The original plan for today was for Tim to bring you all a review of the much storied and impossible-to-find Heady Topper, but as he’s driving back up to Vermont for another weekend of skiing (and since, in his own words, he’s lazy), that review will have to wait until next week.
In lieu of Heady, today we’re drinking Pruner’s Pride, a hard cider from Champlain Orchards up in Shoreham, Vermont. It’s yet another example of the Green Mountain State’s awesome cider culture and of the complexities you can find in a drink that most people write off as grown up apple juice. Details on the sweet, nectary cider after the jump.
I first had Pruner’s Pride at a restaurant in Montpelier (Positive Pie, go there if you ever find yourself in the state’s capital) this past fall, and was smitten with it right away — though that was mainly because of its wonderfully silly name and the dude on the label (look at him, he’s ridiculous in the best way). Then I found out they don’t distribute outside of VT, which is a huge drag — so I was quite excited to find some last weekend when up skiing at Stratton with Tim and the bros.
It’s got a nice standard light golden color out of the bottle, pretty cider-typical. The nose is dominated by apple juice, specifically that of sweeter, red apples. You can get a fairly clear sense for the fruit blend (McIntosh and Empire), with the aroma letting you know that the cider is straightforward with its apples. On the back side, there are hints of honey — this cider was fermented with some local Vermont honey added — and warming floral tones. Maybe a bit of gingerbread.
An unexpected tartness shows up on the first few sips, way more than the nose indicates. Sweet red apples still dominate, but there’s a tang on the front edge of each sip. Vague hints of spicing — nutmeg, for one — but overall this is very crisp, with a nice, full, warming finish.
The addition of honey, though, is what really makes this cider. It brings rich pollens — namely goldenrod, according to group consensus — to the nose, and gives a darker, amber sweetness to the body of the cider. These are all flavors characteristic of a fall honey, and they really elevate the cider. It almost makes for a fall/winter counterpart to Wunderkind.
Personal attachment to this cider aside, I very much enjoy Pruner’s Pride. This cider, made unique by Vermont fall honey, may very well be the closest approximation of New England in a bottle I’ve had. Next time you’re in Vermont, pick some up. 90 points.
Happy Monday to you all. Glad it has cooled down a bit after that unseasonably hot weekend. I wanted to start this review with a short discussion on the “freshness hype” that many subscribe to in the craft beer community. If you are not familiar, the argument is essentially that hoppy beers are best consumed fresh to avoid hop degradation. As a hoppy beer ages, it becomes oxidized and the wonderful, complex aromas and bitterness fade within 3 or 4 weeks and 3 or 4 months respectively.
I don’t think anyone would argue against drinking hoppy beers fresh, but there is debate whether a few weeks or months actually makes a difference. I tend to err on the side of caution and generally don’t buy IPAs without a freshness date. (This website can help you decipher freshness codes and find the bottle date from various breweries). To me, it’s simply that I enjoy the aroma of a beer immensely and find it dramatically enhances an otherwise middle-of-the-pack brew. It is also important to note that the same hop degradation process can also be beneficial when aging various barleywines and stouts, where hop character is not nearly as important and often unwanted.
Maine Beer Co, subscribes to the importance of freshness and states on their (hoppy) bottles, “Do what’s right. Drink this beer fresh.” With all that said, today’s bottle of MO was bottled on 5/21 and it shows…
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Woah, what a month! Papers, finals, senior week, graduation and now the real world. Well…. not quite. But the important thing is that we now have some time to focus on some great beer, cider, and spirits.
Today’s beer is no exception. The Smoked Maple Lager is a collaboration by Jack’s Abby - a rising local brewery out in Framingham that specializes in unique lagers - and Lawson’s Finest Liquids - a highly regarded small batch brewery in Warren, VT. The Smoked Maple Lager is true to the German rauchbier tradition, in which the malts are smoked on an open fire, imparting a delicious smokiness to the beer that is reminiscent of smoke meats. Lawson’s contribution is in the local maple syrup, of which they added a gallon per barrel. Interestingly, they also added non- fermentable lactose sugar that leaves behind a creamy sweetness. If you are interested in the rauchbeir style, Jack’s Abby also has a more typical ranchbier flavor profile in the year round Smoke and Dagger.
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Sorry for the lull in posts, everyone. We’ve been a little preoccupied as of late, but let’s jump right in. While the mainline Long Trail beers don’t exactly do it for me anymore they will forever hold a place in my heart as my gateway into craft beer. The Blackberry Wheat and the Pollenator were summer staples as I grew accustom to beer that actually had some taste. So when I saw the Brewmaster Series Double IPA, I decided to give it a try for old time’s sake.
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Today’s review comes from Night Shift Brewing, an awesome brewery located just a few miles down the street from Tufts. Just over a year into production, these bros are pumping out some high quality brews. The trio was like any other group of homebrewers, (like me) for which the hobby quickly became an obsession and realized that there was a need in the market for some unique brews. Enter the zesty Viva Habanero and the tart Ever Weisse and you have a winning formula: Innovation + Quality ingredients = a truly memorable beer.
I stopped into Ball Square Fine Wines to pick up the aforementioned Viva Habanero, and it was much to my surprise when I pulled out a green-labeled bottle amongst a desert of red labels. A lone, lush paradise awaited. It was the Oasis, Night Shift’s first bottled IPA. I gave the bottle a once over and was easily convinced to bring it home by the bottle date: 4/5/13. Man, this was fresh!
Night Shift is also an extremely local brewery, and it shows. Right on the bottle it has some suggested food pairings from local establishments. For example, on the Oasis it mentions that a falafel from Amsterdam Falafelshop in Davis would pair nicely. They also source local ingredients that become the focal points of their brews, such as the coriander and cardamom from Christina’s in Cambridge.
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What a perfect day to sit back and relax with a crisp, refreshing beer from Dogfish Head. So, I bought a bottle of Sixty-One a few weeks back and had completely forgotten about it until I ordered one at Underbones on Saturday night. Alas, the keg was kicked and my curiosity was piqued sufficiently to pop my lone bottle open.
According to their website, the Sixty-One is Dogfish Head’s first new addition to the core lineup since 2007. The story goes that whenever the founder, Sam, would meet up with his buddies they would order a round of 60 Minute IPAs. One night, Sam ordered a glass of his favorite red wine and poured a little into each of their glasses. This fruity beer/wine hybrid was a hit and they started brewing a few years later. The name Sixty-One points to the fact that it is Dogfish’s 60 minute IPA + one extra ingredient: syrah grape must.
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Happy Thursday/early weekend from us here at Books and Beer. Tim and I had a pretty adventurous and fruitful day booze-wise. First, we snagged three bottles of the critically-acclaimed and impossible-to-find Founders’ KBS before it disappeared from the shelves of every liquor store around, and then grabbed four bottles of the new barrel-aged, limited edition offering from Bantam, their La Grande cider.
But enough on the beer and cider fronts for now, though I’m really excited to try the Bantam. Today’s post takes us back to the world of American whiskey with a pretty interesting bourbon from an independent, small-production Kentucky distillery. Learn more after the jump.
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Good Afternoon! John and I hope you had an awesome Easter and enjoyed the Game of Thrones premiere as much as we did.
Before I go into the brew, I want to talk a little bit about its ill-defined style, the Black IPA (also called an American Black Ale). Essentially, a Black IPA has the grain bill of a porter and the hoppiness of an American IPA, with ABV ranging from 6 to 10%. Many feel that the contrasting flavors don’t sit well on the palate while others love these huge, roasty beers. To be honest, I am not completely sold on Black IPAs but couldn’t resist picking up today’s brew from Boulevard, mainly because it had the word “rye” on it. When rye is added to a beer it imparts some peppery, spicy notes that give the beer a refreshing bite of flavor.
Boulevard is based out of Kansas City and has some solid main line offerings such as the Bully! Porter and the Single Wide IPA. Still, for beer geeks like me they don’t compare to Boulevard’s “smokestack series” which includes The Sixth Glass, a delectable quad, some incredible wild ales and today’s brew, the Grainstorm Rye IPA.
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On this gorgeous spring Saturday, Books and Beer would like to wish y’all an early Happy Easter, because whether or not you’re religious, we can all get behind a day that’s basically become about eating chocolate.
Our posting has been a bit irregular/lacking as of late, and we apologize — both Tim and I have been preoccupied with hitting the slopes before the season completely ends. But now that it’s sunny and 60 degrees in the Commonwealth, it seems that spring is very much here, and so we’ll turn our attention back to drinking, especially to seasonal beverages.
Today’s drink is Original Sin, a hard cider from New York via Florida. It seemed appropriate given the nature of the upcoming holiday, plus it’s given me an opportunity to hash out some opinions I have about how people rate ciders these days. Get the skinny on the cider and a short rant after the jump.
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Well, I head back home tomorrow and decided that before I go knee-deep in the pow on this lazy Sunday I’d do a review of a beer I enjoyed in Munich. Overall, the trip has been fantastic with more snow then I have ever seen in late March. But before we started our ski adventure my dad and I spent a day in Munich touring the beer halls, including the infamous Hofbrau Haus, the Lowenbrau and the Augustiner.
While it may just be a personal preference, I find German (and Austrian) beer always good but rarely great. They are brewed under the Bavarian Purity Law which says that the only ingredients that can be used in the production of beer are water, barley and hops. While I certainly love the idea of no adjuncts whatsoever, it also limits complexity. These Bavarian beers are characterized by their malt profile, with only a hint of hops. Out of the Bavarian styles I prefer doppelbocks the most and decided to order the Maximator at the Augustiner beer hall. A German saw me writing in my beer journal and commented that my choice was appropriate given that it was the tail end of Munich’s Strong Beer Festival. On to the brew…
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