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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

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    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Beer & Hard Cider

TIP OF THE DAY: Mexican Beer For Cinco De Mayo

One of our favorite ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo is with a Mexican beer and salsa bar: a tasting of different beers from Mexico, different salsas, and our favorite corn chips from Food Should Taste Good.

Bohemia* is one of our favorite Mexican beers. It was named after a region in the former republic of Czechoslovakia† that produced some of the world’s finest beers.

A pale pilsner-style beer, it is the most awarded of Mexican beers. It’s worth tracking down.

To set up a beer and salsa bar:

1. Pick six different beers† and six different types of salsa. Choose among green salsa/salsa verde/tomatillo salsa, red salsa, salsa fresca or pico de gallo (fresh red salsa), salsas made with beans, chipotle, corn and fruit.

2. Serve the salsa in bowls. Place the salsa containers behind the bowls so people know what they’re eating.

 

Bohemia beer: a fine way to celebrate Cinco
de Mayo. Photo by Jaclyn Nussbaum | THE NIBBLE.

 

3. Use small cups/glasses. You want your guests to try all six beers, but not to overindulge. The five-ounce disposable plastic tumblers (“rocks glasses”) available in supermarkets are on the generous side. You can also use plastic or glass shot glasses.

4. Beer tasting notes. If you have time, make cards to set in front of each of the beers, mentioning the style and any tasting notes you want to provide (you can find this information online).

5. Don’t forget the napkins and plates.

More To Nibble

  • The different types of salsas.
  • The different types of beers.
  •  
    *Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic (capital, Prague) and Slovakia (capital, Bratislava) in 1993. Bohemia is located in the contemporary Czech Republic.

    †The majority of Mexican beer is produced by two large companies. FEMSA is the maker of Bohemia, Carta Blanca, Dos Equis, Indio, Sol, Superior, Tecate and the seasonal Noche Buena. Grupo Modelo produces Corona, Corona Light, Modelo Especial, Modelo Light, Negra Modelo and Pacifico. Estrella, Montejo and Victoria are made by smaller producers.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Time To Switch To Spring Beer Styles

    One of the great things about the craft beer movement is that it enables us to change our beers with the seasons. Just as you don’t want a heavy, wintery Barolo on a fresh spring day, the same goes with your beer.

    Look for a May bock (Maibock), a style that is brewed to celebrate springtime. Hellesbock (light bock), an identical recipe, is brewed throughout the year but gets the special name for springtime. A lager beer, it is light in color, although heavier in body and higher in alcohol, than a light-hued Pilsner.

    Samuel Adams has brewed Apine Spring especially for the season. A bright, citrusy, unfiltered lager, it’s a bit darker in color—golden—than a typical Hellesbock/Maibock. The citrus and spice come from Noble Tettnang hops, grown at the bottom of the Alps. A slightly sweet malt character comes from the German Pilsner and honey malts. The ABV is 5.5%.

    The brewery sees it as “the perfect transition from winter’s heavier brews to the lighter beers of summer…[with] the balanced maltiness and hoppiness of a Helles, the smoothness and slightly higher alcohol of a traditional spring bock, and the unfiltered appearance of a Kellerbier.”

     

    It’s time for a refreshing draught of Alpine Spring. Photo courtesy Samuel Adams | Boston Beer Company.

     

    Alpine Spring pairing suggestions include grilled chicken and Italian fare. Here are more food pairing ideas.

    OTHER SPRING-APPROPRIATE BEERS

    BOCKBIER. Bock beer, a dark lager, has a strong malt flavor and full mouthfeel. It has that “refreshing lager zing” that makes it taste like springtime. Bock is the German word for strong, referring to a strong beer brewed from barley malt.

    DOPPELBOCK. Double bock originated during Lent. Since 1654 the monks of St. Francis of Paula in Munich had brewed bock beer. Sometime after 1799, they began to brew a thicker beer to provide them with nourishment during the Lenten fast. It was called Salvator (Latin for savior). Later, the beer was sold to the general population as Doppelbock. Doppelbock is German for extra-strong—around 7.5% alcohol by volume, or stronger. It is a bottom-fermented beer, tawny or dark brown in color. It’s a southern Germany spring specialty, seasonally brewed in March and April. The monks’ brewery, Paulaner, is still making beer.

