All posts in the Beverages category

Hop Scare IPA

Published October 17, 2012 by jenmatteson

I often forget to (or don’t seem to get around to) blog about our beers.  I think the problem is because there is so much waiting time between when we actually brew it, and when I can drink it and give a good honest review of the beer.

One of our more recent brews was another IPA, this time Hop Scare IPA.  I enjoyed this one far more than the Octaine IPA as it was much hoppier and tasted more like a true IPA.  When we started this one, it had been awhile since we brewed, and we sort of forgot when to take the hydrometer reading, which means that we didn’t get an exact alcohol content.  However, we’re pretty sure it’s quite high as drinking just one can get a person pretty buzzed.  Two, and you’re probably good for the evening.  My best guess is close to 12%.  Yikes!

Hop Scare IPA

Source: Midwest Supplies
Servings: Makes 5 gallons


dry yeast
priming sugar

1 lb Caravienne

.75 oz. Yakima Magnum
1 oz. Amarillo
2 oz. Cascade

6 lb Briess Gold Liquid extract
2 lb Light dried malt extract

Panty Ripper

Published August 9, 2012 by jenmatteson

Our last drink tasting party was Olympic themed.  You might be wondering how a drink called Panty Ripper has anything to do with the Olympics.  Well, did you know that at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, 100,000 condoms were distributed to the athletes in Olympic Village, which breaks down to 14 per athlete?  Did you know they ran out (Waoh Naija)?  The 2012 Summer Olympics are slightly higher.  There were over 150,000 condoms distributed to Olympic Village, averaging about 15 per athlete (Housing Works).  That means that athletes were getting it on about 30 times in a two-week time period (of course, that’s assuming they are only hooking up with each other – and let’s be honest, if you had a body like Ryan Lochte, wouldn’t you only hook up with someone as equally hot as you?).

Well, that is not at all why we made the Panty Ripper for the Olympic themed drink tasting, you sicko.  The rules were to bring a drink that was at least one color of the Olympic Rings.  Did I tell you this was a last-minute tasting? Anyway, the Panty Ripper is yellow, one of the allowed colors.  The first time I had one was in Belize, the country’s unofficial national drink.  In Belize, you’ll find it on menus and hear it pronounced as “panty rippa”.  It’s a simple concoction of coconut rum and pineapple juice with a maraschino cherry.  Sounds so easy, and it is, and it’s also very refreshing.  My mother, who is not generally a drinker, would put down 4-5 of these before and during dinner.  She absolutely loved them!  And they were making them “light” by any means 😉  Everyone else on the trip seemed to like them too; I think we each had a few per day while we were there.

We brought home the gold with this drink, although I must admit that we tied with Leah and Dan.  They made Olympic Dreams, Russian Style.  This drink was a mix of fruit punch flavored vodka (I didn’t even know they made that), 7Up, grenadine, and a splash of lime juice, garnished with a cherry.  It was tastey, but slightly on the sweet side for me.  It tasted like a strawberry soda!  Dave and Shane didn’t bring their “A” game and came with watermelon pucker.  But, lucky for them, they took home the bronze.  We had a ceremony and everything – Leah and I represented the top stair of the “podium” for our gold medals (although no actual medals were distributed).

Panty Ripper


coconut rum (I like Parrot Bay)
pineapple juice
maraschino cherry


1. In a tall glass filled with ice, add 1 part rum and 2 parts pineapple juice.  Garnish with a cherry, mix as desired, and serve.

Java Stout

Published July 7, 2012 by jenmatteson

I posted a few weeks back how excited I was for this beer, and boy was I right.  This beer is so delicious!  It has a deep coffee flavor, but it doesn’t taste heavy.  We brought it to our drinking tasting (the theme was beer…yes, just beer…nothing in particular) and went head to head against 11 other beers, ours being the only homebrew.  Well guess what?  We finally won our first drink tasting (the other tasting we won with the watermelon-mint jello shots took place after this one, and was a different tasting group – in case you were wondering).

