Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sam Adams Imperial Stout

I'm a fan of the Boston Beer Co, makers of Sam Adams brews. I think they make an incredibly solid line of beer (even if they make the worst beer I've ever had). From their ubiquitous Sam Adams Lager (always an easy choice when its that or BMC products) to their boundary pushing Utopia they are a brewery that is at the forefront of ingenuity in my mind. Plus they do a lot of good for the beer community. From the Longshot Series of beers that allows home brewers the chance to have their recipe made and distributed by BBC, to the Hop Sharing program which allows those breweries who are running short on hops to buy some from BBC at a fair price. These show that Jim Koch is conscientious owner. The latest thing that has gotten me excited about Sam Adams is their Imperial Series of beers. All released in four packs they are an Imperial White, Imperial Stout and a Dopplebock. All have made it to our local Spec's so it was with great excitement that I picked up a four pack of Sam Adams Imperial Stout. Before we get into my tasting notes, a bit about the style.
The Style: First the technical bits (taken from the Beer Judges Certification Program). Aroma should be decidedly roasty with notes of fruity esters, hops, dark fruit and alcohol. The roasted malt usually takes on characteristics of coffee or dark chocolate. Color of course is dark black ranging from Jet black at its darkest to a slightly lighter dark reddish brown. The head is thick and usually very dark. Finally you're looking for a strong malty intensely roasty and bitter flavor. Hop bitterness can be mild (although not always the case) therefore the heavily roasted malts is what creates this bitterness. The beer can taste burnt at times like burnt espresso beans at it most intense. Alcohol content is usually between 8-12 percent and these are beers that can be aged. The history of this ale is pretty unique. When visiting England Russian Czarina Catherine the Great fell in love with British Stouts. When she left to return to Russia she brought back barrel loads, however, upon arrival these stouts had soured and spoiled. Needless to say Catherine the Great, was greatly pissed, so upon hearing of this a British brewery brewed a higher octane Stout, something that would be strong and hopefully survive the trip from England to Russian. Well it survived alright and Catherine the Great loved it, which is why we have a beer called Russian Imperial Stout that wasn't brewed in Russian, just brewed for them (well at least one Russian in particular).
The Beer: This one weighs in at 9.2% and pours an oily jet black with a good sized cafe colored head. Dark chocolate, raisins, figs are all apparent in the nose. The mouthfeel is thick, and chewy. I tasted burnt espresso, dark coco nibs, molasses, raisins, toffee. There is almost a chalky texture to this one that makes me feel like I am tasting a little bit of coco dust. A sense of a chocolate souffle. Very nice. Very little alcohol flavor to this one. Lacing up and down the sides of this glass. This is a good one for sure. It gets an A- from me. Here's what the folks at BA think.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Monday Quick Hits

Today marks what has become a rare dose of quick hits. Newsy bits around the web abound!
- First, Anvil Bar and Refuge is OPEN! I've mentioned this place in the past as I tracked its progress. It's run by some of the bartenders that used to work at Beavers. Their concept is to serve the freshest cocktails around specializing in prohibition era drinks. They also serve a good wine list and an amazing beer list (or what will be an amazing list). Currently they only have beer by bottle, a great selection of Texas and national craft beers as well as some Belgian. Soon they will have their tap system installed of 12 rotating taps. I've already been there a couple of times, but will wait until their tap system is in place before giving my review of the place. I will say for someone that doesn't drink a lot of cocktails, the things they do at this place are amazing. For a good interview with one of the bartenders Bobby Heugel, check this out.

- Secondly comes a case of tooting my own horn. I don't normally do this, but it points out some other really interesting blogs as well. Over the past two weeks your humble beer correspondent has been written up in various food blogs of Houston. First two mentions in back to back weeks at the Houston Chron's A Cooks Tour. Lastly a mention in She Eats another Houston based food blog. Go check these out, not for mentions of me but for the other really great blogs that folks in Houston are writing.

