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Dec 02, 2016
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Drinking

Drink This Weekend Edition: Spruce Brown Ale at Old Bakery Beer Co.

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

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The St. Louis beer scene is ripe with collaborations and local support. The most recent example can be found just across the Mississippi in Alton. Old Bakery Beer Co. has teamed up with The Nature Institute to offer a series of special brews showcasing ingredients locally foraged at TNI’s managed property. This series showcases 12 cask beers offered on the first Friday of every month through October 2017.

Each combination highlights a native Illinois plant and its importance to the environment. Over the course of this yearlong series, imbibers can vote for their favorite combination. Old Bakery will brew the winner at full scale and release it to the public at this time next year. And if that wasn’t enough, half of the proceeds from specialty beer sold benefits TNI’s research and education program.

The first in this series, a Persimmon Pub Ale, was offered in November during Alton Craft Beer Week, but fear not, local beer drinkers – the second cask is tapped tonight, Dec. 2, at 5 p.m. Head to Alton for the Spruce Brown Ale, Old Bakery’s A-Town Brown Ale hopped up with Simcoe and Chinook and finished with spruce tips. It’s festive, creative and sure to be delicious served at cask temperature.

Can’t make it tonight for the second release? Cask No. 3, Hairy Mountain Porter – a porter brewed with Hairy Mountain mint – debuts Jan. 6, 2017.

 

Related Content
Drink This Weekend Edition: 3 Big Black Friday Beers

Sauce Guide to Beer 2016

• Sneak Peek: The Old Bakery Beer Co.

 

Drink This Weekend Edition: 3 Big Black Friday Beers

Friday, November 25th, 2016

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All the Turkey Day leftovers are stored in the fridge, a big pot of turkey stock is simmering on the stove, and you’re contemplating joining in the Black Friday insanity. Or you’re like me: anti-turkey and thus, anti-turkey stock, and more likely to avoid any mall or retail establishment without a strong drink present.

I fully endorse celebrating Black Friday with massive, full-bodied, aggressive Imperial stouts and then perusing the interwebs for fun holiday gifts. Here, three such options to toast a successful Turkey Day and a very happy Black Friday.

Disclaimer: These three options are highly sought after and may be difficult to locate – but for many, this is part of the fun. All three will be available in bottles and draft around the city. Might I suggest a Schlafly Coffee Stout to get the search going?

 

1. Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout 2016 (13.8 percent ABV)
For most beer fans, this gnarly bourbon barrel-aged Imperial stout is the reason for the season. BCBS is chewy, sweet and showcases just enough boozy warmth to keep those toes warm in the coldest weather. Her debut on Black Friday gets those beer nerds out of bed in the wee hours of the morning to start prowling store shelves. Look for deep notes of chocolate and barrel undertones of charred oak, vanilla and smoke.

2. Perennial Abraxas (10 percent ABV)
Now that Perennial’s Abraxas Week and accompanying bottle release is over, it’s time to scour the city for bottles and draft. This Imperial stout is bitter, full-bodied and stacked with roasted malt notes and Mexican spice. The dance of the ancho chile peppers, cacao nibs and cinnamon sticks on the palate is the star of this belly warmer.

3. North Coast Barrel-Aged Old Rasputin XIX (11.2 percent ABV)
In true Russian Imperial stout fashion, this lady comes forth with a boatload of roasted malt that presents itself as espresso and chocolate on the palate. Throw in some dried fruit and lingering char and vanilla from the barrel as it warms, and you have yourself a good time.

Drink This Weekend Edition: Noble Rot Wines at 33 Wine Bar

Friday, November 18th, 2016

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Nicknaming a fungus “noble” doesn’t really make it sound better, but some winemakers celebrate when Botrytis cinerea, or noble rot, appears on their grapes. 33 Wine Bar owner James Smallwood said wines made with noble rot are immediately recognizable thanks to their thick, sweet profiles. “They’re dessert wines – and it imparts a sort of honeyed flavor,” he said.

The origin of noble rot is as much legend as history. Nobody knows why the first winemaker decided to press apparently ruined grapes, but it’s clear why the tradition continues. The juice from these half-rotted grapes is so concentrated that oozes out when pressed, which makes for some seriously intense and sweet wines that don’t tasted rotten at all.

