Friday, December 31, 2010

Uinta Brewing - Salt Lake City, Utah

Dustin and I did some brewing last night... and as we always do we broke out a few bottles of beer to aid in the process.  Consider it research, if you will.  This time the selections were from Uinta Brewing in Utah.  Dustin had been up there to do some skiing before Christmas and brought back a couple of bombers for us... a Cockeyed Cooper (bourbon barrel aged barleywine) and a Labyrinth Black Ale.  Yes, strong beer does exist in Utah, it just has to be bought at the state-run liquor stores, I believe.  Maybe someone can correct me on that if I'm wrong.  I haven't been to Utah since I was 20 and I was kicked out of a liquor store back then for just going in underage, I wasn't even trying to buy anything!  Uinta started in 1993, which is relatively old for a US microbrewery, and from what I can tell on their website they are one of the more 'green' breweries around.  They can now be found throughout a lot of the West, the East coast, and a few places in between.  Not Louisiana though... at least not yet.
First up was the Cockeyed Cooper Barleywine, aged in bourbon barrels.   We broke out a couple of tulip glasses (appropriate for the style) and got to the beer.  First note was the beautiful color... the Cooper is a deep red color with a large bubbly head.  The head retention and lacing were both fantastic.  The smell was first hoppy, with pine aromas coming through the strongest, then a slight hint of bourbon cut through.  The taste was a lot more complex, the hops are still there but the bourbon imparted flavors that weren't strong on the nose are much more bold here.  The vanilla and caramel from the charred oak are there on the back end of each sip, but the typical alcoholic warmth of bourbon isn't there.  It's a very well put together blend, with great balance.  This one will soon be added to the 'My Favorite Beers' page as it scored an A+ for me.

Second up was the Labyrinth Black Ale, which as first I took to be a 'black IPA' or 'Cascadian dark ale' but as I found out on first whiff, it's an imperial stout.  The beer pours extremely dark, with a creamy off-white head that went on forever.  Just like the Cockeyed Cooper, this is a beautiful beer.  The aroma is primarily coffee notes, roasted, with hints of hop bitterness as well.  The taste once again surpasses the aroma, just like the barleywine. It's rich, creamy, hits hard of coffee, and it's not overly alcoholic for such a strong beer.  The roasted malts come through more on the aftertaste.  It has a fantastic mouthfeel, but I'd have a really tough time taking down more than one of these in a sitting... it's actually too rich!  
Another really good beer, but I definitely prefer the Cockeyed Cooper Barleywine to the Labyrinth Black Ale.  What this really means is that now Dustin and I are going to have to try the other 'Crooked Line' series beers from Uinta, and their other stuff as well if I can find it!  We'll have a layover in Salt Lake City to and from Vegas in a week, so maybe they will have some at the airport?  We can hope... but until then I'll be closing out 2010 on a good note with two delicious brews.  Too bad I didn't wait a couple of days, these could have been the start of my 365 new beers in 2011!

Cockeyed Cooper Barleywine:
My Rating: A+

Labyrinth Black Ale:
My Rating: B+

Barleywine on FoodistaBarleywine

Imperial Stout on FoodistaImperial Stout

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The BR Beer Scene Year In Review

2010 is almost over folks... and that means I'm seeing 'year-end awards' and 'best of 2010' lists everywhere.  The Beer Buddha put out his "Beery Awards" for 2010.  Jay over at Bite And Booze recounted his 10 most memorable posts of the year. released their top 10 craft beer stories of 2010, and I think it's a fantastic list of the most important craft beer stories.  They really did a good job with that one.  

For myself and the BR Beer Scene, 2010 was absolutely a great year... full of great beers, great travels, and great people.  I made another trip to Parish Brewery in Broussard, LA to taste even more of Andrew Godley's delicious creations.    I made several trips to the Avenue Pub in New Orleans with friends to various tastings and other beer events.  I was able to travel to places like Alaska, Seattle, and Gulf Shores and try the local beers and others I can't get in Baton Rouge. Tin Roof Brewery opened its doors in Baton Rouge, and all along the way I tasted and reviewed and wrote about scores of beers.  

I was planning on writing a post about my top 10 reviewed beers of 2010, but honestly, my new page on my favorite beers covers at least half of them, so that's kinda pointless.  I could talk about my favorite posts of the year, but really I just covered most of that in my paragraph above.  Instead, I'm going to look to the future of The BR Beer Scene and my beer journey, and make ten seven beer and blog resolutions for 2011.

