Wednesday, March 31, 2010

2007 Core C 100% Tempranillo

I'm working on becoming a better photographer but this bottle from our #2 favorite winery was giving me fits because it was really dark. Without a light box I had a hard time shooting this 100% tempranillo that poured every bit as dark as the vessel it came in, so even though the picture says 2005 our bottle was actually a 2007.

D and I wanted something that was red but light the other night with dinner and usually a tempranillo fits the bill. We poured this and the first thing that struck us was how inky it was. It was really dark with some hints of garnet around the rim. The next thing that hit us was the alcohol. It was pretty boozy. I looked at the ABV and it wasn't abnormally high for a California red(Cali likes to up the booze factor). There was also a significant amount of oak and leather on the nose which is a diffferent for a tempranillo.

The first sip I definitely got booze, but there was a hint of chocolate, leather, spice, and just a really unctuous earthiness to this wine. We knew that this was a little young to be drinking now so we hoped it would calm down as it aired a bit. We both left our glasses alone for a good 10 minutes and then tried again. MMmmm more chocolate, more leather, more spice. With all of those qualities you would think that this wine was a big heavy wine but it was surprisingly light in body. This thing was getting good.

D and I had a glass or so each the first night and left the bottle corked with our awesome Rabbit Stoppers. If you don't have a set of these you NEED one. They are the best stoppers ever. They don't stick up too high and they are AIRTIGHT. They will keep bubbles in your bubbly. I even use them to stopper up my 22 Oz beers I don't finish on my own.

Back to the wine though. We reopened it the next night and this thing had blossomed. This was now an unctuous, chocolatey, leathery, earthy, wonder of a wine. One day later this wine was so much better. We had to drink it wuick though because it started turning about 30 minutes after the second opening.

This was a great bottle.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sam Adams Noble Pils

This is another entry from our venerable brewer Sam Adams. I haven't been very impressed with what's come out of my Brewer's Pack I bought a while back. The Cream Stout? Ehh, Coastal Wheat? Double Ehh with an isn't this supposed to be different than Miller Light? The only one that has been interesting so far is the Scotch Ale. Little bit of smoked peat fading in from a sweet front end. Interesting.

Noble Pils though? Brewed with all 5 noble hops? (I thought there were only 4? Maybe that 5th makes it REALLY noble?) It's not bad. I would say light pale ale bitter with a slight citrus taste. It would be a good bbq beer. I'd definitely drink this over their staple Boston Lager any day.

So in short here is a handy guide to the Sam Adams Brewer's Pack:

Boston Lager: Ehh
Coastal Wheat: See above
Cream Stout: Hmmm, it's different but definitely not a "cream" stout. See above
Noble Pils: This is a great beer to have in one hand while you have BBQ tongs in the other.
Scotch Ale: This is great paired up with the meat you just grilled while holding the Noble Pils in your hand.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sam Adams Coastal Wheat

This was the SECOND beer I poured D on our weekly chili and rice Monday a week or two ago. Strike 2! I was trying to find D a beer to have and I wasn't worried about pairing. She is very particular about the beer she likes, not bitter, not dark(usually), and not heavy.

She's really good about trying anything I put in front of her. Sometimes her face tells me what she thinks long before she can get a word out, at which point I attempt to get an "I'm sorry" out before she can get a "That's gross!" out.

See the idea is to introduce her slowly to different beers, kind of like seafood. I've gotten her hooked on halibut and some other more meaty fish. I've pretty much given up on fruit though. Wine yes, whole fruit? Pretty much no.

