Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Barleyvine on Holiday Hiatus

Its Christmas time for me so my updates to this blog will be scarce if at all. I'll be doing some traveling, so if I find some amazing beer experiene and have access to a computer I might just post my thoughts. If not, then Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy New Year.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Scaldis Noel

Continuing my study in Belgian Christmas beers, I found one that I had actually tried before, when I was in Belgian a few years ago. Of course there, its called Bush Noel, where as over in the states its called Scaldis. This is one powerful Christmas beer.
The beer: Powerful I said? Try 12.0% and while I tried it in Belgium on tap, this one came in a tiny 8.48 fl oz bottle. It pours a cloudy brown with a thick taupe colored head. The nose is figgy, malty, fruity, yeasty. The mouth is thick and chewy, low carbonation that sits and coats the tongue. As with a lot of Belgian beers, the yeast seems to be the strongest characteristic with bready and fruity notes. Some other notes include apricots, figs, dark fruits, vanilla, and candied sugar. Surprisingly you don't get a lot of alcohol here, its just malty rich and spicy. Very very nice. This one gets a strong A from me. Here's what the folks at BA say.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Belgian Christmas Beers

One of the great things about Christmas and beer is that every country seems to have a style for the season. They are all different, unique and wonderful in their own way. I've been lucky to try some amazing US, British and German versions. Now I'm diving into some Belgian Christmas beers.
St. Bernardus Christmas Ale: This one is from the popular St. Bernadus brewery that makes some fine Belgian ales. This one weighs in at 10% and pours a dark amber with a thick white head. The nose is malty, musty, figgy. The mouth is chewy and rich, with a little alcohol burn to warm up the soul on a cold night. There are flavors of fig, prunes, raisins and other dark fruits. Slightly sweet after taste, slight sour undertones. Dried fruits coming through as the beer warms adding richness and almost cola type flavors start coming out. This one's very nice and gets an A- from me. The folks at BA seem to like it as much as I do.
Delirium Noel: This one from the great Brouwerij Huygh, makes of Delerium Tremmens. This one also weighs in at 10%, but pours a cloudy brown with a thin film of a head. Nose is rich, malty, fruity, and yeasty. The mouth is powerful, thick and chewy with a light sourness. Fruity and malty, with notes of figs, dark grapes, apricots. Smooth with a little alcohol burn. Slightly more sweet than the St. Bernardus, carmaley and effervescent like pop-rocks. This one gets a B+ from only becuase its a little too sweet for me. Again, it seems like I'm on the same wavelength with the folks at BA.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Back from a Hiatus

A week away and its good to be back. A little business trip with some vacation time up in Montreal has kept me from talking about beer. It looks like some interesting tidbits of news has popped up. so with our further ado a catch up addition on some Beer related news.
- First a round up from the most recent session hosted by 21st Amendment brewing.
- Of course you know what follows a roundup, the announcement for the next Session. Beer and Firkins is hosting this months event. The theme will be a 'New Year's' Theme. What does that mean? Well from the words of the host himself:
what will you miss about 2008 (feel free to list your tasting notes, if that item is a particular beer) and what do you expect will excite you most in 2009 , in the "Beer World"?(again, if that is a beer, what about it is special and worthy of being excited about?)
Sounds interesting, but I continue to lament the fact that the session has strayed so far from discussing specific beer styles.
- Speaking of my lament above, Jay over at Brookston feels a similar way, and as only he can do puts words to paper (or computer screen) in an incredibly well written open letter to The Session.
- I'll finish my round up with some local beer news. Southern Star has announced their next two regular beer offerings, both to be canned: The first is the earlier mentioned Buried Hatchet Stout, the latter is a beer they called Bombshell Blonde a blonde ale. Sounds like two amazing ales, both to packaged in can's. One can hardly wait!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Full Sail Wassail

Well I up and forgot that the Session was yesterday. Too busy celebrating the 75th anniversary of the end of prohibition I guess. I think one of the great things about American Beer is the diverseness in our holiday beer's. There are everything from holiday stouts, to IPA's, to rich traditional winter warmers, and of course everything in between. That very reason may be why this season is my favorite for seasonal offerings. It seems breweries go all out for this season, pulling no punches. While I always go back to my familiar favorites, I also am constantly on the lookout for those that I've never tried before. Like this one from Full Sail. Their seasonal offering is actually named after a hot spiced Christmas punch served back in medieval times. This drink was not punch that we normally think of, but instead mulled beer, that would mix rich beer with spices such as ginger, nutmeg, and Cinnamon.
The Beer: This one weighs in at a warming 7.0% and pours a deep rich mahogany capped by a quarter inch tan frothy head. The nose is rich and malty sweet, caramel, orange. The mouth is creamy and chewy, very malty with a low hop profile. Coffee, toffee, licorice, Cinnamon, and just a bit of pineyness. Sprucy even. Very nice winter warmer of a beer. This one gets a B+ from me and has quickly been added to my seasonal rotation. Here's what the folks at BA think about it.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Happy 75th!

What you ask? 75th what? Well today marks the 75th anniversary of the repeal of prohibition as enacted by the 21st Amendment. Prohibition was one of the biggest social experiment failures of the past century. Not only did it not lead to people not drinking, the increase in crime was tremendous. Luckily the 21st Amendment was passed and now we can all raise a glass of beer today to celebrate. Whether an American craft brew, or an amazing import, neither of which you would be able to get without the 21st, raise your glass and celebrate today.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Quick Hits

A Tuesday evening edition of Quick Hits coming your way.
- As most folks know I'm a huge fan of good beer and good food. I also like seeing craft beer show up in TV shows as it shows good beer going mainstream. We're always used to just seeing BMC products on TV its nice to see something else for a change. Well these two things have merged in the current season of Top Chef on Bravo. For those familiar with the show, at the end of the show while the contestants go in front of the judges table, other's are shown in the back drinking beer. In the past its usually been Michelob products, however this season its being filmed in New York, the chefs are drinking Brooklyn Brewery Beer. That's some amazing product placement those folks have gotten. I think I've seen their Summer Ale and Lager shown the most. I'm really glad the Top Chef folks have moved from Michelob to something much better like Brooklyn's line up. Chef's love good food and good wine we all know that, but I also know that they love good beer and its about time that is shown on TV.
- My second and last note is a reminder that this Friday marks the 75th anniversary of the passing of the 21st Amendment that repealed prohibition. Friday also marks the date of next session, which is hosted by the folks at 21st Amendment brewing. The theme is "What does the repeal of Prohibition mean to you and how will you celebrate?"

Monday, December 01, 2008

Sam Adams Chocolate Bock

The first time I ever had this beer was on draft in a bar in Denver. My wife and I loved it, but couldn't find it in Houston. Then one day while we were in Central Market there it was sitting there waiting to be taken home, and that's just what we did. Alas, that was two years ago and no Chocolate bock since. Well that's now changed. Sam Adams has released the Bock and my local Spec's has it! I of course immediately grabbed it up and took it home to surprise my wife who loves this beer. The formula is the following, take a basic German bock beer and age it on a bed of rare dark cocoa nibs from Felchlin®. Sounds tasty. This beer comes in a big 750 ml bottle with just a silver plate on the front letting you know its Sam Adams Chocolate Bock. Yep its a fancy bottle.
The Beer: This beer does knock your expectations. I think many would see this bottle and expect a high alcohol content, but this one weighs in at only 5.5%. It pours a very dark brown with a caramel colored head. Chocolate coco and roasted malts on the nose. The mouth is thick and rich, it tastes like cold 'hot chocolate'. You can taste the bock backbone of the beer underneath its chocolatey front. Its dark chocolate in a glass. Smooth a little bitter, but not cloyingly sweet. Well balanced beer and as expected this is an amazing desert beer. This one gets a B+ from me. Here's what the folks at BA had to say.
I wanted to give a little more info on this beer as I would love to give this beer a little higher grade but there are reasons why I didn't. While I think its great that Sam Adams has made an extremely complex tasty desert beer while keeping the alcohol levels low, I think the price for the fancy packaging is a little high (13.99). There are a lot of better beers out there for that price level.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Texas Brewery Quick Hits

Just a few quick notes from Texas Breweries.
- Conroe's Southern Star talks about a new beer they'll be releasing soon, Buried Hatchet Stout. An imperial stout that should weigh in at a robust 9% abv. Can't wait as I love this style.
- In somewhat old news, Austin's (512) has released their newest beer a Pecan Porter. I gotta say I'm sad I cant' try this beer as its a style I think more Texas brewries should be making. Texas has some of the best pecan's around and as other areas of the country are known for their blueberry beers, we could be known for our pecan beers.
- Rahr and Son's announced in early November that they's be distributing more of their beers to Austin, San Antonio, and Houston. hopefully that means I'll get some of their Bourbon Barrel Aged WinterWarmer.
- Lastly, San Antonio's Freetail Brewing is up and open for business. They've got good food and seemingly solid list of brews. One more reason to head over there.

Sierra Nevada Celebration - 2008

Hmm yup its post Thanksgiving which means that its high time to dive into more Christmas Seasonal Beers. When I first had this beer last year, I said it was good, but not what I was expecting. If you remember, I wanted a malty rich winter beer, and what I got while very good was an unexpected IPA. Well the good news is this year, not only did I try it knowing what I was going to get, I wanted it!
The Beer: This one weighs in at 6.8% and pours a hazy orange color with a thick white foamy frothy head. I can smell the hops from a foot away from the glass...and it smells delicious. There are notes of hops of course, grapefruit specifically. The mouthfeel is vibrant with an explosion of Texas Ruby Red grapefruit, with slight notes of toasted pale malts underneath. This IPA is chewy and thick, leaving the soul warmed, which makes this a perfect winter Christmas beer. The only sign left after I'm finished is a coating of thick lacing along the sides of the glass. Yup this is a good one. A B+ from me.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Anchor Our Special Ale

To beer lovers around the country, Christmas Season is here. It's here because Anchor has released its Christmas Ale 'Our Special Ale'. Anchor may have been one of the craft brewers to release a Christmas Ale, and has been doing so since 1975. Every year the ingredients change slightly as does the label for the beer. Each year the label contains a graphic of a different tree. It may not be the greatest Christmas Ale, but its always worth stopping down for and celebrating the season. To celebrate it's release this season I decided to not only try this seasons ale, but last seasons as well. I've been aging it since last year and figured there can't be a better time than now to open it up.
2007 Our Special Ale: Here's the link to my original post on this beer last year. Pours a rich hazy brown with a half inch taupe colored head. The nose is spicy with spruce tips, licorice and some malts. The mouth has good effervescent up front with a chewy finish. Spicy with some malty sweetness, with a bit if spruce tip taste to it. It seemed like this beer had lost a little bit of depth over time. As it warmed some more complex flavors came out like caramel, chocolate, roasted malts to round out the spruciness. Not as much as I had hoped a year later. Not sure if something happened during the aging process or not. This gets a B- from me.
2008 Our Special Ale: This one pours a little darker than the older one, almost black instead of brown. Good half inch taupe colored head. The nose is apricots, spruce tips, brown sugar. The mouth is chewy, dried apricots, caramel, licorice, sweet malts. As it warms I get notes of figs and even more roasted malts. It has some really good lacing. The 07 has the same base of flavors as this 08 but it's lost some depth of flavor. This one is very nice. This one gets a B+ from me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Quick Shiner Note

I saw this article and just had to write a quick note about it. For the past few years Shiner has been releasing a special brew leading up to their 100th birthday. They've had a Black Lager (that was so good they made it a regular beer), an Amber Lager, a helles, and a Marzen Style lager. This has all led to a lot of speculation of what would the special 100th anniversary beer be? Well the Austin Statesmen has answered that question, it will be a Dopplebock called Commemorator. Release date is to be in January, which is good that its so close as I'm extremely excited to try this beer. Since Shiner's flagship is a bock of sorts I had high hopes that they would go this route and put out a dopplebock. Go checkout the link above and read the article as its a well written one.

New Yorker Beer Article

You know craft beer is getting bigger, when a magazine like the New Yorker has an 11 page article on craft beer. This is an extremely interested article, not only for what it says but for how people have interpreted it (more on that in a bit). The basis of the article is on Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head fame. Now I have made no secret of my love of his beers as I think he's a mad genius so I was happy to see the love he got in this article. Besides going into a lot of detail into two of Sam's latest beers, the already tasted here Palo Santo Marron, and the I can't wait to taste Sahtea it covers some history on extreme beers. From the early days of American Beer we've had beers that some folks would call extreme, however as of late we've taken that to another level. From Dogfish's beers, to Sam Adams Utopia we yearn for bigger and bigger flavors (this is no different than in the wine industry with bigger and bigger Cabs). While I agree with what the article says and for the most part think that its very well written there is one thing that struck a nerve (along with other folks) and that was how it portrayed the great Garret Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery. Again I've made no secret of my admiration of Mr. Oliver as I think he's a fine brewer, but more importantly an advocate for not only great beer, but great beer and food pairings. The article, fairly or unfairly portrays Mr. Oliver as someone who not only doesn't like "extreme" beers, but thinks they are bad for the industry. Now I don't think that's true at all, and sure enough it isn't. This article has created quite the fervor on the Beer Advocate Forums with Mr. Oliver, Mr. Calagione, and the author of the article, clarifying what was said, what was meant, and the context of the quotes. Like I said I thought this article was well written, but at the same time you have to have your doubts if it takes as much as it has to clarify all the issues inside. The lesson here of course is don't believe everything you read. As always make up your own mind and go check out the article, and then go checkout the BA forum (Sam even name drops Houston's own Brock Wagner).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Two Big Beers on Fight Night

