Saturday, November 29, 2008

Texas Brewery Quick Hits

Just a few quick notes from Texas Breweries.
- Conroe's Southern Star talks about a new beer they'll be releasing soon, Buried Hatchet Stout. An imperial stout that should weigh in at a robust 9% abv. Can't wait as I love this style.
- In somewhat old news, Austin's (512) has released their newest beer a Pecan Porter. I gotta say I'm sad I cant' try this beer as its a style I think more Texas brewries should be making. Texas has some of the best pecan's around and as other areas of the country are known for their blueberry beers, we could be known for our pecan beers.
- Rahr and Son's announced in early November that they's be distributing more of their beers to Austin, San Antonio, and Houston. hopefully that means I'll get some of their Bourbon Barrel Aged WinterWarmer.
- Lastly, San Antonio's Freetail Brewing is up and open for business. They've got good food and seemingly solid list of brews. One more reason to head over there.

Sierra Nevada Celebration - 2008

Hmm yup its post Thanksgiving which means that its high time to dive into more Christmas Seasonal Beers. When I first had this beer last year, I said it was good, but not what I was expecting. If you remember, I wanted a malty rich winter beer, and what I got while very good was an unexpected IPA. Well the good news is this year, not only did I try it knowing what I was going to get, I wanted it!
The Beer: This one weighs in at 6.8% and pours a hazy orange color with a thick white foamy frothy head. I can smell the hops from a foot away from the glass...and it smells delicious. There are notes of hops of course, grapefruit specifically. The mouthfeel is vibrant with an explosion of Texas Ruby Red grapefruit, with slight notes of toasted pale malts underneath. This IPA is chewy and thick, leaving the soul warmed, which makes this a perfect winter Christmas beer. The only sign left after I'm finished is a coating of thick lacing along the sides of the glass. Yup this is a good one. A B+ from me.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Anchor Our Special Ale

To beer lovers around the country, Christmas Season is here. It's here because Anchor has released its Christmas Ale 'Our Special Ale'. Anchor may have been one of the craft brewers to release a Christmas Ale, and has been doing so since 1975. Every year the ingredients change slightly as does the label for the beer. Each year the label contains a graphic of a different tree. It may not be the greatest Christmas Ale, but its always worth stopping down for and celebrating the season. To celebrate it's release this season I decided to not only try this seasons ale, but last seasons as well. I've been aging it since last year and figured there can't be a better time than now to open it up.
2007 Our Special Ale: Here's the link to my original post on this beer last year. Pours a rich hazy brown with a half inch taupe colored head. The nose is spicy with spruce tips, licorice and some malts. The mouth has good effervescent up front with a chewy finish. Spicy with some malty sweetness, with a bit if spruce tip taste to it. It seemed like this beer had lost a little bit of depth over time. As it warmed some more complex flavors came out like caramel, chocolate, roasted malts to round out the spruciness. Not as much as I had hoped a year later. Not sure if something happened during the aging process or not. This gets a B- from me.
2008 Our Special Ale: This one pours a little darker than the older one, almost black instead of brown. Good half inch taupe colored head. The nose is apricots, spruce tips, brown sugar. The mouth is chewy, dried apricots, caramel, licorice, sweet malts. As it warms I get notes of figs and even more roasted malts. It has some really good lacing. The 07 has the same base of flavors as this 08 but it's lost some depth of flavor. This one is very nice. This one gets a B+ from me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Quick Shiner Note

I saw this article and just had to write a quick note about it. For the past few years Shiner has been releasing a special brew leading up to their 100th birthday. They've had a Black Lager (that was so good they made it a regular beer), an Amber Lager, a helles, and a Marzen Style lager. This has all led to a lot of speculation of what would the special 100th anniversary beer be? Well the Austin Statesmen has answered that question, it will be a Dopplebock called Commemorator. Release date is to be in January, which is good that its so close as I'm extremely excited to try this beer. Since Shiner's flagship is a bock of sorts I had high hopes that they would go this route and put out a dopplebock. Go checkout the link above and read the article as its a well written one.

