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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!

Interview: Carli Lloyd

9 Aug

I’ve been slacking pretty terribly when it comes to posting Olympic blogs. Mainly because I’ve been watching the Olympics.

I’m a huge fan of any competitive sport and all things American, so obviously I go nuts for the Olympics. I’m also a magazine editor (assistant editor, but who’s counting), so I get to work on fun stories all the time.

Last spring, I started a big, long feature on South Jersey’s Olympic athletes. It was without a doubt the most amazing thing I’ve ever had the opportunity to write. One of my highlights was getting to interview US Women’s soccer star midfielder Carli Lloyd, a South Jersey girl that has become a legend on the team for her perfect goals at the last minute. As a huge soccer fan, it was great to get to speak with such a strong woman in one of my favorite sports. Plus, she’s from my turf!

Her interview ran with my other interviews in condensed form, which can be seen here (yes, I’m shamelessly promoting my work and I’m fine with it) but I’ve decided to share my full-length interview on Erica Takes Over. Mainly because it’s too good not to be seen! Carli and team kick off at 2:45 in the gold medal match against their number one rivals, Japan, so make sure you catch it for me since I have to work.

Check out my full interview with Carli Lloyd after the jump!

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The New Girls Take Over

7 Aug

Last winter I made the terrible mistake of dying my hair red. I’ve been a lifelong brunette -except for that short period in high school where I went a stunning shade of pink- and I thought somehow that red would boost my personality in some way. I was so off base.

I recently read an interview in Vanity Fair with one of my favorite actresses right now, Lizzy Caplan, in which she said that she was excited that actresses like her now “get to be the girl” as opposed to the best friend role. Caplan, a pale brunette, is stunningly gorgeous, but you may remember her as the dark and crazy mess that was Janis Ian in Mean Girls.  It got me thinking about television and movies today, and about how brunettes have- in their own way- taken over a role that in the past they never really played. And as a brunette who has now come to completely adore my hair color, I’m all for it.

There’s something to be said about brunettes taking charge of the television industry right now, because in a way it opens up the door for all women to take a new lead in media. Lizzy, Tina Fey, Zooey Deschanel, Mindy Kaling, Aubrey Plaza, Kat Dennings, Krysten Ritter. All unusual suspects in Hollywood that have managed to make a name for themselves as strong, independent, funny, smart, unique and sexy leading ladies. And they’ve used their talents to draw their crowd as opposed to a stereotypical idea of what is supposed to be beautiful in Hollywood.

These women have created  a new persona and pushed the limit on what all women actresses can do on TV. Amy Poehler and Tina Fey are proving that you can be strong, funny and powerful without a man influencing every aspect of your life; Kat Dennings and Krysten Ritter prove that women can be snarky and sexy without being labeled bitchy and slutty; and Zooey Deschanel is stepping up and showing women that it’s okay to be girly and cute, because being a woman doesn’t make you any less of a leader or any less in control of your destiny.

Gone are the days of the “quirky best friend” for every woman that isn’t a cardboard cutout of the typical tall blonde bombshell. And gone are the days of every tall, blonde bombshell being labeled as the “ditsy sex object.” Women are proving their chops in new ways. I think that, despite hair color, women have been restricted by their sex in the media, and that is changing. There hasn’t been a better time to be a funny woman in Hollywood then there is now, and I love that I’m on board for the ride.

The New Faces of SNL

7 Jun

With superstar cast members Kristen Wiig and Andy Samberg having left Saturday Night Live in the last week, a lot of people have been scratching their heads over the future of next season. Trust me, I’m bummed too. Kristen Wiig is my girl.

But such is the show. Will Ferrel, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Chevy Chase, Adam Sandler, Chris Rock… all names that left the comfort of the famous live stage to pursue bigger careers. And even without those cast members the show has continued, bringing in new talent that succeeds just as much as the stars we all come to love.

Luckily, there are a few cast members that can step up and take over. Here are my predictions for the 2012-2013 rising stars. I really look forward to seeing what they can bring to the stage!

