Last Leaf Maple Brown Ale & Pumpkin Spice Election Cookies

Starr Hill Last Leaf Maple Brown Ale & Pumpkin Spice Election Cookies – The beer is full of fall flavors without tasting like potpourri. It’s perfect for enjoying on a crisp fall evening around a fire pit with friends. The cookies have a hint of pleasant pumpkin spice flavor. Pairing the two was a definite success. Cheers! | AGlassAfterWork.com

Starr Hill Last Leaf Maple Brown Ale & Pumpkin Spice Election Cookies – The beer is full of fall flavors without tasting like potpourri. It’s perfect for enjoying on a crisp fall evening around a fire pit with friends. The cookies have a hint of pleasant pumpkin spice flavor. Pairing the two was a definite success. Cheers! | AGlassAfterWork.com

Pumpkin Spice Election Cookies – These cutout cookies have a hint of pleasant pumpkin spice flavor that create a fun fall cookie that’s a little different from the traditional taste. | AGlassAfterWork.com

Frosted Pumpkin Spice Election Day Cookies

Considering I live in Washington, DC and my day job involves work on federal policy and legislation, it’s should be no surprise I nerd out on events like Election Day or the State of the Union address.  Even with a campaign season that has given me a serious case of election fatigue like this one has, there is something exciting about waiting in line at the polling station and walking into that voting booth to make decisions about who will be the President of the United States, the DC House of Representatives Delegate, the Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for my Ward, et cetera.  Many people around the world fight for the right to vote, so I know how lucky I am that I have this luxury.

To celebrate Election Day, this past weekend seemed like the perfect time to break out my donkey and elephant cookie cutters. And, since it was this past weekend was also peak leaf-color season in DC, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to give the cookies a fall, pumpkin spice twist.  So, I woke up early on Sunday to get in my 6.5 mile run (Hubby and I are training for the New Orleans Half Marathon, which is the weekend of his birthday in February) before finishing the last of our weekend errands, opening up some hard-earned beer, and getting to work on my cookies.

Starr Hill Last Leaf Maple Brown Ale – The beer is full of fall flavors without tasting like potpourri. It’s perfect for enjoying on a crisp fall evening around a fire pit with friends. Rating: 4 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

Starr Hill Last Leaf Maple Brown Ale

The Starr Hill Last Leaf Maple Brown Ale (brewery) is an English Brown Ale brewed with Virginia maple syrup in…you guessed it, Virginia (Charlottesville, VA). The beer had a medium-to-dark brown color with about a half-inch of tan, foamy head. On the nose, there was maple syrup, nuts, and vanilla with a hint of something sweet (molasses, maybe?). In the mouth, there was maple syrup, vanilla, and molasses mixed with hints of toasted nuts, cinnamon, and allspice. The beer had a medium body.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this beer in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. This is a great fall beer…the type that is perfect for enjoying on a crisp fall evening around a fire pit with friends. The beer has almost a creamy smoothness, and the flavors scream fall without tasting like potpourri. There is the slightest touch of sweetness without being sticky or overbearing, so anyone who finds beer to be too bitter should give this one a try.

As for the cookies, they’re a work in progress. I love the idea of adding some flavor to the cutout cookies, so I’m going to continue to play with it. However, this recipe just didn’t have enough of a kick to fulfill my vision.

Overall, while the cookies weren’t as good as I hoped, the Last Leaf was delicious. In fact, the beer helped bring out the flavors in the pumpkin spice cookies that were missing when eating the cookies on the their own, so the pairing was a definite success.

Question of the Day: Did you vote today? If so, do you have something special to open up tonight?

Pumpkin Spice Election Day Cookies
Pumpkin Spice Election Cookies
Print Recipe
These cutout cookies have a hint of pleasant pumpkin spice flavor that create a fun fall cookie that’s a little different from the traditional taste.
Servings
6 dozen
Servings
6 dozen
Pumpkin Spice Election Day Cookies
Pumpkin Spice Election Cookies
Print Recipe
These cutout cookies have a hint of pleasant pumpkin spice flavor that create a fun fall cookie that’s a little different from the traditional taste.
Servings
6 dozen
Servings
6 dozen
Ingredients
Servings: dozen
Instructions
  1. In medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and all spice. Set aside.
  2. In mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth.
  3. Add sugars and beat until fluffy.
  4. Add eggs, vanilla, and pumpkin, and mix until combined.
  5. On low speed, add dry ingredients and mix the dry ingredients are mixed in, as some can settle at the bottom of the mixer. You may need to hand mix/kneed in some of the remaining flour.
  6. Divide the flour into 4 quarters and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 350F. Line cookie sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
  8. When dough has chilled, roll out onto lightly floured surface, and cut with cookie cutters, and placed on cookie sheets.
  9. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes depending on the size of the cookies.
  10. Let cookies set on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.
Recipe Notes

I use Sweetopia's royal icing recipe for frosting.

