Friday, December 18, 2009

Year End Round Up

Its hard to believe that the end of the year is just a few short days away, and with that I thought I'd join many folks in taking a quick look back at the year that was (don't worry no top 10 lists here). Looking back at the beer world in general, and this blog and Texas specifically it was a huge year seeing a ton of positives, and luckily only a few negatives.
- Currently 162 entries this year, my most productive yet. I was blessed enough to focus not only on a ton of beer postings, but news, beer dinners, and book and restaurant reviews.
- This year saw a growing list of establishments highlighting craft beer: Block 7, Anvil, The Drinkery, House of Taps, and many more. It seems all of these are packed, showing that Houston does have a great craft beer culture.
- Some big anniversaries hit Houston Institutions this year: Saint Arnold's 15th, Flying Saucer's 9th, Petrol Station's 4th.
- Speaking of Saint Arnold's they moved into their big new brewery not to long ago and maybe, just maybe this weekend they'll be able to support tours.
- While we are on Saint Arnold's some bad news: Another loss in trying to allow TX breweries the ability to sell their beer's directly from their breweries occurred. We can only hope that enough support is growing and next time it will pass.
- While we can't seem to get local beer's direct from the breweries, Texas is getting more beer than ever from breweries new to TX: Ska, Twisted Pine, Mikkeller, Moylan's, Harpoon, Otter Creek, and many others came into our great state. Many other's expanded like Brooklyn. A great year to be a beer lover to be sure.
- As many times as I've complained about it, there were more beer dinners this year. From small relatively inexpensive events like this one at Gingerman, to more expensive ones like Saint Arnold's one at Brennan's Steakhouse it's wonderful to see these occur.
- A little outside of Houston over towards Austin, we saw Real Ale not only celebrate their 13th Anniversary, but saw them start bottling more beer's beginning with their Coffee Porter.
- Our brewery up north in Conroe is growing as well, introducing their Pro-Am Saison, and hopefully at the beginning of next year their Buried Hatchet Stout in cans.
- Nationally, beer was in the news most notably by the "Beer Summit"
- We also saw a nationally distributed documentary on beer this year: Beer Wars.

Its been a pretty good year for beer. So what does next year bring? Well besides more posts from me? More beer books to be sure, although there were several good ones that came out this year. As much as things improved this year, I'm hoping for even more beer dinners and beer pairings from local restaurants and bars. I also think we'll see even more new beers to this state. Which ones I don't know but if history is any key, they'll be good. Some new things from our local breweries. More bottled beers from Real Ale, more anniversary beers from them as well, also it will be interesting to see how/if Saint Arnold's changes now that they are in the new brewery: What will their next Divine Reserve be? Some special release ales? Will we see more TX breweries join in on the trend of barrel aging their beers? These are just some of the questions I have heading into next year. What are yours?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Boulevard BBQ

It's BBQ time. From Kansas City no less. Nope not talking the meat kind, the beer kind, specifically Boulevard's Bourbon Barrel Quad. BBQ is based off of their well liked Quad, but only loosely based. They took the base recipe of the quad aged it on cherries and in multiple different bourbon barrels for various lengths of time. They then took the all the different beer from all the different bourbon barrels and blended them into the final bottled product. Sounds interesting right?
The Beer: This one weighs in at 11.8% and pours a dark orangish color with a thick off white head of dense foam. The nose is tart cherries, vanilla, toffee, and wood. The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, lots of effervescence. Initial impact is that of tartness and sourness from the cherries, then sweet vanilla, before finishing with some oaky dryness. Some flavors of charred wood, bourbon, and toffee show up as the beer warms, as does some boozyness. Even with that boozyness it sure doesn't taste like an almost 12% beer, its very drinkable, although this one is best sipped slowly. Its very good complex beer, getting new flavors with every sip. This one gets an A- from me. Here's what the folks at BA had to say.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Gifts for your Beer Lover

There's still time left folks. If you are still looking for a gift for someone who is a lover of craft beer there is still time to get them a wonderful beer related gift.
For the Beer Reader:
You can go one of two ways here: Magazine Subscription or Book. There is a growing list of beer magazines out there and I've had a subscription to two of them and have regularly picked up 2 or 3 more. Of those there are two that I would highly recommend:
All About Beer: This is one of the original Beer Magazines and has a lot of respectable beer writers, including Rick Lyke, Charlie Papazian, Jay Brooks, Stan Hieronymus. Delivered every other month, yr subscription (6 issues) is $19.99
Beer Advocate: A relative new comer to the magazine scene, the website of course has been around for many years and has helped spread the word of good craft beer life few others have. A lot of the newer generation of beer writers show up here from time to time. Monthly magazine, 12 issues for $29.99
There are also a ton of beer books out there. One of the best this year that I have read and is easily accesible is Randy Mosher's Tasting Beer available at most books stores for 16.95.
Other book's to look out for are Garrett Oliver's Brewmaster's table, a must for any beer and food lover, and Dogfish's Sam Caglione's He Said Beer, She Said Wine is another wonderful food related beer book.

For the Home Brewer:
I am not a homebrewer really, although I have dabbled here and there, but I have seen some pretty neat gifts for them. One of the coolest are tap handles made of chalkboard material. Easy to install and great for the homebrewer to label their brews. These can be purchased from home brew shops, websites like Keg Works and even

For the Beer Drinker:
Well I guess that's all of us but it also could be for that person that you want to get into craft beer. one of the best ways to do this is to create a beer gift basket. Many stores have these already built, or you can build your own. Central Market, Spec's, Whole Foods, and Hubbel and Hudson all do beer gift baskets. Various prices, but check with customer service.
Beer of the Month club - I've never participated in one, but I do know there are quite a few out there, with many different options. Some have a West Coast only option, or Belgian Only, or American Craft Beer option. An easy way to customize the type of beer you want to give. Here are a few that I have looked into, but again I can't speak on how well the service works:
Microbrew Club from Amazing Clubs
From Clubs of America the Microbrew Club
International Beer Club

Or if all else fails seeking out that special beer that you know someone loves is always a perfect gift.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Beer Camp: Excursion #1

