Sunday, August 31, 2008

Oktober in August

It's still busting 100 degrees feel in Houston, but the boys at St. Arnolds have put out their Oktoberfest. I think they actually have their Christmas Ale out as well. I'll hit that one later on when the weather dips below 80. But I grabbed the Harvest Moon as well, one of the Blue Moons I really enjoy.

August 18, 2008
Harvest Moon
Yes I found my beer log book, it was in my laptop case. Smells of cinnamon, light caramel, light pumpkin. It's coppergold color with a strong tinged white head. Tastes of pumpkin but a little watery/metallic near the back that went away after the first sip. Light caramel and medium carbonation come through on the next slug. Lightly hopped. If someone told me it had honey in there, I would not be surprised. There's a kind of nutmeginess lingering on my tongue as well. It could be b/c this is the first Fall beer I've had this season and I was really feenin for some fall beer, but I'm giving this one 4 stars baby!

St. Arnold's Oktoberfest
Ah the local ish. Copper color with a fizzy head. It's got a malty and bubble gum like smell. A touch of cinnamon. It has a malty taste with a velvety finish. Med-light body with low carbonation. Remind me of a dopplebock. Very good stuff. 3 Stars

FYI, I have had a few more of the Harvest Moons since this review and I'm moving it down to 3 Stars. It was just the shock of a new style of brew I hadn't had in ages. I'm thinking about maybe having maybe getting a Coors Light or something before I review a new beer. Sometimes I'll find myself just fired up to have a beer at all, especially if its been a while.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Oktober in August

Maybe it's cooling down where you guys live, but it still was way over 100 degrees on the heat index here in Houston. We still have Hurricanes shooting the gap every week or so. But things like St. Arnolds Oktoberfest and Harvest Moon are appearing on the shelves. Those negros at St. Arn even tapped their Christmas Ale at the bars. And I'm seeing the Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale and I think a Winter warmer in the local HEB. WTF man. I'm still losing 7 pounds of water weight in 18 holes of golf.
But I am starting to go back to malty beers as I'm kinda of IPAing myself out. I think I've had enough of the hops, as I did an IPA tour at the Sauce recently and I've been trying beers like the Sierra Nevada Anniversary and the Southern Star (new shit). I would have reviewed those but they were out of a bottle/can. I'll get 'em later. You know its something serious when a 6 pack of Shiner Helles Lager was knocking me over with sweetness at our fantasy football draft last weekend. So we have tried a couple of pumpkin ales and Oktoberfests. Here's the first one I've been able to get into the blog.

What's up with the "C", why not with a "K". I know these guys are patriots, but damn.

Copper color with a light tan head. Munich malt smell. Head has pretty good retention in this beer mug. (Eating spicy catfish and lemon ginger asparagus). Oh yeah. Kinda sweet like syrup, not caramely. Medium body, low hops (probably hallertau). Very well done again for Sammy. Kinda reminds me of the Shiner Helles Lager to be honest. Lower carbonation. 3 Stars. Maybe a touch of emptiness (wateriness) at the very end, which keeps it out of the 4 stars. Nice foil for this catfish. Granted, come late winter, I won't be talking much noise about Oktoberfests, as I'll need some warmers.

Buffalo Bills Pumpkin Ale (yesterday)

State: Eating pot roast with carrots and greens

A good friend of the family wanted to whip up some Sunday dinner and invited us along. Good stuff, as we had no plans. She knows we are a beering family, so she picks up some Pumpkin ale. Looks like apple cider. Low head that goes away fast. Very sweet smell, with remnants of cinnamon and pumpkin. I take a big sip and I notice its light body with lots of pumpkin and allspice. A little overwhelming for me. Low hops with a quick finish. Low carbonation. It's basically a pumpkin pie beer. Even has the light roasted malt near the back of the pallette, kinda like a browned pie crust. But I'm going to have to give this one a low 3 star. If they could dial the pumpkin pie back a little, I'd be in there. In this case, I'm looking for some subtly.

