated Hotel Breakers located along the mile-long Cedar Point Beach. Hotel Breakers completed its two-year transformation into the ultimate resort destination. It took two years to re-style, re-imagine and totally refresh and completely refurbish from the ground up the entire hotel. During the remodeling they added a new exterior along with a total modernization of the entire hotel. Hotel Breakers added a new elegant entrance portal. The hotel features classic interior finishes, newly-furnished and remodeled rooms. All guest room are now equipped with LCD TV’s, new furniture, all brand new bedding and fabulous décor. Plus each guest room features a dorm-sized refrigerator and microwave. Complimentary Wi-FI and fitness room are also available.

Guests will find a comfortable, social setting inside the five-story rotunda that now is home to a full-service Starbucks and a refreshing new Surf Lounge Bar with a patio. The rotunda space has been transformed to house an expanded exterior green space with spectacular panoramic views of Lake Erie and an outdoor water play area with zero depth entry and splash features. The popular favorites of TGI Friday’s, Perkins and TOMO Hibachi Grill will continue to be available. Hotel Breakers at Cedar Point the perfect place for families, or anyone looking for that special “get away!”

The outdoor pool deck was expanded to include a water play area with zero-depth entry, a hot tub plus new deck chairs and umbrellas (outdoor pool areas open Memorial Day Weekend).

“We want to provide a well-rounded and complete vacation experience for our guests, and the enhancements at the Hotel Breakers will help them have just that,” said Jason McClure. “It will have a fun and fresh feel, is steps away from the park and it’s a great place to start new family traditions.”

Just as their guests arrived 110 years ago by train and ferry, they were looking for the same thing as guests are looking for in 2015 – a place to share time with family and friends. While the skyline of the park has changed over the 110 year history of the Hotel Breakers, their commitment to service hasn’t.

Located just steps away from Cedar Point, The Roller Coaster Capital of the World!, the park’s signature Hotel Breakers is the perfect place to stay after a perfect day.
Other amenities include two pools and Jacuzzis, access to the Cedar Point Beach and Boardwalk, a gift shop, arcade, exercise room, three restaurants, Early Entry (access to some of the biggest rides and coasters before the park opens to the general public), discounted Cedar Point admission tickets, complimentary Wi-Fi and the comfort and convenience of staying right next to the rides and roller coasters of Cedar Point..

The charming waterfront hotel first opened its doors in 1905 as the “largest and greatest hotel on the Great Lakes.” Known for its breathtaking views and cool summer breezes, Hotel Breakers has been an important part of any complete Cedar Point experience. Notable guests over the years have included celebrities such as sharpshooter Annie Oakley, comedians Abbott and Costello, composer John Philip Sousa and six U.S. presidents, including Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Located on a sandy peninsula along the shore of Lake Erie, Cedar Point has been named as one of the best amusement parks in the world by USA Today, TripAdvisor, The Travel Channel and more. Cedar Point’s amazing lineup of roller coasters has received top billing by CBS News, Time magazine, the Los Angeles Times and many more.
Whether you will be visiting for the first time or the fiftieth, we are confident you will enjoy your stay on the shores of Lake Erie at Cedar Point’s Hotel Breakers.

Reservations for the 2015 season can be placed online at or by phone at (419) 627-2106

Heavy Seas Beer

Icon Written by admin on May 31, 2015 – 7:07 pm

Set Sail With Heavy Seas Beer

The story of Heavy Seas Beer started back in 1994 when would-be founder Hugh Sisson left his family owned and operated brewpub to focus on larger scale brewing. In 1995 he founded Clipper City Brewing Company in Baltimore, Maryland. The Clipper City brewery focused primarily on those in and around Baltimore with both recipes and branding, as the clipper ship was first constructed in Baltimore, so they’re pretty big fans of them there.

