Hana Flavored Sake (USA)

Hana Flavored Sake – Takara Brewing (Berkeley, California, USA)

1) Fuji Apple8% ABV -750ml

  • Style: Flavored Sake
  • My Rating: C
  • Taste Profile: Apple juice -> pear/rice alcohol -> roughish ricey finish
  • Where I got it: Sherbrooke Liquor (Edm, AB)
  • How much: $14.50 (after 10%), Summer 2010
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to friends: no

Tasting notes: pours clear light yellow. Red apple and apple skin on the nose. Drinks with strong apple juice aroma up front, some woodiness, 5/10-sweetness, pear, medium sour backdrop, rice-alcohol off-dry, roughish ricey finish. Low-medium complexity, low-medium depth, decent transitions, okay carry, decent drinkability.

2) Lychee8% ABV -750ml

  • Style: Flavored Sake
  • My Rating: B
  • Taste Profile: Lychee/apple juice -> tangy/rice wine -> semi-sweet/clean finish.
  • Where I got it: Sherbrooke Liquor (Edm, AB)
  • How much: $14.50 (after 10%), Summer 2010
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to friends: yes

Tasting notes: pours clear ultra-light white wine yellow. Very aromatic though somewhat artificial lychee. Drinks with the same aromatic lychee, 5/10-sweetness, filtered apple juice, light-medium tanginess, transitioning nicely into smooth rice wine, finishing semi-sweet, clean, and partially thin. Low-medium complexity, low-medium depth, good transitions, okay carry, very nice drinkability.

3) Plum8% ABV -750ml

  • Style: Flavored Sake
  • My Rating: C+
  • Taste Profile: Fruity red apple/plum (ume) -> alcohol/warmth -> ricey finish.
  • Where I got it: Sherbrooke Liquor (Edm, AB)
  • How much: $14.50 (after 10%), Summer 2010
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to friends: yes

Tasting notes: pours clear very light yellow. Fruity apple and Japanese plum on the nose. Bright fruity red apple and plum juiciness up front, mild 5/10-sweetness, transitioning into alcohol detection and light warmth, with a slight ricey finish. Low-medium complexity, low-medium depth, good transitions, okay carry, decent drinkability.

4) Raspberry8% ABV -750ml

  • Style: Flavored Sake
  • My Rating: C
  • Taste Profile:
  • Where I got it: Sherbrooke Liquor (Edm, AB)
  • How much: $14.50 (after 10%), Summer 2010
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to friends: no

Tasting notes: pours clear very light yellow (as usual) with a bit of floaties. Raspberry candy on the nose with a bit of sweet sake. Drinks with 4/10-sweetness, light-watery body, a mix of light raspberry and apple flavours, light alcohol, finishing mildy sour clean. Everything is light and kinda watery, nothing awesome.

Fruli Strawberry Beer – Van Diest (Brouwerij Huyghe) (Belgium)

Früli Strawberry Beer – Van Diest (Brouwerij Huyghe), 4.1% ABV – 250ml,(Melle, Belgium)

on the back label:

“High quality Belgian white beer brewed with pure fruit juice. Ingredients: water, barley malt, wheat, 30% pure strawberry juice, hops, yeast, coriander and orange peel.”

  • Style: Fruit Beer
  • My Rating: B+
  • Taste Profile: Strawberry juice -> light wheat/coriander -> jammy sweet finish/light burpy.
  • Where I got it: BC Liquor Stores
  • How much: $2.50, Summer 2011
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: yes
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yes, non-drinkers as well

Tasting notes: pours opaque reddish orange with almost no head and minimal ringed retention, micro CO2. Strong strawberry juice aroma on the nose. Drinks like 7/10-sweet filtered strawberry juice up front, transitions into light wheat and coriander, finishing jammy sweet and just a hint of cloying. Low-medium complexity, medium depth, great transitions, okay carry, excellent drinkability. Super light, refreshing, almost like drinking carbonated juice. Not complex but enjoyable nonetheless.

Granite Creek Riesling 2009 (Canada)

Riesling 2009 – Granite Creek Estate Winery, 13.5% ABV -750ml (Tappen, BC, Canada)

on the back label:

“Riesling is a grape variety originating in the Rhine region of Germany making it a good choice for cool climate growing. Our Riesling is very aromatic and displays flowery, almost perfumed scents as well as high acidity. Lively and crisp with a touch of anise and notes of lychee and pineapple. Enjoy on its own, with light salads, vegetable terrine and Asian foods.”

