beer fridge

If NewAir AB-1200B sounds like the name of a fridge from the future, that’s because it is. With its pristine black matte finish and inaudible whirr, the NewAir looks like an appliance you’d find on a starship, voice-powered by the HAL-9000 perhaps. But instead of filling it with the freeze-dried goo astronauts have to eat, you can stock it up with a more earthly beverage: beer, and lots of it. If you configure the shelves correctly, the storage space maxes out at an impressive 126 cans. That’s five and a quarter 24-packs of Solid Gold, or just your one three-liter bottle of Samiclaus if you’re trying to be a real grinch.

beer fridge

Another feature worth noting is its security that comes by lock and key. Anyone who’s returned home from vacation to find their vertical of Black Note missing knows that some treasures are best left kept from prying hands.

But even you can be your beer’s own worst enemy. The other night, mid heated game of ping-pong, I whipped my paddle across the room and shattered my last bottle of Bourbon County. Mopping up the remains, I decided then and there that letting my prized beers rest on a wobbly credenza wasn’t going to cut it as “cellaring” any more.

With total temperature control, maximum energy efficiency, and a design so intuitive any buzzed up college kid could get it up and running, there’s no excuse to forgo the upgrade. Embrace the future of the beer fridge, it’s here now.

And bonus! If you use the promo code MITTENBREW at checkout you’ll get an extra 20% off the price tag. Hop over here to get your hands on one.

 

beer fridge

FAQs

How cold does this fridge get?
You can adjust the temperature as low as 34 degrees, making this one of the coldest beverage coolers on the market.

Is this beer cooler loud?
No. The motor chilling this fridge is very quiet, measuring on 35 decibels at its loudest in our testing.

Can you install this as a built-in underneath kitchen cabinets?
No. This unit has a rear vent and is designed to be spaced at least 2 inches from the wall at its back.

Will wine bottles fit in this fridge?
Yes. Adjustable racks offer lots of freedom in how you set up the interior of the cooler. Just be sure to adjust the thermostat to the ideal temperature for your wine, which is typically around 55 degrees for most varieties.

 

Sponsored by NewAir

prolonged enjoyment shorts

prolonged enjoyment shorts

It’s certainly not the clearest looking IPA I’ve encountered, but great lacing with a medium-sized frothy head begs me closer. The beer is almost a muddied amber color, and looks great in the glass. I am being invited to take another slug from this “Prolonged Enjoyment” Session India Pale Ale from Short’s Brewing.

It’s a staple nowadays, these session IPA’s, as we leap into the freshness of the spring season and allow ourselves more of the quaffable beers out there to combat the newfound warmth and sweat that comes with preparing everything for the hot days ahead.

In Prolonged Enjoyment, a mildly fruity smell, almost grape and strawberry-like, wafts up and balances alongside the sesame seed and cracker notes of the malt. It’s a bit bready as well, with a deep, danker, greener note mixed in coming from those hops. The aroma entangles itself with these characteristics and leave you presented with a mild but pleasant smell. It reminds me of the scent I get when walking past a brewery in production.

prolonged enjoyment shortsThe beer is unpretentious and certainly quaffable. The flavor dissolves into a plethora of green character with a touch of spiciness from the hops. It’s the kind of flavor that, when exhaling, you feel like your mouth smells like hops are being ripped open inside of it. The mild breadiness of the malt and the casual overall spiciness breezes by the in background, and the brew leaves you feeling a dry finish and a snappy bitter bite. All I can do is say, “Ahhhhhhhhhh” and reach back for another pull from the glass.

Drink up responsibly and enjoy these relaxing days ahead with this beer in hand for those moments when you just want to refresh yourself in an unhurried manner. Prolonged Enjoyment will then be able to live up to its name for you.

 

Cheers!

