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Grilled Branzino Recipe and 16 Kosher Wines for Passover (Wine Spectator)

Grilled Branzino Recipe and 16 Kosher Wines for Passover (Wine Spectator)

Israel-born chef Michael Solomonov updates the holiday table; plus our editors pick 16 great kosher wines

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Miodula Honey Vodka

Miodula Honey Vodka

Biagio Cru & Estate Wines announced that it now imports Miodula Honey Vodka. Created from a 13th century recipe, the vodka is a blend of rich honeydew honey, vanilla, spring water and Polish vodka, the company says. Aged for 11 months in oak, the flavored vodka is packaged in a presidential bottle in honor of the Polish President, who offers the honey vodka as a diplomatic gift. Availableat various retailers nationwide, Miodula Honey Vodka retails for $24.99.

Biagio Cru & Estate Wines, New Hyde Park, N.Y.
Telephone: 516/299-4344
Internet: www.biagiocru.com
Distribution: National
 

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Unfiltered: Mad-As-Hell French Winemakers Take (Spanish Wine) to the Streets (Wine Spectator)

Unfiltered: Mad-As-Hell French Winemakers Take (Spanish Wine) to the Streets (Wine Spectator)

Plus, counterfeit-buster Bill Koch auctions off his (authenticated) wines and the Obamas drink Catena Zapata in Argentina

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(Irish) Whiskey Wednesday #8: RIP Merle Haggard

(Irish) Whiskey Wednesday #8: RIP Merle Haggard
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I just found out that country music icon Merle Haggard died. I still intend to continue with my backed-up Irish whiskey reviews, because hell, they're whiskey, after all; they even spell it right (though Merle was a Dickel fan, and they don't). But I am going to listen to some Merle, including his classic Okie from Muskogee.

Mad March Hare, 40%
"They still wave Old Glory down at the courthouse, and white lightnin's still the biggest thrill of all."
I'm not going to reach for Merle references in these reviews, but I'll be damned if I ignore one that's looking me right in the eye. This is poitín, Ireland's fabled "mountain dew," the white lightning of the Auld Sod. (See what I had to say about it in the sidebar at the bottom of the page here.) Mad March Hare got off to a rough start, being set for production at the Rathmooney distillery in Dublin; when that collapsed, they found digs in western Cork, an all-malt, pot stilled spirit, according to founder John Ralph. And that's about all I can tell you about it...for sure. Except how it tastes.

Well, it smells like it just came off the worm. Fruity and a bit feinty, grain, fat, and wet copper on the nose. A rare visual note: it rolls slowly in the glass, like chilled vodka. Ominous. Poitín, of course, has a reputation as a wicked strong and weird liquor, but this is at 80 proof only. Time to put that aside and taste it. It is thicker and a bit oily on the tongue, with a grainy sweetness. Not that hot, and there's an appealing mineral touch, almost like graphite from pencil leads. The sweetness is a bit much, but it's not gross. I'd want to mix this, probably with a bit of tea or light fruit juice, like apple. For all the Mad March Hare look, this is fairly tame, especially at 80 proof.

Verdict: Okay

Egan's Single Malt Irish Whiskey, 47%

Through a bus window; sorry.
Whup! 10 years old and un-chill filtered, and bottled at 47%. How 'bout that! Where's it from? Could be Cooley (not likely), could be Bushmills (could be, could be), and that's about it; nowhere else has been open that long in Ireland making single malt. Beautiful long tall bottle with a nicely embossed and detailed label. It's a grand old name, too: P&H Egan's were maltsters and bonders (buying whiskey and aging and blending it, much like was done with Green Spot) in Tullamore from 1852. I caught sight of their building when I was in Tullamore last month and snapped the picture you see here. But that's, again, about all I know about the stuff, so I have to fall back on the crutch of tasting it...

Spiced fruit and malt in the nose, with some heat and bright bark/pine hints. Quite nice on the tongue, and not clearly identifiable as one or the other...maybe Cooley, but I thought that was cut off by Beam Suntory. Okay, so it's a relatively dry and warm single malt, intensely focused in a tight spot of malt, like a Munich helles, not really wandering into the fruitiness thing. There's a fast flash of heat, then that unrelenting dry, almost dusty malt.

