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Welcome to the South Texas Beer Blog. Please enjoy responsibly!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dansk Mjod - Viking Blod



Hej! Nyd din mjød!

Tonight a couple friends of mine and I drank a bottle of Danish Mead that we found in a hole in the wall beer store in Orlando, FL. It was very intriguing in a 750ml black stone/ceramic bottle with Danish writing all over the label. This mead is made with hibiscus and hops and is based on a recipe from about the year 1700. It's also 19% ABV so you certainly need to share with a friend!

The website is all in Danish so good luck reading about their product... ok fine... use Google's Translate Feature to read about the Viking Blod!

It pours a nice deep golden honey color which is completely still. The nose has a bit of alcohol and spice but dominates with a nice honey aroma. The taste has a bit of a burn from the 19% ABV but has some pretty nice sweetness, a bit of flowery spice (i.e. hibuscus and hops) and warms the belly quite nicely! It sticks to the glass like a nice thick wine and the honey flavor lingers for quite a long time in your mouth.

This is a quick short post and I really don't know much about the brewer (mostly because the website is in Danish and I didn't feel like translating it all) but also because I still have a glass to finish...

The Bottom Line:
If you haven't tried mead, buy some and try it. Most commercial mead is relatively sweet and Viking Blod is not an exception. The thing that makes this mead interesting is the addition of hibiscus and hops which give a nice spice to the honey wine. For $13/bottle this was a pretty good deal and equivalent to a basic bottle of wine you might buy. As a matter of fact, I found the same bottle online for $30 so we might have gotten a deal. Mead is also relatively easy to brew compared to beer so if you're already a homebrewer mead is another great beverage to create.

Stats:
ABV 19%
I wish I knew more, however, the website says "see bottle hang for more uses" and our bottle was missing a hang. If anyone else knows anything more share in the comments!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Beerby



Hello STBB followers! Today I wanted to share with you an application for iPhone and Android that I found recently. It's called Beerby (pronounced like "nearby") and it's a fun little way to track different beers you try.

I downloaded it for iPhone so my experience is based on that platform. It was free for the full version on the iTunes App store so there's no reason not to download it. It allows you to track beers that you try on a daily basis, add beers (for example, I added one of my homebrews to the list), and track according to Foursquare venues.

I enjoy the "achievements" you can earn. For example - High Tech Redneck for drinking 100 Budweisers, Elitist for drinking 15 different Belgian beers, Billy Dee Williams for drinking a Colt 45 Malt Liquor, Dogfisherman for drinking 12 different Dogfish Head beers, and a lot more!

It's not perfect, one of the features I would like would be the ability to change the date. Right now it looks like I drank 7 beers in one day when really I just tracked the beers for the weekend on that day. There are also a couple typos and tracking errors (for example, it doesn't track Dogfish Head Punkin Ale as a pumpkin beer toward an achievement). Nothing terrible, but certainly some room for updates in the future!

Hope you enjoy your new free app!

Beerby webpage

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Congratulations Mark!

I have to apologize to my blog followers that I have not been able to post much lately. I have been preparing for my brother's wedding which happened today, September 18, 2010.

I appreciate being invited to be the best man and I really enjoyed having all our families meet each other. My son got to play with his son (and lots of other babies) and I couldn't trade anything for that experience.

Congratulations to my brother Mark and his new wife Jenna! If you show your support on here I will share the page and your best wishes with the newlyweds.

PS - Yes, we did drink beer. So this post is relevant to South Texas Beer Blog. I did share a bottle of Sierra Nevada Jack and Ken's Barleywine with my friends and family the night before the wedding. I also scored a couple cool bottles in Virginia that I'll drink at a later date!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sam Adams Harvest Collection



Seen above is the newly released Samuel Adams Harvest Collection chilling with a couple Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPAs. Today's post is about the Sam Adams, not the 120 Minute IPA. Sorry 120, you'll have to wait!

I couldn't believe that this pack was available at my local HEB for $11.71. Needless to say I grabbed one right away. That's less than a buck per beer!

This pack has 2 each of great Sam Adams brews: Boston Lager, Black Lager, Irish Red, Dunkelweizen, Octoberfest, and Harvest Pumpkin Ale. My stand out favorite was the Harvest Pumpkin Ale.

I have tried the Boston Lager, Irish Red, and Black Lager in the past. The Dunkelweizen was released last year and is only available in this 12 pack. The Octoberfest is a fall seasonal available as a stand-alone 6 pack.

But I would buy this collection again just for the Harvest Pumpkin Ale! Not only do they brew it using real pumpkin (11 pounds per barrel) but they also spice it with traditional pumpkin pie spices. I enjoyed this subtle spice and it would be perfect with a slice of apple or pumpkin pie.

As a matter of fact, if my lovely wife is reading this I hope she buys me another one of these from the store!

So anyway, try to find this pack. Great beers and a great price from America's largest craft brewery. I hope you all enjoy! Below you'll find a few photos of some of these beers in the glass. Prosit!







Friday, September 3, 2010

St. Arnold's Oktoberfest



St. Arnold Brewing Company is Texas' oldest microbrewery. Their first beer was shipped on June 9, 1994 and their small crew of 17 continue to brew, filter, keg, bottle, and ship to cities in Texas. They offer 10 beers, 5 of which are seasonal, and I picked up a six-pack of their fall seasonal last week.

First, a brief history of St. Arnold- obtained from the previous link from the brewery website.

St. Arnold was born in 580 AD to a prominent Austrian family in France. He became bishop of Metz, France in 612 AD and spent his life warning peasants against drinking water. He encouraged all to drink beer instead, which was safer. In 627, he retired to a monastery where he died in 640. The next year, citizens of Metz exhumed the body under request to move him to the Church of the Holy Apostles. During the trip, tired porters and other followers stopped to quench their thirst but there was only a single glass of beer to share in the town of Champignuelles. Alas, the single mug never ran dry and all were able to satisfy their thirst! A miracle indeed!

St. Arnold Oktoberfest pours a deep copper color with slight head that leaves slight lacing down the glass. The aroma is full malt sweetness and slight refreshing German hops. The initial taste certainly refreshes, traces of caramel sweetness and a full body makes this an easy brew to imbibe. The hops are subdued and hard to detect and the beer is up-forward with malty sweetness, but balanced just enough for a great taste. The alcohol content is above average for this style - 6% ABV - but meets with my tastes. However, you may want to avoid drinking all 6 in a row! Also interesting, St. Arnolds originally tested this beer with both lager and ale yeasts and the ale fermented version beat the lager in taste tests. So now they brew this as an ale yearly. Scroll down on this page to read more about blind taste tests, a mislabeled batch, and slapping people!

St. Arnold brewery's year-round releases are Amber Ale, Brown Ale, Texas Wheat, Fancy Lawnmower, and Elissa IPA. I have yet to try the Elissa or the Texas Wheat. Look for their Winter release, Christmas Ale, around the end of October. Until then, drink Oktoberfest or any of their year-round brews. Or buy me a six-pack of Elissa, I won't be offended!

The Bottom Line: Texas' oldest microbrewery continues to make quality beer year-round. I like trying seasonal releases and their Oktoberfest was no exception. If you enjoy tasty, refreshing, malty brews this is one to pick up. Try it with a meal and you'll see what I mean by "refreshing." Support Texas microbrewers!

Stats:
Release Date August 15th
ABV 6%
OG 1.061 (15.5° Plato)
IBU 24

From man's sweat and God's love, beer came into the world - St. Arnold, Patron Saint of Brewers

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Great Divide Hercules Double IPA



Now this is my beer style!

