Monday, August 31, 2009

Quick Hits: Monday Edition

Just a couple of things on this Monday.
First this funny comic on "micro" beer that a friend sent me. It got a chuckle:

- Secondly a friendly reminder that this Friday is Session Time. Unfortunately due to my work schedule and lack of ability to have a beer I'll be unable to participate in having a Summer beer this week. But rest assured I'll do my best to report back on the round up.

- Lastly again due to my work schedule I wasn't able to make it out to the great events this past weekend, however Ronnie Crocker over at the Houston Chronicle has a brief write up on the wonderful beer tasting at Block 7 Wine Co.

Boulevard Saison

One of the latest of Boulevards Smokestack series to make it to our great state is this outstanding Saison. In fact I believe this has me trying all of their series at least all the ones that are in this state. Hopefully we'll get more including their Brett version of this beer.
The Beer: This Saison weighs in at 6.2% relatively light compared to others from their special series. It pours a pale golden straw color with at hick frothy bright white head of foam. The nose is biscuity and pale malts, white pepper, yeast, fruit, peaches, and a bit of earthy hay. The mouthfeel is bright and effervescent. Notes of white pepper, pale malts, lavender, yeast, candied sugar, some honey, peaches, and just a bit of lemon zest. Refreshing, tart, and tangy all come to mind with just a bit of sourness, not over powering barnyness, but an underlying sense of things. The finish is dry and crisp with a cereal graininess. The finish almost reminds of a Fino Sherry. A great beer that gets a B+ from me. Here's what the folks at BA had to say.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Saint Arnold Divine Reserve 6

Thinking about the imminent arrival of the newest edition to Saint Arnold's Divine Reserve series made me thirsty. What better way to quench my thirst than to see how a DR was aging. Divine 6 is a barleywine. I've posted on this beer twice before. The original post was on June 12th so yes this beer is slightly over a year old. When I tried it a second time in October of last year it had aged pretty well, but how would it do now? I was eager to find out. As with everything I've cellared I am using my wine fridge keeping it at slightly cool temperatures of 55-60 deg F.
The Beer: As a refresher this one weighs in at 10%. It pours a cloudy chestnut brown with a dense good sized taupe colored head. The nose still shows that those hops are still strong, but there is a rich maltiness with hints of caramel, vanilla, butterscotch, figs, and raisins. The mouthfeel is chewy, hops are still strongly present, but the other malty and dark fruit flavors have become stronger as well. There's an earthyness to the beer along with flavors of caramel, butterscotch, figs, rich vanilla bean, and a complexness that gives this beer an almost bourbon like quality. Its smooth and worth taking the time to sit down with some good cheese, a good book, and sip. If that doesn't make you content I'm not sure what will. Not only has this beer aged wonderfully, it has a lot more time to age. Drink now, drink later, either way you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Lot's going on

I'm not sure why, but evidently this coming weekend is popular for planning beer related events as we have a flood of beer fun heading our way. There are three very different, but all very exciting beer events going on around our fair city this weekend.
- First event is at the recently reviewed and recently opened Block 7 Wine Co. This Saturday from 12 pm to 3 pm they will be hosting a Beer for Wine Lovers tasting. They will be tasting 4 different Belgian beers Saison Dupont, Biere de Miel, Cuvee Rene, DeuS Brut des Flandres, picking each of these as they are beers that would really open up the mind of a wine drinker. All of these beers will be available at Block 7 for purchase by the bottle or the case. The best part? The event is free. Before heading to the next event, I have spoken with the folks at Block 7 and they have new beer glass ware (yay no more shaker pints!).

- The next event on Saturday takes over to Anvil Bar and Refuge where Bobby and the gang will be hosting a Beer and Cheese pairing starting at 4 pm. They will be pairing 5 very unique beers with different cheeses. This one's not free, the charge is $55.00. Contact the bar for ticket information.

- If you haven't had enough beer related fun on Saturday, Gingerman will be hosting a Sam Adams Imperial Tasting. Sam Adams rep Matt Ludlow will be pouring all three of the Sam Adams new Imperial beers and discussing each one. The cost will is $11.25 and reservations are recommended.

All in all a pretty strong weekend of beer related fun. Unfortunately due to work obligations I may or may not be able to participate in the fun. So if you do go to any of the events let me know how they go.

Stone 13th Anniversary

You know I like me some anniversary beers. Whatever it is, the breweries seem to do a really good job with these beers. Stone is no different with their 13th Anniversary brew. This is the first one we've gotten in Texas and from all reports its flying off the shelves at the local stores. This beer is an Imperial Red Ale. So I would expect lots of hops with some strong maltiness.
The Beer: This one weighs in at 9.45% and pours a dark amber with bright red streaks shining through. Capped by a dense head of cappuccino colored foam. Hops citrus peel, grapefruit, biscuits, malt and caramel all on the nose. Mouthfeel is chewy, creamy, hoppy, resiny. There are notes of dark rye bread, pine, woodiness. When it warms a bit I taste raisins, dark dried fruits, and an earthiness. Its very bready, malty. However all these flavors take a back seat to the hops (as expected). They are all there of course but lay under a thick blanket of resinous hops. Very nice. This one gets a B+ from me. Here's what the folks at BA have to say.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pike Double IPA

A month or so ago a friend of mine went up to Seattle where they departed for an Alaskan crew. While she was away she asked me and my wife to watch her house, water her plants, etc. As a thank you they cooked us dinner, and brought back some beer's from the Seattle area. This one from Pike was one of them. Now we get most Pike beer's in this area, but not this one, its special brew so I was pretty excited that she thought to pick it up for me.
The Beer: This one weighs in at 8% abv and 80 IBU. It pours a cloudy orange with a good sized off white frothy head. The nose is of grapefruit and citrus peel, biscuity, marmalade. The mouthfeel has lots of carbonation, citrus peel, creamy. Orange marmalade on toasted biscuits, apricots. Lots of tongue saturating bitterness with just the right amount of balance. A tasty beer, wish it was down here. This one gets an A- from me. Here's what the folks at BA think.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Up and Coming: Saint Arnold Edition

Saint Arnold's sent out their latest news letter a couple of days ago and announced a few exciting upcoming events.
- First a beer dinner hosted by Noe Restaurant at Hotel Omni. The date for the dinner is September 19th, and the cost is a not bad $59.00. Much cheaper than their last beer dinner and from the looks of the menu the food looks outstanding. Check the menu out here.

- Second announcement is that Saint Arnold's latest Divine Reserve, #8 will be released in stores on the 10th of September. As a reminder this is a strong Scotch Ale brewed by the winner of the BBBB contest. It will go quickly so make sure to get to your local store early.

Session Black

Sometimes you just need a beer to drink. Not sip, not sit around contemplating all the nuances, not an alcohol bomb, or hop bomb or malt bomb. A beer, simple, but good. That's what this beer is. A few years back Full Sail brewing debuted Session, packaged in stubbies it was a rather delicious session beer (hmm wonder how they came up with the name). Now they have debuted a black version of the popular Session. For the record I don't county anything that weighs in at 5.4% a true session beer, those really need to be in the 4.0 - 4.5% range.
The beer: This one pours a deep dark brown with a thick slightly off white head. The nose is rich and malty caramelly, bready. The mouthfeel is light and crisp. Notes of malt, caramel, bready, a bit of coffee. Head retention is pretty weak and not long into drinking its gone altogether. On the positive side this leaves a creamy smooth beer behind. Easy drinking, smooth, with some rather pleasant roasted malt notes. A good solid if not quite session beer. It gets a B from me. Here's what the folks at BA think.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Brew Dog Paradox

So far my experience with Scotland's Brew Dog brews have been an up and down experience. However, I'm an experimenter and I want to enjoy Brew Dog's beers, because I really like the sound of some of the things they are doing over there. Luckily for us the Houston market has more of their beers like this one Paradox, an Imperial Stout aged in Oak Barrels. There are multiple batches, each aged in a different type of barrell and different type of whiskey. This particular one was aged in barrels from the Isle of Arran.
The Beer: This one weighs in at 10% and pours a deep rich black with a quarter inch head with a frothy milk chocolate colored head. Poured into my new Dogfish head goblet. The nose is of chocolate, oak, vanilla. The mouthfeel is lighter than expected, like milk chocolate, but bitter dark chocolate, roasted malts, coffee beans. Other notes of oak, vanilla, cinimon, coco. The head dissapears relatively quickly, but the mouthfeel stays silk smooth coating and sliding along and around the tongue. Very little alcohol in the mouth. As it warms just a bit of the whiskey shows up, but its not unpleasant instead it gives a nice warmth. This is a beer that makes me happy Brew Dog is on the scene. This gets a B+ from me. See how the folks at BA feel.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Quick Hits: Tuesday Edition

Just two notes from the world of beer today.
- The Brewer's association has released their Mid-Year Craft Brewing numbers. Beyond the charts and figures that are in this report, there is one statement that really stood out for me:
The U.S. now boasts 1,525 breweries, the highest number in 100 years when consolidation and the run up to Prohibition reduced the number of breweries to 1,498 in 1910. "The U.S. has more breweries than any other nation and produces a greater diversity of beer styles than anywhere else, thanks to craft brewer innovation," Gatza added.
That last bit may be a bit of hyperbole, but to me it still amazing. From just 30 years ago when we had barely a hundred breweries to where we are now and where we continue to go, is awesome. And like I said above it my be hyperbole, but I believe that we do produce more styles than any other country. I also think that America is the BEST place in the world to get good beer. I'm not talking best beer culture that's a different argument, I'm only talking the fact that you can come here and get any type of beer that you want. We are no longer a country that drinks the weak yellow fizzy stuff.

- Next and last note is that the next Session has been announced. The monthly virtual beer tasting event is hosted by The Better Beer Blog, the theme is Summer Beers. From the announcement:
Summer Beers. With the summer coming to a close, what was your favorite beer of the summer? It doesn’t even have to be from this summer. Is it a lager or maybe a light bodied wheat ale? Maybe you’re drinking anti-seasonally and are having a barleywine or Russian Imperial Stout. Why is this beer your favorite? Is there a particular memory associated with this beer? How about a city? Maybe there was a particular dish that made this beer memorable? Spare no detail.
I can't tell you how excited I am for this session. First its getting back to just beer which was necessary, secondly living in hot sweltering Texas, I have a special place in my heart for summer beers. Post date will be Fri Sept 4th.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Flying Saucer 9th Anniversary

