Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Brew England Visits: Tavolo

We were dashing out the door to one of our fave restaurants last Friday when Adam had to go back inside and grab the camera. "Why?" I asked him.

Now before I go on you should know that Adam has a crazy memory when it comes to what's on tap. He can go to a bar just once but remember pretty much exactly what beer they had available on tap. Kind of like how I make mental notes of which bars have "good" cocktail olives (have to be large, pimento free and bonus if stuffed with some kind of blue cheese). But not nearly as useful.

Anywho he remarked that we should mention the restaurant, Tavolo, because they have so many great New England beers on tap (in fact all but two are from this area)! I agreed and so off we headed.

Tavolo, located on Dorchester Avenue right next to the Ashmont T Stop, is an Italian restaurant/bar that has cool loungey feel. The space was recently renovated and is gorgeous!

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The food is far above par, to say the least. They have delicious gourmet pizzas (My fave is the Goat Cheese), a to die for antipasto platter and obscenely delicious pasta dishes (if you, do yourself a favor and get the shrimp scampi). Check out the full menu here.

They have a great Italian wine list, and they also throw together a mean cocktail, such as the refreshing and sweet (but not too sweet) "Fancy Lady"

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I know, I know. A pink drink named Fancy Lady has no place in a beer blog but it's really good! Ok moving on...

Most importantly for us and the purposes of this website, they have a great selection of New England beer on tap!

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As you can see, out of eight on tap, six are from New England! They offer Harpoon UFO, Harpoon Baltic Porter (from the Leviathan series), Harpoon IPA, Allagash, Sam Adams Noble Pils and Longtrail Ale.

And in none of those pique your palate there is also a good selection of New England brews by the bottle including Otter Creek Stovepipe Porter and Geary's London Porter, Ipswich Stout and Naragansett Lager.

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Figuring their bevy of New England brews was no mistake, Adam chatted with the owner, Chris, who confirmed that he, as a small business owner, likes to support other local small business owners! He purposefully chooses to offer beer from smaller, "self made" local breweries because it's something he believes in. We think that's awesome!

So stop by Tavolo the next time you want some fantastic Italian food and a delicious local brew. If you go on a Friday night tell Brian and Donna that we said hi! They are super friendly and cocktail mixing/beer pouring virtuosos.

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Tavolo Ristorante is located at
1918 Dorchester Avenue (in the Carruth) in Dorchester.
It's T accessible via the red line!

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See you there!

Tavolo on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Boston Bruins Team Up with Sam Adams!

Okay, there's no hiding it...two of my favorite things in the world are Hockey and Beer. Fortunately for the all of us Bostonians (or those who make the trip), the Boston Bruins have teamed up with Samuel Adams to bring their latest installment of BruFest.

The Bruins and Samuel Adams had a few of these at the beginning of the season, and I heard they were a hit. The two remaining dates are April 1, 2010 vs. the Florida Panthers, and the other is on April 8, 2010 vs. the Buffalo Sabres. The event is held in the players' parking lot, just outside the TD Garden on Causeway Street in Boston, and is free for 21+ ticket holders.

Tickets are still available through Ticketmaster, and you can find more details by visiting the Boston Bruins website!

Tuesday Night Tasting - Samuel Adams: Stony Brook Red

This Tuesday we tasted yet another offering from Sam Adam's Barrel Room Collection (thanks anon!)- The Stony Brook Red! It's a Flanders Red Belgium style ale with 9% ABV and Pale and Aromatic malts.

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If you recall from our last tasting, these bottles are not a cinch to open but we were prepared this time!

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This dark red beer pours with a large head that quickly fades to a thin film.

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It has a crisp mouth feel, a toasty body and a tart fruit finish. What surprised me the most about this beer was how easy to drink it was. It has definitely has a chug factor - it would be entirely too easy to put a few of these away! I ascribe this quality to the oak barrels the beer is aged in, the same bottles used for aging brandy in Italy.

It would be absolutely divine paired with some hearty cheese or a slow cooked meat dish.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

BrewEngland area eNewsletters

If you live in the New England area, or most specifically the Boston area, I would highly recommend joining the Samuel Adams and Harpoon Brewery email lists.

