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Mar 28, 2017
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Drinking

DTWE: 6 must-drink beers at Lupulin Carnival

Friday, March 24th, 2017

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It’s almost time for 4 Hands Brewing Co.’s yearly hop-induced coma: Lupulin Carnival. It takes place April 1 at Union Station this year, and it means the return of carnival acts, the smell of dank IPAs (and sweaty festival goers) and the release of 4 Hands’ Imperial IPA, War Hammer. (Tickets are available online.)

Beer festivals can overwhelm, especially when the lineup is ridiculously amazing. Some of the best breweries in the IPA game pour at Lupulin, highlighting their prodigious hop usage. Heed some sage advice from an IPA fiend: Do not pass up that beer you’ve had before.

Why? With all the variations in hops, styles and brewing techniques, this is your chance to see just how versatile hops can be. Look for classic West Coast-style usage from Ballast Point or Stone Brewing Co., the trendy Northeast-style pale ales from local breweries like Narrow Gauge Brewing Co. and Shared, and game changers with some of the best hop experimentation in the game (i.e. Firestone Walker Brewing Co.’s Leo v. Ursus and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.’s Tropical Torpedo.)

There will be too many beers to try (because you will all be responsible drinkers), so prioritize with my six must-try beers at Lupulin 2017:

1. Yes, War Hammer is the guest of honor, but surprise! 4 Hands hopped up a Pilsner for its second City Wide offering. City Wide Pils is a Citra dry-hopped American Pilsner that’s perfect for crushing during the hot St. Louis summer.

2. If one Imperial IPA wasn’t enough, 4 Hands’ also debuts an Imperial wheat IPA, White Flannel, rumored to be aggressively hoppy with intense notes of tropical fruit.

3. Expect lots of hoppy goodies from Chicagoland breweries. One of Chicago’s finest breweries (IMHO), Half Acre Beer Co., brings Tuna Extra Pale, its 4.7-percent ABV brew ripe with citrus, tropical fruit and a slightly sweet malt bill to uphold that flavor.

4. Pipeworks Brewing Co. rolls in with Ninja vs. Unicorn, an unfiltered, balanced Imperial IPA with massive amounts of peach and citrus aromatics and extreme drinkability. Be careful, y’all – this one does not drink like it’s 8-percent ABV.

5. Mile Wide Beer Co., a new Louisville, Kentucky brewery and brainchild of former Schlafly brewer Kyle Tavares, brings Idlewild Pale Ale (5.5-percent ABV). This crisp, light-bodied pale ale sees a new hop addition every few months for a refreshing and fun take on the classic American style. It currently boasts Mosaic and Equinox hops for a dank and tropical fruit aroma.

6. Finally, try one of the first breweries that got me into the hop game: Ale Asylum. Its Velveteen Habit has juicy hop presence with a mildly sweet malt undertone is finished with a satiable bitterness. Look for light grassiness, citrus, pineapple and a little herbal character as you drink.

Photo by Ed Aller for 4 Hands Brewing Co.

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

Sauce Magazine is a sponsor of Lupulin Carnival.

 

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DTWE: Wolpertinger at Urban Chestnut Brewing Co.

Friday, January 20th, 2017

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Prepare thy livers: it’s time for Urban Chestnut’s birthday party and the return of a mythological beast, Wolpertinger, this Sunday, Jan. 22 from 1 to 5 p.m. With live music including funk-centric Saint Boogie Brass Band, delicious UCBC kitchen fare, more than 35 local breweries pouring tasty suds and guest Bell’s Brewery bringing its seasonal heavy hitter Hopslam, what more could you want from a beer fest?

Answer: The debut of UCBC’s anniversary beer, Wolpertinger. This deep, dark brown brew is more robust than years past. It’s also slightly tart thanks to the addition of raspberries before it spent two years in Scotch whisky barrels. Don’t miss this, plus three other beers I’m excited to drink this weekend:

1. Bell’s Hopslam: All the hops and honey make this highly anticipated, 10-percent Imperial IPA a party in your mouth. Honey sweetness up front and good body balance out the intense bitterness. Look for grapefruit, tropical fruit and some soft floral notes.

2. Bell’s Double Brown Ale: Also from the out-of-town guest, search out the exclusive firkin of 8.5-percent cask-conditioned brew boasting a rich, chocolaty flavor profile, smooth mouth feel and a nice bitterness on the finish to balance it all out.

3. Mark Twain/The OG Collaboration Orion’s Apprentice: This recently released, 10.5-percent Imperial IPA is smooth, medium-bodied and full of tropical fruit notes from a heavy dosage of Citra and Simcoe dry-hopping. Look for juicy pineapple and vibrant grapefruit in a beer that drinks like it’s less than 10 percent.

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

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Drink This Weekend Edition: Mark Twain Brewing launch party

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Drink This Weekend Edition: Miracle on Chouteau Pop-up Bar

Saturday, December 10th, 2016

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{ Yippie Ki Yay Mother F****r! }

 

If the crowds are any indication, St. Louis apparently had a deep need of a Christmas-themed pop-up bar like Miracle. It’s like spending time in your holiday-obsessed grandmother’s basement, surrounded by decorations collected over the past 40 years – only better, since you can escape your family and sip on drinks made by the crew at Planter’s House.  

Located at 1740 Chouteau Ave. (just look for the glow of hundreds of Christmas lights in the windows), drinks like the Jingle Bell Nog or Bad Santa hot milk punch feel right in this Christmas tree forest, but I’m partial to the cocktails with a tiki vibe on the menu.

Yule Be Singing features Plantation 3 Star Rum with Velvet Falernum, lime and a Champagne topper for an unexpected, sweet-tart holiday treat. And nothing can compete with the Yippie Ki Yay Mother F****r!, a tiki tipple with two kinds of rum, pumpkin-almond orgeat and lime juice served in a Santa mug dusted with powdered sugar.     

Plan on arriving early if you don’t want to wait, but there’s no bad seat, since every chair sports a Santa hat, and the whole place is dripping with tinsel and twinkle lights. Enjoy a cup of good cheer every day through Dec. 24.

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.

 

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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. 

 

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