Welcome to Imbibe Magazine's between-issues look at liquid culture with drink recipes, news and more. From coffee to cocktails, Imbibe celebrates your world in a glass.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Toasting Portland, Oregon’s Holiday Ale Fest

It’s peak season for warming wintry ales, and no one knows that better than the organizers of Portland, Oregon’s Holiday Ale Fest, which kicks off today in downtown Pioneer Courthouse Square. Under a toasty canopy of heated tents, more than 15,000 beer-loving holiday revelers will gather over the course of the next five days to taste more than 50 seasonal brews from across the West Coast. Each year organizers tap participating breweries like New Belgium, Bear Republic and Ninkasi to craft one-off brews, including winter warmers, barleywines, spiced beers and even a few sours. Combine those heady brews with the opportunity to support the festival’s Children’s Cancer Association fundraising efforts for spirituous warm fuzzies all over. Tickets start at $25 and include a tasting glass and eight tokens. www2.holidayale.com

Quick Sips: Tasty Bits from Around the Web

A beer blasts off into space. Daily Mail

Should fair-trade certification extend to coffee giants like Folgers and Nestle? Mother Jones

Nineties boy band Hanson plans to launch their own beer. Its name? Take a good guess. Nme.com

Navigating the expense of a bottle of bubbles. Gilt Taste

Chinese NBA star Yao Ming takes California Cabernet to new heights. Wall Street Journal

Friday, November 25, 2011

Drink of the Week: New Belgium Snow Day

With a fridge full of leftovers and college football games aplenty, we’re spending this post-Thanksgiving day parked on the sofa with today’s Drink of the Week—New Belgium’s Snow Day winter ale. The latest release in New Belgium’s seasonal lineup, this ale is chockfull of hoppy brightness thanks to the addition of three different hop varieties, with a subtle maltiness that adds a touch of toastiness to the finish. It’s lighter and leaner than many winter brews, and it drinks like a dark IPA, making it the perfect match for a turkey sandwich smothered in cranberry sauce. newbelgium.com for retailers

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Quick Sips: Tasty Bits from Around the Web

You can bet this recipe for bourbon pecan pie will find its way to our Thanksgiving table tomorrow. Bon Appetit

Celebrating the centennial anniversary of Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. Vancouver Sun

A homebrewer sets out to re-create George Washington’s old beer recipe. Wall Street Journal

Putting a (sometimes high) price on craft coffee. Good

We’ve long heard that red wine boasts numerous health benefits, but what about beer? Some new research says yes. NY Daily News

Monday, November 21, 2011

It's Booze Bazaar Time!

We always look forward to the beginning December because it means it's time for the annual Holiday Booze Bazaar in Portland. This year's event is set for Saturday, December 3, and will once again take place at House Spirits with lots of great vendors. We'll be there offering a special deal on holiday subscriptions and signed copies of The American Cocktail, and as usual, there will be lots of delicious things on hand to sample, including goodies from:

Chop Butchery
Dry Soda
Portland Pepper Sauce
Sassafras Catering
Som Drinking Vinegars
Steven Smith Teamaker
Stumptown Coffee
Theo Chocolate

The folks at House Spirits will also be releasing their second batch of House Spirits Coffee Liqueur, which is made with a double-distilled, 100% Barbados molasses rum and blended with coffee from Stumptown, Demerara sugar syrup, cinnamon and sweet orange peel.

This is always a fun way to spend a Saturday and to score some great holiday gifts while you're at it. Hope to see you there!

Event: 6th Annual Holiday Booze Bazaar
Date: Saturday, December 3
Time: 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Where: House Spirits Distillery, 2025 SE 7th Ave., Portland, OR
Details: This event is FREE and open to the public, 21+ in age or accompanied by a parent. House Spirits will be doing complimentary mini cocktails and spirit samples during the event

Friday, November 18, 2011

Drinks of the Week: Turkey Day Tipple

Thanksgiving is peeking around the corner, and if you’re still deciding what drinks to pair with all the festive flavors of the day, our current issue offers lots of tasty suggestions, and for today’s Drink of the Week we thought we’d check with a few industry insiders to see what they’re planning to pour next Thursday. From inky-black brews to classic cocktails with seasonal twists, there’s plenty of inspiration to be drawn from their plans.

