Here is my recap and review of “Ales for Females” held on Sunday, June 8 from 4-6pm at McQuade’s Distributing, 1150 Industrial Dr in Bismarck, ND. I want to start by saying McQuade’s has an absolutely fabulous room for this type of event. Plenty of seating, bright, a full kitchen and of course, with females, easy access to a clean restroom is a must! I have driven by McQuade’s countless times but have never visited. They do have a gift shop open business hours, Monday-Friday. McQuade’s is most commonly known among my friends as the Bud company who puts on the annual charity softball fundraiser every June in Bismarck. They have a long standing reputation in Bismarck-Mandan and in ND for being charitable and community involved. I am familiar with them (after moving to Hazen from Bismarck) for their involvement with Bismarck Beerfest and putting on events such as this and the day prior, a walking tour of downtown Bismarck bars. I was very sad to be out of town and miss that event. Hopefully it is done again. I volunteer to be the leader even! Ha! Anyway, I love what they do and this event was no exception.
There were about 60 women in attendance. From looking at the group we covered young to old, biker to grandma and in between. Beer loves all women I’d say. The event was led by Women Enjoying Beer founder – Ginger. She is very knowledgeable and I learned a lot from her. There were 5 beers we tasted and they were each served with a few bites of a food to experience the beer alone and with the food. Shannon from McQuade’s was on hand passing out beer and providing beer insight now and again. I consider both of these women to be like near celebrity status so I was thrilled to meet them both. Onto the beer and food now!
Here is what we had:
1. Stella Cidre. A cider beer I actually really liked. Very crisp and clean, not overly sweet like most ciders. This was served with apples and pear slices. Delicious and an excellent starter! Right off the bat, one of the women who proclaimed she “didn’t like beer” liked this one. FYI – don’t say you don’t like beer – you just haven’t tasted one you like YET!
Stella Cidre. Stella Artois Cidre is a crisp and refreshing Belgian recipe cider made from handpicked apples.
Ginger noted that you can cook or bake with beers, just as you might wine or juice or stocks. She suggested baking muffins, waffles or using this beer as a “beerinade”, aka marinade.
2. Deschutes Twilight – a malty ale with some bitter hop notes. Served with unsalted nuts and then salted buttery pretzels. It was good with the nuts, we thought the butter pretzels overpowered the beer.
Twilight-Deschutes. This clever golden-hued ale pours remarkable crisp and clean. A distinctive malt body complements a refreshing hop profile led by a heady dose of bold Amarillo hops.
3. Bells Oberon – a summer wheat beer served with orange and grapefruit slices. I liked it with the orange. Similar to a Blue Moon or Leine’s Shandy but more yeasty I’d say. It was good.
Bell’s Oberon. Bell’s Oberon is a wheat ale fermented with Bell’s signature house ale yeast, mixing a spicy hop character with mildly fruity aromas.
4. La Folie by New Belgium. Like a beer I have never had. It was a sour brown and she said most people who like wines might like this. Served with different types of cheeses. Interesting, I wouldn’t buy it but would drink it again. She didn’t tell us the cheeses we were eating but I know one was smoked, there was a blue cheese or gorgonzola type and another mild cheese. I liked it with the smoked cheese.
La Folie 2014, by New Belgium. This wood-aged, sour brown spends on to three years in big, oak barrels, known as foeders. And when the beer finally hits the glass, La Folie is sharp and sour, full of green apple, cherry, and plum-skin notes. Pouring a deep mahogany, the mouthfeel will get you puckering while the smooth finish will get you smiling.
5. Dragon’s Milk, a bourbon barrel stout from New Holland Brewing. Served with caramel pieces and puppy chow. I liked this one but think it would’ve been best with ice cream. It was excellent with the caramel but I didn’t care for the puppy chow.
We were originally going to taste an Oak Aged Back Burner-Southern Tier, but they found one remaining keg of Dragon’s Milk beer from New Holland Brewing. This is a bourbon barrel stout with roasty malt character intermingled with vanilla tones, all dancing in an oak bath, per their website.
This was an excellent learning experience and tasting event. I wanted to go downtown and keep drinking. But, of course, I behaved and did my grocery shopping and went home.
I was my supreme nerd self and took some notes during the tasting. I jotted down what I thought was interesting and that is highlighted here:
- Don’t be a beer racist! Don’t limit yourself to only light beers, or dark beers. You can taste a beer and refuse to drink the whole thing. You can cook or bake with leftover, unused and/or flat beer. You can water your plants or garden with the beer, you don’t have to waste it down the drain.
- There are 40 new breweries opening per month!
- Smell your beer. Treat it like you would a wine almost. Stick your nose in and sniff it. Do a “drive-by” with your nose and sniff it. Swirl the beer in your glass and then sniff it. You will get different notes and it enhances your tasting. Taste while swallowing, taste with inhaling & swallowing and even try tasting with your nose plugged. I’d love to see local restaurants offer a flight with paired food.
- Food amplifies the flavor of beer. That is why we love to eat and drink together. This is especially true with fatty (say fried) foods, as the fat coats the mouth and the beer will then cleanse your mouth/palate. And repeat.
- Cans are best for beer – they don’t allow light in (make the beer skunky) and with a low head space, there is little to no room for any gas.
- It’s best to serve your beer in a room temperature glass. You often see beers served in a frosty, but this changes and waters down the beer.
- To pour a beer, tilt the glass 45 degrees and then upright at the end to get the foam, aka head. You want 1-2 fingers worth of foam generally speaking with your beer.
- When explaining how a beer tastes, she suggests limiting your vocabulary. Don’t use the word hoppy. She says hoppy isn’t a flavor but to use instead something such as: bite, bitter, tang, punch, etc.
- Do not throw your beer down the drain. Save it to water your garden, use in cooking or baking, compost, etc.
- Every beer has 4 ingredients: water, yeast, hops and grain.
- Gluten free beers have come a long ways and some are great.
- Proper glassware is important when serving beer. There are many different shapes of glasses.
- Rings on the inside of a glass (after you drinks some and it goes down) means the glassware is clean, it is called lacing.
- Fred Bueltmann – Ginger referred to him as a beervangelist and suggested his cookbook (full of photos as well) so I might have to look into that. I think it would make a great birthday gift to me?
I won this bike bell courtesy of McQuade’s and New Belgium Brewing. We also could take home our pint glass and cidre glass.
Why I love events like this
- I love learning about beer – where it comes from, the different types, who brews it, etc. I have so much to learn!
- I love food. All the time, anytime. It is so fun to pair beer with food and see how they change or complement one another. Just think of a wine tasting – the beer does the same thing.
- I love my beer friends. I have a few girlfriends who love tasting beers with me and love them even more for that!
- I love meeting new people, such as Ginger and Shannon. I would really, really like to have Ginger’s job. (I am pictured with Ginger below.) I don’t know nearly what she knows, but I promise, I would study.
- They offered free cab vouchers home if needed. Love the safety first.
I would definitely do something like this again. I would love an event with small plates of food by locally-owned Bis-Man restaurants, but this worked well with so many people. The $15 went to the Abused Adult Center, over $1,100 was raised! So that is great a local charity benefited as well.
Women Enjoying Beer – blog, link to her visit from this Bismarck event, website, Twitter and Facebook. Ginger does marketing, speaking, writing, consulting, B@B, education, research and more. I seriously wish I had Ginger’s job and am pretty jealous. I was very excited to meet her. DORK ALERT!!