Showing posts with label B. United International. Show all posts
Showing posts with label B. United International. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Carobs, Chestnuts, Chinotto & Chamomile: Italian Microbrewed Specialties ... and Spaghetti alla Puttanesca.

(Thanks to John Campbell for help with the following)

Yesterday we tapped four newly available Italian craft beers, which will continue pouring until they're gone. Chocarrubica, Nuovo Mattina, Piccolo Seson and Strada San Felice are each available in 10-ounce pours for $7.00 (see below for descriptions).

This week only, NABC co-owner Amy Baylor is cooking batches of Spaghetti alla Puttanesca, which will be available for $7.50 per serving from today through Saturday, July 26. I've also been cooking this dish for years, since Bluegrass Brewing Company had a version of it on the menu, but I confess to knowing nothing about it until now. Here are highlights from Wikipedia's explanation of Pasta Puttanesca; follow this link to read the rest.

The name originated in Naples[2] after the local prostitutes[3], Pasta alla Puttanesca meaning "Pasta the way a whore would make it". The reason why the dish gained such a name is debated ... one possibility is that the name is a reference to the sauce's hot, spicy flavour and pungent smell.

(Another) story about this dish comes from Diane Seed in her book, Top 100 Pasta Sauces (p. 20):

"My introduction to this famous pasta dish occurred when I overheard two elderly priests discussing the pros and cons of Spaghetti alla Puttanesca ("Whore's spaghetti") as they deliberated over the menu in a Neapolitan restaurant. Made of ingredients found in most Italian
larders, this is also known as Spaghetti alla Buona Donna - or 'Good Woman's Spaghetti' - which can be misleading if one is not familiar with the ironic insult figlio d'una buona donna - son of a good woman."

Certainly racier than I expected. Maybe that's why I love the stuff. Traditional ingredients are olive oil, garlic, onion, pepper flakes, anchovies, tomatoes, capers, Kalamata olives, parsley, basil, and Parmesan cheese.

As for the beers ...

Italy is indisputably Europe’s newest craft beer frontier, with dozens of innovative artisanal breweries coming into existence during the last decade. Courtesy of the groundbreaking importer B. United International, the Public House will be featuring four newly available Italian microbrewed specialties, none seen before on draft in metropolitan Louisville, and each with a twist. The following descriptions come from B. United’s web site.

Chocarrubica
Birrificio Grado Plato … Piedmont region
Malts: Pale malt, Vienna malt, dark malts, oat malt {over 30%}
Spices: Venezuelan cocoa beans, carob
Hops: HallertauerAlc/vol: 7%
Chocarrubica is a top-fermenting oatmeal stout creation of deep black color. The adding of Venezuelan cocoa beans, carobs from the island of Sicily, and large amount of oats {over 30%} gives this unusual Italian creation its silky, chocolaty, and roasty character.

Strada San Felice
Birrificio Grado Plato … Piedmont region
Malts: Pale malt, Vienna malt
Spices: Piedmont chestnuts
Hops: Kent Golding, Saaz
Alc/vol: 8%
This 8% alc. amber-colored beer, is actually bottom-fermented. The flavor and aroma of local chestnuts gives Strada San Felice its original and distinctive personality. All the chestnuts are grown in Piemonte, in a very famous area for chestnut trees. They are then dried over a wood-fire. It pairs well with traditional autumn and winter cuisine such as game and stews.

Seson
Piccolo Birrificio … Liguria region
Spices: Juniper, chinotto peel, coriander
Hops: Hallertauer
Style: Saison
Malts: Pale malt, Vienna malt, wheat malt
Seson, rated Italian’s best Saison-style interpretation in 2006, is spiced with, among others, chinotto {a small bitter citrus fruit, which is now under the protection of the Slow Food organization), and matured in Chardonnay wooden barrels.

Appearance: Big yellowish foam, orange-golden color
Aroma: Citrusy, touch of lemon and lime, grainy
Flavor: Pronounced citrusy notes, turning bitter {chinotto influence!} and tart , very well balanced against its malt sweetness
Finish: Blend of citrusy, bitter-tart character lingers forever

Chinotto: small bitter citrus fruit from the chinotte {myrtle-leaved orange tree}. It grows in the regions of Liguria, Tuscany, Sicily and Calabria. It is of bitter and sweet taste and often served as aperitif to open the palate.

Nuovo Mattina
Birrificio del Ducatio … Emilia Romagna region
Style: Italian saison style
Malts: Pale malt, unmalted & malted wheat malt, oats, rye malt
Hops: Hallertauer, Chinook
Spices/fruits/herbs: Coriander, ginger, green pepper, chamomile; licorice
Alc/vol: 5.9 %

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Week of July 21, 2008: Carobs, Chestnuts, Chinotto & Chamomile: Italian Microbrewed Specialties.

NABC/Rich O’s themed guest beer weeks are coming throughout July.

Week of July 21, 2008
Carobs, Chestnuts, Chinotto & Chamomile: Italian Microbrewed Specialties

Italy is indisputably Europe’s newest craft beer frontier, with dozens of innovative artisanal breweries coming into existence during the last decade. Courtesy of the groundbreaking importer B. United International, the Public House will be featuring four newly available Italian microbrewed specialties, none seen before on draft in metropolitan Louisville, and each with a twist. The following descriptions come from B. United’s web site.

