Tasting Notes – Spirits Edition: NYAK Cognac VS from NYAK

A new workweek is upon and that pretty much always calls for a drink. So . . . let’s do it right, break out a bottle and get into some Tastings Notes on NYAK Cognac VS from NYAK.

Founded by Business Mogul and CEO of Detroit Equities, Dennis McKinley, Former VP for Remy Cointreau, Patrick Charpentier, and Jerome Hyafil, a former EVP at Seagram’s Spirits and Wines, NYAK is a premium Cognac brand that was conceptualized at “a time when Cognac houses in France started to realize the consumption in the U.S. was drifting away from its tradition of being used as a digestive toward a more casual, fun-loving, and informal approach.” Combine that with the fact that “the African-American community was making monumental breakthroughs in pop culture,” and there could not have been a better time for NYAK to hit the spirits scene.

NYAK VS (Very Special) is a “contemporary” take on Cognac that possesses “distinctive, finely grained” aromatics of “delicious toasty oak notes (Bourbon vanilla, toasted bread) that stand out against a delightful peppery gourmet base (pear, grape, light honey).” It goes on to promise a flavor experience comprised of “silky tannins . . . followed by notes of pastry and jammy fruit (marmalade, ripe apricot), pear, butterscotch and a subtle spiced finish.” Coming in at 40% ABV, NYAK VS Cognac possesses “a delicately distilled flavor that is perfect over ice.”

NYAK VS Cognac is available in 750ml bottles, 500ml bottles and 200ml bottles. You can expect to find NYAK offerings at fine bottle shops located in Florida, Texas, Georgia, New York, New Jersey, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Delaware and Connecticut.

Now that we know the details and inspiration behind NYAK, let’s uncork this bottle, pour up a finger or two and see what this Cognac has to offer over some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for NYAK Cognac VS from NYAK

Appearance: Served neat and at room temperature in a shaped spirits tasting glass, NYAK pours a gorgeous, tawny amber in color. When held to direct light, the amber glows with brighter orange and glossy brown hues. The liquid is perfectly clear. When jostled about, the Cognac coats the glass with a syrupy arc that drops a bounty of thin, quick-moving legs down the side of the glass.

Aroma: The profile opens with notes of toasted bread drizzled with sweet honey. Boozy, bourbon-like tones offer deep pulls of wood and vanilla. Things then begin to open up with complex fruity notes comprised of grape, stonefruit, raisin and fig. A touch of pepper finally settles in to close the aromatics out.

Taste: Rich tones of butterscotch and caramel burst forth and then immediately back off to allow the wood-sourced vanilla to combine with notes of apple, pear and spice to create an apple pastry-like character. This blooms further to offer lightly floral tones that mingle with notes of apricot jam, raisin, and figs dipped in honey.

Mouthfeel: Medium in body with a medium length finish, this Cognac is fruity and sweet but still manages to dry out beautifully. Slick on the palate and incredibly smooth, it finishes clean and the 40% ABV offers very little heat. The aftertaste is all honey-laced figs, raisins and apples.

Final Thoughts: NYAK easily proves to be an absolutely delightful and smooth sipper. It has plenty of complexity and nuance, but it truly wows with its wonderful level of dryness that keeps the experience ridiculously easy-drinking and not at all cloying. It is a solid option for fireside sippin’ when the temperatures drop in the coming months, on the rocks or in most cocktails that call for cognac. All in all, NYAK Cognac VS is difficult to beat at the price point and is absolutely worth a spot in your liquor cabinet. Prost!

Tasting Notes: Oso Under from AleSmith Brewing & Alvarado Street Brewery

The weekend has finally arrived and that is cause to celebrate with some Tasting Notes on the Oso Under collaboration project from AleSmith Brewing Company (San Diego, California) and Alvarado Street Brewery (Salinas, California).

