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

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Bristol & Beer

I spent last weekend attending races at the Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tenn., with my wife and 160,000 NASCAR fanatics.

The Sharpie 500 night race for Sprint Cup cars is one of the toughest tickets in sports. It looked to me like most of the fans came ready for a good time. Even with the population of a good sized city crammed into a stadium wrapped around a half mile race track, I still believe I was the only one enjoying Alexander Keith's India Pale Ale from Nova Scotia.

So what does racing have to a blog about beverages? Check out all of the beverage marketing taking place at Bristol and NASCAR tracks each weekend. This is just a small sample.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Erath County, Texas, to Vote on Alcohol Sales

A petition with approximately 5,000 signatures has been certified, placing a proposal on the November ballot in Erath County, Texas, that would allow the sale of beer and wine in the county for off-premise consumption.

Texas law required 2,746 valid signatures from registered voters in Erath County in order for the measure to be on the ballot. Opponents against allowing local citizens to have a vote on the matter had challenged signatures from under 21 year old voters on the petition saying they could not legally drink, but County Judge Tab Thompson ruled that since 18 is the legal voting age that County Commissioners had to accept the valid signatures from legal voters.

The Erath Repeal Action Committee is working to generate support for the measure. The last attempt to repeal Prohibition in the county was 26 years ago.

Virginia Set to Launch Beer Trail

The area around Charlottesville, Va., is pristine and beautiful. The Blue Ridge Mountains are a great vacation spot and the region has a number of fine wineries that attract savvy consumers. Now beer makers want in on the action.

The Devil’s Backbone Brewery, not far from the Wintergreen resort, will open in November. When it does, area breweries want to start a brewery trail to help draw tourists to the region.

Nearby breweries include South Street Brewery in Charlottesville, Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton and Starr Hill Brewery in Crozet. Several other breweries in the Shenandoah Valley could also join the trail. Working with Nelson County economic development agencies, the brewers hope to tap into tourists who come to the region.

Virginia Tourism Corporation estimates are that nearly 2 percent of all visitors to the state came to taste wine at least one of the 134 wineries in Virginia.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tuesday Tasting: Harviestoun Ola Dubh

Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we sample some "black oil" from Clackmannshire, Scotland.

Readers of this blog know I love dark beer and that I've been known to enjoy a wee dram of Scotch from time to time. Enter Harviestoun Ola Dubh. What can be said about a brew that combines the richness of a stout with aging in barrels from the Highland Park Distillery -- one of the worlds best? How about, "Can I have another?"

Ola Dubh means "black oil" and the color of these brews pays off the name. Each is aged in casks from the classic range of Highland Park: 12-, 16- and 30-year-old whisky. Highland Park is located on Orkney and is the northern most Scottish distillery. Each sample was bottled in September of 2007 and they all weigh in at 8 percent alcohol by volume.

Harviestoun Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12: Slight smoke and alcohol tinge to the overall brew. This beer has some maple syrup notes and good overall balance.

Harviestoun Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16: Smooth and mellow. Slightly more smoke than the others. The tan foam head on this beer also stood up a bit longer. I detected a bit more of the Scotch character in this version.

Harviestoun Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30: Nice smoke, balanced by wood and sweet vanilla notes. A warming beer for a cold evening.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Flying Dog Brewery Wants Naming Rights for Dog Park

Flying Dog Brewery has proposed making a $5,000 donation in return for the naming rights of a new dog park in Frederick, Md.

The City of Frederick Parks and Recreation Commission is in the process of converting a park in the city into a dog park. The brewery wants to buy the naming rights and call the location "Flying Dog Park." The funds would be used to help build and maintain the park, where dogs can be unleashed and exercised.

Flying Dog moved its brewing operations to Maryland after purchasing the Federick Brewing Co. in 2006.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Amethyst Initiative: More Than 100 College Presidents Call for End to 21 Year Old Drinking Age

The 21 year old minimum drinking age is not working. It's had a 24 year run and has proven to be a failure. It is widely ignored and creates a sub-culture of hidden drinking. It's time for a change.

That's the essence of a call to action signed by more than 100 college chancellors and presidents. These are the folks that parents all over America are right at this moment trusting with their 17 and 18 year old freshmen students. They have seen the issues created by sudden freedom, the lack of parental guidance and accessibility to alcohol. These educators are suggesting it is time to try another approach.

Under the banner of the Amethyst Initiative the college presidents are taking the brave step of stating the facts. The 21 year old drinking age has created a culture of clandestine binge-drinking. They are backed by the Choose Responsibility a Vermont-based group that we have talked about before on this issue.

Amethyst Initiative signatories are taking the risky step of asking politicians to stop and think. In a world where 18 year olds can vote, march off to war and sign credit card contracts that put them in financial peril, they cannot legally drink. The result is that we are teaching millions of young adults that not all laws are really valid or worth following. Basically, any 20 year old who wants a beer knows several places where they can get a beer. And they break the law in doing so.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving has reacted by calling on its members to contact the schools that have joined the effort to protest the move. They are ignoring the facts and a study by the University of North Carolina in 2004 that found when young people had the chance to drink with their parents that they learned from the example and were less likely to abuse alcohol.

Making beer, wine and spirits the forbidden fruit did not work during Prohibition and it is not working now.

Here's a list of the college administrators that have come out in favor of reconsidering the 21 year old drinking age:

President Vincent Maniaci, American International College
President Jerry M. Greiner, Arcadia University
President Ronald Slepitza, Avila University
President Elizabeth Coleman, Bennington College
President Scott D. Miller, Bethany College
President Bobby Fong, Butler University
President David Wolk, Castleton State College
President Mark J. Tierno, Cazenovia College
President Carmen Twillie Ambar, Cedar Crest College
President Esther L. Barazzone, Chatham University
President John Bassett, Clark University
President Anthony G. Collins, Clarkson University
President James R. Phifer, Coe College
President Rebecca S. Chopp, Colgate University
President Robert Hoover, College of Idaho
President Mary Pat Seurkamp, College of Notre Dame of Maryland
President Frank Miglorie, College of St. Joseph
President Richard Celeste, Colorado College
President Dennison W. Griffith, Columbus College of Art & Design
President James E. Wright, Dartmouth College
President G. T. Smith, Davis & Elkins College
President William G. Durden, Dickinson College
President Robert Weisbuch, Drew University
President Richard Brodhead, Duke University
President Joseph R. Fink, Dominican University of California
President Donald R. Eastman III, Eckerd College
President Theodore Long, Elizabethtown College
President Thomas Meier, Elmira College
President Richard E. Wylie, Endicott College
President Jeffrey von Arx, Fairfield University
President Janet Morgan Riggs, Gettysburg College
President Sanford J. Ungar, Goucher College
President Jack Ohle, Gustavus Adolphus College
President Joan Hinde Stewart, Hamilton College
President Walter M. Bortz, Hampden-Sydney College
President Ralph J. Hexter, Hampshire College
President Susan DeWine, Hanover College
President Nancy O. Gray, Hollins University
President Richard B. Gilman, CSC, Holy Cross College (IN)
President Barbara Murphy, Johnson State College
President John J. Bowen, Johnson & Wales University
President William Brody, Johns Hopkins University
President Leon Richards, Kapiolani Community College
President S. Georgia Nugent, Kenyon College
President Daniel H. Weiss, Lafayette College
President Stephen D. Schutt, Lake Forest College
President Thomas J. Hochstettler, Lewis & Clark College
Carol A. Moore, Lyndon State College
President Leonard Tyler, Maine Maritime Academy
President Thomas J. Scanlan, F.S.C., Manhattan College
President Richard Berman, Manhattanville College
President Tim Foster, Mesa State College
President Ronald Liebowitz, Middlebury College
President Frances Lucas, Millsaps College
President Mary Ellen Jukoski, Mitchell College
President Christopher Thomforde, Moravian College
President Robert Michael Franklin Jr., Morehouse College
President Joanne V. Creighton, Mount Holyoke College
President Peyton R. Helm, Muhlenberg College
President Randy Dunn, Murray State University
President Thomas B. Coburn, Naropa University
President Fran Voigt, New England Culinary Institute
President Debra Townsley, Nichols College
President Robert A. Skotheim, Occidental College
President Lawrence Schall, Oglethorpe University
President E. Gordon Gee, Ohio State University
President Phil Creighton, Pacific University
President Loren J. Anderson, Pacific Lutheran University
President John Mills, Paul Smith’s College
President David W. Oxtoby, Pomona College
President Robert A. Gervasi, Quincy University
President Robert R. Lindgren, Randolph-Macon College
President William E. Troutt, Rhodes College
President David C. Joyce, Ripon College
President Gregory G. Dell'Omo, Robert Morris University
President Charles R. Middleton, Roosevelt University
President Pamela Trotman Reid, Saint Joseph College (CT)
President Timothy R. Lannon, Saint Joseph’s University (PA)
President Arthur F. Kirk, Saint Leo University
President Patricia Maguire Meservey, Salem State College
President JoAnne Boyle, Seton Hill University
Vice Chancellor Joel L. Cunningham, Sewanee: University of the South
President Carol T. Christ, Smith College
President Paul LeBlanc, Southern New Hampshire University
President Beverly Daniel Tatum, Spelman College
President Robert E. Ritschel, Spoon River College
President Daniel F. Sullivan, St. Lawrence University
President Harold J. Raveche, Stevens Institute of Technology
President Elisabeth S. Muhlenfeld, Sweet Briar College
Chancellor Nancy Cantor, Syracuse University
President J. Patrick O’Brien, Texas A & M University-West Texas
President Robert Caret, Towson University
President James F. Jones, Jr., Trinity College
President John M. Stamm, Trinity Lutheran College
President Lawrence S. Bacow, Tufts University
President Walter Harrison, University of Hartford
President Louis Agnese Jr., University of the Incarnate Word
President Jennifer Hunter-Cevera, University of Maryland--Biotechnology Institute
President C.D. Mote Jr., University of Maryland--College Park
President Jack M. Wilson, University of Massachusetts System
Chancellor William E. Kirwan, University System of Maryland
President Steven H. Kaplan, University of New Haven
President Geoffrey Shields, Vermont Law School
Chancellor Robert Clarke, Vermont State Colleges
President Ty Handy, Vermont Technical College
President Tori Haring-Smith, Washington and Jefferson College
President Kenneth P. Ruscio, Washington and Lee University
President L. Baird Tipson, Washington College
President Michael Bassis, Westminster College (UT)
President Sharon D. Herzberger, Whittier College
President James T. Harris, Widener University
President M. Lee Pelton, Willamette University
President Lorna Duphiney Edmundson, Wilson College

