Canton Crossing Wine & Spirits

Yeast is a Rainbow (Really!) Part 4: Cuvee Soeur’ise

Cuvee Soeur’ise is a pun on “sister” and “cherry,” in French “soeur” and “cerise”, and the word play points to the collision of Trappist and fruited sour traditions. This punning beer combines two very distinctive, very different classic beer styles of Belgium: the tripel and the kriek. A tripel is a clear, light-colored, high-gravity ale with pronounced notes of pepper, nougat, bubblegum, and apple from the Trappist or Trappist-like yeast used, and a good bit of perceived sweetness, though relatively few actual residual sugars. A kriek is a lambic aged on sour cherries: this rose-colored beer has the taste of fresh cherries without any of their sweetness, the complex tropical… Read more »

Yeast is a Rainbow (Really!) Part 3: Rodenbach Grand Cru

The old advertising for Rodenbach claimed simply, “It’s wine!” and while it does have the red fruit and savory, almost blood-like notes of a lower Rhone SMG blend, a Rodenbach Grand Cru aggressively shape-shifts in the sip to an extent I have not experienced with wine, from sweet to sour to savory, from pastry filling to balsamic to iron. While not the product of two different beers, with the Rodenbach, one wort is subjected to something like normal ale primary fermentation, though with a ‘yeast’ that is at least 20 different strains, and then put into oak foeders for as much as two years, where a series of more wild… Read more »

Yeast is a Rainbow (Really!) Part 2: Jilted Comrade

Rodenbach is a classic example of a wider style of beer. Cuvee  Soeur’ise is more idiosyncratic, but combines two famous styles made in roughly the same region, in a way that seems intuitive, and Sour Monkey from Victory actually represents quite a popular example of a sour tripel that is readily available. A sour Baltic porter is a much, much rarer thing. While there are other examples, there are not many, I have never seen another in person, and I don’t think a single other instance receives distribution here in Maryland. Beyond that, this is not just a “standard” sour Baltic porter, as if there were such a thing; Jilted… Read more »

Yeast Is A Rainbow (Really!) : The Complexity of Multiple Fermentations

Yeast is the most avoided element of brewing in America. We tend to obsess over either the hops of our various pale ales, the malts of our stouts, porters, and even our hazy IPAs. But even sours that have become so popular often simplify the phenolic profile by using a “team player” yeast, like the Chico strain, in conjunction with domesticated strains of lactobacillus and pediococcus. The idea is to get a more mechanized dump of lactic acid, which is reproducible, but not as complex in flavor and smell as a lover of lambics might want them to be. A brewery like Ommegang will always be an outlier and considered… Read more »

Notre Dame de Cousignac Luberon: A Winter White

This inexpensive bottle of dry, French white wine heralds from one of the larger but lesser known appellations of the southern Rhône — Luberon. The wines of Luberon benefit from a more Mediterranean climate than their juicy brethren, such as the whites of Condrieu and Chateau-Grillet, or the rosés of Tavel. The vineyards are often at altitude and the temperature diurnals between night and day preserve the wine’s acidity despite the long, hot summers that ripen the grapes. Notre Dame’s de Cousignac’s Luberon is made from 70% Clairette, 25% Grenache Blanc, and 5% Bourboulenc, three of the eight possible white wine grapes of the Luberon appellation. The nose is crisp,… Read more »

Masseria Salento ‘Sasseo’ Primitivo

The commanding bottle caught my eye well before I buckled down and bought one for myself — a regrettably long time since it drinks pleasantly above its $16.99 price point. Primitivo is (contentiously) thought of as Italy’s Zinfandel; genetic testing has proven this both true and false*. There are undeniable similarities between the grapes, but the regional stylings of Primitivo set it apart from the California Zins – smooth ripe red and black fruits, sweet tannins, and a solid amount of acidity recall its Southern Italian roots. Drink on its own or as a supreme complement to roast lamb or pepperoni pizza.   *Turns out they’re both clones of a rare Croatian varietal,… Read more »