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Hungry Man's Gide is content about food and cooking, dining, travel, drink and lifestyles for readers who hunger for adventure, fun and a great life.

Drink

The peculiarly delightful tale of a Scottish Gin

Tim Rutherford

Hendrick's Gin is distilled from 11 botanicals -- cucumber and rose petals make it special.

   It is loved and loathed. Governments have levied huge taxes against it and riots filled the streets. It can be had for pocket change or priced for kings. All this, and the moniker “mother’s ruin.”

hendriks bottle.jpg

   “It” is gin, the distilled spirit most known for its often potent flavor of juniper berries. With a family tree reaching to the 13th Century, gin rose to stature in England during the so-called “Gin Craze” of 1695-1735. Poor quality barley unfit for beer brewing was gin’s foundation and made it cheap enough to fuel the masses. During this time, more than half of England’s 15,000 registered drinking establishments were gin shops. By the 1730s, consumption in London had risen to the equivalent of 2 pints per week per Londoner. Politicians and religious leaders argued that gin drinking encouraged laziness and criminal behaviour.

   The Gin Act of 1736 was an attempt to quell gin’s hold on Londoners – but the tax pushed drinkers to revolt and riot. Stalwart government leaders clung to the prohibitive measure until its repeal in 1742. Parliament tried to regulate gin again in 1751 -- requiring sellers to be licensed and encouraging men to drink beer.

   But enough history patient readers. Let’s get on with this business of 21st Century gins – born of majestic copper pot stills and a far cry from the simple concoctions of the past. Modern gin at its best is a complex beverage showcasing distillers’ mastery of infusing botanical flavors and aromas.

   No sirs and ma’ams – this is not your grandfather’s gin. No more wincing faces or turned up noses. Brace yourself for gin that is a splendid base for refreshing cocktails and can be sipped on the rocks with sweet enjoyment.

Fred Parent

Fred Parent

   One such gin, and notably THE gin that occupies my bar top is Hendrick’s. Its squatty, distinctive earthenware apothecary bottle is simultaneously classy and quaint – the stuff inside is magically remarkable. Recently, I had the opportunity to explore the Hendrick’s process and taste its evolution with the talented raconteur and brand ambassador Fred Parent.

   Fred is, in his own words, "a peculiar imbiber, tippler, potent potion inscriber, unusual occasion devisor, and juniper elixir mixer with skills in corpse revival. He views the world through rose colored lenses, and rides a cucumber chariot through the winding roads less traveled. On a quest to study the mystical and inexplicable, for a birds eye view of what makes this planet digable.”

   Dude is crazy – crazy cucumber cool. Fred’s journey began slinging drinks and shaking together concoctions in the bars and night spots of New York City. He was a fixture in the trend-driving Harlem cocktail scene. His love of gin – particularly Hendrick’s – married with his passion for music and music history. Today Fred travels the country weaving together a hip tale of music, gin and the gospel of Hendrick’s.

   What makes Hendrick’s special? Hendrick’s is the marriage of two different spirits from two rare and unusual stills: the Bennet still and the Carter-Head still. By combining the two, the Scottish distillers create an extraordinarily smooth gin that has peculiarly enjoyable character and balance of subtle flavors.

   In all, 11 botanicals are used to craft Hendrick’s complex and inviting flavors. But, for me, it’s the subtle and consistently present character of cucumber and rose petal that is so alluring. Fred explained, and then we tasted, each of those extractions. The flavors are created separately from Hendricks two-still process and blended after the distillations are merged. The tasting included samples of gin straight from each still, then blended, then combined with cucumber and rose for the final product. From what are essentially very raw, high alcohol distillates, Hendrick’s arrives smooth as silk and deliciously refreshing in its final form.

   Well made, complex gin is an exploration for many of today’s drinkers – it’s a spirit often overlooked amid the overcrowded array of other clear spirits. It is well worth the time to try – get a bottle of Hendrick’s and give it a spin in these recipes.

Hendrick’s Martini

   This iconic cocktail shows off Hendrick’s Gin nearly perfectly. Cool, refreshing and even more enjoyable garnished with a thin slice of cucumber!

INGREDIENTS:
8 Parts Hendrick's Gin
1 Part Dry Vermouth

PREPARATION:
Combine all in a mixing glass, stir to dilute, and chill. Strain into a martini glass.

Martinez Cocktail

   Considered a predecessor of the gin martini, the Martinez gets a hint of sweetness from the vermouth and Maraschino liqueur. Bitters add some zip to this classic cocktail.

INGREDIENTS:
2 Parts Hendrick's Gin
1 1/2 Parts Sweet Vermouth
1/5 Part Maraschino Liqueur
Dash Angostura Bitters
Dash Orange Bitters.

PREPARATION:
Combine all ingredients in cocktail shaker and shake hard over ice. Strain into martini glass and garnish with orange zest.

Corpse Reviver

   There are a variety of Corpse Reviver recipes – all “hair of the dog” hangover “cures.” This recipe first appeared in the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Handbook and uses a splash of absinthe for flavor and color.

INGREDIENTS:
1 Part Hendrick's Gin
1 Part Cointreau
1 Part Lillet
1 Part Lemon Juice
Dash Absinthe

PREPARATION:
Combine all ingredients in cocktail shaker and shake briskly over cubed ice. Double strain into cocktail glass.

Asheville on tap: Tasting your way through a river of beer

Tim Rutherford

Highland Brewing Co. rooftop taproom overlooks the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Highland Brewing Co. rooftop taproom overlooks the Blue Ridge Mountains.

FYI: April is North Carolina Beer Month – and no better time than to offer you some ideas on touring and tasting Asheville’s breweries. Remember too that there are even MORE breweries just outside of Asheville Metro. The best place to get an overview into Western North Carolina brewers is to hit up the NC Brewers Guild website where you will find more info on Beer Month and can access this printable map of North Carolina Brewers. Click on the brewery names to hit their website for more details on evenets, food trucks and more.

By Tim Rutherford
   As a transplanted food and beverage writer I still field lots of questions about destinations in Savannah and along the Georgia coast.
   More and more folks are finding out that I live in Asheville, NC, now and are writing to help plan a trip to Western North Carolina. Many of these travelers are craft beer fans – and their question is innocent enough:
   “Hey, I’m gonna be in Asheville for three days. Which breweries should I visit?”
   The answer isn’t so straight forward. The Asheville metro area has more than two dozen breweries. Cross the county line in any direction and another nearly 30 breweries are waiting for you to pull up to the bar.
   With only three days you’re gonna need to pare down your expectations. I’ve hit ‘em all – and am here to help. The colorful foliage that attracted you in October is turning green again, the air is crisp and clean – and the beer is cold.  Buckle up, arm-twist someone to be your designated driver – and let’s go!

