Has it been a year already? Summer's around the corner according to the lunar calendar but with all this global warming, we've been running around in t-shirts and shorts since March.
So it's up to us, your ever-loving alternative newsweekly to officially christen--or glisten--with the news that the season is upon us. All of a sudden the skies are clear, the heat is on and it's baseball games, front porches, lake fronts and backyards--and we can get enough liquid refreshment.
Summer and beeoldr just go together. It's time to tap into some summer brews.
Distributors unveil their new seasonal collections in late spring and consumers are eager to learn of these new arrivals.
And, over the course of a year or so, breweries from around the country and beyond decide it's time to tap into the growingly sophisticated Oklahoma market and unleash dozens of new labels that heretofore had been unavailable in the Sooner State.
So, what's hot, what's not? The consumer is the ultimate gage.
But how many lives can you live in three months? How much free time do you have, working man and woman? So, to hasten the discovery process, we at UTW have sacrificed countless evenings and millions of brain cells sampling all the new stuff in an altruistic attempt to guide the consumer through the latest collection of summer brews.
Skip a few steps and get to the best of the best.
The annual Summer Brews Edition is serious business. We don't sample everything . . . well, we try, but what we choose to review is already the cream of the crop.(Either that, or very interesting for one reason or another. It might just be the label.)
There are lots of great labels this year. One of our favorites is "Nude Beach," from Point, a suddenly aggressive brewery out of Wisconsin which has unleashed about two dozen styles upon the Metro area this spring.
Oklahoma distributors, as always, have been especially eager and willing to assist us in this tedious task, lavishing upon us samples of their new product. Krebs' own Choc Beer, Oklahoma Beer Imports, Anheuser-Busch, Glazer's Family of Companies, Paragon, Republic National Distributing Company and Jarboe Sales, Co., were all participants.
Also, I stopped off at the Crossing Wine and Spirits (7820 E. 101st) and Deep Discount Wine and Liquors (6525 E. 51st St.) for some of the soon-to-be summertime classics. Both places have a wide assortment of new brews and beverages to choose from.
This tasting session was a bit more sophisticated than in previous years, as five others and I gathered one evening to sample 30+ beers. Some were new releases, others were summer staples.
Our rating system included an allocation of points (1-5 with 5 being the best) for specifically measuring features such as appearance, aroma, palate and flavor, as well as an overall impression rating for the beer. Critics say there is no one way to rate beer. Therefore, we approached this task in many ways:
First, we did not taste test the beer directly from the bottle; we pour to a pint glass. Temperature is an important factor in beer tasting and drinking. Beer should not be to the "almost frozen" cold stage--the nose and tongue do not work appropriately at those temps.
A few degrees cooler than a cellar temperature is recommended, so by the time the beer is poured into the glass, it remains chilled to cellar temperature, around 46 F or 6-8 C. (Naturally, when drinking beer on a hot summer day, you would want the temperature to fit your preference.)
You can give a beer an extra chill and keep it cold by freezing the pint glass, but is not recommended because it freezes water out from the beer and can substantially alter its flavor.
Full Foam Ahead
We rated the beers in these categories and in this order: appearance, aroma, palate, flavor, and overall opinion.
We observed the color, clarity, carbonation, head size and its longevity; the first smell is crucial because nasal sensors quickly saturate; whether the aromas are bad, sweet, fruity, hoppy or malty. Swirling the glass--as with wine tasting-releases the fainter, more subtle aromas.
For palate, we tasted the beer and tried to "feel" the beer inside the mouth. Then, we swallowed--and, unlike in wine tasting, we observed how the beer felt around the front and back of the mouth. Was it harsh, thin bodied, sticky (yuk!), smooth?
Next, we dug into the flavor. How many tastes and flavors can be identified from the start, middle, finish and aftertaste?
Finally, the overall rating. Would we buy the beer again and what was the lasting impression?
Now, pour yourself an appropriately chilled one, sit back and catch a few quick clues on what's new, what's worth drinking--or worth a try. From dark to light, stout to lite, this list offers something for everyone.
It's All Good
How much do we love Canadian beers? Let us count the ways. First, the flavor. There's something about the robustness of the grain coming from north of the border. But it's the water, eh? Afterall, isn't the north country where water comes from? And the strength. Outside Australian and Dutch beers, the Canucks brew 'em at high gravity. Moosehead, coming out of St. John's, New Brunswick, is one of the best.
