Moscato – Barefoot Cellars (Modesto, CA, USA)

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  • My Rating: B-

Moscato (NV) – Barefoot Cellars, 8.5% ABV – 750ml., (Modesto, CA, USA)

  • owned by E&J Gallo Winery since 2005, the largest winery in the world (gallo.com[I take it to mean they produce the highest volume compared to any company]
  • 2011 Class Champion in the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo Wine Competition USA

On the back label:

“Barefoot Moscato is a sweet wine with hints of delicious mouth-watering juicy peach and apricot flavours. Notes of lemon and orange citrus compliment a crisp refreshing finish. Barefoot Moscato is perfect with spicy Asian cuisine, light desserts, fresh fruits, and mild cheeses.”

  • Style: (Moscato) White Wine
  • Taste: Bright peach-apricot apple fruity medium sweet wine
  • Where I got it : BC Liquor Stores
  • How much: $10 – 750ml., sometime in 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to wine aficionados: not quite; but good for non-drinkers

Visual: Nicely packaged with a simple yet effective label + synthetic cork. Pours clear light golden yellow with some tiny bubbles in the initial pour.

Nose: faint apple and surprisingly, minor alcohol detection (unimpressive) (lvl-2)-pungency

Attack: incoming sweet apple fruitiness

Mid-palate: (lvl-6)-fruity sweetness, alcohol bitterness, medium tangy, (MAIN) peach/apricot, pear/apple

Finish: residual fruity sugars (not cloying), light tart, fruity crisp yet short/succinct finish.

Summary: It has an extremely approachable and lively fruit orchard fruit character. Although it doesn’t have much length, carry or complexity, it’s drinkability and inexpensive price tag mean that I would recommend you to try it at least once.

Rain Organics Vodka (Frankfort, KY, USA)

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  • My Rating: A

Rain Organics Vodka, 40% ABV – 750ml., (Frankfort, KY, USA)

  • produced in Kentucky, also where most of world’s Bourbon is made (which is made from at least 51% corn)

on the back label:

“Rain is handmade from organic white corn and is distilled 7 times for exceptional taste and smoothness. Rain is all natural…Rain Renews.”

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  • Style: (corn) Vodka
  • Taste: creamy buttery popcorn with minerality
  • Where I got it : BC Liquor Stores (no longer available, 3/2014)
  • How much: $50 – 750ml., sometime in 2011 (?)
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: yes
  • Would I recommend this to mixologists: yes

Visual: Bottled in a unique-looking and partially frosted glass, which is pleasing to pour as well as to put on your liquor shelf. Topped with a plastic + synthetic cork stopper. Pours crystal clear with tiny droplets clinging to the side of the glass when swirled.

Nose: buttery (almost like popcorn), light-med nasal tingliness, light-med SOFT nasal burn. (Rating: A)

Sensations: silky texture -> (lvl-3) sweetness -> soft/rounded med-high throat warmth -> dry spicy finish

Flavours: simple syrup, buttered popcorn, minerality, plasticky

Summary: This vodka has an extremely unique buttery taste compared to grain/potato vodkas. Supremely smooth with just enough warmth and sweetness, this would be an excellent mixer and sipper.

Baileys Mint Chocolate Irish Cream (Dublin, Ireland)

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  • My Rating: D+

Baileys Mint Chocolate Irish Cream, 17% ABV – 750ml., (Dublin, Ireland)

on the back label:

“Baileys with a hint of mint chocolate is crafted with care from fresh Irish cream, the finest spirits and Irish whiskey”

Ingredients: cream, sugar, alcohol, maltodextrin, modified milk ingredients, natural and artificial flavours, Irish whiskey, colour, glycerol monostearate, sodium citrate.

  • Style: (mint chocolate) Flavoured Irish Cream
  • Taste: creamy sweet milked Irish whiskey with mild chocolate subtle mint
  • Where I got it : BC Liquor Stores (no longer available, 3/2014)
  • How much: $29 – 750ml., sometime in 2010 (?)
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to mixologists: nah, it’s nothing special

Visual: (Note, this is already way, way beyond it’s best before date of 11/2011, but what the hell, in the name of Science! Actually in the name of never buying another cream liqueur ever again.Pours milky light brown, thicker than milk viscosity.

