A Couple of Beers: 2-Hop IPA

STATS

Beer: 2-Hop India Pale Ale

Brewery: 4204 Main Street Brewing Co.

ABV: 6.7%

Description: This West Coast-style India Pale Ale features dry floral hop notes upfront with a clean citrus hop finish.

Our Thoughts

Matt

I was pretty jazzed when I pulled an IPA out of our mystery box tonight. Yes, that’s right. I AM a basic white guy who loves IPAs. But instead of waiting to drink them in a season like they were a PSL, I drink them almost all the time now.

My feelings on IPAs have changed drastically since my friend RJ brought some Sam Adams IPAs to a party seven or eight years ago. Back then I thought it was the most disgusting thing I’d ever had. I think my exact description was, “Oh, god… this tastes like drinking leaves!” It’s safe to say I’ve done a complete 180 on that opinion. Now it’s hard for me to find an IPA I DON’T like.

Which brings us to tonight’s beer. I judged, based on the name, that this would be a pretty straightforward IPA. Unfortunately, when I opened the can, it foamed up and overflowed. After pouring it into a glass, it was extremely heady. Once I was able to pour it all into the glass, it still had an extremely sudsy look. All that ensured that when we could actually drink it, what we got was flatter than it should be.

Taste-wise, this one is pretty standard as I suspected. It didn’t blow me away but I didn’t spit it out in disgust either. It certainly doesn’t beat my regular IPA heavy-hitters like Odell IPA, WBC V6, or Third Place Brewing Red Truck IPA. I wish we could have gotten the full un-flattened experience but I definitely wouldn’t say no if you offered me another one.

Emma
First off, I LOVE IPAs! I didn’t used to like them. But as I’ve recounted before, my tastes in beers have evolved and expanded over the years. My favorite IPAs are hazy and hoppy! It’s crazy to me how many different varieties of IPAs there are. This 2-Hop intrigued me since we’ve been testing more browns lately.
This one was nothing to write home about.
It had the hoppiness, while still being smooth and palatable. But there was just nothing special about it. Nothing was super exciting about it. Nothing that made me feel like Homer Simpson when he thinks about donuts. It just…was. And that’s not what drinking beer is about, is it?
I wouldn’t get this again. I’d drink it if it was the only thing available. I wouldn’t be mad about drinking it. I wouldn’t refuse it. It just wouldn’t be my choice.
If given the choice, I would reach for a New Belgium Voo Doo Ranger in ANY variation! We’ve gotten a variety pack and also tried The American Haze. All awesome!

 

Rating

We’re giving this beer 3 CHEERS out of 5.

We thought this one was just average. It wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t great either. We wouldn’t turn our nose up if it was the only IPA available but we wouldn’t reach for it if we had other options. It exists and that’s okay.

A Couple of Beers: S’more Chocolate and Marshmallow Ale

 

STATS

Beer: S’more Chocolate and Marshmallow Ale

Brewery: Shiner

ABV: 5.0%

Description: To celebrate our 111th year of independent brewing, we brewed Shiner S’more with real Texas chocolate. We sought out the perfect fire-roasted cacao for this chocolatey creation. We brewed up Texas small-batch cacao along with roasted malts for a full-bodied flavored ale with rich notes of chocolate, caramel, and vanilla. A flavorful ale that’s sure to make you one happy camper.

Our Thoughts

Matt

 I’m a long-time fan of Shiner Bock and I’ve liked a lot of what Shiner puts out but I didn’t know what to expect from this beer. I think adding chocolate to beer either makes it or breaks it. The bottle didn’t specifically say it was a stout, the type of beer I most connect with chocolatiness, so I was fully prepared for this one to be a monstrosity. That goes double if they tried to add a marshmallow and graham cracker taste too.

Doing our due diligence, we poured it into a glass and let it aerate. Next came the skeptical smell test. Admittedly, it smelled pretty great. And it was much more translucent than I expected. That told me it probably wouldn’t be as heavy as I feared it might be. 

I’m happy to say that this beer tasted great. Shiner found a way to add a sweet taste without overpowering the overall beeriness. If I had to place this beer into a commom category, I’d say it’s closest to a brown. It looks like a brown and it certainly has notes of brown in its flavor profile. But the chocolate tricks my taste buds and makes me think of a darker, heavier beer, like a stout or porter. 

