Friday, May 24, 2013

Side By Side Returns, a good wine for a great cause.

It is that time of year again, Side by Side wine has returned to F&E.  Its a good wine with a great cause.  $1 from each sale goes to Azalea Charities, a charity dedicated to assisting wounded US and UK veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

This Memorial Day, as we in America remember those who served in the armed forces of our country or our comrades in arms from the UK, you can do a solid for those service members working their way back to "normal."

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Bud Black Crown, better than regular Bud, and that's about it.

I saw the splashy launch of Budweiser Black Crown ("BBC") during the Superbowl, and after tasting it my impression is that I don't think BBC will make it till the next one.  Like Bud Platinum before it, I don't see the purpose of trying to be what you are not and stake a claim to the premium beer category when the product does not live up to it. 

BBC in for a lot of abuse from the craft beer perfectionists, as it should.  It does not live up to the Superbowl hype, which is not to say it is a bad beer, just not a good one either.  BBC is a straight ahead, fair American lager with a touch more sweetness and more hops than regular Bud.  There's a bit of orange on the nose, then a wave of caramel, and then a slightly stale grassy finish but you are still left with the typical Budweiser dead wet cardboard feel.  

If this was an attempt to co-opt the craft beer market, it failed.  If this was introduced to replace regular red canned Bud it would be a win.  Since AB wants a premium of $1-2 per six pack for this beer I would skip it and buy some Sam Adams instead.  Just one man’s opinion.

Maker's Mark Rethinks Cutting Alcohol Content

Since I was posting anyway did anyone notice how quickly Maker's Mark walked this one back?  I have noticed as I get older that my tastes in alcohol is changing as well.  I tend to drink more whiskey and wine than vodka and beer, it is, what it is.  During lent I can't drink Scotch, so it is nice having bourbon on hand. For those of you who do not know the varieties, I found a great family tree.

 aqua vitae = "water of life"

Maker's Mark and Gentleman Jack are my go to bourbons, and both great products.  The thought by Maker's Mark was to reduce the proof from 90 to 84 so that they could produce more bottles overall to keep up with demand. I don't understand the thinking of actively undermining you brand by changing the formulation during a period of unprecedented success but I still remember New Coke, and the reason that the Coke (less and less as well) I buy is now branded Coca Cola Classic.  Thankfully they came to their senses and reversed course.

Its been a while, gas prices are up and wine prices too.

Its been forever since I posted last.  Work has been busy and I have had some occasional travel to the beautiful pacific northwest.  Thankfully things are starting to hit a happy medium again.   The boys and Cameron are all well and since it is lent I gave up Scotch again, so back to wine and beer I guess.

I was surprised to read a last month that Trader Joe's has done the inevitable and raised the price on their flagship Charles Shaw wine from $1.99 to $2.49.  Though I guess it could still be called two buck Chuck, I had abandoned it several years ago when wine quality had plummeted and a bottle gave me more of a headache than any enjoyment.

Never fear budget minded wine drinkers, thankfully Big Kahuna is still plugging along at $1.99.  If you hit the right sale you can get it for even less.

Even though the brand has a decidedly American surfer motif, it is actually produced in Spain.  Consequently the Tempranillo, a grape varietal native to Spain is the best of the lineup.  Cameron likes the Cabernet a bit better than some of the mid priced Cabs that we had been drinking so for a weeknight this has become our go to bottle.

If there was one theme in this blog it is the appreciation of wine without pretense.  The Big Kahuna line is the epitome of this.  An introductory price-point wine of good quality where you find out what varietals you generally enjoy, no special tools needed.  The screw cap though lacking in romance is practical and eliminates the need for a corkscrew to open the wine or vacuum pump to preserve the leftovers. Leave the pretense behind and grab a bottle and a couple glasses, for the price you will not be disappointed. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Craft Beers Gargoyle IPA

I know that technically this is a wine blog, but man cannot live by wine alone.  There are times that pizza and burgers must be eaten and you have to seek out a good beer.  To be honest F&E has not had a good track record of  putting out a decent house brand beer, which is why they may be putting them by the bathroom.  Pairing with an Indian Wells brewery. this selection is completely different.   I think F&E is finally serious about putting some good beers on the table.

Gargoyle IPA $8

Gargoyle F&E's take on a straight ahead India Pale Ale.  Gargoyle has strong hop notes and a traditional bitter note on the taste almost like a British beer.  Medium gold in color with a crisp slightly citrus finish it is everything I look for in an IPA.   At $8 for a 4 pack its a little pricier than other options but its a fun choice for a poker night provision.

A preview of the 4 new craft beers.  $8 only at F&E.

This is one of 4 new craft style beers that have recently rolled out.  I like the direction that F&E is going with these.  I can't wait to try the others.  Cheers and best wishes for a Happy New Year to you all.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Back in the saddle with Napa Family Vineyards Cabernet 2010

Hey everyone!  With all the changes since September the Blog has been put on the back burner.  We welcomed our second child in early September and have been adjusting to having two little ones around the house.  My love of a good drink remains but those first few weeks were spent sleeping not catching up on a backlog of new wine and beer.

Bryant informing Will and I its time to get up. 
Due to the extra rugrat we are trying to eat in more often but still with style.  Carm is in the process of trying out some entertaining recipes that we can throw parties with, so if your in the Long Beach area we hope to have you over to the house soon.  To pair with the tasty experiment tonight we tried the Napa Family Vineyards (NFV) Cabernet Sauvignon.
NFV Cabernet Sauvignon 
The NFV is the Cab counterpart to the Meritage I featured several weeks back. This Cab is a medal winner in its own right winning awards at the Critics Challenge Intl. Wine Competition 2011 and Los Angeles International Wine Competition, 2011.  The NFV Cab is a young fruity Cabernet with a good nose and bright fruit flavors.  It is a full bodied classic Napa Cab so it is intense with the taste of dark berries.  Carm felt the alcohol content was a bit much but I thought it was tasty with that intensity.  The price point is about the same as its brand mate around $10~ which is a good value for a wine this good.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

End of Summer Pool Party; Grilling Burgers and Dogs While Sipping Dutch Republic

When I was in college my buddies would give me nothing but grief for my love of fruity mixed drinks, who am I kidding they still give me grief over this.  Coming from a family that drank cheap beer there was a reason I didn't like beer back in 1994; up till then I had never tasted a beer worth liking.  

I left for UC San Diego in June of 1994, which was fortunate for me because it coincided with a surge in great micro brewing.  Sierra Nevada had made it down to San Diego from the Pacific Northwest, Sam Adams was being distributed more widely from Boston, Karl Strauss [god bless his soul] was just beginning to distribute his micro brews and would open his first brew pub when we were Juniors.  From the more commercial side I enjoyed was Heineken and Pacifico, the benefit was that I could find them almost anywhere.  All in all the early 90's was a great time to learn and taste good beer.  

Carm wanted to have a small get together this afternoon before Labor Day, but since all the girls are now expecting I skipped the wine today and just picked up some beer for the guys.  The fun thing about this Blog is that I think more about what I drink..  I felt like drinking a Dutch Pale Lager and no longer felt confined to buy the most familiar thing. 

Dutch Pale Lager for $4

I selected Dutch Republic (DR) from F&E which retails for $4 a six pack to pair with some fresh hamburgers and kosher hot dogs.  I opened the first bottle while I was grilling and was shocked.  I like Heineken; a lot, I was stunned to realize that I liked DR a bit more.  

DR is a traditional crisp tasting Dutch Pale Lager with a clear amber color.  Its best quality however is the smooth finish which really sets it apart from its more famous competitor, Heineken.  At $3 less a six pack this is a great value for a great tasting beer.