But intensity comes with a price. Introducing even a noble rot is a dangerous game. Too much sun and dry heat and the fungus won’t show up; too much moisture and it can turn from noble to full-on destructive gray rot pretty quick. The concentrated juice of successfully rotten grapes means less yield from vines.

“It’s a manually intensive process,” Smallwood said. “Rather than harvest in a day, they harvest over a few weeks to a month.” When one bunch of grapes is ready, another might need one more day on the vine, while others probably haven’t developed the noble rot at all yet.

So excuse the price tags on these unctuous dessert wines. One of the most famous, Smallwood said, costs more than $300 a bottle. Luckily, 33 Wine Bar carries the more approachable Chateau Doisy-Vedrines Sauternes, with half-bottles available for $32.

The pale golden wine has a rich honey aroma and a round, viscous sweetness balanced by acidity that keeps it from cloying. The only other noble rot wine available is the aptly named Noble One, an Australian Botrytis Semillon from De Bortoli. A deeper, burnished honey color, Noble One is both sweeter and sharper than the Sauternes.

 

More about wine in St. Louis 
• 11 Foolproof Wine Lists
• Conquer the Wine Lists
• Drink This Weekend Edition: Underrated Wines
• 3 wines for sauvignon blanc lovers

 

Heather Hughes is managing editor for print at Sauce Magazine. 

Drink This Weekend Edition: 3 GABF-worthy beers

Friday, October 14th, 2016

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Last weekend, I attended the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, a three-day national beer festival and competition attended by thousands each year. Though the festival itself can be over-stimulating at times, Denver is full of fantastic beer, beer people and beer events throughout the week.

Several St. Louis-area breweries poured at GABF, and even more entered the competition in hopes of procuring more medals for this wonderful beer town. While listening to the results, I realized just how rapidly breweries and beer culture are expanding – there were many I’d never heard of before. More beer for the people! Three St. Louis-area breweries medaled this year; head to Perennial or across the Mississippi this weekend to check out these nationally notable beers:

Perennial Artisan Ales Meriwether took silver for classic saison
Excel Brewing Flash Bang took bronze for American-style wheat beer
Scratch Brewing Oyster Weiss* took bronze for experimental beer

Some of my favorite nonlocal beers also medaled last weekend and are available in St. Louis throughout the year. Keep your eyes open for Bells Expedition Stout (silver in aged beer), Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale (gold in ordinary or special bitter) and Left Hand Fade to Black, Volume 1 (silver in export stout).

 

*Editor’s note: Oyster Weiss is not currently available. 

Katie Herrera is tasting room manager at Side Project Cellar and co-founder of Femme Ferment.

Guide to Drinking 2016: 6 Best Bitter Bottles to Buy

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

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Sweet-toothed Americans are increasingly embracing bitter flavors at the bar. Aperol spritzes are everywhere, and according to Randolfi’s head barman Jeffrey Moll, “No respectable home bar should be without Campari.” The pretty pink amaro and its compatriots are for more than your nightly Negroni. Bitter liqueurs and aromatized wines can be enjoyed simply poured over ice with a citrus twist or neat at room temp. We asked Moll, Planter’s House’s Ted Kilgore and Retreat Gastropub’s Tim Wiggins to tell us which bottles best bring out the bitter.

1. Amaro Sibilla is sweetened with honey but tastes boldly bitter and herbal – a siren song for the experienced amaro enthusiast. It’s great in complex cocktails. $54

2. Amaro Sibona boasts a sweet, baking spice-laced start with a smooth, slightly bitter, chocolate finish. Substitute it for Campari or sweet vermouth in your next Negroni. $30

3. Contratto Aperitif is easy to drink with prominent orange notes, like a more complex Aperol. Try mixing equal parts with a dry, sparkling white wine. $30

4. Amaro Nonino’s bittersweet caramel and baking spice notes are best on their own, rather than in a cocktail. Try as an aperitif over ice, or sip it neat after dinner. $50

5. Amaro di Angostura rolls around the palate with the spiced flavors of the classic Angostura bitters. Use in place of vermouth for an amped-up Manhattan. $22

