Thirsty Thursday: Frozen Cantaloupe Margaritas Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 cups frozen cantaloupe chunks (freeze chunks for at least 1-2 hours)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup sliver tequila
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons Cointreau
  • 1-2 tablespoons agave or honey, to taste
  • salt, for the rims (optional)

Instructions

  1. 1. Slice a thin piece of rind off both ends of cantaloupe so that it can stand upright. Cut in half horizontally and remove seeds. Scoop out flesh and set aside, save cantaloupe halves.

    2. In a blender, combine the cantaloupe, coconut milk, tequila, lime juice, Cointreau and agave, pulse until smooth. If needed, add ice to get a slushy consistency. Divide between cantaloupe bowls (halves) and drink!

America’s Best Brewers Reveal The Hardest Things About Launching A Brewery

It seems like new craft breweries are popping up all over the country every week. Visit any major city in America and you’re likely to find a booming craft beer industry. But, just because you make a delicious farm ale or New England IPA at home, doesn’t always mean that you should quit your IT job and invest in your life savings in a brewery.

Brewing is not for everyone. Just because you’ve seen headlines about breweries being sold for millions of dollars that doesn’t mean that you have what it takes. We asked some of the most well-respected brewers in the country to tell us the challenges you’ll face if you decide to take the leap and start your own craft brewery.

Owning your own business isn’t easy

“The thing that home-brewers often don’t see is the business side of things. You can make unbelievable beer and still fail as a brewery if you don’t have a good business plan. As the craft space becomes more congested this is becoming increasingly important. In that same vein, home-brewers should be aware this isn’t a cheap business to get into. You won’t want to limp in or else it’ll cost you somewhere else.” – New Belgium brewer Cody Reif

Multitasking is really tough

“It’s not easy, and it’s not all about brewing. With new breweries and styles popping up every day, I need to be six to twelve months ahead of the curve, simultaneously developing new recipes, beer names, ideas for events, creating a growth strategy for current and new markets, delivering the best customer service experience through our bartenders and sales staff, and ensuring we make the most consistent and delicious product through our brewing team. All of this while making sure the lights stay on and everyone is having fun.” – Second Self Beer Company co-founder Jason Santamaria

Customers will see through your gimmick

“Don’t do it as a gimmick. Customers will see through the gimmick; they are well versed in good beer and demand a genuine attempt. Second, know where you want to go with this venture. I believe that there’s two distinct segments developing within our industry: below 25,000 barrels per year from the local craft brewer who produces draft-only, and the above 25,000 barrels brewer, who packages and bottles their product. The first has a relatively bright future – sell your beer at your location(s) – beer pub or taproom – and some kegs into the local wholesale market. At this size, you can make a living, brew what you want and can operate under your terms. – Elysian Brewing’s co-founder & CEO Joe Bisacca

Get ready to give up everything else in your life

“You should understand the challenges that come with day to day brewery operations, and recognize how much the market is changing. Gone are the days of bootstrapping equipment together, finding a garage space to brew in, slapping a puny name on your IPA and having immediate success. Your brewery needs to come out of the gate with a polished image, a solid location, and great beer on day one. The hours are going to suck and you should already know that very few craft brewers ever make six figures. You’re going to need to love cleaning, paperwork, long days, hot working conditions, tackling challenges, cleaning, schmoozing, drinking beer late, waking up early, tasting beer early, brewing the same beer over and over again, and cleaning to be successful.” – Upslope Brewing’s Head Brewer Sam Scruby

What can go wrong will go wrong

“If you don’t connect with the world in a tangible way but rather in a theoretical way, brewing is not for you. Brewing really embodies the Robert Burns expression ‘the best laid plans of mice and men’ because things go wrong. Glycol chillers fail, ingredient containers are mislabeled, ferments can have minds of their own. But as a brewer you need to harness these events and learn from them. Maybe even incorporate them into your process. Racer 5, our flagship beer came about because of a screw up on a brew day and our reactions to that series of events. Also, at some point owning or managing a brewery becomes about more than the beer. Things like wastewater, personnel and utility pricing become important. If you view these as a hassle or as non-essential than look for another career path.” – Bear Republic Master Brewer Peter Kruger

It costs a ton of money to open a brewery

“Besides the basics of not having enough money or enough (or maybe even any) experience, there is so much more one needs to know to put together a good brewing operation. You need to know everything that you can possibly know about how to brew beer – this includes everything from raw materials to trouble shooting QC issues in the field. You have to consider shipping and distributor logistics. Does your brewery have a brewpub and the challenges that come with running a restaurant and a brewery? There are so many moving variables on top of the challenges of just running a business. Sometimes, these daunting tasks that it takes to open a brewery are too intimidating for some good brewers to make it happen. On the flip side, others don’t grasp these important essentials to make it happen in a good way.” – Schlafly Beer Founding Brewer Stephen Hale

Don’t like working 9-5? How about working all day every day?

“If you like long hours, endless cleaning, and complete focus on quality, then this is for you. There really is nothing better than having one of your own beers after a long day of work. Breweries are also fantastic conduits to their community, and it is very rewarding to see locals embrace your craft.

If any of the above isn’t your style, then you’re not going to like it (especially the cleaning).” – Coney Island Brewing Company Head Brewer Eric Hernandez

Your beer isn’t as good as you think it is

“I think the worst reason to start a brewery is because your friends tell you, ‘you make great beer.’ Your friends are fantastic people, that’s why they are your friends, but they aren’t always honest. If you get that feedback from them that’s a great start, but get your beer out there – whether it be homebrew competitions or forging relationships with quality breweries and getting their input. There is so much that goes on inside a brewery that isn’t related to making beer. If you are making great beer and love it more than anything, then I think getting into the industry is a fantastic idea. It will give you a huge understanding of what this business is all about and what it might take to start one.” – Devils Backbone brewer Josh French

Thirsty Thursday: Mango Habanero Margarita Recipe

Ingredients

Habanero Infused Simple Syrup (makes 3/4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 habanero halved
Chili Powder/Salt Rim
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Margarita
  • 1 cup frozen mango cubes thawed (or fresh if you have it!)
  • 3 oz habanero simple syrup
  • 4 1/2 oz tequila
  • 1 1/2 oz triple sec
  • 3 oz freshly squeezed lime juice

Instructions

Habanero Infused Simple Syrup
  1. Cook on low until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let the habanero steep for 15 minutes. Strain the mixture using a fine sieve into a lidded jar. Store in the fridge until ready for use.
Chili Powder/Salt Rim
  1. Mix together chili powder and salt together on a small plate, set aside.
  2. Wet the rim of your glasses (with water or use lime juice by rubbing a lime wedge along the rim) and then dip the rim in the chili powder/salt mixture.
  3. Fill the glasses with ice.
Margarita
  1. Place thawed mango and habanero simple syrup in a Vitamix or high powdered blender.
  2. Blend until smooth and set aside.
  3. Fill a shaker with a few ice cubes (don’t use too many, as the margarita ingredients fill the shaker most of the way).
  4. Pour in mango/simple syrup mixture, tequila, triple sec, and lime juice.
  5. Shake until chilled.
  6. Pour evenly into two glasses and drink immediately!

The Latest Craft Beer Comes From Bees’ Yeast

The newest beer craze is coming out of a research lab at North Carolina State University, where environmental microbiologist Anne Madden works with yeast from bees.

Most alcoholic beverages, including beer, are made with yeast. However, there are upwards of 1,500 species of yeast and for most of history, we have only relied on two types of alcohol yielding yeast. Only recently have brew masters and scientists begun to explore yeasts other than ale and lager.

The age-old relationship between yeast and bees was the inspiration for Maddens work. Knowing that yeast live in flower nectar, gorge themselves on sugar to produce alcohol and attract bees, she began to examine the microbes on individual bees.

