Good ol’ home cookin’ at Geraldine’s Originals

The story goes that Geraldine has been selling her jams for 10 years at a road stop, and all she wanted to was to move into a store front. The health people said she would have to have a full food licence to open this jam store, and Geraldine thought, what the heck, I’ll serve some food to go with my jam.

And now Geraldine has a restaurant serving breakfast and lunch, just the way she knows how to serve it. And it is wonderful Southern cooking. The website doesn’t seem to work, but her address is: 2522 Capital Circle Northeast #6 Tallahassee, FL 32308.

Store front

Inside the small restaurant there are about 6 tables, a full wall of jam and other homemade preserves and goodies, and friendly folk working and cooking. This is the type of place when you walk in the door the first words said to you is “What can I get you to eat”.

Wall o’ jams

Geraldine working a table next to us

You must be noticing by now that this Canadian is fascinated by real Southern charm and especially real Southern cookin’. And Geraldine’s Original is the place to get both.

Our table

The menu is small, and exceptionally well priced

Menu…squint to see the options!

The food is homemade. The sweet tea is sweet. And the cooking all happens on an electric stove just tucked behind the main eating area.

Abe and I were with our friend Casey, so we ordered three different things (and because I tend to pick eating partners who like to share I got a taste of them all). There were many off the menu specials the day we were there, and Abe and Casie ordered some of those.

Abe ordered chicken and dumplings, which came with (pan) fried okra, black eyed peas (also had possible choice of fries, squash and pink peas) and biscuit (or cornbread). I’ll admit that I have never had chicken and dumplings before, so I can’t say if it is really as amazing as I thought it tasted but man I liked it! The chicken was flavourful, and the dumplings were satisfying. The okra tasted great, and the black eyed peas tasted wonderful with only a small amount of fat in them ;).

Chicken and dumplings

Casie ordered BBQ chicken with the same sides as Abe, although with cornbread. The chicken was a tender thigh and leg, with a nice thick sweet BBQ sauce on it (my favourite type). The cornbread was probably the most disappointing thing about the meal, it was dry and didn’t have much corn bread flavour. Go with the biscuit…and enjoy the large tray of Geraldine’s jellies.

BBQ chicken

Two of the jams we tried

Both Abe and Casie’s meals were $8, and quite hardy. I ordered a smaller meal of freshly made chicken salad sandwich which was a bargain price of $3.50. The chicken salad was heavy on the mayo, which is how I like it, with relish mixed in. The bread was whole wheat, nicely toasted, and a big tomato and lettuce came with it. It was great, satisfying and priced appropriately.

Chicken salad sandwich

Really, I love Geraldine’s Original for the southern comfort food served honestly and affordably. The breakfast is even more affordable, I can’t wait to try that too.

Geraldine’s Originals is new to town, although Geraldine has been selling her jams here for years. The restaurant has been open for a few months, but they are finally having a grand opening on August 25. I suggest checking them out for a soul satisfying meal and friendly people.

Abe and Geraldine herself!

Geraldine's Originals on Urbanspoon

UPDATE: Geraldine’s eatery has closed. On a recent visit, I spoke with Geraldine briefly and she confirmed they would no longer be serving meals at the store. 

And then there was the oddest restaurant experience ever…

This is going to be an odd restaurant review.  Because we didn’t eat any food! But I’ll get to that…

We are real restaurant geeks, so had been excited for the opening of Backwoods Bistro in Tallahassee.  Almost two weeks after it opened (I mention that because it’s important for context) we headed there on Friday night with some friends.  Abe and I arrived at 8pm and had a drink at the bar waiting for our friends to get there at 8:30, which worked out because there was a 30 minute wait for a table.  When we initially got there, it was busy for sure, but we were some of the last people to come in so it thinned out during our drink.

We sat at the bar and had a cider and beer on draft.  The selection was varied and heavily microbrew oriented, which I liked.   The prices were good for the drinks as well.  The bartender looked a little shell shocked although he wasn’t busy at the time we were there.  He wasn’t as responsive as I am used to from bartenders, but was very knowledgeable.

Draft line up

There is a stage at one end of the bar, and the staff were getting lots of bottle beer on ice, so there must be a bit of a late night crowd that comes in with live music.

Stage

At about 8:35 the hostess came and got us and brought us to a nice booth in the main seating area.  The rest of the restaurant is not much to look at, but I was happy with the booth seating.

