DRAM’s Ginger Drink

DRAM’s Ginger Drink

1 oz fresh lemon juice

1 pinch of orange zest

5 shakes of DRAM Apothecary’s bitters

8 oz ginger beer

We place this in a glass over ice and it is perfect.  For an extra something add your favorite spirit.  Some we have tried include Hair of the Dog bitters with Vodka and Black bitters with Whiskey. 

 

Recipe by DRAM Apothecary.

Cupping with Kyle from Wander Coffee

Cupping with Kyle from Wander Coffee

With more and more coffee roasters popping up in the area how do you know which one to jump on board with?  We recommend starting with a relatively new roaster in town, Wander Coffee.  Wander Coffee has been around since November of 2016 and has quickly made its way to the top of our list.  Owner and roaster Kyle is truly a master of his craft.  Originally from Laramie, Wyoming Kyle honed his talents in Indianapolis and soon found his way back West and opened his roaster here in lovely Fort Collins.  He really focuses on bringing in a very high quality product while also keeping the waste produced to an absolute minimum.  We stopped by his facility and joined him for a fun experience most outside of the coffee world don’t know about, Cupping.

Coffee Cupping or rather coffee tasting is the process of testing the taste and aroma of brewed coffee.  Many roasters do this in order to ensure a good finished product that is consistent down to every sweet delicious bean.  First Kyle measured out the same amount of coffee into 3 separate cups for each variety of coffee.  We had Bali, Guatemala and Costa Rica.  Some roasters and professional tasters will do 5 cups but we did 3 for this little experiment.  Setting each set of 3 out in a row we then went along and smelled each cup to get a sense of what the coffee smells like in its dried state all the while trying to find imperfections among the grind.  Next Kyle poured hot water over each cup and we let it sit for a few minutes.  After letting the ground coffee float about in its steamy bath we then took a spoon and pushed the grounds while again taking in the tantalizing aromas of each cup. The wet aroma aroused many more nuances hiding among the beans and surprised us as we had very differing opinions on which we liked best.  After scooping the tiny islands off the top of each cup the actual tasting began.  While most think you might just pick up a cup and take a gulp, most would be wrong.  There is a certain technique and process to tasting coffee properly.  You take your spoon and scoop up a small amount of brew and bring it up to your lips and slurp it off the spoon, and when I say slurp I mean slurrrrp.  Kyle informed us that the louder and more obnoxious the slurp the better.  In some coffee circles the loudest slurper is a sign of a true coffee cupper.  While tasting you are looking for things like acidity, bitterness, sweetness, saltiness and sourness as well as noting the mouth feel you get from each sip.  I personally like my cup of coffee to have a good full mouthfeel rather than a thin body.  After going through the entire line up you then do it all over again after the coffee has cooled a few degrees as various coffees will have a distinctly different taste.  We aren’t professional tasters so we had some trouble picking out the various tasting notes but like any skill it takes time and practice.  Personally all of them tasted quite nice to me.

I found that tasting coffee has many similarities to how wine is tasted.  You are looking for characteristics in the beans from different regions much like you would with grapes from different regions around the world.  The varying aromas from woody to earthy to floral to nutty among others are all characteristics you may find in different wines as well as coffees.  We learned a lot about the intricacies of coffee roasting and tasting from Kyle and now have an even more profound respect for these coffee creators, bean barons and roasting raconteurs.  The coffee world is a vast and exciting landscape so come Wander with us as we continue our travels.

Keeping up with the Kure’s

Keeping up with the Kure’s

Craft cocktails and spirits are on the rise in and around Northern Colorado.  More and more you see bars, distillers and others doing interesting things in the cocktail world and using more and more high quality local ingredients.  We recently met with one of the up and coming entrepreneurs in the field, Kure’s Ginger Beer.

Kure’s Ginger Beer is a new company starting up later this summer in Loveland, Colorado.  We sat down and enjoyed some of their tasty beverage and learned a little about the owner and the story behind the company.

John Kure got his start in the craft beverage world at a well-known brewery, Left Hand Brewery in Longmont.  While working there he devised a plan to start his own business.  With the local distillery and craft spirit world on the rise what better piggyback to these great companies than a craft ginger beer company.  Moscow Mules aren’t the only thing you can make with ginger beer but they are and have been a very popular drink for a long time.   Ginger beer is quite tasty all by itself (especially Kure’s) and it has little to no alcohol so it can be enjoyed by all ages. 

Kure’s uses high quality ingredients to make their unfiltered ginger beer.  It has less sugar than most other ginger beers on the market and being unfiltered gives it a unique and natural flavor that keeps your taste buds wanting more.  Don’t forget to give the can a flip or two to make sure that natural sediment gets incorporated throughout. 