Once we finish the basement and put in the bar with taps, this will have to be one that we have all the time.  While I want everyone I know to try it and see how good it is, I’m reluctant to share it because we have such a limited quantity right now.  I suppose we’ll have to make a few more batches for back ups!  We’ve shared quite a bit of this brew, and everyone seems to love it.  I think this might be one of my favorite beers…ever.

Java Stout


4 oz Peace Coffee Nicaraguan Blend
Munton’s 6 gm dry yeast
priming sugar

8 oz chocolate malt
4 oz flaked barley
4 oz caramel 60oL
4 oz roasted barley

1/2 oz challenger
1 oz tettnang

6 lbs dark LME

Boozy Watermelon Pops

Published July 5, 2012 by jenmatteson

It’s watermelon season, and what better way to enjoy one of the best fruits of summer than by soaking it in a little rum.  These pops, with a little extra blue for Independence Day, were great to bring along to my girlfriend, Shannon’s, BBQ.  They were super simple to make, and you certainly don’t have to use cookie cut outs, you could easily just use triangles, as did The Shiksa in the Kitchen.

Besides the addition of the blueberries, I changed the original recipe just a tad.  I didn’t have any mint extract, but I still had mint leaves left over, so I boiled those with the simple syrup to infuse the minty flavor.  It was definitely noticeable, though I probably would have used more if I had some, but I only had about 10 leaves left.  Additionally, believe it or not, I didn’t have any white rum in my cupboards.  I had spiced rum, citrus rum, raspberry rum, and of course several other varieties of liquor.  I decided to go with the raspberry rum to add a little extra flavor to the pops.  Great choice!  You could easily omit the rum to make these child friendly, too.

Shannon handed out my pops as soon as we arrived, and everyone loved them.  I probably should mention it was 101 degrees, a holiday record for the Twin Cities, so an ice-cold boozy popsicle probably tasted like heaven, no matter what was in it.  We put them back into the freezer until long after the fireworks, and Shannon brought them out again, and it was a perfect cool sweet treat at the end of the night.

Boozy Watermelon Pops

Source: The Shiksa in the Kitchen
Servings: Makes about 30 popsicle


3/4 cup sugar
3/4 water
20 mint leaves
1 seedless watermelon
1 cup rum (I used Bacardi Black Razz)
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1 pint blueberries
30 skewers


1. In a small sauce pan, combine sugar, water, and mint leaves.  Turn heat to medium.  Once sugar is dissolved, bring to a boil for 3 minutes.  Set aside to cool completely.  This is your simple syrup.

2. Slice watermelon as desired.  To make the pops more fun, I used cookie cutters in the shape of stars for the 4th of July.  Go ahead and get creative!  Make sure they are thick enough to stay on popsicle sticks.  In a shallow baking dish, place watermelon slices in a single layer.

3. Once cooled simple syrup has cooled, add rum and lime juice.  Pour mixture over watermelon slices and let soak for up to one hour.  I flipped mine halfway through so that both sides of the watermelon could soak in the goodness.

* Looking back, a large gallon sized zip top bag would have also been a great way to soak the watermelon evenly, without having to flip them.

4. Once watermelon have soaked, place on foil lined baking sheet in a single layer.  If you would like to place a blueberry in the middle as I’ve done above, now is a good time to do so.  Cut out a small circle using a paring knife, and wedge a blueberry in the hole.  Freeze for at least one hour.  Meanwhile, thread 5-7 blueberries on your skewers.

5. Once watermelon has semi-frozen, insert skewers, and serve on a bed of ice.  Garnish with mint leaves if desired.

Pomegranate Mojito

Published July 1, 2012 by jenmatteson

I feel like mojitos are getting huge lately.  Everywhere I go, every place has their own take and their own “special flavor” of mojitos.  I don’t feel like I really jumped on this bandwagon of mojitos, but while waiting for an old friend on a hot hot patio, I gave in.  I ordered the pomegranate mojito because it just sounded so refreshing.  It was.  And it was amazing.  Since I still had mint leftover in my fridge from the watermelon-mint jello shots that I wanted to use up, I thought this was a great idea.

