Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Real Ale Sisyphus

I always look forward to the release of Real Ale's outstanding Barleywine. So much so, that I immediately go out and buy a bunch of bottles so that one day in the future I can do a multi-year vertical and see how well these things hold up. But that tasting is for later, today we talk about the most recent vintage of Sisyphus.
The Beer: It pours an orangish copper with a good dense head of off white foam. The nose is hoppy, citrus, grapefruit, raisins, malty. The mouthfeel is full bodied, hoppy, grapefruit peel, balanced with strong caramel malty flavors. Raisins, vanilla, toffee, almost a bourbony quality. There is a slight metallic taste to the beer. Sticky. It works towards balancing hoppy with malty sweetness. I must say that this vintage is not my favorite, but I will be interested to see how well this holds up. This one gets a B from me.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Camp Beer: Excursion #2

Today was the day, a day I have been excited about since I received the announcement that Camp Beer II was going to occur. You may remember how awesome Camp Beer I was. Well Camp Beer II promised more of the same. The Camp Beer events are part of the Live It Big charity that assists small and start-up charities to grow by raising money for them throughout the year. They also host a Cocktail Camp. The Idea behind Camp Beer is to bring to the beer lovers of Houston, hard to find and very sought after beers, many not available in this city. The event is hosted by Kevin Floyd, beer man and co-owner of Anvil Bar and Refuge. He put together the list of beers for the tasting, organized it, and was in charge of telling us a little about each one, along with answering any questions the folks may have about beer in general. For this Camp Beer there were about 20 or so folks, getting the opportunity to taste 21 beers. Below are my notes on the beer tasted in the order we tasted them (unless stated otherwise these beers are not available legally in Texas).

