Tuesday, January 27, 2009

MS Notepad Beering, Imperial "Pilsner"

I frequently will put some beer reviews on my Microsoft Notepad, as I'm frequently stuck in places without wireless access and do not have my beer book. Or am just too lazy to open up explorer. I can't remember when and where I had all of these beers, but I did have them.

Tommyknockers Cocoa Porter

I smell the strong cocoa and a backbone of strong caramel malt. Brown colorwith a tan strong low head. Nice stuff so far. Lighter body thanyou'd think and a more subtle cocoa flavor than the nose suggests. No coffee flavor, just a nice caramel malt. Very nice light body choco beer. It is a touch fizzy but okay. High 3 Star.

Sam Adams Hallertau Imperial Pilsner

Kinda cloudy and orangish. Excellent strong white lacy headin my Pilsner glass. This one has a great malt and hop nose.Oh yes lord. Great malt with a fantastic hop that finishes very quickly. The malt has a cough syrup quality, which I love, very imperial like. This one is very balanced as well. Moderate carbonation. I love how the Hallertau hops works with the intense malt. Unlike Cascade and whatnot which can leave a harsh aftertaste. High 4 Star if not 5 star. This is just plain excellent.

Sam Adams Boston Ale

Dark copper, nose is fruity and toasty. I think I'm smelling something akin to biscuits. Nice so far. Nice offwhite head witha touch of lace. Tastes fruity and toasty. A good amount of hopsas well in the AT. It is more complex than I thought, as I'm getting the bread in there in addition to the fruitiness. Nice beer man. Probably more of a estery amber than anything else. 3 Star.

Later on, while watching Beowulf

Reindeer's Revolt
Clear and light copper. Very strong many fingered head. Smells allplum and alcoholy. It's a little veggie smelling as well. Kindaplain tasting. A little astringent for me. 2 star.

Make sure you catch that movie Beowulf. It has Angelina Jolie in there naked, in CGI form. Awesome.

Abita Christmas
Velvet brown color, white a slight tan head. Smells like a greatcinnamon brown sugar cookie. Fantastic. Taste, not so much. On its own, it has a light breadiness and not much on the maltiness.Some cinnamon in there and a smattering of bitterness about. With the turkey, it is much better, some maltand stronger cinnamon cookie presence. Low 3 Star though, unless you are eating it with a saltier food.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Beering at the Inauguration

Well I'm back in town and looking forward to doing more blogging. I think I have about 20 beer reviews in my notebook going back to New Year's day. I have been studying pretty hard for the Professional Engineering Licensing exam. For those that are not in the know, this is a license for engineers that is on par with the Bar Card for Lawyers, or the Doctor's license for...um... Doctors. The test is extremely difficult as it is put together by engineers who are trying to find those that are competent enough by the state of Texas to do engineering for the public. I'm spending about 8 hours a day on my days off and 3 hours a day when I'm working studying for this puppy. I still get some good beering in after hours. But onward to the Inauguration.

We left our house in Houston to hit the airport on early Monday evening. It was a nice 70 Degrees outside, but I was wearing a sweatshirt, jeans, and leather coat b/c I knew what was coming. We get to BWI and it is cold as all get out. On the way back from the airport, we decided to try and hit Brickskeller in DC that night. We would leave the baby with her grandma, and the wife and I would got to the massive beer bar in DC and stay there all night, hit a breakfast diner, and be at the mall for the inauguration. Sadly, the Metro shutdown at Midnight, and we could not get there in time. So we took a 4 hour nap and got up a 4AM to start making our way to the trains.

The trains had lines going back a quarter mile, but it was moving pretty fast.
We got on the train and it was really packed. Again, no big deal.

I don't think there were that many black people on a train since the last 50 Cent concert on the L Train in Chicago.

We get into DC and it is pretty hype already with the mass of people. The capital building is lit up in the night, and there is a crush of Bootleg shirts, hats, calendars and whatnot. We make our way into the Mall at about 7AM and it is already pretty cold. We do not have tickets, so we just have to post up in the mall with the crowd. Luckily that had a bunch of monitors ready to go. Before the festivities began, they had a bunch of tips for staying warm and whatnot, including eating. Neither the wife or I drank anything as the port-o-potties were so far away. Some folks were very industrious and brought blankets and whatnot.

There was a gentleman with an American Flag superimposed on the Kenyan flag walking very rapidly through the crowd. In a gruff East African voice he just kept saying: "My President is Black, I am from Africa. My President is Black, I am from Africa. My President is Black, I am from Africa." Needless to say, he had NO problem negotiating the crowd and moving up to the front. I wouldn't be surprised if they just went ahead and let him on the stage. Wasn't nobody going to try this guy.