At least once monthly, you'll get the "What's on Tap" email from Andrew & Bert telling you what's new in the world of Samuel Adams and the Boston Beer Company. The emails also include information on contests such as the Long Shot American Homebrew Contest, the Beer of the Month, as well as the dates of their monthly Open Houses.

Harpoon Brewery, which has locations in both Boston, MA and Windsor, VT (both great places, we've visited both) offers a monthly Friends of Harpoon eNewsletter. Also sent at least once monthly, Adam Bailey from Harpoon sends out an awesome email, letting you know what's happening at each brewery, events happening in the community, as well as contests and discounts offered only to Friends of Harpoon.

So if you haven't done so, visit both the Samuel Adams website, as well as the Harpoon Brewery websites today to sign up! You should also visit our Upcoming Beer Events page to find out some awesome events that are not to be missed.

Beer Brat Burgers

Over the summer Adam got heavily into beer brats. They're easy to prepare, delicious and really a summer staple for us. Since the weather has taken a decidedly UNSUMMERY turn I felt last night that we needed a pick me up. I thought it would be fun to turn the summery deliciousness that is a beer brat into a burger. The results? Amazing. And super easy to prepare.

I used the Sam Adams Boston Lager since it's particularly delicious with brats and because we happened to have a few bottles of it in the fridge. Also, this recipe makes 8 burgers - I only needed 4 so I reserved the remaining meat for a lasagna later this week. Alternatively you could you can always freeze the burgers you don't need before grilling.

These came out really great - all the taste of a beer brat in a burger form. We will definitely be having these again.

Beer Brat Burgers
1 lb ground turkey
1 lb brats (I like Johnsonville but use what you like!)
1 large yellow onion, sliced into thick rings
Potato rolls
1 bottle Sam Adams Boston Lager
Spicy Brown Mustard

Slice the brats lengthwise down the middle and remove the casing.

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Place meat in large bowl. Combine with ground turkey using your hands. You want to make sure the two meats are well blended but don't overdo it. If there are still a few small chunks of brat here and there that's ok (and delicious).

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Shape the meat into patties of equal size, using your thumb press an indent into the center of each one (this helps them cook more evenly).

Refrigerate the patties for about 30 minutes (chilling helps them stay together beautifully).

In the meantime, pour your beer into a large, shallow pan and heat over medium heat until Hot. Add your onion.

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It may seem like 1 beer is not enough but the onions cook down quite nicely. Cook over medium heat for about half an hour (while your burgers are chilling!), adding salt and pepper as you see fit.

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Remove the onions from the pan after 30 minutes. Pour all but a couple of tablespoons of the liquid out. Add a splash of olive oil and heat over medium high heat.

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Add your patties.

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Cook about 5 minutes per side. flipping once.

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Place on toasted potato rolls. Top with as much of the beer onions as desired and top off with spicy brown mustard.

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Enjoy with whatever side you like. I made sweet potato fries and they were a great complement to the beer-y burgers.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Brew England Visits: Cape Ann Brewing Company

In anticipation of the PHENOMENAL weather this weekend - last week I began seeking out a day trip destination for Adam and I. If it could include some shopping, some picturesque New England scenery and a brewery? So much the better.

I remembered we had both liked the Cape Ann Brewing table at Lamb Jam and after some web research discovered they were located in Gloucester, were open daily and had a brewpub attached! After consulting with Adam we decided to head to Cape Ann Brewing on Saturday morning and then spend the afternoon in Rockport.

This turned out to be one of the best ideas I have ever had.

We started out for Gloucester around 10:30AM on Saturday. We live in Quincy so it took us about 45 minutes to get there. There was no traffic and we had the sun roof down and the Steely Dan blaring so it was an enjoyable ride!

The brewery is located on oceanfront property in picturesque Gloucester.

Cape Ann Brewing Company, Gloucester, MA
(view from next to the Brewery)

Cape Ann Brewing Company, Gloucester, MA

When you walk in it's an instant pub type feel, with hardwood floors, rocking chairs, picnic tables and benches, brewery merchandise and of course, a large bar!

Cape Ann Brewing Company, Gloucester, MA

Cape Ann Brewing Company, Gloucester, MA

Cape Ann Brewing Company, Gloucester, MA

I thought it was neat that the taps look like they are coming out of barrels embedded in the walls.

As we took out seats at the bar, the brewer/bartender Dylan took our first order. I decided to ease into our morning of beer with the Pumpkin Stout while Adam leapt head first into the Navigator.

Cape Ann Brewing Company, Gloucester, MA

My impression of the Pumpkin Stout was as follows: why aren't more holiday/winter/autumn beers stouts? The taste was very reminiscent to me of the Harpoon Winter Warmer but less carbonated and much more smooth (as stouts usually are). I thought the Nutmeg/Cinnamon/Spicy notes were much better suited for a stout. I can definitely picture sipping this beauty by the fire in late November.

After breaking ourselves in, we went with the sampler to get better acquainted with Cape Ann's offerings.

Cape Ann Brewing Company, Gloucester, MA

The beers offered and our thoughts were as follows:

1) Fisherman's Brew - An Amber Lager. Light enough to drink in the summer but definitely has the chops to be drunk all year round. Nice subtle hop finish.

2) Fisherman's Ale - A German style Kolsch. Light, super drinkable beer that would be ideal paired with a plate of fresh fried seafood.

3) Fisherman's IPA - Adam called this the an IPA with training wheels. An initial barley taste fades into the traditional hoppiness associated with IPAs but somehow manages to not be bitter. Refreshing!

4) Fisherman's Navigator - A German style Dopple Bock. Super smooth and velvety with toasted malt notes. Another really drinkable beer.

5)Fisherman's Pumpkin Stout - see my notes above!

6)Fisherman's Greenhorn Double IPA - So, my allergies kept me from being able to smell the other beers before tasting them - but THIS I could smell. Really fragrant and hoppy, I braced myself for the wave of bitterness sure to hit my tastebuds........and it never came. Miraculously this Douple IPA with it's 124 IBUs manages to citrusy, piney, and sure a little bitter but more in a grapefuity way than in a faceful of flowers way. This formerly IPA-hater was totally blown away. So much so that when the tasting was done I followed Adam's lead and ordered myself a glass of it to further enjoy.

Cape Ann Brewing Company, Gloucester, MA

Unfortunately this beer is only available at the brewery - which is a tragedy BUT should give you all the impetus you need to get in your car some Saturday in the near future and head on down to the Cape Ann Brewery! You know we have been to many breweries in the area and this one I have to say is one of my favorites so far. It wasn't a traditional brewery tour/tasting in that the tour is kind of self guided....

Cape Ann Brewing Company, Gloucester, MA

It's more like going to a fantastic local brew pub, and drinking extremely fresh and delicious beer with people who know and can tell you a lot about it. Though the Double IPA is not available for purchase elsewhere, you should check your local package store or the tap at your favorite local bar for the Fisherman's Brew, Fisherman's IPA or Fisherman's Ale. And as always if you don't see it, ask for it!

Cape Ann Brewing Company has a small menu of noshes to go with your beer - we went with the Cheese Plate which was the perfect accompaniment to the sampler.

Cape Ann Brewing Company, Gloucester, MA

While we were there a few people came in with their own food and simply ordered a bunch of beer to have with their sandwiches so that's another option for you. They don't seem to mind if you bring your own food as long as you drink their delicious beer.

Dylan, the brewer, answered all of our questions both about Cape Ann Brewing and about home brewing in general. And local patron Warren kept us laughing with his anecdotes and some good natured ribbing about the fact that we are "tourists". Between these two guys we really were jealous not to have a place like this to hang out in the South Shore area!

Cape Ann Brewing Company, Gloucester, MA

We left with a growler of the double IPA and the intention of going back at least once over the summer (and bringing a group of our friends in tow). We had such a good time and hope more people get to experience their amazing selection of beer!

Visit Cape Ann Brewery
27 Commercial Street, Gloucester MA
Monday Saturday 11am - 9pm

We spent the the remainder of the afternoon in neighboring Rockport, MA which is basically a postcard you can walk around in and is about a 10-15 minute drive from the Brewery.

Rockport, MA

After some window shopping we stopped for dinner in Salem, MA on the way home (stay tuned for a review of the fantastic little pub we happened upon there. So all in all it's a nice little day trip especially now that the weather has been behaving!

Which brings us to the announcement of our contest winner!!! The winner of the Cape Cod Beer Tervis Tumblers and $20 towards the purchase of your favorite beer is....

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Angela!! Please email me your address so we can get your prizes out to you ASAP. And thanks everyone who entered. Stay tuned for even more contests in the near future.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Adventures in Home Brewing, 1st Edition

So after several years of telling Sarah I wanted to brew my own beer, I have finally ventured into the wonderful world of Home Brewing! Thanks in part to Sarah, who got me a substantial gift certificate from Beer and Wine Hobby in Woburn, I was able to purchase the True Brew Maestro Beer Equipment Kit, and some other goodies. For $79.95 you get all the equipment to make a five gallon batch, with the exception of the Brew Kettle (aprox $50), bottles, and a True Brew kit of your own. They do have other options, which include a glass carboy, wort chiller, and ingredient kit, but if you're on a limited budget you can go with one of the lower priced kits which still get the job done.

The first beer I picked up was the True Brew Bavarian Hefeweizen. I had only brewed once before this, which was supposed to be a honey wheat lager. It turned out to be more ciderish (read the One Brine Day to learn a bit more) than we had planned, but it was simply just okay. I swore to myself this would be better! Anyway, all the publications say that cleanliness is the number one thing to keep in mind, so I was doing whatever I could to ensure that no foreign bacteria would be introduced to the beer. Bacteria and wild yeast can creep its way into your beer if you're not careful and will create off flavors, so that was the last thing I wanted.

The Boil!

We have fermentation!

To make a long story short(er), the gravity readings were consistent, so it was time to bottle. Thanks to Sarah, we were able to bottle in about 45 minutes or so and after three weeks of conditioning (allowing the beer to carbonate) the beer was ready to drink.

The first pint

Evaluating the beer

According to Beer & Wine Hobby, the beer is described as "a true Bavarian delight! Cloudy with classic banana and clove phenols wrapped up with crisp wheat flavors. Serve in a tall glass with a slice of orange" with a similar taste to Hacker Pschorr or Franziskaner (one of my favorite wheat beers). Although it turned out better than I anticipated, it didn't quite have the same flavor to Hacker Pschorr or Franziskaner - but close enough for my first time! I went from February 20th until last night since having one, and to my delight it's actually aged quite well and now has a more soft flavor. I guess even beer gets better with age (within reason).

Tasting the beer

Like anything new and exciting, I've become insanely hooked on brewing already. Since my first trip to Beer and Wine Hobby back in December, I've made at least three more trips and have picked up more brewing kits, and have three more beers ready for brewing- including two more non-kit brews from Williams Brewing, The Amber I brewed on February 7th is currently conditioning in my kitchen and should be ready in a few more weeks. I also just brewed a Red Ale last night, which should be ready in 4-6 weeks. I'll make sure to give a full report on both beers when they're ready to drink!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Amazing Deal on HomeBrewing Kit

Attention wannabe/casual/beginner home brewers!

Don't miss out on's amazing deal today. $49 for a Home Brewing Kit and Class with Beer and Wine Hobby

$49 gets you a seat in Beer and Wine Hobby's 90 minute Introductory Home Brewing Class as well as a home brewing kit. That's a 50% savings and an awesome way to get into brewing at home. I got Adam a gift certificate to Beer and Wine Hobby for Christmas and they were a great resource in our home brewing endeavors. What I like the most is you can order online (they have one of the most extensive home brewing online stores around) OR you can go to their store in Woburn for some guidance/advice and get your shopping done then.

Check them out! And don't miss out on this phenomenal deal.

Don't miss out - click here to go to and sign up for this deal, for you or the potential homebrewer in your life!

