Beer, Wine & Spirits Winter Picks
by Chase Brunson,
Beer, Wine, and Cheese Specialist
It’s cold outside, hopefully raining, and I have the fireplace going or I am streaming the Fireplace Show on Netflix to create that same ambiance. I have a glass in my hand and a drink poured. It is more than likely one of my favorites from the list below, which can all be found at the Co-op.
Winter Beer/Cider Selections
Old Rasputin by North Coast Brewing
This has to be my go to Imperial stout this time of year. This large and in charge stout, that comes in at 9% ABV, has the perfect balance of toasted malts, residual sugar and alcohol that is begging to be drunk on almost any given winter night. The 4-pack is also an incredible value because normally you are paying much more for something of equal value. If you are feeling extra special and looking to treat yourself or someone else, they also produce a Barrel Aged version of the same stout in a 500 ml. bottle that is incredibly luscious and delicious.
Lassen Ciders (any of them)
Normally I am not a huge cider fan because they tend to be too sweet for me but Lassen takes the cake for local cider. They use dry-farmed apples and pick them at the peak of ripeness. What I also enjoy is they list on their bottles the rare and unheard-of varieties they use. Lassen fully ferments their ciders which allows their ciders to be dry but still have a fuller body because of their higher ABV and concentration of flavor compared to other dry ciders on the market. They naturally ferment their ciders giving them nuance and what wine people talk about “Terroir”. This word doesn’t translate directly into English but basically means the product is a reflection of where it comes from/where it is grown. This type of cider is nice during the cooler months and it goes great with the heartier foods we typically eat this time of year!
East Brothers Red IPA
This beer is definitely the perfect type of IPA for the cooler months! The Red component to it is the toast level of the malts. The malt body is sweet with strong notes of caramel and lightly roasted coffee. The hops are gently balanced with the malt providing brightness and bitterness that isn’t overpowering. The hops are more on the stone fruit side and aren’t too danky. If you are someone who just enjoys IPA year-round, I would say this is a beer worth giving a shot for the cooler winter months.
Red: GSM (Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre based blends)
These blends aren’t the most commonly found blends on the market but are great wines for people who love red blends or are looking for something a little different. GSMs are mostly, and originally, from a region in Southern France called the Rhone Valley. They are typically Grenache-based blends with the other two grapes at a lower proportion. There are technically 13 types of grapes permitted in these blends (red and white) and some wines utilize every single one. Chateau Beaucastel’s Chateauneuf-du-Pape is a famous wine that does just that every year. These wines range in alcohol from 14% to 15% and have a great flavor profile. Typically these flavors include red fruit (strawberries, cherries, pomegranates), baking spices, Herbs de Province (also known as Garrigue), tobacco, and sweet leather. They pair well with Winter foods because of their spice cabinet qualities and juicy richness. Soups, roasts, and baked goods are all great choices to pair this wine with.
Some of my favorites we have are:
Austin Hope: Troublemaker
Famille Perrin Chateauneuf-du-Pape
Chateau La Nerthe: Cuvee des Cadettes
Alsatian White Wines:
If you are someone who only drinks white wine all year long, fear not, I have the perfect type of wine for you too! Alsace is a region in North East France that primarily produces white wines! They are most known for Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Muscat and Riesling. These wines are rich in texture and flavor and can range in alcohol from 13% to 15%. Their Rieslings tend to be dry so don’t worry, no sweet Riesling here! They are great sippers with flavors of green apple, lime zest, spice and a hint of petrol (don’t worry, it’s a good thing!). Their Gewürztraminer is a little sweet with fruit notes of lychee and mango, fresh flowers, and spice (think allspice and cinnamon). Their Pinot Gris is richly textured with ripe flavors of pear, apple, meyer lemon with hints of spice. The Muscat is dry too, with beautiful floral, honey, and candied orange flavor, all without being sweet. These all pair well with foods this time of year like creamy soups and hearty meals like casseroles and stews.
It’s cold outside, hopefully raining, and I have the fireplace going or I am streaming the Fireplace Show on Netflix to create that same ambiance and have a glass in hand with a liquor poured neat. What’s in my glass? Whiskey. And these are a few of my favorites:
I am a sucker for Rye. The spiciness, the rich peppery notes, and the hint of char on the end. This is my go-to style of Whiskey. My favorite is Michter’s Single Barrel Rye. Dollar for dollar, you can’t beat it because each bottle is coming from a single barrel. There is no blending here so each bottle has its own story to tell.
An affordable favorite of mine is the Mars Shinshu Iwai 45. What makes this Whiskey special is what it is not. Japanese Whiskey really got started in the last century after some producers wanted to learn more about how to make the best whiskey and went to Scotland to learn how they do it. Most Japanese Whiskey today follows those traditions like using barley malt and sometimes incorporating peat into their Whiskey. Iwai 45 is not that though, it is more like Bourbon. It has a higher amount of corn in the mash bill and is 90 proof. The flavor profile is vanilla and butterscotch with hints of red berries and apples. It has a sweet and smooth finish, similar to Bourbon. So if you are a Bourbon person, give this one a shot, you won’t be disappointed.
I know it isn’t Whiskey like my other choices but give me a second to hear me out. A favorite of mine is Spirit Works’ Barrel Gin. This “Ginskey” is their signature Gin that is then barrel-aged in high toast New American Oak barrels for several months. It technically isn’t whiskey but it is pretty dang close and it offers that alternative for people out there looking for a new adventure. This beverage combines the flavors of juniper, citrus, and other botanicals used with the sweet caramel, cinnamon, and vanilla of the oak. This is a Gin for Whiskey people and the Whiskey for Gin people.
Written by Chase Brunson, Beer, Wine, and Cheese Specialist