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Archive for Beer & Hard Cider

PRODUCTS: 5 Beverage Favorites

1. ANGRY ORCHARD: ORCHARD’S EDGE KNOTTY PEAR

Hard apple cider is hot, but what about perry?

Pears are also turned into hard cider, called perry in the U.K.; but perry is not as well known in the U.S.

American cider makers tend to label their perries as pear cider. And there are far fewer of them.

We’ve had all of Angry Orchard’s 13 apple ciders, but these days it’s their one perry—a.k.a. Orchard’s Edge Knotty Pear—that has our attention.

It’s available nationwide, and will open your eyes to the joys of pear hard cider. We need for more American cider lovers to try it and convince Angry Orchard that there is a market for more perry.

The term perry comes from the Old French word for pear, peré (PEH-ray), from the Latin word for pear, pirum.

As with apples, the pear varieties used to make cider tend to be sour, and aren’t pleasant eating.

Next step: Look for Knotty Pear cider and buy it. If you find several brands, buy them all and have a perry tasting.

Discover more about Angry Orchard ciders.
 
 
2. COFFIG: ROASTED FIG COFFEE SUBSTITUTE

We’ve tried caffeine-free coffee substitutes: Thanks but no thanks. But Coffig has succeeded in making a natural coffee alternative from roasted figs.

We didn’t believe it until we tried it. It really does substitute for coffee, hot or iced. If you’re looking for an alternative, try it.

We think you’ll like it. And there’s a 100% Money Back Customer Satisfaction Guarantee if you don’t.

Coffig comes in convenient, individually wrapped “tea bags” for single cups; as well as in pouches of powder for making larger batches. The product is 100% roasted black figs.

You can buy them on the website: Coffig.com, and on Amazon.
 
 
3. SAMUEL ADAMS: GRAPEFRUIT REBEL IPA

In 2014, Samuel Adams introduced Rebel IPA, their take on a West Coast IPA (India Pale Ale).

West Coast-style IPAs use hops from the Pacific Northwest, which have different flavors than European hops, and generally have more hop intensity.

We liked Rebel IPA. So did a lot of other people. It did so well in these IPA-happy times that siblings began to arrive: Rebel Rouser Double IPA, Rebel Rider Session IPA, Rebel Juiced IPA, Rebel White Citra IPA and our favorite, Rebel Grapefruit IPA.

We are fans of wines with grapefruit notes, like French Sauvignon Blancs, and love it in beer, too. Rebel Grapefruit IPA is brewed with real grapefruit in the mash, for a prominence of flavor that complements the citrus of the hops.

See it, try it. Find details at SamuelAdams.com.

Find more beer types and terms in our Beer Glossary.

 
 
4. SEALAND BIRK: ORGANIC BIRCH WATER

First came coconut water, then maple water, and now birch water.

The producer, Sealand Birk (birk is Danish for birch), advises: Drink your water from a tree—just like the Vikings used to…the people of the Nordic regions rejuvenate their body and soul after long, harsh winters with the uplifting spring tonic of birch tree water.

Birch water has become “the detox ingredient de jour” thanks to its antioxidant- and mineral-rich nutrient profile. It won the drink category of the 2016 Nature & Health Natural Food Awards.

We had the opportunity to drink the line at a trade show, and proclaimed every flavor (blueberry, cranberry, elderflower, gooseberry, mango, raspberry rhubarb) and the unflavored original winners.

So where can you buy it? Write to info@sealandbirk.com with your zip code.

 

Angry Orchard Knotty Pear

Coffig

Samuel Adams Rebel Grapefruit IPA

Birch Water, Blueberry Flavor

Sprite Cherry Cola

[1] Knotty Pear from Angry Orchard is a perry: pear cider (photo courtesy Angry Orchard). [2] Coffig is a coffee substitute made from figs (photo Pinterest). [3] Our new favorite beer from Samuel Adams: Rebel Grapefruit IPA (photo Boston Brewery). [4] Refreshing, nutritious water tapped from birch trees, available plain or flavored (photo Sealand Birk). [5] Sprite’s first new entry in 56 years: Cherry Sprite (photo Coca-Cola).

 
Amazon lists three flavors (original, blueberry, raspberry) but they are “currently unavailable.”

Hopefully they’re coming soon. You can ask to be emailed when they arrive.

The company’s main website is based in Australia, and has e-commerce; but the U.S. website currently does not.

Otherwise, you may just have to tap a birch tree.

One could do worse than be a tapper of birches.
 
 
5. SPRITE: CHERRY SPRITE & CHERRY SPRITE ZERO

Lemon-lime Sprite was introduced to the U.S. in 1961 as a competitor to 7 Up. Why has it taken this long to come up with a line extension, Cherry Sprite?

The answer is vending machine technology; specifically, Coca-Cola Freestyle, the touch screen soda fountain that has changed drink dispensing in movie theaters and other soda-thirsty locations.

The machine features 165 different variations of Coca-Cola products: Coke, Diet Coke, Dr. Pepper, Sprite and the company’s other brands. Consumers can add flavors to their base drink of choice.

Upon review of purchase data, cherry was the number-one flavor added to Sprite. Thus, you can now buy Sprite Cherry and Sprite Cherry Zero in 20-ounce bottles in stores nationwide. The new flavor was a long time coming, but worth the wait.

Theatre fans note: Formulations for the Freestyle dispenser and the bottled versions of Sprite Cherry and Sprite Cherry Zero vary a bit. The most obvious difference is that Sprite with added cherry flavor from the Freestyle produces a red-tinted drink, whereas bottled Sprite Cherry and Sprite Cherry Zero is clear.

And LeBron James drinks it. See him at Sprite.com.

  

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TIP OF THE DAY: Irish Lamb Stew For St. Patrick’s Day

Irish Lamb Stew

Pint Of Guinness

Arthur Guinness

[1] Irish lamb stew, made with pearled barley. [2] A pint of Guinness, once the world’s top-selling beer†. [3] Arthur Guinness founded the brewery in 1759. It’s the world’s oldest continuing brewery (all photos courtesy Guinness).

 

If you like lamb, there’s no better excuse to make lamb stew than St. Patrick’s Day. Lamb shoulder, the best stew cut, is also far less pricey than lamb chops or leg of lamb.

This traditional dish is served on St. Patrick’s Day at the restaurant in Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, which provided the recipe below. Is so easy to make, that even a young cook can throw it together.

The Guinness Storehouse is the original property leased in 1759 by Arthur Guinness for his brewery. It’s a 9,000-year lease, by the way, leading one to wonder if the landlord refused to write a 10,000-year lease.

The property has been converted into a museum on the history of brewing and the history of Guinness.

RECIPE: IRISH LAMB STEW

Note that the recipe cooks the meat and the vegetables for the same time. This creates soft vegetables, the old-fashioned style.

If you prefer your veggies al dente, add in the vegetables after 45 minutes, but cook the full amount of stock from the beginning.

Similarly, our mom always browned stew meat before adding it to the pot. Browning helps develop more depth of flavor; some cooks even brown the vegetables and herbs. This step isn’t required in Guinness’ recipe, so we didn’t do it; although next time we will for comparison.

Serve the stew with a side of the pearled barley, some Irish soda bread and a Guinness (or brand of choice).

While the stew is cooking, check out the different cuts of lamb.

 
Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • 2-1/4 pounds lamb shoulder cubes
  • Bouquet garni* of parsley, thyme and bay leaf
  • 3 large onions, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 3-4 carrots, diced (if carrots are slender, you can cut coins instead)
  • 2 sticks of celery chopped
  • 1 small turnip, diced
  • 1 small leek, diced
  • 2 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 pints chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons pearl* barley
  • Parsley, finely chopped
  • Garnish: sprig of thyme
  • ________________

    *See the last sections, below.

     
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the meat, bouquet garni, barley, onions, carrots, celery and turnip in the pot; cover with chicken stock. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for one hour.

    2. SKIM off the scum on top of the pot. Add the potatoes and continue cooking for ½ hour. For the last 5 minutes, add the leek.

    3. REMOVE the bouquet garni. Stir in the chopped parsley. Serve in bowls.

    ________________
    †According to The Street, the world’s best-selling beers are now:
    1. Snow (SABMiller/China Resources Enterprises)
    2. Tsingtao (China, Tsingtao Brewery)
    3. Bud Light (Anheuser-Busch InBev)
    4. Budweiser (Anheuser-Busch InBev)
    5. Skol (Carlsberg, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Unibra)
    6. Yanjing (Beijing Yanjing)
    7. Heinecken (Heineken International)
    8. Harbin (Anheuser-Busch InBev, China)
    9. Brahma (Anheuser-Busch InBev, Brazil)
    10.Coors Light (MolsonCoors)

    Times change: We remember back in the 1970s that Guinness was the number one beer in the world.

     

    HOW TO MAKE A BOUQUET GARNI

    A bouquet garni (French for garnished bouquet) is a bundle of herbs tied with a string. It is used in the preparation of soups, stews and stocks.

    The herbs are tied for easy removal after cooking. In situations where some ingredients can’t be tied (peppercorns or garlic cloves, for example), a small muslin drawstring bag or piece of cheesecloth is used.

    The bouquet is cooked in the pot with the other ingredients, but is removed when cooking is complete.

    There is no generic recipe for bouquet garni, but most French recipes combine bay leaf, parsley and thyme.

  • Depending on the recipe, it may also include basil, burnet, chervil, rosemary, savory and tarragon.
  • How many pieces of each? That’s up to you, similar to adding “a handful” of something. We use four of everything.
  • Vegetables such as carrot, celery (leaves or leaf stalks), celeriac, leek, onion and parsley root are sometimes included.
  • Don’t hesitate to include flavors you’d like in your recipe. In Provence, dried orange peel can be added.
  •  

    A Tip For Parsley

    Keep the parsley leaves for garnish, but tie the stalks in the bouquet garni. They have lots of flavor.
     
     
    WHAT IS PEARLED BARLEY?

    Pearl barley, or pearled barley, is barley that has been processed to remove the hull and the bran.

    All barley must have its fibrous outer hull removed before it can be eaten; but pearl barley is then polished to remove the bran layer.

     

    Bouquet Garni

    Pearled Barley

    [1] Don’t worry if your bouquet garni doesn’t look this pretty (from Recreational Witchcraft | Tumblr). [2] Pearl or pearled barley (photo courtesy BBC Good Food).

     
    With the bran removed, the barley is no longer a whole grain, but is still nutritious. Hulled barley, the whole grain form, is also known as barley groats.

    Pearl barley is still chewy and nutritious, but less so than hulled barley, which still has its bran layer.

    The polished grains are also softer and take less time to cook, about 40 minutes. That’s why pearl barley is most often used in recipes.

    You can substitute hulled barley in recipes, by adjusting for a longer cooking time.

      

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    ST. PATRICK’S DAY: Irish Nachos Recipe

    Irish Nachos

    Murphy's Irish Red

    O'Hara's Irish Stout

    [1] “Irish Nachos” for St. Pat’s. Find more recipees from the Idaho Potatoes. [2] and [3] Got beer? Serve the nachos with some Irish brew.

     

    You won’t want to wait until St. Pat’s to enjoy this scrumptious snack.

    Serve it with your favorite beer; or in the spirit of the holiday, these Irish beers.

    How about an Irish beer tasting? Here are some of the most popular brands:

  • Beamish Irish Stout
  • Fuller’s
  • Guinness Draught, Extra Stout, and Foreign Extra Stout
  • Harp Lager
  • Murphy’s Irish Red
  • Murphy’s Irish Stout
  • O’Hara’s Celtic Stout
  • O’Hara’s Irish Wheat
  • Porterhouse Brewing Co. Oyster Stout
  • Smithwick’s Irish Ale
  •  
    RECIPE: “IRISH NACHOS”

    This recipe, created by Idaho Potatoes, has no common ingredients with the popular Tex-Mex recipe—except perhaps for the scallion garnish.

    Instead, crisp slices of roasted potatoes are topped with corned beef, sauerkraut, melted Swiss cheese, and homemade Thousand Island dressing. It’s a crowd-pleaser for sure, for St. Patrick’s Day or any other day of the year.

    Variation: You can also turn these ingredients into a layered “Irish Potato Salad” in a glass bowl—like a layered dip, but a side dish.

    Ingredients For The Nachos

  • 1 pound Idaho Red Potatoes, cut into 1/8-inch slices
  • 1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 and ½ cups chopped corned beef
  • 1 and ½ cups sauerkraut, drained well
  • 1 cup grated Swiss cheese
  • ½ cup pre-cooked crumbled bacon
  • 3 tablespoons thousand island dressing, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons sliced scallions, for garnish
  •  
    Ingredients For The Thousand Island Dressing

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 2 teaspoons finely diced red onion (or other onion)
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely minced garlic (about half of a small clove)
  • 1 teaspoon white or white wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the Thousand Island Dressing at least one hour in advance of using (and the day before, if desired). Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Taste and add additional seasoning if desired. Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld.

    2. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

    3. PLACE the potato slices in a large bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.

    4. TRANSFER the potato slices to the prepared baking sheets, spreading them out in an even layer (be sure not to overlap the slices). Bake for 12 minutes on each side, or until golden and slightly crispy. Turn the oven down to 350°F.

    5. LIGHTLY GREASE a cast iron pan or small baking dish. Layer the potatoes in the bottom of the pan. Top with the chopped corned beef, sauerkraut, and grated Swiss cheese (in that order). Sprinkle with crumbled bacon. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

    6. DRIZZLE the dressing over the top and garnish with the scallions. Serve immediately.
     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: A Hard Cider Party For Halloween

    Still looking for a Halloween activity?

    How about a hard cider party? It’s adult, it’s fun, and it’s an opportunity to taste and compare more hard ciders than most of us get to do.

    While in the U.S. and parts of Canada, the term “apple cider” is interchangeable with apple juice, in Europe a glass of cider is not kid stuff. It’s an alcoholic drink that that many prefer to beer—and if you look at the explosive sales figures, Americans are also discovering its charms: It’s the fastest-growing alcohol category.
     
    WHAT IS HARD CIDER

    When apples are pressed and bottled, you have apple juice—also called apple cider in the U.S., although in other countries apple cider refers to hard cider.

    Hard cider is made from fermented apple juice; over a few months, the sugars in the juice turn into alcohol. As with craft beer, each brand has a distinct flavor profile and alcoholic content, generally from 3% ABV (alcohol by volume) or less to 8.5% or more.

  • Hard cider uses a different blend of apples than apple juice. In fact, many more apple varieties are used to create a fine cider. The import Magners Irish Cider is made from 17 varieties of apples!
  • Pears are also turned into cider, called perry in the U.K.
  • The juice ferments for eight weeks after the apples are pressed. The cider then matures or several months, and afterward is blended, filtered and carbonated. The result is a drink with the carbonation and alcohol of beer and the flavor of apples.
  • Many cider apples are sour, and can’t substitute for eating apples.
  • Like wine, cider it has a relatively high concentration of antioxidants; it’s naturally gluten-free and is less filling than beer.
  •  
    PLANNING YOUR CIDER PARTY

    Beyond Halloween, you can also have a cider tasting during Thanksgiving cocktail hour, for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and other celebrations.

    1. INVITE friends today: Halloween is eight days away.

    2. PLAN the number of ciders based on the number of people. If you’re serving 8 or more different ciders, estimate one bottle per four proper.

    3. PARE the list. There are many different styles of cider, and ciders from different countries (England, France, Ireland, Spain and others). Each country has its own preferred style, as you’ll see in the Top Artisan Ciders section below. You can’t try them all in one night—but you can have subsequent tastings to try the rest.

  • We recommend sticking with American cider brands for the first event. You want to try a good representation of artisan ciders. There are so many different types of local cider: dry , sweet, barrel-aged, At the next event, you can taste the winners against the Europeans.
  • Similarly, save the barrel-aged, flavored ciders (apple pie, cherry, honey, raspberry, orange, etc.), ice cider (like ice wine, it’s pressed from naturally frozen fruit), perry and spiced ciders for next time.
  • Look for Angry Orchard, Crispin, Strongbow and Woodchuck, for starters; they’re national brands. You can create an entire tasting just by gathering up the different expressions of each brand. For example, Angry Orchard features Apple Ginger, Crisp Apple, Green Apple, Hop’n Mad Apple, Stone Dry, plus a fall seasonal cider, Cinn-Full Apple.
  • Artisan ciders tend to be distributed in the limited area where they are produced—not just because small companies lack sales and marketing heft, but because each brand needs to go through approval of each state liquor authority. It’s daunting, but we’ve listed some highly-rated ciders below.
  • Do not mistakenly pick up a flavored apple beer, like Redd’s Apple Cider. These beverages are artificially flavored, and don’t belong on the same table as cider, an all-natural drink.
  • Do have some apple cider (apple juice) for designated drivers. If you buy a few different kinds, they can have their own “tasting.”
  •  
    4. PLAN the eats. You can serve hard cider with any snack or food you’d serve with beer, but the sweetness of cider allows you to serve it with desserts, too.