Anyway, I wasn't impressed with this wheat beer either. It was a bit anemic and didn't have that semi creamy mouthfeel of a hefeweizen. It was a bit cloudy but it tasted like a big box lager. Cloudy Wizz Water. Not worth it. Sam, buddy, step up your game! So far your scotch ale is the only one worth drinking from the Brewer's Pack I bought.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Mosby Lucca Red Table Wine

Mosby was the first wine club D and I joined. D introduced them to me on our first trip to Santa Ynez and I fell in love with their Stelline di Moscato Sparkling and the Sangiovese. Unfortunately, or fortunately, however you want to look at it, D and I have moved on to greener pastures and better wine. We will still go to Mosby to stock up on Stelline every time we are up there but those beautiful quarterly bottles will no longer be delivered to our doorstep.
One of these bottles that was delivered was Mosby's Vino Rosso Di Santa Barbara which is their version of Italian table wine. They also have a white table wine as well. "Lucca" is a blend of mostly Sangiovese with some Dolcetto and tastes similar to a Chianti you would find on any Italian restaurant in Rome. It has a light oak taste, low tannin, and drinks well with about anything you could think of that a light red wine should be paired with. Think red sauce, lean steak, chicken, and pizza. I'd stay away from braised wild boar Bordelais but other than that you should be good to go and at 10.50-14$ a bottle depending on if you are a cellar club member you really can't go wrong with have a few of these bottles on hand for unexpected company.

Friday, March 26, 2010

2007 Zaca Mesa Grenache

Oh Zaca Mesa how I love thee. Not only do you make incredible Rhone varietal wine but your tasting facility is hands down the best I have ever been to.

D and I are part of the Cellar Club. Picture all of those swanky, ultra exclusive clubs in LA, New York, and Vegas. Got a picture in your mind? Good. Not cooler than this one.

We get our own room, we get our own server, we get our own glasses, we get our own table, we get chocolate, we can meander(yes meander) around while we drink, we can drink pretty much whatever we want to try, AND, yes there's an and, we can play on the GIANT chess board.

Our trip to ZM last weekend was highlighted by the beautiful weather we enjoyed all weekend, the beautiful company, at least on D's end(love you), and the incredible experience we had at a soon to be reviewed new winery we found. Oh and of course we had to cap it at ZM.

This 2007 100% grenache was not popped at ZM we pulled it from our fridge but we did taste a 2006 there which caused us to want to pop this one. Sounded like a good idea at the time but it definitely needed another year of aging because it was a bit harsh. A little too much alcohol and a little too much tannin. We drank the rest of the bottle the next night and everything had calmed down considerably. MMMmmmm.

As usual ZM rules.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Avery IPA "BeerStorm"

I like what JD from Lost in the Beer Aisle called this cross country beer collaboration, a "beerstorm." Get it? Sooo much better than a brainstorm we had to do in school.

JD and I finally were able to get this one together despite 3 time zones, JD getting a virus last week, and my computer getting one this week, but we did prevail so without furthur ado I give you the first Foodmented Beerstorm.

