The Session #59: I Almost Always Drink Beer, But When I Don’t…

The SessionIt’s the first Friday of the month, and among beer bloggers that means today is the day of The Session: a collaborative beer blogging effort where a given host for the month chooses a topic, and everyone who participates contributes a post using that topic as inspiration.

This month our host is Mario Rubio of Brewed for Thought, and he’s chosen a theme that is less beer related than you might think: I almost always drink beer, but when I don’t…

So as we are all incredibly interesting people, and almost always drink beer, let’s talk about what we drink when not drinking beer. Maybe your passion for coffee rivals that of craft beer, or it could be another alcoholic beverage such as scotch. My daughter being a root beer fan would appreciate her dad reviewing a few fizzy sodas. Maybe you have a drink that takes the edge off the beer, be it hair of the dog or a palate cleanser during the evening.

Beer cocktails, wines, ciders, meads, you name it as long as it’s not beer. Try to tie it in with craft beer in some way for extra credit. Be creative and I’ll see you guys in the new year.

“When not drinking beer…” As hard as it might be to believe to someone who visits this blog regularly, I do not drink beer all the time. There are a number of alcoholic drinks I enjoy as occasional alternatives—spicy complex red wines, rustic dry whites, spicy rum, silky tequila—but the one type of drink I immediately thought of (as did many beer drinkers, I imagine) that I tend to gravitate towards is a natural for beer enthusiasts: whiskey.

It’s obvious, really, since whiskeys are for all intents and purposes distilled from beer. There are of course subsets of whiskey (which is primarily made from barley and aged in charred wood): Scotch (multiple distillations and aged at least 3 years in oak), bourbon (at least 51% corn), rye whiskey (at least 51% rye), and so on. In many ways I’m still very much a novice when it comes to whiskeys, so I’m always interested in trying new ones.

Whiskeys (Evan Williams Single Barrel and Oregon Spirits Distillers)When it comes to a regular whiskey—or, as it happens in my case, a bourbon—my “go to” is usually Evan Williams. Part of the reason, I admit, is that it’s inexpensive, especially when compared to Jack Daniels (for instance); but I found, once I started drinking it, that I quite enjoyed it and I feel in many ways it’s as good as (if not better) than some of the more expensive bourbons that I’ve tried. Their green label—a traditional 80-proof spirit—tends to be a staple in my cabinet, though I also have an excellent bottle of Single Barrel Vintage (seen in the picture) that my brother gave me for Christmas a year ago. I’ve been savoring that one, drawing it out, very much enjoying the vanilla and oaky character it possesses.

The other whiskey bourbon you’ll notice in my picture there is local: Oregon Spirit Distillers, based here in Bend, has been in operation for only a few years and while vodka is their primary product (2011 also saw a rum, an absinthe, and two cordials produced), they released their first bourbon late this past year. Being the budding liquor geek that I am (of course we already know that I’m a beer geek!) naturally I picked up a bottle; and while even I recognize that it’s a “hot” and young bourbon, I can tell there’s a lot of potential in there, and it’s vastly interesting to hold onto a bottle and taste it periodically as it matures.

Of course this is all just the tip of the iceberg; like beer, whiskey is a deep subject that can take years to explore—for instance, Michael Jackson, the Beer Hunter, also wrote a number of authoritative books on whiskey over the years. While I won’t forgo beer for the harder spirits, I still continue to explore and enjoy this other world and anytime you don’t see a beer in my hand there’s a reasonable chance there’s a bottle of whiskey nearby…