Flying Dog Dead Rise Old Bay Summer Ale

Craft breweries are constantly evolving and becoming increasingly collaborative. Many breweries are actively seeking innovative ingredients that would never have been considered for a beer in the past and brewing new beers with other craft breweries and non-brewery partners.

This summer, Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick, Maryland has done both by teaming up with Old Bay–the classic Maryland spice mix–to create a new summer beer, brewed with Old Bay. The result is Dead Rise Old Bay Summer Ale. It is a very drinkable ale with hints of spice on the nose (from the old bay), mild ale hoppiness, and a spicy finish that pairs well with food.

Food makes a big difference with the beer. The first time I tried it alone and it had a spicy aftertaste. The second time, I had it with a burger. It was much smoother and less spicy paired with food. Either way you consume it, you should try it. (Very Good)

This brew goes for about $8.99 for a six pack of 12 ounce bottles. Read more at

Hall Winery T Bar T Ranch Alexander Valley Sauvignon Blanc

Hall Napa Valley T Bar T Ranch Alexander Valley Sauvignon Blancby Jacob

Wine is always a welcome gift, it gives us the opportunity to try something new and to learn more about wines that entice our family and friends.
A bottle of the 2010 Hall Winery T Bar T Ranch Alexander Valley Sauvignon Blanc came as a gift from my brother after his trip to Napa Valley last year. Hall is winery that I have heard a lot about from other friends, but never had the chance to try.
The $30 wine is a light straw color in the glass and smells great, with a bright floral and citrus (lemon) nose. It is a complex Sauvignon Blanc that almost tastes as if it was aged for a short time in oak barrels, as it has a combination of citrus and light oak. Unlike many New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc’s, it does not have the grass flavor that so often comes with the grape. Hall has done a great job of mellowing the wine.
If you have the chance to try it, go for it—the 2012 is still available! It is excellent. (Rating: Very Good)

Cameron Hughes Lot 291 Lodi Zinfandel 2010

by Jacob

Several years ago, I had the chance to review a sample box of Cameron Hughes wines from Overall, those tastings were a positive experience and made me want to try more of Cameron Hughes’ wines. Cameron Hughes is an interesting winery. Instead of owning vineyards or sourcing fruit from the same places year after year, the Cameron Hughes winery locates the best available grapes and makes them into wine labeled by lot. As the winery explains:

The Lot Series of wines preserves the ultra-premium quality of the original Lot by bottling it unadulterated and never “back-blended.” Each Lot is numbered to maintain the integrity of the original wine. While each Lot varies in case quantities and price, it always delivers exceptional value.

Recently, I had the chance to buy some Cameron Hughes wine from for about $10 bottle, including shipping. The first bottle I opened was the 2010 Cameron Hughes Lot 291 Lodi Zinfandel. The wine is bottled with a cork and has a nose of bright dark cherry with just a hint of spice. The wine is young and has almost no tannins and is jammy in the glass with more dark cherry flavor and a peppery finish (typical of zinfandel). At a little less than $10 a bottle and available at Costco, Safeway and other merchants, this is a wine to search out (15% alcohol). (Rating **** 1/2).


Port City Brewing Company’s Ales

by Jacob

Eating and drinking local products has become popular in recent years. In an effort to support some of our local producers, I recently sampled three beers from Port City Brewing Company, which is located in Alexandria, Virginia. Founded in 2011, Port City strives to “…be a reliable and innovative regional brewer of top quality beers that are delicious and well balanced, made from the finest ingredients available, and which celebrate their raw materials,” and currently makes four beers, a pale ale, a wit, an IPA, and a porter. Below are my reviews of all but the porter, which I have not yet tried.

Optimal Wit (5%) – Typical of many Belgian style white ales (which it is), the Optimal Wit is a cloudy golden color in the glass, has lemon notes on the nose, and tastes of banana and light orange. It is an effervescent beer that would be ideal to drink on a hot summer day (Rating ****).

Essential Pale Ale (5.5%) – Golden and almost pilsner looking in the glass, the Essential Pale Ale has an apricot and grain (hops) nose with mild hops and a slightly bitter and dry finish (Rating ****)

Monumental IPA (6.3%) – The Monumental IPA looks unfiltered and golden in the glass and has a hoppy, apricot and pit fruit nose. This is a very smooth beer that is not overhopped on first sip. Instead, the hops build on you and provide a nice and hoppy and dry finish. This was my favorite of the lot! (Rating ****1/2).

More information on Port City Brewing Company and how to visit it are available at:


LaChapelle De La Bastide Picpol de Pinet 2010

by Jacob

Over the summer, I took a trip to Rodman’s in Washington, DC to pick up some white wines. I mostly bought Sauvignon Blanc with the intention of drinking them within six months.  The other night, we had a friend over for dinner and opened the last bottle to pair with salmon.  Much to my surprise, this wine was not Sauvignon Blanc, but made from a grape named Picpoul de Pinet or Piquepoul and made in Languedoc in France.  This is not a grape with which I am familiar, but I always love to try new varietals.

Bottled in a Riesling-style bottle (think green, tall, and narrow), the 2010 LaChapelle De La Bastide Picpol de Pinet had a nose of green apple and light citrus (lemon, maybe tangerine) and was a light straw color.  On the palate, the wine continues the nose of green apple and combines it with pineapple and some floral notes in the taste and moderate alcohol at 12.5%.

After tasting the wine, I would place the Picpoul de Pinet grape somewhere between Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling.  This wine had earthy qualities found in Sauvignon Blanc and the effervescent and sweet notes found in Riesling.  (Rating ***1/2)


Pike Brewing Company Monk’s Uncle Tripel Ale

by Jacob

On a business trip last year, I had the chance to sample one of the many microbreweries in Seattle. Located next to the famed Pike Place Market, the Pike Brewing Company is an cool space that overlooks the water and offers a number of excellent beers. The night I was there, I sampled several, but one stood out for me, the Monk’s Uncle Tripel Ale.  After having it at the brewpub, I figured I wouldn’t get a chance to drink a Monk’s Uncle again unless I was back in Seattle.

On a recent trip to Total Wine in Virginia, however, I found out that Pike Brewing Company bottles their beers in 22 ounce bottles for $4.99! I bought a Monk’s Uncle, and it is just as good as I remember it.  An almost golden color in the glass, Monk’s Uncle has a subtle almost light raisin nose. It taste of apricot and yeast (somewhat bready) with virtually no aftertaste.  At 9% alcohol, it is a surprisingly smooth beer and deceptively light.  If you have a chance to buy it, you won’t regret it.  (Rating ****1/2).
You can read more about Monk’s Uncle and other Pike Brewing Company beers at: