Sunday, November 29, 2009

Birthday Bloggin'

So today is my birthday. 22 is not a very fun birthday, to be truthful. I took a 5 hour train ride from home and studied physical chemistry on the way. Rather uneventful. Thanksgiving was delicious, as usual. We finally popped a bottle of wine with dinner. AND THE WINE WAS HORRIBLE. YES MOM, IT WAS SO BAD IT MADE ME WANT TO CRY.

My mom reads my blog (a mistake) and she made me promise that I didn't "blog about how my mother served a horrible wine". It was actually pretty good. Not a whole lot of flavor but pleasant fruit notes and the label was pretty cool. It had two mice on it and it was from Germany. Not bad stuff.

A very nice and relaxing break. I managed to get a bunch of cupping done and I visited Harney and Sons to pick up some more tea. They finally got in some specialty pu-erh teas so I nabbed some of that. There is a Maocha loose (Ziyun) and a Sheng cake (90's CNNP) pu-erh that I got tasting samples. I wanted to try them there but I made the mistake of going on Black Friday. Yeah, I'm that brilliant. You can view their notes here and mine are forthcoming. I also stole a shitload of tea samples from the home stash so be prepared for those to come.

Oh! I didn't actually mention this, but my first tea review was published on Teaviews on the 24th. Link is here. I have another one up there as well, so I'll try to stay on when they actually publish and post a link on here.

Anyway...stay tuned here. There's quite a few things in the work, including some big-ass things. Monumental things. Things that I pretty much didn't expect to happen because I'm such a tiny blog. Score one for the little guy, I suppose.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Rochester's Finest - Tap and Mallet

Today a few of my friends journeyed to the Tap and Mallet on Gregory Street. I would just like to say that this place is pretty goddamn awesome. We were hungry and thirsty so it seemed like a logical choice. I'd never been but it seemed like everyone else had. I knew, immediately, I would like it. The front door faces the bar, which had a godawful amount of taps on it. When we sat down, the waitress didn't bring the food menu first...she brought the beer menu first. An utter shitton of bottles and about 20-25 beers on tap (and CB UNFILTERED RYE ON CASK). I settled for a pint of Rogue Brutal Bitter. It was just what I needed. Pleasingly hoppy and voraciously bitter, it was a perfect compliment to the meal. The meal consisted of fried pickles (which were excellent but seared the inside of my mouth) and a Cuban sandwich (which was good but not pressed so the cheese is deliciously melty and the pickles are hot). The beer was awesome. I finished the meal with a 8.5oz pour of the Stone/Brewdog Bashah, an excellent beer. It poured an inky black with a espresso-crema colored two finger head. Smelled of dark malt, fruity and flowery hops, and molasses. Taste was a delicious darkness; molasses, licorice, with a powerful hop bite underneath it all. While it was a tad expensive, thanks to the Bashah, the food is decently priced and the beer is fucking cheap as all get-out. If you're ever in the area, you should go there. Your taste buds will thank you.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hakutsuru Draft Sake - Saturday, Nov. 21st

Technically, I drank this last night. To be honest, I'm on a bit of a sake kick lately. Sake is really a delicious but delicate beverage that can be sipped slowly while I do work. It also helps that its only 14% ABV and tastes like rice pudding for drunkards. Can't beat that. Here are the notes on this one:

Nose is yeast and rice, very little fruitiness or chocolate. Muted smell. Can't smell alcohol and very few aromatics. Rather odd.

Taste is pretty weak. It is a 14% ABV sake but it tastes like it's been cut way too hard. It's kinda watery; definitely not as robust as I like. It has light rice flavors, a touch of apple/pear, and a little bit of cocoa flavor. It has a slight bitterness to it as well. It has a bit of burn but it doesn't taste like ethanol burn. I'm thinking there's a significant portion of fusels in this stuff.

The finish is short. Little to no flavor on the finish and the aftertaste leaves a bit of bitterness in the back of the throat. was pretty damn lacking. It really wasn't sake, it was more like someone accidentally put a handful of rice in a gallon of water and it happened to break down and ferment. There were really very limited flavors apparent. Even though it says that its a "draft sake" which, apparently, is only aged for a month and is prized for "a light, delicate flavor" sucked. I totally call bullshit on that. I'd rather drink a vodka on the rocks that's melted than this stuff. At least that may have flavor. I do have to say, the bottle is pretty goddamn cool and I will be keeping it to pour my sake out of. It looks like those cool ceramic sake flasks but its glass.

Oh! The only good part about this sake? It was $4.99 for the 300ml bottle. And it had a sweet-ass peel-top kinda lid.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Custom Brewcrafters Unfiltered Rye - Formal Review

Figured I'd throw a formal review of this on the website. You already know what I think about it if you read the last post, so I'll just give you the nitty gritty.

Pours a golden, straw color with two fingers of pearl white head that stick around. Heavy lacing down the glass. Delicious, light color that is quite translucent.

Smells of citrus. Lime specifically. The rye gives the nose a faint spiciness. Very clean pale malt smell, with a touch of roasted smell. Light floral hops.

Taste is spectacular. Like a delicious combo between a hefeweizen and a pilsner. Citrus and floral hops with a crisp malt sweetness, followed by a bready, yeasty aftertaste which closes with a one-two hop punch that gives it perfect balance in both hop profile and malt aspects. I've never had a rye before and I typically don't care for rye whiskey, but I could drink this all day, every day and never get tired of it. This is a fan-fucking-tastic beer. If you're in Buffalo, get it at the Buffalo Tap House. If you're in Rochester, go get a growler filled. If you're anywhere else, weep bitter tears of anguish and pain because this beer is awesome. Or...y'know, maybe we could do a trade or something.


In other news, I'm diligently teaching myself Dreamweaver in a vain attempt of making my own website instead of trying to find someone to make it for me. I'd like to have the website up by January 2010, so we'll see how that goes. Although, if I keep getting growlers filled, the likelihood that I get a damn thing done is really, really low. Also, if you have any questions, comments, concerns, snide remarks, or recommendations, feel free to email me at drinkreviews at gmail dot com. This means email me, please. I like emails. I CRAVE ATTENTION.

Custom Brewcrafters, again!

This time with more pictures! Managed to snag tickets to a brewery tour sponsored by the school, which was an awesome way to spend a Saturday. Arrived by big yellow bus at about 3pm, had to wait in line outside to get ID'd. When the dude checking IDs looked at me, he immediately blurted out: "HEY! I remember you! You've been here before!"

This was embarrassing. All of my friends thought it was hilarious. Screw them, honestly. Some friends! One of them even mentioned that, upon hearing that none of the shirts there fit me, that I should "sew two of them together". It was an awesome day for my self-esteem. But that's ok, because the beer was awesome. I'm pretty much going to let the pictures talk for me. I think that's the beauty of a camera.

The sight that greeted us when we walked in. Rows and rows of fucking taps. It was bliss.

Their giant grist mill holding tank, with the grist mill behind it. That angular piping on the side connects their fully functioning silo to the grist mill. That said silo holds a metric shit-ton of pale malt. JP is staring at me and it makes me uncomfortable.
Their fermentation tanks. And JP getting in the way, like he always does.

On the right is the mash tun with built in sparger, on the left is the boil kettle. On the far left, outside of the picture, is their gigantic water heater. I wanted to boil hot dogs in it.

Going down the line of their fermentation tanks. Note the kegs on the bottom left and my fat reflection in the right-hand tank.

The bubble-over bucket for the fermenters. It smelled pretty good, honestly. It was hard to get a picture because I had to lean over and stand above the diacetin earth filter for their beer.

Massive batch of kegs, with the bottling line in the back (on the left). Lots of kegs. They sell half barrel, quarter barrel, and 5g cylinders. I want a 5g cylinder of their Unfiltered Rye.