Fast-forward to 2003 and Clipper City Brewing is having a difficult time selling beer too far from their home base in Baltimore, primarily due to their insular branding. So what does this have to do with Heavy Seas Beer? Well, in 2003 Clipper City decided to add a new lineup of beers to their portfolio with their Heavy Seas brand. The brand was specifically created to house the brewery’s higher-gravity beers so they could be easily picked out. The brand was widely popular and in 2010, Sisson decided to re-brand the entire Clipper City lineup as Heavy Seas Beer. The Clipper City beers that made the jump include Heavy Seas Gold Ale, Powder Monkey Pale Ale, and Cutlass Amber Lager.

Jump ahead to today, and Heavy Seas Beer is a strong and multi-faceted brand that includes beers that run the gamut from low to high, light to dark, and strong to balanced in taste. In short, there’s a beer for everyone in their lineup.

Smooth Sail Summer Ale

With warm weather on the horizon, it’s time for the summer ales to make their yearly appearance yet again. Heavy Seas is launching a new summer ale this year with Smooth Sail.

Smooth Sail is a wheat ale that’s brewed with orange and lemon peel, and was brewed to give the beer an airy mouthfeel and a nice frothy head. Brewmaster Chris Leonard says they employed a neutral strain of wheat yeast to produce a clean tasting beer that’s delicate on the palate. In short, it’s light, slightly hoppy, and citrusy to give you an amazingly refreshing summer beer, and at 4.5% ABV, it’s easy to have a few while sitting on the porch and enjoying the nicer weather.

Cross Bones Session IPA

A hot new trend this year is the session IPA. These beers have all the hop flavor and aroma you love but with a lower ABV rating so you can enjoy a few in a row. Crossbones is Heavy Seas’ first new year-round beer since 2003, which means they put a lot of work into making sure this one is perfect.

This sessionable IPA comes in at 4.5% ABV and features floral and citrus hop aroma with citrus and a malt backbone to round out the flavor. While the hops in this beer might be a secret blend, Heavy Seas uses six different malts to achieve the perfect flavor and body for this beer. Cross Bones is also now available in 12 oz. cans.

Loose Cannon American IPA

You’d expect the flagship beer for a brewery to be pretty amazing, and Loose Cannon delivers on this in strides. This 7.25% ABV beer has an intense hop aroma thanks to Simcoe, Palisade, and Centennial hops, which give the beer a mix of grapefruit, herbs, and pine.

Loose Cannon doesn’t over-do it with bitterness, keeping it at a respectful 45 IBUs, which makes the beer easy to drink without having your palate worn out. Loose Cannon is hopped three times during the brewing process, including in the boil, the hopback, and in the fermenter. All of this together makes Loose Cannon a top-notch American IPA that needs tried to be believed. Loose Cannon is available in cans as well as bottles.

Double Cannon Double IPA

Sometimes bigger is better, and when talking about Double Cannon from Heavy Seas this couldn’t be more true. Double Cannon is a double IPA that comes in at 9.5% ABV and features a huge hop aroma and flavor thanks to an insane amount of dry-hopping. The grain bill and alcohol content helps to add a touch of sweetness to this beer while keeping it well balanced.

Double Cannon actually uses the same malt recipe proportions as Loose Cannon, just kicked up a few notches, and the hop bill is doubled. Consider this a bigger, meaner version of Loose Cannon that’s still approachable and a solid beer without going over the top. Double Cannon is the current seasonal beer from Heavy Seas, so make sure to get it while you can!

Small Craft Warning Über Pils

Pilsners are known for their drinkability and balance, which is why Small Craft Warning Über Pils is so fresh and so clean. This 7% Pilsner uses Warrior, Palisade, French Strisselspalt, Saaz, Simcoe, and Cascade hops to make a beer that’s somehow both complex yet simple.

Über Pils is crisp, slightly sweet, and features a strong malt backbone to balance things out and make it perfect for just about any season.

The Sunken Sampler

Up for a little variety? Heavy Seas sells their Sunken Sampler for just this reason. Basically, the Sunken Sampler consists of four of their beers in either 12 or 24-packs. One of these four is their rotating seasonal with the remainder consisting of their year-round offerings.

If variety is what you’re looking for, then the Sunken Sampler is for you.

