Category Archives: Learn About Beer

5 Questions With Alex

Meet Alex McIlwee – our brand-spanking new (female!) Beer Manager. (Not many ladies hold that title. Anywhere.) She’s been with Bottles for the past 2+ years and we’re so excited for her new role. Alex is a Scranton, PA native (yes, where The Office takes place and yes, where Joe Biden is from – she’s very proud of both those facts), but says she’ll probably never leave Rhode Island. When she’s not at the store she’s most likely doing something involving food: cooking food, eating food, pairing drinks with food, or reading about food. Any other shred of free time is spent with her pets whom she loves dearly, or exploring every nook and cranny of our beautiful state. Oh, and drinking beer. She does that a lot.

1. Fave beer in the store right now?
Two Roads Passionfruit Gose. It is wicked tart and dangerously chuggable in those tall boy pounders. Especially tasty with raw littlenecks.

2. What beer trend is about to explode?
I’m enjoying all of the sour beer releases, and I’ve noticed the rest of my generation is, too (I chalk this up to shoving handfuls of Sour Patch Kids and Warheads in our mouths as kids). On the opposite end of the spectrum, quality coffee in beers is poppin’ which is so freaking smart. Brewers combined two of the world’s biggest vices (caffeine and beer) and did it really well. I respect that!

3. The beer/food pairing you crave the most is…
Whole belly clams and fries with a New England style IPA is arguably the best pairing in the universe.

4. What are your plans for the Bottles beer program for the next 6 months?
Showcasing the big seasonal products and limited edition items is vital but I strive to provide as much local product as possible. Being able to sell a brand that I believe in while simultaneously knowing the hands and people that put work into it is such a simple concept yet so profound to me.

5. This summer we should be drinking…
Session IPAs. Great beers that have those admirable IPA qualities but with softer flavors and a lower ABV that pair beautifully with mowing the lawn, fishing, and sitting on the porch.

6. What’s your desert island brew?
Ahhhhh this is hard. Allagash Hoppy Table Beer or Jack’s Abby House Lager. Simple, no-frills, delicious.

7. What excites you most in today’s beer world?
Canning! A lot of local businesses are investing in canning systems (Revival, for instance) and a lot of bigger craft companies that swore they’d never can are canning (looking at you Dogfish Head!). Cans are crushable, portable, and better for the environment. It is a no-brainer.

8. The most underrated beer or style of beer is…
Definitely ciders. They get cast aside and bad reps for being fruit bombs or “chick beers” but they’re bursting with character and make killer cocktails.

9. Fave style of beer?
I love super sour and funky gose, but at the end of the day a good lager is all I really want.

OK, so that was more than 5 questions, but Alex is such a font of good beer info that we couldn’t help ourselves. Be sure to ask for her next time you’re in store and what to know what’s new, tasting good, and what to drink.

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Cooking with Beer – Two Recipes

It’s cold out! When the February snow and wind hit, I like to hunker down with a hearty braise inspired by the land of “Cuisine à la Bière,” served with a vibrant green salad tossed with an orange IPA-flavored dressing.

You may know that Belgium has a long and proud brewing tradition that stretches back for hundreds of years. Beer is so deeply rooted in Belgian culture that it holds the same revered place on the table as wine does in France or Italy, and is used in many of the same ways. Cooking with beer can be a real treat, and this Belgian inspired one-pot meal is one of my favorites to make in the winter, especially on a long, cold, snowy Sunday.

The beer I’ve chosen to use in this dish comes from the esteemed Dubuisson brewery, the oldest in Wallonia (older than most Trappist breweries!). Their flagship beer, Scaldis Amber, is a 12% ABV take on an English Barleywine. It adds both fruity and savory notes to the roast, with flavors of ripe fruit and caramel, along with a hint of herbal hops and licorice. Although it’s high in alcohol, most of that will steam off while cooking, so don’t worry, this is a family-friendly pot roast!

Scaldis is something we regularly carry, but if you want to branch out, any Belgian-style Amber or Dark Ale will do. Some of our favorites for cooking (and drinking) include:

-Allagash Dubbel
-Rochefort ‘8’ or ‘10’
-St. Bernardus ‘Pater 6’
-North Coast ‘Brother Thelonious’

When it comes to pairing a beer to drink alongside this braise, do we really have to tell you what would go best? Scaldis Amber, of course! If that’s a little too strong for you, any of the aforementioned beers will also work quite nicely.

To learn more about the beer, check out Dubuisson’s excellent website: https://dubuisson.com/en-us, and check out https://dubuisson.com/en-us/our-beers/scaldis-amber for more on the Scaldis.

cookingbeer4Belgian Pot Roast
If you’re short on time, skip the steps below and instead use a slow cooker. You can put the whole shebang in on low before you go to work, then add the root veggies and turn it to high when you get home.

Ingredients:
4 – 5 pound beef rump roast or bottom round
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
(optional: ¼ tsp Old Bay seasoning or cinnamon for extra flavor)
2 tbsp olive oil or butter
2 large onions, cut in half & sliced into thick half moons
3 carrots, peeled & cut into cubes
1 big sprig of thyme
1 bay leaf
1 12 oz. bottle of Scaldis Amber
A mix of your favorite root vegetables to finish the roast: small potatoes, parsnips, rutabaga, etc., cut into bite-sized chunks.

Method:
Preheat oven to 325 F.

Mix the flour, salt & pepper (and the Old Bay or cinnamon, if using) in a big plastic container with a lid.

Heat a dutch oven or deep-sided casserole over medium–high heat.

Dry the roast well with paper towels and put it in the container with the flour mixture. Gently shake it up, down and all around to evenly coat the meat.

Warm the oil and/or butter in the dutch oven until hot (not smoking!). Tap off any excess flour and brown the meat on all sides, a few minutes per side.

Remove the meat to a plate to rest, turn the heat down to medium, and add the onions to all the beautiful brown bits left in the pan. If it seems dry, add another 1-2 teaspoons of oil or butter.

Cover the pot, and sauté the onions, stirring every 2 minutes or so until soft and just beginning to take on some color.

Push the onions to the sides of the pan, put the meat (with any juice on the plate) into the middle of the pan and add the carrots, thyme, a little salt and pepper, and the whole bottle of Scaldis. Mix everything up around the meat, scraping up any bits stuck to the pan.

Bring it gently to a boil, cover, and bake in your oven for about 3 ½ hours.

Meanwhile, scrub your root veggies and cut them into evenly sized chunks – about the size you’d want to put in your mouth after they’re cooked.

After 3 ½ hours, add your root veggies to the pot, stir them up a bit in the sauce, and leave to cook for another 30 minutes or so, or until the meat is falling apart.

Let the roast cool a bit, and eat it with a cold glass of Scaldis Amber!

cookingbeer2Orange & Ale Vinaigrette
To complement the rich roast I like to serve a vibrant, zesty salad that also uses beer as a main ingredient. With thanks to Sean Paxton of Home Brew Chef & BeerAdvocate, here’s one of my favorite salad dressings to make any time of year, but especially when I’m missing the sun.

Ingredients:
3 oz. IPA (I like any of the following for this recipe: Sierra Nevada Torpedo, Grey Sail Captain’s Daughter, Harpoon Hoppy Adventure, or Lost Nation Mosaic IPA – or just use your favorite)
1 tbsp minced shallot (or half a small onion, minced)
1 tsp grated orange zest
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp Dijon mustard
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (bring out the good stuff for this)
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:
Put the shallot, orange zest, honey and mustard in a small bowl and whisk in the beer until well combined.

Slowly whisk in the oil, a few drops at a time, until the whole thing is creamy and emulsified.

Drizzle your dressing over hearty greens, or blanched green beans, or asparagus, beets, hard boiled eggs, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc., you get the drift.

