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trying this blog thing again

i’ve owned this vanity URL for over a decade and never did anything with it, so here i am, doing something with it. i’m just getting started but so far it’s a blog where i’m writing mostly about my ongoing brain surgery recovery/health updates as well as my post-surgery/pandemic obsession of non-alcoholic beer. i hope to write about more. i guess we’ll see.

please use the category links if you only want to read a particular topic.

wellbeing hellraiser amber + surreal brewing 17 mile porter

i have a habit of compulsively checking the total wine app for non-alcoholic beer at my local metairie store, to see if they have added anything new, and yesterday i saw surreal brewing’s 17 mile porter and a few other new things pop up so i decided it was time to trek out to the burbs again to check it out. (i hadn’t been out there in many weeks.)

and sure enough, they did have the 17 mile porter in stock. the other things i’d seen on their app with “limited quantities” – ceria grainwave and wellbeing victory wheat, both beers i like a lot and would have bought – were not there and there wasn’t even a shelf tag for either of them so i realized those were probably just errors on the website. but i was able to snag a single of the 17 mile porter to test it out and picked up a 6 pack of wellbeing’s hellraiser amber, one of my favorites that i was out of at home, so it wasn’t a wasted trip at all.

(pic below is from last night after they’d gotten cold enough to enjoy. i think i realized it is probably my most “perfect” NA beer i’ve tried so far, the one that most closely mimics the experience of drinking an alcoholic beer and like those i enjoy drinking, as ambers are usually my favorite. i really wish i could go out to a bar and drink this somewhere in new orleans. so good!)

i also finally met the assistant manager of that total wine store who happens to be the NA beer buyer and was able to ask her to order ceria’s beers as well as a few other things. she gave me her card so i later emailed her a much longer list of craft NA brews i really want to try and that i’ve seen being carried at other total wine stores around the country. we’ll see if she can get any of them, as distribution down here really sucks for craft NA beer. but she seemed happy to look them up and try so i’m hopeful.

i am at my pet sit for the weekend and am just now cracking the 17 mile porter open while i enjoy some netflix with the pets. i didn’t really have high hopes for this one as i recognize (and from prior experience with their beers) that surreal is one of the “diet” NA beer companies, like partake and grüvi – their beers tend to be lighter, thinner and have much lower calorie and carb content than many of the other NA breweries. not that that is necessarily a bad thing, and i have liked some of those breweries’ beers, but i’m finding for my own palate, i prefer a fuller body and flavor experience than what i’ve tasted from them so far. but lots of folks in my NA beer facebook groups have raved about the 17 mile porter and i don’t have a lot of darker beers in my regular rotation so i was interested to try it.

it pours a very dark brown with a pretty good tan-colored head, though that dissipates fairly quickly. the first aroma i get is dark chocolate and a roasty nuttiness and a little coffee. it is as i suspected fairly thin but has a good mouthfeel nonetheless, due to tight uniform carbination. sadly i don’t taste as much of the chocolate and roastiness that i smelled. flavor is fairly subtle but it does go down easily with a dry finish. for 50 calories and 10g carbs, i’d say it’s pretty good. i like it a little better than grüvi‘s stout though i can’t quite put my finger on why. but they are definitely in the same general ballpark. i like this fine but probably won’t buy it again.

i think my search for my go-to dark beer continues. so far athletic’s all out stout is probably the one i like the most, in terms of non-coffee darks. there are several more on my wishlist to try though, so i’m holding out hope that the perfect NA dark beer for me exists.

six months!

i just realized that this past tuesday was my six month mark, post-surgery! woo hoo!

nothing really to report in terms of health updates. i continue to inch closer back to “normal” or whatever that was pre-surgery, mid-pandemic. no lingering effects from the second moderna shot, that i can tell – and i am fully vaccinated now! it has felt really wonderful to share a few hugs with other vaccinated friends. finally the year of no-human-physical-contact ends.