Lost_in_beer: I'm ready to drink some
BreworFerment: for sure I love me some Avery
BreworFerment: popping and pouring now
Lost_in_beer: Have you ever tried this before?
BreworFerment: nope you?
Lost_in_beer: natta
BreworFerment: Not much of a head on mine and it's pretty much gone already
BreworFerment: no lacing, poured into a regular pint glass
Lost_in_beer: I'm got 1 finger of head, which (to the contrary) is kinda just sitting there
BreworFerment: hmmm I've got a little bit of peach fuzz hanging out on the top but that's it
Lost_in_beer: I've noticed that on a couple of these beerstorms...dunno if it is differing pours, or differing amounts of carb. in the bottles
BreworFerment: elevation maybe? I don't know if that would have something to do with it
BreworFerment: I'm at sea level you?
Lost_in_beer: Slightly above? I actually have no idea :)
BreworFerment: I'm a science teacher and we've been talking about air pressure so that's why I was wondering
BreworFerment: weird thing to wonder I guess
Lost_in_beer: Intriguing though
Lost_in_beer: Over the past fall I was REALLY getting turned off by IPAs
Lost_in_beer: But I took at least a month (maybe two now) off from them
BreworFerment: There was a ton of pine on this one but it's toned down now that it's been sitting a first time back?
BreworFerment: Which one turned you off? I took some time off too after a Green Flash West Coast IPA
Lost_in_beer: Everything i was tasting was the same thing...grapefruity
Lost_in_beer: Not a lot of variety
Lost_in_beer: And I'm a sweet beer kinda guy, so a bitter beer really needs to bring it
BreworFerment: yeah...I really liked the Punk IPA from Brewdog that's what kind of brought me back
BreworFerment: well balanced, not bitter for bitter's sake
BreworFerment: This one is not too bad but there isn't much malt there
Lost_in_beer: This Avery is definitely piney
Lost_in_beer: Way more pine than grapefruit
BreworFerment: the aroma is toned down like I said but the taste is definitely all pine
BreworFerment: hint of the fruit but not much
BreworFerment: good carbonation but I tend to like my beers a little more full, that Brewdog was not as bubbly which gave a nice body to it. This one has got decent body, lingers a bit syrupy on the back end
Lost_in_beer: Generally, I'm not down
Lost_in_beer: Getting back to what you said about bitter for bitter sake...this beer is piney for piney sake!
Lost_in_beer: No balance
BreworFerment: yeah... it smells and tastes like Northern California forest where I grew up
BreworFerment: I'm getting a little bit of alcohol burn too even though it's only 6.3 ABV
BreworFerment: LOOONGGG piney finish though, I'm swallowing and still tasting pinecone
Lost_in_beer: Just like licking a tree :)
Lost_in_beer: Definitely a hop-head kinda brew
Lost_in_beer: I was just looking up the IBU - 69ish
BreworFerment: yeah. It's funny I haven't had a super high IBU beer like 90 Minute but I used to really like it. I wonder if I still would, or if I liked it because despite the high IBU it was balanced
BreworFerment: This one is only 60 something like you said but still pretty bitter
BreworFerment: What of you think of this one now that its warming? Any better?
Lost_in_beer: Kinda grows on you, but in part I think it's because your tongue gets used to the pine-attack
Lost_in_beer: Final reflections on the Avery IPA?
BreworFerment: One Note Pinecone Wonder
BreworFerment: Drinkable but I won't buy another 6
BreworFerment: You?
Lost_in_beer: I couldn't have said it better
Lost_in_beer: Glad I only bought a single
Lost_in_beer: A good selection for bitter beer lovers though
BreworFerment: Alright well getting late there I'll let you go, this was great we should do it again if you are up for it
Lost_in_beer: I'd totally be up for another. Thanks for joining me tonight!

Thanks JD I had a lot of fun doing this and I had a GOOD reason to drink beer in front of the computer this time. Hopefully we'll do it again soon.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Bruery Hottenroth Berliner Weisse

One of the best and least well known secrets of Whole Foods in Irvine at The District is the incredible selection of beer that they have. Not only do they have a great selection of bottled micro-brews but comparatively they are very cheap.They also always have 4 brews on tap, an Enomatic machine for wine, and light tapas. Not to mention the beers in bottle that they source from various beers throughout the country for their tastings that change every weekend. 

D and I had date night last Sunday and we were planning on going to see Alice in Wonderland in 3D at The District. As an aside, 3D is totally worth it but the IMAX isn't. The movie is amazing though. D and I love to get sandwiches made in the deli and then sit in the wine bar to enjoy them. Pretzel bread is the best! It's quiet in the back and hardly anybody is ever in there. D usually gets a glass of sparkling and this time I chose to get this beer off the tap. 2.99$!!!!! How can you beat a pint of premium for 2.99? Don't strain your brain, you can't

This was my second sour beer that I have ever had. The first being the Duchesse De Bourgogne I reviewed a while back. Mmmm...warm oaked cherry Coke. Not exactly a good first impression of the sour beer style. 

 Described by The Bruery as a tart German-style Berliner Weisse which is a sour, cloudy, German wheat beer of low alcohol(3%ABV usually). 

The sourness is created using Lactobacillus(Milk Yeast) and a hint of brettanomyces (Brett brings the funk).
Stats: ABV: 3.1%, IBU: 2, SRM: 2, 

Appearance: Very light yellow and a little cloudy with little to no head coming out of the tap.

Aroma: Despite using Brettanomyces in this brew there was surprisngly little funkiness coming out of the glass. "Brett" is usually kept as far away from traditional beers as possible BECAUSE of the funkiness so I found it odd I couldn't really detect it. It smelled, sweet but not malty with a hint of lemon.