Looking out from the booth

The bartender ran our credit card and made it seem like it would be no big deal to transfer our drinks to the table.  We told our server we had drinks at the bar and she said it would be easy to transfer.  We ordered new drinks and things started to get weird.  The hostess came by with scraps of paper in her hand and wondering what we had to drink at the bar because we hadn’t paid.   We told her our server said she had transferred it, and the hostess asked who our server was (if anyone in the restaurant should know that, it should be her).  She walked away confused and came back a few minutes later again asking us what our drinks had been because they had not been transferred and she didn’t know who our server was.  She wandered off after we insisted again the server had the drinks.

Anyways, our server came by and brought 3 of the 4 drinks we had ordered.  The 4th never did make it.  We ordered an appetizer (it was about 8:45 at this time) and she said there was a bit of a kitchen hold up.  We had a pregnant lady with us and it was getting late, so we hurried up to make our main course decisions so we could get it in.  Then the server came back and said it would take over an hour for our food.  We should have left then.  But we were seated and just kept going.

I was having difficulties picking anything from the menu.  I had been under the impression that it was a seafood restaurant, but there were large sections on the menu for sandwiches, pizza and pasta?  In fact, there was not a huge amount of seafood, and not many “local” options.  Things like tuna instead.  In general, nothing was that appealing to me, the menu was a little confused and seemed more roadhouse-ish with lots of melted cheese on things.  I saw some plates go out to tables, and they were heaping with food so if you are a big eater you will get your fill.

Turns out I didn’t have to make a decision.  The server came by at about 9 and announced “the kitchen has told me they are not making any more food tonight”.   Cue my shocked face.  We were told we would not be getting our appetizer.  We could not order our mains.  No.more.food.  So we said we better leave and she replied that would be a good idea.

It was like the kitchen just said “enough”.  The place is new, but had gone through a full weekend of service before we got there, so should have been getting the flow of things when we were there.  We were in the restaurant for an hour, and it was busy but nothing insane.  Maybe the kitchen was in the weeds a little, but to just stop?  With open chits?!  I worked in restaurants for about 5 years and never saw that happen.  Maybe we smelled funny?

Another odd thing was no manager came by.  I could see him, but he sent the server over instead.  And she wasn’t that apologetic.  She did quickly comp our full drinks, and Abe and I paid for the ones we had drank before (she tried to comp those too though).

We left and had amazing sushi.  At a busier restaurant than Backwoods.  In the end, it was better than waiting another hour for our food, and food I didn’t really want.  I will not go back there to try it out again, and honestly there are so many great restaurants in Tally I would really recommend you don’t go either.

 

Backwoods Bistro on Urbanspoon

Why yes, you can get eggs at the Egg!

Abe and I finally made it to The Egg Cafe and Eatery over the weekend.  So many people talk about this place in town, it is surprising it took so long to get there.  I blame our addiction to a few other breakfast places in town.  Anyways, many people will recognize this place more readily as Another Broken Egg, but it looks like the local Tally owners decided to split with the chain and change the name.  The Egg doesn’t have a website that I could find, including a menu to remind me of the name of some things, but I did find the Another Broken Egg corporate website.  It looks like the Egg is using many of the same menu items but have changed the name of them.  So if you haven’t been back since they changed, don’t worry, you will probably still love the same, re-named things.

We went to the Cap Circle location.  At about 9:30 on a Sunday there was plenty of room to sit and the place was bright and clean.  That may not be the case all the time.

The menu is one of the most impressive I have seen at a breakfast place…holy options batman!  I’m talking Andouille sausage! Chorizo! Avocado!  Seafood!  Brie!  Portabello! I had a tough time choosing, but ended up going with an egg white omelette with bacon and avocado (okay, who am I kidding, it is very difficult for me to not pick something with avocado).  It had melted cheese on it, came with home fries (although I could have gotten fruit or other options), and I substituted in a biscuit for bread.

My meal!

I’m not going to lie, I was pretty excited about my omelette.  Some of my most favourite things together.  With melted cheese!  It may have been the egg whites, but overall it was a little dry.  Most disappointing was the lack of the good stuff in it!  The bacon was so finely chopped it was hard to find and could not be tasted, and there was about 1/4 of an avocado total.  Considering those were the only two ingredients in the omelette for about 10$, I was sad.  The hashbrowns were standard, and the biscuit was quite tasty.

