Monday, June 28, 2010

Haandbryggeriet Hesjeøl

As American's we tend to think that outside of Belgium we are the only countries making unique beer. Sure England makes some amazing brown ales, stouts, porters, barleywines, etc, and Germany is top notch when it comes to pilsners, Wheat beers, Bock's etc. But neither of these countries are necessrily known for pushing the boundaries (yes there are exceptions, I am speaking in generalities). But more than America and Belgium are making unique barrel aged sour's, or barrel aged anything, other countries are getting in on the fun as well. One of these countries is Norway. I've had beer's from Nogne brewery so I'm aware of some of the things that country is doing. Well during my last visit to Denver I saw another beer from Norway, this one from the hard to say and hard to spell Haandbryggeriet.
This is an interesting brewery, one that is run on a volunteer basis, yes that's right, they don't brew full time. Unexpectedly they are tiny, making 18 bbl at a time, housed in a 200 year old wooden building. Per their website it also seems like they are very environmentally aware. Reviewing their website they make quite a few beers for being so small, ranging from IPA's to Farmhouse ales to of course sour ales. The Hesjeøl that I picked up is a recreation of a Norwegian farmhouse ale made with rye, barley, and oats.
The Beer: This one weighs in at 7.0% and pours a cloudy hazy orange with a thick quarter inch head. The nose is malty, smokey, yeasty, candied sugars, white fruit. The mouthfeel is full and thick, fruity, grapes, pears, smokey finish, a bit of char, a bit of smoked meat. The flavors remind me of autumn if that makes sense. Slightly sweet, honey, flowers, smoked melon, very little alcohol. Some hop bitterness. Smokiness is more meaty less oaky. Candied sugars. It reminds me of a Belgian Pale ale combined with a rauchbier. Very good, very interesting that gets a B+ from me. The folks at BA like it as well.

Busy Houston Weekend

Well if you were a beer lover in Houston last weekend you had a great time. In the span of 4 days (Thurs - Sun) you had Houston's 1st (annual???) Firkin Fest, an amazing beer dinner at Vic and Anthony's and Camp Beer III.
Unfortunately due to other issues I couldn't make nearly as much of these events as I would have liked, hitting only the Petrol Station's leg of Firkin Fest on Saturday evening. Lucky for me and you, fellow beer bloggers around Houston did make it to some of these amazing beer events.
Checkout Houston Chronicle's Ronnie Crocker for some Camp Beer and Vic and Anthony's Dogfish Head Dinner highlights.
Steve over at All Good Beer has another detailed post on Camp Beer.

All in all this past weekend was an amazing one for Houston. From the reports I heard, every night of Firkin Fest was packed. From Anvil, to Flying Saucer, and then on to Petrol Station all were jammed packed with folks wanting to try unique cask ales. Events like this and the support they received shows that Houston has a strong craft beer scene, and its growing waiting for new things to experience.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Avery Depuceleuse

Avery is one of my favorite Colorado brewers. They make great standard beers available in six packs, great large bottle higher abv beers, and lastly they have started releasing an outstanding series of barrel aged wild ales. The first of these was released almost a year and a half ago. In Houston it was only available in bottle at a bar (you couldn't buy them at stores like Spec's). Since then all the other ones have been available at your local craft beer carrying store. Each of these beers are incredibly unique, aged in different barrels, different base styles, etc. The latest of this series Depuceleuse,(say that three times fast)is an ale brewed with 100% Brettanmyoces, sour cherries and aged in Red Wine barrels.
The Beer: This one weighs in at a hefty 9.5% and pours a ruby reddish brown with a thin white bubbly head. THe nose is sour, tart, oaky, funky, with some almost wine-ish notes. The immediate impression is an effervescence with a dry finish. More sips reveals a sour funky barnyard flavor, sour cherries, vanilla, sweet malts. With the good level of cabonation one can imagine a funky cherry-vanilla cola. At times its mouth puckering sour but at the same times it's not completely over the top. As it warms you get notes of tobacco, dark fruits. Throughout it all it hides its alcohol very well. Its sour, its funky but there is a nice balance to it that makes this beer appealing. This one gets an A- from me. Lots of love from the BA folks as well.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A pair of Fight Night Beers

As I do from time to time, I settled down Saturday night to watch some fights on TV. Nights like this are also a good excuse to pop open some new beers (well at least new to me) and last night was no different. Two breweries I'm very familiar with, but beers that I'd never had.
New Belgium Eric's Ale: Now I have actually had this beer, well at least a sample of it waaaay back in 2008 at GABF. This is part of New Belgiums ever expanding Lips of Faith, beers that are usually oak aged, and focus on traditional Beglian brewing methods. This one in particular is named for NB's brewer and is an oak aged sour made with peach juice. It weighs in at 7% and pours a pale pinkish color with a thin bubbly head. The nose is of the barnyard, hay, sourness, peaches, white fruit, grapes. The mouth is effervescent and medium bodied. Tart and sour, notes of cherries, vanilla, oak, reminiscent of a Cherry Sprite. Barnyard notes, hay, funky horse blanket. Peaches, peach bellini. The label says this is a sour beer for those that don't like sours and a fruit beer for those that don't like fruit beers. I gotta say I really dig this one. I do like sour beers but am not a huge fan of fruit beers and this has me wanting more. This one gets a strong A from me.
Boulevard Tank 7: Next up was this farmhouse ale from Boulevard brewing one of their outstanding Smokestack Series of beers. This one though is made with a ton of American hops which raised my eyebrows in interest almost immediately. It weighs in at 8.0% and pours a cloudy straw honey color with a thick dense head of white foam. The nose if of pale malts, grapefruit, and bready yeast. The mouth is vibrant, medium to full mouthfeel. Hoppy, full of grapefruits, pale toasted malts, bready grain, yeasty, chewy, slight peppery notes. Very yeasty, can a beer be doughy? Its good, but I want a little more oomph in this one. This one gets a good B+ from me.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Houston Firkin Fest

Wow, that's about all I can say at the news that I just recieved. I've known this was brewing (pardon the pun) for a while now, but its awesome to see the final details in print. What are you talking about you ask? Well a colloborative event between some of the best beer bars in Houston holding a three day Firkin (or cask) event, serving special, some never before seen, casks of beer. Over the dates of June 24 to June 26, Anvil Bar & Refuge, Flying Saucer, and Petrol Station will each host a night celebrating cask beer and tapping several different brews. Here's the line up:

Thursday, June 24 at Anvil
Tapping Time – 5pm

Featured Cask Ales:
Real Ale 2008 Barrel-Aged Sisyphus Barley Wine
Great Divide Espresso Oak-Aged Yeti
Surprise Cask

Friday, June 25 at Flying Saucer

Featured Cask Ales:
Avery Maharaja
Left Hand Twin Sisters
TBA: Specialty cask from Southern Star
At least one surprise cask

Saturday, June 26 at Petrol Station
Tapping Time – 4pm

Featured Cask Ales:
Moylan’s Dry Hop Hopsickle
Stone Sublimely Self Righteous Dry Hop
Stone Double Dry Hop Ruination
St Rose Dry Hop Red Ale
Stash IPA

Now that my friends is a great list of beer. I'm going to try and hit up at least one, maybe two of these events. Things like this in this city make me smile. A short year ago something like this would have been hard to imagine but Houston's beer scene has grown by leaps and bounds. Bars are collaborating (see also the Stoned in 6 days event hosted by Petrol and Saucer), Special beers are being tapped all the time, restaurants focused on beer and food are opening, events like Camp Beer occur and many other things are happening making Houston a great place to be a lover of craft beer. However it's now up to you. We've asked for it, some of us have begged for events like this. Now we need no we must go out and support things like this if we want to show the bars/restaurants/etc that there is vast opportunity out there.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Boulevard Dark Truth Stout

If you've been reading this blog you know that I have been a big fan of Boulevard's Smokestack Series. Its their series of special beers, each packages in 750 mL, corked and caged. During my last trip to Spec's I noticed a new one on the shelf, this time a Russian Imperial Stout. But not just any stout its one made with barley, wheat, oats and rye.
The Beer: This stout weighs in at 9.7% and pours a very dark jet black with a thick dense head of crema colored foam. Cereal grains, I do get roasted barley and some oats. Esspresso, figs, dried dark fruits. Roasted malts. The mouthfeel is thick and chewy. Notes of oats, figs, raisins, plums, espresso beans and coco. Notes of oats. On the finish notes of creme brulee and coco powder sweetnes. Bitter dark chocolate. There is an almost grainy texture to this brew. The beer's not gritty, its just a feeling I get as I'm drinking. Dark Chocolate, dried fruits, oats and creme brulee are all great flavors in this amazing beer. This one gets an A from me. Here's what the folks at BA think about it.