Renaissance Stonecutter Scotch Ale

Do you like beer? Do you like Scotch? Then I have the perfect beer for you…  Stonecutter from New Zealand’s Renaissance Brewery is among the most interesting examples of the Scotch Ale style that I’ve yet to come across. I’ve had my fair share of Scotch ales. In fact, the first beer review I ever wrote was about a pair of Scotch ales (here).  But what sets the Stonecutter apart from the rest of ’em is its amazing balance between strength and elegance, along with a spot on characteristic of Islay Scotch whisky. Stonecutter pours a beautiful dark brown color in the glass. Aromas and flavors of caramel, sweet malt,… Read more »

Evil Twin Justin Blabaer Berliner-weiss

Justin Blabaer Evil Twin, Westbrook Brewing Company, and The Charleston Beer Exchange Blueberry Berliner-weiss 4.5% In a world full of gimmicky labels every once in a while you find quality inside. This seems to always be the case with the mysterious gypsy brewer Evil Twin (Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergso). Jeppe also happens to be the brother of fellow gypsy brewer Mikkel Borg Bjergso (Mikkeller). In his latest collaboration, Evil Twin teamed up with Westbrook Brewing Company (South Carolina) and The Charleston Beer Exchange to brew a Blueberry Berliner-weiss called Justin Blabaer. A what you ask? A Berliner-weiss is a refreshing, slightly sour beer from Berlin, Germany. It is almost always served with… Read more »

Louis Roederer Brut Premier

For those of you out there who are tired of the same old mainstream bottles of bubbly and would like to “ball on a budget,” I recommend Louis Roederer Brut Premier.  Amazing sparkling wine from the world-renowned growing region of Champagne, France.  The style is fresh, toasty, and just all around awesome.  The nose has beautiful lemon and green apple, along with the minerality that makes Champagne what it is.  On the palate, we find some light orchard fruit along with buttery, toasty components that give an unparalleled mouthfeel.  The finish is focused, biscuity, and reminiscent of brioche with a hint of cherry pit.  I recommend drinking this wine with any and everything,… Read more »

Domaine la Bastide Syrah

I’ll be the first to admit I can have a pretty expensive palate. With so much good wine to drink, I’ll make concessions for the price point if I really love it. That said, this is absolutely one of my favorite wines from a region that can really climb in cost, and it’s amazingly inexpensive for the quality. It over-delivers in the best way and it’s one of my best kept secrets for impressing on a budget. As a Syrah from southern France, it’s already going to be dense, lush and fruity, but this particular producer leaves this wine unfiltered so it offers yet another layer of silky texture and… Read more »

Viña Sastre Tempranillo

An old customer of mine used to have a simple rule for buying wine. Never buy a bottle with a fancy label. His philosophy was that if a winery was going to spend a lot of money on the label then they must be trying to compensate for the less-than-perfect wine in the bottle. Although this concept can clearly be debated, I must admit that I have found quite a few gems with plain-jane looking labels in my day (and the opposite has unfortunately happened equally as often!) One wine that does in fact confirm my old customers’  belief system is the Viña Sastre Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero, Spain…. Read more »

Smoked Stone Porter

They say it’s gonna snow again. Not much, but snow nonetheless. It’s almost April and snow still lingers on the horizon. As much as I like the cold weather I have to say, I’m ready for spring. I’m ready to walk outside without a coat. I’m ready to walk outside without the wind cutting my face. And I’m certainly ready to walk outside without having to shovel any more snow! So tonight I make a stand and defy the impending forecast of gloom. Outdoors with my faithful grill and my brand new chalice, I defy said forecast with smoked meat and smoked beer. I brought home a bottle of Stone… Read more »