Uncharted Waters Series

The most interesting and creative offerings from Heavy Seas is definitely their Uncharted Waters line. These beers all feature some influence from wood and are all generally pretty big beers. You can find the Uncharted Waters beers in 22-oz bottles as well as on draft.

The Uncharted Waters lineup includes:

Phantom Ship – A 9.5% ABV Belgian-style tripel aged in bourbon barrels

Red Sky at Morning – A 9% ABV Belgian-style saison aged in Chardonnay barrels

Blackbeard’s Breakfast – A 10% ABV imperial coffee porter aged in bourbon barrels

Siren Noire – A 9.5% ABV imperial chocolate stout aged in bourbon barrels

Desert Island Series

The Desert Island series from Heavy Seas is a series of draft-only beers that were made to give the brewers at Heavy Seas some freedom while giving us some amazing beer.

The idea is simple: What beer would you brew if it were the only one you could take with you to a desert island? Basic nourishment aside, this idea gave the brewers the ability to make a beer they each truly wanted to make. Each beer is limited to 100 barrels, making each extremely limited, so if you see these on tap, make sure to try it ASAP.


Real ale originally came from a cask that held one firkin of beer in it. Today, we call these either casks or firkins, but whatever you call them, Heavy Seas is dedicated to serving the best there is.

Heavy Seas actually offers bars the ability to make their own casks by choosing the beer they want, the hops they want added, any wood they want, and even some spices like peppercorns or vanilla beans. Looking at their chart, we’re pretty sure we want a Loose Cannon with some Cascade hops and lemon zest. Sounds amazing!

Heavy Seas Beer is proudly distributed in and around the Pittsburgh area by Vecenie Distributing.

Year-Round Hoppy IPAs For Cold Winter Months

Icon Written by admin on December 31, 2014 – 3:36 pm

Year-Round Hoppy IPAs For Cold Winter Months

Much like the sky at 6 PM in the middle of winter, beers in the winter tend to be dark and cold. This doesn’t mean that every beer available in the colder months must be this way though. While there’s a huge variety of darker beers available that range in taste from bitter to sweet to weird and wild, you’ll also find an abundance of hoppy IPAs, too. Fresh, crisp, and with a healthy dose of bitterness these IPAs do their own job of pushing the winter blues away and bring with them thoughts of warmer months.

To help you see how amazing a great IPA can be in the wintertime, we worked with our friends at Frank B. Fuhrer Wholesale to come up with a list of some of the best IPAs you can get. While these aren’t exactly what’s known as a Winter IPA, these beers are available all year so the ones you start liking when it’s cold out will still be available when things warm up. These standards of the hophead’s world are each uniquely bitter and all are very different from one another, making your choice simple: get one of each and call it a winter.

21st Amendment Brewery – Brew Free or Die IPA

Since 2000 San Francisco-based 21st Amendment Brewery has been producing some of the best beers in the country. The brewery is named after one of our favorite amendments, the one that allowed the US to drink once again after the tough years of Prohibition. The guys at 21st Amendment decided they wanted to do things a little differently than the rest of the craft breweries that were opening their doors and from day one every beer they produced was canned instead of bottled.

The can helps to protect the beer from oxygen that can seep around a cap and most importantly it keeps light from striking the beer, which causes a beer to skunk and a flavorful hop profile to be squashed. Cans cost less to ship, get cold quicker, and store in our fridge more easily.

21st Amendment’s featured year-round IPA is a perfect example of a west coast IPA in every way. Brew Free or Die IPA is a 7% ABV American IPA that’s brewed with two-row Pale malt with Munich and Light Crystal to give the final beer some serious character. Columbus hops are used for bittering, and Cascade and Centennial hops are used to finish the beer out and give it that amazing west coast IPA profile you love. Brew Free or Die IPA is 21st Amendment’s best-selling beer for a very good reason, and all it takes is one to see what we’re talking about.

Brooklyn Brewery – East IPA

When it comes to IPAs, there are two main categories: American and English. Generally each is brewed with hops and malts from their respective countries and for the most part, American IPAs tend to be hugely bitter with a ton of hop character while English IPAs tend to be more balanced and focused on the malt with enough hops present to even things out.

