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 Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
La Rioja Alta Vina Alberdi Reserva 2010, John Garland, Senior Editor
Rioja is the perfect wine for late fall. It’s rich and concentrated but with a softness on the palate that makes it food-friendly (think Turkey Day, here). La Rioja Alta is a century-old producer, the 2010 vintage was exceptional in Spain, and their Vina Alberdi is just coming into its own after two years in oak and another four in the bottle. Decant this one for an hour and let the nose open up. You’ll be rewarded with black cherry, cocoa, and vanilla. The flavor starts with ripe berry fruit that slowly gives way to soft, round tannin. A terrific wine for fending off those cold days ahead, and a great value at around $20.
Norseman Distillery Organic Bourbon Barrel-Aged Rum, Kate Murphy, Editorial Assistant
Thanksgiving is not the time for rules or restraint—including libations. So let’s leave the regulations to the referees on the football field, shall we? To kick off the holiday season, I want to give thanks and raise a glass with a spirit that will surely warm me up from the inside out: Norseman’s Organic Barrel-Aged Rum. Distilled from panela, an unrefined cane sugar, the amber-hued liquor has aged in bourbon barrels, imparting a richly distinct, but smooth oaken oomph. But then a mellow nuttiness enters, juxtaposed with a dry and warming finish of subtle—but not too sweet—toffee undertones. With a swig of this spirit in a steaming hot buttered rum cocktail, that’ll be my cozy nightcap as I lay comatose on the couch.
Rush River Brewing Company Scenic Pale Ale, Keith Grauman, Web Editor
How does the old saying go again? “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other, gold.” With 12 years in business, Rush River isn’t quite an elder statesman of the local craft beer scene, but they’ve got a solid eight to 10 years on many of the breweries operating today. If you’re around my age (32), Bubble Jack was probably one of your early introductions to IPA. Recently, Rush River was hosting a tasting at my local liquor store, and having not had much of their beer recently I told the rep who was pouring to line ‘em up. I was impressed with just about everything I tried, but it was a six-pack of Scenic Pale Ale (5% ABV, 25 IBU) that made its way home with me that day. Citra and Mosaic hops combine for a bright, tropical, mildly bitter pale ale that I’m going to keep drinking through fall in hopes of staving off stout season just a little while longer.
Bunnahabhain 18 Year Old Single Malt Scotch, Brian Kaufenberg, Managing Editor
The 18-year-old expression from this seaside distillery on the Scottish island of Islay will make a believer out of anyone who likes whiskey, but not Scotch whisky. Unlike other Islays, which can be too salty for some, Bunnahabhain 18 has a sweet, brown sugar and light peat aroma with just a hint of the salty ocean breeze that blows into the 135-year-old distillery. Fans of Belgian dubbels will be drawn into this whisky’s flavor. Salted caramel, smoke, and toffee vie for dominance on the palate and give way to a mildly spicy and sherry-laden finish. It’s full-bodied and slick on the palate making it a perfect fireside sipper.
Bad Weather Brewing, Galactic Tide, Joseph Alton, Editor In Chief
I had planned on suggesting a spirit this month to stay in line with the issue theme, but this is simply my favorite time of year to drink beer and this one might not be around a whole lot longer so I wanted to give you a heads up before it was too late. Bad Weather’s Galactic Tide is a rye porter. It pours dark brown, almost black, with a khaki head. The nose offers notes of cocoa, coffee, and a hint of molasses. A full bodied, creamy mouthfeel fills the palate with a rich and roasty, but nicely balanced porter with just the right amount of rye spice and a super clean, dry finish. The only drawback to this beer is that it’s taproom only, so you’ll have to visit their St. Paul brewery to try it. Trust me though, it’s worth the trip, and they’ve got it on nitro right now if you hurry.