Saturday, December 19, 2009

Wachusett California IPA

I'm sure not many of you have tried this because you can only get Wachuestt Brewing's new IPA in their mixed twelve packs. It's one of their new brews celebrating their 15th anniversary like the Hometown Haze.

You may be wondering how Wachuestt's California IPA is different form their regular one. The answer is it's an American style IPA, (a more passionate one). It pours with a medium head that quickly dissipates and you'll notice the head is fragrant hops. Taking a sip brings it up a notch because the hops on the palate has more of a bite instead of the floral version in the head. With the strong hops taste the body is crisp and you can feel it in the back of your throat as well. After swallowed and the zest resolves you’re left with a hint of the initial hops.
Wachusett’s new IPA is certainly better than their standard one and I can’t wait for them to put this in its own six pack. It’s a B (good) despite being a little simple because it’s easy to drink and enjoy unlike other intense American style IPAs.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Clontarf Irish Whiskey Classic Blend

I'm obviously a fan of Irish whiskeys with my reviews giving Bushmills good grades. But when I ran out of stock I decided to try something different (and at a lower price point). The Clontarf was on sale so I brought it home and here's my review.

Compared to other liquors this has a rather simple and light nose. All I can detect is wheat, but it doesn't have the smell of burning alcohol. With my first sip I could tell this is a full bodied whiskey. The palate reminds me of many chardonnays actually with oak and vanilla, but the malty wheat is still present. Once swallowed it's quite smooth and you're left with the oak and wheat once again. The constant wheat isn't a bad aspect though. On ice the vanilla is brought out much more and the wheat is diluted.

It's rather simple but smooth and I enjoyed it so the Clontarf Irish Whiskey is a B (good). I recommend it to anyone trying to fill their cabinet with a decent Irish product at a good price.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Shipyard XXXX IPA

I've reviewed another one of Pugsley's Signature Series from Shipyard before, the Imperial Porter. It was a very good porter (B), but the American IPA is a very competitive type. It seems every micro brewer has a version of it out. Lets see how Shipyard has done.

There wasn't much effort in opening this, it popped like a champagne bottle. Once it was open it poured a nicely retaining head that was more foamy than crisp like other IPAs and the hops were unavoidable. Besides floral hops citrus was found as well. It's taste was very different with strong hops as expected, but what was unexpected was grapefruit. I never would've thought of it but grapefruit complimented a strong IPA perfectly. A slight taste of yeast and malt was there and it ended with the dryness of hops. Somehow this beer has achieved what other brews have tried, "an intense IPA that isn't hard to put down".

A grapefruit IPA, I liked it. It did not take long for me to settle on grading this an A (excellent). Many would think "XXXX" in the title of an IPA would make it for those who dared to drink it. This is not a beer Shipyard tries to make as hoppy as possible. Watch out Dogfish.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sterling Vintner's Collection Riesling '07

Riesling wine seems to have a small space in stores and it's not a very common choice. It's a shame because it can be a nice change for those who are afraid of white wines that aren't chardonnays. So for those who want to explore, lets see if Sterling Vineyards is a good start to their expedition.

I think is a typical crispy, fruity riesling. It's fragrant with minerals, peach and a citrus acidic crisp. The minerals and peach return in the palate with honey and granny smith apples in the background. In addition to a light body this wine is dry as well, but not like sauvignon blanc. It's a crisp dry that seems to come through the apple and mineral notes. You don't have to worry about puckering while drinking this.

Dry wines can be an acquired taste but this is not. I give Sterling Vintner's Collection Riesling a B (good) because of its satisfying fruity taste, but I don't think it's anything special. For ten dollars it was a fair deal, but I bet there's better ones for this price.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Sebago Lake Trout Stout

Sebago Brewing Company isn't just a fine brewer, but a great restaurant. They have restaurants in and around Portland, ME (my favorite item on the menu is the beer battered fish n' chips), and they're distributed through New England. So if you're passing through Portland or find this at your local beer supplier, pick it up. You won't regret it.

The midnight color and creamy head of this hints at the potent experience it gives you. It smells of toffee up front with coffee in the back and with enough movement, hops. Its thick, smooth and creamy body outdoes other stouts somehow, just more robust in a way. The palate tastes of roasted barley that mimics coffee and chocolate but there is hops as well to create an enjoyable equilibrium. This is a balanced stout.

Sebago's Lake Trout Stout is an A (excellent). There's no new approach or taste, just a well done brew.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Peace Coffee Guatemalan Dark Roast

The name of this brand makes it obvious that it's a fair trade product and with a quick inspection of the label you find it's also organic, as most fair trade coffees are. This is all a great thing supporting the world market to have standards like those within America as well as keeping the unnatural pieces away. But you may have read before that I'm more concerned with how much I like it. So here are my thoughts on Peace Coffee's taste.

Wow, this may be my new coffee of choice. This coffee gives an inviting aura of dark chocolate with no bitter or sweet. There is also a smokiness with the chocolate but a "dark" nutty note also exists. The smoky chocolate returns in the taste but this time the bitterness of dark chocolate seems to have replaced coffees. Something else is there but it's hard to find any words that describe it. The best I could say is a "caramelized roast". Its aftertaste leaves you with the dark chocolate, but I want to say this is nothing like a flavored coffee.

I give Peace Coffee's Guatemalan Dark Roast an A (excellent) and will be a coffee I'll try to keep on hand (but I have 5 lbs of coffee already!) This is a great choice for those who want to ease into darker roasts because I found it easy to drink. There is little acidity.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Gold Peak Tea Lemon

Most of the teas I've been reviewing have been products people would need to buy online, so I have something that can be bought at many convince stores. Gold Peak Tea claims they have an award-winning taste and that you'll "experience the true taste of tea". Lets find out shall we?

With a pop twisting open the bottle, I took a sip and I got black tea and lemon. What else would you expect? Well this wasn't. The black tea of this was the kind you bought in a big boxed wrapped in plastic with powdery tea leaves in it. The lemon element was not a fresh zest of citrus either, it was the sweetener somehow. I don't know how they accomplished this but it was like a lemon flavored splenda. Setting it back down I smelled it at the neck of the bottle, the cheap black tea.