- Lastly a reminder that The Session #26 is this Friday. The theme is Smoke 'em if you got 'em. That's right Smoked Beers! The host is beer writer Lew Bryson.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Flying Dog's Canis Major Mix Pack

I've been a fan of Flying Dog's beers ever since I was introduced to their wares at their original brewery in downtown Denver. For whatever reason I haven't had many of their beers since they moved across country to Maryland. Well that has now changed. This past weekend I made a journey up to Spec's Downtown and saw Flying Dog's Canis Major Mix pack. Now this is not just any mix pack. It contains two bottles of Flying Dog's Big beers. Big as in high alcohol. Two each of Horn Dog Barley Wine, Kerberos Tripel, Gonzo Imperial Porter, and Double Dog Pale ale. However, the coolest part of this pack was the bottles. These were packaged in 7.0 oz bottles instead of the traditional 12 oz. I think this is a brilliant way to package stronger beers as you can have a couple of bottles and not be plastered so kudos to Flying dog as they are the only brewery that I know of that packages in this way. Another reason that I was excited to see this mix pack is that its the only way we can get Gonzo Imperial Porter and their Tripel as for whatever reason they don't ship those two to Texas. So as I've had the Horn Dog and Double Dog before I dove into the mix pack for the other two.
Kerberos Tripel: I love tripels as I believe they are the Champagne of beer (no that is NOT Miller High Life), and have a lot of similar characteristics of toasted bread, bubbles, yeasty notes, etc. So let's see how this one pairs up. It weighs in at 8.5% and pours a golden orange color with a quarter inch bright white head. The nose is of honeysuckle, pears, fruity sweet yeast notes. The mouth feel is poppy, but not much a little flatter than expected. There are peppery notes, honey, pears, candied sugar. A little boozy. Its missing some of the biscuity flavors and some of the bubbly mouthfeel I love in a tripel. The flavors are good, but its just missing a little oomph. It gets a B- from me. Here's what the folks at BA have to say.
Gonzo Porter: The label calls this an Imperial Porter, but most would call it a Baltic Porter. These are named after the Baltic area in Eastern Europe where they took English Porter and amped it up quite a bit to higher alcohol levels. This one weighs in at 7.8% and a hoppy 85 IBU's. It pours an inky dark brown with a thick rich brown colored head. The nose is full of molasses, chocolate, citrusy hops, and coco nibs. The mouthfeel is think and tongue coating. Rich dark chocolate, raisins, and grapefruityness. Its a bitter beer, bitter times 2. One level of bitterness hits you from the deep dark chocolate malts, the other bitterness hits you from the citrusy hops. Very different, but they compliment each other. Think of dark chocolate covered orange peel and you get the idea (not quite as citrusy as that though). Some vanilla flavors show up as it warms. Very nice. This one gets a B+ from me. Lots of BA praise for this one.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Boulevard Saison

I'm a huge fan of this brewery from Kansas city, especially their Smokestack Series. All of these are bottle conditioned, packaged in a Champagne like bottle with a cork and cage closure. There are four in the Houston market and this is the last and latest one I've had the opportunity to try. This will be a pretty short post today, but I wanted to point out that I love Saison's as a style because they are generally very food friendly.
The Beer: This one weighs in at 6.2% and pours a cloudy golden honey color with a thick white head. The nose is apples and pears with fruity yeasty notes and spice. The mouthfeel is bright and bubbly and effervescent. There are peppery notes, tartness. Crisp and clean, and a small mild sourness a little bit of hoppy bitterness. Some pear and apple notes in the taste as well. A very palate pleasing beer this one gets a a B+ from me. Here's what the folks at BA had to say.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Indpendence Brewing Jasperilla Old Ale

