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Spring cleaning with a shovel in one hand and a beer in the other

With the maple seedlings popping up in the yard, and the not-so-pleasant odor coming from our chicken yard, I knew it was time to start some spring cleaning.

I love this time of year with the trillium, Dutchman’s breeches, Jack-in-the-pulpits, and our one apple tree starting to bloom in the backyard. And with such great weather last Sunday, we spent most of the day in the backyard.

In honor of spring cleaning, I am giving away a few bars of The Soapy Gnome’s Beer and Spice soap. Jenny Frech usually makes this soap with Bell’s Two Hearted ale, but recently changed things up by using Founders Dirty Bastard.

Send me an email at with “spring cleaning” in the subject line and the first three people I hear from will win a free bar. Winners will be able to pick up their soap at The Soapy Gnome (111B E. Lincoln Ave., Goshen).

Making soap with beer is not new for Jenny Frech. She has been using beer from Goshen Brewing Company and South Bend Brew Werks, and collaborations with other local breweries are in the works.

Just yesterday, she picked up some Goshen Brewing Co. coffee brown ale, kolsch, and scotch ale, and today will add some IPA and pale ale. These beers will be used to make six-packs of handcrafted Goshen Brew Co. soaps that will be available by June 1, and they will be scented with complementary scents.

According to Jenny, “Beer soaps are great because the sugars in the beer make a bubbly lather and hops are wonderful for skin and hair.”

Step one of the process always makes her husband sad, especially when she uses one of his favorites. She has to boil the beer to get the carbonation out before she can soap with it.

Last Saturday was not a good day to be doing outside spring cleaning. For me, this meant organizing a bit of my beer cellar, instead. Over time, bottles get moved around and lost, and I had the good fortune of coming across some bottles that I had forgotten about.  

One of these was a bottle that I purchased not too long ago. While spending New Year’s in South Carolina, I picked up a yummy bottle of Westbrook Brewing 4th anniversary ale (10 percent ABV) which was an imperial chocolate coconut almond imperial stout.  

This was an amazing beer and instead of all of those ingredients overpowering each other, they complemented each other very nicely. As would be expected, there was plenty of chocolate, coconut, nuttiness and roasted malt.

While working in the yard on Sunday, I enjoyed a Prairie Artisan Ales Prairie Christmas Bomb (imperial stout, 11.5 percent ABV). This is not exactly your typical yard work beer, and Christmas is long past. Usually I prefer to drink from a can while working in the yard, but Sunday I exchanged my can for a glass.

This is the base beer from Prairie’s much sought-after bomb series brewed with Christmas spices. I’m usually not a huge fan of spices, but in this case, I thought they took a back seat to the big chocolate and vanilla flavors.

I did purchase the Christmas bomb locally and there just might be a few bottles lingering around the area. Westbrook unfortunately does not distribute this far north.

One last note. As I was doing some errands in Elkhart today, I decided to see if I could catch Brandon Stanley at New Paradigm Brewing. He was not in, but once again I was impressed with the tap list. Here are a few things that caught my attention:

  • Dark Horse Brewing Ollopa  single hopped version of Crooked Tree using Apollo hops, 6.5 percent ABV
  • Heavy Seas Brewing Crossbones IPA, 4.5 percent ABV
  • Heavy Seas Deep 6 Porter, 6.8 percent ABV
  • Burn ’Em Brewing Chocolate Daddy, chocolate wheat, 7 percent ABV
  • Burn ’Em Brewing Craisin’ Hell, Belgian style brown ale brewed with craisins and cranberry juice, 5.2 percent ABV
  • Three Floyds Rabbid Rabbit, saison, 7.4 percent ABV
  • Three Floyds Rear Lord Admiral, extra strong bitter, 6.4 percent ABV
  • Boulevard Saison Brett, 8.5 percent ABV
  • Bare Hands Bee Hop DIPA, double IPA, 9.6 percent ABV
  • Bare Hands Cascade Trip, pale ale brewed with Cascade hops, 5.5 percent ABV
  • Founders Rubaeus, 5.7 percent ABV
  • Lagunitas Undercover Cover Up, strong ale, 9.75 percent ABV
 For more Michiana craft beer news and commentary from Eric Strader, subscribe to the Hop Notes email newsletter.

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