Summer Beer Pairings

Summer is here. It’s time to jump in the pool and feel that cool refreshing water hit your skin. After you find yourself out of the water, you’re hungry and ready for the perfect brew. Your palate will be salivating at the thought of these dishes and their pairings. Are you ready for this?

You can never go wrong with good barbeque. Beer + Barbeque = Beer-beque. Absolute perfection.

The perfect meals that we find go well with any good brew are:

-Pork Chops
-Steak
-Burgers

Do you agree? Luckily, a few of our breweries that we distribute for have created a few suggested pairings!

A fan of Heavy Seas Smooth Sail? This refreshing American wheat ale, brewed with lemon and orange peel is suggested to pair with tantalizing grilled white fish, citrus, wild rice, and of course: BBQ.

How about Kona Gold Cliff IPA? A brew we just recently began distributing has a delicious suggestion for a great pairing. “Have a Gold Cliff IPA with smoked pork, grilled ham, or chicken sausage to make any meal a luau. It even goes well with dessert. Try it with a piece of moist golden cake and you will have a pineapple upside-down experience that is sooo ‘ono (delicious)!”

We can’t pass up that offer. Who’s ready for that delicious meal? (We’ll take everything please.)

And, last but not least Bell’s Brewery has created their very own recipe to pair with their brew: Porter! Check out their “Porter Beer Cheese Soup” concoction here. And for dessert, they recommend vanilla bean ice cream.

Think you can handle all of these delicious, tasty foods and brews? Find your favorites using our Locator today. And as always, please drink responsibly.

What is a Stout?

A Stout is a dark beer created using roasted malt or roasted barley, hops, water, and yeast. Stouts are traditionally used as the generic term for the strongest (or stoutest) porters, made by a brewery, that have an alcohol content of about 7-8%. There are many different variations including Baltic porter, milk stout, and imperial stout. The Dry Irish stout – the best seller, is typically 4-5.5%.

The first known use of the word stout was in a document dated back to 1677, found in the Egerton Manuscript, with the sense being that a stout was a strong beer not a dark beer. The name porter was first used in 1721 to describe a dark brown beer that had been created with roasted malts. Due to the huge popularity of porters, brewers began creating them in a variety of strengths. Today, stouts can reach 17-18% or higher when barrel aged and some people push that boundary further on a yearly basis. The heaviest beers were called “stout porters”, leaving us to conclude that the history and development of stout and porter are intertwined, and the term stout has become firmly associated with dark beer, rather than just powerful beer.

Most individuals who take the plunge into the “dark side” of beer exploration are astonished to find that stouts are neither heavy nor unpleasantly strong. We have found that it is quite the opposite. Despite the dark color, stouts are created in a wide variety of diverse flavors and offerings to suit nearly any purpose or occasion. Many well-known stouts are complex and low in alcohol, with gorgeous roundedness and a touch of roastiness. The dry types are delicious and thirst quenching while the sweeter types are silky and well rounded, creating a flawless evening of paired food and beverage.

Dry Stouts
The most unique characteristic of a dry stout is the black, essentially opaque appearance. This deep color comes from the use of roasted barley. This strong ingredient used in tiny amounts, gives a stout its deep color and assertive flavor of bitter chocolate and espresso. The roasted barley also offers a drying sensation. No beer style is more linked with a single country than dry stouts are with Ireland.

The country’s brewing background has been traced back approximately five millennia. However, it is the past three hundred years, and the well-known brewing revolution in England, that directly inspired the craft and commerce in Ireland. Guinness, the most popular brewing family in Ireland, has been brewing beer in County Kildare, since the first half of the 18th century. In 1759, the heir, Arthur Guinness, moved to Dublin and leased a brewery at St. James Gate. This would later become the famous brewery that carries their name.

Other Stouts
Some stouts brewed in England and America are sweeter or stronger than Irish dry stouts. Brewers may add milk-sugar (lactose) for sweetness, or brew with a tiny amount of oatmeal, an ingredient that adds complexity, silkiness and a hint of something sweet. Other brewers increase the chocolate and coffee notes in stout with the addition of real chocolate or coffee!

The strongest beers in the stout family (the “stoutest” stouts) are the Russian imperials. These powerful, inky beers are named for their popularity in the Russian Court of Catherine The Great. With strong flavors of espresso, dark chocolate and licorice, and an alcohol content in the range of many wines, these beers are for sipping!

Food and Beer Pairings

First, there is no wrong beer for what you are eating if that is what you enjoy! The information we are providing you with is a wonderful go-to for what will enhance your dining experience. For centuries, if you asked a restaurant server in any mid-range to ritzy American eatery what drink to pair with a certain dish, they’d bring over the Sommelier and a wine bottle negotiation would ensue. But in the last five years, there’s been a paradigm shift: beer has made it onto the drink menu as more than just an addition. Beverage directors, chefs, and even wine lovers have learned that beer has an astonishing capacity to pair with all kinds of foods. Thus, Beer Sommeliers have burst up in cities across the country, especially Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and Portland Oregon. Beer-and-food tasting events have multiplied exponentially – the monthly lists at beerfestivals.org are massive. Today, asking for a beer no longer means you’re simply afraid of wine. There is positively more room for flavor variety. Winemakers, after all, have one ingredient to play with: grapes. Two, if you count wood-barrel–aging. Beermakers, on the other hand, can experiment. Beer is as versatile as it is diverse, providing both complementary and contrasting experiences when paired with food. The following menu will help you to explore these and increase your enjoyment of beer & food pairing.

Perfect food matches and related recipes are below:

Ale:

Pair with burgers; buffalo wings; Asian food; Mexican food; spicy food; nutty food; fried food; pizza; steaks; Cheddar, Parmesan, or Romano cheeses.

Bock Beer:

Pair with Gruyère, Emmental, and Swiss cheeses; Cajun food; jerk chicken; beef; sausage; seared foods.

Fruit Beer/Lambic:

Pair with mascarpone cheese; light white meat; foods driven by herbs and spices; duck and pork dishes with sweet components (avoid very tart lambics); pickled dishes (great with tart lambics); salads with fruity dressings; fruity desserts.

Lager:

Pair with shellfish; light seafood; sushi; grilled pork and chicken; not-too-heavy pasta dishes (without cream or meat sauces); Southeast Asian food; Latin food; Mexican food; spicy food.

Pilsner:

Pair with American cheese; Muenster, Havarti, and Monterey Jack cheeses; salads; light seafood; salmon; tuna; trout; asparagus; Asian food; Mexican food; spicy food.

Porter:

Pair with smoked foods; barbecue; sausage; rich stews; meats; bacon; chili; braised dishes.

Stout:

Pair with roasted foods; smoked foods; barbecued/grilled foods; salty foods; oysters; rich stews; braised dishes; chocolate; desserts (ideally the beer is sweeter than the dish).

Wheat Beer/Hefeweizen:

Pair with light soups and salads; vegetarian dishes; sushi; Gruyère cheese and Feta/goat’s cheese; sweet and fruity Asian dishes; citrus-flavored dishes, including dessert and salad dressings.
Remember, respectable craft-brewed beer can be much more stimulating than wine — it’s cool, refreshing and, depending on the style, can be much richer, more complex and more flavorful than wine. Plus, if you have an average person’s budget and capacity, you’ll find that tasting several different beers during a meal is preferable to tasting several different wines.

The Revival of the Sour Beer

A few years ago the big talk in the craft beer industry was about how hoppy a beer could be. Every craft brewer was making IPAs, session IPAs, and imperial double IPAs. It quickly got to the point where there was an over-saturation of hoppy beers. Soon, brewers started to look to other types of beers to set themselves apart. This is when the latest beer trend started to gain footing.  Brewers started to make sour tasting beers. Sour beers have actually been around for hundreds of years but had waned in popularity toward the end of the 19th century. So, for many beer drinkers, this was like tasting a beer they had never had before.

In the late 19th century, Louis Pasteur made discoveries regarding yeast and how it helps ferment alcohol. Before this, almost all beers had some sort of sour taste to them because they used “wild yeasts” that lived in the wood and air that the beer was being fermented in. Once Pasteur made his discoveries, it led to brewers picking and choosing the yeast for their beer, which then led to consistent flavors that could be produced over and over again After a while, this led to a decline in sour beers as wild yeasts were no longer needed to ferment beer. So recently, when brewers wanted something different from the hoppy beers, they turned to this old style.

There are a few different types of sour beers that will be highlighted throughout this story. These types include American Wild Ale, Berliner Weisse, Flanders Red Ale, Gose, Lambic, and Oud Bruin.

