Monday, August 31, 2009
Let the label mocking begin! In a rock 'n roll collaboration. 2 of Europe's most extreme, experimental brewers have combined forces, talents and ideas to produce this innovative ale. This is the most rocking, kick-ass thing I have heard of. It's the beer version of Elton John and Billy Joel's Piano Man tour.
Uniting Inspiration, ingredients and people from around the world this beer was brewed and aged at Brewdog in Scotland.
This rebellious beer is partially aged in oak Speyside whisky barrels and partially agted in stainless steel, comines an ale yeast and champagne yeast and showcases a hop variety.
That's it. Remind me again, what did the Dutch folks contribute?
How does it taste? It's good. There is a hint of whisky, but it is not at all peaty. Mostly oak on the fore. The finish is sweet and caramelly. The color is a deep amber. There is very little carbonation.
Cost: $9.99 for a 12 oz bottle. That's no typo.
Cost Adjusted Grade: B. I know that it's not a six-pack beer. But $10 for a 12 oz bottle. Give me a break.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
For no particular reason, other than feel like it. I'm going to list the movies, give them a pithy phrase for an award, and match that phrase to a beer/wine/spirit. Admittedly, it's a goofy concept, but fun for me. Beware, here thar be spoilers!
The Watchmen: Almost a carbon copy. They basically filmed the comic, except they replaced the stupid ending with one that is slightly less stupid. The drink for this movie is The Yamazaki. It is a scotch style whiskey from Japan. You can almost swear that you are drinking Scotch.
Wolverine: Cliché, cliché, cliché. Really a shame, because Hugh Jackman rocks as the character, and it's got some cool stuff in it, but ultimately, you can tell it was written by a bunch of hacks. Just like the jackasses who write the labels for Brew Dog Beers.
Star Trek: Old is young again. Buckeye Beer The guys that relaunched the beer got an old-timer to tell them if they got the recipe correct. Cool story. Too bad the beer kinda sucks. The movie was good though, except for the stupid ice creature that popped up out of no-where so that Kirk could run into a cave and meet old Spock.
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince: Why did they change that award! I swore that I would finish watching the movies before I read the books. I know me, and I knew that I would get irked with what they changed. After I saw the Order of the Phoenix, I caved and read the books.
Why did they drop the opening scene from the book? It was exciting. When I read it, I kept thinking, I can't wait to see this in the movies. Bastards! The drink for this movie is Thomas Hardy Ale 2008. The 2007 was bitter, complex, and delicious. The 08 is syrupy. It's meant to be aged. Check back in 5, 15, and 20 years to see if it has improved.
Julie & Julia: The only chick flick that I have seen this year. And Thatcher's is really the only chick drink that I have reviewed.
District 9: Not as good as the hype, but pretty darned good. Sazerac Rye. District 9 was made out to be the greatest sci-fi concept in years. It just goes to show how low the bar has been set. It's great, but not end-all-be-all great. Sazerac is supposed to be THE RYE. It's good, but not the end-all-be-all of ryes.
Inglourious Basterds: Well made, but ultimately soulless. The first half had me riveted. But ultimately, while it's cool to kill Hitler, it makes your movie stupid and pointless. Every over-oaked Chardonnay gets this award.
This month, we had wines of Australia. Here's 8 quick reviews.
DeBortoli Sparkling Brut (100% Chardonnay) $9.99: This is very drinkable and right up my alley, both in flavor and price.
Cost Adjusted Grade: A
2008 Unwooded Chardonnay, McLaren Vale $16.99: The distributor said that is was light and fruity. It's easily overpowered by food and I found it to be flavorless.
Cost Adjusted Grade: D
2005 Turkey Flat Butcher's Block White Blend, Barossa Valley $22.99: This wine is 50% Marsanne, 50% Viognier. Tastes like 100% over-oaked Chardonnay.
Cost Adjusted Grade: F
2007 Turkey Flat Rosé, Barossa Valley $18.99: This has a buttery texture like a big Chardonnay, but a better flavor. One of the most unusual rosés that I have tried.
Cost Adjusted Grade: B
This is the point in the evening where the level of mingling makes it difficult to take good tasting notes. Not that my descriptions are all that wordy to begin with.
2007 DeBortoli dB Petite Sirah $8.99: It is a rare to find a red that is both cheap and tasty.
Cost Adjusted Grade: B+
2005 Pretty Sally Cabernet/Shiraz $14.99: Unmemorable.
Cost Adjusted Grade: C-
2008 Thorne Clarke Shotfire Ridge Shiraz, Barossa Valley $19.99: Big fruity inky red.
Cost Adjusted Grade: B
Willow Glen Tawny Port $9.99: It's a cheap port, and that's what it tastes like.