As I've mentioned quite a few times lately, yesterday was the 9th anniversary of the Houston Flying Saucer. Saucer, along with Gingerman I think really helped introduce craft beer to Houston. Since then many others have joined in the call and are helping to turn Houston into a craft beer city. Yesterday though, was a day to celebrate the Saucer and that's just what I did, spending the major portion of my day there, tasting quite a few beer.
Allagash Curieux: A Belgian Style Triple aged in Bourbon barrels from Kentucky. Served in a tulip shaped glass full of hazy orange liquid capped by a thick white head. The nose was orange and citrusy a bit of honey and a bit of oaky. The mouthfeel is creamy, a little alcohol, oak, a bit of bourbon, but mostly the crispness, citrusy, honey, and floral notes that I expect in a good triple.
Real Ale 13th Anniversary: Not part of the Anniversary Taps, but I had to try it. This one is a hybrid Belgian style amber. It's toasty, caramelly, effervescent in the mouth. Biscuity. Very easy drinking, but complex as well. This is not a hop bomb, but instead a toasty, biscuity beer a sipper that makes you think.
Harpoon Leviathan Big Bohemian Pilsner: I was a HUGE fan of Harpoons Leviathan IPA so I was pretty excited to try this one. Weighs in at 9% and poured a clear bright yellow with a thick white foamy head. Bready, toasty, cereals and grains, some hops. The mouthfeel is light for such a big beer. For whatever reason I expected lots of hops, but they really weren't there. Its just a big pilsner, and that's a good thing. Big cereals, and grains, toasty, apples, grapes even. A great pilsner.
Monks Cafe: A new sour ale from Belgium, this one weighs in at 5.5%. It poured a dark reddish brown with at thick dense white head. The nose is sour cherries, vanilla, yeasty, and some funkyness. Lots of carbonation, sour cherries, yeasty and bready. Notes of vanilla, that brings an interesting sweet, sour combination. This was a really good beer, an easy drinking low alcohol sour session beer.
Moylans Moylander Double IPA: Finally Moylan's brewery is in Texas! And its beers like this that make me happy they are. This DIPA weighs in at 8.5% and poured a cloudy orange with a thick white head. Hops explode on the nose grapefruit, marmalade, toasty. The mouthfeel is chewy feeling like I have a mouthfull of hop cones. There are notes of marmalade, grapefruit rind, some biscuity flavors, white pepper. Its sticky and resiny across the tongue keeping that hoppy bitterness in your mouth long after you finished the beer.
Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout: Brooklyn's Imperial Stout that weighs in at 10.6%. Not surprisingly this one pours a deep dark chocolate black with a cafe colored head. Raisins coffee, espresso and dark chocolate are all on the nose. The mouthfeel is creamy and dense. Notes of licorice, toffee, chocolate, burnt beans, espresso. There is also an acidity to this beer, that gives it an almost wine-y dry finish. Very good, a little alcohol on the finish, but a fine sipping beer. I hope this comes to our fair market in bottles this winter.

All in all this was a wonderful day to celebrate the Saucer's Birthday. The crowd was pretty enthusiastic and a lot of people just came and went throughout the day. Although some made it from 11:30am to 9:30 pm (not me). I got to meet not only some folks from the Saucer, but a few other "beer folks" around Houston. So to those that I did meet, it was great seeing you.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Gulden Draak

Texas is becoming a great place for craft beer. Not only does it seem that some brewery from around the states is coming into Texas but we are getting new imports as well. One of the newer ones is from Brouwerij Van Steenberge in the Belgium. We are actually lucky to get mutliple different beers from this brewery. This particular one is a dark brown Triple Ale, which as their website says is the exception to most triples. Most triples are golden in color.
The Beer: This triple weighs in at 10.5% and pours a rbuy brown with at hick pillowy dense head of slightly off white foam. The nose is fruity and yeasty, brown sugar, raisins, malty. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, good carbonation, sweet, figs, malt, raisins, caramal, fig tart. A slight earthy hoppiness. Candied figs. Good beer, slightly sweet. This one gets a B+ from me. Here's what the folks at BA have to say.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Quick HIts: Tuesday Edition

Unlike most times I post a quick hits, I actually have quite a bit of other things to blog about, however very little time at the moment so I figured a perfect chance to get everyone caught up on a few things.
- First, Ronnie Crocker of the Houston Chronicle was at the Lunar Rendezbrew XVI hosted by the Bay Area Mashtronauts. This is a wonderful Homebrew competition featuring a ton of great beers.

- Yes I missed The Session. I was so focused on my beer dinner, I didn't get a chance to post anything. However if you want to see my thoughts on beer and dessert check out my post from the beer dinner. I'll post a link to the round up and info on the next session as soon as it's released.

- Lastly, this Sunday is the 9th anniversary of the Houston's Flying Saucer. It will be a great party and the Saucer will be tapping 9 different beers over the course of the day. Here is a sample of some of the beers they'll be tapping: Monk's Cafe, a Stone Porter firkin spun with Vanilla, Allagash Curieaux, and Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, Dogfish Burton Baton and Harpoon Bohemian Pilsner. Looks to be a pretty amazing list of beers, especially when you consider this isn't the complete list! I'll be there at least for a major portion of the day.