This past Saturday was Fight Night, so I figured it was a good time to drink a couple of big beers that I've been holding on to for a few weeks.
Stone Ruination: Ahh yes a big ole hoppy one from Stone. The first time I ever had this was on cask at the brewery, but I've been a big fan of this one for some time. This one packs a wallop at 95 IBU's and 7.7% abv. It pours a clear orange color with tons of tiny bubbles and capped by a white head. The nose is grapefruit rind, citrus, citrus and more citrus, with hints of toasted pale malts. The mouth is unsurprisingly a hop bomb, but there is some malty backbone that helps give it balance. Its bitter, grapefruit, its crisp and clean though. Very drinkable for being so hoppy. A good solid DIPA that gets a B+ from me. Here's what the folks at BA think about this one.
Rogue Double Dead Guy: This is a more potent version of Rogue's flagship beer Dead Guy ale which is a maibock. This more potent one weighs in at 75 IBU's and 9% alcohol. The beer pours an amber orange with a quarter inch white head. The nose is sweet malts, caramel, toffee, and a little bit of hoppy earthiness. Not like the other one at all. The mouthfeel is thick and creamy, very tasty, full of toffee and caramel notes. Rich and malty if a little sweet for me. A good soul warming beer as there is definitely some alcohol warmth to this one. There is some yeasty notes that with the sweetness of the beer reminds of a croissant. You don't get a lot of hops here, even with the IBU's, there's just a lot of malt hiding it. A good beer, but like I said a bit sweet. This one gets a B- from me. The folks at BA seem to like it just a bit more than me.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Brooklyn Brown Ale

After a series of bigger beers, its time to slow it down a little and have a taste of good ole session beer. Now this ones from a new brewery, well new to Texas at least. Brooklyn Brewery joins the ranks of Pike's, Oskar Blues, Summit, Deschuttes, etc that have penetrated the border (and the ridiculous TABC laws) and made their way to Texas. Brooklyn Brewery's head brewer is the great Garret Oliver, the man who helped take my enjoyment of craft beer and turned it into a passion of craft beer and food, with his book Brewmasters Table. So I'm pretty happy that they've made it down this way, as I've always wanted to try his beers. This will be my first beers of his to try outside of GABF, and I chose their Brown ale, mainly for my wife who is a huge fan of the style.
The Beer: This one weighs in at 5.6% and pours a clean brown, no cloudyness, or hazyness here. Capped by a good half inch head, that left plenty of lacing down the side of the glass. The nose is solid roasted malts, chocolate, and mild coffee flavors. The mouthfeel is effervescent, a little syrupy, and very malty. It has rich caramel and burnt coffee bean flavors. Much richer than I expected, along with mild earthy hoppy flavors. Good solid brown ale. This one gets a solid B from me. Can't wait to
Publish Post
try more of their beers especially more of the special ones. Here's what BA has to say.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Quick Hits: Wednesday Edition

Just a few quick notes on this post Veteran's Day Wednesday.
- An update to my post on Bobby Heugel's new bar Anvil. Knowing that the original opening date was mid-November I spoke with Bobby to get a status on his new endeavor. First off, he's left Beaver's for good, no turning back now. As for Anvil? Well they too have suffered at the hand's of Hurricane Ike. He doesn't have an exact new opening date, but expects it to be sometime around the end of this year, or the beginning of next. I'll be tracking its progress as I think this will be a really exciting place for not only the cocktail lover, but the beer lover as well.
- Houston Press's Robb Walsh follows up on his Texas Wants Beer article, with a short piece on quality beer findings at Texan's Tailgating.
- Finally, the 22nd edition of the Session has been announced. The host this month is 21st Amendment Brewing company. The due date is December 5th and it is also a day of celebration. It celebrates the 75th anniversary of the end of prohibition, which was of course marked by the passing of the 21st amendment. Funny how that all works out. Well if you've been following along you'll probably guess what the theme this month will be. From 21st Amendment's post:
What does the repeal of Prohibition mean to you? How will you celebrate your right to drink beer?
I was hoping that The Session would go back to more beer style theme's, but it seems this is not the case at least for another month. I'm also not sure what the affect choosing a theme that is so US centric on an event that has participants from around the world will be. I will of course participate, because I think its good to have an appreciation for what the 21st Amendment has done for us lover's of craft beer. So come back on Dec 5, and see how it all unfolds.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Oskar Blues Ten Fidy

First off, let me start this post by wishing everyone a Happy Veteran's day, and a Thank You to any vet's reading my blog.
Anyone that's read much of my blog knows that I've been a huge fan of Oskar Blues regular offerings and love the fact they can their beer. I'm also a big fan of stouts, and imperial stouts in particular. So combining my enjoyment of Oskar Blues, and my love of Imperial Stouts, I find their offering Ten Fidy!
The Beer: It weighs in at a hearty 9.5% and pours a pitch black with a thick darkly tan head capping it off. The nose is coco nibs, roasted espresso beans, and spices. The mouth is syrupy, thick and chewy, it coats the tongue. There's bitter roasted espresso beans, and dark chocolate with some figs. Smooth with just a bit of alcohol. There's a lot of different flavors here, but nothing that stands out. Don't get me wrong I enjoy the beer, but down here in Houston there's been a lot of hype on this one, and I'm not sure its all warranted. I'd take the SA Divine 5 and North Coast Rasputin over this one. A fine example still, just a little overrated in my opinion. It gets a B. Here's what the folks at BA think.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Session #21 Roundup

Its Monday morning, and the roundup of the latest session is on online. Pretty good participation, but many felt like I did, that its not as easy as it sounds to pick a favorite beer. Go check it out, because there were still a lot of great beers tasted. The Session #22 announcement to come soon.

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Session #21: My Favorite Beer

Its the first Friday of the month which means its Session Time. For the unitiated here's a link to what the session is. The theme for this month's session is "what's your favorite beer and why", the host is A World of Brews. There are many fellow beer bloggers that weren't thrilled about this month's theme because it's so hard to narrow down one single beer as your favorite. Initially I thought this was absurd, because surely everyone has a favorite 'go-to beer.' Alas, they were right. While I may have a go-to beer that I love (Saint Arnold's Lawnmower) I wouldn't call it my favorite all time beer. While I love barley wines, there probably isn't a single one that I've had that I'd call my favorite beer. So what to do you ask? Of all the beers from all the breweries I've stated I can say that I do have a favorite brewery. A place where they make amazingly different beers. From simple subtle pleasures to ones that are made to literally knock you out. While none of the beers may be classified as my all time favorite beers, there are many that are in my top 10. The brewery is Dogfish Head. From my first sip of Midas Touch, I was hooked to them. To make something that was so completely different from any beer that I had ever had, really opened my eyes to what beer could be. Almost every beer that I've had has continued to challenge that concept. Just when you think all they do is hoppy extreme beers (90 and 120) they make a wit style beer mixed with Pinot Noir and aged partially in Pinot barrels. Beer mixed with wine? How does that work? I don't know but it did. These are just a few of the reasons why Dogfish is my favorite brewery and anytime I see a beer of theirs I haven't tried I always pick it up. Even if that beer isn't my favorite it always challenges my senses. Recently I was walking through a liquor store and found a new beer from Dogfish that I hadn't had but had eagerly been looking for, the Palo Santo Marron. As with most Dogfish Beers, this is not just some regular beer. Sure its called a brown ale, but come one, you just know there's more to it than that. This brown ale is aged in Paraguayan Palo Santo wood tanks. Palo Santo means 'holy wood' and this wood adds some flavor characteristics different from any other brown ale out there.
The Beer: This brown ale weighs in at 12% so yeah you know this one's going to be different. It pours a deep dark brown, that's thick like molasses syrup. Its capped by a thin cafe colored head. The nose is vanilla, caramel, molasses, roasty malts. The mouthfeel is chewy, and thick, coating your tongue. There's extreme woodiness here, layers and layers of wood, with notes of caramel, honey, sweet chocolate, coffee, and spice. Its rich and complex, a beer I'd love to have with snow on the ground outside huddling around a fireplace. inside. This is an amazing amazing beer. It gets an A from me. Here's what the folks at BA think.

The folks at A world of Beers should have a round up posted shortly.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Southern Star Rauchbier

My Eat (drink) local challenge may be over, but it doesn't mean I'll stop drinking local beers. Last night was no different. Wednesdays at the Flying Saucer is pint glass night, and this week's free glass was from Conroe's own Southern Star Brewery. I figured this would be a good time to head down and try the new beer from our new brewery. Now this is not any new beer, this one is a unique one that few make (although I have had another Texas version), called Rauchbier, German for smoked beer. I really enjoyed this style and ever since the initial announcement I've been eagerly waiting to try it.
The Beer: The beer weighs in at 6.5% abv and pours a golden straw color with a thick foamy white head. I was surprised by the color as most of the smoked beers I've had are darker. With the first whiff my mind immediately went to a thick pork shoulder, charred after having spent the day in smoker. The nose was amazing. The mouth was BACON! Well bacon up front, with a creamy mouthfeel that causes the bacon-y flavor to smother your taste buds. At the finish there are some mild notes of pale toasty malts that add a little sweetness at the end. Overall this is a great example of a rauchbier. Now if Southern Star could get this thing canned and make it a year round beer, it would find a permanent place on my menus with smoked or grilled meats. This one gets a B+ from me.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Lost Abbey: Ten Commandments

Speaking of picking up beers at breweries I visit. I got this one during my Hurricane Evacuation to San Diego. This one is a more powerful version of their Lost and Found Abbey ale with an alcohol content to match. I've heard so many amazing things about this beer I can't believe I hadn't opened it before now. A few days ago, my wife and I had a couple of good friends over and I decided to open this one up for everyone to enjoy. I asked my friend who loves photography, to take some photos and some of them are what you see in this post.
The Beer: As with all of Lost Abbey beers, this one comes in a big 750 ml, with a champagne style cork and cage enclosure. It weighs in at 9.0% and pours a cloudy hazy brown, with a little cafe colored head. The nose has chocolate and espresso, maple-y woody notes. The mouthfeel is thick and chewy with notes of raisins, and figs. There is little to know carbonation here, instead is sits still in your mouth and coats your tongue. As one of our friends said the flavor builds and builds, spreading across the tongue before coming down into a long finish of spice and molasses. There are hints of sourness here that my wife compared to a chocolate covered sour cherries with some dark raisins thrown in for good measure. With all the flavor going on the beer does a great job of hiding the alcohol content. This is a great beer with a lot going on. it gets a strong A from me. Here's what the folks at BA had to say.

Quick Hits

Just a few notes on this Monday Evening.
- The beginning of November marks the end of my eat local challenge. Or in my case, drink local. How'd I do? Well I made it the month with drinking local, where ever I was I tried to drink local. I also learned that I need to do a better job of picking up beers from breweries that I visit and bringing those back home. Its a good opportunity for me to taste new beers, and its also a great way to savor the memories of a wonderful trip.

- Don't forget this Friday is The Session. The theme this month is to answer the question: "Whats your favorite beer and why?" Stay tuned, still trying to figure out what I'm going to do for this one.

- Saint Arnold's has announced that they are participating in a neat charity event on November 15th. From their newsletter:
VOLUNTEER DAY AT SALVATION ARMY TO MAKE GIFT BAGS Saint Arnold is joining members of the Chevron XYZ Club (this group has volunteered at many Saint Arnold events) to help the Salvation Army by sorting toys by age and gender, creating age and gender appropriate gift bags, placing age and gender labels on gift bags, decorating collection containers, etc.
When: Saturday, November 15, 10:00am - 2:00pm
Where: 10701 Jones Road, Houston, TX 77065
They'll even be serving their tasty root beer.

- Lastly tomorrow is election day, so please exercise your right and get out there and vote. If you don't than you can't complain!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Two Saint Arnold's Seasonals

In a great example of supply and demand and how that can change even the best laid plans, Saint Arnold's has run out of one of their seasonals and had to release another one early. Even though the folks at SA brewed more of their Octoberfest than they ever have, they still ran out halfway through the month of October. This led to SA going ahead and releasing their Christmas Ale. With their shuffling I was able to buy a 6 pack of both and decided to do a tasting.
Octoberfest: This is actually one of my favorite Octoberfests, and one of the only ones made in Texas (the other is from Rahr and Sons). I've had this many times in the past and its pretty consistent across years. This one pours a slightly cloudy orange amber with a thick off-white head. The nose is sweet caramel, malts, burnt sugar, and some bitterness. The mouth is effervescent with a great body, sweet but not cloying. Some notes of caramel, butterscotch, a little bitter kick at the finish. Overall a nice silky honey like texture, creating a very smooth very solid beer that gets a B from me.
Christmas Ale: Its actually been a couple of years since I last posted on this fine beer (well during Christmas that is). The beer pours a reddish copper brown with a thin head that dissipates into a film on top. The nose is malty (as it should be, its made with five different malts). Roasted malts, caramel, brown sugar and a cinnamon-y scent. The mouth is smooth up front before bringing a spicy character. Its malty, bready, brown sugar, and spices. It reminds me of a Christmas cookies. Extremely tasty. This one gets a B+ from me.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

2 Very Quick, Very late hits

I know I'm late in posting on both of these things, but I figure better late than never and maybe just maybe some of this may be news to you.
- First news from the Houston Press regarding a new Rice University Biology Study. Rice Biologists are working on a BioBeer to create a "A brew which has modified yeast that creates resveratrol – the cancer-preventing ingredient in red wine that has also been linked to lowering risks of heart disease in lab animals."

