Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Grand Marnier Quintessence

People! Forget about beer today! Yeah, I said it. Now pay attention. You all know how multi-faceted I am, right? I mean, it's not just beer, though that would be enough for a lifetime. I've also tasted and written about Scotch and Gin and Grand Marnier and a few others.

Now, speaking of Grand Marnier, my second love, I put all my cards on the table in pursuit of their most recent creation, Grand Marnier Quintessence. A little research will show you that this is no ordinary bottle of cognac. This is a blend of the finest private reserve cognacs the Marnier-Lapostolle family has available, some dating as far back as 1906. This cognac blend is then combined with a double-distilled orange essence before being married and matured in French oak barrels. The anticipation is killing me here!

There is a bottle of this available at my local Total Wine. However, it's locked in the exclusive cabinet with a $900 price tag. I asked the Store Manager to unlock it today to get an authentic photo of the bottle and the awesome box it's packaged in. Of course I could have taken the media kit photo (which I did anyway, below), but I want you to experience this joy with me. Basically what I'm telling you is that the love I have for this beverage shines so brightly that I was provided a sample to taste and share my thoughts with you. Oh, and my photo is the crappy one on the right, with the Heineken box reflection in it. Enjoy!

I warmed up for this occasion by having a glass of regular Grand Marnier last night. Today, I used one of those plastic medicine cups to see approximately how much to try, measuring only water of course. 20mL seemed about right to put into my Grand Marnier shot glass. I tried taking some fancy pictures in my dining room, with some nice decorations in the background, in the hopes you may think I'm a millionaire. What do you think?

You can smell the beautiful scent of this from across the room. Such a perfumey aroma, with delicate and beautiful orange layered over sweet flower petals. Fantastic! I'm enamored after just a few seconds to the point of not even wanting to drink it. Grand Marnier, for sure. But you know this is going to be a special spirit.

OMG! This is freakin' intense! Wonderful orange flavors dripping in oily citrus decadence. Floral, sweet. Soft yet powerful. What a bright flavor shaking my taste buds, bursting explosions in my mouth. The perfect burn and heat is vibrant and most excellent. Candied rind, almonds and sweet peach nuances work so wonderfully with the orange and alcohol. I'm seriously at a loss for words (wink, wink). 

Velvety smooth texture with the most spectacular coating of the mouth. Viscous but not thick. Get out your tape measure as this is practically perfect in every way. I'm in love! Simply Amazing!

"If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up." And then give me a call. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Peak Organic Pomegranate Wheat

Today I'm drinking Peak Organic Pomegranate Wheat brewed by Peak Organic Brewing Company in Portland, Maine. This beer is brewed with pomegranate juice, açai juice and coriander. Examining the simple lavender label more closely, there is a nice photo blended into the purple colors. Two people appear to be laying in the grass relaxing and staring into the sky after a long and tiring bicycle ride, with their bicycles next to them. I wish this detail was a little more noticeable and the beer name lettering a little less dominant. Anyway, that's just me. Best enjoyed before January, 2012. Whew! Just made it!

So yeah, tons of wheat in the aroma. Tart pomegranate is there though it is dominated by the wheat. Overall, a pleasant aroma. Big wheat flavors follow. However, the pomegranate does put a better foot forward here, standing out a little more than the smell indicated. Juicy, tart and sweet all in one. Berry flavors are noticeable as well. I'm not sure if that's açai as I've never had it and have never been on that famous spammers' diet either.

Coriander flavors are more noticeable after half a dozen sips, as they seemingly build up toward the end. Refreshing despite the wheat texture and thickness. Juiciness works really well with the wheat. Pretty good and definitely an enjoyable beer.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sea Dog Hazelnut Porter

Today I'm drinking Sea Dog Hazelnut Porter brewed by Pugsley Brewing in Portland, Maine. Just yesterday I was completely underwhelmed by their Apricot beer, so let's see how this goes. The label sports the same dog donning a captain's rain cap, this time in front of a bunch of beer barrels. Best Enjoyed Before November, 2012.

Chocolate and caramel aroma, with some nutty roast as well. Pretty rich and inviting. The flavors are more of a thin mish-mash, however. Chocolate and nutty flavors in the beginning are attacked by a persistent stale flavored coffee. Burnt malt is accompanied by very harsh astringency and bitterness. Just an ugly and unpleasant flavor combo so far.

The texture is OK, smooth, but that is by far this beer's best attribute. Dry finish, perhaps offering a whiff of the 5.6% alcohol. Not enjoyable and I didn't finish the bottle. I'd pass and wish I had my own advice available before buying and drinking it myself.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sea Dog Apricot

Today I'm drinking Sea Dog Apricot brewed by Pugsley Brewing in Portland, Maine. I think I've had the Blueberry one before and even have a pint glass with that logo on it somewhere, but I believe this will be a new one here. There is a dog on the front of the label wearing a captain's rain hat. Behind him, in the boat, is a huge mound of apricots. Best Enjoyed Before May, 2012.

The aroma is very sweet. Intense fruity candy--I'll go with tangerine gummies. A little too much to be believable. Grainy with apricot flavors very noticeable, not nearly as potent as in the aroma. A little tart while also a bit sugary. There is a vegetal and earthy dirtiness that I totally DO NOT dig, weird flavors. For some reason I keep thinking "musty closet" too. Thin and watery, carbonation OK. The 4.7% alcohol is not a factor. Dry finish.

