Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Great Beer Article

Alan over at A Good Beer Blog found a really wonderful article on 'handmade' beer that was written back in 1989, but its a fascinating read and I encourage anyone to take a few minutes and read it.

Allagash Tripel Reserve

A few weeks ago I tried a couple of craft brew Tripels. I decided to pick up another one this week and give a try, comparing it to the other two, continueing to try and find out if that great Belgian beer transititions over to American Craft brewing. I spoke about the Tripel style here.
The Brewery: Allagash brewery sold its first batch of beer in 1995. The brewery based in Portland, Maine is owned and brewed by Rob Tod. In the early nineties, Mr. Tod, a lover of craft brewed beer looked around the American Beer scene and saw a lot of German and English styles of beer. What he didn't see was Belgian style ales. So using traditional Belgian techniques and ingredients he set out to create Belgian style beers in the states. He started out with a traditional wit beer before moving on to the Reserve Collection made in the traditional Methode Champenoise. Releasing the beers in 750 ml Bottles corked and 'living.' The 'living' means that these beers go through a second fermentation in the bottle (as does Champagne). While Allagash has branched out into other styles they stay true to their roots continueing to make great traditional Belgian Ales.
The Beer: As mentioned above this is a Big Beer and weighs in at 9.0%. The beers pours a bright golden straw color with a thick pillowy cottony white head, that eventually dissipates into a thin white line with plenty of lacing. The nose has some alcohool, bannana, spices (pepper), maybe some citrus and a bit of bitterness fleshing it out. The mouthfeel is thick with creamy banana flavors, some bitterness and a hint of alcohl at the very end. Nice complex beer that I thoroughly enjoyed sipping. Here is what the folks over at BA say.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Sam Adams Octoberfest

The first Octoberfest beer of the season. Yes I know its only August and its hard to think of fall when its still in the upper nineties here in Texas, but Octoberfest in Munich is only a month away so the Craft Brewers the world over will be getting out their Octoberfest beers. Traditionally a Marzen style ale, it has now evolved into a Fall Seasonal beer that may be traditional or may be pumpkin spiced ale or other fall style beers.
I won't go into the brewer since most everyone knows Sam Adams and founder Jim Koch.
The Beer: The beer weighs in at 5.4% which makes it a nice session beer. The beer is made with Two Row Pale malt, Munich-10, 2 Row Moravian, and Caramel-10 malts. The hops are a blend of Tettnang Tettnanger and Hallreta-Mittlefruh hops. The beer pours a nice Brownish Amber color with a thick pillowy head that dissipated into a consistent quarter inch cap of foam that stayed there for the first few drinks of beer. Nice hints of malt, caramel specifically showing up along with some roasted characteristics. In the mouth there is more caramel, and some toffee coming out. A slightly lighter mouthfeel than I would have liked, and some abundant carbonation were some of the weaknesses in the beer, but overall I enjoyed it. Here's what the folks over at BA say.

Wet Hop's

Anyone that knows me knows that I am a Hop Head, I love the bitterness, the floral scents that this plant creates in Beer. Recently there was an article in the Wall Street Journal and the Pittsburgh Post Gazette about a new Trend in Wet Hopping. As the article states, think Beaujoulais wine, this is using the freshest hops and making beer with it, which creates a completely different taste then the use of hop pellets that most Craft brewery's use. This is a really great article in that its gives some really useful information on the Hops, their implementation and the great beers that take it to the extreme. Anyone that wants to learn a little more about Hops I urge to read this article.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Real Ale Brewhouse Brown

