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Craft the perfect 6-Pack for NFL Sunday

While football officially started last night, the majority of the games kick off this Sunday. We talked about session beers last week and the art of the marathon drinking, but this weekend is going to be different. Many of us will get together for our first football Sunday of the year and with that comes the gift of some great beers with friends.

Headed to a get-together and not sure what to take? Here’s my suggestions for the perfect pick-six, starters and backups, for this weekend.

Easy to Drink IPA:

Starter: Long Trail Limbo IPA. Benchwarmer: Cigar City Jai Alai

Jai-Alai_FinalYes, we all love Ithaca Flower Power, Bell’s Two Hearted, and Troegs Perpetual. Football is all about the sleeper picks and the underdogs coming out on top. I’ve got two here for you that you may not know about. I discovered Long Trail Limbo IPA when getting my hair done a few months ago and fell in love. It’s a solid IPA with a great balance of citrusy grapefruit and straight up hops. Can’t find it? Grab Cigar City Jai Alai. It comes in cans and will remind you of the sunshine state it comes from also featuring citrusy undertones in a well-balanced but often forgotten IPA.

Fall Beer:

Starter: Southern Tier Harvest Ale Benchwarmer: Sam Adams Oktoberfest

stbc harvestFootball season triggers the mental change of seasons so it’s time to think about those fall beers. I’m still avoiding pumpkin beers for a future post, which works well for that special spot in my heart reserved for fest beers. Southern Tier Harvest has a unique blend of hop bitterness and a bit of the biscuity bready fall beer flavor you’d expect. Can’t find one? Sam Adams Oktoberfest is a substitute even I would recommend. Expect a more traditional Oktoberfest malt and grain flavor that’s sure to please anyone at the party.

Wheat Beer:

Starter: Stoudts Heifer-in-Wheat. Benchwarmer: Penn Weizen

penn weizenWhen you drink Stoudts you drink local and you support a woman-operated brewery! The Heifer-in-Wheat is a fantastic example of a great German wheat should be. Hints of banana and clove, bits of citrus, and a golden color. Looking for another option? Grab a Penn Weizen. Yet another Pa. beer to be proud of that continues to be a respectable stylistic representation. A little more mellow than some wheats but a great addition to your sixer.

Classic Stout:

Starter: Left Hand Milk Stout. Benchwarmer: Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout

left hand milk stoutMy classic go-to perfect stout is Left Hand Milk Stout, on nitro if I can. It is the best replacement beer for your Guinness-loving friends. Prepare them for a more expansive flavor offering with hints of chocolate and even coffee on a canvas of creamy stout flavor. Looking for a backup? Grab a Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout. While this certainly doesn’t come second in line, it’s a wonderful option if you’re not in the mood for Left Hand. Fun fact: it’s made with brewer’s licorice which doesn’t impart a ton of flavor, but provides depth and something to train your palate for find.

Fruit Beer:

StarterLancaster Brewing Strawberry Wheat Benchwarmer: Snitz Creek Appleweisse

We’re going Pa.-proud on this one. When it comes to fruit beers my steady choices usually don’t fit in a mixed six, but I’m happy to recommend Lancaster Brewing’s Strawberry Wheat. If you’re feeling frisky, mix it with that Left Hand Milk Stout you picked up. Want a different fruit? Snitz Creek Appleweisse is the ticket. I adore this beer and find it to be a great conversion beer for those cider lovers. Okay, it doesn’t come in bottles (yet) but you can always pick up a growler from the brewery to share.

Flex Beer:

StarterOmmegang Hennepin. Benchwarmer: Victory Golden Monkey

ommegang hennepinSometimes you’re not in the mood for a regular old beer. A wild card. Grab an Ommegang Hennepin. This flagship highly acclaimed saison will pair with just about every football-related food and go down easy. Need something else? Go with the beer that started it all for me: Victory Golden Monkey. This isn’t a beer to take lightly, in fact, this would make a great game winning celebration beer at 9.5% ABV. These also make for great pre-game beermosas if you’re looking to front-end your booze.

