Monday, July 18, 2011

Open The Taps

A new advocacy group for craft beer has been formed in Houston by local bloggers and craft beer enthusiasts. Open the Taps, a registered non-profit grassroots organization, hopes to help shape new legislation regarding the craft beer industry by being the voice of the craft beer consumer.

"Open the Taps hopes to reach more Texas residents on a personal level in order to bring change from the ground-up, unifying voters and the consumers into one voice."

If you're interested in joining the fight to Open the Taps, the founders will be hosting a launch party at the Moon Tower Inn on Saturday, July 23rd at 4:00pm.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Hop in the Dark from Deschutes Brewery

I made some new friends from Deschutes Brewery when they came to town for their Base Camp Week a couple of months ago and that friendship resulted in me receiving an early bottle of this year's release of Hop in the Dark. I've left it resting comfortably in my beer fridge, glancing at it occasionally while trying to determine when I should drink it. I finally decided Saturday night was the night.

Hop in the Dark is their version of a Cascadian Dark Ale (or Black IPA or American-Style Black Ale or whatever you prefer to call it), a variant of the IPA made with roasted malts. I have to admit, I didn't really understand this style when I first heard about it. I just couldn't see how the roasted malt flavours and aromas would compliment the strong bitter hop flavours and floral aromas typical of the IPA style. And I was right, for the first few examples of the style that I tried anyway. However, as more breweries began experimenting with it, better and better versions of it were released. The Brewers Association recognized it as a style for the 2010 GABF and Barley Brown's Brew Pub in Baker City, OR took the very first gold handed out in the category. Big Rock Chip House and Brewery in Birmingham, MI won Silver and Stone got the bronze for their Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale. Greg Noonan (who passed away a couple of years ago) is widely credited for inventing the style at the Vermont Pub and Brewery in the early 1990's.

As the name of the style and beer would imply, its a dark beer, very dark. Strong aromas of pine with roasted malts. The flavour mimics the aroma with the addition of a citrus hop presence mingling with caramel and dark coffee. Finishes dry with the taste of bitter chocolate. Its a very well executed example of the style and still one of the best I've had to date. I look forward to trying a few more new ones at the GABF this fall. Thanks to Deschutes for sending the bottle and I look forward to buying more of it when its available down here later this year.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Feast of Saint Arnold Week

Monday, July 11th is the start of a week-long series of events organized by Saint Arnold Brewing called Feast of Saint Arnold Week. Events featuring Saint Arnold beers will take place at different locations daily with a portion of the proceeds going to the Texas Children’s Hospital IBD Center / Gastroenterology Clinic. The week then wraps up with a special feast at the brewery on Friday.

Monday, July 11 - Ginger Man - 2 PM till close
Rum barrel aged Winter Stout, Divine Reserve 11 cask, bourbon barrel imperial stout cask, auction, other items
$1 per pint plus portion of auction proceeds going to charity

Tuesday, July 12 - Boondoggle's – 5pm
Cask of Divine Reserve
$1 per pint to charity.

Tuesday, July 12 - Petrol Station – 7pm
Cask of Brown Ale, barrel aged with cherries.
ALL proceeds will be going to the charity.

Wednesday, July 13 - Rudyard’s – 7pm
Saint Arnold Ale dinner, $60/person with $10 per ticket to charity plus $1 per pint
Reservations - 713.521.0521

Wednesday, July 13th - Liberty Station - 7pm
Christmas Ale, Divine Reserve 11 and Barrel Aged Imperial Bourbon Stout (cask).

Thursday, July 14 - Flying Saucer
Cask of Divine Reserve 11, plus more surprises when that runs out.
$1 per pint going to charity.

