Posts Tagged With: Beer

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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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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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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Songs About Beer

I don’t normally listen to songs just because they are about beer, but it is an appropriate topic for this blog.  When I searched my iPod, I found more songs about beer than I would have ever guessed.

A few on my list includes:

Pretty Good at Drinkin’ BeerBilly Currington
I Like Beer Tom T. Hall
Beer for My Horses – Toby Keith
Beers Ago – Toby Keith
Beer in Mexico – Kenny Chesney
Keg in the Closet – Kenny Chesney
Beer on the Table – Josh Thompson
In Heaven There Is No BeerSoggy Bottom Boys
Beer Thirty – Brooks & Dunn
Beer – Psychostick
Pop-a-Top – Alan Jackson
Beer with Jesus – Thomas Rhett

I have a few others that have beer in the content but not in the title, such as:

Dirt Road AnthemJason Aldean
I Love this Bar – Toby Keith
All My Rowdy Friends are Coming Over Tonight – Hank Williams, Jr.

My favorite of both categories is Billy Currington’s People are Crazy with the line God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy.

I do like to have music playing on the veranda.  Of course, then no one is happy with my shuffling song list. So I have spent some time developing different playlists that will keep everyone happy.  Another option I use is Pandora with a playlist called Classic Rock BBQ.

Whatever is playing on the veranda, it is heard through my Bose Soundlink speaker that I received as a gift. This Bluetooth-wireless speaker delivers incredible sound. It is lightweight, portable, and simple to use with my iPod or iPad.  The best part is that because it’s wireless, you do not have to have your device hooked up to the speakers, but instead use the Bluetooth to play music through the speakers from wherever you are in the house.

I suggest checking out some of those songs- you might find one that you want to add to your own veranda playlist.  So, whether you listen to songs about beer, or country music, or classic rock, nothing sets the mood like music playing in the background.

 Bose Soundlink Speakers System

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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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Can I Have A Beer Please?

I am the least fluent Spanish-speaking member of our household. In fact, I should not even use the word “fluent” in that sentence. When we have traveled to Spanish-speaking countries, my family would always try to get me to use the most basic words. There were many times we would be at a restaurant or out and about and I wanted to ask for something and they would make me do it myself. I think they enjoyed watching me struggle or make a fool of myself. So I have learned a few words such as por favor, cerveza, and of course, baño.  When traveling to some of these places and wanting to try something with a local flavor, it didn’t take me long to struggle through “cerveza, por favor”. It was worth the trouble to try something I may never get to have again.

Here are some other languages to practice asking for a beer:

Chinese – Ching gay woh ee bay pee joh
French – Oon bee-air, seel voo pleh
German – Ine beer, bitt-uh
Italian – Oo-na beer-ra, pair fa-vo-re
Japanese – Bee-ru ip-pon ku-da-sai
Russian – Ahd-na pee-vah pah-zha-loosta

Now my favorite Spanish word is one I just recently learned – sobremesa – the time spent around the table after lunch or dinner, talking to the people you shared the meal with; time to digest and savor both food and friendship. This is what makes life on the veranda so great – spending time with family and friends makes any meal from the grill that much better.


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Flights with Friends

One of the things I enjoy is trying craft beers.  One great way to taste many different varieties without too much effort or expense is try a “flight” – small samples or assortments of beer.  Flights of beer usually come in three to eight samples per flight.  Normally, samples go from a light to dark spectrum.  Sometimes you can pick your own assortment list from a larger list.  Although flights of beer have increasingly become more popular in recent years, it can still be hard to find in some pubs and restaurants.

If you want to try something new, make your own flight with some friends.  I recently made my own flight one evening with the following four brews (will review the brews later):

  • Midas Touch Ancient Ale from Dogfish Head Brewery
  • Blue Moon’s Belgian Style Pale Ale
  • 8 Ball Stout from Lost Coast Brewery
  • Milk Stout from Lancaster Brewing

This was a great way to enjoy an evening on the deck with friends, enjoying food from the grill and sampling four new brews.

Brews Flights

Here is a link to more information on how flights of beer got started:

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