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Craft Beer Goes Well with Artisan Foods

Last week in the blog, I briefly touched on the fact that Chelsea Market Baskets is now carrying a carefully curated selection of beers and hard ciders. We received our New York State Liquor Authority license and brought in a special buyer, Dale West Englebert, to consult on the new addition to the store.

Craft beers have been steadily increasing in popularity in the New York City hospitality landscape – restaurants are offering more sophisticated beers to complement dishes, and beer at a dinner out is as acceptable as ordering a  glass of wine. Breweries have long been part of the New York City tradition, but like everything have waxed and waned in number due to influence from arriving cultures, availability of resources and public opinion (or law!). From 1850-1900, New York was the largest producer of hops, and to use all of the upstate growth, brewers of all nationalities, but especially German, tapped into the fresh water that was being funneled into city. When Prohibition shut the doors of the bigger breweries, the general interest in beer waned because it was easier to distill hard liquor than homebrew. Post-Prohibition beer consumption was marked by big brand distribution- names like Rheingold, Anheuser-Busch, Pabst, Miller, and Coors absolutely dominated the market.

Now, I did a good bit of reading for this post, and couldn’t find a pivotal moment when all of a sudden craft beers took off, but several current brewers, including Sal Pennacchio of Yankee Brewing Company, cited Michael Jackson’s book The World Guide To Beer to opening their eyes to the depth that beer can have!

Whatever the catalyst, New York, both city and state, is now home to a flourishing industry of beer makers, and CMB proudly carries the most unique, interesting, and quaffable varieties.

Here is our current offerings with some tasting notes – like everything in our store, our assortment will change with the season:

  • Allagash Fluxus ($13.95, 25.4oz) Brewed with a mix of barley, spelt, and spiced with green and pink peppercorns. The aroma is both fruity–with hints of mango, and spicy–with notes of clove and pepper.
  • Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout ($2.95, 12oz) Limited bottling, brewed once a year for the winter season. A chocolate aroma with flavors of chocolate and roasted malts.Brooklyn Brewery Bam Boozle Ale ($12.00, 25.4oz)
  • Brooklyn Brewery Sorachi Ace ($12.00, 25.4oz) With an aroma of yeast, lemongrass, honey, clove, and undercooked biscuits. This is a solid BPA, with a unique crisp dry finish and a unique flavor thanks to the champagne yeast.
  • Woodchuck Winter ($2.25, 12oz) The power of this winter cider is a balance of premium French and traditional American oak, giving it great complexity.
  • JK’s Solstice ($10.00, 22oz) Lightly spiced hard cider with ethically traded cinnamon, vanilla, and a drop of syrup from Maple trees. Enjoy this cider cool or gently warmed.
  • Ommengang Hennepin ($10.00, 25.4oz) Ale with spices, grains of paradise, ginger, coriander, and sweet orange peel. Full-bodied, hoppy, and crisp. Made to quench your thirst for the unknown.
  • Ommengang Three Philosophers ($12.00, 25.4oz) Flavors of roasted malt, molasses, dark fruit, brandied raisins, and chocolate. Three Philosophers was made for contemplation, its deep nature also makes it perfect for dessert!
  • Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale ($4.50, 18.7oz) Brewed with well water and the best barley malt, yeast, and aromatic hops. Relatively dry ale with a palate of beechnuts, almonds, and walnuts. This is a vegan ale.
  • Samuel Smith Winter Welcome Ale ($5.50, 18.7oz) With spices, grains of paradise, ginger, coriander, and sweet orange peel. This is a full-bodied, hoppy, and crisp ale, made to quench your thirst for the unknown.
  • St. Peter’s Winter Ale ($6.00, 16.9oz) An organic ruby-red strong ale with an excellent balance of sweet malt and bitter hop. Winter Ale won a Silver award at the 2009 Siba East Anglian Beer competition.
  • Framboise Lambic ($14.00, 25.4oz) Featuring a magnificent aroma, delicate palate of raspberries with undertones of fruity acidity; elegant, sparkling clean natural taste.
  • Chimay Premiere ($14.00, 25.4oz) The first beer brewed at the Abbey by the Trappist fathers. Its coppery color and apricot nuanced aroma make it a truly spectacular drink.
  • Duvel ($14.00, 11.2oz) Slightly fruity, dry aroma, well-hopped beer with a slightly bitter aftertaste. Re-fermented in the bottle. This is a beer brewed with the utmost patience and passion. Drink it with love!
  • Gouden Carolous Noel ($12.50, 25.4oz) The seriously heavy, strong brown ale was brewed for Holiday Festivities.  Taste dark fruit, anise, and roasted malt with a sweet dry finish.
  • Weihenstephen Gift Pack ($24.00, 16.9oz each, 5 bottles) Hazy golden hay colored, or perhaps even banana colored when held to the light. The flavors are wheaty, bananas, clove and spice, and a yeasty goodness that wraps up into the aromas nicely. With a very slight hint of earth in the finish. Well carbonated and light bodied. Makes for a good summer beer.

With so many beers on tap*, it can be a challenge to choose a favorite, but here is a recommendation from Dale:

“One of our seasonal beer offerings is Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale. The brewery in Tadcaster, UK, was established in 1758 and is Yorkshire’s oldest brewery. This seasonal beer is a limited edition brewed for the short days and long nights of winter. Winter Welcome Ale also has a collectable label. The picture in the middle of the label changes every year. Samuel Smith’s was the first brewery to register with The Vegan Society in January 1998, and this beer is entirely free of animal involvement, whether for the purposes of ingredients or animal testing.”


Interesting beer that tastes great? Sounds like our hallmark for all specialty foods and products at CMB!


nyc-beer-weekAnd, we’ll keep looking for the best lines to keep our collection current: for professional development and new product scouting, there will be no better education than attending New York’s Craft Beer Week (from Feb 22nd-March 2nd). See you then, but hope to see you sooner at the store!

*Technically, none of our beer is on tap, but it is all bottled for purchase and will need to be chilled for most enjoyable consumption.

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