Hard Cider…Something a Little Different on a Hot Summer Day…


It’s pretty darn hot outside.  While I am well known for extolling the virtues of beer for all occasions, I was thoroughly upbraided by my sister-in-law for neglecting some of the other superb choices in the drink-world that let us unwind from the heat of the long summer days.  With her inspiration, I will digress into the world of cider.

When you hear cider, you probably think apples, and therefore fall.  And you’d be right in your initial inclination, because apples are harvested in the fall.  There’s no reason, however, that you need to constrain your consumption to autumn.  After all, you don’t drink wine only in the season that the grapes are harvested, right?  Same logic applies in this case.

Hard Cider isn’t only made from fermented apple juice.  Other fruit, such as pear, is also commonly used.  Like beer, hard cider also comes in a variety of styles, and ranges in taste from super dry to syrupy sweet. Like wine, the type of fruit used (in the case of apple cider, even the type of apple) will make a huge difference in the overall flavor of the drink. 

Cider is a classically American experience. Until prohibition, this was a huge drink in America, from the times of the colonists onwards. In New England, apple trees grew prodigiously, and their harvest contributed to the brewing of apple cider.  Cider only began to dip in popularity towards the end of the 19th century, when beer made huge inroads intoAmerica along with waves of immigrants coming in fromGermany and Bohemia. 

In the last few years, as the popularity of Hard Cider has grown, the available brands have as well.  Some of the more popular ones include Woodchuck, which carries a variety of different styles, Crispin, Strongbow and Angry Orchard.

We’ve got all of these available, and I will happily vouch for the pleasant experience of cracking open a cold bottle of cider on a hot day. Have a great week, everyone.   As always, if you have any questions about anything I’ve written, or even general questions about anything else, please feel free to email me at george@vasforemost.com, tweet us: @vasforemost, or give us a call at (773) 278-9420.




Flavored Beer…Part One


 Hi everyone – another Friday has rolled around, and I am back to continue our weekly discussion on the art of drinking.  This might sound funny to some, but I take this statement seriously.  To do anything well, you need to have a passion for it.  At Vas Foremost, we have a passion for fine beverages, and a passion for sharing the knowledge of beverages.  The approach that we take to sharing with you, and the subsequent approach you take to consumption, are what lend a level of art to what we have going on here.

I digress…Last week, I filled you in on some beers that can make your Super Bowl viewing experience unique.  Tonight’s installment is devoted to beer, again, but with a twist.  We’re going to dive into the world of flavored beer!

Flavored beer is an interesting animal, and, to the uninitiated, will be unlike anything you’ve ever tasted.  There is a pretty wide variety of beers that fit in this category, including fruit flavored, smoke flavored, and food and spice-flavored. Rather than fling a ton of stuff out in one post, I will be featuring these in multipe posts over the next several months.

1. Wells Banana Bread (.500L, $5.49) The name is a little off-putting.  I was initially worried that there would be an aftertaste almost like banana flavored laffy taffy, and that the beer would have a very thick texture.  When you open the bottle, you’ll notice that the beer actually does smell like banana bread – this was a nice introduction to the drink.  The first sip reassured me that I wasn’t drinking liquid candy.  Wells states that the beer is brewed with actual bananas and some added banana flavoring, but they haven’t overdone it.  You definitely taste the banana, but it comes out as part of the ale instead of killing it or providing a horrible aftertaste.  

2. Young’s Double Chocolate Stout (.500L, $4.49, 4 pack cans, $10.99) We just covered a Wells beer, and since Wells and Young combined in 2006, it makes sense to roll on over to Young’s Double Chocolate Stout.    This is an other beer flavor that seemed iffy to me on my first try. I was really curious about how chocolately this was going to be.  “I really like chocolate milk”, I reasoned to myself, “let’s give this a shot…”.  First things first, I think what makes this combination work is that it’s a stout, a dark, heavier brew to begin with.   Young’s uses chocolate mash, and actual chocolate in the brewing process, and the result actually came out to me as a mocha – a slightly bitter chocolate/coffee flavor that went really well with the thickness typically associated with a stout.  This was not a sweet drink at all – my earlier rationalization about chocolate milk was way off base. This a great example of a non-fruit flavored beer that really stands up well. 

3. Samuel Smith’s Organic Strawberry Ale (18.7oz, $6.99) This is one of several flavored beers produced by Samuel Smith.  This is an ale, brewed with strawberry juice, and it is definitely sweet and packs a lot of strawberry punch.  If you don’t like the typical “beer” taste, then this is probably something you’d like, but for most folks, it’s simply too sweet to sit back and drink casually.  I would consider this more appropriate as an after-dinner type drink, in small doses, or even something that can be poured on ice-cream to make an interesting type of sundae.

That’s where I’ll end things for tonight.  I hope that everyone has a great weekend coming up! As always, if you have any questions about anything I’ve written, or even general questions about anything else, please feel free to email me at george@vasforemost.com, tweet us: @vasforemost, or give us a call at (773) 278-9420.

Thanks again! See you all next week!


Winter in Chicago…


 George here – and I can happily say that, after a prolonged fall here in Chicago, it appears that winter is finally here.  Snow is on the ground, a chill is in the air, and Vas Foremost is here with plenty of good winter beers to help you relax after shoveling out of Chicago’s first major snowfall of the year! 

Earlier this week, after finishing my own shoveling, I lit the fireplace at home, grabbed some beers from the fridge, and fired up the laptop.  After some nuanced study of the subject at hand, some of my picks for great winter beers that we currently have in stock include the following:

Sam Adams Winter Lager (6 pack $8.69, 12 pack $13.99) – One of my personal favorites during the winter, Beeradvocate.com says of this brew: “Quite a complex brew, smooth and rounded palate. Spices are at a perfect level and the hopping of this brew is nearly perfect. This is a nice meaty lager that will help get through the cold months.”

 Bell’s Winter White Ale (6 pack $9.99) – I’ve had my share of winter weather in Michigan, and Bell’s is set to deliver with this great witbier.  Its color is a nice gold, and the taste is perfectly balanced.  A slightly hoppy touch and good carbonation add to the crispness of taste.   

Anderson Valley – Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale (6 pack $9.99) – A nice, smooth Ale with a creamy, caramel flavor and taste. The malts and hops are well balanced for an overall clean taste.


Bridgeport Ebenezer Ale (6 pack $8.99) – A rich, dark beer.  This is very smooth, and lightly carbonated.  For me, this really hits the spot as far as a winter beer goes, with a somewhat fruity, nutty tone, and a warm feel overall.

An honorable mention in this week’s post:  Bell’s Hop Slam (6 pack $18.99) We just got this year’s shipment this past week, and it’s been very popular so far.  I’m including this as a winter beer because it’s released in the winter. I’ll  be covering it in detail next week.

Thanks for checking in! I’ll see everyone here again next week!