Friday, December 22, 2006
The good news, as Brock is tirelessly working on getting someone to support the legislation in Austin, there are many newspapers and blogs that are picking up and covering the story. Here is a sampling:
The guys over at A Good Beer Blog (Canadians are writing about Saint Arnold's!) wrote about it and got some good replies.
Houston's Alternative news paper, the Houston Press has a nice story as well.
Houston's channel 11 KHOU ran a piece as well.
Finally the San Antonio Current ran this piece.
I'll again urge anyone that has any connections in Austin to help out in anyway you can. Even if you don't have connections you DO have a local representative in the State House that you can write to.
If you want to continue to stay up to date with all the happenings of Saint Arnold's quest be sure to check out their blog.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
A-B has released what they are calling the first nationally available Gluten free beer. They call it Redbridge and it is made of Sorghum, a safe grain for those with wheat allergies. Sorghum is often used in making beers in Africa, and was probably one of the grains originally used in the first beers thousands of years ago.
Barry Schlacter at the Ft. Worth Star Telegram, has a good article on brew pubs in Colorado.
Lastly a very stupid article in the San Antonio Newspaper that states the reason America is obese is because of Beer and TV. (of course it has nothing to do with Fast food or the abundance of high fructose corn syrup)
Hefeweizen: German Wheat Beers
Kristallweizen: Filtered wheat beers
Dunkel Weizen: Dark Wheat Beers
Rauchbier: The famous Smoke Beers
Berliner Weisse: A type of wheat beer brewed only in Berlin
Eisbock: Ice beer
Bock: We all know this style
Dortmunder/Export: A sytle of beer from the city of Dortmunder
Marzen/Oktoberfest: The beer traditionally brewed for that famous celebration.
Now thats a whole lot of different styles made with just hops, water, and barley. It doesn't seem to be limiting German's imagination any.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Kostrizer Schwarzbier: Schwarzbier is what we call Black Lager. If you think Guinness is dark, you've never seen a Black Lager, truly dark, truly amazing beer. This beer weighs in at a nice 4.8% alcohol. It pours a deep inky black, with good carbonation and a thick tawny foamy head, it looks almost like a cola. Nose is thick of roasted malts, caramel, cola, a bit of chocolate. The mouthfeel is thick for a lager, you get copious amounts of caramels, chocolate, toasted malts, great carbonation, helps spread the toasted characteristics around. Very good beer.
Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier: Rauch in German is Smoke, so this is a smoked beer, something we don't get to often in the states. The most popular brand in the states is the Alaskan Brewing Smoked Porter. Smoked beer uses smoked malts, instead of roasting the malts. Think of the smoked peat that is used in Irish Whiskey or Scotch. The beer pours a dark cloudy brown smokey color with a nice half inch brown head. The nose is a mix of dried burning leaves, and the smell of a just put out camp fire, and at the very end is just a bit of floral notes. The mouth is full of smoked meats, its like drinking a brisket (waaay better than it sounds I promise). After the initial shock of smoke comes some malty sweetness, with a bit of bitterness at the end, but this beer is definitely all about the smoke. Its an amazingly complex and completely different. I don't think I could drink a six pack of this, or even more than one in a sitting, but to go with a meal, and as a special brew this is incredible. I can't stop talking about how different this beer is.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Besides drinking great German beer, there is another opportunity for me while I'm here. I get to catch up on some book reading. In between walking around the city, touring museums, and of course drinking beer, there's always good opportunities to read a book (even in a beer garden while drinking a beer!) around the city. I picked up Fermenting Revolution: How to Drink Beer and Save the world, by Christopher Mark O'Brien, right before I left for Germany. It was a couple of weeks before I was able to start reading it, and I finished it up last week. The thesis to the work is that by people supporting their local breweries instead of the huge corporate brewers, people support sustainable environments. Local brewers tend to use local ingredients for their specialty beers, tend to give back to their community, and use less energy (and therefore less fossil fuels) in getting their product to the consumers. I'll have to be honest, as this book leans WAAAAY different that I do. Not that I am a hard to the right wing kinda guy, but the author leans to a certain direction and that comes out in his book, sometimes to the detriment of his cause. Having said, that I did thoroughly enjoy the book.
The book does a decent job of covering the history of beer making, talks about how beer making was a Woman's job up until the 1500's or so when the men started to take it over. Through the story of American Prohibition, the rise of Industrial Lager, and Beervolution of the 70's.
Although at time one suspects he would rather everyone go back 1000 yrs where there was no technology and only people brewing at their homes, his general idea is a great one. However, there are some issues I have with the book.
