Monday, December 28, 2009

A Very Beery Christmas

My wife's family has a white elephant gift exchange at Christmas and I managed to steal a bag of mixed craft beer from her grandfather (who doesn't drink anyway) and defend it from being stolen from me (fortunately, not too many of them like to drink craft beer). Later on, I was also given a box of mixed beer from my in-laws as a Christmas gift. I ended up receiving 24 bottles (almost all bombers) of various great craft beer for Christmas. It even included a couple that I hadn't tried yet such as the Blue Moon Grand Cru and the Hopus Ale. I lined up all the bottles on a work bench in the garage and took a quick photo before I started in on them:

I received all these after my brother-in-law and I drank the magnum of Anchor Christmas Ale, Rogue Santa's Private Reserve (2008), St. Bernardus Christmas Ale and a bottle of my own homebrewed Holiday Cheer from last year. The entire day was finished off by enjoying a bottle of Stone Russion Imperial Stout while sitting in the hot tub outside. Here's a few more Christmas beer photos :

Overall, it was probably one of the "beeriest" Christmases ever.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Jester King Releases Sketches of New Brewery

Jester King Brewery has completed the blueprints of the brewery and released sketches on their website of what it will look like.

It looks like a pretty ambitious build-out for a startup brewery, but I wish them lots of luck in the new year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Preparing my Holiday Beers

I'm still basking in the luxury of having a dedicated beer fridge in the garage. Today I dug around for all the holiday beers that I have in my vast beer cellar and moved the ones I'm ready to drink into the beer fridge. Here's a partial list of what I'm preparing to enjoy this holiday season:

Affligem - Noel (2007)
Anchor - Christmas (2009 Magnum)
Boulevard Brewing - Nut Cracker (2009)
Brasserie Dubuisson - Scaldis Noel (2008)
Brouwerij Lefebvre - Hopus Ale (2009)
Bridgeport Brewing - Ebenezer (2008)
De Koninck - Winter Koninck (2008)
Huyghe Brewery - Delirium Noel (2007)
Mikkeller - Santa's Little Helper (2009)
New Belgium - Frambrozen (2005/2008/2009)
Pike Brewing - Auld Acquaintance (2009)
Ridgeway Brewing - Santa's Butt (2007)
Ridgeway Brewing - Warm Welcome (2007)
Rogue - Santa's Private Reserve (2008)
Sam Adam's - Old Fezziwig (2008)

Samuel Smith - Winter Welcome (2009)
St. Bernardus - Christmas (2009)
Young's - Winter Warmer (2007)

There's a few other seasonals and other random beers also in there like Fade to Black, Howl, 2 Below and regular beers from Independence Brewing. I tried to limit my purchase of new holiday beers this year and I also didn't brew a holiday ale for the first time in many years (mainly because our kitchen was torn up). I figured I'd use this holiday season to drink up my stock of brewed beers and other cellared beer (some of which probably shouldn't have been kept this long as it is).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tasty Touring Cheese and Beer Pairing

Join Tasty Touring at Independence Brewing in Austin for a special cheese tour and beer tasting this Saturday from 1pm ~ 3pm. Four different cheese and beer pairings will be presented and discussed and served with slices of Bona Dea Bread

Cheeses will be provided by Kendall and John Antonelli, owners of Antonelli’s Cheese Shop, located on Duval St in Hyde Park (opening in late January 2010). Antonelli’s will be Austin’s first mom and pop cheese shop dedicated to showcasing great American Artisanal cheeses, pairings, and charcuterie alongside Europe’s classics.

Tickets are $17 and must be purchased by tomorrow. Order online here.

Monday, December 14, 2009


One of my favourite beers from New Belgium is their Frambozen, a brown ale brewed with fresh raspberries. Released in the fall, the amount brewed is often determined by how well the raspberry crop did this season. There was a bad crop a few years ago and Frambozen was hard to come by that fall.

Pours a deep garnet colour as the smell of sweet raspberries and yeast fills the air. The head disappears quickly though, taking away some of those wonderful aromas. The fruit definitely comes through in the flavour, but is kept from being overwhelming. A little sweet up front, but finishes dry with some tartness. Makes a wonderful dessert beer, but I enjoy it anytime. Speaking of which, you need to pick this one up soon as it typically disappears from the shelf rather quickly.