  • Style: Riesling
  • My Rating: D-
  • Taste Profile: Aggressive acidity/sourness -> anise/lime -> rough tart/sour/tang finish.
  • Where I got it: Legacy Liquor Store
  • How much: $19 (after 10%), May 2012
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to wine aficionados: no

Tasting notes: pours clear light yellow with a few bubbles. Pear and lime on the nose. Initial sip is met with very aggressive acidity and sourness, which holds the palate hostage, transitioning into distinct anise, tart lime, and a rough sour/tart/tangy finish. Medium complexity, medium depth, terrible transitions, okay carry, awful drinkability. The only saving grace is the interesting anise flavour, but otherwise this wine is garbage.

Optima 2010 – The View Winery (Canada)

Optima 2010 (botrytis affected) – The View Winery, 11.2% ABV -375ml, (Kelowna, BC, Canada)

on the back label:

“Hand selected at harvest, the Optima varietal shines brightest when affected with botrytis, also known as “Noble Rot”. A succulent dessert wine which shows warm notes of sun-kissed figs, raisins and ripe apricots on the nose and on the palate.”

  • Style: (Botrytis) Dessert Wine
  • My Rating: B-
  • Taste Profile: sweet red apple/green apple -> apricot/raisin/fig -> clean finish
  • Where I got it: BC Liquor Stores
  • How much: $18 (clearance sale), Sept 2012
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to friends: yes

Tasting notes: pours clear medium-dark golden yellow. Red apple juice on the nose. Drinks with thicker than water but thinner than ice wine viscosity, 8/10-sweetness, pungent red apple, green apple tartness , apricot, light-medium tang/sourness, white raisins, hints of fig, finishing clean without much cloying. Medium complexity, medium depth, good transitions, good carry, quite good drinkability. Quite refreshing and never heavy.

Robson Street Hefeweizen – Granville Island Brewing (Vancouver, BC, Canada)

Robson Street Hefeweizen – Granville Island Brewing, 5% ABV – 341ml, (Vancouver, BC, Canada)

on the back label:

“This unfiltered wheat ale is a West Coast favourite. Enjoy ROBSON ST. HEFEWEIZEN chilled in a tall, slim glass and although our brewmaster may scoff, a lemon wedge is the perfect accessory to the natural fruit flavours of this refreshing beer.”

  • Style: Hefeweizen
  • My Rating: C+
  • Taste Profile: fizziness -> bready malts/banana/apricot/clove -> watery finish
  • Where I got it: BC Liquor Stores
  • How much: $12/6pack, Sept 2012
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to friends: maybe for light beer drinkers

Tasting notes: pours cloudy orange with minimal head, very thin ringed retention, micro CO2, some slow CO2 streams. A bit of banana/apricot on the nose. Drinks thin up front, fizzy CO2, transitions into bready malts, bananas, apricot, 6/10-sweetness, hints of citrus, cloves, ending crisp and on the thin-water side. Medium complexity, medium depth, so-so carry, decent drinkability. Overall flavour is acceptable but nothing inspiring.

Cardigan (Autumn Spiced Lager) – Rickard’s (Canada)

Cardigan (Autumn Spiced Lager) – Rickard’s, 5,5% ABV – 341ml, (Canada)

from the press release:

“An autumn spiced lager infused with seasonal spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and a hint of brown sugar, Rickard’s Cardigan features fall flavours that are as familiar as putting on your go-to knit.”

  • Style: (Autumn Seasonal) Spiced Beer
  • My Rating: C-
  • Taste Profile: Yeasty malts -> nutmeg/cinnamon/clove -> thin malty finish
  • Where I got it: BC Liquor Stores
  • How much: $12/6pack, Sept 2012
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: no way

Tasting notes: pours clear golden orange with minimal head, thin ringed retention, small CO2, some visible slow-moving CO2 streams. Minor malts and cinnamon on the nose. Aggressive yeasty/breadiness w/ light-medium malts up front, 5/10-medium sweetness, strong nutmeg, cinnamon, minor cloves and a touch of brown sugar, finishes thin-watery and malty. Medium complexity, low-med depth, good transitions, weak carry, decent drinkability. Not spectacular or worthy of drinking all 6 in the pack.

Sauternes – Chateau d’Armajan des Ormes (France)

Chateau d’Armajan des Ormes Sauternes 2005, 14% ABV -375ml, (France)

  • Style: (Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc Blend) Dessert wine
  • My Rating: B
  • Taste Profile: green apple tart/sour/tang -> honey/lemon marmalade -> alcoholic/warm/white grape.
  • Where I got it: BC Liquor Stores
  • How much: $30, July 2012
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to friends: no

Tasting notes: pours clear light golden yellow. Drinks with slightly thicker than water viscosity but not as syrupy as an ice wine. Starts off with a gentle tart green apple, followed by intense deep rich honey, 9/10-sweetness, medium sour/tang/acidity, hints of lemon marmalade, finishing deep alcoholic and medium warmth, almost salty, white grape on the exhale. Medium complexity, medium depth, good transitions, good carry, good drinkability. Initially not that inviting, but 2nd and 3rd servings are decent.