Bar Tab: Top Drinks for the Weekend
by Erin James
Welcome back to Sip Northwest’s Bar Tab, our editor’s bi-weekly list of what to drink in the Northwest now. Come on in, belly up to the counter and order a digital drink on us.
Willamette Valley Vineyards 2014 Grower Series Brut, Willamette Valley | Every day is a good day to drink Oregon sparkling wine. Another producer to bottle some bubbly in the valley, Willamette Valley Vineyards uses estate-grown Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in this méthode champenoise sparkler, where the wine undergoes secondary fermentation in the bottle and is aged on its lees for 18 months. Complexity develops here without losing its buoyant vibrancy, a key characteristic of sparkling wine, showcasing notes of green apple, sweet biscuit and white flower among juicy stone fruit on the palate. Just bottled in November, this wine hits its stride with the second glass, revealing aromas and flavors of hazelnut, apricot and croissant.
Chuckanut Bay Distillery Vodka | When it comes to vodka, there’s little a producer can do to differentiate the spirit itself, and accomplishing such a stark variation isn’t necessarily a good thing. However, as “grain to glass” carries on as a praised mantra throughout the distilling community, using local product to make the local spirit can be the distinction needed with the neutral liquor. Take Chuckanut Bay Distillery from Bellingham, Washington: the white winter wheat for the grain vodka is grown up the road in the same county, plus it is ground, mashed and fermented onsite. Distilled several times, filtered and proofed down, the result is easily accessible for all forms of consumption, clean with sweet rice-like flavors and a light, bouncy finish.
Block 15 Brewing Co. Bière de Garde | Brewer-owned and -operated since doors opened in 2008, the Corvallis, Oregon, brewery has swelled from its seven-barrel brewhouse to a trio of brewpub locations. This malty, honeyed farmhouse-style ale is fermented with Trappist yeast, producing a filling thirst-quencher with delicate aromatics. A heftier version of a traditionally (slightly) lower ABV beer, Block 15 balances the weight with soft bitterness from European hops and finishes the malt-forward flavor profile dry and clean. Sample at one of the three locations, maybe next to a basket of crispy beer-battered fries.
North Idaho Cider Logger | If you’ve already read the new print issue of Sip Northwest cover-to-cover (of course you have!), then you are familiar with cider and oak-aging: the centuries-old tradition of aging and transporting cider in oak vessels. North Idaho in Couer d’Alene, Idaho, takes that time-honoring nostalgia a step further by paying respects to the area’s timber industry and ages their base cider with American oak and pine. Fragrant and woodsy, it’s hard not to picture an apple tree in the middle of a towering green thicket, with sharp and dry apple notes playing second fiddle to the vanilla and pine flavors in the finish.

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