Staff Reviews & Picks
There are not many occasions where the first thing I do when I get home from work is write a quick review on a new beer, but this one had me at hello. Omnipollo is one crazy brewery, they do a some very ridiculous and delicious beers that are far beyond innovative and they are always pushing the boundaries on how to one up themselves with their next batch. This beer is no exception, they have out done themselves on Yellow Belly by making a beer that is too much for words, but I'm going to try and say some. First off, the packaging. Almost everyone has bought at least one bottle wrapped in paper, or in a box at some point in their life, but how many have bought a bottle that is wrapped in paper with two eye holes cut in it? Look oddly of a dark part of American history? Yea, they brought their A-game to this one. I think Omnipollo is kinda sick of the ignorance in the world...
**From their website:
This beer is a collaborative effort together with our good friends – and world class brewers – at Buxton Brewery (UK).
Yellow Belly — a person who is without courage, fortitude, or nerve; a coward.
To us, one of the most cowardly deeds is to act anonymously, hiding behind a group. A signifying trait of institutionalised racism.
This beer is brewed to celebrate all things new, open minded and progressive. A peanut butter biscuit stout with no biscuits, butter or nuts. Taste, enjoy, and don’t be prejudiced
Henok Fentie, Karl Grandin, Denis Johnstone, Jake Oulsnam, Geoff Quinn, Colin Stronge
So, as for flavor? This is a big ole' Imperial stout, coming in at a well hidden 11%, this is a beast of a beer, but it is done amazingly well. The pour is thick and syrupy, the mouthfeel is full but not overly heavy, and the flavors... Lets just say wow. The richness of the base brings a lot of coffee and a touch of bitter chocolate, but whatever it was they did with the grains is amazing. The promise of a peanut butter biscuit stout is spot on, there is a creamy nuttyness with a touch of salted biscuit on the finish. I can't get over this beer, one of the best I have had in a couple months. This will definitely be a beer we do our best to stock as much of as possible. A+ Omnipollo & Buxton, you have done right by me.
Writing reviews for wine is great and all, but sometimes you need a break. Against the Grain has been in Minnesota since April of last year and they have been sending us ridiculously amazing beers on the regular since then. Citra Ass Down is no slouch to that statement, a customer and employee favorite, this Citra hopped IPA is delicious on so many levels. Using primarily Citra hops in this brew, AtG made out like a bandit and made something ridiculous and magically delicious. The citra hops are the most prevalent despite the use of Columbus for bittering and centennial for aroma, the malt character is well balanced and not overpowering with a nice sweetness on the finish that compliments the Citra hops. (No surprise there...) To say this is a beer to just drink would be a truth, but this is also a beer that would pair well with white chili, chicken tacos or mini donuts, but mostly just another one...
Having had the other Dark Horse varieties, finishing up on the red blend seemed appropriate, especially with the cooler months coming and bonfire season upon us. The up front aroma of this wine is rich, dark and fruity, almost like it was full of plums with a couple dates mixed in for good measure to round out the nose while keeping the smell of alcohol at bay. First impression is of ripe dark fruits and with a bit of spice to carry the flavors to the back of your palate paired up with a light tannic dryness. The finish continues on the light note of not being over bearing, but still being flavorful and full of that dark spiced fruits, and having a lingering flavor almost of leather, but mostly of a sweet, dark spices. I can see this wine filling the winter niche of mulling also, having a spiciness to it already, adding the mulling spices and a touch of brandy to give a darker flavor would make a great evening.
If you've read the older Dark Horse reviews I've done, you'll know I have been very surprised by the quality of product that is coming out of their bottles and the Sauvignon Blanc is no exception. The upfront aroma is predominantly heavy citrus notes and a hint at a more tart flavor, which is not a lie. The flavors in this wine are very tart, bright and extremely crisp, very much like the Sauv Blancs out of Australia and New Zealand, this one has that tang of flavor you don't really get from any other grape varieties. The finish might be the most interesting part of this wine, with a light woody flavor you'd think this was barrel finished, but I am almost certain this wine was done 100% in a stainless steel fermenter which makes for an interesting finish in itself. I drank this while eating some fried chicken and pesto tortellini which paired very well, but I would also recommend this wine for very light fish meals, or even heartier fish like trout. Once again, a great bottle from Dark Horse.
With the Kentucky Derby happening this Saturday, I figured why not represent and share my thoughts on the official drink of the Derby, the Mint Julep. If you haven't had a Mint Julep, as I had not till writing this, I highly recommend them for the warm months coming up; ridiculously light and minty, the heat of the bourbon comes out just enough to tease you, but not so much as being all you taste. For mine I used Basil Hayden's Bourbon whiskey, but you can use which ever Bourbon you fancy most. If you really wanted to be fancy, Woodford Reserve makes a commemorative Kentucky Derby bottle every year full of delicious Bourbon, and we just so happen to have been sent some (Check it out)...
Here is the "Official" recipe I found:
1tsp Powdered Sugar
2oz Bourbon whiskey
4 mint leaves
In high ball glass, muddle mint, sugar and water, fill with crushed ice, add Bourbon and stir well. --I somewhat modified it by using about 2.5 tsp of homemade simple syrup (which is really just sugar water), a handful of mint leaves and 2.5oz of Bourbon.--
After all that I was quite pleased. The hot vanilla sweetness of Basil Hayden's calmed down a fair amount and changed into a blend of minty, creamy vanilla which was quite surprising to me, but oh so very delicious. I regret not thinking to make this drink sooner in my life, mostly because if I could spend this Saturday watching the Kentucky Derby, or any Saturday for that matter, and sipping this, I would consider my day a day well spent. So hey, if you watch the Derby, cheers to you and may the odds be ever in your favor; if not, cheers to an awesome drink that would make yard work way more tolerable.
So it took me a while, but I finally got around to the Dark Horse Merlot. I should pat myself on the back, but I procrastinated real bad on drinking this one... So, yea, this Merlot is something odd in its own way, and I only say this because I am quite surprised by how much his going on in my glass... When I think of Merlot's, I think of lighter bodied somewhat fruit-forward wines like the Zellerbach Merlot, which I did a small blurb about here. The Dark Horse on the other hand is something completely different, the aroma up front on this one is just dark and oaky with a hint of spice, again, weird for a Merlot in my book. The flavor is something else too, it's full of it, the most noticeable is a continued spiciness blended in with some plum notes and a bit of molasses to finish it out is far from what I expected. As for the finish, it's just so light with just hints of oak and spice you wouldn't believe you were drinking the same wine. All in all, I'm pleased with this fourth offering from Dark Horse, and I am hoping to see more from them in the future.
End Note: As far as I could find, Dark Horse Wines has no affiliation with Dark Horse Brewing Company.
I am revisiting an old friend this week. It has been far too long since I had Wente Vineyards Morning Fog Chardonnay, and I am once again disappointed in myself for doing so. From what I remember from the last time I had it, there was a little bit of Gewurztraminer blended in to the base Chardonnay to give it a bit of a sweet spicy character which it did back then quite well. This time around, I want to say that they are still adding in a bit of Gewurztraminer because, as I said above, there is a sweet spiciness that works very well with the rest of the lightly oaked and mildly tropical Chardonnay that Wente continues to provide. Along with all of that, this Chardonnay poured a little bit more gold in color and a bit heavier in its body from the Gewurz, the acidity was very light but still sharp, almost like a lemon that was dipped in sugar. The aroma and flavor went hand-in-hand incredibly well starting with an almost pie crust like nose followed by a mouthful of sweet bread or honey cakes, finishing off very slowly with a very light vanilla note. All in all, I liked it again, probably more fit for a seafood or chicken dish and not as much the salt & vinegar kettle chips I had with it...
If you look at our newsletter two weeks back you'll see I featured a couple of the red blends that we have in stock at the shop, and this week I figured at least one of those deserved to be reviewed. I picked the Doña Paula from that selection, mostly because I have been meaning to try it since we brought it in almost a year ago, and because it has one of my favorite oddball grapes (Petite Verdot) blended in it along with Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. Initially there is a very hot alcohol smell right when you open the bottle, but after a couple minutes that goes away completely and is replaced by a very Malbec aroma of plum, a bit of chocolate and a slight dustiness from the Petite Verdot. The body is very much influenced by the Cabernet making a very heavy mouth-feel and rich texture but also having the tannic dryness of a Malbec; from here it finishes with some light spice and a slight leatheriness from the Petite Verdot. I'd say with such a great balances of flavors this is a pretty solid all around red blend that would likely go well with a savory, not spicy, beef curry or even an Americana oven roasted chicken with vegetables instead of the store bought pork and rice I had it with...
For those of you that receive our weekly newsletter you'll know that last Saturday the February 28th was the wine drinkers holiday "Open That Bottle Night." It always falls on the last Saturday of February and "is the event you have been waiting for...the time when you are entitled to uncork that cherished bottle and enjoy the contents..." as they say on their website & if you ever do want to celebrate a different day use #otbn in a social media post to show your festivities. This was the first year I remembered to celebrate it and I did it by open a bottle of St. Innocent Winery Momtazi Vineyards Pinot Noir. (I misspoke on the vintage of this wine, the bottle I opened was a 2009, not a 2008 like I had said in the newsletter.) We carry the 2012 vintage of this wine and I look very forward to trying it fresh considering how delicious this wine was after 6 years of hanging out int he bottle. It says right on the back of the label that you should let it breath for about 1-2 hours, but I was a bit impatient and drank a glass straight away and was pleased and surprised... That first taste was full of light cherry notes and a noticeable but pleasant oakiness, a tartness that I would not have expected from a Pinot Noir and a light lingering spiciness that followed the oakiness very slyly, I could tell instantly that I needed to wait a bit for the rest of the bottle. After running some errands and leaving the bottle rest for a coupe hours I went back and visited it and was pleased to find the extra air time had made a world of difference; the spice and oakiness faded away to after thought flavors and the cherry fruit stayed strong with a light underlying tartness that was almost more like the flavor of fresh currants then tart cherries. All in all, not only was OTBN a success, but the wine I chose was delicious and I definitely want to pick up a 2012 bottle to compare their flavors.
Blanton's is one of the first modern bourbons to be marketed as a single barrel. With a bit of digging you can find out that despite an official age statement it's usually aged nine years although the official stance is to bottle it when a sample from the barrel says it's ready.
The smell is caramel, leather, oak, sugary cotton candy, with a noticeable but not overpowering alcohol bite. The taste is heavy oak, black pepper spice, a healthy dose of vanilla, and rich nutty toffee. The finish is warming smooth and mellow. Quality and complexity show well in the flavor.
Overall I'd give it an 8/10. About on par with another single barrel favorite of mine called Four Roses Single Barrel. This one's a bit more rich and nutty than the Four Roses. Impressive stuff.