Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A tasting of the top 100 beers in the world, in New Orleans!

I know this is a blog about the beer scene in Baton Rouge, but one place I've really been wanting to check out that's close to home is the Avenue Pub in New Orleans.  As best I can tell they have the best craft beer and import selection on tap of anywhere in the state.  Not the biggest quantity, but the most harder to find and more sought after taps.   Starting tonight for the next four Wednesdays they will be hosting a tasting of a selection of beeradvocate's 100 best beers in the world!

From their website:

Top 100 beer Tasting series for April

Wed. March 31st 7pm balcony
  • Boulevard Saison Brett
  • Goose Island Night Stalker
  • Olfrabrikken Porter
  • St Bernardus Abbott 12
  • Deschutes Black Butte Porter
Wed. April 7th 7pm, Balcony
  • Lost Abbey Angel's Share
  • Russian River Pliny the Elder
  • Russian River Damnation
  • Oskar Blues Ten Fidy
  • Chimay Grand Reserve
Wed. April 14th 7 pm Balcony
  • St.  Bernardus Abbot 12
  • Goudens Carolus Cuvee Van de Kaiser
  • Supplication by Russian River
  • Consecration by Russian river
Wed. April 21st 7pm Balcony
  • Stone Ruination
  • Stone Imperial Russian Stout Vintage
  • Stone Double Dry hopped IPA
  • Stone Double Bastard (Vertical 3 yr tasting)

I highly encourage anyone who loves trying new beer to check these tastings out!  I believe the price is only $20 each, and I'm hoping to make it to at least the April 7th tasting.  The Lost Abbey Angel's Share and Pliny the Elder are two beers I'd love to try, although everyone on the list is sure to be fantastic.

So, check it out if you can, maybe I'll see some of you there!

And we're back with a new address!

Okay, so after a few frustrating days of dealing with fancy internet terms I don't really understand (like DNS settings and CNAME) the BR Beer Scene is back with a custom internet address!  At the same time, I also was able to switch the old Third Row Tailgaters site to a blogger hosted interface.  This will allow Jay, myself, and anyone else allowed permission to easily update and maintain the Third Row website!  I know there's not much there now, but that is sure to change in the coming days and weeks.  

In the meantime, it's good to have that internet jargon behind me and be back to posting about beer!  Cheers!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Drink Well, Do Good - 2010 Tour

Time for a quick departure from the world of beer to talk about some wine.  South African wine to be precise!  I've always known South Africa had good wineries and produced some fantastic wines but I don't think I've ever tried any before.  This past Monday I went to the International Society of Africans in Wine (ISAW) kick-off tasting for their 2010 Drink Well, Do Good tour.  Thanks to Jay for finding out about this event and securing us some invites!  ISAW's mission boils down to "reducing poverty in Africa through the business of wine" and I can't see anything wrong with that! 

Of course, in order to promote their mission, one critical ingredient is required... good wine.  Stephen Satterfield, co-founder of ISAW, was on hand to show off four of the wines represented by his organization.  We started off with a M'Hudi 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, a slightly fruity refreshing white wine from a black-owned winery in South Africa.  Certainly an impressive way to start off the night and open my eyes and taste buds to a new region of wine.  I went out of order next and followed up the white with the only red at the offering, a Seven Sisters 2008 Pinotage-Shiraz blend that I found to be fantastic.  Earthy, spicy, a little fruity with hints of butter, and even smoky, a delicious blend.  Syrahs tend to be my favorite varietal, so I was hoping I'd like this one and I certainly did.  I would absolutely look for this one in the stores and add it to the wine cellar at home.  After that I tried the Seven Sisters 2007 Sauvignon Blanc and although it was good I felt it didn't quite measure up to the same style from M'Hudi that I started with. Lastly was a wine I was excited about, the Seven Sisters 2009 Bukettraube, which is a grape not native to South Africa, but now nearly exclusively grown there.  This white wine was quite sweet and fruity, hints of pear for sure and other fruits come out as well.  It's not quite dessert-wine sweet, a little better balanced than that.  Intriguing would be the word I'd use to describe it.  All in all I was very impressed with the wine lineup.  Mission accomplished in using good wines to promote a good cause.

After learning more about the cause, and getting at least a second round of wine tasting in, it was time to depart.  And if you ever want to know how you know you're in New Orleans, it's when the president of the Museum (the Southern Food & Beverage Museum in this case) hosting the wine tasting hands you a plastic 'go cup' so you can take the last bit of wine with you.  Love it. 