Call me crazy, but I like a good IPA. I like it when it's so hoppy it burns bitterness into your palate and ruins any other taste for the rest of the day. I like it so hoppy that nobody else likes it except me!

Great Divide Brewing Company, out of Denver, Colorado, has hit the hoppy nail on the head with Hercules Double IPA - a beer "not for the faint of heart. It is, however, fit for the gods."

This 85 IBU ale pours a slightly hazy amber color with a sticky whitish head. I was trying to figure out what the haze was when I noticed in the light I could see a bunch of little floaties in my glass. I tried to get a picture of these whatevers but couldn't. It wasn't a big deal but I have no explanation for what they were.

The aroma was a nice hoppy blast with a slight malty musk. Definitely dominated by hops. The mouthfeel was pretty thick with a good amount of carbonation, not one to chug in other words. The taste meets my flavor for this style of beer - so hoppy that it's sweet. They, of course, boost up the malt backbone (in this case, a candy-like toffee flavor) to balance with the hop forward bitterness. The bitterness was pretty intense and sticky, coating your mouth with a dry resiny feeling. My favorite feeling!

One other note, at 10% ABV this beer is pretty intense. I had a bottle labeled "bottled 1-14-10" so it was over 7 months old. This contributed to the candy-like taste I experienced and not terribly cloying. I would also suggest sharing with a friend, I got through this 22 oz. bottle alone. If you don't have a friend, show someone that you have this bottle of beer and you want to share. You'll make friends quick!

The Bottom Line: If you enjoy huge IPAs like I do, try GD Hercules Double IPA. I enjoyed every sip, and this is a sipping beer for sure! Share with a friend if you can!

Stats:
ABV 10%
IBU 85

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Real Ale Devil's Backbone



Today's update gives some love to South Texas with the Real Ale Brewing Company's Devil's Backbone Belgian-style Tripel. I drank this abbey ale recently at home after sitting on it since June of this year. I traveled to Blanco, Texas to join Real Ale in their 14th Anniversary celebration. My profile picture on Blogspot is a picture of me enjoying their 14th Anniversary Ale, very good stuff if you can get it. They only offered it on draft (don't even know if there is any left).

My dad bought a six-pack of this Belgian-style ale and I've had a couple in my fridge since then, waiting for the day when I'd crack one open to enjoy. I did just that this week.

First, a little history of Real Ale: They started their brewery in Blanco, Texas in 1996 in the basement of an antiques shop. They offered three original recipes which are still available today (Brewhouse Brown Ale, Full Moon Pale Rye Ale, and Rio Blanco Pale Ale). After changing owners in 1998, RABC continued to increase production until moving to it's current location (built from the ground up on empty land) in 2006. They are available all over the Lone Star State and all their brews are worth a try (even though I have yet to try Lost Gold IPA or Empire which are available only on draft).

Devil's Backbone pours golden and clear with a moderate bubbly head which dissapated fairly quickly. The aroma is spicy and slightly hoppy and reminded me of any number of Belgian ales I've tried, good stuff! The taste was dry with more spice (coriander?), spicy hops, and some slight citrus undertones. For those of you who haven't tried Belgian-style ales, I would compare it to drinking a dry white wine. It's a fairly high ABV, but still drinkable. I only had one, and I wouldn't drink too much of this stuff without a designated driver!

Real Ale's Beer Styles page for descriptions of Devil's Backbone and other offerings. Buy more Real Ale!

The Bottom Line: What can I say? Support Texas breweries and buy Real Ale! Devil's Backbone is their spring seasonal but it still available in San Antonio. 2010 was the first year they offered this in bottles and I will certainly continue to drink it in limited quantities while I can. I would pair it with other strong flavors, maybe fish or aromatic cheese.

Stats:
ABV 8.1%
IBU 36
OG 18 Plato

Friday, August 27, 2010

Dogfish Head Festina Pêche



Number two of the seasonal offerings that I tried this week was Dogfish Head Festina Pêche, a tart peach beer released as a summer seasonal by the brewery in Milton, Delaware.

I read about this beer after I drank it and the idea and history of the style is very interesting. Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head, posts a Quick Sip Clip on the website for Festina Pêche and describes the taste.

The site states the style is neo-Berliner Weisse (Berliner Weiße) which is a sour, wheat, low ABV, regional beer from Northern Germany dating back to the 16th century. At one time there were over 700 breweries in Germany producing this style and it was the most popular alcoholic drink in Berlin. Now the style is almost extinct, only two breweries produce a single brand in Germany, but there are several Canadian and American breweries that produce the style and use the name.

Festina Pêche pours into the glass a cloudy straw-yellow color, not golden like most beers, which is the first oddity. It had almost no head from the pour and just a few tiny bubbles while drinking it. The aroma was mild peach and mild alcohol, even though this beer sits at only 4.5% ABV, and maybe a mild sourness. The flavor was tart though not overly so, mild sourness I would say. It had a mild peach flavor with no malt or hops that I could detect. The sourness reminded me of Granny Smith apples and the body was pretty light. It was cool and refreshing and like nothing I've had before.

Dogfish Head sells Festina Pêche during the summer months in 4 packs and on draft where you can find it. I didn't find this in South Texas, I actually bought it in Arizona and brought it home, but maybe next summer we can find some here!

The Bottom Line: The word I would use to describe this beer would be "mild" more than anything. Mild tartness, mild carbonation, mild aroma, mild peach flavor, mild body... all around a mild style! It makes me want to travel to Berlin and find a true Berliner Weisse that I could order flavored with himbeersirup or waldmeistersirup!

Stats:
ABV 4.5%
Original Release 06/2007

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sierra Nevada Glissade



I tried a couple more seasonal offerings this week and wanted to share them with you guys. Sierra Nevada Glissade Golden Bock was the first one that I tried. It is a spring seasonal so it might be hard to find now, I happened to buy a single bottle of it awhile back with the intend of putting it on here.

The name Glissade comes from the act of voluntarily descending from a mountainside by sitting, crouching, or standing. I get the imagery, descending from winter's snowy peaks to a refreshing springtime. This refreshing springtime lager meets expectations in this manner.

Glissade pours very clear and golden with a slight white head. It smells of a traditional German lager, moderate hops with a slight "funk" that reminds me of Paulaner or Spaten lager. It's brewed in the Maibock/Helles style (BJCP description) which leaves a clear, crisp, and clean tasting brew. The flavor is slightly malty and slightly hoppy, a great balance. It's one to drink cold, as it gets warm more undesirable flavors may come to the surface and make it harder to swallow (literally).

Go check out Sierra Nevada's website for a quick summary of this beer.

The Bottom Line: Glissade wouldn't necessarily top my list as my favorite beer ever, but it is a good example of a maibock that's relatively easy to drink and refreshing. I would pick up a six-pack around the end of winter to help my "glissade" into spring!

Stats:
ABV 6.4%
OG 15.5 Plato
FG 3.2 Plato
IBU 42
Malt Two-row Pale, Europils, Munich & Crystal
Bittering Hops German Magnum, German Perle
Finishing Hops German Spalter, Slovenian Aurora, Styrian

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Juniper Pale Ale and New World Porter



Yum yum, two delicious ales that I'll review for you guys today in a quick post. I tried these both last week after choosing them based on their unusual nature.

Juniper Pale Ale by Rogue Ales in Newport, OR was the first brew I tried. It's a pretty standard pale ale with the addition of an unusual ingredient, juniper berries. It pours golden-colored (their website states "saffron" in color) and has a fluffy white head. The nose was a pretty strong hoppy floral aroma, similar to many US pale ales that I have tried.

