Mixing Hot Chocolate Right for the Kids

Kids with hot chocolate – Columbia Distributing

When the air outside is a bit chilly, nothing beats cozying up inside with a steaming mug of hot chocolate. If you usually enjoy traditional hot cocoa, why not try out some new fixings? Here’s how to mix hot chocolate right for the kids.

Start With the Base

When working with hot chocolate mixes, you often have the choice of adding in water or milk. Whereas regular milk will afford a creamier, more decadent drinking experience, you can also choose to mix in water or nondairy milk – like rice milk, almond milk, soy milk or coconut milk –to accommodate children with food sensitivities and allergies.

Dress Up Your Hot Cocoa

What’s better than sipping on warm hot cocoa? Dressing up each drink with custom add-ons. After whipping up a batch of hot chocolate, add a scoop of the child’s favorite ice cream for even more creaminess, or top off the mug with the classic addition of marshmallows. Other ways to enhance your hot cocoa include:

  • Adding a cinnamon stick
  • Stirring in some flavored coffee creamer
  • Folding in a dollop of peanut butter
  • Mixing in a peppermint candy
  • Topping with whipped cream and chocolate shavings
  • Steeping strips of orange rind for a citrus kick
  • Whisking in malted milk powder
  • Adding a splash of eggnog

Give Kids Their Chocolate Fix

Are you ready to test out some new hot chocolate recipes? At Columbia Distributing, we offer a range of products and hot chocolate mixes from premium brands, letting you add hot cocoa recipes to your kid’s menu that are sure to delight. To learn more, contact us today.

The Lost Art of the Hot Toddy

Hot Toddy Tray – Columbia Distributing

When cold and flu season rears its head, many people turn to cough syrup and other over-the-counter remedies to find relief. However, did you know there’s a traditional drink that’s been consumed for over two centuries and is said to help alleviate cold symptoms? It’s called the hot toddy.

What’s a Hot Toddy?

The hot toddy is a mixed drink traditionally made of alcohol, water, honey, lemon juice, herbs and spices. While recipes may vary, the hot toddy is usually drunk as a nightcap, as a way to warm up in wet or cold weather or as needed when cold and flu symptoms kick in.

Each ingredient in a hot toddy provides its own health benefit. The alcohol serves as a decongestant, while the honey helps soothe sore throats. The lemon juice provides a healthy dose of vitamin C. Plus, the water provides much-needed hydration, while the herbs and spices you choose to incorporate can boost the immune system and help clear up a host of other symptoms.

Modern Twists on a Classic Cocktail

While the hot toddy was traditionally made from whiskey, modern takes on this old-timey beverage can call for apple cider, tea and other unique ingredients. Here are some hot toddy recipes perfect for the colder months:

  • Apple Cider Rooibos Hot Toddy: This recipe combines apple juice, lemon juice, cinnamon, fresh ginger and rooibos tea for a hearty kick.
  • Healing Hot Toddy: Juniper berries, chili flakes and anise set this nonalcoholic hot toddy apart from the pack.
  • Hot Apple and Cinnamon Toddy: Reminiscent of warm apple pie, this hot toddy recipe uses apple cider, cinnamon, lemon juice, cloves and ginger.

Beat the cold season by adding a hot toddy recipe to your winter drink menu. Find everything you need to recreate your favorite hot toddy recipe from Columbia Distributing. We offer a range of alcoholic and nonalcoholic brands to meet your specifications. Contact us today to learn more.

Best Beers for the Game

Beer- Columbia Distributing

From dedicated football fans to devoted basketball enthusiasts to true American baseball supporters, picking a game-ready beer is not always an easy task. But at Columbia Distributing, we offer a large selection of domestic, imported and craft beer to suit any palate. Keep reading to learn which styles of beer are best for the big game.

Consider What’s in Season

During the big game, it’s hard to go wrong with a seasonal brew. Oktoberfest beers, pumpkin ales and other autumnal brews are the perfect complement to the football season, while spiced ales and hearty stouts are great for games during the colder months. While watching spring and summer sports, like baseball, consider choosing a beer that’s light, crisp and refreshing, such as a light-bodied Lambic, bock or wheat ale.

