Feeds:
Posts
Comments

No excuses anymore

I have a major pet peeve for restaurants. This goes for everyone. All of them. Okay, the ones that are not massive chains (though your day is coming), but those that have great food and some part of a great beverage selection.

If your beverage list is not complete, you are short changing your customers.  What do I mean by this? I mean that if you’re a fine dining restaurant with an awesome wine list, but a phoned in beer and cocktail list, you’ve failed. If you’re the new wine bar in town, but don’t have a few great beers, you’ve failed. If you’re the awesome new beer bar in town, but you have bad wine, you’ve failed. If you’re a cocktail bar but lack beer or wine, you’ve failed. If you’re the new high end casual restaurant but lack anything in a beverage list, you’ve failed. The simple fact is, if you’re going to make a restaurant or bar that is supposed to be known for quality and you don’t make a menu that is completely of the quality you’re striving for, you are doing your guests and yourselves a disservice.

Why? The short answer is that not every single one of your customers will want to drink wine/beer/cocktails, whatever you’re known for. What will set you apart is what you can offer that one person in the group that has no clue what they’re looking at and doesn’t even like what your specialty is. It is your obligation to have an option for that one guy.  And no, you don’t have to sacrifice quality.

What you do have to do is have a staff that knows what they’re talking about, and a buyer/manager that knows how to find the products that will make people happy. If you get a light beer drinker, you turn them on to a pils or a kolsch. If someone wants a glass of red/white, you have a selection or two that is versatile and will appeal to them. And as for cocktails, you’d better know how to make the basics and/or sell something simple in addition to your crazy concoctions.

I’m tired of going to restaurants for a nice meal and the whole thing falling short because they have a 25 page wine list, but only variations on American Light Lager for beer, or no cocktail list whatsoever – or can’t make a recommendation. And this is not a problem unique to Texas, Minnesota, or Toronto. How hard is it to find 5-10 great beers or come up with a basic cocktail selection? It’s really not.

This is such a great time for the beverage world. Restaurants and bars can get so many great products, that there’s no excuse for an establishment to fall short in any category.

I want the whole experience when I go out, and I’m not the only one. From my before dinner beer/cocktail/bubbles, to my wine/beer with my entree to my glass or beer/liquor/wine for dessert, I want be able to have a choice. Incorporating the full spectrum of the beverage world will only increase your revenues, your servers’ tips, and your guests’ satisfaction.

There are bars and restaurants that do their beverage programs justice, don’t get me wrong. I’m sure you know a couple. I just think that if you’re going to do it, do it right, and do it completely.

.

Drink up!

~ the Hungry Wino

.

“I saw a notice that said ‘Drink Canada Dry’ and I’ve just started.”
~ Brendan Behan

Advertisements

I had to go to Texsom this year.  Missing last year because of the move to Minnesota was a huge bummer. So, having been in our new apartment for a mere 10 days, I made the 13 hour journey… and it was worth it.

For the uninitiated, Texsom is a 2 (3) day event during which sommeliers from all over Texas gather at the Four Seasons in Las Colinas (near Dallas). The weekend is full seminars ranging from wine basics all the way to the super-geeky, all led by Master Sommeliers.  Not to mention, those eligible compete in the Texas’ Best Sommelier competition.

I should also note that this will be a long read, so take it in sessions if you insist on reading the whole thing – it was basically three days of wine classes.  Pictures of the days’ schedules are posted throughout if you’d like a glimpse of what we tasted and discussed.

Saturday was a day of options.  I took the option going to a Blind Tasting masterclass to refresh my abilities on a professional level.  A lot of my peers blew it off since it’s something that’s been beat into our heads since we began our careers.  I am very glad I went.  The tips alone are worth the time, and of course refreshing myself on the methodology never hurts.