Overall, I liked it. Would I order or buy it if I had the choice? Probably not. I love brown ales and I love chocolate. The combination of the two is certainly not bad but it’s also not something I’d reach for all the time. I’d say that, like a chocolatey treat, this beer is best enjoyed every once in awhile.

 

Emma

I could feel the internal eye roll emitting from Matt’s aura when I showed him what I randomly picked out of the mystery box of beers. I’ll admit, I was skeptical too. Anything that looks “gimmicky” like s’more, pumpkin spice, Thanksgiving leftovers, (yes that’s real) automatically gives us pause. Are the brewers just trying to attract hesitant beer drinkers to buy something? Is it going to be too much? Too sweet? Just plain nasty? In our experience, flavored beers just tend not to be that good.

This is an exception!

As I’ve said before, browns are my jam! I love the mellowness and the toasty flavor. This, to me, was a really good brown ale with a mild sweetness that was well balanced with the deep chocolate flavors. I didn’t recognize the caramel flavor because it became marshmallow-like, almost as if it had been roasted over a fire. It didn’t feel too “on the nose” s’more or overly sweet to where it was not worth drinking. This type of ale lended itself very well to this flavor and I think it was very well done!

I am happy with this nod to s’mores. It would be a good beer to drink around a campfire while roasting hotdogs, singing along to your favorite songs, and being with loved ones (while socially distancing of course).

 

Rating

We’re giving this beer 3.5 CHEERS out of 5.

This beer was unexpectedly enjoyable but we both thought it was a one-and-done. It’s not too heavy, low ABV, and really drinkable. A dessert beer, but the best kind. 

A Couple of Beers: Walnut Brown Ale

STATS

Beer: Walnut Brown Ale

Brewery: goodwood

ABV: 6.0%

Description: Brown ale with walnuts aged on oak. Touched by wood. Brewed with limestone water.

Our Thoughts

Matt

First of all, the name of this brewery makes my inner 13-year-old snicker. The double entendre must have been chosen on purpose. But it just so happens to perfectly fit their gimmick of aging each of their beers in a different wood.

This particular beer was a brown ale with walnuts, aged in oak. The wood gimmick really intrigued me. I’ve had a few bourbon barrel-aged stouts but never experienced any other beer/wood combinations so I assumed (and hoped) this one might be something special.

Browns are a perennial favorite for me. I haven’t found a brown I don’t like. This one was no exception. After pouring it into glasses (I would never go against Baz), we gave it an initial sniff test. I can’t say I could smell anything that distinguished it from the smell of other browns. It was when I took my first sip that it really opened up.

This beer had a rich flavor with nutty undertones. That nuttiness set it apart from other browns for me. It really added to the natural flavor profile, putting it on par with my favorite browns like Browned-Eyed Grrrr from Hopping Gnome Brewery or Shaven Yak from Wichita Brewing Company. That being said, I had really hoped that it would be different than anything I’d had before. I can’t really say that the oak added anything, though truthfully I don’t know whether Hopping Gnome or WBC use oak in their browns.

Ultimately, this was a solid brown ale. It tasted great and I would absolutely recommend trying it if you’re a fan of browns. However, I couldn’t help but be disappointed that the oak didn’t seem to add anything.

Emma

I love brown ales for their delicious flavor, drinkability, and versatility. They’re really good in the fall/winter to have with soups, stews, and roasts but I could just as easily sip on it while eating apps during the summertime. It’s an easy one to down quickly!
When we first took a smell, it had that comforting brown ale mellowness. That first sip was really delicious! Especially after the last unsatisfying beer. It’s been a while since I’ve had a brown ale and I forgot how much I love that toasty-roastiness. I gladly kept going back for more!
Both the good and bad of this one is that it tastes just like all other nut brown ales I’ve had. I am not disappointed because it is one of my favorite kinds, but I was kind of hoping for something unique about it. We agreed that it tasted almost exactly like Time Portal Breakfast Brown Ale. This isn’t a bad thing at all, but I know exactly where to get that! It is available in most liquor stores.
Overall, I really enjoyed this one, but there was nothing distinctive about it. I’d be excited to see it available it there wasn’t something new to try but I’m not going to seek it out.

Rating

We’re giving this beer 4 CHEERS out of 5.

We both thought it tasted great, as good as some of our favorites. But we couldn’t get over our disappointment that the oak didn’t seem to affect the flavor or set it apart. However, if you’re a fan of browns, go for it!

