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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

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Archive for Beer & Hard Cider

TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Beer & Pumpkin Ale

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Even George Washington was a fan of
pumpkin beer. He brewed his own, of course.
Photo courtesy CraftBeer.com.

 

Thanks to Julia Herz of CraftBeer.com for today’s tip: Pick up some pumpkin beer or ale. In fact, have a pumpkin beer tasting for Halloween (with or without costumes), and bring it instead of wine to your Thanksgiving dinner hosts.

This seasonal brew is so well liked that in the month of October, it rivals the popularity of India Pale Ale (IPA), the top-selling craft beer style in the U.S.

The body is richer, thanks to the addition of actual pumpkin into the vat; and brewers typically add hints of pumpkin pie spices. The flavors can vary widely depending on whether the brewer uses fresh, frozen or canned pumpkin (or a related squash).

But pumpkin beer is no recent craft beer invention. It’s been made since the Pilgrims of Plymouth Rock Colony discovered pumpkins (indigenous to the Americas) and added them to their brews.

Why did they brew with pumpkin?

There were plenty of them. Since good malt was not readily accessible in the early days of the colonization of America, fermentable sugars had to come from elsewhere. In those early pumpkin beers, the flesh of the pumpkin took the place of malt. (Later, with dependable supplies of malt, both were used.)

Pumpkin beer remained a staple throughout the 18th century, but its popularity began to wane by the early 19th century as quality malts became accessible everywhere.

 

Fast forward 200-plus years to the Bay Area in the 1980s. The father of American micro-brewing, Bill Owens, read in a brewing book that George Washington added pumpkin to his mash. Owens thought it was an idea in need of resurrection. The result, Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale, is an amber-style ale based on Washington’s recipe (and a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week).

Although most pumpkin ale and beer are brewed with pumpkin and flavored with cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg, don’t expect pumpkin pie in a bottle. With most products, there’s no obvious pumpkin taste analogous to the pronounced flavors of fruit beers.

This season, retailers will sell some 400 pumpkin beers from craft brewers. You can put together a nice selection for a tasting party. Or, pick up a selection for your own personal enjoyment. Just a sampling of what you might find:

 

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Bring a six-pack or two to your Halloween or Thanksgiving host(s). Photo courtesy Buffalo Bill’s Brewery.

  • Boxcarr Pumpkin Porter | Starr Hill Brewery | Crozet, Virginia
  • Flat Jack Pumpkin Ale | Flat 12 Bierwerks | Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Gourd Shorts (pumpkin ale) | Florida Beer Co. | Cape Canaveral, Florida
  • Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale | Alltech Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company | Lexington, Kentucky
  • Mavericks Pumpkin Harvest Ale | Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. | Half Moon Bay, California
  • Oak Jacked (imperial pumpkin ale) | Uinta Brewing Co. | Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Potosi Stingy Jack Pumpkin Ale | Potosi Brewing Co. | Potosi, Wisconsin
  • Pumking | Southern Tier Brewing Co. | Lakewood, New York
  • Post Road Pumpkin Ale | Brooklyn Brewery | Brooklyn, New York
  • Pumpkin Ale | Blackstone Brewing Co. | Nashville, Tennessee
  • Pumpkin Ale | Buffalo Bill’s Brewery | Hayward, California
  • Pumpkin Ale | Rivertown Brewing Co. | Lockland, Ohio
  • Pumpkinfest | Terrapin Beer Co. | Athens, Georgia
  • Punkin Ale | Dogfish Brewery | Milton, Delaware
  • Roadsmary’s Baby (rum-aged pumpkin ale) | Two Roads Brewing Co. | Stratford, Connecticut
  • Rum Punk (Rum barrel-aged pumpkin beer) | Joseph James Brewing Co., Inc | Henderson, Nevada
  • Samhain Pumpkin Porter | DESTIHL Brewery | Bloomington, Illinois
  • Samuel Adams Fat Jack (double pumpkin ale) | Samuel Adams | Boston, Massachusetts
  • Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale | Smuttynose Brewing Co. | Hampton, New Hampshire
  • Wick for Brains Pumpkin Ale | Nebraska Brewing Co. | La Vista, Nevada
  • Witch’s Hair Pumpkin Ale | Twisted Manzanita Ales & Spirits | East County San Diego, California

 
KNOW YOUR BEER TYPES

Check out the different types of beer in our Beer Glossary.

