Saturday, July 30, 2011

shout outs for awesomeness

Had a couple super awesome beers, as usual, last night at the Avenue Pub.

Cask Ale was Brooklyn Brewing Pennant Ale, which is one of my favorite Brooklyn beers (not available widely here, sadly) and it is just EXCELLENT on cask.

Also amazing: Mikkeller Drink in the Sun, a hoppy kolsch at only 2.3% ABV. It is SO good and SO drinkable and simply one of the best session beers I have ever had on this side of the Atlantic. We loved it.

We managed to sneak in a couple from the Lowlands as well: Draeckenier from De Proefbrouwerij in Belgium,a smooth drinking tripel with a lovely complexity and subtlety. Also a Christoffel Bier, a German style pilsener from a Dutch brewery called Bierbrouwerij Sint Christoffel B.V. Really nice.

Good work, Polly & Co!

Big Beer Doings A-Transpiring in Louisiana

Thanks to the tireless work of the beer leaders in the Greater New Orleans area, there are some excellent beers coming to market here in the coming weeks and months!

On August 17, Ommegang Brewing is debuting at the Avenue Pub. This is a beer I've had access to up in New England, and I'll be happy to see it again in bars and stores. The rollout event will be taking place at the Avenue Pub and promises "a lot of great beers including just one keg of their special release Aphrodite and one sneak peak keg of a new brew from Duvel."

News just broke on a few more newcomers to the market: Stillwater Artisanal Ales, a "gypsy" brewer based in the Baltimore area. Their website is a Blogger blog format (like this one) so it's a little awkward to navigate, but the beers look awesome and seem well reviewed on BA. They definitely seem like they have an exciting approach to brewing so I will cut them some slack on how they message, heh. Also "gypsy brewer" is a less nauseating term than "gastro-pub," so we're cool.

Also coming to market: Gueuzerie Tilquin, a new Gueuze blendery that opened in Belgium just in June, and will be coming to New Orleans in September. It's called a blendery because that's how Gueuzes roll- blending young lambics with older ones. The flavor profiles are usually on the sour and funky side of the spectrum. This place is too new for me to have even heard of it before yesterday, so I'm very intrigued!

The other new player coming on the scene is an importer called 12 Percent that's going to be distributed through Southern Eagle. Looking at their brewery page, it looks like a lot of great small Belgian and Dutch breweries... and Stillwater Artisanal, which makes sense. I see that their blog page hasn't been updated for over a year, so I don't know how up to date the breweries listed are, but I assume any changes would be for the better (i.e., more signing on in the past year.)

I also heard an unconfirmed rumor that New Belgium is coming to Louisiana in the 4th quarter of 2012.

OK, that's all the news I have for now... go out and drink good beer!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Bell's Two Hearted Ale and Terrapin Rye Pale Ale

So we cracked open a few of the beers we brought home from Pensacola. I had the (justifiably) well reviewed Bell's Brewing Two Hearted Ale, a complex but easy drinking IPA. Tom tried the Southern Tier Phin & Matt's Extraordinary Ale.

I only had a sip of the Phin & Matt's, but its schtick is that it's brewed with three different hops and three different malts.

The Bell's was awesome. Wonderful hop aroma and flavor- full of citrus and pine and pineapple. Balanced and drinkable and delicious. This bottle was dated June 30, 2011, so it was super fresh and tasty.

Tried the Terrapin Rye Pale Ale. It initially suffered a little being drunk after the Two Hearted, but it is an excellent rye malt beer.

The hops serve to support the spiciness of the rye, and allow the malt flavor to shine, without the characteristic significant malty sweetness. Very enjoyable.

Glad we have six packs of these both- my inclination is to hoard them, but of course these beers won't stay fresh and delicious indefinitely. Regular ABV pale ales and IPAs don't age well. So we'll be drinking these over the next week or so... envy us!

Vacation beer!

