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Archive for April, 2008

NEWS: World Beer Cup Winners Announced – U.S. Craft Brewers Lead

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THE 2008 champion Best Large Brewery In The World. Blue Moon, based in Golden, Colorado, is owned by Coors.
  Beers in 91 style categories took honors yesterday at the 2008 World Beer Cup championships, held in San Diego. Every two years, a highly-qualified panel of beer professionals selects winners in what has been called “the Olympics of beer competitions,” because it awards a gold, silver and bronze in each category. A World Beer Cup gold medal allows a brewery to say that its winning beer represents the best example of that beer style in the world. Craft beer has grown enormously over the past decade. In 1996, at the first World Beer Cup, held in Vail, Colorado, 250 breweries in 20 countries entered 600 beers. This year, 644 breweries from 58 countries and 45 U.S. states vied for awards, with 2,864 beers entered. While brewers from all major continents earned awards, the U.S. won 185 of the 268 style category awards and four of the five Champion Brewery/Brewer awards.
Judges from 21 countries worked in teams to conduct blind tasting evaluations of the beers. Of the 129 judges, professional brewers and brewing industry experts, 64% came from outside the U.S. Where is America’s award-winning craft beer coming from? California (35 medals), Colorado (22), Oregon (16), Illinois (9), New York (8) and Washington (8). Entries were received from 45 of the 50 U.S. states and Puerto Rico—everwhere except Alabama, New Hampshire, South Dakota, North Dakota and West Virginia.

Here are some of the top beers to look out for: The Lost Abbey beers, made by Port Brewing Company in San Marcos, California, is the 2008 Champion Brewery in the Small Brewing Category. The MidSize Brewing Company Champion is Privatbrauerei Hoepfner GmbH of Germany, maker of Hopefner Pilsner. And the Large Brewing Company champion is Blue Moon Brewing Company of Golden, Colorado, which is actually owned by Coors. A detailed analysis of the entries and awards can be found at WorldBeerCup.org.

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NEW PRODUCT: Starbucks Pike Place Roast Coffee

If you live in a major city, you’ve probably seen the ads for Starbucks new Pike Place Roast coffee…and perhaps you got a taste of the free coffee given out on April 10, the launch day. The name honors the location of the first Starbucks coffee emporium (way back in 1971) in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. The goal was to provide Starbucks customers with a signature, “every day” coffee. Starbucks offered different daily choices of its 25+ different blends and single origin coffees. But research showed that many patrons wanted the same taste every day.

Now, Pike Place Roast will be brewed from freshly-ground beans, every half hour. It’s an excellent blend: robust enough for serious coffee drinkers and moderate enough for moderates. After a week of enjoying a daily cup, we conclude that the company has done a great job of appeasing both camps.

  Starbucks Pike Place Roast
A blend to appeal to everyone…and to pair perfectly with coffee cake, cookies and chocolate-based foods.
Everyone will note that there’s a smoother finish and softer acidity in this arabica blend. Coffee geeks or super palates (take your position on the podium of your choice) will note nuances of cocoa and toasted nuts. While it’s a universal cup, the flavor notes pair well with foods that have chocolate, cinnamon or nuts (coffee cake, chocolate chip and other cookies, almond toffee, chocolates and chocolate desserts).

Equally as important as the flavor, IOHO, is that Pike Place Roast is the first of Starbucks’ coffees to bear a new mark symbolizing the company’s ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability, through an expanded relationship with Conservation International, an organization that works in 40 countries to protect plant and animal diversity. Coffee bearing the new mark is purchased from C.A.F.E. Practices-verified suppliers. In 2003, Conservation International and Starbucks joined forces again to design Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices, a set of environmentally-, socially- and economically-responsible coffee buying guidelines to support conservation and make a positive difference in the lives of farmers and their communities—similar to the goal of Fair Trade Certified practices (Fair Trade Certified is a trademark of Fairtrade Labeling Organizations (FLO), an international monitoring organization whose U.S. auditor is TransFair USA).

Free tastes are still being given out over the next two weeks across the country. Find an event near you at Starbucks.com. See more of our favorite javas in the Coffee Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.

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VIEWPOINT: Organic Prices Rice—So What!

