Dear Mr. Larry Bell,
Perhaps it may seem that everything a person could ever want is here for the buying in New York City, but you and I both know that that is not the case. What New York lacks is a supply of beer from Bell's Brewery. While I would be thrilled to see even one of your brews in my bodega's refrigerator, this time of year it's Oberon-that wheat beer embodiment of summertime-that I yearn for the most.
This yearning is especially strong after having spent the July 4th holiday weekend in northern Michigan, where the Oberon flowed by bottle and pint. The highlight of my summer thus far was a pitcher of that hazy orange-scented Oberon on the patio at Art's Tavern in Glen Arbor accompanied by both burgers and friends. I would like to recreate that moment on balconies across New York-to share with the unlucky bunch that has not yet sipped anything from Bell's.
I've heard rumors that the reason we don't have access to your beers is because you're not keen on this city, but our craft beer-loving residents would be thrilled to welcome you (or, more specifically, your Oberon) with chilled glasses and orange slice garnishes.
What do you say?
Dear Mr. Larry Bell,
I wound up on the CBS Early Show on July 4th, talking about beers for Independence Day. That, to my mind, meant craft beers brewed in America, as a kind of celebration of our country's history of small-business entrepreneurship and also as a celebration of the abundance of terrific beer being produced in the U.S. right now. Beer-fanatics will notice that I mostly picked bottles from the larger brewers on the craft side—Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, Anchor Brewing, and so on. I'd love to have included some of my more regional faves, like Tröegs Brewery in Harrisburg, PA (big fan of their Troegenator Double Bock), Two Brothers Brewing in Warrenville, IL (Domaine DuPage French Country Ale—mighty good); Saint Arnold Brewing in Houston (look for the Elissa IPA), or Avery Brewing in Boulder (drink anything they make, seriously), but TV tends to want national—or near national—distribution, so I erred on the side of findability.
Anyway, here's a link to the segment on the CBS site. They don't seem to have the video up, but the content is there at least. They also left out the part where they had the anchors run a three-legged race while balancing raw eggs on spoons, with me standing at the finish line to hand the winner a beer. Really.
F&W Best New Chef 2007 Steve Corry at Five Fifty-Five in Portland, Maine, doesn't just know his way around the kitchen-he's also a huge beer aficionado. (He used to be a professional brewer at Harpoon in Boston and at San Francisco Brewing Company.) He's already expressed his love for Allagash White, and here are three more of his favorite beers and the dishes he pairs with each:
Pilsner Urquell: “After work, I religiously have a European pilsner. Lately, it's Pilsner Urquell, a crisp, refreshing Czech beer. It's great for when I'm coming off a hot shift. I even went to the Czech Republic to try to learn how to recreate it. I like drinking it with spicy food, sausages and cured meats.” It would be great with spicy stewed sausages with peppers.
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Anchor Liberty Ale: “These are two classic American pale ales that I fell in love with while going to brewing school in California. They have a floral hop fragrance in the beginning and a strong hoppy bitterness at the end. They're aggressive beers, so I don't often pair food with them—but when I do, it's with grilled meats like steaks or pork chops,” for instance a grilled porterhouse.
On another note, if you're a wine drinker who's interested in beer—for instance what brew to pick up if you love Pinot Noir—check out these suggestions from some of the country's top sommeliers, in wine editor Ray Isle's Tasting Room column in the July F&W. —Ratha Tep
The Slow Food movement, with its long list of disciples, has added another group: Italian craft brewers, who are using local fruits and spices, as well as unexpected ingredients like tea or myrrh (instead of hops in some brews). Star Italian brewmasters Teo Musso of Le Baladin and Leonardo di Vincenzo of Birra del Borgo poured their food-friendly beers this week at a dinner at NYC's Convivio (home to a fantastic all-Italian beer list). They also shared their exciting plans for Open Baladin, an Italy-exclusive brew pub and market that will be part of Eataly, the Italian supermarket that Joe Bastianich and Mario Batali's B&B Hospitality Group are bringing to NYC's Flatiron neighborhood. Here are a couple of my favorite beers from the dinner that are now available in the U.S.:
Birra del Borgo Te Ale: This light blend of pilsner malt and wheat malt uses fermented tea leaves, which provide acidity and bitterness.
Le Baladin Al-iksir Ale: A high alcohol content (10%) gives this effervescent beer a dry finish that's balanced by the almond, tropical fruit and malty flavors.
For just some of the restaurants and markets carrying these beers in your area, check out the state-by-state list on the importer's site.-Christine Quinlan
Actually, I can't say for certain that Ferran Adria of El Bulli in Spain is the world's most famous che, but he's certainly up there; and in terms of influence, he's definitely at the top of the heap. So it was a privilege to have him turn up at the F&W offices the other day to talk about his latest project, Inedit.
As Adria said, talking about the project, "At El Bulli I thought that the world of wine, even the world of water, was very well taken care of. But there was a hole in the world of beer." To fill that hole, he joined up with Estrella Damm, the Spanish mega-brewer to create Inedit, a blend of a Belgian witbier-style wheat ale with a traditional lager (about 30% witbier, 70% lager). Beer is typically either lager or ale, even in the crazier realms of craft brewing in the U.S., so Inedit is definitely a novelty in that regard.
One of Adria's sommeliers added that their hope was to blend the spiciness and creamy texture of the wheat beer with the dry, light, pleasant bitterness of a lager, ideally producing a beer that would be perfect with a wide range of foods—in essence, Inedit is a beer designed to go with food, rather than a beer designed to be simply a beer.
For that reason, when you taste Inedit, it's surprisingly unprepossessing. It doesn't bowl you over, the way, for instance, a West Coast double IPA might; i.e. by blasting your tongue with unprecedented amounts of hops; nor does it go the sturm und drang direction of something like Avery's The Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest, which I love, but which weighs in at a whopping 9.37% alcohol. Instead, Inedit is a fairly subtle, softly effervescent beer that tastes like a traditional lager with a bit more texture and faint (less than most white ales) notes of orange peel, licorice and cinnamon.
Inedit won't be available in the U.S. at retail until September (when it will cost $11.99 for a 750ml bottle), but it's currently being poured at a number of terrific restaurants, including 11 Madison Park, Casa Mono and La Fonda del Sol in NYC, Amada and Vetri in Philadelphia, Tapas y Tintos in Miami, Hugo's in Portland ME, and the SLS Hotel (and Bazaar, one assumes) in LA...