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.