Friday, October 29, 2010

De Proef/Terrapin Monstre Rouge

Collaboration beers when done properly can be amazing, a fusion between multiple different visions, coming together to create a one of a kind elixir. In my opinion one of the more successful collaborative series has been De Proef's "Brewmaster's Collaboration". They have brewed with Lost Abbey's Tomme Arthur and the brewmaster from Bell's in Michigan among many others. They've been unique and more importantly very good. De Proef's latest collaboration is with the masters of rye Terrapin Beer. Monstre Rouge is called an Imperial Flanders Red Ale and is based off of Terrapins massively hopped beer "Big Hoppy Monster" but of course with a twist: Rye has been added to the recipe as well as some brett yeast.
The Beer: This one weighs in at 8.5% and pours a cloudy hazy hazelnut brown with a thick frothy head of foam. The nose is full of malts, lots of citrusy hops, some oaky vanilla and maybe its my imagination but just a hint of horsey notes comes through from the brett. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and my tasebuds short circuit momentarily from the layers of complex flavors. Once they come back on line I get hit by citrusy hops that leave a resiny finish, sweet fruiy malts, caramel, toffee, vanilla, and a dry oaky finish. Just a faint funky, horsey, barnyardy flavor, barely there. As I'm sitting there thinking I'd like the brett flavors turned up just a bit, I let the beer warm and it starts to come through even more. The more pronounced brett flavors start to meld with the more bourbon like qualities of this beer, then mixing with the resinous hops to create an explosion of flavors unlike many I've tasted before. A dry finish and this beer is truly one of a kind, one that I will love to see how it ages. The beer gets a resounding A from me. Folks at BA dig it, but not as much as I do.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ommegang Cup O Kyndnes

Ommegang from Cooperstown, New York is one of the best Belgian style breweries in the country. I think their standard line up is extremely solid, and their special seasonal brews some of the best around. Ommegang has a strong connection to Belgium and its brewing traditions in that they are owned by Duvel Moortgaart makers of Duvel and Maredsous beers. Every once in a while Ommegang releases special one off beers that are blends of newer world and older world traditions. Examples in the past have been their Belgian Pale ale, or Triple Perfection. How they have brewed a special Belgian Scotch ale brewed with Belgian yeast and heather tips as well as some smoked malts.
The Beer: This brew weighs in at 6.8% and pours a light nutty brown with a thick dense head of tan colored foam. The nose is malty, smokey notes, floral. The mouth is full bodied, chewy creamy, very malty. Hints of smoke along with vanilla, raisins, figs, dark rich fruits. Spicy notes and floral ones a the beer warms, even more smoke. Some estery notes from the Belgian yeasts and slight hints of cherries. A wonderful unique beer, rich and creamy, but with the somewhat low strength one that you can drink a lot of sipping at night as the weather cools. This one gets a strong A from me. Here's what the folks at BA think.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Houston Beer Week Recap of Recaps

As posted yesterday, Monsters of Beer brought Houston Beer Week to a close with a bang. The entire week I think was an incredible success. Many folks, myself included, have been asking about something like this for a long time, looking for a way to put it together. However, it was a small group of people that had a vision and the drive to really put things in place, and to prod and push to make last week a success. Those people for the most part were Cathy Clark and Kevin Floyd. Yes I know that there many others involved, that put in a lot of hours and hard work, but those two were really the face of the effort. After those two, massive appreciation goes out to all the restaurants and bar's that took a risk, held an event and asked to be a part of Houston Beer Week. So a big thanks goes to: Beaver's, Petrol Station, Anvil Bar & Refuge, Spec's, Rockwell Tavern and Grill, Catalan, Divino's, Vic and Anthony's, The Usual, Gingerman, Liberty Station, Whole Foods, Canopy, Alamo Draft House, Fox Hollow, Mucky Duck, and Brenner's. Quite a long list indeed, and I am sure that many of those places had their eyes opened to the beer culture in Houston. Which brings me to my last shout out. You. My biggest fear was that HBW would be well coordinated and put together, lots of restaurants and bars would step up, and then no one would show up . Well Houston, pat yourself on the back, because if there was any doubt about it before, you love good beer, with food, or without, draft, or cask, you packed every event throughout the week. This wasn't a case of the same crowd going to each dinner. I know that most people just picked one dinner to go too, yet each one was sold out before hand. A great job and it shows that here is still some growth potential in this city.

Now for the Recaps of Recaps. I obviously couldn't hit all the events last week, lucky for us there are quite a few other's that put their thoughts down:

Monday's Beaver and Petrol Beer Dinner:
Some thoughts from Lushtastic:

The Chronicle's Ronnie Crocker posts some thoughts on the Connoisseur tasting with Audrey Keifer of Artisanal Beverage Company:

Of course a couple of folks posted thoughts on the amazing Catalan Beer Dinner:

There also a couple of reviews for Thursday's Pumpkin Ale Throwdown at Petrol Station

Here's mine from Friday's Anvil Gravity Beer event:

A review of Texas Girl’s Pint Out Rare Beers of the Midwest at Spec’s (sorry I couldn't get in)
and some pictures:

And finally, some thoughts on Monsters of Beer

If you have a recap that I didn't include, put a link in the comments section and I will update this post with the information.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monsters of Beer Recap

Sunday was the final day of the highly successful Houston Beer Week and you couldn't have asked for a better way to go out than Monsters of Beer. This was an event of Texas Music, Texas Food, and of course Texas Beer. It was a extremely successful 6 hour event with very few hiccups. I'm really impressed by the folks that put this on, the volunteers, and the attendees. Was it perfect? No. Are there things that could go better next year? Of course there are. But for it being year one I thought things went pretty well.

The first thing we noticed when we walked past the giant dragon at the entrance to Monsters of Beer and entered the blocked off area by 13 Celsius was the line-up of 9 breweries where there was supposed to be 10. Unfortunately Ranger Creek Brewing couldn't make it anytime as they were having facility issues. The second thing I noticed was that there was only one food truck when there should have been 3 (Hubcap Grill had their truck vandalized, and Melange Crepes was running late, which left only Sylvia's No Borders Truck), this would of course cause one of the biggest issues but was really beyond the control of the Monsters of Beer folks.

Once we got in line for each brewery you also realized that what was on the handy dandy check off chart was not what was being served so for reference here is what was available from each brewery:

(512) - IPA and Pecan Porter

Live Oak - Pilz and HefeWeisen

Real Ale - Oktoberfest, ESB, and Lost Gold IPA Cask

Southern Star - Burried Hatchet Stout, Blonde, Pale Ale

Independence - Stash IPA, Saison

No Label - Pale Horse Pale Ale, El Hefe Hefeweizen, and Ridgeback Amber

Jester King - Mild

Saint Arnold - Amber and Elissa IPA

Rahr and Sons - Ugly Pug, Salamander Pale Ale, Octoberfest (Imperial Version) and a Cask of Winter Warmer

Even without Ranger creek a pretty solid line up of beers. Although the brewer's couldn't touch the beers, there were some reps around to answer questions and the volunteers were (for the most part) educated about what they were serving. If you go based on lines I think a lot of folks were interested in the new folks from Katy No Label Brewing. I have to say I came away impressed. I thought there Amber was outstanding, and their El Hefe was a great hefeweisen, up there with Live Oak's. Rahr and Son's probably wins the award for bringing the most beer. Initially I was excited to see their new version of their Octoberfest being poured but around 4 pm they tapped a cask of their Winter Warmer which was amazing.

The crowd was great, well behaved and all seemed interested in the beers being served. There were 600 tickets sold, so there times when it got crowded but it was never out of hand. The crowd ranged from the beer folks that I always see at events like this, to folks just curious about what's going on which at 20.00 a pop allowed regular folks to attend just out of curiosity.

