beer + wine + spirits

What to Drink in a Polar Vortex

polar vortex photo via nasa.gov

polar vortex photo via nasa.gov

 

That nice hot cup of tea could actually be making you colder.
Alcohol? It might feel warm going down, but it’s just about the worst thing you can drink on a cold night. And these nights are really, really cold.

The frigid air holding us in its stinging embrace is the ominously-named polar vortex that slipped away from its arctic perch. It’s shown us how woefully unprepared we are for the record cold temperatures we’re experiencing. We’re particularly misinformed when it comes to choosing winter warmup drinks. It seems to defy logic, but a cold beverage can help you hang on to body heat better than a hot one.

When you drink a hot beverage on a cold day, you feel warmer at first because the hot liquid increases blood flow to the skin, but the body’s regulating mechanisms kick in and quickly turn things around. A hot drink tells the nerve receptors in your mouth that things are getting hot in there and it automatically turns on a cooling response. Basically it makes you sweat, which is a welcome response in warm weather when the perspiration carries heat out of your body and into the atmosphere. But right now, the goal is to keep that body heat tucked away in your core.

A cold drink has the opposite effect. There’s some brief chilling while the liquid is going down, but instead of opening up the sweat glands on your skin, the cold causes blood vessels to contract and your surface skin actually tightens up. Less blood flows through the constricted outer layers of skin, which leaves more to circulate through critical core areas. You might get shivery from the surface chill, but that’s not a bad thing; it just means your muscles are trying to balance the cold surface by creating even more core heat.

If constricted blood vessels protect your body’s core temperature, it follows that beverages that can dilate blood vessels are a bad idea in freezing weather, which is what makes alcoholic beverages so dangerous. Drinking increases the blood flow to your skin; that’s why your cheeks are flushed and you have a warm glow inside and out. It’s deceptive though, because all of that peripheral heat comes at the expense of your vital organs. And the body has no need to shiver because the muscles near the surface are warm. If you venture outside, the shallow surface heat dissipates quickly and your core temperature, which is already lower than it should be, will continue to drop. It’s a surprisingly narrow margin between a safe core temperature (the standard 98.6°) and hypothermia (95°), and alcohol gives you a big head start. Just a few boozy minutes spent outside in polar vortex conditions can get you there.

Can a couple of billion subcontinental residents be wrong?
Remember that most of the world drinks hot tea in hot weather, and Alaska leads the nation in per capita ice cream consumption. It’s counterintuitive but true—hot drinks cool you down and cold drinks warm you up.
In the midst of a polar vortex, when you hear the clink of ice cubes in a tall glass, you know you’re about to get toasty.

 

 

 

Posted in beer + wine + spirits, food knowledge, Health | 2 Comments

Learn to Speak Conversational Whisky

 

Rocks glasses via Vital Etsy shop

Rocks glasses via Vital Etsy shop

 

Whisky is having its moment. You don’t want to miss out.
Fortunately, a little knowledge can take you far when it comes to parsing the jargon of mashes, malts, and barrels.

Whiskey is…
an alcoholic beverage distilled from fermented grain. Beer comes from fermented grains but isn’t concentrated by distillation, and other spirits like vodka and rum are distilled but can be made from things like potatoes and sugarcane. Usually whisky is made from barley, rye, wheat, or corn, and usually it’s aged in wooden barrels. It has to be at least 40% alcohol by volume, but pretty much everything else is fair game.

Some of them are malt whiskies.
This just means the whisky is distilled from malted grains—grains that are sprouted and dried to give them a kind of sweet and yeasty quality.

Scotch is…
at its most basic, just one of a number of whisky styles. But you see all the fuss and fanaticism surrounding Scotch so you know that there’s got to be more to it. And there is. There are all sorts of technical specifications that define and distinguish Scotch whisky, and if you really need to know them you can pay a visit to the website of the Scotch Whisky Association. For now, you can get up and running with this: a single malt Scotch is bottled from one batch of whisky, is made from one grain (malted barley), and comes from one distillery. More than one batch, more than one grain, more than one distillery—you’re talking about a blended Scotch. Batches might even be identified down to the individual barrel or cask. And the real deal has to come from Scotland.

Does that mean Irish whiskey is …
Yup! Pretty much the same thing only from Ireland. And they like to put an ‘e’ in there.
True fans of Scotch whisky would take exception with the notion, and it’s true that the Irish Whiskey Society gives distillers more leeway when it comes to the variables, but we’re still talking about single malts and blends of wood-aged malted barley.

There’s Scotch whisky and Irish whiskey; bourbon is by definition an American whisky. 
Corn is required to be the predominant grain in bourbon, and it has to be aged in virgin barrels of charred oak. It’s called sour mash if fermented grains from past whisky batches were added to the fresh grains of the new batch before distilling. It’s analogous to sourdough bread where the loaves can contain cultures from an age-old fermented ’mother dough.’ Sourdough bread, though, really does taste sour, and sour mash doesn’t tart up the taste of bourbon.

Kentucky bourbon…
doesn’t have to come from Kentucky, although Tennessee bourbon does have to come from Tennessee, but they don’t call it bourbon. It’s whiskey, and for some reason the ‘e’ makes another appearance. Got that?

Then there’s rye whiskey.
Rye whiskey used to be known as Canadian whisky, and the terms are still used interchangeably, even though there might not be any actual rye in the multi-grain mash. These days, when someone says ‘rye’ they’re most likely talking about American rye whiskey (there’s that irrepressible ‘e’ again). Except for the grains, rye is identical to bourbon, but the grains make all the difference. Corn gives bourbon a sweetness and fuller body, while rye whiskey has a lighter, fruitier, spicier profile.

Irish Whiskey, Scotch, Bourbon and Rye
These are the fundamentals of the whisky lexicon.
Sure, there’s a lot more to it. There are Lowlands and Highlands and peat smoking and vatted malts. There are whiskies from Japan and Czechoslovakia and Australia, and Danish single malts made with water from the Greenlandic ice sheet and Indian whiskies distilled from fermented molasses. 
So you won’t be whisky-fluent, but with this little lesson you will be whisky-conversant.

 

 

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How Wall Street Is Messing With the Price of Beer

beerfund

It’s been a rough run for the U.S. economy in recent years.
One of the few bright spots is the price of beer. The U.S. has the most affordable beer on the planet.

Americans can point with pride to a study published in The Economist Online.
Based on median hourly wages and average beer prices, it takes just five minutes of an American worker’s time to earn a cold one. Prices are lower in plenty of countries, but their wages are even more so. The average across 150 countries is 20 minutes of work to pay for a beer, and in some parts of Asia it can be close to an hour.