From the menu, the only hints I got for ingredients were Bacardi Razz and, of course, pomegranate juice.  But, that helped a lot, because when I recreated it at home with a few extra ingredients, I felt like I was right back on that patio!  Our neighbors were having a party and we each walked over, drinks in had.  The hosts both tried them and loved them.  When I went home to refill our drinks, I was instructed to bring a pitcher of these mojitos.  They were tasty!

Pomegranate Mojito

Source: Inspired from Flame
Servings: 1 drink


1/2 lime, cut in 4 wedges
6-8 mint leaves
2 oz Bacardi Black Razz
1 oz pomegranate juice
4 oz club soda
splash of lemon-lime soda (I used Sprite Zero)


1. In a highball, add limes and mint leaves.  Muddle limes and mint leaves with wooden spoon (or back end if it doesn’t fit into the glass).  Fill glass with ice.  Add Bacardi Black Razz, pomegranate juice, club soda, then top with a splash of lemon-lime soda.  Stir and serve.

Mexican Cerveza

Published June 27, 2012 by jenmatteson

I’ve really let my beer blogging sit on the back burner for a while.  I think the problem is that with food, I get instant, or almost instant, gratification, whereas with beer, I have to wait, and wait, and wait.  By the time it’s ready, I’ve forgotten that I should be blogging about it too.  I must devise a new strategy.

The third beer that we brewed was a “Mexican Style Cerveza”.  This was a little different from our IPA and Red Ale in that it only needed to boil for 20 minutes, rather than an hour.  Additionally, we didn’t have to steep any grains (which is probably why it’s only a 20 minute boil).

Well, we finally made our first brewing mistake.  After making the wort, adding yeast, letting it ferment, and transferring it to the secondary fermenter, we bottled it.  Well, we forgot to add the priming sugar, and this is what add carbonation to beer.  I didn’t even notice until we were making our next batch of beer, and wondered why we had to packages of priming sugar.  This was a week after we’d bottled the cerveza.

We called for some expert opinions on what to do next, or if we should just abort the mission.  They suggested adding carbonation pellets to each bottle.  I don’t know why, but I was thinking carbonation pellets were the same thing you find in Guinness cans, the CO2 cartridges…well, they aren’t.  They look like little pills basically. We bought a bag, and added 4-7 (we had two different sized bottles) to each bottle.  We then had to wait for four weeks until it was ready.

The result was initially questionable.  I didn’t really even want to try it since there was so much visible muck in the bottom of the bottles.  This was even more surprising since we didn’t even steep any grains, so I had to assume this was from the carbonation pellets.  But, we bit the bullet and gave it a whirl.  Much to our surprise, it was quite refreshing, though really nothing like a Coronoa (which is what the kit label claimed).  If I had to compare it to a Mexican beer, I would say it’s closest to a Dos Equis Amber, which I don’t at all mind.  Add a lime for a little fresh twist, and you’re good to go.  This was perfect after a 95+ degree day, with super humidity.  Just don’t drink it to the last drop…I’m still a little weary of the sediment.

Mexican Cerveza


priming sugar
dry yeast

3 lbs, 5 oz Munton’s Mexican Cerveza Hopped LME
2 lb light DME

1 oz hallertau

We’ve learned a few lessons from this experience, and I could only assume the next one (Java Stout) will be 100 times better…and it was!

Watermelon Breeze

Published June 23, 2012 by jenmatteson

You may be wondering why I am posting a watermelon breeze right after the watermelon-mint jello shots.  Where’s the variety, right?  Well, turns out when you puree half of a watermelon, you end up with quite a bit of extra juice (it might also have to do with the fact that 3 cups of the juice was replaced with gin to make jello shots…).

So I couldn’t just throw it out.  I HATE wasting food; it’s a big pet peeve of mine.  So, after our wine on Thursday (which is always wine and sweatpants night in my house), I finished off the night with this delightfully refreshing summer bevie.  You could certainly substitute another liquor for the gin, but I think the flavor of the gin pairs nicely with the mint and truly acts as a background flavor to the watermelon.  Even if you think you don’t like gin, try it first.  Really, it was difficult to taste the liquor in this one…which certainly can be dangerous.