Top Five craft breweries not to miss

   These brewers are the pioneers, the innovators and the stalwart destinations. For a first timer this is a good starting itinerary.
Highland Brewing Co.: Speaking of pioneers, this mountaintop brewery was Asheville’s first legal brewery since Prohibition. Highland paved the way for other area breweries and emerged as one of the Southeast’s most dependable brewers. Recent years have seen the brewery’s experimental program grow, new labels added and the entire facility upgraded as a beer-fan destination. From its expansive meadow – perfect for outdoor events and concerts -- to a huge taproom with live music , a special event venue and a rooftop biergarten featuring panoramic views of the mountains, Highland Is living up to its slogan: ”Just a wee bit different.” 12 Old Charlotte Hwy.
Hungrymansguide pick: Highland has a solid stable of great beers and has gown more aggressive with seasonal and special releases beginning in 2016. One of those beers, Mandarina IPA, has emerged as my go-to Highland offering. Brewed with nuanced German Mandarina Bavaria and Hull Melon hops and bold, juicy American oranges, expect intense orange and tropical notes and a crisp, bright finish. 5 ABV.

Wicked Weed Brewing: Since its founding in 2011, Wicked Weed has focused on crafting fan-pleasing interpretations of American Ales and Belgian-styled beers. Its robust Pernicious American IPA brought home silver from the 2015 GABF – but is a gold medalist to devout followers. A second location – Funkatorium – is the backdrop for Wicked Weed’s barrel-aged and sour programs. Both locations are cool chill spaces, serve awesome food and a line-up of beers that is both mind-blowing and truly delicious. 91 Biltmore Ave. Funkatorium: 147 Coxe Ave. NOTE: Since this story was written, Wicked Weed Brewing announced its acquisition by InBev -- the EU-based parent company of Anheuser-Busch. Read more about the acquisition by following this link.
Hungrymansguide pick: I'm going with Freak of Nature, a double IPA that's a solid homage to West Coast style IPA. Ridiculously robust but still well-balanced, it'll sneak up on you with 8.5 ABV.

Catawba's South Slope taproom is flanked by Buxton Hall BBQ and Vortex Doughnuts.

Catawba's South Slope taproom is flanked by Buxton Hall BBQ and Vortex Doughnuts.

Catawba Brewing: This is another pioneering story. Forged from equipment out of a defunct Colorado brewery and housed in a near dilapidated warehouse in Glen Alpine, NC, Catawba is one of those craft brewer stories that began as a hobby – and turned into a passion-fueled business. Since its founding in 1999, Catawba experienced steady growth and today a 30-barrel brew house in Morganton, NC, produces nine flagship beers. A taproom on Asheville’s popular South Slope brews small batches and is home to the barrel-aging program. Another taproom in Biltmore Village makes getting a taste of Catawba convenient. South Slope: 32 Banks Ave. Biltmore Village: 63 Brook St. Morganton: 212 S. Green St.
Hungrymansguide pick: Brown Bear Brown Ale. Hints of cacao, toffee and toasted notes. Silky smooth malt character. 5.2 ABV.

For more info on the dynamic Asheville brewing scene, visit the resources on the Asheville Brewers Alliance website.

Green Man Brewery: With a history that reaches back to the early days of Asheville craft beer (1997), Green Man has evolved from a brew pub to a full production brewery. In 2016, the 3-story landmark “Greenmansion” rose on Banks Avenue to house a 20,000-sf brewhouse and packaging facility, merchandise store and an indoor/outdoor taproom that offers a spectacular view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This was one of the first craft brew pubs visited by Hungrymansguide – way back in 2001. Green Man has continued on an evolving and innovative path. Its original brewhouse – now dubbed “Dirty Jack’s" – is home to the specialty brewery and has its own tasting room. Greenmansion: 27 Buxton Ave. Dirty Jack's is just up the street.
Hungrymansguide pick: Green Man ESB. British malts and hops pay homage to this Old World style amber ale. Roasty notes, caramel flavors. 5.5 ABV.

Burial Beer Co. is dog-friendly and, on Sunday's, features live music in its courtyard.

Burial Beer Co. is dog-friendly and, on Sunday's, features live music in its courtyard.

Burial Beer Co.: From a humble start with a one-barrel brewhouse cranking out specialty brews in 2013, Burial has grown steadily to add a 20-barrel facility at its original location. Later this year, Burial’s Forestry Camp will open south of Asheville with a 6,000-sf production facility and taproom.  What is not expected to change is a lineup of regular, seasonal and specialty brews that epitomizes Burial's hands-on attention to detail. 40 Collier Ave. Forestry Camp near Biltmore Village: 16 Shady Oak Dr.
Hungrymansguide Pick: Choosing a fav here is like naming your favorite child. I’ve not had a dog in the bunch and have been blown away by the quality and imagination of the specialty brews. Still want a go-to? I’m a fan of Ceremonial Session IPA, a beautifully balanced beer with plenty of citrusy hops character. It’s also available frequently in 16 0z. 4-packs. 4 ABV.
 

Distinctively Local

   This group of breweries includes some small producers and some brewers that masterfully experiment with style. This tour is definitely for the experienced palate.
Bhramari Brewing Co.: For me, this easy to access downtown brew pub is my retreat when I want a great burger and a flight of truly remarkable experimental beers. Here, conventional brew fans will find beers styles laced with other great flavors – ranging from fiery chili peppers to a veritable spice market of adjunct flavors. The list changes frequently. 101 S Lexington Ave.
Hungrymansguide pick: I like to catch the seasonal “Rise of the Spruce” Imperial IPA. Take a robust IPA and add locally sourced spruce and honey – wow, what a mouthful of flavor! 9.4 ABV.

This somewhat daunting entry leads down a flight of steps to the cool, craft beer friendly taproom of One World Brewing.

This somewhat daunting entry leads down a flight of steps to the cool, craft beer friendly taproom of One World Brewing.