But there’s a proposed monopoly that threatens the American way of life.  
Anheuser-Busch InBev wants to take over Grupo Modelo of Mexico (Corona beer), which would leave the country with just two companies (the second being MillerCoors) controlling half of the U.S. beer business. The Justice Department filed a lawsuit to prevent the merger. It has a pretty good case against the proposal, arguing that the marriage of Budweiser and Corona’s parent companies would eliminate competition between the rivals and lead to higher beer prices for Americans.

The brewing industry has already been consolidating like crazy for years. The number of major brewers in the U.S. fell from 48 in 1980 to just two after a mega-merger in 2008. Global Beer: The Road to Monopoly, a study from the American Antitrust Institute, shows how beer price increases started to accelerate immediately after 2008, with Anheuser-Busch leading the charge. Anheuser-Busch has kept prices high for decades by threatening a price war against any American brewer that breaks ranks and lowers prices, and the memory of retail bloodbaths in the 1980′s has kept them all in line. Grupo Modelo has been able to grab a lot of U.S. market share for its flagship Corona brand by keeping its prices stable. If Busch goes through with the purchase of Modelo that competition disappears, and pressure to keep prices down disappears along with it.

There’s also pricing pressure coming from everyone’s favorite Wall Street shakedown artists.
Last week the New York Times reported on an aluminum hoarding scheme perpetrated by Goldman Sachs that is bidding up the price of beverage cans. Apparently some Goldman analysts stumbled across a loophole in the arcane system of aluminum pricing. When they learned that storage times are factored into metal market prices, they realized that a killing could be made by buying up aluminum and lengthening the storage time. But since it’s not entirely legal to just sit on a stockpile of metal, Goldman Sachs designed a massive shell game.

Three years ago Goldman bought up a major storage system of 27 aluminum warehouses. Every day, a fleet of trucks shuffles 1,500-pound bars of the metal among the warehouses. They load up in one warehouse and unload in another, sometimes making multiple circuits with the same bars in a single day, and each time they get to add a little rent charge to the price of the metal. The daily dance of the aluminum has stretched out average storage times from six weeks to more than 16 month. The scheme has earned $5 billion for Goldman Sachs over its three years, and the inflated rent charge ends up added to the cost of every can of beer.

At least we can shop wisely.    
SaveOnBrew 
calls itself the world’s only reliable beer price search engine. Instead of erratic and unreliable crowdsourced data supplied by drinkers, SaveOnBrew gathers its pricing data directly from brewers and retailers and publishes up-to-date, reliable beer pricing data sets for every single zip code in America.

 

 

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Wine + Coca Cola = Quelle Horreur!

 

 

Coca-Cola Bottle Cap Wine Bottle Stopper via WillowbendCottage Etsy Store

Coca-Cola Bottle Cap Wine Bottle Stopper via Willowbend Cottage Etsy Store

 

So much for that famous French snobbery.
The ungodly combination of red wine and cola is this summer’s newly popular refreshment. Hausmann Famille, a branch of the French winemaker Châteaux en Bordeaux, has introduced Rouge Sucette—which translates as Red Lollipop—a blend of 75% wine with 25% sugar, water, and cola.

Wine consumption is in a free fall.
Wine was always served with dinner. For generations of French drinkers it was a daily occurrence, the norm for a majority of French citizens. Today the number of daily wine drinkers has fallen to 17%, with 38% reporting that they never drink wine at all.

Wine and Coke is nothing new.
In Argentina it’s known as Jesus juice; South Africans call it katemba; Croatians mix bambus; and in Chile the combination is known as jote. It’s most widely drunk in Spain where it’s a sort of unofficial symbol of Basque culture. It’s believed to have originated there as a cheap method for making rough, local wines more palatable.

To the French, the mixture’s history just serves to compound the indignity.
The country is fighting an uphill battle to preserve its culinary heritage. Earlier this spring the government imposed a ketchup ban on all French school cafeterias, fearing that the nation’s distinguished cuisine is being buried—literally and metaphorically—under a flood of foreign influences. And now wine flavored with sugar and cola has captivated a younger generation’s sweet tooth while masking the true nature of their vaunted varietals.

None for me, thanks, but if you feel the need…
Don’t bother looking for Rouge Sucette on these shores. It retails in France for barely three euros a bottle; hardly worth shipping, especially when we have plenty of our own liters of Coke and Two Buck Chuck.

A better idea is to order yourself a Spodee and Sody, a red wine and Coca-Cola cocktail based on Spodee, the latest of the hip spirits from the makers of trendy Hendricks Gin and Sailor Jerry rum. On its own, Spodee is a rather tasty and strongly fortified concoction of wine, cocoa, and some kind of moonshine liquor. The mix of grape and chocolate flavors end up tasting a little like Raisinets, but with a 36 proof kick.

 

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Move Over, Frozen Water. Make Way For Ice.

War Department photo, 1918, via Wikimedia Commons

from the records of the War Department, 1918, via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Mealtime is a little different out there, but traveling Americans are ready to adapt.
They’ll sit on the floor, have cheese for dessert, eat with chopsticks, or follow the main course with salad. Still, most Americans draw the line at room temperature soft drinks. We can assume the locals are refreshed by lukewarm Coca Cola, since that’s the beverage of choice in much of the world, even when the thermometer hits 32° (that would be 90° to you and me). Ask for ice and best case is a few tiny slivers that barely make a dent in the tepid beverage; more likely the request is met with a blank stare.

Here in the land of plenty we take ice for granted. We expect it in our soft drinks and in every glass of water in every restaurant. We can count on an ice machine in the hallway and an ice bucket in every room of every hotel and motel from coast to coast. Our home refrigerators dispense a continual stream of ice and when there’s a party we buy extra bags to fill buckets and tubs.

The current ice age.
Still, we’ve never seen anything like the current fascination with luxury ice. The present-day renaissance of cocktail culture encourages fetishistic scrutiny of every aspect of mixed drinks. We’re drinking single malt and small batch whiskeys, exotically flavored infusions, hand crafted bitters, and yes, artisanal ice.  It’s colorless and tasteless, but it seems that all ice is not created equal. The cubes in your freezer (and many bars and restaurants) are clouded with bubbles and cracks, while the premium stuff is dense and clear, so it melts slower and won’t water down your drink as quickly.

Bars and restaurants now have ice programs and some have turned to a new breed of boutique ice makers like Favourite Ice and Névé that charge 50 to 70 cents per two-by-two inch cube. You might find a single tennis ball-sized sphere for scotch on the rocks, gin and tonic in a highball glass chilled by height-appropriate tube-shaped ice, and hand-chipped bits crushed in muslin (to capture the rogue particles) for the perfect julep.

Then there’s glacial ice, in a league all its own. It’s true that thousands of years of geographic pressure create extremely dense ice that stays cold longer and melts more slowly than man-made, but the premium is really charged for its mystique. Marketers tout the purity of water that was frozen before it could absorb the atmospheric taints of the modern era. They speak of the magic of its hisses and pops as entombed air is released from the core of the melting ice—the pristine air of a lost age, never before breathed in by man. The market for glacial ice is so lucrative that ice poachers have gone after protected glaciers around the globe.

And you thought ice was just frozen water.

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Stay Hydrated. Drink Beer Cocktails.

 

beerbottle martini glass

 

Forget everything you’ve been told about mixing your alcohol.
You should drink beer with cocktails. In fact you should drink beer in your cocktails.
Beer cocktails have been popping up with greater frequency for a few years, and this summer, as warmer temperatures settle in, they’ve really taken off.

There’s nothing new about beer sharing a glass with spirits and mixers.
Visitors to Mexico are familiar with the Michelada (and its regional Chelada variations) which is beer mixed with lemon or lime juice, salt, Worcestershire and hot sauces. Germans have the Gose mit Kümmellikör with a shot of spiced Kümmel liqueur in a glass of beer. The Shandy, popular in the U.K., covers a lot of territory combining beer in equal parts with ginger ale, lemonade, cider, or just another type of beer, like a stout and ale Black and Tan. And of course the U.S. has the Boilermaker, a long-time staple of working-class bars combining beer with a shot of whiskey.

What’s new is the craft.
The twin movements of craft beer and craft cocktails have given new life to beer cocktails. Today’s drinkers crave quality and variety. They’re always on the lookout for new ingredients and flavors, and the craft brewing and distilling industries are happy to oblige. Innovative mixologists are finding new ways to use them, creating original cocktails from high-quality spirits, house-made syrups, spices, fresh squeezed fruit juices, and craft-made beer with plenty of character.

Canny flavor combinations or abominable crimes against beer?
Purists argue that beer is already a perfectly crafted cocktail of barley, hops, yeast, and water. They see no gain in plonking more booze and fussy mixers into a well-made brew. Mixologists counter resistance by arguing that well-chosen additions will complement rather than disguise a beer’s flavor. The more complex the beer, the more avenues of taste opportunities it offers: a touch of citrus will cut through the heaviness of a pale ale; a light and sweet wheat beer is balanced by the bite of Vermouth or Campari; and the botanicals in gin can accentuate the lightly-hoppy nuances of a lager.

Cocktail traditionalists also balk at tampering.
Any addition to spirits, even ice or a splash of water, is sacrilege to a certain type of aficionado. Beer cocktails are probably not for them, and indeed none of us should be messing with a 21 year-old Macallan. But there are plenty of spirits that will benefit from beer in the same way that any well-chosen mixer can transform them into a cocktail that’s greater than the sum of its parts. A splash of beer will add effervescence without watering down a cocktail like club soda or sweetening it like ginger ale; the malt and yeast can cut the sugar in fruity drinks and stand up to the spice in pepper-spiked cocktails. When well-matched, even the beer-averse can appreciate the finishing touch of flavor and complexity.

An open mind and palate can pay off with some intriguing flavors.
Bartenders love experimenting with beer’s endless array of tastes and styles, and drinkers appreciate the novelty as well as the larger glasses and thirst-quenching power it brings to mixed drinks. The union is not for everyone, but you’re going to be seeing a lot of beer in cocktails this summer.

Buzzfeed shares 26 Drinks That Prove Mixing Beer Is A Great Idea .

Just don’t test out any of those 26 drinks in Nebraska, the only state where it’s illegal to serve cocktails that combine liquor and beer. The law is a holdover from Prohibition when Nebraskans were known to spike their legal, non-alcoholic beer with liquor.

 

 

 

 

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Online Wine Shopping: Let the Algorithm Do the Picking

image by Jomphong via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

image by Jomphong via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

Would you trust a computer to choose your wine?
There’s a new generation of wine sellers counting on it.

Wine has been a tough sale online.
Wine shopping is daunting even in a traditional, bricks and mortar wine shop, where most customers wander the aisles a while and then end up grabbing an old favorite, an eye-catching label, or whatever’s on sale, with finger’s crossed that it won’t disappoint. It can be even more overwhelming online where the selection is inexhaustible and you don’t have store displays to cue you. Add to that a regulatory maze of interstate shipping laws, and by 2007, online sales were a piddling 3% of retail wine sales.

In the last few years, the internet has blossomed into a virtual vineyard.
Wine has benefited enormously from the rise of social media. There are thousands of online wine groups sharing tasting notes, alerting members to flash sale sites like Lot 18, and holding virtual wine tastings where on the count of three everybody uncorks and sips the same bottle. You can order wine for your Facebook friends through that site’s birthday reminders, and even Amazon, twice burned by failed wine-selling ventures, has jumped back in.

To succeed online, wine sites have to be more than just digital catalogs. Wine is consumed experientially, and in that sense its purchase has more in common with music or movies than with, say, a pair of shoes. That’s why the new generation of wine sellers looked not to Zappo’s but to Netflix for their sales model. And the secret sauce of the wildly successful video service is in the predictive algorithms that fuel their recommendations.

Online shopping has always run on recommendation engines.
The innovation was pioneered by Amazon, where now you’ll find them integrated into every inch of the shopping experience. From the home page through to the last click at checkout, Amazon beseeches you to consider ‘Frequently Bought Together’ items, ‘Customers Who Bought this Item Also Bought,’ and the less persuasive ‘Customers Who Viewed this Item Also Viewed,’ as well as ‘Sponsored Links,’ ‘Product Ads from External Websites,’ and a sidebar of  ’More Buying Choices.’ Amazon’s algorithms skew toward building recommendation lists from items ordered by similar customer profiles. All the come-ons feel a bit like a traveling salesman with a foot stuck in your front door telling you about the vacuum cleaner your neighbor just bought.

Wine, like DVDs, requires more finesse.
Using its peer-to-peer comparative algorithms, Amazon derives a reported 10% of its book sales through recommendations on the site, while at Netflix recommendations drive 75% of the video viewing. Netflix accomplishes this through its algorithms, which turn an infinite buffet of data into a highly personalized, user-friendly experience. Instead of comparative recommendations, it builds individual profiles based on each customer’s individual preferences. It’s constantly throwing DVD titles at you, always asking your opinion about what you watch both on the service and elsewhere. Like Netflix, the new wine recommendation engines run on ratings. They build taste a profile based on what you’ve enjoyed in the past, and continually tinker with the profile as you rate your new wine purchases. And unlike Netflix, where the queue can get clogged with the entire Toy Story oeuvre, you don’t have to share this with your kids.

I’ll have what the MacBook Pro is having.
Try one of the new digital sommeliers:

Wine start-up Taste Factor, which compares the complexity of its recommendation engine to NASA, is like a custom wine-of-the-month club. Sign up for the subscription service and you get a starter pack of wine to rate. Your feedback establishes a tasting baseline, which is refined after subsequent monthly shipments, each of which is uniquely chosen for you.

