Thursday, February 25, 2010

Zymurgy's Best Beer Survey

Zymurgy magazine, the journal of the American Homebrewers Association, is having it's annual Best Commercial Beers in America Survey. Import beers are also eligible, but they must be available for purchase in the United States market. To vote for your favourite beers as Best in America, send an email message to by March 12th with a list of up to 20 of beers and include your full name and location. The results of the survey will be in the July/August issue and clone recipes for some of the top beers will be included.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Skagunitas Beer Tasting at the Flying Saucer

Tickets are now on sale for the Skagunitas (Ska Brewing and Lagunitas Brewing) Beer Tasting at the Flying Saucer on March 4th. $40 per person or $35 for UFO Club members. From a @FlyingSaucerHou post on Twitter:

You get to taste 6 beers & our food pairings to go along with them. A representative from both breweries will be here to host and speak about the beer and the food. Also, you'll leave with a complementary glass!

The price is reasonable enough, depending on the food being served and the beer being sampled I guess.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Captured a Bigfoot

After finishing off a couple of 400lb Monkeys, I felt ready to take on a Bigfoot. I've always been a big fan of Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot and the 2010 release finally became available at my local Spec's. With an ABV of 9.6% and IBU of 90, this is not a casual drinking beer. Pours a dark amber colour with a thin head. Aromas of sweet malts and pine. Mild hop flavours and sweet malts to start but huge pine flavours quickly dominate with a little grapefruit as well. The alcohol is definitely noticeable with an expected slight warming affect. Medium carbonation with a sticky mouthfeel. A long lingering bitter finish. With a little age on it, the harsh hop and alcohol characteristics usually settle down and mellow out.

This is one of the beers that I continue to cellar year after year and I currently have '05, '06, '07, '09 and now '10. For some very odd reason, I don't find any '08 in my cellar at all. I have no idea how that happened and I find it quite annoying to be missing a year. I hope to have my usual vertical tasting soon and see how these bold flavours have settled. I only have one bottle of the '05 left, so it will be the last of that year.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A 400lb Monkey In The Room

While doing a little research about this beer, I found out that Left Hand gave it the name 400 lb Monkey as a sort of "tribute" to a comment made by their VP of Brewing Operations in an interview. During the height of the proliferation of IPA's a few years ago, he was asked why Left Hand was not brewing one and he responded with "any monkey can throw 400 pounds of hops into a kettle and call it an IPA". I guess he wasn't a big fan of all the IPA's that had flooded onto the market at the time. When Left Hand did finally decide to produce an IPA, they chose to brew an English style which is more malty and less bold then a typical American style IPA. In fact, some may actually be disappointed with it if they think the name makes any implications regarding its flavour.

Dark golden colour with a white frothy head. Very light aromas of malt and floral hops. Biscuity and toasty malt flavours up front with a smooth moderate bitter finish but with no lingering harshness. I think it would make a great session beer if it was somewhere around 5% ABV instead of the 6.7% that it is.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Petrol Station to Host BrewDog in March

According to a recent post on the Petrol Station's Facebook page, James Watt from BrewDog will be there on March 17th and both Tactical Nuclear Penguin (32% ABV) and Sink The Bismarck (41% ABV and currently world's strongest beer) will be available.

As ridiculous as I think it is to produce beers with that high of an ABV, the beer geek in me can't help but want to know how they taste.

*** UPDATE 03/15/10 ***

Update from the Petrol Station Facebook page:

We will have hardcore ipa on tap, isle of arran paradox on cask, tokyo in bottles plus free samples of sink the bismarck, tactical nuclear penguin and nanny state

New Beerknurd Booty

The Flying Saucer has recently enhanced the benefits of their U.F.O. Club, particularly for those who have earned multiple plates:

50 Beers: A free pint.
100 Beers: A free Biggie Beer.
150 Beers: Choice of a Saucer Cap, T-shirt, or Frisbee.
200 Beers: Plate #1 - Your name on a plate in the Ring of Honor plus a $100 Toast for you and your friends.
400 Beers: Plate #2 - $100 Toast.
600 Beers: Plate #3 - "3PEAT" T-shirt plus $100 Toast.
800 Beers: Plate #4 - $125 Toast.
1000 Beers: Plate #5 - Saucer M.O.U. Card, "5iver" T-shirt plus $125 Toast.
1200 Beers: Plate #6 - $150 Toast.
1400 Beers: Plate #7 - $150 Toast.
1600 Beers: Plate #8 - Custom Flying Saucer Stein plus $150 Toast.
1800 Beers: Plate #9 - $175 Toast.
2000 Beers: Plate #10 - Airfare & Tickets for 2 to the Great American Beer Festival.