Friday, July 15 - Saint Arnold Brewery - 7 PM
Feast of Saint Arnold, $85 per person with at least $50 per ticket going to charity.
Click to Purchase Tickets

Tickets for 2011 GABF Sold Out

The Brewers Association is reporting that tickets for the 2011 Great American Beer Festival are now SOLD OUT! Including the pre-sale days to members only, the tickets sold out in just 10 days. Limited quantities remain for Thursday and Friday evening Farm to Table Pavilion ticket packages which includes general admission to the festival and Members Only Entrance access. These ticket packages are available to members of the American Homebrewers Association and the Brewers Association and can only be purchased through the Brewers Association online ticketing system.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Recap: Hubbell & Hudson Beer and Cheese Festival

Over the holiday weekend, Hubbell & Hudson held their 2nd Annual Beer and Cheese Festival in their store. We arrived about an hour after it started and the store was already pretty packed. The beer and cheese sampling stations were spread around throughout the store in what little open areas between the aisles existed. We found it was easier to get cheese samples then beer samples as most people had a tendency to hang around the beer tables, particularly if they were serving more then one beer. Beer reps from the breweries or distributors were also on hand pouring the beer, so most people also wanted to chat and ask questions.  However, I was disappointed that none of the stations seemed to actually pair and serve a beer and cheese together. Beer and cheese were being served separately and even if a cheese table was located next to a beer table, they weren't being served as a pairing. The label cards with the name of the cheese included suggested beer styles to pair with it, but you were left on your own to search out a sample of that style if you wanted to try the pairing.  It also got pretty crowded and difficult to move around in the store, particularly when a few people were attempting to push shopping carts as well.  But, its great to see an event that helps to promote craft beer and demonstrate its versatile flavours.  I also managed to get some family members to try some new beers styles that we ended up buying along with some of the great cheeses that we tried.  Overall, we thought it was a pretty fun event and I hope they continue it as an annual festival.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Belgium Independence Week and Beer Tasting at Ginger Man

The Ginger Man is celebrating Belgium's Independence Day with a series of glass nights and a Belgian beer tasting during the week of July 18th to the 23rd. Each day a different Belgian beer and glassware will be featured and the celebrations culminate on Saturday, July 23rd at 3pm with a special Belgian beer tasting alongside food prepared by Chef (and former bartender at the Ginger Man) Angela Gaspard. The cost is $35 per person for the beer and food tasting and they ask that you please pre-register if you are planning to attend.

The following are the Belgian glass nights for the week:

18th – Duvel
19th – Piraat
20th - Maredsous (ceramic chalices)
21st – Chimay
22nd – Blanche de Bruxelles
24th – Lindemans

The glasses are available starting at 5:30pm and only one glass per person with purchase of the beer of the day. As always, the glasses are subject to change and only available while supplies last.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Celebrate Independence Day with Independence Brewing

Celebrate Independence Day at Independence Brewing in Austin, TX. Today, Saturday, July 2nd is the monthly Tour & Tasting Day at the brewery and what better way to celebrate the holiday then with a beer brewed by Independence Brewing.  This year's Saison summer seasonal will be debuted during the tour day and a very limited run of Saison tulip glasses will be available for purchase for $10.  Regular pint glasses are also available for purchase for $6. 

Entrance to the brewery begins at 1:00pm, but a lot of people begin lining up shortly after noon.  It'll be hot, so bring chairs and some sort of shade tent or umbrella.  More information is available on the website.

Friday, July 1, 2011

July Glass Nights at the Ginger Man

The Ginger Man has released their list of Glass Nights for the month of July:

6th - Gulden Draak
13th - Maredsous (stemmed glassware)
20th - Maredsous (ceramic chalices)
27th - St. Arnold’s (Christmas glasses)

In honour of their Belgium Independence celebrations, they are also featuring the following additional glass nights:

18th – Duvel
19th – Piraat
21st – Chimay
22nd – Blanche de Bruxelles
24th – Lindemans

The glasses are available starting at 5:30pm and only one glass per person with purchase of the beer of the day. As always, the glasses are subject to change and only available while supplies last.

Happy Canada Day, eh!

Other then the exceptional beers from Unibroue (now owned by Sapporo), there's not a whole lot of Canadian craft beer available down here in Texas. However, a Blanche de Chambly or an Éphémère Apple would go down really well in this ridiculous heat. Regardless of the beer you choose to celebrate with, cheers and Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canadians and those who wish they were.