Archive for the ‘beer’ Category

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Hipsters Drive Up Beer Prices

May 21, 2013

It feels a little strange referencing a FoxNews post here at the Nobler but I thought this was pretty funny…

As you all know quite well, PBR has become the epitome of Hipsterama. Almost to the point of absurdity. No, scratch that. It’s past the point of absurdity. But the rush on cheap beer by the growing hipster nation may have had some unintended effects, of which probably doesn’t impact the majority of said hipsters. The price of cheap beer is rising my friends, and at a rate higher than the craft beer offerings. This of course has manifested itself in some pretty ridiculous PBR and Budweiser prices at a number of bars around the city, and while you might be tempted to make the argument that it’s still a hell of a lot cheaper than a cocktail, I question if that’s the right comparison. Beer to beer pricing has become a more interesting evaluation.

I’m always a bit amazed when I see on a beer list the convergence of prices between the medium sized “craft” brews and the sub-premium standards. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not much of a beer snob. I find value in most beer in fact. But it’s all about price point. Or at least it should be. Both in stores and at bars, the prices are becoming too similar to distinguish. $6 for a Sixpoint versus $4 for a PBR seems like a no brainer for example. But there is still one place where the cheapies rule to roost.

The shot and a beer combo (my favorite naming of course being “The Sportsmen”) is a world the PBRs and the Buds should rule forever! Long live the Sportsmen!

 

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The Cow Thieves Porter

April 29, 2013

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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!
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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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The First Sip is the Deepest

April 17, 2013

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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

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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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Beer, Beasts, And Vegetarian Food

April 9, 2013

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…Here’s a Beer For Beasts Review by Dan Sicina!

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Spring time is here and with it comes blooming flowers, chirping birds, sundresses and the inevitable scheduling of beer festivals.  With all of this great stuff to look forward to the Noblers attended the first beer festival they could find: Beer For Beasts, put on by Sixpoint Brewery and held at the Bell House in Gowanus, Brooklyn.  There are several reasons why this beer festival stands out from the others that makes it by far the most interesting beer event of the year (in my opinion).  

First, a portion of the proceeds goes directly to the ASPCA to help all of our furry friends, which makes me feel better about tying on a good buzz during the daylight hours.  Second, the beers served are almost all uniquely brewed for this event by Sixpoint while some are brewed by other local brewers in partnership with Sixpoint. This event is a perfect microcosm of the culture that Sixpoint supports, which is one part local philanthropy and one part bad-ass beer experimentation, two things I particularly enjoy as well.  

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As for the beer itself, there was a dual focus on Sixpoint’s take on traditional styles (Farmhouse Ales, Saisons, Scotch Ales) with a bit of experimentation in the form of a few unique brews (Orange Chocolate Stout, Rosemary Infused Ale), which rounded to about 30-40 styles (I lost track after my 30th mini cup of beer).  The key to enjoying these beers was to not get hung up on the raw quality of them, since they were brewed specifically for this event, but to appreciate the diversity of flavors than can be created by a micro brewery found in Red Hook, Brooklyn and to generally revere the mad scientists that make Sixpoint such an excellent brewery.

Going beyond the beer, they also had food carts outside serving Indian, Mexican, British and Italian food, which were all vegetarian. which makes total sense since it’s a benefit for animals (had I known I would have packed a bag of beef jerky.)  In addition to satisfying our beer and food cravings (lets not talk about my meat cravings), they also had a full lineup of three professional stand up comedians.  Unfortunately, due to the nature of a beer festival, stand up comedy was not well received since people were milling about and talking. These guys still landed a number of pretty funny jokes for the people listening, but it was nonetheless a “tough crowd.”  Perhaps a band would have been a better entertainment option.

I would definitely attend this event again next year, because there is no losing when you are drinking good beer for a good cause.  Also, I am a believer in the fact that experimentation leads to innovation and greatness, which is why I’ll seek out these Sixpoint events.  I am happy to be a part of this local brewery’s culture of helping the community and also experiencing the cutting edge of brewing.

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How to Live to 101

April 8, 2013

Dear Nancy Lamperti, You rule.

Now if I might make a few small suggestions. Switch from SoCo to bourbon, Budweiser to Cow Thieves, and promise to host the next Nobler Gathering!
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Like Watching Bourbon Age

April 5, 2013

photo(1)Just a few weeks into the aging process, I’ve had a number of Night Cap guests send me updates on the status of their mason jar bourbon. I myself have filled a number of jars tweaking a few variables here and there to see if I can start to perfect the process a bit. Turns out the hardest part of aging moonshine into bourbon on your own is waiting. I tend to shake my jars every day to encourage the charred chips to interact with the liquid, thinking in my head this is speeding up the process. It’s really just me being impatient however…so looking forward to drinking it…

But so far without a doubt the best update came from two of my favorite friends, Gilly and Joe, in the form of this instagram (pictured above). Love this picture! And glad they’ve been keeping watchful eyes on their bourbon as well.

