Sunday, November 30, 2008

All over the Map on White Friday

I'm sorry but the militant in me will not let me call it "Black" Friday. We have not been to a mall ALL YEAR, but the wife wants to go on White Friday. So here we are taking all of 20 minutes to find a parking space at 11AM. We figure we would let the freaks get it out of their system at 4 AM so we won't have to worry about them. We park and make our way to the mall first in search of some food.

And who better than California Pizza Kitchen. They have been around for a quite some time and apparently have a special craft beer or two on draft. And they let you keep the glass if you order it. Wouldn't you know it the beer this time is Sam Adams Winter Lager.

Beer Log: White Friday, 11/28/2008
State: Hungry, ordering a BBQ Chicken Pizza

I know I know. Although the militant and educated side of my blackness dominates my vernacular when referring to dreaded events, my stereotypical side forces me to order BBQ chicken pizza every pizza place I go. Call it the duality of man. I just hope it's not somewhere in the Encyclopedia, as Dave explains...

Back to the beer

Sam Adams Winter Lager on Draft
They poured it in the Sam Adams Winterfest glass, so it's presented about as well as it going to get. Basic amber color with some malt and Cinnamon on the nose. Of course they served it bone chilling cold. Bready tastes hits you first followed by a low hops and the carbonation. It's a nice biscuit malt kinda flavor going on to round it out near the back of the palette. I can see the orange peel they claim it has as it warms up. (We're going to have to find a different ingredient than damn orange peel. I'm sorry.) More citrusy and spicy as it warms a little closer to what I would normally like to enjoy i at. It's incredibly smooth and rather drinkable. Certainly 3Stars. I actually went head and ordered another one, at least to get another glass. It went pretty well with the... um... bbq chicken pizza.

Great Divide Hibernation Ale
Later on that day, we got some new beer from the Specs, including this one. Smells all caramelly and roasty, some alcohol and maybe some plum/raisin. It tastes like hard caramel if that makes sense, and something akin to a sweet wine, though not as sweet as a port wine. It's a little smokey as well. The taste is almost mediciney like a strong double IPA, just sans hops. The aftertaste is a quick in-and-out hops. True to Barley Wine form, it has a low carbonation and a very warming character with moderate drinkability. The words chocolate and toffee float around my head, but barely make the notebook. I didn't write down a rating for some reason, but I have a six pack anyway.

And much later on...
I am working on a little engineering project for the company before wrapping up my end of year objectives, so why not something light to wrap it up the evening...

Czech Rebel
Someone brought this over for last house party, Dontoberfest. Straw and clear with a a rather strong white head in my tall pilsner glass. Low carbonation and kinda smooth. Not a hop aftertaste that develops 5 seconds after swallowing. Some light light maltiness, maybe some pils and munich malt. 2-3 Stars. I get the feeling this would be closer to 4 star if it did not have to make the trip across the pond and sit in a liquor store forever. I think that hop AT just messed it up, it was kind of cardboarding up and I got a slight skunkiness as well.

I Must be Delirious

So we're at my wife's best friends house for Thanksgiving. In addition to blowing weightwatcher points, I brought over a couple beers to consume with the turkey and mac-and-cheese. First off, that woman can cook. Second, the Shiner Holiday Cheer with it's peachyness and nuttiness goes great with Thanksgiving food. Maybe I was in a joyous mood, but I tried the Heiner Brau Oktoberfest again and it was pretty good at room temperature. But I had to sample one new beer and we had this one in our sites for a while.
Delirium Tremens was one of the first beers I tried at the Saucer when I was trying to make my way up to 200 beers to get a plate on the wall. I just thought they had a cool name. That had to be almost 2 years ago, and I had not tried a Delirium beer since. Specs has your hookup in Houston, and so we cop this "Noel" version of Delirium. I'm pretty fired up b/c if nothing else, it's in a cool bottle, and it has a champagne cork thing going on. So here we go.
Delirium Noel
Smells bananay and spice, with a touch of hops. I like the thick creamy head but I cannot get too good of a bead on the color as it's in plastic cup. WOW. Tastes of something like ginger bread. Lots of spice and some caramel and plum in the second or third slurp. I'm tasting the alcohol in there as well. Not a big fan of that. I'm getting some banana deep in there as well as some fruityness. As it warms, it gets more sugary and I'm detecting a slight sourness in the back of the palette. But as it keeps warming, the boldness of the alcohol and sweetness just plain turn me off. It took me a while to think of what that alcohol tastes is comparable to, and then it hit me...
Straight GIN and JUICE, heavy on the GIN. And Gin to me tastes like Gasolina. Add to that that this beer has a LOT of yeast sediment swirling in my glass. I thought it was the oats from my oatmeal cookie that I had earlier, but no, it was a GANG of yeast. I should put it in a vial and brewed with it later. But the flavor of gin and yeast sediment have a likelihood of turning someone OFF from beer. But I give it a low 3 Star rating for now.

Methinks this beer needs some serious aging. We will buy a couple more bottles and cellar it with a few of our other barley wines and Christmas beers that do not seem "together" yet and give them another go next year or the year after that. Oh it's real.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

It's a Breckenridge Christmas

Beer Log: Yesterday
State: Lollygagging around the house

Breckenridge Christmas

No clue the type of beer this is. Let us test knowledge after say 11 months of beer reviewing. Brown copper color that turns ruby in the light. not much of a head, but I'm getting some slight cinnamon and butter on the nose. the low head is maybe tan colored. Tastes pretty basic, yet good. I get some light malt, medium body, and a subtle hop presence as an AT. The more I drink it, the more I can get some spiciness and with a smidgen of smoke malt. The carbo is kind high, though not as high as your hefes and whatnot. I like that slight hint of alcohol as well. It's kind of like a basic Christmas brown ale, just with everything a little more subtle and a little more balanced. It's body lends itself to massive imbibing if you're not too careful. 3-4 stars.

Maybe it's because GA Tech (grad school) just whooped up on the Georgia Dawgs (wife's grad school), but I am digging this beer right now. I could also see how one could find it kinda boring as well.

Beer Advocate has it down as a Winter Warmer, but as they put "Christmas" on the label means I will rank it with the Christmas beers.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Live Blogging: Swine My Brotha?

Sitting here watching the Houston Dynamo in the CONCACAF. We just got the goal and the wife cracked open the Avery Hog Heaven Barley wine which we've had in the fridge for a while.

Avery Hog Heaven

Pouring this in my Hennessey Cognac glass. Low orangeish white head that barely survived the trip to the laptop. Smells rather citrusy with a hint of caramel maltiness fighting to make its way to your nose. A sip of it and it tastes very sweet with high carbo. The malt comes in about 2/3 of the way back to the palette. It's similar to their IPA on Cask I had at the Sauce the other day. So let's just call it an American Barley wine. The hops seem to take more precedence than the sweetness, just barely. Well we just took it out of the fridge, so let me give the baby a bath, and try a bit more.

And we're back. Still tastes about the same. I want to say this one is 4 stars, but it's missing something. I think we could go for a stronger hop presence to balance out the malt if that's what you're going for. I also think this could do with some aging. The different flavors just seemed... separated, to me. I had another glass and I'm barely holding on through the Dynamo game as this is 9% abv. Dynamo got the win and are moving on in the Champions League in the CONCACAF. We also have a Carolina-Notre Dame game tonight in basketball. I've been a Tarheels b-ball fan since I was 9 years old. Nice beer for Avery once again. High 3 star, probably 4-5 if we bought some and let it age.

Pale Ale-ing in Houston

Back at the Sauce to meet up with an old college buddy. He is not a beer drinker but the waitress eventually got him to drink a Pear Cider (sad). In the meantime, I am a beer drinker and decided to finally get something off cask for the first time.

Beer Log: 11/21/2008
State: Chillin, not very hungry

Avery IPA on Cask
If I was ever diligent enough to add it up, Avery probably has what I figure are the most 4-5 star beers in their portfolio. I don't brag on them too much b/c I'm a homer and would love for a Texas brewer to pick up that mantle. Although we just aren't a "Big Beer" state.
Straw color with a very thick and strong lacy head. It smells like a lovely bouquet of flowers and rather sweet. The taste is an excellent strong caramel malt with a strong hop presence right after it. There is a hint of both alcohol and some cascade (or other hop) bite in the aftertaste. 1-2-3-4 stars man. It's incredibly smooth and very drinkable. Methinks this is a double IPA, a style which I love.

I must have been feeling the alcohol b/c instead of going to more IPAs, I went down to Pale Ales.

Oskar Blues Dale Pale Ale
You got to love that Gordons that they make. Solid 4 stars. The Dales was also in a can poured into a glass. Orange and cloudy with a white lacy head. It tastes bready and hoppy, kinda like an amber. Actually, kinda like an the Budweiser American Ale. It leaves a gritty feeling in my mouth. The hop smell is coming in more as it warms and it seems a little musty. It is smooth with medium carbonation. No ranking this time. The IPA just ran roughshod over this one. I'll switch it up next time.

The handwriting in my beer notebook is getting really crappy now as I read it a week later. But we weren't going anywhere for a while, so what the hell.

Bear Republic XP
I'm feeling tipsy now. All I managed to write was flowery smell coming off a low head. It's also orange and cloudy. And like the last one, musty and bready. It's pretty hoppy but with no bite. I wrote 3 stars but I'm not counting that one either.

After we drank up we just strolled through downtown telling war stories about FAMU and our current experiences in trying to become Oil Men. A couple cigars and a lot of water and we're sobered up enough to not get tasered by Houston PD. Great experience overall.

MIA Happy Hour at Fox and Hounds

A ye olde Fox and Hounds in Houston Texas. We set up our investment club happy hour there on November 14. The place is a pretty popular bar with pretty good bar food as well. You have a decent (say 20) selection of craft beer on bottle and tap, but not the overwhelming amount like a true beer bar. The waiter knew his beer (very important) as he nailed the styles of beer that I had, in that he compared them to other more popular beers when I asked. Bring some extra bills if you want to hit the pool table, but it is a great place to to hang out and watch the game on lord knows how many monster screen TVs.

Beer Log: November 14, 2008

State: Full, watching football

Red Fox Amber

Don't even know who makes this (Googling reveals its an Anheuser-Busch beer).

It's kinda clear with a red-strawish color. Just a little caramel malty on the nose. But whoa there is a rush of hops when you first taste it. Looking beyond the hops, it's pretty grassy and a little metallic. There is a long bitter bite in the aftertaste from say Centennial hops? Some of the cinnamon sweetness is there in the middle of the palette as it warms and you get used to the hops and high carbonation. Like the waiter said, it's a hoppy version of Killians Irish Red. I give it a 3 star though I'm not a big fan of Irish red beers.

I would like to see A-B push this one more to the forefront, but they are probably just trying to scavenge the "Amber beer drinkers of Houston" market share from St. Arnolds Amber. The A-B brewery in Houston also does the same shit with Zeigenbock that they brewed to steal market share from Shiner Bock. That Zeigenbock is very dissappointing. Why you gotta try to jump in the market of the local guys? You are satisfied with your fizzy 2 star beers that everyone drinks anyway. Then again I can't blame them as I'm a capitalist myself. You don't get to where you are by being satisfied, or letting the small guys take bites out of your market share. Oh well. Good thing the suits at A-B never let their brewers brew a big beer with lots of flavor, even their craft beer. I may have to do a series on Big Brewers' craft beer.

Belhaven St. Andrews

Sticking with the Irish style. Smells like chocolate and butter. Brownish color with a creamy head. The taste is a little sweet and a little bitter, like chocolate. There is some bitterness at the AT. Not bad medium bodied English style beer. Low 3 Star.

Feeling 2 Degrees Below

Clearing out the old notebook with some winter warmers.

Beer Log: 11/11/08
State: Eating Rosemary Herb Potatoes, asparagus, and ribeye, the wife was cookin that night

New Belgium 2 Degrees Below
Another one from the New Belgians. Smells like flowers and biting citrus. I did not expect that. Light copper color with a strong tan head. The taste is a nice hops but sanz bite. It has some of that sugar sweetness as well. It's a very clear tasting beer, if that makes any sense. It goes down so smooth its ridiculous. A light body beer that is excellent.

What's the deal man? I see "winter seasonal" and I'm thinking this will be a beer more akin to brown ales and barleywines, with some cinnamon sticks and yuletide thrown in the there. But here you have something that kind of reminds me of Fat Tire. Don't forget the Sierra Nevada winter beer which is a lot like a pale ale. Interesting how the interpretations of the seasonal can manifest themselves from brewer to brewer.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I'm getting one more beer Christmas Beer and I don't care who knows it

Texans got the win. Carolina is blowing it. I'm behind in Fantasy points in a must-win. So I'm getting some more Christmas Beer. This one comes from a Winter beer variety pack from Sam Adams. Is there ANYTHING better than a 12 beer variety pack of craft beer for ONE SEASON. This one:

Sam Adams Old Fezziwig

I'm feeling all Christmas Caroled up and it's not even Thanksgiving yet. This one smell a lot like the Full Sail Wassail. Except the honey smell is much stronger here. We sniffed a little ginger b/c the bottle said it had Ginger, Orange Peel, and Cinnamon. I pour it vigorously in the glass and it has a seriously strong head, with a great lace as it calms down. The taste is very smooth, and the cinnamon and ginger is there if you know you're looking for it. This one tastes a lot like Wassail, just with much less hops. It goes down extremely smooth and crisp. There may be some orange peel in there but it's tough for me. I certainly am getting some sourness in the middle of the palette as it warms. This beer does very well for drinkability and just seems to improve upon the design of Wassail. Unlike the St Arnold Christmas, this one is lower body and does not have strong caramel maltiness. As it warms, I'm getting more of the citrus orange peel, a nice interpretation of the Christmas beer. Oh yeah, the color is reddish brown. I could have used more alcohol in there, but I'm nitpicking. 3 stars.
It is style like this one and St. Arnold's Christmas that make me really look forward to winter beer. First off, beer is just as good in cold environments as hot environments. But the kicker is that unlike Oktoberfest, there is not a hard and fast style to adhere to. I've had beer which is basically a maltier pale ale to something that is damn near a barley, all winter warmers/christmas beers.

