Tasting Notes: Island Mango Twist from Garage Brewing Co.

GarageIMTPour_editedFor this installment of Tasting Notes, we enjoy an at-home tropical getaway from our social distancing routine thanks to a few cans of Island Mango Twist from Garage Brewing Co. (Temecula, California).

Meant to magically whisk you away from whatever daily life can throw at you, Island Mango Twist is a Hefeweizen “crafted with a twist of mango, pineapple and coconut.”  Coming in at a highly drinkable 5.2% ABV, Island Mango Twist is here to “take you on an island vacation without even leaving your couch” . . . which is super convenient now that we are all being asked to shelter in place during this whole COVID-19 situation.

Island Mango Twist is available now for a limited time.  You can expect to find this Seasonal offering available in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans, 22 oz. bottles and on draft at select craft beer-focused establishments located within Garage Brewing Co.’s distribution footprint in Southern California and Las Vegas, Nevada.

Now that we all know a little of the info behind the beer, let’s crack open a can and daydream about an island vacation over some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Island Mango Twist from Garage Brewing Co.

Appearance: Island Mango Twist pours a bright, gold-tinged orange in color and is topped with just over two fingers of lush, white foam. When held to direct light, those golden hues take over and leave just a bit of orange to rest at the core of the beer.  This brew is sporting that beautiful, OG Hefeweizen haze/cloudiness, but a spritely carbonation presence can still be seen dancing within.  Head retention is good, eventually falling to a complete top cap that draws spindly lines of lace on the glass at times.

Aroma: Classic Hefeweizen character surfaces first with a good amount of banana and a touch of bubblegum. A coconut presence then brings a tropical breeze of coconut water and sweet coconut meat.  Mango, pineapple, and a bit of papaya closes out the profile with a lively burst of fruitiness.  This beer basically smells like you just peeled back the foil seal on a tropical fruit cup.

Taste: Mango and pineapple lead the show here, quickly establishing a solid and juicy tropical vibe. That vibe intensifies as the coconut offers just the right amount of complementary rich creaminess but without overpowering the fruits.  The Hefeweizen base closes out the experience with a healthy, lasting pop of banana.

Mouthfeel:  On the fuller side of medium in body with a lively carbonation, this Hefeweizen is soft and pillowy in texture but still moves quickly across the palate to find a somewhat dry finish. The balance does lean to the sweet side, but it really could not get any more perfect considering the added fruits and coconut. The 5.2% ABV is super light, only hinting at a grace of heat in the throat at times.  The aftertaste is all banana and coconut.

Final Thoughts: Island Mango Twist does a fantastic job of being unmistakably tropical while avoiding being overly sweet. The Hefeweizen style proves to be an ideal base for this beer as it carries the tropical fruit and coconut well, adds those wonderful banana notes, gives the beer a lush feel and weight, and also adds a sense of balance. This results in an experience that has all the tropical notes you crave from a tropical/tiki-style mixed drink, but with the ABV and drinkability of a session beer. All in all, Island Mango Twist is a perfect go-to beer to enjoy by the pool or on the couch while binge-watching whatever show you are trying to catch up on during this whole stay-at-home situation.  Stay well, be safe, and drink on some Island Mango Twist if you get the chance.  Prost!

 

Tasting Notes – Spirits Edition: Porter’s Small Batch Rye from Ogden’s Own Distillery

PortersRye3x800For this special Spirits Edition of Tasting Notes, we find a little escape from all the worries floating around the world these days by getting momentarily lost in a dram of Porter’s Small Batch Rye from Ogden’s Own Distillery (Ogden, Utah).

Developed to be the first non-flavored whiskey to join the Porter’s portfolio, Porter’s Small Batch Rye is a Straight Rye Whiskey that is comprised of a “95/5 blend of rye and barley . . . to deliver well-balanced flavor.”  Aged for over three years in heavy charred, new oak barrels . . . at 111 proof,” Porter’s Small Batch Rye is finished by being “blended down to 90 proof with Ogden’s Own Distillery’s signature water blend.”

Produced as a limited run of just 1,000 cases, Porter’s Small Batch Rye is available now in 750ml bottles adorned with “labels made from a real wood veneer.”  You can expect to find this Limited Release offering at fine liquor retailers located in Utah, Idaho, Nevada and Michigan. Bottles of Porter’s Small Batch Rye can also be ordered online through Hi-Time Wine Cellars (shipping available to CA, AZ, CO, FL, HI, ID, MO, ME, NE, NM, OH and WA).

Now that we are all caught up on how Porter’s Small Batch Rye was made and how we can get it, let’s pour a little into a fancy glass and see how it all comes together over some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Porter’s Small Batch Rye from Ogden’s Own Distillery

Appearance: Served neat and at room temperature into a shaped whiskey glass, Porter’s Small Batch Rye pours a honey gold in color.  When held to direct light, that honey-like hue brightens and glows softly.  This whiskey is absolutely pristine in clarity.  When jostled about in the glass, the liquid leaves a slick, wide-sweeping arc that drops thin, quick-moving tears back down into the pour.

Aroma:  Rye immediately hits the nose with an array of spicy, peppery notes that are complemented by toasted, bready grains.  Sweeter tones of caramel and tropical/citrus fruit then bloom a bit. The wood character then surfaces with light notes of vanilla and fresh oak.  Straight booze and a touch of dill spice round out the profile.

Taste:  Spicy rye takes lead here as well by supplying big notes of black pepper, clove, cinnamon and baking spice.  The barrel then smooths out those spicier/sharper edges with vanilla, caramel, toffee and oak. A dollop of honey adds a bit more sweetness while a twist of lemon brightens things up a bit.  The dill character that surfaced in the nose is light, but it does hide in the background at times.  The experience closes with some bready grains and a touch of herbal black tea.

Mouthfeel:  Medium in weight, this whiskey softly coats the palate for a moment, but it dries out nicely. Heavy on the spice at times, it does eventually find a nice balance thanks to the sweeter notes coming off the barrel and grains.  Although the nose was filled with booze, the 45% ABV is actually pretty tame on the palate and only offers a gentle warmth in the throat and belly.  Black pepper and caramelized grains are left to linger in the aftertaste.

Final Thoughts:  Despite having only aged in barrels for three years, Porter’s Small Batch Rye surprisingly drinks with a balance that you would expect from an offering that has spent a little more time on oak.  Sure . . . the nose comes across a little hot and boozy and the overall experience is filled with plenty of punchy, spicy rye character, but this younger Straight Rye Whiskey is mellowed out nicely with a hefty infusion of barrel-sourced notes of vanilla, caramel, toffee and oak.  This creates an enticing sip that can easily appeal to lovers of Rye Whiskey and also Bourbon fans who are looking to branch out into rye.  Add in the fact that this is an incredibly reasonably priced Straight Rye Whiskey (currently going for only $18.99 a bottle over at Hi-Time Wine Cellars), and it suddenly becomes really difficult to find a reason to not give this limited-edition offering a shot at making your home bar’s roster.  Seriously, make sure to keep Porter’s Small Batch Rye in mind the next time you are on the hunt for a Straight Rye Whiskey.  Prost!

Tasting Notes: Three Harvest Fresh Hop Double IPA from Wild Leap Brew Co.

WildLeap3HarvestPourFor this installment of Tasting Notes, we freshen up our weekend with a few cans of Three Harvest Fresh Hop Double IPA, a special collaboration project from Wild Leap Brew Co. (LaGrange, Georgia) and Extreme Hops AL (Auburn, Alabama).

Named after “the number of harvests that the hydroponic hops will have each year,” Three Harvest is a Double India Pale Ale featuring “fresh Cascade hops directly off the hop bines” at Extreme Hops AL.  Thanks to the use of “a hopping process new to Wild Leap,” Three Harvest (8.2% ABV) comes together to be an “easy-drinking and juicy Double IPA” that boasts “a citrus-forward aroma and classic Cascade grapefruit and pine flavors.”

Three Harvest Fresh Hop Double IPA officially debuted in early February and will be available only as long as supplies last.  You can expect to find this Limited Release offering available in 12 oz. cans and on draft at select craft beer-focused establishments located within Wild Leap’s distribution footprint in Georgia.

Now that we are all up to date on how the beer was made, let’s get to know these fresh hydroponic hops over some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Three Harvest Fresh Hop Double IPA from Wild Leap Brew Co.

Appearance:  A somewhat overzealous pour (we really do get excited about fresh hop beers around here) from a 12 oz. can produces a DIPA that is light golden in color and capped with right at two fingers of creamy white foam.  When held to direct light, the golden hues brighten, gain vibrancy and shimmer. The beer does have a gentle haze to it, but steady streams of carbonation can still be seen swirling up from the base to feed the top cap.  Head retention is good, eventually falling to a frothy ring that drops chunky lines of lace on the glass whenever it is disturbed.

Aroma:  Cascade hops are simply but beautifully showcased here in the nose.  Bright notes of grapefruit juice and zest abound while a bit of orange juice turns up to offer a light layer of sweetness.  A waft of pine then works its way in to supply some added sharpness and further amplify those grapefruit tones.  The malts are light and do not offer much other than a grace of nondescript sweetness.  The aroma is all hops . . . and all is right in the world.

Taste:  Just like the nose, this beer’s flavor is focused on showing an endless amount of love to those fresh hops.  Unmistakably Cascade, each sip is filled with an abundance of grapefruit zest and pine resin alongside that slightly grassy, green character you get from fresh hops. Any bitterness that surfaces is immediately tempered by a touch of sweet orange and a vanilla-laced floral presence.  The malts are not adding much as far as flavor, but it is clear that they are silently hard at work balancing everything out.

Mouthfeel:  Medium in body with a moderate carbonation level, Three Harvest has a soft, slightly creamy feel that reads more like a Hazy DIPA than a more traditional example.  Balanced nicely with the hops offering minimal bitterness, the overall experience is juicy but not too sweet.  The 8.2% ABV lends a bit of heat in the throat and chest, but it is subtle and not at all overwhelming.  The aftertaste is all grapefruit juice and zest.

Final Thoughts:  Three Harvest Fresh Hop Double IPA does an excellent job of capturing and prominently featuring the essence of those fresh Cascade hops from Extreme Hops AL.  Wild Leap’s new-world approach to Double IPAs – falling somewhere in the sweet spot between West Coast and New England-style Hazy/Juicy examples – acts as the perfect vehicle to push and drive these hops to reach their full potential.  The hops lead with that sharp West Coast presence of grapefruit zest and pine, but any real levels of bitterness are quickly washed away by their juicier qualities.  Just when you think it cannot possibly get any better, that indescribable “green” note you get with fresh hops is the bow placed on top of the gift that is this wildly easy drinking Double IPA.  If you are at all a fan of Cascade hops, you seriously need to track down some Three Harvest Fresh Hop Double IPA while you still have the chance.  Prost!

Tasting Notes: Civilized Brut IPA from Founders Brewing Co.

FoundersCivilizedPourFor this installment of Tasting Notes, sophistication abounds as we get into a few cans of Civilized Brut IPA from Founders Brewing Co. (Grand Rapids, Michigan).

Introduced back in November to appeal to the “more sophisticated IPA drinker,” Civilized Brut is a Brut-style India Pale Ale that possesses “a clean and restrained bitterness” alongside a “malt sweetness [that allows] the hop notes to tantalize your senses in a bold yet never-overpowering way.” Coming in at a refreshing 6% ABV, Civilized Brut is “brilliantly bubbly, refreshingly crisp and stunningly clear, similar to a fine Brut Champagne.”

Civilized Brut is available now and will last through March 2020.  You can expect to find this new Seasonal Release available in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans, 15-packs of 12 oz. cans and on draft at craft beer-friendly establishments located in Alabama, Florida, Michigan and throughout the rest of Founders Brewing Co.’ s nationwide distribution network.

Now that the introductions are out of the way, let’s break out the fancy glasses and get further acquainted with Civilized Brut over some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Civilized Brut IPA from Founders Brewing Co.

Appearance: A steady pour from a 12 oz. can produces an IPA that is a light but brilliant gold in color and topped with just over two fingers of fluffy white foam.  When held to direct light, the color lightens to more of a straw yellow.  The beer is pristine in clarity and shows off the exuberant carbonation presence working within.  Head retention is quite good, falling slowly to a lasting finger that eventually leaves the empty glass coated with intricate patterns of lace.

Aroma:  The nose leads with nicely pronounced citrus notes of lemon, grapefruit, orange and tangerine.  The hops then slightly shift their influence to lend some earthy and herbal tones.  The malts are light in this area, but they do offer a touch of crackery sweetness in the background.

Taste:  The hops are quick to strike with some sharp, pithy citrus notes that read as lemon and grapefruit zest.  Sweet citrus and tropical tones then tame that initial burst with notes of orange juice, mango and passionfruit.  The hops fully express themselves by closing out their performance with a grace of peppery, grassy, floral and herbal notes.  The malts are subdued here as well but do supply some balance with an undercurrent of biscuity and crackery sweetness.

Mouthfeel:  On the lighter side of medium in body with a bright carbonation level, this IPA is incredibly crisp, clean and refreshing.  Although the hops do assert themselves (in flavor but not in bitterness), the overall experience proves to be balanced and finishes nice and dry.  The 6% ABV is light, but it does allow for a bit of warmth in the throat at times.  A touch of grapefruit zest and grassiness is left to linger in the aftertaste.

Final Thoughts:  When it comes to the Brut IPA style, Civilized Brut flawlessly executes in all areas.  While the bitterness levels are reduced, this IPA still gives you a wide range of hop flavor while remaining amazingly dry, crisp and easy drinking.  Each flavorful sip begs you to take another, making the overall experience feel light and incredibly refreshing.  Then, before you know it, sips turn into gulps, one glass turns into two (or more), and you are left wondering why you have not been drinking more Brut IPAs up until this point.