This past weekend was the first ever Beer Camp (well at least the first in Houston). What's Beer Camp you ask? It was run by a non-profit group called Live It Big an organization that helps charities raise money. This event specifically was for Friday Harbor, a charity that helps house cancer patients and their relatives when they come to Houston for treatment. For this event, the folks at Beer Camp asked Kevin Floyd of Anvil Bar and Refuge to host and moderate the beer tasting. The tasting consisted of 20 beers, 70% of them were not available in Houston. Most of these are pretty hard to find, highly rated brews that make a beer nerd like me giddy. So of course I went and it was a really wonderful time. The beers we tasted are below with some very brief tasting notes (after that many big beers, my palate started to fail).
Ommegang Hennepin - A 7.7% Saison from Cooperstown, NY. Cloudy hazy yellow, citrus notes, specifically lemon, white pepper, citrus peel, a little alcohol, very dry crisp finish. A wonderful example of the style
Lost Abbey Red Barn - A 6.7% Saison from San Diego, CA, Not Available in Houston. Much darker golden color than the Hennepin, clearer not nearly the haze. Citrusy, breadier, slightly sweeter. Very effervescent.
Lost Abbey Devotion - A 6.25% Belgian Pale Ale, again not available in Houston. Golden color with just a bit of hazyness. Sticky and floral, a little fruity. Hoppy up front, much hoppier than the nose. Smooth finish, very drinkable.
Southampton Grand Cru - A 9.5% Belgian Strong Ale, although we do have some Southampton brews in Houston, this isn't one of them. Almost an orange color, cloudy with bits of yeast in the glass. Syrupy smell, alcohol, concentrated fruits, almost smells like an orange liquor. Full syrupy mouthfeel, spicy, some alcohol boozy notes, caramel, candied sugar.
Ommegang Three Philosophers - A 9.8% Quadrupel with Cherry Lambic. Caramel colored, notes of candied sugar, sour tart cherries, caramel, dark fruits, hides the alcohol relatively well. Surprisingly well balanced. I've always enjoyed this beer.
Ithaca Excelsior Brute - A 6.5% American Wild/Sour Ale from New York. Not available in Houston. A pale hazy straw color. The nose is funky, tart, horse blankety, yeasty, grape. The mouth is more of the same, with a startlingly dry finish due to the champagne yeast used in the beer. This is a good sour ale, but there is not much complexity, it hits you with a wave of sour and funk, the just finishes bluntly and crisply.
Weyerbarcher Riserva - A 11.5% American Wild ale with Raspberries from Pennsylvania. Not available in Houston. Pours a ruby color with notes of sour and tartness, funky notes. Slightly sweet, fruity, syrupy, very effervescent, almost like pop rocks.
Ommegang Rare Vos - A 6.5% Belgian Dark Ale. A burnished copper color with a nose full of residual sugar, caramel, dark fruits, raisins, figs. The mouthfeel is more of the same, candied brown sugar, slightly sweet, plums, very good.
Stone Vertical Epic 09.09.09 - A 8.9% Belgian Strong Ale. Has been available on tap, but not in bottles. Syrupy black with a thick tan head. Roasted malts, dark fruits, plums, raisins, coffee, and caramel. Thick and tongue coating, bitter malts, candied sugar. Very good and surprisingly smooth, want to try this again on 12.12.12.
Dogfish Head/Three Floyds PopSkull - A colloborative 10% American Brown Ale, not available in Houston. An old bruin aged in Palo Santo with Botanicals. I was really looking forward to this beer, but not only myself but most of the folks in the room, couldn't tell the difference between this beer and Palo Santo Marron, still a good beer.
Dogfish Head Burton Baton - A 10% IPA aged in Oak. Pours an orangy copper color with thick tan head. Orange peels, bourbon-y, hoppy grapefruit. Very nice, I love this beer.
Stone 13th Anniversary - A 9.5% American Strong Brown Ale. Chestnut rich brown color. Very hoppy, with notes of hazelnuts, roasted malts, almost syrupy. Very hop forward brown ale. Again I've enjoyed this on in the past, very good.
Alesmith 2004 Old Numbskull - A 11% aged barleywine from San Diego. Not available in Houston. Pours a burnished copper with a good sized off white head. Brandy notes, caramel, toffee, treacle. S mooth and rich mouthfeel, very malty, caramel, sweet, but not cloyingly. Wineish notes as well. Really liked this one, huge fan of Alesmith, was happy to try this beer especially an older vintage.
Mayflower Porter - A 5.5% Porter, not available in Houston. A nice reprieve from the higher alcohol beers. Poured a dark brown with ruby colored highlights. Coffee, robust roasted malts, good bitterness from the hops. Good beer.
Troeg's Java Head - A 7.5% coffee Stout, not available in Houston. Thick black syrupy. Some coffee notes on the nose, but it underwhelmed a bit on the taste. Good roasted malts, a really good export stout, but not a great coffee stout.
Southern Tier Moka - A 11% American Imperial Coffee Chocolate Stout from New York not available in Houston. I have to say this was probably my favorite beer. Poured a dark rich brown with ruby highlights, chocolatey and coffee on the nose. The mouth was like chocolate milk. Just an amazingly tasty, scary drinkable beer for 11%.
Southern Tier Iniquity - A 9% Black IPA not available in Houston. Very black beer, that didn't have a lot of roasted bitterness. There was some maltyness to the beer, but not burnt malts like the color would indicate. Good hoppy brew, but not overly so, and not as much as I would have expected from the alcohol and it being an IPA.
Smuttynose Russian Imperial Stout - A 10% RIS from New Hampshire, not available in Houston. Pitch black with a thick dense head of glass coating foam. Alcohol, roasted malts, dark fruits, raisins, notes of coffee. Tongue coating, some acidity, burnt malts, toffee. Very good RIS.
2003 Alesmith Speedway Stout - A 12% Imperial Stout, not available in Houston. This may have been a little past its prime. Its dark rich black, syrupy, concentrated, a little off.
Three Floyds Dark Lord - A 13% Russian Imperial Stout. This was the one I was waiting for, for those that don't know this one is incredibly hard to find, and is most definitely not available in Houston. It has a huge cult following and is one of the higher rated beers on sites like Beer Advocate. Its released once a year with the full expectation to age well over a long long time. It pours a very dark black almost like oil. Big huge nose of roasted malts, and syrup, toffee, coffee. The mouthfeel is very syrupy and thick, highly viscous, with lots of residual sugar almost cloyingly sweet. Lots of alcohol. There's a lot going on here, toffee, coffee, burnt malts, alcohol, dark dark rich concentrated fruits. Its definitely a sipper and honestly a bit over the top. Its a beer that right now I wouldn't rate that high, but one that I would have great expectations for in a few years.

Well that's it. It was a lot of beer and of course a lot of fun. It's always nice to drink for charity and I'm glad I had the opportunity to attend. The next event will probably be in March. Special thanks go to Kevin who did an outstanding job discussing the beers and answering any questions the attendees had.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Brooklyn Monster Ale

Brooklyn Brewery is known for making great traditional style beers. Brewmaster Garret Oliver strives to make old world style beers. From their East India Pale ale, to their Weiss beer, they represent great examples of traditional styles. Well this is not only true of their standard styles, but their seasonal beers as well, like this barleywine.
The Beer: This is Brooklyn's barleywine and weighs in at 11.0%. It pours a burnish copper color with a thin off white head that quickly dissipates into a thin line. The nose is malty, caramel, a little bit of alcohol, fruity. The mouthfeel is full and malty, with some alcohol notes. Caramel, raisins, apricots, brandy-ish. There are some metallic notes, something almost brackish to the beer. Not sure what it but its off putting. There are some strong alcohol notes here, that I hope will settle out as this beer ages. Right now this one gets a B- from me. Here's what the folks at BA think.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Anchor Our Special Ale 2004