Brooklyn Brewery out of, you guessed it, Brooklyn, New York didn’t like this exacting split and decided to do something about it. Their 6.9% ABV East IPA is a combination of American and English IPAs with a definite favoring to the English side. Brooklyn combines American hops like Centennial and Willamette with British beauties East Kent Golding and Northdown to give you a beer that’s firm with its bitterness but still clean, drinkable and perfect for pairing.

Church Brew Works – Thunderhop IPA

So what happens when a church stops being a church? Well, you can go the 21 Jump Street route and turn it into a secret base for your undercover police force, or you can make it into one of the most interesting breweries you’ll find anywhere.

The Church Brew Works, located on Liberty Avenue just up from the main street of Lawrenceville makes some pretty great beer in an environment that’s amazing to see. With beer brewed on the now defunct pulpit to a confessional that now houses their liquor, The Church Brew Works is a site to behold for sure.

One of the most popular year-round beers from Church is their Thunderhop IPA. This beer that draws it’s name and logo from another type of god Zeus is something the God of Thunder would be proud to share a name with. Thunderhop features intense bitterness with a slight malty backbone. Far from balanced, this hugely hoppy 6.5% ABV beer uses nearly 3 pounds of Australian Galaxy and American Chinook per barrel, which means you’ll get a heavy dose of pine, citrus, and earthy aromas and flavors.

Deschutes Brewery – Fresh Squeezed IPA

If only it were as easy as squeezing hops to get an IPA out we’d all have hop fields in our back yards. While it’s definitely not as easy as squeezing an orange for orange juice, Deschutes Brewery’s Fresh Squeezed IPA tastes like that’s exactly how it was made.

Finally available year-round, this IPA from the Oregon brewer features a distinct citrus profile that’s thanks to the Citra, Mosaic, and Nugget hops that are used in the brewing process. These three hops combined give Fresh Squeezed that fresh off the bine taste and profile that makes it refreshing, no matter what the temperature is outside.

Coming in at 6.4% ABV, Fresh Squeezed IPA has just enough alcohol to make you nice and warm but is low enough to allow you to have a few.

Deschutes Brewery was founded all the way back in 1988 when craft brewing was just known as making great beer and the popularity of craft beer we have today wasn’t even a dream. Since then Deschutes has been making some of the best beer in the country using fresh ingredients and a dedication to great craft beer.

Flying Dog Brewery – Raging Bitch IPA

If you’re a sucker for a good story then the founding of Flying Dog Brewery is one you need to know. Founded in 1990 by George Stranahan in Aspen, Colorado, the Flying Dog Brewpub took it’s name from an expedition Stranahan took in 1983 to climb the famous and deadly K2 in the Himalayas. The entire party returned unharmed and upon enjoying a drink at their hotel he saw a painting with what looked like a flying dog in it. This story stuck with George and when it came time to found his brewpub he realized there couldn’t be a better name or story to go behind it.

Flying Dog made their move to their current home in Frederick, Maryland in 2008 and since then has been producing some of the best beer available. One last interesting piece of the Flying Dog story is the label artwork. Stranahan was good friends with the Hunter Thompson, the author and Gonzo journalist as well as Thompson’s friend and artist Ralph Steadman. The artwork for Flying Dog labels may be thought of as an interpretation or imitation of his artwork, but in actuality Steadman has created the artwork for each Flying Dog label.

Just like their story and the artwork applied to each can and bottle, if you’re looking for something different in the world of IPAs, then we’ve got just the dog for you. Raging Bitch is a combination of an American IPA and a Belgian pale ale that works amazingly well.

Starting on the American side of things, Flying Dog uses Warrior, Columbus, and Amarillo hops for a strong hop profile and bitterness. This combined with the Caramel malt that they use for a specialty malt gives the beer a hefty profile and medium mouthfeel that helps to support the huge 8.3% ABV.