Screw You guys, I'm getting another Beer

The Texans are up by 10 with 3 minutes to go in the game, which means Sage is gonna be throwing those interceptions hard and heavy. I'm up for another Christmas beer and this time it's St. Arnold's. The wife says I've had this one and didn't care too much for it. Well, I don't remember that, so let's try it again.

St. Arnold's Christmas
Pours Brown and clear with a nice poofy/bubbly head. It smells kind of like honey and sweet like with cinnamon and malt, eerily like the Full Sail Wassail. Very nice full body with a strong malt backbone. Very little hops to speak off, but plenty of apple pie like ingredients, like brown sugar and cinnamon. This may be a touch on the metallic side, but that's okay. This thick brew is what I would think of for a winter/Christmas beer. Very filling, high alcohol, spicy and very malty. I'm giving it a 3 star but it could rank very high on my Christmas beers. Then again, we just picked up a variety pack of Sam Adams Winter beers. Uh oh.

Texans just GOT an interception against the Browns, and now we're running the ball down to the 4 yard line. The Browns fans are leaving the stadium. Houston is the most sad sack road team in the NFL, and things are looking good. I just wish I started Tyler Thigpen on my fantasy team, KC who put up 24 points on Buffalo and still counting. I need this win to make the playoffs. But I also have Philip Rivers starting this afternoon, so hopefully it works out. He's got to show up and show out as the opposition has Trent Edward of Buffalo, who has 3 TDs on the day as the Bills put up 47 points on the Chefs. Texans down the ball, and HOUSTON WIN HOUSTON WIN HOUSTON WIN! Rock and Roll.

I'm looking forward to restarting my tailgating beers series for the Monday Night game we have in a couple weeks. It's my MNF. I did not make it to the games I thought I would this year. I gave up my tickets a couple times as I was offshore, and I gave up tickets at least once if not twice b/c the Texans are so godawful I just couldn't watch it. And the games we did go to, nobody was tailgating. But we will be out in force for Monday night. The beers will have to change from summer beers to good beers for the winter. I'm thinking of something darker like Guiness. I may even throw in sweeter lagers like Negra Modelo. Go Texans. Dammit Trent Edwards just got ANOTHER Touchdown. Philip Rivers better show is naked ass in the game this afternoon against Indy.

Screw that I'm getting a beer

I'm sitting here watching a Don Bowl game (Houston Texans at Cleveland Browns). I'm still fired up about the FAMU over BCU yesterday. Good stuff whipping those Wildcats. We have an OUTSIDE chance of getting into the playoffs, but with all the recent exposure (see below) our school as had, they could give us a 16 seed. I just had a slice of apple pie, but have about 15 WW points left for today. I'm getting a christmas beer.

Date: RIGHT NOW (11/23/2009)
State: Just had a bland slice of dutch apple pie, chillin before I do some work

Full Sail Wassail
Deep opaque brown color. Light brown head. Smells of cinnamon, citrus, and maybe light scotch, probably some plum in there as well but I don't really eat plums all that much. The nose is almost cidery. The head is strong at first but goes a little quick for me in this wine goblet. I'm drinking it ice cold, but I imagine this is meant to be enjoyed warmer. Not much going on the front of the palette. A nice malt makes its appearance in the middle of my tongue with a hop bitterness in a somewhat lingering aftertaste. I imagine this is a brown ale, yet I can taste some notes of maybe bourbon, cinnamon, and perhaps some raisin. The carbonation is about medium (a champagne would be high for me). The more I drink it, the less I'm getting the hops.

The source of all human knowledge says that wassail is actually a style of drink itself. Good stuff, nothing like falling upon new styles. But with this name, I will count it as a Christmas beer in my rankings of Christmas beer at the end of the season.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


State: not eating anything, just chillin watching Shep Smiff
Beer log: about a week ago

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
Dimpled glass. Smells malty and has the thin musty piney hop smell of maybe Sterling, like the 2 Deg Below. Strong poofy head, darker amber color. Oh yeah. It tastes like their Pale Ale with that strong malt up front, but with a Sterling hoppish thing in the middle, but a Cascade hop aftertaste. I imagine they put the Cascade early in the boil b/c you can't smell it, but put this other hop just before fermenting or even dry hopping. The maltiness is not as existent the more I drink it, and I'm left with this Cascade aftertaste that ain't goin nowhere, as in it's 5 minutes later and I'm still tasting hops

Looked on their website, and turns out this one was Chinook. I got the finishing hop right, but the also added Centennial.

