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Archive for Beer & Hard Cider

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
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    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).

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    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.

     

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    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
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    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
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    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.
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    *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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    TIP OF THE DAY: Cooking With Craft Beer

    Cooking with beer is as old as civilization itself. The first-known written record, from the Sumerians of ancient Mesopotamia, is a 3900-year-old beer recipe and poem honoring Ninkasi, the patron goddess of brewing.

    Brewing is much older than the written record: Evidence of beer production in Mesopotamia dates back about 5,000 years.

    Fast forward to the here and now: In American kitchens, some people regularly cook with beer. Others, even though they like beer, are more likely to cook with wine.

    Executive Chef Cenobio Canalizo of Michael Jordan’s The Steak House N.Y.C. likes to cook with both. He recently added beer-braised onions to his fall Bar Burger, and sent us his recipe plus general tips for cooking with beer:

  • Think regional. The Germans, naturally, cook their brats and other foods with their local beer. If you are making sauerkraut, cook it with some good German beer. Likewise, when making fish and chips, make your beer batter with a nice British ale.
  • Never cook with a beer you would not like to drink. This is the same with wine. Your final product can only be as good as your ingredients.
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    A cheeseburger with caramelized onions is the fall Bar Burger recipes at Michael Jordan’s The Steak House. Photo courtesy PotatoRolls.com.

  • The delicate flavors of beer will dissipate over a long cooking process. If you are cooking a stew or braised beef, for example, add a splash or two to your dish before serving, to ensure you get that flavor. (We add a few tablespoons after we take the dish off the heat.)
  • Experiment with your favorite recipes. In virtually any recipe that calls for wine or stock of any type, you could replace them with beer.
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    The American Craft Beer Cookbook pairs recipes with all the craft beer styles. Photo courtesy Storey Publishing.

     

    A FIRST STEP IN COOKING WITH BEER

    Beer braised onions are an easy way to start cooking with beer. You can add them to first courses, entrées and sides. As a start, serve them with meat or poultry, baked or mashed potatoes, beans, burgers, eggs, grains, grilled fish and sandwiches (especially great with grilled cheese, roast beef, turkey or vegetable sandwiches).

    Chef Canalizo’s fall Bar Burger includes onions braised in Ommegang Nut Brown Ale (from New York State) and melted Cheddar cheese on a Martin’s potato roll, and served with homemade potato chips. Here’s his recipe for the onions:

    RECIPE: BEER BRAISED ONIONS

    Ingredients For 4 Burgers

    For The Burger

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 4 buns (hamburger roll substitutes)
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    For The Braised Onions

  • 2 white Spanish onions, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup brown ale* (substitute amber ale/red ale)
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
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    Preparation

    1. MELT the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and toss to coat with butter. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions are a golden color. Add the beer and herbs and continue to cook for 5 more minutes until caramelized.

    2. FORM the meat into four eight-ounce patties. Season with kosher salt and pepper and cook to the desired temperature. While the meat is cooking, toast the buns.

    3. TOP each patty with cheddar cheese and beer braised onions, place on the bun and serve.

     
    BAKE YOUR OWN HAMBURGER ROLLS

    Skip those puffy, white-bread standards and try delicious gourmet hamburger rolls. Here’s a recipe.

     
    *Brown ale is sweeter, darker and less bitter than the typical lager beer. If you can’t find an American brown ale, imported Newcastle Nut Brown Ale is typically available in stores with a good beer selection.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Fall Beer Styles For Your Oktoberfest

    We held an Oktoberfest dinner this past weekend. That’s because even though the name says October, the fest begins in late September and lasts for 16 days, through early October. This year it’s September 19th through October 4th in Munich, where an annual festival has been held since 1810. (It was originally held to celebrate the marriage of the crown prince of Bavaria, the future King Ludwig I.)