Madden started by collecting one wasp, known for its ability to carry yeast, and continued her experiment in the lab where she moved the wasp’s microbes into a petri dish for observation. She discovered that the microbes grew abundantly on the dish. To ensure the production of top-notch quality yeast, she separated the best yeast from the first dish, onto other Petri dishes. Next, a DNA sample of the cultured yeast takes place. This step ensures that no pathogens are associated with the yeast, and therefore makes it suitable for becoming beer. In the final stage of the testing process, a color chemical test is performed to display that the yeast is able to process a specific sugar found in malted barley. If all tests are positive, then brewing is a go.

Using bee yeast has many advantages, scientists have discovered, as their adaptability to different brewing conditions can create multiple flavor profiles from the same yeast. Researchers are excited to see what new yeast discovery will be next, whether it’s for the beer or not.

One thing is for sure, the “Bumblebeer” brew is sure to please craft beer connoisseurs everywhere.

Thirsty Thursday: Skinny Coconut Mojito Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup fresh mint
  • 1 lime cut into wedges
  • 2 tablespoons simple syrup
  • 1/4 cup rum
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • sparkling water

Instructions

  1. In the bottom of a shaker, muddle the fresh mint and the lime wedges. Add the simple syrup, rum and coconut juice. Fill the shaker with ice and shake for about 15-20 seconds.
  2. Strain into two glasses and top with sparkling water.

Thirsty Thursday: Watermelon Margaritas with Watermelon Rind Garnish Recipe

Ingredients

Simple Syrup
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
Watermelon Juice
  • 4 cups cubed watermelon
Watermelon Margarita
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 1 oz watermelon juice
  • 1 oz silver tequila
  • 1 oz triple sec
  • Black sea salt

Instructions

Simple Syrup
  1. Combine sugar and water together in a medium sauce pan and heat over low heat until sugar crystals have dissolved.
  2. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Watermelon Juice
  1. Puree watermelon in a blender until smooth.
  2. If desired, strain pulp from juice using a fine mesh sieve or a metal coffee filter.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Watermelon Margarita
  1. Wet the top of a glass with a wedge of lime and dip in sea salt.
  2. Combine simple syrup, tequila, lime juice, triple sec and watermelon juice in a cocktail shaker with ice.
  3. Shake vigorously and pour into prepared glass.
  4. Garnish with watermelon rind or lime wedges.

The Best Gins To Drink On World Gin Day

This week is Negroni week, a celebration of the iconic Italian cocktail. But, what’s a Negroni without gin? It’s just a strange concoction of vermouth and Campari, that’s what. I don’t know about you, but that really doesn’t sound as refreshing. Gin is where the magic is at!

If Negronis aren’t your thing, you can sip gin and tonics all summer long (or various other gin-based cocktails) without ever needing a change of pace. Or, if you’re really feeling frisky, enjoy some gin on its own. Since June 10th is World Gin Day, the time is right to stop by your local liquor store and buy a bottle of gin you might not have tried before. But, in a market full of various gins, how do you pick the brand that suits your tastes?

Scotland is more known for its whisky, but with products like Caorunn, that’s slowly changing. This unique, small-batch gin is infused with five botanicals foraged from the Speyside region of England’s neighbor to the north.

Victoria Pink Gin

This gin is given its color and flavor through a combination of bitters, but that doesn’t keep the juniper flavor from coming through. It adds a nice layer of complexity to mixer-neutral drinks like G & Ts and opens the door for a whole range of custom cocktails.

Spirit Works

This northern California distillery is cranking out some seriously great spirits. One of its best is its gin. It all starts with organic California Red Winter wheat that is milled, mashed, fermented and distilled into its gin base before adding juniper and myriad California botanicals.

Hendrick’s

Another Scottish gin, Hendrick’s has only been produced since 1999, but is already one of the most respected gins in the world. On top of the usual juniper and other botanicals, Hendrick’s also adds cucumber and Bulgarian rose to give it a unique taste, perfect for your favorite cocktails.

