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Entries in Friday Froth (39)

Friday
Jul042014

Friday Froth: New Beers From Jack's Abbey And OEC Brewing

Few sensations enliven the mind like eye-catching novelty. Our minds have evolved such a predilection to find the next new thing, it's a compulsion. This is why slot machines are addictive even though they're so repetitive: there's something new every time. The new glass house is made of screens. Status, tweet, pin... tap, tap, tap.

It's easy to read about how this river of information which flows to us has made Americans indistinguishable from the couches which we permanently inhabit, but I think this is losing sight of the fact that rivers are also a means of transport. Ideas are hardly stationary. This week, let's take a look at a few novelties which have arrived on the Connecticut beer scene, and see if we can get some wheels turning. 

Jack's Abbey launched just three years ago up in Massachusetts and has seemingly been winning awards ever since. The company is run by Jack, Eric and Sam Hendler, scions of an ice manufacturing family, whose Hendler Farms supplies man of the ingredients found in their beers. The brand name comes from Jack (who earned a degree in brewing in '07) and his wife, Abbey - whose name worked out pretty well as a reference to monkish beer brewing traditions. I started off with their Mass Rising Imperial Pils

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Friday
Jun132014

Friday Froth: Sweet, Sour and Stout

You're hungry, but you sit there, getting hungrier, because you don't know what you want to eat. Spoiled for choice, you end up ravenous and choosing the closest, quickest option for an ultimately unsatisfying resolution. An Italian combo sub is good, but Thai would have been better. Barbeque usually hits the spot, but enchiladas suizas are what you were really craving. Sometimes having fewer options can lead to happier conclusions. This week I'm going to give you a few options in three categories, and hopefully it will make your decisions a little easier the next time you're faced with a giant wall of six packs, or a tap list with fifty options.

How about something fruitier to start? A drink almost like a punch, or a cocktail you'd get at a tiki bar? One answer to sate this need is Birrificio del Ducato Frambozschella. This is an Italian beer made with fresh raspberries and lactic acid, then aged in wooden barrels. It pours a deep, dark ruby red, and had almost no head at all as it was poured for me. You'll be able to smell the pH from four inches away and it's sour, but it never threatened to turn my face inside out.

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Friday
Apr182014

Friday Froth: Seasonal Spring Beer...A New Crop

Dark beers and dark nights are falling away. Fresh life is shouldering its way through the crusty ground, and new batches of lively, energetic spring seasonals are seeing the light of day for the first time in brewery tasting rooms across the country. Spring time is for beer lovers. 

The season lends itself to saisons, the ancient staple of farmers and field hands in need of relief during the planting and cultivation of new life. Stillwater Artisinal Ales is celebrating the arrival of fresh, new life with the release of its Debutante American Farmhouse Ale. This saison, brewed with a combination of spelt and rye, and accented with a blend of heather, honeysuckle, and hyssop, is actually a collaboration between Stillwater and Belgian beer specialists The Brewer's Art, of Baltimore. 

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Friday
Mar072014

Friday Froth: Viva La Michelada

Call it a "bloody beer," and I will have you flensed. An associate from Oklahoma calls them that, and his entire recipe consists of V8 and Gas Station Lite, like some sort of godless swine. I call it a michelada when I drink them, and you should, too. This sounds prescriptive, and it's intended to, because it's best to be forewarned and forearmed when we encounter a new specie. 

I have long been a fan of the bloody mary - in fact, I credit her with saving my life many a time during the Great Patriotic Keg Wars of my early 20s, but 30 was stealing up on me like Trotsky's assassin before I was swept up in the red coup of the michelada, and I've been a member of the party ever since, comrade.

Mistakes were made along the way, of course. 'This is a recovery drink,' I remember thinking. 'A sort of tremens-drip for the drinking class. It stands to reason that the more vitamins, minerals and other assorted Earth-stuffs, the better, yes? V8 is packed with many of the vegetables I hate, ergo it's bound to be good for me/this drink.' Ice, hot sauce, salt, pepper and beer went into the glass with the red fluid from the colorful bottle, and the results more successful than The Great Leap Forward only in that no one actually died. It was like drinking carrot juice from a storm drain. 

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Friday
Feb212014

Friday Froth: Steam Heat

The business of craft beer is expanding rapidly. Every Friday Froth column I've ever published on this site has been a celebration of that fact. I - and I'd guess you, if you're reading this - revel in the vast landscape of offerings which slake our thirst, delight our palette, and expand our notions of what beer can be. An article in the March issue of Forbes stated there are over 2,700 craft breweries in the U.S. right now, and the industry is currently worth roughly $100 billion per year. Unfortunately, that's money worth fighting for. 

Lawyers in the employ of San Francisco-based Anchor Brewing Company have taken legal action against Hartford craft beer touchstone City Steam Brewery over the use of the word "steam." As of this week, I am officially boycotting Anchor beers until they drop this petty lawsuit, and I encourage anyone who cares about the craft beer landscape of Connecticut to do the same. Here's why...

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Friday
Jan172014

Friday Froth: CT Pour Tour At Two Roads, Plus Reviews And Assorted Nonsense

Mark Twain once said the best thing about writing was having written. I tend to enjoy drinking more than having drunken (which is to say, I like drankin'), but it's especially nice to have a built-in justification. Todd Ruggere has given all of us in the Constitution State just such an excuse with the CT Pour Tour, in which he will drink at least one beer this year in all 169 towns in Connecticut, and raise money at every stop for Yale Children's Hospital. Todd has published a list of when and where he'll be over the course of 2014, and I caught up with him at the CT Pour Tour launch party at Two Roads in Stratford this past Saturday. 

Todd spent 2013 completing his first pour tour, traveling through all 351 towns in his home state of Massachusetts.

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Friday
Dec132013

Friday Froth: Out Of The Black

I watched the International Space Station arc overhead last night at about half past five. Six crewmen from the U.S., Russia and Japan traced a fast arc overhead - a bright golden light from the hidden Sun, long since fallen below the horizon, reflected off their solar arrays and into my retinas, hundreds of miles below. I wondered if anyone was looking back, right at that moment. The station, five and half thousand days in Earth orbit at the time, faded away, long since over the north Atlantic, and I was left looking at stars like scattered grains of salt on a black sky. My throat burned from breathing the cold air. I headed inside, into light and warmth. 

Winter beers are a different breed. That's what they're meant to do - bring you in out of the cold, if only figuratively, and supply a bit of metaphorical light in this darkest of months. Cold isn't an object - it can't be added to something the way we add a layer of clothing or a memory. Cold is the lack of energy, of heat. It's like when we say we want to make a room darker, but that's impossible, too. What we're really doing is taking away the light.

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Friday
Oct182013

Friday Froth: A Pale Wolf Approaches

I do a lot of talking about Brooklyn beers in this space, between the eponymous Brooklyn Brewery, Sixpoint, He'brew/Coney Island etc. - and more on that later - but today we're going to start by kicking it up to the Boogie Down. The Bronx gets a lot of respect as the birthplace of hip hop and the home of Bullwackie's distinctly NYC dub, but if you know anything about the foodie scene outside of Arthur Avenue in the borough, you know more than me. I like to keep my eyes and ears open, though, and my mind well lubricated, so it wasn't too long before I was on the scent of a new brewer out of Port Morris. 

The Bronx Brewery's flagship beer is called Bronx Pale Ale, and was slapped down on the bar top before me in an industrial looking one-pint can. I personally like the stripped down appearance of the silver and black can, and immediately noticed the brewery had followed the trend of printing the beer's ABV, SRM and IBUs right on there, but they had taken it a few steps further and included the Pale Ale's Original and Final Gravities. 

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Friday
Sep062013

Friday Froth: Beer...Served Fresh

Welcome back to another edition of CTBites’ own beer column, this time with a subtle aroma of pigskin. Tastes start to turn a little bit more to brown liquor as we transition from summer to fall but, back yard table or car bumper at a tailgate, it’s a sad hand that can’t reach for a beer.  We have stone, metal and a miracle down below as we match the days and keep it crisp. 

So fresh and so green, green: Stone Brewing in California brewed up a double IPA just for us this August and shipped it over for those who were paying attention. The brew is called Enjoy By 9-13-13 – (I gave a heads up in the last Froth here, and originally mentioned the series the first time we got a batch back in April) – and I finally got a chance to have some. Let me tell you: it was worth the wait. 

Enjoy By pours a clear gold with a thick head and tons of sweet citrus on the nose. Tip up the glass and there is so much floral, citrusy hop taste you could almost chew it. It is immediately and strikingly apparent why the brewers at Stone made such a point of the degree of freshness. There is no small amount of bitterness, but it’s held in check by a sturdy malt base. At 9.4%, the alcohol may be cutting through the other ingredients to some degree, but it’s not noticeable in the flavor. The flavor, though, is delicious. It somehow gets better as the level of beer goes down and the number of sticky rings it has left on your glass goes up. Rare is the beer that can pull off that feat. If you love hops, you need to go out and find this beer.

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Friday
Aug232013

Friday Froth: Summer Morning Coming Down

Who's ready for summer to be over? You are? Well go stand in the corner with your dunce parka on, because NO. Don't listen to the dermatologists, with their "rules" and "facts": long days are our friends and we all have to get out and show some appreciation or the great dragon will return and swallow the Sun. That's the way it works and LALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU telling me there are only two weeks left in the season. No. 

There is an absolute pile of beer and event news I want to tell you about this week, but I think this first one belongs above the jump, with beer reviews to follow: 

SoNo Marketplace will present Barks&Beer this Saturday, a $5 event to benefit Bully Breed Rescue, a New Canaan organization that helps save pit bulls, Staffordshire terriers and bulldogs. I have personal experience with pit bulls who have been rescued from abusive, neglectful owners, and seeing their transformation into happy, loving dogs just because someone cared about them for the first time in their lives is tangible proof there is good in the world. See the proof for yourself, and maybe let it lick your face, Aug. 24 from  1 to 6p.m., 314 Wilson Avenue, Norwalk. (bullybreedrescueinc.org)

B. United will be running another beer academy at Coalhouse Pizza in Stamford on Aug. 27 on the subject of bottom fermented beers.

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