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)

Bored? Oh, Try this Wine

Chateau_L'Eglise_Saget_2014_My_BlogOn the docket:  Chateau L’ Eglise Saget 2014 Bordeaux 750mL (60% Merlot / 40% Cabernet Sauvignon)

Poured into:  stemless aeration glass

S:    A pink meniscus above a garnet/currant body.  Deep color, inviting.

A:  Dried red cherry, a touch of mineral-earth and vanilla.

T:  Much of the aroma carries over into the palate with an addition of a delicate tartness reminiscent of cranberries.  Darker note of plum.

F:  While the merlot provides the fruit, there no bones about it- the cabernet brings the structure.  Smooth, refined tannins carry over into a medium-long finish.  The body has some weight on the palate, but it’s not overbearing.  Medium.

O:  Simple, elegant, smooth and luxurious.  This is a fine example of how just two varietals blended in the right ratio can please any wine enthusiast.

Suggested food pairing:  Mushroom Swiss burger, white cheddar, chicken liver (for the brave)

A Reader Replied! Awesome!

A few days ago, a reader of my blog replied to one of my more recent posts, the one with the provocative title.  The reader sent me a link to an article that discussed how people in the beer world (and other arenas) are appropriating the phrase “black lives matter.”  The reader also explained that while they routinely enjoy my content, they felt uneasy about my choice of titles.  It gave me pause, and I understand and acknowledge their opinion.  This is why I’m a little slow in posting.  However, I will not be changing the title of my blog post.  What I will do however, is explain my views of the preciousness of life, briefly.

It’s not often that I delve into political issues on this blog.  Afterall, it’s about beer.  But, I do want to go on the record and detail my stance on a few things.

All lives matter:  regardless of color, creed, religion, race, age, and lifestyle preference- unless that preference happens to be in the pursuit of causing carnage, fear, and mass casualty.  At that point, I feel your life is forfeit.  On the flip-side of the spectrum, I wholeheartedly believe that unborn lives matter.  My belief that unborn life matters is so strong that this first determines whom I vote for in races for public office.

So, why exactly would I title what most people consider a trivial subject (beer) with such a lightning-rod of a phrase?

Actual black lagers, properly named schwarzbiers, are a German style that receives little consideration outside the world of craft aficionados (and inside the world of craft aficionados for that matter).  They’re not usually brewed with weird ingredients, barrel-aged, or possess double-digit abv.  But, when properly executed, they are flavorful, sessionable, unique beers that show a) dark doesn’t have to mean heavy AND b) all lagers aren’t boring, pale, rice/corn laden cans of swill.  For this reason, I wanted people to sit up and take notice of one of my favorite styles.

Perhaps this attitude is changing, albeit slowly.  A week ago I got an email message that Barley Creek Brewing took first place for their Angler in the black lager category at the United States Beer Tasting Championship.  For those of you lucky enough to have tasted it, you understand why.

The attitude toward black lagers may also be changing in the macro-beer world as well.  Not long ago Sapporo put out a black lager to add to their lighter lager options.  Pleasantly surprised this happened, I bought can consumed a few can just satisfy my curiosity.  Smooth, crisp, and easy to drink, I must say.

Appreciate lagers and share my belief that all life matters?  Let me know.  Your comments will be moderated to keep things friendly.