Friday, February 27, 2009

Beer and Sorbet Quick Hit

Yes you read that title correctly. It seems that Houston's local gelato maker Marcelo Kreindel of the great and wonderful Trentino Gelato has paired with Houston's own Saint Arnold to create something amazing: Saint Arnold Sorbet! Marcelo makes three different sorbets, one with Spring Bock, one with Brown Ale, and another with Saint Arnold's Root Beer. Not sure where all you'll be able to get this, but Coffee Groundz in Midtown will have some. If this hasn't wetted your appetite enough checkout this video from Saint Arnold.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Update on Texas Beer Parity Amendment

A very quick short update on the two bills that will allow Texas Brewery's to sell their beer on site. First HB 1062 has been submitted to the Texas House and has been referred to Licensing and Administrative Procedures.
Secondly the same bill in the Texas Senate SB 754 has been officially received by the Secretary of the senate.
Neither of these are ground breaking, but what it does mean is that the bill continues to move through the proper steps and hopefully we should be getting more news updates soon.
And if you haven't already please notify your Texas Rep and Texas State Senator about how important this bill is.
I for one have notified both my State rep, John E. Davis and State Senator, Mike Jackson. Both of which have not deemed it necessary to reply back. Maybe they are too busy to speak with their constituents, but regardless I truly hope that they will support this bill.
Even if you have written your own State Rep or Senator you can do more! As stated above HB 1062 has been referred to Licensing and Administrative Procedures. Here is a list of the committee members. Write one, write all, write as many as you can. Let them hear from the Texas Beer Advocates.

De Proef Imperial Saison

My previous experience with De Proef has only been through their collaborations with US brewers, so this is my first standalone brew from this very experimental Belgian Brewery. A saison can be a great thing, its probably one of the best beers to pair with foods. This one is an Imperial version which means what exactly? I'm assuming just a bigger, more flavors, more alcohol, just MORE....
The Beer: This one weighs in at 8.5% and its mixed fermented. It pours a cloudy brown with a thin taupe colored head. Malty and bretty on the nose, funky with a tartness. The mouthfeel is chewy with notes of honeysuckle, fruity, earthy, floral, and spicey. This is very funky with copious amounts of brett, kind of overpowering everything else. However as it warms, subtle chocolaty notes, and white fruits start to show up. A very interesting beer, a beer to have with some strongly flavored cheeses that could stand up to the funk. This one gets a B from me. Here's what the folks at BA say.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Craft Beer Numbers Released

The Brewers Association which tracks these kind of things have released numbers from last year. With regards to straight dollars sales by craft brewers were up by 10.5 percent, and 5.8 percent by volume. However compare to last year which showed 16 percent by dollars and 12 percent by volume. You see that while it was a good year, it was not a great year compared to the past. However looking on the bright side it shows that even in the hard economic times that the last half of the year brought, folks were still buying craft brew. See below for a chart provided by the Brewers Assocation showing Craft beer growth over the year. What you'll see again is an increase over last year, but not as big as recent yearly increases, but still going up. What does this mean? Does it mean that craft beer is recession proof? I don't think so, not yet anyway. I'd have to see the numbers from the first quarter of this year before believing that statement. What it does show is that while big brewers have been losing an audience, craft brewer's continue to grow.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Saint Arnold's Twitter Crawl

A what you say? A twitter crawl. Whats that?
Its a pub crawl where in stead of sending out the locations via a cryptic email before hand, the locations are sent out using the social network instant messaging site Twitter. A very neat concept that Saint Arnold Brewery put to good use last night. A few weeks ago they put out on their email newsletter that they would be doing something like this and to sign up for twitter if you wanted more information. Then this week they let you know the first stop, and throughout the evening last night they gave you the subsequent locations (although I don't think they ever sent anything out via twitter on the last location, you were just verbally told at the second place). The prize at the end of the crawl? A nice pint glass but more importantly the last cask of the year of their Christmas Ale. It was my first time to have Christmas on Cask, and I must say it was delicious. Overall it was a nice evening, and much less crowded than a typical Saint Arnold's pub crawl, whether that was due to using only Twitter or the fact that it was on a Thursday instead of a Friday remains to be seen. Either way, kudos to Saint Arnold's to using things like Twitter to find unique methods of reaching out to their fans.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Great Divide Old Ruffian

