Wednesday, October 28, 2009


So, after applying to, I have become a full-time reviewer for their website. Glorious. Yeah...that's pretty much all I have to say about that. Go check it out!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

CTC Assam and State of the Uni...Blog

Drinking a nice cup of CTC Assam, one of the lower grade Assams offered by Harney and Sons. CTC stands for "Crush, Tear, Curl", a cheap method of automated tea picking that often results in broken bits of tea instead of whole leaves. Normally, I'm all about the full leaf and single estate teas but, as I've said before, there is a time and place for blends et. al. The CTC Assam is the stronger parts of an Assam. My favorite, the Mangalam, has a wonderful body to the liquor. It is strong and assertive and classically "black tea", but it also has a malty sweetness as well. CTC Assam is all "black tea" flavor. It brews dark and astringent, with a wallop of a body and a rather muted nose. The nose smells slightly of the wonderful maltiness but the taste is straight up black tea in your face. No frills, no layers of flavor, nada. Just good old fashioned straight tea. I'd throw a picture up here but you're really not missing much. They look like brownish BBs, curled up into tiny little balls that release this pungent tea upon hot water's command. Why am I drinking this tea?

I have food poisoning.

This and soup have all been thrown down the hatch successfully after waking up to a wonderful morning puke. Missed all of my classes, have to turn the homework in tomorrow. I feel significantly better now and tea, soup, and massive quantities of water have been input and not output, so it looks like we're in good standing.


In other news, I've been pondering about this blog and what I want to do with it. So far I've seen some interest in the topics I've addressed. This makes me relatively happy. It's always nice to wake up, check my Google Analytics, and see how many sheep I have shepherded to my ideas. This said...I'd like to expand further and increase traffic. I want the world to see what I have to say, damn it, no matter how crude and blue I work. I'm currently sifting through how to operate Dreamweaver in order to fill out the website and domain I've acquired and I'm always actively searching for anybody who is curious enough to contact me about anything I've written as well as what I should write about. I'm also extremely open to press samples. Really, I am. I had quite a few up on bat over the past few weeks that I've perused through and, dare I say, it was a rather entertaining endeavor for all parties involved. In the coming days I still have to do a review of Pocket Shots (they sent me a vodka in a "sturdy" package, expect Hammer Time), but other than what press releases companies graciously (and quite mysteriously) send me, I am extremely limited by my own personal funds. I'd like to continue reviewing beverages at the rate I do, but its getting...costly. In the coming months, I may shift a bit more to tea as samples of tea are significantly cheaper to acquire than beer ($7 for 40 cups as opposed to a $2-$3 beer). Either that, or I may start dipping back into the cheap beers, a la the Malt Liquor Adventures. I do suppose most of you enjoy seeing me suffer.

Regardless, if anyone has any questions, comments, concerns, snide remarks, off-the-cuff remarks, crazy remarks, or fish, please email me. The email is drinkreviews AT gmail DOT com. Sorry spammers. I love email, but I only like emails from people that aren't trying to extend my pen 15 or make my non-existent girlfriend/wife/spouse/mistress a lot happier in certain places of sleeping (or...well...not sleeping, be that the case). I'm talking about a bedroom. Sorry, not good at subtlety.

St. Martin Tripel - Tuesday, October 27 (by 7 minutes)

Last weekend was a hectic one. The parents came up and we had a jolly time doing what we do best: shopping and eating at restaurants. Unfortunately, it left me pretty tuckered out and didn't give me a lot of room to review beverages. So, its a bit late, but this is the last of the press pack sent by Abbey St. Martin. It's a big mamma jamma of a beer:

Pours a hazy, golden orange, like looking through a glass of orange juice on a sunny day. Has two fingers of pearl white head that sticks around for a long time. A nice looking beer, almost like an orange creamsicle in a glass. Nice orange and straw color.

Smells of light malt and citrus. Orange peel. Very low floral hoppiness deep in the background. Almost a white pepper and clove smell as well. Lemon as well. Very nice bouquet.

Taste is sweet and malty, almost like a thick slice of crispy bread slathered in clover honey. Very smooth. The alcohol comes through on this one but not in a bad way. It almost lends authority and cuts through the sweetness nicely. Warming. Citrus abounds as well. Lemon, orange, maybe more tangerine than orange. Very light hops on the finish that give it a light crisp edge. Pretty rockin' beer. Slight banana too, I think. As it warms, the alcohol becomes more pronounced but it really doesn't detract from the beer. It just becomes more apparent a) how strong it is and b) how hard it is to type this review.