Yep it was a great time, but as mentioned there were a couple of minor things that could better. The first thing I already briefly mentioned which was only having Sylvia's Food Truck out there. I know it was beyond their control, but standing in line for 20 minutes for a couple of taco's was not a good time. Hopefully the success of this event will allow more trucks to come and participate. The second issue, was there weren't enough chairs. I know that the space was not huge, but a few more tables and chairs would be nice. There were a couple of things mentioned by other folks that frankly didn't bother my that much. The first was long lines, which admittedly were there, but I don't think I ever stood in line for longer than 5 or so minutes which is a testament to the hard work of the volunteers. The second issue was the heat. Again it was hot, but it was also an outdoor festival in Houston so it could have been cloudy and rainy, cold, or hot. Luckily the clouds came around 3 pm and it helped, but it didn't bother me much. That's it though, those were really the only issues I had, or heard about. Not bad for a first event of this size.

Throughout the day there was a tent set up with items available via Silent Auction, all proceeds going to Friday Harbor. Some of the things available were Glasses from Ranger Creek, Brewer for a Day at Southern Star, 2 each of the Saison Du Buff from Victory, Stone and Dogfish, a Vertical from Stone's Epic series (Can't remember the years), vertical of Dark Lord, and a Vertical of Abyss. I am very happy to say that I got the Abyss vertical! It was a great way to raise money and was exciting to see folks running to the tent at just before 4pm when the auction closed and trying to get one last bid in. Again though even with all the excitement everyone was extremely well behaved even if it was the 4 hours into the festival and a lot of folks had a lot of beer.

I just want to say again how impressed I was by the event, how few logistical issues there were, how good the beer was (nothing lukewarm, everything was served fresh and cold), and how awesome everyone at the event was. Its truly a testament to the hard work and dedication of the folks behind Monsters of Beer Cathy Clark and Kevin Floyd. Great job guys, no pressure, but we are all eagerly anticipating next year.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Anvil's Gravity Beer 2010

There were a lot of events I was looking forward to at the beginning of Houston Beer Week, and the Gravity Beer Event at Anvil last night was at the top of the list. The dream of Kevin Floyd, Co-Owner of Anvil the idea was to have a bunch of beer's that were either completely unavailable to Texas, or one off's of local beer's that would be special and unique. None of these beers would be available on draft, instead all served in cask and either poured via gravity or Cask Engine. When we arrived at Anvil there were two types of keg's set up. The first the traditional English Firkin (a 9 imperial Gallon keg) filled with unique Texas Craft beers or a German Anstich (5.28 US Gallons) filled Franconian Lager's that until last night were unavailable in Texas. Anvil handed out a nice "Consumption Guide" with info on all the beer's listed and a little bit of info on each beer, some of which I'll use below. I'll also include tasting notes on the beer's I was able to try:
Texas Firkin's
(512) Dry Hopped Two: This was (512) second anniversary beer and an imperial IPA. This was served via a Gravity Cask. I've had this beer before on draft and really enjoyed it. Last night it was great on cask, hoppy, spicy, almost creamy texture, it slaps you across the face with hops. Good carbonation (don't let anyone tell you cask beer should be flat!) some malty sweetness and mild alcohol notes. Great beer.
Jester King Dark Mild: The first cask that new Austin Area brewery Jester King has made. A traditional English Dark mild that weighs in at 3% and was dry hopped with East Kent Goldings. This beer was served on Anvil's cask Engine and one of the beer's I was most looking forward too. It poured a rich dark chestnut brown with a creamy head. Very malty, very easy drinking, but extremely flavorable. Some mild earthy hoppy notes adds to the beer without taking away from the showcase of malt flavors. A great cask ale that should be on regular rotations around town, hopefully it will be in the future.
Independence Convict Hill Stout aged with Anvil Bourbon Cherries: This was the second beer I was really looking forward to. Independence's Imperial Oatmeal Stout with Anvil's house made Bourbon cherries. This was tapped after Jester King's Mild was gone, and it took a loooonggg time, at least it was a long time for those of us eagerly waiting it, crowding around the bar, hoping that every time Kevin went to the ice box he would come out with an empty keg signaling that it was time of this beer. Well when it finally arrived none of us was left disappointed. It was served on Anvil's Cask Engine and came out black with just a hint of ruby streaks, and a thick creamy head. The nose was of roasted malts, chocolate, and maybe just a bit of bourbon. The mouth was medium bodied, lots of roasted malts, a small amount of bourbon up front and just a faint hint of cherries on the finish. Some notes of alcohol which is to be expected for a brew weighing in at just over 9%. I was surprised by how easy it drank. A really solid great beer and a wonderful collaboration between bar and brewer.
Southern Star Cocoa and Madagascar Vanilla Aged Smoked Porter: A very special version of Southern Star's Pro Am beer. Whole vanilla beans and Coco nibs were added into this cask.
The German Beers served in Anstich
Brauerie Bayer: A landbier
Ahornberger: A schwartzbier. This beer poured a rich dark black with an almost bright white head. Lots of dark roasted malts, some sweetness up front before it finishes dry. A creaminess to this lager, very good.
Braueri Beck (Trabelsdorf): Lager
Monschsambach: Unfiltered Lager
Guenther Braeu: Lager

