Thursday, November 30, 2006


A man can not live by Kolsch alone...not even in Cologne. So as I have spent my time here I have looked for some other unique beers around town. Lo and behold I live just down the street from a great little store appropriately called the Bier Museum. An amazing place with a great selection of beers from all over Germany, Belguim, and Czech. This being Christmas season I found a couple of Weihnachts-bier's (think winter festival beers). These beers do not have a set style, they are more like the American version of Winter beers instead of the traditional BRitish Winter Warmer's. Meaning that they are just specially brewed beers but don't fall in to any stylistic category. Now on to the tastings
Post Brauerie Karl Meyer Nesselweg Weihnachtsbier: From a style standpoint the folks over at BA categorize it as a Helles Munich Lager. Fair enough. The beer pours golden honey in the glass with a thick one inch foamy head. The nose has some fruity tanginess, some malt flavors and some spiciness however not from hops. The mouth is full of that nice fruity flavors with just a bit of bitterness at the end. Very nice and the beer weighs in at 5.45%. Here is what the folks at BA had to say.
Neuschwansteiner Weihnachts-Bier: The folks at Ba call this a Marzen style of lager. The beer pours a nice rich brown with streaks of red a nice 1.5 inch thick pillowy tawny head that quickly dissipated into good amounts of lacing. The nose is full of sweet malty flavors, maybe some cinnamon, hazelnuts, and brown sugar. The mouth has some good layers of sweetness, brown sugar coming out with toasted malt flavors in abundance. A good level of bitterness rounds out the full flavor of this beer. Very different from what I was expecting, but I did enjoy it. The beer weighed in at 5.2%. Seems like some at BA didn't seem to like it much, but I did find it rather enjoyable

Monday, November 27, 2006

Sunday's Quest

I yet again ventured out into the great and wonderful city of Cologne yesterday. As I walked around the beautiful city past the Dom, walking along the Rhine, I began to get a little thirsty (amazing how that happens). So I looked around for the nearest watering hole and found a small cafe along the river serving a brand of Kolsch that I had never had before. So in my state of discovery I decided to have a late lunch and some kolsch. The Kolsch in question was Ganser, which is an outfit that no longer has a brewery in Cologne city proper. It was poured into the 0.3 L not the traditional 0.2L glass. A nice pillowy white head capped the glass. The beer itself was bubbly and a slightly darker shade of yellow than a pils. The nose was green and grassy with maybe a hint of limestone and earth. The first taste was really rich, with pale malts on the forefront a little tartness that mellows out on the aftertaste with just a hint of hop bitterness. Very nice. The carbonation was very good just bordering on too much. For lunch I had a goulash soup (think beef stew in a tomato broth). The combination worked very well together as the carbonation of the Kolsch cut through the acidity of the tomatoes. This is another Kolsch that I will be on the look out at cafe's aroiund Cologne.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Saturday around Cologne

I experienced my first Saturday in Cologne by myself yesterday. So I got up and went to the great Christmas Markets, a sight to see to be sure, but thats not the reason that you are reading this. During my jaunts from market to market I got a little thirsty so I decided to stop by a couple of Kolsch Brewery's for a beer. While I am here, I will try to do most of my tastings from the brewery since that is a great way to experience Kolsch. I will always try to have the beer out of the tap since that is when it is at its freshest. Now on to the tastings:
Pfaffen: I came to the brewery the other day with a bunch of friends so I wanted to go back by self for a tasting as I think this may be my favorite Koslch. I had my beer standing up against the tables outside as the weather was beautiful. The beer poured a light amber, much darker than the traditional golden pilsner color of most Kolsch's. The head was about 1.5 inches and pillowy floating atop the beer with ample lacing throughtout. There was an underlying spiciness on the nose along with the familiar malty sweetness. The mouth was more of the same, with that same spiciness that I can't quite put my finger on, not from hops from something else, it almost reminds me of a winter warmer...almost. Such a great beer.
Fruh: This is one of the most popular breweries in Cologne, and I can see why. FIrst of all its HUGE....multiple stories, rooms off of rooms, when I had some friends meet me there a couple of days back they got lost....the atsmosphere is truly kolsch, with the waiters slinging their carriers around (these round contrapations that carry about 8-16 glassses) I am suprised that no on loses a glass. So I sat down ordered a Halven Hahn (nope note half a hen) which is a Kolsch snakc of cheddar and good German Bread, goes great with the beer. The beer isn't bad either. The beer is the traditional color, with a nice foamy head, but limited lacing. The taste was more traditional as well, with nice malt at the top and slight hoppy bitterness on the aftertaste. Very smooth, very crispy. While nothing special, this is agreat example of a fine Kolsch.

