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

 

 

 

Oh, have you not Herd? It was my understanding that everyone had Herd!

Bolero_The_Herd_My_BlogOn the docket:  Bolero Snort’s IV Anniversay, The Herd 750mL

Poured into:  Dogfish Head craft goblet with enough vigor to produce a head, but as not to disturb the yeast from the bottom of the bottle.

Sight:  A deeply gingerbread body fills the glass with a quick-forming khaki head.  As dark as it is, there’s nice evidence of carbonation, tiny, delicate bubbles well up from the base.  A few seconds later, the head dissipates to a tightly hugging ring and a storm-front mass of suds on top.  Further insepction reveals a lovely reddish hue to the body.  No lacing, but hey, it’s a 10.5% abv drink.  Taking a look at the bottle, one can observe a ring of  yeast sediment on the bottom.

Aroma:  Intense, sweet malt.  Almost rootbeer-like spicy sweetness.  Just a fleeting sense of vanilla and gentle perfume of esters and alcohol.  Molasses.  Dark purple fruit note.  Yep, the plums are there.  No hop presence.

Taste:  Much of the aroma follows through to the palate.  Malt and sugar sweetness, on the fuller side of the style.  Pleasant warmth from alcohol which keeps it from becoming too sweet.  The plum note manifests as part of a “fruitcake” sort of fruitiness, along with the yeast.

Mouthfeel:  Highly carbonated, with very fine bubbles, not sharp and biting.  Finish is moderately dry with a slight bitterness, bringing another means of balance.  Medium-full body.

Overall:  More abbey-style than Trappist, a nice New-World interpretation.  This is not your father’s Chimay.  A great way to celebrate four years… at least that’s what I herd.

Suggested food pairing(s):Mongoian beef and broccoli, port-wine cheese, filet, raspberry chocolate cheesecake

Black Lagers Matter: 100th Blog Post!

To my devoted fans, my new fans, and future fans, welcome to my 100th blog post.  You didn’t think I’d make it here, did you?  Well, I’m happy to say, the time has arrived.  In honor of such a momentous occasion (in my head at least), I felt it only right and proper to do a beer review.  This one is partially in honor of my heritage, my fondness for dark beer, and of course, because my freakin’ awesome wife bought not just the beer, but the container in which this marvelous libation dwells (though soon, it will have a new home, in my stomach).  As her Valentine’s gift to me, she bought me a ceramic, 64 ounce growler from Barley Creek Brewing Co. and filled it with one of their year-round favorites of mine:  Angler Black Lager.  Below is the review:

barley_creek_angler_black_lager

Angler Black Lager

On the docket:  Barley Creek Brewing Co.’s Angler Black Lager

Growler filled:  2/13/17

Poured into:  Lone Eagle Brewing Co. craft glass

Sight:  From a long way off, you’d swear the glass held the darkest stout in the world.  But come closer.  A more attentive inspection screams walnut hardwood or if you want to get esoteric, bistre (sooty brown) with reddish-orange highlights.  The head, though short lived is a quick-forming beige cap.  Lacing is braille-like and delicate.  The cap recedes into a swirl of suds and a small conclave of bubbles on one side of the glass.  The body is dark enough to prohibit the detection of bubbles rising to the surface.

Aroma:  Malt is definitely the star here, as this beer yields an aroma of darkish baker’s chocolate and cocoa powder.  There’s a slight suggestion of roasted coffee, and an earthiness that reminds me of either tobacco or leather.  Either is fine.

Taste:  Closely mirroring the aroma, is a malt-driven brew.  Chocolate, sweetish malt and a hint of brown or pumpernickel bread.  The slightest trace of caramel.  There’s a roundness here that’s appealing.  Only on the end do the hops make an appearance in the bitter balance to all the smooth, dark malt flavors.

Mouthfeel:  The commonly held misconception is that dark beers are heavy.  Well, some are.  But this?  This is light, elegant, and dances on the tongue, a medium- on the body.  Fine carbonation.  Crisp, smooth finish– just like a lager should have.

Overall:  Is it an imperial, barrel aged stout with vanilla, coffee, cocoa nibs, and blessed by a priest?  NO.  This is a fine example of a beer style that receives way too little attention in the beer world:  Schwarzbier.  For those that love lagers, for those that love German beer, for those that love dark beer, for those that love session-able beer (5.2% abv), this beer is for all of you.

Suggested food pairing(s):  banana chocolate-chip pancakes (beer with breakfast anyone?!), coffee-encrusted flank steak, smoked wurst, sharp English or Irish cheddar, chocolate-pecan terrine

 

 

Rye Sense of Humor: High West Double Rye!

High West Double Rye!

High West Distillery’s Double Rye!

On the docket: High West Distillery’s Double Rye! (46% a.b.v.), a blend of a 2 year old and 16 year old rye.

Poured into: Manhattan cocktail glass

S:  Honey-apricot with just the barest hint of haze plus a fleck or two of particulate.  A note, this is not chill filtered.  The aforementioned process is used to produce a more brilliant color, but robs the spirit of congeners, compounds that help impart favorable flavor.

Let me say something about the bottle:  The bottle has microscopic air bubbles trapped inside, its surface.  It’s dimpled; giving it a rustic, rugged look.  The logo of the distillery in addition to some of the lettering is textured on the glass.  Nice presentation.

A:  The description on the back of the label is quite surprising, citing evergreen, gin, clove, anise, and eucalyptus buttons to name a few flavors.  I certainly a get green, floral element in the aroma, in addition to a sweet corn bourbon-esque note.  Also present in a spicy, earthy component that no rye should be without.

T:  Mirroring much of the aroma, I detect young, green nearly minty flavors.  They subside and the more mature, corn-heavier 16 year old sweetness helps to smooth out the spice.  The finish is slow and pretty long, the heat taking its time to build on its way down the throat.  The clove and anise are most noticeable on the lips and the tongue long after you take a sip.

F:  Full, coating.  Sip this slowly, and it might be a great, natural cough remedy.

O:  Do I like it?  Certainly.  Had this been just the young, brash 2 year without its partner, the 16, I’d deem it undrinkable.  However, High West was wise to blend this spirit in this fashion.  It’s flavorful, it’s affordable, and a thoughtful example of what a blended straight rye whiskey can offer.

Suggested pairings:  Spice cake, my ideal sandwich from my previous post, sweet vermouth in the form of a Manhattan

 

More Powerful Than a Lauter Tun: Jersey Girl Brewing Co.’s Rake Breaker

jg_rb_2017

On the docket: 16 oz. can of Jersey Girl Brewing’s Rake Breaker

Poured into: Wine & Whiskey Country snifter

S:  Honey-gold, reminiscent of peach juice.  Hazy, murky, unapologetically New-England in color and appearance with a nice thick cap of head.  I can’t see the bubbles, I’m sure they’re there.  Not a huge amount of lacing, but it’s present in delicate, icing-drip fashion.

A:  Aromas of apricot, tangerine, and peach rocket into your nostrils.  You can detect this heady mélange from nearly a foot away.  A slight malty sweetness creeps out from behind the hops, which are clearly the star of the show.  Stick your nose in the glass when you’re done (and before you pour the next can)- divinely grainy aroma sticks around.

T:  Closely following the aroma, the taste is very juice-like with nearly candied apricot and peach.  Nearly no malt presence at the outset.  After it warms a bit in the glass, there is a slight cereal presence- must be the oats.
F:  Medium-full, despite a fluffiness on the tongue, coupled with a smooth, refined (NOT FLAT) carbonation.  There’s enough bitterness present to provide a nice contrast to the prominent, fruity flavors.

O:  Fans of incredibly hoppy, incredibly bitter West Coast style IPAs should reconsider what it means to brew an IPA.  This version of many craft drinkers most cherished style is large and in charge.  Fruity, tropical, easy to drink.

Suggested food pairing:  Hawaiian pizza, Asian salad with mandarin orange wedges, toast points with orange marmalade, fresh fruit with heavy cream, jalapeno-cheddar cheese

Bonus idea:  Combine with a touch of Cointreau or peach schnapps, garnish with appropriate fruit slice, and you have two ridiculous beer cocktails.

All New Content, Same Great Blogger

 

 

Happy New Year!  I hope you all are off to a great start for 2017.  I know I am.  With another year comes a bit more wisdom, experience, change, and set of goals.  The biggest goal and the biggest change?  I am branching out from the world of beer reviews to cover what I like to call the earthly trinity:  wine, spirits, and of course, my first love- beer.  Closely linked to the first goal is a renewed energy and variety.  It will not necessarily be an even rotation, but learn to expect and dare I say, anticipate non-beer reviews here.  Why, who knows, I may start to sound like I know a thing or two about wine after a few reviews.

Granted, there will still be picture, pithy prose, and the occasional delve into a particular style or history for adult beverages.  Think of this site as a more robust, comprehensive look into the finer drinks in life.

Upcoming articles will include:

  • My favorite cocktail, the Manhattan
  • Californian Chardonnay
  • Beers for deep winter
  • Beer myths
  • Spirit-barrel aged wine

Raise a glass to 2017 and a revamped John Shoemaker’s Beer Reviews (other alcohol reviewed also)!