One World Brewing: Tucked in at the end of an alley just steps away from the heart of Asheville is One World Brewery. Its massive metal entry way seems like a portal into a post-apocalyptic dungeon. Guests descend into a dark and inviting basement level ale house. Here 20 fermenters are constantly at work with recipes pushed through the 1 ½ barrel brewhouse. This feeds 10 taps dispensing the hand-crafted ales that are distinctively recognized as One World’s interpretations of American and global beer styles. The husband and wife venture has a real family feel. Live music later in the evening is more akin to a house concert than a bar band. 10 Patton Ave #002.
Hungrymansguide pick: Yeah, I’m a pale ale and IPA kinda guy – so I’m reaching for an Ashevegas Pale Ale, an American style PA that’s crisp and clean with a mild herbaceous spice. 6 ABV. (Tip: This is the perfect place to experience a flight – cheerful bartenders will help you choose.

Asheville Brewing Co.: These guys have been the family-fun craft beer destination since 1998. Its three locations all tout great pub grub and an endless supply of fun ABC labels like Rocket Girl Lager, Shiva IPA and Ninja Porter. The northside location showcases the latest flicks played on its in-house cinema and has a game room for kids of all ages. Downtown, find a great, covered outdoor space with food and drink and, if you’re venture the south Asheville, find the same great beers and food there too. ABC has great distribution in local grocers – take some home! North: 675 Merrimon Ave. Downtown: 77 Coxe Ave. South: 1850 Hendersonville Road.
Hungrymansguide pick: A staple in my beer fridge is the easy drinking Rocket Girl Lager. Kolsch yeast makes this a smooth and crisp brew – a session favorite. 4.2 ABV.
 

Day or night, there's always a fun-loving crowd of beer drinkers at Hi-Wire's tasting room.

Day or night, there's always a fun-loving crowd of beer drinkers at Hi-Wire's tasting room.

Hi-Wire Brewing: One of a cluster of breweries within an easy walk of one another, Hi-Wire – by its own admission – doesn’t take itself too seriously. Still, like those daring performers of the big top high wire, these folks bring remarkable balance and drinkability to every beer they brew. The downtown location serves now as the experimental brewhouse and taproom; a Biltmore Village are “Big Top” stages the taproom and event venue around the heart of Hi-Wire’s major production facility. 197 Hilliard Ave. Big Top in Biltmore Village: 2 Huntsman Place.
Hungrymansguide pick: I love hangin’ downtown, where you can find me catching some rays and sipping Hi-Wire Lo-Pitch, a juicy IPA that citrusy refreshing, crisp and perfectly tuned. 4.9 ABV.

Twin Leaf Brewery: A stone’s throw from Hi-Wire, Twin Leaf not only focuses on great beer but has a solid reputation advocating Western North Carolina outdoors and environment – and is a mecca for cyclists, hikes and all manner of outdoorsy folks. Founder Tim Weber began home brewing in 2006 and by 2012 had Twin Leaf in production. The kid- and dog-friendly Coxe Avenue location features the freshest beers from Twin Leaf’s brewhouse – and you might even find yourself challenged to a game of giant Jenga! 144 Coxe Ave.
Hungrymansguide pick: I’m currently hooked on Uproot ESB. It’s pretty complex with great tones of bread, toast, and biscuits, along with delicious hints of caramel, chocolate, and fruit esters. 5.8 ABV.

The Destination is Part of the Fun

   These are brewers with cool settings, great beer and legendary hang-outs. Anticipate a great range of styles – and usually a food truck on on-site food.

The new, colorful Wedge at Foundation has a large special events room and plenty of seating indoors and out.

The new, colorful Wedge at Foundation has a large special events room and plenty of seating indoors and out.

The Wedge: If I need a dose of good Karma, I’m going to be parked on a bench at The Wedge. Nothing but good things ever happen for me here - -and the beer is always, always, always spot on! The original location in River Arts District is my jam, but the new location, just a few hundred yards away, is cool in its own way – and allows the little brewery to up its game. Wedge Studios in River Arts District: 37 Payne's Way. Wedge at Foundtion: 37 Foundy Way.
Hungrymansguide pick: Payne’s Pale Ale is my go-to – it’s balanced, easy drinking and hoppy enough to bang around the taste buds. 5.1 ABV.

Lexington Avenue Brewing: This heart-of-downtown brewpub delivers a menu that’s a bit more aggressive than typical pub grub – and the beers are designed to match up beautifully. I love to get a window seat to watch the action and spend an afternoon sampling from a gret line-up of regular and seasonal brews. 39 N Lexington Ave.
Hungrymansguide pick: I keep going back for Amber Waves of Grain, a nutty amber ale with a touch of German hops for balance. The final product is a malty, crisp, easy-drinking beer. 5.5 ABV.

Oyster House Brewing Co.: This West Asheville joint is a real neighborhood destination – but also an off-the-radar destination for great oysters and house-brewed beers. Of course, you’ve gotta try an oyster stout and then move on to my fav Oyster House beer. 625 Haywood Road. 
Hungrymansguide pick: Bob’s Yer Uncle ESB is pleasingly bitter, boldly crisp and always refreshing. 6.2 ABV.

Upcountry Brewing: While you’re in West Asheville, scoot north on Haywood Street for a print or two at this up and comer. Formerly Altamont Brewing, Terrapin Brewing co-founder John Cochran, bought the place, re-tooled the brewhosue and re-launched as Upcountry Brewing. The kitchen and menu got a huge facelift and the beer list just keeps getting stronger. Cool place to hang – and live music makes this a great destination away from throngs of downtown tourists. 1042 Haywood Road.
Hungrymansguide pick: This is my “neighborhood” brewery and I’m currently hooked on Hopped Red, a red IA, gets my attention here. An abundance of Falconer’s Flight hops stands up against the malt bill to deliver a juicy mouthful of tropical grapefruit and lemon flavors. 7.3 ABV.

Busy nights at Blue Mountain Pizza means waiting for a table -- just enough time to enough the handful of small batch beers made at the restaurant.

Busy nights at Blue Mountain Pizza means waiting for a table -- just enough time to enough the handful of small batch beers made at the restaurant.

Blue Mountain Pizza: Go for the three taps of finely crafted, house brewed beer – stay for the pizza! A regular Friday night date for me and Ms. T.J., Blue Mountain Pizza is just up the road in Weaverville. Its two-barrel system is dedicated to brewing only for the restaurant – every beer I’ve sampled has been a winner. Due to the rotating nature of the taps – there is no favorite here. At Blue Mountain, it’s best to go with the flow and sample any beer coming from their talented young brewers. 55 N. Main St., Weaverville.