If I find my book, I'll go on and put in the St. Arn and Harvest Moon. Otherwise, I'm taking a 36 hour trip to Hotlanta and my grad school, Georgia Tech. It's a very quick turnaround but I'm going to try and squeeze in Sweetwater brewpub. We'll see. I'm a Ramblin, Gamblin hell of an Engineer, HEY!!!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Beering on Weight Watchers: Lost 6 pounds

How about that!

I've started the weight watchers, and I lost 6 pounds in the first week, going from 242 lbs to 236 lbs. Granted I work out a lot, so I get more points to eat more, but I've lost the poundage while drinking beers like Stone IPA, St. Arnolds Oktoberfest, the Harvest Moon, and Stone's Arrogant Bastard. I even fell off the wagon and blew my weekly points in one night at the Flying Saucer doing a tour of IPAs which pretty much knocked me out of the harsh hops game for a while, I'll explain later. 6 pounds is a bit fast, so I'll make sure I don't over due it start losing muscle mass and bones. Just trying to lose the fat.
So it looks like the system works, and you can have some beer nearly every night and lose fat. You won't be getting drunk as much (assuming you are drinking bigger beers instead of Mich Ultra), but it's all good anyway. My stomach does not have that persistent pudge and I don't have to suck it in when women walk by. I'm only a couple more pounds away from having a flat stomach and wearing my extra-medium Affliction shirts again. Brothas are rocking the extra-medium gear these days. Anyway, I can't find my beer book or I'd outline my recent tastings. Just wanted to brag. Holla.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Kegeratoring and Arrogant Bastard

Coming to you LIVE. Blogging as I drink.

I have been working on making a kegerator and had gone as far as pricing and sizing equipment before I went back offshore. But true to form of an oil guy, I opted for the mergers and acquisitions rather than building up from scratch. I found a fully constructed kegerator (made out of a GE 7 cf freezer) on craigslist for a good price and I just picked it up today. Things were going pretty well until I noticed that the top of the draft tower was missing, so I could not plug in the kegerator to get it cool.

I took another corny keg I bought as well and cleaned out and sanitized the lines. I was good to go and feeling good that I actually got liquid to come out of the tap handle. I tried to the quick disconnect on the keg of IPA I brewed what is now over a month ago. I was so fired up about finally getting at this beer, I did not vent the sonofabitch before hooking up the CO2. Just like real Acquisitions, the buyer is trying to move too fast and doesn't know how to handle their new assets, and the seller is unloading their stuff as they have something better in the hopper.

Forthwith, a flowery hop aroma liquid went flying out of the CO2 regulator and onto my workout equipment and garage floor. Once the pressure equilibrated, I was able to muscle the quick disconnect off the keg. After some cursing, I tried to rehook up the beer and CO2 lines. Turns out the quick disconnects are slightly UNDERSIZED for my IPA keg. But they work great for the kegs the guy sold me with the kegerator. Ain't that a bitch! So now I'm without my IPA again until I get the right disconnects. The guy who sold me the kegerator is cool, so I'll call him tomorrow after work to ask his advice on the whole ordeal, and that durn top.

I go ahead and keg the American Pale Ale that has been sitting in my fermentar for 9 days. The Final Gravity is at 1010 (OG 1050), so I'm good there. I decide to juice this one with force carbonation, pumping CO2 into the liquid rather than waiting 2 weeks with priming sugar. It seems to be working out well and I tried a couple sips. The shit is just plain harsh with hops. Dammit something must have gone wrong! I go ahead and force carbo it up to 12 psi and put it in the bigger freezer that was to be my original kegerator with a temperature control of 38 degrees.

I got IPA all on my garage floor that I had to mop up, beer on my shirt, and I'm tired of dealing with it all right now. Getting the kegerator today was a 4 hour trip with a stop at my cousins house to drop off the tickets and driving my convertible in the rain with the top down. So currently I'm going to watch some MFers work on the olympics while trying out Arrogant Bastard Ale from the Stone boys. The 12 year old Chinese girl just did a nice floor exercise but Bob Costas told me I was supposed to be watching smoking hot Jamaican track running women. I was about to turn on a DVR of ShoXC mixed martial arts but a slap-yo-momma fine sista from Brazil is doing floor exercise. Excuse me.