The dressing will keep in your fridge for about five days if you don’t eat it all first!

Enjoy! –Liam

Kiuchi Brewing

This year marks the 20th anniversary of a very special 193-year-old brewery.

They have never closed, and have been producing continuously since 1823, so how can they be 20 years old?

The answer lies in what is being brewed, and in some of the most innovative, thoughtful, and delightful products that we are proud to carry on our shelves. They all come from the Kiuchi brewery, who from their home in Japan send us charming, thoughtful sakes which they’ve brewed since the early 1800s, and mouth-watering beers which they began brewing 20 years ago.

We’d love to share a few of our favorites with you, in the hope that you find some new favorites for yourself.

The Sake

Kiuchi sake has been brewed for a long, long time, with a sustained commitment to quality ingredients and traditional methods. Their careful processing coaxes wonderfully floral, fruity and nutty aromas from the rice, along with a beguiling mouthfeel that demands to be savored. As always, sake is best enjoyed with good food and better company.

Here are some of our favorites from this venerable house. What’s great for beginning sake drinkers is that Kiuchi makes the following sakes available in sample sizes. Five of their best are sold in a pack of 200ml bottles.

Asamurasake – ‘Morning Purple Red Rice Sake’ is made from a very unique red rice, and is indeed reddish-purple in color, with a very light spritz and refreshing berry flavors.

tarusake

Tarusake – Sake slowly matured in Akita Cedar barrels. Look for flavors of white pepper, citrus zest and, well, cedar.

kurahibiki

Kurahibiki – A complex sake made with ‘Yama Danishiki’ rice, specifically bred for sake brewing. A sophisticated sake with flavors of honeydew melon and lychee fruit.

The Beer

Kiuchi began brewing beer in 1996 under the Hitachino Nest label, along with their iconic owl.

Led by their stalwart White Ale, their brews are typified by fresh spins on style, with a uniquely Japanese twist that intrigues your taste buds without shocking your sensibilities. If you’re lucky enough to find any of these beers on tap – drink them! Since we aren’t always so lucky in our draught choices, here are some of our favorite award-winning bottles:

hibichi

White Ale – A Belgian-style witbier brewed with the subtle additions of coriander, nutmeg, orange peel, and fresh orange juice. Remarkably refreshing!

Anbai – Anbai means ‘salty plum,’ an apt name for this take on a German gose. The brewers ratchet up the alcohol on their White Ale recipe to 7% and add Japanese green sour plums and sea salt. Sounds odd, but the slightly tart and flinty flavors are explosive and addictive.

Red Rice Ale – An ale comprised of barley and red rice, fermented with sake yeast. The result is a malty brew, with a pleasantly earthy finish. It’s one of our favorite food beers, as it marries perfectly with all manner of meats and fatty fish.

Dai Dai – A dry IPA brewed with the peel of the ‘Fukure Mikan’ fruit, a wild Mandarin orange which is cultivated near the brewery. As with all Hitachino beers, it’s neither too bitter nor fruity, with all the flavors in balance.

Sweet Stout – An English-style milk stout, with decadent flavors of coffee, chocolate and roasted nuts. Not a dark or bitter stout, but a pleasantly sweet brew perfectly suited to dessert.

Kanpai!

-Liam

Summer Pairings: A Cool Dish for a Hot Week

vietnamese_salad_edible_rhody

 

It’s hot.

The air is hot. Our political climate is hot. Our society is hot. And we’re not even halfway through the Summer of 2016.

Things could change if we all cool down our own little corners of the world, one step at a time. And a good place to start is at the table, with family and friends.