Houston Beerknurd Christmas Party

The Flying Saucer in Houston is having their annual Beerknurd Christmas party on Monday, Dec 21st from 7pm ~ 10pm. Wear the ugliest Christmas sweater you've got and you could win a magnum of 2009 Anchor Christmas Ale. The party is free for Beerknurds and includes a buffet. Bring in a canned good and get a free pint.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Enjoying Winter Seasonals in Winter Conditions

Houston was hit with a snow storm last Friday which was the earliest its ever snowed here. After growing up in far northern Canada, I'm certainly no stranger to snow, but even I was caught up in the novelty of watching big fluffy flakes cover my yard. It was also the first time our office was ever closed early due to snow. I took advantage of the early afternoon dismissal by enjoying a few winter seasonal brews in actual winter season conditions. This is the way these beers are meant to be enjoyed.

Inaugural Issue of Beer Connoisseur Magazine

I already subscribe to multiple beer magazines (All About Beer, Brew Your Own, Zymurgy and Southwest Brewing News), so yet another was not necessarily a welcome addition to the coffee table (at least, not by my wife). I was also a little leery about a new beer magazine after being disappointed by Beer Advocate when it was released a few years ago. I received the inaugural issue of Beer Connoisseur and although I've only had time to give it a quick thumb through, I like it so far. Its big (11 7/8 x 9 1/8), glossy and didn't resort to using scantily clad women or sports figures. It starts with an article about Fritz Maytag (almost a requirement when starting a new website, magazine or book dealing with craft brewing in the U.S.) and then moves on to other features on beer touring in Belgium, food & travel, beer reviews and other news and events. Its only published quarterly, but the website is updated more frequently with information and new articles which subscribers to the magazine have full access to. Time will tell if they are able differentiate themselves from the other monthly beer magazines already on the market and gain enough subscribers.

For anyone living in Atlanta, GA, Beer Connoisseur is having a launch party tomorrow at the west side location of 5 Seasons Brewing.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Holiday Beer Tasting at Ginger Man

The Ginger Man in Houston will be hosting a tasting of various Christmas Beers on Saturday, December 19th starting at 5pm. Cost is $35 per person and includes food pairings. Contact the Ginger Man for reservations.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Disappointed by the Grim Reaper

I never heard of Reaper Ale until I ran across a couple of their beers on the shelf at my local Spec's. I checked their website and they have the whole fun death theme running across all their beers and marketing in general. Seems like something that would get kind of old fast, but every brewery needs something that makes them unique and stand out, particularly in California. I guess it works, I noticed them.

As the nights get longer and the weather turns cooler, my preferences turn to darker and stronger beers and this one looked and sounded pretty dark. Their website describes Mortality Stout as a full-flavored complex brew, but I didn't find it all the flavourful or complex. Poured black as night in the glass with a creamy tan head that dissipated quickly. Mouthfeel was way too thin and almost watery. Aroma was very subdued with very light flavours of roasted malts, coffee and bitter chocolate. Finish was almost a little tart. With that name and label, I guess I was expecting something strong, heavy and menacing. Definitely disappointed.

Beer Wars Beer Dinner and No Label Brewing

The Alamo Drafthouse location in Katy is having a special encore presentation of Beer Wars which includes a multi-course meal paired with beer from breweries featured in the film. Tickets are $45 each and it begins at 7:30pm. The menu includes:

Deconstructed BLT. White corn meal toast with sunflower greens and prosciutto ~ New Belgium 2 Below

Pommes Frittes. Hand cut waffle fries seasoned with truffle salt and sage butter ~ Dogfish Indian Brown Ale

Veal Foreshank Pot Pie. Slow cooked bone in veal shank surrounded by fall vegetables in a puff pastry crust ~ Stone Smoked Porter

Winter Berries Sabayon. Winter berries with ginger bread and hazelnut sabayon ~ Sam Adams Blackberry Witbier

And, following the screening of the movie, the founders of No Label Brewing, a new microbrewery opening in Katy, will be guest speakers. No Label Brewery recently acquired space for their brewery in the old rice lofts in Katy and are in the process of renovating.

*** UPDATE ***

Apparently the Beer Wars Dinner and No Label Brewing Q&A has been canceled.