June 2016

Summer Beer Review Beers

Finally. Summer. The season that beer was made for. We’ve got the beers that were made for the season. Whether you’re enjoying one (or two) on the couch, the deck, the dock, the boat, the trail or the ballpark, there is no better time of year for a nice cold brew. Here are a few of our personal recommendations. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Today’s magical, burgeoning craft beer world offers more brews and flavors than we could ever hope to quaff in one summer. We do have other things to do, believe it or not. So be sure to do some exploring on your own, too… Here’s to summer!!

 

Victory Summer Love

Victory Summer Love beer

The crew at Victory nailed this one. A light and delightful summer ale. European noble hops provide a gentle and earthy hop profile, pleasantly balanced with clean, crisp German malt. A little grassy, a little citrusy, this beer is mellow and refreshing, like a sunny afternoon in the backyard. The addition of whole flower Simcoe and Citra hops adds a notable lemony zing at the end. Perfect for afternoon sipping at the beach or in the park.

Downingtown, PA 5.2%

Pairs with: Sumac-herbed chicken, pan-fried whitefish, fried clams, coleslaw, potato salad, garden salads and corn on the cob.

 

Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA

Racer 5 IPA

This brew has been winning gold medals since 1997, which in craft beer years is ancient history. Amber-gold, medium bodied, sporting a crisp, almost crunchy carbonation. Columbus and Cascade hops abound in each sip, repping the Pacific Northwest terroir. Pine and citrus notes dominate, dancing across a robust, grainy malt foundation. Touches of fruit, grass and caramel snap along from the sidelines. Refreshingly bitter and full-flavored, but not overpowering. Because summer is too short for anything less.

Healdsburg, CA 7.5%

Pairs with: Barbecue all day — chicken (get some char on there!), burgers, steak tips, sausage, wings, beef shish kebabs, grilled poblanos, as well as robust snacks like cheese fries, pizza and nachos.

 

Bent Water Thunder Funk IPA

Bent Water Thunder Funk IPA

Straight from the tanks of the newest brewery on Boston’s North Shore. Burnt orange in color, this malt-bomb IPA is loaded with jolly tropical fruit notes like mango, stewed orange, ripe pineapple and key lime. The big malt bill adds a toasty, honey-sweet booziness. Herbal and citrus notes flit around the edges of the aroma and flavor.

What sets this brew apart is a notable lack of bitterness to counter all that hop and malt sweetness. It’s unusual for an IPA, to be sure. Some will say the guys at Bent Water missed the mark here, but we argue that they have pioneered a new genre – the malt-forward IPA! Perfect for those who love big, IPA-sized flavor but don’t like bitter.

Cheers to these guys, we can’t wait to see what they do next!

Lynn, MA 7.3%

Pairs with: Chicken Salad, grilled cheese, lamb shish kebabs, grilled swordfish and tuna (especially served with chutney), fish tacos, pork chops, lamb chops, potato chips, sorbet, fruit salad.

Port Wipeout IPA

Port Wipeout IPA

An exemplary West Coast IPA. Dry, bitter, grassy, pithy, and a little floral. The nose is warm, fresh and green, like a sunny hill in Santa Barbara. Each citrusy sip is fresh like ocean spray in Monterey. You’ll catch hints of fruit popping up here and there, too. The brew finishes dry and light for such a full-flavored West Coast IPA. Sips almost like a brut Champagne, but with shaggy hair and sunglasses. Surf’s up!

San Marcos, CA 7.5%

Pairs with: Grilled or fried fish, roasted or barbecued game birds (duck, quail, cornish hen or pheasant), wings, sausage or kielbasa on a roll with grilled peppers and onions, pasta dishes dressed in an oil-based sauce, pizza and flatbreads, and quinoa salad.

 

Bass Ale

Bass Ale

Here we have a beer with true heritage. First brewed in England in 1777, Bass Ale lays claim to the world’s oldest trademark. That iconic red triangle has been featured in paintings by Picasso and Manet, and in James Joyce’s Ulysses. It was also served on the Titanic (talk about ice cold beer!). While the company’s ownership has changed hands and forms over the years, the recipe has survived.

This Old World brew greets the thirsty reveler with mellow caramel, vanilla, herbal and earthy notes. Noble hops and English malt keep it subtle and balanced, with a bit of toastiness. However we were surprised to discover hints of orange and even melon when we allowed it to open up a bit in a glass! All around an easy-to-like beer, right down the middle of the plate.

