Sunday, December 26, 2010

Please note.

The Goose Island Matilda (Belgian Strong Style Pale Ale brewed with Brettnomyces) is really, really, really awesome. Not really brett-y, the sourness/funk is subtle and incredibly balanced and delicious. Well done!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Ohio beerings

So, yay, Ohio beer that I can't get in Louisiana! Acquired: Great Lakes Commodore Perry IPA, Chatoe Rogue First Growth Wet Hop Ale, Goose Island Winter Mild, Dogfish Head Raison d'Etre, and a few Goose Island Reserve Ales: Sofie, Matilda, and Pere Jacques.

Have not busted into the Goose Island Matilda yet, but here are some quick thoughts on the ones that were sampled:

Great Lakes Commodore Perry IPA: a solid, tasty IPA. Hoppy with citrus notes. Very drinkable and a beer I almost always reach for when I come visiting this part of the world. Apparently Great Lakes makes a small batch of a Christmas Ale that is supposed to be amazing, but we couldn't find it. Sad! But we had others to drink so sadness was tempered.

Dogfish Head Raison d'Etre: I was feeling nostalgic for this while watching Brewmasters (though I would have been more psyched to see Indian Brown Ale). A Belgian Strong Dark Ale. Dried fruit aromas and sweetness on the tongue, balanced by a nice hoppy bitterness. It's a nice beer to curl up with on a wintry evening. At 8% ABV, it'll warm ya.

Goose Island Mild Winter: as I am a fan of the New Orleans-style mild winters, this beer delivered on a super smooth and generally awesome beer. It's a rye beer, so... YAY, of course. Dark but not heavy, it is just a great tasting beer that's easy to drink and balanced and as delightful as 70 degree days in December.

Chatoe Rogue First Growth Wet Hop Ale: Chatoe Rogue is Rogue Brewing's label for the beers they brew with hops and grains they themselves grow and harvest. As Tom mentioned, it's interesting to see breweries getting all "terroir-y" since beer has not really been thought in those terms before. The Wet Hop Ale was brewed with Freedom, Revolution, Independence, Rebel, and Liberty Hops. (Tom again: "are the Rogue folks in the Tea Party?" Literally Going Rogue, maybe?) Quite a nice beer, but didn't really deliver on the Wet Hop freshness in aroma and taste that the name promised. Maybe we got it late?

Goose Island bomber #1: Pere Jacques. A straight up, no joke Abby style ale. Very smooth, very drinkable, my sister freaking loved it. I drank it much quicker than I meant to. Oops!

Goose Island Bomber #2: Sofie. Wow, this was like a breath of fresh air from all the darker beers we had going. Poured as golden as the sun; this beer is aged with orange peel in wine barrels and it is phenomenal. It's fermented by wild yeast, so it's slightly funky but subtly so. It's got a real fruit finish at the end, my brother in law remarked that it reminded him of pineapple. I definitely got a fruitness, but I tasted more citrus (orange, lemon) than tropical. It was so good. I would like to ship some home now please. It's a Belgian Farmhouse style, clocking in at 6.5%.

So, we're definitely taking advantage of being in a different beer distribution region of the country, and enjoying it greatly. Not to cast aspersions on beer back home; the night before we left we had an amazing NOLA Brewing Hopitoulous Ale on cask, dryhopped with Citra and Nelson Sauvin (a New Zealand hop.) Man, that was so good- the hops were beautiful in both the aroma and the taste, and the beer just went down so smooth. The Avenue was also pouring 4 oz. tastes of Sam Adams Infinium and Brookyn Brewing Black Ops. They also had a few Belgian Christmas ales still on and we tried them both: Slaapmutkse Kermutske Christmas Nightcap and the Saint-Germain Page 24 Réserve Hildegarde Ambrée, a Biere de Garde. Both amazing. New Orleans sent us off to Ohio with a bang, and we will always remember, "there's no place like home."

But it can be fun to visit and try new beers!

Merry Christmas, y'all!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

You ever think...

You ever think, "YAY BEER!!!" because it makes you so goddamn happy?

Yes, often under the influence of beer, but who cares?

Beer had made me friends that I never would have thought I'd have. Beer is delicious. Beer is basically, as Ben Franklin says (??), proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. (Tom the atheist likes to say instead that "beer is proof that SCIENCE WORKS, BITCHES!")

Beer was a huge part of my wedding and of many excellent adventures I've had with my best friend FOR LIFE.


Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year and all that stuff, but mostly, Give Thanks to Beer!


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Beer tasting

Last night we hosted a beer tasting for a few friends at our house. We got a spread of cheese from St. James Cheese Company- a Mrs. Applebys Cheshire, a Lincolnshire Poacher, and a Lagiole from France. Also a wild boar salami and a goose, duck, and chicken pate.