This is probably my favorite of the bunch. It has the smoothness, lightness, and easy drinking qualities of the Blonde. It has the sweetness and complexity of the Brune, but its not overbearing and heavy. The clover honey-like quality is great. I'm putting this as a A- in my book. I recommend you go out and get some of this stuff. Go easy, though. It drinks smooth, sweet, and nice but its 9% ABV, so sip carefully. Definitely not a session beer, but a delicious beer none-the-less. Go buy it.

Note: Interesting to note, the notches on the bottle give a date of October 08. I don't know whether this is the "brewed on" date or the "drink by" date. I'm assuming brewed-on date as a Belgian with a ABV like this, in a dark bottle, is probably fine enough for aging so a "drink-by" date would be a pretty moot point. If it -does- have a year of aging on it, I'd be interested to try a fresh batch. I'd imagine it'd be slightly more hoppy due to the lupulin breakdown, but I'm thinking the banana-y ester would be more pronounced as they tend to break down over aging. Who knows.

To summarize, a pretty solid line of Belgians. The Blonde was ok, the Brune was better, and the Tripel was the best. Overall? I'd give them a B+, depending on the price of these beers. While I wasn't blown away by the Blonde (while it was a good beer), the Brune and Tripel make up for it. Would I buy most of this stuff again? Yep, especially that Tripel. I'd love to see this in a small sampler sixer for people to try. For a sixer like that, I'd plop $12-$14 no questions asked, going as much as, say, $18. It's a solid beer line from a likable company, so try getting it in your neighborhood ASAP. Contact your local distributor and try to get them in touch with C2 Imports if you like these reviews. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna drink the rest of this Tripel. Nom.

Friday, October 23, 2009

St. Martin Brune/Dubbel - Friday, October 23rd

Next up on the chopping block is the St. Martin Brune, courteously provided by Abbey St. Martin, Brunehaut Beer, and C2 Imports. Enough with the chitter-chatter, I want to drink this damn thing. Thar blow the notes:

Pours an opaque, dark brown, like a medium roasted coffee bean. Has a off-white head, about a finger and a half in the tulip, that dissipates quickly. It looks hearty, really. It definitely looks like its a beer you drink when you snuggle up to the fire with a book and a pipe on a cold winter's night.

Smell is roasted malts, black-strap molasses, and raisins/currents. Slight dark fruit, maybe ripe plums. Does have notes of floral, but not bitter, hops which surprised me. I didn't think it would pull through on such a dark beer. It reminds me of a good rum-raisin bread, or the brown bread you can buy from P&G in a can. That stuff is so awesome. It would probably go good with this beer, slathered with a touch of Irish butter....mmmm....

Beer, right.

Taste is quite delicious. Multiple layers of flavor. Molasses comes through, along with a light dark cherry taste. Tastes slightly like more earthy honey as well. Finishes with a clean taste for being a sweet beer and even has a bit of floral hoppiness to balance it on the tail end. This darker, more reserved flavor that I can't place comes out as it warms which gives it a beautiful evolution as well.

This is more like it. The Blonde was solid; an easy drinker but not a whole lot of "shazam" points but this is a damn good beer. While the Blonde was a Bish, I'd rate the Brune a B+, borderline A- if I had to. It drinks smooth as silk with deep, dark flavors and I legitimately can't believe that it is a 8% ABV. I could drink the shit out of these things, which could be a problem. I'll probably push to get this put into the Belgian section of the local. Would I buy this? That's a big 10-4, good buddy.

Side note: Its potent. I'm kinda getting wrecked off this thing. And I ate not too long ago. Thumbs way the hell up on this. Those Belgians know what they're doing.

Edit: Edited for clarification.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

St. Martin Blonde - Thursday, October 22nd

So, I received my press kit (read: my sweet lineup of beers) from Brewery Brunehaut/St. Martin Beers, courtesy of their importer C2 Imports. Now that the technicalities are aside, let's get onto the reviewing. I actually went out and bought appropriate glassware for this beer. One thing to note is that it comes in a 33cl bottle, which is the most awesome bottle size in the world. It's like a classier version of a Red Stripe bottle. Anyway, review:

Pours a golden, hazy straw color with two fingeres of snow white head. Extremely opaque with a great golden color. The picture doesn't really do it justice as it appears more orange because of the flash, but it the color of a hazy summer sun.

