Proper Glassware for Beer

If you’re the type who grabs a pint glass no matter what style of beer you’re pouring into it, allow us to enlighten you. In Belgium, especially, there is often a different style of glass for each beer, and it’s not just about getting beer fans to purchase more merch. You’ve probably heard the phrase “head is good,” and there’s a deeper meaning to that snicker-worthy saying. As soon as beer hits the glass, its color, aroma and taste changes. The head acts as a sort of net for the volatiles in the beer that lead to aromas such as hop oils yeast fermentation by-products like esters, spices or other notes you may notice. Different styles have different head retention, so accordingly, different glasses will lead to the most optimal experience of your beer.

Here are ten proper vessels for your favorite beers:

#1 If you are drinking a Belgian IPA, Dubbel, Triple, or Belgian Strong Dark Ale you will want a Goblet.

This wide-mouthed glass is intended to help a beer maintain head, and lets the drinker take deep sips. Goblets are more gentle, with an extended stem, while chalices are heavier and have thicker walls. Some are scored inside to maintain a certain level of head at the top.

#2 If you are drinking an American Lager, Bock, Pilsner, or Blonde Ale you will want a Pilsner glass.

This tall glass showcases carbonation and color, but helps the beer hold its head and enhances its volatiles. It’s the accurate choice for paler Lagers with a lot of carbonation, and unlike a Weizen, a correct Pilsner glass has no curvature.

#3 If you are drinking a Belgian Dark Ale, Double/Imperial Stout, Double/Imperial IPA, India Pale Ale, or Saison you will want a snifter.

More generally associated with brandy, a Snifter glass is a respectable choice for capturing and enhancing aromas and volatiles, making it a solid choice for stronger varieties. Snifter glasses keep all the aroma in, and for big sweet beers it certainly works. You can also swirl these glasses around to release aromas.

#4 If you are drinking a Saison, Scotch Ale, Belgian Pale Ale, Belgian Strong Ale, or Double/Imperial Stout you will want a tulip glass.

With this curved shape, you get to have a great foamy head while volatiles are captured and heightened. Tulip glasses make aromas so much brighter. If the head is key for a beer, this is a respectable glass to go with. Tulips are preferred for strong brews or high-gravity beers like triples and quads.

#5 If you are drinking a Weizenbock, Wheat Ale, Kristalweizen, or Dunkelweizen you will want a Weizen Glass.

This glass shape, extended and flared at the top, is intended for head and volume. It also helps maintain the beer’s aroma. This variety demonstrates the color and head of wheat beers well, while trapping the sediment often found in them at the narrow bottom of the glass.

#6 If you are drinking an American Pale Ale, Oatmeal Stout, Scottish Ale, Irish Dry Stout, or English Bitter you will want a mug.

This acquainted handled glass makes for laidback drinking and allows for plenty of volume, and helps to keep your beer stay chilled longer because your hand isn’t directly on the glass. A tankard mug has a thick bottom and straight sides, and the stouter krug mug is curved with a dimpled surface.

#7 If you are drinking Biere Brut, Biere de Champagne, Vienna Lager, Lambic, or Flanders Red Ale you will want a flute.

Just as with champagne, a flute glass improves and showcases carbonation in a beer. It also allows for the faster release of volatiles, resulting in a more intense aroma.

#8 If you are drinking a Rye Beer, Lambic, Gueuze, Bock, or Gose you will want a stange.

This tall, slender, up-and-down glass is a traditional German style that allows for a tighter concentration of volatiles. This is a respectable style for more delicate varieties. Do not have one of these nearby? Sub in a Tom Collins glass.

#9 If you are drinking a Double/Imperial IPA, Double/Imperial Stout, India Pale Ale, Brown Ale, or Porter you will want a pint glass.

This glass is known as the standard pub shaker. It makes for easy storage and drinking. A shaker, or American pint glass, is tapered with traditional sides, and a nonic or British Pint has a curved notch about two inches from the rim that makes for easier gripping. An imperial or Irish pint is tapered and curved from the middle up, and usually used for porters and Irish stouts.

#10 If you are drinking a Belgian Dark Ale, Belgian IPA, Saison, Belgian Pale Ale, or American Black Ale you will want an oversized wine glass.

Yes, a wine glass – a big one. A 22-ounce wine glass is great for serving Belgian Ales, the Beer Advocate writes. It can also make do where you might use a tulip or goblet, if you don’t have one on hand.

 

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.

Stay Responsible While Drinking Craft Beer

Everyone talks about drinking responsibly but it can be hard to know exactly what that means. Responsible drinking means that you never have to feel sorry for what has happened while you were drinking. Let’s be real everyone needs a night out on the town to let loose and have a good time, with a beer in their hand but we must look out for ourselves and stay SAFE! Learning about ways to keep your alcohol intake in check can be the first step in learning to drink responsibly, but there are a number of things to consider including taking personal responsibility and seeking outside help.