    WHEAT BEER. Wheat beer (Witbier in Belgium, Weissbier in Germany) is a lighter style. Some brews are spiced with coriander and orange peel—not unlike the citrus-spice flavors of Alpine Spring—for a sunnier disposition. Wheat beer is brewed with a significant proportion of wheat, which provides a distinctive pale color, creamy texture and a light, sweet flavor, often with fruit and spice notes.

    LAMBIC. Belgium is the home of a variety of fruit beer known as lambic. Lambics are typically wheat beer recipes brewed with fruits ranging from cherries and raspberries (the classics) to mango and peach (the moderns). While most beers are distinguished by their flavors of hops and malt, lambic is an ancient style of beer that is naturally bone dry, acidic and effervescent. It is bottom-fermented. The wort, often kept in ventilated attics, is allowed to spontaneously ferment with wild, airborne yeasts.

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

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Green Beer, Champagne Or Ginger Ale For St. Patrick’s Day

    Even if you have nothing planned and no time, you can still do something special for St. Patrick’s Day:

    Drink Green

    Make green beer, sparkling wine, ginger ale, lemon-lime soda (7-Up, Sprite) or club soda.

  • Beer: Add 5-6 green drops of green food color to a 12-ounce stein; pour in the beer.
  • Sparkling Wine: Add 2 drops of food color to each flute before pouring in the Champagne.
  • Soft Drinks: Use 6 drops of food color per eight-ounce glass prior to adding the soda.
  •  

    ANOTHER TIP: Pour any effervescent beverage down the side of the glass, rather than into the center. It preserves more bubbles.

     

    It’s easy being green on St. Patrick’s Day. Photo by MBPhoto | IST.

     

    Eat Green

    Color dips, condiments and other creamy foods green. Use 10-12 drops green food color per 1/2 cup of:

  • Blue Cheese Dressing: for chicken wings or salad
  • Mayonnaise: for a sandwich spread or dip for fries
  • Onion Dip Or Ranch Dressing: for chips, veggies, potato wedges
  • Sour Cream: For your baked potato or any favorite use
  • Plain Or Vanilla Yogurt: for any reason
  •  
    On St. Patrick’s Day, it’s easy being green.

      

    Comments

    ST. PATRICK’S DAY: Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes

    Here’s another recipe from Justin O’Connor, Executive Chef at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. The cupcakes will be featured at the restaurant on St. Patrick’s Day.

    For added Irishness and deliciousness, we added some Bailey’s Irish Cream Liqueur to the frosting.

    GUINNESS CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 10 ounces flour
  • 2 ounces cocoa powder
  • 6 ounces superfine sugar*
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 ounces unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup Guinness
  •  

    Green-iced chocolate-Guinness cupcakes. Photo courtesy Guinness.

     

    Buttercream Icing

  • 6 ounces unsalted butter
  • 12 ounces confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur
  • Green food coloring
  • Optional garnish: green sprinkles or sanding sugar
  •  
    *You can pulse table sugar in a food processor.

    Preparation

    1. Preheat oven to 320°F.

    2. Cream butter, sugar, vanilla and Bailey’s.

    3. Combine all the dry ingredients; blend in egg, Guinness and vanilla slowly until the mix comes together. Place into 12 cupcake papers and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool.

    4. For the buttercream icing, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar until soft and creamy. Add two drops green food coloring and stir until combined. Ice cooled cupcakes. Garnish as desired with sprinkles or sanding sugar.

    Find more of our favorite cupcake recipes.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Special Ice Cream For New Year’s Eve

    Ice cream that smells and tastes like
    gingerbread. Photo courtesy
    KitchenKonfidential.com.