Flavor wise this also was a pretty standard pale ale. It was balanced toward the hop side with a little something... extra... If the bottle hadn't declared this extra character as juniper berries I wouldn't have been able to guess. It was a pleasant spice following each sip that I probably would have identified as a type of bittering hop if I hadn't known.

It was an enjoyable drink, probably not my favorite ever, but worth a try. Rogue recommends drinking this to accompany a turkey dinner or hot & spicy food. They dedicated this ale "to the turkey in each of us" and brewed it to commemorate the Thanksgiving bird.

Interesting fact: Did you know Benjamin Franklin wanted to name the turkey as the official bird of the new nation? The bald eagle was chosen instead!



Avery Brewing Company's New World Porter is a seasonal offering from Boulder, CO. They offer it January through April in 12 oz. 6 packs. Even though it was August I was still able to easily find this ale and buy a single bottle to try.

It pours like any standard porter, black and thick with a light tan head. The reason this porter is a bit unusual strikes you right as you pour. They dry-hopped this ale to give it a nice big hop aroma and flavor. It immediately hits you as the liquid hits the glass, liquid pine trees with a slight background of maltiness.

The flavor reminds me of an robust IPA with a thick-body. It's similar to a new style known as Cascadian Dark Ale (CDA) or Black IPA that it starting to become popular in craft brewing. The hop-forward flavor is accompanied by traditional porter flavors, chocolate, caramel, and other dark malts. It is a good combination of styles and certainly worth drinking. I enjoy the combination of flavors and aromas that are a little non-traditional. As long as you enjoy it, who cares about BJCP, right?

The Bottom Line: Both ales I tried are something a little out of the ordinary and both are created outside their styles. I like to pick up bottles that are unique. A lot of breweries are breaking outside the normal bounds of style and creating enjoyable beverages like these two. This is the new American craft brew movement, inventing new styles and techniques. It's up to us to continue to encourage these breweries to continue! If you get a chance, buy some of these brews!

Stats:
Juniper Pale Ale:
Malts: Northwest Harrington, Crystal, Triumph, Maier Munich & C-15
Hops: Styrian Golding & Amarillo.
Specialty: Juniper berries.
Yeast & Water: Rogue's Pacman Yeast & Free Range Coastal Water.
13º PLATO
34 IBU
77 AA
3º Lovibond

New World Porter:
Hop Variety: Columbus, Fuggles
Malt Variety: Two-row Barley, Munich 10L, Chocolate, Black, Caramel 120L
OG: 1.065  
ABV: 6.7%  
IBUs: 45

Friday, August 20, 2010

One Beer

video

Tiny Toons was a cartoon aired from 1990-1992 with specials in '94 and '95. It was a Loony Toons spinoff with new young characters representative of the original Loony Toons creations. Buster Bunny, Plucky Duck, Hampton J. Pig, and Montana Max kept me entertained when I was 9-10 years old as they probably did for many of you.

This is the third segment of the third episode of the second season aired Sept. 18, 1991. It's called "One Beer" and shows what happens when Buster, Plucky, and Ham decide to split one brew. It was later banned because it shows "drug-related" content. It's hilarious!

My favorite parts:

Buster (about to take his first drink of beer): Ahhhh, Nectar of the hops!

Babs (after smelling Ham's breath): Barf-a-rama! They've been drinking!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Overdue Reviews!



I'm going to use this update to catch up on some past tastings that I haven't had a chance to write about. Some of these I tasted over a month ago so my impressions aren't as fresh. But at least you have cool beer pictures to look at!

The picture above is a homebrew that my friends Nick, Ramsey, and I brewed. It was an all-grain IPA and it met my expectations perfectly. Nick named it "Copper-Top IPA" since all three of us are redheads. This matches perfectly with my "Redhead Wit" that the three of us also brewed months earlier. As a matter of fact, Nick, when we open a brewery we can keep all the beer names redhead themed!

For those of you who don't homebrew, it is a great hobby for anybody who enjoys beer or the process of making beer. It's a fun excuse to get together with friends, drink beer, talk beer, smell beer, eat great food, be a scientist, a chef, and a historian all in one day. While brewing this beer we had the recipe, Nick's recipe, and Nick asked us if we wanted to add anything. He happened to have some hops in his fridge so we decided on a whim to throw in an extra ounce of bittering hops. That's homebrewing!

Nick also used 5 ounces of Cascade hops to dry hop and the great aroma compliments the intense bitterness of this brew. However, this did cause quite a bit of cloudiness in the finished product. Nick filled these bottles with a BeerGun counter-pressure bottle filler. This device allows you to fill bottles from an already carbonated keg. I rocked the bottles back and forth a couple times and they poured fine, carbonation level was good with a white, sticky, hoppy head.

The taste was, like I said above, perfectly matched to my expectations. It had a great citrusy hop aroma and a blasting hop bitterness. Mouthfeel was perfect as well, I already mentioned carbonation and the body was just thick enough to make this beer significant. I will post the recipe at the very bottom of this page. If anyone has questions about this beer or homebrewing in general feel free to contact me via email or in these or Facebook's comments.

Stats:
ABV 6.8%
OG 1.062
FG 1.010
IBU ???



Shiner Oktoberfest is a new seasonal offering from Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas. Starting in 2005, Shiner Brewery started releasing yearly offerings to commemorate their 100th anniversary. 2005, and Shiner Oktoberfest's original incarnation, was Shiner 96. This is the second re-release of one of their anniversary beers, the first being Shiner 97 re-released as Shiner Bohemian Black Lager. Shiner Oktoberfest is a seasonal offering, so buy it now while you can!

This brew is a very drinkable example of the Oktoberfest style. It pours that great amber color with a lingering light-colored head. The aroma smelled like a malty German brew, in my opinion, and is also indicative of the style. The flavor was smooth and malty with a little bit of a dry finish with very low bitterness. This brew is very easy to get through (or get through a six-pack if you fancy) and it certainly refreshing after a long day.

Stats:
ABV 5.7 %
OG 13° Plato
IBU 18
Color 12 SRM
Brewed with Munich and caramel malts, German-grown Tradition Hallertau and Hersbrucker hops.



North Coast Old Stock Ale (2010 vintage) was my wife's choice to try that night. I cooked huge steaks for the two of us, poured myself an Old Stock, poured my wife a glass of red wine, and relaxed.

The website for this beer declares that "like a fine port, Old Stock Ale is intended to be laid down. With an original gravity of over 1.100 and a generous hopping rate, Old Stock Ale is well-designed to round-out and mellow with age." I would agree, but don't let this hold you back from trying this excellent beer. Luckily, I bought another at the same time so it is now cellaring until next year (or maybe later) and I'll review it again.

It pours thick and mahogany with little to no head. It was in my taster glass and I could immediately catch the aroma of alcohol, one disadvantage of drinking a strong beer while young, and malty sweetness. The flavor was that of alcohol (again) and dark fruits like dark figs or prunes. Old Stock has very rich flavors so don't expect to drink it quickly. It has 11.7% ABV and a thick chewy body. It's harsh, but if you let it warm you can enjoy all the complexity of this brew. Drink slowly or better yet stick this beer in a cellar and forget about it!