Old Ruffian was one of the first Barleywine's I had on draft. I was expecting a strong beer sure, but something maltier in the British style. What I wasn't ready for was to be smacked hard over the head with hops which this one did to me. It took me a while to understand that American Barleywines were very different than the British versions. This one to me is a prime example of the American version.
The Beer: This one weighs in at 10.2% and pours a ruby red with a thick tan head. Very hoppy on the nose with some good roasted malts. The mouthfeel is creamy with citrus, floral and spicy hoppy notes. There is some really nice grapefruit and orange peel here. But some really nice roasted malts, caramel notes. Rich and smooth. Very hoppy just as I remember, but there seems to be more balance there than before, or maybe my palate has changed, hmmm, very nice. There are some notes of creme brulee in the mix that make this such a wonderful sipping beer. This one gets an A- from me. Here's what the folks at BA think.

Monday, February 16, 2009

HB 1062 Update

Very quick update on HB 1062 that I know all Texas Beer lovers are following. A second bill has been submitted, this time its in the Senate. SB 754 submitted by Wendy Davis was received by the Secretary of the Senate on Feb 10th. This is mainly a formality but its nice that this bill continues to move along. So go, write not only your State Rep, but write your State senator. As for what to write? Here is what we were asked to write last time a bill like this was in the senate:
-You are a supporter of Texas microbreweries.
-It would enhance your visit to Texas microbreweries if you could purchase a pint or six pack, just like you can when you visit microbreweries in other states.
-It will make you even more likely to purchase the beers of Texas microbreweries when you are at stores and restaurants.
-It will make Texas microbreweries stronger.
-Such a change in the law would make it more likely for more microbreweries to open in Texas.

Be respectful, but be honest about how you think microbreweries are important to our great state.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

De Proef Les Deaux Brasseurs

This is the second is a series of collaborations between the Belgian brewery De Proef and a US brewery. The first was with Tomme Arthur and Port Brewing. This one, the second is with Jason Perkins of Allagash. I've been a fan of this Portland, Maine based brewery for quite some time. They make some amazing Belgian style beers. We don't get much of their more unique offerings down in Houston, other than a couple of their oak aged beers, that I've had the opportunity to try.
This one which means The Two Brewers is an incredibly unique beer. Its a Golden ale fermented with two different strains of Brettanomyces, one from each brewery. It was also dry hopped with Czech Haas hops. Yes its unique, but how does it taste?
The Beer: This one weighs in at 8.5% and pours a rich hay golden color with a frothy thick white head. The nose is of sour yeast, pear, their is a sourdough funkiness here along with some white fruits. The mouthfeel is creamy and thick. Funky notes of hay and barn, but also fruity notes of pear and pineapple. Pale malts and a bit of floral hop notes show up. The funk is the king here, though. The strains of bret have created a monster, that can at times be distracting from the other fruitier flavors of the beer. I like it, not my favorite, but an incredibly uniquely fruity funky beer. This one gets a B from me. Here's what the folks at BA say.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Texas House Bill 1062

The time has come, pick up the phone and call your Texas Legislature!!
Why do you ask?
State rep Lon Burnman (Ft. Worth) has introduced House Bill 1062. If passed this bill will give breweries who brew more than 1000 barrels of "ale or malt liquor" a year to sell no more than 35,000 Gallons annual on site. The goal is to make this effective by Sept 1 of this year. For long time readers of this blog this is similar to the failed house bill 1926 that Brock Wagner of Saint Arnold's was advocating back in 2007. In 2007 this bill failed wholly due to the fact that the Beer distributors were against it, and since they give millions to politicians (especially the Chair of the committee went to). Hopefully this time the bill will pass. What can you do to help out? Well write your local State Representative, tell them that this bill must pass. Click here to find who your House Rep is.
Now let's be very clear on what this bill does and does not do.
It will only affect those with Brewer Permits (Brewpubs have different permits so they are not affected).
It will allow brewers to sell some of their beers in tasting rooms (some may be allowed for on site consumption) similar to what wineries in our state can already do.
It will hopefully foster a greater appreciation for Texas Breweries and help make them tourist destinations for out of state folks. This is a big one for me. I love going to CO or California breweries and buying beer there that I can't get here.
What will it not do?
It will have zero effect on Beer Distributors. Regardless of what they may say, the amount of beer that these brewers will be allowed to sell on site will not make much of a dent in their sales, if anything it might create more demand at stores.
It will not dismantle all financial obstacles to opening a brewery in Texas. There a lot of issues that make opening and running a successful brewery in our fine state. This is one of them, but its not the only one, not by a long shot. It will however give them a bit more financial security (no numbers) and every little bit helps.

