Beer Review – Lavery Brewing Madra Allta IPA


 Lavery Madra Allta IPA

Minding my own business (as I usually do), I found myself a passenger in a vehicle back from a sales call. My chauffeur told me that we had run out of beer at work (gotta say, Beer Friday is pretty cool) and we had to stop at Kunda Beverage in King of Prussia to seek replenishment. Once again, not one to make a fuss (I mean really who am I to argue the point), we headed over to Kunda with a credit card and an empty trunk . At Kunda, we had a number of difficult decisions. First, in PA, we are forced to buy by a full case of beer. So, our investment must be something that is mutually appreciated by around a dozen fellers (not to be sexist but our female coworkers like spiked ice tea and/or gluten free beverages). And, we need to make sure that it is not too crafty (so, a big fat NO to DuClaw’s Sweet Baby Jesus).

We settled on a case of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (good for the masses) and a split case with four sixes of IPAs. We had the IPA from Avery, the IPA & a Half from the Tommyknocker Brewery, the Corruption from DC Brau Brewing and the Madra Allta from the Lavery Brewing Company. This review centers on Lavery’s Madra Allta. Lavery is a brewer from Erie, PA that was founded in 2009. They make about a dozen different beers and try to incorporate British, German and Belgian traditions into their brewing process

Here is what Lavery has to say about their Madra Allta:

Madra Allta is a classic India pale ale with a blend of Bravo and a NEW experimental American hop variety. Our IPA has a beautiful gold color with the unmistakable aroma and flavor of American hops. Hop-focused with light malt sweetness and a toasty dryness in the finish balances the high bitterness perfectly. An easy-drinking IPA awaits. Madra Allta, is the Gaelic word for ‘wolf’.

I found the beer to be…

  • Appearance: Deep cooper with a nice amount of tan foam and lots of lacing.
  • Aroma: Lots of malt with a little sweetness and a little hops.
  • Taste: Medium mouthfeel with a good bit of sweet dough followed by a lingering hoppy bitterness in the finish.
  • ABV: 6.4%

This was my first experience with Lavery and I was impressed. This might not have been a great IPA but it certainly was a good one. And, the fact that it comes in a can means I can enjoy this beer at the local cement pond. As summer approaches and I am looking for a quality, portable IPA, I will have to add the Lavery Madra Allta to the list.

Beer Review – Terrapin Beer Company Maggie’s Peach Farmhouse Ale


Terrapin Maggie's Peach Farmhouse Ale

As we have progressed into summer and with my dabbling in blueberry beers over, I reached into the beer fridge and pulled out yet another fruited up beer, Maggie’s Peach Farmhouse Ale from Terrapin Beer Company. Now, I’m not sold on fruit beers. I have some that I liked  (the Samuel Smith Fruit Ales (raspberry and apricot) and a St. Louis Framboise) and some that weren’t so good (a couple of blueberry beers (the Bar Harbor comes to mind) and some of the Leinenkugels (including their Shandy, just undrinkable). But, I had never tried a peach infused beer and I had some success with other Terrapin Beers (the Hopsecutioner IPA, the Rye Squared and the Monk’s Revenge to name a few). Terrapin is a craft brewer in Athens, GA and has grown from rather simple beginnings to a 40,000 sq. foot brewing facility. Terrapin rolls out six year round beers, 4 seasonals and a bunch of “special project” and collaboration beers. Sadly, two of my favorites the Rye Squared and the Hop Karma (a brown IPA) have been retired.

Before we get to my review, here is what Terrapin has to say about the Maggie’s Peach:

This refreshing summer offering has all the flavor and aroma of a freshly picked peach (to the tune of 1,000 pounds per 100 barrel batch!) combined with the complexity of a well-executed farmhouse ale.  Some of you may remember Maggie’s older sister, Side Project Volume 7, one of Spike’s first forays into farmhouse ales. This newest version is just as lovely, should age just as well and has the uniquely GA flavor of fresh summer peaches!

I found the beer to be…

  • Appearance: Cloudy, golden honey with lots of foam.
  • Aroma: Grainy, doughy with lots of fresh fruit (maybe peaches) and baking spice.
  • Taste: Sweet, crisp and refreshing but with a little funk in the finish (almost like the fuzz on the peach skin).
  • ABV: 5.3%

This was another average fruit ale. As summer beers go, it certainly hit all of the qualities (crisp, refreshing, flavorful) but I’m still not altogether sold on the fruiting up of my beer. I think I would have rather had a Hopsecutioner.

Hey Kids, Let’s Put on a Japanese Whisky Tasting in the Barn!


Hakushu and Yoichi in BW

On Thursday night, 4th of July eve, G-LO and I got together for a tasting of two well respected Japanese whiskies. No, G-LO didn’t leave his tony mansion in the Northeast and, no, I didn’t leave my shoebox-by-the-shore in Southern California. We instead met halfway, so to speak, using the Information Superhighway which seems to be all the rage what with sky high gas prices, crazy airlines that charge for icky blankets, and our general frugality (read: cheapskatedness). Below is our super serious discussion — 3,000 miles apart, very late night for G-LO and kind of late for me — about Hakushu 18 and Nikka Yoichi 15.

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Hakushu 18

G-LO: I think we should start with the Hakushu. Have you tried these before?

AK: Only the Hakushu Heavily Peated at a bar with Lee. Something like $30 for a pour. Glad this one is “free”. I am poured and ready to go.