i am still taking only four dog walks each morning most days, but pet sitting is really picking up. this week i have another long weekend pet sit (a dog, two cats and two birds) and have several more bookings in may and june so far. i’m trying to be smart about it – spacing them out, not taking back-to-back bookings, so i have time to rest and reset in between. i know it seems like staying overnight with dogs and cats in other peoples’ houses should be a cush, fun job, and it definitely can be fun cuz i do love all the critters, but it can actually be quite stressful and physically demanding in my older age – all the extra dog walks, poop scooping, and running back and forth between clients homes and my own to feed my needy feline pair. and all the disrupted sleep, usually from pets who are confused being out of their regular schedule and without their owners. the bad sleep is just something i can’t absorb anymore without consequences the next day. i always joked that this business would have been a GREAT idea to have had in my 20s when i was younger and more resilient. but here i am, 53 and 10 years in business. i guess the challenge now is just to learn how to work smarter.

the other thing i realized is that if it’s been six months since i had surgery, it’s been almost seven since i’ve had any alcohol. (i stopped drinking a couple weeks before surgery, just to be in the best possible shape for such a traumatic physical experience.) it’s such a weird thing to realize, for me. i have been a beer drinking fool since i was 15. i don’t think i’ve ever gone more than a few days, maybe a week, without alcohol my whole life. i have never been an alcoholic or even considered myself to have a problem with alcohol, but if i’m honest i can certainly say i’ve abused alcohol on many occasions and definitely drank way too much, often. drinking is such a part of social life here, and as a shy, socially-awkward introvert i have often relied on alcohol as my social lubricant to get me through the anxiety of being around people. plus i do enjoy the relaxation and melting away of the world’s cares it provides short term.

as i have aged though, i think all that beer/alcohol finally caught up to me, because the last decade or so i’ve become acutely aware of how much my body punishes me the next day for imbibing. my body no longer likes alcohol. (maybe it never did but the after effects were easier to suffer through when i was younger.) i still enjoy the buzz it gives me, and i still love the taste of craft beer, but the headaches, the body fatigue and pain, and the risks of what further damage it is doing to my brain and other internal organs is no longer worth it to me. (i only recently realized the link between alcohol consumption and cancer!) i’m not saying i won’t ever drink alcohol again, but when i do, i hope it’s in much more moderation and maybe even only as a special treat. i can envision going back out to bars/restaurants with friends and having one of my favorite leaded beers and then switching to NA for the rest of the evening. that would seem a good compromise to me.

finding the deliciousness of the new wave of craft non-alcoholic beer has given me a whole new perspective on it too. i can drink this stuff and not crave an actual beer. it can represent to me much of what “having a beer” always did for me, and it still satisfies the taste element. no, it’s not the same – NA beer is always going to taste different than alcoholic beer – it’s different, but it’s still good. and interesting. and there’s variety, just like in the craft beer world. now if we could make it the norm for bars and restaurants in the US and NOLA specifically to be offering a selection of these on their menus next to the craft beer roster, then i would be a happy gal. (europe has been on this trend for years. you can pretty much find NA beer on tap in lots of pubs and there is a much wider variety of NA craft beer being produced. europeans understand that NA beer is not just for alcoholics; mindful drinking should be for everyone.)

the most surprising part to me of this NA adventure is how much i’m learning about beer! it’s not that i didn’t have some knowledge of the different styles and brewing techniques before – i’ve always been somewhat interested – but i think drinking without the alcohol makes me even more interested. (and writing about it now also contributes, i’m sure.) it makes me more adventurous in trying different styles and brands too. i have lately tapered off my wild buying sprees of new and different beers, choosing to stick with the ones i’ve really enjoyed the most, but there’s still plenty of NA brews on my must-try list and i’ll get around to them eventually. so stay tuned!

grüvi – stout

my first taste of this brew a week or more ago was a little disappointing, so i decided to give it a bit of time and try again before reviewing it. i am definitely finding that there is a lot of variation in how NA beers taste to me – sometimes that is a variation between batches or even cans or other issues with the actual beer, but other times i think it’s more about what other food or drink has recently been on my palate. so it’s good to not always trust my first opinion. i am having my second taste of it as i type this, accompanying my lunch of brazilian black beans. it’s a great pairing!

as a 45 calorie, 12 carb NA beer, it has the kind of mouthfeel and body you might expect. it’s a little thin, especially for something called a stout, but it’s not bad. i think the first time i had it the lack of sweetness took me by surprise – i’m kind of used to stouts being sweeter, and all of the NA stouts i’ve tried so far have been sweeter than this one. this beer has a mild nuttiness and a roasted, chocolate maltiness. definitely some coffee in there too. but i think the thing that sets it apart from other NA stouts and porters i’ve tried is its dry finish and very minimal carbonation.

