Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Well the announcement for the latest Wine Blogging Wednesday has been announced and boy is it interesting. For the uninitiated WBW is a virtual wine tasting hosted by a blogger/webcaster/wine geek etc. A theme is set and then the host posts all the tastings in one location. This week the host is Beau over at BasicJuice. The theme? Choose either a Red wine from Washington, Spain or France, or choose a white wine from New York, Oregon, or Italy. Write up description of said wine, then email it to the host. The name or origin of the wines won't be included in the entry and a contest will be held to see who gets the most wines correct. Pretty damn interesting if I do say so myself. The deadline? Wednesday Oct 11. Come on back and see the results because for sure I will join in on this fun.

Its Time, Its Time!

Yep its that time of the year, the greatest beer festival in America is being held this weekend. The Great American Beer Festival held annually in Denver, Colorado. This is the 25th annual event. Marked by brewers all over the world, food pairings and this year a very cool event called Inside The Brewer's Studio, a spin off the popular Inside the Actor's studio where someone is going to be able to interview well known brewers from all over America. Anyways the point of this is that for the first time I will be going. I will be in Denver for another reason but I am going to attend at least one if not more days of the Festival. I'll post my experiences as I have time.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

2004 Corbera Nero d' Avola

My girlfriend is finally back in the country after 7 months living in Germany. A few months ago I was able to visit her over there and we took an excursion down to Italy which I wrote about. The other night we opened up one of the bottles that I picked up while over there.
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-.

Avery: The Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest

My latest excursion into the world of Oktoberfest beers came in the form of a BIG beer from a great Colorado brewery. I have spoken a couple of times in the past on Avery Brewery so you can check out that here. I have also spoken about the Oktoberfest style here. I will make a note that as it always seems, since its called Imperial, it is usually slightly more hoppy than the original and a lot more alcohol.
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

Shiner 97 Black Lager

Time for a taste of anther Texas home grown brew. This time with the largest distributed brewery in Texas.
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

WBW#25 Roundup has been posted!

I have been remiss lately in posting about wine and completely forgot about Wine Blogging Wednesday. This months event was hosted by Sam over at Beck's and Posh with the theme being Champagne...not sparking wine, but Champagne, meaning it had to come from there. Well the event went incredibly well and they received well over 40 entries. Check it out at their well written Roundup. Also stay tuned for WBW #26 to be soon announced and hopefully I'll remember to participate.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale

My latest excursion into all things that are Pumpkin. I have tried one from Shipyard ale, and another from Dogfish Head in the last week or so. However I had never had either of those, this time the choice was one of my seasonal favorites.
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

New Barley Enzymes

I came across a rather interesting story today about the creation of a new beer enzyme. The article starts out explaining the purpose of barley:

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

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

In my latest quest to try as many pumpkin style beers as I can, I picked up one at the local Central Market that I had never tasted, by a brewery that I love. I have written about the egnigmatic brewery Dogfish Head before so I'll go straight to the tasting of this unique pumpkin ale.
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

Saint Arnold's Octoberfest

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to try the Sam Adam's Octoberfest beer and rather enjoyed it. However I was very excited when Houston's own Saint Arnolds released their version this week. I have gone over the style of beer in an earlier post.
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.

Independence Pale Ale

In my efforts to try and taste more local Texas beer I picked this up at the Central Market in downtown Houston.
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

Shipyard Pumpkin Head Ale

As I mentioned in my previous post on Fall Beers, Pumpkin spiced ales are some of my favorite. They have such a unique blend of spices, malt, and hops to create an incredible experience. This weekend I picked up my first six pack of the season. This from Shipyard Ale.
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 and Fall Brews

This time of the year is one of my favorites. Leaving August behind and welcoming in September brings a good many things to the table. The tease of cooler weather, the beginning of the end of Hurricane Season, fall fruits and vegetables begin showing up at the markets, things like butternut squash, apples, sweet potatoes and of course pumpkin. This time also brings us some of my favorite style of beers. These beers can be broken down into two main categories: Traditioal Oktoberfest Beers, and American Fall beers, two very distinct styles, but both incredibly enjoyable.
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

Abita Update

I found a good article today in the Fort Worth Star Telegram about the Louisiana Brewery Abita. Abita is located across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans. Like most places in that area Abita suffered mightily from Katrina, and while its been a struggle, they are doing pretty well, in fact their production will increase this year, from 52,000 barrels to 60, 000. Not to shabby for this small brewery in Abita Springs. I have a special place in my heart for Abita. As a college student in Louisiana it was Abita's Turbodog and Purple Haze that got me away from the Miller and Bud that I had been drinking. This was my introduction to good beer, and it was quite an introduction. The dark smoky liquid that is Turbodog shocked me with my first sip, I didn't realize that beer could have this coffee flavor, honestly, at first I wasn't even sure I liked it...till that second and third sip. Then I had their Purple haze and that about jolted me out of my shoes. The taste of wheat and the vibrant electricity of the raspberries, I wasn't sure what to think, but I knew I had to try more. This was my introduction to good craft beer, and what an introduction it was. Abita has been around for 20 years now and it has released a very nice 20th Anniversary Pilsner, I haven't had it yet, but it will be around till the end of the year, so I have some time to pick it up.
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.