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Cucumber Kolsch

Last night I slept with the windows down and a down blanket on my bed again. I curled up under a second layer of fluffy blankets and had to put on my blue fuzzy robe (with yellow duckies on them of course) in the morning to fight off the chill in the apartment. Friends, even though it was back to a high of 88 today, fall is peeking through. I’m spending every last second of sunshine on my porch in a swimsuit with my sunglasses on and a beer in my hand.

Cucumber Kolsch

All in all…
True to its name, this definitely tastes like a light beer with cucumber slices dropped in. I’m not a fan of the aroma right before you take a sip, but this has a really pleasant aftertaste. As my boyfriend stated once, cucumbers are selfish. You add cucumbers to anything and they take over any other flavors present. It’s still a nice beer, and be aware that cucumber is very much everywhere. I wonder how this would compare to taking a regular kolsch and adding cucumber slices? Also…sidenote: have you tried putting cucumber slices on your eyelids late at night? God almighty what a delicious feeling.

Recommend to a friend?
If you’re adventurous give it a try. Plus, where else have you seen a cucumber beer?

Lightweight-safe?
Yep! 5.2%

Plus one?
I’ll have another, but I wouldn’t have one more after going to another style. Stick to this and this only.

Get a six pack?
Yes please on a hot summer day.

The Hops
Flat 12 Bierworks – Indianapolis, IN
Kölsch

Cucumber Kolsch

Indiana beers

This six pack project feature is brought to you by a girl in love with and missing her home state. I’ve lived in many states and countries, but I’m so proud to call Indiana home. I actually live in Missouri now, right outside St. Louis, and while St. Louis has a thriving craft beer scene I still miss the craft beer community back home. Indiana is this random pocket with an incredible variety, impeccable quality, and unbelievably affordable craft beer. The city I’m from (Muncie) is even more affordable than average, with specials found at local bars like $2 Bell’s nights, $0.50 PBR nights, and $4 Zombie Dust. That’s right. $4 Zombie Dust (prices of course may have changed since I moved). Indianapolis is teeming with new breweries like Flat 12, Fountain Square, Black Acre (please visit their website and say you’re under 21), Sun King, Cutters, Triton, I’m going to miss others if I keep going…and we can claim Three Floyds as an Indiana brewery. But that can be a familiar scene found everywhere. Craft breweries are springing up all over the place. So what is drinking craft beer like in Indiana?

Craft beer in Indiana is going to a local pub where the bartenders actually say hi (waves hi to Savage’s and The Fickle Peach), with clientele ranging from professionals going for a drink right after work, parents and grandparents getting a burger and a beer, to local university students. Of course you’ll have your lovely cast of local characters as well. Craft beer in Indiana is comfortable. It’s welcoming. It’s relaxed. It’s accessible and affordable. We just want more people to try craft beer. We’re excited about the beer we’re drinking. And we’re bursting with pride. I haven’t found it to be boastful, but more the sparkly-eyed “Have you tried this?? It’s amazing!” that you ask your friend after sipping a new beer. We want you to come join us for a beer (or a few).

United State of IndianaShirt from United State of Indiana. It’s my favorite.

My six pack review is probably going to be a little different from the others as I wasn’t able to select each beer from the store and as I don’t write typical reviews. As I’m currently living out of state, I was dependent on what my father was able to select last minute at the store before meeting me on our family weekend. While some of these do represent specific beers that you must try if you’re in Indiana, these represent breweries that make me really proud to be from Indiana and that I think are doing an amazing job to promote and carry forward the great craft beer culture in Indiana. That being said, as only six beers could be featured there are others I wasn’t able to highlight here but are doing a wonderful job. I would highly recommend that you check out Hoosier Beer Geek to explore all the amazing Indiana beers and breweries, and help plan a visit if you are traveling there soon.

Indiana beers

Flat 12 Walkabout Pale Ale

This beer is like an exclamation point. If you take the brightness of a Two Hearted, subtract a little of the bite, and drop the ABV we’re on our way to a Walkabout Pale Ale. This pale ale is so juicy and so shiny that I want to have several of them for the middle of winter when I start to forget what summer feels like. This pale ale is for an evening camping, it’s for making a bonfire, and for the smell of evergreens. It pairs well with this song.

Flat 12 is one of my favorite Indiana breweries by far. I was so impressed with this beer the first time I had it a summer or two ago, and most beers of theirs that I’ve tried have been top notch. (With the exception of a kiwi hefeweizen…that just wasn’t for me) They even have a Brazilian Coffee Chipotle Vanilla Porter that sounds deliciously rich, which I’m currently trying to use to make a concept cookie. (Wish me luck!) Plus there’s a Cucumber Kölsch in my fridge I’m stoked about trying.

Indiana beers

Fountain Square Workingman’s Pilsner

I first had a Fountain Square beer on the day of a bike race down in Fountain Square (how appropriate). I met up with a dear friend to watch the race and we walked a while to the Tomlinson Tap Room to catch up, enjoy the air conditioning, and have crepes. It was a gorgeous sunny day, we finished our beers, went back to the races, and enjoyed the summer day. That is a good day for an Indiana beer.

Pilsners are almost impossible for me to pin down. But this one was really enjoyable – after drinking some pilsners it can feel like I’m just drinking water, you know? But the Workingman’s Pilsner is heartier (not hearty like a dark ale) and smells like active dry yeast right out of the packet.

Indiana beers

Mad Anthony IPA

This smells like summer. It’s sharp and sparkly and feels like fresh cut peaches. The Mad Anthony IPA doesn’t leave you with any bitter aftertaste, and is best enjoyed after a day in the sun. Drink one when your cheeks are pink from the sun and heat and the wind has tangled your hair. Unless you’re a guy. Then you’d probably have short hair that doesn’t tangle. You should still drink this anyways. (This is legitimately one of my favorite IPA’s)

Indiana beers

Three Floyds Alpha King

Ah Alpha King. Ah Three Floyds…If you only try one beer out of this six pack, let it be Alpha King. This is the IPA for me. If I had to take one IPA with me to a desert island, I would take an Alpha King. When you’re exhausted at the end of the work day, when your Gmail Inbox “unread” count is reaching epic proportions, when you have dishes to clean, and people to call back, have an Alpha King. Then take a bubble bath. This thing has enough strength and heart to carry you through.

indiana beers

Sun King Osiris

Sun King is a big presence in the Indiana craft beer world, and the Osiris is my favorite of their flagship beers. If you love white grapefruit and love citrusy pale ales, this is the one for you. This definitely isn’t a brewery you should miss if you spend time in Indiana, and you won’t be able to miss them if you spend any time around bike races or cyclocross. Their beer truck is a familiar and welcome sight, and no matter what anyone says I’ll always like the Wee Mac because of having it for the first time on a chilly fall day at a cyclocross race traipsing around in muddy boots. Pairing a Wee Mac with a cyclocross race in the fall, boots, and cowbells is a winning combination. The one I have not been able to try but am dying to is their Popcorn Pilsner. I keep hearing amazing things about it, so if you have the opportunity to try it have one for me okay?

Indiana beersUpland Bad Elmer’s Porter

You know, I love summer beers. I love lagers. I love pale ales. But the Bad Elmer’s porter makes me miss rich, dark beers. This is boozy dessert in a cup. It is roasted coffee. It is chocolate. This is a go-to porter for me. And bonus! Only 5.0% ABV. This is a win.

Upland feels like the definition of an Indiana brewery. They’re settled in hilly and beautiful southern Indiana, sponsor camping weekends, and have their own cycling team. While I can’t say I would go to bat for every single one of the beers in their regular lineup, the Bad Elmer’s Porter and the Dragonfly IPA are not to be missed.

A big thank you for Bryan over at This is Why I’m Drunk for including me in his Six-Pack Project and letting me rave about Indiana. During the day (meaning when I get home from work at lunch and dinner) I’ll be posting links to the features for other states from this month. Hope you enjoy and find a few new beers to try in your travels!

Other six-pack projects for August:

 


six-pack project

Bad Elmer's Porter chocolate cake

This is the time when we don’t want to let go. This is when pumpkin beers start to hit the shelves and this is when I see school supplies and boots in the stores. It doesn’t feel so strange to not be in school anymore, and the humidity still feels like June, but when September starts creeping up it feels like we’re leaving something behind. We don’t have several months of sunburned days and hot nights ahead of us anymore. I usually try to hang on to any shred of summer I can, and try to will the warm weather to stay. But I’m trying to remind myself that as the months pass there are still new adventures ahead of us.

I have a life, a job, and a person firmly in the past at this point. No part of my present. I listened to a song that we played on the way to Pittsburgh, and realized how far behind that feels at this point. My whole life I’ve struggled with “looking in the rearview mirror” as my father puts it. And it’s true. I still don’t have the concept of “letting go” completely down. I’ve moved away from my hometown, and at least for now, I’m doing better this time around. The faster we try to cling on to memories of the past to keep them as part of our present, the seasons, anything that’s left, the faster they disappear like water from our cupped hands. Time moves faster than we can imagine, so we have to either let go or be dragged. Now let’s bake some cake.

To continue the adventure of baking with beer, I used a Bad Elmer’s Porter and adapted a recipe from Tartelette for a chocolate cake that is rich, but not too dark, and smooth. I used the porter and coffee to replace the water and espresso powder that her recipe calls for. Next time you have someone over for dinner (or even treat yourself to dinner) break out the coffee again and some vanilla ice cream to have with this cake. I have a stash of Indiana beers I’m trying to get through, but you can use any mild porter that is available in your area.

Porter Chocolate Cake with Bad Elmer’s Porter
Adapted from Tartelette

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup Bad Elmer’s Porter, flat and room temperature
1/2 cup warm coffee

1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy in a medium sized bowl (you’ll have all your batter in this one at the end). Add eggs and mix until incorporated.
2. Mix dry ingredients (cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and baking soda) in separate bowl.
3. Prepare coffee and let cool until barely warm to the touch. Mix with the beer.
4. Add half of the the coffee/porter mixture to the butter, sugar, and eggs and mix quickly until incorporated. (Yes, this will be very soupy. Just keep mixing until smooth).
5. Add half of the dry ingredients and gently mix until just incorporated.
6. Add second half of the coffee/porter mixture, and mix again.
7. Slowly add the remaining half of your dry ingredients and mix again until just incorporated.
8. Butter and flour three miniature spring-form or mini cake pans.
9. Fill 3/4 full with cake batter, and bake at 325 degrees F for 30-35 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean).

Note: This cake will rise a lot, so if you want to use this recipe to make a multi-layered cake you will need to cut the tops off so that the pieces are level.

Bad Elmer's porter chocolate cake

Bad Elmer's Porter chocolate cake

You’ve probably read The Food Babe’s article titled “The Shocking Ingredients in Beer.” (I really don’t want to link to it, because I think one of the goals of that post was to direct a lot of traffic to that website. Sigh.)

The craft beer community has been quick to respond to it in articles and generally through Twitter. Most recently The Dangers of Dumbassery – bless you.

The craft beer community’s response has gone something a little like this, and I love it.

Peach cobbler with beer

Peach cobbler with beer

If you’ve been here a while you may have noticed that I don’t do a whole lot of baking with beer. It really intimidates me and I have not had a lot of luck in the past, but I think it’s because I haven’t taken the time or had the patience to do try it again. This weekend I said enough is enough. Let’s get weird.

Normally this cobbler is very tart (especially with perfectly ripe peaches) and bright, and using this bit of beer rounds the flavor out. If you don’t want to make the leap in using beer in a whole recipe, I would recommend taking the portion of cut peaches you would use for one cobbler and cover that with the beer described below. This way you can still try the beer in one of the cobblers and be able to compare it to the regular recipe (sans beer). You know what the best part of this recipe is, though? The  step that calls for “Drink the rest of the beer.”

Fountain Square Workingman’s Pilsner Peach Cobbler
using a slightly adapted version of Joy the Baker’s topping

2 large ripe peaches
1/4 C all-purpose flour
1/4 C packed dark brown sugar
3 Tablespoon rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons slivered almonds or granola
3 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 bottle Fountain Square Workingman’s Pilsner (or other pilsner you can find)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare the topping by dicing butter into 1/4 inch slices, then placing in the freezer (on the cutting board, with the knife) for about 15 minutes to stiffen. Now cut again into 1/4 inch cubes. (This is my way of getting the butter down to really small pieces before you start mixing it with dry ingredients)
2. Mix all dry ingredients together in a small bowl, add butter, and mix with your hands. Crumble the butter into smaller pieces with the dry mixture until the mixture can be patted down and sticks together so that you can create a kind of crust on top of the fruit. (The motions are almost like kneading bread)
3. Peel the peaches, and slice into one inch cubes. Place into a small bowl.
4. Pour the pilsner over the peaches until they are covered and let sit for about five minutes. Drink the rest of the beer.
4. Spray Pam or butter the inside of small ramekins (I used three).
5. Drain peaches and fill ramekins until the peaches are even with the top. Pour 1-2 teaspoons beer over peaches. Sprinkle the topping generously over the peaches until the are covered and press down so the topping is compact.
6. Place ramekins on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes. (I use a cookie sheet in case the fruit juice spills over a little. This happened to me once, so better safe than sorry, I say)
7. Serve hot and preferably with vanilla ice cream. Obviously.

Peach cobbler with beer

Schlafly Summer Lager

This beer is what my summer has looked like. Cool nights, calm, unassuming, and…quality. Just quality. Quality time relaxing, quality time baking in the sun listening to Frank Ocean, quality time cooking dinner every night, quality time kicking up my feet on the porch table, and quality time reading outside as it gets dark. This beer is just right for this summer. It’s a staple on my grocery list, and I really hope that this is a regular on their summer lineup.

