Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Barley Vine going on a Hiatus

I've been blogging on this site for well over a year now, first with wine, then with my true love, beer. In all that time, I haven't taken much time off, but that changes today. I won't be blogging much over the next week, and none the week and a half after. I'm heading to Denver today to get ready for my wedding next weekend, and then off to my honeymoon. I'll try and post some thoughts on some great Colorado beer, and I'm even going to try and post my entry for the next Session over the next week. Other than that posts will be scarce if nonexistent until the middle of October. See you all then.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Avery's Kaiser Imprerial Oktoberfest Lager 2007

I know its only September, but this will be my last Okotoberfest Beer post for a while (more on that later today). Ever since the Oktoberfest beers started showing up at my store, I have been looking forward to seeing this beer in particular on the shelves. I had it last year and really enjoyed it. So how was the consistency between years you ask?
The Beer: The beer weighs in at a powerful 9.37%, slightly more than the 9.1 of last year. It pours a nice orange amber, with a foamy quarter inch creamy head. The nose is full of malt, caramel, some floral hops, roastiness. The mouth is incredibly complex. It starts with some malty sweetness, then there is some hits of hoppy bitterness and spiciness, before ending with a creamy caramelly sweetness. Just a very multilayered beer. Its rich, very rich. As the beer warms, you get more and more caramel sweetness, maybe a little too much. The richness of the beer, more than the alcohol is the reason why I don't think I enjoy much more than a glass. A fine beer, just a little too rich for my tastes. I'd give it a B. Here's what the folks over at BA had to say. (note that they do not break their tasting notes into separate years).

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A quick post on Beer and food

In my ever expanding search for articles on beer and food I was excited to see this article from Barry Schlacter in the Fort Worth Star Telegram. Not only a good article praising two Texas Octoberfest beers, one the great Saint Arnold's version, the other from Rahr and Son's that I have yet to taste. But it goes on to discuss food pairings and how well Marzen style brews hold up to good food, showcased by a great recipe from Sam Adams.

Lagunitas Kill Ugly Radio

I saw this beer the other day at Central Market, and although I'm not a huge fan of Frank Zappa, I do like unusual beers so I picked it up. Dedicated to one of the singer's albums this is the second of Lagunitas Zappa Beer's (the first being Freak Out). I also noticed that the same day I bought the beer, the Jay over at Hedonist Beer Jive posted his thoughts on the beer. Now let's see where I stand.
The Beer: This is a highly hopped IPA and weighs in at a robust but not over powering 7.8% alcohol. The beer pours a golden amber with a thin white head. A noseful of pine needles welcomes you when you peak over the lip of the glass. The mouth is over the top with grapefruit and pine needles, minerally and something that I associated with limestone. But beyond that the pine needles over shadowed EVERYTHING. It was just to much, it was like eating a pine needles, bark and all. Very little balance, very little of anything else actually. I wanted to like this beer, but I just couldn't get myself to. I'd give it a very disappointing C. Here's what the folks over at BA had to say.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Breckenridge Autumn Ale

My latest quest for fine fall brews has taken me to this brewery in Downtown Denver. I have actually had the chance to go the brewery on one of my visits to Denver with my Fiance so I am more than familiar with their beers. There most famous is their Amber ale, however they have made some pretty good beers. To me the most notable of these being Vanilla Porter, 471 ESB (their 471 are 'small batch' beers), and Oatmeal stout. All very good beers, so I was pretty excited to try this one out when I saw it at my local Central Market.
The Beer: First things first, the website calls it an old ale, however I thought the flavor was more of Black Lager. The beer pours a dark rich brown with minimal head. Rich toasted malts up front with some underlying floral hoppiness. Bready yeasts, caramel, with roasted malts on the mouth. A warming smooth beer. Very nice, a bit of hops but really noticeable. At the end as the beer warmed up I started to get hints of raisins so maybe these are the traits of the old ale coming out. Not a bad beer, thoroughly enjoyable. I'd give it a B, but here's what the folks over at BA had to say.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Business of Saint Arnold's

Not sure how I missed this, but yesterday's Houston Chronicle had an article on Saint Arnold's Brewery. Mostly an interview with founder Brock Wagner, there were some interesting tidbits of information that I thought I'd pass along:
1) Their search for a new place for the brewery is on going, but to find the perfect place for the right amount of money is proving to be difficult in the current Houston market. Hopefully this will change and they can find a great locale.
2) Since 2001 they have grown by an average of 20 percent annually! Way to go guys, that's awesome.
3) Lastly a comment from Brock regarding the wonderful beer and cheese tasting of a couple of weeks ago:
People are also discovering that beer goes great with food, and that you can pair beer with food often better than wine. Two weeks ago we did a beer and cheese tasting. It was an incredible event. A majority of the crowd was predominantly craft beer drinkers, but there were wine drinkers along with their beer-drinking friends. At the end, they were the ones who were the biggest proponents of how wonderful it was.
Its good to see that Brock along with many others are pushing food, beer, and how well the two go together.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Bear Republic: Pete Brown's Tribute Ale

Its been a good time since Bear Republic has made its way to Texas and I have tried four of their beers. My thoughts on those beers are posted here and here. I was pretty excited when I walked into my Central Market and saw a new offering and a brown ale no less. I was pretty excited as the other beers I had were mostly a derivative of a pale ale.
The Beer: A traditional American brown ale made with molasses and brown sugar this beer was a tribute to a member of the Bear Republic family Pete Brown. The beer weighs in at 6.3% and pours a rich dark chocolate brown with streaks of red shining through, capped off with a thick pillowy taupe head. The nose is sweet roasted and caramel malts with molasses. The mouth is rich with notes of molasses and brown sugar. A very solid beer, but it missed that deep roasted malt flavor that I love about some brown ales. Still a good beer one I'd give a strong B. Here's what the folks over at BA had to say.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Session #8 Announcement

YES! Time for the monthly announcement of The Session, a monthly virtual beer tasting. The host this month is Beer Haiku Daily the theme this is month is Beer and Food. This is a great theme and one that is quite appropriate with the recent beer and food postings. More details from BHD:
I am looking for posts about pairing beer with food or using beer as an ingredient in food. I hope to see recipes, pictures, tasting notes, stories, menus, reviews or anything else that fits the bill of fare. Whether you write about which beer goes best with chili dogs or give your family’s secret recipe for vegan stout stew or post pictures of those ale braised lamb shanks you had last week, I want to know every mouth watering detail.
Sounds appetizing! I think this could lead to some great posts and more importantly a greater amount of educating, showing people how well beer and good food go together. Due date? 5 October. This means that I will probably be posting a little earlier as I am going to be pretty busy around that time......

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Food and Beer

One of my passions is food and drink. I love cooking and consider myself a pretty good home cook, and I feel there is nothing better than a well made dinner paired with a wine or a craft beer. I am always interested in events or articles on good food pairings. One of my all time favorite beer books is Garrett Oliver's Brewmaster Table, the gold standard I think for food and beer pairings. This is a prime reason for my excitement over the recent Saint Arnold's Beer and Cheese tasting, plus it showed there are certain things that pair better with beer than wine. In addition to my post there's been a couple of articles and postings about food and beer that I thought I'd pass along.
First, Stan over at Appellation beer writes about three brewery's setting up Beer and Food dinners. This is a really great way for the brewery's to do a little self promotion and eat some really great foods. I'd love it if a local brewery could set something like this up. (hint hint for anyone out there reading this).
Secondly Fort Worth Star Telegram's Barry Schlacter has a great article on beer and food. Covey Restaurant and Brewing holds a four course beer dinner each course pairing with one of their fine beers handcrafted right there. What a great idea and a place I will definitely have to check out next time I am up in Ft. Worth.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

I had the oktoberfest, so now its on to Pumpkin ale, one of my favorite beers. I don't know why, but to me the combination of pumpkin and beer is a wonderful thing. I tried the Dogfish Head version last year and enjoyed it so I was excited when I saw this years version in my local Central Market.
The Beer: Pours a bright amber with a thin foamy white head. A bit lighter than last year, more amber than brown. The nose is full of cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin spice, allspice and a bit of floral hops. The mouth is amazing, my tongue was shocked by the layers of cinnamon, and the creaminess of pumpkin with some sweetness of brown sugar. This is better than last year from what I remember and reviewing my notes. This beer has got it all. Its liquid pumpkin pie. As it warmed up, the spicey flavors really start to pop with nutmeg and allspice being the most prevalent. Very strong addition to anyone's pumpkin beer collection. I'd give it an A-.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Beer, Cheese, & Divine Reserve #5

