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CLAUSTHALER GOLDEN AMBER, FRANKFURT AM MAIN

Yes, there are times when a cold beer sounds great but the buzz of alcohol doesn't. The best answer for most beer fanciers has been Clausthaler, a German miracle that delivers a crisp lager with a brisk flavor and German purity but only 0.45 percent alcohol by volume.

Good stuff, but you get even more body and a smidgen less alcohol (0.30 percent) in this dark version. Golden Amber has a copper color and solid foam, heady with malt. Almost like Ovaltine for adults.

Barley malt comes through in the flavor as well, with a richer body, even sweeter and more filling than classic Clausthaler. A fine reward for finishing the yard or a rich finale to the workday.

Availability: at liquor stores and beer shops, approximately $1.50 a bottle.

A PLACE WHERE CIDER RULES

Man and woman cannot drink by grain and grape alone. Not when there's an apple left in the garden to ferment.

The new Cider House (1752 Central Ave., St. Petersburg; (727) 822-7400) is a rare pub to brag that it carries hard "dry'' ciders, the way apples were made to be drunk before Prohibition.

Greg Wallace, who opened the pub this summer, has cider from England's Strongbow to Ireland's Magners in the house, ciders on tap and in the bottle, pouring nightly.

He also stocks about 80 beers, plus wine, but says, "The ciders are blowing them away.''

A note to self

You loved that wine the first time, but what was it? Should have put it in writing.

Let John Dengerud at Tampa's Mise en Place do it for you.

The wine manager had business cards revised with space on the back for the name of the wine, the vintage, location, grape, the year and notes.

On the front is an inspirational quote: "They asked me to profess my higher truth, so I simply replied music, love and wine.'' - Manuel Rodriguez.

We'd add a toast to thoughtful service.

A taste of tequila

Here's what you need to know to experiment with premium tequilas.

Blanco. Unaged and crystal clear. The connoisseur's choice for its purity and bite, blanco, or "silver" tequila, is young, bright and sharp. Drink it straight, sipped from a slightly chilled shot glass, with a little squeeze of lime if preferred. Best for making fresh margaritas.

Reposado. Aged up to one year in wood barrels. Preferred by some for its mellower flavor and increased body. Drink it straight, from a slightly chilled shot glass or snifter; or on the rocks with freshly squeezed lime juice.

Anejo. Aged one to three years for a dark, amber color and complex flavor. With a smoky, woody profile like scotch, best served straight.

Chris Sherman, wires

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