(For those that are not aware, a "slap-yo-momma fine" woman is a female that is so fine, you would slap your own mother if it meant a night with her. Not saying I would slap my mother, but I would give it some thought). The poor woman stepped out of bounds a couple times, and even I could see some of the other errors. Her score may be around 13. She seems in good spirits as she walks off the stage, but I want to let her know that she can call me if she needs any consoling. Don's here for you baby.

Arrogant Bastard Ale
This one had all kinds of hype coming from the beer world, so I picked up a bottle of this one while we were shopping for ingredients for some beer queso. It's come in a 22 ounce bottle and today I've only used 21 points out of my 37 for weight watchers. I estimate this bottle is a good 10 points (equivalent to a nice size deli sandwich with some rice). I was under the impression that this beer was a double IPA. I'll check that later, but I pour it and it gets a very strong tan head that actually goes over my dimpled pint glass as I poured too quick, that never happens baby I swear. It's dark red in the light and dark brown in the normal gloom of Houston nights. Light hop bite on the nose. Head is serious and the head retention is even more serious, so I had to wait about 10 minutes for this creamy head to relax. I finally taste it and I notice a nice maltiness and a little grittiness on my tongue. Medium hops and low carbonation, and I'm having just a touch of trouble getting it down the pipe. I'll say this is actually kind of Barley Wineish. I like the Stone IPA better (glad I got another bottle of that as well). As it warms up a bit it is more balanced and citrusy, like grapefruit. The finish is very quick and the aftertaste is a pleasant bitterness. The drinkability is a lot better when some of that carbonation got out of the way. A 3 Star beer for sure. A nice end to the day.

The cutie from Jamrock won the 100 meters. Good for her. I'm going to knock back the rest of the AB and call it a night.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Beering in Houston: BJ's part 1

Well I finally decided to do some brewpubbing in my own durn city. We have a few beer bars with The Sauce having the best selection, but as gas prices are still kinda high, I can't pick up and drive 20 miles in town just for some brown ale. There is a national chain brewpub that is on the Northwest suburban side of town, not too far from the house.

I had not been pushing to get to this brewpub with the thought that it's a national chain which should mean it sucks right? I mean, the most publicized beers are not all that good, so a successful chain brewpub would mean that it's beer are tempered down to have some sort of mass appeal? WRONG! I will be making a trip to BJ's probably every time I go up that way for a littel golf. What's this, I have a tee time tomorrow on that side of town? Another round at BJ's after the tournament? Oh yeah.

Anyway, we got there on a Sunday afternoon and the place was packed. The wife decided to chill so I went to the bar for my first beer. Seeing as how it is so god-awful hot outside, I needed something cool and light to get things started...

Harvest Hefeweizen (draft)
Orangish-yellow, low white head with a little lace. Banana and fruit smell going on. The taste kind of reminds me of banana and bread, lightly though. It's a little sweet as well. Medium carbonation that is a little choppy, if that makes sense. But it's very refreshing. The drinkability is only moderate, so it's a little tough to get down. The mouthfeel is okay, but I like my hefs to have a touch more thickness. But it works for the heat. Great start. Didn't write a star rating in my book, so I'll try it again later.

Brewhouse Blonde (a kolsch)
got to the table and decided to stay on the cooler side of things, so I copped the kolsch. Light gold color but very clear with only a little bit of head. Very bready taste with a medium-full body. Cool and very smooth. Low-medium carbonation, but has a good nonharsh fizziness. (Eating Garlic cheese breadsticks). The food is a good compliment. You'll get more of the bitterness as it warms up slightly. This one would be great for tailgating. Probably one of the better kolsches I've ever had. 3 Stars.

PM Porter
(BBQ Chicken Pizza)
I'm trying to remember to incorporate beer and food, so I take the menu's advice and order the porter with bbq chicken. The beer is opaque and dark brown with a low tan head. Maybe slight maltiness on the nose. The beer is smooth and full bodied with low carbonation, and kind of chocolaty. This is a NICE compliment with the BBQ sauce they used for the pizza. Low hops on the aftertaste. A nice 3 star beer. As it warms, I'm getting more smoke and more bitterness. Nice.

All in all a great experience. Nice family restaurant, which is good b/c the baby was making some noise. Nice ambiance and settings. They have several more beers on tap that I'll have to try next time. I don't think they brew on site, but I'll take it.

