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

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Archive for Beer & Hard Cider

PRODUCT: Trivia Cocktail Napkins

Trivia napkins break the ice or stump your
friends. Photo by Jaclyn Nussbaum | THE NIBBLE.


If your party guests don’t know each other, breaking the ice can be the first order of the day.

Trivia Party Starters prints cocktail napkins that entertain your guests and get them to interact.

We chose Beer and Wine versions, but there are 12 subject categories that include Baby Shower, Celebrity, Christmas, Comedy Movie, Sports and TV Sitcom, among others.

While they’re a bit pricey, at $5.99 Canadian/$6.23 U.S. for 20 napkins and 40 different questions—two questions per napkin—you only need one pack to get the party started.

You can also make a game out of it, playing “Napkin Trivial Pursuit.” The person who collects the most napkins wins…a bottle of wine or a six-pack of beer.

Check ‘em out at Trivia Party

P.S. What vitamins does beer contain?

Answer: All of the important B vitamins, plus vitamins A, D and E. More about beer nutrition.




TIP OF THE DAY: Tasting Beer

Do you enjoy drinking beer from the bottle?

If so, you’re not enjoying the aroma, which needs to waft up to your nose from a glass.

Those who love their beer should emulate wine aficionados, and take the same steps to enhance the experience.

1. Look: Enjoy the color of the beer, and learn to recognize different styles of beer based on their color. Carbonation is also important. Beer is brewed for immediate consumption. Lack of sufficient bubbles can indicate flatness that comes with age.

2. Smell. Inhale the aromas from the glass. For example, are they floral, hoppy, malty, nutty, spicy, sweet?

3. Sip. Let the beer flow over your palate and focus on identifying the flavors: bitter (hoppy), fruity, malty, nutty, spicy, sweet, woody, yeasty (and a host of over terms)? What about the body (also called mouthfeel)? Is it full, medium or light?

Each beer drinker has his or her own preferences. Even if you think you know what you like, when you learn to properly taste beer, you’ll come to like even more styles and flavors. You can seek out beers that match them by reading reviews.


A glass of stout. Photo by Dan Hauser | IST.


To get deeper into beer tasting, see this comprehensive page of beer tasting information from the Birmingham Beverage Company. Scroll towards the bottom to see the Beer Tasting Wheel: all of the flavors and aromas of beer, and where they come from. It’s a huge help in understanding the flavors and aromas of beer—both good and bad.

Don’t twist your neck trying to read the chart: The details are printed underneath it.

As you enjoy your beer, check out the different types of beer in our Beer Glossary.



RECIPE: Biramisu, A Beer Dessert

Biramisu: tiramisu with a porter reduction.
Photo courtesy Portobello Restaurant |


Love tiramisu? Love beer? Combine them in this novel recipe, called Biramisu.

It could be a big hit on your Father’s Day menu.

The beer-accented dessert was created by Chef Tony Mantuano (Chef/Partner at Spiaggia Chicago and a Top Chef Masters contestant) as a collaboration with Executive Chef Steven Richard of Portobello Restaurant in Orlando, where it is on the menu.

The recipe uses an organic porter from Orlando Brewing, but you can substitute another porter or a dark ale with coffee and chocolate notes.

Get the recipe.

For another beer dessert, check out our Chocolate Stout Float.




TIP OF THE DAY: Mix Up A Half & Half Arnold Palmer Or Shandy

When you think of a refreshing warm-weather drink, do you think of beer, iced tea, lemonade, ginger ale?

If you mix two of them together in a half-and-half drink, you’ll create a summer refresher: an Arnold Palmer or a Shandy, depending on the recipe. You can purchase them ready-bottled; but like most things, homemade tastes better.

The Arnold Palmer
Combine equal amounts of homemade iced tea and lemonade in a tall glass. You can vary the proportions if you prefer one flavor over the other.

The drink, also known as a half and half, is named for golf legend Arnold Palmer. It was his soft drink of choice, and is popular enough that Country Time and Sweet Leaf, among other companies, bottle it.