Chocarrubica
Birrificio Grado Plato … Piedmont region
Malts: Pale malt, Vienna malt, dark malts, oat malt {over 30%}
Spices: Venezuelan cocoa beans, carob
Hops: HallertauerAlc/vol: 7%
Chocarrubica is a top-fermenting oatmeal stout creation of deep black color. The adding of Venezuelan cocoa beans, carobs from the island of Sicily, and large amount of oats {over 30%} gives this unusual Italian creation its silky, chocolaty, and roasty character.

Strada San Felice
Birrificio Grado Plato … Piedmont region
Malts: Pale malt, Vienna malt
Spices: Piedmont chestnuts
Hops: Kent Golding, Saaz
Alc/vol: 8%
This 8% alc. amber-colored beer, is actually bottom-fermented. The flavor and aroma of local chestnuts gives Strada San Felice its original and distinctive personality. All the chestnuts are grown in Piemonte, in a very famous area for chestnut trees. They are then dried over a wood-fire. It pairs well with traditional autumn and winter cuisine such as game and stews.

Seson
Piccolo Birrificio … Liguria region
Spices: Juniper, chinotto peel, coriander
Hops: Hallertauer
Style: Saison
Malts: Pale malt, Vienna malt, wheat malt
Seson, rated Italian’s best Saison-style interpretation in 2006, is spiced with, among others, chinotto {a small bitter citrus fruit, which is now under the protection of the Slow Food organization), and matured in Chardonnay wooden barrels.

Appearance: Big yellowish foam, orange-golden color
Aroma: Citrusy, touch of lemon and lime, grainy
Flavor: Pronounced citrusy notes, turning bitter {chinotto influence!} and tart , very well balanced against its malt sweetness
Finish: Blend of citrusy, bitter-tart character lingers forever

Chinotto: small bitter citrus fruit from the chinotte {myrtle-leaved orange tree}. It grows in the regions of Liguria, Tuscany, Sicily and Calabria. It is of bitter and sweet taste and often served as aperitif to open the palate.
Align Left
Nuovo Mattina
Birrificio del Ducatio … Emilia Romagna region
Style: Italian saison style
Malts: Pale malt, unmalted & malted wheat malt, oats, rye malt
Hops: Hallertauer, Chinook
Spices/fruits/herbs: Coriander, ginger, green pepper, chamomile; licorice
Alc/vol: 5.9 %

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Cask ales from Thornbridge are coming to the Public House.

Now that the weather is again chilly, allowing of course for global warming, B. United International’s cask-conditioned firkin program has resumed.


For the uninitiated, B. United imports various classic beers from Europe and Japan. During the cooler months, firkins of cask-conditioned ale from the UK are brought in on a very limited basis and allocated on a pre-order basis to selected accounts.

Today, along with a handful of hard and soft spiles and clips for the handle on the beer engine, I received the badges for two real ales I’ve never tried and barely was aware existed.

They are both from Thornbridge Hall Brewery in Derbyshire, UK.

Building on the foundations of brewing in the UK we look to styles, and respond to influences, from around the world to help us achieve our vision. We have a highly skilled brewing team with a desire to learn about great beers and a passion to develop and produce them.

Fair enough. The two real ales that we’re expecting are Jaipur, an India Pale Ale, and Saint Petersburg, a Russian Imperial Stout. They’re pleasingly beefy by ordinary English standards, at 5.9% abv and 7.7% abv, respectively. Advance reviews are favorable, and when they arrive, the hand pull will come alive.

Most intriguing to me is the brewery’s location in Ashford in the Water, Derbyshire. As it turns out, Thornbridge is just up the road from Matlock and the nearby spa, Matlock Baths, where my first wife and I stayed with friends in early 2001. Ashford on the Water is squarely in the middle of the Peak District, a beautiful natural area, with the cities of Sheffield (east) and Manchester (west) roughly equidistant on either side. The county capital of Derby, to the south, has an abundance of real ale.

Sounds like another road trip in the making … beercyclists, take note.

Friday, September 14, 2007

It's time for planning the next three draft festivals.

As Publican and ranking beer chieftain at NABC, my beer acquisitions calendar generally proceeds according to serendipitous whim. I’ll now explain what this implies, but first, here’s a glance at the physical plant and the weekly operating scheme.

At NABC, Rich O’s Public House and Sportstime Pizza, we have 35 draft spouts on site. One of these is a swan neck attached to the firkin cabinet and is used only sporadically (mostly) in cooler weather, as there is not cooling system within. Another pours Sprecher Root Beer throughout the year. Eight more are dedicated to New Albanian house beers, and nine (sometimes ten) are permanent guest taps that customarily do not rotate.

15 or 16 draft slots are given over to rotating guest beers. These are the seasonal beers, the specialty beers, the crazy one-off limited engagement beers that provide much of the cachet when it comes to the experience we seek offer.

