Friday, September 25, 2009

September/October Assignment

Okay, yeah I know... I'm late -- but, it's not like everyone jumped on the last couple of assignments...

So, here's a two-fer -- September & October rolled into one.

I'd like you all to review/recommend/experiment with a fall cocktail. It doesn't have to be wine -- it can be your favorite fall cocktail, Oktoberfest beer, cider, wine, recipe..... c'mon the rules are loose here at The Whinery -- have a ball with it.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Something berry this way come....

It all began with my company's summer outing..... a summer picnic on September 17th.... yes, our summer picnic was in the late part of September..... I don't know, just accept it and move on, okay -- I have.... well, sorta.

Because it was a "summer" outing, I really wanted a summer beer -- so I went to the local Mom & Pop package store to see if they might have something left. It's one of those hole-in-the wall kind of places that totally overcharges, but... if they have what you want -- you'll suck up a few extra bucks.

Low and behold, they had one six-pack of Harpoon Summer left -- SOLD! But, I can't walk into my summer outing with a six-pack.... I'd NEVER hear the end of that -- it would be the stuff of workplace-urban-legend..... "Remember the time MrsBigDubya showed up with a six pack..... how cheap is she??? " -- so I scanned around to see if anything else caught my eye and I saw Sam Adams Blackberry Witbier..... hmmm.... I'm intrigued..... blackberries are summer-esque, right? so yeah -- it works for me.

Of course, I've had berry beers before.... raspberry beers tend to be too sweet, blueberries seem to crave balance -- they are usually either too much blueberry or well, not enough -- and cranberry..... just tastes weird. I was honestly not expecting much from a blackberry beer -- figured I'd have one -- either like it or not and then move on to the guy who brought a case of Corona.

Thing is -- I actually liked it. The scent was more sugary than the taste -- the flavor was crisp, sweet -- but not sticky sweet, there was a hint of orange so the tang of the citrus offset the sweetness of the blackberries nicely -- and, it still tastes like beer, unlike Sam's Cherry Wheat which I found to be so sweet that it lost it's "beer-ness"

Beer Advocate
only rates this beer a B-. I'm not a beer connoisseur by any stretch, but I know what I like and I think B- is a bit unfair -- I'd say B+ and other sites I've looked at have been quite a bit kinder in their commentary.

Let's put it this way.... all twelve of my beers were gone when I left.... and I picked up another six of the Blackberries to enjoy while I watched the Patriots/RedSox games on Sunday.

Bottom line -- I'd say that you should give Sam's Blackberry Witbier a whirl.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


My brother once commented that people are going to think all I do is drink. My reply? I do it for the readers. I'm punishing my liver and adding to the girth around my middle so you don't have to. I'm out there, on the front line, trying beers and equally bettering and battering my tastebuds so you can go into your local packie well-informed, ready to make a decision on what adult beverage to take home and enjoy. I'm doing it for Johnny, man! (RIP Darrell Curtis). I'm selfless like that.

And since my last beer review in July...JULY!?!, this post is gonna be loaded (pun most certainly intended). Anyway, since my last review in July, I have been a busy, busy man. Oh sure, I've had favorites in the fridge at all times: Torpedo (if I turned you on to this fantastic Extra IPA, I'll expect some sort of thank you in the comments), Sam Summer, Harpoons of varying style, and so on. But I've also been trying out some other micros and regional offerings. So, let's get to it, shall we?

Woodstock Inn, Pemi Pale Ale: I've taken to trusting the recommendations of the clerk at the liquor store at the bottom of the hill from our house. He has noticed that I like the hoppier brews on the market and, if I'm appearing undecided on a particular Saturday afternoon, he will make some suggestions. Recently, he mentioned Pemi Pale Ale from Woodstock Inn Brewery. The Brewery is part of the Woodstock Inn Station & Brewery in North Woodstock, NH. The Brewery also offers brewers weekends during which you get hands-on instruction in the fine art of beer making. Anyway, I thought this a good opportunity to try out one of their many offerings - we will be in that area for Thanksgiving - before we visit. The description on the web site is rather thin: Best Pale Ale in the Northeast and second overall in the Country at the United States Beer Tasting Championships. Pale amber in color with O.G. 1.057 / 56.4 IBUs / 5.7%abv. Um...ok...guess I'll just have rely on my own description. The Pemi pours a deep amber, bordering on red, color and has a full head that dissipates rather quickly however. It has an aroma that is citrusy with a hint of pine. The hops are also present and there is a faint odor of malt; somewhat bready but not a prominent or powerful aroma by any means. The fruity/citrussy qualities are again present in the first sip, but they are blunted by the presence of hops and their bitterness that immediately follow.  Malt is there as well, but only subtly and is entirely gone on the finish. It's nowhere near has hoppy as the Torpedo or some other bolder IPAs (that's evident in its IBU of 56.4), but it is a solid offering nonetheless. I can say that this beer intrigued me and I am looking forward to popping into the brewery in November - their newest brew, Through Hiker Double Rye Pale Ale, has peaked (ha! get it? hiker...peaked? yeah, I know.) my interest.

Newport Storm, Kim (Cyclone Series): I see Newport Storm everywhere and, yet, have never tried it. As the breweries roll out their fall/Octoberfest offerings, I figured I would give this Märzen style a try. During this time of year, if you were to open the "beer fridge," you would find Sam Octoberfest or Harpoon's offering of the same name lining the shelves. Honestly, as far as beer seasons go, I am in my glory now. This is the time of year for heavier, bolder choices - a time of year when crisp and refreshing are supplanted by warming and comforting. Kim does not disappoint. Dark orange, sort of rusty color with an off-white head, Kim appears to retain some of its yeastiness near the bottom of the glass - it gets hazier the lower you go in the glass. It has aromas of malt (natch) and caramel. There is also a nuttiness that is faint but present, as well as a mild hoppiness - I don't get as much on the hops side as other reviewers have, though. I can taste the malts right away which is to be expected - it is a Märzen after all. But I was surprised by a taste that was hoppier than expected. Not that I mind. It's fuller, breadier, in the mouth and that tones down the 7.9% ABV meaning no "alcohol burn" going down. Overall a very nice lager - if you see in a store near you, pick it up - it won't be around very long.

Sierra Nevada Kellerweis: For fans of authentic (read: German) hefeweiss (hefeweizen, Hefeweißbier), you usually have to search far and wide for a decent liquor store that stocks offerings with -brauerei on the label. I've tried enough American offerings to feel comfortable saying, "Meh, they're okay, but they didn't wow me." Not anymore. Sierra Nevada (which is quickly becoming my brewery di tutti breweries) has unleashed upon the world Kellerweis "the only American Hefeweizen made using the traditional Bavarian style of open fermentation." Well, slap me on the ass and call me Shirley. Thank. God. The Kellerweis pours a big yellow to orangey color with a nice, frothy head. Be sure and follow the directions on this one: pour 2/3 into a glass, swirl and pour remainder - that way you are sure to get every bit of yeasty goodness. The aroma always takes me back to Capo's in Neu Ulm where I had my first hefe: bananas, spices (cloves in particular), yeast, malts and citrus. Taste is nearly the same but with a faint note of hops as well. This is a complex brew, make no mistake about it. All-in-all an admirable weißbier entry from Sierra Nevada - certainly among the best (if not the best) American offerings.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Another Lost Angel

"Oh, Lord why doesn't this come in a bigger bottle?"
--- Honest first words upon sipping a glass of Lost Angel 2006 Petite Syrah

It's been a while since we killed this bottle of Lost Angel. I can't remember what we had for dinner or even if we had dinner. It might have been a wine entree night. But when I took my first sip of this petite syrah, I was hooked. I wanted another. I wanted it intravenously. Scratch that. Intravenously would not allow me to taste it. I wanted to funnel it. It needed it to come in a barrel so I could do keg stands. Wait. Do wine drinkers DO keg stands?

I don't claim any sort of wine snobbery. I'm a beer drinker by birth - I believe there are still trace elements of Schlitz coursing through my veins or attached to my DNA (thanks, Dad!). I say this as a matter of disclaimer. Just because I like a particular bottle of wine (or beer for that matter) does not necessarily mean that you will like it or even that it's a good bottle of wine. You should never take my reviews as gospel. I've been known to drink Boone's Farm out of a paper bag and to have chanted "What's the word?" "THUNDERBIRD!" Oof, just disclosed my inner monologue...moving along now.

All that being said, I do like the Lost Angel 2006 Petite Syrah (Sirah). According to the tasting notes, the varietal was harvested in September 2006 and aged for 12 months in neutral oak barrels. One good whiff is all it takes to identify the raspberries and cherries as well as some floral notes. But it was its taste that got to me. I could taste the cherries and raspberries, but there were some richer, darker elements as well, chocolate primary among them. I half-expected to have this wine disappoint me on the finish - there's gonna be some acidic aftertaste or it's gonna burn all the way down. I was so happy this wine dope slapped my cynical nature. It had a medium finish wherein there were some subtle spices and tobacco and a slight earthy flavor just like the tasting notes mentioned would be there.

In short, I like this wine and for the $11 I think you should go out, find a bottle and give it a try. It's a nice casual wine that can be opened any time. Hopefully, you too will wish it came in a bigger bottle.