Mix your alcohol of choice into an Arnold Palmer and you get a John Daly. According to Golf Digest, Mr. Daly is not at all happy about this, claiming copyright infringement.

To give you some ideas about how the recipe has expanded, AriZona Beverage Company sells six variations: Lite Iced Tea & Lemonade, Zero Iced Tea & Lemonade, Lite Green Tea & Lemonade, Pomegranate Green Tea & Lemonade, “Southern Style” Sweet Tea & Pink Lemonade, and Peach Sweet Tea and Lemonade.


A Shandy is half beer, half carbonated lemonade or ginger beer. Photo by Milos Luz | IST.


Shandy, short for shandygaff, is a beer diluted with a non-alcoholic drink: ginger beer, ginger ale, carbonated lemonade, citrus-flavored soda, or cider, for example. We prefer ginger beer or Mike’s Hard Lemonade (which, at 5.2% ABV, does no diluting!).

The proportions are half-and-half; but as with an Arnold Palmer, they can be adjusted to taste.

Fentimans, a U.K. brand sold in the U.S. (and a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week), bottles a lemonade-based Shandy made of a 70%-30% mixture of beer and carbonated lemonade with a 0.5 ABV (1 proof). The lower proportion of beer enables it to be sold as a soft drink.

The origin of the term “shandygraff” is unknown; it first appeared in print in 1853. Shandy is a surname in the U.K.; and in Ireland, the name is a variant of Shaun (John). Graff is an old term for steward or overseer. Perhaps the drink was first mixed up by a steward named Shandy?

You don’t need a graff: Mix up your own Arnold Palmer or Shandy. Have an AP & S party and let guests create their own variations.



PRODUCT: Samuel Adams Longshot Homebrew Variety Pack

Last fall, Samuel Adams made dreams come true for three homebrewers, who were named at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver.

More than 700 hopefuls entered their beers in the annual Samuel Adams Longshot American Homebrew Contest. The main contest is not open to employees of Samuel Adams’ maker, The Boston Beer Company. Instead, they compete in a separate, in-house competition, with equal prizes.

The prize is the experience of brewing their beer at the Samuel Adams brewery in Boston, alongside the professional brewers. Their beer is then distributed in a Limited Edition—with the winners’ photo on the bottle. And there’s some cash: a $5,000 royalty for their recipe.

Given how many different brews Samuel Adams already makes (more than 40), entrants are encouraged to incorporate unusual ingredients into their recipes.

The winning beers are now available nationally in the 2011 LongShot Category 23* Variety 6-Pack, two bottles of each of the winning recipes, at a suggested retail price of $9.99:


The Samuel Adams Longshot six-pack with our personal favorite. Photo by River Soma | THE NIBBLE.


  • Friar Hop Ale from Richard Roper of Georgia
  • Blackened Hops Beer from Rodney Kibzey of Illinois
  • Honey Bee’s Lavender Wheat Beer from Caitlin DeClercq of California, the Samuel Adams Employee Homebrew Winner
    *Category 23 is a judging category for beers whose ingredients are so unusual that they don’t fit into the other categories.


    Friar Hop Ale
    Richard Roper created a hybrid of two styles: a big hoppy IPA and a fruity Belgian ale. The caramel sweetness of a Belgian ale is enhanced with big, citrussy hop reminiscent of an IPA. The beer has universal appeal; but rather than have a second, we tried a different style.

    Honey Bee’s Lavender Wheat Beer
    We loved the idea created by Caitlin DeClercq, a member of the Samuel Adams sales team. She brewed a wheat beer with dried lavender petals, honey and vanilla. We’re a flavor-forward fan: While a delicious wheat beer, the lavender, honey and vanilla were too subtle for us. (“Flavor forward” is the opposite of subtle and delicate. It means that the flavors assert themselves to the point where they are easily recognized. It’s a style preference, a positive term not to be confused with “heavy-handed” or “overdone,” which are negative terms.)

    And now for our favorite among the winning trio:

    Blackened Hops Beer
    Blackened Hops Beer made by Rodney Kibzey is one we’d buy again and again. With deep roasted malt character and both citrusy and piney American hops, this dark beer is both profound and refreshing. Its black color hints at roasted malt and coffee flavors. We love hops, but this beer will appeal to the non hop-heads in the crowd. This is Rodney’s second LongShot American Homebrew Contest win. His Weizenbock was included in the 2008 LongShot Variety Pack. Rodney, we’ll gladly stop by any time for a taste of what’s brewing.

    Bravo to to the winners and to all of America’s homebrewers.

  • Learn your beer types in our Beer Glossary.


    FATHER’S DAY GIFT: Home Brew Beer Kit

    Even people who live in apartments with small kitchens can brew craft beer.

    Beer-making kits, developed by the Brooklyn Brew Shop, make it easy for anyone to brew delicious beer at home.

    It’s a gift any beer lover would like: the ability to experience first-hand what it takes to make a delicious brew.

    The kit includes the finest barley, hops, yeast and spices, plus step-by-step instructions. You’ll see how easy it is to craft an all-natural home brew that’s as good as artisanal beers served at the best brew pubs.

    Choose either fresh, light summer wheat beer or India Pale Ale (IPA), known for its bold, hops-intensive flavor. (Or why choose? Brew both!)


    Now, BYO means brew your own! Make
    premium craft beer in your kitchen. Photo
    courtesy Williams-Sonoma.


  • The kit includes specialty equipment and ingredients needed for home-brewing, including grain, hops and yeast.
  • You supply the additional equipment and ingredients: a six-quart pot, fine-mesh strainer, funnel, honey and ice.
  • The kit produces one gallon of beer.
  • The equipment can be reused over and over to make more beer. It’s easy to purchase additional grain, hops and yeast to make your next batch.
    The craft brewing kit is available from Williams-Sonoma. One kit is $39.95.

    The entire brewing process takes about 17 days. If you start now, you can brew Dad or Hubby his own batch as a Father’s Day gift.

    Both of you might just turn into avid homebrewers. Check out the Home Brewing Association.

    Brush up on your beer types in our Beer Glossary.


    FOOD HOLIDAY: American Craft Beer Week

    This poster says, “Time to have a party.”
    Image courtesy


    This is a great time to be a beer lover. The American craft brewing movement, which began around 1980, has come of age. Stores are laden with full-flavored beers in many styles. In fact, we now have more beer styles and beer brands to choose from than any other market in the world.

    You may not have plans to host a party next week. But May 16-22 is American Craft Beer Week, a perfect opportunity to invite friends and colleagues to a craft beer tasting. If you’re on a budget, make it a BYO and raise glasses of IPA, amber ale, stout and everything in between.

    (Learn your beer types in our Beer Glossary.)

    We suggest laying out a table with a dozen different craft beers, each with a card that includes the name and type of beer, location of the brewery and place of purchase—so that people can stock up on their favorites. Depending on the size of the crowd, have two or more bottles of each beer.

    Then, all you need are:

  • Tasting glasses so that a small amount of each beer can be tried (you can find two-ounce plastic shot glasses).
  • Paper and pens for people who want to write tasting notes.
  • Whatever munchies you want to serve—from salsa and chips to franks or wrap sandwiches.

    Of the some 1,700 breweries in America, more than 90% are small, independent craft brewers—a spectacular growth since 2008, when craft brewers represented a mere 6.3% of breweries (source: Brewers Association). Millions of beer lovers now support their local breweries as well as stores that have a selection of fine craft brews from other states.

    How much beer can you drink “responsibly?”

    Here’s a handy tool from the Brewers Association: calculate your body alcohol content based on your weight, gender, metabolic rate and other factors.



    PRODUCT: Samuel Adams Wee Heavy Beer

    Photo courtesy Midtown Wines & Spirits |


    Scotch lovers: Here’s a beer for you!