Instead of NASA, Club W feels more like an online dating service. You start with a questionnaire—not about wine but lifestyle questions and details like how you take your coffee. The screen fills with potential matches, and you choose the ones that look good to you.

WineSimple also starts with a quiz to build each individual consumer taste profile. The geo-servicing phone app doesn’t sell wine, but it lets you know when you’re in a shop or restaurant that carries one of your recommended bottles.

 

 

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Fun Facts About Guns in Bars and Restaurants

porcelain pistol by Yvonne Lee Schultz

porcelain pistol by Yvonne Lee Schultz

 

There’s a lot of talk about gun control at the state and federal level. Let’s talk about guns on a personal level that affects all of us: in bars and restaurants.

  • Fun Fact: Red state or blue—it makes no difference. Nearly every state throws its bar and restaurant doors open to gun-toting customers.

There’ve been some changes in the wake of December’s tragic shootings in Newtown; just not the kind you might expect. With bills pending in a number of state legislatures, we’ll soon see a majority of states explicitly allow residents to bring concealed and open-carry guns into bars and restaurants, while another 20 states continue to allow them by default.

  • Fun Fact: Tennessee State Representative Curry Todd served time this year for drunk driving and possession of a handgun while under the influence of alcohol. He had previously worked tirelessly as the sponsor of the nation’s first guns-in-bars law, which Tennessee passed in 2009.

These laws are the latest wave in the country’s gun debate, and represent progress made by the gun lobby as it seeks, state by state, to expand the realm of guns in everyday life.

Mixing guns and alcohol: this is truly the logic of the madhouse.
A very large body of research tells us that people who abuse alcohol are far more inclined to engage in risky behaviors, and gun owners are more likely to fall into that group:

  • Fun Fact: Compared to people who don’t keep guns in the home, gun owners are twice as likely to down five or more drinks in a single sitting; they’re nearly two-and-a-half times more likely to get behind the wheel of a car when drinking; and they consume 60 or more drinks per month at more than double the rate of non-owners.

Looking for a 3-star gun-free bistro for Saturday night?
Restaurants are free to post signs banning weapons, and recommendation sites like Yelp now include ratings for gun-free dining. Of course concealed weapons make compliance kind of iffy. Unarmed Tennessee residents rely on the listings at not-for-profit Gun Free Dining Tennessee (their motto: Eat in peace) while the NRA crowd visits GunBurger.com (protecting the Second Amendment one bite at a time).

For all the fun facts, there’s nothing trivial about the dangerous mix of alcohol and firearms.
Americans own more than 300 million non-military weapons. There are more than 40,000 gun-related deaths every year, and one in three involves alcohol.

Are there guns in your local restaurants? The NRA website has an interactive, state-by-state map of current firearm laws.

 

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How Much Will That Beer Cost You?

price_of_beer_button_red-p145996141209409970q37f_400

It’s been a rough run for the U.S. economy in recent years.
One of the few bright spots is the price of beer. The U.S. has the most affordable beer on the planet.

Americans can point with pride to a study published in The Economist Online.
Based on median hourly wages and average beer prices, it takes just five minutes of an American worker’s time to earn a cold one. Prices are lower in plenty of countries, but their wages are even more so. The average across 150 countries is 20 minutes of work to pay for a beer, and in some parts of Asia it can be close to an hour.

But there’s a threat to the American way of life.  
Last week the Obama administration filed a lawsuit in Washington’s district court to block a proposed beer industry merger. Anheuser-Busch InBev wants to take over Grupo Modelo of Mexico (Corona beer), which would leave the country with just two companies (the second being MillerCoors) controlling more than 70% of the U.S. beer business. The Justice Department has made a pretty compelling case against it, arguing that the marriage of Budweiser and Corona’s parent companies would eliminate competition between the rivals and lead to higher beer prices for Americans.

The brewing industry has already been consolidating like crazy for years. The number of major brewers in the U.S. fell from 48 in 1980 to just two after a mega-merger in 2008.  Global Beer: The Road to Monopoly, a study from the American Antitrust Institute, shows how beer price increases started to accelerate immediately after 2008, with Anheuser-Busch leading the charge. Anheuser-Busch has kept prices high for decades by threatening a price war against any American brewer that breaks ranks and lowers prices, and the memory of retail bloodbaths in the 1980′s has kept them all in line. Grupo Modelo has been able to grab a lot of U.S. market share for its flagship Corona brand by keeping its prices stable. If Busch goes through with the purchase of Modelo that competition disappears, and the Justice Department predicts higher prices for everyone.

Never overpay again. 
SaveOnBrew 
calls itself the world’s only reliable beer price search engine. Instead of erratic and unreliable crowdsourced data supplied by drinkers, SaveOnBrew gathers its pricing data directly from brewers and retailers and publishes up-to-date, reliable beer pricing data sets for every single zip code in America.

 

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Make Your Own Gin (no bathtub necessary)

 

Homemade-Gin-Kit-4

[image via The HomeMade Gin Kit]

 

Gin is just vodka with some added flavorings.
Sorry, gin aficionados, but it’s true. The gin might find itself retailing for a few times the vodka price in a handblown crystal bottle with a bejeweled stopper, but they both started life as the same, un-aged, flavorless, grain alcohol.

That’s why it’s so easy to make your own gin.Commercial gin producers start by distilling grain into the vodka-esque base. Most producers will put it through a second distillation to get the flavoring in there in vapor form, but some will simply flavor it and bottle it. That’s what you’re going to do, and it makes a perfectly respectable gin, especially since you get to flavor it to your liking.

Home distilling is illegal.
In fact it’s illegal in every single country in the world, with the sole exception of New Zealand. No worries though, because there’s plenty of inexpensive, already distilled, neutral-tasting alcohol to use as your base. In other words, you’re going to start with some cheap vodka.

The basic recipe is no more complicated than making tea. You soak juniper berries, coriander, and citrus peel in the vodka and strain them out when it’s flavored. A funnel and cheesecloth will do, although a Brita-type filter pitcher is even better (and as any budget-conscious cocktail lover knows, an initial run through the Brita does wonders for inferior vodka).

Premium gins are distinguished by subtle differences in their taste profiles—Tanqueray is pungent with juniper, Bombay Sapphire has a hint of licorice, Hendrick’s tastes like cucumbers—but the precise blend of spices and botanicals in each is usually a closely guarded secret. Homemade gin gives you license to experiment. You can spice it up with dried chiles and peppercorns; warm it with spices like star anise, cloves, and cinnamon sticks; and add herbal, fruit, or floral notes.

Aspiring mixologist types that don’t know where to start can buy a gin-making kit complete with a pre-mixed blend of spices, botanicals, flowers, and aromatics.
You can also find plenty of gin-making recipes and other resources at any of the social networks for cocktail enthusiasts like Imbibe, See My Drink, On the Bar, and eGullet’s Spirits & Cocktails Forum.
DIY G&T:  Serious Eats has a recipe for homemade tonic water.