G-LO: Same here. Hakushu 18 to start.

AK: Hakushu 18 sounds like a motorcycle part.

G-LO: Yeah it does. A part for a high performance crotch rocket. I’m thinking a Hayabusa.

AK: Is that an engine part for my ’92 Toyota Celica? I miss that car. Black, sunroof, fast. Flew to Vegas in that baby. First kissed my wife in that car. Not so great for baby car seats or anyone over 6′ tall though.

G-LO: I’m sticking with the Hayabusa. Besides, I’m more of a Honda guy.

AK: It was a black car inside and out, and this Hakushu has no black in it at all. Love the color: golden brown, which is not exactly a chick magnet color in cars.

RAL---Brown-Shades

G-LO: Golden brown? You mean beige?

AK: Beige sounds so beige. This is prettier. Softer. It looks Japanese. Whatever the hell that means. Granted, my house’s interior is brown and browns. But this seems different. Not like the paint we agonized over for months about or the stain for the cabinets.

G-LO: Don’t start with the paint color talk. Getting PTSD from painting the dining room. This is a pretty color. That shade of brown that you get with a perfectly cooked piece of tempura.

Hakushu 18 in the Glass

AK: Tempura!! Yes! Loves me the tempura. Just not the shrimp. I like the carrot and yam. Yum. This definitely has the same golden color without the greasiness. Painting and whisky should never go together unless it means you’re ready to drink yourself into oblivion after the third coat in the bedroom.

G-LO: Third coat? Sounds like we have a similar painting style, i.e. too thin. Though thin and me aren’t exactly synonymous. Except for the hairline of course.

AK: If I’m not getting carpal tunnel syndrome pain and cramps, the paint job isn’t done yet.

G-LO: Primer and then two coats followed by a week of touch up. Seriously. We keep talking painting and I’m gonna start chugging! Focus!

AK: Where’s Bob Vila? This isn’t NPR? I’m really bad at this nosing business. But I just love to smell whisky. And my schnozz says there ain’t no turpentine or paint in this stuff!

G-LO: This stuff be fruity! No?

AK: I’m so used to scotch that when I come across something not from Scotland, it takes me a minute to adjust my kilt. Fruity, but don’t ask me which one. Maybe a little green apple?

G-LO: Speaking of kilts, do they have a Tilted Kilt out there?

AK: Not sure but I sadly experienced a Tilted Kilt in Orlando. I still want my tip back and two hours of my life back!

G-LO: That bad?

AK: Pretty bad. I was with four customers who invited me. Waitress couldn’t spell beer. Plenty o’ Crappy might be a better name for the joint.

AK: It really smells lovely. Light. I like that even though peated is my my thing.

G-LO: With ya on the apple. Lightly spiced no less. Can I go with Fuji Apple?

AK: Fuji works. Mt. Fuji is better. d’oh!! I’m going in.

photo_hakushu_09

G-LO: But of course. Since the Hakushu Distillery is at high altitude, Mt. Fuji apple it is!

AK: I’m still nosing which is a big reason why I love whisky. Slows me down which is good and bad.

G-LO: There’s a touch of tobacco in there. Really good tobacco. Cuban seed.

AK: I get that too. Thought coffee at first. But tobacco is better.

AK: Not sure what I’m getting on the first sip. Funny how some are a bit oily. None of that here. Which reminds me, I need to get my car in for an oil change. Every 5,000 miles per Toyota’s specs. Remember changing your own oil? Yuck!

G-LO: Changing oil? Never done it. I’m a subcontracting kinda guy. Never touched a lawnmower either.

AK: I grew up in a non-subcontracting house. Me and pop would change oil and points. Jews Who Change Oil. Go figure, boychick.

G-LO: The Alemonger would be horrified.

AK: And I mowed lawns. Way too many lawns. I come from a long line of DIY Jews. I’d never do it today. I won’t add memory to a computer anymore, though I used to. I’m more UDIY now.

G-LO: According to The Alemonger, power tools are the work of the Gentile. Then again, he thinks cheese is anti-Semitic. So, take what he says with a grain of salt.

AK: This stuff is so darn light but I get a bite too. 43.5%. Feels hotter than that on the finish. I love power tools, and love how the power builds up in them. Pulling the trigger slowly on a Black & Decker power drill is like this Hakushu.

G-LO: Ok, ok. I’m going in now. You’re right. Not oily at all. Starts off slow and then it builds. More of a nibble than a bite. And by the way, the Tilted Kilt’s whisky list is pretty pedestrian.

AK: I remember being highly underwhelmed by the booze list there and ordering a Barq’s Root Beer just to have something in my hand other than a gun which I would used to blow my brains out. Food was wholly unexceptional. Look at us!! We’re Yelp for Dummies!

G-LO: I can respect that. I would have ordered a beer. I always start with the beer menu when I go anywhere. There’s value there. I go beer, then cocktails, then wine. Whisky is for after dinner if I don’t care for the dessert menu.

AK: Very Moneyball of you. It’s all about on-base percentage. There’s a build up with this whisky. I like it. Not peated, right? Maybe that tobacco is giving me false smoke signals.

G-LO: Loved Moneyball! The book, not the movie. I’m all about looking for the sweet spot, i.e. getting the biggest bang for my buck. And yes, this whisky totally builds as you get to the finish. No clue what kind of barrels they use.