As for the Belgian side, strong Belgian yeast is used to give the beer a unique funk that can only come from the Belgians. When you pour this beer expect to see a big fluffy head of white foam and a cloudy complexion. Bitter, fruity, and a little funky, Raging Bitch is always interesting from the order to the last sip.

Left Hand Brewing – 400 Pound Monkey

If you like your IPAs a little more balanced, then the wildly named 400 Pound Monkey is perfect for you. This beer from Left Hand Brewing is an English-style IPA that comes in at 6.8% ABV and features an earthy, herbal hop profile that’s balanced out with bready malt.

The brewers at Left Hand use Magnum, Boadicea, and Sovereign hops to make 400 Pound Monkey a beer that’s less a hop bomb and more a medley of flavors that give their thanks to the small cone-shaped flowers. Pale 2-row, Crystal, and Munich malts as well as malted wheat give this beer a medium body and mouthfeel that make the tastes stand out all that much more.

Long Trail Brewing Company – Limbo Double IPA

By now you probably think everything that can be done to make an IPA unique has been done. There’s black IPAs, white IPAs, Belgian IPAs, and even Lambic IPAs (not common, but they exist) out there, making the IPA a pretty tried and true style.

While there’s a lot that’s already been done and just about every hop that’s been used, there’s always room for something new. Take for example Limbo IPA from Long Trail Brewing Company. Limbo is new in two ways. First, it’s made using a brand new breed of hops coming from Australia and the Pacific Northwest and second, it started it’s life on Long Trail’s Pilot Facility brewery.

This beer is hugely bitter and nicely warming at 7.6% ABV. Limbo has a great floral and resiny hop aroma with a little caramel from the malt hiding in there as well. On first taste you’ll notice some roasted malts and a floral hop presence that finishes with a nice dose of bitterness.

Rogue Brewing – Brutal IPA

Listed as a non-traditional IPA, this big citrusy beer uses Alluvial hops right from their own Rogue Farms, Brutal IPA is actually a somewhat misnamed beer. While there is definitely a healthy dose of bitterness in Brutal, the beer is actually pretty well balanced with 2-row, Carawheat, and C15 malts as well as Dare and Risk malts from the Rogue farms. These give the beer a medium body and help to balance out the citrus hop flavors to leave you with an amazing beer that’s far from brutal, in a very good way.

Brutal is described as a cross between a Very Extra Special Bitter and an American IPA, giving the beer a robust and complex taste that’s bitter, full of hop aroma and flavor, and all around great. Brutal is a great beer for dabblers in the hop world as well as full-blown hopheads alike, just don’t let the name scare you.

Southern Tier Brewing Company – 2XIPA

When people think about beers that are great for colder months, two things come to mind: dark and strong. While 2XIPA from Southern Tier in Lakewood, New York might not be dark, it makes up for that in it’s 8.2% ABV.

2XIPA is one seriously bitter beer but because of this, the brewers at Southern Tier made it with an extra-strong malt backbone so it can easily stand up against the citrus and piney hops that come along with the bitterness.

This beer features four different types of hops and two types of malt for a medium body and a flavor that shouts grapefruit, bitter lemon, and a slightly sweet bread. To help stave off the cold, this beer is best drank at about 45-50*, so you don’t have to hold onto an icy glass while enjoying it.

Yards Brewing – IPA

Our last IPA in this list of year-round IPAs that are great for the winter months comes by the way of Philadelphia. Yards Brewing believes that the home of modern brewing, England, still makes amazing styles of beer and as such should still be consumed. While hugely hoppy and big beers from the west coast are great, sometimes a well-balanced IPA that follows the traditions of our British beer ancestors is a good thing.

While far from a traditional English IPA, Yard’s version uses malts from England along with Chinook and Amarillo hops from the US, this beer comes in at a surprising 7% ABV and is both robust as well as balanced, giving it a truly unique flavor.

Yards IPA is slightly fruity, very aromatic, and bitter enough to match the slightly higher alcohol content. Launched all the way back in 1998, this beer is one that will be around for quite some time.

Each of these IPAs are available year-round in bottles and on draft and are proudly distributed in the Pittsburgh area by Frank B. Fuhrer Wholesale.