Founders Dirty Bastard

FoundersDirtyBastardTaking a momentary break from the whisky I have been downing, I turned to a close relative: scotch style ale. A malt monster with a nice warming 8.5% ABV.

Appearance: deep red amber, light carbonation, no head retention and no lacing (I suspect the glass…)
Nose: damp brown sugar oatmeal
Palate: sweet malt up front, caramel, toastiness and syrupy, hop balanced toward the back of your tongue, with alcohol notes through the back, medium light mouth feel
Finish: bitter finish with long lasting esters, complexity as it wears off.

I like this kilt warmer of a beer. It’s a great all around beer and I would love to have this with some spiced desert, maybe some apple pie, or a spice cake. It really is a super heavy malt beer, with a ton of sweetness. I wouldn’t mind a bit more hops to balance out the malt sweetness, but only maybe 5% more, nothing big. This is a really enjoyable beer and at 8.5% ABV is still dangerously drinkable.

Redemption Rye

RedemptionRyeBourbon education review #3: Redemption Rye.

  • Color: salted caramel popcorn
  • Nose: spicy, green apple skin, deep forest flowers
  • Palate: spice notes,  caramel, light vanilla, hint of oak char, medium mouth feel
  • Finish: sweet finish, grassy

Overall I really enjoy this whisky and for around $30 I think it’s a great deal. This is, obviously, a rye whiskey, but meets my criteria of being aged under 4 years, and completes my intro to young bourbon education. I’m really excited to get into some of the more mature bourbons and see how the flavors develop and mellow with more time spent in the barrel.

I’ve had bottle of Redemption Rye before, but only recently read up on where they source their distillate from. This comes from LDI in Indiana, the same company that sources the blends for High West. It would be great to do a side by side comparison of Redemption and the High West rye offering to see what aging does to the distillate.

Redemption is a great sipper as well as a good mixer. I have enjoyed it in a boulevardier as the spiciness  adds great depth to the cocktail. This is also a great base for Manhattans,  and let’s the rye really shine. I recommend this as a great start for young high rye bourbons.

Bottled In Bond Mellow Corn

MellowCornWell, hello there. Here goes review #2 in my bourbon education: Bottled In Bond Mellow Corn.

Color: light straw, young corn kernel
Nose: hot, light fruitiness, soft vanilla
Palate: oily mouthfeel, light on the front, really hot, bitter on the way down, no complexity, super light spice that is only noticeable as it claws it’s way over the bitter ending at the back of my tongue.
Finish: long numbing finish, bitterness hangs on until the, well the bitter end. Green wood in my soft palate later

I am disappointed in this offering. At least compared to my previous review of Jacob’s Ghost. I would have thought that the extra time, at least 4 years since there is no age statement on the bottle, would have mellowed this out even more than the Jacob’s Ghost. However, this may be attributeable to either the mash bill, being 81% corn, or the ABV at 50%, or both really. This is a fast sipper to me, I don’t want to spend lots of time rolling it around in my mouth, I don’t mind the brief impression it leaves me when drunk fast. Notably, however, this is a straight corn whiskey being above the 80% mark of corn in the mash bill. The spiel on Heaven Hill’s website mentions that it is a precursor to what we know of bourbon today. With that in mind, I’m glad that I have given it a try as part of my bourbon education.

I am not going to be able to get through this bottle with any type of speed, unless I invite some less discerning friends over. There is always the market for a higher proof liquor, ’cause as Dave Chappelle said, “…it’ll get ya drunk!”

After doing some reading the Bottled In Bond certification turns out to be a pretty great distinction. It signifies that the whiskey you are drinking was distilled and bottled at one location. If the spirit is bottled somewhere other than at the distillery, the label has to state that. In the case of Mellow Corn, underneath the designation of Straight Corn Whiskey it says: “Distilled by Heaven Hill Distilleries, INC. D.S.P.-KY-354 Louisville, Kentucky, Bottled by Medley Company Bardstown, KY D.S.P. KY 31”. This becomes an interesting designation in the current American whiskey scene as many bottlings are actually from sourced spirits. For example the Redemption Rye reviewed on this blog earlier is actually distilled by LDI, a company that produces spirits and then aged and bottled somewhere else. That isn’t to say that it diminishes quality (LDI also produces the spirit for High West, one of my favorites), but it does increase transparency. Whether that is a good thing or not, I leave it to you to decide.

Jim Beam Jacob’s Ghost, not so scary!

So here is my first step on my way to bourbon education. JimBeamJacobsGhostJim Beam Jacob’s Ghost.

