Thursday, January 1, 2015

Brews for Wine Lovers

Brews for wine lovers. I like this description for our growing selection of specialty beers. While the trend in craft beers right now is dominated by heavily hopped IPAs with high ABVs, I go the other way. I do like the complex and food friendly taste of bitter ales, but I favor maximum flavor power with minimum alcohol. I love beers that don't go much over 5 ABV but with a richness of funky infusions that produce layers of taste sensations, which I could only compare to wines. Not least of all, these kinds of beer scream for food.

I urge you to try out our unique beer selection. If you are a wine lover, then chances are you have an adventurous palate. You would love these creatively-made beers that I've selected, which are disruptive in the beer world. My credo is there's always a wealth of taste waiting to be discovered.

Mikkeller, based in Denmark, is widely praised as one of the greatest brewers in the world. In Denmark, with over 11,000 brewers, Mikkeller has been awarded best brewery, and routinelty many of its beers are rated best in the world. It owes its success for pushing the envelope on tastes, coming up with new and surprising flavor profiles. One of its latest beers is a collab with San Francisco's (though more like New York lately) Mission Chinese Food. It is a pale pilsen brewed in Belgium, flavored with Sichuan peppercorns! Not quite fire-breathing, but gently spicy with subtle herbal notes. 4.5 ABV. It is a great beer to start off a meal before imbibing wine, perhaps with a bowl of fried garlic or wok-fried mussels with Thai chilis.

Mikkeller "Mission Chinese Food" 330ml $5.85 (order here)

Baird Brewery is in Izu, right on the banks of Kano River not far from Mt. Fuji. The brewery has a small farm, where it grows its own hops, as well as fruits and vegetables. It crafts beer in small batches and always unfiltered and allowed to go through a secondary fermentation in bottle to produce a natural carbonation. The Rising Sun Pale Ale is 5.1 ABV made with dry hopping for a slightly bitter, hoppy taste that's exquisite combined with the spicy flavor extracts. Perfect with a bowl of edamame and pickled vegetables. Kanpai!

Baird Brewery "Rising Sun" Pale Ale 12oz $5.45 (order here)

Sansho Herbal Ale is wine lover's beer. It's not a big beer like an IPA, no, it's more delicate than that. Plus, it offers complex herbal and spicy flavors that have more similarity to wine, and that make it perfect to enjoy with many dishes, particularly seafood and spicy cuisine. The Sekinoichi Shuzo brewery uses only local ingredients (except for the hops) to produce this beer. The water they use is a source of local pride, coming from the mountains and gorges that surround the city of Ichinoseki in the Iwate Prefecture.

Iwate Kura Beer Sekinoichi Shuzo Japanese Herb Ale "Sansho" 11.5oz $7.00 (order here)

Among the geekiest beer enthusiasts Drie Fonteinen, along with Cantillon, are the cultiest of all. Based in Beersel in the outskirts of Brussels, Drie Fonteinen specializes in crafting blended lambics known as gueze. These sour beers are made with organically grown ingredients, using spontaneous (indigenous yeast) fermentation and are unfiltered and unpasteurized. The Beersel Lager is a pilsner made in the lambic style, using the same lambic ingredients. It is unfiltered, unpasteurized, and allowed to go through a secondary fermentation in the bottle. This has a deliciously slight bitterness and a really pure taste. Says brewer Armand Debelder, "Beer is our passion, Beersel is the result."

Drie Fonteinen Beersel Lager, Drie Fonteinen (Belgium) 330ml $5.40 (order here)

Brasserie de la Senne based in Brussels is one of Belgium's smallest breweries with a fierce dedication to tradition and quality. Its beers are unpasteurized, unfiltered, and free of any additives. One of its most celebrated beers is the Crushable, a collab with Tired Hands Brewing in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. The latest version is this Crushable de Table, a true farmhouse ale. 4.2 ABV. Bright bitter flavors with a round refreshing body. A favorite of serious beer enthusiasts, scoring 97 points overall in But wine lovers would find this equally alluring for its freshness and bright herbal, bitter flavors. A stunning all-around beer.

De La Senne "Crushable de Table", Brasserie de la Senne (Belgium) 330ml $5.45 (order here)

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