Saturday, February 27, 2010

2007 Zaca Mesa Z Gris

I don't know what comes over me when I get around good wine. I'm normally a really frugal, level headed, non-spender. I still have jeans from high school! Yes they fit, no, they do not have holes in them, no they are not acid washed, no they are not "Hammer Style" with the elastic waist and cuffs. Good wine seems to bring out my inner high roller.

Case in point, this Z Gris. No, it's not an expensive wine by any means but I don't do things like buy a case of wine, 3 bottles, and a wine club membership all in one trip. Not to mention the case of Mosby Wine and a membership to their club too. Which is what I did.

I learned an interesting fact about wine production and sales when I bought this case. ZM had it on fire sale essentially because they had overproduced and they needed room in their storage. If they didn't sell out that weekend the wine would be, cue dark music, DESTROYED! That's right, they would trash this wine for the insurance money is what they told me. I wish I could do that. I mean think about it. I have insurance on my car, if I bought ANOTHER car I wouldn't have room in my garage for the little toaster I have now. BUT, following ZM's lead I could destroy the little toaster car to MAKE room and get money for doing it. Awesome!

Z Gris is a Rose blend of 96% Grenache and 4% Mourvedre. It's only available part of the year and it's not available every year so that's why when you see it you have to jump on it. At least that's what I told myself when I looked at my credit card statement.

Z Gris is a great wine to pair with a light summer salad, poached fish, or a simple roasted chicken. It has a bright acidity up front that gives way to strawberry, some citrus, and a touch of melon. It's easy to drink and should be served slightly chilled. Not cold, slightly chilled.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

2$ wine NOT from a guy named Chuck

You know your company has made it when it becomes a verb like "Google." When it defines a taste like "Coke." When anything that attaches with a hook and eye system is "Velcro." Any clear plastic tape we call "Scotch." What then do we call cheap wine? That's right, the ubiquitous, "2-Buck Chuck."

I know, we've all heard the famed story of how Charles Shaw's Chardonnay slayed the mighty dragons of Napa at the Orange County Fair in a blind taste test, and I will be the first to admit that it's pretty good(when it doesn't give me a headache after). However, D and I have been drinking a "different" 2-Buck Chuck for the last year and a half. Ladies and Gentlemen  we give you, 2007 Vista Point Chardonnay from Fresh and Easy!

The first thing you should know about this wine is that it is actually CHEAPER than 2-Buck Chuck if you buy 6. 1.97$ The second thing you should note is that yes it still tastes like 1.97$ wine. There is no possible way that a wine can show off the terroir(where it was grown) when it is sourced from throughout ALL of California. There aren't really any distinct flavors it's a bit muddled, but not in a bad way. The finish is over about as fast as you swallow. This wine doesn't linger allowing you to savor it. You just have to keep drinking. Which could be a good or bad thing depending on what your goal for the night is. Drunken debauchery? This wine has got you covered. The other great thing about this wine, and D will probably disagree with me is that I can drink an open bottle out of the refrigerator 3 days later without a problem. A "good" bottle of wine? 1 day max. I'm not sure if I want to know WHY I can drink it so many days later,(Can anyone say preservatives?) but that 1.97$ can really be stretched out.

This wine can go with just about any kind of food you would pair a white wine with though for the simple reason that it IS so nondescript. There's not much if any acid, it's white so no tannins, and there isn't any off aromas, or distinguishable cahracteristics that lend it to one cuisine over another. The perfect middle of the week wine for whatever dish you have planned. Pick some up!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Night Cap...Affligem Blond

Well, the Germans have left the country again. We saw them for the last time on Sunday when we splurged and ate lunch at The Counter down in Irvine. Build your own burger what could be better than that? My order? Beef. Thought about the turkey but D convinced me. How did I order it? Like this,
Me: How rare can I order it?
Waitress: As rare as you want it.
Me: I'll take it like that

Sadly though they are back to that cold cold land so close to Belgium. Ahhhh Belgium. Land of such great beers. Like Affligem Blond. Blond is the most common of Affligem's offerings. Though not a Trappist beer it is brewed in a monastery. Those Belgians, always brewing in God's house. Why can't Americans brew in God's house? I'm sure God wouldn't mind a good IPA every once in a while. Think about it. Sacramental wine or sacramental beer? What if you are like D and don't like grapes? Isn't this the land of choice? I know I know, this is all probably blasphemy and I am a heathen but really, think about it. We might get some more people attending church if we had a choice.

Back to what I was supposed to be talking about. I poured this one over at the Lawyer's house on Sunday for a nightcap with D along with some good old Wild Turkey Honey on the side. Have you ever had Wild Turkey Honey Bourbon? You haven't? Stop what you are doing right now and go down to your local CVS and pick up a bottle. It's cheap and it is sooo smooth. As smooth as this Affligem. This poured a pale  hazy golden straw color with a large head that I had to wait for eons to pour the rest of the bottle into. I definitely found out that this got better the closer to room temperature it got. First sip? Nothing spectacular. Warm it up a little though and it blossomed into a much more refined layered flavor profile. A little hoppy, this beer is pretty dry. I can definitely see this as a front porch heat wave sipper. Satisfying a thirst quenching. Cheap as well as the Belgians go. I'm a fan and at 7% ABV I can down a couple and feel OK about myself.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Moose Drool Brown Ale

The first time I had this was actually IN Montana where Big Sky Brewing is based. My family was up there to go snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park.

If there is one word to describe Montana in the winter it is, "tearductfreezingdontgooutsidecoffeesolidifyinglycold." Yes, that is me, if I was Asian, and could actually grow a mustache. So cold that Big Sky Brewing should have a winter warmer in their every day lineup not as a seasonal. I had arctic cold gear on, my snowmobile had hand and feet warmers, and I had a windscreen in front of me and I still felt like a popsicle, a ridiculously down-filled puffy popsicle. I felt even colder when I saw the animals standing in the frozen river like this beer's namesake on the label of this ridiculously good brown ale.

I managed to make it through my fast ride through a cold hell. The streets were eery. One or two cars, a fading twilight, and nowhere to go because the lanes were hemmed in by 10 foot tall walls of snow and ice. We stopped off at what I remember to be a pizza place on the way back to our hotel.

The pizza was good but they had Moose Drool on tap. I'm not going to lie, I ordered it because of the name. My mom and I still talk about the trip every time we see Moose Drool somewhere. It's fitting that a beer reminds us of good times. If you ever travel with my family, more likely than not a familiar answer to the question, "Where do you want to eat"? Will be answered with, "Somewhere we can get a beer."

Moose Drool pours a deep chocolate brown with a large tan head. The aroma is roasty, toasty, and slightly sweet. The taste is similar. Creamy mouthfeel, brown bread, yeast, and nuttiness covers up a bit of the bitterness that is present for balance. Not too thin not too thick, malty without being syrupy sweet. This beer is just well balanced and at 5.1% ABV it could be a session beer. If you see it somewhere definitely pick up a six, it's not expensive either which is a total boon! My favorite brown ale by far.

German, if you are reading, browns are your thing, pick this up.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sam Adams Cream Stout

Have you ever had anyone hand you a wine glass, beer glass or anything fragile and have them tell you, "These are really expensive don't break it"? Every time someone says that to me my first thought is, "Gee, I sure am glad you said that because the first thing I was going to do after I got my hands on it was smash it." It's kind of like being handed a baby and being told not to drop him/her.

This is just a jab at my friend N who was nice enough to let me use her Riedel beer glasses to pour both the "Jew Beer" and this Sam Adams Cream Stout. She and the Rhino were also nice enough to offer their home to host the Germans and everyone else for Deep Dish Pizza. The Germans baby is sooo cute. New born baby smell is probably one of my favorite smells in the whole world, along with new car, 2006 Zaca Mesa Mourvedre, well made dark Belgian beer, and anything D bakes at home.

As you can see from the photo the stout had a very active HUGE head that took a long time to dissipate and left some really nice lacing on the side of the "very expensive" glass. The aroma was definitely a LOT of roasty toasty coffee and the taste was also a deep roasted coffee flavor. The beer was also not as creamy as I thought a cream stout would be. It tasted a bit thin for my tastes.

On paper this would be a favorite of mine because I love roasty and toasty and coffee but there wasn't enough malt to really balance that slight bitterness. It was akin to a good coffee and eating a bean. Yeah the bean tastes OK but the extra sweetness brought out during the brewing process is what makes that bean's flavors sing. This beer needed that little extra sweetness. Good, but not great.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Beer for Kids...Only in Japan...I Wish I Lived There

Check this article out from the OC Weekly. Yes, babies and beer. Soooo much better than Tony the Tiger.
What's next? Marketing smoking to kids with a cartoon camel? oh, right.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Jew Beer...He'Brew Rejewvenator Hybrid Lager/Ale

The old adage, "Never judge a book by its cover," could not apply more aptly in the case of this half dopplebock, half Belgian style dubbel from He'Brew Brewing. I literally picked this beer up completely as a joke at BevMo as I was walking to check out. D and I have a lot of Jewish friends and  we kid back and forth about religion, race, ethnicity etc. I wish that everyone was as open-minded about these topics as our group is. We would have a lot less problems in the world.

As my mom is famous for saying, "Our little multicultural family" is going to have the cutest kids on the planet. But I digress, I've been in baby mode for the last few days since our German friends have brought their cute little new addition stateside for the first time. I feel like an uncle which is weird. Maybe the Hawaiian part of the family is rubbing off? How many Aunties and Uncles can one family have? I can't keep D's side of the family straight. I already told her I get a pass on names because there are waaaaaay too many to remember at our wedding.

Wow, I REally got off topic there. Back to the Jew Beer as I fondly call it. This poured a really nice coppery red color which was lighter than I expected. It had a decent sized head that was gone pretty quickly but left an aroma of chocolate and cherries that was just fabulous. This tasted almost like a "Three Philosophers" from Brewery Ommegang. It had that hint of Cherry Kriek Lambic on the back end of the finish. Malty, but not too sweet, it had a nice body with a relaxed effervescence that really allowed the taste to shine. Milk chocolate and cherries, mmmm. This one was a winner. Too bad it's a seasonal. I'll be sure to pick up more than one next year.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Fancy Beer...Wing Walker Pale Ale

My college roommate and friend(The Lawyer) moving in virtually next door is either a great thing or a dangerous one depending on how you look at it. Great thing, best friend next door means man time, games, talking about politics, cigars, beer, whiskey, scotch. Dangerous thing, best friend next door with scotch, whiskey, and as he called it, "fancy beer" which was a leftover from Super Bowl. There has been more than a few times that I have done the long walk home after one too many of any of the aforementioned drinks. Ok, so long is relative, it's probably 200 yards, but when you walk 200 yards NOT in a straight line it gets longer!
On to the "fancy beer" which The Lawyer says it's my duty to drink. So drink I shall.
R.J. King Wing Walker Pale Ale from City Brewing Company in Wisconsin. I liked the label, made it look sophisticated. Sophisticated AND fancy I'm moving up in the world here. Too bad the taste didn't live up to it's moniker. This beer was neither high flying nor, daring. It was pretty pedestrian. Aside from the huge head that lasted forever and the nice clear reddish amber hue the beer just wasn't a standout. The flavors were a bit muddled. Little bit of citrus and pine on the nose but not much. All in all? I drank it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Deschutes "Hop Trip"...From the Vine to the Kettle

The Germans +1 are back for a week! There's no way that this beer could have been bad because of the company it was shared with. It's kind of like when D and I share a really good glass of Manishevitz(?) with our Jewish friends. Wait, no, no nonono it's not like that at all. That's all wrong, Manishevitz is awful. Always, despite the company it keeps. Sorry T, Shiraz, and One German out of Two, but your wine sucks.

This beer however, does not suck. Whatever the opposite of suckiness is, this beer is that. Well maybe not the opposite because the opposite of suck is, well, ok so it doesn't suck nor does it do the opposite of suck. It's just, mellow. That's a good word for it. Mellow.

It pours a little hazy at first and then settles down into a clear copper state. Lots of pine in the glass on this one, the reason being the fresh hops. This is a Deschutes Brewing Bond Street Edition Brew that celebrates the hop harvest by using fresh off the vines 4 hours down the road hops. It's an American Pale and without a doubt it is my favorite of this style. Most pale's I drink lately seem to be IPA's in APA's labeling. A litle too bitter, a little too carbonated for me. This one has an almost creamy mouthfeel from the diminished bubbles, and just enough bitterness to level out the malt. D even thought it was good and she's not one for hoppy beers.

It might have been the company, maybe the cute new baby, but I just wanted the sun not to set, it was so warm, and I wanted to sit out on that patio never empty beer in my hand with friends all around and D right next to me

Monday, February 15, 2010

Chaya Downtown L.A.- My First Uni

As a little kid I was a very, well, boring eater. Cheeseburger? Plain, no ketchup, no mustard, no lettuce, no nothing. I distinctly remember telling someone that I thought ketchup was gross. Even though I had never tried it. Salad? Heck no! And DEFinitely not with dressing. Vegetables were not my thing. I was a meat and potatoes guy. Literally. I ate broccoli begrudgingly, okra on orders only, and peas under protest. I thought Indian food was too spicy and raw fish was for the birds.

This was me until I was out of college. Once I graduated it was like I had passed through some lame food barrier. I don't know what the heck changed in me but suddenly I couldn't get enough greens, cooked fish was too warm, and I put hot sauce on the nuclear holocaust hot-wings. There was, and to this day nothing I won't try once. Well maybe one, D knows what it is. It starts with a B and ends with a half formed baby duck. Maybe I draw the line at fetuses.

This new found love for new found food brings us to last weekend. It was our friend's birthday and we were going to Chaya in Downtown L.A. Chaya is one of a slew of Asian fusion restaurants that seem to be showing no sign of being played out. Chaya leans less heavily on the fusion side though. It's more of an upscale contemporary restaurant with a sushi menu. They use yuzu and ponzu. Kobe beef carpaccio is there. They have classic Italian fare, paella, and sea bass.

Hmmm, now that I think of it this place was a real hodgepodge of cuisines. Kind of like the chandelier they had in the lobby built of cheap, plastic, Asian made toys, utensils, and various and sundry colorful items. No fusion but it seemed to work.

Looking at the menu I was really excited to finally try two different things that rarely show up on a menu that I feel comfortable ordering them from. Uni(sea urchin roe), not so rare, and pan roasted sweetbreads(thymus gland in the throat of a calf), more rare. I ordered the Uni sashimi as an appetizer and the pan roasted sweetbreads with herb grilled gulf shrimp as my entree. I was really stoked to have these offal(sorry couldn't resist the pun) items checked off of my "must try list."

It was not to be however. I was thwarted by our server when he informed me that they were out of sweetbreads. Out of sweetbreads? I didn't think that would be something there would be a sudden run on but never the less I had to settle for uni, a scallop roll, and one of my all time favorite sushi picks, unagi(freshwater eel).

Everything came all together as an entree and the presentation was beautiful as you can see here. The portion of uni was HUGE!

Sorry about the pics the lighting was really low and I was with people who would think I was REALLY weird if I started snapping multiple pictures of my food. The couple that I did take had already drawn some odd looks from the guy seated across from me that I had just met.