Tuesday Tasting: A Tale of Two Ales

Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we sample two ales launched by Anheuser-Busch.

They will soon formally be part of the mammoth (we used to call them "giant," but after this acquisition we needed to find another adjective) Belgian beer company InBev, but the folks at Anheuser-Busch continue to extend the Budweiser and Michelob brand families.

Two packages arrived at Lyke2Drink recently that contained ales under both labels. In a departure from other recent intros by these brands, such as Bud Light Lime and Michelob Ultra Fruit, these brews were dark and offered a more traditional beer direction. I found one to be impressive and the other leaving me wanting something more.

Michelob Dunkel Weisse: This unfiltered dark ale is new to the Michelob line up, but if you have been to Colorado over the last year or so you might have had it under the Ascent 54 name. It was brewed in Fort Collins and was part of A-B's regional specialties push. This beer is a cloudy reddish brown color with very nice flavor elements. Inviting chocolate malt, a touch of banana and hints of dates and citrus. This just might be the best beer I've ever tasted from A-B. It is worth seeking out.

Budweiser American Ale: This brew started to impress me when I poured it. The color was a nice tarnished copper and the head was rocky and firm. Perhaps it was this promise that left me a little disappointed. The brewmasters at A-B have built a drinkable ale -- perhaps a little too drinkable. I was looking for hops and I did not find that many. The malt really is the story here. It could be a bridge beer for some Bud drinkers to move towards brews with more color and flavor. It's too bad this is not the standard Budweiser. It would be a good jumping off point and likely change the perceptions most beer enthusiasts have towards the brand. There is nothing "wrong" with this beer, but if your first thought about a great domestic ale is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale you will likely be left wanting.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Truckload of 3,000 Cases of Scotch Goes Missing

There a few people in Scotland with hangovers tonight who did not pay for the privilege.

A truck loaded down with 3,000 cases of Scotch was stolen Friday night near Coatbridge. Police found the Boyle Transport truck near Port Glasgow over the weekend. The truck was empty.

The cargo, estimated to be worth around $465,000, included cases of William Lawson's Blended, Aberfeldy Malt, Dewers Special Reserve and Glenlivet Malt.

Police have asked the public to report anyone attempting to sell them discounted bottles of whisky.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Olympic Cellars Cannot Go for the Gold

There is still a week remaining in the Beijing Olympic games for athletes to capture medals, but for Washington's Olympic Cellars the hopes of gold have been cut down in size.

The U.S. Olympic Committee went after the small winery, which is named for the peninsula where it is located and the nearby Olympic Mountains. The Olympic Committee has federal law on its side and can take any business to court that uses the Olympic name. It sounds logical if someone decided to open a chain named "Olympic Training Gym" or if a business such as "Olympic Pest Control" opened in Lake Placid, N.Y. They would clearly be trading off the Olympic trademark.

To go after a business that is named for the region where it is located is a bit of a strong armed approach to trademark protection. Olympic Cellars has been around since 1992 and actually had gained approval from the Olympic Committee in 1999 to use the name for its website address. The Olympic Committee and the winery have reached a compromise that lets the company keep its name and website as long as sales are not "substantial."

Operators of Olympic Cellars cannot disclose the exact terms of the agreement. It appears that as long as the winery sales are primarily local, the Olympic Committee will not complain. It will leave the field open for the committee to find a wine or other beverage sponsor for U.S. teams.

Olympic Cellars owner Kathy Charlton plans to use the "Working Girl Wine" brand more extensively in the future.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Weekend Watering Hole: Water Street Brewery, Milwaukee, Wisc.

As a regular weekend feature, Lyke2Drink will visit some of the world's great watering holes. This week we find ourselves in Milwaukee and making a stop at a brewpub founded in 1987.

Water Street Brewery

1101 N. Water Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202
(414) 272-1195

Milwaukee is the most famous brewing city in America. Most of the breweries are gone now, but Water Street Brewery has been turning out great tasting beers for 21 years. The brewpub sits across the Milwaukee River from the core of downtown Milwaukee. Over the years, the brewery's two locations have made more than 50 styles of beer, many of them winning awards.

We tried two beers with our lunch: a Raspberry Weiss that brewmaster George Bluvas III made by adding 200 pounds of fresh raspberries to a traditional weiss beer recipe; and a German-style Black Lager that had a nice roasted malt flavor. Both were served up in ample half liter mugs. You won't leave thirsty at this place.

The menu at Water Street has a nice mix of salads, typical brewpub sandwiches and items such as grilled rosemary chicken and grilled flat iron steak.

Water Street Brewery has an impressive collection of brewerania, including hundreds of antique cans, tab handles, openers and neons signs. The cans behind plexi-glass are a tour of 1970s and 1980s beer in America. The neons will make many Midwesterners long for one more taste of a defunct brew.

Water Street has a second location in Delafield if you don't want to travel into the center of Milwaukee.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Baptists vs. Beer: Virginia Microbrewery Hangs in the Balance

The Shooting Creek Farm Brewery in Virginia might never open if a group of Baptist ministers and some neighbors get their way.

The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control held a hearing this week to listen to complaints about granting a license for the Floyd County brewery to start production. The brewery is located in a rural area, not far from the Blue Ridge Parkway in southwestern Virginia.

Brett Nichols and Ray Jones own Shooting Creek Farm Brewery. They plan to make beer in a 1,000 square foot facility located on an organic vegetable farm. There would be a tasting room at the site and the company would sell bottled beer in the area. The opening of the facility is now delayed while the ABC considers the objections to brewing beer in the area. Four area residents and a Baptist pastor filed official objections. The people against the brewery say it will increase traffic in the area and hurt property values.

A group of Baptist ministers have gone door-to-door in the area to talk to neighbors to try to grow the opposition. It will likely be September before the ABC issues a ruling on the matter.

Elsewhere in Virginia, small wineries, breweries and distilleries have proven to be extremely popular with local residents and tourists. It will be interesting to see if the ABC decides against Shooting Creek Farm Brewery, because that could put other planned operations at risk.

The Age of the Electronic Tongue

It knows wine, but does it enjoy wine?

The smart folks at the Barcelona Institute of Microelectronics in Spain say they have perfected a device that can detect a wine's grape variety and vintage nearly instantly. The "electronic tongue," as it is being called, is said to have six different senors that measure acidity, sugar content and other elements that make up a wine's characteristics.

The device is the latest tool for detecting fraud. As prices for top vintages have skyrocketed, so has the allure for con artists who try to pass off cheap juice as world class wine.

The electronic tongue so far is able to identify the differences between a chardonnay, Aisén, malvasia and macabeu, as well as track vintage characteristics. With huge price differences between "great" years and lesser vintages, this will enable wine merchants to certify to the public that what they are buying is legitimate.

While the electronic tongue is technology that will likely be first deployed to protect buyers who plunk down hundreds and even thousands for a bottle, it will enable regulators and importers to check to be sure that even moderately priced wines are what they say they are on the label. It is a few years away, but the hand held devices may just change the way some companies do business.

Wine critics and sommeliers do not need to fear the electronic tongue. While it will be able to tell you what is in the bottle, there will still be room for the experts to tell you if what is in the bottle is any good. The 100 point scale is still a human measurement when it comes to wine, at least for now.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Flying Saucer Ring of Honor

The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium has a neat customer loyalty program. Show up enough times and drink enough different brews and your name goes on the wall.

Tonight was my night at the Charlotte location. With a good number of family members along for the ride and the Charlotte Beer Club added in for good measure, my plate was unveiled. I started the journey back in December of 2003, long before moving to Charlotte. It required about 70 trips (they have a three beer per visit limit), mostly during the last three years since I moved to the area. I pulled the list of beers and was amazed by the range and the story it told about some of my favorite breweries. You can check them out below.

If you have a chance to stop at one of the 13 Flying Saucer locations, take a look at some of the sayings on the plates. You'll get a laugh or two. I also think you will find the staff at each location knows its beer. That's something we should expect more often, but sadly often don't find when we visit a local tavern. The Flying Saucer sets the standard in this key category.

Abita Purple Haze (draught)
Allagash White (draught)
Anchor Christmas 2005 (draught)
Anchor Christmas 2006 (draught)
Anchor Christmas 2007 (draught)
Anchor Porter (draught)
Anchor Steam (draught)
Arcobrau Dark Lager (BTL) (bottled)
Avery 13 (BTL) (bottled)
Avery 15 (BTL) (bottled)
Avery Czar (BTL) (bottled)
Avery Ellie's Brown Ale (BTL) (bottled)
Avery Hog Heaven (draught)
Avery IPA (draught)
Avery Kaiser (draught)
Avery Maharaja (draught)
Avery New World Porter (draught)
Avery Old Jubilation (draught)
Battlefield Bock (draught)
Beamish Stout (draught)
Becks Dark (BTL) (bottled)
Belhaven Scottish Ale (draught)
Bells 8000 (draught)
Bells Double Cream Stout (BTL) (bottled)
Bells Expedition Stout (draught)
Bells Hop Slam (draught)
Bells Java Stout (draught)
Bells Oberon (draught)
Bells Porter (draught)
Bells Two Hearted Ale (draught)
Blanche De Bruxelles (draught)
Bosteels Pauwel Kwak (BTL) (bottled)
Breckenridge 471 Imperial IPA (draught)
Bridgeport IPA (draught)
Brooklyn Abbey Single (draught)
Brooklyn Antwerpen Ale (draught)
Brooklyn Blanche de Brooklyn (draught)
Brooklyn Brooklynator (draught)
Brooklyn Oktoberfest (draught)
Brooklyn Smoked Weissbock (draught)
Brugse Zot (draught)
Carlsberg (draught)
Carolina Flight (draught)
Catawba Valley Brown Bear (draught)
Charleston East Bay IPA (draught)
Chimay Cinq Cents (draught)
Chimay Grand Reserve (BTL) (bottled)
Chimay Premiere (BTL) (bottled)
Corsendonk Christmas (draught)
Cottonwood Almond Stout (draught)
Cottonwood American Wheat (draught)
Cottonwood Endo IPA (draught)
Cottonwood Frostbite (draught)
Cottonwood Irish Red (draught)
Cottonwood Pumpkin Ale (draught)
Cottonwood Scottish Ale (draught)
DeKoninck Ale (BTL) (bottled)
Delirium Nocturnum (BTL) (bottled)
Delirium Noel (BTL) (bottled)
Delirium Tremens (draught)
Dinkel-Acker Dark (draught)
Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA (BTL) (bottled)
Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA (BTL) (bottled)
Dogfish Head Chateau Jiahu (BTL) (bottled)
Dogfish Head Chicory Stout (draught)
Dogfish Head Festina Peche (draught)
Dogfish Head Immort Ale (draught)
Dogfish Head Indian Brown (BTL) (bottled)
Dogfish Head Palo Santo (draught)
Dos Equis Amber (draught)
Duck Rabbit Baltic Porter (draught)
Duck Rabbit Milk Stout (draught)
Duck Rabbit Porter (BTL) (bottled)
Duck Rabbit Rabid Duck (draught)
Edenton Winter Cheer Royal Stout (draught)
Export 33 (BTL) (bottled)
Flying Dog Tire Bite (draught)
Flying Dog Wild Dog Barrel-Aged Gonzo (draught)
Foothills Festive Ale (draught)
Foothills Gruffmeister 8 (draught)
Foothills Oktoberfest (draught)
Foothills Rainbow Trout ESB (draught)
Foothills Salem Gold (draught)
Foothills Seeing Double IPA (draught)
Foothills Sexual Chocolate (draught)
Foothills Torch Pilsner (draught)
Fullers London Porter (BTL) (bottled)
Fullers Vintage 2001 (BTL) (bottled)
Fullers Vintage 2007 (BTL) (bottled)
Gaffel Kolsch (draught)
Great Divide Fresh Hop (BTL) (bottled)
Great Divide Hades (BTL) (bottled)
Great Divide Hercules IPA (BTL) (bottled)
Great Divide Hibernation (BTL) (bottled)
Great Divide St Bridget's Porter (BTL) (bottled)
Great Divide Titan IPA (BTL) (bottled)
Great Divide Yeti (draught)
Green Flash Hop Head Red (draught)
Grolsch Amber (BTL) (bottled)
Guinness (draught)
Harp Lager (draught)