More as I walk around the town.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Quick Hits

Some random posts from the Beer and Wine blogosphere:

Alder over at Vinography talks about just what that flavor is and comes up with an alternative to the aroma wheel.

Don't forget to check out the latest beer at the 10 year perspective. Its sad how many of those breweries are not defunct.

Hail the ale has even more Holiday gifts for the beer lover in your life.

Finally try out Wine Spectators latest "What am I tasting" quiz....just how good are you?

Friday, November 24, 2006

So what did you have with Thanksgiving Dinner

A little online poll for everyone out there that would like to participate.
What did you have to drink with Thanksgiving Dinner? Wine? Beer? Both? Other?

Living in Germany I didn't get to celebrate the holiday yesterday. I did however partake in a Thanksgiving Feast prior to coming out drink? A Oregon Pinot Noir. nice and fruity and it stood up to the herbs of the meal. My second joice? A fall beer in particular a Pumpkin ale, where the spiceness of the beer would hold up well against all the flavors of a traditional Thanksgiving day feast.....I hope everyone had a grand time yesterday and let me know what you all had.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

WBW # 28 Announced

I know I know, I have been promising for a while to get back into the the Wine Blogging Wednesday but due to what ended up being a pretty hectic period I was unable to....that stops this month! The Culinary fool is hosting this month..and the theme is Sparklers, ie Sparkling wine. He has three categories to put this wine into:
  • Party Sparklers – Bargain sparklers that if you needed several bottles for a party wouldn’t break your budget but you wouldn’t be embarrassed to serve
  • Special Sparklers – those bottles that might be a bit higher cost but for a little splurge you think they are worth the price
  • Duds – you tried a bottle, thought it held promise but when it comes down to it you wouldn't buy it again. Hopefully we won't have many in this category!

Being over here in Europe I figure I'll be exposed to a few different styles of sparkling wine so I definetely will partake in this venture. Lets hope I don't find one in that last category. The roundup will be posted on Dec 15 so come back then and see how it all went.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

My First Days in Cologne

I have made it through my travels and reached Cologne Germany. So I am working on making it through my first weekend and thought I'd give an update on what I have been doing. Obviously here in Cologne there is one big thing to partake in and that is of course Kolsch.
In reality Kolsch means anything that comes from Koln (Cologne). Which means there is a Kolsch dialect, Kolsch food, Kolsch style, and of course Kolsch Beer. Kolsch beer is a warm fermenting beer like an ale, instead of lagered as many believe. This misconception is due to the fact that Kolsch looks so much like a Pilsner in its light golden color, nice white head, and crisp clean taste. Kolsch's taste profile has a suprising range from crisp, clean, and malty to slightly hoppy with sweet fruity characteristics, and everythnig in between. Its a great beer to enjoy, as it weighs in at around 4.6 to 4.8 % and is served in 0.2L or 0.3 L. In otherwords you can have many beers and not feel all that bad afterwards.
In my short time here I have had the opportunity to try quite a few Kolsch: Sion, Gilden, Gaffel, Paffgen, Pfaffel, and Dom. Most were really great, but they were all very different. In the next few weeks I'll do as many individual write ups on these as I can. I'll include the brew house experience as well since that is a big part of the Kolsch Beer Experience. And for Jay, I am hoping to make it up to Dusseldorf in the next couple of weeks for some AltBier.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Land of Kolsch and Riesling

Today is a BIG day for me. Due to work I'll be living the next three months in Cologne Germany. I know its rough, but someone has to do it. For those that don't know, Cologne is the land of Kolsch beer, a clean crisp style of beer only brewed in Cologne (although there are a few American Craft breweries taking up the style). Cologne is also just north of the Mosel Wine region, aka the land of Riesling. As you can imagine I will be partaking in both, along with trips to Belgium, Munich, Dusseldorf, Berlin, and other places to check out the local drinks. Somewhere in there I'll also find some time to write about my experiences, so the blog will continue to be updated.