There are some facts and figures that I am not sure where he gets them from. One of his most common quotes is that most Americans leave within 10 miles of a brewery. I find this hard to believe, since very few people in Texas, LA, OK, Arkansas, Mississippi, so on and so forth leave no where near a brewery as there are only a handful (if that many) in the entire state. I wish there were more, but there aren't. Throughout his book he touts the greatness that is Organic Products. While I agree that the more organic we can buy the better it is for the earth and ourselves I don't think he is being realistic. Unfortunately, right now organic isn't cheap, and its just not economically feasible for lower income families to buy organic, and its a subject the author doesn't touch on. He does the same thing when he talks about people using more energy efficient appliances. Again great idea, but until the prices come down its not always feasible for lower income families, who unfortunately can't think about the long term energy savings, they just need a Refrigerator.
Now on to the things I like. He accordingly does take the big brewers to task, from the late 1800's when brewers started using Coal and coal products to make their beer during the Industrial Revolution, thus beginning the pollution that we are fighting against today. However he does go into a lot of detail on the things that Coors, A-B, and MillerSAB are doing today to curb their wastes. Most of the big brewers are getting close to producing zero net waste which is an amazing statistic once you think how HUGE these corporations are. In fact Industrial breweries are the most of efficient of any industry. I like that he focuses on how local brewers are doing great things. From Saint Arnold's recycling all of their 6 pack containers and giving customers shirts, mugs, etc when they bring theirs back, to Great Lakes Brewery who uses the Fatty Wagon that runs on used french Fry grease and hauls customers from the brew pub to the baseball stadium (GREAT Concept).
Its a recommended book, that I thought was a fast read. Regardless of your political leanings, it gives you somethings to think about and if you weren't a supporter of your local brewery or brew pub you will be. In fact GO there, have a beer, and get a start reading the book.
Friday, December 15, 2006
The Wine: The wine weighs in at 13.5% which is about par for a good Bordeaux red, but far under a similar American Blend. Its AOC from Corbieres France. It pours a nice rich blood red in the glass, sediment falling to the bottom of the glass (no decanter here in Germany with me) The first sniff is of dark red cherries, raspberries, blackberries and some cassis. Another sniff and I get some damp earth, tar, and leather. The mouth is full of cherries, raspberries, a hint of mint, very berry, finishing out a little dry with notes of vanilla, and charred oak. Incredibly well balanced, not to acidic, not to tannic. Say what you will about Mr. Reynaud, but he made a great wine here. I'd grade it an A-.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
The Winery: The J.L. Wolf's vintner is the greatness that is Ernst Loosen, they make Saint M Riesling as well from the states. Ernst Loosen was the 2005 Decanter Man of the year and is probably one of the greatest Riesling producers in the world. The vineyard Forster Ungeheuer is located in the Pflaz region of Germany.
The Wine: Pours a light straw yellow in the glass. Peaches, pears, apricots, honey dew melons limestone and a hint of granite fill out the nose on this beautiful wine. In the mouth there is a surprising effervescence and tartness. The taste is of limes, and stone, honey with a bit of dryness at the very end. A very characteristic German Riesling. A tad sweet but relatively balanced with the effervescence and stone flavors. Very nice.. B+
The first part of the post covers the change in language that Brock is fighting for:
To the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, Chapter 12. Brewer's Permit, add in Sec. 12.05 the following:
Such a brewer may also sell ale and malt liquor to ultimate consumers for consumption on the brewery premises or in unbroken packages for off-premises consumption in an amount not to exceed, together with the annual sales of beer to the ultimate consumer by the holder of a manufacturer's license acting under the authority of Section 62.12 of this code at the same premises, 5,000 barrels annually;
To the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, Chapter 62. Manufacturer's License add in Sec. 62.12 (a) the following:
Such a manufacturer may also sell beer to ultimate consumers for consumption on the manufacturer's premises or in unbroken packages for off-premises consumption in an amount not to exceed, together with the annual sales of ale and malt liquor to the ultimate consumer by the holder of a brewer's permit acting under the authority of Section 12.05 of this code at the same premises, 5,000 barrels annually.
The next part are the notes from the Teleconference that gives some more details into the above wording:
As for who won? Saint Arnolds or the Law? Stay tuned.......
Sunday, December 10, 2006
The Kolsch poured an orangish yellow capped with a fairly foamy head. There was more bitterness in the nose than other Kolsch's. Less carbonation, with a smoother aftertaste, a bit citrusy even. As the beer went down in the glass it left a nice sheen of lacing in its wake, very nice. My overall impression of the beer was its smoothness. It partnered well with the starch in the potatoes, and the beans, but didn't have the carbonation for the fat of the speck. A solid if not spectacular Kolsch. One I will have again (and again....)
Saturday, December 09, 2006
The Brookston Beer blog posts a short write up.
Over at Appellation beer they reference the Jimmy Stewart aspect of the story, and talk in a little more detail about Texas Beer law.
Barry Schlacter at the Star-Telegram has a write up in his weekly Beer column.
