What We’re Drinking: June 2017

Photos by Kevin Kramer, The Growler

Welcome back to What We’re Drinking, wherein The Growler editorial staff look back on a recent remarkable beverage. What are you drinking, Growler Nation? Let us know on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

Wyndfall Cyder Driftless Dry, Kate Murphy, Editorial Assistant


On a muggy summer’s day, I thirst for something to beat the heat that’s refreshingly light, tart, and dry. Thankfully, Wyndfall Cyder’s Driftless Dry fits the bill to a T. Every batch of the cider is different, bearing a variety of apples—from crabapples to russets and even Honeycrisp—but it’s the wild Brettanomyces that draws the unmistakable line running through them. The distinct farmhouse funk imparted by the yeast bolsters the bittersweet earthy flavors at the forefront, mellowing into a slightly sour and fresh green apple brightness. While I’m not a fan of those oppressively humid days, a glass of Driftless Dry is the welcomed respite I so desire.

Letherbee Distillers Vernal Gin, Joseph Alton, Editor-in-Chief

Seasons are fleeting in the Upper Midwest. Food and beverage options that seemed totally appropriate yesterday may feel passé tomorrow. Letherbee’s Vernal Gin on the other hand is a spring seasonal you can sip all summer. Each spring and fall since 2012, the Chicago distillers have released a unique seasonal interpretation of their signature gin. Their annual “Vernal” and “Autumnal” offerings have become perennial favorites among my gin-loving friends.

This year, a heavy hand of lemongrass imparts a distinctly Southeast Asian flavor, further accentuated by a crisp but subtle ginger bite and robust herbaceous notes, most notably basil and mint. Though the slight vegetal bitterness leads me to believe it would serve well in a Negroni, this gin deserves to be the centerpiece: Drink it over ice with a splash of club soda.

Tattersall Distilling Freewheeler Pommeau, Brian Kaufenberg, Managing Editor

A blend of fresh cider and apple brandy, pommeau is not a common sight on liquor store shelves in the U.S. But this French apple spirit clocking in at around 17 to 20 percent ABV has a lot going for it. Tattersall’s version, made with brandy distilled from Sociable Cider Werks Freewheeler Dry Apple Graff, has a sweet apple aroma with notes of vanilla, oak, and a slight acidic undertone. It’s cool and slick on first sip, before its opens up with bright apple flavors and just enough sharpness to cut through the sweetness. Try it straight as an aperitif to a course of fresh shucked oysters, or pair a dram with a dessert like teurgoule, the traditional rice pudding from Normandy where pommeau is king.

Deschutes Brewery Swivelhead Red India Style Red Ale, Keith Grauman, Web Editor

In an age where fruity, tropical, and citrusy hops reign supreme, where malt is treated as little more than a necessary evil, it’s refreshing to find a beer that’s as well-balanced and harmonious as this one. Brewed with European hops (“added in American quantities,” according to the brewery) and red and black barley, Swivelhead Red is intensely floral and piney with sweet and slightly nutty malt flavors. The beer lives up to the promise of Deschutes’ Bond Street Series, which exists to “explore the many nuances and endless possibilities of the almighty hop,” by reminding drinkers there’s a whole spectrum beyond the juicy hops currently enjoying their moment in the spotlight.

Hakutsuru “Sayuri” Nigori Sake, John Garland, Senior Editor

Early summer is my favorite time to drink rice beverages. Asian lagers are terrific for barbecues, and a good cold sake makes a fine companion to a series of cribbage on the patio. Sayuri means “little lily,” and Hakutsuru’s is a delicate and hazy off-dry sake, perfect to sip on throughout a full meal of loud flavors. It starts clean and refreshing, like an unripe strawberry turned ripe apple. The finish is that mouth-coating cereal milk sweetness. I paired it with a homemade rendition of Ivan Orkin’s shio ramen, but it’s wonderful on its own, after you’ve pegged 121 points but you stay outside to watch the storms roll in.