What are you drinking this Sunday?

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Weekend Roundup 9/4

Last night, I grabbed some food to go (a whole bunch of it) from Mezza Cafe, which just opened in the State Street Plaza in Lemoyne. The Khouri sisters first operated a stand in the West Shore Farmers Market, and yesterday marked their first day in an independent shop with seating.  Another great BYOB for the west shore!

mezza cafe

Tonight I’m participating in the Central PA SuperChef at the Hershey Lodge. I can’t wait to be a part of this great event — and of course eat so much great food.

The Dauphin County Jazz & Wine Festival begins tomorrow, and I’ll be joining the Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau (with one of my number one gals) for a bit before heading down to Little Amps to see Koji (it’s a big deal).

We start off Saturday with The Bruce Bond Late Afternoon Show on Saturday Morning on 92.1 WTPA. Later, of course is the #BoozeCruise! Hey, I’m giving away a pair of tickets (maybe two — who knows?!) over on Facebook — enter now!

Then on Sunday, we’ve kindly been invited to join a table at the Très Bonne Année Patrons Party. Fine wine and great food — should make for a lovely evening.

This weekend, along with the bulk of September, is PACKED, including at least two wine festivals and three beer festivals — and loads more. Grab a pen and plan out your weekend now!

Need more inspiration? Tune in tomorrow morning during the 7  o’clock hour to Glenn & Bob on The River 97.3 for “Sara’s Weekend Picks.”

What are you doing this weekend?

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{Getaway} Finger Lakes, part 2 of 2

Last week, I began talking about my trip to the Finger Lakes. Today, we move on to the fun stuff : the booze! We didn’t even come close to trying a fraction of them (there are way too many), but out of the ones we did try, here are some recommendations for where to go.

finger lakes

Three Brothers Wineries and Estates – This was a really cool venue. The estate hosts four different buildings, three wineries and a microbrewery. For $10, you can purchase a passport to sample at all four, or you can pay $2.50 at any of the places to do a tasting. The estate is huge, and it was milling with people. They definitely could keep any party happy, with their variety of sweet and dry wines as well as several different types of beers. The employees were all very knowledgeable. I’d highly recommend stopping by.

finger lakes

Penguin Bay Winery – We enjoyed several types of  “sparkling wines,” which most places didn’t have. The staff was super friendly and insisted we tried more than the allotted amount to get a taste for what they offered. They had tons of cute penguin gear and as an added bonus, a portion of their proceeds is donated to the Syracuse Rosamond Gifford Zoo for the Humbolt Penguins exhibit. Drinking wine for a good cause? Sign me up.

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CATEGORIES: Food/Drink, Travel, Wine

Harrisburg Restaurant Week returns Sept. 8-12, 15-19

Looking for an excuse to sample from the area’s best restaurants?

Try: 11 restaurants. 10 days. 3 courses for $30.

2012 Logo

Harrisburg Restaurant Week, provided by the Harrisburg Downtown Improvement District, returns for two weeks of dining pleasure, beginning next Monday, Sept. 8-12 and Sept. 15-19 (specials don’t apply on Saturdays and Sundays).

NEW THIS YEAR:

  • HDID will provide FREE parking for the event in the River Street Garage (entrance located on Second St., next to Sawyer’s) from 5-9 p.m. each day of the event.
  • Two new restaurants also join the trail, including Char’s Restaurant and Cafe 1500.

Harrisburg Restaurant Week offers diners the opportunity to experience a three-course prix fixe meal for $30 (not including beverages, tax or gratuity). Each restaurant has designed a special menu for the week(s) showcasing their finest dishes.

View participating restaurants’ Harrisburg Restaurant Week menus here!

Eleven total restaurants in downtown and Midtown Harrisburg are participating in this year’s event, including Bricco, Cafe Fresco Center City, Carley’s Ristorante & Piano Bar, The FireHouse Restaurant, Home 231, Mangia Qui, McGrath’s Pub, Sammy’s Authentic Italian Restaurant and Stock’s on Second.

Follow along and share your Harrisburg Restaurant Week experiences by using the hashtag #HbgRestWeek. You also can find more information on the Harrisburg Restaurant Week Facebook page — and follow the HDID on Twitter, @TheHbgDID.

CATEGORIES: Food/Drink, Harrisburg

2014 September Preview

It was a weird and wild summer, wasn’t it?

clouds september

It’s barely fall but PSLs (pumpkin spice lattes, natch), Halloween decorations and fall fashion have already overtaken our feeds and quite possibly, our hearts. We’re usually oh-so-ready for that change of season, but this year’s mild summer complicates things. Soon enough, however, crisp air will return and we’ll be pairing scarves and boots, snacking on apple cider donuts (my fave), sipping Oktoberfest brews and enjoying the falling leaves.

In the meantime, September’s weather typically sets the stage for perfection, thus the onslaught of outdoor festivals and events. As is tradition, we’ve compiled some of the best for you — so bookmark this, dig out your calendar and grab your friends for a fun-filled 30 days.

Giveaway: Fall Bluegrass Festival at The Vineyard at Grandview

As you know, the month of September is host to some of the best festivals in the area.

On Saturday, Sept. 13, The Vineyard at Grandview hosts its annual Fall Bluegrass Festival.

VIN.161

Sponsored by Members 1st Credit Union, the event features music by The Zepp Family Band (2-4:30 p.m.) and Hogg Maw (4:30-8 p.m.)

Enjoy southern-style BBQ from Jo Boy’s Brew Pub. Plus, check out a variety of craft vendors, including jewelry, cigars, food, wooden wine stoppers, Eastland Alpacas, local artists and more.

sandals

Gates open at 1:30 p.m., and tickets are $15 each and can be purchased online.

This week, we’re giving away **2** couples tickets to The Vineyard at Grandview’s Fall Bluegrass Festival.

Complete your entries by using the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Foodstruck, Finger Lakes, Session Beers, Wine Festivals, RADIO & MORE

So far our weekend has been a bit busier than expected but all in good ways.

After a great dinner at the Subway Cafe, I met up with some friends at Al’s of Hampden for one and tried The Pits, the new peach IPA by Pizza Boy Brewing Co. Perfect for the season.

On Friday, Andy and I grabbed an early dinner and drink at The Garlic Poet (one of our favorite go-tos) before settling in for a night with Walter White (we’re in the middle of season 5).

Of course I began my Saturday with my now-kinda-regular stint on The Bruce Bond Late Afternoon Show on Saturday Morning — every weekend from 9 a.m. to noon. Please visit our Facebook page, like & share it. And tune in!

Afterwards, I grabbed one of my bests for a mini road trip to Mount Joy, where we checked out Bube’s Brewery (first time for her, long time for me). We enjoyed the new brews and a leisurely lunch in the Biergarten. Afterwards, we swung down the street to Zuckfoltzfus for dessert and a beer.

Zuckfoltzfus Oatmeal Stout, Cherry Ice Cream with Sunflower Seed Brittle, Chocolate Cake with Smoked Peanut Butter Icing.

Zuckfoltzfus Oatmeal Stout, Cherry Ice Cream with Sunflower Seed Brittle, Chocolate Cake with Smoked Peanut Butter Icing.

Today, a bunch of my friends are going to Foodstruck York, which I’m bummed to be missing, but I have two good reasons: Andy’s Nonna’s 90th birthday and a baby shower for a dear friend (who I’m excited I’ll be seeing more of in the new year!).

How is your Labor Day weekend? Grab a coffee and click through anything you might have missed:

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6 Session Beers that Don’t Suck

Alright friends, we’ve got a party weekend ahead of us that includes college football and hopefully some gorgeous weather. I plan on taking full advantage of my 3-day weekend by having as much fun as humanly possible, and for me this always includes beer.

