Friday, January 29, 2010

Southern Star 2nd Anniversary and Pro-Am Competition

A few things to pass along from the recent Southern Star Brewing newsletter:

Their 2nd Anniversary party is Saturday, March 27th from 4pm ~ 8pm at the brewery in Conroe. Admission is $10 in advance or $15 at the door and includes live entertainment, beer and a special anniversary pint glass. The party is limited to 300 people and reservations can be made by calling (936) 441-2739.

Southern Star is also having another Pro-Am competition with the winning recipe being brewed at the brewery and released as a new addition to their Pro-Am line as well as entered in the Pro-AM competition at this year's GABF. The full list of rules and requirements for entering can be found on their website.

Their Buried Hatchet Stout was recently released in a four pack of cans and I have a few in my fridge, but haven't had the chance to try it yet. Hopefully I'll find an opportunity this weekend.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

La Moule Roquefort at the Broken Spoke Cafe

My wife had made plans to have lunch on Saturday with a friend who lives in the Washington Ave area which was the perfect excuse for me to visit the nearby Broken Spoke Cafe after dropping her off. Roy de la Garza, the owner of the Broken Spoken Cafe, stopped by the table to say hi and I took that opportunity to ask him about the various styles of mussels on the menu. I typically just have the traditional style which is steamed and served in a white wine broth, but I wanted to try something new. He explained the different sauces and highly recommended La Moule Roquefort which is mussels with a creamy blue cheese sauce. I am a fan of blue cheese, so I ordered some up with a bowl of the frites and a Chimay White on tap.

The mussels were served on the half-shell on a plate and covered with the cheese sauce which is very different from the traditional style of a big pot of mussels in the whole shells soaking in a broth. The mussels were large and meaty and the blue cheese was not overpowering and still let the flavours of the mussels come through. I used the frites to clean up the extra sauce from the shells and contemplated just licking them clean. The frites are too good to leave any behind, so I slowly snacked on them after the mussels were gone while sipping on a Kwak (served in the funky traditional glass).

The beer selection looks like it may have increased since my last visit and they're a good example of a restaurant that understands the benefits of offering good beer. The beer is all served in the proper glassware and the servers are all knowledgeable about the beers they offer.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

An Agrarian Austin Amber

Just flipping though the pages of this month's issue of DRAFT Magazine and noticed Austin Amber from Independence Brewing in the Beer Reviews section. They gave it a respectable score of 86. I've probably read hundreds of beer reviews over the years and I've never seen the word agrarian used. Someone at Draft Magazine get a thesaurus for Christmas? I'm still not sure if its meant to be good or bad. You can read the full review in the current issue and also online.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Gifts of Beer from South of the Equator

The friend who came over last Sunday to help me drink beer brought me back a few beers from Brazil when he was down there recently for his wedding. Someone taking the time and effort to bring back beer for me while at their own wedding certainly deserves a blog post about it.

The first two are the Golden Ale and Red Ale Especial from Cervejaria Baden Baden, the third one is the Rauchbier from Eisnbahn and the fourth is Medieval from Cervejaria Backer.

Unfortunately, two of the websites indicated above are only available in Portuguese. If you want to know more about these breweries and your Portuguese is only as good as mine (nonexistent), I suggest you buy my friend Cory a pint in exchange for his translation services.

I look forward to trying these beers in the very near future and I thank my friend Cory for hauling them back for me.

Beer and TPB on a Sunny Sunday Afternoon

I invited a friend over on Sunday afternoon to enjoy a few beers and watch the latest Trailer Park Boys movie. And since he appreciates craft beer as well as Canadian comedic mockumentary television, I dug a few things out of my cellar to share:

Great Lakes - Dortmunder Gold (2007)
Issaquah Brewhouse (Rogue) - Menage a Frog
Sam Adams - Hallertau Imperial Pilsner (2007)
Great Lakes - Holy Moses White Ale (2007)
Saint Arnold - Stout (2005)
Saint Arnold - Stout (2006)
Rogue - Smoke Ale
New Belgium - Frambozen (2005)

Since it was a Sunday afternoon, I stuck to a lighter selection. Had it been a Saturday night, I would have dug out the bigger beers.

My friend brought over the Noble Pils which is the latest seasonal offering from Sam Adams. Its a German Pilsner brewed with all five of the Noble Hops. Light and refreshing with a strong hoppy finish. Would be a great beer to release for the summer instead of late fall and early spring.

The Saint Arnold Stout from 2005 had lost most of its carbonation and finished with a soy sauce flavour. Drinkable, but not overly enjoyable. However, the 2006 release still had full carbonation and flavours of dark roasted malts with a hint of chocolate.

The raspberry flavours seemed to have intensified over time in the 2005 Frambozen and the finish has become a little more tart and sour.

I picked up the Smoke Ale while visiting Rogue in Newport, OR last fall. For being called Smoke Ale, the smoke qualities were a little underwhelming and delicate. Although it did have a smokey aroma and flavour to start, that smokiness was wiped out by flavours of sweet tea in the finish. It would have been nice if that smoke flavour carried all the way through in to the finish.

I enjoyed the Menage a Frog from the Issaquah Brewhouse (Rogue) a little more when I had it on tap then in the bottle. Seemed a little sweeter then I remember it being. A big caramel flavour with hints of fruit and spices into a grassy finish.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bashah by BrewDog and Stone Brewing

I've been giving my liver and waistline a break over the past few weeks after consuming a lot of great food, beer and other festive cocktails during the holiday season. However, when I got home from work yesterday, I decided to crack open the bottle of bashah, a collaboration beer from BrewDog and Stone Brewing. Almost pitch black in the glass with a tan foamy head. Very light aroma of roasted malts. Smooth creamy mouthfeel. Flavours of dark chocolate and burnt coffee with light grapefruit and pine notes. Maybe a little fruitiness if I reach for it. A dry and slightly bitter finish but with a little of the pine returning at the very end. I think I noticed some of the flavours though because I was trying to. It's labeled as a "Black Belgian Style Double India Pale Ale" which sounds interesting enough, but I'd probably just identify it as an American stout or porter if someone handed me a glass of it in a pub and I hadn't read the made up style definition. I wouldn't call it a bad beer, but considering that one 12oz bottle is the price of most other sixpacks, its not one that I'll seek out again.

I checked out some reviews for this beer on other blogs and forums after I had written my own and they seemed to be all over the board. Everything from great and complex to sloppy and watery. The expectations on collaborative beers can be high, particularly when you bring two high profile breweries together and living up to that hype will be difficult. Add in the fact that they produced a style of beer that hasn't been done before and its not really a surprise that the reviews are mixed.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

First post of 2010

I've been lacking in my attention to this blog lately. My parents came down from Canada to celebrate the holidays with us, so I haven't had as much free time lately for regular updates. Although, I have been posting messages and photos using Twitter as I worked my way through my stock of holiday beers. However, I received so many beers as gifts this year that the amount of beer in my cellar has actually increased (to my wife's dismay). The bitter cold weather that we're continuing to experience has certainly been great for drinking the various stouts, porters and other strong ales that I've been saving though.