Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Yes. I drink beer, too.

I'd like to clear the air. There must have been some confusion last week with one of my posts. Somehow a wine snuck into a post on this blog. Some of you were shocked. I know. I must apologize for the abrupt, shocking and scandalous news. It is true. I drink wine. I'm not ashamed to admit it.

Are you sitting down? Brace yourselves...

I drink beer, too. I know. It's crazy, huh? Totally.

Over the years I have been slowly creeping away from the world of malted barley and hops. I'm not quite sure what the reason is. Maybe it's the blurred lines of demarcation between styles. It could be the unspoken challenge to out-brew the other guy with alcohol content and/or IBUs. Or it might be the rise in craft brewers becoming available that has me overwhelmed to the point where I can't keep up with the times. It seems that every time I turn around there is a new craft beer that I just HAVE to have. Frankly, it's exhausting. This is why I'm enjoying my old favorites, the old standbys. My comfort beers.

Brooklyn Lager
I was introduced to Brooklyn Lager in the early to mid 1990's when I started working in liquor stores. It quickly became one of my favorite beers after the first couple of sips. It's rich and malty with a great balance of floral hops. It makes for an amazing pairing with homemade/hand packed burgers. It's also rumored that I've been caught drinking this beer while grilling a spice rubbed New York Strip steak on my little 21" Weber grill in the back yard (that's four minutes each side and then let it sit for a few before slicing it into strips). The pairing is delectable.

Cisco Indie Pale Ale

I have never had anything I didn't like that comes from Cisco Brewers on Nantucket. It seems like they have the right formula for everything they make. I must admit that it is hard to choose just one beer from Cisco for the sole purpose of this blog post. In any case, I chose their Indie Pale Ale. What I like about this beer is its citrusy hop flavors that balance out the malty fruit. Indie is a great beer to grab if you're having Mexican, spicy Indian or even some Cajun BBQ. The higher level of hops seem to cool the heat of spicy dishes for me. It's also a great thirst quencher on a hot summer day if you're on an island somewhere off the coast of Cape Cod, my home away from home.

Thomas Hooker Blonde Ale

Since I seem to be "supporting the locals" this go around, I decided to stick with the theme and tell you about Thomas Hooker Brewing Company in Connecticut. It's located in Bloomfield, just outside of Hartford, if you were heading Northwest. Hooker makes some solid beer. They range from an Imperial Porter to their Old Marley Barlywine and then back to a Watermelon Ale that is just fantastic to beat the steamy summer heat. My favorite in the line up is the Blonde Ale. It's malty and creamy with just the right amount of hops to make it a crisp and clean brew.

Now that it's public that I drink wine and beer, you can be rest assured that I will still continue to tell you about amazing spirits. No worries. I think I'll just wait until the summer temperatures recede a little before I post another Scotch review. It's just too damn hot for that stuff. I'm done bellyaching now. You can return to your regularly scheduled program.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Joys of Summer

We bitch all Winter long about how cold it is. "It's the humidity that cuts right through you," we like to say as we slip  on the ice. When we thaw out a bit, we wonder where Spring went because we jump from 30-40 degree days one week to 80 degree days the next. Today it's damn near 100 degrees, 115 degree heat index with horrendous humidity, that YOU have to cut through. Stepping out of the air conditioning into heat like today is somewhat comparable to flying down a Slip-n-Slide right into a brick wall. Ahhh, the joys of Summer.

2009 Dr. Thanisch Riesling 

Even to a diehard spirits guy, if the day is so hot that a cocktail won't cool me down, I reach for a Riesling.

Without getting into too many confusing details about German wine labeling, I like Rieslings with a little bit of residual sugar. In most cases the cheat sheet is right on the label. Kabinett, Spatlese and Auslese would probably be the most common classifications of varietal ripeness found on wine shops shelves that don't necessarily specialize in Germanic wines. Generally speaking, Kabinett would be the driest, next would be Spatlese leaving Auslese to be the "sweetest"of the bunch. Look at the alcohol content. If you find one that has Spatlese or Auslese on the label, you might just find my hands wrapped around it.

Here are a few points why I love Riesling in the summer:

1. Ice Cold - There isn't anything else that compares to the pure refreshment. Just think of the kid in the picture above before he hits that brick wall. He looks likes he's beating the heat. 

2. Lower Alcohol Content - Any alcohol on a hot day can make you feel hotter. With Riesling you can actually have a glass or two without feeling uncomfortable, that is, if you enjoy it responsibly. You... sitting there at your computer. You know who I'm talking about.

3. Sweet Joy - I love sweet drinks in extreme heat. The residual sugar keeps my mouth watering. So. Ridiculously. Delicious.

4. On-The-Cheap - You can find some seriously good quality Rieslings for reasonable prices. A great range for some amazing wines is right around $15-$20.
"this guy"

In the end if you want my advice, the next time that you feel like "this guy", grab an ice cold bottle of German Riesling and join the club. Kick back, relax and get ready to chill out. Literally. 

P.S. I stole the slip-n-slide picture and the sweaty guy picture from the World Wide Intertubenetwebs if that wasn't already blatantly obvious. 

KAH - Fun With Tequila

Fancy bottles are fun. We like to look at them. We like to hold them. We like to remark about them. It is rare, though, that we like to drink what's inside of them. It's usually a low grade spirit or cheaply made wine that's disguised in some nifty little packaging designed by some marketing "guru". In any case, I bought into one brand blindly. KAH tequila just looked "too cool" to pass up.

The Blanco comes in the white skull. Reposado is painted yellow and their Anejo is an eery black skull. A good rule of thumb is that if you want to test the waters of a brand of tequila, try the blanco first. If the blanco is good, there is a good chance that the rest of the line is pretty tasty as well. Now, don't get me wrong. There ARE some exceptions to this rule. There are also a lot of things that a distiller can do to screw up what would be a perfectly acceptable tequila.

 I'd like to make a side note before I begin. It's a cool bottle. But, it is damn near impossible not to spill this tequila all over your friggin' table. So, grab some paper towels and get ready.

KAH Blanco
The Blanco is quite aromatic offering notes of sweet agave engulfed by grassy tones and hints of herbs. It's also viscous on the palate. I am underwhelmed with the initial lack of flavors on the front palate. Then it all creeps up on me in the middle. I get citrus, grass and alcohol. The finish leaves just a reflection of grass and herbs and a dusting of alcohol. To be honest, I thought this was better the first time that I tried it. If I remember correctly, it had more rich agave sweetness and it was more well balanced on the palate. Maybe I was thinking of a different tequila.

KAH Reposado

Okay. On to the Reposado. Yellow Skull = coolness. You have to admit that the yellow skull with the angry devil-demon-dragon thinger on its forehead it pretty serious. It's taunting you to indulge in its devilish libations within. So, as you irrigate your soul with this mighty Reposado, I must warn of it's alcohol content. The Reposado weighs in at a hefty 110 proof. There. I warned you.

If you can get passed the overwhelming aroma of alcohol, you might be able to find some spicy, herbal and floral notes hanging around and some vanilla over there in the corner. The palate seems to prove just as alcoholic as the nose. Once you get over that initial bite, honeysuckle, cinnamon and vanilla run over your tongue. The finish eases up a bit and exits with faint hints of citrus flavors.

I'm the kind of guy who doesn't need a crutch when drinking tequila. But, I bow down to this one. I doubt I'll be drinking this neat in the future. I'll be adding a few drops of water at the very least and possibly using this for a Cadillac Margarita. I'll let you know how that goes.

KAH Anejo
The black skull contains the Anejo. This is my favorite of the three levels. It's a welcome change to the heat of the Reposado. The Anejo is bottled at an easy to handle 80 proof. On the nose you can get more sweet agave, rich caramel, with notes of vanilla oak. The first sip reveals gentle oak and coffee followed by roasted agave with a lacing of sweet chocolate. The finish isn't incredibly long. It does tend to linger, though.

This line of tequila is definitely fun. If you are a bottle collector, you might want to pick up a bottle or two of these hand painted skulls. You could play pranks on your family and friends. May I suggest leaving one of them in your spouse's sock drawer? How about "forgetting" about the one you left in the spice cabinet to ward off the evil spice-eating-monster-troll-things? A friend of mine actually suggested mounting one on the hood of his truck for a hood ornament. There are a lot of fun things you can do with KAH Tequila. Be original and drink responsibly.