Dusting off those Winter Blues

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I have been pretty silent lately. I’ll be honest, there has been a major lack of inspiration for me. It’s winter in Ohio, and I have let it get to me. Thankfully, a couple weekends ago I had a beautiful weekend and I am rejuvenated.

So, what sparked it? I think we all suffer from the winter blues. Balancing my work life, personal life, and this… Whoa! It’s been crazy. Yesterday I threw on my Converse, grabbed my man, and we drove down to Athens Ohio. No plan. No makeup. Something about roaming the streets of my college Alma Matter made me feel alive again.

We stopped at Little Fish first. I know when people think of beer in Athens, they think Jackie O’s. And they should. But, don’t count out Little Fish. They make a killer coffee stout and some pretty tasty sours. What put the wind in my sail was House IPA #4. It was like a citrus explosion in my mouth! It was very crisp and was partnered with a reasonable ABV weighing in at 6.6%. The color was gorgeous, sunshine in a glass, a little hazy. They were rocking a cool bluegrass playlist on Spotify, paired with good conversation.

We hit up another newish spot in Athens called Devil’s Kettle. The owner is a previous winner of the Ohio Brew Week Homebrewers competition. Good beer, friendly folks, but we just couldn’t stay. It was Sunday Funday at Jackie O’s Brewery. They had several bands playing and an art show going on. I had a chocolate stout (Sweet Chocolate Love to be exact) with blueberries called Kinda Blue. How was it you ask…. AMAZING! I’m a sucker for anything blueberry and you throw chocolate in the mix, heaven. It was rich and decadent with just a touch of blueberry. Normally I would say this style of beer is a one and done. Not Kinda Blue! I had two of these bad boys listening to the smooth groove of a local band called Bright at Night. Hold that… Maybe I had three. Don’t judge me, I wasn’t driving.

The weather was beautiful, the beer was delicious, and the music was funky. The perfect day and way to find my mojo. Cheers!

 

Beer is the Reason God Made Oklahoma

Oooooooklahoma! Where the beer goes sweeping cross the plain. Okay, you got me. That is not how the song goes, but maybe it should be. I know that when you think about great beer cities to visit, nowhere in Oklahoma makes the list. All I’m saying is don’t count them out. On a recent trip out west I ventured around to find the best brew in Oklahoma. I was not disappointed.

Do ya feel me Tulsa? First of all… There are a ton of nice people out here. Tell them you tulsapicwrite a beer blog, they are so interested in “why here”? My answer, Prairie Artisan Ales. We can occasionally get some brew from them in Ohio, but we hardly get the really cool stuff. I mean these people make beer for beer people! This brother duo has been producing top of the line beer since 2012. I was lucky enough to be in Oklahoma during the release of Rugby, a 5.4% ABV American pale ale. Oh, it’s good. It may be the perfect pale ale. My personal qualifications of a pale ale is that it is not overtly hoppy and that it has a light and refreshing taste with little aftertaste. Rugby is all of those things. Perfect for a 101 degree day (yeah, it was that hot). On a trip to the liquor store (because in Oklahoma they only sell 3.2% beer at stores and gas stations. You have to get the good stuff at the booze house) I found Prairie Artisan Bomb! Appropriately named, this was a 9% stout made with coffee, chocolate, vanilla, and chili peppers. So that may sound like over kill, but I promise it isn’t. All the flavors stand out and yet blend very well together. There isn’t a lot of heat, just enough to make it interesting and highlights the creaminess of the chocolate and vanilla.

Another great find in Tulsa is James E. Mc Nellie’s Public House. This is a great spot for a bite to eat. They boast 350 beers and counting, and a large selection of them are local. The ambiance is that of your typical Irish themed pub, but there is something special about this place so don’t overlook it if you are in Tulsa or Oklahoma City. The service was great, my turkey burger… delish, and I enjoyed a pint of Marshal Atlas! P.s. Their beer prices were amazing. Taxi!!!

I enjoyed my time in Oklahoma. The people, the scenery, and the beer were all top notch. I was leery to go on this little adventure, I wondered what kind of scene I would find out there. Well, you can find some fantastic brew all over this wonderful country. Tulsa is no exception.

So where should I go next? If you have a favorite beer destination and would like me to visit, drop me an email! tara@hopsandhighheels.com

Beer Brunch in the Queen City

My girlfriends and I are busy people. I know, I know, we all are right. With kids, jobs, and husbands (which should count as kids) it’s hard for us to find time to get together. When we do, beer is in our future. Where we live in Chillicothe there are several cities with a great brewery scene within a short drive. Sunshine, my ladies, and a good brew is a great way to spend a Sunday.

Okay, maybe I’m partial, but I love Cincinnati! Baseball, great shopping, museums, and beer… Oh the beer! If you can’t find a brewery you like here, you may just not like beer. Local microbrews are in virtually in every bar and restaurant. The love for local is spreading, you can even buy craft brew at a Cincinnati Reds game (there is a beer god)!

Cincinnati1Start at Brew River Gastro Pub for the best brunch. This is a New Orleans style restaurant located in Historic East End Cincy. Their patio is the Bomb, and if you like shrimp and grits…DAMN! They have 23 taps, mostly local, and the service is great; ask for Joe he is really cool and knowledgeable about beer. They are a restaurant dedicated to locally sourced ingredients. There is nothing on the menu I wouldn’t eat. My personal favorite, poutine and eggs, a curry beef short rib gravy over fresh cut fries with two eggs and cheese curd. Boom… delicious!
Right across the river in Covington Kentucky, is this great little store called party source. You like booze? This is your Mecca! They have everything you need for great party, or slumber party in hotel room because you are a little to buzzed to drive. Cheeses, party hats, penis straws, and bourbon. You sure know how to get down Kentucky! There beer selection is top notch. I like that they sell a variety of single bottles as well as packages. The beer selection is divided by country, so it is easy to find your favorite styles. When you get to the United States section, they have it separated by state. The best part of Party source….drum roll please…..The brewery inside! Yes I said a brewery. So just in case you get thirsty while shopping for booze, go grab a beer. Ei8ht Ball Brewing makes some super drinkable beer. Want my suggestions (of course you do, why else would you be reading this), Nitro Cankle is an awesome English Pale Ale on nitro. It has a nice rich head, relatable to many beers on nitro. On my last visit to Ei8ht Ball, they were pouring up a pretty killer hefe called Hammock. A little birdie in the know down there said it’s full name is Banana Hammock, which is totally fitting for the slight banana flavor and aroma in the beer. Both beers are full in flavor and while Nitro Cankle packs a punch coming in a 9.5% ABV, Hammock is a mere 5.7%.

Cincinnati2Aside from the brews Ei8ht Ball makes, they also host a wide variety of guest taps. Danny Gold is there beer purchaser and to say he does a great job is an understatement. They host a wide variety of local taps as well as exotic finds, 42 taps in all (I always see 3Flyods here). On my latest trip to party source and Ei8ht Ball I tasted a fantastic porter from Moody Tongue. It was a churro porter. My tongue wasn’t moody, it was singing. It was rich, smooth, a little touch of cinnamon.

A Sunday in Cincy with the ladies is not complete without a stop a Mad Tree. If you live anywhere south of Columbus Mad Tree is everywhere, so why stop there? You are barely scratching the surface of their greatness if you only rely on what you can get in cans at your local beer market. Don’t get me wrong, Lift is a great Kolsch, light and refreshing, it is the perfect “gateway beer”. But with Boysen the Hood a boysenberry wit and Dreamsicle which is lift brewed with vanilla beans and  orange peel, you have to go to the brewery. On our last little adventure there, I had a brown ale made with basil and shitake mushrooms. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

So next time you are sitting around with your group of ladies on Sunday… searching for something fun to do. Jump in the car, turn on Spring Break 1995 on Pandora and drive down to Cincinnati. And when you do, take lots of pictures, I’ll post them to my blog website. Email them to tara@hopsandhighheels.com