The Majors

   Three of the nation’s best known craft brewers have facilities in or near Asheville. If you love the beers, want an amazing tour experience and all the trappings of super slick brewing facilities, then build a trip around these brands. If you love these beers, you don’t’ need my opinion – I’ll just point you toward resources. Each brewery features tours, tastings, a taprooom, food and live usic and special events. Tip: Tours book up weeks in advance -- plan ahead and make a reservation online.

New Belgium Brewing Co., 21 Craven St.
Sierra Nevada, 100 Sierra Nevada Way, Fletcher, NC
Oskar Blues Brewery, 342 Mountain Industrial Dr., Brevard, NC

 

Southern Appalachian Brewery turns 5 with new stage, annual vintage bike show

Tim Rutherford

Andy and Kelly Cubbin are celebrating the 5th anniversary of Southern Appalachian Brewery.

Andy and Kelly Cubbin are celebrating the 5th anniversary of Southern Appalachian Brewery.

By Tim Rutherford

  Hendersonville, NC -- If you have a fantasy about founding a craft brewery, check in with Andy Cubbin of Hendersonville, NC, Southern Appalachian Brewery. He will share a story of a shifting landscape.

   “I don't think we could start up today like we did five years ago, Ady said. “We had six taps and only three of the beers were ours. That won't work today.”

   The stars aligned for the former home brewer. He, and his wife and partner Kelly, found their 15-barrel brewing system for a second hand price – but it had never been used. Fully loaded with gleaming stainless steel tanks, the couple set sights on a location.

   “We thought we wold move to Asheville,” Kelly said. “But as more and more breweries came on there, we eventually settled in Henderson County – we were the first brewery here.”

   Pioneering craft beer brewing in Hendersonville wasn't without its own challenges. Having a tasting room – a mainstay of small breweries – ran afoul of the county's ban on alcohol sales.

   “We had to be a private club at first – until the county began allowing alcohol sales two years ago,” Kelly said. The status was apparently not a deterrent – the brewery had 5,100 “club” members.

   Today, after a coupe of name changes and a formal distribution agreement, Andy says production is slated to hit about 2,000 barrels this year and growing the market into South Carolina is in the plans. Loyalty to flagship labels Copperhead – an amber ale – and Black Bear – a robust, malty stout – still runs high as Andy anticipates new seasonal and specialty beers in the coming year.

   “I don't have a canning or bottling line and can't see ever doing that. I'm comfortable maxing out around 3,500 barrels,” he said.

Go to the party

   Before more beer is made, there is this anniversary on April 30 to consider. The couple is kicking the annual celebration up a notch this year with a new stage and improved courtyard. In addition to beer, food and live music, Ton Up Highlands teams with the brewery for the Fifth Annual Meltdown Vintage Motorcycle Show. More than 1,000 vintage bikes coming from six states are expected in Hendersonville for the annual gathering.

For full information on all the weekend events, visit the brewery website.

Southern Appalachian Brewery
822 Locust St., Ste 100, Hendersonville
828-684-1235
http://www.sabrewery.com/

Tim Rutherford produces HunrgyMansGuide.com from his home base in Asheville, NC. He is a freelance writer, photographer,  social media content producer and marketing campaign developer. Send him a note at hungrymansguide@gmail.com.

Will Nitro Beers Bubble Up Boston Beer's Market Share?

Tim Rutherford

Boston Beer Co. has been the consistent flagship brewer since craft beer stats started being compiled. As the brewer and its Sam Adams brand soared in popularity and sales, the craft beer industry marker group, Brewers Association, had to up its production definition of craft beer to continue inclusion of Boston Beer.

There were no complaints, Boston Beer Co. founder Jim Koch is among the genuine figureheads of craft brewing and despite the growth, has continued to meet the BA definition of a craft brewer – keeping ownership close to the vest. Simply, BA’s definition says a craft brewer must be small, independent and traditional. “Small” is defined by production – now set at 6 million barrels per year.

As craft beer has grown in number of breweries – there are now more than 3,400 U.S. brewers. That number grew nearly 1,000 between 2012 and 2014. Craft beer commanded 11 percent of the overall U.S. market in 2014 – the most year of stats available. That up considerably from just a few years ago, but even with a gain in market share all of those craft brewers are now scrambling to distinguish themselves from one another.

Some have pulled in distribution and seem to going for a majority share of a regional market and development of alternate revenue streams – like food sales, entertainment venues and introduction of craft spirits or other brewery-branded food and beverage items.

For Boston Beer Co. innovation has been the strategy. The brewer has introduced a steady stream of specialty beers over the past several years. Now, it is embracing nitro packaging in hopes of getting the attention – and the devotion –  of craft beer aficionados.

Three nitro-packed 15 oz. aluminum cans are rolling out now: Nitro White Ale, Nitro IPA and Nitro Coffee Stout. Boston Beer Co. has tapped technology from Ball Corp. for it nitro widget, a cylinder-shaped fixture (a nitrogenator) in the bottom of each can that packs a blend of 75 percent nitrogen and 25 percent CO2.

Properly enjoying a nitro beer takes some sense of urgency. Pop the top and there is a rush of nitrogen. Quickly pour the beer into the center of a glass. The dissipation of nitrogen rises up, creating a dense, creamy head with draft-like character.

How is the beer?

I tried a Nitro White Ale first and was impressed with the pour and the creamy texture and mouthfeel of the beer. The beer is nicely balanced and imminently drinkable, but comes up light on the traditional White Ale flavors of Coriander and orange peel. The 505 ABV ale does deliver subtle hints of citrus and pepper – and I will certainly revisit this beer.

I could not find a Nitro IPA – 7.5 BAV – which boasts a six variety hops bill.

The Nitro Coffee Stout was right down my alley – and is a beautiful pour from the nitro can. The 5.8 percent ABV brew uses dark roasted malts to develop notes of bittersweet chocolate with hints of dark fruit. The company says Sumatran Mandheling and Indian Monsoon Malabar coffee are blended in to create a deep roast dimension to the brew.

Will Nitro Pump Up Boston Beer Co.?

Time will tell if this strategy will pay off for Boston Beer Co. Left Hand Brewing in Longmont, CO, had dominated the nitro field initially with its wildly popular Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro. Other brewers are jumping on the nitro train as well. Even with that, the huge resources and national distribution model of Boston Beer Co. has positioned itself well ahead of the pack bent on delivering a draft-like experience to craft beer fans.

It may be the bump that perpetually optimistic Koch needs to overcome a rocky fourth quarter that put the brakes on a steady growth trend. For the year just ended, 4.2 million barrels shipped (up 4 percent). Net revenues also dipped one percent during the quarter, to $215.1 million, the company said in an earnings announcement.

