These are the drinks that wowed me this year. Most of them I loved – a few of them I pick mostly because of what I was doing while drinking them – but overall they are a great list of drinks made by hard-working artisans:
1. Hop Crisis – 21st Amendment, San Francisco, CA
This beautiful double IPA ( aka Double Trouble) fought its way on to the drink list for our wedding. I thought it was going to be a bit too much for the crowd, but in the end everyone loved it. Loads of hops, backed up with a ton of malt and booze. Friends from back east kept saying, this is amazing – I can’t believe this is beer.
2. Hungarian Tokaji Aszu- Chateau Pajzos 5 Puttonyos 1993- (bought at K&L Wines in San Francisco, CA)
A sentimental pick. My dad talked for many years about the great Hungarian wines of the Tokaji region. He had tried to save a bottle from the 70′s to open many years later and sadly, it got ruined. I bought a bottle from the 90′s and opened it at a celebratory family dinner during the wedding week – when our families got to sit down and eat together for the first time. Liquid honey with loads of fruit in the nose, it tasted like I imagined it would. Dad would have approved.
2010 is the year Jasmine and I started homebrewing. We were slow to it, but with help from Jasmine’s brother Luke and our trusty label department (Victor and Rachel) we are posed to make a whole bunch of great homebrew in the next year. I really want to switch to all grain soon and to try a lager. Maybe even a sour.
4. Jolly Roger Winter Warmer – Maritime Brewing Company, Seattle, WA
Earlier in the year we got to go to Seattle for the first time. It was a blast. The last day I was there, I drank my way through the Fremont district. My favorite place was by far the Maritime Pacific Brewing Company Jolly Roger Tap Room. The beer was damn fine – the Jolly Roger winter warmer paired great with peppered tempura bacon.
5. Founder’s Backwoods Bastard (Grand Rapids, MI) – Scotch Ale aged in bourbon barrels – Publican, Chicago, IL
Around 2 months ago I was luckily sent to Chicago for work. What a beer town! The last day I was there, I had brunch at the Publican. When I think of beer/food paradise lately this place comes to mind. The beer was on draft and it was a surprise hit for me. I just picked it because I know Founders does well at GABF. What a beer. So complex – lots of dried fruit flavors. A bit of booze – but very little – overall a soft amazing beer with a bit of sourness. Definitly age worthy.
6. Medlock Ames Pinot Noir 08
Beer At Joe’s should be ashamed. We have kept from our readers one of our favorite beverage related finds in Northern California. I think we did it on purpose or well just kept forgetting to write something about Medlock Ames wines so that it could be our little secret. Well, the secret is already somewhat out. They put out amazing wines – and are really a great bunch of people. This pinot is a stellar wine. A tough year for them but they worked at it as they always do and produced a pinot with all that soft velvety texture, berry flavors, and aromas that I love. It ends with some acidity and a bit of smoke. Go and find some of their wine. Medlock Ames even has a tasting room and bar in back – which I still have to get to.
7. Espresso and Sambuca
Jasmine’s co-worker and friend Simon introduced us to this combo at the end of a delicious home cooked meal he made for us. A fine way to end a meal. And in a rather Italian way, a shock to the system.
8. Balvenie 12 yr doublewood
I am just starting to get interested in drinking scotch. For whatever reason it has always been a drink I had just once in awhile. But this stuff could convert me. Soft with a touch of smoke – and lots of whiskey like flavors – caramel, toffee, some apple even. I just need to pony up some money to try their older offerings.
9. Moonlight – Bony Fingers
One of our favorite events during the last SF beer week – was a run down of Moonlight beers with Brian Hunt. He is a great beer personality and person. Drinking the beers he worked so hard on with him was a night I will not forget. And Bony Fingers is one of my favorites. So what if I can’t get it most of the year – when I see it on a beer list – I order it.
10. Firestone Walker Velvet Merkin
Ah the illustrious Velvet Merkin. We just adore this beer. It really is a bit of a dessert beer. Cheers to Firestone Walker for becoming one of the best breweries in the country. If you haven’t visted them in Paso Robles yet – you have to.
A few more that didn’t make the list but were still pretty memorable.
N.V. Diebolt-Vallois Champagne Blanc de Blanc Brut à Cramant – very expensive at Manresa but still an amazing Champagne.
Bas Armagnac Marie Duffau 30 yr – where have you been all my life – thanks to Zach and Adam for sharing this one.
06 Botrytis Semillon, “Noble One”, De Bortoli, New South Wales, Australia
Blue bottle martini at Nopa (the bloody marry is amazing too)
Sean Thackery XIX Pleiades – had a taste of this red blend last night – must get a bottle soon.
Happy New Year to all our readers!