August 9, 2022

Recent Adventures on the Drinking Trail

The winter season is always one of my favorite times of the year. In the booze world, it coincides with the release of all the fantastic seasonal beverages for fall and winter, particularly in the beer world. I’ve been busy as can be personally the last several months, so it’s always nice to take a moment to relax and enjoy the simple pleasure of a good meal and a tasty beverage. To start the New Year, I’m just going to recap a few of my recent enjoyable experiences in the drinking world, some seasonal, some not, that you hopefully get to enjoy sometime soon as well.

Three recent experiences in the beer world that all merit mention: The Big Bad Baptist from Epic Brewing out of Salt Lake City; Java Lava from Left Hand Brewing out of Longmont, Colorado; and the beers of Tenaya Creek Brewing out of Las Vegas. I do love my dark beers on a cold night.

Big Bad Baptist

I recently had the pleasure of trying the Big Bad Baptist on tap at a local pizza and beer joint with an excellent selection. The Baptist is an Imperial Stout that comes in around 11.4% alcohol. It’s brewed with Ibis Gayo Mountain Sumatran Dark coffee and cocoa nibs for a rich, robust, chocolate and coffee flavor. The beer also sees a bit of time aging in old whiskey and bourbon casks, and picks up a bit of that smoky/sweet flavor. If you enjoy a dark brew, and want a robust winter warmer to sip on a cold night, you can’t go wrong with the Baptist.

Java Lava

In a similar vein, if you enjoy a shot of coffee in your beer, then look out for Java Lava from Left Hand. It’s a Porter style that came about in Left Hand’s annual pro-am competition where a local homebrewer pairs with the brewmaster to brew a commercial version of their winning beer. Java Lava is a hearty, dark, malty brew with a noticeable up front dark roast coffee flavor. The brew recently took home the prize for best pro-am beer at the GABF, too.

Tenaya Creek

Tenaya Creek was a find that was made courtesy of a recent beer festival. I sampled their Oktoberfest Lager and Red Ryder Ale, both of which were excellent. Tenaya Creek was the consensus best beer find in the opinion of my tasting companions that evening, and if you manage to find it in your local market, give it try. If not, Vegas is only a short road trip away.

Other Adventures Worth Mentioning

Moving over to the wine world, I recently had the pleasure of enjoying a nice 2011 Albariño from the group at Tangent. It was a nice, crisp, flavorful white with good apple and citrus fruit forward character, excellent acid balance, clean finish, and that pleasant hint of floral that a good Albariño always gives. Melville Vineyards and Winery is next on the list with their 2009 Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir. It had bright black cherry fruit character, excellent depth, and nice back palate spice notes that good quality Central Coast Pinot in known for delivering.

I also had the pleasure of enjoying a 2009 Caymus Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. While I’ve experienced Caymus before, it’s always a treat to taste one of Napa’s icons. The Cab is big, bold, and powerful like most top Napa Cabs. It has excellent dark cassis fruit flavors up front, very smooth tannins, and a long, complex finish that lingers with a range of spice and dark cocoa flavors. Caymus doesn’t come cheap, but is always worth the price if you’re looking to treat yourself to something special.

One quick cocktail experience to relate is the return to an old favorite that I haven’t done in a while. A recent trip for oxtails and jerk chicken at a local Jamaican hole-in-wall prompted the purchase of a dark n’ stormy. It’s a blend of dark rum, ginger beer, and a shot of lime juice. It’s light, refreshing, and while not much of a winter warmer, it does put a smile on the face. I recommend Gosling’s Black Seal as the rum of choice, and Gosling’s ginger beer is always a good choice to pair with it for the cocktail.

I’m about to board a plane for China, so hopefully my year ends with a few more food and beverage adventures. In the meantime, hopefully these suggestions provide a little enjoyment in your life. Happy New Year to everyone, with a toast to good times ahead.
Remember to drink responsibly.

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