Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Updates on Southern Star

After two weeks of a hellish work schedule I'm going to try and get back to a more regular posting schedule. My first write up is with Texas's newest brewery, Southern Star. Based out of Conroe, they have already announced their first beer, Pine Belt Pale Ale, served in can's no less, something I'm a big fan of. Well, they've announced a Grand Opening Open House. The even will be on April 5th where there will be plenty of refreshments. Their Pale Ale is about ready to go out to the world and they have a yet unnamed Dortmunder Lager brewing as well. So if you're free on the 5th head up Conroe way and support our newest brewery.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Session #14

My three hundredth post! Appropriately its going to be on the Session, the monthly virtual beer tasting with a different host and different theme every month. This months host is Stonch, a great beer blogger from across the pond. The theme this month is pretty interesting: Beer People. Write about people or as Stonch puts it:
That person might be a brewer, a publican, someone who sups at your local, or maybe just a friend who is passionate about beer. Let's read some pen portraits of your companions on the path to fermented enlightenment.
Date of the 14th Session will be April 4th. I think this is a pretty fun one as good beers are good beers, but when they're with your friends, or drank over discussions with brewers or publicans they can be come great.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Left Hand Widdershins Barley Wine

Well its that time of the year, March has started and Spring is around the corner. It means it time to turn our backs on our favorite Winter Beers and start to look forward to the rich malty beers of Spring Bock's. But before we do that, its one last look at winter beers and one of my favorite styles, Barley Wine.
The Beer: This version from Colorado's Left Hand is aged 50% in Oak. The beer pours a bright amber with plenty of lacing and low carbonation. The nose is of oak, orange, vanilla, malt. The mouth is oaky, woody, dry, fruity and rich thick roasted malts. Maybe a little cardamon. Initially the hop profile is very subtle, but the aftertaste has strong earthy, grass, stoney hop flavors. Very nice with some pretty good depth of flavor that comes in waves. Thoroughly enjoyable and something I'll definetely be looking forward to next season. This one gets a B+ from me. Here's what the folks at BA had to say.

Friday, March 07, 2008

The Session #13 Organic Beer

Yes its the first Friday of the month, that means its time for the monthly virtual tasting that we've all come to know and love. This month the Session is hosted by Chris O'Brien of the Beer Activist and the focus is on Organic Beer. It seems the new "it" words these days are Organic or all things 'Green'. But with those words one must ask what they really mean. Is organic just the growing of plants, vegetables, and even animals without antibiotics, chemicals or for that matter anything artificial? Or is it something more? Can a massive corporate entity plant a few hundred acres of 'organic' greens, growing them so close together and with no rotation of crops, thereby destroying the soil, be called organic? To me the terms organic and green should be mutual terms. To be organic shouldn't just mean not using chemicals, it should mean trying to be sustainable, helping and nurturing the surrounding environment. Doing as little harm to the earth as possible. In fact using the earth to help cultivate your crops or animals, not damaging it in the process of growing ones food.
The unfortunate issue as a beer drinker is that Organic beers are few and far between. This is not due to brewers not wanting these organic products. In fact I'm sure if you asked most would want all organic products. However for anyone that's visited a Whole Foods, you know that organic isn't always cheap. Therefore the problem is that its difficult to find a large supply of organic hops and malts for a beer. Mostly what you'll find is Organic barley, however Organic hops farming is starting to make some in roads. To put craft beer into my definition of what Organic should mean is to touch on the subject of those brewers sustaining in some way. Whether its on a larger scale like New Belgium who uses wind power to power their operations thereby limiting their carbon foot print, or to a lesser scale to those many brewers that give their used barley to local cattle farmers, thereby limiting waste, craft brewers tend to care deeply about their environment.
So the question that I'm finally getting around to, is what beer to choose for this weeks Session on Organic beers. Well I headed to that holy land of all things Organic, my local Whole Foods and selected a beer brewed specifically for the market. The beer comes from North Coast and is their Plowshare Stout.
The Beer: The beer is made with organic malts, but I'm assuming conventionally grown hops. This is an Irish style stout and weighs in at 5.7%. The beer pours a dark brown with a cafe colored head. Smells of strongly roasted malts, chocolate, cocoa, coffee. The mouth is sweet malts, coffee, espresso, a little of a burnt taste, and also a little watery. The mouth is not as strong as the nose, a little thin. A very tasty beer even if its not as robust as i would like. Easy drinking, highly quaffable. Good stuff, if nothing to necessarily write home about. This one gets a B from me. What do the folks at BA have to say?
Now that about wraps up my post for this months session, so head over to Chris's Blog and checkout his wrap up.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Tommyknocker Imperial Nut Brown Ale

As I've mentioned many times in the past, my wife is from Denver so I get ample opportunity to make my way to that haven of great beer and tour many of its breweries. One of the first I toured years ago while we were still dating was up in a tiny mountain town named Idaho Springs. There I was introduced to the local brewery pub Tommyknocker's. The beer alas was good, but not great. Fairly inconsistent in my opinion, and also lacking in flavor. They were all ok, but nothing that I would go out of my way for. Well last time I was in Denver, we actually went back to Tommyknockers, and in going through some of their beers, I was able to taste their Imperial Nut Brown, a souped up version of their Maple nut brown (made with real maple syrup). It was fantastic, so months later I was extremely excited to see it at my local Central Market. Let's see how it held up.
The Beer: The beer is actually a 10th anniversary ale and weighs in at 9.8% alcohol. Made with Chocolate and crystal malts and a blend of American and European hops. The beer pours a very rich dark brown with a taupe cafe colored head. The nose is malty and raisiny with a bit of roasted malt notes. The mouth is rich, maple sugar, raisins, chocolate, creamy. Put it all together and it's reminiscent of pancake batter with hints of nutmeg. Very smooth over all, if a bit sweet. Only slight hints of alcohol. This would be a great dessert beer, the biggest negative is what you would expect. Its almost cloyingly sweet which would prohibit one from drinking multiple pints. Overall I think its one of their better beers, and I'd give it a B. Here's what the folks at BA had to say.