Finally Saint Arnold's themselves have written up a list of places that have mentioned their quest (including yours truly!)
Lastly just let me opine a bit more on Brock's quest and how important it is to Texas and beer drinkers in general. A few years back Texas passed a law that would allow Texas Wineries to sell small amounts of their own wine in their tasting rooms. The result was not lawlessness, or drunkenness, but higher profits for the wineries and an increase in tourism to Texas wine country (Hill country). To me this should be a slam dunk issue. Letting breweries sell some cases of their own would not only help small business profits, but as places like Colorado, and California can attest will increase tourism as people come from not only within Texas, but outside to taste some of the great beers that Texas has to offer. Texas should be about the small business, those people that are willing to take a chance, start something from nothing and being a bit of a maverick. Isn't that what Texas is all about?d
Let me close, by saying, if your reading this blog and support local Texas beer, try and support the quest of Saint Arnold's in any way you can. Whether that's by doing the simple thing of buying a six pack of Lawnmower or writing a letter to you State Representative, do what you can.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
First they have an all new redesigned website, so go check it out.
The second news worthy item is much more important not only to Saint Arnold's, but to craft brewers all over Texas. Saint Arnold's Owner Brock Wagner, along with some of the other Craft brewer's are heading to Austin to help change some of the ridiculous alcohol laws that Texas has.
1) They want to be able to sell their own beer - this means being able to sell at the brewery! (would be nice at Saint Arnold's after a Saturday afternoon of tasting to grab a six pack or two or three)
2) Make it easier for Craft Breweries to open. In the great big state of Texas there are only a handful of Craft breweries and even less Brew pub's, to me this just isn't acceptable, Texans LOVE good beer.
Here is a link to Saint Arnold's Going to Austin blog. Check it out and try and support them in anyway you can.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Sunday, December 03, 2006
As most have read about now there is a new holiday beer out there that is banned in New York because the image of Santa on the label might lead children to drinking. I had built myself up to write a long rant on this topic and the role of Parental responsibility, freedom of speech, and the stupidity of American liquor laws, but then J over at Brookston Beer Bulletin beat me too it. So instead of me writing, I'll guide everyone over there to check out his well written piece.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Post Brauerie Karl Meyer Nesselweg Weihnachtsbier: From a style standpoint the folks over at BA categorize it as a Helles Munich Lager. Fair enough. The beer pours golden honey in the glass with a thick one inch foamy head. The nose has some fruity tanginess, some malt flavors and some spiciness however not from hops. The mouth is full of that nice fruity flavors with just a bit of bitterness at the end. Very nice and the beer weighs in at 5.45%. Here is what the folks at BA had to say.
Neuschwansteiner Weihnachts-Bier: The folks at Ba call this a Marzen style of lager. The beer pours a nice rich brown with streaks of red a nice 1.5 inch thick pillowy tawny head that quickly dissipated into good amounts of lacing. The nose is full of sweet malty flavors, maybe some cinnamon, hazelnuts, and brown sugar. The mouth has some good layers of sweetness, brown sugar coming out with toasted malt flavors in abundance. A good level of bitterness rounds out the full flavor of this beer. Very different from what I was expecting, but I did enjoy it. The beer weighed in at 5.2%. Seems like some at BA didn't seem to like it much, but I did find it rather enjoyable
Monday, November 27, 2006
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Pfaffen: I came to the brewery the other day with a bunch of friends so I wanted to go back by self for a tasting as I think this may be my favorite Koslch. I had my beer standing up against the tables outside as the weather was beautiful. The beer poured a light amber, much darker than the traditional golden pilsner color of most Kolsch's. The head was about 1.5 inches and pillowy floating atop the beer with ample lacing throughtout. There was an underlying spiciness on the nose along with the familiar malty sweetness. The mouth was more of the same, with that same spiciness that I can't quite put my finger on, not from hops from something else, it almost reminds me of a winter warmer...almost. Such a great beer.
Fruh: This is one of the most popular breweries in Cologne, and I can see why. FIrst of all its HUGE....multiple stories, rooms off of rooms, when I had some friends meet me there a couple of days back they got lost....the atsmosphere is truly kolsch, with the waiters slinging their carriers around (these round contrapations that carry about 8-16 glassses) I am suprised that no on loses a glass. So I sat down ordered a Halven Hahn (nope note half a hen) which is a Kolsch snakc of cheddar and good German Bread, goes great with the beer. The beer isn't bad either. The beer is the traditional color, with a nice foamy head, but limited lacing. The taste was more traditional as well, with nice malt at the top and slight hoppy bitterness on the aftertaste. Very smooth, very crispy. While nothing special, this is agreat example of a fine Kolsch.
More as I walk around the town.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Alder over at Vinography talks about just what that flavor is and comes up with an alternative to the aroma wheel.
