Saturday, April 28, 2007

Support Your Local brewery

There is a new grassroots organization focusing on Beer laws called Support Your Local Brewery (SYLB). SYLB is organized and run by the BA (Brewer's Association). It is not just for brewers, but for home brewers, beer enthusiasts, distributors and other trade professionals. Their goal is to protect the legislative and regulatory interests of small, traditional and independent craft breweries. Since this is something near and dear to my heart as my favorite local brewery Saint Arnold's is fighting with the Texas State Legislature I wanted to give them some pub. Check their website out and remember to support your local brewery because they will support you.

Beer Quick Hits

Its been a while since I've had the chance to sit down and talk news around the beer world so I thought I'd use a Saturday morning to through some newsy updates out there.
First off a couple of Saint Arnold's updates:
- BJ's Restaurant and Brewery has announced that it has moved into Florida. Like the deal that BJ's made in Texas, Saint Arnolds will be contracted to brew all the beer for BJ's in Florida. Just another great way for Saint Arnold's to expand capital, and hopefully expand their operations.
- Its Baseball Season and Saint Arnold's has announced their first ever Bus Trip to the Astros Game. Everyone will meet at the brewery for some pre-game refreshment, pile into a bus and go to the Astros Game. This is a great idea, and I'm so happy that Saint Arnold's has started this. Great idea, and I can't wait to go!
- A couple of stories here, and here about how good Beer is for the economy! No surprise here, as microbrewer's as I have talked about in the past, are more likely to give back to their communities and as shown at New Belgium have incredibly low turnover.
- A sad note here, in that A-B wins again, this time over in the old country, Hungary specifically where they have earned the right to market their beer as Budweiser, causing the original Budvar to be marketed under a different name.
- Beer and Math? Hey its how I got through University. An article from the BBC detailing how a math formula has helped to solve the question of how to make that head last longer.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Dogfish Head Burton Baton

DogI had seen this beer at both my local Spec's and Central market a while ago, but then it dropped off the face of the earth before I could grab a four pack. So I was extremely excited to see it back on the shelf this past weekend.
The Beer: The beer is a blend of an oak aged English Strong Ale and Dogfish's 90 minute IPA, and weighs in at around 10% alcohol. Using a chalice shaped glass, the beer poured a bright amber, orangish color capped by a quarter inch foamy cream head, the soon dissipated leaving behind thick streams of lacing. The nose was full of hop bitterness, citrus peel, oak, vanilla, and surprisingly what I could only compare to as sour cherries. Not that it was bad, just surprising to me. The mouthfeel was thick, with good but somewhat mellow carbonation. Grapefruit and some alcohol burn were prevalent at the beginning with just hints of cherry and oak, but as the beer warmed in the glass the grapefruit flavors subsided and the cherry and oak flavors came forward expressing themselves in tastes similar to a cherry vanilla coke with out the overbearing sweetness. An extremely complex ale, and maybe I am a sucker for oak aging, but I really enjoyed this one. Here's what the folks at BA had to say, and it seems as if most agree with me.

Book Review: Beer & Food An American History

A few weeks ago I went on a bit of a book shopping splurge and bought a few pieces on beer. Hopefully over the course of the next month or so I'll finish them all and write up a couple of reviews. The first book that came was the newest by Bob Skilnik titled Beer & Food: An American History. Before getting into the book, a little about the author. Mr. Skilnik has written a pretty well reviewed book in the past, Beer: A history of Brewing in Chicago. Chicago being near and dear to his heart as that is his residence and where he earned a degree in brewing technology from the Siebel Institute. So he has some pretty good credentials, and as I am fan of beer and food pairing, I was eager to crack open the book.
The basic premise of the book is looking at how beer and food have evolved over American History, both in pairings, but more specifically as an ingredient. I think that the author does a good job of meeting the premise, in an authoritative and entertaining manner. The author does covers much more range than Maureen Ogle's book, starting back in the Colonial days. He starts out showing how the women that brewed the beer used it in their dishes, and stews, sometimes using them as preservatives, due to the use of hops. But more prevantly the author shows how people had to make do using other non traditional ingredients for beer in the new frontier than their British Homes were used to. This manner of showing the state of beer, then food, then giving a smattering of beer infused ingredients continues throughout the book, up until Prohibition, where instead of using beer, ingredient pamphlets were created by struggling brewers emphasizing the use of their Malt extracts. Fascinating if not entirely appetizing approach. The book ends with the craft beer movement and recipes from a good selection of craft brewers using their own beers in various unique ways.
Overall I think this is a good introductory book to beer and food. Some of the recipes were redundant, (sometimes that may have been the authors point) I mean how many stews or Welsh Rarebit recipes does one need? The real treat here were some of the current recipes utilizing today's craft beer's as they seemed to be very thought out.
My recommendation is, if you are interested in beer and food as ingredients, this is a good start, if you are more interested in Beer and food in pairings, seek out Garrett Oliver's much more thorough effort.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Allagash Musette

