Best Beers in America (and an idea)

As a member of the American Homebrewers Association (this is the entity that allows you to buy members’ only tickets to the Great American Beer Festival), I get to vote for the Zymurgy Best Beers in America. Here is my #1 vote.

Renegade Brewing Company, Elevation Triple IPA: This is the best beer in the universe (titles that had been previously held, in my mind, by Oskar Blues G’Knight and Gubna and Green Flash Imperial IPA). It’s like a bushel of hops punched you in the face but then sincerely apologized, shook your hand, and bought you a really good beer. This beer is strong but eminently drinkable, bitter in a nice way, and hoppy beyond belief. If you like IPA you’ll love this.

The good news is that if you’re in Denver, you now can buy this in cans at some liquor stores, including but not limited to Argonaut.

In other news, I’m dealing with something that’s really stressing me out and causing much anxiety, which I’ll obliquely (I’m being honest) tell you about next week. What’s making me feel better is: (1) beer; and (2) planning to do something like this.

Elevation Triple IPA

For our first anniversary, I got . . . sick. I have the horrible cough Soren has had for a while. It’s the kind of cough that hurts your chest and, if you’re me, makes you lose your voice. But enough about that. What I want to tell you about now even though I’m sick and boring is what might be the best beer I’ve ever had in my life. It looks like this.

Elevation Triple IPA

It’s Elevation Triple IPA from Renegade Brewing Co. in Denver. 11.2% ABV/100+ IBU. If you’re not into beer math, 11.2% ABV + 100+ IBU = holy shit. “IBU” stands for “international bittering units,” and the higher the number the more bitter the beer, which is a very good thing if you like hoppy beers, which you do if you’re awesome. Elevation is right up there with Green Flash Imperial IPA and Stone Enjoy by 11/09/12 IPA in terms of exceptionally hoppy, delicious beers.

Please note, as always, this isn’t a sponsored post. This is just me telling you about some awesome beer. Mmmmm beer.

More Stuff I Made

To catch you up on what I’ve been making:

On 10/10, I made pizza dough. I meant to make an actual pizza but got distracted with other stuff like making vet appointments for our 900 dogs. (Protip: If you have a dog with autoimmune issues, watch out for allergic reactions to vaccines. Sadie’s face swelled up like a little dog balloon hours after she got vaccinated. She’s fine but it was kind of nuts.)

On 10/12, I made homemade air freshener, following these instructions (although I just used a hammer and nail to poke holes in the top of the lid instead of replacing it with card stock and used way more essential oil).

homemade air freshener

On 10/13, I went to beer fest and made a list of what I had to drink. That required dedication and goes something like this:

  • Stone Brewing Co. Enjoy By 11/09/12 IPA (Amazing, available only in CO and Ohio for a very limited time.)
  • Cigar City Jai Alai IPA
  • Alaskan Smoked Porter (So good.)
  • Short’s Brewing Co. Beard of Zeus
  • Short’s Brewing Co. Peaches ‘n’ Creme
  • Short’s Brewing Co. Bludgeon Yer Spruce (Not as good as last year’s spruce.)
  • Dad and Dudes Breweria Dank IPA (This does qualify as dank. Very good.)
  • Denver Beer Co. Pueblo Chili Beer
  • Spring House Brewing Co. Planet Bean Coffee Stout
  • Redwood Brewing Co. Cinnamon IPA (Weird.)
  • Sierra Nevada Estate Homegrown Ale
  • Odd Side Ales Derelicte Pineapple IPA (Very weird and very sweet.)
  • Fat Heads Brewery Hop JuJu Imperial IPA
  • River North Brewery Hello, Darkness
  • Green Flash Imperial IPA (x2) (Tied with Gubna/G’Knight for best beer of all time.)
  • Hoppin’ Frog Brewing Co. Frog’s Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale (Good.)
  • Oskar Blues Gubna (Yum.)
  • Moylan’s Brewing Co. HOP CRAIC XXXXIPA (I’m pretty sure I really liked this one.)
  • Pumphouse Brewery Hooligan Double IPA
  • Wynkoop Brewing Co. Colorojo
  • Lumberyard Brewing Co. Lumberyard Big Rapid Red
  • Marble Brewery Imperial Red
  • Port Brewing Co. Hop 15
  • Bell’s Two Hearted Ale (x2) (Please sell this in Colorado.)
  • Mountain Sun Vagabond IPA
  • Breckenridge 471
  • Tap It Brewing Co. IPA (gold winner) (Very good.)

On 10/14 (and this is by far the most exciting thing I’m telling you about today) I made what might be the best bread I’ve ever had and seitan pepperoni. Holy crap.

homemade pepperoni seitan

For the bread, I used this recipe, put all ingredients in the bread machine on the “dough” setting, and then transferred the dough to a loaf pan and baked at 350 for 30 minutes.  I had to add extra flour because the dough was super sticky at first, but that happens all the time. This bread is amazing (super doughy) and everybody loved it.

For the seitan pepperoni, I used this recipe. I know I’ve already said “holy crap,” but holy crap. It is SO easy and SO good and really tastes like pepperoni (or at least what I remember of pepperoni because I haven’t eaten meat in almost 20 years). I followed the recipe exactly and as far as the optional stuff goes, I used tahini instead of cashew butter because that’s what we had and ketchup instead of tomato sauce and omitted the agave nectar. The only adjustments I’d make in the future are first, more salt (lots more salt) and second, I’d add some oil. And that’s it. If you like seitan and/or pepperoni, make this.

Now that I know how to make seitan in baked/log form, which is much easier and more pleasant than boiling it, I feel like I can do anything. I could adjust the seasonings and make something breakfast-sausage-esque. Or turkey-oriented with thyme and sage. Or chorizo-esque. So many possibilities!

