Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Quick Hits

A few hits from around the blogosphere:

Sexy Taps a discussion of the art of Taphandles that Craft brewers have created over at Appelation Beer.

New York times actually reviews a beer book, the aforementioned Ambitious Brew.

Microbrews a 10 year perspective, a look at the craft beers that have survived the last ten years.

Guiness Red???? Enough said.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Ambitious Brew

First things first, I know its been a while since I've posted anything, and for good reason. I moved out of my apt into a new house and between the move and having to set up internet at my new place I haven't had the time to post anything. Well that's about to change as I have a lot of pent of things to write about.
As posted a few weeks back I made it to Denver this year for the Great American Beer Festival. While at there I ran into Maureen Ogle author of Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer and picked up an autograph copy. Well what a book. It was truly fascinating, covering from the late 1800's to current time. The book details the creating of A-B, Schlitz, Best, and other of the big Milwaukee Brewers. It does expose a big misconception in my part. Along with many, it was my understanding that after Prohibition the big boys started making weak water beer with corn, rice, and other things. This is simply not true. It was American tastes that in the early 1900's couldn't stand the strong German Lager that these companies made so it was then that they started making weak beer...it just got even weaker after prohibition.
Great book, that you might think could be very dry reads incredibly easy. The guys over at RealBeer have a GREAT 3 part interview with Ms. Ogle so go check that out, along with her website.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Saint Arnold's Divine Reserve #3

As I have mentioned before I am a big proponent of supporting Local Breweries. Well here in Houston there is no brewery more local than the great Saint Arnold's Brewery. I have talked about the brewery before here. They brew very good straight forward beers. Very rarely do they stray to far into extreme beers. One regular example is their Christmas Ale, that while not extreme is a very big departure from their regular beers. Another is their recent Divine Beer series. 3 Versions have been released so far, all are small batch artesian ales, and all are very different. The first was a barley wine style, that was due to a filtration problem pretty hit and miss from what I understand since I didn't get a chance to taste it. The second one I actually got to taste was an incredibly rich malty caramelly sweet quadrupel style Belgian ale. The third? Well that's what I got to taste today at the great downtown beer hall Gingerman's. I love this place as it has an incredible beer selection and you have some really good seats outside, which in this recent weather is a nice to have.
The Beer: Ahh yes Divine Reserve #3...an Imperial IPA. The beer was poured from the bottle into a regular British Pint glass. It was nice deep amber with a good inch head. The head dissipated into nice amounts of lacing. The nose was full of floral hops, grapefruit and some underneath sweetness that was hard to identify. The mouth was overpowering hops great amounts of that zippy bitterness, but with that same underlying clove type sweetness. I couldn't identify it so I went to the website and its Honey and Molasses. It was added to the kettle to up the starting gravity and lighten out the beer. It was a nice touch that seemed to keep the hops from burning the tongue. I really enjoyed the beer, so hats off to Brock and the guys. I didn't even notice that it was 9.5% until I got to the bottom of the glass, so its not something overly noticeable in my opinion. Very nice beer. Heres what the folks at BA had to say.

The Perfect Glass

Barry Shlachter of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram has a new article out. Mr. Shlacter is becoming one of my favorite writers from a major newspaper that writes about beer. This weeks article is about finding the perfect glass. Is it the Belgium globe shaped glass? or the tall pilsner glass? or the British pint? To me it obviously depends on what the beer is that your drinking. To me I love the chalice shaped glass as it gives the beer room to breath, especially when tasting it. Good article though so check it out.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Magnolia Taphouse - Historical Landmark

In Skimming the Houston Chronicle the other day I came across this really cool article. The article details the efforts of Bart Truxillo and the city of Houston government on creating a Houston Protected Landmark out of the old Magnolia Taphouse. What this means is that this truly magnificent building will not be razed to create another high rise apartment building. To me this is really neat and shows the historical significance of a once prized brewery.
The Magnolia Brewery had around 1- building spread out along Buffalo bayou and in 1903 produced half a million barrels of ice and brewed 200,000 barrels of beer. A few years later they were producing enough beer that they were running boats from Houston to Key West marking the beginning of plans to spread their beer to Cuba. The taproom actually opened up around 1912, however as with most breweries prohibition was not kind, that and a pair of floods caused the brewery to eventually close in 1950. Mr. Truxillo bought the building in 1967 and has worked to restore it since then.
All in all I couldn't be happier that the City of Houston decided to create this protected landmark.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA - 2006

YES! Success! I have been a lover of Dogfish Head for quite some time. I think the 60 minute IPA is one of the great every day beers you can have. The Punkin Ale is amazing. But this past weekend I finally found at the Big Superstore Spec's the beer I have been looking for, the holy grail for hop heads: The 120 Minute IPA!
The Beer: They call this an Imperial IPA a super duper hopped up India Pale Ale. The details: 20% abv, 120 IBU, boiled for 2 hours (where the 120 comes in) while being continuously hopped, then dry hopped daily for thirty days, then aged for another month in whole-leaf hops. Its hop infused to the max. It pours a light orange color with a thick pillowy cream colored head. The nose is hoplicious, floural, pungent, overpowering. The mouthfeel is THICK you know your drinking something. Total hops in the mouth, spicy, tingles the tongue it almost burns. There are hints of raisins that start to come out, but there is a definite burn of alcohol in the aftertaste. There are so many different complex layers of bitterness you can't tell where one starts and another begins, you just feel the waves and differences. Honestly I don't know what to think, its almost too much. I bought a few bottles so I plan on letting them sit, and see if they mellow out before I make my final verdict. In the mean time here is what the folks over at BA had to say.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Lefthand Twin Sister Double IPA

