Monday, April 30, 2012


Today I'm drinking Pistil brewed by Magic Hat Brewing Company in South Burlington, Vermont. This beer is brewed with dandelions, so let me get that fact out of the way up front. The brewery provided me this sample a few days ago, so thanks to them for that. The label art is very colorful, almost the entire rainbow. A hand formed to look like a pistil is pointed upward and apparently has just fired dandelions from the barrel. Hmmm. I guess not unexpected from this brewery, as they are even more Off-Centered than that other brewery.

Lemony with a fresh, grassy aroma, and you can definitely smell the dandelions. How am I so sure? I grew up in rural Pennsylvania and have mowed more grass and been assigned more weed-picking duties than most people can even imagine. The never-ending property belonging to my summer job employers was quite the training facility!

Flavors start out lemony as well. And mere hoppy bitterness was not enough for this beer apparently. Pistil went full-on sour. Plenty of citrus, very grassy, lemon-face. Fresh and crisp. There is also this persistent funny flowery flavor, which I'm guessing is the dandelion effect. As expected, though, you will get used to the sourness after a few sips. The 4.5% alcohol wasn't a factor at all. Yes, it was a little weird, but a refreshing summer beer nonetheless.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Shock Top Wheat I.P.A.

Today I'm drinking Shock Top Wheat I.P.A. brewed by Shock Top Brewing Company in St. Louis, Missouri. This version depicts Mohawk Dude with an orange slice head and a green mohawk with orange tips. It also uses the acronym WIPA for Wheat IPA.

Smells nice with sweet orange citrus and a little spice. Very much a wheat-forward beer, very big flavors. There is, however, plenty of orange support and a good dose of the advertised coriander. A little bready, too.

I don't find this beer to be very IPA-like in any way. I guess there is a faint hoppiness and it is balanced, but it's basically a nice normal wheat ale. Pleasant flavors, easy drinker. I wouldn't say it's awesome but if you take it to a party, it'll probably be one of the top beers there (unless it's a beer party, of course).

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Rogue XS Russian Imperial Stout

Today I'm drinking Rogue XS Russian Imperial Stout brewed by Rogue Ales in Newport, Oregon. This 7 ouncer was on the clearance rack last week when I grabbed it. Bottled in 2009 and best when aged for one year. Total Wine's sticker says this one was there since at least 7/21/2011. Hmmm. That date is already for sure past the ideal one year, assuming my math skills are still sharp. Not really sure what the guy on the front in the purple blouse is holding up. You?

Almost no head. Cocoa powder and strong vanilla aroma, with just a touch of molasses. Very inviting scent. Rich chocolate and a pleasing amount of the 11% alcohol right from the start. Not sweet. Rather, some roasted and almost burnt sugar and malt bring through a good dose of bitterness.

Coffee and licorice and hops, all present. Good body and very low carbonation. A bit boozy and phenolic on the breath but manageable. Enjoyable all around. Pony bottle was the right size.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Elder Betty Elderberry Weiss

Today I'm drinking Elder Betty Elderberry Weiss brewed by Magic Hat Brewing Company in South Burlington, Vermont. This is their new Summer Seasonal. I'm trying to figure our exactly what the label art is supposed to represent. Looks like a crazy kind of tree with some purple fantasy monster trying to hide behind it.

Berry and wheat aroma, but not that strong. Flavors are similar with those berries adding both sweet and tartness on your palate. The wheat is noticeable texturally as well. Fruity beyond the berries, too. If you use your imagination, you will taste some nuances of grape bubble gum. But all of the flavors are very soft and work well together. There is a bit of an acidic quality toward the end as well. Good carbonation and refreshing. Nice aftertaste. Check it out.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Slam Dunkel

Today I'm drinking Slam Dunkel, a double dunkelweizen ale brewed by Weyerbacher Brewing Company in Easton, Pennsylvania. The label shows a hammer and fist. Very basic.

Dark red-brown color was unexpected. There were plenty of floaties too. The aroma had a nice spiciness to it along with some muddled fruit and a yeasty quality.

Big banana and hella bubblegum flavors take over the beginning. Sweet and with some spicy clove action. Great body, chewy with a low level of carbonation. The 7% alcohol does stick out as it highlights the fruitiness and helps keep a relatively sweet beer in check.