Brews for Pairing with Game-Day Entrees

On game day, your selection of appetizers and main courses may dictate the type of beer you want to serve. When it comes to the big game, consider making your selection based on beer and food pairing recommendations. The following brew styles complement a full range of typical game-day fare, from tantalizing pizza to savory grilled meat:

  • American Stouts
  • Bocks
  • Imperial IPAs
  • Lagers
  • Pale Ales
  • Pilsners
  • Porters
  • Wheat Ales

Get Ready for the Big Game with Columbia Distributing

As your bar, restaurant, retailer or event center gears up for the next sports season, make Columbia Distributing your go-to source for domestic, imported and craft beers. With more than 80 years of distributing experience in the Pacific Northwest, we’re uniquely positioned to help your business find the right beer for the big game and beyond. Contact us today to learn more about the brands we distribute.

Top 3 Recipes to Top Up Your Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate--Columbia DistributingWhen it comes to spiked hot chocolate, recipes with liquor may come to mind. However, did you know that you can make a delicious cup of alcohol-infused hot chocolate using beer? While stouts work best in the following recipes, thanks to their roasted malt flavor profiles that taste of coffee or dark chocolate, you can experiment with other types of dark beer as well. Here are three delectable ways to serve up decadent hot chocolates that blend your love of beer with this timeless cold-weather beverage.

  1. Stout Hot Chocolate with Ice Cream

Savor a rich, hot beverage with this mouthwatering stout hot chocolate recipe from Floating Kitchen. Combining chocolate stout beer with milk, cocoa powder, dark chocolate shavings, sugar and vanilla ice cream, this recipe is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth on any cold winter day.

  1. Spiked Hot Chocolate with Salted Caramel Whipped Cream

Straight from The Gourmet Kitchen cookbook, this spiked hot cocoa recipe calls for sugar, heavy cream, whole milk, bittersweet chocolate, vanilla extract and bourbon barrel-aged stout. The result is a piping-hot alcoholic beverage that makes the perfect dessert.

  1. Hot Chocobeer

This hot chocolate with beer recipe from The Hungry Hedgehog is easy to make and only requires five simple ingredients. If you have a stout or another kind of dark beer, half and half, sugar, chocolate chips and cocoa powder on hand, you could even whip up a decadent, steaming serving right now. Top off your mug with a dollop of whipped cream and chocolate shavings for an extra touch of sweetness.

At Columbia Distributing, we offer an extensive selection of stouts from domestic, import and craft beer brands. To learn more about what style of beer will work best for your hot chocolate recipe or other creative concoction, contact us today.

Fermented Strangeness: Weirdest Brews

Fremont glass

Beer drinkers have been embracing microbrews since small, independent brewers began creating their unique hoptastic flavors in the early ’80s. Now referred to as craft beers, microbrews no longer make up a tiny segment of the beer industry. By the end of 2016, craft beer makers accounted for 5,234 of the 5,301 breweries in the U.S. While this is great for beer connoisseurs, craft brewers find themselves in a very competitive landscape. This makes it difficult for brewers to come up with a truly unique beer, so many strive for a little weirdness to grab consumers’ attention. If you’re looking for a slightly crazy concoction, consider one of these strange fermented brews.

Rogue Brewing | Newport, Oregon

Voodoo Doughnut Grape Guerrilla
ABV: 7.5 percent

Part of Rogue’s line of doughnut-inspired beers, this ale was inspired by the Grape Ape doughnut by Voodoo Doughnut, which features vanilla frosting topped with purple sprinkles and grape dust. Their iconic bright pink bottle features a purple gorilla for this strange brew. Many beer raters agree it’s a good attempt at a jelly doughnut with a grape soda zing.
Voodoo Doughnut Mango Astronaut Ale
ABV: 5.3 percent

Another ale in Rogue’s line of doughnut-inspired beers, this one was inspired by Voodoo Doughnut’s Mango Tango doughnut — a creation filled with mango jelly and topped with vanilla frosting and a tangy orange powder. The hot pink bottle sports a quirky, top hat-wearing astronaut.
Rogue Sriracha Hot Stout
ABV: 5.7 percent

Dubbed Rogue’s Rooster Sauce, this stout pairs perfectly with spicy food. One of the ingredients is Huy Fong original hot chili sauce to give it the kick you’d expect from a fiery brew. The bottle mimics the hot sauce marketing down to its distinctive rooster.

Fremont Brewing | Seattle, Washington

Coffee Cinnamon B-Bomb
ABV: 14 percent

This B-Bomb is barrel-aged in American oak whiskey barrels and uses a blend of Winter Ale with Golding hops, coffee and cinnamon. Beer lovers enjoy a unique bourbon, oak, cacao, leather and dark coffee blend that brings a spicy chocolate coffee flavor and cinnamon whiskey aroma.

Coney Island Brewery | Brooklyn, New York

Kettle Corn Cream Ale
ABV: 5.5 percent

A combination of corn and honey malt gives it a biscuit and slightly spicy hop aroma. This craft is brewed with caramel syrup, so it finishes slightly sweet and is reminiscent of kettle corn, a popular boardwalk treat.
Cotton Candy Kölsch
ABV: 4.8 percent

Made of pureed strawberries, strawberry juice and Coney Island’s own cotton candy flavoring, the light golden beer has a pink tinge and finishes with an unmistakable cotton candy taste. This craft is also available in cans at the brewery.

Ballast Point | San Diego, California

Indra Kunindra – Curry Export Stout
ABV: 7 percent

This India-style Export Stout gives unique beer lovers an explosion of South Asian flavors that include a burst of Madras curry, Kaffir lime leaf, coconut, cumin and cayenne. Available in draft and 22-ounce bottles year-round in limited quantities.
Cinnamon Raisin Commodore
ABV: 6.5 percent

A stout with some spice, brewers combined cinnamon and raisins with their dark, bittersweet American stout to blend the perfect amount of sweet and spice that leaves you with a roasted malt flavor.

Many of these beers are a limited-edition release, so if one of these strange brews sounds tasty to you, better grab one quick before it disappears!


7 Ciders and Beers to Keep You Warm

While traditionalists will claim that distilled spirits are the only type of drink that can warm you, we beg to differ. In fact, we are firm believers in the “warming” value of ciders and beers. Here are eight of our favorites that prove the point:

  •  Maredsous Tripel – Brewed by Benedictine monks in Belgium, this light amber brew with a very foamy head sports a 10% alcohol content that is well hidden by its rich caramel taste and somewhat banana-like overtones. It is also guaranteed to warm your insides faster than a glass of Chardonnay or Burgundy.
  • Flatbed Cider – Made from the most flavorful apples in the world, Flatbed Cider combines a bright splash of initial flavor with a warm and glowing finish. In addition, this cider is produced with a true “green” sensibility as the apples are grown, fermented and bottled on the same local farm.
  • Coedo Brewery – Manufactured on the other side of the globe in a town just north of Tokyo, this beer is brewed as an American-style pale lager. Still, it has its differences – most notably that it opens with a nice citrus bite followed by sweet maltiness and ends with a bitter finish. All in all, a great way to experience the warming sensations of springtime while enduring the cold of winter.
  • RhubarbarianThrough one of the largest makers of hard cider in the Pacific Northwest, the artisan craft brewery known as 2 Towns is one of the most respected by aficionados because of its avid use of fruits other than apples such as pears and rhubarb in their ciders. This particular cider is not for the faint of heart and will put some rosiness in your cheeks.
  • Chimay Premiere– Another monkish brew this time from Trappist ones – This Chimay “red” is well regarded. It offers a dark-brown colored beer with a very strong flavor reminiscent of raisins, prunes and dates. It is quite filling as well as fortifying and will get you through a tailgate party better than any cup of cocoa.
  •  Blackthorn Cider – With its distinctive but decidedly bittersweet flavor, Blackthorn Cider provides a medium-bodied character through a synergistic combination of low acidity and high tannins. It will leave you intrigued by its flavor that you will barely notice the cocoa.

For further information on these and other artisan ciders, craft beers and non-alcoholic beverages, visit us at Columbia Distributing. We can be found online at ColDist.com or reached directly at 800-949-5997 to make a beverage order.



Craft Beer Ingredients by Season

seasonal craft beer by Columbia Distributing


In the past few years, the rise of craft beer has been startling — in fact, the total number of breweries in the States rose by almost 20% from 2013 to 2014; signaling the growing popularity of the many types of flavor profiles. The market has been trying to meet the demand, and so marketing your craft brew has been easier if you do it by season.

What Does the Season Matter?

The reasoning is actually somewhat similar to the wines you should drink with different kinds of meat and chocolate; some tastes simply complement others better. As examples, it is generally acknowledged that you want to save your darker, more involved beers for the cold wintertime crowd, and your lighter beers for the spring and summer. Incorporating this into your plan will have a distinct difference in results when marketing your craft brew.

Summertime Examples

If you’ve been in business for an length of time, then you’ve probably already got a solid plan in place for marketing your craft brew; something that incorporates search marketing in your local region and even paid advertisements. The next step is to tailor the flavors such that the seasonal ones dominate. In spring and leading into the summer, you should opt for fruit beers because of the lightness they confer to the cocktail. A cool shandy — lemonade and beer mix — goes a long way on a warm summer day.

Wheat, classic pilsner and pale and hoppy beers also work for summer evenings. You’ll appreciate the citrus flavor and fleeting spiciness at a summer barbecue, for example. Make the correct measurements for the additives, though, because you do not want a heavy brew this season.

Fall Brews

The gathering clouds and markedly cooler days make way for pumpkin, maple and amber brews. Autumn is the perfect time for nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice cocktails to liven up the spirits (pun intended). The lightness of summer is gone, and American renditions of the great German beer festival known as Oktoberfest crop up in towns everywhere. Consider adding appropriately colored banners when marketing your craft brew in the online space — they will attract more attention because of the season.

Winter Brews

The season of the heavy beer, as it were. Winter is the right time to brew those thick Imperials and Stouts and Porters that were much too heavy as summertime fare. These beers are like the Old Norse meads from the time of Thor and the Asgardians — they WILL leave you full and warm — and drunk, if you have as many glasses of this as you did of the classic Pilsners last summer.

An American favorite is eggnog-inspired spirits, which are more of a dessert beer. Lastly, Winter is also a great time for bourbon and chocolate/coffee mixtures to your liquor. Market these variously-flavored brews at the right time and you should see your bottom line go up.

Need an Energy Boost? Try These Energy Drinks

Columbia Dist Energy Drinks


A lot of people depend on their morning fix of caffeine to get the day started. For most, this comes in the form of a cup of coffee. In fact, many people may drink coffee throughout the day or even at night as a way to maintain their energy levels so that they can stay productive while at work.

However, coffee isn’t your only option. You can get the energy boost you need by enjoying wellness drinks or energy drinks, many of which also contain caffeine, the essential ingredient to an energy boost. The following are a few examples of wellness drinks and energy drinks that will have the same effect as coffee:

  • Red Bull – Red Bull is one of the most well-known energy drinks out there. It’s also the original energy drink. Studies have shown that Red Bull energy drinks not only provide a boost of energy but that they also improve mental capacity, which makes them a great alternative to coffee if you’re working late into the night. While Red Bulls contain a number of ingredients that are said to help improve energy levels, it’s the caffeine that really does the trick. A single eight-ounce can of Red Bull contains 80 milligrams of caffeine.
  • Wired Energy Drinks – Wired Energy Drinks produces a whole line of different energy drinks. One particularly unique offering is their Wired X B-12 Rush. Not only does one of these cans contain 100 milligrams of caffeine, it also provides 3,000 percent of your B12 daily value and 500 percent of your B6 daily value. This allows for an energy boost that’s more sustained than a lot of other options on the market.
  • Vita Coco – Coconut water is a great way to stay hydrated, but if you’re looking for an energy boost, then consider the Vita Coco Cafe drink. An 11.1-ounce carton of Vita Coco Cafe contains 120 milligrams of caffeine. It also happens to be a delicious blend of coconut water and coffee. There are several different variations available, including Original Latte, Vanilla Latte and Mocha Latte, the last of which actually has a bit more caffeine due to the cocoa powder in it.
  • Bai Drinks – If you’re looking for natural drinks that can provide a caffeine boost but that don’t contain food coloring, chemical compounds or potentially unhealthy additives, then Bai Drinks are a fantastic option. Although they do contain caffeine, they don’t contain nearly as much as most energy drinks do. Each Bai Antioxidant Infusion drink, for example, offers 35 milligrams of caffeine – about as much as a cup of green tea, which is generally enough for a small boost of energy.

It can be difficult to get through the day – or to even get the day started on the right foot – without the help of a little energy boost. Fortunately, coffee is not your only option. These are some of the excellent energy drinks and wellness drinks we offer here at Columbia Distributing.

The Best Alcoholic Ice Cream Treats

alcoholic ice cream treat

We all know that an ice cold beer is one of the best ways to cool down on a hot summer day (or night). However, sometimes you might be in the mood for a delicious ice cream treat as well. If this is the case, why not combine the two and enjoy an alcoholic ice cream treat?

Alcoholic ice cream treats have become all the rage in recent years, especially following the sudden burst of interest in craft beer and artisanal ice creams over the past decade. The following are just a few of the alcoholic ice cream treats that are available all over the country that you should try out this summer if given the chance:

BuzzBar Ice Cream Bars

Buzzbar is a family-owned ice cream maker out of Vermont that combines all-natural dairy ice cream with various spirits to create some absolutely unique alcoholic ice cream bars. Some of their alcoholic ice cream bars include their Vanilla Daze, which combines vanilla ice cream with cognac, their Bourbon St. Chocolate, which combines chocolate ice cream with whiskey, and their Majestic Mango, which combines mango and lime sorbet along with silver tequila.

Additionally, their ice cream offerings are a lot healthier than many traditional non-alcoholic ice creams since they don’t use any chemical preservatives or high fructose corn syrup (and they are GMO-free to boot!).

Mercer’s Wine Ice Cream

The combination of ice cream and beer or ice cream and liquor is probably something that you’ve heard of before. However, it’s less likely that you’ve ever heard of wine ice cream, or have ever even considered combining the two. Somehow, Mercer’s Wine Ice Cream has managed to do so with delicious results.

Mercer’s has ice cream offerings for all types of wine, including sparkling wine, white wine and red wine. Some examples of their ice cream flavors include Red Raspberry Chardonnay, Strawberry Sparkling, Chocolate Cabernet and Cherry Merlot, just to name a few.

SnöBar Ice Pops

SnöBar offers both alcohol-infused ice cream and alcohol-infused ice pops. Their motto is “a full cocktail in every serving,” which means you know exactly what to expect! While they have several delicious ice cream flavors, it’s their ice-pops that steal the show. Each one of their ice pops is based on a well-known cocktail. They offer Margarita ice pops, Mojito ice pops and Cosmopolitan ice pops.


These are just a few of the alcohol-infused ice cream treats that we highly recommend you try out this summer if you get the chance. You can always make your own alcohol ice cream treats as well. Even if you don’t want to go through the trouble of making an alcohol-infused ice cream, it doesn’t take that much effort to make a delicious beer float!

Of course, there’s no substitute for an ice cold beer, which is why you should be sure to check out some of summer seasonals that we carry here at Columbia Distributing as well.

Stay Cool With a Summer Ale

Summer Ale-Columbia Distributing

Different types of beers are better suited to different times of the year. For example, a thick stout beer is much better suited to the winter than it is to the summer. So what should you drink to stay cool now that the summer is here? Summer ales, of course!

What is a Summer Ale?

The fact that a summer ale is perfect for the summer weather is kind of a no-brainer. It’s all in the name, after all. But what exactly makes a summer ale a “summer” ale? The main characteristic of a summer ale is a light and crisp taste. Breweries will get this taste by combining wheat and barley together. Every year, some of the best breweries in the world prepare new summer ales for the summer season.

Summer Ales That You Should Try

The following are a few of the summer ales that we highly recommend now that temperatures are beginning to rise:

  • Fremont Summer Ale – Fremont puts out a new summer ale every year that never tastes the same, which is a testament to their refusal to settle. This year’s Summer Ale is crisp and piney without being overwhelmingly fruity or bitter.
  • Samuel Adams Summer Ale – Samuel Adams is well known for producing a variety of seasonal beers every year. This year marks the 21st year that they are releasing a summer ale. Their Summer Ale is an American wheat ale style beer that has a crisp and citrus-y flavor due to its lemon peel and grains of paradise ingredients.
  • New Belgium Sunshine Wheat – This American pale wheat ale by New Belgium is actually a year-round beer, but as the name implies, it’s an excellent choice for the summer season. Sunshine Wheat is a crisp, filtered wheat beer with a flavor profile that exhibits notes of coriander and orange peel tartness.
  • Deschutes Hop Slice – The Hop Slice is a unique summer ale put out by Deschutes, a brewery out of Oregon. The beer is something of a cross between an amber and an IPA. With a floral head, sharp hints of lemon, and semi-dry finish, this is a beer that’s perfect for sipping slowly on a warm, lazy afternoon.
  • New Holland Lost Dune – If you’re in the mood for a beer that’s a little bit fruity, then Lost Dune by New Holland is a great option. Lost Dune is a summer fruit ale that releases an impressive combination of aromas that includes lemongrass, wheat and blueberry. Although it has a bit of a sharp front, the beer does transition to a creamier center. The Lost Dune’s flavor profile includes spice and citrus, with maybe a light hint of scotch.

These are just a handful of the wonderful summer ales that are being produced by some of the country’s leading breweries this year. For more information about the summer ales or the brands that we carry, be sure to contact us at Columbia Distributing today.