Rightfully so Anvil has a reputation around not only Houston but the country as a top notch Cocktail bar, but last night it was definitely all about the beer. This morning via Twitter, Kevin reported that the Independence Cask was gone in 75 minutes. That's pretty good for such a high octane brew. Speaking of twitter, there were rumors going around this morning that Anvil had broken its single night sales record. I couldn't believe my eyes when I read that. A beer night setting sales records at Anvil so I needed it confirmed, so I sent a message to Kevin who replied back with a hearty YES! That's pretty amazing and is one more example of how successful Houston Beer Week has been.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Beer Dinner: Catalan

Last night just about marked the middle point of Houston Beer Week. A couple of days ago I wrote a summary of the amazing time I had at Flying Saucer's Divine Reserve Vertical Tasting. Well last night I attended the Catalan Beer Dinner, which had Food from Chef Chris Shepard and beer parings from Kevin Floyd of Anvil. This was a 6 course dinner with an appetizer course that left me full, and amazed at some of the pairings. During each course Chef Shepard would come out and briefly talk about the food, before stepping aside and letting Kevin talk about the beer, some history, some stories, and a little about the pairing.

Appetizer Course: I have to admit when they first brought out the beer for this course I thought it was a joke, but later learned there was a good reason for it. The course was Keystone Light served in a Champagne flute with a home made bologna sandwich topped with home made spicy bread and butter pickles. I can't remember the last time I've had Keystone, and there is a good reason for that. Luckily it was served ice cold and the initial sips weren't too bad, but man the finish is horrible. It was a fun pairing as the highly carbonated beer helped cut through the fat of the sand which. Kevin then came out and talked about why Keystone. Turns out this was the first beer that Kevin bough at 21, and he wanted to start off the dinner with your typical American Lager before showing those in attendance (many who had never been to a beer dinner) how far the craft beer industry has moved away from that.

Course 1: The first course brought a surprise, a beer that we don't get in Texas: Saison De Dottignes from De Ranke Brewery in Belgium. Simply this was just a great example of a Belgian Saison and one that we can't get here in Houston, yet. Notes of lemon, yeasty peppery notes, just a bit of funk on the finish. It was served with mussels in a chorizo garlic broth. The mussels were HUGE. Good pairing, spicy broth goes well with the yeasty peppery notes of the beer and its dry finish.

Course 2: The third beer of the evening was Left Hand Polestar Pilsner. A great example of a European Pilsner, poured a very pale straw color with notes of pils malts, a little funk on the finish, grassy. Good beer that was perfect for the dish of fish and chips. Chef Shepard fried up Gulf Hake and paired with malt vinegar potato chips. This was a good dish, and the beer paired well by basically getting out of the way, the beer washing away some of the fat from the batter while not over powering the dish. This was a good dish, but not one of my favorites.

Course 3: Kevin brought out a second beer that we don't get here in Texas, Nogne O Imperial Dunkel Wit. I've never had an Imperial Dark Belgian Wit ale, let alone one that weighs in at 10.0%. This beer was amazing, it blew me away with its level of spices, figs, some alcohol, brown sugar, even some bannana chocolate and a bit of malty sweetness. But it was so much more than what I'm describing, really just an amazing beer. It was paired with suckling pig taco's, pickled onions and homemade hot sauce. A pairing of spicy and sweet, richness of beer, and richness of dish, a really perfect pairing. Kevin reports we may just be getting some Nogne O in Texas, let's hope that we get this one.