AK: The beauty of not being a cocktail/beer guy is no wasting time. Right to the whisky. I can’t stay up late so I need the good stuff sooner! That being said, I was with fellow whiskyfabricites Allison Patel and Rob Gard tonight at a fun little nouveau pizza joint in Venice, CA. They had Brenne on the menu! I had an Old Fashioned with Brenne. Enjoyed it immensely.

G-LO: Interesting. I like Brenne on it’s own. There are some great beers out there and some kick ass cocktails being made right now.

AK: Rob said if a cocktail has more than four ingredients, it’s too complicated and TAKES TOO LONG! Totally get that theory. And I’d add, too freakin’ expensive!

G-LO: I agree with Rob. That’s why I hate recipes.

AK: I love Brenne on its own too so this was different.

G-LO: It’s already easy drinking, so I wouldn’t want to water it down any.

AK: There was a cocktail called a Dommo. Mint, Yellow Chartreuse, lemon, ginger and bourbon. Rob had it made with Brenne instead of bourbon. It was five ingredients breaking the Rob Gard rule but well worth it. He invented a cocktail! Thomas Edison of Cocktails, that one is.

G-LO: Speaking of easy to drink, the Hayabusa 1800cc is way easy to drink. Though it’s more of a rolling start vs. a standing start. No wheel spin!

AK: I like the finish on the Hakushu. I definitely get the tobacco a bit more there.

G-LO: I need a touch more. In my glass I mean.

AK: What’s Hayabusa? I ain’t not brain surgeon. And NO touching! This is a family show!

G-LO: Sorry. Forgot you’re not a car guy or a motorcycle guy.

AK: It’s a car? I swear you were going to say it’s some Japanese liqueur distilled on the thighs of women from the Ginza.

G-LO: Watch your mouth! Who you calling a Ginza? Is it me or is this whisky perhaps a bit too subdued? The finish is the big reward for me. I’d probably like this more if I didn’t know the price AND if I wasn’t the one that bought it. It’s really good, but I prefer the Hakushu 12.

AK: I’m a peat freak so if I don’t taste dead vegetation from the Bronze Age then it falls into the Subdued or Subdude category.

G-LO: You’re very focused. Subdude. Nice one. Less of a dude?

AK: Us Single celled organisms are just that way. I barely respond to light. Unless it’s peated.

G-LO: You an Amoeba or more of a Paramecium? Ha! That’s about all I got outta junior year Biology. Biology would have been more fun if I went to a coed high school.

AK: Paramecium! $2.00! Get your Paramecium! One isn’t enough!

G-LO: What does Rob say about five syllable words?

AK: I’ll UNDENIABLY ask him. No wimins?! Graduate of Trappist Monk High School? Did you guys have a football team?

G-LO: Just one woman. Sister Leah. She was the football coach. And does ice count as one of the ingredients in his rule?

AK: Don’t know his Ice Ice Baby theory but we had a interesting convo with two friends of Allison’s from the LBC about the big fat monstrous ice cube trend. That’s Long Beach, CA, yeah boyyyyy!

G-LO: Love the monster ice cubes! Especially when they’re crystal clear. So sexy!

AK: I know Viking, Sub Zero, or some overpriced fridge company is making a freezer right now to make big old cubes that will bash you in the nose in the comfort of your own home while “the eggs are cooling, the butter’s getting hard, and the Jell-O’s jiggling” all for under $10k. Plus pretty blue lights when you open the door at 2:00 am searching for chocolate milk.

G-LO: I never paid attention to ice until my first $18 cocktail in NYC.

AK: I can’t afford to pay attention. It is interesting how they don’t water down drinks as you think they might.

G-LO: When a drink costs $18, I’m friggin paying attention! I was transfixed by the ice cubes.

AK: I had a cocktail a few nights ago with ROOT and the bartender used a big coffee ice cube whatever that is. This a level of fluid dynamics that is beyond me. It was dark as my soul but more like a venti drip.

G-LO: By the way, definitely getting that tobacco in the aftertaste. The finish is where this shines. What’s a venti drip?

AK: Some Starbucks thing that my wife orders. No COFFEE QUESTIONS! Do I look like Howard Schultz?! I like the finish too. I sleep through the middle of movies anyway. Soooo, did I ever tell you that I like sniffing “empty” whisky glasses? Well, ones that had whisky in them. It’s a thing I do. Don’t ask.

G-LO: Huh. Interesting. Lemme try that. I usually just go for a refill…That’s a great smelling glass!

AK: The glass is coated in the spirit. It’s not like when the fluid is in there.  It’s different somehow.

G-LO: A line from a cheesy western just popped into my head: Gimme a glass of whisky in a dirty glass! I’d drink whisky outta this glass for sure!

AK: Indeed! It’s like smelling a frying pan after you’ve cooked in it.

G-LO: A seasoned glass. How very green of us. The verdict on the Hakushu 18?

AK: Exactly! I like it but not sure I’d buy it. But I like the smell and the finish quite a bit. Don’t tell me the price. I don’t want to know.

G-LO: Ok. I won’t spill. I will say this, it was 2x the cost of the Hakushu 12, but not 2x as good by any stretch.

AK: I have no idea what that means but if Train A, traveling 70 miles per hour, leaves Buffalo heading toward Schenectady, 270 miles away, at the same time Train B, traveling 60 mph, leaves Buffalo heading toward Schenectady. When do the two trains meet?

G-LO: Ummm.

AK: Please show your work.

Nikka Yoichi 15

G-LO: Again with the PTSD. Nikka time, baby?

