Cider Industry Article

Beverage World
June 15, 2012
Clare Goggin Sivits

Greg Hall, founder of Chicago-based craft cider company Virtue, has an explanation for the recent boom in the hard cider industry: “We’ve got a perfect storm going right now.” Thanks to a combination of adventurous drinkers, the popularity of gluten-free diets and the demand for local and sustainable products, hard cider has finally found its niche.

Of course, hard cider wasn’t always clamoring for a place in the market. Just under 200 years ago, the beverage was in its heyday giving beer a run for its money. William Henry Harrison was even elected on a campaign that included a barrel of hard cider.

But before Prohibition, as German immigrants who preferred beer flocked to the states and non-alcoholic cider grew popular with the temperance movement, hard cider fell off the map – or the menu for our purposes – in the United States.

After Prohibition ended, the beer and liquor industries managed to get back on their feet. Hard cider on the other hand was slow to the party. It returned but without its former glory, becoming recognized amongst wine coolers as a weak alternative at college parties. The respect cider wields in European markets has not been recognized in the Americas for almost two centuries.

But times are changing. The craft beer movement is drawing drinkers to more creative flavors and beverage options. According to Hall, the modern drinker “is not only willing to try new things but hungry [for it].”

David White of the Northwest Cider Association, a trade organization of cider makers, agrees, “I think the craft beer movement has developed adventurous drink enthusiasts who are on the hunt for quality.” For that reason, craft beer drinkers are adding cider to their repertoire and some cider companies have catered to them.

Crispin’s Artisanal Reserves line is fermented with beer yeasts in order to create a flavor that appeals to a craft beer drinker. Many of today’s craft cideries strive to maintain the same creativity and innovation that would be found in the craft beer industry. And cider flavors have a great range, providing something for every palate.

Meanwhile, a demand for gluten-free drinks has been on the rise. But, as Hall points out, most breweries create a single gluten-free beer among their selection. This lone gluten-free option must appeal to as large audience an audience as possible and, for this reason, it’s a little more likely to be a bit “boring.”

On the other hand, all ciders are naturally gluten-free. The wide variety of existing flavors make the beverage a far more exciting option to the gluten-free practitioner. This is a quality that many cider companies, like California’s Fox Barrel, have emphasized in their marketing materials.

Marketing these benefits of hard cider will become increasingly important as a new generation, one for whom gluten-free choices are of high importance, turns 21. This generation, one that has a higher instance of food allergies, will be more aware of what they’re drinking than any generation before.

Another quality that’s growing in importance for these young drinkers is sustainability and hard cider is often the most sustainable beverage on the menu. Depending on locally sourced fruits, cider has an environmentally friendly edge that even craft beer cannot always deliver.

And, since small farmstead cider makers use the fruits available to them, they naturally create a flavor that is unique to their region . Over the past few years, many of these smaller cideries have been coming into their own and acquiring distribution thanks to the enthusiasm that’s carried over from the craft beer movement.

The unique flavors are finding the more adventurous drinkers across the country and gaining traction – perhaps even encouraging drinkers to discover even more creative and regional flavors.

As for Hall, the former brewmaster at Goose Island Brewery, making cider is a love affair that he rediscovered while visiting Europe. Virtue has just introduced their first release, RedStreak, an English-style session cider that has been aged in American oak.

Seeing the opportunity for growth in the industry, Hall plans to innovate even further possibly venturing into bourbon-barrel aging cider – a process with which he first experimented while brewing at Goose Island.

But there’s more than one way to innovate in this industry. Hall also notes that Colorado Cider Company has introduced a dry-hopped cider. And Angry Orchard’s cider maker, David Sipes tells us, “We are experimenting with a variety of yeasts and aging techniques as we look to develop new cider recipes.”

Smaller cideries, like Potter’s Craft Cider are reviving traditional styles. And Salem, Oregon’s Wandering Aengus has taken to dry oaking one of their cider recipes.

The continuous growth in not only the cider industry but in the creativity among cideries promises great things for the future and to those newly adventurous drinkers who are thirsty for more.

Beer and Tasting Guide

July 2, 2012
Clare Goggin Sivits

As the resident beer writer here at Snooth, I am aware that most of you dear readers are wine lovers. But I also know (thanks to Nielsen) that about 72% of you enjoy a craft beer here and there.

For those of you who haven’t really ventured into the world of delicious beer, I’d like to introduce you to what I call the “gateway” beer: sours.

Sours are beers commonly made with wild yeasts and are often products of spontaneous fermentation. Styles that fall into this pretty broad category include lambic, gueuze and Flanders red ales – mostly Belgian styles. The brewing process is tricky but when done right it can result in an ale as complex as many wines. But keep in mind, the name rings true; sours are tart but they’re also really good.

In preparation for this guide, I tasted several sours and I’m sharing the ones I think you might like best. But you should branch out and find your own favorites – and let me know about them!

Rodenbach Original
Since sour ales began as a mostly Belgian niche brew, I thought it fitting to try a Rodenbach. This brewery, which began as a family-owned operation in Belgium (it’s now owned by the Palm Breweries company), specializes in barrel-aged sour beers.

The Rodenbach Original is a good place to start. The finished product is a combination of ale aged for 2 years in barrels (25%) and “young” ale (75%), or freshly brewed ale.

The tartness and even a bit of vinegar start right in the aroma. The flavor combines cherry, raisin and plum and a good shot of fig comes with the finish. It’s a nice introduction to sour ales.

Monk’s Café Flemish Red Ale
Some of you might be familiar with the famed Monk’s Café in Philadelphia, Pa. This ale actually hails from Belgium but Brouwerij Van Steenbergemo makes it specifically for that Philly restaurant.

Even though it comes from Ghent, Belgium, it is a pretty tame selection as sours go. The aroma is smoky and very mild and the flavor features raisins, plums, dates and a light sour tone. It’s sweet without being too tart and Monk’s even describes it as a palate cleanser.

You can get this ale in stores but I highly recommend taking a jaunt to the café itself and pairing this brew with the pomme frites.

Boon Oude Geuze Mariage Parfait
No, not Boones. This is Brouwerij Boon owned by Frank Boon himself and located near Brussels, Belgium. It specializes in traditional Belgian styles like lambic and geuze.

Their Oude Geuze Mariage Parfait is very tart. It’s something you can sense even in the nose. But the tart is complemented by flavors of white fruit, grapefruit and a touch of pear.

This is an intense brew, so it might be best to try this with a friend. You might want to have some salty food on hand to offset the inevitable sour faces.

Calabaza Blanca Artisan White Ale
Jolly Pumpkin, the Michigan brewery responsible for this brew, is known for their farmhouse-style ales often made with wild yeast. The brewery adopted the Belgian sour and made it their own. The Calabaza is no exception.

Aged in oak casks, the ale is a nice mild brew. The aroma features a prominent ginger note as well as a touch of lemon. Citrus and lemongrass complement a very mild sour.

I recommend enjoying this refreshing – yet only slightly sour – brew outdoors. It’s a nice drink for a summer day.

The Woods
As you’ve seen, several U.S. breweries have attempted sours and this rarely found gem that comes from Cisco Brewers in Massachusetts is a fine example of the sour that Belgians have perfected over the years.

Lemon and ginger aromas meet flavors or tart plum, cherry and a touch of brown sugar. It’s a nice blend that doesn’t cause any sour faces at all. Savor this one – enjoy it slowly like you would if you were sitting on a dock in Nantucket.

Chicago’s Goose Island Beer Co. has been brewing since the late 1980s. Last year, Anheuser-Busch purchased the remaining majority of the brewery. But even before that they initiated an impressive vintage line of beers that features several Belgian styles, including this sour beer named Juliet.

The ale is aged in wine barrels which might give it that extra appeal for a wine drinker. While sour, the brew is as refreshing as iced tea. In fact, the aromas remind me of an Arnold Palmer with a strong combination of lemon and herbs. The flavor isn’t far off from that. I tasted herbs and lemony sourness along with some hints of cherry and blueberry. 

Goose Island may no longer be a craft brewery by technicality but they still make some very good beers, notably Juliet.

Liefmans Goudenband
Liefmans Oudenaarde is a brewery that’s been around since the late 1600s. Duvel now owns them but they’re still brewing the same beers they’ve perfected over the last 400-plus years.

And this Flanders oud bruin ale is an amazing representation of the sour category. The bottle is wrapped in paper – a traditional Belgian brewing practice. But it’s kind of like opening a present when you get to drink it. It smells like strawberry candy and tastes like a well-rounded combination of figs and dates along with a flash of citrus in the finish.

Of all the sours I’ve suggested, this is one that everyone should try. It’s a special treat from Belgium.

Social Media For Beer Brands Article

Beverage World
October 12, 2011
Clare Goggin

While social media emerges as an effective marketing tool, beverage brands must acknowledge the risks involved. A misstep on social media might force a response from the public relations team or—worse—the legal team.

Terry Lozoff, president and CEO of Antler, a digital marketing agency, tells the cautionary tale of a popular frozen food brand. After inviting food and mom bloggers on Twitter and Facebook to a special dinner then pulling a bait-and-switch, serving frozen food rather than authentic Italian courses, blogs accused the company of scamming them forcing the public relations team to issue an apology. Lozoff notes lessons to be learned from this story: bloggers are very vocal and some of the biggest influencers on the Web. In reference to the large beverage blogosphere, he notes, “If you don’t treat that world with the respect it deserves, it can come back to bite you.”

Mariah Calagione, vice president of Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales, finds the process of keeping up with and responding to an online audience to be the biggest challenge of social media. “It doesn’t turn off,” she explains.

Keeping up with that crowd is key. According to Michael J. Lamp, social and digital media strategist at Hunter Public Relations, “The content being generated from consumers that lives on your Facebook wall or in the comment section of your blog also affects the social image of your brand.”

Calagione acknowledges this, saying that she comes across the occasional complaint on Dogfish Head’s Facebook page. She also points out that the brewery’s loyal following often responds to these complaints or inappropriate comments åin defense of Dogfish Head even before she sees them.

Hanna Laney of Great Divide Brewing Co., also finds the constant monitoring of pages a bit of a challenge though concedes that it “goes with the territory.” Laney clarifies, “By having one person at the brewery handling all social media, we keep a very active eye on what is being posted on our pages.”