I went for the uni first. Using chopsticks I picked up the first piece and just let the flavors mingle around in my mouth. All I can say is wow, if you love seafood, I mean, love the fishy, oceany, smells of the sea, THAT is what was now concentrated in my mouth. A pudding of the sea with a bit more substance. I loved the texture, I loved the taste. It was not briny or salty like I thought it was going to be. It just had a concentration of the ocean that was amazing. The other amazing thing? D asked to try it! I knew she wasn't going to like it, but she wanted to try it. D does not like ANY fishiness so, we all know how that turned out. I gave her a tiny piece which she took down quickly. Just as quickly she screwed up her face and turned up her nose and declared it was too fishy. But, "at least I can say I tried uni!" I'm slowly getting her into this seafood thing.

I ended up being the last one eating because I was enjoying my meal. I wasn't really paying attention to the fact that my dinner mates had wolfed down their mostly traditional pasta dishes and were now staring at what I had on my plate with a "what the heck died on there"? look on their faces. So now not only am I the guy that took pictures of his food with a big fancy camera I am now the guy who eats weird food. Oh well, my food was great. The scallop roll was pedestrian and the unagi was great as usual. Can anyone DO bad unagi? I've never been disappointed. Crisp edges soft interior, with a light ponzu on top. And the coup de grace? The uni was every bit as good as I had hoped for. Anyone know who serves some good sweetbreads?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Monks Are Back!...Rochefort 6

Mmmm....I love me some monk beer. This one had everything that Orval didn't. A deep dark coppery brown color, slightly fruity and musky bread on the nose, a tinge of alcohol and enough carbonation lighten the body a bit.  This one was roasted malt sweet with enough hops to tone it down. All of Rochefort's beers are bottle conditioned so there is a bit of yeast and sediment on the bottom. Where Orval had failed me Rochefort 6 made me want to keep drinking all night.

The "6" is Rochefort Abbey's lowest ABV beer at 7.5% The others being the "8" and "10" at 9.2% and 11.3% respectively. The 6 is only brewed twice a year and is only 1% of their total production so it can be a bit hard to come by.

Through a bit of research I've found some pretty interesting things about the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Saint-Rémy which is located near the town of Rochefort from which the beer takes it's name. There are only 15 monks at the Abbey and like the other Trappists they are extremely secretive about their brewing process. One of the more interesting things about Rochefort is that the water used in the beer is drawn from a well inside the abbey's walls so the entire process is contained within the cloisters. It might sound ridiculous but I love drinking Trappist beer in part because of the history. That question of which of the 15 monks who live and breathe this ale poured my beer into the bottle for the final fermentation? So next time you are drinking Bud Light, ask yourself the question, "Which completely automated machine squirted my homogeneously created, artificially carbonated, wizz water into my bottle"?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Beer Snobs at Superbowl and a New Pale Ale

Is it a rule at Superbowl parties that the only beer you are allowed to drink must end with the word "light" or "lite"? I was actually called a beer snob for bringing a Sam Adams Brewer's pack over.

Thank goodness I wasn't the only one who appreciates something more than yellow fizzy water.

I was pleasantly surprised to see some of this excellent Pale Ale from Pyramid Brewing. Pyramid's new seasonal pale ale "Fling" is a pretty good addition to their lineup. A little less hoppy than their Thunderhead IPA it's a nice bridge for anyone who doesn't like IPA levels of bitterness but wants something with more bite than one of those wizz water beers. Nice aroma of hoppy spice on the nose and a clear golden hue with a decent head. Hopefully this one will become a consistent member of Pyramid's rotation.

If you read my review on their "Audacious" Apricot Ale I would put my vote in to scrap the fruity and replace it with pale.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Zaca Mesa 2006 Mourvedre

I'm just going to jump right in here and say that this Mourvedre from Zaca Mesa was amazing. D and I received this bottle originally as one of our selections from the Zaca Mesa Cellar Club. We enjoyed it so much that I immediately called to hold another bottle to be shipped with our next shipment. This wine was made in limited quantities so I wanted to be sure to get another one before it was sold out, which, at this time, sadly it has.

