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Raising my Spirits...

As mentioned in an earlier post, I treated myself to a small oak barrel for aging experiments.  My real target was simulating beers aged in oak bourbon barrels.  Most distilleries around the world use these casks as well, placing their newly distilled, neutral spirits into the casks for years to extract their color, flavor and aroma from the wood.  My virgin barrel from eBay was simply lacking experience.

My wheels began to turn...How could I give my new barrel that old bourbon barrel character without aging whiskey in it?   Why not  just age whiskey in it?  Why not experiment with the aging process for spirits, then use it for beer later?

Distilling spirits is illegal in the US, so building a still and extracting ethanol from homebrew just doesn't seem wise.  However,  I may have discovered a way to experiment with the key processes of aging whiskey while staying within the letter (and spirit) of the law.  Why not just start with an off the shelf neutral spirit like vodka?

To keep the experiment manageable I purchased a second, smaller 1L oak barrel on eBay.  I found a 1.75L bottle of Svedka Swedish vodka at Costco for $17. 

Svedka is rated nearly as high as Grey Goose and probably better than anything I could produce as an amateur distiller anyway.

To prep the barrel I soaked it in water to allow the wood to swell and seal itself properly.  Then I rinsed it out, refilled it and let it sit for two days with a couple of Camden tablets to sanitize it.  After that rinsed it out three times and filled it with Vodka to begin the experiment.  Aging, by definition, takes time : )  so my patience will be tested here for sure.  The good news is that the larger surface to volume ratio of small barrels will allow spirits to age the equivalent of a month in a full size cask for every week in my miniature barrel.

I am not the most patient guy and want more insight into what might be happening in the barrel without opening it for at least a few months.  To provide more instant gratification, I placed the remaining vodka in an empty whiskey bottle with toasted oak chips (the kind used for throwing into your beer or wine fermentor to simulate oak aging).  This will give me a handy visual clue to what may be taking place in the cask.  I can also easily open the bottle and sneak a whiff or even a nip from time to time.

The progress to date is amazing.  After only 5 days, the bottle already looks and smells like decent whiskey!  I'll be sure to keep you posted on its progress from time to time.




Happy New Year!

Irish toast:
In the New Year, may your right hand always be stretched out in friendship, never in want.

Wishing you and yours a Happy and prosperous New Year!




...DIY Kegerator!

As I mentioned in my last post, I decided to tackle converting my mini fridge to a kegerator this past weekend. I am pleased to report that this project was much easier than I expected. It still requires some tweaking to dial in the perfect draft beer but I think that would hold true with most commercial kegerators as well.

After reading a couple of other accounts and DIY instructions online, I purchased a single draft tower on eBay. There are a lot of options out there ranging from a plain chrome single faucet from about $60 to gorgeous multi-tap towers for several hundred dollars. I opted for the economical single faucet model as an entry level solution. Once I had the tower in hand is was a simple matter of getting up the guts to drill into the top of my mini-fridge (that took a while since I am quite fond of my fridge as-is).

One of the great things about that model fridge is that it has a built in plastic top which gives it a nice finish as a stand alone unit. It also stands alone a counter height with the added trim.

First task was to remove the plastic top which was held on by a couple of screws in the front near the hinge mounts and four across the back. The plastic top is reinforced with a series of ribs, I removed the ribs in the center square by cutting them out with a utility knife to make room for a block of wood to secure the base of the tower to. There is a circle in the direct center of the underside of the top that I used to drill a pilot hole to mark my starting point for drilling through the top for the beer line.

After cutting a piece of wood to fit the center, I set the cover back in place an it was time for the big drill. I used a hole saw for drilling doorknob holes that had had laying around. It wasn't deep enough to make it through all the materials, so I took it a layer at a time, the wood being the most difficult overall. Once the pilot bit made it to the metal top I was able to move the plastic top out of the way. Once through the metal top, the insulation was a bit messy but cut like butter and then their was only the interior liner which cut pretty smoothly as well.

Time to breath a sigh of relief! Downhill from here. Center the draft tower over the hole and secure it to the wood with 6-8 screws and drop the beer line(s) down into the fride and reattach the top to the fridge.

My draft tower was set up with a hex nut end for a sanke keg (standard commercial kegs). The simplest solution seemed to be to cut the hex end off of the beer line and replace it with a ball lock for a corny keg so I did just that.

Poof, my ordinary minifridge is now a kegerator! Next up, experimentation with the length of the beer line and its impact on the amount of foam...




Keeping my cool...

When I started kegging I had to get a little more creative about how to keep my beer cool.  I had a mini fridge under my basement bar for storing bottles and cans, but it just wasn't big enough to hold a homebrew keg.  At the time I also found a couple of 3 gallon kegs that would fit in a standard mini fridge but I knew I had to find another solution for keeping multiple brews on tap.

Early this year, while contemplating an investment in a kegerator, I stumbled upon this Sanyo SR-4912M minifridge at my local BestBuy.  Since it does not have a freezer compartment, there is enough headroom for a full 5 gallon corny keg!  To sweeten the deal even further, this gem was on sale for $150.

I couldn't recommend this fridge enough for homebrewers.  Things just got better when I got it home.  I found that this fridge has capacity for two 5 gal corny kegs and a 5lb CO2 tank.  It will also hold a 5gal carboy for lagering.  It also has the ability to keep beer much colder that most refrigerators.   I accidentally froze two kegs solid (luckily one was only root beer) dialing the temp down just before our Christmas Eve party.

This fridge also has the potential to be converted to a kegerator since there are no coils in the top of the fridge.  I found some DIY instructions online, so while on break for the holidays I decided to finally give it a shot.  Follow my progress in my next blog posting...wish me luck!



Roll Out The Barrel...

I have a habit of buying myself a little something special for Christmas each year.  Even though our economy seems to be on the brink of doom, I stuck to my tradition but certainly didn't break the bank.

Like many other homebrewers, I've dabbled with aging both wine and beer along with oak chips and even bourbon soaked oak chips to simulate aging in wooden casks.  For some reason I always thought of oak barrels as 30-60 gallon monsters that soaked up and evaporated out more than a homebrew sized batch on a monthly basis.  A few weeks ago I was watching a special on one of the Discovery networks about micro-distillers that were using small oak barrels to age their spirits much more rapidly than conventional 30Gal casks.

A quick trip to the Interwebs highlighted many affordable options for the home brewer ranging from 1 liter to full sized 30gal barrels.  In just a few clicks I was the proud winner of a buy-it-now auction on eBay for a 5liter pre-chared american oak barrel.  The following email exchange offered to custom engrave a name or logo on the front of the barrel at no additional cost.   I then emailed the seller a rough picture of a carved "oak man" from a door knocker.   Two days later I recieved tracking information that the barrel had already shipped! Express shipping included, I have less than $60 invested.

The barrel arrived Christmas Eve from Tequila, Mexico.  I promptly filled and soaked the barrel in water and it has proven to be water tight.  I've popped in a couple of camden tablets to sanitize it in preparation of my first real cask aging experiment.   Stay tuned!




Oh, Christmas Tree?

Happy Holiday Recycling!


"Kiddie Homebrew"

A couple of times a year I mix up a batch of root beer for the kids, usually when we plan to have guests to help us celebrate a holiday weekend. This weekend we are having friends over for some holiday cheer and desserts, so this morning I made some "homebrew" root beer for the kiddies to enjoy while we shared our favorite cocktails, homebrew and wine with the adults.

This is a really simple recipe and quite tasty!

I use McCormick's Root Beer concentrate. I have tried a couple of others from the local homebrew shop, but the kids always prefer the McCormick. I force carbonate the rootbeer in a corny keg for instant gratification and to allow me to adjust the amount of foam. An alternative would be to replace the cold water with soda water, or put the rootbeer into a rubbermaid cooler with a few pounds of dry ice (great for Halloween parties). The traditional method would be to bottle condition with ale yeast allowing enough fermentation to occur to carbonate the root beer. This could be done in two liter bottles to minimize the danger of bottle bombs!

