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New goodies on the market
The spiced rum category is growing more crowded every day, but Crusoe Spiced Rum is a cut above the competition

I tasted three new–to–market products last week that will be nice additions to any home bar or party. If you can’t find them right away, ask your retailer to order for you.

Arrr, pass the rum

The spiced rum category is growing more crowded every day, but this new player, Crusoe Spiced Rum, is a cut above the competition. Crusoe is warm, smooth and easily drinkable straight or on the rocks. It’s real strength may be promoted as a flavor additive to mixed drinks, but it stands alone just fine. And talk about a mouthful of fall flavors, look for cinnamon, clove, allspice, nutmeg and vanilla – and a nose that that’s as warm and inviting as grandma’s pumpkin pie.

An added value is the maker’s commitment to the environment. The rum is made from organic molasses and sugar cane and a tree is planted for each bottle sold. To date, nearly 80,000 trees have been planted. At 70 proof, it’s an easy drinker. If you’re stranded on a deserted island, this is the Crusoe to have as a mate.

Bargain red

From the traditional Port producing region of Duoro in Portugal comes Charamba, a blend of  grapes that presents drinkers with a lively mouthful of rich berry flavors, a hint of oak and well–balanced complexity. No surprise really, when you consider the blending grapes are the varieties used in Port: Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional. Charamba is a perfect pairing with grilled meats, particularly game and lamb. It is also a good match with cheese and nuts. Give it a little chill – to about 65 degrees. Score yours for less than $10!

Pedal faster, there’s beer ahead

Milwaukee’s Lakefront Brewery produces some perfectly passable craft beers, but their new Fixed Gear Red Ale may just be a new flagship that emerges from the fleet. But don’t look in the six–pack aisle. This beer is riding to market in a 22–ounce bottle with a remarkable price tag of around $6 or less. The beer pours a coppery red with a snow white head. It’s no nimby–pamby Red Ale either. The malt bill is there to create balance but its 34 IBUs belies the bold hops an citrus overtones.

Marketers hope the name, a reference to fixed gear bicycles, will appeal to younger, active beer drinkers who want a refreshing and hoppy ale. At 6.5 percent ABV, Fixed Gear is a buzz waiting to happen at the end of long day’s ride.

Beer crawl

Avery Brewing Co. boss Adam Avery will lead a pub crawl on Nov. 1, beginning at 6 p.m. The crawl begins at The Bayou, then proceeds to Moon River, Molly McPherson’s and The Distillery. The last stop showcases the entire dictator series – Maharaja, The Kaiser and a vintage keg of The Czar. Crawlers who get a card punched at each location earn a free pint glass at the last stop.  Follow at