Archive | December, 2012

Because sometimes there’s no beer to wet your whistle

Wynkoop Railyard lip balmLook around and you’ll be able to find lip balm made from a variety of beers (even Coors Light).

Wynkoop Brewing in Denver, for instance, had balms made with the malts and hops in both its Rail Yard Ale and B3K Black Lager, as well lip protecting oils and ingredients. The B3K version is the first black lip balm they’ve heard of (though it doesn’t darken your lips).

The brewpub also sells B3K and Rail Yard Ale soaps — custom made in Denver with the beers, malts and exfoliating crushed grains. There’s also a new seasonal beer soap made with pumpkin beer and pie spices.

Samuel Adams Utopias

Samuel Adams UtopiasThe tenth anniversary batch of Samuel Adams Utopias might be the sort of “bottle” of beer you wouldn’t buy for yourself — not at $190 (when you can find it) — but it makes a pretty good gift. One you might want to give with two glasses, if you’ve figured out where this is going.

A Boston Beer Co. press release only begins to hint at how complex this beer is: “The 2012 Samuel Adams Utopias brew weighs in a bit above 29 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) and was aged in hand-selected, single-use bourbon casks from the award-winning Buffalo Trace Distillery to enhance the beer’s distinct vanilla and maple notes. The 10th Anniversary batch also spent time in a variety of finishing casks: Tawny Port casks and Vintage Ruby Port casks from Portugal, which contribute slightly more elegant, dark fruit aromas, and Rum barrels from Nicaragua, which add flavors of fig, chocolate, raisin, vanilla, and a slight spice.”

The brewers make fewer than 15,000. bottles of this limited-edition beer due to the long aging required. Samuel Adams Utopias is bottled in a specially designed 10th Anniversary black decanter. Shaped like a brew kettle, the exterior is etched with roots.

“This release of Samuel Adams Utopias is proof – 58 proof to be exact – that extreme beers have earned a permanent and respected place in the beer universe, a world now constantly evolving with new craft brewers and excited craft beer drinkers,” company founder Jim Koch said for the press release.

Keg Trees

We know that you don’t need an actual tree to make a Christmas tree, green beer bottles will do quite nicely, thank you very much. Some people have found that you don’t even need green bottles, that even a keg will make a festive tree.

Keg Tree

Whether on the outside of your home …

Keg Tree

Or even inside.

Holiday beer serving tips

Saint Arnold Brewing founder Brock Wagner offers tips for serving beer during the holidays:

Buy fresh. Be sure to buy beers made by American craft brewers. This will ensure that you are getting fresh, flavorful beer produced with pride right here in the USA.

Use pitchers. Present the beer in a way that encourages sharing. A perfect way to do this is to pour bottles into a glass or clear plastic pitcher that can be passed around the table. Just don’t put out too much beer at one time: one to one-and-a-half beers per person should be enough beer on the table at the beginning of the meal.

Options Are Nice. Just as some like dark meat and some like white meat, you’ll find that some of your dinner companions may prefer one style while the others go for something different. Offering two different choices can help to keep everyone happy.

Glassware. While pint glasses are perfect for the pub, brewers have long used stemware for special beers. A thistle glass or “old-fashioned” glass is great if you have it, but wine glasses work well too. Otherwise, small glass tumblers that hold six to eight ounces have a pleasant feel to them and still help to mark the meal as a special occasion.

Courtesy of a Saint Arnold press release.

A tasting kit for the beer curious

Beer Tasting Tool KitAuthor Jeff Alworth describes The Beer Tasting Toolkit as a box set of materials designed to lead novice beer drinkers through a blind tasting that comes with a short booklet. It includes numbered sacks to make it easy to disguise what is being tasted, tasting notepads, and a short-hand guide with key aroma and flavor terms.

In his blog, Alworth explains: “It’s designed to walk people through the basics of style and beer elements and also to offer some blind-tasting suggestions. If you’re wondering whether it’s for you, I’d say this: for readers of this blog, it may well be a better bet for that beer-curious person in your life. The one who has developed a hankering for the occasional porter or kolsch but isn’t sure where to go next.”