Ingredients for a 3 gallon batch:
2oz bottle McCormick's Root Beer Concentrate
1.5gal boiling water
3 cups Dark Brown Cane Sugar
3 cups white sugar
1.5 gal cold water
Dissolve the sugar in 1.5gal boiling water, remove the heat and add the full bottle of root beer extract.

If you're kegging (highly recommended), Sanitize your corny keg just as you were preparing it for beer. Pour the contents form the boil into the keg followed by 1.5gal of cold water, seal and pressurize with CO2 to about 35psi. I then refrigerated the keg shake it heavily to speed the absorption of CO2. Within 18-24hrs you will have tasty draft root beer on tap!




Review: Belhaven Wee Heavy Scottish Ale



•   Appearance:  A    •    Aroma:  A-    •    Taste:  A    •
Overall:  A

I've only tried a couple of different Scottish Ales but each has fascinated me.  They are very strong ales with a lot of malt character and lighter hops.  You have to be careful with these because they can go down easy and kick your butt early in the evening due to their higher alcohol content.  At 6.2%ABV the Belhaven seems a little lighter in alcohol than others I have had but that may be an attribute of the Wee Heavy style.

My first impression of this beer was this must be what beer was like in the old world.   It has a nice dark amber color with a generous tan head that keeps it lightly covered all the way to the bottom of the glass.  This aroma is in your face with malt, not hops like modern beers.  The aroma also comes across as very sweet (almost annoyingly so).  The taste doesn't disappoint, very robust, with a caramel malt flavor balanced with bitterness from the hops at the end.  There is a hint of smoke or peat or something like that, kind of like burning leaves but it is very subtle way and it really made me wish I was drinking it by the smoker or with some beef brisket (dry, no sauce).

This beer will definitely warm you up even at 6.2% (its about 20° tonight, so I was looking for a winter warmer)!  I paid about $4 for this bottle at a local liquor store but its worth every penny.




Homebrew Recipe: Chocolate Stout

I just tapped into my first attempt at a Chocolate Stout. Many of my favorite beers are stouts, yet my track record from brewing stouts is not very good. My stouts have not had as full of a body as they should and tend to have more of a roasted or coffee-like character than what I was shooting for. I brewed this beer at the end of August. The result is one of my better attempts, but my goals still seem elusive.

This beer has excellent head retention, is nearly black in color with tan foam. The highlight is nice chocolate and malt aroma with a background of hops. The flavor profile may need more aging to balance out better and it finishes too bitter for me.

I over-carbonated this beer which makes it seem thin. As I allowed the beer to sit, warm, and release carbonation it began to take on a nice velvety texture in the mouth. I've released mush of the pressure in the keg to reduce the level of carbonation. I am hopeful that this beer will balance out its bitterness a little better by spring. If not, I may use it for a blending experiment with a lightly hopped full bodied dark brown ale.

On a positive note, I had a piece of sweet chocolate while sampling the beer and the combination of flavors was very nice. This would pair very nicely with a sweet dessert as-is!  It just has too much of a lingering bitterness to enjoy on its own for my tastes.

Here's the recipe (all-grain 154° mash):

12lb two-row malted barley
2lb Dingemans Chocolate Malt
1lb Dingemans "Special B"
1lb Flaked Barley (for body and head retention)
1/2lb Malto-Dextrin (for body)
Hops: East Kent Gouldings 1oz 75min, .5oz 60min, .5oz 30min; 1oz. whole Chinook (homegrown) 20min; .1oz Whole Willamette (homegrown) for 15min approx 51 IBUs overall (and I wonder why its bitter)
8oz Cocoa powder

Yeast: SafAle English Ale (dry)

So far here are my ratings:


• Appearance: B • Aroma: B • Taste: C- •


Overall: C-



I'll be sure to keep you up to date on its progress,



Review: Bushmills Black Bush Irish Whiskey


•    Appearance:  A    •    Aroma:  B     •    Taste:  B+    •


Overall:  B+

I have a particular fondness for Speyside Single Malts.   However, in order to live within my means I am always on the lookout for more economical alternatives.   Recently, this bottle of Bushmills Black Bush Irish Whiskey caught my eye in a commemorative 400th anniversary tin.  The dark amber color convinced me I had to give it a try.  Wow!  I sure am glad I did.  At about $30 a bottle I am considering this my own personal stimulus package to make it through a long economic winter.

This whiskey is exceptionally smooth with surprising complexity.   I highly recommend drinking it neat.  The taste is warm and spicy with a nice rounded sweetness (aged in sherry casks).  It is full bodied and clings to the side of your glass even on the rocks.  The nose highlights the spice and malty goodness.  Did I mention it was really smooth?

Not only is it a great buy, its been an absolute delight to sip while solving the worlds problems : )  I can't recommend this enough and plan to make it a staple on my bar from now on.  I got to get back to the candy store soon since I just polished this one off.




Review: Schlafly No. 15 Ale



•     Appearance:  B     •     Aroma:  A-     •     Taste:  A     •


Overall:  A-

Schlafly first introduced its No. 15 Ale in celebration of its 15th anniversary in 2006.  Fortunately, they have kept this beer in production ever since.  I think this may be the best beer brewed in St. Louis right now.

I try to introduce everyone I can to this brew, so this seems to be a great opportunity to broaden that endorsement.  So whats so great?  Its a really nice and complex session beer.  This beer seems to be brewed in the dunkel weiss, or dark wheat style although it does not advertise itself as such.

It is a little lighter than most dark wheat beers with a hazy amber appearance thanks to its unfiltered yeast.  That yeast gives this beer with a lot of character that shows up in the nose as well as in the flavor.  There are distinct fruity notes, more plumb-like than citrus, some banana and hints of clove and other spice.  This is a very, very tasty brew with just enough hops to balance the sweet wheat flavors and add some spice to the finish.

I highly recommend giving this beer a try when you can find it.  Luckily the supermarkets in the St. Louis area seem to keep it on hand for most of the year.  Schlafly has also upgraded their capacity by several thousand barrels this fall, so look for their distribution to grow!

Stay tuned, I'm going to take a shot at cloning this beer at home over the Christmas break.



Brewing Gadgets:  Refractometer

A hydrometer is a must have for brewers and wine makers to measure the amount of sugar available for conversion to alcohol, and to estimate the amount of alcohol converted during and post-fermentation, and to know when fermentation is complete.

As handy as they are, there are some real downsides to the hydrometer. Most notably, it can take half of a pint of wort or juice in order to float the hydrometer for a reading. This risks contamination of your beer or wine unless you dispose of the test liquid (which means less to drink later).

Another downside is that hydrometers are calibrated for testing liquid at 70°F.  If the liquid is hotter or colder calculations are required to correct the reading due to fluid dynamics or something like it that I should have paid more attention to in physics class.

Enter the Refractometer, a device that looks like the handle of a light saber and uses the variance in light refraction through the liquid to measure its density which can be calibrated to measure the amount of sugar and/or alcohol present using only a small drop (which cools to room temperature while measuring).

I was intrigued by the simplicity of a refractometer, so I broke down and bought on on eBay for about $30, or 5x the cost of a hydrometer.  Overall, I am quite happy with my purchase and the convenience, however don't plan on throwing away your hydrometer just yet.  The refractometer works amazingly well for testing the gravity during the brewing process while liquids are hot and the readings are very accurate when compared to a hydrometer.  However, after fermentation has begun, the alcohol content begins to skew the readings so I still take most final gravity readings with a hydrometer.

