Gift Guide: For the Beer Lover

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This holiday season put together the perfect gift for the beer lover in your life. With over a hundred varieties of beer on our shelves, you’re sure to find something.

We’re also proud to be carrying the new Idaho Beer guide written by Steven J. Koonce. His book looks at our great state’s barley and hops production and how that translates in to some amazing locally produced beer. He surveys the breweries up and down the state (tough job, Steven!) and not only reviews the beer the breweries produce, but talks about the history of brewing in Idaho. Wrap up this book with a couple bottles of suds and a pint glass and be prepared for lots and lots of hugs.

If you need recommendations on which beers to give this year, check out some our Beer reviews here, here and here. And you can always stop in and talk to Joe Norris, our Beer Buyer and resident beer expert.

Let’s Toast: Stout Gelato Float

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Nothing is hollier or jollier than a stout float with eggnog gelato. Nothing. Not reindeer prancing through a snowy field. Not listening to Blue Christmas for the fortieth time. Nothing. And not only is this float holly and jolly, it’s boozy too. It uses the Sacred Cow Coffee Milk Stout from Paradise Creek Brewing Company and Talenti Eggnog Gelato, so it’s truly holiday treat. The stout is dark and robust, a perfect pairing for the rich, creamy and slightly spiced gelato. And for a limited time when you purchase the stout and the gelato, you’ll receive 10% off both items.

To make this float, place 2-3 scoops of gelato in a chilled glass. Top with stout. Drink. Repeat.

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Let’s Toast: Ghostly Milkshakes

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Halloween is right around the corner and if you’re not into food that looks like amputated body parts, but still want a festive treat, these milkshakes are for you! These milkshakes can be made in a number of ways depending on the kind of celebration you’re having. Want something for the grown-ups? Add a bit of rum. Looking for a vegan option? Use coconut milk ice cream and soy whipped cream. Want to please the little ones? Anything without booze will do! The key to making these ghostly drinks is the chocolate faces painted on the inside of the jars.

To make these Halloween treats you will need:
2-4 tablespoons dark chocolate chips
a paint brush or wooden skewer
your favorite milkshake recipe

Either on the stove or the microwave, slowly melt your chocolate chips. If using a stove, use the lowest setting or a double boiler to melt the chips. If using a microwave, heat chocolate in 30 second increments, stirring well in between. Using either a small paintbrush or a wooden skewer paint ghostly faces on the inside of your glasses or jars and fill with milkshakes. Top with whipped cream and straw.

New Brew News

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1. Golden Spike Hefewizen- 4%abv
Uinta Brewing Co.- Salt Lake City, UT
One of my favorite things about getting in a new beer from Uinta is seeing the artwork for the first time. It’s always so simple and attractive, and I’m sure it is responsible for getting more than just myself hooked on this beer. Minimalism goes a long way with the right color palette. What’s even better is when the beer in the bottle matches. It pours a cloudy, orange-honey color accompanied by a crisp scent of wheat and candied apples. Overall, it has a pleasant, fizzy mouthfeel with the expected grainy taste complimented by malt, fruit and cloves. Golden Spike’s light body and low ABV made it a great summer session beer and is sure to continue making it an equally as great autumn session beer.
2. Pale Ale – 5.8%abv (seasonal release)
10 Barrel Brewing Co. – Bend, OR
The amber hue of this beer makes me think there should be an ancient hop cone trapped inside that I can extract DNA from to create my own prehistoric theme park. Welcome to Beerasic Park. Trademarked and copyrighted. This “clever girl” greets you with the strong aroma of fruity hops and then attacks you from the sides with a sweet maltiness. “Hold on to your butts” as the complexity is taken up a notch when the expected fruitiness is immediately overshadowed by piney hops when tasting. I was pretty shocked, like just-launched-from-a-10,000-volt-electric-fence shocked. Large bottle and decent ABV can easily make you forget how to open doors. Seasonal release so get this before it goes extinct.
3. P-51 Imperial Porter – 8%abv
Wingman Brewers – Tacoma, WA
P-51 is about to commence Air-To-Ground combat on your taste buds. A frothy head that lingers like a caramel topping atop dark chocolate syrup in a glass. An aroma consisting of earthy tones, and nutty chocolate. Flavors of roasted, almost burned, malts, nuts, and cocoa dive-bomb your palate, leaving nothing but the subtle sweetness of berries and the mild, grassy bitterness of hops. Truly a well-balanced, medium body porter fit for a Four Star General.

Let’s Toast: Peach Mojitos

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The long, warm days of summer are fading fast, but before it’s too late try making these peach mojitos, or faux-jitos if that’s more your style. Since we have delicious, juicy peaches right now, making them with fresh peach puree is the way to go. But if it ends up being the middle of winter before you get around to making these, well, shame on you… just joking– you can make these with bottled peach nectar too! We got a little fancy and finely chopped some mint and mixed it with sugar to coat the rims of our jars. And while this step isn’t necessary, it ups the wow factor.

To make these mojitos you will need:

3 cups of peaches, peeled, pitted and chopped
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 cup lime juice
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups white rum
4 cups club soda, chilled
1/2 cup packed mint leaves
lime wedges for garnish

Place peaches in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Press peach puree through a fine sieve into a bowl and discard solids. In a large pitcher, combine zest, lime juice, sugar, and mint. Muddle the  juice mixture with the back of a long wooden spoon. Add the peach puree and rum to the pitcher, stirring until sugar dissolves. Mix in club soda. Serve over crushed ice. And garnish with lime wedges.

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Let’s Toast: Stone Fruit + Herb Sangria

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Peaches and plums and apricots, oh my! We have the most delicious local stone fruit in right now and since the weather doesn’t look like it’s cooling down anytime soon, here’s a recipe for a chilled sparkling sangria featuring the juiciest fruit of the season. If alcohol isn’t your thing, this is fantastic made with sparkling apple or pear cider too! It’s lovely made in a large pitcher and ladled into individual glasses with pieces of fruit and sprigs of herbs.
To make this drink you will need:
2 bottles of sparkling wine (like Prosecco or Champagne) or 2 bottles of sparkling cider
3 plums
3 apricots
2 peaches
2 nectarines
2-3 sprigs of rosemary
2-3 sprigs of thyme
Remove pits from fruit and cut into slices. In a large pitcher combine fruit, herbs and wine. Stir to combine.
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New Brew News: Gluten-Free Edition

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This edition of New Brew News will be focusing on some of our Gluten-Free selections.  Hopefully this will shed some light on what it is you’re drinking, and also maybe help you out when you want to try something different.
1. Redbridge – Anheuser-Busch
Sorghum Beer 4%abv

Redbridge is brewed in the style of a classic American Lager.  The smell is malty, the pour is a golden-brown, caramel color, and the body is crisp.  Upon tasting you get the light malty-ness of the lager with a quick hop(ish) bitterness in the way, way back.  There is nothing really crazy about this one; it’s just…well, beer.  It’s not bad though.  What else would you expect from Anheuser-Busch?  They certainly have consistency down to a science, and that is an admirable trait. There is one thing about this beer (not the beer itself, but the labeling) that strikes me as odd.  Nowhere on the package does it bear the “Certified GF” symbol.  This doesn’t mean that it is not a gluten-free beer, it just doesn’t have the symbol, which, I would think, AB would be all about showing off.  Also, corn syrup is listed as an ingredient for this beer, for those that are paying attention to that part of it.  On a positive note, Redbridge is partnering with the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA).  Their website doesn’t give any specific information about this, but they’re doing it. So that’s cool.
2.Dark Ale – Harvester Brewing
Porter style – 25 IBU’s, 5.6%

Unlike the previous three beers, Harvester is a legitimate micro-brewery.  Based in Portland, Harvester is a dedicated GF brewery and all of their equipment was purchased brand new and never used for anything but brewing gluten-free beer.  Oh yeah, and as much of their ingredients as possible are locally sourced.  The Dark Ale is in the style of an American Porter pouring dark brown and almost deep red color.  Very roasty, earthy, and nutty to the nose.  It’s brewed with chestnuts instead of barley so there is a very specific nutty taste combined with a little chocolate and coffee.  The flavor is carried all the way to the end with a little hoppiness and just lingers there on the back of the tongue until the next sip.  Harvester’s Dark Ale is definitely a different kind of beer with a very unique taste, but it’s one that I think you can get used to.  I chose the Dark Ale for this just to kind of round out the selection for these reviews, but the Harvester IPA’s are also very good, and it seems I can barely keep the seasonals stocked.
3.New Grist – Lakefront Brewery, Inc.