     

    Ice cream is one of our favorite desserts—heck, it’s our favorite food, period.

    For New Year’s Eve, we like to make a special flavor. Last year it was lavender. Prior years included anise, chipotle chocolate, chocolate pretzel, peppermint schnapps and white chocolate with edible gold flakes. For the Millennium, we splurged on black truffle ice cream.

    This year, we’re making Gingerbread-Trappist Ale Ice Cream, to serve with an apple tart. Those who have no room left for the tart can enjoy a spoonful or two of easy-to-down sweetness. (Note: Trappist ale is one type of Belgian ale, and should be used in this recipe. See the footnote* at the bottom of this post for the difference Belgian beers and ales.)

    In addition to serving it as a glammed-up version of apple pie à la mode, you can make ice cream sandwiches by toasting slices of gingerbread loaf or other favorite loaf: banana cake, carrot cake or chocolate or regular pound cake.

     

    This recipe, from Brandon Matzek’s blog, KitchenKonfidence.com, was adapted from a recipe created by Ethan Frisch and Max Falkowitz, and sent to us from the Craft Beer Association.

    Made with candied ginger, cinnamon, clove, allspice and Belgian-style ale, the ice cream smells and tastes like gingerbread. The Trappist ale (we used Duvel, one of our favorites) adds a delicious depth of flavor. Brandon Matzek’s serving suggestion is to scoop the ice cream over a warm slice of gingerbread, topped with sautéed apples.

    You can serve a glass of Belgian ale along with the dessert. Or a cup of spice tea.

    GINGERBREAD-ALE ICE CREAM RECIPE

    Ingredients

    Serves: 8 – 10

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1-2/3 cups Trappist ale, divided
  • 5 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 inch nub of ginger, peeled and sliced thin
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 3 star anise “petals”
  • 4 allspice berries
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 ounce dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • Zest of half a large lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup candied ginger, minced
  •  
    Preparation
    1. In a large saucepan, add heavy cream, whole milk, 1-1/3 cups ale and molasses, stirring to combine.

    2. Add allspice, black peppercorns, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, fresh ginger, nutmeg and star anise.

    3. Cook mixture over a medium-low heat until just below a simmer, stirring frequently for about 15 minutes (you want to see steam rising from the surface, but minimal to no bubbles).

    4. Whisk the egg yolks and brown sugar in a bowl until slightly thickened. Slowly, while whisking, add 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture to the yolks. Take your time here so you don’t scramble the yolks. Repeat this process with another 1/2 cup of the hot cream, then return everything to the saucepan.

    5. Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl. Set a medium sized bowl in the ice bath and have a strainer ready.

    6. Return the saucepan to a medium heat and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. You will know the custard is thick enough when you see steam rise from the surface and the custard coats the spoon.

    7. Add the chocolate, lemon zest and the last 1/3 cup ale. Continue to cook for another minute or two, until the proper thickness is achieved again.

    8. Strain the custard into the medium sized bowl sitting in the ice bath. Stir in the vanilla extract and salt. Stir occasionally until the mixture has cooled. Refrigerate until cold (preferably overnight).

    9. Freeze custard in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When the ice cream is three quarters of the way done, add candied ginger and continue to freeze until frozen.

    10. Serve to delighted guests.

    *Trappist ale is one of nine categories of Belgian beer and ale. Others include everyday Belgian ale, brown ale, golden ale, lambic, red beer, saison, specialty ales and wheat beer (witbier). Under an official designation established by the International Trappist Association in 1997, only beer brewed under the direct supervision of Trappist monks may be called Trappist. There are currently seven such breweries in the world: six in Belgium and one in the Netherlands. Abbey beer—which originally referred to any monastic or monastic-style beer—is the designation of products similar in style or presentation to Trappist beers, such as beers brewed in non-Trappist monasteries, commercial breweries that license the name from an extant Trappist monastery, beers named for a defunct or fictitious monastery, and so on.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY & GIFT OF THE DAY: Red Ale For Christmas

    What better says “Christmas” to a beer lover than a brew with crimson color?

