One of my favorite things to do is travel. Another favorite? Listen to live music. This particular week worked out well for me. I visited Portland, Maine; Shelburne, Vermont; and NYC to see my favorite band three times and tried some hyper local beer. I also tried two new hyper local beers right here in Bennington. Here’s the breakdown!
The Joy Of Drinking Local
Besides the fact that I’m a lover of the earth, one of the best parts of eating and drinking local is the freshness. Nothing compares to it. My husband laughs that while I can recognize some beer and wine flaws, the first flaw I can spot is when a place hasn’t cleaned its tap lines. Ugh, I hate an unclean line. I want to taste my beer. I don’t want to taste the fact that other things have taken priority. This week was a perfect storm of awesome lists and super clean lines.
I drank a lot of hyper local beer this week. And it was awesome.
Foundation Brewing (Portland, ME); Zuurzig. Bring on the sours. That’s my mantra lately. I love sours. I used to hate them (my apologies to Jolly Pumpkin) but a visit to Crooked Stave in 2016 was a great intro thanks to head brewer, Brian Grace. From there I started experimenting and have developed a serious appreciation for the style.
I headed out to Portland on Monday. After dropping our stuff at our AirBNB we yelped “best beer selection” and found Little Tap House.
Their beer is all local and their food ingredients are also sourced from the hood so there wasn’t really a reason to look elsewhere. And I am glad we didn’t.
This sour was phenomenal. Clean and crisp and fresh. The super clean lines at Little Tap House also deserve a shout out. A low ABV (4.5%) makes this a perfect summer beer when you want something different but not a shandy.
Kris and I split the sweet potato tacos. Two tacos on corn tortillas (the only acceptable tortillas if you ask me. It’s a good thing my marriage is not based on this belief since Kris only eats flour except in cases like this one) with sweet potatoes, cotija, black beans, pea shoots and some sort of delicious creamy dressing. The serving comes with two so it was the perfect thing to share. We also ordered their house made potato chips with vinegar. Because, well, we love sour.
Oxbow Brewing (Portland, ME); Cross Fade Saison. I just had a sip of this. It was okay but a little too wheat beer tasting for my taste. That said, I am sure that people who like wheat beers would like it. And someday I might be one of those people.
Fiddlehead Brewing (Shelburne, VT); New New Rarified Air Pale Ale. Wow. Fiddlehead. Just wow. I’ve been lucky to live in the two of the country’s three best beer states: Michigan and Vermont. Sadly, we can’t seem to get some of Vermont’s incredible beer down where we live. We have our own amazing beer in town, but getting certain Fiddlehead beers is impossible. We popped in on Wednesday night and grabbed a small growler of this pale ale which we greatly enjoyed with a simple, thin crust pizza topped with sauce, fresh mozzerella, and delicious basil.
Madison Brewing Company (Bennington, VT); Lemon Thyme Saison
Every time I go into Madison’s (what we call it around here) lately I see this beer listed as “on deck”. Upon returning home Thursday from Shelburne we headed here for lunch and a beer and I didn’t even look to see if it was available. Luckily Kris noticed.
It has taken me awhile (10 years?) to appreciate Madison’s beer. They say it hasn’t changed at all. I say it used to taste like pool water and now it tastes like awesome. No matter what, we’re all good now. It is located around the corner from my house, it’s a nice option. Madison’s has some long time brews on tap: Sucker Pond Blond, Wassick’s and some that have been in the rotation a while but not quite as long (Ju-C). They’ve recently started canning (yay!). And in addition to beer they have really good food. This is definitely a fav spot when Kris and I want lunch and a beer and our go to bar isn’t open.
Lately, though, the thing that has struck me are some beers that are really different from what I’m used to seeing at Madison’s and the fact that they nail them every damn time. I mean, yeah — I am now a huge a fan of their beer but I was worried when I saw a few things that didn’t sound very much like Madison’s. And they put my ease at rest.
This saison is the perfect example. I gave it a 4.75/5 on Untapp’d, which is unheard of for me. But it’s brilliant. Delicious, crisp, clean, bready, peppery. Wow. I should have ordered a second. Actually, I should go have one right now. You should, too. I didn’t get thyme or lemon and that was the only reason for my .25 deduction. That doesn’t mean it’s not good. I just didn’t get those at all. Maybe a little lemon? Doesn’t matter. It’s amazing.
This is a perfect beer to just drink but I ate it with a Waldorf Chicken Salad sandwich and fries. It was rainy and cold and I was coming off of two awesome nights of music. It doesn’t get much better than comfort food and a stellar, hyper local beer.
Crooked Stave (Denver, CO); Origins. When we lived in Ann Arbor, Kris met Brian at Jolly Pumpkin, a brewpub in A2 known for its sours. Brian was tending bar there and also working at Grizzly Peak in brewing. Like us, Brian and Ashlee were transplants to Ann Arbor who loved beer and trivia. Eventually, they moved to Denver where Ashlee had a job offer. Next thing we knew, Brian had gone from home brewer and working at a few spots in town to being the lead brewer at Crooked Stave, a brewery specializing in sours in a hip space in Denver. We were there in 2015 and were psyched that the stars aligned for grabbing lunch with Brian and Ashlee and then heading to the brewery to taste some of his magic. And magic it was. This was actually my turning point when it comes to sours.
It’s *almost* impossible to get Crooked Stave out here but on Saturday, it happened. Kris and I headed to Long Island Friday evening and knew we had to head to Sapsuckers in Huntington, NY. This is our go to spot for beer and food while on the Island. It should be everyone’s. I don’t know who curates their list but it never fails to disappoint. Like that time we went in and discovered Founder’s on every tap. On Saturday there was this:
Of course I couldn’t resist. I haven’t tried this burgundy sour before and was especially intrigued by the combo of oak with a sour. Oak generally rounds things out in my opinion whereas sours give you that nice bite. I was also excited because I love descriptors like “barnyard” and “earth”. Origins is a phenomenal beer from nose to finish. The color is gorgeous, too. I enjoyed my glass with a burger on brioche and fries. I was going to get a greek salad but figured the vinaigrette might be a little too much sour, if there is such a thing. Also: burgers and beer!
Brewery Ommegang (Cooperstown, NY); “Rosetta” Fruit/Kriek. Tried this guy at Keg No. 229 in lower Manhattan on Sunday. I’ve had Ommegang a few times and just haven’t found the beer of theirs that does it for me. I don’t dislike them; I just haven’t found one that has bowled me over yet. The brewery is beloved. I will try until I find one I love.
This limited release is a nice blend of tart and sweet, and it’s drinkable, but I thought it was missing something. This could be from the travel. It could also be that I had just gotten into a NYC-style argument over someone (not me) not knowing how to park. I’ll definitely try it the next time I see it.
Ethical Drinking/Eating Tip Of The Week
Last week I suggested reusing, like the way that wine bottles can be used for all sorts of things. This week is sort of in the same vein and involves food waste, how to avoid it, and how to be more ethical in your efforts to do so.
Food waste distresses me. Not because I love to eat. But because there are so many people who cannot afford to eat. The fact that it is 2017 and people are still starving to death is one of the biggest shames, in my opinion. Because of this, I hate to throw out food and try to avoid it at all costs. That, of course, can be tough when you live with someone who lives by the date on the carton of milk (I trust my nose, unlike Kris).
When it comes to perishables, I try to only buy what I need, when I need it, and to structure meals in such a way that I’m constantly using leftovers.
Take stock. Before going to the grocery store, see what you have and cross anything you don’t need off your list. I know I often say to myself, “Tortillas!” because I turn essentially every leftover into a taco. But tortillas don’t last forever so actually checking/buying only as needed is the more ethical choice.
Plan. I don’t go to the grocery store without a list. And my grocery list doesn’t simply consist of a list of things to buy. I include the meal I’m going to cook and how I plan on using the leftovers. Here’s an example. Last night I made chicken, butternut squash, and asparagus. There’s no leftover chicken, but there is leftover squash, asparagus and the bechamel sauce I made for the asparagus. I always have pasta and rice in the house so tonight I’ll make bowls using the leftover veggies and bechamel.
It’s Tuesday, which means the Farmers’ Market will be up in the late afternoon, so I will head over there to see what’s fresh and that will create tomorrow’s dinner/leftovers plan. You don’t need to eat something completely different every day. Additionally, creativity with your leftovers will actually make you less likely to get bored and toss them.
Store Smart. Zip lock and other plastic bags are not recyclable. Skip them if possible.
Your challenge for the week? Make a grocery list that consciously plans for limited food waste. Here’s mine!
Monday: chicken/squash/asparagus/bechamel (don’t buy chicken!)
Tuesday: Bowls (add roasted cherry toms)
Wednesday: Pizza (use whatever looks good at Farmer’s Market)
Saturday: Greek salad
Sunday: Greek bowls
See you next week!