Sunday, August 30, 2009

Guinness Extra Stout

Guinness Extra Stout has been a favorite of mine for quite some time but I haven't had it in awhile due to the summer season when I prefer lighter ales, but now that fall is coming I think it justifies some attention.

Once poured there's a head with bubbles going down the glass like any Guinness and the nose of the beer hints at the barley and hops but also features coffee. After your first sip you'll be surprised at the difference in the power from your first sense of the beer. The hops and barley remain but a bitter-sweet bite is the most blunt aspect. I also notice an overtone of dark chocolate that I find to be a different element than the bitter-sweetness of the stout. After swallowing your sip you'll be left with that same bitter-sweetness at the back of your throat. It should also be noted that this beer has a very full body, but not quite as big as the standard Guinness Draught.

The Guinness website states that the Extra Stout is the closest beer to the recipe of the original Guinness beer. I must recommend this beer to anyone who likes stouts or likes a beer with a strong palate. Some might not like this as much because they'll find what I call bitter-sweet just bitter. To each their own: A (excellent)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Talisker 10 Year Old

This is the most expensive bottle of liquor I've bought yet, and I don't regret it...

The Talisker 10 Year Old has amazing levels of different elements that all work together in perfect harmony like a professional orchestra. Something I find amazing about this scotch is the change that happens when you add a touch of water to your dram, and I always do when I drink this beauty, so I'll be reviewing it based on the qualities of it after this change. (The drink has far less peppery qualities without the touch of water).

To start the nose has a peaty smoke that's very typical of Islay scotches. The more unique part of the aroma is a sea-salt scent that's like a sea breeze in your face, a touch of citrus can also be caught. Past the lips the smokyness remains but in a weaker element, but the sea salt takes on a sweetness that's unlike sugar or most fruits. If I had to compare it to something I'd say it was like dried fruit sweet, but not any taste of the actual fruit. The most unique part appears on the back of the tongue and in the finish of the drink after you've experienced all listed above; an intense pepper that warms your mouth and lingers for a awhile (not an alcohol burn at all).

I only open this bottle when I want to experience something unlike any other drink, tea, coffee, wine, beer, or even other whiskeys. I'm nearing the end of it with maybe one and a half servings left :-( Guess what will be on my Christmas list.

It should be obvious the score on this beverage is a solid A (excellent).

Thursday, August 27, 2009

New Amsterdam No. 485

I got a great deal on this gin due to the fact that it was in a "blowout sale" bin with many other bottles of liquor. It was an easy decision choosing this bottle out of the bin due to the fact that most of the other options were in plastic bottles, like plain vodkas or schnapps. After coming home with the untried liquor and taking a sip, I was surprised.

For those of you who've tried your typical gin before like Beefeater or Tanqueray you know that the prime character of gin is juniper berry (pine). Only taking a whiff of New Amsterdam would conclude that it includes juniper berry and a little harshness, but taking a sip shows how an American gin is different from a Brittish one. The principle character of this gin is a citrus orange. This will make a very different martini.

To be fair it does have a hint of juniper berry but not enough for me. When making cocktails with this liquor approach it with the idea that you're using an orange flavored vodka, like a screwdriver would be great with it. New Amsterdam doesn't fit my tastebuds though, I want real gin. It's not good, but it's worthy C (decent).

Green Mountain Rain Forest Blend

After working at a gourmet coffee shop, maybe my standards are too high? I found this coffee to be a a bit of a disappointment. A bit about my preferences for coffee before I go on to review Green Mountain's product: Never put sugar in my coffee, and only a touch of creme! I'm not the type of American that thinks that they like coffee because they have it half and half. (No I didn't mean with, I'm referring to the proportions of how much actual coffee and how much cream and sugar.)

Anyways, I picked this coffee up while grocery shopping because I had a coupon for $1.50 off of any Green Mountain coffee and I felt like something not too dark (I do like dark though). The Rain Forest Blend has a light and nutty smell but had no hints of the "acidity" some light coffees can have. But the cup I have in front of me now actually has a heavier smell than a typical light coffee and the nutty element is even more pronounced. Once I take a sip though it just doesn't have much too it. It's just a bland plain coffee taste, the nutty part can only be found on the palate if you try and taste it.

I offended my standing on how coffee should be drank and added some sugar to my cup to see if it would draw out any shy flavors. That failed and I simply dumped the other half of my disgraced cup down the sink. After some thought I gave the Green Mountain Rain Forest Blend a C (decent). I considered a B due to the attractive smell that lured me into buying it but I decided it didn't merit such.

Oh yeah, for those Americans that drink your coffee half and half JUST DRINK SODA!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Oregon Chai The Original

I remember the first time I had a chai was at a Dunkin' Donuts drive through during the christmas season. I thought it was great, and this was before I had even grown-up to like coffee! Latter in life I found Starbucks to make a far better product and it was commonly my choice when an americano would keep me up too late. But have you ever noticed chai seems to be a winter craving? Well I had a craving for an iced one that I had learned to make while working at a coffee shop, so I picked up a box of this some 2% milk and dug out my cinnamon once I got home. Quickly made, my fiance grew to love the iced version and I'm getting this review done so I can actually drink one while writing this before she finishes it off!

The front of the carton lists "Black Tea, Vanilla, Spices & Honey" and after taking a sip of this straight, that's what it tastes like in that order. (The spices are obviously cinnamon). The straight product smells like cinnamon and it leaves a lingering honey finish as well but it's meant to be a component of a concotion. I think the final concoctions I've created with this are great and my rating is an A (excellent). Kudos to Oregon Chai!

For those that want to know how to make the perfect iced chai, read on:

1. Pour 1/2 of the chai concentrate and 1/2 2% or soy milk in a shaker with a few ice cubes but make sure there's some room.
2. Shake well because with the space and ice it'll create a nice foamy top, if you have a milk frother you could just use this instead.
3. Strain into the serving glass and sprinkle a little cinnamon on top.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Harpoon IPA

I've always told people who think of Samuel Adams as the best beer ever made "I'm a Harpoon guy." When it comes to Boston beer I am, but honestly I'm a Maine micro brewer guy that likes names like Shipyard, Geary's and especially Allagash. Despite my biased opinion due to my home-state pride I've yet to find a Maine IPA that beats Harpoon's.

When I saw a 12 pack of this on sale for the same price of the Dogfish Head 6 pack I was going to buy, I knew what my purchase would be. Now I must warn those of you who don't know if they like hoppy or malty beers, this is one of the extremes of Indian Pale Ale. Wikipedia says "India Pale Ale, (abbreviated IPA), is an ale that is light amber to copper in colour, medium to medium-high alcohol by volume, with hoppy, bitter and sometimes malty flavour." Harpoon's IPA is exactly that with a golden hue, high abv (5.9% = good for you frat party people), with a hoppy-malty and bitter flavor. I must add that when poured it has a great fuzzy and citrusy head that leaves lacing around the glass after a minute.

Mabey it's an acquired taste that I got from my father, but my fiance didn't finish her beer last night. It was too bitter she said. So beacause this blog's pourpuse is to give readers a heads up on products before they buy them; I reccomend this beer to those that preferr others like Guinness Extra Stout and other IPAs but not to those that drink Heineken or other lagers or pale summer ales.

My rating is B (good)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bushmills Black Bush

Bushmills has been a favorite of mine for awhile now and I've tried every product they have within reasonable costs. I'm starting with Black Bush because I think it'll reel in the people who will get the most out of my blog, (it won't draw in as many college freshmen who are looking for the liquor to have their senior friends buy).

I think Bushmills does a good job on their website describing the flavors in this Irish whisky. The website declares that fruitcake, sherry, and nuts are to be expected in this bottle, this is true. The nose has the "round" sweetness of sherry and raisins or other dried pitted fruit but more is discovered once you take a sip. Your tongue will encounter the sherry again but a new nutty taste also appears, the best way to compare this taste would be to almonds and/or brazillian nuts. But what's shocking is the fullness of the body! If you don't know what I mean by this, think of something that clings to you throat and has the texture of a syrupy liquid (it's not sticky though). It finishes with a lingering of the sherry-nutty sweetness that seems to be the same component. I think it's also quite smooth in my book but I've had my friends and fiance try it and they didn't think it was as much, but they didn't think it was harsh either.

Black Bush isn't the whiskey to choose if you want something for mixing as well as straight because I think it has enough going on already and a cocktail of this would simply cover up some of the better aspects of it and the wisky wouldn't add to the cocktail. I've given the Bushmills Black Bush an A (excellent). For those who are looking for a whiskey of choice and found bourbon to blunt and scotch to smokey, go for Irish.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Golden Moon Tea Vanilla Mint

I've been a fan of Golden Moon Tea for awhile now placing 3 orders in the past 8 months (that's a lot when you order over 1 lb of loose tea), one of their teas that I've been coming back to is their Vanilla Mint. My review I left on their website reads;
Pros: I'm glad I have a tin of this tea and it's one of the best values of Golden Moon because it's a tea that you can have frequently and not get tired of.
Cons: It doesn't have the higher levels of flavor as other teas but I believe that was intentional.
And I haven't gotten tired of it yet, ordering a 1 lb bag of it when I placed my next order.

As my cons comment reads, this isn't a complicated or "layered" tea like some others I will review latter on. It's smell and palate put mint up front with vanilla in the back seat but still apparent. Something I've also noticed when it's hot is the actual taste of the tea is nowhere to be found! Because I like the taste of tea as it is with or without the added flavors I've found that putting an ice cube in my cup or letting it sit for awhile before enjoying it will bring out more of the flavors.

Once a decent "luke hot" instead of steaming the scent doesn't change but the taste does. Vanilla becomes far more apparent as does green tea. (A typical green tea is an almost more "vegetable" taste compared to you standard black tea.) If you find yourself wanting more vanilla flavor in this tea put a little sugar in it and mint takes the back seat. I've also had success with this one making a pitcher of iced tea that didn't last long at all with my fiance who is a fan of this one as well (perhaps more than me).

After some thought I gave this one a B (good) despite its simplicity because the few elements in it worked so well together and I find myself coming back to this a lot.

P.S. For those of you who notice a 1/2 bag of this costs $18 and thinks that is expensive, look at this: A box of bagged TAZO tea has 1.5 oz of tea in it and costs about $4-$5, that's less than 1/5th of a 1/2 lb bag. So to get a 1/2 lb bag of TAZO would be $20-$25. loose tea is a deal.

Starting My Blog...

Just beginning my blog; it'll be about good drinks as the title would suggest but not just alcoholic ones. I will be reviewing teas, sodas (of unique and smaller production), coffee, beer, wine, and "colored" liquors (rum, whiskey, and such). I also like gins and vodkas every once in awhile, but I will NOT be reviewing tequilas due to an experience with one that I cannot remember ;-)

I would like to also note my approach to drinking and my rating system that I've been using:
First my system. I must give some credit to and BeerAdvocate for blending and stealing theirs.

Drink Ratings:
A+ (World Class), A (Outstanding), A- (Excellent), B+ (Very Good), B (Good), B- (Worthy), C+ (Decent), C (Mediocre), C- (Not Worthy), F (Avoid)

Note: I've actually been tasting, rating and taking notes for awhile now and B seems to be the average, but anything C+ or lower usually has an aspect about it I don’t like. F means I couldn't even finish the drink due to being disgusting.

Now my belief system on drinks this doesn't apply to just alcohol. I believe that drinks should be enjoyed for what they are and liking them not their effect. Every type of drink has cheap "well brands" for those who just want their effect, like Pabst Blue Ribbon, Maxwell House, Mountain Dew, most box wines and plastic bottles of liquor.

I'll probably be writing my first review on a favorite tea latter today or whiskey tomorrow, (I shouldn't drink anything before taking a bicycle ride to work). Don't be afraid to send me suggestions or requests on what to try.

I hope a customer's idea on putting my opinions
on products on the web was a good one,