I'm liking that; it's not a whiskey that lets you relax, more like a sergeant of a whiskey. Come on, lad, there's drink to be had here, pay attention! None of this sweet fruit languor for us, hey? The finish is firm, without being overly oaky, but there's a touch of sweet alcohol in the middle that's not quite as happy-making as the rest of this, though it passes quickly. It's a different chapter in the Irish whiskey book, for sure, and that's a plus.

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Australia's Innocent Bystander Wines Sold (Wine Spectator)

Australia's Innocent Bystander Wines Sold (Wine Spectator)

Yarra Valley Vintner Phil Sexton sells volume brand to Brown Brothers to focus on single-vineyard Pinot Noir and Chardonnay label Giant Steps

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John Glaser – In 140 or Less

John Glaser – In 140 or Less
Author - Caroline Dewar
John2

April 6th, 2016

John Glaser started Compass Box some 15 years ago and really broke the mold of whisky blend creation and communication at the time. The names of his whiskies and their label designs were quite different from anything else. Since then he has created a host of blends, some grain-only, some malt-only, some a blend of both, and some with other flavors. He’s also ruffled some traditionalist feathers along the way which has made all of us take notice of the boundless possibilities of Scotch whisky. 

Where were you born and raised? 

I’m a Midwesterner, originally. Born in Michigan but grew up mainly in Minnesota.

Not the warmest places then. What was your path into Scotch whisky for those who don’t know?

Wanted to be a winemaker early on. Trod a wine path in France, Calif., and U.S. Finally decided on the business-side of wine but along the way got an offer to work in Scotch whisky.

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Be Bordô

Be Bordô

Stephane Quien Wine & Spirits announced the official U.S. launch of Be Bordô, a new line of Bordeaux wines. The line is meant to be approachable and appeal to a new generation of wine lovers without the intimidation inherent in many appellation-driven wines from Europe, the company says. The initial launch includes Le Fruity Red Merlot, a blend of 85 percent Merlot and 15 percent Cabernet Sauvignon with a medium body that balances fresh and fruit-forward flavor with delicate aromas; Le Deep Red Cabernet Sauvignon, a blend of 85 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 15 percent Merlot, is medium bodied with intense, deep red fruit flavors and a hint of spiciness; and Le Crisp White Sauvignon Blanc is a blend of 85 percent Sauvignon Blanc and 15 percent Semillon with flavors of citrus and apricot, the company says. The line’s packaging features tasting notes and food pairing suggestions. The wines have a suggested retail price of $11.99 and are available in New York, with additional markets planned for later in 2016.

Stephane Quien Wine & Spirits, Bordeaux, France
Internet: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Distribution: Select markets
 

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Heineken USA adds Heineken Light, Strongbow Gold Apple to BrewLock keg offerings

Heineken USA adds Heineken Light, Strongbow Gold Apple to BrewLock keg offerings

White Plains, N.Y.-based Heineken USA announced that Heineken Light and Strongbow Gold Apple Hard Cider now are available on the BrewLock keg system. BrewLock, the company’s on-premise draft technology, was developed by Heineken as a means to consistently provide a freshly brewed beer taste in an easy-to-install format, without compromising the quality that consumers demand, the company says.

“BrewLock’s ability to block outside contaminants and provide a truly great draft beer experience every time is not lost on consumers,” said Mark Lang, on-premise sales strategy and shopper marketing manager, in a statement. “Initial results report a 23 percent increase in rate of sale for Heineken and Newcastle Brown Ale, further illustrating just how important a quality draft beer is to consumers. It’s this clear growth and consumer acceptance that has enabled us to extend the BrewLock system to more of our portfolio beginning with Strongbow Gold Apple and Heineken Light. We are excited to see the system continue to grow with these brands.”

BrewLock kegs are easy to install, significantly lighter in weight than steel barrels and are horizontally stackable when not in use, resulting in a smaller cooler footprint, the company says. They also provide a nearly 100 percent yield, it adds.

