Now that I’ve got my first homebrew under my belt, what’s next? Perhaps a spin through the Home Brew Recipe Bible: An Incredible Array of 101 Craft Beer Recipes, From Classic Styles to Experimental Wilds, will spur some ideas?
Chris Colby’s tome isn’t so much a bible as it is an encyclopedia, a straightforward cookbook for producing over 100 different beer styles, one after the other. I can’t seem to think of any type of beer that isn’t fully covered in the book, with Colby delving into such obscurities as black IPA, eisbock, and gueuze. Sours and oddball brews like sweet potato bitter and peanut butter porter are also included.
It’s not a book for the novice. While some of the recipes are starter brews, Colby quickly takes you into more advanced territory — and those looking for hand-holding, babysitting, or pictorial instructions simply won’t find them here. For seasoned homebrewers who want a growler-full of recipes all in one place, however, this is a great addition to the library.
A- / $19 / [BUY IT NOW FROM AMAZON]
We all drink whisky on Robert Burns’ birthday (January 25), but if you really want to wow folks, get your hands on a box of L.A. Burdicks’ Robert Burns Chocolate collection, which is available only during this time of the year.
Each box of about 36 bonbons (1/2 a pound) includes multiples of seven different items, each made with a different whisky. Those include Lagavulin, Macallan, Talisker, Springbank, Highland Park, and Glenfarclas. A final chocolate is a whisky honey truffle made with an unspecified whisky.
These are some amazing chocolates and, even though mine got a little freezer burned during shipping thanks to some unseasonably cold weather, they are absolutely delightful and totally worth getting. Order now in time for Burns Night!
More specific reviews and ratings of the individual chocolates can be found here.
$42 / burdickchocolate.com
Kerrygold Irish Cream is the latest Irish cream liqueur on the market, and these two cocktails presented by the company are both delightful and worth checking out.
The Macchiato Martini will please those chocolate lovers among us. We like the idea of chocolate syrup because you can customize the chocolate to the imbiber — milk chocolate versus dark chocolate and how heavy they prefer either. A nice touch would be to add a dessert-like stick as a stirrer, such as a Pepperidge Farm Creme Filled Pirouette Rolled Wafer instead of the cookie crumbles. If you want to kick it up a notch, add an ounce of vodka.
1 oz. Kerrygold Irish Cream Liqueur
1 shot espresso
1/2 oz. chocolate syrup
Shake all ingredients with ice. Strain the ingredients into a martini glass with no ice. Garnish with chocolate cookie crumbles.
The Butter Me Up cocktail will certainly butter up any fan of ice cream. Sweet and creamy, all it needs is a slice of cake on the side to turn it into a perfect birthday style celebration.
Butter Me Up
From The Blind Pig Speakeasy, Dublin
1 oz. Kerrygold Irish Cream Liqueur
1/2 oz. vanilla liqueur
1/2 oz. butterscotch liqueur
1 oz. fresh cream
1 scoop vanilla ice cream
Shake all of the ingredients with ice. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Garnish with 1/2 of a strawberry. (Why a half? Heck, go ahead and toss the whole strawberry in there, then enjoy!)
Alabama-based Clyde May’s recently added two new straight bourbons to its lineup. Unlike its prior whiskey releases, these are unfinished and unflavored with apple (or other seasonings) and thus represent a more traditional bourbon style. Which is, I suppose, what they really are.
Both of the new whiskeys are sourced from an unknown supplier in Kentucky (not Indiana). The Straight Bourbon is 5 years old. A cask strength offering, not reviewed here, is 8 years old. There’s not a ton of information on its production, except that “this non-chill filtered straight bourbon is a classic 5-year-old, easy drinking spirit. Using simple and traditional ingredients, the bourbon mash is patiently aged in heavily “alligator” charred new American oak barrels.”
And it is indeed a perfectly serviceable rendition of a five year old American bourbon. The nose is lightly spicy (a moderate rye mash, I’d guess) and heavy with barrel char notes, vanilla, and cocoa powder. On the palate, the sweet vanilla notes roll into light touches of orange peel, some nutmeg, and a hint of bitter licorice on the back end. A lingering finish evokes popcorn and more rustic barrel char — perhaps indicative of this being bottled a year too soon? — with a drying, savory fade-out.
92 proof. Reviewed: Batch #CM-079. (Though it’s hard to tell if this is a legit batch number or just flavor text on every label.)
B+ / $40 / clydemays.com
Patron Tequila is a favorite of many drinkers, so we whipped up a pair of their recommended cocktails featuring two tequilas from the Patron XO Café collection: Patron XO Café Coffee and Patron XO Café Dark Cocoa. Both are luscious and would fit in as an after dinner drink or served with dessert.