New to Oklahoma this season is Moosehead Light, coming in at number 33 in our sampling. One of our tasters said it was very clear, almost too clear when poured. It will be a good beer out in the summer heat when cutting grass, said another. It goes down smooth and easy. "See Moosehead in a whole New Light."
Thirty-two is Bavik Belgian Premium Lager which comes in a shrink-wrapped pack. Our tasters unanimously said this was probably the worst Belgian beer they've ever tasted. It had a canny taste, i.e., metallic flavor. One sampler said the taste was much like an import, but not as flavorful as most Belgians tend to be. The can, another said, was deceiving. "It appears to be a unique, collectable, historic favorite, but it's not." (The can is white with gold and red colors, attractively European.)
Bud Light Lime is number 31, coming in an attractive, clear bottle with a cool, crisp label sporting a refreshing half lime slice. It packs a fresh, limey smell and taste--not quite Tequiza but a little more drinkable. One said it tastes "Pledge-y"; another suggested the brewmaster "ease up on the lime and stick with more beer." But far from overpowering, to me, the lime gave it a refreshing summer taste. A little salt on the rim and I'd be happy. It's an easy drink that would go well with tortilla chips and some salsa.
The great Chicagoland beer, Old Style has gone Light in bottles and checks in at number 30. And, as if you Wrigleyheads out there needed to know, Kevin Bradshaw, of Republic National Distributing Company, said this "official beer of the Chicago Cubs" will be available year 'round.
And not surprisingly, this is just what one of our tasters said--it's a great beer for a ball game. It pours clear with a short head, has a poor smell but a pleasant taste. It's an easy drinking beer--not filling and good for a quick thirst quencher--reminding one taster of college life.
This beer won a Gold Medal at the 2003 Great American Beer Festival in the American-Style Light Lager category--and, hey girls, it's only 113 calories per 12-ounce serving.
Coming it at numero 29 is Choc Signature Bière de Garde, styled upon a traditional artisanal farmhouse ale from the northern region of France. Choc's version is malt focused, bottle conditioned and of an amber persuasion. Our tasters were impressed with the appearance in the 22-ounce bottle. One taster said it had a fruity taste followed by an unfortunate follow-up flavor; another said it smells like Captain Crunch with a side of canned fruit cocktail. Still another sampler said it's a fun beer with a surprising taste--almost like a malt liquor. All over the place.
Coming in at 28 is a fun beer called Land Shark Lager, brewed by Margaritaville Brewing Co. Does the name Jimmy Buffet come to mind? The bottle is fun with bold lettering and a large shark's fin cutting through the water. One taster said drinking this brought back thoughts of Dad pouring a beer after working on the lawn. The taste is light with plenty of carbonation--goes great with pizza. Fins up!
Over the Top
Big Sky I.P.A. from Missoula, Montana, is 27, sporting an outdoorsy label of a deer in big sky country. The pour is satiny smooth and evocative of a fishing trip in the high country. It has a "deep woodsy" aroma, said one. It sported a mountainous wall of flavor followed by a glacier-like finish. Another sampler fairly enjoyed it, saying it has more flavor than most IPA's, almost too much flavor.
Next at 26 is a new beer to Oklahoma (many more styles to follow), Stevens Point Brewery's Point Amber Classic, a hand-crafted 100 percent barley malt lager, featuring a combination of Cluster, Cascade, Hallertauer and Tettanger hops for a balanced and distinctive flavor.
With an aesthetically pleasing red color, it has an "awkward flavor for an amber" said a sampler. It has a full fluffy head with good carbonation--but has a "wet dog" flavor. We thought it was unimpressive for an amber, but an easy drink and certainly not the kind you would refuse at a party.
Big Sky Scape Goat Pale Ale is 25th with a taste that one described as "soapy and sudsy." It has a bitter introduction with a strong after taste--"one of those crazy Montana beers," said another. One rather liked it, saying it was pleasantly bitter. If nothing else, get it for the fun label and creative name.
Another Steven's Point, the Special Lager earned a 24 ranking. This beer is a well-balanced, full-bodied classic American-style lager. It is an award-winning pilsner recognized for its pleasant hop aroma and smooth, hearty flavor. Our tasters found it mighty fine and similar to a Budweiser. One said it is a very solid everyday beer--great with pizza or pretzels. Another said "Open the floodgates! It would be good on tap as a house beer. It is what it is--an unpretentiously good beer."