I am always on the lookout for new and unusual beers. Not necessarily extreme beers, but beers that are made in an usual way, beers that show craftsmen ship. The other day in Spec's I found it in this beer from Allagash. Now, I have had an Allagash beer before and been impressed, so when I saw this one I knew or at least hoped I'd be in for a treat.
The Beer: The beer comes in a big bottle with a wire cage closure, its aged in oak barrels, and according to the label was bottled on December 2006! This is one of 518 cases bottled and finally the beer weighs in at 10% abv. The beer pours a cloudy dark amber, capped by a thick white foamy head. The nose is full of sweet malts, raisins, figs, and a hint of burnt wood. The mouth has smoky, oaky, slightly vanillin notes, and caramel. The oak brings out flavors like a good oak aged wine, this beer is dry in that vein too. Very smooth. As the beer warmed more vanillin notes started to pop out creating a beer of incredible depth. Very nice. Here's what the folks over at BA had to say.
A couple of other notes, according to Allagash this is a Scottish ale. The oak hides some of this, but I do see it. For more info check out their page dedicated to this great beer.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Session #3 Announcement

Yes the announcement has been made. We have had a blast with the first two Sessions, that I am pleased to announced Jay over at the Brookston Beer Blog has announced the latest installment.
For those new to The Session, belly up to the bar, its easy. On the first Friday of every month, beer bloggers around the world gather for a virtual tasting, directed toward a specific theme that is supplied by that month's host. Well we know the host is Jay, the theme? Well its Mild Beer. Some out there may be saying 'Huh' I know, but its a pretty popular beer over across the pond in London, so popular in fact that CAMRA has named May The month of the Mild. So what is mild? It is usually a darker beer, slightly sweet, with toasty malts, a bit of hops, but relatively low alcohol, weighing in at around 4.5 to 5% sometimes lower. For more information, check out this sight. It will be challenge for me to find a good Mild to taste, since there aren't many American Craft Brewers making them, and I don't know if I get any of the ones imported. But hey challenges are part of the fun. Plus I am exceedingly happy that Jay chose this as I think it will open a lot of people up to a style they have not tried before. As many beers as I have tried, I have never had a mild, so this one will be new to me, and that's always exciting. So join in, and come back on May 4th for the results.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Session #2

Wow.....the first session was a great success, this time it might be even better.

Head over to A Good Beer Blog and check out the plethora of Dubbels.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Session #2: Dubbels

The day is finally upon us, The Session #2 has arrived. The first session was a blast as the theme was "Not your Father's Stout". For those new to the discussion The Session is a virtual Beer Tasting held the first Friday of the month. All the beer bloggers, the world over, do tasting, write up and the host posts every one's tasting in a round up a couple of days later. This month the host is Alan over at A Good Beer Blog, the theme is Dubbels. My foray into this months discussion is Ommegang's Abbey Ale.
The Style: The Dubbel style has its roots in Trappist brewing, although many American Craft brewers are making Abbey ale, which for the most part are Dubbels. These beers are of moderate strength around 8%, but always less that the more robust Trippels. These beers are dark, malty, spicy, with low hops.
The Brewery: Ommegang is based in Cooperstown, New York, was founded in 1997 and is renown for creating some of the best Belgian Ales in the States. Simply put they are Belgian ales. They use traditional Belgian style malts, spices, and brewing methods to create a small collection of reportedly amazing Belgian Beers. Among other things they also promote the greatness that is Beer with Food, something I am passionate about.
The Beer: I searched a long time before selecting a Dubbel that I wanted to taste. At first I was going to go for a Belgian Beer, but most of those I have been lucky to taste, either here, or when I was in Brussels last year. So I decided to search for something new, something I had never tasted. Lucky me then that Ommegang brewery has just started distribution to my fair city! I had heard nothing but raves about this brewery so when I saw their Ommegang Ale on the shelf of my local Spec's I knew this was THE BEER!
The beer came in a large bottle with the words 'Bottle Conditioned' printed on the front of the colorful label. The beer weighed in at a nice 8.5% and poured a deep amber with just small streaks of red flashing through when held up to the light. There was a nice thick, dense quarter inche taupe head capping this amber nectar. The nose was fruity, musty, raisins. The mouth showed good carbonation, smooth, with notes of coffee, dark chewy raisins, concentrated dark grape flavors, leaving a crisp long finish. A bit of espresso bitterness showed itself right at the finish. As the beer warmed the dark fruit flavors showed up even more prevalently, expressing itself in what I would call a thick beer. I really enjoyed this beer and am glad that Ommegang has made its way down here. Can't wait to try their other beers. Here's what the folks at BA had to say.
Now go over to A Good Beer blog and check out the other Dubbel Posts.