i don’t really know what to compare it to as i can’t say i’ve ever had anything that tasted quite like this. and while i didn’t like it the first time, i like it ok this time around. i’m not sure i’d ever crave this or want to buy it again, but i will drink the other two in the 4 pack. and at some point down the road i might give some of grüvi’s other beers a shot. (i haven’t tried their lager or their pale ale. and the peach pie ale, currently out of stock, certainly intrigues me.)

national beer day + athletic winter whit

while it seems like every day of the year is national something day, today is actually national beer day in the US.

according to wikipedia, it commemorates the enactment of a law in 1933 which effectively was the beginning of the end of prohibition. (prohibition had been the law of the land since 1920.) the cullen-harrison act allowed for beer of up to 3.2% ABW (or 4.05% ABV) to be sold, and by december of that year the 18th amendment was repealed, ending prohibition.

needless to say, after reading about this earlier this morning, i’ve been dreaming about a beer all day. so i decided to accompany my late lunch/early dinner of some meat pies from my local middle eastern grocery and my first try at making hummus at home with a beer that’s been in the fridge for a while, athletic‘s pilot program winter whit, which was a limited release. i’m a little unclear if it’s the same as the wit’s peak witbier that is now for sale on their site; i got mine as part of a pilot program sample pack from NAbrews some months back. i had one when it first arrived and wasn’t very impressed so the others got shoved to the back of the fridge and i never ended up reviewing it. but this afternoon i had a hankering for something different, so here we are.

i’m enjoying it this time around with my meal. it poured a light golden yellow and had a bit of a foamy head which didn’t stick around long. the carbonation was weird, more soda-like than beer-like, so mouthfeel was a little off. it’s a bit malty and slightly sweet with some spiciness to it. maybe a little lemony? honestly, i drank it while eating and it went down so fast i forgot to really take a lot of notes! it has a fairly light body to it, went down smooth and paired well with my food.

though i liked it, i don’t know that i’d want to buy this again. i think i might have one more in the back of the fridge left over. this isn’t really a style i’m a huge fan of and wouldn’t normally buy, but i’m glad i got to try it.

i’ll be picking out a few different beers to take with me to the lakefront to gather with some friends to watch the sunset, as i continue to celebrate national beer day. i’m sure i’ll post a pic on instagram later. cheers!

atmos – kora double hop IPA

as i always do, i must preface this review with the disclaimer that i don’t typically like IPAs and didn’t ever drink them when i was drinking alcoholic beer, so i often don’t even understand the various styles of IPAs. i had to look up what “double hop” even meant.

(actually, i’m still not clear. is it double dry hopped? or double IPA? are those the same thing? i think it means double dry hopped, which means adding more hops post-fermentation in the hopes of making a more complex aroma/flavor profile. i think double IPA just means double the amount of hops, which i guess could mean either before/after fermentation.)

so take my opinion with a grain of salt if you are someone who really loves IPAs. i’m probably not the best judge.

but this was the latest round of the tastNA club where i get to sample new and hopefully interesting beers for free in return for an honest review. this is only the second round for me, with the big drop pale ale being the first one. (it was hoppy but i still liked it because it was balanced and smooth.) so i’m trying to approach this with an open mind to see what i think, but i will hope there will be future rounds of the tasteNA club that include other beer styles that aren’t IPAs or pale ales.

this hazy double hop IPA is from atmos brewing (formerly ethos brewing), an independent NA craft brewery based in hailey, idaho. it was sent to us reviewers fresh from the canning line, which is really nice. (there are a lot of discussions in the NA beer world about freshness, as without alcohol as a preservative, NA brews don’t have as long of a shelf life once canned. and IPAs specifically seem to lose the effects of the hops over time.)

it poured a nice golden yellow color, minimally hazy, and had a respectable head to it. it was definitely very aromatic – kinda floral, a little sweet fruity smelling, piney. (the info card that comes with the beer says it’s a combination of chinook, citra, mosaic and azacca hops.)

