Every month, a huge amount of booze moves through the Gear Patrol offices — beer, wine and a whole lot of whiskey. Here are a few of our favorites.
I used a dead blog called Tokyo Bourbon Bible to identify all the Japan-exclusive American bourbons I wanted to bring home with me. Bound for New York City from Tokyo, my flight would take off in three hours, and I had already secured bottles of Evan Williams 12-Year (Red Label), a number of Japan-only Wild Turkey expressions, Four Roses Super Premium and a pair of other international Blanton’s expressions (Straight From the Barrel and Silver Edition). The final bottle was Blanton’s Gold, which I found at the fourth liquor store I went to, buried under a mountain of I.W. Harper.
I hadn’t opened it since I brought it home, but the news of its imminent arrival in the U.S. seemed like the right moment. It is special whiskey. Regular Blanton’s is a nice, high-rye bourbon with slightly above average barrel characteristic flavor that costs too much in most places in the U.S. Straight From the Barrel is an uncut, barrel strength version of the same whiskey, and, in my opinion, is totally overpowering. Gold hits right between them — it’s loaded with the spiciness you expect out of Blanton’s, but its fattier on the palate and there’s a hint of astringency from a little extra time spent in barrels. It will be in the U.S. this summer at retail above $100 (it was the equivalent of $60 in Japan). I’ll be looking for more then.
Rodenbach x Dogfish Head Vibrant P’Ocean
When this collaboration was announced last year, the beer cohort in the Gear Patrol office was giddy. And while we almost always prefer sours fermented in wood versus kettle sours, this beer is delightfully delicate. Right when you think it’s going to get tart, it mellows out and has a slightly crisp aftertaste. Vibrant P’Ocean was made with two distinct base beers and then blended: Rodenbach’s two-year, foeder-aged sour and Dogfish Head’s kettle sour brewed with pilsner malt, malted wheat, elderberry, elderflower, sliced lemons and Belgian fleur-de-sel. It clocks in at 4.7 percent and is only going to be out through May, so grab it (or order it online from your local) if you can.
Domaine Rietsch Tout Blanc
Thankfully this wine comes in a liter bottle because I could use the extra volume while I’m sheltering in place. The Tout Blanc is a crisp blend of riesling, auxerrois and gewurztraminer grapes, which result in a light and acidic pale-colored wine. The wine tastes of peach and lemon, with a bit of floral aroma on the nose. It’s a super crushable wine with a bit of effervescence, and at under $25, it’s a great entry-point into natty wine.
Threes Brewing x Burial Beer Co. Backways Dark Mild
The older I get, the more interested I become in lower ABV beers. But I’ve always been a fan of resurrecting older beer styles. This beer is both of those things.
This killer collab from Threes and Burial is low in carbonation and offers a sweet, malty taste that doesn’t linger. It’s straightforward and not extremely complex — basically a mild version of a dark beer. The kicker? It’s only 3.7 percent. Alas, Threes has already sold out of it (I got it delivered early-on in self-isolation) so I’ll be sitting on my last two because this beer was such a delight — or maybe I’ll just end up drinking them sooner, because, you know, self-isolation.
Sierra Nevada Wild Little Thing
This slightly sour ale was a pleasant surprise when we got a crowler of it in the office awhile back. It’s bright in color and very light in both body and mouthfeel. Another kettle sour, it smells like a Jolly Rancher but has a smooth taste that provides only the slightest hint of tartness. We kept waiting for the sour to hit hard but it never does, instead leaving a refreshing aftertaste. It’s only 5.5 percent ABV and is packed with guava, hibiscus and strawberry. This one could be the sour beer that gets even more people drinking sour beers this summer.
Jo Landron Domaine de La Louvetrie ‘Atmospheres’ Brut
My solution to trying times and social isolation has been bubbles. Specifically, these wonderfully affordable Champagne-method bubbles from the Loire. I’ve called it “supporting my local wine store” but it’s just nice to celebrate the end of a Wednesday sometimes.
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