Welcome to Garrison Brothers, home of the first and oldest legal Whiskey distillery in Texas.
Ever since we stumbled upon the Garrison Brothers website and the abundance of 5 star reviews that pepper the Internet, we have been planning how to get a bottle in to the bar. It wasn't an easy job, as this stuff isn't readily available, in these parts anyway. But, we are serious about Booze and finally, when an opportunity to buy a bottle presented itself in September last year, we didn't let it pass. Operation Duty Free was born.
A trip for two to New York City is a romantic affair, especially if it is for your significant others birthday, a milestone Birthday at that. Of course Mrs LiquorJunky will always believe that the entire trip was for her. I for one, in the spirit of self preservation, wont be ruining that illusion.
So after a financial commitment of several hundred quid and a flight of a few thousand miles across the pond (which we reported on last September) We found that even in the Big Apple, Garrison Brothers is scarce. It is one of only three US States on the distribution list, (although a distribution map on their website, shows 15). A move that immediately makes this Bourbon a sought after Liquor. Well, as you may have guessed, after a rocky start and a few days on the Manhattan tourist trail, we made it to our happy ending and finally found our bottle a few blocks south of Central Park, paying close to $100 for the pleasure.
Dan Garrison set up the Distillery in Hye, Texas. A small community of around 110 people, which sits 58 miles West of Austin, Texas. The eleven year old operation has grown quickly, in both product line and popularity, yet it maintains its craft status by producing only a few hundred barrels each year, proudly boasting that each one comes with its own distinct personality. That personality, amongst other things, is Ballsy! You wont hear too many commercial ventures stating that there product isn't meant for every day drinking and the price is set to reflect that! The Brothers of Hye, Texas clearly love what they do and are rightfully proud of their product. Creating Bourbon better than the last barrel means more to these guys than letting supply outstrip demand
We let our bottle get comfortable and acclimatise to its new surrounding before taking the plunge and unwrapping the seal. Our bottle numbered 32126 was distilled and Barreled in 2011 before being released in April 2014. We poured a small ice free measure and let it coat the glass. The Initial scent is strong and oaky musk, after a long awaited sip the caramel in this really came through, which lingered on the long deep finish
The organic ingredients make it feel like you are drinking the best booze for your body, along with the price level and marketing stance of not drinking this everyday, enhance the experience before it even passes your lips. Although not available anywhere near this Island, Garrison Bros is allegedly more expensive per shot than any other whiskey. I will admit that 25% of this overall review gives a favourable slant from the fact it is so scarce in the UK. It travelled well from our cousins across the pond and once tasted it has made the top shelf in the Liquorjunky bar..
I knew it was morning when I felt the sunshine scratching at my eyelids. Without thinking I slowly peeled them open and squinted around the room, everything looked different from my angle on the floor! It took a second for the pain in my head to register with my brain, but when it did it was something I can only imagine a sledgehammer to the skull feels like.
Gingerly I lifted myself off the floor, my weight had doubled overnight and my wrists strained. I instantly regretted it! My arms gave way and my head thumped back down onto the carpet. I curled into the foetal position, shaking and shivering. Their I lay, motionless, wearing last nights clothes, with a dry tongue chomping on a mouth that felt like a sandpit! I began gently sobbing into the shag below me.
My date from the night before was long gone, not that I could have stomached her kiss anyway. Only her empty bottle lay on the floor. My Russian lady had shown me the time of my life and although my recollection was cloudy, she had left me with memories that I can't shake, even now. 17 years or so later, and I think I am ready to give Vodka another chance!
Being 18, with a legal ID, is an amazing thing! Being 18 and playing the big man is the part that lets it all down! Beer was like an elixir! Alco pops were a sugary buzz givers that kept the party going, but spirits were the big boys drink, the holy grail! And I, in hindsight should have left well alone! You see, most folk don't go out and buy a Ferrari the day they get their driving license! Yet, that's pretty much what I did.
Time heals & age brings wisdom! So now is the time to make peace with vodka. While researching another article in Mid 2015, I caught an ad for a new locally crafted premium Vodka. Billed as Irelands first Potato distilled vodka, well In Ireland we love Booze and we are known to be fond of a spud or two. Intrigued I tracked a bottle down.
Vodka is used in many drinks and cocktails, unfortunately I gave up after trying other brands of this spirit with only two mixers, Coke and Red Bull (both in the same night)! So as I wasn't sure how best to enjoy Ruby Blue, I had to seek some advice. Who better to consult than the Companies top Woman. How cool is it to get advice from the Boss of the company!! A brief twitter conversation with Barbara Hughes advised keeping it simple, lemonade and a slice of lime, unless I wanted to drink it the Russian way. "Take a sip and swirl it round your mouth to coat cheeks, you'll get the creaminess that comes from the potato distillation". The words of the top lady herself on how to drink her vodka straight!
Pouring a shot of vodka, filled me with dread. I put my nose to the glass expecting to recoil, but I didn't. Weighing in at 40% ABV (80 proof), it certainly had a strong presence but I wasn't put off. Jumping in I took a sip and followed the Bosses advice. It was just as she said. It filled my mouth with warmth and fire, the creamy finish was as they advertise. Smooth, very smooth! The heat lingered in my mouth as I let it sink down. Their was no flashback, no horror!
I was pleased initially, pleased with myself that is. I thought it was me, that I had matured. I was now a connoisseur of spirits, after almost 20 years, I had conquered Vodka and bettered my Russian Mistress. Of course, this Is Irish Vodka, maybe the problem was with the drink! I had sickened myself on cheap, or cheaper stuff back then. I had splashed out on Premium product and was reaping the rewards. I finished my shot and savoured it. The heat in my cheeks spreading to my extremities. While I couldn't quite mix with coke, I went with Lemonade and a slice of lime. 2 big Ice cubes and a quick stir! Incredible
RubyBlue Potato Vodka. Ireland’s First Potato Distilled Vodka, Smooth ultra Pure Vodka with subtle notes of vanilla and crisp apple. Buttery & well-rounded with just a little earthiness. Perfect for those that like to enjoy Vodka Neat but also an excellent base for cocktails! That's the official blurb from www.Rubybluevodka.com
Launched in the Summer of 2015, by Stuart and Barbara Hughes. This Lisburn based Craft Distillery (established in 2010) has wasted no time in becoming a much talked about local export. Stocked almost immediately by some giant retailers and present in a number of top restaurants, Ruby Blue Vodka joins an already established line of whole berry and Irish grin spirit liqueurs.
A limited run, 700 bottles, of Ruby Blue Cask Aged Vodka was released in late 2015. We managed to get bottle number 500 (thanks guys) This vodka was kept for four months in Bourbon barrels, giving it a unique colour. We gifted this bottle to a friend for Christmas, which was possibly overly generous. We are waiting for an invite to go taste some, patiently waiting..
Ruby Blue is immense. So good that it brought me back to Vodka! You get what you pay for, so the bottles of Smirnoff in the LiquorJunky bar will be kept for visitors and family! This one isn't for sharing, in fact I might try to source another bottle of Cask Finished and gift it to myself.
Honouring Mr Jack’s legacy and spirit, this recipe combines a crisp apple cider blended with Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and is best enjoyed chilled and straight from the bottle.
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Cider (5.5% ABV) will be served in the on-trade from May 1 creating new occasions for consumers to enjoy Jack Daniel’s.
The FIRST Jack Daniels product to launch in the U.K ahead of any other country. Is that a decision made due to our love of cider or our love of Jack?
Have a look at the stats and you realize it's a bit of both. The U.K. is the top dog for worldwide hard cider consumption and 5th in terms of the amount of Whiskey supped (India, is 1st) So perhaps Brown Forman have decided to let the experts critique their latest brand variation.