Resolution #1:
Visit more breweries... let's make it at least 6 in 2011.  Some of these will be easy.  I'm way overdue for a trip back to the Parish Brewery, I'm sure I'll be checking in on the guys at Tin Roof, and who doesn't love a Spring weekend day spent drinking at Abita?  Saint Arnold is in some new digs over in Houston that I'd like to check out, but past that I'm going to have to go out of my way and find a few places to visit.  I'm up for the challenge though... bring it on!

Resolution #2:
Get published somewhere other than my own blog.  I can make this happen I'm sure... might not be anything major, but I can pull it off.

Resolution #3:
Keep home-brewing... Dustin Davis and I just started getting into it within the last month of 2010, and I want us to really put out some tasty and creative home-brews in 2011.  

Resolution #4:
Enter a home-brew contest.  This really goes hand in hand with #3, but by the end of the year I'd like us to be confident enough in a beer or two to see how it stacks up. I know our friends and family will enjoy our beer just about no matter what, but we'll need to know what our peers think.

Resolution #5:
Drink a beer stronger than I ever have before.  Right now the strongest beer I've tried and reviewed was Samichlaus at 14% abv.  I'm going to find one even bigger, there are plenty out there!

Resolution #6:
Continue to get in better shape and lose weight as I simultaneously continue to enjoy beer and write about it.  Since beer and diet don't go well together this is going to mostly mean more exercise, more running, and then enjoying beer maybe in a little more moderation.

Resolution #7:
There are 365 days in 2011... I think I should try 365 new beers.  This will be tough to work in with resolution #6, but I can do it.  I'm not going to be posting a review per day, probably more like 3 or 4 at a time with other posts mixed in about beer events, home-brewing, and maybe even how #6 is coming along.  I also might cheat a little and count a beer if I haven't had a chance to really review it and write about it the first time.  Or if I try new Parish beer that is an evolved recipe from what I've previously tasted.  At any rate, I'm looking forward to this... anyone want to join me?

Cheers, and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sam Adams Winter Classics

Just picked up a Sam Adams Winter Classics mixed 12-pack from Albertson's on College for $14.99.  It has two each of the Boston Lager (flagship brew), the seasonal Winter Lager, and four different exclusive brews... the Holiday Porter, Chocolate Bock, White Ale, and Old Fezziwig Ale.  I'm really looking forward to the Old Fezziwig ales, I've heard nothing but good things about the beer... and the White Ale as well.  So... if you think you might like a few of these, or need to pick up a case for a party, give these a try!

Two More Beers From O'Fallon Brewery!

A little over a week ago I received an early Christmas present of some beers from St. Louis that I can't get in Baton Rouge!  I already reviewed the two reserve series beers from Schlafly, and one of the variety pack beers from O'Fallon.  Now it's time to take a look at two more from O'Fallon.  I wasn't terribly thrilled with the first one, the Unfiltered Wheat, so hopefully these two exceed expectations.

First up was the O'Fallon Hemp Hop Rye.  The beer is a nice looking hazy amber color, but very little head at all and no retention on what was there. So, mixed bag on the looks.  There's a much stronger smell than I expected, malty caramel dominates but an earthy spiciness comes through too.  The taste is a little weaker than the smell, but I'm also picking up some hoppiness I missed on the nose. The other flavors are all present too with the rye earthiness coming more to the front than the amber malts. More complex than expected, and really a nice beer.  It's a little thin, but not enough to really take away much from the beer, just not anything to add.  I found the unfiltered wheat from O'Fallon to be a little boring, but this one is the opposite, very interesting and I'll definitely be looking forward to the second bottle!
Up next is the 5 Day IPA, poured from a bottle into an RSAK pint glass.  It's a hazy deep amber color with a finger worth of white head.  Decent retention... good looking beer!  The smell is a little faint, but what's there is grapefruit hoppy.  The taste is similar... there's somewhere funny on the end that I can't place but it's not bad.  It's not a bold IPA, but a decent one and really easy to drink.  To compare to some local IPAs I'd put this one slightly better than the Jockamo IPA from Abita, but below the Hopitoulas IPA from NOLA.  It's definitely on the more tame side of the style.

Both beers are a definite step up from the Unfiltered Wheat, and I still have one more O'Fallon beer to try, so look for that review coming soon!  

Hemp Hop Rye:
My Rating: B

5 Day IPA:
My Rating: B-

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas from The BR Beer Scene!