Begin with a delicious, refreshing and easy to prepare chilled dish from Jason Timothy, chef/owner of Providence’s Laughing Gorilla Catering, that’s sure to please the crowd of 2 or 10 gathered at your table. Add open bottles of icy beer and wine (our picks below), good conversation, laughter and love, and watch the mercury drop.

edible_rhody_noodle_pair
We can’t get enough of the Gobelsburg Cistercien Rosé from Austria. Its bright balance of fresh acidity and excellent, round strawberry and peach fruit flavors make this a great match. The sauce’s citrus and jalapeno tang will be cooled by the fruit, while the minerality and acid provide enough structure to round out the whole dish.

We chose Revival Brewing Co.’s Fanny IPA as this noodle dish’s ideal beer partner. Its fruity hops from the Southern Hemisphere will highlight the melon’s cool notes, which piney North American hops accentuate the dish’s spicy flavors. And what’s even better, Fanny is low in alcohol, so it says as light in your  as does the salad, keeping everything in harmony.

And for the recipe, published in the beautiful Summer 2016 issue of Edible Rhody:

CHILLED VIETNAMESE RICE NOODLE SALAD
A note from chef Jason Timothy:  This is an easy, flavorful salad that is incredibly versatile. It’s been a favorite among my friends at summer cookouts when the weather is hot, the grill is going and the produce is abundant. I love to grab herbs and vegetables from the Armory Farmers’ Market that’s almost outside my door.

INGREDIENTS
1 package rice noodles (size noodle to your liking)
2 tablespoons neutral oil (such as grapeseed or canola)
¼ cup fish sauce
¼ cup water
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup fresh-squeezed lime juice, plus extra wedges for garnish
1 cucumber, seeded and sliced
2 cups sliced melon (watermelon or cantaloupe), rind removed
1 pound (3–4 cups) fresh bean sprouts
½ cup fresh Thai basil leaves, torn
½ cup fresh mint leaves, torn
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
3 jalapeños, sliced (optional)
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

In a large pot, bring 8 cups of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook for 4–5 minutes. Strain noodles. Give them a quick rinse with cold water just to get the cooling started and, once well drained, toss lightly with oil. Let rest in the refrigerator, covered.

Meanwhile, combine fish sauce, water and sugar in a 1-quart saucepan. Cook until sugar is completely dissolved, 3–4 minutes. Add lime juice and set aside to cool.

When ready, add noodles to a large mixing (or serving) bowl. Add sliced cucumber and melon slices, bean sprouts, basil, mint, cilantro and sliced jalapeños. Toss with sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with lime wedges. Serve immediately or cover and chill until serving.

Serves 4–6.

Stay cool, eat well, and carry on.

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Wine & Beer to Pair with Clams & Favas

calamari_Salad_er_june12016

Can’t get more “New England in the Spring” than with this classic clam & squid salad from the current edition of Edible Rhody and Al Forno‘s Chef David Reynoso. The addition of the fava beans and scallions anchors it to the season, and allows for more adventurous parings.

Try it with the Brasserie Dupont Foret for a perfect ‘surf & turf’ pairing. The Saison’s well-integrated spice notes balance the earthiness of the fava beans and richness of the squid.

As for wine, we really enjoyed the salad with Camp Chardonnay. This is not your typical California butter bomb — it truly is more like a fine white Burgundy. Bright lemon, green apple and fresh herb flavors make it perfect match to the clams and favas.

Cheers and Bon Appetit!

WARM CLAM AND CALAMARI SALAD WITH FRESH FAVA BEANS AND SCALLIONS
Executive Chef David Reynoso, Al Forno, Providence

Ingredients
24 littleneck clams, washed and scrubbed
½ cup dry white wine
1 garlic clove
1 pound cleaned calamari, cut into rings, tentacles left whole
2 pounds fresh fava beans, shells and skins removed (should yield about 1 cup)
4 scallions, thinly sliced, placed in ice water
½ cup loosely packed parsley leaves, finely chopped
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Maldon Sea Salt

Place the clams, wine, garlic and ½ cup of water in a large covered pan. Steam the clams over medium heat. Check the clams after about 5 minutes and place the open clams into 4 warm bowls. Continue steaming, checking every few minutes, until all the clams have opened and been distributed evenly between the bowls.

