Paranormal IPA? Stone’s Ghost Hammer

Stone_Gost_Hammer_IPAOn the docket: 12 oz. can of Stone’s Ghost Hammer IPA

Poured into: Wine & Whiskey Country snifter

S:  A Lightly golden, somewhat hazy body stands beneath a white frothy head.  Decent lacing accrues on the sides of the glass, but the head dissipates, like a specter you’re not sure you saw.  Small zippy bubbles make their way to the top.

A:  A grapefruit citrus mixes with a subtle floral aroma.  A pinch of pine.

T:  Mirroring the aroma, citrus leads, followed by the floral component.  Interesting hop choice.  It finishes with a bit of cracker-y malt and firm but not bracing bitterness.
F:  Medium-light.  Gentle, but discernable carbonation.  Excellent bitterness to balance the malt.
O:  On the lighter side, but a smooth, easy-drinking IPA despite the 6.7% abv.  It’s a bit of a departure from what we expect from Stone, but that’s by no means a bad thing.  An intermediate-level IPA that will vanish quickly from your glass.  Ooooooo!

Suggested food pairing:  Arugula salad with sliced mango, tropical style roasted chicken, fruit tart, medium-sharpness cheddar.

One For the Now: California Project Pinot Grigio

California_Project_Pinot_Grigio

California Project Pinot Grigio, Non-vintage

5 ounces poured into:  Wine Country stemmed wine glass

Sight:  Very pale golden, clear, clean

Aroma:  Subtle nose of lemon, slight tartness

Taste:  A small thread of Meyer lemon, plus citrus, and light, zippy tart acidity

Feel:  Light, crisp.  What you want for casual company, a hot day, and a back deck

Overall:  Easy drinking, casual-consumption wine for those hot days on the deck, by the pool, or out in the sun

Suggested food pairing:  spring-mix salad with Meyer lemons, lightly-washed rind cheese, pasta with Alfredo sauce

Double Your Chocolate, Double Your Fun

Rogue_Double_Chocolate_Stout_My_Blog

On the docket:  Rogue’s Double Chocolate Stout

Poured into:  Dogfish Head goblet

S:  Opaque umber liquid fills up the glass, topped by a thick, mocha head.  Minimal lacing and staying power.  This is certainly not a fresh bottle, though the age is undetermined.  Particulate settles on the bottom bowl of the glass.

A:  Intense baking-chocolate aroma, malt sweetness, and a slight bright note from the Cascade hops.  Rich and inviting.

T:  As it warms, the chocolate is more apparent.  Supporting flavors also include a licorice note, in addition to a slightly mineral chalkiness.  Guinness-like.  Is that the chocolate malt and roasted barley?  There’s raisin here too, I thank the Caramel 120 malt.  The sweetness and chocolate exit eventually, leaving a dry-ish, slightly bitter finish.  Alcohol very well integrated, hardly noticeable.

F:  For a 9% stout, this is easy to drink and lighter than expected- most likely due to the rolled oats.  I do appreciate Rogue providing the grain and hop bill on the back of the bottle, as it helps parse out where the flavors originate.

O:  Big, bold, chocolatey sipper.  Ages well.  Considering the amount of snow on the ground as I type this review (~19 inches, the last great snow storm of 2017- in March no less!), I feel the libation a perfect way to combat the elements.

Suggested food pairing:  port-wine cheese, crème brûlée, Porterhouse steak dry rubbed in chocolate and coffee grounds, on its own as a “cocktail” beer

Franco-American Strong Ale

Some of you, quite rightly, are scratching you head and wondering, “did the BJCP codify a new style I’m unaware of?”  No, but I did.  As my second on-premises homebrew recipe, I am collaborating with my bother-in-law.  He’s French by birth, but I won’t hold that against him.  Our idea is something that is both French and American, something that reflects our heritages, and our common love for bold, complex, Belgian-y beer.  With a last name like Shoemaker, you may quickly deduce that I’m from German stock, and you’d be right.  Look below and you’ll find an ingredient that’s German- Avangard Pilsner malt.  American Magnum hops, used for bitterness, are German in origin.  The spices used are quite common in French cooking, and to tie it all together, a Belgian style yeast to handle the anticipated higher gravity and to dry out the beer.

This trans-Atlantic brew does not have a name yet, but something will come to us.  Have an idea for the name?  Leave it as a comment.   An added bonus, Benjamin (my b.i.l.) is an accomplished artist.  I’ve charged him with the responsibility of doing the label art.  Our brew date is this Saturday, 3/25/17 at 4 p.m.

Upon completion you can bet I’ll be reviewing the beer.  Will it come out like I’ve imagined it, or will it result in something entirely different?  We’ll see.

