Tuesday, March 31, 2009
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
- 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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: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.
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
More when I have time.
Monday, March 16, 2009
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
Ok enough with the rant, but go checkout the article.
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
'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
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
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
- 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
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
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: