Pie-baking, beer-drinking, and friend-making.

It just occurred to me that pie, beer, and friends go really well together. Like peas in a pod! Or pies in a pod? I don’t know.

Anyway, yesterday was a pretty great day. It started with yet another breakfast sandwich (gosh breakfast sandwiches are so delicious), and then I made pie!!

My friend Jonathan came over Saturday afternoon for some pie-making goodness. He, like most of my friends, knows that I am a top-notch pie baker, and he decided that I should teach him. He made an excellent decision. I love to teach people to bake things!

You may think that an excellent baker such as myself might want to keep my recipes secret, but you’d be wrong. Part of the reason I love baking so much is because I love sharing my baked treats with others. In fact, I’ve even gone as far to not even eat my goodies and just completely give them away. I’m nice like that.

So, in short, I believe in sharing the wealth. The wealth of baked deliciousness.

As per his request, we made a strawberry rhubarb pie. I didn’t get to have any because he was taking it to a league game that evening, but apparently it was a big hit (according to Jonathan, it won the day…yessss). Also it was pretty sexy-looking:

IMG951010(It kind of exploded…but whatever, you’re still jealous.)

Afterwards, I headed to The Noble Fir, a beer bar in Ballard, for their annual Fresh Hop Throwdown. During this event they pour only fresh hop beers from a variety of local and Northwest breweries, which is super fun because you can really only get fresh hop beers for a few weeks each year, usually late September through early November.

I ended up going alone, and it ended up being awesome. While there I tried 3 fantastic beers, and I made a new friend!

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The first beer I wanted to try was Fremont Brewing’s Cowiche Canyon Fresh Hop, which has actually been exploding my Twitter feed for a few weeks now. But, of course, even though I arrived an hour-and-a-half after they opened, they had already blown the keg. Fail.

So instead, I went with the Mosaic Belgian from pFriem Family Brewers. I had never had a pFriem brew before, but I’ve heard a lot of good talk on the beer blogs, so figured this was a good time to check them out. This one was a Belgian Pale Ale ringing in at 5.1% abv, and it was really quite good. It was light and summery with a fantastic nose (smelled super hoppy), but the hops weren’t at all overpowering in the taste, which I have found to happen sometimes with lighter fresh hop ales. This, however, was perfect. I could have drank a lot of these.

Beer #2 was SMaSHaSS, a 6.0% abv Pale Ale from Bainbridge Island Brewing (also, that name is sooo fun to say. SMaSHaSSssssssss….) This one was ranked 4th in the pre-event professional blind tasting, so suffice it to say I had rather high expectations. And it did not disappoint. It was a really light, drinkable beer that kept delivering new flavors with each sip, from citrus to flowers to hops to wheat. It was really quite lovely.

At this point, I was sitting at the bar next to a 60-something man named Kurt, who I had been chatting with for about half an hour. He was super friendly and told me all about his college years, his recent travels to Iceland, and suggested a really old bar in the neighborhood for me to check out next time. Basically, he was one of the better bar-friends I had made in a long time. Nothing better than some beer and good conversation.

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I knew I wanted one more beer before leaving, but I wanted to mix it up, so I asked the bartender what the most unusual one on tap was. He told me they had a fresh hop Imperial Pilsner, which sounded intriguing, so I went for it. For the first time, he asked if I wanted an 8oz or 13oz (i.e. normal) pour, and of course I said 13 before realizing that the beer is 8.0% abv. Oops.

Bridgeport Brewing’s Hop Harvest was the perfect way to end my beer-drinking, friend-chatting experience that evening. It didn’t taste like any pilsner I’ve ever had, and it was really delicious. It was almost sweet, and really complicated, so I’m having a hard time describing it. But if you ever get a chance to try it, you definitely should.

So yes, I may have gotten a tad drunk, and I may have made friends with an old man. And I may have gotten overly excited about the fact that Kendall Jones, author of the Washington Beer Blog, was sitting a few tables away. But you know what else I did? I had a great time, drank some good beer, and reinforced my belief that going to bars alone is actually super awesome.

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[Next time on Christina’s drinking adventures: I’m going to Dallas?! I need to find some cowboy boots stat.]

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