Breweries, wineries, distilleries; Portland, Oregon has them all. Its craft beverage scene is the envy of cities around the nation. But sake? Yep: I visited SakéOne in Forest Grove to view the sake-brewing process firsthand and learn what distinguishes Oregon sake from Japanese.
'behind the scenes' on Serious Eats
The Los Altos highlands of Jalisco are known for their iron-rich red soil and high altitude: we're talking about 7,000 feet above sea level. (Take that, Mile High City!) This is where Olmeca Altos tequila is produced. Join us on a tour behind the scenes...
If you walk into any bar, anywhere in the world, odds are high that you'll be able to count on one thing—a bottle of Angostura Aromatic Bitters ready to season your cocktail. I went to Trinidad and Tobago to see how these bitters (and the House of Angostura's rums) are made.
With just two pairs of hands and three 30-barrel fermenters, Matt Monahan and Sam Richardson of Other Half Brewing can only brew so much beer. But they have their eyes on the prize. Take a peek behind the scenes at the new Gowanus brewery.
Join us for a virtual tour of Herradura's operation in action—from the agave nursery to the harvest, the giant clay ovens to the fermentation tanks, the stills to the barrels, and everything in between.
Grappa can be thought of as the final production of a grape, as it is made from the pomace—skins, seeds, and stems—after the fruit has been used to make wine. The tradition of grappa finds its truest home in the Northeastern regions of Italy, where farmers turned the leftovers of their harvest into what was then seen as a healthful elixir.
95% of the world's bourbon is made in Kentucky—and more than half of that is made by Jim Beam. Come take a look inside the distillery.
2Bar Spirits is one of the few grain-to-bottle operations that have opened in the three years since the easing of laws gave birth to Washington State's fledgling craft distilling industry.
Since the debut of its Original Label Gin, Letherbee has unveiled a limited-release gin for autumn; a unique "absinthe brun," which aged in a charred oak barrel; and R. Franklin's Original Recipe Malört, an ode to the (in)famous Chicago-centric and wormwood-driven bitter liqueur developed in collaboration with Robby F. Haynes, bar manager at Chicago's first modern craft-cocktail destination, The Violet Hour.
Rather than purchase raw neutral spirits, which is common practice for many manufacturers, Absolut takes control of the process from beginning to end—from seed to glass—and it's all done locally in Sweden. I traveled there to tour the distillery and learn about how vodka is made—I also got a sneak peek at some new Absolut products that are coming down the pipeline.
As part of an effort to revitalize local agriculture, the planning firm that Brian Ellison worked for purchased 25 acres of land on Washington Island, Wisconsin to begin growing wheat. But they began to run out of places to sell that wheat, and that's when Ellison, founder and president of Death's Door Distillery, got the idea to start distilling it.
Matthew Critz never expected to become an apple cider maker. But then again, he also never expected to become an apple and pumpkin grower, or a maple syrup producer, or a host of a farm that draws visitors to Cazenovia, New York from all over.
Malt is undeniably more important to beer production than hops—it not only provides the foundation for beer's flavor, but it also imparts the essential sugars necessary for fermentation. Without malting, there is no beer. But ask a homebrewer about his malt, and you'll probably get blank stares.
For many in the craft beer world, a handful of limited release brews have reached the ultimate "Holy Grail" status. Among these beers is the infamous Black Tuesday— an Imperial Stout brewed by The Bruery in Placentia, California. Aged in bourbon barrels for over a year, and weighing in at nearly 20% ABV, Black Tuesday is available in limited quantities only once a year on the final Tuesday of October.
Peat, if you don't know, is decomposed organic matter—grass, heather, moss—that melds into a chunky, ever-deepening formation along the coastal, boggy lands of places like rainy, verdant Scotland and Ireland. It's amazing stuff—an ever-renewing resource—as it can plunge more than a meter deep and take up to a 1,000 years for the lower parts to form into hardened, coal-like, fossilized organic matter, which gets cut into brick-like shapes and used for heating homes. But the softer, newer top part—that's the stuff that holds the most moisture and smokes when you burn it. That's used in part to truncate the germinating of the little barley bits via heat and, in its most vital act, flavor the malted barley in Islay. And it's what makes it utterly different from any other Scotch whisky you will have.
Behind a thick, unmarked, fireproof door in a dim industrial building in Brooklyn hides one of the most unusual and refreshingly ambitious distilling operations I've ever seen.
We visited with 21st Amendment Brewery's founder/brewmaster Shaun O'Sullivan to learn a bit of the brewery's history, get his take on the next big trends in craft beer, and to see what's going on behind the scenes at 21st Amendment's San Francisco brewing facility.
Nearly 80 years after Prohibition's end, American-made spirits are in the midst of a comeback. And among this new crop of upstart, independent distilleries, F.E.W. Spirits, located down an alleyway in Evanston, Illinois, surely takes the prize as the storybook example of the movement. The irony of its existence, much like F.E.W.'s lovingly handmade hooch, is quite delicious.
As a bourbon fan, not a bourbon expert, there aren't too many brands I could pick out of a lineup with confidence. But I'm pretty sure I could sniff out a Maker's Mark, no question. It's a sweet whiskey smelling of caramel and vanilla that lands on the front of your palate, soft and smooth, with a long, warm finish. How does it get that flavor? We tasted our way through every stage of the process to learn how.
In 1989, Charles and Rose Ann Finkel took over Liberty Malt Supply Company, founded in 1921, and opened The Pike Place Brewery in the La Salle Hotel under the Pike Place Public Market—a landmark spot in Seattle and one of the longest running continually operated farmers' markets in the US. In 1995 Pike moved to a new location next to the market and changed name to Pike Brewing Company. The current location is a multi-level brewery, pub, restaurant, and beer museum. Check out our snapshots of the brewery behind the scenes.