Drink of the Month Archive

2/12 – 2/18/17

I wasn’t quite sure where to start with this first one…there are A LOT to choose from!

Let’s stick close to home – and close to my heart – to start off:

3 Golden Hairs by Grimm Brothers Brewery.

This is a German-style pilsner, which means it is less malt-forward than a Czech pilsner. Grimm has added their own flair to it as well, which comes through as bit more of a hop-note than a purely-traditional pilsner will have.

It is clean and clear, and is a nice sessionable beer for those long taproom afternoons!

 

02/19 – 02/25/17

For this I’m pretty much just going to use whatever I happen to be drinking when the mood to write this section hits me…

At this particular moment, I am sitting on the patio of a local brewery soaking in the sun and enjoying a damn fine beer:

Roll in Ze Hay by Verboten Brewery.

This is what is called a gose: a German-style, salt-sour beer. It is brewed to be light and crisp, with a nice, well-controlled sour note. It is, to me, pretty much a warm-weather drink (give me ales in winter!), and this particular version is one of my go-to beers when the weather gets nice.

Because it is a sour, it also takes flavor well. The few brewers who do this style will also generally do fruit versions as well (these guys did a watermelon one that was GOOD) to counter-balance that salt-sour tang with a bit of sweetness.

 

02/26 – 03/04/17

So, I’ve done a couple of beers to start this section off.  A couple of local beers, actually – which kinda flies in the face of my desire to make this blog “anonymous”, but what the fuck…

At any rate, this week we’re jumping on the liquor-wagon!  More accurately, the whiskey-wagon.  All aboard!  Wheeeee!!

Sorry.  Wait…let me put on my serious blog-face.  There we go.  {You’ll just have to imagine the serious, pontifical “narrator voice”}

Bulleit Bourbon … and, yes, it is owned and made by one of the huge conglomerates, in this case Diageo.

I am not nearly so much a bourbon guy as I am a scotch guy.  I can’t tell you how much I love those nice single malts, but I AM trying to learn about bourbons, and this is one I tend to go back to.  Keep in mind this is no small-batch, craft booze, but it IS damn near the top of the big, mass-produced brands.

It is also (relatively) cheap.  For a guy who likes $80 bottles of single malt, a $28 bottle of bourbon can be a pretty nice change.

Normally the sweet edge that all bourbons have – a result of how they’re made – is something of a turn-off for me.  How Bulleit controls that sweetness is one of the things that sets it apart: they use a great deal of rye in their mash-bill (something like 28%).  It is not enough to turn it into an official rye whiskey, but IS enough to control and enhance the flavor of the bourbon itself.

 

03/06 – 03/12/17

Back to beer this week!

I love sour beers.  I know it sounds it weird if you’re not a follower of craft brews and unusual styles, but I have this almost unholy love of sour beers.  Of course, I also love sour-as-hell candy, so maybe there IS something wrong with me.

One of my all-time favorite sours:

Friek by O’Dell Brewing.

Technically this a style called an American Wild Ale.  Now, I know a lot about beer, but I am NOT going to even try to dive into the details of that style.  Let’s sum it up in one word: good.

This particular beer is a limited edition the brewery does just once a year, and can be kinda tough to find as it sells out FAST.  It also ain’t terribly cheap…but it’s more than worth it!  I once described it in a beer-rating app as “a sour beer dancing on a stripper pole”.

That’s a good thing, in case you were wondering…

 

03/13 – 03/19/17

Have to go abroad for this one.  It’s no tiny craft brew, but it is (to me) the best of the Czech beers commonly available here in the US:

Staropramen by – and I can’t believe I’m going to type this – Molson-Coors.

Well, actually, Molson-Coors simply owns the brewery that makes it, they don’t make it themselves.  There…typing that almost (but not quite) makes me feel less dirty.

All that aside, this is a traditional Czech pilsner.  Yes, it’s mass-produced.  Yes, the import from Europe does not do it any favors.  And, yes, it IS markedly better than 90%+ of the pilsners you’ll find in the US.

Is it the best pilsner in Czech itself?  Not by a long shot, but I’m trying to stick with beers easily available here in the US.  I’m saving the stuff I drink when I travel for when I run out of ideas for “normal” stuff…

 

March, 2017

Well, shit.  What to write about?

Let’s go out on a limb.  Off the beaten track.  Out to lunch.  You get the idea…

I’m not sure it qualifies as “good”, but oh, holy shit, do I have some stories about this goddamn booze:

Becherovka by Jan Becher Co.

It ain’t actually all that high in alcohol (38% alcohol, versus 40-50% for decent whiskeys), but Jesus, Mary and Joseph do I have some stories about finishing long nights of drinking with this stuff.

There are, in all honesty, even more stories that I, umm, don’t have.

There was this one time I woke up with a goat and a plastic sword, but let’s not talk about that…

You can’t escape this stuff in the Czech Republic.  It’s like trying to dodge schnapps in Germany: it just doesn’t work.  You’d think that when I come back to the US I would use the opportunity to, well…”dry out” for lack of a better term.

You’d be wrong.

There’s a bottle of this evil, demon-infused-booze calling from my fridge even as I type this.

 

April, 2017

Cutting back on beer means I have less, err, ammunition for this section.  I’m going to drop this to monthly rather than weekly, if only to save my liver.

So April’s drink of the month?  That’s easy, I gotta go with my favorite:

Oban by Oban Distillery (in Oban, Scotland…you get the idea) – and, yes, these guys belong to Diageo like so many other small, “craft” distilleries.  Oh well, c’est la capitalism.

This is a traditional, single malt scotch…and, no, you can’t call it “scotch” anywhere other than the US.  To the rest of the world it’s the “real” whiskey and bourbon gets the special label.  It’s something of a midpoint between the peaty, smoky lowlands style and the clean, fruity notes of the highlands.  It has enough complexity to make it interesting to drink, but not so much peat & smoke that I need a cigar to go with it (I gave up cigars 15 years ago, actually).

One of the best presents someone can give me?  A bottle of Oban.  The 14-year-old “basic” version is good, but the 18…ahh, the 18…

 

May, 2017

I just took a relative on a beer-tour in my region (sorta). Of course, that means I have to use one of those breweries as my Drink of the Month!

AK by Hogshead Brewery

AK is a cask-conditioned, English-style bitter ale (often called an ESB). Now, I love bitters and browns…and very, very sadly there are not many craft breweries here in the states that can make one worth a damn. I can’t even begin to count the number of shitty versions of bitters and browns that I’ve had…

These guys, however, get it. They know how to make beers and ales, and how to play to the strengths of the cask (vice the normal CO2 driven kegs).

Doing cask-conditioned ales makes a difference…a huge difference, for either good or evil. With Hogshead, it is most definitely good. They’re not well known outside of the region, but if you ever get a chance…well, go all “Nike” and just fucking do it.