Gold Peak Tea is actually a product of the Coca-Cola company, and I think that gives us a clarification of where this fits in. I've bought this a few times before while on the run and I needed a drink. Those times it did its job and I even enjoyed it, but from the perspective of this blog I give it a C (decent).

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Blue Sky Organic New Century Cola

You don't see many organic sodas these days because people concerned with organic foods typically don't drink soda. It's an unhealthy drink. However Blue Sky makes a line of drinks that are all organic so those looking for a little luxury in their liquid diet don't have to give up on being all organic.

Cracking this open showed that there wasn't as much carbonation as Pepsi or Coca-Cola and it didn't take as long to settle. It tastes like other colas; a sticky sweet almost like molasses but it was different because you could tell it was using cane sugar as the bottle read. Compared to the big brands, this cola isn't quite as sweet either. Once finished it leaves you with the sizzle of carbonation and the aftertaste of the cane sugar.

Unfortunately I think I like Coca-Cola better. I give it a C (decent) because being organic and made with cane sugar didn't make it anything but a regular soda. Perhaps cane sugar isn't the right choice for colas because it's lighter in a way. Maybe Blue Sky has a cream soda that works better with cane sugar?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Teavana Sour Cherry

As I stated in Teavana's last review, Teavana is kind of like the Starbucks of tea. It can be found in malls and they will make you a tea to go and while you wait you can try out different samples they have. Today I have a a tea of theirs that has a bluntly descriptive title. My initial thoughts are "yum cherry", and "how sour?"

The smell of this tea unbrewed is quite pleasant with intense cherry and a manageable sour. Once prepared they become more equal, but this isn't for the best. The aura has sour in the back seat still but once sipped they become one element. It has a little too much pucker for me and you're left with a hint of just that in the aftertaste. The actual tea in this is a blend of black and green, but I find them hard to detect. If I didn't know better I would call this a sort of herbal tea.

Perhaps this would be better iced in the summer but I gave it a C (decent) due to the lack of balance and tea taste. Many others with a taste for sour might like this, I don't.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sapporo Premium Beer

I believe this is my first international beer on this blog. Typically when people think of an international beer the United Kingdom and Ireland come to mind, but Sapporo from Japan is what this review is about. I chose this because the fact that it's made from rice intriuged me.

My first impression of Sapporo was a MASSIVE HEAD! While gently pouring down my tipped pilsner glass, it expanded so quick I couldn't drink it fast enough to keep it from overflowing down the sides. The head retained well as a foamy head similar to a stout. After fighting down to drink the beer I found it had a body that was heavier than most lagers, but this wasn't a Budweiser. It tasted grainy which I guess is from the rice and it had a slight inoffensive bitterness. I should also note that it wasn't as carbonated as well-brand American beers despite my first impressions.

This is a fairly bland beer, but I do think it would go well with some sushi. I must admid I'm not a big fan of lagers, but I would buy this again on a hot sunny day when I needed something light to cool me down. It's score is a C (decent).

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Maté Factor Dark Roast

My last review of a maté tea was from the same company as what I'll be reviewing today, The Maté Factor. The benefits of it were amazing but I wasn't a huge fan of the taste. The Maté Factor claims their dark roast "brews a delightfully rich, invigorating cup of tea" so I think this one will please my taste buds on a higher level.

Anyone who would be looking down at this cup I hold could be convinced it was coffee. Like my last cup of maté, the scent has that same plant-ish "green" to it but the roasted feature is easy to spot. The taste however makes it hard to miss. This tastes like a light coffee with a much lighter body and lack of bitterness and acidic taste. The aftertaste leaves you with the ying-yang of green and roast. They both linger pleasantly.

I believe this is where black tea and coffee meet, but with better health. The Maté Factor's Dark Roast has a B (good) taste and is a great way to start the day with anioxidants, energy and even an increase in metabolism! This one will be frequently be in my mug in the morning.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Wachusett Hometown Haze

I recently visited Wachusett Brewing and had a great time touring their brewery and trying samples of their versatile lineup. One particular brew caught my attention though, their only Belgian white ale, the Hometown Haze. Unfortunately his beer isn't in bottles yet though, just on tap. Wachusett Brewery was so kind though to give me a sample to make this blog on though, so here are my thoughts on the new Wachusett Hometown Haze:

With a huge head that slowly receded to something that you could sip through, it had an atmosphere of bananas but light spices could be detected below. Its palate brought out those spices more and I found the malt component to be apart of those somehow. It had a body appropriate for a Belgian ale. Heavier than most ales and lighter than any opaque brew. It finished with the spice but the fruit element returned, but not as bananas. Lastly a note of hops was left as well and I found it to grow slightly as I emptied my glass.

I'm sorry Blue Moon, you have a run for your money. This is a fairly light beer for the Belgian category when compared to tripels and dubbels, but I think this is appropriate because their website states that you'll be drinking it all summer long. I give this a B (good) because the tastes of this beer may be light, but they work togeather well. This is a well balanced brew that will be a great choice for summertime.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sanpellegrino Aranciata

S.Pellegrino's unique "sparkling orange beverage" is a little hard to categorize. Is it juice? One of the top-end waters like their other products? Or soda like the other items in the cooler it's sold in? Well for now lets put that question aside and get to what it tastes like first to answer it afterwords.

It would be easy to assume this was simply orange juice with a quick inspection because it's opaque and yellow-orange in color. And appropriately it tasted quite similar to orange juice but it has more going on, like some lime and a dryness that's something like tonic water. This drink is not nearly as carbonated as tonic water or even sodas, and I think this is a good thing for it. Otherwise it would be something more like Fresca and hide the other elements to it.

