Sierra Nevada

Summer Shandy Love

Friday, May 22, 2015 | Kona, Shock Top, Sierra Nevada, Starr Hill Brewery, Susquhanna, Widmer

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By now, you’re probably familiar with shandies; the beer cocktail that is typically mixed with lemonade, but could include a soft drink such as ginger ale, other light sodas, or orange juice. They’ve become a popular addition to many breweries’ lineups, particularly as the weather warms and craft drinkers look for refreshing beverages. Usually sweet and often tart, these mixes are a great fruity break from maltier or hoppier alternatives. They also tend to be lower in alcohol content, due to their mixed nature, so make a great go-to for day-time get-togethers like picnics and BBQs or just relaxing on the deck on a weekend.

The idea of mixing a sweet drink with beer might seem strange at first, but it’s been going on for a long time, and with good reason. The earliest record of a beer cocktail of its ilk is from 1853, in the form of the shandygaff, a beer and ginger ale mix. Other countries have their own versions, including the Radler (German for cyclist), a beer mixed with sparkling lemonade, which supposedly originated in Munich in 1922. France has its version, the Panache, which is close to the Radler definition. Even Singapore has a cocktail where beer is mixed with tonic water, called Kip Lin after its inventor.

Where shandies were traditionally mixed on-site, you can now conveniently buy them pre-mixed in a bottle. Here are a few to try:

Widmer Bros Hefe Shandy – A hefeweizen made with Lemon Drop hops and mixed with natural lemonade for a lip-smacking mix. 4.2% ABV

Shock Top Shandy – Another wheat beer with a big lemon taste and a spicy yeast to back it up. 4.2% ABV

Susquehanna Shady Spot Shandy – This shandy harkens back to the traditional English style: dry and refreshing. 4.7% ABV

While these shandies are a great grab-n-go option, and definitely worth a try, you might want to try your hand and making one of your own. If you’re unsure of where to begin, let’s go over a few simple recipes that can get you started, and you can take it from there.

Big Lemon Wave

1 12oz bottle Kona’s Big Golden Wave

4oz Fresh lemonade, pulp optional

Mix, garnish with lemon rind for aroma.

Grapefruit Popfest

6oz bottle Sierra Nevada Summerfest

6oz Pure grapefruit juice, pulp optional

Splash sparkling water

Mix all, garnish with slice of lemon. Use one 12oz bottle for two servings.

Ginger Love

12oz bottle Starr Hill The Love Hefeweizen

6oz Ginger ale, such as Schweppes

Mix, garnish with either a thin slice of fresh ginger or slice of lemon

Great American Beer Festival 2014

Friday, October 17, 2014 | Old Dominion, Sierra Nevada, Troegs, Uinta, Victory, Widmer

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It’s time for our roundup of notable Great American Beer Festival competition winners for 2014. If you aren’t familiar with the festival, it’s one of the largest beer fest in the states, started in 1982 by nuclear engineer Charlie Papazian in Boulder, CO, though now it takes place in Denver. It also hosts one of the most prolific beer competitions, with over 2000 brews entered annually, seeking to be named one of three brews that best exemplifies its style.

Gold

Victory Golden Monkey – Belgian-Style Tripel

Troegs Troegentaor – Bock

Silver

Widmer Bros. Hefeweizen – American-Style Wheat Beer With Yeast

Old Dominion Spiced Harvest – Pumpkin Beer

Uinta Cutthroat – Ordinary or Special Bitter

Be sure to raise a glass to these winners, and try any of the brews you haven’t gotten a chance to yet. And if you want a chance to try the gold-winning brews by Troegs and Victory, this is the perfect excuse to make the way to their breweries to try the beers right at the source. They’re both a great spot to grab a bite if you’re out holiday shopping, too.

Troegs Tasting Room & Snack Bar: Located in Hershey, Troeg’s tasting room offers visitors the chance to try their various brewed offerings while taking a self-guided tour through the brewing process. And just adjacent to the tasting room is the snack bar, where Troegs partners with different local farms, meat-providers and creameries to bring you delicious foods inspired by their beers.