Your intrepid reviewer, on the left, with his growler of Unfiltered Rye. That rye is so good I want to wallow in it. On the right is JP, looking like he wants to kill someone with his growler of I forget what. Might have been the Hogans or the Duffs.

As for what I tasted, I tried the (I think) Piledriver IPA, which was a very nice IPA, borderline DIPA (double IPA). I tried the Duffs, which was not really rocking me, the Hogan's Park Ave Ale which was delicious because it definitely had a significant pinch of chocolate malt, two helpings of the unfiltered Rye, and an autumn ale whose name escapes me. Excellent $5 spent? That's a hell yes. That growler was pretty cheap too.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Glen Thunder Corn Whiskey - Sunday, Nov. 8th

I've been waiting to do this review all weekend. I picked a flask of this little beauty up on Friday and I've honestly been a little frightened to try it up until now. Glen Thunder Corn Whiskey is distilled by Finger Lakes Distilling and it looks like a mean son of a bitch. It is crystal clear white dog in a pocket-friendly 375mL bottle and inspired by the fine racers at the Watkin's Glen race track. It has a picture of a race car on it. I'm slightly afraid. Clocking in at a hefty 45%, it looks like it's ready to rock. It recommends drinking it straight from the bottle but I put it in a Glencairn glass.

The nose is probably what a racetrack smells like. It smells like burnt rubber, lubricant oil, and slight wafts of corn. The glass shows it to have some hefty legs. Like Beyonce hefty. The taste is odd. It begins with a heavy dose of corn that tastes slightly musty, followed by the wallop of the 45% alcohol. The finish is the most pleasant though as it promptly turns into very sweet fruit, with apple being the most prominent. The finish is rather long as it hangs out for a spell in the back of the throat and blossoms into a strong fruit flavor. I really don't like the first taste because it literally tastes like musty corn but the finish is fucking delicious. It's like biting into an alcoholic apple. I have an apple here so I may soak some slices in it to see how that goes. Woooof! This is a potent mofo. It wasn't kidding around when it was talking about smooth but with power. Honestly, I don't know if I could get over the forefront taste in order to drink it neat, so let's try it with something.

What's in the fridge?

Yeah, this'll do. I think I'll call it "Southern Hospitality" or something. Seems appropriate.

Yow. At a 2 to 1 ratio the alcohol is gone but that weird smell/taste is still kinda there. I'll work with this to see what I can come up with but as for now, I don't think I'd get it again. The finish is delicious but that foretaste is just...weird and not very pleasant.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Pocket Shot - Saturday Nov. 7th

So last up on the review circuit is the Pocket Shot. An intriguing idea adapted to the American market by a man who saw African's buying small plastic pouches of alcohol after a hard day's work. The idea behind the Pocket Shot is a damn near indestructible pouch of 50mL of sweet sweet alcohol, ready and raring to go with you anywhere you want. I got this sample and read all about the packaging in its accompanying brochure. It said, to the effect, that it could probably hold the weight of an average adult human standing on it before it broke. I'm not your average adult male. I'm your average adult fat-ass, but average adult, not so much. So I opted for a more scientific and less humiliating approach. This is the Pocket Shot:

This is a hammer:

Let's put two and two together, shall we? I'll give you a hint. The results? It held up pretty well. I went gentle at first because I didn't want to overstress this thing and watch 50mL of vodka shoot all over my walls. But it held, so I gave it a good whack. I actually hit it so hard it popped off of the counter and slammed into the floor. Needless to say, you're fine. I also tried to stab it with a pencil and my keys and it held against them too, so I think its pocket-safe. But how does it taste?

Into the Glencairn glass (yet again, sorry buddy). Frankly, it smells like rubbing alcohol. Straight up rubbing alcohol. Little bit of grain and a faint wisp of sweetness. I'm drinking it ice cold with a pickle and some black bread, like a good little Russian. It's actually pretty good. Nice and potent, with a grain finish and a slight chocolate taste as well. Warming as it goes down as well. Accordingly, its made in the US and triple distilled. A legit tasty vodka, I will admit. But how does it hold up to...a VODKA TONIC?

Really, really well. It's about a one to one mix here after a few sips I took for a straight tasting. It is quite smooth and barely visible under the tonic water. Would I buy this product? Hell fucking yes I would! I'd kill to try their gin, cognac, and whiskey too but no where around here actually has them. My only problem is they're kinda like the opposites of Weeble-wobbles. You've heard that phrase, right? "Weebles wobble but they don't fall down." These little bastards are the opposite. "Pocket Shots fall down but only sometimes wobble." The bottom could use a bit of a better redesign but the fact of the matter is you're just gonna rip the fucker open and pour it into your body, not take pictures of it like a foreign tourist like I do. So it's kind of a moot point.

Fulkerson Red Zeppelin - Saturday Nov. 7th

My friend Ryan has a habit of buying things purely on an aesthetic level. This is a polite way of saying he like to buy things based on how pretty they are. We stopped at a local liquor store yesterday (Century Wine and Liquor) and began perusing the absolutely gargantuan amount of hooch they crammed into that place. I have never seen so much shit in my life under one roof and I lived with my mom for 21 years (hey ma!). Anyway, yesterday we made purchases of a wholly unholy manner. Ryan bought about 5 bottles of liquor, which totaled an equivalent sum to what his friend Mark bought. His friend Mark bought a bottle of Maker's Mark and some random Drambruie cream thing. Yeah, 5 bottles for $40. It was a stellar trip. We both managed to get two things in common though: white dog corn whiskey and Fulkerson Red Zeppelin. The Red Zeppelin was at his insistence. It was a "pizza and wings" wine and, since I was going to get pizza and wings, it seemed like a logical choice. He said I'd like it.

This is the man that also gave me bacon vodka. I should have been smart about this.

Frankly, I should have been suspicious when the description of the bottle literally says "Come on wine people......LOOSEN UP!"

Yeah, it says that on the back of the bottle. Word. For. Word. They also use abbreviations (like pleasin'). They also recommend chilling it. It is a red wine. They finally end it with gusto by belting out a caps lock "ROCK ON!" because we all know caps lock is cruise control for cool. It is a Finger Lakes red table wine and, dear readers, it is like drinking a potent mix of rubbing alcohol, kool-aid, and anti-freeze.

I was mystified why it said, in laymen's terms, "chill me". Reds are supposed to be drank at room temperature from everything I've learned so a cold red was rather perplexing. Then I had a glass and realized why. If you DON'T chill it it is like going into a diabetic coma with a healthy dose of methanol poisoning on top of it. I'd use cloyingly as a descriptor but that would be an understatement. In retrospect, this would be awesome to distill, or go through a second fermentation, because the residual sugar level has to exceed 50%. It is pretty much the total gross national export of sugar from all of South one bottle. Honestly, I tried nosing this and my nose hair singed off and left me sniffing down mucus that tasted like Luden's Cough Drops. I tried picking out flavors, it was just sweet with an apparent alcoholic content. I tried folks, but couldn't get very far.

However, its actually NOT a bad wine. It is really, really sweet, yeah, but I think it would work well in a sangria. Some citrus and maybe some brandy would even out the sweetness and throwing it on the rocks with club soda would make it pretty damn good, I think. Also, I think it would be a fantastic glaze for something. Get some chicken breasts, some thyme and rosemary, and just marinate the shit out of 'em with some of this wine, then grill it while sloshing some of this stuff on there. That'd be really good. It does taste fruity on closer inspection (I'm drinking a slightly watered glass as I type this) so I think using it as a glaze for grilled chicken would be awesome. It'd make for nice fruity chicken, with delicious thyme and rosemary flavor, and the sugar in the wine would caramelize quite nicely, I think. Upon reflection, I was going to drain-pour this but I think I'll keep it around. I think it will go nicely with some tonic water.