To awnser the question of "what is it?" I think it's a cross between soda and juice. S.Pellegrino's website seems to sell it as a compliment to certain meals like wines, but I think it has far more uses as a cocktail component. After trying the raw product I added some gin and found an improvment to the standard gin and tonic. B (good)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Samuel Smith's Organic Cider

Before it gets too late into winter, lets visit a nice seasonal hard cider. Samuel Smith's Organic Cider will be my first malt drink, and rightfully so because it was a fine way to get something seasonally different on my tongue. So if you can find any leftovers of this, here's why you should try it.

Pouring this out of the dark bottle shows that this is a pale cider that smells of sour sweet apples like macintosh and granny smith. The aura also reminded me of some crisper white wines like sauvignon blancs. Tasting it showed a continuation of the crisper theme with a carbonation unlike any beer or soda, and its palate leaned more towards the crisp-sour but in no way that made you pucker. It finished very clear with the crisp liquid rolling down your throat, but a light aftertaste of a green apple.

I think this is a nice change from the typical malt drinks you'd find at the store. It's not super sweet, it fits the season, but it's still easy to drink. I give it a B (good). Samuel Smith's cider is something I'd return to once a year in the fall but it would never be the dominant drink of my fall selection.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Golden Moon Tea Honey Pear

Golden Moon Tea has many excellent teas, flavored and unflavored. Today I'll be reviewing a flavored product that's defined by its name. What should I taste? I think I know, but lets make sure.

With my beginning sniff I didn't detect nearly as much honey as pear, so I took a sip to find it. There wasn't as much as I had hoped. I think the honey isn't as much an elemental flavor as a built in sweetener. This sweet was not the kind I don't like such as the sugar some degrade coffee with, it was the natural kind in things such as fruit and clover or floral honey. Simple black tea was also as much a character as the added flavoring. Swallowing left a light taste of honey though.

As an end note I must say this is a tea I commonly wake up to when coffee isn't the thing. It isn't something I have to contemplate to get the full experience out of. Simple can be a good thing on the go. I give it a dependable B (very good). I say dependable because I've mistakenly over steeped it before and not had a bitter cup.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Jack's Pumpkin Spice Ale

This beer was left in my fridge by one of my friends, who obviously didn't like it because only two of the six pack were gone. It was a free opertunity to get another beer on this site, so here are my thoughts.

Pouring this gave a decent head and actually a little sparkle. Looking through the glass, it had the appearance of a fogy and carbonated beer with lots of bubbles, one of these appearances came to be true to the taste. What a lite beer, and so carbonated that it almost equaled a lager. The actual taste was light and unexciting despite the spices in it but pumpkin was in the front. Not that it tasted bad, it just didn't taste much. I didn't finish it.

After an inspection of the bottle, I realized this was a product of Anheuser-Busch. The score given to this beer would be what I'd give a Bud Lite. F (avoid).

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Warre's OTIMA 10

I've had other ports from Warre, but this one was obviously something a bit different. It comes in a smaller bottle and it has a modern label. Does this mean it'll be better though? I'd hope so because I think it looks cool.

I should note that this has an amazing color to it that changes from orange to rose to a chestnut color depending on your angle. Unfortunatley the nose displayed hardly anything to me, with only a touch of nuts and a reminder that this was alcoholic. After a sip things changed for the better though. The layers of flavors are quite hard to distinguish because they work together, but after some palatal exploration the first thing I found were cherries. The un-pitted dark ones with a "woody" note that matched it well. That woodiness paralleled some brandys as well and lastly the nuts smelled visited again, but I could tell they were almonds this time. The body was far lighter than most ports but still heavy if compared to any typical wine. Lastly it ended with a reminder of the cherries coating the back of your throat.

Warre has a great product here that would compliment many deserts. I give it an A (excellent) due to its fantastic taste and ease of drinking. It would've been an A+ if it had a more enjoyable nose though.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Zhi Tea Sweet Desert Delight

I'll be reviewing a rather unique drink today that is unlike any other tea I've tried yet. Zhi Tea calls their Sweet Desert Delight one of their "Signature Blends". It's a rooibos herbal tea but it has much more to it, and it smells quite intriguing. As soon as my cup finishes steeping I'll see if it can live up to its initial impressions.

Its aura is something like a chai with cinnamon and an overtone of coconut that compliments it quite well. These reoccur in the taste but the nuttiness of the rooibos appears with a sweetness that's different from the cinnamon. It's something like fine sugar which I rarely add to my coffee or tea, but it fits in well here. There's a light aftertaste with the sweetness and a modified nutty flavor that tastes more toasted.

Zhi Tea should be proud of this tea and I believe they are, calling it their "Signature Blend". My fiance found this very enjoyable and gives it her stamp of approval. Now I'm not typically fan of sweeter drinks but, I give it an A (excellent) and think many others would give it an A+.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur

Not to be sexist, but I'm sure many girl's are going to be drawn to and like Bärenjäger (many of my female friends do already). Now who would've thought of making honey liquor? The Germans in the late 1400s of course and Bärenjäger also appropriately translates as "bear hunter". But despite it's history let's get to the point; would you enjoy it?

The first thing I noticed when pouring some of this into a glass was the smell of "sticky" honey. Yes the smell of sticky. I should note that Bärenjäger is actually not fermented honey, it's alcohol content is vodka and after some unsetteling it can be lightly detected. Despite this it tastes of the same honey and the sticky part become the texture as well. After swallowing you're reminded of the alcohol content but somehow it has no repulsive effect.

I don't think that
Bärenjäger would be useful in many cocktails due to its thick body. Visiting the website most of their cocktail recipies use other sweet or creamy liqors, and they had a bartending cometition for creating new recipies. I give Bärenjäger a regular B (good) because it's smooth and easily enjoyable, but it's simple and not something with levels of flavor.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Goya Coconut Soda

Here's an unusual choice for me to review; a Mexican soda. And a coconut soda, who's ever heard of that? So this caught my eye while grocery shopping and here's my thoughts on it.

Opening this I found that there was far less carbonation to this than many American sodas and it didn't fizz so much that I needed to stop while pouring so it didn't overflow. There is no smell to this. Upon tasting it was hard to identify any coconut, it was like slightly sweetened and carbonated water. The coconut only appeared in the aftertaste with big gulps for some reason, and even then it wasn't very noticeable.

