Lindsay & Neil’s 5th Annual Pumpkin Beer Tasting

Please enjoy this post from my hubby Neil. 

Every year around this time, Lindsay and I have a pumpkin and seasonal beer tasting party. The size and format of the party has changed just about every year with our first party was just the two of us and it was a healthy mix of pumpkin and seasonal beers. This year we had six adults taking part in the tasting, two observers and a slew of children playing together and having a good time. One thing that is consistent is that we’ve always had some form of rating system for the beers. 

Sourcing the beers to taste is one of the fun (and sometimes tedious) parts of the process. This year, we started collecting beers to sample early on in the season and have been acquiring a beer here and there when something catches our eye. This year was probably the first year that the selection was entirely pumpkin as well. We managed to find a healthy mix of local beers, imports from the East Coast and even a cider. 

Pumpkin Beer Tasting 2014 - 11 Beers

With such a wide selection of beers and a large number of guests, we needed to find a way to adequately supply tasting glasses for everyone.  Early on in the shopping process for the tasting, we had noticed Target had a beer tasting party collection designed by graphic designer and blogger Kate Peters of Wit & Delight. The suggested price of the products was a bit on the expensive side for disposable goods but as the party grew closer, Lindsay was able to find the beer tasting cups and cards and a few other party items for half off in stores. On each tasting card was four different spots to grade the beers you are tasting. The options were “Another” or “Never Again” with some of us adding a third option equated to “I’d drink it for free, but I wouldn’t pay for it.”

Pumpkin Beer Tasting 2014 - Place Setting

Pumpkin Beer Tasting 2014 -places

After some appetizers, we got the tasting under way. We poured four beers at a time and took the time to discuss what we thought of each beer as a group.  The nice thing about pumpkin beers is that they come in an ever growing variety of styles. Love it or hate it, it wasn’t too long ago that it seemed that all of the pumpkin beers on the market were sweet, pumpkin pie spice bombs. It’s nice to see some more balance and moderation in flavor and styles. 

Pumpkin Beer Tasting 2014 - Beer As we made our way through the beers, we had a great time discussing what we thought of the beers and what specifically we liked and disliked about them (as well as giving those who like the least popular ones a hard time of course). 

The results of the voting weren’t really all that surprising. The breweries at the top are known for making great tasting and creative beers. I know my personal favorite was the Dogfish Head Punkin Ale. Punkin managed to fall into the “pumpkin pie” style of beer with out being overwhelmingly sweet or spicy. Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale has consistently been in our top picks for our favorite pumpkin beers since we started doing the tastings. I also enjoyed the New Belgium Pumpkick. The spices weren’t too heavy and the addition of the cranberries in the beer was a nice touch, giving it a slightly tart taste.

The East Coast wholly embraces Autumn’s seasonal beers and why shouldn’t it? Fall in New England is arguably the best season of the year. That being said since moving to the West Coast  we have struggled to find many of our favorite pumpkin/Autumn beers. However there is one brewery that we’ve enjoyed and have found really embraces pumpkin beers on the west coast is Seattle’s Elysian Brewing Company.

Elysian brews up a number of different pumpkin beers every fall and even host a pumpkin beer festival. Their beers have done really well in both of the tastings we’ve had since moving to Portland with Night Owl coming in third this year and first last year.

Elysian’s pumpkin coffee stout Punkuccino (not officially part of the tasting) was Lindsay and my personal favorite this year. It’s made with Stumptown Coffee cold brew, cinnamon and nutmeg. It was incredibly smooth and was basically a pumpkin spice latte in beer form. (Lindsay jumping in here- seriously the best pumpkin beer ever and I’m bummed we couldn’t locate another bottle for our tasting). 

Pumpkin Beer Tasting 2014 - Beers Now on to the losers of this years tasting. The two huge disappointments in the lot were the Burnside Brewing The Dapper Skeleton and the Woodchuck Hard Cider Private Reserve Pumpkin Cider. The Dapper Skeleton just fell flat. The description was just so enticing with the chillies and cocoa nibs but in reality they didn’t add much to the beer.  In the opinion of all but one of our tasters, the Woodchuck Pumpkin Cider was terrible. I don’t think a single person was able to even finish their two ounce pour. I know I took only one sip before dumping it. 

Below is the tally of our votes:

Pumpkin Beer Results 2014

This was our biggest pumpkin/seasonal beer tasting to date and we look forward to carrying on with it for many years to come.  We’re also planning to host more seasonal and themed tasting parties as well as beer pairing dinners in the future. 

What seasonal beer or drink do you look forward to most?

If you like coffee, beer and babies follow Neil on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Also keep an eye out for his new blog Life Brews launching December 2014. 

Fitness Friday | Weekly Workouts & Plans for Next Week

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Happy Friday Friends and Happy Halloween! What is everyone doing to celebrate? We are heading to meet up with friends and take our littles trick-or-treating tonight. Tomorrow night we are hosting our annual pumpkin beer tasting party with a small group of friends. So excited- this is my favorite time of the year!

Okay so let’s talk about the workouts this week….

The Goods.

I started back at running this week and let me tell you it feels good but it hurts so bad. I am having to do runs with the kids in the BOB Dualie or get up early/head out late for a run on the treadmill. This week I have only done runs with the stroller and I forgot how much harder it is and I’m feeling sore in a good way. So I have done two runs (Wednesday & Today).

First Postpartum Dualie Run

I have also been going out for a number of walks with the kids and Neil in the evening. We went out for a Sunday evening and Wednesday evening (and tonight we will as well). I also took the kids on a nice long 3+ mile walk Thursday.

The Bads.

No yoga this week. I just didn’t make it this week and I didn’t do any at home practice.

No strength training this week. I didn’t plan for it and now I am wishing I had because I know I need to do more of it.

Only two runs. I would really like to try for three runs per week. P.S. my weeks are Saturday-Friday for the purpose these of these Fitness Friday posts.

Next Week.

Plans –> three runs, (at least) three evening family walks, one yoga class, and two days of strength training.

What are your fitness goods and bads of the week? What are your plans/goals for next week? 

RECIPE | Kabocha Red Lentil Curry

As soon as I start to feel the weather change I become obsessed with all things soup, stew, curry or chili. I love a pipping hot bowl with a side of warmed bread. I mean really what could be more warming and comforting? While the PNW can’t hold a candle to Vermont/New England in the Fall it still does a pretty good job of charming me. If you can’t tell Fall is my favorite season-side note do you say Fall or Autumn?

Red Lentil Kabocha Curry

Lately I have been whipping up a number of tasty bowls of goodness. My most recent creation was my Kabocha Red Lentil Curry. Seriously this recipe is so good and incredibly easy. It’s filling and nourishing and paired with some warmed naan bread it is a perfect meal.

Kabocha Red Lentil Curry
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  2. 1 medium onion, diced
  3. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  4. 1 tablespoon curry powder
  5. 1 teaspoon salt
  6. 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  7. 4 cups diced kabocha squash
  8. 1 cup dried red lentils
  9. 4 cup water
  10. 1-15oz can lite coconut milk
  11. 1 teaspoon ume plum vinegar
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a medium heavy bottom pot. Add the onion and cook for 5-7 minutes until soft.
  2. Stir in the garlic, curry powder, salt and pepper; cook for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the kabocha, red lentils and water; stir to combine.
  4. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover; cook for 30-40 minutes until kabocha is tender.
  5. Stir in coconut milk and ume vinegar.
  6. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if desired.
Running With Tongs http://runningwithtongs.com/
Besides drowning ourselves in warm bowls of soup (and the like) we have also been enjoying a number of Fall activities including evening walks down leaf covered path ways, a trip to the pumpkin patch and of course pumpkin decorating (I made a pretty awesome gold glittered pumpkin).

ThePumpkinPatch-Edith

 

How have you been enjoying the season? This coming weekend we have our annual pumpkin beer tasting and I can’t wait!

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