Tales of a Wayside Brewery

For those of you who read this blog, you know that my two favourite seasonals are autumn, and, especially winter. This one is especially dear to me as it comes from my first ever microbrew. I first tried this brewery’s offerings when I was skiing with my dad. Ever since then, we have enjoyed these beers from time to time. That is why I am reviewing:

Shipyard Brewing Co.: Longfellow Winter Ale

Tasting Conditions: I enjoyed the brew after a long day at school to celebrate the beginning of the weekend. The beer sat less than a week in the cellar and was drunk fresh from there in a five ounce tasting glass.

Eye: The beer poured a chocolate brown with a creamy pale tan head. The bottle had a Longfellows mug staring out at us with a purple-tan label over brown glass.

Nose: The nose was reminiscent of a masala chai with lots of spice notes, vanilla, and chocolate, as well as nice citrus notes.

Mouth: The beer was smooth on the front with lots of winter spice and a pleasant hoppiness right behind. In between there was a nice chocolate with a hint of mint, caradamon and vanilla. The taste was quite subtle, so I had to search a little.

Conclusion: I love porter and this is a wonderful example. Combine porterness with winter spice, and I think I’m in love. There’s way too much good beer out there to drink any one regularly, but this is one I’ll keep an eye out for next winter.

Here’s to a good pint,
The Scribe

It’s a Bird! It’s a Booze!

It’s RYE! That’s right, today I review most mixologists most beloved spirit, rye. I’ll be discussing this wonderful spirit over the next two weeks here at the Dram. First up, we have my newest acquisition. I ran out of my old standard, Old Overholt a few weeks ago, so now I’m drinking:

Austin Nichols Distilling Co.: Wild Turkey Real Kentucky 101° Straight Rye Whiskey

Tasting Conditions: I enjoyed this whiskey after a long day at work. It was the first sip from the bottle. I used a Spirit Sippers large snifter (“The Wide-Mouth”) for the taste. For comparison purposes, I will taste it in a London dock glass later to see how the two glasses differ.

Eye: The bottle is similar to other Wild Turkey offerings, excepting that the green cap and a green bar on the label signify that it is rye. The rye pours a honey-wheat tan with very slow-forming and quite stubby legs.

Nose: The first thing I get is apples and toffee or caramel. It smells much like a nice caramel apple one might get at a state fair. Backing that up is a hint of both peppercorn and perhaps green bell pepper.

Mouth: In the mouth at very first, it almost tasted of vodka. Then I got a sweetness, and a fruitiness on the finish. The finish started with apples but then moved to the green bell pepper I noticed in the nose. A second sip showed more apple on the front while the sweetness remained the sweetness of unmodified sugar. I added water and gave it a swirl to mix. I lost much of the fruitiness, but got a lot more complexity with the sweetness. I got caramel notes as well as oakiness and a cumin-like smokiness. A second sip reminded me of the apple on the front, though it became more of a baked apple and lost crispness. Addind ice and pausing to allow it to melt and cool the whiskey, I took my final sips. When it cooled the rye lost much of its distinctiveness. There was still a Scotch-like smokiness, and some sweetness, and a little fruitiness, but it tasted a lot like a Scotch on the rocks.

Conclusion: This is not a bad whiskey. In fact, I quite enjoyed it. However, if my recollection of the Old Overholt is good, I think I preferred that. The search for good rye continues…

Enjoy,
The Scribe

A Broader Mind

It has been a tradition here at the Dram to post reviews of spirits on the third Wednesday of the month. Today I break with that tradition (well, technically, I broke with it in both November and December as I posted nothing, but that’s different)…sort of. Today’s review is of something that is not a spirit. It isn’t even very alcoholic. Today, I drink vinegar, as you will have seen in Monday’s MxMo post. So, without further ado, I give you:

Condimento Aceto Balsamico di Modena (Make unknown.)

Tasting Conditions: I tasted this Balsamic vinegar in a London dock glass, freshly opened, after a hard day at school. The vinegar was kept at a cold room temperature.

Eye: The vinegar is dark brown in the glass. It is poured from a bottle with a bulbous bottom covered in wickerwork, with a slender tall neck, and a spout.

Nose: It smells like, well, to be perfectly honest, it smell like Balsamic vinegar. Go into your pantry. Grab that bottle of balsamic vinegar. Take a whif. Yup. That’s what it smells like.