Victory Brewpubs: Victory has two brewpub locations, one at the original brewery in Downtingtown, one in Kennet Square. Their menu includes regular pub fare with their own twist, sandwiches, soups, and daily menu additions that their chefs come up with. Not to mention, all their brews on tap.

To Garnish or Not to Garnish

Wednesday, March 27, 2013 | 5 Rabbit, Hoegaarden, Ingredients, Shock Top, Sierra Nevada, Starr Hill Brewery, Uinta

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We all know that certain beers should be paired with certain foods. However, there’s another way food can be served with beer; as a garnish. There are a number of brews out there intended to be served with a slice of orange or lime, but what’s the purpose? And where did it all get started?

There is some debate over whether a slice of lemon in wheat beers was started in the 1960s in Germany, or whether it was an American invention. However, before the US really had any wheat beers of its own, it served these sorts of garnishes in German-themed bars along with Hefeweizens, suggesting it was a tradition started across the Atlantic. The whole idea was probably adopted as an imitation of cocktails, which were the drink of choice at bars at the time.

Since then, lemon, lime and orange slices have caught on as a popular addition to American wheat beers and cervezas. Most fans agree that the tartness of the fruit complements the yeasts used in the beers, and sometimes enhance the beer’s natural citrus flavor. Citrus isn’t the only garnish that has been used with beers, though.

Most people don’t really question why there are mixed nuts or pretzels at the bar, but they have significance. The salt on the nuts and pretzels can complement the flavor of a beer. Some bartenders go as far as hanging pretzels from the glass with certain beers. If you have a nut allergy—or don’t want to risk eating anything out of a bowl that countless others have stuck their hands into—you can add the salt directly to your beer or around the rim. This is an old tradition that has its roots in old wives’ tales of helping with cramps, and is not as common a way to garnish beer anymore. Still, there are flavored salts made especially for adding to your brew, and adding salt to beer can deflate the carbonation, which may be a plus to some drinkers looking to avoid a gassy stomach.

Salt and lime as a mix of garnishes is especially prevalent in states bordering Mexico. A michelada is a beer cocktail that uses salt, pepper, lime, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. There are a number of takes on this simple recipe, using different beers, and non-traditional hot sauces like Sriracha. Chili peppers are another ingredient that is sometimes used for micheladas.

Chocolate is another beer garnish option, pairing especially well with stouts, barley wines, porters and some lambics. You can do this a number of ways, including powdering a glass with a coco mix, or making dark or milk chocolate ornaments.

There are a number of other less common garnishes, including green olives, which are usually paired with American or English pale ales, and cinnamon sugar rims, which go well with pumpkin ales. Fruit beers can also be paired with the fruit with which they are flavored, including berries, cherries and watermelon.

Some purists believe that adding any embellishment to a beer is just a way of covering up poor quality, though. They argue that the beer itself should be taste enough, and that adding anything to it only covers up the flavor, either to the detriment of a good brew, or the benefit of a beer with off or little flavors. Another complaint about some garnishes is that they deflate the head, and as with the case with salty choices, can affect the carbonation of the beer, which some believe should not be tampered with.

We say that garnishes are a matter of taste, and a fun way to experiment with a brew you already know and love. So, here’s a few suggested pairings that might make garnish doubters think twice.

Hoegaarden Original White Ale; garnish with slice of lemon hanging off the rim to accentuate the sweet, citrus flavor and offset the spicy clove.

Starr Hill Dark Starr Stout; rim glass with cocoa powder, or just pair with a small bar of dark chocolate.

Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest Fresh Ale; drop a couple of green olives into this IPA, and watch the bubbles gather around them, allowing them to float back to the top.

5 Rabbit 5 Lizard; lemon goes well with this latin-style witbier, and salt or hot sauce can also be a good choice of garnish.

Uinta Punk’n Harvest Pumpkin Ale; powder the rim of the glass with a cinnamon and sugar mix to add a little kick to this already delicious pumpkin ale.

Shock Top Raspberry Wheat; plopping a couple of raspberries into this popular Belgian-style wheat ale slightly strengthens the berry’s flavor… and you get a little treat in the bottom of your glass.

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