- Secondly its Battle Beer time!!! On a recent episode of Food Networks Iron Chef the secret ingredient was Beer. The chef's had 60 minutes to create at least 5 dishes using the secret ingredient. I think its awesome that Beer and food is getting this main stream, however there were good things and very bad things about this episode. First the good: One of the judges was the great Garret Oliver. There was a really nice beer selection: Brooklyn Brewery's Black Chocolate Stout, Bire De Miel (a mead), Ivanhoe IPA, Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier, and last but not least Shiner Hefeweizen. Lastly the food made from the beer ranged a pretty broad gamut from traditional Brats, to more complex deserts and cakes. The bad of course was the knowledge of beer by the hosts and the other two judges. Kevin Brauch who has hosted booze related shows in the past said that the Shiner was brewed in Austin! Also the host Alton Brown seemed to know nothing about beer. In other shows he seems extremely well researched and while that may be production and an artifact of the show, why not show the same respect towards Beer that they have shown towards other ingredients? Lastly the other judges seemed to distain the taste of beer, and not really understanding nor appreciating its complex flavors. Having said all that, even with the negatives it was extremely nice to see a show like this focusing on beer and food.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Book Review: Red, White, and Brew

I'm always on the look for a new book on beer. Sometimes this can be difficult at the local book store. It seems you can always find a new book on wine (the aisles are FILLED with 'em) but good beer books can be few and far between. So when Brian Yaeger recently commented to a post of mine, and I found out he had a book coming out, I got excited. Luckily I wasn't disappointed. I finished this book during my trip to GABF (unfortunately I didn't get a chance to catch up with Brian). To start this is as much a book about cross country traveling as it is about beer. Much like the lauded Travels with Barley, this is not a book to read if you are just looking for a book on beer tastings, food matching, or any of the sort. Instead its a deeper look into the breweries, and brewers behind the beer. Brian doesn't stick to just the hard to find craft breweries, although they are there (Bell's, Goose Island, Grand Teton, etc) but he also hits some of the bigger craft breweries as well (New Belgium, Spoetzl, Widmer, D.G. Yuengling, etc). The book revolves around him traveling the country, moving from brewery to brewery and listening to the stories of the founders and workers. Brian's travels start at the Yuengling Brewery, heading west to breweries in the midwest, through Colorado, along the west coast, around through Texas and a visit to local Shiner, before heading back east and finishing up at Brooklyn Brewery. All in all a fascinating trip. The one part that interested me is the stop in Texas where he gets a tour around Shiner, Texas (sure it didn't take long, but its a great little town) and the brewery. Some really fascinating history here, providing me with a little information that I didn't know.
Brian's writing style brings out the good and the bad. The good is that its so conversational, and comfortable that you feel as if you're in the car driving cross country with him. The bad is that at times when writing about the local pub scene he can come across a little frat boyish (she didn't know much about beer, but good thing she was cute, that kind of thing). It's a minor knock on my part I know, and it doesn't keep this book from being thoroughly enjoyable, and making me incredible envious of Brian and his trip. Maybe I can join him on his next one........
Overall this book is such an excellent study in what drives brewers, from the bigger craft beer makes to your local brew pub. Its a strong social study of why they do what they do. There are some that don't even drink beer, but yet are driven to continue a brewery if for no other reason than to support the local neighborhood. Needless to say I enjoyed the book, and hope that Brian continues the work, and produces more writings.
In Summary: Highly Recommended.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Houston Press Cover Article - Texas Beer

This week's cover of the Houston Alternative newspaper is all about Texas Beer. Written by the great Robb Walsh, this is a really great article and I encourage everyone who has an interest in Texas Beer to read it, whether you pick up a paper copy, or read it on-line. Just a few items that I want to point out. The article gives a good history on Texas Beer, how it got its start with German Settlers, and how the three-tier system works in the state. One of the big issues that Mr. Walsh discusses is the stranglehold the distributors have on the Texas Legislatures (try 1.38 million in political contributions, across party lines, so all are to blame for this one). How it makes zero sense that wineries can sell their wares in on site gift shops, while beer (lower in alcohol, so that can't be the reason) are unable to do the same. You may remember a few years ago when Saint Arnold's Brock Wagner tried to take on this stupid antiquated law and failed. Oh he had plenty of folks tell him they supported him, but when it came time to walk the walk the cowardly Texas Legislature wouldn't even put the bill up for discussion. As pointed out in the article do Texas Legislatures not realize that not only will it not impact Beer Distributors but it will bring in MONEY to the state, by not only promoting Texas Breweries (hopefully allowing more to be created) but also promote other Texas Artisan Foods and Texas Restaurants. I guess these laws are what you get when most of the TABC code was written by failed Texas Prohibitionists. As you can see this article got me fired up this morning. Brock has stated that he is going to try again next year to get a fair bill passed to allow small breweries to sell their beer on site. I urge everyone to contribute whatever you can to this cause, whether it be money or letters to your local state Representatives asking them to support your neighborhood business.
Lastly, a couple of other side bars that Robb discussed: His top 5 Texas Beers (year round and seasonal). I can't say I disagree with too much, although I would have liked to see Sisyphus on there, and I'm just not a huge fan of Ugly Pug.
For more information on the Legislative struggle that Brock faced check this link out.

Houston Cellar Classic and Saint Arnold's

Fresh off of the Great American Beer Festival, we enter the week of the Houston Cellar Classic, put on by The Tasting Room. This is a unique week in Houston filled with wine tasting, wine and food pairings, dinners, etc. It also includes a special day for beer, specifically Houston's own Saint Arnold's. That day was yesterday. When it was announced that the HCC would be having a special Saint Arnold's Beer tasting, I can't tell you how excited I was. Remember this was the same group of folks that put together the awesome Saint Arnold's and Texas Cheese pairing afternoon last year. So what was I expecting? This being held at the TTR Midtown location, known locally for its "Grilling and Chilling" Wednesdays, I was expecting small bites grilled of course, and paired with individual Saint Arnold's beers. What did I get? Some small grilled bites (great Buffalo Slides, ribs, and frites from Max's Wine Dive), and Saint Arnold's beer (the regular line up along with their Octoberfest), but no pairing. It was just a grab your food and grab a beer, any beer will do set up. No pairing, no showing how well each specific beer can go well with different types of food.
Would HCC do this and call it a Wine Tasting? No, they would have specific foods matched with each wine, so why not the same respect shown for good beer? You have such a wide range of beers here, from the light crispness of Lawnmower to go perfectly with grilled seafood, to the richness of the Octoberfest, perfect for some grilled brats, or even the grilled ribs they served. To call my extremely disappointed in yesterday's evenings festivities is an understatement as I really think HCC, TTR, and yes even Saint Arnold's missed the boat on this one.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

GABF 2008 Roundup

Before I get into the meat of this post, I have to say that I am a lucky lucky man. For my first wedding anniversary, what did my wife do? She flew us to Denver, and got me tickets to Saturday's GABF session! How awesome is that? An amazing woman if I do say so myself.
Yes I got to go to GABF, my second time to go, and it was a blast! I got to taste a lot of beers that we don't get down here in Houston and even visited the booths of Real Ale, Southern Star, and Saint Arnold's. As I mentioned a couple of days ago, Texas had a couple of winners too. Below is a list of some of the breweries I visited, some of the beers I tasted and a few of them have some notes as well. The notes are my quick impressions since the 1 oz pour we get is not nearly enough to make a strong judgement on a beer (plus your palate gets saturated with all those different beers).

Firestone Walker - Tried their amazing double barrel ale.

Shmaltz Brewing - Had their RIPA which was sweet malts and very hoppy, very good.
- Jewbilation 12 Anniversary ale. This was pretty cool beer as it had 12 hop varieties, 12 Malts and 12 percent alcohol to celebrate Shmaltz's 12th anniversary. This was a dark rich creamy ale. My wife noted that this would be awesome with some vanilla ice cream.

Portsmouth Brewing - Had their Kolsch (not impressed), and oatmeal stout.

Six Point Brewing - Double Belgian IPA was hoppy and malty, very well balanced, very good brew from this New York brewery.

Pelican Pub and Brewery
- Doryman's Dark.

Walking Man Brewing
- I had their Awesome Stumblefoot Barley wine. The name's appropriate, too many of these and you would be stumbling.

Weyerbacher Brewing - Imperial Pumpkin Ale. This was one of the best pumpkin beer's I've had and hides its 8% abv very well. The other beer I got to have was their rich, complex 13th anniversary ale. Very tasty although the alcohol level was definitely apparent.

Troegs - I was really excited to try this brewery as I've heard so much about their dopplebock. Everything I've heard was well founded. this thing way rich and smooth, really hid the 8.2% abv. This was a beer I could drink all night. Also tried their Scratch 14 Saison which was very good as well.

Carter's Brewing - Tried their Saison and De Railed IPA. Neither of which impressed me.

New Belgium - Yeah I know we get most of their brews, but what we don't get is their Eric's Ale which was probably one of the best sour beers I've ever had.

Dillon Dam Brewery
- Some really good beers, that I forgot to write down!

Fort Collins Brewery - I've had a few of their beers before but this was the first time to try their Doplebock Rauchbier. In one word: amazing. In a few more, this had all the chewy sweetness of a dopplebock with a back bone of smokiness.

Grand Teton Brewing - I had their XX Bitch Creek which was thick, and syrupy, and hoppy. I couldn't have a bunch of these but the little that I did have was really good, complex. A great sipping in front of the fire beer.

Barley Brothers - Double Espresso Stout. This was one of my favorite beers I had at the festival. Incredibly rich and complex, it was like drinking an espresso shot so rich and creamy.

Lakefront Brewery - I tried their very rich and smooth Octoberfest.

Jolly Pumpkin
- Hmm sour ales. I had the La Roja which was sour and tart, extremely well done from the brewery that's an expert on the style. Also had their Oro de Calabaza.

Goose Island - Very solid Saison, and the Matilda which is their version of a Belgian Strong ale. An interesting beer as it was also extremely malty.

Flossmoor Station
- I had a beer called the CollabEvil which was a collaborative beer and weighed in at 10% abv.

- Again I know that we get a lot of their beers here, but for whatever reason I haven't seen any of their special Smokestack series down in Houston so that's what I went too. They had two version of their Saison. One made traditionally, the other infected with Brett. This was a really interested study to do the side by side's to see the impact that Brett has to a beer. Also tried the double wide IPA, which while fairly standard IPA was very tasty.

Russian River - At this point in my tasting, my palate is starting to go, and my pen is finding the paper a little less often. I did get to try Supplication.

- I was hoping to try their Dissident, but by the time we got to their booth they were out so I settled for their very good Anniversary Ale.

Moylan's - They were out of their Triple IPA unfortunately, so I tried their Double IPA. What I wrote in my tasting book was basically HOLY ^*#$ Hop Bomb. I think that about sums it up.

Dogfish Head - This is where we finished it up. Tried the Theobrama which I thought suprisingly tasted a lot like Midas Touch, with a bit of spice, and the Palo Santo which was sweet and rich.

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the festival. Afterwards we headed to the Falling Rock taphouse for even more beer. Saw quite a few folks their, including the Alstrom Brothers of Beer Advocate, and Jay Brooks of the Brookston Bulletin (actually introduced myself to him, nice guy). A few quick observations from the festival that may not be evident by my tasting notes above. While IPA's and other hoppy beers were out in force I also saw a lot of branching out. There were quite a few Saisons, Kolsch's (although not many good ones) and more smoked beers than I remember seeing before. The question I discussed with my wife and brother In-Law is the hop shortage and hop prices having an impact, and are we seeing the ramifications? Don't get me wrong I think this is a great thing, seeing American brewery's branch out away from IPA's and towards other complex unique styles of beer. I can't wait till next year.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

GABF Winners Announced

The Great American Beer Fest is this weekend in Denver, and as luck would have it I'm actually here and got to go to the festival. I'll have a lot more on my day at the Fest and all that goes along with it, but I wanted to drop a special post congratulating those Texas Breweries that were awarded.
- In the Kellerbier/Zwickelbier category Texas had two winners:
Gold: Helles Keller from Fredicksburg Brewery
Silver: Hell In Keller from Uncle Billy's Brew and Que
- In the Munich Helles Category Texas had one winner:
Silver: Saint Arnold's Summer Pils

Congratulations folks.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Session # 21

Fresh off of a very successful Session 20, I received an announcement for the next one. This time The Session is legal! For the uninitiated, the Session is a monthly virtual beer tasting. Hosted each month by a different blog with a different theme. On the first Friday of the month beer bloggers the world over post their response to the theme, sending a link to the host. The host then posts a round up so that everyone can see all the different entries.
This month the host is Matt over at A world of brews. The theme this month is to answer the question: What is your favorite beer and why? A little more info from Matt:
Before you say I don't have a favorite beer or how do I pick just one. I say BS everyone has a favorite. There will always be a beer that you would grab above all others, your go to beer per say. The one beer you will almost always choose over the others. When I get asked that question I almost always say I don't have one but then when I came up with this topic I realized I did and I know you do too.

I would like to take this topic one step farther for purely selfish reasons. I am trying to do better reviews on beers that I drink and I would like to see how other rate and review their beers. So put on your BJCP hat and Review and Rate your Favorite Beer.
This should be an interesting one. I know its really going to get me to thinking of what is my favorite beer. Of all the beer's that I've had which one do I consider my go to, or beer that I have to check out every season when it comes out. What will it be? Well check back on Nov 7th, due date for the next session.

A divine dinner

If you're in the mood for a good beer and food post, head over to my wife's blog Green Grazing. Last Sunday, we made chicken burgers, but these weren't just any chicken burgers, they were divinely inspired by Saint Arnold's. My wife made beer bread using the latest Divine Reserve, and the chicken burgers themselves were topped off with some Redneck Cheddar made with Divine Reserve 5. It was an amazing dinner.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Session # 20 Roundup

The folks over at Bathtub Brewery has posted the roundup from the lastest Session, Beer memories. Lots of great participation to go with those memories. As I stated in my post, this was a really fun session, and I am looking forward to the announcement of the next one. This time, The sessions legal!

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Session 20: Beer and Memories

Its Friday October 3rd, the first Friday of October and what does that mean? Its time for The Session, the virtual beer tasting where beer bloggers the world over unite under a common theme. The host this month is the Bathtub brewery and as the title says the theme this month is Beer and memories.
I personally looked forward to the Session this month as I really liked the theme. If nothing else I think beer brings people together and helps create memories. Whether its a finely crafted beer that when tasted with close friends offers a one of a kind memory, or whether it's a cold brew enjoyed with friends at a baseball game, the theme is good times, good friends and hopefully good beer. This specific post is about my memories of beer as I grew up. Unlike a lot of people my mom didn't have a huge issue with me having a beer (yes even if I was under 21) as long as I was at home and didn't go anywhere afterwards. This allowed me to understand what a beer would do to my senses without being at a bar slamming drinks back as fast as I could. Anyways I don't want to get on an Under 21 tangent, that's not the purpose of this post. The point is that I remember often me coming home from college and my mom having a 6-pack of Shiner waiting in the fridge. Not Bud, not Coors, not Miller, but Texas's own Shiner Bock. This beer was my introduction into things not named BMC. It let me know that beer wasn't just yellow, it had different colors!!! Who knew? Now my mom is not a beer drinker, but she knew that this is what I liked so she always made sure there was a sixer in the fridge waiting for me when I arrived. I really enjoyed that, coming back home from being away months at a time and visiting my mom, popping open a Shiner, having a BBQ, or if it was 4th of July weekend, climbing on top of my roof to see the local fireworks Drinking Shiner just reminds me of simpler times, fun times with my family and friends. Shiner became my gateway beer to the greater world of Craft Beer and all it has to offer. To be honest I haven't cracked a Shiner open in quite a few years, so what better time than today when I'm in a reminiscing mood than to try one out.
The Beer: Ahh its been a long long time. Pouring it into a pint glass (is there any other serving vessel you could use?) it pours a nice copper amber with a thick off white head that quickly dissipates. You can really see the carbonation in the liquid. The nose is malty, sweet roasted malts and caramel. The mouth has some tin-y notes, like from an aluminum can. There's a lot of carbonation (maybe a bit too much), notes of caramel and sweet malts. Its not a complex beer, but its an easy drinking, smooth, decent tasting beer. Maybe its not everything I remember it to be, but it's still a nice beer. It gets a C+ from me.

The folks at Bathtub Brewery will be posting the roundup in the next few days so check back and see all the other memories.

Upcoming Octoberfest Events

Yes I know that this weekend is actually the end of the Oktoberfest celebration in Germany. However over here I don't really think Oktoberfest really gets into swing until this weekend. With that, our local breweries are holding some events to celebrate:

- This weekend is Saint Arnold's Oktoberfest Pub crawl. Check out their latest newsletter for details.
- Speaking of Saint Arnold's they'll be having their HUGE annual Oktoberfest celebration on Oct 17th and 18th. Click here for more details.
- Other local brewery Southern Star Brewing will be holding their first Oktoberfest celebration on October 25th. Price of admission gets you a special commemorative glass.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A Divine Vertical

As I mentioned Saint Arnold's Divine Reserve 7 has been released and I decided to celebrate that release in a special way, by doing a tasting of several DR's. For the tasting I got together DR's 7, 6, and 5. I figured this would be a great way to experience the new DR and at the same time seeing how other DR's have aged over time. So let's get to it.
Divine Reserve 7: This is of course a weizenbock that weighs in at 8.7%. It pours a deep almost pitch black (see pic on the right) with a tan colored thick foamy head. The nose on this one has lots of banana, wheat, roasted malts and nutmeg. The mouth is chewy and thickly coats the tongue. There are flavors of banana's, munich malts, nutmeg, and rye bread flavors. There is a little bit of alcohol burn. As I mentioned yesterday I got to try this on tap at Gingermans, I actually think its much better out of the bottle, smoother, less harsh. Its a very rich beer, something that I think will lighten up as it ages. This is a great beer and gets an A- from me. Here's what the folks at BA think.
Divine Reserve 6: This is the American Barley wine. Here is my review from when I tasted it on June 12, 2008. The beer pours a cloudy brown with a thick taupe colored head. The nose is of hops and sweet roasted malts, citrus and earthy notes, yeasty even. The mouthfeel is thick, resiny from the hops with a great big wallop of roasted malt flavors, raisins and figs. There is some caramel sweetness but not as much as I remember before. While hops are still at the forefront, malt flavors are coming up in a big way with this beer. I actually would LOVE to have this beer aged in oak and try it in a year, I think it would be absolutely amazing. Continuing my local eating and drinking I actually had this particular beer with some local cheese, the Veldhuizen Bosque Blue Cheese and it paired really really well.
The Divine Reserve 5: The last one and its the famous Russian Imperial Stout. Again here's my review from the first time I had it on September 09, 2007. Yes it's made it a year, it was difficult not to drink it! This one pours an absolutely pitch black with a dark crema colored head(sorry about the picture quality on this one). The nose has an extreme amount of roasted malts, coffee, dark bitter chocolate. It has a chewy mouthfeel a little chalky with flavors of cocoa, burnt malts, dark chocolate covered espresso beans. Very malty. There was no alcohol burn this was one smooth beer. There is some bitterness from the richly dark roasted malt flavors but it adds such a deep complexity. This may have been one of the best beers I've ever had, better than the first time. My wife and I shared this beer with some local cheddar that was actually made with this Divine Reserve. Unsurprisingly this was an absolutely wonderful pairing.

This was a really interesting tasting, not a true vertical of course, but extremely insightful for me as it was the first time for me to taste a beer that I had aged. It was my last DR5 which makes me sad, but I've hopefully put enough DR6 and 7 away to continue these tastings as subsequent Divine Reserves come out.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Southern Star Logger

What better way to start off my month of drinking locally, then well, drinking something really local. In this case I'm talking about a draft only release from our very own Southern Star Brewery. This particular beer is Southern Star's summer seasonal brew, its a Dortmund Export style lager (get it: Lager; Logger!). My first time to try this beer, heck it was actually the first time I'd seen it (got to get this on tap at my local watering hole Boondoggles!).
The Beer: This one weighs in at 6.0% abv and pours a cloudy straw color with a thin but foamy head. The nose is sweet pale malts and a bit of bitter hops on the nose. The mouth is crisp with bitter hops and sweet pale malts. Reminds me a bit of a North German Lager like a Jever or something. Very smooth with a nice crisp slightly bitter taste. A very refreshing brew. This one gets a strong B from me.

Eat Local, Drink Local

My wife and I have been trying to eat local as much as possible. Just something to do our part to support the local economy (which in this day an age is important) and being able to know where we eat our food and how its grown/produced. Well it just so happens that there is a challenge for the month of October to eat local. My wife's blog has detailed out the food part and how we plan to eat as local as possible for the next 31 days. As part of our effort I've decided to only drink local for the next 31 days. That's right no wine, liquor, and most importantly, no beer unless its local. There are of course some caveats so here they are:
1) Local for me is Texas
2) If I picked it up in the brewery on travel then I can drink it during October.
3) I can not pick up anything from the liquor/grocery store that's out of state, period.

For me this will be a good reason to try some Texas beers that for whatever reason I haven't. As the month goes I'll be posting my tasting notes as always, however at the end of the month I'll talk about how easy or hard it was to drink local (I think the drinking part will be very easy, Texas has some great beers).

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuesday Quick Hits

Just a two very quick notes for today.
- A week late for Houston due to Hurricane Ike, but Saint Arnold's latest Divine Reserve has been released! The wiezenbock is out in bottle at local liquor stores and grocery stores and already out in draft in a couple of places. My local Spec's had 8 cases sell out in 30 minutes. Not to worry I picked up 2 six packs today and was able to try a pint of this incredible beer on draft at the downtonw Gingerman's. I gotta say its an amazing beer, tasting notes to come.

- Secondly, a reminder that the next Session is this Friday. Theme is Beer memories.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Two new beers from another brewery new to Texas

It seems every week we are getting either a brewery new to the Texas scene, or a brewery that has had some products in the state, expanding their repertoire. There's been Oskar Blues, Boulevard, Green Flash, expanded selection of Stone's, Brooklyn Brewery, and on my most recent visit to Central Market, Pike's Brewery. Pike's is based out of Seattle and was started in 1989. It was founded by Charles Finkel (as an aside he also founded Bon Vin a boutique wine distributor) in the famous Pike's Place Market. They've been making great unique beers ever since. They had a pretty good selection of them at CM all in bombers so I picked two that I thought I might like.
Kilt Lifter Scotch Style Ruby Ale: This one is extremely interesting. It's made with peated malt that gives it a smoky flavor. The beer weighs in at 6.5% and 27 IBU's and pours a cloudy brown with a thin head. The nose is smoky, malty, raisin-y, figs, and a bit of chocolate. The mouth is reach and creamy, notes of raisins, honey, and yeast with an underlying smokey maltyness. Not like a rauchbier but more like a scotch which I guess is the point. A really great smooth, yet complex beer. This one gets a B+ from me. Here's what the folks at BA had to say.
IPA: Ahh yes, you know I had to get a hoppy beer! This one is 6.5% and 60 IBU's. It pours a cloudy hazy orange with a minimal head, but plenty of lacing. The nose has great floral notes, orange, grapefruit, honeysuckle and pale malts. The mouth is really amazing, saturating in its resinyness. There are notes of orange marmalade, grapefruit, and a pinyness. Very very nice a great IPA in my opinion. Nothing earth shatteringly new here, just incredibly solid and tasty. This one gets an A- from me. The folks at BA like it as well.

Well I gotta say even with just two beers, I'm pretty impressed by Pike and I can't wait to try some more of their offerings.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Stone Brew's

As I mentioned before, while I was in San Diego I had the chance to stop by the Stone Brewery for a tour, tasting and dinner at their awesome restaurant. While there I of course picked up a couple of their beers and drank them during the remainder of my week in So Cal. I tried to pick up the Stones that aren't available here in Texas so no Arrogant Bastard (oaked or otherwise), no smoked porter, no Ruination. So what else is there? Glad you asked.
Belgian Style Tripel/Collaboration: This is made by Stone Brewing along with Alesmith (another California Brewery) and Mikkeller (a brewery from Denmark). These type of beers always interest me in that they show how different brewers can come together and create something that represents each of their personalities. This one is a tripel style ale weighing at 8.7%. It pours a clear orange color with a quarter inch white head. Hops and white fruit on the nose along with honey and citrus (orange and lemon). The mouth is bitter, much more so than I expected. There are sweet notes of honey and white fruit as I would expect from a good tripel but the flavor is incredibly subtle. The nose on this was really aromatic and I expected that to translate into a stronger flavor profile. While the flavors were there, they weren't there in the strength I would have preferred, they felt muted. This one gets a B- from me. Here's what the folks at BA had to say.
Cali-Belgique IPA: This is Stone's version of an IPA made with a Belgian yeast. Its a standard Stone IPA where the yeast flavor will hopefully take a stronger presence than normal. It has 77 IBU's and weighs in at 6.9% abv so its no light weight. Pours a bright orange clear color with a thick frothy white head. The nose is hoppy with tropical fruit notes. The mouth is effervescent, bubbly, hoppy with notes of white fruits and some fruity sourness from the yeast. A very interesting beer. You can definitely taste the difference the yeast makes which is the point of the beer I guess. There's a certain funkiness to the beer that adds complexity to an otherwise standard IPA. This one gets a B+ from me. Here's what the folks at BA had to say.

Now that's not quite the last Stone beer I bought from the brewery just the ones I had while in California. The other one I grabbed was Stone's 08.08.08 Vertical Epic release. This a beer that's released every year by Stone, starting at 01.01.01 and will continue through 12.12.12. Each is a different style of beer (this one is a Belgian Strong Pale Ale) and each made to age so that when the last one comes you can have all 12 and do a vertical tasting. Not sure I'll be able to hold on to this one for that long, but I'm going to let it sit for a while at least.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Lost Abbey Lost and Found

This is the last Lost Abbey beer that I had while I was in California (fear not, I brought a couple back home). I got to say I've been impressed by Lost Abbey's solid offering's. So far neither of the previous two weren't anything spectacular, but they were quite good. That was about to change.
The Beer: This is Lost Abbey's version of a Belgian Style Dubbel. Its made with added dextrose and raisin puree. It weighs in at 7.5% abv. The beer pours a dark cloudy brown with a quarter inch cafe colored head. Raisins, figs, candied sugar. A thick mouthfeel with figgy notes and raisins, brown sugar, molases and plums. This is an awesome beer, rich, toasty, complex. Great malt flavors balanced with dark fruits. Great great beer, gets an A+ from me. Here's what the folks at BA think.