“Not only are BrewLock kegs cost effective, but they’re recyclable,” Lang said. “The revolutionary BrewLock system eliminates nearly 50 percent of all draft system failures and provides a fresh taste every time.”

The BrewLock keg is a patented double wall 20-liter keg made from 100 percent recyclable PET plastic. The liquid resides in a bladder inside the keg, which is protected by the PET shell. BrewLock uses a small, customized air compressor that exerts pressure in the area between the shell and the bladder, pushing the liquid through the draft lines untouched, the company says. The system has been used since 2014 to dispense Heineken Lager and Newcastle Brown Ale, it adds.
 

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Southern Tier Brewing announces new partnership with New Jersey Beverage Alliance

Southern Tier Brewing announces new partnership with New Jersey Beverage Alliance

Press Release:

(Lakewood, NY) – Southern Tier Brewing Co. announces today that it has begun a new partnership with the New Jersey Beverage Alliance (NJBA) in New Jersey.

NJBA consists of the following wholesalers:

Harrison Beverage Company
High Grade Beverage of Randolph
High Grade Beverage of South Brunswick
Konrad Beer Distributor
Nash Distributor
Ritchie & Page Distributing
“For the past 12 years we’ve worked with Regal Wine Imports and we’d like to thank them for the support they showed us. Now we are working with the NJBA throughout New Jersey. We are looking forward to having our full lineup of brands available to more retailers and consumers across the state. We’d like to thank NJBA and Chris Natale for taking a leadership role in making this transition possible,” said Southern Tier CEO John Coleman.

“Since Southern Tier and Victory Brewing have partnered, it makes great sense to consolidate both breweries into one distributor in the state of New Jersey. We are very excited to now sell the innovative, high quality brands of the Southern Tier Brewing Company alongside Victory Brewing,” notes Chris Natale of Ritchie & Page Distributing.

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Brewers Association announces Top 50 U.S. Overall Brewers and Top 50 Craft Brewers

Brewers Association announces Top 50 U.S. Overall Brewers and Top 50 Craft Brewers
Brewers Association Top 50 List

Press Release:

(Boulder, CO) – The Brewers Association (BA)—the not-for-profit trade group representing small and independent craft brewers—today released its annual lists of the top 50 craft and overall brewing companies in the U.S., based on beer sales volume. Of the top 50 overall brewing companies, 43 were craft brewing companies.¹

“The top U.S. brewers continue to drive demand, growth, innovation and exponential interest in beers from small and independent brewers,” said Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association. “With a historic record number of breweries in U.S., the top brewers continue to open new markets and expose beer drinkers to a variety of fuller-flavored styles and offerings.”

Top 50 U.S. Craft Brewing Companies

(Based on 2015 beer sales volume*)

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Firestone Walker to open Propagator campus in Venice, California, on April 17

Firestone Walker to open Propagator campus in Venice, California, on April 17
Firestone Walker Venice Entryway
FW Venice Exterior 2 - Credit Nick Gingold BeerPulse

[Credit: Nick Gingold]

Press Release:

(Venice, CA) — After three years of anticipation, Firestone Walker Brewing Company’s new Propagator campus in Venice, California will open its doors in April, with limited evening hours starting on April 7 before expanding into daily lunch service in May. The Propagator is located at 3205 Washington Boulevard near the corner of Washington and Lincoln.

The Propagator represents the brewery’s third regionalized coastal California operation, following the main brewery in Paso Robles and the Barrelworks wild ales facility in Buellton. The Venice campus buildings include a restaurant, lounge and new barrel cellar that will condition and serve experimental rustic ales for local patrons. It also includes a retail space with merchandise, brewing gear, cold-stored packaged beer, and a growler fill station. There is also space for future beer education seminars.

“The Venice Propagator is another step in our brewery evolution that is now 20 years strong,” said David Walker. “Our hope is to create an idea laboratory for brewing while becoming part of the neighborhood and closer to the local brewing community.”

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Celebrate National Beer Day with Chocolate and Beer

Celebrate National Beer Day with Chocolate and Beer

Media Release:

Did you know National Beer Day is April 7th? We hope you’ll be celebrating and have provided one of the most delicious ways to celebrate by pairing a classic Belgian farmhouse style beer, Allagash Saison with three Lindt EXCELLENCE bars that are made with the finest cocoa beans and highest quality ingredients.

Whether celebrating solo or gathering with friends, we’re sure you will love these fun pairings!

Lemon EXCELLENCE Bar & Allagash Saison
· The fruity esters produced during Saison’s fermentation process blend with the tart, tangy taste of the lemon in this dark chocolate. The grassiness of Saison’s hop profile was intensified by the acidity of the lemon and sweetness of the chocolate.

Chili EXCELLENCE Bar & Allagash Saison
· Notes of lemon, lime zest, tropical fruits, and a peppery spice are present in the aroma and flavor of this dry Saison. The spicy kick of this dark chocolate with red chili creates the perfect contrast to this classic Belgian farmhouse style.

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Crooked Stave Persica Day coming April 16, coincides with reopening of The Barrel Cellar

Crooked Stave Persica Day coming April 16, coincides with reopening of The Barrel Cellar

Press Release: 

Crooked Stave Announces Persica Day on April 16th to Coincide with the Release of Persica and the Reopening of The Barrel Cellar   

Denver, CO) – Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project has some exciting news for 2016 and it starts with the announcement that the Barrel Cellar will open back up for the release of Persica, the breweries most sought after of beer releases. On Saturday April 16th starting at 10:00 a.m. MST Crooked Stave will open its doors to the Barrel Cellar at 1441 W. 46th Ave. Denver, CO. The brewery will be tapping numerous barrel-aged sour beers from years past and to make a day out of the release, the Brewery will also be producing a limited edition Persica glass to be used exclusively throughout the day. 

Due to the limited nature of Persica, bottles will ONLY be available on Persica day with a bottle limit of SIX bottles. This beer WILL NOT see any local distribution, in Colorado, our taproom or elsewhere and will only be available first come first serve on Persica Day. The bottle release will start at 10:00 a.m. MST and continue till bottles run out.

Persica was the breweries first major hit release in 2011 and has been one of the breweries most sought after beers since its release. Aged in oak barrels for months with copious amounts of fresh Colorado peaches, Persica embraces a bright citrus golden sour beer with all the peach flavor and aroma that can only come from the use of freshly harvest local peaches. 

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Bell’s Brewery moves from Skokie Valley to Lakeshore Beverage for Chicagoland distro

Bell’s Brewery moves from Skokie Valley to Lakeshore Beverage for Chicagoland distro

Press Release:

(Comstock, MI) – Bell’s Brewery is announcing a distributor change in the Chicagoland area.

After eight years, Lakeshore Beverage will assume service for the distribution footprint of Skokie Valley Beverage Co., effective April 4, 2016.

This transition is expected to be seamless and the availability of Bell’s entire portfolio will be uninterrupted on the north side of Chicago and northern Cook County.

ABOUT LAKESHORE BEVERAGE:
Lakeshore Beverage is a Chicagoland distributor that is deeply passionate about bringing the world’s best beers and beverages to the world’s best city. The Company was founded in January 2014 with the merging of the five separate distributorships of City Beverage and River North. Since then, Lakeshore Beverage has transitioned to one distributorship operating five warehouses with a corporate office located in the West Loop of downtown Chicago. A member of the Hand Family Companies, Lakeshore Beverage distributes approximately 23.5 million annual case equivalents and has approximately 650 employees.

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New Belgium Fat Tire now flowing at new Asheville brewery, 25th anniv. party planned

New Belgium Fat Tire now flowing at new Asheville brewery, 25th anniv. party planned
New Belgium Brewhouse Shot
New Belgium Footbridge BeerPulse
New Belgium Liquid Center BeerPulse

Press Release:

Milestone marks the start of New Belgium’s Asheville production

(Asheville, NC) – New Belgium Brewing’s flagship Fat Tire Amber Ale is flowing from their Asheville brewery and heading toward draft lines and cold boxes across the eastern United States. With production ramping up over the next few years, the 500,000 barrel capacity, 127,000 square-foot brewery gives the country’s fourth-largest craft brewer 1.5 million barrels of total capacity.

