Monthly Archives: July 2015

July Beer & Wine Box Club

Getting outside is a mutual goal for all of us during the summer months. The good weather begs us to be in it and it is during these months that we are forced to appreciate our surroundings. We feel closer to nature as we walk and run in it, breath it in, and soak it up. This month’s boxes are a tribute to nature and to the remarkable benefits we reap from it. Nature gives us the raw materials we need in order to make the bottles in this box, but it also provides us with living tools like bacteria and yeast that in turn can be skillfully manipulated into unique and natural wines and beers.

Yeast is one of the four ingredients necessary to make beer, but not all yeast is the same. Wild yeast strains are unpredictable, mysterious, and hard to control. Skilled brewers have learned to tame, or perhaps, assist these wild yeast strains into a somewhat controlled brewing process. The unpredictability of wild yeast is what makes these beers so unique and sometimes not for everyone. But for the adventurous drinker, a well brewed beer with wild yeast can be an exciting adventure for the taste buds, as well as a fascinating representation of the nature that helped create that beer.

The Libations

Picobrouwerij Alvinne Cuvee Freddy – Special Dedication to SofieIn our opinion, Belgian breweries take the cake when it comes to sour beers. The daunting process of creating sour beers requires the use of microorganisms that other brewers avoid completely – wild yeasts like Brettanomyces and lactic acid bacteria. These microorganisms make for a very un-traditional brewing yeast with a high risk for producing unappealing flavors, which is why a correctly brewed  Belgian sour can truly be a magical marriage of natural ingredients and human ingenuity. All of these unpredictable and living ingredients have taken a part in the creation of this Belgian sour, Cuvee Freddy – Special Edition Dedicated to Sofie. This Flanders red ale from Picobrouwerij Alvinne is a strange, yet pleasing mix of flavors. Tart, sour notes of cherries and grapes meet your tongue first, followed by funky layers of oak and chocolate. ABV {8%}

Mikkeller It’s Alive: Gypsy Danish brewer Mikkeller is known for their risk taking and out of the norm style of brewing. Which is why a Belgian style beer brewed with wild yeasts is no surprise coming from Mikkeller. But that doesn’t stop us from being excited about this colorful bottle of It’s Alive! Brewed as a tribute to the popular trappist beer Orval, Mikkeller’s wild ale is a strong pale ale with a considerable amount of hops. The use of Brettanomyces as a wild yeast is not as obvious until the end of a sip, whereas flavors of caramel malts and funky esters are more predominant. Not as sour as one would expect a wild ale to be, It’s Alive proves its name by tingling the tongue with consistent carbonation and tantalizing flavors of ripe fruit, pepper, and lemongrass. ABV {8%}

The Wild Beer Co Iduna Cru: This last bottle is definitely a beer, although you might want to take the brewery’s suggestion and serve Iduna Cru in a champagne glass in order to accommodate the tremendous amount of bubbles you are about to let loose. The Wild Beer Co. is an English brewery that believes brewing should not be restricted to rules or styles, instead driven by passion and creativity. Iduna Cru is definitely a result of their creativity – a Belgian style saison that has been brewed with a hefty amount of New Zealand hops, Somerset apple juice, and wild yeasts. Named after a Greek goddess of beer, Iduna Cru goes through a secondary fermentation with the addition of champagne yeast. This additional process creates a light bodied beer with infectious carbonation, funky notes of wheat, apple, and spicy fruit with a long dry finish. ABV {9%}

The process of natural winemaking is literally just that: a natural occurring fermentation from the indigenous yeast found on the grapes, as opposed to a controlled introduced yeast. These wines are made without intervention and with minimal additives. Natural wine also means that the vines have been cultivated organically or biodynamically, which as a process can result in lower yields for wineries, but with the reward of extremely high quality. The wines in this box meet all of these standards, yet they are more than just a process, they are a true expression of the nature they were created from.