Chimay Grande Reserve

July 20, 2008
State: Thirsty, eating spaghetti

Right now I'm into my beer and weight watchers, but let me back up a minute. I have this one in my book and I've been dying to taste it for a while now.

Chimay Grande Reserve
Pours brownish red and is orange in the light. It smells of brown sugar and caramel with a strong tan head. A get a little alcohol and something that's like hay or earth. My sense of smell is getting better. A few months ago it would have been "malty". I first notice that the beer is medium bodied and it is sugar sweet. It has high carbonation but with smooth drinkability. It's kind of spicy in the 2nd draught. Very low in hops and syrupy as it warms up. Nice stuff. This one was before I put stars on it, but it's definitely a 3 star maybe 4 if I try it again.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Saint Arnolds, Repping Hard

First off, I'm very proud of the future expansion plans for Saint Arnolds Brewery in Houston, TX. I think they have done a great job with the craft beering in Houston, and I'm seeing more of Amber on tap more and more in town as opposed to Shiner Bock. In honor of their new fame, I decided to knock back two SA's I've never had before. I picked up two 6-packs and went at it when I got home.
Texas Wheat
State: Hot, kinda chillin. Working from home…

Smells a little skunked. Damn Specs. Clear, gold color, fleeting head. Mouthfeel is kinda medium, but not quite there for me. Some esteryness in there but not much. A little bready AT, low hops. Maybe some light citrus and sourness. Kinda high in carbo, and low-mod drinkability. Not my favorite from St. Arn. I’m gonna 2 star it. For the record. I tried another bottle later on and it was a lot better. Still closer a high 2 for me.

Elissa IPA
State: Feeling good

Orangish color with orangish-white serious head. Hop-bite citrus smell, but light. Head is thick with vigorous pour, so I gotta kinda wait it out. Light malt smell as well as it warms a touch. Strong hops, light AT however. Oh yeah, nice stuff. Maybe closer to an regular IPA as opposed to the American version. A little residuey on the tongue-feel after the fact. Not my favorite IPA, but I like the rush of hops. It’s tilted toward hops instead of malt. Very drinkable, low carbo. Nice stuff. I put the Jockamo ahead of this one, but definetly one of the top beers coming out of the St. Arny camp, save Divine Reserve. 3 stars.
What's wild about Elissa was that we ate at a restaurant at the Elissa ship in Galveston, yet they don't serve Elissa IPA out there. Odd.
All in all St Arn is just destroying the Texas competition with the American Barley Wine, but that was a homebrew recipe.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Almost Caught Up, Go Blonde

I like my beer like I like my women: blond that goes down quick.

July 16, 2008

State; Cooling down, taste of clams in my mouth
Actually I'm an Imperial IPA man, but I love that line. Yes, I made that one up myself.

I'm back at the Sauce, and I am at a loss as to which style to sample. I'm still pretty far from the 200 beers needed to get a plate on the wall, so I'm still drinking the beers on the Fire Sale. This means I'm going for the New Belgium seasonal, Springboard. The lady tells me that this is a blonde ale, so blonde ales it is for the night.

I had some crappy clams and pasta at an Italian place down the street, but whatever. We called a happy hour for a few of the guys, calling it the "Oil and Gas Boys" happy hour. Since our happy hour, the price of oil has gone down by about $23, so check us out man.

New Belgium Springboard
Big fan of the New Belgians. I drank a considerable amount of Fat Tire during football season last year. This one is a little cloudy and orange-yellow straw color. Smells a little estery like a wheat beer. High carbonation (like a wheat beer), but with a sudden pleasant sweetness with a dry finish. A little hard to get down though. The sweetness is fruity, yet slightly malty and bready. Another taste and I say the fruit is like apple. It's seems more a wheat beer than a blond ale. With the bread, I say it's like one of those Apple Muffins you can get out of the vending machine. The head is white with some decent lace. A little bitter on the AT. The more I drink it, the more I can taste the Blonde Ale-ness coming out, as well as a touch of spice. Very nice beer, 3 stars.

