Sierra Nevada Strainge Beast
Everyone knows Sierra Nevada as a pioneer of US craft brewing, which has produced nearly every beer style in the past 40 years, but this drink marks its first foray into hard kombucha. Created by the Chico Fermentation Project, a newly formed innovation offshoot of Sierra Nevada, the first flavor released is its Ginger, Lemon & Hibiscus, an unpasteurized tart, 7.0% ABV, bubbling blend of USDA Certified organic black and green tea with organic lemon, ginger and hibiscus and live cultures. Two additional flavors will follow later—Blueberry, Acai & Sweet Basil—and Passion Fruit, Hops & Blood Orange. Sierra Nevada Founder and President Ken Grossman said, “I’ve been drinking kombucha for some time, and the team has done a fantastic job of coming up with really nice flavor and balance. Like beer, kombucha allows you to become an alchemist, morphing natural, raw ingredients into something amazing to drink.” Look for Strainge Beast in select markets and eventual release nationwide later this year.
Zodiak Black Cherry
This limited release from Zodiak Spirits is a 35% ABV gluten-free, potato-based vodka infused with natural black cherry extract and finished in American oak barrels. While most vodkas aren’t made in one place, this one is: from start to finish in a quiet town along the majestic banks of the Snake River in eastern Idaho using 100% local ingredients including water from the Snake River Aquifer. The resting process allows the spirit to acquire the taste similar to smooth and mellow whiskey with soft cherry and spice overtones. It’s also made with all-natural ingredients with no high fructose corn sugar added. It’s suggested to be enjoyed mixed with your favorite cocktail or straight, which is my preferred way to drink this fine sipper, to appreciate all the soft flavors of the cherry and slight alcohol burn in the finish.
Two iconic breweries, one American and one Belgian, have come together to create a beer masterpiece that matches the almost 25-year-old Delaware-based Dogfish Head Craft Brewery with the nearly 200-year-old Roeselare, Belgium-based Brouwerij RODENBACH. The 4.7% ABV blended sour ale combines two unique base beers—one developed by RODENBACH, a two-year, foeder-aged sour from its legendary, standing oak casks—and the other by Dogfish Head, a kettle sour brewed with pilsner malt, malted wheat, elderberry, elderflower, sliced lemons and Belgian fleur-de-sel. The resulting blend presents flavors of jammy berries and floral lemon with just the right amount of tartness that will not be enough to put off those that don’t prefer an in-your-face mouth-puckering taste experience.
This citrus soda with gin has roots that trace back to Finland, where the country’s national drink is a top-selling category of alcohol. The drink originated in 1952 when the government needed to come up with a new beverage that was able to be served quickly to the many visitors during the Summer Olympic games hosted in Helsinki. It’s now available in the US and comes in four flavors: Traditional (5.5% ABV, natural grapefruit and juniper flavors), Cranberry (5.5% ABV), Zero (5% ABV, 0 sugar, 0 carbs and 99 calories) and Strong (8.5% ABV). I found the flavors of all four to be delightful to the point of becoming my new favorite drink and is a unique drink unlike other flavored hard beverages. Long Drink is available in NY, CT, NJ, MA, GA, PA, NV, TX, OH and will be in more markets soon.
Laws Whiskey House
The Denver, CO-based Laws Whiskey House proudly proclaims to make its whiskey using no shortcuts, as each batch is milled, cooked, fermented, distilled, aged and bottled onsite, and is making use of its own “terroir,” as it is utilizing grain from nearby farms. I had the pleasure to sample the limited release 100 proof San Luis Valley Straight Rye Whiskey, which happens to be the first to be bottled-in-bond in Colorado history (which requires the whiskey be a product of grain grown in a single season, made by a single distiller and aged at least four years in a federal government-bonded warehouse). It has a mash bill of 95% heirloom rye and 5% heirloom barley and is aged in new 53 gallon charred oak barrels for six-plus years. The aroma is sweet grass with honey and tasting notes include flavors of wild mint, fennel, sea salt, tea and brown sugar with a finish of tobacco and a rich, buttery mouthfeel.