Sun Dog Amber Wheat Ale is 23, and sports a great summertime label--a dog ready for an outdoorsy adventure! From Anheuser-Busch, this beer was enjoyed by all, garnering comments raving about its inviting aroma, its drinkability, its smooth and shiny taste. It had a mildly sweet wheat beer flavor with subtle notes of quality hops. A must try for those intent on chasing away hot summer evenings.
Tsingtao Pure Draft Beer is new to the area and won the number 22 spot. This beer has a subtle taste of a smooth light beer followed by a sour aftertaste. One taster described the beer as light, yet with layered multiple aftertastes," not unlike his own impressions of China. Another expressed a lingering flavor with each sip; easy to swallow with a good bite. Definitely one to offer guests during this summer's Olympics.
Choc, Krebs Original is next at 21. One reminisced saying "it has the best can since my first Foster's." Steve Gleason of Choc said these "retro cans are really cool, like the old style Choc." This is Choc's only canned beer, and Gleason said the beer actually tastes better in the cans than the bottles. Interesting. It's a good light beer with more flavor than most other light beers. We all agreed that pizza and Choc beer is a winning pair. Help support the local economy with this beer!
Breaking in at number 20 is Big Sky Moose Drool Brown Ale--gotta love the name and the label upon which a bull moose stands stately, drooling in a big way. One taster said this beer was much better than moose drool, but not the best beer in the world. Another said it's a "real drinking beer. Great taste, more filling. Earthy, was another comment. "You could kill two or three and be quite satisfied."
Nineteen is an old favorite that sneaks into every summer brews tasting: Samuel Adams Summer Ale. The label says "wheat ale brewed with lemon and grains of paradise." We thought it's good, but not quite the garden of drinkin'. Its appearance is satin--like a gold-top Gibson LP. One said it looks like a Belgian White, and the lemon zest makes this a decent beer. "A perfect amount of lemon for a summer beer, and it does not taste too wheaty." This is available in bottles and kegs.
Get the Point
At 18 is Point's Nude Beach Summer Wheat. If nothing else, buy it for the label--great summer fun in this picture. "This one is so good that I got naked!" said one, and we are glad he really didn't. It had an unusual wheat taste with hints of citrus. One said "the smell suggests a wet towel. The taste is surprisingly smooth. A must try for those on the fence of wheat ales."
Back-to-back Points, the little brewery that could has yet another offering that made this august list: Horizon Wheat, an unfiltered wheat ale comes in at number 17. This one is an alluring combination of spring wheat and specialty malts alone with Yakima hops and American ale yeast. The beer is lively and light, pouring cloudy and finishing with a white creamy head.
Big Sky Montana Trout Slayer Ale is next at 16, with another great action label of a rugged outdoorsman and his trout. This beer had hints of orange and ginger in the taste. Somewhat airy, one said, with a quick bouquet yet little impressionable flavor. One said he'd buy it again just because of the cool label.
Abita Red Ale hails from the progenitor of a fine pedigree of brews down Louisiana way and makes its way to 15 on our list. It has hints of caramel, with a pleasant palate experience. It has a unique smell, but not overpoweringly different. A decent beer to enjoy with a meal.
Bridgeport Brewing Co. Haymaker Extra Pale Ale is number 14. Earning high marks in odd combinations on our ballots, this beer is available May-September and is a blend of four malts and three varieties of hops that create a slightly complex, crisp and bright ale. One taster with lots of pale ale drinking experience said "forget the coffee. This is the ultimate morning beer. The rooster booster with kick." Another liked the label, calling it "folksy" and "country-style." The beer has a very different initial taste, fruity-sweet, but finishes plain. Try it in your cereal.
Number 13 is yet another Point product, Belgian White Wheat Ale. This is brewed using the finest raw wheat, 2-row pilsner malts and oats. Built upon noble Hallertau and Saaz hops, it is complemented by the garnishment of coriander and orange and is best served with an orange slice. "Wow!" said one taster. "Great Belgian, especially for Wisconsin." Another admitted this was truly an honest Belgian White.
Twelve is Avery's The Maharaja Imperial India Pale Ale. "If you like fermented grapefruit juice, then this is your beer," said one drinker. "It has a shocking flavor." Another said the appearance is satiny with a good head and the aroma is strong on the hops and would be a great beer to sit down with, to relax with and drink slowly. "It's a beer that hits you between the eyes." Beware of any label with a sword on it. The flavor is as busy as the label--it boasts flavor. Its alcohol content is high. Beware!
Overrepresented but certainly enjoyed for its diversity, Point Brewery has made its existence noticed during this summer tasting. Its Cascade Pale Ale arrived at number 11 for its unique flavor. "Hop, hop, hop. Very hoppy," said one. "It has a golden, slightly reddish tint and a taste that is not harsh at all, but hits you--especially with the carbonation" which, for an ale, is rather risky. Another said it was not as flavorful as most pale ales--has less of a bite than expected. It's a good beer for people who are ready to start drinking something beside domestics but are weary of a trying a darker beer.
Then There Were 10
The top 10 begins with no little cognitive dissonance, the Big Easy Lager Beer from Lakefront Brewery of Milwaukee, WI. The Mardi Gras-ish label is enough to make you want to buy a 6-pack, but not enough to prompt you to head to Millertown for Fat Tuesday. This beer has a good head with a golden hue. A little citrus was noticed by one, perhaps orange. It's somewhat sweet and it tastes like it looks--golden, honey and hazy. It has an enjoyable after taste.
Nine is another Wisconsin product, Point's Einbock Maibock Style. Our tasters agreed it was its oak barrel smoky taste that they all enjoyed. Great northern label. It has a good-looking pour--a beautiful beer that is very drinkable and tastes strong, full-bodied. It had decent head retention and the flavor lasts with no unpleasant after tastes.
Number 8 is the latest in the Shiner Anniversary Beer Series, Shiner 99. Shiner 99 is a Munich-style Helles Lager, reminiscent of the lagers brewed in Bavaria starting in the mid-1800s to compete with the rival Czech pilsners. Helles means "bright," and this beer is just that--a bright gold lager under a thick white foam. This beer carries a malty sweetness and strikes perfect balance with spicy hops without the bitterness of a pilsner. It's a quality beer, said a taster, who would love a big doughy pretzel with it. It's very pleasantly effervescent. It is a good, clean sophisticated beer and label. It is a very crisp, light drinking beer. It's also Shiner's first 99 calorie beer.
Maisel's Weisse, a carefully crafted Bavarian wheat, is number 7. One sampler concluded that all the flavors and fruits combined very pleasantly for a very smooth palate. Another said this one is a great classic--sweet, full-bodied and the smell is almost as good as the taste.
The St. Bernardus Abt 12 is a simple label with a smiling monk hoisting a frothy mug of brew. Prosit! Monks are said to have invented beer, so it all goes back to roots. This product comes in a 4-pack, which is appropriate for it is a strong elixir. The appearance is dark and complex and colors differently at various places in the glass. It is bubbly and slightly carbonated. If you can't afford Chimay, then St. Bernard's is for you. It's an excellent Belgian abbey ale.
The top five beers begin with Shiner Bohemian Black Lager. Not a seasonal or new beer, this lager is a re-release of what was to have been a limited edition brew, intended as a celebration of Spoetzl Brewery's 97th anniversary. But Spoetzl decided it was time to bring back Shiner 97 Bohemian Black Lager as a permanent part of the Shiner bottling family.
"Awesome" is how more than one taster described it. Not as heavy tasting as the appearance lead one to believe, it is a clever beer, with a smoky flavor. Very easy, maybe too easy to drink. One said he would purchase this beer often.
Number 4 is a beer that comes out every summer and is always at the top of our taster's list, Sierra Nevada Summerfest Lager. This is a crisp brew that is perfect for solstice-style entertaining at a summer cook-out, picnic, the lake, etc. The label is enough to get one excited about it--inviting and cooling. The malt flavor is nearly perfect; the hops are great and the aftertaste makes you want more. Strong meets smooth here!
Belgium's Wittekerke, an authentic wheat beer, is number 3. One taster described the appearance as like an Orangina, for those well-traveled Europhiles out there. It goes down very smooth with some hints of fruit at the swallow. A great summer beer. Another packaged in shrink-wrapped plastic, this beer was said by one in the group to be "the best canned wheat to ever hit my palate. Just try it and bring your mom!"
The runner-up to the top pick of our Summer Brews is Monchshof World Classic Schwarz, the Original Black. The tasters thought this would be a good after-dinner drink, even enjoying it with a cigar. The taste comes across as having well-roasted grains and complex chemistry, beginning with a zero head retention. It has a comforting smell and aroma. One said this beer must have been brewed with love and can take one on a highly palatable journey. Drink it with dark chocolate and enjoy!
Boulevard's Lunar Ale
The UTW tasters selected Boulevard Lunar Ale as the number one beer for 2008. Not new to the area, this one has been around for a while and took us by surprise this year. Boulevard is revered in these parts as one of the first microbreweries to have made an impact in the Sooner State (circa 1994), it's brewed in Kansas City. The ale is spicy (coriander and nutmeg), strong, and great with a grilled steak and a big baked potato. Another said it is like a nice rosewood in appearance upon pouring. It is sweet, with a hint of licorice. One sampler considered it better as a fall and less of a summer beer, but nonetheless appreciated its complexity.
Novelty Acts and Past Winners
There is always an entertaining cadre of malt beverages that catch our eye, though defy our ability to give any attention to according to our draconian ratings system.
And so this year we thought we'd lighten up a bit and review a few oddballs and former champions we just couldn't ignore, like this Belgian White Beer with Raspberries. Shrinkwrap seems to be the packaging of choice for these left field malt beverages and this product appears geared for the lady. Bright pink with a silhouette of an unhealthy-looking slender lady puckering her lips, this 8.4-ounce can only be seen in a woman's hand. It pours to a cloudy pink and is very effervescent. It give the palate a dry sparkling splash with each sit--it hits fast, then fades, not leaving a coating in the mouth.
I could've had a Chelada! Budweiser's new convenience store product to hit the shelves is Bud Light & Clamato and Budweiser & Clamato, otherwise called "Chelada." The beverage, with salt and lime, comes in one-pint cans, and embraces the unique flavor of Clamato. This "Red One" is ready to drink as is, or as the can says, "use your favorite ingredients to make it yours--wherever and whenever."
Other beers and some former winners from previous years are worthy of a reminder this time of year. Choc has some great selections to try: bottled conditioned Basement Batch Pale Ale, Waving Wheat Belgian-Style Wheat and Miner Mishap Black Lager.
Zÿn (Flemish for "sun"), is Boulevard Brewing Co.'s interpretation of a classic Belgian witbier or "white beer," combining coriander and orange peel with traditional ingredients to create a crisp and refreshing summer beer.
Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy, beer with natural lemonade flavor is very refreshing and was a big hit last year among the beer tasters. Also, Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat is another decent beer worth of note.
A new beer not available for our tasting is Leicht Shiner Spezial, used to be called Kolsch, which we liked last year. It is Shiner's seasonal summer beer "brewed for that light, happy flavor." It should be available soon.
Spirits and the Softer Side
Some of the new wines, spirits and flavored drinks also deserve their time in the summer brews sun, so here is a smattering:
Smirnoff Twist of White Grape is triple distilled for an exceptionally smooth taste. Our tasters ranked this very high for its drinkability. It is subtle, very mild and we thought it would go well with a cheese tasting. White Grape Cosmo, Silver White Grape Sour, White Grape Champagne, White Grape Bramble or White Grape on the Beach are some new tastes when mixing White Grape for a cocktail. The bottle is refreshing attractive--keep it in the freezer! It isn't a wine flavor, it isn't a fruit juice flavor, but more like the Popsicle/Jolly Rancher/cartoon flavor you remember from your childhood.
Smirnoff Passion Fruit is something the ladies loved. Straight from the freezer, this very cold vodka has a rich and refreshing passion fruit taste with the distinctive vodka blend.
It is pleasant, very smooth and mild to the palate. It is soft and lingering in the mouth which makes for a fine sipping vodka. Some recommended cocktails include Passion Lemonade, Red Passion, Passion Fruit Cosmo, Swaying Skirt Martini, Passion Fruit Mai Tai, Passion Fruit Punch and Bring on the Funk. (See the Smirnoff web site for these recipes and more.)
One final Smirnoff product we sampled was Pomegranate Martini with Meyer Lemon Liqueur. Smirnoff No. 21 Vodka is blended with pomegranate juice and just a touch of Meyer lemon liqueur to have a ready-to-drink tini. Pour this ice-cold mixture into a freezer-chilled cocktail glass and enjoy! The ooh's and aah's will sound as this bright refreshingly red martini is presented. We found it not too sweet and very smooth. This would be a great drink to serve at a 4th of July party and bring it out again for Christmas--if you can wait that long. Or if the bottle lasts.
We reviewed Absolut 100 last year, but there are some things you just can't get enough of, "Dare to discover the experience of 100 proof vodka," so its advertising goes. Launched in 2007, this black-bottled vodka is a blockbuster of flavor and potential. It's very smooth and is surprisingly great alone or as a mix into a cocktail. Visit Absolut's web site for recipes.
Our next sample was Golden Sun Tommy Bahama Rum, a product of Barbados. Probably not the first "designer spirit," but notable for its association with its Caribbean vibe. Besides being in a beautifully-shaped tall bottle, its golden hue is very attractive. This is an ultra-premium rum from the island of Barbados--said to be the home of rum. Hit a home rum! Made with clear, cool water and the finest molasses, Tommy Bahama is blended by master distillers and aged in small batches. This is a must for beach piña coladas. Again, keep this in the freezer and pour ice cold.
Stolichnaya, a name known for very good Russian vodka, now has a Stoli Blakberi (blackberry, in a spelling that is easier to read than native Cyrillic) vodka. Very smooth to drink alone, our tasters enjoyed this vodka, but thought it would be more tolerable mixing it in a cocktail; check out stoli.com.
Gin, another bar staple, now comes in a new flavor as Seagram's Raspberry Twisted Gin. We found this having pleasant smell and taste, very subtle and not too fruity. Seagram's begins with their extra dry gin, then infuses it with a twist of natural raspberry flavor. We recommend this in a martini or mixed with tonic or fruit juices. How about a mango-berry twister? Check the bottle's label for this recipe.
On the lighter side are a few new malt beverages, California Coolers, in White Peach and Pomegranate Berry. We ranked them fairly high, but the smell of the Pomegranate Berry is too much akin to an outhouse disinfectant. It was an artificial smell and on the verge of repulsive. Ice cold, this one might be tolerable. White peach is better, mildly sweet. Both are infused with "real wine" and juice infused with natural fruit flavor.
Mojitos are back this summer as a popular drink. Captain Morgan Parrot Bay Mojito and Mike's Mojito are two premium malt beverages that must be sampled. We found both light and minty--a perfect combo for hot summer days. Of the two, we ranked Parrot Bay as the better version, finding Mike's a bit too sweet for our liking. The mint is not subtle in either, but more contextual in the former.
Two final recommendations were probably our favorites as this long night of tasting ended. Kahlúa Hazelnut and Danny DeVito's Limoncello--both scored a perfect 20/20. The new Kahlúa Hazelnut is blended with the finest hazelnut extract. What we enjoyed was a well-respected, known factor: the richness of Kahlúa has been blended with a distinctive toasted nut flavor to create a distinctively new, very, very smooth drink. We sipped it alone then added just a splash of heavy whipped cream. Need I say more?
Limoncello is a common Italian after-dinner sipping drink served ice cold, and Danny DeVito's version is quite good. Produced from the zest of the finest lemons grown in Sorrento, Italy, along the exquisite Amalfi Coast on the Mediterranean side of southern Italy, this is a liqueur that memorable summers are made of.
Simply pour and service ice cold.
Our evening tasting was coming to a close, but not until we tasted a few new wines: Rodney Strong Pinot Noir, Twisted Chard New Wine Chardonnay and Gnarly Head Cab. We scored all three with very high marks. The Pinot from Estate Vineyards of Sonoma County, pours a beautiful garnet hue and has a beautiful balance. This 2006 is supple in texture, with rose petal and red fruit aromas and flavors.
Twisted Wine is a new brand of wines, coming in Merlot, Pinot Grigio, Old Vine Zinfandel and New Vine Chardonnay. The latter is the one we sampled. It is described this way: "Have you ever had a pear soaked in applesauce, then creamed in sweet butter and sprinkled with roasted almonds?
"Twisted Chard is . . . bursting with luscious tropical fruit flavors of mango, lemon and kiwi." We found it clean and crisp and full of flavor, and probably a good food pairing would be fish, chicken and fine cheese.
Gnarly Head Cab is described as "bringing a rush of blackberries, cedar, vanilla and cigar box aromas . . . flavors of rich, juicy cherries, blueberries and cocoa fill the palate" on the first drink. We found some of that accurate. There is a definite fruitiness to it that we all enjoyed. With medium tannins, the flavor does linger a while, but in a good way. This is a great wine with spicy foods, steak, lamb and strong cheeses.
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