So...yeah. It's a mixed review. As a straight-up drinking wine it's pretty terrible. Very sweet, limited fruit flavors, it doesn't pour well straight from the bottle. But used in mixed drinks, sangria, or recipes this wine's got serious potential.

And it's got a fucking zeppelin on the front of it, so it can't be too bad, I guess. Maybe it pairs well with Led Zeppelin. I'll try it and let you know.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I'm Not Dead Yet!

I swear. I just had a test today. And I failed it, which means lots more reviews soon!

Oh, and tonight I start cupping all the damn tea I have. Hot diggity damn I'll be hydrated.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Great Pumpkin's Arrival - Technically...November 1st

Oh Halloween, you crafty bastard. You always manage to sneak up on me and you tend to happen mere days before I have an extremely important test. You also herald in the month of November, the month of turkey and my birth so many, many years ago. But you do bring about such sweet tidings. The arrival of a bumper crop of fresh pumpkin pies, the prevalence of those fly-by-night haunted houses that set-up at farms and for-sale buildings, all sorts of lovely things. Most importantly, however, is the prevalence of...the pumpkin ale. There are many styles within the style of pumpkin ale. Some brewers just go with the "spice the shit out of it" format, while others go crazy with the Halloween flair. These brewers often make awesome product...which I have in front of me. Tonight is a review of two beers: Dogfish Head Punkin Ale and Southern Tier Pumking. First is the Dogfish Head.

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale:

Pours with one finger of white head onto a body of beer that looks distinctly like a pie in a glass. It is a rusty brown / dark orange color that is crystal clear. No, seriously, I can read the label through the pint. It is a nice color.

Smells of pie spice (nutmeg, cinnamon), brown sugar, sweet butter, pumpkin, and slightly earthy/root vegetable. Ok, I'll summarize that. It smells like a damn pumpkin pie and it makes me so hungry it is borderline unfair. I now need pie.

Taste like pie spice. Pumpkin is present but the earthiness isn't there. Slightly alcohol forward with a surprising lack of malt sweetness. A brown sugar FLAVOR is there, but it's not actually sweet. As a matter of fact, the hops that weren't there on the aroma pull through in the beer, giving it a cleansing bitter aftertaste.

Not bad, not bad. I was going into it expecting a malt forward beer and I was a little disappointed when it was actually more aggressively hopped than I expected. It IS brewed with real pumpkin, brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg which shined through in the nose and taste but the hops threw me for a loop. It is a bit overwhelming though. Definitely not a session-able beer. More of a "two and I'm done" kinda thing.

Southern Tier Pumking:

Pours a slightly hazy orange, almost like if you squeezed a pumpkin and got some sort of weird pumpkin juice. A one finger snow white head appears that doesn't stick around for very long. Yet again, it looks like a damn pie and I'm still hungry.

Smells like a graham cracker. Vanilla, light pumpkin, maybe cinnamon as well? Oh ye gods above, it smells like a pumpkin pie with a graham cracker crust. This is just not fucking fair. Not fair at all! Has almost a melon smell in there too.

Taste is oh god. Oh god its like drinking a pumpkin pie. Oh it's so good. Lots of vanilla, cinnamon, that graham cracker taste and pumpkin. Very nice malt sweetness with medium carbonation that peters off into a slight hop bite at the end. Oh man, I just want to wallow in this beer. Slight caramel flavor maybe? Or maybe a butterscotch flavor. I dunno, its an amazing fucking beer.

Sweet mother of mercy this beer is awesome. Definitely not a "hey, let's drink and watch the game" beer but more of an "well, I want pumpkin pie AND a beer" kind of beer. It's really, really good. Oh man, it is just what the doctor ordered. Buy it, drink it, think of pie. I am burping pie right now. I'm so happy. I am going to buy a bottle of this and cellar it. That's how good it is. Go. Buy. Quaff. Now. At 3am.