 

halloween

Are you about to eat some of the worst Halloween candy? Do you have kids who gave you all the crap they don’t want after pillaging the neighborhood? Are your pockets filled with terrible treats you drunkenly took from that bowl at the party? Did you encounter old people who insisted you not leave until you’ve taken a piece with you? Are you worried about what to do next with your undesirable treats?

MittenBrew’s got your back. Just pair the worst Halloween candy with beer!

halloweencandy-4I think we all know this first culprit: candy corn. This last resort in a candy dish is this unenticing looking kernel, whose only credibility stands on the fact that if you stack up all the kernels, it looks like an ear of corn. When pairing it with beer, the best way to choke your way through it is with Tapistry Brewing Company’s Mr. Orange, their Witbier brewed with blood oranges, chamomile, and rose hips. The soft nature from the wheat malt in the beer will coax out the slight marshmallow like quality of the candy corn. Now that this base of mallow sweetness is established, the chamomile and rose hips can be featured and shine through, thus enhancing the experience and creating more complexity. Starting to feel fancy yet?

halloweencandy-2

You remember that Bazooka Bubble gum and how it loses flavor within 15 seconds of chewing it?
No problem for us. The best thing to pair with something that loses its flavor entirely, is yet another thing that has next to no flavor—Natty Light anyone? No, in all seriousness, just spit the damn thing out and take a big step up and drink
Our Brewing Company’s Vienna Lager as you cheers to Bazooka Joe instead. Maybe buy him a beer too, because his wrapper comics blow (get it?) just as much as his bubble gum so he probably needs it.

halloweencandy-5Circus Peanuts have a weird, marshmallow banana flavor and soft texture that I think can only be tamed by coating it with Roak’s Devil Dog Oatmeal Stout. The banana flavor finds companionship in the beer’s roasty bitterness and bready burnt toast notes, making it almost taste like some sort of chocolatey banana baked dessert. Plus, part of the proceeds for the beer go towards a local VA hospital in Detroit. Now you can genuinely feel good about eating this candy, so long as you steer clear of eating it on its own…

halloweencandy-1I know this one is rated low on Halloween candy lists, but I personally love this stuff, besides the fact that I feel like I might choke to death every time I have one. Those hard Butterscotch Candies that make you feel like you’re at your grandma’s house create a fun pairing with the Cranker’s Coconut Porter. There’s just something about chocolate, butterscotch, and coconut that really make the palate sing.

Black Jelly Bhalloweencandy-3eans are ominous looking. More of an acquired taste, it’s not exactly a crowd pleaser amidst all the super sugary, waxy chocolate covered, non-complex candies out there. Perhaps Short’s would resurrect their Black Licorice Lager for it? But in the meantime, I’ll settle for pairing these unfavorable beans with an appropriately spice-forward Grand Pumpkin from Harmony Brewing. It’s brewed with pumpkin, chai tea spices, ginger root, cinnamon bark, darjeeling tea, cardamom pods, nutmeg, clove, and vanilla beans. The multitude of spices and herbs together can now combine with the black licorice notes of the jelly beans to create a sweeter, more harmonized pairing with plenty of complexity.

(P.S. I recommend bringing your unwanted Good & Plenty to this anise party too.)

I choose Dots candy with Jolly Pumpkin’s La Roja for our next pairing. Partly because this candy is fruity, and partly because this beer is sour, but mostly because this candy tastes awful and I need a powerful, funky, tart cherry, balsamic-like, Flanders sour to wash it down. You’re welcome.

halloweencandy-8

Candy buttons. They confusingly don’t look like candy, their flavor is lackluster, and each button comes with a piece of paper stuck on it. What’s not to love, right? Love it even harder, as you pair this sheet of sadness with Latitude 42’s very own Nectar of the Goddess, which is a blood orange and passion fruit, honey-infused wheat beer. Just pop in a button, take a sip of beer, pop another button, take another sip of beer…and soon enough you’ve got an inebriated sugar buzz to prepare you for handing out candy to strangers. The softness from the wheat, and the sweetness from the honey align with the sweet candy, while the passion fruit and blood orange characteristics resonate with the artificial “fruitiness” of these bizarre buttons.

halloweencandy-6Taffy candy never really reveals its flavor due to the opaque wrapper, but insteads shrouds itself in mystery by only revealing its Halloween themed wrapping. What’s inside? Untrustworthy taffy candy of course! What better beer to pair with an unknown, chalky, chewy, kind of fruitiness than Rockford Brewing’s Michigan Weisse! Their take on a German style Berliner Weisse, lends tasting notes of banana, pear, and clove, that combined with its slightly tart character, will quell any further disappointment caused by dear, sweet mystery taffy.

Mints. Do you think I just came back from dinner or are you simply trying to tell me something? These “candies” make such a heartbreaking “thunk” when dropped into the candy bucket, but at least you’ll have something to aid your foul beer breath before you unleash it on the person you were about to talk to. However, since this is a place for pairing, do the traditional ‘mint and chocolate’ route by eating these with Dark Horse’s Plead The 5th Imperial Stout to cap off your night.

halloween

 

Beer pairs with all, so don’t underestimate the power of boozy goodness on top of sugary, sweet sadness to make a perfectly palatable night. It can change a meal, make or break a pairing, and can now officially resurrect your Halloween. Eating copious amounts of sugar for no real reason never felt so good!

We love summer, and we love the beers that define it for us. Below are just a few beers we thought you all would like to check out and drink before this balmy season comes to a close.

Sparkle from Petoskey Brewing

summer beerThere’s barely a head on this golden, clear-as-crystal beer. It’s the epitome of summer drinking in my glass, because Petoskey Brewing decided to make their ‘Sparkle’ beer a Classic American Lager.


A whiff of crackers, some bread crust, grassy hops, and I’m on my way to tasting this little number. I receive a pleasant twinge of sweetness before a drying effect settles in. I’m left with a balancing, barely-there bitterness to round it out. A simple and to the point kind of a beer. Prepare yourself for true pleasure by pairing this summer quencher with seafood of the crustacean variety.

Even better, this beer comes in a  pint sized can, which means bringing this beer along when heading to the lake is a must.

 

Cake Walk from Right Brain Brewery

A cake walk, hey? AND it’s a Vanilla Cream Ale? Don’t mind if I do…

SummerBeer (6)Lovingly subtle Madagascar vanilla is in the nose, which is enveloped mostly by the aroma of corn. They suggest a “floral” note on the bottle and I don’t disagree, what with me thinking of lavender and lilies when I smelled it.

The mouthfeel is to die for! Incredibly smooth and pillowy, I gulp the beer down and find an explosive, yet not overwhelming, vanilla note. This dies down into the remnants of corn characteristic, and eventually into a lingering, small sense of bitterness.  It’s not sweet, but rather crisp. A very welcome thing on a hot day.

I’d explore this beer with cold cucumber soup, crab, or a béchamel and white cheddar grilled cheese.

 

Power of Love from Short’s Brew

SummerBeer (2)This, my friends, is a shandy-style ale. They chose to utilize rosemary and raspberry lemonade, and man, does it ever remind me of eating red popsicles in the summer while sitting on my mom’s lap. I’d get occasional whiffs of the American style lager she was drinking, and this shandy ale here brings those two scents together once again. No wonder they called it “Power of Love.”

As expected, the lemonade, raspberry, and rosemary scents make their way into my nose. I sip a bit and stagger a little at the sweetness, though it does make me want to freeze this beer in an ice tray and eat it as a popsicle….

A tiny bit of bitterness escapes at the very end, letting you know this is still part beer after all. It’s bright, fruity, sweet, and the perfect pairing with lemon basil chicken salad.

 

Tasmanian Hatter from New Holland Brewing Company

12oz-TasmanianHatter_Label_2015It’s an aroma bomb of dank, garlic, juicy mango and pineapple hops.  So far so good, now let’s dive in.

This ‘Galaxy India Pale Ale’ is punchy as all hell in the nose, but transforms itself into a sweet, bitter, and chewy beer that focuses on mouthfeel. It’s well rounded, flavorful, yet doesn’t feel disorganized.

Tasmanian Hatter can go in many directions with pairing, but I’d especially save this one for a roast rabbit with mango chutney or brisket tacos with pineapple slaw on a corn tortilla.

 

 

Mackinac Island Fudge Stout from Arbor Brewing Company

SummerBeer (4)What better way to end a meal in the summer than with a hot fudge sundae? Let’s re-create our own by pouring a little of this brew onto some ice cream and relish in the fact that chocolate beer and ice cream are a classic hit for a reason.


Here we are then, with the dark brown brew that is the Mackinac Island Fudge Stout. It’s got medium body, a little bit of acidity, and a creamy chocolate (almost tootsie roll candy) flavor that emerges in the flavor and aroma. Not overbearing or dense, this beer is a great way to get your chocolate fix even on the warmest of days.

You should also consider using this beer in a recipe for braised pulled chicken with beer mole sauce, using this fudge stout for the mole sauce.

Get out there, enjoy your continuing palate exploration, and live up the rest of the 2016 summer with season-perfect brews.

Cheers!

bitter old fecker

bitter old feckerBitter Old Fecker Rustic Ales has brewed an IPA with chamomile, rose petals, and juniper. They then barrel-aged it and put it out in the world for us to enjoy.

The beer is a cool burnt orange color with barely a head sitting on top. It’s certainly cloudy, which makes sense seeing as how they have a note on the side of the bottle saying, “We don’t use filters or fining agents. Our ale is hazy. We like it that way.”.

Upon inhalation of the aroma, I’m reminded of the last days of summer, just as you start smelling the turn of the leaves for autumn. I smell notes of fleshy blood oranges, orange peel, graham cracker, and wood.

The mouthfeel lends a softness, fullness, and bitterness that all marry together well. I’m left with the taste of wood, a dryness at the top of my tongue, and a spicy prickle as though I’ve just eaten something with black pepper.

As it warms and I return to the aromatics, the chamomile rises up, followed by a minor note of the juniper as it attaches itself to the “woodiness” of it all.

Bright, acidic, drying, and incredibly soft, this beer is a delightful treat that can be enjoyed with dinner, served as a dessert by itself, or paired with a cigar, with my recommendation for this being the Corojo from Leaf by Oscar.

shorts brewing

Short’s Brewing Company
Nicie – An American Wheat Ale Brewed with Orange Zest, Lemon Zest, Coriander, and Peppercorn
It is certainly hazy, but not cloudy. It is certainly golden, but with more of a yellow brightness. It certainly has a fluffy looking white head, but it’s not stacked up high in your glass. Before me is a beer that looks like summer and I’m delighted to partake.
My first thought when sipping became, “Zesty indeed!” As an American-style wheat ale, Nicie gets its kick from both the orange and lemon zest, with the added underbelly of coriander and peppercorn to lift it further. The coriander is oh-so-wonderful in particular with the orange zest notes in the flavor.
shorts brewing
The nose is a bit more mysterious as it only really emits the coriander and stronger peppercorn notes. The spicing  almost gives me the impression of sniffing a meal. Though it doesn’t exactly smell “savory,” the spices lean towards that end of the aroma spectrum.
As I swirl I can hear the carbonation rise up near my face and fizzle at me. Swallowing the beer gives me the eerie impression that I’ve drunk more in one swallow than I had originally intended. The flavors start out strong until you begin the swallowing process and the spritz and zest and wheat smoothness takes over to create a quaffable beer. The carbonation levels feel as though I get a zip along my tongue, but at the same time I don’t have to worry about the constant urge to belch in 10 minutes.
The dosing of the spices is truly magnificent, and I’m finding myself enjoying this beer more and more by the minute. When I think of an American Wheat, this is what I’d hope for (granted I know they have added more spices than in a traditional American wheat) and it feels like a pleasant blend between an American style wheat beer and a Belgian Witbier—in color, carbonation levels, and flavor.
shorts brewingWhy yes, I WOULD pair this little brew with food. A filet of a mild fish such as Mahi Mahi would be stellar, and I’d even take a guess that this beer would fit nicely with pistachio ice cream, using the cream to cut the peppercorn spice. The salty pistachios would lend their saltiness to the beer, giving it an almost Gose beer style kind of enhancement.
To top it all off, the Montecristo White Series cigar would be a fine cigar choice to pair with this brew. Using the orange zest and the peppercorn notes of Nicie to meld with the distinctive woodiness and hint of peppercorn notes of the Montecristo White, the imbiber would find a refreshing, yet complementary, experience.
 