Nose: a pleasant sweet milky cream with a faint dose of whiskey (lvl-5)-pungency

Attack: thick and creamy viscosity

Mid-palate: quickly detected med-high alcoholic heat -> (lvl-8)-sweetness + alcohol bitterness, (MAIN) Irish whiskey, creamy milk, but slightly chunky, chocolate

Finish: mild minty finish with alcoholic detection and aggressive warmth.

Summary: As a sipper, I find the Irish whiskey part to be overbearing with its excessive heat, especially up front-to-mid. The ‘mint chocolate’ aspect is doesn’t quite shine through, but it is a decent twist if you are already sick of regular Baileys. I can’t say I would buy this again as it took me 3 years to finally finish this. Please note that YOU SHOULD THROW OUT OLD CREAM LIQUEURS as they have cream in them, and they SHOULD BE REFRIGERATED AFTER OPENING. (I sure hope I don’t get sick..)

In a cocktail: 50/50 coffee + baileys + whipped cream. The heat of the Irish whiskey again is prominent and doesn’t quite equal a smooth drink.

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Passion Fruit Wine Spritz – Pomula (Wellington, South Africa)

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  • My Rating: C-

Pomula Passion Fruit Wine Spritz, 5.5% ABV – 750ml., (Wellington, South Africa)

on the back label:

“POMULA Wine Spritz is a  blend of crisp white wine, fruit juice and yellow passion fruit flavours. This intriguing combination results in a delightfully aromatic wine with juicy citrus and tropical fruit flavours, that is perfect for any occasion”

Ingredients: wine, fruit juice, water, grape concentrate, flavours, carbon dioxide.

  • Style: (passion fruit) Flavoured White Wine
  • Taste:
  • Where I got it : Liquor Depot @ Cambie
  • How much: $10 – 750ml., January 2012
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to wine aficionados: no, it’s more for casual drinkers

Visual: The back label is almost illegible with its white font on a bright green label. Screw-top cap. Pours light golden yellow with spread out bubbles clinging to the side of the glass.

Nose: A clean tropical fruit Riesling nose, with extra bright passion fruit (lvl-6)-pungency

Attack: incoming dense fruitiness with some sugar

Mid-palate: (lvl-4)-fruity sweetness, (MAIN) white grape, club soda, *hint* passion fruit (quickly dissipates), apple

Finish: watery-thin mouthfeel, off-dry club soda palate tingly finish.

Summary: This drinks like a cheap white wine + club soda mixed spritz with some flavouring, which it is at $10. It’s extremely drinkable at 5.5% ABV but you don’t get much in terms of depth or complexity.

Flora Rustica – Upright Brewing (Portland, OR, USA)

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  • My Rating: A-

Flora Rustica – Upright Brewing, 5.1% ABV – 1 pt. 9.4 fl.oz., (Portland, OR, USA)

from ratebeer.com:

“Flora Rustica is a Northwest-style saison that use yarrow (left) and calendula flowers (right) along with a handful of our favorite Oregon grown hops to produce a strongly aromatic beer. It’s very sparking and dry and makes an excellent aperitif as well as an interesting companion for certain foods like herbaceous and bitter salads or strong and fatty fish like mackerel.”

  • Style: (yarrow, calendula flavoured) Saison
  • Taste: Lager-like barley malt sweet citrus-chamomile
  • Where I got it : Brewery Creek
  • How much: $11 (after 10% off) – 1 pt. 9.4 fl.oz., September 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yes

Visual: (I saw the two unique ingredients and immediately put it in my shopping basket.) Pours almost clear golden marmalade yellow with a MASSIVE long-lasting head, huge creamy retention, sporadic thick sticky lacing, tons and tons of activity.

Nose: Chamomile-floral light honeyed malts (lvl-3)-pungency

Attack: fizzy-tingly mouthfeel, crisp bite

Mid-palate: (lvl-6)-sweetness, (MAIN) lager-barley malt, citrus chamomile, pepper, grassy-straw

Finish: burpy, subtle bitter hops, semi-sweet finish.