sadly for me, it smells better than it tastes. i don’t get the same complexity in the taste that i get in the aroma. i get a woody, piney, strongly bitter flavor that’s just kinda flat and for my palate is just hops overkill. like, it kills my taste buds immediately.

it has a light body to it, a little thin – mouthfeel is ok but i wouldn’t call it full-bodied. it goes down pretty easy and the flavor dissipates pretty quickly once it hits my throat, leaving not much of an aftertaste. but i think this pretty much encapsulates what i don’t like about IPAs in general – the strong hops just overpowers everything and leaves my taste buds unable to enjoy the experience.

i just think IPAs are not for me. maybe my palate is just not geared to appreciating the nuances of a beer like this. but if you are someone who really likes a 50 IBU IPA with four different kinds of hops, maybe you’d like this. but it is clearly a beer made with a lot of intention and care, so kudos to atmos for their dedication to the craft. maybe i need to try their golden ale!

grüvi – sour weisse

yes i broke down and tried a new brewery. gotta have something to write about! no, seriously, i’d been wanting to try grüvi for a while and kept hoping my total wine would start carrying it, but they haven’t. so yeah, back to mail order.

i’m not sure though what possessed me to order this particular beer. what i was really making the order for was their stout (review forthcoming) and i needed something else to make the order worth it, given shipping costs. though their golden lager gets a lot of accolades, i was worried it was just be boring to me; i don’t really drink just basic lager much. and i already have enough hoppy stuff in the fridge so i didn’t want the IPA or pale ale. and sadly the delicious-sounding peach pie ale was out of stock. the description of the sour weisse said “our take on the classic berliner weisse is tart, citrusy wheat beer,” which made it sound interesting. so sour weisse it was!

now that i’ve cracked one open and am sipping it, i don’t know if that is how i would describe this one. it is extremely light and crisp, which makes it not feel very much like a beer at all. though the ingredients listed are barley, oats, wheat, hops and yeast, i’m just really not tasting the grain at all. it is citrusy-tart, for sure, more lemony than anything else. it feels almost more seltzer-like than beer-like, in terms of mouthfeel and body. it is tasty, i will give them that. it will certainly be a lovely thing to drink on a spring or summer sunny day, perhaps with a squeeze of lime in it. but a “citrusy wheat beer” it is not, at least not to me.

i would put this 26 calorie, 5 carb “beer” in the same category as some of those from partake brewing – though honestly, the partake brews i’ve tried have more flavor. but for those who are really into cutting the calories and/or the carbs, this would be a great selection. i had mine with a greek salad and it was a great pairing. but i think i will have to be in a particular mood to want to drink this.

i did want to point out the excellent packaging with recyclable materials, which i greatly appreciate. i’ve had some boxes of beer show up with just a few layers of bubble wrap, which is both highly ineffective as a means of protecting the beer and also not readily recyclable. these paper options are much better and each 4pack was tightly wrapped and cushioned. so thanks for that, grüvi!

current faves

yes this is my fridge!

i’ve been doing this NA beer thing since november so have drunk a LOT of it by now – 33 different kinds, to be exact! (good thing NAs tend to have a lot fewer calories/carbs than regular beer!)

i thought maybe a top 10 list was in order. i am finding that my opinion of some of these brews changes over time and upon repeated consumption, perhaps differing greatly from my first impression. i’m making this list for my own purposes, to refer to when restocking once i drink through all that i already have. and of course, there’s still so much i have NOT sampled – this is just a “faves so far” list.

i’m offering these in no particular order. i like different beers for different reasons at different times and though i might really LOVE a particular beer, it might not be the style that i want to drink a lot of or often. or conversely, the beer i grab most often might not be the one i think is the absolute best beer, it’s just the easiest to drink or the one that fits more moods/situations. for right now, from all i have tasted, this would be my top 10:

  • rightside – citrus wheat
  • athletic – trailblazer (hoppy lager)
  • bravus – oatmeal stout
  • wellbeing – hellraiser dark amber
  • ceria – grainwave (belgian white)
  • athletic – all out stout
  • partake – pale
  • athletic – irish red
  • athletic – upside dawn (golden ale)
  • bravus – peanut butter stout

we’ll see how these hold up over time. i mean, the trailblazer and irish red are not always available, so that might limit my ability to keep drinking them. and i might break down and order some samples from some of the breweries i’ve yet to try, so next list might be totally different.