What Does It Mean to Drink Responsibly?
– Making sure you’re safe
– Making sure others around you are safe
– Actively avoiding dangerous situations
– Minimizing the risks for yourself and others
– Having a positive drinking experience

It is so important to stay aware of what you are drinking. Did you know Craft Beer tends to be significantly higher in alcohol? One IPA is equal to 1.5 standard beer. The market is beginning to move toward more sessional (5% or less ABV, or more traditional levels of alcohol) but, that is not the norm in most beer bars or for most craft consumers. Every person tolerates alcohol differently. Reasons for this are based on gender, weight, physical condition, and family history. It is important to KNOW YOUR LIMITS.
Always pace yourself while drinking. Try to stick to a general rule of one drink per hour. There is a general rule: for every two alcoholic beverages drink a full glass of water. If you choose to drive anywhere, don’t drink more alcohol than recommended. It’s recommended: around 1 standard drink for women, 2 drinks for men. Because alcohol is a depressant it can affect our reaction times, our vision and coordination, there is a legal drink-drive limit, which is based on BLOOD ALCOHOL CONCENTRATION (BAC). What is BAC? BAC is the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream. Your BAC depends on how much you drink. The more you drink, the higher your BAC. But there are also many other factors that affect your BAC such as your size, your weight, your gender, whether you’ve eaten and even how tired you are. BAC is measured with a breathalyzer or by analyzing a sample of blood. It is measured by the number of grams of alcohol in 100ml of blood. For example, a BAC of .08, the US legal limit for driving for those over 21, means you have .08 grams of alcohol in every 100ml of blood.
Another thing you should be aware of is mixing alcohol and other drugs (whether medication or recreational) is serious! Not only can you not anticipate the effect, it will have a huge effect on your behavior. Mixing alcohol with drugs can make you sick. There are no safe combos when it comes to mixing alcohol with drugs, so it’s better to just not mix them at all. The basic thing to remember to drink responsibly is using common sense. If it doesn’t sound like a good idea, it probably isn’t one. If you’re not comfortable with the environment you’re in or are worried about bad things happening, you should probably rethink your plans. If you don’t feel able to drink responsibly, for whatever reason, it might mean you need to seek some outside advice. Have a chat with someone you think is responsible about how they keep themselves in check.
Remember, just because you’re controlling how much you’re drinking, spending the evening being a sensible, responsible grownup, doesn’t mean the party will be boring!

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!

First Look at Half Full Brewery

If you haven’t heard of Half Full Brewery yet, it is only a matter of time. This Stamford, Connecticut brewery is starting to make some huge waves in the local craft beer industry, and we can understand why.

Their craft beer lineup has a style for every type of beer drinker and is why you may start seeing them more and more on local taps. So, if you are looking for a few more reasons to fall in love with Half Full Brewery and add them to your bar or restaurant, we will give you 5.

#1 Their Story

Every brewery has their story, which includes the “founding moment”. Half Full Brewery is no exception but their story evolved over time. Founder/Owner Connor Horrigan didn’t know he wanted to own a brewery, in fact his original career path landed him a job on Wall Street as an investment banker. After three years on the job, he realized he wanted to find something that he was passionate about, something that would make him and his family happy.

While on a trip around the world, circumstances brought him back home where he decided to pursue the one thing that would make him happy and energized each day. He wanted to open a brewery that inspired others to be optimistic, passionate and look at the world with a glass “half full” mentality.

#2 Their Beer

One of the main reasons why we are big fans of Half Full Brewery is there selection of beer. Like every local brewery they have their year-round beers which include a double IPA, west coast style IPA and a blonde/pale ale hybrid. Although these are some of our favorite brews they offer, that isn’t all they have. Along with limited releases, they have what they call their non-quantifiable beers.

If you love the non-traditional craft beer styles like a gose or barrel aged, you will want to keep you eyes on Half Full Brewery’s options. They aren’t always offered in their taproom, but make for a special pour when they are.

#3 Their Community Sourced Ale Project

Half Full Brewery is all about their local community, and their community sourced ale project is a prime example. Their goal is to bring unique brews to craft beer lovers while collaborating with local craftsmen in the area. One of their most recent community brews utilizes flavors from Stamford’s own Rise Coffee Co. With the help of their ingredients, Half Full Brewery crafted a bold and robust Cold Brew Coffee Porter that is a beer enthusiasts dream.

#4 Their Podcast

If you are a craft beer fanatic, it is always interesting to hear about local breweries and how they got their start. Half Full Brewery has taken it upon themselves to create their own podcast which covers their story, inspiration and the changes they have made along the way. It is a great behind the scenes intro into Half Full Brewery and is a must watch for those who are thinking about adding this beer to their taprooms.

#5 Their Tasting Room

If you are already a fan of the craft beers that Hall Full Brewery has to offer, we highly recommend heading over to their local spot in Stamford for a look at their Tasting Room. There you can take tours, enjoy a tasting of their limited release beers and even fill up a growler to go.

As a Rhode Island beer distributor, we love the opportunity to get to know local breweries and the incredible flavor profiles they have to offer. We welcome you to ask us any questions you have about their product and we look forward to getting Half Full Brewery on your taps!