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Not sure what to do this year for V-day? How about incorporate BEER into the plan!?

7 Feb

I don’t know about you but there’s something about a heart-shaped Russell Stover’s box of chocolates that makes me cringe a little bit.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a “Valentine-hater,” though I’ve had my share of single girl V-days where I had to drown my sorrows in a craft brew…or two.  No, it’s just that in particular, RS chocolate isn’t very GOOD (sorry Grandma—I know you love that stuff!).  The strawberry nougats and marshmallow crèmes…eh not really my thing.  But chocolate in my beer?  Well, I can get down with that. 

            So maybe for Valentine’s Day this year try something a little different.  We have some ideas for those of you with someone special in their life and for those of you who are hoping to find someone special..at least for the night.  For the beer lov-ahs: 

 

❤ On Tuesday, February 12th, Erica and Stephen of “The Brooklyn Brewshop,” aka purveyors of those great little self-contained 1 gallon beer-making kits you see at “Smorgasburg” and various holiday markets, are hosting a Valentine’s Beer Making Class in Dumbo.  What a fun activity for you and your loved one to take part in.  The $100 ticket includes a class for two and one “Everyday IPA,” beer-making kit.  Don’t fret singles—for $70 you can get the same deal and also possibly meet the man/woman of your dreams.  Who said beer-making isn’t sexy?  Not us.  Check out http://brooklynbrewshop.com/beer-making-class for tix before they sell out!

 

❤ Hop Plants vs. Flowers.  Hmmm, this may be a hard sell, but consider this: Flowers die.  Sorry girls (and guys), but how about something that flowers and has a more practical purpose?!  AKA get your loved one a rhizome, which will sprout roots once planted and then soon take off into a wonderful, winding hop plant.

 So, this may be hard to get away with in a NYC apartment but maybe you have access to a backyard or stoop.  Sure, right now is not the time to plant but spring is coming soon.  This is seriously a gift that will keep on giving, and having access to their own homegrown hops is a dream of any homebrewer. 

If this is impossible due to your living space (or commitment issues) how about buying some dried hop flowers from your local homebrew shop and writing “I Love You,” or framing a bottle of his/her favorite IPA with a heart-shaped hop wreath?  It may be crazy, but serious craft beer drinkers really love their hops!  Nothing says “I Love You,” like a handful of Citra’s.    

 

❤ Ok, so she loves chocolate—who doesn’t?!  But on Valentine’s Day, not any old heart-shaped box will do.  How about chocolate that’s been lucky enough to be have been selected to be brewed in a beer?  The best chocolate beers I’ve tasted are usually brewed from a combination of chocolate malts (which impart a roasted, bitter dark chocolate flavor and are not only limited to chocolate stouts) and actual cocoa nibs. 

A no brainer (the name alone screams “Valentine’s Day”) is Ommegang’s Seduction.  Brewed with five different dark barley malts and most importantly, authentic Belgian chocolate (duh!) it is then blended with Liefmans Cuvee Brut, to give it a “chocolate-covered cherry,” kind of taste.  So much better than a box of chocolates, no? 

There’s also Southern Tier’s Chokolat, which I’ve recommended in the past as a great dessert beer, but if you really like your beer to taste like chocolate, you can’t get much better than this.  Warning: It is 11% ABV and if you are actually planning more than just drinking beer on this V-Day (wink wink), then make sure you limit your intake.  

Other great chocolate beers I would recommend are Harpoon’s Chocolate Stout and Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Chocolate Stout.  There are lots of other great chocolate beers out there, but these four are readily available in NYC and the immediate outside areas and are also from four breweries I happen to be a big fan of.  Love your local brewery and love their local beer.  What are some of your favorite chocolate or dessert beers?  Share them with your loved one this Valentine’s Day.

 

❤ If the “Dinner & Drinks” thing is more your style, why not visit one of your favorite “Beer Restaurants”?  I would recommend Gastropub 508 or Jimmy’s No. 43, as both will have specialty beers and food as well as entertainment next Thursday night.  I even heard a rumor that 508’s newest brewmaster, Chris Cuzme, may do a little V-Day serenading with his saxophone.  No promises, but who wouldn’t want a little table-side jazz music to pair with your meal and house-brewed beer?  Reservations are recommended for both spots, as they can certainly get crowded and no one wants to fight for a table on V-Day. 

❤ Ok, so you’re Single—no biggie—maybe you just went through a rough break-up or have been holding out for that special someone.  Any good beer bar in NYC may become a popular destination for the unattached next Thursday night, but I think that if you like pairing good whiskey with your beer, you should probably check out Idle Hands.  Why?  Because they’re breaking out the Pappy Van Winkle most likely set to an eclectic heavy rock soundtrack and paired with some great draft beers. 

  

Those are just a few suggestions—we’ll share some more in the coming week. 

 

 

            

I don’t know about you but there’s something about a heart-shaped Russell Stover’s box of chocolates that makes me cringe a little bit.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a “Valentine-hater,” though I’ve had my share of single girl V-days where I had to drown my sorrows in a craft brew…or two.  No, it’s just that in particular, RS chocolate isn’t very GOOD (sorry Grandma—I know you love that stuff!).  The strawberry nougats and marshmallow crèmes…eh not really my thing.  But chocolate in my beer?  Well, I can get down with that. 

            So maybe for Valentine’s Day this year try something a little different.  We have some ideas for those of you with someone special in their life and for those of you who are hoping to find someone special..at least for the night.  For the beer lov-ahs: 

 

❤ On Tuesday, February 12th, Erica and Stephen of “The Brooklyn Brewshop,” aka purveyors of those great little self-contained 1 gallon beer-making kits you see at “Smorgasburg” and various holiday markets, are hosting a Valentine’s Beer Making Class in Dumbo.  What a fun activity for you and your loved one to take part in.  The $100 ticket includes a class for two and one “Everyday IPA,” beer-making kit.  Don’t fret singles—for $70 you can get the same deal and also possibly meet the man/woman of your dreams.  Who said beer-making isn’t sexy?  Not us.  Check out http://brooklynbrewshop.com/beer-making-class for tix before they sell out!

 

❤ Hop Plants vs. Flowers.  Hmmm, this may be a hard sell, but consider this: Flowers die.  Sorry girls (and guys), but how about something that flowers and has a more practical purpose?!  AKA get your loved one a rhizome, which will sprout roots once planted and then soon take off into a wonderful, winding hop plant.

 So, this may be hard to get away with in a NYC apartment but maybe you have access to a backyard or stoop.  Sure, right now is not the time to plant but spring is coming soon.  This is seriously a gift that will keep on giving, and having access to their own homegrown hops is a dream of any homebrewer. 

If this is impossible due to your living space (or commitment issues) how about buying some dried hop flowers from your local homebrew shop and writing “I Love You,” or framing a bottle of his/her favorite IPA with a heart-shaped hop wreath?  It may be crazy, but serious craft beer drinkers really love their hops!  Nothing says “I Love You,” like a handful of Citra’s.    

 

❤ Ok, so she loves chocolate—who doesn’t?!  But on Valentine’s Day, not any old heart-shaped box will do.  How about chocolate that’s been lucky enough to be have been selected to be brewed in a beer?  The best chocolate beers I’ve tasted are usually brewed from a combination of chocolate malts (which impart a roasted, bitter dark chocolate flavor and are not only limited to chocolate stouts) and actual cocoa nibs. 

A no brainer (the name alone screams “Valentine’s Day”) is Ommegang’s Seduction.  Brewed with five different dark barley malts and most importantly, authentic Belgian chocolate (duh!) it is then blended with Liefmans Cuvee Brut, to give it a “chocolate-covered cherry,” kind of taste.  So much better than a box of chocolates, no? 

There’s also Southern Tier’s Chokolat, which I’ve recommended in the past as a great dessert beer, but if you really like your beer to taste like chocolate, you can’t get much better than this.  Warning: It is 11% ABV and if you are actually planning more than just drinking beer on this V-Day (wink wink), then make sure you limit your intake.  

Other great chocolate beers I would recommend are Harpoon’s Chocolate Stout and Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Chocolate Stout.  There are lots of other great chocolate beers out there, but these four are readily available in NYC and the immediate outside areas and are also from four breweries I happen to be a big fan of.  Love your local brewery and love their local beer.  What are some of your favorite chocolate or dessert beers?  Share them with your loved one this Valentine’s Day.

 

❤ If the “Dinner & Drinks” thing is more your style, why not visit one of your favorite “Beer Restaurants”?  I would recommend Gastropub 508 or Jimmy’s No. 43, as both will have specialty beers and food as well as entertainment next Thursday night.  I even heard a rumor that 508’s newest brewmaster, Chris Cuzme, may do a little V-Day serenading with his saxophone.  No promises, but who wouldn’t want a little table-side jazz music to pair with your meal and house-brewed beer?  Reservations are recommended for both spots, as they can certainly get crowded and no one wants to fight for a table on V-Day. 

❤ Ok, so you’re Single—no biggie—maybe you just went through a rough break-up or have been holding out for that special someone.  Any good beer bar in NYC may become a popular destination for the unattached next Thursday night, but I think that if you like pairing good whiskey with your beer, you should probably check out Idle Hands.  Why?  Because they’re breaking out the Pappy Van Winkle most likely set to an eclectic heavy rock soundtrack and paired with some great draft beers. 

  

Those are just a few suggestions—we’ll share some more in the coming week. 

 

 

            

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Be Thankful for Craft Beer: What to pair with your meal this Thursday

20 Nov

It’s almost turkey time in America and for each of us that may mean something different.