As the beer warms, yeasty and tangy flavors start to take over the finish. Nice flavors all around. Check it out!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Rogue XS Imperial Red Ale

Today I'm drinking Rogue XS Imperial Red Ale brewed by Rogue Ales in Newport, Oregon. This one used to come in the ceramic wine bottles, and perhaps it still does. However, Rogue started bottling this and other beers in the series in 7 ounce ponies, the kind you can sneak into class, assuming you have 500 students and a balcony. That memory (of someone else) seems to fit as the label depicts a guy trying to pass himself off as an angel, even as he holds the halo in place and a mug of beer in the other. The ingredient list is also published on the side panel.

If memory serves me right, these ponies were originally marked at $4.99 each, which made me pass all day and all night. Just a few days ago, I saw them on the bargain rack for $2.99 each in what was an apparent close-out. And there were no other bottles still on the shelf, so I'm guessing the price per ounce wasn't a big hit. After all, even $2.99 for a half-bottle is no deal for a normally well-priced brewery (think $31 six packs). But being the scientist I am, I grabbed this and one other. The Total Wine sticker on the back further backed up my hypothesis as it was dated 7/21/11.

Since it was a small volume, I used my Hennessy Snifter. Almost no head. Rich caramel aroma, a little figgy and spicy with a touch of oak. Caramel base has good body and texture. Then some citrusy lemon rind really bites into that initial sweetness. Astringent and not welcome.

The alcohol is noticeable. Not hot, just alcoholic. Pine and citrus followed by more caramel. Carbonation is almost non-existent. Very smooth. Was OK but not like two other Imperial Red Ales I've had recently, Lagunitas Imperial Red and Tocobaga Red Ale. Not only was this beer not like them, but those two beers knocked XS out in the first round! Perhaps being dated was a factor but today this one was not that great. I didn't see any dates from Rogue either, so it's only the generosity of Total Wine that gives that possible excuse.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Miami Rum Renaissance Grand Tasting

A few days ago, I checked out the Miami Rum Renaissance Grand Tasting at the Deauville Beach Resort in Miami Beach. There were hundreds of different rums to taste from dozens of rum makers from better than 15 countries. I wrote a recap and posted a photo album on as well. What I intend to do here, though, is to have a few laughs, tell a few stories, and review some of the best rums I tasted.

My date for the afternoon was Ed Roberts, who had an extra ticket and knew I'd be a good Goose to his Maverick! Go Follow Him Now! We arrived fashionably on time, which means 15 minutes early. You guys should try that sometime. So this is going to be long. I hope you enjoy the stories and hottie photos to break up the monotony!

After a quick look around, we started checking out the rum booths one by one. Our first rum was Zaya from Trinidad. Funny as I believe it was last alphabetically. Rich and sweet, with a really nice dose of vanilla. Enjoyable and memorable, even after a long day. The guy there made us a mojito, too, and it was really good. Looks like a dangerous day!

It was suggested to me online that based on the entire list of rums available, I needed to check out the Brugal 1888. Luckily, Brugal was right across from Zaya. After getting a photo with two of their rain-prepared, bikini-wearing models, I grabbed a shot of the 1888. It was fairly hot with some nice spiciness and wood. Interesting but not a favorite of the day. I did, however, enjoy the Brugal Lounge and the attention paid by the lovely ladies.

Shortly after that, we approached One Barrel from Belize. I think the guy had some cocktails prepared, but that was when I made the executive decicion to just try "the product" as the industry people were calling the straight rum. This rum was awesome! It had an amazing aroma of molasses and butterscotch. The flavors really followed and this was definitely the most unique rum of the entire day. Rich, great flavors, sweet and warm. Lovely to sip.

Next, a hot chick from St. Lucia flirted with me after I made a comment about her St. Lucian rum. Then I tried to flirt with a beautiful woman from Medellin over a blinking shot glass. Up next? A quick rest in the Brugal lounge to cool off. I was seriously sweating.

That's when I happened upon the Centenario booth where Ed and I tried both the 20 and 25 year old offerings. The 25 year was exquisite! Smooth with brown sugar, spices, vanilla and an unmatched buttery richness. Mmm. So delicious!

Not too much later, Ed and I stumbled into Bohemio's booth. This Panamanian distiller had several offerings. We started with Bohemio 15 which was terrific--vanilla and spices and wood while still remaining sweet. Mmmm. That is when we tried the Bohemio Honey, a 20% alcohol liqueur made with Bohemio 8. This was such a treat! Authentic and fabulous honey, sweet yet not overdone, great balance, vanilla, a star!