Uncommon Brewers Siamese Twin: This first ale from a Santa Cruz California was our only beer to be packaged in a can. This was an unusual 8.5% Belgian Dubbel style ale brewed with keffir lime, coriander, Thai spices, and lemon grass. It poured an orangish color with a slightly off white head. The nose was of lime, spices, pale malts, and yeasts, even some lemon grass. The mouth was not as promising as the nose was. Medium bodied, crisp, clean, but sweetness, slight burn and grainyness. Some off flavors here that may be from the all the different spices not coming together in a cohesive manner.
Russian River Temptation: This was the first of 3 different Russian River beers we were able to taste. A blonde ale aged in Chardonnay barrels with Brettanomyces and weighs in at 7.25%. It poured a hazy blond with a good size white head. Sourness on the nose, oaky, yeasty, some wineish notes as well. Sour tart and effervescent on the mouth. Slightly acidic, finishes very dry. Really enjoyed this beer, as a wonderful example of what wine barrel aging can do to a beer.
Lost Abbey Duck Duck Gooze: Due to my limited contact with Lost Abbey beers this was one of the ones I was looking forward to the most. A gooze (essentially an unflavored lambic ale) that weighs in at 7.0% it pours a hazy golden color with a small white head. Sour yeasty smelling that was shockingly sour on the first sip. Medium mouthfeel, sourness of course, notes of white pepper, lemon citrus notes, good blend of light malts, some sweetness as well that along with the counteracting sourness creates a wonderfully balanced beer. Very enjoyable.
Southern Tier Pumking: The first of many Southern Tier beers we tasted during this session. This one is an Imperial Pumpkin ale that weighs in at 9.0%. It pours a bright orange color and smells of pumpkin, let me reiterate that, it smells of PUMPKIN! And pie spices, although from the label I can't tell that they used any or not, but it reminded me more of pumpkin bread than pumpkin pie. There is some alcohol here, but its not over the top, instead adding a nice pleasant brandyish flavor to the brew. Very enjoyable brew, that I hope I can find next fall.
Dogfish Head Fort: The first beer from Delaware's Dogfish head, is also the first beer that is available in Texas. A brew made with raspberries this one weighs in at a robust 18.0%. It pours an amberish color and smells of tart raspberries. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, but its very sweet, fruity, raspberries, tartness, strong notes of alcohol. This one is meant to age for 3 to 5 years and this one was about 2 years old and definitely needed some more time. This has never been one of my favorite DFH beers but it was interesting to try one aged.
Alesmith Anvil ESB: A huge fan of this San Diego area brewery, but never have had the chance to try their bottle conditioned ESB before. It pours a nice coppery color with a good creamy off white head. There is some caramel notes, earthiness, malts on the nose that leads me to believe this is definitely going to be a English style pale ale. The mouthfeel is way overly carbonated leading to me not being able to discern many more flavors, maybe some caramel, some earthy floral hops, but not any strong flavors. My tablemates and I wonder if the bottle is bad. I will look for this again to see if it was just one bottle or if this was what was intended.
Bear Republic XP Pale Ale: A second beer that's available in our city, this is an Exception Pale Ale that weighs in at 5.4%. It pours a light golden color with a thin white head. Citrusy hoppy nose, caramel, malts. Earthy hops, some citrus notes, some sweet caramel and malts on the tongue. Very smooth, tasty, and incredibly drinkable, almost sessionable.
Russian River Damnation: A beer that I am familiar with, I was none the less excited to try it again, this is Russian River's take on the well known Duvel. It weighs in at 7.75% and pours a pale golden color. The flavor is just as I remember it, light lemony scents, bready yeasts, grassy, candied sugar. Crisp, clean, oranges, spices, some corriander flavors from the yeast. Great beer.
Ise Kadoya Genmai Ale: This was a beer that I was extremely excited to try. The brewery is based out of Japan and after many years of making other things (soy sauce and miso mainly) they decided to get into brewing. This particular brew is a Pale Ale made with brown rice and weighs in at 5.0%. It pours a cloudy coppery with a thin white head. There is a brown rice hint to the nose and I wish that I could say it lived up to my admittedly unfounded expectations, but it did not. Both in flavor and smell myself and tablemates couldn't get over a wet cardboard or urinal cake smell to the beer. Disappointing.
Port Brewing Wipe Out IPA: Another brew that I was looking forward to, and this one did live up to expectations. Weighing in at 7.)5 the beer poured a pale golden color with a good white head. Grapefruit on the nose with very little malt backbone. Medium mouthfeel, this one is all about celebrating the hops. Great amounts of grapefruit and citrus peel, almost sticky. I could sit down a big bottle of this and be extremely happy.