A Couple of Beers: Merry Berry Ale

 

STATS

Beer: Merry Berry Ale

Brewery: Schlafly

ABV: 6.0%

Description: “Merry Berry Ale uses blueberry, raspberry, and blackberry meshed together for a bold, deep-red beer. An ale inspired by sweet flavors of a French pastry. Smooth and complex.”

Our Thoughts

This beer was a special edition Schlafly put out just before the holidays. Special edition beers tend to be somewhat experimental so it’s kind of a craps shoot whether or not they’ll end up being any good. And with the description included on the bottle, we were left feeling pretty apprehensive.

Full disclosure, we started with this one first to get it out of the way. We’re not the biggest fans of sour beers and this one definitely seemed like it would fit that bill. In our experience, if a brewery goes out of their way to tell you how much fruit is in their beer then it’s going to be face-tinglingly tart.

As always, we poured it into glasses to get the full flavor profile. Ever since Baz, a strapping Australian brewer at Stone Brewery, told our tour group you don’t get the full taste of a beer unless it aerates in a glass, we’ve never done it any other way. But we digress…

Anyway, we poured into glasses so we could drink and discuss. The smell definitely reinforced our feeling this was going to be a face-puckering sour. Then we took a sip. It wasn’t sour at all! In fact, it was surprisingly sweet and smooth. Truthfully, it didn’t taste like a beer in the traditional sense. There was no hoppiness or bite. It was really a flavor you’d expect from a daiquiri,  not a beer.

We had a nagging feeling we’d tasted this flavor before. Finally, it dawned on us: berry Tums! As weird as that sounds, we didn’t hate it. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not going to seek this beer out. The best we can say is that it wasn’t as bad as we thought it was going to be. When you expect to hate something, the only way it can go is up.

Rating

We’re giving this beer 2.5 out of 5 CHEERS.

We didn’t hate it but let’s just say we’re glad we started with it so it’s out of the way. It’s damn near impossible to get past the realization that it tastes like our go-to indigestion cure. Though on the other hand, if we could drink a beer in the middle of the night after eating too many tacos you bet we’d choose that over chalky Tums!

A Couple of Beers: A Husband and Wife Beer Review

Welcome to our beer blog!

By Matt

Three things you should know about us before we start:

  1. We’ve been married for almost seven years.
  2. We live in Wichita, KS.
  3. We LOVE craft beer.

Those three things intersect more than you’d think. When you’ve been married awhile and have young kids at home, you take date nights pretty seriously. Fortunately for us, Wichita has a thriving craft brewery scene. Each brewery has its own personality and we’ve gone to each one enough to know what we can expect to find there. The best part, though? They’re all fairly close to each other so we can mix-and-match freely.

However, since going out isn’t always an option, we keep our beer fridge stocked with sampler packs from different breweries. We’ve tried literally hundreds of beers that way. In fact, that desire to keep trying something new was the impetus of this blog.

On top of having incredible breweries in town, we also have a stellar array of liquor stores that make it their mission to stock a huge variety of regionally- and nationally-distributed craft beers. We picked up a mystery 24 pack, hoping it wouldn’t be full of domestic light beers. Thankfully, it contained an incredible assortment of beers and, amazingly enough, they were all beers we hadn’t tried.

So we decided to use that opportunity to combine our love of beer and our love of writing to create A Couple of Beers: A Husband and Wife Beer Review.

For each review, we’ll provide the beer’s stats (name, brewery, stated type, ABV), our impressions of the beer, and an overall rating.

Our beer history

By Emma

Because we have been together (and drinking beer) as long as we have, we are able to reminisce and even laugh at how our tastes have changed. We were 18 when we started dating and like the good Catholic children we were, we waited until we were 21 to start drinking. It started innocently enough: wine coolers, pina coladas, sickly sweet mixed drinks, and any super cheap light beer that was available. Awww, how cute!
Then came the wheat beer! Shock Top and Blue Moon were the “sophisticated choice” of the time. We even flirted with some craft beers like Leinenkugel’s Sunset Wheat because of its trademark “Fruity Pebbles” flavor. Surprisingly enough, porters and stouts like Guinness were next to become our favorites. Coffee and chocolate? What’s not to like? There were many car bombs to be had! We had a brief moment of straight whiskey and rum and cokes to be our go-to drink orders before the craft beer culture really took off in our area. The more we tried, the more we liked! Reds and Pale Ales and IPAs, oh my! ( A little Kansas humor for you).
We are now at a point where we can appreciate almost any type of beer with the exception of a few. We are not fans of Hefeweizens for their banana-y notes. I personally feel that hop for hop’s sake is just rude. I am loving IPAs more but there is a limit!