AK: This Yoichi 15 looks beautiful.

G-LO: It really does look pretty in the glass.

AK: At this point, Totie Fields would look good in that glass. Too soon?

G-LO: Who the hell is Totie Fields?

AK: I knew you were going to say that. Google her.

G-LO: Geez. Dead at 48 in ’78!

AK: I love the name amber. Works well for strippers and for whisky color. It says it all, though I have no idea what amber is but she way overcharged me last time. That was clearly NOT 10 minutes! Funny broad. Totie. Not Amber. One leg. Again, not Amber.

G-LO: You know, I’m 47. If I were Totie, I’d have 9 months left.

AK: So, keep drinking. You never know.

G-LO: Good point. That was a Limpd kinda thing to say, by the way.

AK: Too many actuarial tables for that guy. The Yoichi is more, what, medicine-y “on the nose” (air quotes!).

G-LO: Interesting. Like a butterscotch flavored Band-Aid?

AK: This is one that bugs me. It’s a smell I know but can’t nail. Like Amber. It’s going to drive me nuts. Oh, whyyy do I tryyy?!

G-LO: Cause it’s fun! And it keeps you from just doing shots. Think of it as a spiritual experience. It’s sweet, yet spicy and medicine-y too.

AK: Right! You are the Gandhi of Booze.  Must be the bald head and robe.

G-LO: Can I get Ben Kingsley to play me in my biopic? It’d be a really short movie though.

AK: You want Ben Kingsley. You’ll take F. Murray Abraham. You settle for G-LO. #castingproblems.

Nikka Yoichi 15 in the Glass

AK: There’s a sweet musty smell to it. Like a closet that hasn’t been opened in awhile and you find that old sweater from college with Amber’s phone number on a napkin in it.

G-LO: I’m not gonna ask the condition of that napkin. Nor do I wanna know what you had to pay to get that number.

AK: I think the napkin is in better shape than Amber.

G-LO: The power of suggestion is strong with you.

AK: It’s the Midi-Chlorian. I take supplements.

G-LO: Damn you and your five syllable words!

AK: Interesting Ar-tic-u-la-tion. Watch the movie, young Skywalker. These aren’t the five syllable words you looking for.

G-LO: These aren’t the five syllable words I’m looking for.

G-LO: Now I’m getting musty grapes or something like that. We got Band-Aids, butterscotch, musty grapes, and maybe some cinnamon? Whatever it is, I love how this smells.

AK: I was thinking cloves but maybe cinnamon.

G-LO: Whatever works for ya.

AK: Me too. I’m all about old Band-Aids.

G-LO: I’m goin’ in!

AK: Yes, yes, you’re already wet. Might as well. Bottom of my tongue is burning like a house of love! Yowza!!

G-LO: Mmmm. This is more to my liking! A touch of oiliness? This has much more body.

AK: Definitely oily. I’m coated like Kojak in the episode where they bust the boys on the waterfront. This feels heavier. Apples and oranges compared to the Hakushu. Denser. More dense. Densapaloozaful.

G-LO: Spiced apple for sure.

AK: I really get the cinnamon now.

G-LO: Dunno about the orange, though there might be a bit of orange zestiness to it. Lightly bitter oiliness that you get from an orange peel perhaps? All the rage with the craft cocktail community!

AK: Not sure about citrus. Bottom of the tongue is buzzing. Kind of weird. Maybe a little mint toothpaste on the gums. I need to see the dentist, by the way.

G-LO: Again? Sounds like our teeth come from the same gene pool. Remind me to tell you the gold crown story one day.

AK: Oh, I know zest. Years ago I used to make this rum based thing called Christmas Shrub.

G-LO: You’re more zippy than zesty. Just sayin’.

AK: Thank you very little. Infused white rum with zest of lemon and orange with cloves, cinnamon, and caramelized sugar. Reduced this junk all down and put in a bottle for a few weeks with more rum. Sweet and syrupy, and kick ass. Served warm or on the rocks. Zest was huge in the flavor.

G-LO: You’re such a fancy lad. The finish on this one is sooo good! This Nikka is fo’shizzle!

AK: I’m fo’shizzling once more.

G-LO: I wouldn’t say it blows the Hakushu outta the water, but I definitely like it more.

AK: The Yoichi is more complex. That smell is still bugging me. Like I’m forgetting to do something. Did I turn off the stove? Did I close the garage door?.  But there is more going on with this one.

G-LO: I think so too. Voluptuous?

AK: Thanks. You’re not so bad yourself. Come here often?

G-LO: Hello, Sailor!

AK: Hello, Larry.

G-LO: Hagman?

AK: Dead.

G-LO: Yep.

AK: Abe Vigoda. Not dead. Go figure.

G-LO: Go Fish too.

AK: Tessio. It’s the smart move; Tessio was always smarter. Think the finish is better on the Hakushu but the Yoichi is better overall.

G-LO: Clemenza was too busy worrying about dinner.

AK: Don’t forget the canolli!

G-LO: See? I respect that.

AK: And watch out for the kids when you’re backing out.

G-LO: Screw that. They need to watch out for me. Damn suburb kids.

AK: You and your Big Wheel.

G-LO: Never had one.

AK: We got mattresses to buy!

G-LO: I’d take this whisky to the mattresses with me. It’s comforting. And hypoallergenic?

AK: Yep. Second go around is better. Ask for it by name. Accept no substitutes.

