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6 Unusual Spins On Pumpkin Beer

This year, I steered clear of the standard heavily spiced amber-colored ales and sought out pumpkin-spiked riffs on other styles. Along the way I found pumpkiny pilsner, Belgian dark strong ale, porter, stout, funky farmhouse beer, and even lambic. Beers I'd never thought would, could, or should incorporate pumpkin. My search turned up a few delicious brews that reinvigorated my thirst for this seasonal beer. Here are 6 tasty pumpkin beers that don't taste like pie. More

Beer Events Worth Checking Out in October

In craft beer circles, October means two things: It's time for the Great American Beer Festival and it's time for purists to admit that it's seasonally acceptable to drink pumpkin beer. GABF, craft beer's Oscars and Mardi Gras rolled into one beer-soaked Colorado weekend, is long sold out, but there are plenty of other events to check out across the country this month, gourd or no gourd. Here are our highlights. More

How to Brew Your Own Belgian Dark Strong Ale

Big, deep, and rich, Belgian dark strong ales are perhaps the most complex beers Belgium has to offer. Brewing this style isn't cheap—I generally expect to spend an extra $10 to $15 per 5 gallon batch once I've bought the extra grains and sugars. However, considering commercial domestic and imported versions start at about $6 per 12-ounce bottle where I live, it's a relative steal to make your own. Here are a few tips to help you get started. More

Where to Drink Beer Outside in Manhattan

Most outdoor drinking in Manhattan entails squeezing into however many two-person tables the bar or restaurant could squeeze into their sidewalk space. That's all fine and good, but the beauty of drinking beer outside is being able to stretch out and relax. It's a tall order in a borough where square footage comes at the highest premium, but it can be done. Trust us, we're professionals. More

Highlights from the 2012 National Homebrewers Conference

Continuing education by day, beer fest by night, the National Homebrewers Conference is like a homebrewer's Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Halloween crammed into a long weekend. This year 1,850 homebrew dabblers, tinkerers, geeks, and aspiring pro brewers descended on Bellevue, Washington for three days of seminars, inspiration, competition, and exhibition. Click through for 17 of my favorite sips. More

Heavyweight Beer: 9 Stellar Barleywines from the U.S.

Barleywines, even in a field of brews with ever-increasing ABVs, are among the biggest of the bunch. They're characterized by their strength, depth, and complexity. Barleywines fall into two categories: English and American. The original English interpretations place a greater emphasis on rich malt and can be darker and fruitier. American barleywines dial up the hop intensity but the best still maintain balance. The significant malt character in a proper American barleywine, often equal to or greater than the hop presence, is what distinguishes it from an imperial IPA. More

New Beers: Samuel Adams Verloren and Norse Legend

Since Sam Adams launched its Single Batch Series last year, it's been a bit of a mad scientist's lab for craft beer crossbreeds, producing one-off creations like blonde barleywine, Baltic IPA, and rauch bock. They grabbed our attention with their latest releases in the series by dusting off a couple of seriously old and almost-forgotten styles: Gose and Sahti. Sam Adams isn't the only brewery to produce modern versions of these obscure ales, but they're certainly the largest. More

A Chat With Tomme Arthur About Lost Abbey's Ultimate Box Set

Each month this year, The Lost Abbey is releasing a new beer that calls back on the imagery of heaven and hell in classic rock anthems. The only catch: if you want to try the beers, you have to go to the brewery. Every bottle sold is opened and poured for you in the tasting room. Tomme Arthur, co-founder and director of brewery operations at Lost Abbey & Port Brewing, took time earlier this month to give us the back story on their Ultimate Box Set. More

Kopstootje: A Little Head Butt from Stillwater Artisanal Ales and Bols Genever

"First, you must slurp it," Piet said. Piet van Leijenhorst, the master distiller for Holland's Lucas Bols, was giving us pointers on how to properly enjoy a Kopstootje (kop-stow-che), the Dutch pairing of a beer and a shot of Genever. According to tradition, to approach the tulip glass filled to the brim with Genever, you must first bend over and slurp—to use your hands or to spill would be bad form. More

10 Great Imperial Stouts To Try Right Now

If you want to try Black Tuesday, Kate the Great, Sexual Chocolate, Dark Lord, Surly Darkness, or a number of other great "cult" imperial stouts, you should probably prepare yourself for the possibility of waiting in line on release day, trolling Internet forums looking for trades, buying lottery tickets in hopes of winning a chance to buy a bottle, or paying incredibly inflated prices on eBay. But rest assured, there are plenty of top-tier imperial stouts available that require a lot less hoop-jumping to snag a bottle. More

