Good beer is back with a vengeance! Thanks to the craft beer explosion, now is the perfect time to reintroduce yourself to beer.
Today there are more breweries in the United States than at any time since the late 19th Century, with many more still to come. The brews they are crafting have as much complexity as the world’s best wines, if not more so.
Here are the basics for enjoying your next cold one!
Hand Full of Ingredients
Beer is made of four basic ingredients. Each of these ingredients contributes flavor and aroma of beer: malt, yeast, hops, and water.
Every beer displays the character of all these ingredients to lesser or greater degrees. Beer styles are determined by the intensity of each ingredient relative to the others.
Beer Flavor Triangle
Some beers are heavier in malt, which we cicerones (the beer equivalent to a sommelier to wine) call malt forward. Others showcase hops (known as hoppy beers) or yeast (which we call yeast forward).
There millions of combinations of these ingredients. Add spices, honey, fruit, or any of the other additional tools in the brewer’s kit and the possibilities for creating unique beer flavors are literally endless.
Ale vs. Lager
It is generally agreed that there are two broad subcategories of beer, ale and lager. The main difference between the two is the type of yeast used to ferment them.
Ale yeasts ferment at warmer temperatures (between 60 and 75°F) compared to the colder fermentation temps of lager yeasts (45 to 55°F).
The warmer fermentation of ale promotes the production of flavor and aromatic compounds, while the colder lager fermentation inhibits them. This is why lagers tend to have a crisper cleaner profile and ales are more fruity and spicy in flavor. Beyond these differences associated with yeast, the full range of beer flavors is available to both ales and lagers.
Beyond Light to Dark
Beer styles fall on a spectrum of flavor intensity from lighter to stronger.
Many think that flavor intensity corresponds to color: Light colored beers are light and darker beers are heavy. Wrong! Color really tells you little about the intensity of flavor in a beer.
A Belgian tripel looks very much like a pilsner, but 9% alcohol and the funky flavors of Belgian yeast make it significantly more intense. The black lagers of Germany are as dark as coffee, but drink more like a pilsner than a stout, with just a dash of roast.
Blond ales and golden lagers like pilsners fall on the lighter end of the scale. At the other end you find the big and brawny barley wines and imperial stouts, along with the tart and funky Belgian sour beers. Beers at this end tend to be higher in alcohol, but that’s not always the case.
In between, beers run up the scale from the luscious, caramel-tinged amber and Scottish ales to brightly bitter pale ales and rich, roasty porters and stouts.
Ice cold is how Americans like their beer, but American-style lagers aside, that is not the best way to enjoy a finely crafted brew. Why?
The colder something is, the less you can taste it. And that includes beer!
The deep-freeze numbs your taste buds. When beer gets too cold the malty goodness disappears. Hop bitterness becomes more intense, harsh and unpleasant. To keep the correct balance, drink your lager beers at around 48°F and your ales at “cellar temperature,” around 55°F.
Glass, Bottle, or Can?
Finally, be sure to pour that beer into a glass. Most of what we taste actually comes from what we smell. If you drink straight from the can or bottle you can’t smell anything. You’re cutting yourself off from three-quarters of the total beer experience.
A simple pint glass is fine for most beers, although a tulip glass or snifter will better serve those high-alcohol and highly aromatic beers like barley wines and Belgians.
Football never looked better! Ladies, we've got your drink menu covered for Sunday football games with your man.
Gather guests around an outdoor fire pit or an indoor fireplace. Cheer them with cheese and cider. That's just the beginning! Soup and salad are the perfect endings to an afternoon doing invigorating yard work, volunteering, crafting or baking together.
- Try a variety of soups, but keep the favorites for your less adventurous eaters such as Taco Soup, Vegetable Soup, Beef Stew, or Chili.
- Serve Slow-Cooker soups for easy prep.
- Make your own bread bowls. To make, cut off tops of small, round bread loaves, and scoop out the bread from the loaves, leaving a 1-inch-thick wall (use the scooped-out bread for bread crumbs another time). Ladle soup into loaves just before serving; replace tops.
- Have guests serve themselves buffet-style. Have TV trays or other trays available for guests to place their dishes and silverware on. They can then easily balance their meals on their laps while watching the big screen or sitting by the fire.
- Make it easy for guests to grab silverware and a napkin by wrapping each place setting in a napkin with a piece of raffia or twine, like a package.
Centerpieces that "Center" Around Your Theme
- Arrange apples and bananas in a wicker basket for an apple-picking party.