We’ve got a few other exciting things coming up over the next few weeks starting with a beer-ful weekend of bottling our latest Cow Thieves and hitting up Beer for Beasts tomorrow. Plus, it’s been too long since we’ve had a giveaway here at the Nobler, so check back next week to get in on the action. Enjoy the weekend everyone!

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With Craft Beer, More Isn’t Always A Good Thing

April 4, 2013

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[Photo: Jason E. Kaplan, Serious Drinks]

First off, I’ve got to say I’m a bit offended the Cow Thieves Brewery wasn’t invited to the Craft Brewers Conference this year. We could have held a really valuable seminar called “Barefoot Bottle Filling: The Pros and Cons of Questionable Quality Control”. Oh well, next year…

With all that silliness aside, this recap from the folks over at Serious Drinks summarizes a few trends in the industry, most of which I’m pretty happy about. Love the focus on new job opportunities! But the one that really blows my mind is the pacing of new U.S. Brewery openings. 409 new breweries in 2012 with another 1254 in the planning stages is just insane. That is an unbelievable amount of craft beer and as Jen mentions in her write up, this isn’t always a good thing.

We’ve all had the craft beer that disappoints and with the number of new breweries growing, I’m fearful that this will become more of a regular occurrence. But with the number of beer obsessives out there, I’m also thinking the less than average breweries will have to evolve or die. Either way, myself and the Noblers are excited to keep drinking these newbies, good, bad, or breathtaking. Speaking of which, who’s going to Beer for Beasts this weekend? We’ve got quite the Nobler contingency going and are always looking for new recruits!

 

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SweetWater IPA: A True Craft Beer

March 28, 2013

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There’s a lot of really good beer out there. And with national distribution channels and big brands buying up the little guys, in many cases, these delicious beers are available pretty much anywhere. But there are plenty of small-scale brewers maintaining a true regionality to their production, meaning us New Yorkers aren’t exactly their target consumers (Shocking I know right?). But that’s why it’s good to have friends who grew up in different areas of the country so that when they head home, they bring you back beers like SweetWater’s.

The story behind this Atlanta-based brewery is the inspiration that most beer lovers dream of. Two college roommates in Boulder, Colorado fall in love with brewing, head off to brewing school, and settle in Atlanta to launch their very own brewery. 16 years later, these guys are producing some of the areas best beer (so say’s Adam) and after a taste of their IPA I’m 100% sold. The quality and flavors of this IPA are really extraordinary. We’ve been trained to expect a hop bomb every time we pick up an IPA but as with anything, balance is key. The hop forward IPAs that forget about the overall drinking experience always fall flat, and the brewers at SweetWater must feel the same way. Crisp, hoppy, and really enjoyable to drink, their IPA is one of the best I’ve ever tasted.

So what about you all? Any regional gems you are obsessed with in your neck of the woods? And if so, mind if you ship me some…

 

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Porter and Enzymes

March 26, 2013

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It’s been over three months since the last time we brewed and Larry and I both agree: we can’t let that happen again. For one, we were on a nice little routine where I think we had sort of optimized the process a bit so this time we were a bit out of sync. But more importantly, I just absolutely love our brewing Sundays and I really friggin’ missed it. The good news is, this ridiculously long-lasting winter has made our “out of seasonality” a bit easier to catch up with and I’m really excited to see how our Porter and Pale Ale (with Sorachi Ace hops) turn out. Black and tans anyone?

I was particularly excited about the Porter after deciding on a malted barley blend that included some “chocolate malt”. My original thought on this malt as its own sort of varietal was a bit off actually. In fact, just like my affinity for bourbon aging, the key here is an element of heating. Not so much charring in this case; rather the chocolate malt is a more traditional malted barley that has been kilned at a fairly high temperature. This results in a “caramelization” of flavors bringing out the “vanillas” and “caramels” that we love in our Porters. But this high heat kilning has another interesting result as well.

The process of malting barley for fermentation purposes is all about the generation of enzymes. These enzymes act to convert the starch component of the barley to simple sugar molecules that are then digested by the yeast in the mixture. Of course, we know all about the yeast digesting sugar and producing alcohol, but those sugars have to come from somewhere. The amount of enzymes available for this conversion along with the flavor components of the barley itself help impart certain end notes in the product (let’s say beer in this case). So let’s bring it back to the “chocolate malt”. The kilning process actually degrades all of the enzymes. This means, our Porter mash must rely on some component of “pale malt” for the necessary enzymes to get fermentation. 

Man, all of this is getting me thirsty. What about you? Well, just a few weeks more and the next level of appreciation can begin.

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