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21 posts categorized "The Bottle Chronicles"

November 09, 2011

Free Event teaches DIYers "How to Homebrew"

by Alexis Abel

GlassofbeerWith more than 28 styles of beer and hundreds of variations, homebrewing your own beer has been embraced by DIYers of all ages. If you’re interested in homebrewing, but don’t know where to start, the Lincoln Lagers Homebrew Club, Modern Monks Brewery and Misty’s Steakhouse will be hosting a “Learn to Homebrew Day” on Saturday, Nov. 12.

Established by the American Homebrewers Association in 1999, “Learn to Homebrew Day” is a way to get new brewers schooled in all that homebrewing has to offer. Lincoln’s event will be no different. Beginning at 11 a.m. outside Misty’s Steakhouse and Brewery, 200 N. 11th St, members of the Lincoln Lagers homebrew club will start the event with a demonstration of all grain brewing.

Many hobbyists begin brewing through the purchase of a homebrew kit that includes concentrated malt extract. This step allows new brewers to skip the mashing process and head straight to the boil and fermentation stages. Saturday’s demonstration will show new and experienced brewers alike how straight forward all grain brewing can be.

Jason McLaughlin, president of the Lincoln Lagers, has been homebrewing for three years and president of the Lincoln Lagers for one. Saturday’s event, he said, will show brewers of all experience levels the benefits of joining a homebrew club. Shortly after McLaughlin started homebrewing, a friend invited him to a Lincoln Lagers meeting.  

“The beer that they were making was incredible,” he said. “It far surpassed anything I had imagined homebrewed beer could taste like. I became a member on the spot.”

Improving your beer is just one of many benefits the club can offer, McLaughlin said. Lincoln Lagers welcomes brewers of every level, from weekend hobbyists to professional microbrewers. The club’s monthly meetings consist of educational presentations and a tasting portion where members sample each others’ beer. About 10 Lincoln Lagers members are also certified judges who can help members find and improve faults in their beer.

Saturday’s event will also include an equipment swap, where brewers will have the opportunity to buy, sell or trade their unused brewing equipment. One of the hurdles, McLaughlin said, of starting a homebrewing hobby is purchasing costly brewing equipment.

One of the most rewarding aspects of homebrewing, McLaughlin said, is the thrill of discovery and experimentation. “I love to take a beer I’ve found commercially and recreate it to a quality that surpasses what I’ve found, or change it in ways to make it even better.”

“Learn to Homebrew Day” will be held Saturday, Nov. 12 outside Misty’s Steakhouse and Brewery, 200 N. 11th St., from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The event is free.

August 31, 2011

Raise a Glass to Husker Football Season

by Alexis Abel

After a long summer, I know many of you are looking forward to Saturday when the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers kick off football season with their first home game against Tennessee. In addition to several months of raucous weekends ahead, football season means tailgating with your favorite beer, cocktails and wines.

Here’s my list of five of my favorite Husker red potables to try at your next pigskin party:

 

1)      Summer Berry Caipirinha
Make the most of the end of summer by combining smooth Brazilian cachaça, red summer berries and lime. You’ll be the envy of Husker fans and opponents alike when you carry this pretty red cocktail around at your next Husker party.

2 ounces cachaça (recommended Leblon)
1 lime wedge
3 strawberries
3 raspberries
2 tsp sugar

In a cocktail shaker (maybe one shaped like a football), using the back of a spoon or a muddler, crush berries, lime and sugar until well mixed and sugar is dissolved. Fill shaker with ice and add cachaca. Shake vigorously until well-chilled and pour into a rocks glass. Garnish with additional berries and lime. Serves 1.

2)      Michelada
Forgo your usual red beer in favor of a Michelada. This grown-up combination of spices, beer and tomato juice puts your former undergraduate favorite to shame.

1/2 lime, juiced
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1-2 dash hot sauce
1-2 dash soy sauce
1/4-1/2 ounce tomato juice
1 bottle (12 ounces) of your favorite lager beer

Fill a pint glass with ice. Add tomato juice, lime juice, Worcestershire, hot sauce, soy sauce and black pepper. Stir to combine and add beer. Stir and add additional hot sauce to taste. Serves 1.

3)      Red Vermouth & Tonic
Sweet, herbal vermouth is mixed with lemon juice to create an enticing, European-style aperitif. This recipe was passed to me from Alicia Juanpere, owner of the Catacurian cooking school in El Masroig, Spain. Though slightly unusual for a tailgate, this cocktail is refreshingly cool in hot weather.

4 ounces sweet red vermouth (recommended Noilly Prat Rouge or Martini Rosso)
2 ounces tonic water
1 wedge lemon

Fill a collins glass with ice. Add vermouth. Squeeze the lemon into the glass and drop in wedge. Top with tonic water. Stir to combine and garnish with an additional lemon slice. Serves 1.

4)      Schild Estate Shiraz 2008
My husband brought this out of our wine cellar this past week and its big, bold flavor and vibrant red color make it the perfect wine to quaff while you watch the Huskers. This Australian wine packs big flavors of ripe cherries, licorice and oak into a well-structured package. Let's hope the Huskers bring this much power to their offense this season.

 

5)      Slushy Watermelon Mojitos
This recipe, from Cooking Light, combines juicy watermelon with lime and mint for an interesting take on the Cuban classic. Best of all, this recipe makes enough for a crowd, perfect for your next party.

5 cups seedless watermelon, cubed
1 cup sparkling water, chilled
3/4 cup light rum
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
1 (6 ounce) can frozen limeade
Fresh mint & lime wedges for garnish

Arrange watermelon in a single-layer on a baking sheet. Freeze 2 hours or until frozen. Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Garnish glasses with lime wedges and fresh mint springs. Serve immediately. Serves 8.

August 11, 2011

Lucky Bucket celebrates all things beer at Friday's Beer-BQ

By Alexis Abel

4e3c6bb3d5f11d78e3ab5715 Last February, I toured Lucky Bucket Brewery and Sòlas Distillery in La Vista. Since then, Lucky Bucket has celebrated its two-year anniversary and expanded both its operation and its national product distribution. A lot can change in six months.

To help celebrate their continued success, Lucky Bucket is inviting beer enthusiasts to join them for a backyard party this coming Friday, August 12 at their second annual Beer-BQ. Zac Triemert, Lucky Bucket’s master brewer and one of its owners, said this year’s Beer-BQ is for everyone that enjoys beer—in any of its myriad varieties.

Since they started making beer in 2008, Triemert has focused on making beer that is accessible to all types of beer drinkers. They consider the first beer they ever brewed,  Lucky Bucket Lager, a crossover beer (or, according to Triemert, a “gateway drug”) into the world of craft beer.

“It’s a non-scary way for people to give it [craft beer] a go,” Triemert said. “There are misconceptions about craft beer—that it’s dark or heavy. We like to show people that there is more to craft beer.”

In addition to Lucky Bucket Lager, the brewery’s commercial releases include Lucky Bucket IPA, a well-balanced, West Coast-style IPA, and Certified Evil, a barrel-aged Belgian Strong Ale with flavors of molasses and honey.

At Friday’s Beer-BQ, Lucky Bucket will launch their Single Batch Beer Series with the release of a new small batch brew, Children of the Corn. In response to the watered-down corn brews that permeate the macro-beer market, Lucky Bucket wanted to create their own version of a corn beer, in part to celebrate Nebraska roots. Children of the Corn is a Red Ale, with a rich color and flavor from caramel hops, and a sweet, corny flavor on the front end. Only about 30 kegs of Children of the Corn have been produced, and after its debut on Friday, it may be available, until it runs out, at select craft beer bars in Nebraska.

Lucky Bucket will continue their Single Batch Beer Series through the end of 2011, with their Oktoberfest, a pumpkin beer and an as-yet-to-be-determined winter brew.

The Single Batch Series, Triemert said, is a way for the brewery to stay true to its roots. “We are a team of people who are passionate about beer, and this series is a fun way to bring the team together. We want to always provide as much diversity as we can for fans of Lucky Bucket.”

 In the two years since they’ve been producing beer, Lucky Bucket has tripled their production capacity and increased their distribution to six states: Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota and Tennessee. Triemert was pleased to learn that Lucky Bucket IPA is the number one selling beer at Whole Foods in Nashville, Tenn. They also recently installed a new bottling line from Germany that allows them to bottle their beer five times faster than before, spitting out 250 cases of beer per hour.

In Lincoln, Lucky Bucket is available on tap at the Watering Hole, 1321 O Street, and in the bottle at many more bars, including Duffy’s, 1412 O Street, and O’Rourke’s Tavern, 1329 O Street.

The 2nd Annual Lucky Bucket Beer-BQ is Friday, August 12 at the brewery, 11941 Centennial Road, starting at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $22.50 per person and include three drinks tickets, 1 meal ticket, and a night of entertainment from the LB Backyard Games and a live DJ. The event also features a showcase of local homebrewers, who will be sampling their latest brews. Tickets will be on sale today and Thursday as part of the Omaha World Herald’s Daily Deal or through etix.com. The event is only open to people 21+, and only advance tickets will be honored. No tickets will be sold at the door the day of the event.

Lucky Bucket is also the sole beer provider for the Lucky Bucket Blues Festival on Saturday, August 20 at Sumtur Amphitheatre in Papillion. The event begins at 4:00 p.m. with music from the Lucky Bucket Blues Band and other local and national acts, including headliner Here Come the Mummies. Tickets can be purchased at sumtur.org.

July 20, 2011

The Bottle Chronicles: Monks, Vines & Wines

By Alexis Abel

In early July, in the cool, subterranean cellar of his Priorat winery, Spanish winemaker Jordi Vidal, discussed the complexities of wine production as he used a syringe to extract samples of wine straight from the barrel. Vidal poured the wine from the syringe into his own glass, took a small sip and smiled. Pleased with the results, he poured a small sample into each of our glasses and eagerly awaited our feedback.

Vidal’s winery, La Conreria D’Scala Dei, is one of 50 wineries in the Spanish Priorat region. My husband, Marco and I, along with two fellow foodies, Andy and John, were visiting La Conreria on a wine-tasting excursion, part of our three-day Catacurian culinary vacation. The mountain landscape in southern Catalonia, in which La Conreria is situated, overlooks the breathtaking Mediterranean Sea. But this rugged terroir, with soil comprised of black slate and quartz, creates robust red wines from the Garnacha Tinta, Carinena, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes planted here. Since the 1990s, Priorats have been renowned worldwide for their complexity and powerful flavor.

Earlier that day, we’d spent two hours stumbling through the ruins of the 12th century Cartoixa d'Escaladei, a Carthusian Monastery, for which the winery is named. It was the contemplative and solitary Carthusians who originally brought viniculture to Priorat. The monks controlled the region until 1835, when the land was seized by the Catalonian government and sold off piecemeal to small landowners. Wine continued to be produced in the region until phloxyerra insects devastated the grape vines in the late 19th century. Nearly 12,000 acres of vineyards were destroyed, causing financial ruin that led to the emigration of entire families out of the region.

In 1979, Spanish winemaker Rene Barbier, who had been producing wine in the Rioja region, purchased land that would lead to the eventual resurgence of the Priorat as an important Spanish wine region. Barbier, along with other enterprising winemakers, planted new vineyards and began producing wines that would change the Spanish wine industry.

Earlier that week, we had visited one of Priorat’s first wineries, Costers del Siurana, headed by  charismatic owner and winemaker Carles Pastrana. It was Costers del Siurana that produced one of Priorat’s first and most famous wines, Clos de l’Obac, the first vintage of which appeared in 1989.

Pastrana was an impressive showman as he described his complex wines with a smile and faint smirk. Wine tasting, he said, should be like making love, something the Spanish find particularly enticing since it was nearly banned under the fascist regime of Francisco Franco. Pastrana disdains the overly intellectual oenophiles that come to Costers del Siurana armed with their textbook-style approach to wine tasting.

Made from a blend of Garnacha, Cabernet Savignon, Syrah, Merlot and Carinena, Clos de L’Obac is matured in new French oak casks and then bottled without filtering to retain its complexity.

Another Costers del Siurana standout is Kyrie, a white wine that Pastrana spent years developing. Made of four white grape varietals grown on only 2 ½ acres of slate and sedimentary earth, Kyrie has a big structure and complexity that make it more akin to a red wine than a white.

