Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I'll have beer for Christmas...

So, I ended up having a lovely, cheery, beery weekend.  Not only did I get the Mikkeller Single Hop series from my dear darling husband:

But I also was the lucky recipient of a special NOLA Brewing Christmas beer intended only for internal/employee distribution!  Tom had ordered me a personalize NOLA Brewing work shirt but since it hadn't come in, Head of Brewing Operations and All Around Awesomest Person Melanie thought that it would be nice for me to have something for me to open, even though the shirt would be late.  WOW!  It was a hoppy ale, reminiscent of Sierra Nevada's Celebration Ale:

Delicious, and such a special way to toast the holiday.

I hope everyone also had a wonderful holiday!  Can't wait for New Years Eve Beer drinking... The Avenue Pub's having a special event on the balcony... more on that soon.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Eve beers

Stayed in for Christmas Eve- Tom doesn't feel great and we certainly have enough beer on hand to keep ourselves happy. I made a particularly delicious spinach lasagna and we cracked open a couple of beers to celebrate the season.

  1. Samuel Smith's Winter Warmer (2011-12 vintage).  I have such a soft spot for the SS Warmer. I still recall a Thanksgiving several years ago when a friend also visiting family in CT stopped by our hotel room with a bottle of seriously vintage SS Winter Warmers.  Not because he collected them or anything, he just wandered into a gas station selling them for cheap 'cause they were old.  He loved the Winter Warmers and scooped up pretty much the rest of the stock. God, they aged great. But I digress!  The Samuel Smith Winter Warmer is on the list of the Anchor Christmas and Sierra Nevada Celebration that I look forward to every holiday season. For a winter beer, it pours out quite light- a dark gold, which is somewhat unusual.  But it's all malty biscuits and warming without going down "hot." Tom says it tastes like Christmas in a glass.  I don't know that I'd put that description on it (I'd reserve that for the Anchor Christmas Ale line) but it is damn delicious and dangerously drinkable.
  2. Trader Joe's Christmas Ale as brewed by Unibroue (2008 vintage.) This beer has taken me all night to drink- at first sip it was OK but somewhat flat in the flavor department. This is one of those beers that NEED to warm up to let the flavors develop. About the same color (maybe a tweak darker) as the Samuel Smith, it is aged and smooth and goddamn wonderful.
Tomorrow- 10-10-10 and 11-11-11 Stone Vertical tasting! And other stuff, one assumes.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Top 10 list of 2011 beers in New Orleans

Inspired by Polly Watts' list posted on the Avenue Pub's Facebook page:

1) Cantillon Iris. A gueuze that has been brewed with hops instead of wheat. Tart, sharp, a subtle hop bitterness on the finish. The sour and atypical bitterness marry well. Very refreshing while retaining the traditional gueuze sour characteristics. Recommended for sour lovers and sour skeptics alike.

2) Cantillon Zwanze 2010. More tart than sour, well balanced, crisp, refreshing, mild tartness and subtle. Like a belgian berlinerweiss. Wheat is turned all the way up. Smooth. Biscuits and lemon juice. Dances over the tongue leaving a trail of tartness behind. (I know it's something that won't be around to have again, but it was just that good.)

3) Mikkeller Drink In The Sun. Best session beer in the country. Wouldn't know it was less than 3%, the taste is much bigger than that.

4) Rogue Brutal Bitter: Balanced but very flavorful, like an amped up ESB. An interesting beer to say the least. It's a cross between the hoppiness of an IPA and the smoothness of an ESB. Apparantly in recent releases it's been renamed "Brutal IPA" which I think is misleading, because as IPAs go, it's not brutal at all. "Brutal Bitter" sums up the style quite nicely, a bitter with some West Coast OOMPH. A delightful discovery!

5) Aphrodisiaque from Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel, an absolutely yummy stout with vanilla, caramel, cocoa, coffee notes all roasty and smokey. Also on Polly's list.

6) Page 24 Biere De Printemps, crazy excellent. It's a beer de garde from Brasserie Saint-Germain.

7) Brooklyn Brewing Sorachi Ace. It's spicy and faintly herbal, with a lemon citrus aroma. Easy drinking and a dry finish. The style is a saison and the spiciness specific to the Belgian yeast works with the spiciness of the Sorachi Ace hops in a truly unique but very satisfying and drinkable way.