The shipment of our Cellar Club selections is always a bit problematic since the educational system seems to frown on alcohol being present around minors(although I had a Spanish teacher in high school that, for reasons that have become clear to me, kept a bottle of tequila in her desk) and receiving the shipment requires a signature. Through a series of snafu's our shipment, that was supposed to be sent to D's work, was sent to our house, where nobody was, on a Friday. Which meant that now, our wine, would be sitting who knows where, in who knows what type of conditions, at the UPS loading docks, ALL weekend. I was to say the least, not pleased. 

Like all of ZM's offerings, mourvedre is a classic Rhone varietal, however it is grown internationally. It's often times blended with grenache to soften up the tannins and provide a wider spectrum of flavors and aromas. This bottle however is 100% mourvedre which led to a very classic aroma and taste. The first wiff off the top of the glass was beautiful. Deep, dark, earthy smell, hints of chocolate, a little leather. I literally remarked to D that I could just smell it all night. I haven't had many wines with that much depth of aroma. The taste easily stood up to the aroma. Hints of choclate, soft red fruit, layers of earthiness, granite , and a finish that lasted for what seemed like minutes. Great wine, I wish I could have bought a case. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Unibroue Maudite at The Edison

If you have ever been to The Edison in Downtown L.A. you know what a unique space it is. Entering from street level you descend several flights of stairs to the bowels of a now defunct Edison Power Plant. Redolent of history there are old generators and other reminders of an era dedicated to classy cocktails, and classic cocktail flapper dresses. Known for innovation in blending historical libations with a twist the menu is heavy on gin and bourbon. Now normally I would be all over their relatively extensive collection of Scotch but I was driving and I had noticed a beer that was on my list of must try's from Michael Jackson. I have had a couple offerings from Canada's Unibroue Brewery so I was 
expecting nothing less than perfection from one that had made Jackson's list. Unibroue's Maudite is a Belgian Strong Dark Ale and clocks in at a relatively hefty 8 % ABV. It sports an impressive label depicting a rather hellish scene as you can see from the picture here. "Maudite" in Quebecois literally means "damned" and the passengers of the canoe certainly were as they reneged on their deal with the devil to have him fly them home for Christmas. None of them made it as they all plummeted to the ground. This fated trip's end had much in common with how I felt about this beer. Maybe it was a case of trumped up expectations but Maudite left me feeling disappointed. I expect a belgian strong ale to have a bit of body to the brew but this one was little anemic. The flavor was one dimensional there was just not the layering I had expected. I've had Unibroue's Trois Pistoles and that is far and away a superior brew to the Maudite.  I was glad I got to try the beer but I was more glad to have had it in the rough hewn surroundings of The Edison.

Pyramid Audacious Apricot Ale...Audaciously Awful

I'm not against a good beer with added flavoring. Pumpkin beers are great, I've even had a halfway decent blueberry beer from Sea Dog Brewery. Little T has a thing for fruit in his beer it seems because he even brought over a strawberry beer from Pete's Brewing that I didn't completely hate. But this, this, I took one sip and put it down the drain. Yuck, Gross, Nasty, Disgusting, Unpleasant, Sickening, Foul, Vulgar, Crass, ok that was the last of the synonyms. This beer wasn't even worth a follow up swallow. It tasted like skunked beer that had apricots fermenting in it. Gross, again. Nuff Said.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Why Foodmented?

I'm a scientist, ok ok, I'm a big nerd, and no, that's not me in the picture. Bazinga! I like reading about the latest application for stemcells, I listen to NPR, and I understand ALL the jokes on "The Big Bang Theory." Which, by the way is the best show on television. Bazinga!

