Rattle and Hum

Vermilion and I went beer tasting after ice skating, at Rattle and Hum, a cozy pub on West 32nd, that has beer flights!  So you can sample four glasses of whatever intrigues, without committing to a whole pint.  As you will see, this is sometimes a very good thing.

There was a Dark Star cask festival going on.  The casks were archaic-looking and beautiful, in a Trappist monk sort of way.

Dark Star Festival- peaty, served at tepid temperature.  Amber.  Smooth taste, not very carbonated.  Warming for winter.  Not sweet, initially, but warms to sweeter, almost silken.

Dark star Old Man- The taste unfurls slowly, with a baroque curl in the center that says “farmhouse ale.”  Very British, tepid, minimally carbonated.


Weyerbacher Muse- flat, pretentious fraternity beer.  Rye bread, wet socks , pickles and artificial grape.  Starts out tasting like overpriced PBR, and then turns nightmarish.

Victory Stout- smoky and smooth, delightful.  Not quite as bready or chewy as Guinness, more coffee and woodsmoke flavors.  Begs to pair with stew!

Elysian “The Wise” ESB- British pub style bitter.  Smooth and balanced.  Stop the presses, I’ve found a bitter I like.  Bitter, but not puckeringly tannic and bitter.  I could actually drink this happily.

High and Mighty Beer Gods- Makes me agnostic.  Flat, bitter, pale, almost green-tinted looking.  I had a sip, then stared sullenly at it.  Terrible.


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Vermilion’s Notebook – Fall 2008

Sixpoint Hop Obama
This is a beer that reaches across the aisle, taking a compassionate but centrist stance. It appeals to the educated palate, with a big but refined brown malt flavor and spicy notes of hops that keep the hope alive. This beer gets my vote!

Two Brothers Bitter End
Like bitter farmers who have sold their souls for the corn subsidies. Not good.

Retasted in bottle, 8/1/2009: What happened! Suddenly I’m finding this a very refreshing summer beer, well balanced, with a toasty body and nice, eye-opening citrusy notes and a very pleasant straight bite of hops. Entirely sessionable. Perhaps there was something wrong with the tap on original tasting?

Elysian Dragontooth Stout
A beautiful dark, silky stout, powerfully malty with just enough of a hops note to keep it awake. Smooth, rich and deadly, like a Venetian courtesan at midnight.

Elysian Avatar Jasmine IPA
A light, crisp IPA with dried jasmine flowers added to the boil to give it an odd and wonderful jasmine tea effect. Surprisingly delicious!

Dogfish Head Sah’tea
A modern take on a 9th century Finnish rye beer. A citrusy, grainy nose and a really light, fresh body, with tasty and not overpowering fruity notes. Rye gives some added character to the Weizen style. Very interesting spicy character from being brewed with a concoction of juniper, coriander, lemongrass, ramps and black tea. But still surprisingly mild and easily quaffable. LOVED this and could happily drink it every day (if only!).

Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron
Dark. Daaaaaaark. Like a cozy night after a wood fire has slowly gone out. Syrupy, with caramel that coats the tongue, backed up by tangy hops that pop like sparks. Almost coats the tongue enough to mask the high alcohol. Very sultry and delicious.

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Quinta de La Rosa Port 1999

Quinta de La Rosa Late Bottled Vintage 1999

I’ve had this bottle for ages.

Brought it to Boston to drink with BuckyDT, in honor of his homemade Stilton.

Stilton didn’t pan out, so other plans.  Dark chocolate, silly movie.

Deep, maroon color, smells like ripe plums.

BuckyDT says:  “sweet, light, fruity.  Cherries!”  Disagreeing with “velvet” he says “worn cotton t-shirt, like boy cotton, much laundered.”

Bocfretu says: Plums.  Definitely plums.  And velvet.  Feel it in my knees, which is how I know good port and good chocolate.

pair with very dark chocolate.

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North Fork wine tour

A few wine notes from our trip to the North Fork of Long Island. We only visited a few of the wineries (Bedell, Lenz, Duck Walk, Shinn and Martha Clara) but still managed to try quite a few nice things!

Ripe Gewürztraminer at Lenz vineyards.

Osprey’s Dominion Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Tart and sour red berries, reminiscent of sour Flemish red beer! (Normally that type of beer reminds me of this kind of wine… funny to find the association in reverse!) After opening up remained thin and acidic, but gained a really nice smooth chocolatey overtone.
Macari “Katherine’s Field” Sauvignon Blanc 2007
Light and very airy. Fruit flavors not strong, but very refreshing acidity. (Had with fettucine with fresh local clams and chorizo and garlic bread.)
Corey Creek Rosé 2007 (Merlot/Cab. Franc/Cab. Sauvignon)
Nice acidity and very light, but wants a stronger fruit extraction to fill out the mouth. This was a first — we don’t usually complain about not enough fruityness in rosé!

Bedell First Crush White 2007 (Chardonnay 80%/Viognier20%)
Big fresh fruit, happily unoaked, with a little hint of floral orange blossom from the viognier and a good zip of acidity throughout. Great with fresh summer fruits and veggies. (Was perfect with local corn, heirloom tomatoes, chevre and strawberry rhubarb tarts.)

 Bedell First Crush Red 2007 (Merlot/Cab. Franc)
A warm, friendly blend, lightly peppery with a nice balance of acidity and cozy fruit. One of our favorite reds.
Bedell Merlot 2006
Simple Merlot, light, oaky, peppery with a nice streak of red currant berries.
Bedell Taste Red 2006 (Merlot/Syrah)
Toasty tannins and richly extracted fruit. Smooth and rich and really tasty!
Bedell Taste White 2007 (Chardonnay/Gewürztraminer/Viognier/Sauv. Blanc)
Very smooth! Lovely floral, fruity aromas… a really nice blend of all those disparate grapes. Would be great with light but fatty foods, like antipasti or tapas. Would be magical with serrano ham, lardo, coppa, thinly-sliced pancetta or pork belly. Or fatty fish, like toro tuna.

Bedell Gallery 2006 (Chardonnay/Viognier)
Lightly oaked, flavors of clover, honey, field flowers and meyer lemon. Would be fantastic with chicken, especially roasty chicken with some sort of a light honey glaze.

Lenz Old Vines Merlot 2001
Very earthy, with interesting tannic structure. Can definitely see how they would bring it into blind competitions against the Bordeaux heavyweights. Should mellow out nicely after a few more years of bottle age.
Lenz Estate Merlot 2001
Rich, lots of black cherries and strong structure. Lacks the deep earthyness of the old vines Merlot, but makes up for it with more approachable fruit.

Duck Walk Pinot Grigio 2007
Lots of pineapple flavor, flowery, a little bitter. May have had too much skin contact?

Duck Walk Southampton White NV (Pinot Gris/Chardonnay)
Very fresh and acidic, smooth, like fresh water with a bit of a kick. Not much flavor, but very beachy… just like the Hamptons.

Duck Walk Petit Meunier 2005
Usually used as a blending grape in Champagne, was fun to have the chance to try it on its own in fully extracted form. Elegant and soft, with some serious smoky overtones. Would be marvelous paired with smoky meats (esp smoky duck!) and cheeses.

Duck Walk Aphrodite 2007 (LH Gewürztraminer)
Powerfully, overwhelmingly perfumey. Tasted like Honey Nut Cheerios to T.

Duck Walk Blueberry Port 2006
All those lovely Maine blueberries could have been put to use making delicious jam, pie, pancakes, waffles…. but no, they were sacrificed to make this lousy cough syrup. I mean port. Whatever. Alas for the blueberries!

Shinn Estate “Coalescence” White 2007 (Sauv. Blanc/Gewürztraminer/ Sémillon/Riesling/Chardonnay)
Very, very light. Citrusy and zippy and tastes very simple for such a complex blend!

Shinn Estate “First Fruit” 2007 (Sauv. Blanc/Sémillon)
Nice, fresh & fruity, with a hint of spicy fig.

Shinn Estate Rosé 2007
Zippy, acidic and minerally with a nice body of berry fruits. Very good Provençal style. This is the kind of rosé we like!

Shinn Estate Red NV (Merlot/Cab. Sauv.)
Rich and fruity, juicy and refreshing, with great tannic backbone. Non-vintage blends can be winners!

Shinn Estate Nine Barrel Reserve Merlot 2005
Tart! Very tasty and expressive flavors, berries with hints of violet. Wants decanting. Would be awesome with pork roast.

Martha Clara Pinot Grigio 2007
Warm citrusy flavors. Wants to be served icy ICY cold. Tasting notes suggested serving with Panzanella (Italian bread & tomato salad) and I agree.

Martha Clara “50” White 2007 (Sauv. Blanc/Viognier/Sémillon/ Chardonnay/Riesling/Pinot Gris/Gewürztraminer)
Meh. Too much blending muddies the flavors!

Martha Clara Viognier 2007
Perfumey and floral, rather lovely but needs more acidity to really pop.

Martha Clara Cabernet Franc 2003
Very tasty! Dried cherries and blackberries, with a strong chocolate overtone.

Martha Clara “50” 2005 (Merlot/Syrah/Cab. Sauv./Cab. Franc/Petit Verdot/Malbec)
Pleasant “session” wine, although nothing stood out to us very much. Too much in the blend again?

