Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Quick Hits: Beer and Food Edition

Time for some quickfire quick hits, mainly focused on two of my favorite things. Beer and Food:

- I missed it, how did I miss it! Last weekend was the 2nd annual Saint Arnold's One Pot Cookoff. The Houston Press has a great write up so I'll give them all the credit for it. Also they've posted some fun pictures. After reading all this am I the only one that wants to see a Saint Arnold's Cookbook?

- For North Texas folks, it looks like a regular Beer and food feast.
First the Oceanairre seafood room is hosting a food and beer paring with Anchor Brewery. The cost is 55.00. Checkout this link for the menu. Sounds amazing.
Not much food but Idle Rich in Dallas continues to host Monday tastings focusing on different regions of the world or different types of beer. The next one is called Hop Heaven.

My final tidbit is local, and really has nothing to do with food, but I wanted to share it anyways. As most know Saint Arnold's hosts the largest single style home brew contest in the states called Big Beer Brew Bash. The last few years the winning recipe has been made into a Divine Reserve. Well Saint Arnold's has released the style for this years BBBB and its a Strong Scotch Ale. So will this soon be a Divine Reserve? I'd put money on it, although it won't be DR 8, more like DR9. Of course that beg's the question what will DR8 be?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Green Flash Le Freak

Green Flash is one of those breweries that made their way to Texas this past year. I've found everyone of the beers to be very good. From their every day six pack West coast IPA to their Trippel and Barleywine this is one brewery that seems to do it right. So imagine my giddiness when I saw a new beer on the shelf of my local Spec's. A trippel at wait a minute, its an no that's not either, its both. A Trippel made like an IPA....interesting doesn't begin to describe it.
The Beer: This one weighs in at 9.2%. It pours a golden orange color with a quarter inch off white head. The nose is powerful, so much so that I could smell the bouquet well before I held my nose hovering over my snifter glass. White grapes, yeasty, oranges and other citurs notes. The mouth is effervescent, candied sugar coated orange peals up front, with grapefruity hops finishing it up. Really great hops at the end here, really leaving that as the lasting memory of this beer. A Belgian Trippel up front with the finish of an IPA. Well that was the first glass anyway. The second from this 750 ml bottle had obtained some of the yeasty sediment at the bottom. Swirling the beer around you get more of the Trippel notes on the nose, fruity, yeasty, apricots and white grapes, balanced with grapefruit hops. Man this is one amazing beer. It gets an easy A from me. Here's what the folks at BA think about it.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Quick Hits

Its been while, and it seems lately if beer related news has been slow. Due to that I'm taken this news bit from a post on Beeradvocate on new beers headed to Texas.

These are some that have just arrived:
Green Flash Le Freak 22oz
Summit Extra Pale Ale 6pk
Summit IPA 6pk
Summit Maibock 6pk
Indian Wells Orange Blossom Ale 6pk
Indian Wells Lobotomy Bock 6pk
Otter Creek Copper Ale 6pk

Others are coming hopefully this year:
Boston's Harpoon may be entering the Texas market this year, as well as Moylan's, Founders, and Alaskan.

It continues the trend of great breweries entering the Texas market. I've said it once I'll say it again, this is a GREAT time to be a beer drinker in Texas as we have more choices than ever before. I only hope that our home grown talent will continue to expand, grow, and be more innovative in the beers that they brew.

