Archive | September, 2012

Drinking Like a Lady: 2012 Review of Pumpkin Beers

17 Sep

Fall is here, and I am in my own personal heaven… It’s pumpkin beer season!

Since I’ve turned 21 I feel like the numbers of pumpkin beer available on shelves have tripled. Everyone has a favorite, but there are just too many to try in such a short season that you can’t find out. So I decided to help.

The other night, my boyfriend Alex and I painstakingly sampled seven different pumpkin beers. The things I do for this blog… I deserve a Nobel prize. We based tested each beer based on four things, scored through numbers 1-5: Color, smell, pumpkin flavor, and overall flavor. We averaged those numbers to find a solitary score along with a short write-up. Here’s what we found, scored from best to worst. Alex’s score is listed below mine, but since this is my blog the rankings reflect how I saw them:



1. Imperial Pumpkin Ale: Weyerbacher 
My Score: 3.875
Alex’s Score: 4.5
My Take: This was one of our last beers to taste. By then I was tired and ready to throw in the towel, and I was worried that would ruin things. I was wrong. The beer was a much deeper red than any other of the ones we’ve tasted before- creepy Halloween beer? It had a very sweet smell but I was happy to know that it overpowered the hops. It almost tasted like pumpkin pie. Sweet, but savory. It was so diverse, and like all good beers, it got better as it got warmer. Would I buy this again? I’m planning to after work!

Alex’s Take: Right when the beer hit the glass I knew this was going to be one of the better beers. It was a really dark red, a definite diversion from the orange ambers that dominated the night. Its spicy bouquet exploded right from the beginning. It was the sweetest smelling beer without a doubt. There was a strong smell and taste of cloves which worried me as it’s not my favorite spice but it actually added a really nice twist. That along with the good overall pumpkin spice made this a beer that I would definitely get more of.

2. Hipp-O-Lantern Imperial Pumpkin Ale: River Horse Brewing Company
My Score: 3.5
Alex’s Score: 4
My Take: Of course I had to sample a South Jersey beer, and I wasn’t let down. Maybe it was fresher because it comes from such close quarters, but I haven’t been let down at this brewery yet. The foggy brown color was less than desirable, and the hops smelled a little too strongly for me, (I’m not a huge fan of extra hoppy beers) but the nutmeg and cinnamon that were hidden in the scent found a way to stand out in the taste. And as it warmed in my hand, all spice and even more nutmeg began to warm up in the scent as well. I would order this beer again: especially since I believe the freshness is something I won’t be able to find elsewhere.

Alex’s Take: Nothing particularly memorable about this beer but it was one of the most drinkable. The color was deep and opaque, and the smell was very strong. The flavor didn’t quite match the bold smell. Spices hit right at the front before succumbing to a bitterness that was the beer’s downfall. It did, however, finish with a nice kick. Coming from right here in NJ, it was one of the fresher beers which me want to try it again even more. I will be going back for a six pack.

3. Pumpkin Fest: Terrapin Brewing Company
My Score: 3.375
Alex’s Score: 3.5
My take: In a pumpkin beer I want a few things before I take a sip: a rich, amber color and a burst of cinnamon, cloves and all spice in the scent. I was drawn into Terrapin’s beer as soon as I poured it. The scent carried into the first taste, but the aftertaste was lost a little in the Oktoberfest lager- normally a pumpkin beer is an ale- and I tasted a little bit too many hops for my liking. Overall, I would buy this again in an instant.

Alex’s take: This beer didn’t wow me at the time but the more I think about it the more I want to drink it again. Before I even knew what this beer was trying to be I described it as “Marzen-like” the typical german malty beer associated with Oktoberfest. I usually think marzens are bland and pretty undrinkable. No so for Terrapin. Turns out pumpkin spices are the perfect complement to the sumptuous maltiness of the marzen. I might have to buy a case.