**Pumpkin Spice Cutout Cookie recipe was inspired by Glorious Eats, Bake at 350, and Sweet Pea’s Kitchen.**

 

Enjoying the Local Species

Blue Mountain Barrel House Local Species

Blue Mountain Barrel House Local Species

Blue Mountain Brewery is about 2 and a half hours away, so it’s definitely not a “DC Beer,” however, I still think of it as local. In fact, Blue Mountain Brewery makes quality craft brews, and while it’s taken me a little while to find my favorite of their beers, I have enjoyed the ones I’ve tasted so far.  So, admittedly, while I ended 6th Annual DC Beer Week  (August 17-24) with a non-DC beer, I did go with a “Local Species,” and it definitely hit the spot.

The Local Species (brewery, untappd) is a Belgian Pale Ale made by Blue Mountain Brewery in Nelson County, Virginia.  The beer was a dark, hazy, reddish-amber with an off-white, foamy head and a lot of lacing on the glass.  On the nose, there was toasty maltiness mixed with hints of red apple and caramel.  In the mouth, there is a maltiness and some grass mixed with the slightest hint of something sour, maybe sour grapefruit, and some toffee-like sweetness, probably from the bourbon barrel the beer was aged in. The beer had a nice body with a long, smooth finish with only a hint of hoppy bitterness.

Cork and closeup of Blue Mountain Barrel House Local SpeciesIs this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this beer in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.  At $11 for 750ml, this beer is easy to drink, food-friendly, and well-balanced.  Hubby and I have started the fall race season training, so I enjoyed the Local Species on a Sunday evening while recovering from one of my first longer training runs.  It was a great beer for putting up my feet, relaxing, and catching up on my Runner’s World and Vogue magazine reading.

Question of the Day: How far away is still local for you when it comes to buying local beer or wine?  For you, is buying local more about supporting small producers than it is about actually buying local (for example, is buying a Robert Mondavi wine when you’re in Napa still buying local)?

Price: $11 for a 750ml bottle
Purchased at Whole Foods Market
Overall: 4 Corks

Back to Business with the Downright Pilsner

After several crazy weeks of traveling, things finally started to get back to the normal busy pace towards the end of July.  On Wednesday, July 23, I spent most of my day in meetings or on conference calls while walking back and forth between the House and Senate sides of the Capitol.  I was trying to squeeze in last-minute meetings with Capitol Hill staffers because I had several policy issues pop-up as Members of Congress finished the last of the legislative work before heading back to their states and districts for the August recess.  It was one of those days that I thought was going to be quiet when it first started, but by the time the day ended, I was shocked to realize the day was over and I never even ate lunch.

I got home too late to make it to my yoga class, so I decided to go for a run to burn off the last of the day’s energy before dinner.  And, of course, part of that stress-relieving routine involves following that run with a cold beer.

Port City Brewing Company Downright Pilsner

Port City Brewing Company Downright Pilsner

The Downright Pilsner (brewery) is a German Pilsner from DC-Area Port City Brewing Company (actually located in Alexandria, Virginia).  The beer was a medium golden color with a white sudsy top.  On the nose, there was yeast mixed with hints of lemon and Granny Smith apples.  In the mouth, there were Cheerios, a dry grass, and hoppy-bitterness with a hint of something floral that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.  The beer was light-to-medium bodied.

Is it worth a glass after work? Sure…you won’t be drinking anything out of the ordinary, but you’ll have a decent, reliable glass.  At $1.99 for a single 12oz bottle or $11 for a 6-pack, this beer was refreshing, but it’s not a beer I would go searching out.  I prefer a little more flavor mixed in with the hoppy-bitterness.  Plus, there are other Port City beers, like the Derecho Common, that I enjoy a lot more.  At the same time, if the Downright Pilsner was being served somewhere, I wouldn’t say no to it either.

All in all, it felt fantastic to start the normal routine back up.  Honestly, I didn’t even realize how much I’d been missing it, and having the Port City Downright Pilsner hit the spot after a busy workday and a run in the hot weather.

Question of the Day: Are you a Pilsner drinker?  If so, do you have a few recommendations?

Ready for a Long Winter’s Nap

One thing to know about how Hubby and I run is that even though we both are usually training for the same race (in this case, the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Nation’s Capital Half Marathon), we don’t run together.  That is true in training and during races.  At a race, we’ll start at the finish line together, wish each other a good race, and then go our separate ways.  Hubby is much faster than I am, so he’s always at the finish line cheering me across it.  From there, we grab our water and banana, take some photos, and recap our race experiences.

When it comes to training, we both usually hit the treadmills, and running together on treadmills isn’t really fun.  Plus, honestly, I think there’s also an element of enjoying personal quiet timing.  We both run with music, but it’s also a chance to just be in our own heads and go.