De Proef Reserve Signature Ale Collaboration with Port Brewing

I picked this large Belgian beer up at Spec's for many reason's. The first is that I'm a big fan of brewery collaboration beer's. It's an interesting concept seeing two different brewers teaming up together taking their individual styles and entwining them into something new, and hopefully delicious.. One of the few that I have tried Collaboration not Litigation from Avery and Russian River is delicious so I'm always on the look out for more. The second reason is that this is a collaboration that involves Tomme Arthur of Port Brewing and Lost Abbey fame and so far this is the only way to taste anything he does in Texas. Lastly this particular collaboration is a limited time sort of thing. De Proef has decided to do a number of collaborations with American Breweries. This was their first I believe, and their second is with another California brewery, Alesmith (and yes I'm incredibly excited to try that one when its released). This particular beer is an ale made with American Hops and Belgian Brett yeast.
The Beer: The beer weighs in at 8.5% and pours a pale golden cloudy orange with a frothy white head. The nose has citrusy hops, with a barnyard sourness. White fruit. The mouthfeel is tongue coating, bretty, white grapes, apricots and grapefruity hops. Notes of lychi. Very yeasty and funky a very enjoyable beer. Very good with a barnyard funk, giving the beer a tart/tanginess to the mouth. Incredibly complex there's so much going on, I need another bottle to just sit, drink and contemplate. This one gets a strong B+ from me. The folks at BA love it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My Monday at the Saucer

This past Sunday my wife ran in the Houston Half Marathon, and if I may be so bold did a fantastic job. As a reward for her and to help her along the road to recovery from the race, she had a very nice spa day at the Houstonian Hotel. To kill time while she was at the spa, I headed to the Flying Saucer to try some new beers (well at least new to me). It just so happen that all three beer's I had were local Texas products, and all three were wonderful.
Southern Star Buried Hatchet Stout: This will soon be Southern Star's next canned beer, but in the meantime its only available in draft. It weighs in at 9% and pours a deep rich brown almost black with just hints of light shining through. The head is thin, but that may have been due to a bad pour. The nose is strong with roasted burnt malts, coffee, and dark bitter chocolate. The mouth is creamy and thick, dark chocolate covered espresso beans, very smooth and very little alcohol burn. There is some really strong bitterness here, not from hops, but from the malts. It's like eating a 90% dark chocolate bar. Very very nice, I can't wait to try it again. This one gets a B+ from me. It seems the folks at BA like it as well.
Live Oak Primus Weizenbock: Another Texas brewer putting out a Weizenbock. Not to long ago I had never had one, now I've had two from Texas. This one weighs in at 7.5% and pours an extremely cloudy beige (almost unappealingly) with a thick taupe colored head. The nose is chock full of bananas, cloves, roasted malts, and chocolate. The mouth is chewy, thick and tongue coating. It sits on the tongue soaking down into it so you get all the flavors. There are notes of bananas and cloves of course, along with roasted malts, chocolate. Its smooth, its not as bitter as Saint Arnold's version was. Bready and yeast as well from the wheat in the beer. Its a very good beer, but there is some lack of depth in the flavors which is why this one gets a B from me. Good love from BA as well.
Real Ale Sisyphus 2005: Saucer actually had the 03, 05, and 06 on tap. I tried a taster of the 03, but the O5 was what I took notes on. I'm pretty excited to try this one as I have a couple of bottles of the 07 waiting around for me to drink. This one weighs in at 10.5% and pours a cloudy orangish color with a thick dense foamy white head. The nose is sweet malts, citrus orange, and pale toasted malts. The mouthfeel is creamy and dense. Strong notes of orange peel, like I'm chewing on it, caramel, apricots. The finish has a slight alcohol burn and strong citrus hop notes of grapefruit. This is a wonderful beer with strong flavors through out. I don't know what it was like fresh but I it doesn't seem to be very mellowed. A wonderful beer that will probably get better over the next year or two. This one gets an A from me.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Pike Brewing Extra Stout

This is the second brew that I've had from this Seattle based brewery. Of course this is another brewery that has only recently entered our marketplace, but its one that I'm proud to see here. This one as with all their beers that I've seen comes packaged in a big 22 oz bottle.
The Beer: This one weighs in at 7.0% and pours a pitch black with a crema colored head. Not as an Imperial Stout. Roasted malts, burnt coffee beans, and a nice sweetness on the nose. The mouth is smooth, with a slight burnt bean taste, chocolate and creamy. Not very bitter, but then again that's something I enjoy in richer stouts. There is a nice creamy texture here. I wish there was more dark bitter chocolate flavors. A good solid stout, but not a great one. This one gets a solid B from me for being a good solid stout. Here's what the folks at BA had to say.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Koningshoeven Quadrupel

