Rowan’s Creek Kentucky Bourbon

Posted in bourbon on July 13, 2010 by Mick

Try this badboy sans rocks. If you got the stones!

Sorry for the long delay. Ive been REEEAALLLY hungover since January. The truth is, im planning a wedding, and getting married in about 3 weeks. While i HAVE had imbibed in many a new bourbon/ beer/ wine/ tequila/ drink, i havent had time to update.

My apologies. If you are a regular, ill buy you a couple fingers’ worth.
Anyway, this little bourbon. Dont let the label fool you. It may look like Cletus Ray Van Hallibaster the IV (or his father/son) designed the label, but what they lack in artistic panache, they make up for in TASTE.
This is one hell of a bourbon. If this bourbon were a vidya game, id put it at an “intermediate level” as it comes raging out at just a possum hair over 100 proof. If you can manage to get past the hotness of this bird without pussing out and adding water, youll get immediate snaps on the tongue of licorice, tobacco, chocolate and a bitter that seems to taste of old coffee. But goddamn…all of these flavors together are better than your grandma’s easter ham.
And i meant that in the most obnoxious way i can muster.
If you got the stones, do this one neat for the first taste. Its hot as hell, but man…this dog WILL hunt.
My score – 92 out of 100 fiery Southern stars.

High West Rendezvous Rye

Posted in rye with tags , , on January 3, 2010 by Mick

I think we can thank Mad Men for rye having the comeback its having.  I remember for a hot minute, there were probably 4 or 5 big ryes out there that were available at some liquor stores. Now you can buy it in the grocery store. (Out of state peeps – In CA you can buy liquor in supermarkets)

My point is, with all of these “new” options, (i used new loosely, as its new to me)  it was time that BABAC (Bay Area Bourbon Aficionado’s Club) did a one-off and had a rye night.

To me, rye isnt the best thing to drink straight. Im not into the harsh bitter end you find in most ryes, and the empty middle. So we made sure we had two testings. Straight and a classic Manhattan. In both catagories, High West DESTROYED the competition. Like, when i say destroy, i mean imagine a 1-on-1 game between LeBron James and Stephen Hawking.  I know….that was harsh. But this rye wasnt.

Why? It tasted like a goddamn bourbon. Caramel? Butterscotch? Deep earthy oak notes? WTF? Are we being punked? I remember looking around for Ashton Kutcher’s goofy ass….nope. This is a RYE.

A little more research told us why. High West creates a blend of two of their ryes; a 6-year old 95% rye and a 16-year old 80% rye. With this mixture, you get the bourbon caramel and maple notes, but the sharper rye finishes youd expect. And at about 92 proof, its smooooooth.

Make no mistake, im no rye expert by any means, mainly because i said “I like this rye alot. Because it tastes like a bourbon.” Any rye drinker would slap my Bearded cheeks for saying that. But, its a start.

Im probably out of my gourd for saying this, but until i have another rye as good as this one, ill just assume THIS rye is amazing.

My score – 97 out of 100.

Victory Yakima Twilight IIPA

Posted in ale, beer, ipa on January 2, 2010 by Mick

Off the bat, i almost avoided this beer because I have a natural aversion to the word “Twilight” now. As well you can understand.

Im not a 15 year old girl that cuts.

I am, however, a 35 year old man that likes a good, heavy strong IPA. And if its Imperial, thats even better.

We were in San Diego, and we checked out one of the local beer-happy bars, Hamilton’s Tavern, as they boasted a pretty good selection of beers, and according to the locals, never really got over run with the striped shirts.

I first ordered the Victory Yakima Twilight, as i wanted my tasties to experience the stronger flavors before the 9% ABV killed off my tongue. The hoppiness, caramel smells and strong honiness really kicked in….i was just a teeny disappointed in the tail end of the taste, as it didnt quite pack the punch an IIPA should.

It was however, enjoyable enough to drink TWICE. This isnt a beer id use as a model for an IIPA, but as an IPA, its pretty goddamn good.

