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Three to try

Jester King SPON – Methode Gueuze 2016 (spontaneously fermented, blended wild ale)
Though crafted in Austin, this beer’s funk-for-days nose is pure Belgium: Lemon juice and wet hay overlay split oak while sweet verbena, pear skin and peach syrup meet the underside of a horse saddle. Even more lemon emerges on the palate (though there’s less acidic burn than one would imagine), then rhubarb and dry vanilla bean fade as oaky tannins bite. It’s an outrageously vibrant and accurate version of this hard-to-replicate style.

Cellar West God’s Eye 2017 (oak-fermented wild ale/porter with blackberries)
A purplish-brown hue clues you into the fruit addition, as does the nose: smooth milk chocolate first, followed by sweet blackberry jam, toast char and sarsaparilla with soft peanut scents around the edges. On the sip, wood character emerges right away as a sort of fresh oak greenness before blackberry skin quickly takes the reigns. The swallow is where things get interesting, as the dark malts unfurl with notes of cocoa and the lightest hint of black licorice. Tartness is very mild, more tannic than acidic. Though sweet blackberry is perceptible up front, the finish is very dry, with a focus on malty char evincing a well-made porter base.

Triple Digit Belsnickel 2016 (brandy- and bourbon- barrel-aged strong ale)
Time spent in brandy and bourbon barrels gives this strong ale a fruitcake aroma that melds scents of fig, orange and rum-raisin. The flavor’s energized by impish spice additions that layer ginger, nutmeg and orange peel between milk chocolate, sugary vanilla, fresh coconut and robust red wine. Boozy but not hot, this is one for sipping in front of a fire.

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NINE SOUR BEERS YOU NEED TO TRY

Sour beers has been on our radar for a while – they come in a ton of ridiculous, creative flavors and pair exceptionally well with food. Traditionally, sour beer was made by exposure to wild yeast and bacteria. Today, brewers add bacteria to turn their beer sour, mixed in along with fruits, herbs and spices.

Here, nine sour beers to try.

C.A.F.E. Sour from Newburgh Brewing

Calling all coffee lovers! This flavorful sour is made with Ethiopian coffee and whole grain teff, a staple Ethiopian grain used to make sourdough bread. In fact, this beer was partly inspired by Tella, a traditional (you guessed it) Ethiopian brew.
Drink with: spicy food.

Lolita from Goose Island

If you love rosé, we’re betting you’ll enjoy this Belgian style pale ale – it gets a lovely pink color since it’s fermented with raspberries and aged in French Cabernet Sauvignon barrels.
Drink with: Salmon or tuna.

Monkey Chased the Weasel Mulberry Sour Ale from Carton Brewing

Sip on summertime all year round with this mulberry sour ale, which happens to have a pretty memorable name. Carton Brewing uses a German technique that highlights the bright side of the mulberry profile. It has a low ABV, so it’s perfect for sipping alongside a leisurely meal or cocktail hour.
Drink with: your favorite barbecue.

Old Pro Tee Time from Union Craft Brewing

Don’t worry, this punny beer isn’t just for tennis pros! This gose-style brew features an infusion of house-blended “teas” made from fruits and botanicals, and comes in four flavors: tangerine, raspberry lemon, wildberry and peach.
Drink with: French bread and soft cheese.

Pink Lemonade Sour Ale from Old Bust Head Brewing Co.

Open a grown-up lemonade stand with this delightful sour ale aged with strawberries and raspberries and finished with pink Himalayan salt. This kettle-soured wheat ale is equal parts sweet and tart, and has a lovely red color.
Drink with: salty snacks or leftover Halloween candy.

Pink Vapor Stew from SKA Brewing

This unique sour beer combines Citra and Belma hops with beets, carrots, ginger and apples to create a “pink vapor stew” with a flavor that’s equal parts earthy and tropical.
Drink with: roasted root vegetables.

Pumpkin Sour from Almanac Beer

For anyone who loves pumpkin spice, this sour beer is for you. This one starts off with a spiced brown ale, aged in bourbon barrels along with roasted heirloom pumpkins.
Drink with: Thanksgiving dinner.

Transatlantique Kriek from New Belgium

This respected sour beer is made by combining two brews created a world apart: New Belgium combines lambic beer from 130-year-old Belgian brewery Oud Beersel with American sour golden ale. The Belgian brew is aged in oak and blended with tart Polish cherries for an intense, fruity finish that calls cherry pie to mind.
Drink with: desserts made with fruit or vanilla.

5th of May from Free Will Brewing

This sour ale, inspired by one of my favorite cocktails (the margarita), features key lime beer aged in tequila barrels and finished with Himalayan salt. It has a very prominent lime flavor, and one Untappd reviewer says it tastes “like a margarita with a hint of oak.”
Drink with: chips and guacamole, obviously.