Citing declines across its Samuel Adams and Angry Orchard brands, total Boston Beer shipments also decreased 3 percent during the fourth quarter, to 958,000 barrels. Those declines were partially offset by growth across its Coney Island, Twisted Tea, and Traveler brands, the company said. Despite the slowdown, Boston Beer increased revenues six percent in 2015 to more than $1 billion.

“We believe we have lost share, as new craft brewers enter the market and more existing craft brewers are expanding their regional distribution, with the result that drinkers are seeing more choices, including a wave of new beers in all markets,” Koch said.

Koch added that Boston Beer would attempt to remain competitive in an increasingly saturated market by offering new styles underneath the Samuel Adams brand — including the line of canned nitro beers and a grapefruit flavored version of its popular Rebel IPA.

According to CEO Martin Roper, Angry Orchard’s declines reflected slower growth for the entire cider category, even as more companies continue to enter the market.

“The category has some fundamentally appealing aspects to it both from coming from apples and being gluten free, apart from tasting good,” Roper said in a call to investors. “We’re still positive we think we’re seeing sort of the trial balloon bursting a little bit.”

About Boston Beer Co.

The Boston Beer Company, Inc. (NYSE: SAM) began in 1984 and today brews more than 60 styles of Samuel Adams beer. Its portfolio of brands also includes Angry Orchard Hard Cider and Twisted Tea, as well as several other craft beer brands brewed by Alchemy & Science, its craft beer incubator. For more information, visit www.bostonbeer.com, which includes links to its respective brand websites.

Related Links:

Sam Adams - The Nitro Project (with video)

How the nitrogenator works

Brewers Association (BA) definition of a Craft Brewery

BA Top 50 U.S. breweries by sales (2014)

BA Number of Breweries

BA Craft Beer Sales

Review: Highland Brewing Saw-Whet Saison is a taste of tradition

Tim Rutherford

   The mountains of Western North Carolina are steeped in tradition: Music, art and culture have solid foundations built on generations of lore.

   Highland Brewing Co. Brewer Hollie Stephenson and Pilot Brewer Paul Rollow had a firm hold on tradition when they created the Asheville brewery’s first new seasonal of the year, Saw-Whet Saison. The farmhouse style ale has deep roots as well – roots that reach into quiet farmhouses tucked away in the French-speaking part of Belgium.

   Saisons (seasons) were typically brewed during cooler winter months and then stored for consumption by farm hands in the summer. Historically, the pale ales were around 3 ABV – good news for employers who allotted up to six liters per man per day! There was not definitive “style,” each farmer made a house-specific beer.

   These sturdy and enjoyable beers were almost lost in history but have enjoyed a revival, especially in the U.S. Here, brewers also craft their own expression of Saison, but the beers are dependably complex; many are very fruity in aroma and flavor. Look for earthy yeast tones with lots of spice and medium bitterness. Farmhouse ales tend to be semi-dry – and maybe present just a touch of sweetness.

   Highland’s Saw-Whet Saison pours golden with a creamy head. Aromas tend heavily toward yeasty, bread-like scents. This is a very traditional farmhouse ale – complex, spicy and with a zippy lemon character that defines the beer’s refreshing drinkability. Its 6 percent ABV is masked by the beer’s lip-smacking complexity.

   “Paul worked to develop this recipe with hoppy hybrid beers in mind,” said Stephenson. “In this Saison, typical Belgian yeast flavors meet American dry hopping, and the result is complex, spicy and citrusy. This beer excites me because it is a perfect example of what American craft beer is adding to very old and respected traditional brewing styles.”

About the Saw-Whet Owl

Saw-WhetOwl.jpg

   The saison is named after the Saw-Whet Owl, which can be found on Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy protected land in North Carolina and Tennessee. It is the smallest owl in the eastern U.S. and can be spotted perched among the conifers during the winter months. A tiny owl with a catlike face, oversized head, and bright yellow eyes, the Northern Saw-whet Owl is practically bursting with attitude. Where mice and other small mammals are concerned this fierce, silent owl is anything but cute. One of the most common owls in forests across northern North America (and across the U.S. in winter), saw-whets are highly nocturnal and seldom seen. Their high-pitched too-too-too call is a common evening sound in evergreen mountain forests from January through May.

More seasonal beers coming from Highland Brewing

   The brewery plans two other seasonals in 2016. Every Highland seasonal is named after a land feature or species protected by the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. Upcoming releases include:

  • Early’s Hoppy Wheat (April) is named after Early’s Mountain, which frames Sandy Mush, a vital agricultural corridor.
  • Lost Cove Kolsch (June) is a crisp and refreshing German-style kolsch, and is named for a Prohibition-era hide-out-turned-ghost-town in the Nolichucky River Gorge.

About Highland Brewing Company

   Highland Brewing Company has crafted the highest quality beer with North Carolina mountain water since 1994. Family-owned and Asheville’s first legal brewery since Prohibition, it is a local favorite for beer fans, music fans, and families. Highland’s name honors the Scots Irish who settled in the Appalachian Mountains in the 18th and 19th centuries. Adding to the tradition of honor, Highland’s seasonal beers are named after protected features of the North Carolina and Tennessee landscapes. The flagship beer, Gaelic Ale, and other styles of Highland beer are available in nine states and Washington, DC. For details on tours, special events, concerts, sustainability efforts, the new event center and more, visit www.highlandbrewing.com.

Review: Off Color Brewing Scurry Honey Ale is a mouse that roars

Tim Rutherford

Off Color Brewing is in Chicago. The Windy City. Home to the never-say-die Cubs. Da Bears. Deep dish pizza and a vital culinary scene.

It’s also home to The Second City comedy troupe. That was the playground and testing grounds for iconic funny folks like John Belushi, John Candy and Bill Murray. Dan Aykroyd, Chris Farley and Mike Meyers also did stints there…and the list goes on.

It was perhaps this chronic exposure to funny ass people that triggered the off color sense of humor possessed by this brewery’s founders, John Laffner and Dave Bleitner. It is a joy to read their sarcastic, inside joke-laden website.

It is an even greater pleasure to drink their beer. It’s not off color. It is off center…but Dogfish Head had already nabbed that phrase.

The duo are grads of the famed Seibel Institute and did gigs at some of big brew houses before convincing people with jobs to invest in a new brewery. The result is a collection of brews that are free-wheelin’ examples of classic styles and generally very delicious concoctions. What you won’t find among the range are off-the-shelf IPAs, stouts or other mainstream examples of the brewer's art.