Trying new beers is how we unwind and give ourselves time to talk to each other in the middle of our hectic lives. I am so excited to have 24 novel ones for both of us! A true rarity! We hope our thoughts on them will be helpful and entertaining for any of you other craft beer lovers.

Explaining our rating system

We will rate each beer we review on a scale of 1 to 5 CHEERS.

1- We hated this beer. Avoid at all costs. Burn the crops and salt the earth.

2- We were able to get through a can or bottle of it but that doesn’t mean we enjoyed drinking it.

3- Average beer. We wouldn’t have a problem ordering or buying it again but it wasn’t our favorite. Just alright.

4- Above average beer. We enjoyed this one a lot but it didn’t quite have that magical je nais se quoi.

5- We loved this beer and we don’t mind telling you over and over how much we loved it if it comes up in conversation (or even if it doesn’t). So prepare to hear about it.

And We Ran Week 1 Day 2 (Emma)

Matt: Day 2 Exercise At Home

Weight: 199 lbs

I decided to do something a little different today. Instead of doing one of the darebee.com workouts we have, I decided to arms and abs. Emma’s mom gave us some weights so I did bicep and tricep curls. Since it was raining this morning, Emma couldn’t run. She convinced me to do abs-centric yoga. It sucked. Don’t get me wrong, it’ll probably be effective but it was awful. I have no abs. But as Emma reminded me that is in fact the very reason I should be doing ab workouts in the first place. 

Emma: Day 2 Run (Rained out) 
I don’t know why Matt hates ab work outs so much! This one was called “V Cut”. I like it because it is effective without doing crunches. I also did the bicep/tricep stuff with Matt. I’m not so crazy about those. They bore me! Hopefully the rain won’t keep me inside tomorrow!

And We Ran Week 1 Day 2 (Matt) 

Matt: Day 2 Run

5 minute warm-up, alternate running one minute and walking for 90 seconds, 5 minute cool down 

Weight: 196 lbs

Today was my first early run. It was pretty dark and…I may have tripped a time or two. The sidewalks around my neighborhood are kind of uneven. My toe caught the edge of a sidewalk slab. Slightly. But I kept my balance and kept running.

Overall, running was easier today. Greta did incredibly well again. She pulled a little but otherwise she was a trooper. Once she learns to stay where we want her, she’ll make the perfect running buddy.

Emma: Day 2 Exercise At Home

I decided to modify my work out a little bit because I decided to take ownership and personalize my workout….OK OK I was DYING! So I did 2 set of “Korra” and did an abs routine for my 3rd set. “Korra” was chalk full of lunges and squats. It didn’t help that we played dodgeball the night before. Overall successful but painful! I am referring to the workout. Dodgeball was just all around painful!

And We Ran Week 1 Day 1 (Emma)

Emma: Day 1 Run

5 minute warm-up, alternate running one minute and walking for 90 seconds, 5 minute cool down 

Let it be known: today I ran. At 5:45am. In the dark. I had one of those light up snap bracelets and everything! I felt legit!

In all seriousness, the first day of running was not nearly as brutal as I feared. The single minutes of running went by very quickly. I had my trusty dog, Greta, to protect me from the creepers in the dark. This was quite the confidence boost for me to not be absolutely dying. I can do this!

Matt: Day 1 Exercise At Home

Weight: 199.5 lbs

First let me say, I am INCREDIBLY proud of Emma for going through with this running thing. I have tried countless times to get her to do any running. She hates it. I can’t overstate that. Hates it. So, good on her for going for it!

So anyway, back to my workout. It was so much harder than running yesterday. So much. The darebee.com workout I did was called “Ready Player One. It kicked my ass. It involved burpees, punches, climbers, pushups, and high knees. Burpees are awful. Everything else would have been manageable but burpees suck. Then again, I guess that’s kind of the point. And I pushed through it so I know I can do it next time. It can only get easier, right? Let’s hope so.

