As my friend Daniel put it … it pays to go to beer festivals. Back in the spring, we wrote about going to the Roswell Beer Festival. While there, other than having an otherworldly great time, we also met some fantastic people, in particular the gang from Pontoon Brewing. We hit it off, and they invited Russ and me back to Pontoon for a ‘tasting panel’ a few days later. We didn’t really know what to expect, but we were in. Here’s the short version … breweries will sometimes invite friends from other breweries, growler shop owners, industry experts, and beer media (that’s us!) to a special private tasting of some select beers. It’s usually to get honest feedback on the beer, either what to do differently on a pilot batch of beer; or what to consider for future versions of beer that will soon be out in the wild. Bonus … they had a chef come in and create food pairings for each of the four beers. Rock star status achieved.

Fast forward to this week, they had me back again. THIS time, we were tasting three beers that will be released this week and one pilot batch that is just in testing mode right now. It’s a seasonal that will hopefully come out later this year. I can’t tell you how exciting it was to try several beers before they’re even released. So, here ya go. A quick review of the three beers to be released this week and then the one that will hopefully emerge later in the year.

L-R … Belgian Tripel, Hazenado, Snozz Crumble, Fluffier Otter.
Chicken/gouda skewers, chocolate puff pastry, bacon-wrapped pork w/ cherry coulis, meatballs

Belgian Tripel

I’ve really become a sucker for a good tripel recently, and this one didn’t disappoint. It was a little boozy (9.5% really came through) and slightly syrupy to me, but the flavor was on point. I am certain that there will be some tweaks before this becomes available later this year. Really, really, really can’t wait.

Hazenado

It’s a Double IPA (DIPA) brewed with lactose and vanilla. The lactose, as expected, brought a creamy smoothness to it. Combined with a beautiful nose of pineapple (at least that’s what I got), this is a total home run. The flavor was an intoxicating mixture of milkshake and mild bitterness, very nicely counterbalanced with the sweet citrus from the hops. Yeah, I’ll be back later this week to have this one again.

Snozz Crumble

Pontoon has had a lot of success with a line of tart-creamy Berliner Weisse beers called, “Snozzberries Taste Like Snozzberries.” (Mad kudos on the reference there.) They took one of them for a ride with the Snozz Crumble, adding a pastry/cinnamon flavor to it. This had a very crisp mouthfeel, and was slightly more sour than I typically like. It has an absolutely stunning color to it and will be sure to be a hit with the sour drinkers out there.

Fluffier Otter

Again, Pontoon has resurrected a former favorite and transformed it into something new. The original, Fluffy Otter, is an oatmeal creme stout and is my favorite Pontoon beer ever. Basically, it’s a S’more in stout form. Now … add peanut butter. Fluffier Otter is an old school fluffernutter sandwich in a 9% abv stout. I almost didn’t want to drink it because it just smelled SO GOOD.

 

Again, Hazenado, Snozz Crumble, and Fluffier Otter will all be available this week! One is being released each of the next three days … check their site to see which one is dropping when. And then GO!

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

It’s one of those days when you know you’ll be bad later in the day, but you’re just not sure HOW bad. How do you budget calories for a questionable evening, not knowing how questionable to will get?

I think the answer lies … again … in moderation and limitations. I have to be good at monitoring (and cataloguing) calories throughout the day. Knowing where I stand and what I have left in the budget for the day allows me to make informed decisions. If I look back after the fact and forget about the two cookies I snuck in at lunch, I’ll be over budget. Strict adherence to the calculation is THE ONLY WAY to succeed in this game. At least for me.

My kid is apparently 75% Italian. He had a meatball sub last night; asked for lasagna tonight, while knowing that he requested his favorite Italian joint for tomorrow night … so that we can have lasagna. So, I’m eating lasagna tonight. Ugh. I do like cheese. Lots of it. The gooier the better. I NEED to budget properly.

At least I was able to suck at tennis for a few hours in the middle of the day to get the blood flowing. 🎾

Breakfast – 🚨 NEWS ALERT 🚨 I did NOT have a Fiber One bar this morning. I had a cinnamon roll (as birthday treats continue for lots of days in our house, apparently.) And I avoided the doughnut. Small victories.
Lunch – tennis courts. I don’t eat much when I play. I had two miniature chicken-salad-on-croissants and a turkey-provolone slider. That’s it. Oh yeah … and a few Peronis.
Dinner – lasagna. But I ate the version made with zucchini noodles instead of normal delicious noodles. So, maybe it was less bad for me? I even avoided having any of the Texas toast. Again, small victories. (And FYI, according to Fitbit, I added 1400 calories to my allowance for the day by playing tennis. Not that I think I should use all of those. Just sayin’.)

And now for the beer …

– Yup. Continuing with the Italian theme, our opponents brought Peroni as part of the spread. Since I was so miserably terrible on the courts today, I thought I should take two beers of theirs.
– As my pre-dinner ritual, I had a Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA. Uhhhh, yes. Delicious
– And with dinner, there’s a chance that I had a giant bottle of a very cool VariantPontoonGate CitySprayberry Bottle Shop collaboration. It’s called the Wolf Pack. Sharing from the official description, this Imperial Sweet Stout was aged in Vanilla Bourbon Barrels for six months on rich chocolate, toasted coconut and Tongan vanilla beans.” Yes. All of the yes on this one. The birthday finally arrives tomorrow. More Italian food for us … and this time with unlimited salad and bread-swimming-in-butter.

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

I work from home.
The pantry is 50 feet away.
It speaks to me.
I listen too often.

If you’ve been following along for the last week, you might be shocked and saddened to know that I actually am doing a better job of watching what I eat. Obviously, the bar has been set very low. So, I currently find myself in an interesting place. And I always get here when I start monitoring what I eat. If I go salad and baked fish at every meal, I’ll do great, and it’s do-able for a defined period of time. But it is NOT something that I can sustain as a lifestyle change. I know this about myself. Yes, I know to make better decisions in restaurants (and sometimes do), but going to the extreme is not a lifestyle I can live long-term. So, the interesting place is one where I’m eating less, adding to the cardio, but still eating crap-food from time to time. Not the best call, but I’ll be interested to see how this plays out over the course of the month. Enough of the rambling – what did I enjoy yesterday??

Breakfast – same ole, same ole
Lunch – leftover hotdogs (yes, that’s plural) from Sunday. I don’t think I’m doing this right.
Dinner – mostly AirFryer french fries. And maybe a little bit of chicken. I know that sounds ridiculous …

And my saving grace once again … tennis. Cardio is apparently good for you, or something. Nothing like 3 hours of running around like a lunatic to burn off 1000+ calories, right?

The beers I earned on the court …

To be a good and social teammate, it’s important to bond with your crew over a beer or four. Tonight, we went with …

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington