Stephen Allison

Stephen Allison holds Certified Sommelier, Certified Cicerone, and WSET Level 3 Award in Sake distinctions and is a former Sommelier with the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.

How to Read a Sake Label, Part 1: Ginjo Explained

By Stephen Allison | April 7, 2019 |

Sake is a captivating beverage. For me, part of its allure lies in its diversity of style: sake can taste rich and savory or delicate and fruity, can be served chilled or piping hot, and is equally at home in a crystal wine glass or an unassuming ceramic tumbler. It can even be aged (called…

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Highlights from the 2019 Garagiste Solvang Wine Festival

By Stephen Allison | March 6, 2019 |

In 2011, Stewart McLennan and Doug Minnick co-founded the Garagiste Wine Festival to showcase the best undiscovered small-production winemakers in California. If you’re curious, Garagiste is a term from the 1990s used in Bordeaux to reference a new style of wine crafted by new producers largely in St. Emilion and Pomerol. The wines were made…

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Mexican-Style Lager Roundup: Tecate, Modelo, and Calidad

By Stephen Allison | March 1, 2019 |

The Mexican lager is a style more associated with slices of lime and dashes of salt than ample flavor. Chances are you’re not buying a 30-pack of Tecate to impress, you’re looking for something ice-cold to occupy red solo cups while you put in some hard training for the World Series of Beer Pong. Very…

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Review: Upslope Kolsch and 2019 Experimental IPA

By Stephen Allison | February 16, 2019 |

In the crowded craft beer industry, awash with quality brews in an array of styles, how does one stand out? One tiring trend is to make the beer louder: big hop aroma, high alcohol, 100 IBUs, colorful labels, barrel aging, and the like. So when Colorado’s Upslope Brewing Company contacted Drinkhacker with their unassuming label…

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Review: Tedorigawa Iki na Onna “Lady Luck” Daiginjo Sake

By Stephen Allison | February 5, 2019 |

The Tedorigawa brand was introduced to me through the documentary The Birth of Sake. The film follows the brewery through a difficult six-month brewing season, which illustrates the skill and dedication required to brew sake in the traditional manner. The process is so demanding that brewers must live at the brewery communal style, removed from all…

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Tasting Aberlour Single Malts at the Burns Supper Celebration, 2019

By Stephen Allison | February 3, 2019 |

On January 25, 1759, the great Scottish bard Robert Burns was born. I am slightly ashamed to admit that I was entirely unfamiliar with Burns, but I am now well acquainted as the folks at Aberlour distillery invited Drinkhacker to a traditional and relaxed Burns Supper at Palo Alto’s MacArthur Park restaurant. According to our…

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Review: Nanbu Bijin “Southern Beauty” Tokubetsu Junmai Sake

By Stephen Allison | January 27, 2019 |

“Tokubetsu,” which translates to “special selection,” is a vague term much like “reserve” in the wine world. More often than not it refers to a sake with non-ginjo attributes but polished to a ginjo level. Confused? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Consider this: Fruity aromas such as honeydew melon define ginjo styles, yet these aromas…

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