This brew is a trans-continental mash-up with delicious results.
Food Loves Beer Editors
BROOKLYN CUVÉE NOIRE
The rich, fruity stouts of Belgium were born in the tumultuous period of global upheaval between the First and Second World Wars. Created for the British palate but brewed with their native yeasts, Belgian brewers fermented a hybrid of two classic traditions that continues to evolve to this day. Add to the recipe a touch of American creativity with several months of aging in bourbon barrels, and a brew worthy of the highest praise is born.
Cuvée Noire pours a rich shimmering black, with a thick beige head with veiled lacing on the glass. Vanilla, coconut, and rum dominate the nose, followed by the unmistakable nuances of chocolate and cappuccino. Flavors are true to the aroma, with coconut being a bit toasted, and the chocolate more on the bittersweet side. Layers of stone fruit slip between oak and bourbon, creating a magical elixir for those special occasions that defy convention.
Serve in a tulip or cervoise glass at 45-50 F.
Suggested Food Pairings: Brooklyn Cuvée Noire is perfect for anytime sipping, but it's also the ideal companion to Roquefort, a juicy Tomahawk ribeye chop, and German chocolate cake.
Food Loves Beer taste tested and recommended!
It may not feel like it but this craft beer fest proves spring is in the air.
Food Loves Beer Editors
4TH ANNUAL NYC CRAFT BEER FESTIVAL – SPRING SEASONALS
The groundhog wasn't wrong when he predicted six more weeks of winter. Seemingly endless snow storms and frigid temperatures are a clear indication that spring has not sprung yet. We’re not exactly happy about it, but we know spring will get here eventually, so we’re celebrating this vibrant season while still in frozen February. What’s our inspiration? We’re going to the NYC Craft Beer Festival dedicated to Spring Seasonals, and we hope you’ll join us!
The 4th Annual NYC Craft Beer Festival will feature a seasonal tasting selection of 150 craft beers, meads and ciders from over 75 local and national breweries. For foodies, the festival will offer a variety of fare from participating vendors and a selection of showcase beers for pairing. Additionally, guests can shop retail vendors, play games, enjoy live music, meet one-on-one with industry experts and Cicerones in the Craft Concierge Center and attend interesting and informative seminars.
VIP and general admission tickets are available for purchase now! For more information, visit nyccraftbeerfest.com.
Who: Hand Crafted Tasting Company
What: The 4th Annual Craft Beer Festival – Spring Seasonals
When: Friday, March 13 and Saturday, March 14, 2015
Where: Lexington Avenue Armory in Manhattan, 68 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010 (Bet 25th & 26th St)
Few beer styles are as categorically revered as the Belgian tripel.
A TRIBUTE TO TRIPELS
Belgium has had considerable influence on the craft beer world. The diminutive nation boasts a bounty of 450 different beers and a rich brewing history. One of the most highly acclaimed and beloved Belgian beers is the tripel — an alluring, golden elixir with dazzling complexity, generous effervescence and a light body that belies its hefty alcohol content.
The best examples of the style are devilishly deceptive, with none of the telltale, boozy characteristics you'd expect from a beer with 8-12 percent ABV. The uninitiated may be surprised at their level of intoxication after imbibing in a few of these easily drinkable, yet potent brews. That's probably the reason Belgian beer cafes clearly specify alcohol content on their beer menus.
In recent years, some breweries have added coriander for flavor, but traditional tripels are not spiced. The style is flavorful and complex, often described as biscuity, fruity, flowery and spicy. Tripels have high malt content and a generous amount of Belgian candi sugar, which increases the level of alcohol, gives a hint of sweetness and imparts a dry finish.
The Trappist monks of the Westmalle Abbey in Belgium are generally credited with creating the first tripel, a strong blonde ale, which was first dubbed “Superbier,” around 1934. The Westmalle Abbey was founded in 1794 by a group of Cistercian monks fleeing the French revolution. It is one of seven (soon to be eight) abbeys in the world allowed to feature the "Authentic Trappist Product" logo on their beers. For a brewery to be blessed with this privilege, it has to meet strict standards. Monks must oversee the brewing process, for example, and the beer must meet high quality standards. In addition, profits from sales have to go back into the brewery, be used for the abbey or go to charitable works. Today, the Westmalle Tripel remains a superior standard by which the style is judged.
Many believe that the tripel got its name because it contains three times the malt of an enkel (single) — the old term for a basic Trappist beer. Michael Jackson, the acclaimed beer writer, suggests that the name is derived from the practice of marking casks with crosses as a simple method to indicate their strength — a trio of crosses would indicate a tripel.
Tripel at the Table
Wine drinkers who don't normally drink beer will appreciate the Belgian tripel because, like wine, it is extra-ordinarily complex and proves a versatile match for food. Belgian beer cafes often serve it with pungent cheeses such as aged Gouda or salty nuts. Its citrus and grassy notes pair well with shellfish. Its herbal qualities will pair well with basil-centric dishes, such as pesto pasta or spicy Thai basil beef. For dessert, try pairing tripel with fruity desserts like fresh raspberry pie.
Serving tip: Belgian tripels are bottle-conditioned beers, which means they contain yeast sediment. Be sure to store the beer upright and leave that last bit of sediment in the bottom of the bottle (drink the yeast separately for a healthy dose of vitamin B). Let the beer warm up for a few minutes if it has come directly from the fridge and serve it in a goblet, chalice or tulip-shaped glass for optimum enjoyment.
Food Loves Beer Editors
It's no secret around here, craft beers pair well with good quality chocolate, and that's especially apparent in these dark chocolate Imperial stout truffles. A full-bodied Imperial stout offers the perfect complement to the decadent intensity of rich dark chocolate, while allowing the distinctive and complex beer flavors to shine through. A romantic treat that’s sure to please, these delightful truffles are a fitting indulgence for the beer-loving, chocoholic in your life.
Servings: 48 truffles
Active Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 4-24 hours
A rare ale that’s brewed like a beer and bottled like a fine champagne.
Food Loves Beer Editors
DEUS BRUT DES FLANDRES
Being long-time fans of Kwak and Tripel Karmeliet, two other world-class beers from Brouwerij Bosteels, we were thrilled to get a bottle of 2011 Deus. This amazing beer starts out in the brewery’s tanks where it undergoes the primary and secondary fermentations that are the hallmark of fine Belgian ales. What happens next, however, is truly amazing, and produces an ale like no other we’ve tasted. The beer is shipped to the Champagne region of France where it undergoes the same labor-intensive treatment as the sparkling wines that bear that area’s appellation.
Deus pours a brilliant pale yellow and releases a fine stream of bubbles that rise into a lush white head that quickly dissipates, leaving behind a delicate lacing on the glass. The aroma is that of white grapes and spicy yeast, with nuances of ginger, lemon zest, and nutmeg. Another similarity to fine champagne is the recommended serving temperature, which is much colder than you would expect, and actually enhances the complexity and mouthfeel of this beer. Flavors of floral honey, clove, and spice are carried over the tongue by a spritzy carbonation. The finish is clean and crisp, lingering just long enough to entice the drinker to the next sip. Deus holds up beautifully in the cellar, waiting to add a touch of elegance to any special occasion that arises.
Serve in a flute or chalice at 35-40 F.
Suggested Food Pairings: Herbed goat cheese, butter-poached lobster, and a simple dish of fresh berries are all complemented by the sophisticated grace of Deus.
Food Loves Beer taste tested and recommended!
Our favorite American ex-pat in Paris guides us through craft beers in the City of Lights.
5 FRENCH BEERS TO TRY IN PARIS
When I set out to track down the five best beers brewed in Paris right now, I didn’t think my job would be too difficult. If you’d asked me five years ago, I might not have been so confident, but now that bottle shops like Bières Cultes and Paris Saint-Bière and craft beer bars like La Fine Mousse and Express de Lyon have found their way to the capital, I thought that surely brewers had followed suit.
Parisians may be unrivaled when it comes to wine, but brewing still has a while to go. That being said, there are some interesting things happening on the beer scene, and while I’m fairly certain this list will have changed before six months is up, for right now, here are my top five beers to try in Paris.
5. Parisis Blanche
I’m not usually a huge fan of blanche, which is the French term typically used to describe witbier or other wheat beers. The Parisis Triple is more my style, but when I found the blanche, at my local supermarket no less, and saw that it had won the gold medal at the Concours Général Agricole in 2013, I had to pick it up.
Parisis brews in Épinay-sous-Sénart, just outside of the city limits. The brewers call it an authentic beer, taking its name from the Gaulish tribe who inhabited Paris before the Romans. In other words, it’s as Parisian as they come. It’s not a complex beer by any means, but it’s the sort of beer you could drink all day in the summer. It’s fresh and lightly citrusy with just the right amount of wheaty, malty flavor, and a relatively low alcohol content. There’s a touch of bitterness on the finish that’s very nice.
Suggested Food Pairings: I would pair this with a different play on mussels à la marinière, with thinly sliced fennel mixed in with the base and a touch of the beer itself in place of the wine, to play off that light bitterness that's so refreshing.
4. Grand Paris Smoke on the Water
While composing this list, I tasted two beers from this team of brewers in Levallois. The two brewers ― an American and a Frenchman ― are self-described lovers of hops, and it showed in the beers I tasted ― a Citra IPA and this smoked beer that really caught my eye (or rather my tongue).