Presumably the Flying Saucer foots the bill for a new liver after earning the 11th plate.

See the fine print on the website for rules and limitations for those who have already earned multiple plates as you may receive these new benefits retroactively.

Since I'm still slowly working my way through my first 200 beers (only at 36), I don't really see earning more then one plate in this lifetime.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

AHA Rally at Saint Arnold

Saint Arnold Brewing is hosting an American Homebrewers Association rally on Sunday, February 28th from 1pm ~ 3pm. Entrance to the event includes beer samples, hot dogs, brewery tour and a chance to win prices from the AHA and Saint Arnold.

Entrance is free for current AHA members and non-members can gain entrance by joining for a discounted rate at the door. Space is limited and you are asked to RSVP online if you plan to attend.

To learn more about the American Homebrewers Association and what a membership can do for you, see the Membership Benefits on their website.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

BrewDog Sink The Bismarck

BrewDog have fired the next shot in their ongoing battle with Schorschbräu for the title of Strongest Beer on Earth with the release of Sink the Bismarck, a quadruple IPA that contains four times the hops, four times the bitterness and frozen four times to create at a staggering 41% ABV. You can read more about the beer on their blog. Whether you like their beer and their brewing philosophy or not, they do make pretty funny videos.

However, this ongoing one-upmanship for strongest beer seems pretty pointless. Utopia from Sam Adams was a cool novelty when it was released in 2002, but now this is just getting boring. It obviously gets the two year old brewery more publicity, but really doesn't entice me to drink more of their beer. I have tried a couple of their beers that are available down here and wasn't very impressed... with the beer or the high price.

They've apparently been getting a little beaten up about it and you can read their response here on a BeerAdvocate forum.

*** UPDATE 02/19/010 ***

Apparently the war rages on... Schorschbräu has announced it will release a 45% ABV beer very soon. You can read an English translation of a German article on The Bitten Bullet blog about Schorschbräu's reaction to Sink the Bismarck and their announcment to beat it.

"I wish there to be fair competition," said Tscheuschner. He himself would soon bring out a beer with 45% by volume of alcohol.

Perhaps they can bring an end to this by brewing a collaborative 50% ABV beer and just call the whole thing done.

CraftBeer from the Brewers Association

A new website called has just been launched by the Brewers Association as method for providing more information about the craft beer industry to consumers. The site features beer & food pairing and recipe information, history and stories, style information, news and events, and more.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Red Lion Pub

Its been years since I've visited the Red Lion Pub, but I was reminded about the place when it was featured recently on an episode of Diners, Drive-ins & Dives on the Food Network (watch the segment here).

My wife and I went for lunch on Saturday and arrived around 1:00pm. We were told there was a wait for a table, so we grabbed a seat at the bar. I swear the tap selection hasn't changed since I was there last. I remember the selection because it was the first place that I ever tried a Bridgeport IPA and I saw that it was still on tap. I had the Bridgeport while my wife had a coffee with Baileys. The pub was filled with an obvious combination of first-timers who came here after seeing the episode of DDD and longtime regulars who eyed the newcomers with suspicion. We briefly contemplated just eating at the bar, but were seated at a table in the far corner after only 10 minutes.

