Sunday, December 21, 2008
Product Review: Knob Creek Bourbon
With the review bottle of Knob Creek Kentucky Bourbon that came in for testing, my wife has declared that I've turned her into a bourbon drinker, with the caveat of her being a "drinker" is a highly relative term. In this case, she's tried adding it to eggnog. I've done the same, but prefer Knob Creek at a cool room temperature and straight up for sipping. I've had bourbon before, but rarely tried one that I'd want without some kind of mixer. Knob Creek is relatively mellow, so you're not choking on the vapors, but still a bit assertive and smoky. Aged nine years, I've probably had older ones, but this certainly holds its own. Although one cute feature is no longer available in time for the holidays, you can order a bottle and add a personalized note right on the label -- good for gifts.
Labels: alcohol, beverages, bourbon, liquor, reviews
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Drink Iced Drinks When It's Cold? Are You Nuts?
There's an old myth floating about that science suggests drinking hot drinks when you want to cool off and cold drinks when you want to warm my. The twisted logic says that your body is an incredibly efficient heating and cooling machine. If you're cold, the fastest way to get warmer is for the body's own furnace to kick in, and it will if you drink something cold, lowering your core temperature. When it's hot, you drink something warm, causing the core temperature to rise and the cooling system (known as sweat) to activate.
Why don't people actually act that way? Because intuitively, I think, they know that it doesn't make sense. Oh, it might if you were cold and your body wasn't going to react. But the point is that you're already
cold, and your body knows that. As you lose heat, the body will work to replace it. Sure, drinking hot chocolate (close to mind at the moment as the temperature is near freezing here) will make the body think that it's warmer and, thus, reduce the amount of heat it needs to produce. But that's because you've just added heat and the body now is
warmer. Which was the idea in the first place. And by the time I reach for iced tea in the summer, chances are that I've already been sweating and still hot.
So celebrate the season, and if you're in a colder climate, I'll heartily recommend hot chocolate with a dash of caramel sauce.
Labels: beverages, caramel, chocolate
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Review: Beck's Oktoberfest Beer
I'm not sure that I've ever had Beck's Oktoberfest variety before, although I believe that it has come out every year at around this time to tie in to Germany's festival (and excuse for rampant beer-drinking) of the same name. No matter - it has a complex taste, a little bitter at the end but pleasingly so (even if you're not a big fan of hops), and a hint of caramel with good body. This is a dark beer that isn't overly heavy or aggressive, and worth picking up. I know for a fact that it goes well with meatloaf, and would probably find a good setting with heavy comfort food, the taste being strong enough to work its way through, but enough lightness in the execution to avoid being overbearing.
Labels: beer, beverages, product, reviews
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Review: Reed's, Virgil's Sodas
A case of drinks came in from the people who make Reed's and Virgil's sodas. Although I'm not typically a big fan of sodas, these are worth the purchase. They are brewed (presumably instead of adding syrup to carbonated water) and have clean, full taste. After some years of walking away from Coke, I can no longer abide the product, and never liked Pepsi. But the Virgil's Cola was outstandingly good. (The cola with Chinese herbs didn't grab me as much, but my wife liked it.) The cream soda and root beer are also admirable in their quality. The Reed's ginger-based drinks have a swaggering refinement - a kick you have to respect. Unfortunately, I didn't seem to get samples of the diet root beer or cream, which are now supposed to be naturally flavored. (I'm guessing that they use one of the sugar alcohols that have a sweet taste but no calories.) Pick some flavors up and remember why people invented soda in the first place.
Labels: beverages, reviews, soda
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Review: Monty Python's Holy Grail Ale by Black Sheep Bottled Beers
I was a bit surprised and tickled when a family friend brought over a couple of bottles of Monty Python's Holy Grail ale
. The g and r are crossed out on the label, so you have Holy Ail as a result. Apparently the beer "was commissioned to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Pythons." If you're a Wickan, you may not appreciate the "tempered over burning witches" line at the bottom. Actually, I wasn't too crazy about it, but did like the rest of the label. The brew is a bit on the bitter side, but well rounded and enjoyable. I hear it's good with spam, spam, spam, eggs, and spam.
Labels: ale, beer, beverages, product, reviews
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Review: 2005 Vale do Bomfim Reserva Douro DOC by Dow
When a sample bottle of 2005 Vale do Bomfim Reserva Douro DOC, a Portuguese wine from Dow, came in, we decided to bring it along with us to some friends and test it there. Don't make the mistake we did of immediately pouring it into a glass and drinking, because the result was unpleasantly astringent. But given a few minutes to breathe, it's a dry, rich, pleasant red with lots of fruit (no more details there - I'm not an olafactory greengrocer). We had it with grilled food and the wine held up well. A bottle will run about $12.
Labels: beverages, product, reviews, wine
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Review: Barefoot Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon
A brief review of great value wines: Barefoot Cellar's
merlot and cabernet are worth getting. Don't let the oversized bottle and low price per volume ($13 in my area) fool you. These wines have great character and balance, and are pleasant even a few days after you opened one and popped the cork back in. I came across them by accident in a liquor store and, cheap person that I am, decided to give the merlot a shot. Because they are so drinkable, they become fabulous wines for cooking, as you get quality without feeling that you must carefully meter when you deglaze a pan or add some to a sauce. I haven't had any of their other wines (there's a good number), but given my experience so far, I'd try them with some degree of confidence.
Labels: beverages, product, reviews, wine
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Product Review: New Amsterdam Gin
A bottle of New Amsterdam gin arrived from the company's PR firm for testing, claiming that it had "a taste so smooth you can drink it straight." So I tried it that way ... and have to agree. This gin is perhaps the most gentle on the palate of any that I've tried. The taste is not so explosively floral as Bombay Sapphire, but it's agreeable and balanced and would lend itself well to mixed drinks. It's certainly proven its worth in gin and tonics, one of my occasional pleasures during the summer months. A fifth runs about $14, with various other sizes available, and although I would never recommend a beverage based on the bottle design — and consider the industry's stressing of container aesthetics to be bordering on silly — this one is attractive, if that matters to you.
Labels: alcohol, beverages, drinks, product, review