  

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FOOD 101: What Are Hops?

September 28th is Drink Beer Day. Only a few ingredients are needed to make beer; typically, barley malt, unmalted grain, hops, yeast and water.

We were explaining to a friend that our favorite beers are heavily hopped IPAs. “What exactly are hops?” he asked.

We turned to Samuel Adams, the pioneering craft beer brewer, and to USA Hops, a nonprofit organization of growers, for an education.

A hop is a flower that looks like a soft, green pine cone. It grows on a long vine. The flowers are almost exclusively used as a brewing spice in the production of beer.

But what’s important to the brewer is not the whole flower or the petals, but the lupulin glands inside, which contain a golden resin. This resin is the depository of the alpha acids necessary for the hops to impart their signature bitterness and flavor to the beer. It also acts as a natural preservative.

 

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Hops on the vine. Photo courtesy Wikimedia.

 
In mass brews, hops lend bitterness and not a lot more. But craft brewers select very specific types of premium hops, for their special aromatic flavor qualities over their bittering value. Aroma hops, as they are known, have lower alpha acid levels and produce an array of complex flavors and aromas—from citrus and fruit to pine and eucalyptus.

Like any agricultural product, the unique conditions of soil, moisture, elevation and sunlight of the particular field have a direct impact on the quality and character of the hops. Hop varieties grown in their original regions will impart different flavors when grown elsewhere. The “hop belt,” where the most flavorful hops thrive, falls along the 48th parallel.

Each region’s hop varieties impart different flavors, from the aromatic piney notes in German hops to earthy ale hops in England and the citrus brightness of American hops.

SOME HOPS HISTORY

The oldest hop growing region in the world is located in Bavaria, a temperate region in southeast Germany, just west of the Alps (Munich is the capital). The local Noble aroma hops varieties, low in bitterness and high in aroma, are prized worldwide.

The earliest beers weren’t made with hops. The earliest mention of hop growing dates only to 1000-1200 C.E. in Germany. Prior to hops, other bittering agents, from juniper to roots and pine, were used. None could create the layers of flavor that hops impart, and it was a lucky day when the first brewer tossed those green flowers into the brewing vat.

  

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TIP OF THE DAY: Try Cider Instead Of Beer

Instead of beer, try hard cider. It’s a natural for quaffing or food pairing, and replaces the flavors of malt and hops with apple or pear (cider made with pears is called perry).

First, the difference between hard cider and fresh cider.

  • Hard cider is a fermented alcoholic beverage made from the unfiltered juice of apples. The alcohol content varies from a low 1.2% ABV* to 8.5% or higher—some imported ciders can be up to 12% ABV, an average level for table wines.
  • Fresh apple cider is raw apple juice, typically unfiltered. Thus, it is cloudy from the remnants of apple pulp. It is also typically more flavorful than apple juice—although of course, the particular blend of apples used in either has a big impact on the taste.
  • Apple juice has been filtered to remove pulp solids, then pasteurized for longer shelf life.
  •  
    *ABV is alcohol by volume. It is doubled to get the proof. For example, a 40% ABV spirit is 80 proof.

     

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    Classic Crispin. Photo courtesy Crispin Cider Company.

     
    While it may not seem so today, America has a history of hard cider. The English who originally settled the country brought their love of cider, and America was a hard cider country until the 19th century.

    Then, waves of German immigration brought the lager makers, and soon enough more Americans were lifting steins of beer instead.

    Prohibition dealt hard cider a final blow from which it is just now making a comeback, with impressive annual growth figures. Aiding the effort is Boston Beer Company, makers of Samuel Adams beer and the Angry Orchard cider brand.

    Since Prohibition, “cider” in the U.S. has referred to the unfermented, unpasteurized apple juice; with “hard cider” used to indicate the alcoholic beverage. In the U.K. it is the opposite, with “cider” indicating the alcoholic drink for which special cider apples are used.