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Contest! and Brew England Visits: Cape Cod Beer

When Sarah and I decided we were going to bring Brew England to Southern New England, ie: Providence for the hockey game and Trinity Brew House, we were thinking “why not make this a weekend?” Originally, our plans were to head down to Providence on Friday, then the Newport, RI area on Saturday to visit the Coddington Brewing Company , Newport Storm Brewery , and Buskers Pub . As fate would have it a coworker of Sarah's remarked to her on Friday that the Newport St Patrick's Day Parade would be happening that Saturday and thus downtown would be packed, no parking, the bars would be overflowing and impossible to get into....with this new information we decided to save Newport for another weekend.

We decided to head to the Cape instead and as luck would have it - a quick Google search found us Cape Cod Beer , located in Hyannis, MA, so our brew-trip weekend was not a lost cause! The ride down was pretty crazy, but we were able to make it to the hotel safely. We quickly checked in, and thankfully for us Cape Cod Beer was right down the street, so we were able to make their 1pm tour and tasting with time to spare.

If you haven’t been to Cape Cod Beer, or have even heard about it (as I hadn’t until last week), you definitely should check it out. To date, this is Brew England’s smallest brewery visited; however, it was one of the most informational micro-tours we’ve been on. While we didn’t get to walk through the entire facility, due to the tightly packed mash tun, kettle, and 11 fermentation tanks, we certainly learned a lot about this small commercial brewery. For instance, Cape Cod Beer is the only brewery on the Cape, their beers are found in over 200 restaurants (only on the Cape as they do not have refrigerated trucks), and the only other way for customers take these beers home is in a growler from either the brewery itself or a local package store.

The brewery is also doing their part to be environmentally green by donating their spent grains to local farmers. In addition, they encourage their patrons to reuse their growlers- one woman has been using the same growler for over five years now!

After the tour began our favorite part of the visit, the tasting!

We were able to try the following beers:

1) The Beach Blond - a light and refreshing beer),
2) Red (their flagship beer) - smooth and malty
3) Cape Cod Porter - dark, malty, with a subtle kick of chocolate
4) Old Man Winter (seasonal) - which was heavy and helped battle the torrential rain that was falling - this was my personal favorite!
5) IPA - this was on the sweeter side but had a nice soft balance of hops

We were also lucky enough to snag their last bottle of Cherry Porter, which was incredible! It was equally as smooth as their porter, with the added blend of cherries, which gave the beer a nice tart and sweet balance.

Cape Cod Beer is definitely worth the drive. You’ll enjoy their selection, learn a few things about the industry you may not know (such as the incredible excise tax charged per barrel of beer- more to come on that), and perhaps even pick up a few home brewing supplies (sold on premises).

The staff is quite friendly, answering any and all questions you may have and of course supplying you with delicious beer.

Visit Cape Cod Beer at 1336 Phinney's Lane in Hyannis MA.
Tours are EVERY Tuesday and Saturday @ 1am

After the tour, we asked one of the brewers where we should go to lunch and he not only highly recommended the The Barnstable Tavern, but he gave us a coupon too! So we headed down the street to the Tavern and enjoyed a few Cape Cod brews over lunch

Which brings us to what you are probably here for - the contest! In honor of the re-launch of BrewEngland and the good time we had at Cape Cod Beer - we are hosting a contest.

The prize?

Two Cape Cod Beer "Tervis Tuumblers". Have you used these kinds of tumblers before? They are PERFECT for beer because they keep beverages cooler longer than regular glasses, are virtually indestructable and will not leave rings on your table. Pretty neat. On top of these two tumblers we will also send you a $20 visa card to use towards filling your Cape Cod Beer Tervis Tumblers with your favorite beer!

To enter this contest - just leave us a comment. If you link to us on your blog you'll get another entry. If you Twitter about the contest you'll get yet another entry. And if you Facebook about you get one more! That's four chances to win just for commenting and telling people about the contest. Not a bad deal.

The contest ends this Sunday and we will be announcing the winner at NOON (Continental US residents only, sorry!)

Good luck!