Welcome to Imbibe Magazine's between-issues look at liquid culture with drink recipes, news and more. From coffee to cocktails, Imbibe celebrates your world in a glass.

Monday, May 07, 2012

What We’re Tasting Now

It’s a happy Monday here at the Imbibe office, and with our May/June issue officially on newsstands and a table full of beer, wine and spirits waiting to be tasted, we figured we’d kick off the week by sampling some bottles—here are some of the highlights.

BEER
Grand Teton Snarling Badger Berliner Weisse
Grand Teton Brewing Co. first captured our attention with its Bitch Creek ESB, and over the years we’ve grown rather fond of this eastern Idaho brewery. This upcoming release (it hits shelves May 15) tastes like a cross between a Belgian strong ale and a sour (thanks to a Lactobacillus-spiked secondary fermentation) but still manages to hold onto Berliner Weisse’s trademark wheaty profile. It’s definitely a different take on the northern German beer style, but that we’re happy to enjoy.

Weihenstephan Vitus Weizenbock
Considered to be the world’s oldest brewery still in operation, Weihenstephan has long been known for its outstanding brews, and this weizenbock is no different with its dense, pillowy head; flavors of dried fruits, creamy banana, honey and citrus; and an intriguing finish of smoked meats and sweet tobacco.

Stiegl Radler
New guilty pleasure of summer? You bet. A fizzy, refreshing mix of grapefruit soda and Stiegl’s goldbrau beer, this sprightly sipper offers aromas of ruby red grapefruit juice and a tart, lively palate of fresh grapefruit (complete with a slight pithy bitter edge), thirst-quenching beer and hops. It goes down way too easy, but at a super-low 2.5% ABV, cracking a second (or a third) is no big deal.

Widmer Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout 2012
Dark beer in the summertime? If it’s a glass of this recent release from Widmer, you can count us in. Aromas of fresh raspberries and bittersweet chocolate meet flavors to match along with added notes of roasted malts and a palate-cleansing sweep of hop bitterness on the finish.

Boulevard Long Strange Tripel
For a beer that boasts 9% ABV, this year-round Boulevard offering maintains a lightness not often found with brews so big. It’s nice and bright with fruity, sweet malt flavors reminiscent of its inspired Belgian style, but with a welcome wash of juicy white peach on the finish.


WINE
Argento Bonarda 2010
When barbecue season starts, so too begins our hunt for budget-minded (and burger-friendly) wines, and this Argentinian red doesn’t disappoint with loads of raspberry aromas, a nice, dry body and food-friendly acidity that pairs with most any meat you’ll pull off the grill.


SPIRITS
Karlsson’s Vodka
Vodka is the last spirit you might expect to see vintage-dated, but low and behold, it’s happened. And in this case, it’s no gimmick—it’s delicious. Produced from Old Swedish red potatoes harvested from a single Swedish farm in 2008, this vodka is uniquely dynamic with creamy flavors that transition from soft and sweet up front to green bell and black pepper spice on the finish.

Breaking & Entering Bourbon
Bay Area distilling stalwart St. George Spirits enters the boubon biz with this spanking-new bottle that combines whiskey aged in a mix of 80 different barrels sourced from some of Kentucky’s best rickhouses. Approachable and easy-drinking, the B&E bourbon is supremely fruity with cinnamon spice coming in on the finish. A great candidate for both mixing and sipping.

Cathead Honeysuckle Vodka
Flavored vodkas are a dime a dozen, but something about this honeysuckle version caught our eye. The nose is delicately floral, and the flavor doesn’t disappoint with pure honeysuckle notes that never venture into being too perfumey. We can see sipping it on a summer day mixed in a tall glass of soda and a squeeze of lemon.


ALCOHOL-FREE
Cheribundi Tart Cherry Juice
This is pretty much as close to biting into a juicy-ripe cherry as you’ll find outside a produce stand. And don’t let the “tart” in its name trick you—there’s enough natural sweetness in this juice to sip it alone (it doesn’t have the same pucker-factor of cranberry juice), though it also shines in cocktails or alcohol-free drinks like this Wild Cherry Phosphate.