Category Archives: Beer

Beer tasting at Café d’Alsace

Gianni from Café d’Alsace was kind enough to invite some folks from the neighborhood for an informal tasting today led by Michael from Union Beer.

First up was Thornbridge Brewery's Kipling, a South Pacific Pale Ale clocking in at 5.2%.

You can see the golden color popping in the glass.  Even with 3 hop additions, it was clean and light on its feet, with lots of fruity notes, particularly mango and melon.  The brewery manager is a Kiwi, so maybe that’s where the South Pacific style term is coming from?  This was my first introduction to Thornbridge Hall, which started in 2004, in Derbyshire, England.  Seems like they’re doing some pretty cool stuff.  According to their website, they use 18 varieties of malt and around 60 varieties of hops from all over the world.  I’d like to get my hands on their Jaipur, an IPA.

Next was Sinebrychoff's Porter, 7.2% abv.

It certainly hasn’t been porter weather recently, but unlike most porters, this is fermented using ale yeast, giving it more fruity aromas.  The smell of this beer reminded me of a barley wine.  Lots of malt and coffee sweetness upfront, but a bone dry finish.  The porter tradition in Finland dates back to the 1860s, and was the most common style until Prohibition.  The current recipe has remained unchanged since 1957.  Several months from now, I’d like to remember this recipe I came across on their website:

Ice Fisherman’s Porter Toddy
(about 6 servings)

5 cinnamon strips,
5 complete ginger roots,
2.5 dl water 120 g honey,
1 bottle Sinebrychoff’s Porter,
1 bottle KOFF Christmas Beer.
Blend and cook the water, honey and spices.
Pour the broth through a strainer.
Warm the beer in a kettle without bringing to a boil. Add the spice broth to the beer blend.
Check the sweetness and add honey to taste.
You can make a dessert that will warm your insides by mixing a drink with only Sinebrychoff’s Porter and the spice broth.
Serve with whipped cream in a heat-resistant glass or mug.

Nils Oscar Barley Wine, 9.5% abv.

My favorite of the lineup, this beer had lots of brooding fruit and reminded me of an Oloroso Sherry.  Apparently, it’s Sweden’s leading craft brewery and this beer is named after the owner’s wandering, story-telling uncle.

The Bruery's Mischief was beer #4. A Belgian-style strong golden ale (think Duvel), clocking in at 8.5%.

Dry-hopped with West Coast hops, this beer had tons of pine and grapefruit notes.  I came across this delicious-sounding recipe on their website:


8 oz Mischief
Juice of 1 lime
1 lime peel
3 large cubes watermelon (cut about 1 or 2 inches wide)
1/2-1 teaspoon hot sauce (I used Tapatio)
6 cilantro leaves (more if you LOVE cilantro)
Salt and Pepper

Muddle the lime juice, watermelon, hot sauce, and cilantro in the bottom of the glass. Add the beer. Squeeze the lime peel and pop in the glass. Top off with salt and pepper, and garnish with cilantro. Drink up!

-Recipe by Claire Thomas –

Bruery's Saison Rue, a farmhouse style, also at 8.5%. Josh from Kaia, in the background.

Lot to be said about the flavors and aromas of this beer: earthy, spicy, graphite, sage, biscuit, citrus.  I guess the Rue family had no choice to start a brewery.  You can find them in the unfortunately-named town of Placentia, CA.

Best name of the day - Beer Geek Breakfast - an oat and coffee stout from Mikkeller in Denmark, 7.5% abv.

According to their website, Mikkeller launched 76 new beers in 2010 alone (!).  Beer geek breakfast reminded me in the best way of the cold brew coffee I’ve been enjoying at home since the start of summer.

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Julia Moskin published an awesome article in the NYT this week, “D.I.Y. Cooking Handbook“.  She notes that before getting started, “it’s not necessary to understand lactic fermentation, or to learn the difference between bacon and pancetta.” 

The article reminded me of some of the successful and not-so-successful undertakings of this blog.  I need to post more “projects” like this.  I’m thinking about tea infusions and rosé vermouth for spring.

Two of Moskin’s recipes caught my eye.

Horseradish beer mustard. Photo by Hiroko Masuike for the NYT.

