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The best airport breakfasts

Rick Bayless' Bacon Mollete at Tortas Frontera

Rick Bayless’ Bacon Mollete

Best case scenario:?You breeze through security with time to spare. More likely: Snow and sleet leave you stranded. Don’t waste time screaming at a gate agent; instead, enjoy the most important meal of the day at these better-than-fast-food airport outposts.

Chicago O’Hare // Tortas Frontera
Terminals 1, 3 and 5 sell breakfast sandwiches the Rick Bayless way—that is, locally driven, authentically Mexican and in the vein of his iconic downtown Frontera Grill. The airport offshoot puts out a.m. tortas (griddle-baked sandwiches on bolillo or telera bread) and molletes (open-faced versions) that show off the chef’s geniously unfussy flavor compositions: There’s a hearty egg-chorizo torta, and molletes wearing fig spread atop smoked pork, or pecans and peanut butter over caramelized plantains. A yogurt bar puts flavor combos in your hands: Choose plain or Greek yogurt, honey or cajeta caramel, house granola or compote—or pile on the whole enchilada.

Newark Liberty International // Garden State Diner
This Jersey-style diner serves up hearty bites and a healthy dose of kitsch, like the classic car balanced above the entrance. The menu’s got a dozen-plus omelets and playful faves like Pancakes Elvis (peanut butter and banana, naturally). For genuine N.J. flavor, go for Frankie’s Eggs Benedict: two eggs, poached to wobbly perfection over a slab of grilled Taylor ham—a processed cross between Canadian bacon and fried bologna—on a toasty, open-faced English muffin, smothered in creamy hollandaise. Wash it down with a shake like the Orange Creamsicle: vanilla ice cream and orange juice whipped into creamy harmony. Need a different kind of pick-me-up? The full bar opens at 9 a.m.

Phoenix Sky Harbor // Barrio Café Por Avion
If you didn’t make it to the real Barrio Café, a Phoenix institution run by twice-James-Beard-nominated chef Silvana Salcida Esparza, you can still taste Southwest sabor at its colorful Terminal 4 outpost. You’ll avoid all airport blasé with massively portioned spicy egg dishes, like a simple sammy with huevos done up your way and topped with cheese, chorizo and salsa. Or, opt for the sombrero-sized Arizona Burrito brimming with sweet ’n’ spicy green chile pork and gooey cheese crowned with a pair of fried eggs. Sip French-pressed coffee, or opt for a kicky Michelada made with a Mexican brew. Missed breakfast? Try any dish with the famous Cochinita Pibil.

BEFORE YOU BOARD… Get one last sip at these airport spinoffs of beloved breweries:?1. Stone Brewing, San Diego International // 2. New Belgium Hub, Denver International // 3. Bell’s Brewery, Gerald R. Ford International (Grand Rapids, Mich.) // 4. Cigar City Brewing, Tampa International // 5. Laurelwood Brewing, Portland International


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The everything-under-$60 beer lover’s gift guide
Pasta artisans at NYC’s Sfoglini dry out spent grains from Bronx Brewery’s pale ale, mill them, sift them, then mix the flour into earthy, rich, radiator-shaped pasta that just begs for Bolognese. 
$8, sfoglini.com Recycled beer bottles become Sprout Bottle Gardens, kits of seeds, soil and fertilizer that bloom into mini-terrariums of flowers (lavender, marigold) and herbs (basil, sage).
$29, sproutbottle.com This beery riff on the children’s classic replaces the old lady whispering “hush” with a bear named Charlie and sweet malted barley. Even with a brewing-science primer at the back, the book’s totally kid-appropriate.
$17, bailiwickpress.com A splash of SweetWater brew anoints every Alcoholwicks candle; the pale ale version smells like an orange grove, flower shop and taproom rolled into one.
$13, brownbagsoap.com California’s Boujie Baking Co. updates sweet, salty brittle with Redwood Curtain IPA.
$7, boujiebakingco.com Offer guests a bite and a beer in six languages with cheery sampler plates.
$25 for 6, crateandbarrel.com This roomy tote can hold two six-packs (or just your gym clothes).
$22, popchartlab.com Nothing wrong with the old Douglas fir, but a beer-bottle tree's much merrier, no?
$50, northernbrewer.com Get a beer novice started (or restock a geek) with Spiegelau’s Tasting Kit—one IPA, lager, pilsner and wheat beer glass each. 
$50, spiegelau.com DropCatch’s ingenious beer carrier folds flat—perfect for slipping into a suitcase, or under the front seat.
$50, dropandcatch.com They’re not your grandpa’s sock hops: Any beer lover will get a kick out of this fun footwear. $10, zoraab.com Hand-brewed or hand-picked, a mix-six is the ultimate bespoke gift; skip the wrapping paper and tie on an oversize letterpress tag. 
$3, paperplatespress.com A sack of Soberdough, a bottle of beer and 45 minutes gets you soft, fresh (and vegan!) beer bread. Bake a loaf of Cinnful Raisin for breakfast, Green Chile Cheddar for dinner, and six other flavors whenever your tummy’s rumbling. 
$8, soberdough.com We're longtime fans of JB's Best BBQ sauces (crafted with beer from Jackie O's); the brand-new Blazin' Bacon flavor is our latest obsession.
$5, jbsauces.com Soap made with brew brings new meaning to shower beer: View our favorite beer bars here. Lunchbox by day, beer carrier by night, Mountainsmith's The Sixer cooler schleps your stuff for hikes, tailgates and office commutes.
$22, mountainsmith.com The jerky makers at Righteous Felon teamed with Victory Brewing to infuse beefy goodness with Storm King Stout.
$8, victorybeer.com Mom will be so proud when you use Scrabble coasters to protect the table AND use your noggin! $22, burkedecor.com Clever-up your kitchen cleaning with a catchy, beer-themed towel. 
$7, corkpops.com The Homebrewer’s Lab Book is like a captain’s log for beer makers: Two pages for each brew help beer chefs catalog all the details of homemade hooch from ingredients to brewing temps to tasting notes. Coordinating you-write-’em labels give up to 
40 bottles a graphic edge.
from $13, chroniclebooks.com Upgrade your glass jug to a Miir Growler; double-walled stainless steel keeps draft-only brew cold and carbonated for up to 24 hours sans fridge.
$59, miir.com
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10 practical tips for beer travelers

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The cold descends, and the scheming begins.

Maybe it’s that cyclical desire to escape the weather, like birds heading south. Maybe it’s the making of plans to revisit family and friends for the calendar’s mightiest eating-and-drinking holidays. Maybe it’s the temporarily limitless potential of the coming year. This desk calendar has one sheet left, and the next calendar is pristine, unmarked. Reality has yet to set parameters on vacation fantasies.

And it’s always possible, theoretically, that the money needed will appear in the bank account. If not, there is always the shoestring approach — the last-minute, budget booking somewhere unexpected, the trip that makes friends and colleagues jealous, the one that reminds you what it’s all about and makes you wonder why you don’t do it more often.

Or it could be simpler: that desire to escape the most stressful season.

Maybe it’s all of the above. I just know I get obsessed with hatching evil plans this time of year. Invariably, those plans incorporate, involve or flat-out revolve around beer.

Given that you are reading this, here, I reckon that you are—even if just once in a while—a fellow thirsty pilgrim. A Traveler Preoccupied by Beer. Welcome. Let’s share best practices.

Based on my own experiences and consultations with other beeronauts, here are 10 tips for planning the next mission:

1. Do your homework.

Anticipation. For some, this is nearly as much fun as the trip itself. Good planning takes time. Incentivize the online slog with a tall glass of something tasty. Then learn the lay of the land.

Hunting for airfare or hotel deals is no different than any other sort of trip. But proximity matters to a drinker; our monuments and museums are breweries and bars. Oh look honey, our hotel is right next to that world-class pub. With online mapping, you can plot out your own priorities and access them via smartphone. Any website with beer reviews—Ratebeer, TripAdvisor, whatever—can help identify and narrow down options.

Savvy beer-focused guidebooks are best of all. (Full disclosure: I wrote one.) As a bonus, a handy book can help free you from constantly checking electronic doodads—one of those things from which we may be trying to escape.

2. Plan non-beer stuff.

Really. Like, one thing, at least. It’s good for health of mind, body and relationships.

“Split your time,” says Richard Dinwoodie, co-owner of the Rake, a trailblazing beer bar near London’s Borough Market. “You know what your partner or other half is interested in. So find something you both can do.”

Recent example: In Brussels I booked a chocolate-making workshop for the family. Big hit. The kids loved it, and we took home a ton of chocolates we made ourselves. (And did the shop’s café happen to stock some great local beers? Yes. Yes it did.)

3. Make an itinerary.

This sounds anal. It doesn’t have to be. I was both frightened and impressed the first time a co-traveler emailed me his day-by-day, hour-by-hour schedule before our trip. Where’s the fun in that?

Then I saw how well it worked. Nearly every item is flexible or negotiable; the point is to do some mental labor ahead of time. Then you don’t have to think as much later.

And let’s be frank: We share interest in a beverage that hinders mental labor. Indeed, that is part of the attraction. Having a plan, however loose, can remove the need to make decisions at those times when we are least interested in such things.

And it helps to know the transit routes and schedules. Unless you’re driving.

4. Don’t drive.

Not if you can help it.

5. Pack smartly.

Some people pack for the weather. We pack for the bottles.

Advice varies but revolves around protecting those precious glass darlings for the trip home. Bring an extra bag; a hard-sided suitcase is best. Pack it with bubble wrap (it’s no fun shopping for bubble wrap when visiting foreign countries).

