Archive for July, 2012

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Who left the beer in the bird bath?

July 31, 2012

Cow Thieves Brewery production has quickly become one of my most enjoyable activities. But nothing compares to labeling and tasting day!

This Sunday our third batch, our summer saisons were finally ready. I say ‘finally’, because the two weeks between bottling and tasting always ends up feeling like two years. The long day of brewing, the week or so of fermenting, and the now fairly efficient day of bottling are all items of the process you can control. At least, it feels that way. Whether it’s boiling away on the stove or bubbling away in the carboy, there’s a visual confirmation to the process. But once you get that stuff in the bottle, that’s it: time to wait, fingers crossed, hoping that your efforts were not for nothing.

Our Cow Thieves and Southampton Saison were worth the anxiety. Light, crisp, and yeast forward like a good saison should be, these Belgium style pale ales are going to be hard not to cruise through. We’ve already agreed to at least keep a case or two for our annual trip to Southampton, but with another weekend between now and then, I’m going to have to do my best to enjoy only a few.

If you haven’t already requested a t-shirt but are considering grabbing one for only $10, sign up below. Plus if you sign up for a shirt, you are automatically in the running for the next Nobler giveaway: a few Cow Thieves Brewery saisons of your very own!

 

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Converting Gin Haters, One at a Time

July 30, 2012

I’m always blown away by the number of people who hate gin. But then I think back, and remember that for the formative years of adolescence and college education, gin is more or less a commodity item. Whether it was well gin and tonics at T&L or big plastic bottles of Gilbey’s at house parties, I guess my first experiences were pretty consistent with the gin haters out there. Only one major difference: I’ve always sort of loved the stuff.

But I do commiserate with those who have had one too many bad experiences to convince them to get back in the game. However, with all the amazing gin distillers emerging along with the true classics on the market, Gin has quickly become one of my favorites for cocktail creation. The floral and herbal components pair so nicely with fresh fruit, and you know how much I enjoy me some fresh fruit (see: The Juice Bar).

So here’s a trick for all your gin lovers out there looking to recruit a few more to our side. Next time you are at the farmers market or in the grocery store, pick up a few summer ripe peaches. Half and core those suckers and get them soaking in your favorite gin. Over the course of even hours, you’ll begin to taste the delicious infusion. The fruit’s flavor and sweetness begins to mellow the gin and even after a short period of time, the peach infused gin is perfect for making seriously refreshing cocktails. We paired ours with a little lemon and seltzer! But if you are even a little more patient, after a few more days (depending on how sweet the peaches are), this flavor packed gin will be perfect on its own, chilled over ice with only a slice of lemon.

Drink up and spread the gin gospel!

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Fiskbullar, Glögg, and Cow Thieves T-Shirts

July 27, 2012

While my homemade, iron on version was a nice starting point, these real-deal tees are ordered and on their way! Make sure you get one before they are gone. These things are bound to be worth millions as a collectable item years from now and are being hand sewn by Swedish elves so committed, they only take short breaks for fiskbullar and Glögg twice a day. The original cow thieves would be seriously proud! Sign up below and I”ll make sure I hold one for you for only $10. 

Speaking of Cow Thieves, our summer Saisons are ready to be tested this Sunday and with the labels in print as we speak, it’s sure to be another successful batch. Maybe a six pack Nobler giveaway? Check back soon!

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Mr. Freeze Distillation

July 26, 2012

After a few weeks of non-stop traveling, it feels really nice to be home….

Quick update: I wrote this preemptive to my arrival and I am now stuck at O’hare. Damn you blog post karma! Back to the post…

Luckily for me, I got to spend my last night in the Chicago area, at another home; one that offered up a wood-fired pizza oven, homemade applejack, and oh yeah, some time with one of my original drinking buddies.

Over some good wine and a bottle of Allagash’s Black (their Belgian strong dark ale), we caught up while we threw together a handful of delicious pies, coming out crisp and delicious in a matter of minutes. Sam’s dad built this oven a few years ago and ever since I heard about the plans, I’ve been dying to use it for myself. The verdict, as expected was clear. I need to have one of these when I grow up. And by grow up, I mean when I live in a home that doesn’t count square footage in the hundreds. One day!

But the oven isn’t the only thing Sam’s dad is making on his own. Last fall when their apple trees produced a major surplus, he did some research and took advantage of one of the more simple and elegant approaches of making your own booze. Freeze distillation takes advantage of the molecular property differences of alcohol and water. Sounds familiar right? In typical distillation processes, we rely on the alcohol “boiling” at a lower temperature than water to purify the alcohol. So in this case, a fermented mash may go from 5-10% alcohol up to 80% or more before being prepared for it’s final bottling concentration or proof. But just like in the case of boiling temperatures, the freezing temperature of alcohol is also much lower than that of water. Which is why you can stash your vodka and gin in the freezer no problem!

