Sometimes, there is a certain amount of extra testosterone required to eat intensely hot chili peppers. And it might take even more to tip back a bottle of one of Stone Brewing's new fiery beers Crime and Punishment ($18). Stone co-founder Greg Koch started with barrel aged Lukcy Basartd (correct spelling) and Double Bastard, and then dumped a variety of estate-grown chile peppers into the beer. The results are two ruthless, sweat-inducing beverages that are not for the faint of heart. This is the first time Stone is nationally distributing beer from their limited Stone Quingenti Millilitre Series, so keep an eye out, if you can stand the heat.
If you aren't familiar with great rye whiskey, it might be time to get acquainted with one of the best, E.H. Taylor Straight Rye Whiskey ($70). Rye Whiskey has seen a resurgence of late, after mostly disappearing after Prohibition. Taylor Rye is made by the same folks who bring you the fantastic Sazerac Rye, but is a totally different recipe. One thing that is not different however, is the high quality it's produced with, and the satisfying taste it yields. A quick whiff brings notes of vanilla, black pepper and dark sugars. Of course the taste meets our standards as well, packing a spicy punch with a satisfying dry finish.
As temperatures begin to plummet and most of us are suddenly coping with less sunlight, we start to crave beer with some more malt and warmth to cap off an evening. One of the best candidates to fill this void is Backwoods Bastard ($15) from Founders Brewing. It's a Scotch Ale, an already full bodied and strong style, but this bastard has another trick up its sleeve. Aged in bourbon barrels, this seasonal offering delivers vanilla, butterscotch and bourbon scents and flavors. So put another log on the fire tonight and settle in with this 10.2% treat.
Frequently overshadowed by bourbon renowned neighbors like Kentucky, our home state of Ohio is beginning to grab some of the spotlight for their distinctive spirits. One that stands out in particular is OYO Michelone Reserve Bourbon Whiskey ($50) from Middle West Spirits in Columbus. The first Master's Blend from the Columbus distillery is also the first 100% wheat whiskey produced in Ohio in nearly a century. The outcome is a smooth, sweet, wheated bourbon deserving of the family name and tradition it was inspired by.
In the ever expanding world of craft brewing, it's not easy to have a unique offering anymore. Extreme recipes are copied, and trending styles are suddenly being brewed everywhere. But at Funky Buddha Brewery in Florida, they have a one-of-a-kind on their hands with No Crusts Peanut Butter & Jelly Brown Ale ($12). We love a good PB&J, and we love beer, but it didn't sound like two things that would mingle well. Well they not only mingle well, but taste perfect together in this incredibly well balanced brew. The distinct aroma of creamy peanut butter and sweet jam come through in the taste as well, but the previously mentioned balance makes this much more than a novelty sampler.
The fall season marks the return of one of the most anticipated bourbon collections, the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection ($70 each). Again this year, there are five limited-release whiskeys of various ages, recipes and proofs to drool over and covet. Eagle Rare 17, George T. Stagg, Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old, Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye, and William Larue Weller are all unique, delicious, and very limited. It's a group of spirits that collectors and connoisseurs are thirsting for.
If the flavors you crave when you reach for a stout include a little dairy, then look no further than Udder Love ($8) from Beachwood Brewing in California. Udder Love is said to be a traditional milk stout, but with rich flavors like bittersweet chocolate, milk sugar, and roasty coffee, it's probably a new tradition for most. One tradition that is quite common though, is how often this beer brings home awards, including a Silver this year at the Great American Beer Festival in the Sweet Stout category. It's a gentle, delicate beer that finishes like a tasty glass of coffee chocolate milk.
The fall season is a big one for new bourbon releases, but it's not too often that one of those releases tastes like fall as well. Abraham Bowman Gingerbread Beer Finished Bourbon ($70) tastes like it was made for the fall season, with hints of gingerbread spice, cinnamon and clove. They used Bowman Bourbon barrels that held booze for a solid 8 years before emptying and passing them along to Hardywood Brewery, who then aged their award-winning Gingerbread Stout for 12 weeks. Finally, early in 2013 the barrels came back to Bowman and were filled with the bourbon that you will enjoy, like a crisp fall day, if you're lucky enough to score a limited edition bottle.
Step into the challenging, yet rewarding, culinary world of home charcuterie with these Hi Mountain Sausage Making Kits ($20 and up). Perfect for the novice who has always wanted to make sausage in his kitchen, or for the experienced home cook who's looking for something a little bit different, these kits include everything you need except for the meat. With seasonings and casings for up to 30 pounds of sausage, these kits are available in a wide range of flavor options, including: german sausage, bratwurst, polish sausage, jalapeño summer sausage, and more. All that's left for you to do is head down to the butcher, pick up a bunch of meat, and start stuffing.
There are plenty of gimmicky craft beers hitting store shelves these days, and sadly, not very many of them live up to their unique descriptions. Windowsill ($20) from The Bruery however, is one of the rare exceptions. The idea hit KCRW's Good Food host Evan Klieman after enjoying a homemade Rhubarb Raspberry Pie, and a collaboration was born. Specialty grains were chosen to mimic the crust, and rhubarb and raspberries were used during stages of the brewing process. It has a tart fruit taste, a bit of pie crust malt, and a delicately masked 10.5% ABV.
Of course, popcorn is a delicious snack, whether you're deep into a marathon Netflix session, or postponing boredom at work — but there's no denying that it's full of weird chemicals that have no business in your food. But Quinn Popcorn ($15) is a different kind of microwavable popcorn. The bag is made of nothing but paper (it contains none of the usual chemical coatings), the corn is organic, and the oil and seasonings are all natural, and full of omega-3s. Flavors include parmesan and rosemary, Vermont maple and sea salt, butter and sea salt, hickory smoked cheddar, olive oil and herbs, and lemon and sea salt. Each order comes with three boxes, and two bags in each box.
If you've ever wondered what maple syrup would taste like with some bourbon in it, Knob Creek Smoked Maple ($35) might be right up your alley. The flavored bourbon brings just a hint of smoke but has plenty of sweet maple goodness to go along with some of the Knob Creek quality you are already accustomed to. It's a flavorful sipper that might go as well with dessert as it does with some cured meats at the breakfast table.