With Kanye West’s 'Yeezus' dropping, we’ve got the answer to your perennial question, 'What beer to drink this week?'
Curious about that sucking sensation? It’s the vacuum created in pop culture the moment before it’s completely consumed by the hip-hop sensation and new father Kanye West.
"Yeezus," West’s sixth studio album, arrived this week and good or bad, it will be as omnipresent as the NSA throughout your summer. But before presidential denouncements, media scrutiny, and Kanye’s unique talent for contemptibility taint the album, try listening to it with a perfect beer pairing.
A personality and sound this huge deserves a beer that is substantial, dark, but can also be surprisingly delicate. Try pairing "Yeezus" with an Abbey-style Dubbel. This Belgian-style beer was made popular in monasteries throughout Belgium, but is now produced by secular breweries as well. The style earns bonus Kanye points for having a complicated relationship with religion. Dubbel is a dark burgundy, has a strong but pleasing yeasty aroma, and a caramel maltiness upfront, with a lush dark fruit finish. Like a Kanye record, the Dubbel is an exercise in balancing excess. Plus, many breweries offer their Dubbels in a traditional corked and caged champagne bottle, allowing you to turn your listening party into a celebration. Sample Westmalle Dubbel for a traditional take on the beverage from a monastery brewery, or Brewery Ommegang’s Abbey Ale for an affectionate take on a classic with a dose of all-American ingenuity.
And there you have it: Your answer to the question of what beer to drink this week.
— Christopher Toia, Lifestyle Mirror
More From Lifestyle Mirror:
• Pop a Bottle: What Beer to Drink This Week with 'Man of Steel'
• Best Places for Pizza
• Low Calorie Recipes for Skinny Cocktails
Why Would Anyone Put Craft Beer in a Plastic Bottle?
Over the past decade, the craft beer industry has undergone a sea change in its packaging choices. Bottles, once seen as the only way for good beer to be sold at retail, have given way to cans as the hip new container du jour for many of the world’s best brewers. Now, another new packaging is angling for a chance to take the craft world by storm. No, not boxed beer. (The box trend has apparently moved on to tequila.) Instead, we’re talking about a brand new type of craft beer-friendly plastic bottle.
As anyone who has attended enough major sporting events or concerts can tell you, though uncommon, plastic beer bottles aren’t new. The big brewers like Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors offer plastic bottles as an alternative at places where glass bottles could prove dangerous. But in America, at least, craft beer in plastic bottles is almost unheard of. However, about two years ago, the Michigan-based company Plastipak debuted a PET bottle intended to mimic a glass bottle in almost every way down to its crowned cap which requires a bottle opener to pop off. Though the packaging has already been used by some breweries overseas, last week, Charlotte, North Carolina’s Olde Mecklenburg Brewery announced that it would be the first American craft brewery to use this unique plastic packaging.
In many ways, these Plastipak bottles offer similar benefits to cans. They don’t break, meaning they’re great for barefoot meccas like beaches and boats as well as large-scale events like stadiums and concerts. They’re also up to 85 percent lighter than glass, which is an added plus for transit. However, Olde Mecklenburg offers a different reason as to why the brewery held off on cans but jumped on the chance to use these PET bottles.
“One of the main reasons OMB avoided canning is the inclusion of a controversial compound called Bisphenol A (BPA) in can liners,” the brewery wrote in a press release. 𠇊ll beer cans are lined with a BPA epoxy coating to prevent the beer from reacting with the aluminum. Studies have shown that this liner releases trace amounts of BPA into the beer…. While most food and beverage safety regulators have concluded that epoxy linings in cans are safe, many consumers have chosen to limit or avoid products that use them for a variety of reasons. OMB decided from the outset that it would follow suit, and the result of that mission is PET, which is 100% BPA-free.”
Suggesting that BPA is the reason Olde Mecklenburg chose to go with these PET bottle certainly opens up a can of worms (can pun intended). The safety of the compound has been an ongoing source of debate. And BPA is certainly a topic craft brewers face: For example, Sierra Nevada includes a question about it in its FAQ, stating, “We are one of the first companies in line to use a BPA-free liner as soon as it’s available. In our opinion, the benefits of cans—portability, lower carbon footprint, recyclability, and absolute protection from light and oxygen—outweigh the risk.” Meanwhile, though the FDA considers BPA safe, alcohol is a known carcinogen, and that’s apparently a risk all of us beer drinkers are willing to take.
But the BPA debate aside, as OMB’s Director of Brewing Operations Dave Martin said in a statement, these new Plastipak bottles check all the other boxes they were looking for as well. “We have put these PET bottles through extensive testing to ensure they uphold the same quality standards as our glass bottles,” he explained. 𠇏or venues that cannot use glass, PET is the best choice when all the criteria are taken into consideration.”
The brewery says they were able to customize its bottling line to handle both the new PET bottles and its standard glass bottles (which will still be its primary packing choice) and took about a year planning the new rollout. It’ll be interesting to see if other craft brewers choose to jump on board this potential PET bottle trend. And for what reasons.
All The Cakes You Can Make With Just A Box Of Cake Mix And A Bottle Of Soda
It would appear that no cake recipe is as easy to follow as the one printed on the back of a cake mix box.
Eggs, butter (or oil), water. Heat, beat, bake. Easy as pie.
But there is something easier, dear cake-lovers. Swap all but the cake mix for a bottle of soda. As Youtuber Mind Over Munch instructs in her video, stir 12 ounces of a carbonated beverage into your prepackaged cake flour, plop the mixture into a pan and bake it in the oven as directed on the box. There you have it: Cake.
We're all for baking complicated cakes -- the kind that take precise measuring, delicate flavor pairings and fine-tuned focus. But this soda-plus-cake recipe can be justified: It does wonders for the time-pressed, cake-driven baker. And for a bit of bonus, the soda will cut the fat from the cake and, if you choose a low-calorie or diet beverage, the calories, too.
This particular recipe, which combines a Betty Crocker Super Moist White cake mix and 12 ounces of peach mango-flavored, no-calorie soda, contains 160 calories and 3 grams of fat per slice. The original recipe on the box contains 228 calories and 10 grams of fat. Not a bad reduction.
And the fruity vanilla flavored cake is only the start to the exciting taste combinations. The possibilities are endless, so we've racked our brain for some more artesianal soda-cake pairings to try. Here's what we came up with:
French Vanilla Cake Mix + Orange Soda = Creamsicle Cake
French Vanilla Cake Mix + Grape Soda = Purple Cow Cake
Strawberry Cake Mix + Vanilla Cream Soda = Strawberry Shortcake
Spice Cake Mix + Ginger Ale = Ginger Spice Cake
Dark Chocolate Cake Mix + Root Beer = Chocolate Root Beer Float
Cherry Chip Cake Mix + Dr. Pepper Cherry = Very Cherry Cherry Chip Cake
Devil's Food Cake Mix + Diet Coke = Sinless Devil's Food Cake
Lemon Cake Mix + Sprite = Zesty Lemon Cake
Do note: If you're the type who refuses to eat cake without frosting, please, by all means, add frosting.
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Best for Brunch: Scarpetta Prosecco
Brunch and bubbles go hand in hand. This delicious prosecco from Scarpetta pairs perfectly with a variety of brunch favorites, including eggs Benedict, French toast or simple yogurt parfaits. Notes of tart green apples, honeydew, citrus, and white flower blossoms make this wine pleasant to drink at any hour of the day (we don’t blame you if this bottle carries you straight into aperitivo hour).
“Prosecco used to be a dry aperitivo sparkling wine 25 years ago, then the RS [residual sugar] started creeping up,” says Bobby Stuckey, master sommelier and co-founder of Frasca Food and Wine and Scarpetta Wines. “Scarpetta has less than 4 grams of RS, compared to many top brands being around 13 grams. We look to make a dry, light and aromatic prosecco.”
How to Brew
It has been said that 75% of brewing is good sanitation. First, clean all equipment with warm, lightly soapy water. Rinse well to remove soap residue. Then sanitize using household bleach at a quantity of 1 tablespoon/gallon of water. Or you can purchase a no-rinse acid sanitizer such as StarSan, which is effective and leaves no aftertaste.
- Pour 10 liters of fresh, cold water into the 10 gallon plastic pail (carboy). If the pail is new, wash it out first with a mixture of water and baking soda to remove the plastic smell.
- In your largest pot, bring seven liters of water to a boil.
- Add one can of malt extract. Stir and cook uncovered for 20 minutes.
- Add the sugar and stir to dissolve.
- As soon as the sugar is dissolved, pour contents into the carboy. Pour, or ‘splash’, the contents quickly, which adds air to the mixture. The more air the yeast gets initially, the better. It allows them to rapidly grow and get things going.
- Top up with bottled drinking water or tap water until temperature is neutral. (If using tap water, it is recommended to boil first to kill bacteria.) Test using a clean, sanitized thermometer. The carboy will now be a little more than half full.
- Sprinkle in the yeast and stir well. Cover with lid. (Set lid on loosely if capped too tightly, a carboy can explode from the carbon dioxide gas that is produced.)
Keep covered and avoid unnecessary opening. The beer will be ready to bottle in 6- 10 days, depending on ambient temperature of the room and amount of sugar used in the brewing. Room temperature should be 68-75 Fahrenheit (20-24 Celsius) at the highest 61-68 Fahrenheit (16-20 Celsius) is better but it will take the beer a day or two longer to ferment.
Test for readiness with a hydrometer. Set hydrometer into the beer and spin it once to release bubbles, which can cling to it and give a false reading. The “ready to bottle” reading should be about 1.008 for dark beers and 1.010-1.015 for light beers. If you don’t have a hydrometer, you can judge readiness by tasting a sample: it should not be sweet tasting. There should be little or no bubbling action in the beer.