    CIDER VERSUS BEER

    Cider is a gluten-free option; beer is made from gluten-rich grains. However, beer is sugar-free, while cider can be quite high in sugar.

  • Crispin, one of our favorite brands, has 15 grams (three teaspoons) of sugar per serving. Angry Orchard’s Crisp Apple jumps to 23 grams (7 teaspoons of sugar).
  • Dryer ciders contain less sugar and carbs, and a higher alcohol content because the yeast have been allowed to consume the majority of the natural sugars and convert them to alcohol.
  •  
    Comparatively, the calories in beer versus hard are similar higher; but cider is higher in carbohydrates due to the higher levels of sugar.

     

    angry-orchard-cinnful-6pack-230

    Angry Orchard’s Cinnful Apple has a touch of
    cinnamon. Photo courtesy Boston Brewing
    Company.

     

    CIDER APPLES ARE DIFFERENT

    Cider can be made from any variety of apple, but the better ciders are typically blends of culinary apples—the kinds we eat—and cider apples, which are not palatable to humans. Cider makers balance the flavors of different apples and different proportions to produce their blends.

  • Culinary apples are fruits with a juicy, luscious apple character. The varieties used contribute sweetness as well as a bright acidity, which provides part of the crisp, refreshing backbone. Examples include Braeburn, Elstar, Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Jonagold and Red Delicious.
  • Bittersweet apples are grown solely for making cider. These apples provide more complexity and wine-like characteristics to a cider, like grapes do to a wine, imparting aroma and contributing to the color. They also provide acidity, tannins that impact mouth feel, astringency, and real fruity cider notes. Bittersweet apples in the blend are often unfamiliar to us. For example, Angry Orchard uses French varieties called Amere de Berthecourt, Beden, Binet Rouge, Brairtot Fuji, Medaille d’or and Michelin.
  •  

    CIDER HISTORY

    In the days before refrigeration, fresh juice would spoil quickly. The only option to preserve it was to ferment it into cider; the alcohol acts as a preservative.

    Man has fermented fruit into alcohol since prehistory. But apple cider was raised to an art in France and the U.K. Apple trees were plentiful in both areas. The Romans, arriving in force in Britain in 43 C.E., introduced apple cultivation.

    But it was another group of invaders, the Normans, who improved cider making, following their conquest of England in 1066. Apple juice had been fermented into an alcoholic drink earlier in English history, under the Anglo-Saxons. The Normans (from Normandy, France), improved the drink by using cider-specific apples.

    The beverage grew in popularity, new varieties of apples were introduced, and cider began to replace wine (the English climate favors apples over grapes). Every farm grew cider apple trees as well as culinary apples, and in the 18th century it became customary to pay part of a farm laborer’s wage in cider.

    How did cider get its name? The English word “cider” comes from the Old French sidre, which in turn was adapted from medieval Latin sicera, based on the Greek sikera, from the Hebrew shekar, meaning “strong drink.” What we call fresh cider (not fermented) was known as ciderkin or water-cider.
     

    It’s time to have a glass!

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Seasonal Cider

    Angry-orchard-elderflower-carton-230

    Get it before it disappears from the shelves.
    Photo courtesy Angry Orchard Cider
    Company.

     

    This may well be your last weekend to pick up seasonal summer hard ciders, before producers replace them with fall blends.

    We received a shipment of Angry Orchard Elderflower Hard Cider, and have been saving it to serve this weekend.

    Elderflower is a flower that in homeopathy as well as in cooking. The white berries are used to flavor jam and other cooked fruit; the tiny white flower blossoms are distilled into liqueur (elderflower cordial was enjoyed in ancient Rome), which in turn can be added to recipes.

    We love the flavor of elderflower, which reminds us of lychee. St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur is a favorite that we like to serve to guests, especially mixed with sparkling wine.

    Now, for the first time, elderflower been added to cider, by Angry Orchard.
     
    *ABV means alcohol by volume.

     
    The cider is made with a combination of domestic bittersweet and culinary apples†. The apples are shredded and the pulp is pressed into juice. Wine yeast is added and the juice is fermented, then wood aged. Elderflower and other natural flavors are added before bottling.

    The finished product is pale yellow and 5% ABV*. Open the bottle and an apple aroma wafts up, along with elderflower floral.

    Light and refreshing, the flavors of crisp apple marry with the elderflower to produce semi-dry sweetness with a bit of tartness. The cider pairs nicely with smoked salmon, braised pork and a fresh berry dessert.

    You can also mix it into cocktails. Here are two from Hayley Jensen, a mixologist at Taproom No. 307 in New York City,

     
    †Bittersweet apples are not edible, but do very nicely when fermented into cider. Culinary apples are the varieties we eat.

     

    RECIPE: ORCHARD SPRITZER

    This drink is versatile: You can kick it up a notch with two ounces of any white liquor: cachaça, gin, rum, tequila or vodka.

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 4 ounces lychee juice/purée
  • 4 ounces Angry Orchard Elderflower Cider
  • Optional: 2 shots white spirit
  • Ice cubes
  •  
    Preparation

    1. POUR both over ice into a pint glass. Stir and serve.
     
    RECIPE: ANGRY ELDERBERRY MOJITO

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 4 blueberries
  • 4 mint leaves, plus more for optional garnish
  • Ice cubes
  • 1 ounce white rum
  • 6 ounces (1/2 bottle) Angry Orchard Elderflower Cider
  • 4 slices strawberry
  •  

    rosy-cooler-cocktail-230

    Mix up a beertail or a cocktail. Photo courtesy Angry Orchard Cider Company.

     

    Preparation

    1. MUDDLE berries and mint in a pint glass. Fill glass with ice. Add rum and cider.

    2. POUR into mixing cup and stir. Pour back into pint glass and garnish with strawberry and mint leaves.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Fruit Beer

    lindemans-pomme-lambic-230

    Not hard cider, but apple (pomme) lambic, a
    style of Belgian beer. Photo courtesy
    Lindemans.

     

    For a country so keen on fruity cocktails, we don’t drink much fruit beer. But summer is the perfect time for it, so plan to have a few before Labor Day.

    Fruit beers have been popular for centuries, beginning in Belgium, the country best known for them. Creative brewers there ignored the German Rheinheitsgebot, the “purity law” which specified that beer could only be made with three ingredients: barley, hops and water. (The law dates back to 1516; at the time no one knew that the yeast in the air was involved in the process. Yeast is, of course, the fourth ingredient.)

    Belgian lambic styles are produced in popular flavors like cherry (kriek), peach and raspberry. Traditionally, the fruit was fermented with the grain. Modern breweries may use flavored extracts as a shortcut to the finished product (and, not surprisingly, they don’t taste nearly as good). Check the label or online to find those brewed with real fruit.

    Today you can also find fruit beers in apple, apricot, banana, black currant, blueberry, strawberry and tangerine. But look for craft brews, as opposed to Bud Light’s Ritas line, flavored beers in Lime, Mango, Strawberry and Raspberry. They’re a different product entirely.

    Head to your best beer store and pull together a tasting of fruit beers, both domestic and imported. You may be able to find such tasty brews as:

  • Éphémère Blackcurrant Fruit Beer from Unibroue of Chambly, Quebec, Canada
  • Lindemans Pomme [Apple] Lambic, from Brouwerij Lindemans in Vlezenbeek, Belgium
  • #9 Not Quite Pale Ale, an apricot fruit beer from Magic Hat Brewing Company of South Burlington, Vermont
  • Peach Porch Lounger, a saison-style (farmhouse ale) beer from New Belgium Brewing of Fort Collins, Colorado
  • Raspberry Redemption Belgian-Style Dubbel, from Joseph James Brewing Company in Henderson, Nevada
  • Samuel Smith Organic Strawberry Fruit Beer, from Melbourn Brothers All Saints Brewery of Stamford, Lincolnshire, England
  • Smashed Blueberry Fruit Beer, from Shipyard Brewing Company of Portland, Maine
  • Tangerine Wheat Fruit Beer, from Lost Coast Brewery in Eureka, California
  • Three Philosophers Quadruple, from Brewery Ommegang of Cooperstown, New York
  • Wells Banana Bread English Bitter/Fruit Beer, from Wells & Young’s Brewing Company of Bedford, England
  •  
    HOW TO SERVE FRUIT BEER