Now, the beer! We started with a mellow Mana Wheat Ale from Maui Brewing Company - a Hefeweizen brewed with Maui Gold Pineapple. I actually didn't know about the pineapple until I just looked at the can right now. I think the fruity characteristics that are often present in Hefeweizens really lent itself to the inclusion of pineapple to a very smooth and delicious result.

Next up was a Goose Island special series beer called Fleur. It's a Belgian Style ale with steeped hibiscus flowers. Excellent. Goose Island produces some seriously high quality beers, and I was grateful to have the opportunity to try this one. Became more complex and flavorful as it warmed. Hibiscus seems to be somewhat of a trend these days- I recently tried a Canebreak ale brewed with hibiscus by Parish Brewing. Hibiscus is floral but bitter, an interesting comparison to similar characteristics of hops. It's not sweet or overly flowery- I think it's an interesting ingredient and I look forward to trying other examples of it.

Samuel Smith's Yorkshire Stingo was next- an aged English Strong Ale. This beer was amazing. Incredibly complex flavors- the bottle lists "fruit, raisin, treacle toffee, Christmas pudding, and slightly oaky flavours." Yes. And then some. Poured deep and dark, aroma was heavenly, and the taste was amazing. At 8% alcohol, this is pretty strong for an English beer, which is why it's labeled a strong ale, I suppose. Very warming and happy making for a December evening.

North Coast Brewing Twentieth Anniversary Ale: this was kind of a weird one. 12.5% alcohol, and 67% ale brewed with agave nectar aged in oak barrels, blended with 33% ale brewed with agave nectar. Poured a a straw yellow color, and had a sweetness, with vanilla and coconut notes. I was expecting more from North Coast, and this was a bit of a disappointment.

Next up was another highlight. Boulevard Brewing's Smokestack Series Special Limited Release Rye-on-Rye Ale. Now, I love rye beers more than almost any other style of beer, so I was looking forward to this one the most. Damn, it was good. Rye imparts a spicy, earthy flavor that I just love, and this beer was brewed with 2 kinds of malted rye as well as 3 different kinds of hops (Perle, Magnum, and Saphir.) It was also aged in Templeton Rye casks, which added another layer of rye flavor. Dan, who brought this beer (as well as the Fleur and Avery Hogshead Barleywine), also brought a bottle of the Templeton Rye Whiskey, which we sipped alongside the Rye on Rye Ale. We didn't actually detect the flavors of the whiskey in the beer, but I do think there was a subtle addition of sweet spiciness to the grain bill.


OK, after that was a bottle that Jeremy brought: Victory's Dark Intrigue. This is their Storm King Imperial Stout aged in Kentucky bourbon casks. Smooooooooth. Super flavorful and really drinkable. Interesting trying it after the rye casked ale, the subtle differences from the bourbon cask aging was pretty cool. 'Course, the two different styles of beer involved was much less subtle! I enjoyed it greatly.

Next was a clunker and major disappointment: Drie Fonteinen Schaerbeekse Kriek. It must have gone off because the aroma was gawd-awful. The reviews for this beers were stellar, and I was looking forward to trying it. But the aroma was pure cat poop. Seriously, gross. Tasted OK but was almost impossible to get over the smell. Would love to try it again to see if it was possible to enjoy a better bottle. Yikes!

We tried to erase the memory of it with a lovely fruity Raspberry Tart by the New Glarus Brewing Company. Not very beer tasting, but still nice to drink. Very light and delicious.

The last beer we opened before our guests left was Avery Brewing Company's Hog Heaven Barleywine-Style Ale. It was pretty good- a hoppiness that seems to have mellowed some, though it does go down a bit hot.

After everyone left, Tom and I shared a couple more small bottles. Big Swell IPA from Maui Brewing, New Glarus's Unplugged Berliner Weiss, and Maui Brewing's CoCoNut PorTeR. The IPA had a wonderful balanced hoppiness, the Berliner Weiss was crisp and refreshing, and the Porter was a wonderful way to end our evening.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Friday night shenanigans

Enjoyed a lovely evening at The Avenue Pub, as is par for the course on Friday nights with the Beer Advocate gang, including the Beer Buddha. One of the regulars had some visitors from out of town, his daughter and her boyfriend who both work for New Belgium Brewing. Very cool to babble on about beer drunkenly to new people! Who work in the beer business! And don't know me, so they listen!

Anyway, even better, they brought presents. Three beers from their Lips of Faith series: Imperial Berliner Weisse, Belgo IPA, and Sahti Ale. New Belgium is not available in either New England or Louisiana so this was a real treat. I have enjoyed their flagship beer, Fat Tire, while in San Francisco, but it's not something I've had very often.