Tour de Fat

If you have the chance to go to New Belgium’s Tour de Fat (more info. here — upcoming dates in LA, San Francisco, San Diego, Tempe, and Austin) do it. (Protip: Wear a costume or at the very least a sparkly dress and/or cowboy boots.) Although we missed the bike parade on Sunday because of soccer (or in our case, not soccer), it was still totally awesome. There’s food, good beer, music, entertainment, a little of everything. I’m a big fan of any event where you bring your kid, sit outside, and drink beer, especially when you can bike there.

This child is supposed to be on the soccer field.
Tour de Fat
Tour de Fat
Tour de Fat

Hung Out and Hung Over

MNDRbathroom photoThe Ting Tings

Do you ever have one of those hangovers where you wake up at 5-something and feel it coming, so you get up and drink some water and then go back to bed? You wake up later feeling like full-on shit. You try to go back to sleep but it doesn’t work. After you’ve been failing at getting comfortable in bed for like an hour, the nausea arrives. You lie there, sweating, your head pounding, trying to convince yourself that you’re not going to throw up. Ride it out, you think, as the waves come and go and come again. Eventually you get your sorry ass out of bed and plod, hunched over, to the bathroom, where for once you’re actually thankful that the room is so tiny because you can sit on the side of the bathtub while you vomit, well, nothing, tears streaming down your face, not because you’re really crying but just because that’s how it goes.

Although I talk about drinking beer and being shitfaced all the time, I don’t actually get shitfaced very often. I generally drink beer because I like drinking beer, not because I want to get drunk. Every once in a while, though, I have a little too much.

Last night, this happened before, during, and after The Ting Tings/MNDR show at the Ogden. Two Rangers at home. One Dale’s Pale Ale at Nicolo’s, where some hooches made fun of my dress, which, to tell you the truth, I don’t blame them because their minds were probably blown by its awesomeness because they looked like, well, Broncos fans who are regulars at some hole-in-the-wall with a name involving something drifting, stumbling, or floating inn who are not familiar with the sort of high fashion I bravely (just kidding) sport while out and about in this humble cow town (said dress got rave reviews from fellow concert-goers, so that was nice). Two Lucky U IPAs at the show. A valiant half of a Titan at the Matchbox after the show, where Ben and I sat by the open window and talked about how it used to be Orange Cat, where our mysterious friend Joe mixed once; how the neighborhood has changed (I just looked up reviews of The Matchbox and am LOL for real at the people referring to the area as sketchy or terrible); and about that time we met and went to Minneapolis for our first date (part of what you do when you’re drinking and out without your kid for the first evening in a year is remember when you fell in love in the first place).

Five-and-a-half beers is a lot for me these days, but I didn’t think, stretched out over a period of, what, 7 hours, it was the kind of magnificent drinking that would result in so much hangover. Ben insisted that I eat something and made me a super-greasy breakfast sandwich (whole wheat English muffin, Morningstar Farms “spicy” breakfast “sausage,” sharp cheddar, and lots and lots and lots of butter) and poured me a glass of Coke Zero. I sat across the kitchen island from Soren and took delicate nibbles of my sandwich while he ate oatmeal and cheese (you’d think he was hungover because that’s just weird) and ignored his banana. When sitting upright became too much for me, I retired to the bedroom, where I took one bite of sandwich approximately every 15 minutes until I finally finished it and possibly felt maybe a little tiny bit better.

The stupid thing about a hangover is that it sucks up hours of a perfectly good Sunday (80 degrees! And it’s going to be like 40 tomorrow!) that you should be enjoying. And shit, I missed today’s workout, for the first time in, well, I don’t remember the last time I missed a workout (I’ll make it up later this week). Lame. And it makes you write blog posts about being hungover. Lame!

Those Lazy Beer Drinkers


One of the downsides of living a thousand miles away from all family is that we really don’t get out without Soren very often. Friends offer to babysit, but everybody is always super busy and I hate to ask people to do stuff for us. Good babysitters are very expensive. This is probably horrifying, but since Soren was born (10/2009), Ben and I have been out without him for date-like activities maybe, like, at most, 10 times, and I think I’m overestimating.

We figured out pretty early that the easiest, most cost-effective way to do date-like activities without Soren is to take the day off work, drop Soren off at daycare, and go out during the daytime on a weekday. We did this yesterday (Ben had the day off anyway, because he has one of those jobs that hasn’t seen a holiday it didn’t like).

Yesterday’s date-like activities really brought home the fact that we’re not the exciting party people you might have thought we were. First, I brought Ben to the gym (he is not a gym person) for an exciting treadmill run. Then I had runner’s tummy for about two hours. That was great. Then we finally went to the Great Divide Tap Room for some beer. We’d been wanting to go there forever, but it seemed like the kind of place that isn’t good to bring a toddler. This turned out to be true — it gets very crowded and you might not get a place to sit, plus they don’t have food (they might have beer nuts, but I think that’s it). (Denver Beer Co. is a good option if you want a kid-friendly brewery — adults : beer :: toddlers : fresh giant pretzels.) I had two beers — a Hercules (strong!) and a Titan.

The problem is that at this point in my life, when I start drinking in the afternoon, I have two options: (1) I can continue drinking and be either shitfaced or on the verge of shitfacedness until well into the evening; or (2) I can stop drinking before dinner or maybe have one or two beers, very slowly, over the next few hours, and then be cranky, tired, bored, and almost completely useless for the rest of the day. Yesterday, being the responsible, not-totally-shitfaced parent I am, I went with option #2. Ugh. It was sweet relief the second I decided to crawl into bed with the latest issue of Sports Illustrated.

The good news is that when you’re that bad at drinking, you pretty much never wake up with a hangover the next day.