Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Avery Fourteen

Avery brewing is a very nice little brewer from the big Colorado. I have tasted and enjoyed many of their brews in the past. From the big bottle Collaboration ale, to the small but powerful Mephistopheles, they are all unique beers. This particular beer is a celebration of their 14th anniversary. The last few years they have been putting out anniversary beers, the 12th was a Saison, the 13th was Weizen Dopplebock. The style this time around? They leave it up to the drinker to decide.
The Beer: The beer weighs in at a potent 9.46% alcohol and 60 IBU's, a note on the label says that its dry hopped. Pours a rich dark brown with a cappuccino colored head. Molasses, raisins, hops in the nose. The mouth has notes of coffee and chocolate covered raisins and finally a note of figs up front with bitter hops showing up near the end. It keeps the beer smooth with a thick mouthfeel. A very rich beer, you can feel the hops, but they aren't overpowering the malty sweetness up front helps balance it out. The over all alcohol while not noted in the taste is definitely felt as you drink it. A very nice beer. One that I would grade a B+. Now as for the style, while it definitely doesn't fit any one style the nearest I could come to is an ultra hoppy Scottish Ale (maybe an ISA - Imperial Scotch Ale?). To each its own. The folks over at BA call it a strong Dark Belgian Ale. To each their own I guess.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Quick Hits: Beer around the Web

Its a lazy Saturday morning, and I have been searching out some interesting articles on that which we love, Beer!

The Capital Times from Madison Wisconsin has a great write up on Lucy Saunders new book, "Grilling with Beer". From the read it sounds like a great book, that focus's on the facts that Beer pairs so much better with foods than wine. One more book that tries to beat back the falsehood of food and wine pairings. From someone that loves food and beer, its irritating to me that when I go to a good restaurant (as I am planning on doing tonight to celebrate my fiance's birthday) I have very little to choose from when it comes to beer. Enough with the aside, back to the book. Sounds like a really good addition to any one's cookbook collection. For another review, head over to the trusted Brookston Bulletin where Jay did another review.

From Virginia comes yet another story of the government and neo-prohibitionists rearing their ugly heads. A fine dining establishment in Alexandria called Rustico has a new beer related item on its menu. A restaurant for beer lovers this place has nearly 300 beers on tap or in the bottle. The chef's new experiment is Beer Popsicle. Evidently this is a BIG NO-NO as the Virginia ABC says the chef’s summer treat may break regulations requiring that “beer be served in its original container or served to the customer immediately once it’s poured.” This from a state that already has overly controlling alcohol laws I guess this shouldn't be surprising, just sad.

Last but not least a nice write up from Stan over at Appellation Beer in regards to Denver's own Great Divide Brewery and their new beer: Samurai. A good beer made with rice of all things. See adjuncts aren't all bad, you just have to use good ingredients.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

North Coast Old Stock 2007

I am a big fan of North Coast Brewing from California. From their Old Rasputin Imperial Stout, to Brother Thelonious, that Belgian style beer that also supports great music. When I went to my local Central Market last week and saw their new Old Stock ale, I decided to pick it up. This is an Old ale that they brew every year, and its meant to be laid down and aged. I decided to go ahead and try one before laying any down to get a baseline for later comparison.
The Beer: The beer weighs in at 11.7 and pours a cloudy reddish brown with a thin taupe colored head. The head quickly dissipates into a thin tight line that sticks around throughout. The nose is of sweet malt syrup, raisins, figs, espresso and chocolate. The mouth has notes of caramel, chocolate, espresso and raisins. A bit too much alcohol on the back end kind of kills the over all taste of the beer, and not surprisingly this beer needs some more time to mellow the alcohol flavors and let other's start to meld and shine through. Right now I'd have to give it a B-. We'll have to wait and see how it develops.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Shiner 98: Bavarian Amber

Shiner....that beer from the very small Texas town, made at the Spoetzl Brewery. They will turn 100 yrs old in 1909. To celebrate that momentous achievement they have over the course of the last few years brewed some special beers. These beers are count up from Shiner 96, brewed a two years ago, to Shiner 97, and now the release of Shiner 98. Their first beer was a very pleasing marzen beer, the second was a very good Black Lager that I reviewed last year. As stated in the title this beer is a Bavarian Amber, a style similar if not the same as an Amber Lager.
The Beer: The beer pours a bright orange color with a thin, weak looking white head. The head started relatively week, and ended that way as well, quickly disappearing. The nose was of both pale and caramel malts, some slight toastiness, little to know floral scents. The mouth was smooth, effervescent, a bit of a caramel sweetness. A very mild beer, maybe too mild as there wasn't any pop. No vibrancy that I associate with a good lager. Just there, it sat in your mouth. After the first two special brews by Shiner, this was definitely a disappointment. A grade of C for this one only because there was nothing overly offensive about the brew. Here's what the folks at BA had to say.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Happy Birthday Saint Arnolds