This beer is from a small brewery in Austin. They only make a few beers, and by all accounts most of them are pretty run of the mill, however one beer they do make that's special is their Jasperilla Old Ale. Named after the brewers dog, its packaged in a bomber bottle. I've had this beer once before and found it to be lacking. But that was back in September of 07 and I haven't tried another one since then. When I saw that Independence had released it again I thought what the heck let's give it another try. First though a little bit on the style.
The Style: As before I take the style notes from the Brewing Judges Certification Program guidelines. The aroma should be matly sweet with dried fruit, kind of like a sherry or port. It usually pours a darkish amber with a limited head. The taste should be nutty, malty, with some alcohol evident. One of the more curious things about Old ale is its name. It doesn't mean the beer is old. At one time Old Ale and barleywine were synonymous however those two styles have diverged to mean and represent two different styles. These beers are what used to be known as 'malt wine's' back in the mid 1800's. While most are agable, very few of them are well aged when released.
The Beer: This particular ale has been aged for 6 months and weighs in at a hefty 9.3% abv. The beer pours a copper color with at thin taupe colored head. Biscuity notes on the nose, yeasty, caramel, fruityness and a bit of alcohol burn in the nostrils. The mouthfeel is thick, with notes of slightly sweet fruit, dried fruit, berries, plums, raisins, a tartness before finishing with a slight alcohol burn. As it warms I get the impression of biscuits with marmalade and some bourbony oaky vanilla woodiness. Although not aged in wood as far as I can tell from the Independence Brewing Website it definitely has that feel. A little boozy may be my only real complaint here. This one get me back interested in Independence Brewery again, maybe the last bottle was bad, maybe my palate wasn't good, who knows, but this bottle was very nice and gets an A from me. Its been a while since I've had an Old Ale and I think additional research is necessary. As shocking as it may be I've never had one of the more classic examples of the style: Theakston's Old Peculiar. I'll have to find it now.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A quick Beer and Food Post

Well fresh off my rant from earlier today about the lack of a quality beer and food scene in the fine city of Houston, I receive some wonderful news. On April 23rd Saint Arnold's will be hosting a 7 course Beer dinner at Brenner's Steakhouse. This is not just any food and beer pairing, this will be some really good food, paired with great Saint Arnold's beers. No word if it will be only the regular line up or if Saint Arnold's will have something special for the occasion. Stay tuned because as I find out more I'll post on it.

Houston Wine Scene vs. Houston Beer Scene

As most of you know by know I have started to twitter, one of the more interesting aspects of doing that is the folks I have had the pleasure of following and finding out what they are doing/thinking/reading. A lot of the folks I follow are in the local Scene, whether they be Houston bar owners, chefs, or food writers. It's this last category that has me writing today. Yesterday a local food blogger wrote this article about the state of Houston's food and wine scene. Its an article that I pretty strongly disagree with. The basis is that we are trying to be New York, or other food centric cities and are failing. I say thank God we are failing. I don't want us to be like other cities, and I think the author overstates that Houston tries. I think a lot of the food people in this town celebrate the things that are great in this city, good seafood, oysters, taco trucks, beef (this is Texas, we love our meat). Could you say that some restaurants try to emulate other more famous ones in other cities? Yes? Can you say that Houston has no zoning laws and has miles and miles, and miles of eye sore strip malls? Yes, but that's Houston. Love it or don't that's part of the soul of Houston. Go pick up Houston Its Worth It. But the point of this post is not to belabor the twittering back and forth the above article created on the Houston Wine scene, but to discuss how it relates to the Houston Beer scene. I think Houston's wine scene is pretty good. You have some good retailers in Spec's, Richards, and Houston Wine Merchant, some great places to sit, relax and have some wine, Tasting Room, Wine Bucket, Cork, Sonoma, Corkscrew, 13 Celsius, and many more. Finally you have some restaurants with great wine lists, and finally restaurants like Feast, and Reef that fight for good wines and lower costs. So while its not perfect its far from horrible even for a city this size.
Now let's compare that with beer shall we. Not counting grocery stores (which have decent wine selections) you have one retailer with a good beer selection and that's Spec's. Yes you do have some great places to have a pint: Gingerman (by the way something New York got from Houston), Flying Saucer, Stag's Head, Little Woodrows, Petrol Station, and a few more. Then you have those restaurants that serve good food and good beer...wait what restaurants. Now we get to the crux of the matter. For there are none. Places like Woodrows and Gingerman its all about the beer (and hey that's OK), for others like Stag's Head and Mucky Duck its the British food theme, and lastly places like Saucer its bar food, sandwiches and pizza that's nothing to write home about. Where is the great food places and beer? Even though Texas Micro Brew scene is small many restaurants could have a diverse beer menu with just Texas brews available. Complex and tasty beers like Saint Arnold's Elissa IPA to go with spicy foods, Live Oak's Hefeweizen for lighter fare like salads, or cold served fish, Southern Star's new Buried Hatchet Stout with desert or oysters (mmm stout and oysters), Real Ale Rye Pale Ale, Rahr and Sons Ugly Pug, Real Ales Coffee Porter (made with Katz's coffee), the list goes on and on of beers that should be in fine restaurants and would compliment their foods, but for whatever reason chef's and restaurateurs won't step up. If Houston was just a 'trendy' city wouldn't they have already done this? From coast to coast, and places in between (including Dallas) restaurants are creating beer lists, they are having beer dinners, creating perfect matches between their food and craft beer. When will Houston Restaurants do the same? Reef, one of the best restaurants in Houston one that has fought for lower wine prices, their beer list is atrocious, with only Shiner being locally made and semi-craft. Feast? Another great restaurant with a good food friendly wine list? Fuller's is about as good as it gets. Why won't a Houston restaurant/Chef step up and serve great beer next to their great food?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Abita Andygator

