Stocking Stuffers: Bar & Spirits
Our guide to the 16 best home bar- and spirits-related gifts under $50.
Our guide to the 16 best home bar- and spirits-related gifts under $50.
Finding the best craft brews in Scotland with the help of Glasgow's DryGate Brewery.
Scottish craft beer is in its infancy. But its brewers are pushing new boundaries, using complex hops from around the world to launch a glut of creativity.
If you heard Goose Island Beer Co. was coming into town with their upcoming Black Friday release of their Bourbon County Stout lineup, which features some of the most coveted beers brewed in the US, you’d expect a little fanfare. But when Mike Siegel, innovations manager for Goose Island, carried the lineup in for tasting, it was at room temperature and accompanied by little plastic cups, the sort any corner store would carry.
From the Archives: There are serious benefits to matching your glass to your beer. Here's our guide to the different types of glasses and the brews you should sip out of them.
Back in 2011 The Atlantic reported on "The Divisive Pumpkin Ale", alleging that the style had become synonymous with increasingly stale and overdone flavors. This is still the (very subjective) argument for people who loathe the stuff. But more and more brewers and beer enthusiasts argue beyond taste: they say that some pumpkin beer practices are bad for consumers and craft beer in general.
Fruit beers have long been the redheaded stepchildren of the beer world. But now American brewers are using more complex bases -- stouts, brown ales, rye ales and barleywines among others -- and taking cues from the Belgians, those oldest of fruit beer brewers, to harness the nation’s harvest, from pumpkins to pluots. These are the best fruit beers of their labor.
If you associate wheat beer with Blue Moon and a slice of orange, this is your primer to the world of American brewers doing something more with their wheat malt. They’re adding aromatic hops. They’re open fermenting. They're cultivating a beer that’s front-palate friendly with a full finish. These ten are perfect examples.
Leave it to an Alaskan to invent a new way to drink alcohol outdoors. Pat Tatera, the founder of Pat’s Backcountry Beverages, developed a system for carrying concentrated forms of both alcohol and soda into the wild for hikers to make their own carbonated beverages in minutes with the help of stream water and small carbonation pouches.
A little over two decades ago, Stephane Ostiguy and Jean-Francois Gravel met while studying science at McGill University. Neither got their degrees -- but they do make some of the best beer in the world at Dieu du Ciel, Montreal's best craft brewery.
There are serious benefits to matching your glass to your beer. Here's our guide to the different types of glasses and the brews you should sip out of them.
We interview Kelly Taylor, owner and operator of KelSo Beer Co., who recently made beer history by becoming the first American brewer to age beer in Jameson's coveted whiskey barrels.
Only in its seventh year, the American Craft Beer Festival is already the largest beer festival on the East Coast. Unlike the West Coast-dominated Great American Beer Festival, the American Craft Beer Festival isn’t a competition; brewers aren’t asked to pay for their booth space, and they are reimbursed for the beer they serve at the festival. This allows more smaller breweries to attend, and it also makes the festival something of a celebration of beer for beer’s sake.
GP correspondent Will McGough goes for a bike ride with beer pioneer Dale Katechis and ends up with a bloody elbow and an appreciation for the canned beer movement.
If you haven't yet joined the home brew revolution, you're missing out on a lot of fun. We test out one starting point, the one gallon home brew kit from Northern Brewer.
Ten different top poppers for ten different kinds of bottle-opening guys.
Not far from where Jesus converted water to wine, Israeli craft brewers are trying their hand at beer. GP editor Jeremy Berger tippled quite a few and came away with a good set of recommendations.
Good weird beers tend to be the rare finds of the beer world, ones that get secreted away to age in dark cellars or traded with like-minded drinkers for other legendary brews. But every year craft fans get a chance to pay admission to a free-for-all zoo of the wildest ones, captured and served at the raucous drunken atmosphere of the Extreme Beer Festival in Boston, Mass.
The winners of their respective divisions -- Sam Adams, Guinness, Natural Light and Steel Reserve -- match up in the Final Four of the Mass Market Beer Tournament, and we crown a champion.
The battle of the lights: Bud, Corona, Natural, Busch, Coors, Keystone, Michelob, Miller. Who will come out on top -- and will we even be able to taste the difference?
Dive bars face a tug-of-war: they're either worshiped or ostracized. This must stop. Dive bars are just like any other bar -- plus or minus a few roaches and/or bathroom stall sex stories -- in that "good" or "bad" depends on who's asking. Whatever your cup of tea, we contest simply that "dive" not be used to describe a place that sucks: it should be a place that sucks with vigor, or with style, or with crassness. Here are the sordid watering holes that our staff believes, in their slightly perverse estimations, capture the true spirit of the dive bar.
