Ray's Craft Beer Newsletter
Spectacular Ciders and Cellaring 101
August 2013
Volume 2 Issue 16 
Dear Ray's Craft Beer Lovers,

The calendar just flipped to August but already it's starting to feel like fall in the Beer World. New pumpkin beers and Oktoberfests are showing up every day and while fall is my favorite beer season (look forward to the next issue for a spotlight on my favorite fall brews) let's pump the brakes for a moment and enjoy the great summer weekend ahead of us. Mid 70's and sunny for the next three days is about as good as you can get. But what are you going to be sipping on while soaking up the sun? I know what my fridge is stocked with right now: CIDERS. Bright, bubbly, and refreshing, ciders are my beverage of choice for this weekend and I'll highlight a few of my favorites.

 

Also, in this issue I would like to briefly touch on beer cellaring. It's an expansive topic that could fill tome upon tome, but I'll just touch on the basics and suggest a pair of beers that would be a great foundation upon which to start your own cellar. Like I said though, there's much more information about cellaring than I am able to pack into this newsletter. So, if you are curious or have other questions email me, hit me up on facebook or twitter, or you can do it the old fashioned way and stop by the shop to chat me up.

 

And finally, read to the end for a special beer release announcement!

 

Cheers!

-Kaleb Schwecke

IN THIS ISSUE
JK's Scrumpy Cider
Island Orchard Brut
Cripsin Cho-tokkyu
Cellaring 101
Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Aged Scotch Ale
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine
Special Beer Release!
Unlike money, cider essentially does grow on trees. Plus it tastes better. Have you ever tried eating a nickel?!
(Picture via islandorchardcider.com)
Ciders: A Reintroduction

 

I have found that many craft beer lovers often times look down on cider, almost viewing it as beer's less desirable relative. Mostly I've found that this view exists because they have only tried the overly sugary, mass-produced ciders. In an attempt to change this perception, I would like to introduce you to some quality ciders that are carefully crafted and are perfect for summer, fall, or anytime really.

 

There are many parallels to draw between ciders and wines (cider has traditionally been called "apple wine"). And just like wine, the quality of the product depends on the quality of the fruit going into the bottle. Small batch ciders get to pick the choicest apples and blend them together to create a complex and well crafted beverage. 

 

The process of making cider seems very simple on the surface, but the more we learn about it the easier it becomes to respect and appreciate it. After the apples are picked they are ground down into pomace, or pulpin a process called scratting. The pomace is then pressed (traditionally through layers of straw) to extract the good stuff. Many ciders, depending on the style, use champagne yeast. And once the yeast is pitched into juice it is fermented at a low temperature (sometimes as low as 40 degrees) in order to preserve the delicate aromas and brightness of the apples. Most ciders are ready to drink after three months but some are even fermented as long as three years. 

 

Let's look at a couple ciders which the gang at Ray's and I personally enjoy.

Almar Orchard's: JK's Scrumpy Cider

 

organicscrumpy.com

While "scrumpy" sounds like an insult that you might hear thrown around on the playground, the term originated in the South-Western part of England and commonly refers to a dry cider

that is small batch and locally produced. 

 

This perfectly describes this small, Michigan based cidery. They use the best local apples to create this slightly hazy, off-dry cider. It is lightly carbonated and has a full mouthfeel. Not only do they create fantastic juice, but everything they do is 100% organic. JK's is one of the most highly regarded cideries in the world and has multiple offerings in the top 25 cider list with Scrumpy's pulling down a 96 point rating from Ratebeer.

 


Island Orchard Brut
islandorchardcider.com

 

This cidery hails from Door County and uses the best apples grown in the region. They produce ciders in the Normandy tradition, which leads to ciders that are dry and highly carbonated. It's very easy to see why they use the word Brut to describe this cider because it is clear, crisp, and very reminiscent of fine champagne. Island Orchard Brut is very food friendly due to its nice acidity and can be paired with chicken or fish. It also works perfectly with a vast array of cheeses like brie, cheddar, or fontina.

Crispin Artisanal Reserve Cho-tokkyu

 

crispincider.com

This cider from Crispin is a standout because of how incredibly unique it is. It's a hybrid that uses sake yeast (hence the Japanese name) and adds in organic rice syrup to help with the fermentation. The result is an off-dry cider that pours out a hazy, straw yellow that smells of fresh apples, yeast, and grains. It is light bodied with minimal carbonation and has a head that dissipates quickly. The taste follows the aroma and is complex for a cider with a dry, almost tart finish.

Start Your Own Beer Cellar!
  

In many ways the world of craft beer is starting to mirror that of fine wine. Much like wine collectors, craft beer connoisseurs are cellaring away beers to let them develop and mature over the years. While it takes mammoth amounts of patience and self-control not to crack into the bottles immediately, cellaring is an extremely rewarding practice that I encourage everyone to try for themselves.

 

All you need to start is a cool, dark space. Beer is not all that fragile, but it is best to keep it out of direct light and at a constant temperature (ideally 50-55 degrees). Basements are the best places to store beer, but if you don't have access to one, the bottom of a coat closet works just as well. But be warned, it's a slippery slope. Cellaring beer is a fairly addicting hobby and soon you will find that every inch of closet space is occupied by bottles of various shapes and colors. And if you're not careful, you'll end up like the guy in the picture above and live in a cave surrounded by thousands of bottles of the best beer known to man. Which, now that I think about it, doesn't sound terrible at all.

 

Before you start laying down bottles, there is one quick thing to note. Not all beer styles are suitable for cellaring. IPAs, despite hops being a preserving agent, are best imbibed fresh as the bitterness of the hops quickly falls off. The best styles for sticking in your cellar are stouts, barleywines, big belgians (especially quads), and anything with the world "imperial" on the label. These styles tend to be higher in alcohol which will mellow out with age.

 

Below are a couple suggestions that would be great to hide away and start as the base for your collection.

Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ale

 

Central Waters has one of the best barrel aging programs in the state, if not the country. Their Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout and Barleywine are both highly sought after and their 1414 previously won Gold at the Great American Beer Fest in the barrel-aged category.

 

The Barrel Aged Scotch Ale is a recent release which made me wonder why they would release such a malty beast of a beer in the middle of the summer. I drank a bottle right as soon as we got it in and the alcohol was very prominent. However, with just a couple months in the cellar this beer will mellow nicely. With this in mind, the summer release makes perfect sense, because four months from now this will be drinking sweet and smooth, just in time for Christmas. Feel free to lay this beer down for as many as five years, but I expect it will peak with two to three years of age on it.

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine

 

This is one legendary beer that has acquired quite the following over the years. It is a beast of a beer and clocks in at just under 10% abv depending on the batch. It pours out a deep ruby color with a gorgeous, thick head. The aroma is robust with tons of malt, toffee, raisins, and other dark fruits. The flavor follows the nose with a rich complexity. Drink one fresh and you will notice a prominent hop characteristic in the lingering, bitter finish. 

This hop profile will fade over the years and reveal a deeper, more robust maltiness. In general, barleywines can be aged up to 10 years and I have a bottle of 2007 Bigfoot sitting in my cellar that I'm waiting for the opportunity to crack into. 

Special Beer Release Announcement: AleSmith's Speedway Stout

 

Many people have called this the "best beer in the world" and it spent a couple years in the #1 spot on Ratebeer. It is rich and luscious with layers of chocolate, coffee, and complex malts.

 

We are proud to be releasing this world renowned beer tomorrow, Saturday the 10th when we open at 9am. Supplies are limited so we will be allowing one bottle per person.

 

In light of the cellaring suggestions in this newsletter, the AleSmith brewmaster, Peter Zien, said that this beer develops wonderfully in bottle for up to 15 years. That would be a true exercise in patience, but he said that it only improves with age.

Save 10%
Receive 10% of all beers featured in Volume 2 Issue 16 of the Ray's craft beer newsletter. Thus, it is limited to JK's Scrumpy Cider, Island Orchard Brut, Crispin Cho-tokkyu, Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Aged Scotch Ale, and Sierra Nevada Bigfoot. No limit. Not redeemable with any other special offers. 

 

- Coupon does not apply to the special release of Speedway Stout.

Offer Expires: Sunday August 11th at 5:00pm
Thanks again for subscribing to and reading Ray's craft beer newsletter. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please feel free to email me at kaleb@rayswine.com

Lastly, for up to the minute beer arrivals and release information, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook. We have also added lots of great craft beer events (in addition to excellent wine and spirit ones, too) in our upstairs tasting room. A full list can be found here
Cheers!

Kaleb & the gang at Ray's

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