Thursday, April 28, 2016

ONIX Dunkel: from the makers of Ambar

Ambar, which is made the La Cervecería del Centro, is probably the most technically perfect beer made here in Costa Rica- for the same reason, and it being a marzenbier, it is not very outgoing or original. Not that I am saying that is a bad thing. 

At a recent visit to one of my favorite spots to drink, I was told they have a dunkel by the same crew. 

This one is bold for sure.  It says it comes in at 7.5% and it has the malt to back that up. Not bitter, yet toasted, not sweet yet full bodied and malty. It has a almost creamy mouthfeel to it which is cut by a nice level of carbonation. This is a good beer. 

Now, could I drink this all night?; no. Will I order this again?; definitely. 

Once again a technical success that appears to be pushing the limits a little bit more than I expected. 

ONIX by La Cervecería del Centro
Dunkel :: 7.5 abv 
Rating CR: 8/10
Rating: 6.5/10

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Crown Royal Maple Finished

In my youth, the big thing was all the flavored Absolut Vodkas. Please wore shirts, did shots, and saved bottles. I am usually an on-the-rocks guy, so the flavor was often  too bold, and many of the flavors tasted  fake to me.

A few years back Jack Daniels came out with the Honey version- I was not a fan.

However, about 2 years ago I bumped into Crown Royal's Maple Finished and I must say I like it.

Now, this is not something I could drink all night long, it has a strong aroma and sweet finish that does not allow heavy drinking, but this is a flavored spirit that soul.

There are cocktails that can be made, however this is such a pleasing drink neat. It pours thin, like any other whiskey, but you are almost immediately hit by that subtle nostalgic aroma of maple syrup.

At 80 proof, visually you see little difference from its unflavored counterpart- but a little aeration in the glass and and a nasal draw hits you with a beautiful smell of maple syrup and rich caramel.

The taste is warm and pleasing. There is a hint or sweetness, but not too sweet... surprisingly low body for the aroma, but perhaps a little more than the normal Crown. The sweet aromatic spirit goes down smooth and finishes with just a little bite.

Conclusion: Its great.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Willett Distillery- Real Whiskey Makers

When I see passion, it always interests me, when I see passion, heart, soul, and custody I pulls my heart. This thing nearly brought a tear to my eye.

I have never tried this Whiskey, and on my little tour of KY a decade ago, these guys did not show up on the radar. This little video took me from not knowing, to really wanting in a matter of 3 minutes. Check it out:

Nice video Josh! Thank you for sharing.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Uprising of the Costa Rican Beer Lovers…

Since moving to Costa Rica, great beer has been an issue. I am sure I have wrote about it before in the few posts I have here, but I am very happy to say that things are changing.

Initially when I got here, I had no problem drinking one of Florida Ice & Farm's monopolized birras, in fact I still dont, however I am a beer lover; having 5 different types of vanilla ice cream is not the best scenario for an ice cream lover.

Years ago there was a place called K&S in Curridibat. The place was rundown and looked like a well lit strip-club without the strippers. The beer was was defiantly more interesting then the average Imperial and the like, but was not what I was looking for. I didn't return before they shut their doors for good as a brew pub. I have heard that some of their beers are still available, but I have not seen them.

Once, on a trip to Limon in a Maxi Restaurant at the end of the road in Manzanillo, I asked for tap beer, as I normally do, expecting Imperial. The waiter asked me if I wanted to have a red beer that they had on tap, I asked where it was from and he said, "Some crazy gringos make it." So I got it. For the first time in Costa Rica I tasted a full bodied beer with real flavor. Unfortunately that was the only time I was able to have that beer- whether they still exist or not, I have no idea, but I do remember that first sip well.

Eight years later, and we have seen everything changing. We have microbreeries, home brew stores, and gastro pubs. It's great!

