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Entries in Friday Froth (37)


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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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. (

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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Friday Froth: Keep It Smooth...Beer News & Tasting Notes

Rolling with the windows down, warm night air blowing through, music playing, fireflies sparking at the corners of your vision... in the wintertime cars are about utility, but they seem to contain multitudes in the summer. This is especially true when you have a paper bag full of cold brews belted tightly as a child into the passenger seat. This week we'll take a short trip on the 'bahn to Stratford, try out something German, and bring it all home to Connecticut before a quick jaunt to the left coast and completely voiding the warranty somewhere in the south  Pacific. Buckle up, and snorkel gear is not included.

Closest to home, Two Roads Brewing Co. introduced No Limits Hefeweizen for this summer. The can (yep) design features the symbol for Germany's autobahn front and center with the slashed grey of the 'bahn's dreamy unlimited sections incorporated in there between two stalks of wheat. It's summer blockbuster season, so allow me to put on my announcer voice (ahem):

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Friday Froth: Sunshower

I have met a lot of great people at beer bars. Whether the conversation starts with an apology for bumping elbows or parachuting into someone's conversation, there's a good chance they won't act like you've tried to cut them off in traffic. Plus, there's always beer to talk about if the conversation stalls out - most people are there for the same reason, after all. I like beer bars, but June is hardly a time for working on your hunchback impression over rings stained into a wooden bar, is it? No, ma'am. The recent spate of thunderstorms have currently left my basement in good condition to solve the drought problems of the entire American southwest, but it's still outdoor drinking season, dammit. 

Outdoor drinking, especially outdoor day drinking, is the best drinking. Park, yard, beach, rocky outcrop in the Dolomites, it doesn't matter: you've already escaped the four walls which house most of life's tedium. Simply getting outside at all apparently makes us happier all on its own, but a drink in the hand does tend to add a certain air of possibility. 

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