Monday, December 29, 2008

Live Blogging: We're Fogged In

I say, uh, I say... I'm finally tasting and reviewing the Old Foghorn by Anchor. Sitting here with the wife and the baby playing on the floor. We had been holding off on buying this one until the winter time. It's about 45 deg F outside, and so why not Barley Vino it up.

Beer Log: Right damn now

State: Just eaten my IPA Spaghetti and had an IPA, watching Real Housewives of Atlanta with the Misses

I'm telling you, you have got to watch some of the shows your wife watches. Just like with children, you want to know what messages she's getting from her entertainment. So I have logged a few hours over the years watching Top Model and Housewives of Atlanta. If nothing else, Housewives of ATL all sports at least a D cup, and because they are milfs/cougars, they all show it proudly. The wife's also a fan of those morbid weekly crime thriller shows, like Cold Case, Dexter, CSI, and Bones. Someone's always getting offed in those things. I prefer my violence to be a little more fantastical, not the sh*t I just read in the newspaper the week before. Anyway, I've think I've let this Vino warm up enough.

Pouring this in my Hennessy Snifter. And I don't even drink Henn that much.

hardly any head, harsh malt nose almost mediciny. Good cloudy dark orangeish brown color. Not as harsh on the malt flavor as the nose would suggest. It has smooth velvety mouthfeel with a little tingle from the carbonation. The hops are present but not biting. There is something missing again, like the their 2008 Christmas beer. But instead of the flavor not coming together, there beer disappears about 5/6ths of the way back on the tongue. High 3 Star on the normal beers but there are other barleywines I'd rather try. Once I get this beer cooler temperature control set up, I'm going to have to age a few of these.

Live Blogging: St. Arnold's Winter Stout

Beer Log: Right now

State: Getting ready to read up for the PE Exam, a little thirsty.

St. Arnold's Winter Stout

Deep brown color with a strong 2 finger tan head. Nose is chocolate and maybe some sugar sweetness just barely in there. Nice full body malt hitting the tongue, very smooth with low carbonation. Almost imperial-like with it's malty sweetness, but not quite. An excellent stout with a chocolate and toffee flavor hiding amongst the hard maltiness. The hops are pretty much non-existent, but that's fine. 4 Stars. Probably the highest I've given a non-Divine Reserve St. Arnold's beer. As it warms I can get more of the chocolate, and the aftertaste is more chocolatey as well. Well Done by SA.


Still fired up with the UFC 92 card. All the guys I wanted to win won. On to the beer.

Beer Log: Yesterday
State: Eating spicy Asian shrimp

Old Jubilation
Bout time I had something from Avery in the house. This has a mahogany color with a creamy offwhite head. It smells like plum, brown sugar, raisins, some caramel and a touch of alcohol. Sinuses have been clearing up. It just tastes just awesome. Good malt and cinnamon on the palette. Low hops and medium body with a low carbonation. I can taste a touch of alcohol and maybe some metal in there, but whatever. 4 Stars.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Back at Home: Christmas Beer Me

Man it feels good to be back at the house. The baby has learned all kinds of new tricks, so cute. After some hanging out with friends, I'm able to try to try the new beers.

Beer log: Right now
State: Chillin with the wife, watching Real Housewives of Atlanta

Abita Christmas

Velvet brown color, white a slight tan head. Smells like a great cinnamon 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 malt and stronger cinnamon cookie presence. Low 3 Star though, unless you are eating it with a saltier food.

Redhook Winterhook

Ruby brown color, with a rather strong offwhite head. Balanced nose with a caramel malt and piney hop scent. This head ain't going nowhere. Decent hops and late bread on the flavor. A little watery maybe 3/4 of the way back on the palette, and the AT has medium hop citrus bite. Low 3 Star.

Not a bad start, but I've got some Avery and a few others. We're going to try and squeeze in a trip to Gingerman to run through the Anchors Christmas beers going back to 2005. Stay Tuned.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

End of the Year Beer Awards

Who's Going home with the BROTHA AWARD!

No not me exactly, but the beer awards for the end of the year. It is almost exactly one year since I did my first written beer review and consequent first blog post of DuClaw's at Arundel Mills Mall in Maryland. I've learned a great deal about beer styles, the intricacies, what's new, what's hot, and what's just f'n crazy (hello Magic Hat). Thanks for all of you who have followed me around on this blog. Lord knows I have not posted regularly like a lot of other bloggers, but it's like that sometimes. I find this to be very enjoyable and will keep doing it until blogging gets out of vogue and we just read the information directly out of peoples' minds.

