Peak Organic–Citrus Saison

This one is different. It’s not at all what I was expecting, and that’s unfortunate. The first whiff after I poured it smelled like Budweiser. Plain old Bud. It even tasted like Bud; with some extra citrus flavors on top. I’m probably not being entirely fair here, as I believe this was intended to be a summer brew for Peak, not a 10-degree day winter drink. I’ll be looking for this one again come summer….try it when the temperature is about 70 degrees higher.

<>Beer Man

Smuttynose Brewing with Stone Brewing — Cluster’s Last Stand

wpid-20150120_053502.jpgThis beer is great. To start, it pours with a near-perfect head. The first sip starts out with a pleasant hit of malt, balanced with full citrus hops. Like the head I was able to achieve in pouring, the first sip is nearly perfect. This is a wonderful collaboration beer. The bitterness of the hops starts to poke though after a few swallows, but it’s nothing overwhelming; there’s still plenty of sweetness from the malt to keep things in check.

After a while, the bitterness dissipates somewhat, leaving behind a well-rounded beer. I imagine part of this is because the brew has warmed up a little (5-10 degrees maybe?), and partly because it’s got enough of an abv to make a dent in my sobriety as I sit on the couch watching Top Gear and writing this, relaxing after a marathon of a Monday at work. With a “man’s dinner” of steak and potatoes, this beer is excellent as well.

This is an all-around wonderful brew from two powerhouses in the craft/micro-brewery genre. I will definitely be seeking out more bottles quite soon.

<>Beer Man

Dogfish Head — Kvasir

They describe this one as an ancient ale from a Scandinavian leather-clad priestess who, prior to things like grape wine being invented, insisted on a strong alcoholic mix of grain, fruit, and honey. They based this brew on what a Swedish brewery and a biomolecular archaeologist have uncovered about this “grog.”

It was good. Rather good, in fact. Sort of a “shandy,” but way better. I’m not a fan at all of having grapefruit juice or whatever mixed into my beer, it rather spoils the whole experience for me, effectively ruining both drinks. Kvasir, on the other hand, perfectly balances booze and juice. They’ve sourced lingonberries and cranberries for tartness, as well as cranberry juice, and combined that with birch syrup and honey to sweeten the deal.

The first sniff reveals a huge profile of tart cranberry, followed by a slight sweetness of lingonberry (anyone who’s eaten at furniture super-store Ikea knows what I’m talking about if they’ve had the meatballs meal with lingonberry jam). Anyway, the first sip offers sweetness like a shandy, but still enough “beer taste” to make you not want to pour it down the sink. The subsequent sips continued to provide more insight into this mysterious brew. There was a distinct sharpness from added herbs, along with a perfect sweetness from the syrup and honey. Further into the glass, the honey came to the forefront, allowing the cranberry to take a breather. Towards the end of my glass, I was finding myself disappointed that it was empty, but quite happy I’d experienced all 25.4 fl.oz. of mysterious goodness. If this is what Dogfish Head can do with an ancient recipe, I’m seriously looking forward to what else they can bring to my glass.

<>Beer Man

Kvasir by Dogfish Head

Kvasir by Dogfish Head

Harpoon Brewery, Windsor, VT — something a little different this time.

Winey Woman and I decided to visit Harpoon Brewery’s Windsor, VT., location for lunch this weekend. I was smart enough to remember my two empty Harpoon growlers, as I usually find something worth taking home a lot of to share with friends. This visit was no exception. Being a Saturday, the place was PACKED, but even so, the wait for a table was only about 15 minutes. That gave us plenty of time to wander through the retail section to see the new clothing, beer glasses, sunglasses with pop-toppers built in, and of course, plenty of bottled and canned beer.

Harpoon Brewery, Windsor, VT

Harpoon Brewery, Windsor, VT

Upon being seated, our waitress was prompt and knowledgeable about the new beers on tap. Harpoon had two pilot batches ready to serve, Boston Tea Party and Humble Braggert. BTP was described as a porter brewer with black tea, and HB was a double IPA with tons of hops. I opted to get a taste of both, along with ordering one of my seasonal favorites, Long Thaw IPA. The BTP was dark…like really dark. But what did I expect of a porter with black tea? I’m not much of a tea drinker, and when I do, it’ll be herbal or white tea mostly. This one wasn’t something I’d personally seek out, but if you like dark beers with a far amount of bitterness, this one could be right up your alley.

From L to R: Hard Cider, Boston Tea Party, Humble Braggert, and Long Thaw

From L to R: Hard Cider, Boston Tea Party, Humble Braggert, and Long Thaw

Humble Braggert, on the other hand, was awesome. So much hoppy goodness in one small sip, I was blown away. Having only had a small taste, I can’t comment on how it’ll hold up throughout an entire pint, but my small taste was enough for me to get a growler to go. Winey Woman got her standard Harpoon Hard Cider, as having Celiacs Disease makes drinking beer a rather unpleasant experience.

Might as well try a few!

Might as well try a few!

WW interjection: Harpoon’s hard cider is decent. Drinkable, but much more like fermented apple juice in taste than a highly developed flavor profile found in some other hard ciders. I much prefer Harpoon’s honey version of their hard cider. They have also done a pilot batch of dry-hopped cider that was truly delicious. Hint, hint, Harpoon!!!

WW enjoying her cider

WW enjoying her cider

Our lunches came out looking awesome, I had a BLT with beer battered fries, and WW had a tuna melt on gluten-free bread. Like usual, both meals were great, and we enjoyed our time immensely. As mentioned above, I took home a growler of Humble Braggert, and I also got a fill up of Rich & Dan’s Rye IPA. I remember having this one a few years ago when it was launched, and felt it was time to reacquaint myself with it. I’ll be doing full reviews of both of these sometime soon.

The Beer Garden has a warm atmosphere- a really nice place to grab a brew and some food

The Beer Garden has a warm atmosphere- a really nice place to grab a brew and some food

Along with Harpoon’s northern location, the light industrial park (Artisans Way) they are in features a distillery and a shop featuring Vermont food products. Since we were there and didn’t have any time constraints, we decided to wander about some. In The Sustainable Farmer, they feature a smorgasbord of local Vermont products ranging from the obligatory maple syrup to cheese, sauces, spreads, and a recent addition – Putney Mountain Winery. Much to our surprise, one of the owners was there, pouring samples of their delicious wines. After having a taste of all eight they had in stock, we picked out two, a cranberry wine and a cassis dessert liquor. Both shall be reviewed shortly by WW and myself.

Silo Distillery- just across the driveway from Harpoon

SILO Distillery- just across the driveway from Harpoon

The other alcoholic offering at Artisans Way is SILO Vodka. A vodka distillery that now offers other options, including bourbon and moonshine. I decided to sample the bourbon and moonshine, as I’d only ever had their vodka, which is amazingly smooth. The moonshine was definitely moonshine, but was clearly thought out. It had a rough taste, but wasn’t so rough that you couldn’t enjoy it. The bourbon, on the other hand, was incredible. So utterly smooth and flavorful, it was possibly the best I’ve ever had. I wanted to buy a bottle, but the price was quite steep, so I guess I’ll have to wait for my birthday or something… 😦

Overall we had an awesome time in Windsor, discovered some new drinks and revisited some old, and I can’t wait to bring you my thoughts on Harpoon’s brews.

<>Beer Man

White Birch Brewing – Double IPA

Awesome. Despite being a double IPA, it’s really smooth. I was expecting a somewhat harsh brew, but this is well balanced. There’s a big wallop of hops right on the nose, and where a typical heavy IPA hits you with bitterness, this doesn’t. It’s more of a sweet bitter, if that makes sense. There are a bunch of flavors going on – plenty of the obvious sweet citrus from the hops, but also some savory, herbal notes. And it’s right up there on the abv scale, too. Not even half way though the 22oz bottle and I’m feeling pretty good 🙂 Because it’s a big bottle, you don’t have any choice but to nurse it a little, and as it warms up, the beer loses a lot of bitterness, letting the sweet and savory shine, as I’m sure the brewmaster intended.

<>Beer Man

Throw Back Thursday- Beer Advent Calendar Reviews, Part One

WW: What do you give the man who has everything? I was stumped with shopping for Beer Man for Christmas until I stumbled upon some inspiration on Pinterest- a Beer Advent Calendar! Let’s kindly accept the fact that we’ve lost any religious affiliation to “advent” with this present and instead focus on how I may have made an amazing play for Best Wife Ever. I’ll be posting some of Beer Man’s best from his daily reviews (originally posted on facebook) during the period of his advent calendar each Thursday until we run out 🙂


So instead of a LEGO advent calendar or one of those cheesy “chocolate” ones, this year my awesome wife made, no, built, a beer-a-day calendar. Dec 1 is a special Arrogant Bastard blend. I get to remove the excellent wrapping paper each morning, place the brew in the fridge, then dream about it all day until I can get back home to pop it open. I believe, ladies, that the gauntlet for the best wife ever award has been thrown down.

Spelling Mistakes Intentional

Spelling Mistakes Intentional

End of Day One Update: I have fully consumed beer #1. Lukcy Basartd as it’s called is quite nice. They call it a dry-hopped beer, but it doesn’t particularly come through at first. The malt profile is “large and in charge” with this one, and at 8.5% abv, it’ll kick your ass. The hops come through as the brew warms up slightly, making for a nicely rounded drink. Having a genuine German stein that will hold 22oz is definitely a must, allowing the beer’s flavor to expand.

<>Beer Man

Sierra Nevada – Beer Camp – Chico King Pale Ale & Coffee Milk Stout Ale

So here’s a report from Beer Camp…yeah yeah, I know, “What happens at beer camp stays at beer camp”….oh wait, that’s deer camp….but anyway….

I had the fortune of being able to try two of Sierra Nevada Brewing’s “Beer Camp” beers, a special case of one-offs they made to showcase some of their talent and to bring some local as well as far-away flavors to their fans. First I had their Coffee Milk Stout Ale, which is kind of an oxymoron. How can you have a stout ale, exactly? That’s technically two different beers. An ale is medium body and a stout is heavy and dark. Regardless of their creativity, this one was really good. Coffee is my “other woman” besides beer, so combining the pair is, well, kind of what fantasies are made of….but I digress. Sierra did an awesome job on this one, creating a super smooth brew with a perfect coffee flavor, combined with some light sweetness from the added lactose.
Beer Camp- Truth in Advertising

Beer Camp- Truth in Advertising

Chico King Pale Ale was described on the bottle as having “plenty of bright, fruit-forward, resinous hop varietals atop a robust malt body,” and boy are they telling the truth here. I’ve never read a label and then actually experienced what they described so precisely. Their choice in hops is a pleasant mix of citrus-heavy as well as other stone-fruit and apple-ish varieties, plus the malt profile is a perfect compliment to balance the fruit. Neither overpowered the other, but both came through independently while still complementing each other. I could definitely add this to my list of sessionable beers without question…if I can find more….

<>Beer Man

Beer Camp- Great Beverage for Card Playing :-)

Beer Camp

Svenska Red and a Brief Mention of the Finger Lakes Region of Wine, Beer, and Spirits

Svenska Red by Swedish Hill Winery is labeled as a semi-sweet table wine, but really should be labeled a dessert sweet wine. With 11.5% alcohol content, Svenska is a doozy, and will get you feeling happy quickly, if you can drink enough of it at one time, due to its sweetness. Overall, it’s a nice fruity dessert wine that I think would taste amazing poured over vanilla ice cream, but definitely not a table wine I would have with dinner.

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Svenska Red…sweet and yummy!

Svenska Red is an upstate New York Finger Lakes Region wine. If you have never visited the Finger Lakes Region of NY, and you’re a fan of wine (and beer and spirits!), you are truly missing out. There are over 100 wineries and several breweries and distilleries along the beautiful shores of Cayuga and Seneca Lakes.There are many companies that run wine tours so you do not even have to drive yourself to each winery.

View of Seneca Lake from Glenora Winery- Finger Lakes Region, NY

View of Seneca Lake from Glenora Winery- Finger Lakes Region, NY

Beer Man and I did a mini-tour last year while we were participating in MINI Takes the States (MTTS), a cross-country rally for MINI Cooper owners that had a stop in Buffalo, NY last year. While we couldn’t do the entire cross-country rally, we did the last three stops in Buffalo, NY; Bethlehem, PA; and Boston, MA. We took the long way to Buffalo and spent a night at the very bottom of Seneca Lake in Watkins Glen. As we were leaving Watkins Glen to head to Buffalo we stopped at several wineries and a brewery called Climbing Bines, which I imagine we’ll post about separately on this blog in the future.

Beer Man and Winey Woman at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel

Beer Man and Winey Woman at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel

Beer Man in the Hops Field at Climbing Bines Brewery

Beer Man in the Hops Field at Climbing Bines Brewery

We will undoubtedly return to the region soon, so I will end the post here. Check out http://www.fingerlakeswinecountry.com/ if you want to plan your wine tour now!

Winey Woman 🙂

White Birch Brewing Hop Session

White Birch Brewing, Hooksett, NH — Hop Session.

White Birch Brewing Van at the Brewery (Winey Woman made a quick stop there on NYE).

White Birch Brewing Van at the Brewery (Winey Woman made a quick stop there on NYE).

So good. Just such a wonderful hoppyness (yes, that’s a word….now.) The initial aroma is a little weak, brewer’s notes suggest serving at 50-55 deg and I poured it straight from a VERY cold refrigerator, but the citrus nose makes up for it. There isn’t an overpowering citrus profile, just enough to let you know this beer has plenty of hops. The malt is kept in check, and neither it nor the hops outwiegh the other; everything is well balanced.

Enjoying this brew with some tortilla chips is nice – the salt from the chips brings the pine flavors forward, completely changing the overall flavor. As the glass warms up, the aroma is released, much like red wine opens up as it sits in your glass. Overall another awesome brew from a simply wonderful nano-brewery where the norm is “Not NorMal.”

MINI Coopers and their owners are known for being "Not NorMal." Both Winey Woman's MINI (pictured here) and Beer Man's MINI have these stickers on their sunroofs.

MINI Coopers and their owners are known for being “Not NorMal.” Both Winey Woman’s MINI (pictured here) and Beer Man’s MINI have these stickers on their sunroofs.

<>Beer Man

Belated New Year’s Eve Beverages

WW: Here we are, writing a beer and wine blog, and we haven’t even discussed what we were enjoying for beverages on New Year’s Eve, which, if the fullness of the shopping carts in the liquor store that evening were any indication, is a national drinking holiday.

Beer Man and I enjoyed a delicious Sparkling (Champagne) Cider from Harpoon Brewery. This is a brew they make only around the holidays and it is one of our favorites. Harpoon’s regular cider has improved slightly over the years, but it is still very light- more of an alcoholic apple juice than a real flavorful hard cider. Combine their cider with champagne yeast and everything changes. It’s effervescent and dry, hits the tongue with a sparkle and is just a joy to drink. It is still somewhat light in flavor, but the champagne yeast adds a really nice quality to the overall experience, without making it taste like strange champagne.  It also makes you feel fabulous pretty quickly, despite its fairly low alcohol content (4.4%) because the bubbles speed up absorption (this is why all champagne tends to get you feeling really happy more quickly than most other alcoholic beverages of equal abv).

All in all, this is a drink I would recommend heartily to anyone who loves a nice hard cider and has something they want to celebrate!
wpid-20150103_050249.jpg

Beer Man made a drink of his own to kick off the evening…

BM: My own creation — Buckwheat Maple Manhattan. So here on Beer Man and Winey Woman we’re not just all about beer and wine. Hard cider is more than welcomed, as are spirits. Not the mythical kind that haunt you or make you think that your dead relatives are watching over you somehow…..but the yummy, alcoholic kind. Anyway, I digress…..

So for New Year’s Eve, I made myself a Manhattan. It’s a drink I recently (re)discovered on a recent weekend escape that brought us to the Mt. Washington Hotel. Inspired by the awesome Manhattans that their bartenders were making, I decided to break out my old bottle of bitters, my newly acquired Scotch Rocks (soapstone cubes you keep in the freezer and replace ice with), and my “good ‘ole Yankee ingenuity” to try my hand at mixology. I came up with something I’m calling the Maple Buckwheat Special (MBS) (#1, since I’m sure I’ll keep experimenting). I took one measure of Catskill Distilling “Otay” Buckwheat whiskey, two measures of VT Gold vodka, a dash(-ish) of bitters, and a splut of VT Maple Syrup, directly from the bottle, and stirred them together. The result was nothing short of awesome. The syrup cut the harshness of the high-test alcohol, and the buckwheat, which is great on it’s own on the rocks, offered a perfect flavor to compliment the sweetness of the maple. While I did manage to forget a cherry (rookie mistake), the drink made me quite happy, and I think has inspired my inner mixologist to continue experimenting with Manhattans, as well as drinks in general.