What We’re Reading: Homebrewers in Hong Kong, The Power of the Pickle Back, Craft Beer’s Aspirations, Price Fix on Booze?, Parker Beam, Drinks by the Book, Turning Japanese, An Irish Explosion, Know Your Hops, Ginnin up Classic Cocktails
“Homebrewers Get Hopping in Hong Kong” 3/5/2013 – Wall Street Journal
Until recently, homebrewing barely existed in Hong Kong, a city better known for its robust wine scene. But a nascent interest in craft beer among Western expats has brought more exposure to brews from the U.S., U.K. and beyond. While easy-to-use kits with prepared and pre-portioned ingredients are available for beginners, more advanced homebrewers mash their own grains, producing a sweet liquid called wort, which is then boiled with hops and fermented with yeast. Read more!
“The Power of the Pickleback” 2/28/2013 – Wall Street Journal
FEW DRINKS INSPIRE skepticism quite like the pickleback, the cult Americana-inspired whiskey shot whose signature ingredient can be a deterrent to the uninitiated. The drink—a slug of whiskey followed by a bracing chaser shot of pickle brine, poured straight from the jar—has gained popularity in the U.S. in recent years as a novel way of making mediocre liquors more palatable. Read more!
“Craft Beer’s Larger Aspirations Cause a Stir” 3/4/2013 – New York Times
Several new, high-profile breweries are putting their product only in so-called large-format bottles. Dogfish Head Brewery, one of the bigger, better-known craft breweries in the country, will soon dedicate one of its two bottle-filling lines just to the 750-milliliter format. The trend toward large bottles is part of what is being called the “wine-ification” of beer, the push by many brewers to make their product as respectable to pair with braised short ribs as is a nice Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and at a price to match. Bottles sell for as much as $30 in stores and much more on restaurant menus. But they are getting a chilly reception from many drinkers. Internet message boards dedicated to craft beer are replete with complaints that large bottlesare too expensive and, thanks to their typically higher alcohol content, a challenge to finish in one sitting. Unlike wine, a beer is nearly impossible to recork. Read more!
“Minimum Pricing, maximum Confusion: Should Government Fix The Price Of Booze?” 3/6/2013 – Forbes
As healthcare costs mug state and federal treasuries, the temptation to control deficits by trying controlling people’s behavior is understandable. Two birds: one policy. But understanding why these goals might be desirable is not the same as understanding whether such policies will actually work. Take the political battle to impose minimum alcohol pricing in Britain and the evidence being used to support it. Read more!
“Masters of Distilling: Parker Beam” 3/6/2013 – Liquor.com
The world of spirits and cocktails is usually a safe place. There is joy, camaraderie, occasional naughtiness and frequent passion. A drink in hand and wherever you are, that’s the spot to be. And then sometimes, infrequently, it is not. I must say that I was stunned into submission to learn that Parker Beam, the beloved and long-serving master distiller for Heaven Hill, has been diagnosed with ALS. It is a jarringly sober moment; solemn would not be an overstatement. I think of Parker like I think of my own father. They are only a year apart in age, hard-working guys who have always loved what they do. In Parker’s case, he has been distilling and blending whiskey for over 50 years. It certainly doesn’t hurt to be a member of the famous Beam family, but his merits and those of his whiskies have long been established and acknowledged. Read more!
“Drinks by the Book: 2013” 2/28/2013 – Liquor.com
Good news: Spring is less than a month away, and summer is just around the corner! But before you dig out your shorts and flip-flops, there are still many long, cold evenings to weather. We suggest you use the time wisely and read these new spirited books. They’re, of course, best enjoyed with a glass of your favorite elixir—Vodka Distilled; Dava! The Russians and their Vodka; Drinking with Men; The Drunken Botanist; Beam, Straight Up. Read more!
“Turning Japanese: Whiskey with water is worth a shot” 3/1/2013 – Tasting Table
Whiskey in Japan is bolstered by a distinctive cultural practice that is starting to gain traction Stateside. The whiskey, which has an incense-like aroma from the use of Japanese oak during the aging process, is designed to be consumed with water. Lots of it. Whiskey snobs might prickle at the idea of watering down their booze, but the Japanese insist that the process of adding water (called mizuwari) or carbonated soda for a classic Highball ensures the liquor is far more palatable when drunk with food. Until recently, our Japanese offerings have been limited to only a few brands: Hibiki, Yamazaki and Hakushu. But with the arrival of Nikka, one of Japan’s most lauded labels, now is the perfect time to explore this drinking genre. The two expressions, a 12-year-old Taketsuru Pure Malt and a 15-year-old Yoichi Single Malt, have ranked among the finest Scotches and have a price to show for it: The bottles start at upward of $60 for 750 ml. Read more!
“An Irish Explosion” 2/18/2013 – Whiskey Advocate
When I announced Yellow Spot as Irish Whiskey of the Year, I predicted that The Teeling Company would be bringing some of the Cooley sparkle back to theYellow Spot Whiskey Irish category. And I was right. Read more!
“Know your hops: A primer on flavors from around the world” 2/19/2013 – LA Times
Much more than just a bittering agent, hops are the soul of beer. They balance the sweetness of the malt and furnish a refreshing flavor and pungent aroma to beer, and American craft brewers are experts at showcasing this spectrum of flavors that hops lend to beer. Read more!
“Ginning Up on the Classic Cocktails” 2/22/3013 – Wall Street Journal
BEHIND THE BAR AT DUKES HOTEL, amid the polished lines of glasses, mountains of fresh lemons and ramekins of Puglian olives, stand more than 15 different gins. Read more!