6. Byrrh is a lightly bitter blend of young red wine and quinine. With an approachable flavor profile and price tag, it’s a safe start on your bitter journey. $18

All available at The Wine and Cheese Place in Clayton, wineandcheeseplace.com

Photo by Jonathan Gayman 

Drink This Weekend Edition: Nuclear Sky Sno-cone at BBQ Saloon

Friday, September 16th, 2016

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When I heard The BBQ Saloon in the Central West End was making sno-cones with Leopold Bros. natural liqueurs, I had to try them. Adult sno-cones don’t usually come in grown-up flavors, but Leopold Bros. liqueurs have the deep, rich taste of real fruit and a sophisticated sweetness. BBQ Saloon offers the Leopold Bros. Michigan Tart Cherry Liqueur, New York Sour Apple and Rocky Mountain Peach, but owner Phil Czarnec said any classic cocktail can be made into a sno-cone.

I opted for Czarnec’s favorite, the Nuclear Sky. Made with Reyka Vodka, Pinckney Bend tonic syrup, crème de violette and Leopold Bros. peach liqueur, complex fruit and floral notes dance on the palate, leaving you with the expected sweetness of a sno-cone, matured. It’s not too late to live your best summer life.

 

Drink This Weekend Edition: 3 wines for sauvignon blanc lovers

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

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Sauvignon blanc is the ultimate summer wine: crisp and grassy with melon and mineral notes and easy, bright drinkability. However, after months spent quaffing this lovely wine, it’s time to close out the season with something different. Here, three bottles perfect for sauvignon blanc lovers seeking something new:
1. The Easy Transition: Domaine Du Bagnol Cassis Blanc
This is a great French wine from the Provence region. It’s sophisticated and enjoyable with notes of pear, quince and minerals, and offers a clean freshness characteristic of sauvignon blancs. Enjoy on its own or pair with shellfish, sushi or salads.
$23. The Wine & Cheese Place in Clayton

2. The Change Up: Domaine Du Gros ‘Noré Bandol Rosé
I know, I know, another summer rosé – but trust me on this. Bandols are the Teslas of rosés. This crisp, clean wine offers hints of melon, grass and perfect minerality, making it a perfect match for fans of sauvignon blanc. This beauty is perfect for sipping and pairs well with anything grilled.
$32. Veritas Gateway to Food & Wine in Ellisville

3. The Challenge: El Maestro Sierra Fino
This option might be a stretch, but still, a winery that’s been around since 1832 is surely worth a try. Fino sherry has an unmatched, almost saline minerality. For Sancerre fans (France’s most famous sauvignon blanc), a sip of this crisp, dry sherry is like turning up the volume on your favorite song. It’s best served fresh and cold with oysters, almonds or olives.
$15. Starrs in Richmond Heights

 

Ben Wood has more than 10 years experience in the wine industry. He currently works as a sommelier at Reeds American Table. 

 

Drink This Weekend Edition: Pomegranate-Coffee Tonic Shrub Cocktail at Sump

Friday, August 26th, 2016

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There’s no guilt in a (nonalcoholic) morning cocktail, especially when Retreat Gastropub’s Tim Wiggins teams up with Sump Coffee for a Pomegranate-Coffee Tonic. The third coffee cocktail collaboration Wiggins has developed for the coffee shop this summer, this juicy, sweet-tart treat is made with fresh pomegranate juice, pomegranate syrup, dried hibiscus and Sump cold brew, served over Fever Tree tonic.

It’s a great introduction to the bold flavors of a coffee shrub cocktail, with a little less vinegar intensity than the previous two drinks (a Cascara Fizz and Honey Burundi Julep), and more refreshing sparkle from the tonic. Marrying the bright, floral sweetness of hibiscus-inflected pomegranate with the earthy, caramel depth of Sump coffee, each sip will call for another to figure out how this unlikely couple can work so well. Sump barista Connor Usry said it best: “It tastes like a chocolate covered pomegranate seed.”

Drink This Weekend Edition: Class of 2011 Collaboration Beers

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

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St. Louis Craft Beer Week kicks off tomorrow, July 29, and there is an abundance of beer-related events around the city that boast what we brew best.