I actually tried this beer the latest from Lefthand's Big MO series before I went to Denver for GABF, I just didn't have time to write about it. I talked about Lefthand back when I had their Imperial Stout (another of the Big MO series).
The Style: Ahh yes the Double IPA, a truly American Invention. The British created the India Pale ale as a way of hopping up and preserving their Pale Ale to ship to the British soldiers that were stationed in India. These souped up beers were higher alcohol and were better preserved for those far flung soldiers of the British Empire. However one day one of the ships crashed on the rocks of British Coast. The barrels washed up on shore and once the locals got a test they clamored for the brewer's to make more of this amazing nectar so that the locals at home could have some. The rest as they say is history. A Double IPA or Imperial IPA is just an even more hopped up IPA, more alcohol and more hop greatness.
The Beer: As mentioned this is part of Lefthand's BIG MO series, bottle conditioned topped with a champagne cork and weighing in at 9.6% alcohol. Here are the stats. Malts: Castle Pale, Rye and a proprietary custom malt. Hops include cascade, glacier, tomahawk, liberty, and crystal dry. The IBU is 87.
Now on to the tasting. The beer pours a bright orange with a thick foamy head. Floral hops in copious amounts on the nose. The mouth is full of spicy bitter hops, that tingles the tongue, biting you in the jaw. An amazing beer. One of the nice things I liked is that the alcohol was really well hidden with the hop bitterness. Here is what the folks over at BA had to say about this thoroughly enjoyable beer.

Monday, October 02, 2006

GABF Roundup

What an experience this past weekend was. I flew up to Denver on Thursday and was able to spend Friday at the 25th Great American Beer Festival. This was my first experience and it was amazing. As I walked into the Denver convention center I got chills stepping into the Festival. As far as the eye could see were booths and booths of beer. And me standing their with this small little four oz glass, mouth watering in anticipation, my program marked up and ready, folded beneath my arm waiting to act as my guide to the new and untasted.
I'll give some tasting notes in a bit, but just wanted to expound on my little adventure. I went with my fiance (who is from Denver) her sister and her friends. I went with the goal of trying either new beers from brewers that I was familiar with, but had never tasted (think Dogfish head), or breweries I had heard of, but had never tasted any products from (think Russian River which doesn't get distributed to Texas). Lastly I went looking to meet as many people as I could. And that was a success. At the Dogfish Head booth, Sam the man himself was their pouring beers as fast as he could. At the Brooklyn Brewery Mr. Garrett Oliver was standing there. I was able to get just a few minutes of his time to talk to him. Very very nice guy, very down to earth. The last person I met was Maureen Ogle the author of the new book Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer. I picked up a copy of her book at the Festival, and she promplty autographed it. She seemed somewhat at ease that everyone wanted a copy of her book and that people had heard such good things about it. Again very nice lady.
Ok on to the tastings. Since the festival is not conducive to true tastings (small pours, beer not at its freshest, inappropriate glass wear, too many different styles and flavors piling up on top of eachother) I will give a list of the beers that I tasted as best as I can remember from my notes. Unless stated otherwise assume that I enjoyed the beers.
21st. Amendment - 21A IPA (HOPPY!!!) and watermelon wheat (amazingly refreshing, not to sweet.
Alaskan Brewing Company - Alaskan Smoked Porter 2005 (awesome, I now know what the fuss is about) and Alaskan Stout.
Allagash - Interlude
Anchor Brewing Company - Foghorn (amazing barley wine, very nice)
Boston Beer Company - Sam Adams Cream Stout
Boulder Beer Co - Mojo IPA (WOW was this amazing, hops zinging the tongue) and Hazed and Confused (even better than the Mojo).
Brewery Ommegang - Three Philosophers Quadruple (amazing malty goodness, this was one of the best quads I ever had).
The Brooklyn Brewery - Brooklyn Chocolate stout (chocolate covered esspresso beans), Fortitude (amazing), Brooklyn Weisse (bananas, bananas, bananas)
Butte Creek Brewing Company - Organic Revolution X (very nice organic brew).
Deschutes Brewery - Broken Top Bock (amazing) Inversion IPA
Dogfish Head Ale - 90 minute IPA run through Sam's wet hop contraption, Red Ale Cask Ale
Firestone Walker Brewing Co - Firestone Walker "10" (did not enjoy this at all too sickly sweet)
Goose Island Beer Co - Pere Jacques
Healthy Brew - Snowman's Revenge and Wheat Serenity (my fiance really really enjoyed this Texas Organic wheat beer).
He'Brew Beer - Messiah Bold and Bitter Sweet Lenny's R.I.P.A. (this was an amazing very unique rye IPA, great balance of flavors).
Leinenkugel Brewing Company -Cream Dark (very nice, many of my northern friends swear by this beer, now I know why).
Live Oak Brewing Co - Old Treehugger (an ok barley wine).
Odell Brewing Co - Cutthroat Porter (disappointing from a brewer I tend to enjoy)
Pennsylvania Brewing Co - Penn Oktoberfest
Rogue Ales - Brutal Bitter (Oh yes its BRUTAL (in a good way)) and 12PA
Russian River Brewing Co - Supplication (utterly disappointing, wish I had tried some others but they were out of Pliny the elder that I really wanted to try)
Sierra Nevada Brewing CO - Wood Aged Bigfoot Barely Wine (very nice, the oak aging added a whole other experience to this already amazing barleywine)
Snake River Brewing - Zonker Stout and OB-1 Certified Organic Brown Ale
Stone Brewing - Oak Aged Arrogant Bastard (talk about arrogant! this was GREAT) and 10th Anniversary IPA (as close to to much hops as one can get and still love it)

Well that's about it, at least as far as those that I took notes on and that I can remember.
Shout out to local Saint Arnolds Brewing for gathering in another award for its Kolsch style Lawnmower Beer, great job guys!