    Red ale, or Irish red ale, is, as its name suggests, an ale with a slightly reddish color. The color is intentional, and results from the use of a small amount of roasted barley in the mash.

    If it comes from Ireland, it’s called Irish ale. In the U.S. and elsewhere, it’s called red ale or red beer. Some Americans use the term amber ale, but this typically describes a darker beer—truly amber instead of reddish.

    Serve a red ale at your holiday celebration (add a cucumber wheel for a bit of green; or a lime wedge if your guests prefer to drink from the bottle.

    If you need a holiday gift for a beer drinker, put together a six-pack of different red ale brands (see below).

    How Well Do You Know Your Brews?

    Take a look at our Beer Glossary.

     

    Serve red ale for Christmas. Photo
    courtesy Craft Brewers Association.

     

    The Best Red Ales

    Here are the top 10 red ales as rated by judges in the 2011 U.S. Open Beer Championship.

    1. Pursuit of Hoppiness – Grand Teton Brewing, Idaho
    2. O’Regan’s Revenge Irish Red Ale – Sound Brewery, Washington
    3. Bomber Mountain Amber – Black Tooth Brewing, Wyoming
    4. River Falls Red Ale, Thomas Creek Brewing – South Carolina
    5. Cameron’s Auburn Ale – Cameron’s Brewing, Canada
    6. Celtic Ale – Harpoon Brewery – Massachusetts
    7. Red Mountain Ale – Silverton Brewing, Colorado
    8. Samuel Adams Red Ale – Boston Beer Company, Massachusetts
    9. O’Hara’s Irish Red – Carlow Brewing – Ireland
    10. Kilgubbin Red Ale – Goose Island – Illinois

    Cheers!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: The 24 Beers Of Christmas

    Off to a good start: the beer advent
    calendar. Photo courtesy of Kalea GmbH.

     

    Brewers of America: You have been bested by Austria’s Kalea Brewery.

    Maybe your beer is better, but where’s your craft beer Advent calendar? The clever folks at Kalea, in Strasbourg, have one.

    Or at least, they’ve packaged 24 items in a box for the 24 days of advent. The lucky recipient enjoys 10 Austrian beers, 10 international beers and four beer accessories.

    This calendar is perfect as a party gift, early Christmas gift or corporate gift with a company logo printed on the box. We can’t imagine a beer drinker who wouldn’t be tickled gold and amber by this gift.

    If you want to create your own beer Advent calendar, start now to gather your 24 different beers: The calendar commences on December 1st. Use this as an opportunity to try 24 beers that you haven’t had before.

     

    The one thing Kalea did not do was create a classic Advent calendar with windows that open for the “reveal” of the day (details below).

    Yes, it is possible to create an Advent calendar that does just that. Here’s how one clever fellow did it.

    What Is An Advent Calendar?

    Last month, 246,000 people asked the question of Google. Here’s the scoop:

    The Advent calendar dates to the beginning of the 19th century. A tradition begun by Lutherans in Germany, the first known Advent calendar dates to 1851. Its purpose: to count down the 24 days of December until Christmas.

    Most Advent calendars begin on December 1, regardless of when Advent is celebrated in any particular year (it’s the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas, which can range from November 27th to December 3rd).

    Advent, from the Latin word adventus, means “coming.” It’s a time of waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus, on Christmas Day.

    Some Advent calendars are strictly religious in nature; others are secular. Some involve affixing colored pictures to a piece of cardboard. Children’s versions have pieces of candy affixed to cardboard.

    Early versions were handmade. The first printed Advent calendar was published in 1908, and the now-familiar versions followed, with windows that opened out of the cardboard.

    Today, most Advent calendars are made for children: large and festive rectangles of printed cardboard with a different window to be opened on each of the 24 days. The windows reveal a holiday-themed image, inspiration, etc. The more elaborate versions have a small gift behind each window: a charm, a toy, a piece of candy.

    Thanks, but we’d rather have the beer.

