Monday, December 27, 2010

Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale

It's easy to let the dimmer and shorter days get to you, but it can also be an excuse to spend more time relaxing. The antique characteristic of Samuel Smith's label makes me think this would be appropriate to enjoy in front of the warm fireplace with a book. For the younger, I feel it would be just a appropriate in a classic British Isles pub. However, this being the first time I've had this I feel obliged to share my thoughts so those of you reading can determine if this would be a good choice for you

Even before tasting this I knew this would be a good choice because the sensations it gave. The visual ones showed a head that could compete with a classic Irish stout, and the color of it matched the body's. Nutty brown with a touch of red. Before the beer touched my lips I could smell the malts that somehow were walnuts! Past the lips it also showed wooded and roasted notes through the malts. The body was medium weight but on the back of the tongue you got a hint of sweet and a nice crisp. I didn't get these last notes as much because it was hard to swallow, I loved it in my mouth.

It only took me a a minute at the end of my pint to add the plus with the A. It's an A (excellent) and I recommend it to anyone who can enjoy a beer that's heavier than a generic lite beer.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Red Rose Original & a gift to my readers

Red Rose's Original tea isn't anything special, no offense to Red Rose. I'd give it a C (decent) being a simple pekoe tea with a touch, just a touch, of orange/citrus. Considering other teas of this price range they don't compare because it's not just flavored water. It has a heavier body than Lipton. But why I'm posting this product today is because it's the tea you have to use to make this phenomenal ice tea. Here's the recipe for a 2 quart pitcher, step by step.

What you'll need:
- 10 bags of Red Rose Original tea with the tags cut off
- 1+1/2 cups of sugar
- 1 jumbo lemon cut in half
- Lots of ice

1. Fill the 2 quart pitcher half way with ice and leave in the freezer.
2. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. About 1.5 quarts if you care to measure it.
3. Once boiling put the teabags of Red Rose Original in the pot and steep for 5 minutes.
4. While steeping add the sugar to the water and stir until dissipated. If you prefer sweeter, add another 1/2 cup.
5. Add the juice of the jumbo lemon to the pitcher and leave half of the lemon in the pitcher.
6. After the tea is steeped take the bags out, squeezing each one dry, and pour the water over the ice in the pitcher.
7. Top the pitcher off with ice if it's not full and put in the fridge until completely cold.

If done right, the pitcher should be opaque. Many mistake it to be sun tea but getting it cold as soon as possible by pouring over ice is the key to this. Someone has yet to not like it. It's a family recipe form my Nana, who rests in heaven. She was a wonderful woman and she wouldn't mind others having this. It's the wrong season for iced tea, but not for a gift. This recipe is my gift to my readers.

In memory of my Nana and Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

La Finca Cabernet Sauvignon '10

I feel that there's been a gap in what drinks I've covered recently for the current cold weather. There's a winter lager, chai tea, Irish cream, and even a hot chocolate! So what's missing? A red wine. Tonight I have a product from Trader Joe's, who's quite well known around here for their 'two-buck chuck'. La Finca is a label of Trader Joe's that's only a bit more than two dollars.

The first whiff told me that I got what I'd paid for, because alcohol is the prime scent. I still live by the saying "enjoy the drink, not the effect" though. So beyond the obvious asset, the grape part of the palate is quite 'viney', the body is light, and the aftertaste has an acidic twang. Sifting through all of this did convey hints of dark cherries.

Cheap is the prime adjective to use here, but let's be careful as to which definition is being applied. It was not a good deal. La Finca's canbernet is your stereotypical cheap red wine so I'm leaving it with a F (Avoid). Fear not those of you that have recently come home with a box of the 'two-buck chuck' though. I've already had that and know that it's cheaper in cost but not in taste.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Carolans Irish Cream

The genre of liquor for the holidays is Irish cream, and when most hear that they think of Baileys. Another Irish cream, Carolans is here tonight for review though. It's cheaper, but does that mean it's not as good? Lets find out if you should consider it instead of Baileys.

The only hint that this is alcoholic is lightly in the nose of the glass. An easy sweet is there along with it though. Once on your tongue there is much more going on. Caramel and vanilla is what I got first from this. Honey is another strong point to this but it's rather difficult to note as different from the caramel. As for the whiskey in this, it's rather faint. One last note is that this has a lighter texture than Baileys or St Brendan's (that I reviewed before).

Not that Baileys is bad, but I actually prefer Carolans because it's lighter, balanced in taste and has more 'natural' sensations than Baileys mint, coffee or even original. I give it a B (good) and keep it stocked as my cream of choice for the holidays and beyond.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Golden Moon Tea Kashmiri Chai

Kashmiri chai is green tea chai, but Golden Moon's kashmiri chai is actually a blend of both green and black tea (with all those spices as well of course). This product has been a standard in my cupboard for awhile, so I feel it's time to share my thoughts due to the cold front over me and others.

I've prepared the cup in front of me with a touch of honey and cream as recommended by Golden Moon. That's how chai is suppose to be. Something else I'd like to note is you have to steep it for awhile, otherwise it's not strong enough in my opinion.

Once done right, the theme of this is 'spicy' cinnamon. Unlike the chai you get at most cafes or bagged teas, there's more going on than cinnamon as well. Cardamom 'seeds' are a big part here as well. Cardamom is a hard taste to describe, but the best way I can put it into words is an extreamly mellow ginger with floral notes. Cloves exists in this as well, but don't make it all that sweet on it's own. Even without cream or honey this has a rather round body.

Sitting in front of a fireplace with such a drink, has been an extremely enjoyable post to write. I'm giving Golden Moon Tea Kashmiri Chai a B (good), and I'm sure it could make one of your evenings an A (outstanding).

Thursday, December 9, 2010

JosephsBrau Winterfest

Before I begin, I'd like to note that JosephsBrau is just a cover for Trader Joe's. That's not to say this could be a bad beer, I think Trader Joe's does a good job with many of their beers for a great value. I paid a mere $6 for a six pack, and for something outside of cans, that's great these days. So lets see how this dark lager (pretty rare these days) does.

This starts with a good sized head as pictured above, but this does not stay that way. Putting my nose in the glass showed a sweet maltyness and a hint of alcohol! Looking back at the bottle I see that this is due to 7.5% abv, which is a better deal for some. This alcohol taste doesn't have any notice with the finish though. The body of this is right in the middle of my other beer experiences, and it has malts for a taste like the head. I was surprised by the lack of carbonation despite being a lager.

For such a high alcohol percentage this one is easy to drink. I'm not a huge fan of it though. It's just kind of odd in my opinion and the malts aren't as good as ones in others, so I'll be leaving it with a C (decent).

Friday, December 3, 2010

Twenty 2 Vodka

Vodka can be a hard thing to describe. Some people just want a cheap thing to make a drink of their choice alcoholic. Of course not necessarily a cocktail though. A few actually like notes of flavors added. I'm part of the group that wants a liquor that can make a fine drink with a few other pieces added. Twenty 2 Vodka is made by The Northern Maine Distilling Company in Houlton, ME. Let's see what category this vodka falls in.

Ethanol is apparent in the nose, but not in a biting way. This is certainly a hint of a good vodka that has no similarity to watered down alcohol in a plastic bottle. The palate is quite unique. I feel that it is a touch heavier than water in your mouth, but in perhaps a way of ethereal taste? I'm asking myself if there is drop of honey put in this bottle. Something I do know is the grainy ethanol is existing lightly on the back of the tongue. After sipping my glass I finished it by shotting the rest, and it was the first time I had any major burn.

Experimenting with cocktails such as the godmother and kamakazi, I could taste the difference in quality. I'm not hesitating to score this with an A (excellent) because it's a blank sheet to work with cocktails and is the first clear liquor besides gin that I've enjoyed straight. I'll be keeping this one in stock.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Trader Joe's Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Well, with Thanksgiving behind us, the beginning of the holiday season is here. To start that warm fuzzy feeling you get inside of you, I've got a cup of hot chocolate. I should also note that this is also my first Trader Joe's product review. I'll be adding some of their house brand's lineup of drinks because they just opened a new store in Portland, ME, and they've gotten quite a bit of attention. So before you try to make it through their extensive lines to the cashier, I'll let you know if it's worth it.

You don't have to get your nose very close to notice the peppermint. This peppermint is also peppermint. The light foam on the surface doesn't last long, but the little bits of chocolate in the mix don't melt completely. On the tongue the chocolate take the front seat from the peppermint, but it's certainly still there. As for the body of the drink, that's up to you, and who doesn't want it thick and creamy? So I'd recommend using the milk instead of boiling water, and don't be scarce with the powder.

For a powder based hot chocolate, this will be my choice for the cupboard. Not a bad start for Trader Joe's. B (good)

P.S. What everyone's talking about around town is the "two-buck-chuck" wines. I'll get to that soon.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Maine Mead Works HoneyMaker Apple Cyser

Portland, ME is well known for it's breweries with beers getting national attention. Maine Mead Works is expanding Portland's drink spectrum. With a brand new location on the east end, being available at many more places, and more flavors since their start in 2007, there has to be a reason behind their success. Tonight I have a glass of their newest mead, Apple Cyser.

The fact that this has apple in the title and is a mead it should be quite obvious that honey and apple are the prime factors. They are but they work together so well. The body of this mead is lighter than others and not 'sticky' sweet so the crisp and light tang of apple compliment it great. When chilled the apple is more apparent and the honey comes out more when warmer. In either temperature you get a tart finish from the apple, but still the sweet in your mouth.

Quite the balance. I'm not hesitating to give this an A (excellent) and it won't be uncommon for me to keep a bottle of this in my stash. Maine Mead Works has many other choices as well and a quick visit to taste what they have will let you know which one would be your best investment. Portland is more than a beer town now.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

McSorley's Irish Pale Ale

An Irish pale ale? When I think of a pale ale's origin I think British, and Irish are obviously known for stouts. McSorley's is actually an old pub in New York City that was established in 1854, so it's not as Irish in origin as some others beers. This isn't a history lesson though, I'll tell you how it tastes.

Once poured the hue didn't look like a pale ale. It looks copper like a red ale, which is more traditional to the Irish! It has hops and malt in the aura characterized in a sweet way. On the palate hops takes a back seat to a 'creamy' malt, but this is not heavy in body. The body is actually crisp in a citrus way. Once swallowed the taste dwindles and you get it dry in a pale ale way.

I'd say this is a cross between a red and pale ale. There is a variety of things going on but I don't think they're working together well. I have to give it a C (decent), but on a positive note it's fairly easy to drink despite being dry at the end.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bard Coffee Honduras Marcala Dark

You know you're in an ok cafe when the barista knows the difference between a latte and a cappuccino. At Bard Coffee on Middle St in the Old Port of Portland, ME, every employee can tell you the difference between the different beans in ways beyond which one is darker. It's a great cafe. Today I have a cup of one of their single origin coffees, the Honduras Marcala Dark.

When most think of 'dark' they think of a french roast, this is different from that. Tackling the difference in adjectives between the two has been quite hard. The marcala dark is smoky in a clean way unlike french roasts, another way I'd put it is almost woody. The single origin of the beans also come through with notes of caramel on the back of the tongue. It's also only medium bodied with little acidity which works with the palate very well.

If you fee like exploring your darker side of coffee smoothly this is a fine choice and it's a B (good) in my book. Bard Coffee isn't just a place of a fine form of caffination though, it's also place of community. Those that want to get to know the fine city of Portland should check it out.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Smirnoff Root Beer 100

The recent trend with vodkas has been as many new and unique flavors as possible. Everyone knows Smirnoff. It seems to be a staple for those who want to just put something in soda or an energy drink. Tonight I have it in it's purest form, in a glass without rocks to sip on.

There's no clue to the flavor smelling it, but once in your mouth it's quite blunt. Wow this is sweet. I suppose this is true to the flavor because root beer is the most sugared soda around. The flavor only exists on your tongue though because there is no aftertaste, just a burn. Quite simple.

Looking back on this selection it was an odd one because it doesn't relate to the title luxurious. I'm leaving it with a F (avoid) and think there are far better options unless you're going to spike an A&W root beer.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Homegrown Herb & Tea Sniffle T

Many of you should take note of todays tea because, as the title would suggest, it's a great choice for fighting a cold. It's also the first tea I'm reviewing from Homegrown Herb & Tea, a small place ran by a dedicated and knowledgeable Sarah in Portland, Maine. If you're in the area I'd suggest you stop by her storefront to experience it's homely and organic aura with your tea. I'm here to tell you of the tea's taste though.

There's a lot going on in this cup. A strong floral element is one of the prime tastes, probably clover and chamomile. Earthy in a slightly chai way is stronger though. Anise must be a the part that creates the chai effect. It leaves you with a ginger-like kick at the end which a sick person would enjoy immensely, (I don't believe there is any ginger in this though).

Most cold combatant teas I've had are just mint leaf or ginger with honey. Homegrown has outperformed those in sinus cleansing. It's a solid B (good) in taste though. This is the one I'll be keeping on hand this winter.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Warre's King's Tawny Porto

In my mind when I hear port desert wine I think of extremely rare and expensive. King's Tawny is on the base of Warre's lineup though, and you'll see that you don't have to have deep pockets to sit in front of the fire with a glass of port just enjoying the moment. Warre's King's Tawny runs around only $13 a bottle.

For those that are use to other ports the first thing you'll notice is the lighter rusty red color, instead of the nearly opaque red of ruby ports. Matching the color the nose smells like raisins but you can sense much more is going on and is easier to clarify on the tongue. Woodsy-pepper, orange, black tea and plums all happen almost at once but the fruit notes lead into the wood and tea. It leaves you with a long aftertaste of the plums and oranges.

For those who know port wines well, get something else because King's Tawny isn't nearly as robust as others. As for the rest of you, what a port to try first! For the cost there's many levels happening and it's very easy to drink. I give it an A (excellent).

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Long Trail Double Bag

It's been awhile since I've visited Long Trail but tonight I have a brew they seem to be very proud of, their dark ale Double Bag. I say they're extra proud of this beer because they state "you'd never believe it has an alcohol content of 7.2%!!!" on the neck before you even get to the bottle's label. I'm not drinking this to enjoy the alcohol content though.

When you glass up the beer it acts exactly like an ale with a foamy head that laces around the cup but once in your mouth the parallels to a pale ale end. The palate is very malty in a chocolate way and the body is surprisingly crisp and heavy. The nose doesn't show this as strong as the tongue with lighter notes of a homely earthiness (something like oak, toast and chocolate). Unlike the statement made on the neck I don't find it 'smooth', you can tell it's a little higher on alcohol. This isn't enough to make this uneasy to drink.

A quote I made that I share frequently is "enjoy the drink, not the effect." If I were to ever buy a Red Bull I'd break this rule. Long Trail's Double Bag may give you an enjoyable effect sooner than other beers but you can still enjoy this beer beyond an alcoholic buzz. I think it's an A (excellent).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

IZZE esque Sparkling Mandarin

It's the first day of fall but I'm posting something quite summer? Well where I am it's 80 degrees and a hot cup of coffee isn't the drink of choice, so I have IZZE's Sparkling Mandarin. Health nuts will be gravitated to this because it's not just all natural but low calorie as well. IZZE accomplishes this by adding juice to sparkling water and not using any preservatives. A different kind of seltzer?

It's sweeter than seltzer. The mandarin orange is the sole taste and the sweet, but still not hearty. Looking at the bottle you find that only 25% is juice and the rest is sparkling water. This is how IZZE does the low calorie approach.

There's nothing unenjoyable about it but due to its simplicity I must give it a B (good). I am enjoying this on such a hot day late in the season, but the IZZE esque Sparkling Mandarin is something to enjoy with a salad and not contemplated on its own.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Teavana MatéVana

Teavana must be very proud of this one, they named it after themselves! And a little inspection before steeping showed little pieces of chocolate and nuts of a sort that tasted very good without any steeping. (On a side note, mmmm...) On Teavana's website their sales pitch seems to be health, like a parallel to a nicotine patch for coffee to get you off that addiction (coffee is not a bad addiction though). Let me tell you how this products cup will treat you with your mental health though.

All the elements of this tea are quite merged so it's hard to determine what makes it up. The roasted maté will satisfy all those use to coffee but it has the green grassy note of unroasted maté as well through the smell. I don't have any sweet-tooth with tea but the chocolate didn't turn me away at all. The nuts work perfectly with the roasted maté making it a little more hearty for the coffee drinkers. Lastly there is a herb underneath it all that I can't put my finger on.

It's only fair to note that I can already feel MatéVana starting my day well with "energy without jitteriness". This is a fine roasted maté that I feel is a B (good) and I recommend it to all that want a healthy start. I'd also get it at the mall when all of your friends are in line for coffee but you don't feel like coffee.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Peak Organic IPA

Where I'm at going green and all organic is quite popular, so it's no surprise that there's an organic brewery here in Portland, Maine. I certainly don't limit my choices of liquids to organic but I do feel a little good about drinking a 'healthy' beer. But I'm not here to speak of a products health benefits but how it tastes.

With the bottle claiming the alcohol content is 7.1% I suspected this would be an intense IPA like others with higher percent. After pouring I was impressed to taste that it wasn't just that. It does have a strong taste of hops but it wasn't as tangy as other IPAs of this sort. The selection of hops brings out much more of the floral notes than just the citrus. The nose is like that, you won't sneeze taking a big whiff over the glass. Sweet malt is another taste behind the floral and citrus, but more interesting is a buttery affair that I don't think can be described as tasted but just felt. This buttery feeling is in the smell as well.

Not your typical American-style IPA, and I like this new approach. I'm leaving it with an A (excellent) and recommend Peak Organic's unique IPA to any beer drinker who enjoys hops.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Seagram's Seven Crown

Today I have something that should be in everyone's budget, Seagram's Seven Crown. Easy to find and cheap like other liquors that have a plastic 1.75l bottle. One shouldn't judge a drink by its bottle though. Before I begin I'd like to note that not many buy this to drink straight but to mix, I'm drinking it straight to single out the notes it can add to a cocktail.

Even a small whiff of this will let you know it's alcoholic. Beneath the sting of alcohol is a sweet apricot scent along with wood. This is nice but impossible to enjoy with that burn. Once in your mouth notes of "good whiskey" are there but once again overtaken by alcohol. To make it fair I took my glass and turned this into a rickety with club soda and a little lemon. The sweet apricot was most noticeable but the wooden whiskey was only a hint. There was still a touch of burn.

I knew this wouldn't get a grade as high as many of the other liquors I've reviewed, but I must say this is a F (avoid). Seven Crown's attributes after you got past the burn still didn't make it a good deal. Spend a few extra bucks and get something better.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Gekkeikan Sake

The first sake on my blog will be Gekkeikan, a sake not made in Japan as one would think but right here in the USA. This will also be my first time drinking sake as I write this so I'd like to note that I don't have any other sake to compare it to. I try to grade all drinks as how much I enjoy them though, not how they taste to others of the same type. I review all types of drinks here.

I have three glasses in front of me; chilled, warm and room temperature because that's the three ways sake is served. Putting my nose over each revealed a lot about the different ways of serving. The warmer the sake the greater the tingle on my nose from alcohol, but also the more character. Mellow floral melon would be my description of it. The taste was almost parallel but also included a slight graininess that was more apparent when cool. I can see why sake is sold along with wine because it's body is almost exactly like chardonnay, rounded but not too heavy.

Gekkeikan's sake isn't anything exotic in my mind, just a delicately sweet wine-like drink with a heavy body for such a taste. I'm leaving it with a B (good) and think it would go very well with sushi, but not just because they're both Japanese. I'd also like to add that family and friends have warned me that sake's alcohol content can quickly catch up with you.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Root: 1 Cabernet Sauvignon '08

It wouldn't surprise me if many of you have noticed Root: 1 on the shelf before because it's a rather charming bottle. With the tree and its roots digging between words describing the wine stamped directly on the bottle with no paper label, it's hard to miss. As you'll find out this wouldn't be a bad one to take home based solely on the bottle as long as you like a robust cabernet, let me tell you why:

After decanting the aura given off by this showed a 'spicy' blackberry along with cherry. Once on the palate things got much more complicated though. The fruit notes turned into plum, raspberry and darker cherry but what I found most unique was dark chocolate. Coco didn't overpower the dark fruits though, it's just very well placed so you can't miss it. The body was quite smooth too and a hint of vanilla feels tied to this. In aftertaste the chocolate seemed to linger on the back of my tongue. I found this to be very well balanced.

Root: 1's cabernet sauvignon is a A (excellent) in my book and I should have reviewed this a long time ago because it's a favorite of mine. I'm sure it'll be a favorite of many once people try it and realized the price tag on it (I find it around $10 a bottle).

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Drink Connoisseur's Equipment

I feel obliged to say sorry for a lack of posts recently but due to vacation and enjoying summer while it's here, my attention was away from my laptop. But I'll begin my momentum with a post about how I drink my drinks. I think my particular approach to each variety of drink and that variety's type of drink being exclusive to all other types is only fair to everyone reading and the label selling the beverage. Experiencing drinks these ways brings out all of the notes. There are reasons for so many different shaped glasses. Lets start with one that's easiest to understand in my mind: Tea.
Almost all of the tea I review (and drink on my own time) is loose, so you have to find an alternative to a tea bag of course. After trying out many different ways like tea bags you fill yourself, tea balls, and other infusers I settled on this one. I found Bodum's Yo-Yo to be best because it lets the tea float more freely and you can pour the hot watter over the leaves so it does a better job at letting the tea do its work. As for each different type of tea I typically follow what the label says. Usually it's black and herbal teas are with boiling water, green and oolong is at 180°, and white is closer to 170°. Typically the suguested time is about 3-5 minutes and not left in afterwards (but I personally prefer to leave rooibos and hibiscus in longer), white is 5 or more minutes though. One thing that seems to go against common sense is to boil water freshly filtered and from the tap, not any bottled watter. This is because tap water has more oxygen in it and will pick up the taste better.
Liquors are very versatile on your palate ranging anywhere from black licorice (absinthe) to plain smoke (bourbon), so almost each one is approached differently. Clear liquors are compared on the rocks or straight and in a typical cocktail (ex: gin in a martini) because that's how they're frequently enjoyed as a drink. (If you're just taking shots, you're not enjoying the taste). Single malt whiskeys are analyzed in the Glencairn glass (pictured above) with a touch of purified water that brings out a lot of taste. Otherwise it's usually on the rocks or straight.

Beer and wine have too many different types of glasses to picture and explain in one post, but I'll go over some of the more unique ones. Pilsner glasses are ideal for lagers because it helps to bring out the head and keep it around longer through being slender. Champagne flutes help keep sparkling wine carbonated through less surface area so it stays fizzy longer. The other end of the stemware and beer glass spectrum with it's tulip shapes are saved for the robust drinks like cabernet wine and Belgian ales because with the middle of the bowl being wider than the mouth makes the smell more concentrated. This way it's easier to single out and identify what makes it up. As for temperature, beer is just from the fridge and most white wines are slightly chilled (not as cold as beer).
Now last, but certainly not least, is how to prepare coffee. I think buying a fine bean, griding it when you get home and making it in a coffee maker two days latter is an insult to it. A freshly ground bean in a French press makes a nice strong cup with that foam you don't get through any other method. Somehow this makes my coffee experiences three-dimensional and I can pick up more notes from my cup. The only thing I'll say about sugar and cream is that some people should be looking up reviews on different brands of sugar and creamers because they're just adding a touch of coffee with their sugar and cream! (P.S. I only put a tiny drop of half & half in my coffee)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Zhena's Gypsy Tea Fire Light Chai

Zhena's Gypsy Tea has a rooibos chai this time. And this makes perfect sense to me, rooibos is caffeine free and chai has two settings in my opinion, on a cold winter day or a at the end of a long one to relax. Now regular tea chai has a little caffeine due to the tea leaves, so this might be a better choice! But my job is to tell you how it tastes, not the health benefits and how it fits in your day.

I expected to detect cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger as soon as I opened the tin but once steeped the rooibos set this apart from other chai. Not in the smell but the flavor, the nuttiness of rooibos played a great part with the other spices. The cinnamon wasn't overpowering like other chai and overall this had a great composure. As I had guessed, Zhena's website said there was some orange peel in this too. It's hard to sense because it works with the sweet, but I believe it still makes a difference.

This one will be in my cup while I read a book or listen to George Winston's relaxing soundtracks. I give it a B (good) because I'm not typically a fan of chai because they're usually too sweet for me, but this one is quite balanced.

TAZO Orange Blossom

Some of you may have noticed tins of TAZO tea while waiting in line at Starbucks. This is due to the growing popularity of loose leaf tea, and Starbucks it hopping on the bandwagon. Today I have a cup of their Orange Blossom green tea in front of me to review and it smells like a good way to end the day.

As I said the fragrance is very nice but not orange, jasmine. Orange is there too but blends with the sweetness of the jasmine. Once on your tongue you can tell it's a green tea, I think it's a jasmine pearl like this one. Looking at the leaves themselves they're not pearls though. The lighter fruit taste isn't just oranges (tangerines) though. I believe other fruits are there as well with many herbal supplements.

TAZO has plenty of fine teas, but I think this one scores better as a frankincense than tea. The aura put off by this is fantastic but the taste of the tea doesn't follow up with it. TAZO's Orange Blossom gets a C (decent).

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Yellow Tail Tree-Free Chardonnay

Tree-free? Is Yellow Tail going green and helping to save the world!?! Well, not that Yellow Tail is a bad company but tree-free means not aged in oak like almost all chardonnays it seems. This could be a good turn, the fuller body of chardonnay with fruitier notes but not as dry as some lighter grapes. Lets find out.

Upon pouring this chilled, my senses would've told me this was pinot grigio if I didn't know otherwise. Very crisp and dry smelling in a 'sneezing' way. The palate showed melon notes in addition to the crisp, but I didn't find it very enjoyable on its own. After pouring another glass once room temperature I found it a little better. The melon could be detected in the scent and was stronger on the tongue. It has a very dry aftertaste chilled and at room temperature.

I'm leaving this with a C (decent) because I think aging in oak might be the way for chardonnay. Although fruitier it was rather simple wine and the citrus with melon didn't work well together.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Caribou Coffee Essential Organic Blend

Ever notice how loyal coffee drinkers are rather polar in there tastes? You have the 'dark side' with those that select only french or italian roast, and the 'light side' who chose flavored hazelnut, french vanilla or just a lighter colombian bean. I'd have to say I'm a little on the darker preference. I think Caribou Coffee has something that could be the first step for the dark side to see a little light, (or the light getting a little darker).

As stated on the label above I can tell this coffee is lively and intense just from the smell. With a little attention you can pick up the lemongrass notes as well. My first sip didn't back off form the full taste. A balanced body has a crisp palate with the medium roast, but not acidic in the way other coffees are. Fruit notes are slightly apparent, but I wouldn't call them peaches. They're just a darker fruit that perhaps may be plums. You're left with that medium roast coffee on your tongue and that crisp on the roof of your mouth.

As stated before, something in the middle of light and dark. The slight flavors that compliment the coffee aren't the best in my opinion, but I'm sure others would like it more. This must be the dark side of me speaking. I'm leaving the Essential Organic Blend with a C (good) for my opinion, but I wouldn't let that stop you from trying it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Shipyard Wheat Ale

Shipyards newest release, wheat ale. I do like the label, it's like the pint glass I got from them with a mermaid. I'm guessing that image is now a symbol of this brew, like Old Thumper's boar head or Chamberlain for the pale ale. But I didn't buy it for the bottle.

Shipyard's website states that this is an American wheat ale, and you can tell by putting your nose over it. Grainy-wheat came first to me and it was soon followed by a fruity note and a touch of the very floral hops they must use in their IPA. It's light and crisp body brings the wheat again along with the fruit. The finish is a little dry and you're left with the wheat but the hops replaces the fruit.

A great summer beer I think. If I had to describe this simply, it's a cross between Shipyards summer ale and IPA with wheat. It's a little to light bodied for my preferences though. It's a B (good) in my book. This will be a beer I'll purchase on hot and humid days.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Casal Garcia Branco

With the warm summer months, when it comes to wine I've been going white and crisp. Sauvignon blanc and pinot grigio tend to come to mind with this. Well what is branco? Wikipedia says branco is a grape unique to Portugal "can be somewhat reminiscent of riesling." Lets see.

Many bubbles were the first thing I noticed when this was poured into my glass. The nose is very light and takes a little effort to distinguish the aspects of it. I would call it citrus without any dry, more on the fruity side. Once in my mouth this was determined though, green apples. Granny smith to be more specific. The body of this was certainly like a riesling, acidic and crisp. I should note that Casal Garcia's branco is not sweet like riesling though, and I like that.

This is a fine wine for the money. I only paid $7 for it and I will certainly buy it again for a humid day. I'm giving it a B (good) because I enjoyed it, but it doesn't have the levels of flavor that many other wines have. So are you making a grilled chicken dinner? Pick up a bottle!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Zhi Tea Ginger Peach Oolong

As I review this I'd like to mention that this is not my first time having this tea like many drinks I review. I have this tea quite often! It's really a shame I haven't posted it sooner. Zhi Tea has a great concoction here. But I'm sure you want to hear why it's so good, not just my rantings on it being good.

Oolong tea being halfway between black and green teas you can sense this in the smell eluded from your cup. It's soft with the peaches and the tea part itself is 'aged', (the best way to describe it in my opinion). Ginger appears on the tongue but not in any sharp or spicy way, and peach remains as clear as before. Something I greatly appreciate about this cup of tea is the flavors added don't bury the actual tea. It's most evident in the end of the cup though with the aftertaste; floral and soft.

I give Zhi's blend an A (excellent). Tastes are well-proportioned and simply ones I prefer. If you like what you hear, add this one to your cabinet, you wont regret it. Oh and! P.S. When iced Ginger Peach Oolong brings out the ginger and peach more, so it's still a good investment in the summer.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bowmore Legend

When it comes to scotch, I'm a fan of the island Islay with smoky and salty whiskey. Legend is one of Bowmore's staple scotches with the lowest price point, so many can keep it in the cabinet. This is a fine thing to do because not many malt scotch's are this affordable! Let's see if it should stay on hand.

As soon as your nose is anywhere near this scotch, you can tell where it's from. The signature Islay peat smoke comes through your nostrils. There is also a burn in smelling this, but not an alcoholic one. More like 'sting' of salt (another Islay standard). On the tongue the smoke stays but the zing is more of a citrus, but not the actual flavor. Honey is also a light note on the back of the tongue. The body is quite lite for a scotch. It finishes with the peat smoke and warmth of alcohol, but once again not a burn.

At first I wasn't all that impressed with the Bowmore Legend, but it grew on me as my first dram got low. I thought this would be a C with my first impressions, but once finished I changed my mind to give it a B (good). It's not too simple, but make sure you like peat smoke because it stays with you through the whole experience.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Allagash Black

A Belgian stout? Who's ever heard of such a thing? Allagash Brewery has made the first one I believe. Most will know Allagash for there award-winning White Belgian ale with citrus notes and equilibrium that's made it so popular. I find it funny that They've called this creation black. Black and white; yin-yang.

Before popping the cork I read on the bottle to "pour slowly into wide mouth glass". I can see why, it pours a good thick head like many other stouts. The scent given off by this beer is an easy barley, not the intense type like some other stouts. Dark chocolate and coffee can be smelled but is much more apparent on the palate. The body isn't nearly as heavy as some Irish stouts I've had though, not a bad thing though. Going through the drink malt, yeast and wheat became more noticeable too, more so in the aftertaste. Roasted coffee is the prime part left in your mouth once swallowed though.

I must say I enjoyed this a lot. It has all of the standard elements of a stout but I can't taste much like Belgium ale. I don't mind this though. I'm giving this an A (excellent) because I found it to be everything a stout should be, just not as heavy. (Stouts are one of my favorite drinks.)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Golden Moon Tea Organic Green Tea

Due to the current heat, this review is going to be done on Golden Moon's Organic Green Tea iced. At 90 degrees wouldn't you? Iced green and white tea is becoming a more common product though with glass bottles of Snapple and Honest Tea in convenience store fridges. Perhaps this won't be as accurate as most will drink it hot, but let's see how it goes.

After steeping the tea a little hard, cooling it in the fridge, then pouring it over ice, I kicked back to enjoy (and review) this tea. There's no smell to this because it's iced, but the taste was strong enough. Green tea was unsurprisingly the palate, but it was so in a vegetable way. More like sencha teas, but I can tell it's not. The tea leaves do not have the grassy look and delicate feel. Some may find vegetable an unpleasant definition but I found it quite enjoyable despite it's simplicity.

A balanced B (good) is what I'll give this. This is not a tea to add sugar to, even if you like sweeter iced teas, (I'll be reviewing Red Rose with an excellent iced tea recipe from my grandmother soon). For those that prefer the unflavored 'pure' green and white teas, make a pitchers of this for the summer months.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Capt'n Eli's Ginger Beer

Capt'n Eli's Ginger Beer. A product of Maine from a brewery (Shipyard). But it's not a beer! It's a soda. Ginger beer has no alcohol to it, and should be viewed as an intense ginger ale. I've found that those that have tried it have polar opinions of it. They either love it or hate it. I'm a fan of it, but I've tried quite a few and can compare my other experiences. So lets see how it does.

Once opened and poured into a glass, it sizzles like a coke and can make you sneeze like on one of Coca-Cola's commercials. As you tip it towards you mouth you can tell it's not ginger ale. On my tongue I found it to be not as strong as other ginger beers I've tried, but still strong. The body was quite crisp though and tingled like sprite. It left you with the ginger in your mouth as an aftertaste.

I won't be giving this ginger beer a score as high as other's I've reviewed, but it can certainly be drank more often. B (good) If you want to explore ginger beer, start here. You wont be traumatized like others.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Adagio White Blueberry

Now I would think most would know if they’d want this tea from the title. Blueberry flavored white tea. But I’m going to review it anyways because many other things are rarely stated in a title. Outside of a palate tastes the intensity, body and aftertaste are unknown. Simply put; is it balanced an enjoyable? (Adagio)
The smell put off by the tea in my cup doesn’t have as much blueberry, it’s more like a sweet white tea. Once sipped blueberry took the back seat to the tea leaves again, but was still noticeable. Like many white teas it has a rather full body for a tea. I tried serving this as an iced tea and the blueberry became much more present. Both hot and cold had a blueberry aftertaste.
I’m going to leave this with a C (decent) because it’s just too simple and the blueberry flavor to it isn’t ‘natural’. It’s more like some sort of blueberry extract in my opinion.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Shipyard Old Thumper ESP

It may surprise some of you that this is a review of a Shipyard beer without their name on the label. Ringwood is a brewery out of the UK where Shipyard's master brewer learned, so they have rights to make it here in the US for us to enjoy. I'm certainly glad for this because I'm drinking one now and it's a fine.

From the glass this looks exactly like their Export Ale, but as soon as a sense beyond sight can notice this it's quite different. It smells similar to an IPA with a hint of sweet but not like thossuper hoppy ones. The oral experience gets bitter but includes the crisp of hops again. It has a smooth body however and a dry end.

This beer isn't for those accustomed to summer ales and lagers despite the light color and lack of IPA on the label. I like it quite a bit however and am leaving it with a B (good). As a mater of fact it's a house beer for me because I commonly get a twelve pack of it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Peace Coffee Guatemalan

After a break from updating Luxurious Liquids due to many moves I felt it was imperative to start again with a fine choice. So I chose a coffee I found excellent from Peace Coffee that was just roasted lighter. So here are my thoughts on a freshly french-pressed Guatemalan bean from Peace Coffee:

Even before tasting it I could tell this wasn't a "light" roast, just lighter than the Guatemalan Dark Roast. It has a great balance of acidity with it strong enough to be noted but nowhere near the point where it can be a little disturbing such as some Columbian coffees. Nutty is the prime note here though. I can smell pecans and peanuts (along with some chocolaty notes like the dark roast), and taste hazelnut. Do NOT let that statement alarm you! It doesn't parallel the flavored 'coffees' labeled French Vanilla. You're left with the chocolate taste in the aftertaste.

"Aahhhhhhhhh" *sigh of pleasure* I give Peace Coffee's Guatemalan a B (good).

I'll be doing this more often now with an internet connection, all of my tea tins, coffee beans, bar-ware, wine rack, and fine liquors (nothing in plastic), unpacked. Beer will be involved as well because I'm in Portland, Maine now and as some of you may have noticed, there are many fine breweries around.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Sebago Bourbon Barrel Aged Lake Trout Stout

This is a rather interesting product; it’s a beer I’ve tried before but has now gone through an evolution. I enjoy their original Lake Trout Stout however; Sebago Brewing Company has experimented with a small batch of Woodford Reserve Bourbon barrels and this is a homerun. I sure hope they make this a standard in their lineup because…

The appearance of this brew is obviously a stout, opaque with a creamy head. After pouring this delicious beer, I start to use my other sense’s, the head has fantastic hints of barley, chocolate and vanilla, not too sharp but with a ‘rounded bourbon-esque’ power. Once the beer enters your mouth the specialty malts assert themselves, the special cask ageing shows its effect with an overtone of chocolate, coffee, and undertone of vanilla. The cask aging then plays through showing great hint’s of Bourbon.

I haven’t hesitated to give this an A (excellent) due to the symmetry and collaboration of the barrel aging with the stout. Anybody who enjoys a good stout will be enchanted by this. So grab it if you see it, you won’t regret it.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Santa Carolina Reserva Sauvignon Blanc '09

With the warm and humid weather it was time for a light crisp wine. After a quick vote from who knew wine, sauvignon blanc beat pinot grigio. Picking the label was left completely to me though. I'm a fan of Chilean cabernets, so I decided to explore the opposite end of the grape spectrum. Santa Carolina's Reserva is up.

As I soon found the green hue in the wine might've been real. The nose displayed a mineral note with the expected citrus fruit such as grapefruit. After a sip lime took the scene for the rest of the experience. The dry crisp parallels lime-juice, but it's not overly puckering somehow. In an long aftertaste the grapefruit tone comes back a little.

This sauvignon blanc is exactly what's needed on a muggy day. Based on its taste I think it would go excellent with a caesar salad too. I don't have a preference for sauvignon blanc but this one is getting a B (good) for its balance in strong but easily bearable citrus dry.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Twinings Prince of Wales

It's tea time and I'm introducing my first Twinings product, the Prince of Wales. Twinings is an older company than any other tea company I've reviewed, but I've noticed that the loose options of some of there teas are a newer choice. Twinings is catching on to the popularity of the whole leaf, lets see if they have a competitive product:

The tin claims it's "a smooth and mild taste with a well-rounded character". The nose has a calm robustness somewhat like a breakfast tea, but once in the mouth the container proves its point. It reminds me of some Darjeeling tea but with a bigger body and more placid palate. There's a light aftertaste as well that's just a faint note of the Chinese black tea.

Prince of Wales is appropriately named because this tea would fit perfectly in a tea party. It goes well with cream and sugar if desired and it's taste parallel's the amiable setting. I'm leaving it with a C (decent) because it doesn't have higher levels of taste.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Otter Creek Copper Ale

Has anyone noticed my geography with breweries? Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine are my microbrewery states. Today I’m expanding my horizons to Vermont with Otter Creek’s flagship Copper Ale. Let’s see how the last state of New England compares to the rest:

Before tasting I’d swear this would be an IPA. It pours a crisp and hoppy head while showing a color only slightly darker than a real IPA. Taking a drink is when you’re brought to the malts and yeast though. Hops is still very noticeable in the way of a classic IPA, not the newer bluntly crisp ones. When buying don’t forget that malts are a big part of the palate.

This is a versatile beer with its use of malts and hops. I’m giving it a B (good) and think it would be a great alternative to the light summer ales. Don’t think that Vermont is inferior to other states though, I know Otter Creak has some excellent brews.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Saranac Ginger Beer

Ginger beer is a largely unappreciated drink. Little does the general population know that this classic concoction is a key to many cocktails, settles your stomach and makes ginger ale taste weak. I’ve reviewed a few others before, but today Saranac’s drink is on the line. Before opening the bottle I must note the price of a six pack is the same as a four pack of other ginger beers, a better deal.

I have a theory on why Saranac can sell cheaper though; they aren’t as intense as others. I’m not saying this ginger beer should be labeled a ginger ale though, it’s just easier to drink. There’s still the tingle on your tongue and the ginger snap aftertaste. This difference in consistency can be seen as well, it’s not a little opaque like other ginger beers I’ve had.

Saranac’s Ginger Beer has proven to be the best choice for making concoctions, but I’m reviewing the product alone. I give it a good solid B (good) and I know others would prefer this one over others due to its ease. If you haven’t had ginger beer before, this is a good one to start with.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Saint Brendan’s Irish Cream

St Patrick’s day is coming up (also my birthday)! So I think it’s time I get on top of some Irish choices, don’t you? Many simply refer Irish cream to Bailey’s, but little do they know there are much cheaper alternatives that I find acceptable. If you have the budget to spend $25 on a bottle of the name brand, fine. If you’re like me and want to explore while saving some money, here’s Saint Brendan’s.

Like a glass of milk, there is no smell or aroma to Saint Brendan’s. So straight to the palate. I might prefer this over Bailey’s due to a composure with more distinctive elements that aren’t a prime flavor like Bailey’s caramel or mint. Caramel is a big part of the palate though, and it works great with the dairy cream that’s heavier than Bailey’s. It’s not as smooth however, but I don’t think it’s such a bad thing: The nip at the aftertaste almost works as a counterpart to the heavy cream, so you don’t feel like your throat has a layer of mucus.

So I approve and give it a B (good). I’ll make sure that some will be left for the 18th so I can put some in my coffee for a creamer. Here’s a good robust cocktail to enjoy the 17th with and keep you up for the night, Irish Coffee:
• 2 oz Irish Whiskey
• 2 oz Irish Cream
• Strong black coffee
• Sugar to taste
Layer the cream on top of the spiked coffee on the back of a spoon. To do it right you must keep the tip on the edge of the glass and top of the liquid. Don’t stir and sip it through the cream.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Maté Factor Green Tea Ginseng

The Maté Factor has created a product with three super-duper healthy factors; green tea, maté and ginseng. You’re not a health nut if you don’t see the benefits of this. I don’t drink this just for my health though, I enjoy it. So if you’re interested read on and find out why I do.

Green maté is the prime trait in the smell and taste, “planty-green”. The green tea comes out through the body and aftertaste though; it gives it a bolder body and a vegetable quality. I’m guessing that the tea used is a sencha due to those attributes. I’m not sure that ginseng has a taste, but I can feel the effect.

With only a taste perspective The Maté Factor’s Green Tea Ginseng is a B (good). I would like to note the convenience of it though: You don’t need to steep maté in hot water, you can steep it cold. When I lack time in the morning, I put two bags in a thermos with a touch of honey and I have a nice boost when I need it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Gosling's Black Seal

It bothers me that the general population sticks to Bacardi and Captain Morgan for rum with so many more, and better, rums out there. Drinking only light and gold rum is a limit of cocktails as well, so I’ve included a cocktail recipe at the end of the review for those willing to explore the dark. Gosling’s has always been my favorite dark rum, so I’ll show you why.

Being nearly solid black in color, many would imagine a bold and hearty rum. It is, but don’t relate those attributes to harsh. Gosling’s has a heavy body and a rich taste of brown sugar and spice. After swallowing you’re left with an aftertaste of the spice and a warm element best described simply as the rum, but not a burn of alcohol.

I don’t believe Black Seal was intended to be drunk straight, even though I do sometimes, but I’d recommend it on the rocks or with ginger ale. In my book Gosling’s Black Seal is a solid A (excellent) due to its unparalleled boldly smooth taste. Because of this it can make cocktails that no other liquor can. Here’s a good one:

Dark Side Daiquiri
• 1 ½ oz Gosling’s Black Seal
• 1 ½ oz amaretto
• ½ oz simple syrup (or ¼ oz sugar and ¼ oz water)
• ¼ oz lemon juice
• ¼ oz lime juice

Monday, March 8, 2010

Warre’s Warrior

What an aggressive name. Due to stereotypes, I’d think a drink with a label of warrior would be a port beer, not a port wine. Checking out the Warre’s website the explanation lies in a story about one of the family members being a soldier. But enough of the history, I’m here for the taste.

And the taste is juicy. It has little nose but what’s there is dark grape, and it comes back strongly in the palate. It’s full bodied, even for a fortified wine, and there’s other deep red fruits in the taste like un-pitted cherries. With a few more sips the spicy overtones of black pepper and cinnamon come in. Warrior reminds you of all this with a long aftertaste.

I can see why Warre’s has labeled this Warrior, it’s robust and enduring like fighters. For those who avoid shiraz and cabernet wine, stay away. If you welcome heavy wines like me, it’s a B (good).

Friday, March 5, 2010

Rock City Organic Ethiopian Yirgacheffe

Everyone who drinks beer knows of micro-breweries, but it’s a shame that many who drink coffee don’t know of micro-roasters. There’s far more coffee companies than Green Mountain, Starbucks, and Dunkin’ Donuts. One micro-roaster I’ve already proven superior to big ones is Peace Coffee, but today is Rock City’s test of quality with Organic Ethiopian Yirgacheffe.

The cup from this bean is on the verge of being a dark roast in my opinion. It gives off an aroma of a bold product, but the taste is where it shines. There’s a slight smoky or earthy note that compliments the semi-dark aspect, but it breaks the heavy trend with an acidic characteristic. You get this in the aftertaste but it’s also in the palate at the back of the tongue. The acid isn’t a negative attribute though, it creates a balance.

I like it to the degree of an A (excellent). Rock City is another in the evidence of micro-roaster being the cream of the crop. So for those that are tired of the nearby Dunkin’ Donuts, find a micro-roaster like Rock City.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Troegs Troegenator Doublebock

Troges Brewery must be proud of this one, they have it named after themselves and the face on the label sticks out with the constipated face. Is it going to give me that face or make me come back for more? Well I’m here to find out.

It has a thick head with some retention and amber in color. The nose shows hops most, but some malt is apparent. Once in the mouth it’s not as heavy as any other bock but crisp hops will tingle your tongue. Malt is detectable again and works well with the incomparable hops that can be best described as “rye”, but nothing like floral, citrus or super sharp. Easy to drink for a beer so strong with flavor.

I’m leaving it with a B (good). As a comparative way to describe it I’d say it’s a malty red ale mixed with an IPA. Approach it as this, not a bock if you’ve had one before.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Adagio Gunpowder

Gunpowder green tea is an oxymoron to me. Green tea symbolizing peace, relaxation and health paired with gunpowder; a tool of war and such. Taking a minute to examine the image of the tea above, you might notice the name comes from the appearance of the tea. Adagio didn’t name their product though, it’s the type of tea.

Another corresponding trait to the name with this tea is the smell, it’s smoky along with the veggie green tea characteristic. The first thing that hit me when sipping the tea was the body, very bold and heavy unlike the palate that was only a return of the smoke. This is a very simple tea.

You’ve probably already tried this type of tea before because I recall tea like this being served at Chinese food restaurants in a stainless steel pot with little ceramic cups. I’m giving Adagio’s Gunpowder green tea a C (decent) because it’s enjoyable but a little too ordinary for a higher score.