About this Blog

Welcome to Po'Nutrition Fax! This blog is about alcohol - it has nothing to do with health or wellness, and the only relationship between this and Edgar Allen Poe is that he was an alcoholic.

I used to work in a liquor store and developed a taste for all different types of booze. As my collection grew, I felt the need to share my knowledge of, interest in, and experiences with my purchases - from the standards (e.g. whisk(e)y, gin) to the less-than-standard (e.g. kirschwasser, raki). You'll also find a lot on beer (another love of mine).

This is not about how much I can drink nor do I promote over-excess of alcohol. As with most blogs, there is some self-reflection included with most of the reviews. The point is to encourage everyone to reflect on what they drink.

Leave comments or ask questions! Also, "follow" me if you like what you read - I am not making money from this blog but if I see more interest in this and hear some feedback, it will encourage me to write more.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Great Divide "Old Ruffian" Barleywine

Thursday March 22nd, 2012 in Buffalo, NY
Sunny and temperatures in the mid-to-high 70's (degrees Fahrenheit)

Saturday March 24th, 2012 in Buffalo, NY
Rain and temperatures in the high-40's-low-50's (degrees Fahrenheit)

At least it's perfect weather for a barley wine.

I purchased this barley wine a couple months ago, but the unseasonably warm weather we've been having here also made the barley wine an unseasonable beer. We were another warm-weather week away from me switching to "Hefe-weisse"time (a.k.a. summertime)! But it's Buffalo, NY so there is always the early-spring fear of an errant cold front drifting out of Canada to ruin our good times; unfortunately, our collective fear materialized into today's weather.

Barley wines are beers with a lot of alcohol (8-12% ABV) in comparison to most other beers. They tend to be a bit malty too. Why so malty? While I've never made one, I assume that in order to get these beers to such a high ABV the brewer needs to make sure there is a lot of malt sugar in the wort (unfermented beer) that can be turned into alcohol; any residual malt sugar would make this a malty beer. However I'm sure it isn't just "malt sugar madness" on the part of the brewer. Yeast can survive (and multiply) beyond 12% ABV so if the yeast were allowed to go much beyond the normal barley wine range, the beer would probably end up a little lighter and drier. The barley wine is a cold weather beer so it has to be big. The excessive amounts of malt sugar not only ensures that the ABV reaches a certain point, but it adds to the "weight" of the beer too. As the grey clouds hang down from the sky and the temperatures drop, these dual burdens seems lighter with a barley wine in hand.

While I cannot go into too much detail on this beer (I ruined my palate with my dinner earlier this evening with some chorizo), I can say that it is what a good barley wine should be: big, malty, bitter, and I've already got a small buzz from only half this 22oz. bottle. As always, well played, Great Divide Brewing Co.

While I lament the change in the weather, this barley wine may just lift my spirits.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Bentley Cocktail

Calvados and Dubonnet Rouge make a Bentley? Shouldn't it be called a Peugot?

I bought some calvados a couple of weeks ago because I'd never had it before. For the uninformed, calvados is an apple brandy from the Basse-Normandie region of France. Depending on the appellation, it can be single or double distilled in either a pot or column still. They use hundreds of apple varieties and some even use a non-majority percentage pears! Like other French brandies, calvados is aged in oak barrels for a minimum of two years too.

I purchased this Roger Groult Reserve Calvados. After a couple of snifters I thought to myself "how else can I drink this?" - since I don't want to let it die slowly. I grabbed my girlfriend's cocktail handbook and looked up, under ingredient calvados, what drinks I could make. The options were limited although, for some reason, I didn't think to look under apple brandy too. Nevertheless I flipped to a simple, yet delicious looking Bentley Cocktail. It had two ingredients: calvados and Dubonnet Rouge. Unfortunately, I had no Dubonnet Rouge so another trip to the liquor store was in order.

Fast forward another week and I have my Dubonnet Rouge now. Dubonnet Rouge is similar to sweet vermouth - it is a sweet fortified red wine that is to be enjoyed as an aperitif, or pre-dinner drink, to awaken the senses. After having sipped the Dubonnet Rouge, I figured that this Bentley would be similar tasting to a Sweet Manhattan - and I was correct. Although the Bentley does not use Angostura Bitters (like a Manhattan) it is made from an oak-aged spirit and a fortified red wine (like a Manhattan):

Bentley Cocktail:
2:1 Calvados to Dubonnet Rouge.
Lemon twist to garnish

Shake with ice in a cocktail shaker and pour into chilled martini glass.