Some time in early January I'm going to give out a few "Best of" awards. Well, I ain't sending a damn thing to anybody, maybe an email. But I will have it written on here. The "Best of" categories will probably be a little bit different than what you're used to. Rather than just running down best style and best brewpub, I'm going to throw in a few of my own. Examples will include (in no particular order):

Best Brewpub - Obvious
Best Beer - Obvious
Best Brewery - Obvious

Best Wow Beer - Beer that on the first sip you will say "wow" to yourself
Best Beer to have with a Cigar - smoke sum'tin
Best Adjunct Ingredient - what violations of the Purity Law were the best this year
Best Tailgating Beer - damn Texans, nobody tailgated this year
Best Swill Beer - Who has the best of Miller/Bud/etc
Best Beer with Spicy food
Best Texas/Louisiana Brewpubs, Beers, Beer Bars and Brewery
Best Beer to give a woman - what would the sistahs like
Best Gateway Beer - Beer that gets you into craft beer
Best Mexican Beer - Obvious
Best Workhorse Beer - Best of beers that are usually all over the place
Best Style New to me - What style did I not know about last year that was the best
Most Jacked up Beer Name - I'll have the poontang pale...
Most harsh beer - makes you tear up

And the Brewpubs

Brewpub with best Selections
Brewpub in the Most Picturesque Setting - Oh yeah
Best Food from a Brewpub - I'll take the thai style lamb
Most memorable experience at a Brewpub

Beer Bars (gotta love 'em)
Best Beer Bar
Best Beer Bar Food
Most Knowledgeable Staff
Best Beer selection
Best Membership club

If you can think of anymore, feel free to let me know. I'll be adding more categories probably once I get some alcohol in my system tomorrow. Of course all of these will be limited to brewpubs I've actually been to or beers I've actually had. Don't bust me on the MB saying there's a Chocolate and Lead Paint beer in Brownsville I should have put on the list. But I am open to suggestions of places we should try to go. Right now we are locking up our plans to go to Oktoberfest for a hot minute, then off to Belgium for about 8-9 days in early October.

Other trips include a run up to DC to see our boy Barack Hussein get inaugurated, and we'll probably spend most of that time in Baltimore. We'll be likely heading to New Orleans some time after I knock out the PE Licensing exam in April (hopefully NOLA will be open) and back to Atlanta for my family reunion. And I can't forget San Antonio for New Years and the opening of the Freetail Brewpub. Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Beering in Atlanta: Wrap Up

I've got some down time, so let me go ahead and do the wrap up.

The last time I spent significant time roaming the streets of downtown Atlanta was at least 3-4 years, as all my other trips are VERY quick turnarounds. It seems as if downtown, midtown, and Buckhead have undergone a truly remarkable transformation. They must have forgone your basic city planner and went straight to an urban painter to redesign the area. From the Underground up to Buckhead, it was simply immaculate. There was nothing going on in town, no special events, but there was not so much as a stray newspaper on the ground. Atlanta is probably more fit for the Olympics now than they were in 1996. The fact that it was chilly added a nice touch to it, to be honest. The beer selection is fantastic along with the brewpubbing. Let's get to the beer rankings.

This trip was all about the brewpubs, and Atlanta has about 5-6 of them. It worked out great for the area, and it seems like many of the brewers have common roots. The top three:

3. Rock Bottom

The setting is pretty damn nice, and does very well, considering my worry about chains. An excellent part of Buckhead's party/bar scene. Make sure you try their Pale Ale

2. Max's Lager

Got to love the service, hell they let me chat with the brewer. The beer was pretty good and probably the hoppiest local beers you'll find at the brewpubs. The food is great and it worked out great for hosting business colleauges (or my mentees in this case). That Grand Cru was something else.

1. 5 Seasons

Of course it's 5 Seasons up near the perimeter on Roswell. I was too cheap to pay the 50 cents to get there on GA 400, so I took Peachtree the entire way. It was certainly worth the wait and is a STRONG candidate to be the best brewpub I've ever visited. Up and down the menu you can't really go wrong with food or beer. Rather eclectic collection of food, and certainly a beer to match. I wish I could take a crane and plop this down in the Galleria in Houston. It would make SERIOUS money. Atlanta's money ain't got nothing on Oil Money.

I bought a lot of beers from the store and will hold off on giving my top three beers of Atlanta (that I've tried.)

For those that are keeping up, I did not include Gordon Beirsch, as I visited them the last time. Although they would probably barely make #3 on this list. Nothing lost on Park Tavern, which is probably the most picturesque place to enjoy a craft beer.

I look forward to visiting Atlanta again in the near future and seeing what's new in the beer world, and getting more beers on my Taco Mac list. I've got 9 so far. Awesome awesome experience.

Welcome To Atlanta - Jermaine Dupri feat. Ludacris

Beering in Atlanta: The Airport

F7cking Atlanta! That's what I always say when I go there. I was so beered up I couldn't even make it to my last brewpub on the list (in Decatur), so I moved my flight up for a king's ransom and went home. I felt pretty violated as Continental just took me to the CLEANERS for daring to move that flight. I did manage to smuggle 16 beers back to Houston, none of which I've had yet. I swear these airlines may as well put a branch sticking up in every seat. If you follow the rules, you'll be just barely okay. If you dare bring anything more than yourself at the exact same flight, you're screwed. It was not long ago that you basically bought Continental flights for what amounted to the whole day, and you just showed up to the airport and got on an available flight. Moving on.

So I drag myself to the bars in Atlanta airport and the waitress is about two less Wafflehouse visits per week away from being SMOKING! She takes forever to get me a drink I actually don't think I had before.

Beer Log 12/12/08
Sweetwater 420
Oh the Sweetwater basic workhorse beer. The one that's available everywhere. Atlanta's Shiner Bock, Carolina Blonde, Yuengling Lager. Tinged straw color and rater clear with a thin wimpy offwhite head. Smells like light malt. It's mouthfeel is very creamy and smooth and I get a slight lingering hop aftertaste. A nice light breadiness elucidates in the middle of the palette on the next slug with a touch of caramel malt. Reminds me of a light Budweiser American Ale. Low 3 Stars.

The waitress brings me my check before I even get started on the chicken sandwich, so I guess they don't need anymore of my money.

The bar across the hall knows how to treat a man. You order the 16 ouncer and you get a shot of whatever you want.

Phillips Amber (with Jack Daniels shot)
Amber color and white to offwhite head (if there is such a color). No smell. Some English muffin thing going down and a light hop bitter bite, which I suspect is Centennial. This beer is REALLY REALLY cold. It doesn't do much alternating with a Jack on ice. 2 Stars for the Clipper City amber.

I ordered another shot of jack with a Sam Adams Boston Lager. Could barely taste either but enjoyed the conversation with the other guys at the bar. Finally, my Atlanta trip was complete.

Beering in Atlanta: Return of the Mac

You guessed it, I am back at Taco Mac, this time with a guy from the training course and some of his crew. I regailed them with stories of the cougars the first time I came here, and actually ordered the beers for everybody. There was one sistuh at the table and I got her the Lindmen Frambroise, and she loved it of course. One of the dudes claimed he like Blue Moon, so I ordered him an Allagash Dubbel to step up your Belgian game. He loved it and ordered two more.

I decided to try the ultra hot hotwings again, but decided to stay down in the Pale Ales rather than go to IPAs. Last time I was here I joined the Passport Club, which I guess is the equivalent of the Flying Saucer UFO Club. That marks four spots (3 bars and 1 movie theater) whose beer club I am a part. I can just imagine my having a slew of mugs in the trunk of my car for a specific bar that I can fill up for a discount. Maybe I should put together a suitcase.

Anyway, today I'm still mourning the bad day in the Don Taylor Sports Association. My three NFL teams all LOST yesterday: the Browns just plain blew it, the Texans got jacked up, and the Panthers had a chance and lost in overtime. I sure could use a drink, but I won't be home until Thursday. Oh well. What happened at the Mac.

Beer Log 12/11/08; after I left Max's Lager
State: partying it up, lots of laughs, eating haberno hot wings

RJ Rockers Patriot Pale
I am the American Don, so why not the Patriot stuff. Dark straw with a strong white fluffy head (everybody in the crew is staring at me like I'm crazy as I'm writing in my book). Citrus hops smell and apricot. My adjunct flavor of the year: Apricot. The taste is toasty with a slight hoppiness. Kinda citrusy and pretty icky. Maybe there is a subtle apricot in there, but it could be just the scent messing with my tongue. It does a lot better as I keep drinking it but is no match for the hot wings. It just tastes more bready and toasty. 3 Stars.

I knew I should have gone with IPAs.

Boulder Hazed and Infused
Going to Colorado for this one. Straw color with an uber big white head. Light citrus and pine hops on the nose. The beer feels rather creamy on the first sip and sour with a biting hop. Did not write down a rating, probably just got distracted. Then again, I had three beers at Max's and I was feeling it a touch by then. I could have just been hazed and infused...I got a million of em... don't forget to tip your waitress.

I think I sampled a couple beers other folks got before we broke out. From there, me and one of the guys took to the streets to find a good cigar bar. We found one in Highland Village that is part snazzy cigar bar, and part Chicago Bears club. Now THAT's a business plan. It is noteworthy that with my Montecristo that I think was loosely packed, the Hoegaarden I had with it went very well. For the end of year awards, I am thinking of which beer will get the Best Beer with a Cigar award. I was thinking an Imperial beer would do the trick, but the Hoegaarden went well with this lighter cigar. Nice night overall.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Beering in Atlanta: Max Lager's

I'm still out here on the water, trying to get that oil and will be flying back in on Christmas Day. Offshore guys typically do not get holidays, but as an engineer I usually could work it to get the holidays off. I probably had a chance 4 weeks ago to set it up to go in on Monday, but I plan on going to Obama's Inauguration, and I want to carry over the vacation for that trip. It's really not so bad being out here for holidays, you just celebrate the holiday either before or after with the family when you are home. Plus the cooking crew breaks out the lobster tails and whatnot. The thing that makes it hard is that everyone keeps asking me "why are you working up to Christmas Day?" That doesn't make it any better. I'm here b/c that's the schedule. Funny thing is the guy wanted to send me in early and said he had me down on the Monday flight though I thought they had me on the Thursday flight. I kinda let myself get excited, and even told my boss back in Houston that I'll be coming in early. Turns out the helicopter guy hadn't read the manifest correctly and I was in fact scheduled to go in on Thursday, and the Monday flight is full. I should have ordered a drug test.

