Australia produces around 1% of the world’s hop supply. Not a significant number by itself, but what is significant is their focus on breeding, development and global marketing. Most of the hops currently grown down under are well regarded by American and other craft brewers for their unique flavors and aromas and high alpha acid content (re: IPA appropriate).
It’s asparagus season (and roses are in bloom). Rejoice! Asparagus is known to be a difficult food to pair with wine–notoriously difficult, even. Beer, however, is new territory. I chose a light-bodied, crisp lager that was well hopped with bright citrusy and piney hops to go with a simple blanched asparagus salad–a little lemon, nice salt and fresh pepper is really all you need, but a homemade mayo or aioli would be even more exciting.
Hops are an increasingly valuable agricultural product for breweries around the globe. Getting a grasp on changing acreage, trending varieties, farming practices and agricultural policies is critical as the number of craft breweries exponentially increases and macro multi-national beer companies shift territory and influence. This is not just relevant to those of us in the beer industry, however–consumers always benefit from a sharper focus on the big picture. When it comes to beloved consumables like craft beer, everyone should know not just what makes up the products they’re buying but also where those ingredients came from and why they’re significant. Knowledge makes everything taste bigger.
Ah, the lovely saison in springtime! What a good choice for bright days with breezes. Saisons span a very wide territory as far as styles go. Some are simple, table beers, some are very yeasty, fruity or spicy, some are even sour. There’s a lot of options for pairing–cheese is a great example, and spring vegetables are a good choice too. But today I’m interested in particular in pairing a light-bodied, non-wild saison alongside olives. Pick high-quality olives for this one, something from an olive bar with a range of flavors and brines–kalamatas in oil, castelvetranos, herb brined, cheese-stuffed–your choice. They all work in slightly different manners.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I was lucky enough to spend a week in April attending the 2017 Craft Brewers Conference in Washington, D.C. From my time this trip and two earlier in the year to New York City and Philadelphia, respectively, I’ve started to grasp some coastal distinctions. As more regional breweries like Stone and Sierra Nevada open facilities on both coasts, I wonder how common it will be to find truly regionally distinctive beers in the future. Smaller breweries and brewpubs are the sturdy backbone in this conversation. They brew smaller batches often with innovative focus for specific local consumers. Noticing the smaller differences in craft trends can say a lot not just about the demands of a market but also an area’s history. For nearly all my beer drinking years, I’ve been situated on various points along the West Coast. I’m spoiled for choices and hops are queen here (ahem, hop plants that produce useful products for beer are female). You know my biases now. Given those, I wanted to highlight a few noticeable differences in craft beer, East Coast vs. West.
It’s spring! And time for fresh, bright green things. As breweries ramp up to their spring and summer seasonals, I’m excited to showcase a few basic pairings that you can experiment with. Today we’ll start with my favorite perky salad green, arugula, alongside an American pale ale of light body and mildly citrusy hops. American pale ales come in a huge array of sizes, colors, flavors and packages, so I’m leaving this one intentionally open for your personalizing. What you will definitely want is a bright but not too dank hop profile, a light nuttiness in the malt, and a general “easy-to-drink” feeling. I chose a favorite pale, Fremont Brewing‘s Universale Pale, but a pale with more spicy notes or more grapefruit notes would also be amazing. A light dressing on the arugula completes the picture!
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