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Archive for Beer & Hard Cider

TIP OF THE DAY: Cider Tasting For Mother’s Day

Hard Cider & Food

Drier ciders work better with meats. Photo courtesy Angry Orchard.

 

Skip the Pinot Grigio and taste some cider for Mother’s Day. It’s more novel than wine, and will suit any guest:

Cider is equally popular among men and women, whereas beer is significantly more popular among men*. Cider is also gluten-free and less filling than beer.

While many people think “autumn” when they hear “cider,” that is true for non-alcoholic cider, which is fresh-pressed.

Hard cider is fermented for eight weeks after the juice is pressed. The cider then matures for several months, is blended, filtered and carbonated. So the “freshest” hard cider is on the market now, not in the fall.

Another note: In the U.S., alcoholic cider is called hard cider and apple cider/apple juice (the terms are interchangeable in the U.S.) is simply called cider.

In the U.K. it’s the reverse: “Cider” is hard cider.

While most cider is made from apples, you’ll also find pear cider, known in the U.K. as perry.

 
CIDER & FOOD PAIRINGS

Hard ciders pairs with the same foods as beer and white wine. Styles range from very dry to sweet “hard apple juice.”

  • The sweetness of cider allows you to serve desserts with it, too, especially apple desserts (pie, crumble, bread pudding).
  • For nibbles, serve hearty cheeses and charcuterie.
  • For main courses, consider barbecue, chicken, pork and sausages (beer and brats, meet cider and brats); plus soups, stews and one of our favorite pairings, cheese fondue.
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    TIPS

  • In recipes, you can substitute hard cider for wine.
  • Hard cider is best served chilled or over ice.
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    CIDER TASTING PARTY: WHERE TO START

    1. Gather up a dozen brands or so, and invite friends over for a hard cider tasting. You’ll find hard ciders from the U.S. and England†. Get apple cider for the kids.

    2. For serious foodies, conduct a blind tasting. Serve them in order of alcohol content, lowest to highest. Either cover up the labels with paper (we used a removable glue stick) or place each one in a paper sandwich sack (the size of a take-out coffee bag, which you can get at the nearest deli [offer to pay for them and you’ll likely get them for free]).

    3. Mark each label or bag with a number, and provide each person with a tasting notes sheet. If your group is accustomed to evaluating beer and wine, you can adapt this professional scoring sheet. We put all the descriptors in the left column of that sheet onto one piece of paper, with one for each guest. For notes, we made up a simple sheet with designated areas for rating ciders 1 through 12 (or however many ciders you’re serving) on a second sheet.

    You can also print out this Cider Tasting Wheel.

     

    Cider Goblet

    You can use any glass you like for cider; this one is popular in Europe. Photo courtesy Crispin Cider.

     
    4. Decide on the food and how many bottles of each cider you’ll need for your size crowd.

    5. Start with small pours: An ounce each of 12 cider becomes 12 ounces in relatively short order. At the end of the comparison tasting, people can go back for more.

    6. Provide “dump buckets” so participants can toss what they don’t like. These can be large tumblers or other vessels (we’ve used short vases!).

    7. Have a great time.
     
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    *Beer is preferred by men in terms of market penetration (+10% for men), frequency (+35% for men), and servings consumed (+33% for men).
     
    †Magners Irish Cider is the only hard cider imported from Ireland.

      

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    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Beer Day

    Amber Ale

    Burger & Lager Beer

    Top: Amber ale with blue cheese from the EatWisconsinCheese.com. Bottom: Burger and a lager at The Palm.

     

    What will you do on April 7th, National Beer Day?

    Drink beer, of course. Hopefully, you’ll choose a complex craft beer instead of something mass-produced and bland.

    Depending on your age, it may seem that craft breweries have always been around.

    Of course in the Colonies, it was brewed in small batches at home or for a tavern, and simply called beer. When not a soldier and statesman, George Washington, and landowners like him, first grew the grain and then brewed their beer.

    In 1819 the first commercial brewery opened in the U.S., in Rochester, New York. Over the next 50 years, every region that did not have local prohibition laws had breweries. Some of today’s mega-brewers, including Anheuser-Busch, Miller, Pabst, Schlitz and Stroh, started as small regional breweries.

    Fast forward 200+ years to the dawn of the American microbrew. In 1977, a brewery opened in Sonoma, California. The New Albion Brewery was short lived, but was America’s first microbrewery or craft brewery.

    Here’s a really interesting chronology of beer brewing in America.
     
    CRAFT BEER & FOOD

    Tom Acitelli, author of the The Audacity of Hops: The History of America’s Craft Beer Revolution, sent us these little-known events that shaped the bond between American craft beer and good food.

  • Pairing Beer & Food. Englishman Michael Jackson was already the world’s best-known beer critic when he wrote a long piece for The Washington Post, the week before Thanksgiving 1983. He advised on which beers to pair with which parts of the national feast (for the turkey itself, he recommended Bavarian pales). It was the first time a major American newspaper published a serious article about pairing beer with food.
  • Beer Dinners. In September 1985, a legendary beer bar, the Brickskeller in Washington, D.C., hosted a meeting of the Cornell Alumni Association. Attendees paid $15 each to drink 10 different beers with a dinner. It was the first commercially run sit-down beer dinner in the U.S.
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  • International Acclaim. In October 1998, a handful of American craft brewers flew to Turin, Italy with their beers to attend Salon del Gusto, the biennial convention of the Slow Food movement. They were greeted like rock stars. It was the first time European gourmands embraced American brewers and beers in such a public way.
  • Craft Beer Every Day. In 2003 Garrett Oliver, brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewery, published The Brewmaster’s Table. At 384 pages, it was not only the lengthiest guide to date on how to pair beer with food, but the first to explain how to really incorporate craft beer into everyday meals.
  • Craft Beer At The White House. During a Super Bowl party on February 6, 2011, President and Mrs. Obama served a honey ale made by the White House Mess using the honey from a beehive on the mansion’s grounds—the first time brewing had ever been done in the 210-year history of the White House. When the recipe was released in September 2012, it caused a run on honey at homebrew shops nationwide.
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    CHECK OUT OUR BEER GLOSSARY: THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BEER.
     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Authentic Irish Beer Styles

    Forget the green beer on St. Patrick’s Day: It’s going to be the cheapest brew on tap. Who would color craft beer green? If you must do so, go for the palest style, Wheat Beer, a.k.a. Weissbier, Weizenbier and Witbier. It takes the color best.

    Instead of the green stuff, consider two beer styles with authentic Irish roots: Dry Stout and Red Ale. American craft brewers from coast to coast make them. In fact, Irish Red Ale is more popular in the U.S. these days than in Ireland!

    Dig in to the two styles below, and check out the other types of beers in our Beer Glossary.

    IRISH-STYLE DRY STOUT

    Stouts are a higher-alcohol version of porter (7% A.B.V.* or higher), a dark beer made from roasted malt or roasted barley, hops, water and yeast.

    All Stouts are Porters, but they are the stronger Porters (the “stoutest” ones). You can review their history and brewing techniques at BeerConnoisseur.com.

    There are different Stout styles, including American Sweet Stout; Baltic Porter; Milk Stout/Sweet Stout/English Sweet Stout, made with lactose, milk sugar; and Imperial Stout/Russian Imperial Stout, a style first brewed in the 18th century for export to the court of Catherine the Great.
     
    *A.B.V. stands for Alcohol By Volume, the percent of alcohol in the beverage.

       

    Dry Irish Stout

    Guinness, the world’s most famous Stout. Annual sales are almost $2 billion. Photo courtesy Romano.

     

    But the most common style of Stout is Dry Stout, the Irish-style Stout represented by Guinness Draught, the world’s best selling Stout. In the early 20th century, when Milk Stout/Sweet Stout became the dominant style in England, Ireland maintained a preference for the non-sweet or Dry Stout, also known as Standard Stout. With the world dominance of Guinness, it is now simply referred to as Stout.

    Irish-style Dry Stouts are black in color with notes of coffee-like roasted barley and a roasted malt aroma. The hop bitterness is medium to medium high. The head is tan or tan-tinged.

     
    DRY STOUT FOOD PAIRINGS

  • Irish pub food: Beef Stew, Corned Beef & Cabbage, Fish & Chips, Guinness Beef Stew, Shepherd’s Pie.
  • Lamb kebabs (marinate them in Guinness) or pot roast with Guinness.
  • Burger or bacon burger, chicken or turkey sandwich, corned beef or Reuben sandwich, grilled cheese.
  • Dessert: anything mad with Guinness (Guinness Chocolate Mousse, Guinness Chocolate Cake or Cupcakes, Guinness Float, Guinness & Rum Milkshake, Spice Cake or Carrot Cake.
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    STOUTS TO LOOK FOR

    Dry stouts made by American craft brewers include:

  • Black Cat Stout from Portsmouth Brewing (Portsmouth, NH)
  • Black Sun Stout from 3 Floyds Brewing Co. (Munster, IN)
  • Blarney Sisters’ Dry Irish Stout from Third Street Aleworks (Santa Rosa, CA)
  • Blue Fin Stout from Shipyard Brewing Co. (Portland, ME)
  • Dark Starr Stout from Starr Hill Brewery (Crozet, VA)
  • Donnybrook Stout from Victory Brewing Co. (Downingtown, PA)
  • Moylan’s Dragoons Dry Irish Stout from Moylan’s Brewery (Novato, CA)
  • Old No. 38 from North Coast Brewing (Fort Bragg, CA)
  • O.V.L. Stout from Russian River Brewing Co. (Santa Rosa, CA)
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    Taste them next to Guinness Draught and any other imported Irish stouts you come across, such as Murphy’s Irish Stout, O’Hara’s Celtic Stout, Porterhouse Brewing Co. Oyster Stout.

    You may also find Guinness Black Lager, a lager style made with stout’s roasted barley, which provides the dark color and fuller body; and Harp Lager, a conventional style.

     

    Irish Red Ale

    Imported from the Emerald Isle: Smithwicks Red Irish Ale, the first modern Irish Red Ale.

     

    IRISH RED ALE

    Traditional0 Irish Red Ales seems to have originated in 1710 at the Smithwick Brewery in Kilkenny. Today, Red Ales are even more popular in the U.S. than in Ireland.

    The reddish or coppery hue is a result of brewing with a percentage of kilned malts and roasted barley. The style focuses on strong malt flavors with a light hoppiness and slight nuttiness/roastiness from the roasted grains.

    Irish Red Ales are usually well balanced, with an average A.B.V. of 3.5% to 5%, although you can find brews with up to 8% alcohol. You may find hints of caramel and toffee from the malt notes, along with a crisp, dry finish.
     
    IRISH RED ALE FOOD PAIRINGS

  • For snacking, put out some smoked or toasted almonds, and mild or fruity cheeses (like fresh goat cheese or Asiago) with walnuts.
  • For a starter, serve a goat cheese salad or a green salad with toasted nuts (a nut oil vinaigrette is a home run).
  • For a main, consider grilled pork, poultry and Irish pub food: Bangers and Mash, mutton and Shepherd’s Pie.
  • Dessert: The caramel and toffee notes of the ale pair well with crème brûlée or plain cheesecake.
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    AMERICAN CRAFT RED ALES TO LOOK FOR

  • Riverbank Red from Ghost River Brewing (Memphis, TN)
  • Erik the Red from Dragonmead Microbrewery (Warren, MI)
  • Irish Red from Boston Beer Co. (Boston, MA)
  • Irish Setter Red from Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. (Akron, OH)
  • Lucky SOB from Flying Dog Brewery (Frederick, MD)
  • Seamus’ Irish Red Ale from Sly Fox Brewing Co. (Phoenixville, PA)
  • Spring Irish Red Ale from Newport Storm Brewery (Newport, RI)
  • Red Trolley Ale from Karl Strauss Brewing Co. (San Diego, CA)
  • Thomas Creek River Falls Red Ale from Thomas Creek Brewery (Greenville, SC)
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    For Irish imports, look for Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale, Murphy’s Irish Red and Smithwick’s Irish Ale. If you want to add another style, pick up some O’Hara’s Irish Wheat, a golden ale.
     
    Thanks to Heather Galanty and the Brewers Association for this material.

      

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    ST. PATRICK’S DAY RECIPES: Irish Spuds & Green Dip With Green Beer

    Green Beer & Fries

    Green Food Color

    St. Pat’s snack: wedge fries, green dip and a green beer. You can color any light-hued food green. Photos courtesy McCormick.

     

    For St. Patrick’s Day you’ll be able to buy green-tinted bagels, beer, donuts, and more; but you can also plan to color your own foods.

    Chocolate chip cookies? Mashed potatoes? Milk? Oatmeal? Pancakes? With a bottle of green food color you can have a blast/

    Here are three recipes from McCormick, maker of that green food color, to add to the collection: Irish Spuds With Green Ranch Dip, Green Beer and Leprechaun Lemonade.

    For St. Patrick’s Day fun, color your food green.

    Here, roasted potato wedges and crudites are dipped in a green-tinted ranch dressing and served with green beer or “Leprechaun Lemonade.”

     
    RECIPE: IRISH SPUDS WITH GREEN RANCH DIP

    Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 30 minutes.

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 2 pounds russet* baking potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon dried parsley or other green herb
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup ranch dressing†
  • 1/4 teaspoon green food color (20 to 25 drops)
  • Crudités: 2-3 varieties of raw vegetables
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    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F. Cut the potatoes into 3-1/2-inch wedges and place them in a large bowl. Add the oil and toss to coat well.

    2. MIX the chili powder, optional parsley and salt. Sprinkle over the potatoes and toss to coat evenly. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer in foil-lined 15x10x1-inch baking pan.

    3. BAKE for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender and golden brown. While the potatoes are baking, slice the crudités.

    4. MIX the ranch dressing and food color in medium bowl until well blended. Serve it as a dip with the potato wedges and crudités.
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    *Idaho is a brand name for russet potatoes grown in Idaho.
    †If you want to make your own dressing, here’s a ranch dressing recipe.

     
    RECIPE: GREEN BEER

    Ingredients Per 12-Ounce Beer

  • 1 can (12 ounces) light-colored beer (Pale Ale, Pilsner or other Pale Lager, Wheat Beer)
  • 5 to 6 drops green food color
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    Preparation

    1. PLACE the food color in a glass. Add the beer and stir gently until evenly tinted.

     

    RECIPE: LEPRECHAUN LEMONADE

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 cups lemonade‡
  • 1/2 teaspoon raspberry extract
  • 15 drops green food color
  • Ice cubes
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    Preparation

    1. MIX all ingredients in a pitcher. Pour into ice-filled glasses.
     
    Variations

  • For Strawberry Leprechaun Lemonade, use replace the raspberry extract with strawberry extract.
  • For an adult version, stir in 1/2 cup Limoncello or a clear spirit (cachaça, gin, rum, tequila, vodka); or 1/4 cup of each.
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    Green Lemonade Recipe

    Leprechaun Lemonade can be turned into a cocktail with Limoncello and/or a clear spirit. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     
    __________________________
    ‡Here’s a recipe for homemade lemonade.

      

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    PRODUCT: Cold Snap Beer & Hot Toddy Recipe

    Samuel Adams Cold Snap Ale

    Hot Toddy

    Drink it from a glass, drink it as a toddy. Top photo courtesy BestBeerHQ.com; bottom photo courtesy Wonderful Brands.

     

    What’s with the weather around here? Every few days it switches from spring to winter and back.

    Today it’s snowing: a cold snap. Time to drink the last of the Cold Snap beer we received from Samuel Adams.

    An unfiltered white ale with crisp wheat and citrus notes, Cold Snap complements lighter fish dishes like sushi and smoked salmon. The maltiness also tempers the heat in cuisines like Indian and Thai.

    And Cold Snap’s spiciness (sweet orange peel and plum, peppery coriander) works with desserts like spice cake and fruit tarts.

    For the winter chill, there’s even a…

    RECIPE: SAMUEL ADAMS COLD SNAP HOT TODDY

    Beer simple syrup? How can you resist?

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 3.5 ounces Samuel Adams Cold Snap
  • 3.5 ounces sugar
  • 2 ounces Earl Grey tea (heated to 170°F)
  • 1.5 ounces Bourbon
  • Garnish: lemon wheel, cinnamon stick
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    Preparation

    1. MAKE the beer sugar syrup. Combine the sugar and beer in a large pitcher or pot. Whisk lightly to dissolve the sugar. Pour the mixture into another pitcher or pot of the same size. Repeat this process every 5 minutes until the head of the beer is completely gone. Store the syrup in a glass jar in the fridge until ready to use. Then…

     

    2. COMBINE the Cold Snap syrup and bourbon in a glass and top with the hot tea. Let the drink sit for a few minutes to cool and allow the ingredients to marry. Garnish with a lemon wheel and/or cinnamon stick and serve.

    Here’s more about Cold Snap.

     
      

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    VALENTINE’S DAY: Chocolate Stout, Sriracha Stout & Moonstruck Beer Chocolates

    Rogue Chocolate Stout

    Special chocolate craft brews for your
    Valentine. Photo courtesy Rogue Ales.

     

    Here’s what to get a beer-loving Valentine: two stouts created specifically for the occasion and some hot stuff.

  • Rogue Chocolate Stout, with a special Valentine-red label on a 750 ml bottle, is Rogue’s platinum award-winning Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout (one of the highest rated stouts in the world), infused with Dutch chocolate.
  • Rogue Double Chocolate Stout is an amplification of its Chocolate Stout, with big, rich flavors of chocolate, rolled oats, and honey. The 750ml bright red bottle is only available through the end of February.
  • Sriracha Hot Stout. If your Valentine prefers heat to chocolate, look for Rogue Sriracha Hot Stout. The only beer officially sanctioned by Huy Fong Foods (makers of the original Sriracha “Rooster” Hot Sauce) the heat is back for a limited time. Ebony-hued, with rich notes of caramelized malts and warm, slow burn on the finish, it’s also in a bright red bottle.
  • Special Stout Glass. To enhance the stout experience, Rogue collaborated with Spiegelau to create a special stout glass. Expertly crafted, it was designed to accentuate the roasted malt and rich coffee and chocolate notes of Rogue stouts.
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    There’s more information at Rogue.com.

     

    CHOCOLATE BEER TRUFFLES

    Oregon’s Moonstruck Chocolate collaborated with top Oregon craft brewers to develop a superb beer truffle collection.

    The chocolate truffles are rich, nutty sweet, dark and intense, and fresh and hoppy, depending on the beer. Each 12-pack collection features three each of:

  • Deschutes Brewery Black Butte Porter Truffle
  • Full Sail Brewing Co. IPA Truffle
  • Rogue Ales Hazelnut Brown Nectar Truffle
  • Widmer Brother’s Brewing Hefeweizen Truffle
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    Get yours at MoonstruckChocolate.com.

     

    Beer Truffles

    Beer truffles from Moonstruck Chocolate. Yes, they’re shaped like corks.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Winter Beer Styles

    Today is the first full day of winter, which begins late this evening (11:48 p.m. EST). It’s the shortest day of the year, with the least amount of daylight.

    The good news is, starting tomorrow daylight hours will start getting longer. But there’s still plenty of time to celebrate winter with winter beers. They’re just waiting for you to pluck them from store shelves.

    If you’re serving beer for Christmas or New Year’s Eve, make a special effort to pick some up. Even if your area has limited craft beer offerings, Samuel Adams has a Winter Lager that should be in every store that sells the brand.

    Winter beers are brewed in the fall for winter release. Brewers work a season in advance, since it takes three months or so to assemble the special ingredients, brew the beer and let it mature before release.
     
    WHY WINTER BEERS ARE DIFFERENT

    Winter beers tend to be the strongest beers made by brewers. This follows the pattern of seasonal food and drink being heartier in the winter and lighter in the summer.

  • The color of winter beer is usually darker—cooper to deep amber hues—and the body is fuller.
  • There is often some winter spice seasoning, making the flavor more complex. This can range from the pumpkin pie spice group (allspice, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg) to holiday flavors like ginger and molasses. They may even get some actual pumpkin tossed into the mash (identified as pumpkin beers and ales).
  • They are often higher in alcohol.
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    PARTY TIME

    Whether for holiday entertaining, a tasting party to brighten the January doldrums, Super Bowl Sunday or Valentine’s Day, you can put together an interesting assortment.

    Brad Smith of Beersmith advises these styles for the winter season:

  • Barley Wine*
  • Christmas/Winter Beer, Holiday Ales
  • Scotch Ale, Old Ale
  • Smoked Rauchbier
  • Stout, Porter and other dark beers
  • Winter Wheat and Bock Beers
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    Here’s one beer site’s recommendation of 24 top winter beers.

    See THE NIBBLE’s beer glossary for the different types of beer.

     

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    Winter Beer

     
    *Barley wine needs much longer than beer and ale—a year instead of three months. While barley wine may sound like it belongs in a warmer season, it is typically brewed ts an alcohol strength of 8% to 12% A.B.V. The word “wine” was bestowed because this range of alcohol is similar to wine. But as the name also says, it is made from barley, not fruit, so it is without doubt beer.

      

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    RECIPE: Sausage Sliders & Winter Lager

    Sausage Sliders

    Samuel Adams Winter Lager Tap

    TOP PHOTO: The National Pork Board recommends these sliders with your lager. BOTTOM PHOTO: Samuel Adams Winter Lager, in bottles, cans and on tap.

     

    December 10th is National Lager Day; the entire second week in December is Lager Beer Week. Here’s a special slider recipe from the National Pork Boardto go with your lager.

    The recipe combines the retro appeal of deviled eggs with the modern fondness for sliders, although the recipe makes an egg salad instead of a filling for hard-boiled egg white halves.

    You can make the sliders for brunch, lunch or game day snacking.

    Don’t like sausage patties? Substitute bacon, Canadian bacon or thick-sliced ham for the sausage. Don’t like cilantro? Use baby arugula or watercress.

    Prep time is 20 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes.

    RECIPE: SAUSAGE & DEVILED EGG SALAD SLIDERS

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 8 breakfast pork sausage patties (about 12 ounces total), about 3 inches in diameter*
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha or other hot chili sauce, or more to taste
  • Salt
  • 2 cups cilantro sprigs (leaves and tender stems)
  • 8 soft dinner rolls, split horizontally
  • Optional garnish: gherkins or olives (with toothpicks)
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    *If you can’t find ready-made patties, shape 12 ounces of loose breakfast sausage into eight 3-inch patties. Or substitute bacon, Canadian bacon or thick-sliced ham.

     
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the eggs in a medium saucepan and add enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Cover, remove from the heat, and let stand 15 minutes. Meanwhile…

    2. COOK the sausage patties in a large skillet over medium heat, until browned and cooked through (2 to 3 minutes per side). Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and cover loosely to keep warm.

    3. DRAIN the eggs and transfer to a bowl of ice water. When cool enough to handle, peel and coarsely chop the eggs. In a large bowl, combine the chopped eggs, mayonnaise, chives, mustard and sriracha. Season with salt, taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Set aside.

    4. ARRANGE the cilantro sprigs on the bottom halves of the rolls. Top with the sausage patties, egg salad and top halves of rolls. Add the optional olive or gherkin and serve.

    NOW FOR THE LAGER

    We’ll publish an article on winter beers on the first day of winter, but here’s an advance preview of winter lager. Numerous craft breweries make them.

    The easiest one to find is Samuel Adams Winter Lager; but also look for Mustang, Wolverine, Stark and possibilities from y your local breweries.

    You’ll also find “Christmas ale” or seasonal beers and ales from other brewers that are similar: brewed with winter spices (cinnamon, orange peel, maple syrup, nutmeg or whatever the brewer favors). A quick search turned up beers from Blue Moon, Brooklyn Brewery and Great Lakes Brewing Co.

    Other beer types are also “wintrified,” including the fancifully named Abominable Ale from Hopworks, Old Man Winter White Ale from Southern Tier Brewing, Brrrr Red Ale from Widmer Brothers and Siberian Night Imperial Stout from Thirsty Dog.

    But it’s National Lager Day. We raise a glass to the German and Bohemian immigrants who brought lagering to the U.S.A., which previously had only ale†. The first lager brewmaster appears to have been one John Wagner from Bavaria, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1840, carrying with him a supply of lager yeast. The rest is history.

    †Yeast that enables lagering was not discovered until the 1700s, believed to have been unwittingly transported on a ship from South America. The written record on ale dates to ancient Mesopotamia.
     
      

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    PRODUCT & TOUR : The Angry Orchard Cider Experience

    Here’s the question: Why is Angry Orchard cider angry?

    You learn that the name reflects the apple varieties used to make hard cider*, some of which are not as pretty as eating apples, and therefore “angry.” Or that the trees get gnarled as they age.

    That might be true with the cider apples imported from Europe and their parent trees; but at a recent visit to an Angry Orchard orchard in New York State, we observed only charming groves with pretty apples hanging from pert apple trees. We’ll have to take their word about the angry part.

    In fact, if you have the occasion to visit Angry Orchard’s new visitor center in New York State, you might call it “Happy Orchard.” There is much to make a visitor happy.

    THE NEW INNOVATION CIDER HOUSE

    The cider makers at Angry Orchard have been crafting ciders for 20 years, but had been looking to establish a cider research center. They found a 60-acre orchard located in the heart of the Hudson Valley, in New York State. They built a new space for the cider makers to conduct small batch experimentation, developing new cider styles.

    After months of planning and constructing, Angry Orchard’s Innovation Cider House in Walden, New York has opened its doors and welcomed visitors to tour the facility. The experimental ciders they create are served exclusively at the cidery’s tasting room.

    Above the cidery is a charming museum with tidbits about the history of cider, and actual equipment that was used before modern sorters, crushers and other equipment came onto the scene.

    There is also a shop with cider-abilia and bottles of the hard-to-find ciders like the Cider House Collection (there’s more about it below). You can also take home growler of cider from the retail line. Both are wonderful gifts for cider lovers.

    The Innovation Cider House has been open during select weekends in November, enabling visitors to learn about hard cider and try samples of the experimental ciders.

    For the first season, dates and times are very limited. There’s one weekend left this year:

  • Friday, November 20, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Saturday, November 21, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Sunday, November 22, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
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    If you love cider, it’s worth the trip. There are also wonderful restaurants in the area, plenty of inns and other things to see.

       
    Cider Apples At Angry Orchard

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    TOP PHOTO: Different cider apples. MIDDLE PHOTO: We tasted the apples (some yummy, some for blending but not for eating). BOTTOM PHOTO: A vintage pickup truck from the cider museum. Photos by Rowann Gilman | THE NIBBLE.

     
    We were already fans of the retail line, and absolutely loved the experiments. We won’t say more about them under THE NIBBLE policy that if readers can’t get hold of it, we won’t focus on it.

    The Cider Innovation House is located at 2241 Albany Post Road in Walden, New York. Take a left at the red barn and drive past the orchard to visitor parking. Everything is complimentary; to sample the ciders you must be at least 21 years old with a valid ID.

    If you can’t get there in person, you can visit the orchard online.
     
    ANGRY ORCHARD CIDERS

    Angry Orchard makes a variety of craft cider styles:

  • The Core Collection: Apple Ginger, Crisp Apple (the flagship), Green Apple, Hop’n Mad Apple and Stone Dry
  • Seasonal Ciders: Summer Honey and Cinnful Apple
  • The Cider House Collection†: Iceman, Strawman and The Muse
  •  
    To find where Angry Orchard hard cider is served near you, visit the cider finder on the brand’s website.

     

    Angry Orchard Cider Glass

    Angry Orchard Cider House Collection

    TOP PHOTO: Angry Orchard Stone Dry Cider with the brand’s new cider glass, specifically designed to showcase aromas and flavors. BOTTOM PHOTO: The Cider House Collection, small batch ciders in larger formats. Photos courtesy Angry Orchard.

     

    CIDER VS. BEER IN THE U.S.

    During colonial times and beyond, hard cider was one of the most popular alcoholic beverages, due to the abundance of apples. Beer was much less important.

    But in the 19th century, waves of beer-drinking German immigrants brought their lager recipes with them and set up shop. Soon beer became very popular.

    Prohibition dealt a serious blow to hard cider production. Although beer was also proscribed, when Prohibition ended it was easy to buy barley, hops and malt and start brewing again. It took years to replant cider apple orchards and grow trees to the point where they bore usable fruit. Even today, traditional cider apples are hard to find in the U.S.

    Cider has finally experienced a renaissance, which is gluten free (beer isn’t, although there are some gluten free beers).

    Brands like Crispin and Woodchuck captured the interest of American quaffers, along with imports like Magner’s. Smaller American brands like Farnum Hill Extra Dry, Foggy Ridge Serious Cider and West County Cider have found broader audiences.

    Creative cider makers like Original Sin press their apples with tart cherries (to create Original Sin Cherry Tree). Doc’s Hard Apple is an earthy style that pairs well with mushroom dishes and washed rind cheeses.

    But the king of cider is Angry Orchard, a brand of the Boston Beer Company, parent of Samuel Adams beer. It launched Angry Orchard in 2012, and had the distribution and marketing power to quickly become the country’s largest cider brand.

    Now, go forth and try as much as you can.
     
    *In the U.S., alcoholic cider is called hard cider, to differentiate it from fresh apple cider, called cider. Everywhere else in the world, cider refers to the alcoholic beverage. Hard cider is made from fresh apple juice which has undergone two different types of fermentation.

    †These artisanal hard ciders represent three distinct styles, and are produced in small batches, using traditional cider apples from France and Italy and France and aged on oak. They are 10% A.B.V. (Alcohol By Volume), twice as much alcohol as the regular line, and are sold in 750 ml bottles.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Beer Cocktails (Beertails)

    Pumpkin beer cocktails have sprouted at watering holes all over town. We’ve got two great recipes that use pumpkin beer or ale, plus tips on how to dress up a regular brew in seasonal flavors.

    Even people who aren’t beer lovers can enjoy a beertail. As long as you like pumpkin pie, you’ll like these.

    First up is a beertail from OhSweetJoy.com.

    RECIPE: PUMPKIN BEERTAIL (BEER COCKTAIL)

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 3 parts pumpkin beer or ale
  • 2 parts sparkling apple cider
  • 1 part hard apple cider
  • Garnish: cinnamon stick or pumpkin spice rim (recipe below)
     
    Preparation

    1. RIM the glass, if using the pumpkin spice rim (instructions below).

    2. ADD the ingredients to the glass, giving the beertail one gentle stir so as not to break the bubbles.

    3. GARNISH with a cinnamon stick (if not using the spice rim).

  •    

    pumpkin_beer_cocktail-ohsweetjoy-ps-230r

    Turn a bottle of pumpkin beer or ale into a fall “beertail.” Photo courtesy OhSweetJoy.com.

     
    RECIPE: PUMPKIN PUNCH

    This second recipe, from Herradura Tequila, combines vodka with pumpkin ale, canned pumpkin and orange juice. If you don’t like vodka, you can substitute apple brandy, spiced rum, even a split between plain rum and hazelnut liqueur, like Frangelico.

    This is a sweet cocktail, so test the recipe first. You can omit the agave if it’s too sweet for you.

    Why is this recipe called “punch?”

    Punch is a general term for a broad assortment of mixed drinks, made with or without alcohol. While punch generally contains fruit or fruit juice, fruit isn’t essential. Nor is an elegant punch bowl required. A pitcher is fine, and in many cases, it’s more practical.

    Punch was discovered in India by the British sailors of the East India Company. The concept was brought to England in the early 17th century, some 150 years before sparkling beverages were available to replace the water. From there punch spread to other countries.

    Carbonated water wasn’t available commercially until 1783. Then, J.J. Schweppe developed a process to manufacture carbonated mineral water, based on the the process discovered by Joseph Priestley in 1767.

    The word “punch” derives from the Hindi word, “panch.” In India, panch was made from five different ingredients: sugar, lemon, water, tea or spices and an alcoholic spirit. The word for “five” in Sanskrit is panchan; hence the name.

     

    pumpkin-punch-beer-vodka-herradura-230

    Can’t live without vodka? This recipe combines it with pumpkin beer. Photo courtesy Herradura Tequila.

     

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces Herradura Reposado or substitute*
  • 2 ounces pumpkin ale
  • 1 ounce orange juice
  • 1 ounce canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 ounce agave
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters (or other bitters)
  • Ice
  • Optional garnish: star anise pod, orange peel or wheel
  •  
    Preparation

    1. FILL a cocktail shaker with ice cubes and all ingredients except the garnish. Shake and strain into a glass filled with ice cubes.

    2. GARNISH and serve.

    NOTE: We made multiple portions in a pitcher with pre-chilled ingredients. Instead of shaking, we whisked the ingredients in the pitcher. We then dropped an ice “hockey puck,” frozen in an empty soup can, into the pitcher. The larger the piece of ice, the slower it melts.

     

    TURN A REGULAR BEER INTO “PUMPKIN BEER” WITH A PUMPKIN SPICE RIM

    Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the sugar and spices in a saucer or low bowl. Moisten the rim of the glass with water.

    2. DIP the moistened rim into the spice mix and twist to coat.
     
    OTHER WAYS TO DRESS UP A PUMPKIN COCKTAIL

  • Top with a dash of pumpkin pie spice.
  • Garnish with an apple or pear slice.
  • Spice up with a cinnamon stick or star anise.
  • Skewer candy corn onto a cocktail pick.
  •  
    *Reposado tequila, aged up to a year, takes on a light yellow and more complex flavors than blanco, or silver, tequila. Given the number of flavorful ingredients in this drink, you can substitute blanco if that’s what you have on hand.

      

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