Friday, November 27, 2009

Parish Brewing - Coming Soon!

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Tuesday evening Jay, Eusebio, and I headed down to Broussard, LA (just a little south of Lafayette) to meet Andrew Godley, the founder of Parish Brewing.  One of Jay's former teaching co-workers Ben met us there as well with his wife.  Andrew was kind enough to welcome us into his home to talk about his brewery project and let us taste several different types of his beer.  He even cooked for us, some delicious bacon-wrapped duck breasts, chicken-apple sausage, and stuffed mushrooms.  I love good food as much as the next guy, but I'm not going to focus on that, I'll leave it to Jay and Eusebio.

We started off with a variation of the Parish Bierre Blanc, an ultra-pale ale dry-hopped with west coast hops.  Andrew admitted that he wasn't too fond of this experiment, and we all agreed that it was the weakest of the brews we tried.  Super bitter and dry tasting, tasted a lot like grapefruit up front.  Crisp, and not far away from being a very refreshing ale, but this one needs more work.

Next we tried Andrew's pilsner, a superbly refreshing lagered brew that struck us all as what a true American pilsner should taste like.  For those unaware 'lagering' a beer involves fermentation at much colder temperatures, which takes significantly longer to produce than a more typical ale.  As much as we hate to say it, it was like a Budweiser if they didn't water it down for the masses.  Definitely enjoyed this one, but we were just getting warmed up.

After the pilsner we tried some of the Parish Oktoberfest.  Andrew tried a different method with this, creating an Oktoberfest ale instead of the normal Märzen style of lager.  Very much amber in color, with lots of rich malt flavors and well balanced with the hops.  This reminded me a good bit of the Heiner brau Märzen, which I've found to be their best beer.  I think that Parish Brewing will do quite well with this one as it is. 

Fourth on the list was the Parish specialty, the Canebrake ale, brewed with Louisiana sugarcane.  I love the idea of using local ingredients as much as possible, and this is a delicious example of doing just that.  I think Andrew is still perfecting the right amount of sugarcane (or raw molasses made from the sugarcane) to use in the brew, and in the sample we tried I think the beer could have used even more sweet flavor from the molasses.  I'm confident the perfectionist in him will find the right balance to really make this a spectacular favorite among local beer.  

Last we tried the Pumpkin Patch ale, which was definitely the highlight of the night.  I've tried many a pumpkin beer in my day and this is right up there with the best.  Similar to the Canebrake ale, Andrew used only fresh pumpkin to create the flavor of the beer, and it didn't miss.  Just the right amount of spice and sweet to go with the beer flavor.  What I like best about this and all of the Parish beers is that they are unmistakably beer.  They aren't trying to be something more or different, just good beer crafted to be the best they can be.  


 Again, thanks very much to Andrew and his wife for hosting us for the evening, the beer was delicious, and the food and company was top notch as well.  I look forward to seeing some Parish beer on tap sometime next year, and you all should look foward to it as well.  It'll be nice to have another solid local option for tasty brews!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Review: St. Bernardus Witbier & Abt 12

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Alright, so as you may remember from a few posts back I picked up a two of each of these selections from the Belgian brewery St. Bernardus, which technically isn't a "Trappist brewery" because the brewing isn't done within the walls of a monestary, but nonetheless produces some of the world's finest Belgian ales.  On the last trip to Calandro's I picked up two of my favorites, the Witbier, and the Abt 12.

Starting with the St. Bernardus Witbier...

I poured it from a small 11.2 oz. bottle into a Castlemaine XXXX glass, stolen from a pub in Galway, Ireland after I wiped out their last keg of the XXXX Gold Lager beer.  While that's a different story it's important to note that despite this being a Belgian ale I didn't pour it into a typical goblet.  Witbiers (often referred to as white ales) are best out of a pint glass or other similar drinking vessel.  This particular witbier had a murky gold color, with a nice creamy white head. There was a lot of lacing as the head dissipated. 

The aroma is just what you would want in a Witbier... a strong smell of wheat, with hints of various fruits and spices. The taste follows that up very nicely, a hint of lemon, some banana, with some definite spice. Delicious. 

This one feels great in the mouth, and is one of the more drinkable beers I've had in a while. All in all, a superb and refreshing witbier.  It's no surprise that beeradvocate rates this one cumulatively as the best witbier available!  If you're looking to branch out into different beers this would be a fantastic starting point.

Now for the Abt 12... darker, bolder, and just as good!


Unlike the Witbier, this one is a Quad and deserves a goblet to release the aroma and flavors as the beer reacts with the oxygen.  The beer pours a tootsie-roll brown, with a one-finger creamy head. It took a while to dissipate and left a little lacing. Some creamy residue on the surface of the beer as well. 

The aroma is malty, a little sweet, hints of spice, and VERY inviting. I can't wait to dive in. The taste is more of the same, very well balanced with a smack of clove and other spice at the beginning and then a malty sweet taste as the beer goes down. This is the best St. Bernardus offering I've had yet... phenomenal.  No surprise again that beeradvocate users rank this one as the third best quad in existence, behind the Westvletern 12 (which you have to go to Belgium to find!) and the Rochefort 10.  Again, stateside, this one is going to be hard to beat.

So there you have it... two of the best beers in the world, that you can find on a shelf just down the street.  They aren't cheap, but totally worth it.

Taste: A
Value: A

Abt 12:
Taste: A+
Value A

And now I'm off to Lafayette for a tasting of some Parish Brewing beers... yum!

Witbier on Foodista

Monday, November 23, 2009

Review: Abita Golden

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A friend brought a 6-pack of these guys over for the LSU vs. LA Tech game, and to the host go the spoils, right?  I've always been a fan of Abita, but the more I explore other beers out there the more I realize they are just a middle of the road microbrewery, but they're still the local guys, so they get some support from me.  

I poured the Golden from a 12 oz. bottle into a Third Row pint glass.  It's very clear, no haziness to it at all, golden color befitting the name with a bubbly white head. Actually surprising head retention on this one. 

Not much on the nose... straw mostly, a bit earthy but none of it really stands out. More of the straw on the taste, but also crisp. A little corn at the end maybe? Subtle sweet hints in the flavor as well. Good for a lager for sure, but nothing special.  A step up from the big boys for sure.

Mouthfeel gets higher marks, very clean taste, hardly any aftertaste, certainly nothing bad. And high marks for drinkability as well. This is far from my favorite Abita beer but I could still kick back a few while watching LSU play or destroying a crawfish boil.  In fact, I think Abita Golden would make a perfect crawfish boil beer!

Taste: C
Value: B

Some random thoughts... look for a few reviews from the last beer run coming out soon... I've already tried three of them, all fantastic!  I officially hate DeSean Jackson for killing me in one of my fantasy matchups last night.  2012 looks like one of the worst movies ever... anyone seen it that can confirm this?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Review: Harviestoun Ola Dubh Special 30 Reserve

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After Eusebio came over and tried one of the Oaked Arrogant Bastard ales I have left over the other day, we decided to break this one out and give it a try.  It came in an 11.2 oz. bottle purchased from Marcello's, bottled Sept. 2007... hopefully these guys are intended to cellar for a few years!  The special thing about these guys is that they are an 'old ale' style but aged in 30-year Highland Park scotch casks.  Hell yeah!  

It poured dark dark dark color, much like a Guinness but without the huge bubbling, in fact there was not much of a head at all. Highland Park was the winner of the scotch tasting I went to about a month ago, so I'm excited for this one.

The beer smells of bitter chocolate and a faint hint of smoky scotch. It's not as strong as I'd like to see, but what is there is nice... I like the hint of scotch in there, good blend of flavors in my opinion.

The taste is more of the same, but more layered, the first bit is rich and chocolatey, but the aftertaste is strong smoky scotch. Well balanced overall and I love the way the scotch flavor sticks with you at the end.  Again, I wish the smoke flavor was a bit stronger, but that might throw some people off. 

Feels great on the mouth, good carbonation and smooth. I could definitely drink a few of these in one sitting. Easily.

Taste: A-
Value: B ($11.99 for a small bottle is a bit high...)

Three random thoughts: Go Saints!  I'd love to see 10-0 after they beat up on the Bucs today.  I'd rather not talk about the LSU game last night... ugh... horrible coaching.  And I'm looking forward to meeting the guys over at Parish Brewing later this week to see what their beer is all about and see how we can help them out in the BR area.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Beer run!

