Pints with Ponies

Not only do I like to try new brews, I love to visit new craft breweries. When I heard about a new brewery opening in the area called Stable Craft, I was definitely intrigued and I was even more excited to learn that there was a full food menu.  The only thing better than great beer is great food to go along with it.

We visited on a warm summer evening during the Steal the Pint promotion.  The added bonus event was Pints with the Ponies. Stable Craft is a wonderful place, a true working farm brewery, and a great example of agritourism. Besides touring the brewery and stables, you can visit the hops field, play outdoor games, and enjoy the surrounding beauty. The food menu has a full complement of starters, burgers and sandwiches, salads, and desserts. The taproom has an extensive list of brews with 16 varieties available. I enjoyed the Britchin Brown Ale and the Night Latch American Stout. Both were great!

Check out http://www.stablecraftbrewing for more information.

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Randy’s Veranda Beer

I have decided to join the other one million people who brew over two million barrels of homebrew each year. I recently purchased the equipment: the Fastferment conical fermenter, brushes, spoons, hydrometer, air lock, hoses, sterilizers, etc.

For the recipe, I bought a Scottish Ale kit from Brewer’s Best. The kit comes with all the necessary ingredients- grains, hops, yeast, spices & flavorings, sugar, and even the bottle caps. There are vast number of recipes available. I also have future plans to make American Amber, English Brown Ale, Milk Stout, and many more.

So once I made the decision to delve into the beer making hobby I needed labels that portrayed the atmosphere of Randy’s Veranda. I hired a professional designer to help with the labels and the finished work is great.

Now let’s get brewing.



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Get a Grip

I like to smoke a cigar when I am grilling, playing golf, or just relaxing on the veranda. Sometimes it is hard to multi-task when doing some of these things. When golfing, you don’t want the cigar to get in the way of your backswing or lay it on the turf which may be laced with chemicals.  Just imagine a golf course aflame…  And although I like smoked meat, when you are grilling, you don’t want the ashes or cigar smoke to flavor your steak.

A good solution is the cigar clip. Simply attached the grip clip to your chair, table, or golf cart. The fastening end has a strong clip, the holding end gently holds your cigar while you perform other tasks. The swivel action allows the clip to work for right or left handed spaces. The cigar grip clip can be purchased at fine cigar stores or at


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Blackened Salmon

I love grilling Salmon and have tried several recipes. Salmon is probably a little healthier than what I usually grill. Grilling salmon is quick, easy and very delicious. The most important tip is not to overcook. This blackened seasoned Salmon is my favorite and I have used it many times.

Blackened Seasoning:

1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon ground chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 ½ tablespoons canola oil

Combine and mix all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Brush the salmon with the canola oil and rub the entire salmon filet with the blackened seasoning. Over medium heat, place the salmon on the grill, skin side down. Close the grill (to get even cooking) and grill for 4-5 minutes; then gently turn the salmon over and grill for another 4-5 minutes. Take the salmon off the grill and let set for a few minutes. Remove the skin and serve with lemon slices. Enjoy.


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Let the Good Times Roll

This is the motto from the Cigar Factory of New Orleans.  Let the good times roll is exactly what I did when I received a gift sampler from my wife who recently visited New Orleans. My three pack sampler included a Corona 44 x 5 1/4”, Café 42 x 6”, and a Numero Tres 46 x 51/4” ranging from a medium to rich and full flavors.

Located on Bourbon Street and Decatur Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Cigar Factory customers can watch cigars being hand-rolled.The cigars are from Cuban seed and two year old long leaf Nicaraguan tobacco. All of the smokes in the sampler had great flavor and long lasting burn. If you want to learn more about the Cigar Factory, check them out at:


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Trying this traditional Italian Lemon Liqueur was a new and flavorful experience. It is produced mainly in southern Italy, Sicily, and the Maltese island of Gozo. With an alcohol content of 38-42%, Limoncello is served chilled as an after dinner drink and is usually served in small chilled glasses. I liked it so much that I brought a bottle back to states


which has since been finished. My local Italian restaurateur friend has promised to bring me another bottle this summer but I have found many recipes online that promise an authentic taste.