Recipe: RED SUPER SAISON F-A.S.A.
Brewer: JOHN SHOEMAKER
Asst Brewer:  BENJAMIN PERRAMANT 
Style: Saison
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (30.0) 

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Boil Size: 6.25 gal
Post Boil Volume: 5.00 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.00 gal   
Bottling Volume: 5.00 gal
Estimated OG: 21.6 Plato
Estimated Color: 15.1 SRM
Estimated IBU: 30.8 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 80.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 80.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amt            Name                                     Type    #     %/IBU         
13.00 lb       Pilsner Malt (Avangard) (1.7 SRM)        Grain   1     83.9 %        
1.00 lb        Crystal Malt - 60L (Thomas Fawcett)      Grain   2     6.5 %         
0.75 lb        Rye, Flaked (Briess) (4.6 SRM)           Grain   3     4.8 %         
0.50 lb        Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM)   Grain   4     3.2 %         
0.25 lb        Wheat - Soft Red, Flaked (Briess)        Grain   5     1.6 %         
0.75 oz        Magnum [13.30 %] - Boil 60.0 min         Hop     6     30.8 IBUs     
1.00 oz        Pepper Corns (Boil 7.0 mins)             Spice   7     -             
0.75 oz        Nutmeg (Boil 7.0 mins)                   Spice   8     -             
1.0 pkg        Belle Saison (Lallemand/Danstar #-)      Yeast   9     -             


Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 15.50 lb
----------------------------
Name              Description                             Step Temp.  Step Time     
Mash In           Add 19.64 qt of water at 169.9 F        154.0 F       75 min        

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun , 3.20gal) of 168.0 F water

Sure to Win: Victor Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon

Victor_Vineyards_2013_Lodi_Cabernet_Sauvignon_My_Blog

On the docket:  Victor Vineyards 2013 Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon 750mL

Poured into:  stemless aeration glass

S:    Red-violet meniscus that rings around a deep, intense ruby red body.

A:  At the first inhale one gets sweet black cherry jam. There’s some pleasing alcohol present.  Subtle spice.

T:  The black cherry continues, but not as jam-like on the palate.  There is an initial sweetness which gives way to earthy flavors, cocoa, and black pepper.  Oak is balanced, adding a modicum of vanilla.

F:  Smooth, fine-grain tannins and a full-bodied feel.  Supple.  Long finish of cherries and a dried herbal note.

O:  An affordable, pleasant Lodi cab.  Excellent on its own or with a simply prepared cut of beef.

Suggested food pairing:  Osso bucco, venison, berry fruit tart, Havarti

 

I See Windmills: Dutchcraft Vodka

Dutchcraft_Vodka

On the docket:  Dutchcraft Vodka Small Batch, Five Times Distilled (Winter Wheat) 40% a.b.v.

Poured into:  Wine & Whiskey Country glass

S:  Immaculately clear, no particulate.  Give it a swirl and it does develop legs.

A:  Just the slightest whiff of grain, and I mean slight.  Am I missing something?  I checked other reviews of this product, and the descriptors are riotously hilarious.  Amusing descriptions include: porcelain, rainwater, and even, get this- electrical charge.  Really?

T:  There’s a definite sweetness present, something I’d best describe as “marshmallow.”  For clarification- this is not flavored vodka.  In my mind, this type of spirit should be without any true taste, color, or aroma.  There is a slight aftertaste that I can’t quite define.  The same review citing those crazy aromas provide flavors of under ripe pineapple, mint jelly, and dried strawberries.  It makes me wonder if we’re comparing the same product.

F:  Very dry finish, and as vodkas go, quite smooth.  Slightly creamy.  Medium-bodied with a pleasant warming sensation.

O:  Excellent choice for value-priced vodka.  Skip the Ketel, go for this hidden gem.

 

Suggested food pairing:  caviar, sushi, mozzarella cheese, cured meat

They Make Wine in Austria? You Bet.

Wimmer_Gruner_Vertliner_2015On the docket:  Wimmer Grüner Veltliner 2015 1L bottle

Poured into:  Wine & Whiskey Country glass

S:  Pale straw and crystal clear

A:  Lime, honey dew melon, green pear, white pepper.  Bright and citrusy with a nice spice contrast.

T:  White peach and white pepper.  Green herbs, lime, more honey dew melon.  A slight vegetal bitterness.

F:  Great acidity, and zippy almost to the point you’d think it was sparkling.  Warming alcohol.  Medium-light body, refreshing.  Ends dry.

O:  Excellent wine for hot summer days for when you tire of Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio.

 

Suggested food pairing:  light vegetable dishes, Vietnamese spring rolls, fried chicken, schnitzel (classic)