While, overall, it is similar to the Sweet Manhattan, the calvados imparts a tart-apple finish to this cocktail. I wonder if one could make a "Perfect" Bentley using both Dubonnet Rouge and Blanc? Nevertheless, the Bentley is delicious and a good thing to try if you want to swim out of the doldrums of yet another boring, old Manhattan.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tiny Football Coaches Give Bad Advice

There are a few people in the world whose advice and suggestions should be ignored: religious extremists, political extremists, and tiny people.

I'm not talking about people with dwarfism (normally cast as elves or ewoks in movies) but tiny football coaches. You know who I am talking about - they are the ones that demand you drink your beer "ice cold."

If you feel the need to take their advice then may I remind you of this guy:

Gazoo says "serve your beer ice cold"

I was clued into this article about proper beer temperature and greatly offended. While you should be drinking your finer "craft" beers at cellar temperature (55-60 degrees Fahrenheit), I take offense to them referring to the macrobrews as "beer."

Did you ever have a Smirnoff Ice? Look at the label and you'll notice it says malt-based beverage. Guess what? This is how they make those macrobrew "beers" too. Macrobrewers make a "base" malt beverage and turn it into these "malternatives" or "beer" by adding flavors and coloring. Here's a surprisingly good article in the Buffalo News about that sector of the industry. So while it may be "beer" by all legal definitions and standards, it is not beer to me.

For some reason I always feel the need to check reader comments on Yahoo! News. The most resounding critique of the article was that the author shouldn't be telling people how to live their lives and they will drink their beer cold if they want to. A few things:

1. If you want something ice cold after doing yard work or it's just hot, don't drink beer. You are probably dehydrated as it is and beer will make it worse.

2. Click on the "legal definitions and standards" link above. You'll see the standard the U.S. government has set for beer and then you can reassess what beer is to you. If you agree with their standard and how beer is marketed to you, then continue to drink the macrobrews and feel comfortable that you are not being told how to live your life.

3. 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit isn't that warm. While it is comparatively warmer than "ice cold" you are not drinking warm beer.

4. "Beer vs. Wine" is a stupid and fictitious culture war. Craft beers are more expensive because they are a better quality drink. Like beer, there are cheaper alternatives in wine too. This "anti-elitist" opinion of people who take what they drink seriously, want to know what they are drinking, and are willing to spend more on quality is stupid. I spend less on other things (i.e. I rarely go out to eat) so I can spend more on good drinks - it's simple economics.

On second-thought I guess those tiny coaches are giving useful advise - if you to choose to drink those malt-beverages then you should drink them "ice cold." Just don't call them beer - at least around me.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Wasted Fruit Flies

This suggests that even fruit flies will drown their sorrows in a drink from time to time. It's actually a bit more complicated than that (neurotransmitters and addiction) but when mass media gets a hold of scientific papers, it loves to jump to cute conclusions like this:

Friday, March 16, 2012

Trimbach Framboise

Pour vous francophones you may already know that "framboise" is the French word for "raspberry." The fruit, not this:
Well, I'm not entirely sure if the French don't call this "donner une framboise," but Framboise is also the name of a raspberry brandy.

Framboise is not made only from the juice of the raspberry but of the entire raspberry. The raspberries are pressed, fermented, distilled, and bottled. Therefore you get a clear spirit sitting in a fancy-looking bottle with a pretentious font:

Not surprisingly this brandy smells like a raspberry - the whole raspberry... or a whole bunch of raspberries. However do not be fooled by the smell - it is not sweet like a raspberry. This is brandy, so it has some bite to it but has the essence (if you will) of the... raspberry.

You may think I am overusing the word "raspberry" in my description of this brandy. Normally there are other "hints" or "notes" one catches when drinking an alcoholic beverage. That is because you have a lot of different "ingredients" mingling to create different flavors. However, when you have something that is distilled only from fermented raspberries and not aged in oak, you get nothing but raspberries. OK you have yeast here to ferment the sugars into alcohol but any subtly is masked by the overwhelming smell of (you guessed it) raspberries.

Basically if you don't like raspberries, stay away from Framboise. Otherwise it's a great after-dinner brandy - maybe with a cheesecake... or by yourself on a Friday night with nothing better to do but blog about raspberry brandy. Whatever the situation I'm sure you'll raspberry - I mean enjoy.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Irish Coffee - NY Times article

Who is this Patrick Farrell guy? He seems to be writing things very similar to my own posts:

Irish Coffee, American Ingenuity

I'm not claiming my style is being copied but if he can do it for a living, why can't I?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Great Lakes Brewing Doppelrock

The label is reason enough to buy this beer

Springtime is Bock Beer time. The bock, an early spring beer, is a dark-roasted, malty lager brewed to help you get out of your winter funk. The first bock I remember trying was called Spring Fever from Custom Brewcrafters (CBs) out of Upstate New York. This was early in my non-mass-market beer drinking days (when I stopped drinking Budweiser and the like...) and it shaped my sense of what a bock beer was supposed to be like. Ever since then, bocks have been hit and miss. Ayinger Celebrator: great. Troegs Troegenator: not so much. Consequently while I look forward to bocks, I don't know what I should really be expecting from the style. I honestly don't know why I look forward to them so much?

That being said, you may completely dismiss my opinion of this beer. However, I'd like to think that I have too much respect for the style and can, consequently, be overly critical in my analysis of bock beers.

Great Lakes Brewing Company happens to be my favorite brewery. Maybe it's a Rust Belt thing? Or their commitment to "being green?" Or that they just make delicious beer - like this one!

Doppelrock is, not surprisingly, a Doppelbock. Doppel because it is stronger than a normal bock - although it seems as though Doppelbock is the standard so why bother with the distinction? Anyway, it is not very heavy with the smokey, roasted-malt flavors of other bocks but with hints of black cherry, cocoa powder and hazelnuts. It has a long finish and reminds me of the pleasure I experienced when I first had Spring Fever. Therefore it passes my "bock" test.

My only complaint - where's the goat? Bock is also German for "goat" so most bock beers have a goat on the label. Is the guy giving the Ronnie James Dio "goat" in the crowd the "goat" Great Lakes uses on their label? If so, then that is pretty clever.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Wasmund's Single-Malt Whisky

I've been thinking chiefly about this bottle since I started writing about what I drink. As I noted in that first post, I've got a lot of almost-empty bottles on my drink cart. A common misconception about liquor is that once the bottle is open it will not spoil. While true that it won't "spoil" like milk once opened it will still oxidize. Albeit it is not as noticeable in liquor as it is with wine but it still happens. This is especially noticeable if you have something that was barrel-aged (e.g. brandy, whiskey): there will be accumulation of sediment at the bottom of the bottle. If not immediately noticeable, give the bottle a quick swirl and your booze becomes slightly turbid. As you watch this cyclone of your slowly dying liquor spin in the center of your last few sips, you'll probably say to yourself "This is too much for one sitting but I can't let my *drink of choice* die like this!" As General MacArthur said "Liquors don't die, they fade away"... or something like that.

So what to do? John Hansell, the editor of Malt Advocate, suggests discussing how to preserve the last few drops of whisk(e)y amongst friends... over the last few drops of whisk(e)y:

"Just drink it, asshole"

While I agree and I have friends that enjoy whisk(e)y, it's not like I can call them up last-minute and invite them over to finish a bottle of whisk(e)y. In addition, my girlfriend isn't a daily-drinker like this guy*, nor is she much of a whisk(e)y drinker for that matter, so following this sage advise isn't possible. Therefore, my only choice is to wait until the right occasion to finish it myself - like sitting alone in my apartment on a Friday night! Tonight is the night to kill my Wasmund's Single-Malt Whisky.

No, I did not spell "whisky" incorrectly here. This American whisky is made in the Scottish tradition of single-malt whiskies (so it is spelled as the Scots spell it). It is malted barley that is smoked, not over peat, but Apple and Cherry woods. It has that nutty and smoky flavor of a traditional single-malt but the fruit woods add a distinctly "American" flavor to it - and by "American" I mean innovative/different, not "fruity." Be forewarned, it is only aged for four months so it has some heat to it, but it's not excessively harsh. Added bonus: it's relatively cheap for a single-malt (usually retails for $30-35).

Plus the distiller comes from my hometown.

*I stole this daily-drinker joke from this dude I used to work with... it's a great joke, credit is due!