Smells of fresh, clean malt and light fruit. Maybe pineapple? Slight banana smell, maybe because of the Belgian yeast. Slight lemon/citrus as well. No hops on the nose, not even a touch, which honestly doesn't surprise me. We'll see how it tastes.

Tastes pretty good. Nice and light, rather sweet but not overwhelming. Clean malts, light citrus, very pleasing but not really super striking in terms of taste. I was expecting it to pack a wallop being so light but 7% but it doesn't. As it warms, a taste of white grape comes out and a bit of floral hops pokes through but its barely there.

Not bad. A very "light" beer in terms of taste but its thirst-quenching and the 7% don't hurt either. They also sent me a sample of the dubbel and tripel, so I'll be reviewing them over the weekend. Would I buy this beer at a store? Yeah, I sure would, depending on price. I'd pay...maybe...$3 per bottle? It's a nice beer that drinks a way too easy for the ABV but the taste isn't something I'd reach for when I want something brooding or complex. So...yeah, dubbel and triple up next.

Edit: Does not go well with pistachio fudge. Blergh.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Martini

I love Winston Churchill. Anyone that can make retorts like him while absolutely shitface deserves my respect. The fact that he did it with a cigar in his mouth, a drink in his hand, and typically during official dinners with important guests and envoys...well...he's kinda my hero. I had the opportunity to visit the Churchill Bunker in London and it was a magical event. It did, however, take a significant amount of willpower not to steal his greatcoat, put it on, and steal one of the cigars (yeah, the cigars that he actually smoked, way back in the day) from the display and have a grand old party. They probably would have shot me but what a way to go. There is one thing about Churchill I don't agree with. His recipe for a martini. It goes as such:

Step 1: Pour gin into shaker of ice
Step 2: Stir
Step 3: Pour into chilled martini glass
Step 4: Garnish with olive
Step 5: Look at bottle of vermouth and consume

I love the man with my heart and soul but I gotta disagree. While I DO agree that the wrong combination of gin and vermouth makes a travesty of alcoholic beverage, the proper combination is close to the nectar of the gods. It should be EVERYONE'S goal to find a martini ratio that they enjoy and it should take some research. Deliciously scientific research. I have, finally, come to the recipe that fits me best and I feel its high time to share it with you fine folks. So, here it is:


Step 1: Start with quality products. Buying shitting gin and shitty vermouth is not the way you want to go about this. The martini is deceptively simple despite the steps and debate surrounding it and has absolutely nothing to cover up the flaws in the alcohol, so buy decent stuff otherwise it will be like drinking turpentine. I used Martini and Rossi dry white vermouth and Bombay Sapphire gin. I typically use Hendrick's gin for my martinis but I wasn't feeling dropping 30 large on a 750 of gin. This whole setup ran me $20, $21 including premium olives.

Step 2: Start with a Boston shaker filled with clean ice. Clean ice is so goddamn important its not even funny. My ice smelled like French cheese so the martini here isn't so hot. Remember, there's NOTHING TO COVER OFF FLAVORS so get it goddamn right.

Step 3: Use this much gin. I originally did this by just eyeballing amounts into the little cap to the Boston shaker. I -literally- just translated it into an actual amount using a shot glass. It's about 1.25 shots. This is 1.875 oz. Or you could just go with 2oz. and make it college strength.

Step 4: Use this much vermouth. As before, this translates to about a half a shot, or .75 oz. I recommend going to 3/4th of a shot, or 1.125 oz. Like I said, I'm eyeballing this. I know I got it wrong because I remember the taste that I love and this is a touch too dry for me. Yeah, I know. I like a slightly wet martini. Fuck you. James Bond would approve. How many 21 year old guys actually drink proper martinis? Who has two thumbs and drinks martinis? This fucking guy, right here.

Oh! Also. If you use vodka and call it a martini, I will punch you in the throat. It's called a "vodka martini", not a martini. Get it right.

Step 5: Shake vertically three times. Yeah, that's right, shake. As a chemical engineer, all the people that talk about "bruising" a gin piss me off. I will elaborate. When gin is made, there is a direct infusion of essential oils from the botanical stuff straight into the gin. In case you hadn't noticed, ever mix fat and alcohol? They don't go well together. You shake the shit out of it to get an emulsion but eventually it separates out. This same thing happens in gin, you just can't see it. It's chemistry. As they say, "like dissolves like". Polar chemicals (like water), dissolve polar chemicals (like salt). Non-polar items (like fat) dissolve non-polar items (like fat). That's why you can mix butter and oil when you cook and it doesn't look like the parking lot of Wal-mart after a light rain. Thus, the people that say that shaking a gin will "bruise" the gin and mute the botanical essences are full of shit. It's already doing that. But it gets even worse. Remember how a martini is served cold? Even worse! What little dissolution that happens eventually becomes nil because you cool the shit out of the liquid mixture. If you've ever tried to put sugar in cold tea, then you know what I'm talking about. On a molecular level, the essential oils are already going in and out of solution in a steady-state (meaning that no matter how long you wait, the composition won't change). When you chill it, a lot more falls out of solution. I shake because its the best way to get an emulsion between the oils that are coming in and out of solution. Stirring just won't cut it. So if you're intent on only stirring to prevent "bruising"...fuck you. If you just like it stirred then you're cool in my book.