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Waking Up to Breakfast Beers

Rooster logo via BeerBreakfast.com

Rooster logo via BeerBreakfast.com

 

Brewers have turned their attention to one of the few underserved market segments: morning beer drinkers.

The eye-opener, the hair-of-the-dog, the morning brewskie
Beer for breakfast was once the domain of problem drinkers and spring break partiers.
It’s as if there was an unwritten law that liquor marketers wouldn’t try to mess with the social standard of the booze-free morning. Not any more. There’s a whole slew of new brews aimed at getting you out of bed.

Founder’s Brewing calls its Breakfast Stout ’the coffee lover’s consummate beer’ with ‘an intense fresh-roasted java nose,’ and the recommended food pairing with Left Hand Brewing’s Milk Stout is a bowl of granola. Wells and Youngs brews a Banana Bread Ale; Terrapin’s Wake ‘N Bake is more bake than wake at 8.6% alcohol, but it’s infused with high-test Jittery Joe’s coffee beans; and Rogue Brewing might have created the ultimate breakfast combination with its Voodoo Donut Bacon Maple Ale.

Defenders of the morning quaff point to its traditional standing in many cultures.
In earlier centuries, beer was the default breakfast beverage of the British, when coffee and tea weren’t widely available and safe drinking water was hard to come by. Hong Kong stockbrokers like to fortify themselves with a morning pint before the market opens, and instead of a coffee break, Eastern Europeans have always favored beer for their mid-morning brotzeit, or second breakfast. Beer is high in carbs, loaded with empty calories, and its soporific effects can derail your morning get-up-and-go; but swap the alcohol for sugar and you’re basically looking at the nutrition profile of many breakfast cereals.

Others shudder at the the thought.
It might be beer ‘o clock somewhere, but not everyone has the stomach for an eye-opening jolt of bitter carbonation. It also strikes many as irresponsible behavior, from a health and addiction perspective. Morning drinking is considered a sign of addiction; it can be a gateway to more daytime drinking, and leads to higher rates of alcohol-related liver disease and dementia.

Have your own breakfast of champions.
The Wall Street Journal recommends food and beer breakfast pairings that it claims ‘can be as perfect a breakfast accompaniment as O.J.’

Brubar is the breakfast bar for beer lovers. It’s the creation of a home brewer who marries malty beer flavors with a non-alcoholic energy bar.

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Smart Kids Grow Up to Drink More Alcohol

image via The United Nations of Beer

image via The United Nations of Beer

 

It seems contradictory, but it’s true.
The smartest kids are the ones who grow up to consume more alcohol, more frequently. They are more likely than less intelligent individuals to drink to get drunk and to engage in binge drinking.

These are the findings of two highly respected, long-term studies: the National Childhood Development Study from the United Kingdom and the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health in the United States. Both studies defined high intelligence as a childhood IQ of 125 and above; both studies controlled for a huge number of variables in both the kids and their families (including age, sex, race, ethnicity, religion, marital status, social status, education, earnings, political attitudes, stress factors, religiosity, physical and mental health, medications, socialization, and sexual activity). The findings held true: smarter kids drink more as adults, and it appears that it’s their intelligence itself that makes them drink more.

On the face of it, this makes no sense: obviously these very smart people are familiar with the potential dangers of heavy alcohol consumption. The researchers reported the data, but offered no explanations. Hypotheses abound.

Psychology Today theorizes that it’s all about evolution. They argue that alcohol is a relatively recent invention in human history. Until 10,000 years ago, drunkenness was a mostly unintentional state that occurred when our ancestors ate rotten and fermented fruit. In an evolutionary sense, the deliberate creation and consumption of alcohol is a modern invention that has been embraced by the leading edge of highly intelligent early adopters.

Another evolutionary theory posits that people of higher intelligence can take more pleasure from the mind-altering experience of drunkenness. Their brains are equipped to process a broader range of stimuli and novelty than are the brains of the less intelligent.

Addiction expert Stanton Peele suggests that individuals of lesser intelligence are more susceptible to public health and educational messages warning of the dangers of alcohol. They might also have swallowed the myth that alcohol kills brain cells.

The Journal of Advanced Academics links drinking to the difficult adolescence of highly intelligent teenagers. They are more prone than mainstream kids to experience depression and social isolation and commonly use alcohol to self-medicate.

Or maybe, it’s just that once they’ve outgrown those awkward years they want to cut loose and make up for all the high school parties they weren’t invited to.

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Flavored Vodka Has Gone Too Far

 

bakon-vodka-bacon

loopy.ad_.three_.olives

pbj-vodka

 

 

 

 

 

360_ButteredPopcorn_750ML_MultiLabel_v02pumpkin-pie-vodka

HARD LUCK CANDY DISTRIBUTORS, LLC NEW VODKA BOTTLE

Vodka_Alaska_Distillery_Smoked_Salmon

 

 

[l-r from top: bacon, Froot Loops cereal, peanut butter and jelly, pumpkin pie, popcorn, hard candy (lemon drop, cinnamon, root beer barrel, orange creamsicle), and smoked salmon flavored vodka]

 

 

Glazed donut, marshmallow fluff, buttered popcorn, red velvet cupcake. Is it vodka or the shopping list for a middle schooler’s slumber party?

Vodka’s virtue used to be its absence of flavor. It was colorless, odorless, and tasteless, valued for its neutrality. Today, whipped cream flavor is the third most popular vodka.

Flavored vodka is big business. Vodka makes up a third of the U.S. market for liquor, and about 20% of sales volume comes from flavored varieties. While the rest of the market remains relatively flat, the flavored segment rose by 20% this year and accounted for three-quarters of new brand introductions, with the sweetest flavor profiles gaining the most traction.

You won’t find a lot of 50 year-olds ordering cookie dough martinis. 
Vodka flavors like cotton candy and marshmallow fluff are obviously aimed at a young demographic with a less refined palate, and many come from value-priced producers. Still, the higher-end brands aren’t just ceding the market. The more frivolous, confectionary-like flavors might not be consistent with their brand strategies, but premium distillers Grey Goose, Absolut, Skyy, and Charbay are pushing plenty of novelty flavors like green tea, chocolate, ginger, and dragon fruit.

Despite the continued growth of the flavored vodka category, there are grumblings that suggest the tide could be turning.
There’s a can-you-top-this mentality gripping producers. They keep stretching the flavor range so they can drum up press coverage and keep their brands in the minds of bartenders and drinkers. But the more unusual the flavor, the smaller the customer base it appeals to. And retailers are starting to push back on the growing assortment. They already devote nearly half their shelf space to a category that accounts for one-fifth of their sales.

