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Pale Ale Taste-Off: 6 Great Brews on Tap

Follow-up: Tried Calling IPA out of the bottle again in blind tasting vs. Odell Myrcennary, a perennial favorite brew.

I paired these two because they both have a fuller flavor spectrum than, say, a typical bitter-dry Stone pale ale.

As with prior bottle tastings, while I like Calling from the bottle, it's more singularly dry than the version tasted on tap.

Have to explore why that is so... could it just be the decanting the beer gets when pouring from a tap?

about 14 hours ago
TombstoneShadow in Beer

Pale Ale Taste-Off: 6 Great Brews on Tap

Last Saturday had a chance to slip over to a favorite micro-bar and try a nice range of 6 pale ales on tap. Set up a couple sampler flights, not tasted blind.

The candidates: Stone Ruination Regular 2.0, Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter, Stone Ruination Double-Dry Hopped, Stone Ruin-Ten, Deschutes Fresh Squeezed, and Boulevard Calling.

Results of tasting: Flight One Semi-Finals

Ruination Double-Dry: nice. bittersweet. Smooth semi-rich texture. Not overwhelmingly bitter.
Sierra Hop Hunter: Slight skunkiess... more lingering dryness. Nothing notable, just a mouthful of dryness
Ruination 2.0: Okay, but definitely prefer the double-dry hopped version above... it's richer with wider flavor range.
Ruin-Ten: Flavor is okay, just lacks brightness and flavor not distinguished.

Clear winner of flight one: Stone Ruination Double-Dry Hopped... bartender says this is the "only keg in the State". Very glad I happened to drop in when it was tapped.

Results of tasting: Flight Two Semi-Finals

Deschutes Fresh Squeezed: Bright, sort of a non-complex singular taste
Boulevard Calling IPA: Delicious. A bit foamy. Complex, sweet, fruity, mild bitters.

Clear winner of flight two: Calling IPA.... Beats DFS mainly on basis of complexity.

Results of tasting: Flight Three, Finals: Ruination Double-Dry vs. Boulevard Calling

After a few sips there's no contest... Calling IPA is the winner here... it's a matter of Calling's complexity vs. RD-D's more pronounced bitterness. Calling is just a more imaginative brew. Superb on tap.

I'm a bit surprised by this, when I first tasted Calling in the bottle it was great, but some blind tastings had it falling behind other stalwarts... However on tap it blew everything away at this tasting.

Jul 30, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Beer

Wine Pairing for a Low Country Boil

For wine: riesling or gewurztraminer... for beer, your favorite wheat beer: konig ludwig is a favorite of mine for this type of cuisine.

Jul 06, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Beer ‘better for food pairing’ than wine

Interesting... Fuller's Porter with "rich" meat dishes... in my mind's palate I'm liking that, but proof is in the tasting...

But otherwise, the proposition that beer pairs better than wine with food is pretty far off.

Jul 06, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Under-appreciated and/or up-and-coming grape varieties?

Not sure how "up and coming" it is, but for a great rich underappreciated red you can find at good prices, Malbec.

Jun 15, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Brewdog plans five US bars and brewery

Wish them well, they have some tremendous competition in every direction... they will have to really deliver flavor to compete IMO.

Jun 15, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Beer

Why Americans have such bad taste in beer

The tagline on the article says it all "drinking bland beer for 100 years"... that's looking in the rear-view mirror. I'd say that the U.S. has more than made up for those years of poor beer, and now the U.S. offers more great beers than any other country... can't think of a close 2nd. What other ingle country produces great wheats, PA's, stouts, barleywines, belgians, all in the same country?

And judging by my friends who up until a few years ago were dedicated drinkers of the most worthless swill, at least 1/2 of them have picked up on great micro brews and wouldn't go back.

Jun 15, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Beer

What wine to pair with BBQ Salmon?

Wasn't sure what I'd see when I opened your link... will it be a "smoky" type BBQ, or a BBQ-sauced dish?

It's really neither, what I see emphasized there are notes of chili's and cilantro... with quite alot of pineapple....

For that recipe, 100% I'd go riesling or gewurztraminer. Will be lovely, please report back.

Jun 15, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Wine Pairings

Hi Wineup:

Don't know why I didn't recommend this to you earlier... it's so obvious...

For Dish 3, your salad, assume you serve chardonnay for your Dish 2, then keep it on the table and substitute Brie or Camembert for the Feta. If you serve riesling for Dish 2, then substitute Emmental for the Feta. That way your white for Dish 2 can carry over nicely for the Dish 3 course.

Jun 11, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Wine Pairings

1: First choice cabernet, second probably zinfandel

2: Chicken dish: chardonnay, kabinett riesling

3) Salad: don't see a great match there. Feta favors red wines, the veggies all favor whites... the wines for your chicken dish will work reasonably well.

4: Dessert: Late harvest riesling or sauternes

Overall these are quite nice pairings and I think it will be a delicious meal. Please report back.