Much of the time, my only guiding principles in selecting the beers that will be pouring from these taps combine equal parts opportunism and personal mood, with a dollop of contrarianism (me?) thrown in for good measure. Yes, during warmer weather I’ll have lighter, fruitier, wheatier beers on tap, but there’ll always be an Imperial Stout or Barley Wine even when the temperature is 103 degrees, and there’ll always be two or three choices that were unplanned but sounded like fun when the time comes to choose from the array offered by our wholesalers.

Some weeks it sounds promising to have multiple offerings of the same style to facilitate comparison, and other times I prefer each tap to be dispensing something different. I don't eat the same food each day, either. The object is choice.

The topic of creative foraging is better left for another time, but suffice to say that there are boldly delineated times each year when the calendar comes out and more forethought is required of me, and we now are approaching the next such period. The dates for the next three draft beer celebrations have been set, and I don’t expect them to change:

October 19: Lupulin Land Harvest Hop Festival 2007
December 7: Saturnalia Winter Solstice Festival MMVII
February 29: Gravity Head 2008 (A Leap Year Volume 10!)

At the present time, preorders for all three are being calculated, and I hope to keep readers updated with the ordering process as it unfolds. In today’s first installment, I’ll share with you an e-mail reply to David Frost, the regional sales guru for the B. United International importing company. It is typical of where things stand each autumn when the selection and stockpiling begin in earnest.

----

David,

Greetings. Here’s the “key” to what follows:

LL – Lupulin Land hop fest, begins October 19, 2007
SA – Saturnalia Winter Solstice fest, begins December 7, 2007
GH – Gravity Head, begins February 29, 2008

Here’s what we already confirmed, I think:

LL Gaspar 30L
GH Podge Belgian Imperial Stout 30L
GH Dulle Teve 30L (two)
SA Jan de Lichte 30L
LL Wintercoat Double Hop 30L

Here’s what we need more information about (is it on the web site at all? I can’t find any Internet information not written in Italian):

GH (?) Beba Birra Integrale Birra di Natale

Then, from the remaining list:

SA Wintercoat Yule Ale
GH Wintercoat Cockney Imperial Stout

GH Harviestoun Old Engine Oil Special Reserve in Highland Park 30-year casks.

GH De Glazen Toren Angelique 30L (early November)
GH De Glazen Toren Canaster 30L (early December)

SA La Rulles Cuvee Meilleurs Voeux 20L (winter)

SA Brouwerij Strubbe Ichtegem Grand Cru 30L

GH Ettaler Curator Doppelbock 30L

SA Einbecker Urbock Dunkel 30L

GH JWLees Harvest Ale 2006 50L

LL Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted 50L

I suppose now you can tell me what can be here and when; if not in time for the various fests, and then we’ll scratch them if necessary.

Have fun on your various journeys and such.

Roger

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Is the planet ready for blueberry barley wine?

From Italy, no less?

Tonight’s exercise in culture shock achieves its sly but soothing surprise by means of offbeat locality and unexpected components. Birra Artigianale Draco comes to us from the prolific importing firm of B. United International via Montegioco, the Italian town where Birrificio Montegioco was founded in 2005.

For those like me who are as yet unaccustomed to seeing Italy as a rising player in good beer, Montegioco is located between Milan (to the north) and Genoa (to the south) in easternmost Piedmont, just on the border with Lombardy. A morning’s drive to the west brings you to the shroud of Turin, while Venetian gondolas ply murky waters a few hours toward Slovenia.

I visited Italy three times during the 1980’s, and never since. My memories are of improbably marvelous red wine plunked from store shelves for a dollar a bottle, and 2/3 liter bottles of low-key golden lager consumed with salami sandwiches on park benches offering the best view of dusky local gals eating ice cream in the shadow of destination cathedrals.

That B. United International is aggressively pioneering the distribution of today's new generation of Italian craft beers can be seen in a portfolio that includes 18 beers brewed by five different breweries: Baladin, Como, Italiano, Montegioco and Troll.

To be sure, Shelton Brothers retains the variable Flanders-style sour red Panil Barriquee, which was one of my favorite new imports two years ago but unfortunately shipped stateside as flat as the Belgian seaside landscape in 2006.

Perhaps the sourish tide will turn with the next batch.

What’s more, these upstart Italian brewers are pushing the stylistic envelope, producing traditional European types like Saison, Pilsner and Bock, but also using cherries, peaches, chestnuts and spices. Alcohol contents range from the middle threes to the 11% listed for Draco, which bears a label depicting a dragon breathing fire into a chalice – or perhaps absorbing flames from it?

Long ago, the world of beer became so unpredictable that locating a mean between low and high expectations is virtually impossible, but in the case of Draco, I’m very pleased with the results.

The nose titillates with rum-like plum, raisin and candy sugar, and to these flavors is added a fruitiness that I’m trusting derives at least in part from he added blueberries, which reminds me of the vague fruitiness of He’Brew Origin Pomegranate Ale. Draco’s overall effect is quintessentially Belgian, and not unlike the fruit juicy punch of Gulden Draak, a perennial best seller at the Public House.

Thinking back to Italy in my twenties, surely I can do without the dreary lagers of youth, but right about now I’d kill for classically aged salami.