shorts brewing

Short’s Brewing Company

Nicie – An American Wheat Ale Brewed with Orange Zest, Lemon Zest, Coriander, and Peppercorn

It is certainly hazy, but not cloudy. It is certainly golden, but with more of a yellow brightness. It certainly has a fluffy looking white head, but it’s not stacked up high in your glass. Before me is a beer that looks like summer and I’m delighted to partake.

My first thought when sipping became, “Zesty indeed!” As an American-style wheat ale, Nicie gets its kick from both the orange and lemon zest, with the added underbelly of coriander and peppercorn to lift it further. The coriander is oh-so-wonderful in particular with the orange zest notes in the flavor.

shorts brewing

The nose is a bit more mysterious as it only really emits the coriander and stronger peppercorn notes. The spicing  almost gives me the impression of sniffing a meal. Though it doesn’t exactly smell “savory,” the spices lean towards that end of the aroma spectrum.

As I swirl I can hear the carbonation rise up near my face and fizzle at me. Swallowing the beer gives me the eerie impression that I’ve drunk more in one swallow than I had originally intended. The flavors start out strong until you begin the swallowing process and the spritz and zest and wheat smoothness takes over to create a quaffable beer. The carbonation levels feel as though I get a zip along my tongue, but at the same time I don’t have to worry about the constant urge to belch in 10 minutes.

The dosing of the spices is truly magnificent, and I’m finding myself enjoying this beer more and more by the minute. When I think of an American Wheat, this is what I’d hope for (granted I know they have added more spices than in a traditional American wheat) and it feels like a pleasant blend between an American style wheat beer and a Belgian Witbier—in color, carbonation levels, and flavor.

shorts brewingWhy yes, I WOULD pair this little brew with food. A filet of a mild fish such as Mahi Mahi would be stellar, and I’d even take a guess that this beer would fit nicely with pistachio ice cream, using the cream to cut the peppercorn spice. The salty pistachios would lend their saltiness to the beer, giving it an almost Gose beer style kind of enhancement.

To top it all off, the Montecristo White Series cigar would be a fine cigar choice to pair with this brew. Using the orange zest and the peppercorn notes of Nicie to meld with the distinctive woodiness and hint of peppercorn notes of the Montecristo White, the imbiber would find a refreshing, yet complementary, experience.

 

trail point brewing

Trail Point is, dare I say, on the right path.

Walking into the brewery for my first time I immediately, genuinely, feel at home. From the driftwood tap handles to the outdoor patio, to the high ceilings and the tucked away dart board, the whole place had a vibe that encouraged the act of sitting for hours with friends and passing the time with beer and games.

Fortunately, I had the opportunity to relax in their beautiful space and try out a few of their brews.

trail point brewing

First up? CIPaPotamus, a 6.4% ABV Citra India Pale Ale. Clever name. I’m into it already.

Before me is the epitome of an amber colored beer. A thin ring of a white head sits on the outer edges of the glass. As I lift the snifter up to my nose I’m greeted with melded aromatics of sweet orange peel, toasted grains, a touch of honey, peppery hops, and a soothing floral note. Already intrigued, I bring the glass up to my mouth and take in the soul of the beer. I’m rewarded with tasting notes reminiscent of the aroma — light honey, sweet orange peel, and the comforting flavor of toasted grains.