Stats:
ABV 11.7% (2010)
Style Old Ale
IBU 36





Unfortunately, these last two brews are the ones I tasted the longest time ago. I can't remember too many specifics about my experience but I did jot down a couple of notes at the time on a post-it note. These are my scribbled notes, verbatim:

Broken Halo:
citrusy aroma
grapefruit flavor
smooth

IPA:
grassy aroma
spicy bitterness
harsher taste

I do remember that I enjoyed both beers. Widmer Brothers brew Broken Halo IPA and Lagunitas brews their flagship IPA. Widmer recommends drinking Broken Halo with spicy hot foods like mexican or asian dishes or hot wings. Lagunitas (Say "LAH-GOO-KNEE-TUSS") has a short video on the website with a quick note on aroma and flavor of their IPA. I do remember the Broken Halo being more crisp and citrusy and the Lagunitas being a little more earthy and harsh.

Stats:
Lagunitas IPA:
ABV 5.7%
Brewed with (according to their website, don't blame me for this stat) 43 different types of hops and 65 types of malt

Broken Halo IPA:
ABV 6.0%
IBU 45
OG 14.25° PLATO
Malts Pale, Caramel 10L & 20L, Carapils
Hops Alchemy, Cascade, Zeus

Thanks for reading!

All-Grain recipe for Copper-Top IPA:

American 2-row 12.0 lbs
Crystal 40L 1.0 lb
Vienna 0.5 lb

Pacific Jade 1 oz 60 min
Centennial 1 oz 45 min
Chinook 1 oz 30 min
Cascade 0.5 oz 20 min
Cascade 0.5 oz 10 min
Cascade 0.5 oz 3 min

White Labs WLP060 American Ale

Dry Hopped with 5 oz Cascade

OG 1.062
FG 1.010

5.5 gallon post-boil volume

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Arizona Tasting - Sonoran Cordillera Blanca



This week I've been working in and around Phoenix, AZ. The heat is brutal! In South Texas the humidity is what kills you, like living in a sauna. In Phoenix, it's like living in an oven (and I think my rental car technically qualifies as an oven at this point). Whoever says "it's a dry heat" is insane, it's still pretty bad! The temperature in my car was 129 degrees today when it was only 111 outside.

So needless to say, I needed a cold beer with a greasy pub dinner. I found a place in Tempe called Boulders on Broadway (530 W Broadway Road, Tempe, AZ 85282). As soon as I walked in the place I knew UrbanSpoon steered me right, they have something like 25 beers on tap including DogFish Head, Sierra Nevada, Rock Art, Sam Adams, Pyramid, Rogue, and many more! The only hard part was choosing which one I wanted.



So I decided on Rock Art Brewery's IPA. As you may recall, I drank and reviewed Rock Art's Vermontster a couple weeks ago. At that time Renee Nadeau, co-founder of the brewery, informed me that Rock Art brews were also distributed in Arizona. I saw a Kokopelli on the highway in Phoenix the other day so I figured it was appropriate.

Paul the bartender (hey, that's my name!) gave me a bottle of vinegar with my fish & chips and we had a nice conversation with a couple sitting at the bar. When I ordered the IPA he said "so you like good beers, huh?" I gave Paul the bartender the URL to this blog after talking about mead for awhile, so maybe I'll have another visitor reading this. Thanks for the beer Paul! Go visit this link for my previous post on Joe's Ancient Orange Mead.

Rock Art IPA was excellent! I love hoppy beers to the point that I've almost ruined my bitter palate. I am always chasing the next super hoppy example. This beer was a great balance between bitterness and flavor. It was a perfect compliment to my pub food, and it wasn't too bitter to be enjoyable. It's not a chugging beer, but it's also not too hard to get to the bottom of the glass. Recommended for sure!

The other beer I got to try tonight was an Arizona brew. I saw it in the store and picked it up on a whim without knowing anything about it except the name and that it's brewed in Scottsdale.



Sonora Brewing Company makes Cordillera Blanca White Chocolate Ale. I know, I know, I already reviewed a pale-colored chocolate ale. But, just like Theobroma, I expected this to be a brown or black color upon pouring. As you can see from the picture above, this beer pours a hazy pale yellow with a slight white head. At first glance you might mistake it for any light American lager style beer.

So the first thing I did, like I do with every brew, is take a big whiff to capture the initial aroma. Wow! I couldn't believe how similar to white chocolate this thing smelled! There is also a bit of a beery aroma as a side note.

By the way, as I am writing this a commercial for "triple-hop brewed" Miller Lite came on the TV. Seriously, how does their light beer being "triple hopped" make it taste better than the next yellow fizzy? Drink a Sam Adams Boston Lager or a Shiner Bock!

So, back to Cordillera Blanca. It's named after the Cordillera Blanca mountain range in Peru. The picture at the top of the page is what I'm dreaming about at night. 110+ degree weather will make you dream of snow. The name means "White Mountains" in Spanish and includes 33 major peaks, including the tallest peak in Peru.

This beer's flavor matches the aroma, distinctly white chocolate that lingers on the tongue. It is very light bodied and supposedly only has 4.7% ABV (this is according to the BeerAdvocate entry since the website for Sonoran Brewery is non-existent). It is extremely drinkable even with the strong flavor. I was able to easily get through the 22 oz. bottle. I'm pretty curious how they flavored it, I would almost guess that it's some sort of flavored extract since it's so strong. But, you know, it was a good beer so I can't complain!

Whew, this was a long one! Thanks for sticking with me, have a beer on me!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New Poll

Hello everyone, I have the results from STBB's last poll available. The question was "What is your favorite style of beer" and the list was far from inclusive. Here are the results from most votes to least votes:

Stout 7 votes (63%)
IPA (UK or USA) 6 votes (54%)
Wheat/Wit 4 votes (36%)
Pale Ale (UK or USA) 3 votes (27%)
Porter 3 votes (27%)
Belgian (all styles) 3 votes (27%)
Bock 2 votes (18%)
Pilsner 2 votes (18%)
Barleywine 2 votes (18%)
Lambic 1 votes (9%)
Scotch Ale 0 votes (0%) - my mother-in-law obviously didn't vote
American Light Lager 0 votes (0%) - surprise?

There were 11 votes and each person selected an average of 3 items on the list. Imagine if I had all 28 BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) Styles listed plus the subcategories! Maybe I'll do that next time!

So now there is a new poll up. Please vote on it, I'd like to mold this blog to the wants of my readers. I appreciate the feedback and you'll get to see more of what you want to see. If you have specific suggestions too detailed to leave to the poll please leave them in the comments below this post.

Thank you for reading. The Facebook page now has 33 fans and the Blogspot page has 8 followers. You guys motivate me to keep doing this. My sincere thanks!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Beer Weekend




This Friday I started my beer weekend with a trip to my Local Home Brew Store for our monthly Home Brew Dudes meeting. The store is located at Nacodoches and Judson Roads on the northeast side of San Antonio. They have all sorts of beer, wine, and cheese making equipment and knowledgeable staff that can help you with your home brewing needs. I've been going there for about a year and a half and I've been a Home Brew Dude for about a year.

The membership costs $20/year but it's worthwhile to anybody interested in craft and home brewing. Each month the club brews a beer and everybody brings food, craft beer, and home brew to share. It's not structured per style (except the monthly recipe which is chosen in advance) so everybody just brings and tastes what they have. We also taste home brewed wine, mead, and sake when someone makes it available (including an interesting broccoli wine that tastes like steamed broccoli). You can also volunteer to do the brewing for the month and Stu/Bret usually do an educational portion where they go over the monthly style, equipment, technique, and recipes.