In my quest to taste more Texas Beers than I have in the past I picked a six pack of this Brewhouse brown from Real Ale. Packed in a unique six pack...a simple cardboard container only enclosing the tops of the neck's leaving the lower part of the bottles expose.
The Brewery: Real Ale is located in Blanco Texas, outside of Austin. It has been in business for 10 years, in fact they celebrated their anniversary on June 24th. Like most small breweries they are dedicated to the local community helping as much as they can with community service projects. To brew their beer they use a 15 barrel stainless steel brewing system to create their handcrafted beers. This is the epitome of a small brewery, but they make 4 regular beers, and 2 seaonals, a Barley wine and a Shade Grown coffee Porter that I would love to try.
The Beer: The beer is a light 5.4% and pours a deep rich brown, with streaks of red in the glass. A nice quarter inch tan head settles in, staying a while before finally dissipating to a constantly thin head and plenty of lacing. This is a very malty beer, with hints of chocolate, caramel and roasted malts in the nose. The mouthfeel is very nice, dry, slightly sweet, with the same caramel, roasted, and chocolate malts. This beer is made with four different types of malts, I can get 3 down, not sure what the other is though. My only complaint is the total lack of hoppy bitterness, which reminds me more of a English Brown ale not an American one. Not asking for a lot, just a bit and this would be a great beer. As it is, its a very smooth brew that I thoroughly enjoyed and would pick up again. Here's what the folks over at BA say.
Food for thought: I had this with grilled turkey and hatch chili pepper burgers and it went incredibly well. The sweetness of the malt helped over ride the spiciness of the burger and roasted and caramel malts fit in with the char of the grilled burgers. A very nice match.

Tupper-Wine Party?

Sorry for the unusual name of the post but I was reading an article on the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram web page and this is the best I could come up with.
The gist of the story is that people are having tupper ware style Wine Tasting parties in their house. The scope of these events is getting a Wine Educator to come to your house and teach you and others that you may invite about wine. These classes can be as simple as a 'Wine 101' to one that revolves around Spanish Red's. Since most of the Wine educators either work for or have an affiliation with a wine retailer, after the party, the attendees may purchase some of the wines they tasted to be picked up at the aforementioned wine retailer. Its a pretty interesting concept especially for those that can be intimidated by a more formal setting. These events allow people to be in a comfortable setting and decrease the likelihood of pretentiousness that occur in some other style classes. Its a good idea that will open up new avenues of wine education and create new wine lovers.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

St. Peter's Old Style Porter

I have written up on St. Peter's before when I tasted their very good Cream Stout. I saw another of their unique bottles and decided to pick it up and give it a try.
The Beer: It pours a nice dark brown almost opaque with a creamy off-white not quite tan head. It initially looks very carbonated as the initial CO2 is released. The nose shows plenty of coffee, chocolate, and caramel. In the mouth there is a nice level of malty sweetness but not cloyingly so. There are those same flavors of coffee, chocolate, caramel, with some toffee now added in. The carbonation has dissipated so the beer is smooth sitting in your mouth. As the beer warms it gets even smoother and richer tasting. I found this beer very enjoyable and better than many porters I have had in the past. Here is what the folks over at BA say.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Avery The Reverend

This Big Beer is the last of the beers that I picked up a couple of weeks ago at the downtown Super Spec's. I have posted a couple of times about Avery beers in the past so if you want to know about more of their beers you can look here and here.
The Style: This beer is a Belgian style Quadrupel Ale. As with most Belgian ales this is a trappist brew with greater strength than its dubbel and trippel siblings. Usually a darker beer, full bodied with rich malt flavors in abundance. Can be a little sweeter with low bitterness and often higher in alcohol.
The Beer: As mentioned before this came in a Big beer format and is actually named for one of the Avery Brewer's grandfather who was an ordained Episcopal preacher. The beer contains Styrian Goldings hops and various amounts of Malts: two row barely, cara 8, cara 20, caramel 15L, caramel 20L, and Belgian special B. The beer weighs in at 10.0% so its definitely a sipping beer. As is typical I used a chalice shaped glass for this tasting. It poured a reddish copper color with a nice thick head that after a bit of dissipating tended to stick around. Some floural and banana scents in the nose. A nice malty balance in the mouth with low hop bitterness and some more of those banana flavors throughout with a tang of citrus peels. A slight burn of alcohol in the aftertaste, but I don't tend to mind that much as long as its not overpowering which this wasn't I find it adds a little complexity to the aftertaste. There are also hints of spice maybe coriander type flavors. I really enjoyed this beer, here's what the folks over at BA had to say.