Abe gets a little wild sometimes with ordering, and this was one of those times.  He bucked the normal breakfast fare and got a Croque Madame.  That’s pretty much a ham and cheese sandwich under bechamel sauce  with a few eggs on top.  Courageous order at a breakfast place.  Even more so for them to have it on the menu (note my previous comment about the varied menu)!  Abe says he gives them props for having it there.  That is his only comment.

Abe’s meal

And because I told our friends the Parker’s that they would make the blog, and they smiled so nicely despite us all being drenched in sweat from an hour and a half run we had just finished:

Sean and Jessica!

ps, we all apologize for whoever got our seats after us.

In all, the service was wonderful throughout the meal (although there were some kitchen mistakes with the order).  The place is big with large tables for a bigger crowd, which I have noticed is hard to find in this town.  And as my friend Paula just reminded me, there are boozy drink options (great for those family breakfast moments!).  I was impressed by the menu and the potential that was there. If you want something not typical for breakfast but still egg (or sweet, if that’s your thang) oriented, you will like this menu!  And there are lunch choices too.

In the end, the food was okay.  And it was pricey for okay.  Really pricey for okay.  But the coffee was good and refilled many a time!

The Egg Cafe & Eatery on Urbanspoon

What Beer Styles Do We Like? A Bayesian Approach.

I love the internet.  Speaking as an old man who remembers The Dark Times, I can say that never has so much information been so readily accessible.  In the days before free and easy information we would just argue over stuff.  Was it Kurt Russell or Patrick Swayze in Road House? Which movie was better? Rocky I or Rocky II?  Did Mikey really die from eating pop rocks and drinking soda at the same time?  Without having any means of answering these questions (other than going to a public library – yea, right. Good luck with that) there was no way to resolve these questions other than to argue. I mean, just imagine trying to play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon without access to the internet?  It would be impossible.  But today, most arguments are avoided completely by simply googling the answer.

But in addition to answering trivia questions, the internet also exists for us to express our opinions.  Nowhere are our opinions more important than the internet, where our well-thought out and reasoned opinions are joined by thousands more to create a large caterwauling mess.  Which brings me to the topic of this blog post.  In addition to loving beer, I also enjoy going to some beer websites and reading reviews about beers that others have tried.  There are two great websites for this :  Ratebeer.com, and Beeradvocate.com.  Both of these websites allow people to rate the beers that they have tried, as well as write reviews about them.  I tend to favor BeerAdvocate.com mostly because it also provides information about the styles of beers that are being rated.  Both websites have cool features that allow you to sort the beers based upon the ratings.   At Beeradvocate.com, they rank their beers (on a 1 to 5 scale) based upon a “WR (weighted rank) [which is] a Bayesian estimate that pulls data from millions of user reviews and normalizes scores based on the number of reviews for each beer or place. The WR represents the beer or place’s score against all others.”.  As a statistics aficionado,  I had to stop for a moment an appreciate the use of Bayesian estimates, which tend to pull the a ranking closer to a mean value, especially when the reviews are few in number.   But their statement also generated a number of follow-up questions, such as whether the Bayesian estimate was pulling the rating toward the grand mean or the style mean?  Did they treat raters as being nested within beer?  What about the multiple rater problem???  Luckily the beer aficionado in me told the stats person in me to STFU.

So I was browsing Beeradvocate.com and I wondered – what beer styles are rated the highest?  Sadly, this answer was not readily available from the pull-down menus (not the first time I’ve been disappointed by a pull-down menu).   So I decided to get this information manually.  I created refreshable web queries in Excel for each of 84 beer styles listed and populated an Excel spreadsheet with the top 50 beers of each style (along with their ratings).  Then I graphed the results. What did I learn (other than apparently I have too much free time)?   I learned that the most highly rated beers are angry beers that are high in alcohol (see graph).  The bar graph contains all the beers that had an average score of 4 or above.  Looking at the graph, it seems like there are 4 styles that stand above the rest of the best – Double or Imperial Stouts, Imperial Russian Stouts, Double or Imperial IPAs, and American Wild Ales.  The stouts and IPA’s at the top of the list didn’t surprise me.  But the American Wild Ales?  These are beers that have an additional strain of “wild yeast”  or bacteria added to the wort that can leave a sometimes earthy, sometimes sour taste to the beer.  The only American Wild Ale I have seen in these parts of the country are from Ommegang Brewery in Cooperstown NY.  Further research seems to indicate that most of the best American Wild Ales are brewed on the West Coast, and they don’t seem to make it this far east.  That’s too bad – I would love to give these Wild Ales a good tasting.  Another surprise in the top 10 were the Saisons.   These beers also have an earthy/sour flavor to them that I didn’t think many people would find pleasing – or rate that highly.  Overall, the beer styles that made the top of the list are typically high in alcohol and complex in flavor.  They have a lot going on.