MOJO Risin Double IPA

Beyond going to a couple of Brew Pubs this past weekend while in Colorado, I was also able to pick up a beer that I have been trying get my hands on. Unfortunately Boulder Beer Co, doesn't distribute to Texas, or at least not down to Houston so my only other previous experience was during this past years Great American Beer Festival. So, when I went into a local Denver Beer store and saw this beer, it called to me, a big bottle, big beer, double IPA! Sounds good to me!
The Brewery: Boulder Beer Co, was Colorado's first microbrewery which is pretty telling in a state that has quite a few. The brewery was started in 1979 by a couple of professors from the local university CU. There first beers were a Extra Pale Ale, Porter, and a Stout, but I dare say now they are more famous for their MOJO IPA and their Hazed and Confused (a fresh hop infused IPA).
The Beer: This particular beer is part of the 'Look Glass' Series, of which the aforementioned Hazed and Confused is the flagship and comes in a big bottle. The beer weighs in at a potent 10% alcohol. It pours a deep copper color with a nice quarter inch frothy head. Floral hop bitterness with some citrus peel in the nose. The mouth is full with nice carbonation. Its like biting into a grapefruit, skin and all, but the nicest thing is that it ends with a bit of malt sweetness that helps balance the beer and not making the beer unbearable, which it comes close to, but never goes over the edge. I couldn't drink more than one of these massive beers, but its quite nice for being an extreme hoppy beer. Here's what the folks at BA had to say.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

My weekend

I know its been a few days since my last post, but I do have a good excuse. This past weekend I headed up to the land of beer and mountains, Denver Colorado. My fiance and I were doing a little wedding planning, but since Denver and the area surrounding Denver are infested with Microbreweries I was VERY happy. Amongst the planning we were able to stop by two craft breweries, Estes Park Brewery, and Oskar Blues and have a sample of their fine brews.
Estes Park Brewery is of course located in Estes Park across the lake from the Stanely hotel (the creepy hotel in the Shining). The brewery is a Brew pub serving ok food, and pretty good beer. When we got there we headed to the tasting bar for a few short glasses of beer (since these were small pours I won't be grading the head):
Estes Park Porter: Dark, ruby colored, coffee notes, creamy, smooth with a light bitterness at the end, very nice.
Estes Park Renegade: This is their IPA, oranges, bitter, fruity, balance the bitterness with some malt, good carbonation. Pretty good.
Estes Barleywine: Very nice at 13%, raisins, Roasted sweet malts, chewy, dark fruit. Could use some aging, but already very good.
Estes Tripel: Weighs in at 8.8%, fruity, golden in color, white grapes, like a Riesling, honey suckle, melons, Extremely smooth, no alcohol flavor.
Estes Park Oatmeal Stout: Flavors of roasted malts and chocolate, a tad bit of oaty flavor. Some esspresso notes, with only a bit of mild bitterness. An ok attempt.

Oskar Blues of course is that small brewery that has become famous for serving their beers in cans, something not many craft brewers do. The brewery is a small venture in a Lyons Colorado. They serve food, but we didn't get any, instead we sat down on a Sunday afternoon and ordered a sampler tray of 6 beers:
MoneyShot Cream Ale: Light, lemony, cloudy, crisp, and tart. An ok beer, but I don't have much experience with a Cream ale.
Gordon Strong Beer: Big hops here, no malts, orange peel notes, a little much, but not to bad.
Dale Pale Ale: The flagship beer. Poured cloudy, nice smooth hops, well balanced, refreshing, Very nice.
Bitching Creek ESB: A guest beer from Jackson Hole, that they were pouring. Bitter, some chocolate notes, smooth cocoa-y, very nice.
Old Chub: Another one of their popular beers a Scottish Ale. Dark brown, sweet dark raisins, dark cherry notes, smooth a little bitter, but very nice.