Category Archives: Alcohol Reviews

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).


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?


The Six-Pack Project

6pack-logo1

Recently I had the luck to be invited to represent Chicago in a nation-wide round up of beer bloggers’ review of their favorite beer from their home state. Bryan Roth from This Is Why I’m Drunk is our host and had only a few rules:

Here are the rules:

  1. Pick a six-pack of beers that best represents your state and/or state’s beer culture.
  2. Beer must be made in your state, but “gypsy” brewers are acceptable, so long as that beer is brewed with an in-state brewery and sold in your state.
  3. Any size bottle or can is acceptable to include.
  4. Current seasonal offerings are fine, but try to keep selections to year-round brews as much as possible. No out-of-season brews preferred.

Chicago really has taken a place as a craft brew haven. With a multitude of breweries opening up, or establishing themselves, (six of which are listed below), and even more on the horizon, Chicago is becoming a great beer vacation! For this round of The Six-Pack Project I am representing, you guessed it, Chicago. The breweries listed below are operated inside the city limits, and offer bottles or cans for sale (some offer growlers/howlers!). There are many others that either only offer their wares on draft, or in growlers. While their beer may be fantastic, sadly, they didn’t make the cut here.

Chicago has long been the city of big shoulders, and with big shoulders that means you make your own way in life (especially through doors that are too small), so the beers below are a mix of my absolute go-to’s as well as those that represent the do-it-yourself nature of Chicago.

Half Acre – Over Ale

Continuing in the vein of self starters with a goal, something surely not unique to Chicago, Half Acre distributing it’s first brew with an army of one, comes Over Ale. The “style-less wonder” (officially an American style bitter) presents with a deep amber color, and roasty looking head.

These guys are my favorite brewery in Chicago by far. Their zeal for trying new beers since 2006 and knocking them out of the park brings these guys to the front of any beer conversation I have.

Over Ale has a nice hefty malt backbone balanced well with bitter and hop nose. Balancing the hops on the nose is a syrup nose. It has a nice alcohol hint, great bitter flavor with a light mouth feel and clean finish with just a kick of acidic bitter at the back of your tongue. This is a great session or pairing beer. I like mine with Thai food, or anything else exotic and spicy in need of a palate cutter.

Spiteful brewing – Ghost Bike Pale Ale

Born of two friends united after a “spiteful incident” on the ice when they were kids Brad Shaffer and Jason Klein have started a nano-brewery in the Ravenswood neighborhood on the North Side. They epitomize the D.I.Y. attitude, in a Chicagoist interview they said, “We want to put our time in. We want to learn. I don’t want to hire a head brewer and not understand the process, because it’s our company. We want to bring great beer to a great city one bar at a time.” Their care and devotion shine through in Ghost Bike.

Ghost Bike starts off with a sweet nose comprised of honey and malt, flowery front on the sip. It lingers with a sticky mouth feel and a rounded fresh grapefruit middle. It treats you nice with a great head that stays almost creamy. As with pales it rides a loooooooooong finish and a great aftertaste.

Revolution – Anti-Hero IPA

A real mainstay in Chicago if only having been around since 2010, their clenched left fist tap handles are always ones to look for when you walk into a bar. I love the clenched left fist as a clenched left fist means armed revolution (as your right is typically holding a rifle!) this to me indicates their desire to overturn convention while still producing mass quantities.

A great craft serving in a six-pack of cans. This presents with a great nose, perfectly hop balanced with that tell tale of a nice strong malt backbone. The bitter hits you right away, and rides the sides of your tongue. The bitter hangs on through the end finishes long and silky. The body is still light and this is just one hell of a refreshing beer.

The only thing that I don’t like about this six pack is the can holder. Its a recyclable carrier, and the plastic is hard to get off the cans… I know, I know… first world problems, right?

Metropolitan – Dynamo Copper Lager

As with all the breweries here Metropolitan does it differently and their own way. The only brewery in Chicago that produces only Lagers means that you can count on anything Metropolitan to refresh in the summer or after helping a friend move. All their beers take their names after components of industry, which just ads to the Chicago-ness, and industrial history of our fair town.

Dynamo Copper Lager introduces with a malt heavy nose and not a whole lot of hop. It carries a nice easy bitter finish on a light body. Of course being a lager, it is highly drinkable. I suggest a glass every time for this one as it has a metallic tang which seems to be more noticeable than others. With a great summer looming this is a wonderful companion to sun-drenched patios.

Pipeworks – Majestic

Pipeworks, a gypsy brewery making their “home” in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago, is making a run for my top brewery in Chicago. Their beers are big in flavor and peculiar in approach, I couldn’t be more impressed with their offering of Majestic. Majestic is billed as an English Style Summer Ale, an interesting combination for sure.

It starts off with a nice grassy nose along with a golden hue and a hint of amber, and the flavor completely surprises in the best way, mellow and complex. There’s a notes of citrus fruit but with a great clean finish. Majestic plays around on your tongue as if it can’t decide which side to show you first. It’s very drinkable, which might get you in trouble as it clocks in at 7%. It finishes long and bitter, as you would expect from an English bitter.

Paired with some salmon or smokey pulled pork sandwiches (with Carolina style vinegar sauce, not molasses based!) you’d have a recipe for a great evening.

Chi-Town – Windy City Wheat

Chi-Town, what’s more Chicago than a beer named after the transportation and cultural hub of the Mid-West. Effervescent, with a light head. Bright straw yellow and just a touch cloudy. Medium body and mouth feel. You get great white bread toastyness as the carbonation tickles the tongue. The middle and finish is where the complexity comes in. Not overly complex, but a great representation of a Belgian white ale. There is a touch of that Belgian yeast flavor with some light (almost not noticeable) banana. This is a very well balanced and yet another highly drinkable beer. Perfect for warm weather BBQs!

 

Check out what my fellow beer bloggers had to say:


Leopold Bros: Pre-Prohibition Never Tasted So Good!

Leopold Bros Pre-Prohibition Style American Whiskey

Leopold Bros Pre-Prohibition Style American Whiskey

Not long ago, I found myself confronted with a bit of an existential issue… do I like all whiskey’s, or just Scotch whiskey? Ok, so maybe not your run of the mill existential issue, but nonetheless, I felt it challenged what I thought of myself as a drinker. Here I was after about 10 years of thinking I only liked Scotch, but here in my hand, rising to my nose were the notes of caramel, vanilla and oak. A soft inviting scent, I salivated with the thought sipping. Yet, what ho!? This was a glass of American Pre-prohibition Style whiskey! Could it be, could I actually be enjoying a glass of American Whiskey? Turns out, yes, yes I could!

Leopold Bros stands up to my palate while at the same time requiring more attention. By no means do I have a developed palate, but I’m working on it. This spirit continues to surprise me, the depth and complexity are wonderous. Each glass I have I grab something new from the experience.

As noted above, there are soft notes in the nose, oak, caramel, vanilla, and they persist to the palate as well. Quickly following is the spice of the alcohol. It is very alcohol forward, but if one sniffs at it, you get past the alcohol, and start peeling back the layers. This is a continuing love affair and as I taste more this will most certainly be updated with more thoughts and revelations.

For now however, suffice to say that I am going to continue on my quest of figuring out if I do in fact appreciate American whiskey as well as Scotch.


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