Mouth: It’s suprisingly not bad. The first thing that hits me is lemon juice, followed by a nice, sweet grape. It is surpringly pleasant, though, to be honest, perhaps a bit acidic, even for me, and I love to drink lemon juice. It has some pleasant complexity to it, which I can really only describe as mellowness. It is clear to me that there is a bunch of subtlety back there, but the sourness is overwhelming enough that I can’t really put my finger on it.

Conclusion: When I poured myself the glass, I started with a few drops, two sips really, and was prepared to pour it out. After tasting it, I topped up my glass with a full ounce. I would really love to get my hands on a better, tradizionale grade vinegar and try it. Note that the real stuff ain’t cheap, and can go for as much as a bottle of good aged spirits, but I think it will be worth it to you.

Here’s to an open mind,
The Scribe

Mixology Monday: How Have You Changed?

mxmologoToday, at least in America, was a day of change. It was therefore surprisingly fitting that our theme for Mixology Monday was, to put it simply, change. Despite the fact that Obama lives in my neighbourhood, and Sasha and Malia went to the same school I did, this theme was completely unintentional, and, indeed, set long before the election. Before I leave the topic of Obama, I would suggest an amazing drinking game for you. Turn on the news as you read this post, and take a sip every time the word “historic” is said. The challenge is to be only mildly suggestable by the time you get to the end of this post.

With that out of the way, I would like to thank the thirty two people who submitted for this month’s Mixology Monday and broadened their horizons.

I got the privilege of playing with new ingredients, new techniques, and new uses for that most dear of all old ingredients, bitters when I made the Espresso Stout cocktail.

Our first entry this month comes courtesy of Forrest from the Ministry of Rum forums. He suggests an Orangutan. Since he features aguartiente, he gets bonus poitns.

rejiggeredNext up we have Shawn from Rejiggered who gives us his take on Nog…a-nog-a-nog. It looks like it would hit the spot on a cold day…and provide good incentive to go to the gym the next day.

Congratulations to Eric Flannstead over at the Underhill Lounge who is broadening his horizons by becoming a bar tender at Heaven’s Dog. I hope you enjoy the experiences.

Reese the Cocktail Hacker had a particularly apropriate post. He tried out beer. Since the Dram not only talks cocktails, but beer as well, I’m glad I could convert you just a little bit, and that photo of all your beers makes my mouth water.

The ever lovely Tiarre takes A Mountain of Crushed Ice on a posh trip to India with experiments in Indian spices. I am very interested in seeing how that cumin syrup turned out. Suffice it to say that an Indian Sunrise ain’t your garden variety mango lassi.

My fellow Somervillian (or is that Somervillain?) Fredric over at Cocktail Virgin Slut broadened his horizons all right. He tried the Knickebein wich seems a bit like the love child of a pousse cafe and a Rocky Mountain oyster. He says the egg yolk wasn’t that bad. While I enjoy a soft yolk in my fried eggs, I still reserve judgement.

Over at Drink of the Week they are enjoying a cherry sling margarita. It certainly seems like an interesting flavour combination. Unfortunately, I have no idea where to procure cherry juice, or cherries, so this will have to wait until either I get some cherry sling mix or summer to bring her bounty.

Anna from Morsels and Musings has a very, very green cocktail. It is based on kiwi-aloe vera juice, which I need to try, and pear-infused vodka to make an Aloe Pera. Seriously. This cocktail is green. I don’t know where you can get the juice on which this is based outside of the Oz, but if I can find it, I want to mix with it.

Trader Tiki trades a very green drink for a very yellow one. His Cadillac Coupe allows him to use Tequilla as an ingredient, and he pairs it with Grand Marnier to make this intriguing beverage. I am really glad Blair rose to the challenge and found it profitable.

Tristan at Wild Drink tried out brandy butter after rejecting potatoes, peas, garlic, and a tea cup. I am a bit disapointed he didn’t try using a tea cup as an ingredient. Maybe if you used it as a powder it would be more palatable? Regardless, he comes up with the stomach warming Pie, Splash, and Liquor which sounds like a perfect pick-me-up on a cold day.

Jon over at ednbrg sends in his regrets that he is unable to participate. It’s not too late, Jon! I’ll be taking entries all month.