Some of the gimmicky and outrageous incarnations suggest that palates are growing fatigued if not downright jaded. Smirnoff’s fluffed marshmallow, Cupcake Vineyard’s frosting flavor, and much of the Three Olives vodka lineup (the Froot Loops-flavored ‘Loopy’, s’mores, bubble gum, birthday cake, and the perplexing ‘Dude’ flavor) even veer into self-parody.

It’s no wonder that one of the hottest new brands out there right now is Purity Vodka launched with the following ad copy:  ”We believe the smooth yet full-bodied taste of Purity Vodka is best enjoyed straight up or on the rocks.”
Vodka-flavored vodka. What a concept.

 

Posted in beer + wine + spirits, food trends | 2 Comments

Eggnog and Other Raw Egg Cocktails

image via Editer

 

Do you gag at the thought of downing a raw egg?
Salmonella scares and Rocky movies have given them a bad name, but there’s a world of raw egg cocktails out there, and one of them, eggnog, has come into its season.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of a well-crafted Pisco Sour or a true eggnog you probably wonder why anyone would bother adding uncooked goo to perfectly good liquor. I’ll tell you why.

Egg whites transform a humdrum cocktail into a frothy showstopper. A brisk workout in a cocktail shaker creates volume, silkiness, and a beautiful foam topping. It’s like a soufflé in a glass. And while egg whites alone are relatively flavorless, shaken together with the other ingredients the egg whites act as an emulsifier melding the separate components into a whole drink that is truly more than the sum of its parts.

While egg whites add a certain je ne sais quoi to cocktails, all texture without discernible taste, whole eggs or egg yolks announce themselves with a vividly eggy flavor. Whole egg cocktails are less soufflé, more flan. They’re rich and dense, creamy even when there’s no added cream. These are not warm weather refreshers, but they taste just right on a cold winter night.

The rumors of their health risks have been greatly exaggerated.
Salmonella is a truly nasty bacterium, but it’s a lot less common than you probably think. The FDA estimates that only 1 of every 20,000 eggs contains the bacteria, so the odds are 99.995% that your eggnog is safe. At this rate a typical egg eater will run into a contaminated egg once every 84 years. Of course some people can’t take a chance even with those odds. Children, the elderly, pregnant and nursing women, and anyone with a weak immune system should look for egg cocktails made with egg substitutes or liquid egg products which are required by law to be pasteurized. And no, the alcohol in cocktails is not going to kill Salmonella.

Now’s the time to try a raw egg drink.
Trendy cocktail revivalists have fervently embraced the raw egg cocktail in both old-timey drinks and new mixologist concoctions. And from now through New Years Day you’ll probably come across some eggnog somewhere.

Chow has a nice round-up of old and new raw egg cocktail recipes, including their unspeakably decadent and boozy eggnog.

Who’d have thought—I came across not one but two blogs dedicated to eggnog: the photos and recipes Eggnog Blogand the all-things-eggnog Eggnogaholic with eggnog-themed cartoons, shopping, jokes, and poetry.

 

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News and Booze

 

Newspaper and magazine wine clubs
The first time you saw one, it struck you as a bit odd. Then you saw another one. And another.
This is no ordinary brand extension. It’s not like selling crossword puzzle books or sponsoring a lecture series. It doesn’t flow naturally from the core business; in fact it can pair as jarringly as a big Cabernet with your sole meuniere.

The Wall Street Journal was the first major newspaper to offer a wine club membership, launching its Discovery Wine Club in 2008. Today there are dozens of publishers in the wine business, from the Dallas Morning News to Rolling Stone. Most of the clubs are open to readers and non-readers but offer special deals and promotions to their subscribers. The more successful clubs, like the Wall Street Journal’s, come from publications appealing to an affluent demographic with an affinity for fine wine; some, like USA Today’s, have been a total bust.

Some are natural pairings.
A wine club was a natural extension for Touring & Tasting, a lifestyle publication based in California’s wine country that can claim cozy, insider access to some of the area’s producers. Sunset Magazine has been writing about food and wine in California since the 19th century and sells the ‘kitchen-tested’ expertise of its wine club’s curation. And of course the club from the magazine Food & Wine comes from Food & Wine.

Rolling Stone and Playboy are two publications that are looking to build their lifestyle branding with wine clubs.
Rolling Stone calls its club Wines That Rock, with bottlings like ‘Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon Cabernet Sauvignon,’ ‘The Police Synchronicity Red Blend,’ and ‘Woodstock Chardonnay,’ explaining that “Each wine we deliver is a reflection and interpretation of the music itself, inspired by legendary artists and the rock ‘n roll mythology behind these classic albums.”

Playboy has dipped its toe into the wine business before. There was a successful 2006 collaboration with Napa Valley’s Marilyn Wines that produced a Merlot with a peek-a-boo peel-off label based on Marilyn Monroe’s 1953-centerfold photo from the inaugural issue of the magazine. In 2008 Playboy sold a different high-end bottle each month with photo labels featuring vintage magazine covers from the 1960′s and ’70′s. A press release from Playboy Enterprises stresses the lifestyle connection of the new wine club:”We carefully select a handful of wines that represent the essence of the Playboy brand – delightfully jovial, indulgent and carefully crafted — while catering to the consumer’s desires to celebrate life and live it with a little style.” The wines are offered in themed ‘encounters’ like Blind Date (surprise selections), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (white varietals), and the Mansion Collection (a vertical tasting of Bordeaux).

For all their talk of ‘lifestyle,’ newspaper and magazine wine clubs are really about money, plain and simple. Paid circulation is down, advertising is going the way of the web, and newspapers and magazines haven’t quite cracked the monetization model for online content. Most of the publishers are just looking for a cork to plug the flow of red ink. With challenges to the traditional publishing business model coming from every direction, the hope is that this new revenue stream from wine clubs can help the old-line publications age as gracefully as the wines they are pushing.

Wall Street Journal Discovery Wine Club   Rolling Stone Wine Club   Playboy Wine Club   Dallas Morning News Wine Club   Touring and Tasting Wine Club   Sunset Wine Club  Food & Wine Wine Club

 

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Wine and Liquor Prices Are Falling, But Not On Menus

A restaurant wine list honestly translated via Twentytwowords.com

 

$1 out of every $100 of American consumer spending goes to alcohol.
That number has held steady for decades.
What’s changed is where we spend it.

We’re spending less at wine shops and liquor stores but more in bars and restaurants. And it’s not that we’re going out so much more. Adjusted for inflation, the retail price of alcohol in stores has actually been dropping—by 39% since 1982—while bar and restaurant prices for wine and cocktails have risen by 79% during that same period. In 1982, less than one-quarter of our spending on alcohol was in bars and restaurants; today it’s closing in on one-half. (Inflation-adjusted beer prices and spending patterns have remained virtually unchanged since 1982, with spending equally divided between consumption at home and away).

To understand these two trends, we need to look at what happened during those years in the two sectors: bars and restaurants; and wine and liquor retailers.