Add the calamari and fava beans to the pan, stir constantly and cook for 3–4 minutes, until the calamari is firm.

Remove the garlic clove. Drain all but 1½ cups cooking liquid and add the scallions, parsley, olive oil and lemon juice to the calamari. Divide the calamari and fava beans among the 4 bowls. Finish each bowl with a pinch of sea salt. Serves 4 as a first course or light supper.

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What The Heck Is GOSE (and how is it pronounced)?

Gose: It’s the hottest beer style to hit our store in ages. Liam Maloney, Bottles’ beer buyer par excellence, explains why:

Everything old is new again. We’ve seen this cliché played out time & again in our shop, as people ‘rediscover’ Chablis or Merlot, to give a couple of examples.

Yet, as clichéd as it may be, the sentiment rings truer than ever for a beer style that has taken our store by storm: Gose.

Gose (Germans say “GOHZ-uh”. “GOHZ” is what we hear in these parts) is a very unusual, ancient style which originated in the north of Germany, in Leipzig. It’s an unfiltered wheat beer, which makes it cloudy & refreshing, very much like a Bavarian Hefeweizen. Where it differs is in the unusual additions of coriander, lactic acid, and sea salt.

When made correctly, a Gose has a fruity/salty/tart balance that is unlike anything else in the beer world. Tart but not mouth-puckering, fruity but not cloying or sweet, and salty like well-seasoned food. The components are all there, but they are in balance, and your tongue has fun trying to pick out what flavor is coming next.

Why is it becoming so popular?

We think it’s a response to the IPA craze. IPAs are great beers, full of piney, resinous hop flavors, but one can only have so many before palate fatigue sets in. Brewers have responded by creating ‘session IPAs’ with a lighter ABV and muted hop presence, but they often taste like a watered down IPA, and are not as satisfying. Gose, however, at an average ABV of around 4%, offers flavor and nuance without the heaviness and hoppy punch of an IPA.

Like any tart beverage, this beer is made for food, and pairs especially well with summertime fare like fish, grilled sausages & pork chops, potato salad, and barbecue. Much like wine (which is an acid, and Gose features lactic acid in the mix), a Gose will also pair well with cheese. Everything from a fresh, young Chevre to a knobby, rustic aged cheddar will work, and a blue cheese will highlight the salty qualities. Intensely refreshing, a Gose is also a welcome lawnmower beer on a hot July Saturday.

Now, there’s been a lot of talk lately about sour beers, and while Gose falls under that general distinction, it isn’t nearly as punishing as many of the wild fermented, funky, sour beers out there. Do not confuse this style with a ‘Gueuze’! Beer nerds the country over love to pluck out the not-so-subtle notes of horse blanket, cat pee, and musty basement in their Belgian Gueuze, and while there’s certainly a place for that (even Zamfir has his fans), it’s not what most people are looking for in a beer.

What we’re talking about is a delicate beer with subtle flavors of wheat, salt, coriander, & acid. Imagine those same flavors in a perfectly baked sourdough loaf and you’ll have the general idea.

Here are some of our favorite Gose beers for the summer season. We hope you’re intrigued to find out more and give them a try next time you fire up the grill or lawnmower.

gose1

Sierra Nevada Otra Vez – Bucking tradition, Otra Vez is sweetened with prickly pear cactus & ‘tartened’ with grapefruit. The fruitiest of the new Gose beers, it’s the perfect ‘gateway Gose’ as an introduction to the style.

Uinta Ready, Set, Gose! – Mildy tart, this Gose is made in a more traditional method than the Otra Vez, and has more tart flavors with less fruitiness.

Sixpoint Jammer – Our favorite entry isn’t afraid of the salt. A healthy dose of Jacobsen’s Sea Salt brings balance to this funky can. You’ll go through a six pack before you know it!

