Friday, July 31, 2009

(The Two Parts Rye)² : The House Rye Challenge

There are four house rye's and 2 top shelf rye's available in Columbus. I am excluding the Russell's Reserve 6 year old, because it is just too darned good and deserves it's own review. It's slightly more expensive the the four in the challenge, but you get bang for the buck. The other top shelf rye is ()¹, which violates the fancy bottle/name principle. Blog posts are exempt from the fancy name principle, hence (The Two Parts Rye)². It's actually really good, but $$$. So, it is not a house rye candidate.

What makes a "house rye" a "house rye"? It's like house wine. Good enough, but not too expensive. Perfect for your evening Manhattan.

Who are the contenders? Old Overholt, Jim Beam Rye, Wild Turkey Rye, and Sazerac.

How's this challenge going to work? I'll to a review for each of the contenders, both as a straight whiskey, and in a Manhattan. I'm actually going to have to measure out my ingredients, which goes against every fiber of my being. But, fair's fair.

Next I'll do a head to head to head to head challenge. I'll milk 6-7 posts out of this.

May the most adequate rye win!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

There's no bad Bourbon Ale, only better Bourbon Ale

Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale (7-9% abv) Apparently, they are still working on their gazintas.


Founders Backwoods Bastard Bourbon Barrel Aged Ale (10.2% abv)


Only a fool of a Took would not love this beer!

A word on temperature: Drink these beers at 50-60° F. Any colder, and you miss out on a lot of the flavor.

How does the Kentucky beer taste? Mmmm, oh man, that's good.
How does the Founders taste? Oh man, mmmm, that's good.

You can do better than that: The Kentucky ale is amber in color with one uniform and delicious flavor. The first time that I tasted it, I thought of caramel, it does not have a strong "beer" taste. The Founders is darker in color and tastes like an ale (aka "beer") with a bourbon finish. I can almost feel the burn. It's more complex, more bitter, and also very tasty. Drink these beers from a snifter. The aromas are awesome! If I had to drink two bottles, I would drink the Kentucky ale, in fact, most people will probably prefer it. It is smoother. If I was only drinking one bottle, it would be the Founders. It's the kind of beer that you can poor into small glasses and share as an aperitif or an after dinner drink.

Who's the winner? Me!

Kentucky Bourbon Ale: A
Founders Backwoods Bastard: A

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Nectar of the gods

Les Monts Damnés 2005
Appellation Sancerre Controlée

What does it taste like? Honey, not the cheap stuff that crystalizes. A good sage or orange blossom honey. Hmmm. Damné that's good.

What kind of grape is in White Sancerre? Sauvignon Blanc. This has a sauvignon blanc finish, but it is less in your face than the typical sb.

No smarty comments? Every now and then, I'm just too impressed.

Cost: Approximately $32
Grade: A
Cost Adjusted Grade: A (A rare wine that's I would pay more than $10 for.)

Monday, July 27, 2009

A very classy beer for the whole family

Brooklyn Monster Ale
This ale was born in 2008.

The silver label and 1 pt font is unreadable.

Website stuff: Brooklyn Monster Ale is a classic barley wine, a style of ale originally brewed by the butlers to English and American aristocracy.

A family goes to a talent agent. He says: What's your act?

The father says: First we drink a lot of beer, wine and whiskey. Then we take the empty bottles and shove them into my wife's....@&!*... then my son drinks the bong leftovers out of my daughter's @!*#&@... as it drips into my own mouth. ... of course, I'm dressed up as the pope. Sometimes, there is a donkey involved, we need it to @*@)!..but only for the matinees. For the late shows, we work blue. After all that's done, we blog about it.

The talent agent says: That sounds classy, what's your act called?

The Aristocrats!

It is brewed from three batches of heirloom British malt and spiced aromatic American, Willamette, Cascade, and Fuggle hops.

After four months of aging, it has a magnificent burnished copper color, an aroma of redolent (redolent: having a strong pleasant odor) sherry, citrusy hops and fruit, a soft, warming, complex palate, a spiritous finish, and a strength of 10.8%.

