Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Old Ohio schoolhouse converted to winery impresses with atmosphere, food, wine

ByJennifer Primrose | June 30, 2015

Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: @trianglearoundtown

It was like taking a trip back in time to the old one-room schoolhouse, but instead of desks, chalkboards and Laura Ingalls – there is wine! We absolutely love finding new and interesting places on our journeys, and during our last trip through Ohio, we found ourselves on the doorstep of Schoolhouse Winery in Dover, Ohio.

Being someone who loves "themes," this colorfully decorated, bright red schoolhouse, complete with a dunce cap was right up our alley. I even tried to convince Dathan to put on the dunce cap and sit in the corner, but alas, he declined.

This schoolhouse was originally built in 1886, and was previously known as Oak Grove School #6. Classes were held here between 1886 through 1941. As one can imagine, this structure went through a couple of alterations throughout the years, before being purchased by Dave and Jennifer Jagunic of New Philadelphia, Ohio. It was later transformed into a "boutique" winery, and was named "Ohio's Most Unique Winery" in 2014 by Discovering Ohio.

A quick stop to check out this charming schoolhouse turned into a wine tasting and dinner before we continued on our journey back home to North Carolina. The wine tastings were 50-cents per taste. And keeping with the "theme," wines were coined names such as "Teacher's Pet," "Spring Break," "Equation," "Detention," "Principal" and "Pep Rally" to name a  few. I believe Dathan's favorite was Detention, a semi-dry Moscato – maybe it was just a fond memory of his days in high school detentions on Saturday mornings.  

We went down the list and tasted several wines before deciding on our two favorites to accompany our dinner. The menu at Schoolhouse consists primarily of pizzas and subs.

Typically, when thinking about wineries, Ohio doesn't usually come to mind. However, did you know that according to The Statistics Portal, Ohio is now home to 158 wineries in the U.S., and currently ranks 8th in the nation. California of course leads the way with over 3,000, while our home state of North Carolina, comes in at No. 10. Looks like Triangle Around Town may need to start exploring more Ohio wineries in the near future.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

At a Glance: Ohio Breweries


By Dathan Kazsuk | June 21, 2015
Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: @trianglearoundtown

The Buckeye State is currently home to 108 craft breweries. That's around 20 fewer that what we currently have in the Tar Heel State – but who's counting?

It's around this time every year that Jen and I pack up our suitcases and make the trek to the Wolverine State to visit family – a destination we travel by car. And if you are traveling over 700-plus miles, you need to break up that long haul somehow. For us, our guilty pleasure – finding local wineries and breweries along the way, so we can stretch our legs and quench our thirst.

This month, during our week long vacation to Michigan, we stopped at five Ohio breweries. Below is a brief, at a glance, description of some breweries you might want to check out on your next, or first time traveling through Ohio.

Hoppin' Frog Brewery in Akron, Ohio


1680 E. Waterloo Road, Akron, Ohio 44306

From the outside, just like most breweries these days, Hoppin' Frog is nothing spectacular. But I go back to that old adage, "It's what's inside the counts." And that holds true with the Frog. The staff behind the bar were courteous and very attentive with our arrival. Hoppin' Frog had 15 of its beers on draft, which included some great beers such as B.O.R.I.S. Oatmeal Imperial Stout, Barrel-Aged Silk Porter and the 10.5 ABV Barrel-Aged D.O.R.I.S. the Destroyer.

The brewery also has a selection of guest beers on tap, and sell by the pint or by samples – to build your personal flight.

While you are there, be sure to peruse the Frog's 'Rare Beer List.' There you will find years of Hoppin' Frog's rare bombers available for purchase. Imagine if you will, being able to pick-up a 2013 B.O.R.I.S. Van Wink Imperial Stout aged in Kentucky whiskey barrels and a 2011 Barrel-Aged Naked Belgian-Style Barley Wine in the same place! 

We sampled many beers at Nano Brew Cleveland


1859 W. 25th Street, Cleveland, Ohio 44113

This neighborhood brewpub has 24 beers on draft, good food and an outdoor beer garden. Located in a trendy area of Cleveland, which features other popular venues such as the Westside Market, Bar Centro and Great Lakes Brewing Company.

When we visited Nano Bar, guest taps included Stone, North Coast, Jackie O's (another Ohio brewery in Athens), Fat Head's, Dogfish Head and the much sought after Pale Ale from Three Floyd's Brewing – Zombie Dust!

As far as food goes, Nano Brew has a full menu of appetizers, sandwiches and burgers. I personally enjoyed the Spicy Burger. This burger was named one of the "Best 33 Burgers in America" by Thrillist, and is a combination of cheddar, poblano peppers, caramelized onions and a spicy mayo. Not to be missed.


1947 W. 25th Street, Cleveland, Ohio 44113

A block over from Nano Brew is Market Garden Brewery. With close to 12 of its own beers on draft, ranging from a traditional-style Kölsch to a great dry-hopped IPA called Citramax, MGB has a great selection of pints and samples to try.