Tonight's beer is from semi-local, and near to my hear brewery Abita from Louisiana. As I've said before along with Texas's Shiner, Abita as my go to beer in college as it was one of the few non BMC products available to me. Plus I always liked that they said the water used in brewing was from Abita Springs...hey as hokey as it might sound beer brewed from spring water was a good hook line for a college kid. This particular beer Andygator, is part of Abita's expanded line into Texas which now includes their big bottle series of which this is one of them. I have actually had this one, on draft on Bourbon St., a few years back so I was eager to try it again when I could actually focus on the beer. However before I get to the beer, let me digress into discussing the style this beer represents. As the brewery states this is a Helles Dopplebock an interesting combination of styles. Let's discuss each one separately before putting them together. First off Helles, as the Beer Judge Certification Program Guidelines tells us, Helles, or Munich helles is usually a low IBU, low alcohol, pale golden lager. Primary scents include cereal grains, and pale malt flavors. The beer was first brewed back in 1894 in Munich (hence the name) as an answer to the influx of Czech Pilsners. However unlike Czech Pilsners that had more of a hoppy note, these beers were maltier with a bready flavor. Now onto the second part of this beer, Dopplebock. Again the BJCP Guidelines let us know to expect a strong malty flavor with virtually no hop flavor, usually deep gold to brown in color, with rich malty, maybe chocolately flavors and a full body. Dopplebocks were traditionally brewed in Germany by monks to be drunk during Advent and Lent, when people were fasting and needed nourishment from the beer they drank instead of the food they weren't eating. The first Dopplebock was released in the 1700's and most traditionally have had the suffix -ator (think the traditional Celebrator, Optimator, or the original Salvator from Paulaner). All of these are deep rich, hearty brews of high alcohol and dark in color.
At first glance it seems that these two styles the golden pale lager Helles, and the rich deep brown Dopplebock are contradictory. How did Abita combine these two?
The Beer: This one weighs in at 8%, more like a Dopplebock than a Helles, but it pours a golden orangish yellow which is more like a helles. The IBU's are low at 25 which is par for both styles. The head is white, and thick, and frothy. The nose is of cereal grains, pale malts a slight bit of hops on the nose, snappy, floral. The mouthfeel is chewy, creamy. Notes of pale toasted malts, sweet honey and just a bit of alcohol. Not a lot of effervescent, bready, even biscuity flavors, but strong and sip worthy, much stronger than you think. A very tasty brew with a lot of bready type flavors. Like bready with honey butter. A very nice unique style of beer. This one gets a B from me. Here's waht the folks at BA had to say.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Collaboration not Litigation