Being the big nerd that I am, I really enjoy the scientific process of how things are made. Yes, I was that kid who took things apart and put them back togethersorta. Food is so cool to me because it really is all just science wrapped up in a pretentious artsy package. You have some pioneers in the molecular gastronomy world breaking down the mystique like Hervé This and chef Pierre Gagnaire and their quest for the perfectly cooked egg. Proteins are splendorous things that are completely predictable. They fold specific ways and change in specific ways relative to their treatments. Heat, cold, chemicals, all effect them in certain ways. The great thing is that with technology we can control these conditions to mold food to our liking.

The same can be said for alcohol. Whereas before in the middle ages they viewed fermentation as a "magical" occurance we now know that it is due to microscopic organisms called yeast.
 Yeast come in many different forms and they all impart a different flavor to those beverages we all know and love. The use and control of those yeasts along with the food(sugars) we give them is what makes Budweiser taste like well, nothing, and a craft brew taste like, well, much better.

So in a roundabout way I guess I've tried to explain foodmented. It's food, and fermented, combined.
Just like I'm a nerd and a foodie combined.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Stone Vertical Epic 9.9.09

This one was great and probably was that much better because of the company it came with. I actually had this one last year over Thanksgiving weekend. The girls went to "tea" and I thought, hmmmm, Earl Grey or English Ale? Rooibos or Irish Red? I think you know where I'm going with this one. I definitely think that a scone pairs much better with a doppelbock than a double bag of black. So with that in mind my brother(Littlesorta T) and my dad headed over to the Haven. I ordered a La Chouffe in a bottle, my dad had bottled Stone Levitation and on draft I was surprised my brother actually ordered something that didn't look like carbonated wizz water. He had the Vertical Epic 9.9.09.

Since 2002 Stone has put out a dated bottle one year, one month, and one day later with 09.09.09 being the eighth edition. The idea being that you buy at least two of these bottles each year and save one for a vertical tasting of all 11 on 12.12.12.
All of the choices are bottle conditioned and designed to be cellared for that long. Yes, beer can be cellared. I have in my possession a couple bottles that are putting some age on them right now(mmm...Abyss).
09.09.09 clocks in at 8.6 ABV and is classified as a Belgian Strong Ale. It pours out inky black with a tall tan head. First wiff? Chocolate, bready Belgian yeast, a little coffee, citrus(hops), and a tinge of alcohol. Pretty heavy silky body with not much carbonation surprisingly. This ended up being the favorite of the three although I still stand by my gnome.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

You Wish You Were This Talented...Cake & Co.

D loves to bake. If she could bake for a living she would. I would be 300 pounds and on "Biggest Loser: My Spouse Made Me This Way" but SHE would be happy because her piping was impeccable. Who am I kidding? 300 Pounds? I would be the skinny kid at fat camp if I was only 300. Don't get me wrong, I'm continually impressed with the fortitude of the contestants on that show (D and I are obsessed, thanks to B and L, Alias: The Germans)

 D is an amazing artist, which is good, because I am not. Stick figures are my forte and even those look like random lines with eyes, and sometimes hair. It's a good thing being a science nerd does not require incredible artistic talent because I'd be royally screwed. When I draw my students laugh at me, at least I know at THAT point they are paying attention. Unfortunately even if I could draw a picture perfect proton I'm not sure how many of them would know what it was.
I wanted to show off just a few of her amazing creations.
Check her out at for a better idea of just how amazing she is.
She will probably kill me for this but oh well.

Please excuse the pictures. The non-artistic one, AKA, Me took them.
 From Top to Bottom: Handpainted Around the World, Plumeria, Toasted Coconut Mini, USC Trojans

Friday, February 5, 2010

Zaca Mesa Viognier 2008

D and I love the Rhone Valley varietals. Syrah is the staple red grape along with Grenache, while Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussanne make up the bulk of the white wines, with some rare Picpoul or Clairette Blanc as well as Clairette Ronde which is the same as Italian Trebbiano.

Zaca Mesa is without a doubt our favorite winery with Schramsberg in Calistoga a close second since they are, aside from one Cabernet Sauvignon, a sparkling wine producer and are in a category of their own.