I'm a known and unapologetic homer for Christmas beers. I love them for their diversity, complexity, flavor and although it may not be cold here in Houston, they always make me want to be next to fireplace. One of the best out there, year after year is the always slightly different Anchor Our Special Ale. Beyond being a great beer, it ages incredibly well, inspiring many to age them for years and then throw together a monumental vertical tasting. Well no vertical tasting, but due to graciousness of a fellow beer lover I did get my hands on a 2004 beer. Now some folks that are used to drinking Bud won't believe drinking a 5 year old beer, but I'm here to tell you, great beer, ages greatly.
The Beer: It pours a rich brown color with a thick dense head of chestnut colored foam. The nose is full of spices, ginger, cinnamon, malts, figs, spruce trees. The mouthfeel is full and creamy, molasses, figs, spiced bread cake, rich and nutty, toffee. It just reminds one of Christmas. Time has been kind to this beer, and surprisingly left the spices in this beer in tact and still quite powerful, but balanced well with the maltiness of the beer. This was my desert beer last night, paired with a wonderfully made ginger bread cake, made with fresh ginger and the current vintage of Anchor OSA. Truly a match made in heaven.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Van Steenberge Withches Brew

I was up in the Ft. Worth area for Thanksgiving and while wondering around one day came upon this beer, one of the few beers that I saw that we didn't have down here in Houston (I know there's more, but this was the only random one I saw). It's from Van Steenberge in Belgium, makers of Gulden Draak.
The Beer: The beer is a Strong Belgian Tripel ale weighin at yes a strong 9.3%. It pours a hazy golden color with a thick frothy white head. The nose is floral, notes of honey suckle, noble hops, and yeast. THe mouthfeel is crisp and slightly sweet. Notes of honey, crystallized sugar, citrus fruit. Floral notes, some earthy hop bitterness, white pepper spice, peaches. THere is a slight astringency in the finish that is slighty off putting. A good beer, not a great one. It gets a B- from me. Here's what the folks at BA had to say.

How Many Beers?

265 Beers. What does that number mean? Its the combined number of beers that two, yes two brewing companies own in part or whole. Beer writer Jay Brooks has put together a list of beers that are either owned or have distribution deals with ABINBEV and MillerCoors. The scary thing is, this list may not be complete. Jay is working diligently to update and correct this list. Also as take overs and mergers continue to happen this list will only grow. Why publish this list? Is it to knock all of these breweries? No, its for education. All of us should be aware of what we are buying and who we are buying from, these things should be and need to be transparent.
There are multiple reasons that people like me get into craft beer. For most it begins and ends with wanting something that tastes good, that's complex, that goes well beyond the industrial lager that not only this country but the majority of the beer drinking world is inundated with. However there is a small group of beer lovers like me that love craft beer not only for what it is (something delicious) but for what it isn't (owned by huge industrial companies of questionable business ethics). I won't get preachy, as that's not my purpose here, only to say, its good to support local, and in my mind its good to support small hand crafted goods over large industrially made ones. Its why I point out this list as I think consumers of all products (but hey this IS a beer blog) should know where their goods are coming from.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Saint Arnold: Divine Reserve 9

Over the course of the last few days we've had Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and yesterday finally Beer Tuesday. What's Beer Tuesday you ask? The day Saint Arnold's released their latest in the Divine Reserve Series #9. Just like shoppers did last Friday, folks around the city headed out early yesterday morning and began standing in lines, most congregating at the downtown Spec's, some arriving as early as 8:30 am (remember Spec's opens at 10 am). As time went on the line grew and grew, stretching around the building to other street. Me? I arrived at 9:15 am and found about 40 people already in line. For some pictures of the scene checkout Ronnie Crocker's blog Beer, TX. Finally once the store opened I was able to grab my 2 six only concern being: "Is it worth it?" Well before answering that question we have to answer what type of beer is it. Its an imperial pumkin stout. Yes you read that correctly. It was brewed with a ton of pumpkin (mostly if not all canned) and a bunch of spices.
The Beer: This one is definitely Imperial weighing in at 11%. It pours a rich dark brown almost black with ruby streaks throughout. Capped by a cafe colored head, dense with foam. Very aromatic, I could smell the pumpkin well before holding it before my nose. Wow, its pumpkin pie, there is nothing shy about this beer it is in your face. Pie spices of nutmeg, Cinnamon. Notes of coco show up as well. The mouthfeel is full, my first impression is of pumpkin pie, luscious creamy pie with all of grandmom spices. A malty chewiness is my second impression. Very strongly spiced, the back palate has more rich malts then the front of pumpkin. Surprisingly I don't get a lot of alcohol, which makes this easy to drink.
As it warms the flavors meld together: chocolate, pumpkin, spices all coming together wonderfully. Also surprisingly with all the pumpkin and chocolate notes, this beer is not overly sweet, its balanced in this respect very well.
There are some rough edges to this beer, at times the spices can be over the top and too much conflicting with the chocolateyness of the stout. This unbalance can create a harshness to the beer that can be unpleasant. With the alcohol hidden it has the potential to be easy drinking, but this harshness conflicts with that at certain points. It's an incredibly filling rich beer as well. I don't see myself drinking multiple pints of this in one sitting it would just be too much. I do believe that this beer will do amazingly well cellared and I'm glad that I have enough to do so. I want to try it in six months and then again next year for Thanksgiving.
Taking all this, both the positive and the negative I have to say that I am incredibly pleased with what Saint Arnold has done with this beer, and it may be one of the best beers they have ever made. Now it gets an A- from me, but stay tuned as it ages my grade may change going even higher. The folks at BA are already rating and here's what they are thinking.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Odell's Woodcut No.2 Oak Aged Golden Ale

If Odell brewery keeps it up, they are very quickly going to be added to my list of favorite breweries. This small brewery from Ft. Collins, CO has a pretty good standard line up of beers, but its their special ales that are show stoppers. This beer, their WoodCut No. 2 is no different. A special series of beers, each aged in barrells have become very popular. Now they aren't cheap ($20+), so I definetely had to think about it before picking it up during my trip to Denver a few months back. Was it worth it?
The Beer: This one weighs in at a robust 11.0% and pours a dark copper with a thin bubbly head. Nose is oaky, caramel, malty, yeasty, and some notes of alcohol. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, bourbon-y, oak, vanilla, with just a slight bit of alcohol burn at the finish, balancing the sweetness that's apparent up front. Notes of caramel, brown sugar, and spicy hops show up as the beer warms in the glass. A very complex beer that drinks like a maple syrup-y bourbon. Its a very good beer, that gets an A- from me. Can I say it's worth the money? Thats up to you, I enjoyed it, and would probably buy another one to see how it ages, but its not something I would buy a lot of to cellar. The folks at BA enjoy it as well.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Stone Sublimely Self Righteous Ale