Saturday’s schedule and wines

The geeky stuff followed.  The Kimmeridgian chain led my MS Wayne Belding.  I have been all over acid and minerality driven wines this summer and this was the cherry on my sundae.  I won’t go into a ton of details, but basically Kimmeridgian limestone is a layer of prehistoric soil that runs along a line, exposed in various important wine regions, throughout France from Sancerre in the Loire to Chablis in Burgundy to the Aube in Champagne.  It’s exposure in these areas is paramount in producing fantastic wines of great acidity and minerality.  In Chablis, it is mandated that the Grand Cru wines of the region MUST be on Kimmeridgian soil, and not on the younger, portlandian soil that sits on top of it in most areas.  If you’re familiar with the white cliffs of Dover in England, it’s the same rock.  In a nutshell, that’s it.  The wines were phenomenal, and my teeth actually hurt later that night when I brushed my teeth from all of the acidity.  A wonderfully enamel-melting experience.

Saturday’s relatively short day was a blessing.  It enabled me to catch up with some old friends in the afternoon, while tasting more wines of course, and get some rest before the marathon of the next two days.

Sunday, the festivities actually began! What a start it was.  There’s nothing like waking up and having 8 glasses of Bordeaux staring you down, daring you to be able to taste anything after their departure from your palate.  All but one were of the 2008 vintage, and just too young to drink.  I have not had this many classes growths in one sitting before (hopefully that will change soon), and I could just imagine them all mocking me in a french accent, guffawing and declaring my incompetence for drinking them as adolescents.  I felt that they did show some character beyond the insane tannins that they threw at us, but it was pretty rough to get through at 9:30 am.  Still, I learned even more about Bordeaux.

Sunday’s schedule

Texas was the next seminar.  I… tend to worry when it comes to this presentation.  Texas consumes a ton of wine, and a lot of their own, but unfortunately we don’t do a very good job of growing what we should.  One problem is that Texas needs to grow more grapes.  The crop is never big enough to supply all of the Texas wine drinkers, so wineries have to source grapes from outside the state.  Yeah, this is a problem, but I think the real problem is that Texas doesn’t grow enough of the right varieties of grapes.  What do I mean by this? Texas is hot as hell and there isn’t enough water in most of the regions.  Why then are we still trying to grow varieties that aren’t suited to the climate? I understand that growers and wine makers want to make what sells, but by making crappy versions of what sells, you’re selling yourself and the drinker short.  Instead, make good wine out of grapes that do well and educate the drinkers.  The best in the flight were actually whites – the Duchman Vermentino, and the McPherson Roussanne.  The whites really outshone the reds, even the  red priced at over $100 per bottle.  I won’t tell you which that was, but it’s a ballsy move.  A true example of price not indicating quality.

Sunday’s schedule, continued

Ahh riesling.  My Minnesota summer fling.  I’ve been buying this stuff all summer.  Mostly the drier versions, but a sweeter one will sneak in there occasionally.  I love riesling.  It’s complex with a menagerie of aromas, bright acidity, sometimes lip smacking sweetness, and overall an amazing grape.  Most people see riesling and immediately scoff at them because they’re perceived as overly sweet and cloying, and I have to say that you’re missing out.  Ask questions and find some drier versions, or at least those with some balance.  Quit buying the blue nun and look for something with more words that you don’t understand, and you’ll get some that are more interesting.  And spend a little money too. You can get great rieslings for $15.  We drank some fun ones in the seminar, and 3 of the 8 were from the US, which was unexpected but encouraging.  We’ve got some good ones made right in our back yard – Dr. Konstantin Frank from New York, Eroica from Columbia Valley, and the Stoney Hill from Napa was a surprise too.

Oregon followed the tasting break (yes, we had wine after our wine, and before our next wine).  This was an interesting concept.  Instead of just diving into the wines or getting overly geeky, the MS’s Fred Dame and Nate Ready chose to go with a particular theme for the region.  Hippy and cowboy wines.  It fit their personalities quite well, and if you’ve ever met Fred Dame you know he was the cowboy.  I’d never met Nate Ready previously, but he was certainly the hippy.  The wines showed these characters perfectly, and the room was split on which they preferred.  I leaned towards the more hippy style.  For me it’s the way pinot noir should be – fragrant, complex, with more balanced tannins and acidity.  The cowboy wines were very good as well, but I preferred the softer, more feminine pinots.

