Friday, September 30, 2011

Autumn, Oktoberfest & Pumpkin Beer Shootout Round 1

Seasonal beers are all the rage. So I am, along with Margot’s trusted beer sense, going to ride that wave a bit. For the autumn season we get all sorts of brown ales, spiced and pumpkin flavored beers, especially here in New England. I’ve never sampled more than one or two of the ones I have ever come across, and never given much thought to exactly what worked and what did in the annual crop of autumn warmers.

We are going to run sixteen Autumn, Oktoberfest and Pumpkin beers up against each other in two rounds. This is not scientific. We sourced the selections from our local craft beer shops by grabbing a single of every one that fit the style they had on hand. We didn’t hit the local brewpubs to sample the non-bottled offerings, and we didn’t seek out some of the nano-brewed versions that aren’t always in usual stores. Most of the beers are regional to us but we do have California, Delaware, Colorado and New York represented as well. You get what we are going to give you.

This is round one. Our method? Two tasting glasses each, two ounce pours. Taste two, clean the glasses and send the leftovers back to the fridge. Repeat.

We are going to pick two personal favorites and winners in each round, one autumn brown ale style and one pumpkin flavored. We hope something we taste and review finds its way into your fridge this fall!

And the round one winners were?

Shipyard Pumpkinhead and Geary’s Autumn Ale. Right up front, you note they both come from Maine. I’m not surprised, and even if they had been consciously separated into the two rounds I am betting they both would have still stood out. I’ve known Maine makes tasty beers for a few years now. Shipyard and Sebago are two sources I’ve enjoyed beers from repeatedly. I also have experience with Allagash (and everyone who loves good beer should), Sea Dog, Casco Bay, Gritty McDuff’s and the Inn on Peaks Island, all hailing from Maine. Check out the full reviews of the first eight beers below.

Reviews Beer by Beer

We started with this beer because this is the one I associate with my first tastes of beers crafted for this season. Unfortunately we were both underwhelmed by it. I’ve mentioned my frustration with some of Sam Adams’ beers before in my blog. I feel like they’ve lost their oomph over time. It is also fair to say my tastes have grown, something of a combination of both is the likely answer. I recall when I first had this beer I really wanted it long after it was out of rotation. They made a lot less of it then. Here are the hard facts nonetheless. Pours orange/gold to amber with a tan head that lingers. The nose is mildly malty, a bit hoppy and Margot said it smelled of wet hay. The maltiness is more evident when you drink it, although is a lighter in body than I expected. It finished short with a touch of dried fruit. From Massachusetts.

*** Note: after I published this article I came across the leftover bottle (capped) in the fridge since last Friday. Thinking it might have lost carbonation or be otherwise less than worthy I took a quick sip before assuming I had to dump it. Not so! This beer has improved with a little oxygen. I would not have expected this. While it wouldn't have changed the outcome of the tasting, it is notable, and something to potentially bear in mind about this beer.

I’ve sampled through the beers from Smuttynose over the last few years, generally enjoying everything I’ve had. The Pumpkin Ale pours an orange/gold color with a slight haze and an off-white creamy head. The nose is spiced pumpkin all the way. There is lots of carbonation. This beer is definitely hoppy, Margot wrote it twice in CAPS, and the nutmeg (we think) really kicks in on the finish. The finish is a bit acidic and the hops are represented there as well. I also picked up the meaty, fleshy quality that pumpkin can impart to a beer. This beer is well made and drinks as it you would expect it to. From New Hampshire.

This is a brown ale in the truest of senses. It pours brown with amber hues setting up a dark brown head that dissipates fast. The nose is huge and full of malt, fruit and caramel (thanks Margot!) aromas. In the mouth the malt character performs really well with a touch of smoke, nuts and a clean, pleasantly bitter finish. The boldness of the nose and mouth on this beer propelled it to the front of the pack. It is intense without being intrusive. You have to stop for a second when you hit one of these to make sure you know what you’ve got! From Maine.

This and the Sam Adams Octoberfest were the only beers of this bunch I had ever had before. My last tasting of the Pumpkinhead was with a spiced sugar rimmed glass, which while it makes for a great “beer cocktail” like experience, wouldn’t offer a proper review of the beer itself. No rimmed glasses this time. Pours gold with hints of orange. It is very light for a fall season beer, but keep reading. The head is very slight but when you get to the nose you starting paying attention. I said it smelled like a garden, and squash flowers, tomato leaves and ripening vegetables was where I was going with that. Raw pumpkin. The pumpkin, spices and a bit of baked pie crust come together in the mouth. The spices arrive a little late but stick around through the finish, which has some zip. Margot noted that she could drink quite a few of these. Gotta love a woman who can pick out a good beer! We bought extras of this so we could try the rimmed glass at home and otherwise enjoy them with the season. In hindsight, smart plan. From Maine.

Pours an amber color with a quick dissipating off-white head. The pumpkin is accessible in the nose but is restrained. There is a fleshy, vegetal character to the pumpkin aroma. The spice is again bounded and not huge, but was easily found. The finish was a tad bitter with some hops along for the ride. Margot stated, and I would agree, that the pumpkin flavor was not very pronounced and that this beer drank more like a standard red ale with an off-character nose.

Pours a dark amber color with a light brown head that lingers. The nose is nutty and a little toasted. It is medium bodied with some fall character (dry leaves, another Margot-ism) to it and a slightly hoppy finish. I have to say I would not have guessed this was a Sierra Nevada beer, it just isn’t bold enough. I have enjoyed everything from them I have ever had, but this one doesn’t fit. From California.

Pours a dark amber color with minimal head. Malty and nutty nose. A bit rooty & earthy as well.  Lots of carbonation. Low on the hops and the nut & dried fruit flavors come through in the mouth. Moderate, clean finish. This is a solid casual drinker for the season. Not huge, but put together well enough to drink. This is my Bud 30 pack beer of seasonal small-batch beers. I don’t drink cheap beer, instead try to find straightforward drinkable craft and small-batch brews that offer the same casual consumption scenario, but with character. I hope that comes across as a compliment, cause it is. From Vermont.

I’ve heard things about this beer but hadn’t had it until now. The rumors and the beer match for any who might have been concerned. Pours an amber/orange color with tan head that lingers for a bit. Smells like baked squash or the inside of a pumpkin (Margot, again) and toasted pumpkin seeds. The fleshy quality of the squash comes through in the mouth joined with some spices but not to an extent that it tastes like pumpkin pie. More like spiced, baked pumpkin. Makes for an interesting drink to be sure. From Delaware.