Upward pricing pressure on bars and restaurants
Liquor prices have dropped but nearly everything else has gone up, like labor costs, real estate and rent, and liquor licensing. Bars and restaurants typically operate on very slim profit margins, and since there’s a limit to the number of tables that can be squeezed into a dining room, and bartenders can’t really mix drinks any faster, bar and restaurant owners have had little choice but to raise prices.

America’s increased interest in wine and high-end spirits helped pave the way for higher prices. In 1982 there were few sommeliers in American restaurants. More recently they’ve been instrumental in building pricier wine lists and selling costly bottles to a more knowledgeable base of customers. And restaurateurs know that there is little price resistance at the upper end of a wine list, where deep-pocketed customers are less likely to blink at the higher mark up added to special bottles. Contemporary cocktail culture mirrors wine with its emphasis on connoisseurship and rare, small-production labels, and has similarly pushed up prices for mixed drinks.

Downward pressure on retail prices
Robert Parker of the Wine Advocate calls this the ‘Age of the Buyer.’ There are favorable fundamentals: the recession and its lower disposable incomes for many has encouraged American producers of wine and spirits to keep a lid on prices. Then the Eurozone mess resulted in more favorable exchange rates, driving down the price of European imports and creating even more pricing competition. And in the 30 years since 1982, the federal excise tax on alcohol has only been increased once, effectively shrinking it by more than 80% in current dollars.

And the biggest squeeze of all has come from the internet.
The proliferation of online retailers has turned us into savvy shoppers, comparing prices across hundreds of sites and hunting down deep discounts through flash sales. Access to high-quality vintages and single barrel single malts used to require a personal relationship and an invitation to the back room; now it’s a wholly democratized affair, and nobody needs to pay the sticker price.

Restaurants and bars continue to treat us like a captive audience. Price markups haven’t wavered from a standard three times wholesale for a bottle of wine (more for a single glass) and five times the wholesale price of ingredients for cocktails. But all that will change as more of us walk in armed with a bargain-hunter’s mentality and mobile apps for cocktail and wine lists.

 

Posted in beer + wine + spirits, restaurants, shopping | Leave a comment

Intelligent Kids Grow Up to Drink More Alcohol

image via The United Nations of Beer

 

It seems contradictory, but it’s true.
The smartest kids are the ones who grow up to consume more alcohol, more frequently. They are more likely than less intelligent individuals to drink to get drunk and to engage in binge drinking.

These are the findings of two highly respected, long-term studies: the National Childhood Development Study from the United Kingdom and the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health in the United States. Both studies defined high intelligence as a childhood IQ of 125 and above; both studies controlled for a huge number of variables in both the kids and their families (including age, sex, race, ethnicity, religion, marital status, social status, education, earnings, political attitudes, stress factors, religiosity, physical and mental health, medications, socialization, and sexual activity). The findings held true: smarter kids drink more as adults, and it appears that it’s their intelligence itself that makes them drink more.

On the face of it, this makes no sense: obviously these very smart people are familiar with the potential dangers of heavy alcohol consumption. The researchers reported the data, but offered no explanations. Hypotheses abound.

Psychology Today theorizes that it’s all about evolution. They argue that alcohol is a relatively recent invention in human history. Until 10,000 years ago, drunkenness was a mostly unintentional state that occurred when our ancestors ate rotten and fermented fruit. In an evolutionary sense, the deliberate creation and consumption of alcohol is a modern invention that has been embraced by the leading edge of highly intelligent early adopters.

Another evolutionary theory posits that people of higher intelligence can take more pleasure from the mind-altering experience of drunkenness. Their brains are equipped to process a broader range of stimuli and novelty than are the brains of the less intelligent.

Addiction expert Stanton Peele suggests that individuals of lesser intelligence are more susceptible to public health and educational messages warning of the dangers of alcohol. They might also have swallowed the myth that alcohol kills brain cells.

The Journal of Advanced Academics links drinking to the difficult adolescence of highly intelligent teenagers. They are more prone than mainstream kids to experience depression and social isolation and commonly use alcohol to self-medicate.

Or maybe, it’s just that once they’ve outgrown those awkward years they want to cut loose and make up for all the high school parties they weren’t invited to.

 

 

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It’s Not Beer; It’s Wine on Tap

image via Washington Wine Report

 

Don’t sneer. Don’t condescend. Just belly up to the bar for a cold one drawn straight from the tap. Proponents of the draft wine trend swear that tasting is believing.

Kegged wine is nothing new.
It’s been common in Europe for centuries, and has been floating around California’s wine-growing regions for a few decades. Now you’ll find it from coast to coast in thousands of restaurants, wine bars, and neighborhood pubs. It has advantages that are economic, environmental, and even quality-related that recommend it to both the high and low ends of the food and beverage industry.

Kegged wine starts out like any wine.
But at the end of the barreling stage, instead of heading to a bottle, it’s transferred directly into stainless steel kegs, usually holding the equivalent of about 26 bottles of wine each. Once tapped, it works like a beer keg minus the pressure required for carbonation; a flavorless gas pushes the wine from keg to tap and occupies the empty space in the keg to prevent oxidation. Once the kegs are empty, they’re returned to their respective wineries to be cleaned and re-used.

The economics of kegged wine are clear.
Skipping the bottling process allows the wineries to save nearly a third of their costs in both labor and materials, and reduces shipping costs. The lower costs are passed to the restaurants that see further savings from easier storage, less breakage, waste, and spoilage, and ease of serving.

The environmental benefits are numerous.
The transported weight of kegs is a fraction of bottle weight, saving fossil fuels and reducing carbon emissions. Corks, foils, labels, and case packaging is eliminated, so there is less manufacturing and printing, and a lot less cardboard to recycle.

And then there’s the bottles.
80% of all restaurant wine is sold by the glass generating 600 million empty bottles per year, and less than a third are recovered for recycling. If even a small fraction of that was served from kegs, it would keep tens of millions of bottles out of landfills every year.

Of course it all comes down to taste.
Wines that benefit from bottle aging aren’t candidates for kegging, but the vast majority of wines are ready to drink at the point of bottling. Some wines even benefit from the large format of kegging in the same way that subtle tasting nuances can appear when wine is bottled as a magnum or jeroboam rather than a standard bottle. And there are no quality issues related to storage, corking, or oxidation; the taste is consistent from the keg’s start to finish.

Also, the wine industry has been careful not to keg just any old vinous liquid. In fact the wines available on tap are often an improvement over the typical by-the-glass offerings because the lower wholesale cost and higher profit margin for kegged wines has allowed restaurants to actually upgrade their selection without raising prices.

The only real barrier is consumer resistance.
Remember that a just few years ago wine drinkers were raising a stink over screw caps replacing cork bottle closures. Now the caps are found on the precious bottles of California’s top-tier producers and have even made inroads in tradition-bound France. You’re not sure about wine on tap? You’ll get over it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cool New Cooling Gadgets

How do you cool the drinks when it’s hot outside?
Mankind has wrestled with this one from the beginning of time. From fire and ice, radiation and resistance, to exothermic and endothermic reactions, we’ve tried it all. We’ve put a man on the moon, so why does it still take hours to chill a can of PBR or a bottle of Pinot Grigio?

Here are the latest gadgets to cool down your summer beverages.

 

Cool on the go with the Koolatron mobile wine chiller. It plugs into a car outlet with a 12V plug and 5-foot power cord, and chills a standard sized wine or champagne bottle down to 40 degrees F in about half an hour.

Japan’s Kirin Brewery has created the world’s first frozen beer foam. It dispenses from a tap like soft serve ice cream. It tops draft beer with an ice cold frothy head and creates an insulating lid that keeps a pint cold for up to 30 minutes. The foam is made by aerating and freezing regular beer to 23 degrees, so there’s no dilution as it melts.

The Instant Wine Chiller cools the wine instead of the bottle. Pull the gadget out of your freezer and attach the pourer to the neck of a bottle. Best for reds, as the wine passes through its internal coil system it’s cooled by 15 degrees— taking wine from room temperature to cellar temperature instantaneously. The chiller is made from the same stainless steel used for fermentation tanks, promising to maintain the wine’s taste and characteristics.

The Corkcicle also targets the wine, not the bottle, and does it a bottle at a time. You pre-freeze the Corkcicle, a BPA-free plastic icicle filled with non-toxic freeze gel and attached to a cork. Open a bottle and replace the cork with the apparatus.

The Beer 90 Chiller promises a cold one in 90 seconds. Fill the chiller with ice and drop in a can. Crank the handle to spin the canister. It creates a whirlpool effect inside the can that accelerates cooling by exposing all the beer to the now-chilled surface of the can. By the time you work up a thirst, the beer is icy cold. Alternatively, you can go with the Tinchilla; it operates on the same principle of thermal conduction, but a pair of AA batteries will do the work for you.

 

With Wine Chill Drops you can have a glass while you wait for the rest of the bottle to chill. Their manufacturer claims they cool a single glass in one-twentieth the time it takes to chill a whole bottle in the refrigerator. Place one pre-frozen drop in a glass of wine and remove it when the wine reaches the desired temperature.

 

The beverage industry has long considered the self-cooling can to be the holy grail of chilling technology.
Pepsi Cola thought it had cracked the code in 1998 with the Chill Can, but cancelled its plans when the can was challenged by environmentalists over its use of a greenhouse gas-contributing refrigerant coolant. Then in 2006, Miller Brewing launched its I.C. (Instant Cool) can. After much celebrating and fanfare, it was also scuttled due to environment and design concerns.
They’re at it again.

The Chill Can will be re-introduced this spring. West Coast Chill will be shipping its all-natural energy drink in a new and improved version in which the harmful refrigerant has been replaced with an environmentally innocuous process involving activated carbon derived from organic renewable vegetable materials, and carbon dioxide reclaimed from the atmosphere. Press a tab on the can and the temperature of the liquid inside will decrease by 30ºF within three minutes.

West Coast Chill has not publicly released details of its patented technology, but the website has an explanation of the science behind heat exchange units. The company is promising to provide special recycle bins wherever the drink is sold since traditional recycling can’t be utilized.

 

Posted in appliances + gadgets, beer + wine + spirits | 1 Comment

Girly Beer

image via Philly.TheDrinkNation

Pink is for girls, y’know.
That’s why the beer industry is using it to sell beer to women. After years of disenfranching and objectifying women, it’s time for a little condescension.
Ladies, cue the squeals of delight and air kisses because this one’s for you.

Molson Coors Animée: the bloat-resistant beer

Mhttp://www.beer-pages.com/stories/news/images/animee.jpgolson Coors is pre-tty pleased with themselves for this one. Bloat resistance is just one of its charms. According to the company’s press office, Animée is “lightly sparkling and finely filtered with a delicious, fresh taste [and an] unexpectedly sophisticated appearance.” That translates from PR flack-speak as fruity flavors and pastel hues. Instead of 6-packs, Animée is sold in lighter, daintier 4-packs. Animée was launched in the U.K. in late 2011 with a big bucks promotion, and we can hardly wait for its appearance on our shores cause, you know, we hate to bloat too.

Heineken’s Jillz: “Fresh and exciting. Just like you.” Uh huh.

http://groepje5.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/jillz.jpg

Heineken’s entry, also thoughtfully sold in 4-packs, is Jillz (with a Z; the original name of Charli with an I was withdrawn when the company realized that is a nickname for cocaine) a sweet beer and apple cider hybrid that would never be confused with either of the two beverages. Type your name into the online Jillz Datemaker and a buff and shirtless bartender will personally invite you to ‘Come bite my apple.’

 

Is that really beer? I mistook it for a hip stylish purse.

 

http://nola.eater.com/uploads/chick-beer-ladies.jpg
Finally a beer that matches your slingback sandals. The Chick Beer website explains: “The bottle is designed to reflect the beautiful shape of a woman in a little black dress. The six-pack looks like you are carrying your beer in a hip stylish purse. Chick’s unique reflective bottle blings you up! It’s fun, fabulous, and female!”

 

 

…and the lady in the bold Pucci print will have a Carlsberg.

 

http://cached.imagescaler.hbpl.co.uk/resize/scaleToFit/427/285/?sURL=http://offlinehbpl.hbpl.co.uk/news/OKM/2DAA6980-05EB-5A98-17A4236C1FDEF1C8.JPG
http://i.huffpost.com/gen/280219/thumbs/s-CARLSBERG-COPENHAGEN-BEER-large300.jpgIn the beginning, there was Eve.
Introduced in 2006, Eve’s Press Kit asks that its girly flavors (litchee, passionfruit) be served in girly glasses (flutes) at suitably girly occasions (“where women meet and socialize in company with their best friends.”) But what about those situations when you want a real beer in a real bottle and darn it, none of them look good with your outfit? It happens to women all the time, according to  Carlsberg’s International Innovation Director: “There may be situations where they are standing in a bar and want their drinks to match their style. In this case, they may well reject a beer if the design does not appeal to them.” Thank goodness Carlsberg’s new Copen♥hagen (the heart is silent) is on the scene to rescue us with its tasteful, go-with-everything bottle.

 

Is anyone surprised by the missteps?
Beer marketing has a long and shameful testosterone-drench history. The industry has always flogged its products with sexist, dude-centric imagery like sports figures, cowboys, rappers, farm animals, physical labor, and above all frat-boy humor. These clumsy, condescending, pink and fizzy attempts to appeal to women are about what we expected.

Half the market is still waiting for their beer.

 

 

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