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The Beer Goddess

26 May 2017
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During Coachella, I tasted a lot of delicious craft beer, both in the Craft Beer Barn and at the Rare Beer Bar, the latter headed by Jimmy Han, owner of Los Angeles’ Beer Belly. One of my favorite discoveries: Wicked Weed Marina, a blonde sour ale that is aged in wine barrels—with more than one pound per gallon of peaches and apricots. Just days later came the announcement that Anheuser-Busch InBev had bought the Asheville, N.C.-based Wicked Weed. It became the latest of 20-plus former craft breweries that are now owned by corporate brewers. I say “former,” because the Brewers Association defines a craft brewer as small, independent and traditional—with less than 25 percent ownership by a non-craft brewer. What does this all mean? I spoke to Julia Herz, the Brewers Association’s Craft Beer Program director, and Mitch Steele, the former brewmaster of Stone Brewing who is now the founder,…
20 Apr 2017
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The diverse and impressive musical lineup makes the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival one of the most popular events in the world—but it’s the food and drink lineup that rounds out the experience for many festival-goers. Nic Adler, who also puts on Eat Drink Vegan in Pasadena, has been curating the food at Coachella for four years. I recently had the chance to interview him. How has the food and drink morphed at Coachella since your first year working on it? In many, many ways. … There are a lot of things that happen back-of-house to make restaurants and vendors successful front-of-house. For many years, the vendors that we used—and still use—at Coachella have been used to vending at high-volume events. However, a lot of the restaurants that I brought in were not used to being in front of 100,000 people. They might do a food festival with 4,000…
31 Mar 2017
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Whether you’re new to craft beer or are already familiar with some of the best and brightest brewers across our 50 states, this non-comprehensive and unofficial list of 25 great craft beers is a good start. Keep in mind there are now more than 5,000 breweries nationwide, so this is just a taste of all the amazing beers available. In no particular order: 1. AleSmith Old Numbskull: American Barleywine (11 percent ABV) This barleywine has won three Great American Beer Festival awards and two World Beer Cup medals. It’s extremely well-balanced and full-bodied, and can be paired with anything from roasted meats and stews to a variety of pungent cheeses. 2. Allagash White: Witbier (5 percent ABV) Spiced with a special blend of coriander and Curaçao orange peel, this Belgian-style wheat beer has won numerous awards, including gold at the Great American Beer Festival in 2015, and gold at the…
15 Feb 2017
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There was a time not too long ago when I cringed at the sight of a raspberry wheat or berry blonde beer. I thought these beers were too dainty, too affected—and frankly, not worth my money. However, I’ve changed my tune in recent years—and I am not alone. Let’s look at just one beer category, flavored IPAs, for evidence. In 2015, sales of “tropical-flavored” IPA increased by 250 percent, according information presented to the Craft Brewers Conference in Philadelphia in May 2016. According to market-research firm Mintel, in 2010, 15 percent of new beers introduced were flavored. In 2015, 27 percent of beers to come onto the market were flavored. But fruit has not been relegated to just IPAs. Brewers are also infusing pale ales, saisons and even stouts with fruit from the farm—grapefruits, oranges, lemons, limes and so on. Take San Diego brewer Ballast Point’s Pineapple Sculpin, for example.…
27 Jan 2017
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“There is good living, where there is good beer.” Since I started writing about beer, this has been my mantra—and, of course, good food is part of good living, too. There’s more synergy between the beer and food worlds than ever before. Brewers have produced a range of delicious beers to suit nearly every kind of food. The Brewers Association reports that the number of breweries in the U.S. just passed 5,000—a record high. That means there’s a ton of beer-and-food-pairing potential! Therefore, it’s no surprise that restaurateurs are increasingly recognizing the versatility of craft beers—and their various complex favors—when it comes to food pairing. “Dr.” Bill Sysak is respected around the world for his encyclopedic knowledge of beer styles and flavor profiles. Dr. Bill, as he’s known in the craft-beer community, is the co-founder and CEO at Wild Barrel Brewing Company and the former craft beer ambassador at Stone…
27 Dec 2016
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I would like to shove the year 2016 into the anals of time—I mean right up into the bowels of the space-time continuum. Not only did we lose Gene Wilder, Leonard Cohen, Prince, Alan Rickman, David Bowie, George Michael and Carrie Fisher (I’m weeping again); record temperatures are taking hold as climate change accelerates. And then there’s the fact that a minority of Americans elected a climate-denying, misogynist, racist, egotistical guy who’s clearly not qualified for the job. On the upside … 2016 did give us some amazing new beers. Behold—some of the year’s best winter beers. Bell’s Winter White Ale: This is a lovely wheat alternative to your normally heavy and dark winter beers. It’s low in alcohol at 5 percent and has some of those delicious clove and fruity aromas that are reminiscent of the holidays. Try it with eggs Benedict, omelets or cranberry-apple cobbler. It is available…

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