Beers Answer For Summertime

For quite a while now, the craft beer scene has been dominated by strong, mega hoppy beers along with oak aged, high alcohol barley wines. With summer finally here, it is time to switch gears. We need a refreshing style that is crisp, has a bit of fruit notes and light. A beer that can truly cool us off on those humid days as well as pair with the lighter foods we tend to eat in the summertime. We need a beer that can do all of this yet still have some actual flavor! What is a beer connoisseur to do? A simple answer to the question is drink wheat beers.

hefecompWheat beer is just what it sounds like, a beer that is brewed with a large proportion of wheat relative to the amount of malted barley found in typical beers. The tastes of this style can vary depending on the style of wheat beer made. The main styles are Weiss bier and wit bier. There are also sour styles, the most popular of which is Lambic – usually flavored with fruit.

The two most common varieties of wheat beer are wit bier or white beer. It gets this name due to yeast and wheat still left in the beer that gives it a hazy or white appearance when cold. These typically follow the Belgian tradition of using additives such as coriander and orange peel. This is a tradition carried over from medieval beers which did not use hops, but used spices and plants as flavoring and preservatives. These beers are typically made with raw unmalted wheat as opposed to malted wheat used more often in other styles. These beers are typically very light in hops making these easy drinking and refreshing. In the past, these beers were somewhat sour, but modern styles are far less sour and feature more of the grain and fruit tastes. Great examples of this style are Alaskan White, Unibroue Blanche de Chambly and Leinenkugel’s Sunset Wheat.

The other common variety of wheat beer is Weiss bier or simply Weiss. Hefeweizen also falls into this classification. Hefe is German for yeast so Hefeweizen beers are typically unfiltered and possess a cloudy appearance. Filtered beers are called Kristallweizen. This are clean and crisp and don’t have as much of the wheat and fruit flavors. By German law these beers must be top-fermented and they use specialized strains of yeast that produce notes of banana and a touch of clove during the brewing process. You can even get flavors such as bubble gum and vanilla, especially in Hefe’s. Hefe’s are also especially light on the hops and have a more carbonated style which makes this a near perfect beer for the steamy months. Great examples of these are Erdinger, Weihenstephan and Paulaner. Also if you are looking for stronger darker styles, don’t forget bock beer. Typically found in the spring. Celebrator Bock is a great example.

1 Comment

Posted by on June 18, 2014 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , ,

The Beautifully Underrated Bourgueil


I have long maintained that the single most underrated region in the wine world is the Loire Valley. There are scores of unique wineries, growers, and grape varietals to be found here. This small area can lead us to discuss a whole myriad of wines. Today we will review a region in the heart of the Loire called Bourgueil.

The wines from this region are almost exclusively made from Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Franc, underrated in its own right, is a wonderful red grape full of character and vibrancy. Lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine tends to be a bright pale red wine with finesse and a touch of pepper on the nose. Along with pepper, well made wines can also include aromas of cassis, violets, tobacco, raspberry and maybe even cedar. The complexity of these wines along with well balanced acid and judicious oak make my mouth water!

Bourgueil soils contain a lot of gravel and sand along with some limestone. This combination allows the vines to have excellent drainage without the soil being too rich. The vines have to fight to survive, therefore the roots go deep and extract every ounce of love from the soil. This creates wines that are floral, fruity and complex and with age that can have a wonderful earthy element.  If you like a more up front, fruity style, you can drink these young, if complex earthy and leathery notes are your thing, age the wine for 10-20 years in a cool, dark place and you will be amazed at the complexity and melding of earth and fruit in the glass.  Pair reds from this area with pork tenderloin or grilled chicken. Bourgueil wines are also the ultimate burger wine!

Harder to find, but also beautiful are rose’s from this region. Only 5% of total production, these wines are fresh, vibrant yet still have the signature violet and peppery notes.

ImageAn awesome example of Bourgueil that won’t break the bank is Domaines des Ouches Bourgueil Igoranda.($20) Made by the Gambier brothers who represent the 8th generation of Gambiers making wine in Bourgueil! Over time, they have learned to master the region pulling grapes from various spots on the vineyard in order to make different styles. The Igoranda is elegant with cassis, tobacco combined with a flowery aroma of bing cherries and black raspberries. This wine is composed of fruit from the hillside. The Gambiers have noticed this plot takes longer to ripen, giving the wine more acid and complex fruit. While riskier and more expensive to produce, the results are beautiful!

Be daring and don’t ignore this unknown region. If you are a red wine fan, I think you will be surprised. While hard to find, it is worth the search!

Leave a comment

Posted by on May 30, 2014 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , ,

Tequila Time!

Tequila Time!

Summer is upon us, with that the margarita season has begun. Of course the most important ingredient of a margarita is Tequila! We all have or know someone with a horrible story about Tequila that probably makes many avoid it. Tequila, aside from being a great mixer for margaritas, when done well can make some of the finest spirits on earth. In my opinion, Tequila has the largest range of quality in the spirits world. Some of the best drinks I’ve had and also some of the worst drinks I have had have been Tequila.