    Pick your Advent calendar assortment from these different types of beer.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Brew Beer At Home With A Mr. Beer Kit

    Make Thanksgiving special: Serve your own
    microbrew. CSP Photo.

     

    Start this week, and you can serve your own home-brewed beer at Thanksgiving dinner.

    We never review products we haven’t tested. So last month, THE NIBBLE office became a microbrewery, as we brewed our first batch of beer in the office kitchen with a Mr. Beer Micro-Brewery Beer Making Kit.

    In the fermentation tank (a plastic keg), we combined hopped malt extract, unhopped malt, dry brewing yeast, a packet of fermentable sugars and water. We put the keg in a corner to ferment.

    In two weeks, our brew was ready to be bottled for its second fermentation. In another two weeks, it was ready to consume. You can cut the four-week production time down to two weeks, but the beer will be less complex.

    Finally, we took our first sip…and were more than pleasantly surprised.

    The style was a little on the light side for us, but it’s exactly what most of America is looking for. It tasted fresh and lively—much more so than most beer.

     

    We became hooked on home brewing. It’s easy. It’s fun. It’s less expensive than buying beer. And everyone will be impressed.

    If you use the shorter method of fermenting and bottle-aging (two weeks total), you can make twenty 12-ounce bottles of beer every week. The Premium introductory kit, $49.95, includes everything you need to make the first 20 bottles. After that, buy a refill kit for $17.99 and re-use the fermenter and the plastic bottles to make the next 20 (and on and on) for just 90¢ a bottle.

    After you’ve made your first batch, you can experiment with fruit, spices and other styles of beer. All the ingredients to make many different styles of beer are available on the Mr. Beer website (see Refills).

    For Thanksgiving, we’re brewing two darker varieties: Englishman’s Nut Brown Ale and Bewitched Red Ale.

    Consider Mr. Beer for holiday gifts as well. It’s the gift that keeps on giving, 20 bottles at a time.

    For more information, visit MrBeer.com.

    Learn about the different types of beer in our Beer Glossary.

     

    Some of the Premium Kit contents (stein
    not included). Photo courtesy Mr. Beer.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Have A Beer & Sausage Pairing

    Take “beer and brats” to the next level.
    Photo courtesy National Pork Board.

     

    Many of us have had an enjoyable afternoon or evening with beer and bratwurst, likely at a summer cook-out.

    But what about taking it to the next level: pairing specific beers with specific sausages: boar sausage, chicken sausage, duck sausage, lamb sausage and venison sausage, in addition to pork-based bratwurst and other pork sausages?

    We were invited to an event to do something similar, featuring sausages from some of New York City’s popular French restaurants along with craft brews.

    The restaurants are part of the Tour de France restaurant Group, and the beers were paired by the company’s beer sommelier, Gianni Cavicchi.

    For fall entertaining, you can do the same thing at home. Beer is a food-friendly beverage; most ales and lagers pair with most sausages. You don’t need a beer sommelier. The fun is in thinking what you‘d like to pair, then trying your pairings.

     

    Combine different types of beer with different types of sausage, varying the meats as well as intensity of the seasonings. It’s a memorable way to spend an evening.

    Where To Start

    To decide on your menu, first cruise the sausage section of your supermarket to see which ones appeal to you. Stick with plain sausage. Added ingredients such as apples or feta will get in the way of comparing the base flavors.

    Then, do some research of what beer pairs best with them and create three or four “flights.” You can create more flights, but we prefer to cap ours at four unless the guests are sophisticated beer tasters who already have an understanding of the different styles of beer. Otherwise, it’s information overload (and palate overload, too).

    A flight, by the way, is a term used by wine tasters that refers to a selection of wines to be tasted and compared together—wine only or with food. At wine dinners, for example, each course is served with a flight that enables participants to decide which wine they prefer with the dish. You’re doing the same with beer and sausage. Your flights can consist of one, two or more beers per sausage “course.” Again, unless you have a sophisticated crowd, don’t serve more than two beers per flight.