- Arrange fall garden produce and colorful leaves for a yard clean-up party.
- Or let an array of homemade bakery treats be your centerpieces. We love fall desserts that use apples, peaches, and pumpkins!
Favors & Crafts
- Get ideas from Home Design magazines on the latest fall craft. Some of our favorite easy fall decor staples are wreaths, centerpieces and candles.
- Send guests home with bags of home-baked or hand-made goodies to bring fall to their homes too.
Need advice on shopping for wine? We have several answers here!
"Red wine should be served a room temperature."
FALSE. The more simple and fresh the wine, the colder it should be served; on the contrary, the more complex and sophisticated, the higher the temperature. The important thing is to first define the style of wine before determining its temperature.
- Fresh whites:between 44°and 48° F.
- Whites with body: between 50°and 55° F.
- Simple reds: between 57°and 60° F.
- Reds with body: between 60°and 64° F.
- Great red wines: between 64°and 68° F.
"White wines in the refrigerator and reds beside the grill."
FALSE. Wines, as we mentioned above, have different recommended serving temperatures. Refrigerators aren't the best choice because they practically “freeze” the bottles and the grill “boils” others. The best option is always a bucket of ice and water (five to ten cubes depending on the size), or with cold water and a little hot water, but remember that the maximums determine the water temperature.
"You should uncork the wine half an hour before serving."
FALSE. The wines that require oxygenating (very young reds or wines that have been in the bottle a long time) should be decanted before serving.
"The best place to store wines is underground."
TRUE. But always provided the necessary conditions for the keeping of wines are met, which are:
- Stable temperature between 53°and 57° F.
- Constant humidity of 70%.
- Absence of light and without movement.
"Red wine with meat and white wine with fish."
FALSE. Although it is true that there are few alternatives for pairing white wine with red meats, red wines can be paired with fish with long persistence.
"The quality of wine can be seen from the bottom of the bottle."
FALSE. Glass is a good inert material that contributes absolutely nothing to the wine. The design of the bottle is just a marketing element rather than a match for its contents.
"Wine is good for your health."
TRUE. When consumed responsibly, wine has been linked to benefits for your health such as the digestion of saturated fats, contain antioxidants and prevent illnesses like hepatitis B or coronary problems.
"Sparkling wines give headaches."
FALSE. Although some think the sugar content and bubbles from sparkling wines contribute to headaches, it is more true that all wines can contribute to headaches or upset stomachs. Drink responsibly and with moderation is the best advice in avoiding upsets.
You can cook like the Cajun Divas and all other hushpuppy cookoff teams who participate in the annual Texas State Forest Festival Southern Hushpuppy Championship!
Take a look at these great recipes and compare yours to the teams who will compete this year.
Basic Hushpuppy Recipe
- Crisco® Pure Vegetable Oil, for frying
- 3/4 cup Martha White® Plain Enriched White Corn Meal
- 1/3 cup Pillsbury BEST™ All Purpose Flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
- HEAT 2 or 3 inches oil to 365ºF in deep fryer or deep saucepan.
- COMBINE cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl
- ADD buttermilk, egg and onion. Mix untill well blended. Drop batter by tablespoonfuls into hot oil. Fry a few at a time 3 or 4 minutes or until golden brown. Turn as needed for even browning. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.
Want to get more adventurous like the teams you'll see at the Southern Hushpuppy Championship? Follow the basic recipe above and make small revisions.
- Reduce milk by 1/2
- Add 1 can shredded chicken
- 1 package of dry ranch mix
- Reduce milk by 1/2
- 2 shredded potatoes
- 1 cup of finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 package dry ranch mix
- 1 lb. cooked ground Italian sausage
- 1 package spaghetti seasonings
- 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese
- 1 package taco seasonings
- 1 package cooked and drained chorizo
Make sure to stop by the Southern Hushpuppy Championship while you are at the Texas State Forest Festival, presented by Brookshire Brothers. The championship is Saturday, September 19 at 2PM. The Texas State Forest Festival comes to East Texas Wednesday, September 16 and leaves Sunday, September 20. We hope to see you there!
September brings thoughts of cooler weather and holidays, but take advantage of one of the best summer fruits available, grapes! Our Produce Pick of the Month will have you ready to make this mouth watering salad year-round.
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The best ball games include winning scores for the home team and tailgate picnics for the fans. Whether you are rooting for your high school, college, office or neighborhood team, don't forget to call "time-out" to enjoy this hearty fare.