Just like Nano Brew, the selection of food here at MGB can keep you eating and drinking all night long. Some of the appetizers include chorizo cheddar pierogies, sauerkraut balls and a PBLT (pork belly, tomato jam and arugula). If you are looking for a full meal, MGB serves up pan roasted chicken, smoked pork chops, mac and cheese and a Brewmaster's reserve ribeye.

GLBC has been brewing great beer for 27 years in Cleveland


2516 Market Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44113

A mainstay in Ohio since 1988, this brewery is a must stop if you are visiting Cleveland. Check out the brewery tour, which leads you through more than just its production facility. But reservations should be made in advance, because these tours book up fast! The tours are on Friday and Saturday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. (every hour on the hour). For $5 you get a tour of the facility, which last around 60-minutes, as well as four 5 oz. beer samples of your choice.

The brewpub features appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, pizzas and entrées, as well as a large outdoor patio to enjoy your meal. While you are there, be sure to stop by the GLBC gift center where you can pick up a plethora of apparel, glassware and of course bottles of your favorite GLBC beer.

Akron, Ohio is home to Thirsty Dog


529 Grant Street, Akon, Ohio 44311

First, I must say that I like many beers produced by this Ohio brewery. Siberian Night Bourbon Barrel-Aged, Citra Dog, Barley Wine Ale and the Raspberry Ale always hit the spot. But I have to say I wasn't overly impressed when visiting the taproom on our way back to Raleigh. From the outside, the brewery looked like it had some potential, but once inside, it was really lacking any form of ambience. Most of the beer on the menu were ones I've tasted in the past, and the one I was hoping to try on the board above the bar was already tapped out.

Pints at Thirsty Dog ranged from $4 to $6, while samples, which seemed to be 2-3 oz. pours cost a dollar. Specialty samples, such as the Saison Deluxe (which was a good beer) are $3 a sample. If you are a huge fan of Thirsty Dog beers, like I am, and you are in Akron – pay them a visit. But if not, just enjoy Thirsty Dog's brews by purchasing them at your local bottle shop.

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Mead flows in Ferndale, Michigan

By Jennifer Primrose | June 21, 2015
Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: @trianglearoundtown

First there was an insurgence of wineries – and then we were thrust into the craft beer craze. Now it seems we have discovered the world of meads. Mead has actually been around for centuries and by its simplest definition, is an alcoholic beverage made with honey, water, fruit, spices and sometimes hops and tea. Mead is often referred to as "honey wine" and almost seems to lean either more towards wine or beer, which gives in to a unique experience.

So, is this a growing trend, or has it always been there, and Triangle Around Town is just venturing into this new movement?

On our last trip to southeast Michigan, we had an opportunity to visit two of Michigan's meaderies in Ferndale: Schramm's and B Nektar.

Schramm's Meadery is one of two mead shops in Ferndale, Michigan.


327 W. 9 Mile Road, Ferndale, Michigan 48220

It was while we were discussing our upcoming vacation plans to Michigan that we were given the recommendation to visit Schramm's Meadery and we could not have been more pleased. Schramm's is located in Ferndale, Michigan, and has been in business since the summer of 2013. We have been introduced to mead in the past, but I never knew it could taste this good!

Schramm's is a small-batch meadery with 8 different meads to sample by the glass, as well as craft cocktails, flights, and of course, by the bottle. We decided on two flights – the Three Mead Flight for $7, which includes 1 oz. pours of The Statement, Black Agnes and Nutmeg, as well as the Maddy's Flight for $9, which includes pours of Raspberry, Madeline and Ginger.

These meads were simply amazing! The Statement boasted the rich Michigan cherry flavor and, out of these six, ranked as my favorite. Dathan found the black current mead, Black Agnes, his favorite. We had already heard about it, and now it was time to try it ... The Heart of Darkness. This mead is rated the No. 1 mead in the world.

Here's a clipping from Schramm's website: "The Heart of Darkness is our capstone mead. It is made from hand-harvested fruit. The cherries are of the Schaarbeek variety, an intensely flavorful, European morello type, the raspberries are Heritage and Latham, and the black currants are Crandall and Consort. Production is extremely limited, as the amount of care and labor which go into each batch is substantial. This is a hand-crafted mead, if ever there was one. The mead is deep purple in color, has a dense fruitiness and a mid-palate with considerable tartness, and a long, lingering, balanced finish. Your empty glass will be very redolent of the honey component. The Heart of Darkness pairs well with spicy, grilled red meats, high quality dark chocolate, and blue cheeses."

A glass of this mead goes for $45. A bottle sells for $100. And a 1 oz. pour with a flight goes for $10, and is paired with local dark chocolate – worth every penny!

After visiting this new favorite, I decided to learn a little more about the owner/meadmaker, Ken Schramm. Schramm has been making mead since 1988, as well as brewing beer. He is also a fruit grower, growing a variety of apples, cherries and berries at his home orchard. He is the founding Competition Director of America's first and largest mead-only competition – the Mazer Cup. Those we spoke to at the shop told us that Schramm "wrote the book on mead." I now understand what they meant.

Do yourself a favor, and if you are ever in southeast Michigan, make sure you visit Schramm's Meadery. I promise you will not be disappointed. 