Magic Hat and Christmas Special

Got myself a variety pack of Magic Hat in Charlotte when I was there last, and picked up the Shiner Winter beer recently. We were thinking that this may be Shiner's heralded 100 year anniversary beer, but not so. It's just a seasonal. Shiner was selling this beer only in 12 packs, but just recently went down to 6 beers. But this is one of the first of my Winter Seasonal Beers.

Magic Hat Circus Boy The Hefeweizen
Cloudy and orangish straw. White strong head. Nose has a little Orange Peel and ester. Nice breadiness is the first I get, withlittle to no AT. Low on the orange peel stuff. Low carbonation,nice. There is some noticeable bitterness in the middle of thepalette. Warms to a little more orange and bitterness. I've had similar hefes, but I'm more partial to witbier. Good mouthfeel and very drinkable. Midlevel 3 Star for me.

Wikipedia has cascade hops in this one. Who uses Cascade in a hefe?

Shiner Holiday Cheer
Pours dark copper color. Smell in bottle and on head is of apricot/peaches as the dominant note. Cocaine snorting sniff gets me a little malt, probably too cold right now. Light tan colored head. My first draught: first get a touch of malt, then peaches/apricot, then maybe some other fruitiness,then of all things roasted malt in the aftertaste. Mouthfeel is not quite there for a wheat beer I like. The hops on the aftertaste are coming in a little stronger now. Kind of icky hops, like a German hop. The bottle says it has pecan and I can see a little nutiness now on the finish. Very nice sweet beer, and I love apricot in a wheat beer. Just seems to work very well. Once I nail my Belgian witbier homebrew, I'm going for the apricot in extract. Good low carbonation, especially as it warms. I'll stick it with 3 Star right now, but a 3 Star for me, thanks to the ickiness. As the title is "Holiday Cheer" and it has Christmas Colors, I'm going to count this in the Christmas beer category.

Magic Hat Participation Lager
Strong white poofy head on top of a straw colored beer. It's got that lager smell with a little sweetness, maybe Munich malt. Could be smelling fruit. Tastes of a basic harsh hops and a little gritty. There is some Munich in there as well, but the high carbo and medium drinkability overpower this lager. Almost reminds me of my homebrewed lager,which is not all that great. The finish is nice and quick.The malt bill makes it better than an MGD, so I'll give it a high 2 Star. Perhaps in a better time of year with some food it would be better. But at least we are participating in democracy. OBAMA BUMAYE.

It's 4 O'clock, do you know where your engineer is?

Well, I'm supposed to be offshore right now, working on a killer idea to increase our platform's oil production by 30%, thus solidifying me as a top engineer in my peer class and putting me well on my way to an authority engineer in our company. I do that, and I don't have to do real engineering work anymore, just travel the oil-producing world evaluating others' engineering work. Which means I can try new beers all over the world, ON EXPENSE. But instead, I'm back at my house, having driven over 700 miles in the last two days.
I get to our heliport to go offshore for my normal rotation and another "14 days without beer", but they hit me with the drug test. It's only my second time being tested, and like the first time, the well is dry. Just like last time, I had nothing to give to the little cup as I used the restroom earlier that morning. But unlike last time, our flight was the first one out, so I missed my flight while trying to pee in a durn cup. The guys wouldn't let me out of the drug testing trailer, so after three attempts, I manage to DRAIN about 1/3 of a water cooler in the trailer. About an hour after I first got there, with the guy running the water in the sink, I finally can fill up the line in the cup without soiling myself. It would have been easier donating sperm at that point.
Our platform manager (who luckily I do not directly report to) calls me up on my cell phone and I am ready for a classic ass chewing. Fortunately, they say this happens every day with some poor sap not being able to put out a few milliliters before flight time. First off, I vowed to chug a huge thing of Gatorade 2 hours before each flight, and just go to the bathroom for the next 10 hours. Secondly, it all worked out for the best as the platform was overbooked with people starting on Monday. So he was going to send me home early anyway. So I drove back to Texas, stopped in Beaumont for a Banana and some Gatorade, and hit my favorite Chinese joint for 2 full cups of chicken/shrimp fried rice in Houston. How is it that this happened to me twice?
I have some Christmas/Winter beers that I'm going to start a new series with, from now until Bock Season. I'll probably split it all up into three categories, Christmas Beer, Winter Seasonal/Winter Warmer, Barley Wines. I tried a few of them before I was to go offshore, so I'll start that up on another post. Future travel plans include going to Louisiana and stopping in Lafayette for their local seasonals, Atlanta for a week in December and trying their brewpubs out there, and going to Maryland/DC area for Barack Obama's Inauguration. While I'm there, I'm going to try and squeeze in some beering at the local bars in DC. Good luck.
But while I'm at HOME, why not try some HOMEBREW. I this the second beer I ever brewed. I slopped this up with a Coopers IPA extract, some extra Centennial Hops. Did this one a few months ago. It took FOREVER for it to settle to something somewhat drinkable. It goes well for cooking as well. I named this one after the Houston Texan's loss to the Indy Colts where we were up by 17 with less than 4 minutes to go, but had three turnovers and lost the game.
Bitter Defeat IPA
Pours with a decent 1 finger head out of the kegerator tap. Smells rather flowery and malty. The taste is smooth, very low carbonation (just the way I like it). The hops are very strong in this one but not biting at all. The aftertaste is malty at first and then gets pretty bitter and stays that way. I'll have to work on that. I love a clean finish. It's low-medium bodied with excellent drinkability. I'd say it's a good IPA save that aftertaste. Not all IPAs need that hop-bomb bite to make them work. I will adjust this recipe later on, but for now will focus on perfecting the American Pale Ale style and the Belgian Witbier. Probably the worst IPA I've had with that aftertaste, but the style is a kickass style, so 3 Stars.
I just need some spicy food to try it on. Shelf life is probably starting to get low sooner or later, so I'll probably take it to my friends house in town, hook it up to their kegerator, and kill the keg with them. When I first started homebrewing (mainly to better understand beer), I figured I could do some serious damage on a keg. Then we got on weightwatchers before the kegs started rolling in, now the beer just sits there most of the time. By the way, I've gone from 245 down to 210. Mostly fat. None of my pants fit, and my shirts are too puffy. Brothas like things to be extra medium these days. And I lost the gut, while averaging a new beer a day since starting the program. Looks like it still works.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Smoking like Barack Obama on Election Night.

November 10, 2008
State: Devouring leftovers in the fridge, a small taco, one Cajun grilled tilapia, and a small ear of corn.

Stone Smoked Porter
Dark brown and opaque. Seriously strong tan head. Nice chocolate and malt on the nose as I wait for the head to die down. I'm doing the "Guiness" pour, where you pour harshly, let the head settle, and pour again. Not getting much in the "smoke" department on the flavor. Just smooth not overly harsh roasted malt. I get a bit of grittiness left on the tongue with a medium hop bitterness on the aftertaste. I really like the way the hops blends well with this one for a good balance. I was hoping for something "bigger" from Stone, but I guess expectations can do that to you. I've only had a couple slugs, so let me blog about some other beers I had last night while this one warms up. It's still cold from the fridge you see.

Beer Log
November 9, 2008
For the first time in my life, I gave up my tickets to an NFL football to go to an MLS Futbol Game. The Texans suck so much balls right now it's just hard to get up for it. The Dynamo were playing the New York Red Bulls for the aggregate in the playoffs. You here that, playoff futbol in Houston!!! They tied in the first meeting, so basically whoever won this game wins the playoffs. To make a long story short, the Dynamo were run off the field. NY looked like the fricken Brasilian National Team on us. To boot, the Texans got murdered by the Ravens with our QB throwing 4 GD interceptions. Our pre/post Dynamo game tradition is to go up to the Flying Saucer for some beers. It's Sunday which means all Texas pints are $2.75. I notice that I had not formally reviewed any Southern Star beers, and they had two new ones on tap.

Southern Star Logger
Finally get to try this one from the newest Brewery in the Houston area. Kinda cloudy, yet with a straw color. It smells kind of vegetaly, which is what I expect from a lager, but then I get some cardboard smell. First thing I notice is basic Germanish hops on the aftertaste. Another draught and I get the light sweet malt. I think it could be a pilsner style. I notice a grit on my tongue. Never cool. Basically, I didn't notice the malt on the first sip as it only lasts a split second. It has more flavor than a Bud, but I'm putting this at 2 star. The flavors don't mesh well at all. It's like the worst part of munich and the worst part of hops. Sorry man. My friend was dissing this one the whole time.

Southern Star Rauchbier
My first smoked beer I think I've had in a long time. Greatly looking forward to this. It comes out crystal clear with a small white head. What the hell, I expected it to be pitch black. And dammit this thing smells like a ham sandwich. That is probably the absolute LAST thing I expected to smell on a beer. The kicker: I HATE HAM, Bacon, pepperoni, salami, and sausage. (yet I love pork ribs and pork chops, go fig). I took one swig and it tasted like ham and water. I was ready to chalk this one up on the spot, but my friend insisted that we have to finish this thing. He said I had to be a man and finish the beer I had. We had one of our homegirls at the table, so I had to show up. I visibly suffered the whole time while choking this one down. The more i drank it, the more I thought they dry hopped this with Bacon bits. There is NOTHING more wrong in this world than bacon bits. I don't see why the waitress didn't just garnish it with bacon bits. I saw it had only 3 reviews on beeradvocate that averaged out to a B-. I think all three of them had it at the Flying Saucer like I did. This is a damn shame and if there ever was a 1 Star beer, this one is it.