Cost Adjusted Grade: C-
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Here's the thing. I'm of the school that you stir a Manhattan. The Manhattan has 3 ingredients, and they are all liquor. You shake up the foo-foo drinks.
And if you are going to shake to a dance step, the cha-cha would be more fun.
2 parts rye cha-cha-cha
1 part vermouth cha-cha-cha
dash of bitters cha-cha-cha
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I discovered this horrific fact while putting my August case of wine together. But, I found another Grüner. It comes by the liter, and it's a pop-top too. The double bonus home-brew bottle re-use is in play.
Bottle Stuff: Light (yes) and fruity (is limestone a fruit?) Grüner Veltliner.
I like a label with no bullshit, except that the second adjective is bullshit.
Cost: $13.99 for a liter.
Cost Adjusted Grade: B
Double Bonus Cost Adjusted Grade: B
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Really? Yep. It's pretty good. These are the kind of finds that I get excited about. Stuck on an end cap next to the Sake and the crappy Ohio wines. (aka Kool-Aid)
Web stuff: Heritage a prestige wine, has introduced “Le Fleuron” as a wine for the daily consumption. Prestige table wine? The perfect blend of Cinsault 40%, Mourvèdre 10%, Carignan 10%, Tempranillo 10%, Syrah 10%, Cabernet-Sauvignon 10%, kitchen sink 10%, and Grenache 10% gives this red wine a very distinguished and unique character.
Ruby red color, clear and very brilliant. Nose of cherries with alcohol, red and black fruits with notes of perfumed jams. Rich mouth of red fruits with notes of herbs and cherry finish.
A very beautiful wine to be enjoyed with a wide range of foods. It is a perfect wine for the regular wine consumer.
How does it taste? Its starts like a Joan and finishes like an Adam.
Huh? Joan and Adam pick the wines for the Rapid Fire Friday's. They both have excellent taste, but Joan's are on the sweater side and Adam's more tannic. I'm sure that Adam is tired of me saying that this wine is tight, it needs to lay down for a while. This has a hint of berry on the fore and a peppery, oak finish.
Cost Adjusted Grade: B-
Monday, August 24, 2009
Pendleton is an oak barrel-aged whisky distilled in Canada using the finest ingredients eh. Before bottling, Hood River Distillers in Oregon adds only the purest glacier-fed spring water from Mt. Hood (Oregon’s highest peak eh) eh. Pendleton delivers an uncommonly smooth taste and a rich, complex flavor eh.
Pendleton Whisky was specifically created to celebrate the bold spirit of independence and hard-work ethic of the American cowboy and cowgirl in the lower 48 eh. It’s borne of the rich tradition of the nearly 100 year old Pendleton Round-Up, one of the most prestigious rodeos in the world eh. Each Pendleton Whisky bottle prominently features the rodeo’s famous bucking horse symbol and Let’er Buck slogan eh. You hosers will be from "Larry the Cable Guy's" lawyers eh. Get'er Sued™.
How does it taste eh? It's a real beauty. Nice vanilla flavor, but not complex.
Cost: Aboot $24.15
Cost Adjusted Grade: B
"Canadian whiskey is usually bad"Adjusted Grade: A- The joke's getting old eh.
My friends who gave me the Purple Haze came over to hang out around the fire and brought some old speckled hen. The beer was cold, the Manhattan's were strong, and the air was smokey. They redeemed themselves.
Label stuff: Named after an unusual, speckled vintage MG car, Old Speckled Hen is a Pale Ale which owes it's distinctive character and dry taste to a unique strain of yeast first used in 1896. The complex flavor reflects skills developed over 200 years of independent brewing history.
I can't find anything to mock. I better take my temperature to make sure that I'm not getting sick. Maybe after the next beer.
How does it taste? It is very bitter, the bitterness travels all the way to my nasal passages, which is an interesting experience.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Guigal Cotes de Rhone Blanc: $13.99. Not bad. C+
Don Pascal: $12.99 Tannic Red D
Tenuta Ferneta: $19.99 This Tuscan red will probably be good with 5 or so years of aging. Since I drank it today C+.
Trappist Rochefort 6, 8 and 10. The numbers have something to do with the alcohol content. I found a way to enjoy Belgian beers. Drink bad red wine first. It blocks whatever it is that I don't like. These were all good. B. I may buy one again and see if it was a fluke.
Booklyn Lager: I swear that they change the recipe every couple of months. At worst, it's a nice bitter lager. When it's good, it's kinda of complex, which you don't expect from a lager. This time out, it has a nice raisiny flavor with a clean bite and the end.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
My friend Sue brought a small bottle back from a vacation and gave it to me as a birthday present. Very thoughtful.
What does it taste like? Like a cheap grappa, with a hint of pear.
Is that a good thing? No. But I know a grappa drinker who needs to try it.
Are you still friends? Of course. It's something different and is much appreciated. I spoke to her about it and she thinks that it's pretty rough too.
Anything else? It packs quite a punch at 100 proof.
Birthday Present Grade: A
Monday, August 17, 2009
Food Pairing: Poultry, Spicy Only eat with spicy food if you do not want to taste the beer.
Tasting Notes: This unfiltered beer has flavors of orange and honey with a nice medium-sweet malt character.
3.5º Lovibond Do you expect me to talk? No, Mister Lovibond. I expect you to die!
Malts: Northwest 2-row, Wheat
Specialty:Oregon Wildflower Honey,Sweet Orange Peel, Oats, Chamomile, Coriander
Hops: Crystal & Rogue Farms Willamette.
Yeast & Water: Rogue’ s Top Fermenting Pacman Yeast from Hood River & Free Range Coastal Water.
Somer Orange Honey Ale is new to Rogue’s award-winning brews bringing with it an easy, year round drinkability. It’s unique recipe includes sweet orange peel and Oregon-indigenous Wildflower Honey from Wild Harvest Honey in Blodgett, OR, a mere 35 miles away from the Rogue Brewery in Newport, OR. This unfiltered beer is medium bodied with no harsh bitterness, it has flavors of orange and honey with a nice medium-sweet malt character. Featured on the bottle is Somer Gorder, a life-long Rogue with a non-conformist attitude and an insatiable appetite for adventure and risk. A true ambassador of Rogue. Somer Orange Honey Ale is dedicated to the Rogues who are about to discover that they are Rogues and change how they see the world. Alas, I see that we've lowered the bar on Rogue qualifications, in that, all you need is a diseased liver, a taste for overpriced beer, and a nice rack? What happened to a devil-may-care attitude with a heart of gold?
How about this joke?
I'm sure that she is quite nice, attractive, and only slightly resembles a mannequin in real life.
How is it? It's a nice session beer, but it's a tad overpriced for a session beer. I expect more from the big bottles. No real hints of orange or honey.
Price: $5.49 for 20 oz.
Cost Adjust Grade: C
Friday, August 14, 2009
Typically when I do a review, the beverage is sitting next to me as a I type. Therefore, these reviews will be really brief. I have to leave one white wine and one red off of the review because I can't read my own chicken scratch. They weren't anything special.
Stump Jump Verdello: $9.99. Thin. C-
Trentadue Old Patch Red: $14.99. Kinda fruity, but not a fruit bomb. It was a meh week. C.
Brew Dog Paradox: $10.99 for a 12 oz bottle. An excellent stout but way overpriced. It's the type of beer that you share as an after dinner drink. Flavor only grade. A. If it was cheaper, I'd buy it and do a more thorough review.
Brew Dog Hardcore IPA: $5.99 for a 20 oz. The first sip is good. But it ends up tasting salty like a cream ale. D.
Stone Anniversary Ale: It's reddish amber in color, which matches the web description. Good to know that I am not color blind. It has a nice hoppy aroma. The first taste is bitter on the tongue, and the bitterness keeps on coming. It's almost really good.
Great Lakes Independence Ale: Nice beer. Nothing to write home about. Kind of like an English bitter, which is a tad ironic.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Fermenter (a.k.a. bucket), stock pot, and bottle capper.
There is an up front investment, but it is well worth it. I used to use glass carboys. (big jugs) My local shop started carrying a plastic bucket with a built in spigot. This saves a step called racking. Racking is siphoning off your beer to leave the sediment behind. In this fermenter, the sediment settles below the spigot. Brilliant! It's also a large bucket, so I don't have to worry about overflow issues during fermentation.
The making of beer demystified.
- Boil grain extracts and hops.
- Remove the hops. Let cool, add water until you hit the 5 gallon mark on your fermenter.
- Add yeast and wait 7-10 days.
- Add some sugar and bottle.
- Wait another 2 weeks to drink.
Not pictured above are a couple of other helpful gadgets. One is a vapor lock. You stick it in the top of your fementer to allow gasses to escape, but it protects the beer from the outside air. Also, I highly recommend getting a bottle washer. Mine is installed in our laundry room utility sink. It's a brass contraption that pressurizes water and shoots it up into your empty bottle.
Is it cost effective? Look at the reviews below to see what a really good craft beer can set you back. I can make 5 gallons of that type of beer for $50-$70. So, the equipment pays for itself.
Explain grain extracts: You can buy canned or dry extracts. The old fashioned way of using raw grains is a lot of work, and I admire anyone with the patience to do it that way. It's not for me. You can make a tea from raw grains prior to cooking your extract to add extra flavor.
What's your recipe for this batch?
- 1 pound of rye. (grains for tea)
- 6.6 pounds (2 cans) of Muntons Light Malt Extract
- 1.5 pounds dried wheat extract
- 1 oz of Cascade hops. (Boil with the extracts for 1 hour)
- 1 oz of Saaz hops. (Boil for last 2-5 minutes)
- American ale yeast from Fermintis
- .5 oz Amarillo hops for dry hopping. (Add for two days at the end of fermentation. It adds more bitterness and flavor)
Any other hints? Making beer can be a sticky business if you are not careful. Slowly bring your mash to a boil to avoid it overflowing. Lay down old towels when you are bottling and transferring from the boil pot to your fermenter. Save empty pop-top bottles and caps so that you don't have to buy bottles. Caps can be reused as long as they are not too bent.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
The only one of the house rye contestant to have it's own cocktail. It's a whiskey that I personally felt had a lot of hype. A lot of the cocktail blogs over there on the right went on and on about it. I think that the Sazerac is the official cocktail of New Orleans. Which is odd, because it does not contain boobs or plastic beads. The first time that I tried it, I was very disappointed. It has proved to be pretty good over time. It's got a sweetness that is missing from the other rye's. I still think that it is a tad overrated.
Interesting enough, Sazerac is bottled by Buffalo Trace, which is in the queue for a review. It's a great bourbon, especially at it's price point. They also bottle Van Winkle's and other great bourbon's.
Web stuff: Sazerac Rye Whiskey symbolizes the tradition and history of New Orleans dating back to the 1800’s. Sazerac Rye Whiskey was used to make the original, first and only branded American Cocktail—The Sazerac.
Nose: Vanilla, clove, anise and pepper
Taste: Candied spices and citrus
Finish: Smooth, licorice and smoked pepper
The Manhattan: Sazerac interacts with the Angostura bitters better than the other ryes. I taste the bitters on the front end and the rye on the finish. Fascinating.
Cost Adjusted Grade: C+
Manhattan Grade: B
Weird quote from their home page: Without time, Satan's invention, the world would lose its sorrow of wait and its hope of wait.
Wine specific web stuff: Our 100% Torrontes wine exudes perfumed, floral aromas, enhanced by flavors of fresh pear, melon, pink grapefruit, peaches and honeysuckle (I think that it tastes like lemonade. Who doesn't like lemonade? Satan. Now that quote makes sense. Or does it?) lingering in the fruity finish. Pairs well with fresh fruits, all types of seafood and spicy Asian cuisine.
Cost Adjusted Grade: B+
Monday, August 10, 2009
It's been a mild summer here in Ohio. Until yesterday, when it hit the 90's. Of course, yesterday was our softball tournament and we ended up playing three games. It's a good thing that I coach and kept mostly in the shade. It's part of being a good coach. I stink, so DH for me.
We finished the game, and went to Coach's Bar & Grille and grabbed some Bud Lites to get rehydrated. Got home late, 9:30 on a work night, scandalous! Woke up this morning and drug my tired butt into into work. Now it's raining and muggy. Fortunately, my patio is covered. Time for a some a reasonably priced white wine while I mull over yesterday's bad umpiring. That ball was fair!
Label stuff: Marlborough's worst ever fire, (I blame the guy on the horse who is always smoking. The guy is smoking, not the horse.), Boxing Day 2000 (New Zealand's version of Wrestlemania), burnt 6000 ha, (Pretend that a hectare is a couch. That's what we burn after beating Michigan.) for over three days, killed thousands of stock and threatened the wine town of Blenheim, as well as a number of vineyards and wineries.
Disaster was avoided by the brave residents, of what is now known as Fireroad (I was wondering when this tale would become relevant to the wine), who battled the blaze, by using buckets and hand held hoses and were eventually assisted by a fortunate wind shift.
The Fireroad vineyards flourish in the same hot and dry climate that was the catalyst for such a mighty blaze. This Sauvignon Blanc is typical Marlborough with flavours of gooseberry, passion fruit, and honeysuckle. (Yeah, I don't know what any of those three taste like.) An ideal wine with fresh seafood or white meat.
Cost Adjusted Grade: B
Saturday, August 8, 2009
This is the kind of movie that can have two side-effects. People will be inspired to try to do something difficult, and blog about it. Others will stop because they suddenly feel inadequate. It's the Michael Spinks vs. Mike Tyson syndrome. You think that you are good, and then you get "knocked the fuck out" in round one.