A beer that “melds the breweries’ distinct strengths” and centers around Australian and New Zealand hops, Oso Under is a West Coast-style India Pale Ale where “Galaxy hops are the star of the show with their passionfruit, citrus, and peach flavors and aromas, while Vic Secret hops, hailing from Victoria, Australia, tout tropical fruit, herbs, pine, clean pineapple and passionfruit. Nelson hops round out this beloved Aussie/New Zealand extravaganza with fruit-flavored accents.” Coming in at 7% ABV, Oso Under “is teeming with brightness, curbed by a dry finish.”

Oso Under is rolling out now and will be available only as long as supplies last. You can expect to find this Limited Release available in 4-packs of 16 oz. cans and on draft at select craft beer-focused establishments located in California and throughout the rest of Alesmith’s distribution footprint.

Now that we are all caught up on the details behind this collaboration, let’s crack open a can and see how it all came together over some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Oso Under from Alesmith Brewing Company & Alvarado Street Brewery

Appearance: This IPA pours a dark golden yellow in color and builds right at a finger of wispy white foam. When held to direct light, the golden hue brightens and takes on a more vibrant tone. The beer is perfectly clear and displays a sparse amount of slow-moving carbonation bubbles meandering about within. Head retention is ok, falling almost immediately to a thin but lasting ring that somehow manages to drop substantial gobs of lace on the glass throughout the experience.

Aroma: The aromatics open with a wave of dank herb and resiny pine. This is then overtaken by luscious tones of peach and passionfruit. The profile closes with a burst of floral notes accompanied by a light vinous note.

Taste: A mixed bag of citrus (orange, grapefruit and tangerine), peach and passionfruit combine to create a nice tropical fruit cocktail that is dosed with just a splash of white wine. A biscuity malt presence attempts to establish some balance before being run down by hefty punches of pine and straight dankness. Pure West Coast goodness right here.

Mouthfeel: Medium in body with a mid to low carbonation level, this beer has a touch of lingering weight to it but it does dry out nicely on its own time. This allows all that hoppiness to coat the palate and slickly remind you that this is indeed a hop bomb that harkens back to the days of non-hazy IPA yore. Of course, this means the beer stays on the bitter side and offers just a tinge of malty balance. The 7% ABV is tame and keeps this crushable by full octane IPA standards. The aftertaste is all pine and dank herb.

Final Thoughts: Oso Under is the delightful line where new and old school IPA trends and techniques converge. The Galaxy hops definitely supply a healthy burst of juiciness before they are overrun by Vic Secret’s surprisingly West Coast leaning dank and resiny notes. The Nelson then keeps you on your toes at all times by offering some white wine and floral complexity. Juicy yet dank. It is all that is good in this world of IPAs and definitely a must try. Prost!

Tasting Notes: Pistachio Cream Ale from Indeed Brewing Company

Back to fill the weekend with some much-needed beery goodness, Tasting Notes returns with a look at Pistachio Cream Ale from Indeed Brewing Company (Minneapolis, Minnesota).

Originally introduced in February 2020 as a taproom exclusive that just caught fire and earned “instantaneous success and [a] cult following,” Pistachio Cream Ale is a Cream Ale infused with pistachio essence to offer just the right amount of nutty flavor and aroma. Coming in at 5.5% ABV, Pistachio Cream Ale “does not disappoint with a subtly nutty and malty flavor that leaves a spritzy mouthfeel. It’s a beer to go unabashedly nuts for.”

Pistachio Cream Ale is available now in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans and on draft. You can expect to find this new Year-Round offering at craft beer-focused establishments located within Indeed’s distribution footprint in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Now that we have all the background info covered, let’s crack open this can of nuts and see what it is all about over some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Pistachio Cream Ale from Indeed Brewing Company

Appearance: Poured from a 12 oz. can into a shaped pint glass, Pistachio Cream Ale pours a pale golden in color with almost three fingers of rocky, bright white foam resting gently on top. When held to direct light, richer golden tones push through and allow the beer to glow softly. The beer is pristine in clarity and shows off an abundance of small, fast-moving carbonation bubbles streaming within. Head retention is good, falling slowly to a lasting and more manageable half finger that lays down some wide arcing patterns of lace on the glass after each sip.

Aroma: Pale malt sweetness leads the way here and is accompanied by just a kiss of corn. The hops offer a touch of tropical fruitiness and some candy-like melon notes. The profile closes with a long hit of subtle pistachio nuttiness.

Taste: Pistachios step forward onto the palate first along with a grace of vanilla sweetness. This translates as a semi-sweet pistachio ice cream-like character, and it is divine. The hops gently break up the sweetness mid-sip with a touch of floral and tropical tones. The beer closes on a light wave of corn and pale malt.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium in body with a medium carbonation level, this Cream Ale has an airy, creamy texture that glides slowly across the palate. The beer is a bit sweet, but it is balanced well in the finish and dries out nicely. The 5.5% ABV is slightly noticeable, but it is nothing more than the occasional tickle of warmth in the throat. The aftertaste is just a touch of sweet pistachio and corn.

Final Thoughts: Indeed’s Pistachio Cream Ale is absolutely nuts. It is somehow both a sweet treat and a crushable brew perfect for sessioning on warm days. It is both dynamic and wildly approachable. It is everything I thought it could not be and it delighted on each and every sip as it proved me wrong. It is a legit pistachio experience wrapped around all the easy-drinking goodness you hope to get out of a Cream Ale. For lack of a better word, it achieves perfection when it comes to its every intention.

This was easily a surprise hit of the year for me and it is a beer that I will go out of my way to seek out again. Pistachio Cream Ale is without a doubt a must try for any pistachio-lovin’ beer nerd out there. Prost!

Tasting Notes: Hazy O! from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

After a hiatus that has gone on for far too long, Tasting Notes has returned to close out the workweek with a look at the oat milk-infused Hazy O! from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (Milton, Delaware).

Carefully concocted to “[highlight] the magic found at the intersection of two unique, but unexpectedly complementary trends” – Hazy IPAs and Oat Milk, Hazy-O! is a Hazy/Juicy India Pale Ale “brewed with four types of oats – malted oats, rolled oats, naked oats and oat milk” from Elmhurst 1925 – and “liberally dry-hopped with hop varieties that deliver an abundance of tropical notes, including citrus, mango and pineapple.” Coming in at 7.1% ABV, the “sumptuous, full-bodied” Hazy-O! comes together to be “a hop-forward beer that is smooth and refreshing.”

Hazy-O! debuted earlier this year with availability in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans and on draft. You can expect to find this new Year-Round offering at craft beer-focused establishments located in Alabama, Florida, Delaware and throughout the rest of Dogfish Head’s distribution network.

Now that all the background data is out of the way, let’s crack open a can or two and see how this Hazy stacks up!

Tasting Notes for Hazy O! from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Appearance: A steady, cautious pour produces a beer that is a marigold yellow in color and capped with over two fingers of ultra-fluffy white foam. When held to direct light, the orange tones wash away to allow a vibrant golden hue to radiate softly. The beer is super hazy through and through, but an active carbonation presence can still be seen bubbling away within. Head retention is fantastic, falling oh-so-slowly to a lasting half finger that saturates the glass with intricate patterns of lace.

Aroma: Soft citrus tones open the aromatics with notes of clementine and tangerine. Tropical notes rise from the citrus to add copious amounts of mango and pineapple. A gentle malty sweetness rounds things off and closes out the profile.

Taste: The tropical notes lead here with an abundance of fresh and candied pineapple, mango and melon. Citrus lends some balance with a burst of grapefruit and a rounding dose of sweet tangerine. The malts are muted, but they do offer a slightly nutty undertone that is surprisingly at home here. Otherwise, the experience remains intensely juicy.

Mouthfeel: Full side of medium in body with a bright carbonation, this Hazy IPA has a pillowy feel overall but it still remains easy drinking. The juicy characteristics and hefty oat additions provide plenty of balance, but there is still a gently hoppy bite left for you to enjoy in the finish. The ABV is well hidden for 7.1%, only offering a slight tinge of heat in the throat at times. The aftertaste is all candied mango with a twist of grapefruit.

Final Thoughts: It is no secret that we are not huge Hazy IPA fans around here. Given the option, we are probably going West Coast-style 9 times out of 10. That said, there is a time and a place for all beers and we (well, most of us) can appreciate a good Hazy when it crosses our path . . . and that is exactly what happened today.

Hazy O! sets the bar for all Hazy IPAs being produced as Year-Round offerings by larger breweries these days. It has dynamic hop presence that wows with a juiciness that is both familiar and unique. The oat additions and the creative use of oat milk give the beer an incredibly hazy appearance, a luscious body, and even adds to the flavor and aromatics.

In a world where all these Hazy IPAs seem to run together and feel largely the same, Hazy O! actually makes you go “Oh” and take notice. It is a more than solid drinker that will impress hazebros and haze skeptics alike. It pairs perfectly with the beautiful spring weather ahead, so get yourself a sixer and experience it for yourself. Prost!

Tasting Notes: Oktoberfest Bier from Paulaner Brauerei

For this installment of Tasting Notes, we do our part to keep Oktoberfest 2020 alive by getting into a pour of Oktoberfest Bier from Paulaner Brauerei (Munich, Germany).

Known as “Germany’s #1 Oktoberfest bier” and the “only bier served in Paulaner Oktoberfest tents,” Oktoberfest Bier is an Oktoberfest-style Lager that is “deep golden [in] color, full-bodied and wonderfully mellow, with a balanced harmonious taste and the pleasant fragrance of hops.” Coming in at 6% ABV, Oktoberfest Bier is “stronger and bolder than the usual lager” but still built for all day drinking during Oktoberfest festivities.

Oktoberfest Bier is available now and will hang around for as long as supplies last during Oktoberfest Season. You can expect to find this Seasonal Release available in 6-packs of 11.2 oz. bottles at select craft beer-friendly establishments located in Alabama, Florida, New York and throughout the rest of Paulaner USA’s nationwide distribution network. 

Now that the particulars are out of the way, let’s crack open a few bottles, fill a proper stein and have our own private Oktoberfest over some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Oktoberfest Bier from Paulaner Brauerei

Appearance: A quick, jubilant pour produces a Lager that is a rich gold in color and capped with over 2.5 fingers of fluffy white foam. When held to direct light, the beer glows as the golds brighten and take on some vibrantly rich straw yellow tones. The beer is pristine in clarity and shows off countless streams of carbonation bubbles dutifully rising to feed the top cap. Head retention is quite good, slowly falling to a lasting 1/4 finger that fills the mug’s dimples with pockets of lace after each pull.

Aroma: Noble hops are all over the nose, supplying an abundance of peppery, earthy and grassy notes. A grace of fruity melon eventually surfaces and then quickly gives way to a clean presence of pilsner malts.

Taste: That pilsner malt note carries over and sets the foundation of the flavor profile with some slightly sweet cereal notes alongside just a touch of toasted bread. The hops quickly balance those malty characteristics with a good deal of peppery and grassy notes that are tempered by a bit of melon and fresh pop of floral sweetness.

Mouthfeel: On the light side of medium in body with a healthy carbonation presence, this Oktoberfest is incredibly crisp, refreshing and easy-drinking. The balance is a damn near perfect mix of sweet maltiness and bright hoppiness, further raising the beer’s high level of drinkability. The 6% ABV is well-hidden and makes it far too easy to crush several mugs in a sitting. The aftertaste is just a whisper of grassy and floral hop notes.

Final Thoughts: After spending a little time with Paulaner’s Oktoberfest Bier, there is no doubt as to why this is a best-selling Oktoberfest offering in Germany. Thanks to its wonderfully enticing aromas and flavors and a level of drinkability that is off the charts, this Oktoberfest Bier is the perfect brew to drink liters at a time because it will not last long enough to warm up. If you are missing those Oktoberfest vibes right now, just go get a sixer of Paulaner Oktoberfest Bier and get your festive fix while it is still available. Prost!

Tasting Notes: Marvelroast from Founders Brewing Co.

For this installment of Tasting Notes, we settle into our Labor Day by relaxing with a couple bottles of Marvelroast from Founders Brewing Co. (Grand Rapids, Michigan).

Introduced earlier this summer as the newest Limited Release from Founders Brewing Co., Marvelroast is a Golden Strong Ale brewed with coffee, vanilla and cocoa nibs.  With milk sugar supplying “a smooth and sweet finish,” Marvelroast (8% ABV) comes together to be “a delicious treat reminiscent of your favorite iced coffee drink.”

Marvelroast debuted in July and is scheduled to hang around through September 2020. You can expect to find this Limited Release available in 4-packs of 12 oz. 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.

Tasting Notes for Marvelroast from Founders Brewing Co.

Appearance: A slow, cautious pour produces a vibrant, golden-colored liquid capped with over two fingers of frothy, bright white foam. When held to direct light, the golden tones radiate while a soft orange hue emerges near the core of the glass. The beer is beautifully clear and holds an abundance of tiny, slow-moving carbonation bubbles. Head retention is good, falling to a lasting half finger that paints the glass with fluffy structures of lace.

Aroma: As soon as the beer is poured, a rush of high-quality vanilla is quick to engulf the nose. This is then consumed by a comforting presence that can only be described as a plate of freshly baked brownies served with an expertly prepared mochaccino. We are talking about big notes of roasted coffee, rich cream, dark chocolate and decadent cake. The profile ultimately closes with a lingering waft of freshly roasted coffee.

Taste: Each sip leads with notes of vanilla creme, marshmallow and graham crackers. The coffee then surfaces with some light roast and mocha notes consisting of sweetened coffee, cream and rich chocolate. A drizzle of caramel rounds everything off in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Leaning toward the medium side of full-bodied with a pillowy soft carbonation, this beer has a gorgeous sip that takes its time on the palate before it eventually cleans up and dissipates fully. All of the notes are on the sweet side, but they are tempered wonderfully and somehow avoid being cloying or overwhelming. The 8% ABV is well hidden and surprisingly provides very little warmth in the throat or belly. The aftertaste is a lasting dollop of vanilla creme.

Final Thoughts: After sampling many Stout-influenced Golden Strong Ales (a.k.a. White Stouts) over the years only to find them lacking in one area or another, everyone on today’s tasting panel was happy to discover that Marvelroast was able to pick up the slack and give us the hope that this style could be executed in a way that truly resembles a Stout. The coffee used in the beer supplied just enough roast to mimic the tones you normally get from the use of darker malts, and the added vanilla and cocoa nibs provide all the dessert-like goodness you expect from a Pastry Stout. Marvelroast truly is a marvel and a decadent delight that deserves your attention, so make sure that you track down a bottle or pour before its limited run comes to an end later this month. Prost!

Tasting Notes – Spirits Edition: Lemon Drop from Costa Brava Cocktails

For this special Spirits Edition of Tasting Notes, we comfortably ease into the second half of the workweek with the help of a few cans of Lemon Drop from Costa Brava Cocktails (Los Angeles, California).

Founded by Matthew Kaplan and Ethan Lazar – lifelong friends and LA natives – and inspired by their time studying abroad in Spain, Costa Brava Cocktails is a new lineup of craft cocktails packaged in “vibrant 12 fluid ounce [cans] that [capture] the spirit of Los Angeles’s sun, surf and sand lifestyle.” Crafted to be “a unique twist on a classic cocktail,” Lemon Drop is a delightful mix of premium vodka and “a light lemon kick” that comes in at just “6.7% ABV, [contains] only 130 calories, and [is] gluten-free, without sacrificing the great taste.”

Costa Brava Cocktails is currently self-distributing Lemon Drop in Los Angeles, California. You can expect to find this new offering available in 4-packs of 12 oz. cans at “select West Los Angeles liquor stores and on-premise locations.” Costa Brava Cocktails are also available for direct purchase (in states where legal) from the company’s online store.

Alright . . . now that we are all a little more familiar with the background info on Costa Brava Cocktails and Lemon Drop, let’s pop the top on a can and get into some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Lemon Drop from Costa Brava Cocktails

Appearance: A gentle pour from a slim 12 oz. can into a tall highball glass produces a pristine, colorless Lemon Drop that is completely devoid of any foam or froth on top. When held to direct light, nothing changes in the color department and the presentation remains the same. The liquid is perfectly clear and filled with large, fast-moving carbonation bubbles. If we had to sum up the look in a few words, it basically looks like a super clean sparkling water.

Aroma: The aromatics are a muted, but a note of fresh lemon and a bit of lemon-lime soda fill the nose with each inhale. A slight amount of vodka booziness settles into the background, but it is very reserved. All of the expected notes are accounted for.

Taste: The first thing to hit the palate is a gentle pop of high-quality vodka. Seriously, it is like straight-up, real deal vodka. This is mellowed out quickly as bright lemon notes bloom alongside a touch of sweetness to create an incredibly satisfying lemon soda-like quality. The experience closes with a refreshing wash of sparkling mineral water.

Mouthfeel: Extremely light in body with a wonderfully bright carbonation presence, this cocktail is exceedingly refreshing and easy-drinking. Crisp and clean, there is nothing aggressive, overwhelming or overly sweet about this offering. The 6.7% ABV is expertly tucked away and provides zero warmth or indication that this is an alcoholic beverage (well, other than the vodka presence in the flavor). Aftertaste is just a bit of lemon soda.

Final Thoughts: The most striking thing about Lemon Drop from Costa Brava Cocktails is the very real presence of vodka in both aroma and flavor. All too often when it comes to canned cocktails, they tend to taste like watered down offerings with no real hint of the advertised booze contained within. That is not at all the case here. Premium vodka is quick to make itself known in each sip and that really drives home an actual cocktail experience.

Combine that with Lemon Drop’s ridiculously refreshing citrus notes and high level of drinkability, and you have the perfect canned cocktail option for drinking around the pool, at the beach, on the back porch during a barbecue or gathering, or just when you want a quick cocktail without the hassle of having to mix something up on the fly. If you have been on the hunt for something different to add to the fridge or cooler, Lemon Drop and Costa Brava Cocktails really need to be on your radar. Prost!

Tasting Notes: Grapefruit Radler from Paulaner Brauerei

For this installment of Tasting Notes, we find refreshment and cool comfort on a hot summer’s day by getting into a few cans of Grapefruit Radler from  Paulaner Brauerei (Munich, Germany).

Developed to be the “perfect complement wherever you are during the warm summer months,” Paulaner Grapefruit Radler is a thirst-quenching Radler that “combines 50% Paulaner’s classic Münchner Lager and 50% naturally hazy, grapefruit infusion.” Coming in at a super sessionable 2.5% ABV, Paulaner Grapefruit Radler is “a fruity-tart refreshment that is 100% natural and not too sweet.”

Paulaner Grapefruit Radler officially hit the U.S. in June and will be available throughout the summer months. You can expect to find this new offering available in 4-packs of 16.9 oz. cans at fine beer establishments located in Alabama, Florida, New York and throughout the rest of Paulaner USA’s nationwide distribution network. 

Now that we know how Paulaner put together and packaged this offering for all of us to enjoy in the U.S., let’s crack open these cans and see how this Radler stacks up over some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Grapefruit Radler from Paulaner Brauerei

Appearance: Poured from a 16.9 oz. can into a Spiegelau lager glass, this Radler presents itself as a blush pink in color and is capped with nearly two fingers of airy, bright white foam. When held to direct light, soft yellow and orange tones surface but the overall look remains a glowing pink. The beer is quite hazy, but a fast-moving carbonation presence can still be seen zipping around within. Head retention is short lived, quickly falling away to nothing and leaves no lace behind.

Aroma: Sweet grapefruit dominates the nose with a mix of grapefruit soda and grapefruit juice. Beer aromatics are muted, but there is a gentle malty sweetness lying underneath all of the grapefruit.

Taste: The grapefruit is quick to assert itself here as well. That grapefruit soda note is present, but its sweetness is tempered, balanced and elevated with added notes of grapefruit zest and fresh, tart grapefruit sprinkled with sugar. The base beer has more of a chance to make itself known by turning up in the finish with clean Pilsner notes and a lingering tinge of Noble hops.

Mouthfeel: Light-bodied with a bright carbonation, this Radler is wonderfully light, refreshing and easy-drinking. It leans more to the sweet side, but there is enough tartness present from the grapefruit to balance and the base beer dries things out nicely in the finish. As one would assume, the 2.5% ABV is not at all noticeable and this further increases the crushable nature of the beer. The aftertaste is just a touch of grapefruit zest.

Final Thoughts: True to style, Paulaner Grapefruit Radler is ridiculously tasty, thirst-quenching and approachable. It definitely drinks more like a soda than a beer, and we view that as good thing (especially when the heat index pushes temps over the 100º mark . . . like it did today). With that said and for clarity, we are talking about a naturally sweetened soda because there is nothing artificial tasting about this beer. All flavors and aromas are clean, natural and incredibly enticing. All of this makes Paulaner Grapefruit Radler a perfect choice to pair with brunch, to cool you off after a long day of yard work, or to enjoy during just about any summertime activity. Make sure you keep an eye out for this one whenever you venture out on your next beer run. Prost!

Tasting Notes: Soaring Dragon Imperial IPA from Stone Brewing

For this edition of Tasting Notes, we step away from the realities of the world and ride the skies with Stone Soaring Dragon Imperial IPA from Stone Brewing (Escondido, California).

Inspired by ” a side trip . . . a few of [Stone Brewing’s] brewers took . . . to the famous Tianshan Tea City market” in Shanghai, China, Stone Soaring Dragon is an Imperial India Pale Ale brewed with a blend of Citra and Loral hops and Peony White Tea. Coming in at 8% ABV and 38 IBUs, Stone Soaring Dragon Imperial IPA boasts “a delicate complexity within an intense double IPA punch.”

Stone Soaring Dragon Imperial IPA is available now and will hang around through the end of July 2020.  You can expect to find this Special Release available in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans, 22 oz. bottles and on draft at select craft beer-focused establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, Virginia and throughout the rest of Stone Brewing’s nationwide distribution network. 

With all the background information now out of the way, let’s get into these Tasting Notes and see where Stone Soaring Dragon Imperial IPA takes us!

Tasting Notes for Stone Soaring Dragon Imperial IPA from Stone Brewing

Appearance: Poured from a 12 oz. can into a small, branded goblet, this IPA is a bright golden yellow in color and capped a perfect finger of frothy white foam. When held to direct light, the color remains the same golden yellow, but it does glow with some added vibrancy. The beer is clear and displays an abundance of tiny, highly active carbonation bubbles bouncing about within. Head retention is fantastic, falling gracefully to a lasting half finger that leaves chunky lace formations on the glass after each sip.

Aroma: A flourish of floral aromas quickly fill the air as notes of herbal tea and freshly cut grass rush to catch up. Peach and apricot then surface with just a touch citrus-laced cedar tagging along. Lightly sweet malt notes, accompanied by a bit of lychee and a twist of lemon, pull up late to close things out.

Taste: The herbaceousness of the added tea pops beautifully before it is smoothed out with a dollop of sweet honey. Blueberry, apricot and papaya (along with its peppery seeds) add a touch of fruity sweetness while a bit of cedar and pine balances with some tempered hoppiness. A soft whisper of grapefruit keeps the hop character alive and carries it through the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium in body with a medium level of carbonation, this beer is slick on the palate, but it dries out immediately after it has allowed the taste buds to adequately experience the full power of its flavorful complexity. Gently bitter on the palate, the mix of floral, herbal and sweet tones get equal attention and come together to make this an wonderfully balanced IPA. The 8% ABV is composed and reserved, but it does offer just the slightest bit of warmth to set in the throat at times. The aftertaste is a soft, lingering note of herbal tea with a squeeze of grapefruit.

Final Thoughts: Warning – the following statement is incredibly corny but that does not make it any less true: Stone Soaring Dragon Imperial IPA not only meets the expectations one has when they get into an IPA from Stone Brewing, but it also soars well beyond them (we know . . . forgive us). Every little nuance of this beer was incredibly well thought out, accounted for and then placed just so that they would all complement and elevate the others. The added white tea is present but dialed in perfectly so that it can accentuate and meld effortlessly with the Loral and Citra hops. The malts take it a step further by added a honey-like note that feels at home with both the tea and the fruity character produced by the hops. All in all, this beer is simply gorgeous and easily one Stone Brewing’s most dynamic and balanced IPAs to date. If you have not already, make sure you get your hands on some Stone Soaring Dragon Imperial IPA before its limited run comes to end later this month. Prost!

Tasting Notes: Más Agave Grapefruit from Founders Brewing Co.

For this installment of Tasting Notes, we settle into the holiday weekend by getting into a pour of Más Agave Grapefruit from Founders Brewing Co. (Grand Rapids, Michigan).

Introduced back in May as the first variant of the brewery’s wildly popular margarita-inspired Más Agave, Más Agave Grapefruit is also an Imperial Gose “brewed with agave and sea salt before being aged in tequila barrels.” It then sets itself apart from its predecessor once it is removed from the barrels by dropping the lime addition and getting “a dose of fresh grapefruit juice to ramp up the tanginess and to pay homage to [Founders Brewing Co.’s] other favorite tequila-based cocktail, the Paloma.” Coming in at around 10% ABV, Más Agave Grapefruit is “sweet, salty, and mouth-puckeringly delicious.”

Más Agave Grapefruit is available now and will stick around through the end of July 2020.  You can expect to find this Limited Release offering available in 4-packs of 12 oz. 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 area.  

Now that we all know how a Paloma-inspired beer is made and how to get it, let’s pop the top on a bottle of Más Agave Grapefruit and combine beer and cocktail hour over some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Más Agave Grapefruit from Founders Brewing Co.

Appearance: A steady pour from a 12 oz. bottle fills the branded snifter with a beer that is a rich copper in color and topped with just under a finger of loose, slightly off-white foam. When held to direct light, bright orange tones push through to add some brilliance and shine to that copper. The beer is dark but clear, and a vibrant carbonation presence sparkles within. Head retention is minimal, receding quickly to the thinnest of rings that occasionally leaves some spotty lacing.

Aroma: Citrus bursts from the glass and greets the nose with sharp notes of grapefruit zest and juice alongside just a twist of lime. Agave then rolls in to consumes the profile with a wave of tropical sweetness. This note opens further to expose a light tequila note that is more sweet than earthy.

Taste: Things shift around a bit here as a bright, slightly bitter presence of grapefruit zest, juice and pith collides and marries with the sweet agave to strike a beautiful and enticing balance of flavors. The slightly sour Gose base and its wonderful level of salt combines with the pleasant tequila notes to fully capture the cocktail experience and absolutely nail the characteristics of a Paloma.

Mouthfeel: Leaning toward the medium side of full-bodied with a high carbonation, this Imperial Gose drinks lighter than expected and has a refreshing effervescence. Moderately sour and complemented with a nice mix of sweetness and bitterness, this offering is incredibly playful and zesty on the palate. The 9.7% ABV makes itself know with a gently building warmth in the throat, but it never gets out of control. The aftertaste is all grapefruit drizzled with just a bit of agave nectar.

Final Thoughts: Just like the original Más Agave, Más Agave Grapefruit is a massive Imperial Gose that tastes exactly like the intended cocktail it was modeled after while still somehow retaining a dangerously high level of drinkability uncommon for a beer of this ABV. The aromatics and flavors are spot on for a Paloma (besides a touch of added maltiness), but it gives you that full cocktail experience with the convenience of just popping open a bottle or pulling a tap. This level of convenience and its approachable/recognizable flavor makes Más Agave Grapefruit a great option to stock the cooler/beer fridge with this summer because it will easily appeal to non-beer-drinking cocktail fans, seasoned craft beer lovers and everyone in-between. Make sure you give it a try before its limited run comes to an end. Prost!