Beer is the key to great chili – the rest is optional

SUPER BOWL Sunday is upon us, and the testosterone of championship-hungry football fans rages nowhere stronger than in the kitchen.

Armies of chefs, fortified with tongue-searing hot peppers, are trash-talking the competition, certain that this year – this year, I tell you! – they have an unbeatable game plan. They boast, they strut and they rant over the proper ingredients: beans or no beans, ground beef or sirloin, habanero or jalapeño . . . or perhaps they’ll break out the hottest ...

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Flavors flow richly at a gourmet beer swap

IT TOOK FEWER than 30 seconds for someone to hand me a bottle that I’d never heard of before: Evolution Rise Up Stout. “If you like coffee,” the guy said, “this is the stout for you.”

I no sooner had it in my mouth when someone else was handing me another: Portsmouth Winter Hefeweizen. It was dark and smooth, like a sultry Billie Holiday ballad.

The scene would repeat itself again and again over the next hour as strangers greeted me with ...

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A neighborhood says no to a brewery

SOMETHING STINKS in Fishtown.

Late last year, a 33-year-old Internet developer named Tim Patton went before the Fishtown Neighbors Association with a proposal for a small brewery in his home on Richmond Street near Marlborough. The company would produce about four kegs a week – so small that it wouldn’t qualify as a microbrewery; instead, it would be classified as a “nanobrewery.”

Patton presented plans that showed the entire operation could fit in a small room in the back of ...

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Brewers dancing with new hops

IT WASN’T ALL that long ago that if you wanted to sound semi-intelligent on the wonkish topic of hops, all you had to do was remember a few key varieties.

Hallertauer is the perfect match for the soft water of Bavaria’s lagers. Cascades gives a grapefruit flavor to West Coast ales. And EKG is not a stress test – it stands for Britain’s East Kent Goldings.

Alas, in the past 10 years, dozens of new hop varieties have cropped up, and it’s ...

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Another giant leap forward for beer drinkers

IN THE ENTIRE history of mankind, there has been only one invention that fundamentally improved life for the beer drinker: the twist-off bottle cap.

OK, two, if you count flushable toilets.

And now there are three, thanks to the Bottoms Up Draft Beer Dispenser. It does exactly what it says: It fills beer cups through the bottom of the cup. A beer vendor simply places a plastic cup on the dispenser, and – without pulling a tap handle or even pressing a ...

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Seductive and perfidious – it must be Scottish

WHEN IN Scotland, don’t ask what’s in the haggis, don’t ask what’s underneath the kilts and, for god’s sake, don’t ask for a Scotch ale.

You’re going to get a strange look from the bartender and then . . . who knows? He might pour you anything from Belhaven 60 Shilling, which at 3 percent alcohol is light-bodied and amber, to Dark Island, which at 10 percent alcohol will have you thinking barleywine.

Scotch ale in Scotland? It’s like asking for a ...

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A year of big dates for beer-lovers to observe

BEER DRINKERS are notoriously slothful when it comes to planning for the future. That’s why we’ve developed so many ways to crack open a cold one without a bottle opener.

But now that you’ve found a place to hang the 2011 furry kitten calendar you got for Christmas, take a minute to mark some important dates to remember.

Jan. 14-15: Great Alaska Beer and Barleywine Festival. Yes, it’s cold, but the high-proof ales (not to mention outstanding mead) will warm you right ...

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