Set the carboy on a sturdy table and the 12 two-liter bottles on the floor, with newspaper underneath to catch drips or overflows. Using a funnel, put two level teaspoons of sugar in each bottle.
Siphon the beer into the bottles, trying not to disturb the sediment on the bottom of the carboy. (One method is to tape a plastic straw alongside the bottom end of the siphon hose with 1″ projecting beyond the end. The tip of the straw can touch the bottom of the carboy without the siphon drawing up sediment.) Tip the carboy as you near the bottom.
It is important to not splash or agitate the beer too much when bottling as any oxygen introduced can lead to oxidation and a “cardboard” taste.
As you fill the bottles, keep the end of the siphon tube near the bottom of the bottle to avoid frothing. It is essential that the bottles are not completely filled: leave an airspace. Screw the caps on tightly. Invert each bottle and shake to dissolve sugar on the bottom. Set bottles in a warm area for the first few days, then store in a dark, cool spot. You can drink the beer within a few days of bottling, but it will improve with age.
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Tuesday, March 9
Tuesday is traditionally for tacos, but make an exception on Tuesday, March 9, when Pizzeria Locale is donating 33 percent of the proceeds from its four Denver locations to Conscious Alliance (separate entity Pizzeria Locale Boulder is not participating). The nonprofit organization donates food to underserved populations via concert food drives and art and merch sales. If you get your pie to go, you'll also get a colorful, limited-edition pizza box that includes a QR code for making a direct donation (welcome to 2021, the second year that takeout packaging continued to be a major concern in our lives).
Thursday, March 11
Chef Taj Cooke, who's recently been popping up with his Jamaican cuisine at places like Bruto and Pony Up, is launching a new monthly dinner series at downtown spot French 75, 717 17th Street. He'll be taking over the kitchen &mdash sort of French 75's owner Frank Bonanno will be turning out food alongside Cooke &mdash on Thursday, March 11, with 5:30 and 8 p.m. seatings. Menu details are still forthcoming, but with just thirty seats available for each time slot, you don't want to sleep on reserving your table do it now on Tock. There will be six courses and drink pairings from Mythology Distillery (which is suddenly everywhere, all at once &mdash see below). March already scheduled to the max? You can also book your seat for future feasts on Thursday, April 8 (with Natascha Hess of the Ginger Pig and Carrie Baird, formerly of Bar Dough), and Thursday, May 13, (with Jesusio Silva of Misaki Sushi and the upcoming Golden Mill). Find out more on the Supper Club website.
On Thursday, March 11, Mythology Distillery is joining forces with the Crescendo Society, a group of dysfunctional siblings endowed with superpowers and raised by an emotionally distant, demanding father as a vigilante. oh, wait, wrong press release. In any case, the Crescendo Society (which we prefer to think of as a super-secret, under-35, militant cheerleading troupe rather than the "young professionals society" of the Colorado Symphony) will be joining symphony musicians as well as Mythology for a virtual cocktail class with live musical performance at 7 p.m. Purchase your cocktail kit for $35 ($25 for a second kit) and you'll get four ounces of three different spirits, plus the rest of the drink ingredients, the cocktail demo and a chat with musicians after their performance. The deadline to order is Friday, March 5 cocktail kit pick-up is at the distillery's tasting room, 3622 Tejon Street, during regular business hours (4 to 8 p.m.) from Monday, March 8, through Thursday, March 11. Get details and tickets on the Colorado Symphony website.
The annual Great Chefs of the West is usually a gala fundraiser for the National Kidney Foundation, but this year it looks different. For one thing, it's happening on two nights: You can still get in on the second on Thursday, March 11. For another, it will also benefit participating restaurants: the Bindery, Woodie Fisher, Guard and Grace, Jovanina's Broken Italian, Hop Alley and Four by Brother Luck (in Colorado Springs). Purchase tickets ($125 per person or $225 per couple) on the event's website, and choose from prix fixe menus from the above eateries (all offer on-site dining as well as takeout options), cocktails and wine. You'll also get a cookbook with the restaurants' recipes and access to a silent &mdash really silent &mdash auction and awards ceremony.
Friday, March 12
The Denver Box is back with another installment, this time from Highland neighborhood joint FNG. For the month of March, order one of three meals from the Denver Box website, and you'll get enough food (and drinks!) for four people from the comfort food kitchen for just $100. Choose from meatloaf with chipotle ketchup, mashed potatoes and gravy, onion rings and broccolini chicken parmesan and pasta, grilled zucchini, focaccia and green salad or enchiladas &mdash chicken or vegetarian sweet potato &mdash with rice and beans, slaw, avocado and crema. All meal kits come with salted chocolate chip cookies and your choice of sangria, margaritas, whiskey sours or non-alcoholic blackberry-lime agua fresca. Pick-up is at FNG, 3940 West 32nd Avenue, every Friday and Saturday from March 12, through March 27. Half the proceeds from your order go to participating restaurants the other half is donated to a local nonprofit organization (this month, it's Foster Source, which provides training as well as financial and other resources to foster parents). Orders must be placed no later than 8 p.m. the Wednesday before your desired pick-up day see the website for more details.
Mark your calendar for a visit to the Art District on Santa Fe from March 12 to 14 and again on March 16. Salud! is a restaurant and bar pop-up designed to give you a destination other than your couch. The Skylight event space, at 833 Santa Fe Drive, is hosting Salud! with food from Latin-Asian kitchen Chuey Fu's and caterer Love Pop. The $12 admission includes entry, a drink from the bar (both tipplers and teetotalers will be able to get something satisfying) and ninety minutes inside somewhere that's not your house food is extra. Hours vary (4:30 to 9 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Tuesday 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday), and you're requested to purchase your tickets as a group on Eventbrite. Ten percent of ticket sales will be donated to Colorado Event Alliance, which provides financial assistance to event-industry workers in need.
Say "Salud!" over South American wine on Friday, March 12, at Brightmarten, 730 South University Boulevard. The eatery is hosting a five-course dinner with wine pairings from Argentina and Chile. Dig in to scallop crudo with Sauvignon Blanc, Chilean sea bass marinated in sherry and paired with Chardonnay, and succulent duck arepas with masa cake, avocado and beans and Cabernet and Syrah. Email [email protected] to reserve your meal, $100, either in the restaurant dining room at 6:30 p.m. or to go (pick-up between 5:30 and 6 p.m.). There are just fourteen tables available for in-person dining, so act quickly.
Keep reading for future food and drink happenings.
Saturday, March 13
Who's never going to judge you for getting trashed on green beer and acting a fool on St. Patrick's Day? Your dog, that's who. Union Station, 1701 Wynkoop Street, knows this, so on Saturday, March 13, it's hosting its Pop-Up Puppy Pub from noon to 8 p.m. Camp out on the patio with man's best friend and enjoy food and drink specials from several Union Station restaurants and bars, like a peach and green tea smash (Terminal Bar) Portuguese green eggs (Ultreia) Coat of Arms cocktail with Jameson, Guinness and coffee (Mercantile & Provision) Not Your Dog's Puppuccino with Bailey's, espresso liqueur and ice cream (Pigtrain Coffee, which will also give your furry friend a free, dog-safe puppuccino with your purchase) and corned salmon on rye (Stoic & Genuine). Even better, a buck from the purchase of these items will be donated to the Denver Animal Shelter. See Union Station's Instagram page for more details.
Tuesday, March 16
Tuesday, March 16, marks twelve months since the first time Denver restaurants were shut down to indoor dining because of COVID-19. On that date, celebrate at least one eatery that's managed to survive the past year: American Elm, 4132 West 38th Avenue, is hosting a Duck COVID dinner. The $85-per-plate meal includes four courses of duck preparations, including deviled duck eggs, seared foie gras with maple gastrique and cherries, duck confit with blood orange jus, and duck egg custard. See the full menu and reserve a spot on Resy.
Wednesday, March 17
Who says you have to eat corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick's Day? Definitely not us (and you'll never, ever catch us recommending watery green lager). On Wednesday, March 17, opt for more southerly food and far more sophisticated drinks at Rioja's monthly wine dinner, 1431 Larimer Street. The dinner includes five courses paired with Portuguese wines we're looking forward to bacalao (salt cod) with sunchokes and olives and prime tri-tip with XO sauce, black garlic and shiitake mushrooms, but you'll also see tortelli stuffed with linguica (a garlicky Portuguese sausage) and a strawberry-rhubarb Napoleon with whipped goat cheese. Visit Tock to book a table for the 6:30 p.m. dinner for $99. Interested in to-go? For $70, get the meal prepared for pick-up between 4 and 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 17, through Friday, March 19. You can purchase bottles of all five of the accompanying wines for $204 (that includes a 10 percent discount) or individual bottles starting at $30.
If you do want to eat the most American of Irish dishes on Wednesday, March 17, at least make it a good version, as the corned beef and cabbage at Coohills, 1400 Wewatta Street, is sure to be. The four-course meal starts off with the aforementioned meat and veg, but we can give it a pass since the next three courses &mdash sole with green garlic, lamb shepherd's pie and bread pudding &mdash are appropriately Irish. The meal starts at 6:30 p.m. and will run $65, or $90 with drink pairings. Find out more on the restaurant's Facebook page.