    Beer & Sausage Pairings

  • Lighter-Style Pairings. Lighter sausages, including weisswurst (veal-based white sausage) and bockwurst (mostly veal with some pork), as well as chicken and turkey sausage, pair well with lighter beers such as wheat beers (weizen and hefeweizen).
  • Medium-Style Pairings. Bratwurst, a pork-based sausage which can have some veal mixed in, is part of this group, as are kielbasa, knackwurst and sweet Italian sausage. Pair them with ale and lagers. The slightly heavier IPA, India Pale Ale, also works well.
  • Stronger-Style Pairings. More intensely flavored sausages—boar, duck, and lamb sausage—pair well with heavily-hopped beers and darkly-roasted malts. Look for dark ale, double ale and hoppy IPAs. The hops cut through the richness of the sausage, and darkly roasted malt pair with highly-flavored meats.
  • Hot & Spicy Pairings. There’s a wonderful variety of hot and spicy sausages: Cajun andouille, Spanish chorizo, lamb merguez sausage from North Africa and hot Italian sausage. Instead of a heavier beer, find a crisp brew. IPA and lager go well here.
     

    Serve traditional condiments: pickles, pickled onions, relish, sauerkraut and a selection of mustards. German potato salad, made with cider vinegar and bacon, and served warm, is de rigeur. Sweet and sour red cabbage is another favorite.

  • You can also provide rolls. We feel that they get in the way of tasting the sausages, but others prefer them. A green salad in a light vinaigrette provides a counterpoint to the heavy food.

    Don’t forget the pretzels—hard and/or soft. Here‘s a recipe for soft pretzels.

    At The Event

  • Start with the lightest flight and move to the heaviest.
  • Bring the flights out one at a time; but leave them on the table so that guests can go back and compare the flights, as well as contrast the beers with sausages from other flights.
  •  

    In The New York City Area?
    The sausage and beer pairing that inspired this post will be held on Tuesday, October 11th. Here’s the ticket information.

    WHAT KIND OF BEERS SHOULD YOU SELECT?
    Check out the options in our Beer Glossary.

    Find more beer recipes and articles in our Beer Section.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Green Tea Ale To Aid Japan Disaster Relief

    Stone Brewing Co., a California craft brewery known for its Arrogant Bastard Ale and other well-named, well-crafted artisan drinks, has released a new beer to support aid efforts for the Japanese earthquake and tsunami disaster. All proceeds will be donated to the Japanese Red Cross Society.

    The Japanese Green Tea IPA (India Pale Ale) is a collaboration between Stone Brewing, Ishii Brewing Co. of Guam and Baird Brewing Company of Numazu, Japan.

    Toshi Ishii, a former Stone brewer, contacted Stone Brewmaster Mitch Steele shortly after the Japanese disaster with a proposal to make a beer that could help with recovery efforts. They circled in Bryan Baird, a brewer in Japan.

    The three brewers naturally selected green tea as an ingredient. IPA was chosen as a style that would accentuate the tea’s herbal character. The recipe includes Sorachi Ace, a variety of hops originally developed in Japan, as well as Pacifica, Crystal, Warrior and Aramis, a new hops cultivar from the Alsace region of France.

     

    Drink up and help the Japanese Red Cross.
    Photo courtesy Stone Brewing Co.

     

    The brew has a spicy, herbal hop character that blends exceptionally well with the herbal and grassy sencha tea flavors. The Japanese Sorachi Ace hops provide more spice and citrus hop notes.

    The ale is available in 12-ounce bottles with a suggested retail price of $2.49-$3.49. Find a distributor near you.*

    Party Idea

    Have a party to benefit Japanese disaster victims. Serve Green Tea IPA and collect donations for the Red Cross. You can make an online donation for Japan via the American Red Cross.

    While the March 2011 disaster is no longer in the news, the victims will need aid for many years to come.

    *The beer is available in AK, AZ, CA,CO, FL, IL, KY, MA, MN, NC, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OR, PA, SC, TX, VA, VT and WA.

      

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