The official Drink Well, Do Good tour kicks off next weekend in New Orleans, check it out if you can, it's certainly all about good wine and a good cause!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Brasserie de Blaugies - La Moneuse Spéciale Noël

I'll start off by saying that I don't know what half of that means.  Who would have thought that all that French I learned in high school would have exited my memory bank so soon.  What I do know is that this is a Belgian winter ale from the 'Brasserie de Blaugies' and it's technically classified as a Belgian Strong Pale Ale - one of my favorite styles.  Here is their website!  This might be my all-time favorite brewery website, taking 'keep it simple' to another level entirely.  What my old French teachers would be proud to know, is that I can gather from this site that they are a family-owned artisan brewery, they don't filter their beer, and use bottle-fermentation techniques.  Yummy.

On to the beer itself... it came in a 750ml bottle, poured into a Chimay goblet after a nice pop of the cork. The beer is an orange-red color with a huge creamy head. So far it looks like this one is on the fresh side!  I picked this up at the same time as the last beer I reviewed, the Blance de Saisis, and that one was lacking in the freshness department like sushi at a chinese buffet.

The nose is strong on the Belgian spices... definite orange flavors as well. Very nice. The flavor is more of the same, a little rough around the edges though... crisp but has some bite at the end. The Belgian spices come out, as well as the hops at the end, the overall flavor is earthy for lack of a better term. I like it, not the best Belgian ale ever but very very good. Great carbonation and mouthfeel as well, and even at 8% abv the alcohol is hardly noticeable.  I'll definitely be on the lookout for more from Brasserie de Blaugies at Calandro's and other places in town.

My rating: A
BeerAdvocate: B+

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Brasserie Ellezelloise Blanche De Saisis

After reading some reviews, it seems the "Tarwebier Biere de Froment van des Saisis" is the same as this... just a different same for the same beer from Brasserie Ellezelloise, a small Belgian farmhouse brewery I had never heard of before.  Okay, now that I have that figured out... this one had a brewed-on date of March 2008, so it had been aging for 2 years as of this review.  I hope that helps things rather than hurts.  Some beers are meant to be aged for years and only get better while others are best when as fresh as possible.  I believe a general rule is that the higher the alcohol content the better aging will be, and this one is at a modest 5.9% so I don't want to get my hopes up.

Poured into a Chimay goblet, not a lot of head, but a murky orange-brownish color to it. There is some lacing and creamy residue after what little head there was dissipated.  Smells very sweet, of caramel and spice and a definite alcohol presence on the nose. I love it. One of the best smelling beers I've put my nose to.
Very light body to it, not much carbonation, but the flavor is mostly the same as the smell... a bit of a skunky aftertaste unfortunately. I guess the aging didn't do this one too well. It's still not bad, just I know it used to be better... oh well, I'll be on the lookout for some fresh ones with the new label.

If you see this one, or any from Brasserie Ellezelloise they are probably worth checking out, but make sure you're getting some fresh beer and not something that has spent too much time on the shelves!
My rating: B
BeerAdvocate: B+

Thursday, March 4, 2010

"The 24 greatest cities in the world for drinking beer"

So, earlier today I stumbled across an article of sorts about "the 24 greatest cities in the world for drinking beer" and of course I was interested!  I was curious to see how many I have been to (that would be 11) and how many I'd been drinking in!  Unfortunately, that would be only 8 as my visits to Asheville, San Diego and San Francisco were in my younger non-drinking days. 

So, here are my thoughts on the 8 that made the list!  (In no particular order because the list is in no particular order...)

Dublin, Ireland
I certainly can't fault anyone for putting Dublin on their list of greatest cities to drink a beer, but I feel it's really an honor bestowed on Dublin for virtue of being the biggest city in Ireland.  This could just as easily be Galway, or Westport, or Dingle, or any small town in Ireland.  The whole country is crazy about beer and crazy about their pubs, with even the smallest of towns featuring multiple watering holes.  Sure, Dublin has the St. James Gate Brewery (total tourist trap) and more pubs that I can count (believe me I tried) but I'd focus more on the 'Ireland' than the 'Dublin' up there.

Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Really?  Atlanta?  Here is what they say: "Two award-winning production breweries operate in the city, Atlanta Brewing Company and Sweetwater, and brewpubs and great beer bars are scattered throughout. But for a real treat? Head to Decatur, where you'll find one of the nation's premier beer bars, the Brick Store Pub."  So, two breweries and a premiere beer bar that isn't even in the city proper qualifies for one of the 24 greatest cities to drink a beer in the world?  Yeah... no.  I think they threw Atlanta in as a nod to the growing beer scene in the South, but still, quite a stretch in my opinion.

Munich, Germany
I completely agree with this one, with a plethora of beer gardens, rich culture of drinking, famous locales like the Hofbräuhaus, and a little thing called Oktoberfest, Munich should make any top 5, let alone a top 24.  Atlanta boasts 2 breweries, Munich has 14 in the region, 6 in Munich proper... not to mention the brewpubs and beer bars.