Kure’s will be putting their product in cans.  This is perfect for that Colorado camping and hiking lifestyle.  They got their canning line from a brewery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana by the name of Tin Roof Brewing.   The cans themselves will becoming from Ball, which Kure himself will even get to see printed here in Colorado.

The Kure’s logo and the story behind it has to be one of our favorite parts of the brand.  Front and center on the can you will see the cutest picture of a golden retriever inspired by the old family dog, Bailey.  We are total dog people and would probably purchase Kure’s just for the simple fact it has a dog on the can but once you taste it you won’t be disappointed and you will come back for more.

We are super excited to see a local ginger beer company popping up here in Northern Colorado.  Buying local is such a great way to support the community and insure your getting a great product you can trust.  Keep your eyes peeled for this exciting new local company.  Baileys eyes and slightly tilted head say “hey give it a try, you wont be disappointed”.

Craft Cocktails with Shannon at Locality

Craft Cocktails with Shannon at Locality

Need a new lunch or dinner spot?  Don’t fret; Locality is the place.  Locality Kitchen and Bar has been open since October of 2016, also owned by the same owners/chef of Door 222 in downtown Loveland.  Since we have been dying to try Locality we stopped in to see our new friend Shannon behind the bar and were lucky enough to share some of the more popular cocktails served at Locality.

The spring menu has now been around for a few weeks now.  Here are a few options you can try and we that we found most enticing…

Black Walnut Manhattan

The Black Walnut is a staff and customer favorite and we quickly understood why.  It has Old Town Distilling Rye Whiskey, Dancing Pines Black Walnut Bourbon, Fee Brothers Walnut-Chocolate Bitters and sweet vermouth served in a very special glass.  This drink was extremely smooth with some delicate nuances of chocolate and a finish that brings the glass right back for another sip.  Definitely a great drink to come try out.

Cardamom Fig Martini

The Cardamom Fig Martini was another wonderful addition to days tasting.  It has House made Cardamom-Fig Spring 44 Infused Vodka and hand squeezed lemon juice.  A very light and refreshing drink with a great springtime zing that comes through very nice with the subtle fig flavor. 

Colorado Old Fashioned

The Colorado Old Fashioned was definitely Dan’s favorite drink of the day.  It has Tin Cup Whiskey, Chef Matt’s Homemade Forager Bitters and Simple Syrup and some muddled cherries and oranges.  A fun twist on an Old Fashioned, a nice orange sent on the nose followed by a subtle piney bite from the bitters helping to bring the whiskey through nicely.

Strawberry Fields

Strawberry Fields was Claire’s favorite libation of the night with Spring 44 Honey Vodka, Lemon Juice and Strawberry Simple Syrup.  The perfect summer drink to enjoy on the porch under the hot sun.  One of those drinks that goes down a little too easy. 

All of these drinks were tasty and are worth coming back for more.  Naturally while enjoying these wonderful drinks we had to try some of the fantastic food they have to offer.  We tried both the House Sourdough and the Hazel Dell Mushrooms.  The Sourdough has been made using the same yeast from the beginning making each loaf a little different and little tastier. The beer butter on the side was a perfect match for the slightly sour bread. The Hazel Dell Mushrooms was one of the more interesting and surprising dishes we have tried in some time.  It was served with Parmesan foam and a 63-degree egg giving the yolk a custard like consistency.  The bubbles in the foam distribute the flavor evenly over the taste buds giving a very original tasting experience. We aren’t even big mushroom fans but will now have to try them more and more after trying this dish. 

If you haven’t been to Locality then we must tell you to put on the list of restaurants and put it in your rotation.  If you see Shannon tell her we say hi!

Behind the Hops at Maxline Brewing with Shawn

Behind the Hops at Maxline Brewing with Shawn

“Terrible beer can break a brewery, but good people can make a brewery.”  This is a very true statement but even truer is that good beer and good people can make a great brewery and that is exactly what Maxline has going on.  Maxline hasn’t been around yet a year but it is quickly climbing the ladder of our favorite breweries in town.

We sat down with Shawn, the head brewer of Maxline Brewery, and asked him a few questions:

Q:  Why did you choose to brew at Maxline?

A:  I spent most of my career at larger breweries and wanted to continue my career in a smaller more intimate environment.   Once I met the owners I knew they had a very similar philosophy to mine as far as brewing beer.  “Get good ingredients and get out of the way.”  I just really wanted to work for a place that was involved in the community.

Q:  How long have you been brewing?

A:  8 years.  Before coming here I brewed at Harpoon Brewing, Shipyard Brewing and Left Hand Brewing.

Q:  What sets Maxline apart from other breweries?

