Beer Tasting at the Beer Market

So the big brother and sister-in-law arrived the other day and one of my brothers favourite past-times is drinking beer. So, less than 24 hours after he’d landed in the country we took him here:

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Yes, to the Stout Brothers Beer Market in Smyrna. Our friends introduced us to this delight and I knew straight away that it would be a place to take the big bro!

This place is ace. Period. It’s literally a shrine to beer. Everything inside the shop is somehow beer related, obviously there’s the actual beer you can taste, and the stuff in bottles that you can buy, but on top of that there are beer candles, beer shampoo and conditioner, beer shower gel, beer ice cream, beer based snacks like jerky, pretzels, nuts, cheese and other such yummy delights, t-shirts and of course, that essential addition to any beer, a BBQ and charcoal!

So here’s the deal…you stroll in, buy a beer tasting card and choose five different beers to taste from one of the biggest selections I have ever seen! If you tell the guys serving you what type of beer is your favourite, they’ll find ones they think you’ll like. The selection is pretty overwhelming so I usually take this option – it’s just too hard to decide if not! And they’re pretty darn good and finding tasty ones too!

Now before I came to America I wasn’t very big on beer drinking, I could maybe have a pint at a time but if you give me a choice I probably would have said ‘no thanks’ and chosen something else instead. Here though there are so many different beers, fruity beers, IPAs and craft beers that there’s something to suit just about everyone’s taste! I am now a certified beer drinking convert with a Blue Moon at the top of my list!

So, when you walk into the beer market you’re met with this:

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A HUGE array of beer taps, all ready for your tasting pleasure, well 5 of them anyway! The only thing you have to do is choose which ones – tough call I know! We got our glasses and scorecards and the tasting got underway:

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As usual I had some help with my choices and went for these:

Woodchuck Summer Cider
Timmermans Blanche
Monks Mead
Monday Night Brewing Fu Man Brew
Well’s Banana Bread Beer

My favourite was the Monks Mead, but with a HUGE alcohol content it probably wasn’t wise to drink anymore of it on a Sunday afternoon! It was closely followed by the Well’s Banana Bread and the Monday Night Brewing Fu Man Brew. If I went into a bar where these were being served I would definitely order them! They were given four or five growlers when it came to the scores!

The boys tried some dark looking, sour tasting stouts and Becky went for some cider options like me. Now, once you’re done with the tasting it’s time to decide if you want to take a growler home and which beer you want to drink some more of. There was no question of whether or not we’d be taking a growler home, we rocked up with 2 that we’d already emptied from a previous visit and there was no way they were going home empty! So, after a long discussion, the boys chose some sort of dark looking, nasty tasting beer and Becky and I went for a light summer cider. Perfect!

After taking a little look around the rest of the store:

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And buying a packet of spicy candied bacon (that stuff is AMAZING!) we waved goodbye to the Stout Brothers and headed home – my brother was a very happy soul and his beer craving had been satisfied, well for at least another hour anyway!

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The thing I love about the Stout Brothers is that you can try, find and discover beers that you would never think of ordering in a bar. It kind of makes me a little bit more adventurous on the beer front and has helped me to discover some really nice beers! If you’re every in the hood you HAVE to go there! It’s fab! I’m sure we’ll be back there again soon – the growlers are already half empty so no doubt it will be sooner rather than later!

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The Grand Re-Opening of The Richter Hotel

Yes, people, it’s happening! After officially closing the doors of The Richter Hotel at the end of August last year after a steady stream of guests, today those doors are being flung open again for the start of the new season!

Richter HotelThe last couple of days have been spent preparing for the arrival of our first guests – cleaning has been done, new cushions bought (including the one in the middle of the picture above which I LOVE) the guest bedroom has been preened to perfection, breakfast goodies have been bought and of course lots of beer and wine because the first guests are:

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My big brother and sister-in-law! The last visitors to be waved out of The Richter Hotel last year and the first visitors of the new season. It’s now their third trip to Atlanta (they obviously love me and the German sooooo much, well either that or they like the free accommodation, or maybe both!) so they know the drill. This time though there’s more excitement on the cards…

There are big plans ahead on this trip! This weekend we’ll be celebrating Becky’s birthday, it’s actually today so she’ll be spending the majority of it on a plane but we’re making up for it on Sunday with a trip to Table & Main (One of my Top 5 Atlanta Restaurants…so far!), we’re heading to the basketball on Tuesday and the baseball on Wednesday – standard trips when they’re in town. On Thursday though things get exciting because, wait for it, we’re all heading too…VEGAS BABY!!!

And man am I excited! The bright lights of the Las Vegas strip will be the place we’ll be calling home for 5 days. We’ll be tripping the light fantastic, checking out all the casinos (no gambling from this lady of leisure though), lounging by the pool and kick-starting that wedding tan, probably tucking into some very unhealthy food, oh and taking a trip to the Grand Canyon. Oh yes people, it’s going to be five days of fun-filled heaven!