Pouring a weak golden straw colour, this 5.5% Hard cider is lightly carbonated with a unique smell brought about by the unmistakable scent of bourbon. With a deep draw reminiscent of how Jilly Goolden used to stick her corker in the glass, I inhaled the mix of Jack and apple cider.. it's a little strange at first, especially if you are completely new to this sort of mix (I previously reviewed Magners Irish Ciders mix of apple cider and Irish whiskey)
Initially it's an odd taste, crisp refreshing cider mixed accidentally with liquor that toppled off the shelf into the glass, that or a combo dreamt up by the booze infused brain of a college student who was out of normal mixers.
After the initial confusion on the palate subsides and you wrap your head around the flavour combination being as it's meant to be. Tennessee Cider settles in as a refreshing if slightly off beverage. Jacks entry into this market has a strong Cider base with a strong kick of classic Lynchburg bourbon. But I can't make up my mind
Admittedly i doubt this will be for everyone and it's far from the tastiest of Cider infusions on the market. This flavour will take some acquiring, and as for its market demographic, I'm not sure it will appeal to either Cider fans or Jack devotees.. it may prove popular on promotion on the trade, but as for making its mark on the U.K. Cider market, I'm not so sure
I got my Tennessee Cider in ASDA, £2.00 per bottle or 4 for £6.00.
Taking some artistic license and leaving the run of the mill stuff on the cutting room floor, I am going to zip straight to the drinking.
Now obviously I didn't wake up on the plane, but we can take it for granted that any activity from the moment I got up to the moment I boarded the aircraft, wasn't that interesting and didn't feature any booze! I did buy a copy of Time magazine at the Airport, which is something of a pre flight safety superstition that I have. Yes, I do realise that it has no bearing on the safety of the flight but its a ritual done when sober and for some reason it makes me feel intelligent.
Shortly after 10am I boarded my Aer Lingus flight which was the direct service from Dublin to New York JFK. This big green bird was gonna take me to the Super Bowl and a whole week of Beer and Sunshine. Once again I had managed to get an upgrade and turned left at the door into the Business Class cabin. Having flown this route before in the same class, a review of which can be found below, I knew what to expect...
After settling in, the crew were round with the usual selection of pre flight drinks while the rest of the flight boarded. Once again, I opted for the Champagne, which was the same brand as my previous flight. I can take or leave the bubbles but its somewhat appealing, especially when you are stretching out while reading your life supporting edition of Time magazine.
So, having sucked down a glass of champagne like a dehydrated kid stopping for a water break on a summers day, the smiling crew member was back to fill up my glass, which I sipped a little slower as we taxied out for departure.
Shortly after Departure I had my first real drink of the Vacation. I opted for a Jameson and Ginger and relaxed while the big Aluminium tube hurtled towards the good ol' USA. All in all it was a pretty uneventful flight which passed far to quickly. Its amazing how this is never the case when you fly back in Economy, its almost s if they slow down time. Once I have Shoe horned myself into my seat and had my knee caps shattered by the person in front who can't survive without reclining, the soul destroying announcement of a 6 hour flight time cant even be helped by the arrival of the drinks trolley. As its generally the impossible choice of Budweiser or Heineken! I would rather dehydrate thanks!
The first Whiskey was followed by a glass of Red from Portugal, which was consumed with lunch, along with a another Jameson and Ginger and some canapé's
On arrival in JFK, and with a now, 5 hour layover, thanks to the Captain ripping the arse out of her over the Atlantic. Slow down Man, its an open bar! I sought out the connection desk in an attempt to catch the earlier shuttle to Orlando. This wasn't possible, due in part to my checked baggage. So with some time to kill and some beer to drink, I did a loop of the bars and eateries in the terminal, which although appealing, was loud, busy and somewhat overbearing. This is where I shall admit to a committing a cardinal “Man” sin and asking for directions to the Aer Lingus Business Lounge! I wasn't 100% sure they would let me in but I intended to use my reserve of Irish Charm and chance my arm to see if they would at least take pity on me and allow me to unwind before my "Meetings", obviously
The Lounge was thankfully a short walk away within Terminal 5, about 10 steps away from the point at which I asked directions. Ok, to be honest it was directly behind where I had been standing. The big Shamrock on the door was something of a giveaway. On walking in and climbing the stairs, the noise and bustle was gone. In fact, besides Me and the hostess, there was only one other guy in there.