Its seems I've had more and more collaboration beers, those beers that offer a taste of a beer made by two different breweries. This beer Collaboration not Litigation is a joint effort of Avery Brewing and Russian River. This is batch 3.
The Beer: This beer weighs in at 8.97% and pours a cloudy brown with a tan colored head. The nose is fruity, yeasty, grapes. The mouthfeel is creamy, and is effervescent, white grapes, candied sugar, smooth, yeasty, biscuity with a slightly sweet notes. Pears and honeysuckle finish this beer out. Very good. This one gets a B+ from me.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A very quick update on HB 2094

As stated earlier this week the new HB 2094 regarding the Texas Brewery Parity Amendment allowing brewers to sell a certain amount of beer direct to the public had a hearing in front of the Texas. Now I haven't heard much on how it went and unfortunately due to my day job (No its not writing about beer) I haven't had time to do to much research. However a great poster on Beer Advocate did have a good update so I will be posting his comment here:

The Committee on Licensing and Administrative Procedures today heard testimony on House Bill 2094, Rep. Jessica Farrar's bill that would allow Texas microbrewers to sell their product on the premises of their breweries as part of a tour package. The state's brewers were united in their support of the bill while the distributors were split -- one group testifying in support and one against. No action was taken and the committee has discretion to vote on the bill at a future meeting -- or not. The people who understand the poltical cogs that make the system work have identified two specific committee members that need a little extra convincing:

Representative Mike "Tuffy" Hamilton from Southeast Texas ( http://www.house.state.tx.us/membe ... ilton.php) and Representative Charlie Geren from NW Tarrant County ( http://www.house.state.tx.us/membe ... eren.php).

If you live in their district or know anyone who does, please make sure these two legislators know of your support for HB 2094.

You can watch today's testimony beginning at the 54 minute mark at this link (you need Real Player):

http://www.house.state.tx.us/fx/av ... 318a22.ram
As stated above I continue to urge everyone that cares about this issue to write to the two congressmen above. Let them know how important this is, beyond just beer drinkers, but how it will help the Texas economy in the long run.
More when I have time.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Update to Texas Beer Parity Law

Today brings a bad news, good news, ehhh news post on the Texas Beer Parity Amendment that has been discussed of late. First the bad news, at least what I think may be bad news. It seems that HB 1062 has stalled out in Committee. Even with the effort of writing our state reps it seems that this bill may be DOA. Not sure its a fact, but rumors are that its not going to make it out of committee, and that's a shame and continues to show how much power beer distributors (more on them in a second) have and how money talks and peoples wants don't.
Now for the good news. It seems State Rep Jessica Farrar (her of the HB 1926 fame) is at it again and has sponsored another beer parity amendment. HB 2094 has been written to allow breweries to sell their wares on site (sounds good doesn't it? and familiar?). The good news is that this bill seems to be moving through committee a little quicker and a public hearing has already been scheduled. The committe is the same as the one that HB 1062 went to, but as a refresher here is a list of the members. I encourage everyone to write to each member. But be quick, the hearing is scheduled for the 18th, yes I know its a quick turnaround. No idea what time of day, it will depend on how the other things discussed go.
Now for the last piece of news, the ehhhhh news. It revolves around the aforementioned HB 2094. While at first glance it looks an awfully lot like the previous bill, its not. It is of course more restrictive. For a full read here is the pdf version of the bill. If you don't want to read here are the highlights:
- The first section only applies to those that produce less than 75,000 barrels a year.
- The second second applies to those that produce less than 250,000 barrels a year. It allows those to sell ale or beer for on premise consumption or in unbroken packages for off premise consumption, however this may not exceed 5,000 barrels annually.
I have also heard although i can't tell by reading the bill that Breweries would only be able to sell beer during posted tour hours.
So why don't I like this bill? One it limits the amount of beer being sold, second it limits when beers can be sold. Again I ask why are breweries held to different and stricter standards than Texas Wineries? They have none of these restrictions, I just don't understand the difference. Now I will state that HB 2094 seems to have some Beer Distributor backing so it will probably pass. I can understand why they would support this bill over the less restrictive HB 1062 since it limits the amount any one brewery could sell. Having said all that I still encourage everyone to write the committee as getting something on the books is a start and if we can show we are not damaging Distributor's profits maybe they will be open to additional changes in the future. It may not be as good as we'd all like, but it is a start.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Beer Dinner's