Summary: This drinks like a full-bodied lager that has been kicked up several notches. It has an evolved crisp-sweet barley malt profile with subtle floral nuances. Fantastic.

Amarillo – Brouwerij De Molen (Bodegraven, Netherlands)

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  • My Rating: A

Amarillo – Brouwerij De Molen, 9.2% ABV – 33cl., (Bodegraven, Netherlands)

Ingredients: water, pale and caramel barley malts, sladek and saaz hops, dryhopped with amarillo hop, yeast (top fermenting).

  • Style: Imperial IPA
  • Taste: Creamy sweet caramel-toffee malts, with stonefruit/grapefruit bittersweet hops
  • Where I got it : Brewery Creek
  • How much: $5 (after 10% off) – 33cl., July 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: yes
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yes

Visual: Plain label. Basically, you only know of their awesomeness after you’ve tried one of their beers. Pours translucent caramel brown with a small dissipating creamy head, sticky lacing, decent layer of retention, lots of micro bubbly streams.

Nose: Sweet caramel vanilla malts with just a touch of ocean water fishiness (perhaps my imagination..) (lvl-6)-pungency

Attack: creamy-silky yet thick viscosity

Mid-palate: creamy texture, (lvl-8)-fruity sweetness, (MAIN) sweet caramel malts, bright fruity stonefruit/sweet grapefruit hybrid *hint* coriander

Finish: grassy-lemon, fruity malted, soft bitter hopped sweet finish.

Summary: This is a sweet beer, but it has such a creamy texture with a strong malt backbone a soft hopped finish that it balances out blissfully. A top notch De Molen beer.

Tillicum Hopped Cider – Sea Cider (Victoria, BC, Canada)

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  • My Rating: B-

Tillicum Hopped Cider – Sea Cider , 9.0% ABV – 750ml., (Victoria, BC, Canada)

on the back label:

“Greetings friend! ‘Tillicum’ is a friend informal greeting used among some First Nations in the Pacific Northwest. We think it’s the perfect name for our hopped cider, which is best enjoyed informally with friends. A cider infused with a special blend of hops, including fresh hops from our farm, Tillicum provides big, hop-forward aroma and bright citrus flavours to match. To our friends, we raise a glass of Tillicum!”

  • Style: (hopped) Apple Cider
  • Taste: Woody apple-lemon sour hopped cider
  • Where I got it : Brewery Creek
  • How much: $17 (after 10% off) – 750ml., October 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to cider aficionados: yes

Visual: Bottled in a clear bail top bottle. Pours clear golden yellow with initial fizz, no head, a only a few singular active streams.

Nose: woody tangy apple, underlying lemon citrus tang (Smells inviting) (lvl-7)-pungency

Attack: tingly-fizzy mouthfeel, incoming sourness

Mid-palate: medium sour-tang, gentle (lvl-4) fruity sweetness, (MAIN) lemon, woody apple, citrus hops

Finish: almost vanilla, semi-sweet fruity hopped apple finish.

Summary: Although not visually pleasing, the flavour profile of fruity apple to a lemon-citrusy hopped finish is quite pleasant.Way better than the local Hoptimized Apple Cider (D) I had a couple of days ago.

Lone Wolf IPA – Fernie Brewing (Fernie, BC, Canada)

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  • My Rating: B-

Lone Wolf IPA – Fernie Brewing, 6.5% ABV – 650ml., (Fernie, BC, Canada)

from ratebeer.com:

“After many a request, plea, rally and occasional riot, Fernie Brewing has succumbed to the needs of the people. May we present to you our Lone Wolf IPA. A new 650ml product, this IPA has four select malts in combination with four classic hop varieties & time honored traditional brewing methods including dry hopping, resulting in a golden ale with exceptional flavour & complexity. A true IPA in every sense.”

  • Style: India Pale Ale
  • Taste: Softly bitter grapefruit hopped, brown sugar malts
  • Where I got it : BC Liquor Stores
  • How much: $5.50 – 650ml., March 2014
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: 50/50

Visual: Pours clear maple syrup orange/brown with minimal creamy head, thin layer of retention, some lacing, countless active streams.

Nose: sweet malts with a bit of honey and brown sugar (lvl-5)-pungency

Attack: sharp-crisp hoppy bittersweetness

Mid-palate: cream-fizzy mouthfeel, (lvl-7)-malty sweetness, (MAIN) malts, brown sugar, honey, mild grapefruit

Finish: subtle bitter-hopped attack, lingering brown sugar malted hopped finish.

Summary: A rather softly hopped IPA and more on the sweet side. Drinkable and enjoyable, although it lacks some character.

Hoptimized Apple Cider – Merridale Ciderworks (Cobble Hill, BC, Canada)

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  • My Rating: D

Hoptimized Apple Cider – Merridale Ciderworks , 7.0% ABV – 650ml., (Cobble Hill, BC, Canada)

on the front side label:

“Hoptimized – Look closer, it’s a cider, not a beer! A real, all-natural craft cider that has  been HOPTIMIZED – made with COWICHAN VALLEY APPLES and finished with aromatic ISLAND-GROWN HOPS. A GLUTEN-FREE REFRESHING BEER ALTERNATIVE. We think Hoptimized is the perfect bridge between cider and beer, one that fans of either drink can enjoy anytime!”

  • Style: (hopped) Apple Cider
  • Taste: Dry-tart woody apple cider vinegar
  • Where I got it : Brewery Creek
  • How much: $11 (after 10% off) – 650ml., October 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to cider aficionados: no

Visual: Hopped apple cider; say what?! Sounds interesting, and certainly my first. Pours light golden apple juice yellow with zero head and with just a barely visible layer of micro bubbly ringed retention, several slow streams in the center.

Nose: Sweet-tart-tangy-fruit woody apple juice with some funk. (Smells good) (lvl-8)-pungency

Attack: dry tartness incoming acidity

Mid-palate: palate roughness (lvl-0)-sweetness, absolutely dry, vinegar acidic tanginess, (MAIN) woody red apples, yeastiness

Finish: residual acidic sourness, almost salty-hopped fruity apple finish.

Summary: For some odd reason the hoppiness I get from this cider is mixed with saltiness, particularly at the finish. Mixed with it’s bone dry profile, I cannot say I like this. Drinkable, but barely. Stick with Henry Westons Medium Dry Cider (B) if you like your ciders dry.

Aotearoa Pale Ale – Tuatara Brewery (Reikorangi, NZ)

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  • My Rating: B

Aotearoa Pale Ale (APA) – Tuatara Brewery , 5.8% ABV – 500ml., (Reikorangi, NZ)

on the back label:

“There’s a pile of clichés we won’t deploy here attesting to the fact that you can never take anything in this world for granted. Sure enough, just as Tuatara’s beloved American Pale Ale looked like getting bigger than Texas, our supply of the mighty American hops that defined it started to go wobbly on us. Undeterred, we set to crafting a local solution. Aotearoa Pale Ale takes the spirit of the old APA and reanimates it with a hopping regime that’s as kiwi as a 25 year mortgage. The same-but-different local recipe (Pacific Jade, Cascade, Sauvin and Wai-iti for all you trainspotters) is well within the remit of the original APA, but with a deep, long, new age flavour profile.”

  • Style: (American-style) Pale Ale
  • Taste: Hoppy-bitter + citrus sweet pale ale
  • Where I got it : Legacy Liquor Store
  • How much: $8 (after 10% off) – 500ml., December 2012
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yes

Visual: Pours clear golden orange with a decent lasting small foamy head, sticky lacing, lots of activity.

Nose: sweet citrus hops, mild malts (lvl-5)-pungency

Attack: bitter citrus hops

Mid-palate: (lvl-5)-citrus/bitter sweetness, (MAIN) orange, sweet grapefruit bittersweet hops, yeasty malts

Finish: lingering grassy bitter hops, off-dry citrusy bitter sweetness.

Summary: A pale ale with a pronounced yet gently balanced hoppy-citrus bittersweet profile. Extremely drinkable, even as it warms. Recommended.