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The Syrup Koan Part 3: Life & Limb

We get the essence of the taste of the tree without the tannins of the wood itself, and the bigness of the beer without the oiliness of a huge grain bill. We’re back to a syrup koan: the essence of the birch is kept, but the tricky business of the body is excluded.

The Syrup Koan Part 2: Brunch Punch

The radical difference of flavor comes from the peculiar combination of honeys and the yeast used, both of which collaborate to produce the strange “quoted” sensation of the fruitiness.

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 »

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 »