Plymouth

Since 1793, Plymouth has been making this London Dry Gin using the same seven botanicals (juniper, coriander, orange peel, lemon peel, cardamom, angelica, and orris). This smooth, herbal gin is just about as perfect as a gin gets.

Tanqueray No. 10

Tanqueray is one of the biggest names in the gin world. Its No. 10 was made for bartenders to mix with. Its name comes from the number ten still it’s produced in. This gin is different from regular Tanqueray because, on top of the usual botanicals, it has a distinct citrus presence that makes for exceptional gin and tonics.

The Botanist

Yet another Scottish gin, Botanist is a truly one-of-a-kind spirit. Made by famous peaty Scotch brand Bruichladdich, Botanist is made using traditional flavors like juniper as well as botanicals and herbs only found on Islay, the island the distillery calls home.

Monkey 47

If England is the country most known for gin and Scotland and the US are up-and-coming, it might surprise you that Monkey 47 comes from the Black Forest of Germany. The name comes from the 47 ingredients and the 47% percent alcohol. It might sound like a gimmick, but this gin won a gold medal at the 2011 International Wine and Spirits Competition in London.

Fords

If you buy a spirit from the 86 Co., you can be pretty much guaranteed it’ll be great. Fords Gin is a collaboration between Simon Ford and Master Distiller Charles Maxwell. It’s produced in London at Thames Distillers and is made up of 9 botanicals, including: juniper, coriander, bitter orange, and jasmine.

Sipsmith

Opened in 2009, Sipsmith was the first copper-pot still distillery to begin production in London is almost two-hundred years. Its London Dry Gin is made to taste like a classic London Dry. The base is Macedonian juniper berries, but also has ground almond, cassia, orris, and coriander.

St. George Dry Rye

This 100% rye gin was designed to be enjoyed by whiskey fans and gin fans alike. It’s spicier than most gins because the base, instead of being a neutral grain spirit, is in-aged rye. The addition of six botanicals (including juniper) adds the flavor gin fans expect from this unique gin.

Thirsty Thursday: Blueberry Crush Recipe

A refreshing cocktail for your next party, featuring fresh mint, tart lemon and sweet blueberries.

Ingredients

  • Handful of blueberries
  • A few fresh mint leaves
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • Ice
  • Soda water

Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, smash together blueberries and mint with the simple syrup.
  2. Add lemon juice and vodka and shake together with ice.
  3. Strain into a glass; add a handful of ice and top with soda water to serve.

Thirsty Thursday: Pineapple Mint Moscow Mules

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 ounces Ginger Beer
  • 1 tablespoon Lime Juice
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons Fresh Pineapple Juice
  • 1 1/2 ounces Vodka
  • Crushed Ice
  • Sprig of Fresh Mint
  • Wedge of Fresh Pineapple

INSTRUCTIONS:

FOR THE FRESH PINEAPPLE JUICE

  1. Cut off the top and the bottom of the pineapple. Then, cut the skin off the sides. Slice the fruit away from the center core and cut the fruit into cubes. Place the fresh fruit in the blender and blend on the “whole juice” setting, if available. If not, blend on high until completely smooth, adding a small amount of water if needed.
  2. Then, fit a mesh metal strainer over a large 8 cup sized glass measuring cup. Line it with a paper towel. Pour the pureed pineapple over the lined strainer and allow it to strain through until all the juice has made its way into the measuring cup and all that remains in the paper towel is the leftover pulp.
  3. Alternatively, you can juice the pineapple in a juicer according to manufacturer instructions.

FOR THE FRESH PINEAPPLE MINT MOSCOW MULE

  1. Fill a copper mug 2/3 of the way full with crushed ice.
  2. In the mug, combine 1 tablespoon of lime juice, 2 – 3 tablespoons of fresh pineapple juice, 4 ounces of Ginger Beer, and 1 1/2 ounce of vodka (omit for a mocktail. Stir to combine.
  3. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint leaves and a wedge of fresh pineapple.