  • For snacks: charcuterie and hearty cheeses.
  •  

    Angry Orchard Cider

    Crispin Cider

    Woodchuck Hard Cider

    Strongbow Cider

    [1] Angry Orchard, owned by Boston Brewing Company (parent of Samuel Adams beer), is the nation’s #1 cider brand (photo courtesy Boston Brewing). [2] Crispin makes a variety of styles, as well as perry (pear cider) under the Fox Barrel brand (photo courtesy Crispin Hard Cider Co.). [3] Woodchuck, another popular national brand (photo courtesy Fletcher6 | Wikipedia). [4] Strongbow cider is produced by Heineken (photo courtesy Heineken USA).

  • For main courses: chicken, pork, sausages, soups, stews, fondue (you can substitute hard cider for wine in most recipes and drink rest of the cider along with the meal).
  • For dessert: Apple desserts pair beautifully. We like bread pudding, cobbler or crisp (the difference), pie and apple-topped cheesecake.
  •  
    TOP ARTISAN CIDERS

    Here are some of the nation’s top-rated artisan ciders: Brand, variety and style. “Crisp/Dry” is the most common style. “Funky” refers to a style popular in France, with [what we really enjoy] barnardy aromas. They can also be crisp and dry. Off Dry/Semi-Dry is the classic English style: sweetness of fruit followed by a dry finish.

    Dessert ciders are sweet, like dessert wine; although off dry/semi-dry and crisp ciders can also be paired with desserts.

  • CALIFORNIA: Bonny Doon, Querry (sweet)
  • MASSACHUSETTS: Bantam, Wunderkind (off dry/semi-dry)
  • MICHIGAN: Virtue Cider, Lapinette (funky style)
  • NEW HAMPSHIRE: Farnum Hill, Extra Dry (crisp/dry style)
  • NEW YORK: Bellwether Hard Cider, King Baldwin (crisp/dry style), Doc’s Draft, Original Hard Apple Cider (off dry/semi-dry), Eve’s Cidery, Darling Creek (off dry/semi-dry), Redbyrd Orchard, Starblossom (funky style), Wölffer Estate, 139 Dry Rosé Cider (off dry/semi-dry)(
  • OREGON: E.Z. Orchards, Cidre Dry (funky style), Reverend Nat’s, Revival Hard Apple (crisp/dry), Traditions Ciderworks, Riverwood (off dry/semi-dry)
  • TEXAS: Argus Cidery, 2013 Perennial (funky style), Austin Eastciders, Gold Top (funky style)
  • VERMONT: Eden, Sparkling Cider, Dry (off dry/semi-dry
  • VIRGINIA: Foggy Ridge Cider, First Fruit (crisp/dry style)
  • WASHINGTON: Snowdrift Cider Co., Orchard Select (crisp/dry style)
  • WISCONSIN: AeppelTreow, Appely Brut; Bellwether Hard Cider, King Baldwin (crisp/dry style)
  •   

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    FOOD FUN: National Beer Holidays

    Got Beer?

    September 28th is Drink Beer Day (also called National Drink A Beer Day).

    But beer lovers can plan an entire year of beer celebrations:

  • American Beer Day, October 27th
  • National Beer Day, April 7th
  • National Bock Beer Day, May 3rd
  • National Homebrew Day, the first Saturday in May
  • American Craft Beer Week, the third week in May
  • American Beer Month, July
  • National IPA Day, the first Thursday of August
  • International Beer Day, the first Friday of August
  •  
    There are also local beer events. Check your state!
     
    THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BEER
     
    A BRIEF HISTORY OF BEER
     
    WHAT ARE HOPS?

     

    Hops Growing

    There would be no beer without hops, a species of flowering plant that is cultivated on trellised vines (photo courtesy USAHops.org). The hop plant, Humulus lupulus, is a member of the Cannabaceae family, making it a botanical cousin of cannabis.

     

      

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