8) Jolly Pumpkin's Baudelaire IO Saison. a saison/farmhouse style. It pours a beautiful amber-ruby color and has spicy, floral notes mixed in with a mild bret-style funk. It drinks crisp and clean with a tart, dry finish

9) NOLA Brewing Cascade Crack on cask- The NOLA version of a black and tan is made with NOLA Hopitoulas and NOLA Irish Channel Stout. Additionally, we have dry hopped the Brewer's Crack with fresh Cascade Hop Cones. Thus, we have Cascade Crack.

10) could be one of several: Saint Helene La Grognarde, Sierra Nevada Life & Limb, Stillwater Cellar Door, Moylan's ESB on Nitro, Thierez Extra, Poperings Hommel, Brooklyn Main Engine Start, NOLA Flambeaux Red, etc., etc., etc. I can't make up my mind!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

40 Arpent - New Kid On the Block

So Tom and I had the opportunity to go investigate a brand spanking new brewery that is currently gathering resources and money and investors, etc. So the brewery, 40 Arpent, which right now is a guy named Michael, hosted this free tasting at a bar called The Rusty Nail, which I think is a really great idea. Got me excited about the stuff he's brewing.  He had a lager that was really quite phenomenal and a "Red Beans & Rice" beer that he hopes can be his flagship beer, and with some refining, I think it can be.  (The beer is actually called Keltic Kajun, but due to my irrational annoyance with spelling things unnecessarily with a "K" I will likely always refer to it as Red Beans & Rice beer.) His dunkleweizen and stout are also beers to be reckoned with.

Anyway, an unexpectedly fun and informative evening with unexpectedly delicious beer. Michael was very busy making the rounds but was a great sport in answering all my various questions and I just love watching a brewer describe his or her beer. (The whole face just lights up and then it makes sense to me about why their beer is so good. 'Cause of the love!)

I wrote a lot more about this on my new other blog sandbox I'm playing in, so go over there and check it out.  But come back to me!

Monday, November 28, 2011

New NOLA blog!

BIG NEWS- a few local New Orleans beer bloggers are joining up to create a NOLA beer website at: http://nolabeerguide.wordpress.com/.

You may be asking yourself, why does New Orleans need this blog, given that there are several venues to find out about beer here?  There's a Facebook page for all of Louisiana, the major players tend to post updates on Facebook and Twitter, there are several beer bloggers on the scene, including yours truly and the Beer Buddha (who was the one who actually started up the NOLA Beer Guide and asked me to participate.)

However, the hope is that this website will consolidate ALL of these points of information, so that we can most effectively get the word out to all New Orleans beer lovers. Since there are several of us posting, we don't need to worry about if someone gets slammed at work and can't get the time to update, or if someone's out of town, or whatever.

I will still be posting here- about my personal beer tastings and other beer adventures.

But check this shiz out! We'll be listing bars, breweries, and restaurants; providing info for homebrewers; and updating beer news and events daily (ish.)

Man, now I want a beer.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Venturing back out into the land of beer

Since we are feeling the pinch from unexpected last minute international travel, our going out has been curtailed somewhat. But we did get out to the Avenue Pub for a friend's birthday and I tried two interesting beers while there.

First was the Stillwater Autumnal- a malty, somewhat funky farmhouse ale.  There was a nice spiciness, and I thought I caught a bit of grape/wine taste up front, (looks like it was aged in Burgundy casks, which would explain that) and it had a nice dry finish.  Refreshing, tasty, and nicely challenging.

Second was Brooklyn Brewery's The Companion, which was brewed to celebrate Garrett Oliver's work as editor-in-chief for the Oxford Companion to Beer.  According the the Brooklyn Brewery blog,
Thomas created special new floor malts for The Companion, which is brewed in an old style called “wheat wine”, a wheat-based equivalent to barley wine. The floor malts give this beer a juicy malt character of considerable depth, 55% malted wheat gives it a surprising lightness on the palate, while our house ale yeast lends a gentle fruitiness. The Oxford Companion will impart knowledge, while The Companion imparts conviviality. Maybe you really can have it all?
I liked it.  It was like an imperial hefeweizen, although the alcohol (9+%) is EXTREMELY well hidden.  I was buzzing pretty good after a glass of that. Much lighter than a barley wine and more well rounded in body and flavor than a regular hefe or weisse.  Complex  but not as crazypants as The Concoction.

In other news, I'm happy to report that Tom's homebrew ("black ESB") is really coming along.  It's quite tasty and it keeps getting better as it ages.

Also, welcome to the blog world, fellow lady beer blogger Amy, The Beer Belle.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Happy news!

Got this email from the Avenue Pub (recall, I saw a letter in Offbeat a while back alluding to this).  Hooray!  Mark your calendar...for...

Narke, Nils Oscar, Nynäshamns Ångbryggeri & Oppigarde Beer event.

The Kindness of Strangers Swedish beer event January 21st, 2012

In April of last year I met the owner of a very famous beer bar in Sweden. Stene loves New Orleans and wanted to throw a Mardi Gras party at his bar in Stockholm. Working with Shelton Bros we figured out a way to ship kegs of Abita and NOLA to Sweden. The idea was that they would be filled with Swedish beer and then returned to the Pub. Those kegs are on their way back to us now and we have scheduled the event for Saturday Jan 21st. what I didnt expect was the beers Stene would choose to send us. More than a few have never been in the US before and there is little chance they will return. The Stormskaporter is surely one of the most coveted imperial stouts in the world. It's made in tiny batches and only available in a few places in Sweden. Stene basically gave us one of his allocated kegs. An extraordinary gift.
The Stormskaporter will be the most expensive keg I've ever bought. once the US taxes and registering fees are paid the keg will cost $675 for a 1/4 barrel. That's before our local distributor gets hold of it. Shelton is donating their labor on this so there is no mark up expect for shipping. Because of this generosity we have decided to make at least part of this event charitable. The brewers of Narke lost their son to cancer very recently and we are waiting for their direction on how to donate the funds. We don't have a price yet on the rest of the beers so I haven't set a price or format for the event. We are letting Boucherie have some of the kegs for a Swedish beer dinner. More on that after the first of the year!
Please share this email around to all your beer loving friends. These beers are worth the trip:)
Coffee Stout
http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/nils-oscar-coffee-stout/93585/Kalas ÖL ( Dark lager)
http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/nils-oscar-kalasol/6115/Christmas Beer ( Scottish styled wee heavy 8%)
annual christmas beer , recipe changes each year no reviews yet as it is new.
Hop Yard ( Strong IPA)
http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/narke-slattol/49426/Skvatt Galen (With bog myrtle witch was used before hops was common)
http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/narke-the-new-internationale/31682/Smoked Porter
no review found
Tanngnjost & Tanngrisir ( Smoked Double Bock)
http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/narke-tanngnjost-tanngrisnir/112558/Stormakts Porter Konjaks
Nynäshamns Ångbryggeri
Barley Wine 2009 ( Gold Medal today at World Beer Awards)
Tjockhult Tjinook ( first time on keg outside Oliver Twist & Akkurat)
http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/nynashamns-tjockhult-tjinook/144688/Bedarö Bitter
http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/nynashamns-bedaro-bitter/5952/Sotholmen Extra Stout
http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/3476/19959Mysingen Midvinterbryggd ( Christmas ale in the style of Anchor Christmas)
http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/15122/35154/?sort=low&start=0Sovereign Golden Ale. ( Very easy to drink Britt styled Ale)
 Oppigards TBA

Sad news

The Alchemist, which I've mentioned before in the immediate aftermath of its destruction in the wake of Hurricane Irene, has just announced that they will not be rebuilding its pub- one reason being that their insurance didn't cover any of the brewing equipment they had set up in the basement brewery of their pub.

We have made the very difficult decision not to re-open The Alchemist Pub and Brewery.  While it is extremely difficult to walk away from the business we have spent our last 10 years building, this is the best option for us moving forward.  There were many factors that helped us come to this decision.
Primarily, we have recently learned that none of the contents in our basement were covered by flood insurance.  Unfortunately, our basement was the lifeblood of our business—our brewery, our beer, all of our food and our offices were in the basement.  Moving forward, we have come to the realization that re-building our basement brewery is not a viable option.
This is really heartbreaking news. They still have their production brewery and will be moving their small batch brewing setup over there to send beers to local businesses, it looks like:
Moreover, and probably most important, we will move our 7 barrel brewery to our new production brewery at 35 Crossroad. Once we have installed the brewery, John will be hard at work to supply the community with his creative and tasty small production beers.
 I wish them all the luck in the world.  I hope someday to be tasting their beers down here in New Orleans.

