This week's sampling of what our editors and contributors have been drinking...
Lenn Thompson: Sixpoint Craft Ales Bengali Tiger IPA
Because my wife isn't drinking at the moment (we are expecting our second child in December) I seem to be drinking more beer than wine -- especially at restaurants. Lucky for me, most of the restaurants we frequent have at least one craft beer that I'm interested in drinking. Some have several.
And now that Sixpoint Craft Ales is finally putting four of their most popular beers in "nanokegs" -- really 16 oz. cans -- restaurants without (or with limited) tap setups can now have their beer on hand. And so can I, because they are available in 4-packs at a handful of local beer shops.
Over the weekend, I had three of the four beers, starting with this Bengali Tiger IPA at Luce & Hawkins in Jamesport. I've had this beer on tap and from a growler several times and the in-can version stacks up well. Pine-y and grapefruit-y with nice bitterness and just enough maltiness to balance without weighing it down, this is the kind of IPA you can drink all day.
The next day, I picked up a four-pack of Sweet Action, a cream ale that is absolutely killer on draught. The tap-to-can leap didn't go quite as well with the finish being a bit bitter (but not in a hoppy way).
To cap off my weekend Sixpoint-in-a-can-athon, our cheese editor Aaron Estes brought over some of The Crisp, a pilsner. Pils isn't my go-to style by any means, but this one is a standout with crisp, grain-meets-citrus aromas and plenty of noble hops. It was great on a hot day.
Evan Dawson: Hippolyte Reverdy 2008 Sancerre
With the arrival of choking, stifling heat, it's sauvignon blanc season. My wife and I tore through our entire stash of Long Island sauvignon blanc last summer, and when we realized there was none left, it was still, like, July.
Ridiculous. We considered digging a tunnel directly to Channing Daughters' tasting room for just such an emergency.
We kicked off this summer with a sauv blanc from its historical home. It came as part of a mixed case from the outstanding Red Feet Wines in Ithaca.
Scrapingly dry, it's a chiseled Sancerre made for shellfish. There are stony, jagged edges here. Don't expect opulence or much weight, but then, that's not always the point.
Nice to have several more months of this season to ponder what's in the cellar.
Julia Burke: Niagara Brewing 2000 Eisbock
I tasted some fascinating wines, beers and spirits on my first venture into the Hudson Valley this weekend, and I'll be writing more about them shortly. But my mind was blown in a completely different way when, after a night of already-awesome drinking with Dave and Kathy Jackson and Carlo and Dominique DeVito, Carlo showed me around his cellar and my eye landed this baby.
An eleven-year-old eisbock. The style is an Old World one, in which beer is partially frozen to remove some of the water, concentrating the beer's flavors and alcohol for an intense and ageable brew.
This wasn't my first eisbock of the weekend -- more on that later -- but it was a rare opportunity to sample one that had been properly stored at length. And imagine my awe when I discovered that it was from Niagara, Ontario, from the erstwhile Niagara Brewing Company (now apparently Moosehead-owned) just 20 minutes from my home!
The beer was caramelized-brown and hazy and still sported a respectable half-finger tan head; far from tired, it looked, smelled and tasted fantastic. Incredible molasses, maple and candied aromas burst from the nose, with that gorgeous leathery malt scent that well-aged beers develop. The carbonation and hops were still well in balance, lending vibrance to cut the sweet, syrupy palate. An incredibly long finish brought more brown sugar, clementine peel, and clean, crisp hops.
Drinking perfectly right now and a tribute to the style, this was an awesome beer experience.
Bryan Calandrelli: Vineland Estates Winery Pinot Meunier 2009
A few months ago I ran into an employee from Vineland Estates in Ontario that was picking up a bottle of pinot meunier sent to him from Duck Walk Vineyards on the South Fork of Long Island.
Thinking that it was a rather unusual purchase I asked what prompted his interest.
Turns out it was merely research on how that grape has done in North America, and ultimately it would be compared to their first bottling of the grape which just happened to show up at a gathering I was at last weekend.
Delicate and fruity on the nose with some floral aromas, gamay-like red fruit and a touch of pinot noir-like earth, this supper supple red was ready for summer with soft tannins and pleasing acidity. It was delicate and feminine in nature yet the kind of red anyone can appreciate, especially outdoors with some good eats.
I found out afterwards that it¹s already sold out at the winery so I was lucky to try it when I did. Niagara is home to many varieties that can thrive here and it looks like now we can add pinot meunier to the list.