On the other end of the continuum, I also graphed out the least favorite styles. Please forgive me, but the vertical axes of the two graphs are not on the same scale. Do note, however, that the top of the scale for the worst beer styles (4.0) is the lowest average rating from the graph above. It’s pretty clear that the worst of the worst are the beers that most Americans drink.  Light beers, American Adjunct Lagers (fancy name for the buds and millers of the world) and Malt Liquor.  Colt 45 does not work everytime with people who rate beer on the internet.  Two styles that made the list that I found interesting were the American Wheat beers and the American Dark Wheat beers.  I’m going to take a guess as to why they are down here.  Compared to the German Wheats, the American Wheats are too highly hopped.  Wheat beers have a certain creaminess to them, and that gets ruined with the addition of hops.  Much in the same way no one wants bitter ice cream, no one wants to taste bitter when they are expecting creamy.  Another common theme in the bottom list is that almost all of these beers are fairly low in alcohol content and are fairly simple in flavor.  Apparently people who love beer love to get buzzed fast.  Who knew?

So if you’re interested in knowing more about beer or styles of beer, I urge you to check out beeradvocate.com or ratebeer.com.  They really have a wealth of information about craft beers.  It can even make going into a craft beer store more fun.  Check out some different styles of beer and see which ones you like the best.

The good ol’ Cap’

Earlier today I felt the familiar pangs of cravings for Captain Pete’s House of Gyro’s (or maybe it’s called House of Gyro’s?).  It has been about 3 weeks since I’ve been there, thanks to a vacation to Scotland.  And just saying all this out loud makes me realize I have a bit of a problem.  A gyro problem.  Maybe more specifically a feta problem.  To put it in perspective, I became the foursquare mayor of the place.  I don’t even really foursquare! Yikes!

I am conflicted with this review.  More so than normal.  For the most part, I don’t really read others reviews of places I’m blogging about, and if I do I have noticed my opinions tend to match the masses.  But Captain Pete’s gets some pretty not nice reviews, and the details of many are things that I have seen and experienced myself (lousy decor, long waits, odd hours, pricey).  BUT HOLY COW THE DELUXE GYRO IS AMAZING.  And that’s gyro pronounced like euro (like the money!).  So, believe me, not the others!

I may lose some followers for this, but I actually believe that Captain Pete’s is one of my favourite food places in town. Now, I will blabber to anyone I meet that I believe Tally has many great eateries and the idea that there is no place great to eat here in town is an old one.  I can recommend a pretty good option for almost any food flavour in this town, with the options ranging from “great” to “good for Tally”. But Captain Pete’s/House of Gyros Deluxe Gyro is one of the best gyro’s I’ve ever had. ever. And I’ve been to Greece (and had many a turkish kebab/doner).

Image

the goodness.

I have never ate anything else there.  I saw a recommendation for avoiding other menu items and sticking with the Deluxe on yelp.  And I haven’t looked back.  It’s all in the feta.  And a second runner up of the tzatziki, both of which come on the deluxe. The feta is silky, flavourful, the right saltiness, and fresh tasting (ps, they sell it by the pound.  Thank me later for that knowledge).  The tzatziki is creamy, with the right amount of fresh cucumber and herb. The gyro meat is very tender and nicely sliced and plentiful.  The pita is fresh and warm.  The tomatoes and lettuce appropriate

Yup.

So, to wrap up (that was a pun there).  Go there.  And pay attention to the times it is open, they are odd (although recently they are open for supper on Friday and Saturday, but mostly lunch, and it’s all the way across town).  Get the deluxe gyro.  Expect to wait a bit for the goodness to be made.  Expect the inside to be charmingly run down.  Don’t get the combo, it’s very overpriced.  The gyro is worth the price though.  The deluxe is worth the up charge.