So, we went on vacation to Florida's Forgotten Coast (Port St. Joe and Cape San Blas area) and were able to drink new and exciting brews from Yuengling, Sweetwater (420, IPA, and Blue), Blue Point (Toasted Lager), Cigar City (Porter), and Pensacola Bay (Brown, Amber, and the Deluna XPA). We wanted to check out the Pensacola Bay Brewery but it was downpouring in an epic fashion on both the way to Port St. Joe and the way home.

I liked the Sweetwater 420, it was an easy drinking and tasty beer for hot summer days (or the recovery from them.) We had a couple bottles of the Sweetwater IPA at the Indian Pass Raw Bar, which was good, but not the crazy hop bomb that the bottle boasted.

Other places we found good beer to drink: The Thirsty Goat, Joe Mama's Pizza, Provisions, (all in Port St. Joe) and the Fish House in Pensacola.

But the beer motherlode was when we came back through Pensacola and, upon the Beer Buddha's recommendation, we stopped at Four Winds International Fine Food for a quick lunch (delicious sandwiches) and to peruse their ample beer selection.

We ended up buying a LOT of beer:

These large and single bottles (and one can!) are: Dogfish Head My Antonia imperial pils, Erie Brewing Heritage Ale and Misery Bay IPA, Victory Wild Devil (Hop Devil with Brett), Oskar Blues' Mama's Little Yella Pils, The Bruery's Rubrod, Harpoon's Pott's Landbier, Brasserie des Geants' Saison Voisin, Great Divide Grand Cru, Harvestoun Old Engine Oil, and Terrapin's Rye Squared.

And on to our sixpacks:

Terrapin Rye Pale Ale, Palm (a Belgian amber), Southern Tier Phin & Matt's, Bell's Two Hearted Ale, and an organic ESB from a brewery in Milwaukee, Lakefront Brewery.

We also had a couple cold singles that went in the fridge: Sparkling Ale by Cooper's Brewing in Australia, Bell's Porter and Java Stout, and a Lagunitas Pale Ale.

It was a hell of a shopping spree, I tell you what. The folks behind us in line were slightly taken aback, and asked if we were having a tasting party. NO LADY, ALL FOR US!!!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Mikkeller Koppi Coffee IPA and Zwanze Day!

Bought this at Cork & Barrel a couple months ago, I think during American Craft Beer Week. Finally cracked it open tonight after a few cask ales at the Avenue Pub, while listening to TMBG's Flood.

I was very unsure what to expect with a coffee IPA. Not really the style you expect to go with a coffee infusion, and I was intrigued. It was a tasty and interesting IPA. Poured a pale orange with a nice head- a few fingers' worth.

I did not get any coffee flavor really, though. The finish had that tannic, acidic coffee aftertaste, but no actual coffee flavor. Odd. But I don't want to complain, because the Tomahawk hops gave the beer an excellent piney, citrus, pineapple aroma and bitterness. The specific bitterness of these hops added to the coffee-esque overall impression of the taste.

It was good, but I don't know if I'd ever attribute coffee to it as a flavor or overtone. I mean, read the above- I'm REALLY stretching to give it any coffee relevance. Like really a lot.

In other, most excellent news, the Avenue Pub has been chosen to be one of the TEN beer bars in the NATION to pour Cantillon's Zwanze 2011 on September 17 aka ZWANZE DAY. From the press release:

In 2010 we tried something new by blending lambic with Pineau d'Aunis. The result was quite surprising and wine-like with specific accents of fruit, pepper and other spices, both as regards smell and taste. With Olivier's approval, and despite a substandard harvest due to poor weather conditions, we recreated the same beer for Zwanze 2011. I subjected it to some very limited cold hopping using Bramling Cross hops, which yields a slightly bitter fruitiness. My friend Rob Todd of the Allagash Brewing Company calls it the «kiss of the hops», and I've decided to use this fantastic expression. The balance struck between the lambic, the grapes and the delicate bitter fruitiness is surprising yet very pleasant.

