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 »

Brandborg’s 2013 Elkton Oregon Gewurztraminer: A Review

Gewurztraminer is often considered a European-happy grape variety, especially when grown on the terroir of eastern France. Specifically, Alsace. Across the pond, Oregon can boast of only half the number of vines of Gewurztraminer (a mere 3,200 compared to Alsace’s 7,000) but Oregon holds its own in flavor, character, and nuance. Brandborg’s 2013 Elkton Oregon Gewurztraminer is a classic. Aromatic and explosive, this wine is not shy. Really, 14.1% is monstrous for a white, something akin to one of Orin Swift’s Napa concoctions. But don’t be deterred, as the wine is balanced and soft on the palate. A sip teases with opulent aromas of lychee and orange peel, evolving into… Read more »

2013 Yalumba Patchwork Shiraz: A review by Kelson Goldfine

The Barossa Valley is home to some of the great wines of South Australia. The 2013 Yalumba Patchwork Shiraz from the dry hills of Barossa packs a punch in a big way. The region remains untouched by phylloxera, the minuscule root louse that once threatened to destroy most of the world’s vineyards. Therefore many of the vines in the valley are considered “old vine” and grow grapes with more concentrated, complex flavors than that of young vines. Unctuous and spicy, the 2013 Yalumba Patchwork Shiraz is a mighty wine, unlike most popstar, fruity, smoky bottles of Shiraz. The bouquet is intense. Full bodied and creamy, the wine bursts with flavors… Read more »

Sipp Mack Riesling Tradition 2014

I first discovered wine with picnics on a family trip to Northern Italy. Sitting on stoney beaches along the Western armpit of the Italian peninsula, we drank light, effervescent Prosecco with sliced tomato, cheese, and bread. I thought that light, snack-style meals required so-called “simple” wines like Prosecco and Cava. Recently, however, on an outdoors adventure to North Carolina, my mother and I sat back one evening to enjoy a picnic (inside a Motel room, away from the spring cold) of sharp cheddar, brie, pear, and prosciutto. We curiously chose the Sipp Mack Riesling Tradition 2014 from the Alsace region in France to accompany our meal, not knowing what to… Read more »

An Island Gem: Artemis Karamolegos Santorini Assyrtiko

This bone-dry, white wine from the Greek island of Santorini is made from the Assyrtiko grape, first cultivated among the island’s volcanic soils. The wine is golden in color and has a nose full of raisins and creamy lemon. Medium bodied, it is exceptionally rich for it’s kind, brimming with notes of orange and raisin, guided by tangy lemon zest and brackish water. The acid in this wine makes it a good candidate for aging if you’re looking for something to add to your cellar. Otherwise, consume this wine young and use it to soften deep fried dishes and seafood, or pair it with Greek cuisine, or even the meatiest… Read more »