here’s my top current wants that i haven’t tried yet:

  • big drop – galactic extra dark (stout)
  • barrel brothers – dark sarcasm (porter)
  • untitled art – stout
  • deschutes – irish dark (they only ship to OR and DC so i won’t get this anytime soon but i still want to try it.)
  • surreal – 17 mile porter/pastry porter

there are a few others on the want list as new NAs keep appearing in the wild, but i’m pretty happy with what i’ve been able to sample so far. i sure hope when things return to more “normal” times that i can find some of this deliciousness on local bar/restaurant menus so i can stop stockpiling them at home – i only feel compelled to do so since they are all so hard to find. or maybe one (or more) of my local craft breweries will jump into the NA game. a girl can dream!

sam adams – just the haze

i really am obsessed, y’all. i don’t even drink IPAs and yet, due to all the reviews i’ve read about this one and all the PR hype from sam adams, i’ve been keeping an eye out for this one in my local grocery stores. and i just happened to stop in this morning after my first dog walk to buy some water cuz i was out. (it was sweaty today!) so i took a look – though i walked past it the first time cuz they just threw it in with all the regular beer, not with the other NAs – and it was there! $8.99 for a six pack at rouses downtown. (and no, i don’t usually shop at rouses anymore but due to my tight schedule and location this was the best option to stop to get water.)

so yeah. sam adams – you’re probably familiar with them. boston beer company. one of the biggest “craft” breweries in the US, or the craft-iest corporate brewery in the US? your pick. there’s been a lot of controversy in the craft beer world over sam adams and i don’t want to get into all that. i don’t usually drink their beer, not on any kind of principle – i just never found it all that compelling. but they were pretty much the beginning of the craft beer movement.

“just the haze” is the newest, most hyped NA brew this year so when i saw it i figured, why not? i don’t usually like IPAs (at least with alcoholic beers) but i’ve been finding i have more of a tolerance for the bitterness of hops in the NA brews i’ve tried so i thought, well maybe? it’s a “hazy, juicy” IPA – i actually never really knew what that meant since i don’t drink IPAs – but i’m learning it’s exactly what it sounds like. hazy, referring to the visual appearance of the beer, unfiltered, not crystal clear, like a lot of farmhouse ales i’ve enjoyed in the past. and juicy, meaning, duh, like it’s got juicy flavors and aromas.

what i didn’t realize about “just the haze” cuz i guess i blocked it out or just wasn’t paying attention when reading all those reviews is that one of the juices of the “juicy” is grapefruit. i really don’t like grapefruit! i have strong anti-grapefruit feelings and reactions. i don’t like the bitterness/tartness pucker factor. i prefer a sweeter citrus – orange, mandarine, satsuma. i can handle lemon and lime but grapefruit just puts me over the edge. so yeah. the predominant juiciness – though not the only – is grapefruit. (there’s also a lot of pineapple and kind of a lime and other tropical fruity thing going on – it’s quite complex – but the grapefruit kinda lingers on the back end after the initial sweeter pineapple and just screams at me. maybe it’s just me; maybe i’m just sensitive.)

i put a few in the fridge as soon as i got home from work but was worried they weren’t cold enough so i iced one down in the freezer for about 30-40 minutes while i cooked some dinner. that was almost too long, as when i poured it there was a little icy sludge starting to happen. so maybe that affected the taste some. i’ll revisit this review when i try the second one which didn’t go in the freezer.

my first taste surprised me… that there was so much going on and that the bitterness and sweetness both competed and harmonized at the same time. this brew is confusing to my palette! it’s quite light in body and taste, and smooth, still feels like a real beer in your mouth. i could see this being very thirst quenching on a hot day. it’s interesting to me.

what i don’t really notice much is an extreme hops bitterness i was expecting from something called an IPA. but it’s really much more subtle here, which upon more research i’m finding is a quality of juicy, hazy (or New England style) IPAs. which means “just the haze” is true to style. so maybe that’s why all the NA IPA heads are gushing over this beer, because it very well replicates an alcoholic juicy, hazy IPA.

for me the more subtle bitterness from multiple hops means i can tolerate it better, even with the grapefruit. i drank it with my dinner and it didn’t overwhelm it. i liked it enough to finish the whole thing and i will try another one before passing final judgement. but i might give away the rest of the six pack unless i have a very different experience, as i’m not sure given all my other options that i will want to reach for this beer over so many others. (i already have a few other citrus type beers that i like a lot more.) but i would probably be thrilled to find it as an option in a bar or restaurant that had limited NA options. so i’m glad i tried it to know what it’s like. and i learned something by trying it and doing the research – i learned what a hazy juicy IPA is!

