June 26 – July 2: Week In A Glass

It’s been a week of good drinking, there’s no denying that. Here’s the breakdown.

Not A Single Bad Pour

The first thing I noticed about this week is that I liked everything I drank. That doesn’t always happen. It especially doesn’t happen during a week when I’ve had a lot to drink. And I drank many different things this week.

White, rose and two types of red wine. One beer. The other comes in a generic can.

Beer

Hermit Thrush Brewery (Brattleboro, VT); Tall, Dark & Handsome. Hermit Thrush is a great little spot across the state from me. But because I live at the bottom of VT that means it’s only about 45 miles. I popped in a few weeks ago and brought home cans that have been sitting in the fridge. They source their ingredients locally from sustainable farms and use them to make sours. I know, I know… so trendy. But, to be fair, I’m late to the trend.

Described as “a Belgian take on a classic English style” it’s definitely a sour for sour lovers. The color and aroma are killer — a sort of brown ruby and a cloud of honey. You can taste the barrel aging, and there are lots of other complex tastes. But it’s balanced. There’s caramel, there’s malt, there’s fruit, there’s spice. It comes together into a great experience. I had a can on Tuesday solo after work and then on Wednesday I shared one with a friend.

Hermit Thrush Brewery (Brattleboro, VT); Cuvee 2016. I didn’t taste this one while at Hermit Thrush (it wasn’t on tap) but I did bring home a four pack. At nearly $18/can I can see why some would be hesitant but here is what I will say: it’s worth it. Maybe not all the time. But if you’re looking for an exceptional beer, it’s definitely going to meet the need.

A cuvee is a mix of the best of a brewer or vintner’s best products to create a melange that often ends up being better than any single beverage on its own. This one is no exception. It was more rounded and complex than the TD&H but that one is still an exceptional and will likely be my can of choice the next time I pass through town. Enjoyed sharing this one on Wednesday.

Brown’s (Walloomsac, NY); #Whatitis IPA. Brown’s is all about juicy IPA’s lately. This one made me really nervous because they list it as having a “super soft mouthfeel” and all I could think was “buttery Chardonnay” which is one of my least favorite things in the world. Nope. Not at all.Brown's #Whatitis IPA

Brewed with a LOT of orange it is super hoppy on the nose and in flavor but also crazy smooth. Like wow. I love hoppy beers and this one is no exception even though I was worried it would be. I recommend grabbing some in a can if it’s available. And if you’re close enough, go try it before its gone. I enjoyed mine with the taco of the day: corn tortilla, ground beef, arugula, jalapeno, cheddar, hot sauce.

Wine

I drank quite a bit of wine this week.

So This Happened…; 2015 White Wine Blend California. This white from Winc (formerly Club W) was exceptional. Mostly dry but round, and very floral I really enjoyed this one on its own. The tasting notes say it’s got tropical fruit but I didn’t get that. Super quaffable and, take note, supposedly this one pairs well with Chinese — people are always asking me what to drink with Chinese. I never know.  Trust the experts at Winc.

Summer Water; 2016 Central Coast Rose. Remember the huge fuss when this was coming out last year? Like WOW. I remember leaving a note for the housesitter that said, “You can drink anything in the wine fridge except the Summer Water!” and an additional post it note on the bottle saying, “Please don’t drink.” People were raving. RAVING! It had come right before I was heading out of town and I didn’t want any to go to waste. So I waited until we got back. And I hated it. I’m generally not a big fan of rose. And last summer’s Summer Water reminded me of that.

This year’s collaboration between YES WAY ROSE and Winc, however, was excellent. It could be that my palate is changing. It could be that the grape is expressing differently. It’s got some berry and grapefruit on the nose and is nice and crisp. The grapes are picked early in the season so there’s a nice acidity. Supposedly this pairs well with Sushi. I enjoyed it chilled a little colder than necessary on its own. The flavor was exceptional as it warmed up. But it didn’t have time to warm up much.

Restless Earth; 2016 California Grenache. Everything about this wine was right. The pretty ruby hue, the fruit (it’s a no oak fruit BOMB) throughout, and the silky feel. The grapes are grown in the Santa Barbara Highlands which means there are some pretty crazy temperature swings.

I enjoyed this one with dinner. Kind of a spontaneous thing. I sauteed some italian sausage (out of the casing, crumbled) while roasting halved cherry tomatoes. When the sausage was cooked I kept it in the pan and used the grease to saute sliced baby bellas and red onion. I likely added some oregano since I put it in everything. I mixed it into some cooked penne with the tomatoes and let’s just say this wine was the perfect pairing. Definitely works with strong tastes and would be one I’d reach for with pizza.

Sterling Vintner’s Collection; 2015 California Cabernet Sauvignon. I’ve been a fan of Sterling since summer ’00 when I tried it for the first time. It was probably my first foray into California reds (weird, I know!). I visited a few years ago and hope to get there again in November when I’m in wine country.

Ultra lush, black fruit with some sweetness from vanilla that is cut with spice this is a lotta wine in your glass. An excellent choice with food. I enjoyed it with some charcuterie and especially enjoyed it with some super plump olives. Also in my charcuterie: local hydroponic cherry tomatoes, horseradish cheddar, goat cheese, brie, strawberries and granny smith apples. Also some sliced baguette. The granny smith was disappointing… totally traveled too far to my grocery store. The mix of baguette/goat/olive and baguette/brie/apple were killer. Could have used some honey. I’ll remember that next time.

Ethical Eating/Drinking Tip of the Week

Keep it local. A lot of times people say they cannot afford to eat/drink ethically. I’m convinced this happens when they think that doing so means shopping at Whole Foods. But, believe me, it doesn’t. I don’t shop at Whole Foods. But I do try to get my food as locally as possible. Here’s why. When you eat/drink local, you:

  • Limit the use of fossil fuels. Local means a hell of a lot less transport. If you can stop at a brewery or vineyard when driving by you erase a significant amount of footprint. Same for shopping at the farmer’s market or local farm stand.
  • Support your local economy. When you spend your money locally, more of it stays in your community. You spend it at the local farm, they spend it at the local restaurant, it goes into a local person’s paycheck, they pay their babysitter. When you shop at big box and corporate stores much of the money goes out of your community, usually your state, and often enters into politics.
  • Get a better meal. I was talking to a local grower the other day and while expounding on our shared love of butternut squash he asked where I had gotten mine (I mentioned I ate some that week). I was mortified that my answer was “Price Chopper”. But it’s summer. And I was in the mood for butternut squash. He said, “It probably came from Mexico.” Think about the amount of time it would take to drive from Mexico to southern Vermont. It’s a long time. But when it’s grown here? The flavors are better. Try to eat locally and in season to have the most delicious experience.

 

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