This bill can only help foster Texas Beer Culture, and hopefully help promote Texas Beer tourism.
In closing I'll reiterate to please write your local House Rep.

Monday, February 09, 2009

The Session Round Up and Announcement

David over at Musings over a Pint has posted his Session Round up: A Tripel for Two. If anyone doubted that his choice of theme was a good one, doubt no more as there were 33 entries this month. That's very nice and hopefully will get more beer themed sessions.

And off we go. The Beer Nut is hosting next months Session and again we are hit with a strong beer theme. The theme is Love Lager. From the host:
So for this Session, let's get back to basics. I'm sure I'm not the only one whose early drinking career featured pale lager in abundance, so consider this a return to our roots as beer drinkers. Don't even think about cheating the system: leave your doppelbocks and schwarzbiers out of this one: I want pilsners, light lagers, helleses and those ones that just say "beer" because, well, what else would it be?
I like this theme. Due to the big mass produces lagers, they really have gotten a bad rap. I really think its unfair as there are some amazing German Pilsners out there with a ton of depth and flavor. I for one will be on the look out for a good pilsner over the next month, one that can show how tasty and complex this style can be. Come back on March 6th to see how it all turns out.

Friday, February 06, 2009

The Session #24

Its the first Friday of February, and that can mean only one thing....its Session time! A quick recap: The Session is a monthly virtual beer tasting. Each month hosted by a different beer blogger, with a different theme. The host this month is David from Musings over a pint. The theme is Tripels, more specifically a tripel you would choose to share with a good friend or that special someone. My beer is definitely one I would share with that special someone especially since we are coming up on that day of days....Valentine's Day.....So which beer did I choose?
St. Bernardus Tripel: St. Bernardus brewery is located in Watou Beglium, a village in the West Flanders area. They are pretty well known for making some exceptional Belgian Ales. Note that they are not a Trappist Brewery (although they were at one time. In 1992 when the definition of Trappist changed, so too was this beer not longer able to call itself trappist).
The Beer: The beer weighs in at 8.0% and pours a cloudy golden honey color with a thin frothy white head. A million tiny bubbles like a fine champagne spring up from the bottom of the glass to the top. The nose is fruity, yeasty, notes of honeysuckle, floral. The mouthfeel is effervescent, honey, pears, fruity, yeasty. Its really bubbly. To continue the Champagne comparison there is a really nice toasty bready flavor here, very similar to an aged Champagne. An incredible beer that would make a wonderful pairing with strawberries. One of the best of this style I've had. Forget surprising your special someone with a glass of bubbly. This will do the trick and then some. This one gets a solid A from me. Here's what the folks at BA think.

Stay tuned as I'm sure Dave will have the full Session round up posted shortly.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Southern Star News

Call me an equal opporunity poster. After posting on local brewer Saint Arnold's yesterday, I wanted to give fare share to out other local brewer Southern Star from Conroe. In their most recent newsletter there were two particular topics that got me curious enough to ask some questions.
The first announcement is that Southern Star will be having a Homebrew contest. The winning recipe will be entered into the GABF Pro-Am competition. In addition the recipe will be used as the Southern Star's fall beer. Ahh now this is what got me questioning. I said to myself doesn't Southern Star already have a Fall release? The wonderful and unique Rauchbier? Well I dropped head brewery an email who replied with the following:
I think that we are going to rotate the Fall seasonal. I love the rauch, but it just isn't selling, so no, we won't be making that for the fall next year.
Well this is disappointing. I loved their Rauchbier and really felt it was a welcome addition to the Texas line up of beers. I'm hoping that since their Fall seasonal will rotate that they will find room for this style.
The second issue that got me asking questions was the news that Southern Star would be expanding their distribution outside of Texas, to Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, and North Carolina. I'm very torn about this news. On one hand I think its pretty cool that there is enough demand that SS can take their beers outside of Texas, and in doing so will be the first brewery other than Shiner to do so. On the other hand I worry because SS hasn't entered all the Texas markets, so there is a little bit of "What about me?" going on. I specifically asked Dave about when they were coming to South of Houston (Clear Lake Area). I can get their canned beer at my local Spec's of course, but nothing on tap, not even in the great Boondoggles. Dave's reply is that they are working on it. I hope so.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Wish List for Saint Arnold's

