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Archive for February, 2014

An Atlanta twist on the White IPA style and story

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IPA is big stuff and getting bigger.

For many years it’s been the top category at the Great American Beer Festival. Last year, Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada even teamed with the German glassware maker Spiegelau to create a special IPA glass they claim enhances the experience of the hops that distinguish the style.

Of course, American craft brewers have made the most of bright, citrusy, aromatic American hops with experimental styles like Black and Belgian IPA that have become more and more popular.

Now another new style dubbed White IPA has emerged as a favorite. Essentially a hybrid of Belgian wit and American IPA, it mixes unmalted wheat and spices from the Belgian side and barley malt and hop character from the American side.

Oregon’s Deschutes and Missouri’s Boulevard are the brewers often credited with creating the prototype with a 2010 collaboration called Conflux No. 2. Since then, a host of White IPAs have hit the market, including separate versions from …

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Kulers Uncorked: Frank Family

2010 Frank Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Calif.

2010 Frank Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Calif.

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

  • $55
  • Two Thumbs Way Up
  • Intense aromas of dark berry fruit, overripe plums, dry tobacco and dark chocolate. A big wine with intense, dark fruit flavors, it maintains a balance with bright acidity, solid tannins and spicy notes of leather, cigar box and dark chocolate.

Rich Frank sees a lot of parallels between making movies and making wine. “They both take about a year to make,” the former head of Disney Studios says with a chuckle. “And you must lay out a lot of money at the beginning.”

Frank knows quite a lot about getting successful films and wines to market. In addition to being one of the most powerful players in Hollywood in the 1980s and 1990s, for the past two decades he has owned and operated Frank Family Vineyards, located in the bucolic, anything-but-Hollywood setting of Napa Valley.

Before he started making wine, Frank escaped the pressure and pretense of Los Angeles by …

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San Diego’s Ballast Point hits Atlanta

Ballast Point may be best known for its highly regarded Sculpin IPA, currently rated a perfect 100 at ratebeer.com and 98 at beeradvocate.com. But there’s much more to the story. The San Diego company, which opened its production brewery in 1996 and its craft distillery in 2008, now makes over 40 styles of beer and seven different spirits.

Toward the end of 2013, most of Ballast Point’s core beers and spirits became available in Georgia for the first time, with Sculpin, Big Eye IPA, Pale Ale, Calico Amber and Wahoo White making a splash at bars and package stores around Atlanta and Athens. Fugu Vodka, Three Sheets Rum and Old Grove Gin are showing up in some places now, too.

Yuseff Cherney, who has the distinction of being Ballast Point’s co-founder, chief operating officer, head brewer and head distiller, recalled the company’s humble beginnings in co-founder Jack White’s Home Brew Mart, a shop that’s still an important part of San Diego’s booming craft beer …

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Kulers Uncorked: Russian River Pinots

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2010 Inman Family Wines, Olivet Grange Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Russian River, Calif.

2010 Inman Family Wines, Olivet Grange Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Russian River, Calif.

  • $68
  • Two Thumbs Way Up
  • Intense aromas of red berries, rose petals and candied ginger. Equally intense flavors of red berries and tart black cherries and persistent notes of cola and cinnamon on its long finish.

The first thing Kathleen Inman would like you to know about her wines is that they are not from Russia (a common comment she hears in her travels). Inman Family Wines produce wines from pinot noir, pinot gris and chardonnay grapes grown in the Russian River Valley, located squarely in the heart of California’s Sonoma County.

The second thing the effervescent, former corporate headhunter would like you to know is that her Russian River pinot noirs—which in many quarters is shorthand for rich, jammy, alcoholic wines—are not what you might expect.

“They don’t need to be,” Inman says regarding the rich, slightly sweet, full-bodied pinot noirs that the Russian River has become …

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