This is what our editors and contributors have been drinking…

Hellsmoke Lenn Thompson: Blind Bat Brewery Hellsmoke Porter

Super Bowl Sunday is always big in our house, but when the Steelers are playing, it's becomes nothing short of a sacred holiday. After waking up and pacing most of the morning, I decided to keep myself busy by staying in the kitchen preparing some Pittsburgh favorites both new and old — Roethlisburgers and from-scratch pierogies.

Of course the game didn't work out the way the Thompson household would have preferred, but at least the food was good.

During the game, I always drink Pennsylvania-brewed beers, but I sipped on this Long Island nano-brewed porter in the early afternoon as I rolled out pierogie dough and mixed ground beef and hot Italian sausage for the burgers.

And it was a damn fine first beer of the day before getting into some hop-bombs later.

Brewed 93 gallons at a time — yes, this is a true nano-brew — this is a well balanced, moderate-alcohol porter made with malted barley that brewer-owner Paul Dlugokencky smokes over alder and applewood, which brings distinct, but not overwhelming, campfire and sweet smoke notes layered with dark chocolate and French roast coffee.

Medium bodied with moderate carbonation, it's also mostly dry — my preferred style of porter.


Evanwins Evan Dawson: Mixing NY with wines from around the world

My wife and I hosted a small dinner party this past weekend, and we followed a plan that has come to work well with guests: We open a selection of quality New York wines along with some wines from other regions. It's a good way to spark conversation about New York winemaking without forcing the issue.

Here was the lineup: Lamoreaux Landing 2008 Dry Riesling (ideal with marinated shrimp and a few lighter cheeses); Fox Run 2001 Dry Riesling (starting to oxidize, it was rich and nutty and perfectly paired with sauteed mushrooms on toast points); a surprisingly rich and toasty Puligny-Montrachet; Lenz 2002 Merlot (in peak form and lovely with slow-cooked brisket); and Caprili 1997 Brunello di Montalcino (an unabashed old-world-style Brunello that is aging gracefully).


Each wine had its own personality, and the conversation flowed freely as we moved from bottle to bottle. It was rare to see so many wines show so well. The Lamoreaux and Lenz were wines of the night for me, with the Brunello also wonderful and the white Burgundly not quite as lithe as I had anticipated (only a minor quibble). The Fox Run Riesling is a mature dame, still capable of performing the waltz with a mellifluous tune to guide her. That's where the chopped and sauteed mushrooms came in.

We look forward to many more evenings like this.


Sorrel David Flaherty: M. Sorrel 2007 Crozes-Hermitage

High up in the northern Rhone valley, far from the sunny climes and beaches of Provence, lies Crozes Hermitage. You will not find Leonardo DiCaprio sunning himself here. But you will find syrah. And lots of it.

Syrah is king in the northern Rhone where its vines are often staked to the earth to withstand the vicious whipping of the Mistral winds. It is here that M. Sorrel makes his wines.

Giving off classic aromas of white pepper on the nose, I also found a transfixing complexity of secondary notes like bitter chocolate, coffee grounds and violets.

On the palate, flavors of blueberries and dark fruit opened up from the earthier spice tones. A wash of cleansing acidity was followed by a subtle bite of tannin. Perhaps I've underestimated fair Leo. Maybe instead of gallivanting through the streets of Nice, he is at this very moment, climbing the rustic hillsides of Crozes Hermitage with a glass of syrah in hand.


Shiner Julia Burke: Spoetzl Brewery Shiner Bock

As always the Super Bowl was an all-beer event for me, and amidst the hoppier brews I enjoyed over the evening came this refreshingly light bock from Texas.
My coworker's wife had been singing its praises, and since she'd brought some from a recent trip to Ohio (it's not available in New York) I had to try it while whipping up some guacamole. 

Appropriately malty and sweet for the bock style, but with a crisp, light palate, this was a delightful pre-game beer. From its lovely dark amber color to its snappy finish, it was exactly what I want in a session beer and a dynamite match for the spicy chips and guac I was snacking on.

Shiner, Texas, "Cleanest Little City in Texas," population 2000, you've produced a fine beer which I intend to buy by the case next time I'm in the midwest. I salute you.

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