…Never send to know for whom the drink pours; It pours for thee.
As we sing our Auld Lang Syne, we remember our GREAT year – our year of triumph, our year of defeat, our year of greatness, fault, and grief – and our year of beer. The holidays always make me take stock of my blessings, and (although some may think it small), I count the special libations, artistically crafted by women and men nationwide, among them.
There are many, brewers, wine makers, and distillers, who toil behind the scenes – coming in at all odd hours of the morning or night, and pouring themselves into the magic of a perfectly crafted libations. These unsung heroes bust their butts to bring us beverages – and are worthy of praise. So to everyone involved in the evolution of delicious drinks mentioned below, I wish you nothing but the finest in the coming year.
With that said – let’s look back on what these wizards whipped up in 2019:
Beachwood Blendry x Shacksbury Cider | Imaginary Apples
Wild foraged Vermont apples went straight from trees into the press and then were allowed to naturally ferment using native yeast in early November 2016 as part of Shacksbury Ciders Lost Apple Project. The culture from that was sent to Beachwood after fermentation had been completed and used to to inoculate their wort in September 2017. After 16 months in barrels the beer was packaged January 2019 and left to bottle condition and age for 8 months.
Isastegi Natral Cider Spain
This natural cider, isn’t just delicious. It’s very welcoming, too. Isastegi cider goes through 100% natural fermentation process, where no yeast is added, resulting in a cider which exudes funky flavor. Think fresh juiced fuji apples and Smith apples with barnyard flavors of a saison. Pair this cider with an aged cheddar from Jasper Hill Farm.
His & Her Cocktails at Fish & Game Hudson
A quick stroll around Hudson will bring you to the cozy,chic Fish & Game. This memorable dining experience is filled with surprises that extend to eclectic cocktails that leave a lasting impression. When in upstate New York, Fish & Game is a MUST!
Rough Rider Cider | The Bar Host
Relive childhood nostalgia of apple picking in Julian with just one sip of this autumnal libation from Amin Benny (Whistle Pig OC). Notes of cardamom, spiced apples, and cinnamon hug the palate while welcoming fall.
Check out Benny’s latest cocktail book on Amazon…
Bootlegger Tiki | THAI ME DOWN
Still Strength Cachaça, Allspice, Fernet, Thai Tea, Coconut, Lemon, Cold Brew.
Located in the old digs that originally housed the Don the Beachcomber lies Bootlegger Tiki. This desert gem is a cozy spot with one-of-a-kind tiki cocktails that are sure to transport your tastebuds to a tropical bliss. Every year we venture there to enjoy many tiki libations during late summer – Thai Me Down was a most memorable. Reminiscent of sipping Thai Tea after film class in college, this lucious tiki treat is pure magic and then some.
Rain Unfiltered Pilsner | Pure Project
A crushable crisp and clean Pilsner, built with only the finest ingredients. A single-malt and single-hop brew, using Organic Weyermann Pilsner Malt from Germany, with a modest addition of Hallertau Mittelfruh hops. Bone dry and beautifully bright. Pure drinkability.
An uber refreshing pilners that holds true to style with subtle herbaceous tones that cleanse the palate. Pleasant Pils is now Highland Park’s second best–selling lager behind the flagship Timbo Pils and is destined to become a year-round offering – hopefully.
My Zest Friends | TAPS x UCANR
2019 Orange County beer week beer that featured OC’s historical citrus crops. TAPS teamed up with UCANR and local OC breweries to craft a refreshing IPA with locally grown Moro blood oranges, Nagami kumquats, star ruby grapefruit, oroblanco, Valencia oranges, and Redblush grapefruit.
OC Negative & OC Positive | Artifex Brewing Company x Good Beer Company
Have your mimosa and beer too with this sour milkshake double IPA – one of two unique brews resulting from a collaboration between Artifex and The Good Beer Company. Blood orange lends bright citrus notes – lime, grapefruit, and bright orange – coupled with the sweetness of mango, lychee, and gooseberry. Milk sugar provides for a smooth mouthfeel; somewhere between a mimosa and an orange julius. Regardless of personal tastes, this beer is worth your time to try – and, despite any preconceptions, is guaranteed to surprise.
Flip on over to the other side of the collaboration equation with Artifex’s OC Positive. While this ale’s doppelganger was a melt-in-your-mouth dessert drink, this Hazy Double IPA certainly has the smooth nature of its cousin – but with a more robust flavor profile that provides a backbone more suitable for an entree than a dessert. A dry-hop including zest ensures that this dense, silky, hop bomb full of citrus serves as a liquid monument to the old orange groves which gave Orange County its name.
P-POG Party | Tustin Brewing Company
Drift away to a Hawaiian paradise with Jerrod Larsen’s latest specialty beer offering. This uber-refreshing, fruit-forward IPA highlights lush notes of passionfruit, orange, and guava. After a few sips, you can imagine sitting on a beach with a ukulele playing in the background; the juicy, hoppy, tropical flavor setting you afloat on a sea without worry. Tiki addicts take notice, throw on your hawaiian shirts, skirts, and shorts – and let your taste buds set sail to an island of flavor amidst an ocean of substandard mass-produced beers.
AFK Pilsner | GameCraft Brewing Company
While this pilsner’s base influences are nods to classic German styles, GameCraft has thrown its own spin on the style. This freshman brewery’s first canned pilsner release pours a beautiful straw pale color with a malty sweetness on the front. A bright perception of hop bitterness shows up mid-sip that bring vivid notes of floral spices with citrus and lemon. This pilsner truly refreshes, bringing nuanced complexity together with smooth drinkability. Grab a six pack, and find a pool – this beer is best enjoyed AFK.
Plum Saison | ABV 6% | Unsung Brewing Company
Though the anticipation for Avengers Endgame has finally turned to dust, Unsung Brewing’s Plum Saison has snapped up our attention. This French-style saison, replete with esters, is highly aromatic and effervescent. Coupled with succulent plums, it transforms into a hybrid beer with delicate tartness. Even as that funk surrounds the palate, it leaves an unexpected silky and rich mouthfeel. Grab a crowler at the tasting room and pair this bright saison with a Marvel marathon binge over a long weekend with some friends.
If your palate is geared more towards wine you’ll fall in love with Rośe Veza. This well crafted wild beer was fermented in oak barrels with mixed cultures – then aged upon California grown Malbec and Cab Franc grapes. Rośe Veza has vinous aromas of grapes, notes caramelized stone fruit, and a delightful tart finish.
The story of pilsner starts in 19th century Bohemia when a Bavarian monk smuggled a special yeast to a brewmaster in Pilsen. The story of pFriem Pilsner starts in the Pacific Northwest where it acquires the aroma of fresh grass and flowers and a touch of honey. While there are no monks involved in this pilsner, there is still a crisp and spicy finish.
2018 WEISSER MULATSCHA + CAKE BY @OVENWITCH
Weisser Mulatscha is made from a blend of Welschriesling, Pinot Gris, and Traminer from biodynamically farmed vineyards. The grapes are crushed into stainless steel where they ferment on skins for three days before being pressed off. After some additional time on lees, the wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered with minimal sulphur. This wine is a gorgeous opaque light apricot color, with bright notes of tropical fruits, fresh apricot on nose. If you’re looking into getting into natural wine this wine is a great way to start!