Home again, home again

Well, I had some difficulty continuing with my cask ale blogging because it turns out that 50mb of data goes pretty fast when posting pictures and blog posts and the like, and that's all the data I had available to me over there.  Plus, we got sucked into serious family stuff, which made drinking more like a medical necessity rather than the pleasure that I like to reflect in this blog!

To sum up: we drank awesome cask ale not only in Edinburgh and St. Andrews in Scotland, but also Chippenham and Bath in England as well.  Hooray!  Man, there was one place in Bath called The Hobgoblin, that I *loved*. They had a great variety of real ale, and it was just grungy and divey and awesome.

Note: I was unable to get any other pictures of the interior because it was too dark and dank for my (non-flash having) camera phone to capture.  Just think: dark, dingy, and rough in the BEST WAY POSSIBLE.  See some reviews here and here to get a better feel for the atmosphere.

As I explained to my father in law, I like classy bars too, and we went to someplace that I can't remember the name of, which was pretty great except for the GIANT ARRANGEMENT of the stinkiest flowers ever right by where we were sitting which gave me a headache and also made me super nauseous. I had one of the best-named beers ever, can you guess which one?

The pub we went both days we were in Chippenham was called The Bridge House and is owned by a conglomerate called Wetherspoons, which buys properties like pubs and hotels and the like and fixes them up.  So, that's a little weird, in that it's a chain, but they are pretty committed to real ale, so I'm down with that.  Nice selection of casks (apologies for blurriness):

One funny thing- it's like beer is divided into two categories over in the UK: real/cask ale that is served at cellar temps, and the other beers that are all labeled as "cold," "extra cold" "ice cold" and whatever.  Even the Guinness! Weird.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Day one in St. Andrews

After our swift pint at the Whey Pat, we checked in to our hotel and chilled for a bit, watching crazy British tv and/or napping.

When we got up, we headed to the Central Bar for a pre-dinner pint or two. I haf something called Hop Scotch and.Tom had a Harvistoun's Bitter & Twisted. I liked his B&T so much that I got one myself the next round while Tom had a Fuller's London Pride.

After dinner, we stopped back at the Central for a half pint before turning in. I had been looking forward to having a Theakson's Old Peculiar for a post dinner, pre-bed treat, but it was not how I remembered it. It was much thinner and weaker and less flavorful than the dark, roasty, chewy, dark beer I had in my memory so I swapped with Tom 's Peter's Well (previously still conditioning but became available while we were at dinner)  and enjoyed that quite a bit.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Whey Pat

The pub in St. Andrews I love with an unholy fervor is the Whey Pat. It's the closest pub to where Tom's mum lived and they have 7 cask engines, 6 currently pouring. I have a pint of Abbot Ale and Tom has a pint of Landlord.

UNHOLY LOVE. I will likely be posting from here a lot over the next few days. I'll create a Whey Pat tag even!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Edinburgh beers- illustrated!

We arrived super early on sunday morning. Took forever to get a beer-most places didn"t serve till 12:30!

Cask ale!!!

After dinner,  we went to Brewdog, a self-proclaimed "punk" brewery based in Scotland. Definitely an incredibly different beer bar vibe than the typical pub. I had a pint of the "5 am Saint" a nicely balanced dryhopped amber ale, and Tom had their flagship Punk IPA.

Apologies if the pictures are weirdly laid out, I'm doing this with the Android Blogger app on my phone.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Keg & Barrel's Outlaw Homebrew Competition

Literally, in Mississippi, it is illegal to: 1) homebrew and 2) sell or serve beer with a ABW of over 5%.  So for the second year, the homebrew competition held at the Keg & Barrel in Hattiesburg is technically illegal and all organizers, brewers, judges, and attendees are outlaws IN THE EYES OF THE MISSISSIPPI LAW!

Spoiler alert: we did not get arrested.  Much to the dismay of the Beer Buddha.  Maybe next year, Jeremy!

We did, however, have an awesome time.

David Graves and his Brew Cart! (check him out at thebrewcart.com)

Brewers' Village!

Tom and I drove up on Saturday morning and got to the Keg & Barrel at around 10am, per John Neal's request.  We kicked back with Jeremy and met some of the folks from Lazy Magnolia Brewery and Raise Your Pints, a grassroots non-profit lobbying group to overturn the drastic and archaic beer laws in the state. After some wandering around and meeting folks, the awesome judging RV of judginess arrived and we judges were permitted to go on board and chillax until it was time to do our round of tasting (I was assigned to IPAs and stouts, which were at the end of the judging schedule).

Waiting for the Judging RV to arrive and the beer judging to begin subsequently

Outside the Judging RV

Inside the RV!

Jeremy "BeerBuddha" Labadie
We weren't really supposed to go out to the brewers' area until after our judging was over, so I wandered and got a pint inside the Keg & Barrel (Anchor Liberty Ale) and got a pulled pork sandwich with which to fortify myself for the upcoming judging. Both were delicious.

So, the judging was taking longer than originally anticipated, and although we really tried to rush through my category of 19 different IPAs, the organizers took me off stouts so a different group could judge them simultaneously to the end of the IPA tasting.

Blurry IPAs.  SO MANY.

The Tasting and Judgement (tm Original Version Iron Chef) was an awful lot of fun.  I was tasting with Jeremy "BeerBuddha" Labadie as well as David "Soup" Campbell (who is on the board of Raise Your Pints) and it was just great, great, terrific fun.  I learned so much and I even think that I contributed in a positive way! The first one I sampled, I was so scared that I didn't know what I was doing. I got more confident as we moved forward though, and I think the three of us got really good at parsing flavor characteristics. All in all, I would say that we tasted about 5 decent IPAs out of the 19 submitted.

So after the IPAs were finally finished with, the stouts finished up around the same time, and the organizers REALLY wanted to get this done ASAP.  So we all tasted beers in the "miscellaneous" category, even Tom, heh. I tasted one beer that was honestly one of the best IPAs I'd had all day.  I was confused why it wasn't in the IPA category, but I rated it quite high and moved along till we had no more miscellaneous beers left.  Later, I was sitting with a fellow judge, beer journalist Dan Murphy of Mobile Alabama, and his wife and brother.  Dan's brother (Sean) mentioned they'd decided to enter his Cascadian Black IPA in the miscellaneous category, and I immediately realized that it was the beer that I loved so much even in the craziness of the end of the judging!  I babbled about how much I loved it, and Sean said that meant more to him than winning.  Not that he actually had to take that consolation, because he totally won the Miscellaneous beer category.

Once judging was over, things started to get a little fuzzy.  I horned in on a TV interview that Jeremy was doing (I doubt I'll be in the final cut of that, since I didn't have a mike on, HA), I had several illicit beers from sources that will remain unnamed (because I can't remember, not because I am withholding their identities from some sense of loyalty against an unjust system type of thing.)  I wished I had business cards.  I enjoyed breaking into the boy's club of beer brewing, business, writing, and tasting.  I think the boy's club could use more of us beer drinking ladies, to be honest. Several of my fellow judges (seriously, stop me if I go too far and start using terms like "brethren") had really great kickass beer drinking wives/partners, and I wondered what it was that separates beer enthusiast from beer expert.  And I wondered if it was gender, to some extent.  I am certainly not making any calls of sexism- everyone there couldn't have been nicer to me and I never felt looked down on or treated differently - but it's just something that was hard (for me) not to think about, being the only hen in the rooster-house.

Vague larger gender issues thinkings aside - I had an awesome time.  And the vague thinkings didn't actually detract from my good time, they were interesting and enjoyable because I like thinking about stuff like that.  While drinking.  It's when I do my best work!  Oh, wait.

In conclusion: I was honored and thrilled to be around people who love beer and are passionate about beer and brewing. The fact that beer lovers and home brewers in Mississippi have so many legal hurdles to overcome has created a very enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and impassioned group here that are working hard to make a change and forging deep bonds in the community doing so.  The fact that they welcomed a lady beer blogger that isn't from around these parts with such warmth and friendliness speaks to the enduring camaraderie of the beer culture in the South, especially in Mississippi on that gorgeous October Saturday where we were all breaking the law for the love of beer.