    Fruit beers can quaffed as a refreshing cold drink, or paired with foods for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. Consider:

  • Asian chicken salad
  • Brunch eggs, from a simple frittata to Eggs Benedict
  • Cheese courses
  • Chicken, duck or pork dishes made with fruits (apples, apricots, cherries, currants, prunes, etc.)
  • Dessert—fruit desserts, including pies and tarts; and of course, Belgian waffles
  • Shellfish—crab, lobster, plat de mer, scallops, shrimp and yesterday’s recipe for Moules Marinières, steamed mussels
  •  
    Let us know how you enjoy them.
     
      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Chillsner Beer Cooler

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    Chill that beer in a minute. Photo
    courtesy Hewy Wine Chillers.

     

    We’re quite enamored of the Corkcicle, a reusable, gel-filled plastic icicle. Kept in the freezer until you need it, it becomes a wine cooler and bottle stopper that chills down a bottle of wine or maintains the temperature of an already chilled bottle.

    Forget a bulky ice bucket: This the perfect way to keep opened bottles of wine at just the right drinking temperature. It’s available in a standard edition, Corkcicle Classic, and a deluxe edition, Corkcicle One, which has a built-in aerator and pouring spout. Either is a great gift for wine lovers.

    Now Corkcicle has a beer brother: the Chillsner, for standard long neck beer bottles. The stainless steel frame contains the same proprietary thermal gel used in the Corkcicle. As with the Corkcicle, you keep the Chillsner in the freezer until you need it; then, simply insert it into the bottle.

    You can place the Chillsner in a warm bottle of beer and immediately sip cold beer through the spout (or pour it into a glass). Or, use the Chillsner to keep a pre-chilled bottle cold.

    If you’re drinking alfresco, the Chillsner also keeps the bugs out.

    Give as a summer gift, or plan for the holidays. Any beer drinker will be delighted.

     

    The list price is $29.95 for a two-unit gift box; but you’ll find the Chillsner for $20.95 on Amazon.com.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Lighter Beer For Summer

    While some beer drinkers quaff their chosen brew month in and month out, others follow the seasons, choosing summer beers when the weather gets hot.

    By varying recipes with different malts, hops and yeasts, craft brewers produce summer beers, The goal is to deliver flavor while keeping the body lighter and more refreshing on a hot day.

    Substituting wheat for some or all of the barley delivers a lighter body with crisp tartness. Different hops add summery notes, from the aromatic orange rind nose of Pacifica hops to the lemony, spicy flavor of the German Noble hop. Yeasts also play their part: Bavarian yeast, for example, add tropical fruit and a hint of clove.

    Brewers can add extra flavors like fresh citrus zest, coriander or thyme, or a touch of caramel malt for sweeter notes.

    For your drinking pleasure, we’ve pulled together a list of the classic summer beers. All are made by American craft brewers and available as imports. Consider having a tasting of the different styles, and pick your favorites to enjoy them through the rest of the summer. As the weeks fly by, they’ll be replaced on store shelves soon enough with Oktoberfest beer and pumpkin ale.

    Fruit Beer. These include the classic Belgian lambics (look for cherry kriek and framboise/frambozen) and newer American styles. U.S. craft brewers add fresh puréed berries or other summer fruits into the secondary fermentation.

     

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    With its hazy golden color and bright character, Samuel Adams Summer Ale has crisp citrus notes from the Noble hops, wheat and lemon peel and the subtle peppery spice of grains of paradise. Photo courtesy LiteratureAndLibation.com.

     

    Hefeweizen (also called Hefeweisse, Hefeweissbier and Weissbier). This light bodied wheat beer from Bavaria can still offer great complexity; the body is crisp and effervescent. Hefeweizen is German for “yeast wheat” (Hefe = yeast, weizen = wheat); the traditional Bavarian Hefeweizen/Weissbier yeast strain creates flavors of banana and spicy clove. Hefeweizen is not filtered before bottling; thus, the yeast continue to act (this is known as bottle conditioning) and there may be sediment in the bottle (ignore it).