We surveyed the menu, but we had already decided on the Chicken Tandoori Quesadillas after watching the chef make them on the show. I also ordered the Fish & Chips which seemed to be the quintessential thing to have in a British pub. The quesadillas are made with chicken baked with Tandoori spices and then shredded and served with mozzarella, pickled onions and peppers between two soft layers of naan. The whole thing is then dusted with Parmesan cheese and cilantro. It was good, but not as flavourful as we had been expecting. The chicken could have been more spicy and I would have liked a little more cheese in it. We were basically underwhelmed by what looked like an exiting and original dish. The fish on the other hand was fantastic. Two big fillets with a light puffy batter with fries and green peas. The fish was flaky and moist but not oily and the batter was thin and not greasy. Definitely one of the better fish and chips that I've had in Houston.

We both noticed that the prices for food and drinks were high. All of the draft beers were $7 a pint and despite what the beer menu indicates, my beer was not a True 20oz Imperial Pint. The fish and chips were $16 and the quesadillas $15. Like I said, I haven't been there for years, so I don't know if the prices have always been that high or if that's a recent change after being featured on a national TV show. I might stop by if I happen to be driving by, but their limited selection of craft beer and the higher then average prices doesn't give me a reason to make an effort to get back over there again.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Rahr Brewing Shutdown for Months

Rahr Brewing has announced that they will have to suspend operations for at least several months after a record snowfall last week caused the roof to collapse at the brewery. Although the existing bottled inventory has apparently been removed by the distributor, there will most likely be a shortage of Rahr beers in the market until they can get back up and running.

You can read the full announcement at the Rahr website. Additional info and photos of the damage and can be seen over at the Texas Beer blog.

Cedar Creek Cafe, Bar & Grill

On a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon the weekend before last, my wife and I went up to the Cedar Creek for lunch while out running errands. The Cedar Creek is located in The Heights and is a sister restaurant to the Dry Creek and Onion Creek

It has a fairly large indoor seating area and bar, but the outdoor areas are definitely the best place to be (weather permitting).  Lots of seating on large patios as well as tables out on the grounds under the trees and along the creek make for a very relaxing atmosphere. The smoke from the nearby firepit made us think we were sitting in a campground and not in the middle of 4th largest city in the U.S.

They have about 35 beers on tap as well as more in the bottle with a decent selection of craft beers. The lunch menu is pretty large with various salads, sandwiches and burgers.  It looks like Tuesdays would be good time to go as its steak night with all Texas beers on sale.  My wife had the Bison Burger which was thick and juicy with a great flavour.  I had the Flank Sinatra which was basically a cheese-steak sandwich made with flank steak.  The steak was tender and delicious and it came with my favourite seasoned thin cut fries.

If there is one drawback to the place, its the ordering process.  Ordering for all food and drinks is done at the bar and if the place is busy like it was on Saturday, it can be chaotic.  It basically results in people crowding around the bar in front of the cash registers trying to get the attention of the harried bartenders.  People who are unfamiliar with the place and how it works end up standing around looking confused and searching for a menu.  It also means each time you you want another drink, you have to jump back into the fray of people placing food orders and asking questions about the menu.  When your order is ready, the food is brought out to your table by staff wandering around looking for the number you were given when you placed the order.  I watched several trays of food make multiple trips around the entire inside and outside areas by staff who obviously couldn't find the number.

However, the ordering difficulties aside, this was an awesome place to chill for a couple of hours.  It's yet another bar that I would frequent often if it was closer to where I live and it would be a great place to grab a beer after work.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Beer Apps for Android OS #2

Since my first post about Beer Apps for Andoid OS back in November, I've noticed a few more showing up in the Android Market, so I thought it was time for another post.  All of the following apps should be available in the Android Marketplace by searching for the name:

RateBeer Mobile - App that allows direct interaction with the website but a RateBeer account is required. Able to get a list of nearby beer places based on current geographic location. Often get ForceClose errors though. -- $Free

Epitome of Beer - Summarizes the beer making process, the history and aspects of the major beer styles. Caused a ForceClose error on my phone attempting to just open, was unable to test this one. -- $0.99

PHM Beer App - Beer reviews from the Perfectly Happy Man website, a team of average Joes and Janes dedicated to stellar writing, commentary and communal development on the topics of beer and brewing. -- $Free