Taste: Have you ever had one of those picnic drinks where they combine beer and lemonade? That's kind of what this tasted like. Like a Hefeweizen with extra extra extra lemon squeezed in. Little bit of sour tang but not too much. At first I wasn't sure if I liked it, but as I got deeper into the glass I found it really refreshing. Creamy mouthfeel but light, even though there weren't too many bubbles. One of the best things about it is that at 3.1% ABV you CAN drink a lot of it while mowing the grass on a hot day. 

This one is not easy to get everywhere but if you can it's definitely worth a try, and even though it only comes in a 750 ml in the store you can drink it all yourself and feel ok about it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sam Adams Scotch Ale

Over our what seems like weekly meal of chili and rice I talked D into trying out this beer. D is really good about at least trying a sip of NEARLY everything I have. I promised I wouldn't make her try anything TOO bitter. IPA's are not her thing. I did however have her try a sour ale from The Bruery on our date night Sunday though, sorry CC. Remember bitter beer face? This was sour beer face. Sorry!  She wasn't as excited about that one as I was. She also wasn't real fond of the Scotch Ale although there was no excruciated(but entertaining) face that went along with it.

I was really surprised by how much I liked this beer. In general macrobrews are not my thing, they promise so much and deliver next to nothing. This is the fourth Sam Adams I have tried out of their Brewer's Pack. I reviewed their Cream Stout and reviews of the Coastal Wheat and Prima Pils will be coming.

Appearance: Clear dark copper with not much of a white head. No lacing and the head was gone nearly before I could take a picture.

On another note I'm not sure why the head is such an important thing. I mean, there are reasons WHY there are bigger or smaller heads and people say that it releases more aroma(skeptical) but to judge quality from that is wrong in my opinion. A dirty glass or one with soap residue will kill the head no matter how quality the brew.

Aroma: This one fell down here. Not much to smell. Beer, maybe?

Taste: This one really had a good flavor. Four different types of barley including one that is peat smoked like Scotch Whiskey. The smokiness definitely came across in the front end of the sip and it mellowed out into a slightly sweet malty note at the end. Inbetween those two was a nice little bitterness and the whole thing lingered for quite a while.

Overall: Very impressed and it is even a bit higher ABV like a proper Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy. Definitely a drink again.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Segura Viudas Aria Brut Cava

We picked this up the night of what I am going to call, "The Great Douche Baggery." Now that the whole thing is official, I mean, I've been "de-friended" on Facebook! When did that word become a verb? I mean I can understand "Google" being a verb but "de-friended"? That word is about as lame as the person doing the de-friending, well almost as lame anyway. It's pretty hard to be more lame than "The Great Douche Bag."

And if you are wondering, no, The Great Douche Bag is not at all like "The Great Pumpkin" in Charlie Brown who passes out toys to all the good little girls and boys that believe in him. Although, in a way, I guess he could be. The Great Pumpkin never shows up, disappoints those that believe in him, and is a fictional character existing in this case, purely in his own mind. Hmmm, philosophical and deep, I think it's time to stop this rant.

Cava is a sparkling wine from Spain that is made in the traditional bottle fermented method of Champagne. It is much cheaper than "real" Champagne but still can have all the biscuity, yeasty, bready, nuances that Champagne has since it's secondary fermentation is done in the bottle. Cava is spanish for cave and most of these wines are traditionally stored in caves in riddling racks. Lovingly turned by the riddler, (who does not dress in spandex with question marks on them) these wines are definitely budget friendly and satisfying.

D and I have a favorite from Fresh and Easy Market that is 5$ and I like their Rose as well that is 6$. If I remember right this one was 9$ from BevMo and it was decent. Fresh and Easy's is more drinkable as it is a bit more fruit forward. This one was VERY dry on the finish, which made it more of a sipper than a celebrate The Great Douchebaggery sparkler. All in all good, but I would try something else at that price point next time.