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Beer run!

So... Saturday morning... and after Eusebio swung by last night to hang out and try some of the Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale I realized I was down to one fresh beer in the fridge.  Fresh in this case being one I haven't had a chance to review and post for you guys.  So... I needed to stock up on some new beers to get to over the coming weeks.

Sounds like a trip to Calandro's was in order, which was perfect because I also needed to get some bread so I could make sandwiches from my leftover turkey and I needed some chips and salsa for the LSU game this afternoon.  And it just so happens they have the best beer selection in town.  An opportunistic coincidence, I think.

So... here you go... this is what you can look forward to in the coming few weeks... a few old favorites that I haven't written about (St. Bernardus Abt 12 and the St. Bernardus Witbier) plus a handful of new beers to me.  A six-pack of McSorley's Pale Ale, bombers of Unibroue La Terrible, North Coast Brother Thelonius, North Coast La Merle Saison, and a bottle of De Dolle Dulle Teve.  So... look forward to reviews on these guys coming soon!


And my prediction?  LSU 24, Ole Piss 20

Friday, November 20, 2009

Review: Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale

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So, I took off from work this past Wednesday afternoon to prepare the turkey for Friendsgiving (which you can read more about at BiteandBooze, Jay's blog...) and I needed a few last-minute items such as aluminum foil, so I made the quick walk from my place to the Bet-R store across from Chelsea's.  Despite living so close I haven't made too many trips over to the Bet-R, but I remembered them having a decent little beer selection.  And I was thrilled to see some of the Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale from Stone brewing.  I had some of the regular Arrogant Bastard on tap at the Chimes a few weeks ago, and enjoyed it a lot, so I was thrilled to try this oak-barrel aged version!  It had no price tag on the 6-pack or on the shelf, so after a few confusing minutes for the cashier (sorry to the cute girl behind me!) she decided to ring it up for $8.99... a very fair price for a 6-pack of some good microbrew, in my opinion.

After that it was back to my place to do some turkey cooking, which involves a lot of waiting around making sure the oven isn't on fire.  In other words, the perfect opportunity to crack open a new beer and give it a taste.

I poured it from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass... hey look, an RSAK logo!  It has a clear deep red color with a small tan head... not a lot of retention in the first one although the second one had a huge head.  Hops and oak on the nose... a little sweet but the oak is definitely there.

Very nice flavor to it, the oak balances well with the hops, there's a little malt on the front of the sip too. Hops more on the back end, and more oak on the aftertaste. Very very good.  It clocks in a 7.2% alcohol but you would never know.  I didn't even know until I looked it up at BeerAdvocate to read a little more about the beer and write my quick review.  Just superb balance to this beer.

Good carbonation to it, very nice mouthfeel, easy to drink if you like hops at all. I'm a fan, definitely an improvement on the regular Arrogant Bastard.

Taste: A
Value: A  (Most likely at least...)

And some random thoughts... my scale told me yesterday morning that I needed to get back on the diet plan, as I'm 10 pounds up from my over the Summer low mark.  I guess that might mean a slight slow-down in beer reviews, but I'm sure I'll find room in the diet for a beer or two per week.  Or a glass of scotch, depending on the mood. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Review: Brasserie Des Rocs Grand Cru

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Okay, this is another one from a beer run to Calandro's a while back.  Poured from a 16.9 oz. bottle into a Chimay goblet... not a lot of head in the glass, although it did foam over after popping the top. Very murky brownish color with a hint of red... looks like some sediment made it into this first pour too.

Sweet & spicy aroma, a little funk to it.  Typical Belgian yeast.

Definitely some trub in there... but otherwise the taste is pretty solid. Kinda like a spicy strong Belgian version of a milder brown ale like Sweetwater Georgia Brown or NOLA Brown. I like it surprisingly despite the rough sediment, even though I have a feeling this one was past its shelf-life.

To finish off the bottle I filtered it to see about getting the sediment out... sometimes a little sediment is a good thing but this one had huge chunks floating around.  Not cool.  Still pretty tasty but that extra step means I'd be pretty hesitant to buy this one again.  

Taste: B
Value: C ($9.99 for the bomber)

Some random BS thoughts... I loved the call to go for it for New England Sunday night, it gave them the best statistical chance to win.  Yet, most of the experts seem to think it was one of the worst calls ever.  I don't get it, the stats say that if they are in that spot again they should go for it again.  Sometime it doesn't work, but hey, to relate it to poker, if you're always going in the best odds of winning you should win more often than not.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Review: Fantôme Spéciale De Noel

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Picked up from Marcello's on Perkins... poured into a Chimay goblet from the large 750ml bottle.  Had to break out the wine opener for this one as you can see... most corked beer has more of a champagne style cork to it that can be pulled out easy but this one was a wine-style cork. 

As you can see... it poured a hazy dark orange color with an average sized creamy off-white head.  Looks good for sure.

A very floral aroma to this one... like sucking in through a wreath of roses. Nothing telling as far as hops or malt goes, but a typical Belgian style to it. 

The taste is different at first. Bitter and biting at first... a little bit of floral tastes at the end. Not exceptionally convincing either way. I'm just not feeling this one on the sips like I expected... disappointed would be the right word.

It's not BAD by any means... just not really a standout beer.  I'd had their Fantôme Hiver before and it was a real standout... look for that one over this one.

Taste: B
Value: C+ ($13.99 for the 750 ml.)

And some random thoughts... hooray for Veteran's Day!  Nothing like a random day off from work in the middle of the week.  The new Kent album came out... been listening for a few days now and it's fantastic.  If you can get over the Swedish lyrics, give it a listen. 

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Review: Koningshoeven Quadrupel Trappist Ale

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I picked up a 4-pack of these from Macello's on that beer run a week or so back... I've had it before and enjoyed it so it was time for another round.  I poured the beer from an 11.2 oz. bottle into a Chimay goblet, any Belgian style goblet/tulip glass will work for Belgian ales.  It has a ruby red color to it with a thin off-white head that leaves some creamy residue on the surface of the beer.

The smell is just what you want in a Belgian quad... floral hops, spice, coriander, some definite fruit smells like apple and berries. Very well blended together.

The taste bring all those smells together... nothing overpowers the other flavors, or the strong 10% abv. The fruit probably comes out the most, with the brewing spices blended in. Mild hop profile but still there in small amounts. Just delicious, one of my all-time favorites.

There is definite carbonation, and the beer is lighter than dark stout or something along those lines but it still has a great mouthfeel to it. Easy to swish around a bit to pull out all the flavors, no bad aftertaste at all.

If it wasn't at 10% abv, I could drink these all night long!  It might have earned a spot in my top 10, fantastic beer.

Taste: A+
Value: B  ($13.99 for a 4-pack)

And... three random thoughts: Peterson's interception yesterday would have been good in the NFL, no clue what that replay official was thinking... there was still no guarantee that we would drive the field and score to take the lead, but after the FG and all the extra time off the clock we were pretty much dead.  I also hate that  'running into the kicker' rule... I can understand a defender should be able to dive into a kicker's plant-leg or just crush him after the kick is off, but just running into his kicking foot... that was weak.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Review: Rogue XS Imperial Stout

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I picked this one up at Marcello's a few weeks back along with most of the others I've reviewed lately.  I poured it from a ceramic (okay, probably just frosted glass) 750ml bottle into an imperial pint glass.  (Remember, proper glassware isn't something to be overlooked!)  The color is a dark impenetrable brown, with a huge, creamy bubbly tan head. It didn't want to go anywhere either, hanging on to well over an inch for many minutes.  Like the St. Sebastiaan Dark Ale a few reviews ago, this one has a pop-top and a plunger seal.  At 750 ml, I think the plunger seal might come in useful on this one!

The aroma is what you've come to expect from an imperial stout. Roasted coffee and chocolate, but there is a bit of hops if you get a good whiff.  Very nice.  The taste is more of the same, but a bit rough around the edges. A good bit more bitter than I expected, it's tough to drink and a bit rough on the palate.

It's kinda thin for such a bitter taste... rough on the tongue. I'm just not impressed with this one much at all. Very disappointed.  And with a $15 price tag, I think this will be my last one of these guys on my tab.  Hey, good news though!  Because of that plunger-top, I still have about half left if any of you want to give this one a try!  For the style, I'll absolutely stick with the Raven's Eye I had last week.