Jun 10, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Wine

The Connoisseur’s Way to Pair Food With Beer

"Herbaceous IPA and Thai Food"... wonder if they've actually tried that. I find it very over-bearing.

Much better for Thai (or any spicy asian): your favorite wheat beer.

Jun 02, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Beer

asparagus and artichokes

Simply prepared, sauvignon blanc is lovely with both.

With a butter sauce, chardonnay is a great match.

Kabinett riesling also works.

Jun 02, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Food pairing for this red blend wine?

Not crazy about this wine for any seafood dish.

In the veggie world, would serve it with a rich bean dish, such as cassoulet.

Please report back.

Jun 02, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Parker: not awarding 100 points “irresponsible”

I think just keep awarding 100's to those occasional wines you feel are benchmarks. At least that's how I'd interpret Parker's POV.

May 17, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Parker: not awarding 100 points “irresponsible”

He's a bit histrionic at saying a taster is "irresponsible" if they don't occasionally give out a 100...

... but I like his general point: "if the wine is the best example of the varietal that you've ever tasted, you should give it a 100"...

... so it becomes a benchmark of sorts. I generally concur with that, however a 98 or 99 is a ^%$#@ good score too.

May 10, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Wine pairing herby pork?

For "pork" in general, I lean towards rioja, pinot noir, and riesling. With this specific dish, hands down I'd go riesling. It matches your pork, dijon, coriander, mint. Shaving a bit of emmental cheese into your salad will bring it that much closer to the wine.

Wine pairing -- beef cheeks goulash

This dish is so significantly flavored, that matching the spice mix is every bit as important as matching the "red meat". In whites I would look at cousins: scheurebe, riesling, and gewurztraminer.

Apr 13, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Wine for Salmon With Anchovy-Garlic Butter??

A number of wines will work nicely here. Given the salmon, butter, and garlic, I'm particularly loving still chardonnay or predominantly chardonnay champagne with this.

Apr 13, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Wine Numerical Ratings vs Price

Zack: you indirectly (or perhaps intentionally) make an important point regarding the search for good or great value wine: look for 1) great vintages; 2) non-celebrity vineyards located nearby to the perennial high-scorers, where the tasting notes on that wine are consistently positive. Can't over-emphasize enough the importance of the vintage year.

Apr 06, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Girls Weekend Wine Etiquette

I think you can largely avoid these problems by the way you set things up. First, I assume that each attendee is more or less interested in trying every wine. SO, simple... get a sufficient number of glasses for each person and pour the wine in the proper amount that will give everyone a reasonable taste... if there's a bit left over, keep such bottles on a nearby counter for "first come, first served". This will absolutely avoid one glutton drinking 1/3 of a bottle and leaving dregs for eveyrone else.

But a more important point about "cheap wine"... I think you make a mistake by assuming that all wine that doesn't cost $50 is cheap. There is plenty of GREAT wine under $30 and some very good wine under $20. But to your point, there's also alot of jug swill out there, and if one or more of your attendees brings the latest bottle of Yellowtail, well they really have a different agenda than you do bringing a much better wine. In that case, you need to have a talk with the attendees and find out who's serious and who isn't.

Overall thanks for sharing and sounds like you have a really nice meeting there despite these problems.

Apr 04, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Wine

2 wine pairing questions

1: Not 100% clear about what's asked in this question, but question 2 is more important...

2: Interesting question... I'd say I probably take a bite of food first, start to chew it then add an appropriate "splash" of wine on top... and just let the flavors meld together. The other way around seems a bit awkward but if you can hold the wine in your mouth while adding the food, then presumably the taste of the pairing will be roughly the same. A big reason for adding the wine second is that the amount of wine you sip will vary depending on how much food you're chewing: think a nice chunk of steak vs. a much smaller sliver of a fruit tart. To get the pairing flavor to balance you'll probably take different size sips of the wine....

Mar 25, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Italian Table Wine

For everyday, food friendly italian red: valpolicella. Pay a bit more and get Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore.

Mar 18, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Wine

I need Sauterne wine for fondue, but can't find it anywhere.

Easy... but first, one big question is what is the CHEESE in the fondue? If it's gruyere, then go with a gewurztraminer, or better yet a late-harvest gewurztraminer....

... will match your fondue even better than Sauternes!

Alternatively you could go with a very ripe riesling (auslese or beerenauslese or late-harvest)... but it won't match gruyere as well as the gewurztraminer.

Mar 12, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Wine

California-Style Pale Ales: Are they All Bone Dry??

Ditto on good homebrews!

Mar 10, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Beer

Midwest Stout Blind-Tasting Championship and random stout notes

Alas the 2015 Stout Grand Championships have concluded, and we have two incredible winners!

