yalobusha brew MS craft beer

Yalobusha Brewing makes waves in Mississippi

Forget the Hot Toddy in MS, it’s craft beer you want to sip.

At only 37 years of age, Yalobush owner, Andy O’Bryen, has started 22 businesses. But he says he’s found a keeper with Yalobush brewing in Water Valley, MS. THe town of less than 4,000 residents is just and hour and half from Memphis. The Yalobusha brew building, originally built in 1860 as an old Ford Motor factory, still retains much of its historical ambiance. The building is even listed on the National Registry of Historics Places. In fact, there is little signage at all for the brewery, something O’Bryan says was really important to him in preserving history.

Tony Balzola, head brewer, hails from Portland, Oregon where he had been a head brewer with McMenamin’s Brewing for the last 13 years. Here, Tony was able to oversee the quality of the beers brewed at Yalobusha.

yalobusha brewing MS revie

Up until recently a tasting passport was still needed to try beers at the Yalobusha but laws have recently changed.

You’ll want to stop into Yalobusha to see sample some of the seasonal releases only available at the brewery. Of course there are other mainstays on the menu that are quite tasty. These brews include:

  • Snopes Pilsner
  • Mississippi Blues Trail
  • Larry Brown Ale
  • Coffee Break Happy Hour Porter

The brewery is open to the public on 2 to 10 p.m. Fridays and 2 to 6 p.m. Saturdays for tours and tasting. Mississippi just passed laws allowing the sale of beer at breweries direct to the consumer instead of buying “tasting tickets” or getting a passport stamped. It may not seem a big feat, but for a state where many counties still remain dry ones, this was a huge win for the craft beer industry. Mississippi was the first state to enact prohibition and the last repeal it.

Check out the short video about Yalobusha and see why the brewery is unique.

Yalo from Blue Magnolia Films on Vimeo.

You can read more about Yalobusha here: http://www.yalobrew.com/our-story

supper club wisconsin

Bite and sip your way through Fox Cities, Wisconsin

The Midwest is a fantastic getaway for those looking for a bit of nostalgia, kitsch, and beautiful unspoiled scenery. The cities along the Wisconsin’s Fox River (Appleton, Kaukauna, Menasha, and Neenah) are known as the Fox Cities. Here are just a couple reasons to put Fox Cities on your vacation short list this year.

1. Mark’s East Side

brandy old fashioned supper club

Enjoy a Brandy Old Fashioned at Mark’s East Side

Supper clubs are common restaurants found in Wisconsin. These restaurants are throw backs to decades ago with a kitschy decor. Start your meal with a Brandy Old Fashioned, the supper club drink of choice. Sit in the lounge and order some fried cheese curds (you are in Wisconsin!) to go with your drink. Typical foods you’ll find on the menu are fried fish or Prime rib. After dinner it is common to return to the bar and get a dessert drink like a Grasshopper or a Pink Squirrel, an almond-flavored ice cream drink.

2. Wilmar Chocolates
This spot gives new meaning to the phrase, “A kid in a candy store!”  Ever wanted to create your own chocolate bar? For around ten bucks you can pick four high quality ingredients (think pistachio, toasted coconut, toffee). Go in the back of the candy-filled store and view your yummy chocolate bar being created. While you wait, browse the selection of chocolates and other delectable candies.

Wilmar Chocolates fox cities

Watch as candied apples are hand made at Wilmar Chocolates in Fox Cities

3. Lion’s Tail Brewing
Even if you’ve been to many craft breweries across the United States, you’ll be impressed with Lion’s Tail. Here are just a couple of beers they have:

  • King Kula (Rum barrel aged beer)
  • Nitro Stout – Nitro gas forms much smaller bubbles, giving the beer a creamy mouthfeel
  • Royale with Bees – a French-Style Saison with Local Honey

4. Lamer’s Dairy

WIsconsin Cheese Simon's specialty shop
Who knows how old the milk you buy at your regular grocer is. When you drink milk from Lamer’s Dairy in Appleton, you are having milk that was in the cow that morning. The 100+ year old family run company supports farms within 30 miles of Fox Cities. Here you’ll also find local wines as an incredible selection of cheese. Don’t leave without sampling some of their made in house ice cream too. The seasonal Pumpkin Spice is a highlight.


st patricks day cottage pie recipe

Irish Cottage Pie for St. Patrick’s Day

For those looking to create a hearty Irish meal at home, here is the Irish Cottage Pie recipe. Traditionally topped with a thick layer of creamy mashed potatoes, the recipe saves a few steps by topping the comforting casserole with thinly sliced potatoes and shredded cheese.

st patricks day cottage pie recipe

Image and recipe courtesy of The Fresh Market

Irish Cottage Pie
Serves 6-8

1.5 lb. ground sirloin
3 tbsp. Kerrygold Unsalted Butter
1 tbsp. The Fresh Market Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 c. sweet onion, chopped (about ½ large onion)
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 c. carrots, peeled and diced (about 2 large carrots)
2 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. garlic, minced
1 tbsp. tomato paste
5 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 ½ c. The Fresh Market Beef Stock
1 c. Guinness
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
1 c. The Fresh Market Frozen Green Peas
1 ½ lbs. red potatoes
1 c. Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Heat a Dutch oven or a large, wide skillet over medium high heat.  Add beef and cook until crumbled and no longer pink.  Drain beef of any excess grease and transfer to plate.

Add olive oil and butter to the same pan.  Once the butter melts, add onion, celery, carrots, salt and pepper and sauté until vegetables begin to soften and brown, about 7-10 minutes. Add garlic and tomato paste and cook until garlic is fragrant, about 3 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium and add flour, stirring constantly for 1 minute.  Vegetable mixture will become very thick.  Whisk in beef stock, beer, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves.  Use a wooden spoon to scrape any bits from the bottom of the pan.

Stir in beef and peas.  Bring to a gentle simmer and cook 7-10 minutes. While mixture simmers and thickens, thinly slice red potatoes (the thinner the better).

Spoon mixture into a 10 x 13” or 10 inch round baking dish, both at least 2 inches deep. Top with sliced potatoes, heavily overlapping each. Sprinkle cheese evenly over potatoes. Cover dish loosely with aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, remove foil and return to oven for additional 30 minutes or until pie is bubbling and potatoes are nicely browned.

Remove from oven and allow to rest a minimum of 20 minutes before serving. And don’t forget to have a Guinness beer to pair with your pie!

Bleeding heart valentine's Day beer

Valentine’s Day: A Beer For Bleeding Hearts

Second Self Beer Company’s seasonal release of “Bleeding Heart” for Valentine’s Day

For some, Valentine’s Day represents passionate emotions…and for others it is a lonely nightmare trapped between the echoes of lost love. Some will choose to celebrate in solitude, while others go all out making reservations for a romantic dinner. This Valentine’s Day, consider swapping wine for beer, especially when there’s a beer made especially for the holiday. Second Self provides Bleeding Heart beer as a compliment to either Valentine’s Day experience.

There are definite notes of cocoa and mocha both in the nose and on the tongue for Bleeding Heart beer. This festive amber ale is a balanced beer that can be paired with several kinds of dishes. Be that pasta, salmon, flank steak, the beer matches well. So if you are a beer lover and dining solo, with friends or a special someone, be sure to try Bleeding Heart or another amber ale. Be sure you have the best beer glasses to serve your Valentine’s day guests as well.

As a seasonal release, and in staying true to the fleeting nature of cupid’s arrows, Bleeding Heart is only available for a limited time. This year Second Self is releasing a canned version which is available for purchase at a handful of retail locations across the city. No matter your relationship with the Valentine’s Day holiday, a good beer is always worth having. Bleeding Heart is a nice companion for this time of year and is both shareable and good in isolation. Be sure and give it a try while you can!


How to Pair Beer and Cheese

You don’t have to be an expert to host a beer and cheese pairing. Just knowing a few basics about beer and characteristics of cheeses is really all you need to know for to pair beer and cheese. Similar to wine, beer has a natural progression, so you’ll want to follow that from light to dark. If you start with a strong beer like IPA it can ruin the nuances of the other beers in your flight. The other thing to be careful of when trying to pair beer and cheese is to make sure not to have too many different kinds or the flavors get lost.

Pilsner – A Pilsner is mild and has floral notes. It pairs well with spicy items. So go for a spicy, peppery cheese like a spicy Havarti. That would bring out the best notes in the beer. Avoid cheddar though. Habanero Cheddar sounds great but may be too overpowering for the beer.

Wheat – This pairs nicely with a Chevre, slightly sweet goat cheese.

Brown Ale – What’s nice about this beer is that it is friendly with many cheeses. Try it with an aged Swiss or mild cheddar. Another cheese that would do well with it is a sheep’s milk cheese. Taste a couple cheeses and pick which one you like best for your beer and cheese pairing.

IPAs – IPAs or India Pale Ales are hoppy and have a strong flavor. Pair it with a blue cheese or a sharp cheddar. Since IPAs vary so much, you could put out two different cheeses for your beer and cheese pairing and let your guests try both. Some guests may like one better than the other.