Taste: B-
Value: D

Three fun facts/thoughts: So I nailed the Yankees in 6 (not all that hard) but I whiffed on the MVP and I called Hairston as the surprise hero and he was productive in a very limited role,  but there really was no surprise hero in this one.  Now we can see how much the Astros are going to screw up this off-season!  Wooohooo!  And in the meantime, I bet the rich get richer as the normal contenders load up on the free agents to be.  I know, another bold prediction, right?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Review: Guinness, An Old Favorite

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Okay, so this won't really be much of a review... I'm sure you've all had a Guinness or two or two hundred in your lifetime. If not, you should. Guinness isn't a particularly bold beer, but it's a classic. It's considered an Irish Dry Stout and that's spot on... dark, creamy, chocolaty, but definitely dry. It might be hard to comprehend how a liquid could really be 'dry' but as far as the flavor goes, it fits.

Anyway, while watching the Saints kick some ass on Monday Night Football and seeing the Phillies force a game 6 (they obviously knew I called Yankees in 6, not 5) I met up with Brent and Nunee at Ivar's, one of my favorite local watering holes. Sure, that's in large part because it's about 11 feet from my back door, but it also helps that they have decent bar food, they don't allow smoking, and of course, they have Guinness on tap.

Guinness has been one of my favorites ever since I really got into beer, and even more so after a few trips to Ireland. Everyone says it tastes better over there, and I tend to agree. Not sure if it's the ambience of a nice Irish pub, the quality control, the relative freshness, or a combination of it all, but it really does just taste a little better.

But if you can't make it to Ireland, no worries, just order up a pint the next time you can get some Guinness on tap, and raise your glass to Arthur!

Taste: B
Value: B

Three fun facts: Guinness uses nitrogen to give it the famous bubbly effect upon pouring; Guinness has relatively few calories compared to most darker beers; and apparently Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease for the St. James Gate Brewery for only 45 pounds per year.  (That's about $137 in real money.)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Review: Fuller's London Pride

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Picked up a 6-pack of these guys at Marcello's the other day, at $10.99 total.  Poured it into a pint glass (from Happy's it seems!); amber color with red tones to it... not much head, but what is there is white with little lacing.

The smell is a fantastic combo of sweet & bitter. Malt & hops... loving it. Just what you expect out of a well balanced pale ale.

First sip brings upon natural flavors... barley, hay, grains all come to mind. A slight bit of the hops on the aftertaste... very nice, well balanced like the aroma.

Superbly crisp and refreshing... if I lived in England and had a lawn, I'd drink this after yardwork every day.  Certainly several notches above the typical domestic lagers and ales, and a beer I wouldn't hesitate to buy and drink again.

Taste: B
Value: A-  (Less than $2 each isn't bad for an above-average import.)

And... three random thoughts... I'm happy for A-Rod finally doing well in the post-season, not sure why but I've always liked him; Saints are going for 7-0 shortly... what a season so far and I think they had an outside shot at a 16-0 season!; about to head to Ivar's to watch both games... one of my favorite little bars in BR.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Review: Raven's Eye Imperial Stout

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My first beer from Eel River, an organic brewery out of Fortuna, California.  The beer goes for $5.99 a bottle at Marcello's on Perkins... let's see how this goes.

Poured from a 16.9 oz. bottle into an imperial pint glass... beautiful chocolate body with a creamy beige head... even overflowed a little as you can see. Hopefully the beer gods will forgive me for that!

The smell is a little muted, the malt and chocolate is there like you'd expect just not as strong as I'd like to smell. A little bit of raisin in there as well. 

Not so muted on the palate. Chocolaty malt is what you get, followed by a tinge of bitter hops on the back of the tongue. I like it.

Feels great going down, the 9.5% abv is very well balanced with the flavors. 

In my opinion, a very well done imperial stout.

Taste: A-
Value: B

Three random college football thoughts... Iowa has to eventually run out of luck, right?  I was thrilled to see USC go down, if LSU does manage to win out that's one less team that they need to worry about jumping over.  It sucks that LSU got Florida after their bye week and now Alabama after their bye week... bad timing there.