Thumbs Up / Thumbs Down

Overall this was an exciting first round. The round two tasting is tonight and the full results will be posted in a week. Never having surveyed this many beers from this category before I have to say it is worth a spin if you are interested in these types of beers. Expanding your view to include other beers, don’t forget the local keg-only ones, would definitely mean some additional cream would rise to the top.

Cheers and happy autumn drinking all!


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Thoughts on Local Wine

To say I’ve always been a supporter of local wine would be a bit misleading. My curiosity to find it where I’ve lived goes back about 10 years, but back then it was a novelty to me. I’ve been a supporter of local beer much longer and although I’ve always treated beer and wine as equals around my table it took some time for local wines to make consistent appearances. New England has culinary traditions that are known beyond the region, Boston Baked Beans anyone, and in more recent years a dining scene that regularly gets headlines to draw folks from elsewhere in. But, we aren’t known for our wine.

In 10 years I have greatly increased my interest in and knowledge of the local wine scene, checking out the products of all of the wineries in my home state of New Hampshire (with the exception of the very newest to which visits are in the works) and a smattering of wineries in Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts. As of this writing there are 23 wineries, cider houses and meadery’s in the state of New Hampshire.

When I first started looking for local wine I didn’t really know what to expect although I knew that vineyards didn’t dot our landscape like they do in parts of California. I came across wines made from local fruits, peaches, strawberries, apples, cranberries and blueberries, and wines made from grapes such as Chardonnay and Merlot, but also ones I had never heard of like Foch, and Vidal.

The fruit wines always did, and still do make sense to me. I’ve lived in New England all my life and love the different parts of the summer when local fruits are available at pick-your-own farms and the local farmstands. We might not have vineyards, but we sure do have plenty of local fruit. The wines made from these fruits reflect our agricultural capabilities, making them hyper-local and tightly connected to the people and the place from where they come. Wine snobs everywhere might turn up their nose, but at least we have a sense of place!

The wines made from grapes that I had never heard of, others like Diamond, Noiret, Leon Millot and Seyval, took some education to understand. Together these grapes are categorized as hybrid and native grapes. I am not a farmer, but I didn’t have to be to quickly recognize that our climate forces wine grape growers to seek varieties that are cold weather hardy and because of our seasons, flora and fauna, also disease and pest resistant. Vines in California and regions all around the world need these same attributes to varying degrees, but those areas offer growing conditions where the noble grapes do so well that these other grapes aren’t even considered. Areas along the New England coast and in the Southern regions have a lot more luck with growing Chardonnay and Cabernet grapes (and other vinifera), but not as easily and reliably as other regions, so the native and hybrid grapes still form the core for some wineries in those locations.

With only 3 AVA’s (American Viticultural Areas) in New England, Western Connecticut Highlands, Southern New England and its sub-region Martha’s Vineyard, there is not lot of wine that comes from specific designations in New England. Beyond these zones (and from within them as well) wines labeled as New England or carrying the name of a state must be made from grapes, fruit or juice grown in the region or likewise the state. Not all wineries can grow or locally source enough raw material to maintain their production and thus source grapes and juice from elsewhere. The Finger Lakes is one example of such a source, although juice is also imported from California and international purveyors. These wines must be labeled as American Wine, and are only then manufactured locally. The “localness” of such wines is debatable, but at least a few of the wineries that I know that started this way quickly moved to using estate grown or locally sourced grapes to brings things back to local.

No post about local wine would be complete without a review. I am going to review the Flag Hill Raspberry Wine. Flag Hill Winery & Distillery is located in Lee, NH and is one of the oldest wineries in operation in the state of New Hampshire, opening commercially in 1996. Prior to 1996 it operated as a vineyard selling its harvested fruit to the New Hampshire Winery, which has since ceased operation. The property Flag Hill is located on has been the site of a family farm going back to the 1950’s and in 2004 114 acres of it were designated as conservation land with support from the Land and Community Heritage Program.

Flag Hill Winery & Distillery Raspberry Wine

I could smell the raspberries as soon as I popped the cork. The wine pours a deep red color with a slight purple shift and is clear, much like a Beaujolais Nouveau or Pinot Noir. The wine is spot on for raspberry, and is not sweet, although there is enough residual sweetness to balance the natural acidity of the fruit. The finish is clean and is berries all the way. This wine would be a perfect aperitivo before a meal because the acidity is palate cleansing and makes the mouth water.

( Self-portrait in the arbor used for weddings at Flag Hill. From 2007 )

Wine from Flag Hill is the first New Hampshire wine I ever had. Their wines are consistently of high quality, made from local fruits and estate grown hybrid and native grapes. Margot and I have visited Flag Hill several times to taste, including a local vacation for our 10th wedding anniversary in 2007, and more recently as the site of the first annual LiveFree & Wine New Hampshire wine festival in 2010. You can check out how it grew from our Live Free & Wine 2011 post.

( Live Free & Wine 2010 )

Next Month the wine lovers at will be hosting Drink Local Wine Week from October the 9th through the 15th. Not wanting to miss an opportunity to support and promote the wines of New England, I of course have plans.

The first event will be an All-New England wine tasting with 20+ bottles of commercial wines from wineries of all the New England states. Friends of ours who authored the book “The Next Harvest” about New England wineries will be joining us and others at our home to see what the region is offering in 2011. During the research for their book Chris and Nancy Obert visited many wineries and sourced quite a bit of New England wine. They conducted tastings of their own, we sadly didn’t know them then, and are big supporters of the local wine scene. I look forward to the conversations the more recent vintages will generate. We will have wines made from fruits, hybrid & noble grapes, and wines from both longstanding and new wineries to try. A full article with pictures, reviews and feedback will be posted the week following the tasting.

( That's me dumping the Marechal Foch into the Crusher/Destemmer at Candia Vineyards. )

My second local wine activity will be working the harvest at Flag Hill. I’ve worked harvest at Candia Vineyards in the past and enjoyed working with the grapes firsthand, knowing that just a little bit of my love of wine would be in the bottles a year later. Flag Hill has a series of harvest parties annually, something that seems to grow each year. Volunteers pick early in the day and finish with a social where grapes are crushed the old fashioned way to make a celebratory harvest wine that is served at the same event the following year. I will share my experience and photos during Drink Local Wine Week.

I hope you enjoyed this spot on the local wine scene I have come to enjoy in New England. I am very much looking forward to the upcoming tasting, the first for me where all the New England states will be represented, where I hope to get a much better idea of whether a local drinking culture is emerging where I live.



Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Reds of the Finger Lakes

If you’ve been reading along over the last week or so you’d be sure I enjoyed my first trip to the Finger Lakes region earlier this month. The beauty of the lakes and the surrounding countryside is like few places I have ever been. All of the local folks we met were as casual and nice as those we often meet in Vermont and at home in New Hampshire. My wife and I didn’t specifically quest for food, but we did find excellent fare at the Red New Bistro, tasty & well prepared dishes at the Blue Pointe Grille and the House of Hong in Watkins Glen, as well as the Village Tavern in Hammondsport. But of course, we came for the wine!

I gave the Finger Lakes Rieslings specific treatment based on finding them to standout all their own. I followed that with a post containing a roundup of the Other White Wines from the Finger Lakes I found interesting, recommending whites from several producers and in several styles that tell more of the Finger Lakes story.

That leaves me to share my thoughts on the reds. I tried not to color my views of the Finger Lakes wines too much with research ahead of time, but there was only so much I could do. The Rieslings were not new to me, and the debate over which reds, if any, are really worthy of the effort in the region was also hard to miss. That said, I confidently expected that I would find red wines of interest to me and would have a firsthand opportunity to explore what was being made; drawing any conclusions that I could.

Best of the Best

Rooster Hill 2009 Estate Cabernet Franc – This wine is another solid youthful drinker. The nose came off as average in intensity with a nice mix of earth and greens. I picked up tart cherries, baking spices and a bit of vanilla on the palate. The tannins were coarse but not too aggressive. I bought a bought of this to specifically let it age to see how it mellows and improves.

Ravines 2008 Cabernet Franc – This wine is drinking good young, but should improve with age. I base this on the healthy acidity and softening tannins that wrap the cherries, greens and earthy notes of this wine. The oak is restrained and I picked up some cured meats or bacon essence as I continued to sip this wine.

Ravines 2007 Meritage – This wine is a delicate blend with red berries, spices and just enough oak to create the structure needed for it to please. The aromatics are mellow, but a good combination of fruit, earth and oak. The tannins are present and softening, hinting at solid aging potential. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.

Red New 2008 Glacier Ridge Merlot – The first thing that grabbed me about this wine was the intensity of the color, it is deep and concentrated. The aromas followed on with lots of raspberry, cherry and whiffs of oak. The intensity of the color was matched by an incredible body. The mouth is rich with berries, a little meaty and finishes with velvety tannins. This wine is full bodied and bold in the friendliest of ways.

Heart & Hands 2009 Pinot Noir – We didn’t actually get to Heart & Hands on this trip, but I spotted the Pinot on the menu at the Red Newt Bistro and knew I had to try it. This is one of the smoothest Pinot Noirs I have ever tasted. The nose is pretty big, full of cherries, rose petal (maybe some other flowers too) and hints of a smoky camp fire. The mouth presents cherries, dried fruits and a little earth. The tannins are mild and very soft. I ordered several bottles of the available Pinots as soon as I got home.

Other Notable Juice

Six Mile Creek Quintessence 2009 – This wine presents warm oak in the nose, a deep, concentrated color and healthy aromas of red fruits. The flavors of black cherry, plum and blackberry are very pleasing, following with smooth tannins and a dry finish. This wine is drinking well young, but will likely benefit from cellar time. A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Keuka Lake Vineyards 2009 Leon Millot – I’ve had Millot more than a couple of times at tastings of wines from Vermont and New Hampshire. The cold-weather hardiness of the grape makes it a great option in those locations. The thing that grabbed me about this wine was the color. Dark, dark, dark is what I wrote in my notes. The second thing that grabbed me was the strength of the aromas. There was plum, dark cherry and blackberry bursting out of the glass. These flavors followed through in the mouth and were accented with currants and a dry, moderate length finish. This wine is immensely drinkable and coming from a less-than-standard grape helps with the diversity of the Finger Lakes wine story.

Heron Hill 2008 Reserve Blaufrankish – Blaufrankish, Lemberger, you pick the name. It really only matters if you identify with Austria or Germany more when it comes to this type of wine, but since I wasn’t in either place the style it is made in is subjective and in the hands of the producer for naming. The nose offered baking spices, violets and what I would say was unripe plum. In the mouth it was smooth and tasted of red fruits and a bit of earth.  It is well put together and interesting for the left hand turn it makes off the usual red wine road.

Dr. Frank Salmon Run 2002 Meritage – I picked this off the menu at the Village Tavern looking to see what a nearly ten year old red from the region had going on. This comes from the value label of Dr Frank and something that folks might scoff at, but it performed admirably and was worth the taste. It is still reasonably concentrated with aromas and flavors of cherry, and a touch of dry soil. There were perceptible flavors of grape leaves or greens and manageable oak. It wasn’t stunning and I don’t think it is as delicate at this point as similar blends that are made with age mind. I don’t have a lot of experience with wines that are 10 years or older (sad, but true) so I can’t really say how much longer this wine could go, but it does feel like is on the other side of peak.

Lamoreaux Landing 2008 76 West Meritage – This blend is one where I think time is needed for it to reach more of its inherent potential. It is a bit tight with subtle fruit and oak aromas, and clear understatement of the berries and cherries in the mouth. It is balanced with softening tannins and good acidity, thus my conclusion regarding the need for aging. Had I had the time I might have let this breath a bit to see how that helped.

Damiani 2009 Pinot Noir – I had this twice in the span of about an hour on the last day of my trip. I found it in a flight of Pinot Noirs at the Red Newt Bistro and it intrigued me. Unfiltered and unfined it had some wild and earthy aromas that made this wine geek giddy. Daminani was my very next visit and I figured if this wine was my first impression there would be other interesting wines to try. This is definitely a funky and unrefined Pinot with lots of aromas and flavors that take some time to process. The tannins are present and equally off the typical expectations.

Damiani Cabernet Blend – This wine is notable because when opposed on both the varietal Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Francs, the blend of both makes a lot of sense.  The blend is rounder, fruitier and more nuanced than either wine on its own. Red fruits and some leafiness are finished dry.  A blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Cabernet Franc. I don’t know what the vintage is or whether it is a cuvee blend, but I would suggest some cellar time to see what happens nonetheless.

Hermann Wiemer 2008 Reserve Cabernet Franc – I tasted both the 2008 and 2008 Reserve, finding the Reserve to be better balanced and softer on the palate. The color was also a bit more concentrated as well. A combination of blackberry, greens and earth composed the palate on this wine, finished with some warmth and spice from the oak. The tannins are noticeable, but softening. The finish is moderate and cleans up with a nice touch of acidity.

( Ravines Wine Cellars )

Casual Drinkers / Sweet Reds

These reds are a different breed, either because they are sweet and highly drinkable and/or because they are promoted with casual drinking in mind. At between $9 and $11 these wines have a good price/performance ratio for a range of everyday consumption scenarios.

Six Mile Creek Dolce Vita – Leon Millot makes a second appearance in the post, this time barrel aged and a bit sweet. This wine has dehydrated fruit on the nose and in the mouth, a bit like raisins and dried raspberries. The oak is present and helps bring it all together.

Dr. Frank Salmon Run Coho Red – This is a sweet Gamay blend, something to get the conversation going and then not distract from it. The wine isn’t refined or snooty, but pleasant and fruity with a clean finish.

Ravines Keuka Village Red – A blend of Cabernet Franc and Noiret. This wine has a light nose, cherry and pepper in the mouth with a light body and a clean finish. I wrote in my notes I wrote that this wine has range and would be excellent with a variety of foods and friendly conversation.

Lamoreaux Landing Estate Red – Like the Ravines wine above, this wine is dry but smooth and fruity with just enough acidity and tannins to be pleasant to drink without requiring a lot of time for consideration.

What Else?

I didn’t find a plethora of varietal Cabernets that rocked my world, and I hadn’t expected to. And in my opinion, neither should you. Not as the rule anyway. Note that I didn’t highlight any in this post, but of course I haven’t tried them all. There are exceptions, check for the reviews on Shaw Vineyard, and when I ultimately have one that grabs me I’ll be sure to review it. In the US we’ve grown so used to a particular style of Cabernet from California and because of that we are woefully biased. Based on what I know that type of Cabernet isn’t going to get made by wineries throughout the Finger Lakes. If you have to have it you’ll have to look a bit, and that might just mean you’ll appreciate it more when you do find it.

Experimentation with different varietals is ongoing in the region. The Glenora Sangiovese was a surprise, and while the 2010 is young it was drinking reasonably well. I wouldn’t compare it to a Chianti (which for the record I DID NOT hear them say) but that is likely to be the comparison made to the average tasting room visitor. I’m not sure where this experiment is going to go, and I wonder if the grape and the wines made from it will survive as the fish-out-of-water I perceive them to be in the Finger Lakes.

Glenora also gets a mention for their alternative packaging in the form of the Astrapouch. Containing the equivalent of two standard bottles of wine in a plastic pouch, this wine is mobile and doesn’t require an opener. Once opened the wine will stay fresh for a short period of time (days to a week is a safe bet), and is a great solution for taking your wine out by the pool without worrying about broken glass! Current varieties include Chardonnay, a sweet Riesling and a sweet red.

The Final Analysis

There is enough going on in the Finger Lakes to satisfy all but the most finicky of wine lovers, but a sense of adventure and a desire to try new things is a requirement. Coming to the region with visions of comparing the wines to those you might enjoy from France, Spain, Italy, Germany or California is a bad idea, but many people will do it anyway. Some of the wines will match up well, but it just isn’t the right approach. I sincerely hope folks with that attitude don’t miss the exciting wines that you can find in many of the places available to visit while in the region.

For me the whites were the star of the show, but the reds and wines made from the hybrid grapes (both red and white) complete a picture of a place that only needs time to become widely known for world-class wines all on its own.



Friday, September 23, 2011

Saying Goodbye to the 2011 Summer of Riesling

Final Summer of Riesling Thoughts & Link Roundup

My Summer of Riesling started right after my return from the Wine Bloggers Conference in Virginia in July. Once or twice a week I tasted, paired and shared Rieslings from all over. I tasted products from Europe, the US West Coast and several local/regional wines that came from Idaho, Ohio, Michigan, Connecticut, New York and New Hampshire.

I had hoped to finish up this week with an Ice Wine from Inniskillin but the box contained the wrong product, an Ice Wine made from Vidal instead! Not to worry, I slotted in the last bottle of a Riesling Ice Wine style wine I made in 2009. It has been a year since I had had some and it was improved once again. Intensely sweet with good acid to balance, the concentrated fruit flavors are wrapped with something I have always said was a little wild. I’m sad to see it gone, but it did make for a sweet finish.

I didn’t complete my regional quest either, and did not source Rieslings from VT, ME, RI and MA. I’ll get back to this eventually.

A few wine tasting notes never made it into any of the posts included:

Trimbach 2007 Riesling – I found this wine to be a bit too dry, maybe losing something with age. It still tasted good flavor-wise, but was more dry than I had recalled from prior tastings.

Chamard 2011 Riesling – the fruit was sourced from the Finger Lakes in 2010 for their first ever Riesling. It had the signature minerality in the nose with peach, green apple and citrus in the nose and mouth. It was refreshing but might have suffered from a lack of acid. From Connecticut.

Here is a link round-up of all of my Summer of Riesling posts:
Riesling Hour Tasting Notes

Last night I participated in the Riesling Hour event to usher in the 2010 Rieslings from the Finger Lakes region. I received a selection of six wines from the 30 participating wineries. One of the most interesting things that came out of my participation in the event was the sharing of thoughts on wines with others who received something different. I think it enhanced the conversation. I opened 4 of the bottles, leaving two I had on my recent trip in the cellar for another day. Two were dry, one was semi-dry and one was medium-sweet.

Anthony Road 2010 Dry – I ran out of time on my trip and didn’t end up getting to Anthony Road so I was very excited to get this bottle for the Twitter tasting. I found intense minerality in the nose with some wet stone & citrus on the palate. I also got hints of green apple and melon rind. I didn’t find this wine to be as good others I recently tried and was left wondering if the 2010 vintage was a bad first taste. I’ll be returning to the region soon and Anthony Road is on my list to visit.

Swedish Hill 2010 Dry – Orange and wet stone aromas. Hints of sweetness in the nose, although it drinks dry. Peach with a bit of tropicality on the palate. The acidity was pretty healthy and made me think of some of the 2009’s recently tasted. This was my favorite of the night.

Atwater Semi-Dry 2010 – The nose on this wine was the most pronounced of the four I tasted. Peaches and tropical fruits were clear and big. The flavors were consistent. This wine drinks sweet, but the finish has a drying quality to it that buffered the sweetness very well. At 10.8% ABV this wine could be a dangerous casual drinker!

Lakewood Medium-Sweet2010 – Saving the sweetest for last my palate was primed for something with a bit more sugar. I picked up pear and citrus both in nose and mouth. The wine is sweet, but again has enough acidity to prevent it from tasting flat or too sweet.

Digging Deeper into the Finger Lakes Riesling Story

During the Riesling Hour TweetChat Richard Auffrey, aka thePassionate Foodie (@RichardPF), asked a characteristically probing question, and one that got me thinking. The question was:

"What does #FLXWine Riesling offer, if anything, that you cannot find in Alsatian/German Rieslings? #RieslingHour"

There was a bit of protest about the comparison being made in the question, and I get that. The Finger Lakes isn’t Germany. But what if the question isn’t meant in a punitive or negative way? I defend the question with the idea that digging a little deeper is the hallmark of best writers in this business. Richard consistently demonstrates this, giving me and others something to aspire to.

Austria, France and Germany are the gold standard for Riesling in the world and have a long history backing up their wines. Most winemakers of Riesling know this and inevitably use the examples from these countries as guide, consciously or not.

This is not an easy question to answer because most of the assertions I came up with are of subjective value. There is no discrete answer.

Here’s my opinion on what the Finger Lakes Rieslings offer and why we should pay attention:
  1. For a young winemaking region a lot has been accomplished in 50 years. The quality presented today is at a premium to the time required to get there, and is only increasing. More time equals more quality, and the best producers are rising to the top.
  2. The very best Rieslings from the Finger Lakes rival the quality of some of the foreign competition. I said some, and the low quality stuff is easy to beat. This isn’t apples to apples so this comparison breaks down easily. But give it time.
  3. It is a domestic product so we get to wave the stars and stripes when we drink it. Some people don’t care about this, but I do. In my experience the Rieslings from the Finger Lakes are better than all of the cheap, high-volume domestic offerings I’ve tasted so we’ve got a gem here to promote.
  4. It’s a local/regional product for many consumers whose patronage supports small American businesses. Being local can also mean it is greener because it has to travel shorter distances to get to a happy consumer. Because of the increasing quality there is the two-for-one benefit of supporting the small businesses AND getting a great drink! I try to drink local in New England and with greater diversity in quality it isn’t as easy for me to get that same benefit. I felt it firsthand on a recent trip to the Finger Lakes and it got me jazzed up!
I look forward to other opinions on this topic, I am sure I will learn something!

Recent Finger Lakes Posts from Blogging Friends

The 2010 Finger Lakes Rieslings Have Been Released – LifeOfVines blog by Marie Payton

Riesling Hour – 2010 Finger Lakes Rieslings – WiningWays blog by Lorie Perrone

What to Know About 2010 Finger Lakes Rieslings – New York Cork Report by Evan Dawson

Welcoming the New Season

With summer behind us Riesling won’t be as frequent of a friend in my blog as it has been, but only because there is room here for everyone!

Upcoming highlights include two Harvest & Pumpkin beer shootouts, an all New England wine tasting and food & wine pairings befitting the cooler weather.



Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Finger Lakes – Other Whites

In my previous post on the Finger Lakes I focused solely onRiesling. While Riesling is the star of the show in the region in my opinion, I enjoyed several other whites; some of which that are likewise not to be missed. As I did in the Riesling post I will review the highlights of the 25+ non-Riesling whites I tasted.  There was a bit more variability in the non-Riesling white wines and not all producers had other white wines that were as attention-worthy as the Rieslings they poured.

Singling Out Gewurztraminer

My wine drinking friends know I love an ebullient and aromatic Gewurz so I was hoping to give it as much attention as I could on the trip. I tasted it in as many places as I could, and was not disappointed.

Dr Frank 2009 Reserve Gewurztraminer – this was my favorite Gewurz on the trip. Why? Balance. The wine is semi-dry so in order for it to be enjoyable it has to have the right amount of acidity to buffer the sugar. And it does. Add the huge floral nose and you’ve got a winner! The fruit in the mouth follows through all they along the moderate to long finish, extending the enjoyment.

Rooster Hill 2010 Estate Gewurztraminer – This wine was very simply assembled. Moderate nose with some minerality, peach & bit of exotic fruits and a tart finish. Understatement can be an asset .

Red Newt 2007 Sawmill Creek Gewurztraminer – The refinement offered by this wine started with the nose. Flowers and spices rose from the glass. It smells sweet, but drinks dry. It tasted like spicy oranges.

Damiani 2009 Gewurztraminer – this was the first one I tried where I could pick up the lychee flavor that is often spoken of with Gewurz. It had a bit of spice and a nice long finish.

Hermann Wiemer 2010 Gewurztraminer – The abundant flowers in the nose and peach in the mouth made this wine a great sip. It is a bit sweet, but in balance and well worth the time.

Chardonnay Does Well Too

Before I hit ground in the region I was educated enough to know that Riesling and Gewurztraminer were going to get my attention, but I hadn’t looked deep enough to know what to expect from Chardonnay. From the few I had it is clear that the winemakers with a strong passion for making quality Rieslings are equally capable of producing a quality Chardonnay as well. There were both oaked and un-oaked styles that are worth mention.

Ravines 2008 Chardonnay – This was my favorite of the Chardonnay’s I tasted. Twenty percent of the grapes were dehydrated using the appassimento method, some amount of MLF was executed and part of it saw oak. This resulted in a nice blend of melon, peach, fig, citrus, baking spices and warm toasty oak. The body was moderate to full with a nice long finish. This wine is very elegant and enveloping.

Heron Hill Ingle Vineyard 2009 Chardonnay – this wine is un-oaked with a moderate nose. It is very clean and crisp, with flavors of tart apple, citrus. It is dry, but not bone dry so the perception of a bit of body is there.

Lamoreaux Landing 2008 Chardonnay – for an oaked Chardonnay it comes off much lighter than you might expect, but not to its detriment. The combination of spices, buttered toast, fresh herbs and the lime finish was very interesting.

Hermann Wiemer 2010 Chardonnay – this wine had the most complex palate of all the Chards I tasted. It wasn’t the best, the balance wasn’t as good, but being young I was left to wonder what it would taste like in a year. Take note of that for your next visit. Un-oaked.

Best from the Hybrid Grapes

Keuka Lake Vineyards 2010 Gently Dry Vignoles – From my experience in New England Vignoles comes medium-sweet or sweet and while the wines like that I’ve had were good, I always wondered if a dry style would perform. This one does. The nose is full of fruit and flowers, there is pineapple and orange in the mouth with a dry, citrus driven finish. You could easily mistake (not a bad thing) this wine for other aromatic wines like Riesling or Gewurztraminer. KLV was also pouring the 2010 Turkey Run Vignoles which was much more subtle on the nose, but otherwise quite similar.

Six Mile Creek 2010 Seyval Blanc – this wine was notable for because of the huge fruity nose and healthy acidity. It was crisp, focused and clean with a nice hit of citrus on the way out. Seyval shows up quite a bit in New England where I think it is done well. This wine wasn’t quite the performer as my favorite from Jewell Town in South Hampton, NH, but we weren’t in NH, were we?

Other Notable Wines

Keuka Lake Vineyards 2010 White – This is the first year for a white blend from KLV and when presented as a straightforward socializing wine at a good price, I had to mention it. Made from 2/3 Riesling and 1/3 Vignoles, there was enough complexity in both the nose and mouth for me to savor it a bit. Margot said it had a “candle scent” type nose because of how forward it was.

Dr Frank 2010 Gruner – I mention this wine because it was a surprise. I hadn’t heard much about experimentation with Gruner in the Finger Lakes and didn’t see it anywhere else I went. I picked up lime and melon in the mouth and some of that signature white pepper the style can be known for.

Red Newt 2007 Pinot Gris – This wine was vexing and pleasing all at the same time. The combination of peach and spices in the nose led to an unusual substance in the body and a spicy flavor that followed through on the finish. I need to return to this wine to study it more.

Hermann Wiemer Late Harvest Chardonnay – Using Chard for a late harvest wine isn’t the norm, so I had to try it. I found it to be restrained with an exceptional balance. At 9.8% RS it has plenty of sugar, but it also has the acidity to tame it to a manageable place. This wine is nuanced, but not aggressive. Bought some!

Rooster Hill 2009 Late Harvest Vignoles – This dessert wine really brings it home. Fig, honey and caramel in liquid form! There was something in the nose I couldn’t define and that elusiveness added to the enjoyment.

What Does it Mean?

Clearly there is a great range of white wines made in the Finger Lakes. Those winemakers who are committed to making high-quality wines are clearly adept at making them from a variety of grapes and in different styles. There is something there for everyone.

Next time I will share my thoughts on the red wines I tasted. There was great Pinot, an exceptional Merlot and several distinctive Cabernent Francs.



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Finger Lakes Riesling

For my celebrations of the 2011 Summer of Riesling I included several Finger Lakes selections. There were a couple of motivations for this. First off a regional source supports drinking local, a renewed passion of mine. Secondly, I would be capping off my exploration of Riesling with a visit to the Finger Lakes in September, and I wanted to do a little homework beforehand.

The first three Finger Lakes Rieslings I tasted this summer were the Salmon Run 2010 Dry Riesling from Dr. Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars and the Reserve 2009 & Semi-Sweet 2008 from the Six Mile Creek. I wrote about the Salmon Run wine in my Summer of Riesling Kick-Off where I also listed all the wines and plans I had for the remainder of the summer. As part of my homework I sourced a range of wines from Six Mile Creek to get more familiar with what is going in the Ithaca area where the WineMaker Magazine Conference will be held in 2012. My reviews of those wines are available in the post Six From Six. Both the Salmon Run and Six Mile Creek offerings made a second appearance at our Summer of Riesling Party where we held an Other 47 blind tasting of Riesling.

I also enjoyed a Dr. Frank 2010 Semi-Dry Riesling in a flight with a dry Riesling from Sharpe Hill in Connecticut and a Late Harvest style Riesling from Grand Traverse in Michigan. Contrasting those three styles next to each other was very interesting! 

My impression from both the dry and sweet styles is that the wines are very aromatic, fruity with plentiful minerality and acid that keeps the wines fresh and crisp. With such a limited tasting I couldn’t conclude anything else, except that I enjoyed the wines and would be looking forward to trying more when I visited.

I will be finishing my Summer of Riesling celebrations this week with a couple of activities. First off, I saved a bottle of Inniskillin Riesling Ice Wine for my final review, a sweet finish to be sure. On Thursday I will be participating in the Riesling Hour virtual tasting, an event held to ring in the 2010 vintage of Finger Lakes Riesling. The sample wines I received for that event included a few I tasted while on my trip, reviewed here, and several wines that are new to me. The added depth from the new selections means that I will have surveyed more than 20 different Rieslings from the region this summer, giving me a good foundation to confirm the prevailing wisdom that Riesling is done very well and is the signature wine from the Finger Lakes.

You can find semi-sweet, late harvest and iced style Rieslings in the Finger Lakes, and while there is nothing wrong with those styles (the late harvest can be divine), the dry Rieslings are the wines that show the most finesse.

Why does Riesling do so well in the Finger Lakes? In my post where I shared what I’ve learned about the region at-large, About the Finger Lakes, the geologic, weather and micro-climactic forces that make the region what it is were broadly presented. These forces are part of the reason. The other part is the people, and specifically people with experience from some of the great Riesling-making regions of the world who came to the Finger Lakes and have demonstrated what is possible with the grape. Their experience has helped others experiment and learn with similar results.

The Rieslings tasted on the trip that can be broken down categorically by dryness with the following stats:
  • Dry - 13
  • Semi-Dry - 6
  • Late  Harvest/Dessert – 1

Overall the wines were sound with no obvious flaws. I would drink all of these wines again and would recommend visitors to the region seek them out for the firsthand experience. One specific experience tasters should plan on trying is contrasting the same producer in difference vintages and from different vineyard parcels. There will be variation for a number of reasons and experiencing them adds depth to your understand what is possible.

Best of the Best

Hermann Weimer 2010 Dry – this wine presented stone fruits and citrus in the nose with the same flavors coming through on the palate. The hints of grapefruit on the finish accentuate the healthy, but balanced acidity of the wine. Everything about this wine was clean and focused, making it shine.

Rooster Hill 2010 Med. Sweet – The golden plum that came through in the nose on this wine was very specific and pleasant. The hints of gravel and petrol that accented the plum were in just the right place. I picked up baked apple, and peach in the mouth with citrus coming in for the finish. This was the one I felt had the broadest aroma and flavor palate, offering lots of things to discover in each sip.

Ravines 2009 Dry – This was the wine where I felt finesse through understatement was best demonstrated. There was peach in both the nose and mouth, perceptible minerality and a tart, clean finish.  Calling this wine simple is totally unfair, and subtle and aloof convey more of connotations I am going for. If I were going to pick one of the Rieslings I tasted to have on hand all the time, this would be it. Why? Because its finesse and subtlety make it useful in the widest possible circumstances, a necessary attribute in a house wine.

Most Notable Single Vineyard Bottling

Heron Hill Ingle Vineyard 2008 – grape growers and winemakers in the Finger Lakes region manage a patchwork of vineyards that lend significant and demonstrable differences in the final product. When a specific source is found to be particularly interesting and is used to produce a wine, the result can be so much more than if the same fruit were blended in with others.  The Ingle Vineyard 2008 Riesling tasted like applesauce! With 1.64% residual sugar it has just enough sweetness to accentuate the apple and spice. A bit of minerality and petrol in the nose balanced all the other facets to create a beautiful single vineyard Riesling.

Notable Vintage and Parcel Differences

Glenora 2009 Dry Riesling versus the 2010 Dry Riesling. I found the 2010 to be signinifcantly more vibrant, aromatic and flavorful than the 2009. Hearing that the growing season for the Finger Lakes in 2010 was the warmest ever and that there had been mounting expectations for the wines made from it, this would be a consistent finding.

Keuka Lake Vineyards Evergreen Lek vs. Falling Man Vineyards. The Evergreen Lek wine had mild aromas and a lime driven finish. Opposing that, the Falling Man wine presented aromatics of unripe peach and had a bit of funk to offer as well. Both wines offered juicy acidity and pleasant palate. With a finish also driven with citrus, but not so much lime, the Falling Man selection was the better balanced of the two, offering a nose and palate that complimented each other best.

Other Highlights

Tierce Riesling – this collaboration between Red Newt (where we tasted it), Fox Run and Anthony Road is a great example of companies who are technically competitors joining forces to combine the best each has to offer and take it higher.  The wine had a pleasant balance of peach & citrus, minerality and high, but refreshing acid. Products like this are largely unheard of in other regions. May this be the beginning of a new era in wine!

Beautiful locations to sip a Riesling - I was taken with the views from the tasting rooms of Dr. Frank, Heron Hill and Damiani. A common thread was floor to ceiling (or close to it) windows looking out over the adjacent property, vines and ultimately the lake. The vines that were full of vigor and fruit at Dr. Frank’s made for a particularly beautiful vista. Wine is very much about a place as many wine-knowledgeable people know, and where you taste is absolutely part of it.

Producers We Missed on This Trip

Anthony Road Winery – having taken the Governor’s Cup for their 2008 Dry Riesling this is one missed visit that I will be sure to right on my next soon to be planned trip. Adding a component to the Tierce Riesling is yet another attractive draw.

Fox Run Vineyards – collaborating on the Tierce Riesling is all I need to know to have this stop on the itinerary for next time. Good wines, a good story and a passion for collaboration to grow the esteem of the region vote high in my book.


My conclusions are simple. Go to the Finger Lakes, try the Rieslings and then reflect on what more the experience tells you about the place and its people. You won’t be disappointed, and you won’t be able to hesitate telling others to follow in you footsteps. There are plenty of other wines that are worthy of your time, and I will be sharing those here real soon, but the Rieslings define the region.



Friday, September 16, 2011

About the Finger Lakes

We here at the Ancient Fire Wine Blog visited the Finger Lakes Region of New York State for the first time ever this month. We learned a few things about the region before we went and during our visit, which we believe will help others understand this unique place.

( Available from Wikimedia Commons

Geological Formations

As it is with most wine grape growing regions around the world the unique geologic history of the area left behind artifacts that contributed to what is now special about the place. The Finger Lakes region of New York State as we know it today was transformed by glaciers beginning about 2 million years ago. The glaciers changed what were a series of north flowing rivers (towards Lake Ontario) into long thin lakes. As the glaciers advanced and retreated the river valleys were widened and deepened to create the lakes we see today. After the final glacial retreat deposits of shale, siltstone, clay-rich limestone beds and glacial wash were left behind in a variety of configurations in the region. These soils and rocks created a variety of conditions affecting much in the area, including agriculture and of course grape growing. With experience it has been found that some grape varieties prefer the glacial gifts more than others.

The Microclimates

On top of what was bestowed in the soils by the glaciers, the lakes themselves provide another unique element that form a series of microclimates around the lakes. The depth of the lakes means they rarely freeze and the relative warmth of the lakes compared to the air in winter and the cooling affects in the summer help to moderate the temperature of the lakeside vineyards. There are pockets of specific climates that see unique warming, cooling, drainage and air flow throughout the region. The best vineyardists are able to recognize and exploit these situations to the benefit of the wines made from the grapes.

The overall weather in the region covers a broad range and is unpredictable. Snow and bitter temperatures in the winter share the same location with intense heat and humidity in the summer. Anytime from February to November can see a “rainy season” with the timing of the rains source of constant concern. This has proven that even the most experienced and resourceful grape growers must be their own local weatherman, constantly looking at the sky and feeling the vibe in the vineyard. This is no easy job!


While there is evidence of pre-Iroquois civilization in the region, much of what we know about the area from pre-Colonial and Colonial times comes via the Five Nations of Iroquois  (Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga and Seneca) from which the names of the lakes and rivers in the regions were derived.

Unfortunately the Iroquois largely sided with the British during the American Revolution which led to them being driven from their home in the Fingers Lakes region by Continental Army. After the revolution large swaths of land in the area were given to war veterans with the native Americans finding themselves isolated to reservations. The new settlers colonized the area creating many of the places and traditions we experience there today.

From there a rich history evolved with highlights such the creation of Cornell University in 1865 and the birth of the women’s suffrage movement in Seneca Falls in the early 20th century. More recently the Finger Lakes has secured a place as an outdoor recreation and vacation destination that many people enjoy.

Travel & Tourism

With rich natural beauty in the mountains, rivers and lakes the region has become a destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The growth of the winemaking industry, museums, shopping, golf and motor sports in addition to the boating, fishing and hiking popular in the area means interest in visiting draws people from all corners of the world.

With three formally organized wine trails on Cayuga, Seneca and Keuka lakes, finding the region’s wines is easy and fun. A variety of travel, tourism and wine trail organizations have extensive online information to help visitors from outside the region plan trips that include a rich mix of the activities available. You can find links in the reference section below for more information.

Wine History

And finally to the wine. For the Ancient Fire Wine Blog to take this long in a post to get to the wine is rare, but we felt it was necessary to share what we recently (and newly) learned about the region with our readers. It is a unique and beautiful place and knowing a bit about it before you delve into the wine does help you appreciate it when you do.

And we are going to make you wait even longer for reviews. In this, the last section of the post, we will get you current on the origin of the winemaking in the region and will return starting next week with reviews of where we visited and the wines we recommend people source and try.

Wine in the Finger Lakes region has its first documented history with sacramental wine in Hammondsport in the early 1800’s. Later that century two winemaking companies garnered world-wide attention for their sparkling wines. By 1900 the region had 25,000 acres under vine.

Prohibition, phylloxera and West Coast competition created problems in the 20th century and interest in wines NOT made from the locally hardy native-American grape varieties kept interest in the region’s wines very low well into the 1900’s.

What happened next is where the magical story of the modern epoch of Finger Lakes wines starts. In the early 1950’s a Ukranian immigrant named Dr. Konstantin Frank took work at the Geneva Experiment Station of Cornell University on the northwest corner of Seneca Lake. With experience growing vinifera grapes (noble and well known grape types) in harsh climates he was part of the spark that modernized the winemaking in the region. Within a decade his experience and adamant professions about growing vinifera, experiencing much ridicule of course, were proven with the launch of Vinifera Wine Cellars in Hammondsport. Dr. Frank’s wines are known worldwide and the winery is consistently held out as the source of some of the finest the Finger Lakes wine available.

Soon others came from Europe and myriad domestic locations looking to harness the unique geology and climate to make wine.  As of this writing there are over 100 wineries in the region with new operations coming online each year.

Wine is made for many reasons in the Finger Lakes, from true passion for making great wine, a commitment to local agriculture and stewardship of the land, to retirement projects and finally savvy business people using the travel and tourism industry to draw consumers. What does that mean for the quality of the wines you might find? Simply put, it’s all over the place.

The focus of the region is on aromatic whites like Riesling and Gewurztraminer, and rightfully so. These two grapes are a good fit for the soil and climate mitigating some of the uphill battle winemakers experience when trying to coax grapes into wine. And the wines are exciting to smell and taste! Our reviews of these wines will be the ones you will want to pay the closest attention to. Missing the greatest examples of these wines when in the region should be a criminal offense!

There are also bright spots for red wines, but with much less consistency than the whites. There is a vibrant conversation going on amongst the grape growers and winemakers about red wines and their place in the region, which is a very good thing. Just like what I found on my recent trip to Virginia, I didn’t find lots of distinction across the range of red wines, but do have reviews that represent some as real standouts.

There are also wines made from the native and hybrid grapes of the earlier eras, local fruits and grapes that may not be well suited for the place. Some winemakers eschew the native & hybrid grapes entirely, while others believe some plots produce good grapes and wines that are pleasant and worth the time. Use of the local fruits and “fish out of water” grapes are spiced in everywhere with similar motivations.  We tried several of all of these types of wines and I don’t disagree with their existence in theory. Our reviews will help you navigate the morass created here.

Until Next Time

Now that you know a little more about the region, are you thirsty? I know I am, and I was just there! Next week we will begin sharing our winery visits, reviews and pictures from this beautiful place that is calling to us all.




Thursday, September 15, 2011

Local Spotlight – Moat Mountain Belgian Style Tripel

This is only the second time I've mentioned the Moat Mountain Brewery in my blog, and that’s because you can’t get their beers everywhere. But then again if you could, they might not be the hidden gem I have found them to be. They are local, North Conway, NH, and at least one of the nearby craft beer shops nearby does carry their beers. My first taste was at the 2010 New Brewers Festival where I had their cask drawn Imperial Stout. That beer is a serious drink and coming from a cask where it is still living and fresh made it a real treat.

This week for my Local Spotlight I chilled down a bomber (22 oz bottle) of Moat Mountain Belgian Style Tripel for some thoughtful consideration. I actually picked up this bottle at Downeast Beverage Company in Portland, ME during my recent One Day Scavenger Hunt for food and drink.

The beer pours an orange/gold color with an off-white head that doesn’t stick around too long. The beer sounded crisp when I poured it. The nose is pretty big and full of spice and yeast aromas. The nose definitely locks this beer into the style correctly. In the mouth the beer is malty and a bit sweet but finishes very crisp with hints of hops and fruit along the way. This is a full bodied beer and although the finish is short, it is flavorful and clean.

As I drank the beer I hit the web to find out more about Moat Mountain. Moat Mountain was started by Stephan Johnson, a Johnson & Wales alum and restaurateur in Portland, ME area. In the late 1990’s he acquired the Scottish Lion Inn property and set about executing his vision for Moat Mountain which would include a brewery, restaurant and inn. Since officially opening in 2000 Moat Mountain has received acclaim from Yankee Magazine and is seeing positive reviews at

Moat Mountain brews year round with consistent offerings that includes a Weiss, Pilsner, Pale Ale, Brown Ale and a Stout. Their seasonal and limited availability brews range from the Tripel I am tasting now to a Mai Bock, to a Lager and a Blueberry Wheat Ale, just to name a few.

The last time I was in the Conway area was over the 2010 Christmas holiday and the brewery was not open on the one day I had some time to make a trip. I also couldn’t find any of the beers in local Conway stores (the ones that were open) so I hadn’t had it in almost a year. I certainly need to plan a trip sometime soon because this beer is making me really happy!