Wine Enthusiast

How Brewers Are Using Coolships to Create Wild Fermentations

Photo by Marcus Nilsson

Photo by Marcus Nilsson

Most beers are made with commercial yeast strains, as dependable as spring rain. Increasingly, though, brewers are going wild and creating spontaneously fermented beer teeming with native microbes. Here, I decode the trend for Wine Enthusiast magazine.

Boozy Kombucha: Probiotics Paired With a Buzz

Photo credit: Boochcraft

Photo credit: Boochcraft

Kombucha has always boasted a wee bit of booze, the byproduct of fermentation. Now, breweries and start-ups across the country are turning up the alcohol, creating products as alcohol-loaded as a beer. I take a dive into health-conscious drinking for Wine Enthusiast.

Eight Tips for Becoming a Better Beer Drinker

Photo: Explore What’s on Tap / Getty

Photo: Explore What’s on Tap / Getty

Anybody can drink beer. Drinking beer smartly, however, is a tougher task. Having spent the better part of two decades imbibing as both an amateur and professional (writer, that is), from double-fisting Busch Light to sipping sparkling raspberry lambics from stemware, there are vital lessons necessary to become a better beer drinker. Whether you’re sipping your first IPA or someone who name checks favorite yeast strains, I provide Wine Enthusiast with eight tips to up your beer IQ.

Kiss From a Rosé

Photo: Meg Baggott

Photo: Meg Baggott

Fruity and floral rosé is firmly lodged in popular culture, a synonym for sun-soaked hedonism, spawning memes like #yeswayrose, canned up for portable consumption anytime and everywhere. Breweries have taken note of the trend and released their own riffs on sparkling rosé. They appeal to beer lovers looking to sip something new, as well as wine fans wading into familiar waters.

Here, I tackle the trend that's leaving brewers tickled pink. 

Why Breweries Are Using Winemaking Techniques

Photo by Con Poulos

Photo by Con Poulos

Brewers aren’t bashful about playing in winemakers’ sandbox. They’ve infused IPAs with Syrah must, seasoned saisons in Chardonnay casks and fermented beer with Champagne yeast. Now, they’ve filled brewhouses with massive wine-aging vats called foudres (pronounced FOOD-ers).

Traditionally, some winemakers (especially those in France’s Rhône Valley) have favored the colossal wooden containers that impart less oak flavor because of their large surface area. For beer makers, though, foudres are storehouses for cultivated colonies of Brettanomyces yeast and souring bacteria. The vessels allow brewers to make bigger batches, so they can craft more consistent wild creations, drawing off fermented liquid and refilling with fresh beer as needed.

Why Brewers Are Embracing Champagne Yeast

Champagne yeast and beer

The holidays seem to sparkle a little brighter with Champagne. A few fine bottles can add fizz to any festive occasion.

So what’s a brewery to do in December? Rather than cede every celebratory occasion to wine, breweries have created their own bubbly alternatives by fermenting beers with Champagne yeast. They fuzz the lines between beer and wine with beverages that draw a delicious Venn diagram intertwining two different drinking worlds.

“It is a great crossover style perfect for beer lovers and non-beer fans to enjoy together,” says Scott Hovey, founder and brewmaster of Adelbert’s Brewery, of its limited-release Sundowner. The Belgian-style bière brut is brewed with Champagne yeast, which creates an effervescent jewel that’s drier than a desert.

What Effects do Different Types of Grain Have on Beer?


Barley is beer’s crucial component. It supplies the sugars that yeast crunches on to create alcohol. But it’s not the only crop in the mix—brewers that seek new ways to set themselves apart are, increasingly, going against the grain. I tackle the story in my latest for Wine Enthusiast magazine.

July Writing: The Round-up

Photo credit: Brooklyn Magazine Fine readers!

Hope everyone is doing well. Over the last few months, I have written words. So many words! So very many words, which I have turned into paychecks that in turn are used to afford life essentials, such as rent, diapers for my daughter and beer. Beer! That's why you're here. To read stories about beer. And I will not disappoint. Here's a sampling of what I've been up to, story-wise. P.S. Let me know if any of these tales tickle your fancy.

Imbibe, “Back to the Land”: Farmers, brewers and farmer-brewers are growing a new crop of truly local beers.

Draft, “The Power of One”: In a harried world packed with pairing suggestions, what’s the best multipurpose beer?

Draft, “Riding the (R)ales”: The train's your ticket to unforgettable beer adventures.

Men’s Journal, “The 10 Best Shandy and Radler Beers”: Don't get stuck drinking subpar citrus-infused beer.