I love the creativity that Southern Star is bringing to the Texas game, and who knows, this may be a huge hit with the swine lovers. $5 says it wins an award at the GABF. Southern Star is well on it's way to being one of our more creative Texas micros with this pork beer and the really hoppy Pine Belt Pale Ale. The thing about creativity, sometimes it works, and sometimes people look at you like you're a circus freak. But I'm glad they are nearby, which means every new creation they push out will be in Houston first. Good luck fellas. Lay off that pig.

Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA
My friend and I decided we had to make an audible and go with something other than Texas beer. I just needed that Bacon flavor out of my mouth. And I needed a Westcoast IPA to make it happen. My friend got a Westmalle. Amber color, strong hops that are flowery and citrus. Yes sir! Creamy white head. The taste is a strong malt followed by a strong hops. I'm thinking maybe Cascade and some other hops. It's not overwhelming but this one got the job done. 3-4 Star.

Back to today...
What made it so bad is that I still tasted some of that pork in my mouth all night.

Stone Smoked Porter, now warmer
Now there's some of that smoke. This beer is maybe in its 50s instead of upper 30s when I first tried it. The grittiness on the tongue is still there after you drink it down, but this one is so smooth you don't even care. Nice low carbonation. Very good. The maltiness comes in very well. I'm going to refrian from calling this a 4 Star beer, as I think the Sam Adams Black Lager is really the ticket. I just walked away from it to eat some corn. I come back and it's even better. 4 Stars man. Don't even put this one in the fridge. This one would be a little better with a touch more mouthfeel, but I'll keep it at a low 4 Star.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Do you know the Gingerman?

A little more beering in Houston. A friend of mine and I called another happy hour for guys in the Oil & Gas industry. "The Oil and Gas Boys Happy Hour". Every time we have one of these, someone decides to bring his girl or something. We are thinking about changing the name to "The Oil and Gas Boys Happy Hour, Bring the Women". Anyway, we always do this at a beer bar somewhere, and this time it was Gingerman.

This a nice pubby beer bar and ranks in the Top 3 in the beer bars of Houston, along with the Flying Saucer. As many pints that I've knocked back at the Sauce, I could see myself spending more time at Gingerman. It's smaller, more intimate, and oodles of taps. They don't have the numbers of beers like Saucer, but they have a lot of different beers there I haven't even seen at the big Specs downtown. The bartender was a cool dude that knew his beer. We talked beer for quite some time, mostly discussing some Belgians and Real Ale. He even let me try a shot of a couple beers as well. When I do my Beer Bar rankings at the end of the year, I may have to put this at or near the top of my own list.

Date: November 5, 2008
State: Chillin, a little irritated, still fired up with the Obama win

The wife stuck me with the baby so she could play beach volleyball, so I got to my own happy hour 2 hours late. A lot of my friends had already left, but I many were still there. I decided to stick to the beer on the chalkboard without any particular style in mind...

New Belgium Giddy Up
The girl at the bar warned me that this has a small shot of espresso in it. I don't really drink coffee or espresso, but with all the coffee tasting beers I've had, why not. It smells and tastes of lemon and coffee, with a nice malt backbone to remind that this is a beer. This is very smooth with a dark amber color. Damn nice beer. I'm sticking this with a 3 star for now. Hella strong flavor. And I was awake the whole night.

Real Ale Dunkel Roggen
No clue what this style was. I see dunkel and I think dark. I see Roggen and I think conservative from California. This one is light orangish in color and smells of that Belgium Bret and fruitiness/banana. I did not see that one coming. And it seems that Real Ale pulls the old switcheroo, as the taste is way more bitter than I thought. It smooth with some Bret in taste near the back of the tongue. The mouthfeel is very interesting as well. 3-4Stars.

Real Ale would easily be the best brewery in Texas if it weren't for the Saint Arnold's Divine Reserves, both of which I put as 5 Star Beers. Then again, do I want to give SA credit for just brewing some ish that a homebrewer submitted. All they had to do was let the guy in the brewery to do his thing and slap it in a bottle and sell it for 3 times the normal six pack.

A lot of the guys were leaving at this point, but a couple of us were still up, so why not some Chimay I haven't had...

Chimay Cinq Cents Tripel
It has that bret smell again and the fruitiness again. I first notice the hops and alcohol, followed by the fruity maltiness. It is hoppy/bitter on the aftertaste. As it warms, the sweet/sour continues to come out. 3Star.

Monday, November 3, 2008

More Michelob

First off, my wife just sent me an email where some dude on the Sunday Session was all fired up about Michelob's Dunkelweisen. My main man Larry about the Specs also said that their DW was awesome. We almost picked up a sixer, but decided on some Brooklyns instead. But in the mean time, I went ahead cracked open their Irish Red I had left over from Dontoberfest.

Michelob Irish Red

Crimson color with a tan head. Smells of good caramel malt and almost brown sugary. The beer is empty at the back, yet malty at the front that hits and leaves. A little metallic, but low carbonation and good drinkability. After some fajita style chicken (cooked in my homebrew pale ale), I got the maple syrup hing going. Maybe a slight sourness and hops at the back of the palette as it warms up. It manages to stay sweet after I dous the chicken in some Honey BBQ sauce. One of the better Irish Reds I've ever had. 3 Stars still.

Clearing out my notebook

Date: October 7, 2008
State: Chilling at the Sauce in Houston

Noticed I had some entries in my beer logbook I haven't posted. This one was about a month ago when I still was not into hops. We were at the Sauce before the Dynamo game.

Lagunitas Sirius
I thought they said this was their cream ale. It was rather hoppy well into the pale ale area. Very citrusy hops. A 3 Star beer though I'm still not on the hops.

Ohara's Irish Red
Totally changing styles. This one does not have much of a smell. The player is kind of smokey coming off of a strong poofy head. Light malt and a medium body. Still not one of my favorite styles. 2 Star

Lagunitas Censored
I believe they wanted to call this one "The Chronic", but the Majority would not permit it. So they slapped "Censored" on the label. It has a copper color, with a nice malt and breadiness. Very nice low hops. It is very drinkable for a copper ale. Low carbonation to boot. Did not write a rating.

It's kinda hard to write in my book peacefully in a bar that is STUFF TO THE GILLS with people on a Saturday night. We couldn't even find a place to sit. So you'll have to excuse the crappy diary entries. Lagunitas has a lot of love in the craft beer community and I keep hearing about it on the old Sunday Session shows. I look forward to trying more of them in the future.

As a side note, the wife and I are thinking of making our 2009 vacation a beer tour of Belgium, with a quick stop in Munich for Oktoberfest. I've found quite a few tours that take you all over the place and into several breweries in the span of 8-9 days. We haven't decided yet, but what is really wild is the bar Delirium Cafe in Brussels. I thought I was doing well with beer bars with massive selections. The Flying Saucer in Houston clocks in with say 250 beers between bottles and taps. I've been to Taco Mac with what I think was 130 beer. The beer bars in Fells Point, Baltimore have over a hundred. These chumps in Brussels have a bar with over 2000 beer. Two-Zero-Zero-Zero. Unbelievable. I think there are over 1000 different beers from Belgium alone. I can see the scenario. I walk into Delirium Cafe, I nod at the bartender as I hear is the proper custom in Belgium, I take a look at the cooler on the back wall and the number of taps, and I just fall the fhck out. Next thing I know I'll be waking up in a hospital with a guy talking Flemish to me.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halftime, some half bottles

It's halftime with the FAMU game online. Tough defensive game. FAMU 7, Morgan State 10.
Since it's halftime, why split a couple of bottles with the wife. Nothing better than Magic Hat. I figured I should test myself with the beer styles, as they say Magic Hat does not suscribe to your beer styles.

Not sure what this is. I could look it up, but screw that. Good malty/chocolatey smell coming out of this one. A little syrupy like some dunkels I've had in the past. Medium to dark brown color with a light tan strong head. Oh yeah. Tastes of syrup sweetness at first, and then a quick rush of chocolate. Light to medium body, but with a nice smoothness to it. Excellent drinkability. I am thinking this is a dunkelweissen or something like that.

Beer advocate has this down as a Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy. I can see that now, although I have not had this style all that much. But this one is very good. No alcohol taste, but maybe some scotch/bourbon thing going on as opposed to the maple syrup. And at 6.9% ABV, it is a wee heavy. It's still pretty fulfilling as I keep drinking it down and get used to it all.

High 3 Star beer out of 5 stars.

#9 (not quite a pale ale)
I expected something that was pitch black, but this one looks like a Budweiser that is just a touch cloudy. I'm smelling cherry coming off of the white poofy head. The first taste I get is a noticeable cherry, followed by some emptiness (water) and then a bready aftertaste. The hops are VERY low. What in the blue hell are they doing here. This is certainly a fruit beer. It reminds me of the Carolina Blonde with Blueberry I had back in Charlotte. This one has low carbonation and excellent drinkability. I could chug it down all day. As it warms up, I am switching the taste from cherry to our old friend APRICOT. 3 stars.

I gotta keep working on it with this beer tasting. Magic Hat is throwing me for a bit of a loop. That and I'm still slightly hungover from last night. Lots of homebrew drinking with the neighbors for Halloween. Another half-bottle blind taste test should help later on.