    Kölsch. This pale golden ale, developed in Cologne (Köln), Germany, uses a strain of yeast that gives it a very distinct flavor profile. Light straw in color with layers of delicate fruit, Kölsch has a very balanced crispness with a slight sweetness.

     

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    Brooklyn Summer Ale is brewed with English
    barley malt, which gives this light bodied
    golden beer a fresh bready flavor. German
    and American hops lend a light, crisp
    bitterness and a citrus/floral aroma. Photo
    courtesy Brooklyn Brewery.

     

    Summer Lager. Also called Helles-style; “Helles” is the German word for “light.” Don’t expect anything like a mass-produced American “Lite” beer: These beers are maltier and hoppier summer lagers that are bright with fresh grain character. Brewers often choose hops hops that provide notes of citrus and spice.

    Saison. Saison, the French word for season, is a French farmhouse ale. Historically, it was a refreshing summer ale made by farmers for their own consumption. Modern commercial versions are generally around 7% ABV, highly carbonated, fruity and spicy—sometimes from hops, sometimes from the addition of spices.

    Summer Ale. Also called English summer ale, this is a lighter version of a classic pale ale. It retains the wonderful flavors and aromas of ale’s malt and hops, while using a significant portion of wheat for a lighter body and crisp finish.

    Unfiltered Wheat Ale/Beer. See Hefeweizen, above. These beers are left unfiltered to retain all of the flavors derived from the malt and yeast. Don’t be put off by the cloudiness; enjoy the depth of flavor profile.

     

    Wheat Ale. Wheat enhances the mouthfeel of the beer. Some brewers add orange peel, coriander or other flavors for refreshing notes

    Witbier. A Belgian specialty, typically brewed with orange peel and coriander for summer refreshment.

    Check out the history of beer and the different styles of beer.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Beer Glasses ~ Stout Glasses

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    Stout has never tasted better. Photo courtesy Spielgau.

     

    For decades, connoisseurs of fine wines and spirits have been able to enjoy them in glasses engineered by Riedel, to bring out every last nuance of flavor and aroma. If you’ve ever compared drinking a wine from the correct varietal-specific Riedel glass (Bordeaux, Brandy, Chardonnay, Tequila, etc.) and a generic wine glass, you know the results are amazing.

    Last year right before Father’s Day, we featured the first variety-specific beer glass, an IPA glass from Spielgau, specially contoured to enhance the flavors and aromas of IPA beer.

    This year, Spielgau—a 500 year-old company that was purchased by Riedel in 2004—adds the world’s first stout-specific glass. The company hopes to do for beer what its parent company has done for wine.

    Stout is a heavier style of beer characterized dark color, malty flavor, and thick, foamy head. The wide mouth of the 21-ounce Spiegelau Stout glass is conducive to pouring a strong head, while the flared base helps focus the beer’s aromas, which can then emanate from the glass’s wide opening. (See the different types of beers.)

     

    The stout glass was developed and tested with two American craft brewers of stout: Left Hand Brewing Company of Colorado and Rogue Ales of Oregon. A set of two glasses is $25 at SpielgauUSA.com. Branded versions of the glass with brewery logos are available through LeftHandBrewing.com and Rogue.com, respectively.

     

    HOW THE SPIEGEL STOUT GLASS WAS DEVELOPED

    Hundreds of glasses pulled from Spiegelau’s glassware archive were tested against a variety of the brewers’ own stouts to find the glass shape that had the most profound effect on the aromas and flavor profiles of each stout beer. After narrowing the options to a handful of shapes, Spiegelau’s German factory created six final prototypes for testing all stouts, varying by several millimeters in height, bowl width, angle and capacity.

    After many deliberations, Left Hand Brewing Company and Rogue Ales separately and unanimously determined that the Prototype “C” stout glass delivered the optimal taste, aroma and mouth feel to enhance stout beers. The winning shape has:

  • A voluminous, open bottom glass base that drives beer and aromatic foam upward into the main bowl.
  • A wider, conical bowl that significantly amplifies aromas and also provides superior flow to mid palate, improving the taste, mouth feel and finish of complex stout beers.
  • A stark, angular shape and open base that create dramatic visual cascading effect into the glass as the beer is poured.
  • Ultra-pure quartz material, that makes for unsurpassed clarity and flawless, true color presentation of stout beer.
  •  
    So the next great gift for a beer lover: Spielgau stout glasses with a selection of artisan stouts.

     

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    The two “developer” breweries offer branded versions of the stout glass. Photo courtesy Proof Brewing Co.

     

    ABOUT STOUT

    The darkest and heartiest of beers, a stout is top fermented and differentiated from a regular ale by its brown-black color, chocolate-coffee flavors and fuller body. This is achieved by brewing with barley that has been dark-roasted to the point of charring (think of espresso beans, compared to a medium-roast coffee). Stout is thus both darker and maltier than porter, has a more pronounced hop aroma, and may reach an alcoholic content of 6% to 7%.

    Stout originated in Ireland, where most traditional stouts are very rich, yet sharp and slightly bitter. Stout is well-paired with strong cheese and a spicy sausage such as andouille. There are different types of stout:

  • Chocolate stout is a sub-category that uses different malts for an even more pronounced chocolate flavor. These days, some brewers add actual chocolate into the brew, or brew over cacao beans, or both.
  • Coffee stout uses dark roasted malts to add a bitter coffee flavor. With the tandem growth of interest in microbrews and fine coffee, craft brewers have added specific ground beans to create, for example, “Breakfast Coffee Stout,” “Espresso Stout” and “Guatemalan Coffee Stout.”
  • Cream stout or milk stout is a style made sweeter with unfermentable lactose (milk sugar).
  • Dry stout or Irish stout is very dark and toasty or coffee-note style, exemplified by the world-famous Guinness.
  • Imperial stout, Russian stout or Russian imperial stout has more of a rich, roasted quality and a higher level of alcohol. These are potent beers that can be almost as thickly textured as liqueur. Examples include Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout at 7% alcohol and Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Chocolate Stout, at 8.7% alcohol. The alcohol content of imperial stouts can go to 9% and 10%.
  • Oatmeal stout adds oatmeal to the mash, which gives a smoothness and creaminess to the stout. It has more restrained flavors and less alcohol than Imperial stout. Samuel Smith makes a benchmark oatmeal stout, with notes of fruit, licorice, chocolate and toffee.
  •   

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    BOOK: Craft Beer World

    craft-beer-world

    A gift for beer lovers. Photo courtesy Dog ‘N’
    Bone.

     

    Looking for a gift for your Memorial Day hosts, or for Father’s Day? Instead of a bottle of wine, how about some craft beer?

    Package the beer with a copy of Craft Beer World by Mark Dredge

    With the explosion in the popularity of craft beers across the globe, more must-try beers are available than ever before.

    Craft Beer World presents more than 300 of the world’s most innovative and delicious, showcasing the best of each style in 50 different categories.

    From an American IPA bursting with citrusy C-hops or an Imperial Stout full of dark roasted malts, the book explains the key characteristics of each, from classic to cutting edge brews.

    There are also nuggets of beer information, including how to serve different beers and how to pair beer with food.

     

    Also consider a beer flavor wheel, a shortcut to comparing styles.

    Another type of beer flavor wheel provides descriptions of the myriad flavors of beer.

    Whether you’re looking for bitter beers or brews with hints of chocolate or coffee, these guides reviews will point you in the right direction. There’s not just one perfect beer to suit your taste buds; there are many!

    Check out the different types of beer in our Beer Glossary.

     

    beer-flavor-wheel-styles-beverageideas-230

    A beer flavor wheel provides instant comparisons. Photo courtesy Beverage Ideas.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Irish Beer

    murphys_stout-bkgd-mully1.wordpress-230

    A glass of Murphy’s shows off the chocolaty
    color. It also has chocolaty flavors, and a
    sweetness which makes it an ideal “dessert
    beer.” Photo courtesy Murphy’s.

     

    Many people celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with beer. But this is not the occasion to pull out your favorite American craft beers or mass-market standards such as Bud, Coors or Miller.

    No, this is time for Irish beer.

    You’ve got two choices here:

  • Imported beers brewed in Ireland
  • Irish-style beers brewed in the U.S.
  •  
    There is no one style of Irish beer. The brews range from light and crisp to strong, rich and full-bodied for sipping, to light and crisp. So whatever your style of choice, you’ll find an Irish beer or two that fits the bill.

    But lager is the style of choice in the Emerald Isle, accounting for 60% of the beer sold. Stout is the second favorite at 34%, and ale comprises the remaining 6% is Ale. [Source: Irish Beer Market Survey 2010]

    How about an Irish beer tasting party for St. Patrick’s Day? The selection will depend on what’s available in your area, but here are brands to look for.

     
    Irish Lager

  • Harp Lager, perhaps the best-known Irish lager in the U.S., is a crisp, light lager, clean and refreshing.
  • Porterhouse Bohemia is a black lager style that’s relatively new to Ireland. The recipe was developed by a Czech brewer using Pilsner Urquell yeast, but delivers the roasted chocolate flavor that Irish stout drinkers crave.
  •  
    *Not all oyster stouts are made with oysters. The name indicates a style of stout, popular with the oysters served at pubs.

     

    Irish Stout

  • Beamish is a bit lighter and spicier than the iconic Guinness, dark and chocolaty.
  • Guinness Draught, the most famous of Irish beers, is rich and creamy with roasty malts and hints of chocolate. Compare it with the stonger Extra Stout and Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, hoppier like an I.P.A. and higher in alcohol.
  • Murphy’s Irish Stout (photo above), lighter and sweeter than the first two, has caramel, chocolate and espresso flavors that make it just right for dessert. Seriously—try it with an apple tart.
  • Ohara’s Irish Stout is an old-school style: robust, full-bodied and hoppy with roasty notes from the barley and a subtle sweetness. O’Hara’s Celtic Stout has a very different profile: smooth and dry with flavors of coffee and licorice.
  • Porterhouse Oyster Stout is actually brewed with fresh oysters, shucked into the tank*. The oyster flavor is very subtle (it has been compared to the brininess in an Asian fish sauce), and oyster lovers might prefer that those oysters were in front of them on the half shell. But they do create a different flavor profile, which includes some conventional stout flavors (creamy, roasty, malty).
  •  

    murphys-irish-red-230

    Irish red ale has a ruby hue—naturally, from roasted barley or in lesser brews, from artificial coloring. Photo courtesy Murphy’s Irish Ale.

     

    Irish Ale

  • Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale, smooth and creamy, dates back to the 14th century. Brewed by Guinness, the amber ale has been described as a less hoppy Smithwick’s. It has a creamy head like Guinness, a malty aroma and flavor and is sweet and creamy on the palate, offset by a touch of bitterness.
  • Murphy’s Irish Red (photo above) does have a red hue, generated by small amounts of roasted barley (caveat: some manufacturers artificially color their “Irish red” beers red). In America, darker amber ales are sometimes labeled (or mis-labeled) as red ales. Murphy’s Irish Red is the real deal: dry, crisp, hoppy and highly carbonated. It delivers hints of caramel and fruit.
  • O’Hara’s Irish Wheat, a golden wheat ale, is a lighter thirst-quencher in the style of Belgian wheat beers. It delivers notes of bananas, peaches and plums.
  • Smithwick’s Irish Ale dates back to the 14th century; Smithwick’s is Ireland’s oldest operating brewery (and the largest ale producer in Ireland). With a similar profile to Murphy’s, it delivers a deep caramel maltiness and a hint of hops and roasted barley, coffee and sweet fruits.
  •  
    DON’T LIKE BEER?

    Look for Irish hard cider. It’s a relative newcomer—the first large commercial batches were brewed in the mid-1930s by William Magner. Cider now accounts for 12% of Ireland’s “beer market,” much of that Magner’s Irish Cider, which can be found in the U.S.

      

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