Brew News Flash: The 11th Annual Brewer’s Plate is Just Ten Days Away…


Reflections of Brewers Plate

Reflections of Brewers Plate

While the good people of Punxsutawney, PA rely on the weather forecasting ability of a groundhog to tell them when winter will be over, the Boozedancing crew knows that the real first sign of Spring is The City of Brotherly Love’s annual Brewer’s Plate, a Craft Beer and Philly Food extravaganza that will be held at the Kimmel Center on The Avenue of the Arts. Below is more information about this event. Hope to see you there!

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PHILADELPHIA, PA —Fair Food is proud to announce details for The 11th Annual Brewer’s Plate and the return to the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts – a place so nice we’re sampling here twice. On Sunday, March 8th, 2015, foodies, bloggers, critics, and beer geeks galore will frolic to the corner of Broad & Spruce to taste the newest creations from some of the region’s outstanding farmers, chefs, artisans, brewers, distillers and winemakers.

The Brewer’s Plate continues to stack the deck with new faces that are committed to “buy fresh, buy local” and to celebrate the organization that helps make it possible – Fair Food. Attendees enhance their knowledge of the local food scene by sampling and directly interacting with vendors and sponsors who focus on bringing their best brews and dishes to the table.

New breweries pop up each day and it’s easy to join in on the conversation about Philadelphia being the best beer-drinking city. Enjoy a dish composed of the freshest local ingredients and wash it down with the beer that was meant to compliment it just right – the way Brewer’s Plate wins the heart of many each year.

As in years past, guests can choose between General Admission or VIP tickets. Rather than the normal “Early Bird” special, people that act fast will be rewarded with lower priced tickets. As a VIP ticket holder for 2015, you will have a full hour prior to General Admission with access to all the vendors, plus a special Brewer’s Plate VIP tulip glass. Stay tuned as the fun unfolds for this year’s celebration.

General Admission tickets:

  • First 300 tickets: $59
  • Next 300 tickets : $69
  • Next 300 tickets: $79

VIP tickets (only 300 tickets sold!):

  • First 100 tickets: $79
  • Next 100 tickets: $89
  • Final 100 tickets: $99

The Brewer’s Plate: The culinary adventure that always delivers.

Whisky Review: SMWS Cask No. 93.61 and Cask No. 36.67


SMWS Cask No. 93.61 and 36.67

At the end of January, I received an email from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America (SMWSA) announcing that we would soon be receiving a small Valentine’s Day gift in the mail. As a general rule, I don’t care for Valentine’s Day, but when there’s delicious whisky headed our way, I’m all for it! This cheery little email from the SMWSA made us feel a little like this…

Let’s get on with our reviews…

Cask No. 93.61 aka CalMac Welder’s Tea Break

What they say…

On the nose, the sweet charabanc of sugar puffs, Crunchy-nut cornflakes, fudge cookies, honey and chocolate flapjacks collided into the savoury wall of smoky bacon crisps, barbecued prawns and baked ham. The palate was also a crash site – big, rich and chewy, with cinder toffee, spiced sultanas and dark honey on toast scattered in a frightening wreckage of charcoal, ash, liquorice sticks, peat reek and industrial garages. The reduced nose suggested a welder on a Calmac ferry enjoying a Daim Bar. The palate – sweet and (we thought) acceptably dirty with a big spicy finish. From the ‘quiet outsider’ distillery in Campbeltown.

Drinking Tip: To aid the visceral enjoyment of a brutal rugby match

Region: Campbeltown
Date Distilled: June 1999
Colour: Orange sandstone
Cask Type: Refill hogshead

What we say…

  • ABV: 58.3%
  • Age: 14 Years Old
  • Appearance: Ahhhhh, Amberlita! Or however you say Amber in Scottish.
  • Aroma
    • Limpd: Astringent at first, which is exactly what I was expecting from something with a 58.3% ABV. Once I work past the alcohol, I get cane sugar, toffee, Earl Grey tea, buttered popcorn, and treacle.
    • G-LO: Ohhhhh! The nose on this is sweet and luscious. I’m picking up dark brown sugar, caramel, clove, cinnamon, some musty grapes, pipe tobacco, and a healthy dose of nuttiness (no wisecracks please).
  • Taste
    • Limpd: Hot and a little salty with a medicinal and metallic taste. It then transitions to a buttery toffee sweetness. With water, there’s a heightened medicinal quality and it loses some of its pleasant qualities, i.e. I get more sea salt and cinnamon.
    • G-LO: Surprisingly mellow in the beginning given its high ABV. Definitely tasting the Sherry cask influence with lots of dried fruit and baking spices from start to finish. Not as intense as I was expecting with pretty consistent flavors from start to finish. And speaking of the finish, it lasts for quite awhile with oodles of lingering fruit and spice.

