Drink and Know Things with “Hand of the Queen” Barleywine

I’m a sucker for licensed/themed food and drinks, and the Game of Thrones/Brewery Ommegang partnership is one of my faves. For the past five years, they’ve been making beers inspired by characters and events from Game of Thrones, and your viewing parties have never been the same.

Even though the show isn’t coming back for another year, Ommegang is still at it: they’re releasing the Royal Reserve Collection, a series of four new beers, in 2018. The first one is Hand of the Queen, a barleywine ale inspired by everyone’s favorite character, Tyrion Lannister.

HBO and Ommegang sent me a couple bottles to sample before it comes out, and I highly recommend you pick this up. The barleywine is bold, rich, and much smoother than I would have expected. Ommegang had this to say about the beer:

Brewed with a complex blend of specialty malts and carefully-selected old-world hops, Hand of the Queen is a rich, full-bodied version of a classic barleywine and comes in at 10.7% ABV. Malt forward and multifaceted, the beer balances the intense flavors of brandy-soaked raisins and dark fruit with the lighter notes of apricot. Hints of molasses and toffee are evident before a finish characterized by the classic yet distinctive barleywine alcoholic heat. Hand of the Queen, an old-world example of the style, attempts to balance these strong yet unruly opposing forces, much like the way Tyrion maintains the balance of power among his influential contemporaries in Westeros.

It’s the perfect drink to carry around with you while you make snarky comments about everyone else in your life. If you’d prefer to wait and enjoy the beer with the new season next year, grab a bottle now and cellar it. Barleywine can be aged like normal wine.

Hand of the Queen is available in stores in early April. The other three pieces of the Royal Reserve Collection will be released in July, October, and December. Are you going to collect them all? (I know I will!)

Blue Moon Cupcakes

Blue Moon 1

Another day, another cupcake. Am I right? It’s sure felt like that lately. Between birthdays and all of the hullabaloo (wow, what am I, 70?) surrounding the Seahawks these past couple weeks, I’ve been making a lot of cupcakes! For the big game, I made two different types: Beast Mode cupcakes with a fantastic recipe from Trophy Cupcakes, and Blue Moon Cupcakes.

Blue Moon 2

I thought beer and the Super Bowl went nicely together, and since our city has been celebrating “Blue Fridays” to show their spirit for the Seahawks, it seemed fitting to make a “Blue” cake. I started with a basic recipe from Brittany, Herself and altered it to make what you see here.

Blue Moon Cupcakes


  • Box of yellow cake mix
  • Oil (amount requested on the back of the cake mix box)
  • Eggs (amount requested on the back of the cake mix box)
  • 1 bottle of Blue Moon
  • 1 tsp orange extract


Preheat the oven per the cake box instructions. Line 24 cupcake cups with wrappers.

Place the cake mix, oil, eggs into a mixer. Look at the instructions on the cake box for water, but instead of water, use Blue Moon. (My recipe called for one cup.) Add the Blue Moon and orange extract to the mixer. Mix thoroughly.

Fill the cupcake wrappers 2/3 full with the cupcake batter.

Bake according to instructions on the back of the box, or until cupcakes are golden and a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean.

Let cupcakes cool on a baking rack while you prepare the frosting.

Blue Moon Frosting


  • 2 cups (4 sticks) of unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 4 cups of powdered sugar
  • 3 TBS Blue Moon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp orange extract
  • a pinch of salt


Place the butter in a mixer and mix until light, smooth, and fluffy.

Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, mixing in between each cup.

Using a spatula, scrape the sides and the mixer and mix again until butter and sugar are fully mixed.

Add the Blue Moon, vanilla extract, orange extract, and a pinch of salt and slowly mix until incorporated.

Mix at a higher speed for a couple minutes until frosting has an even consistency and appears light and fluffy.

Add more Blue Moon or orange extract to taste, mix thoroughly.

Using a large pastry tip, frost the cooled cupcakes. Top with sprinkles or the decoration of your choice.

(I dyed the frosting a light blue. If you’d like to add color, place a few drops of food coloring in at the same time as the other liquids. Mix thoroughly.)



Choose the Fourth Game of Thrones Beer


For those that may not be aware, HBO teams up withBrewery Ommegang to create Game of Thrones beers. They sell out super quick, and the third beer, Fire & Blood, is coming out at the end of March.

HBO, however, is already making plans for the fourth beer in the series, and they want your help. Visit the Game of Thrones Facebook page and vote for which of these Belgian beers should be made for the Fall:

1) Valar Morghulis – Dubbel – Valar Morghulis is an Old Valyrian saying closely associated with the desire for vengeance. Thus, a Belgian-style Dubbel was chosen to capture the sweetness of revenge as well as the dangerous consequences that come with it.

2) Hand of the King – Quadrupel – The responsibility of running a kingdom can only be matched by the complexity of a Belgian-style Quadrupel ale. Rich in flavor and dark in color, a Quad is the perfect companion for waging war, brokering peace, or enduring a Small Council meeting.

3) Seven Kingdoms – Tripel – The golden Tripel is the universally agreed pinnacle of Belgian brewing achievement, making it the perfect beer to represent the legacy of the Seven Kingdoms. Though supremely drinkable, the Tripel comes with a spicy character that represents the sordid events of the history of Westeros.

4) Khal – Quadrupel – The Dothraki people, like the Belgian-style Quad, are the strongest of the strong and Boldest of the bold. Quads rest atop the pyramid of Belgain beer because of their strength, so this style makes a fitting tribute to the men that rule the mighty Khalisars of Essos.

I’m voting for the Valar Morghulis myself. What are you voting for? (Vote soon, it’s only open for 2 days!)

Game of Thrones Party

GoT Party Collage

Game of Thrones comes back on Sunday…are you prepared?  If you haven’t planned a viewing party yet, it’s not too late! Here are some tips on how to throw a quick and killer party to accompany the premiere of season three:

  • Visit your grocery store and pick up some nice breads, cheeses, salami, olives, and figs to put together a great plate of snacks. The more rustic looking, the better! You’ll eat as the characters do and the foods will perfectly complement a nice beer or wine. If you have the time and are feeling adventurous, you can make your own bread and salami with recipes from The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook!
  • Speaking of beer and wine, make sure you pick up Ommegang brewery’s Iron Throne Blonde Ale, the official Game of Thrones beer. The ale is limited edition, so pick up a few if you find it! I found my bottle at Cost Plus World Market.
  • House pint glasses, shot glasses, and coasters will be an excellent piece of decor or party favor! You can find all of the house sigils and more Game of Throne goodies from Things From Another World.
  • Remember the Game of Thrones Arms Creator I posted about yesterday? Set up a station where your friends can create their own arms and print it out. Hang them up with clothespins during the party, and let them take it home with them as a souvenir after the event’s over.

What will you be doing for the premiere?

Game of Thrones Beer

Game of Thrones Beer

As a complete shock and surprise to EVERYONE, the world did not in fact end today. So now that we’re all still around, let me give you something to look forward to! In addition to new episodes of Game of Thrones in March, you’ll be able to sit down to watch them with a cold, themed beer.

HBO has teamed up with Ommegang, a brewery in upstate New York, to create Iron Throne Blonde Ale, which will be released around the same time as the new season.

According to sources, “Iron Throne is a blonde ale at 6.5% ABV and brewed with a robust amount of pils, honey, aroma malts and red wheat. Gentle hopping includes Styrian Golding and Hallertau, appropriately noble hops.”

…I’m already planning the party.

(While you wait for more info on the beer, make sure you grab your Game of Thrones steins so you’ll be all ready when it’s released!)

Geeky Beers at Cafe Mox

Dikla from Have Growler, Will Travel and I visited Cafe Mox to sample some geeky beers. Take a look!

The beers sampled were:

Want to find these and other unique beers? Check out these beer shops in Seattle! There are plenty, but these two are the ones I most often visit:

Do you have a favorite beer for your game nights? Which ones are you excited to try?

Pumpkin Beer Cupcakes

Fall doesn’t start for me until I enjoy my first pumpkin beer. This year, I connected with Dikla from Have Growler, Will Travel, and we created our own pumpkin beer tasting event. Naturally, that meant I needed to create some pumpkin beer cupcakes. These cupcakes are moist, dense, extremely pumpkiny, and very easy to make. The recipe is based on one from Snappy Gourmet, with a few changes.

Pumpkin Beer Cupcakes
1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 cup pumpkin ale (I used Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale)
2 eggs
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.

Spoon batter into cupcake liners until 2/3 full.

Bake cupcakes for 19-23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Cool completely.

Frost and decorate!

Pumpkin Spice-Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, cold
5 TBS unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tsps vanilla
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsps pumpkin spice (more or less as desired)

Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth.
Add in 1/3 of the powdered sugar at a time, mixing until smooth.
Add in pumpkin spice, mixing until fully blended.

This recipe will give you stiff frosting that is easily piped onto a cupcake. Cut a hole in the bottom corner of a plastic bag, and fill with the frosting. Frost cupcakes then top with a quick shake of pumpkin spice.

Beer Plus Cupcakes = Love

I just discovered the wonderful blog Sweet and Stout, that specializes in beer cupcakes. I’m thinking a beer-y cupcake may be the perfect thing for a nice Fall day.

The blog is also just a couple hundred dollars away from reaching their Kickstarter goal to sell their cupcakes locally in Spokane, WA. Help them out, if you feel so inclined, or just take a peek at their blog for delicious and unique cupcakes!

Grow Your Own Beer!

During the summer, it’s wonderful to offer your guests some ice cold libations–but do you really want to offer them another PBR?

How about you make your own beer? Home brewing has gained popularity, but you can take it one step further by growing your own beer garden. Grow barley, hops, and wheat and truly impress your guests!

Want to see a great example of a unique beer? Check out Nerd Approved’s Oatmeal, Coffee, Bacon Stout.

What would you call your signature beer?