So if I disappear off the radar for a few days you know why. There will be some blogging action about the bright lights of Las Vegas after the trip but I may not reveal all because people, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas! Keep an eye on my Instragram and Twitter though for some snaps and updates – they will more than likely include food, or a casino, or possibly even both at the same time…

Yet another mysterious mason jar update…

It’s been about a week since I last updated you on our little intruder (well we think he’s little, we still don’t know what it is!) so I thought it was high time you got to know the latest. I’m sure you’re dying to know if he’s still making an appearance, right?

Following my trip to the leasing office and the request of some glue traps (that I was very unsure about, did I really want this creature captured and staring at me the following morning?) guess what the maintenance men did…yep, absolutely nothing. The glue traps never appeared. There was a slight sense of relief until I got home last night, over a week later, to find a box on the kitchen table that looks a little bit like this:

Eeeeek...

Eeeeek…

Apparently they’re peanut butter scented. Imagine that! Thankfully though a part is missing so they’re not in action just yet. Phew! I know what you’re all thinking though – is the critter still pinching the chocolates?

Well, after the flour stayed on our fireplace for about a week, we decided it was high time we cleaned it up. So we did and moved the mason jar back to its rightful place on the coffee table. Guess what, yep, it started mysteriously falling over in the middle of the night again. So yes, this thing was STILL making an appearance.

We decided to take matters into our own hands last weekend and set up some new flour traps in an attempt to pinpoint just where the critter was coming from. Cue the flour trap setting German:

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We’d already ruled out the cupboard where the water heater is so opted for the laundry closet and the door to the spare bedroom:

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This scared my big bro a little bit, he’s coming to visit with the sister-in-law this weekend and that’s where they’ll be sleeping. We have to rule out every possibility!

We went to bed on Sunday, the following morning the flour was untouched and the jar still standing. We went to bed on Monday, the following morning the flour was untouched and the jar still standing. I went to bed on Tuesday, the German was working away which left me scared to get up on Wednesday but when I did, you guessed it, the flour was untouched and the jar still standing.

This means our little friend hasn’t made an appearance for 3 nights now. I’d like to think he’s disappeared never to be seen again but I get the feeling he might show up again, probably when we least expect it. I think the critter’s stayed away for a few nights before so we’ll see how long it lasts this time.

Hopefully we won’t have to use those glue traps…

Today’s Ramblings #16

I haven’t done one of these posts in a while so I thought it was high time the ramblings returned! Grab a brew…here we go:

Baseball is back people! This is the exciting news of the day here in America-land. Well actually it officially returned last night but today baseball returns for the Atlanta Braves. Their season opener takes place this afternoon and I think the whole city (including the Richter’s) is excited about it. Soon, next week in fact, we’ll be donning our Braves gear and heading back down to Turner Field to watch them in action…it’s been too long people!

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Let the baseball snacks (more than likely chilli cheese fries and a burger – that’s not going to help the wedding diet!), lazy days drinking beer in the sun at the ball park, singing ‘Take me out to the ball game’ at the start of the bottom of the seven, the peanuts and of course the chopping commence! #FearTheChop

I spotted this guy at the gym earlier. I mean, seriously, who goes to the gym wearing this stuff?

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He was on a cross trainer, in jeans, and a fleece. He never took the fleece off for the whole, I’d say 30 minutes or so of his time on there. He did have a towel to wipe his sweat away but jeez, he must have been hot. I’m not sure if the woman knows him or is thinking the same as me? Not long after he took his place another guy wearing jeans and a t-shirt got on a cross trainer too. Is this a new trend I don’t know about? Good on him for exercising though!

Summer is finally here! Yes people, I’ve had a pedicure and these have finally been cracked out of the closet:

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After a long and very cold winter here in Atlanta the temperatures are rising, the sun is out and my sandals are finally back on my feet! That is where they will now be staying for the forseeable future. Oh how I love the summer! I might have to take a walk later to see if the pool is officially open yet…

Oh and in case you were wondering the critter is still making an appearance. More on that in a future blog post. Let’s just say we’re still trying to track that thing down.

Ramblings over, it’s time to go and eat some leftovers from last night’s Mexican for lunch. Yum!

Have a good day y’all!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Don’t worry American readers of mine, you haven’t missed the big day, it’s not happened yet in the States but today is Mother’s Day back in the UK, so here’s a big fat HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to that little lady I call Ma Cook/Minimum/Little One:

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This is when life as an expat is a little bit pants. Instead of taking Ma Cook out for Sunday Dinner (a British tradition) or spoiling her with some cheeky afternoon drinking I am 4 thousand miles away, wishing her a Happy Mothers Day via FaceTime. This year I did get the chance to buy her a present in person a couple of weeks ago when I was back in the UK, instead of putting some money in her account and telling her to buy something nice. I also left a card for her to open this morning (along with this blog post, it’s guaranteed to make her cry!) so for once she doesn’t have a pants MoonPig card because I can’t get a Mother’s Day card in the US (no offence MoonPig, you’ve saved my bacon on many an occasion, you just sometimes don’t have the right words) and actually has a shop bought card that I left in the traditional early cards place at home before flying back to Atlanta.