G-LO: I think I understand what you mean about the finish. The Hakushu finish is fantastic, but overall, the Yoichi is more fun.

AK: Time for some glass sniffing which is legal is California. I would have bet your last dollar on the Hakushu being my favorite. I get sucked in by the name. I’m so juvenile. Or is it Jewvenile? Waa waa waaaa

G-LO: Where’s that instant rimshot link when you need it?

AK: Much better smelling empty glass. I could lay down with this one for awhile. I shall name her Amber. And it was good.

G-LO: Same here. I was expecting the same results. I like the Hakushu but LOVE the Yoichi. FYI, the Yoichi is a relative bargain. The ROK picked it up at Narita Duty Free.

AK: Agreed. The Nikka Amber, er, Yoichi, is the pick here.

G-LO: I think it was like $60. The US price is around $90 to $100, I believe.

AK: I’d fork out for the Yoichi which by the way, the 11 year old daughter pronounced far better than I. Two years of Japanese classes finally paid off.

G-LO: Yo-ee-chee? How hard is that?

AK: She’s in bed. I’ll have her call you. Japanese friends of our say she nails the pronunciation. I’m just happy to say tempura correctly and not get a burger served to me.

G-LO: Impressive. Well this was good fun and kinda weird. No?

AK: No. I mean Yes. No, I mean, yes, it was good and kinda weird. Big thanks to YOU, G-LO-san for the samples. May your Origami never be unfolded.

G-LO: I think we have a Star Wars Origami book around here somewhere. Gracias, AK-san!

AK: I need a Star Wars Origami Lego Book. Everything especially an A-Wing Interceptor Starfighter is Awesome!

G-LO: I have no idea what that means.

AK: Say goodnight, G-LO.

G-LO: Goodnight, G-LO.

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For a full transcript of this episode, send a self-addressed stamped envelope large enough for us to include all of our accumulated junk mail and bills to our main office:

BoozeDancing Dot Com
PO Box 666
Walla Walla, WA 12345

4th of July Beertography!


Photo courtesy of G. Widman for GPTMC

Photo courtesy of G. Widman for GPTMC

I don’t know about you, but to me, 4th of July means firing up the grill, eating a plethora of burgers, hot dogs, and a whole bunch of other stuff, and washing it all down with a refreshing and flavorful Craft Beer. Taking a cue from our friends Ed of The Dogs of Beer blog and Bryan of the This Is Why I’m Drunk blog, I thought I’d share some of my latest experiments in Beertography that will hopefully inspire you to crack open a couple of cold ones on this, the biggest American holiday of the summer season. Cheers!

Casa Noble Tequila – A Tasting with Tapas


Casa Noble Tequila Toppers

We all have a tequila drinking horror story. It usually involves salt, lime, and too many shots of crap tequila, or too many Margaritas on Spring Break in Cancun or some other sun drenched destination. Thankfully, tequila horror stories are not what this post is about…

The Boozedancing Crew brought me in to put my own twist on how I would drink the Casa Noble Tequilas.  G-LO handled the tequila tasting notes and bottle shots, and I’m going to jump in with how I enjoyed the tequilas.  I made a couple of cocktails and paired them with some “tapas,” because if you’re gonna drink, and you don’t want to have a “never drinking tequila again” night, you gotta eat!

Tequila Numero Uno: Casa Noble Blanco

Casa Noble Blanco Tequila

G-LO’s Tasting Notes

Appearance: Crystal clear color.
Aroma: Citrus oil. Fresh cut grass. White pepper. Witch hazel.
Taste: Much softer than expected, with a touch of peppery spice in the beginning. At mid-palate it transitions to a vanilla sweetness that carries you through to the finish. Peppery spice comes back at the end along with that vanilla and a hint of citrus.

My Cocktail and Food Pairing Selections

CasaNoble-7I totally agree with G-LO’s notes on this one, and that’s why I chose it to make a classic margarita.  I really like how the agave flavors held up to the lime and Cointreau.  Salt on my glass? No, thank you.

CasaNoble-6 And since it was such a crisp, clean flavor I paired the margarita with nice, light, red snapper ceviche.  It didn’t overpower the ceviche at all and was really refreshing. Salt on my chips? Yes, please!! This is how you have salt with a margarita.

CasaNoble-5

 Tequila Numero Dos: Casa Noble Reposado

Casa Noble Reposado Tequila

G-LO’s Tasting Notes

Appearance: Pale gold color
Aroma: Vanilla buttercream. Pipe tobacco. Eucalyptus. Citrus.
Taste: So so mellow! Creamy and buttery mouthfeel with lots of vanilla at the onset. Pipe tobacco and a mild pepperiness kicks in at mid-palate. The finish brings it all together, i.e. vanilla, tobacco, pepper, and a bit of lime zest.

My Cocktail and Food Pairing Selections

CasaNoble-4I got a little more creative with this one and found a recipe for a cocktail called the Rosa Maria from the Schiller’s Liquor Bar cocktail book.  The cocktail is made with pomegranate juice and rosemary which kind of overpowered the tequila, so how did I fix that? Add more tequila!  I paired it with lamb chops marinated in lime, garlic and rosemary.  Don’t you just want to gnaw on those lamb bones?  I do, and did.

CasaNoble-1I also made these little sweet potato bites topped with black bean dip and chipotle creme.  We drank the Reposado neat with these and it was excellent! Those mellow, vanilla-y flavors worked so well with the sweet potato and the spice from the chipotle crema.