Mayflower IPA: The placement of this beer in the tasting was an excellent choice by Kevin to highlight the differences between a West Coast IPA and an East Coast IPA like this one. Weighing in at 7.0% just as with the Wipeout its a completely different beer. Copper colored with an off white head, the nose is of sticky malty caramel, earthy floral hops. The mouthfeel is a little fuller, more malty, more balanced, but still achieving a slight hoppy resiny finish. Very good well balanced IPA.
Russian River Salvation: This was our last brew from Russian River, a dark Belgian beer. Weighing in at 9.0% its a rich dark brown beer with a white head. Malty, sour cherries, figs on the nose. Candied sugar figs and malts flavor this full bodied brew. Easier drinking though than I would have expected. Some sweetness, with figs and raisins, concentrated dark fruits. Good example of the style.
Three Floyds Moloko: This one is an 8.0% milk stout that pours a pitch black with a tan colored head. The nose is of dark roasted malts, some sweetness as well. The mouthfeel is creamy sweet malts, roasted coffee, coco, sweetness, very drinkable, hides the alcohol very well. A very drinkable beer.
Southern Tier Java: An 11.0% stout made with Blue Mountain coffee this beer pours a dense black with a good size head of cafe colored foam. The nose is of raisins, figs, coco, coffee. The mouthfeel is lighter than expected, creamy. Notes of raisins, figs, coffee, really great coffee flavor here. There is not a lot of burnt malt or burnt coffee flavors here that one has a tendency to get in a lot of coffee stouts. Done very well, maybe one of the best that I've had.
Foothills Sexual Chocolate: A coco infused Imperial Stout that weighs in at 9.75% abv 85 IBU's. Again pouring a pitch black with an almost reddish tinge to the tan head. The nose is of coco, malts, dark chocolate. The mouthfeel is thick and creamy. The brew starts off really well with dark bitter chocolate notes, roasted malts, espresso beans, but the beer finishes very acidic that I didn't really care for.
Southern Tier Hoppe: An imperial extra pale ale this one weighs in at 8.5% and poured a pale yellow. Very hoppy citrusy nose. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, flavors of green or fresh hops, pale malts, citrusy, bitter grapefruit pith. I'd call it a good IPA.
Southern Tier Creme Brulee: The last Southern Tier of the tasting. It weighs in at 10.0% and pours a very dark black with ruby red streaks. The nose...holy cow the nose, its smells of fresh baked cake, chocolate, vanilla, breadyness. The first flavor? Its LIQUID CAKE! Medium bodied, notes of vanilla, chocolate, creamyness. Its sweet, but its not cloyingly so. This would go so well with ice cream its ridiculous. Wonderful beer and after the ones I've tasted tonight I really need to get some Southern Tier beer.
Bell's Expedition Stout: This is my first run in with this Michigan brewery. Although I am familiar with their work, I've never had the chance to try their beers so I was pretty excited to do so at the tasting. This one weighs in at 10.5% and pours a very dark black with a cafe colored head. Dark chocolate, malts, raisins, on the nose. Full mouthfeel with some alcohol burn. Flavors of coffee, chocolate, raisins, roasted malts, creamy chewy goodness. A very good solid Imperial Stout I really enjoyed this one.
Great Lakes Barrel-Aged Blackout Stout: An oak aged stout weighing in at 9.0%? Yes please. This one pours a black with a taupe colored head, smelling of roasted malts, vanilla, oak. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, strong flavors of whiskey here. Although the label makes no mention of this being whiskey barrels that the beer was aged in, the folks at my table all agree, that there was. It was almost too strong, but still made for a pretty good beer.
Dogfish Head World Wide Stout: Another beer that I have had before, and frankly wasn't that excited about as my first time wasn't all that enjoyable. It pours a very dark brown almost black. Its portish on the nose, hints of vanilla, coco, raisins, malts, alcohol. Full bodied mouthfeel, raisins and figs, an almost sour tang at the finish. Sipping this, treating this beer like a port, I actually started to enjoy it this time around, which makes me happy that I have another bottle aging.
Surly Darkness: The last beer of the night, and of course the one I was really excited to try. I've heard lots about this brewery from Minesota, but never had the chance to try much from them other than quick tastes at GABF. This of course is their Imperial Stout that weighs in at 9.8%. It pours a dark deep black. The nose is of malts, chocolate, coffee, malts, smells like a package of whoppers. The mouthfeel is full, and it tastes like whoppers! Wonderful creaminess, chocolate, rich malts, vanilla. Rich, delicious, smooth, easy drinking for what it is. I really like this beer.

Another great event hosted by Cathy and her team at Live it big. Thanks to her and Kevin for an awesome evening of great beers. Can't wait till the next one. Not only are these fun for tasting beers, but they are great ways to meet fellow beer lovers in Houston. It was nice to meet all those folks today.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Fritz and Ken Ale

30 years ago this year a little brewery in Chico, California opened, their first beer was a shockingly (at the time) hoppy pale ale. That beer became a hit. The brewery of course is Sierra Nevada one of the pioneers in the craft beer movement and one that has made it through the good times and bad times of the movement with success. 30 years in the craft beer industry is just flat out amazing and is worthy of a grand celebration. In honor of their great birthday, SN is not releasing just one beer this year, instead they'll be releasing 4 different ones the first three collaborations or homages to other craft brewery pioneers. The four are as follows:
Fritz and Ken Ale: A beer guest brewed with Anchor Brewing owner Fritz Maytag, a strong stout. Release: Out Now.
Charlie, Fred, and Ken's Lager: Brewed with Home Brew pioneer and AHA founder Charlie Papazian, and beer writer Fred Eckhart, this one is an Imperial Helles Lager. Release Mid-May
Jack and Ken's Ale: Guest brewed with Jack McAuliffe the original craft brewer. Jack started New Albion largely credited as the first microbrewery in the country, unfortunately that brewery closed in 1982 but his legacy continues to live on. This beer is an American Barleywine brewed with 100% Cascade hops. Release: Mid July.
Brewers Oak-Aged Reserve: This one is a blend of SN's Pale Ale, Oak Aged Bigfoot, and Celebration and then dry hopped. Release: Mid-Oct.
The Beer: This stout weighs in at 9.2% and pours a deep dark black with a thick dense tan head of foam. The nose is of coffee, slightly burnt roasted malts, raisins, some alcohol, licorice. The mouthfeel is thick and creamy, almost syrupy, viscous. Notes of coffee, dark chocolate, licorice, raisins, figs, memories of dark chocolate covered espresso beans come to mind. Very little alcohol. My wife plants a small scoop of chocolate/chocolate chunk in to the last bit of beer in her glass and it seems a match made in heaven its so rich.
The beer IS rich, syrupy, but bitter with dark coco nib flavor. A delicious beer and worthy of celebrating this fine brewery. This one gets an A from me. Here's what the folks at BA think.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Beery Houston Happenings

30 MARCH UPDATE below!

There's a few things going on around Houston that I felt the need to point out.

- First up is a new note on Anvil Bar & Refuge. Fresh off an amazing anniversary party last Sunday, the crew there is continuing to give back to its customers. Starting this Saturday they will be doing half off all drafts starting from when they open at 5pm until 9pm. If it catches on with the customers, they may make this a weekly thing. So if you've been thinking Anvil's beer prices are too high, here is your chance to take advantage of some amazing beers at half off.
UPDATE: Spoke with Kevin Floyd at Anvil, they are continuing the Saturday Half off Drafts, however it is from 5pm to 8pm.

- A reminder that I'll be attending Beer Camp II this Sunday. Check out here for a list of the beers we'll be tasting. The ones that peak my personal interest? Lost Abbey Duck Duck Gooze, the Russian River beers, Southern Tier beers, Uncommon Brewery Siamese twin ale, and Surly Darkness. This should be a great event, one I've been prepping for (yep prep...its hard work!). I'll try and post my notes as soon as Sunday night on the event.

- Lastly another week another Saint Arnold's beer dinner. This time closer to where I live down in the Clear Lake Area. Local Houston Brewery has announced that next week on April 1 (nope its not April Fools!), Kemah restaurant The Flying Dutchman will be hosting a Saint Arnold's beer dinner. The dinner will be six courses, with beers paired with king crab cake, gumbo, shrimp and stuffed beef tenderloin, dessert will be bread pudding and Saint Arnold root beer. The cost is a very approachable $45. If you've been holding off on a Saint Arnold dinner due to the price then here is a great chance to go to one that is very reasonable. For reservations contact 281-334-7575

If anyone knows of other events coming up, let me know and I'll add them to the Events Calendar on the right hand side of the blog.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Brewdog/Stone Bashah

In honor of last week's BrewDog tasting at Petrol Station I picked up this beer from my local Spec's. Not the cheapest 12 oz beer in the world, but cheaper than many other's BrewDog offers. It also got my interest for being a collaborative beer with Stone Brewing. This brew is a 8.6% Black Belgian Double IPA.
The Beer: Pours a pitch black with a quarter inch taupe colored head. Notes of chocolate, malts, raisins, citrus. Medium mouthfeel, coco, roasted malts, some mild hop bitterness on the finish. As I sipped it, I really didn't get much hop presence, it honestly tasted a bit like a stout. However as I work through it, the hop flavors build in intensity and once you are finished your surprised that there is a tongue coating hop resin left behind. Slight grapefruit bitterness mixed with coco, dark roasted malts, and raisins. Slightly disappointed at the lack of Belgian ale qualities. Yes there is some dark fruit here, but its not what I would have expected in a strong dark Belgian ale. Its a good beer, but missing some complexity. Although a collaboration, this beer sums up my issues with BrewDog. They are staggeringly inconsistent, and I believe that instead of producing high alcohol publicity stunts they would be much better served producing a solid line up of beers. The publicity stunts will only let you last for so long, after the hype is over, there is nothing to go back to. This one gets a C+ from me. Here's what the folks at BA think.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Brew Dog night at Petrol Station

Last night Houston Beer mecca Petrol Station hosted Scottish brewer's Brew Dog. This was not just them coming to Petrol and talking beer. Oh yes they did that, but they also were pouring beers, including two very unique ones: Tactical Nuclear Penguin, and Sink the Bismarck the first weighing in at 36%, the other weighing in at 41%. I've not been kind to these beers because I think they are unnecessary gimmicks, from a brewery that for the most part has a relatively uneven line up of beers. However in fairness to the beer and the brewery I felt that I should make my way up to Petrol Station and try some of these brews. First, about the event. It was really great, there were tons of folks there, many fellow Houston Bloggers, Steve from All good beer, Chris, from Blog of an aspiring foodie, and Cathy host of the amazing and wonderful Beer Camp. Getting through the small crowded space at Petrol was a challenge but I started off with two of the beers that Petrol was pouring from Brew Dog, Hardcore IPA, a really good citrusy, piney IPA, and Paradox on cask, a thick syrupy stout aged in scotch barrels.
Around 8pm it was time for the main event folks started crowding around a table at the front of the bar, suddenly a man in a penguin outfit (sorry for the crappy picture, camera phone and it was dark) stood up on a table and we knew it was time. In a thick Scottish accent head brewer James Watt spoke about the two beers we were about to taste, us? We eagerly reached forward for the first pour of Sink the Bismark, a 41% IPA. Each of us was given very small pours, no more than a few sips each: here are my brief notes: Light amber color, notes of citrus and pine, alcohol burn, the mouthfeel is full bodied, on the tongue there is intense citrusy and piney notes, it tastes like beer, then the liquid makes it to the back of the tongue and down the throat and it BURNS, almost making me cough. Its intense yes, and I sure couldn't drink much of this, but it still tastes like beer, as Steve from All Good Beer said to me, you know where they are going and its a good place, it just needs some time.
After getting that beer down it was time for Tactical Nuclear Penguin a 36% barrel aged beer: This one was much darker, brown, malty notes, sweet caramel, vanilla and oak all on the nose again with some alcohol notes. The mouthfeel is syrupy, malty, but very alcoholic, and very disjointed, it seems to have lost its way, and frankly its not all that good, it has lost its beeryness for lack of a better word.
Surprisingly I rather enjoyed the 41% beer. I still feel that these are complete gimmick beers, and that Brew Dog would be better served creating a solid line up of wonderful beers than spending the time and effort it takes to create these alcoholic monsters. I do respect them for what they have done here, taking beer, amping it up to where they have and still keeping some beer qualities is quite simply amazing.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patrick's Day without Guiness

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! The day when the masses drink loads of green beer and dark Guinness. While I respect the history of Guinness and appreciate it for what it was, life is too short to drink mediocre beer, and Saint Patrick's Day is no exception. I'm not saying don't drink an Irish Dry Stout, by all means that's exactly what you should be drinking today, but there are some really fine examples, not only from our shores but from Ireland as well. All of these should be available in Houston
American Dry Stouts:
Avery Out of Bounds Stout
Harpoon Oyster Stout
Sierra Nevada Stout

Irish Stouts:
There are of course those that we all know: Murphy's, Guinness... however my favorite Irish Stout right now is from Irish Craft Brewery Carlow Brewing Company, maker of O' Hara's Dry Stout (we also get their Irish Red Ale, another very good beer. Whatever you do just don't dye it green). This Dry Stout is an incredibly rich, roasty dark black stout. Incredibly tasty, and if you want the full Guinness effect there are bars in the area that might have this on nitro. Regardless of what you drink, have a happy Saint Patrick's day.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Lost Abbey 2009 Gift of the Magi

Lost Abbey is one of those "cult" beers, beers that get folks all atwitter, especially some of their special releases, like Cuvvee de Tomme. I've had the opportunity to check their small brewery out, just outside of San Diego and tasted many of their outstanding brews. Unfortunately tasting their beers is a few and far between experience for me since they don't distributed to Texas. However they do to Denver so whenever I am in town visiting family I make a point to pick up something from them I haven't had. That's how I got this brew, their Christmas Seasonal Ale. The base of this beer is their Biere de Garde with Frankincense and Myrrh added and bottle conditioned with Brett.
The Beer: This beer weighs in at 10.0% and pours a gorgeous burnished amber with a quarter inch off white almost tan head. The nose is primarily of malts, with some mild barny notes, hops, lemony, and honey. Mouthfeel is chewy and dense. Malty is the first thing that comes to mind, then notes of honey, some citrusy grapefruit notes and a little bit of barnyness. But this barny taste is incredibly restrained and actually gives the beer a balanced counterpart to the malty sweetness. Sweetness is really what defines this beer, but there are notes of spice, clove, mustyness, candied fruit, cinnamon. All these other flavors, along with the addition of the Brett, really creates an outstanding counterpoint to the malty honey and caramel sweetness. Very drinkable, hides the alcohol very well. This gets a happy B+ from me. Here's what the folks at BA had to say.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Two More New Glarus Brews

This was a wonderful weekend in Houston. The weather was beautiful, and this ended up being a good beer weekend. As most of you know Anvil tapped a keg of wine barrel aged Real Ale Coffee Porter. I wish I could say it was earth shattering good, unfortunately it wasn't. It was still a great Coffee Porter, but I didn't (and neither did the 4 or 5 other folks I talked with) really get any barrel notes or wine notes. But alas it was a nice effort from the small brewery in Blanco Texas. I didn't get discouraged though, I had more New Glarus beers to try.
Hop Hearty: Claiming to be a Wisconsin IPA gets my attention right of the bat. Brewed with old and new world hops and additional dry hopping of Cascade and East Kent Goldings lends this to be a hybrid beer, between what one expects an American IPA to be and what an English IPA is. The beer pours an amber orangish color with a thick slightly off white head. The nose is of hoppy citrus, and caramel malts, some bready notes as well. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and hoppy. Citrus peel, earthy floral notes, caramel, breadiness, sweet pale malts. Very smooth and easy drinking, my hop headiness thinking this is more of a pale ale than an IPA, more British style, more restrained. Biscuity notes as the beer warms. A little more bitter than a traditional English pale ale, some more citrus-y notes. A good drinkable, dare I say sessionable beer. Gets a solid B from me. Here's what the folks at BA had to say.
Old English Porter: Having spoken to some beer folks about this beer, I have been pretty excited to try this one. This beer is brewed in what I imagine was a traditional sort of way. Per the website on the brew, their recipe is based on the research of one Graham Wheeler. The beer was made with multiple different malts including a small amount of smoked, half the batch went through a souring fermentation, then the whole beer was aged on wood. The beer weighs in at 5.5% and pours a rich brown with a quarter inch tan colored head. The nose was of richly roasted malts, oak, sourness and tartness, almost a tang to the nose. The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, and the sourness hits you with a right hook. It's tartness right off the bat, then subtle notes of roasted malts, slightly burnt coffee, vanilla show up. This is exactly what I would have expected a Porter to taste like some 100 plus years ago. The sourness, tartness, and out right tanginess hit you up front, but the other flavors are what lingers giving you the impression that you are drinking two different beers. Notes of chocolate show up as well. It's almost like drinking slightly sour chocolate milk, except it tastes much better than that description. Amazingly done, and gets an A from me. Here's what the folks at BA had to say.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Brooklyner-Schneider Hopfen-Weisse