Oh and stay tuned for the first ever cross country tweeted beer tasting at Foodmented! I'm very excited! What can I say I am a HUGE nerd.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Mosby Wine's 2006 Ossessione

Mosby Winery in Santa Ynez makes exclusively Italian varietals in the classic styles of their origins. This is one of our favorite wineries and also one that we are a member of their cellar club. One of the best things about this winery aside from their wine is their incredibly artistic and beautiful labels as you can see from the picture of Ossessione. Each one of their offerings has a similarly elaborate label created by an artist named Robert Scherer of Appiano, Italy. All of them are done in watercolors and have won several awards.

Ossessione is a true Italian import with the grapes coming from Marche, Italy near the Adriatic Sea. They are sold as Montepulciano D'Abruzzo in Italy and they are the TRUE Montepulciano grape varietal unlike some of what we get here which is Montepulciano Nobile.

D and I paired this wine with some red sauced pasta with meatballs. The wine poured a very deep purple out of the bottle and had a pretty deep aroma. The wine was very fruit forward with strawberry, raspberry, and other red fruits dominating. The first sip was all fruit but as this wine settled the tannins really came out and it became a mouth puckerer. I was a fan of the first 10 minutes of this wine but not so much as it sat. I'm hoping that the tannin will fade when I finish off the bottle tonight.

Update: No such luck on the tannin fading.
Overall, too much tannin for me although I would drink it if given a bottle I wouldn't buy another one.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Wow, More Beer Products for Babies

First it was Japan and their "Beer for Babies." Now we have a company creating tiny baby "Bunwiper" baby bottles made to look like Budweiser bottles complete with nipple. Needless to say Budweiser was not amused. They are suing the company making the bottles for trademark infringement.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Brew Dog Hardcore IPA

Are YOU hardcore? I think the answer to this question for anyone used to drinking a West Coast IPA is, yes.

Brewdog's Hardcore IPA is more like Showtime, or Skinemax than Hardcore. That's not to say that it's bad, I was just expecting a bit more bitterness than what was in the glass. Especially since I could smell the hops literally from across the table, and I don't profess to have a great schnoz, AND the schnoz is stuffed up at this time. The pine aroma was exploding up out of the glass and bottle the second this was popped and poured.

There definitely was a whole lot of aromatic hops but they must have skipped the bittering hops brewing step because this was no more bitter than their "Punk IPA" that I reviewed previously.

Appearance: Golden Yellow, very small head, quite a bit of bubbles

Aroma: HUGE pine, hoppy, hoppy, hoppy. A little citrus, lemon.

Taste: Decent body weight, not too thin, not syrupy. Carbonation felt low despite the amount of bubbles for some odd reason. Much more carbonation than the "Punk IPA" though. Not as balanced as the "Punk" either. It didn't taste more bitter but there wasn't that sweetness to balance it out. The lemon in the aroma came through in the taste as well.

Overall: Good, but I'd rather drink their "Punk IPA" because it is better balanced.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Left Coast's Torrey Pines IPA

Ahh Man's Night how I love you. Man's night is so much easier now that the lawyer moved down the street. Middle of the week drunkenness is now not only possible, but safe, and responsible as well. Last week's Man's Night was highlighted by the movie "The Hurt Locker."I know it's up for an Oscar for Best Picture but aside from the visuals(I'd give it a nod for cinematography) the only thing I was impressed with was the size of the soldier's, ahem, cajones. Voluntarily disarming crazy bombs that look like they might blow up if you look at them wrong, let alone touch them, is not my idea of a plum assignment.

So little bro showed up at Man's Night with this beer. I told him to bring something interesting and he delivered. Not that that is unusual, well, ok a little. He had been two for two on fruit beer. I mean, strawberry and blueberry beer? Interesting yes, tasty? Not so much. That's why I was glad when he pulled out this IPA.

Appearance: Hazy copper coming straight out of the bottle but it cleared quickly. HUGE head. I overflowed the glass and I have not done that in a long time. It stayed there for a while too with lots of lacing. I definitely had a foam mustache because I couldn't wait to get into this one, the smell was awesome.

Aroma: Lots of pine, very very woodsy just like a good IPA should be.

Taste: I love bitter, but bitter without balance is just crap in my opinion. Left Coast nailed the balance. This beer was bitter but it didn't give you bitter beer face(Remember those commercials?) Nor does it strip your taste buds like turpentine. There is enough residual malt sugar to tone down the hops but this beer is far from sweet. A light lemon flavor almost reminiscent of a hefeweizen  and it also has that creamy mouthfeel like a good unfiltered hef does.

Overall: Great beer

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Brew Dog Punk IPA

Ever since I read about Tactical Nuclear Penguin, the 32% ABV "beer" from these guys I have been intrigued by Brew Dog. I liked their packaging, I liked their website, and since penguins are my favorite animal, near and dear to my heart(tear, sniff) they had me at penguin. The first beer from Brew Dog I actually tried happened to be a collaboration with Stone out of Escondido, CA "Bashah" which I wasn't really impressed with. I sure am glad my parents taught me not to quit on anything because "Punk IPA" is really good. It may even have taken over my #1 IPA slot currently held by Dogfish Head's "90 Minute IPA."

The best part of this beer last night was that I got to share it with my brother who I don't get to see very often since he moved out to the BFE cowtown. How, in Southern California, can a town feel like it is in the middle of nowhere? I mean, the main road his complex is near actually has NOTHING on it at one point. Weird, wish he was closer though, not because I like the guy or anything, but he brought good beer to the party. Coincidentally also an IPA. But on to the Beer!

Pour: Haystack yellow and a little hazy at first it clears up after a bit. Not a huge head and it doesn't stick around for real long. Decent lacing on the side

Aroma: Pine, Pine, and Pine, with some Sweet Pine thrown in. Methinks this is an IPA.

Taste: Obviously this beer has some bitter, it's an IPA but I definitely got grapefruit right off the bat. That tart sweetness in this beer brings it all together really nicely. What was strange was as it sat the grapefruit taste was less distinct but that malty sweetness was still there. There wasn't a whole lot of bubbles like I have come to expect from many of the IPA's I have tasted. It made for a nice mouthfeel as it had some body to it that wasn't washed out by the carbonation. I could drink a few of these and they aren't real expensive at 3$ for a 22 oz.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Rhone...Better than Bordeaux, and Cheaper Too

The Rhone, that wonderful place in France that produces all of the wines D and I love. Syrah, Mourvedre, Viognier, Roussanne, some Grenache, and blends of all.

When D and I travel into Europe the first place we want to go to is the Rhone.

Of course, we will be timing our trip with the Tour de France. What could be better than eating and drinking world class food and wine and then working it all off on a bike ride through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world? Best thing is that D suggested the Tour de France. One more of the bajillion reasons I love her.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Old Vine Cafe+New Waiter= VDay Grudge Match

If you read the post on Old Vine Cafe you know that D and I had an amazing time there. Great food, great service, and HUGE pours of all of the paired wines. I think Mario poured me 4 oz of port for my dessert and Danielle was given an entire bottle of prosecco.

Oh but how the mighty have fallen. D and I were really excited to take our friends the Rhino and W there to enjoy a Valentine's Day dinner. I even called the day before to request that we be seated in Mario's section. It's a small place but I wasn't taking any chances with "the most romantic night of the year" -wink-

When we got there we were immediately seated and I said hi to Mario. He assured me that he would be taking care of us. Come to find out Mario lied. Oh how he lied.

I knew from past experience as well as from working at my wine bar that I HATE the 2006 Frogmore Creek Chardonnay from Tasmania that was paired with my first course of scallops. It tastes like roasted pineapple, stewed fruit, and jam. Mmmmmm...tasty. I thought, no big deal, I'll just ask to be poured the wine from the other tasting menu in place of this one. I didn't ask for an off menu wine, I didn't ask for a more expensive wine, I just asked to be poured the OTHER wine that they were pouring with the first course. Reasonable right? I thought so. WRONG!

Have you ever been reamed by your Denny's waiter for ordering the All-American Slam with a coke instead of a traditional breakfast beverage? How about your Mcdonald's drive-thru attendant for choosing milk with your egg McMuffin? No? Ok ok maybe you deserve to be yelled at by the sushi chef because you ordered the wrong sake with your omikase?

Apparently I was not informed of the fact that sauvignon blanc is a poor pairing with scallops. I tend to disagree and told him so.

 Me: I think it will be fine
Him: (indignantly) Would you drink milk and orange juice together? No, I don't think so.
Me: I think it will be fine
Him: Do you know about wine? Do you have any training?
Me: Yes I studied with Master Sommelier Peter Neptune
Him: Really? I think Peter would agree that this is a horrible idea.
Me:(Thinking Peter would like the idea because shellfish and SB go great together) I think it will be fine
Him: Against my better judgement since you studied with Peter I will let you ruin your food.
Me: Thank you

He then proceeded to be an ass for the remainder of the meal. Pouring acrobatically over D's head, sloshing wine, plating food with no explanation, etc. I felt terrible for our friends because we had raved about Old Vine to them. The food was wonderful as usual, although plating was not as good as the first time. D's polenta was not creamy it was slices, but overall the food was enjoyable. Now if we could just get rid of our waiter.

So if you intend to go to Old Vine Cafe make sure that you request Mario as your server.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Köstritzer Schwarzbier, Dark and Mysterious

This beer, like the Bashah was also consumed under the guise of a pseudo-funeral for a now, not so dear, acquaintance. I chose this beer because Michael Jackson of "Beer Hunter" fame classified it as the classic example of the German Schwarz, or black, beer style. I had no idea what to expect from it but I was really happy that it only cost me 1.99$ for a pint at BevMo and if Mr. Jackson said it's good then I'm more than willing to shell out a couple bucks.

The beer poured an inky black, though not as opaque as I thought a "black" beer would be. There was a good sized off white head on it that dissipated pretty quickly and left a bit of lacing on the glass. The first whiff smelled of lightly roasted coffee, some charcoal maybe. There wasn't a whole lot of distinct aromas to pick out. It basically smelled like a thin porter. The taste followed smell as this beer tasted like a relatively thin porter. Not having tasted the Bashah yet I was unable to compare the two but in hindsight/sip I am now very impressed with my two dollar brew. I would pick this one up long before I would pay an exorbitant price for an over-hyped beer. Far from outstanding because it lacked layers, and complexity, Köstritzer, however, is enjoyable to drink and really has grown on me as I think more about it. At 4.8% ABV, and not so thick like a porter, it is an easy session brew. I will be having more of this.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Stone+Brew Dog=Bashah!!! His Head In

We had a pretty big tragedy this weekend that definitely deserved to be mourned a little. Nobody died, well, yet anyway. That still remains to be seen. Lets just say, figuratively speaking, I'd hate to have this come back at me in court, so, everyone reading this, he's dead to us, figuratively. Tiny Tiny Man.

Instead of "mourning" however, we chose to celebrate the passing of someone who, though he professed to possess an inordinate amount of intellect, committed such a stupid, childish,  act of well, stupidity. You lost buddy, you lost.

This celebration of sorts is how I came to come into the posession of a beer I have been drooling to try. It was being sold for an unseemly amount of money by the pint at the neighborhood gastropub and I couldn't in good conscience pony up the cash. This is why, when the man at BevMo asked me like the neighborhood crack dealer if I wanted his last bottle of Bashah I jumped at him, err, it.

Bashah is a collaborative effort between the crazy Scottish brewers Brew Dog and our own American Stone Brewing in Oceanside California. When I say, "crazy" I mean crazy. Brew Dog makes a "beer" called Tactical Nuclear Penguin that is pushing 32% ABV. They've since then pushed that limit as well. Needless to say these guys are creative.

Bashah is a Black Belgian Double IPA but tastes more like a porter. Lots of roasted coffee, some carbony toasty flavors, a little bit of licorice. It was a little thin and there was not very much bitterness for being a DOUBLE IPA. There wasn't even really that bready taste that comes from Belgian yeast. All in all it tasted good but I was not blown away. Maybe a case of high expectations? I would drink it if it was cheap, which it's not. I payed 5$ for a 12 oz bottle. And at 8.6% ABV I was buzzing after already having a schwarzbier that, at 2$ for a pint was every bit as good.