So to recap, there will not be any bottles of Zwanze put on sale so as to avoid any overpricing. On top of this, contrary to what was done with the Zwanze in previous years (with 80% of the production going into bottles), 2/3 of the Zwanze production for 2011 has been put into barrels. The goal here is to try to make certain that Cantillon enthusiasts everywhere will have a chance to taste the beer while short-circuiting those whose just want to make a fast buck.

In order to create an ephemeral event for this ephemeral beer, I decided to have all these barrels opened and enjoyed on the same day, when possible at the same time, by our friends throughout the world in places like Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, the United States, Japan, Canada, France and Belgium.

Hooray, Avenue Pub! Hooray Zwanze Day!

Also available at the Avenue Pub on Zwanze Day:

Cantillon Classic Gueuze
Refreshingly tart with medium oak notes. Don't get too excited...its only one keg.

Zwanze 2010 in bottles
The 2010 vintage mixed fermentation witbier without spices or fruits. We received a limited supply of these and will be bottle pouring them the day of the event. Bottles will not be sold for take away and will not be available after the event on Sept 17th.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

This right here people...

This right here, people, is a sign of no respect being accorded to ladies who love beer.


I was gonna quote some of the more egregiously horrible choice bits of the home page and from their "Story" but re-reading this made my eyeballs roll right out of my head and my brain to ooze out my ears.

I can't even get into how superficial, sexist, sterotypical, and insulting to the many women who brew and love beer because my blood pressure is already too high.

In conclusion, I hate everything.

Good day sir!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

New Summer-esque beers for the Dranking

So, summer in New Orleans. It's damn hot and you need a good summer beer (or variety thereof) to get you through it. Last night I tried some interesting summer-appropriate beers (at the Avenue Pub, 'course.)

First up: NOLA's Hurricane Saison dryhopped with Grains of Paradise. An interesting cask ale. I really like this year's batch of their Saison, which is excellent for the weather already, and the grains of paradise added a earthy spiciness to balance the belgian yeast flavors.

Next up: I was intrigued by the new Brooklyn Brewing "The Concoction" which I guess is based on a cocktail called the Penicillin from some schmancy cocktail bar up in NYC. It's a scotch based cocktail, and the beer interpretation is straight up BANANAS. There aren't actually bananas or banana flavor or aroma in this beer, but that's probably the only thing missing from the ingredient list. It's brewed with a peat smoked malt, which gives it a very smoky finish, and has a bunch of hops in it (Willamette, Cascades, Fuggles, Kent Goldings, Simcoe, Citra, Sorachi Ace, Amarillo) which gives an interesting floral/citrus hop aroma and bitterness in the flavor. Also included is lemon peel, lemon juice, ginger, and honey. So it's all herbed up, hopped up, and locked and loaded with peat malt. I had two glasses of this stuff and I still don't know what the hell to make of it. I advise not getting a pint though- that was a LOT of Concoction. Definitely worth trying, because it's really unlike anything I've ever tasted. I don't even know if I like it, but I'm kind of obsessed about it right now.

OK, the next beer I tried was Éphémère Cassis, Unibroue's cassis/black currant flavored beer. Pretty tasty, very light bodied and dry. There was a nice currant essence to the beer, but it wasn't sweet or syrupy in any way. Really quite refreshing on a hot day.

The last beer I tried (before finishing with a second Concoction) was the Petrus Aged Pale - this is one of the beers blended to make the Petrus Oude Bruin. A sour, and not for the faint-hearted. The appearance was slightly off-putting- the color and total lack of head made it look like a cider. And when I took a sip, there was a lot of tart green apple flavor, fruity, but very tart and sour, with a hint of funkiness and the barrels it had been aged in. Definitely scratched that sour itch.

Interestingly, The Avenue is pouring a lot of beers that have optimal serving temps about 10 degrees higher than their current cooler provides, and also what the market wants. It's tricky bidness. Right now they are strongly advising letting the customer to let the beer warm in the glass after serving. It is true that in general, as a beer warms, the flavors open up and change the whole taste, aroma, and mouthfeel of a well crafted beer. Just something to keep in mind.