Don't forget to check out the latest beer at the 10 year perspective. Its sad how many of those breweries are not defunct.
Hail the ale has even more Holiday gifts for the beer lover in your life.
Finally try out Wine Spectators latest "What am I tasting" quiz....just how good are you?
Friday, November 24, 2006
What did you have to drink with Thanksgiving Dinner? Wine? Beer? Both? Other?
Living in Germany I didn't get to celebrate the holiday yesterday. I did however partake in a Thanksgiving Feast prior to coming out here....my drink? A Oregon Pinot Noir. nice and fruity and it stood up to the herbs of the meal. My second joice? A fall beer in particular a Pumpkin ale, where the spiceness of the beer would hold up well against all the flavors of a traditional Thanksgiving day feast.....I hope everyone had a grand time yesterday and let me know what you all had.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
- Party Sparklers – Bargain sparklers that if you needed several bottles for a party wouldn’t break your budget but you wouldn’t be embarrassed to serve
- Special Sparklers – those bottles that might be a bit higher cost but for a little splurge you think they are worth the price
- Duds – you tried a bottle, thought it held promise but when it comes down to it you wouldn't buy it again. Hopefully we won't have many in this category!
Being over here in Europe I figure I'll be exposed to a few different styles of sparkling wine so I definetely will partake in this venture. Lets hope I don't find one in that last category. The roundup will be posted on Dec 15 so come back then and see how it all went.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
In reality Kolsch means anything that comes from Koln (Cologne). Which means there is a Kolsch dialect, Kolsch food, Kolsch style, and of course Kolsch Beer. Kolsch beer is a warm fermenting beer like an ale, instead of lagered as many believe. This misconception is due to the fact that Kolsch looks so much like a Pilsner in its light golden color, nice white head, and crisp clean taste. Kolsch's taste profile has a suprising range from crisp, clean, and malty to slightly hoppy with sweet fruity characteristics, and everythnig in between. Its a great beer to enjoy, as it weighs in at around 4.6 to 4.8 % and is served in 0.2L or 0.3 L. In otherwords you can have many beers and not feel all that bad afterwards.
In my short time here I have had the opportunity to try quite a few Kolsch: Sion, Gilden, Gaffel, Paffgen, Pfaffel, and Dom. Most were really great, but they were all very different. In the next few weeks I'll do as many individual write ups on these as I can. I'll include the brew house experience as well since that is a big part of the Kolsch Beer Experience. And for Jay, I am hoping to make it up to Dusseldorf in the next couple of weeks for some AltBier.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Monday, November 13, 2006
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale: A pretty popular ale around this time, this was my first time trying it out. It poured a nice amber in the glass with a very thick foamy head. Lots of floral spicy hops in the nose. The mouth was more of the same, reminding me much more of an IPA than a traditional Winter Ale. The finish was evergreen and piney, very nice especially as an IPA, but not what I was expecting. Here is what the folks at BA had to say.
Saint Arnold's Christmas Ale: A deep dark amber brown, minimal head with even less lacing. Very nice level of carbonation. The nose had some green apple hints to it along with some malty sweetness. Mild hoppiness on the palate with just a slightly bitter finish. Very ok beer and a somewhat disappointment as I have really enjoyed this in the past. Here is what the folks at BA had to say.
Wychwood BahHumbug Christmas Ale: Last but not least comes this Christmas ale from England. The beer weighs in at 6.0% and is slightly stronger than the other two. It pours a nice brown with streaks of red shooting through it, capped with a nice thick tan head. Malts and some spice pour forth filling the nose. Very malty on the palate, spicey as well but not from hops almost a little like a German Marzen ale to me. Smooth. A pretty OK beer, not great, but not to bad either. Here is what the folks at BA had to say.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
As you can see its a pretty interesting list. Some of the picks are puzzling to me, for instance Burlington, and why not a place like Denver that has become a center for so many microbreweries and home of the largest beer festival in America. I like the choices of Prague, Dublin, even Mexico City home of the largest Cervezas. Portland of course is a great pick, you can't go wrong with a city that doesn't have Budweiser as its top beer. Brugge is a pretty interesting choice as when most think Belgium they think of Brussels, but its a choice I like.
Check out the article for more details on each city and why they chose them.
The Hail the Ale Beer store at Amazon.com
Hop Talk's list of gifts for the beer geeks - Books, and Beers of the month clubs.
Drink my SHORTS!!!!
Barry Shlachter's Christmas list includes books, pictures and a calendar spread.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Young's Winter Warmer: Young's Brewery makes beer out of the Ram brewery in Britain and has done so since 1851. They make one of my favorite beers ever in their Double Chocolate Stout. The Winter Warmer weighs in at 5.2%, pouring a dark woody brown with a thick, pillowy tan head. There is malty sweetness on the nose, a slight breadiness and raisin scents. The mouthfeel is a little light, but with plenty of malt and a bit of bitterness on the aftertaste with that same raisin flavor. As the beer warms notes of coffee and chocolate show up. This is a very nice very smooth beer. Here's what the folks at BA had to say.
Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome: I have always loved this beer. Each year the label is different, with new artwork of a Dickensonian feel to it. Samuel Smith's was founded in 1758 in Tadcaster England and make some absolutely wonderful ales, with their Tadcaster Porter being one of my favorites. This beer weighs in at 6.0% and pours a nice rich reddish brown with a nice half inch white creamy head. More spiceness than Young's, less malt and more hops on the nose. A much heavier mouthfeel, a much heavier beer overall in fact. Hops are a the front with this, but still smooth and raisiny flavors. Some nutmeg and spices come out as the beer warms. Again, here is what the folks over at BA had to say.
Friday, November 03, 2006
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Sexy Taps a discussion of the art of Taphandles that Craft brewers have created over at Appelation Beer.
New York times actually reviews a beer book, the aforementioned Ambitious Brew.
Microbrews a 10 year perspective, a look at the craft beers that have survived the last ten years.
Guiness Red???? Enough said.
Monday, October 30, 2006
As posted a few weeks back I made it to Denver this year for the Great American Beer Festival. While at there I ran into Maureen Ogle author of Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer and picked up an autograph copy. Well what a book. It was truly fascinating, covering from the late 1800's to current time. The book details the creating of A-B, Schlitz, Best, and other of the big Milwaukee Brewers. It does expose a big misconception in my part. Along with many, it was my understanding that after Prohibition the big boys started making weak water beer with corn, rice, and other things. This is simply not true. It was American tastes that in the early 1900's couldn't stand the strong German Lager that these companies made so it was then that they started making weak beer...it just got even weaker after prohibition.
Great book, that you might think could be very dry reads incredibly easy. The guys over at RealBeer have a GREAT 3 part interview with Ms. Ogle so go check that out, along with her website.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
The Beer: Ahh yes Divine Reserve #3...an Imperial IPA. The beer was poured from the bottle into a regular British Pint glass. It was nice deep amber with a good inch head. The head dissipated into nice amounts of lacing. The nose was full of floral hops, grapefruit and some underneath sweetness that was hard to identify. The mouth was overpowering hops great amounts of that zippy bitterness, but with that same underlying clove type sweetness. I couldn't identify it so I went to the website and its Honey and Molasses. It was added to the kettle to up the starting gravity and lighten out the beer. It was a nice touch that seemed to keep the hops from burning the tongue. I really enjoyed the beer, so hats off to Brock and the guys. I didn't even notice that it was 9.5% until I got to the bottom of the glass, so its not something overly noticeable in my opinion. Very nice beer. Heres what the folks at BA had to say.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
The Magnolia Brewery had around 1- building spread out along Buffalo bayou and in 1903 produced half a million barrels of ice and brewed 200,000 barrels of beer. A few years later they were producing enough beer that they were running boats from Houston to Key West marking the beginning of plans to spread their beer to Cuba. The taproom actually opened up around 1912, however as with most breweries prohibition was not kind, that and a pair of floods caused the brewery to eventually close in 1950. Mr. Truxillo bought the building in 1967 and has worked to restore it since then.
All in all I couldn't be happier that the City of Houston decided to create this protected landmark.
Monday, October 09, 2006
The Beer: They call this an Imperial IPA a super duper hopped up India Pale Ale. The details: 20% abv, 120 IBU, boiled for 2 hours (where the 120 comes in) while being continuously hopped, then dry hopped daily for thirty days, then aged for another month in whole-leaf hops. Its hop infused to the max. It pours a light orange color with a thick pillowy cream colored head. The nose is hoplicious, floural, pungent, overpowering. The mouthfeel is THICK you know your drinking something. Total hops in the mouth, spicy, tingles the tongue it almost burns. There are hints of raisins that start to come out, but there is a definite burn of alcohol in the aftertaste. There are so many different complex layers of bitterness you can't tell where one starts and another begins, you just feel the waves and differences. Honestly I don't know what to think, its almost too much. I bought a few bottles so I plan on letting them sit, and see if they mellow out before I make my final verdict. In the mean time here is what the folks over at BA had to say.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
The Style: Ahh yes the Double IPA, a truly American Invention. The British created the India Pale ale as a way of hopping up and preserving their Pale Ale to ship to the British soldiers that were stationed in India. These souped up beers were higher alcohol and were better preserved for those far flung soldiers of the British Empire. However one day one of the ships crashed on the rocks of British Coast. The barrels washed up on shore and once the locals got a test they clamored for the brewer's to make more of this amazing nectar so that the locals at home could have some. The rest as they say is history. A Double IPA or Imperial IPA is just an even more hopped up IPA, more alcohol and more hop greatness.
The Beer: As mentioned this is part of Lefthand's BIG MO series, bottle conditioned topped with a champagne cork and weighing in at 9.6% alcohol. Here are the stats. Malts: Castle Pale, Rye and a proprietary custom malt. Hops include cascade, glacier, tomahawk, liberty, and crystal dry. The IBU is 87.
Now on to the tasting. The beer pours a bright orange with a thick foamy head. Floral hops in copious amounts on the nose. The mouth is full of spicy bitter hops, that tingles the tongue, biting you in the jaw. An amazing beer. One of the nice things I liked is that the alcohol was really well hidden with the hop bitterness. Here is what the folks over at BA had to say about this thoroughly enjoyable beer.
Monday, October 02, 2006
I'll give some tasting notes in a bit, but just wanted to expound on my little adventure. I went with my fiance (who is from Denver) her sister and her friends. I went with the goal of trying either new beers from brewers that I was familiar with, but had never tasted (think Dogfish head), or breweries I had heard of, but had never tasted any products from (think Russian River which doesn't get distributed to Texas). Lastly I went looking to meet as many people as I could. And that was a success. At the Dogfish Head booth, Sam the man himself was their pouring beers as fast as he could. At the Brooklyn Brewery Mr. Garrett Oliver was standing there. I was able to get just a few minutes of his time to talk to him. Very very nice guy, very down to earth. The last person I met was Maureen Ogle the author of the new book Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer. I picked up a copy of her book at the Festival, and she promplty autographed it. She seemed somewhat at ease that everyone wanted a copy of her book and that people had heard such good things about it. Again very nice lady.
Ok on to the tastings. Since the festival is not conducive to true tastings (small pours, beer not at its freshest, inappropriate glass wear, too many different styles and flavors piling up on top of eachother) I will give a list of the beers that I tasted as best as I can remember from my notes. Unless stated otherwise assume that I enjoyed the beers.
21st. Amendment - 21A IPA (HOPPY!!!) and watermelon wheat (amazingly refreshing, not to sweet.
Alaskan Brewing Company - Alaskan Smoked Porter 2005 (awesome, I now know what the fuss is about) and Alaskan Stout.
Allagash - Interlude
Anchor Brewing Company - Foghorn (amazing barley wine, very nice)
Boston Beer Company - Sam Adams Cream Stout
Boulder Beer Co - Mojo IPA (WOW was this amazing, hops zinging the tongue) and Hazed and Confused (even better than the Mojo).
Brewery Ommegang - Three Philosophers Quadruple (amazing malty goodness, this was one of the best quads I ever had).
The Brooklyn Brewery - Brooklyn Chocolate stout (chocolate covered esspresso beans), Fortitude (amazing), Brooklyn Weisse (bananas, bananas, bananas)
Butte Creek Brewing Company - Organic Revolution X (very nice organic brew).
Deschutes Brewery - Broken Top Bock (amazing) Inversion IPA
Dogfish Head Ale - 90 minute IPA run through Sam's wet hop contraption, Red Ale Cask Ale
Firestone Walker Brewing Co - Firestone Walker "10" (did not enjoy this at all too sickly sweet)
Goose Island Beer Co - Pere Jacques
Healthy Brew - Snowman's Revenge and Wheat Serenity (my fiance really really enjoyed this Texas Organic wheat beer).
He'Brew Beer - Messiah Bold and Bitter Sweet Lenny's R.I.P.A. (this was an amazing very unique rye IPA, great balance of flavors).
Leinenkugel Brewing Company -Cream Dark (very nice, many of my northern friends swear by this beer, now I know why).
Live Oak Brewing Co - Old Treehugger (an ok barley wine).
Odell Brewing Co - Cutthroat Porter (disappointing from a brewer I tend to enjoy)
Pennsylvania Brewing Co - Penn Oktoberfest
Rogue Ales - Brutal Bitter (Oh yes its BRUTAL (in a good way)) and 12PA
Russian River Brewing Co - Supplication (utterly disappointing, wish I had tried some others but they were out of Pliny the elder that I really wanted to try)
Sierra Nevada Brewing CO - Wood Aged Bigfoot Barely Wine (very nice, the oak aging added a whole other experience to this already amazing barleywine)
Snake River Brewing - Zonker Stout and OB-1 Certified Organic Brown Ale
Stone Brewing - Oak Aged Arrogant Bastard (talk about arrogant! this was GREAT) and 10th Anniversary IPA (as close to to much hops as one can get and still love it)
Well that's about it, at least as far as those that I took notes on and that I can remember.
Shout out to local Saint Arnolds Brewing for gathering in another award for its Kolsch style Lawnmower Beer, great job guys!