A:  It is tough to survive on just good beer alone.  You can get good beer at a lot of places around town.  I think what sets Maxline apart is the comfortable environment and the great people working here.  We really found the best people to do the best work possible and they really make it feel like a second home.

Q:  What was your first beer brewed and what is your favorite?

A:  My first commercial recipe was an Imperial Maple Porter when I was brewing at Harpoon Brewing.  The rest of the team was a little put off as we had to use 500 lbs of maple syrup.  My favorite beer I brewed was a Kettle Soured Berliner Weisse that was 100% Brettanomyces called Brett Your Freak On.  Kettle Sours are a lot of work and I was very pleased with the result. 

Q:  Where do you find your inspiration for the beers you brew?

A:  There are many ways to find inspiration for brewing.  I like doing Hefeweizens in the Spring as it is a great beer to drink in the hot sun and enjoy on a porch.  The Irish Red we have I have been tweaking and working on for along time and feel like I have the right recipe.  I really like brewing the standards and then adding a twist.  I actually got the inspiration for our Honey IPA after watching a documentary about bees.  We got the honey from a beekeeper in Berthoud called Beth’s Bees

Q:  What are your top three breweries to visit right other than Maxline?

A:  In no particular order my top three breweries to visit right now are:  Zwei, because they definitely have a their technique down and you always know you will get a good brew there.  The Jessup Farm Barrel House has a great atmosphere being in an old barn and they have a good selection of interesting beers.  Equinox is another great brewery where the beer is spot on and the brewers there are very friendly.  That’s something I really love about brewing in Fort Collins.  Everyone is friendly and there is a cooperative feeling where breweries collaborate with each other. 

If you haven’t been to Maxline yet you should get over there as soon as possible.  In a land of great beer it really sticks out as one of the best up and coming breweries here in Fort Collins.  They brew what people around here really enjoy drinking and they really listen to the customer.  So stop by and maybe you will see us around enjoying a tasty cold brew at one of our new homes away form home.

Getting in the Fort Collins spirit with Elevation 5003

Getting in the Fort Collins spirit with Elevation 5003

I am just going to come right out and say it… we found one of our new favorite spots in town.  Elevation 5003 has a great drink selection featuring spirits all made in house.  Loren Matthews owns and operates this little Fort Collins treasure and said making things you love is the key.  Loren has a background in the brewing industry so was naturally lured away towards the wonderful world of distilling.   The distillery celebrated their one-year anniversary in February.  Wondering where the name of the distillery comes from?  It is the actual elevation of the distillery!

The staple spirits include: Narrow Road Vodka, Lunarshine Corn Whiskey, Timber Ridge Gin, Franklin Coffee Liqueur, and Falernum Liqueur.  All of these are available by bottle to take home and in the variety of tasty cocktails provided.  We tried a little of all and were surprised at how smooth and wonderful each sip was.  We asked Loren where the names come from for all of these beautiful libations.  Narrow Road Vodka stems from Loren and her husband’s love of biking and the excitement and adventure an unexplored narrow road may hold.  Lunarshine Corn Whiskey is a clever spin on the classic moonshine of yesteryear.  Timber Ridge is where a fair amount of juniper berries grow so that was an obvious fit for the gin.  The Franklin Coffee Liqueur is one of my favorite stories.  It is named after the one and only Benjamin Franklin who was a little known coffee connoisseur in his day.  The Falernum isn’t really a special name but it is a special drink and one of our favorites (we had to leave with a bottle).  Falernum is a Caribbean style liqueur made with almond, ginger, clove, allspice and lime.  We were so amazed by the sweet and smooth taste of this island elixir. 

The craft spirits movement is an exciting frontier to explore and we are glad Elevation 5003 was one of our stops along the way.  Stop by and you may see us there enjoying some of our favorite cocktails in town.  Loren was kind enough to share the recipe for one of our favorites!

Cleopatra

1.5 oz Timber Ridge Gin

¾ oz Blackberry Shrub

¾ oz Ginger Shrub

Top with Ginger Beer

Garnish with blackberry and a lime wedge

 

Step Behind The Kitchens Bar with Matt

Step Behind The Kitchens Bar with Matt

When you think of The Kitchen you often think about the wonderful local ingredients they use in their bevy of breakfast, lunch and dinner plates.  We dug a little deeper and decided to focus on the beautiful local ingredients used in the delicious cocktails and drinks offered at the bar.  We sat down with head bartender Matt Tobeck and asked him a few questions about The Kitchen and their bar.

The Kitchen has multiple locations from Boulder to Denver to Chicago. They opened in June of 2014 here in Fort Collins and have quickly placed themselves comfortably in the local food scene.  The Kitchen is all about supporting the local community and using local ingredients, and natural flavors of the season.