All in all…
What is a summer lager supposed to taste like anyways? Well I certainly don’t claim to know, but if you’re looking for one start here. It’s not a stout so I can’t tell you all about how smooth and rich it is. It’s not a porter so I can’t tell you that it’s smoky. It’s not an IPA so I can’t tell you if the hops smell like grapefruit or pine cones. It’s not a pale ale so I can’t tell you how well they balanced the hops and malt. It’s not a Belgian so I can’t tell you that it smells like bread as it’s rising. It’s a lager, and it’s damn good.

Recommend to a friend?
Absolutely

Lightweight-safe?
Yes! 4.5%

Plus one?
For sure. Enjoy a few for one laid-back evening.

Get a six pack?
This is great for a six pack. Keep these in stock all summer long. You don’t have to think twice about having another as it’s affordable and low in ABV.

The Hops
The St. Louis Brewery – St. Louis, MO
Summer Lager

Schlafly Summer Lager

I remember the moment I fell in love with Paris. Head over heels love for a city. I was in serious culture shock for a very long time after my family moved, and it wasn’t until May 16, 2006 that I was happy. My friend Tiffany and I were walking across one of the bridges from Île de la Cité back to the metro station, the sun was setting, it was warm, and everything finally just clicked. And pardon my high-school journal, but I went home ti write “I promised myself I wouldn’t let this happen…I wouldn’t get attached to people. but I can’t help it anymore. I fell in love with Paris. I can’t help but breathe everything in walking home at night. The air is so warm and sweet, the sky a deep blue, the spotlight from the Effel Tower shining….I’m sitting on my window ledge with the windows wide open. The air is perfect.”

I’m glad that it’s taken a lot less time for me to adjust here, but I realized today that it’s going to be really really hard to leave. I went into the city yesterday to go to the Soulard Farmers Market for the second time (woke up naturally at 6:30 am on a Saturday…go figure), and then ventured over to Mud House and Whisk Sustainable Bakery afterward. This farmers market is a thing of wonder: open from Wednesdays through Saturdays, four wings (four!) with more choices than I know what to do with. Two pasta makers, meats, cheeses, flowers, herbs, a spice shop, a flower shop, it goes on and on. The first time I went I found most of my groceries for under $40 (all below), and only had to buy milk, diced tomatoes, hummus, and orange juice at the store. (Granted, I still had quite a few staples from my last grocery store trip). As a side-note, I keep reading great things about the Tower Grove Farmers Market too so I think next time I’ll give that a try. Any other recommendations?

After my trip to the market yesterday morning I drove over to Mud House after seeing it featured on this gal’s blog Food Year Resolutions. She is trying all of the best rated restaurants by Sauce Magazine in St. Louis in one year – awesome (and ambitious) idea. While I think there are just a few that she’s written up so far, I can’t wait to see what she thinks about the rest. This place seriously exceeded my expectations and is just what you would imagine a locally owned coffee house in an old neighborhood should be. We’re talking brick walls, beautiful posters, quirky decorations, dim lighting on a grey morning, and a cozy outdoor patio with couples enjoying a lazy Saturday morning. And of course some incredible coffee. I sat down in the back (next to an incredibly fluffy German Shepherd/Great Pyrenees mix) with my latte and flipped through one of their copies of Feast. As I looked through the articles, pictures, and interviews with culinary figures from St. Louis I was overwhelmed, excited, and extremely intimidated. Every single line in this magazine contains a new name or restaurant or brewery that I immediately wanted to go try. How will I ever be able to choose? I’ve barely barely skimmed the surface just by reading about the food and beer scene in this city, and I already have stars in my eyes. And I haven’t even started on the craft breweries yet. (I know I know)

As if that wasn’t enough, I walked down the street to window shop (antique shops seem to be everywhere) and found Whisk Bakery. Mud House was exactly what you’d want from a coffee shop and Whisk Bakery seems to be right on track with what you’d want from a bakery. I can’t wait to go back again and get some pictures, because again, with the blue. I’m loving these great shades of blue in decor lately. I picked up a chocolate chip cookie with sea salt & bacon (it works, trust me), and then bought some of Mila Sweets‘ macarons to-go (yum-my). Since I got stuck in traffic on my way back I went ahead and got a head start with the Pistachio and Lemon. So good.

This is all to say, I’m really happy where I am right now, and again, I love where I live. I don’t expect that I’ll be here forever, but this has been and is going to continue to be an amazing city to live near and a great community I hope I can be a small part of. Come visit and you’ll see.

Groceries from the market

Bunches of basil

Hazelnuts from the market

Soulard Farmers Market

Soulard Farmers Market

Pasta from the farmers market

Sunflowers!

Spice Center

Outside view