Jay Pharoah
The network is already prepping Jay to take the lead on the show, with appearances all over talk shows- including a showing on ESPN that had all of social media buzzing- and the Internet, and with good reason. Jay Pharoah is damn funny. He’s a younger, more-attractive Eddy Murphy. His Jay-Z impression alongside Maya Rudolph as Beyonce killed me, and he’s earned a reputation for his Denzel Washington, Chris Rock and Will Smith characters. I think he can really grow to become one of the many icons of SNL, if he can get away from impressions from time to time, create his own signature characters, and embrace his stand up background.

Abby Elliott
Without a doubt, Abby Elliott is and has been one of my favorite cast members for the last year or so. Daughter to Chris Elliot, a SNL cast member in the 90’s and star in films like Groundhog Day and Scary Movie 2, funny is in her blood. She’s made friends in the right places, palling around (and getting great press) with HelloGiggles.com starlet Zooey Deschanel, even going so far as to make her quirky Zooey persona a regular (and really funny) part of the show. It’s obvious that she has the looks to stand out in the spotlight, but more than anything she knows how to be a funny girl, which can be kind of tricky for women. She’s not over-the-top and she still manages to get a laugh while highlighting some of her own personality

Taran Killam
Killam was the youngest cast member ever to appear on the old MadTV at just 19 and his comedy career is really reaching a high point now. Plus, his career outside of SNL is taking off too. He’s engaged to How I Met Your Mother hottie Cobie Smulders (they also have a daughter) and has made several appearances on that show, and has had his own comedic stints on shows like Scrubs and Community. He’s diverse, and the show needs a young, goofy guy to fill the place of Andy Samberg. SNL. As long as he embraces the need for a new Samberg-esque presence, he should blow up.

Nasim Pedrad
When I first started watching Nasim Pedrad perform on Saturday Night Live I wasn’t sold on her, mainly because I had never heard of her before. I thought she was good in the background, but I never really saw her stepping out more than that, until recently. I like that Nasim isn’t always doing an impression of someone: she can take a written character and make it her own. She plays one of my favorite characters on the show, Bedelia, the teen who thinks her mom is cooler than any of her friends. And I appreciate that, on a show that isn’t know for a very racially diverse cast, she can come into her own without abusing her ethnicity (she’s actually from Iran). She’s funny without overplaying racial stereotypes, which I think can make her last longer in multiple parts.

National Princess Week: Kate Middleton

28 Apr

It all comes down to my main princess, the only living, breathing princess of my posts: Kate Middleton.

Last spring, just before I graduated from college, my boyfriend and I stayed up to watch the Royal Wedding on April 29. Unfortunately, as much as I fought I ended up passing out about 2 minutes before the big, famous kiss at Buckingham Palace, but I got to see the glamour of the entire wedding. Kate Middleton’s wedding style stuck with me. Elegant and timeless. On a day when literally the entire world was looking at one misstep to continuously repeat all over the tabloids and she got it perfect. She didn’t miss a beat. And she still hasn’t. I love this girl. I love her style. She is the perfect princess.

Ronni Nicole Dress
Kohl’s, on sale! $54
When I was looking for a dress for my Kate inspiration my mind went right to her engagement photos. She had on a beautiful blue dress, similar to the one here but much more expensive.

The Duchess of Cambridge has the most perfect body in the world. It’s not even fair. She gets the prince and the body? Come on, universe! Anyway, in almost every dress I’ve ever seen her in she finds a way to accentuate the thinnest part of her waist, then has the bottom  hem flow out widely. And I don’t know if I’ve ever seen her wear something sleeveless. Pretty much the exact same shape as the dress here. I don’t know if I could ever wear a dress like this; I’m pretty sure you have to have a damn-near perfect body to do it, but I can dream right?