CasaNoble-3

 

Tequila Numero Tres: Casa Noble Anejo

Casa Noble Anejo Tequila

G-LO’s Tasting Notes

Appearance: Pale amber with a light brown hue.
Aroma: Not nearly as fragrant as the Reposado. Vanilla. Mellower tobacco notes. Light brown sugar. Perhaps a hint of clove too.
Taste: Can it get more mellow? Yes. Yes it can! No harshness at all. Light brown sugar and vanilla to start, with a hint of mild cinnamon heat at mid-palate. Mellow, mildly sweet finish with some herbal notes coming through in the aftertaste.

My Cocktail and Food Pairing Selections

CasaNoble-2

At this point, it was late and I was done cooking but still had to pair the Anejo.  I like chocolate and whisky so I thought, why not pair this with some chocolate? I had some Taza Mexican chocolate flavored with chipotle chile that I got in the swag bag from Whisky Jewbilee.  Could I have found a better chocolate to pair with tequila?? Nope. What was really nice about pairing this with the Anejo was that it brought out the agave flavors at the beginning, then moved to vanilla and ended with a long lingering spicy finish that I loved.

G-LO’s Final Thoughts

While he definitely enjoyed all tres expressions, he said that the Crystal was his favorito with the Reposado coming in segundo. He thought that the Anejo was far too mellow for his taste since it lacked the prominent agave flavors that he craves whenever he drinks tequila. (I need to get him to try it with that chocolate and see if he changes his tune.) Using Scotch whisky as a reference point, he compared the Anejo to drinking an older smoky Islay whisky, i.e. aging a heavily peated whisky diminishes the peat smoke flavors in a big way.

G-LO’s advice: If you like the taste of peat, stick with younger Islay whisky expressions. If you like the taste of Agave, stick with Silver or Blanco Tequilas. And if you’re a middle of the road kind of Tequila drinker, then the Reposado is what you should be drinking.

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Many thanks to Casa Noble Tequila and The Baddish Group for hooking us up with these very generous samples!

Event Review – 2014 Whisky Jewbilee


Whisky Jewbilee 2014 was SOLD OUT!

The following is a series of emails about the 2014 Whisky Jewbilee (and other sundry topics) between myself and Limpd…

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G-LO: Whew! Looks like we dodged another bullet. I thought for sure that baseball and softball schedules would interfere with our latest NYC Whisky Excursion! While I do feel a healthy dose of parental guilt for missing my eldest son’s final game of the season (a championship game no less!), I think dealing with the heat and humidity in NYC may count as penance, especially that last walk from Keens to Studio 450 where the event was being held. It’s like our forward progress through the city at rush hour was blocked at every turn.  Thanks Obama!

While the weather was pretty dreadful (Hazy, Hot, and Humid!), I am really pleased with how the day turned out. It was like a moveable feast all afternoon long. Lunch and a beer at St. Andrews. Snacks and a whisky at Keens. And then the icing on the cake: the 2014 Whisky Jewbilee!

Limpd: Dodged a bullet or just delayed the impending double tap? I felt a little guilty not holding a practice for tournament softball. Missing my kid’s championship game… I’m not sure anyone would have allowed that to happen. My Benevolent would have made a strong suggestion that I attend (see prior double tap reference).

Anyway, the train to NYC was swift and the weather not altogether unbearable. Of course, I could have done without the long sleeve shirt. If only I didn’t need the shirt pocket to hold my cheaters so that I could read the bar menus and bottles. Can we get large print bottles? I guess not. St. Andrew’s was a great first stop, and the fried oysters were pretty good. Then again, what isn’t good fried! What did you think of the Bellhaven?

I find it a bit of a challenge to hold any kind of a meaningful discussion at a tasting; too much to sample and too little time for chit chat. So it was great to meet up with Aaron, Mr. & Mrs. Shane, and Allison and her current intern for a little pre-game festivities.

After St. Andrews, the walk to Park Avenue Liquor was longer than I remembered (or maybe it was just hotter than last time). That place is amazing! If we had a few boxes, a Sherpa, and a larger budget, we could really do some damage there. And then we were off to see the lovely Miss Keens

I had my obligatory Dallas Dhu (that Signatory bottling was awfully good!) and I thought splitting our little snack (thick cut bacon and an order of fries) was a great end to the pre-game. And what a pleasant surprise to see Raj there. I guess all your social media douchery actually works! (Do you ever do any actual work???) And then there’s Sarah. That girl is crazy for Uber! While the AC in a sedan would have been nice, getting to the Jewbilee late would have been a big no no. Gotta admire her persistence though! And was it just me, or did Susannah pop in for a quick Scotch Egg pit stop on the way to the main event? My short term memory ain’t what it used to be!

I really didn’t mind the walk so much. It was definitely steamy, and blocking the streets at rush hour (thanks Obama!) is really inconvenient, but I needed to walk off some of the food (mostly the salmon club from St. Andrews, my earlier beer, and the Dallas Dhu). By the time we got to the venue, I was ready for some more liquid refreshment. What did you think of the venue? A little off the beaten path and in need of a new elevator, but the views were outstanding.

It took us much longer than expected to walk from Keens Steakhouse to Studio 450 thanks to a Presidential visit to NYC during rush hour. Thanks Obama!

It took us much longer than expected to walk from Keens Steakhouse to Studio 450 thanks to a Presidential visit to NYC during rush hour. Thanks Obama!

G-LO: Yeah. Payback for missing The Boy’s game is most likely in the works. As we like to say, sleep with one eye open! That’s what I’ll be doing from now on. Oh wait. I was doing that anyway.

Totally with you on the pregame summary! Lunch was superb and that Bellhaven was fantastic. I think I may prefer it over a Guinness as a session beer (think that comment will get me banned from Ireland?). As I’ve said to many people, St. Andrews is an oasis of food and drink on an otherwise dreadful block of Midtown Manhattan.

The food and drink was great at both establishments, but for me, the opportunity to have a wee get together where we can actually talk with everyone made it that much better. Great to see Aaron, Shane and Mrs. Shane, Allison and her intern Kelly, Raj, Sarah, AND Susannah (guess you don’t need to have that neurological work up just yet. But if you’re truly concerned about your short term memory, I know a guy…) in our travels. They are a super fun bunch! I’m still shocked that Aaron made it out. The West Coast Office (WCO) is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs!

I mean seriously, he took the red-eye in from LA on the day prior to the event and then flew back home on the morning after the event. That’s what I call a true whisky lover! MADNESS!

Re: Keens, you do love your Dallas Dhu. I’m surprised that they don’t have your name engraved on the bottle at this point. Have you ever NOT ordered it?

Studio 450 was really interesting. Agreed on the walk, location, and elevator: all three were a bit odd, but well worth it once you made it upstairs. I loved the layout and thought that it was a big improvement over the last venue since there was plenty of room to wander and explore what was being poured. The two level layout and outside space worked really well, and with 350+ people on hand, it never felt crowded.

There was SO much to try during the event and so much that was new to me! Where do I even begin? Thankfully, running into some of our other friends proved to be a huge help when it came time to pick my next whisky. Mark Gillespie of WhiskyCast and Stephen of The Malt Imposter blog were particularly helpful since they guided me through the Laphroiag and Tomatin offerings.

Did you have any favorite whiskies of the night?

LimpD: You get to sleep with one eye open. I just lay there and pretend to sleep just in case.

The camaraderie among the bloggers is really amazing. You’d think there would be some sort of competition, but instead we seem to be much more about the actual whiskey rather than the number of hits that our respective blogs get. And I concur, Aaron is a loon (unless of course, that kind of comment is offensive to loons – then I apologize wholeheartedly to any offended loons and then refer to Aaron by some other, less offensive ornithological name; perhaps a blue footed booby would be better).

For taking a red-eye, Aaron was in rare form. I’m not sure if that is the result of sleep deprivation or if he really is a bit unbalanced; either way, it was great to see him. And, it was really nice to meet up with Sarah, Susannah, and Raj before the event.

I order the Dallas Dhu for two reasons: (a) Keen’s is one of the only places where I have found the now shuttered distillery, and (b) it is really really good! I had the Dun Beagan bottling last time and the Signatory this time. I’ll have to see if they find another bottle the next time we go.

Studio 450 was a really nice place (elevator aside). I like the two levels as it seems to spread the crowd. I do not like the steps. Old, creaky bones and lots of whiskey are a recipe for disaster. Fortunately, I was driving later so I had to hold myself in check. And I really enjoyed the outdoor section with the cigars. Open air with an expansive view and a good cigar. What more could you ask for? I should have loaded up a glass and done a little dipping, but I was trying to pace myself and decided to hold back.

Outside, I really enjoyed the Talisker Storm and the two that I tried from the Single Cask Nation (a Glen Elgin 18 and the Catoctin Creek). I think my winner was from Raj. I liked the 23 yr. old Strathmill from Blackadder so much that I bought a bottle (and no, you can’t have any!. It’s going under the house for safe keeping). Although I really enjoyed the offerings from Bruichladdich (even the Octomore 6.1!), Tomatin (the Cu Bocan, the 18 and the 30 were all good), Elijah Craig (the 23 and the Barrel Proof) and Evan Williams (the Single Barrel Vintage 2004), I wish I had more time to savor each one or the opportunity to pour off a wee sample for later. But this was more of an event than a blog post (although this appears to be a blog post), so I will have to note my favorites and try them all again later.

I’m sure you had a favorite or two. Let me guess, something charred and smoldering?

G-LO: Geez. So much to say! Here’s my reply…

Lay there and play possum? Interesting strategy. I’m one step away from making like an ostrich and burying my head in the sand. Safety first!

It really is a great group of people. It’s all about the banter, whisky, and shared experiences. The whisky is fabulous, but the excellent company takes it to the next level. I’m already contemplating the next gathering, whenever that happens to be. And Aaron is neither a loon nor a blue footed booby. He is a hawk, much like the one owned by Luke Wilson in The Royal Tenenbaums. He too shall be called Mordecai!

The greatest cure for jet lag and lack of sleep is whisky and non-stop conversation with excellent company. That’s what kept Mordecai going for those 48 to 72 hours. Everyone knows this! Where you been?

Dallas Dhu. I’ll be sure to put it on the suggestion list next time somebody approaches me with the “What can I get Limpd as a gift?” question. Dhuly noted. Ha!

Agreed on the stairs situation at Studio 450. It’s a recipe for disaster with the wrong crowd, but thankfully, as far as I could tell, this was a well behaved and “serious about their whisky” kinda crowd, so it definitely wasn’t amateur hour. I loved the view and outside area too. Even though I don’t really care for cigars (I like them, but they don’t like me. Especially the next morning!), I was oh so tempted to try one that night. Maybe next time.