For my Christmas present to myself, I figured I'd break out one of the beers I had aging in the back of my fridge... a Scaldis Noel from Christmas 2008.  Scaldis Noel (AKA Bush De Noel) is from Brasserie Dubuisson in Belgium, and is considered a Belgian Strong Dark Ale.  I originally tried this one at a beer tasting at BJ's in Baton Rouge along with some other Christmas & Winter beers and this was one of the standouts.  Fortunately they have a few extra and I got to take a bottle home with me.  They said it would taste even better with some age... hopefully two years was enough!

As you can see, it's a bubbly beer!  I wonder if the extra years of being in the bottle increased the carbonation, or if it's just normally like that?  (Hey look, a Homer Brewing snifter!)  An important note for beers like this... use the proper glassware, and let them warm to 50 degrees or so before drinking.  Serving them ice cold kills all the best flavors!  

Underneath the bubbles, the beer is actually more of a deep red color.  Really nice looking brew.  The aroma is malts and dark fruits and alcohol.  The 12% abv comes through pretty strong on this one, but that's not really a bad thing.  The taste is more of the same but even more complex.  The alcohol content is unmistakable, as is the Belgian notes of this ale.  Spicy, malty, fruity, even some hops all contribute to a fantastic flavor.

I haven't seen this one around in the stores, but if you do, grab several.  Try one now, share with a friend, and save some for a future Christmas.  I know it's tough to let a beer just sit there and not drink it, but it'll be worth it!

Merry Christmas everyone!

My rating: A

Thursday, December 23, 2010

LSU Leisure Classes: Homebrewing!

I took an LSU Leisure Class one time... intro to piano with my friend Maria a few years back.  It was fun, relatively cheap, and I remember pretty much nothing I was taught.  I happened to see a quick blurb in the 225 Dine newsletter about LSU Leisure Classes and figured I'd take a look... lo and behold, there's one on homebrewing!

Unfortunately there's a waiting list, but I really think it's a cool idea for a leisure class.  Like the piano class, it's probably a little too basic for me, but for anyone out there with no past experience that is interested in brewing your own beer, it might be worth getting on the list or checking it out the next time it's offered!  Trust me, homebrewing can be a lot of work, but also very rewarding.  I mean, the reward is a lot of beer!  

Also on a homebrewing note, Dustin and I should have our first beer ready for human consumption in a week or so... here's hoping it kicks ass!  If not... maybe we should sign up for the class? 

Cheers, and Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Quick Review: O'Fallon Unfiltered Wheat

Another one from St. Louis... here's an Unfiltered Wheat from O'Fallon Brewery. This brewery is actually located in O'Fallon, Missouri, which apparently a Western suburb of St. Louis proper.  The brewery opened in 2000 and has grown considerably since then! 

This offering pours a hazy golden color from a 12 oz. bottle into a Tin Roof pint glass.  There is a small white head that dissipated quickly. You can tell it's an unfiltered beer... definite haziness to the beer, which I think is a good thing.

The smell is dominantly wheat and a little sweet, like straw maybe. The taste is more of the same, but noticably watery, which isn't too uncommon for the style. There is a really thin mouthfeel, but this wheat beer is super easy to drink. It's not much of a winter beer, but I think I'd like to revisit this one on a hot summer day!

My rating: C

Monday, December 20, 2010

Schlafly Reserve Imperial Stout & Barleywine

Thanks again to Lynn for bringing these down from St. Louis as part of an early Christmas present!  They presented the perfect drinking material for Dustin and I's home-brewing adventures yesterday.  We were busy, bottling almost 5 gallons of wine that Travis and I accidentally left fermenting for 4 years, brewing a batch of malted cider, and bottling our first beer of the new home-brewing operation, a pale ale.  The wine (which is potent, by the way) is ready to drink, but the pale ale will take a few weeks to bottle-condition before it's ready.

While dealing with all of that, we took the time to enjoy these two Reserve series beers from Schlafly.  Up first was the bourbon-barrel aged Imperial Stout, split between Dustin and I from the 750ml bottle into imperial pint glasses.  The beer is dark brown... really really dark brown to the point where it's almost black, and no light is getting through.  The smell is rich chocolate, with hints of the bourbon aging in there as well.  This imperial stout tastes pretty much like the smell... dark chocolate with hints of bourbon but unlike some other bourbon-barrel aged stouts the bourbon is secondary to the stout.  It's a little thin on the mouth for so much flavor and alcohol, but the alcohol is pretty well masked. Doesn't taste like a 10.5% stout. I'm glad I got to try this one, not disappointed at all. 