Beer Bible - Explained as the ultimate guide for connoisseurs, home brewers and for all those who want to expand their knowledge and enjoyment of one of the world's most favorite beverage". Rather high price compared to other apps. Doesn't contain information that isn't freely available elsewhere. Info and beers for various breweries was sometimes incomplete or missing. -- $4.99

Home Brew Calculators - Various calculators for homebrewers. -- $2.99

Brewzor Brewing Calculator - Various calculators for homebrewers. -- $Free

Pint Push - Slide pints onto beer mats to score points. -- $Free

Balance the Beer - Tip the phone back and forth to keep the beer on the screen for 15 secs. -- $Free

Portland Breweries - Selectable Google Maps for breweries in the Portland, OR area. -- $Free

Asheville Breweries - Selectable Google Maps for breweries in the Asheville, NC area. -- $Free

Atlanta Breweries - Selectable Google Maps for breweries in the Atlanta, GA area. -- $Free

If you know of any other cool beer apps for Android phones, please leave a comment and I'll add it to the list.  There is also a link at the top of the page to the complete  list of all the Beer Android apps that I've found.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

2009 Jasperilla Old Ale

The 2009 release of Jasperilla Old Ale from Independence Brewing was recently bottled by hand in 22oz bombers and is now available at the usual beer places. This is the 5th release of Jasperilla which is affectionately named after one of the dogs owned by brewery founders Amy and Rob Cartwright.This years batch is around 9% ABV and was aged on toasted American oak spirals for 2 months imparting a caramel and vanilla character in the flavour and aroma.

The Sierra 30 Project

Back in December, Sierra Nevada Brewery announced plans to celebrate their 30th anniversary with the release of four special edition beers brewed in collaboration with those who are considered to be the founders of the craft brewing movement:

Ken Grosman - Founder of Sierra Nevada Brewery
Fritz Maytag - Owner of Anchor Brewery and considered to be the godfather of craft brewing
Jack McAuliffe - Founder of the nations first micro brewery and inspiration for countless others
Fred Eckhardt - Renowned beer writer and tireless promoter of good craft beer
Charlie Papazian - Homebrewing icon and founder of the Brewers Association

A website for the Sierra 30th Project is now online and provides details of the project, the history of those involved with it and information about the four beers that have been brewed. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of these specical releases will be donated to the charities chosen by each brewer.

Fritz and Ken’s Ale – Imperial Stout (Mid-March)

Charlie, Fred and Ken’s Ale - Imperial Helles Ale (Mid-May)

Jack and Ken’s Ale - American Barleywine (Mid-July)

Our Brewer’s Reserve - A blend of Oak-aged Bigfoot, Celebration Ale and Pale Ale which has then been dry-hopped (Mid-October)

These are limited-releases and will be available at select retailers and bars. Hopefully these will make their way to the Texas market.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

(512) Whiskey Barrel Aged Double Pecan Porter

(512) Brewing has just released their Whiskey Barrel Aged Double Pecan Porter in bottles. Previously only available on draft, this is the first beer from (512) that has been bottled.

This is a bigger, bolder version of our mainstay Pecan Porter, with a richer finish. Two months on recently emptied Jack Daniels select barrels imparted a wonderful vanilla character from the oak and a pleasant amount of whiskey nose and flavor.

Only 187 of these 750ml bottles are being released to local stores around Austin, so they won't last long.

Wine vs Beer at Petrol Station

Wine vs Beer dinner at the Petrol Station on March 29th.

5 Courses, 5 Beers, 5 Wines

$70 per person and only 30 tickets are available starting tomorrow. More information about the menu and the event will be released soon.

*** Update 02/23/10 ***

The Petrol Station still had a few tickets left for the dinner at the time of this update. The main course is pork belly. Check their Facebook page for more information and how to contact them for tickets.

Beer Connoisseur Magazine Party At Independence

Beer Connoisseur Magazine is having a party at Independence Brewing in Austin, TX to celebrate the release of their second issue. This will also be the first event that the magazine has held outside of its home in Atlanta.

The party is Saturday, February 27th from 4pm ~ 8pm. Tickets are $15 in advance (purchase online) or $20 at the door with an RSVP only (send an email to will full name to RSVP). Entry includes a copy of the new spring issue (set to go on sale March 9th), beer tastings, brewery tours and live music. Food will be available for purchase and a raffle to raise money for Haitian relief. Mingle with the Founder, Managing Editors, Writers and other members of the staff.