Step 6: Pour into a chilled martini glass. My glass is actually plastic that I soaked in cold-water for about 5 minutes. Yeah, again, fuck you. I'd end up breaking an actual glass one. I'm really clumsy.

Step 7: Insert oil-cured, feta-stuffed olive (on toothpick), into martini.

Step 8: Swirl with toothpick and slide drink down throat.

There you have it, my perfect martini. While it may not be your favorite, I STRONGLY urge you to pick out some quality gin/vermouth and find the ratio that you like. Never, and I repeat, never try ordering a martini in a restaurant after you find your holy ratio. It will never consistently be what you want. This is why you pre-game in your house with friends on good martinis BEFORE going to the bar. But drive safe. Or I will kill you.

Side note: That martini was pretty good. Probably should have eaten something first though.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

SakeOne Sake Flight

Ooooo boy. Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto with Toshiro Mifune as the lead character. Toshiro Mifune is amazing. He is the Clint Eastwood of Japan. No joking. He's a bad-ass mofo. And what better way to pay homage to my favorite Japanese actor than by pairing his legendary acting skills with the legendary beverage of Japan. Thus, the SakeOne Sake flight was born, rising from the ashes of Feudal Japan to be cradled lovingly in my stomach. I'm going to do this semi-live, meaning that I'll update/edit it as I get to each sample.

11:48pm -Up first is the SakeOne "G". Designed to be a 'cask strength' equivalent of sake, it clocks in at about 18% alcohol, firmly kicking the ass of many weaker, shittier tasting liquers. This is a weighty bastard. As you can see, the bottle is black and foreboding, standing like the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey. My only complaint with the bottle is that its kinda hard to grip and pour with one hand if you have anything other than vice-like meat hooks. The screw-top could use some hatching or something because after chilling and letting it warm a bit, that thing was like trying to grip a fish underwater. But it was worth cracking it open. The smell is rich and fruity, resplendent with rice and even a malt-like smell. The fruit comes with it into the taste as well. Very fruity (pineapple) but clean, so very clean. The 18% ABV is nowhere to be found. Its smooth as silk going down. This is some fantastic stuff. Its so easy to just pour micro bits into a shot-glass and sip it along with the movie. It is also devastating my ability to watch this damn movie.

12:15 - Mifune started a fight with no dead people and a wooden sword. He ended the fight with 5 dead people and a stolen sword. This calls for a drink. Up next is an Organic Nigori Junmai Ginjo sake. I'm assuming the rice is completely organic for this particular beverage. It pours a milky white after a quick shake or two to mix up the sediment. It smells just as fruity as the last, with strong pineapple but it has a hint of creamy richness too. Taste follows with a delicious fruit sweetness and creamy rice flavor. Its almost like a rice pudding with pineapple chunks in it. Very nice, but the 16% alcohol is a bit noticeable. Has a nice anisette flavor on the background/aftertaste too. Normally I don't like anisette but it works well in this situation. I still think its a bit hot though. It does let you know it means business. And so does Mifune. After quaffing a few of these, I'm starting to think I prefer my sake filtered, or seishu. While the creaminess associated with the nigorizake is delicious, I feel it gets a bit too cloying after more than a few. The seishu sake though...I could drink that all damn day.

1:25 - Mifune has learned the error of his ways and he has been freed by a woman who loves him. Hurray! Break out the good stuff. The last bottle is an import by SakeOne. It is the Murai Family Tokubetsu Honjozo Sake, which translates to the best of the best. Aside from the fact that it has one of the coolest bottles I've ever seen, it is an damn fine beverage. Fruity, soft, and crisp, served cold it is an elegant drink. It is not cloyingly sweet but rather fresh and palate cleansing. What is left is a fragrant rice and fruit concoction that is delicious. It has a slight chocolate air on the aftertaste as it warms as well. Deceptively smooth for 15.5% ABV, this is an excellent sake. The rice and fruit on the forefront with the chocolate background make it a pleasure to sip as Mifune rounds out his journey on the first part of this trilogy.