4. Pumple Drumkin Spiced Ale: Cisco Brewers
My Score: 2.75Image Courtesy: BrewBound.com
Alex’s Score: 3.5
My Take: I’m not going to lie: I chose this beer because of the adorable little pumpkin on the front. I originally wanted to skip it because of the idea that you “can’t judge a book by it’s cover,” but it’s a beer, not a book so whatever. The color was a very dark amber, slightly orange, and exactly what I was hoping to find in a pumpkin ale. Unfortunately, I missed the spices that are promised in the name in both the scent and the smell. I was overpowered by the hoppiness. There was a freshness from the hops that some IPA fans might love, because it brought out a particular freshness, but I was looking for warmth and spice. I wouldn’t buy this beer again, but I’ll certainly keep the bottle close by for when I need a smile.

Alex’s Take: When we opened Pumple Drumpkin I was very excited to try it. It was the only beer we tried to have any kind of hoppy smell to it which is something I love. The flavor was a big letdown though. It was absent any pumpkin flavor and didn’t pack any of the hops its nose boasted. Not a bad beer and I might give it another shot before I write it off completely.

5. Pumpkin Ale: Smuttynose Brewing Company
My Score: 2.63
Alex’s Score: 2.5
My Take: This bottle had the weakest color out of all the beers, almost resembling a typical lager. The scent carried most of the taste, with a strong hit of nutmeg right from the start followed by a sweet cinnamon scent. This beer would have suffered without it, however, as the flavor matched the color more than anything: slightly bland, almost flat even. Mild was definitely a good way to put it, but like I said the scent really made it a harmless beer to drink. Not worth a second try, however.

Alex’s Take: Sad to say this was one of my least favorite beers of the night. I love Smuttynose but this was not up to their standard. The smell was sour and the taste was overly acidic. There were times when I found myself enjoying it but the feeling would subside with the next sip. Just an odd taste that I can’t really put my finger on. I don’t think I would get this one again.

6. Punkin Ale: Dogfish Head Brewery
My Score: 2.625
Alex’s Score:
1.75
My Take:
This is the original pumpkin ale, and the only one I would drink for the longest time, and I hate myself for ranking it so low, but I was unbelievably let down. Alex and I theorize that the liquor store we visited restocked the shelves with last year’s bottles, and I’m going over to ask them the honest truth tomorrow (will I get the truth? Let’s see) because there is no way that Dogfish would put out this product. I had this beer on tap at their Rehoboth, DE location and it was one of the best beers I’ve ever drank, so for us to have sipped this super carbonated, flavorless ale on Saturday has to be a fluke. So I will most definitely be ordering this beer again, from a different store. This beer is one of the reasons I got into craft beers in the first place, so it just goes to show how easily tainted one craft beer can be from store to store.

Alex’s Take: This had to be an old bottle because I bought two cases of this last year and loved every sip. And this bad tasting would not discourage me from buying a case of Punkin again, year after year.

7. Imperial Pumking: Southern Tier Brewing Company
My Score: 2.5
Alex’s Score: 2.75
My Take: Of all the pumpkin beers- with the exception of Dogfish’s Punkin Ale- that I was going out to purchase, there was an overwhelming number of people that told me that this was the best, and of all the beers we tasted this was the beer that let me down the most. The beer was a light gold color, not the most appealing color when you’re looking forward to pumpkin. The scent had a strong metallic ring to it, so much so that upon taking my first sip I had to stop and hold my breath. That metallic scent led into the taste, unfortunately. It completely ruined the flavor for me and I gave the rest to my dad who actually loved it. Was this another bad beer from the store? I don’t know, but I don’t think it matched my expectations either way.

Alex’s Take:  I always have this beer recommended to me. Southern Tier has rarely steered me wrong but this beer was missing something. It had the most interesting color. It was almost bright orange which I thought was cool. The only thing I could smell from this beer was candy corn, something that probably ruined the rest of the tasting for me. There wasn’t a ton of pumpkin flavor, but it was different enough to make it stand out. There was a hint of brown sugar to go along with the dry bitterness of the Pumpking. Overall, I thought it was missing some complexity. It’s deep flavor was its biggest plus but also its biggest downfall as it made it a little one-note. I don’t think I could even finish another glass of this beer.