Applejack takes advantage of this notion and is pretty damn delicious. Starting with a batch of fresh apple cider or unfiltered juice from their apple surplus and a little white wine yeast to get the fermentation started, a hard apple cider was produced in the same style carboy we use for our beer production. After the proper alcohol concentration was developed, the “freeze” component of this distillation began. Using small batches in shallow Tupperware containers, the alcoholic components of the apple cider separate from the water components as the ice begins to freeze. Iterating this process allows you to slowly remove the water without wasting a large portion of the alcohol because as simple as the process sounds, that separation doesn’t exactly happen in two distinct layers. There will always be some level of mixing which is why patience is crucial for this process. But the net result is a highly alcoholic cordial packed with major fresh apple flavor: refreshing and nostalgic, well worth the effort that went into it.

The same process could be used for any fermented juice in actuality, but we’ll need to think of better names for those varieties as grapejack and cranberry jack just don’t quite roll off the tongue.

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Don’t Smell the Cork

July 24, 2012

I may often paint my fellow Noblers as booze-fiending, loyal followers of the experiment but…Well that’s true. However, some of them can write…

Hi Noblers, my name’s Adam. I’m a wine geek, and from time to time Ricky has graciously allowed me to divert this blog from the beer and booze posts (both things I love too) and talk about my favorite Alcohol, wine.  My goal with these posts is going to be to prove to all of you that wine doesn’t have to be snobby; it’s actually incredibly fun and easy to enjoy.  We’re gonna talk about ordering wine, regions, screwcaps, boxed wine and making sangria.  I’m going to debunk some myths, hopefully open your eyes to wines you’ve never had before, and help you find affordable bottles you will love. I’d also love to hear what questions you have about ordering, buying and enjoying wine, so please leave them in the comments.  Wine has been around for centuries so as we learn about this amazing Juice together, we’ll also learn a lot about our own history too.

Since this is my intro post I’m not going to overwhelm you with tons of jargon and info yet; that’s for later! But I do want to leave you with one nugget of knowledge…when you order wine at a restaurant and the waiter presents you with the cork, DON’T SMELL IT.  You actually learn nothing about a wine from smelling the cork but most waiters have no idea why they are presenting you with the cork and diners have no idea what they are supposed to do with it.  Being presented with the cork comes from the history of Bordeaux.  Since Bordeaux is one of the most expensive regions of wines in the world, people used to counterfeit the bottles, faking the labels to look like the famous chateaus that sold their wines for hundreds and even thousands of dollars.  The thought was that the one thing that would be hard to fake would be the unique inscription on the cork of the legitimate chateaus, so when a waiter presents you the cork, he or she is just really honoring an old tradition of checking to see if the bottle you bought is the real bottle.
 
That’s all for now, see you all soon!
-Adam
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A Blended Scotch, A Welcome Surprise

July 23, 2012

Sometimes it takes a trip across the world to find what you’ve missing…

Okay, so in this case, it was a trip to the Chicago suburbs, and what I was missing was a bottle of Scotch. But sometimes I worry if I don’t play up the dramatics, you guys will stop reading. That being said, I really was pretty pumped when I saw the bottle of Monkey Shoulder at this hotel bar. Because since a few of the Noblers and I made our way through my Christmas present bottle, I haven’t seen the stuff anywhere. And it’s really a damn good blended scotch, in a great looking bottle, with a pretty stellar name.

The name monkey shoulder comes from the term describing the common injury the malt men of years past would frequently suffer from as they went through the arduous process of turning the barley constantly during the malting process. As with other popular blended scotches, the monkey shoulder team selects their final make-up from a finite number of casks guaranteeing they have complete control to develop the character they desire. 27 casks in all from 3 Speyside malt’s make their way into this bottle and after maturing in bourbon casks, the final product is a balanced cross between Scotland tradition and new world whiskey flavor. It really is the perfect scotch for a bourbon drinker!

After a little research it sounds like Monkey Shoulder made its first US appearance earlier this year in the Chicago area (makes sense now). I’m glad it made it’s here but now let’s hope we start to see it back in NYC.

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Arak and Yogurt

July 16, 2012

I just had one of the more interesting cocktails of my life…

Midway through one of the more delicious meals I’ve had, in possibly the most unique city in the world, Jerusalem, out came 5 shot glasses full of a sort of cloudy looking concoction. My naive brain immediately assumed coconut water but I wasn’t even close. Arak and Yogurt is like the Arabian pickle back but with some serious class. Is that offensive?

But anyway, the reason I compare it to the pickle back is that the same principles apply (at least in terms of flavors). The tangy yogurt (in this case I believe it was watered down) cuts the alcohol in the Arak but pairs perfectly with the Anise flavor which isn’t normally my favorite. I’d have a million of these if I could. So damn good.

And the Arak story only gets more interesting. I was doing some research before I posted and the spirit has a really unique characteristic. That cloudiness wasn’t only from the yogurt itself but rather the anise essential oil, anethole, which is soluble (dissolves in) alcohol but not in water. Chemistry and booze! Two of my favorite things!

I think I may bring a bottle of this back to the states to mess around with further. Any Arak drinkers out there?

 

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