This is what our contributors and editors were drinking last week…
David Flaherty: Spezial Weize, Hopf, Germany
Nestled in the Bavarian alps lies the Weissbierbrauerei Hopf. It's been in existence for over 100 years and I'd imagine it's something like Santa's little workshop. The beers are just so damn good that it has to be run by magical, little elves who dash about the brewery clad in tiny lederhosen, whistling ancient German folk tunes while they work.
But this is serious business. The beer produced here is some of the finest representations of authentic German Weiss (wheat) beers you'll ever come across. These are no ordinary magical elves.
The Special Weise is only brewed once a year in the fall, and as with all their other beers, they only use five ingredients: wheat malt, barley malt, Alps water, yeast and hops. Why that matters, is because there is such a rush of fall spices and flavors, I could have sworn they tossed in coriander, orange peel and cinnamon. Nope, it's all from the play between those five ingredients.
On the nose, wafts of bubble gum and bananas rolled in cinnamon and nutmeg rise to greet you. On the palate, I could have sworn I was tasting a new recipe for orange marmalade and clove bread. It finishes with hints of golden wheat and tangerines.
The moral? Don't mess with magical Bavarian elves. Just take what they give you and slowly walk away. They are mischievous and not to be trusted, but, man, can they make a good hefeweisen.
A friend bought this middle-tier Bordeaux at dinner this weekend, and, while the wine was still muscularly structured and pleasant, the service was a mess.
Wr dined in Connecticut, so thankfully this isn't bad local service we're talking about. Nonetheless, bad service can be universally frustrating.
First, the waiter took 15 minutes to figure out that my friend's first request was sold out. Then there was no suggestion of a similar wine for the price, and by the time this bottle arrived we were already halfway through our main course.
Then the waiter presented the bottle, only to disappear and reemerge with a decanter full of wine. I'm not suggesting he switched the bottles, but in my opinion it's bad form not to open an older bottle in front of the customer.
Enough complaining. The wine was lovely, and life is good.
You may remember that our beer editor, Julia Burke, first introduced you to Blue Point Brewry's Toxic Sludge India Pale Ale two months ago, before its release.
I finally got my hands on some (and saw it at my local Whole Foods at the growler-filling station to boot) and opened it this weekend, with a little help from our cheese editor, Aaron Estes.
The black IPA seem to be a hot style of late, but I've only tasted a couple, including this one now.
I like it — quite a bit — actually but I'm not sure how many I could drink. Imagine the flavors of a dry stout but the body of something more in the porter range, but with the astringent hoppy bitterness of an IPA on the finish.
That's what this one tastes like. Again, really liked it in a 22oz. bomber bottle, but a full jug or six pack in an afternoon? Probably not.
Honestly though, that barely matters. I'm a sucker for these charity-focused brews and wines. I wish more producers made them.