I start my second week of the year craving something complex, something soul warming, something that I can sip and contemplate. I go to my local Spec's seeking something out that would satisfy my requirements, my eyes darting from shelf to shelf seeking something anything to settle the quench....finally my eyes rest upon a large bottle, focusing on the words Quadrupel..then the brewery Koningshoeven, and it was then that I knew this beer would give me want I desired. You see Koningshoeven is not just any old brewery, it's a Trappist Brewery. And to be even more unique its the only Trappist brewery located outside of Belgium, instead residing in the nearby Netherlands. Its a unique Trappist brewery that only recently regained the ability to display the Trappist symbol on their beers. Luckily the monks have taken a bigger role in the brewery and they are producing some excellent beers. Koningshoeven is also known as La Trappe in other parts of the world.
The Beer: This one weighs in at 10% and pours a copperish red with a thick slightly off white head. The nose is fruity, spices, vanilla, and caramel malts. Mouthfeel is thick and creamy coating the tongue. Sweet caramel, grapes, vanilla, spices dance around the mouth, and all these flavors hide the high alcohol. Smooth and delightful I start to get notes of orange peel, plums as the beer warms and I sip, contemplate and sip some more. Notes of candied sugar. The last glass of this large bottle had bits of yeast floating as I swirled it around, concentrated flavors that reminded me of creme brulee. Yes this is exactly what I wanted and it gets an A from me. How do the folks at BA feel?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Brooklyn Brewery Local 1

A very special brew from a brewery I have a lot of respect for. Brooklyn is one of those that have come to our great state recently and while we don't get all of their beers we do get this one. This bottle comes packaged in a large bottle format (750ml) closed off with a champagne cork and a wire cage. The website calls it a bottle conditioned Belgian inspired Strong Golden Ale. I won't argue with that.
The Beer: Its strong alright weighing in at 9.0%, and it pours the color of honey so they got the golden part right as well. There are a ton of bubbles here, its like Champagne. The nose is fruity, yeasty, white grapes, and honeysuckle. The mouth has lots of carbonation and effervescence. Notes of honey, candied sugar, and sweet fruity yeasts. The beer dances across the tongue like thousands of little pop rock candies going off in your mouth. It penetrates the tongue with intense flavors. This is a great beer and would go great with some cheese. One of the better beers I've had recently, this gets an A from me. Here's what the folks at BA had to say.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Rahr and Sons Blind Salamander Pale Ale

The first full week of 2009 and I'm off to drinking local beers it seems. This one comes from Ft. Worth's Rahr and Sons and is a special release. The Blind Salamander is the first of Rahr's Rare Breed series. This series celebrate endangered Texas species with a portion of the sales of these beers going to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation. Bonus points to Rahr for doing something good for the state and the environment. If you'd like to more about the Blind Salamander check out Rahr and Sons site. Ok so the back story has been told, but really whats the most important thing?
The Beer: This one pours a dark copper with a thin head. The nose is of pale malts with some floral hops. They British East Kent Golding hops here so the citrus-y notes we get from American Pale ales is out. My first impression of the mouthfeel is of a smooth and easy drinking ale. Pale malts, caramel, bready with an earthy undertone from the hops. Very low bitterness to this beer, really couldn't even detect any. There is a good sweetness to this beer, light and relatively easy drinking. To me this beer tasted more like a Shiner Bock then a Pale Ale. A disappointing Pale Ale to me, this one gets a C+. Some variance from the folks over at BA but most seem to like it more than I did.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Shiner 100: Commemorator

How's this for my first beer tasting blog of the new year. A post to celebrate Texas's own Shiner and their 100th anniversary. Since 2005 Shiner has been releasing a beer leading up to 2009 and their hundredth anniversary. Shiner 96 was a Marzen, 97 was a black lager that was so good it became a regular part of their line up. 98 was a bit of step back in my opinion with a Bavarian Amber, and 99 was a pretty solid Helles. So what was 100? Well if you know German beer and you've noticed the name in the title its a Dopplebock which is appropriate since Shiner's flagship brew is a Bock. As excited as I am that Shiner put out a dopplebock to celebrate this special year, the question remains, how does it taste? Fear not, I'm hear to help answer that question.
The Beer: The beer pours a rich mahogany with a thin taupe colored head. The nose is malty, rich with raisins, and bready notes. The mouthfeel starts full with rich dark fruits, figs, raisins, and dark rye bread, nicely sweet, and easy drinking. Sometimes easy drinking can be a good thing, but in this case it's almost a negative. Its a good beer don't get me wrong, and up front there is some good flavors there, but it seems very 2 dimensional...meaning there's no depth to the flavor. It hits you and then disappears lost forever. A good beer, but not a great one. I'd pick up more, and I'll seek it out on draft to see how it compares. Its not a miss, but it's not a homerun either. Call it a standup double. This one gets a B- from me.

Monday, January 05, 2009

The Session # 24 Announcement

In one of the quickest turn arounds that I can remember, fresh off of a roundup just two short days go comes the announcement of the 24th Session. Celebrating 2 years this month!! Who can believe its already been that long. The host for this virtual beer tasting is David from Musings over a pint. I must say that after reading the announcement I am extremely excited. First its a fresh return to a more stylistic approach to the Session something that I've been hoping for a while. Secondly its a style I rather enjoy. Here's the announcement fresh from David's site:
the theme is "A Tripel for Two." What Tripel would you pick to share with that good friend, family member, or lover?

If you have a beer or beer-related blog, it's easy to participate in The Session. Pick a Belgian-style Tripel to review. Tell us why it's your pick to share with that special someone. Be sure to include a review of the beer so that others might be inspired to choose that beer for a special moment. Bonus points if the person with whom you are sharing the beer includes their review as well.
As I stated above, I'm thoroughly stoked for this month's session. Due date is Feb 6th so come back on that date and see how it goes.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Happy New Year

Yes 2009 is finally upon us. 2008 has passed. It was an interesting year for beer. Nationally and globally the biggest story was the InBev buy out of A-B leading to a mega-brewery. Somewhat smaller in scope was MolsonCoors merging North American Operations with SABMiller. I would say that 2009 will bring more of the same but I'm not sure who would merge with whom. On a more local scale Texas saw more breweries than ever entering our market. Oskar Blues, Brooklyn Brewery, Summit, Pike, Greenflash, Boulevard, and many more came into Texas providing us with more choices than ever. Locally Houston saw the opening of another brewery in Southern Star, and Saint Arnold's continues to make award winning beer. In 2009 we get to look forward to Saint Arnold's opening its new brewery as well as more canned beer from Southern Star. What new breweries will come into Texas this next year? I'm not sure, but one thing is for sure, they will be many, and they will continue to expand our beer palates and that's a good thing.
From my side of things this has been a good year. I've written 137 posts this year. Not bad, but I want more. I want to continue to do my tasting notes that I hope folks find useful. But I also plan to write more on Texas Beer, and Houston bars and restaurants that serve good beer. Throw in a few interviews from Texas Breweries and maybe even some writings on beer travel and I should have a pretty packed year in 2009.
Since the holiday's occurred it has been a while from my last post so here's a couple of quick notes on what I've missed:

- The latest session hosted by Beer and Firkins and they have posted the roundup from their festivities. Go check it out.
- Lastly NY Times Eric Asimov writes on Barrel aged beer. Good informative article.