Obviously I didn't like this, but it was drinkable so I give this a C (decent). I think Americans have Mexicans beat in the soda industry.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Teavana Jasmie Dragon Phoenix Pearls

Teavana is kinda like the Starbucks of tea. If you've seen one of their stores before, you can order a tea on the go or buy some of their loose tea and try some new ones with samples available. On their best seller list their Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearls are first, and rightfully so.

After steeping for only one minute, the smell of this is surprisingly apparent for a green tea with a floral scent that is hard to describe. It's unlike any air freshener that's sweet or overly "airy-flowery", it's complete and smooth. Once in your mouth it tastes less intense but more "full". Something that's hard to miss as well is the body of this tea, it's smooth and weighted (aka full body). It ends with a vegetable aftertaste that can be common in some green teas.

I recommend this to anyone who's a fan of green or white teas. It's a solid A (excellent) due to the experience given, but it isn't an everyday tea to me. I have this about once a week because it requires your attention to appreciate. Enjoy it while reading a book and going to be, not with a meal or in a cup on the go.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Land O Lakes Mint Hot Chocolate

It's the first day of November so I think it's appropriate to review my first hot chocolate. This selection obviously not from a small company like most of my other reviews, but it was recommended to me by my fiance and is easy enough to find in any grocery store. So here's my thoughts on my first drink concerning mental health for cold weather. Land O Lakes

The back of the package stated that it was a good idea to serve this with some whipped cream on top, but I find it has a little layer of foam already. It smells of the mints they leave for you at restaurants like Olive Garden, (of course it's the same thing, mint and chocolate). Once tasted the same two things return, but the chocolate is very milk chocolate. It's almost as if this was made with milk instead of boiling water. The aftertaste is simple as well and almost non apparent.

This uncomplicated drink reminded me of common products like your standard Hershey's bar and I think children will adore it. I found the perfect word for it to be mediocre, which matched the score of C (decent).

P.S. I realize my fiance likes this because of the memories of her childhood.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Shipyard Pumkinhead

Along with octoberfest brews the other tradition is pumpkin ales, and Shipyard has one with a eye-catching bottle. I review this one in the spirit of Halloween! (I'm listening to The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack as I write this).

Smelling your mug you'd easily be able to determine the theme of this brew blind to the packaging. Pumpkin pie. And not just pumpkin, nutmeg is there as well (what would pumpkin pie be without nutmeg?) Drinking this beer is easy as well with a return to pumpkin and nutmeg but wheat is also detectable. What's missing is what this is, beer. There's only a little wheat on the tongue but no hops, malt or other elements that I enjoy in beer.

I give this one C (decent) but I don't think you all should dismiss it as unworthy. I'm simply not a fan of "fruit flavored" beer such as Wachusett Blueberry Ale or Sam Adams Blackberry Witbier. If you like those or perhaps even some malt drinks, give this one a try.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bogle Merlot '07

I decided on going with a lighter red wine this time because my last was quite heavy. Merlot is a commonly lighter bodied wine, and I've noticed Bogle's merlot to be a big seller at my work. So here's a good red at a great price (~$9.00).

As I sit here sipping my glass and writing notes, I know that my fiance will love this bottle. It's quite velvety all the way through. The nose has a touch of tannins when first poured, but that quickly goes away with notes of raspberries and some sort of herbal spice. I think the palate is a great example of fruit in a wine. Cherries and strawberries are at the front of the taste and you're reminded of the silky body. I find the most interesting part of this wine to be the aftertaste; black tea. There's also a hint of tannins again, but it wont be disturbing to any.

This wine has a versatile and well defined nose, palate, and finish. It didn't take me long to grade it as a B (good). I'd recommend this to any looking to get into red wines or "developing their palate". It's not hard to enjoy at all.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Equal Exchange Love Buzz

I've noticed many starting to care about fair trade coffees. It should be obvious that Equal Exchange's products are fair trade because they made an alternative wording of fair trade their brand name. Not to be selfish, but what's on my mind in the morning is weather or not I like the cup I'm sipping. So here's my review as I sip my morning dose of caffeine.

I must admit the aroma of this coffee was surprising: It smelled like coffee, but also has the smell of tobacco? I was shocked, it wasn't pleasant but not overly unpleasant. So I went on to tasting. Fortunately the tobacco failed to reappear, this time a "brownie-fudge" chocolate took over. The body of the coffee was appropriately fudgy as well, but not full or heavy. The aftertaste left an apparent but not powerful acidity, chocolate, and bitterness at the end.

I give kudos to Equal Exchange for creating an unflavored coffee with flavors that aren't the typical manufactured or fake taste. However, I think I'll be returning to Starbuck's Sumatra as my typical supermarket coffee of choice. I give Equal Exchange's Love Buzz a F (avoid).

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Samuel Adams Coastal Wheat

Some of you might've noticed the new Sam Adams beer available. If you're like me you'd rather know a bit about a beer before you buy a six pack of it. (I only invested in one to write this reveiw.) So as I sit here at my computer analyzing this latest concoction, I'll share my experience of it.

Once cold enough I put the bottle into a pilsner glass and found a foamy head that wasn't as crisp as most lagers or lighter ales. It hastily deteriorated and left some lacing on the glass. It looked like a hazy golden orange and I quickly found that to parallel its taste. It smelled of yeast and citrus and tasted again with yeast pulled to the front and lemon (not any citrus) very noticeable as well. I enjoyed the smell of this more than the taste.

This teatered on B- or C+, but with some though I decided on C (decent). It's a little light for my taste of wheat ales. In comparison to other beers, I'd say Sam's Coastal Wheat is a cross between their summer ale and Blue Moon.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Maté Factor Fresh Green

Some of you may be asking "what is maté?" Well it's a south american infused drink like tea with far more caffeine than tea, so it's also a common coffee alternative. Others drink it for its health benefits such as; antioxidants, vitamins, weight-loss, and a hunger suppresant. If you'd like more info on this check out Wikipedia's article on it, but I'm here today to review The Maté Factor's product for it's taste.

I chose their green maté because it's suppose to be prepared differently and fresher unlike most that're roasted. "Green" is easily detected right from the start, with my first whiff detecting a planty green that's hard to describe. Something like grass but more enjoyable. A nuttyness is also easy to precieve. I find it tastes green as well, but less of a fresh plant and more earthy. The aftertaste returns as the almond nuttness that could be smelled before. there's also a slight bitterness to the drink that can easily be countered with a sweetner if not enjoyed, (I typically serve it with a toch of honey).

I'm sorry about my lack of a more defined portrayal of the taste, but it's a rather unique drink. I reccomend it to any who want less caffiene in their morning cup and a healthy drink that'll keep them from wanting a snack untill lunch. I give it a B (good).

Monday, October 19, 2009


TAZO's Zen green tea has been a favorite of mine since before I got into loose teas and other more exotic drinks, and you can still find a box of it in my cupboard. The reason behind this is that it's good and easy to find!

Zen is a green tea with spearmint and lemongrass but that's not what makes it satisfying to me. The few components to this tea somehow create an equilibrium that can be a simple drink to enjoy while surfing the web or every once in awhile be the focus of your attention so you can relax and explore the harmonies of it. My approach today will be the latter of the two.

Before steeping the tea it the lemongrass is far more apparent than the spearmint but it doesn't overpower it. Once steeped the 3-4 recommended minutes the smell from your cup shows more symmetry between lemongrass and spearmint. On your palate you'll notice the body of the tea is very full and the green tea shines through for the first time and the lemongrass and spearmint are harder to distinguish. The finishing tone is a hint of lemon, and not the lemongrass something different.

I noticed when reading the box and visiting TAZO's website that they list spearmint not peppermint or just mint. The less sharp mint makes this tea work far better. TAZO Zen is a very good tea B (good).

Saturday, October 17, 2009

maine root Ginger Brew

Ever heard of ginger beer? I know many have not. It's not like ginger ale, it's far more potent and lets you know that there's ginger in it. Most who've heard of and had ginger beer have had Reed's, but maine root's ginger brew leaves that in the dust for intensity.

A hint to this is concentration can be seen because of its opaque appearance like a greenish orange juice. For those not prepared your first smell might repulse you, and the first sip will as well. But the experienced of this is unique with ginger on the palate (duh), but it's a crisp-spicy somehow that's not like the raw root. Once past your tongue there is no aftertaste but a retaining tingle on it that lingers for quite some time. Besides the taste, I've found this to be a nice tonic to settle your stomach.

Despite being somewhat simple I give this an A (excellent) because it's been a favorite of mine that I've returned to many times. I warn you though, I'm sure people's opinions on this will be polarized.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

McNeill's Oatmeal Stout

Does oatmeal and a stout have anything in common? They're both thick, and don't they sound like a no-brainer to mix? I'd never tried an oatmeal stout before so while picking up a favorite of mine at the store, I decided to try something new as well and bought this.

After pouring my bottle I got the standard thick and retaining stout head along with an opaque dark brown body. I found the smell faint but suggesting a cup of coffee next to a sweet malt. Upon tasting things get more vivid though. Making your way through the fluffy head the liquid in your mouth is full and leaves a taste of chocolate-malt on your tongue, but the aftertaste is more blunt with roasted malts and an incomparable taste of "bread". What I mean by this is the wheat-dryness that makes you need water while eating a piece of dry bread.

This beer is a B (good) in my book due to the roasted malts of this beer. It's everywhere but there are other interesting things going on underneath it as well that could be enjoyed more. A warning to those who might try this beer; it's as bold as Guinness Extra Stout.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Capt'n Eli's Blueberry Pop

Here's another Maine made product, a fine soda. (Capt'n Eli's is actually just Shipyard's soda.) Now you've probably noticed that I don't do many soda reviews, but here's a new brand that I found with a most unique flavor. Have you ever heard of blueberry soda before? I hadn't.

Pouring my bottle into a glass didn't give the poping carbonation of products like Coca-Cola or Sprite. It had a light head that remained for a minute like a beer, go figure. It tasted true to it's name like blueberry with a sweetness that wasn't cane sugar or the like, it was your standard processed sugar found in many other products. In it's defense it wasn't overdone and I think it complimented the blueberry taste more than cane sugar would've.

With little comtemplation I gave the capt'n's product a B (good) and reccomend it to anyone who wants to try something different or have a sitdown "beer" experience with their 12 year old son.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Golden Moon Tea Sinharaja

Unlike my first review of Golden Moon's Vanilla Mint tea, their Sinharaja has a name that makes it's taste more elusive. But that's why I'm here! The name is actually a reference to where this tea is grown, the Sinharaja Rain Forest. I'm a fan of this tea though, and the cup I made to sip white I write this review will be one of my last from the tin.

Upon your first whiff over your cup you'll notice that this tea is bold like breakfast teas and... sweet? Once tasted you'll notice these same qualities, but to define the sweetness of this tea it parallels roasted caramel. Besides those two traits, it's also one of the fullest bodied teas I've tasted and the most prominent element of it's palate is rich, dark tea. After adding some natural cane sugar to my cup, (as Golden Moon suggests), I found my experience far more balanced. The particular sweetness was brought out to meet the "teaness" and the aftertaste left at the back of my mouth was the caramel.

My score of this tea is a B (good). I don't find it anything exotic but it's an excellent breakfast tea to wake up to, and my rate of return to it shows it's a common choice of mine when I don't want something peculiar to analyze.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Allagash White

Allagash is probably my favorite brewery in Maine and White is their classic, award winning brew. It's also their core product like Guinness's Draught or Samuel Adam's Boston Lager, but neither of these far larger companies have a staple example like Allagash White.

To give you a basic idea of this beer, Allagash is a Belgian white like Blue Moon. Even the nose of Allagash White shows how it's unlike Blue Moon though, with spice in addition to the orange peel palate. There is also a crisp element and yeast on the palate but it doesn't interfere with being smooth in aftertaste. There is a slight malty bitterness with the aftertaste as well, but I find it enjoyable.

Allagash's creation is a solid A (excellent) with unique and leveled qualities. I recommend it to anyone who wants to try something that any large beer brand cannot produce. This is also Allagash's least alcoholic beer, but I'll be trying their others because I find their products highly enjoyable.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bushmills Malt 10 Year

As some of you will remember I've already reviewed Bushmills Black Bush blend, but here's the first of their single malt line:

The nose of this is very different from the palate, it contains a honey that's somehow a mix that's difficult to separate from the slight alcohol zest and cut grass. You'd think that grass would be a negative aura but I find it enjoying and it makes me think of the amazing Irish landscape. The palate produces a soft vanilla and honey but the grass returns changed as hay and wooded. A crisp and drying aftertaste leaves the hay on your tongue.

It's hard to convince someone how great this whiskey is with the words used to describe it, but I think it's an A (excellent). I wouldn't recommend this Bushmills to anyone with an undeveloped palate for whiskey or scotch, but to those who do, it's a great value.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

PKNT Carmenere '08

Have you ever heard of the wine grape Carmenere? I hadn't, and that's what drove me to try this. Apparently this grape had been thought extinct and was rediscovered in Chili, so it seems to be only available from Chilean wineries. I was a wee bit disappointed by this one, but the price point of this particular brand is about six dollars so I'm guessing I got what I paid for.

Now if I had to choose one word to describe this wine it would be pepper. After letting this wine decant I found the smell to make the ground table pepper obvious. The palate of the wine showed the pepper as well, but also had a tannin aftertaste that didn't complement the wine (sour-tart grape.) The aftertaste simply brought the pepper back, but thankfully not the tannin. I tried another glass along with a serving of pizza with spicy sausage and it was much easier to put down the wine.

After some thought I gave this wine a C (decent). I do recommend this to those who simply want a table wine to compliment a spicy Mexican meal. Due to the unique spice of this grape I plan on trying a different brand that might represent it better.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Hansen's Green Tea Soda Pomegranate

I think this is the first product I've reviewed that crosses the line between categories. My fiance found this at Target in four packs for only two dollars so she picked up one for me to put on my blog (and for her to drink). Besides unusual Hansen's product it's also very healthy, with no ill components and EGCG (a green tea extract antioxidant).

For those who care about enjoying the drink as well as the health benefits, the pomegranate isn't as apparent as you'd hope. It smells of sweetened green tea and tastes of it as well with a crisp pomegranate overtone. It ends with a different sweetness of the cane sugar in it. A negative aspect in addition to not enough pomegranate is the carbonation. It is highly carbonated. I think it would help for Hansen to reduce this, because it's as fizzy as Sprite or Mountain Dew.

Due to the cost, I believe this drink will commonly be in our fridge. I don't believe it's a product you should go out of your way to try though, I rate it a B (good). This is an uncommon product and I think I'd recommend it to anyone who wants a carbonated alternative to other sodas.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Zhi Tea Coconut Assam

Today I review one of my favorite black teas; Zhi Coconut Assam. I'm sure anyone who's had or even smelled this tea would understand why. Some on share my favoritism for this tea as well. But here's why I like it:

Even the scent of the tea before being brewed has impressions that have an amazing coordination. Bold assam tea and coconut, but not the coconut you'd expect. While brewing you have to be careful though, I've noticed this one "over-steeps" easily and can get bitter quick. When done properly though you'll experience a beginning, middle and end to this tea, like a well done wine. Once steeped the smell and initial taste of the tea are of just the bold, malty assam but once past the introduction coconut can be found. Towards the back of your tongue and throat coconut isn't of the sweet macaroons you'd think, it's the flavor of real fresh coconut without the extract or overly sweet that's common in all other products. After swallowing the assam kicks in again with an almost coffee bitterness. My last note on this tea is that the assam is the smell, palate and even aftertaste and the coconut is something higher that builds up in intensity as you go down your cup.

Despite only having two elements, I'm giving Zhi's tea an A (excellent) due to the equilibrium experienced. The Assam tea is strong and the coconut is delicate but still experienced somehow. Zhi Tea has a fine product.

P.S Assam teas are a great alternative to coffee in the morning.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

maine root Sarsaparilla

My first thought when I saw this, looking for a soda to review, was: "What's sarsaparilla?" But I brought it home because I'd had products from maine root before, (I think they make the best ginger beer out there!) Once I came home I opened a bottle, poured it in a glass, and did a google search on sarsaparilla.

My search found out that sarsaparilla is the name of a plant that root beer was originally made from. My tasting found a "lighter root beer" though. It didn't create any head when poured and smelled of sweet birch (yes the tree). Upon entering the mouth I found the carbonation to have far less sizzle than any Pepsi or Coke products. The taste had another tree to it, evergreen, but I also found vanilla. It was not your typical vanilla extract though, vanilla root is the way to describe this. I think it works better with the birch and evergreen tree sweetness as well. Sarsaparilla ends with a light sweetness for an aftertaste, and you can tell it's not most soda's processed sugar. Upon visiting maine root's website I found out they use unprocessed cane sugar, and I believe it makes a difference.

I gave maine root's Sarsaparilla a solid B (good) due to not being too sweet and a rather unique tree palate. As I stated before I've had maine root's ginger beer as well and I'm a fan. That will probably be the next product of theirs I'll visit.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Harpoon Octoberfest

It was time for my first fall brew of the year. I had a hard time deicing which fall beer to choose, I'm not a big fan of octoberfests or pumpkin ales! I went with Harpoon because I had never tried theirs and I felt like staying away from the mainstream Samuel Adams Octoberfest or Shipyard Pumkinhead. (I'll probably try those later). So here's the Harpoon Octoberfest:

The head of this beer foams up a lot, so be ready to get your holding hand wet or sipping to keep up with it when poured. It soon settles down to a thin head and releases scents of malt and the familiar hops in their IPA. These same characters were in the palate but wheat was added. Then the beer finishes the same with little change of character, just the wheat and hops lingering on your tongue. This is a bitter beer but not like your typical IPA, the malt is bitter as well somehow.

I was a tad disappointed with this brew, but perhaps that's due to the high standards I've given Harpoon due to their IPA and Dark Munich. This beer is a B (good) by my standards. If you like other octoberfests give this one a try though.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Chandon Rosé

I'm not usually a fan of sparkling wines but I found this on sale for only $5 and I had a nice ham dinner planned for the night but nothing to pair it with, so I gave this a shot.

The nose of this wine puts the fruits of it at the front; apples, pears and strawberries. Once you take a sip the same fruits come up but the carbonation and dryness on the palate almost made me think there was a citrus part to it. After visiting Chandon's website I found that burt rosé wasn't the only grape in the bottle, pinot noir was also used. This gave me the conclusion that the crispness of pinot noir and the fruity notes of the rest were two separate things going on, not one citrus element. It finished more typically with a champagne dry that was perfectly clean.

My fiance enjoyed this wine more than me, but we both agreed that the sweet burt rose and pinot noir didn't mix well. This wine had some good parts to it like the clean finish and fruits but the "odd" dryness on the palate simply got to me and I didn't even finish my glass. C (decent)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Starbucks Sumatra

I didn't feel like taking a risk this time so I went with something I knew was safe. The Starbucks Sumatra is favorite of my mother's and many others. So here's a good coffee that you can find at any supermarket:

This is a rather simple coffee so I found my notes rather short, but that's kind of a reason I like it! The label that you can see above reads extra bold, and it is. I like bold very much, but this one isn't dark. (The palate is very pronounced but not "bitter-tart" for lack of a better word.) Sumatra is also smooth, it doesn't have the acidic part of other coffees at all. My last note is that this has a fulsome body and an earthy coffee taste.

Due to being unsophisticated this coffee will never be an A anything in my book, but I like its taste and it has absolutely no negative aspects. B (good)

P.S. I like dark coffee, and I'll be getting to that soon...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Appleton Estate V/X

When I say rum to most people they think of one of two brands, Bacardi and Captain Morgan. It's a shame too because for the most part Captain Morgan is just vanilla rum and Bacardi is just BAD! Many will walk by fine brands such as Sea Wynde, 10 Cane, Gosling's, and the one I'm reviewing; Appleton Estate without even considering them instead. Well hopefully this will be a door opened to all of you tunnel-visioned rum drinkers.

Appleton's V/X is the start of their "Estate" line, and I think it does a great job defining them apart from other rums. Aside from the honey hued gold color, the first impressions I get from the nose are brown sugar and harshness. For some reason this rum has a very rough nose but taking a sip won't make you flinch, it'll bombard your tongue with flavors! The things I get are toasted honey, nutmeg and brown sugar in that order. It almost reminds me of a well seasoned pumpkin pie! It's very full in flavor and smooth on the palate, but it ends with nutmeg and the return of a lighter alcohol burn. If you think Bacardi is smooth then you won't notice this at all though.

Due to that burn, I feel obliged to give this rum a B (good) instead of something more awarding. But I want you all to know that once I'm through with this bottle I'll have my eye open for Appleton Estate's Reserve or Extra 12 Year.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Republic of Tea Pomegranate Green Tea

Perhaps I'm on a healthy tea run? This is my third hippy-healthy tea in a row! I never bought this tea because of its supposed health benefits though, doesn't pomegranate tea sound interesting? I think so.

Steeping this tea is very pretty in a clear glass cup; the swirling rose hues of color were very pretty. After three minutes I smelled my cup and found it to be floral, not fruity or citrusy like pomegranate. Scanning the tin I found hibiscus to be listed under ingredients before pomegranate. Doing more aura explorations I did find hints of pomegranate, but they definitely took the back seat to hibiscus. On the palate pomegranate was the most detectable on the back of the tongue, but I do wish it was stronger. The floral notes were also found. Both left an aftertaste but the hibiscus lasted longer. I think this tea should be re-named Hibiscus green tea with pomegranate.

I didn't have to contemplate my score long on this one, C (decent). It could've easily been a B if it had a more apparent pomegranate taste, this one is just unbalanced in taste and too weak on the palate for me. For those of you who like jasmine teas and want to get their daily overdose of antitoxins, put this one on your list though.

The Republic of Tea

Friday, September 11, 2009

Yogi Tea Egyptian Licorice

Yogi Tea tries to sell their products just as much as an herbal mood and health supplement as a tea you'll enjoy. Visit their website and see. You might've also noticed how much Yogi sounds like yoga! But who cares about the benefits of drinking tea (I do a little), so we'll move on to the benefits of its taste.

As my tea steeped guess what it smelled like? Licorice. When I say licorice don't think of Twizzlers, think an exotic sweet with a touch of peppermint. Once I sipped the drink I experienced the same but a new note of nutmeg and cinnamon could be found. The Yogi website decalred that there were orange peels as well but I coldn't find that. After I found this I left the teabag in my tea to see what it would do, and I found the licorice got stronger (but not the nutmeg). There were no negative effects of this in my opinion either like getting bitter, too "blunt" or throwing off the balance of flavors. An aftertaste also develops as you get down to the bottom of your cup. It's another apperance of licorice! This time it's only the "exotic sweetness", and it continues to grow and become more noticable as you finish your cup.

This is a good product and it might have some good propperties to help digestion. I just don't know if Yogi's addition of cinnamon and orange peels has done much to compliment the licorice. B (good).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Shipyard Imperial Porter

I chose this beer for my first Maine brewery because it's a brand all will recognize, but this isn't your typical Shipyard that you can buy in a six or twelve pack. This can only be bought as a single big bottle, so make sure you're prepared for a big beer with a higher alcohol content when you pop this or just accept that you'll be wasting part of it if you can't finish. I didn't have this problem, it was good.

Pouring into the glass I found that the head was a little thinner than expected but it retained well. For those that aren't familiar with porters, the body is lighter than stouts I've come accost (but not light). On the other hand this one has a far more pronounced palate than most stouts! The two elements I got from this beer were malt and chocolate. The smell made the malt more distinct but the chocolate was greater in taste. My last note is the higher alcohol content is undetectable.

I give this beer a B (good), but I must note that I was a tad disappointed comparing it to other beers of this price-point. It's rather simple when measured against an Allagash or Unibroue of similar cost. Either way, good job Shipyard.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

J. Lohr Riverstone Chardonnay '07

I realized a few days ago I've reviewed many teas, beers and liquors but not a single wine! I made the choice of J. Lohr as my first brand because I've had many excellent wines from them and their chardonnay is a wine I commonly recommend to customers at my work.

Now for those of you who know much about Californian chardonnays; almost all of them have a taste in common, oak. The Riverstone Chardonnay certainly has this but much more is going on as well. Taking a whiff of my glass I noticed citrus and pear in addition to the vanilla-oak, (the vanilla-oak reminds me of Cutty Sark). Once I took a sip the pear took on a more clover honey perspective and the vanilla-oak became a bit more seperable. The body of the wine was a little heavier than I expected and it finished very clean with the citrus as a last note. The pear did leave a pleasant sweetness on my tounge after finishing however.

Don't serve this wine very chilled, if at all. I found when chilled it made the palate more faint and brought out the citrus more, (not as pleasant). The J. Lohr Riverstone Chardonnay is a A (excellent) in my book. This one is a great value as well, at only $10 this is one of the best Californian chardonnays I've tried.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Zhena's Gypsy Tea Red Lavender

This one is a favorite of my fiance. She has a cup with a touch of honey whenever she wants to go to bed, and it works. "Red tea" isn't the standard traditional tea camllia sinensis but rooibos (roy-bos), a tea with many anti-oxidants and NO caffeine! So it obviously should be a choice for all of you yoga and health-nuts out their.Let's move on to what matters to us: Does it taste good?

It does taste good. Smelling the tea before and after being steeped all you can get is lavender because it overpowers the rooibos. Tasting the final product you'll find out what rooibos tastes like. It's rather hard to describe but I'll put it as a rich and slightly nutty sweetness. Of course the lavender is still present but doesn't conquer the taste of the rooibos. As I stated before, me and my finance typically serve this with a touch of clover honey to even the sweetness of the lavender. An aftertaste develops as you drink your cup that's the floral element of the lavender, not the sweet one.

Because lavender isn't a favorite flavor of mine I give Zhena's Red Lavender a solid B (good), but my finance and mother would easily grade it as an A- (excellent).

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Cutty Sark

This has been one of my most difficult reviews to write due to the simplicity of this liquor. You would think that a blended scotch would have many things to it but this one does not. It's simply oak and vanilla.

The liquor has a light hay color and a scent with no burn at all that puts oak at the front. It's body is rather light, but the palate is almost non-existent. I think oak may just be a flavor that can be sensed through smell more than taste, but it does leave a prominent after taste. The vanilla occurs in all of stages as well but not like vanilla extract, it compliments the light oak flavor and makes the overall flavor more "round".

Cutty Sark isn't a bad product, it's just a simple one. Think of it as a oak and vanilla flavored vodka. C (decent). Now approaching it like a flavored vodka you should ask "what cocktails can I make with this?" Here's a good one:

2 oz Cutty Sark
1 tsp fine sugar
1 oz lemon juice
3 oz club soda
combine Cutty Sark, sugar and lemon juice in a glass full of crushed ice and stir well. Top off with club soda, stir again and serve.

Adagio Almond Oolong

Adagio would seem to be one of the biggest loose leaf tea companies on the internet. I've even seen some of their products in retail and grocery stores! But Adagio's teas haven't been a favorite of mine because of my comparison to their competition such as Zhi Tea, Golden Moon and Mighty Leaf. I can't just review my preferred products though, so here's a tea that sits at the back of my cupboard.

Upon opening the tin you can tell that this tea is certainly nutty, in fact it's hard to detect the actual tea. This is unfortunate because oolong tea can be very layered and substantial in flavor. Once steeped the tea is a very pretty amber gold but the scent hasn't changed in flavor, just gotten lighter. Something that will surprise you is the body of this tea, it is full! I think the nuttiness contributes to that because all that your palate senses is the taste of almond. once swallowed the almond flavor remains for a bit but for the first time you can detect a light floral note that I believe is the oolong finally. Perhaps this tea should be just Adagio Almond.

If you love almonds, perhaps this tea is for you! I can't find anything unplesant about this tea, just nothing interesting. I find it too simple to drink even when I'm just reading or my mind is not contemplating the senses. C (decent).

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Boylan Creme Soda

When most think of drinking soda they think of twisting off the cap of a plastic bottle and drinking it for staying hydrated or caffeinated. It's rarely enjoyed like getting a coffee from Starbucks or pouring wine for dinner. Well we're going to throw out that stereotypical assumption because there are sodas that can be enjoyed the same way and are better for you because they have sugar cane instead of the standard sweeteners.

Now your first impression might be "woo-hoo a cream soda in a fancy bottle" (sarcasm for those that didn't pick up on it). But after opening a Boylan Creme you can smell the cane sugar along with a hint of the vanilla. Then you take a sip and it is creamy vanilla soda. The vanilla and cream are almost the same part of the taste because when I say cream I'm not referring to the body but the palate. It's hard to describe how cream can be apart of a soda but I think this effect might be because of the reduced carbonation and smoothness. Once you're finished with the bottle you don't have that same sticky, syrupy, acidic aftertaste of other sodas either. (I'm talking about the kind you get when you didn't brush your teeth). Instead it's more natural and "clean".

After trying it you'll see why premium sodas like Boylan are worth the extra fifty cents. B+ (very good)

P.S. My fiance certainly approved of this one as well, due to how much of my bottle she drank.