There is no doubt that California wines are lauded worldwide and has put US winemaking on the map, but who is responsible? There are two regions that have contributed immensely; Sonoma and Napa. The latter has received most of the recognition; however its westerly neighbor clearly produces extremely high-quality wine that rivals Napa. Sonoma has burst onto the fine wine scene within recent years and her wines are gaining their rightful recognition. Both regions produce spectacular products worthy of much praise from wine aficionados and critiques alike. Both boast producers and growing areas that are known worldwide, but will Sonoma ever surpass her neighbor? Could Napa ever become runner-up with Sonoma being crowned the monarch of California wines? Read More about Sonoma v. Napa Part 1
An increasing number of legitimate brews are becoming available in cans. The newest addition to Colonial Spirits is Brooklyn lager in a 16oz can (6-packs $11.69+dep). Also recently added is Butternuts with canned Hefe, Pale and IPA. Admittedly there isn’t a huge can selection but I commend the effort and love the thought of canned beer. That may sound a bit crazy to some but it really is an excellent vessel for beer. It may not be the best to drink from but that is why breweries make really cool glasses and give them out at tastings. I’ll guess that most of you would advocate for draught brew. A glass from a keg is the best right? I generally think so. Note that a keg is simply a giant can. Cans offer complete protection from light, ale and beer’s worst enemy, as well as convenience. Portability can be critical at times – I am thinking about hiking, the beach the movie theater. It mostly boils down to quality though. Cans travel well and store better. Cans are easy to keep cool and don’t shatter when the log you are splitting falls on them. The abovementioned Brooklyn cans are great for yard work as the extra 4oz yields valuable extra minutes before you have to go inside for another. Check out Oskar Blues as well. From this CO brewery you can get a nice pale ale, a strong scotch ale, a pilsner and even some pricey offerings that will surprise you (Imperial Stout and Imperial IPA). Hopefully we will see more on the shelves soon.
Ever since I was encouraged by a fellow beer enthusiast to hurry up and try Lagunitas Hop Stoopid this brewery has been on my mind (and in my fridge). I have always been a casual advocate of their brews, but now I feel compelled to turn as many people onto them as possible. That said, this is certainly a hop driven brewery so those less addicted than I may not be as into the selection. I’ll first mention the Czech Style Pils – perfect for the heat, crisp and very clean. The newest addition to their lineup is a Pale Ale. It is hoppy, but not over the top. There is more, much more, but rather than write about each brew I would rather say why it is that I am enthralled with the brewery as of late. Basically I think that Lagunitas is a fine representation of American Ale. Admittedly I can articulate it as such after reading the label on the 2009 Correction Ale. Consider where they excel, however; IPA, Pale and Stout brews, which are all quite American at this point. American brewing grew from the bastardization of traditional styles from England, Germany, Belgium and other places. Now American brewing is its own beast bringing intensity, creativity and quality to any and all styles. So, Lagunitas is a great American brewery focused on rich, hoppy brews that fill your glass with flavor and showcase some of what we do best in brewing. They also have an entire series dedicated to Frank Zappa, so they got that going for them… which is nice.
There is often something new from Lagunitas so you can stay entertained with this brewery for a while.
What makes a wine great? Is that the fact that Robert Parker gave it his stamp of approval with ratings of 95 points or above? Or maybe it depends on the score that Wine Spectator, Stephen Tanzer, or the Gambero Rosso gave it? Maybe it’s because a wine expert or wine trade person, like myself, recommended it to you. But what if you don’t like our recommendations? It could be that it has to cost over a certain amount of money or that it must be a Grand or Premier Cru wine from a well-respected producer. What if you just don’t like it?
The fact of the matter is that wine is highly personal. I am a firm believer in this. All tastes are different. There are some who like dairy, like myself, and some who can’t stand it, like my mom and brother (crazy family!), but they most certainly enjoy foods that I cannot stand to ingest. So stop & think for a moment…What are you looking for? What do YOU like?
I like barley based drinks. Ale and Beer are undoubtedly my favorite, but I do enjoy my whiskeys. So what’s up with beer? All kinds of things, really, but I am thinking about drinking it right now. The sun is high in the sky, it is past noon and I am thirsty. More so, it is the flavor that I seek. Hops are on my mind and, with any luck, will soon be on my palate.
I am basically prepared to drink almost any ale or beer at almost any time. My preferences change with the weather, though. Ask me what I am into right now… IPA. IPAs are good all throughout the year however the spring green and warm days usually get me particularly driven towards the piney fresh scent and rich bitterness of a fine IPA. Sierra Nevada’s Southern Hemisphere Harvest ale in the 24oz bottle just arrived and, if you are lucky, the Torpedo is sometimes available. FYI, Sierra Torpedo was dramatically oversold by the brewery. A strong marketing effort left demand high and supply low. Naturally I think that it all should have been sent to Colonial Spirits and we could be enjoying it in abundance right now. Other classic favorites I am currently enjoying are Victory Hop Devil and Smuttynose IPA. Newer treats are Green Flash West Coast IPA and Lagunitas Hop Stoopid.
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