New Yorker Beer Article

You know craft beer is getting bigger, when a magazine like the New Yorker has an 11 page article on craft beer. This is an extremely interested article, not only for what it says but for how people have interpreted it (more on that in a bit). The basis of the article is on Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head fame. Now I have made no secret of my love of his beers as I think he's a mad genius so I was happy to see the love he got in this article. Besides going into a lot of detail into two of Sam's latest beers, the already tasted here Palo Santo Marron, and the I can't wait to taste Sahtea it covers some history on extreme beers. From the early days of American Beer we've had beers that some folks would call extreme, however as of late we've taken that to another level. From Dogfish's beers, to Sam Adams Utopia we yearn for bigger and bigger flavors (this is no different than in the wine industry with bigger and bigger Cabs). While I agree with what the article says and for the most part think that its very well written there is one thing that struck a nerve (along with other folks) and that was how it portrayed the great Garret Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery. Again I've made no secret of my admiration of Mr. Oliver as I think he's a fine brewer, but more importantly an advocate for not only great beer, but great beer and food pairings. The article, fairly or unfairly portrays Mr. Oliver as someone who not only doesn't like "extreme" beers, but thinks they are bad for the industry. Now I don't think that's true at all, and sure enough it isn't. This article has created quite the fervor on the Beer Advocate Forums with Mr. Oliver, Mr. Calagione, and the author of the article, clarifying what was said, what was meant, and the context of the quotes. Like I said I thought this article was well written, but at the same time you have to have your doubts if it takes as much as it has to clarify all the issues inside. The lesson here of course is don't believe everything you read. As always make up your own mind and go check out the article, and then go checkout the BA forum (Sam even name drops Houston's own Brock Wagner).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Two Big Beers on Fight Night

This past Saturday was Fight Night, so I figured it was a good time to drink a couple of big beers that I've been holding on to for a few weeks.
Stone Ruination: Ahh yes a big ole hoppy one from Stone. The first time I ever had this was on cask at the brewery, but I've been a big fan of this one for some time. This one packs a wallop at 95 IBU's and 7.7% abv. It pours a clear orange color with tons of tiny bubbles and capped by a white head. The nose is grapefruit rind, citrus, citrus and more citrus, with hints of toasted pale malts. The mouth is unsurprisingly a hop bomb, but there is some malty backbone that helps give it balance. Its bitter, grapefruit, its crisp and clean though. Very drinkable for being so hoppy. A good solid DIPA that gets a B+ from me. Here's what the folks at BA think about this one.
Rogue Double Dead Guy: This is a more potent version of Rogue's flagship beer Dead Guy ale which is a maibock. This more potent one weighs in at 75 IBU's and 9% alcohol. The beer pours an amber orange with a quarter inch white head. The nose is sweet malts, caramel, toffee, and a little bit of hoppy earthiness. Not like the other one at all. The mouthfeel is thick and creamy, very tasty, full of toffee and caramel notes. Rich and malty if a little sweet for me. A good soul warming beer as there is definitely some alcohol warmth to this one. There is some yeasty notes that with the sweetness of the beer reminds of a croissant. You don't get a lot of hops here, even with the IBU's, there's just a lot of malt hiding it. A good beer, but like I said a bit sweet. This one gets a B- from me. The folks at BA seem to like it just a bit more than me.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Brooklyn Brown Ale

After a series of bigger beers, its time to slow it down a little and have a taste of good ole session beer. Now this ones from a new brewery, well new to Texas at least. Brooklyn Brewery joins the ranks of Pike's, Oskar Blues, Summit, Deschuttes, etc that have penetrated the border (and the ridiculous TABC laws) and made their way to Texas. Brooklyn Brewery's head brewer is the great Garret Oliver, the man who helped take my enjoyment of craft beer and turned it into a passion of craft beer and food, with his book Brewmasters Table. So I'm pretty happy that they've made it down this way, as I've always wanted to try his beers. This will be my first beers of his to try outside of GABF, and I chose their Brown ale, mainly for my wife who is a huge fan of the style.
The Beer: This one weighs in at 5.6% and pours a clean brown, no cloudyness, or hazyness here. Capped by a good half inch head, that left plenty of lacing down the side of the glass. The nose is solid roasted malts, chocolate, and mild coffee flavors. The mouthfeel is effervescent, a little syrupy, and very malty. It has rich caramel and burnt coffee bean flavors. Much richer than I expected, along with mild earthy hoppy flavors. Good solid brown ale. This one gets a solid B from me. Can't wait to
Publish Post
try more of their beers especially more of the special ones. Here's what BA has to say.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Quick Hits: Wednesday Edition

Just a few quick notes on this post Veteran's Day Wednesday.
- An update to my post on Bobby Heugel's new bar Anvil. Knowing that the original opening date was mid-November I spoke with Bobby to get a status on his new endeavor. First off, he's left Beaver's for good, no turning back now. As for Anvil? Well they too have suffered at the hand's of Hurricane Ike. He doesn't have an exact new opening date, but expects it to be sometime around the end of this year, or the beginning of next. I'll be tracking its progress as I think this will be a really exciting place for not only the cocktail lover, but the beer lover as well.
- Houston Press's Robb Walsh follows up on his Texas Wants Beer article, with a short piece on quality beer findings at Texan's Tailgating.
- Finally, the 22nd edition of the Session has been announced. The host this month is 21st Amendment Brewing company. The due date is December 5th and it is also a day of celebration. It celebrates the 75th anniversary of the end of prohibition, which was of course marked by the passing of the 21st amendment. Funny how that all works out. Well if you've been following along you'll probably guess what the theme this month will be. From 21st Amendment's post:
What does the repeal of Prohibition mean to you? How will you celebrate your right to drink beer?
I was hoping that The Session would go back to more beer style theme's, but it seems this is not the case at least for another month. I'm also not sure what the affect choosing a theme that is so US centric on an event that has participants from around the world will be. I will of course participate, because I think its good to have an appreciation for what the 21st Amendment has done for us lover's of craft beer. So come back on Dec 5, and see how it all unfolds.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Oskar Blues Ten Fidy

First off, let me start this post by wishing everyone a Happy Veteran's day, and a Thank You to any vet's reading my blog.
Anyone that's read much of my blog knows that I've been a huge fan of Oskar Blues regular offerings and love the fact they can their beer. I'm also a big fan of stouts, and imperial stouts in particular. So combining my enjoyment of Oskar Blues, and my love of Imperial Stouts, I find their offering Ten Fidy!
The Beer: It weighs in at a hearty 9.5% and pours a pitch black with a thick darkly tan head capping it off. The nose is coco nibs, roasted espresso beans, and spices. The mouth is syrupy, thick and chewy, it coats the tongue. There's bitter roasted espresso beans, and dark chocolate with some figs. Smooth with just a bit of alcohol. There's a lot of different flavors here, but nothing that stands out. Don't get me wrong I enjoy the beer, but down here in Houston there's been a lot of hype on this one, and I'm not sure its all warranted. I'd take the SA Divine 5 and North Coast Rasputin over this one. A fine example still, just a little overrated in my opinion. It gets a B. Here's what the folks at BA think.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Session #21 Roundup

Its Monday morning, and the roundup of the latest session is on online. Pretty good participation, but many felt like I did, that its not as easy as it sounds to pick a favorite beer. Go check it out, because there were still a lot of great beers tasted. The Session #22 announcement to come soon.

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Session #21: My Favorite Beer

Its the first Friday of the month which means its Session Time. For the unitiated here's a link to what the session is. The theme for this month's session is "what's your favorite beer and why", the host is A World of Brews. There are many fellow beer bloggers that weren't thrilled about this month's theme because it's so hard to narrow down one single beer as your favorite. Initially I thought this was absurd, because surely everyone has a favorite 'go-to beer.' Alas, they were right. While I may have a go-to beer that I love (Saint Arnold's Lawnmower) I wouldn't call it my favorite all time beer. While I love barley wines, there probably isn't a single one that I've had that I'd call my favorite beer. So what to do you ask? Of all the beers from all the breweries I've stated I can say that I do have a favorite brewery. A place where they make amazingly different beers. From simple subtle pleasures to ones that are made to literally knock you out. While none of the beers may be classified as my all time favorite beers, there are many that are in my top 10. The brewery is Dogfish Head. From my first sip of Midas Touch, I was hooked to them. To make something that was so completely different from any beer that I had ever had, really opened my eyes to what beer could be. Almost every beer that I've had has continued to challenge that concept. Just when you think all they do is hoppy extreme beers (90 and 120) they make a wit style beer mixed with Pinot Noir and aged partially in Pinot barrels. Beer mixed with wine? How does that work? I don't know but it did. These are just a few of the reasons why Dogfish is my favorite brewery and anytime I see a beer of theirs I haven't tried I always pick it up. Even if that beer isn't my favorite it always challenges my senses. Recently I was walking through a liquor store and found a new beer from Dogfish that I hadn't had but had eagerly been looking for, the Palo Santo Marron. As with most Dogfish Beers, this is not just some regular beer. Sure its called a brown ale, but come one, you just know there's more to it than that. This brown ale is aged in Paraguayan Palo Santo wood tanks. Palo Santo means 'holy wood' and this wood adds some flavor characteristics different from any other brown ale out there.
The Beer: This brown ale weighs in at 12% so yeah you know this one's going to be different. It pours a deep dark brown, that's thick like molasses syrup. Its capped by a thin cafe colored head. The nose is vanilla, caramel, molasses, roasty malts. The mouthfeel is chewy, and thick, coating your tongue. There's extreme woodiness here, layers and layers of wood, with notes of caramel, honey, sweet chocolate, coffee, and spice. Its rich and complex, a beer I'd love to have with snow on the ground outside huddling around a fireplace. inside. This is an amazing amazing beer. It gets an A from me. Here's what the folks at BA think.

