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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.

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.

    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.

    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)


    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!


    Hops Growing

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




    TIP OF THE DAY: Oktoberfest Party Beer Tasting

    Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

    Soft Pretzels Recipe

    [1] Pumpkin ales and beers can be found from late September through year-end, “while supplies last” (photo courtesy Dogfish Head Brewery. [2] Bake a batch of soft pretzels to go with the beer (photo courtesy Taste Of Home).


    We received this beer menu from Empire City Casino, in the suburbs of New York City, part of their Oktoberfest celebration:

    1. Spaten Lager
    2. Spaten Oktoberfest
    3. Goose Island Oktoberfest
    4. Franziskaner Hefe-weisse
    5. Coney Island Freaktobefest
    6. New Belgian Cranberry Pumpkin
    7. Two Roads No Limits Hefeweizen
    8. Captain Lawrence Pumpkin
    9. Victory Fest Beer
    10. BitBurger Pilsner
    11. Bells Best Brown
    12. Southern Tier PUMPKING
    13. Warsteiner Oktoberfest
    14. Badass Apple Cider
    15. Atwater Blueberry Cobbler
    16. Dogfish Head Pumpkin Patch
    They’ll be served with German-inspired foods, from brats and soft pretzels to schnitzel hoagies.

    While we don’t gamble, we do drink craft beer; and we’ve had only one beer on the list. The solution was simple:

  • Craft brews with fall themes offer many choices.
  • For cider devotees, have an “Oktoberfest” cider tasting with fall-themed ciders: Angry Orchard Crisp Apple, Hop‘n Mad Apple Ginger, Cinnful Apple; Woodchuck’s Just Like Apple Pie, and others.
  • For Halloween, focus on Halloween beers and ciders.
    While the original Oktoberfest in Munich runs for two weeks, through mid-October, you can hold a party anytime in October.

    Unlike the beers at the Munich Oktoberfest, which represent just six breweries, you can try all the craft beer you can find, along the themes of:

  • Fall beer styles: brown ale, Dunkelweizen, English pale ale, harvest ale*, Märzen/Oktoberfest beer
  • Fall flavors: cranberry ale and kriek, nutty brews, pumpkin beer and ale
  • Halloween beer: It’s all in the name and the label design: Black Death, Ichabod, The Fear, Ghost Stories, Howling Wolf, Krieky Bones, Wytchmaker, Zombie Dust, etc.
    *Harvest ale is not a defined style of beer, but a common name for different beers brewed for fall harvest celebrations and general consumption.



    1. DETERMINE THE ATTENDEES. Then determine how much beer you need. If you’re not buying all the beer yourself assign a brand to each person. The easiest way to do this is to have attendees scout out options and let you know what they’d like to contribute.

    Provide juice glasses or 4-ounce disposable cups. The idea is to taste smaller amounts of 10 beers, not to drink 10 bottles of beer.

    2. DECIDE ON THE FOOD. Brats, sauerkraut, soft pretzels (recipe) and mustard will do the trick. If anyone asks if they can bring food, German potato salad, Blaukraut (red cabbage sauerkraut) or a dessert (see #4 below). Or, they can bake soft pretzels. Here’s more about Oktoberfest food.

    3. BUFFET OR SIT-DOWN? The choice is yours. Be sure to have soft drinks, a non-alcoholic cider or punch, or other alternative to keep blood alcohol levels down.

    4. DECIDE ON DESSERT. Easy-to-make or -find desserts include the Berliner (a jelly donut sprinkled with powdered sugar), Black Forest cake, carrot cake, cheesecake here’s a no-bake pumpkin cheesecake), Gugelhupf (Bundt cake—here’s an apple streusel Bundt cake recipe), Lebkuchen (spice cookies—gingerbread is fine, along with a gingerbread dip), Linzer cookies or torte, pfeffernüsse (spice cookies with black pepper), strudel, stollen (fruitcake) and our favorite German treat, chocolate-covered marzipan.

    5. PLAY GERMAN MUSIC. See if anyone already has Oktoberfest music (there’s plenty of it on Amazon). Polka music, which originated in Bohemia (the modern Czech Republic), will also work. If you’d prefer German rock, here are the Top 10 German rock bands.

    6. BONUS: Consider a small prize for the best German folk clothing: Lederhosen or a dirndl skirt and apron.

    Some German mustard or Weisswurst†, perhaps?
    †Weisswurst is the famous Bavarian white sausage made from ground veal and pork.


    Freaktoberfest Pumpkin Ale

    Samuel Adams Cranberry Lambic

    [3] Freaktoberfest Pumpkin Ale adds a layer of flavor with espresso beans (photo courtesy Coney Island Brewing Company). [4] You can even find cranberry beer, like this lambic from Samuel Adams (photo courtesy Boston Brewing Company).




