Friday, July 3, 2009

The Session: Will Travel For Beer

Oh yeah, I'm running late. I had "The Session" on my calendar, but was not explicit enough in the calendar information, so I could not remember what the hell I was supposed to do.

My contribution to "The Session" is: The Texas Hill Country. Last month the wife and I took our anniversary all of 150 miles northwest of Houston in the Texas Hill Country. This area was settled by Germans, Poles, and Czechs back in the old days. If you pay attention, the town names get more Germanic in nature as you get closer to New Braunfels. Keep going west on I-10 and the towns get more Mexican.

So we drove out of Houston and made our way to New Braunfels to eat at a nice German restaurant called Freisenhaus. You walk in and the smells of kraut and swine could knock you down. It was the middle of the day on a Friday, so there were only a couple of folks in there. The waitresses actually had strong German accents and wore the whole dress with suspenders and whatnot. I had myself a:

Hofbrau Weissbier on draft
Never had it on draft. Banana/clove with a little sweet and sour on the nose. Light gold color with a strong white creamy head. Little bubbles are coming off the bottom of the glass. On the first draught, I notice it's very smooth with a nice banana/orange flavor with low hops. Dammit who doesn't like a German weissbier on a hot day? Medium to full bodied. It's a touch bready and just fills up your mouth (nullus). Fantastic. 4 Stars.

After grabbing some fried schnitzel and potatoes, I got a little:

Warsteiner Hellas on draft
Smells sugar sweet. The bitterness is HARSH, but in a bad funky kind of way, especially on the aftertaste. Light clear color and very brilliant. But dammit this one was not good. 1 Star. Sorry stuff.

Before hitting the hardcore wine trail, we took a slight detour to the loop around San Antonio. We went ahead and passed up Freetail this time and after a big traffic jam, we found the Dodging Duck in Boerne, TX (pronounced bernie).

This brewpub is right along a river and has a fantastic wooded patio. We didn't even go inside at first, just sat on the patio. But if you go inside, you'll feel you're transplanted into a rustic wine tasting room, except it's beer. The interior has a certain woman's touch as you smell the potpourri and whatnot. Actually it was very pleasant, and I could see how they would make good money with the eclectic crowd at night and say the "retiree" crowd during the weekday.

Woodchuck Pear
First one in the flight. I had to fill out the flight so I just grabbed some cider. Ice cold and very clear, like water from Cary County. Pear flavor. Not overpowering pear or too high in carbonation. 3 Star.

OK onto the Beer

Quacker Oats PA
How cute, the whole duck theme moving on. Cloudy as all get out, smells like oatmeal, wort, and clove. Medium body is the first sensation followed by super thick bread and banana flavor. Perfect for this hot day on a patio. I get a touch of lime as it warms up. Low hops (maybe English style). 3 Stars.

Duckenback Dunkelweizen
How cute, the whole duck theme moving on. Deep brown and ruby colored. Nose has a strong chocolate and coffee essence. It tastes a little sour at first, then very roasty, then a little estery, and then you notice the full body. Pretty much walks you right the whole dunkel and weizen of it all. 3 Stars

Fowl Play IPA
How cute, the whole duck theme moving on. Cascade hoppy floral nose. Something resembling a 3 leaf clover head residue remaining on this orange amber beer. The nose is a little malty as well and I'm hopping it's balanced. On the taste, it's not quite balanced with the pinch too many hops. Not killer one way or the other. I'm just loving the simplicity of it all. The aftertaste is a light hop. Very well done. 4 Stars. All around great with the chips and salsa.

We roamed through the wine country, visiting places like Sister Creek and Becker vineyards. We hit about 9 vineyards when it was all said and done for the weekend, and probably bought about 30 bottles of wine. You talk about a beautiful drive. The Texas hill country is straight out of an old movie. And the bikers coming from the Republic of Texas biker festival in Austin were a nice touch.

We eventually made it to Fredericksburg Brewing Company (a brewpub) and checked in to our hotel room...which was ABOVE THE DAMN BREWPUB. Does it get any better than that? The room was very big and rustic. We had dinner at one spot, then made our way to the brewpub for some beering. We enjoyed many many beers which are not in the notebook I have with me right now (don't worry I'll get it later). I'm attaching a few pictures of the brewpub and the inn above it. Fredericksburg is straight out of Germany with a couple of beer gardens and great selections on beer. The beers were okay, but the atmosphere and the food was worth it all.

I'll hit you later with the rest of the trip, which included many more vineyards, and wrapping things up with a night in Austin.

Speaking of travel the plan is starting to come together for my visit to Atlanta and then onto Buffalo. I'll need to check with the parental units one more time to see what night I can steal away to spend a couple days in Toronto. Buffalo looks like it has some promising beering, and I count a good 12 brewpubs/breweries along Lake Ontario from Buffalo to Toronto. GREAT CEASAR'S GHOST! If I had the money, I'd get a limo driver so I could truly partake instead of just buying bottles and having a couple of tastings. Should have lots of blogging to do along the way.
I start to think that I'm having too much time on my hands out here as I'm trying to plan my beertinerary to a tee. Down to the brewpub or beer bar at the Concourse at the various airports I'll be throughout the trip. I really want to see what the Brooklyn Beer Jazz bar is all about in EWR. And nothing like some more Sweetwater in the ATL. Holla.
PS: the wife is a little camera shy, that's why all the pics just have me in them...


Gail said...

What fun. That Texas-German connection is something I forget about. The whole set of Session posts is up now linked from


The American Don said...

Thanks Gail.

Yes, the German connection is quite profound when you think about it. Both Texas and Mexico have deep German/Czech roots and it shows up in the beer. Think about beers like Bohemia from Mexico and the Spoetzl brewery in Shiner, TX.

Thanks for reading the blog.

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Murray’s Punch & Judy
Holgate Temptress
Dalgety Strong Ale
Beard + Brau Golden Paw
Boatrocker Hoppbier