B Nektar has moved into a new facility on Jarvis Street in Ferndale, Michigan.
511 Jarvis Street, Ferndale, Michigan 48220

About a mile down the road from Schramm's, you'll find B Nektar, another one of Michigan's finest and most popular meaderies. Imagine our surprise when we pull up just 5-minutes until opening to discover B Nektar was having a bottle re-release of its Bananas Foster and Tiramisu meads. After snatching one each, we settled in with a couple drinks. 

First we got a pint of The Dude's Rug, a hard cider with chai spices. It was rather fitting when the guy behind the bar put on The Big Lebowski on a TV projector while we sipped our cider. The dude would abide!

We then had samples of the Raspberry Ginger and Slice of Life, followed by the Gose Braggot. Around this time the sky opened up and the downpour of rain began. I guess there could certainly be worse places to be during a thunderstorm than at a meadery. 

B Nektar was founded in 2006, and officially opened its doors two years later. And the taproom, located on Jarvis Street in Ferndale, is new, and coined Taproom 3.0, which was written on the chalkboard behind the bar.

Appealing more to the craft beer crowd, B Nektar produces not only meads, but ciders and beers. Some of their most popular meads are Necromangocon, which won a gold medal at the 2013 Michigan Mead Cup, Kill All Golfers, which is an Arnold Palmer-style mead and the Black Fang, with blackberry, cloves and orange zest.

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Caymus Vineyards Webcast Tasting in Raleigh

By Dathan Kazsuk | June 15, 2015
Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: @trianglearoundtown

The Wagner Family of Wines is something no home should be without. From the ever popular white table wine, Conundrum, to the rich taste of Belle Glos’ Pinot Noir, the Wagner family has been producing incredible wines for more than 40 years. There used to be a time, back in 1972, when one could pick up Caymus' Cabernet Sauvignon for a mere $4.50 a bottle. That’s not the case today, but that same care from over 4 decades still continues on with this family.

On Saturday, June 14, Total Wine hosted a Caymus webcast tasting. With over 2,000 attendees across 68 Total Wine stores Nationwide, wine drinkers got to sample some great vino and hear first hand some unique stories from the Wagner family themselves.

Bottle of Caymus Vineyards' 40th Anniversary 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon. 
Each of the 5 wines were paired up with Hors d’ouevres from Raleigh’s The Lunchbox and More.   

Our first wine was Conundrum’s California White Wine. Sure, we’ve all had this great table wine before, which usually runs anywhere between $19-$24. Conundrum, as described by Chuck himself, is a blend of Chardonnay, Viognier, Muscat, Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon grapes. This wine was paired with prosciutto wrapped cantaloupe.

Next, Chuck brought in his daughter Jenny to talk about the next wine poured – the Emmolo Sauvignon Blanc. Named after her great-grandfather, Salvatore Emmolo, Jenny crafted up a Sauvignon Blanc with a crisp fruit taste and a strong hint of minerality. Seasoned and aged in French oak barrels and stainless steel, this wine is very versatile. The wine went perfectly with the goat cheese wrapped red grape encrusted in chopped pecans we were served.

Along came Charlie. The eldest of the Wagner children, and probably the most laid-back of the siblings. Charlie introduced everyone to the Mer Soleil Chardonnay. Prepared with an Ahi Tuna Poke with a chili pepper drizzle, this was a perfect combination. Mer Soleil and Silver Chardonnay (Charlie’s other product) both come from the same grape that grows in the Santa Lucia highlands of Monterey County, California. While Mer Soleil is fermented in French oak barrels, the Silver Chardonnay uses both stainless steel and cement tanks for fermentation. 

We were then introduced to Joe, who talked about the next wine poured – Belle Glos “Las Alturas” Pinot Noir. And just like his sister naming the vineyard after a late family member, Joe did the same. Belle Glos honors his grandmother, Lorna Belle Glos Wagner, a co-founder of Caymus Vineyards. The Las Alturas had hints of raspberry and/or blackberries with having just the right balance of earthiness. This wine was paired with a small serving of pork loin with a cherry reduction sauce. One of the better Pinot Noir’s I’ve had in awhile.

The Lunchbox & More paired up 5 appetizers with the 5 wines, 
including a pork loin with a cherry reduction sauce and tuna tartar.

Finally, we got to taste what most of us came to the tasting for … the 2012 40th Anniversary Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet. This wine was fruity and smooth, and I’m already thinking of pairing it with a prime-rib in 5-years when I open it for consumption. I was impressed with the complexity of this wine, and believe that Chuck worked hard to leave a rich, ripe taste for the drinkers palate. 

This is the second year in a row that I’ve done this tasting with Jen and our friends David and Meg. And even though it was well worth the $20, I have to favor the event last year a little more. Last year, we tried 5 Wagner wines, and after the webcast was over, the employees at Total Wine opened up another 4 wines similar to what we just tasted. “We’re called Total Wine & More … so here is the MORE!” That afternoon was fun!

Related Story: Virtual wine tasting with Chuck Wagner of Caymus Vineyards

Hopefully the Wagner’s will team up with Total Wine in 2016 so we can sample some more great Caymus Family wines.