Bill Swindell’s new podcast, “Drinking Stories,” peels back the veneer of the wine, beer, spirits and cider industries.

In the second episode, Bill speaks with brewers at the recent RateBeer awards ceremony and festival on the state of the craft beer industry in the aftermath of major deals such as Heineken International partnering with Lagunitas Brewing Co.

Bill talks to the brewers and owners of Hill Farmstead Brewery, de Garde Brewing, Toppling Goliath Brewing Co., and Moonlight Brewing Co. for their thoughts and what to expect next.

To download the podcast via iTunes, or to subscribe to Press Democrat podcasts, click here.

Spirited Winter Reds

TOP PICK

Clos de Gilroy

Clos de Gilroy, 2016 Central Coast Grenache, 13.1% alcohol, $20. ★★★★: A feisty grenache with notes of raspberry, cherry and anise. It has a spicy finish and nice length. Well crafted. An absolute steal for the quality.

Tasty ALTERNATIVES

Bedrock Wine Co., 2016 Bedrock Heritage Sonoma Valley, Sonoma County Red Wine, 14.6%, $46. ★★★★1/2: A complex red with layered flavors of black raspberry, plum and licorice. Great bones -- structure. The red varietals include zinfandel and carignane. Impressive.

San Lorenzo, 2015 the Pearl Old Vine, Sonoma County Red Field Blend, 15.4%, $70. ★★★★1/4: A snappy red field blend with aromas and flavors of blackberry, cinnamon and licorice. Firm tannins. Blend includes carignane, zinfandel and petite sirah.

Shafer, 2015 TD-9, Napa Valley Bordeaux Red Blend, 15.3%, $60. ★★★★1/2: A striking Bordeaux Red Blend with a bowl of tasty fruit -- currant, plum and cherry. It has great minerality, with herbs and spice in the mix. It’s a complicated, big boy Bordeaux that turns heads. Striking.

Donelan, 2014 Cuvee Moriah Sonoma County Grenache, $50. ★★★★: This Rhone red has tangy high-toned fruit coupled with savory spice and crisp acid. It has notes of pomegranate, red currant and cardamom. The Donelan has a round texture and finishes crisp.