Seth Levy

Seth Levy

Beer glasses: Pretentious or practical? Improving your boozing experience with the proper tools

Would you eat a filet mignon off a paper plate, or ice-cream with a fork? Don't answer either question literally, loyal reader – I'm of the opinion that the appropriate container makes all the difference when it comes to good food. This is doubly true for a good beer. Appropriate glassware can't turn a pint of skunky swill into a pleasing Saison, but the right glass can make a good beer taste better. Conversely, the wrong glassware can compromise the flavor of even the best beer. This isn't a cryptic form of beer-alchemy; physics, not chemistry, explains the effects of a glass on the liquid inside. Here’s how good glassware works to improve the flavor of beer:

Seductive Styles

Oyster stout with oysters. (Photo by Seth Levy)I respectfully disagree with Shakespeare, who said, “Lechery, sir, drink provoketh and it unprovoketh; it provoketh the desire but it taketh away the performance.” The Bard had obviously never tried pairing a willing participant and a beer carefully selected for maximum erotic effect — though his caution on over-consumption is well-taken. A modest dose of alcohol puts your bod in the mood by dilating peripheral blood vessels, leading to a feeling of warmth, relaxing muscles and tamping down the brains' “executive” functions, e.g. that reliable inner voice that tells you to quit drinking while you're ahead. Ignore the voice, and an anesthetic effect predominates — dulling nerves, impairing the motor cortex, and rendering you numb, dumb and certainly not seductive. With Valentine’s Day just behind us, try a serving or two of one of these seductive styles of beer for maximum effect!

 How to use beer in cocktails

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Beer is a versatile beverage: It works well alone and with others. Just as it helps you meet and socialize with strange people, beer helps strange spirits meet, mingle and mate to form creative and refreshing beer cocktails. Traditional mixers like seltzer or tonic are one dimensionally fizzy, but beer has a wide range of colors, viscosities, and flavors. Think of beer as a turbo-charged cocktail-enhancer: Rather than just diluting the booze, it's adding another dimension of flavor. Since it's already alcoholic, it's also adding another dimension of drunkenness.

Cold beers for colder winter nights

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Winter in Maine is serious business. Sub-zero days, shoveling injuries and seasonal affective disorder are such profound pains in the ass that they demand profound beers.

High-alcohol beers with lots of flavor

Last week, we reviewed four low-alcohol beers that won’t give you a four-alarm hangover. This week, in honor of breaking New Year's resolutions and taking advantage of the tolerance you've built through the long holiday season, we're swinging the opposite direction to taste some big beers, with big flavor and big alcohol-by-volume to match.

Recipes to make you forget you're drinking coffee brandy

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In a 2006 Washington Post story, writer David Fahrenthold dubbed coffee brandy the “champagne of Maine," while comparing its flavor to “equal parts alcohol, sugar and coffee-pot slag.” Coffee brandy does have a coarse reputation in Maine, and a particular mix of cloying sweetness and fire when drank straight. Worse, the traditional means of consuming coffee brandy, either mixed half and half with milk, or chugged directly from a paper bag at a pit party, does this spirit few favors. But there’s no denying that this is Maine’s liquor of choice, and deep within this murky liquid there is a hidden elegance, an interplay of sweet and bitter, stimulant and depressant, that make it an ideal base for a decidedly grown-up cocktail. Here are a few of our favorites.

How to pair beer with holiday foods

Christmas, Hanukkah and New Years Eve are a challenge to the dedicated beer drinker, because foods are bolder, richer and more unusual than any other time of the year. At any random holiday gathering, you’ll encounter gingerbread cookies, latkes redolent of onion and garlic, a clove-studded ham, turkey, and elderly relatives, blitzed on a combination of blood-pressure medication and eggnog, blurry inquiring if your job has something to do with “FacePlace.” These challenges are too profound for an ordinary summer-session lager.

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