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Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

Beer

15 Feb 2018
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The Rhythm, Wine and Brews Experience is coming up on Saturday, March 3. It seems to grow each year; the 2018 edition will feature the addition of the Stone Temple Pilots and a tiki bar. I’ll take “How to Get People Very Drunk” for $200, Alex. Now seems like a good time to share with you some tips and etiquette for beer festivals in general—especially how to get through them without making an absolute mess of yourself. Before I get to specific survival tips, I want to take you on a trip back in time—20 years ago, to be exact. I was a young lad taking his first overseas trip. I had been studying both the German language and German beer, and wanted to immerse myself in both. I got a job with a family just south of Munich helping them out with household and horse-stable chores. I ended up…
06 Feb 2018
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Writing a column about the history of beer is a much more daunting task than one might expect. As I stated in my last column, beer is the oldest alcoholic beverage recorded in history. In fact, “The Hymn to Ninkasi,"circa 1800 B.C., a tribute to the Sumerian women whose responsibility it was to brew beer, is one of the earliest writings that we still have today. They brewed beer by baking bappir (a honey bread), crumbling it in water, and allowing it to ferment, with the addition of honey and/or dates. The unfiltered beer then had to be drunk through a straw with a filter—much like the South American yerba mate tea. Allow me to digress here and offer a plausible theory of how the first beer came to be discovered. I say "discovered," because brewers are stewards of the yeast or bacteria that make sugary wort (the fermentable, hoppy…
04 Jan 2018
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One of the skills I had to acquire before becoming a certified cicerone (the beer equivalent of a sommelier, more or less) was pairing beer with food. In other words, the IPA I was ordering with my hamburger was research! Works for me. You may be familiar with the idea of wine dinners, but you might not know that when it comes to pairing foods with beverages, beer wipes the floor with wine. Yeah, I included that sentence to provoke a reaction with wine-lovers. The thing is … it happens to be true! Just think about how beer is made for a moment: The grains are prepared in various ways (malting, kilning and/or roasting), then steeped in the mashing process (much like hot cereal); the sugars are then boiled, with ingredients added at any number of points during the end of the boil and fermentation. With wine? There are grapes.…
11 Dec 2017
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Today, we’re going to go over some tips on how to buy beer. Before you throw up your hands and say, “Please … what is there to know about buying beer?! You enter a store that sells it, and you buy it!”—let me explain. If you drink mass-produced lager and are perfectly happy with that, you don’t need this advice. The one thing the “big boys” in the brewing industry are good at is making their beer exactly the same, every time, and getting it to you as fresh as possible, as often as possible. But if you are like me and love craft beer—in other words, you look forward to having your taste buds challenged and your mind blown—this advice will help. I have some good and bad news for you. First, the bad: There is bad beer everywhere. The good news: There is excellent beer almost everywhere, and…
06 Dec 2017
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It wasn’t that long ago that IBUs were all that mattered. International bitterness units were all the rage as IPAs ascended to the top of the craft-beer mountain, and the higher IBU count, the better—if you wanted to prove yourself as the top “hophead” in your beer peer group. Bitterness was king, and the counterbalance was a big, thick, malty backbone that sometimes made it feel like you were drinking a burlap sack. IBUs are scarcely an afterthought these days, as new catchphrases emerge to fill the mouths of craft-beer aficionados everywhere. One of those phrases—one I hear more and more often every day, in fact—is the word “juicy.” Juicy is now often used in reference to a beer, usually a Northeast-style IPA, that is particularly fruity or tropical in flavor, and actually drinks sort of like a juice as much as it does a beer. As in, “Try this…
07 Nov 2017
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There’s been a turn toward the wild and less-predictable side of beers over the past several years—and the sour-beer spectrum is evolving into a maze of conflicting substyles. Kettle sours vs. barrel-aged sours? Berliner weisse or gose? What about dry-hopped American kettle sours? Sour beers are refreshing and delicious during hotter months, but I’m going to go against the yeasty grain and delve into sours now that fall has arrived. What some non-beer-drinkers may not know—I’m looking at you, drinkers of only wine—is that sour beers can be perfect substitutes for wine. This is good news, considering that we’re coming up on the celebratory time of year with Thanksgiving feasts and holiday parties. The bright, wild, vibrant world of sours offers a wide range of flavors and intensity—meaning they’re perfect for pairing with rich dishes. Many sour beers are fermented using a strain of Brettanomyces yeast, or Brett, for short.…

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