Even on Twitter, it’s important to follow what others are saying and how it might reflect on the brand. Calagione experienced this last February when Gloria Huang, who runs the American Red Cross’ Twitter, accidentally Tweeted, “Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer…. When we drink we do it right #gettngslizzerd.”

Rather than brush the mistake under the rug, Dogfish Head and the Red Cross used the gaffe in their favor. Calagione re-Tweeted, encouraging followers to give to the Red Cross. The situation rallied followers to donate blood and even drew other brands, such as Austin’s Flying Saucer bar, to promote blood donation.

Calagione learned something else: Use your own personal Twitter for personal Tweets.
Brands do have the ability to put measures in place to prevent issues. Lamp suggests that alcohol beverage companies could age-gate their Facebook pages to verify their followers are 21 and over.

Lozoff warns against promotions that might violate regional or national laws or subtly appeal to an underage drinker. But for the most part, all beverage companies are on the same playing field when it comes to risk on social media.

Since laws differ state to state, Lozoff admits it might be harder for smaller players to determine what may or may not cross a legal line. But he adds, “I always say … look to what the big breweries are doing. If they’re doing it, it’s okay … because it’s had probably a hundred lawyers [check over it].”

Overall, beverage brand marketers agree that the benefits of social media far outweigh the risks. But a company benefits by taking precautions against those risks.

Bar Profile Feature

Mutineer Magazine
September/October 2011
Clare Goggin

It was the first day of June, a hot and sticky Wednesday, when I first had the opportunity to see the long-touted rooftop brewpub. I was excited to witness this massive collaboration in its physical form – something that sounded like it could be a godsend to the local craft beer movement in New York City, which had only really gained speed in the last decade. (It also didn’t hurt that they cooled me off with cold, delicious beer.)

Sam Calagione, Birreria collaborator, founder of Dogfish Head Brewery and passionate craft beer advocate, told me almost a year prior that he felt Birreria could be a vehicle for craft beer, saying, “I think we have an amazing opportunity here to expand the knowledge of craft beer.

And, on that day this past June, as Calagione gathered his group of visitors into the small but well-air-conditioned brew room to show off the small brewing system and introduce the brewpub’s fulltime brewer, Brooks Carretta, I thought of how Birreria had such potential to further the impact of craft beer, not only in New York City but everywhere.

Displaying his passion for brewing, Calagione described how he and his two fellow brewers had developed a recipe for their next seasonal brew.

The romance that my Italian brewers bring to the project is very refreshing,” he told us. “Because we were talking about [how] the eucalyptus honey will be making love to the ginger because those flavors work so well together, and the ugli fruit is going to be making love to the orange blossom honey because those two flavors work together so well. So it was a very sexy recipe experience for me. We smoked cigarettes outside afterwards.

Well over a year of planning, building and delays had passed before that afternoon when Calagione and his collaborators, Teo Musso of Birrificio Le Baladan and Leonardo Di Vincenzo of Birra del Borgo, hosted this event to introduce their finally completed brewpub located upstairs from the first U.S. location of Eataly – an Italian slow food-focused market.


Birreria now graces the rooftop of a Flat Iron District building, seating up to 150 beer lovers in the shadow of the Empire State Building, though one would need to be at the perfect angle in order to appreciate the view.

Since opening — actually, ever since the project was announced — there’s been quite a bit of confusion surrounding what Birreria really is. Publications that shall go unnamed have erroneously identified the brewpub as a beer garden. Chef Mario Batali set this straight when he told dining blog, Eater, “It is not a beer garden. It is a beer oasis in the sky.”

But even basic confusion over what type of venue you’ll find on the rooftop of Eataly proves that New York City, as a whole, has a lot to learn about beer. Perhaps this new location could bring some clarity.

Even the design of the space was meant to educate visitors. “We wanted to make this like a time machine. You come up in the elevator, and you step into an industrial-era, artisanal, small, Italian craft brewery that, by some miracle, got transplanted to a rooftop in New York City,” Calagione explained in that small brew room one day prior to the grand opening.

Calagione, Musso and Di Vincenzo showcased their collaboration beers complete with food pairings by chef Alex Pilas in their new space, and it was evident that this rooftop brewpub had been a challenge – one that the three brewers had undertaken with the pure intention of promoting not only their craft beers, but craft beer in general.


When the project was first announced, there were four collaborating brewers. Musso and Di Vincenzo represented Italy, a country where the craft beer movement is young but strong and bold. Another Italian-American, Vinnie Cilurzo, brewer and owner of Russian River Brewing Co., originally represented the American contingent along with Calagione.

Calagione has developed a reputation as a playful and likeable media darling for all things beer. Between his TV show, “Brewmasters” and the multitude of events he attends (both internationally and nationwide) – all while running his own brewery and brew pub in Delaware – Calagione spreads himself thin. But he does it all in the name of craft beer. And, Cilurzo, while dedicated to his Santa Rosa, Calif., based brewery, is also quite dedicated to furthering the promotion of craft beer across the country.

Musso and Di Vincenzo are less well-known in the United States, but these two men also had their share of work at their own breweries and in their own country. While Calagione took the lead on working with the basic operations of the brewpub, they demonstrated their passion for craft beer by traveling from Italy regularly to develop recipes and brew with the American brewers.

Calagione told me that brewing, for both he and Cilurzo was innate. “Well, I guess it started, for us, for me and Vinnie, generations ago. Vinnie and myself, we’re both Italian-Americans. Both of our parents were wine makers.”

It was this background that generated an interest in brewing “big, bold, full-flavored beers” and, eventually, the very young Italian craft beer movement.

Calagione and Cilurzo began attending the biennial Slow Food celebration, Salone del Gusto, in Turin, Italy. The focus on quality beverages was apparent in the event’s beer garden which only served beer from small, independent producers. The event looped in the Brewers Association, a U.S. trade organization, to man one big booth featuring American beers.

Their involvement in bringing American craft beer to Salone del Gusto resulted in friendships and collaborative teams between American and Italian breweries. In 2008, Cilurzo connected with Agostino Arioli, whose brewery Birrificio Italiano was founded in 1996, making it one of the first craft breweries to emerge in Italy. The resulting beer, La Flaurette, was made with unique ingredients, including flowers. The recipe belonged to Arioli, but the collaboration happened at Cilurzo’s brewery in California.

In another 2008 collaboration, Calagione traveled to Birra del Borgo outside of Rome to brew My Antonia with his future business partner, Di Vincenzo. This joint venture would begin the working relationship between the two brewers that would eventually evolve into Birreria, but neither knew this yet.


The Birreria collaboration began with the beer. The four original brewers, already having bonded over beer in Italy, got to work on recipes, ones that developed through informal conversations (often over beer and food) and emails.

Some input from Joe Bastianich and Mario Batali resulted in a summer seasonal peppercorn wheat beer. Italian thyme was chosen for a thyme pale ale, and the team also developed an Italian mild chestnut ale. Each brew was named for an Italian woman known for her beauty: the wheat beer was named Gina (Lollobrigida); the pale ale, Sofia (Loren); the mild, Wanda (Capodaglio). The pale and mild ales would be made year round while the seasonal would rotate out.

JV Northwest constructed the system installed at the brewpub. It was the smallest brewing system the Oregon-based manufacturer had ever built, making the equivalent of seven kegs in every brew, which would be transferred into firkins.

The brewpub would also promote other breweries by serving other American and Italian craft brewed beers on tap. One tap would always be reserved for a beer from a New York-based brewery. When Birreria opened, that beer was from Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown.
It’s become pretty clear that many of those involved in the local craft beer scene are embracing the brewpub and its potential for advancing the local craft beer scene.


New York City-based brewery, Sixpoint, also had their pilsner, Sehr Crisp, featured at Birreria recently; the brewery’s president, Shane C. Welch, told me, “I think there is a significant segment of people who may shop at Eataly who have no interest or experience with craft beer, and they may be turned on to good craft beer by visiting the Birreria above. Beer is clearly the focal point of the Birreria, so they would be forced to engage it in some way. So in that sense, the store is actually a gateway to a whole new type of beer experience for the unsuspecting customer.”

In fact, Welch goes even further, dismissing the possibility that this project could have a negative effect on the local beer scene. “I don’t think they could overshadow anyone, and to assume they are is a huge mistake. They have a niche, and they carved it out nicely. That’s what it’s all about.”

As part of the team behind Birreria, Batali and Bastianich were responsible for making the food a perfect complement to the great beers on tap. But they also recognize the importance of beer in the slow food movement as a whole.

“I think craft beer, maybe more so than a lot of other things, captures the very essence of [slow food]. Because it’s truly borne out of a local and a sustainable spirit, perhaps more than any other product in the world,” Bastianich told me. “That’s why beer is such a beautiful fixture to Eataly’s concept. We’re going to be making beer in the middle of Manhattan.”

Even Patrick Donagher, co-owner and general manager of Rattle ‘N’ Hum Craft Beer Bar in Midtown, sees Birreria as a benefit to his bar and the craft beer scene in general. “Birreria has already made a positive impact on the beer community in NYC,” Donagher notes. “The media attention Eataly has received and the different clientele they attract has introduced many new palates to our little world of craft beer, which in turn opens their eyes to craft beer over mass-produced, industrialized beer. They will begin their search for the many great beer bars of NYC just from tasting what Birreria has on their taps.”


As the opening date of the Eataly Market and the interior restaurants drew near, it was clear that the brewpub would not be opening at the same time.

“Putting a brewery on a rooftop isn’t exactly a project you complete in a day,” Calagione explained. From day one, the team struggled with fitting a complicated brewing system on a small rooftop with enough room for a restaurant and bar. The weather, temperature, space and the brewpub system itself all factored into the challenge of opening the highest brewpub in the country. And each brewer still had his own brewery to run.

After a few of the recipes had already been developed and even test brewed, Cilurzo revealed that he could no longer take part in the project. Concerns about production and demands from his distributors for Russian River forced him to step back from Birreria.

In response to this, Calagione told me, “While that was a bummer for Teo, Leo and I, it was cool that we at least got to do the initial brew and initial recipe for the English mild with Vinnie. So he’ll always be a part of Eataly New York City in that beer. But we totally understand his decision.”

At this point, the team still planned to open the brewpub in mid-October, 2010, falling just a few weeks after the opening of the Eataly market downstairs. But that plan would soon dissolve when the decision to add a retractable roof to the entire space was made, which was, undeniably, a smart decision. With the amount of effort going into this space, it didn’t make any sense for it to be a place that could be used only nine months out of the year.

The addition forced another delay. The team was now predicting February or March for a grand opening, but the New York City winter ruined that idea, dropping more snow than expected and further delaying the rooftop construction.

It wasn’t until February that those of us keeping up with the progress of the brewpub even got a hint as to what would finally end up being the actual opening date.


Birreria’s grand opening took place on June 2, 2011, 15 floors above Eataly New York, Madison Square Park and the streets of Manhattan. The retractable roof was open, and the weather was beautiful, light years from the day before spent sweating in the same space.

Guests sat around tables in red chairs and many stood near the bar or the brewpub area as the three brewers addressed the crowd. Staff in red shirts served meals paired with either the brewers’ collaborative brews or Italian wine. At the bar, barrels of wine took a back seat to the beers on tap and cask, but they were more prevalent than I would have expected at the opening of a brewpub. All beverages are welcome at Birreria and Eataly though, especially those created out of a passion for craft and artistry.

And so, Birreria opened, bringing craft beer awareness to the Flat Iron District in New York City and to a community who may come to Eataly for the food and, hopefully, stay for the beer.


Only a month after the rooftop brewpub project was first announced, I asked Calagione if he thought this were an effort that could only work in a place like New York City. He told me, “I think this is truly a moveable feast, and the goal is sort of one plus one equals three where food and beer get celebrated simultaneously on the same site. I think there’s many opportunities for similar collaboration regardless of geography.”

At the June 1st press event, Calagione revealed that another collaboration beer-focused venue would be opened at the new Eataly in Rome, bringing craft beer awareness to a city that has yet to host a successful brewery or brewpub. Moments later, he excused himself to judge a homebrew contest held for the Birreria staff. The winner would have their beer brewed and served at the brewpub in the fall, an opportunity for yet another craft beer brewer to reach a new audie

Interview: Shane C. Welch of Sixpoint Craft Ales

February 10, 2010
Clare Goggin

In the realm of beer-geekdom, Sixpoint Craft Ales is kind of like the Spider-Man of beers — both are “amazing” and both offer their own variation on the way they do things. Shane C. Welch, Sixpoint’s talented brewmaster and the founder, doesn’t shoot webs and climb walls but he definitely has his own unique way of brewing.

The brewery has started celebrating their fifth anniversary this week, with more events to come. After five years, they’re still looking to push the boundaries of brewing. With beers like Bengali Tiger, Righteous Ale and Sweet Action, they’ve already caught our attention but we really can’t wait to see what’s next.

Read on as Shane answers a few of our burning questions.

What inspires you to make a particular beer?
I think it’s pretty random actually. I mean, sometimes you get an idea in your head, but I don’t think it’s ever very calculated. I think it’s just whimsical. I don’t think that there’s any specific formula.

What about New York brought you here to open the brewery?
There’s a lot of culture and energy here. There’s plenty of reasons to love New York … There’s an amazing pulse … Also, when you have a community that puts you on the map or allows you to do what you love to do, you have an allegiance to them.

Do you find that you have an allegiance to Brooklyn in particular?
I think that we seem to have the biggest connection to the borough of Brooklyn, but I also feel that we’re not necessarily tied just to Brooklyn. And I also feel that it’s kind of dangerous to solely base your identity on where you are. In other words, I think it’s really important to develop who you are [rather] than where you are …

And this applies the same to businesses too. Just because someone makes something in a certain city or a certain region doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s superior or better. I think the manner in which it’s done and the intention of the creator is what’s ultimately more important.

Which beer would you say you’re most proud of — that you feel really encompasses what Sixpoint is?
I think it’s wrong to say “most proud of” and I hardly ever answer this question, but I’d have to say that the Righteous Ale seems to taste the best it’s ever tasted. And I feel like a lot of work has been going into that beer … to get it just the way that we want it to be. And there’s a lot of merit in that.

There’s a certain amount of detective work that goes into it … For instance, that beer has been tweaked so many times before we settled in on a production method … And it has gone through so many different changes, it doesn’t even resemble what it used to be.

It started out with just an intention … and then over time it evolved into the beer that it is now. And the cool thing about that is just the ongoing dialogue that you have with you customer and your staff … Over time, it begins to represent what everyone hopes it could be. The beer is literally a liquid manifestation of everyone’s aspirations. I think that that’s a really neat phenomenon.

Is there a specific bar in New York City that you really enjoy visiting for a beer?
Oh, there’s so many. It actually depends … I could be walking down the street in any neighborhood and I could think in my head which bar I’d want to go to. Being in this business and having the business model that we have, we’re forced to recognize where the top bars in any particular neighborhood are — because we had to get our beer on tap in there.

I’ll be in the West Village and I’ll go to Kettle of Fish, or I’ll go to Blind Tiger … Or I’ll be in Williamsburg and I’ll go to Fette Sau or Roberta’s or I’ll go to Brooklyn Ale House …

Do you find that you drink mostly domestic craft beer or do you drink more imports?

Domestic. Import beers … they’re not fresh. You can’t get fresh import beer because it gets hung up in customs, they ship them on containers because it’s cheap … By the time it ends up on a shelf in Brooklyn, you’re drinking unrefrigerated, shaken product and you’re paying a premium for it. Why would I do that? To me, the value is in affording your domestic bold brew.

Also, environmentally, how can you justify bringing a product out … when you have great, fresh stuff at home.

What’s next for Sixpoint?
We want to continue to kind of push the boundaries of the way that a business can approach how it operates. We have a very unique way of doing things [at Sixpoint]. Basically, if we have an issue, we’ll sit down and talk about it. We’ll talk about the future of the company. We’ll all make dinner. It’s like a big, evolving family … You can manufacture a product that you think is really cool but the manner in which you do it, that’s the most important part.

I want to push the boundaries in that realm and I also want to push the brewing boundaries because nowadays everyone’s doing really wacky things. There’s a lot of showmanship involved. But I think what would be more impressive is if we challenged each other to do really novel things with how you think of flavor and define it. Rather than how many peppers you can put inside a beer.

Click for more:
1. Sixpoint Craft Ales
2. Sixpoint Fifth Anniversary Events
3. Sixpoint Bengali Tiger
4. Sixpoint Righteous Ale
5. Sixpoint Sweet Action

Featured List: Desserts & Sweets

March 25, 2010
Clare Goggin

Local ice cream shops everywhere are going far above and beyond your average chocolate and vanilla cones. Savory tang like Goat Cheese, unusual ingredients like Lobster and unique inspiration like Horchata, a Spanish drink, are seasoning up ice cream scoops all over the place.

We’ve searched and found thirteen incredibly creative scoops of ice cream in America. Take a peek and be sure to visit any and all of these places for a taste of something a little different in frozen form. But please let us know if you think we forgot someone — we’re always up for trying new ice cream flavors!

The Ice Cream Store
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Buzz Flavor: Bacon
Chip Hearn, owner of this Delaware ice cream destination, has gained a lot of attention for spicing up ice cream coolers everywhere. He not only mixes up a bacon ice cream but he’s also experimented with beer flavors, mixing up stouts with coffees, and also a honey lavender combination.

Hearn looks at the shop as his “second coming” as a chef. After gaining national notoriety, the ice cream maker has been trading recipes with other chefs bringing flavors from all over the country to his shop. But he really focuses on using local ingredients as well — his lavender comes from a lavender field not far from his front door.

Hearn is also not afraid to get really creative. He recently mixed up a booger ice cream for the kids which combined green cake batter ice cream with green-colored caramel and Lucky Charms marshmallows. Yum!

Christina’s Homemade Ice Creams
Cambridge, Mass.

Buzz Flavor: Adzuki Bean
A popular legume in Japan, adzuki bean isn’t widely used over here in the states. But recently, it’s become a trendy ice cream flavor — right next to ginger and green tea. Christina’s ice cream shop has definitely picked up on this and they serve it up to happy Massachusetts costumers but that’s not all.

Of Christina’s nearly 100 flavors, many of them are a bit unusual and not typical menu items you’d often find at your local ice cream shop. You can certainly get your chocolate or vanilla but you can also go crazy with a taste of Wild Turkey & Walnut, Grand Marnier or Fig.

The menu also offers seasonal options, which include Apple Pie, Egg Nog, Kaifer Lime Leaf and Fresh Rose.

Annabelle’s Natural Ice Cream
Portsmouth, N.H.

Buzz Flavor: New Hampshire Pure Maple Walnut
While the majority of items listed on Annabelle’s are pretty standard and would make any ice cream lover scream for a scoop, the shop obviously has a sense of New England pride. This pride is most evident in their recipe for the New Hampshire Pure Maple Walnut ice cream.

Annabelle’s uses local maple syrup and mix it up with walnuts from California. It’s not completely off the wall or what most would call “weird” but maple syrup ice cream isn’t something you come across every day. The ice cream shop also uses Kosher products.

Weird or not, Annabelle’s has been serving up award-winning ice cream for almost thirty years. No matter what you order here, you’re bound to like it.

Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium
Bar Harbor, Maine

Buzz Flavor: Lobster

People in Maine love their lobster. In fact, they’ve even added it to their ice cream flavors. Not long after Ben and Bill Coggins purchased this Bar Harbor sweet shop, the duo started mixing bits of real lobster with creamy vanilla ice cream to prove once and for all that the ice cream was indeed homemade.

If the thought of frozen lobster doesn’t appeal to you, Ben & Bill’s offers plenty of other delicious flavors, including several versions of chocolate. Or go for one of their tasty nut flavors, fruit flavors or even coffee flavors.

The shop also serves up a rich and creamy gelato if that’s your frozen treat of choice.

Shain’s of Maine
Sanford, Maine

Buzz Flavor:
Indian Pudding
Aside from lobster ice cream, Maine sure does seem to have its fair share of unusual ice cream flavors. Famous for their Sea Dog Biscuits, a delicious ice cream sandwich sold by the boat load at baseball fields, Shain’s of Maine also has some unique ice creams on the menu at their store location, including on Indian Pudding recipe.

You may have heard of Indian pudding — a type of hasty pudding made with milk, corn and molasses. It’s a delicious treat but not one you often find frozen. With around sixty flavors, this is probably the one that stands out the most. But they also serve Frozen Pudding so it’s probably a natural progression.

Another stand out flavor is Brownie Sombrero which is made with coffee brandy ice cream and brownies. What a creative yet delicious combination!

Max & Mina’s Homemade Ice Cream
Flushing, N.Y.

Buzz Flavor:
Nova Lox
The New York Times got a kick out of Max & Mina’s Nova Lox flavored ice cream way back in 2000. The Queens ice cream shop has been making unique ice cream for that long. Flavors like beer, merlot and even corn on the cob have been thrilling ice cream fans for years. They have so many flavors that the menu is jam-packed with strange combinations.

Bored with the typical ice cream stand, brothers Bruce and Mark Becker started mixing up frozen treats that were not only delicious but also way beyond the ordinary. It’s definitely reignited the passion for ice cream in the immediate area, let alone the country.

The boys were inspired by their grandfather Max, who loved to make creative frozen treats for their grandmother Mina. That’s where many of their gourmet flavors come from even today.

Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
New York, N.Y.

Buzz Flavor:
Never heard of durian? The unusual fruit that made Bizarre Foods' Andrew Zimmern wretch a little. Let’s just say it’s an acquired taste. If you’re daring enough to give it a try in frozen form, Chinatown Ice Cream Factory can give you a big ol’ scoop of it. And you can follow it up with Wasabi or Zen Butter to get the taste out of your mouth.

Of course, the ice cream factory isn’t all about downright weird flavors. Perhaps Peanut Butter & Jelly would appeal to you — but it’s flavors like Taro, described as “Potato-Like,” that really attract the crowds. This shop is definitely worth the trip to Chinatown if you’d like to find some out-of-the-ordinary desserts.

For those without the daredevil eating bug, you can always order banana, chocolate or vanilla.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream
Columbus, Ohio
Buzz Flavor: Goat Cheese

Jeni Britton Bauer, owner of this Central Ohio ice cream shop, gained inspiration for gourmet ice cream from a French patisserie. The idea is: “Less sweet and more flavorful.” That’s why Jeni’s offers so many unique ice cream flavors — even her Mackenzie Creamery Goat Cheese with Cognac Figs.

The family-owned business not only makes unique and flavorful treats but they go out of their way to use responsibly raised exotics and locally sourced ingredients. So not only will you enjoy your scoop, you’ll feel good about where it came from, too.

If you’re interested in learning more about Jeni’s unique ice cream, check out her blog: Salty Caramel.

Amy’s Ice Cream
Austin, Texas

Buzz Flavor:
Chipotle Peanut Butter
A Texas ice cream power house, Amy’s started in 1984 and slowly evolved as the city of Austin grew. Today, the store keeps over 300 recipes for ice cream on hand. Many of them are incredibly unique while others are for a wider audience. One of the more unusual menu items, Chipotle Peanut Butter definitely caught our eye.

The team at Amy’s is always thinking up new concoctions, too. Several of their flavors are even made with a touch of booze. Local brew Shiner Bock has even been thrown into the mix with a little ice cream. Or you can go for a little Guinness ice cream if you like.

The flavor spectrum at Amy’s stretches far and wide but, if you have any questions, the friendly staff at the stores will always lend you a hand.

Sweet Action Ice Cream
Denver, Colo.

Buzz Flavor: Horchata

Another ice cream shop dedicated to locally sourced ingredients, Sweet Action works with a local dairy farm in Longmont, Colo. and local bakeries. They even have a hometown spice shop at their finger tips. This is probably the reason that you get flavors like Horchata — a drink often made with rice.

From their ice creams to their candies to their sodas, everything is made in-house and that’s why when you order a scoop of Baklava or Chocolate Wasabi will taste amazingly fresh and creamy.

The store produces a new menu of flavors everyday but you need to check their Twitter page for the update.

Rick’s Rather Rich Ice Cream
Palo Alto, Calif.

Buzz Flavor:
Lemon Lavender
Not far from Humphry Slocombe, you’ll find Rick’s in Palo Alto. For many years, this ice cream spot has been serving up a combination of classic flavors and those for a more mature palate, like Rose and, of course, Lemon Lavender. And for years, customers have kept coming back for more.

Just recently what was once a little scoop shop expanded to include seating for all of their ice cream fans. Forty-eight of their ice cream flavors are ready to be scooped. Sorbet, frozen yogurt and delicious, homemade fudge are also on the menu now.

With all the flavors available, it’s no wonder that this ice cream shop has managed to get so many fans. They are certainly a local favorite.

Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream
Seattle, Wash.

Buzz Flavor:
Balsamic Strawberry
A relative newbie, Molly Moon’s has been serving up both the classic and the exotic since 2008. According to Molly Moon’s, “All of Molly Moon’s flavors are a combination of stuff we dream up and think might sound delicious and what’s in season in Washington and the Northwest. So we try them and see what actually tastes good!”

The more unusual flavors, like Rosemary Meyer Lemon and Honey Lavender, are the store’s biggest sellers. The Balsamic Strawberry flavor, another popular selection, was inspired by a salad owner Molly Moon Neitzel’s mother made when she was a child.

All of Molly Moon’s ingredients are found across the Pacific Northwest. The store is dedicated to using locally sourced elements.

Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream
San Francisco, Calif.

Buzz Flavor:
Salt and Pepper
Another new ice cream destination that’s turned ice cream into a gourmet endeavor. Owner Jake Godby specializes in savory flavors at this San Fran spot. Salt and Pepper is just one of the many unusual flavors you’ll see on the menu. If you’re into savory, you might also want to try Foie Gras or Peanut Butter Curry.

You won’t always find every single one of the store’s recipes on the menu. On a daily basis, the menu offers ten to twelve of their signature flavors, rotating them on a day to day basis.

The ice cream shop also has a lot of partners around town. Straus Organic creamery supplies them with dairy while other local spots stock their ice cream.

Click for more:
1. The Ice Cream Store, Rehoboth Beach, Va.
2. Christina’s Homemade Ice Creams, Cambridge, Ma.
3. Annabelle’s Natural Ice Cream, Portsmouth, N.H.
4. Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium, Bar Harbor, Maine
5. Shain’s of Maine, Sanford, Maine
6. Max & Mina’s, Flushing, N.Y.
7. Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, New York, N.Y.
8. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, Columbus, Ohio
9. Amy’s Ice Cream, Austin, Texas
10. Sweet Action Ice Cream, Denver, Colo.
11. Rick’s Rather Rich Ice Cream, Palo Alto, Calif.
12. Molly Moon’s Handmade Ice Cream, Seattle, Wash.
13. Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream, San Francisco, Calif.

Travel & Lifestyle: Ireland

Digital City Blog
November 10, 2009
Clare Goggin

The Irish are noted for many things, beer being one of them. But as Ronan Brennan and Aidan Murphy know all too well, the Irish are also very picky and stubborn beer drinkers. If it’s not a stout or a lager, most pub regulars won’t go near it.

But Brennan and Murphy, first cousins from Galway, are looking to change the national attitude toward craft beer. Three years ago, this brewing duo introduced Galway Hooker, an Irish Pale Ale with influences from American craft beer.

While they started out on a small scale, selling kegs to a few pubs in Galway,
they’ve steadily spread through about 40 bars across the country to Dublin,
Donegal, Limerick and several other places all around Ireland. This alone is a
fantastic success for the small brewery but they’re not done yet.

I had a chance to meet Ronan at the Galway Hooker brewery in Roscommon, an hour and a half from Galway, to discuss the future of this Irish microbrewery. And the future looks bright. In addition to their Galway Hooker Irish Pale Ale, the Galway cousins have added a dunkel weiss brew to their line up. Not yet widely available, this new addition is being tested in four Galway pubs, three of which have already sold out of the stuff.

Anyone familiar with the typical Irish beer list would realize that a dunkel weiss and even a pale ale for that matter are not often found on the Emerald Isle. So why would these beer fans go out of their way to produce brews so alien to the locals?

"It was just to give them something that wasn’t available in Ireland," Ronan told me. The fact is that, while the craft beer scene in other countries, like the U.S., was evolving, Ireland stayed a little too loyal to flavorless lagers and heavier stouts. Looking to fill the void between lager and stout with a bit of flavor, Aidan earned a Master’s Degree in Brewing and Distilling and traveled breweries around the world with Ronan looking for frothy inspiration. When they returned, the Irish Pale Ale was birthed, using four different types of hops.

An online contest determined the name Galway Hooker, a traditional Irish fishing boat, in the summer of 2006 and the team set up shop in their small Roscommon location, a spot which had been recently vacated by another small Irish brewery which had to shut down. In those days, this small business couldn’t afford to set up shop in the more expensive Galway area but in the next year, Galway Hooker plans to move back west and build their brewery from scratch.

And while they’ve come a long way in three years, Ronan and Aidan still have a fight ahead of them. They still have a lot of minds to change around the country, including the traditionalist beer drinkers who might never give up their pint of Guinness. Ronan even admitted to us that it was difficult to even give away free beer samples in bars to those who turn their noses up to anything not pale yellow or chocolate brown.

They’re also still fighting to get their beers poured alongside the Harp, Carlsberg and Budweiser already found in most Irish watering holes. You’ll find Galway Hooker in forty Irish bars right now but there’s so many more to go.

Plans for the new brewery in Galway include a bottling plant which will provide the brewers a bit more freedom to spread the love. And, with any luck, Americans might see Galway Hooker in their own neighborhood bars. Let’s just hope that the dollar gains a little strength before then so we can afford to purchase a pint of this tasty pale ale.

Digital City ( shuttered in February 2010 and has since been replaced with AOL City’s Best.

Clare Goggin Sivits: Portfolio

Clare Goggin Sivits: Portfolio

A Web editor, freelance writer and social media junkie, Clare Goggin Sivits has experience working with a wide variety of content from dining, nightlife and local lifestyle to shopping, travel and women's issues.

Clare has thorough knowledge of several CMS platforms, newsletter editing applications, social media tools and SEO best practices.

After nearly a decade of experience, Clare offers a sharp editor's eye, creative ideas and a strong work ethic.

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