Sunday, March 21
It's been a long time since any of the famously fancy James Beard dinners were held in a Denver restaurant (and it will probably be a while before any are held again). But on Sunday, March 21, you can join the James Beard Foundation's virtual Taste America event along with nine other major food cities around the country. Denver residents will pick up a three-course meal from Spuntino, 2639 West 32nd Avenue, that consists of chef/co-owner Cindhura Reddy's always-fantastic focaccia with ricotta rabbit confit with saffron cavatelli (a vegetarian option with turmeric-roasted cauliflower is also available) elk tartare and vanilla and mango custards topped with cardamom-pistachio crumble. Cocktails, wine and Spuntino's housemade amaro will accompany the meal. You'll also get access to online cooking demos and the JBF's national broadcast at 6 p.m. Order your ticket ($95 per person or $175 per pair) on the JBF website.
Wednesday, March 24
On Wednesday, March 24, EatDenver is resuming ED Talks, its version of TED Talks, after it was canceled in 2020 because of (gestures broadly)&hellipall this. And for the first time ever, the lectures are open not only to restaurant and bar owners and employees, but to the public as well. Log in to Zoom from 9 to 11 a.m. to see six short presentations (just ten minutes each!) from industry insiders and experts. Three speakers have already been announced, with Marcus Samuelsson &mdash familiar from stints on Top Chef Masters as well as his cookbooks and his own show, No Passport Required &mdash headlining. Other topics of conversation include mental health in the restaurant business and how avocado toast is related to anxiety (the $16 price tag might have something to do with it). Find details (including the full lineup) and register for the free webcast on the EatDenver website.
Denver's Staenberg-Loup Jewish Community Center generally hosts its expansive JAAMM (Jewish Arts, Authors, Movies and Music) Festival over several months in the fall, with live cultural events across the city. In 2020, of course, that was upended. The silver lining: The fest is going on for a full twelve months (starting last year and well into 2021), and all programming is virtual. On Wednesday, March 24, Michael Twitty, James Beard Award-winning author of The Cooking Gene, food historian and deeply engaging Instagram presence, will discuss the holiday of Passover. Tickets for the 7 p.m. lecture, $18, are on sale now at the festival's website, where you can also see previous events on demand.
Know of an event that belongs on this calendar? Send information to [email protected]
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Pop a Bottle: What Beer to Drink This Week, 'Yeezus' Edition - Recipes
This Imperial Russian Stout from Brooklyn brewmaster Garratt Oliver is brewed with six different malts and three mashes. The result is a rich, velvety beer that tastes so much like dark, rich chocolate that you’ll think you’re drinking boozy chocolate syrup.
On the nose, this beer has major chocolate and roasted malt aromas. The first sip is like diving into a pool filled with dark chocolate and caramel. It ends with a long, warming sensation (thank the ABVs for that) and a final hint of hot cocoa.
Drink the first pint to warm you up in winter. Use the second to pour over a bowl of vanilla ice cream for an indulgent treat.
Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout
You may have tried the iconic Founders KBS (or Kentucky Breakfast Stout), but have you tested its counterpart, Canadian Breakfast Stout?
For this sweet gem, Founders pours their already bourbon barrel-aged stout into a second round of barrels, which were once filled with maple syrup. Sounds like overkill, right? It veers dangerously close, but we’re happy to report that CBS skirts the line.
Take a whiff and you’ll be greeted with aromas of espresso, chocolate, roasted malts, and subtle maple candy. On the sip, you’ll find flavors of roasted coffee, dark chocolate, rich maple syrup, and brown sugar. In the end, you’ll notice lingering notes of milk chocolate and bourbon.
While Founders KBS is now available year-round, it’s still not easy to get your hands on a bottle (or a few bottles) of CBS. If you do, pair it with a nice stack of pancakes or waffles. Everyone likes breakfast for dinner, right?
Southern Tier Nitro Crème Brûlée Stout
Average Price: $13.99 for a 4-pack
An offering from the brand’s “Blackwater Series,” Nitro Crème Brûlée is… pretty much exactly like it sounds like. It’s a dessert beer that was brewed to taste as much like the classic dessert as possible by adding vanilla beans as well as other natural flavors. The result is a creamy, decadent wonder.
On the nose, you’ll find distinct hints of vanilla beans, caramel, and butterscotch. Take a sip and you’ll be rewarded with flavors of vanilla custard, brown sugar, and rich roasted malts. It all ends with a final mouthful of caramelized sugar and chocolate.
This is the kind of beer you want to pair with a similar dessert. Really take that indulgence-meter up to 11.
Evil Twin Imperial Biscotti Break
Evil Twin is known for its innovative and boundary-pushing beers. One of the best examples of the brand’s inventiveness is also its best dessert beer. Imperial Biscotti Break is an imperial stout that was brewed with coffee, almonds, and vanilla.
As you might imagine, this beer is supposed to taste like a classic Italian biscotti. Good news: It absolutely succeeds.
The first fragrance you’ll notice when you fill your pint glass is the unmistakable scent of vanilla beans. This is followed by rich, roasted coffee and a nice hint of almond cookies. The first sip is filled with roasted malts, sweet almonds, and creamy vanilla.
It all ends with a final flourish of sweet coffee and sugar cookies.