Being at the end of the beer pipeline, I stumbled on one label from Off Color at Savannah’s Hops & Barley beer store. I’ve got the word out that I wanna review others – stand by.

In the meantime, let’s crack open Off Color Scurry, a year-round dark honey ale. Obviously, there’s a nod to bees with the honey. There’s also a dose of molasses and a five-grain malt bill that includes oats and chocolate malt.

See where this is going?

Not so fast. A trio of Old World origin hops tackle the bitter task of, well, being bitter. Strisselspalt, Nothern Brewer, and Hallertau Hersbrucker temper what could have been an overly sweet beer. Thanks for the control dudes!

The result is an ale that represents its roots with honor, drinks clean and well-balanced and is as enjoyable by itself as it is aside a hamburger. Scurry pours as dark as a moonless night on Lake Michigan with a dense, nutty colored head. Aromatics conjure up the scent of pure honey. On the palate, the dark tang of molasses, chocolate and toasted oats are predominate.  I consider its 5.3 ABV manageable enough to imbibe. 18 IBUs help keep ’er bitters in trim, cap’n. I like it, I really do. I gave it 4.5 over at beer social media site Untapped. No one gets a 5...yet.

I don’t usually say much about packaging. Talking about packaging is like talking about a restaurant’s interior design – that usually means the food is bad. In this case, however, Off Color’s packaging reflects the lighthearted attitude and devotion to detail shown by its founders. Cartons and labels are simple, clean and fun. Consider this my rare endorsement of an animal label.

 

 

 

Review: West Coast-style Highland IPA one of 12 new beers in 2016

Tim Rutherford

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The majestic beauty of the Western North Carolina mountains is undeniable. Even amid that splendor, a visit to the crashing surf and sunshine of the West Coast can be refreshing. Head Brewer Hollie Stephenson takes drinkers on that journey with the first of Highland Brewing Company’s 2016 releases, a West Coast-style India Pale Ale with American Chinook, Citra and Centennial hops from the Pacific Northwest.

"Highland IPA will be my favorite in the Southeast,” said Stephenson. "There are some good specialty IPAs in North Carolina, but as a year-round offering that is drinkable and edgy, I think Highland IPA is unique. It is assertively bitter, but not overwhelming. The ABV is higher than what you see in a lot of new IPAs, but not so high that you can’t go back for another. For me, Highland IPA is a pint or bottle of what defines a West Coast IPA."

The beer is a model of rue to Highland’s stalwart dedication to detail. This IPA pours bright and glowing – a tall glass of amber. The aroma of grapefruit is forward amid hints of tropical fruit, lemon rind and the unmistakable herbal character of hops. A sip kicks winter-dazed taste buds awake with zesty bitterness and West Coast style resin and citrus. The malt bill does its part – and lays a solid foundation for a precisely balanced beer.

Highland IPA will join 11 other new beers the 22-year-old brewery will debut in 2016. Highland will release two other year-round beers, three new seasonals, two new Warrior Series beers and four Kinsman Project beers in 2016.       

“Our vision for intentional growth and our talented team inspired the additions of a West Coast IPA and other exciting styles to our portfolio,” said Leah Wong Ashburn, president of Highland Brewing Company. “At the same time, I see Gaelic growing. It’s our workhorse and my go-to beer. The combined strength of classic and new styles, done well, is our future.”

Highland Brewing Company’s 2016 additions to its portfolio includes three year-round beers:

  • IPA (January) is a hop-forward, West Coast IPA with hints of tropical fruit and citrus from Pacific Northwest hops.
  • Pilsner Blanc (May) is a classic pilsner, but dry hopped with finely nuanced German Hallertau Blanc hops.
  • Mandarina IPA (July) is a lower-gravity IPA that is hop-bursted with five pounds of hops per barrel for intense aromas of melon, strawberry and tangerine over a balanced malt body.

Three new seasonals: Every Highland seasonal is named after a land feature or species protected by the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy.

  • Saw-Whet Saison (February) is named after a tiny owl found in the higher elevations of the Southern Appalachians.
  • Early’s Hoppy Wheat (April) is named after Early’s Mountain, which frames Sandy Mush, a vital agricultural corridor.
  • Lost Cove Kolsch (June) is a crisp and refreshing German-style kolsch, and is named for a Prohibition-era hide-out-turned-ghost-town in the Nolichucky River Gorge.

Two Warrior Series Beers: Bold and high gravity, the Warrior Series pushes boundaries.

  • Tasgall II Scotch-style ale (February) is an updated version of Highland’s highly lauded vintage Scotch-style ale.
  • Rye India Pale Lager (May)

Four Kinsman Project Beers: The Kinsman Project is an exploration of infusions of year-round styles with all-natural ingredients.

  • Black Mocha Stout (January) infused with vanilla beans, freshly ground cinnamon sticks, dried chipotle peppers and cacao nibs.
  • St. Terese’s Pale Ale (April) infused with blackberries and raspberries.
  • Highland IPA (July), infusion ingredients to be announced at a later date.
  • Oatmeal Porter (September), infusion ingredients to be announced at a later date.

About Highland Brewing Company

Highland Brewing Company has crafted the highest quality beer with North Carolina mountain water since 1994. Family-owned and Asheville’s first legal brewery since Prohibition, it is a local favorite for beer fans, music fans, and families. Highland’s name honors the Scots Irish who settled in the Appalachian Mountains in the 18th and 19th centuries. Adding to the tradition of honor, Highland’s seasonal beers are named after protected features of the North Carolina and Tennessee landscapes. The flagship beer, Gaelic Ale, and other styles of Highland beer are available in nine states and Washington, DC. For details on tours, special events, concerts, sustainability efforts, the new event center and more, visit www.highlandbrewing.com.

 

Review: Anchor Brewing Christmas Ale 2015

Tim Rutherford

Aaahh, Christmas!

Snowmen, candy canes – and a seemingly endless string of “Christmas ales” to taunt our palates.

Some are hits, some are wild misses that earn a lump of coal. One that remains consistently delicious and surprising is Anchor Brewing’s annual Christmas ale.

This is the 41st year that Anchor has sent its elves across America with Christmas ale. The recipe changes every year – but the tight-lipped brewing team remains steadfastly silent about the ingredients.

I scored my bottle today, a 12 ouncer, but was tempted by the magnum that is available at Savannah’s Habersham Beverage Warehouse and also at World Market.

The beer pours so dark that you would need Rudolph’s shiny nose to cut through the blackness. A nutmeg brown head rises as steadily as Santa’s coursers vault the rooftops.

