July 3 – July 9: Week In A Glass

7/10: I’m having trouble uploading pictures to my WP gallery but didn’t want to put off posting this any longer. I’ll try to add the images later this week.

Another great week of good drinks!

Unique Wines And New Beer

This week was insane for me. Between writing and working and all the travel I’m doing today through next Sunday, I had a lot on my plate to get done. That said, I still enjoyed several delicious bottles including some interesting wine and some new (to me) beer.

Beer

Two Roads Brewery (Stratford, CT); Honeyspot Road IPA. I had my first Two Roads beer a few months ago when in NYC for a weekend. It was a passionfruit gose. And it was GOOD. We were in Hartford yesterday for Connecticon (where we played in the National Qualifier Pandemic Survival Tournament) and had some time so we popped over to Bear’s Smokehouse Barbecue. This beer caught my eye and I’m glad I went with it. I used to avoid wheat beers but as my palate has expanded I’ve discovered I’m better at recognizing when I might like something I don’t traditionally like.

This 6% ABV IPA is unfiltered so it is pretty much a glass of gold. A really gorgeous yellow. It has a soft mouthfeel thanks to the wheat. The citrus from the hops balances the softness nicely. It’s not surprising that this brew took home the gold for American Wheat at both the 2013 and 2015 GIBF.

For those new to IPAs or who are put off by overly dank or hoppy beers, this is a great example of the many ways the style can take shape. It’s also a great summer beer for hop lovers.

I enjoyed two of these with lunch and it worked well. Bear’s has incredible wings and we got 4 as part of a free Yelp check-in deal. Then we split a brisket sandwich on a potato roll and small side of mac and cheese. The beer wasn’t a palate killer and instead accentuated the food really nicely. It would also pair beautifully with cheese.

Harvest Brewing (Bennington, VT); ESB. Harvest is pretty much downstairs from me. Downstairs and two doors down. That’s all it takes for me to get to incredible beer, local fresh food, good live music and a great mix of Bennington peeps. The beers are a mix of Vermont and nearby beers (we border MA and NY so it’s easy for us to get beer from other states) as well as those brewed by the owner, Sean. That’s the case with the ESB.

I’m not generally a huge ESB fan. I don’t dislike the style, I just find that many brewers don’t get the balance right. Last night Harvest was hopping and I didn’t get down there until late which meant there were several kicked taps. I wasn’t in a cider mood so I ordered the ESB. And it was fantastic. Sean’s got a good batch here with nice mouthfeel, soft without being buttery although there is a slight note of diacetyl, but in the way it should be with an ESB. I’m going out on a limb to say this one is exception because I’m also not a huge fan of beers on nitro and this one is.

Proof I’m not a fan of nitro: in Hartford yesterday Bear’s had Founder’s Rubaeus on nitro and I turned it down. I’m not sure I’ve ever turned down Founder’s before.

Citizen Cider (Burlington, VT); Lake Hopper Dry-Hopped Cider. I was never a cider drinker until one or two summers ago when I first tried Citizen Cider. I’m happy to have joined the club. I think a lot of my transition is owed to the fact that Citizen Cider uses hops in their cider. This particular variety uses Cascade hops. The color is light and very clear, but you won’t see through your glass because of the heavy carbonation which adds to the refreshing character.

I enjoyed this today with chips and Rattlesnake salsa, our neighbors, and Kris.

Wine

Another fantastic week of wine. It started with finishing off the Sterling red wine I enjoyed last week.

Ruza; 2016 Lodi Sparkling Rosé. Winc comes through again with an interesting take on a standard. This small batch rosé (wine made from red wine grapes with less skin contact than a red wine) might become my official wine of Summer 2017. Sustainably produced and canned it’s portable. But the allure of this wine goes far beyond that. It’s also really, really tasty. The nose is floral, bordering on perfumy. It’s dry with grapefruit, dried flowers and a hint of sweetness that’s not quite vanilla. There are berry notes that creep up at the start of the finish. Throughout a tasted something very specific.

Remember in the 80’s and 90’s when your grandma kept candy in her pocketbook? She probably had the lozenge shaped strawberry candy wrapped in red plastic with white dots. The twisted top of the wrapper was green. Strawberry hard candy with strawberry gooey stuff inside. I thought about that a LOT while drinking this but it was not overwhelming and, again, the wine was dry. A dry rose with a hint of this candy? Why not?

I enjoyed a can of this while on a picnic eating a toasted everything bagel with hummus, cheddar, romaine and red onion from South St. Cafe in downtown Bennington, VT. Later in the week I had a can with a slice of Rosie pizza from Marigold Kitchen in North Bennington, VT. The Rosie has smoked mozzarella, prosciutto, caramelized onion and mushroom. The bubbles and dryness of the wine were the perfect counterpoint. I enjoyed a third can on its own watching the sky change on a gorgeous evening. Vermont skies are beautiful in the evening.

Quattro Mani d’Abruzzo Montepulciano; [YEAR] Italy. Friday night usually means going out to dinner and this Friday night we hit up one of our favorite spots in town: Allegro. Located on the North side of Bennington’s Main Street this cozy spot cooks up phenomenal Italian in an unpretentious environment. Everything about Allegro is great: the service, the food, the wine list. It’s a very popular spot among locals and tourists alike.

The first thing we noticed about this red fwine was the color. A gorgeous ruby hue. I spent far longer than necessary admiring the color before tasting (sorry, Travis!). The nose is fresh, a little young, and all red fruit. Flavor follows much the same with red fruit on the palate and a soft mouthfeel. Really excellent.

I paired this fresh red with eggplant meatballs, which was a great combo. I broke all the rules and also had it with my pasta which had a light alfredo sauce, chicken, asparagus, tomatoes and spinach. While a white may have gone better this red wine was not a bad pairing.

Before heading to Harvest last night I enjoyed a glass of this on its own while doing some writing. It’s excellent on its own.

Au-de-la; 2016 California Pinot Gris. Winc sent an email a while back announcing their (first?) orange wine. Usually I have orange gewurztraminer or chardonnay — it was nice to have a new varietal to try. This bottle is made of a split batch: half of the grapes have extended contact with the skins and half straight to barrel.

Tasted this against a 2016 California Pinot Gris and there was definitely a huge difference. This particular orange wine is not nearly as risky as some of the others I’ve had. There is definitely a presence of tannins and a far less grapey nose. The nose has some eucalyptus and there is stone throughout the palate. I enjoyed introducing this style to two people who’d never heard of orange wine. We didn’t pair anything with it other than the more traditional pinot and a gorgeous night with a fire, good music and conversation. Would be awesome with soft cheese, tart apples and I bet pizza, too.

 

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Ethical Eating/Drinking Tip of the Week

Reuse. If you have as much alcohol in the house as I do you can start to feel pretty guilty about the impact you’re having on the environment. I rinse and recycle all of my bottles and cans but still, I feel like there’s more I can do. One option is to reuse. And with the popularity of upcycling these days, it’s not hard. Lots of decorative and/or functional home goods once served another purpose. Need an example?

Wine bottle incense burner. It’s not a secret I like wine. I was also a hippie in my past life. I base this solely on my love of incense and propensity to skip wearing shoes and hug trees. When I found this wine bottle incense burner on Etsy years back I couldn’t help but purchase it.

Empty wine bottles also make the best candlesticks. I think 90% of the candle holders in my house are wine bottles.

Not into the look of upcycled or repurposed wine bottles? That’s fine. A great way to get green is to rinse your bottles and give them to homebrewers. Buying bottles gets expensive. Corks, on the other hand, are cheap. Find homebrewers in your community and offer up your empty bottles. Wine bottles’ purpose is holding wine. Why should they only experience it once?

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