This place is locally owned, although it seems like it has changed owners in recent history.  I like that it seems a family owns and runs it, it’s always the same people working.  Captain Pete’s used to tweet for a bit and they were fun to interact with, that’s what got me there in the first place.  They don’t seem to anymore, but in case it’s @CaptPetes.  And check in on foursquare, I can’t be the mayor forever.

A note about gyro’s in Tally.  I have also tried Pitaria and it sucked.  That’s all I have to say about that.  Not even worth a blog post.  I haven’t tried Little Athens, which has some sort of previous owner connection with Captain Pete’s and I’ve been told is good.  But I was also told Pitaria was good.  I am telling you that the Cap’ is good.

Edit: People are mentioning the odd hours, so I thought I would post them: Monday – Saturday | 11:00am – 2:00pm
Friday & Saturday | 11:00am – 8:00pm

Captain Pete's House of Gyros on Urbanspoon

Parlay Sports Bar and Grill: Engineered for You! A ThirdWheel Review

Sometimes when it gets crazy at work and the ducks are quacking at the door, I like to hide out in area coffee shops to get work done.  One of my caffeinated hidey-holes is the Bruegger’s on North Monroe Street.  If you have been in their parking lot at any time in the last 6 months you noticed a prodigious amount of construction mayhem going on in the building they share.  Well, it appears that a bar has risen from the mayhem.  A sports bar called Parlay Sports Bar and Grill.  I had been tracking the development of the space for quite some time now – and I finally found their facebook page recently and discovered that they had a “soft open” on May 21st. A soft open apparently means that one day they just unlocked the doors to see who wanders in. Well, I wandered in last Friday to check the place out.

Stadium Seats for clear views of the big screen TV’s

As a new Person who Blogs, I am learning as I go.  And I learned that if you walk around a place with a large professional camera taking pictures, the people who own the place want to know what the hell you are doing. Apparently this is not a natural behavior seen in your standard bar-goer.  But it did give me the opportunity to meet Doug – one of the new owners of Parlay.  Doug was an engineer in a previous life, and he’s added some great features to Parlay.  First feature is the “stadium seating”.  This will allow people to watch the big screen TV’s at the same time without having an obstructed view of the screens.  I mean hey– it works at the Tallahassee AMC theater – why shouldn’t it work here? Brilliant.

Another nice touch comes with the booths for sit-down eating.  There are TV’s on the wall over each booth – with the speakers at the booth broadcasting the sound for the TV on the opposite wall.  This makes complete sense.  You would never watch the TV that’s directly overhead – you would watch the TV that is across from you.  And they are high up enough so it doesn’t look like you are staring at the people in the other booth.  Unless you are actually staring at them.  Then no amount of engineering (short of a duck blind) is going to help you.

View from the throne

But the pièce de résistance is in the bathrooms (bear with me here).  As you walk into the restrooms there is a TV monitor over the sink.  Now, this is not the first men’s room I have been in that has a TV monitor.  But this is the first men’s room I’ve been in that has strategically placed the monitor so its viewable from the stall.  That’s right folks.  If the call arises, you can watch your game from the throne. Only the mind of an engineer can think this stuff up.

So how’s the beer you ask?  Parlay currently has between 10 to 12 taps dedicated to craft beer (and only 2 or 3 for the macrobrews!) and a good selection of craft beers in bottles.  On my visit I had a Southern Tier 2X IPA and a Brooklyn Dry Irish Stout on draft and both were excellent.  I also tried the Jalapeño Roll.  It was a like a Chinese roll (deep fried) with jalapeños and cream cheese inside.  It was served with a raspberry jam and it was delicious!  If you like craft beer, sports, and the ability to watch TV from every angle in a bar, you need to check this place out.

Check out the taps!

Parlay Sports Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

The Unicorn of Tally: Pho

(Sara’s back again!) Anyone who knows me, at least a little bit, will have heard me say that I truly believe I see a trend in Tally towards supporting more local restaurants and more diverse food ideas.  One of these ideas to this point has not been pho, the Vietnamese noodle soup that took the rest of the country by storm years ago.  I have seen numerous conversations on twitter about where to even *get* pho in Tally, never mind where it is good (Far East Cuisine is typically the option).

Pretty typical looking

Enter a new restaurant, Pho 7.  Someone else must have noticed the total lack of the easily loved soup (hot or cold weather, I swear!  Think, ‘nam is not what I would call “chilly” ever!).  Pho 7 has only recently opened.  Their facebook page started in February this year, so maybe sometime around then?   Anyways, I was excited to hear that it was opening, and finally got a chance to try it yesterday.

Adrea makes a blog appearance!

I’m fairly safe when it comes to Pho.  I like the beef broth with rare thinly sliced beef.  I have tried the options with tripe, etc., but I do not get along well with tripe in general.  So I ordered the pho bowl option with sliced beef (P3 on the menu).  With fresh shrimp and pork spring rolls to start.  FYI: there were lots of pho and other options.

That isn’t my arm! I swear ;).

The spring rolls were not bad, but pretty unremarkable.  I typically like them with some cilantro or something leafy inside for flavour, but there wasn’t anything.  The peanut sauce was also unremarkable.  I also thought at $4.50 for 2, the rolls were a little overpriced.

Oh well, we were at Pho 7 for pho anyways.  I’ll admit it though, I was a little concerned about the pho when I saw the “extra” plate that came to our table.  For anyone who has never had pho before, it’s sort of like a buffet at your table with the bowl.  You typically get a plate that is overflowing with fresh limes, jalapenos, cilantro, basil, and bean sprouts.  You tear, squeeze and add to your heart’s content, along with hoisen sauce and sriracha.

For 4 people

Now, I love me some fresh cilantro and basil, but I don’t think I’m wrong in thinking the plate we were given was not nearly enough for 4 people eating pho.  This is what made me concerned.  3 limes?! Really.  I love sharing, but really I want my own lime slice.  I asked for another plate, and it came no problem.  Problem solved!

Pho!

Okay, pho time!  The initial look was pretty good.  It seemed to look like what I was used to.  The first taste was pretty good too.  But alas, I seemed to have gotten all the spice that was present in the broth all in one bite.  Pho should seem simple enough at the surface, but good pho is very complex in flavour.  Rich as all get out in depth of broth (bones should be simmering for hours, nay days here folks!).  And should have a very spicy undertone, similar to the Chinese 5 spice flavour profile.

Unfortunately, Pho 7 tries hard, but does not put the love into the broth that is needed.  It takes mostly tastes like beef flavoured water.  Hardly any spice, and not enough meat flavour.

I took home half the bowl for Abe, because I know he lives for pho.  I put it in the fridge and didn’t give my opinion.  He found it later that night (he’s very resourceful that way), and the next day after seeing the remnants of pho I asked his opinion. He commented the same way.  No real flavour.

Pho 7 was packed on a Wednesday at lunch.  This tells me people really WANT pho.  This is the only pho available near campus, and practically in town.  It’s not bad, but not the quality I have had before.

Now, just for you guys, I will tell you where there is pretty good pho in this city.  Unfortunately, it’s very limited and hard to come by.  The mom/grandmom at Tasty Eats Beer Garden in railroad square (super random location, fyi) makes it every Friday.  Well, mostly every Friday.  I would call to confirm.  And when it’s gone, it’s gone (and it’s usually gone by 6pm).  And it’s good!   She makes it right, brewing the stock all day. And that’s why it’s only once a week…it takes up the whole kitchen and is a pain in the butt!  Check it out!  And if you are in a pinch, Pho 7 will work for you.  But will leave you wanting something more.

Pho 7 on Urbanspoon

ThirdWheel Beer Review: Summer Heat means Summer Wheat!

It’s the end of May here in Tallahassee (as it is elsewhere)  and that means the onset of high heat and humidity.  Unless we are blessed with a tropical weather event, it will reach the 90’s every day from now until the end of September.  With temps in that range, the palate no longer cries out for the dark thick moody beers we developed relations with during the winter.  As Tallahassee turns into a giant steam room without the rocks, we seek lighter thirst-quenching beers that we can drink more than one of without ending the evening face-down on the brown shag.  One family of beers that meets this need are the wheat beers.  But not all wheat beers are the same!  They can vary quite a bit in hop character and alcohol content.  There are four main categories of wheat beers:  Hefeweizen, Berliner Weisse, Belgian Witbier and American Wheat.

Hefeweizen – Hefe means yeast  in German (and Boss Man in Spanish – but don’t get distracted) and weizen means wheat.  These beers are brewed with 30%-50% wheat malt.  No one brews with 100% wheat malt, as our civilization has not evolved enough to handle pure uncut wheat.  These beers are cloudy from the suspended yeast present in the beer.  These yeasts imparts a very mild banana or clove flavor, and are very low in hop bitterness.  They tend to produce a large head when poured (especially into a traditional hefeweizen glass).  These beers have a really smooth mouthfeel to them and they are perfect for a warm summer afternoon.  They tend to be relatively low in alcohol content (usually around 4-5%) so you can enjoy more than one.   Two other beers in the same family are the Krystalweizens (clear wheat) and Dunkelweizens (dark wheat).  The krystalweizens are hefeweizens that have the yeast filtered out, and the dunkelweizens use a darker malted wheat.

 Both of these beers retain the smooth mouthfeel and banana/clove flavors of a hefeweizen, with the krystalweizens having less of those flavors, and the dunkels adding a nice mild roasted flavor.  All of these beers are extremely low in hop bitterness (with most having no bitterness) and they range in the 4-6% ABV.  The most beloved versions of these beers come from the Weihenstephaner Brewery in Germany.  If you haven’t had one of their beers, you need to add that to your beer bucket-list.

Berliner Weisse – Berliner Weisse is a wheat beer that will usually undergo a second fermentation process that will add tart or sour notes to the beer.  It’s very lightly hopped (if hopped at all).  These beers are typically very low in alcohol content (with many in the 3.0% ABV range, which is well below the macrobrew light beer Mendoza line of  4.2% ABV) .  If you order this beer in Germany, they may ask you if you want it “red” or “green”.   It’s common place to add a small amount of sweet syrup to this beer, with red being raspberry flavored and green being some unholy herbal flavor that I can’t remember.  These beers are more difficult to come by here in Tallahassee.  It’s hard to imagine why a beer with only 3% alcohol isn’t flying off the shelves, but it is what it is.  There are a few American versions of this beer – the most famous being Dogfish’s Festine Peach.  Cigar City in Tampa also has a version of this brewed with passion fruit (disclaimer – I have not tried this one).  The American version typically has some kind of fruit added to it, and the alcohol content is higher.  But they still retain the sour/tart notes typical of a Berliner Weisse.

Belgian Witbier.  First thing you should know about Belgian beers is that they brew all their beers with some magical yeast that only exists in Belgium.  Their yeast strains add very interesting flavors to their beers.  A Witbier (Witte means white in Dutch, which I am told is a language all of its own) is an unfiltered wheat beer brewed with Belgian yeast and assorted spices (orange peel, coriander, chamomile, etc).  It’s very low in hop bitter.  It’s essentially Belgium’s version of a hefeweizen, with the banana/clove notes being replaced by the orange/coriander flavors.  Chamomile is also frequently added to these beers, but I have no idea why.  You can barely taste chamomile in chamomile tea.  If chamomile can’t compete against hot tap water for flavor dominance, it has no hope in a brew kettle.  The best American versions of these beers come from Allagash (Allagash White) and Ommegang (Ommegang Witte).  The worst version of this style is A-B’s Shock Top, which is a witbier with training wheels.   Hoegarden is probably the most popular version of this style.

American Wheat Beers.  Here’s where things begin to deviate (as is often the case when Americans get involved).  American wheat beers differ from their European counterparts in that they will most often up the hop and alcohol content.  The presence of a hop characteristic may surprise the uninitiated if they are expecting the slightly sweet/spiced flavors of a German/Belgian wheat beer.  Personally, I find that it all depends on the mood I am in.  Sometimes I crave the light-malty-banana-orangey flavors of a witbier or hefeweizen, and sometimes I like some hop bitterness to tone things down.  The important point is to know what to expect because not all wheat beers are the same.  Some great American Wheat beers are Bell’s Oberon Ale, Sam Adams Summer Ale, and Southern Tier’s Hop Sun.  These beers won’t have the banana-clove notes of a hefeweizen or the spices of a witbier, but the wheat flavor and aroma are still present along with some hoppiness.

Well, if you’ve made it this far into my post, congrats and thank you!  If I had to summarize the preceding information it would be this.  German wheats – no hops with banana/clove notes.  Berliner Weisse – slightly sour beer with no hops that is hilariously low in alcohol. Belgian witbiers – no hops with spices added.  American wheats – no spice or banana notes but some hoppiness.  All refreshing on a hot summer day.  Choose wisely!

Finally, a post about wheat beers wouldn’t be complete without a discussion of “fruiting” the beer by adding lemon/lime/orange wedges.  Beer snobs will certainly give you a disapproving stare if you allow one of these impure wedges into your wheat beer.  I think they need to mind their own beers and stay out of yours.  If you like a wedge of something in your beer – for heaven’s sake, put one in!  Don’t let beer snobbery reduce your enjoyment of a beer.  All of the beers I posted pictures of are available in Tallahassee as of today.  Now get out there and give these beers a try!

Food Truck Thursday

Thursday night has never been a particularly fun night in Tallahassee. If you’re one of our legion of college-aged followers, Thursday signals the start of the weekend. When you become so old that a hangover can follow you for three days, Thursday probably means Redbox and some cheap takeout. Cue an empty parking lot next to Burger King.

Chuck holding court on the virtues of filipino street food.

The first food trucks in North American were the chuckwagons of early pioneers. Though the food was just good enough to sustain life, they set the stage for what was to come. Panko fried pork cutlets, wood fired pizzas, chicken ‘n waffles, fried caprese sandwiches can now be found all around Tallahassee in modern day chuckwagons.

Paula going back for more fried chicken skins.

Between 6 and 10pm every Thursday, the finest food trucks in all the city converge on 330 W. Tharpe Street for what has become known as Food Truck Thursday. Locals delight at the fare being prepared by Street Chefs, MoBi, Fired Up Pizzas, Lucy & Leo’s Cupcakery, Big Easy Snowballs, Cravings Truck and more!

Phil trying to decide if he has enough Weight Watcher points left for a Fried Nutella sandwich (definitely not) while Sir Cheezy chats him up.

Bring your favorite folding chair, a blanket, maybe some cheap wine or cheaper beer, and some good friends. More information and parking recommendations can be found at the Food Truck Thursday Facebook page. 

The start of a new series: The Third Wheel!

(L to R) Abe, Sara and Chris (may not be an exact image)

Hi. My name is Chris. I’m a friend of Sara’s and Abe’s. And I like beer. I consider myself to be a beer enthusiast as opposed to a beer snob. I love me a good Double IPA or Belgian Tripel, but I wouldn’t turn down a cold macrobrew if the occasion presented itself. A beer for every season and a chicken in every pot. Or something like that. Anyway, I have a habit of going into local beer and liquor stores and buying beers I haven’t tried before, or beers that are coming into season. And now I am going to blog about it. Which the younger folks tell me means I am going to write it and put it on the internet. Kids.

Terrapin Brewery is based in Athens Georgia, and has been putting out some very interesting beers. This one is their 10th Anniversary Ale. The actual name of the beer is not pronounceable. It’s an equation, -1[〖Xe〗^iπ ]=10, which actually looks quite complicated and out of place on a beer label. Luckily (or unluckily) I had two semesters of calculus in college and knew that e^iπ is Euler’s Identity, and it equals -1. Then solving for X is quite easy…and has absolutely nothing to do with drinking this beer.

Terrapins 10th Anniversary is a Belgian Strong Pale Ale brewed with the addition of some malted rye. The Belgian Strong Pale Ale style is typically high in alcohol and low in bitterness, and this beer follows in that tradition. The carbonation is excellent and it leaves very small bubbles in the glass. The mouth feel is excellent and the addition of malted rye gives it a spicy malt flavor. As an aside, if you haven’t given a rye beer a try for one reason or another, I would urge you to do so. It’s not like eating rye bread or a corned-beef-on-rye (which is delicious in its own right). Malted rye adds a nice subtly sharp spiciness to beer. Terrapin 10th Anniversary Ale nicely balances the slight sweetness of a Belgian Pale Ale with the spiciness of a rye beer. Terrapin also added some coriander, orange peel, and chamomile to this beer – but for the life of me I can’t taste any of it. But I don’t need to – this beer is excellent as is. But be careful – this beer hides its alcohol (10% ABV) quite well. This beer will sneak up on you and punch you in the face. Currently available at Liquor Loft on Tennessee St. I would definitely pick up another.

(Look for “The Third Wheel” beer review to be a weekly feature on TwoInTally…which means Abe and Sara better keep up a little better with their blogging)