Last night I tasted everything from Cherry/Blackberry Ale from Craig, a Shiner Bock clone from Jason (his first brew!), Chocolate Mole Stout from Nick, and I gave out samples of my Devon White Ales (sour!) and my Mint Chocolate Stout.

Visit their website and stop in the store! This is the best homebrew store in San Antonio and the guys and gals are always helpful. Or give them a call at 210-650-9070.

Saturday I caught wind of another beer group meeting up from my friend Nick. They are the San Antonio Cerveceros and they are committed to creating a craft beer community in San Antonio. "We are a welcoming, friendly and teaching club" says their mission statement. I met with them for the first time today at Freetail Brewing Company (pictured above) including a representative from Boston Beer Company (i.e. Samuel Adams) named Meagen. I told her and the founders of the Cerveceros about this blog so let's see if they find it and enjoy. Welcome!

Go to the link above for their Facebook page and click "Like" to follow their activity. They have meetings once a month, different locations each time, and they usually discuss craft brewing, home brewing, and how to build our craft beer community in San Antonio. Membership is $50/year and the next meeting is next Sunday, August 15 at 1PM. It will be held at Blue Star Brewery in downtown San Antonio. They welcome members and visitors alike.

I had a great brew weekend! Share your weekend beer stories in the comments!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Show Me State Brews



Tonight I will make a quick tasting post from St. Louis, Missouri. I was only supposed to be here for the day, well now I will be here at least tomorrow and maybe Friday. So I decided to see if I could find a MO brew to try. I went to the store and bought a bottle of Boulevard Double-Wide IPA, No. 2 in their Smokestack series, from Kansas City, MO. I planned on coming back to the room, drinking it, and retiring early. It didn't work out that way so tonight will be a short post.

Well, my uncle called me and said he wanted to take me to a St. Louis brewery for dinner. I couldn't say no, so I met him at Schlafly Bottleworks. It was awesome to see family that I haven't seen in years, and even more awesome that it was at a MO-brewery. I tried the Pale Ale, listed as their signature year-round beer. It was a British style pale ale with a subdued earthy hop aroma and flavor. It drank smoothly with a slight bitter aftertaste.

I will recommend a few links:

Schlafly Beer Style

Schlafly Facebook Fan Page

My photos of the Bottleworks

So once I got back to the hotel room I went ahead and prepared to open my Double-Wide IPA. However, I noticed that this hotel room only had plastic cups. I should have bought a souvenir glass as Schlafly!

Anyway, it poured very heady and angry, foaming up almost the entire glass. This was probably partially the type of glass (plastic) that I poured it in. But the aroma blasting me with American hops told the rest of the story. The head retention is aided by the hop content of a beer, this beer had a solid wall of hops to get through.

My first taste was what I expected for a Double IPA style, extremely hoppy (like I like it) with a nice balance of caramel malt sweetness and a nice citrusy bite. The Smokestack Series website lists their hop varieties as Zeus and Magnum for bittering and aroma, Ahtamun for aroma only, and dry hopped twice with Ahtamun, Centennial, and Chinook varieties.

My only warning would be that this beer is not for the faint of heart or tastebud. As the name "Double-Wide" would suggest, this is a F4 Hop Storm which shows no restraint (not my description, it's from their website). Don't buy the bottle expecting a light easy drinker.

The Bottom Line: If you can make it to the St. Louis area, visit Schlafly. They also run a taproom in the downtown area that is more like a pub versus the restaurant-like Bottleworks. It is a brewery rich with history for the city and state. I know I didn't get into it in this article, but their website is worth a read for sure.

As for Boulevard, I have tried No. 1 and now No. 2 in their Smokestack Series. I'll keep an eye out for the rest of the series in South Texas. I was not disappointed and since I enjoy extremely hoppy brews I extremely enjoyed imbibing this beverage. Try it if you have a strong tongue!

Edit: Try it with a friend, it was hard to get through the bottle by myself!

Stats:
Schlafly Pale Ale:
ABV: 4.4%
OG: 11.5 Plato
IBU: 27
CAL (12 oz.): 155

Double-Wide IPA:
ABV: 8.5%
IBU: 55
OG: 19 Plato
FG: 4 Plato
First Release: 11/12/2007

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Something Old and Something Older...

How would you like to try a beer that is brewed by a brewery that has existed for over 1000 years? How about drinking a beer that was brewed somewhere around 3200 years ago? How about both?



Dogfish Head Theobroma was the first brew we tried. It is part of their Ancient Ale series along with Midas Touch and Chateau Jiahu. The recipe for Theobroma ("Food of the Gods") is extrapolated from chemical analysis from pottery fragments that held the beverage (or something like it) from before 1100 BC in Honduras. The discovery of this beverage gives us a chance to drink something that ancient South American civilizations drank over 3200 years ago. It also pushed back the earliest known use of cocoa for human consumption by approximately 500 years, which is pretty damn cool for a US microbrewery to learn in my opinion.

This chocolate drink was used to toast special occasions and was intended for the gods, kings, and the elite (as per the bottle). It pours bright gold with a wisp of carbonation that is quickly dissipated. I actually surprised Ramsey since he, and most people, would assume that a chocolate ale would be brown in color. The initial aroma from the bottle is that of chocolate milk, but that also quickly fades. The aroma in the glass is slight alcohol and even slighter honey. The taste doesn't overpower with any one flavor (besides the very apparent alcoholic burn). Neither of us could pick out chocolate per se, but it did have notes of cocoa, ancho chilies, and honey.

This ale reminded me of Midas Touch Golden Elixer, also brewed by Dogfish Head and also an Ancient Ale. The bottle was marked bottled in 2010A so it may be that over time with aging the alcohol burn would fade and some of the other flavors may become more apparent.

Go watch Dogfish Head's Quick Sip Clip on Theobroma's website for some information on the brewing process, the molecular anthropologist, and monkey parties.



Schloss Eggenberg Doppelbock Dunkel from Vorchdorf, Austria was beer #2 in our lineup tonight. Not only is the name a mouthful, but it's STBB's first import review (yay!) and expensive as hell. It was $14.49 for a 4-pack at a wine and liquor store in Florida.

So here is my theory on this beer, tell me what you think. On the bottle it's labeled as a "malt liquor" and is imported to Virginia. If you are a brewery in Austria and you are importing to the USA, you would want to save some money and print only one style of label. Certain states require beer above a certain ABV to be labeled as malt liquor instead of beer. Texas is not one of those states. So this beer is probably only available on east coast states that have the "malt liquor" label regulation. How's that theory?

Here's another interesting tidbit: Doppelbock and Dunkel are two different styles of beer. Both are malty, strong, dark lagers originated in Bavaria. It is interesting to me that this beer is listed as a "doppelbock dunkel" on the label.

Anyway, this beer is pretty straightforward. Pours dark with a light-brown head that retains a little bit as you drink it down the glass. Aroma is malty and roasted with no fruit or spice notes. My taste buds picked up sweet malt with a hop balance on the back end. I also detect caramel and roasted coffee flavors with each sip, with the roasted and bitter flavors coming through as it warms. I almost want to say that I taste candy flavoring, like a burnt version of Werther's Original caramel.

Schloss Eggenberg, by the way, has been "mentioned" over 1000 years ago (in the year 971 to be exact). Their "liquid bread" was brewed for the inhabitants of that area at that time. The family Forstinger-Stöhr has possessed the brewery for over 200 years and has since been constantly developed and modernized by their ancestors.

The Bottom Line: Both beers tasted tonight are higher alcohol "ancient" ales with interesting style definitions. They both were interesting examples of how beer can change and evolve, yet really stay the same, over the centuries. If you can picture an ancient Aztec lord toasting to this golden chocolate ale or a Bavarian family traveling to the brewery for their weekly beer, you will appreciate both of these ales. The Theobroma was $13.99 for approximately 2 pints (1 pt. 9.6 fl. oz) and the Doppelbock Dunkel was $14.49 for a 4-pack, so be prepared to spend some money to live like the ancients. I would say that both are one to try once. Maybe sit outside and look at the stars while you slowly imbibe, maybe chew on a sugar cane, or maybe drink it in a hotel room while discussing computer programming information (like me). You, the craft drinker, will enjoy this beer anyway.

Stats:
Theobroma:
ABV: 9%
Special Ingredients: honey, cocoa nibs, cocoa powder, ancho chilies & ground annatto (tree seeds)
Doppelbock Dunkel:
ABV: 8.5%

Monday, August 2, 2010

Dogfish Head Red & White



Saturday my wife and I were at the store trying to decide what to try that night. She couldn't find the bottle of wine that she wanted to try and I couldn't decide on what mega-super hoppy-imperial-double-triple ale I wanted to try. So I saw the very last lonely bottle of Dogfish Head Red & White on the shelf. I decided it was a good compromise and something she and I would both enjoy.

The label states that this is a typical Belgian Witbier, brewed with orange and coriander, mixed with Pinor Noir juice and aged on oak barrels. 11% in Pinot Noir barrels and 89% on oak staves. It also boasts a 10% ABV so I was expecting another big Dogfish brew.

So I poured two glasses, they poured a dark gold or light reddish color. My wife wanted me to point out that this was "beer red" not "wine red" like the pinot noir would suggest. The aroma wasn't overpowering, to me the first whiff was a winey nose with the suggestion of alcohol which faded along with the white head. When I smelled it again I couldn't get anything more out of it except a bit of that grapey nose.

The first taste was delicious! My wife and I both took a sip at the same time. You could definitely tell it was 10% ABV and we both got a blast of flavors and warmth at the back of our throats. I tried to pick out citrus, coriander, grapes, hops, malt, etc. but it all went too fast. I couldn't get the individual flavors because there were too many melded together. Our second and subsequent tastes didn't have the initial surprising blast of flavor that the first one did. We were both a little disappointed that we failed to pick and identify the witbier and wine parts.

I should mention another thing. I poured this at maybe 45 degrees or so straight from the fridge and, as I mentioned above, there was a warm alcohol flavor at the back of our throats. Well, as it warmed it did the opposite I expected. The beer got smoother as it got warmed, I expected the alcohol to shine through but it was much mellower than I expected at that point. The initial mouthfeel was like a typical wheat beer with a medium-high thickness. As it warmed I felt it also felt thinner as well as smoother. Very interesting beer!

The Bottom Line: While this beer is not my typical forte when I'm drinking on my own, I have to say I enjoyed it. I always enjoy Dogfish Head beers since "off centered ales, for off centered people" seems to describe me so well. I would recommend trying this one for anybody who is interested in experimental styles or trying something new. As a "limited rarity" you should pick up a bottle when you see one. For 2010, they released it in February so it will probably be a little hard to find starting soon. If you find one age it or drink it right away, and be sure to share with the wine drinker in your life!

Stats:
Style: Belgian Witbier with Pinor Noir juice
ABV: 10%
IBU: 35
Original Release Date: 01/2007
Recommended glassware: snifter

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Vermonster!

Well, here I am again traveling for work up in the northeast US. They happen to have a lot of beer that we cannot get in South Texas. So once again, my friend and I went to buy some brews to enjoy while on the road. We decided on 2 bottles of Rock Art Brewery's Vermonster Ale and a 6-pk of McSorley's Irish Pale Ale.

First, the McSorley's: Let me give you a little history and you can jump to your own conclusions.


The glasses were better in the Mariott

McSorley's Ale was originally brewed by Fidelio Brewery in Manhattan until Prohibition when they went out of business. McSorley's continued to be brewed illegally (do you blame them?) in the basement of the Alehouse until after Prohibition when Fidelio came back to life. During the 1940s they changed their name to the Greater New York Brewing Company and then promptly went into the hands of Rheingold Brewery who brewed McSorley's for 30 years. Then it was sold to Schmidt's Brewers of Philadelphia and then, in the 1990s, to Pabst Blue Ribbon. reference

Long history aside (150 years worth) the ownership of this beer by PBR was something I didn't look up until after I tasted it. It was bland and forgettable. I don't mean to be a snob but I expect my beers to taste like beer. Malt, hops, and any flavor at all would be nice. This is another example of the macrobrewers tricking us into buying something artificial.

Before I get into Vermonster, a little history:

Last year, Rock Art Brewery in Morrisville, VT released a 10 year anniversary brew called "Vermonster." It is a big 10% ABV, 100 IBU beer and was meant to tie them to their home state of Vermont. Well, Hansen Beverage Company who makes Monster Energy Drinks felt that consumers would be confused by the supposed "similarity" between the names. Considering Rock Art Brewery is one of the small guys (9 people to be exact) versus a huge mega-company, the consensus is that Hansen was going to force them to comply through expensive legal proceedings.

Anyway, I won't go into too much detail (beernews.org timeline and beernews.org Rock Art wins if you are interested). After overwhelming online support from people who had never even heard of Rock Art Brewery (including me), Hansen eventually dropped their C&D if Rock Art promised not to get into the energy drink market. Turns out, Monster drinks are distributed by Anheuser-Busch who sued another craft brewer, Dogfish Head, over stupid name conflicts (that time over the names "punkin" and "chicory" in Dogfish beers).

So, there's your history lesson for the day. Here's your beer.



In addition to the smug satisfaction I felt drinking this beer instead of a Bud Light, I also felt something else. It could be the feeling I get when I drink a big beer, or maybe the feeling I get when I try something new, or maybe what I'm feeling is enjoyment!

Vermonster pours heavy and reddish-brown into the glass with a thin head that quickly dissapates into sticky residue that coats as you drink. The aroma is surprisingly mild but I could detect some raisin notes, especially as it warmed. Rock Art recommends a brandy glass or wide mouth wine glass to enjoy this ale to it's fullest.

My first sip warmed my gullet in a pleasant way, a nice nightcap I would say. It started off with a balanced malt sweetness that I would describe as barlywine-like. As it got warmer and I emptied my glass I began to taste a few more things. First, hop bitterness from the 100 IBUs began to break through my palate and leave that wonderful hoppy aftertaste on my tongue. Later, I felt like I was drinking a spiced ale with allspice and/or cinnamon flavors coming through.

Luckily, I had a 22 oz. to drink all by myself!

The Bottom Line: If you happen to visit the Eastern US, The Vermonster is a beer to try and buy. If you make it to Vermont, they do regular tastings and fill growlers for visitors. I would recommend joining their Facebook page to support them and craft brewing in general. I'm looking forward to trying some of their other offerings in the future (Jasmine Pale Ale sounds interesting).

As for McSorley's, pass. Forgettable. Bland. Macro. Bleh.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sierra Nevada's 30th Anniversary



This Friday I decided to taste something that had been in the fridge for awhile, something new and exciting, something my wife picked. Luckily, she made a good choice.

Sierra Nevada Brewery is releasing 4 beers to commemorate their 30th anniversary. They have released 2 of the 4 already and I happened to get a bottle of #2: Charlie, Fred, and Ken's Bock.

As you can see from the picture, this lager came in a 22 oz. bomber that was corked and caged. It sits at 8.3% ABV, hence the "imperial" in the name, and tastes as good as it looks! When I poured into my taster glass a foamy white head bloomed and then faded and left behind a slightly cloudy, golden nectar that I could hardly keep away from my wife. We both smelled the sweetness right away, honey with maybe a bit of the toasted aroma the website describes. It was definitely bold!

The taste was awesome, smooth and sweet with just the right amount of hop bitterness to balance. After sharing this bottle with me my wife declared bock as her new favorite beer style. This bottle happened to be the last one in the store and we bought it because we didn't think we'd see it again. I wish that wasn't the case!

Just a little bit about the name:

Charlie Papazian is a pioneering homebrewer in the US. He founded the Association of Brewers, Great American Beer Festival, and wrote The Complete Joy of Homebrewing of which he has sold over 900,000 copies. It's easy to say that if it wasn't for Charlie we probably wouldn't be homebrewing like we are now, if at all. His book was my first homebrewing book and summarizes most homebrewers philosophy: Relax, Don't Worry, Have a Homebrew!

Fred Eckhardt is also a pioneering homebrewer. He is known as a "beer personality" or "beer guru" and frequently lectures and judges at the Lone Star Circuit "Dixie Cup" in Houston, TX - a huge homebrew competition that judges homebrewer, team, and club of the year for the state of Texas. He also wrote The Essentials of Beer Style in 1989 which has become a sort of Rosetta Stone for beer judges everywhere.

Ken Grossman is one of the founders of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Chico, CA in 1980. This is one of the most popular craft breweries in the USA. Their Pale Ale is the second highest selling craft beer in the US, second only to Samuel Adams Boston Lager.

The Bottom Line: I wish I had more than one bottle of this beer! It tasted even better knowing the recipe had been formulated by two of the country's top homebrewers. I'm hoping for two things: #1 - that the rest of the 30th Anniversary series tastes as good as this one and #2 - that I can find it in South Texas!

Stats:
Style: Imperial Helles Lager
ABV: 8.3%

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Harviestoun Ola Dubh (30 Year Old)



Welcome to South Texas Beer Blog, where you can see and read about Scottish beers aged in Scottish whiskey barrels that you cannot buy in the UK. Why would this brewery only sell to the USA? I don't know and since I got to drink one, I don't care. They are brewed and aged in "small batches" so each bottle is numbered and dated. They come in a faux-whiskey box and have a small Harviestoun charm hanging from the neck. We got the 30 year batch but there were 12, 16, 18, and 40 year reserves.

We got bottle 21323/Sept. 2007 - and yes, we laughed at "Master of Wood"

This black old ale (Ola Dubh means 'Black Oil') is definitely not one to bring to the lake. It sips like a bourbon whiskey and is best as an evening nightcap or paired with British Cheshire cheese or cuisine like Scotched woodcock, Gentlemen's relish on toast, devilled pilchards, devilled kidneys, or a rich fruitcake. I split an 11.2 oz. bottle with my friend Ramsey and we both had different, but similar impressions.

My Impressions: Pours jet black, thin, with a caramel head. Roasted stout/porter aromas filled the room as I poured our two glasses. As a matter of fact, the aroma led me to believe that it would have roasty, coffee, and chocolaty flavors. The slight chocolate was there but the taste was overpowered by the oak. It has a definate spirity mouthfeel, low carbonation, not really like a beer. Overall, it was like having a glass of Bushmills or Jameson Irish Whiskey with subtle stout undertones.

Ramsey's Impressions: "I would say very smooth, dark concoction with oak notes and a very impressive body but it's not heavy, that's what surprised me. And it tasted like a stout. Oh, and it smells like whiskey!"

Ola Dubh's website has a lot more information about the brewers and the collaboration with the distillery (Highland Park Distillery, Scotland). This is the first time a named distillery has aged beer in their barrels. They use Flash so it's a little annoying to navigate and it won't work on your iPhone or iPad, but I still recommend "How do you Ola Dubh?" for food pairings and a whole lot of information about British cheese. I also checked out "The story of Ola Dubh" for some interesting information.

The Bottom Line: Find a bottle, try it out. If you enjoy stouts and/or good whiskey you will enjoy this beer. Next time I think I'll try to find some of that British cheese they talk about!

Stats:
Style: Old Ale
ABV 8%

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Stone Double Bastard Ale



"Ye Shall Know the Bastard, and the Bastard Shall Set You Free."

Holy Bastard this ale is awesome!

Double Bastard Ale

First, I'd like to thank the DoubleTree hotel in Princeton, NJ for providing water glasses that almost perfectly match the taster glass on the Stone website. They obviously thought of men like me when they chose them.

Second, I'd like to thank Stone for brewing such a Bastard of an ale. With classified hop varieties and IBU, this beer has been brewed since 1997. It's available (according to the website) November in 22 oz. bottles, 3 liter bottles, and limited draft. We happened upon a 22 oz. bottle in a liquor store in New Jersey (I'm traveling for work with a friend/co-worker/co-brewer/co-arrogant bastard). We made quite the Double Bastard drinking this extra-hoppy concoction.

This is one of those IPAs that is hopped so heavily that the malt bill has to be increased enough to balance. The malt sweetness is not initially noticeable since it blows your nose off with hop aroma. I got a waft of smokiness as well. The beer pours amber and thick with a sticky, hoppy head. The first taste has that initial smoky flavor, balanced malt sweetness and, of course, hoppy bitterness that stays on the tongue.

I really enjoyed this ale. Our bottle was labeled as a 2009 release and will cellar and age well (and taste great) regardless of vintage. Buying the bottle is worth it for the quote on the back alone, my favorite line:

Perhaps you have been so lulled by the siren song of ignorance that you don't even notice your white-knuckle grip on it.

Bottom Line: Be a Bastard, be a Double Bastard. Drink this ale if you can find it. I haven't seen it in South Texas, but if you do share with the rest of us aficionados.

Stats:
Hop Varities: CLASSIFIED
ABV: 10.5%
IBU: CLASSIFIED

Friday, July 16, 2010

Left Hand Milk Stout



Left Hand Brewing Company

If your experience in drinking beer is limited, Left Hand Brewing Company's Milk Stout is definitely one to pick up. Here's where you can find them.

Sweet Stout, Cream Stout, and Milk Stout are all traditional names for "sweet" tasting stout beers. Normally, sweetness refers to a low-attenuation by the yeast. In other words, the beer is sweet because there are a lot of residual sugars that the yeast did not eat and turn into CO2 and alcohol. In the case of this style the sweetness is caused by the additional of a non-fermentable sugar, lactose.

If you see a beer named or described as any of the above three titles they are all the same style and can be quite delicious! As an interesting note, apparently in England (where the style originated) they aren't allowed to use the term "milk stout" anymore. I don't know why (but if you know leave the info in the comments).

Left Hand's Milk Stout has a subdued roasted character and creamy flavor. Since it's carbonated and not nitrogenated the creaminess is not as significant as Guinness or Young's Double Chocolate Stout. However, the sweetness balances this stout well and makes it a good choice for borderline drinkers as well as experienced craft brew enthusiasts.

Bottom Line: Great example of a sweet stout. Must try this one! Creamy and slightly roasty, it's my brother-in-law's favorite beer (maybe). And that makes it worthwhile to try at least once!