We don’t need to tell you that the best dessert to pair with this delicious beer is a decadent almond biscotti made in the traditional Italian style (more “firm” than “crispy” in texture). It’s right there in the name.
Firestone Walker Chocolate Cherry Stout
This limited-edition stout was released earlier this winter. It’s not a barrel-aged beer and it isn’t high in alcohol. But what it lacks in those departments, it makes up for in bold flavor. This stout was brewed with cherries and cocoa nibs to give it a nice mix of sweet and bitter chocolate — for those who like their desserts a little subtler.
You’ll find aromas of roasted malts, dark chocolate, and a nice background of sweet cherries on the nose and those same flavors show up on the palate. The chocolate is prevalent and the cherry flavor, while definitely noticeable, is subtle and not overly cloying. The finish is surprisingly light and ends with a rush of chocolate-covered cherries.
While many of the beers on this list are rich and high in alcohol, this dessert beer is a little lighter in both senses. Enjoy a few after a heavy meal, (almost) guilt-free.
Guinness Imperial Gingerbread Spiced Stout
Average Price: $20 for a six-pack
This bourbon-barrel aged, imperial stout was released this past holiday season. It was brewed with allspice, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg before being aged in former bourbon barrels from Kentucky for four months.
The aromas lean into cinnamon, gingerbread, sugar cookies, and bourbon sweetness. The first sip delivers hints of vanilla, baking spices, and fruit cake. The finish is sweet, velvety, and ends with a final note of warming spice.
Sure, the holidays are long gone. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a flavorful, sweet, gingerbread-centric treat, right?
Lindemans Frambois Lambic
This one is a pretty sharp departure. You’re not going to drink this beer to get a buzz. You drink it because it’s slightly acidic, bright with fruity and berry flavors, and offers a wonderful palate cleanser after a big meal.
On the nose, you’ll find strong notes of fresh raspberries and crisp red wine. The first sip is tart, slightly acidic, and fills your mouth with more sweet berries. From there… oh, who are we kidding — it’s all berries through and through.
The dessert beer for those who prefer a cheese plate with some cherry preserves and aged gouda.
Funky Buddha French Toast Double Brown Ale
Average Price: $11.99 for a 4-pack
This brown ale is infused with cinnamon and vanilla and tastes almost exactly like the classic breakfast staple in beer form. Not much more to say about it that’s not right in the brew’s name.
No huge surprise here — the nose of this beer is like sniffing a plate of French toast. The aromas are maple, vanilla, and subtle cinnamon. Take a sip and those flavors are layered with rich malts — though sweet vanilla and buttery maple syrup still predominate.
If you really want to get the most out of this beer, you’ll pair it with a fresh, hot stack of French toast with butter, cinnamon, and real Vermont maple syrup. Sometimes overkill is fun.
Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar
Compared to other dessert beers on this list, Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar is pretty simple. It’s a European-style brown ale with hazelnut flavor. It’s sweet, nutty, and incredibly mellow.
On the nose, you’ll find the distinct smell of hazelnuts reminiscent of amaretto alongside sweet vanilla. The first sip is filled with a nice mix of rich, dark malts, creamy caramel, and vanilla beans. It all ends with a smooth finish full of nutty sweetness.
This low-ABV brew remains decadent, sweet, and well-suited for after dinner drinking. Pair it will a buttery, soft blondie and you’re in for a great evening without too much guilt.
Wicked Weed German Chocolate Cake
Average Price: $14 for a 4-pack
Wicked Weed’s German Chocolate Cake is one of the beers in the brewery’s Guilty Pleasures Imperial Stout Variety 4-pack (along with Milk & Cookies, S’More’s, and Brownie). This indulgent imperial stout was brewed with real chocolate and coconut — resulting in a dark, malty brew that manages to capture the essence of German chocolate cake in a glass.
You’re sure to find aromas of semi-sweet chocolate, roasted malts, and subtle coconut. The first sip is full of vanilla beans, sweet coconut, rich molasses, and dark chocolate. It all ends in a final hint of coffee and rich, milk chocolate.
Grab a Guilty Pleasures variety pack and enjoy all four dessert-like flavors — not at once though… they’re pretty sweet.
City identifies X factor to overcome vaccine hesitancy: free beer
A micro-brewery in Buffalo, New York, has been offering free beer to encourage vaccine-hesitant customers to visit pop-up vaccination clinics next to its taprooms – and the program has been a roaring success.
The scheme, a hook-up between Erie county health department and two local breweries, comes as many regions across the US are seeing sharp declines in vaccine demand.
Under the plan, brewery patrons are offered a Moderna vaccine shot with a free pint glass and coupon for the vaccinated person’s drink of choice. A second drink comes with the second shot four weeks later.
“Here’s a good incentive,” the Erie county executive Mark Poloncarz told the Buffalo News last week. “If this doesn’t work, I don’t know what will.”
Poloncarz showed a picture of Homer Simpson with a beer bottle. “Help get on the vaccine train, and if it takes a beer to do it, that’s OK,” he said. “This is Buffalo. We love our beer.”
