Lagunitas Maximus IPA, Limited Release
This is an interesting take on the style with a decidedly different flavor profile, in which the sweet malt flavors come first, lingering for a while before the bitterness kicks in. From then on, it's all about the hops—rather aggressive but with a clean, citrus-zest quality that's nicely persistent and helps to balance things out. It's got a sort of a Jekyll and Hyde thing going on here—very intriguing and somewhat addictive. Despite the Lagunitas crew's admonishment that "Life is Uncertain. Don't Sip," this one, weighing in at almost 8 percent alcohol, requires some caution.
Terminal Gravity Brewing IPA
Wallowa is Oregon's most northeastern county, bordered by Washington and Idaho. Though I've never been there, my understanding is that it's quite beautiful territory, home to the Hell's Canyon National Recreation Area. Beer-wise, it's home to Terminal Gravity Brewing. I know this because everyone who has visited the facility raves about their brews. They opened in 1996, but until last year produced only kegs. Since last November, their very popular IPA has been available in bottles, and at long last, it has hit the Boise market. A deliciously hazy, copper-colored brew with a light but persistent creamy froth on top, it's not overly carbonated. The flavors emphasize the citrusy hops up front that wed nicely with the soft, caramel-laced malt. It's a clean, well-balanced brew with a velvety finish that was worth the wait.
2006 Seeberger Riesling, $16.99
I love the idea of wine in a box. You get from four to six bottles-worth in a container with a long shelf life, even after it's opened. You see them on the grocery store shelves, and while the packaging is great, the product quality leaves something to be desired. That's not the case in Europe and Australia, where the choices are much better and more diverse. The other thing I love, especially in summer, is a cool glass of crisp and refreshing Riesling. Well, now I can enjoy both. The Seeberger Riesling is the real deal from the Pfalz region of Germany, and it comes in a box. For about the same price as a single bottle of decent Riesling, you get three liters of very drinkable wine with honeyed peach aromas and ripe peach and apricot fruit flavors. The finish has just a hint of sweetness, but it's nicely balanced by crisp acidity. Low in alcohol (10 percent) but big on flavor, it's the perfect summer quaff.