It is vivacious when young, but will age gracefully for many years, becoming more complex over time.

Cost: Approx 12.99 a six pack.
Grade: B
Cost Adjusted Grade: B+

And now the unedited version of the Aristocrats! Send all young children out of the room.

A family goes to a talent agent. He says: What's your act?

The father says: First we drink a lot of beer, wine and whiskey. Then we take the empty bottles and shove them into my wife's suitcase. Then we sitdown for a picnic. We are an odd famliy and we like to give inanimate objects names. We call our thermos "bong". We eat our picnic and then my son drinks the bong leftovers out of my daughter's cup. I grab the last bottle of wine, tip it up and smile as it drips into my own mouth. It's halloween, so of course, I'm dressed up as the pope. Sometimes, there is a donkey involved, we need it to carry all of the empty bottles. But only for the matinees. For the late shows, we work blue. After all that's done, we blog about it.

The talent agent says: That sounds classy, what's your act called?
The Aristocrats!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I have to say that I totally disagree!

First a homework assignment, read the following:

His general argument, it that we are getting too much of a good thing. The increased business is making life difficult for the craft breweries. I doubt that they feel the same way. Oh no! We're making too much money! The beer connoisseur knows the great products and covets their scarceness. The readily available products are pretty darned good as well. We're living in the golden age of beer drinking and I'm going to enjoy it.

Great Divide Brewing Co 15th Anniversary Wood Aged Double IPA

Label Stuff: Based on our most award-winning beer, Denver Pale Ale, this copper-hued treat is a celebration of everything Great Divide does best. Plenty of malty sweetness provides a backdrop for earthy, floral English and American hops, while French and American oak round off the edges and provide a touch of vanilla. Thanks to everyone who's supported us for the last 15 years (This is the first time that I bought your beer, but you're welcome.) - here’s to 15 more! 10.0% ABV.

Suggested Food Pairings: Bacon & blue cheese hamburger, barbecue ribs, Point Reyes blue cheese, sticky toffee pudding, caramel cheesecake.

Your opinion? In general, I am a fan of oaked beers. This one was done by soaking oak chips in the beer, instead of barrel aging. Oak chips are more economical and a quick way of giving the beer flavor. In this case, I think makes it harsher, not softer. The oak slightly overwhelms the hops and malt. The beer does have a nice texture. Very thick on the tongue. It has a lot of tannin on the finish.

Try one of their food pairings: I just happen to have some Roquefort and bacon in the fridge. Because, you know, that's the way I roll. The blue cheese does cancel out the tannin in the finish. I can taste the vanilla sweetness in the beer. The bacon and beer go well together, but it doesn't really add to or take away from the flavor of the beer.

I'm eating bacon and drinking beer, it's a good day.

Cost: $8.99 for 20 oz.
Grade: B
Cost adjusted grade: B-

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I help you move and this is how you thank me?

Abita Beer Purple Haze

Yes, this was a thank you 6-pack. Their heart was in the right place.

The bottle carrier brags about it using a pop top cap, instead of a twisty. Wow, the finest technology that 1892 had to offer.

Label stuff: Purple Haze is a crisp, American style wheat beer with a fresh raspberry purée added after filtration. The result leaves a fruity raspberry presentation in the beer. The premium raspberries provide the lager with a subtle purple coloration and haze, a fruity aroma, acidity and a tarty sweet taste. Each batch is handcrafted using the pristine artesian waters of Abita Springs, Louisiana, resulting in crisp, refreshing...

Review: This is a beer that sounds like a good idea, then you taste it. The raspberry and wheat may be natural, but the combination tastes artificial. If you get it cold enough, it's an ok session beer.

Cost: 9.99 6/pack
Grade: C
Cost Adjusted Grade: D

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Bell's Hopslam

I'm just about done finishing off my 4th of July beer stash. This is a seasonal beer. Look for it again in the spring.

Label Stuff: Ale brewed with honey. A biting, bitter, tongue bruiser of an ale. With a name like Hopslam, what did you expect?

Do you like it? It's almost too bitter, but like they said, it's called Hopslam. What did I expect?

Alcohol: 10%. That's it! Sounds like a session beer to me.

Session Beer: A beer that is low in alcohol and has a balanced flavor of both hops and malt. The purpose being so that it can be drank over a long session of time with out overwhelming the palate or getting the drinker too intoxicated. (Occassional saracasm will be found on this blog.)

Cost: Approximately $16 a 6/pack.
Grade: A-
Cost Adjusted Grade: B
Bonus on-tap grade: A+

Monday, July 20, 2009

What in the world is... Maraska Sljivovica

The label tells the story, old plum brandy. Slivovitz is the English name.

Where is it from? Croatia. Also, Kosher for Passover. Mazel tov!

What does it taste like? Kind of medicinal. I wouldn't say that it makes me think of plums. A slight, and I do mean slight hint of spearmint in the finish.

The bottle is cool. Around the edge it says that "Federal Law Forbids Sale or Reuse of This Bottle". Once again, the man is keeping us down.

Remind me, why did you buy it? Fond memory of doing shots with an ex-girlfriends father on Christmas Eve. (just in case my wife stumbles across this, I have had this bottle for decades.) He made Tony Soprano look like Mother Teresa (No disrespect). He liked me though. Fellow paisan and Steeler fan. If I am blessed with a daughter, my standards will be higher. Though paisano and Steeler fan is a good start.

80 proof.
Cost: When I bought this in 1975, it was $2. Today it is $25.10
Grade: C

Southern Tier 422 Pale Wheat Ale

Label Stuff: A bunch of hard to read hippie stuff on the label. "Make everyday earth day." is on the bottom. We'll need to check the website.

Pour 422 Pale Wheat Ale into a pint glass (looks like Miller Lite, doubt that they were going for that.), give it a long whiff (you aren't going to ask me to pull your finger are you?) and you’ll realize that this isn’t your average pale golden wheat. (actually, that's exactly what it is.) Preserved in its unfiltered state, 422 is a fantastic session ale (a.k.a. poundable) in which flavors of wheat, barley (I do not taste barley) and hops commingle to a refreshing and zesty conclusion. Hints of orange (no) and sweet malts waft to the fore as a touch of bitterness contributes to a smooth finish. 422 is brewed as a tribute to preserving our precious planet and it’s environment. It is responsibly packaged with over 80% recycled consumer products and is completely recyclable. Enjoy 422 all year as to take one stride closer to a eco-friendly life. 5.0% abv • 4.5ºL • Pale Wheat Ale12 oz (6 pack & 24 bottle case) / 1/2 keg / 1/6 keg

Do you like it? I'm not a big wheat beer person, but it's drinkable. If you don't like Belgian wheat beers, this is more palatable. I would prefer more hops. The description above makes it sound complex, it is not. However, it is poundable.

Price: $9.99 a 6 pack.
Grade: B-
Cost Adjusted Grade: C

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Founders Brewing Company Cerise

Bottle Stuff: Not much there have to go to the web site.

Cerise 6.5% ABV 15 IBU’S You’ll have a soft spot for this one. Using only fresh Michigan tart cherries, this beauty tantalizes with intense flavors combined with a no hesitation malt bill. (The what? Is that some kind of bird? Just looked it up. The malt bill lists the grains and sugars used in the beer. Otherwise known as the recipe. Apparently this recipe does not hesitate.) Adding fresh cherries at five separate stages of fermentation achieves the ultimate balance between tartness and sweetness.

Do you like it? Yeah. In one way it's like a lambic, a beer that does not taste like beer. It's nice and tart. Lambics are made with open fermenation, which can lead to a more vinegary base flavor. It tastes like sour cherries, so if you like sour cherries, you'll like this beer.

Quick definitions

Geuze: It's a belgiun style of beer made by open fermentation. I often confuse geuze with vinegar.

Open fermentation. Don't add yeast, leave the beer exposed to the air and let nature take it's course.

Lambic: Geuze made with fruit. Actually, pretty good.

Cost: Approximately $10 6 pack.

Grade: B+

Cost Adjusted Grade: B

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Four Roses by a slightly different name tastes a hell of a lot sweeter (Link for the uneducated and/or trivia impared.)
Four Roses Single Barrel

100 proof.
Warehouse No. B5
Barrel N0. 38-6H

The small batch was like getting hit in the mouth with an oak tree. How does this taste? Pretty darned good.

Pamphlet attached to the bottle neck by a leather cowboy bondage strap thingy: Four Roses uses two grain recipes and 5 proprietary yeast strains to distill 10 uniquely different Bourbon recipes, then ages each one individually in new charred white oak barrels. (All bourbon is aged in charred white oak barrels.) Like all Four Roses Bourbons, each recipe is very smooth and mellow with a nice soft finish. (We already know that is bs.)

I have carefully selected one of the 10 recipes for Four Roses Single Barrel. distinctive fruity aromas (there is a whiskey fruit?) an delicate notes of honey (no) and maple syrup (yeah right) as well as spicy hints of cinnamon (yes) and nutmeg (ehh...kinda) - make this Bourbon both remarkable, and truly unforgettable. Each barrel is carefully hand crafted, bottled, and has handwritten label noting the warehouse and the rack location (see above) where the barrel was aged. We hope you enjoy every sip of this rich and robust, yet very smooth and mellow, Single Barrel Bourbon with the long, soft and delicate finish.

Be mellow,
Jim Rudledge
Master Distiller. (I still don't forgive you for the small batch).

No BS tasting note: 5% more alcohol than the small batch, but much more drinkable. It has a sweet cinnamon finish. It is a really good bourbon.

Compare it to the Evan Williams Single Barrel: The Evan Williams has fruit on the front end, with a hard finish. The Four Roses starts hard and finishes sweet.
Price: $37.05
Grade: B+
Cost Adjusted Grade: A-

The coriolis effect is affecting me.

Cost adjusted grade: A
Grade: A
Cost: 4.99 for a 24 oz bottle.

What do you taste? Delicious hoppy goodness.

Label Stuff: This ale marks our journey to the only place on the planet where fresh hops are harvested in our spring, the Southern Hemisphere. Our task was daunting - we needed to get the hops picked, dried, flown halfway across the world and into our brew kettle in a little over a week's time. (I don't know that I would call that daunting. Challenging, yes. Going to the moon is daunting.)

The result is a North by South fusion of fresh New Zealand hops blended with the finest North American malts. Its robust hop character presents an intriguing floral citrus aroma leading to layers of fresh hop spiciness. Enjoy! (Don't worry, I am.)

2009 Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest Fresh Hop Ale

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I now rule the blogosphere!

That's right, multiple (two) websites are now linking to my blog.

How did that happen? True greatness always shines through. (I politely asked them to do it through e-mail.)

Tom Wark at Fermentation is the hardest blogging blogger blogging today. Say it out loud, it makes sense. He actually replied to my e-mail the same day that I sent it. So, he's also polite, which may get him kicked of the internet. One of my favorite posts can be found below.

Appellation beer is living the life travelling around the world drinking beer. Sounds like heaven.

Need to make room on the top shelf

Two new bourbons from Four Roses just showed up this week. The small batch, and the single barrel. We'll try the small batch in this post.

Label stuff: The four original and proprietary Bourbons used to create this small batch Bourbon are expertly selected and mingled by our Master Distiller to reward you with a mellow symphony of sweet, fruity aromas and rich, spicy flavors.

First of all, it's 90 proof. Mellow is not really an option

How does it taste? It's very tannic. Must add a splash of water.

Did it help? Not really. It's better, still tannic. More water.

How about now? Still kinda harsh. Very disappointing.

How 'bout a Manhattan? Still harsh. Wow. Sometimes subtle whiskeys disappoint on the first taste, but reveal themselves later in subsequent drinks. I'll let you know if it redeems itself. It's hard to imagine something with this much tannin revealing any subtlety. Shame on you Master Distiller.

Cost: $29.50
Grade: C
Cost adjusted grade: C-

Friday, July 10, 2009

Drink what you like

I'm going to list some things that are supposed to be great that I think suck. That doesn't mean that you can't like them, just stop pushing them on the rest of us.

  1. Belgium beer: The yeast makes it taste like when you throw up in your mouth. Without the stomach acid.
  2. Scotch: Someone took a perfectly good Irish whiskey and soaked some old shoes in the barrel. The stuff smells like stinky feet.
  3. Fancy vermouth
Who cares about vermouth. I do, the blog is called two parts rye...

What is vermouth anyway? It's a fortified wine with spices.

Bold statement coming. Gallo is the only drinkable vermouth out there. I have had Martini and Rossi, Noilly Prat, Boissiere and others. They taste like ketchup mixed with cough syrup. Gallo is comparatively light and citrusy, and inexpensive.

But the others have complexity. Bull, it's a mixer.

Soapbox time. My fellow drinkers. Do not be fooled into thinking price equals quality. Leave that to the premium vodka pansies. The vermouth should bring out the rye's subtleties, not overpower them.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

In praise of the parakeet

Disclaimer: I did not invent the metaphor.
Confession: I wish I had.

The 4th of July has came and went. For our family, it's adult Christmas. My wife's family reunion is at the family farm. The pre-reunion get together with the Tennessee contingent is at our house. It's a 4-5 day bender, with explosives.

No one wants a 5 day hangover. That's where the parakeet comes into play. It's based on the old practice of carrying a parakeet into the mines. They succumb to the toxic affects of gas before a human. You are starting to get the idea. When the parakeet is in trouble, it's time to call it a night.

Here's the trick, the parakeet cannot be a lite-weight. Look for a good drinker who just lost weight. 3 years ago, I was the unofficial parakeet. That year, we sampled my entire top shelf, and "cousin hollow leg" grabbed a couple of Goose Island longnecks to wash it all down. This year, he's slimmed down.

Signs that your parakeet is in trouble

  1. Slurring
  2. Has to climb up the stairs on all fours.
  3. Gets spaced out. (That's me)
  4. Brings up politics. (I don't bring it up, but when challenged, I fight back. I do the same thing when I'm sober. The big difference is, when I'm drunk. All of my points are punctuated with "Yeah, that's what I thought!")

God bless you parakeet! You know who you are.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Patio Pounder: Land of Fire, Wine of Argentina 2008

Label Stuff: Chenin Blanc (Hey, that's a grape!) Fresh and crisp, with floral aromas (not really) and flavors of quince (not a common product in the US. This does not taste like quince.) and pear (I can see that.), this wine is a versatile companion to informal meals, and is an excellent aperitif.

An excellent aperitif? It's french for foreplay. Oddly enough, the older you get, the more aperitif you have and less foreplay.

What do you taste? Pear, and juniper. It is slightly acidic. Not a lot of sugar.

Price: $6.99 That's a dollar more than last year. Grumble grumble.
Grade: C+
Cost Adjusted Grade: B
Last year's cost adjusted grade: B+

Monday, July 6, 2009

What in the world is... Cachaça

What is it? It is a spirit distilled from sugar cane.

Isn't that Rum? Rum is usually made from molasses. The bottle does say Brazilian rum. I think that is just their way to get Americans to buy it.

Two for the price of 1 review: Two brands have been available in Ohio. Pitu, which for some strange reason has a crawdad on the label, is the cheap stuff. It's pretty horrid. I had to choke it down with cola and lime. Spend the extra $7 and get Leblon.

Leblon label stuff: A lively fruity nose with a smooth natural finish. (It does have a hint of fruitiness. Theres is no finish to speak of.) Juicy stalks of fresh cane are distilled in Minas Gerais, (next door to Minas Tirith) then lightly aged for two months in vintage cognac casks in Cognac France...

Any coctails? Go to to watch a video of a very tan girl make a caipirinha. I never knew that muddling was so erotic. Yowza!

Pitu: $17.20
Leblon: $29.10 recently reduced to $24.10.Grade: B
Cost Adjusted Grade B