Here is one to try:

1 liter of alcohol (Vodka)
2 pounds of lemons
2 pounds of sugar
1 liter of water

Peel the zest from the lemons and add the alcohol in a suitably sized container (preferably glass). A potato peeler works fine but a zester will work better. Let it set for 5 days, occasionally swirling and stirring it.

On the 6th day, boil the water and dissolve the sugar in it. Let cool for a little while and then add to the lemon/alcohol mixture. Let it sit for two more days.

Place in smaller bottles, filter off the solids. Store in a cool place and serve from the freezer. It you let it sit long enough it will clear some.

Serves 10


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When In Rome

Well, I wasn’t in Rome but I was in Italy when I tried this craft brew. I always enjoy trying local food and drink when I travel. So when I asked for a local craft beer when I was in a country that is known more for wine than beer, I was pleasantly surprised with the result. There was only one craft brew to choose from at the Pizzeria A Casa D’Amici in Catania – Settantasett. Brewed in Castel San Giorgio, Italy, the style is an Abbey Dubbel, which is typically a dark, malty, yeasty ale and has an ABV range of 6.5-8%. This Italian ale has an ABV of 7%. It poured with a creamy, off-white, long lasting head. I really enjoyed the flavors of roasted malt and caramel. It is only served in a 750ml bottle, which is no problem when shared around the table. Now I want to try the Abbey Style Dubbel from New Belgium that I can get in here in the states.


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Working the Third Shift

My usual go-to-brew is any Amber Style Lager or Ale. The qualities that Ambers have such as deep copper red color and low bitterness is what separates it from other lighter beer. There are many good ones to choose from, Roanoke Rail House, Abita Springs, Fat Tire, Bud Crown, just to name a few. One that I have tried and consistently beats some of the aforementioned in my own blind taste tests is Third Shift. You can also find Third Shift for around $7 which is the least expensive of the category. Working the Third Shift isn’t so bad.

DSC_4565 ThirdShift
Distributed by Miller-Coors
IBU: 20
ABV: 5.3%

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Grilled Corn on the Cob

Corn on the cob is one of my all-time favorite summer-time foods and I can never wait until fresh corn is ready to be picked.  I recently tried grilling fresh corn for the first time.  You can find many conflicting suggestions on how to grill corn but what I did was first soaked the ears in warm water, then peeled back the husk and removed as much of the silk as possible and rewrapped the ear.

Over a medium-to-hot grill surface it will take 15 minutes or more to completely cook the corn and the husks will become charred.  Your corn will stay warm until you are ready to eat, just peel away the husk, add butter and salt and you can enjoy the tastes of summer.


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Montana Microbrews

I always like to try local favorite food and definitely like trying new drinks when traveling.  A recent trip to Montana gave me the chance to sample a few new microbrews.

From Montana, I tried Moose Drool Brown Ale, Copper John Scottish Ale, and Alaskan Amber.  Now obviously Alaskan Amber is not local to Montana and instead is from Alaska, but it was a new brew for me to try, and the fact that Amber Ales are my everyday choice means I am including it here. Brewed in Juneau, Alaska by the Alaskan Brewing Company, you can visualize the glacier-fed waters that make this beer.  With an ABV of 5.3% and more importantly, a perfect lack of bitterness with 18 IBU’s makes this a delicious choice.

For the other two actual Montana brews, how could you not like products from breweries called Big Sky and Madison River Brewing.  The Moose Drool from Big Sky, with an ABV of 5.1% and 26 IBU’s made for a fine tasting Brown Ale. The Scottish Ale from Madison River was so good that I had to have another, causing me to miss a chance to try something else. With an ABV of 7% and low bitterness of 19 IBU’s, this was my favorite of the trip.


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