Monday, November 13, 2006

A Trio of Christmas Beers

Well I picked up three more Christmas ales this past week. I've been able to work through them and decided to post all three in short notes instead of post 3 longer posts since with the exception of one, I have tried beers from all of the breweries.
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale: A pretty popular ale around this time, this was my first time trying it out. It poured a nice amber in the glass with a very thick foamy head. Lots of floral spicy hops in the nose. The mouth was more of the same, reminding me much more of an IPA than a traditional Winter Ale. The finish was evergreen and piney, very nice especially as an IPA, but not what I was expecting. Here is what the folks at BA had to say.
Saint Arnold's Christmas Ale: A deep dark amber brown, minimal head with even less lacing. Very nice level of carbonation. The nose had some green apple hints to it along with some malty sweetness. Mild hoppiness on the palate with just a slightly bitter finish. Very ok beer and a somewhat disappointment as I have really enjoyed this in the past. Here is what the folks at BA had to say.
Wychwood BahHumbug Christmas Ale: Last but not least comes this Christmas ale from England. The beer weighs in at 6.0% and is slightly stronger than the other two. It pours a nice brown with streaks of red shooting through it, capped with a nice thick tan head. Malts and some spice pour forth filling the nose. Very malty on the palate, spicey as well but not from hops almost a little like a German Marzen ale to me. Smooth. A pretty OK beer, not great, but not to bad either. Here is what the folks at BA had to say.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Best Cities for Beer Lovers

I came across an article on MSNBC.COM today touting the best 10 cities in the world for beer lovers. Its a pretty diverse list with cities on three different continents and multiple countries. The top ten are Amsterdam, Berlin, Brugge (a city in Belgium), Burlington, VT, Dublin, Mexico City, Montreal, Portland, Prague and finally Sapporo.
As you can see its a pretty interesting list. Some of the picks are puzzling to me, for instance Burlington, and why not a place like Denver that has become a center for so many microbreweries and home of the largest beer festival in America. I like the choices of Prague, Dublin, even Mexico City home of the largest Cervezas. Portland of course is a great pick, you can't go wrong with a city that doesn't have Budweiser as its top beer. Brugge is a pretty interesting choice as when most think Belgium they think of Brussels, but its a choice I like.
Check out the article for more details on each city and why they chose them.

Gifts for the Beer Lover

Yeah I know its hard to believe, but we are just over a month and half from Christmas and even closer to that horrific shopping day, Black Friday, (the day after thanksgiving). As I have surfed around the blogosphere I see that many are posting things for the beer lover. So instead of coming up with my own list, I'll just give everyone links to everyone elses.

The Hail the Ale Beer store at

Hop Talk's list of gifts for the beer geeks - Books, and Beers of the month clubs.

Drink my SHORTS!!!!

Barry Shlachter's Christmas list includes books, pictures and a calendar spread.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Warming Trend

The weather is getting cooler even down here in Texas. Not cold mind you, but a little cooler, cool enough even that there are thoughts of drinking a liquid warmer. That elixir that warms the spirit and the body. With that in mind I picked up a couple of Winter Ales from my local Central Market the other day. Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome and Young's Winter Warmer.
Young's Winter Warmer: Young's Brewery makes beer out of the Ram brewery in Britain and has done so since 1851. They make one of my favorite beers ever in their Double Chocolate Stout. The Winter Warmer weighs in at 5.2%, pouring a dark woody brown with a thick, pillowy tan head. There is malty sweetness on the nose, a slight breadiness and raisin scents. The mouthfeel is a little light, but with plenty of malt and a bit of bitterness on the aftertaste with that same raisin flavor. As the beer warms notes of coffee and chocolate show up. This is a very nice very smooth beer. Here's what the folks at BA had to say.
Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome: I have always loved this beer. Each year the label is different, with new artwork of a Dickensonian feel to it. Samuel Smith's was founded in 1758 in Tadcaster England and make some absolutely wonderful ales, with their Tadcaster Porter being one of my favorites. This beer weighs in at 6.0% and pours a nice rich reddish brown with a nice half inch white creamy head. More spiceness than Young's, less malt and more hops on the nose. A much heavier mouthfeel, a much heavier beer overall in fact. Hops are a the front with this, but still smooth and raisiny flavors. Some nutmeg and spices come out as the beer warms. Again, here is what the folks over at BA had to say.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Saint Arnold's new Business

The other day I came across this article in the Ft. Worth Star-telegram detailing a new business arrangement between Houston's own Saint Arnold's Brewery and the restaurant/brewery chain BJ's Restaurant. Traditionally when BJ's moves into a new state they build a large restaurant brewery and use that as a distribution point to the other units within the state. However, that is illegal here in Texas (Texas has a few arcane beer laws). So to get around this they basically have to have their beer contract brewed. This is where Saint Arnold's comes in. Owner Brock Wagner has a contract with BJ's to brew their beer and get it distributed to the restaurants. They can actually distributed it anywhere they want, but due to lack of advertising the only requests come from BJ's itself. In the long run, this is actually going to really help out Saint Arnold's. Including the BJ's beer means they are increasing production and it let's Brock buy new and better equipment long before he might have if he was just brewing Saint Arnold's. This can help with better beer, better consistency, and help in expansion. I say good business deal for Brock.