Up next was the Oak-aged Barleywine, split between Dustin and I just the same as the imperial stout.  It's a hazy deep amber color, with a small off-white head. Some red in there, a very nice looking beer.  Smells of alcohol and caramel primarily... very boozy.  The taste is more of the same, but much more complex... the booze is there, but there's a great caramel malt flavor blended with other spices and a slight hop bitterness at the end.  Pretty good mouthfeel too, syrupy and thick and boozy.  Very nice beer, I'd have another right now, if I had one.  (Hint hint to anyone near St. Louis anytime soon...)

Imperial Stout:
My rating: B

My rating: B+

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Present #1 - St. Lous Beers!

"Santa Claus" came a little early for me this year for at least one present, as yesterday my friend Lynn who currently lives in St. Louis, came through and dropped off a gift bag full of local St. Louis beers!  She also writes a blog about living in St. Louis... check it out!  Fortunately there is more to beer in St. Louis than Anheuser-Busch... and fortunately Lynn knew to go for the smaller local breweries!  Here's what she brought me:

What we have here is an 8-beer sampler pack from O'Fallon Brewery, and a couple of reserve series 750ml bottles from the Schlafly Brewery.  The four beers from O'Fallon (two each) are the 5 Day IPA, Hemp Hop Rye Amber Ale, Wheach Peach Wheat Ale, and Unfiltered Wheat.  Of these I think I'm looking forward to the 5 Day IPA the best, but the Peach Wheat Ale sounds interesting too.  Hopefully they are all fantastic!  The two beers from Schlafly are their 2009 Bourbon-Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, and their 2009 Oak-Aged Barleywine.  Excellent job in picking these two out, Lynn, I'm really excited to give them a try!

Such a great early Christmas present... I'll be sure to report back on how good they are!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Another Tasty Beer From Fort Collins Brewery.

Another tasty brew from Fort Collins Brewery... this one is a Pomegranate Wheat Ale, although the pomegranate is fairly weak.  It's still a tasty wheat beer and one I'll consider buying again.  $10 for a cold 6-pack at Bet-R!

Wheat Beer on FoodistaWheat Beer

Review: Moa Original from New Zealand

I've been seeing more and more beers from New Zealand in the market lately... and this is probably a good thing.  It's tough for Louisiana to get better domestic craft brews due to distribution and licensing issues, but it seems to be easier to get more and more imports in.  From a previous beer from New Zealand, the Moa Tripel, to Cucapa craft beer from Mexico there has been an influx lately.  I've even seen a few 6-packs from New Zealand on the shelves in Bet-R, but haven't picked any up yet.  I'm especially excited to see more beers from the Kiwi nation popping up, as everything I've read tells me that they have a serious emerging craft beer scene on their hands.  I even focused on their craft beer scene in my World Cup posts, and a recent episode of Brewmasters involved Sam from Dogfish Head traveling to New Zealand to participate in their largest beer festival.  I've been meaning to write about the show, but I guess I'll save that for a later date.

For now... here's the Moa Original, one of the flagship brews of the Moa Brewery

First thing to notice, this guy comes 750ml at a time... but don't worry, it's an easy drinking pilsner and with the help of a friend (or not) one bottle should go fairly quick.  It has the typical pilsner look to it, and a very typical pilsner aroma of earthy tones with a hint of hops.  The flavor remained true to the style as well although I think it could use more hop profile.  An easy drinker for sure to sit back with and watch a game, although I think I like their tripel better in terms of overall quality.  

My rating: B-

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"The World's Worst Beer"

No, this isn't what I think is the world's worst beer, as I haven't yet traveled and tasted enough to make that call, even though I'd tried plenty that would be in the running.  This is actually about a quick piece I stumbled upon on The Huffington Post about the The World's Worst Beer.  The survey was done from 3,400 individuals from 99 countries, and not really a surprise, but the USA was voted by a landslide as having the worst beer.  You know, I can see how people from other countries might think that... the overwhelming majority of American beer they see is going to be Budweiser, Bud Light, and some occasional Coors and Miller brands.  If I'm living in England and can get Fuller's or Sam Smith on a regular basis at any pub, I'd think American beer is crap too.  Even while I disagree with the results, I can't really care too much... over here we know our craft beer scene is blowing up and putting out some of the best beer in the world.

What I can laugh at, though... are their pictures!

Here's the one for the USA:

Wait a second... America supposedly has the worst beer in the world, and the picture you're going to show us is dudes feeding women beer (in theory) out of bottles at some sort of Oktoberfest (presumably based on the dudes in the back) celebration?  What. The. Fuck?  I think a nice shot of the Wal-Mart beer aisle with 53 different packaging options for Bud Light, Bud, Coors Light, Miller Lite, and MGD would be more appropriate, right?

And here's the one for China:

Wait a second folks... Asahi, PBR, and Tiger Beer?  Um, Japan, USA, and Singapore anyone?  I believe the stuff on the right side is Chinese at least, and from what I've tried China might really have the worst beer in the world, so at least they earned their second place spot.

Third place was Italy... if you check out the link above you'll see a picture of a chick drinking out of a Chimay goblet.  Yeah, Chimay is a Belgian beer, and it's fucking awesome.  

Fourth place is France... and this picture:

Um, editors... Grimbergen is also Belgian... and also pretty damn good.  Obviously they didn't decide on France being in 4th place, but a picture of a nondescript scene prominently featuring a Belgian beer?  Really?

Fifth place was Mexico, can't really argue that too much... and the picture shows and unidentified beer being poured into a frosty mug, with a lime on hand.  Yup, nailed that one.  Well done guys.

In sixth and seventh place are the UK and Australia, and some more appropriate pictures, although I don't think the UK belongs anywhere on this list, that's obviously how the "world" feels.
Rounding out their list is  India, probably deserving of a spot as most Indian beer tends to be pretty horrible.  At least the stuff that makes it over here, which is probably also how they in India feel about the USA.  Regardless of that... check out the picture:

Hey look, a craft beer sampler!  From... Dogfish Head?  Which is in Delaware?  Which is in the United States?  Seriously?  

That's all for this post... hopefully others of you found the pictures matched to the countries as absurd and funny as I did!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

$3 PBR Pitchers at Times Grill

$3 pitchers and trivia on Tuesday nights, hard to beat that deal!  Trivia starts at 8 if you're into that sort of thing.  I know PBR isn't really anything special, but it's currently the largest American owned brewery (I'm pretty sure at least...) so it's better than Bud, Miller, or Coors on principle alone!

Times Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Cucapá Obscura - Mexican Craft Beer

Ah, Mexico... we all love to celebrate Cinco De Mayo with a margarita or 4, or perhaps a bucket of Corona longnecks complete with lime wedges?  Or sometimes even step it up to a Dos Equis, which as I elaborated on back in the World Cup series, is far better without the lime.  One thing I've never really thought of when I thought Mexican beer though, is craft beer.  I've known that Mexican craft breweries exist, but until very recently I'd never had the pleasure of trying any of them.  That is, until I saw some Cucapá Obscura on the shelves at Calandro's Saturday evening.  It's labeled as an 'American Brown Ale' which is the same style as Abita Turbodog, so let's see how it compares.

The beer is dark... brown like the style suggests with not much head.  It definitely has a similar appearance to Turbodog.  The aroma is malty, hints of chocolate, slightly metallic. The taste is more of the same... a little muted, but there are definitely roasted malt flavors but still a metallic twinge.  Very thin on the mouth, one of the more watery beers I've tried recently, and I can't say I'd pick up any more of these next time.

This isn't a horrible beer, but for $10.99 per 6-pack I'm going to try something new or go back to Turbodog next time if I'm looking for this style.  I'd be willing to try some other beers from Cucapá Brewing Company but probably not this one.  Even still though, it's good to see some craft beer coming from south of the border, maybe the next one will be better and the next even better.  The general consensus from the beer nerds is that this is better than I'm giving it credit for, so maybe it even will earn a second look sometime.

My review: C-

Picture from the BetterBeerBlog, as I wasn't able to take a good one myself... thanks!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Review: Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Grand Cru

I mentioned a week or so ago that the Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Ale was available at Bet-R for relatively cheap.  Sure, I did that mostly to try out some mobile blogging, but today it was finally time to break it out and give it a try.  I was excited for this one after really enjoying a previous 30th Anniversary brew... the Imperial Stout.

I poured it into a Chimay goblet... it's darker than expected from a "Grand Cru" with a deep red hue and creamy tan head with great retention.  The smell is hoppier than expected, but I guess I should know better for a Sierra Nevada offering! The hops come on strong but there are some dark fruits in there as well.

The taste is more Belgian... it's still hoppy like the aroma but the spices come through better and compliment the hops very well. There are still slightly bitter hints of dark fruits in there as well.  It's not a terribly complex beer, but I think it feels great on the mouth. Highly carbonated, a good enough blend of flavors to really get all the taste buds going, and just a slightly bitter hoppy aftertaste. The high ABV is hard to pick up as well.

