Thursday, February 25, 2010

Blue Moon Grand Cru

Found this one at the Bet-R store a while back... I was surprised to see it, and it didn't have a price on it (must have just been put out) and they rang it up for $4.29. After seeing some pricing info and such apparently I got a steal, should have bought more!  This will be the first BMC (that's Bud/Miller/Coors) product I've talked about individually on here, but in general I think Blue Moon does a pretty good job with their beer.  They are what they are, a cheap American belgian-style wheat ale... not great, not bad, very drinkable beer and something different than the macro lagers.  So, time to give this Blue Moon specialty a try.

I poured it into an imperial pint glass, hazy orange-melon color with a frothy white head... good retention and lacing. So far so good!

Smell is a bit muted, but there is definite wheat in there, as well as hints of spice. Nothing stands out, though.  The taste is better than the smell, the spices really come out, bitter hops on the end after the coriander and orange rind. I'll be honest, I'm impressed by the taste of this one, and it really has a good mouthfeel.

I'll admit I was skeptical, but I'm really glad I picked this one up. I'm by no means going to rush out and buy a case, and it's not the best witbier I've ever tried, but not bad. Not bad at all.

Taste: B+
Value: A (at the price I got it... probably more like a B or C+ at correct pricing...)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Stone Smoked Porter

Alright, I'm falling way behind on my beer reviews even with this diet curtailing my drinking habits.  Time to get back on it, here's one from Stone which can now be found in many BR stores including Calandro's, which is where I picked it up if I remember right.  Stone is one of the newer breweries to our market and it's a damn fine one, even considered by some to be the best brewery in the world.  That's a little subjective for my tastes (plus I don't have enough basis for comparison) but let's all agree that it's in contention.

I poured this one from a bomber into an imperial pint glass as you can see. It pours a super dark color, damn near black but maybe a little bit of brown. Huge creamy tan head, lots of lacing and great retention.  It even overflowed a bit, I hate to waste beer like that, damn!

It smells like smoke, for sure... hard to place the exact flavors but it smells like a Pacific NW salmon being smoked... at least that's what comes to mind. The taste hits up front with a little bit of chocolate before the smoke flavor takes over... and then lingers a bit. It's good but I expected more.  The beer is a little more watery than I would like to see too... but still has a decent mouthfeel.

Medium marks for drinkability... the smoke flavors are a little on the strong side and it might throw some people off.  This one definitely isn't for the faint of heart... it's a bit extreme on the smoke flavors and certainly not a session beer, but for anyone looking to try new beers, definitely pick one up.

Taste: A-
Value: B

Porter on FoodistaPorter

Monday, February 8, 2010

Parish Brewing - Round 2

Alright, back in November Andrew Godley, founder and owner of the upstart Parish Brewery, invited myself and a few friends to come taste his beer and offer up opinions.   On that first visit we were all very impressed overall with the quality of the beer and the dedication Andrew showed towards his project.  And by how tolerant his wife was with all the time it took to perfect his beer!  Despite that though, there was room to improve, and improve is exactly what Andrew did between our two tastings.

This second time around Jay, Eusebio, and I all returned along with our friend and beer geek Dustin Davis.  Instead of meeting Andrew at his house we met him at his new brewery, a rented piece of warehouse space he has been working on converting into a working nanobrewery.  The space was coming along nicely, and there were 4 beers kegged and waiting on us to taste, plus we got to check out his fancy new tap-handle, which is really a thing of beauty!  You can check out Jay's thoughts on the second visit here, and don't tell him, but I might steal a few pictures! (Mine came out like crap... damn iPhones...)

We started with a tasting of the Bierre Blanc, which is described as "Hybrid light beer, crisp, clean, refreshing, and perfect for a crawfish boil!" and I agree.  It has a great balance of hops in it, refreshing is a perfect adjective to use, and I could see this one being a hit in Louisiana, especially through our notoriously hot and long summers.  I believe Andrew is pretty well set on his recipe and I think this one will be a great mainstay of the lineup just as it is.  It's not going to blow away the beer geeks and hopheads looking for that next imperial super extra coffee mocha porter, but not every beer needs to be or even should be 'extreme' or pushing the envelope.  The world needs delicious sessionable lagers like this Bierre Blanc to keep it all in balance, and this is certainly a fine example of creating a lighter beer without sacrificing the 'beer' in the process.

Second in line was the new and improved Canebrake Ale, an American style wheat ale highlighted by Louisiana sugarcane!  I enjoyed this one the first time around, but we all agreed it needed a little more sugarcane flavor to it.  Andrew obliged us and this new batch was much heavier on the cane molasses.  It was certainly an improvement in my opinion, but Andrew I believe wasn't satisfied with the recipe quite yet.  I think he's really close to putting together a fantastic amber ale with just the right amount of sugarcane flavor balanced with the hops present in all of the Parish brews.  Believe me, we were just getting started on the hops.

Third of the four was the Parish Primo Pilsner, an amazingly clear and light colored beer that packed quite the punch behind it's innocent appearance.  What might be most amazing is the clarity in the pilsner despite the lack of filtering, but still that doesn't compare to the delicious aroma and taste of hops this beer provides.  I don't think I've ever been as shocked at the difference between how the beer looks (and how I expect it to taste as a result) and how it actually tastes.  This one really captures the noble hop essence of what a pilsner should be, a fantastic beer and another one that Andrew doesn't need to mess with it at all.

Fourth up was the Envie American Pale Ale (APA) and in my opinion, the best was saved for last.  This one is a darker amber color, with a delicious malty and hoppy aroma and the flavor to back it all up.  It really captures the perfect balance between caramel sweetness of the malts and the bitter citrus flavor of the hops.  Too often beers are way too heavy on either the malt of hop profile but the Envie APA is perfectly perched in the middle.  If I remember right (I had been drinking, you know) Andrew said that this recipe had won some homebrew competitions, and I think it could be winning some full scale brewing competitions before too long.  Another one that is good to roll out as it is, you can bet I'll be anticipating the day I can order one of these in the local bars.

All in all I think Parish Brewing has three beers that will be huge hits locally when they are rolled out.  I think the Canebrake could be a huge seller as it is, but Andrew is going to work on it a little more and I agree with him that of these four, it's the one that still needs some tweaking to satisfy the goal of the perfect beer.  One thing that stood out to me is that among the five of us there was no consensus on which beer was the best.  This tells me that Parish Brewing is definitely on the right track to putting out a superb lineup of beers and not just one great flagship beer and a bunch of middle of the road filler brews.  All of these four clocked in around 5% abv, making them great for sharing a pitcher or ordering a round of pints while watching sports.  I know there are some bigger beers in the works, including the IPA and Barleywine, so hopefully I'll be back at Parish sometime soon to taste those!

Great work Andrew!

You can also check out Parish Brewery on facebook to keep up to date with the progress!