(just for the record, according to sam adams’ site, this beer has an IBU of 35, which puts it in a moderate range though kinda low for an IPA. it has 98 calories per can, and it uses citra, mosaic, sabro, and cascade hops. the malts are listed as sam adams two-row pale malt blend, white wheat, golden naked oats.)

it’s still getting rolled out around the country (we JUST got it this week here in new orleans) but it will likely be THE most widely available craft NA IPA on the market since sam adams already has really wide distribution. i wouldn’t be surprised to eventually see this one on tap in the really devoted craft beer spaces as THE NA option. so maybe this beer will help sam adams get its groove back in the craft beer arena? we shall see.

v is for vaccination

artwork by Thomas Wimberly

this isn’t a health update regarding my brain surgery, but it is a health update nonetheless. and it does seem important for me, given what i’ve been through with surgery and my lengthy recuperation, to have gotten the vaccine. i wanted to write down my experience with side effects for myself and also in case it’s helpful to anyone else. so here i am, updating.

i got my second dose of moderna on monday afternoon. my first dose a month ago was uneventful. i had a little bit of a sore arm a day after the shot and maybe a day of fatigue about a week afterwards. (though who knows, maybe it was unrelated?) but i’d heard the second shot of moderna in particular was really affecting people so i was a little worried, though nonetheless excited to be getting it over with.

so, the second shot. both times i got it in my left arm, my logic being that post-surgery, i can’t sleep on my left side cuz my head hurts when i put pressure on the surgery site – and i am a flip-flopper in the night – so i wanted to preserve my ability to sleep on my right side by not getting the shot in that arm. so left arm it was. just like the first time, my immediate reaction was just a sore arm, more of an annoyance than a problem.

i was vaccinated around 3:30pm. by evening, my arm was sore and i was feeling a little tired, but nothing else. i woke up the next morning thinking, hmm, this isn’t so bad. maybe i won’t have any big side effects. i went to work and for the first two dog walks of the morning, i felt ok. it was raining so i was distracted by all the ways the rain makes walking dogs difficult. but by the third walk, with the rain holding off, i was starting to notice my left ankle being very sore, hard to put weight on. i do have problems with my joints from time to time, but not usually that bad. by the 4th walk of the morning, my knees and hips were starting to really bother me too, and i was literally limping along. i was struggling. it was painful to finish that walk and to get in and out of the car. my whole pelvic region felt inflamed.

i came home, had a bowl of granola and almond milk for lunch, and realized every joint in my body was aflame. everything hurt, even when i wasn’t moving. lying on the futon on top of the electric blanket, like a giant heating pad, helped a little, but not a lot. i checked my temperature and i didn’t have a fever, but i was definitely feeling fatigued. by mid-afternoon i could barely keep my eyes open and had to go lie down in the bed. i ended up dozing most of the afternoon away, which was not such a bad way to pass a rainy, stormy afternoon. the cats were so concerned about me they snuggled in the bed with me.

i woke up right before it got dark because the cats were pestering me to feed them dinner. still achy, still fatigued, and now with a headache and chills. still no fever, though. fed the cats, warmed up and ate some pasta and sauce with veggies i’d made the day before, tried to watch a movie but couldn’t get though it because i just felt so awful and crawled back in bed. i didn’t end up taking anything because i’d read such conflicting reports online about whether it was OK to take ibuprofen or acetaminophen – i knew i wasn’t supposed to take it BEFORE getting the vaccine but still felt confused about whether it messed with the efficacy of the vaccine afterwards. so i decided to just tough it out and hopefully sleep it off.