Compared to Pastrana, Vidal seemed less the showman and more the businessman. He was quick to tell us that marketing is as much a part of Priorat’s success as its excellent soil, creative winemakers and complex, fully rendered wines. Vidal himself knew this when he decided to move his winery from a small, medieval village house to a grand and modern mountain tasting room three years ago. The new La Conreria D’Scala Dei is all glass and metal, adorned with modern art and breathtaking views of both Vidal’s vineyards and the nearby Montsant mountains.

Priorat wines have enjoyed international success since the 1990s. As suspected, they are hard to come by in Lincoln. Trader Joe's, 3120 Pine Lake Road, offers an introductory option for those new to Priorat wines. Rêves Priorat Spanish Red Wine, $9.99, is a blend of Carinena, Garnacha Tinta and Syrah and has notes of black cherry and tobacco. On first taste, the oak is overwhelming, so I recommend decanting for an hour before drinking.

Two other local stores I spoke with, The Still, 6820 South 70th Street, and Meier’s Cork and Bottle, 1244 South Street, had large selections of Spanish wine, but nothing in stock from Priorat. Both stores indicated that they would be able to special order.

For online sources of Priorat wines, try klwines.com, where you can find La Conreria D’Scala Dei’s Les Brugueres, a spicy white made from 100% Garnacha Blanca, for $29.99. Wine.com also offers a variety of Priorat wines.

June 22, 2011

The Bottle Chronicles: Refreshing Summer Brews

By Alexis Abel

Yesterday marked the happiest day of the year for many. We’ve had our share of scorching weather this spring in Lincoln, but yesterday’s solstice made it official: summer is here.

Whatever your plans are — barbecues with friends, weekends at the lake, a road trip to Nebraska’s finest tourist destinations (I recommend Carhenge) — I can’t think of a better way to celebrate summer than with an ice-cold beer.

Summer is about having fun and taking it easy, which is what you want in a summer beer.  Today’s Bottle Chronicles explores new summer brews that will keep you chill until fall.

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June 08, 2011

The Bottle Chronicles: Local Wineries Offer Diverse Options

By Alexis Abel

A couple of weeks ago, on a dour, windy and rainy Friday afternoon, I escaped the drudgery of Lincoln for an afternoon in Raymond with two of my favorite wine afficionados — my parents, Mike and Mary.

James Arthur Vineyards. Photo by Hilary Stohs-KrausePerpetually hindered by my inability to find my way anywhere in Nebraska, even though I’ve lived here for more than 25 years, I used my GPS to guide me over gravel roads the 17 miles to James Arthur Vineyards, Nebraska’s oldest and most celebrated winery. This part of the state, only a short drive northwest from the flat, dull landscape of Lincoln, is punctuated with sloping valleys and trees and vineyards of hardy red and white grape varietals.

In 1992, James Arthur Jeffers purchased an acreage north of Lincoln. The idea to plant grapes came from his son-in-law, Jim Ballard. Soon, James Arthur Vineyards was a reality, started with just three grape varietals purchased from a nursery in New York. In 1997, the winery officially opened. Just 14 years later, it's grown to more than 12,000 vines spread across 20 acres. The James Arthur Vineyard estate also boasts an indoor tasting room and wineshop, and an expansive outdoor patio that looks out onto the verdant vista. The outdoor site has become popular for weddings, family gatherings and an annual renaissance festival.

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May 25, 2011

The Bottle Chronicles: Memorable Drinks for Memorial Day Weekend

Editor's note: Confused by all the hoopla about hops? Curious as to how bars pick their tap beers? Considering delving into microbrews? "The Bottle Chronicles" has you covered. Check back every other Wednesday for a column from Alexis Abel on everything from homebrewing to wine pairing.

By Alexis Abel

For many, Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer. Originally a holiday to honor those that lost their lives during the Civil War, Memorial Day has changed over the years to become a holiday of remembrance and celebration.

With school out for the summer, and many full-time workers enjoying a day off on Monday, Memorial Day weekend is one of the most popular for outdoor entertaining, family gatherings and fireworks.

Whether you’re barbecuing outside with friends and family, or just nestling on the couch to watch the Indianapolis 500, a long weekend calls for a long list of cocktails to celebrate.

Here are some seasonally-inspired drinks that make the most of late spring produce and are a perfect accompaniment to any celebration:

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May 11, 2011

The Bottle Chronicles: DIY Infusions

By Alexis Abel

It’s been unseasonably hot in Lincoln this past week, which means that I’ve been spending most of my evenings outdoors, whether at the grill or imbibing on the porch with a good book or a group of friends.

What you'll need Liquor infusions are a unique way to make the most of your warm-weather gatherings. Though it’s easy to find a variety of infused spirits at your favorite liquor store, there’s nothing more satisfying than tapping your inner chemist and experimenting on your own. This past weekend, I infused a couple of batches of vodka which I hope to serve this week at my own impromptu porch parties.

Though you can infuse any type of alcohol, I recommend starting with something easy. The perfect vehicle for all of your infectious infusions is a neutral-flavored vodka. Steer clear of anything too cheap and go with something mid-priced, with clean, smooth flavors. For my infusions, I chose the Swedish wheat-based vodka, Svedka, which retails for around $25 for 1.75 liters.

  You will also need clean, air tight containers to store your infusions. Good choices are the vodka bottle itself, or if you’re making multiple infusions, clean mason jars with tight-fitting lids.

You’ll also need any number of fruits, seeds, herbs or vegetables with which to infuse your spirit. I chose two quick infusing, and unique ingredients: habanero peppers and fresh cucumber. Bright orange habanero peppers are the hottest readily available in supermarkets. The pepper, which is many times hotter than a jalapeno, has a floral, citrusy flavor to accompany its intense heat. If you're timid, try this recipe using fresh jalapenos or serrano chiles instead. For a future infusion, I also chose fresh pineapple. It's delicate, sweet and tropical flavor requires a much longer time to impart its essence into the vodka.

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April 27, 2011

The Bottle Chronicles: Buzzed and Blissful — What to Drink While You Watch the Royal Wedding


By Alexis Abel

For the past several weeks I’ve scoffed as the frenzy surrounding the upcoming royal wedding has intensified. With just a couple of days left before Kate and William’s big day, you may have already set your DVR or even arranged to take a paid vacation day so you can join the estimated 1 billion people planning to watch the royal pair wed.

Though I’m saving up my vacation days for something a little more momentous — a culinary vacation to Spain — I am planning to wake up at 4 a.m. to watch the spectacle unfold.

Following the classic Victorian wedding custom “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue,” here are four wedding-ready drinks. Whether you’re celebrating on the couch in your pajamas (as I will be), or with a group of friends, these sparklers are a festive and fun way to toast the newlyweds.

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April 13, 2011

The Bottle Chronicles: Sips for Spring

Bottlechronicles 

By Alexis Abel

I’m relieved that the cool and cloudy weather has finally given way to spring-like temperatures and sunshine. Soon, it’ll be time to cast off my winter clothing and put the heavy stouts and red wines I’ve been drinking back in the cellar. Just as my mood has lightened with the return of the sun, I’ve been pondering ways to lighten my libations, as well.

Here are four of my favorite sips for warm spring weather:

image from www.germanbeerinstitute.com KÖLSCH

This pale, easy-drinking beer is a specialty of Cologne, Germany. Kölsch is first warm fermented and then cold conditioned. It has a light, crisp flavor with light carbonation and little hoppiness. In Cologne, there are 14 breweries that craft their own version of kölsch, but only two are available in Nebraska: Reissdorf and Sunner.

Kölsch is best served chilled in a two-millileter cylindrical kölsch glass, if you can find one. The glassware’s thin, pole-like shape allows the carbonation to rise and give the beer a light mouthfeel. This is also a favorite style for American craft brewers; local brewers Modern Monks turn out a slightly hoppier version of the original that’s available on draught at Misty's Steakhouse.

Where to find it

On tap

Reissdorf Kölsch: Derailleur Tap Room (inside District), 1427 O St.

Modern Monks Kölsch: Misty’s Steakhouse & Brewery, 200 N. 11st St., and Original Misty's, 6235 Havelock Ave.

In the bottle

Reissdorf & Sunner Kölsch – Yia Yia’s Pizza and Beer, 1423 O St, and Brix, 225 N. 170th St., Omaha

Continue reading "The Bottle Chronicles: Sips for Spring" »

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