Moskin sourced the recipe from Jessie Knadler and Kelly Geary:

In a bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup dry mustard, such as Colman’s; 1/3 cup sweetish dark beer, such as Brooklyn Local 2 or Negra Modelo; 1/2 cup drained prepared horseradish (a 6-ounce bottle); and 1 tablespoon brown mustard seeds. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate overnight to let the flavors calm down a little. The next day, taste again for salt and pepper, and whisk in a little more beer if the mustard seems too thick. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Use it to elevate a simple dinner of sausages, roast chicken or steak.

The other:

Vin d'orange. Photo by Hiroko Masuike for the NYT.

This time the recipe is from Sally Clarke, a chef in London:

Your citrus should be organic and clean, because anything on the peel will end up in the wine. You will need 3 tangerines or oranges with a good balance of tart and sweet plus 2 lemons or grapefruit, or one of each.

Slice them in thick wheels and place them in a clean container (glass or hard plastic) with a wide mouth and a tight-fitting lid. Now add 1 1/2 cups sugar; half of a vanilla bean, split lengthwise; a cinnamon stick, about 4 inches long;2 liters rosé; (about 2 1/2 bottles), and a cup of vodka.

Stir this well with a spoon (not wooden, as it may harbor bacteria that could inhibit fermentation) and fasten the lid. Keep the jar in the refrigerator, shaking occasionally to dissolve the sugar. After about 6 weeks, mix in 1/4 cup dark rum and strain everything through a fine strainer or several layers of cheesecloth. Store in bottles at a cool room temperature or in the refrigerator; it will last indefinitely. Lovely plain or mixed with sparkling wine or water.

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Beer on the rocks

The articles just keep coming this week.

Gothamist reported that Mayor Bloomberg refused to sample any of Brooklyn’s new brews at the ribbon cutting for their recent expansion, as they didn’t have any ice on hand. 

To each his own, but ice in your beer in the middle of winter?  Also, I’m sure there’s an ice machine somewhere at the brewery.

The author is attempting to determine where the mayor picked up this habit, but his press team has so far refused to comment.

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Big Flats 1901

As you know, I am a big supporter of local booze.  Guess I haven’t been doing enough beer shopping at Walgreen’s. 

It is worthwhile to read the full article that came out on Tuesday in my home-town newspaper about this “premium” and “genuine” brew that retails for $2.99 a six-pack.  I hope the traffic up there doesn’t get out of control this summer when I’m trying to visit friends and family.

Stephen Colbert featured the beer in a segment at the beginning of this month.

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New record-holder for world’s most expensive beer

photo courtesy of

Over the summer, I posted about Scottish brewers who wrapped their “End of History” ale in animal carcasses and sold them for over $700

The priciest beer has now moved from Scotland to Australia, when last week a bottle of Antarctic Nail Ale sold for $800 at auction.  30 bottles were made by John Stallwood at Nail Brewing headquarters at Edith Cowan University in Perth. 

The bottle was sold at an auction benefiting the Sea Sheperd Conservation Society.  The Society seems to do good work.  Those of you who know me know how I feel about sharks.  I do find it odd, though, that this beer was brewed with Antarctic Ice brought back from the Sea Sheperd’s last anti-whaling campaign in the Southern Ocean.

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This beer will not touch my lips

It’s not the fact that the beer has 55% alcohol or that it costs over $700 per bottle, rather it’s that I’ve had a long and unpleasant history with squirrels.

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Spring fling

To celebrate the official arrival of spring, we picked up some Spring Fling Ale from Bluepoint Brewery.

It’s a copper ale, but that simply refers to its color.  I’ve come across pretty mixed reviews about this beer online, but for me, the beer shows a great balance between spicy hops and sweet malt.  It’s a on the fuller-bodied side, too, making it a great food partner – we paired it with roast chicken and asparagus. 

It’s certainly not as punchy as their Rastafa Rye or their Hoptical Illusion, but that’s the point.  This is an easy-drinking style that will get you daydreaming about camping, barbequing, fishing, baseball and all other modes of summer (and beer appropriate) fun.

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Fool me once

Beware certain vendors on Bourbon St., New Orleans.

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Reinheitsgebot in Vietnam

Beer for sixteen cents a pint?  Crystal Ale draft, a top-fermented beer made with passion fruit and the local, litchi-like rambutan?  Restaurants serving German and Vietnamese fare side by side?  Yes, please!

Follow thirsty Russ Juskalian on his fantastic journey through the streets of Ho Chi Minh City in this great article in this weekend’s Times.

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What better way to use old skis? The beer flight at The Shed Restaurant in Stowe, VT.

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