The Little One is missed lots in the Richter house but, thanks to the joys of FaceTime she’s usually popping up on a daily basis, filling me in on the gossip, having a little rant, telling me she misses me, showing me her latest sugarcraft creations or shouting at me for something that I may or may not have done. Even when you’re 4 thousand miles away, your mum can still shout at you…believe me!

So Happy Mother’s Day to the best mum in the world…Ma Cook! Hope you have a lovely day! This won’t make up for me not being there but mum, you’ve got a full blog post dedicated just to you!! Nobody else has had that yet, not even the German!

What have I gotten myself into?

A few weeks ago I thought it would be a good idea to do this:

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Yep, don my running shoes and do a 10k. Me. The person who hasn’t been running for years, and even when I did go running I wasn’t THAT good at it. My friend used to have to kick my ass to make sure I didn’t give up, and when I’d finished said run (I say run, it was more like a shuffle that could possible pass off as a jog) I was bright red, out of breath and desperate for some water. A bit like a dog on a hot day.

Despite this, I thought it would be a good idea to do the Peachtree Road Race. I still don’t know why.

So, I mentioned this to the German, he was fully against it. I also mentioned it to my Mandy who I go to the gym with. She was also fully against it but she mentioned it to  her fiancé and he was all for it, but only if all four of us signed up. After not much thought and a lot of persuasion, both the German and Mandy agreed to sign up, or at least enter the lottery to attempt to get a place.

Last Saturday, Team Couch Potato was born and we all entered the lottery, literally hours before it was going to close. The German was secretly hoping our team wouldn’t be selected. His fingers were crossed for the next couple of days, until on Tuesday morning, the first word to leave his mouth was ‘shit.’

You guessed it people, we’d received this email:

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We’d only been picked to do this thing! The German wasn’t a happy bunny and when I text Mandy she said she was with him, but Carson was super pumped! I’m actually pretty excited about it too.

It’s something I think I should attempt to do, being an expat in Atlanta and having the chance to participate in something like this is all part of the expat experience – trying out as many things as you can. The Peachtree Road Race is ledendary in these parts, people come from all over America to get involved and I’ve got a place in it, along with 59,999 others! That and the fact I want the t-shirt you get at the end. Actually I think the t-shirt is what I want the most!

So it’s all happening on Independence Day – 4th July, 2014. My only fear is the weather. Even at 9am on 4th July it will probably be about 90 degrees. I do not run well in the heat. I don’t run well period, but give me some slightly higher temperatures and I’m completely rubbish. During my small career as a runner (I really can’t call it that but I’m gonna go with it anyway) I struggled to run in what us Brits call summer, we’re talking 70 degrees. Add another 20 degrees on that and the added humidity and I think I may struggle to survive. Oh and then there are hills. Atlanta is quite a hilly city and this gal is no good at running up hills. When I did run it was in Hull, the flattest city in the UK. But, I’ve signed up now, I have to do it…

Let the attempted training begin:

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Do you know what the worst thing is – this was all my idea! It’s me that’s got us all into this. Me. The non-runner. Oh dear Lord.

But, here goes people, the running shoes are on and I’m heading out into the great unknown that is running. Will I survive? Will I be able to complete this 10k? Only time will tell. I’ll be sure to keep you updated on my ups and downs along the way!

Another mysterious mason jar update.

It’s still here.

Whatever it is that is sneaking into our apartment at night and eating our chocolates is still here and still pinching our chocolates. This I do not like.

Last week the German turned the house upside down looking for potential holes (well he told me that, I wasn’t actually here but I did get a couple of pictures where the sofa was in a different place!), the maintenance men came in, also checked for holes and put some bait down in potential hideaway places. The German attempted to film the said intruder but, that night it never showed up. Once the maintenance men had been in the little critter didn’t make an appearance for a couple of days…sorted we thought.

I landed back in Atlanta on Friday, woke up on Saturday morning and saw this:

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Yes, our little friend was back. Just look at those claw prints! How very dare it? The German had left another flour trap near to the heating cupboard after both he and the maintenance men thought that’s where whatever it is could be getting in but that flour wasn’t touched, ruling it out completely.

The following night we left a chocolate out of the jar and by morning it had disappeared again. The next couple of nights it returned so, once again, the German set up his iPad to record it and got up twice in the night to stop and start it again, each time he got up he returned with the words ‘it’s not been,’ blatantly this thing does not like it when you leave a light on! It’s a clever little thing that’s for sure.

So, I made a trip to the leasing office a couple of days ago and talked to them again. Their idea this time – to have the maintenance men put glue traps in the house. Sounds good right? The critter will be captured! But, a glue trap means when it is captured it will be there, looking at me when I get up in the morning. ARGH! I’m not sure I like that idea but at the same time I want this thing out of the house, especially when the German is working away next week and I’m on my own.

Two days later though and the glue traps haven’t showed up, despite me asking nicely for them to do it pretty quickly – would they want a critter stopping by every night?

This morning we got up and yep, you guessed it, the jar had once again been knocked over…the mystery continues.