Course 4: Kevin brought out a familiar favorite here, pouring Victory Wild Devil and paired with an usual dish called Mofongo, that Chef Shepard informed the eager crowd was a combination Jamacan and Puerto Rican dish. Chef took some plantains and mashed them with some braised pork belly, and then topped it with braised baby goat that had been shredded and mixed with All Spice, cloves, and scotch bonnet peppers. The funky spiciness of the beer paired well with the heat of the dish. Dryness and carbonation of the beer really contrasted with the rich sweetness of the dish.

Course 5: A traditional food pairing here of beer and burgers. Of course you know its more than that. The beer was Lagunitas Hopstoopid, the burger was cooked medium rare and stuffed with cheese, the bun made of pretzel from Slow Dough bakery. The side dish was barbecue baked field peas. A pretty solid pairing, but I wasn't the biggest fan of the burger....maybe it was because by this point I was STUFFED, barely able to eat (should have taken some food home with me!).

Course 6: Yes I'm stuffed, but that didn't mean I couldn't eat dessert especially when it's paired with Stone Russian Imperial Stout 2009. The dish was chocolate ice cream and rich rich dense chocolate cake. A perfect pairing of course the roasted coffee, chocolate, burnt beans of the beer with the sweet dark rich chocolate of the cake. With some encouragement from Kevin a bunch of us threw the ice cream in with the beer....I love beer floats!

Over all last night was incredibly successful. When Kevin asked who had never been to a beer dinner before the majority of the room raised their hands. In fact I'd say only a half dozen folks had been to one. This is what I had hoped Houston Beer Week would do, bring non-beer people to beer events and if last night is any indication that's exactly what it's doing.

I'd be remiss if I didn't point out fellow beer blogger Steve from All Good Beer was at the dinner as well and has posted his thoughts (with pictures) as well.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Book Review: Amber, Gold & Black

Amber, Gold & Black: The History of Britain's Great Beers by Martyn Cornell is an extremely well researched book that covers all the styles of beer that Britain has produced over many centuries. The book covers 16 chapters, each chapter a different style of beer: Bitter, Mild, Burton Ale, Porter, Stout, India Pale Ale, Golden Ale, Low-Gravity Beers, Brown Ale, Wheat Ale, Barley Wine and Old Ale, Herb and Flavored Ales, Honey Beer, Heather Ale, Wood-Aged Beers, and Lager. Each chapter begins with the history of the beer and the etymology of the style, and then at the end of each chapter it discusses the present and mentions some of the brewer's still producing they style of beer. Its a very well written book and a quick read at essentially 226 pages, although its packed with information. He delves into how styles progressed through the centuries and how they evolved, sometimes going from one style and blending into others. To me especially, it's fascinating reading concerning the impact that the two World Wars had on the beer culture in Britain, primarily creating low gravity beers. Although this essentially killed some styles, it also forced British brewer's to brew very full flavored ales at relatively low alcohol, something that I feel is still missing on this side of the pond. If you pick this book up, you'll see its extremely well written (if a little bit poorly edited) that covers the depth and breadth of British brewing history. Another fun aspect of the book, that anyone familiar with Mr. Cornell's work will know, is the debunking of several beer related myth's (I won't give any away here, just go read the book). Overall Amber Gold and Black is a fascinating read that truly shows the impact Britain and its beer culture had on the beer cultures around the world.

A couple of additional notes that I wanted to make because I think the book itself has an interesting history. This book was originally published as an e-book in Britain a couple of years ago and won huge rave's from beer lovers. It won the book of the year before finally getting published hardcopy and made available over here in the states. Mr. Cornell has a great blog if you are more interested in the etymology and history of words and beer, he is also the founder of the British Beer Writers Guild.