Do you have a pumpkin beer that we simply have to taste? Shoot me a comment, or tweet me @EricaBauw!

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This Season, In Television

13 Sep
There are so many reasons that fall is better than every other season, but right now one thing in particular is jumping out at me: television! All of my favorite shows are in the fall. There are only a handful of shows that I make it a point to tune in and watch, and they are all during this season. So many great characters that I love to absolute death.
Here are the 10 shows whose premiers I have marked on my calendar (with all times in EST). Why can’t every season be fall?

1. Saturday Night Live, Sept. 15
Season 38, Saturdays, 11:30 p.m., on NBC
While I am still in mourning over SNL‘s loss of my girl Kristin Wiig and Andy Samberg, I’m psyched for this upcoming season. It kicks off with Seth Macfarlane as the host, the hilariously inappropriate creator of Family Guy and one of my favorite movies of the summer, Ted. Plus, my favorite band Mumford and Sons will be performing on Sept. 22, just two days before their new album Babel- which I have been awaiting for months- is released.

2. Parks and Recreation, Sept. 20
Season 5, Thursdays, 9:30 p.m.,  on NBC
Leslie Knope. Tom Haverford. Ann Perkins, the beautiful tropical fish. Ben Wyatt. Ron F*cking Swanson. I have developed a very, very unhealthy personal bond with the hilariously lovable characters on P&R. Luckily I work in an office that has also fallen in love with Pawnee, Indiana. We’re no Parks department, but we’re still pretty awesome. As we are speaking, I am staring at my Swanson Pyramid of Greatness, drinking from my Pawnee Dept. of Parks and Recreation water bottle, and counting down the days until my boyfriend and I celebrate our new favorite holiday, Treat Yourself 2012 (held on Oct. 20, if you’re interested).

3. New Girl, Sept. 24
Season 2, Tuesdays, 8 p.m. on FOX
In the one season that New Girl was on, I became completely obsessed. It’s one of the funniest shows on television right now. I will actually be sitting around and think of a Schmidt one-liner and start laughing out loud to myself. And I find every occasion possible to use the word “chutney” (pronounced chutt-uhh-nee). And now I’m laughing again.

4. How I Met Your Mother, Sept. 25
Season 8, Tuesdays, 8 p.m. EST, on CBS
The last season left off with a whole world of scandal, and I’m ready to hear what’s up. I’m most excited by how dynamic Barney Stinson has become. Not just because NPH is a smoking hottie and this means I can see him more, but because I think he’s one of the most interesting characters there. And to be honest, I just want to meet the damn mother already. I know it’s the title of the show, but out with it, Ted!

5. 30 Rock, Oct. 4
Season 7, Thursdays, 8 p.m., on NBC
It’s no surprise that this show is my life blood. I mean you don’t have to know me or anyone that knows me for more than 10 minutes to realize it. It’s had an amazing seven seasons, with the best cast and the smartest lady in television behind the writing. But now it’s time to say goodbye, as they’ve announced it’s unfortunate end. While this final half-season will hang heavy on my heart, all good things must come to an end. I’ve gone through the stages of grief already, gone to my Mecca, (30 Rock, this summer. I even took a studio tour with a page!) and I’m prepared to just enjoy it while it lasts, and rewatch everything on Netflix, like, 8 times a day.

6. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Oct. 11
Season 8, Thursdays, 10 p.m., on FX
My friends and I have an It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia tradition dating back to my days at college. We all settle in to watch it, and drink wine out of Diet Coke cans. Now that we’re all adults (or whatever) and spread out across the country I’m hoping we can keep that ridiculous tradition alive wherever we are. It’s hard not to love this show. It is completely absurd, borderline overly offensive, and it makes fun of all the jerky things us human beings do. Plus it’s in the greatest city on Earth. How can you lose?