Beer will be available for sampling from 7 Texas breweries: Independence Brewing, Real Ale, Saint Arnold, Live Oak, (512) Brewing, North by Northwest and Uncle Billy's.

There is also a Pre-Party at the Ginger Man from 12pm ~ 4pm with a free shuttle bus to the brewery for the party and back to the Ginger Man for a Post-Party. Show your event ticket and get $.50 off draft and $2 off pitchers.

I am a subscriber to Beer Connoisseur Magazine and I'm pretty happy with the first issue that was released back in December and look forward to the new spring issue.

Baden Baden Golden Ale

I finally got around to trying one of the beers my friend brought back from Brazil. Golden yellow with a big foamy white head. It has a wonderful sweet floral aroma. The initial flavour is slightly acidic and bitter, but that's quickly replaced with flavours of vanilla, pear and honey. The sweet honey flavour and floral aroma lingers on the palate long after. A very unique golden ale.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Guinness Irish Stew

Last year I made a batch of chili on Super Bowl Sunday, but this year I decided to go with a Guinness Irish Stew. The latest issue of DRAFT Magazine featured a few slow cooker recipes that included a simple yet tasting looking recipe for one.

I got up a little after 7am (which I had to do anyway to let the dog out) to begin the preparations. I started by cutting up the stew meat, dusting it with salt and pepper and then coating it with flour before browning it in a hot and smoking cast iron skillet. I then added two bottles of Guinness 250 Anniversary Stout to the pan and let it cook for a minute more before pouring the entire mixture into the crock-pot. I also deglazed the pan with some more Guinness to ensure I got all the tasty brown bits off the bottom. The remaining ingredients of chopped up carrots, celery and mushrooms, a small bag of frozen pearl onions, garlic, thyme and beef stock where also added. The lid was closed and it was left to cook on low for almost 10 hours.

It turned out to be more of a "stoup" (thinner then a stew but thicker then a soup), probably due to extra moisture from the fresh mushrooms that I put in which were not called for in the original recipe. I add mushrooms to almost everything and I thought the stew was just crying out for them. However, the flavour was great and the meat was extremely tender and falling apart in the pot. I'd certainly make it again, but I'd probably add a little less beer or broth if adding mushrooms. I'd also like to try it with different stouts to see how the beer affects the flavour.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Three Bastards at the Ginger Man

Perhaps inspired by the upcomfing Stone'd for Six Days event, the Ginger Man apparently wants you give you some love from Stone Brewing as well.

For only $11.25 you can get a flight of Arrogant Bastard Ale, Oaked Arrogant Bastard and Double Bastard with a Bavarian style pretzel. Not sure why there's a pretzel thrown in on that deal, but I do like their soft pretzels. Only available while supplies last.

Get Stone'd For Six Days

Thanks to a collaboration between the Petrol Station and the Flying Saucer, starting on Monday, February 15th, you can get Stone'd for six days. The two bars will be hosting a vertical tasting of Stone's Russian Imperial Stout which will alternate between the locations. Each night, the host location will feature a different vintage:

Feb. 15: The Flying Saucer - 2009
Feb. 16: Petrol Station - 2008
Feb. 17: The Saucer - 2008 (Rare Bourbon-Barrel-Aged)
Feb. 18: Petrol Station - 2007
Feb. 19: The Saucer - ** 2006 RIS Keg was bad, Stone Vertical Epic & Old Guardian instead **
Feb. 20: Petrol Station 2005

The kegs are tapped at 7:00pm and pints will be priced at $6 ~ $8 each. Get a punchcard the first night and if you get Stone'd each night, you'll be rewarded with an Old Guardian Barley Wine glass.

The full story, including a video on how the collaboration came to be, is available at the Beer, TX blog.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Camp Beer II

Another Camp Beer event was announced last night and apparently half of the 30 tickets are already sold as of this morning. For $50 a ticket, the participants will be able to sample around 20 different beers, most of which are not available for purchase in Texas. Kevin Floyd, the beer master at the Anvil Bar, will also be talking about the various beers being served.