The top selling malt liquors, ciders and flavored beers in America meet in an NCAA tournament of blind taste tests to find the best in the business. We're talking about both Bud Light Lime Straw-Ber-Rita and Lime-A-Rita; we're talking about Bud Light Lime; we're talking about Colt 45, Steel Reserve, Angry Orchard and Woodchuck. We're talking about a fiasco.
We explore drinking culture from around the world to bring you the best five customs and oddities we could find -- from beer-chugging Prime Ministers, to drinking and driving (don't do it), to the biggest party in Iceland and more.
In the Imported Division of the Mass Market Beer Tournament, our blind tasters pick the their favorites and grant a Final Four berth to the best in the division. This round, it's between Corona Extra, Guinness, Heineken, Modelo Especial, Labatt Blue, Newcastle Brown Ale, Stella Artois and Sapporo.
We kick off the Mass Market Beer Tournament with the Domestic Division. It's a blind tasting fight to the finish (and a Final Four berth) between Budweiser, Sam Adams, Yuengling, PBR, Miller High Life, Blue Moon, Coors Banquet and PBR.
Put a Heady Topper next to a Busch. One of the beers is craft, and the other is not. Why? When does a beer stop being craft? Who wrote the current definition, and why did they define craft like they did? Part of the answer, it turns out, involves two breweries you know.
We got down from our high horse, if only for a second, to judge the best of the generic, watery and cheap mass market beers. How exactly? It has to do with seeding a total of 34 beers into four divisions and holding an NCAA-style tournament of blind tastings in order to declare a winner. Read on for all the details and a preview of next week's madness.
Over the past 20 years, the way to make a double IPA (otherwise known as DIPA or “imperial IPA”) hasn't really changed: roughly double the ingredients that would go into a normal IPA and you get a double IPA. As the weather changes, more and more stores begin cellaring their heavy winter stouts and replacing them with these hop- and malt-forward beasts. For those looking to expand their palates, doubles offer the citrus hop and bready malt flavors of regular IPAs, but amplified, and with plenty more complexity to spare. We tasted ten of our favorites.
A fair amount of people in this country drink gluten-free by necessity, and that's not even counting those who do it by choice. But when you tinker with malt, one of the four main ingredients in beer and the one that activates the autoimmune response in those with celiac disease, does the resulting product still taste like beer? And if so, how does it hold up against more traditional counterparts? To find out, we put ten gluten-free beers to a blind taste test.
One of the sublime joys of a tropical vacation is the beer. I’m not talking about anything you can find at your corner liquor store in Manhattan (Kansas or New York), or even those Mexican imports with the clever TV ads. I’m talking about the ones that come in brown bottles with peeling labels and caps that you knock off on the edge of a table, beers with names like Belikin, Polar, Banks, Sands, Sol, Belashi, Kalik or Three Coins.
Because their flavor profiles range from hearty to downright bacon-filled savoriness, Rauchbiers -- especially smoked porters -- are the perfect winter beer, sipped alone or paired with charred meats. Crack one of these five in your living room in front of a roaring fire; if you don't have a fireplace, it won't be hard to imagine one.
Though Dogfish Head currently produces 33 beers, 65 percent of their sales come from their five "continuously hopped" IPAs -- the 60, Sixty-One, 75, 90 and 120 Minute. We tasted them all, in numerical order, and learned much more about Dogfish Head, and craft beer in general, than we expected.
On November 9th, we asked K.B. Gould and Henry Phillips to make a fall pilgrimage to the Alchemist Brewery in Waterbury, Vermont. The closing of the brewery's retail operation loomed just days away. Joined by driver Dave Watson, the two accepted their assignment: visit the home of Heady Topper, one of the highest-rated beers in the world, to pay homage to its brewmasters, enjoy a taste and a tour and scrounge a rare case. This is the chronicle of their trip.
You ever have one of those ideas that seems really good at the time? Like, let's drop these broken speakers down a flight of stairs, or let's jump into the mosh pit at a Machinehead concert, or let's see if we can lure that deer into the car? Just last weekend, I thought it would be a good idea to taste-test a whole load of Russian Imperial Stouts. If you're not familiar with the style, it's characterized by high ABVs and huge chocolate, coffee and malt flavors. Although they're monstrously strong and typically expensive, Russian Imperial Stouts push the flavor intensity spectrum, offering a look at the sultry, heady, muscly side of beer. For those willing to experiment, they offer a variety of smells, flavors and textures found in few other styles of beer. But take note: if you're going to try them, don't make it a marathon. Give them the credit that they deserve. Still, from the pain of my hangover emerged this list of our favorite Russian Imperial Stouts.