More on Organic Beer

I have written a previous post on the Rise of Organic beer, but after reading this article in the Ft. Worth Star Telegram I wanted to revisit it as it brought up some interesting points. The first part of the article reports that the Ft. Worth area actually does have a brewery that specializes in only Organic Beers, Healthy Brew that was incorporated in 2003, along with the usual Whole Foods and the State local HEB Central Market, that area up north has a pretty decent organic beer selection.
However its later in the article that the more interesting point is made in how hard it is to find good organic ingredients local to the states. New Zealand does grow a lot of Organic Hops due to fact they have no indigenous Hop Pest, but still thats NEW ZEALAND! not exactly local. Of course there are some other American Organic Beers, some from Goose island and others from North Coast Brewery in California. The issue is that organic products are expensive since they aren't made in high quantity and some are not that good, however that may change. As a lover of Craft Beer I am no friend to BIG Beer, but they may end up doing some good. As they are getting into Organic Brew (see my earlier post) it will cause farmers in the states to grow Hops and barley in an organic fashion to produce the quantity of products that Big Beer requires. This can end up helping the little guys as well since finally there will be enough organic ingredients to keep cost down and make, making organic brew not so economically difficult.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Rogue Chocolate Stout

As you read through some of my reviews on this site you may come to realize that I am a huge fan of Stouts. I love their coffee bitterness, and their thickness and amazingly for what some would think a beer too rich and dark, their affinity for good food.
I have spoken in the past about Rogue brewery here.
The Beer: Again I used a chalice shaped glass, something that I tend to prefer when doing tastings. The beer is black as coal, pouring a thick creamy tan head, that once it dissipates only serves to make the beer creamier. There are bitter scents along with cocoa, maybe some burned coffee or esspresso. There is a thick mouthfeel to this beer, you know you are drinking something, thats not water. A low carbonation so the beer just sits in your mouth letting you experience the flavors. These flavor is a feeling of a rich dark chocolate melting in your mouth. There is flavors of chocolate covered esspresso beans. I really enjoyed sipping this beer, it was desert unto itself. Here is what the folks at BA say, most seem to agree with my assessment of this really fine beer.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Dogfish Head Midas Touch

This beer is one of my last few that I picked up at my recent run to the Spec's Superstore. I have had this beer a few times in the past, but before I began putting up tasting notes on beer on this blog so I thought it was worth buying again just for the experience, and of course sharing.
The Style: This is a pretty unique beer. The style is a spiced beer, but this particular one is much much more than that. This beer is based on an ancient recipe, actually the oldest known beer recipe that was found in King Midas's tomb. Using some modern ingredients the ever Extreme folks over at Dogfish created this Golden Elixir. Its an amazing piece of work that started as a lark, but became one of their year round brews.
The Brewery: I love Dogfish Head. I am fortunate to leave in an area that gets most of their regular year round selections which makes me very happy as I have tried all of the beers I can get a hold of. The brewery started out as just a Brew Pub by one of the more creative Brewers in the States Sam Calagione in Rehobeth Deleware. In some of the books I have read he has stated that he does not make beer for beer drinkers instead he makes them for Wine Drinkers. This creates some contravened since a lot of his beers don't taste like well....beer, leaving some traditionalists upset. I disagree as I love his 90 minute IPA and think his 60 minute IPA is one of the best every day beers you can have. I love the seasonal Aprihop, and India Brown Ale and of course the first beer I had by Sam raisin d'etre, made of course with real raisins.
The Beer: This beer fits in the aforementioned category of trying to make beer for wine drinkers. The ingredients of this ancient beer are barley, juniper, White Muscat grapes and Saffron. This is a complex beverage to say the list. The beer comes in a four pack and is not that cheap. I used a chalice shaped glass to show off its complexity. It pours a very bright golden orange with a thick white head that dissipates into plenty of lacing. There is some orange spice and hoppy bitterness in the nose. There is a very nice mouthfeel, with spicey and fruity notes jumping out on my tongue. As the beer sits in your mouth you do get the feel of the Muscat grapes coming through adding another level, then coming out at the end is some floral hop bitterness. The aftertaste has a bit of alcohol burn, which at 9% abv I guess I was a bit surprised by. I really enjoyed this beer, however not everyone agrees. Here is what the folks at BA had to say.
Food for Thought: I think this is pretty much a sipping beer but if your going to serve it with food I would go for a strong hard cheese like asiago or a good aged Parmesan.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Rahr and Sons Blonde Lager