Stats:
SRM - 47
ABV - 6%
IBU - 25
Plato - 15.5
Malts - Pale 2-row, Crystal, Munich, Roast Barley, Flaked Oats, Flaked Barley, and Chocolate
Hops - Magnum and US Goldings
Other - Lactose

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Joe's Ancient Orange Mead




Joe's Ancient Orange Mead, or JAOM, is a simple homebrew mead recipe that originated from Joe Mattioli on MoreMead.com and seems to be pretty popular with homebrewers on HomeBrewTalk.com.

Mead is a beverage of love! Originally the word "honeymoon" came from the provision of mead to newlyweds for 30 days (or one moon) after the wedding. The beverage was attributed to the birth of sons and was drank by many many civilizations. Meadmakers were regarded as dignitaries and were congratulated when the child was born. Now, anybody can make mead in their home with ingredients found at the grocery store!

I made a 1 gallon batch of JAOM tonight. It's extremely easy with ingredients you can get from any grocery store. I'm using a 1 gallon apple cider container that I've saved (actually I have 4 of them for various mead and beer batches I've done). The only "specialty" equipment I'm using is the rubber stopper and 3 piece airlock I bought at my Local Homebrew Store.

From the information I can gather this yeast will ferment from 13-15% before stopping. The OG (Original Gravity or sugar content reading) was 1.132 which is pretty high. High gravity means high alcohol content! However, it will also finish pretty sweet with residual honey and orange flavor (maybe somewhere around 1.030). I'm really looking forward to drinking it!

Here are a few links for this recipe, some pictures and discussion about other homebrewer's experiences with making it. Good luck with your own batch!

Joe's original post on MoreMead

HomeBrewTalk

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Rogue Dead Guy Ale




Today is my father-in-law Mike's birthday, so I let him choose from an assortment of beer in my fridge which one he would like to try and I'll write a post about it. He chose Rogue Dead Guy Ale, one of their most popular offerings. I opened and poured and then he gave me a hard time for giving him "dead guy ale" on his birthday! Is someone feeling old?

Anyway, I've actually never tried Dead Guy Ale before so I bought a bottle. I like Rogue's assortment but I usually choose their more extreme offerings. Dead Guy was actually surprisingly complex and unique. I don't usually trust breweries most popular offerings since most people drink Bud Light. For example, Real Ale in Blanco, TX has great beer but I don't care for their most popular Fireman's 4 Blonde Ale. Different tastes for different people I suppose.

This ale is a malty, hearty beverage described as honey in color on the bottle and on Rogue's website. Maybe we were influenced by the description but Mike and I both tasted honey flavor in this malt-strong ale. Everything about this beer screams malt, the deep golden cloudy color, the aroma, and most definitely the taste. It was just balanced enough to subdue the sweetness. I enjoyed it, but as a fan of hoppy beers I would probably only have one of these before switching to a more bitter offering.

Rogue publishes the origin of this beer on their website:

In the early 1990s Dead Guy Ale was created as a private tap sticker to celebrate the Mayan Day of the Dead (November 1st, All Souls Day) for Casa U Betcha in Portland, Oregon. The Dead Guy design proved so popular with consumers and especially Grateful Dead fans, that we made it the label for our Maierbock ale. Even though the association with the Grateful Dead band is pure coincidence, we have gratefully dedicated Dead Guy Ale to the Rogue in each of us.

I felt like a Rogue, and a Grateful Dead fan, after reading all about it.

Bottom Line: I would definitely recommend this ale. This actually might be a good choice for a friend trying to "convert" another Bud Light drinker to real beer. I'd love to find a 64 oz. growler that they advertise on their site. Finding that in South Texas is not very likely. The more beer drinkers that identify themselves, the more likely it becomes!

Stats:
16º PLATO
40 IBU
78 AA
16º Lovibond

Friday, July 9, 2010

Where's my 120 Minute IPA?


120 Minute IPA news!

Well, keep an eye out for bottles in early August! If you find bottles in South Texas make sure to comment on this post on where you found them.

For those of you who have never tried Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA, it's a pretty hefty drink. It comes in 12 oz. bottles for $10 each and it is a good idea to share. Find a drinking buddy and pour half into tulip or wine glasses to try. The ultimate hoppy beer!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Freetail Brewing Co.



Freetail Brewing Co. is a great microbrew pub in North San Antonio. They've been open since November 2008 and are a must visit for any craft beer enthusiast in South Texas. They recently made an annoucement on their Facebook page.

Alright... here is the info! Saturday July 17. Freetail and Real Ale are partnering up for a festival of barrel aged beers. On tap from Real Ale: Empire (barrel aged Lost Gold IPA), Highlander (barrel aged Real Heavy) and Devil's Share (barrel aged Devil's Backbone). From Freetail: Barrel Aged La Muerta, Barrel Aged... Old Bat Rastard, Solera IV and Solera V. Also a number of other Real Ale and Freetail beers on tap

I'll be there! Real Ale only sells Lost Gold IPA and Real Heavy in kegs and I have never seen them in San Antonio. I'm excited to try all three!

I also purchased a bottle of Freetail's 3Tail Ale on Saturday morning. It is their Belgian Golden Strong Ale sitting between 9 and 9.9% ABV (depending on what source you read) released in limited quantities in the bottle. This time they only had 70 bottles available. I'll review it in the future!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Rogue Chipotle Ale



My Father-in-law (Mike) recently purchased a bottle of Rogue Chipotle Ale for us to try. We cracked it open last night and split the 22 oz. bottle. I really like Rogue beers but I have to be honest, this one wasn't really my cup of tea (or beer as it was). My Father-in-law and wife didn't really like it either. I think it was a couple of things, first some information about the brew.

Rogue publishes that this beer is dedicated to a Spanish author named Juan de la Cueva who, in 1575, wrote about an ale made with seedless chipotle peppers. An interesting suggestion on the website (Chipotle Ale) suggests blending it with a Rogue Chocolate Stout for a mole black & tan. Now that's something I would find interesting to try!

Anyway, back to the beer. It pours a dark golden color, which was kind of surprising because they state that the Chipotle Ale recipe is based on their American Amber Ale which is quite a bit darker. It had a nice thick foamy head which retained to the bottom of the glass. The aroma was a little, well, funky. None of us could quite put our fingers on it but I assume it was the burnt, roasty smell from the chiles. The first sip hit me in the front end with a lot of smokey flavor. It tasted almost exactly like Shiner Smokehaus in my opinion. There was no spiciness which is what I expected from this description:

Roasted chipotle peppers produce an eye opening chile flavor in this deep golden ale with a malty, smoky aroma and smooth, crisp flavor.

Both Mike and I detected maybe a tiny tiny hint of spice at the back of our tongue. It was definitely not "eye opening chile flavor" but more of a tickle.

Bottom Line: While this ale wasn't bad in any way, it also wasn't my favorite. If you are looking for a chile pepper beer this isn't one to pick up. If you are a fan of Rauchbiers or any kind of smoked beers I would certainly give this one a try. I give it one chili pepper out of 5.

Stats:
12º PLATO
35 IBU
82 AA
23º Lovibond

Monday, June 28, 2010

Support Your Local Brewery


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Support your local brewery! This website has a lot of information pertaining to state and national laws that affect craft brewers and beer enthusiasts. Sign up for email updates for your local and national issues.

For example, did you know that excise taxes collected from beer add up to more than the profits of the entire brewing industry? Could you imagine that kind of taxation on other industries?

From the website: The goal of Support Your Local Brewery is to support small, independent and traditional brewers' efforts to secure fair legislative and regulatory treatment by mobilizing beer enthusiasts across America into a national grass roots movement that will collectively impact the legislative and regulatory process when necessary.

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

F1RST!

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