I have to take credit for finding ZM in Santa Ynez. D and I try and hit at least one winery we haven't tried whenever we make it up North and I (through dumb luck I will admit) read through ZM's offerings and thought it sounded good with all the Rhone.

ZM is a very approachable winery. Everyone is extremely helpful and accomadating. Their tasting room is top notch and if you are part of their Cellar Club you have access to your own special room, free tastings, as well as bottles not available to non-members. Swanky I know. It makes me feel special to walk through those golden doors. Well, maybe not golden, and maybe a little more like wooden barn doors since it is actually housed in a converted barn. I said it was homey right? D and I fit right in.

D and I opened up this the other night to have with Mabo Tofu, a spicy dish, thinking that the acidity would cut through the heat. This same pairing works well with an IPA where the bitterness is a nice offset to the Cock Sauce(Sriracha) flame. Yes, that's right Cock Sauce Flame, you heard me. Unfortunately, D, who had so wonderfully agreed to cook the Mabo(she hates mabo) found out that we were out of the sauce! I admit I had a brief moment where I thought she had hidden it somewhere but it proved to be untrue. SO what did we do? Well, what did my wonderful fiancee do? She whipped up probably the best Japanese curry we have had yet. Amazing. And the Viognier? Perfect with the dish. It had a really bright opening, effervescent acidity, lemon, lime, lychee, and a little bit of peach. SOOOO good! This could make a possible appearance at our wedding. More on that later, and more on ZM in posts to come. I have stacks of accolades for them. They are a MUST if you are in Santa Ynez.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Bruery Rugbrød Rye Beer

The Bruery is based out of Placentia but has quite a large distributorship as well as quite a following it seems. This was my first taste of what is supposed to be a traditional rye beer. I LOVE pastrami on rye with some good sauerkraut. Mmmmm, sauerkraut beer...I mean mmmmm, rye beer. I was really looking forward to that earthy, musky, rye flavor coming through on this beer but unfortunately I didn't get it. This poured a nice dark brown and had a large head that dissipated quickly, all in all a good looking pour. Slightly hazy the beer definitely had a yeasty, malty smell. There was a slight hint of the rye on the back end but the most part this tasted a bit like a porter with a little less body and a little more carbonation. Hints of coffee, roast, and toast.  Good beer, just not what I expected.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My Fast Italian Baby

Here she is, my brand new Colnago CX-1. I wish I hadn't had my OTHER bike stolen to get this one but I'm not complaining...too much anyway. I do promise if I ever see someone riding my Specialized I WILL run them over with my car, AFTER I get the bike back. HUGE thank you to Banning's Bikes in Fullerton they are the best shop I have ever been to. They gave me a screaming deal on a bike I never thought would be possible to own. Yes, good deal is relative, don't ask me how much it actually cost. Best thing is? D MADE me buy it!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Cali-Belgique, VERY Different Stone Brew

I like a lot of Stone's stuff. Ever since I had their IPA I've slowly worked my way through their entire lineup. Many people though have a hard time with their style. As the back of the Arrogant Bastard Ale boldly states, "This is an aggressive beer. You probably won't like it. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth." Stone brews for people who love beer, not for people who drink beer. Some of their stuff is over the top, like "Ruination" with an IBU level of 100+. Bitter Bitter Bitter but done well because it's balanced. I was intrigued by Cali-Belgique because IPA's(the Cali part) and Belgian brews(The Belgique part) are my favorite beer styles. The yeasty complexity of a good Belgian paired with the citrusy, piney, flavor of an IPA sounded great and the fact that Stone didn't go overkill at 6.9 ABV was a nice surprise. This officially is now my favorite Stone offering. It has a really nice creamy mouthfeel with not too much carbonation, like silk going down. The hops are not overdone they are just a nice backnote to the malty, bready, yeasty feel that the Belgian yeast provides. Pick some up!