What have I been drinking? Good stuff! I drank a lot less in variety and volume both: it was a very busy week for me on the work front. I’m headed to Newport, Rhode Island Thursday so I imagine I’ll make for that in local booze this week!
Vermont Craft Beer, Vermont Wine & Mead
I’ve mentioned before that I’m lucky to live in one of the best beer states in the country and this week I got to drink some examples of the best of the best. In addition to Vermont craft beer and Vermont wine I also had a delicious Austrian sparkling wine. Sadly, I don’t have any good pictures of that one.
Because I brewed some mead today I thought it made sense to drink some. Finding mead is tough, but Smoker’s Den here in Bennington came through. I selected a traditional mead.
Artesano Traditional Mead (Groton, VT). When cold, the initial nose is flat lager. At least that’s what I got. As it opens and warms you get flowers. Big time. It’s super perfumy on the nose without the rubbing alcohol. I was transported back to my childhood basement. As a kid I had a Winnie The Pooh scratch and sniff book and the honey pot? I smelled that in this mead. Big time.
Very soft on the mouth, like a sweet white wine. A little boozy but mostly foral and sweet.
Vermont Craft Beer
Frost Beer Works (Hinesburg, VT); Lush Double IPA. On the drive back to Bennington from Shelburne we did some quick Yelp searching to find a bottle shop with local beer. Despite the fact that we live in Vermont, we don’t get some (many) Vermont craft beers distributed our way. We struck gold at Middlebury Discount Beverage where we found this bottle. This was our first time trying Frost Beer Works.
Frost touts this beer as having luxuriant and aromatics and succulent flavors. I’d agree. Very good, even if I did it get in a bottle off the floor. IPAs are super sensitive to time and temperature and light changes but this is why I love local beer: you get it sooner, from a more controlled environment and are able to enjoy its freshness.
We enjoyed this with pizza I made from things in the house and a store bought, refrigerated pizza crust. Pizza and beer is probably my favorite easy dinner combo and, as I mentioned recently, pizza is really easy to make from leftovers. I also love Indian food with a bitter beer so I put a bit of a subcontinental twist on this pizza. I used a wheat pizza crust that I put in the oven for about 8 minutes. While it was cooking I sauteed some onion, orange bell pepper and garlic in a little olive oil with black pepper, red pepper flakes, cardamom, garam masala, nutmeg and allspice. I tossed in leftover chicken, too to season and warm it up. When I took the crust out I slathered on some tikka masala sauce, toppings and shredded mozzarella. Put it back in the oven until the crust was golden and the cheese melty. Perfect accompaniment to this beer.
Fiddlehead Brewing (Shelburne, VT); IPA. I’ve had this one before and written about it. An absolute favorite and a beer I recommend if you can get your hands on fresh Fiddlehead. IPA does not travel well and is best enjoyed closest to the source (or out of cans).
Hill Farmstead (Greensboro Bend, VT); Karma Emulsion American Pale Ale. You’ve probably heard of Hill Farmstead. Everyone loves Hill Farmstead. But, as I may have mentioned (ad nauseum) it’s hard to get much of Vermont’s best craft beer way down here at the bottom of the state. Hill Farmstead is an example of a brewery I rarely get to drink. But… it’s kind of okay. It’s not okay because it’s not good. Or because I don’t like it. It’s okay because the reason why we can’t get it down here shows a dedication to beer that’s refreshing.
We had this at dinner the other night. That dinner gets a separate post. The Williamsville Eatery is the only place I’ve ever seen Hill Farmstead on tap. The owner explained that Hill Farmstead vets locations to make sure that they will be happy with what comes out of the tap. And you know what? Good for them!
I can’t count how many times I’ve tried a beer people have raved about only to hate it. This was big in the beginning of my palate expansion and turned me off to quite a bit of beer. Eventually, I realized that the thing these beers had in common. They were served in lines that hadn’t been cleaned. Someone who doesn’t know much about beer (me at the time) might say, “Ugh. I’m never drinking this brand again.” A good brewer doesn’t want that. Better to distribute less and make sure you develop a following than risk turning off potential drinkers.
This American Pale Ale is crisp and delicious. It’s a collab between Hill Farmstead and Jean from Tired Hands in Ardmore, PA. A great example of the style there’s nothing bad to say about this beer (except that I can’t drink more of it). We enjoyed this on its own prior to dinner while perusing an incredible menu. We still had some when our apps arrived and it paired really well with the scallion pancakes. These pancakes were incredible and served with a tamarind maple reduction drizzle. Fresh with cilantro, the perfect accompaniment to this beer.
Madison Brewing Company (Bennington, VT); Lemon Thyme Saison. I’m psyched this one is still on tap. I’m also psyched that I now understand why I didn’t taste lemon and thyme while drinking it. Apparently Lemon Thyme is a type of thyme. You learn something new every day!
This week I had a red and a white. Both cold climate. One local and one not.
Neshobe River Winery Stone Mill Cuvee; Brandon, VT. I rarely drink Vermont wine. The last time I was able to get some was Memorial Day weekend when a Montpelier-area vintner was here for a street fair. Generally when we find Vermont wine, it’s fruit wine. Part of this is because it’s hard to make wine in Vermont and so our producers are small. When we can find a Vermont wine we get it and we drink it. Found this with a bunch of other Vermont wines at the Middlebury bottle shop mentioned above.
One of the reasons Vermont is able to produce wine is thanks to hybrid grapes. These grapes are bred from vinifera grapes to yield qualities like resistance to rot and cold hardiness. The grape used in this wine, Marquette, was designed at the University of Minnesota and is related to other hybrid grapes. According to Minnesota Hardy, “Marquette is a cousin of Frontenac and grandson of Pinot noir. It originated from a cross of MN 1094, a complex hybrid of V. riparia, V. vinifera, and other Vitis species, with Ravat 262. Viticulturally, Marquette is outstanding. Resistance to downy mildew, powdery mildew, and black rot has been very good. Its open, orderly growth habit makes vine canopy management efficient.”
The term Cuvee denotes a bottle that contains a mix of alcohol. It’s crisp at first but quickly smooths out into an amazing finish. Oak is very evident.
Non Vermont Wine
Steininger Sparkling Grüner Veltliner; Austria. I love sparkling wine and I really love dry sparking wine. I also love Grüner Veltliner. So, yeah, choosing this wine didn’t take much thinking. This particular expression has great citrus flavor. Lemon, lime, some grapefruit. While still Grüner is very complex with herb, pepper and spice and fruit, this particular bottle of bubbles is lime crispness with a little zing all the way.
The grape is exclusive to Austria and makes a popular, still dry white with complex spice and nut flavors. It can be prepared in stainless or oak with oak versions developing waxy, creamy flavors.
We enjoyed this bottle with an incredible meal from Williamsville Eatery. The bubbles kept our palates fresh as we enjoyed:
- burrata with foraged Japanese knotweed chutney and polenta cake
- scallion pancakes with a tamarind-maple reduction drizzle
- fresh pasta with cream sauce, blanched tomatoes, fresh fennel
- pork tacos
Ethical Eating/Drinking Tip of the Week
Second Guess Surplus Stuff. I’m a Pisces. And not simply because of my date of birth. And, just to be clear, I’m not sure if I believe in astrology but whenever I read articles that say “you’re a Pisces if” or “where should you vacation based on your sign” they usually describe me part of the time.
What’s this have to do with being more ethical in consumption? One of the most common traits attributed to Pisces is their attraction to, and distraction by, shiny things. I like things that are shiny but I think, in a broader sense, it’s a very human attraction to the new thing. Whatever that may be. Who doesn’t want to buy another album by the band they love or another book in their favorite series?
Consider the things you have. How many times do you use your “must have” items? Are there some you can part with? Donate to reduce consumption: someone else can have your item instead of a new one being created. But what about moving forward? Here are some ways to cut down on unconscious consumption:
- Give it at least 24 hours. I love office supplies and washi tape. Love. And that means that walking through certain stores can add several things to my cart. But do I need fancy paper clips? How many do I currently have and do I ever use them? Don’t guilt yourself. Just think about whether or not this is something you need. Then snap a picture and tell yourself that if you still have the itch in 24 hours you’ll get it the next time you’re there. You will likely have forgotten about the paperclips. Bonus points if you don’t make a special trip and say you’ll get them if they have them the next time you’re at that particular shop.
- Borrow Before Buying. When you want to buy another book, consider borrowing from a friend or the library. Unless it’s a first edition, chances are you are not going to reread a million times and definitely don’t need the hardcover. The library and your friends have all sorts of great titles waiting for you.
- Go Digital. I love to read. And I read a lot when I’m reading. I used to buy books but have donated many of them. Now I only buy physical books of my very favorite authors. Other than that, I use Audible and Kindle. I can read/listen across devices and reread/listen without a trip to the library. Spotify houses my music collection. Kris and I buy 12-15 albums a year, but only very special albums get into the house on vinyl.
- Sample. I once told my girlfriend, Marcy, that her shower was a product whore’s wet dream. I’m a product whore and stepping into her shower was a phenomenal experience. So many things to try! Such nice smelling soap! Oh, and this shaving cream I keep hearing about! Curtailing my need to buy beauty products could be someone’s full time job. But, at the end of the day, my hair and skin are both super finicky. So switching products results in limp hair or big hair or dry skin. Maybe some redness? Oh, and if I’m really lucky: a breakout. When I want to try something now I ask for a sample from the store or a friend who has the product (this isn’t safe with some products!). This way I can try it out and see if I’m in love before making a purchase and adding more stuff to my house. Set up a swap with your girlfriends or women in the office – everyone will love it.
- Donate. Instead of throwing things away when you get the urge to purge, consider making donations and offering items to friends. Maybe you stop taking piano lessons or realize you have way more scrapbooking supplies than you need. Go through and donate as much as possible. Schools always need art supplies and also day cares, churches, camps and other places where kids are. Check with your library to see if they accept used books, and find new homes for your things. Have a lot of stationary you’re no longer using (because a new one caught your eye)? Do you have an equally supply happy friend who might want a sample?
This week, challenge yourself to think about your stuff. Again, don’t attach guilt. Just think about the things you have. Before making an impulse buy this week, take a pause. And see if you can find things to donate or offer to others rather than just tossing them out.