Sonja over at Thinking of Drinking plays with Chartreuse VEP, combining it with gin and other playmates to give us not one but TWO cocktails, and both look delicious. The Emerald Cocktail adds the liqueur to a Gin and It, and you’ll have to visit Sonja’s blog for the other. =)

Scomorkh over at Science of Drink conquers his unscientific fear of egg white. Might I suggest a Knickebein as your next cocktail? If you aren’t ready, then take your time and drink a few more of those delicious looking White Ladies to get your courage up.

Over at Oh Gosh!, Jay goes beyond the call of duty. Since his blog already explores all sorts of new horizons, he explores a new country! While in Amsterdam, he visited Herrie and the barkeep gave him the libation he shares with us: the Holland House cocktail.

If you take a seat at My Aching Head you’ll find your head aching due to cocktails made with Advokaat. Today’s choice? A modification of the Fluffy Duck called the Fiery Dick which seems like an homage to the Tom Collins. This just reminds us that while the snow is three feet deep in my driveway, in Oz the sun is shining bright.

Causabon over at Iceland Spar seems to be on the same wavelength as me. We both are trying to keep our names out of search engines, and we both are mixing with condiments. In this case, soy sauce is used with a variety of liqueurs to produce a delicious looking cocktail. I really want to try his Secret Ingredient cocktail.

The Drink Snob plays around with Maraschino, as well as giving us an informative lesson in its history. As a side note for fans, did you know that the cordial is pronounced mah-rah-skeeno while the syrup-preserved cherries are pronounced mah-rah-sheeno? Meanwhile, the Snob sets the bar high with a full three cocktails. You’ll have to head over to his blog to learn which ones.

Over at Yoga and Gimlets, our intrepid writer is learning to tend bar. After working as a brand rep for almost two decades in the spirits business, the yogi decided it was time she actually learned to make drinks, and I couldn’t agree more. Welcome to our party!

Darcy over at the Art of Drink wins my medal for coolest looking drink. Instead of merely frosting the rim of her drink with sugar, she frosts the entire glass. This gives the rimey effect to the eponomous hoar frost cocktail. It looks amazing!

Mike over at A Dash of Bitters pulls out a bottle of Ramazzotti for his new endeavours. He combines many of my favourite things into a single glass: bourbon, sherry, bitters, Cointreau, and, of course, Ramazzotti to make the Chaplin. I guess he just gave me something to add to my wishlist of things to try.

After trying to make a cocktail with stout, Paul decided it wasn’t working. He instead tried using the Italian fizante Muscato d’Asti to make the Wink. The cocktail is simple, and looks delicious.  I like using snow as the background for this picture. Quite clever.

Over at the Scofflaw’s Den, Marshall decides to try sherry. After making a Chaplin, he also makes both an Adonis and a Dewy D. All three look delicious, and I would drink them down in an instant. I happen to have a bottle of the very same Osbourne Amontillado that Marshal was using, and the anchorman just said “historical” so you’ll just have to excuse me for a second.

Okay, hic, I’m back. Felicia made us a martini tonight. What’s special about that? The garnish. Watermellon radish. I have never seen a watermellon radish before, but they look gorgeous. I may have tried to reach through my computer screen to try one. It didn’t work out so well. Since she cleverly passworded her photos, you’ll have to take a look at her red martini to see the photos.

Jacob Grier is unhappy about the fact that pipes are no longer allowed in even cigar bars in Oregon. How does he vent his anger? The same way he broadens his horizons. He makes an air infusion of vermouth and uses it to make a Manhattan, or, rather a Ceci N’est Pas Une Pipe. You know what they say in Delta house, don’t get mad, get drunk.

Sean, other law scoffer, takes a different tack. He tries for the same sort of egg-and-pouse-cafe combo as the “virgin.” However, while Fredrick got a result on the pouse cafe side, Sean’s version turned out like the Rocky Mountain oyster. Instead he infuses a simple syrup to make a vanilla Sazerac.

Bruce from WorldWideDrinks decides to also go the vinegar route. His involves a shrub. While he at first makes an almost impotable concocktion, he perserveres. The third time is the charm and his rasbery shrub pairs beautifully with applejack  to make an applejack shrub.

Dinah and Joe, the Bibulous team decided to use the brandy-based Pimm’s No. 3 (Pimm’s Winter) to make a Winter Willow. In order to taunt us with a delicious cocktail we may never make, however, they used willow water as a key ingredient. Darn you Dinah and Joe!

Over at Rookie Libations, Chris gets creative with powders to make a delicious rimming blend. He then winterizes the summery Ramos gin fizz with applejack to produce the winter stagg fizz. Despite my issues making a Ramos, I might have to try this gem.

I did it! I managed to get Paul to break his new year’s resolution and post again! He pulls himself out of the rum-rye-gin rut that so many of use are in (in my case it’s just a rum rut), and gets down the bottle of Scotch to make a penicillin cocktail.

Drinkmix takes a trip to Japan this month offering jasmine tea, ginger, and, most importantly shochu in a hot cocktail he calls the beautiful jasmine. It seems like an interesting play on hot sake. I have none of those ingredients, well, except ginger, but I want this cocktail. Note that there is an English translation bellow the German.

That’s interesting, staying in Japan we find KL in the bar next door! He won’t be staying long as he is taking Beers in the Shower on a tour of Asia following the inspiration for his entry this month, the Mekong Wagtail. Grab a bottle of Soju/Shochu, and put both of these drinks together.

Last, but my no means least, the RumDood is mixing with Chartreuse. He gets his inspiration from the Mixoleum where, in what almost sounds like Truth or Dare, he is “inspired” to combine it with all sorts of deliciousness to make the Chocolate Raindance.

Apologies to the Married With Dinner team for leaving their entry off. They broadened their horizons by taking a trip across the pond. When they saw the variety of ingredients there, they were stunned, and it was all brought together for them by a trip to the Connaught Bar where they sampled the French Sin. Since the folks there provided them with the recipes, they passed it on to us.

Also, Chris, from Cocktailwelten makes a Riceflower cocktail. I don’t read German, so I can’t tell you much more than that. I am pretty sure it features sake, and I believe it may also have rosewater and perhaps some sort of ginger device. Anyway, check it out.

Oops. Still one more. Sorry Stevi. Over at Two at the Most, Stevi is playing with Tequila. If my experience with that diabolical spirit is anything to go by, it should definitely be two at the most. Anyway, Stevi seems to do pretty well by the agave distilate and comes up with the Panamique.

Well, that’s it. I’m glad we had so many entries. The only problem with everyone broadening their horizons is how many ingredients we need to replicate it.

If there are any problems, let me know in the comments. Also, if you have yet to get your entry in, I will keep the door open until next month’s MxMo hosted by Matt at Rowley’s Whiskey Forge.

Until then, for all of you playing along at home, just pretend I’m Tina Fey:

“Maveric.”

Err…

“Historical.”

I hope you all enjoyed this month,
The Scribe

Mixology Monday: You Drank WHAT?

mxmologoGood evening all. The challenge this MxMo was to “broaden your horizons.” I really liked this challenge. (Obviously, it was my challenge, I better have liked it!) It gave me an excuse to do four things I really wanted to do. First, I sort of got to play with molecular mixology, you can be the judge on that one. Second, it gave me an excuse to go for a strongly bittered cocktail – a full half ounce. Third, it allowed me to use a new ingedient. Finally, I was able to return to what I really love to do in cooking, and wanted to do in cocktails.

I have a confession to make. I have drunk Balsamic vinegar – straight. I’m pretty sure that if Balsamic vinegar had alcohol in it, that would be enough to qualify me as an alcoholic, much as my friends who drank vanilla extract certainly do. For Khanukah (Chanuka, Hanuka, whatever), I was given The New Basics Cookbook, which, incidentally, despite being published in the Eighties sticks to classic cocktails, not overly sweet contraptions. Anyway, when discussing Balsamic vinegar, the authors note that what we think of as Balsamic vinegar is merely flavoured red wine vinegar, not the authentic stuff, which, in Modena, where the reall stuff comes from, they drink it straight as a digestivo. So I tried it, and you’ll get the results on Wednesday. In the meantime, here is my entry for Mixology Monday.

Almost looks like a glass of Guinness

Almost looks like a glass of Guinness

The Espresso Stout Cocktail

  • 1 oz. – Dark Rum (Cruzan Black Strap)
  • .5 oz. – Aromatic Bitters (Peychoud’s)
  • .5 oz. – Curacao or Triple Sec (Gran Gala)
  • .5 oz. – Balsamic Vinegar (I used a Condimento grade, a Tradizionale grade, or even a 25 year old or older would be even better.)
  • .25 oz. – Simple Syrup
  • To Top – Sweetened Egg White Foam

Stir together all ingredients but the egg whites. Pour into a medium height narrow glass (pouse cafe, beer tasting, vodka, etc.). Top with foam.

Adjust the simple syrup to taste. Balsamic vinegar is a tad on the tart side, so if you don’t like your cocktails bitter, up the sweetness factor. If you sip Angostura, then feel free to eliminate the syrup entirely.

In cooking, I really enjoy making things that appear to be something else: a ceviche that appears to be an oyster, sushi in the shape of a classic caviar presentation, and so on. What I was able to do here was make a cocktail that looked like a stout. When contemplating what spirit to pair with the vinegar, I realized that Balsamic vinegar is dark. I decided to go for it, and tossed in a dark rum to darken it up. By adding a foam on the top, I got what looked just like a stout. In seeking to ballance it, I deicded to go for the complexity of a heavily bittered drink, and figured that the Peychoud’s would pair nicely with the Balsamic. From there, the decision to use the Cruzan instead of either the Pusser’s or Gosling’s was pretty much made for me.

The final result is delicious. A little sweet, a little sour, a little rummy, a little molasses, and the egg white makes it all smooth as a baby’s bottom. The egg white foam wasn’t really setting up properly so I got  a bit of egg white on the bottom. I just tried to avoid drinking it and that was okay, but if you do it for yourself, and next time I do it, I’ll work harder to make sure that doesn’t happen. It might be even better with something like Benedictine instead of Gran Gala. Try one for yourself and you will see just how good it is.

In the interests of getting this up in a timely manner, I will upload a picture as soon as I find the cord for my camera.

Stay playful,
The Scribe

Mixology Monday is Here!

mxmologoHello, hello. Welcome one and all to my blog. Today is Mixology Monday and our theme for the day is Broaden Your Horizons. I encourage you to use a technique ingredient or something you haven’t used before. I already have about twenty entries, and can’t wait for you all to bring in more. If you haven’t posted your entry, you can leave a comment here with your entry. I’ll try and have the roundup posted by Wednesday, so if you don’t get it in tonight you have just a little more time. Feel free to take a look around while you are here.

Enjoy your new horizons,
The Scribe

Taking a Load Off

In general, my two favourite styles of beer are stouts/porters and Belgian sours. In general, beer comes in three (theoretically four) flavours: Lagers, which are top fermented with unroasted grains; Ales, which are bottom or middle fermented with unroasted grains; and Porters, which are bottom or middle fermented with roasted grains. Theoretically, we could have a top fermented beer with roasted grain, a sort of Continental porter, but I’ve never seen one. Any way, porters, so named because they were the preferred drink of, teamsters, drivers, and, well, porters, and tend to be quite dark. All of this is by way of introducing today review:

High Falls Brewing Co.: Dundee Porter

Tasting Conditions: I tried this ale after a day of getting my house back together after returning from my travels. It also happened to be a first short, easy day of school. I used a five ounce, straight sided tasting glass for the taste. The beer was at a cold room temperature and had been in the cellar about three months before tasting.

Eye: The beer was a dark, almost opaque, brown with a airy, almost soapy-looking head. The bottle was dark brown with a red, tasteful logo showing a porter with a stein of beer. This is slightly incongruous as Englishmen tend to drink from pint glasses, not German steins, but I’ll let it slide.

Nose: The nose is bready, as beer tends to be, but there is some subtlety here, and it smells more of ry or pumpernickel than wheat. There is also a bit of citrus and hops in the mix.

Mouth: Ah, the important part. This is interesting, and quite tasty. In many ways, it taste more like a sour ale than a porter. It has none of the expected bitterness. The first thing you notice is chocolate, backed up by a strong vanilla. On the finish there is a roundness provided by apple, orange, and perhaps cardamon.

Conclusion: This is an excelent beer. It came in a very inexpensive sampler case with five other Dundee offerings for under $10. If the rest of the Dundee brews are of similar quality, this is both cheap, and very good. See if you can find this brew near you.

It’s so good to be back,
The Scribe

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