Diana’s Engagement Ring
Amazon, $49.99
Since Will and Kate got engaged I have come close to buying this ring or one of the other million replicas available online way too many times. I really need to own it. Walk around with this giant rock, and when no one is looking slip it on my left hand ring finger and pretend that I’m a soon-to-be-princess. Don’t pretend that you don’t want to do that too. I respect the princess like crazy, because she knows exactly what to do in her situation. She is the next big thing in the media, while trying to balance pleasing her royal family and pleasing the public who is still madly in love with her husband’s late mom, who her in-laws weren’t too crazy of. Can you spell soap opera? Having lived in England I can tell you that the British press is totally ruthless. Kate hasn’t missed a beat. She must drive the paparazzi crazy.

Nude Heels
Payless, $29.99
Kate was my inspiration for my nude fashion obsession. She makes conservative and old-fashioned look so good. She has been rocking nude heels like nobody’s business for the last year and I needed to get in on that action.

Since then my life has been nude heels and nude nail polish and non-flashy jewelry and cardigans. I feel like a Republican’s wife sometimes with the crazy amount of neutrals I have filled my life with. But I love it. You can never not feel classy and sophisticated in a pair of nude heels. I might be giving the princess a run for her money, if I do say so myself.

Nude Stockings
Pretty Polly, £5.25
I feel like Kate’s stockings are one of her biggest claims to fame. I remember how crazy people went when she showed up in Los Angeles, the land of all things skimpy, last summer with them on. I, for one, loved it. I am crazy pale, and I don’t tan, so really good stockings add an extra bit of color to my disgustingly pale legs. Anything that gives me an excuse to hide my sheer skin is good for me. These are the stockings that Kate is alleged to wear. The cost comes to about $8 (maybe a little bit more, I’m still used to converting in the year 2009) and best of all, they are actual nylons. If you’re a vintage lover, this website is for you. They have nylons with the seems still stitched up the back of each leg! Not to mention all their other really unique designs.

Sapphire Solitare Necklace
Target, on sale! $31.99
The princess had a very similar necklace to this in her engagement photos, and it’s so fitting of her. Simple, but stunning. Enough to shine in a crowd, but not enough to actually draw a crowd.

Kate proves with almost everything she wears that you don’t need to be glitzy and over-the-top to look phenomenally good. You just need to learn how to rock a few well-selected items. I always try to be inspired by her, which is why she makes the perfect princess to end my princess week with. There’s no better princess out there.

National Princess Week: Pocahontas

26 Apr

Pocahontas is one of those princesses that I’ve come to respect more as I got older. An all-natural gal that loves everything about the world.

I relate to Pocahontas from my days working at a nature park. It really taught me to appreciate nature, especially natural colors and prints. Her style would probably be closes to my weekend style, so this one is kind of easy.

Jungle Green Cargo Shorts
Gap, $49.95
The perks of dressing like a Native American princess? Comfort all day, every day! Little mini jean shorts can be super uncomfortable and bermuda shorts can be just plain ugly. Who hasn’t looked at their guy with jealousy on a particularly humid day when they’re lounging in their gigantic comfortable cargo shorts? Well now it’s our turn. I’m really excited that companies are making a happy medium in short lengths for women now. Before they were either bordering-on-illegal or granny length, but these Gap shorts are a great length and still look cute. And they have a cool little cargo pocket on each side and a frayed hem for those natural-lovers like me.

White Tie-Draped Blouse
Old Navy, on sale! $22.99
Loose, flowy and free! I think that would be Pocahantas’ motto when shopping for clothes. If you’re as outdoorsy and active as this princess is, you obviously don’t want to be held down by tight and binding clothes that stick to you in the heat.

I understand that Pocahantas is a beautiful, tanned, Native American Disney princess, but I’m not. I’m pale and burn after 10 minutes in the sun, so these are the type of clothes I’m desperate for this summer. Things that will be light and loose but will still block me from the sun. Besides, a full day out in the woods means bugs and other natural heeby jeebies. Sometimes sleeves can be like a security blanket.