In my effort to try and support more Texas Breweries I picked up a six pack of this beer from Ft. Worth's own Rahr and Sons. I wrote up a full entry a while back on this new brewery that you can read here.
The Style: The Blonde lager mentioned here is the German Pale Helles Style. Helles was originally Munich's Spaten brewery's answer to the Czech Pilsner beers that were being made in 1894. Helles was a shade lighter than Czech Pilsners and were more malt heavy versus the hoppy Czech versions. Helles is usually around 4.5% and more fuller bodied than other Pilsners. While it has not been widely made in the US by craft brewers it is still a very popular beer in Germany and is brewed throughout the country. Its no wonder the traditional Rahr Family would make this style of beer.
The Beer: It poured a nice golden straw in a Pilsner glass with a thin head that dissipates into a fair amount of lacing. In the nose there is some grass, and yeasty biscuit notes with maybe a little spiciness. In the mouth there is low bitterness initially with smooth maltiness. Some hops show up on the aftertaste. There is a good amount of carbonation that makes this beer very food friendly. A really nice easy drinking beer. Here's what the folks at BA have to say.

Random Beer News

Surfing the internet this morning and found a few interesting tidbits that I thought I'd share.

An article about trying to overcome the low brow reputation that beer has accrued. Not the biggest fan of the article as it attempts to put the blame at other places when two biggest proponents of beer's bad image is the media in how they portray beer drinkers and of course the Big Beer companies and their commercials.

A sad article I think about Young's selling their Ram Brewery in England, coming two months after Young Announced they would be leaving their South London Home where they have been since the 16th Century. All Young's beers are now being bottled in Bedford.

Finally, a Company in Dallas is recalling their barley. Specifically the Elsa Kolo Roasted Barley because it may contain undeclared peanuts.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Avery Samael Oak Aged Ale

Again another brew that I picked up at my run to the Big Spec's Superstore. I have mentioned the Colorado brewer Avery in other posts. So I will skip my usual review of the brewer.
The Style: This is an American Barley Wine. Traditionally Barley Wines are high alcohol wines that are incredibly complex. Full of malt flavors it was originally called Malt Wine in London. They have been called everything from October Beers to Malt liquor (no its not what you think), however by the early 1800's the term Barley wine stuck. In the old world sense a barley wine is top fermented ale with an alcohol content somewhere between 8 and 14%. These are age worthy beers, beers that can be laid down in the cellar for a few years. Of course American Barley wines are slightly different than their old world counterparts. Usually Barely wine is made as a special brew (think Winter Warmer). Most American Barely Wine is not as age worthy as their British counterparts, but instead are much more drinkable at an early age.
The Beer: On to the good stuff. The beer is packaged in a single 12 oz bottle (no six pack here) with a black label and a menacing winged demon on the front after all as the label says Samael is the prince of Demons. The beer weighs in at a very HEFTY 14.5% alcohol. It pours a goldenish brown in the glass with a thin line of foam that quickly dissipates and minimal lacing. Little carbonation as is traditional. There is some floral scents and some malty sweetness in the nose along with some oak as this beer is aged with oak chips. In the mouth there is plenty of alcohol (maybe too much). Not a lot of balancing bitterness, just a lot of malty sweetness and alcohol. The fruitiness of the malt adds some complexity though. As it warmed it reminded me of a cognac in its complexity. While not my favorite beer due to the incredible sense of alcohol in the mouth, I can appreciate the art of the brewer in the making of this beer. This is what the folks over at BA had to say.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

WBW # 25 Announcement

Yep, its that time again.....The announcement for the 25th Wine Blogging Wednesday has been announced. I have had the opportunity to participate in 4 of these events, and every month I anticipate the challenge of the theme. This month is hosted by Sam over at Becks & Posh. The theme this month is Champagne. NOT sparkling wine but Champagne, which means it has to come from the Champagne region of France. The challenge, go out and get a bottle of Champagne, at whatever your budget can afford and give it a taste. I have an affinity for Champagne so this one excites me a bit. The due date is Wednesday 13 September, so come back and check out the results and how everyone stacks up to the challenge.

Greene King Olde Suffolk

This is one more beer from my recent travel to the Big Spec's up in Houston. Such a great store, great wine selection and a really good selection of craft and import beers. This beer is a first for me as I have never tried this style of ale before.
The Style: Old Ales, formerly called Stock Ales, are blended ales. This does not mean blends of two different types of beers like a Black and Tan, but instead of age. Similar to the tradition of blended whiskey or scotch, two ales, one usually over 2 years of age, the other just brewed are blended together to create an incredibly unique beer. These beers usually present high malt flavors and are dark in color. This is a very traditional English ale with a long history.
The Brewery: Greene King is located in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk in England. Over 200 years ago it started as a brewer and Pub. It has grown into a large corporation that runs both breweries and pubs around the UK. The Greene King brewery is still very traditional and continues to create Cask ales. They also export one of the more popular British ales...Old Speckled Hen.
The Beer: This beer came in a 16.9 fl Oz bottle. As is tradition this is a blended ale. The first called Old 5X is aged in giant oak casks for 2 years, the other named BPA is a fresh ale. Neither of these are ever bottled separately. It pours a dark reddish brown almost opaque in the glass. A thin tan head. The nose is full of sweet malty flavors with a mild bit of floral hops. In the mouth there is a hit of sweet malts, with some coffeeish bitterness. Undertones of caramel show on the afteraste. The mouthfeel is somewhat light for my tastes, almost watery. This is not a 'thick' beer. The beer is a reasonable 6.0% alcohol, however I consider this a sipping beer as to me this is a very rich beer, maybe due to the Maltiness, I can't see myself drinking more than one of these in a night. Again since I am not the biggest fan of Malty beers, I felt this was ok. I can appreciate the work that goes into creating a beer of this complexity but not my favorite. Here is what people at BA say.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

WBW # 24: Loire Whites Roundup

Alder over at Vinography, and host of this months Wine Blogging Wednesday has posted the roundup for this month's events. In this month's edition of the web's first and maybe only virtual wine testing the theme was Loire Whites. Alder received 27 entries from North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia, which shows you just how wide ranging this event is becoming. You can read all the entries on his roundup post, and as a reminder you can read my full entry on the 2005 Laurent Gregoire Domaine de Beauregard Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie. Enjoy the reading, and I'm sure that next month's event will be announced in just a few days.

Rahr & Sons Brewery

I have stated before that one of the reasons I like drinking craft beer is that it gives me the opportunity to support local businesses, that have interests in the community. So I thought I would take some time today to discuss a somewhat local craft brewery (its in Texas), Rahr and Sons. Texas only has about a half dozen breweries and maybe a couple more brew pubs, which is disappointing in a state this big. Rahr is the newest having started just over 2 years ago so it was nice to see this very well written article in the Fort Worth Business Press. Rahr is of course based out of Ft. Worth and is located in the downtown area. The brewery is owned, operated and marketed by Fritz Rahr. He has an interesting story in that his family founded the Rahr Malting Co. on Lake Michigan (its where he still gets his malt from). He began as so many Craft brewers do. He loved to make beer, and didn't like his current job, so one day his wife asks him what he wants to do, his reply? "I want to make beer" and the rest is as they say history. Rahr and Sons is a pretty small brewery, it brew about 2000 barrels this year having grown from 1600 in 2005 which was its first full year in existence. The brew's mostly reflect Rahr's German heritage, German lager's and a new German wheat beer that is their summer seasonal. They are growing in esteem as well, this year they were named by Zymurgy as the fifth best commercial brewery in the US and 4 of their beers made the lists top 50 beers, which is pretty impressive for this new brewery. Its exciting to hear Mr. Rahr's dedication and passion about brewing beer. I can't wait to watch this Texas Brewer grow.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Caracole Nostradamus