The candidates: four great stouts that consistently beat out the competition in prior blind tastings. Alphabetically they are:

GREAT DIVIDE OAK AGED YETI (the "regular" Yeti, not chocolate or espresso)

Some people may question this group of beers: the ABV's are not identical, one is a porter, the other 3 stouts, they are more expensive than other brews, etc. My goal is not to find beers that are categorically identical. The criteria for this tasting is: price at or under $4-5 per bottle; produced year-round, or on a schedule sufficient to allow stocking up. I'm not looking for one-of-a-kind, or limited production brews like Black Butte, Bourbon County, or Stone Imperial. Also not looking for sky-high alcohol like Dogfish Worldwide or Avery Mephistopheles.

All beers were tasted blind; I knew the 4 beers, but not which was in which glass. Actual tasting notes follow:

BEER 1: Delicious choco-cherry with a hint of tar. Evolves to a carmelly lingering aftertaste. Very nice.

BEER 2: In contast to 1, this is drier with a much narrower flavor spectrum.

BEER 3: Quite choclately, very nicce.... evolves with a hint of coffee.

BEER 4: Very rich semi-dry stout... a more singular flavor but very bold and well-made.

BEER 2: Another sip of Beer 2 and it's out in 4th place. It just doesn't quite hold up to this competition.


BEER 1: Very rich textured brew with hint of cherry-choc evolving to caramel. Delicious.

BEER 3: Wow. More singular than 1... a toffee-flavored beauty. Re-sipping 1 is wonderful, Re-sipping 3 also great...

BEER 4: Is really nice for a dry stout... But day-in, day-out to my palate I prefer the wider spectrum of flavors in Beers 1 and 3. So 4 is out in 3rd place with very honorable mention. Will definitely keep it stocked.

FINAL ROUND: Beer 1 vs. Beer 3

BEER 3: Luscious, rich texture. Very complex.

BEER 1: Wow... just has this super-bright flavor that pops as compared to Beer 3's darker more seductive flavor...

This is very, very close. If I have to pick only one beer, it's probably Beer 1, but this is closer to a tie.

Revealing the winners:

BEER 1: EvilTwin I Love You With My Stout
BEER 2: North Coast Old Rasputin
BEER 3: EvilTwin Lil' B Imperial Porter
BEER 4: Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti.

Mar 08, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Beer

Favorite way to do "flights"

Scout that definitely adds information...

First, those are mostly all "richer reds", with the exception of the Pinor Noir.

One tasting I think your guests would find very interesting would be to highlight the subtle differences AND similarities between 3 or 4 of them... say the Cab, Merlot, Malbec and Zinfandel for example... 5 is a bit much to slog through on the palate unless you have a more dedicated group of tasters IMO.

Pair the wines with matching foods and cheeses so your guests can mix and match and find what most suits their palates. It's nice to have a "menu" of sorts on a single piece of paper that describes the wines, so they can write tasting notes if desired.

And instead of 5 bottles of heavier reds, serve 3 or 4, then finish the event with a nice dessert wine and matching dessert item.

Mar 05, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Favorite way to do "flights"

You can do either one varietal from several winemakers, or different varietals from one or more winemakers... both are equally worthy experiences.

1: Pairings, pairings, pairings. Whatever wine you are currently serving, make sure it matches the foods you're pairing it with, if any.

2: Generally, go from lighter whites to heavier reds

3: Serve a dessert wine of sorts at the end... a port, a late-harvest, a sweet sparkler, etc... along with matching dessert item of course.

4: to "expand" the experience, add a cheese course... you're already serving the wines w/ matching food items, so just introduce a cheese or two that matches that wine, often towards the end of the event... It "doubles up" the amount of pairings your guests get to try, without nearly doubling up the cost of the wine which is already on the table.

Mar 04, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Midwest Stout Blind-Tasting Championship and random stout notes

Correction: That should have been Beer 1: Grande Noirceur; and Beer 2: NHDMBBS.

Mar 02, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Beer

California-Style Pale Ales: Are they All Bone Dry??

Thanks MV....

BTW this thread isn't to knock these particular Cali IPA's. The style is awesome when done right, but can come off dry as quinine too...

...just palate wise I also really like the mixed bitter-sweet style and surprisingly haven't found that in a Cali pale ale product yet.

Mar 02, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Beer

Midwest Stout Blind-Tasting Championship and random stout notes

The last semi-final round features New Holland Dragon's Milk Bourbon Barrel Stout vs. Dieu du Ciel Grande Noirceur. Tasted blind, actual tasting notes follow:

BEER 1: Smooth. A rich espresso prevails. Not particularly notable, but no foul flavors either.

As it warms up, the espresso increases... well-made, just not that compelling.

BEER 2: Creamy. Delicate flavors for a stout. Additional sips yield a nice, inoffensive but perhaps undistinguished brew.

After a time, neither of these beers is sufficiently a standout to move to the finals of this competition. Revealing the beers:

2: Grande Noirceur

SO, the stage is set for the Finals in two weeks, to feature the following four brews:

Great Divide Yeti Oak Aged
North Coast Old Rasputin
EvilTwin I Love You With My Stout
EvilTwin Lil' B

GDYOA and NCOR are carry-over winners from last year's taste-off, so whichever beer(s) survive this final competition will truly deserve the recognition.

Mar 02, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Beer