60th birthdays are better with beer (and 18 pounds of beef).

This past weekend we celebrated my mom’s 60th birthday in Cleveland. (Are we done calling it Believeland since LeBron’s peaced? I like saying Believeland.) My parents moved to SLC, Utah this summer, so my dad decided to fly mom back to her hometown to celebrate the big 6-0. A major perk for those of us who have yet to relocate–my sister, aunt and uncle, and I drove up to join the party with the rest of the family. We know how to have a good time.

My mom is a beer connoisseur of sorts, and like many, she’s recently become interested in the microbreweries. I definitely got that gene. So, last week I sent an email recommending we go on a tour of Great Lakes Brewing Company in downtown Cleveland. I’d been to the brewpub before (great food), but wasn’t able to go on a tour. I figured this was my chance, and hoped mom would be interested. CHA-CHING. She was!

We had to rush through lunch in the brewpub in order to make our 1 o’clock tour, but it was worth it. Mom and I split a flight of the brewpub features. Aside from Christmas Ale, these are only available on-sight at the brewery:  The Wright Pils; The Stein Bock; Truth, Justice and the American Ale; Highlander Scottish Ale; and a Farmhouse Ale. Mom and Nicole favored The Wright Pils and the Farmhouse, which worked out perfectly as I fell in love with Truth, Justice and the American Ale. (No surprise there, seeing as I’m the girl who dreamt she had a Bell’s Two Hearted Ale tap in her house. GIVE ME HOPS!)

We finished our hurried lunch just in time, and hopped on the tour. Great Lakes is a very respectable company; they recycle whatever they can, even using vegetable oil to fuel their Fatty Wagon and one of their distribution trucks. This was my second microbrewery tour (the first being Bell’s Brewery). I didn’t notice too much variation in the general line-up of the tour:  check out some barley, smell some hops pellets, move into the really cold fermentation room (lagers take LONGER than ales), and then into packaging and distributing. The main difference for the GLBC tour was the tasting (yay!). The tasting featured their year-round beers, all of which I’d had before, but who can resist?

Naturally, we made our way back into the gift shop at the end of the tour. On the way in, mom asked me if I wanted some Christmas Ale for my birthday. I thought it was a rhetorical question, and left with two 6-packs AND a koozie. Who wants warm beer?

Now let’s get to that beef.

Mom ordered a prime rib roast from the deli she frequented before the move. My sister, Nicole, picked it up on her way to Believeland. Two humorous things happened at the deli. 1.) The owner, Greg, asked Nicole what we were celebrating. She told him it was mom’s 60th birthday, to which he replied, “She looks damn good for 60! She doesn’t look older than 40.” #momprops And 2.) Greg handed Nicole the bag with the beef. She lifted it by the handles, and as soon as she moved it off the counter, the handles ripped off the bag and we had 18 pounds of beef on the floor. Apparently the cows were big this year, because my mom asked for the smallest roast available to feed our party, and we had some extra:

Yes, that was the part we cut and put back in the freezer. Here’s the 10 pounds dad would cook for us:

Dammmmmmmmmmn that’s a lot of beef.

Nicole and I were commissioned to prepare the side dishes for this birthday feast. I was in charge of the potatoes, as usual. One year for Christmas, we made a new potato dish, and since that fateful holiday, my parents have referred to it as “Meg’s Potatoes.” Now, the problems is, my parents don’t seem to ever remember what’s actually in “Meg’s Potatoes,” and because I wasn’t part of the grocery run, I had to put a disclaimer out that these would not, in fact, be “Meg’s Potatoes.” (Truth be told, they’re actually Food & Wine’s Potatoes, but you should still make them. Now.) Here is the original recipe. I recommend using a shallot. Feel free to start with some garlic before sauteing the shallot. And it never takes as long as the recipe instructs. The point is, you should make these. Because if everything is better with bacon, it’s got to be better than better with fancy bacon.

As is customary with mom’s family, we rounded out the night with some (very) low-end gambling games. In my opinion, the highlight of the night came at this time, when mom declared that, “You lucky bitch!” would be her saying throughout the rest of the game-playing. Sorry mom, but I couldn’t resist sharing that bit!

All in all, a very successful weekend.

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