My score – 89 out of 100 stars.

Holiday Ales – 2009 Edition

Posted in ale, Seasonal on December 15, 2009 by Mick

Ahh yes….the Holidays.

The time of year when you eat, laugh and drink. Alot.

Usually, the holiday beers give you alot to offer. Full bodies, spice and usually a higher alcohol content. The breweries KNOW that youre going to be celebrating, and they do it to an aplomb.

To me, living in California, but an Upstate NY transplant, (518 represent!) doesnt really offer alot in the mire of what the holidays have to offer. Yeah, there is the black Friday sales, the attempt at making it look “snowy”, and more importantly, trying to completely get you in the spirit of the holidays.  The thing is, i have had the REAL Christmas holidays, ive had the snow, ive had the caroling, ive even had the cold, below zero wind-chill. But i take what i can get here….even if its Holiday Ales.

Anchor Steam is based in San Francisco, CA, and makes one hell of an ale. They are some of the best in the hoppier class, and easily found around the west-coast. Brewer Fritz Maytag takes special care in his beer, (as well as the Old Portrero line of whiskies) and you definitely taste it in his Christmas Ale.

Immediately, you open the bottle, and you are punched in the nose with a STRONG smell of pine and cloves. It smells as if 14 goth kids are smoking their ciggies outside in the cold forest. Pour the bottle, and its body is thick and black. The first taste knocked me off my feet. There arent enough numbers in the world to count the winter spices like nutmeg, pumpkin, clove, cinnamon, and even a deep chocolate in the flavor. And those are just the tastes that hit you off the mark. The 9.46%abv is pretty potent, but the beer is a heavy hitter, and you probably wont want more than one.

However, easier to drink is the Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. Though not as much as smack in the nose, it still has the essential smells of a holiday ales. Pine, thyme, clove and nutmeg complement this one as well. Where it is different is the body. Its. So. Friggin. Easy. To. Drink! I found after four bottle of the 6.8% abv beer, i was wobbly, wondering where the hell did the four beers go? Dangerous? Yes. Worth it? Fuck yes.

Last in the list of tasted holiday ales is Deschutes Brewery’s Jubelale. The name is ridiculous. I cant say it. Especially if i have had a few. The beer? A bit disappointing. Being a huge fan of their Mirror Pond, Inversion and Obsidian Stout, but this beer left me empty handed. Everything about it was a bit lackluster, but as a non-holiday beer, its decent. I think i expected more out of it because of the flavors i got out of the previous two. Its pale-aley, but it lacks the spice the other two have. At 6.7%abv, its still worth a drink or two, but i would not bust this out at a party expecting Holiday “Jubilation”.

All in all, im sure there are a ton i havent tried this year, but i took the big three, and went with it. When you do enjoy these beers, make sure you do it with the ones you love, and laughter. Have a great holiday season!

My scores:

Anchor Steam Christmas Ale – 97 out of 100

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale – 96 out of 100

Deschutes Jubelale 09 – 81 of out 100

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

Posted in ale, Seasonal with tags , , , on October 11, 2009 by Mick
Dogfish Head Punkin Ale, 7.0 ABV

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale, 7.0 ABV

I always had a pretty basic rule: Beer should taste good e3nough on its own without adding limes, berries or…..pumpkins.

Now keep in mind, im an upstate NY transplant to California, so i miss seasons. When i watch my NY Giants destroy Bay Area football teams, i think about my parents in Gloversville, NY, watching the same game with a roaring fire and the smell of a roast wafting through the house. Outside, leaves of every color imaginable falling in the crisp air.

So when i find something that reminds me of those days and the flavors, i go with it. Hence, pumpkin ale.

I am no pro at all with these seasonals, but i know what i like. I experiment, i will try anything once. Its just the theory i have to get past.  The theory that….fuck…this is a beer, that tastes like pumpkin.

