I Have Sampled This Life: Drinking Beer for Mark Twain

XY Eli Band at the Mark Twain House fundraiser
XY Eli Band at the Mark Twain House fundraiser

Literature breeds imagination, but so does a good buzz. Bring them all together and you have a hell of a fundraiser for one of New England’s best destinations for lovers of stories: The Mark Twain House.

Friday night I had a chance to drink some wonderful local beers at the museum adjacent to Twain’s house, which was the most comfortable setting for a beer-related event I’ve ever experienced.

It was the sixth annual “Tapping Into Twain” Oktoberfest, and it typically raises about $10,000 for the Hartford, Conn., house where Mark Twain lived from 1874 to 1891. There were about 300 people who, like me, wanted a taste of literature with a beer chaser. Continue reading “I Have Sampled This Life: Drinking Beer for Mark Twain”

The Great Shandy Experiment

Raw ingredients for the perfect shandy
Raw ingredients for the perfect shandy

(The following column was originally published on July 31, 2013, in the Waterbury (Conn.) Republican-American.)

Muggy weather has a liquid antidote.

For this, we can thank the British. They’re known for creating the logically mixed summer drink called a shandy: beer and usually lemonade (although other carbonated non-alcoholic drinks are known to qualify).

I figured I’d walk you through some commercial examples, then experiment a bit with some of my own combinations. Prepare to be refreshed.

Unlike the snake bite (beer and hard cider) and the dog’s nose (beer and gin), the shandy quenches instead of puckers. It’s usually very effervescent, which often requires the base beer to be either a light, crisp lager or a hefeweizen, which is a wheat-based beer.

The biggest player among American shandies is arguably Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy, a seasonal favorite. This Wisconsin brewery also makes a Lemon Berry Shandy, which has blackberry juice. Other breweries in the shandy game are Carib (which makes a teeny-tiny 1.2 percent alcohol by volume shandy) and Anheuser-Busch’s Shock Top.

A Vermont-based brewer, Traveler Beer Co., has a line that’s exclusively shandies. Traveler has a traditional lemonade shandy, a strawberry shandy, and a ginger/lemonade shandy. The ginger shandy, called the Tenacious Traveler, is my favorite. Blended just right to have the ginger undercut the tartness of the lemony beer, the Tenacious goes best with other food, including salads.


Home concoctions
You don’t have to rely on what brewers consider to be a superior shandy. You can build one at home. And to save you from wasting your time experimenting with lemon flavors and base beers, I’ve wasted mine.

Continue reading “The Great Shandy Experiment”

Shandy mixology

Genius at work.
Genius at work.

In preparation for my column about shandies, I decided to try and blend my own, using three Connecticut beers and a variety of lemon-based additives.

Who will the winner be? Will it be City Steam’s Innocence IPA mixed with pure lemon juice? Or Two Roads’ Worker’s Comp saison and San Pellegrino-Linonata? Or how about Cavalry’s Dog Soldier and Sparkling ICE Lemonade carbonated water?

Stay tuned to find out!

Tart combos!
Tart combos!

What’s Brewing: Cavalry Brewing

Cavalry Brewing card

Mike McCreary, the owner/brewer at Cavalry Brewing in Oxford, Conn.

What are the latest developments you’re excited about at your brewery?

We have recently started distributing through New Jersey and hope to start distributing in Putnam and West Chester Counties in New York this summer.

Have you added any new beers to your lineup?
The X-Limited Edition changes all the time. Recently it was an English ESB with 6% ABV and 32 IBU’s.

What trends are you excited about in the craft beer world in general?
The expanding market share and the overall awareness of the beer drinking population is a great trend.

Is there anything you’d like to promote?
Ask your favorite bartender or local package store for a Connecticut beer. Something brewed and bottled in the state!

Interested in having a profile of your own? Email me at beer.snob@yahoo.com.