Monday, August 10, 2009

First Beer Dinner

Readers of the blog know that I'm a staunch advocate of beer and food. In fact I've gone on record saying that there is no other beverage (yes including wine) that pairs as well with food as beer does. For a long time now I've been throwing around having my own beer dinner, friends have asked for it, but for one reason or another I've put it off. Well putting off has stopped and last Saturday I hosted my first ever beer dinner. It was a small dinner with myself, my wife, and three of our friends. 4 courses, each paired with a specific beer.
Course 1 - Gougeres with salad paired with Boulevard Brewing Two Jokers: My wife and I call Gougeres cheesey puffs which in their simplest form I guess that's what they are. These made with grueyere and plated with a salad of arugula, roasted tomatoes and a mustard vinaigrette. The beer? Well I just had this one and thought it would pair well with the strong cheese, and hold up to the vinaigrette. I wasn't disjointed as I thought this was an incredibly strong pairing.
Course 2 - Beer Battered Fried Quail, Biscuits with Homemade Jalepeno Jelly paired with Saint Arnold's Brown Ale: Not only did I pair the food with SA's Brown Ale, but I used it for the beer batter as well. This was probably my favorite pairing of the night. Maybe it was using the beer in the batter as well as the glass, but the rich maltiness of the Brown ale paired incredibly well with the richness of the Quail while at the same time offering a nice contrast to the slight heat of the jalapeno jelly.
Course 3 - Catfish Cakes on a bed of Summer Squash paired with Real Ale's Full Moon Rye Pale Ale: My take on crab cakes, uses much cheaper catfish, is baked and stays really moist. Its one of my favorite recipes that I've picked up recently. There was some heat in the Catfish Cakes that the Pale Ale stood up very well too. The breadiness of the rye complimented the cake as well. While not the strongest paring of the night, the two complimented each other that it was still a hit.
Course 4 - Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Raspberry Coolie paired with Lindeman's Framboise: Finished the evening with somewhat of a classic pairing, a fruit pairing with a Lambic. While not my favorite beer, Lambics are great desert beers and offer a wonderful tartness to the palate. It was that tartness that played off the buttermilk panna cotta beautifully well. This was a great pairing and an awesome way to finish the evening.

The Future: Well all in all this was a fun event, and I am already planning my next dinner (sometime in the fall). Next time? Make sure I always have a Texas beer in the mix, try some unusual pairings, and pictures. I promise next time I'll have pic's of each course.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Boulevard Two Jokers Double Wit

I'm always happy to see a new beer from Boulevard's Smoke Stack Series. These bottle conditioned beers all served in a 750 ml Champagne style bottle with cork and cage are amazing beers. I've had their DIPA, Quad, and most others, but recently two new beers arrived to my local Spec's. Their Saison and this one, the Double Wit. I always find it amusing to see beer styles circulate and become popular. Lately this style the Double Wit is seeming to be everywhere.
The Beer: This one weighs in at 8%, while not high for some beers, for a wit its up there. It pours a honey orange cloudy yellow color with a thick dense head of white foam. The nose is full of orange and spice (lots of corriander), floral, honey suckle, and a hint of lavender. The mouthfeel is full and effervescent, bright, citrus-y, orange, corriander, honey, flowers, and again a hint of lavender. Very little alcohol here which has been my complaint about double or imperial wit's in the past is that higher alcohol ones really show through. This one is easy to drink. As it warms slightly it becomes spicier with cardomon and corriander and white pepper. Very tasty, very drinkable, each sip leaves me wanting. This one gets an A- from me. Here's what the folks at BA had to say.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Quick Follow Up: MSNBC Beer Summit?

I know I know three posts in one day, but I hadn't realized that a follow up had been written until today, but alas it has and I felt the need to not only post a link, but to discuss it. What am I talking about? Well last week James Dlugosch of MSNBC wrote what I called a pretty ignorant article regarding beer. Well he has posted an apology of sorts. I say of sorts, because it seems like he does it rather begrudgingly.
He starts off well stating:
I would have been much better served making my point by specifying that the big-name beers made by the large brewers taste the same -- and they do, as far as I am concerned. My mistake was suggesting that microbrews and varietals taste the same.
Well that is not at all what he said. He in fact specifically mentioned microbrewer's in the paragraph talking about all beer tasting the same. A recap if you will:

Despite what the microbrewers will tell you, all beer is pretty much the same. Consumers who pay a premium do so more for the experience than the taste.
But let's not stick to that topic, let's instead move on to what his point is, which its not that all beer tastes the same, its that Micro Brews can't make money and will go out of business he explains:
While it may be true that the microbrewers craft a wonderful-tasting product, it's not so certain that they make money.
I find that quote funny especially coming off the recent news of Saint Arnold's 22.9% increase in production. Pair that with the fact that the craft beer market continues to have double digit growth and I don't understand how the author can make that statement. Yes there is really only one craft brewery that is traded on the Stock market, Sam Adams (SAM), but that doesn't mean other's aren't making money. Brewers like Stone, Dogfish, New Belgium Saint Arnold's, and many others are making money. Are they making Billions? No, but I don't think they want to.
Mr. Dlugosch misses this point as well with this statement:
Specifically, can they make money, or are we forever destined to the very large and the very small?
Can't a brewery make money while at the same time staying "small" and local? Whats wrong with trying to stay local. Saint Arnold's has grown tremendously the last few years, however, any time you talk to owner Brock Wagner he continues to state he has no plans to move outside of Texas. If he can make money, whats wrong with that? Nothing in my mind.
I appreciate Mr Dlugosch's apology, but can't help feeling that he is still incredibly ignorant about the craft beer scene and what it means. He says he wants to have a beer summitt. I'd gladly take him up on it, have a craft beer and discuss the Craft Beer industry and that you don't have to be multinational global domineering company to make money. You can be local, small, regional, and still make a buck (or two).

Otter Creek Imperial IPA

Otter Creek is a new brewery to Houston, but I've been trying a lot of their beers lately. Some have been good, others just OK. However, being on the look out for hoppy beers and having heard tales of Otter Creeks DIPA I was ecstatic to see it on the shelves of my local Spec's. Let's check the stat's shall we? 4 different hop varietals: Bravo, Apollo, Amarillo, and Simcoe. 11% ABV. 135 IBU's. Let me repeat 135 IBU's. Now this isn't measured so I'll take it with a grain of salt, but still, DFH 120 min IPA is 120 IBU's. If you've read this blog you know I love hops, but can I take this? I aim to find out.
The Beer: It pours a copper orange with a thick dense whipped creamy white head. I can smell the hops even before I lean my nose over the class. It hits me in waves, singeing my nose with its fumes. Its resiny, oranges, piney, marmalade. The mouthfeel is thick, great carbonation, its like chewing a mouthfeel of hop flowers. After the initial sip I have to take a deep breath to clear my senses from the attack of hops. The attack to my tastebuds thankfully broken up by the strong levels of carbonation. My senses cleared I go back to the glass for more, taking a smaller sip this time. Its resiny, over the top so, but I start to make out hints of orange marmalade, apricots, citrus peel, white pepper. Its sticky in the mouth. There is no malt balance here. This beer doesn't need stinking balance, I feel it saying loudly. My tongue is shocked into submission, not able to take any more, but I can't help myself and once again reach for the glass sipping this nectar. Yes its intense, yes its over the top, yes there is no balance, but somehow, for some reason it works. Maybe not masterfully, but it is an experience to be sure. This gets a B from me. Here's what the folks at BA had to say.

First Look: Block 7 Wine Co.