A couple years back two brewers came together from different parts of the world with different philosophies and traditions in brewing. One was Garrett Oliver from the great Brooklyn Brewery, home to Local 1, and Local 2 as well as one of the best Imperial Stouts around. The other was Hans-Peter Dresler from Schneider and Sons brewery in Germany, home to one of the best wheat beers around as well as Aventinus. They came together to make two beers, one made in Germany, the other made in New York at the Brooklyn Brewery, creating two very unique beers. This beer is the one brewed in New York packaged in a champagne like bottle. Its a pale-weisse bock fermented with the Schneider house yeast, and dry hopped with Amarillo and Palisade Hops.
The Beer: This one weighs in at 8.5% and pours a honey golden color with a thick pillowy white head, instead of dissipating the head seems to continue to grow up over the lip of the glass. The nose is banana, fruity esters, hops, cloves, it smells of hoppy resins. The mouthfeel is thick and chewy. Tons of spice, cloves, cinnamon, bananas, hops, citrus. Very effervescent. Has a very dry finish that has become a Brooklyn hallmark. Just a little alcohol. The finish is bitter, some from hops, some from something else that I just can't place. As it warms it becomes creamier, but that bitterness on the finish just doesn't subside. Its not the citrus peel bitterness of hops its something else that's not all that pleasant honestly. This starts as a great beer that finishes a notch below. It gets a B from me. Here's what the folks at BA had to say.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Odell Mountain Standard Reserve 09

Yet another brew from Odell that I picked up while in Denver. This one is an interesting take on an IPA. First the hops while not unusual (Chinook and Cascade) where they are grown is. Instead of coming from the normal places of the Northwest (or Europe) these come from Odell's back yard. While not literally, figuratively at least having grown on the Western Slope. It's also double dry hopped to create a more intense beer. All packaged in a beautiful bottle with a great green label and capped with a champagne cork and cage (picture courtesy of Odell's website). Now you know the background let's get to tasting.
The Beer: This one weighs in at 8.5% and has 54 IBU's. It pours a dark ruby read with a thick dense head of cafe colored foam. Nose is hoppy, grapefruit, citrus peel. Chewy mouthfeel, hoppy at all points of the palate, start, middle, and finish. Some balanced malt flavors come forward, caramel, floral, bready, malty notes, cereal graininess even. Notes of cherry, vanilla, spices, almost a bourbon quality show up as it warms. I check the bottle again, nope no barrel aging, but the flavors seem to be there. Some sweetness in the final sips as it finishes warming, molasses even.
Intense hop flavor, I can't believe this beer is only 54 IBU's it seems twice that. Yes its intensely hoppy, but it comes off balanced when all is said and done. Really great beer that gets an A- from me. Here's what the folks at BA had to say.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Coffee Porter is Everywhere!

Well maybe not everywhere, but it will be served in a unique manner in two different places this week.

- First up, off of news from their Facebook page, Beer mecca, coffee house, and home of the Rancor Burger, Petrol Station will be tapping a keg of Real Ale Coffee Porter on Thursday March 4th. This isn't just any CP though, its a keg of wine barrel aged Coffee Porter! This sounds pretty awesome.

- But that's not all. The beer and cocktail place in Houston, Anvil Refuge and Bar sent out a press release over the weekend about a RA Coffee Porter Cask tapping this Saturday March 6th. Kevin Floyd and company will be tapping a fresh cask of the popular Coffee Porter aged in Oak Barrels.
UPDATE: Recieved an email clarification from the fine folks over at Anvil. The RA Coffee Porter being served on Saturday is the same that is being served at Petrol on the 4th: of wine barrel-aged coffee porter. These are the only two in the city, very rare opportunity to try this beer.

I must say I am pretty happy to see these two events being held in Houston. There are a couple of reasons why this is really good to see: 1) Simply put its great to see beer bars promoting traditional cask ale. 2) Its great to see beer bars offering beers that we are all familiar with, but served with a twist, 3) Lastly and probably most importantly, good beer and good beer bars are truly a symbiotic relationship. Bars like Anvil and Petrol support the local craft beer scene by putting Real Ale's, or 512, or Saint Arnold, or Southern Star on their tap wall, offering and discussing these beers with their patrons. In return though its nice to see some breweries offering special casks to these bars. This is something I've seen in other places around the country. Go look at the tap wall at Denver's Falling Rock, they get special one off casks regularly. Its nice to see this happening in Houston.