This past weekend the folks over at Saint Arnold's celebrated their thirteenth anniversary. It was an absolutely great time, full of great BBQ from local Goode Company (love that jalapeno bread), and of course great beer. After an hour or so of sipping on their fine Elissa IPA, and Lawnmower, I heard rumblings that they had opened up something special. Sneaking towards the front of the brewery I saw a small silver keg that the guys behind the bar were pouring half pints. When I finally made my way to the bar, I eagerly passed my pint glass to the tender, asking what this special elixir was. His reply made me giddy, it was their special Imperial Stout (a heftier version of their Winter Stout) aged in oak whiskey barrels. I had heard that they had made this, but since its only served at the brewery during special occasions had missed opportunities to taste it. It was a pretty amazing beer, full of espresso, cocoa, chocolate covered raisins, thick mouthfeel, with hints of vanilla and oak. A great beer. After having partaken in the beer, I ask Brock (owner of Saint Arnold's) if he minded taking me and a buddy around back to check out the Saint Arnold's Rolls (see pic above). Although I don't believe Brock's story how how they did the paint job (scrunched it up and tied rubber bands around it) it was nice to see the car. I also was able to get a semi small scoop from Brock. The next Divine Reserve will be an Imperial Stout (hopefully of the same recipe used in the Whiskey aged version). All in all it was a great night. So here's to 13 more great years of Saint Arnold's Beers.

Nice stein Brock!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Dogfish Head: Immort Ale

Every couple of months Dogfish releases a special four pack of beers. Not surprisingly these are usually very special, very unique beers. Their Punkin Ale and Midas Touch are just two such examples. Others include Burton Baton, Aprihop, and Immort Ale. Talk about unique! The beer is brewed with peat smoked barley, juniper berries, vanilla and maple syrup. Its also aged in oak. The four pack has a really nice piece of artwork on it, that is replicated on the bottle label. (see the picture to the right, courtesy of the Dogfish Website). Check out the Dogfish website for more info on the beer.
The Beer: The beer weighs in at 11% and pours a dark brown with a thin taupe head into a snifter glass. The nose is of vanilla, maybe a bit of maple, some smokey earthy notes. The mouth is raisiny, oaky, earth, and something that I could only compare to chestnuts, and some espresso bitterness. A little too much alcohol warmth at the end for my tastes. Not a lot of hop bitterness for 40IBU's, it was disguised by the other complexity. That's the thing, its a very complex beer, maybe a bit too complex. I'd grade it a B-. Here's what the folks at BA had to say.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Session #5

Fresh off a very fun Session #4 focusing on local beers, comes the announcement of the next session. The monthly virtual beer tasting is being hosted by the guys over at Hop Talk. The theme this month? Another session that doesn't focus on a particular style, but focuses on Atmosphere. From their sight:

Beer is about more than flavor, IBUs, and the debate over what is a craft beer and what isn’t. It’s about Life. It’s the proverbial icing on the cake.

So, we want to know about the “Atmosphere” in which you enjoy beer. Where is your favorite place to have a beer? When? With whom? Most importantly:


Because while life isn’t all about beer, beer is all about life.

I think this is a great idea. I have said before that the place that you have your beer, and the people you are with, are sometimes more important to your beer drinking experience than the actual beer. So, the deadline this time around is Friday 6 July.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Session Round Up

Snekse over at Gastronomic Fight Club has posted the round up for the lastest session. It was a great idea this month, focusing on Local Brew's instead of a specific style of beer. As a supporter of all things local I was very happy to be able to give some pub to the great Saint Arnold's, and their great Cask ale. Go over and check out the Round up. Snekse did something pretty interesting in dividing up the posts into geographical areas. Next month's announcement will be made shPublish Postortly I'm sure, and I'm eager to participate.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Session: Local Brew

Its the first Friday of the Month, and you beer lovers know what that means...its Session Time. The time for a virtual tasting, where beer bloggers the world over gather around a common theme for a beer tasting. The host this month is Gastronomic Fight Club, the theme is Local Beer, within 150 miles. Well, from the moment of the announcement, there was no question I was going to go with Houston's own Saint Arnold's Brewery. The only question that remained was which beer to taste. I thought briefly about going with the current seasonal, their very tasty Summer Pislner, but I settled on going really local. Getting a local beer that I could only get from a local pub, not a store.
The Beer: The beer in question is Saint Arnold's Elissa Cask ale, served at my favorite beer joint, The Gingerman's (recently mentioned in the latest edition of DRAFT Magazine). I am a fan of St. Arnold's regular Elissa IPA so I was excited to try the cask version. It pours a nice light hazy amber topped with a creamy thick off-white head. Nose of grapefruit, citrus, herbaceous notes. The mouthfeel is thick, creamy with grapefruit, herb's, spices, and some slightly sweet malty notes to give it a bit of balance. The beer was thick leaving a beer-stache as I drank. It was smooth, served the appropriate temperature of just below room temp. Incredibly good beer, this is what I imagine good Cask Ale tasting like. The ending bitterness wasn't over the top, just subtly flowing over the tongue. A very good beer that I'd give a strong B+.
Now head over to Gastronomic Fight Club for the round up.