I think you could calibrate a refractometer specifically to measure alcohol content to compensate (mine even has a separate scale just for that) but I'm just to lazy for that.  Here are examples of both methods of measurement using the same wort.  It should be noted that while I let the wort cool for the hydrometer reading it was still about 80°F when taking the reading so its reading is a tick low due to the higher viscosity at that temperature.  Refractometer readings are in Brix % (which seem very close to °plato I see in pro recipes) so you need to convert them to specific gravity for comparison with a hydrometer.  I found this table on the Internet that makes the conversion easy.

The refractometer also allows quick readings during the mash process to check to see how the conversion process is going.

I highly recommend adding one to your brew kit if you are trying to better understand the efficiency of your brewing process, but just don't expect to get rid of your faithful hydrometer.

Would be a great Christmas gift too!



Science behind Guinness' cascading bubbles



I enjoy watching a freshly poured Guinness almost as much as drinking it!   I think of it as a lava lamp with drinkability.  You can approximate this effect by adding additional pressure to homebrew kegs but you risk over carbonation which can really effect the flavor profile of your beer.  The real magic happens when you step up to a Nitrogen and CO2 mix for beer gas which creates much smaller/tighter bubbles.  That's what Guinness does, to the extent of including that clever widget in their draught bottles and cans which release additional nitrogen when you open it.


So why do the bubbles seem to defy the laws of buoyancy and cascade down the side of the glass?  This episode of NPR's Science Friday explains the phenomenon quite nicely...  -D

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Spent Grain Bread

Happiness is a warm grain bed!  It pains me to part with the heavenly remains of a brewing session, but until now I haven't come up with anything more useful than composting for my hop garden.

This year I have experimented a bit in recycling brewing byproducts into bread.  My first attempt to salvage yeast from the bottom of my fermentor to make yeast rolls was a miserable failure.  I had left hop leaves in my fermenter and the hoppy flavor did not do much for the rolls.  On top of that, I was too impatient and didn't allow my yeast to get a good enough start.  The net result was chewy, bitter bread pucks that my family will not forget soon enough.

This week I decided to try and use some of my spent grains from the "Fermentation Friday Ale" to make a whole grain bread.  A baker I am not, but with a little tweaking I think I may be on to something good here...

I took about three cups of spent grain and mixed it with a cup of warm water, cup of flour, and a package of dry yeast.  I put this in my oven for most of the day with the light on to get a starter going.  later that evening I mixed in more water (3 cups) and flour (5+cups) until I got a suitable ball of dough (I think I better watch a cooking show to figure out the proper technique because I made a big mess).  Then I let that ball rise to over twice its size (couple of hours while we made some ABT's), fashioned a couple of primitive loaves and stuck them in the oven at 450° for about 30min.

They are nice and crusty on the outside like sourdough and hearty on the inside.  This bread would go great with soup.  Quite tasty if I do say so myself, and our 16 month old was begging for more

Things I might try next time:


  • Try with a batch of more interesting specialty grains
  • Fashion more attractive loaves and let them rise in their shape before placing in the oven
  • Try using beer yeast and/or add a little beer to the mix.

Happy Baking!



Review: Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA

•    Appearance:  B    •    Aroma:  B   •    Taste:  B      •


Overall:  B

It's fun to try regional microbrews when traveling.  My brother-in-law insisted on making a special stop to find this beer.  I'm not a huge fan of India Pale Ale but I'm glad we made the stop.

Dogfish Head is a regional brewer located in Delaware.  Founded in 1995 as a brewpub, it's grown now to 18 beers and is available in 25 states.  As I said, this is an IPA.  It's a very hoppy beer with a citrus finish.  It was hit with everyone during the Thanksgiving holiday.

I'll have to brush up on my beer tasting skills to be able to provide as thorough a review as -D, but I can tell yout this.  In spite of not being an IPA fan, I enjoyed the beer and would recommend that you give it a try if it's avabilable in your area.



Fermentation Friday - a new tradition?

Damn the door-busters, "Black Friday" just became "Fermentation Friday" for me!

After sharing my latest homebrews with friends visiting for the holiday we decided to break out the brew pots while the women folk were out for the day.

This batch was brewed in the spirit of Thanksgiving leftovers.  The recipe was dictated by supplies I had on hand to avoid dragging the kiddies out to the homebrew shop (special thanks to Tim for helping with both the beer and kids Friday).  As beers go, its a mutt, so I'm not sure what style category it fits in. Starting gravity settled in at 1.050 so the alcohol content to be about 5%.

Here's the recipe (5 Gallon batch):
12lbs Pilsner malt
1lb Crystal malt (20L)
1oz Kent Gouldings hops (pellets) -60min
1oz Fuggles hops (whole) - 30min
1/2 oz leftover homegrown Chinook hops (whole) -15min
SafAle American Ale yeast (dry)

However it turns out you can follow its progress all the way to the tapper right here!



Review: Michelob Winter's Bourbon Cask Ale


•   Appearance:  B    •    Aroma:  B-    •   Taste:  B      •


Overall:  B

Wow, this is a solid beer from A-B/InBev.  The Michelob brand seems to have a craft brew mentality these days and it keeps drawing me in thanks to my proximity to St. Louis.  I saw this seasonal brew at "the candy store" (Corral Liquors) while picking up supplies for the Thanksgiving holiday and couldn't resist giving it a try.

The label describes itself as a "Winter Ale Aged on Bourbon Oak Casks and Whole Madagascan Vanilla Beans" .  That description holds up quite well.    This is a unique beer with definite vanilla highlights that are complimented by distinct caramel malt flavors.

This beer has a nice amber color with a light head that fades very quickly with zero lacing.   Vanilla notes are the highlight of the aroma.  You can also pick up some of the caramel malt in the nose but no detectable hops up front.

The taste is all about vanilla, oak, caramel, and sweet malt.  Only a slight background of hop bitterness.  This is a good holiday brew with likely a higher alcohol content than most A-B products, but the creamy sweetness of this beer hides it well.  This beer reminds me quite a bit of an old fashioned cream soda.

Notable improvements would be some head retention, some spice to balance the sweetness and aroma hops.  Give this beer a try, its quite surprising.  I'll probably pick up another six to share over Christmas break.

Cheers, and Happy Thanksgiving!



Liquid Bucket List

Super MarketI stumbled on a viral blog post that I felt was worthy of piling on.  The Art of Drink compiled a list of 100 drinks everyone should try at least once called "Imbibers One Hundred".  I've taken the instructions a little further and underlined my favorites.  Looks like I'm over half way there!  Something missing?  Let us know in the comments. -D

Remember, this is just a list of things you should try, not the "best of the world" list. The list is about contrast and variation of flavor. I’m sure a few scotch addict’s, vodkaphiles and beeroholics will recommend a particular brand, but in most cases, this list is style specific, instead of brand specific. But please feel free to make recommendations.
1) Copy this list into your blog, with instructions.
2) Bold all the drinks you’ve imbibed.
3) Cross out any items that you won’t touch
4) Post a comment at Art of Drink and link to your results.
If you don’t have a blog, just count the ones you’ve tried and post the number in the comments section.

