Christmas Gift Review 3: Mr. Beer

I had almost forgotten about my last Christmas gift review, because it took about a month for my fiancé and I to prepare it. Technically this was a gift for him from me, but I assisted him and am reaping the benefits by getting to drink the beer!

This particular gift was something I knew he’d love. As a guy, he of course enjoys a good beer. A bunch of our friends brew their own beer, and he mentioned a few times how he’d like to try it, but was afraid of how involved it might be.

So, I set out to find him a reasonably priced and first timer friendly kit. I wound up getting him the Mr. Beer Deluxe Kit, which included two batches, and everything you would need to brew them.

Cleaning the equipment and actually making the mixture to pour in the jug was pretty easy. We decided to go with their American Lager first. It took us only about an hour to prepare and put the soon to be beer in it’s jug. The hardest part came next; waiting.

In terms of waiting, the kit recommends 2 weeks. A few friends suggested a lot longer, more like 4. So despite being anxious, we took their advice.

Once those two weeks were up, we had to bottle the brew and add sugar, then wait another 2 weeks. We did, and then per the recommendation of the kit’s fine print, we refrigerated it for a week as well.

When we finally got to crack one open, it had more if a cider rather than beer taste. However, the great thing about brewing your own beer is that the flavor is ever changing. So the next time we had some, it definitely tasted more like beer, and was pretty good for our first attempt!

It was definitely a lot easier than we both thought. Granted, this kit was pretty straight forward; open, mix, pour, repeat. Mr. Beer does sell everything separately, so you can defintely be as involved as you’d like. There are also tons of other sites that offer kits, that seem pretty promising.

We have one more mix from this particular kit, and after we make that, I think we’re going to branch out and try some different brands. The Brooklyn Brew Shop has some interesting flavors available, so I think that might be our next adventure.

If you’ve ever even had a thought about brewing your own beer, go for it! You just need about an hour or two to prepare it, and then have enough patience to wait for it to ferment and be drinkable. The Mr. Beer site offers a few different kit options, depending on how involved and how many brews you want to make.

A Foodie Christmas

This Christmas couldn’t have made it any more apparent how incredibly obsessed both my boyfriend and I are with food. This is a fact that I am more than okay with. I actually think there are some realms that our obsession is lacking, and I plan to make up for that in the coming year.

At any rate, the abundance of food related gifts were abundant this Christmas. I purchased a first-timer beer making kit for my boyfriend, from Mr. Beer. I’ve been told it’s an average beer making kit, and some of the more seasoned beer makers laughed at my purchase. Not knowing much (read: anything) about brewing beer, I thought it would be a good starter kit. For under $100 my boyfriend is going to get to brew two batches of beer!

As for me, my boyfriend got me two cookbooks. I’ve been pining over both, and apparently made comments about them every time I saw one. The first is a cupcake cookbook, 500 Cupcakes by Fergal Connolly. It boasts to be “the only cupcake compendium you’ll ever need.” I can’t disagree with that statement; not only does it have 500 recipes, it has a plethora of variations for each as well. I also received Hungry Girl’s 200 Under 200 book. This book details 200 recipes each under 200 calories! And let me tell you, there are some seriously impressive recipes in there; cupcakes, pizza, chips and dips, breakfast, desserts, shakes and smoothies… the list just goes on. I’m really looking forward to making them, since I’ve found a few of their recipes on the website and have been more than pleased with their outcome.

For both my boyfriend and I, we received quite a few appliances. One would think we were on a wedding registry! Together, we’ve stockpiled a giant George Foreman grill, a waffle maker, a four slice toaster, and a nice toaster/convection oven. We have so many appliances on our counter that we’re running out of space. While trying to make breakfast yesterday and running the toaster and microwave at the same time, I managed to short the circuit… whoops.

Not directly related to food making or consumption, but I also received a beautiful cupcake necklace on Christmas. When I unwrapped it, I thought it was a cupcake shaped keepsake box. Being inquisitive I opened it, to find a beautiful gold and diamond cupcake on an extremely thin gold chain. Nothing says “I love food” more than wearing a piece of food around your neck. Or, of course, simply writing it across your forehead.

Needless to say I’m starting to see great things in terms of food for 2010. This year really allowed me to delve into my foodie passion, and I hope to explore it more in 2010. Maybe I can even get a group together for more consistent foodie excursions!

I’ll be making Guinness with Bailey’s icing cupcakes for the New Year’s Eve bash I’ll be attending tomorrow, so look for a post in the near future about how they turned out!