Hours after Erie county’s Shot and a Chaser program got under way at Resurgence Brewing Company on Saturday, about 100 people had been vaccinated.
“We’re going to do more people today at our first-dose clinics than most of our first-dose clinics in the last week combined,” Poloncarz said. “It’s been a success. We figured it would be pretty good, but now we’re seeing the results.”
The program arrives as health officials are actively considering a variety of incentives to raise vaccination rates in an effort to achieve herd immunity against Covid-19, a level of mass-immunization that national health tsars warn does not currently appear achievable.
Last week, Dr Anthony Fauci, the chief White House medical adviser, said he had abandoned “this mystical level of herd immunity”, a notion of collective disease resistance that could come when about 70% of the population has been inoculated.
Declining demand for Covid-19 vaccines has caused states across the country to refuse their full allocations of doses from the federal government, despite concerted efforts to raise national take-up rates.
Reduced demand, which is contributing to a growing stockpile of doses, comes as nearly 46% of the US population has received at least one dose of a two-shot vaccine and about 34% are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
Poloncarz said he did not expect the beer program to solve the herd immunity issue.
“But if it gets another 200 people vaccinated today who otherwise would not have, that’s 200 more people that are going to be protected from Covid-19,” he said, “and 200 less people we need to get to eventually reach herd immunity. And that’s the important thing.”
The craft beer industry took notice, and created the 'beer slushie'
Asahi and Kirin's icy creations rekindled Japan's fading love for beer, and worldwide, the craft beer industry took notice. Having just made a series of ice cream-inspired beers in 2015, Sweden's Omnipollo decided to slush-ify their brews. Because of Omnipollo's industry-darling status, and their Willy Wonka-esque flavor updates, their slushies captured the attention of beer fans everywhere.
In Columbus, Indiana, 450 North Brewing also became a sought-after brewery with its line of slushie-inspired brews that led to actual slushies at the brewery's taproom.
Meanwhile, by 2018, Trillium Brewing Company outside of Boston, Massachusetts had a hit on its hands with "Foamy Freezes," slushies made with their sour beers.
This summer, the need to entice beer and non-beer drinkers alike at a time when brewery sales are down by 65% on average, the desire to make a splash on Instagram, and blisteringly hot weather have created a perfect storm for the beer slushie to take center stage.
In Hackensack, New Jersey, Hackensack Brewing added slushies to their repertoire to help beat the heat of their taproom, moved outside because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Mikerphone Brewing in Elk Grove Village, Illinois is even on its second summer of slushies.
Founder Mike Pallen was inspired by Omnipollo and Wiley Roots Brewing in Greeley, Colorado. The payoff was immediate: a week after buying his first slushie machine, the customer response was so strong that he got a second.
Pallen told Insider "MIKEEES," Mikerphone's slushies, have outsold beer pours some weekends.
Some breweries hesitate to introduce slushies because beer purists might see them as a gimmick, and not how beer is supposed to be enjoyed. However, Mikerphone, like other breweries who have started offering slushies, is seeing an overwhelmingly positive response.
"We have seen all types drinking these," Pallen said. "The people who don't typically drink beer, the beer geeks, the older demographic… Who doesn't like a slushie, especially one with a little alcohol in it?"
Day Drinking, Italian Style
Lambrusco, the gently sparkling and often budget-friendly wine, is the drink of choice in Emilia-Romagna. And it tastes great in a briny spritz.
Warm weather is here and so is day drinking, to be done outdoors in the sun. Look to north-central Italy for inspiration. Lambrusco — gently sparkling, low alcohol and often budget friendly — has long been Emilia-Romagna’s go-to for alfresco drinking. This season, make it yours as well.
While the popularity of mass-market Lambrusco in the 1970s and ’80s led to the wine’s reputation for candy-sweetness, a quality bottle can quickly dispose of lingering skepticism. The best Lambruscos are thoughtfully made, pleasantly fruity, lightly bitter and come in a variety of styles from dry to sweet, red to rosé.
There’s reason for their range. “While a lot of people think of Lambrusco as red sparkling wine, they might not know that Lambrusco refers to both the family of grapes and the wine made with them,” said Cassie Davis, the general manager of Voodoo Vin, a natural-wine shop in Los Angeles.
Of the roughly 60 varieties of Lambrusco grapes, all but one originate in the Emilia-Romagna region. Each produces a different style of Lambrusco and can be made into either single varietal or blended bottles.
The lightest of the bunch is the dry, floral, often pale pink Lambrusco di Sorbara. On the opposite end of the spectrum lies Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro, a darker, fruitier, more tannic style that Ms. Davis recommends reaching for when “you want something more expressive as a red wine.”
Then there are those that fall in between. Want something sweeter, with Sorbara’s aromatics and Grasparossa’s structure? Choose Lambrusco Salamino. (The name is a nod to its oblong bunches, which resemble salami.)