Next up. Madagascar's Dzama Rhum. We were told vanilla was prevalent on the island and that was clearly no lie. The "typical" offering Cuvee Noire Prestige was dominated by vanilla. Then I tried the next one called "Vanilla". Hello vanilla overload. And their overproof 104 was just a bit too hot.

That's when Ed and I finished our first mini-circle and wound up right near the entrance. And I was again face-to-face with one of the Appleton models that clearly recognized me as I did her. This time, we got together and talked it out. After some discussion, it should have been more obvious that she had worked for my Total Wine until fairly recently. She always asked me if I had tried the newest beers and my opinions. Very cool. The best part about our discussion was when Ed let her know who he was. She left him with an unforgettable zinger moment. Haha. So awesome!

Speaking of the Appleton rum, I gave up my identity to another model collecting email addresses. Not sure what I'll be getting. Perhaps a trip to Jamaica? Appleton was clearly pushing their cocktail, which by the way was terrific and one of the best I tasted. But I also asked for a sample of Appleton 12 and loved the spicy, fruity and smooth flavors. Really nice.

Next up, Poesia, a CachaƧa from Brazil. We didn't at first realize this wasn't rum. I'm actually still trying to figure it all out, the classifications. What I do know is that the aroma and flavors were awesome and quite unique. Vanilla and something else hard to describe. Along with the great beverage, a beautiful Carnival-going woman with almost no clothes was willing to have pictures taken, pose with the beverage, and let me read her belly. No shit! Even as I took crappy iPhone photos, she was cool with retakes until I was able to get a good shot.

That's when we hit the Dos Maderas display, which had some barrels cut open for our sniffing pleasure. So these rums are "born in the Caribbean" yet are products of Spain where they are finished in Sherry barrels. The PX 5+5 was the best rum of the day, and I had a healthy "seconds" of that one. Sweet brown sugar, vanilla, sherry, smooth and rich. I loved it! Dos Maderas also had one of the best marketing campaigns as one of the staff tried to have each visitor have their photo taken with their barrels in the background. After the show, I found the distillery on Twitter, and while expecting nothing, I received their first two tweets in 7 months. You guys should go follow and engage them!

Venezuela's Rum Diplomatico was next door and their 12 year old rum was rich and yummy. Excellent flavors, and a huge leap above their 8 year, which we also tasted.

We tried a few others, including Bacardi's Solera, which was a good and smooth rum. Bacardi had an awesome booth, highlighting their history, serving rum directly from a barrel, and of course the hotties. Yes, I took advantage of the photo op. And I know it looks like my hand did a reach around on the pretty blond, but I really didn't. I did see boobs, but Bacardi was not the place.

A few booths later, we met up with the Siesta Key rum makers. Ed knew these guys as they were guests on his fairly recently. OMG, their spiced rum was super awesome! Cinnamon, rich, terrific spices. I wanted to make out with it! So if anyone you ever talk to EVER says Captain Morgan, you should make them walk the plank. This kills that rum by 100 times at least!

Rum. Rum. Rum. Rum. A guy called me "Bloke". Rum. Rum. Finally we hit Zafra, which I had fallen in love with at the SoBe Swine and Wine Event, where I had around an entire bottle. Would it live up to my memory and expectations? Buttery, rich, sweet yet spicy, awesomely smooth. Yeah, a great rum!

We took a break for lunch. I asked what the "imported beer" option was. Corona. Horrible dudes!

Vizcaya 21 was a nice rum and the Vizcaya White was also pretty nice. And we tried a lot more too. Prichard's, Botran, Dictador and Plantation all were memorable.

Toward the end, I met James and Annette from Soul of Miami, where I also contribute some articles, as you saw above. I also met Rob from Rob's Rum Guide, the organizer of the event. Ed made a bunch of contacts both for his business at Total Wine as well as for his role in talent management for

We left a little before closing, when everyone started dancing. And we found a place across the street called Muncheez if you can believe that. This place charged me $14 for a burger and soda and I was skeptical until I saw the size of that thing. Holy Moly!

That's it, Dudes and Dudettes. I hope I'm invited back next year! You should totally check it out!