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How to Taste Beer

There are a number of things that to consider before you sit down with a good beer. Glassware, temperature, pouring, taste and your overall drinking environment will all come into play as you’re tasting beers, however the most important thing is to have fun!

Check out the hints below for a fool-proof tasting experience:

Drinking Environment and Palate Preparation:

First of all, you’re going to want to be relaxed. You’ll do your best beer tasting in a place without a lot of distractions, even if you’re tasting with multiple people. Beer this good deserves your undivided attention, right?

An easy and simple way to “center” your palate, especially if you’re tasting multiple beers, is to have a glass of cool water (preferably spring water) on hand, along with a handful of unsalted crackers or French bread to munch on in between beers. These will help to cleanse and refresh your palate, so you can get the most out of each taste.

Also, you’ll want to avoid tasting a beer after particularly greasy or spicy meal – the shock your palate takes from that kind of food may hinder your experience. Similarly, if you smoke you’ll want to hold off lighting up while tasting; cigarette or cigar smoke is murder on the tongue and it greatly affects how you taste beer.

Glassware:

When tasting a beer, glassware is always better than straight from the bottle. This is especially true if that bottle is dark colored glass, versus clear or green. Your beer will look, taste, and smell infinitely better when you enjoy it from a clean glass.

Don’t be overly concerned with pairing the proper glass to the style you are tasting. In all honesty, a standard shaker pint will suffice. Clean white wine glasses will also work well for most beers. Keep in mind, you want to be able to see the beer and admire its color and brilliance.

If you’re unsure about a glass’ cleanliness, just give it a wash in the sink. Residue leftover from a dishwasher will quickly kill the head on your beer and it can even affect the flavor.

Temperature:

When it comes to most beers, temperature has a profound effect on flavor. If your fridge is too cold, those temperatures can chill your taste buds and also enhance the carbonation, dryness and bitterness of the beer, which ultimately lowers and inhibits your perception of aroma, flavor, and body.

The right temperatures will enhance body, aromatics, mouthfeelsweetnessacidity and flavor.
There isn’t really a hard-and-fast rule but there are a few guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Lagers are best consumed in the range of 40-45°F
  • Ales are best at around 50°F
  • Barleywines and strong ales should be enjoyed at 55-60º F or “cellar temperature”

If you want to make sure that your beer is ready, pull it out of your fridge for about 30 minutes, then taste it. If it is no longer cold, stick it in a bucket of ice water for about 15 minutes.

Pouring:

There’s one big thing to remember when it comes to the pour; beer is designed to foam. The technique you use to fill your cup at a keg party isn’t the technique you want to use now. In fact, if you pour a bottled beer down the side of your glass its carbonation won’t be fully released, and you’ll basically swallow gas.

For a proper pour hold the glass at a 45° angle and pour slowly down the side. Once the glass is about ½ full hold it straight and pour the rest of the beer right down the middle, raising the bottle smoothly.

If you’re drinking a bottle-conditioned beer, there will be a delicious (and healthy!) yeast bed on the bottom of the bottle. It’s up to you if you want to drink it with your beer. If so, simply leave about a ½ inch of beer in the bottle, give it a vigorous swirl to disturb and agitate the yeast and then pour it into your glass. If you choose to leave it be, leave about an ounce of beer in the bottle.

Tasting:

Welcome to the best part! After you’ve taken a few minutes to examine the color, clarity and head retention of the beer, give it a hefty swirl and don’t be afraid to stick your nose right in the glass. Take note of what you smell, whether it’s hopsmalt or other aromatics. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge what you smell; it’s all perceptive and relative. Take a sip, and let the beer roll all around your tongue and flood your mouth. Let every edge of your palate savor the flavor, and try to recognize how it feels on the inside of your cheeks. Take a few deep breaths to try and detect more flavors your tongue might not have picked up. And before your swallow, don’t neglect to notice the bodycarbonation, warmth and creaminess the beer may have. When you swallow the beer, this is your chance to feel the dryness and any aftertaste it may have. This is the moment where you’ll start to form an opinion on how enjoyable this beer was to you.

Reviewing:

If you want to remember how you feel about your beer in the morning, you may want to consider putting your thoughts down on paper as you’re tasting.

 

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8 EPIC BEER AND FOOD COMBINATIONS

In the past, if you were to ask a restaurant server in any upscale restaurant what drink to pair your food with, he would bring over a smiling wine sommelier and thus would begin your wine bottle negotiation. However, in the last couple of years there has been a paradigm shift. No longer is beer associated with football-loving, face-painting men or for simple-minded people afraid of wine. In fact, being a beer sommelier has become a fad of late. Here is our favorite beer food combinations.