As I mentioned earlier this week I made a recent excursion to Spec's on a beer run of sorts. Tonight I decided to pop open one of these beers that I have never tasted.
The Style: The style of Nostradamus is a strong Belgian Brown Ale. This is a high alcohol beer with lots of complexity, most likely high in malt and low in hop bitterness with some sort of spiciness usually associated with the palate.
The Brewery: The brewery Caracole was founded in 1990 in the heart of the Ardennes mountains in Falmignoul which is a small village in the South of Belgium. All of Caracole's beers are made in the an 18th Century copper kettles. All ales are bottle conditioned and double fermented.
The Beer: This is by far one of the most unique ales I have ever tasted. I bought it in a four pack of smaller beers not a BIG beer. It pours a nice deep russet brown with streaks of red and nice tan pillowy head. The smell is of sweet fruity malts, and some spice. Initially when I tasted it, I felt only the high alcohol with an underwhelming sickly sweet malty flavor. However as the beer warmed in the glass I could taste the complex sweet malts and cinnamon aftertaste and caramel undertones. This is a s malty beer, the antithesis of American IPA's and their superleaded hops. Unfortunately I am an avid Hop head, so I didn't exactly fall in love with this beer. The first 15 minutes or so I thought I was going to hate it, but I ended up liking it, if not thoroughly enjoying it. At 9.5% alcohol this must be a sipping beer and maybe that's where I initially mess up trying to pair this with some food. Here is what the folks over at BA had to say.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Cyclops Duality

As craft brews continue to gain ground among consumers, brewers are trying to determine how to broaden their appeal even further. One of the issues that some brewers and craft beer drinkers deal with is expressing the taste of their beer to other people. This is not dissimilar to what wine tasters have been dealing with for years. As with wine, beer is incredibly complex and some feel that there needs to be a way of expressing the tastes of beer in a simple form that won't scare new drinkers away. In some ways the wine world has done this in forms such as the famous wine wheel that matches up broad scents such as Fruity or earthy, then below that has more specific connotations such as Grapefruit, or wet mossy soil. So you knew it wouldn't be long before craft breweries of some ilk would try and do the same. The shock of it is the people behind it, and the method they chose.
However, before I go into details there are two other really good blog entries on the subject over at Realbeer and A Good beer blog that you can check out as well.
The very respectable CAMRA or the Campaign for Real Ale, based out of England has joined with 14 real ale brewers (also from Great Britain) to 'demystify ale.' The program is somewhat ridiculously called CYCLOPS, yes that one-eyed beast of mythology who had is eye poked out during a drunken rage. The gist of the initiative is to break down what real ale should look, smell, and taste like. The taste and smell portion is where I have issues, its one thing to say what style head or basic color a beer should have, its quite another to break the smell and taste down into only two things, sweet and bitter. While these two things are important, the sweetness of malt and bitterness of hops, beer is so much more complex than this, to pigeon hole themselves is absurd. The other issue is that you can't tell people how to taste, we all have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to tasting and smelling things. One person may taste sweet chocolate, another may taste bitter esspresso in a stout. Who is right who is wrong? Well neither is wrong, because that's what they taste. People shouldn't depend on others telling them what to expect when they take the first sip of that pint. They should experiences it themselves, heck that's half the fun of experimenting with new beers.