What to call a man who obsesses over alcohol? A connoisseur? A fanatic? A drunk? We call him The Mixologist, and you know him well. He’s the man whose cupboards are stocked with more bitters than spices, whose basement is reeking of homebrew, whose glass is always half-full -- at least. And yours too, for the Mixologist prides himself in the cocktails he makes and the beer he serves. He’s an enabler of fun, an anti-Scrooge, a Holiday MVP. He’s every character in Billy Joel’s Piano Man -- in fact, he does a mean Billy Joel if the night goes late enough. So cheers to The Mixologist. Here are a few gifts he'll cheers to.
Normally, we like our fruity beers fruity and our dark beers dark, period. But we managed to get our hands on a bottle of 10 Barrel/Bluejacket/Stone Suede Imperial Porter -- which comes in a sexy brown and purple bomber -- before the official October 7th release, and were pleasantly surprised at the result.
Seventeen years is a long time to experiment. That's evident in Stone's 17th Anniversary Götterdämmerung IPA, a beer with a name that means "the twilight of the gods" (in this case, meaning "the end of the world") and shares its title with a Wagner opera. This nomenclature lends an impression of serious clout, and in many ways it's warranted.
DC has its downsides. It's not a state. Traffic is depression inducing. The city is built on a swamp and has the clime to match. The poor folks who reside there have to deal with the assholes who run our country. But add to the list of good things (it really is a long list, despite our recent pessimism) DC Brau, the home-town brewery for our nation's capitol, which besides this one, has surprisingly little beer to offer. We recently got a chance to try all three of their flagship brews.
Selecting our favorite domestic craft beer was rather like selecting a favorite child: really not that hard, but bound to incite debate. Discussion of beer, like children, brings about a certain sentimentality — nostalgia, even — for the dogged unsophistication and everyman appeal of the malted beverage. Pitting our favorite beers against one another in...
I entered the portion of the bar sectioned off for the Craft Your Senses event, handing my ticket to the hostess as I ducked behind the curtain. It was dimly lit and already teeming with a boisterous crowd surrounding each of the seven independent breweries present. Conversation starters were being poured and enjoyed at each...
It felt good to finish a successful 64-beer tournament. Partly because our bladders were feeling the pressure after lots of beer samples, but mostly because we got to crown a winner. 64 beers -- Vienna-style lagers, IPAs, imperial stouts, wheat ales, barleywines, pale ales -- under one bar's roof is chaos (delicious, delicious chaos). But picking one as the absolute best is as singularly satisfying as the tick-hiss of popped bottle cap. The final two competitors prove we did something right. Founders Breakfast Stout and Victory Prima Pils make drinkers happy, and they make brewers happy. They're delicious, complex, drinkable and extremely accessible to beer fans; they're also the epitome of two foundational styles, perfect examples of what excellent American craft brewing can create.
Malted Madness is a celebration of beer. Largely, we've glorified suds through our favorite medium: bloodthirsty head-to-head competition. Now, though, we pay homage to the most foundational of beer's values... enjoyment. We asked our staff to remember the most memorable water, malt and hops they'd ever had and recorded their misty-eyed reminiscences. What we found -- unsurprisingly -- was that the true measure of beer is often when and where it's enjoyed, and who with.
"You're all winners in my book". Overused by little league coaches everywhere, it's a turn of phrase that doesn't even trick children. You think little Tommy really believes he's a winner? He might've been picking his nose absentmindedly when the winning run dribbled right by him, but he's not stupid. So we won't apply it to this tournament, dammit. Call us over-competitive, but just because a beer made our list of 64 great beers doesn't mean it's a champ. It's been a rocky road (see the whole bracket here), and some excellent brews have gone down swinging: Bell's Two Hearted Ale, Rogue Dead Guy, Oskar Blues Ten FIDY, Lost Abbey Deliverance, even eminent Pliny the Elder, perfect by BeerAdvocate and RateBeer standards. But they're out, without a second chance between them. The closest things to winners -- beyond the actual champion, that is -- will be the final four beers, a.k.a. the top dogs of the Lager, Light Ale, Dark Ale and Et Al. styles.
Ah, the round of sixteen. Narrowed down to a quarter of our original beers, the Malted Madness field (see the whole bracket here) has been cleared of those excellent beers with even a muted set of flaws. What remains is a clash of subtle differences, muddied everywhere by the trouble of putting slightly different (sometimes, vastly different) styles head-to-head. The process wasn't pretty -- but how can tasting 16 of the best beers we've ever imbibed not be beautiful? Mind you, we still didn't know which beers were moving on. What was abundantly clear, however, was that the "As" and "Bs" we had given the nod so far were damn good. Decision depression was at an all-time high, and we all defaulted to our overarching rule, beyond judgement of appearance, smell, taste and mouthfeel: Which beer would you rather drink?