While it’s refreshing on its own, effervescent Lambrusco is also ideal in the queen of day drinks: the spritz. Poured into that bubbly-bitter-soda format, Lambrusco makes for an earthy spritz that leans toward the right side of crushable.
Spritz or straight, bear in mind that Lambruscos aren’t meant to be aged, so buy and pop promptly. Once the bottle is open, Ms. Davis stresses that it must be kept cold and covered. Bubbles are more soluble at low temperatures storing the bottle in an ice bucket or the refrigerator helps keep its fizz.
Finally, pour alongside a snack — or a meal. Lambrusco pairs seamlessly with the rich foods of Emilia-Romagna, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano, cured meats and gnocco fritto, meaning that a daytime bottle can easily linger past sunset. “A lot of wines that you might apéro with, you might not want with food,” Ms. Davis said. “The great thing about Lambrusco is that you can drink it all day, and then you can drink it all night.”
With even warmer days and nights ahead, these are words to live — and drink — by.
14 best healthy, non-alcoholic drinks and mixers that actually taste good
2020 was a year of establishing new routines (for better or worse) and high on that list for many of us was regularly overdoing it on alcohol. Between trying to cope with the stress and anxiety of everything the year brought, looking for a way to mark the end of a work-from-home day, and the sheer boredom of being sequestered within the same four walls with the same few people for months on end, there was no shortage of excuses to kick back with a cold one.
I, like many, found excitement in learning how to be an at-home bartender and solace in a reliable routine of a 5 o'clock cocktail with my partner.
As long as you have a healthy relationship with alcohol, doing this is totally fine: "For those who don't have addiction issues, drinking alcohol in moderation can be safe and appropriate," Dr. Abe Malkin, MD, board-certified family medicine and addiction medicine doctor and advisor for alcohol treatment program monument, told Insider.
But the catch here is "in moderation." Drinking every day and/or knocking back upwards of two to three drinks begins to interfere with your body functioning in a healthy manner. So, if it feels like it's time to reign in your drinking habits or cut them out altogether, having a tasty alcohol-free beverage is a great way to make sober nights easier and more exciting.
How mixers and mocktails can help you cut back on booze
Whether you're looking to cut back on how many nights you drink, how many drinks you have a night, or looking to go fully sober, it's helpful to have more in your fridge than just water.
"For many people, we like to have something to hold or do with our hands in a social situation and a drink that helps us relax and enjoy a social situation more," said Marysa Cardwell, RDN, a nutrition therapist, and contributing dietitian to Lose It!.
Since making and consuming alcoholic drinks is an activity in itself, you need something to replace that action and reward. When I first started trying to keep a few nights of my week alcohol-free, I found the biggest roadblock was missing that end-of-day marker or celebratory feeling. On Friday nights, I wanted an activity that declared it was time to relax. Weekly Bachelorette night felt remiss without something to sip while FaceTiming girlfriends.
"There's a perceived social connection and camaraderie that is associated with drinking alcohol-based drinks," said Dr. Malkin. "However, this can be achieved by drinking non-alcoholic drinks as well, as simply the act of sharing a beverage regardless of alcohol content can be a social activity."
And he's right: Once I dove into the world of non-alcoholic celebratory drinks, it shifted how I felt about taking a night or two off from booze. I pivoted my quarantine habit of making fun cocktails to making fun mocktails (which actually became more satisfying to nail because, really, it's a lot harder to make something drinkable without beloved flavors like bourbon).
I even introduced friends who were pregnant or who don't drink for various reasons to my favorites, and now they love having a beer-looking bottle to sip fancy fizzy water out of on Zoom happy hours. It draws less attention to the fact that they don't imbibe.
"Substituting non-alcoholic beverages can be a great way for someone who is sober to participate socially in festivities without slipping up and having an alcoholic drink," Dr. Malkin confirmed.
How I compiled my favorite healthy sober mixers
The following list is comprised of a few separate categories: Non-alcoholic spirits that mimic favorites like gin, whiskey, vodka, and rum (spoiler: almost all are disappointing) pre-bottled zero-alcohol craft cocktails aperitifs and digestifs that can be drunk over ice or used as a mixer in a mocktail (or cocktail) and beverages with adaptogens or botanicals that enhance your headspace in an alternative, natural way via plants and herbs.
It's worth noting that any non-alcoholic spirit may be triggering for recovering alcoholics, and drinks made with adaptogens or nootropics may not be safe if you're pregnant or breastfeeding (and it's smart to consult with a doctor before consuming).
At the end of this guide, I've included insight into how I tested the mixers and mocktails, what to look for in a "healthy" mixer, and input from experts on when drinking becomes unhealthy.
Read on to see the best zero-alcohol spirits, cocktails, and sodas:
Updated on 2/11/2021: Added Jukes 6 and SipClean. Next, we're looking forward to testing Freixenet's new alcohol-free champagne and AMASS Non-Alcoholic Spirit Riverine.