On my tongue the beer feels balanced, refreshing, and leaves me with a hint of sweetness of honey and malt to soothe the prickling hop bitterness. When lingering in its aftermath I am reminded of the crisp, herbal bitterness I enjoy when sipping a Negroni as an aperitif before a meal.

A Toasted Brunette comes my way next at 5.5% ABV in its Coconut Brown Ale form. Before you ask — yes they did use real coconut. Yes, it was toasted in house and was added in all its beautiful glory into their beer. Yes, this beer is like drinking alcoholic coconut oil dripped onto a piece of bread.

The beer is almost opaque and reminds me of the color a Belgian Dubbel normally takes on. The head is an off white and lingers.

Aromatics are of, you guessed it, toasted coconut. Honestly that is most of the aroma, save for a touch of raisin and a whiff of alcohol heat. Might I say it even reminds me of the fresh scent of wood? Personally, I think it would be absolutely divine if the beer was aged on cedar, because I feel its bouquet would respond so wonderfully to it.

The flavor is encompassed by coconut and the toasted character from the toasting of the coconuts, as well as the grain bill melding together. I wouldn’t say this beer is sweet, but rather lends flavor that would contrast and emphasize sweet foods. I kept thinking of eating a sweet or savory flan while drinking it. The mouthfeel was thinner than I had anticipated but the finish left me with a last burst of coconut and lingering, balancing bitterness to tie it all together.

Henry Lee is up next for me! At 8.9% ABV, this sneakily mid-high alcohol strength Strong Old Ale was a peculiar brew.

It’s perfectly clear with a bone colored head that takes some time to dissipate. The scent is surprisingly subtle and gently grows. Eventually I pick apart earthy hop aromatics, subtle buttered biscuit and overall breadiness, and an interesting dark cherry note. When tasting, the subtlety continues along using the bready malt, a comforting and appropriate bit of diacetyl, and earthy English style hops, leaving a small twinge of hop bitterness at the end.

The mouthfeel is slicker and leaves me with some alcohol heat, though it’s sneaky in a way that if I was tasting this beer blind I would have guessed it to be at about 7% ABV instead of its true 8.9%. A brief sweetness latches to the alcohol warmth and carries into the finish where it all ends up attaching to the friendly diacetyl-like buttered biscuit flavors. The more I drink it, the more I realize it’s almost begging for food. Most of the time I find Old Ales to be great sipping beers on their own but with the more subtle nature of the Henry Lee I feel it deserves a meal.

trail point brewing

Last but not least was the Sun Tap’d Summer Wheat Ale that comes in at 4.5% ABV. I’ve never had a wheat beer like this one before. Claimed as an American style wheat, the ale is brewed with torrified wheat, white wheat, and rahr, among other grains. The combination created quite a bizarre beer that I won’t forget.

The brew is clear with a quickly disappearing head. In the aroma I detect strong hop aromatics reminiscent of light onion, and an earthy twig/leafy character. I dig into the tasting and discover a surprising yet not unpleasant burnt non-buttered popcorn flavor, along with the aforementioned hop characteristics. The beer is thinner and drier and grittier than I usually get when drinking a wheat beer. The flavors and aromas of the grain actually remind me of the use of rye in a grain bill and if I had been blind tasting I wouldn’t have guessed this was made with wheat.

I finish it all up in its crisp, refreshing, barely bitter state and announce this whole experience as quite fulfilling.

Well, what’s next? For me, I’ll be coming back in sooner than later to destroy my husband in a game of darts in their taproom, and I’d suggest you all a.) do the same and visit the venue, and b.) attend one of the many beer dinners put on by Trail Point with Patty Matters food truck. I can’t see how that would ever be a poor decision.

Cheers!

 

Photography: Steph Harding


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