There was a plethora of really special whisky on hand! Between the photodouchery and the talking, I barely scratched the surface of what was being poured. And quit trying to pigeonhole me! I love the smoky drams, but that’s not all that I love when it comes to whisky. Here are my highlights: Blackadder Strathmill 23, Octomore 6.1, Tomatin 30, Talisker 18, Highland Park Freya, Laphroiag PX cask (and a couple others that I can’t remember), the new Tamdhu (no longer a Tam-don’t!), Arran Amarone Cask, Bowmore 25, Brenne, Compass Box Peat Monster 10th Anniversary, GlenGarioch Founders Reserve, Kilchoman Sherry Cask and 100% Islay, Smokehead, a couple of Single Cask Nation bottlings, and last but not least, the Westland Single Malt. Ok, so maybe that’s pretty much everything I tried that night. Sue me!

Seth, Jason, and Josh pulled together a really spectacular event. A great selection of whiskies in a relaxed and comfortable environment. No jackets or ties required. Gotta love it! Just so you know, the 2015 event is already on the calendar for 6/9/2015. Start scheduling the softball and baseball practices NOW cause you’re going whether you like it or not!

One last thing…

This was our 4th or 5th NYC whisky excursion, and we once again made it back to our neighborhood by almost exactly 1AM (give or take a few minutes). That’s kinda weird right?

LimpD: So, we call Aaron Morty? Sounds like an old guy selling carpet remnants, but if that’s the way you want to go with it, it’s ok with me!

Wow! For someone who had (by his own admission) at least 20 samples, that is some kind of recall. I cut my list a little short as I omitted the Highland Park Freya, the Laphroiag PX cask and the Westland Single Malt. I was particularly surprised by the Westland. Only two years old and really good.

The fellers at Single Cask Nation did another fine job. My only gripe (like I only have one or rarely have one) is the swag. The Nation gives me nice bag of stuff and yet we “only” get samples from the tables. I was hoping for another Glen Cairn or a flask or something. I know; “they pour out an almost unlimited amount of whisky so quit being greedy”. But my Pappy raised me to look for more. I should have taken the tactic of the one pourer I saw in the elevator on the way out. She had a number of bottles in her bag. Probably flashed her smile (or something else) and suggested that rather than ship an open bottle back, she would “help” them out and take it off of their hands. I say well played!

As respects the 1AM arrival, you seem to forget about the magic of whisky time. I think if we drink enough, some sort of time portal must be opened. In this portal, time accelerates to 1AM and then seems to stop. This has happened after multiple trips to NYC and many times on The Barthenon. Maybe we should have Stephen Hawking take a look at this phenomenon.

G-LO: You just won’t quit will you? Fine. Here are my final thoughts (as if we haven’t rambled enough!)…

Morty? Interesting. Reminds me of the guy from Goodfellas that tipped off Henry and Jimmy about the Lufthansa heist. He sold rugs. The kind that I need on my head to help with my follicular challengedness (grammar and correct spelling be damned!). Morty it is! Or was that Morrie???

Regarding my memory, I kinda cheated, i.e. I went over the 2014 pour list and played the “had it, had it, had it…” game. No duds to be had by me that night, so they all made my list! And yes, that Westland was delicious. Gotta revisit that one fo’sho!

You have gripes??? Seriously? And what the f#%$  is a feller? I’m not gonna dignify your “lack of swag” comments with a response. You greedy bastard! And yet somehow I’m always the douchey one cause I take a few hundred pretty photos or write an elaborate tasting note (or should I say 500 elaborate tasting notes?). Life just isn’t fair.

I forgot all about “whisky time”. Silly me! Until next year…

Beer Review – Brauerei Heller-Trum Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Weizen


Aecht Schlenferla Rauchbier - Weizen

Recently, in an effort to expand my beer horizons, I had G-LO over to debate the merits of smoked beers. I had picked up two beautiful bottles from Brauerei Heller-Trum / Schlenkerla. The first was the Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock which I found to be fantastic. The second is the Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Weizen. At the 2014 Australian International Beer Awards, this beer won the Gold medal in the smoked beer category and the brewer won the Cryermalt Trophy for Champion – Medium-sized  International Brewery.

Before we get to my review, here is what Schlenkerla has to say about the Weizen:

Schlenkerla Smokebeer Wheat is an ale with light smoky aroma. As Bavarian wheat beers, it is being brewed with a mixture of both barley malt and wheat malt. The portion of barley malt is hereby a classic Schlenkerla smokemalt, while the wheat malt remains unsmoked. Served unfiltered with its natural haziness, Schlenkerla Wheat reaches its full aroma through bottle fermentation with fine top fermenting yeast.

And here’s my take…

  • Appearance: A little layered with a light brown top, and orange-ish middle and a lemony bottom.
  • Aroma: Light smoke, citrus (lemon) with a good bit of sweetness and a little bit of dough.
  • Taste: A well-balanced, wheat beer that hits all of the notes of a really, good wheat beer with the added hint of smoke.
  • ABV: 5.2%

I didn’t like this one as much as I liked the Urbock. Not that there is anything wrong with this beer; it is still a really, really good beer. For me, I think it is more a question of the style; I am just not as big a fan of the wheat beers as I am of a heavier beer like the Urbock. One work of caution; this beer is bottle conditioned so as you pour it out you need to beware the residual schmutz in the bottom of the bottle/glass.