    TIP OF THE DAY: Pairing Beer With Summer Produce

    Grilled Mushrooms & Beer

    Elote - Mexican Corn

    [1] Grilled mushrooms and grilled pineapple with baby arugula and shaved parmesan. Enjoy the earthy mushrooms with a darker beer: amber lager, porter, or stout (photo courtesy Urban Accents). [2] Corn should be enjoyed with a lighter beer: American lager, German wheat beer or saison. Here’s the recipe for this delicious plate of elote, Mexican corn on the cob (photo courtesy Good Eggs | SF.


    Last Week was National Farmers Market Week, but all of us should support our local farmers every week. It’s where the season’s freshest local ingredients can be found.

    Even in the depths of winter, where there is no fresh produce in our region, we go to buy apple cider, applesauce, baked goods, kimchi, pickles and anything else they make.

    The folks at (Let’s Grab a Beer) took the opportunity to pair beer styles with particular types of produce. They selected some summer fruits and vegetables and paired them with beer styles that bring out the flavors in the food.

    For your next cook-out or hang-out, try these recommendations and see if you agree.

    If you need an explanation of a particular beer style, head to our Beer Glossary.
    Chile Peppers
    Beer Styles: American Lager or IPA.
    Pairing Notes: Spicy, hoppy beers are a great choice for chiles, whether served raw in a dish, grilled shishito peppers or roasted poppers (stuffed jalapeños). Lager can help to tame the heat if the dish is too fiery.
    Beer Styles: American Lager, German Wheat Beer or Saison.
    Pairing Notes: A light and slightly sweet beer will complement each bite of the sweet corn and salty butter. Try it with everything from corn salad to elote, Mexican seasoned corn on the cob.
    Green Beans
    Beer Styles: English Brown Ale or Belgian Wheat Beer (Witbier).
    Pairing Notes: Green beans tend to go well with beers that are both malty and sweet like the English Brown Ale. If you prefer your green beans with a citrusy dressing, try a Belgian Wheat Beer instead.
    Grilled Mushrooms
    Beer Styles: Amber Lager, Porter, Stout.
    Notes: The roasted flavor of malted barley in these darker beers complements the earthiness of mushrooms. Try them with grilled stuffed mushrooms, or in a portabella salad with feta, this one with goat cheese or a grilled corn salad (no cheese). For a great beer snack or warm-up to dinner, try this Mexican layered salad, great as a beer snack.
    Beer Styles: American Light Lager, German Wheat Beer, or Belgian Wheat Beer.
    Pairing Notes: The fruity flavors produced by the yeast in German Wheat beers will often match up well with certain melon flavor profiles.


    Beer Styles: Belgian Wheat Beer (Witbier) or German Wheat Beer (Weissbier).
    Pairing Notes: The lighter style and vibrant and citrusy flavors of wheat beer complement herbaceous greens. Mix greens into a salad with any fruit, accented with a crumbled dry cheese, like feta. Some of our go-to recipes: watermelon and feta salad (or strawberries, or both fruits) and spicy radishes with stone fruit and feta,
    Strawberries, Raspberries, Chocolate-Dipped Fruit
    Beer Styles: American Light Lager, American Stout, Chocolate Stout, Fruit Beer, Imperial Stout, Pale Ale.
    Pairing Notes: In addition to fruit beers like lambic and kriek, turn to American beers and ales: American hops impart citrus flavors and aromas to beers. With chocolate-dipped fruits, darker beers with more heavily roasted barley provide great fusion. For a true beer dessert check out this Chocolate Stout Float recipe. You can make it with chocolate stout or Guinness.
    Beer Styles:r American Amber Ale, American Lager, IPA.
    Pairing Notes: The hoppy flavors of these beers accent the acidity of tomatoes, while their slight sweetness harmonizes with different types of tomato sauces. Here are ways to use summer tomatoes for every meal of the day.

    For a cheese course, snack, or an accent to other recipes, try these pairings:
    Acidic Cheeses (e.g. Sharp Cheddar)
    Beer Styles: American Pale Ale, IPA, Porter.
    Pairing Notes: Sharp cheeses are generally more bitter, and thus well suited to the bitterness found in hoppier beers. For some contrast to an acidic cheese, also try porter.
    Nutty Cheeses (e.g. Gruyère)
    Beer Styles: American IPA, Dark Lager, Oktoberfest Ale.
    Pairing Notes: For harder cheeses that have a nutty aftertaste, pick a beer that is more barley-forward yet balanced. For contrast, try an American pale ale.
    Tangy Cheeses (e.g. Goat Cheese)
    Beer Styles: American Light Lager, Belgian Wheat Beer.
    Pairing Notes: The fruity and citrusy flavors of wheat beers sync up beautifully with tangy cheeses. These bright, carbonated beers are refreshing in warmer weather.
    Beer Styles: Amber Lager, English Brown Ale.
    Pairing Notes: For nuts that are both salted and roasted, go with a darker beer that has some complementary roasted barley flavors. These two styles also have a refreshingly crisp finish.
    Now, put some pairings together to see what you like best.


    Honeydew & Cucumber Salad

    Heirloom Tomato Salad

    Strawberries & Balsamic Vinegar

    [1] Melon dishes like this honeydew and cucumber salad are delicious with wheat beer and light lagers (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [2] The best tomatoes of the summer—heirloom tomatoes—are splendid with an American ale, lager or IPA. [3] A classic Italian dessert, strawberries with a balsamic drizzle (and optional shaved Parmesan) pair best with citrussy beers and dark beers. Here, the berries are served with raw sugar and lemon zest for dipping (photo courtesy Driscoll’s.




    PRODUCT: Rogue Ale’s American Amber Ale For Independence Day

    Oregon craft brewer Rogue Ales toasts America with the annual release of its American Amber Ale.

    It’s the brew’s 28th year, and has been our beer of choice for July 4th celebrations since we first came across it.

  • Another Independence Day favorite is Liberty Ale (center photo), an IPA from San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing Company.
  • Hell Or High Watermelon, which we haven’t been able to get hold of, shows the Statue of Liberty dipping her toes in the Golden Gate Strait (bottom photo). The brewer: 21st Amendment Brewery in San Francisco. We can’t wait to drink a can of this wheat beer, brewed with fresh watermelon…with a slice of fresh watermelon!

    American Amber Ales are a beer category known for being balanced and refreshing, with toasted malt characteristics and a light fruitiness. (See the differences between beer and ale below.)

    Rogue’s American Amber Ale is tawny amber in color and medium- to full-bodied. It has a toffee/caramel aroma, a nice malt accent and a pleasantly bitter, smooth finish.

    Celebrating the “ideals of the Revolution,” Rogue brews the beer with “Rebel hops” (they’re actually Kent Golding and Cascade hops) and “Dare and Risk barley,” not to mention what the company calls “free range coastal water.” (Get it?)
    Rogue’s American Amber Ale is now available in 22-ounce serigraphed bottles (the image is screened onto the bottle, a nice gift for party hosts or for a party favor) and 12-ounce bottles with the same label design on paper, and can be found draft at establishments that feature Rogue Ale.

    Rogue makes world-class ale, kolsch, lager, mead, porter and stout, along with excellent spirits:

  • Gins: Spruce Gin and Pink Spruce Gin
  • Rums: Dark Rum, Hazelnut Spice Rum
  • Vodkas: Oregon Single Malt Vodka, Voodoo Bacon Maple Vodka
  • Whiskeys: Chipotle Whiskey, Dead Guy Whiskey, Oregon Single Malt Whiskey, Rogue Farms Oregon Rye Whiskey
    We haven’t had them all, but what we’ve tried, we really liked.

    For more information about Rogue products, visit


    Rogue American Amber Ale

    Liberty Ale Anchor Brewing

    Hell Or High Water Watermelon Beer

    Top: Toast to the U.S.A. with American Amber Ale (photo courtesy Rogue). Center: Liberty Ale from Anchor Brewing Company (photo courtesy Bottom: The Statue Of Liberty graces the cans of Hell Or High Water (photo courtesy 21st Amendment Brewery).

    Although most of us use “beer” to refer to all suds, three parts of the brewing process actually define what is a beer—illustrated by the lager style of beer—and what is an ale.

    Ales tend to be fruity-estery in aroma and flavor, while lagers are clean-tasting and crisp. These differences are created by:

  • The Yeast. Ales are brewed with top-fermenting yeast strains, which means exactly that: The yeast ferments at the top of the fermentation tank (they typically rise to the top of the tank near the end of fermentation). Ale yeasts tend to produce esters, chemicals that can affect the flavor of the beer. Lagers use bottom-fermenting yeasts, strains which do not typically add much flavor (the flavor comes from the other ingredients, especially hops and malt).
  • The Temperature and Time. Ale yeasts ferment best at warmer temperatures—room temperature up to about 75°F. They ferment faster than lager yeasts. Lagers ferment at colder temperatures, 46°F to 59°F, and typically ferment over longer periods of time. The combination of colder temperatures and bottom-fermenting yeast is responsible for the mild and crisp taste delivered by most lagers.
  • The Ingredients. Ale recipes often contain a higher amount of hops, malt and roasted malts; hence they typically have a more prominent malty taste and bitterness. Styles like India Pale Ale (IPA) are very hoppy. Ales have more room for recipe experimentation than lagers; thus additional ingredients (called adjuncts) can be added during brewing. Examples: fruits (cherry, pumpkin, raspberry, etc.), sugars (honey, maple syrup, molasses) and spices (allspice, coriander, clove, etc.).


    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.


    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.

  • In recipes, you can substitute hard cider for wine.
  • Hard cider is best served chilled or over ice.


    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.
    *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.



    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Beer Day

    Amber Ale

    Burger & Lager Beer

    Top: Amber ale with blue cheese from the 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.

    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.

  • 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.


    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.


    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

    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.


  • 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.

    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)
    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.



    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.

  • 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.

  • 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)
    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.



    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.”


    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

    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.
    *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.


    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

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



    Ingredients For 4 Servings

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

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

  • 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.

    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.



    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; 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…


    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

    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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