Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Good Night for Mead

Today, Sunday, seemed like a bit of a slow day. I started off with a breakfast date with my wife, Tracy, as we went to King's in West Sacramento for the region's best dim sum - and this region includes San Francisco from what I can tell. If ever you're visiting Sacramento for a weekend, check them out on a Saturday or Sunday from 11 - 1... if you like authentic ethnic foods, you'll not be disappointed.

After brunch, well, the day got a bit more domestic, with laundry, dishes and general cleaning required after several weekends in a row on the road. In mid-afternoon I rested for a bit with a can of Caldera's IPA, the best IPA in a can I've discovered. Caldera Brewing is out of Ashland, Oregon, and aren't much to look at - a warehouse facility with dock sales only on Friday evenings (the last I checked). If you're planning a trip to the region, maybe you'd like to take in a play at the world-famous Shakespeare Festival down the street, you'll need to call ahead and see if you can't try what they have available at the time - their Dry Hopped Orange, the Caldron Brew and, well, just about everything they have rocks. The IPA, in particular, is a joy from the get-go, with a massive citrusy hop aroma exploding as soon as the can is cracked. Pouring a deep golden color, the beer also shows off a frothy white head with good retention. There's little in the way of sweetness here, but the massive hop character doesn't seem over-the top, somehow. Sadly, I have only one can of this beer left (good thing I'm scheduled to return to Southern Oregon next week).

Tonight I wanted to have a nice night with Tracy, so I made a wonderfully rubbed pork loin (broiled 10 minutes per side, then cooked at 375 degrees till done), with a side of applesauce from a local orchard and crisp green beans (seasoned with fresh ground lemon pepper). To compliment the meal I pulled out a bottle of 2004 Redstone Mead with Juniper berries. Oh, you can follow that link and buy this online!

The mead is part of Redstone's Mountain Honey Wine series, which means it is a 12% ABV still mead (no carbonation), aged a bit before they're even released to market. I picked my bottle up in Portland's Belmont Station, back when they were still located next to Horse Brass, and was inspired to finally open it after making my first trip to the meadery last week during the GABF festivities.

My goodness this is a good mead.

If you've never tried a mead, or honey wine, I suggest you fix this, and as soon as possible! When properly made, like this is, you'll get strong honey notes in the flavor and aroma, but you won't find a cloyingly sweet product - as you might expect. This particular mead has a strong peppery spice to it, and the juniper is understated to the point you might miss it if you weren't looking for it. Additionally, a well made mead will go great with a meal, such as the one described above, or on its own (I'm still sipping mine as I watch the Red Socks inch closer to another World Series). Finally, meads are so easy to make at home, you really ought to try and discover the hobby for yourself. I think, and this is my opinion here, that meads of 10+% ABV are at their best at three years, and will continue to be wonderful for five to seven years (seven is pushing it, only with higher alcohol meads).

I'd like to say thank you to Rick and Dick at Big Foamy Head, the beer, blues and bbq podcast, for giving me the rub I used for tonight's pork loin. The rub, for the rest of you, is called Rendezvous Famous Seasoning, and was perfect for the meat. I applied the rub about 5 hours prior to cooking, it was too easy for a meal that good.