And We Ran Week 1 Day 1 (Matt)

Matt: Day 1 Run

5 minute warm-up, alternate running one minute and walking for 90 seconds, 5 minute cool down 

Weight: 197.5 lbs

After far too long, Emma have I have decided to get back to exercising. So six days a week we’ll be trading off working out and running with the C25k app.

Today was my first day with the app. Having done this two years ago, I mistakenly assumed it would be a breeze. Not really. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t necessarily hard. It just wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped. But just like the last time I tried this, I know it’ll get easier.

I’m ashamed to admit a minute of running was almost too much at first. Just when I found myself wondering if I’d be able to last… the app told me a minute was already up. After that the minute of running felt a whole lot easier.

Last time I ran we didn’t have a dog. But I’m happy to say that Greta was great. I think she really enjoyed it. If anything, she enjoyed it too much. She kept running ahead of me and pulling. We’ll have to work on that over the next eight weeks.

All in all, I’m excited to be doing this again especially since Emma and I are in it together. Ideally, we’ll keep each other motivated. It’ll be great to see what changes in eight weeks!

Emma: Day 1 Exercise At Home

Weight: N/Ah

I begrudgingly decided that it was time to do something about my ever increasing weight since I stopped breastfeeding. I am NOT an exercise person by any means. Matt will tell you that he has tried to convince me to workout with him many times over the years. I was resistant because, let’s be honest, I didn’t want to put the time and effort into it. I was within a normal healthy weight for my age and height, why complicate things?  But lack of time/motivation for activity, stress, and poor diet have taken its toll on my body. I went from one of my lowest weights to, now, my highest. I am hoping with support from Matt, a new routine, and a little healthier diet, I can become a leaner, more zen version of myself.

We decided to alternate running and working out at home because the mornings worked out best for us and one has to stay home to be with the sleeping babe (lucky duck). We printed off several darebee.com workouts we handpicked to be full body workouts that would keep us interested week to week. The C25K was a great program for Matt to get into running. As much as I hate working out, I absolutely LOATHE running! My dad has been a pretty serious runner in the past and it just never appealed to me. The time commitment, the nasty, sweaty clothes, the expensive shoes, the blisters, black toe nails, and pure exhaustion! Who would put themselves through that?!  But I decided to try, just so MAYBE I can jog short distances for a workout when I want to.

This morning, I picked “The Roaster” for my at-home work out. It is mostly jumping jacks with a few pushups, squats, planks, and mountain climbers thrown in. My legs were like jelly by the end of my 3 sets! Then I chose a back strengthening yoga routine to upkeep my touchy lower back. I have had issues with it on and off since I was 13 so I don’t want to new work out routine to literally throw it off balance. Lastly, I did 100 (5 sets of 20) crunches on the exercise ball.

It feels good to be making a step forward! Even though I am tired from getting up early, I already feel like I have more energy and am in a more positive mood. I knew I wanted to do this for the physical health benefits, but I think the overall benefits will be just what I need as well!

 

 

What Would You Do?

Oops… I keep forgetting about my blogging commitment. I don’t really have much to talk about. I guess I’ll tell a quick story about something weird that happened today.

I went to a cafe with some coworkers so we could play a tabletop card game over lunch. I know what you’re thinking and the answer is yes, we’re really cool. Anyway, halfway through our game, the girl at the table behind us tapped me on the shoulder. She asked me if I would watch her laptop. I agreed thinking it would only be a short thing. We were sitting next to the bathrooms after all.

But she didn’t go to the bathroom. She kept walking.

Seeing that she was walking toward the counter, I thought she was probably going to order something.

But she didn’t go to the counter. She kept walking.

Once she walked past the counter, I thought she was going to get some water.

But she didn’t go to the water. She kept walking. Right out the door.

At this point, my friends and I were stunned. Where was she going? Is this a set up? Are we on “What Would You Do?” with John Quiñones?

After a few minutes she came back into the store with big bag on her shoulder. She proceeded to leisurely walk to the counter and order something then wait at the counter until it was done. Upon receiving her coffee, she came back to her seat and sat down like she hadn’t just asked a group of strangers to watch her $1200 MacBook.

No “thank you.” No “screw you.” No acknowledgement whatsoever. I’m not sure if she was dumb or overly trusting or just incredibly entitled. Whatever it was she was definitely rude.