List of Drinks You Must Try Before You Expire


  1. *Manhattan Cocktail*
  2. Kopi Luwak (Weasle Coffee)
  3. French / Swiss Absinthe
  4. Rootbeer
  5. Gin Martini
  6. Sauternes
  7. Whole Milk
  8. Tequila (100% Agave)
  9. XO Cognac
  10. Espresso
  11. Spring Water (directly from the spring)
  12. Gin & Tonic
  13. Mead
  14. Westvleteren 12 (Yellow Cap) Trappist Ale
  15. Chateau d’Yquem
  16. Budweiser
  17. Maraschino Liqueur
  18. Mojito
  19. Orgeat
  20. Grand Marnier
  21. Mai Tai (original)
  22. Ice Wine (Canadian)
  23. Red Bull
  24. Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
  25. Bubble Tea
  26. Tokaji
  27. Chicory
  28. Islay Scotch
  29. Pusser’s Navy Rum
  30. Fernet Branca
  31. Fresh Pressed Apple Cider
  32. Bourbon
  33. Australian Shiraz
  34. Buckley’s Cough Syrup
  35. Orange Bitters
  36. Margarita (classic recipe)
  37. Molasses & Milk
  38. Chimay Blue
  39. Wine of Pines (Tepache)
  40. Green Tea
  41. Daiginjo Sake
  42. Chai Tea
  43. Vodka (chilled, straight)
  44. Coca-Cola
  45. Zombie (Beachcomber recipe)
  46. Barley Wine
  47. Brewed Choclate (Xocolatl)
  48. Pisco Sour
  49. Lemonade
  50. Speyside Single Malt
  51. Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee
  52. Champagne (Vintage)
  53. Rosé (French)
  54. Bellini
  55. Caipirinha
  56. White Zinfandel (Blush)
  57. Coconut Water
  58. Cerveza
  59. Cafe au Lait
  60. Ice Tea
  61. Pedro Ximenez Sherry
  62. Vintage Port
  63. Hot Chocolate
  64. German Riesling
  65. Pina Colada
  66. El Dorado 15 Year Rum
  67. Chartreuse
  68. Greek Wine
  69. Negroni
  70. Jägermeister
  71. Chicha
  72. Guiness
  73. Rhum Agricole
  74. Palm Wine
  75. Soju
  76. Ceylon Tea (High Grown)
  77. Belgian Lambic
  78. Mongolian Airag
  79. Doogh, Lassi or Ayran
  80. Sugarcane Juice
  81. Ramos Gin Fizz
  82. Singapore Sling
  83. Mint Julep
  84. Old Fashioned
  85. Perique
  86. Jenever (Holland Gin)
  87. Chocolate Milkshake
  88. Traditional Italian Barolo
  89. Pulque
  90. Natural Sparkling Water
  91. Cuban Rum
  92. Asti Spumante
  93. Irish Whiskey
  94. Château Margaux
  95. Two Buck Chuck
  96. Screech
  97. Akvavit
  98. Rye Whisky
  99. German Weissbier
  100. Daiquiri (classic)


Don't forget beer for Thanksgiving

Don't forget the beer while you're out grocery shopping for your thanksgiving feast!

Beer is a celebration of the harvest in itself and beer was also a very important part of early colonial life and the survival of the pilgrims.   Back then fresh water was likely to make you sick.   Beer became their primary source of water for the long journey and colonization.  The combination of boiling water, natural disinfectant qualities of Hops, alcohol and phenols produced by the yeast killed the harmful microbes living in water making it safe for drinking and storage.  Pilgrims even made "small beers" (lower in alcohol)  for the children.

I would suggest a Märzen/Oktoberfest to go with the Turkey (Märzen refers to March beer in Germany which is aged and then tapped for fall celebrations).  Paulaner-Oktoberfest Märzen, Samuel Adams Octoberfest, and Michelob Marzen are all good choices and readily available.  A white wheat (witbier) like a Blue Moon or Widmer might be a good second choice to have at the table.

With Braddog's pork loin or roast I would suggest a nice english brown like Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale.

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Hey MacGyver, got a bottle opener?

Even though respectable wines are beginning to shun the cork, you just can't twist open a decent bottle of beer. Fortunately for me, my kids sent me off on a camping trip this fall with this nifty "Duff Beer" hat with an opener in the bill.

So what do you do when you can't find an opener? I fell into the YouTube black hole last night and emerged with options far beyond a bic lighter...everything from a chainsaw to a Lego robot. Some of my favorites (including a piece of paper) are represented in a video clip titled "1000 ways to open a beer", okay I only counted 17 but these could easily parlay into 1000.

Be sure to share your own tricks in the comments...


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