Stout – Lastly you’ll be pairing a dark beer like a stout with your cheese. The coffee-like taste of a stout needs something a bit smokey to pair with. Gouda is probably one of the best cheeses you can pair with a stout.

Atlanta's Best Breweries

Must-Visit Atlanta Breweries

Georgia is still just one of a handful of states where brewers are not allowed to sell their beer directly to consumers. The good news is, that hasn’t stopped many breweries from opening up all around Atlanta. To get around these pesky blue laws, clever Atlanta breweries allow customers to buy a “glass” which comes with tasting tickets you can have before or after you tour the facility. Here are six breweries you will want to make sure you visit.

Jekyll Brewing
Live on the north side? You’re not overlooked. Head over to Jekyll Brewing in Alpharetta. There’s plenty to keep you occupied at Jekyll Brewing. Their space has plenty of games to play in between sipping on their fabulous selection of craft beers. One of the most popular is the ‘Merican Amber with caramel notes and spicy finish. Tip: Visit on Tuesdays for a special release that won’t ever be made again. Taproom is open Tuesday through Saturday.

Monday Night Brewing
With a slogan that “Weekends are Overrated” the folks at Monday Night Brewing stand firm with this ideal, with brewery tours on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30 – 7:30. They do make an exception on Saturdays with tours from 1-4. IPA lovers shouldn’t miss the Eye Patch Ale. Make a full evening of it. Luckily you aren’t far from the West Midtown hot restaurants after your tour is over.

Orpheus has a magnificent location overlooking Piedmont Park and the Atlanta Beltline. They have a terrific selection of IPAs, and especially appealing to some is their selection of and Sours beers. Bring your dog as they are dog friendly. Tip: They also have a comedy night the first Wednesday of every month from 7:30-10:30 p.m. Tours are Thursday through Sundays.

Red Brick Brewing
The oldest craft brewer in the Georgia, Red Brick has been around for greater than 20 years. The brewery is located in West Midtown, so you can visit one of the trendy restaurants in this up and coming area after the tour. The brewery is open Wednesday –Friday from 5-8 pm and on Saturday (11 am – 5 pm), Sunday 1-4 pm. On Friday evenings there’s live music.

Three Taverns Brewery
Three Taverns’ Decatur space is cozy with lots of brick and wood ceilings. Unique to them is their take on Belgian style. Save a couple bucks: Ride your bike to the tasting room and get $2 off your tour. Plus tours are free on your birthday. Tours are Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and some Sundays.

Wild Heaven Brewery
You can visit one of the lovely Decatur restaurants after you visit the Wild Heaven Brewery. Their beer lineup includes Belgian style Golden Ale (Invocation) as well as Saison (White Blackbird). For something that is more mellow and light try the Emergency Drinking Beer Pilsner Session Ale. Open 5:30 – 8:30 Thursdays and Fridays and Saturdays 2-6pm. All ages welcome on Sunday afternoons 2-5pm.

Kansas City Brews: Both Big and Small Operations Impress

While craft beers seem to be popping up everywhere, some breweries have become huge empires, with distribution all over the country. And still, there are some that are happy to produce small quantities. They have a loyal fan base which happily comes to their brewery to enjoy their special craft beers. Or they may even have a restaurant where they serve their beer. Here, we explore two very different beer producers in Kansas City.


Boulevard and McCoy’s are the two breweries we are focusing on, both located in Kansas City. These two couldn’t’ be more different. Boulevard is one of the biggest breweries in the Midwest, distributing to 25 states.  McCoy’s, unlike Boulevard doesn’t distribute their beer, but it is only available at this gastropub or their sister restaurant, The Foundry.



Boulevard Brewing has massive tanks, beckoning you from far away. A tour includes a short, yet informative overview from one of the brewers. You’ll also get to see their bottling operations in action. After that, head down to the dark and cozy tasting room. Here you can choose from a dozen or so different brews. Try the Tank 7 Famhouse Ale or the Ginger Beer if available.



The Bag of Bones is a specialty at McCoy’s

McCoys is just about the complete opposite of Boulevard. Here, the beer is as much the focus as the food. They do several styles of IPAs, which all have their merits. Try a flight of IPAs. But be careful as they are all around 7 percent ABV. Get the Pretzel with house made dipping sauces, The Bag of Bones and for dessert, the Bread Pudding with black and tan sauce.


Dessert is a must at McCoy’s!


