Last updated: Sat, 02/16/2008
Been quiet on here lately but life definitely has not been. So some random thoughts about alcohol that preserve the buy local mentality. My reviews of my favorite vodka, gin, porter and stout -- the only drinks that matter =P
Diamond 100 Vodka from Bend Distillery
I'm not actually a big fan of vodka. I drink it in mixed drinks because every cocktail now-a-days contains vodka, though I did enjoy my experience at a Russian vodka place in NYC. I have tried a variety of higher end vodka to find one that I liked: Grey Goose (yuck), Belvedere (okay), Medoyeff (okay + local), Indio Spirit's lemongrass (okay + local). While I thought several of those were drinkable, they really didn't change my opinion of vodka.
I read about Diamond 100 off of Bend Distillery's website because I liked their Cascade Mountain Gin. I finally got a chance to try it at the Heathman Hotel. I ordered it chilled (not on the rocks) and in a glass. It blew me away. I sipped on it all night. The aroma is light but slightly flowery in a good way. The flavor is not strong, which to my understanding is how unflavored vodka is supposed to be, and the flavor it does have is very interesting in a very good way. It's smooth as can be and has no after taste. My new favorite vodka!
Aviation Gin from House Spirits
This is the hard alcohol that ruined my beer drinking. I always told myself not to get into hard alcohol because it would lead me down the type of road I'm discussing here -- random samplings and tasting to explore the possibilities. But this gin got me into it. Anytime I go out now and have happy hour at a nice restaurant I ask for a dry gin martini with olives using Aviation Gin. No longer do I drink a beer with my meal...
Aviation Gin has absolutely killer taste that mixes the juniper berries with fruit and flowers. The after taste is pleasant and the aroma is light. I can't imagine mixing it in a cocktail because I enjoy the taste so much, but then again people mix cake, ice cream and chocolate all the time. The Heathman has a drink named "The Flying Hemingway" that uses Aviation Gin. Maybe the next time I'm there I'll try it.
Greatest martini ever: Aviation Gin with a dose of absinthe (preferably local). With props to a well made French Martini using Aviation Gin.
Tree Hugger Porter from Laurelwood Brewing Company
Beer is my original sin. I never drank beer to get drunk... a little buzzed yes, but beer is my way to feel a little light headed, spend time with people and enjoy a unique, tasty beverage. So when it comes to beer I like the dark stuff out of a tap.
The Tree Hugger Porter is probably not the best porter around but it has a lot of really good things going for it: local, organic, filling and served at an awesome pub. This porter is one of the heavier drinks I've had. A couple of them with my meal and I'm done for the evening. Its flavor is really rich and dark to match. Laurelwood itself has some great locations. The one in Nob Hill in Northwest Portland is relaxed and has a nice selection of eats. Nothing like heading over there during the summer and snagging an outdoor seat to chat with friends.
Black Lab Stout from Lucky Lab Brewing Company
Lucky Lab is, well, Lucky Lab. The pubs themselves are great but seriously noisy with the combination of large tables filled with groups and several dogs running around being themselves. But for a more fun atmosphere, compared to Laurelwood, Lucky Lab is a great place to grab a beer with a well done selection on hand. Like I said, I'm a dark beer guy, so whenever I'm at Lucky Lab it's the Black Lab Stout for me (or if on SE Hawthorne a brewed root beer).
This stout has a nice combination of sweetness and hoppy-ness. The aroma is mouth watering and the aftertaste slight but pleasant. It's a full beer as well and can be a little on the heavy side at times but since the food at Lucky Lab leaves a little to be desired it's all right with me. My buddies and I were able to down a good chunk of a keg of this beer for a Halloween party, so it isn't overly filling.
Triple Threat IPA from Lucky Lab Brewing Company
We had a keg of this at the cabin trip on the coast. Its smooth with a great not-overbearing hoppy flavor. I'm not a huge IPA fan but this one survived sitting outside with not much to cool it and still tasted great. An awesome beer to nurse without finding the flavor disgusting towards the end. It also made it through three days of drinking from noon to 3 am without losing any drinkability.
Pommeau from Wandering Aengus Ciderworks
Wandering Aengus shows up at the PSU Farmer's Market in Portland once or twice a month bringing their amazing ciders. I've never really got into cider but after one taste of their apple dessert wine I was blown away. It's got a sweetness that just brushes your tongue without feeling like you are headed towards diabetes. Feels like a Brandy and finishes off a meal brilliantly with every smooth sip. At 16% it's a good way to help move towards a relaxing evening as well.
Honorable mention: Shakespeare Stout from Rogue Brewery
I have to mention Shakespeare Stout because it is one of the best beers to get on tap if available. Lucky for us Portlanders there is a Rogue Pub in the Pearl. This is my favorite beer to use to introduce people to dark beers so that they understand beer can have a good taste. It's the perfect amount of sweet, chocolate flavors in a creamy beer. Goes great with a meal and not heavy enough to weigh you down. Tho the prices at Rogue for a pint may be deterring at times.