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    Beverage Brian on 'What's in My Beer'!

    Like a lot of folks, we drink beer here at But how much do we really know about beer? Well not much, so we learned after speaking with Beverage Brian.

    Here’s Brian’s 101 on 'What's in My Beer':
    Beer is an alcoholic beverage made from water, malted grains (typically barley), hops and yeast. Its alcoholic content comes from the process of fermentation, which converts the simple sugars (carbohydrates) in the grains, into alcohol. The four main ingredients in beer are:

    1) WATER
    More than 90% of beer is Water. A good water supply is essential. Some breweries have their own wells. A brewer used 5-7 liters of water to produce 1 liter of beer. Some of the water is used for heating and cooling and also for cleaning.

    2) GRAINS
    Barley is the most commonly used. Barley has an advantage in that it can be preserved for a long time after harvest.

    Barley must be malted first. It is the malted barley, which gives beer its particular colors and taste. The malting process starts to release the sugars essential for the fermentation. Un-malted Barley, gives a rich, smooth, grainy flavor to beer. It contributes foam retention (head) to the finish beer. Clarity problems make un-malted barley inappropriate for light beers. It is essential for dry Stout.

    Corn products have traditionally been the adjunct (flavoring additives) of choice among brewers. They are consistent in quality, composition and availability. Corn has a sweet, smooth flavor that is compatible with most beer styles. It is popular in American breweries and also lowers the protein and polyphenols content of beers, thereby lightening body and reducing beer ‘haze’.
    Oats are high in fat, protein and oil, not good components for beer production. However, oats are sometimes used and they work well for Oatmeal Stout.
    Rice is the second most widely used adjunct material in the U.S. in the production of light colored lager beer. It promotes dry, crisp and snappy flavors.
    Wheat malt is used not only for wheat beers but also 3-5% is used in a malt- based beer. Its protein gives a fuller mouth feel and enhanced beer head stability. The downside; it contains 13-18% more protein than barley malt and consists primarily of gluten that can result in beer haze.

    3) HOPS
    Hops or “Green Gold” comes from a climbing plant with male and female flowers; only the female flowers are used.

    There are more than 45 varieties varying from bitter to aromatic. The hops are the flowering cones of a perennial vining plant HUMULUS LUPULUS (HOPS) and a cousin of the cannabis variety (sorry no THC in this stuff) that thrives in climates similar to the ones that grapes do. The female cones only are used. Hops have been used for ages as seasonings, preventing spoilage from bacteria and clarifying (act as a natural filter) the beer. Hops help with head retention and please the palate. Hops put the Bitter in beer.

    4) YEASTS
    Yeast is a microscopic member of the fungus family and is a living organism. Yeast converts the sugars obtained from the malt into alcohol- a process called-FERMENTATION. The Latin name for brewing yeast is Saccharomyces cervisiae. Different yeast strains give different flavors to the beer; therefore the brewer takes special care in selecting the yeast strain.

    -Brian has decades of experience in running bars. He’s a former bartender at the Ritz Carlton, and currently runs the beverage program for a country club in North Carolina. 

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    Posted by on November 21, 2013

    My First Fiery Encounter with Cachaça

    I still remember my first encounter with cachaça (a Brazilian sugarcane based liquor) and it’s most famous mixed drink, a caipirinha, like some people remember graduation or their first kiss. I never drank much in college, and didn’t start until much later in life. So the story of how I met cachaça happened several years ago. I was writing for back in 2007, and we did a feature on a Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chão. I showed up, and was definitely expecting a great meal, but little was I expecting my cachaça “wake up call”.

    So I had a great meal courtesy Fogo, and they offered me something that I’d heard about but never tried: a caipirinha. So doing my duty as a food reporter, I tried it. It was like nothing I’d ever tried. The drink was friggin’ awesome. It was like the best adult version of a lemonade that I’d ever tried. Note: a caipirinha is made of variations on cachaça, muddled limes, and sugar.

    (0 votes)
    Posted by on September 25, 2013

    About Your Rum...

    Rum is a spirit obtained by distilling the fermented sugarcane juice or molasses, a by- product of sugar making. Rum is often aged in ex-bourbon or cognac cask and colored with caramel. Rum is one of the oldest distillates made, dating back thousands of years of years. However, rum as we know it today was born in the West Indies, exactly on which island being open to conjecture. In 1493, Christopher Columbus played a role in rum’s history by bringing sugarcane plantings on his second voyage to this region. Rum is produced throughout the Caribbean as well as in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Hawaii, Indonesia, Madagascar, Peru, the Philippines, and the continental United States.

    Manufacturing Process

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    Posted by on August 01, 2013

    About Your Tequila

    Tequila is made in and around the small town of tequila, in Mexico’s Jalisco province. In order to be classified as tequila, it must be produced from blue agave plants grown in a precisely delineated area in the five Mexican states of Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacan, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas. Tequila must comprise at least 51% blue agave by law to be called tequila. There are two classifications for tequila 100% Blue Agave Tequila and Mixto Tequila (must have at least 51% blue agave but the rest can come from other sources). Mixto is usually shipped in bulk and bottled in other countries.

    Mezcal What is mezcal? Mezcal is from agave grown principally in the region of Oaxaca they can use juices from different varieties of agave and have no specific government laws of production. All tequilas are mezcal, but not all mezcal are tequila.

    (0 votes)
    Posted by on June 26, 2013

    What is "Grenache"? By BeverageBrian

    Grenache / Garnacha
    (greh-NAHSH / gar-NAHCHA)
    The Grape:
                Grenache is the second most planted wine-producing vine in the world. It is used as a blending grape in many different wines. The vine itself is very resistant to hot arid conditions and produces a large crop of fruit. Grenache is a fleshy, wine that is usually top heavy with fruit, low in tannins and pigments (color). Due to the low tannin and sparse coloring it makes blush (rosé) wine nearly everywhere it is grown. The grape is a main component of the Vins du Naturels (fortified with brandy - similar to a Port wine) and simple, fruity reds of the Languedoc-Roussillon.
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    Posted by on June 03, 2013

    How To Recipe: Agua de Tamarindo (Tamarind Drink) PHOTOS

    Tamarind drink i.e. "Agua de Tamarindo" is delicious!  Tamarind itself looks like a long fruit pod. It grows on trees, and it is a bit of sour. Many Hispanics/Latinos like to make tamarind candies or also make a simple drink called "Agua de Tamarindo" (Tamarind Drink).  You'll typically spot Tamarind Drink at latin food restaurants and it's a very common "go-to" drink in Latin America.  Some other cultures use tamarind in slightly different ways such as the Thai, who often use it in dishes in combination with a sweetener to make a "sweet and sour flavor". The Filipino culture often makes soups which are tamarind based. I believe the soups are called "Sinigang".

    I learned how to make Agua de Tamarindo thanks to my mother who always makes beverages at home.

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    Posted by on May 23, 2013

    Umbrella Drink: El Cayman Mama

    1 ½ oz. Tortuga Gold Rum

    1 oz. Coconut Rum

    2 ½ oz. Orange Juice

    2 ½ oz. Pineapple Juice

    Splash of Strawberry Syrup

    Garnish with Cherry, Lime & Orange Slices.

    Mix the orange and pineapple juices together, pour both rums in a shaker with crushed ice. Give ingredients a shake for about 30 seconds. Garnish with a splash of Strawberry Syrup. Add garnish/garnishes.

    Note: beach chairs are optional.

    Adapted from a recipe from the Cayman Islands Restaurant Association. staff.

    (0 votes)
    Posted by on April 25, 2013

    Latinos and Café…You Like?

    How do you drink your coffee? I drink mine every which way… And I’m saying it really depends how I’m efeeling. With cream, con leche, black, with condensed milk. Yep, it’s all good. And I don’t mind where my coffee comes from: Africa, Colombia, Folgers…(lol) I drink it all.

    Looks like I’m not alone either. I can definitively say, Hispanics drink café…si! I’ve got the stats to prove it. (It’s all about the numbers…at least that’s what they told me in accounting…but I digress!)

    The National Coffee Association has just released a National Coffee Drinking Trends 2013 market study. Check it. The question was: “Did you drink coffee yesterday?” Responding “yes” were the following:

    (0 votes)
    Posted by on March 25, 2013
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