All in all, SakeOne puts out some pretty awesome products. While I can't honestly recommend the nonfiltered sakes as they're really not my bag, they are all quality products and this is no shill speech. If you can find 'em local, check 'em out. They make and import quality product.

Casa Larga and You

How many of you paid attention to my Twitter feed? If you aren't, you should be. You'll get a leg-up on this site. Magical, mystical things happen on my Twitter feed. Like reviews that I don't post here. I'll stop shamelessly plugging this now.

Anyway, had you been paying attention to said feed, you'd know that I managed to pick up subsidized tickets to a wine tasting yesterday. The Casa Larga winery in Fairport, NY, to be exact. I will admit, it was pretty entertaining. We caught the bus (we being me and my friend, JP) from the tech center turned bus stop. We managed to run into a mutual friend on the bus, which was a pretty cool coincidence. But, regardless, more about the wine. The tour was rather uneventful and slightly boring, actually. Since we were college students, they pretty much treated us like idiots, despite the fact that some of us were going to go on to be doctors. They explained the fundamentals of wine production and even went on to insult our taste, which I found super-duper awesome. Apparently, because I'm a college student, I'd prefer the sweeter wines that you don't age (read: alcoholic kool-aid) over the wine that is typically drier and you can age (read: real wine). I was highly amused. I love Kool-Aid and I most certainly like drinking wine that shares the attributes of Kool-Aid. As a matter of fact, I prefer my wine to taste like some sort of strawberry cooler. And if you can serve it to me from a pitcher that breaks through a wall to deliver his sugary-goodness, all the better.


Anyway, we did a wine tasting of a bunch of their wines. The first, and my favorite, was the CLV (Casa Larga Vintage) Chardonnay. It was pleasantly buttery, well oaked, and had nice hints of fruit and white pepper. Less enjoyable was their Reisling, which was too sweet and rather bland and their Pallido, which tasted like the aforementioned Kool-Aid. It was sweeter than the Riesling and even more bland. Seriously, I could have gotten the same effect from adding rum to Welch's. We moved from the whites to the red at this point, going with a cutely named "Tapestry". It had a pleasant nose of slight oak and a garnet like color, but overall it kinda fell flat. It was mostly fruit with only a tinge of oak. It was smooth though. Finally, their Gallery 155 Pinot Noir (155 being CLV converted from Roman numerals to numbers) was the best red of the two. Nice and dry with an awesome, Christmas like spice (nutmeg, cinnamon) and an excellent finish of ripe red fruit. It hid the alcohol mostly but it was a touch hot. Overall, the CLV merited a bottle purchase. I managed to sneak a tasting of their CLV Chardonnay French Oak, which, to me, was too forward on the oak but otherwise palatable.

I will now stop sounding like a flaming asshole.

In summation, decent wine, condescending people. They looked at us like we just wanted a free buzz and treated us accordingly. While, for some, was the exact truth, I feel that if you want to conduct a successful business, you don't view the newest crop of aficionados with that snide outlook. With wine knowledge becoming more prevalent in the under 30 (at least I think) bracket, it doesn't pay to burn bridges before they finish building them.

On to other things! I just purchased and will be desperately trying to build a respectable website. Honestly, I wouldn't expect any great shakes until December when I have time. I pretty much purchased the domain and hosting and subsequently realized I have no fucking clue how to build a website. Whoops. I may throw a pre-made Flash site up there until I can get this shit down but I'm not sure yet. You can pretty much just keep looking here for posts et. al. until I figure things out. Oh, and another thing. Tonight is a two post night. The samples from SakeOne came in on Friday, so I'll be reviewing them tonight while I watch a Mifune samurai film. I figured it'd be a sweet pairing.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A wonderful day for tea

Today was a good day in the world of tea. In the world of chemical engineering it was kind of a travesty, but tea had a good day. Nay, an excellent day. Received a package from home today and it had an awesome surprise for me: a new teapot!

Isn't she beautiful? This leaves me in a quandary though. I now have two teapots that I do so love dearly. I don't want to be a neglectful parent. I don't want to stow my old iron tetsubin back in my closet. She's awesome and a potentially lethal weapon. This is her:

Ah, a father's pride for his daughter is an amazing thing. At this point, I'm not sure what I'll do with both of them. I may use one for green tea and one for black tea for reasons really beyond my grasp. It seemed like a good idea though. The black one does hold heat significantly better, not being made of cast iron, so maybe I'll use it when I'm not really paying attention to the tea but I want a few cups while working on something.