USDA Certified Organic Logo
Buy organic and save the planet.
  Yesterday, a New York Times headline blared, “Sticker Shock in the Organic Aisles” (Section C, page 1). The newspaper questioned if the cost of organic food—which can be 20% to 100% higher than conventionally-produced food—is “prompting some consumers to question their devotion to food produced without pesticides, chemical fertilizers or antibiotics.” Obviously, those with budgetary constraints need to shepherd their dollars, but organics rarely end up in the shopping carts of such shoppers, much as they might like them. The article emphasizes the high cost of organics by citing $4.55 (on the high end) for a loaf of organic bread versus $3.79 for conventional bread, $4.99 versus $2.99 for a half gallon of milk and $6.39 versus $3.59 for a dozen eggs. This may be more of a rise than regular groceries are experiencing; but with the truly shocking rises in gasoline and real estate, to name just two items, is the increase in organic food a “shock?”
Even if your household consumes twice the amounts of the staples cited by the Times each week, the difference is $11—a blip for many of us who pay $4.50 for a daily cappuccino, have cocktails after work and/or buy imported water. In a country where many people spend so much money on recreational trips to the mall to buy extraneous apparel, beauty products and home accoutrements, it’s not a hardship to divert $50 a week to organic food. In fact, it’s an ethical choice. If each American ate 10% organic food, it would curtail greenhouse gas emissions that are the equivalent of taking two million cars off the roads each year. It would have been informative for the Times to offset quotes such as “The prices have gotten ridiculous” and “Man, $6.99 for a gallon of milk is pushing it,” with a couple of sentences explaining that many people who choose organic products do so to help save the environment. On Earth Day, April 22nd our Viewpoint will address this subject in depth. Here’s the New York Times article. Read more about organic issues and trends in the NutriNibbles section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.

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TODAY IN FOOD: It’s National Garlic Day

April 19th is National Garlic Day, and we’re celebrating with three of our favorite garlic products:

Garlic Pepper Jelly from Aloha From Oregon, a savory jelly that’s great on frankfurters and everything else (and a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week)

Garlic Aïoli from Restaurant Lulu, a garlic mayonnaise that’s perfect for for seafood, sandwiches or dipping those frites, (and another NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week), and

Garlic Valley Farms Garlic Juice, which jazzes up any dish (and wasn’t named a Top Pick Of The Week only because our Top Pick selections have always been a bit more glamorous than a spray-on garlic juice—but it’s amazing on salads, pizza, pasta, fish, eggs, anything)

Find more of our favorite jazzer-uppers in the Condiments Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.

  Garlic Valley Farms Garlic Juice
You won’t believe how good it is!
 

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NEW PRODUCT: Tumai Water

Tumai WaterYour purchase of Tumai Water helps people worldwide who have no safe drinking water.   Tumai Water is bottled at a spring in Alton, West Virginia. But proceeds from its sales help the neediest people all over the world. Tumai means “to hope for” in Swahili. Millions of Swahili speakers in Africa are among the estimated 1.1 to 1.3 billion people on the planet who lack basic clean, safe water. They are forced to drink parasite- and bacteria-polluted water that causes widespread disease and the death of an estimated 4,500 children per day. It’s easy to ignore these statistics in a country that spends $15 billion a year on bottled water, where virtually every citizen has access to a safe municipal water supply. Tumai Water is a new brand that wants to leverage America’s appetite for bottled water to return a portion of sales to projects that bring safe water to those people who so desperately need it. The mission is similar to that of Ethos Water, a spring water brand that is sold at Starbucks cafés throughout the country (it tastes similar to Ethos Water, too). Tumai Water currently lacks such a powerful distribution partner—but they will ship the water to your home or office by the case. If you are planning to buy water to give away at an event, or want to stock the shelves of your store with something that will inspire people who buy bottled water, the message on the bottle is powerful, and will earn you goodwill among those who receive one.
On the one hand, we want people to reduce their carbon footprint by learning to accept their local tap water (which can taste much better with the simple installation of a water filter). On the other hand, we know millions of Americans enjoy bottled water or insist upon the convenience. Let those bottled water purchases do good on this planet. Visit TumaiWater.com.

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