Watermelon Breeze

Source: Pigzilla Original
Servings: 1 cocktail


2 oz gin
4-6 oz pureed watermelon with mint (process here)
1 oz soda water
lime for garnish
mint sprig for garnish


1. Fill a low ball with ice.  Pour in gin, watermelon puree, then top with splash of soda water.  Stir as desired.  Garnish with lime and mint.

Watermelon-Mint Jello Shots

Published June 23, 2012 by jenmatteson

Nate and I were invited to a drink tasting party at our neighbors house this weekend.  I decided it would be a great time to try out these amazing looking jello shots I saw on Food Gawker.  I thought it was such a clever idea and was blown away at how incredibly simple these were to make.

They looked just as awesome when mine were done too, but unfortunately, my jello didn’t congeal to the rind.  Well, it did in some places, but once I sliced it, pretty much all the jello separated from the rind 😦  I’m not sure where I went wrong, but I guess that means I’ll have to try again.  Regardless, they were super neat looking, and tasted good, too.  I used gin, as it went with the theme of the party, but vodka would be wonderful too!  Oh, and we took first place for drinks, too 😉

Watermelon-Mint Jello Shots

Source: E is for Alphabet
Servings: 24-30 shots


1/2 seedless watermelon
30-40 mint leaves
juice from 1 lime
2-4 tbsp honey (depending on how sweet you want it)
4 packets Knox gelatin
1 1/2 cup vodka or gin


1. Hollow out half watermelon to create a vessel to mold the jello.  In a blender, combine insides of watermelon with mint leaves(you may have to do this in a few batches).  Strain through mesh strainer to separate the solids from the liquid.

2. Pour 3 cups of the watermelon-mint juice into a large saucepan.  Stir in lime juice and honey until combined.  Sprinkle gelatin over mixture and let stand for a minute or two.  Heat mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until gelatin is completely dissolved, about 3 minutes.

3. Stir in alcohol and pour mixture into hollowed out watermelon.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.  Slice into wedges and garnish with mint leaves.

* Note: Don’t throw out that extra watermelon-mint juice.  Cool off with a watermelon breeze!

How would you use up the rest of your watermelon-mint juice?

Like a kid waiting for Christmas!

Published April 30, 2012 by jenmatteson

We are onto our fourth beer, (I still have to blog about the Mexican Cerveza), but I HAD to make a quick note about the beer we started last night.  I absolutely cannot wait for this beer to be done, although it won’t be for almost two months 😦  We started a Java Stout and it looks and smells amazing!  The kit came with four different kinds of grains, one of which was chocolate malt.  It also came with Peace Coffee, which smells incredibly delicious.  We add that to the secondary fermenter, which won’t be for another week, but I’m tempted to brew it before then!  Here’s a sneak peek at the ingredients:

Octane IPA

Published April 16, 2012 by jenmatteson

After having one brew under our belts, Nate and I were quite excited to start our second, and hopefully not screw it up this time.  We did get another kit, as we figured we should master brewing a kit before we move on to picking out our own ingredients.  This time we chose and Octane IPA; superbly high in hop and malt.  We added 1 oz of oak chips to the secondary fermentation, which should add a hint of woodiness, which is said to have been present in the original IPAs that were sent to British troops in oak caskets while stationed in India.  Bet you didn’t know that!

I’m a big IPA fan, and I must say that we did quite a good job on this brew.  The alcohol content was about 7.5%, and the hops were strong, but not overpowering.  This would be a beer I wouldn’t mind having on tap regularly!

I’m not going to repeat all the steps in every brew, as most will be pretty much the same for each beer, but with different ingredients.  Picture and ingredients below 🙂

Octane IPA

1 oz Oak Chips
Priming Sugar
Wyeast British Ale #1098

6 lbs Gold Liquid Malt Extract (LME)
3.3 lbs Amber LME

Specialty Grains:
8 oz Carmel 40L

2 oz Cascade
1 oz Willamette
1 oz Goldings

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