Cellar Raid: 6 Years of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot

I honestly can't tell you the last time that I walked out of a bottle shop carrying only the beer I went in to purchase. There's always a new release, an obscure bottle, or something I forgot I needed before I went inside. Last year my wife, Lauren, and I went bottle shopping while visiting one of her high school friends outside Baltimore. On one of the lower shelves in a local beer shop, I found a cache of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot from 2008 to 2011. I can't say I went into that store looking for a four-year vertical of American barleywines, but I had a good feeling about the way the staff was storing their beers and the opportunity was way too convenient to pass up. It was an impulse buy, no doubt, but one with merit. More

8 Great American Porters

I'm not convinced that porters get enough respect. They're often passed over at the bar by the hop heads and the sour crowd. They're not as sought-after as many higher-octane American stouts or their Russian imperial cousins. But why? Porters are complex and roasty, filled with chocolate and coffee flavors, yet most still manage to be sessionable. They're damn-near perfect when it's cold outside, and you'd be hard pressed to find a better beer with a meal. More

Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout Is Worth the Hype

Canadian Breakfast Stout is the second installment in the 750-mL Backstage series from Founders. The maple syrup Bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout, which had previously only seen limited draft availability, is currently ranked as the third most popular beer on BeerAdvocate.com. Its October release was greeted with reports of multiple block-long lines outside bottle shops, people paying north of $100 a bottle on eBay, and other general foolishness. That caliber of irrational reaction isn't uncommon anymore for some of craft beer's most sought-after releases, but was it justified? More

My 8 Favorite Christmas Beers

We all have holiday traditions. Every December I watch Die Hard and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, spend hours driving across Missouri to visit family and friends, and then spend many more hours sharing big Christmas beers with said family and friends. This year I'm sharing my 8 top Christmas beers here. Are they among your favorites, too? More

Single-Malt, Single-Hop IPA (For Beginning Homebrewers)

@Celeriac With three ounces of late additions and another two in the dry hop addition, I think you'll find plenty of hop flavor and aroma. Thanks for reading!

Parting Glass Belgian Dubbel (For Intermediate Brewers)

@Dauthi A mill on the proper setting is the only way (that I know of) to get a consistent, quality crush. If you don't have a mill, your best bet is to order the grain precrushed from your local homebrew store or online. Just be sure to use the grain promptly because milled grain will stale and spoil. If there's a local homebrew club in your area, you could also ask to borrow someone's mill or have them mill it for you. It wouldn't hurt to pass a bottle or two of beer their way for the effort.

It'd be nearly impossible to consistently crush 12 lbs a grain with a rolling pin, to say nothing of the time spent and soreness to come.

Parting Glass Belgian Dubbel (For Intermediate Brewers)

@froggr In general, I like to give these an extra few weeks in secondary before further maturing during bottle conditioning. I rely on taste rather than hard and fast timeframes to make that call. Thanks for reading!

3 Female Craft Brewers to Watch

I had the opportunity to try Parisi's collaborations with DC Brau (a gratzer) and The Bruery (a quad with plums) last weekend at Churchkey in DC. Both were top-shelf beers.

How to Brew Your Own Belgian Dark Strong Ale

@rockfish42 Good eye. Thanks!

How to Brew Your Own Belgian Dark Strong Ale

@DrGaellon Sure thing. On the Belgian side, I like St. Bernardus Abt 12, Rochefort 10, both of which are widely available in the U.S., and Westvleteren 12, which should be (legally) coming to the U.S. in very limited quantities this fall. For U.S. examples, check out my post here: http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2011/03/beer-reviews-the-best-belgian-strong-dark-ales-midnight-sun-boulevard-pretty-things.html. Thanks for reading!

The Best Beers from Belgium Comes to Cooperstown 2012

Hey, rondertaker. Thanks for reading. Tickets generally go on sale in early April and sell out in a matter of minutes. See ya next year!

Highlights from the 2012 National Homebrewers Conference

@garc_mall Thanks for reading and thanks for the heads up. I should've stuck with my original notes. Cheers!

Omission from Widmer Brothers: Gluten-Free Beers That Taste Like Beer

@scalfin I see your point, but I wasn't attempting to address the whole of beer history. I think it's fair to say that gluten-containing grains like barley (and wheat and rye) are character-defining ingredients in the majority of beers as we know them today--especially in this country. And, for what's it's worth, I grew up in Southeast Missouri, where most of the beer available tasted a lot like rice and corn (gluten-free!). Thanks for reading.

Homebrew Recipes: Decoding The Acronyms

HLT: Hot Liquor Tank - the cooler, pot, or vessel you use to store your brew water.
MLT: Mash/Lauter Tun - the cooler, pot or kettle you use to steep your grains in water (mashing) and to separate the resulting sweet wort from the spent grains (lautering) prior to the boil. I can't think of a single homebrewer I know that has separate mash and lauter tuns. My MLT is a 10 gal. Rubbermaid cooler with a stainless steel false bottom

5 Refreshing Beers for Warm Weather Drinking

@winternutt Matilda's in my year-round rotation.
@LKM I'm on the lookout for Underdog Atlantic.