    In the beer category, seasonal beer styles are called…seasonals. For fall, full-bodied beers replace the lighter brews of summer. Three craft beer fall seasonals that immediately come to mind:

  • Harvest Ale, an American craft brew category made with German-style malts and hops, or else with fall spices.
  • Pumpkin Beer or Ale, sometimes brewed with real pumpkin and pumpkin pie spices, sometimes with only the spices (allspice, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg). Samuel Adams’ Fat Jack has more than 28 pounds of pumpkin per barrel.
  • Oktoberfest Beer, or Märzen: Traditionally the first beer of the brewing season, it is an amber lager, smooth and malty and about 6% or higher ABV*.
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    In addition to these styles, other popular fall beers include:

       

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    Fat Jack brewed with more than 28 pounds of pumpkin per barrel. Photo courtesy Samuel Adams.

  • Brown Ale, made with dark or brown malts that produce caramel and chocolate flavors (more).
  • Dunkelweizen, a dark version of a wheat beer (“dunkel” is the German word for dark)
  • English Pale Ale or India Pale Ale, assertively hopped and stronger (higher in alcohol—more)
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    *To be labeled Oktoberfest beer in Germany, a beer must conform to the Reinheitsgebot (the German beer purity law), which dictates a minimum of 6% alcohol (by comparison, America’s Budweiser has 5%). The beer must also be brewed within the city limits of Munich.

     

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    Märzen, the classic all beer of Germany. Photo courtesy Gordon Biersch.

     

    THROW AN OKTOBERFEST PARTY

    According to us, you can hold an Oktoberfest celebration any time in October. We served an assortment of flavored chicken sausages from Bilinski German potato salad, sweet and sour red cabbage and a cheese course with hard sausage and apples. For dessert: apple sorbet with hard apple cider from Angry Orchard plus some local artisan brews.

    Here are two articles to guide your party planning:

  • Oktoberfest Party 1
  • Oktoberfest Party 2
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    See our Beer Glossary for the different types of beer and the history of beer.

     

      

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    TIP: The Right Beer Glass Makes A Big Difference

    We’re one of the many people who likes to drink beer straight from the bottle. We believed, as with sparkling wine, that the narrower the opening, the more the carbonation stays in. A cold bottle from the fridge keeps the beer colder than a room-temperature glass. And, we don’t particularly care for a foamy head.

    But according to Spiegelau, a manufacturer of fine glassware in Bavaria, Germany, we have it all wrong. You only get about 15% of the flavor of the beer when you drink it from the bottle.

    That’s because smell, not palate, is the major component of taste (and explains why you can lose your taste when you have a badly congested nose and can’t smell). You get zero aroma through the narrow neck of the beer bottle, covered by your mouth as you take each sip.

    When you pour beer into a glass, the head* releases the bubbles (carbon dioxide) that burst into aroma.

    On top of that, different types of beer benefit from different shaped glasses, engineered to bring out the special attributes of the beer (Riedel, the parent company of Spieglau, was the pioneer in developing different wine glass types).

       

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    Engineered to bring out the best in American craft beers: from left, IPA, wheat beer and stout glasses. Photo courtesy Spiegelau USA.

     

    Different regions have long made different glass shapes for their beers. Think beyond the German stein to the British pint glass; the tall, tapered Pilsner† glass; the stemmed snifter for Belgian ales and IPAs; the tankard for ales, lagers, stouts and porters; and others. See the different types of beer glasses in the chart below.

     
    *The head is produced by bubbles of carbon dioxide gas that rise to the surface. The carbon dioxide is produced during fermentation.
    †Pilsner is the English spelling of Pilsener, the German spelling. The name derives from the town of Pilsen, a city in western Bohemia in the Czech Republic, where the style was originally brewed in October 1842—a new, clear, pale golden beer created from new malts, Pilsen’s remarkably soft water, Saaz noble hops and Bavarian-style lagering. It was a sensation. The Czech spelling of the town is Plzen.

     
    CRAFT BEER GLASSES FOR SPECIFIC STYLES OF BEER

    Spiegelau has developed a Craft Beer Glass Collection, with custom-designed glasses for the three most popular American craft beer styles: IPA, Stout and Wheat Beer. Each glass is designed, according to the company, to highlight “the complexity of aromas on the nose while demonstrating the optimum beer texture, balance and flavor intensity on the palate.”