I quickly tucked my supply of charm into my back pocket as my Boarding pass was swiped, accepted and I was lead into the lounge and advised of the facilities. The Aer Lingus lounge at JFK is well designed with ample seating areas. The small buffet is limited to sandwiches and a few soups, however I found it sufficient for the time I spent there. You can have a meal in there dining area, but it is reserved for those passengers on the departing on the two daily flights to Dublin. It is essentially a large, well apportioned room a flight of stairs above the passenger Terminal but you instantly feel calm and relaxed when you enter.
This is where I made fast friends with IPA Racer 5! It’s a delicious Californian craft beer and was in plentiful supply in the help yourself kitchen. I tried one and moved on to an old favourite, Samuel Adams Boston Lager, which was considered the local brew in this part of the World. It says a lot for a craft lager when makes a classic taste poor and cheap in comparison. I quickly went back to Racer 5 and spent the next few hours sipping excellent beer and eating an assortment of small sandwiches.
Although a five hour layover seems like a long time, when you are drinking free beer and relaxing in brilliant surroundings, well time flies. So it was bit of a shock to find myself out in the main terminal searching for my connection, after what seemed like such a short period of time.
Having managed to find my Gate and obtained a Boarding pass for the flight, I decided to do the sensible thing and have a soft drink to counteract all the Booze. I wasn't drunk by any means but I had a 3 hour flight to contend with and didn't want to risk being marked out for special observations by a keen handling agent, who caught a whiff of Jameson's as I passed by.
I took a seat at what must be the most convenient Airport Bar in the World, situated right at my gate. This is where the "plan" was rewritten. The Barman had a copy of "Whisky & Spirits for Dummies on the back shelf, cleverly covered by an Newspaper, or so he thought. Problem was the spine of the book bearing the title was visible. Deciding to do the decent thing, I found myself ordering another Jameson and Ginger, purely to give the guy some practice. Why I accepted the kind offer to make it a double I will never know. This test of skill ended up costing me $18! Well $36 actually as I had two, just to sure he hadn't fluked it the first time… Is this the most expensive bar in New York?. To be fair The Barman mixed a tasty drink and I did ask him about the book, but for the life of me cant remember what he said. Nothing to do with Booze, that's just age for you
This is me wearing my life saving surgical mask halfway between JFK and Orlando. If you haven't got one of these, then you are at risk!
The flight to Orlando was interesting, thankfully this cheap airline doesn’t charge for drinks or snacks. It turns out I would need something strong! As I boarded and walked through the cabin I could see a couple sitting in the window and aisle seat by the Emergency exit, halfway down the plane. They appeared deep in conversation and were clearly a couple as they were holding hands and she was stroking his head. It did strike me as odd that not only did they have their parachutes on the wrong way round, but they were wearing the kids size! Its strange how alcohol can muddle with your thoughts!
I stopped by the Stewardess and asked what was going on, she was quick to point out that the airline doesn't issue parachute's, before clarifying that they were in fact wearing surgical masks. Clearly then this was some sort of quarantine, but apparently, no, they were merely protecting themselves from Germs. Ok, then! Of course, as luck would have it the free seat beside them, was mine! As you would, I began to feel a bit self conscious. Was it me? How could they have known I would be sat beside them? Actually, they might be in luck, I had six mini Burritos in the Lounge and beans always repeat on me..
As I settled in, a group of High School cheerleaders boarded the flight and took their seats around me. A Woman who seemed to be their chaperone walked the aisle handing out more Surgical Masks to each of her group. With some Dutch Courage I stuck my hand up and requested one, telling her I had left mine at home. Without batting an eyelid, she kindly passed me a mask and in one kind act undoubtedly saved me.
Surgical masks. Apparently it protects you in flight.. Protects you from Germs! I guess those folks may be onto something, but it didn't seem to occur to them that they were wearing a seatbelt that wouldn't be acceptable in a car all while hurtling along at 450mph in a metal tube, 37000ft up in the air.
But no, germs are the danger.. Its at times like these that I am glad I drink. Anyway an otherwise smooth flight was helped by a few more Jameson and Gingers, some of which Ill confess I dribbled down myself after taking a drink and forgetting about my life preserver strapped to my face. Tired, buzzed and germ free, I eventually arrived in Orlando
Thanks to Jet Blue and their excellent JFK based crew who really made the flight!
So Day 1 ended as it had begun some 16 hours earlier, at an Airport. My first night in Orlando was a dry one, although you could argue I had enough fuel on board to keep a lesser man chugging on for days.
I can say nothing but positive things about Jet Blue. Positioned as the low cost, high frills airline, I found their service to be excellent! A great crew and free inflight entertainment coupled with complimentary drinks and snacks, made for a great Ale ound experience! The pilots even left the flight deck on arrival to say goodbye to every passenger!
Remember, please Drink Responsibly! Except when on your Holidays. Its fine to be drunk on Vacation. I think this random lady at Baggage claim would agree.
Beer Pong, the American college "sport" made famous by countless movies & tv shows, still found in campus bars and frat houses across the nation, is something of a cultural icon.
A classic drinking game that Combines physical activity (albeit limited, which suits me) and beer, although other libations can be used. It is for those, unfamiliar with the concept, an amended version of Ping Pong or table tennis for us Europeans
To be fair though, if it were called Beer Tennis, images of a different game jump to mind. Who would relish the idea of mixing booze with that game! Picture a drunkenly competitive John McEnroe, whacking tennis balls in your direction! It has Jackass & Emergency Room written all over it.
The game is governed by numerous rules and regulations, but in its simplest form requires, a ping pong ball, a long flat surface, 2 dozen or so cups, plastic would be best and of course some booze.
The cups, as per the picture below, can be set up in numerous patterns, with a wash cup set in either side.. well no one likes dirty balls..
Let's not get ahead of ourselves, anytime I have played the cups have been arranged in a pyramid formation and it's bloody hard to get a ball in a cup! Of course, that may have had something to do with already being drunk when deciding to play! Who ever decides to play sober? Actually, You may be surprised
Having set up our table, outside, thanks to a sunny day. My Pong opponent & I faced off with each other. We indulged in customary stare outs or stare squinting, due to the sun and some good old fashioned trash talking. Cue juvenile balls jokes!
As we took aim with our first shots, we fell foul of manly pride and thinking we had some sort of athletic prowess, we made the mistake of using or attempting to use ping pong bats! Forrest Gump would not be proud. At this rate, this was shaping up to be an endurance game.
If you haven't got the concept by now, each player throws or bounces the ball, towards their opponents cups, if you get the ball in then your opponent drinks the contents of the cup.
The winner is whichever player forced their opponent to drink all his cups first, the loser can then also be made to drink the winners cups
Of course The Irish version of this game forbids the loser drinking the winners booze.. that would just start a punch up! In fact extra official are employed to ensure the players aren't drinking their own cups during play.
This game does require a level of skill & I found My drunken Pong skills were so poor that I was gasping for a drink anytime I played. That's the main reason why our games never came to a natural conclusion, but ended when players began drinking the contents of their own cups out of desire for a swally.
As much of a drunken mess as our attempts at playing turned out, Beer Pong does have a serious side. Every year since 2008, Beer Pong Athletes descend on the state of Nevada to take part in the the World Series of Beer Pong which is advertised as the Worlds Largest tournament of its kind, with a top prize rumored to be approx $65000!
Surprisingly, The competition cups are filled with water, which the players do not drink... Now responsible drinking is a must, but it's a bloody beer Pong tournament.. if trading standards got wind of that....
According to the official website, the competition has drawn entrants from 45 US States and 5 Canadian provinces.. quite impressive, but not so much a World Series to be fair.
If you have never played Beer Pong, it's good Craic for a drunken Saturday afternoon. Perfect diversion game for when your mate "Beer Belly Brian" creepily suggests Strip poker for the 50th time..
Obviously you don't want to waste your decent craft brews on this, so either don a disguise or send the wife in to the offy's (liquor store) to buy some Budweiser or similarly pish beer.
My only rule addition would be a clean pair of hands, we all have that one friend who does questionable things with his hands.
Red Cups are available in most Supermarkets nowadays, although home bargains is the cheapest. Some places also sell Beer Pong kits.
Don't bother with bats, you will die of thirst
If you looked at a satellite image of Ireland and zoomed in around the ass of the teddy bear, which the country is often said to resemble, you would find the town of Wexford, just by the mouth of the River Slaney.
Home to approx 20,000 people or YellowBelly's as they are locally known, Wexford is where you will also find Yellowbelly Beer, a two year old Brewery that started from a brew kit in a basement below local watering hole Simon Lambert & Sons.
In that short 2 year period Declan Nixon (head brewer) & Nicky Lambert (director) collaborated on over 100 different beers. Although the majority remained keg only releases, 13 specialities were given nationwide releases.
In early 2017, having outgrown their basement site, the guys moved production to a new brewery, not far from the pub where it all began, now with more space & canning facilities the quest to take over the world one beer at a time is in full swing!
Each Of the guys Beers releases includes unique artwork featuring "Yellowbelly" the brand Character & somewhat uniquely a comic & digital content including games & animated videos, all produced under the watchful eye of designer Paul Reck.
The company title is of course ironic, in that YellowBelly Beer never fears to be progressive and innovative with their beer styles and ingredients.
It was a can of their award winning Citra Pale Ale that introduced me to Yellowbelly. The eye catching can featuring the aforementioned Yellowbelly, who reminds me of a wrench wielding maniacal Circus Master, was one of the first I took hold of on a recent visit to the Vineyard.
Having rested in the Liquorjunky fridge the 300ml can of 4.8% Citra Pale Ale was poured after a long warm day of baby sitting, or parenting as my wife insists I should call it. Perfectly chilled & ready to sink
Pouring a hazy golden orange with a thin albeit fluffy white head. I could detect the grapefruit scent on this immediately. It wasn't overly carbonated and the citrus, grapefruit taste combined with a little zest made it extremely refreshing.
Overall, Yellowbelly Citra Pale Ale is a medium bodied, not overpowering in taste yet refreshingly finished Pale Ale.
It's perfect for an afternoon in the garden in a can sized serving. Not sure my palate would welcome several pints of this, although I would be keen to sample it on draught
I purchased my beer in The Vineyard, Belfast - a 330ml can cost £1.99
More info can be found here www.yellowbellybeer.ie
Nestled on the Ormeau Road, a short walk from the Southern embankments of Belfast’s River Lagan. The Vineyard is a blink and you will miss it Off License, an ordinary and unassuming shop front on a busy route through the east of the city. Unless you stop to stare at its carefully crafted window displays, or you know that it exists by its reputation alone, then you could be missing out on a hidden gem
At first glance, it has the appearance of a decades old family run shop, a business passed down from Father to Son. One that never quite embraced modern times or technology which ultimately is a big part of the charm. Entering the store initially is like stepping back to a time when the World Wide Web was Merely three words that begin with W, Craft Ale was a drink for old men in the Pub and a Growler, well a Growler was something your lady friend owned. This isn’t elaborate or well-designed theming, its character, character that comes with age.
The entrance, the most open and airy part of the store, leads you to a choice, left through the metal gate or right to the counter. It is in fact less of a choice and more of a carefully crafted one way system, designed to make best use of the stores limited space. An Artificial Light bathed Supermarket Liquor Store this is not. It is claustrophobic, intimate and dark all at once, but then 6000 products in a space this size will do that.
Picking up a basket and venturing through the gate was akin to walking through that Wardrobe and finding yourself in Narnia. The realisation that this is in fact a Magical Land hits home quickly. Did you ever visit Toys R Us or Leisure World (for locals), as a child and wish you had the means to buy all that tempted you? That’s the feeling this place produces! Bottles of Alcohol surround you in every direction, time is lost and only the windows at the front give you a sense of day or night.
As I browsed the abundance of Wines covering the shelves, the walls and in places the floor, I haphazardly flicked through my banking App to check the balance, some serious man shopping was about to commence. Winding through the bottles on the Pathway to the Holy Grail I found myself in the Beer section.. Like a time travel flash in a tv show, I was a 4 year old again, standing in front of the largest display of Star Wars figure in Leisure World circa 1985! That feeling of Joy, wonder & excitement was back. My eyes tried to take it all in, but as they darted in every direction at once I relalised it was pointless. There were far too many Cans and bottles to take in.
I began to fill my basket, a mixture of cans I liked the artwork on and breweries of which I had heard good things. I must have done ten laps, easy, of the intimate beer section, apologising for no real reason to each person I had to squeeze by on my travels. When my basket was full I decided, reluctantly, to call it a day. It’s a repeat visit kind of place, with more beers that were new to me than not. My 35 minute shopping spree, didn’t even allow me time to inspect the Ciders, Sour Beers or the Cities only Growler Station. Which during my time there, seemed to be well used.
So with no space left I reluctantly made my way to the till, finding myself facing the spirit section. Where I dug deep for self-restraint and did my best not to look at the vast selection of bottles. As the staff member totalled my bill, I took in the atmosphere & the smell one last time. The Wooden shelves and wine racks add to the ambience and I half expected Arkwright to appear from the store room berating Granville.
So, with a final bill of £**.49 (My Wife might be reading) I settled up and lugged my tasty haul to the car, but not before being offered assistance by the incredibly friendly staff.
The Vineyard is 60 this year! Although it has evolved over time, crucially it has maintained its independence, which allows the sourcing of so many niche wines and beers. The selection is unparalleled and it deserves its place as the best specialist off license in the North of Ireland (In my opinion at least)
My advice, pay this place a visit close to payday.. Life has many tough choices, which excellent craft beer to leave behind shouldn’t be on that list
The Vineyard is located at 375-377 Ormeau Road, Belfast and is open from 0930 to late most days, 1130-9pm on Sunday!
Although present on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, their website remains under construction.
All beer purchased was paid for by myself. Credit to the owners of the pictures, I was carrying too many beers to take pics
Being a New Yorker isn't about where you're from it's all about your attitude. Having an attitude isn't brashness, more a self-confidence of being comfortable with who you are and not letting anyone or anything undermine that.
You can be many different things in life but you can only ever be 100% New Yorker.
So, yeah! As the picture shows, in my haste to taste I poured the beer before I took any pictures. Generally that's not a problem, well it with dark glass bottles. So I included a stock image, courtesy of the New Yorker Beer website to properly showcase the product. Think of it as a before and after shot!
I cant find a lot about this Lager online, there doesn't appear to be a detailed backstory, invented or otherwise, as is the marketing norm nowadays. Nope, New Yorker Fine Lager Beer Is a Lager without a History, but is it Lager without a soul?. New Yorker Beer appears to be completely fresh in every sense
Pouring a pretty standard light straw Lager colour this Beer is at first, weak on the nose, its a lager, so don't expect the strong deep scents of other craft beers. I find all Lagers have that generic scent.. once you really stick your nose in and get a whiff there is a maltyness coming through.
While Lager certainly isn't my favorite kind of beer, this one is streets ahead of the mass produced fizzy water that the big producers throw out.. the kind of beers where the cardboard case has more flavour than what's in the bottle..
New Yorker Lager is a solid beer! It's refreshing with a palatable flavour and a full finish. An ice cold New Yorker Beer would be a welcome sight after a long day of Sightseeing in the Big Apple.. A great beer for a six pack and Frisbee in Central Park.
It would even go down well on our one day of Irish summer weather... though for that you will have to wait a year, as we had that weather in early April
Sometimes I think I am a little hard on Lager, yes of course I have a preference for more flavour some craft ales, but I need to remember that Lager was the starting pitcher for my Beer Journey. It may not have the sophistication of IPA or Amber Ale, but then it's not trying to be those brews! When served cold to a thirsty booze hound like me, then it's a good solid classic beer, well New Yorker is, I'm still not acccepting some of that other crap that people drink.
New Yorker Beer is served in 330ml bottles at a strength of 4.2%
I received my bottle of New Yorker from the kind folks at Pierhead Drinks. No money was exchanged and no endorsement of this product was requested or implied.
Beer is far to serious a subject to be anything other than truthful - How is that for a legal jargon free disclaimer?
"During the Renaissance, Harlem was a catalyst for artistic freedom and one of the most popular cultural destinations on the planet"
It was from this melting pot of culture that the Harlem Brewing Company was born! Having started by experimenting back in the early 90's with a simple home brewing kit, Celeste Beatty has long outgrown her small Harlem Apartment that witnessed her initial forays into craft beer.
Celeste sought out some key people in the New York brewing industry and steadily honed her skills and learnt the craft. The year 2000 saw her initial offering, Sugar Hill Golden Ale released via Contract Brewing through a facility in Upstate New York, Renaissance Wit followed in 2014
Pouring a rich Amber which a weak sunlight shines through topped with a light off white foamy head! Ok, even I cant take myself seriously. I am going to start over, Wit does indeed pour a rich amber colour, the cumin and spices are clear on the nose and the beer is lightly carbonated. The added spices enhance the regular Wheat Beer taste which makes for a deep taste and a wonderful after finish and follow up.
Taking a look at the bottle itself, it is clear Renaissance Wit is brewed in New York and imported. A lot of beers are brewed under license in the UK, which invariably affects the taste when you consider the difference in water and other ingredients. A downside of shipping a beer like this can be the effect on the taste. Renaissance Wit doesn't seemed to have suffered from its journey. Its a clean American, Belgian style Wheat Beer.
Overall this is a Wheat Beer packed with flavour. Having never drank an American take on the Belgian classic, I have to admit I was impressed. Its obviously expertly brewed which produces a surprisingly decent craft beer
Renaissance Wit from Harlem Brewing Company, recommended by the Brewer to pair with fish and cheese.
5.8% ABV in 355ml glass bottles
**I got my bottle courtesy of the kind folks at Pierhead UK. I did not pay for this beer, however Beer is far to important to lie about.. So I stand by my review!
Established in 1719, Belhaven is Scotland’s oldest working brewery. With abundant local barley, fine water from the brewery well , Belhaven was the perfect place for a brewery back then, and it still is today"
Just imagine the history and heritage a brewery approaching its 300 hundredth birthday would possess. Methods steeped in generations of brewing, a product so refined and perfected that it would be a matter of national pride to the intensely proud Scottish people. Well, Belhaven has just that, in its Stouts and Ales. What's surprising is the line of outside the box thinking craft beers the brewery also produces.
Take for example, TWISTED Grapefruit IPA. Grapefruits wouldnt exactly be native to Scotland and neither do they readily fit with the stuffy image that you assume the second oldest brewery in Scotland should have. But then, just look what happens when you assume.
I'm not a big fan of flavoured beer or cider for that matter, although I am softening to the latter. To be honest I mulled over this purchase for longer than I usually would when beer shopping. Somehow though it found its way into the trolley and was soon nestled into the Liquorjunky fridge.
It pours a fairly rich golden colour almost like a light mahogany. This IPA has a very generous white head that covers the beer below. On the nose its, well it's like nothing I have ever smelt from a can of beer. Fruity, grapefruity, incredibly fragrant and sweet. I actually spent a good bit of time taking in the scent of the beer. Yeah sure it's a bit of a novelty and that's the whole twisted appeal, but it works well and I found that it ramped up the anticipation of the tasting itself
I don't want to say it let itself down in its taste, as I have no other Grapefruit IPA to compare to, however it was a little false to drink. It was refreshing and the IPA base was strong however the grapefruit didn't work as well as the aroma lead me to believe. Ok perhaps false isn't entirely fair, it's a twisted infused fruity IPA after all. After finishing this off I concluded that it tastes exactly as its meant to and that wasn't half bad. It's sweet, very sweet and that's what would stop me drinking more than one. This is a fun brew for sure and one I would buy for the surprise of the initial smell in itself.
I picked my my 330ml 3.5% ABV can up in Tesco