Cask No. 36.67 aka Intensely Tasty

What they say…

A good example of whisky transformed by water – we didn’t know what to make of the nose – quite fruity (baked apple, fruit salad, watermelon, lemon curd, pear-drops) with an odd assortment of other aromas – Hawaiian pizza (pineapple, ham, pizza dough) pine forests and model kits. With water, suddenly the sweetness was released – caramel wafers, honeycomb crunch ice-cream and vanilla fudge. The unreduced palate seemed sweet and sour – pineapple dusted with chilli and salt, peppery Cream Soda and a slightly metallic finish – but water settled it down to zesty key lime pie and biscuity flavours – intensely tasty. Named after Speyside’s biggest mountain.

Drinking Tip: As an aperitif or to awaken the senses

Region: Speyside
Date Distilled: June 2004
Colour: Fake gold
Cask Type: First-fill barrel

And here’s our take…

  • ABV: 59.9%
  • Age: 9 Years Old
  • Appearance: Golden yellow.
  • Aroma
    • Limpd: Despite the high ABV, the first notes are of lemon drop candies and honey. After that I get a blast of alcohol and the smell of a fresh haircut, i.e. Clubman Talc and Barbicide.
    • G-LO: You would think that this 59.9% ABV whisky would singe your nose hairs, but that’s not the case. The alcohol is there, but it fades away quickly. Quite light and fruity with vanilla nougat, canned peaches, a touch of cinnamon, some tobacco leaf, and maybe some menthol.
  • Taste
    • Limpd: WOW! This whisky is hot, sweet, and tangy! It’s like barbecue in a glass. I’m thinking sweet and sour short ribs over a fire with a side order of cinnamon tart for dessert. With water, the heat is reduced and more of the barbecue is released. Also getting some fresh cut wood and tea biscuit notes.
    • G-LO: When I took my first sip, I said to myself, “Self, this doesn’t burn at all”. But then I took a second sip and let it sit on my tongue for a few seconds and then “WHAM!”, this whisky really opened up! Starts off lightly sweet and fruity with those peachy notes, and then it heats up with a cinnamon and chile pepper heat. Some tobacco leaf comes through in the middle and the spice builds even more. The finish brings some vanilla as all the flavors some together. There’s a pleasant, lingering burn with some herbal notes coming through in the aftertaste.

The Verdict

If you put a gun to our heads and forced us to pick a winner in this head to head tasting, we would go with Cask No. 36.67 because it definitely lived up to its name. What we liked most is how the nose is all light and fruity while the palate is intense and flavorful. According to the Whisky Portal, Cask No. 36.67 was sourced from the Benrinnes Distillery. This might be our first experience with a Benrinnes. If the rest of their expressions are as good as this one, then we’ll definitely be on the lookout for more from this distillery.

With regards to Cask No. 93.61, we enjoyed it, but the palate just didn’t live up to its fabulous nose. Our biggest gripe is the fact that it lacked the flavor transitions and intensity of Cask No. 36.67. Cask No. 93.61 was a good whisky, it just wasn’t a great one.

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Many thanks to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America for sending us these very generous samples!

 

#BloggerFest14 Recap and a Review of Nocino Caselli


Nocino Caselli

Back stories. Love em! Can’t get enough of em! So before I get to my review of the Italian liqueur that you see in the above photo, let me tell you a bit about how I got my grubby mitts on this sample… 

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Way back in late October (October 28th, 2014 or NYC WhiskyFest Eve), our dear friend The Coopered Tot (aka Josh Feldman aka Coop) hosted an intimate #WhiskyFabric gathering at The Morgan Library in Midtown Manhattan. In addition to Josh and yours truly, the following people traveled great, and not so great distances to join us:

As is usually the case when a group of whisky aficionados get together, the conversation flowed as freely as the whisky being poured. Here is just a brief sample of what went down during this epically epic tasting session that we called #BloggerFest14

WhiskyFabric 2

Miracle Max setting up for the tasting.

Max perplexed us with sporadic bird calls while discussing his love of Inchgower and the scent of “French Whore Perfume” with Josh.

WhiskyFabric 4

Sarah, Alwynne, and Allison

 A lovely Canadian woman was teased about her ever changing accent. One minute she sounds English, the next minute, she sounds Canadian! Pretty weird, Eh?

WhiskyFabric 3

Josh walked us through a few “dusty” whiskies from the 1950s and 1960s, and Alwyne dazzled us with her Canadian generosity by sharing her itty bitty samples of the most recent Diageo Distiller’s Edition releases. She even published our comments on her blog!

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While the majority of the night was spent tasting whisky, Allison was kind enough to change things up a bit by sharing her sample of an Italian liqueur called Nocino Caselli. Since I really enjoyed the change of pace after trying so many whiskies, Allison let me take the sample home with me for an eventual review. Here goes nothing…

Before we get to my review, here’s what Distilleria Caselli has to say about their Nocino Classico:

È un liquore ottenuto, secondo l’antica tradizione, mettendo in infusione in alcool puro le noci ancora acerbe raccolte alla fine di giugno con l’aggiunta di spezie ed erbe il cui tipo e dosaggio vengono tenute gelosamente segrete dal liquorista. Questo Nocino Classico viene prodotto con infuso invecchiato 2 anni.

Did you get all that? No? Guess there’s always Google Translate.

Let’s get on with the review…

  • Appearance: Deep, dark, walnut brown color. Completely opaque. Looks really thick because after giving my glass a swirl, thick legs form, and they take a really long time to slide down the inside of the glass.
  • Aroma: Incredibly aromatic with the slightest bit of alcohol vapors coming through. Really rich smelling with a healthy dose of caramelized sugar, bittersweet chocolate, balsamic vinegar reduction, a boatload of herbs that I’ll never be able to pick apart, and finally, some menthol and eucalyptus.
  • Taste: Yowza! This stuff really coats your entire mouth with flavor. A touch of alcohol burn at the onset, but that quickly subsides. The mouthfeel is very thick and syrupy with an unusual texture. It almost has a melted chocolate quality to it because it feels a bit grainy. It’s nutty, chocolatey, and herbally all at the same time. Dare I call this a bit chewy? There’s a touch of bitterness at the very end, but the majority of the time, it’s the nutty/chocolatey/herbally notes that dominate.
  • ABV: 42%

Growing up in a Sicilian household, I’m no stranger to this type of liqueur. Averna, Cynar, and Fernet Branca were constant staples, so intense flavors like the ones in Nocino Caselli don’t frighten me. Overall, I really enjoyed it and found it to be a bit more approachable when compared to something like Fernet Branca. My only complaint is that I found it to be a bit too sweet, so it wouldn’t be my first choice whenever I’m in the mood for this type of liqueur, but as a change of pace, this stuff is fantastic!

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Many thanks to The Whisky Woman for sharing her liqueur sample, and to The Coopered Tot for hosting yet another unforgettable whisky gathering!

Beer Review – Victory Anniversary 19 Ale


Victory Anniversary 19 Session IPA

The Wedding Slinger, a cocktail that we discussed briefly in our review of “Brooklyn Spirits: Craft Cocktails and Stories from the World’s Hippest Borough“, takes a seriously potent and delicious cocktail (i.e. the Manhattan), and adds a healthy dose of Ginger Ale to it, thus transforming it into an ALMOST session worthy libation that can be enjoyed over the course of a celebration that could last well into the wee small hours of the morning. While I doubt that this Manhattan variation will be as low ABV as a session beer like Evil Twin Brewing’s Bikini Beerit will at the very least keep you from getting too tipsy, too quickly over the course of the night. We love a big, ballsy drink as much as the next guy or gal, but when you’re in it for the long haul, pacing yourself es muy importante.

When it comes time for a brewery to release an anniversary ale, some breweries will celebrate the occasion by creating an over the top, high ABV beer that will wow their loyal followers and show off their craft brewing prowess (We’re looking at you Stone, Port Brewingand Firestone Walker! For the record, we wholeheartedly approve of your efforts). When it came time for Victory to release a beer in honor of their 19th Anniversary, instead of going the high gravity route like those other guys, they chose to release a Session IPA that clocks in at 4.5% ABV. It sounds to me like Victory plans to keep the party going all night long by serving up a beer that was custom made for an extensive drinking session. Victory, we like where your head’s at!

Before we get to our review, let’s find out a bit more about the Anniversary 19 Ale. Once again, Victory has pulled together a highly informative YouTube clip that talks a bit about the beer and also gives us a “behind the scenes” look inside their art department. Here it is:

Let’s get on with our review…

  • ABV: 4.5%
  • Appearance: Golden yellow with a slight orange hue. Lots of clear, fast rising bubbles that form a fluffy head which dissipates quickly. Moderate lacing.
  • Aroma
    • Limpd: In a word…fantastic! The fragrant yet not overpowering hops blended with some sugar and some malt. Wow!
    • G-LO: Bright, citrusy hops when you take that first sniff. I’m thinking orange and grapefruit. After that, there’s some honey and biscuity malt coming through.
  • Taste
    • Limpd: Creamy with a good balance of hoppy bitterness and malt. There is some grapefruit and some syrupy sweetness. A little muted for an IPA but then again this is a session IPA.
    • G-LO: Lightly carbonated with a somewhat creamy mouthfeel. Starts off lightly bitter with bright citrus flavors followed by some pithy grapefruit zest. Smooths out by the middle with some honey sweetness. The finish is lightly bitter and fairly crisp with just a bit of lingering grapefruit zest.

The Verdict

  • Limpd: Now, this is an IPA I can get behind. The softer, hoppy bitterness brings out the overall flavor of a great beer. As sessions beers go, this is a must try.
  • G-LO: While we definitely enjoy a high octane brew, it’s great to see so many brewers putting out flavorful beers that you can enjoy over the course of an extended drinking session without the fear of getting snockered after having just one or two. If you enjoy beers like Founders All Day IPA or Great Divide Lasso, then Victory Anniversary 19 Ale is definitely worth trying. Here’s hoping that it finds its way into a can for poolside summertime drinking.

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Many thanks to Victory Brewing Company for sending us this sample!

Whisky Review – Glen Garioch 1797 Founder’s Reserve


Glen Garioch Founder's Reserve

Glenlivet.
Glenfiddich.
Glen Grant.
Glenfarclas.
Glengoyne.
Glenmorangie.
Glenrothes.
Glen Campbell.
Scott Glenn.
Glengarry Glen Ross (a double Glen!).

There are other Glens out there. So so many Glens. This of course begs the question: Will any Glen do? It might if you’re Jon Favreau in Swingers

But not if you’re part of the whisky loving Boozedancing crew! We’re fussy about OUR Glens and are always on the hunt for “The Ultimate Glen”.

The next stop on our “Ultimate Glen” journey has brought us to Glen Garioch (pronounced Glen Geary, not Glen Garry-ock). Glen Garioch is an Eastern Highland distillery that was founded in 1797 by John & Alexander Manson, and they’re currently owned by Beam Suntory. For our first review of this distillery’s offerings, we will be sharing our impressions of their 1797 Founder’s Reserve.

Here’s what Glen Garioch has to say about their “entry level” expression

The quintessential Glen Garioch, Founder’s Reserve celebrates the brothers who first established the distillery and the 200 plus years of craftsmanship that goes into every bottle that bears the Manson name.

Nose: Warm amber in appearance, sweet vanilla and subtle spice combine with fruitier green apple and grapefruits on the nose.

Palete: Butter cream and vanilla pave the way to fruity green apple skin and citrus cleanliness, leading to an elegant and subtle finish.

And here’s what we have to say about it…

  • ABV: 48%
  • Maturation: Bourbon and Sherry Cask
  • Appearance: Pale amber.
  • Aroma
    • Limpd: A good bit of alcohol vapors. Caramelized sugar, charred oak and leather with a bit of stone fruit.
    • G-LO: Oodles of fruit and spice going on. Cinnamon. Clove. A hint of dark brown sugar. Toasted coconut. Musty, fermenting grapes. A smattering of ripe banana.
  • Taste
    • Limpd: Sweet on the tongue with very little of the expected alcohol burn. Mid-palate, there is a big blast of cinnamon followed by a mixture of black plums, cherries and apricots. The finish is a little drying with the oak and leather becoming a little more prominent and some lingering heat.
    • G-LO: Light bodied with a wee bit of oiliness. Quite spicy at the onset, which really surprised me given the nose. Lots of cracked black pepper type heat with a brown sugar and clove backbone at the start. Those fruity notes show up at mid-palate, but the spice doesn’t subside. Gets a bit sweeter at the finish with a tobacco or leather like flavor coming through. The finish is long lasting and a bit on the dry side with a lingering black pepper heat concentrated on the tip of my tongue.

The Verdict

  • Limpd: I don’t know if it was the higher octane (48% seemed just perfect for this one) or the beautiful balance but I really liked this whisky. Always a fan of sweetness over peat, the 1797 Founder’s Reserve hit all the right notes at just the right time. I liked it so much that I poured another so it wasn’t so much a tasting as a quick session.
  • G-LO: In case you haven’t noticed, I really enjoy a whisky that has a bit of intensity, and the Glen Garioch 1797 Founder’s Reserve is most definitely that. It’s also a bit rough around the edges, but not in a bad way. I really enjoyed this whisky, and given its somewhat reasonable price of around $45, I would definitely consider buying a bottle. I would characterize it as a ballsy Balvenie DoubleWood, and bet that this would make an excellent Old Fashioned.

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Many thanks to Savona Communication for sending us this sample!

Happy Valentine’s Day! Here’s Four Roses!


4rosescheese-3

If the usage of the singular verb tense with a plural subject bothered you…good! I like you already. But guess what? It’s not incorrect because we’re talking about Four Roses Bourbon. And cheese. Not grammar. Clearly. Because as you’ll see, I’m fond of sentence fragments. But back to the Bourbon and cheese.

4rosescheese-1Yep. Bourbon and cheese.  Way back in September, when Juno and Linus were but a twinkle in our beloved meteorologists’ eyes, I went to an event which paired Four Roses Bourbon and cheese at the French Cheese Board in Manhattan. Max McCalman, Maitre Fromagier (expert cheese guy) hosted the event and created the pairings with three Four Roses bourbons.  Max was out to dispel the notion that you can only pair wine and cheese, and in my book, he succeeded.

bourboncheese-1The first cheese was Mimolette. This is a bright orange, crystalline cheese that’s almost like a parmesan and was paired with Four Roses Yellow Label. Max referred to it as “an introductory cheese with an introductory bourbon”. The saltiness of the cheese was a beautiful match for the fruit forward flavors in the bourbon. Picture a cheese plate accompanied by pears and apples – that’s what it was like.

bourboncheese-4The second pairing (which was my favorite) was Comte and Four Roses Small Batch. Comte is a semi-hard cheese with a creamy texture and nutty aroma. This cheese has a long finish and held up great to the 45% ABV of Four Roses Small Batch. Max said he paired them because he felt they brought out the vanillin in each other. I did too. For me this pairing exemplified what pairings are all about; each elevated the other creating an entirely new flavor – a really delicious one.

bourboncheese-7Lincoln Log inspired cheese display. Or Jenga. You choose. Play nice!

 

bourboncheese-6The last pairing was Four Roses Single Barrel and Epoisse. Epoisse is a super soft, stinky cheese that is so gooey it almost needs to be eaten with a spoon. Max called bourbon “America’s Cognac” and the plum and spiciness of Four Roses Single Barrel make a good case for that. This was a really rich, salty cheese that needed a powerhouse of a bourbon like Four Roses Single Barrel to stand up to it. Forget dessert, I’ll take this (and a glass of water).

bourboncheese-8So next time you’re enjoying a cheese plate, why not try it with bourbon?

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Many thanks to the Booze Dancing crew for letting me cover this event and to The Baddish Group for the invitation!

Beer Review – Innis & Gunn Rum Aged


Innis & Gunn Rum Aged

This review of the Innis & Gunn Rum Aged is Beer Review #2 of the three Innis & Gunn beers we received in the mail a few weeks back. At first I thought that Limpd had already reviewed this one, but upon closer inspection, it appears that he reviewed the Innis & Gunn Rum Cask. What’s the difference between the Rum Aged and the Rum Cask? I’m glad you asked! Here are two big differences:

  • ABV: Rum Aged = 6.8%; Rum Cask = 7.4%
  • Barrel Aging: Rum Aged = Aged in oak barrels with rum infused oak chips; Rum Cask = 30 days in American oak + 30 days in Navy rum barrels

Now that you know how they differ, let’s get to my impressions of the Innis & Gunn Rum Aged…

When compared to the Innis & Gunn Original, I thought that the Rum Aged was lacking in oomph. The nose is all dried fruit with maybe a hint of dark rum, but other than that, I didn’t get much else. The flavor is more or less the same, i.e. there’s a good bit of sweet malt. Period. End of story. This wasn’t a bad beer, it just wasn’t very inspiring. I will say this though, it was a really pretty pour…

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Many thanks to Savona Communications for sending us this sample bottle!