    Riedel has done this for wine glasses with great success (you won’t believe how much better the wine tastes in a specially engineered wine glass than on a generic one). Now, they’ve done the same for beer.

    An expert panel of master brewers tested multiple glass shapes before finding the optimum shape for each beer type. Here’s what resulted:

  • The IPA glass was engineered to “showcase the complex and alluring aromatic profiles of American ‘hop-forward’ IPA beers, preserve a frothy head, enhance taste and mouth feel, and present a comfortably wide opening for the drinker to savory each beer.”
  • The Stout glass is designed to “accentuate the roasted malt, rich coffee and chocolate notes that define the Stout beer style.”
  • The Wheat Beer glass (wheat beer is one of the world’s most popular styles‚, has a large, voluminous bowl to harness the delicate aromas. The mouth opening was designed to spread the beer across the palate to “enhance mouth feel and harmony of sweetness and acidity.” The “open bottom glass base drives beer and aromatic foam upward into the main bowl after every sip.”
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    And you thought a glass was just a glass!

    Custom-shape beer glasses isn’t hype: It’s precision engineering and it works. Buy yourself a set and test it against what you’re currently using. We had great results with the Spiegelau glasses.

    Beer glasses are a great gift for beer connoisseurs, and other companies have gotten the custom-shape message.

     

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    Wrong! These are traditional Pilsner glasses, specifically designed to bring out the best qualities in a Pilsener beer. That means that they won’t enhance the flavors of stout (left) and amber ale (center). But wait: The Lenox Pilsner glasses are totally different—a stemmed tulip glass! Photo courtesy WiseGeek.com.

     

    MORE BEER STYLE-SPECIFIC GLASSES

    Lenox has a new line of beer glasses in four styles: IPA, Pint With Crown, Stemmed Pilsner and Wheat Beer. And surprise: The shapes are totally different from conventional designs—as well as from the Spiegelau designs.

    The Pilsner is a stemmed tulip, like the traditional Belgian Ale glass. The IPA and Wheat Beer glasses are tall and narrow with a tapered waist, like the conventional Pilsner glass. The Pint With Crown is a sleeker version of the pub pint glass.

    Here’s what they say about their shapes:

  • The Stemmed Pilsner’s tulip shape “traps the rich aromas and helps maintain a frothy head. The thin flared rim places the beer evenly on the palate, elevating the overall taste experience.” Lenox also recommends the shape for stouts and dark beers.
  • The India Pale Ale glass, tall and slender, “is a perfect complement for IPAs and lighter ales. The contoured shape preserves a frothy head, while maximizing aroma and enhancing taste.”
  • The Wheat Beer glass has a large mouth and a narrow body, “making it the ideal vessel for wheat beers and most pale or blonde beers. By tipping the glass back, the aromas that characterize these brews are pushed to the nose, thus allowing the drinker to enjoy the beer’s full flavor.”
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  • The Pint With Crown is the English-style pub glass that serves an official imperial pint, approximately 20 ounces. “Ideally sized for generous pours of pale ales and lagers, this pint’s curved lip cultivates foamy heads.
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    Frankly, we bet on the precision of the Spiegelau glasses. We’ve tasted with them, and they work! There are no better glassware engineers on earth than Riedel, the parent company of Spiegelau.

    We haven’t tried Lenox or other contenders, and you can’t be sure without trying. So we’ll keep testing, and will keep you posted.
     
    CAN’T WAIT TO TRY THE GLASSES?

  • Lenox Tuscany Beer Glass Collection, set of four styles, $32.12
  • Spiegelau Tasting Glasses, set of four styles, $34.99 (includes the glasses described above plus a lager glass)
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    If you don’t care about precision engineering but like the idea of different glass shapes for different beers, try:

  • Libbey, set of six styles, $19.99 (these glasses are traditional styles, not made with modern engineering to optimize the flavors and aromas)
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    TRADITIONAL BEER GLASSES
     
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    See the original chart at DailyInfographics.eu.

      

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