Some of you are planning tailgates for the Penn State game, which starts at the ghastly hour of 8:30 a.m. on Saturday. If you want to drink for a large portion of the day — especially starting this early — you truly have to take into account the ABV of your beers.

Enter session beers: full flavored craft beers with surprisingly low ABVs for all your marathon partying needs. To be an official (I use this term loosely, and it’s heavily disputed) session beer, it should be 5% ABV and under.

We’ve got a whole entire football season ahead of us so why not try out a few of these in the place of your light beers.

Stone Brewing Go To IPA

stone go to ipa

That’s right, the king brewers of all things hoppy and righteous makes a session beer. Why? Because if anyone can take a super hoppy awesome regular IPA and perfectly master it down to a 4.5% ABV beer, it’s Stone Brewing. I am incredibly particular when it comes to the flavors in my IPAs so when I say this one is a winner, I mean it. Expect pine and citrus flavors and an incredibly clean mouthfeel.

Victory Swing Saison

I’ve been on a big saison kick recently and love recommending this local favorite. This saison has a complexity of flavors to it that expand as you drink it. Saisons aren’t meant to be served cold, but most of us keep our beer in the fridge so it starts that way. At first you’ll get just a bit of sweetness from the Belgian yeast but as it warms to room temperature you’ll get more citrus flavors and eventually hints of peppercorn. This one checks in at 4.5% ABV so there’s no shame in having a few. Plus beermosas. Do it.

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CATEGORIES: Craft Beer

Weekend Roundup 8/28

It’s a big week. Rubicon opened last night. River City Blues Club & Dart Room opens tomorrow night. Kipona starts Saturday. By Monday, it’s September — the biggest festival month of the year.

river city blues dart

Tonight I have a date with my favorite former coworker at Subway Cafe. Andy and I don’t yet really have plans for the weekend, besides my co-hosting duties on The Bruce Bond Late Afternoon Show on Saturday Morning on WTPA 92.1 (Listen in live from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday), and Andy’s Nonna’s 90th birthday party on Sunday. I expect we’ll be low key. Maybe clean the garage or something. Or not.

I’ve been busy in the kitchen lately and wanted to share these quick recipes I tried recently. I’ll call them “pin wins.”

pickled hot peppers

Hey — Next weekend is the After Dark BOOZE CRUISE aboard The Pride of the Susquehanna. Get your tickets NOW!

Need more inspiration? Tune in tomorrow morning during the 7  o’clock hour to Glenn & Bob on The River 97.3 for “Sara’s Weekend Picks.”

What are you doing this weekend?

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Campfire Preview: Ryan Montbleau

When Boston’s Ryan Montbleau takes the Zippo Acoustic Stage at 5:45 p.m. on Saturday at the Campfire Music & Outdoor Adventure Festival, campers will surely be hoping it’s 75 and Sunny — and while the jam band veteran can’t predict the weather, he’s excited to play that song and many others for fans at his two acoustic performances scheduled for the festival.

RyanMontbleau2

“I am really psyched for this festival, and I’m psyched for the lineup they put together,” Montbleau said in a recent telephone interview. “I know I’m playing Saturday and Sunday so I’ll be there all weekend, which is great for me. I love when I get to hang out at a place and not just go there and be gone a million miles away the next day which usually seems to be the case.”

After 10 years of crisscrossing the country with the former Ryan Montbleau Band, Montbleau is certainly familiar with the rigors of touring and complexities of working with a band — but now he’s changed course and focusing on his solo career, which he will showcase with two sets at the Campfire Outdoor Adventure & Music Festival that is running from Aug. 29-31 in Lakewood, Pa. — an easy ride up I-81 from the Harrisburg region.

“It used to be so locked in — where I had the same band all the time and it was just ‘go, go, go, go’ but now I’m just sort of jumping all over the place a little bit and trying to put on good shows wherever I can,” Montbleau said. “I had the same band of great guys for so long, now its kind of all out into the great wide open but its making me a better musician. The solo thing is kind of like coming home.”

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CATEGORIES: Music, Pennsylvania, Travel

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