7.The League, Oct. 11
Season 4, Thursdays, 10:30 p.m., on FX
You don’t have to be a football fan to watch The League. The really genuinely dysfunctional relationships are what makes this show so funny in the first place. It focuses around the friends’ ultimate demise: their fantasy football league. Everyone has some sort of competition that can drive them crazy: for me it’s Quizzo and FourSquare mayorships. This show will make you feel a lot better about your own competitive edge.

8. The Walking Dead, Oct. 14
Season 3, Sundays, 9 p.m., on AMC
Zombies. Do I really need to say anything more?

9. American Horror Story, Oct. 17
Season 2, Wednesdays, 10 p.m., on FX
If you missed the first season of American Horror Story, you won’t miss much tuning into season two. The show starts over with a whole new plot line, but seeing that it’s set in a haunted asylum I’m assuming it will be equally as twisted and terrifying. It starts a few weeks before Halloween, so I’m already in the spooky mood and ready for a scare. This season sounds even more exciting than the last, so I would suggest tuning it.

10. Community, Oct. 19
Season 4, Fridays, 8:30 p.m. on NBC
Poor Community. I think it has gotten the short end of the stick in the last year, almost getting dropped entirely, then taking a hiatus for entirely too long before losing it’s creator to a serious case of the crazies and then being moved to Fridays. Well don’t worry, Greendale Seven, I am not giving up on you yet. Besides, it’s not like I do anything on the weekend anyway!

A Hair Tutorial You HAVEN’T Seen on Pinterest

13 Sep

I am a slave to Pinterest. Especially when it comes to clothes, makeup, nails… things I’m normally mildly clueless about.

If you find me on Pinterest, you will find an entire board dedicated to just hair styles and makeup, mostly I am constantly looking for ways to curl my hair. My hair doesn’t hold a curl. Don’t join the 23 years of hairdressers and friends in a dorm room with an expensive straightener and tell me “I can make it curl, they just didn’t do it right.” You’ll just look silly. It doesn’t curl. It falls in 10 seconds or less.

Out of the beach wave tutorials on my Pinterest, I have actually tried all of them, as opposed to just pinning it and never looking again. Half of them leave my head partially curled, then the rest slumped and weird looking, the other half turn my head into a frizzy nightmare that can’t even look acceptable in a bun.

So I’m sharing with you my beach curls that I’ve been using for years that actually works. And they’re legit, because I actually got this idea from going to the beach! When I had really long hair it would get knotted up from the waves, so I would French braid my hair into two braids before heading out. Then, when it dried I would take it out and have these amazing waves that actually lasted all day. So here is my super easy, super effective curly/wavy hair tutorial for girls who can’t get it right.

1. Add a small amount of product to the bottom half of wet hair. By wet I mean as soon as you get out of the shower. I use Herbal Essences Tousle Me Softly mousse, mainly because it’s crazy cheap. Sure, you can use more expensive products… but why bother? It’s not like I’m styling my hair all the time.

If you dont have any products try adding a few tablespoons of salt to warm water and wetting your hair with that. After all, this is a beach hair inspiration, salt water was kind of what got this idea into my head in the first place.

2. Divide your still wet hair into 2-6 equal parts. The more divisions you make, the tighter the waves will be. I chose six, to get more of a curl and less of a loose wave, but usually I divide it into four. Plus, I always do this at night, right out of the shower and about an hour before I go to bed. That gives me 8 hours for my hair to dry. If you want your hair to stay clean and ready for night time, try doing two parts. The easiest way for me is to split my hair into a middle part like I was making pigtails, then divide each half into their own halves. Tie all of the parts off with their own hair tie.

3. French braid each individual section of your hair. Now here’s the thing: I am completely clueless when it comes to hair. I can do a basic ponytail, I can pin the front back with a bobby pin, and I can french braid. That is all I know how to do. If you are awful at everything like me, I guarantee you that you can learn to French braid your own hair. It is much easier than it looks, and there are 200 tutorials on YouTube and Pinterest. Once you learn a french braid, you can do so so much! Including this tutorial.

When your hair is done all it has to do is dry. When I want this to be clean and ready for the evening I use two braids, and pin the two braids back so that it looks like a neat style on the lower back of my neck that I can wear to work. Plus, once you braid your hair into more than two braids you kind of look like Snoop Dogg… and that’s awesome.

Got my mind on my money and my money on my mind…

4. When your hair is dry, unbraid and voila! It takes about 8 hours for particularly thick hair like mine, but for thinner hair it might take 5-6. No product needed at the end, it should last all day! Below is this mornings’ results, awkward smile and everything! You have to try this out. It’s so easy, especially when compared to all the crazy ideas to get the same results that people put on Pinterest.

 

 

Comment if you have any questions, or if you want to know which tutorials I have tried that have crashed and burned miserably.

First Day of Fall Fashion

11 Sep

This morning, I woke up to an open window and the crisp smell of fall. And I loved it.

Fall is, without a doubt, my absolute favorite time of the year. Perfect temperature, changing leaves, and the fashion! This morning I threw on the perfect fall kickoff outfit, and here it is!

Skinny Cords, $34 at Old Navy
I just got these corduroys a week or so ago, and they are the most comfortable pair of pants I own. They’re so soft, and they look amazing. And for a pair of corduroys, they’re pretty affordable!

I love this color: colorful skinny jeans are pretty much the number one thing you need to own this fall, but they make the wackiest colors, and seeing as I spend most of my time at work I can’t go running around looking like I just joined a boy band. This blue is a little bit edgy without being too… “wow! look at me!”

Mustard Infinity Scarf, $32 at Urban Outfitters
I actually just finished crocheting my own mustard yellow infinity scarf two days ago. That’s right, I’m crafty! Though I don’t suggest creating all your own pieces of clothing, it was a pretty fun way to get in the mood for fall.

Mustard yellow is my number one fall obsession. It’s one of my favorite colors, and it looks absolutely amazing this time of year. I even own a pair of skinny jeans that are mustard. This color goes with so many more colors than you’d think, and it doesn’t hurt that a scarf will keep you warm when it starts to cool down.

White Tee, $19.95 at Gap
I know, I know, it seems a little crazy to spend 20 bucks on a white t-shirt, but just trust me. I wear plain tshirts a lot, and I’ve realized that if you spend a few more bucks on a good shirt it makes all the difference in your outfit. It can make a casual outfit look a tad bit outdated. That next big step into buying better quality staples? Well, I guess that’s called growing up.

Anyway, I went with a simple white t-shirt because I really didn’t want to distract from the rest of the outfit. The shirt isn’t the best part!

Suede Booties, $50 at Macy’s
These boots are my newest obsession. They just… they look so darn cool! I wear them and all I do is stare at them all day… very little work productivity.

I really wanted some brown boots, but everyone’s going to have the same knee high brown leather boots. I wanted to mix things up a little bit. Oh my gosh, I just love looking at them here. Maybe I’ll just put them on until bed…

Gold Earrings, $24 at Lucky Brand
I’m a big fan of brushed gold with a black polish on them, especially in the fall. Things aren’t supposed to look shiny and new in the fall, with the leaves dying and the colors changing. This darker gold fits right into the scenery!

I don’t have these earrings, but since they’re 30 percent off at checkout I’m thinking of getting them. Lucky Brand makes such great jewelry that’s pretty affordable. And big, dangly earrings can really amp up a normal outfit.

Going Incognito Emerald Green Polish, by Essie
There are so many perks to this amazing color nail polish that I just bought the other day. One, it’s Essie, so it’s going to last forever when you put it on. Two, it’s a really pretty emerald green. And three, it’s Eagles green!! Go birds!!!

Essie runs a little more expensive than the average polish, but if you can find a beauty supply store nearby you can usually get it for 2 or 3 dollars cheaper.

Drink Like a Lady: Coming this Friday…

11 Sep

I am currently looking at 7 bottles of the country’s finest pumpkin ales, all crying to be opened and enjoyed. Check back Saturday for a full, detailed review on my favorites, plus what you should look for when picking your new favorite!