Greg Engert
“I like to bust out some special-occasion beers for this day of delicious indolence,” says Washington D.C.-based Birch & Barley and ChurchKey beer director Greg Engert. Among those celebratory brews? “A couple of insane sours that I think will work nicely as aperitifs and with brined, dark turkey meat,” says Engert, “as well as some Allagash Mattina Rossa—an amazing ale that’s brewed with raspberries and aged for 18 months in oak barrels with wild yeasts and bacterias—and some Coolship Red, which is spontaneously fermented then barrel-aged on raspberries.” And lucky for his Turkey Day guests, the beers will flow right into dessert, with Engert dipping into his stash of Surly Darkness Russian Imperial Stout and 3 Floyds' Dark Lord. “We don't tend to do too much chocolate during Thanksgiving, and for good reason—these decadent tipples are intensely chocolaty, nutty, coffee-ish, and even boast some undertones of dark forest fruit,” he says. “Resisting the urge to drizzle these on some pumpkin or pecan pie and ice cream is difficult.”

Bob Scherb
Whether we’re looking for that hard-to-find bottle or trying to decide which wine best pairs with dinner du jour, Portland, Oregon bottle shop Liner & Elsen never lets us down. Which is why we wanted to know what owner Bob Scherb plans to pour this Thanksgiving. “You can never go wrong with Burgundies, both red and white,” he says. “But the auslese Riesling from Jos. Christoffel Jr. is also just magical.” And Scherb knows that a celebration isn’t the same without some bubbly, which is why he plans to keep the stunning and inexpensive Loire Valley-produced 2005 Huet Petillant on hand. “Sparkling wine is must for every occasion,” he adds. “In fact, there’s really no reason to wait to open a bottle.”

Cora Lambert
As coffee director of Manhattan’s RBC NYC, Cora Lambert is used to finding flavors to match people’s palates, and for her family’s Thanksgiving celebration in Chicago, she’ll be doing the same. “I’m planning to brew Honduras, Las Manos from Ritual Coffee Roasters without a doubt,” Lambert says. “It’s sweet, juicy and easily the best coffee I’ve had all year.” But Lambert’s not stopping at coffee. “I have a real obsession with Rum Old Fashioneds,” she says. “And relatives love when you break out the classics!”

David Wondrich
This year, Imbibe columnist David Wondrich plans to spend Thanksgiving relaxing at home with family—but with a few good tipples, of course. “I've got a couple of big bottles of Brooklyn Brewery Black Ops set aside,” he says, “and also some lovely Ransom Pinot Noir from Oregon—that should do it.”

Marko Karakasevic
Most recently featured in our November/December 2011 issue, Charbay’s master distiller Marko Karaksevic plans to kick off Thanksgiving with some locally brewed beer. “My brother-in-law loves beer, so Bear Republic’s Racer 5 is a must,” Karakasevic says. Charbay’s whiskey is even distilled from it. “It’s so much fun to taste the beer and then the whiskey made from that beer,” he says.

Jane Danger
For Jane’s Sweet Buns bakery co-owner Jane Danger, the booze gets baked right into her cocktail-inspired sweet treats (bourbon, rum and even Aperol-spiked pastries), with a seasonal Sherry Cobbler-inspired bun even finding its way into the pastry case just in time for the holidays. But at home, spirits find their way back into the mixing glass for this bartender-turned-baker who plans to fill her cup with “sherry, vermouth and apple brandy, for sure,” she says. “I love bourbon and rye, but for some reason this season I'm all about those three.”

Chris Hannah
For New Orleans barman Chris Hannah, Thanksgiving is all about enjoying the flavors of the season and celebrating with friends. After toasting opening day at the local racetrack (“I’ll flask the Winter Waltz cocktail, wear a suit and socialize with other bartenders,” Hannah says), the crew then plans to hit several service industry "family" gatherings, where Hannah says he’ll mix a variety of classic cocktails with a seasonal slant. “I get dressed up and show up with friends at a friend's,” he says, “then it's stop after stop after stop until I'm back home.”

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Quick Sips: Tasty Bits From Around the Web

The Grand Canyon’s effort to ban plastic water bottles has a big-name soda brand crying foul. The Atlantic

American-brewed Monastic beers are on the rise. The Washington Post

Will paper wine bottles soon be hitting shelves near you? The Wall Street Journal

One writer’s picks of the most mushroom-friendly wines. CNN

Are growlers good or bad for beer? Craft brewers weigh in. Bon Appetit

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What We’re Drinking Now: Winter Beer Seasonals!