The last seminar of Sunday was beer.  It was a basic beer seminar and we drank some good examples of the styles necessary to know.  I was jumping out of my seat the whole time.  I wanted to teach the seminar.  Brian Cronin and Melissa Monosoff did a great job, but I wanted to be up there with them.  I think that what I wanted to say the most is that as sommeliers, it is our job to guide guests to the best beverage possible for their experience.  That being said, it’s a damn shame how many restaurants and bars have fantastic wine lists and completely drop the ball on beer.  Sorry, but if you stop short on your beverage list, whether it be beer, cocktails, or even the wine, your job isn’t done.  Yeah, you say you are a bar/restaurant that’s focused on beer/cocktails/wine (pick one), but it’s not that difficult to pick four interesting selections of the other.  Don’t half-ass your beverage program.

Sunday night was a night of moderate consumption, and great company.  We behaved and didn’t stay out too late – we knew Monday would be the night for that.

Monday began with a State of the Industry panel.  Very interesting to those of us in the business, but I will not go into detail.  I will say though that there was one panelist that caused a bit of drama (not that there isn’t enough already in the business), by saying that the event and those attending were too detached from our consumer.  An interesting point, though a bit misguided.  He criticized Texsom for not being customer friendly and not having seminars on how to sell to the consumer. While that would be a good seminar, the casual wine drinker is not the audience for Texsom. The audience is the professional sommelier, the wine geek, the guys wanting to become Master Sommeliers in the future, not the consumer.  This is our opportunity to geek out to the extreme.  It is then our job as professionals to filter through all of the geology, chemistry, wine tasting party trick techniques, and frankly the bullshit, and then turn it into something sellable.  If  we can’t sell it, we don’t survive.  We know that. By the way, my former colleague called him out on this.  It was entertaining.  Anyway, hopping off of the soapbox.

Monday’s Schedule

New Zealand: Trends for the Future was next.  Led by New Zealand’s own MS, Cameron Douglas, along with MS Andrew McNamara.  This was a neat little seminar.  New Zealand doesn’t have to be all about sauvignon blanc.  In fact, it does have a growing number of varietals coming out of its two little islands, including pinot noir, syrah, a few different styles of chardonnay, riesling, merlot, and malbec.  Go out and find something new from New Zealand.  They’re doing a good job with stuff other than sauvignon blanc.

Niagara was next, and what I was looking forward to the most for the day.  Having moved to the region I was eager to learn what it had to offer… and I was very pleasantly surprised.  MS John Szabo chose to focus on the expression of the area’s terroir, and showed only pinots and chards.  They were very nice wines, and they were a lot better that I had expected from such a relatively young region.  These are certainly wines worth checking out – especially if you do a little research and see who’s doing it right. See which ones we tasted and go from there.

Monday’s Schedule Continued

The Cabernet Franc seminar was a hoot.  The group of MS’s that ran that panel were having way too much fun.  Not much about the grape or regions, but the wines were very good.  I was very excited about the 2000 Alzero, the Chinon, La Jota… hell all of them were fun wines.  One of the presenters had a fun slip of the tongue too, but I won’t embarrass her any more.

Finally, the last of the sessions for the weekend – Leonetti Cellars retrospective.  Leonetti is one of the founding wineries in Washington and the wines showed exactly why .  We stared with a 1985 ‘Reserve’ cab that was still showing nicely.  The 2000 was the winner for the flight though and was absolutely stellar.  There were some great merlots as well, and some sangiovese of theirs that has become popular for them.  I wasn’t a fan of the sangio’s but that’s just my opinion.  If you ever have a chance to have any of the Leonetti wines, enjoy them.  They’re not cheap, and they’re not regularly available.

We then snuck out to a quick dinner at Charlie Palmers, and had a tasty 3 course dinner.  The Monday of Texsom perfectly coincides with Dallas Restaurant week, so we saved a bit of cash doing their pre fix menu.  We were hoping that their regular menu was available, but our dinner was good.  We had an Austrian riesling to start, that was solid – at the end of the meal when it warmed up enough, and an ’04 Cornas that was very good… I wish I could remember whose it was.  Dinner was an heirloom tomato salad, a dry rubbed and grilled flat  iron steak on a bed of caramelized onions (which was very good), and whipped chocolate and chocolate donuts for dessert.  I highly recommend you go to Charlie Palmers on a Monday night for their 1/2 price wine night.  The food was pretty darn tasty, even if the service left some serious room for improvement.

We then rushed back to the Four Seasons for the Grand Tasting and the awarding of Texas’ Best Sommelier. The wines were good, and the award ceremony was good.  I didn’t know the winner, but I was glad to see someone that got his ass kicked 4 years ago when I first competed take 3rd.  Good for him sticking through it. It’s a very hard competition.

We finished off the night with way too much fun.  Pete and I went through a few bottles of Jester King (Drinkin’ in the Sunbelt, and Boxer’s Revenge), then headed down to the bar and joined the party.  He brought down some Rahr to follow up my Campari and soda, which was promptly followed up by a cigar to accompany Jester King’s Black Metal Stout – which we didn’t finish.  The JK was interrupted by a MS joining us and bringing along a friend with a bottle of 03 German riesling, Kistler’s Cuvee Cathleen, Sonoma Valley, and Cuvee Elixabeth, 1982 Ch. Desmirail Margaux, and 1982 Ch. Saint-Pierre Saint Julien.   After that particular MS left for bed, we began to debate about traditional and new methods of maintaining terroir (dirt).  We argued long enough, to realize that the Hippie MS from the Oregon seminar was on the terrace above us.  We all got up (I believe there were 4 of us), and plopped down to join him and get his opinion (more arguing about dirt).  It was a good night.

As usual, great nights make for rough mornings.  Fortunately, I rarely partake in such extravagant nights of indulging, but the company and place were perfect for it.  I always fear the next day.  Somehow, I woke up – without an alarm – with time to spare in getting ready for my 8 am taxi ride to the airport.  My travel companion took the night off and was in good form.  No problems whatsoever on the day’s travel, which is good because my head may have exploded otherwise.

It’s good being home finally.  The apartment is nearly finished, but I suppose more importantly the job hunt has begun.

.

Drink well!

~ the Hungry Wino

.

Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.
~ Confucius

Hello all,

Since most of you aren’t in an area where the Growler is distributed, I have linked three of my four articles below.  I expect the 2nd of issue #2 soon, and I have 2 more for the October issue that are on the editors desk for finalization. Feel free to peruse the site as well!

Issue #1, June:

A Visit to Rahr Malting

The Pint Law, a Year Later

Issue #2, August:

New Beginnings for an Old Brewery

Cheers!

~the Hungry Wino

.

“Not all chemicals are bad. Without chemicals such as hydrogen and oxygen, for example, there would be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer.”
-Dave Barry

Minneapolis has been a fun experience for us at the new Hungry Wino HQ.  Beer is king here, but the ‘King of Beers’ rarely makes an appearance that’s really worth much.  Local is the way to go, and the community supports the little guys wholeheartedly.

In a year of change, a lot has happened.  And there’s about to be more.  We have made a few friends here, including our neighbors who happen to be carnivorous foodies in a very much vegetarian hippie locale.  I’m going to be paid real money to write a few articles for an upstart beer periodical. I worked for a brewery. The second annual Texas Beer Festival went swimmingly.  I am an original employee (though not paid, but I don’t mind for this one) for an upstart business called the Better Beer Society.  We (all Cicerones), certify bars and restaurants that know how to serve beer properly, and we consult for those that strive to do so.  We also host some awesome beer tasting events.  Image

Now, we’re moving to Toronto at the end of July.  The Hungry Winette is simply that awesome at what she does.  I’m psyched to go also.  I’ve visited Toronto before and thoroughly enjoyed the city.  It will be a fantastic opportunity for me to push my skills as an expert in alcoholic beverages to the next level.  That’s why I’ve started studying wine again.  To be more specific, I’ve started studying for my Advanced Sommelier Certification.

This level of knowledge is exponentially more difficult to gain than the Certified.  It goes beyond just knowing facts (though I still have to know all of the great French wines by heart), and digs in to knowing why those facts exist. Causality. (Hmm, that word looks an awful lot like Casualty.) The studying is going alright so far.  Though it has been interrupted this week due to last minute writing assignments (real money!) from the new magazine.  No complaints, but I need to review my week of Bordeaux and get on to Burgundy.

Our neighbors are helping me study, too.  They enthusiastically embraced the suggestion that I made to let me blind taste wines at our Monday night dinners.  Our first week went pretty well, too.  We did Chardonnays, and I was two for four.  That may mean 50% for you, but the two that I got, I nailed down to fairly specific regions and was within one year on the vintage.  I was happy with it, especially since I haven’t done a blind tasting in years.  The gang learned a lot too.  Chardonnay is fun stuff if you get out of your comfort zone and try something French, or South African, or simply not big brand California.  We had a really good Argentine that was a surprise.  I still love the french stuff most.

Hopefully, when we get to Toronto I am employable at one of the finer wine establishments in the area.  My former boss, and Master Sommelier, was kind enough to connect me to a couple of places.  They’re swanky, and they look like great opportunities that I can learn from.  That’s another reason that I’m studying.  It’s been over two years since I’ve really played with high end wine, and I need to be solid when I get to an interview.

Change is the biggest constant in our lives, and the HQ keeps being relocated.  I wouldn’t change it for the world.  It’s pushed us closer together, and widened out perspective on life. Experience is a fun thing to have. The more varied, the better the stories you get to tell, and the bigger life seems.

I’m off to Rahr Malting today in Shakopee.  Got stuff to learn.  Articles to write.  Maybe beer to drink.

.

Until next time, sports fans.

~the Hungry Wino

“And now,” cried Max, “let the wild rumpus start!”
― Maurice SendakWhere the Wild Things Are

I was caught in the middle of a chick flick… when suddenly, out of nowhere a Croque Monsieur appeared!  Oh it looked good and I decided then and there that I must have it.  I checked online for a few recipes to get a baseline for the endeavor and found that there are several variations.  Many cheap out on the bechamel and do more of a Monte Cristo  style of sandwich – basically french toasting it by battering the bread or the whole sandwich in an egg and or milk wash and griddling it.  I couldn’t do that.  Bechamel is too easy to cheap out on.  Besides it’s the easiest of the mother sauces, and that’s coming from someone that breaks most of his sauces.

For those of you who do not know, a Croque Monsieur is basically a fancy pants ham and cheese sandwich, covered in cheesy white sauce, and baked.  I don’t like ham and cheese sandwiches, but this is different.  This sandwich is awesome.

We procured some country-style french bread and some farm fresh milk from the farmers market, some cave-aged Gruyère, and thinly sliced ham from the grocery store, and made a date.  Sunday night was the night.  We sliced the bread by hand, and toasted it in the oven.  Dijon was spread on each slice, and then the slices were topped alternatively with the ham and shredded Gruyère.  Assembly took place, the sandwiches placed on a baking sheet, and there they were made into Croque Monsieur.  Gruyère and parmesan laced Bechamel with a bare sprinkling of cayenne, was poured over the top of the sandwich.  Why stop there?  More Gruyère and a kiss of parm were shredded and put on top.  The little tease of a sandwich was then put into an oven and baked, and then broiled.

Croque Monsieur

Yes, it was awesome… and yes, you needed utensils.

Discussion was had regarding what would pair well.  Afterall, we had moderately smelly Gruyère, and the ham.  There were several options that were thrown around, but in the end we settled for a Sauvignon Blanc.  I was looking for something French to connect a bit more to both the cheese and ham, but I’d had most of what the liquor store had available, and didn’t want to pay $30 for a bottle.  We reluctantly strolled over to the American section and I found an old friend for a decent enough price.  Duckhorn’s second label, Decoy.  Decoy’s Sauvignon Blanc is deliciously refreshing and crisp.  And it had what I needed to cut through the fat in the sandwich – acid.  It wasn’t so much of a huge tropical fruit bomb that comes out of a lot of Napa Sauv Blancs, but it did have some melon, grass, and citrus.  What I appreciated was a little salinity and good minerality, which worked quite well with the ham.  Good stuff.

This is definitely something that we will do again.  Though, I think I will do something different next time.  I think I’ll do it casserole style.  You know, a little sauce in the bottom of a buttered dish, sandwiches filling it up, and covered with more sauce and cheese.  Yeah, yeah… that sounds good.

Droolingly yours,

~ the Hungry Wino

.
"Mildred: Whatll you folks have today? 
Professor Hubert Farnsworth: Ill have some Soylent Green, with a slice of Soylent Orange and some Soylent coleslaw. 
Mildred: Huh? 
Leela: [whispering] Its the 20th century, Professor. 
Professor Hubert Farnsworth: Oh, right. Ill have a croque monsieur, the paella, two mutton pills, and a stein of mead. 
Leela: Ill just have a small injection of Fem-a-slim. 
Mildred: Uh, two chili dogs comin right up."
~ Scene from Futurama, the Movie

Happy IPA Day!

Greetings Hop Heads!

Today was the FIRST ANNUUAL IPA Day!  What’s IPA day you ask?  Well, I am very pleased to say that this fine day was created to promote craft beer.  The Beer Wench, a fellow blogger, was influenced by the wine industry and their varietally chosen non-government affiliated holidays such as “Chardonnay Day,” and thought to herself, why not beer?

Well, I must say that I am fully in support of such a day that promotes the delicious elixir that is… craft beer.  And to celebrate, I have chosen two beers to showcase for you today.

First is the 21st Amendment‘s Hop Crisis Imperial IPA.  This is a limited release beer from 21st Amendment and happened to come out not too long ago.  The brew presents itself with a pale orange hue and a large fluffy white head with great retention.  The nose is fantastically aromatic with citrus fruits like lemon and grapefruit, as well as a little guava…or is it mango?  There is little to no malt or yeast aroma to the nose, which is perfect for this particular style!

21st Amendment Hop Crisis Imperial IPA

On the palate, the Hop Crisis is remarkably balanced, without straying from the hop focus.  The kiss of caramel is countered with the citrus notes and a piney resin character typical of an American IPA.   This is a delicious IPA that is easy to get lost in.  Yummy.

Thank you to Master Wigington for our taste of Texas this evening.  A couple cans of Austin Beerworks Fire Eagle American IPA showed up at our doorstep yesterday, and for a brand spanking new brewery, it’s pretty darn good!   This IPA pours honey-orange and clear, with a fine white head.  The hops are again the star with citrus, and a bit of grass and pine.

Austin Beerworks FIre Eagle American IPA

The first sip of this Austin Beerworks brew came across with quite a bit of caramel at the front of the palate, but then faded into the bitterness of hop deliciousness.  Thank you Austin Beerworks, and thank you Clif and Karen.

.

Hoppy IPA day everyone!

~the Hungry Wino

.

“A fine beer may be judged with only one sip, but it’s better to be thoroughly sure.”

~Czech Proverb

What a Town

Ladies and Gents, we’re going to be in great shape.  We’ve settled into the Uptown district of Minneapolis, and are literally living fifty yards off of Eat Street (the local name for Lake Street).  The food selection is much better than I had anticipated, there are numerous liquor stores whose wine selections vary greatly in both selection and price, and the beer… oh the beer selection is incredible.

We have finally finished most of the unpacking in our new home, and I’m still on the job hunt, so stay tuned for more frequent updates.  This is our first truly free weekend in Minneapolis, so we’ll see what happens!

.

In the meantime, I’ve tasted a few of Lift Bridge Brewery’s brews this week.  They make several others, but I got my hands on the Farm Girl, Chestnut Hill, and the Minnesota Tan.  I suppose that this was a fortunate procurement, seeing that their bottles should be coming off of the shelves temporarily due to some unfortunate circumstances with their contract brewer, Stillwater (who I still need to seek out).  Stillwater does several contract brews for other breweries (a somewhat common occurrence) and one of their other companies simply has more demand that Lift Bridge, so they’re getting left out for the time being.  Understandably, they’re not too happy about the circumstances, but their beers are still going to be available on draft since their home brewery does all of the keg brewing.  More info about this here.

Anywho, on to the beers!

We’ll start with the Minnesota Tan.  This beer is a Belgian Style Tripel brewed with Lingonberries.  I found the beer to be hazy with a golden straw hue and a thin white head of mediocre retention.  The nose was that of sour fruit… yeah, lingonberry.  There were also notes of granny smith apple, sour cherries, and unripe raspberries.  There was very little yeast characteristic (which my knowledgable salesman disclosed), with only a hint of malt character.  Smells like a lambic.

The palate was hot (obvious presence of alcohol – which is not listed on the bottle).  The tart berries come through, and that’s really it.  No yeast, no hops, and just a bare hint of a malt backbone.  Kinda like a lambic.

These guys have only been around since 2008.  I think that this beer has some great potential.  And, this is probably the first time I’ve had lingonberry outside of an I-HOP.   I do think that this is certainly more of a lambic than a tripel in style simply due to the tartness, haziness, and lack of yeast character.  No it’s probably not done like a traditional lambic, but I would never call this a tripel in a blind or competition setting.  It’s too tart for a tripel!

.

Next is the Chestnut Hill.  This interesting nut brown ale is brewed with chestnuts and allspice.  I want this for the holidays.  This slaps you in the face with allspice, and follows with clove, honey, whisky barrel, and something sour.  Actually it reminds me of bitters.  I dig this beer.  It would make a great digestive after a holiday meal, or just a fun beer to throw into a traditional holiday dinner .

I did expect more malt on the palate for the style, but it’s growing on me.  I like the bitterness on the finish, and the spice comes all the way through to the finish.

This isn’t what I was expecting but I think it could be fun.

.

Finally, we tried the Farm Girl Saison.  Saisons are cool beers in my opinion.  They’re rustic, dry, and can be very complex.  Lift Bridge’s example is not too shabby either.  This particular example is a golden-honey-shaded beer is hazy and has a fine white head.

The nose is yeasty, with hints of clove and a little of that saison funk.  From there it gets a little herbal and grassy, leaning towards hay.  There is also a pleasant caramel note as well and a kiss of lemon.

The palate is dry with a pleasant bitterness that balances out at more proper temperatures.  The grassiness cuts through to the palate and it finishes up with the lemon.  Oh and there’s that kiss of funk too.  Anyone still got a Tower of Power album?  Yeah, I didn’t think you would… that may be too funky anyway.

Lift Bridge has several other beers that I haven’t gotten my hands on yet, but the Farm Girl  is my favorite of the three that I’ve had so far.  I think it’s the closest as far as stylistic accuracy, though a little simple, and a pretty good drink.  Naturally… there’s more to come.

There are a lot of breweries here.  This is going to be such fun!

.

What do  you think of the new layout?

~ the Hungry Wino

.

If you were to come to Minnesota, I could have you locked up like that. That’s power. 

~Jesse Ventura