Beyond looking for new beers, I'm looking for new beer styles. As many beers as I have tried there are many styles that I've never had before. A recent example is the Eisbock from last week. Part of the reason I love beer is that there are so many different flavors and styles of beer that one would be hard pressed to ever try all styles. It keeps life exciting to try though. This beer something I picked up in Denver back during GABF is one of those new style types, a Black IPA. How can something be a pale ale and black at the same time? I don't know, but I do know its black and has the hops and flavor an IPA so until someone comes up with a better name, we'll go with it.
The Beer: It weighs in at 8.7% and pours a very dark almost black with a thick tan colored head. Notes of hops, grapefruit, lots of grapefruit, rich dark malts. Mouthfeel is full, hops, grapefruit peel, apricots, dark malts, dark rye breads almost like a schwarzbier. Rye bread with marmalade? Yeah that sounds about right. The hops really saturate the tongue like a good Stone beer should. They know their hops and this one isn't different. Good beer that has combined two different flavors that you usually don't see together very well. It gets a B+ from me. Here's what the folks at BA say.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Quick Hits: Tuesday Edition

It's been a while since I've had time to post much other than periodic beer notes on the blog. For whatever reason things are pretty slow here in the beer world, but I do have some news bits to share.
- Dec 1st, Dec 1st, Dec 1st, mark it down on your calender. The amazingly awesome (more on that in a bit) Saint Arnold Divine Reserve #9 Imperial Pumpkin Stout is released! If you don't want to mark it down on your calendar it is marked on mine on the right hand side of the page.

- Speaking of DR#9, the lucky people at Houston Press have actually had the chance to have some. All I have to say, is a Pumpkin in every keg.

- Many of us in our younger years went off every summer to camp. I doubt any of us went to the camp described by Houston Chronicle's Ronnie Crocker, yes that's right ladies and gentlemen, Beer Camp.

Monday, November 16, 2009

De Proef Van Twee

Now I've had a lot of experience with this brewery from Belgium, and I am a huge fan of their colloboration beers with America breweries. The first one I had was their partnership with Tomme Arthur, the second with Jason Perkins of Allagash. Well the good news, they have another colloboration beer out, this time with Bell's brewing out of Michigan. This one is an interesting beer, made with multiple yeasts, New Zealand Hops (Nelson Seuvin) and Michigan Cherries.
The Beer: This one weighs in at 7.5% and pours a rich dark brown with at thick tan colored head. Fruity and funky on the nose, notes of plum, grape, banana, horse blanket, yeasts. The mouthful is full and thick. Tangy from the brett that has been injected into the beer. Mild tartness, chocolatey, mild coffee, plums, gooseberries. All these many different flavors meld together incredibly well and leads to a smooth finish. My initial impression of the beer is a tart, tangyness and funk from the yeast then the dark rich fruits from the malts take over, before leading to a light fruitiness from the hops. It almost reminds me of a tart chocolate yogurt if that makes any sense. This one gets an A- from me. Here's what the folks at BA think.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Mikkeller Big Worse

We've been introduced to the greatness of the nomadic gypsy brewery Mikkeller with their tremendous Breakfast stout not to long ago. While that beer was not available in Texas, this one is. Big Worse is their Barleywine style beer and its brewed at the De Proef brewery in Belgium.
The Beer:b This one weighs in at 12.0% so you know this one is going to be a sipper. It pours a hazy chestnut brown with a thick taupe colored head. The nose is malty, dried fruit, figs, earthyness, toffee. The mouth is silky with very little carbonation. Rich dark fruits, sherry like qualities. Notes of figs, prunes, raisins, toffee. Incredibly its pretty easy drinking hiding its high alcohol, but its richness keeps it being a sipper. Some hop bitterness at the finish, not as much as an American Barleywine, but more than an English version, somewhere in the middle. It gives it a nice punch of bitterness against the richness of the malts. As it warms, you get some spiceyness, bourbon like qualities. Simply an amazing beer. This one gets a strong A from me. Here's what the folks at BA had to say.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Reaper Ale Sleighor

The ever growing list of new brewer's coming into Texas welcomes Reaper Ale Brewing out of Southern California. With a name like Reaper you can guess the theme of their beers. Cool website as well. Honestly I don't know much about their beers, or at least didn't before seeing this beer on the shelves of my local Spec's. But then again I can't turn down a Double IPA. As stated this is their DIPA, weighing in at 105 IBU's, finished with Centennial Hops, and dry hopped with Centennial, Chinook and Columbus.
The Beer: This DIPA weighs at 9.1% abv and pours a cloudy orangish color with a good dense head of off white foam. The nose is hoppy, boy is it ever. Grapefruit, jam, yeasts, toasty malts. The mouthfeel is medium to light body, but tongue coating hoppy. Grapefruit, biscuits, jammy. Good flavor all around, but not much intensity of flavor. Notes of white pepper biscuits grows as the beer warms. Notes of copper and just a bit of alcohol on the finish. A good beer, that I wish had just a little something more to offer. This one gets a B- from me. Here's what the folks at BA think.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Kulmbacher Eisbock

Its always nice to try new beers and living in Texas of late we are getting more opportunity than ever before to try new beers. Most of these beers are from American craft brewers but every once in a while we get a new import beer, this is one of those cases. However before getting into my review let's do an introduction to what is an Eisbock?
Beer Style: An Eisbock is one of the more unusual style of beers that Germany makes, and it has an interesting story to its discovery. Back in the 1800's a Bavarian barkeep (or some stories put it as his young assistant) left a keg of bock beer outside. It being a cold winter night, the beer was partially frozen. Depending on what story you hear, it was the last keg that the barkeep had and it was reluctantly used or the barkeep forced his young apprentice to drink what he thought was spoiled beer. Luckily for all of us it wasn't. What it was, was a syrupy concentrated beer, the water frozen, the alcohol remained concentrated throughout the rest of the beer. The German's named this new beer eisbock, more than likely a play on the other German speciality eiswine.
According to the BJCP the beer should have an aroma of rich intense malt and some alcohol presence. Its usually a deep rich copper to dark brown, very low carbonation and a full bodied mouthfeel. The flavor is of dark fruits, plums, prunes and grapes. There will be some alcohol presence in the flavor that should help balance the over all sweetness of the beer. Recognized to be a great digestif beer.
The Beer: The beer weighs in at a potent 9.2% and pours a very dark brown almost black with ruby highlights. Good sized tan colored head. The nose is malty, malty, malty, figs, plums, and just a mild bit of alcohol. The mouthfeel is thick, tongue coating, silky, no carbonation. Notes of figs and dried dark fruit. Coffee flavors, but not the burnt beans of a stout. Smooth and sweet, but not cloyingly so. Balanced by a mild burn of alcohol. A sipper for sure, a bit syrupy, but a wonderful dessert beer or just an after dinner drink with maybe a cigar. This I like, and must search out more of the style. This one gets an A- from me. Here's what the folks at BA had to say.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

A pair of Brooklyn Beers

If you've ever talked to me you know that I am a fan of brewer Garret Oliver, and his book Brewmasters Table made a huge impact on me and how I look at beer and food. Well a couple of weeks ago he was in Houston for the homebrewer's competition The Dixie Cup. As part of his visit he also did a tasting at our local Central Market and it was there that I got to spend some time talking to him. He's an extremely generous guy with his time and comes off completely genuine in his excitement of beer. It was also fun to get to talk to him about his beers and find out whats coming next. Good news: Monster Ale is coming and coming soon to Texas, we also may get some of the rarer beers as well that will be draft only. After talking beer with Mr. Oliver I just had to pick up some of his brews to drink at home. Unfortunately due to a work trip to Canada and a week of being sick its taken me this long to post on those beers.
Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout: Now I tried this on draft at Flying Saucers Anniversary party, but it was nice to be able to sit down in a quiet place and really enjoy the beer. This weighs in at 10.0% and pours a dark pitch black with a thick tan colored head. Notes of chocolate, espresso, coffee, malts. The mouthfeel is creamy and lush. Dusted coco nibs, espresso and chocolate, some citrusy acidity notes. Damn Ice Cream would go wonderfully well with this. Great beer that gets an A- from me.
Local 2: The second brew in Brooklyns Local series. The first was a Belgian Golden ale, this one is a strong dark ale made with local New York honey. It weighs in at 9.0% and pours a dark rich brown with a thick dense head of taupe colored foam. The nose has some notes of honey, sweet malts and fruity esters. The mouthfeel is very effervescent, notes of honey, malts, sweet dried dark fruits. Very sweet up front, before finishing startlingly dry, much like a Brut Champagne. Notes of candied sugar mix with the richness of the dark fruits. An amazing food beer that would go with everything from grilled veggies to frites (which is what I had it with). This one again gets an A- from me.
Two great beers from Brooklyn Brewery.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Deschuttes Mirror Mirror

If you know this blog you know that I am a huge fan of barleywines and I am always on the look out for new ones to try. That includes looking for them when I am out traveling, which is how I came across this one, picked up while I was in Denver for the latest GABF. This barleywine is a souped up version of Deschuttes popular Mirror Pond ale. Also 35% of the beer is aged in oak barrels.
The Beer: This one weighs in at a hefty 11% and pours a brownish amber, almost red color with a thick tannish head. The nose is hoppy and very malty, almost syrupy. There are notes of oak, dark bread, vanilla, caramel. The mouth is thick and chewy. Citrusy hops, marmalade, apricot nectar, oak, vanilla, and caramel are all there in various declious quantities. As it warms it becomes an even more complex sipper with an almost bourbon or sherry like quality to it. Shockingly very little alcohol in this beer. Notes of oak help balance the swtrong flavors of malt and hops in this inbcredible beer. This is surely one of my favorites and gets a strong A from me.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Book Review: Hops and Glory by Pete Brown

Everytime I am at a bookstore I was always head to the food and beverage section hoping to find some new book on beer. Some day's I'm lucky others I'm not. And sometimes the best books aren't even at a bookstore. For instance this one I was able to pick up at GABF as its not available in the US at this time. The book is written by British Beer writer (and British Guild of Beer Writer award winner) Pete Brown. It also happens to be one of the best books I've read in a long long time. The gist of the story is that Mr. Brown wants to re-create the journey that the original India Pale Ale's traveled from England to India, but the book is so much more than that.
I think most craft beer lovers are familiar with the story: The British Empire having settled India had a desire for good old British Beer, however by the time the beer arrived it had soured beyond drinkability. Enterprising brewers in London created a highly hopped beer and with the hops acting as a preservative, made the journey intact and was drank in large quantities by the British in India. As with most things this is only part of the story and even that is not the whole truth. Pete Brown's rather large novel takes us on two parallel journeys that help us discover the true story of India Pale Ale, a story that all of us Hopheads should read and enjoy. The book switches from Pete's struggle to recreate the journey (who knew how hard it is to book sea travel?) to the history of the British in India. It is this second story that makes this book much more than just one about beer. This book would do well on any History buff's book shelf and is it takes an unbiased extremely critical look at the British and the East India Company in particular. The corruption and death that they brought to India is quite eye opening and there in the middle of it all is one of the drinks that we love.
As with Pete Brown's other books, one of the fun things in Hops and Glory is the debunking of many myths, from how IPA got started to how it made its way back to the British Pub's (no there was no ship wreck). Its also a very humerus book due to Mr. Brown's self deprecating style of writing. Yes its a thick historical look at the creating of a beer and sociopolitical culture of India in the 1800's, but its also funny, enlightening and well written. I highly recommend this book to any history buff and any lover of craft beer.

While this book is not currently on sale in bookstores in the US there are a few places you can try to buy the book:
UK Amazon
The Book Depository
Abe Books

Monday, October 19, 2009

Boulevard Beers and NFL Football

Sunday is a perfect day when I can sit in front of the TV watch some football and drink great craft beer. This week since my team had a bye week I was able to watch a lot of teams I don't normally see. But enough about Football, the real treat was to sit down with two of the newest beers in Boulevard's Smokestack Series. With the new releases Boulevard brings us a Dopplebock and a Saison fermented with Brett.
Seeyoulator Dopplebock: A dopplebock aged on cedar this beer weighs in at 8.5% and pours an amber orange color with a thin slightly off white head. The nose is malty, nutty, bready, caramel, honey and spice. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and a bit chewy. Malty, yeasty, bready, caramel, spicey, notes of pepper. There are biscuity notes with a bit of honey on it, the cedar is there, but its more of sense of cedar versus a taste. Its very sweet, overly so up front, but it finishes with a competing dryness the helps to offset some of the sweetness. There is also some boozy notes. This is probably my least favorite of the Smokestack Series that I have had. This gets a B- from me. BA folks like it a little more than me.
Saison Brett: This beer started with the Saison I reviewed a whle ago and ended up as a dry hopped bottle conditioned with brett Saison. Sounds good to me. The beer weighs in at8.5% and pours a pale gold straw color with a thick dense bright white head of foam. Very aromatic beer, notes of lemon, yeast, pepper, honey, and hay. The mouthfeel is full and effervescent, hints of citrus fruits, white pepper, honey suckle, flowers, a touch of hay, and some good hop flavor in the finish. No alcohol flavor and finishes pretty dry. A wonderful food beer that I would serve with all sorts of salads, and grilled fish. This one gets an A from me. The folks at BA like it as well.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Odell's Bourbon Barrel Stout

Yet another beer that I picked up in Denver while there for the GABF. This one comes from a local brewery. Odell's is based out of Fort Collins and has been around since 1989. While their beers haven't always been cutting edge or even the most inspired, I've always liked them because their flagship beer was called 90 Shilling and is a Scottish Ale. There aren't many breweries that have that as their flagship. Over the years they've expanded their lines and are doing more things that push the envelop. At GABF I tasted a couple of brett beers by them that were wonderful, and they also have a woodcut series of beers that are rare and hard to find brews. This one of course is a barrel aged beer and while it seems that everyone is doing it, I am continually pleased to see even more breweries do this as I love the flavor that barrel aging imparts on a beer.
The Beer:b This imperial stout weighs in at 10.5% and pours a pitch black with a thick cafe colored head, it pours syrupy. Nose is vanilla, oak, bourbon, coffee. Mouthfeel is chewy, creamy, luscious, milky and all the other adjectives. There are notes of vanilla, and bourbon, chocolate, coffee, coco nibs. There is some woodyness to the taste as well. Its a sipper for sure, but still relatively easy drinking. We paired it with some Bourbon Chocolate pudding (made with Colorado's own Stranahan's Whiskey). It was a rich pairing to be sure, but they played off of eachother and intensified the flavors. A fun dessert. This beer gets an A- from me. Here's what the folks at BA think.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ska Decadent IPA