A good food and beer article in the Dallas Morning News today, documenting the trend of having beer dinners. While this has been going on for quite some time on the East and West coast it has taken its sweet time making its way to the central part of the country. From the article it looks like Dallas is getting in on the trend and some restaurants are setting up some really fine beer and food pairings. One question: What about Houston? I know Saint Arnold's does some really good beer and cheese pairings with Houston's own The Dairy Maids, but I only know of one recent beer and food dinner and that was Beaver's and Real Ale, and that was months ago and not on a regular basis. Most of the Texas Breweries are in South Texas (Austin, Blanco, Houston, Conroe) not to far from Houston, why can't a Houston Restaurant step up and do a series of dinners based on beer (whether from Texas or not), but not just one, how about a monthly one, just as many restaurants do a big monthly or even weekly wine pairing menu? There's more to food and beer than just pub grub, why not show case that?
Ok enough with the rant, but go checkout the article.

The Session Roundup and Annoucnement

Fresh off of last weeks Lager centric session #25, the Beer Nut has posted his round up. 47 entries, very solid representation.
As always is the case, the Roundup of one session brings us the announcement of the next. Session #26 is being hosted by Beer writer Lew Bryson, the theme? Rauchbier. So as Mr. Bryson says Smoke em if you got em.
If only this theme had happened earlier as I just tried our local Rauchbier not to long ago. Oh well, it means I'll have to search something new out (and isn't that half the fun of the Session?).

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Two years and two Foghorns

I guess the theme this week is two. Yesterday I posted on two beers from Boulevard's awesome smokestack series. Today its taking a look at two years of Anchor's Foghorn barleywine. I've been aging last years for well, a year, and did a comparison to the fresh version. For reference here is the link to my notes on last years Foghorn when it was fresh.
'07 Foghorn: Pours a dark chestnut with only a thin film of a head. The nose is of roasted malts, molasses and licorice. Mouthfeel is thick and tongue coating. Earthy, musty, hops, cherry, figs, licorice, prunes and molasses all find a place. Slightly sweet. Aged well, I wish I had more. This year I need to buy more and age them longer as this has held up very well and I think could hold up for a couple more years. Very nice. An A-.
'08 Foghorn: Cloudy brown with streaks of red capped by a taupe colored head. Floral hops, sweet roasted caramel malts, raisins, figs and molasses all show up on the nose. Creamy rich mouthfeel. Strong hop notes, much stronger than the aged version, less of the dark dried concentrated fruit flavors (although its there its much more subtle). Notes of caramel and toasted biscuits. A fine fine barleywine, one of my favorites. This one gets an A- from me.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Two Smokestacks