The first is called Baby Stout. It is a very simple drink but packs in the flavor. The coffee flavors are sweet and strong like dark coffee, tasting like a creamy Irish cream espresso. Take a sip, roll it across your tongue to warm up the mouth and you’ll be ready for more.
1 oz. Patron XO Café Coffee Tequila
.5 oz. Irish cream liqueur
Pour the Patron XO Café Coffee into a shot glass and chill. (You can also chill the Patron on its own first.) Top off with Irish cream so that it resembles a miniature glass of stout beer and serve.
The second recipe is Jalisco Coffee Swizzle. It calls for the Patron XO Café Coffee. Instead, we used Patron XO Café Dark Cocoa. Wonderfully sweet, the coffee tones blend through to the finish as the underlying chocolate joins in the pleasure. This one is recommended for the mocha lovers of the world.
Jalisco Coffee Swizzle
1.75 oz. Patron XO Café Dark Cocoa Tequila
1 oz. spiced sugar syrup (We made our own with equal parts of sugar and water, then added cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg before boiling to dissolve the sugar. Be sure to let it cool before using.)
Add both ingredients to an old fashioned glass, add crushed ice, and stir with a cinnamon stick. You can also garnish it with orange peel before serving.
Wyoming’s first legal distillery, Wyoming Whiskey, only began production in 2009, but despite its youth the distillery already has an impressive portfolio of its own aged whiskeys. These include a Small Batch, Single Barrel, and Bonded Straight American Whiskey. Of course the rarest of them all has received the most excitement in the whiskey world of late. Released in the fall of 2015, the extremely limited Barrel Strength Bourbon was a run of only 111 bottles from two leaking “honey” barrels filled in the distillery’s first year. Only 96 of those bottles actually made it to retail, with slightly more than half bottled at 120 proof (the rest at 116 proof).
The distillery says that Sam Mead, Wyoming Whiskey’s head distiller, identified the two barrels as being of high quality even before they started to leak significantly. The accelerated oxidation elevated the whiskey into another class entirely, and a new addition to the Wyoming Whiskey lineup was born. So how good is it?
The first thing to jump out on this whiskey is its deep copper color. On the nose, the unusual oxidation comes through immediately with wet oak and mustiness at first, but that quickly fades to freshly baked oatmeal cookies, buttery cinnamon, and a little mint. On the palate, there’s a gentle heat up front and big flavors of molasses and oily, Madagascar vanilla that give way to black tea, cardamom, and spearmint. The finish has fading notes of allspice and anise. It seems a tad short, but maybe only because I really want that next sip.
Even though it’s on the younger side (under six years), Wyoming Whiskey’s Barrel Strength Bourbon drinks with the balance and refinement of a whiskey twice its age. If not for the initial “rickhouse quality” in this whiskey, it would rival some of the best barrel strength bourbons of the last few years. Unfortunately, this bottle is beyond rare and not exactly cheap, but if you find it, by all means buy a pour. And take the whole bottle home if you can.
A / $199 / wyomingwhiskey.com
The Jos. A. Magnus Distillery can be found in Washington, DC, and its home in the capital is only fitting, considering the company is making some of the most interesting whiskey in America. Joseph Magnus & Co. was a distillery founded in 1892 — and reestablished by Magnus’s great grandson over 100 years later. Inspired by some dusty old bottles of original Magnus bourbon, the new distilling team — which is full of American whiskey luminaries — attempted to recreate the original spirit. The secret sauce: finishing in a variety of different types of barrels. Nine-year old bourbon distillate (sourced from MGP) goes into three finishing barrels — Pedro Ximinez sherry, Oloroso sherry, and Cognac — before bottling.
On the nose, the ochre-hued Joseph Magnus offers a rich array of aromas, focusing on roasted nuts, coffee, dried fruits, and incense. Subtle notes of furniture polish give it quite a bit of depth and many layers of intrigue. The palate doesn’t let you down, offering a relatively racy attack that speaks first of citrus, chocolate, and cloves. As it develops in the glass, the bourbon takes on more wine-forward notes, which meld interestingly with the darker coffee notes and the sweeter vanilla and caramel characteristics that bubble up after some air time. The finish echoes barrel char from the original time in cask, giving the rich and somewhat oily whiskey a relatively traditional bourbonesque exit.
Really fun stuff. Worth seeking out.
100 proof. Reviewed: Batch #3.
A- / $80 / josephmagnus.com