Anyway, they fire up the monitors and show that whole "We Are One" show they did a couple days earlier. I was making jokes the whole time, and folks were enjoying the music. I had no idea Garth Brooks had that much soul. Some time while we were freezing, they started bringing in the VIPs. They were showing them pull up in black Explorers. And we eventually saw the Beast show up, Obama's Cadillac. You can be the president all you want, all black men over the age of 40 desire a Cadillac.

The inaug was nice. Some folks were chanting boo and "Hey hey hey, Goodbye" to Jorge W. Bush. I was telling folks that we've come to take Bush back to Texas with us. But really I was there to see a brotha get inaugurated. He's already gone a lot more center than his rhetoric during the campaign, as I knew he would. So my conservative sensibilities are at ease.

We are very proud of what he has done and what he continues to do. But if exiting DC was a first sign of things to come, we've got some problems. Exiting the city on the train was an all out nightmare. They closed the bigger metro train stops at the Mall, but didn't tell us. Nobody knew what was going on, and we eventually said screw it and walked our way to the stop at RFK stadium, a good 19 blocks from the capital building. It was hardcore stuff, and somebody fell out. But there were no cops to help anybody, they were all at the parade and guarding the VIPs. We later learned that Ted Kennendy fell out at the lunch, and he should have had a hat on. Regardless, it was a great time and it was nice being in the throng.

We made our way back to the train station and eventually to my wife's mother's fiance's car. We were tired, we were freezing, we had not eaten anything but granola bars, we had not had anything to drink or used a restroom in over 12 hours, and we just HAD to run by the local beer place to get some local beer to try that night. We stop by Latela's in Maryland and walk into the freezing cold walk-in beer cooler. We see a lot of stuff from Clipper City and whatnot, but I really preferred a variety pack. When it comes to picking up beers in new places, I just prefer beer that I cannot get at home. So we got a variety pack from Saranac.

When we finally got home, the parade had just started. And who was one of the first marching bands to go through. My Alma mater's Marching Band. I was in the band myself in 1998 and was loving how they held it down during the parade.

I went ahead and cracked open some Saranac and went at it...

Saranac Belgian Ale
Clear auburn color, super strong light tan-orange head. Smells include some subtle banana, fruit, and light sourness. On the mouth it's a little gritty, but nice banana. It's kind of hoppy with that icky aftertaste that may come from our old friend Cascade hop. Moderate drinkability and carbonation. It's belgianess increases and hoppiness decreases the more you get used to. Great first one out the gate. High 3 Star.

Saranac ESB
Haven't had an ESB in some time. Clear auburn color again. With head with some fruitness on the nose. It tastes like a basic English ale with nothing much going on one way or the other. Just a little roasty with low hops. There is a nice medium body and the hop character comes out a bit better as it warms. Low 3 Star.

Troegenator Doublebock
Got this one as well as the store. Dark copper color. Light white head that goes down fast. Nose has some sweetness notes, like light syrup. Nice moderate mouthfilling body. I enjoy the somewhat sweet malt with a touch of chocolate. There is also a light choco in the quick finish. 3 Star.

Much later on that night before clocking out, I had to grab one more beer.

Saranac Bohemian Pilsner
Clear straw color with a veggie smell. White poofy head. It has that basic pilsner smell with the light bread and hops. There is a touch of sourness that brings it down a peg. 2 Star.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Shiner 100th Anniversary

Finally back in Houston. We had a great time at the Inaug. and I'll do a post about it along with some beers I had while out there. But I feel like commemorating what we have witnessed, and what's better than Shiner Commemorator, the 100th anniversary beer from Spoetzl.

Beer Log: Right now.

State: chillin, just ate some rice with butter, watching Wheel of Fortune.

Shiner Commemorator

Smells a little bready, a little malty. Red copper color with a quick dissipating white head. I get a little chocolate and syrup on there as well. Taste is a decent amount of malt and bread. The second draught reveals a bit more of the dark malts, like syrup and whatnot, but not as strong as the doppelbocks I've had in the past. It does taste pretty good and just gets sweeter the more you drink it. Medium to high carbonation with a low hop presence. The finish is pretty fast as well. 3 Stars. It could be the alcohol, but the more you drink it, the more you like it.
I was hoping that Shiner would have hit the bricks with that 100th Anniversary. I think it would have been so badass if they just came out with a Belgian Tripel or something. They normally stick with the German and Czech style beers. Of the 5 anniversary beers, I'll have to say this one could be my favorite followed closely by the Helles Lager, Shiner 99. Congrats to Spoetzl and the good folks in Shiner, TX. Here's to another 100 years!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Guess Who's Back

Yeah yeah I know, I have not been posting lately. When I got back from San Anton, I put some serious time in on studying for the PE Exam. Luckily, I'm still able to do some serious beering. Since my last post. I've hit another brewpub in San Antonio, and I must have another dozen beers I've reviewed since then, and some I have not reviewed. One of the best I did not review was Avery's Mephistopheles. Tastes of an imperial stout and a burning warming alcohol as it goes down. Certainly 4 Stars. Of the ones I did review, I think I've had the first of Rahr & Sons I rate as 4 star beers.

We're on our way to Washington, DC for the Obama Inaug and we'll try to squeeze in some good beer. I look forward to making our way back to DuClaw at the mall in Arundel Mills mall, the place where it all started. Looking on their website, they have about 20 different seasonals. I look forward to seeing how my palette has changed since I started reviewing beers. I hear there are a lot of specialty beers in honor of the new president. Got to love it.

There's a few brewpubs and beer bars in DC itself I've been dying to try, so we MAY slide over there some time on Wednesday. Then it's back home on Thursday morning. Holla.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Beer of Year: Best Mexican Beer and Best Workhorse Beer

Ah Mexican beer. You got to sit back and admire the popularity of Mexican beer. In many hip hop clubs, Corona is usually high on the list of beers ordered, probably followed by Bud Light. Whether you enjoy it with a lime or straight up, it can be a great experience. My one issue with the cervazas is that they usually come in clear or green bottles, which can oxidize (deteriorate) beer a lot faster.

When I first started beer, I was all over the Dos Equis Ambar. I even called it Dos Equis "Armbar" as a shout out to my love of Mixed Martial Arts. But someone somewhere ordered me a Negra Modelo, and I was hooked. Excellent maltiness and some citrus in there. Great right out of the bottle or in a glass. It's negra color looks great and it goes with just about any tex-mex or mexican food (yes, there's a difference).

So Congratulations Negra Modelo for winning Best Mexican Beer of 2008.

Not so fast my friend, what about a beer you can have anywhere, anytime that's pretty good. Well in most parts of the country, the answer would be Guiness Foreign Extra Stout on nitro. But this TEXAS SIR! And out here, we need something to cool our jets for the 11 months of summer, and to handle all that spicey Tex-Mex and Louisiana food. I've gotten so deep into Tex-Mex, I cook everything with a big helping cayenne and red pepper. I'd put it in apple pie if they let me. While Pale Ales would seemingly be the ticket, you just can't find them everywhere. At many bars, you would be lucky to find a Sierra Nevada or one of those English Pale Ales (Boddingtons or something). But everywhere you go in these parts, there's always NEGRA MODELO! Miller Lite won't get 'er done out here. In the entire state, every inhouse, outhouse, doghouse, steakhouse has Negra Modelo. And if they don't someone's going to be insulted.

So Congratulations Negra Modelo, you are the Workhorse Beer of 2008.

Beer of the Year: Best New Style (to me) of 2008

Wonderful thing, this connoisseuring. I get the feeling I will find more and more styles the deeper I get into it. The best new (to me) style of 2008, Grand Cru. They say a Belgian Strong Ale. Typically higher than 11%, yet very smooth. Not as high carbo as the basic belgian abbey ales.

Check out these posts about my Grand Cru-ing
Post 1
Post 2

Beer of the Year: Most Harsh Beer of 2008

Well let me get these awards going before I order the Chinese food. The one thing about beer that most non-beer drinkers think is that beer is harsh. And they're right, when you first try it. Who did not taste some of your Dad's beer at 5 years old and spit it out immediately?

Of course as those beer are usually swill beer, chances are they are just reacting to the carbonation and some light hops. But what would a beer connoisseur think of as a harsh beer. That doesn't necessarily mean that a beer tastes bad, but tastes like "DAMN". I thought about going for one of those sour beers. The Gordon Biersch Berlinweisser I had in Atlanta popped up first in my mind. That sourness was something else. There are a lot of other sour beers out that get right there with it, including some lambics. But I am TRYING with the sourness, as this is a very popular style and not too long ago I would have said the same thing about hops.

So let's get away from the sour beer, and focus our attention on the swine. The new kids on the block at Southern Star Brewery in Conroe, TX have come on the scene with limited success. I've seen their cans of Pine Belt Pale Ale in many of the bigger beer stores in Houston. I've seen them at the home of a few beer friends. I am tickled pink that Southern Star is here to become our second Houston area microbrewery, but that Rauchbier is on another level of harsh.

I'll admit right up front, save a few choice cuts, I cannot stand pork. Particularly bacon, ham, and sausage. I will go to town on some chops and ribs (another stereotype), but all other pork should be banned. And that smokey rauchbier smelled and tasted of straight ham at first, and as it warmed up it tasted like bacon bits. Bacon bits have got to be right up there with the atomic bomb and Chris Brown R&B music as the worst things created by man. How many good salads have been ruined by those little hidden chips of fat and disgust.

I slugged that Rauchbier to the bottom of the glass and hated myself everytime it went down. I considered chugging it and almost retched, and I think teared up a minute. The Double IPA I had next was no match for that bacon/ham aftertaste.

And like I said in my post about this beer, I would not be surprised if it won some awards in the specialty and maybe even smoked beer categories at competition. It's just me. I cannot stand pork.

Therefore, the Beer Brotha Beer of the Year Award for the most harsh beer of 2008 goes to Southern Star's Rauchbier. Congratulations and keep brewing. I say bring the pain with every beer and don't stop till you get enough.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Beering in San Antonio: Flying Saucer

Ah, the Sauce, but this time in San Antonio. My favorite bar, even if the chain is based in Dallas. To the beer we go.

Beer Log: January 1, 2009

State: Enjoying the New Year

The first beer I had of the New Year was Shiner Bock. Fitting as I am neck deep in Texas Beer.

But the Sauce was having Mystery Beer night, so I figured I would let whatever beer they gave me start me off on the style of beer.

I am surprised I never had this one. Straw color, with a strong white head. It has a soda/veggie/malt smell going on. Medium body mouthfeel with a light malty bread thing going on. It's a little gritty on my tongue and light on the hops in the aftertaste. There is a little icky hop flavor the more I drink it. 2-3 Stars. As we sit around and chat it up, I grab it again as it warmed. Lo and behold I'm getting pestachio nut smell and flavor, which put it firmly in 2 star for me. That was about the LAST thing I expected, and it only got more pestachio-like the warmer it go. I started thinking about a thriller book I read where they tried to kill the hero by getting him to eat rotted almonds, which are poisoness. The girl who put that in his food ended up eating it and dying on the spot. The fact that I was still alive at least meant there was not a price on my head.
I looked through the pale lager section of the menu, and decided to dump the whole pale lager style tonight. I'll keep to my word on the next mystery beer night.

You ever type those German words and you feel like you are going to break your fingers, this is one of those times. Deep opaque brown with a low tan head. Not much of a nose. Lots of smoke on the flavor and a bready aftertaste. Medium carbonation and medium-full body. I get a slight chocolate as it warms. Low 3 Star for me. I must be going to hard on thesee choco beers, as they are not tasting as good to me.

I'm a little tipsy at this point, so why not bring it on home with the 10.5 ABV Oskar Blues Ten Fidy.

Opaque and black with a mahogany thin head. There is a strong to medium malt and chocolate nose. The taste is lowbitternesss with a strong malt. Second draught: The body is somewhat full with a strong malt (coffee/toffee) aftertaste. Although the body is not all that thick, it is very mouth fillingg, if that makes sense. It is very balance with the hops but not over the top. The more I drink it and the more I think about it, I'm getting something akin to red wine going on in my mouth after I drink it. Low 4 Stars baby.

Beering in San Antonio: Can I get some FreeTail

Happy New Year from the Don

Good to be back in Houston, hanging out with the wife and child, drinking some good beer we got over the holidays. I don't know if I'll ever try all these Christmas beers. I imagine this particular category will keep going. But before I regale you with tales of San Antonio for New Years, we made our way to BJ's Brewhouse a couple days after Christmas.

Beer Log: December 27, 2008

State: Chillin, eating a cheese pizza.

Got to love the Cheese Pizza, pizza the way the good Lord intended. We have not had all the beers at BJ's yet, but I was hoping they would have a Winter Seasonal by now. But what they did have was their fall seasonal.

BJs Oktoberfest

Had this one in a 5 oz taster. Bready oktoberfest and rather malty. As with most tasters, I don't get much of a head and thus scent. Low carbonation and low hops. It's almost syrupy on the flavor but not quite, 3 Star.

Tatonka Stout

This was a full portion of this one. Black with a creamy nitro all offwhite head. For those that are not aware, they put nitrous mixed with the carbon dioxide for a lot of stout and porters on tap. It makes the head very creamy and long lasting, and it looks cool as all get out when you pour it in a glass. The head kind of folds on top of itself like that Guinness commercial. Smells like caramel, roasted malts, and coffee. The first draught reveals a smoothness with a strong malt of the Imperial style. Rich flavors of coffee and toffee. Low hops and uber drinkable. It's not very bitter but there is a hint of citrus on the aftertaste. The head coast the inside of the glass. Very full bodied. 4 Stars.