Men’s Journal, “America's Most Patriotic Craft Beers”: DRINK UP FREEDOM!

Wine Enthusiast, “Beat the Heat Beers”: You'll want to sip these all summer long.

Wine Enthusiast, “Meet Your Favorite Warm-Weather Beer”: Hello, kölsch!

Wine Enthusiast, “Is the IPA Trend Losing Steam?”: Short answer: no. Long answer: read ahead.

Brooklyn Magazine, “A Guide to Summer Drinking in Brooklyn”: How, where and what to sip in my home borough. P.S. I did plenty of research., “Love Beer? Of Course You Do. Now It’s Time to Put a Kegerator in Your Kitchen”: Well, that's a pretty explanatory title.

Eater, “Beer Review: Firestone Walker Pivo Pils Is Pure, Cold Comfort”: Did you know that I write a monthly review column for Eater? Now you do!

Eater, “Beer Review: Ballast Point's Grapefruit Sculpin Is a Beer All IPA Fans Should Try”:

Eater, “Beer Review: 21st Amendment's Down to Earth is an Easy-Drinking Modern IPA” 

Eater, “Beer Review: Hopworks' Totally Radler is the Perfect Low-Alcohol Summer Brew” 

Boston, “Bubbling Up”: My essay on how the Northeast got its brewing mojo back.

Take Part, “Malthouse Rising”: It's the rise of truly local beer. 

Van Winkle's, “Just 10,000 Miles to Mongolia”: Spoiler alert: It's no fun to sleep next to a night-screamer,

Bon Appétit, “March Is a Tricky Time to Drink Beer, so Drink Bière de Mars”: The French farmhouse ale is just the ticket to that time of year.

Bon Appétit, “Better Together: Why Brewers Are Collaborating to Make New Beers”: The answer: creativity.

Bon Appétit, “The Beer for People Who Don't Think They Like Craft Beer”: It's time you tried a Munich helles.

Bon Appétit, “Craft Beer Trends to Look Out for in 2015”: Hello, German hops.

Bon Appétit, “For an Extra Caffeine Fix, Try Beer With Coffee”: Uppers and downers, united in the same glass.

Bon Appétit, “Breweries Are the Hot New Spot for Restaurant Pop-Ups”: Some of the best food is now found in breweries.

Bon Appétit, “Breweries Look Beyond the Beer and to… Murals?!”: For artists, brewery walls are the best new canvases for artists.

Bon Appétit, “Pound the Pavement and Some Brews: The Intersection of Running and Beer”: How else are you going to stay in shape?

August Articles: The Update It's time you had a beer. Willie approves. 

Howdy, friends. Summer has been a tilt-a-whirl of travel, from staying at a girls' camp outside Portland, Maine, to riding on Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp bus in California, camping in Cooperstown, spending a week on Fire Island and, well, sleeping in a shack in Richmond, Virginia. Through all the travel, I've been writing like crazy. Seriously, I can't remember a summer when I've penned so many stories.

That might explain why I really, really need a break. This Labor Day weekend, I'm looking forward to spending the majority of my time pants-less, drinking beer—which isn't really so different from my day-to-day life, you know. Pants stifle creativity! Or maybe I'm just lazy. Which could also be the case.

Anyhoo! Without further ado, here are the highlights from my last few months of stories. Read away!

First We Feast, "Beer With Baby: Evil Twin Nomader Weisse": Yup, I'm getting drunk with my daughter.

First We Feast, "Beer With Baby: Victory Summer Love": Still getting drunk with my daughter.

First We Feast, "Beer With Baby: Modern Times Blazing World": Man, how drunk can I get with my daughter?

Bon Appétit, "10 Great Beer Lover's Hotels Across America, from Vermont to California"Drinking beer and passing out has never been simpler.

 Bon Appétit, "How (Good) American Beers Are (Finally) Conquering Europe": IPAs have become our country's finest export.

 Bon Appétit, "You Should Be Drinking These Belgian-Style Beers Right Now": I also include a gose and a Berliner weisse. But still: start drinking.

Draft, "Metal Head: The Tale of Woody Chandler": Pennsylvania's Woody Chandler is on a quest to drink canned beer. All of them.

Wine Enthusiast, "America's Five Best Beer Cities": Want to get people riled up? Make a list. And don't include their city.

Men's Journal, "Sierra Nevada Beer Camp": I rode on the bus. And drank so, so much beer.

Imbibe, "What Does Craft Really Mean": My cover story tackles the thorny question: What does craft beer really mean these days?