Boston, Massachusetts
Alright, I'm really not all that well equipped to comment on Boston.  I've been there, I've drank there, and I've heard great things.  A quick search gives me 3 breweries in Boston (including Sam Adams, which is mostly brewed elsewhere, but still, it counts) and 7 brewpubs.  Not to mention countless beer bars.  I think it's a safe bet that Boston belongs on the list.  Really, this means I need to go back and pack my drinking shoes.

San Antonio, Texas, USA
Here's what the article says: "With its pedestrian-friendly climate and the Tex-Mex cuisine that invites pairing with good beer, the Riverwalk of San Antonio is a great city for beer drinking."  So I really think this one is included because of the place, not the beer.  Which is okay, but I find a hard time justifying a city with zero breweries and two brewpubs on this list.  It might be a spectacular place to grab a margarita or two to go with some chips and queso, but this one seems like it doesn't really belong.

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
After seeing San Antonio on the list I figured New Orleans would have to get a mention for the same reasons.  It's on the list primarily because of cheap huge-ass beers to go, no rules about open containers, bars that never close, and an infamous drinking culture.  New Orleans does feature two local breweries plus two regional beers on the North-shore.  Yeah, Dixie doesn't brew in New Orleans anymore after Katrina, but they are still a New Orleans founded brewery.  I suppose I can't argue that New Orleans isn't a great place to drink a beer, but in a totally different way than a place like Portland, Oregon or Brussels, Belgium. 

Seattle, Washington, USA
Other than New Orleans, this is my most recently visited city on the list.  In fact, the title image for this blog comes from a beer bar in Seattle called the Tap House Grill that featured 160 beers on tap.  According to BeerAdvocate, Seattle boasts 11 breweries and 15 brewpubs!  Eusebio and I visited the Pyramid brewery while we were there (great stuff) and had beers from several of the other ones.  I'll be headed back in July with Jay for our cousin's wedding so more drinking is sure to ensue.  Definitely a great city for any beer lover.

Baltimore, Maryland, USA
This one's similar to Boston for me, I've been there, I've had a few beers, but I don't really know enough to comment fully.  My first thought is that Baltimore probably doesn't belong.  Not when cities like London and New York are left off, not to mention that there is nothing from South America, Africa, Asia, or Australia on the list.  Upon further review, Baltimore is listed as having two breweries and 6 brew-pubs.  While not the worst choice on the list, it seems like a marginal choice at best.

And those are the cities on the list that I have been to and had a beer... next goal, make it to the rest of them!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

North Coast Cru D'Or

Here's another one from North Coast Brewing Company, a California brewery that thankfully is locally available!  A while back I did a review of the Brother Thelonius Abbey Ale, and before too long I'll be adding my review of their Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout!  I picked up a 4-pack of these guys from Marcello's going out of business sale. Hate to see a decent beer retailer go, but had to take advantage of the deals!

According to the BeerAdvocate site this one is considered a Dubbel in style, which is one of the traditional Belgian Trappist styles.  As you can see, I poured it into a Chimay goblet, always my glassware of choice for a Belgian-style ale.  It pours a murky brown color with a small off-white head that dissipated quickly into nothing.  The smell is strong, very floral with a little hint of caramel.

The taste is very similar, hints of caramel mixed in with a floral hoppy flavor. Definitely a Belgian ale here, trademark flavors are present. All in all a very good beer, as to be expected from North Coast. It doesn't measure up to the best Belgians of the style but it holds it own against American counterparts nicely.  Plus if anyone out there is into this sort of thing, it's an 'organic' beer!

My rating: B
BeerAdvocate: B

Monday, March 1, 2010

Meantime Coffee Porter

I found this beer from Meantime Brewing Company back during the Marcello's clearance sale.  I'd never heard of the beer or the brewery before, but trying new beers is what this is all about!  It comes in an odd little champagne-esque 11.2 oz. bottle that I poured into a pint glass... I've never been a huge coffee-beer guy, but here goes.  That's no reason not to give this English beer a try.

The beer poured a dark red color, with a two-finger or so creamy off-white head. It didn't dissipate quick, some lacing there... looks inviting.  It smells like coffee, there's no mistaking that.  The rich coffee odor dominates the nose, the only other thing I pick up is hints of chocolate, not surprising at all for a porter.  If you like the smell of a coffee shop, you'd probably love the smell of this beer.

The taste is strong bitter coffee at first, and that dominates the palate. Even get some rough coffee bean aftertaste at the end, all with a chocolate feel to it. Like drinking chocolate covered coffee beans is the best way to describe it.  Very nice, good mouthfeel, a little bitter aftertaste, but the medium body goes down pretty smooth.  This offering is not for a light beer drinker, and probably not a good gateway to the world of craft beers, but for one of my first experiences with coffee beers, I enjoyed it a good bit.

My final score: A-

I can't really comment on the value of this one... I got it on clearance sale and haven't seen them anywhere else in town that I remember.  If you do find some, it's certainly worth a try!

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