Monday, May 31, 2010

This Is What I Drink : 38


There are many important decisions to make in this election year, but is there any more important than deciding what the next Mountain Dew flavor will be? Not by my standards. Dewmocracy is one of my favorite soda marketing gimmicks of all time. If there's anything I love, it's weirdo flavors that only exist for a limited time. It's pretty rare that a company will put out three brand new flavors at once, with one of those actually staying on the shelves. So who will win my official endorsement? Read on.

Distortion ("Lime Blasted" Dew)

Hmm, this one looks suspicious from the get-go. It looks exactly like regular Mountain Dew. That's not my kind of gimmick. According the bottle, all of the packaging was designed by "Dew fan" so and so. I'm not really impressed with any of the designs. They're just really tame. As for the taste of Distortion, well it certainly isn't exactly like regular Mt. Dew, but it's not different enough. It has a harder lime edge than the standard, but I've had other lime-based sodas that have brought more flavor than this. I just can't throw my support behind this candidate. It's a little bit too much of the same. We need change in Dewland.

Typhoon ("Tropical Punch" Dew)

Okay, by the looks of this it has potential. I feel like design is still nothing special but at least the color is different from standard dew although Code Red has been red before obviously. I couldn't quite put my finger on exactly what this was supposed to be, but my colleague Joe put his nose to it and it smelled a lot like former limited edition Taco Bell only flavor, Baja Blast. And voila, that was it! I think this stuff is a covert slight recreation of Baja Blast which I unceremoniously dismissed as awful a few years ago. There's something chemical twinge to the flavor that just isn't appetizing. This is like a president running for a third time, sorry Baj...Typhoon, you're finished.

White Out ("Smooth Citrus" Dew)

Here we have The Great White Hope. First of all, the bottle design is slightly more interesting here. It's still nothing special, but what I like even more is the actual color of the soda. The cloudy white is something fairly unique to soda, especially the mainstream. Taste-wise, I knew exactly what this was. It's a grapefuit/lemon-lime combo in the vein of Fresca or Squirt. That isn't really original in any fashion, but I'll say that it's a surprise and a fairly subtle flavor from the Mountain Dew brand. They're usually too bold and extreme for my taste, but White Out is not so heavy handed, so it's pretty enjoyable.

So you might have already guessed, but This Is What I Drink is officially endorsing WHITE OUT for Dewmocracy. Go out and vote because I told you so! Actually, I don't care that much. I really don't drink that much Mt. Dew anyway, so I probably won't buy this stuff. Oh well, voting is fun.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

This Is What I Drink : 37

Diet Pepsi

I'd say this is a bit of an oddball entry for me. I haven't been in to diet sodas in a long time. For the most part, if I want something that has zero calories, I'll just drink some water or unsweetened iced tea. If I get the craving for soda, I'll just go for pro and get the sugary full calorie version. However, my dad pretty much exclusively drinks diet soda, so whenever I'm over at his house I get a strange craving for it. A lot of times he has the weird flavored ones too. Diet Pepsi with cherry or lime or whatever, but this time it was just the standard flagship product.

I actually find it really hard to describe exactly what a diet cola tastes like. The basic flavor is very familiar to me, but I can't really explain it. Diet sodas "taste like diet." It's a really funny phrase, but that's what fake sugar will do, it creates its own category. I believe Diet Pepsi uses the "aspartame" sweetener, which was pretty standard for a while, but has been challenged by Stevia and Splenda recently. Anyway, the diet beverage market is a pretty huge category, but there's something unsettling about it for some reason. Drinking all the fake stuff may keep the calories away, but still can't imagine that it's great for you in other ways.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

This Is What I Drink : 36

Trader Joe's Vintage Cola

I was pleasantly surprised to browse Trader Joe's the other day and see that they now have their own brand of premium sodas. The display claimed to have such varieties as root beer and ginger ale (possibly more?), but cola and orange cream were the only ones available that day. Cola (or maybe root beer, I'll get it next time) has always been the mark of a brand for me. If their cola is good, there's a decent chance the rest of the line will probably be alright as well.

We'll start with the packaging. It's not great, but not bad either. I suppose it's just a tad generic? I guess a store brand cola is technically a generic brand, but I expect more from Trader Joe's for some reason. Anyway, they get their point across with such a vintage font. As per the formulation, it thankfully uses cane sugar. I'm not sure I would've even bought it if it didn't; I'm a snob that way. There's no caffeine which is a slight surprise though it's that that uncommon in a premium cola. Taste-wise I'd say it's just slightly above average for a premium cola. It doesn't stray far from the basics and it's generally too sweet with 40 grams of sugar per bottle. It's priced reasonably at $4 a four pack. Not too bad, and I'll probably try some of the other varieties just because I'll be shopping there fairly frequently.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

This Is What I Drink : 35

Dunkin' Dark

So recently Dunkin' Donuts has really been pushing their new "Dunkin' Dark" iced coffee which is presumably a darker roast. I've already given my less than enthusiastic thoughts about regular Dunkin' iced coffee, but I thought that this new version deserved a try. It's also because Tuesday was FREE ICED COFFEE day at DDs in my area, so it didn't cost me a penny.

I'll give the 'ol DD credit, this stuff is actually better than regular DD iced coffee. Despite the employee still putting in more cream than I wanted, there was actually a pretty decent coffee aftertaste after a sip through the straw. I feel like with regular DD I just taste creamy water. With Dunkin' Dark, it's like creamy water with a hint of actual coffee. Of course, like with most superior products, (Pepsi's throwback series another recent example) Dunkin' Dark is only available for a limited time. It's still not the best coffee, but I'll probably be ordering this stuff instead of the alternative while it's available.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

This Is What I Drink : 34

Brew X 4

So it's been a slow month in terms of updates my far. Totally my B. That's not to say I haven't been drinking stuff. I certainly have. There should be a few more things coming as soon as I get to it. Today there's four more beers that I've enjoyed recently. Three of them stouts, of course.