Father’s Day Gifts Ideas for the Beer and Cocktail Lovers

How come we spend so much time and effort into planning a sensational Mother’s Day yet Father’s Day seems like an afterthought. Father’s Day is June 21st. Show your dad how much you appreciate him by getting him a gift or gifts he’ll truly love. If you have a dad that is interested in coffee, beer, or cocktails then we’ve got some gifts we highly recommend.

Craft beer is extremely popular these days. No longer are we limited to the boring domestic brews, but some really fascinating types of beers are available right now. So, does your dad love Pilsners, IPA’s, wheat beers? Perhaps he likes them all. Check out our selection of beer glasses to suite just about any kind of beer.

Maybe your dad is more of a cocktail drinker. No problem. We’ve got you covered there too. Check out these amazing martini glasses, that just makes us think of Madmen. Or how about this Whiskey crystal tumbler? There’s a full line of cocktail glasses available from Culinary Outfitters – view them all here.

Don’t forget accessories for any beer, wine or cocktail sets or glasses you may purchase. We’ve got you covered there too.

In a hurry? Did you know we’ll even gift wrap the gift for you? Just tell us the message you’d like written in the card and we’ll handle that for you as well.

best beer glasses

How to Get Started with Home Beer Making

If you enjoy drinking beer, one have you ever considered home beer making? Learning the processes involved in home beer making is not very difficult, but what it does take is dedication to the craft, some patience and some basic willingness to learn.

With very few pieces of equipment you can begin the home beer making process at home. Have you ever watched the beer making process at a brewery? This is much the same process of what you will be doing, albeit on a much larger scale than what home brewers would do.

The home beer making process may appear complicated, but in reality, it is not at all. The goal of the home brewing process is to create your own unique product with the kind of ingredients you like. Like peaches? Create a peach beer. There are many options that are completely up to you when it comes to the home beer making, so there really is no right or wrong answer as long as you are following some basic steps in the process.

If you are just beginning, it is recommended to purchase a beer making kit. There are plenty of beer making kits on the market. This contains all the supplies you’ll need to get started.  This will make home beer making a lot easier for you, at least when you are just starting out. As you improve, you can branch out and begin adding to your supplies and developing your own methods.

It is a great feeling to know that you created your beer yourself. The first sip that you take of your home beer making endeavor’s results are going to let you know one of the most important reasons why people home brew. Make sure you have the best beer glasses to enjoy your hard work. Good luck!


A Tale of Two Nebraska Craft Breweries: Ploughshare and Zip Line

You might be surprised to know some unexpected areas of the United States have not only embraced the craft beer scene, but have a thriving craft beer market. One such spot is Lincoln, Nebraska. Not only is this cattle country, but several craft breweries are doing a robust business here. Here are two of them worth a visit if you find yourself there.

Ploughshare Brewery

While most breweries are so focused on producing beer, they tend to neglect the finer points of their establishment like the decor and food, which ultimately make people want to come back. That’s not the case at Ploughshare. An inviting opening space leads you in to the bar where you can choose your brew and gather with friends. More serious beer enthusiasts wanting a tour should visit on Fridays and Saturdays at 6.

Hop Heads will enjoy the Percheron IPA. The slight pine and citrus flavor marries well with the caramel taste. Most interesting is the Weathervane Belgian Style Witbier. It’s a definite departure from typical wheat beers, using 40 percent raw wheat and a rarely used brewing technique called turbid mash decoction.

As for the food, they are serious about pork. Items like the Schnitzel platter are hearty and satisfying. But we loved the Hunter (charcuterie), Gatherer (fruit and cheese), and Wanderer (fish) platters for sharing.

Zip line brewing NebraskaZip Line Brewing
Quite the opposite of Ploughshare, is Zip Line. This is a no frills spot where the sole focus is beer – no food or upscale decor. Named so after the owner had a zip line accident. His friends warned him opening a brewery may not be such a good idea saying “Remember that zip line accident..” But apparently it hasn’t hurt the success of the brewery.

The variety of beers is huge. So be ready to settle in for an afternoon. In fact, you may want to make sure you have a designated driver. Highlights were:
Black IPA – The slight chocolate flavor was a unique mix for IPA. Available from November to January only.
Double Stout – A smooth, easy sipping beer, but surprisingly light on the chocolate flavor. It has a slight spicy chocolate aroma, which you will definitely smell but only taste slightly. It is pretty similar to a Guinness. Go easy, this is 8.5% ABV.
American Tripel – This would be a terrific spring beer. The crisp taste along with citrusy flavors like grapefruit all make for the a perfect light beer to sip alone or with fish or chicken entrees.