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Monday, November 26, 2018

Trader Joe's Sour Cranberry Ale

Just recently, the WG@TJ's team has looked at cranberry wrapped up in meatballscranberry goat cheese, and a turkey dinner with cranberry sauce. We're on a cranberry kick. 

So when selecting our beverage of choice to go with our Thanksgiving meal, we opted for this unique brew, which is certainly new to us. Not sure if it's new to Trader Joe's. 

It's still very novel for us to walk into a TJ's store and see a beer and wine section—this case, in Des Moines, Iowa. None of the Trader Joe's near us carried alcohol of any kind while we lived in the greater Philadelphia area. We're anxious to see what we've been missing out on.

This beer has a witbier base and a good bit of cranberry flavor—but make no mistake, this isn't a "girly" drink. It's an ale. That is, it's not sweet at all. It tastes like a traditional witbier, but with the sourness of cranberries. Witbiers tend to be naturally slightly sour anyway, so the cranberry gives it a double dose of mouth-puckering tartness. If you're not hoping for or expecting any sweetness, it works quite well.

Some of you might remember that Sonia and I decided to do a turkey-less Turkey Day this year... 

Unable to procure the turkey-less turkey on our last TJ's run, we simply opted for fish on Turkey-less Day, which was, to our surprise, available at Cracker Barrel on Thanksgiving Day. We did take-out and ate the meal with this crantastic beverage. We still had some traditional sides like mashed potatoes, corn, rolls, and green beans. This ale paired just fine with most of those foods, providing a sourness in between all our salty, buttery bites. 

As you can see in the picture, it poured with a very large head—no doubt enhanced by the fact we drove with the beverage for a hundred miles or so before opening. It's a pretty light red color, and it smells subtly like tart cran-wheat.

Apparently, there are other flavors of these sour ales available at some TJ's, including raspberry, which I'm now eager to try. These beers originate from a well-known brewery called Petrus—masters of the sour brew, from what I've gathered. The bottle runs $7.99, which is a bit steep for any beer, if you ask me. We splurged since it was a special occasion, but wouldn't make this a regular purchase. 5% ABV. If you're really into SOUR beverages, it's worth a try.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Trader Joe's Cocoa Peppermint Flavored Almond Creamer

Turkey's carved and packed up, leftovers stashed away in Tupperware, the belt is loosened and the shirt's a little bit snugger...means Thanksgiving has come and passed once more.

I love Thanksgiving. I'm lucky to have much to be thankful for. Sandy and I just marked nine years of marriage, with much more "really darn good" if not "pantheon" moments and not too many "blahhh" times. We have our girlies, who we love and whom I'm pretty convinced they're all smarter than me already. We have our extended family and good friends and a house that keeps standing and jobs that keep paying and cars that keep starting. Do we have it all? No, perhaps we're not that close, at least materialistically speaking. But we choose to fill our hearts with love and hands with gratitude.

It's all part of the reason that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday...and why I dislike it being trampled over by Christmas every single year. Kinda grinds my gears. Shops being open for Christmas shopping on Thanksgiving? Ugh. Nothing like trampling over someone for $30 off a blender the same day you're supposed to be thankful for what you have. Thanksgiving calls for peace of the soul, Christmas as celebrated secularly calls for not having enough...or for buying, buying, buying to prove your love for someone.

Sorry for long preamble, I blame the excess tryptophan flowing through my bloodstream right now. And what does this have to do with Trader Joe's Cocoa Peppermint Flavored Almond Creamer?

When I sat down to write this, I really was thinking of this dairyfree creamer in terms of it being a "Christmas" item. "Cocoa peppermint coffee creamer" just sounds inherently Christmassy, like it should be guzzled by lactose-intolerant Santas all across the land. But of course that's a little bit preposterous, it's more of a general winter/colder weather combo, but explains why even we've had it around for over a week, I'm just getting around to the review now. Save the Christmas stuff for after Thanksgiving, right?

It's a decent creamer, though. I poured some in my coffee the other morning and didn't immediately hate it, which is saying something as I usually just do mine black. There's a pleasant balance of mint and chocolate, without either being too overpowering or cloy or sickeningly sweet or anything. Also, there's a little bit of nuttiness too. It's a good flavor, and it didn't color my coffee too tan either. Sandy is a big fan, as she prefers alternate milks and creamers but usually doesn't like almond ones as they can be too thin and watery. "It's almost as creamy as regular cream," she said. I'd take her word for it.

So maybe instead of bah-humbugging too much, I can choose once again to be thankful, even for something small like a flavored coffee creamer that I'm not completely enamored with. It's good enough, vegan, dairyfree, at a good value ($1.99!), and represents a lot of what is right with Trader Joe's as a store. And I got to write about it for a blog I love and an audience I'm pretty fond of, too. Y'all are pretty great. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving and will have a fulfilling run through your holiday season ahead. Gonna need some coffee to keep ya going, it's not the worst idea to spill some of this creamer in at least every once in a while.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Cocoa Peppermint Flavored Almond Creamer: 7.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons 

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