The folks at A world of Beers should have a round up posted shortly.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Southern Star Rauchbier

My Eat (drink) local challenge may be over, but it doesn't mean I'll stop drinking local beers. Last night was no different. Wednesdays at the Flying Saucer is pint glass night, and this week's free glass was from Conroe's own Southern Star Brewery. I figured this would be a good time to head down and try the new beer from our new brewery. Now this is not any new beer, this one is a unique one that few make (although I have had another Texas version), called Rauchbier, German for smoked beer. I really enjoyed this style and ever since the initial announcement I've been eagerly waiting to try it.
The Beer: The beer weighs in at 6.5% abv and pours a golden straw color with a thick foamy white head. I was surprised by the color as most of the smoked beers I've had are darker. With the first whiff my mind immediately went to a thick pork shoulder, charred after having spent the day in smoker. The nose was amazing. The mouth was BACON! Well bacon up front, with a creamy mouthfeel that causes the bacon-y flavor to smother your taste buds. At the finish there are some mild notes of pale toasty malts that add a little sweetness at the end. Overall this is a great example of a rauchbier. Now if Southern Star could get this thing canned and make it a year round beer, it would find a permanent place on my menus with smoked or grilled meats. This one gets a B+ from me.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Lost Abbey: Ten Commandments

Speaking of picking up beers at breweries I visit. I got this one during my Hurricane Evacuation to San Diego. This one is a more powerful version of their Lost and Found Abbey ale with an alcohol content to match. I've heard so many amazing things about this beer I can't believe I hadn't opened it before now. A few days ago, my wife and I had a couple of good friends over and I decided to open this one up for everyone to enjoy. I asked my friend who loves photography, to take some photos and some of them are what you see in this post.
The Beer: As with all of Lost Abbey beers, this one comes in a big 750 ml, with a champagne style cork and cage enclosure. It weighs in at 9.0% and pours a cloudy hazy brown, with a little cafe colored head. The nose has chocolate and espresso, maple-y woody notes. The mouthfeel is thick and chewy with notes of raisins, and figs. There is little to know carbonation here, instead is sits still in your mouth and coats your tongue. As one of our friends said the flavor builds and builds, spreading across the tongue before coming down into a long finish of spice and molasses. There are hints of sourness here that my wife compared to a chocolate covered sour cherries with some dark raisins thrown in for good measure. With all the flavor going on the beer does a great job of hiding the alcohol content. This is a great beer with a lot going on. it gets a strong A from me. Here's what the folks at BA had to say.

Quick Hits

Just a few notes on this Monday Evening.
- The beginning of November marks the end of my eat local challenge. Or in my case, drink local. How'd I do? Well I made it the month with drinking local, where ever I was I tried to drink local. I also learned that I need to do a better job of picking up beers from breweries that I visit and bringing those back home. Its a good opportunity for me to taste new beers, and its also a great way to savor the memories of a wonderful trip.

- Don't forget this Friday is The Session. The theme this month is to answer the question: "Whats your favorite beer and why?" Stay tuned, still trying to figure out what I'm going to do for this one.

- Saint Arnold's has announced that they are participating in a neat charity event on November 15th. From their newsletter:
VOLUNTEER DAY AT SALVATION ARMY TO MAKE GIFT BAGS Saint Arnold is joining members of the Chevron XYZ Club (this group has volunteered at many Saint Arnold events) to help the Salvation Army by sorting toys by age and gender, creating age and gender appropriate gift bags, placing age and gender labels on gift bags, decorating collection containers, etc.
When: Saturday, November 15, 10:00am - 2:00pm
Where: 10701 Jones Road, Houston, TX 77065
They'll even be serving their tasty root beer.

- Lastly tomorrow is election day, so please exercise your right and get out there and vote. If you don't than you can't complain!