In other news, I'm drinking a cup of Lemony Gunpowder. It's the Gunpowder Green I referenced awhile ago, but with a delightful lemon-like topping. Its not bad. I prefer single estate teas but my mom bought this thinking she liked it and...well...realized she actually didn't. So I gave it a good home. It's pretty good. Vegetal, grassy green tea with a slight smoky flavor, all topped off with a light undertone of citrus. Not too bad. The balance is nice but I just can't get this tea to brew right. It always seems a touch bitter and I'm almost 100% sure I'm using the correct temperature and not too much tea. Other than that, it does brew up a decent cup for a cold winter day. Also makes good iced tea too.

Finally, my Harney and Sons Fall Catalog showed up. I won't lie. I did a happy dance in the post office. Some chick looked at me like I was nuts. Well...fat and nuts. But I get the first part a lot.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Harney and Sons Genmaicha - Monday, October 12th

Oh boy. Rochester has now slipped from "slightly cold" to "fuck you cold". Today averaged in at below 50. Sweet hooba jooba, how time has flown by. Tonight I'm bracing myself against the perpetual onslaught with one of my favorite green teas: genmaicha. Do I know what it means? Nope. What I do know is that it is a Japanese green (Sencha, I think) with a little sumpin' sumpin' added to it. That little sumpin' sumpin' is toasted rice kernels. Refer to pic:

How awesome is that shit? It's like drinking the best parts of movie theatre popcorn and green tea, all in one cup. But without that disgusting fake butter crap, the yelling kids in a R rated movie, and peace and quiet. You may be able to tell I don't go to movies often. Seriously, who brings 9 year olds into movies like Sweeney Todd? Ridiculous.

Regardless, the tea itself is a delicious commodity in my dorm room. The pleasant herbal, grassy astringency of a good green tea combined with nutty, sesame-like flavors from the toasted rice make it an excellent cuppa. I highly recommend the Harney and Son's blend (its really all the tea I find worthy) so you should probably order a tin ASAP.

In other news, a few things up on the billet. I should be getting the samples from SakeOne relatively soon, as well as some of the St. Martin beer. Finally, I discovered PocketShot and they're going to be sending me a sample as well. Hopefully they send a few because I want to stress-test those things. I'd link everything, but I won't until I try their products. SakeOne gets a link because they're damn tasty, even when I'm paying cold, hard cash. So take that. Also, sorry about this weekend and the promise of a website. I was supremely lazy. Next weekend I purchased campus-sponsored tickets to a wine tasting so I'll have pics of that thrown on here once I sober up. And, finally, I just washed out the "angry hand grenade of failure" and it smelled like someone lit a skunk on fire with a flaming turd. My room now also smells like a frat-house on a Sunday morning. Blech.

Friday, October 9, 2009

For Goodness Sake (SakeOne Diamond and Moonstone Asian Pear) - Part Two

Up next on the list is the Diamond Jjunmai Ginjo Sake from SakeOne. This, I think, is my favorite of the pack. Crystal clear and lightly sweet, it has a wonderful rice-like quality that's not overwhelming like the Pearl, but rather sweet and clean tasting. The ABV is lower (14.8%) and it cuts through the sweetness beautifully. Really, this is some stellar stuff. I'm drinking it very cold but I think it would be excellent hot as well. It is amazingly smooth and not harsh at all and just wonderfully delicate. I could totally get used to drinking this and eating sushi with this stuff would be a pleasure. I think its only one or two dollars more per bottle than the other stuff so awesome for that. While I've never had sake before I can tell this stuff is some quality brew. Honestly, I'm pretty enamored by this stuff and the likelihood that I power through the rest of this bottle tonight is about 700%. It's like the "alcoholic rice pudding" but more subtle and less sweet and just all around fucking delicious. If you can find it, buy the hell out of it.

Lastly is the Moonstone Asian Pear Sake, which is the Ginjo with "Asian pear essence". Pours a crystal clear but honestly, the taste isn't any different than the others. That delicious rice quality is present and the ABV is even lower than the Diamond but it has a faint wisp of fruit. I'm not sure how strong the fruit is supposed to be but I have a really have a tough time find it. It does not help that I don't know what an "Asian pear" is so I'll just chalk this up to user error. It is quite nice but I think I like the Diamond the best out of this batch. It also has like this vanilla-like flavor too. Still like the Diamond the best though. It is liquid form of awesome.