Staffordshire, England, 5.1%

Pairs with: Fried things — fish and chips, fried fish sandwiches, fried clams, crab cakes, falafel, samosas, as well as hot buttered lobster rolls (toast that bun!), roasted or barbecued chicken, roasted peanuts and buttered popcorn. Makes a great beer batter base too!

 

Boulevard Brewing Love Child #7

Boulevard Brewing Love Child

Because summer is about getting weird, wild and funky. The Love Child series features barrel-aged wild ales fermented with Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus. This latest rendition is tight, tannic and quite tart. We’re talking tart like biting into a lemon — one that was aged in an oak barrel alongside sour cherries, crabapples and wild blackberries, all of which come through in the sip. The big, feral tartness and wild fruit notes are backed by a faint but reliable woody yeast funk. A slight mustiness, fragrant cherries and fresh lemongrass come through on the nose.

This brew has a thin head that dissipates quickly, but it remains effervescent to the end, with a persistent strings of carbonation rising from the glass like prosecco. In fact, the mouthfeel and overall sipping experience is similar to bubbly — light, dry and crisp. Despite the definite fruit notes, there is very little sweetness here. The result is a fireworks display for your tastebuds. Pucker up.

Kansas City, Missouri, 8.2%

Pairs with: Panko crusted chicken, fish and chips, grilled catfish and swordfish, low-spice thai noodle dishes (especially ones prepared with lemongrass), chicken marsala, aged hard cheeses such as Manchego, Gruyere and Asiago, and cherry pie.

Port Brewing bottle cap

Craft & Caro logo and nylon strap

Evolution is the process by which a species adapts to its environment, in order to thrive. It happens in small steps. It is catalyzed by chance. Each successful variation endows a lucky creature with new or improved abilities, ensuring the strength and endurance of its line. Homo Sapiens is subject to this natural progression, of course, but there is something that sets us apart.

Woman with wings manufactured for human flight

For some time now, we have had the distinct pleasure of playing a role in our own evolution, thanks to our unique creative faculties. We call this kind of progress innovation. Innovation is the means by which we adapt the world to our needs, in order to thrive. It also happens in small steps. It is catalyzed by inspiration.

Vintage flying invention

Innovation is what sets us apart from the other evolvers. It is what makes us human. We get a chance to impart our ideas, our values, our tastes, and our aesthetics into our very existence. We get to stand back, square up the canvas in our sights, and contribute our own brushstrokes, even as we live them.

Our deeper values, what we might call spiritual aesthetics, inform how we choose to live. They are reflected in those brushstrokes — in all the subtle ways that we manifest beauty, elegance, and refinement in ourselves each day.

True style is borne by the graceful fusion of utility — dictated by the practical requirements of evolution — and beauty — that more elusive sense of what pleases the spirit. The care we put into crafting ourselves evinces the grace that resonates within each of us. It is how we share ourselves with the world, and in doing so, we uplift each other.

Closeup of Nylon strap of Craft & Caro leather ruckpack

That’s why we do what we do at Craft & Caro. We celebrate creativity. We cheer on the people who nudge us forward with each new innovation. We see style as something that is part and parcel of good design and good workmanship. We seek out the choicest fruits of the artisan world, according to our own heartfelt aesthetic, and collect them in our stockroom. The items we choose share the virtue of innovation, whether they are classic or cutting edge.

 Top front of leather bag

So far, this has been our contribution to the cause. Today, however, marks the genesis of something much bigger for us.

For once, we have had the opportunity to stand at the drafting board and determine exactly what shape inspiration will take. We are quite excited to announce Craft & Caro’s first ever collaborative product. 

LTHR Supply x Craft & Caro ruckpack in Bourbon

 

In partnership with our talented friends at LTHR Supply, we proudly present The Ruckpack.

 

We teamed up with Jeremy Szechenyi and Travis Tyler, the makers behind LTHR Supply, to collaborate on the new model, based on their classic Rucksack. After no small amount of consideration, we arrived at something that we are proud to put our names on.

The Ruckpack takes into account the practical demands of everyday use, and shines as an example of the subtle panache that has come to characterize our company. This is an everyday bag, to be sure, but a bit more distinguished — sophisticated, simple, durably built and enduringly stylish.

Side view of Craft & Caro Ruckpack rolltop

This redesign is all about the details. It is in the details that you will find those very sparks of inspiration that excite the senses.

We chose softer leather for a more luxurious feel. The edges of the rolltop are unstitched and unfinished, allowing for increased flexibility and more casual styling. Eventually, the raw leather edges will develop their own unique patina.

Backside of Craft & Caro leather Ruckpack

High-quality nylon straps, designed to stand up to long-term stress, replaced the leather ones. They feature a slide loop instead of a belt buckle system, allowing for continuous adjustment. The design does away with loose strap ends for a cleaner look and function. They’re stitched right into the bag, instead of being fastened with a lot of metal hardware.

Backside of leather ruckpack

Overall, the bag has fewer structural rivets and more stitching. The remaining rivets and fittings are made of aluminum instead of stainless steel. The result is a lighter, more comfortable pack. The bag also has an increased capacity, making it ideal for the urban commuter, the casual outdoorsman, or the thrifty vacationer. The minimalist design makes for a wonderfully simple functionality.

LTHR Supply x Craft & Caro leather patch

To commemorate the series, each bag bears a handsome, manually-stamped leather patch, featuring the respective LTHR Supply and Craft & Caro labels, as well as our collaborative tagline, “everyday goods, timeless designs.”

This first limited run comes in two colors, Bourbon and Walnut. And of course, every single component, from the full-grain steer hide and the bonded nylon stitching, to the aluminum clips and rivets, was produced in the USA. The Ruckpack was designed and assembled with pride in Boston, Massachusetts.

Leather ruckpacks by Craft & Caro

Thank you for giving us a chance to share this little moment of evolution. We will continue to step forward, to inspire and be inspired, and to champion the work of makers across the globe. Their workshops are where the magic is happening. Our collective passion for progress is what keeps them at it. Here’s to much, much more.

Vintage Jet Pack man

Check out the Ruckpack here!

Filed Under: Boston, New Products, News, Travel

Father’s Day. It’s the holiday we were born to curate. Our vast selection of keepsakes and treasures will help you give Dad a truly standout gift. Here are a dozen highlights from the Craft & Caro stockroom that are sure to inspire you. 

Groom

Manicure set, Cologne, and Shaving set

1.) F. Hammann Stainless Steel Manicure Set

F. Hammann Leathergoods has been making world-class items since 1864. Five generations of the Hammann family have maintained a standard of excellence that defines their brand. Production is still carried out entirely on-location in Offenbach, Germany. The company processes its own leather, using only all-natural tanning agents. This handsome manicure set is complete, compact, and built to last a lifetime. The Eschenburg tools inside it are made with precision, for precision performance, year after year. $162

2.) MCMC Dude No. 1 Cologne

MCMC Fragrances makes all-natural perfumes and colognes in Brooklyn, NY. Founder Anne McClain studied aromatherapy and then perfumery in Grasse, France. Anne and her sister Katie oversee the manual production of each heavenly fragrance in their line. Dude No. 1 is a refreshing take on the masculine essence. A deep base of sandalwood, Virginia cedarwood and Haitian vetiver mixes with Moroccan rose, spicy ginger and pink peppercorn. Fresh, exotic, and seductive, for the James Bond in every dad. $75

3.) Mühle Sophist Buffalo Horn Shaving Set

These masters of heirloom-quality shaving accessories broke ground in Saxony, Germany at the conclusion of World War II. Over the decades, their commitment to excellence has endured and grown along with them. This gorgeous set is a gift Dad will cherish for the rest of his life. Beautiful, hand-turned buffalo horn and corrosion resistant chrome are painstakingly finished with a high-gloss polish. Famously soft silvertip badger hair makes the perfect lather every time, for a luxurious start to the day. A classic set of tools for the man who deserves the very best. $505

 

Travel

Frost River Bag

 4.) Frost River Overland Valise Weekender

Frost River makes beautiful, adventure-ready bags in Duluth, Minnesota. Their vintage style and high-quality construction are inspired by the trail blazers, prospectors and craftsmen who first explored the Northern Wilderness. In honor of that bygone era, Frost River’s methods and materials adhere to traditional production values. Each bag is made carefully from Martexin waxed canvas from New Jersey, quality leather from SB Foot Tannery in Minnesota, and finished with solid brass hardware. The Overland Valise Weekender is a ruggedly handsome, hardworking, sophisticated travel companion that you can count on to haul more than its fair share of the load. Sound like someone you know? $300

Leather wallet and Bottle opener key shackle

5.) American Bench Craft Hammer Riveted Wallet

Brothers Jason and Chris founded American Bench Craft in 2014, to honor “the heritage of [their] grandfathers and the products they relied on.” Every American Bench Craft product is made by hand with manually-powered machines and tools in their home workshop. The Hammer Riveted Leather Wallet is the flagship design on which they ran their Kickstarter campaign. Each wallet is made from a single piece of high-quality, naturally dyed leather that is folded and riveted, not stitched together, for unmatched durability and longevity. A sharp-looking, simple wallet that Dad can count on. $74

6.) Metal Shop Key Shackle Bottle Opener

Possibly the ultimate Dad gift. Simple to use, always handy for popping your favorite bottle, and entirely manly. Hand-machined from raw 304 Stainless Steel and then hand-finished, each Key Shackle opener bares unique production marks. Jon Fontane started Metal Shop in 2013 to honor the memory of his grandfather’s New Jersey machine shop. He eschews modern mass-production practices, and designs thoughtful, unique items, meant to honor authentic craftsmanship. He works out of his studio in Connecticut, in partnership with a collective of small, family-run machine shops. $45

 

Work

Fisher Space Pen, Bull & Stash leather notebook and Almanac Industries Blueprint cards

7.) Almanac Industries Blueprint Notecards

Husband and wife team Jacob and Whitney Cecil make their exquisite stationery one sheet at a time on their antique letterpress. They find joy in all things old fashioned, including attentive craftsmanship. These classic cards are no exception to their efforts. Their Blueprint series features nautical images and diagrams, including boats, rope knots and lighthouses. Each set includes fifteen heavyweight cards, hand-stamped with your image of choice. Whether Dad is the sender or the recipient, he is sure to appreciate the extra touch that these elegant cards add to the occasion. $32

8.) Fisher Original AG7 Astronaut Space Pen

Probably the coolest pen in the solar system. This is the original Space Pen, designed for use by astronauts and tested by NASA. It accompanied the crew of Apollo 7 into space in 1968 and has been used on every American space flight since, including the first moon landing. The design has never changed. The AG7 is uncannily satisfying to use. Solid chrome-plated brass and steel components lend a healthy weight to the pen. The action on the click mechanism is fluid and substantial, an homage to classic analog mechanics, akin to the pleasure of using an antique cash register or cable clutch. Fisher’s proprietary pressurized ink cartridge ensures a smooth flow, flouting all atmospheric and gravitational conditions. Proudly made in the USA, for every boy, young and old, who still wants to be an astronaut. $50

9.) Bull & Stash Leather Notebook

Oregon-based Bull & Stash is new to the world, but their rugged notebooks are destined to be classics. A staple of the Craft & Caro selection, each notebook is made from a single piece of naturally dyed leather from free-range American cows, hand-finished at a family-run tannery in Santa Croce, Italy. The thick, oiled leather forms a flexible, spine-free, water-resistant cover. The refillable paper pad is held in place with two aluminum screws, for added durability and easy replacement. Every Bull & Stash will develop a distinguished patina over the years, each as unique and personal as the writing inside. A wonderful example of an everyday item elevated by imaginitive design. $5-$50

Relax

Flask, copper shot glasses and Sportes log stove

10.) Beier-Lederwaren Ostrich Finish Steel Flask

Another standard-bearer of fine German design, Beier-Lederwaren has been manufacturing high-quality accessories since 1922. Their stainless steel flasks are built to last a lifetime. While we carry an extensive selection of Beier-Lederwaren flasks, this particular one is our favorite. Rich cow leather, expertly finished to resemble exotic ostrich hide, lends a classic, debonair look to this little heirloom. Give Dad a touch of European flair. $89

11.) Jacob Bromwell Old West Copper Shot Glasses

Jacob Bromwell has been making iconic American goods since 1819. Their first Cincinnati factory opened to supply westbound settlers with the necessities of life on the frontier. Every heirloom item is made by hand in America, from materials sourced in America. These copper shot glasses are hot-tinned according to Jacob Bromwell’s proprietary method, making them the real thing, not just ornamental replicas. Worthy of the likes of Wayne, Eastwood and Bronson. Sure to add a touch of style to Dad’s bar. Maybe he’ll even break out some of the good stuff for you. $150

12.) Sportes MITI Swedish Log Stove

For the dad who loves the outdoors, even the one who thinks he has all the gadgets he will ever need to answer the call of the wild. MITI means “log” in the tongue of the aboriginal people native to Quebec, where Sportes is located. Their ingenious Log Stove is designed to perfect a concept developed by the Swedish Army in the 1600’s. Simply quarter a medium-sized log, stand the four pieces up, then position the Log Stove on top. Lock it into place with the included spikes. Suddenly a few pieces of timber have become a stable stove, complete with cooktop and steady burn temperature. Adjust the spacing between the logs to raise or lower temperature. Pretty cool, right? Dad will think so too. (Rib eye not included.) $65

Filed Under: Events, Gift Guides, Groom, Relax, Travel, Work