“This is truly a proud moment for all of us here at New Belgium,” said Christine Perich, New Belgium President and CEO. “Over the last 25 years, we have grown from a basement operation to a state-of-the-art brewery with homes on both sides of the country. So many folks have leaned in and helped along the way, we’d love to just take a moment and raise a glass to say ‘thank you’.”

New Belgium Brewing started in the basement of a Fort Collins, Colorado home in 1991 and this year will mark the company’s 25th anniversary. The Asheville brewery will focus on producing Fat Tire, while also flavor matching test brews for Ranger IPA and 1554 to finish commissioning the Asheville brewery. They will ramp up brands based on demand. The east coast locale minimizes their distribution footprint and enables the brewery to engage with guests in a meaningful way through tastings and tours.

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Narragansett to brew beer in Rhode Island for first time since 1983 thanks to new facility

Narragansett to brew beer in Rhode Island for first time since 1983 thanks to new facility
Narragansett The Guild Rendering

Press Release:

Hi Neighbors!

As I write this, I’m sitting on the floor of what has been my office for the last 11 years. Boxes on my left, bubble wrap on my right, and someone keeps stealing the tape gun. For the past week I have been working my way through a room full of great stories. Stacks of memorabilia, documents, and photos all waiting to be sorted, packed, and with a little luck, shared again. Artifacts from the original Narragansett brewery in Cranston to napkins with decade-old ideas scratched onto them – everything seems to come with a story. As I pack, the sheer size of what we’ve accomplished and what this company really means begins to come into focus.

From 1890 to 1983, Narragansett Beer must have been one of New England’s largest producers of great stories, and many of those stories have ended up in this room. Workers openly drinking on the job. The case that fell off of the truck for a friend. The Hi Neighbor bus transporting bar patrons to Red Sox games. Larger than life characters like Curt Gowdy, Irene Hennessey, Dr. Seuss, Captain Quint, and the legend of part tour guide and part stand-up comedian John English. The memories are endless.

I grew up here in East Providence with our Brewmaster, Sean Larkin, stayed around to play baseball for Brown, and my wife and I are now raising four daughters here. Rhode Island is my home, and any true Rhode Islander takes that sentiment to heart.

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Coleccion de la Casa Reserva 2015 — Directo De Alambique

Coleccion de la Casa Reserva 2015 — Directo De Alambique

Tequila Herradura, a brand of Brown-Forman Corp., released the fourth Coleccion de la Casa Reserva 2015 — Directo de Alambique. Directo is made from 100 percent blue agave without barrel aging. Bottled at 110 proof, the small-batch tequila is hand-harvested and produced using agave grown at the Casa Herradura hacienda. It is fermented with natural yeast and bottled directly from the still. The clear tequila offers notes of sweet agave, green pepper, citrus and a hint of herbs and spaces, which provide a smooth, complex and prolonged presence, the company says. Available while supplies last in California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York and Texas, the tequila is packaged in 750-ml bottles that retail for $89.99.

Brown-Forman Corp., Louisville, Ky.
Telephone: (502) 585-1100
Internet: www.herradura.com
Distribution: Select markets
 

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Luxco finalizes plans on new distillery to meet whiskey demand

Luxco finalizes plans on new distillery to meet whiskey demand

St. Louis-based Luxco announced the company has finalized plans to build a distillery in Nelson County, Ky. Luxco has chosen to build the distillery on a 70-acre site off state highway KY-245 in the heart of Bardstown and Bourbon Capital of the World, it says. The company announced preliminary plans for the distillery in late 2015, and the distillery is expected to be fully operational by late 2017.

Construction on the project will begin in this summer. When finished, the distillery will be approximately 18,000 square feet, have six barrel warehouses and will employ an estimated 34 people. In addition, the distillery will feature a tasting room and event space and will offer visitors a new stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, the company says.

“We are looking forward to building the distillery on this scenic property and in such a central location in Bardstown,” said David Bratcher, president and chief operations officer of Luxco, in a statement. “We intend the distillery to be a welcoming stop for those visiting the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and we are excited to bring our bourbon experience and brands to Nelson County.”

The distillery will be built alongside an existing house on the property, which is registered as a National Historic Place and will remain on the property, the company says.

With the growth of Luxco’s bourbon brands, which include Rebel Yell, Blood Oath and Ezra Brooks, the company said it decided to build its new distillery in order to meet its increasing whiskey demand.    

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Beer Friday #9

Beer Friday #9
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It's Beer Friday #9, and beer is a famous aid to love (ill-considered and otherwise), and it's Date Night in the Bryson home, so...what else could we play but this classic?

It's also the last Beer Friday before Session Beer Day, April 7, so today I'm doing all session beers, as defined on the Session Beer Project page: tasty, multi-pint drinkable, and 4.5% ABV or less. Pretty easy, these days.

Guinness Dublin Porter, 3.8%

I've had this beer three times now: last July at Davy Byrne's in Dublin, last month at...Davy Byrne's in Dublin (lucky, what can I say?), and now today. The other two were draft; this is not significantly different, which is great. One thing that won't happen today is that little frisson of sheer terror I felt when I thought the manager pulled out a pistol in the back of the place while having a sharp discussion with a waiter; turned out to be a heat gun that he was using to touch up the weatherstripping. It was a moment, though, I'll tell ya.

I'll tell ya this, too: if you're looking for "robust" porter, or "imperial" porter, or "Baltic" porter...this ain't it. This is a quaffer, and it has a very light body, a light roasted grain quality, a light chocolate note, and a hint of hop bitterness at the close. That said...if I had another, I'd drink it, like I did at Davy Byrne's. I've heard people slag this beer for being too thin; during last year's "heat wave" in Dublin (got up to almost 80°!!), it was beautifully quenching. Just what it's for. Still, I have to admit, if there were a good mild on, or Deuchar's, I'd probably be one-and-done on this one.

Verdict: Okay

Magic Hat Low Key Session IPA, 4.5%

I'll be honest: "session IPA" has become increasingly problematic for me. It's come to symbolize the depressingly low amount of true variety in American brewing, and the reductio ad amaritudinem of the beer-drinking niche masses. "All Must Become IPA" seems to be the challenge phrase of brewers ("Unless It Is Sour" being the in-group response). And since brewers started making "session IPA", the whining resistance to lower ABV beers has diminished significantly. As I remarked years ago about pilsners; as long as they have their hop-soaked sucktoy, they're fine.

Still, it's all session today, and what's in the fridge is what's in the fridge, so session IPA it is. Magic Hat's had a weird history with IPA for me. There was Blind Faith, which was good, and then not so good, and then good again. There was HiPA, which I loved, till it disappeared, and now it seems to be back again. There's the grapefruit-infused Electric Peel, which despite a growing suspicion of the whole fruited IPA movement on my part, I kinda like. And now there's this. Let's see.

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Allagash Sixteen Counties being redone, made first new year-round beer in two years

Allagash Sixteen Counties being redone, made first new year-round beer in two years

[Photo Credit: Allagash Brewing]

Press Release:

(Portland, ME) – As every grade school student in the state of Maine learns through song, there are “sixteen counties in our state.” It is in honor of these counties that Allagash Brewing Company has named its first new year round beer in two years: Sixteen Counties.

“Sixteen Counties is named to honor the rich tradition of farming in the state of Maine,” says founder and brewer Rob Tod. “The quality of Maine-grown malts for brewing has been steadily improving and we’re excited to be able to showcase these farms in a beer.”

Grains and malts in this new beer come from farms around Maine. Maine Malt House and Blue Ox provide malted barley (“base malt”), Aurora Mills Organic provides oats, and Maine Grains Alliance provides unmalted wheat.

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