Anyway, this weekend will be big changes for the In With Bacchus world. I'm more than likely will be purchasing and moving to private hosting. There's a lot of things I'd like to do with this website and blogspot just isn't cutting it. I will promise you a few things. I will be getting some free samples from various people (SakeOne has kindly sent about $45 in sake to me which blows my damn mind and some other place wanted me to try crap too). I promise you, readers, that I will remain as objectionable and unbiased as I physically and mentally can. Also, I swear that the new website won't have ads. I hate ads. Really, they piss me off and I'm sure they piss you guys off too. So, rather than shill out with ads, I will only post anything that I deem worth into a Links section for you to peruse. So...yeah. As said in the past, high-fives around the group.

Edit: Jesus, that first picture is a travesty. I can't get the macro button on my camera to work. I'll see if I can't get a better picture.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

For Goodness Sake (SakeOne Pearl) - Part 1

Of all of the drinks in the beverage world that I've sampled, you'd think I'd have tried everything. Up until last week, however, I hadn't tried sake. A delicious beer-like brew made from polished, washed rice and enzymes instead of yeast, it sounds like an abomination but it is damn tasty. Its odd, really. I tend to eat a lot of sushi and hot/cold sake and sushi is something that follows for most people. But I'd never had it. I'm typically too busy inhaling eel rolls into my chubby maw at warp speeds. Seriously, if you've never had an eel roll, you're a fool and should leave my blog. No, I'm kidding. Just go eat one and report back.

I also didn't think to look for sake in a liquor store. Where I live, the liquor selection is limited to college favorites and dusty old bottles of wine. There's not a particularly wide range of beverages for consumption and the ones there are neither gourmet or artisan. They range from cheap mass-produced beverages from large companies to mass-produced beverages slightly higher up on the proverbial cost shelf from the same-self companies. I've tried to champion for better selection but no one really does it. However, moving to Rochester which is a town of more than two people and a horse (we have a proud history of having a Society for the Prevention of Horse Thieving in my town), the selection is significantly better. Thus, while meandering through the archives of wine, I stumbled on the sake. And I bought a sampler. Who knew.

In this three part session, I'll do a review on each bottle of the SakeOne sampler. Brewed and packaged in Oregon, it is one of the few, if not only, United States sakes. And its fucking delicious. No, seriously. The one pictured above is the Pearl. Clocking in at 18% ABV and coming in a 300mL bottle, it was perfect for tasting. Nice and cold from my fridge, it pours a cloudy white after a good shake. It looks like a snow-storm in a bottle. It's like drinking the insides of a snow-globe, only better and not resulting (usually) in a trip to the emergency room. It literally tastes like alcoholic rice pudding. I love rice pudding. This stuff rocks. Its rich and rice-like, with a creaminess and a distinct rice flavor. I think the alcohol is a bit stiff and clouds the flavor a bit but its really good otherwise. I keep going back to the bottle and having some. Its an odd trip from everything we're used to beverage-wise, but I would not say no to it if offered. Actually, I just took a sip and I rescind my comment about the ABV. It works well and cuts through what could be a slightly cloying sweetness without it. But by God, its like alcoholic rice pudding. How can you beat that? How?

Up next will be the other two from the pack, the Diamond and the Pear infused. Stay tuned to this cleverly titled beverage series. Well, at least I thought it was cleverly titled. Y'know what, just shut up and read it.

Edit: Yeah, I know its in a damn shot-glass. I don't have a sweet-ass sake set. Yet.

Super Edit: The people at SakeOne have corrected me. Apparently they DO use yeast. Good to know. Thanks for the update!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Harpoon Octoberfest - Monday October 5th

Next up is a Harpoon Octoberfest beer. Don't let the name fool you (like it fooled me), its actually an American Amber ale. Here be the notes, matey:

Pours a deep amber with a one finger head that lasts for pretty much ever. Translucent and colored like a good maple syrup. Little lacing.

Smells of milk chocolate, toasted malt, slight alcoholic nose, which is odd. Very little hop influence. Might be a hint of hoppy spice.

Taste is doughy and slightly stout-like. Very prominent roasted/toasted malt flavors which is odd for an octoberfest but not wholly unwelcome. Solid hop bite at the end that balances well with the overall push towards supreme maltiness.

Mouthfeel is medium carbonation that's sliiiightly watery.