The tasting table at Imbibe is teeming with seasonal brews, so yesterday we took a break from our computers to sample the wares, and we found a few worth a shout-out. Here are the highlights:

Grand Teton Brewing Co. Coming Home 2011
9% ABV, Victor, ID
This tripel from one of the most consistent brewers in the Gem State stays true to the Belgian style with just the right amount of barnyard funk on the nose, delicate pepper and clove flavors, and a rich, creamy mouthfeel.

Wachusett Winter Ale
6.1% ABV, Westminster, MA
Brewed with four kinds of malts, this Wee Heavy winter ale is light and easy-drinking with notes of ripe apples, subtle spice and a crisp, clean finish. We could definitely drink a second.

Boulevard Harvest Dance Wheat Wine Style Ale
9.1% ABV, Kansas City, MO
A wheat ale mixed with two types of hops and then aged in French and American oak, this is definitely a wine lover’s beer with a great balance of ripe fruit flavors, wine-like acidity and a dry, oaky finish. A great match for holiday turkey with all the trimmings.

Lagunitas Sucks Brown Shugga’ Substitute Holiday Ale
7.85% ABV, Petaluma, CA
When Lagunitas realized they didn’t have the capacity to brew their wildly popular Brown Sugga’ Ale this winter, they instead brewed up a batch of this “cereal medley,” so called thanks to its mix of barley, oats, rye and wheat. But thanks to a generous dry-hopping, this beer explodes with hop flavors of grapefruit, peaches and pine resin. A nice counterpoint to the sweeter beer styles of the season.

Sweetwater Festive Ale
8.5% ABV, Atlanta, GA
This beer pours dark and thick, but it’s surprisingly (and pleasantly) light and dry on the palate with notes of molasses, cocoa and just a touch of cinnamon.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Q&A with Joshua M. Bernstein, Author of Brewed Awakening

In his inaugural book, Brewed Awakening, Imbibe contributor Joshua Bernstein taps into the current culture of craft beer, exploring everything from new hop varieties to emerging nanobreweries to experimental extreme beers, all dosed with his trademark wit. We recently caught up with Bernstein between stops on his book tour (he’s traveling throughout the Pacific Northwest, California and New York—click here for exact dates and locations) to chat about how many beers he tipped back while researching, which city he thinks boasts the best suds, and the strangest brew he’s ever tasted (hint: it involved four pig heads).
$25, amazon.com

Imbibe: If you had to venture a guess, how many beers would you say you consumed while researching Brewed Awakening?
Joshua Bernstein: Dear god, I'd have to say the number is well over 1,000, if not 2,000 or higher. The thing with craft beer is that there are so many terrific flavor profiles, you want to keep sampling, again and again, until you've tried them all. Or at least come close. But sampling does not have to mean drinking an entire 750 ml. bottle, or a longneck.

What were you most surprised to learn in your research for the book?
I was struck by just how far and wide craft brewing has spread across America. Yes, we talk about cities such as Portland and Seattle with reverence, but it's spots like Athens, Ohio—where Jackie O's makes marvelous barrel-aged beers (and where I went to school!)—as well as Worth Brewing in Lilliputian Northwood, Iowa, that are bringing craft beer to cities where it may not been so commonplace. This is not an urban movement. It's a national awakening of craft beer consciousness.

Of all the places you've traveled, where have you found the best beer?
What a loaded question! I better tightrope this one. Of course, the dual Portlands are terrific for craft beer, but in all my travels, I've found that each city's craft beer scene is delightfully idiosyncratic, packed with people who just want a terrific pint. Heck, I’m in New Orleans right now, a city not known for top-notch ales. But the Avenue Pub, right down the road from my hotel, is a heavenly haunt with dozens of delicious, carefully sourced beers on tap. The thing about craft beer is that, pint by pint, it's thoroughly saturating American culture.

What's the most unusual beer you've ever tasted?
At the GABF this year, I had Right Brain Brewery's Mangalitsa Pig Porter. This porter does, indeed, count swine as an ingredient. The Michigan brewery includes four cold-smoked Mangalitsa pig heads—brains removed, mind you—and bags of bones in each batch of porter. The result is slightly smoky and curiously, compulsively drinkable.

Describe your ideal beer for us.
Something I can have three of and still want a fourth. I like balance, a hit of hops and not too much sweetness.

If you could have a beer named for you, what would be in it?
There is a beer named for me! White Birch Brewing in New Hampshire made a wild ale–dosed barley wine in honor of Brewed Awakening. I now possess three of the 48 bottles in existence.

What do you think is the most under-appreciated beer?
I always tell people never to sleep on the Mission Street Series from Trader Joe's. The beers are made by Firestone Walker, and the pale ales and IPAs are as stunningly delicious as they are affordable.

When you're not drinking beer, what are you drinking?
I have a booze credenza filled with dozens of different bourbons and whiskeys. I like a nice, stout pour backed with a couple ice cubes.

What did you pour yourself as soon as you hit send on your book?
I marched to my corner bodega and nabbed a few IPAs from the cooler: a Cigar City Jai Alai IPA and a Founders Centennial, if I recall.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Drink of the Week: Sumatra Lake Tawar from Bird Rock Coffee Roasters

You can bet when a former teacher gets into the coffee business he’s going to do his homework, and for the man behind today’s Drink of the Week—the Sumatra Lake Tawar from San Diego-based Bird Rock—that discipline has paid off. It was a decade ago when then English professor Chuck Patton received a home roaster from his wife, and he was instantly smitten, so much so that he set out to launch his own coffee company. Today Patton is direct-importing single-origin beans from around the world and roasting some of the best coffees in SoCal. And we’re not the only ones to notice—Roast magazine recently named Bird Rock its 2012 Micro Roaster of the Year. We’re particularly fond of the Sumatra Lake Tawar—it’s earthy and dense, with traces of dark chocolate and a kiss of grapefruit and dried cherries on the finish.
$15.75/12 oz., birdrockcoffeeroasters.com

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Quick Sips: Tasty Bits from Around the Web

Eric Asimov on how to pick the perfect wines for turkey day. New York Times

Washingtonians vote to privatize liquor sales. Seattle Times

The Chinese wine industry gains momentum. Reuters

Is coconut water more than just a passing fad? Slate

Looking to start a wine collection? These tips will get you going. Wall Street Journal

Exploring the evolution and nostalgia of the red Solo cup. NPR

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

A Nov/Dec Correction

In the Nov/Dec issue, Paul Clarke explores the evolving cocktail scene of Seattle, where a new wave of cocktail bars is raising the art of the cocktail to new levels. Among the bars we feature in the story is Vito's, which serves an impressive array of classics and new creations. In the article, we named Jared Scarr as Vito's bar manager, however, Justin Gerardy is the bar manager. If you get the chance, be sure to head over to Vito's to see Scarr and Gerardy's handiwork firsthand, and be sure to try the Akimbo cocktail with rye, Campari and Barolo Chinato—well worth the trip!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Drink of the Week: Rittenhouse Inn Wassail Punch

It's time to cozy up with a warming winter drink, and we can't think of a better way to do that than with a mug of wassail. Wassail is a deeply rooted tradition in the Midwest and a popular regional staple throughout the cold-weather season. Every winter as the holidays approach, many Wisconsinites still take part in the age-old “wassailing of apple trees,” a ritual dating back to the 15th century that involves sprinkling wassail on apple trees to ensure a strong, healthy harvest and to keep the trees safe from evil spirits. Wassail always blends apples and winter holiday spices, but the sweeteners and spirits often change from recipe to recipe. In this recipe, which is featured in Imbibe's new book The American Cocktail, the cranberry juice is a perfectly tart counterpart to the sweetness of the apple cider and brown sugar, and the bourbon lends a full, rich quality, and the ginger, pepper, and spices offer a final kick of flavor. It comes from The Rittenhouse Inn in Bayfield, Wisconsin, an area that leads apple production in Wisconsin.

Photo by Sheri Giblin

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Domaine de Canton's 2012 Bartender of the Year Competition Is On!

It's that time of year again. Domaine de Canton has announced the 2012 Bartender of the Year Competition. The grand prize for this one is a doozie—$10,000—and the finals are held in French St. Martin, which is amazing in and of itself. To enter, all you need to do is submit an original cocktail recipe featuring Domaine de Canton, and the submission deadline is February 28, 2012.

Click here to check out a fun video that gives a little sneak peek at what the competition is all about. And head to domainedecanton.com for more details, guidelines and inspiration.