Being a beer sommelier would be something wouldn’t it? If you happen to meet one, he or she will go on to tell you that beer may actually be more food-friendly than wine. While winemakers have just one ingredient to play with – grapes, beermakers can experiment with a range of ingredients like barley, hops, yeast as well as spices, nuts, chocolate, fruits, and vegetables.

Now that we have established why you may need to pass on the wine bottle the next time you are dining out, we give you 8 Food and Beer combinations you could try.

Pilsner

Pilsner, popularly known as “Pils,” hails from Germany and is arguably one of the most successful beer styles in the world.

What we pair with: American cheese, Salads, Salmon, Tuna, Trout, Asian food, Mexican food and Indian food.

Fruit Beer/Lambic

To add that subtle touch of fruitiness, fruits are generally added to beer after they ferment.

What we pair with: Duck and pork dishes, Pickled dishes, Fruity desserts and Chocolates.

Ale

Brewed from malted barley, ale is probably the second-most popular beer style. With a sweeter, fuller-bodied and fruitier taste, ale is an FDL favourite.

What we pair with: Burgers, Buffalo wings, Asian food, Fried Food, Pizza and Steaks

Bock Beer

Move over to the dark with Bock Beer – a rich, complex, lop hop style of lager.

What we pair with: Beef, Sausages, Seared food, Swiss Cheese, Jerk Chicken and Cajun food.

Porter

Black or chocolate malt gives the porter its dark brown color. Porters are medium-bodied beer that are often well hopped and somewhat heavily malted.

What we pair with: Barbecued Meat, Smoked food, Bacon, Chili and Braised dishes.

Wheat Beer

As you’ve obviously guessed, Wheat Beer is brewed from wheat and the strength of the beer depends on the concentration of wheat used. It’s normally lively and refreshing with a distinctive cloudy appearance.

What we pair with: Light soups and salads, Sushi, sweet and fruity Asian dishes; citrus-flavored dishes, including dessert and salad dressings.

Lager

This is the beer you would get if you asked for draught beer at a bar. Even our precious Kingfisher beers are lagers.

What we pair with: Grilled pork and chicken, not-too-heavy pasta dishes (without cream or meat sauces), Southeast Asian food, Latin food, Mexican food and spicy food.

Stout

The Hulk of beers – stouts are normally the strongest or stoutest porters produced by a brewery. And of course, they are dark.

What we pair with: Roasted foods, smoked foods, barbecued/grilled foods, salty foods, oysters, rich stews, braised dishes, chocolate and desserts.

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ARE SCREW CAPS FOR CHEAP WINE?

Right now, as you read this, families are divided, brother against brother, sister against sister, cat against dog. What is polarizing the world, causing nations to crumble and friends to get slightly upset at other friends? The cork vs. screw top debate—that’s what. You may have heard statements like: Corks are old fashion, like a horse and buggy in the age of the automobile. Or: Screw tops are cheap, like an H&M sweater; they’re a fad. But who is right? On which side should you take up arms? Well struggle no longer. Wine Awesomeness has implored scholars and a guy who kind of looks like a scholar; we’ve forced down liter after liter of wine in the hopes of uncovering this ancient mystery. So please, put down your mace and flail and lend us your ear, because today the battle ends.

Let’s start at the beginning: the cork, well technically the cork tree (who knew, right?). Corks are made from cork oak (Quercus suber), which are native to southwest Europe and northwest Africa. The tree forms a thick layer of bark that once it reaches the right thickness is harvested and processed into wine corks, as well as flooring and a ton of other useful stuff. What’s truly unique about this process is that unlike almost all other products made from trees, cork is a completely renewable resource. The harvesting of cork doesn’t damage the tree and so they are left uncut and allowed to continue to grow and provide a habitat for a number of endangered species. Not as wasteful as you thought, huh?

Next we have the vile, despicable screw top, coming in and trying to disrupt the industry. But where did they come from? From what pit did this scoundrel crawl out of? New Zealand?! Really? Yep, those mild-mannered, dreadlocked Kiwis are responsible for turning the wine world on its head. But why? Why veer from tradition? Like most innovation, the answer was necessity. Since cork is only stripped in nine-year intervals, a spike in demand doesn’t equate to a quick turnaround on the supply, so the cork companies weren’t necessarily scrambling to provide the developing areas of the wine-producing world (like New Zealand) with the best corks. This meant that these regions were receiving subpar corks that were more likely to produce cork taint. Not wanting their juice to taste like wet, moldy newspaper, the New Zealand wineries decided to take matters into their own hands and began using screwtops. The idea of screw tops for wine had existed since the 1970s but consumers had been slow to accept change. And how do you change the minds of consumers? Through clever marketing of course. New Zealand winemakers teamed up with their Australian counterparts and began the brilliant campaign known as The International Screw Top Initiative, which launched a dual front: focusing not only on consumers but also targeting the producers. Skip forward a decade and a half and we have the “overnight success” of screw tops.

So what’s the WA crew’s opinion of screw tops? We don’t care! We could give two spits if Saran Wrap covers the tops of bottles as long as the juice inside is awesome. For wines that are meant to be consumed young, like whites, rosés, and fresh styles of reds, screw tops are perfect because these wines don’t need to breathe. For wines that need a little age to come together, corks are really the only way to go for now; however, we’ve heard talk of a breathable screw top in the works. The way we see it, whatever is new is always scary, and many people are so stuck in doing things the way they’ve always been done that they have a hard time accepting unfamiliar technology. Kind of like my grandfather, who in the late 80s claimed that computers were a fad. Sorry Grandpa, but I can’t waste two hours a day watching videos of dancing babies on an abacus.

So what did we learn through all of this? We learned that sometimes there isn’t an answer, that sometimes it’s the question that creates the conflict. It’s not Corks vs. Screw Tops; it’s Corks and Screw Tops!

 

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Johnnie Walker Heads Into The Future With Its Blade Runner-Inspired Whiskey

Johnnie Walker is celebrating the release of the upcoming Blade Runner sequel with a bottle that revists the past, but is firmly planted in the future. The Director’s Cut limited edition is based on the Black Label bottle prop from the original movie, which has been updated and continues to be enjoyed by Phil Deckard in 2049. Limited to 39,000 bottles worldwide, the flavor has been described as “a classic Johnnie Walker Black Label style but with a contemporary twist. A dark, rich, smooth blend, with clouds of smokiness and a touch of femininity.”

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Uncle Duke’s Whisky

BrewDog, known for their wild beer and wilder TV show, offers drinks a bit stiffer than an IPA should you need something stronger. Namely, they make Uncle Duke’s Whisky, a sweet spirit in a bottle with all kinds of old school charm. With an ABV of 40% and notes of honey, vanilla, and sticky toffee, the booze is flavorful yet smooth. Perhaps best of all is how it looks on your bar cart, as the label and bottle shape look pulled from an old saloon. You can order from BrewDog’s overseas shop, or visit one of their outposts for a bottle of your own.

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Michter’s Releases A Toasted Barrel Finish Rye

This month, Michter’s is releasing a new limited release Rye whiskey that they’ve developed after years of research on using different barrel finishes. The end result is their new Toasted Barrel Finish, which is aged using fire-charred, American white oak barrels and toasted 24-month air dried wood barrels.

The Rye is bottled at 108.6 proof and has tasting notes described as “enhanced spice notes with delicate chocolate overtones balanced by some vanilla and honey, hints of roasted nuts and dates, with a lingering finish of burnt brown sugar reminiscent of crème brûlée complemented by some smokey campfire highlights.”

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Tennessee’s First Bottled Whiskey Is Back From the Dead

Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery was born in the late 1800s and quickly became the largest producer of sour mash whiskey in the area. Then it was shut down in the early 1900s thanks to a little thing called Prohibition. Tennessee’s oldest bottled whiskey is back from the dead after more than a century thanks to two brothers who happen to be great-great-great grandsons of the original founder, Charles Nelson. The brothers Nelson, operating again as Nelson’s Green Brier, recently launched Nelson’s First 108 Tennessee whiskey, a whiskey named for the 108 years since the original shutdown and the 108 barrels they had aging in the warehouse. Nelson’s First 108 is distilled from the original recipe and mellowed through sugar maple charcoal as part of the Lincoln County Process. The whiskey is available in a green label small batch bottled at 90 proof and a Single Barrel option bottled at cask strength.

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Jack Daniel’s Rye Whiskey

Jack Daniel’s, makers of the iconic Tennessee straight whiskey you’ve probably sipped on more than once in your life, is finally releasing a readily available and affordable rye whiskey that you’ll be able to add to your collection later this year. Jack Daniel’s rye has a mash bill that’s 70 percent rye, 18 percent corn and 12 percent malted barley that, like other whiskies in their portfolio, has been charcoal mellowed and matured in new American oak barrels created by the brand’s own coopers. Official tasting notes from the distillery mention “this well-rounded rye whiskey glows with accents of caramel and dry baking spice followed by a warm, peppery rye character finish on the back end.” Jack Daniel’s Rye Whiskey is slated for release in October with an estimated price tag around $27. If it drinks anything like it’s single barrel rye big brother it’s going to be one heck of value at only half the price.