Boulevard Brewing, one of those breweries that entered the Texas market last year has two sets of beers. The first is their solid every day six packs, a wheat, a pale ale, a brown ale, seasonals etc. The second set is their big beer series, all corked, all bottle conditioned, called The Smokestack Series. It is from this set that I was able to enjoy two rather fine beers.
Double Wide IPA: This IPA weighs in at 8.5% and pours a brownish amber with a thick dense head of taupe colored foam. The nose is chock full of grapefruit-y citrus hops with malty sweetness and caramel. The mouthfeel is thick dense, tongue coating. Grapefruit hops up front, citrus peel tartness with hints of caramel sweetness, then flowing into a malty breadiness, before finishing up with a smack across the tastebuds of bitter citrus peel. A very nice IPA. This one gets an A from me. Here's what the folks at BA say.
The Sixth Glass Quadrupel: Ahh one of my favorite styles. This one weighs in at 10.5% pouring a cloudy chestnut brown with a thick dense cafe colored head. Malty raisins, figs, yeasty, fruity. Creamy tongue coating mouthfeel. Their is a fruity tartness from the yeast and dark fruits. Figs, raisins, candied sugar. The alcohol is hidden very well. Rich and sweet, and conentrated flavors. This one is another A- from me. The folks at BA enjoy it as well.

Friday, March 06, 2009

The Session # 25: Love Lagers

Its the first Friday of the month, which can only mean its Session Time! The host this month is The Beer Nut, the theme is Love Lager, to focus on those beers that no one does seem to love and why not. Initially I was excited about this month's session, I actually like lagers, and think that there some really special ones made. However, I got a note from the host, the Nut himself:
Nooooo! Don't go looking for a fancy, complex, connoisseur's lager. Or at least, compare one to those mass produced lagers you mention -- remember they're exotic foreign beers to me and lots of others. What do they taste like? What's wrong with them, and why do so many beer drinkers not care about what's wrong with them? That's what I'm trying to get at: those lagers which are part of the scenery where most of us live, but which almost never get a proper treatment in beer blogs.
Now as a former host of this amazing event, I' hoping I am not stepping on the hosts toes, but I guess I have problems with the above statement. I love to celebrate beer, beer that is art, beer that is craft, beer that has meaning, and of course tastes good. I have a hard time wrapping my head around why in the world would I want to taste a mass produced lager that isn't any of those things I just listed. It would be like having a cheese paring and tasting a great Stilton or Gouda with a slide of Kraft American Singles...why would you? I mean could I go out and find a lager in this state to do a tasting? Heck yes, besides the ubiquitous BMC products, Texas is also home to Lonestar and Pearl, two lagers that while not quite mass produced like BMC, taste like. The Beer Nut asks whats wrong with them? They don't taste good, they use cheap adjuncts and they lack any discernible complex flavor. They give beer a bad name.
So as you may have been able to tell I didn't want to do a tasting on some standard lager, luckily I got a chance to try something while not one of those fancy lagers, is not quite one of the every day lagers we beer advocates see in stores and quickly pass by.
The beer this month is Shiner's new Kosmos Reserve. This beer is available only in Shiner's new Family Reunion mixed six pack. Initially folks around Texas were hoping that this was the same version that was discontinued in the mid 90's, an all malt tasty thirst quenching every day lager. Well I'm not sure how much the recipe over all has changed since this, but this one is different its dry hopped which does add a whole new flavor to this beer (I would assume having never had the original). The beer is named for Kosomos Spoetzle the founder of Shiner a hundred years ago. He started the brewery making traditional German Lagers so I've always found it funny that Shiner didn't have one in their line up. So enough with the introductions, how does the beer taste?
The Beer: The beer pours a bright golden yellow with streaks of orange color throughout and a nice sized stark white head on top. The nose has honey and floral scents, toasted buttered bread, yeasty and doughy. The mouthfeel is vibrant, crisp and clean, but rather heavy for a lager. Toasted bread, and mild hop bitterness, floral like. A very smooth beer. There is a slight coppery taste in the beer. Over all the beer is very nice, a nice although short lasting hoppy bitter finish. Missing some depth, but I guess I don't really expect that from Shiner beers, just good solid drinkable brews and this one hits that mark solidly. This is a lager that Texans should be proud to call their own and if gets them away from drinking Lone Start as the beer of Texas that would be even better. Hopefully Shiner releases this one fully. Gets a B from me. The few folks that have reviewed it on BA tend to agree.

Well I'll be sending this on to the Beer Nut and while not perfectly within the scope of his Session I'm still very glad he hosted as it does get us thinking about why we don't choose our every day lagers and instead reach for something else, something better in my mind. Once he posts the round up I'll post a link to it.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A couple of updates to the Blog

Just a quick note to highlight some small changes to the blog.
- Under the misc Beer Links you'll see some additional links. Trying to add links to pubs/bars that have good beer lists. If you think I've missed one let me know and I'll add it.
- I've added a Twittering section at the top of the right side. Yes I am twittering (still not quite sure what that means, I'm learning) so if you want to follow you can click the follow button over on the right.

- A little background as to why I started twittering. Saint Arnold's is getting really into it and it was the only way I could follow some of the things they are doing. For instance a couple of weeks ago they did a twitter crawl, and yesterday they announced a very limited keg taping of a Belgian Amber ale that they brewed (unfortunately didn't get to try it, they are doing another tapping on Thurs so all hope is not lost). I like that Saint Arnold's is using other technology than just email to get the word out, plus it makes things a little smaller so you can have a chance to talk to Brock and the rest of the fine folks from Saint Arnold.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Avery Hog Heaven

I've had this beer once a long time ago on tap and I loved it, shocked by the hops from a barleywine. Its a year round beer from Colorado brewery Avery Brewing, but for whatever reason I've always found something else to pick up first before reaching for this barleywine. Well last week I saw it and couldn't resist its temptation.
The Beer: This barleywine weighs in at 100IBU and 9.2%. It pours a hazy brown with a thing taupe head. Malts (surprisingly) hoppy, sweet caramely. Mouthfeel is creamy. There is an abundance of grapefruity hops, and earthiness as well. A lot of citrus peel on the finish. This beer is as much of a DIPA as it is a barleywine. There is some malt notes it was my initial impression as I first sipped before the wave of hops comes crashing down on your tastbuds leaving one with that as the only impression. Very good beer, gets a B from me. Here's how the folks at BA feel.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

A new Beer movie: Beer Wars

We've all seen beer portrayed in movies, but its usually not in a positive light, nothing more than somthing to guzzle in a teeny bopper movie. However that is not the case any more as there is a new movie out on beer. Not just any movie, this one could be the end all be all of beer movies. Director, produce documentarian Anat Baron has created a movie titled "Beer Wars." Its movie about the emergence of Craft Beer as they take on the big guys, BMC. From looking at her website and stuff being written about the movie (see this post in the Brookston Bulletin), this looks like an amazing film, something every lover of craft beer should go to. Except there is one catch. Right now it will be a one day showing: April 16th. One day only, for folks like you and me to have our voices heard and to see a film about a topic we love. She didn't get a huge rich distrubution deal, she's is doing this on her own. As she states in her blog we craft beer lovers are a passionate bunch so let's show the movie suits how passionate we can be by selling out every show on April 16th. For a complete list of theatres showing this film click here. For more on the flim, here's how Beer Wars website sums up the film:

In America, size matters. The bigger you are, the more power you have, especially in the business world.

Director Anat Baron takes you on a no holds barred exploration of the U.S. beer industry that ultimately reveals the truth behind the label of your favorite beer. Told from an insider’s perspective, the film goes behind the scenes of the daily battles and all out wars that dominate one of America’s favorite industries.

Beer Wars begins as the corporate behemoths are being challenged by small, independent brewers who are shunning the status quo and creating innovative new beers. The story is told through 2 of these entrepreneurs – Sam and Rhonda – battling the might and tactics of Corporate America. We witness their struggle to achieve their American Dream in an industry dominated by powerful corporations unwilling to cede an inch.

This contemporary David and Goliath story is ultimately about keeping your integrity (and your family’s home) in the face of temptation. Beer Wars is a revealing and entertaining journey that provides unexpected and surprising turns and promises to change the world’s opinion on those infamous 99 bottles of beer on the wall.

And the trailer: