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Pairing: Beer & popcorn


Don’t re-gift that tin you got from your insurance guy: Try these beer pairings for a holiday snack that really pops.

cheddar + brown ale
Cheddar popcorn’s addiction factor sails when salty, cheesy tang melts right into a brown ale’s soft dark malt and chocolate; you’ll be caught orange-handed.

butter + ESB
If only you could sneak beer into a movie theater: An ESB’s nutty, sweet toffee and biscuit flavors easily adopt salty, butter-soaked popcorn.

salted + Berliner weisse
Longing for summer? A Berliner weisse’s refreshing lemony tartness and the popcorn’s salt are like a sunny day by the sea.

caramel + bock
Candylike caramel corn finds a kindred caramel note in a malty bock; the beer’s smooth toasted bread and nuttiness take it from Crackerjack to sophisticated snack.

kettle corn + coffee stout
If you’re a two-sugars-please coffee drinker, then kettle sweetness will feel right at home beside a stout with espresso and dark roasted notes.

red pepper + oatmeal stout
A creamy, chocolaty stout has dark grainy notes and a dash of bitterness in the finish; add south-of-the-border chile spice and you’ve got a pair as rich as mole.

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Expanded craft beer choices coming to domestic Delta flights

delta_craftbeer_120414C(1)Next time you fly, you may not have to wait until you land to begin your beer vacation.

Delta Airlines earlier this month announced an expanded in-flight selection of seven craft beers on major U.S. routes, including offerings from Ballast Point, Stone, SweetWater, Blue Point, Brooklyn Brewery, Newburyport Brewing and Samuel Adams.

Samuel Adams beers are available on all domestic Delta flights, but if you want to sip a Ballast Point Sculpin or Brooklyn Brewery Lager at 30,000 feet, you’ll have to fly certain routes. Look for local options on the following routes: Delta’s West Coast Shuttle between Los Angeles and San Francisco; between New York-LaGuardia and Boston, Washington-Regan National and Chicago-O’Hare; between New York-JFK and LA, San Francisco and Seattle; and between Atlanta and New York-LaGuardia, Washington-Reagan National and Dulles, Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Tampa and New Orleans. Stone and Lagunitas beers are complimentary on the West Coast Shuttle, as are Newburyport and Blue Point beers on the East Coast Shuttle. Craft beers on other flights are priced at $7.

Not on one of the routes listed above? Better finish a pint before you board.

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Breaking down the beer mile



Nate Silver has built his reputation on data-driven journalism for the masses.

He famously predicted the results of the last few rounds of political elections, including while blogging for the New York Times.

Now his website and methodology has a new target: The beer mile, “a four-lap, four-beer testament to just how insane elite runners really are.”

It is, quite simply, the best article I’ve read on the topic. It marks the first time I’ve seen any sort of quantitative and qualitative analysis for the beer mile. writer Allison McCann traces the origins of the beer mile on college campuses in the ’90s, its rise to include elite runners, the techniques that produce a beer mile champion, and even some of the controversies surrounding the sub 5-minute beer mile.

Beyond the obvious strong legs and stomach, McCann asserts that consistency is key when downing the first and final beer. It’s the difference between a winner and a mid-packer.

“The fiercest competitors guzzle through the party zone as fast as Olympic triathletes put on their post-swim socks,” McCann writes, noting how world champion Corey Gallagher did “negative splits” for his beers — finishing faster than he started.

Perhaps most importantly, the article addresses how the beer mile helps shatter the myth that all runners “some strange breed of nutrition-obsessed freaks.” In fact, beer milers are beer runners. They work hard and reward themselves — and sometimes punish themselves — with well-deserved beer.

“People think we hang out in a cabin eating chia seeds,” said Luis Armenteros, who placed third in the men’s sub-elite division with a time of 6:03.2. “I can’t drink everyone under the table, but I can drink a lot.”

Read the full beer mile analysis on FiveThirtyEight.

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L’chaim! A very Hanukkah Q&A with Jeremy Cohen

"Hop Manna" IPA from Shmaltz Brewery

Jeremy Cowan, the mensch behind the Jewish-themed, certified kosher Shmaltz Brewing Co., has plenty to celebrate: new HE’BREW beers, a new brewery and those eight crazy nights.

You just celebrated a year at your new brewery outside Albany. Where’s your favorite place to have a beer Upstate?
There are so many; there’s such a great beer scene here. I like The Ruck in Troy, Centre Street Pub in Schenectady, and in Saratoga Springs, I like Henry Street Taproom and this funky little pizza place on a river called Harvest & Hearth.

Your annual Jewbelation beers follow a pattern: Jewbelation 17 had 17 malts, 17 hops and 17% ABV. What’s Jewbelation 18 like?
For so many years people have said, “How high can you go?!” Last year was our limit. About 25% of our distribution channels wouldn’t have been legally able to sell a bigger beer. So this year, we made a big, strong barleywine with 18 malts and 18 hops that’ll be about 12.5%.

Any big plans for Hanukkah?
We’re launching our first official Hanukkah beer: It’s called Hanukkah, Chanukah Pass The Beer. It’s eight malts, eight hops and 8% ABV in honor of the eight nights of Hanukkah. It’s a big, complex brown ale; a really great winter warmer.

What Hanukkah dishes will you pair it with?
All forms of latkes. Regular potato, sweet potato, small ones, big ones, fat ones, skinny ones. That’s the beauty of latkes: They’re as unique as all of us.

What’s your favorite Hanukkah tradition?
The holiday season is my Super Bowl, so my tradition has become serving my beer around the country. My favorite event is our annual Hanukkah versus Christmas tasting; it’s a big, tongue-in-cheek beer tasting with different breweries we’re friendly with.

Any gifts you’ve got your eye on?
I always love getting a bottle of rye whiskey. My favorite is George Stag from Buffalo Trace; I bought one for one of my best friends as a thank-you gift and he shared with me, but I want my own.

What’s a good convert beer?
Genesis, our dry-hopped session ale, is our lightest-bodied beer. It’s balanced but with plenty of hops to appreciate what craft beer has become, which is kind of a temple of hops. But right now, it would be Messiah Nut Brown; it’s smooth and balanced, and goes well with the heavier foods of the season.

You introduced Funky Jewbelation this year; any plans to bring it back?
It won a World Beer Cup silver medal! We’re sitting on a bunch of barrels to make the batch that’ll win gold. It should come out again in late spring.

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For the love of God (and beer)


Rabbi Eli Freedman was extremely excited about the fresh hops he’d just gotten his hands on. Destined for a beer his homebrew club would serve at Rodeph Shalom’s annual Sukkot celebration, the sticky, citrusy buds had just been plucked from the garden of one of his closest friends, Father Kirk Berlenbach, head priest at Saint Timothy’s Episcopal Church in nearby Roxborough. Berlenbach founded his own church homebrew club in 2005, and met Freedman five years later, introduced by the owner of a homebrew supply store who realized these two customers had more in common than just a passion for brewing.

By outward appearance, Freedman and Berlenbach could hardly be more different. Small, trim and close-cut, the young rabbi is approachable but reserved, with a scholarly speaking style. The ponytailed priest, on the other hand, is tall and convivial, and given to a hearty belly laugh. Though, when they start discussing religion and beer, the kinship between them becomes obvious.

“The ancient Sumerians—one of the first cultures to brew beer—considered drunkenness almost a divine state,” says Berlenbach. “Beer is a great social lubricant.”

“Having a beer or two definitely loosens the mind,” agrees Freedman. “It can help you communicate more freely.”

Across the country, forward-thinking religious leaders have been embracing this philosophy, calling on beer to play dual roles: as a hook to draw constituents to gatherings, and as a way to help people feel comfortable once they arrive.

Some groups bring the sermon to the bar. Fort Worth, Texas’ “Church in a Pub” worships weekly at Zio Carlo Magnolia Brewpub, and “The Pub Church” in Boston holds Saturday evening seminars at dive bar The Dugout. At East Side Christian Church in Tulsa, Okla., the pastor is experimenting with the opposite tactic, hosting “Beer and Hymns” nights at the chapel itself.

Berlenbach and Freedman have taken the theology-fermentation alliance even further, with collaborations that bridge the Judeo-Christian divide.

The fresh-hop beer made this autumn wasn’t their first interfaith brewing effort. Last year, the bicameral group created a well-received imperial saison for Rodeph Shalom’s Purim dinner (christened Ecclesiastes 3:1—To Everything There’s a Saison). This spring, a cross-denominational homebrew contest and charity fundraiser dubbed “The Biblical Brew-Off” featured beers by members of both corps.

Recently, there’s even been talk about expanding the relationship beyond brewing, and organizing a general “worship exchange.”

So it’s likely that soon, several Presbyterians will attend Shabbat and a group of Reform Jews will head to church on a Sunday, all in the name of better understanding one other. And all it took was a shared love and respect for great beer.

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