A very good beer... these 30th Anniversary Ales have not disappointed. If I see any more around I'll have to pick some up!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dec. 10th - National Lager Day!

As I'm sure most of you are aware, today is National Lager Day!  It's a momentous holiday almost on par with Christmas, the 4th Of July, and National Macaroni Day.  As most of you probably don't know, a lager is a type of beer fermented at much cooler temperatures and for much longer than the ale counterparts.  Lagers originated in Germany and many of the best German beers are lagers even though they aren't your typical American-style lager.  

Over here, and throughout the world, lagers are the best selling beers.  Typically brews such as Budweiser, Miller, Sam Adams Boston Lager, etc... come to mind but lagers are far more diverse that that.  Great German beers like Ayinger Celebrator or the classic Oktoberfest beers are all different styles of lagers!  A few days ago I broke out a Weihenstephaner Korbinian doppelbock to give it a try, so it'll be my official lager of the 2010 National Lager Day!  (Yeah, it's German... get over it!)

This one was part of my most recent beer run to Calandro's... and only $3.49 for a half-liter bottle, which isn't a bad price at all.  The smell is all malt... hints of roasted caramel and chocolate. Delicious.

The taste is more of the same... the roasted notes come through first and then pop up again on the end of the sip. The caramel notes come through in the middle for a nice sweet balance to the slightly bitter roasted note. A very very easy to drink malt-bomb that I'm going to have to add to the regular rotation at this nice price.

So... go out today and find a lager beer that you really like!  Could be American, could be German... could even be something crazy like South African, but enjoy!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Abita - Bourbon Barrel Aged Turbodog

So, Abita is apparently jumping on the bourbon-barrel aging trend (not a bad thing!) and releasing some casks of aged Turbodog over the next few weeks.  There will be 4 different cask-tapping events in New Orleans and Mandeville, and now the only thing I need to figure out is which one I'll be able to go to! 

Of these four drinking establishments the only one I've been to before is The Avenue Pub, and it's probably the best beer bar in Louisiana, and I can't go tonight or Friday night anyway, so it seems like I'll be looking to go with someone next Thursday or the following Monday!  Let me know if you're interested.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Fort Collins Rocky Mountain IPA

A tasty IPA while Dustin and I work on our second batch of homebrew!
This one is from Colorado as the name suggests and we picked up a 6
pack at Marcello's for around $10. Next step, coming up with a name
for our brewing operation and deciding what beer will be next!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Two Christmas Beers From Ridgeway Brewing.

On a recent trip to the Chimes this past weekend, after checking out the Fancy Lawnmower Beer from Saint Arnold, I decided to check out a few offerings on their holiday beer menu.  First on the list was Delirium Noel, a delicious Belgian ale that I've tried many times before.  I'd highly recommend it to anyone looking for something strong and different, although a little pricey.  Since I'd had one recently it was time to look for something new, and the first one that caught my eye was "Lump Of Coal," a strong English stout.

I wish I had a better picture, but I'm still on the old iPhone 3G with no flash and a crappy camera.  Maybe after Christmas I'll have something better.  Anyway, back to the beer... as you can see it pours a predictable dark brown with a bubbly off-white head.  The aroma reminded me of plums and chocolate... not bad.  A little coffee bitterness in there too.  The taste was more of the same, but not very well balanced and the beer came across as a little watery.  The first hit of each sip was strong with chocolate and fruit flavors, but then nothing else came out.  A decent beer, but at $9 for a half-liter bottle, I'd skip it next time.
Second was the "Reindeer Droppings" English bitter, from Ridgeway Brewing, the same British brewery that produced the "Lump Of Coal" up above.  In fact, it seems most of their beers are holiday-themed offerings... interesting.  This one, as you can see, was a much lighter color, with a lighter head.  The smell was hoppy and grainy at the same time, and the taste came across much like a milder version of an American IPA.  It's cheaper than the "Lump Of Coal" at $6.50 for a half-liter, and I'd recommend it to anyone looking to try something new but not sure how hoppy they like their beers.  

In the end I rated both beers at a B-, which labels them as "worthy" according to BeerAdvocate and I can agree with that.  Due to the prices I'd definitely go back to the "Reindeer Droppings" first but either way it's good to see some new seasonal offerings.

Chimes (LSU Area) on Urbanspoon