Turn it Up to 11!

On the docket:  22 oz.  Clown Shoes/Schmaltz Brewing Collaboration:  Shoebelation

Poured into:  Evil Twin stemmed craft glassShoebelation_My_Blog

S:  A deep honey-brown body sporting crimson highlights.  The head wells up in a mocha cap with good staying power (exact bottle date unknown, but on the fresher side).  Lacing left behind is leggy and thorough.  The head eventually resides into a small outer ring and an island in the center of the glass.  Opaque, no bubbles observed.

A:  Complex aroma of vanilla, caramel, coconut and molasses.  Only a slight suggestion of piney hops.  Malty and sweet.

T:  Wow.  Lots of moving parts here.  Caramel candy sweetness, molasses, barrel contributions, hoppy bitterness on the end.  The breweries picked Wild Turkey bourbon barrels, and aged the blended beer for 2 months (info courtesy of quick internet fact-finding).  This is two different beers:  Billionaire, Clown Shoes’ English Barleywine, and Jewbelation Eleven, Schmaltz’s American Strong Ale.  I’ve tasted both separately, but long ago (and remember enjoying both).

F:  Full, rich, decadent.  Starts sweet but finishes with a lingering bitterness that makes you go back to the beginning with another sip.

O:  Typically collaborations end up less than the sum of their parts, but I feel this one did pretty well.  I’ll admit I’m a bit biased.  It’s got “Shoe” in the name of the beer.  Considering the amp and guitar on the label, is it really a coincidence they turned the abv up to 11(%)?  They needed that extra push over the cliff.

Suggested food pairing:  As an after-dinner drink, creamy bleu-cheese, beef stew, bread pudding, rock-mockumentaries

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Roll out the Barrell… Cask Strength Bourbon

Barrell_Bourbon_Cask

On the docket: Barrell Bourbon Cask Strength Batch 008b

Notes:  Aged for 10 years in American white oak barrels​

Mash bill: 70% corn, 25% rye, 5% malted barley

Poured neat into: Wine & Whiskey Country snifter

S:  Clear, golden-orange body.  Leggy- it should be at 128.3 proof!

A:  Orange zest, spice, vanilla beans.  A slightly green and fruity ester, perhaps from the chosen yeast strain.  Even when given moments to breathe, the complex alcohols are still very present.

T:  Mineral, caramel sweetness, hint of baker’s chocolate, expressive warming alcohol.  A bit of spice courtesy of the rye.
F:  Full, oily, earthy.  Very long finish.

 

With a drop of water:  A drop or two of cold, filtered water does an admirable job of taming this colossus of this cask strength bourbon.  Warming alcohol is still present, albeit in a sledge hammer-wrapped-in-velvet sort of way.  The corn component is more easily blended with the rye and caramel sweetness.
O:  Cask Strength Bourbon for cask strength enthusiasts.  Even with a rest of 10 years, this beauty still has plenty of life.

Suggested cigar pairing:  Arturo Fuente Don Carlos, other similar, full-bodied cigars

 

 

 

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

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)