Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wines and beers for Thanksgiving

I have the responsibility of selecting the wine for my family's Thanksgiving feast in Raleigh, N.C. My choices are listed in boldface below.

Although I've been writing a regular column about beer for two and a half years now, I've made some notes along the way about wine pairings for Thanksgiving, which might be the most difficult pairing challenge of them all.

Last year, I was moderately successful by offering both a chardonnay and a riesling before and during dinner.

To make those choices, I had flipped through Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast, and I had searched the Internet for pairing suggestions. As an addition help, the local grocery store had cards on the shelves with Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast ratings -- I just had to make sure that the year on the card was the same as the year on the available bottles.

This year, I decided to add a zinfandel to the mix, only because I know some in my family will always prefer red. Truth be told, no one will care about the type of wines with this meal as much as I will!

Except for the riesling, for which I have a personal affection, I tried to stick to the affordable end of the available wines.

So here are the selections:

Hogue Columbia Valley Riesling 2007 (received an 87 from Wine Spectator); retails around $11 per bottle

King Fish California Chardonnay 2006; retails around $6 per bottle

Barefoot Zinfandel from Lodi, California (no date); retails around $7 per bottle

Earlier this year, I wrote a cover story for a local weekly about beer-and-food pairings, but I still decided not to spend the money on better beers for pairing purposes. Most of my family will drink wine with the meal.

Recently, I have gained a new appreciation and respect for big domestic brewers, and it just so happens that a new beer by Bud and an long-standing beer by Michelob have become personal favorites. Here's what the Thanksgiving beer cooler looks like:

Budweiser American Ale: This new beer from Bud is an all-malt ale with Pacific Cascade hops.

Michelob Lager: A traditional, all-malt lager with European hops.

Woodchuck Amber Cider: This crisp, refreshing alternative to wine and beer works well with holiday feasts; plus you can still count on a little lift. It's 5 percent.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

New South Brewing Co. to start canning

New South Brewing Co. in Myrtle Beach, S.C., will begin canning beer in March.

Dave Epstein, owner of New South, said the canning equipment will arrive in January.

New South provides kegs to bars and restaurants in the Carolinas, especially in the greater Myrtle Beach area.

Epstein displayed possible can designs during New South's recent 10th anniversary celebration.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sing along with Watershed

Once in a while I see Joe Oestreich around Coastal Carolina University's English Department office. He's an assistant professor at CCU and member of the Ohio-based band Watershed. I downloaded Watershed's album Fifth of July from iTunes three days ago, and I'm listening to the song "5th of July" over and over again. Here's a clip with a link to purchase:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Beer truck driver arrested on suspicion of drunken driving; trailer full of beer flipped

Take note of where this happened -- what a coincidence.

The Associated Press

WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. — A contract beer truck driver has been arrested on suspicion of drunken driving after his rig flipped over in suburban Wheat Ridge.

Police say 56-year-old Bobby Dodge of McGregor, Texas was eastbound on Colorado 58 about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday when he took an exit ramp for eastbound Interstate 70 too fast. The truck and its 45,000-pound trailer full of beer overturned.

Wheat Ridge police spokeswoman Lisa Stigall says the beer, which had recently been picked up in Golden, remained enclosed inside the trailer. Authorities had to remove the entire load in order for the trailer to be set upright.

The wreckage blocked the ramp until about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday.

No injuries were reported. Stigall says Dodge was booked and taken to a detoxification facility.

Monday, November 10, 2008

In Carolina Forest, a big glass of Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat

A cold and rainy Saturday afternoon does not tend to inspire the drinking of summery wheat beers, but after a morning's work I went to Buffalo Wild Wings in Carolina Forest (between Myrtle Beach and Conway, S.C.) and realized that the only thing on tap that I hadn't tried, or at least wasn't sure I had tried, was Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat. The Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co., based in Wisconsin, has made some small distribution forays into the Grand Strand.

I have this problem lately - I'll think about ordering a regular pint and then hear words like "the 23-ounce, please" coming out of my mouth. The barkeep brought an extra tall glass of glowing gold.

The weird thing about Leinie's Sunset Wheat - or, more likely, the weird thing about me - was the undeniable taste of blueberries that continued through the last ounce. Can taste buds hallucinate? Later, I read through the Leinekugel Web site's description of the beer a few times, and never saw the word "blueberry" in it.

So I'm crazy. But by the time I got to the bottom of the glass, I had associated the taste in my mouth with the blue tap handle and made the assumption that blueberry juice was added to the outstanding wheat beer.

The bill was $4.34. I can deal with that price for 23 ounces of a Leinie.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Bud's American Ale

Bud's American Ale seemed like a cynical ploy to appeal to the pickier beer drinker, except that the quality of the beer takes the cynical part out of the ploy.

I never liked the idea that Bud's lager - the brand's best known beer, the one everybody calls Bud - was made with rice as well as barley. The company must have decided that a good remedy would be to make an all-malt ale, an ale made with nothing but barley, and to enhance it with Cascade hops from the Pacific Northwest.

So as I drink Bud's American Ale, I'm tasting a solid amber brew and a finish that leans toward the dry side. I didn't quite get the advertised "noticeably citrus aroma," although I tasted a bit in the finish. If I hold the coffee mug under a light, I can see that the color scale runs to the deep and dark side of amber.

The most informative thing I can say, however, is this: My respect for Bud and its big parent company Anheuser-Busch is bubbling upward.

I've seen six-packs of American Ale bottles selling in the $6.14-$6.59 range. Go to and click "Find It" for local bars and stores that carry this ale.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Big anniversary party at Liberty Steakhouse & Brewery this Tuesday, on Election Day

Liberty Steakhouse and Brewery (at Broadway at the Beach here in Myrtle Beach) will celebrate its 13th anniversary this coming Tuesday, on Election Day.

Brewer Eric Lamb is planning to tap the Porter, and Liberty will have 2-for-1 meal deals available -- the restaurant's own "economic bailout."