Gosebrauerei Bayrischer Bahnhof Leipziger Gose – For a treat, go straight to the source. Re-vamped and re-opened in 1999, this brewery specializes in the Leipzig treat. We have it imported fresh as often as possible.

Cheers!
-Liam

 

A Simple Michelada

Times are crazy. Keep things simple. Learn how to make a no-frills Michelada tonight. Thank yourself all summer.

michelada3A Simple Michelada:

Rim a tall glass with lime juice and salt.
(A pint  glass is traditional, and you can do this by running a lime wedge along the lip of the glass and dipping into a plate of coarse salt.)

Add a handful of ice cubes to the glass along with 3oz or so of tomato juice, and fill the glass with an ice-cold Mexican-style lager.
This year we’re using 21st Amendment’s “El Sully.”

Squeeze a fresh lime into the lager, and, if you like a touch of heat, splash with a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce. Sit back and enjoy.

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Black Hog Brewing Co.

blackhog_cansWe’re rolling out the welcome mat for cans of Black Hog Brewing’s terrific beer.

Made just down a ways in Connecticut (Oxford, to be exact), the popular craft brewery with the super hot label art is the creation of three beer-loving pals: Tyler Jones, whose brewing chops were honed at Mercury Brewing, Smuttynose and Portsmouth Brewery (NH), and brothers Jason and Tom Sobocinski (the latter a PC alum!), owners of the fantastic New Haven-based cheese shop & bistro Caseus, the award-winning bar Ordinary, and Smoke Box BBQ.

We love their Granola Brown Ale, which is brewed with a mix of oatmeal, grains, hops and roasted malts. The guys say they were inspired to make this beer on the hikes they take before beginning one of their legendary pig roasts (which they do often, hence the brewery’s name). While hiking and munching on crunchy granola they decided to incorporate the oat flavors into their beer. It’s smooth and malty, and finishes with – you guessed it – notes of chocolate and raisin.

Their Easy Rye’ Da is an “easy drinkin’” low ABV rye India Pale Ale. They cut back the ABV on this session style rye so that, according to their (really awesome) website, “you can cruise on it all day long, take it easy, have a few and remember what it’s all about.” It’s hoppy, with sweet and spicy citrus notes.

And check out the super hot Ginga’ Ninja, a red India Pale Ale brewed with 6 lbs of fresh ginger in every batch, and named after Tyler’s fiery-haired wife. It’s all ginger up front, and finishes with a lasting hop flavor.

In addition to images of their vibrant design-forward cans, the Black Hog Brewing website is chock full of strong pairing suggestions. And, not surprisingly given Tom and Jason’s background, lots of terrific cheese pairings are offered.

Black Hog Brewing Co.’s cans are on sale for the month of March at Bottles. Come give them a try!

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Drink Your Chocolate

Skip the chewable chocolate this Valentine’s Day and give your sweetie the sippable sort. We’re crushing on a few bottles made with real chocolate and genuine skill, those that are good enough to be enjoyed year-round.

Meletti Cioccolato
Thick, dark, creamy, this Italian liqueur is pure pourable decadence. It’s made in Italy with milk and Dutch chocolate, sugar and alcohol, and is intensely rich and smooth with a balanced sweetness. We’re crazy for the Cioccolato any way it’s served: cold & neat (think adult pudding pop), warmed, over ice cream, or as a mixer in any number of cocktails.
vday_meletti

 

Young’s Double Chocolate Stout
This full-flavored dark beer made with chocolate malt and real chocolate is luxurious without being overtly sweet. It’s certainly a satisfying treat on its own, but for something special, consider combining it in a frosty mug with vanilla ice cream and bourbon for the ultimate grown-up float.
vday_stout

 

Nickle Creek Decadence
A Rhody original, from Foster! This beautiful bottle, reminiscent of Port, has warm flavors of cherry and plum that make way for a dark, bittersweet chocolate finish. It’s a delicious way to end a romantic dinner.
vday_decadence

Cheers and Happy Valentine’s Day!