slept all the way through the night and woke up this morning feeling much better. joint pain was gone, body aches, headache and chills gone. i felt like i had a little residual hangover type feeling, from what i’d been through the day before, but that quickly left as i got up and moved around, had coffee, ate breakfast. i worked today and had no problem walking dogs.

my only remaining symptom is that my arm is still sore at the injection site, though maybe a little less so, and just today it has started to also be red in the general area of the shot. but otherwise i feel fine. i guess my body did what it was supposed to do.

i signed up with the V-SAFE program to report my side effects; you should too if you have recently had shot one or two of any of the covid-19 vaccines. it helps the cdc and the vaccine makers learn more about how the vaccines are affecting people. if you feel your specific side effects were worth noting, you might also file a VAERS report. if your side effects made you seek medical help, your doctor or the facility are required to file one of those reports, but if you didn’t you can still do so. you can also use that site to access all their data and see what kinds of side effects people are having and reporting. it’s kind of fascinating

and that’s it. now i just have to wait two weeks to be fully vaccinated! yay!

and, just in, governor edwards announced this afternoon that as of next monday, the 29th, everyone in louisiana 16+ will be eligible for a covid-19 vaccine! (16+ for J&J, 18+ for pfizer or moderna.) so if you haven’t gotten your shot yet, now’s the time to make that appointment. and please encourage your family, your friends, neighbors, co-workers, everyone you know to get vaccinated as well. with europe going back on lockdown and numbers starting to rise in parts of the US, we are in a race against the virus to get folks vaccinated so we can get to herd immunity. let’s do this people!

ceria brewing – grainwave

i’ve been wanting to try this beer pretty much since i started this NA adventure. i kept wanting/expecting to find it at either whole foods or total wine because both chains carry the beer in other parts of the country. but so far i’ve been unsuccessful in getting either to order it here. or maybe it’s just that it’s not distributed in these parts yet, not sure.

so i finally broke down and ordered online via amazon, which is how they sell direct to consumers. $15 for a six pack seems pricey until you think about the shipping being included and then it doesn’t seem so bad. (no it’s not a prime item – i ordered it on saturday and it arrived on thursday via UPS.) the twelve-pack price of $29.99 is just a tad higher than what many NA craft breweries are doing with their two six-packs = free shipping offers, with most of them charging $12.99 per six-pack. but when you consider the higher costs of brewing non-alcoholic craft beer with quality ingredients, it’s still a decent price.

ceria (rhymes with area) was co-founded in 2018 by keith villa – best known as the creator and brewmaster behind the popular craft brew blue moon – and his wife jodi villa, who is the CEO of ceria. after retiring from a highly respected 32-year career at coors, villa decided to take on the challenge of making an equally compelling high quality non-alcoholic craft beer to serve as the basis of their new THC and CBD-infused brews. (the company is based in colorado where all things cannabis are legal.) so ceria sells their grainwave (the belgian-style white ale) and their indiewave IPA in both infused and non-infused, non-alcoholic versions. i obviously only have access to the non-alcoholic, non-infused varieties since i live in louisiana.

so how is it? i only ordered the grainwave because of my usual aversion to IPAs, though now that i’ve had one i’m kinda curious about what the IPA tastes like. but the grainwave is good! i’m a sucker for a blood orange beer. (one of my all-time alcoholic faves is my neighborhood brewery, second line brewing’s blood orange saison that is usually a staple of my summers.) grainwave’s nose and flavor heavily favor the blood orange peel and coriander combination, over an oaty belgian-style malted wheat and hops base. i’ve read a few other reviews that note it is under-carbonated and i kinda agree – it poured great with a large foamy head but felt flat by the time i got to the bottom of the glass. but it has a good medium body to it and i love the golden-orange color. it was quite refreshing.

i think i’ll have more to say as i make my way through this six pack. but it went well with my lunch of scrambled eggs and veggies and as a citrus wheat beer it definitely gives off summer vibes! (even though we are having an unseasonably chilly overcast day here in the low 50s.) i like it but not sure i like it enough to want to keep buying it to keep in regular rotation at home. i would definitely be happy to order this at a restaurant or bar, though. and we’ll see how i feel after a few more on different days.

also, i really appreciated the recyclable packaging and handwritten note that were included! very nice touch!