As most of you know our local little brewery Saint Arnold's is not going to be so little for very long. If things go as planned this June they will be moving to downtown and to a much much larger facility. A recent article in the Houston Chronicle reported that Saint Arnold's owner
"hopes to grow to 100 fermenters and brew several other styles of beer using a barrel aging room in the basement."
Now this sounds extremely promising and could lead to some amazing things from Saint Arnold's. I love most of their beers, they have a very solid lineup of every day beers, and they've also expanded and made some exceptional specialty beers with their Divine Series. However they haven't done anything too uhm whats the word "out there" No sours, no oak aged beers (at least none for release), etc. Now I think that changes. There was a forum on Beer Advocate a few days ago asking what you want to see from SA. I want to ask you my readers the same question.
Here's my list:
1) Continue the solid regular six pack line up, do something like Boulevard does in having the regular six packs but making a series of beers in bombers.
2) I'd love to see some sours and oak aged beers, other high gravity beers.

So what do you folks want to see?

Monday, February 02, 2009

Pike Brewery Barleywine

This seems to be a theme this week....barleywine..not a bad theme at all though. However before I get to this beer, first let me remind everyone of another theme, the one from this weeks Session. Friday is the due date, and the theme is Tripels.
Pike of course is another recent addition to the Texas Beer landscape having entered our market from Seattle last year. Their beers all come packaged in bomber bottles.
The Beer: This one weighs in at 10% and 90 IBU's. Well right off you know this is going to be a big American Barleywine that's almost as much of a DIPA as it is a barleywine. It pours a cloudy hazy brown with a thin taupe head. Hops are powerful in the nose but surprisingly well balanced with malty sweetness. Notes of caramel, roasted malts, and maybe prunes. The mouthfeel is thick and creamy. Huge bitter hops, grapefruit up front and its powerful, but there is some nice raisin-y, figs, but then it finishes again with apricots orange peel. This is a good one with a lot of hops but surprising malt backbone. Good one. B+ from me. Here's what the folks at BA say.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

A tale of two Bigfoots

We've gone from Winter and Christmas beers two of my favorite styles to yet another style that I have great admiration for, Barleywine. And when you talk about American Barleywine you have to talk about Sierra Nevada Bigfoot. One of the first American Craft Brewers to brew this style its iconic for very good reason. Its delicious. Well for me one Bigfoot is just not enough, I wanted two, from two different years. I tried the current 2009 release with the 2008 to see how it held up after a year.
2008: Go here to see my thoughts on this beer when it was fresh. The beer pours a cloudy hazy brown with a thin white head. The nose is rich and malty with just a hint of hoppy grapefruits. The mouth is thick and chewy lots of dried fruit, raisins, figs, and a bit of molasses. As I continue to drink notes of apricots and grapefruit start to show up, yep the hop character is still here. Malty up front with a good hop backbone at the finish with mellow alcohol notes. This beer will definitely make it another year or so ands till be quite tasty. Its a B+ for me.
2009: Now for the fresh one. It pours a clear dark amber brown with a thing off white head. No haziness here. As with the previous year it weighs in at 9.6%. Roasted malts, citrus orange peel on the nose. The mouth is similar, roasted malts, tastes of burnt brown sugar. Much stronger hop component here, big grapefruit and orange peel flavors. A warming sensation throughout. Very nice, I actually think I might like this one more, but that could just be my preference for the hops. This one gets an A- from me.