American Wild Ales are beers that are introduced to “wild” yeast or bacteria, such as Brettanomyces, Pediococcus, or Lactobacillus. This introduction may occur from oak barrels that have been previously inoculated, pitched into the beer, or gained from various “sour mash” techniques. A great example of an American Wild Ale is Riserva from Weyerbacher. Riserva is fermented with a blend of Saccharomyces yeast, Brettanomyces yeast, and lactic acid bacteria that produces funky, sour, and fruity flavors and aromas.

Berliner Weisse is a top-fermented, bottle conditioned wheat beer, made with both traditional warm-fermenting yeasts and lactobacillus culture. They have a rapidly vanishing head and a clear, pale golden straw-colored appearance. The taste is refreshing, tart, sour, and acidic, with a lemony-citric fruit sharpness and almost no hop bitterness.

Flanders Reds are commonly referred to as the “red” beers of West Flanders. Belgian Red beers are typically light-bodied brews with reddish-brown colors. They are infamous for their distinct sharp, fruity, sour, and tart flavors that are produced by special yeast strains. Very complex beers, they are produced under the age-old tradition of long-term cask aging in oak and the blending of young and old beers.

Gose is an unfiltered wheat beer made with 50-60% malted wheat, which creates a cloudy yellow color and provides a refreshing crispness and twang. A Gose will have a low hop bitterness, a complementary dryness and spiciness from the use of ground coriander seeds, and a sharpness from the addition of salt.

Lambic beer is a spontaneous fermented unblended ale that is indigenous to the Senne Valley of Belgium. Large portions of wheat bring out the crispness though the flavor is dominated by a unique tartness from the wild yeast and bacteria that inoculate the brew from both airborne and tainted barrels that they ferment in. An example of a lambic beer would be Up Ship Kriek from Revival in Rhode Island.  This Lambic-style sour was created from wild fermentation in locally sourced wine barrels with tart cherries. Azacca hops make this pale and aromatic brew the perfect sipper for rebellious behavior.

Oud Bruins, not restricted to but concentrated in Flanders, are light to medium-bodied and deep copper to brown in color. They are extremely varied, characterized by a slight vinegar or lactic sourness and spiciness to smooth and sweet. A fruity-estery character is apparent with no hop flavor or aroma. Monomoy Kriek from Cisco is a great example of this style. This is a sour Flemish-style Red from Cisco’s “The Woods” series. It’s aged on whole sour cherries and in oak barrels.

Sour, wild, wood-aged beers are anything but boring. Their unpredictability can be unnerving. So many more of nature’s variables are at play during fermentation and maturation; the brewer is dealing with complex ecosystems, not a straightforward industrial process. But beer lovers who embrace these new interpretations are finding flavors that stretch our modern definition of “beer”—and remind us of its origins.

The Rise of Cask Beer in Rhode Island

Did you know that cask beers have been around for centuries? If you aren’t familiar with a cask ale, it is much different than the beer you may be used to sampling.
This particular brew is unfiltered and only goes through a slight fermentation in the cask itself. There is no long storage process and it typically needs to be consumed within a few days. To put it simply, it’s fresh, bold and has local craft beer enthusiasts buzzing.
So, if you are looking to impress your local Rhode Island bar crowd, we have a few reasons why you should consider adding a cask to your beer line up.

Cask Beer is Unique

The local beer industry offers a wide range of brews with unique flavors and ingredients, but none of them compare to the truly original cask flavors. One of the most interesting aspects of this style is that every cask is different. Even if the brewers are using the same ingredients and recipe, the product is unfiltered and matures within the cask offering an original taste that cannot be recreated.
As a Rhode Island bar or restaurant owner, you may have noticed that the more rare the beer product, the more attention it gets. Luckily, cask beers are always rare and will give bar goers a unique pour.

The Freshest Brews You Can Find

Some may shy away from the short shelf life of the cask ale, but to a true beer lover, it simply means you are getting the freshest beer on the market. These particular brews do not go through a pasteurization process and are not stored. They are taken right from the breweries to their final destination, your bar. If that isn’t a fresh brewed beer, we don’t know what is.

Cask Ales are Full of Flavor

Over the years cask beer has seen a few changes. The British-style caters more towards the traditional palate, while the US has shifted towards more colorful flavors. Whether your bar goers are fans of floral, citrus or bitter tastes, a cask ale will be able to offer them an intensity & depth unlike standard draft beers.

Cask Beer Popularity

Defend Your Beer From Enemies

Yes, it’s true. Your favorite beers have enemies in the form of light, temperature and time. In an effort to promote the consumption of fresh beer, we have come up with a defense guide in order to keep your craft beer selections at their best.