This past weekend was White Linen Nights in the Heights. It's a fun night of walking around the Heights area in Houston visiting antiques, restaurants, bars, etc. There's also periodic kiosk's serving Saint Arnold's beer! Its a great night and fun to go with a group of friends. Which is what my wife and I did, but before heading to the event we stopped at the new wine shop/restaurant Block 7 Wine Co off of Shepherd right before you get to Washington Avenue. The place is broken up in to two almost separate places. When you walk in the front door of the restaurant on your left is a glass wall where the wine shop is. My wife and I, arriving a little early headed over there to check out the selection. The wines spread from Germany, to Spain, to California, to yes even Texas. All are chosen for their quality and price, and each wine is tasted by each employee. They currently have around 250 wines, but expect at some point in the future to up it to 500. They sell not only wine, but have a solid selection of craft brews. Unlike a lot of wine places in Houston that do retail and service, there is no corkage fee. So if you have a $25.00 bottle of wine and you want to have it in the restaurant its $25.00, which is pretty nice. A great wine selection, good prices and the additional fact of being able to also buy beer makes this part a winner
Once our friends arrived we headed over to the restaurant. The menu is eclectic with French Bistro type food paired with California food, with Italian food. Somehow this all works. My wife had the amazing Block 7 Burger that was perfectly cooked slightly red in the middle. Juicy and messy. I chose the Sloppy Guiseppe, basically a sloppy joe with Venison. This was absolutely wonderful, the shredded venison popped in the mouth and was rich and flavorful, was juicy and well seasoned. Our friend had the Croque Monsier which was also fabulous. To drink my wife and friend got a glass of white wine, and were helped out in their selection by the very knowledgeable staff. I had a beer of course. Its a pretty large selection, I'd peg it at around 30+ choices, everything from Korbinian Dopplebock (my choice) to Dale's Pale Ale to Chimay to Dogfish Head 90 minute ale. All in all a great selection. The other thing that surprised me was that in talking with our waitress she seemed knowledgeable about beer as well as wine. In most of these places they treat beer as second class, and don't seem to train their staff in beer nearly as much as wine. For the most part it doesn't seem that this is the case of Block 7. Notice I do say 'for the most part', which brings us to my one big complaint. All beer, no matter what you purchased seemed to be served in Shaker pints, which as a beer lover is just about the worst glass you can serve certain beers in. They do nothing to enhance your enjoyment of the beverage or helping to capture the smells and flavor of your favorite ale. Higher gravity beers need to be served in snifters or tulips not shaker pints, if you must, keep those for pale ales, lagers, wit's, basic stouts and porters.

In summary, I think Block 7 is an welcomed addition to the crowded wine retail shops in Houston. It's got enough difference between other places to stand out and probably has some of the best food that I've tasted. Its more complex than pizza and paninni's. I'm excited to go back and check out the rabbit loin flat bread, more beer, and some of the more interesting wine choices. As this was my first look at the place I'll probably be posting on this place again over the next couple of months and let you know if my first impression changes.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Quick Hits Monday Edition

Its the first day of the week and I sit here feeling the need to post something, but feeling somewhat too lazy to post anything original. I guess that's why they made quick hits, an excuse for me to point towards other peoples hard work (while always giving them credit) and making me feel better for posting. So here's some tasty quick hits with a promise of original entry tomorrow.

The first two notes actually comes from the same source.
- First we have a really great article from this weekends Chronicle as Ronnie Crocker writes about Phillip Kaufman. Before you ask who? let me explain. Mr. Kaufman is the winner of the BBBB home brew contest, and who's recipe Saint Arnold's is turning into the next Divine Reserve. Mr. Crocker writes a fun article on how Kaufman got into homebrewing.

- The second is a blog entry by the aforementioned Ronnie Crocker with some awesome news about Houston's own Saint Arnold Brewing. For the first 6 months of 2009 Saint Arnold's production volume is up 22.9% from the same period last year. That is some awesome stellar growth from Houston's brewery. Especially when you consider they are running 24 hrs a day at full capacity. I'm sure they can't wait to move into that new brewery.

- The last note is a reminder. Friday is the first of one of August which means its Session Time. The theme is Beer Desserts. Don't forget!