The next session will be on Sunday, March 28th from 3:oopm ~ 6:oopm and the location will be provided to those that purchase a ticket. Tickets and more information about the event, including a list of the beer that may make an appearance, is available at the website.

Well, there's now one less ticket... I just bought mine.

---- UPDATE ----

Camp Beer II is officially sold out and in less then 24hrs. If you missed out this time, its already been announced that there will be a Beer Camp III and they're doubling the number of tickets to 60.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

U.K. Unveils Safer Pint Glass

Nearly 87,000 injuries occur a year in the U.K. due to fights involving broken pint glasses and its prompted the government to consider implementing a new safer beer glass. Apparently this is an issue that they've been working on for awhile as two new prototypes have just been unveiled:

The first new design features a clear plastic coating around the inside of the glass which can be applied to existing glasses. The second and more expensive design is a whole new glass made up of two thin glass walls bonded together with resin. Both designs prevent the glass from breaking up into shards when smashed.

Their solution just seems to addresses the number and severity of injuries, but does nothing to address the issue of the fights themselves. Won't they just hit each other with the new sturdier glass? I can't recall ever seeing a bar fight that involved someone using a smashed beer glass. Is this just an issue in the U.K.? Soccer hooligans?

The full story and more information is available at the BBC website.

Red Lion Pub on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives

The Red Lion Pub will be featured on Monday's episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on The Food Network (9:00pm CST, check your local listings for time and channel).

Guy Fieri and triple D taped segments at a few different Houston area eateries last year which have been airing in this season's episodes. I've had a few pints at the Red Lion over the years, but I've never tried their food. I've always heard great things about it and apparently, so did Guy. The Red Lion is hosting a viewing party at the pub on Monday night to watch the episode.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Usual

The Usual Pub has been on my list of local beer bars to visit since I heard about it last year, but I never got around to visiting (drove past it a few times) until last Saturday. I stopped by late in the afternoon after having lunch at the Petrol station. It was basically empty except for a band doing a sound check on stage. The bartender was friendly and she told me that The Usual Pub had been open for about a year and before that the building had been a "massage parlour". Don't know if that's true or not, but it makes for an interesting story. Its pretty small and dark inside, but has a large patio outside. Its also far enough off the popular Washington Ave strip that parking is easy to find. They have about 10 rotating taps of craft beer and quite a large and broad range of styles in the bottle. Regardless of what you're in the mood for, it certainly shouldn't be hard to find a few good selections here. I had a pint of Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout and then a Full Sail Session Dark Lager in the bottle. I don't know if it would become my "usual", but I'd certainly visit it more often if I lived nearby.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Beer Wars Available On Every Media Type

When it was originally released, Beer Wars was shown at a limited number of theatres for one night only. However, that independent film about small craft breweries battling with large corporations has joined with some of the largest corporations in the media world to make it available on DVD, via On Demand on various cable systems and for digital download. The full list of media options are available on the Beer Wars website and includes Netflix, Comcast and Amazon.

Lunch at the Petrol Station

I decided to treat myself to lunch and a beer at the Petrol Station on Saturday after getting a few chores done around the house. There's nothing more satisfying then a well deserved beer. I rarely get over to the Petrol Station as its nowhere near where I live, work or normally hangout in Houston. On my last visit, I had the curry chicken salad sandwich which was excellent. I've heard great things about their burgers, but I decided on the meatloaf sandwich instead with a pint of the Palo Santo Marron from Dogfish Head. The slab of meatloaf was thick and juicy and served in a crusty french roll. The Palo Santo was very smooth for being 12%ABV. Flavours of caramel, vanilla, oak and dark fruits. I followed that up with a Bear Republic Heritage and then a Moylan's Hopsickle. The Hopsickle was a complete hop bomb after the sweeter Palo Santo and Heritage.

The place is definitely worth getting over too. Can't wait to try it when the weather is nice and I can sit outside on the large patio areas. Check their Facebook page for information on upcoming events and updates of what's currently on tap.