Seriously, if you have been looking for the right beer to help ease you into the world of Brut IPAs, we could not recommend Civilized Brut more.  Just keep in mind that this Seasonal brew is available in 15-packs . . . because you will end wishing you bought one when you are two cans deep into a sixer.   Just take our advice on this one, make it happen and go big while you are at it.  Prost!

Tastings Notes – The Classics: Hacker-Pschorr Weissbier

HackerPschorrPourx800For this installment of Tasting Notes, we turn a spotlight on the long-standing classic that is Weissbier from Hacker-Pschorr (Munich, Germany).

With “more than 600 years of world class brewing experience” behind it, Weissbier is a German-style Hefeweizen that is “naturally cloudy, full-flavored and uniquely refreshing.”  Coming in at 5.5% ABV, Weissbier “[caters] to consumers who know beer and appreciate the historic brand’s unique and complex flavor.”

Hacker-Pschorr Weissbier is available Year-Round in newly introduced 4-packs of 16.9 oz. cans and on draft.  You can expect to find this classic offering at fine beer establishments located in Alabama, Florida and throughout the rest of the U.S.

Now that we have gone over a bit of the background information concerning this beer, what do you say we enjoy a tall pour of German brewing tradition over some Tasting Notes?

Tasting Notes for Weissbier from Hacker-Pschorr

Appearance: A slow, careful pour from a 16.9 oz. can produces an absolutely gorgeous Hefeweizen that is golden orange in color and capped with almost four fingers of dense and creamy bright white foam.  When held to direct light, the deep golden hues gain vibrancy and the oranges radiate with intensity.  The beer has that trademark Hefeweizen cloudiness, but a steady carbonation activity can still be observed coursing within.  Head retention is fantastic, eventually falling to a lasting finger that dutifully notches the glass with a line of lace after each sip.

Aroma: The malts casually push through first to establish a solid bready presence (think really good, hearty wheat bread that is still warm). This sets the stage for the yeast to take over with big notes of banana and clove.  The hops then interject with some floral tones and a touch of black pepper before the profile closes with a bit of bubblegum.

Taste:  The yeast character is just heavenly, providing generous amounts of banana, clove and bubble gum.  The wheat then neatly weaves its way into the yeast notes, creating a complementary bready quality that translates as freshly baked banana bread.  The hops then surface to round everything off with a bit of citrus, black pepper and tangy floral notes.

Mouthfeel:  On the light side of medium in body with a medium to high carbonation level, this Hefeweizen is ridiculously smooth, easy drinking and thirst quenching.  Lightly sweet on the palate, the overall experience is nicely balanced as the yeast and hop notes even things out.  The 5.5% ABV is not at all detectable, further adding to the beer’s high level of drinkability.  The aftertaste is just a bit of clove, citrus and bubblegum.

Final Thoughts:  After just a few sips, it becomes quite clear – not that it was ever in doubt – that Hacker-Pschorr Weissbier possesses all the characteristics you expect from a well-composed Hefeweizen.  Where it sets itself apart from the long list of iconic German-made Hefeweizens is in the area of overall drinkability.  With its lighter body, higher carbonation level, reasonable ABV and refreshing flavors, Weissbier is downright crushable and a perfect option if you want to break up your routine when it comes to daily drinking options, lawnmower beers, etc.

Once we combine all of the above with the fact that Hacker-Pschorr Weissbier is newly available in these handy 16.9 oz. cans, we can easily declare that now is the perfect time to revisit this classic.  Just grab a few 4-packs, load up the cooler or fridge, and enjoy this traditional German goodness while watching the game, grilling out with friends, at the beach, after a hike, etc. After you crush that first can and reach for the second (and watch your buddies do the same), you will make sure that Hacker-Pschorr Weissbier – and other Hefeweizens like it – will have a place next to those IPAs and Pilsners the next time you entertain or hit the outdoors.  Prost!

Tasting Notes – Spirits Edition: Underground Herbal Spirit from Ogden’s Own Distillery

UndergroundPour2x375For this special edition of Tasting Notes, we journey deep into the spirits realm to experience Underground Handcrafted Herbal Spirit from Ogden’s Own Distillery (Ogden, Utah).

Proudly known as “America’s First Herbal Spirit,” Underground is a liqueur featuring a blend of “33 herbs, spices and flavors” that includes notes of “cassia, angostura, anise, cardamom, gentian, yarrow, wormwood, mate, guarana, ginseng, molasses, orange oil, lemon oil, spearmint, pure cane sugar, agave and plum.”  The characteristic that really sets Underground apart from other Herbal Spirits is that it is made with half the sugar than the competition.  Less sugar and an elevated alcohol content (80 PROOF/40% ABV) combine to result in a “less-viscous, less-syrupy shot” that is surprisingly smooth. Boasting an “incredible versatility, complexity and taste,” Underground has been awarded a Double-Gold Medal in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and selected as the “Best Liqueur in the America’s” at the Spirits of the America’s Competition.

The Story Behind the Name

 

“The origins of Underground are as complex as the 33 herbs and flavors inside the bottle.

 

From the late 1800’s to the mid 1900’s, setting foot off of the train in Ogden was often a life changing experience for a transcontinental rail traveler. The train station sat as the root of the infamous Two-bit Street.

 

‘Any man’s desire fulfilled for two bits.’ Two-bit/25th Street was a hedonist’s paradise. With no trouble from the law, a man could gamble, drink bootleg liquor, spend time with an unfamiliar lady, smoke opium, or befall a worse fate.

 

Two-bit’s dens of iniquity were all connected in their basements by a network of tunnels. It is rumored that there were miles of them. One can only imagine what activities went on underground.”

Underground Herbal Spirit is available in 750ml bottles at fine liquor retailers located in Utah, Idaho and Nevada. Bottles of Underground can also be ordered online through Great American Craft Spirits (shipping available to AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, FL, HI, ID, IN, ME, MO, NE, NM, NC, OH, OK, SC, VT, VA).

With all that background information now out of way, it appears it is finally time to take a sensory tour of the Underground with some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Underground Herbal Spirit from Ogden’s Own Distillery

Appearance:  Poured neat and at room temperature into a tasting glass, Underground presents itself as a deep, dark brown in color.  When held to direct light, the brown hues brighten and take on a resplendent garnet tone.  Dark but not opaque, light penetrates the pour to reveal that the liquid is nice and clear. A gentle swirl allows the liqueur to coat the glass with a clear slick that drops some thin, fast-moving legs.

Aroma: The aromatics open with a distinct and nostalgia-inducing presence of high-quality root beer. Notes of anise and sweet licorice then casually roll in to wrap around and complement that root beer presence.  These notes largely dominate this area, but a woody, cinnamon-laced note (cassia bark) does work its way in to close out the profile.

Taste:  Each sip opens with tempered notes molasses, caramelized sugar, dark stone fruit, and vanilla. The root beer, licorice and anise notes then kick in to handily bridge the gap between the sweet and herbal sides of this liqueur.  Speaking of herbal, the profile closes with a lovely, balancing burst of mint, green tea, bitter wormwood, lemon and orange zest, spicy angostura bitters, and cassia bark.

Mouthfeel:  Slick on the palate, Underground coats the tongue completely but without being overly syrupy.  Mostly herbal and sweet, the balance struck here is quite nice and avoids being cloying.  The 40% ABV is definitely noticeable, offering a pleasant warmth in the throat and belly.  The finish is long and filled with root beer and a lasting cool breeze of mint.

Final Thoughts:  Although it shares some similarities to one of the most popular herbal spirits out there (**cough** Jägermeister **cough), Underground quickly proves that its intentions are to establish its own identity rather than just be a carbon-copy clone.  It does this in many ways, but most notably with the reduced level of sweetness.  Where the other guys are syrupy and cloying, Underground is balanced, smoother and far more easy drinking (even with the higher alcohol content).

Another nice aspect of this offering is that it is far more complex but somehow more approachable.  The flavors and aromas are much more relatable (see those root beer notes), avoid leaning too heavily on the anise/licorice, and the overall experience is pleasantly herbal but without being overly medicinal.  All in all, this makes Underground a tasty option that you can enjoy straight (chilled or room temp) or in a wide variety of inventive shots and cocktails.  If you are at all a fan of Herbal Spirits, you need to work your connections and find a way to bring the Underground to your home bar by any means necessary.  Prost!

 

 

Tasting Notes: Chateau Øl from To Øl

ToOlChateauPourFor this installment of Tasting Notes, we class things up a bit around here by getting into a bottle of Chateau Øl from To Øl (Copenhagen, Denmark).

Coming to us courtesy of The Rare Beer Club, Chateau Øl (10.4% ABV) is a Belgian-style Tripel “that is aimed at replicating a crisp wine, using a ‘melody’ of wine yeasts to ferment the beer.” Hallertau Blanc hops, used in kettle and dry hopping, further reinforce the wine-like character with “the grape, pear like flavors” desired by To Øl. An addition of rye then supplies Chateau Øl with “a spice kick” while a base of Pilsner malt provides a “clean finish that helps to balance the flavors.”

Chateau Øl is available now but only as long as supplies last. You can expect to find this Limited Release offering available in 750ml bottles and on draft at select craft beer-focused establishments located in areas regularly serviced by Shelton Brothers.  You can also gain access to bottles of Chateau Øl by becoming a member of The Rare Beer Club, one of 5 unique beer clubs offered by MonthlyClubs.com (click here to learn more).

Now that we all have an idea of the inspiration behind the beer and how to get it, let’s pop the cork on this bottle and get into these Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Chateau Øl from To Øl

Appearance:  A cautious pour produces a Tripel that is dark orange in color with a light caramel core and capped with a perfect finger of rocky, cream-colored foam.  When held to direct light, the orange tones gain vibrancy and glow brightly. The beer is mostly clear (just a touch cloudy) and a steady carbonation presence can be observed coursing within.  Head retention is quite good, falling ever so slowly to a lasting top cap that saturates the glass with wide, elaborate patterns of lace from first sip to last.

Aroma:  The aromatics are surprisingly subdued but wonderfully nuanced.  The yeast character greets the nose with a complex mix of spicy Belgian yeast (pepper and clove) and a soft layer of farmhouse-like funk.  Vinous notes then push through to create a white wine quality while tones of caramel, pear and orange round out the profile with a subtle dose of sweetness.

Taste:  A flourish of caramelized sugars hits the palate first before quickly giving way to a gorgeous vinous, white wine presence comprised of fresh pear, white grape, and a slightly funky and earthy yeast character.  The Belgian yeast notes you expect from a Tripel (pepper, spice, clove and banana) are muted but still present and slightly amplified once the spice kicks in from the added rye.  A citrus presence is weaved throughout, adding notes of orange zest, candied orange, and orange liqueur. The flavor profile closes with the Hallertau Blanc hops supplying added grape tones along with notes of lemongrass, grapefruit and pineapple.

Mouthfeel:  On the full side of medium in body with a medium carbonation level, this Tripel is wonderfully crisp and dry in the finish.  Sweet, spicy, lightly funky and hoppy on the palate, this beer coaxes a nice balance out of its complexity.  The 10.4% ABV is present, but it offers only a light, gently building warmth in the throat and lends very little booziness overall.  Notes of caramel, candied orange and pear are left to linger in the aftertaste.

Final Thoughts:  Delightfully complex yet delicate, Chateau Øl is an intriguing and imaginative brew that clearly displays the versatility of the Tripel style.  The beer carries all of the vinous, white wine notes that To Øl aimed to create, but executed it in such a way that the Tripel was still able to whisper subtle reminders of its more traditional flavors and aromas.  These traditional notes simultaneously act as complements that enhance the white wine qualities while still providing enough of the time-honored characteristics needed to affirm that this is undoubtedly a gorgeous Tripel.

This approach yields a dynamic yet approachable offering that will assuredly capture the attention of wine and beer drinkers alike. If you are always on the lookout for beers that can have universal appeal at dinner parties or act as a gateway for the dedicated wine drinkers in your life, Chateau Øl can easily play both of those roles.  Just make sure that your grab some bottles of this Limited Release before they disappear for good.  Prost!

Tasting Notes – Spirits Edition: Remus Repeal Reserve Series III from George Remus Distilling Co.

RemusRepealFor this special Spirits Edition of Tasting Notes, we leave the anniversary of the ratification of Prohibition (January 17) behind us by raising a glass of Remus Repeal Reserve Series III from George Remus Distilling Co. of MGP Ingredients  (Lawrenceburg, Indiana).

Released each year to recognize the end of Prohibition, the Remus Repeal Reserve Series is an award-winning line of Bourbons that allows “the distillery team to experiment with a different bourbon medley each year.”  Remus Repeal Reserve Series III (50% ABV | 100 PROOF) is a Straight Bourbon Whiskey comprised of “a medley of two mash bills from 2007/2008; the complex aroma reveals maple with caramel, candied fruit, chocolate, baking spice, smoke and leather with a balanced palate of caramelized brown spice and a hint of rye on the finish.”

Remus Repeal Reserve Series III was carefully crafted with the use of the following medley:

The 2019 Remus Repeal Reserve Series Medley
12% – 2007 Bourbon (21% Rye)
78% – 2008 Bourbon (21% Rye)
10% – 2008 Bourbon (36% Rye)

Remus Repeal Reserve III officially debuted on November 13, the birthdate of George Remus, and entered full distribution on Prohibition Repeal Day, December 5.  You can find this Limited Release offering available in 750ml bottles (suggested retail price of $84.99 each) at fine liquor retailers located in Tennessee, Texas, Indiana, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Now that we all know the legacy behind the Remus Repeal Reserve Series, let’s grab a couple glass, thank our stars that Prohibition is no longer a thing, and get into these Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Remus Repeal Reserve Series III from George Remus Distilling Co.

Appearance:  Poured neat into an Old-Fashioned-style tumbler (also tested in a Glencairn Crystal Whiskey Glass), Remus Repeal Reserve Series III presents itself as an apricot-tinged, light caramel brown in color.  When held to direct light, brighter orange tones push through making the appearance a lighter but more vibrant brown in color.  The liquid is absolutely pristine in clarity. When swirled about, the liquid coats the glass well with a sticky slick that drops some incredibly slow-moving, syrupy legs.

Aroma:  Sweetness greets the nose with indulgent notes of rich caramel, brown sugar, maple syrup, cocoa, and caramelized fig.  Orange zest and candied orange then surface to add a bit of brightness and break up the sweetness a bit.  The profile rounds off with notes of oak, rye spice and leather.

Taste:  The script set by the aroma flips a bit here as spicy, peppery rye is quick to lay a foundation at the start of the sip.  The citrus note is lighter but still present, offering that candied orange quality.  This allows the experience to shift nicely to the sweeter notes of caramel, chocolate, butterscotch, toasted baking spice (nice presence of nutmeg), and brown sugar.  Oak and leather then roll in to close the experience with soft tones of vanilla, smoke, and a slight touch of earthiness.

Mouthfeel: Slick but not syrupy in texture, this Bourbon hits the taste buds with a flourish, lingers for a moment and clears out beautifully for the next sip.  It is pleasantly sweet on the palate, but in no way cloying thanks to the balancing qualities of the rye and surprising note of citrus. Although it is boozy, the 50% ABV only provides a gentle warmth in the throat and belly.  All of this comes together to create a wonderfully smooth sip that leaves notes of caramel and rye spice behind in the aftertaste.

Final Thoughts:  From the pour to the finish, everything about Remus Repeal Reserve Series III is wonderfully composed and incredibly impressive.  It is absolutely striking in appearance, the aromatics are downright heavenly, the flavor profile is indulgently sweet yet somehow balanced, and the experience as a whole is ridiculously smooth.  This makes for an elegant sipper – best served neat in our opinion – that is an absolute steal since it wears a price tag that is under the $100 mark.  If you have been looking for a reserve-level, limited-edition Bourbon to add to your home bar but prices have been scaring you away, Remus Repeal Reserve Series III is the answer you have been looking for . . . and you might as well grab a couple bottles when you pull that trigger.  Trust us.  You will be happy you did.  Prost!

Tasting Notes: KBS Espresso from Founders Brewing Co.

KBSEspressoPourFor this installment of Tasting Notes, we push through the second half of the workweek thanks to a coffee-fueled boost supplied by KBS Espresso from Founders Brewing Co. (Grand Rapids, Michigan).

Introduced in mid-November 2019 as the first-ever packaged variant of KBS (a.k.a. Kentucky Breakfast Stout), KBS Espresso (12% ABV) takes everything you love about Founders Brewing Co.’s iconic KBS – a Bourbon Barrel-aged Imperial Stout brewed with coffee and chocolate – and then ages it “on espresso beans after being removed from [Bourbon] barrels.” This added step results in “a fresh and snappy coffee twist on [a] classic barrel-aged beer.”

KBS Espresso is out now and will hang around through February 2020.  You can expect to find this Limited Release available in 4-packs of 12 oz. bottles, 750ml bottles and on draft at select craft beer-friendly establishments located in Alabama, Florida, Michigan and throughout the rest of Founders Brewing Co.’s nationwide distribution network.  **NOTE: KBS Espresso is not available on draft in Utah or in any format in Mississippi.**

Now that we have gotten all the background information on this exciting new variant out of the way, let’s get into these Tasting Notes and see how much coffee goodness KBS can carry!

Tasting Notes for KBS Espresso from Founders Brewing Co.

Appearance:  KBS Espresso presents itself just as you would expect any beer bearing the KBS name.  It is inky black in color and capped with a solid finger of frothy, mocha-colored foam.  When held to direct light, the blackness holds and blocks any light from penetrating.  The beer is completely opaque and gives no indication as to what the carbonation level could be.  Head retention is good, slinking down slowly to a creamy ring that notches the glass with fine arcs of lace after each pull.

Aroma:  The aroma absolutely explodes with big notes of espresso.  We are talking heavy notes of intensely roasted coffee joined by complementary notes of deeply roasted grain, dark chocolate and dark fruit.  The presence of espresso and roast is so powerful that it actually drowns out the majority of the bourbon notes, only allowing a touch of vanilla to come through.  The profile closes with a gentle waft of rich, earthy tobacco.

Taste:   The espresso is quick to consume the palate with an abundance of dark roasted coffee at the start of each sip.  Dark, bittersweet chocolate then joins the mix to create a satisfying note similar to those addictive little chocolate-covered espresso beans.  The barrel eventually works its way in to supply a soft undercurrent of vanilla and oak, but the bourbon tones are definitely here to take a back seat to the coffee notes.  The experience is rounded off with a smooth layer of dark fruit, leather and tobacco.

Mouthfeel:  Full-bodied with a moderate carbonation level, this Imperial Stout is thick and creamy on the palate.  The heavily roasted coffee and notes of dark chocolate provide a bit of bitterness, but that is quickly tamed by the vanilla tones provided by the bourbon barrels.  Shockingly, the 12% ABV provides very little booziness and offers only a touch of warmth in the throat at times. The aftertaste leaves behind a light presence of tobacco and freshly roasted coffee.

Final Thoughts: With the release of KBS Espresso, Founders Brewing Co. set out to ramp up and highlight the overall coffee character that has always been a part of the incredibly balanced KBS experience.  Mission accomplished.  The label on this variant clearly displays “ESPRESSO” in all caps, and that espresso lives up to its bold, intense reputation from start to finish in this beer. The brewing team was not at all shy about letting the espresso dominate the aromatics and flavor profile.  The roast is intense and imparts a pleasant bitterness that works beautifully with the beer’s roasted malts and chocolate notes.  The barrel character does fall off a bit (only offering a bit of oak and vanilla at times), but that is to be expected when you add a powerful ingredient like espresso to the beer after barrel-aging.  With that said, the grace of barrel that is present is more than enough because the intense coffee notes carry this beer with ease and in a wonderfully delightful way.

If you have ever wished there was more coffee in your KBS or are just curious to experience a different take on this legendary brew, you need to keep KBS Espresso in mind the next time you hit up your favorite bottle shop.  Just make sure you get your hands on some before its availability comes to an end in late February. Prost!

Tasting Notes: Crabbie’s Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer

CrabbiesPourFor this edition of Tasting Notes, we spice up the weekend by getting into some Crabbie’s Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer from Halewood International (Liverpool, United Kingdom).

The result of “pioneer John Crabbie’s search for the finest ingredients from the Far East,” Crabbie’s Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer is crafted with a “closely guarded secret recipe” that dates back to 1801.  Featuring only the finest Asian ginger and exotic spices, Crabbie’s is a “deliciously refreshing beverage . . . made with purely natural flavors – none of those artificial and hard-to-pronounce sweeteners.”  Crabbie’s Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer (4% ABV) can be easily enjoyed on its own (straight or over ice with a slice of lime), as an ingredient in cocktails such as the Moscow Mule and Dark & Stormy, or as the perfect palate cleansing pairing for fine Asian cuisine.

Crabbie’s Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer is available Year-Round, and you can expect to find it available in 4-packs of 330ml (11.2 oz) bottles at fine beverage retailers located in Alabama, Florida and throughout the rest of the U.S.

Now that we all know a little of the history behind this offering, let’s crack open a few bottles and let the spice carry us through these Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Crabbie’s Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer from Halewood International

Appearance:  A steady pour produces a brassy, light golden yellow Ginger Beer that is topped with right at a finger of fizzy, bright white foam.  When held to direct light, the darker brassy tones diminish a bit to allow the brighter golden yellows to push through.  The beer is perfectly clear, displaying a rather vibrant carbonation presence bouncing about within.  Head retention is decent, quickly falling to a frothy, lasting top cap that has some good stick to it as it sheets the glass with a solid coat of lace.

Aroma:  As expected, the ginger is quick to command all aspects of the aroma.  This is a powerful presence of freshly chopped ginger root that fills the air the moment the cap is pried from the bottle. Lemongrass and lime zest eventually join in, but the aromatic profile is pretty much dominated by the featured ingredient: ginger.

Taste:  Spicy ginger is quick to grab the palate with a pleasant, refreshing bite.  The ginger notes then pull back a bit, allowing notes of lemongrass, coriander and lime leaf and zest to surface.  All of this is balanced by a solid backbone of brown sugar and caramel-like sweetness.

Mouthfeel:  Light in body with an effervescent level of carbonation, this brew is bright, crisp and easy drinking.  Mostly spicy on the palate, it does find some level of cool balance thanks its lightly sweet malt character.  The 4% ABV is obviously light in presence and is almost completely masked by the ginger spice.  The aftertaste is a bit of caramel-kissed ginger.

Final Thoughts:  Crabbie’s Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer pulls absolutely no punches as it asserts itself with a true, potent representation of what ginger is all about.  The ginger character – in both flavor and aroma – is fresh, clean, incredibly pronounced and downright delightful.  With that said, this Ginger Beer still has depth as it allows the malts and other spices to add to and accentuate the overall experience.  This dynamic quality made quite the impression on us as we were able to thoroughly enjoy Crabbie’s straight from the bottle and also in a round of Dark & Stormy cocktails (and yes, the ginger held up beautifully against the sweet nature of the dark rum).  If you are a fan of bold flavors and ginger in particular, Crabbie’s Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer needs to be on the shopping list for your next beer run.  Prost!