Explore ultimate darkness with bourbon barrel-aged stouts

It's been a tremendous month of dark beer, loyal readers. We've sipped sweet, milky, and salted caramel stouts. This week, we're going to explore the platonic ideal of dark beers: barrel-aged stout. What could be darker than that? Nothing, except perhaps if a Russian Imperial Stout was fermented in a black hole and served only to people wearing sunglasses at midnight. Absurdities aside, barrel-aged stouts are aged in wooden barrels for as long as several…

What's burning? Smoked beer from Maine

  It's been a pleasure sampling super dark beers, loyal reader. But my palate needs a break from the dark side, so I'm making a momentary detour into an uncommon style: smoked beers.   Long ago, most malts were dried with burning coal, wood, or peat, each of which imparted a unique smokey aroma to the beer. These days, maltsters use kilns to dry malt, which don't impart a smoked flavor. Smokiness is a choice,…

The Clink: Checking in with Mast Landing Brewing Company

We’re now up to 89 breweries and counting in the state. While the concerns about an eventual craft brewery “bubble” make for interesting dinner conversation, the industry in Maine has shown admirably few growing pains. It would be one thing if the recent spate of brewery openings was watering down the standard of quality in the state, but what has happened is close to the opposite. The Maine beer industry is now a thoroughly collegial…

Tiqa Takes a Trip to Taste the Origin of Its Cuisine

When was the last time the owner of your business or your supervisor, asked if you’d like to take a trip abroad to discover the food and culture of a region? Many of my friends belly ache about business trips. They complain that they don’t get to venture outside of their hotel or they’re forced to eat conference food — legitimate reasons to piss and moan. I don’t think you’ll hear any complaints coming from…

Coffee + Stout + Milk = Happy

Welcome to the dark side, loyal reader! Rather than push our collective glasses up the bridge of our collective noses and mutter about ABV, IBU and SRM*, we're going to appreciate the lighter, more fun aspects of darker beers. Dark beer is a blast — and tasting styles with unusual adjuncts is a great way to make that point. This week, we're going to sample stouts that include coffee and milk flavors. We've tasted coffee…

Serious Fun With Marshmallow Stout

  Stout has a reputation as a “serious,” weighty beer. Perhaps it's the dark color and heavy body of this style that lends it such a somber reputation? I've long argued that many stouts are more lighthearted than they appear. Take Guinness, for example. It has fewer calories per pint than many lighter-colored beers, and clocks in under 4% alcohol by volume. In an effort to shatter the stereotypes of serious, dour stouts, I'm dedicating…

The Clink: Checking in with Gneiss Brewing Company

Of all the considerations that go into starting a new brewery, location is one of the most central. Most brewers opt for a spot near the heart of a populous area and do so for two obvious reasons: increased foot traffic and proximity to more draft accounts.   But when Dustin Johnson and Tim Bissell, founders of Gneiss Brewing, started brainstorming locations in 2012, they decided to go in a more pastoral direction. The brewery…

With new owners and a new head chef, what's cooking at Caiola’s?

Did anything interesting happen last year?   It’s already so hard to remember. You could say the same for the food scene here in Portland, where few developments made people take notice. Folks talked about Drifter’s Wife, thanks to its palatable pedanticism and New York PR connections. But prices there are already climbing, which saps the charm from that particular embodiment of why the rust belt resents the cultural elite.   Other developments emphasized the…

While Pho explodes in popularity, take time to learn its history

I have been dining out longer than I care to say and I admittedly had my first bowl of Pho (pronounced “fuh”), when I relocated to Portland from Brooklyn three years ago. I’m sure I’d heard of this famous noodle soup, but I’m not certain why I had not been introduced to it. I have regrets about this omission; however, the not knowing has peaked my interest even further.   French missionaries traveled and lived…

Milk Stout Does a Body Good

Think about stout, loyal reader, and the mind conjures a bitter, black draft, with roasted flavors. Now imagine adding the sweet, creamy character of milk to the roasted, bitter experience of the stout. That's the essence of a milk stout, a novel style of beer that includes lactose, a sugar derived from dairy. Lactose can't be fermented, so it doesn't get turned into alcohol. Instead, it remains in the beer, adding a sweet, rich flavor.…
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