Harpoon Oktoberfest (draught)
Harpoon Weizenbock (draught)
HeBrew Monumental Jewbelation (BTL) (bottled)
Helles Angel (draught)
Highland Cold Mountain (draught)
Highland Gaelic (draught)
Highland Oatmeal Porter (draught)
Highland Shining Rock Lager (draught)
Highland Tasgall Scotch Ale (draught)
J.W. Lees Manchester Star (BTL) (bottled)
Jever Pilsner (BTL) (draught)
Kasteel Rouge (draught)
Kind Pale Ale (BTL) (bottled)
Koningshoeven Dubbel (BTL) (bottled)
Labatt Blue (draught)
Left Hand Black Jack Porter (draught)
Left Hand Milk Stout (draught)
Left Hand Sawtooth Amber (draught)
Leinenkugels Sunset Wheat (draught)
Leute Bok (draught)
Lindemans Cassis (draught)
Lindemans Framboise (draught)
Lost Coast 8-Ball (BTL) (bottled)
Lost Coast Indica IPA (draught)
Mackeson XXX Stout (BTL) (bottled)
Maredsous 10 (BTL) (bottled)
Maredsous 8 (draught)
Maredsous 6 (draught)
Murphys Irish Stout (draught)
New Holland Mad Hatter IPA (draught)
New South Dark Star (draught)
New South Oktoberfest (draught)
North Coast Old Rasputin (draught)
North Coast Scrimshaw Pilsner (draught)
Orval Trappist (BTL) (bottled)
Oskar Blues Dales Pale Ale (CAN) (bottled)
Otter Creek Mud Bock (draught)
Paulaner Hefe-Weizen (draught)
Piraat Triple (draught)
Pyramid Hefeweizen (draught)
RJ Rockers Fish Paralyzer (draught)
Red Oak (draught)
Rogue 10,000 (BTL) (bottled)
Rogue Altbier (draught)
Rogue Charlie 1981 (draught)
Rogue Glen Ale (draught)
Rogue Hop Heaven (draught)
Rogue Imperial Red (draught)
Rogue Integrity IPA (draught)
Rogue Menage A Frog (draught)
Rogue Mogul (draught)
Rogue XS Old Crustacean (BTL) (bottled)
Rogue Yellow Snow (draught)
Sam Adams Boston Lager (draught)
Samuel Smith Winter Welcome 07 (BTL) (bottled)
Sapporo (BTL) (bottled)
Saranac Pomegranate Wheat (draught)
Scotch de Silly (draught)
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot (BTL) (bottled)
Sierra Nevada Celebration 2005 (draught)
Sierra Nevada Celebration 2006 (draught)
Sierra Nevada Celebration 2007 (draught)
Sierra Nevada ESB (draught)
Sierra Nevada Harvest (draught)
Sierra Nevada Porter (draught)
Sierra Nevada Summerfest (draught)
Smithwicks Ale (draught)
Southampton Double White (BTL) (bottled)
Spaten Bock (draught)
Spaten Franziskaner Dunkel Weisse (draught)
Spaten Franziskaner Hefe-Weiss (draught)
Spaten Lager (draught)
Spaten Oktoberfest (draught)
Spaten Optimator (draught)
St. Bernardus Abt 12 (BTL) (bottled)
St. Bernardus Wit (BTL) (bottled)
Terrapin Oak Aged Rye Squared (draught)
Terrapin Rye Pale Ale (draught)
Thomas Creek Jingle Bell Bock (draught)
Thomas Creek Vanilla Cream (draught)
Unibroue Don De Dieu (BTL) (bottled)
Unibroue Ephemere (draught)
Unibroue Maudite (BTL) (bottled)
Unibroue Trois Pistoles (draught)
Val Dieu Blond (draught)
Victory 10 Year Alt (draught)
Victory Abbey Six (draught)
Victory Golden Monkey (draught)
Victory Prima Pilsner (draught)
Warsteiner Dunkel (draught)
Weeping Radish Black Lager (BTL) (bottled)
Westmalle Dubbel (BTL) (bottled)
Westmalle Tripel (BTL) (bottled)
Weyerbacher Hops Infusion (BTL) (bottled)
Wolavers Brown (draught)
Wolavers Oatmeal Stout (draught)
Wolavers Pale (BTL) (bottled)
Youngs Double Chocolate Stout (draught)
Youngs Oatmeal Stout (draught)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Drinks Festivals Are in Season

Beer, wine and spirit festivals are great places to sample new products and learn about the range of great new brands on the market. The end of summer and start of fall features a glut of these events. I'm missing more than a few, but here are events from coast to coast that are perfect for the connoisseur and the new fan.

Buffalo Brewfest: The 7th annual Buffalo Brewfest takes over HSBC Arena in Buffalo, N.Y., on Aug. 23rd. Presale tickets are $20. You can get more details at www.buffalobrewfest.com.

Great American Distillers Festival: The fourth annual Great American Distillers Festival will be held Aug. 23-24 at the Gerding Theater in Portland, Ore. Four days of events lead up to the festival. A two day pass with three taster tickets is $16. Visit www.distillersfestival.com for information.

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend: From Aug. 29-31 you can take part in vineyard lunches, winemaker dinners, the 29th Annual Taste of Sonoma Showcase and the 16th Annual Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction. Tickets are required for individual events. Check out www.SonomaWineCountryWeekend.com for complete details.

Indy Craft Beer Festival: On Sept. 13th the Indy Craft Beer Festival will be held in Indianapolis. The event will include a homebrew competition judged by the public. Advanced sale tickets are $35. Check out www.indycraftbeerfest.com.

Belgian Beer Festival: This celebration of Belgian ale returns to Boston for its fourth installment on Sept. 26-27. Sponsored by Beer Advocate, tickets for the Friday "Night of Funk" are $50, with two Saturday sessions priced at $40 each. Get more information at beeradvocate.com/fests/bbf.

Virginia Wine Festival: The 33rd annual Virginia Wine Festival takes place Sept. 27-28 at the Prince William County Fairgrounds in Manassas, Va. Organizers expect 20,000 people to sample wine from 50 Virginia wineries, while enjoying food and music. Advance tickets are $20 per day. Visit www.virginiawinefestival.org.

Charlotte Oktoberfest Beer Festival: The 10th annual event will be held on Sept. 27th at Memorial Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. Standard tickets are $35, with premium one hour early entrance for $50. You can get more details at www.charlotteoktoberfest.com.

World Beer Festival: The 13th annual World Beer Festival in Durham, N.C., takes place during two sessions on Oct. 4th at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Developed by the good folks at All About Beer magazine, general admission tickets are $40, with special VIP tickets priced at $75 that include food and special beers not available at the main festival. Seminars are featured during both sessions, plus there is music and food. Get more information at www.allaboutbeer.com/wbf/.

Boulder County Brews Cruise: This annual pre-Great American Beer Festival event takes place on Oct. 8th. For $50 you get a bus ride from Denver to some of Boulder County Colorado's top breweries, a chance for stops at Redstone Meadery and Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey Distillery. Visit https://secure.lefthandbrewing.com/shop.aspx?category=2008%20Boulder%20County%20Brews%20Cruise%20(Each%20bus%20is%20different,%20please%20read%20the%20description%20of%20each%20bus%20carefully) to buy tickets.

Great American Beer Festival: The 27th annual Great American Beer Festival takes over the Colorado Convention Center in Denver from Oct. 9-11 for four sessions. You can expect 46,000 beer fans to sip more than 1,800 beers from hundreds of U.S. breweries. Visit www.beertown.org/events/gabf/index.htm to purchase tickets.

Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival: Held from Oct. 9-12 in New York, among the programs is a cocktail clinic and wine tastings. Tickets are sold for individual events. Check out www.nycwineandfoodfestival.com/2008/index1.php for more details.

WhiskyFest San Francisco: This Malt Advocate-sponsored event on Oct. 10th at the San Francisco Marriott features more than 200 of the world's finest whiskies, great food and the chance to attend a series of seminars. VIP early admittance tickets are $150, with general admission for $110. Visit www.maltadvocate.com/whiskeyfest-sf.asp for all the details.

Monterey Wine Festival: The 32nd annual Montery Wine Festival will be held on Oct. 16th at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and on Oct. 18th at the Monterey Fairgrounds in Monterey, Calif. Tickets are $99 for each session. Visit www.montereywine.com for information.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Montelle Winery 2007 Dry Vignoles Wins Missouri Governor's Cup

Montelle Winery 2007 Dry Vignoles was recently named the Missouri Governor's Cup recipient as the state's best wine.

More than 225 Missouri wines took part in the competition. Judges named 10 Best of Class and handed out 26 gold medals.

Best of Class awards went to:

Dry White - 2007 Dry Vignoles, Montelle Winery
Semi-dry White - Seyval Blanc, Augusta Winery
Dry Red - 206 Original Cynthiana, Blumenhof Vineyards
Semi-dry Red - River Country Red, Montelle Winery
Sweet White - 2007 Vignoles, Stone Hill Winery
Sweet Red - River Valley Red, Augusta Winery
Sparkling - Golden Spumante, Stone Hill Winery
Late Harvest/Ice - 2007 Icewine, Augusta Winery
Dessert/ Fortified - 2005 Port, Stone Hill Winery
Distilled - Peach Brandy, Montelle Winery

Organizers Push to Get Sunday Sales on Ottawa, Michigan, Ballot

Say Yes to Sunday organizers are trying to come up with more than 37,000 signatures on a petition to get sales of beer and wine on the ballot in Ottawa County, Mich.

Ottawa County, located on the west side of Michigan, is the only county in the state that bans Sunday sales of beer and wine. That law was put in place by a vote in 1976. You can purchase liquor by the glass as the result of a law passed in 1981.

The group faces on Aug. 12 deadline and have already gathered approximately 24,000 signature from local residents.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Jameson Sales Growth Fastest in a Decade

Irish whiskey brand Jameson sales are up 15 percent world wide during the last year, the fastest rate of growth for the brand in 10 years.

Jameson is distilled in Midleton, County Cork, by Irish Distillers, which is controlled by France's Pernod Ricard. The company sold 2.6 million cases of Jameson in the period ending June 30th.

In the United States sales of Jameson were up by 24 percent. Growth in Russia (36 percent) and eastern Europe (37 percent) was fueled by a major advertising campaign.

Friday, August 01, 2008

The Session #18: Happy Anniversary Beers

The Barley Blog is the host of this month's Beer Blogging Friday. The 18th edition of The Session is themed “Happy Anniversary."

As The Barley Blog put it when announcing the topic: "Use this as an excuse to celebrate. Open a limited release anniversary beer from your favorite brewer. Enjoy that special beer you normally only open on your wedding anniversary or birthday. Either way, tell us about it."

Brewers have issued limited release beers to mark the seasons, holidays and special events for centuries. Some brewers even brew vintage beers that often are designed to be laid down for future vertical tasting adventures. The anniversary beer has emerged recently as something that American craft brewers have adopted, often giving their brewmasters the chance to try something a little different. This is a time for brewers to be imaginative and stretch, making signature beers to mark the passing of another year.

These limited edition products can set off a feeding frenzy among the fans of a particular beer. The profiteers are not far behind and hefty premiums end up being charged for these beers. A good example is the annual release from Firestone Walker reviewed in a Tuesday Tasting last November.

Since the topic was announced, I've been on the look out for anniversary beers. Two actually arrived at my door as tasting samples. Another was found in a friend's refrigerator. One was being poured at a local Charlotte beer bar and another was located in a liquor store during a visit to Chicago last month.

The one clear picture that emerges is that an anniversary beer can be anything a brewer wants it to be. Don't expect a certain style, taste, color or aroma. Most often these are in larger format bottles -- at least 22 ounces or more. The one nearly universal commonality appears to be that these brews tend to fall well outside of the session beer category. You can expect the alcohol content to be dialed up a bit when it comes time for a brewery to celebrate a milestone.

Here are the five anniversary brews tracked down for this tasting:

Three Floyds Fantabulous Resplendence XI: This Indiana beer rolls out orange, grapefruit and jasmine flavor notes. Fantabulous is 7 percent alcohol by volume and has a nice hop floral nose. There is quite a bit going on in the glass flavor wise, but the beer is subtle and not overpowering.

Avery Anniversary Ale Fifteen: I'm a big fan of this Colorado brewery, so I was let down a little bit by this brew. It's not that Avery did not try to turn out something special. This farmhouse-style ale is brewed with black mission figs, hibiscus flowers and white pepper, using a 100 percent brettanomyces form of yeast. The beer comes in at 7.68 percent alcohol by volume. For some reason this ale just never came together for me. With a beer this distinctive, it comes down to personal taste. I'm sure someone else may have tried this beer for this edition of The Session and chances are they loved it.

Carolina Platinum Blonde 10th Anniversary: This North Carolina brew poured fairly flat, and gave off a slightly amber and tarnished brass color. At 8.5 percent alcohol by volume it actually tastes like it might pack more of a punch. There is a touch of a malt liquor-like tang going on with the beer. This beer has notes of sweet malt at the start and hop bitterness at the finish.

Deschutes 20 Anniversary Wit: At 5.5 percent alcohol by volume, this is a session beer in the anniversary category. It has plenty of nice Belgian-style wheat beer characteristics. The label says they use curacao, orange peel, coriander and grains of paradise in the brew. These combine to create a refreshing Oregon beer with a tart edge that is perfect for hot weather.

Black Butte XX: Deschutes Brewery decided that you need at least two beers to celebrate 20 years. Black Butte XX is an imperial porter brewed with cocoa nibs and coffee beans. The brewers age 20 percent of the beer in ex-Bourbon barrels. It comes at you with 11 percent alcohol by volume. My advice is to find a comfortable chair and settle in. Black Butte XX throws more flavor at you in a single glass than an entire six pack of most craft beers can hope to deliver. Rich, thick and satisfying. There is plenty to experience here. Deschutes got the right level of oak from the barrels, while the chocolate and coffee balance each other out. This achieves a level perfection in a dark brew worthy of a twentieth anniversary.