            Maybe you are traveling across the state or across the country to spend the holiday with family and friends.  Maybe you actually prefer to go out to eat on Thanksgiving because the idea of cooking or spending the day with your family is frightening.

            Or maybe you are the one hosting the Thanksgiving feast this year.  Anyone cooking for Thanksgiving, whether it be for a few friends or your entire family (second cousins included), knows they need to do a lot of planning and preparation for their meal ahead of time.  This year, how about introducing some great craft beer to your table to pair with your home-cooked meal?

            If you are a new home-brewer, maybe this is the time to introduce your family and friends to your hobby—Try pairing your homebrew with different dishes at the table and see what works best.  If you don’t homebrew, or don’t think that experimental ale you made last summer would go too great with your mother’s famous stuffing, there are plenty of American craft beers that would be welcome guests at your dinner table.  

            Let’s start with the meal’s centerpiece: The Turkey.  According to Garret Oliver, one of the most well-respected brewmasters (from Brooklyn Brewery) and an expert on pairing beer with food, turkey and a nice Biere de Garde (a French Farmhouse ale) are a match made in Thanksgiving heaven.  Since Biere de Gardes are not exactly commonplace and may be difficult to find locally, a Belgian-style Saison also makes a lovely pairing with the bird.  The differences between the two styles are subtle: a biere de garde tends to be maltier and hence sweeter while most saisons are lighter and crisper with nice spice notes and a floral aroma.  While both are usually spring/summer seasonals for a lot of breweries, both go great with turkey, no matter how you are preparing it.       

When I think of American-brewed, Belgian-style ales I automatically think of Brewery Ommegang.  Any of their complex beers pair so wonderfully with food!  Plus, their brews are easy to find in the NYC area.  I would suggest their Hennepin, a farmhouse saison, whose peppery, fruity notes would go great with the bird.  Ommegang’s Hennepin is certainly a benchmark version of this style that you should not have any difficulty finding in the city.   

Another beer within the same “farmhouse” family is Brooklyn’s Sorachi Ace.  The buttery flavors and lemony aromas imparted by the Japanese-bred Sorachi hop in this singularly-hopped saison would go great with your turkey dinner.

But for a more versatile and catch-all beer that goes great with more than just turkey, Ommegang’s Abbey Ale would pair well with almost everything else at your dinner table this Thanksgiving.  The Belgian-style dubbel is so complex tasting (plums, cherries, toffee, figs) that it begs to be paired with a rich, hearty meal no matter what cuisine you’ll be serving on Thursday.  Try to find a wine as flavorful or dynamic as this beer—your friends and family will certainly be impressed with its versatility!  You may even convince your wine-loving aunts and uncles that beer too, goes great (or even better) with food.   

Now on to the sides.  Mashed potatoes?  How about a brown ale or a porter.  There are several local examples to choose from including Sixpoint’s Brownstone (although I’d pour it into a nice glass and avoid the odd stares you may get from your family when drinking beer from a can) or Brooklyn Brown Ale?  While these two Brooklyn-based breweries both offer fine brown ales that pair wonderfully with hearty fare like mashed potatoes, gravy and stuffing, Smuttynose’s Old Brown Dog Ale or their Robust Porter are also great choices.  There are many more great examples out there so pick your favorite but think hearty, dark, and malty beers for your heavier Thanksgiving fare.

Although you may be a fan of hoppier American beer styles like West Coast IPAs (you and your brother love to compare notes on the latest and greatest plate-wreckers), these will not pair as well with your Thanksgiving dinner.  Unless, of course, you are implementing some major spices or going a non-traditional route with your cuisine.  But if you plan on sticking with the standards this season, I wouldn’t suggest pouring Imperial IPAs at your dinner table.  Save those beer styles for another occasion. 

Last but not least, there’s dessert.  At this point in your meal, you are most likely beyond stuffed but if you’re like me, there’s always room for that last course!  And it just happens to be MY favorite part of the meal as I enjoy doing the baking and of course, the eating.  Pecan, Pumpkin or even sweet potato pies go great with a spiced ale or any kind of flavorful stout.   

Brooklyn’s Black Chocolate Stout is an obvious choice, but I’m thinking that western New York’s Southern Tier has some great beers that would impress your guests.  If many of Ommegang’s delcious Belgian-style beers pair well with your dinner, then I would say that any of Southern Tier’s “Blackwater” beers would go just as lovely with dessert.  Their Choklat, Jah-va, Mokah, and Crème Brulee Stouts practically beg to be drunk with sweet treats.  There’s also the fall seasonal favorite, the pumpkin ale, and you know your cousin loves her spiced beers.  Southern Tier’s Pumking is a favorite of many of my family and friends, and if you can manage to find one this week (or you’ve been hoarding some all season), Thanksgiving would be a lovely time to share it.    

Hey, I may even go for (beer) seconds and skip the pie altogether!  And any of these delicious brews will make shopping on Black Friday that much more bearable…

What will YOU be drinking this Thanksgiving?