My wife and I are already ready for me to get back home on Christmas afternoon, and she has been racking up the Christmas/Winter Beer for me. Selections such as Widmer Brrr and Winterhook, as well as a St. Arnolds Winter Stout await me in Houston. Not to mention the Sam Adams Chocolate Bock and Abita Christmas. That woman knows how to treat her man.

But I still have some Atlanta posts to go, so here we go...
Beer Log: December 11, 2008

Max Lager's
I'm taking a couple of Georgia Tech students to dinner and I wanted to try this brewpub nestled right on Peachtree street, in a picturesque part of downtown Atlanta. It was only 0.8 miles from my hotel, but I drove anyway. I should have just enjoyed the walk, as it took me 20 minutes to find parking. The brewpub had some of its vessels right up front, with a old style log cabin kind of decor. Nice little bar up front with an upstairs that houses the fermenters and more seating. The students have not arrived yet, so I belly up to the bar for their first beer.

Not too creative with the names. Dark mahogany with an off white head. The nose is full of citrusy hops and caramel malt, rather piney as well. The head is very strong and I kinda have to wait it out. The taste is not too exciting, but it is rather hoppy with a slight malt. In fact the hops are pretty damn good and the beer has a strong lace sticking on the glass. I'll give it a 3 Stars. It is nice to have a hoppy beer in Atlanta.

The students have arrived and I take my beer to the table. We forgo the appetizers as they are all weary about spending my money, isn't that cute. In a few years, they'll be ordering bottles of wine on my dime. Next beer...

This one had a belgian wheat ale smell. There are some hops in there, but it's kind of plain. 2 Stars. I actually crossed out IPA and wrote in Abbey, as I thought this was their belgian, but they assured me it was their IPA. Could be something with the beer lines or whatever, but it seemed like the belgian to me. As I continued drinking it, I got more of the hop character.

I did not write much text on the review as I'm supposed to be talking to the students, not sampling beer.

After some conversation about Tech life, work life, and whatnot, the owner or GM of the place comes by to ask how we are doing. The steak I had was excellent. I asked him about that IPA and if they used a belgian yeast. He reveals to me that he is not the brewer, but the brewer was upstairs. A few minutes later, the brewer (a man they call J.R.) comes down and we talk beer and yeast for a little bit. As cool as this is, I'm trying to cut it a little short as I'm sure the students were thinking "WTF". He said he used a California Ale Yeast on that IPA. Oh well.

We get back to chatting it up with the students (the guy ordered a miller lite and the girl ordered a hard lemonade, how sweet). I go ahead and get a chalice of Max's Abbey Ale to finish out the night.

Abbey Ale
Good wheat and banana smell and taste. Cloudy with a white head. EXCELLENT on the flavor, carbo, and drinkability. Certainly a 4 Star. After downing about half of this brew, the waitress tells me that it is actually a Grand Cru. Fantastic, I'm going to drunk in front of the kids. I explain to them that this type of belgian is very good yet high in alcohol. It wasn't killer on the ABV, and I was fine.

We hung around for quite a while longer talking engineering, their hopes and dreams, as well as mine. A very good experience for Max's. I did not get all their beers, but I had a great experience, and the food was great. Come to think of it, I don't think any of the stuff I had was a lager, yet they call the place Max's Lager. Go figure.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Beering in Atlanta: 5 Seasons

Finally making it up to the 5 Seasons in northern Atlanta, right near the perimeter. They say this is the best brewpub in the ATL, but we shall find out. I thought I would be beering solo, but I have a co-worker and his lady friend from his days in high and college.

5 Seasons was not all that packed when I showed up a 6:00ish. It was nestled away in yet another one of those uber-high class shopping/restaurant/bar areas. Very nice soft decor with a massive projector with ESPN on. I belly up to the bar and strike up some convo with a guy rocking a Thrashers Jersey. I'm a Carolina Hurricanes man myself, so it was good hockey talk, though I don't really keep up until playoffs. I count 5 taps directly in front of me with another 4 on another side of the bar. I figure let's just get a 12 ouncer to get us started while we wait.

Beer Log: December 9, 2008
State: Waiting on the folks to show up, not eating right now
Chug Monkey Cream Ale
Got it in a pint glass on draft. Straw colored and very clear with a white creamy head. My nose doth detect the caramel notes of what I think is munich malt. The first draught I notice medium carbonation and a moderate amount of bread. There is an icky hop flavor late in the taste but dammit it works out very well. If there was a lighter beer I need to have in the house, this would be it, hands down. High 3 Star.

I'm actually a little fired up for this brewpub.

I knock back the monkey (that didn't come out right) and decide to go for a sampler of the other beers on tap, and then round out the night with the Belgians.

Hopgasm IPA
Sounds interesting and a little bit sexual. White head sitting on top of an orange beer. Very . There is a strong citrus and flower hop thing going on with the scent. I wrote in my book "OMG". Excellent balance, but not as strong as hoppy as the smell suggests, probably a good thing in Atlanta. In fact its almost pale ale ish. The quick finish is very nice. The more I sip it the more that citrus is coming out along with a slight hoppy aftertaste, along with a hint of pine. 3 Stars.

Kilt Lifter Scotch Ale
Whoever is naming these beers probably needs to watched by the sex offender database. Chocolate and RUM smell coming off of this one. There is a good maltiness with something akin to scotch actually. It's a very very smooth in its mahogony shell with the white head. Not too strong on the hops but there is some roast in there. High 3 Star.

Blackbird Porter
Strong chocolate smell in this ebony colored beer. Tan head. There si a strong chocolate and coffee taste. IT's a little dry as well but comes off with a great finish. Certainly 4 Stars, especially considering the beer I just had before it. The more I drink it the more I get what I think is citrus. It's not that much caramel malt but with a subtle hop presence to round it out.

Loving it!!

The crew has shown up now and we moved to a table. I've already got some sort of a lamb appertizer, perfect for belgians.

Flanders Golden Ale
Orange and cloudy. Banana and that sour smell of a belgian, I miss it so. It tastes of banana and fruit. It's super smooth with low carbonation. It tastes even better when it's a little warmer. It reminds me of a leffe, but smoother. 4 Stars once again.

At this point, I wrote down the head brewers name: Kevin McNerny. Turns out these guys at 5 Seasons have their roots in Sweetwater beer also of Atlanta. This one is fast becoming my most favorite brewpub PERIOD. And I still have a full glass of a tripel and a sampler of Barleywine to go.

West Mall Tripel
Not to be confused with Westmalle. STraw and cloudy. Smells like a port wine or a liquor, AWESOME. Sweet and shockingly a little empty at first. The more I drink it I see that it is nice and full bodied with a touch of brown sugar. I now change my note from "empty" to a very quick finish. Oh hell yeah. 4 Stars.

For those of you keeping score at home, I wasn't really tipsy, as all but that Tripel and the Monkey were full glasses. So don't go thinking I'm just gone off the booze and giving out the most 4 Star beers I've ever given for a brewpub.

Barley Wine
The guy got me a sampler of this apple cider looking beer. It's offwhite head gives a scent that is sweet like apples, yet subtle. It kind of has that Fall beer smell with that maltiness. The maltiness is there but then bitterness take over the palette. The alcohol is a little much. Medium-full bodied and rather fruity. It's a little dry. His girl finds it "yucky". Me, 3 Stars.

All in all I have to go on and say that this is the best beer I've had a brewpub since I started the beer blog last year. The decor, the place was packed within an hour of my showing up. Very eclectic food, and just an array of excellent beers any one of which I would like to have on tap at the house. I find that brewpubs are better at some things than others, and I see these guys steered clear of the lagers. Fine by me. If I come back to Atlanta, there is no question where I'll be beering every chance I get. Fantastic job 5 Seasons. Look forward to trying some more in the future.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Live Blogging: Holiday Porter

We interrupt this lovefest with Atlanta to review a beer that has been sitting in our kegerator for some time.

Sam Adams Holiday Porter
"Shouldn't that be Christmas Porter Mr. Adams?" I'm sitting here watching the Heisman and the baby is doing well, so why not crack open a Christmas beer before I head out for offshore tomorrow. Pours deep mahogany with a seriously thick tan head that is taking its sweet time going down. My nose doth detect honey, chocolate, light coffee, and cinnamon. There could be a citrus/piney hops note in there as well. The head is so thick and has such consistency that I have watched the entire Heisman trophy trailer. Wow, taste is surprisingly not all that. I get a medium bodied porter with that is a touch too hopped up. It's not IPA, but that citrus and biting hop is not what we were looking for. It's rather citrusy with moderate carbonation. Oh lord, all the Heisman guys listen to Kenny Chesney. This beer does not work for me. I think I'm tasting some chocolate powder as opposed to chocolate or roasted malt. The lighter body is nice, but it's a low 3 Star. Rather disappointing for me.

Beering in Atlanta: Park Tavern

Next night
Beer Log: Tuesday December 9, 2008

State: Eating some hummus as well as a Buffalo Burger.

Sobering up just fine from the night at Taco Mac, I convinced a couple of guys in my training course to come beering with me, and I figured now is as good a time as any to hit Piedmont Park and Park Tavern.

Piedmont Park is Atlanta's interpretation of the downtown area inner city park. The real estate cost is SERIOUS in this area of town b/c you are within spitting distance of midtown and the business districts, yet you have this nice open park at your front door with a skyline around you. Nestled in one corner of the park is the appropriately named Park Tavern restaurant, which also happens to be a brewpub.

On a Tuesday night it's pretty quiet and we made our way down the winding walkway to the dimly lit restaurant. It was still pretty cold out there, so we sat inside, though the view of the skyscrapers at night is fantastic. Although this is a strong candidate for most picturesque brewpub I've been to in 2008, I don't know about the beer.

Park Trail Ale
We start out small with a 12 oz of their basic ale. Cloudy and orange with a thin white head. It's rather interesting on the nose as I get light caramel malt, some vegetalness (like a lager), and citrus hops. The taste is light citrus with a leaning on orange flavor. There is moderate bitter hops and a bread feeling. The hops remind me of what the "Craft Beer Radio" guys would call "cat pea". Not that I've ever tasted cat pea, but I think I know what they were getting at. It's a little icky and harsh, but not in a good way. High 2 star.

Not trying to get too creative on the names I see. Amber orange color with your basic white head. It has some malt on the nose. There is a strong harsh hops like an IPA with some apricot thrown in there. Nice surprise. I think we have some Cascade hops in there with that late rush in the back of the palette. The apricot is there but I think it just doesn't stand a chance with those hops. 3 Stars. It's kinda strong for the buffalo burger.

The burger was pretty well done, perfect medium style like I like it. Not as juicy as I like, but then again, it is bison.

The waitress said something about this beer being their Oktoberfest that they re-dubbed a "festive beer". Whatever works. Kinda of a dark amber color. I get that sour, veggy, and malt smell on there. It took me a while after a few sips, but I wrote down "chlorine". The head is offwhite. The first few sips I get an astringent and sourish flavor. It reminds me of the Rahr and Son's Oktoberfest, as it was also rather sour. After we kept drinking, the sourness wore off and I starting get those caramel malts and light hops. Not something I would recommend to friends trying to find the best beer in 'lanta. 1-2 Stars.

At least the park looks nice

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Beering in Atlanta: Taco Mac

Back at the Mac here in the ATL. I got a few of my friends from undergrad and grad school together to enjoy some brews with the Brotha. No better place to hang out and watch the Panthers game than Taco Mac. The place we not too packed, and the waitress knew her beer. Only problem is, I ordered the tacos. How is it that the tacos at TACO Mac suck so much? Their paraphanelia and whatnot suggest that they are all about Buffalo Wings, but why did the tacos have to taste like Taco Bell? I wouldn't be surprised if the girl took my order, walked out the back door, ran by the drive through at Taco Bell, and brought it back on my plate. Damn shame.
Anyway, the restaurant and bar has lots of open space, conducive for large groups. You have to love what has to be 2 dozen big screen HD TVs. They even have about 5 TVs facing the window, so I guess the folks walking by on Peachtree St can check the score of the Thrashers game. There are no bad angles for watching any game. The menu is pretty simple barfood and features its buffalo wings. Unlike other wing joints, these wings don't come in 30 different sauces. There are just 5 levels of HOT. Last time I got the sauce called "Death" and had to chug down some IPAs just to keep up. But with my tacos this time I decided to make a run on their local and winter beers. On to the beer...

Red Brick Ale
Started out with this one on the full 16 oz from the Atlanta Brewing Company. It has a nice amber color but not much of a head. The smell and taste is malty and toasty, with a nice hop balance. This one goes down great as an ale and has a nice touch of syrup and medium bread. Nothing to knock you out of your seat and I imagine that is by design. 3 Stars.

My homegirl from grad school showed up first, and I ordered her a Sweetwater Blue. Got myself a couple of sips as well.

Straw colored with a low white head. It has nice not too powerful blueberry nose. The taste is basically a light blueberry and makes for a very drinkable blonde ale. Just plain nice fruit beer. I can see the Sweetwater boys did not go overboard with the blueberry like others have done with other blond fruit beers. 3 Stars.

At this point more of the crew is showing up and it is time to revive the Winter/Christmas beer tastings. I'll go outside the state for the first one...

Can certainly appreciate the spelling. Amber colored with a smell of sugar, malt and alcohol. The taste reminds me of saaz hops (that piney citrus hop) with some malt. This one is very smooth and I can tell that even in a 2 oz sampler. I gets high on ya love. High 3 Star.

Sweetwater Festive
Back to the local boys with this sampler of their winter beer. Dark brown and opaque. Roast and toffee smell. This thing has a high brown sugar thing going on at first. Then it hit me, this tastes like Absinthe. Someone break out the Anne Rice novels and Italian style New Orleans paste. The malt is strong in this one and I will rate it a high 3 star for now. I got another bottle of this one that I will smuggle into Texas, so I may have to review it again.

What's the good word? To Hell with Georgia! Of course that's the University (sic) of Georgia to be precise. But they do have a good brewery in Athens, GA, and this is their winter seasonal. Ruby color. Very nice look. Smells of moderate hops and strong malt. The taste is also a moderately hopped caramelly beverage, with a residual MALT on the aftertaste. I like the way they put this one together in that the malt is the aftertaste. It should do really well in Georgia, where it seems I cannot find a truly hoppy beer. But this is an excellent winter beer interpretation with the hops they added, I'm thinking Centennial. Maybe it's because I have nightmares of the unnatural ass whoopin I got at grad school in Georgia Tech every time I visit Atlanta, but I'm giving 4 Stars for the Dawgs.

At this point in the night my notebook notes were getting pretty scratchy and all the women started looking really good. This Lefthander Wowed me with the cinnamon and nutmeg. I actually wrote down in my book "Ho Ho Ho Motherf8cker". Malty beverage. Oh yeah, the color is black with a white head. Did not get a rating written down. Certainly a wow beer as this hits you hard with the sweet spice flavor, even after I had all those winter beers already.

I can certainly say I've got some strong candidates for top winter and Christmas beers out of this trip to the ATL. Kind of surprising as I figured the warm weather beers (wheat beers and ambers) would be their better ones. I've got reviews for Park Tavern and Five Seasons coming up. The night at Taco Mac was excellent as usual, and I may slide by there again as I joined their beer passport club. I officially had 6 beers, the samplers count, so all I need are 7 more and I get a T-shirt or something. I think I ordered the shirt size as "extra medium". As long as they don't try to push anymore tacos on me it should be straight.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

If Stuck in a Hip Hop Bar and Need a Good Beer

I'm still here in Atlanta trying to figure it all out. One thing you'll notice is in the ATL is that there are probably a hundred different hip hop clubs one could go to in a night in this city, and maybe 20 of them will be PACKED! And that's EVERY NIGHT. Most towns, there's one place on one night, one place on another night. Here's every one-off concert, new liquor, and Lil' Jon night is always going.

So my good friend who lives here knows that I'm more of a lounge guy, where we can sit down, drink, and here each other talk. Maybe a small dance floor. And of course the places we went to we couldn't find a seat, the bar is 3 layers thick of people all ordering watered down Hendog, and the music is too loud to hear yourself think.

Regardless, I think life is too short to drink bad beer, and I already know that I'm not going to find much of a selection there. And I REFUSE to pay the ridiculous prices they are pushing at us for hard liquor. So what to do.

First off: Avoid the Taps.
As Lew Bryson pontificated on, not many blackfolk are into beer like that... yet. So whatever is on tap has probably BEEN on tap forever. I know I ordered a Shiner Bock and a Sam Adams on tap at a nice jazz bar in Houston and I swear it tasted like I was licking the outside of the keg. That stuff can get way past its shelf life. Just say no to taps, even if it's craft beer. In fact, don't touch the tap unless the club has at least 20% non-black people, then you know you're at least getting some turnover on that draft beer.

Second: Get Bottle Only
The other thing about these bars is that watering down is the norm. You pretty much have to be in VIP to get the potent stuff. That goes for beer on tap. Must be a cultural thing.

Third: Guiness Baby
That's right. About the only non-megaswill beer I would get on a bottle is Guiness. And it actually tastes better in my opinion out of the bottle. Heineken is always available, but we all know how those green bottles let in light, and thus oxidation and funk. And again, you don't know how long that Heiney has been sitting in that fridge. Guiness comes in a black bottle, so it works out great with longevity. Not to mention that it will make you look a touch more sophisticated to the ladies if you're drinking the big G than Bud. Go figure.

Fourth: Deep South Clubs
One thing about your more country hip hop clubs in the deep south is that they will let you bring in your own drinks. That also includes some strip clubs. Obviously you need to do a little planning so you can pick up the Sierra Nevada at the grocery store. In most places in the South you cannot buy alcohol after midnight at a store, some lingering Bible Belt laws. But for some reasons gas stations are okay, but who the hell wants to be stuck with a bunch of tallboys of Bud Dry. At least make it PBR.

So there you have, how to at least enjoy some beer at a Hip Hop Club. Now get out there and the hip hoppery. Welcome to Atlanta Shawtay!!!

Beering in Atlanta: If you SMELL...What the Rock...Is Brewin

Here in Hotlanta where the weather is 35 deg F. Feel good to be back in my stomping ground, but actually with a few dollars to my name. The city is looking great these days, very clean, very classy. They're really upped the ante with Midtown and Downtown. I got one of the boys from FAMU living in town and we decide to get some food and brews. Atlanta has about 5 brewpubs I want to try, and first stop is

Beer Log: December 7, 2008

State: Happy to be in Atlanta, eating a steak

Buckhead is this swanky big money area of Atlanta just north of downtown. It used to be a slew of cool bars and hangouts, but after the "hood" started hanging out in Buckhead, they decided to condo up. There are still a lot of good places to go, and Rock Bottom is one of them. The decor is very nice with some Christmas theme, and there are a few Steelers fans in full regalia acting a fool watching the tube. The waitress seems to know her beer, and we go ahead and order a flight of all their beers.

Hooch Pilsner

First one is clear with a straw color with a white thin head. It's got a nice bread background with medium body. Very light hops that taste like Saaz. There is a slight malt there as well. Low 3 Stars.

Pinstripe Pale Ale

Getting into the hoppy stuff now. It smells of flowery hops and light caramel. It tastes like your basic English Pale Ale although she claimed it was an American Pale Ale. There's a moderate amount of hops, likely cascade, and it goes down great with it's low carbonation. 3 Stars.


Looking forward to this. Slgith malt smell with a strong hop presence, but not killer I'd expect of an IPA. It has that dark amber color. Low 3 Stars as the flavors did not mesh well for me.

