On a visit to SE Asia to one of our customers we were introduced to a new craze…. Flavored beer. Truthfully, I do not like beer. There’s something about the taste and smell and that I do not like. However, when flavored, the taste was masked and the drink seemed less bitter to me. In cafe shops around Indonesia, imagine a long tall beer glass alongside a syrup bar. Various syrups with pumps for you to squirt into your beer. The surprising standout flavor, for me, was Kiwi. The color of the beer is only slightly tinted; the flavor, surprisingly good. Other popular flavors are Peach, Raspberry, Orange, Lychee and Lime. Have you tried flavor beer? What was your impression?
Information & Sales:
Conducting a blind tasting takes an assortment of skills and a variety of characters. First, the skills:
Now, to the characters
Over the next few posts, we will evaluate these issues. Conducting a taste test is fun and engaging, but it takes a lot of work.
The south of France is a a delight to the senses. Visually exquisite, cuisine that is simple, fresh and flavorful, sounds of wildlife, birds and rustling trees, and the sweet fragrance of lavender, olives and grapes. It is easy to want to sit back and let nature take over your senses.
On my last visit, I did a lot of sensory tasting. The south of France makes some of the best products in the world… Wine, olive oil and honey and I tried them all. Here are a few of my most favorites tastes.
Wine…because I prefer white wine, I visited Cassis,, a small fishing village near Marseilles, known for its exquisite whites I ordered a bottle of wine and paired it with battered sole. The wine was crisp, with a golden hue and an aroma that brought to mind the fresh outdoors. The taste was a delicate flowery, with hints of Cherry and cassis. Domaine du Paternel is a very fine house and each sip was delicious.
Olive oil…. Now here is where things get complicated. There are many, many types of olive oil, but you don’t fully appreciate how much effort goes into each bottle of olive oil until you have been to the vineyards and seen the olives on the trees. They are treated almost as delicately as grapes and have a processing that was brought over by the romans centuries ago. Typically we pour olive oil over dishes. The new technique is to use a sprayer to spritz, instead of pouring. It is less wasteful.
Pastis… Never having really tasted pastis, I decided to linger over one on a sunny afternoon in Marseilles. Generaly, pastis is a licorice flavored drink. It arrived to the table as a concentrate, to which I added water. I decided for the slightly sweeter version, which had orgeat in it, giving it a very almondy flavor, similar to sambuco, or ouzo. Paired with a tomato and mozzarella salad, the pastis went down very smoothly.
Lavendar grows in abundance in Provence, but I had not figured out how to use it in a culinary setting. Well, I found two delicious examples of it. The first was a goat cheese spring roll with lavender honey. This was amazing – the sweet and sour taste, combined with the crunchiness of the spring roll set off the lavender honey. It was not too sweet as the cheese mellowed it, but you clearly had the sweet and sour sensations. The other yummy taste was a Lavender creme brûlée. The first thing I noticed was the creme brûlée was 1) not as thick and firm as our Amercian version and 2) not as sweet. The brûlée had the pods of the vanilla bean and a carmalezed lavender layer. The whole dish was devoured within minutes. I have brought lavender home to use in cooking and we will see how that turns out.
I hope you have enjoyed the culinary tour of Provence. I can’t wait to taste more.
I recently attended a beer tasting at Cowboy Stadium in Dallas, TX. As an aside, Cowboy Stadium is amazing. It is high tech, has great food and very clearly, is a new standard in American Stadiums. We had the opportunity to take a tour and it was incredible to see the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders practicing their routines directly from the field sidelines. I found the entire experience infectious and would enjoy watching a game live.
But back to the Beer Tasting… I am not much of a beer drinker, but our tasting guides had an acromym to describe the evaluation of each beer and I found the simplicity of their sensory evaluation to be something that I could pass on: AATMF. These five letters stand for Appearance, Aroma, Taste, Mouthfeel and Finish.
Appearance – Appearance can reflect the color, the consistency, smoothness of texture and generally all the visual elements that are common in determining the appeal of the product.
Aroma – Over 70% of taste perception is attributed to aroma, or smell. If it smells good, chances are, it tastes good!
Mouthfeel – With beverages, some people can feel the product in their mouth and they can describe food and beverage a variety of ways: creamy, thick, thin, coating, and a number of other ways. This attribute is how you perceive the texture of the product in the mouth. One simple example is sugar and HFCS. While we don’t manufacture anything using High Fructose Corn Syrup anymore, we had a hard time getting out of it because it has a thicker viscosity than sugar, and therefore, our customers felt it was a creamier, richer taste. In order to achieve that same feeling with sugar, we had to add more sugar to increase the viscosity and create a similar mouthfeel.
