beer

A Bumper Crop of Pumpkin Beer Has Taken Over Grocery Shelves

The leaves may be changing, but one fall flavor trend has remained the same: pumpkin.
 
From Starbucks’ early release of the Pumpkin Spice Latte, to Dunkin Donuts’ launch of their Pumpkin at Dunkin’ campaign, everyone is hopping on the hayride to pumpkin town. An industry that’s no stranger to this trend? The beer industry.
 
pumpkin-beers

Image via Blog About Beer

 
An influx of pumpkin-flavored ales and lagers has hit the shelves starting as early as Labor Day, and pumpkin beer sales are expected to increase by 28% this year, according to USA Today. While tried and true favorites such as Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale and Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat are making a strong return for fall 2014, you can expect to see some new labels added to the mix, such as Magic Hat, which after 20 years of brewing, has finally released a Wilhelm Scream Pumpkin Ale.
 
Due to the high supply and demand for pumpkin beer, this will be the first year that the Brewers Association’s Great American Beer Festival will have an entire category dedicated to pumpkin beer. In years past, there had been a pumpkin beer subcategory, followed by a “Field Beer” category, but since pumpkin made up the overwhelming majority of entries, it now claims its very own category.
 
Beer Advocate has listed over 700 entries for pumpkin-flavored beers, and although some may be coming from the tiniest of microbreweries, other big name brands such as Flying Dog and Brooklyn Brewery are proving that there is no company too big or too small to keep up with the trend.
 
What do you think? Has the pumpkin beer trend gone overboard?

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Happy Hour at Hank’s Oyster Bar

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that for 21 years of my life, I went despising oysters. Slimy, chewy and salty, the small and delicate mollusk just wasn’t my thing. However, one summer night at a luxurious Huang family dinner at Eataly, Rick Huang, Chelsea’s dad, changed my mind forever. With just a sprinkling of lemon juice and cocktail sauce, my pallet was overwhelmed with a pleasing and unexpected combination of flavors and textures that I had never experienced before. I began shooting oysters like I was a pro.

This newfound love has lead Chelsea and me to seek out DC’s best oyster happy hours, and needless to say, I think we have found it at Hank’s Oyster Bar in DuPont Circle. Offered Monday through Friday from 5- 7, the happy hour specials truly can’t be beat: $1 oysters, $4 bar snacks and discounted cocktails aim to please any hungry oyster-loving patron. Already well into the Thanksgiving mindset, we decided to go on Monday after class.

The Hank’s atmosphere is a welcoming one, with a narrow entranceway and bar leading to an intimate lounge that seats about 16. The dim lights and relaxing music set the mood for an aphrodisiac-filled dining experience. Chelsea and I went pretty hungry but left satisfied after ordering- and devouring- 2 dozen oysters, truffle popcorn, chips and pan roasted onion dip and a selection of three cheeses. We had two different types of oysters from Virginia, both uniquely savory and briny, naturally accompanied by lemon wedges, oyster crackers, homemade cocktail sauce and vinegar. The potato chips were visibly homemade, perfectly salted and crisp, without being too greasy, and the onion dip was sweet and rich. The truffle in the popcorn was more prevalent in scent than in taste, but was still delicious, and the selection of cheeses offered a wide variety of taste and texture. We also shared a beer flight complete with five different beers of what Hank’s considers to be more of their “hoppier beers,” and a wine flight of a Tinto, Malbec and Cabernet. I was quite pleased with the drink selections.

12 beautiful Virginia raised oysters

Truffle popcorn and chips and onion dip

Our beer flight: yet another example of why I dislike dim lighting in restaurants

I genuinely have no complaints about Hank’s Oyster Bar, and am already looking forward to returning for another happy hour. I have heard they have a phenomenal brunch, as well, so you can bet that I will be checking that out- once I’m back in DC and digested from Thanksgiving!

The Grand Finale to My NYC Summer

I am very upset to be announcing that this past weekend was my final weekend living in the Big Apple. I have fallen in love with this city, and more importantly, with the food. You can get any type of food at any hour of the day, and odds are, it will be better than what you can get in any other city in this country. I have a whole Word document of restaurants I wanted to eat at this summer. Sadly I only made a dent in the list. But during my final weekend, I did some pretty decent damage. Let’s start with Saturday, shall we?

I said to myself that I wouldn’t leave NYC without a trip to Katz’s Deli. So Saturday was dedicated to that, and by “dedicated” I mean you only eat one meal at Katz’s because you will eat enough to suffice for the rest of the day. There was no question when it came to ordering: I would have the corned beef sandwich. Tender, falling apart, well seasoned, and surrounded by fresh rye bread. You really can’t ask for more. Their steak fries and pickles are superb, too. But I’m really just obsessed with this sandwich.

Can’t you see why?

On Sunday I attended my second iAdventure event- The International Food Truck and Beer Festival at NYC’s South Street Seaport. But I’m not here to tell you about that. While I enjoyed my afternoon full of food truck tastings, beer and music, two things- er, trucks, I should say- stuck out in particular. The first, Kimchi Taco Truck

Let me preface this by explaining the event. Each purchaser (from livingsocial.com) was entitled to two beers and three food truck tastings. I went with my foodie partner in crime, Lizzy. Since there were 8 food trucks to choose from, we decided to divide and conqure and get six different trucks’ samples and share them. The samples were rather… skimpy. Don’t get me wrong; they were all delicious. But a few french fries, about a quarter slice of pizza, half a dumpling, one gnocchi and half of a pretzel ball was not filling. So we decided to actually buy some lunch and share that, too. We went for the Grilled Korean BBQ Short Rib Kimchi Bowl, complete with multigrain rice, kimchi, pico de gallo, pickled daikon and cucumber kimchi, and boy, was I a happy camper afterwards. The short ribs were juicy and melted in my mouth. They were perfectly seasoned, with that unique Asian flavor. The classic kimchi was full of vinegar and spices, still with just enough crunch to remind you that its cabbage. I am a huge fan of Korean BBQ, and this meal definitely lived up to my standards.

After a day of spicy ethnic eats, Lizzy and I were looking for something to cool us down. I have been following Big Gay Ice Cream on Twitter for over a year now, after hearing about it on the Food Network. I had always wanted to try it but the truck is never near my office. Taking advantage it being Sunday, I convinced Lizzy to make the trek with me to Alphabet City to visit their storefront. The trip was well worth it. I can’t stop thinking about this soft serve. I got the American Globs- vanilla soft serve lined with pretzels and sea salt, all covered in a chocolate shell. The soft serve was so deliciously creamy without being too sweet. The pretzels and sea salt provided the perfect salt factor, especially combined with the chocolate. Biting into this massive cone was so satisfying. I am seriously dreaming to go back and get it. Lizzy got the Monday Sundae- a vanilla-chocolate twist lined with dulce de leche, Nutella and sea salt all in a waffle cone. The creamy dulce de leche worked so perfectly with the sea salt, and how can you go wrong with Nutella? This shop is literal heaven on earth (or wheels, if you go to the truck). I can’t decide if its a blessing or a curse that I’m leaving New York on Wednesday, because I would be genuinely scared for my health if I had year-round access to this ice cream.

Monday Sundae (left) & American Globs

So there you have it, folks. My final weekend in NYC wrapped up into one post about three incredible eats. Until next summer….