I've cranked out 66 posts and this movie has me feeling self-reflective. Self-reflection is also an unfortunate side-effect of alcohol. At the moment, I'm stone sober. By the time I get to the end of this post, I'll probably have a small buzz. It's a drinking blog. What do you expect?
Back on topic. What in the hell is the point of this blog? I do a lot of reviews, but I don't consider myself a critic. I do critique/make fun of/rip mercilessly the marketing attached to the products. My smart-assitude (not really a word) is my hook. Who wants to read "This wine is good. I give it a B." over and over again?
Friends have said that I am a connoisseur, which is a word from which I shy away. (Proper grammar moment, at least I think so.) That word carries expectations, makes you out to be an expert, which I am definitely not. I enjoy and have opinions.
So what am I trying to do? I think that I'm trying to help people that are intimidated by the sheer number of choices out there. I'm fortunate to have a market near by that does weekly beer and wine tastings every weekend. I try 4 new wines and 4 new beers almost every week at a very cheap price. That's also why you don't see too many bad grades on this site. I don't make too many blind purchases.
Why else am I doing this? Ego is surely part of it. I hope that it's more than that. I'm the kind of person who feels good when he's made something. It can be a good meal, or a home improvement project, or db stuff for work. When you've done something well, it feels good. I kind of get that feeling from writing too. There is a small sense of accomplishment when you hit "publish post".
There's one more thing. I obviously enjoy drinking. There are so many specialized blogs for wine, beer, or cocktails. I don't want to limit myself. I'd be missing out on too much.
Update from Nov 09: I've read about half of the Julie/Julia blog. I can't say that I still feel inadequate as a blogger. Gotta give her props for cooking all of those dishes in one year. I'm just not that impressed with the material.
Didn't you promise a beer review mister sensitive? Yes I did. Thanks voice in my head.
Dogfish Head Chateau Jiahu
Label stuff: Malt bevarage brewed with honey and hawthorn fruit & fermented with grape concentrate. More details can be found here. Apparently, Indiana Jones was involved.
How does it taste? It's the Welch's grape juice of beer. If you like grape juice, this is the beer for you. It's not for me. Try their "Black & Blue" or "Red & White" instead.
Cost: $8.99 for 1 pint 9.6 fl oz.
Grade: D This was a rare blind purchase.
Cost adjusted Grade: I'm probably going to dump the bottle. Nuff said.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
I got the oldest daughter is in the clinic getting cured off the Wild Turkey.
What do you taste? The burn.
Manhattan? Still kinda burns. And I even cut it to 1½ parts rye because it's overproof.
Cost Adjusted Grade: D+
Manhattan Grade: C
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Website Stuff: Drier and spicier than it's sweet bourbon cousins. Rye adds character and depth to any whisky coctail. Pairs especially well with fruit flavors.
Taste: Peppery, with shades of cinnamon and mint. Shows a slight sweet side at finish. Just a bit.
How does it really taste? Almost just like they say on the website. Weird. I don't consider it peppery, just tannic.
Manhattan: It mellows out quite a bit in the Manhattan. The cinnamon comes to the fore.
Cost Adjusted Grade: A-
Manhattan Grade: B
Monday, August 3, 2009
Cost Adjusted Grade: B
Manhattan Grade: B
guar-who-a? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guarana Ooh, it has caffeine.
The label people think that they are clever: Dogma is an innovative, enigmatic ale brewed with guarana, poppy seeds and kola nut all blended together with Scottish heather honey. A conspiracy of transcontinental ingredients infused with some devastatingly BrewDog imaginative thinking. Have you ever watched the x-games? They always have these out-of-place thirty-something announcers talking about the gnarly front-side 1080's? I think those guys wrote this label. Devastating? Come on.
The flavours, intricacies and nuances of this beer are best enjoyed while musing over some obscure 17th Century philosophical meanderings, such as:
"If we disbelieve everything because we cannot certainly know all things we will do much, what as wisely as he who would not use his wings but sit still and perish because he had no wings to fly."John Locke. Needless to say, that is not what I am doing while I drink this beer. If you feel like doing that, leave this site and never come back. Education good. smug a-hole bad. Verbs, optional.
This beer is not cool. You may think it is, but that is just a beautiful lie fabricated by clowns and gypsies. These guys are tripping balls.
How does it taste? Pretty good. There is a slight cola flavor. It's nice and bitter.
Cost: $5.99 for 20 oz
Cost Adjusted Grade: A-