Pink ale and other brews I’ve enjoyed recently


This past weekend, our glorious nation was awash in green beer. I meanwhile found myself tasting a pink ale. Before you judge—hear me out.

I was making my way through the grocery store, cart overflowing with jugs of milk, Goldfish crackers, string cheese, and all the fine eats a father of four could be expected to purchase. My three-year old was relentlessly pleading for me to get him a doughnut from the bakery. So. Much. Winning.

And there she was: a brunette rep for Old Ox Brewery of Virginia. Pouring samples. 

Admittedly, the bright pink color gave me pause, but I was desperate.

What a pleasant surprise. This saison ale (5% alcohol by volume) is dry and pleasant, and the cherry juice they used adds only a gentle fruity aroma. A treacly beer Old Ox Festivale Cherry Saison is not. I bought a four-pack of the 16-ounce cans.

Pink beer is not the only interesting beer I have stumbled on to recently. Bell’s Oarsman Ale was a pleasant surprise. I have enjoyed their stouts and hearty ales, and this “tart wheat beer” (4% ABV) is a peach that will be especially enjoyable once the mercury gets above 70 degree.

After reading so many doom and gloom predictions about Sam Adams’ future, it was nice to see the folks at Boston Beer Company bring out a new brew that is receiving acclaim. Sam ‘76 (4.7% ABV) is billed as a cross between lager and ale. I bought a 12-pack for $16, and enjoyed it so much that I nabbed another.

Speaking of well-known brands doing something different, Guinness offers a Rye Pale Ale. As best I can tell, folks either love it or hate it. This light-bodied beer (5% ABV) is a touch sour, herbal, and definitely shows the rye. Most peculiar!

Last among my recent beer-ventures is Grand Teton Brewing Company’s Double Vision Dopplebock. I’ve previously raved about other Grand Teton beers, but I tried not to set my hopes high before I took a sip of this brew. Which proved needless, because… Oh. My. Goodness. This potent, dark lager (8% ABV) from Montana floods the mouth with chocolate and coffee notes. The more Double Vision warms, the richer the flavors become.

Kevin R. Kosar is the author of Whiskey: A Global History and Moonshine: A Global History. He is the editor and founder of This column also was published by the American Spectator.


Touring the American Whiskey Trail, Day 1

Worker about to grind grain at George Washington’s Mount Vernon distillery. Photo credit: Kevin R. Kosar

Where better to start a tour of the American Whiskey Trail than at Mount Vernon? George Washington often has been called the father of our grand nation — the prototype of this new man, the American.

Appropriately, he owned a distillery that made whiskey. Washington got into the business at the end of his presidency. In 1797 he gave the thumbs-up to Scotsman James Anderson to build a distillery at his beloved Virginia home to produce high-quality hooch.

And what a distilling operation it was. The mill powdered grain with millstones imported from Europe and marvelous wooden machinery that marvels the eye today. The distillery was 75 feet long by 30 feet wide, with five stills. Within a couple years, George’s booze barn was belching 10,500 gallons of rye whiskey and other spirits, and it was profitable.

Continue reading “Touring the American Whiskey Trail, Day 1”


Horton Vineyards Norton 2012


Go ahead, expand you palate. Try this bargain ($13) Norton from Virginia. It will changes your mind about the possibilities if red wine. Fruit bombs are increasingly the norm. The Norton grape, which Todd Kliman waxed eloquent about in The Wild Vine, is a different animal. This Norton is simple and worth a try. (Rating: Good) Read more at

When you want to try a more intense, complex, and pricey Norton, give Chrysalis Vineyard’s version a try.


Wines We Have Enjoyed Recently

The passage of  the summer heat and humidity reinvigorated our palate’s taste for wine.  We have been drinking boradly of late, without focus on any particular grape, style, or nations.

Ecco Domani Moscato 2011: Ecco Domani is a mega-produced, bargain brand that can be found nearly anywhere in the United States. The price point (about $10), stylish packaging, good quality, and relentless advertising has helped Ecco Domani attain its ubiquity. This moscato was enjoyable—it was thick with peach and a little sweet. (Rating ***1/2) You may read more about this wine at

Gruet Brut Blanc De Noirs Sparkling Wine: We reviewed this wine four years ago. We really liked it then, and we still like it. Who knew New Mexico could produce such fine wine?!  It remains a great deal for $15. For further details, surf to

Chrysalis Vineyards Estate Bottled Norton 2006: We bought this for $23 a couple years ago after reading Todd Kliman’s The Wild Vine, which tells the story of the Norton grape and Chrysalis Vineyards.  (Listen to our interview with Todd here.)  Some of the Norton wine peddled in middle america for $10 is cheap, thin, grapey stuff. Not this one. It is an inky deep, robust wine with a slight musk to it.  We enjoyed this with our Thanksgiving turkey, with which it paired marvelously. (Rating ****1/2) You can learn more about Chrysalis wines at

You may shop for these all of these wines at our preferred retailer.