Color: very light in color, but with a hue of yellow
Nose: strong nose, greenness, banana
Palate: bread, round, smooth, green-ness
Finish: mineral finish with legs on the sides of my tongue

I was scared of this at first. I thought to myself, well here you have a bottle of raw
bourbon that will be straight alcohol, no positive flavors, and as raw as it gets.
I was way off. It’s a surprising smooth and drinkable bourbon for how young it is.
The lable says that it is aged for at least one year in oak barrels, and that one
year must make a huge difference in the mellowing. I was really surprised at the
banana I was getting, it was a pleasant surprise for sure. This was the first in a
series of education for me where I start with a step above white dog and move to the
agiest bottle I can afford/find. I won’t score this as I don’t have the repetoir yet,
but if you have considered picking up a bottle, I recommend it! ($20 in store at Binny’s).

Back on my Ironhorse

20140106_133348I saw this on a shelf and had to get some as my last review of North American beers were all from Chicago, and Argus just missed the cut in my six-pack review due to availability issues.

Argus is a Chicago based brewery and has been around since 2009. They bring a very interesting Common Style in their Ironhorse offering. Dubbed a Chicago Common I couldn’t resist.

A – coppery-amber, medium head, very clear

S – spicy smell, with caramel, no hops present that I can smell

T – heavy malt presence upfront, finishes medium long and with a nice bitterness

M- some oil presence from the hops, not unpleasant, bitterness hangs on until the very end

I really enjoyed this beer and it went supremely well with my enormous ham sandwich. The spicy of the yeast with the sweetness of the strong malt character paired perfectly with the cloves, brown sugar, and Southern Comfort that basted the Canadian bacon. This has been an extremely drinkable beer and I’m going to keep my eyes out for the other Argus brews.


Back in the saddle, er… bottle, I guess

So after the 6 month stint in Chile experiencing the offerings there, I can safely say that I am glad to be back State-side.  Don’t take that to say that Chilean beer is bad, it’s just rather uninspired. Chile has a large German population and influence in the South based on a deal between Chile and Germany in 1844. This deal led to Germans emigrating and bringing with them, what else, but beer and beer knowledge. This has had the lasting effect of creating a great beer culture coming from Valdivia.

That being said, we all know about German beers and the Purity Law. For me personally, I love to drink German beers, but they are style bound and predictable. When I want a punch in the mouth of flavor I look elsewhere. This predictability continues on in Chilean beers. So finding myself back in Chicago after 6 months, I am relishing the variety and flavors I can find.

Up next will be my first sips of Ironhorse Chicago Common by Argus. For anyone that has read this blog previously, I did a six-pack post along with This Is Why I’m Drunk. Argus just missed the cut due to availability issues as I was gearing up to head to Chile, so as my welcome back I’m picking up where I left off.

It’s good to be back Chicago!

Beer Culture Shock

Two weeks in and I’ve found some beers, not great beers, mind you, but beers. In a country known for it’s wine, I didn’t expect much, and wasn’t proven wrong. So far the beer hasn’t been terrible, just a bit uninspired. That of course doesn’t do justice to the craft beer scene here. As paltry as it seems to be, there is one, and it looks like it can only get bigger at this point.

I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of offerings of craft- and micro-brews, but even more surprised with the cheap beer. For several years now I have been so focused on craft beer that I have forgotten what beer really is (and has been for millennia): a way to get some extra calories and hydration.

If you boil beer down to that, as great as craft beer is, it can be a bit of an abomination. I had forgotten the pleasure of cheap lagers, drunk the world over for their refreshing qualities in both crisp-ness and ease of flavor. Enter Escudo. Escudo is a pale lager brewed here in Chile by Compañia Cervecerias Unidas, the parent company of which is Heineken.

Its a crisp clean lager, no frills, no pomp, and good drinking. It comes in cans and liter bottles, the latter of which is my favorite. The liter bottles are recyclable with plastic screw caps. This actually works great as it lets you re-cap the beer for the next night. My other favorite part about these liters is that they cost anywhere from CLP 1,500 to 1,700 in most botellerias (corner liquor stores), which is between USD 3 and 4. Not a bad deal at all. The cans can be bought individually as well, for CLP 750, or about USD 1.50.

Escudo also comes in a negra flavor (black beer) which adds an additional punch of malt and varies up the flavor a bit. With the original and the negra, I feel that my day to day beer choices are fulfilled, and that allows me to focus on the more expensive (by a considerable margin) craft- and micro-brew options that Chile has to offer.

What was the last beer revelation you had? What about a beer that surprised you?

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