Good beer, bad labeling. I wish it was called an "October Beer" or "Fall Beer" not "Octoberfest Beer". The name is misleading. It was significantly more hoppy than I was expecting and the malts were more subdued by the hops as well as roasted to a higher point, making it disconcerting. I was expecting wonderful malty-goodness and got a slightly hoppier, more robust beer. It's good but it makes me sad that it wasn't what I wanted it to be from the name. Ah well, y'know what they say about books and covers.

In other news, I'm contemplating picking up an actual website for this. There's so much that I want to cram onto this wee little page and I'm slowly realizing that there is not going to be any way in hell that I'll be able to put it all on here. Unless I want it to look like ass. Not sure if I want to immediately transition but if anyone has any good suggestions for hosting, let me know. I'm thinking of picking up the name but hey, whatever.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Paulaner Oktoberfest - October 3rd

See that? I changed the title format. Woohoo! I'll probably do it to the old posts as well. Makes things more user friendly, huh?

Anyway, first up tonight is the Paulaner Oktoberfest Marzen. I always feel bad about posting on here because it typically means I've thrown the notes up on Beer Advocate first but I don't really participate in Beer Advocate a whole lot and the lag time is less than 2 minutes, so I probably shouldn't. Oh well, you'll live. Here are the notes:

Pours a hazelnut like color that is almost orange at some points. One finger snow-white head that doesn't last very long. Medium lacing down the glass.

Smells of deep malts. Raisin brown bread. Brown sugar/molasses. Mouthwatering and delicous.

Taste is actually a little lackluster. It tastes strongly of heavy malt, like biting into the center of a hot loaf of dark bread. Seems one dimensional in that respect though. That's pretty much all i get.

Mouthfeel is perfect. Lightly carbonated and not watery at all.

Don't get me wrong, this is a solid beer. But that's all it is. It's like a great loaf of bread, hot from the oven. You get a few bites and the bread is crispy and delicious. You eat a few more and its still crispy, hot and nice, but its the same bread. You like the taste but it doesn't change a whole lot. Three fourths into the loaf of bread, you're just bored. Its a quite quaffable and approachable beer but I as hoping for a little bit more than just a "yay malts!" kinda beer. Oh well. This isn't the last one for tonight, as I have the entirety of tomorrow, lots of booze.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Mickey's Malt Liquor- Friday, October 2nd (Part 2)

Ok, I lied a teeeeny bit. Next up is....Mickey's "Fine" Malt Liquor. I only really got this thing for two reasons. One, it's a malt liquor and I've really got a thing going for trying this cheap crap. Second, I got it because of an off-hand quote I came up with that fit it so well it made me and my friend (who first got me onto the malt liquor track) to put it in the cart. I believe I said that it looked like "an angry hand grenade of failure". Below is proof:

Look at it. It's a pineapple grenade of hobo rage and piss-poor quality alcohol. I want to lob it into a crowd of bums and watch them explode. Not due to being packed with trinitrogentoluene but with pure, unfettered drunken jealousy and greed. It's....beautiful.

As for taste, less than beautiful. A little interesting in the fact that it tastes like apples, honey, and cheap fucking corn-based brew. But it goes damn well with some cold meatball and ricotta pizza I've got, so its all good at this point. Also smells like a road freshly paved with tar and three-day old skunk smell but once you gag past the smell it tastes alright. I think I'll buy them solely to pretend that its WWII and I'm in the trenches. The very drunk trenches. So its Germany.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Spaten Oktoberfest- Friday, October 2nd (Part 1)

Ok, I've got a lot of beer to review tonight (all of them Oktoberfests, to fit in the mood) so I'm gonna keep this short and simple. First up is the Spaten Oktoberfest. Notes abound:

Pours a dull brown with a one finger pearl white head that lasts a long time. Translucent. Looks like a good black tea that's been frothed. Lots of lacing.

Smell is...interesting. Smells kinda skunked and its overwhelming. Might be very hoppy? Light maltiness. Can't really place what this smell is, but its not welcome.

Taste is very good. Thick and rich malt with very limited hops. Really beautiful malt profile. Can't really explain it. Its very good.

Perfect mouthfeel. Limited carbonation with a slightly viscous body.

Its not too bad. The taste is really delicious but the smell rivals that of the Steel Reserve. Not sure what's up with that but I'm gonna chalk it up to the fact that its in a green bottle. Sad, because if it didn't smell like utter balls, I'd rate this as a really good beer. If you can find it on tap, go for it. Its beautifully sweet and malty and a delicious Oktoberfest.