Dogfish Head makes one of my favorite beers ever, the 90 minute IPA. So naturally, when i see them making a pumpkin ale, im going to try it. Initially, when i opened the bottle, and poured it into my favorite beer jar, the smell of pumpkin, nutmeg, and autumn hit me like Brendon Jacobs on a 3rd and 2 goaline smash. The taste however, isnt as smashnose. It has an initial bite of a strong ale, with a softer spicy middle and finishes smooth with the tiniest sweetness of pumpkin. Just ENOUGH to say, “Yeah…this is punkinney.”

We had the beer with a coffee-rubbed pork shoulder i slow made, slow cooking it for about 7 hours, and THIS is why this beer was made. I decided then, that this beer, like alot of my go-to Belgian ales, is to be paired with a fall food, like the pork, or my bourbon sweet potatoes.

Either way, drink this while you can, especially if youre out of your climatic element. I really enjoy this seasonal beer, and look forward to it every Sunday when im watching football and cooking a roast. Just like at home.

My score – 91 out of 100 jack-o-lanterns.

Session – Lager and Black Lager

Posted in beer, lager on October 4, 2009 by Mick

My dad, who is a master glazier (glassman in lay terms) taught me that, while not always necessary, it is pretty effective to “get stoned with two birds” er….something….

Session, to me, is a great boutiquey beer put out by the Full Sail Brewing company, and uses the stubby barrel bottles. For both the red and black versions. Lets knock them down one at a time.


Sessions original lager has always been a good picnicking beer for me…easily portable, full bodied, but refreshing enough to not be a heavy beer. Im always happy that the little 11oz lager fits in my Kreuz BBQ coozie from my trip to Austin. Im a huge fan of the “red” label lager, and find its balance to be near perfect.

sessions blackThe black on the other hand, comes in hitting heavy, as it is exactly what youd imagine it is to be. Black lager denotes dark. Its dark, its heavy, it doesnt fuck around. It doesnt taste boozey at all, but its intense flavor comes rife with nuts, bread, and has a really autumnal flavor…so perfect for this October chugging. Unlike its red brother, i can barely get through 3 or 4 before my stomach feels like i ate a loaf of bread. There are complexities to the tastes that the red doesnt have, like a strong honey flavor and a deep malt that is as refreshing as oatmeal.

Like two siblings, each os special in their own way. (But i like the red better).

My Scores:

Original Lager – 91 points

Black Lager – 88 points

BABAC 2.0 Meet Up

Posted in Uncategorized on October 4, 2009 by Mick

BABAC – Bay Area Bourbon Aficionado’s Club.

A plethora of delicious bourbon (and Tom's anger in the background)

A plethora of delicious bourbon (and Tom's anger in the background)

About three or four months ago i had the idea of getting some dudes together to do what i do daily….swill some bourbon, grill meat, talk about bourbon and eat meat. I had some pretty basic rules, bring a bottle, bring some food. Something that interests you, that youve had, or something you wanna try for the first time.

Our inaugural meeting was the first week in September, and despite the amazing weather and me grilling buffalo burgers, only 6 people were brave enough to cross the bridge from San Francisco to my house in Oakland.

This week however, hosted at Mills’ Manor, brought 20 people, a shit ton of bourbon, and some pretty amazing pork shoulder.

Mr John Mills of Mills Manor

Mr John Mills of Mills Manor

We had a pretty decent variety of bourbon, spanning from the standards like Elijah Craig 12 Year and Eagle Rare, all the way to the most badass George T Stagg’s 142 proof (71% abv). Definitely not for the weak. I now know what dragons feel like. And yeah…..we finished off Steve’s bottle.


We tried to all taste the same thing at the same time, and compare notes, but it becomes a shitshow, when well….youre drinking bourbon. Alot of bourbon. Eventually, we said “fuck it” and just had a good time. Enough bourbon, and you start talking about rat rods, secret walls and rooms in your house, and yes, of course, midget sex.

Once the night died down, we all had a pleasant afternoon buzz, and went home planning the November and December (holiday party!) BABAC meetups.

For more pictures, check my Flickr for the rest.