- The best thing about a tailgate party is you don't have to clean or decorate the house! You may, however, want to tidy up your vehicle and make room for collapsible tables and chairs as well as those totable treats.
- Sports-themed and colored washcloths and towels can double as tablecloths and napkins for outdoor food fare and bound-to-happen spills.
- Plastic utensils are available in a rainbow of sports colors at discount, party and grocery stores.
Pregame Activities (besides munching on snacks)
- Divide into teams, and make signs for team cheering (bring plenty of poster paper and markers). Award a prize for the most creative!
- Have the same teams create and perform a cheer: Go, Fight, Win, Hey!
- Ask guests to come dressed as their favorite player. Award a prize for the best costume.
- Crank up the boom box with favorite tunes or pregame shows.
- Make foods self-serve. This is an informal eat-as-it's-ready party.
- Plastic utensils offered out of a plastic helmet add an extra fun element.
- Sloppy Hot Dogs is a good candidate for the slow cooker. Toss all the ingredients in a 3 1/2- to 6-quart slow cooker (you can omit the oil), and heat on high for about 3 hours. Attach large rubber bands around the handles and lid of the slow cooker to easily secure the lid when traveling. Wrap and pack it with a towel or newspaper to keep heat in and the cooker steady during transport. Serve the food (right out of the cooker) within an hour, or plug in the cooker and set it on the low heat setting so it will stay warm for hours.
- Keep cool things cool and hot things hot. Pack hamburger patties frozen; they'll keep other foods cool and will be thawed by the time the grill is ready. Remember to pack the burger trimmings.
Host a Summer Send-Off Party and enjoy the end of the season with a sweet and colorful backyard party.
Suggest that all of your guests wear bright colors and/or fun floral patterns.
Put up hammocks, lounge chairs, paper lanterns and pillows to make your party the ultimate oasis for relaxation.
Set up some of summer’s favorite games like Corn Hole, bocce ball, croquet, and Kan Jam.
Set up a cocktail station and mix up your favorite summer drinks for the ladies.
Don't forget to have the beer available too. Set up a table of all the best domestic and craft beers available.
Don’t let your guests go home empty-handed. Provide guests with fun party favors such as bright colored sunglasses, napkin rings and cute drink ware.
After a summer-filled party like this, you'll be ready for the cooler weather full of bonfires, camp-outs, and the holidays.
Wine experts say outstanding wines are rated with scores of 90 and above. Believe it or not, those wines aren't out of your league. Bring fantastic and outstanding wines to your home today by picking from the following best-rated wines.
- Rombauer Chardonnay - 93 Rating
- Frei Brothers Cabernet Sauvignon - 92 Rating
- Layer Cake Shiraz - 91 Rating
- Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignon - 91 Rating
- Mumm Napa Cuvee - 91 Rating
- Argyle Brut - 90 Rating
- Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - 90 Rating
- Catena Malbec - 90 Rating
- Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - 90 Rating
- Eroica Riesling - 90 Rating
- Ferrari- Carano Fume Blanc - 90 Rating
- La Crema Pinot Noir - 90 Rating
- La Marca Prosecco - 90 Rating
- Mumm Napa Brut Rose’ - 90 Rating
- Rodney Strong Chardonnay - 90 Rating
Enjoy shopping these wines at many of your favorite Brookshire Brothers or David's Foods stores!
As your summer season of relaxation, vacations, and sunny days turns to a fall season of sporting events, kids errands, and school - where does that leave the time to stay fit? Staying on track with diet and/or workout plans can be difficult with busy schedules, but here are some great tips that don't take a lot of time!
Water's natural benefits give much needed hydration and energy, but adding a variety of fruit can help with detoxing as well as give it a flavorful boost!
Try these fruits in your next glass:
Improve your cardiovascular health by skipping the elevator ride and taking the stairs. With zero added time to your daily schedule, you can get a mini workout in every day by this simple tip.
Ever get that mid-morning or afternoon sluggish feeling? Try replacing your next basket of french fries with a cup of fruit. Expand your lunch options with many different sides such as fresh fruits, salads, or salsas. This could help your sweet tooth, too!
As you start to pack those school lunches, why not make yourelf a lunch at the same time? This small tip can change your entire perspective on the "what's for lunch?" debate. Keep fresh veggies and whole grain bread for simple and nutritious sandwiches for your busy schedule.
Vitamin D does your body good! Step outside (but stay in the shade) for a midday pick-me-up. Invite a friend for daily outdoor lunches and watch the seasons, and temperatures, change.