Real Ale Fireman #4
Been looking forward to trying this one. She poured it in a tall wheat glass. Strong white head, straw clear color. Head is lacy too. Not much of a smell. Bready taste with med-low carbonation. Low hops with a very quick finish, no real aftertaste. A little buttery the more I get into it with some of that emptiness. I love the quick finish however. I'm noticing some spice as I get more used to it, but not as bready. 3 stars.

Coopers Sparkling Ale
I actually used a Coopers kit for my first homebrew, which I need to formally review some time. The can said "Lager" though the instructions had it ferment at around 70 degrees. This one was slightly cloudy with a straw color. White low head. Good basic yet sudden maltiness, then a vegetal flavor like the homebrew "lager" I brewed. The second draught is a little empty, then vegetal. A little wet and rough on the aftertaste. I wrote down "worst of the night". 2 stars.

For clarification, when I say "empty" I'm talking almost watery or just plain liquid. In other words, I not getting any flavor one way or the other, kinda of like the light beers.

These beers are pretty good, and I do enjoy a good blonde ale in the right condition. I'll say the Springboard was the best, followed by Fireman and then Coopers rounding out the rear. Good experience overall and the happy hour was pretty fun as well.

What about the North Coast

Finally a good pilsner I can down like it's going out of style. I can see myself drinking a lot of this if I lived in the Pacific Northwest.

Northcoast Scrimshaw Pils

You just got to love the way "Scrimshaw" rolls of your tongue. Especially if I put on my southern fasttalk twang on it. Anyway it has a light floral smell, and it pours clear and crisp. Medium body with a good balance of malt and hops. Light bread on the aftertaste. Nice stuff baby. This is a good one I can truly enjoy bone-chilling cold, which is rare for me. Which will get it my 4 star rating. hellz yeah. Head has a nice lace on it as well. Love it.

Beer of the Month again.

June 21, 2008
Got some more beer of the month stuff at the house. You gotta love getting the beers from a microbrewery out there, without the gas money.

Portsmouth Lager
Slight vegetal smell in the beer mug. Straw colored with a strong head. Light malt taste with a low-medium body. A little blondish, but better than a Budweiser. The balanced hops go well with this one. Not the best though: 2 stars.

Singletrack Copper Ale of Boulder Brewing
Copper color (go figure), with a tan-white strong head. Decent hop bite in the smell, some caramel malt in there as well. The first thing I notice is medium carbonation with medium hops and some malt. It has a SUDDEN strong bitterness later on the draught. I wrote down that the aftertaste is kind of tangy and crappy. This could be a bad bottle I got with that aftertaste. No rating until I have it again.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Back Home: Sorta... Purity!!!