Gold Feather Bib Necklace
Lucky Brand, $59
This necklace was my complete inspiration for the whole Pocahontas style.  I found it during one of my typical online window shopping excursions and I fell in love. How gorgeous is that? It screams Pocahontas. A gold that’s not too flashy with that subtle blue that could easily be mistaken for some type of stone. Lucky Brand has the best jewelry, and if you go into one of their stores you will always find it on sale. Some of my favorite necklaces and rings came around my one-day stint working as a salesperson for Lucky Brand (No seriously, I only worked there for one day). Lucky Brand has a lot of natural-looking designs and styles that are perfect for the more laid-back and natural fashionista.

Leather Gladiator Sandals
Minnetonka by American Eagle, $60
Obviously we all know that Pocahontas would rather go barefoot than wear shoes, but these are a pretty acceptable option for the alternative. It took me a little while to warm up to the gladiator sandal trend, but once I did I couldn’t get enough. They are so comfortable, especially for someone who hates wearing shoes in the summer (ie: me).  Plus these are really quirky and cute. The suede leaves and glass beads with some real feathers strewn across it have a very Native American feel that I think Pocahontas would approve of.

Faux-Suede Tote
Target, $29.99
Bags with Native American and Aztec patterns are really popular right now, and I’m loving it. They’re all over the place; Target has a million, so does Pac Sun and even Gap. I think it’s fitting for the summer, when you spend most of your free time outside and enjoying all that nature has to offer. I love gigantic bags like this, you can hold all your junk without worrying about fitting everything in on a trip out. Plus, it’s a faux-suede, so it’s animal-friendly, which I think Pocahontas and her many animal friends would appreciate.

National Princess Week: Jasmine

25 Apr

Who didn’t want to grow up in Jasmine’s palace? I would have had no problem hanging out with my pet tiger and my weird, bearded dad in the Taj Mahal shuttin’ down suitors left and right.

When I was picturing what Jasmine would wear today, I definitely pictured something a little on the risky side. I mean, she’s kind of a badass chick, am I right? Definitely one of the toughest Disney princesses out there.

Mini Dress
American Apparel, $40
Homegirl definitely needs a kick into the modern world. Parachute pants? Even with so many vintage trends thriving right now, no one can rock those again. Like I said, I think Jasmine’s a risk taker. She’s not afraid to kick butts to get to her dream guy, and she definitely helped save the day when Jafar went all nutso. She walks around in shoulderless crop tops while a bunch of suitors are dragging their tongues behind her with no shame. So obviously she would have the hootspa to rock such a sexy dress.

Jasmine would be that girl that you walk past that is super hot and super confident and she knows it and so you do you and you can’t help but hate her a little for it. But it’s okay, because she’s Jasmine and she’s awesome.

Gold Belt Buckle and Accessories
Macy’s, $27.99
Some big, gold accessories are more than necessary for this princess. Bordering on the edge of gaudy? That’s Jasmine to me. I fell in love with this belt buckle when I saw it. A perfect accessory right at the top of her waist where the light blue meets the darker blue in that dress. The pattern reminded me of the design of the royal palace, with a clean design that formed something really beautiful.

Jasmine is a girl about town, and she needs something that screams “Arabian Night.” Pair this with some big gold hoops, bangles and layered gold necklaces and you’ve got a pretty sexy day-to-night outfit

Metallic Wedges
Jennifer Lopez for Kohl’s, on sale! $44.99
You’re not going to see Jasmine in a coat and UGGs anytime soon. She’s a summer girl with some mighty fine summer style. And these sandals scream hot and sunny.

Let me just say that I am completely obsessed with these sandals (which is hard for me to admit since I can’t stand Jennifer Lopez). I think I might need them. They’re the perfect color to match with a million things, and they’re sexy without going trashy, which is pretty hard to come by in cork wedges. A great little pinch of metallic for any outfit without looking too flashy.

Tiger Purse
Michael Kors, $178
You’ve got to represent everyone’s favorite tiger Rajah right? I was surprised by how hard it was to find tiger print anything. Apparently cheetahs are cooler or something… whatever.

I have wanted one of these Michael Kors totes for forever. Chic and practical and totally wonderful. Plus, tiger print? Sign me up! It’s the perfect bag for transitioning from spring to summer, and maybe even the fall if you’re feeling dangerous.

Rajah would approve.