11 miles on the treadmill doneA few Saturdays ago, we both had to get in an 11-mile training run, and we ended up actually hitting the treadmills at the same time.  I don’t know what it was about those 11 miles, but for me, the run was a slog from start to finish. Maybe the problem was the couple of previous runs, including my 10.5 mile run the week before, were good, solid runs.  Maybe the gym was a little too hot, so I was over-heating a little.  Or, maybe I just wasn’t feeling it, so it was a rough run.  Whatever it was, from mile 3 on, I was looking at the mileage counter thinking there was no way I was going to make 11 miles, and by mile 9, my 6 mintue:1minute run/walk intervals switch to 3:1 intervals.  Instead of being motivated by Hubby when he finished before me, I was green with envy, and I was sure that was going to be the end of the run, even though I hadn’t actually gone the full distance.  But, somehow, I struggled through, and the moment I saw I was at 11 miles, I dropped the speed down to the slowest walk I could do while still be upright.

Blue Mountain Barrel House Long Winter's Nap

Blue Mountain Barrel House Long Winter’s Nap

To say it was a bad run would be an understatement, but it was done.  I had just enough energy to drink my post-run protein smoothie, stretch, foam roll, shower, and open the beer I couldn’t stop thinking about from the moment I stumbled into the condo.

Long Winter’s Nap is a Maibock by Blue Mountain Barrel House, a division of Blue Mountain Brewery in Virginia (brewery).  The beer was a medium golden-amber that was almost honey-like with 1/4 inch of off-white, sudsy foam that lingered.  On the nose, there was a breadiness mixed with hints of grains, apples, and nail polish remover and a sweetness on the finish.  In the mouth, there was toffee, bread, and hints of apples and honey.  It had a medium body and some lacing.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.  At $13 for 750 ml, this beer was a slightly heavier, very smooth winter ale.  Usually I find that winter ales taste a little too much like I’m drinking beer that has been steeped in potpourri or that has had pine needles left to soak in it, but this winter ale didn’t have any of that.  There were hints of the season without it being a dominant characteristic, which is exactly what I like.

Blue Mountain Barrel House logo and corkAll in all, I’m not sure if it was the beer or the long run (or maybe a bit of both), but it definitely left me feeling ready for a long winter’s nap by the time I was done with it.  It paired nicely with the spinach and artichoke ravioli that Hubby made for dinner and was even better as I stretched out on the couch to watch a movie.  Without a doubt, it was the best part of my run!

Question of the Day:  What do you think of winter seasonal beers?  Do you have a favorite?

Price: $13 for a 750ml bottle
Purchased at Whole Foods Market
Overall: 3.5 Corks

Deliciousness in the Derecheo Common

Because I wanted to support a local small business that supports local brews, I did all of my shopping for DC Beer Week 2013 at Grateful Red Wine Shop in Clarendon.  There are number of local shops that support the craft beer scene and carry DC brews, and admittedly some have much larger beer selections, but I’ve always found the selections of wine at Grateful Red to be a little more unique and the staff to be the perfect mix of “in the background” so I can browse without feeling pressure and attentive when struggling with my selection.  And, that was what I was really looking for–staff that wasn’t going to make me feel intimidated when I asked made it clear that I wasn’t a beer expert.  The woman who helped me was very honest with her thoughts on which DC beers were most popular versus which ones tasted the best, as they aren’t necessarily the same.  Therefore, when she pointed me towards a limited edition the Port City Brewing Company beer, I didn’t even hesitate.

Port City Brewing Company Derecho Common

Port City Brewing Company Derecho Common

For those of you who aren’t in the DC Metro area, you may not be aware that on June 29, 2012, a fast-moving, severe thunderstorm system known as a derecho moved through the mid-Atlantic.  The storm’s hurricane-like winds knocked down hundreds of trees, leaving over 1 million DC-area residents without power during a record-breaking heat wave.  The Port City Brewing Company happened to be among this group, and they were afraid the beer in 6 of their fermentation tanks would spoil.  As it turned out, 5 of the tanks were fine.  The lager in the 6th tank, though, fermented at a high temperature.  Thankfully, Port City was able to turn this into beer into an unexpected surprise—a 60-barrel batch of California Common or “steam beer” that they named the Derecho Common.

The Port City Brewing Company Derecho Common (brewery) is a California Common that was brewed in Alexandria, Virginia.  The beer was a light, hazy goldish color with a 1-inch white foam head.  On the nose, there was some citrus and grass mixed with a bit of maltiness.  In the mouth, there was lemon zest mixed with toast and hints of spice.  The beer was light-to-medium bodied.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this beer in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At $2.47 for a 12oz bottle, I think this is a good everyday beer, particularly during the warmer weather.  I’ve only tasted one other California Common, and that’s Anchor Steam–the well-known “steam beer” that is often synonymous with California Common.  So, admittedly, my experience with the style is limited, but it has refreshing citrus notes, is fairly light, and goes down very easily.  In fact, it’s my favorite of the Port City beers that I’ve tried.  All in all, the Derecho Common is the perfect beer for hot summer afternoon by the pool or one of those warmer fall days where you’re outside tailgating with great friends and good food.

Question of the Day: Are you a California Common fan?  Which ones have you tried and loved?

Price: $2.47 for a 12oz. bottle
Purchased at Grateful Red Wine Shop
Overall: 4 Corks