Weyerbacher Heresy Imperial Stout (Aged in Oak Barrels)

This is probably the perfect beer bait for me. Not only is it an imperial stout, but it's also aged in oak barrels which gives it a distinct whiskey-ish flavor. Since bourbon also happens to be my favorite spirit, everything adds up here to be an all-time favorite for me. I thought it was great. It was super easy to drink at 8% ABV and had some really nice coffee, chocolate, and vanilla flavors. All of this lead to a really nice bourbon after-taste which is exactly how I imagined it should be. Definitely one of my new favorites (also from nearby Easton, PA which is always good), though it's fairly pricey at $15.99 for just four bottles. Probably better to only have it once in a while anyway.

Green Flash Stout

Another imperial stout, surprise surprise. This one was again super drinkable despite the 8.8% ABV with all of the great bitter chocolate and coffee flavors you'd expect from a good stout. This one poured and felt a bit thicker than the Heresy, but it certainly held its own. I've had a couple of other beers from Green Flash (Vista, CA) and I'm slowly becoming a fan after having this one.

Allagash White

Ahh, finally something a bit lighter. Really much lighter and completely different than the first two beers reviewed, the weather had just gotten nice enough to break out a wheat beer. You can see the cloudiness of the beer above in picture three due to the fact that the beer is unfiltered. I've gotta say that this was one of the better I've had of this style. Very citrusy, crisp, and spicy all at once, this hits you with intense flavors without having to be high alcohol (only about 5.2%). This is definitely the perfect beer for the summer, but I was a bit bummed about the price which I believe was about $9 for just four bottles. I suppose it takes some craftsmanship, but I would've liked to get six beers out of it. Oh well, it's still good.

Southern Tier Jah-va Stout

Back to the dark side with another freaking imperial stout. Even I'm getting kind of bored of talking about them, but it's tough to change taste, eh? Anyway, I didn't understand the name of this beer when I first picked it up, but then I read the side of the label. It goes on to explain that they got the coffee beans used in the brew from Jamaica. So there you have that. In terms of Java stouts, this one clearly outshines the Troeg's one that I reviewed a little while ago. At 10% and with a huge jolt of coffee flavor, it's pretty impressive. It's pretty easy to drink especially if you like coffee, because you'll get a lot of that flavor. I'd probably get this one again, and the Southern Tier bomber/Blackwater series has continued to earn my dollars for good reason. Most of them have been great.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

This Is What I Drink : 33

Sunkist Solar Fusion Floats

Hmm...The float is such an interesting category. Much of the debate was this; is the float really a beverage? While there was a spoon involved I would say that I drank (with no need of spoon), probably 70% of it, including melted ice cream. I just feel like the combination of soda and partially melted ice cream makes it more beverage than not, but I understand the counter argument as well.

Anyway, I feel like the real star here is the "tropical mandarin" flavored soda. The other star is our friend Doug (seen in video 2), who is clearly a master float maker. One last star to Jon for chugging a float just for the heck of it (seen in video 1) This is probably the first float I've had in at least 6 or 7 years, and it might be the best one I've ever had. I've had root beer floats and "brown cows" before, but this is my first float involving a citrus soda and it was fantastic. Obviously this flavor is the inspiration for the Creamsicle (or vice versa?) and it was definitely the ideal treat for a warm late spring night. I feel like there might be more floats to follow this year.

This Is What I Drink : 32

Another Beer Sampler

Hmm, this blog seems to be getting a little beer heavy lately, but I'll try to change that up with a couple more non-beer posts soon, but for now, a few more beers.

21st Amendment Brewery's Brew Free or Die! IPA

Another canned microbrew joins the fray, this time from San Francisco. One of the great things about this beer is the packaging, which I regret not taking a picture of now that I think about it. Basically it comes in a mini-cardboard six-pack like you'd see a soda 12-pack of. Basically, it's packaging I've never really seen in the beer world. As for the beer itself, it's definitely a solid golden IPA. At 7% it's got a nice kick with the hops and overall it's pretty fruity and sweet like a lot of the recent IPAs I've had. It goes down pretty smoothly and it's nice that it's starting to feel more normal to drink good beer out of a can (more to come this post!)

Four + Brewing's Monkshine Belgian Pale Ale

Why does this company call itself "4 +"? Well, they are located in Salt Lake City, Utah where all beer served in bars must not be beyond 3.2% alcohol. It's an interesting law, but probably not a place where you would think of starting a brewery. I had tried a couple of other styles from them and had not been very impressed. Both of the others had been barely over 4.5% ABV, so I felt like that was my reason. Monkshine, however weighs in at 6.8%, so I was once again intrigued. I'll admit that I don't have much experience in the Belgian Pale Ale category, but this beer was fairly interesting. It had a very clean, yet sour taste to it. I'm still kind of shocked that it was 6.8% as it tasted more like 4%. Sometimes that would be good, but in this case I felt like it contributed to a lack of flavor. Perhaps it's just not my favorite style, but I'm not sure I'd give 4 + another chance after this most recent experience.

Butternut's Heinnieweisse Weissebier

One more canned microbrew, this time from some dudes in Garrattsville, New York. I apologize for the very blurry picture, but there may be a better one here. I believe this may be the first hefeweisen that I've reviewed for the blog and unfortunately I can't say that it's a great one. For some reason I just didn't quite get the flavor I usually expect from a wheat beer. That's not always a bad thing, but in this case it tasted a bit more like a lager which was a tad deceptive. It's probably a beer I'd like to try again, along with some of their other styles.