Saturday, October 27, 2007

Quick Hits: Newspaper Edition

In the past week or so there has been quite a few good articles on Beer and/or what goes into beer. The first two come from the New York Times and the last two come from a couple of Texas newspapers.
- Although he is primarily the chief wine critic for the New York Times, every once in a while Eric Asimov will write about beer, usually they are really good articles. This one is no different as he blogs about Cask Beer. Mostly from the perspective of where one can get Cask Ale in New York. A good article about one of my favorite styles of beer. I wish more Texas brewers would follow Saint Arnold's lead and produce at least one of their beers in Cask.
- The second article from the New York times concerns a place a little further away. The rise of Craft Beer in Japan. I had the opportunity to travel to Japan for work a few years back, unfortunately, and I'm really kicking myself, I didn't get to sample these beers. Most of my beer drinking was Asahi Dark, or Ebisu beers, while good, definetely not craft.
- The next two articles are both about the same thing. The shortage of hops and the affect it will have on beer and beer prices. The first from Barry Schlacter at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the second an AP piece in the Houston Chronicle, both give some good info on what we should all expect over the next few months. From rising beer prices, to changes in how some brewer's make their beer (maybe not as many extremely hoppy beers). Some report that we could see a 10% increase in our craft beer prices, which is a lot, but how much is to much to pay for a craft made beer? While this may all sound dire, there is still hope for beer drinkers. The first is that hopefully many brewers had contracts with their hop growers so they can keep prices reasonable. The second is the microbrewer's ingenuity. If there's one thing that we can all bank on is that these craftsmen (and women) will find out a way to continue to make good beer, whether that's using less hops but making more maltier beers, or using other spices to make uniquely flavored beers, this could be used as a time for experimentation.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Meantime London Porter

Its been quite nice down here in Houston of late. A little cool even, which has been wonderful. With the cooling weather I have been searching for a great 'cool weather' beer. While many breweries are already putting out their Winter/Holiday Beers, I can't get into Holiday Beers in October, so on my search went. One day while perusing the beer selection at my local Central Market I came across a big bottle capped with a cork title Meantime London Porter. I thought it looked rather promising so I picked it up.
The Brewery: Meantime Brewing is based in Greenwich London, the brewmaster is Alastair Hook. They started brewing in April of 2000, focusing on creating beers of full flavor, and trying as hard as possible to be as different from the big British Beer makers as possible. So far it looks like they have succeeded having won a Gold at the World Beer Cup and now exporting their beers to the US. Their pub is the Greenwich Union, having become Meantimes first tied house in 2001.
The Beer: According to their website 7 different malts have gone into this beer helping to recreate a recipe from 1750. The beer like many of Meantime's wares is bottle conditioned, it pours a nice rich dark brown with a thick cappuccino colored head. The nose is full of roasted malts, hints of burnt coffee. The mouth is wonderful, rich, thick, toasty, just what I want on a cool fall day. There are flavors of coffee, esspresso, toffee, sweet roasted malts. A very nice beer, one that I'd rate an A-. Here's what the folks over at BA had to say.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Next Session

Well unfortunately I wasn't able to participate in last month's Session of Food and Beer pairings. Never fear though as this months has been announced! This time around The Session is being hosted by the newly crowned Small Brewer of the Year at GABF, Tomme Arthur of Lost Abbey Brewing. The theme is Beer and Music, and here is what Tomme has in mind:

"For this session, I am looking towards my fellow bloggers to share a music and beer moment with. It could be that Pearl Jam show I attended 7 years ago where I was forced to drink 5 Coronas to stay warm. But more likely, it could be an album or song that you’re always listening to. I, for my part, will be writing two blogs. One will be about a particular memory and the other will be about musical stylings and my beers.

Mostly though, I would really like to see how others experience music and beer. I have so many ideas that to only work with two seems crazy. Music as an art form inspires me in so many ways. I think it infuses my writings and brewing and I can’t wait to share that with you. I hope you find this an agreeable Session…"

For me the key is the second paragraph. I know a couple of brewer's that listen to specific music while brewing beer, it helps them to focus their artistic energies (never forget brewing IS an art form). So how does music affect us the beer drinker? Thats what needs to be answered for this month's Session. Due date? Nov 2.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I'm Back

After two weeks away, I'm back in Houston. Between getting married and going on my honeymoon it was a great two weeks. I have a lot of catching up to do, both in the world of beer and at my work, so posts this week will probably be slim, but a couple of notes and observations from the last couple of weeks:
- Went to my honeymoon in Costa Rica, while the biggest beer their is the ubiquitous and quite boring Imperial Lager, there is some interesting choices. For me the best was Bavaria, both the Golden which was very nice on hot days, and their Black Lager, which was quite tasty. While I wasn't able to travel their, San Jose even has a small micro-brewery called K&S Brewery. They had some interesting beers so I'm sad I missed it.
- Great American Beer Festival is over, but some great news for a couple of Texas Breweries now that the winners are announced. Saint Arnold's won a GOLD for their Lawnmower beer in the Kolsch category, and Fredericksburg Brewery won a GOLD for their Pioneer Porter in the Brown Porter category. Great job to both!