Martha Clara Estate Reserve Syrah 2004
Black peppery and vibrant. Pleasant surprise, as Long Island is not usually such a strong climate for Syrah!

Martha Clara “6025” 2004 (Merlot/Syrah/Cab. Sauv./Cab. Franc/Petit Verdot/Malbec)
Aha, the higher-end blend works much better. Zippy nose and very tasty berry and cigar box flavors in the mouth.

Martha Clara Ciel (Chardonnay/Viognier)
Mm! White grapes that have died and gone to heaven. Too intense and syrupy to drink straight up, but would be fantastic poured over good vanilla ice cream.

Borghese Sauvignon Blanc 2007
Strong exotic fruit, mango and passionfruit, balanced by enough acidity to keep it from being overwhelming.

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From Bocfretu’s Notebook

November ’06 beer notes

Ipswich flight

  • Oatmeal stout: Bready, yeasty, some kind of spice- nutmeg! As it warms, it tastes like root beer. Would go well with applesauce oat bread or other spice bread. Very autumnal.
  • Porter: Mocha, wants gamey food. Molasses, with sour undertone, very hunting lodge. Clean, and good for food.
  • Original American: Apricots! Especially after darker beers. Sweet, hoppy, with a definite divide between the two tastes coexisting. Peachier taste emerges as it warms. Drink with grilled fish, fish taco, mango salsa! Orange cloudy pale color. Dregs turn into an orange soda or orange peel flavor.
  • Winter Ale: Smoky, not meaty but fireplacey. Molasses, autumnal. Soggy cinnamon stick. Ultimately, disappointing. Falls apart after the first taste.
  • Dark Ale: Best in show! (Best in flight?) Five stars! Brown with reddish highlights. A porter in disguise? Tastes- caramel to red wine to coffee- makes the Ipswich porter taste watery. It turns into chocolate cake taste as it warms, also velvety and smooth. Pairs well with David Bowie. Dregs lighten to a red color.

  • Arcadia London Porter: Sweet and rich and reminds me of dessert. a big thick lovely head, like a root beer float. Sweet, chocolatey. Ice cream float with coffee aftertaste… and a grape popsicle in the middle??? Sudden banana taste midway down- WTF? Mostly brown sugar and cola in best possible way.
  • Bell’s Special Double Cream Stout- Lovely chocolatey bittersweet stout.

  • Harpoon Munich Dark: It tastes like Eastern Europe. Overcooked vegetables, long lines, industrial cement. This beer says: “It’s not you. It’s me!” Don’t return its calls!

December ‘06

  • Rudolph’s Revenge Winter Ale: Friends don’t let friends drink this! Tastes like vinegar and old cigarettes! Die, beer, die!
  • Black Butte Porter, Deschutes Brewery: Chocolatey, toasty, malty, weird cola aftertaste. Diagnosis? Age-related porter degeneration.
  • Rogue Shakespeare Stout: Espresso with lemon rind, chocolate orange cake, the good kind of bitter. Burnt sugar.
  • Harpoon Winter Warmer: Smells like banana bread. Tastes of cider, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg. Hooray!
  • Anderson Valley Winter Solstice ’06: Cloudy red, smells like caramel. Caramel taste, smoothsout when warm to be even sweeter. Brown sugar.
  • Pursuit of Happiness Winter Warmer, Clay Pipe Brewing Co. Orangey, smells hoppy. Dried apricots.
  • Brooklyn Black Chocolate 2006. Dense, opaque black brew with a white lace head. Sweetness is stuck in like an afterthought, unbalanced.
  • Dogfish Head Worldwide Stout ’04: Smells like tawny port. Sweet, smooth. Beatific. Porty, lovely. Makes me want to hug people. I think my ankles are singing.
  • Trappist Westvleteren #8: Medium amber brown color. Mulchy, rainy smell. Grapey. Sweet. Peach? Mango? Weird that a beer that color tastes so tropical. It smells Belgian and I almost want mussels with it.
  • Victory Storm King Stout: Lovely, mellow, nice bitter finish. This will ruin me for Guinness. Delicious notes of baker’s chocolate.

Trap Rock Brewery:

Ichabod Ale: Dusky murky brown color.  Smells and tastes like apple pie, very smooth and dense.  Nice balance.  Vegetabley, pumpkin aftertaste.  Cider comes in more on the finish.  Yum!

Merlin IPA: Smells floral and hoppy, like twisted grapes.  Not bad, grudgingly, for IPA

Trap Rock ’06 Amberbock: Thick head, smooth malty strong.  Medium sweetness.  Tastes very German.  Tastes like Spaten.  Notes of sweetness appear and disappear, need to be chased.

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