Tag Archives: Back-to-School

Pub Date [3] – Fall

Pub Date

Hi, all! Welcome to back to our new feature called PUB DATE where Estelle from Rather Be Reading, Andi from Andi’s ABCs, and Maggie from Just a Couple More Pages and I all team up to pair books + beers in harmony! Each week, one of us will features a beer and a book of our choice, each with a different theme for that month!

This month’s theme: FALL

Well, fall is ALMOST upon us! Here in Illinois, the leaves are juuuuust starting to change colors and the temperatures literally just dropped yesterday which means my favorite season of the year is coming up! Fall wasn’t always my favorite but now I am in love. No more hot weather. Pumpkin flavored things. Cozy sweaters. All good things, people. All good things.

Fall is also a great time for beer, I think! I love the new flavors that feel just right with the cooler temperatures because summer is a great time to quench your thirst, but it’s hard to drink the heavier flavors and maltier drinks when it’s so warm outside!

I also feel like fall is a big homebrew season for us. I don’t think we ever planned that intentionally but I guess with summer usually involving vacations (or in last year’s case, moving into a house), we usually end up brewing and drinking some new beers in the fall. Homebrewing is something I had never done until I met Shane (who has been homebrewing since before it was legal for him to even drink his own beer) and I love how it’s become something that we do together. Whatever beer we brew is mostly his brain child since he has all of the knowledge and experience, but I’m starting to really understand the process and what exactly is involved to make a good-tasting beer. (Usually I just help out and do what he tells me when, or choose things based on his guidance haha.) I’m really enjoying learning more about it all each time we brew!
We’re pretty small-scale right now but eventually Shane wants to get into some big-time brewing with much nicer equipment (which we can’t splurge on at the moment) and a bigger space to brew (which we just don’t have) so each batch is about five gallons, give or take, but that usually lasts a pretty long time, even with big beer drinkers like us!

Since homebrewing always gives me a fall feeling for whatever reason, I wanted to feature our latest homebrew! We did a “practice run” because we want to brew some beer for our wedding, so this is what we came up with! It’s nothing fancy, really. We’ve tasted a lot of craft beers lately that are amazing and a lot that seem like they go overboard so we TRY to keep our homebrews fairly simple yet delicious to not overcomplicate things (and also don’t want to screw up the whole batch because that’s just a waste of time and money and excitement). This beer is just a “golden hop ale” as Shane calls it which essentially just means a golden ale with a nice hop flavor. I’ve grown a bit tired of IPAs at the moment because the hoppiness can get a bit overwhelming so I love that the taste is there but not overpowering. I’m really enjoying this new beer! It’s a nice, easy drinker and so far I’m neglecting the other beers in our fridge so I can keep drinking the homebrew.

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[The Raven Cycle and a homebrew in an Oktoberfest glass because that seemed appropriate]

For my book selection, I chose The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. Even though I read THE RAVEN BOYS in March and THE DREAM THIEVES almost immediately after BEA last year, for some reason these books just remind me of fall. (Maybe because TDT came out in September so that’s when there was more buzz?) I was going to say that the books take place in the fall, but they really don’t… So that doesn’t even make sense. I’m not even sure when BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE starts, but… I guess I’ll find out soon!

I’m planning on reading this gorgeous little ARC of BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE this fall (aka almost immediately) and I just feel like it’s a perfect fit with the change in the weather and the crisp, fall leaves. The feel of the books just carries a sort of fall feel. I always feel like light contemporaries are perfect for summer and there’s just a sort of feeling that makes me want to read The Raven Cycle on a chilly fall day with the wind blowing and leaves tumbling to the ground. (Though Maggie Stiefvater would no doubt be able to twist that phrase much more beautifully than I can!)

Who can really say why I relate these books to fall, but I do! If you haven’t started the series yet, BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE comes out October 21st so you still have time to catch up! For those of you who have read the series so far, do they scream fall to you, or is that just me??

Thanks for joining us for another edition of Pub Date! Missed any posts? You can catch up at any time on my blog page for the Pub Date Feature!


Recent Beers

Not a big beer drinker? Here’s a list of the other beers I’ve had recently and my current thoughts if you’re looking for a good place to start! 

  • Harvest Pumpkin Ale by Blue Moon. Pumpkin Beer // 5.50% ABV. Pumpkin beers are always a favorite in the fall, but I actually have yet to find one that really knocks my socks off. I fell in love with this one from Blue Moon at first, but the more I drink it, I wish there was a bit more flavor. It’s still a solid choice for a pumpkin beer, especially if you’re trying one for the first time, but I’m still in search of the best pumpkin beer out there! (Suggestions?)
  • Octoberfest by Sam Adams. Oktoberfest/Märzen // 5.30% ABV. Okay, I had my first Octoberfest a BIT early this year (It was August. Whoops.) and I had to take a break because it was still a bit too warm out for Octoberfest, but the temps just dropped and I’m ready to kick back with one tonight!
  • Cinnamon Horchata Ale by Blue Moon. Herbed/Spiced Beer // 5.50% ABV. I have seen SO many mixed reactions for this one already but honestly, it is exactly what it sounds like — a beer that tastes cinnamon-y and like horchata. Personally, I liked it (maybe tasting a bit more Christmas-y than fall?) but I can also understand why some people hated it! It’s a lot of flavor but I thought it was quite tasty. Tastes like a snickerdoodle but in beer form. Mmmm.
  • Apex Predator by Off Color Brewing. Saison // 6.50% ABV. Saisons aren’t necessarily a fall beer, but I tried this one recently at a local craft beer restaurant and it was SO delish. I’ve been getting really into saisons for whatever reason (must have been having some really good ones because I actually hate the one that Blue Moon has out in their sampler pack) and Apex Predator was quite tasty. Also a really nice, easy drinker but don’t have too many because they’ll catch up with you quickly!

** Beer styles and alcohol content from Beer Advocate **

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Pub Date [2] – Back to School

Pub Date

Hi, all! Welcome to back to our new feature called PUB DATE where Estelle from Rather Be Reading, Andi from Andi’s ABCs, and Maggie from Just a Couple More Pages and I all team up to pair books + beers in harmony! Each week, one of us will features a beer and a book of our choice, each with a different theme for that month!

This month’s theme: BACK TO SCHOOL

Last month, everyone else shared how they got into drinking beer. Being the first person up, I somehow didn’t think of this so I’m jumping on the bandwagon with our second go around!

I didn’t start out as a beer drinker. We usually drank vodka when we were going for alcoholic drinks (which, thanks to college, I can no longer stomach (not like that’s a bad thing)) and of course when we went to parties, we just drank whatever beer they had there… So, you know, generally crappy light beer (and we’re talking CRAPPY. And in, Icehouse). For a while, I really couldn’t stomach too much beer. We were a competitive group of friend so we were always playing drinking games at parties (oh, college) and it was hard to drink so much beer but you certainly cannot play those games with mixed drinks because you’ll die. Over time, I started getting used to the taste of beer and actually enjoying some of the nicer ones once I wasn’t drinking beer from a keg anymore. Every once in a while we got a nice beer for the apartment and when I lived with my sister after I graduated, we mostly drank wine. I didn’t really start drinking beer on a regular basis and really getting involved with it I guess until I met Shane!

For those of you who don’t know me as personally, Shane is my fiancé (we’ll be married in November!!) and he’s been into beer pretty much since he was a teenager. Not really in the sense that most teenagers are (drinking beer to get drunk) but he always liked the taste of it and even before he was 21, he was interested in home brewing. I had some beer knowledge before we met but it really took off once we started dating and drinking, making, and talking about beer became a hobby that both of us really enjoyed doing together. We always have a fridge stocked full of different craft beers and I’m always looking for new ones to try.  We’ve made quite a few homebrews by now and even plan on brewing some for our wedding! So that’s my personal story as to how I became a beer drinker!


I struggled a bit at first thinking of what beer I could tie in to a “back-to-school” theme because the first thing that popped into my head were all of the crappy light beers we drank in college. Umm. No thanks. I’m all for drinking a light beer every once in a while, but I’m never going back to the terrible ones we used to drink because they were cheap!

Then I got an idea. New Belgium (one of my favorite breweries) has a series called “Lips of Faith” which are basically small batch runs of some more specialized beers that also feature a variety of more unusual tastes — nothing too crazy, but not something you usually see in typical selection of craft beer six-packs. They come in 22oz bombers so you can grab one and share with a friend and if you don’t like it, you haven’t wasted a whole six-pack worth of beers to try something new.
Anyway… The point that I’m making here is that Shane heard a while back that some of the beers in the Lips of Faith series were concocted and brewed by Colorado State University students! (Ahhh, see the tie-in there?) Well, I tried to do the research to see if that was actually true and I couldn’t find a direct statement that says that… But I did find out that many CSU grads now work for New Belgium and the brewery actually takes on a lot of interns, most of which are from Colorado State as well as working with the microbiology department at the university for research programs (source). They also work closely with CSU regarding environmental studies since New Belgium constantly strives to be an environmentally-friendly facility (source). So I didn’t find anything that said CSU students had come up with the original Lips of Faith recipes, but New Belgium does work closely with the university on many other endeavors and if that’s not back to school, I don’t know what is!

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The Lips of Faith beer that I chose was called Yuzu. I wanted something that was still light and summery since it was still the beginning of August and even though the Lips of Faith beers tend to have a little heavier flavors than the normal flagship collections, Yuzu was still crisp and delicious. It’s a Berliner Weisse which is essentially a Berlin white beer. Berliner Weissbier is usually a more crisp and refreshing beer versus hoppy or heavy and has strong citrus notes, sometimes even tart. Yuzu was definitely all of the above! I didn’t really get too much tartness from it but the citrus notes were definitely apparent and the only heaviness I really felt from it was the higher alcohol content (8.00%) versus the actual flavor or mouth feel. Yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit so this was the perfect flavor to pair with a Berliner Weisse!

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It was a really hard choice to pick a book to pair with this beer (I honestly stood in front of my bookcase debating) and ultimately, I wanted it to be a book that matched the beer while still dealing with the “back-to-school” theme. Finally, I chose CONFESSIONS OF AN ALMOST GIRLFRIEND by Louise Rozett. When I first read CONFESSIONS OF AN ANGRY GIRL, the first in this YA contemporary series by Louise Rozett, I was pleasantly surprised. I was expecting it to be light and very campy, but it was incredibly realistic, serious, moving, and a book I really connected with in all the right ways.

Book one takes place during Rose’s freshman year of high school and features such a mature voice (but not unnaturally so) for a fourteen-year-old. Book two, CONFESSIONS OF AN ALMOST GIRLFRIEND, takes place during Rose’s sophomore year where she starts to work on her new “Rose 2.0”, coming back after everything that happened in book one. It was perfect for the “back-to-school” theme for Rose to come back as a sophomore, trying to change how she comes off to her classmates as well as really attempting to change a few things in her life for herself.

I also paired this book & beer because I felt like you could use the same words to describe both: light, bold, unique, sweet and sour. The Confessions series definitely has a serious tone and the books deal with some heavy things (death, war, bullying) but also some really great themes as well (first crush, love, family, friendship, bravery, self-confidence). The books are a great balance of the ups and the downs of not only teenage life but anyone’s life. I feel like not enough people have read these books and I highly recommend them! Definitely check out the first book, CONFESSIONS OF AN ANGRY GIRL if this sounds like something you’re looking for!

My Reviews
Confessions of an Angry Girl // Confessions of an Almost Girlfriend

Thanks for joining us for another edition of Pub Date! Missed any posts? You can catch up at any time on my blog page for the Pub Date Feature!


This Week’s Beers

Not a big beer drinker? Here’s a list of the other beers I’ve had recently and my current thoughts if you’re looking for a good place to start! 

  • BLUEBERRY LAGER from Sam Adams. Fruit Beer // 5.50% ABV. This beer is a part of the Sam Adams summer sampler pack which contains a pretty decent collection! I like the blueberry flavor a lot and it’s not too overpowering but not too subtle that it gets lost. I really enjoy this one and I always think fruit beers are a great place for non-beer drinkers to start!
  • WISCONSINITE from Lakefront Brewery. Hefeweizen // 4.20% ABV. This one was pretty good but a bit heavier than I normally like my Hefeweizens. I enjoy most of Lakefront’s beers but for some reason I can’t quite pinpoint, they’re not my favorite, but they’re all still pretty good brews!
  • GREEN LINE from Goose Island Brewery. American Pale Ale // 5.00% ABV. I’ve been falling out of love with pale ales recently… I think I drank too many pale ales and IPAs all at once when Shane and I started getting into them so I really haven’t been too into them lately… But Green Line is always a favorite with me. It’s an American Pale Ale, not an IPA, and it has a great crispness and always seems really fresh. Definitely a top contender in my book!
  • WHEACH from O’Fallon Brewery. Fruit Beer // 5.10% ABV. Wheach is a peach flavored wheat beer. Upon first taste, I was relieved it wasn’t too peachy because I was expecting peach overload! Then the more I drank it, the peachier it tasted. I’m not sure which way, but I psyched myself out somehow! Anyway, I drank a whole six pack (eventually, people. Not all in one night) and it was pretty good! It didn’t really taste like a “fresh” peach taste (a bit more… “canned”?) but a solid fruit beer and a fun one that reminds you of summer all year round!

** Beer styles and alcohol content from Beer Advocate **

Are you a beer fan? On the Untappd app? Add me as a friend!