Hotbox Coffee Porter

Who says beer isn’t for breakfast anymore? I’m not actually suggesting you begin your day with this brew, but definitely if you like coffee this brew will turn your head. Brewed and canned by Oskar Blues, the Longmont, CO-based craft brewing pioneer that was a monumental influence in convincing the world that it’s an excellent choice to put craft beer in cans, this roasty, malty, wake-up-call of a porter was previously only available as a seasonal, but thankfully due to the demand of its fans it’s now a year-round offering. The proof of its goodness is in the can, as this 6.5% ABV porter is endowed with seven varieties of grains. “The malt bill highlights chocolate, fig, plum, espresso, burnt sugar, caramel, and marshmallow,” said Head of Brewing Operations (HOBO) Tim Matthews. The beer is complemented with coffee from Oscar Blues’ neighbor Hotbox Roasters, who formulated a blend of beans from Columbia, Honduras and Guatemala to highlight flavors of tobacco, chocolate, wood and earthiness brewed up in a super-concentrated cold brew. “We brew two pounds of coffee to one gallon of water and then steep it for 36 hours,” said Head Roaster Noe Lopez. “It adds massive coffee and chocolate flavor to the beer.” Hotbox Roasters donated the leftover Cold Brew to NASA to use as rocket fuel (not really!).

Black Butte XXX

Black Butte is thought by many to be the benchmark for the modern day craft beer porter style, so when once a year the Deschutes Brewery celebrates its anniversary with an imperial, barrel-aged version of its flagship, fans of the brew take notice. Each year the brewery experiments with fun ingredients and this year, the 30th anniversary Birthday Reserve was brewed with chocolate malt, midnight wheat and 2 row; and Millennium, Cascade and Tettnang hops. This year’s version marks the first time it has been aged in 100% oak barrels, utilizing a combination of eight different types of barrels that had been used to age bourbon, rye whiskey, rum, port, sherry, cognac, maple syrup and vanilla extract, resulting in extracting a mélange of the flavors previously contained in the barrels. As this 13.6% ABV gem only comes out once a year, and this year is sure to be a very special rendition, don’t hesitate to hunt one down.

Rogue Combat Wombat

Rogue Brewing is known for doing some fun and wacky things, like brewing with unusual ingredients such as donuts and yeast cultivated from their brewer’s bread. Their latest concoction is a bit tamer than the aforementioned brews but still out of the realm of normalcy. IPAs are all the rage right now and brewers are looking to create unique versions. This one fits the bill, as it is a fusion of hazy, sour and fruity all tied together with a hefty dose of Australian hops resulting in aromas and flavors of citrus and tropical fruit and a touch of tartness. This 7.2% ABV, 49 IBU Sour Northeast-style hazy IPA is brewed with no less than 13 ingredients, including oats, wheat, blood orange, grapefruit and acidulated malts (which contributes to the beer’s tartness). The result is a beer that is simultaneously sweet, sour and juicy. Other notoriety for this beer is in the label with a cartoon bright neon image of a wombat-like animal doing battle with citrus fruits. For a very entertaining video made by the Rogue team of the mysterious citrus-loving marsupial with an affinity for Australian hops wreaking havoc in the brewery, visit www.rogue.com/beers/combat-wombat. Combat Wombat is available in 22 oz bottles and on draft from July-October.

Everything but the Bagel Spice Mix

If you’re like me, your favorite bagel is the one with everything on it. If you wish you could have all those flavors without the huge amount of carbs contained in the bagel, now you can. This new spice mix from Pereg Natural Foods is a mix of onion, garlic, poppy, salt and three kinds of sesame seeds. The makers suggest you can jazz up practically everything with it, such as stirring into cream cheese or sprinkling on grilled meats, avocado toast, rice, scrambled eggs, salads, chicken and pancakes. I am definitely a fan, and haven’t found anything I’ve put it on not to be improved by its inclusion. The mix is fresh, 100% natural, gluten-free, vegan and is OU and CRC kosher-certified, with no MSG, additives or preservatives. Look for it in the supermarket spice aisle beginning in September, 2018 or you can find it online at www.pereg-gourmet.com