This year’s highlight is the fifth-anniversary celebration of the four breweries that opened in 2011: 4 Hands Brewing Co., The Civil Life Brewing Co., Perennial Artisan Ales and Urban Chestnut Brewing Co. The Class of 2011 has marked the milestone with a major collaboration effort that involved ingredient sharing, recipe building and brew days with representatives from each brewery. The result: a beer from each member of the Class of 2011 that’s slightly outside of its wheelhouse and showcases the diversity of our beer scene.

All four collaboration beers debut tomorrow from 5 to 9 p.m. at the St. Louis Brewers’ Picnic, a free STLCBW kickoff event hosted by Baileys’ Restaurants. You can also join the Class of 2011 Collaboration Tour on Aug. 3 from 5 to 9 p.m. with free shuttle service between the four breweries, and the beers will be on draft in the breweries’ tasting rooms throughout STLCBW.

Ever the diligent drink writer, I ran around the city sampling these beautiful beers and gathering tasting notes for you eager imbibers. Here’s a taste of what’s to come from the Class of 2011:

1. 4 Hands Brewing Co. brewed an incredibly satiating and mildly bitter Pilsner with UCBC’s house lager yeast. Notes of biscuit, grass, lemon and pepper dominate the nose, while soft floral and pepper notes complement bright citrus and soft stone fruit on the palate. You won’t stop at just one.

2. Perennial Artisan Ales brewed a dry-hopped Kölsch with Galaxy hops from 4 Hands and Mandarina Bavaria hops from UCBC. It has massive hop aroma, juicy tropical fruit and grass on the palate with a mild grain presence and medium body. Session IPA drinkers, get ready – this is right up your alley.

3. The Civil Life Brewing Co. made an American IPA complete with a fantastic caramel malt backbone, clean bitterness, strong notes of pineapple and mango on the nose, and juicy tropical flavors paired with bright citrus round out the palate. By far, the most assertively hoppy beer to come out of Civil Life’s brewhouse and so worth the try.

4. Urban Chestnut Brewing Co. brewed an India Brown Ale fermented with house ale yeast from Civil Life, El Dorado and Galaxy hops from 4 Hands and flaked oats and chocolate spelt from Perennial. This medium-full bodied, dark ruby colored brew is full of flavor. Herbal and spicy notes dominate the aroma, while stone fruit, toffee and light nutty notes complement the seemingly bitter palate.

Drink This Weekend Edition: Underrated wines

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

 

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Pick up any wine magazine, and you’re bound to find wines ranked on a 100-point scale. Unfortunately, it’s really hard to get below a certain score, and as with any subjective topic, the numbers are somewhat arbitrary – there is no standardized method for ranking. Some critics describe the process as 10 points for nose, 10 for color, 10 for palate, 10 for finish, 10 for overall impression and the remaining 50 simply for existing.

I find this degrading to vintners and winery teams. Most wines depend on weather, luck, timing, hard work and perseverance. They should be enjoyed as a moment in time, appreciating the product and its complement to your meal or your experience. I love a serious, complex bottle paired with an amazing meal, but I equally love an easy-drinking, quaffable wine on the patio with friends.

I taste quite a bit of wine, and I’m not sure I can tell you if any wine has a score able number for any ‘characteristic.’ Characteristics are subjective; a cloudy wine might upset you, but excite me. I’ve sold 100-point bottles to happy clients, and other underrated bottles that resulted in the same level of enjoyment. The only opinion that matters is the one belonging to the person who paid for it.

When hunting for an underrated bottle, look for wines made in a little known area where real estate is cheaper. It’s hard to find underrated wine from Napa Valley, California, but some Missouri wines or wines from lesser known regions of France’s Loire Valley are well worth the effort to find. Here are two such hidden gems:

1. Claverach Farm Pét-Nat sparkling rosé: Made by Claverach Farm’s Sam Hilmer, this wine is fizzy and wild with a beautiful nose of flowers and bright berries. It is dry and complex on the palate with refreshing bubbles.
$25, available at Starrs

2. Champalou Vouvray chenin blanc: This is a fine example of what the Loire Valley can do. Minerals, dry hay and apricot notes are followed by a hint of floral and matchstick. It is dry, rich and enjoyable on the palate.
$18, The Wine and Cheese Place

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