Archive for April, 2013

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The Cow Thieves Porter

April 29, 2013

porter

You know it’s a pretty good sign to continue with a hobby when each and every time you give it a go, the outcome is the best to date. Long live the Cow Thieves Brewery!

Our porter, donned with one of my favorite labels to date (a little original Bonnie and Clyde if you ask me), came out so delicious and drinkable that I’m reluctant to bring it up. The issue of course, is once you start making beer (or anything for that matter) that exceeds your expectations its always a little harder to give them out as gifts. So for those who end up with a few, consider yourselves the lucky ones. I had been worried, despite our initial pre-bottling tasting that the end result might have been a bit heavier than I was hoping for. Turns out, we nailed the balance between those malty flavors I love in a porter without suffering from pallet overload. Amazing!
sorachi

The only shame of it all, is that our Sorachi Ace hopped pale ale is getting a lot less attention, despite the fact that it’s pretty damn delicious on it’s own. The aroma of the Sorachi Ace is spot on and the flavors themselves are perfectly balanced as well. This is a great spring time cookout beer, one in which I plan on drinking quite a bit of the next few weeks.

Speaking of the next few weeks…

It’s prime brewing season for us, so we’re already getting back to the drawing board on what to go for next. We loved our Saisons last spring so we might bring a variation back into the fold, but we’re open to your suggestions as well. What kind of beer should we make next? Any favorites we can use as inspiration?

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Whiskey Energy Plant Success!

April 25, 2013

Helius Energy awards contracts for 7.5 MW biomass plant

Investigative reporter for the Nobler, Joe Anzalone, sent me another amazing article last night proving that the world of alcohol and the world of science are linked in more ways than you might imagine.

This project has been years in the making, “being undertaken by Helius Corde, the joint venture of biomass energy development company Helius Energy and The Combination of Rothes Distillers.” As we have heard from a lot of the new up and coming distilleries, waste removal is a major challenge in the production of spirits. Whether it be corn, wheat, rye, or any other input, the leftover mash from the distillation process is pretty much useless when it comes to traditional notions of agriculture waste utilization. With all of the essentials gone, the waste is not ideal for fertilization, composting, animal feed, or any of the other typical options.

But biomass to power production has been an increasingly hot area of research and the efficiencies are finally reaching implementable levels. Cutting the ribbon on this Scottish Biomass Power Plant is a wonderful achievement in closing the loop for one of the most famous international production processes. Using the local distilleries waste to produce clean energy for 9,000 homes in the area is an amazing example of innovation and worthy of a glass raising from the Noblers!

 

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Atsby Vermouth – Redefining a Classic

April 23, 2013

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It’s no wonder that when I first reached out to Adam Ford of Atsby Vermouth to set up a tasting for the Noblers, he offered to try to coordinate with the folks at Tuthilltown. After getting to meet Adam in person and try his two insanely delicious vermouths on Saturday, it’s clear he shares the passion and knowledge that make Tuthilltown and the spirit resurgence so exciting. 

Now you might be wondering, “Vermouth? Who the hell drinks that stuff?”. And if so you are not alone. In fact, up until recently, I myself had no real concept or appreciation for the history of this fortified wine and how through complacency and poor utilization, vermouth as a product had lost its way. You see, most of us know the stuff as that dusty bottle in our parents liquor cabinets used inconsistently and on a seriously limited basis. In fact, most of my experience with vermouth came from the bar at the French restaurant I worked at where vermouth was used to “flavor the glass” by pouring in and pouring out before a heavy dose of vodka or gin finished the job. Pair this with the fact that most folks don’t realize that vermouth, being the wine based spirit it is, goes bad, and goes bad a lot quicker than you’d think, and you’ve got yourself a pretty solid explanation for the lack of vermouth appreciation. So yes, if you or your parents have a bottle of 20-year-old open vermouth, it’s probably time to throw the crap out.

In our tasting with Adam, he mentioned noticing many of these same observations. But after experiencing the peak of vermouth in his travels overseas, he came back with a plan to change these notions. Honoring the historical production of infusing botanicals into a mix of wine, brandy, and sweetener but upping the ante by starting with high-end nuanced products instead of the traditional bland wines and neutral spirits, Adam has created two modern-day vermouths, utilizing New York based sourcing to re-invigorate and create recognition for a truly delicious product category.