#1 Limit Your Light Exposure

Have you ever tasted a “skunked” beer before? Unfortunately, bad beer is a common occurrence due to light exposure. Bad light conditions tend to alter the beer’s flavor and aroma. The best defense is to keep your beer in dark conditions, or in a cardboard box or cooler if outside. The less light your beer sees, the better.

#2 Be Mindful of Temps

As you may know, temperatures play a big part when it comes to maintaining the flavors of your beer. We recommend storing your brews in a cold setting that is anywhere from 35-45 degrees. This will help keep your beers as fresh as possible for an extended amount of time. If you can’t give your beers a consistent cold storage option, be sure to go through it quickly.

#3 Drink Within Recommended Times

IPA’s, American Barleywines and Wheat Beers are not meant to be stored. Although you may think it allows your beer time to develop, they are meant to be served fresh. Oxidation is a process that happens over time, and will eventually change the flavor of your beer leaving it with a stale taste.

How do you avoid oxidation? If your craft beer has a recommended “drink date”, don’t take it as a suggestion, it is recommended for a reason. If there is no recommended “drink by date” present on the label, give it no longer than 3 months.

Now that you have a guide to the best beer defense, you should know a few things about getting the freshest beer on tap and in-store. When it comes to grabbing a draft beer at a bar, keep in mind that beer is brought in from all over. This might mean that the kegs were filled weeks ago and has been traveling ever since. If you order a beer from a local brewery, there is a better chance of it being a fresh batch due to its’ close distribution circuit.

When it comes to buying your beers in-store, we always recommend heading over to the cold case. As you know temps can wreak havoc on particular styles of beer, so if you can avoid grabbing a room temp six-pack, do it.

There is nothing like a fresh tasting beer. We hope with this defense guide you can not only defend your brews against flavor altering elements, but can pick up the freshest beers in-store or on tap!

A Guide To Cellaring Beer

There are a lot of opinions out there regarding the best brews to store and how to store it. Although some cellaring tips are subjective, there are a few that are consistent across the board.

So, if you have decided to start cellaring your local craft beer selections, take a look at our guide to a few standard rules and suggestions!

Don’t Make A Cellar Spot For Your IPA’s

If there is one thing all beer enthusiasts can agree on, it’s that hoppy beers are not meant to be stored. IPA’s and Double IPA’s are meant to be fresh, this is why you may see “drink by dates” on certain hoppy labels. The reason? Over time the elements that make these beers special start to fade away.

Taste, aroma and bitterness begins to diminish, and the high levels of alpha acids in hops can oxidize giving your brew a stale flavor. So, if you are thinking about putting a few hoppy options in your cellar to age for a year, we highly recommend inviting friends over and enjoying them as soon as you can.

Add A Space for Imperials & Barleywines

If you have an imperial beer that is more than 8%, save a spot on your cellar shelves for them. Alcohol will act as a preservative for your beer, which is why we recommend giving your higher ABV beers more time to develop. The same can be said about oak-aged beers and barleywines. Just keep in mind that American Barleywines will need a close eye compared to its’ English Barleywine sibling.

American Barleywines often cater towards the “hoppy” beer lovers. With time it will loose its’ hops properties and offer a fruitier flavor palate. If you don’t mind the traditional barleywine taste, than feel free to leave your American style in the cellar for some time.

Keep An Eye on Your Wheats

Wheat beers are similar to to IPA’s in that over time its’ “special” components fade away. Have you ever seen a wheat beer with a sediment on the bottom? This is most likely due to the fact that wheat proteins don’t typically like to stay suspended in beer and will begin to drop. If you want to avoid sediment and a cardboard taste the occurs if aged too long, we recommend enjoying your wheat brews sooner, rather than later.

Best Storage Options

Proper beer storing techniques will always be up for debate, but there are a few things to keep in mind. First is temperature. We personally like to keep our beers at around 40 degrees. If you don’t have a spot in your home that stays cool on its’ own, consider getting an additional fridge. This will help you avoid temperatures fluctuating.

Just remember that if you have a few bottles with corks, a cellar environment is ideal. The low level of humidity will ensure your corks don’t dry out.

Create Your Own Opinions

You know your palate. We can give you all the tips in the world, but if you like your beer a little less hoppy and a little more fruitful, cellar it. A great way to find out your likes and dislikes is by trying one beer when you first purchase and then storing one to compare flavors.

In the end it’s your opinion that matters, so be sure to use your best beer judgement and to enjoy your favorites whether they are cellared or fresh from the brewery!