Another beer from Ska Brewing, except this one isn't yet available in the Houston market. I picked this up while in Denver for GABF. This is Ska Brewing's Double IPA, comes in a big format bottle with the now familiar comic grafics and capped with a red wax seal.
The Beer: This one weighs in at 10.0% and pours a reddish amber color with a thick taupe colored head. The nose is hops, earthy spice, caramel, biscuity. The mouthfeel is creamy and bitter grapefruit peel, earthy spiciness, white pepper, biscuity, syrupy, tongue coating hoppy resins. In the mid palate there is this smoothness with slightly sweet caramel that evens out the intense hops. Very well done DIPA, with intense amounts of citrus and pine needles, biscuity marmalade, pale malts, and sweet caramel create a wonderful experience. This one gets a B+ from me. The folks at BA like it as well.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Schneider Aventinus

The Aventinus is Schneiders Weizenbock, which basically translates to a dunkel-weizen (dark wheat) brewed to doppelbock strength. This is traditionally a dark and rich, made with at least 50% wheat (some contain up to 70%) with very little hops. Its also a relatively new style of beer beer, the first Weizenbock was commercially available in 1907. That first one is what you hold in your hands Schnieder and Sons Aventinus.
The Beer: This Weizenbock weighs in at 8.2% and pours a rich deep brown with a taupe colored thick head of foam. Nose is bananas, cloves, chocolate malt, vanilla, and a slight sourness that tingles the nose. The mouthfeel is thick and chewy, lots of banana and cloves up front, subsiding into chocolate, rich malts, plum flavors. An incredible chewy beer that reminds of chocolate covered bananas and spice. Smooth beer, very smooth. This is a classic and its an amazing one at that. Gets an A- from me. Here's what the folks at BA have to say.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Real Ale Coffee Porter

Real Ale out of Blanco, Texas is one of favorite Texas breweries. My only complaint has always been that they don't bottle enough of their beer's. They really shine in their seasonal's and for the most part those have always been draft only. Well no longer. As reported just a few weeks ago Real Ale has started to bottle their seasonal's, the first being their very popular Coffee Porter. A porter made with coffee roasted by Houston own's Katz Coffee. Made with Organic fair trade coffee and organic barley. Sounds good enough, and I know it tastes great on draft, but how does it taste from the bottle?
The Beer: This one weighs in at 5.6% and pours a dark rich black with bright red streaks when held up to the light. Capped by a foamy slightly off white head. The head quickly dissipates leaving a thin film behind. The nose is roasted malts, chocolatey, burnt roasted coffee beans. The beer provides a medium mouthfeel, smooth almost milky up front. Flowing into bitter chocolate and darkly roasted coffee beans. A tartness underlies the roasted coffee notes. Easy drinking, with a good mix of malts and coffee, with just a tinge of earthy hops. Very nice. Gets a B+ from me. The folks at BA like it as well.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Session Round up and Announcement

Yes I know I know I missed out on the last Session. I was looking forward to it, but work and personal life interfered and I didn't have time to post anything. Fear not though, the hosts Girl Likes Beer has posted the round up. Looks like it was a fun session with 19 different bloggers participating.
With the passing of one session, comes the announcement of the next one. This month's virtual beer tasting is being hosted by Andy Crouch at I'll have a beer. The theme? Well not sure I really understand it so I'll let the author do the talking:
For better or worse, in everyday situations beer comes with a label. This label very really ‘frames’ the beer inside. The fact that the beer comes commercially-produced signals the presence of investment (if not skill). A style name or tasting notes indicates the general characteristics to expect. If you know the brewery the beer is framed with your past experiences. Even the label art will affect your expectations for the beer.

What role does this framing play in beer tasting, especially for ‘professional evaluators’? Relate an amusing or optimistic anecdote about introducing someone to strange beer. Comment on the role a label plays in framing a beer or share a label-approval related story. I have not done much blind tasting, and I would be intrigued to hear about this ‘frameless’ evaluation of beer.

And drink a beer. Ideally drink something that you don’t think you will like. Try to pick out what it is about that brew that other people enjoy (make sure to properly frame the beer!).
Now this theme seems pretty interesting, but its also extremely frustrating. To join a rant that Alan over at Good Beer Blog had a few months back, wheres the beer theme's? Why can't the them just be beer? Why can't we discuss great Porter's, Stout's, Sour's, Oak Aged, beers from California, Beers from Belgium, etc. Why not make a beer or beer type the focus instead of just an appendix of the session? I support the session, but I want it to be something that focus's on beer and it seems that it meanders all over the place and rarely is the session's focus on the beer itself but instead some sort of background event. Will I participate this month? I'll sure try, my frame for the theme? Not sure yet. Come back on November 6th to find out.

Texas Hill Country Beer

Its been a few days since my last post, but trust me there was a reason. This past Tuesday was my wife and mine's second anniversary. To celebrate I surprised her with a 5 day get away up in the Texas Hill Country, just outside of Fredericksburg to be exact. We've always wanted to spend some time up there and decided this was the perfect chance to do it. The bad news is the weather was horrible, but that didn't stop us from having a great time. Most folks think of the Texas Hill Country as our state's version of Napa, wine, wine everywhere. And for the most part it is, we found some good Texas wine actually. But just like Napa there are some places to get good beer. First off is Blanco's Real Ale which we of course get here in Houston. Didn't make it to the brewery there, but almost every place in the hill country, from the smallest to the biggest had something on tap. I got to try their Octoberfest for the first time in this small wine store that had 5 beers on tap. A delicious slightly sweet caramelly beer that may just may be my favorite Octoberfest I've had so far this year.
When talking about beer in the Texas Hill Country and you are staying in Fredericksburg you have to stop by the award winning Fredericksburg Brewing Co. Located on Main St its a brew pub specializing in German food (doesn't everything in Fredericksburg) along with the usual burgers, sandwiches and salads). They have 6 beers on tap, with a Porter, Red and Pale Ale being their standard beers and 2 to 3 rotating taps. When we were there they had their Octoberfest, Hopnoxious IPA, and a Mexican Lager (Can you guess which one I went for?).
If you guess Hopnoxious you would be correct. An amazingly hoppy beer weighing in at 7.4% and 100 IBU's this was one fine hoptastic beer. A coppery brown ale with good malt balance that was quickly dominated by an over abundance of hops. Quite a good beer.
We also sampled a couple of other ones:
Peace Pipe Pale Ale - A fine fine Pale Ale, with great hop character and balance.
Mexican Lager - Surprisingly good, clean crisp, with a slightly sweet cereal grain finish
Octoberfest - A very good Octoberfest beer that had some surprising hop bitterness to contrast the malty caramel sweetness typical of the style.

