Contain your excitement: Bar Tab has returned and you now know what to drink again, even at 10 a.m.! After a five-month hiatus (we were busy!), we welcome you back to Sip Northwest’s bi-weekly selection of what to drink in the Northwest now, written by our editor to enhance your (responsible) imbibing habits. Now that fall is officially here, let’s drink to the changing of seasons, in spite of randomly spiked 80-degree days still on the forecast.
Admiralty Distillers 2015 Eau de Vie Apple Brandy || Around this time each year, you can find former carpenter-turned-distiller Jake Soule foraging through the residential apple trees of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula for his 2017 harvest. His mission: ripe apples primed for distilling into his vintage-dated fruit brandy. His 150-gallon steam-fired German pot still was built with aromatics and distilling solids (like apple mash) in mind, which allows this apple blend to showcase its terroir, varietal characteristics and vintage. The 2015 Apple Brandy is fragrant with golden ripe and tart green apple aromas, bringing the green onto the palate, which finishes with a slow burn and flavors of spiced apple sauce.
Illahe Vineyards 2014 Project 1899 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley || This wine takes dedication to the craft to the next level. By only using methods that would have been used in 1899, winemaker Brad Ford decided to produce this wine as naturally as possible. All the fruit was carted by horse, put through a hand-cranked de-stemmer, fermented in oak through native yeast, punched down by a foot-stomp, hand-pressed in a basket press, racked by a bicycle-powered pump and aged in barrel for two years in a wine cave. One step further, instead of distributing the packaged wine by truck, Ford and team took an eight mule-led stagecoach to the Willamette River and shuttled via canoe to Portland — 96 river miles. Worth the haul, dark, ripe strawberry and black cherries fruits impart to savory black olive, mushroom and cola notes. Moderate acid and lean structural tannins shape a medium-body, finishing with a hint of hazelnut and finesse.
Counterbalance Brewing Co. Kushetka Russian Imperial Stout || Kushetka — or kyшетка with Russian characters — literally translates to “fainting couch” in English. Counterbalance co-owner Jeff Howell says this title came from several discussions over Russian linguistics while drinking this beer, a friend noting he’d “end up [on the couch] one way or another” after finishing a pint or two. Built on Pale, Munich, Black Patent and Chocolates malts, roasted and flaked barley and Columbus and Willamette hops, there is almost as much going on in this robust stout as there is on the palate. Silky and warm like the fur on a traditional ushanka hat, roasty malt-forward aromas lead to flamboyant yet balanced malt flavors, each sip slipping through roasted, toasted, browned and chocolate-coated flavors. Bittering hops clean up the richness in the finish and envelop the palate in more depths of flavor, like a drinkable matryoshka doll.
Wandering Aengus Ciderworks Golden Russet || The Golden Russet — an old American apple cultivar named for its russeted (rough, reddish-brown) skin and adored for its juicy, flavorful flesh — dates back 1840s New York State. In Oregon, the apple is seen here and there, falling out of fashion as an eating apple in recent years but back in as a cider apple. The Salem-based Wandering Aengus receives its Golden Russets from orchards in Ashland, producing this cider in small batches that highlight the variety. Big, robust characteristics of ripe golden fruits, from apple to pineapple and passion fruit, swing into fresher whiffs of pear skin and warm pie spices. Fleshy juice floods the palate with a twinge of acid in the off-dry finish.