On many Saturday's you will find my fiance, my friends and me at an afternoon wine tasting at the Tasting Room cafe. They usually do a good job of having 4 or 5 wines along with some interesting food pairings from their menu. Well this weekend was a little different, sure I was at the tasting room, but this time it was for the beer and not the wine. Tasting Room hosted their first Beer and Cheese tasting. I know that this will be hard for many wine lovers to believe, but beer actually pairs better with cheese, actually MUCH better, so this was something I was extremely excited about. To be clear, this wasn't any beer and cheese pairing....this was Saint Arnold's beer paired with Texas Cheeses, courtesy of the Houston Dairy Maids. The Houston Dairymaids are two young lady's that have traveled all over Texas to find cheeses grown in sustainable and organic methods. They distribute and sell these cheeses to local restaurants and farmer's markets. Now one to the pairings.
The first was pairing one cheese, a creamy hand rolled goats milk cheese with Texas Wheat and Elisa IPA. This tasting was used to show how two different beers bring out two different flavors in the cheese. The wheat really brought out the creaminess and tangyness of the goat cheese while the IPA brought out the earthy and nutty flavors. I preferred the wheat, while my fiance liked the IPA.
The second pairing was a Paragon cheese from the Velduizen family, a raw milk cheese, semi soft with a rich yellow color, paired with Lawnmower. This was probably my favorite pairing of the night as the Lawnmower really brought out the creaminess and nuttiness of the cheese.
Next up was the Brown ale paired with a fresh goat's cheese wrapped in Hoja Santa leaves. This gave the cheese a mild minty flavor, that I personally didn't care for and the match with the sweet maltiness of the Brown was a dud.
The Fifth pairing was Amber with a Queso Blanco with Chiles and Epazote. Epazote is an herb similar to oregano. The flavor combination of the queso blanco and the Amber created something completely unexpected that I can only compare to oven baked pizza dough topped with fresh mozzarella, very nice.
Then came the Oktoberfest paired with Deep Ellum Blue, a mild blue cheese from Dallas, TX. The sweet maltiness of the Oktoberfest blended seamlessly with the creamy tangyness of the blue cheese.
Last, was the treat of the day, Divine Reserve 5, a Russian Imperial Stout paired with a Texas Gold Cheddar. Now the Divine Reserve 5 isn't being released until the 11th, so having the opportunity to try it early was a treat. This is an amazing beer at 10%, opaque with a huge dark chocolate head. Chocolate, espresso and a bit of hops on the nose. The mouth is full of chocolate covered espresso beans a bit of burnt coffee, and just a hint of alcohol on the finish. Incredibly smooth and I sure didn't feel the 10%. Very nice and of all the Divine Reserves this is my favorite. The pairing with the cheese was just as incredible. You start with this nice sharpness of the cheddar and nuttiness. However when paired with this incredibly complex beer there is an underlying sweetness that comes out in both the beer and cheese melding the two together.

As you can see this was a pretty fun afternoon at the Tasting room. I also got to purchase a six pack of the soon to be released Divine Reserve another special treat!
Thanks to TTR, Brock and the Saint Arnold's Crew, and of course the Houston Dairymaids for putting on such a wonderful event, I hope they are able to put together another one.

The Session #7 Roundup

Well it was a fun time this month, the Brew Zoo, the seventh session, this time hosted by Rick Lyke. It's been fun to watch it grow, this month to 33 participants! Amazing. Head on over to Rick's page and check out his roundup. Stay tuned for the announcement of Session #8.

Friday, September 07, 2007

The Session #7: The Brew Zoo

Its the first Friday of the month, which means its Session Time. The host this month is Rick over at Lyke 2 Drink, the theme is the Brew Zoo. The idea is to pick a beer with an animal theme to it. With that in mind I searched high and low in trying to find a local Texas beer. I originally thought of Rahr and Son's Ugly Pug, a very nice Black lager, but I eventually settled on a small brewery from Austin, Independence Brewery. The beer was Old Jasperillo was named after the brewers old dog and features its likeness on the bottle.
The Brewery: The head brewer Rob Cartwright, a Canadian by birth, has been brewing since he was 14 years old! This was due to his parents trying to save money on beer because of the high beer taxes in his native Victoria, British Columbia. Eventually he headed down to the Lone Star State for college at University of Texas. During this time he started working at the Copper Tank where he learned the art of brewing from various mentors. It was at this time that Rob started getting that dream that all brewers get, opening up his own brewery. That has now been realized, and Independence Brewery has been running for a little while turning out some fine Texas brew.
The Beer: As mentioned above its named after the owners dog, is an Old Ale and comes in a 22 oz bottle. This may be the only Texas micro brew to come in a Big Bottle format. The Beer weighs in at 9% and pours a nice copper brown with a somewhat thin bubbly head. I have to admit I was pretty excited to try this beer as it seemed pretty unique in comparison to some of the other Texas Brews out there. Unfortunately my excitement was short lived. The nose was incredibly rich with floral notes, bready yeasts, sweet malts, warm caramel, and fermented fruit. It sounded good until I took my first taste, which was sickly sweet and full of fermented pears. I'm not sure if this was a bad bottle or not, but I was clearly disappointed. There were hints of goodness but they were far out shown by the bad. A C- for this beer. The folks over at BA have varying opinions.
I know this tasting was a disappointment, but I know that there are plenty of other members of the Brew Zoo to go check out. So head over to Rick's posting to see all the other wild animals.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Saint Arnold's Octoberfest

Labor day has finally gone. More than just symbolizing the end of summer and beginning of a school year it also symbolized a time to get ready for fall, and many brewers use this time to start putting out their fall beers, whether they be Octoberfest style brews or pumpkin ale these are some of my favorite beers. So over the course of the next month or so, I'll be trying as many fall brews as I possibly can, then maybe at the end, around the end of October I'll do a mass tasting to see which one I thought the best was. My first foray is one I had last year.
The Beer: Looking over last years notes it's held up very well and its a pretty consistent beer. It pours a bright amber color with a nice quarter inch taupe head, that has more staying power than last years. The nose is of roasted malts and caramel, with notes of yeast and floral hops. The mouth is sweet and caramel-y. Very little bitterness here, but copious amounts of malt-y goodness. Sweet without being cloying or overpowering. A very good beer in my book.