Stop me, please, stop me.

The spiced nose kinda threw off my palate, which was expecting a super spicy, very sweet ale. What the ol’ taste buds were treated to was a solidly built ale with just an ever so gentle hint of brown sugar – like the glaze on a Christmas ham. There is a mildly lingering bite from hops (well played guys) that makes the beer a perfect companion for everything from pumpkin pie to a full on holiday feast to, well, a long, quiet night sipping Anchor Christmas ale by the fire.

I should also mention that the label changes every year. San Fran area artist Jim Stitt has been drawing the annual label tree for 41 years – and does a different one very year.

This is an exceptionally well-made holiday brew – and one worthy of everyone on your “nice”
 list.

5.5 ABV

Learn more and watch a nicely produced video on Anchor’s website.

Review: Highland Brewing Black Watch Double Chocolate Stout

Tim Rutherford

   This Asheville, NC, brewery is back with the second release in it limited edition, high gravity Warrior Series of beers.
   Black Watch Double Chocolate Milk Stout pays homage to the fearless Scottish military regiment. Careful, you may have to go to war to get the last bottle.
   Like the first beer in the series, King McAlpin Double IPA, this beer demonstrates the skills of Highland’s brewers to push beyond the familiar, highly accessible beers for which the brewery has been famous. With these two brews – and four more queued up for release in 2016 – Highland is establishing itself as a brewer with great depth and creativity.
   Black Watch pours as dark as a moonless night on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The head is nutty brown and dense. As the head wanes, it becomes a crema-like frosting that tops off a delicious sipping beer. There is a definite creamy mouthfeel and unapologetic chocolate character, like a 75 percent cacao bar that finishes with a tease of hoppy bitterness. It’s no wonder: Black Watch takes on a hearty dose of more than 100 pounds of cacao nibs – a serious addition to the brew bill of five malts, Willamette and Chinook hops, roasted barley and oatmeal flakes. The aroma is straight up chocolate with a subtle hint of roasted marshmallows. Man, don’t leave this out around the kids! At 8 percent ABV, this velvety smooth beer goes a long way to warming winter’s chills.
   Hop heads will find it perhaps too sweet – but it’s the beer hops fans should bring home for spouses who lean hard into malty beers – and who favor chocolate.
   Leah Wong Ashburn is quick to credit Black Watch to the imagination and palate of tasting room bartender J Unger. “I drink stouts year round,” Unger said. “I’m constantly searching for the most chocolaty beer I can find. When it was my turn in the brew house, I figured why not make a beer that is rich, velvety and chocolaty?”
   Black Watch will be available in in 4-packs and on draft at exclusive retailers in Highland’s nine-state distribution area.

 

Five Red Wines for Your Holiday Wish List

Tim Rutherford

   I’m a red fan. The heat of summer doesn’t slow me down, nor does a dish perhaps best served with Chardonnay. I’ve told hundreds of customers, “Drink what you like.” I’m pretty good at taking my own advice.
   Going into the holidays, I’m uncorking a list of five red wines with which I’m very, very familiar. Each stands alone with unique qualities, each is a welcome guest at my table and merits your attention. All are easy drinkers, not requiring fussiness to be pleasing. Even with immediate drinkability, some can tolerate cellaring.
   Remember too that red wine should be served at cellar temperature – that means about 65 (F). Set your wine cooler or give these bottles about 30 minutes in your fridge before enjoying. In my day gig at Savannah Wine Cellar, it’s no coincidence that I have these wines in stock. Prices quoted are based on Savannah Wine Cellar retail.

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2010 Cenyth
   This is just the second vintage of Cenyth for California winemaker Hélène Seillan.  This Bordeaux blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon has stumped even my most devout Bordeaux fans – who taste the wine, fall in love, and take Cenyth home.
   Helène learned her lessons well under the mentorship of her father, Peirre Seillan, a renowned winemaker who learned his skills in Bordeaux and then became vigneron for Vérité. She continues the family legacy of nurturing Old World essence from the hillside vineyards of Sonoma County.
   While Cenyth’s expression may lean more toward Bordeaux than California, there is no mistaking the decidedly feminine aromas that Hélène has coaxed from her blend. This is an excellent gift wine and definitely a welcome guest at my table. It is imminently drinkable and with a little air develops into a rich, silky wine that is as pleasant to sip as it is alongside holiday feasts. $54.99.

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2012 Shafer Relentless
   The Shafer name is one of the most evocative for consumers. Most wine fans covet a sip of the critically-acclaimed, high-priced Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon. A consistent darling of wine critics like Robert Parker and the go-to luxury wine for elegant steakhouses, Hillside Select is without doubt a bold, inspiring California wine. 
   You can put a Shafer bottle on the table for less than $100 and still feel like a champ. Relentless, a Syrah and Petite Sirah blend, is full and rich. The velvety mouthfeel becomes a lingering finish that will make you forget about this wine’s big brother. Drinkers more accustomed to Aussie Shiraz will be stunned to find Syrah that drinks so princely, so elegantly, and so smoothly.
   This is a beautiful wine to enjoy fireside or even with a few bites of cheese. On the table, oair with braised short ribs, duck and wild game. Of course, beef is an easy and sympathetic companion. $89.99.

2012 Phifer Pavitt Date Night
   When Suzanne Phifer Pavitt and Shane Pavitt joined forces as husband and wife, they maintained date night traditions. It was great for the relationship of the two young professionals and it was the night that BIG decisions were made. When they got into the wine business, it seemed only natural to immortalize date night with luxury wines designed for those lingering suppers.
   This Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, with a tiny splash of Petit Verdot, is just such a wine. While some may consider this a “special occasion” wine, it is definitely a wine that helps make memories. First, it’s an easy drinking wine right from the bottle. I recommend decanting – an always sexy move to kick off date night. Take a sip, hold it…now swallow. Yeah, taste those layers? This wine is an explosion of aromas and flavors. It’s floral, it’s laced with licorice and dark, seductive fruit. On entry, it’s a silky feeling wine that suddenly flexes its power to end with a lingering, velvety finish. $79.99.

2010 L'Arco Rosso del Veronese
   Winemaker Luca Fedrigo of L'Arco shared with me over dinner one evening how he comes to craft his remarkable blends:
   “I have dreams, God comes to me. I wake up in the middle of the night and go out to the cellar and blend. I’m inspired by the flavors.”
   Many winemakers claim heavenly inspiration or have a supernatural muse – it’s not an unusual story to hear after a bottle of wine. What makes Luca’s tale even more intriguing is that he hails from a village in the Veneto where blending remains minimal and oak aging is a no-no. “Sometimes, the old men, they drink my wine and spit it out. ‘This is wrong,’ they say to me.”
   This wine is definitely the result of Luca’s amazing blending skill. It reads like an honor role of the region’s best red wine grapes: Corvina and Corvinone, Rondinella, Sangiovese Grosso, Molinara. And, it’s all about the fruit. Tannins are expressed cleanly and clearly but without pretense. The wine itself is beautifully layered and savvy Italian wine fans will discern nearly every one of the individual grape varieties. The finish is clean and mildly lingering. There is just enough Italian rusticity to please us origin geeks – without being overly funky.
   Good news: This is a bargain-priced wine among L’Arco’s labels. Big brother Pario sells for nearly triple the price of Rosso del Veronese. $26.99.

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2013 Brancatelli
Valle Delle Stelle

   Speaking of making a memory: This wine is what we enjoyed during our Italian vacation, much of it spent on the Agritourismo of Brancatelli. The southern Tuscan property is on the outskirts of the sleepy rural village of Riotorto, nestled in a valley looked over by the mountain fortresses of Campiglia and Suvereto. In fact, Brancatelli sits in the wine growing designation of Suvereto – just outside the fabled Chianti Classico zone.
   Here, Giuseppe Brancatelli leans on French varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc, and Syrah. It is those first two grapes that comprise Valle delle Stelle – valley of the stars. Aptly named, these grapes bask under a night sky unencumbered by manmade light, a sky filled with countless stars and other celestial bodies.
   The wine itself is as complex as that busy night sky. With just a pair of grapes, Giuseppe squeezes out a remarkable range of flavors and aromas. Fruit character is paramount to this pleasing Italian blend – a more than worthy challenger to neighboring Chianti Classico and its prominent Black Rooster label.
   Pair this wine with roasted pork or braised lamb shank. It is delicate enough to match up with filet mignon and hearty enough to compliment traditional Italian red sauces. $23.99.

11/24/2015

Review: Not Your Father's Root Beer by Small Town Brewery

Tim Rutherford

   Veer west off of Interstate 94 heading north from Chicago and you'll find tiny Wauconda, Ill., population 13,823. One of those people is Tim Kovac, who has launched this brewery with initial products that, quite frankly, will knock your socks off. While other guys duke it out for a market-making IPA, Kovac focuses on specialty beers that are earning well-deserved consumer loyalty.

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   Kovac's overwhelming success story has been Not Your Father's Root Beer, a root beer-flavored ale. Six-packs are flying off of shelves and rarely does a week pass that someone doesn't ask me about the brew.

   Hardcore beer geeks are ambivalent. "It's too sweet," one told me. "Another said, "It's not much like beer."

   Bravo guys! It is, in fact, a "root beer-flavored ale." That means, guess what, it tastes exactly like root beer: Sweet, spicy -- and delicious. It hit my palate silky and smooth, decidedly sweet and spot on to its claim of being "root beer-flavored."

   I have only found the lower ABV version around southeast Georgia, but there is a 10.7 ABV version in different parts of the country. I feel this is a great party beverage -- especially when entertaining guests who aren't into resiny IPAs or craft beers sporting macho IBUs. Taste like root beer -- but with alcohol. Not Your Father's Root Beer...it's a keeper.

Not Your Father's Root Beer year-round 12 oz. bottle, 5.9% ABV
Not Your Father's Root Beer Special Edition, 22 oz. bomber, 10.7% ABV
Visit the brewery online.

Video: Oregon Pinot Noir

Tim Rutherford

   This is a very well produced piece from Oregon Public Broadcasting that puts that state's Pinot Noir production in the spotlight. The 57-minute video examines the history of Pinot in the state and interviews many of the pioneers to propelled the rape to it prominence there.

 

Fruit beers are perfect summer refreshers

Tim Rutherford

    Fruit in your beer? Craft beer purists are either reeling with disdain or embracing fruit-inspired beers for the cool, refreshing and crisp flavors. Europeans have been on board with fruit beers for decades; U.S. craft brewers are finally scoring substantial market success of their own with beers plucked from an orchard of flavors. Here are a few to try:

21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon
   This American wheat beer is brewed with real watermelon for a flavor that's surprisingly crisp, dry and refreshing -- summer in a can. The beer undergoes traditional secondary fermentation using fresh watermelon. A straw-colored, refreshing beer with a kiss of watermelon aroma and flavor. Garnish this beer with a wedge of watermelon for an added treat! 4.9 ABV.

Samuel Smith Organic Strawberry Ale
   Samuel Smith's organic fruit beers are brewed and fermented at Melbourn Bros. Brewery in Stamford; then blended, conditioned and packaged at Samuel Smith's Old Brewery in Tadcaster; they are Certified Organic by the USDA-accredited UK Soil Association. Strawberries offer a soft and subtle flavor, making the character of this fruit beer extremely sophisticated and refined. The smooth malt and aromatic strawberry flavors merge together in an elegant fashion, with fresh, ripe strawberries shining through. 5.1 ABV.

St. Louis Premium Framboise
   This framboise has a simple and straightforward character - not unlike the humble summer fruit with which it is flavored. There is no cloying sweetness, just the market-fresh taste and sweetness of ripened ruby raspberries. With a characteristic limbic funk midway, the St. Louis Premium is as stalwart and stoic as the king for whom it was named. The raspberry flavor is neither overly sour nor sickly sweet, its body neither obtrusively heavy nor ephemerally light - it is in short a perfectly concocted fresh fruit Belgian lambic. 4.5 ABV.

Dogfish Head Festina Peche
   This ground-breaking Delaware brewery also knows something about paying homage – and Festina is a contemporary take on classic sour Berliner-Weise. Traditionally, Berliner Weisse is fermented with lactic cultures to produce its green apple-like character. To soften the intense sourness, Berliner Weisse was served with a dash of essence of woodruff or raspberry syrup. In Festina Peche, since the natural peach sugars are eaten by the yeast, the fruit complexity is woven into both the aroma and the taste of the beer so there is no need to doctor it with woodruff or raspberry syrup. 4.5 ABV.

Shofferhofer Grapefruit
   I was surprised and pleased by the easy drinking beer that’s nicely balanced. It’s a true 50/50 blend of total refreshment made from 50 percent Schofferhofer Hefeweizen blended with 50 percent carbonated juice of natural ingredients. 2.5 ABV.