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
The Grape: This little known grape grown almost exclusively in Sicily is starting to become more well known. While it will never be as popular as Merlot or Cab it's influence is spreading within its home country. The name means "the black grape of Avola." In its native home of Sicily Nero d' Avola also goes by the name Calabrese. Avola is a wine growing region in southern Sicily, and this particular grape has evolved over the centuries of grape selection and cross breeding.
The Winery: Unfortunately I couldn't find much on the winery other than they are from Sicily. They also seem to be well distributed over here in the states, also making a Syrah which is an interesting choice from an Italian winery.
The Wine: The wine weighed in at about 13% alcohol. It poured a deep dark ruby red with a nose full of musty earth, berries, and oak with maybe a hint of raspberries. The mouth was full of cherries, dried fruit, and quite a bit of alcohol which was suprising. The wine finished dry with not a lot of tannins. I think that this wine could probably have used a little more aging to mellow out the alcohol. A wine I'd grade a C-.
The Beer: Pours an orangish brown almost amber liquid in the glass capped off with a pillowy creamy head. The head dissipated over time leaving copious amounts of lacing. The nose is malty with just a bit of floural hops, some honey and raisiny scents as well. The mouth has more sweet caramel and roasted hops with a bit of hop bitterness and some alcohol burn on the finish which isn't too suppressing as the beer weighs in at 9.1%. The beer was very creamy, very nice, and very smooth. Here's what the folks at BA had to say.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
The Style: Dark lager or in German Schwarzbier is quite a unique beer. A Bohemian style of beer from the East German town of Bad Kostriz this beer is so dark it resembles an Irish Stout. Not something that usually comes to mind when one thinks of lagers. They are known for being opaque with little to any light showing through. Full of snappy bitterness, dry coffee flavors and a light to medium body that conflicts with its dark nature.
The Brewery: This beer is brewed in Shiner Texas at the Spoetzl brewery. The oldest brewery in Texas is no longer a small family run business, but a brewery that distributes across the country. While I am not a huge fan of many of their beers, especially their ubiquitous Shiner Bock, there are some other's that I quite enjoy. Their Dunkelweisse is very nice as is their summer beer Shiner Kolsch. While I wish they would increase their quality across the board they make enough interesting beers to keep me coming back and checking them out.
The Beer: As advertised this beer pours a rich deep opaque black in the glass with a thick thick tannish head, that slowly dissipated over the course of my drinking it down, but leaving plenty of lacing. The nose is full of malt, roasted and caramel, hints of esspresso bitterness. The mouth shines with those same malty flavors with more pronounced esspresso and burnt coffee notes and a slight chocolatey note. This is VERY nice, I really did enjoy it. Here is what the folks over at BA had to say.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
The Brewery: Buffalo Bill's is a brewery and restaurant located about 20 minutes south east of San Francisco in the town of Hayward. They are also one of the oldest brewpubs in America having started waaaaay back in 1983. The brewers are Goeff Harries and John Carbone and they have created some pretty unique beers including Orange Cream Ale, Blue Christmas (made with Blueberries), and of course the Pumpkin Ale.
The Beer: The last few seasons I have picked this up at my local Spec's or tried it at the local Flying Saucer and have always enjoyed it. This will be the first time drinking it as a "Taster" (whatever that means). The beer pours a nice amber brown in the glass with a foamy head that disappointingly dissipates completely with minimal lacing. Ahh but the nose was fabulous, with Pumpkin being the king and the spices taking back seat. On the mouth there is still that overwhelming pumpkin flavor and at first the spices didn't seem to be there. However as I continued to sip the nutmeg, and cinnamon finally started to come out introducing themselves in a wonderful way. To me this was less pumpkin pieish than the other two and more Pumpkin with some spices. The beer weighed in at 4.9%, and while not heavy, the richness of the pumpkin flavor would keep me from drinking more than 1 or 2 in a sitting. This is a pretty nice little beer. And although most didn't like it here is what the folks over at BA had to say.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Before brewing can begin, barley kernels must be 'malted', explained the ARS. Malting begins with steeping the kernels in water until the seeds begin to sprout, or germinate. This process helps cue production of enzymes that are crucial for turning starch into sugar. In nature, the young seed needs this sugar for energy to grow. In malting, brewers need it for fermentation.
The article then explains that by creating a new barley enzyme that can yield up to 30 percent more sugar thereby being more efficient. This new barley enzyme was built based on the enzymes of a sugar beet the most efficient model the scientists could find. This article raises some interesting questions for me. I have written about organic beers a few times in the past regarding the growth of this trend. But how bout the opposite direction...what about custom beers? Would we all buy beers that were made of custom created barley, or how about hops that generated a certain amount of bitterness and grassy flavor with none of it being created by nature?
