A number of different items have presented themselves for tasting and write-ups, so let's dive right in.
Samuel Adams Oktoberfest Seasonal Brew, Boston Beer Company, in can. Five kinds of malted barley, two kinds of noble hops, and 5.3% ABV. Suggested retail price, bottles and cans, $14.99-$17.99 for a 12-pack.
The traditional beer-making process in Germany, 200 years ago, was to make sure the last beer brewing was done by March at the latest, and put it in cold storage so it would age during the summer and be ready for the fall harvest (Oktoberfest). The first official Oktoberfest is reported to have lasted 16 days.
We have seen it in the bottle, let's take a look at it now from the can and see how it compares: large head, frothy. It's the malt aromas that come through on the palate, with a hint of sweetness. The palate is just off dry, with medium bitterness, balanced acidity, low carbonation and well-integrated alcohol. The body is medium, the texture also medium, and the beer is of medium plus flavor intensity with malt dominating, and flavors of bread, caramel, hints of molasses, and hints of toffee along the long finish. It was reported in the media this week that Jim Koch, the founder of Sam Adams is now officially a billionaire. This is one of the reasons. Enjoy. The recommended pairings are roasted meats and bratwurst, and desserts like crème brûlée.
The Just Beer Project has released a new India Pale Ale worth adding to your shopping list. The Just Beer Project IPA, 4.8% ABV, 12-ounce bottle, Vermont. At present, it's only available in Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island. This is a project by the founder of the Magic Hat Brewing Company, which got off the ground in 1994.
The malts are Weyermann Floor, Honey Malt, and the hops are Chinook, Ahtanum, Citra and Cascade. Large, just off — white head, frothy with gold — amber beer underneath. The nose is loaded with hops, including some citrus hints, pine and herbal notes. The hops continue onto a pallet that is very dry, with medium–plus to high bitterness, good acidity, low tannin, medium carbonation, well-balanced alcohol, on the low end of the spectrum, inviting comparison with session beers. The body is on the light side, of medium texture with strong flavors that reflect the hops including pine and herbal, hints of citrus. The finish is long and intense. Very good. To learn more, go to justbeerproject.com
Wine lovers, I certainly did not forget you. We are paying a visit to the Umbria region in Italy today. If you are a member of a wine century club, a group of people whose goal is to try wine made from 100 different grapes (though not in one sitting), there are two to add to your list: Trebbiano Spoletino and Grechetto. Trebbiano is a very widely planted grape, though it is a specialty of the Umbria region, and it can trace its ancestry back to a clone from the Middle Ages that neared extinction but has been making a comeback. Trebbiano also goes by the name Ugni Blanc. Its classic flavor profile is crisp, sometimes chalky, and it is used in a number of wines including Orvieto, and Vin Santo.Perticaia Trebbiano Spoletino, Umbria IGT, 12.5% abv, (SRP $25). This is a 100 percent varietal, harvested during the last third of October, in this case, in 2012. The grapes are soft pressed under inert gas and fermented in stainless steel containers. It is aged six months. The makers tell us that the wine can easily age for four to five years after release.
This is a white grape, and the wine is clear and bright in the glass, of medium intensity and of a lemon-green hue. The noses clean, of medium intensity with white fruit aromas. It is developing with some vegetal background notes evident. On the palate the wine has just the slightest hint of sweetness, placing it in the off — dry category with good acidity making the sides of the mouth water, and drying tannin (yes, white wines can have tannin, and it can range from waxy to bitter to drying or even course). This meets the chalky tannin profile typical of the grape. The alcohol is well integrated and well balanced. The body is medium with medium — plus flavor intensity including white fruit, some hints of stone fruit, citrus, and some vegetal background. That background gives the wines of real depth, more than is often seen in a midpriced white. Good balance of compliments, long finish that maintains the flavor profile as the fruit develops into the herbal range. Very good. 89 points.
Grechetto, as an Italian knows the name would suggest, is thought to be of Greek origin though it is now planted in the regions northeast of Rome. Its typical flavors include nutty, herbal, floral and spice, and financially provide some tannin and structure to wines.Grechante Grechetto dei Colli Martani DOC, SRP $19, 13.5% ABV. Also a white grape, from the area around Montefalco, Italy. The first vintage was produced in 1989 and it is 100 percent single varietal. The grapes were harvested during the last 10 days of August and the first 10 days of September, handpicked and gently pressed, fermented at low temperatures in stainless steel tanks to preserve the fruit flavors. In the glass, it is clear and bright, of medium intensity, this grape leaning much closer to the gold spectrum of white wines. Good legs and a clean nose of light intensity. White fruit abounds. The pallet is often dry with high acidity, very noticeable and refreshing, medium alcohol that is fairly well integrated, medium body and medium, plus intensity flavors of citrus, lemon peel, hints of apricot, and also some vegetal background notes that emerge shortly after the beginning and remain through the end. Good quality, and ready to drink. 84 points.
Contact local beer and wine writer Jim Beauregard at email@example.com.