Atsby now has two vermouths on the market in its Amberthorn and Armadillo Cake varietals. Vermouths often come as “dry” or “sweet” but Adam took a more middle ground approach to make two delicious and versatile offerings. By leaning closer to the middle of “dry” and “sweet” for each of his products, the real distinction comes in the use of the many botanicals like French lavender in the Amberthorn and cardamom and shitake mushrooms in the Armadillo cake. Both were delicious but my preference for the Armadillo Cake probably stems from my preference for whiskey. The Armadillo Cake and Tuthilltown’s Hudson Manhattan Rye are a match made in heaven.

I was excited to start experimenting with Atsby Vermouth in my own cocktail creation but last night, I decided to start with a classic. The Manhattan is by far one of the most famous whiskey based cocktails out there and while it might be simple in execution, the utilization of specific products is where the flavors can really take off. So being a bit inspired by Adam’s passion, I decided to use my own homemade spirits to make my version of the perfect Manhattan. Make sure you pick up a bottle of Atsby Vermouth and enjoy this delicious cocktail!

The Great Atsby

2.5 oz Bourbon or Rye (I used my own, but choose your favorite)

1.5 oz Atsby Armadillo Cake Vermouth

4 drops of Orange Bitters (I used my own here, but choose your favorite)

Lemon rind for garnish

Stir the bourbon, vermouth, and bitters in a whiskey glass. Add one large ice cube and garnish with the lemon rind. The classic recipes call for a maraschino cherry and an orange wedge but I prefer my drink a bit less fruity. Enjoy!

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Tuthilltown Spirits – One of a Kind

April 21, 2013

tuthilltown

For close to two years, I’ve been sharing my passion for all things alcohol here at the Nobler Experiment; so much of which has stemmed from the complex and fascinating role in which Prohibition shaped the way in which we currently enjoy liquor, wine, and beer. It’s why, as I’ve mentioned countless times before, to be a part of the modern-day spirit resurgence, is more than a little exciting. Visiting and supporting the up and coming distilleries, working on new cocktail recipes to drink with all of you, and bringing people together to share in the total experience of the Nobler Experiment is a passion that keeps growing. And after our visit up to Tuthilltown Spirits this past Saturday to celebrate my birthday, it’s safe to say, this passion is at an all time high.

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In some ways I should probably start this post with an admission of sorts. It really is a bit insane it took me this long to get up to Tuthilltown. Even ignoring the fact that they are a simple 1.5 hour bus ride from NYC for just a second, the discussion of a New York spirits resurgence should have probably started with them at the top of our tour list. As the very first New York state distillery since Prohibition, the co-founders, Ralph Erenzo and Brian Lee have been pushing the boundaries on local spirit creation since 2003. You have almost certainly seen their Hudson Baby Bourbon and like-bottled whiskeys on the market more and more recently, but what you may not realize is just how committed to locally sourcing their inputs they remain.

still

The locally grown wheat and apples for their gin and vodka (not apple flavored, but rather apple distilled) and the corn and grain for their whiskeys are not being utilized as a silly marketing gimmick but rather as a concerted effort to make high quality products with distinction and character. You get this sense perfectly walking around their facility, a beautifully converted Gristmill in Gardiner, NY. Even with more recent updates and increases in efficiency, you really get the sense of just how passionate and involved they are with each and every spirit. Most noticeably, in their “filling and labeling” line where each and every bottle is hand and visually inspected (of course after being tasted) to ensure it meets the standard. Don, our tour guide, joked about their now “up to date” labeling machine and how much time it saves them. Of course, this is the same machine that is still a one bottle at a time, hand crank. So there’s no question, these whiskeys have been given a lot of attention. And it shows in the tasting.

barrels

First off, I can say with confidence, I was there to try whiskey. I had tried the Baby Bourbon and their Single Malt prior to our visit, but was excited to try some of their other offerings, mainly their 100% Rye and their Four Grain whiskey. But I was shocked when I found out they were producing a Gin from 80% wheat and 20% apples that completely rocked my world; most interesting and delicious gin I have ever tasted. But I think unique is what the folks at Tuthilltown do right with everything they touch. In all of their aged spirits, there is a complexity in flavor that I truly love. The market for whiskeys is getting bigger and bigger but my experience of late has been an overwhelming flurry of “regular”. Good, solid whiskeys but without much nuance. Tuthilltown’s spirits on the other hand are riddled with nuance and are great additions to every liquor collection.

bourbon

Overall, it was an unbelievable birthday celebration and I have to absolutely thank the team at Tuthilltown for making it so special and welcoming us for such a fun experience. Plus a special thank you for bringing up Adam Ford of Atsby Vermouth who just like the folks at Tuthilltown, is doing some pretty special things with spirits. Check back tomorrow for more on Adam’s amazing products and in the mean time, get booking your trip to Tuthilltown!

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The First Sip is the Deepest

April 17, 2013

alcohol-brain

For years, the first sip has always been my favorite. So when I stumbled upon this study suggesting that the taste of beer alone may trigger a dopamine response even before the alcohol has a chance to take effect, I was pretty intrigued. The rest of this article goes on to suggest that this testing might be a way to determine an individual’s predisposition to alcoholism but even if this is true, I’m not so interested in that as a topic. But rather, I think this study supports a fairly common observation that we would all probably attest to: your own unwind and relaxation routine is only as good as the memories you’ve created using this same method before.

This is why the whiskey lovers out there, the Noblers included, spend time finding their favorite glassware, their moment-specific bottles of choice, and even their favorite ice cubes (shapes and sizes). I’d argue if the study was repeated on me, my dopamine levels would be off the charts before my bourbon even touched the glass. It’s the effect of the overall experience that makes the drink so relaxing: even more reason to slow down and enjoy your drink of choice!

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Cow Thieves Customization

April 15, 2013

beercaps

Bottling day at the Cow Thieves Brewery has become quite the impressive feat of efficiency. My guess is we’ve got our system down to a rate of around 10 bottles a minute for filling and 20 bottles a minute for capping without making much of a mess at all. Of course I say “much of a mess” because I tend to lose focus at least once per batch, overfilling a bottle or two here and there. But maybe this is just my sub-conscious way of screwing up so we have some product to try. And try we did…

As excited as I was to make a porter, I was a bit nervous about how it would turn out. It was like nothing we had tried making before and I’ve had a lot of not so delicious porters. Add that to the somewhat out of seasonality (pointed out so nicely by Nobler Dan on Facebook), it wasn’t clear if we’d be calling this one a success. But if the taste profile before bottling is any indication of how this one turned out, we are all in for a treat. Amazing flavors, great balance, and even a lightness that I wasn’t expecting has got this brew in the early lead for best ever by the Cow Thieves crew. We tried our pale ale as well, and the Sorachi Ace hops really shine through; so pumped to have found them.

But the hit of the day was by far the use of our custom caps from the team over at BottleMark. I bought these suckers a long time ago but we finally had the batch to use them. They look so amazing on the bottle and I’m excited to bring our beer making skills to the next level. Considering how easy and cost-effective these guys make custom caps, I can see myself getting pretty carried away with this moving forward. Thinking there needs to be a reader generated cap in the near future…any takers?

 

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It’s Spring, Ignore the Crappy Weather

April 12, 2013

IncaGoldPiscoBottle_RGB-tile

We had a glimpse of spring earlier this week so despite the crappy weather outside, I’m rolling with sunny evenings filled with refreshing cocktails for now on. I don’t care if it’s pouring outside either, it’s outdoor drinking season in my mind, so who’s with me?

So with the season swapping agreed upon, I’m eying up a few new purchases to refresh our liquor collection a bit. And I’m asking you all for some help. I’ve got room for one more bottle (yes, we have a seriously intense liquor collection) so I’m leaving it up to you all to decide what I buy. Of course, with that comes a series of spring related cocktail recipes coming soon so it’s like choose your own adventure…and who doesn’t love a little choose your own adventure.

Oh, and you need another reason to spend that little extra clicking energy to cast your vote. If you get in on the action, you are automatically qualified for the next Nobler giveaway contest starting next week with a bottle of my latest batch of bitters as the winner’s prize! Happy Spring everyone!

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