    The Boston Brewing Company (maker of Samuel Adams beers) has been prolific lately, expanding the line to some 40 different beers of widely varying styles.

    While each beer is special in its own way, the variety we find most special is Samuel Adams Wee Heavy, a Scotch ale-style beer. It’s part of the company’s Imperial Collection: beers with big robust taste and complex flavors. The collection also includes Double Bock, Imperial Stout and Imperial White–this is our kind of beer.

    Scotch ales, nicknamed Wee Heavy, are strong ales. Samuel Adams’ Wee Heavy is inspired by both traditional Scotch ales and Scotch whiskies.

    Take a sip and you’ll find notes of Scotch, thanks to the highly roasted, peat-smoked malt. Exclusive to Scotland, it’s the signature ingredient of Scotch whiskey. Other Scotch ales don’t use smoked malt in beer, so Wee Heavy has a unique aroma and flavor. Smoked malt is also used in Samuel Adams Scotch Ale.


    This complex, full-bodied beer offers deep roasted flavor, earthy smokiness and intense malt flavors.

    The company says that the flavors will develop with age, but we haven’t been able to store any bottles: They get consumed in short order.

  • Check out the different types of beers in our Beer Glossary.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Drink Beer From A Globe Glass

    Historically, different beers have been drunk from differently-shaped glasses. For example, Germans created the tall pilsner and the handled stein. The British prefer the pint glass. Belgians favor a globe glass.

    It turns out that the Belgian glass may be the best for enhancing the flavor of beer.

  • The globe shape captures and directs the beer’s aromas toward your nose.
  • The tapered opening harnesses the foam and enhances the beer’s bouquet.
  • The stem keeps your hand from warming the beer.
  • Like a Champagne glass, a good globe beer glass has etched lines at the bottom of the bowl that help to create a continuous stream of bubbles.

    Wine glass expert Riedel—which makes a different-shaped glass to enhance the unique qualities of each type of wine—sells a modified globe glass for beer.

    If you’re in the market for new drinking glasses, check out the globes.

    See the different types of beer glasses.


    The Belgian “globe” glass may deliver the
    tastiest beer. This glass is from Spielgau.




    TREND: The Beer Cocktail

    One of our editors doesn’t care for wine: She’s strictly a beer and spirits gal.

    There are many people like her. No wonder beer cocktails are on the rise.

    Beer has been mixed for centuries. The Black and Tan is a mix of stout plus lager or pale ale; Shandy is a mix of beer and lemonade; the Boilermaker is beer and a shot of whiskey; the Michelada is beer with lime, salt, picante sauce and sometimes, tomato juice.

    Now, Nation’s Restaurant News reports a trend in beer cocktails, mixing beer with absinthe, coffee, port and other mixers.

    The photo shows a Muddy Puddle, the signature cocktail of JoeDoe in New York City.

    Bourbon, iced espresso and simple syrup are shaken and poured over ice into a pilsner glass rimmed with crushed peanuts. The drink is then topped off with Sierra Nevada stout.

    Other recipe ideas:


    A beer cocktail with stout, bourbon, iced
    espresso and simple syrup, garnished with
    peanuts. Photo courtesy Nation’s Restaurant News.


  • Raspberry-tea-infused blanco tequila, ginger, lime and Modelo Especial lager, from Mayahuel in New York City
  • Pineapple-infused mezcal, lime, sugar cane and Negra Modelo dark lager in a glass with a spiced salt rim, also at Mayahuel
  • A Michelada variation with spiced honey stout (stout with port, Madeira and allspice), tomato, lime and spices, from Starbelly in San Francisco
  • Gin, Earl Grey tea-infused dry vermouth and St. Germain elderflower, topped with porter, at Alchemy in San Diego
  • Bourbon, absinthe and triple ale with grated cinnamon and nutmeg, also at Alchemy
    Call up your inner mixologist to develop your own ideas.



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