5 Silver Tequilas You Should Try

Patron Silver is better-than-average tequila at a premium price. It has fantastic marketing and brand recognition, but you could do better for less.

What's Your Bucket List Beer?

For me, at this particular point in time, it's probably fresh Czech pilsners and German lagers that don't taste like cardboard after taking the slow boat across the Atlantic. Something that hasn't been marred by extended time in green bottles. A trip is in order.

@rhallen OK, I'll bite. You're the first lambic fan I've ever seen say he's not impressed with Cantillon. What doesn't do it for you? What's your lambic of choice?

In a Pickle: Red Beet Eggs

These are great with sriracha. I'm also huge on the pickled eggs they serve at Northern Spy, but I'm pretty sure they use malt vinegar (sans beets).

New Beers: Samuel Adams Verloren and Norse Legend

@JH Definitely bigger than I've seen commerical or homebrew examples, but it wore it well.

Serious Beer: New York IPA

@Zach A. Unearthly is great stuff, indeed, but I didn't include any Imperial IPAs in this roundup.

Cellar Raid: 6 Years of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot

@aintbaroque It was The Perfect Pour in Elkridge. It was my first time there and they had some great stuff.

@Jason_A Thanks!

8 Great American Porters

@frackle good eye.

8 Great American Porters

@DaveJ_DC You raise a fair point. With the exception of Captain Lawrence and Stone, I only sought out the American interpretation of robust porters (stronger, hoppier, roastier). Unfortunately, traditional brown porters are fairly hard to come by in the U.S. outside of brewpubs and homebrew club meetings (my friend Ken makes a really tasty, sessionable porter). The original English version is perhaps fodder for a future article.

Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout Is Worth the Hype

@Michael Agnew You're exactly right. It's just beer and people need to calm down. To clarify, my intended point wasn't that the ends justify the means, only that I think this particular beer IS just as great as people make it out to be. (As opposed to some other highly sought-after beers that people have similarly flipped out over, which have ended up falling well short of my expectations.)

One Big Bottle: Ithaca Brute

@Mayan, Ithaca sent us a bottle for review. My understanding is that it's only available at the brewery this year. I picked up a couple of bottles last year from WF Bowery, but even then I don't think it made it out very widely (even in NYC).

Serious Beer: The Best Light Beer for Tailgating

@CheeseRks Maggie did a canned beer roundup in January 2010, which you can find here: http://bit.ly/oYa0Oq. Other than that, I try to feature cans in my reviews when possible. Depending on where you are, check out Ska, Two Beers, and Tallgrass. And definitely pick up any Surly cans you see.

I'm really excited to see the canned beer movement picking up steam. I tried the Sankaty Light in can and bottle for this one, and the canned version seemed a lot brighter.

Serious Beer: The Best Light Beer for Tailgating

@beersnob Well played. When I do make it back to Missouri for games, I spend my alcohol points enjoying the Boulevard, New Belgium, and Schlafly that I can't get here in NYC.

@toad3000 I'm in no way suggesting Bud Light is a good beer, but it pretty well hits the style mark in terms of what a Lite American Lager is supposed to be.

Serious Beer: 10 New Pumpkin Beers

Sixpoint is calling Autumnation a "wet-hopped pumpkin ale." I haven't had a chance to try it yet.

11 Best Beers and Bites from NYC Brewer's Choice 2011

Thanks, Fritz! (And the photos are from the skilled eye of Chris Lehault)

I enjoyed White Birch's imperial stout quite a bit. They're always cranking out something interesting.

Homebrewing: Berliner Weisse

Light, tart, and cloudy, Berliner Weisse is a style that has very few contemporaries in the beer world. It's a sessionable beer—most style guides put it at a maximum 3.8% ABV—with a dry finish and essentially no hop character. Don't be fooled, though, because these light ales pack a real punch in the flavor department. The modern Berliner Weisse is fermented with the souring bacteria Lactobacillus along with a regular ale yeast. Lactobacillus produces a sharp, clean sour flavor that pairs perfectly with the simple malt bill and low hop profile. More

Kopstootje: A Little Head Butt from Stillwater Artisanal Ales and Bols Genever

"First, you must slurp it," Piet said. Piet van Leijenhorst, the master distiller for Holland's Lucas Bols, was giving us pointers on how to properly enjoy a Kopstootje (kop-stow-che), the Dutch pairing of a beer and a shot of Genever. According to tradition, to approach the tulip glass filled to the brim with Genever, you must first bend over and slurp—to use your hands or to spill would be bad form. More