Saint Arnold Divine Reserve Vertical Tasting

The week to end all weeks for beer lovers is here. Houston Beer week started off with a BANG on Sunday and continues at a feverish pace the rest of the week. Monday you didn't see me at any beer dinners, instead I headed to the Flying Saucer for a very special beer tasting. Brock Wagner, owner and co-founder of Houston's own Saint Arnold was there to lead a tasting of all 9 Divine Reserves (Flying Saucer also provided some very fine cheeses courtesy of the Houston Dairy Maids). Brock had lots of great stories to go with the beer as we all worked our way through these 9 beers. The oldest of which has almost hit 5 years.
DR 1: The first Divine Reserve and the only one that I didn't get to drink fresh (I did have it about a year and a half ago for the first time). This was bottled on 17 October 2005 and weighed in at 10%. It was made with a 100% Maris Otter malts with Northern Brewer and Cascade hops in the kettle. In an unusual twist it was later dry hopped with the German noble hop Saaz. The beer pours a cloudy amber brownish. The nose is syrupy sweet, malts, toffee. The body if medium, some notes of alcohol up front, the hops have subsided, concentrated flavors, sherry like notes. Bread pudding quality, caramel, treacle. Still a good after dinner drink, but I wonder how much longer this one still has.
DR 2: This is Saint Arnold's 10% Belgian Quadruppel, bottled on 18 July 2006. Brewed in two different batches, with two separate yeasts, a Chimay yeast and then Chico yeast. Right at the end of fermentation and before bottling the two batches were blended together before allowing fermentation to complete. The hops used for this one were Perle, Liberty, and Saaz, and its also the first Saint Arnold beer to use an adjunct, in this case brown sugar). The beer poured a cloudy orangish amber, the nose is full of fruity esters from the yeast, pears, grapes almost a Sauternes quality. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, those same yeasty estery notes, brown sugar, some white fruits, really complex and tasty, I loved this beer fresh and still really enjoyed it.
DR 3: A double IPA weighing in at 10% this one is a winner of the Big Beer Brew Bash and was bottled on 21 September 2006. The pours a clear orange color with notes of syrup, caramel, but not a lot of hops on the nose. However this changes with the firs sip. The beer is sticky with hops, resinous, massive hops on the finish, extremely malty as well, caramel, toffee, some hop oxidation that gives it a sherry like quality, makes this beer taste more like an American Strong Ale than a DIPA.
DR 4: This was the first Divine Reserve that I was able to get in a 6 pack and I loved it. A 8% Wee Heavy that was bottled on 20 February 2007. This is also the only DR that has won a medal bringing home a Gold Medal at the 2008 World Beer Cup. The beer pours a very rich dark brown notes of raisins, figs, concentrated dark fruits and a smokiness are all on the nose. More of the same in the mouth. Dark crystal malts, plums and cherry's are all there as well. Surprised by the smoke, as I don't really remember this one having a lot of smokiness to it.
DR 5: This is the one a lot of folks were looking forward to. A 9% Russian Imperial Stout that has won massive raves and was named one of the top beers of the year in 2007. It was bottled on 28 August of that year and has an interesting story as well. Evidently when the beer was being thrown into the fermenter it was under hopped, so to bring the hop levels back up Saint Arnold ended up using hop oils and hop extract. The beer pours a pitch black and smells of massively roasted black malts, chocolate, coffee, burnt malts. The mouthfeel is still pretty full bodied, Chocolate, darkly roasted coffee beans, some astringency, figs, raisins. After 3 years this one still could go many many more and continue to be amazing.
DR 6: A massively hopped American Barleywine that weighs in at 10%. 225 lbs of 100% Columbus hops were used to create this monster, bottled on 6 April 2008. It pours an almost reddish color, some hops on the nose, but lots of malts, toffee, caramel, some piney notes, sugary sweetness. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with pine notes a plenty. Some oxidation here as I got notes of sherry, along with caramel, toffee, treacle, some fruity notes as well. This one is still good and probably has another year or two.
DR 7: This one I expected to like the least due to fact I didn't expect the style to age very well. A 8% Weizenbock this one was bottled on 5 September 2008. The beer pours a light cloudy brownish color. No banana flavors, but there is a spiciness, some cloves and chocolate. Light bodied, with lots of spices and cloves. The harshness that was there fresh is gone and this one is smooth if a little light flavored. It's evolved (or devolved) into a light dunkel weissen.
DR 8: At this point my palate was starting to go so my notes aren't the best. This was a 9% Scotch ale bottled on 20 August 2009. It poured a hazy orange color, still some peat-y qualities on the nose some residual sweetness as well. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and good levels of smokiness still present, grapes, prunes, sweet malts, fruity esters from the yeast. A good beer that I think still has some time.
DR 9: Even though this one is not quite a year old I was extremely excited to see how this Imperial Pumpkin Stout has held up. Bottled on 11 November of last year it is the strongest of the Divine Reserves weighing in at 11%. It pours a dark ruby brown color with a lot of pumpkin still present on the nose. Lots of pumpkin pie spice as well along with a good dose of chocolate and roasted malts. Its a full bodied beer, lots of chocolate, spices, pumpkin. This tastes AMAZINGLY still. Lots of all spice, cinnamon, brown sugar. Really Really good. It was at this point that Brock made the biggest announcement of the night: This Imperial Pumpkin Stout will become a yearly seasonal release starting next year! That is great news for any beer lover.

Overall I was really impressed by how well most of these beers have developed over time. The 5 year old DR1 is still really good. Last night shows that Saint Arnold brews some of the best beer around and that DR series has developed into an amazing line up of beers. Remember that DR 10 an English Barleywine comes out November 1.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Houston Beer Week: What are you doing?

Tomorrow starts a week of celebrating beer in Houston. As I've written before this is something that I've been waiting for a long time for and am extremely excited about. There is at least one event every day starting tomorrow and culminating in the awesome Monsters of Beer next Sunday, however many days have multiple events. Check out the official Houston Beer Week website, or look on the right hand said of this page to see the Beer Events Calendar for whats happening each day.
From dinners, to education events, to tastings there is something for everyone. There are some amazing dinners at places like Catalan, Beavers, and Rockwell Tavern, nightly tastings at Gingerman Pub. There are events for everyone, from activities prices from around $11.00 to dinners up to $100.00. Besides the daily events listed on the Beer Events Calendar there is also events going on all week long: Liberty Station will be having Happy Hour prices on draft beer all week along, and Whole Foods Markets will be having specials on beer throughout the week.
Now that you know what's happening, the question remains, what are you going to do? Beer lovers, this is the event you've been waiting for, now its up to you to support it as much as you can. What am I going to do? Definitely doing the Monsters of Beer event, but I'll also be at the Catalan Beer dinner, with pairings from Kevin Floyd of Anvil Bar and Refuge. I'll also be at the Gravity Cask Event at Anvil on Friday. I'm going to try to hit up one of the tastings at Gingerman and Petrol Station. Next week will be busy for me, so if you see me around, come by and say hi.
I'll be posting my thoughts of the individual events throughout the week, then a round up next Sunday on how I think HBW went.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Lagunitas Lil Sumpin Wild

I'm a huge fan of Lagunitas Brewery out of California, because they make great beer at a great price. Very few other brewer's release the beers Lagunitas does at 3 to 5 dollars a bomber. It's becuase of this price point that I go and pick up a lot of their beers, especialy when I see one that I think will interest me. Something that interested me on this one was the word wild on the label. Thinking I was getting their popular Lil Sumpin IPA with wild yeast I picked it up to check it out. Luckily I read the label before taking it home so I wasn't too dissapointed. Regardless of what the name implies this is not a wild ale, instead it is an IPA fermented with the Belgian brewery Westmalle's yeast (not sure what's wild about that but oh well). Still this sounded interesting enough for me to check it out.
The Beer: This one weighs in at 8.85% and pours a pale golden honey color with a thick white head that slowly dissipates over time to a thin white cap of foam. Nose is hoppy, citrusy, spicey, peppery, malty. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, very hoppy up front with lots of citrus and grapefruit peel. Finish is spicey, estery, lots of that typical Belgian yeast. Fruity, slightly effervescent. The lingering effect and impression though is of the hops, they are definetely the highlight. A good solid Belgian IPA attempt by Lagunits, just need to change the name so folks aren't confused or dissapointed. This one gets a B+ from me. Here's what the folks at BA think.