As Kansas City graphic designer and beer blogger Jim Wagner notes, “bottles fit in socks.” Coincidence? I add: Thicker ones are better.

“It keeps them from clanging around,” Wagner says. “Pack some small towels and plastic bags, for added insurance.”

Can all this be a pain in the ass? Yes. Especially if you hate checking luggage. But there is another way: Collect memories instead of bottles. Spend less time shopping and more time soaking in the atmosphere of interesting places. (Confession: I hate lugging bottles. Those beers rarely taste as good out of context, anyway. But they are fun to share later, and they do make nice gifts.)

6. Have a friend on the ground.

Weird how that Anthony Bourdain guy always has folks willing to show him around town. Seems to work for him.

“Phone ahead,” says Pete Brown, author of several books that, among other things, often incorporate international journeys and local brews. “Get in touch with someone, someone in that town. And you’ll see a completely different side of that town.”

Of course this is not always possible. But it’s nice if you can manage it. Beer is such a friendly medium. Odds are you’ll get to return the favor someday to your guide, or a friend of his. Or a friend of a friend.

Another alternative is to chat with locals who know.

“If you’re going to a beer festival and you are very interested in the local beer scene, go to the local bottle shops as soon as you get there,” says Dina Slavensky, a personal trainer and avid beer hunter originally from Chicago but now based in Edinburgh. “Others are going to have similar ideas, and if you wait until even a day into the festival, you might miss out on some fantastic buys.”

And any travel writer can tell you that tourist offices are great, underutilized resources—especially once they know your area of interest.

7. Drink lots of water.

Needs no explanation.

8. Eat food.

Really, you should not have to be told. But a proper meal in a restaurant with decent beers beats the desperate, late-night, street-fried… well, come to think of it, make time for both.

“Very often, it’s better to go to a bar or restaurant with a great selection of beer rather than a brew pub or brewery,” Wagner says. “Carmelo, the man who ran the bed-and-breakfast where we stayed in Brussels, implored my wife and me to ‘carpet our stomachs’ before embarking on a night of drinking. It’s good advice, traveling or not.”

Carpet your stomachs?

“I’m sure the phrase sounded better in French.”

9. Practice moderation, in moderation.

There is nothing quite like wondering, while gazing without much enthusiasm at a long-sought beer, whether it’s possible to develop gout from a single blowout weekend. Maybe hangovers are good for thoughtful reflection on the direction of your life. But they are piss-poor for fun holidays.

This also fits neatly with Nos. 2, 7 and 8, above. We seek balance in our beverages, why not seek it in our lives? It’s a nice idea.

10. Record.

A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. I would add: Notes are worth a thousand pictures.

If you’re the sharing the type, do it for others and contribute to social media. Or write a book. Add to the greater sum of human knowledge.

Even better, just do it for yourself.


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Sweet holiday (and everyday) beer desserts

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Recipes by Jackie Dodd // Photography by Ed Rudolph // Styling by Marcella Capasso

The sweetest sign-off to your big feast is one of these six DIY desserts: They’re all easier than pie, all made with beer and all dangerously delicious additions to your holiday (or, hey, breakfast!) table.


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The stout matrix

Practically black and forever brooding, stout’s claim to fame is its swirls of cocoa, coffee, char and cola notes extracted from roasted malt. But the style’s ever-expanding with fruit, barrels and hops shining new light into our favorite dark brew.

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1. Cocoa conspires with all that dark roast to elevate chocolate stouts to confectionary status.

2. Coffee stouts give a double jolt: The first from real coffee (beans or cold brew!) in the batch, the second from some bonus booze.

3. Beans in the brew give vanilla stouts a floral, high-pitched sweetness.

4. Real bivalves—meat and shells!—lend a distinct brininess to oyster stouts.

5. Funky, fruity Belgian yeast gives Belgian stouts a strangely alluring sweet spice.

6. Blueberries, pineapple, squash; there’s no limit to the sweet stuff brewers will slip into a fruit stout.

7. Smoldering smoked stouts spark a little campfire (via smoked malts) in every sip.

8. Sturdy malts make stouts good for wood. Barrel-aged stouts nap in new vats or ones that once held rum, whiskey or wine; they emerge mature and high in alcohol.

9. A little lactose in the brew gives sweet stouts velvety creaminess and a milky-sweet smirk.

10. Oatmeal stouts augment roasted barley with sweet oats for a chewy, crazy-creamy mouthfeel.

11. Intense roast, complex malts and high alcohol make imperial stouts some of beer’s biggest boozers.

12. Sessionable dry stouts are a step up from porters—and fish ‘n’ chips best friend.

13. Bitter U.S. hops color American stouts with subtle greenness.

14. Like foreign extra stouts but sweeter, tropical stouts dial up their fruit and molasses flavors.

15. Assertive roast headlines foreign extra stouts, but ABVs under 8% keep them manageable.


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