Matt got his start bartending in Portland, Oregon.  It’s really the age old story of how I imagine most bartenders get their start, someone called in sick so Matt stepped behind the bar with really no bartending experience and quickly realized making a margarita isn’t as simple as you may think.  He quickly got his feet under him and turned this fateful day into a bustling career he could really sink his cocktail pick into to.

Coming in the spring to The Kitchen, and a must make refreshing cocktail (fruity and floral) for patio weather is the Springtheme.  He was kind enough to share his recipe with us:

1 oz Narrow Road Elevation 5003 vodka

1 oz Dollin Blanc

1 oz red grapefruit juice

½ a lime

4 or so mint leaves

Bar spoon of simple syrup

Muddle the mint with the sugar.  Add ingredients.  Shake with some ice.  Double strain so it’s almost the color of Rose Quartz into a rocks glass with block ice if possible.  Garnish with a mint leaf, slap it to get the oils activated.

Q.  What’s your favorite restaurant in town?

A. I really enjoy Music City Hot Chicken and The Tramp About food truck.

Q. If you were to go out for drinks (besides The Kitchen) where would you go?

A. I love Social.  Pour Brothers beer list rocks.  Locality has some good stuff and I also enjoy Equinox.

Q. What is your favorite meal and pairing at The Kitchen?

A. Our salmon dish.  You really get the flavors of the pernod, fennel and orange which are unique and Earthly.   This dish pairs well with Funkwerks Saison.

“I am really lucky to live in such a great food area, we have so much at our fingertips to create and experiment with.   Being a bartender in this town is fun and interesting.”

Must try:  We learned about the weekly small batch cello, which is a must try! The cocktail, NoCo Mule includes this cello and ginger beer.  We had the fennel cello and it was perfect with the ginger beer.

Farm Built Beer

Farm Built Beer

As I sit here drinking this Beet Saison I am reminded what it takes to brew great beer…great people and great ingredients.  We went out to meet the owners and operators of Soul Squared Brewery this week and asked them some questions about their beer, their farm and the beautiful relationship between the two.

Soul Squared comes from the simple but wonderful idea of two best friends putting their heart and soul into making great beer.  They are currently brewing on what was once a one hundred year old free-range turkey farm and is now a full working farm with chickens, pigs, fresh veggies and the like that are often used in the beers they brew, (not the pigs and chickens).  The brewery focuses heavily on keeping the ingredients as local as possible growing some of their very own hops and some vegetables used in their beers as well as Troubadour Malts, a local malt supplier here in Fort Collins.  Their flagship beers include The India Brown Ale, Extra Pail Ale and the Belgian Blonde Ale (one of my all time favorites).  They have seasonal beers and small batch beers so keep an eye out.  You can find some of these fabulous beers at Wilbur’s and Cantina in Wellington. 

One of the coolest things we found that the brewery does is a CSA program.  It’s the perfect way for a farm/brewery to get their beers into the hands of loving beer fans.  You can sign up for a half share or a full share for six months.  A half share gets you six bombers a month and a full share gets you twelve bombers a month, each month being a new and exciting beer.   After purchasing the CSA you can pick up your beers on the second Saturday of every month from 10am-2pm on the farm or you can set it up to have Craft Beer Cellar on Mason hold them for pickup.  We recommend going to see them at the farm, we had a great time in their cozy tap house.  You can buy extra beers while at the farm and receive tasting notes and food pairing ideas. You can jump in on the CSA at any time but may have to accept another beer form their wonderful collection to catch up.   You can check out more information at http://soulsquaredbrewing.com/csa.html.

Just for fun we asked our new friends what their favorite three breweries to visit would be.  After a bit of a discussion (as there are a number of good breweries around Fort Collins) Zwei, Equinox and Cooper Smiths made the top three.  Zwei beers are always crisp and on point, Equinox has a great porch for drinking a tasty beer and enjoying some tasty live music and Copper Smiths Hop Father is a favorite around the farm.

You can find Soul Squared beers in Windsor, Loveland, Greeley, Steamboat and here in Fort Collins.  Keep your eyes open for Soul Squared the next time you head out to grab a few beers, you will not be disappointed.   Thank you to our new friends at Soul Squared for sharing their delicious beers and the great conversation.

Pear Ginger Sage Champagne

Pear Ginger Sage Champagne

This recipe is from the bar of my best friend's kitchen, Abby. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup honey
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 pears: peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 large chunk ginger, peeled and diced
  • 20+ fresh sage leaves
  • 1 bottle champagne

Glassware:

Champagne flute

Directions:

  1. Bring honey and water to boil until honey dissolves.
  2. Add pears, sage and ginger, allow to steep.
  3. Strain.
  4. Add 1 to 2 tbsp to glass.
  5. Top with champagne.
  6. Enjoy!