Pilsner Style – 17 IBU’s, 5.1%abv
New Grist was definitely my favorite out of the beers chosen.  Pours a straw yellow and smells of sweet malts and a whole lot of fruit.  like a lot a lot.  New Grist tastes a lot like it smells; malty and fruity.  Green apples galore.  Of course, you get the hops after everything to finish it off.  A very admirable pilsner for they are working with.  Fun fact: New Grist is one of the first gluten-free beers to be federally approved for brewing by the U.S. Government, officially creating the gluten-free category.  So yeah. New Grist. Light, crisp, apples, gluten-free.  Good stuff.

 

New Brew News

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1. Big Al Brewing – Seattle, WA
Rat City Blonde – 4% abv, 22 IBU’s
Still not quite sure why so many breweries go with “Rat City” for the name of one of their beers, but I guess some things are just meant to keep us wondering.  Besides, wasn’t it Shakespeare who wrote, “…a beer by any other name would smell as beer”? That’s what I thought.  So here we have Rat City Blonde from Big Al Brewing. Nice malty aroma, and dark, translucent yellow in color. Just a skosh of hops in the front but is quickly buried as to not upset the delicate balance. Hints at an Old English style lager in flavor, but has a little more “oompf” to it’s body. An easy drinker, great for grill watchin’ or lawn mowin’. For more about what Big Al Brewing has going on click here.
2. Uinta Brewing – Salt Lake City, UT
BABA Black Lager 4% abv
No hops. No bitter. No floral aromas. All beer. Black lagers these days are reminiscent of the old-style German dark beers known as schwarzbier.  A good one will take that smooth, crisp, and refreshing part of the lager (that we all love) and then hint at notes of coffee or chocolate like a stout or porter.  BABA does just that, and needless to say, this dude’s Schwartz is as big as the next guy’s.  This should be the summer beer for the dark beer drinker. To learn more about Uinta Brewing visit their website.
3. Ballast Point – San Diego, CA
Fathom IPL (India Pale Lager) – 7% abv
Oh Ballast Point, you’ve done it again.  This here is a brewery that is really starting to explore the possibilities of coloring outside the lines, and they are doing an incredible job of it.  From coffee porters to curry beer, Ballast Point has nailed them all.  Fathom is no exception.  Take the classic West Coast IPA flavor profile (bitter and floral hops, grapefruit, and pine) and combine that with the smooth and crisp drink-ability of a lager.  Never too hoppy, but always just enough to remind you it’s half IPA. Great for casual drinkers and IPA snobs alike. To learn more about the brews from Ballast Point click here.

Let’s Toast: Watermelon Cooler

WatermelonCooler Well, it looks like it’s finally warming up outside (we won’t hold our breath, though), and this simple recipe for a Watermelon Cooler is perfect. It can easily be made non-alcoholic by omitting the vodka.
To make this cocktail you will need:
3 pounds watermelon
2 tablespoons fresh mint
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 cups ginger ale
1/4 cup vodka
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
fresh mint and lime wedges for garnish
ice cubes
Puree watermelon in a food processor or blender. Muddle mint with sugar in a large pitcher and fill with ice cubes. Stir in 2 cups puree, ginger ale, vodka, and lime juice. Garnish with fresh mint and lime wedges.

Let’s Toast: Summer Shandy

SummerShandy1While it’s not officially summer for another eight-ish days, we think this Summer Shandy recipe is incredibly appropriate. It’s light and sweet and would make a great addition to your father’s day celebration. We are now carrying a great line of beer glasses from Spiegelau, which would make a great gift for Dad (or anyone who loves beer). The sets of glasses range from $29.99-$59.99.
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To make this recipe you will need:
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup  sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup sparkling water
48 oz. of chilled Hefeweizen (we used El Jefe… yum!), that’s 4 12 oz. bottles for the numerically challenged

Place lemon juice and sugar into a pitcher and stir. Add waters and continue to stir until sugar dissolves. Pour beer into chilled pint glasses and top each with a generous splash of sparkling lemonade. Serves 4.
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