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Domaine Laurent Barth Muscat 2013: When it comes to natural winemaking, Laurent Barth is not only an advocate, but an extremely skilled practitioner of the process. An avid traveling winemaker, Laurent finally took over his father’s estate in a very old village in Alsace, France. His approach to vinification is as natural as possible, because although the process may result in imperfections, he believes that they are part of the wine’s identity and that it is the only way to respect the grapes and the land from which they come. The grape in this wine is Muscat, specifically a blend of Muscat a Petits Grains and Muscat Ottornel. Notes of honeysuckle will greet your nose upon opening this bottle. This wine flows heavy and viscous on the first sip with juicy white grape flavors, as well as notes of tangy stonefruit. The soft full quality of the Muscat is finished by a tart tingle of racy acidity.

Domaine Montbarbon Viré-Clessé Les 3 Terriors 2013: The Viré-Clessé Les 3 Terriors from Domaine Montbarbon is an excellent example of natural wine from an area that is world renowned for its high quality of expressive Chardonnays. The indication of “three terriors” on this bottle refers to the three appellations that provided the grapes which were blended to create this cuvée. The efforts of Jacky and Martine Montbarbon are evident in the creamy fullness and depth of this wine, which can be attributed to their use of bâtonage. The bâtonage process is a labor intensive one that involves stirring the lees (residual yeast) at the bottom of the tanks, once a week for over a year. This tedious, yet traditional method gives the wine its intense complexity – with layers of yeasty, woody aromas and round acidity complemented by flavors of white flower and yellow fruits.

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La Stoppa Trebbiolo Rosso: For the final wine in this box we wanted to find a naturally made red wine that had as much vibrancy and life as the whites beside it. Thankfully the dedication and passion of Elena Pantaleoni and Giulio Armani have created La Stoppa, a winery in NW Emilia-Romagna that focuses on organic farming and traditional methods. From La Stoppa we have found Trebbiolo Rosso, a blend of Barbera and Bonarda, two excellent Italian varieties. Fermentation takes places in only stainless steel after a 20 day period of maceration with indigenous yeasts that give this wine its wild and earthy aromas. Notes of blackberries, sweet leather, and meaty spice are on the forefront of this youthful bottle. The dry palate and refreshing acidity is begging to be paired with dried cured hams and salty cheeses.

The Snacks

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Bee Local Oregon Buckwheat: For this box we needed to find a product that could match the level of purity and natural goodness of the wines we picked. We believe we found that product with this Buckwheat honey from Bee Local. Bee Local was founded in Portland, Oregon in 2011, by Damian Magista, who wanted to contribute to our country’s honey production by sourcing the most sustainable and healthy honey possible. A pure creation of nature, this Oregon honey is comparable to Manuka honey because of its incredible medicinal qualities from its high levels of vitamins and minerals. Dark and smoky in appearance and taste, this raw Buckwheat honey is a perfect pairing for mild cheeses or as a base for a savory sauce.

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Nathan Miller Salt & Wafer: Natural, sustainably sourced ingredients play a huge part in the creation of the Nathan Miller chocolate bar in this box. Nathan Miller, a well known pastry and dessert chef, started his chocolate company in 2010, using only Fair Trade, organic, great quality cocoa beans from small farms. His extensive culinary experience has allowed him to create chocolate bars that test the imagination and please the taste buds.The Salt & Wafer bar is 45% buttermilk chocolate made with a crispy wafer and Himalayan pink salt, which give the bar a tangy and salty flavor. The cocoa beans for this bar are from Oko Caribe, as small co-op in the Dominican Republic and the paper the bar is wrapped in was handmade in Nepal. 

Meadowood Farms Strawbridge: From a farm older than a 100 years, comes this natural bloomy rind sheep’s milk cheese called Strawbridge. Meadowood Farms in Madison County, NY is incredibly focused on sustainability. When it comes to their herd of Galloway cattle and flock of East Friesian sheep, the Chard Family maintains a high level of care and commitment, via controlled mowing and a strict non use of pesticides on their 225 acres of land. The sheep whose milk you will be enjoying in cheese form, lazily graze on lush fields of of orchard grass, rye, and clover. The vibrancy of the land at Meadowood Farms comes through in the fresh and herbal flavors of Strawbridge. The natural formed bloomy rind gives this cheese its amazing buttery, gooey texture – perfect for spreading on crispy baguettes.

Call the store at (617) 269-6100, email us at info@americanprovisions.com, or ask a staffer for more information on signing yourself or someone you love up for the Beer or Wine of the Month Club!