Well, I made it off the platform and have decided to stop in Lafayette while letting the Tropical Storm make its way north of I-10. No sense in driving in this mess if I don't have to. A little Googling reveals a chain of restaurants called Zea Rotisserie and Grill. Turns out they get their beer brewed out of the Heiner Brau brewery. It's not exactly a brewpub, but it's close e-damn-nough. I have some time before I'm going to see my cousin who works out of Lafayette, so I make my way to Zea.
The decor is nice, and it feels great getting out of the heat. The menu has four microbrewed beers available with suggestions for food pairings. I would like to take their advice, but screw that, I make up my own pairing lunch.
Zea Amber Lager
State: starving, haven't had a beer in over 2 weeks, ordered Hummus with Pita bread.
I figured hummus would go well with the amber lager, and I loved it. It could have been that I hadn't had a drink in over 2 weeks, but the beer was great. It served as an excellent foil with hummus, in that both the food and the beer tasted like the first bite/sip throughout the whole experience. They brought it out in a bottle with a frosted pilsner glass. It has a nice bready malt scent with a little caramel in there, almost syrupy when the head vanishes. Brown/red in color and clear. Light malt taste, medium body, and medium bready taste on the aftertaste. Low carbonation (excellent) yet I'll say moderately drinkable. The hummus is excellent. I was thinking this stuff tastes like purity law beer , and sure enough it is. Very well done. High 3 stars. It's the next day and I still want this one again.
When I say purity law, I am referring to the German law that beer can only have barely, yeast, water, and hops. Beer brewed in this style is typically very clean, very crisp, and very good pure beer. As much as I like the creativity of guys like Dogfish, Sam Adams, etc, there is something to be said for a brewery that puts all its energy in the four basic ingredients. It's great craft beer without the cloves, cinnamon sticks, raissonettes, rice, cane, ubu, watermelon, blood, chicken feathers, wine, candy sugar etc.
Category 5 American Pale Ale
The aptly named Pale Ale was something I was looking forward to since walking in. I order this with one of the signature Rotisserie chicken dishes (that says spicy on the menu). Another bottle with a frosted pilsner glass. Low head with my vigorous pour. Similar color as the last beer. There is a light maltiness on the nose (hmm no hops). I can taste the Cascade bite hops late, but it's kinda unbalanced. A little icky on the aftertaste as well. I don't know if they should have used Cascade by itself. The Rotis Chicken has arrived. The beer tastes a little better and balanced as it warms up a bit (figures). Near the end it got much better, but the chicken wasn't all the spicy, though very very good. Probably Munich specialty malt, which is what I think the other one had in it. It's basically like the amber lager, but with Cascade. At 45 degrees, it's a 3 star. At bone chilling cold, they can keep it.
The waitress convinced me to get the bread pudding for desert, and I ordered their...
Pontchartrain Porter
Another frosted glass. Not much of a smell, but I did notice that inside of the glass was COATED with bubbles. Means they did not rinse this glass thoroughly, and the soap residue probably killed the head on this one. It's dark brown and tastes like a dark Munich malt with low hops. Not much of a compliment to the bread pudding, which was very sweet. In fact, it was a bad idea to order any desert with this one. I won't give this one a rating just yet, as I had it with the bread pudding, and it just overwhelmed whatever flavor was in the Porter. Lord knows I'll be in Louisiana enough to try it again.
Overall, the place was fantastic. Food was great, beer was pretty good. I'm hope to try it again with some other food, and maybe they'll have some seasonals. Seems like Munich malt is their house specialty malt. Cool beans. I was a little miffed that they kept bringing out frosted glasses, but I can understand the marketing, as it is hot as balls out there, and cold beer is just what the doctor ordered.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

14 days without Beer: Day 12

Well, I am one day from getting back to the beach now from my offshore platform. The manager had me slated for going in early b/c of some extra workers coming out to the platform, but they were delayed two days. Thankfully, I'm less than 18 hours away from being on the helicopter, and hopefully no one will try to make me stay the last two days. I'm whispering on the radio like the guy on the Hotel Rwanda movie (stay alert, stay aware).

It looks like Mother Nature decided to throw us a curve ball and put a potential Tropical Storm DIRECTLY OVER US without any warning. Normally the Depressions and whatnot come out of the Atlantic and shoot the gap between Cuba and Florida or Cuba and the Yucatan. We have several days to get ready for it all, including evacu-damn-ate. This time, a regular thunderstorm floating about decided to START EFFING SPINNING! Fantastic. I don't like even being south of I-10 when the Gulf of Mexico is churning. Now I'm 50 miles southeast of Louisiana. Gotta get that Black Gold. I say that any state in the Union that does not let us drill should pay DOUBLE for Gasoline while we in Louisiana and Texas pay half what we pay now. We're taking ALL the risk here.

Anyway, I should be going back home tomorrow, one day early. It can be difficult to stay focused on my engineering as my brain is three beers into a pub. In other words, I've already planned out where I want to go when I get back home, and the beers I'm probably going to order, and in which order. This time I'm thinking of going back to Downing Street Pub in Houston to throw in some cigars with my beering.

Things have picked up b/c I have an appointment to pick up a ready-made kegerator (7 cubic feet) on Tuesday. I will use this one to drink the IPA I brewed (that has been sitting in the keg forever). Once my bigger kegerator is constructed, I will use this smaller one to ferment, maybe lager, and to bring out to the football tailgates. Negros won't know WHAT to do when we have a live ass kegerator at the Univ of Houston and Houston Texans tailgates, as opposed to a keg sitting in an ice bucket with an air pump, or just drinking beer out of bottles like heathens. Speaking of which, if anyone has any recommendations for tailgating beers, please send them along. One more day. Holla.