Beer, Wine and Spirits. Tastings and Travel. News and Events. Classic Flavors from Breweries, Wineries and Distilleries Across the Drinks World.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Around the World in 80 Drinks

I don't drink to get drunk. I'm not saying it has never happened. None of you would believe me if I made that claim. But the fact is I don't drink to get drunk.

I drink for many reasons. To have a conversation with friends. To wash down a meal. To celebrate. To kill time waiting for for a flight. To quench a thirst. To research a story. But mostly, I drink to go places.

For me, beer, wine and spirits are more about the culture, the people, the environment and the attitude of a place than they are about alcohol content. Travel is all about new experiences and getting a taste of what the locals enjoy. You can do that through food, music, art, architecture, sports, fashion, literature and history. But to me, drink is an essential part of that experience. It can help you connect with the people, with the land and the place in ways that nothing else can really accomplish. It is a link to the past. It is a source of pride. And it opens doors that welcome a traveler.

During the last few years, Lyke2Drink has provided an outlet to share some of my experiences. There have been vineyard tastings, beer festivals and distillery tours. In each case, being there has helped me communicate about the beverage. My travels for both pleasure and business have been enriched by finding the local drink. Drinks tourism is something that can take you to a new place and let you bring the experience back home.

Don't get me wrong. Cologne is still a great city without Kolsch, just not quite as lively. A drive through the Finger Lakes in Upstate New York is still beautiful without Riesling, just not quite as romantic. A trip to Kentucky is still fun without Bourbon, just not as spirited. Cities like Prague, Florence, Dublin, Edinburgh and Munich would still be tourist meccas without drink, but I submit they are much better with drink. And how many of us would have really heard of places like Islay, Reims, Bardstown, Bamberg and Napa if it were not for the local contribution to the world of drink?

Around the World in 80 Drinks is a new direction for Lyke2Drink that is directly connected back to the roots of this blog. It will provide a focus that I hope you will enjoy. The blog will offer tips on drinks travel destinations and chronicle some of my experiences. In some cases, it will be armchair travel. Hopefully, many of the adventures will be from the road as we discover the world's great drinks. Eighty drinks that define who we are and the places we come from in a way that nothing else really can. I'm getting thirsty just thinking about it.

Pack your bag. We are on our way.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

A Year of Drinks

During 2010, the Lyke2Drink blog committed to chronicle a year's worth of adult beverage enjoyment.

Some drinks were consumed with friends, others were tasted solo while researching articles. Some were purchased while on the road, others were shipped to me by brewers, vintners and distillers looking for coverage. Whether they were sipped at a festival or enjoyed during a dinner with my family, the task of making sure I had a new drink to review for each and every of the 365 days of the year was both challenging and rewarding.

Looking back over the 365 drinks, there were 228 different beers, 62 wines, 63 spirits, 6 cocktails, 4 ciders and 2 sakes. There were too many good drinks to try to name favorites. If you put me in a corner and said pick some of the best from each category, I would have to say that it really comes down to a few experiences along the way.

In the Beer category, it is nearly impossible to beat the September afternoon at the Denver Rare Beer Tasting. Jolly Pumpkin Biere de Goord was one highlight, the beer that was brewed to help raise awareness and funds for the Pints for Prostates campaign. Among the 26 beers poured that day were some truly rare brews, including three that are single day release big beers that could be sipped just feet from one another: Big Sky Barrel-Aged Ivan the TerribleThree Floyds Dark Lord  and Foothills Sexual Chocolate.

In Spirits, having the chance to taste two new Bourbon releases at the distilleries was pretty special, particularly when Bill Samuels Jr. was the host for Maker’s Mark 46  and Brown-Forman Master Distiller Chris Morris conducted the tasting of the Woodford Reserve Master's Collection.

In Wine, some bottles enjoyed with my wife that reminded us of earlier winery visits. These included Hermann Wiemer Semi-Dry Riesling, Dr. Konstantin Frank Fleur de Pinot Noir, Kathryn Hall 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon, Louis Martini 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon and  Raffaldini La Dolce Vita.

On the “unique” side of things, there was bacon used in vodka and beer; the Bolivian liqueur made from the same raw ingredients used to produce cocaine and the Ohio wine made from a nearly extinct grape variety. Memorable drinks came in the form of a four beer anniversary series from Sierra Nevada, some great cocktails and a number of good wines. But quality is a common thread that unites the drinks of 2010, like Anchor Christmas Ale, Olde Mecklenburg Bauern Bock, Firestone 14 Annivewrsary Ale, Ledson 2009 Carneros Chardonnay , Highland Park 25 Year Old, Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale and Germain-Robin Coast Road Reserve.

With Day 365 Drink, this feature of the blog is being retired. But Lyke2Drink will bring back the weekly “Tuesday Tastings” review segment during January. This blog has been around since 2006 (which is almost ancient when it comes to the drinks blog world) and we are approaching 1,500 total posts. Our plan during 2011 is to take a slightly new focus for Lyke2Drink. This approach will encompass a part of the drinks culture that the blog has touched upon from time to time in the past -- a vibrant and fertile topic that few other outlets really thoroughly cover. In this way we hope to remain relevant to readers and enhance the usefulness of this blog in helping you enjoy the best beer, wines and spirits.

Visit Lyke2Drink in the coming weeks and see where this new direction takes us on our drinks journey.