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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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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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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The Veranda Comes Inside

I don’t know about you but I am ready for spring to arrive, when I can enjoy the veranda in more comfortable temperatures. It seems like warm weather is never going to get here. During one of our recent cold spells, I had to move the veranda indoors. After a rather cold and blustery day, I was in the mood for a drink but it was too cold for a brew. So I decided to try something entirely different to warm me up on a chilly evening – Hot Buttered Rum.

There were many different recipes to choose from but a quick search on the Food Network returned what looked like a choice, Hot Buttered Rum, courtesy of Rachael Ray. We even had all the ingredients in the pantry. With the spices used the result reminded me of fall harvest time but overall, I think the flavors were too rich. I would definitely try another cold weather beverage. Maybe next time I will try hot cider with rum.

Hot Buttered Rum


2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch salt
3/4 cup spiced rum
2 cups boiling water
4 sticks cinnamon, for garnish


Using an electric mixer, beat the brown sugar, butter, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in a medium bowl until blended and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a 4-cup (or larger) measuring cup. Add the rum and then 2 cups of boiling water. Stir until the butter mixture dissolves. Divide the buttered rum among 4 mugs. Garnish with the cinnamon sticks and serve.

Spiced Rum

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Randy’s Veranda Flight Glasses Set

I really like trying flights of beer.

Tyler Tap Room

Tyler Tap Room, Durham, NC

Gordon Biersch Brewery

Gordon Biersch Brewery, Louisville, KY

Three Brothers Brewing

Three Brothers Brewing, Harrisonburg, VA
Outer Banks Brewing Station

Outer Banks Brewing Station, Kill Devil Hills, NC

Red Drum Taphouse

Red Drum Taphouse, Nags Head, NC


Sherwood Brewing Company, Shelby, MI

Great Baraboo

Great Baraboo Brewing, Clinton, MI


My first post on this blog was about trying flights on the veranda.  One of the gifts I received for Christmas was official Randy’s Veranda Flight Glass Sets. Now it has been too cold to enjoy flights on the veranda so I had to enjoy my flight by the warmth of the hearth. I look forward to enjoying many more flights with the official Randy’s Veranda Flight sets.

Randy's Veranda Flight Sets

Randy's Veranda Flight Sets

The brews for this flight included:

Estrella Damm Daura. Damm Brewing, Barcelona, Spain. Euro Pale Lager. ABV 5.4%. Gluten free beer.

1554 Enlightened Black Ale. New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, Colorado. Belgian Dark Ale. ABV 5.6%.

Sam Adams Winter Lager. Boston Beer Co., Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Bock. ABV 5.6%.

Founders Porter. Founders Brewing, Grand Rapids, Michigan. American Porter. ABV 6.5%. IBU 45.

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My Favorite Brew

My Favorite Brew?

There are three different brews that I have made the statement “this could be the best beer I have ever had.”  The first one was 1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing, or better known as the makers of Fat Tire. 1554 falls in the category of Belgian Dark Ale.  The second one I made that statement about was Turbodog  Dark Brown Ale from Abita Brewing. Turbodog is classified as an English Brown Ale. The final one I boasted about was Yuengling Porter from Yuengling brewery.  This is considered an American Porter.

So how could I make a statement like that when they were all from different categories of styles? Is it possible to really like different styles of beer? Sure it is. So what is my favorite style of beer? Good question. I started looking at how many styles are classified. Depending on where you look, there are a lot of styles to choose from.  The Brewers Association Style Guidelines which categorizes beer for the Great American Beer Festival and the World Cup of Beer lists 84 categories plus 58 subcategories for a total of 142. That’s quite a lot of styles.

How do you know what category the beer you are drinking falls into? It can be difficult. Beer makers often use a more marketing-friendly term such as the 1554 which uses Enlightened Black Ale instead of the correct category name of Belgian Dark Ale. Sometimes it takes a little research to find the right classification. Good resources to use are,, or

So which one was my favorite? I did a blind taste test and the results were:

1)    Turbodog Dark Brown Ale

2)    1554 Enlightened Black Ale

3)    Yuengling Porter


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Gluten-Free Beer

I have never thought much about a gluten-free diet.  Thankfully, I have no issues with eating just about anything, but millions of people do.  I keep hearing about gluten-free diets and seeing products marketed as gluten-free and now at my local grocery store you can find a whole aisle of product devoted to being gluten-free.  With so much news, I decided to try going gluten-free for a month.  Well, about a week into the program, everything was fine, until one evening I wanted a beer and I discovered I couldn’t have one because it was not gluten-free. That was not going to work.  My quick research discovered there is gluten-free beer available.

The legal requirement to be considered gluten-free is less than 20ppm.  Some brews like Budwieser and Corona can be tested that low but if you are suffering from Celiac disease, you may not want to risk it.  There are also brewers who consider their product safe if it is made from rice or corn instead of wheat.  This is still being debated.

I found two gluten-free brews at the local market to test.

The first was Tweason’ Ale from Dogfish Brewery in Milton, Delware.  This is a Vegetable Style of beer.  As the bottle notes, you can definitely taste the strawberries and honey.  While the taste was good, it is not what I normally go for in a craft brew.

Tweason' Ale

The other one I tried was Estrella Damm Daura from Damm Brewing in Barcelona, Spain.  This is a Euro Pale Lager style of beer.  This has a more traditional lager taste and the Damm Brewing claims this beer has a gluten content of only 3ppm.  Estrella Damm Daura has won several awards as the best gluten-free beer.

Estrella Damm Duara

So if you are concerned about gluten in your drinks, give one of these a try.  Here is more information and resources for people suffering with Celiac disease:

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