I recently tasted the latest release of Moobuzz Pinot Noir; I loved it! If not for the rich, black cherry flavors, then for its down-to-earth, anything-but-snooty personality.
In 1984, Jim Koch, the founder of the Boston Beer Co., brewed the first batch of Samuel Adams Boston Lager in his kitchen. The rest, as the cliche goes, is history.
Sam Adams is among the most successful craft breweries in the world and Koch is recognized as the man on the TV commercials.
But Koch never forgot his homebrew roots.
For the past 10 years, Boston Beer Co. has sponsored the LongShot Homebrew Contest, giving homebrewers from around the country the chance to have their recipes brewed and bottled as a limited edition Samuel Adams LongShot beer.
This year, Atlanta’s Richard Roper was one of the two winners. His Friar Hop Ale is a hybrid of familiar styles, combining the hoppy essence of an American IPA with the spicy, fruity flavor of a Belgian ale.
Roper received the LongShot award from Koch earlier this month during the annual Great American Beer Festival in Denver, where he served samples of Friar Hop at the Boston Beer Co. booth during two of the tasting
• Two Thumbs Up
• Lots of aromas of fresh flowers with a touch of honey and tangerine. A bit fuller than a pinot grigio, it offers lots of remarkably fresh citrus flavors with more than a spoonful of pears and green apples. Look for the current 2009 or the 2008 vintages.
For the longest time, I’ve been dithering about branching out and trying different wines that may be off your radar. Why? For a couple reasons, 1.) it can be deliciously exciting to try new stuff, and 2.) to save a buck or two, too.
Recently, I pulled a bottle I’ve been meaning to drink for an age: the Ruffino Orvieto from Italy. I was hopeful that it was good or at least not too offensive (my dividing line between drink or not drink). Surprise! It was neither. It was great. Eleanore, my wife and part-time wine evaluator, enjoyed every last drop (in fact, we wished we had a few drops more).
What’s an Orvieto?
Orvieto is a town
Beer Pick: Sweetwater Crank Tank Rye’d Ale
Sweetwater Brewing Co., Atlanta
$3.99/22-ounce bottle at metro beverage stores; also on draft at select beer bars.
Profile: There’s a lot to like about Sweetwater’s new Crank Tank Rye’d Ale. Not only is it a really good beer, it was created for a really good cause — the annual charity bike ride for Camp Twin Lakes, a nonprofit oasis of fun and caring for kids with illnesses and disabilities.
Brewed with 25 percent rye malt, including caramelized rye, flaked rye and Munich rye, and dry-hopped with Mount Hood and Centennial hops, Rye’d has spicy citrus aromas and flavors, with bready and caramel notes. The name is a play on Sweetwater’s Dank Tank series of one-off experiments. But look for Rye’d to make an annual return this time of year to benefit Camp Twin Lakes.
Pair with: Rye’d would make a great pairing for corned beef on rye or a Reuben or patty melt. Try it with pizza or Whole Foods SweetWater 420 spent grain
Sept. 23 may be the first day of autumn, but craft breweries have been shipping Oktoberfest lagers, pumpkin ales, and other popular beers of the season for more than a month. As usual, the demand for these malty and spicy beers is high.
Several Atlanta brewpubs, including Five Seasons, Max Lager’s, and Gordon Biersch, make very good draft versions of the German Oktoberfest style. Since the demise of Dogwood Brewing Co., though, no local brewery has bottled an Oktoberfest beer.
Red Brick Brewing Co. changed that with the recent introduction of Red Brick Oktoberfest, available in limited edition seasonal six-packs. The copper-colored lager, made with German bock yeast and Vienna malt, exhibits a sweet aroma and a clean, rich flavor, with a moderately dry finish.
Other perennial Oktoberfest favorites to look for in bottles and on draft include offerings from Ayinger, Bell’s, Brooklyn, Harpoon, Samuel Adams, Victory and Weyerbacher.
New to the U.S. this year, Paulaner’s
Great Divide Rumble Oak-Aged IPA
Great Divide Brewing Co., Denver
$9.99-$10.99/six-pack at metro beverage stores; also on draft at select beer bars.
Profile: Rumble is one of the new seasonal offerings from Denver’s Great Divide. The brewery is known for well-balanced beers, and this one is no exception. It’s a malty IPA loaded with citrus and pine aromas and flavors. And it’s aged on French and American oak, which adds vanilla notes, though the wood presence is rather subtle compared with some similar ales. At just over 7 percent alcohol by volume, Rumble should be perfect for sipping as the weather turns cooler.
Pair with: Great Divide recommends pairing Rumble with marinated skirt steak, grilled sweet potatoes, ripe brie or Talleggio cheese.
As Michael Pollan points out in “The Botany of Desire,” cultures vary enormously in their affinity for bitter and sour flavors, but a taste for sweet stuff seems near universal.
Most beer is a combination of sweet malt and bitter hop flavors. And while some beer drinkers still gravitate toward one side or the other — becoming self-identified malt lovers or hop heads — enjoying extremely high bitterness levels has become a badge of honor among beer geeks.
When it comes to sour beer, though, there are far fewer aficionados. That was apparent one evening when John Roberts, the brewer at Atlanta’s Max Lager’s brewpub, treated curious drinkers to a taste of a mystery beer.
It was undeniably acidic, with a notable bit of funk and an intensely tart edge that a few liked and many didn’t.
“It’s a fairly controlled sourness,” Roberts noted. “It’s not medicinal or vinegary and it has some balance of sweetness.”
Flashing a mischievous grin, Roberts revealed that the