Monthly Archives: May 2011

Care for a Glass of Fizzy Mare’s Milk?

When my team of madcap adventurers, Mr. Dinosaur, did the Mongol Rally a few years back, careening from London to Mongolia in a broken-down car powered by dwindling blind faith, I found many foodstuffs that I’ll never again shove into my mouth: camel guts, horse jerky and, at the top of the list, kumis. It’s fizzy, fermented mare’s milk, a cross between lemonade, champagne and rotten terror.  Curious? Check out my full write-up over at Food Republic. Drink it up—if you dare.


Gut Instinct: Bye-Bye, Beer Buddy

My search: “sad drunk.” The result? A six-year-old girl. Internet, you scare me.

“I’m going to read you something,” my fiancée says, pulling her computer close to her peepers.

“For men going through a midlife crisis, one of the top complaints is the lack of close friends.”

“I think I’m about 15 years away from a midlife crisis,” I reply. “It’s not like I have a hankering to buy a cherry-red Porsche and go clubbing to hit on cocktail waitresses— yet.” She rolls her eyes, knowing an emotional dodge when she sees one. “You know what I mean,” she says, clicking on an episode of The Biggest Loser.

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Dollar Pizza. Or, My Worst Idea Ever

Photo: Sam Horine

I am a man filled with many bad ideas, but this may have been the worst: spend the day carousing Manhattan, eating nothing bu slices of pizza that cost a buck. The adventure was for my Metromix Dollar Grub column, a moment of low-cost inspiration I’m still ruing all these years later. Want to see me go from hungry to queasy? Check out the full story at Metromix. Eat it up! Sorry, the company has folded and deleted my story.

Tickets on Sale for My June 11 Homebrew Tour

Truth in advertising.

Anyone feeling thirsty? I have another homebrew tour cranking on Saturday, June 11, from 1pm to 5pm.

We’re starting in Park Slope with Tom Strenk, who will be pouring treats such as the Spicy Sweet Potato Ale and Knit Wit Belgian Saison. From there, we’re walking to Prospect Heights to sample Sam Burlingame’s smoked Irish red, smoked lager, “Nipped” IPA and a light weissbier. Lastly, we’re off to Williamsburg to hang out in Brooklyn KItchen homebrew instructor Dan Pizzillo’s backyard and drink his darn fine kegged brews (TBD).

After this tour, I’m going to be slowing things down for the summer. I may have one more tour in August, but this will likely be it till the fall. As usual, you can sign up through Brown Paper Tickets.

Beer and a Shot, Via the Netherlands

You know you want a little headbutt. Photo: Lucas Bols

The other night, after drinking far too much beer during my latest homebrew tour, I decided that I needed a little headbutt. I poured myself a bolt of beer. Then I poured myself a shot of Genever Bols. Not using my unsteady hands, I leaned over the table and slurrrrrrrped up the spirit. Satisfied, I slumped in my seat and proceeded to sip both inebriants till the night slipped away. That’s called a kopstootje, the Netherland’s signature one-two combo of genever chased by a beer. I touched on the tradition in my latest Food Republic post. Curious? Drink it up!

Exotic New Hop Varieties Infuse Local Beers

Photo: Ross William Hamilton

This month, I started contributing to The Oregonian‘s food and drink magazine, MIX. It’s great to be ale  focus on the craft beer goodness of the Pacific Northwest, which is about as close to heaven as a hop head can get. For my inaugural piece, I touched on the quirky, flavorful contributions of a couple new breeds of hops: Nelson Sauvin and Citra. New Zealand’s Nelson has a lovely white wine–like character, while Citra smells strongly of mango, papaya—the tropics, if you may. Curious about this new breed of IPAs? Check out my full story over at MIX. Drink it up!

Getting to Know Single Hop Beers

Around 6 p.m., sometimes 7 p.m., the call will arrive: “I’m coming home from work,” my fiancée will say. “Where are you?”

After more than five years together, I know better than to lie. It doesn’t make telling the truth any easier. “At the bar,” I say, taking another nip of a hoppy beer. “Again?” she says, exasperated.

“It’s different,” I tell her. “This time I’m learning.” And that’s the truth. Lately, breweries across the globe have started turning happy hour into study hall with single-hop beers. Allow me to educate: Typically, most beers are made with a grab bag of hops. Some hops are better suited for creating bitterness. Others are more ideal for imparting aroma. By combining hops’ strengths and weakness, brewers’ sudsy creations are often tastier than the sum of their parts.

In brewing, that’s been status quo for centuries. But with so many new, unusual hops being plucked from bines, brewers have begun shining a spotlight on single varieties. To help drinkers understand the effects and flavors of different hops, Danish brewer Mikkeller offers the Single Hop Series. Starting with the same base beer, the brewery doses each beer with just hop variety. Line up selections, and you’ll soon discern the differences among varieties such as earthy, piney Chinook, super-citric Centennial, and white wine–like Nelson Sauvin.

While I love Mikkeller’s project, my quibble is cost. The imported beers typically run $5 or $6 a bottle, making each “class” pretty pricey. That’s why I was pleased as punch when Boston Beer unveiled its brand-new 12-pack, Samuel Adams Latitude 48 IPA Deconstructed, which retails for about $14. To create its year-round Latitude 48, the brewers rely on five globetrotting varieties of hops: Germany’s Hallertau Mittelfrueh, England’s East Kent Goldings, and Washington state’s Simcoe, Zeus and Ahtanum — all grown on the 48th latitude line.

For the Deconstructed series, each hop gets to flaunt its singular bitterness and aromas. Place the beers side by side, and you’ll notice that Simcoe has plenty of pine and citrus, while Ahtanum is fairly grapefruity and floral, and East Kent Goldings is smooth and somewhat sweet, with a hint of apricot. With each bottle a liquid lesson plan, learning has never been so much fun.