I love a Berliner Weisse, and this was a nice one. Nice Brett and lactic sour flavors, but I thought it was a nice balanced beer, suitable as a sour beer intro, but flavorful enough for sour beer lovers to enjoy. The Belgo IPA was just lovely. I would have loved to have a bottle to myself to savor. I only had a few sips, but I was glad to have them! The IPA was very hoppy but not that sticky hop bomb style. It was fragrant, floral, and very drinkable. Reading the tasting notes I think that it's the fact that they used a Trappist yeast strain that softened the bitterness and astringency of the hops, leaving and amplifying the floral and citrus notes. NOM NOM NOM.

The third New Belgium that I tried was the Sahti which is described on the website thusly: "Inspired by Finnish Sahti, a traditional rye ale brewed with juniper, our Sahti Ale is a hazy amber ale with a sturdy mouthfeel and a crisp and lively finnish. Brewed with Pale, Crystal, rye malts and whole oats, our version is bittered with Cascade and finished with Cascade and Amarillo hops. Juniper boughs are added to the mash and juniper berries, orange and lemon peel are pitched in the whirlpool creating a festive olfactory of citrus and juniper notes." Sounds awesome, but I couldn't taste any of it- my palate had been more or less blown out by the previous tastings as well as the several full beers I had. Ooh, including a really nice Belgian pale ale, de La Senne Taras Boulba. They also had Turbodog on cask aged in bourbon barrels.

(photo credit: Jeremy Beerbuddha Labadie)

Also around for tasting was Schlafly (out of St. Louis) Tripel and Quadrupel. The Tripel went down a little hot, and wasn't very nuanced. The Quad was pretty nice though. Also floating around was Cigar City Brewing, which I *think* was a Humidor series IPA, quite possibly this one. Oh man, and toward the end a Lagunitas beer was floating around, I think it was the Little Sumpin' Wild. I couldn't tell you how they were, my critical tasting skills had left the building by that time. I was also busy telling the dude from New Belgium that he was a young pup and asking the guy from St. Arnolds brewery if he was the guy from Avery. Oh, and asking for a sip of his beer. So, you know, making friends and influencing people as usual. Drunkenly.

Good times.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

December 5 is special because...

It's the anniversary of the passage of the 21st Amendment, which repealed the Prohibition of alcohol (aka the 18th Amendment)

Happy Repeal Day!


Ken, I got hammered on Friday night and lost your card. Can you email me at

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

St. Arnold beers

I believe that St. Arnold's is a new product in the New Orleans market. We won a mix six pack for our 2nd place showing in the Avenue Pub's pub quiz the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, with 2 bottles of Texas Wheat, 2 bottles of Elissa IPA, and 2 bottles of Brown Ale.

The Texas Wheat pours a bright golden straw color, with an appropriate cloudiness from the wheat. It doesn't taste very wheat-y, though that's fairly typical of American wheat ales, in my experience. It's light in body and the yeast made me think of a German ale, so I was pleased with my palate to read afterward in the tasting notes that the beer was originally a Kristall Weizen and it's brewed with a Kolsch yeast. There's a hop bitterness, but there's not a significant hop flavor profile.

In contrast, the Alyssa IPA is pretty heavy on the hops. I dunno why it's called Alyssa. Wait, to the St. Arnold's tasting notes! (They are super detailed.)

This beer is named after ELISSA, a tall ship now moored in Galveston. Ships like ELISSA were used in transporting IPAs to India.

Saint Arnold Brewing Company donates a portion of the proceeds of this beer to the Galveston Historical District for preservation of this ship.

How educational! Thanks, St. Arnold's Brewing!

I get the citrus Cascade big time in the aroma. It's less noticeable in the taste - there is a nice hop bitterness there, but it doesn't overwhelm your palate. There's a strong malt profile that balances out the hops. Dry finish. Very drinkable.

Brown ale: Well, it's not *brown* for one thing. It's the same color as the IPA. It's um, malty. No real roastiness or sweetness, though. there's a bitterness but not a real hoppiness. High carbonation. I don't know what's up with this beer- maybe it's a bad batch or a bottling accident? Like maybe a different beer than it is labeled? It was given away, after all- there might be a reason.

I don't know that I'd buy any of these beers. The IPA was pretty good, but there are other IPAs that are just as good if not better, in that same balanced IPA style.

I really loved going back to the Saint Arnold website and reading their tasting notes and writeups. These people obviously love beer and are proud of the beers they make, and that makes me happy. I just wish I liked the beer as much as their website.