Overall Fredericksburg Brewing Co is definitely something to make your way to as they have a very solid line up of beers and are starting to try some new things. The Hill country while known for its wines doesn't ignore good beer. As stated earlier most every place has good Texas beer on tap or by the bottle. Lots of support of Blanco Real Ale. As much as local breweries support the community (see all the great community service Saint Arnold does) its nice to see the community business support a brewery as strongly as the Hill country does.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast

Besides going to GABF, one of the nice things about visiting Denver is the opportunity to pick up beers that we don't get here in Texas. Lucky for us we get a lot of Colorado beers here, but there are others from around the country and around the world that Denver has that we don't. So whenever I go into a liquor store in Denver I'm always on the look out for new brews. I was excited when I saw this brew on the shelves. Yes we do get Mikkeller beers here (finally) but not this one, so I eagerly picked it up and the other day my wife and I sat down to try it out. Before my notes though a few words on the brewery itself.
The Brewery: Mikkeller started in 2006 by two Danish Homebrewer's. In 2007 one left and now Mikkel Borg is the sole brewer. One of the more interesting things about this Danish brewery is that they don't have a brewery per se. Instead they travel all over the world and brew their beers at other brewery's. Some of the brewery's they have brewed at include De Proef in Belgium, Brewdog from Scotland, Three Floyds from Indiana, Nogne from Norway, and Gourmetbryggeriet in Denmark. The ones Texas gets are brewed at De Proef brewery, this one in particular was brewed at Nogne.
The Beer: This brew is a strong stout made with oats and coffee and weighs in at 7.5%. The beer pours a pitch jet black with a dense head of caramel colored foam that grabs the sides of the glass. The nose is oaty, coffee, licorice, chocolate, raisins, figs, coco. The mouthfeel is thick and creamy notes of coffee and cereal, espresso, grainy mouthfeel. Citrusy notes, almost slightly lemony. Bitter and rich, multi-layered, vanilla notes, dark dried fruits. An outstanding beer and great introduction to this brewery can't wait to pick up the ones we have here. This one gets an A- from me. Here's what the folks at BA had to say.

Monday, September 28, 2009

GABF 2009

I'm back in Houston from my whirlwind trip to Denver to attend the Great American Beer Festival. It was an incredible few days capped by my attendance at the Saturday Session of the GABF where I got to see some Texas winners (more on that later). It wasn't all GABF attendance though.
On Thursday lunch was at the famous Wynkoop, the first Denver brew pub where I paired good solid food with a very smooth and delicious ESB on cask. This ale was an incredibly drinkable session beer that was absolutely spot on as an English ale and was made even better on cask. After Lunch I headed over to the Great Divide Brewery for their Open House. It seemed like every brewery in Texas was there. Ran into folks from (512), Indpendence and Saint Arnold's. Even met Phillip Kaufamn maker of the latest Divine Reserve. While there I was able to try GD's Esspresso Oak Aged Yeti. All I can say is simpley amazing. I wish that Texas had gotten this beer in addition to the Chocoalte Oak Aged Yeti. The beer had it all, notes of vanilla, oak, bourbon, smooth silky espresso, some burnt malt notes and yet it was smooth, very smooth.
Friday saw me head out of Denver up to Boulder where my wife and I had lunch at Boulder Brewing. Again I tried their English Pale ale Cold Hop on Cask. Again it was a great interpretation of a British cask ale. A wonderfully tasty session beer. I also went by Twisted Pine's brewery and had a sampler of their beers. The standouts was their Espresso Stout and their Bourbon Barrel Red Ale. Initially the Red was too bourbon-y but as it warmed it got much better. Its a sipping beer to be sure but still a delicious ale.
Saturday of course was the day for me. The Saturday Session. Got there at 11:30, the doors opened at 12:30 and the line was already long. The hour went by fast and as the doors opened we were greeted by the sounds of Bag pipes playing. We grabbed our sampler glass and headed inside. I tried as many beers as I could from all over the country. Yes even some from Texas. I had the tasty Pecan Porter from (512) (oh when will it be in Houston?) to Freetail's La Muerta. Of course I had the beer's I've been dying to try, Russian River's Pliny the Elder, Lost Abbey's Cuvve de Tomme, Troeg's Nugget Nectar to just name a few. I tried to hit as many as I could and still keep my sanity (others will be the judge of whether or not I succeeded). When ever I come to GABF I like to look at the trends, what seems to be the big style of beer. Yes there are tons and tons of IPA's and DIPA's. but whats the up and coming? I can say this for sure, Oak aged beers are not going anywhere as I saw more of those this year than ever it seems. What else? The use of Brett in beers seems to be sticking around and I can't say I'm sad about that. Also and maybe it was jut me, but there were more Rye ales and lager's than ever before. It's these things that get me excited about GABF. Seeing how American brewer's are branching out, not everything is just hops hops and more hops (oh yes thankfully they are still around and as amazing as ever) but brewers are continuously branching out trying new things and in some cases things from decades past and putting modern spins on them. The other thing I love about GABF is meeting folks and we got to meet a ton of people many from Texas. Us Texans are passionate about good beer and I can't tell you how many home brewer's I met. My plans are to get in touch with some of them and watch them do what they do so well.

In finishing as promised a little more on the Texas Winners. Texas ended up with 2 golds and 2 silvers (these from the same brewery):

Saint Arnold Brewing Co. Saint Arnold Summer Pils TX Gold Munich Style Helles
The Covey Restaurant & Brewery Weizenbock TX Silver German-Style Wheat Ale
The Covey Restaurant & Brewery "100" TX Silver Belgian Style Strong Specialty Ale
Uncle Billy's Brew & Que Hell In Keller TX Gold Kellerbier/Zwickelbier

Congrats to Saint Arnold's, Uncle Billy's and The Covey. Keep making great beer.
Here is the complete list of winners.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Moylan's Hopsickle

Ever since I found out that this beer was coming to Houston I have been excited. I mean its a legendary hop bomb and you all know my love of all things hops. Well it finally arrived on the shelves of my local Spec's and I thought to myself this would be good beer to have before heading off to GABF.
The Beer: No IBU's stated but it does weigh in at 9.2%. It pours a cloudy orange color capped by a dense head of white foam. The hop aroma pours forth as soon as I opened the bottle. Grapefruit, citrus peel, hops, hops and more hops. Is that pale malts I smell? Not sure but there is definitely hops. The mouth you ask? Its chewy, sticky, bitter, resiny. Its reminiscent of chewing on grapefruit peel, pine cones, and marmalade. No real malt presence, but notes of white pepper peak through the thick haze of hops. Did I mention the hops? They are there and they are there in force. But for some reason it works. It doesn't come off as a huge over the top off balanced mess like so many over the top (and this surely is) beers can. Its enjoyable, dare I say drinkable? Oh OK, maybe you won't have more than one in night, but you can surely have that one and love it. It gets an A from me. Here's how the folks at BA rate it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Heading to Denver

Its that time of the year again folks. Time for one of the greatest weeks of the year if you are a lover of craft beer. Its Great American Beer Festival and I'll be making my third trip to Denver for the festivities tomorrow. This year promises to be bigger and better than ever. The GABF has come along way since the first festival in 1982 held in a tiny Boulder, CO hotel room. Back then there were 20 breweries serving 35 beers. This year?
3,362 total beers being entered into the competition
2,100 total beers being served in the Festival hall.
495 different breweries
73 beers beers entered into the Pro0Am competition (two from TX, DR8 and SS Saison)
51 Breweries attending for the first time.
For a complete listing of all breweries attending check out this link.
There are 13 breweries attending from Texas and they are sure to bring home some medals from the competition.
I'll be arriving in Denver tomorrow afternoon and will be attending in various events around town. I'll also be attending the Saturday Afternoon session of GABF where they make the announcements of the winners which I'll put on twitter as quickly as I can. Speaking of Twitter I'll be doing that as much as I possibly can from Denver and then posting my full thoughts on the experience when I get back in town Sunday or Monday.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Quick Hits: Texas Beer Happenings

There's a lot going on in the Houston Area for beer lovers. A whole lot of news has come out in the past week that I thought today a Friday would be a good time to put in one place.
- First of course we had the awesome announcement of Saint Arnold's Divine Reserve 9.
- Keeping with Saint Arnold's of course is their announcement of their
Octoberfest Party on
October 3rd. Here are the details:
Admission: $42 per person, includes German dinner & special mug
Band: Sideshow Tramps
For reservations, call or email Ann (713-686-9494 or As always, she will need credit card, cash or check to make the reservation.
- Continuing with the Octoberfest theme, our northern neighbors Southern Start have announced the date for their celebration as October 24th. Here are some additional details:
There will be a limit of 225 tickets sold which will include food, band, beverages and a nice ceramic stein. The details are still being hashed out, but we will let you know when the tickets will be available for sale.
- To the east in Beumont the Art Museum of Southeast Texas is hosting an Art of Beer event on October 1st:
Beer-lovers and those new to the brew will find over 80 of the finest specialty and seasonal brews from around the world paired with complementary food dishes, cheeses, beer floats, entertainment and much more.

- Lastly in news reported by the Chronicle's Ronnie
Crocker Blanco Texas's Real Ale is going to start bottling their Coffee Porter with a release date of 9 October. I wanted a bit more information about any future bottlings of Real Ale brew and after an email exchange found out that this is just the start. The plan is to release a special six pack every 3 months or so starting with the Coffee porter then moving to Phoenixx, Devil’s Backbone, and our new Oktoberfest lager next fall. Can't tell you how happy I am to see Real Ale bottling more of their wares. Its been my biggest complaint about them and now that's resolved.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Green Flash Barleywine 2009

The weather is turning ever so slightly cool here in Houston and that means fall. It means some of my favorite seasonal beers. Octoberfest style marzen's, Pumpkin beers, then as the weather turns even cooler I'll get to winter warmers and barley wines. There are some breweries especially US craft's that release their Barley wines during the summer, these are normally not as malty as English style ones, but hoppier almost like an Imperial IPA. It is with these thoughts that I reached out for this release from San Diego brewery Green Flash. You may remember that I was able to get the 2008 vintage last year and thought it rather delicious so you can imagine my happiness when I saw this years available.
The Beer: This year's vintage weighs in at 10.9% a little more than last years and pours a shady chestnut brown with a quarter inch head of off white almost taupe colored head of foam. The nose is potent, I could smell it well before lifting the glass to my nose. It smelled of toffee and treacle, bread pudding, hops and grapefruit, citrus, figs. Just like last year's I could bury my nose in this all night and never be disappointed. Yet I had to stop if for no other reason than to taste. The taste now that was joy. The mouthfeel is chewy, creamy, tongue coating hops and flavor. Yes hops are at the forefront for this is an American Barleywine after all. Notes of citrus peel, toffee, treacle, breadpudding caramel, sweet malts, fruity estery yeasts. A bitter finish is complimented by an ever so slight not unpleasant alcohol burn. The hops are resiny along the tongue and linger well beyond the finish. It was a great beer tonight with sharp cheddar cheese, and my bets are that this one ages magnificently. This gets a B+ from me.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Next Divine Reserve

Wow, fresh off an unbelievable success with the release of Divine Reserve 8, Saint Arnold's has just announced that Divine Reserve 9 will be released in late November or Early December. From their latest Newsletter:
We are brewing Divine Reserve No. 9 next week for release in November or December. It will be unlike any other Saint Arnold beer we've ever made!
So what didn't get announced is the style, but we did get a clue as to where they are going, or rather not going.
First we know its going to be something new, so let's take a look at the DR's thus far:
Barleywine (2x)
Scotch Ale (2x)
Russian Imperial Stout
Double India Pale Ale

So we know its not going to be any of the above. We also know that Saint Arnold's has Bourbon Barrels as they will periodically have a Bourbon Barrel Stout released to select accounts around town, so it won't be something like that. So what could it be? Its 'going to be different' that's for sure. Will they go the route that many craft brewers are going and create a sour ale, or something infected with Brett? Maybe, although many of those age for a bit whether in wood or something else, so that might be out since we really only have 2 months before release. Although they have done a Quad, could they do another Belgian ale? Yes I believe they could. They also could use those Barrels for something else than a stout. Another option since they are releasing it around the Holiday season is some sort of winter warmer (thinking a higher gravity Anchor's Our Special Ale). Really there are many ways they could go. Anyone else have any thoughts? Or wishes?

UPDATE: As reported by Ronnie Crocker of the Houston Chronicle, the next Divine Reserve DR9 will be an Imperial Pumpkin Stout weighing in at 10% ABV.

This sounds pretty exciting if they can pull it off. My only concern would be the bitterness of the Imp Stout overpowering the pumpkin. My bet is on Saint Arnold to make a delicious beer.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

More New Beers coming to Houston

Man, this may end up being a weekly blog post the way new beers are rolling into town. Went by my local Spec's and talked to the beer guy and there is a lot of new arrivals and beers about to be on the shelves.
- Already arrived: Part of New Belgium's Lips of Faith Series. These beers are what definetely more Belgian style that most of New Belgium brews. The beers we have are: The La Folie Wood aged Sour Brown Ale (my review), Biere De Mars a Brett beer, and Le Fleur Misseur another Brett ale.
- Also seen was Magic Hat's Fall seasonal.

The big news though is what is coming soon:
- Moylan's (I've written about them before) Hopsickle Triple IPA will be in the area both in bottle form and on draft. Flying Saucer will have some and will be tapping it sometime soon. Also coming in bottle form is Moylan's Moylander their Double IPA that I had at Flying Saucer's ninth anniversary.
- Also Brooklyn Brewery will have two seasonal's on our shelves. Their Octoberfest a traditional Marzen style of beer and their Post Road Pumpkin ale, an ale brewed with real pumpkins.

I can't tell you how excited I am that both the Pumpkin ale and the Moylans Hopsickle are coming. If anyone knows of other beers coming our way let me know.