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
The Beer: The beer weighed in at a robust 7%. It poured a very dark brownish Amber, much darker than the Shipyard version I tried previously. This brown liquid was capped by a pillowy tan head, that dissipated to a thin line of foam with copious amounts of lacing. The nose was full of nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon and of course a good dose of pumpkin. My first sip was of liquid pumpkin pie, all the flavors were there with maybe cinnamon being the powerhouse, just a bit of hoppy bitterness at the end. This was a wonderful drink. The beer warmed as I sipped this beer, the flavors only intensifying with the warmth. I rather enjoyed the experience here. This is what the folks over at BA had to say.
Monday, September 04, 2006
The Brewery: Saint Arnold's is located on the north west side of Houston. I love this brewery and have made many a travel up on a Saturday for their tastings. The brewery was started by Brock Wagner and Kevin Bartol on June 8, 1994. This is a small operation of 17 people and having talked to many of the employees including Brock its more of a family and not a business relationship. Brock began as a homebrewer, his day job being a financial analyst in downtown Houston. After realizing he would rather make beer than work in finances he worked with Mr. Bartol to create Saint Arnold's the patron Saint of Beer. Mr. Bartol is no longer involved in Saint Arnold's (nope nothing sinister). All of Saint Arnold's beers are not pasturized creating beers of greater depth, taste and complexity.
The Beer: It pours a nice dark amber with an inch or so of light tan head. The head dissipates into a thin line with ample lacing. On the nose, malt is the highlight, plenty of caramel and roasted flavors with just a hint of floral hoppy bitterness. The mouthfeel is heavy, smooth malty sweetness more of that caramel and roastyness with some underlying toffee flavors coming out. The sweetness is noticeable but not cloying. A bit of bitterness at the end. Nice carbonation in the beer. As the beer warms up it develops a little bit of spicy undertones adding some nice complexity to the beer. Very nice beer, I'd grade it above the Sam Adams version. Here's what the folks at BA had to say.
The Brewery: The little brewery located in Austin Texas is owned and operated by Rob Cartwright. Rob got his start home brewing in his native Canada due to the incredibly high beer taxes. He came to Austin to attend the University of Texas and in an effort to save money he brewed his own beer. However as any college student knows he needed to earn money so he started brewing at the Copper Tank a nice brew pub. After working at the brewpub for a couple of years Rob realized he wanted to create his own style, his own beer. Independence Brewery is the culmination of his dreams.
The Beer: The beer pours the typical pale ale color, an orangish brown. There is almost no head in this beer and minimal lacing. There is a nice amount of hoppy bitterness in the nose, but in the mouth it seems to have disappeared and it not nearly as apparent. Limited malt notes in the beer and the mouthfeel was somewhat watery. I'd rate this beer a disappointment. Heres what the folks at BA had to say.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
The Brewery: Shipyard Brewery is the largest brewery in Maine, based out of Portland. The brewery began in 1992 by master brewer Alan Pugsley and businessman Fred Forsley as Federal Jack's Restaurant and Brew Pub in Kennebruk Maine. Eventually demand outgrew the location and Shipyard was set up as an independent operation in April of 1994. As stated above it is the largest brewery in Maine and last year shipped over 770,000 cases to over 30 states. This is not a Microbrewery anymore, but it is a top notch Craft Brewery.
The beer: It pours a bright orange in the glass with a quarter inch head that quickly dissipates into a thin line with some (not much) lacing. The nose is full of pumpkin pie spices, hints of nutmeg, cinnamon and of course pumpkin. The mouth is much of the same. This is liquid pumpkin pie, exactly what I was hoping for, which just a bit of hoppy bitterness on the aftertaste. I do have some minor complaints as the mouthfeel is not as thick as I would have liked, its almost a little watery feeling, but still a pretty good beer. It seems that most of the folks at BA didn't enjoy it much.
Oktoberfest beers are the traditional style of beers that were at one time brewed for the Oktoberfest in Munich that takes place in late September. The tradition harks back to around 1841 when a Viennese brewer created a high malt beer. This beer was the basis of Gabriel Sedlmayr's (he of Spaten Brewery in Munich) beer that he named Marzen (or March). These traditionally strong beers were made in March, then stored in ice filled caves until the next fall. Marzen style beers became linked to Oktoberfest and some beers still call there brews Oktoberfest Marzen (think Spaten's version).
American Style fall beers are either the above Marzen style ales or what I call Spicy ales. In my experience these beers use fall spices, (think nutmeg, cinnamon, etc) to create a unique experience. My favorite of these are the Pumpkin ales that many a Craft brewer makes.
Over the next few weeks I will be tasting and reporting on as many of these beers as I can get my hand on.
Saturday, September 02, 2006
The sad part of this article is the demise of another local New Orleans Brewery Dixie Brewing. While not a huge fan of their ubiquitous Dixie Brew which is basically no different than any other old school regional pilsner (think Pabst), their Blackened Voodoo beer was enough to get anyone's attention and it will be sad day if this is the last we have seen of it.