Not horrible, but this is the beer that will make you think Magic Hat #9 is the most awesome beer on the planet. And I say that just one week after totally dissing it.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Insanely Bad Elf 2011

Nice Color!
Today I'm drinking Insanely Bad Elf, 2011 Vintage, an Imperial Red Ale brewed by Ridgeway Brewing in Oxfordshire, UK. This "Elf" series has dozens of beers in it that come out each year. Yes, I've had a few and yeah, they have been decent for the most part. But I've mostly been wary of them as average gimmicky beers. Most people buy these for their funny names. I mean, come on... Santa's Butt? (BTW, if you are a smoker and click that link, you may quit after seeing the poster picture). One negative this gimmick has against it is that when Christmas is over, the prices drop just because of the name. This one was recently $2 and the local rep convinced me it was worth a try.

On the front of the label is a crazy elf, straight jacket and all. He's reading an "Elf Regulations" book, holding it with his feet. The story on the side written by Brewer Peter Scholey lets you know that Santa had recently visited this particular elf to see how he was doing. Santa concluded that "perhaps sanity is over-rated!" This elf was having the time of his life in the asylum. This beer is made with barley and rye.

Caramel and spicy black pepper aroma, with plenty of booze and some light fruitiness. Rich sweet caramel and honey flavors coat the palate, very thick and luxurious. And the 11.2% alcohol wastes no time adding some booziness to the experience. It's actually the alcohol that keeps the initial sips from seeming sickly sweet. Very sugary, yet those flavors are matched very well with an apple and pear juiciness that is really quite nice.

A spicy barleywine feel comes next, and the rye is definitely a contributor to that. The alcohol provides some heat and kick but never crosses the "shiver line'. This beer also has a brandy-type quality to it. Carbonation is low but OK. A little sweet overall, and 330mL was certainly enough, but a really solid beer. Great depth of flavors, complex, and very enjoyable. I'm going to see if my local Total Wine has any more of them they want to get rid of, and I suggest you do the same!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fort Collins Double Chocolate Stout

Tonight I'm drinking Fort Collins Double Chocolate Stout brewed by Fort Collins Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado. This is "The most decadent creation ever to be crafted in FCB's brewhouse," according to the story on the side panel. Other than that, the label has a few mountains in the distance and some other squiggly lines in the rest of the space.

Chocolate aroma, plenty of roasted malt, and some smokey ash and wood on the nose--pretty inviting. Chocolate flavors are also the dominate flavor in the beginning, rich and milky, and sweeter than I was expecting. Very creamy texture. Some coffee flavors play a supporting role and add dimension and some bitter balance.

The 8.1% alcohol adds a little heat, not too much, while bringing out some vanilla and woody nuances. Roasted malt and some smoke, along with some hoppiness, come toward the end of each sip, and even moreso as you drink the second half of Big 22. I actually liked it a bit colder because of this. Not a WOW beer but it was pretty good.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

More Brown Than Black IPA

Today I'm drinking More Brown Than Black IPA, a collaboration beer brewed by Stone Brewing Company in Escondido, California. The story on the back tells about the history of generosity amongst the brewing community. For this edition to the Stone Collaborations 2011 portfolio, Stone, Ninkasi Brewing and The Alchemist teamed up to help out The Alchemist, which took a big hit from that bitch Hurricane Irene last year. Ninkasi Brewer and Founder Jamie Floyd wrote the story, signed on November, 2011.

Lots of floaties in this beer. Very interesting aroma. Bright and hoppy, sharp lemon, quite fragrant. LOVE the aroma. That was until I inhaled a little.

Very much of the same flavors. Grapefruit and lemon citrus are prominent. Hoppy for sure. After a few sips it's hard not to notice how the lemon feels a little candied, proving sweet relief even as its bitterness prevails. Orange peel and pine, a few other nice flavors. Toward the end, a bit of spiciness along with a little heat from the 7.4% alcohol shows up. A sharp palate wake-up for sure. Some malty balance keeps the bitterness in check, but the citrus is definitely the star. Good carbonation. Dry finish. I really enjoyed this one!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Florida Lager

So a couple of people were talking about Florida Lager with me in the past month or so. I told them I had it, when there was this special label to commemorate the Space Shuttle's final launch. "No, no, no. This is different," they insisted. Since I wasn't sure, I kept my mouth shut. Today's the day I went back and found that post from last March. Sure enough, Florida Lager. Go figure!

Anyway, since today is the start of South Florida Beer Week, apparently, I decided that Florida Lager was an appropriate option. I mean I guess I knew about it, sort of kind of, being the social butterfly that is me. This particular beer is brewed by none other than The Florida Beer Company. No kidding.

Let me first congratulate the brewery on a very nice label. Great colors really catch the eye. Fun and interesting, yet readable, font on top of a design of grain and hops. The State of Florida is in a bold green in the middle. The story on the side panel states that this is "a tropical inspired craft lager". OK then.

Sweet grainy aroma with a little grassy hops in the background. Sweet grain flavors also take over in the beginning, along with a nice toasty quality, too.  Good hoppy balance. Grassy, a little spicy, and just a touch of some fruitiness in the background. I'm gonna say peach (because I just played Mario Kart). Medium body, medium carbonation too, a little prickly. Refreshing and flavorful. Very nice easy drinker that I challenge you locals to take to the next BBQ you get invited to. I should have done that last Saturday and not wasted my body on Coronas, Miller Lites, Jack Daniels DownHome Punch, and (yeah, I'm saying it) Magic Hat #2 (9).