In an attempt to start writing more and to document some of the great things that are happening here in Costa Rica (and elsewhere) I started yet ANOTHER blog:

One of my main goals is to provide a resource for English speaking beer lovers when the tour Costa Rica. Like I said, there is some really cool stuff going on, and I want to make sure that those interested will be able to participate.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Straw-lini - Strawberry Bellini Breakfast Cocktail


Breakfast cocktails are great, but somewhat limited. Perhaps it is social stigmas, or maybe there are just not enough people drinking in the morning. Nevertheless, few drinkers can argue that in the right circumstances there is nothing better than a fresh fruit cocktail in the AM (especially if you don't like tomato juice).

I am proud to boast that I have had THE Bellini at Harry's Bar in Venice. It was a real treat (thanks Tom J). Since then I have done my ghetto interpretation from time to time with the ingredients available. One year I even made them for New Year's eve if I recall correctly.

In Costa Rica, there are times of the year where Strawberries are plentiful and cheap (or fresas as they are called here). Strawberries are a perfect compliment to the dry sparkling wine.

I prepare the strawberry puree by putting washed ripe berries in my NutriBullet and blasting them for 30 seconds or so. Next give it a little taste and if it seems too tart or not sweet enough add a little table sugar (or simple syrup if you keep that around) and blast it again. I prefer to put then puree through a colander, but I have done it both ways. Prepare ahead of time and chill.

As for the sparking wine, the original recipe uses Prosecco, which is a dry Italian sparking wine, but any dry or extra dry sparkling wine will do just fine

General rule: 2 parts wine to 1 part puree
6 oz Dry Sparkling Wine
3 oz Strawberry Puree
Serve in a Champagne flute

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Sabbatical Over?

I hope my sabbatical is over, and I can get back to writing in here a bit more. I have a ton of stories to tell...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Green Tequila

Friend, drinking buddy, and writer Brian Howard writes an interesting piece about an Organic Tequila.

I have had Organic Vodka, and it was pretty good... and yes, I am one of the guilty that had a bad experience or two and literally cringes at the smell of Tequila. I do know that nothing (well almost nothing) can turn a party around like the good ol Mexican spirit, so it deserves a spot on anyone's bar.

Kudos to those that are trying to make an effort to do what they responsibly. So if you see this at a bar, and it is reasonably priced, do your part and give it a try. Unfortunately I doubt I will ever see this in Costa Rica.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sprouting Corn For The Mash :: Distilling Part 2

Although I do not own a still, I decided that I need to start experimenting with some of the other steps so that when I do finally get a pot still, I will be fumbling around with a few less steps.

NOTE: I am getting closer- I have excellent plans which I downloaded from Artisan Distillers thanks to link I found at Home Distiller.

Some may have some anal first steps, my opinion is that the first step to producing your spirit is to is creating your beer, wine, or mash. I have a strange fascination with the idea of home-made Corn Whiskey and I not totally sure why. There is something that draws me to it; think that it's staunch Americanism and the and historical role make it the perfect spirit to try to perfect.... so why not start here.

In addition to the excellent resources on the Internet, I have purchased a couple books that have greatly helped me:
Making Pure Corn Whiskey: A Professional Guide For Amateur And Micro Distillers
The Alaskan Bootlegger's Bible

I read as much as I could, and although everyone said that malting corn was not such a difficult process, everyone had a different opinion on how to do it; even talking about the first few steps.

If you looks at my photos, you can see that I am seeing some success in sprouting the corn, Sprouting the corn is necessary to prepare the corn starches for conversion to sugars so that it can be fermented. I have decided to document and share what I have done thus far, and will continue to do so, for any other beginners out there.

If anything is unclear, feel free to ask. By the time Google picks this up, hopefully I will have done a couple more batches, and maybe even distilled a run or two, and will be happy to help.

Materials Needed:

Supplies Needed:
  • 900 Grams (2 pounds) of unreserved whole corn kernels
  • Water
  1. Rinse the corn and remove any floaters, chaff, or other things that look out of place.
  2. Place the corn in the bowl and cover with water about 2 inches above the corn
  3. Change the water every 10 to 12 hours, rinsing the corn thoroughly each time
  4. Repeat a total of 3 times (about 36 hours, I went 38). I noticed a earthy smell after the first rinse.
  5. Do a final 4th rinse and place the corn in the dish and even it out- avoid as much water as possible, but do not dry it. I had a little standing water in the bottom and feared mold, but thus far I have no problems. The corn was a little over an inch high in my dish.
  6. Cover it completely with a damp/moist wash cloth, pressing it right into the corn kernels, and place the dish by a window or some place where it gets a little sun and has a somewhat consistent temperature of 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. Every 4 to 6 hours or so aerate the corn kernels by raking them with your fingers, trying to bring the ones from the bottom to the top. This was the key to preventing mold I think. The standing water evaporated after 12 hours.
  8. Keep the wash cloth damp. I had to moisten it every 12 hours.

After 24 hours I saw the sprouts starting, and the photos above are at 48 hours. I think I am at about 60%-70% sprouted, and they are continuing to spout. "They" say you need the majority of the sprouts to be 1.5 to 2 inches long, so I am thinking I have another couple days before milling the corn. I will keep you posted.

All this typing has made me thirsty... so while I have my drink, if you have been thinking about experimenting with corn mash, get out there and do it.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Homemade Wine And Grappa:: Distilling Part 1

I have had a recent fascination with the idea of home-distilling. I am not sure what really brought it on... my love of drinking, my creative nature, or perhaps the enticing history that surrounded my initial reading; but, I have been spending a good part of my nights reading and investigating.

I will say, I have not done anything yet- I have not bought any equipment or anything like that; I am basically in research mode. In fact, I bought a couple of books that have not even arrived yet. We will see what comes of it, but hopefully I will at least end up with a good story.

I mentioned this interest to my father, and mentioned that a friend of his recently mentioned that he made his own wine and pomance brandy (or grappa), and offered to contact him to and see if we could visit. Although my interest is more in distilling, from my initial reading I knew this would be a great opportunity.

To be a home distiller, you must first be a home brewer to a certain extent- you need something to distill. That something, known as mash, is basically a beer or a wine of some sort- a fermented something. In this case, we are talking about fermented grapes.

The trip was great- not only did I drink some great homemade wine and grappa and hear the story of the process, but we also had some other great unrelated conversation. It was a really nice evening.

The wine was noticably young, but it was very good. It was a fruity red with a crisp mouth feel and a clean aftertaste. Honestly, no complaints about the wine at all. If I could get access to the quality of grapes he purchased I would consider something like that (he imports his grapes from California, and I am in Central America).

He mentioned something pretty interesting- he added nothing to the grape mash. It was stems, seeds, and grapes- but no water or yeast. He just let nature take it's course.

After the grapes ferment he would simply strain and transfer the mash to large vats. There were a few more steps before it makes it to the final bottle, but once he had the left over mash, he could then distill his delicious grappa.

He has a large copper pot still and condeser, and following all the same steps I have read about he produced his crystal clear grappa over the course of a 14 hour day.

Kept in a patron bottle with no label and served properly in a shot glass, the grappa was really tasty. It had a bite, like it should, but the essense of the grapes came through. It was not hard to drink but it was not what I would call smooth.

After we had a few he brought out a "pear in the bottle" brandy for us to try. A very interesting presentation and something that I had not seen tried tried before it was a treat. This was not a drink that would normally make it into my nights out, so I loved the chance to put a new spirit on my palate. It was smoother and obviously very different, but I honestly preferred his homemade brandy. I am a sucker for character, and his grappa had it

All in all it was a great time, and a really inspiring learning experience. It gave me alot to think about and some excellent produtcion tips.

My next step is to fabricate a small still and take a run at it. If it turns out to be mildly sucessful, I will upgrade to some more serious equipment.

Let's hope for some upcoming posts on this from me- I am sure there will be some humor.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Amsterdam Maximator Beer, not for me

I will drink anything... but this stuff was nasty. Do not get me wrong, on a desert island with an ugly bird this might be a savior.

This is one of the strange imports that show up in Costa Rica.

It was worth trying, but I would rather drink 5 times as much beer and take a few extra trips to the head, than have to drink this all night.

I saw a review by Rostise and Maverick, and loved the read... but I still despise the brew.

Side Note: I did buy three of them and drank them all; I didn't like it, but I did it. I am some hypocrite.