Post by Mark Riechers on 2/6/2013 1:00pm
Isthmus food writer André Darlington tempted the fates, or at least upped his risk of chronic disease, to report two recent stories. One attempted to round up all the best Reubens in Madison, while another explored what local craft cocktail makers are doing with winter flavors. Darlington returns to the Arts Extract podcast to discuss these pieces and what he’s learned from consuming all that sauerkraut. In the episode’s second segment, the hosts preview venerable comedy troupe Upright Citizens Brigade’s Feb. 15 show at the Memorial Union, plus a few notable music events coming to campus venues.
Post by Maddie Greene on 10/31/2012 9:40am
Are you finding the forcibly truncated apple season cause for depression? Get your apple fix from a bottle with a new entry into Madison's hard cider market.
Alongside Minneapolis and Charleston, Madison is one of the first markets to try out Somersby Hard Apple Cider.
To properly understand the options, some friends and I tried Somersby alongside Woodchuck and Crispin's hard ciders. Woodchuck didn't fare as well in our taste test-- we found it to be the most watery and with a sweet component that suggested -- but wasn't-- high fructose corn syrup. Crispin's offered a more concentrated apple flavor with significantly more apple tartness.
The newcomer, Somersby, had the strongest flavor of ripe autumnal green apples. One taster claimed it tasted more like non-alcoholic apple cider than any hard cider he's had. Another objected to my description of Somersby as "tart"-- instead, she insisted that it was sweet with a flavor of Granny Smith apples that fooled my tongue into tasting tartness. Somersby bills itself as both "sweet and refreshingly crisp" so I think we can find middle ground on this.
Post by Maddie Greene on 8/27/2012 4:00pm
In a world of community supported agriculture shares and even community supported breweries, a perceptive trend forecaster might have pinpointed the rise of a cocktail-based CSA.
In Madison, the foresight award goes to local preserves company Quince & Apple, who spotted an opportunity for artisan inebriation and brought forth a seasonal cocktail box.
Quince & Apple founders Matt and Clare Stoner Fehsenfeld dipped a toe into cocktails – figuratively, of course—with the May release of Tart Cherry Grenadine, a syrup designed to add flavor, color, and sweetness to a cocktail without the additives of the unnaturally bright stuff off the grocery store shelf. (See below for a drink recipe using Tart Cherry Grenadine.)
Q&A’s seasonal cocktail boxes head even further into the cocktail realm with syrups, bitters, and drink-enhancing accompaniments. For instance, the first box (which ships September 15) includes the new Rhubarb Hops syrup, craft bitters from the fellows at Bittercube, agave-sweetened Q tonic water, and a lime.
Post by Maddie Greene on 8/14/2012 3:10pm
Brewer and entrepreneur Colleen Bos is primed to improve Madison’s artisan brew landscape with the city’s first meadery—and Madison is helping out by supporting a successful Kickstarter campaign.
Bos set her original goal of $11,000 in response to unexpected building costs when one building inspector ordered her to rebuild parts of the meadery that a previous inspector had approved. “It was the bare minimum to keep me from going under.”
The goal was hit—and exceeded—within a week. “It was incredible,” says Bos. “It surpassed my expectations.”
Donations beyond the original goal will go toward construction bills and maybe some fun things beyond that. “Not only tools and machinery that will make the meadery more efficient,” Bos says. “I’m really excited about the tasting room.”
The stainless steel fermentation tanks in Bos Meadery’s production room on East Washington are currently bubbling away with a wildflower mead made from three kinds of honey and a buckwheat wildflower blend. Local fans of artisan brews and unique flavors should be able to find Bos Meadery’s dry meads in 750 mL bottles before the end of the year and potentially on tap at select bars.
Post by Maddie Greene on 6/15/2012 3:02pm
More Animal House than Bleak House, more man cave than Mad Men, the concept of “beertini” fails to inspire mixology raptures.
Maduro and Furthermore partnered for a Furthermore Beer Cocktail Party at Maduro’s bar on Thursday, June 14th. On the menu: five original cocktails starring Furthermore brews and a supporting cast of housemade bitters, Italian amari, and more.
The Fatty Boomaloni was my first selection, and any remaining hesitation about beer cocktails was thoroughly destroyed with my first sip. “It works!’ I squealed aloud. Based on a classic Negroni, the Boomaloni replaced gin with Furthermore’s Fatty Boombalatty and Campari with Cynar. Vogel rounded it out with sweet vermouth, orange bitters, orange juice, and an orange peel garnish. The result was perfectly balanced. The beer component was most decidedly present in taste and appearance, and paired brilliantly with the slightly vegetal flavors of the Cynar.
Post by Jesse Russell on 5/25/2012 11:54am
As originally noted by MadTable, Stevens Point Brewery has released what could possibly be "the most epic beer commercial ever made." The Stevens Point, Wis.-based brewer, the fifth-oldest privately-owned brewery in the country, has delivered a commercial of a quality typically reserved for macro brewers who can afford million dollar ad buys during the Super Bowl. It makes me want to go see Stevens Point Brewery 2012 Black Ale the Movie.
The short film/commercial takes place on the last day of Earth and features a Mayan blowing fire as ash falls from the sky and people riot against police. A man clutches a bottle of Point's 2012 Black Ale as he searches the crowd for a woman. When they find one another they embrace in a passionate kiss not noticing when a wayward police baton smashes what could possibly be the very last bottle of 2012 Black Ale in the city. When they break their kiss and he sees the broken bottle he screams in anguish. Is it the end of the world? Watch the commercial to find out.
The commercial was shot in Chicago by Director Kerry Shaw Brown and you can watch it below.
Post by Emily Mills on 2/23/2012 10:30am
Small batch, craft distillers from across the country converged on Madison and the Edgewater Hotel last Saturday evening to ply their wares to local bartenders (sorry, mixologists), restaurant owners, and the adoring public as part of the fourth-annual Distill America tasting event.
Some 40 individual micro-distilleries, 13 of them from Wisconsin, showed off the spirited fruits of their efforts – some new and novel, with plenty of old favorites available as well.
Guests, including this intrepid reporter, were given a small shot glass and let loose on the event to sip everything from a wide variety of apple brandies to more rarified drinks like absinthe and ouzo.
There were plenty of big names on hand to show off their more refined products, like Korbel (this is Wisconsin, after all) and Jim Beam. My focus was more solidly on the locals, however, since Wisconsin has seen an absolute boom in micro-distilling over the last five years.
On hand to show off our state’s newfound passion for more than beer was the soon-to-expand Death’s Door brand, which will be opening a large facility in Middleton later this year. I was already well familiar with their gin (a lovely, mild, smooth spirit made with wild juniper harvested on Washington Island, along with coriander and fennel also sourced from within the state) and had tried the white whiskey (a strange and wonderful whiskey akin to a very earthy sake that has a rich, dough-like flavor). Death’s Door also offers a very respectable vodka made with wheat and malted barley again sourced from Washington Island.
That dedication to locally sourced ingredients shone through most of the Wisconsin distiller’s work. The stand out drink of the night, for me, was a traditional, hand-crafted Hmong rice spirit made by Lo-Artisan in Sturgeon Bay. The family-run business uses sweet and long grain rice—and nothing else—in creating their Yerlo and Yerlo Reserve.
Post by Emily Mills on 2/14/2012 4:00pm
This Saturday evening at the Edgewater Hotel in downtown Madison industry professionals and amateur aficionados alike with have the chance to sample American distilled variations of everything from whiskey to gin, vodka, absinthe, liqueur and more.
Now in its fourth year the Celebration of American Distilling will feature 42 small batch distillers from across the country that will show off their wares to an appreciative audience. It’s also a chance for many vendors to open up a new market for their product.
Wisconsin has a long love affair with beer, yet the state, like the rest of the country, has only just been turning its eye back toward distilled spirits after decades of neglect. The timing of the event couldn’t have been better, coinciding with a boom of interest in craft cocktails that can be seen in the carefully concocted beverages at places like Merchant, Natt Spil, and Nostrano.
Kevin Guthrie, one of the event organizers and a local liquor sales rep, has seen that trend unfold firsthand. “I started in the sales side of things 10 years ago and if you would have told me 10 years ago that I’d see someone walking out of a store with $100 worth of bitters I would have said you were insane,” he says. “It’s really common now. People are having these extravagant bars at home and mixing tons of cocktails, and it really has a lot to do with boutique and craft distillers making new and unusual things where it challenges people to find new ways to use stuff.”
Fellow organizer and one of the founders of the Madison Malt Society, which puts on Distill America, Adam Casey says they got the idea for the event from attending things like the Great Taste of the Midwest here in Madison, and Whiskey Fest in Chicago. To this day, only Rogue’s Great American Distillers Festival in Oregon does something similar to Distill America in bringing a variety of domestically produced small batch liquors to a public setting.
“It’s the explosion of the little guys that’s made this whole thing so interesting,” Casey says. And unlike the beer business where Casey sees cutthroat competition between big and small breweries, the liquor industry is much more supportive. “The big guys actually started the trend toward more intimate production.”
Post by Will Raymer on 12/29/2011 4:00pm
A number of promising new spots from 2010 came into their own this year, and some old standbys stepped up their game to make 2011 a very fine year for craft cocktails indeed. Here are this year’s top trends in distilled diversions:
1. The rise of local distilleries.
It was only a matter of time until the do-it-yourself Wisconsin spirit that gives us killer local beer and cheese began to give us great liquor. From there, it was only a matter of time until the rest of the country caught on.
For starters, there’s Death’s Door, whose gin is quickly becoming the Spotted Cow of spirits—accessible, affordable, and everywhere. Ordering a Death’s Door martini in Madison has become more likely to elicit a nonchalant “vodka or gin?” than a confused “death what?”—which would have been a much more common response two years ago. Death’s Door’s white-dog whiskey is also catching on—I’ve seen it on menus as far away as San Francisco. Add in the success of Old Sugar Distillery, which got a nod in the New York Times this year for its beautiful space and habit-forming Honey Cap, and you’ve got a number of rising Wisco stars in the national spirits scene.
Post by Jesse Russell on 7/2/2011 10:22am
An additional bar in Wisconsin is planning to dump MillerCoors products in wake of Gov. Scott Walker's decision to not veto Motion 414. On July 7, The Fire House in Eau Claire will join at the least three other Wisconsin bars that have already eliminated such products from their drink lists. Motion 414 was drafted with input from MillerCoors and Wisconsin Beer Distributors Association in what they alleged was an attempt to curtail an effort by AB/InBev from taking over wholesalers in the state. The problem is Wisconsin's incredibly strong and growing craft brewing community wasn't offered a chair at the table. Due to the fact that the production and consumption of craft beer is growing at a faster pace than that of products produced by AB/InBev the craft brewers see the argument made to legislators that drafted this legislation as a bait and switch.