The beer has a smoky, malty aroma with an unexpected whiff of sourdough. I couldn't stop smelling it. As for the taste, there's a clear smoky flavor that reminds me of the beechwood smoking that’s so common here in France, but only the bitterness remains in the finish.
Suggested Food Pairings: This beer will shine with a dish that's slightly sweet and rich in umami; the two will play off one another beautifully. I love it with any dish featuring oven-roasted tomatoes, like a chicken caprese or a tomato risotto. Be sure to char the tomato skins in the oven, as this light smokiness will be all you need to nicely pair the beer and the meal.
3. Deck & Donohue Monk
Two beers on this list came from the same brewery. I tried to avoid having that happen, but this brewery impressed me twice. Deck & Donohue is based in Montreuil, run by Thomas Deck and Mike Donohue (thus the name), a Frenchman and an American. Their craft beers are brewed in small batches with 10 years of know-how ― and it shows.
Monk is a brown ale that, at first smell and taste, is chocolate. To be even more precise, it has the smell and taste of an old-school soda fountain chocolate soda, with just the right amount of effervescence to remind you that it’s actually a beer. And yet this light ale has more to it than meets the nose. You never quite lose the chocolate aroma, but after it warms up a bit, the toastiness shines through, as do a few lighter berry notes. The most surprising thing about this ale is how rich it can be in flavor while still remaining so light.
Suggested Food Pairings: Monk is an ideal beer to enjoy before or after a meal, or even as a dessert pairing. It’s tempting to pair a beer as rich and chocolaty as this with chocolate. But I prefer to let the beer stand in for chocolate by pairing it with something you'd serve with a rich chocolate cake. Here in France, that would be crème anglaise or custard cream, so a vanilla bean crème brûlée would be an excellent pairing choice.
2. Vexin La Véliocasse
Les Bières du Vexin was created in 2001 with just two brews ― a blonde and an amber, but the beer that struck me from this small brewery was an unfiltered, honey-flavored beer with a touch of wheat in the mix and 7% ABV.
Once poured, Véliocasse even looks like honey. It has tiny bubbles and a nice viscosity as well as a deep amber color. The flavor is quite extraordinary: there’s a nice kick of alcohol that’s more reminiscent of mead than beer, a full body with a bright finish and a deep, woody aftertaste. As I was drinking it, I couldn't shake the sensation that it was something more akin to whiskey ― bright and flavorful with a boozy punch at the front of the palate, and a nice richness and slow warmth on the back. The beer won the World’s Best Honey Beer title in 2014, so I’m in good company when I say that this is definitely one to try.
Suggested Food Pairings: Véliocasse would overpower most main dishes, but it would be excellent served as an apéritif with a cheese plate. Choose richly flavored hard cheeses with a good amount of nuttiness, like aged cheddar or gruyère. Keep the cheese plate interesting by including a cheese from each common milk type: a gruyère for cow's milk, an ossau iraty for sheep and a tomme de chèvre for goat. Because the beer itself is sweet, choose more savory accompaniments like nuts, cured meats or tomato chutney.
1. Deck & Donohue Trouble #6
Deck & Donohue is back for the number one beer on this list: Trouble #6. Anglophones may laugh at the name, though its real source is from the French trouble or cloudy. This unfiltered beer is the brewers’ interpretation of an old-fashioned farm beer, brewed with a mix of four grains ― barley, wheat, rye and oats ― as well as Alsatian hops. The result is what the French would call a blonde, a light beer with herbal notes and a dry finish.
This beer has a nice, creamy head that lasts. The aromas are clearly hoppy and earthy yet fresh. The flavor is well-rounded with a light, malty sweetness and just the right amount of bitterness for balance.
There are many reasons this beer is number one on the list. It’s tasty. It’s well made. It also exemplifies that blonde style of beer that the French are so accustomed to, and that is the main reason I chose to make Trouble #6 number one on the list of five beers to try in Paris. They’re branching out and trying new things, and I have no doubt that we’re in for more than a few treats as French brewing continues to develop, but it’s important to remember where we’re coming from, and the blonde, as a style, is a good jumping-off point ― and this is an excellent example of what happens when the blonde is done right.
Suggested Food Pairings: This is a beer that can pair well with a wide variety of foods. I suggest serving it with a burger bar; allow your guests to assemble beef, chicken or veggie burgers with a variety of toppings, such as different cheeses, lettuces, raw and caramelized onions and mushrooms. No matter what combo they choose, Trouble #6 will be a great pair!
Have a favorite French beer you'd like to add to this list? Let us know in comments.