Finsh – The finish is essential. Once the product has left your mouth, the sensation it evokes afterwards can either linger of end quickly. If it ends quickly, the perception tends to be that it is not very strong. If it lingers at the back of the mouth and in the air passages (due to the aroma), the sensation is one of satisfaction and fullness.
So, now you know the 5 different evaluative areas, try something. Enjoy a glass a wine, your favorite flavored cocktail or a cup of coffee and evaluate how the beverage looks, smells, tastes, feels, and lingers in your mouth. Feel free to share your results here!
We recently had a request for a Blue Hawaiian Mix and discussions started flying around the office as to what made good Blue Hawaiian. One of our customer service reps, Mike Jones, is an Islander and was considered our “authority” when tasting the finished beverage.
In looking it up on the ever informative Wikipedia, “The Blue Hawaii was invented in 1957 by Harry Yee, legendary head bartender of the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki, Hawaii when a sales representative of Dutch distiller Bols asked him to design a drink that featured their blue color of Curaçao liqueur.”
We knew two things about a Blue Hawaiian… 1) It uses Blue Curacao (a delicate orange flavor) and 2) It is similar to a pina colada. When we verified this, we found there are two different types of Blue Hawaiians… The first is a simple mix that is similar to a margarita and uses rum or vodka. The other type incorporates coconut syrup, milk or cream and is only made with Rum. The color is blue.
I know that there are others who are more informed than I am about creating a hand crafted mixed drink, so I sent a querry to Linked-in’s US Bartender’s Directory, asking if anyone knew of a good recipe for a Blue Hawaiian. This is why I love networking on Linked-In…I immediately received a couple of replies.
Here’s one recipe that you might enjoy, courtesy of member Chris Milligan:
Method: Combine all ingredients in a blender and pulse to combine. Don’t turn it into a slushy. Garnish with pineapple flag, fruit stick and/or mint sprig.
Another member, Mark Drummond, provided some insight into the rum itself. He offered a couple of suggestions to use, such as a spice rum, dark maple rum or an oak cask rum. However, he cautions, it will change the flavor.
I hope that you all enjoy trying a Blue Hawaiian, and hopefully our customer will like the mix we prepared. Nothing beats a field trip to Hawaii to soak in the sun and sip on an authentic Blue Hawaiian, though. Maybe in the winter!
The Specialty Coffee Association of Europe held it’s Caffe Culture Conference & World Championships – World Barista Championship 2010 convention this year in London, from June 23-25th. London is one of my most favorite cities in the world, and I enjoyed the chance to combine fun with work. In addition to walking the floor I attended Day 1 of the SCAE Conference, titled Management Change. There were four great speakers:
Buck Hendrix – Starbucks President Europe, Middle East & Africa
All 4 presenters had insightful comments regarding their company’s response to a changing market place and changing economy. Every business has had to reassess how to manage their processes and do more with less, while ensuring their company remains relevant to their customers. It is a daunting task. All four have done a tremendous job and it was inspiring to hear it.
We spend a lot of time talking about specialty beverages, but very little about the other ingredients. Here, our R&D has written a summary of some of the popular liquors used in the preparation of cocktails. The list of liquors is by no means complete and hopefully he will be adding to it every month.
Vodka- The Code of Federal Regulations (title 27, volume 1) defines Vodka as “without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color.” In processing, vodka is distilled and filtered to remove impurities that exist during the fermentation process. Because of this, vodka is great for use in drinks where strong liquor flavor is not desired.
Gin – A spirit flavored by Juniper berries as well as other spices and herbs. Gin’s strong flavor pairs well with citrus and works well in sour drinks such as the Gimlet (Lime juice and Gin). A new non-alcoholic soda by the Dry Soda Company, named Juniper, taste remarkably like Gin.
Tequila – A spirit made from the fermented juice of the Blue Agave. Tequila is produced only in the Tequila region of Mexico. There are a few different varieties of tequila and they differ in the length of aging and the condition of storage. For example Reposado tequila is aged between 9 months and two years in oak barrels. Tequila is used in the classic cocktail, the Margarita because it has a strong distinctive flavor that pairs well with the citrus and tartness of margarita mixes.
Whiskey/Whisky- A spirit made from fermented grains. Different types of whiskey are made using different grains and these whiskeys are aged in wood barrels (traditionally oak). Whiskeys have widely ranging flavors depending on the grain and the aging process. A young American Whiskey will taste very different from an aged Irish Whisky. Whiskeys can be bottled as either single-malt or blended. Blending can help overcome difficulties or issues with a particular batch and allow large distilleries to closely control the flavor profile. Single-malt whiskeys are popular because the distinctive characteristics of each batch make them unique. Some of the most expensive whiskeys are aged single-malt scotch whiskey. Whiskey is one part of the classic Whiskey sour cocktail.
Rum (my personal favorite) – A spirit made from fermented cane sugar and cane sugar by products such as molasses. There are two major varieties of rum, light rum, which is clear, and dark rum, which is similar to whiskey in color. Light rums are typically used for mixed drinks such as mint mojitos, while dark rums are traditionally consumed alone.
What’s your favorite liquor?
During the dark months, we try to taste as many fruit flavors as possible to get us through the day. In our trials this month, we came across a very special fruit. You may have heard of Passion fruit, but have you tasted it? Passion fruit is one of the original “super fruits,” a category of fruit that continues to grow in North America. Other popular super fruits are Pomegranate, Açai, Mangosteen and Jabuticaba. Many people may have tasted passion fruit flavor, but very few people actually know what a passion fruit looks and tastes like in its natural form.
Passion fruit is native to South America and is grown in a variety of tropical and sub tropical areas around the world. The most famous place is Hawaii, where the locals refer to it as Lilikoi. The fruit has two varieties, defined by their different color skins. The purple passion fruit is a sub tropical variety, smaller, is mildly frost tolerant and can be grown as far north in the United States as San Francisco. The yellow variety is tropical, slightly larger and therefore much less tolerant of cold weather. As a result, the yellow variety is more abundant in Hawaii.
The fruit itself consists of an outer inedible skin with yellow flesh and numerous seeds (which are edible). Depending upon ripeness the taste can range from sweet to very tart, and it has a very distinctive flavor. The most common way the fruit is consumed is in a juice, where the flesh is pureed, strained and concentrated.
Today there are many flavor companies who feature passion fruit as one of their tropical flavors and there are many commercial juice supply companies selling concentrated passion fruit juice for use in the food industry. This commercialization has helped transform the passion fruit from a local delicacy to a flavor people around the world have heard of and tasted, even if they have never been to a tropical area.
Here at Eagle Beverage, we are always working to find the best ingredient and flavor combinations. Recent developments have resulted in the pairing of passion fruit with citrus and strawberry, creating a product that could be used either for a delicious Italian soda or for a delectable Margarita. These are exactly the types of flavors we love developing to keep our minds off of the cold winter days!
When you think of caramel, what flavor profile do you think of?
At Eagle Beverage we are always trying to find the most authentic flavors, and this is a topic we have discussed numerous times with numerous customers. What do people think are the differences between caramel, toffee, and butterscotch flavors? The flavors are similar and differences are miniscule, but the opinions and perceptions people have of these flavors are immense!
The dictionary definition of caramel is cooked sugar that has changed color to a golden yellow/brown. Technically speaking, caramel refers to the complex chemical reaction that takes place when you heat sugar. When this process is occurring, sucrose gets hydrolyzed to fructose and glucose. Those simple sugars then undergo a condensation reaction to lose water, then a series of isomerizations, followed by further condensation reactions. The end products can then either fragment to form flavors, or polymerize to form colors. In commercial caramel flavor or color production, different pH and catalysts are used to direct the reaction in a particular direction.
Of course, most consumers identify caramel not by either of these two definitions – but by the candy! Caramel candy is made with milk, sugar, butter and corn syrup (sometimes vanilla flavor as well). This mixture is then heated to the “Firm ball” stage of 250° F, and when cooled this candy will range from soft to firm and chewy – but not brittle.
By comparison toffee is made by boiling molasses, brown sugar, or table sugar along with butter (and occasionally flour). The mixture is heated until its temperature reaches the hard crack stage of 300 to 310 °F, and becomes hard and brittle when cooled.
Butterscotch is made using very similar ingredients: brown sugar is often used along with butter (and sometimes vanilla). Unlike toffee however, the butterscotch mixture is heated only to the soft crack stage of 270-290° F, and thus is not as brittle as toffee.
We are constantly trying to improve our products by delivering the flavors the consumer desires. So, as always, feedback and comments are encouraged!
Every fall, as the leaves change color and the weather cools, at Eagle Beverage, we look at the holiday flavors with anticipation. This month, we’ve been working on traditional holiday flavors – pumpkin pie with hints of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg, Eggnog, a traditional winter flavor, spiced with rum flavor, nutmeg and a hint of cinnamon. The lab has also received requests of sugar free holiday flavors, like sugar free Maple and All Spice. This winter, enjoy as many fall and winter flavors as you can… hot buttered rum, cinnamon apple spice, and red peppermint.