Sweet Magnolia

No smell and it is dark brown and opaque. It has a nice roasted and choco malt flavor, but I'm getting a lot of butter. It's biscuity and buttery to me. Low 3 Stars. Sad as this one is their signature beer. I think they actually cook with this one.

Iron Horse Stout

Sounds like it should be pretty hard core. It smells of roasty smoke malts. It has a nice brown head with a black color. It's okay on the flavor, but not much there but some roast and malt. It's not budweiser, but it's still a 2 Star for me. That butter is hitting me once again.

Winter Seasonal

Finally the seasonal. It tastes like the last one, just a little better and a little more hoppy. I didn't write down a rating.

I think it's obvious the top three beers were the

3. Hooch Pilsner

2. IPA

1. Pinstripe Pale Ale

They do a pretty good job with the drinkable lighter beers but something is off in my opinion with the dark beers. It could be that I was just having an offnight. I'll give them another shot next time I happen upon one of their chains.

Monday, December 8, 2008

In Atlanta

Don't worry I'm still blogging and beering. Currenlty I'm in Atlanta about to go back to Taco Mac with a few friends from Georgia Tech. They are STILL there. I got a Masters, got married, bought a house, had a baby, started up 2 businesses, and brewed 4 homebrews in the time it's taking them to get their PhDs. Oh well.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Wine Brotha???

I'm selling out. No not that, or even that.

The company I work for has trimmed the budget on the big holiday parties, or Christmas parties if you're Bill O'reilly. It looks like every team is on its own, and our team did a lunch wine tasting at a great local french restaurant, Le Mistral. We had the ballroom to ourselves, got as much wine as we wanted, great food, and were NOT ALLOWED to go back to work since we would had been drinking. In fact, we were not even allowed back in the building.

There was a somalier from France as well. He would give these little powerpoint presentations on each wine we had, where it was from, and some of the history behind it. Even though I'm a beer man, I figured why not take a shot at some reviews. Don't worry, this won't be a habit.

Cue the music...

We started out with some lovely finger appertizers which consisted of a lovely Smoked Salmon Frillo Dough with lemon chives and creme fraiche. This appertizer was accompanied by a lovely little belgian endive leave topped with blue cheese mousse and carmalized pecans. The wine of choice:

Vouvray: Domaine De Vaugondy 2005 Demic-Sec, Style is Chemin Blanc

The the gentlemen from the Loire Valley in France get us started with a very sweet and drinkable white wine. As good as my palette is, mine eyes simply see white wine that is tinged is clear with tinged yellow color. Although I used to consider myself a redman, I'm really enjoying the nice chill of this white wine. If I were to compare it to these neanderthal beer drinkers, I would hazard a guess that they stopped the fermentation to allow some of the sugars to up the sweetness factor.

Not to be outdown, they brought the quail breast rolled with bacon and plum, marinated in a nice port wine. I (peeled of the bacon), and enjoyed their

Chablis: Domaine de Long-Depaquit, Style is Chardonnay of 2006

Out of burgundy this one smells and tastes rather tangy and citrusy. There is a sourness in the middle of the palette. A stark chance from the Chemin, and not as tasty. A great match with the quail, but it does remind of a Saisson.

Onward to a nice salad de mistral, which sported the Mistral Blueberry balsamic dressing and pine nuts.

Oh the Pinot, lovely.

Pinot Noir: Albert Bichot 2005

One of my favorite wines, but I typically order it with a hearty steak, but a salad? This one smells like those red wines we know and love. The mouthfeel is dry and hearty, with some fruitiness. I'm getting something that makes me think of blood without the metal. A very thick wine that has plenty of legs on the glass. This one goes down very rapidly.

For the entree I wanted the sea bass filet, but they brought out the red wine anyway, which I did not get in a review.

Not bad. I never really tried to pick out flavors in wine and found many of the same techniques in beering translate to wine. I understand that unlike beer, wine is supposed to served a certain way from certain areas with certain foods. Beer on the otherhand, is meant to be experimented with.

Let's get a beer review before it's all said an done.

State: Chillin, playing with the baby, watching the SEC game

Beer Log: December 6, 2008

Arrogant Basted Ale OAKED
Oh I have been looking forward to this one. If you've been keeping score at home, I am back into hops. The layoff in fall (link) has done me some good. I now feel like I can enjoy those beers again. From the bottle to the wine glass. oh mahagony and malty. it's prolly 45 deg right now. almost ginger snaps sweet smell. It does the trick. Rather sweet and malty, but the hops are not there to balance it out. Reminds me of an imperial stout. Medium body and low carbo. Leaves hints of choco and twizzlers on your tongue, and maybe some grittiness. It's about 4PM right now, and maybe it's the day the time, or whatever, but I'm putting this as a low 3 Star. Lots of flavors and things going on there, and the hops are coming on stronger as it warms, but it is missing something. Perhaps some aging, but the flavors are not working for me.

10 minutes later, whoa is that banana and some sourness? not bad man.

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.