What makes one Tequila taste great, and another that makes you queasy when you smell it? Like any fine spirit, it is the ingredients and also the type of ageing it goes through. The main ingredient in Tequila must be, by law, agave. Because of the famous red volcano soil around the town of Tequila and Jalisco, many believe that agave grows best here. By law, Tequila must come from this region.
The two basic categories of tequila are mixtos and 100% agave. Mixtos use no less than 51% agave, with other sugars making up the remainder. Jose Cuervo is the best known example of a Mixto. 100% agave Tequila must use 100% agave. Be careful, it must say 100% on the label. Some Tequila’s will simply say “made with agave”. These are not 100% agave Tequilas! The major flavor difference with 100% agave Tequila is that it is more vegetal, complex and usually smoother than mixtos.

The other major factor in making quality Tequila is the aging process. There are 5 categories that denote the amount of ageing. These terms are usually on the label.

  • Blanco or plata is white Tequila. It is unaged and bottled or stored immediately after distillation. It is usually stored in stainless steel or neutral oak barrels. While often times a bit harsher, many people prefer this style because it gives you a much more pure expression of the agave. Blanco is also the preferred type to mix in a margarita or other tequila drinks.
  • Joven or oro: this is unaged Blanco tequila that is colored and flavored with caramel
  • Reposado: aged a minimum of two months, but less than a year in oak barrels. The type and size of barrels may vary. Some prefer new oak barrels to impart a stronger oak flavor, others may use used whiskey or cognac barrels. Others may use huge barrels that will also weaken the oak flavors. The type of oak barrels is nearly endless. Each decision by the distiller can affect the taste of the Tequila. This is what makes Tequila so interesting!
  • Anejo: is aged for a minimum of one year, but less than three years in small oak barrels. They must use small barrels no larger than 158 gallons to impart a stronger oak influence
  • Extra Anejo: is aged a minimum of three years in oak. This is a relatively new category only established in 2006.

Reposado and anejo tequilas, because of the ageing process, are often smoother, subtler and much more complex than other types. This is because during the ageing process the Tequila will take on many of the characteristics of the wood it is aged on. Like many other spirits, the wood and ageing is very important in the complexity and flavor of Tequila.

One of the most important things I can tell you is don’t be scared off by all of those nightmare stories that involve Tequila. Fine Tequila imbibed in moderation can be as satisfying as drinking the finest whiskey or brandy.

Leave a comment

Posted by on May 16, 2014 in Uncategorized


Great stuff!@apolloliquor #apolloliquor

by apolloliquor
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 2, 2014 in Uncategorized



The Ever Changing World of IPA

IPA or India Pale Ale is a hoppy beer style that is part of the broader style pale ale. IPA is first known to be brewed in England in the 19th century, although the first time someone called it an IPA is in an advertisement in the Sydney Gazette in Australia. The term pale ale refers to an ale that is brewed from pale malt. This was obtained by breweries using fuel fired malt that produces less smoking and roasting of the barley. In the early 1800’s the beers were quite different than what they are today. They were much more lightly hopped than what we see today.  

Spiegelau IPA Glass

Spiegelau IPA Glass – Specially made to enhance the flavors and aromas of IPA.

IPA taste, which some say is an acquired one, consists of wonderful fruit, citrus and floral notes. While bitter for some, IPA offers a complexity that few beers can match. IPA popularity in the U.S. has been exploding! This has led to breweries experimenting and producing several styles of IPA to appease the growing demand coming from the “hopheads” of America.

Some different styles are East Coast IPA, West Coast IPA and Double IPA’s. East Coast IPA’s typically have a stronger malt presence that balances out the hoppiness of the beer. Also, because of logistics, East Coast IPA’s tend to use more European hops which results in a spicier style. Great examples of East Coast IPA are Brooklyn East IPA and Victory Hop Devil.

West Coast IPA’s typically have a much stronger hops flavor up front and use nearby hops grown in the Pacific Northwest such as Chinook, Cascade and Simcoe. Not as well balanced, but not intended to be. It is all about featuring the beauty of American hops and deemphasizing caramel and sweet notes. The name originated because San Diego breweries were the first to champion this style. Now West Coast IPA’s are now brewed all over the country. Excellent examples of West Coast IPA are Green Flash West Coast IPA, Lagunitas IPA, and Ballast Point Sculpin IPA.

For people who can’t get enough of the bitter, citrusy flavors of hops, Double IPA or Imperial IPA has emerged onto the American market. Typically, these beers are a stronger and hoppier version of traditional IPA’s. Usually the alcohol is above 7.5%. This is needed in order to supply enough malt to help balance out the extreme hops. Examples of this style are Bells’ Hopslam, Surly Abrasive Ale, and Great Divide Hercules Double IPA.

American brewers, ever innovating, have even started making an IPL (India Pale Lager) Strong hops that is fermented like a lager make this a lighter, cleaner style that is intended to show off the subtleties and complexity of the hops. Sam Adams Double Agent IPL is a great example.

With the massive proliferation of IPA in the U.S. and breweries that are always pushing the envelope, the lines between different styles are getting blurred. If the beer you are drinking is getting blah, an IPA of any style may be that beer you need to invigorate your senses.

Leave a comment

Posted by on April 30, 2014 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , ,

Meet 2 of the Speakers for our High End Tasting!

Our Apollo High End Tasting is nearly here!  If you haven’t got your ticket yet, you better soon. The event is April 24th at 6:30.  Tickets available at any Apollo store or at 

This will be a great event.  For $25 you get four courses of heavy appetizers, and enjoy 4 different wine gurus present a flight of wines.  Each Speaker will pour from a particular country.  This is the chance to truly compare great wines from each of the great winemaking countries.

To pique your interest, here is a brief bio of 2 of our speakers.

Tom Gill, The French Wine Speaker,

A former teacher, Mr. Gill found his true calling in the early 1970s, when good fortune placed him in Napa Valley during the Golden State’s wine renaissance. There he tasted the debut vintages of Caymus, Joseph Phelps, and — especially — Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, whose now- legendary 1973 Cabernet he discovered, in barrel, and imported to Minnesota. Within a year, that now-legendary wine — subject of the Hollywood film “Bottle Shock” — would come to symbolize the ascendance of California wine to the world stage when it out-scored an international field of competitors to win the Judgement of Paris…And to think that the residents of Rochester enjoyed an out-sized percentage of that coveted collector’s item!

               In the years since, Mr. Gill has contributed to virtually every facet of our profession — including retail and shop design — and has written over 200 wine articles while employed as a columnist for the StarTribune, MPLS/ST. PAUL magazine, and Minnesota Monthly, among others. Since 1998 he has been engaged as an importer and distributor, representing family wineries from every corner of the globe, including

— of course — France.


Peter Plaehn, Italian Wine Speaker

Peter Plaehn, CSW, is a 19-year veteran of the food and beverage industry, getting his start in the kitchen of a college bar. Since then he’s held almost every position possible, from host to bartender to finally General Manager and Wine Director at an award-winning fine dining restaurant. He is one of only fourteen Certified Sommeliers in Minnesota certified with the Court of Master Sommeliers and is the only CMS Advanced Sommelier candidate in Minnesota. He is also a Certified Specialist of Wine with the Society of Wine Educators.

He is currently the Wine Specialist for Wirtz Beverage Group, based in St. Paul.

Leave a comment

Posted by on April 23, 2014 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , ,

Terroir – Small Word – Huge Impact

Terroir is a simple seven letter word yet it is probably the single most important concept in the world of fine wine. It also has impacts in other agriculture such as coffee, chocolate, hops and tea. If you are a wine lover you have probably run across the word and “kind of-sort of” know what it is. Terroir is like the wind, you know it’s there but you can’t see it.

The steep slope, soil composition and influence of the nearby Mosel river are unique aspects of the terroir of this German wine region

Very loosely translated, terroir is considered a “sense of place”. This involves several factors such as wind, rainfall, sunlight, soil…. It is the sum effects that the local environment has had in producing the grapes. The French and other Europeans have embraced this idea for hundreds of years. This is the base of the French wine Appellation d’origine controlee (AOC). AOC is also the model of just about every other countries appellation system.

Terroir is why many European wines have in the largest print on the label the area or AOC it is grown in. Such as Chablis, Margaux, Vouvray, Chianti… The reason this is in large print and the actual producer is often in tiny print is because they believe that terroir is the single most important thing to consider when buying, selecting or making a wine. The Europeans have discovered that different areas make different wines and through hundreds of years of trial and error, they have chosen specific grapes and techniques that work best in each region. Even to the extent that they impose often times very strict rules for the farmers and producers in the area. This concept is starting to take root in new world regions such as California. Napa Valley, Sonoma are just two examples. If fact, these broad regions are being broken down to small regions such as Stag’s Leap District, Howell Mountain. Even down to individual vineyards just like the top French wines do.

Terroir is why specific regions make wines that are very different even though the winemaker has used the same winery practices. Places such as Burgundy have many terroirs that can be very small. Sometimes a road, or a small hill may mean you have entered a different AOC. Some regions command massive prices because of terroir. The rare places on earth that are known to make world class wines, such as Napa Valley, certain regions in Bordeaux, Burgundy, Barolo… have land prices that are astronomical because these specific terroirs are very rare.

Next time you try a wine, consider the terroir and history of a site and how it affected your wine. This will open up a whole new world of wine. It will help you appreciate your wine even more.

Leave a comment

Posted by on April 15, 2014 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , ,