Monday, October 25, 2010

Hitachino Nest White Ale Spotting!

After work Friday I realized my beer supply was dangerously low, and LSU had an away game on Saturday leaving me a chance to try some new brews.  So... I was on my way to Calandro's on Government (I know Seigen has the better selection, but Government is so much closer!) to check out the brews.  

There were a few new ones that I picked up, but what I was most excited about were bombers of the Hitachino Nest White Ale!  This beer has been a fixture in my Top 10 beers list, and I featured it from Japan in the World Cup Of Beer.  The problem is, it can be hard to find, as it tends to not stay on the shelves too long.  A few local sushi joints carry the beer, but it's usually rather absurdly marked up.  I believe it's $8 at Rock N Sake for a 12 oz. bottle, but the bomber (usually either 750 ml or 25 ounces) was only $9.69 at Calandro's.  A good deal for this world class beer.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Gulf Shores / Orange Beach - Part 3

I'd be remiss if I didn't conclude the beer adventures of the Alabama Gulf Coast with two beers widely available at any place we went: Yuengling and Landshark lagers! 

Yuengling has a near legendary following in Baton Rouge and around the country, and I have to attribute this to nostalgia.  Or in the case of Baton Rouge, lack of availability.  As far as beers go, it's a middle of the range lager, certainly a step up from the Buds and Millers of the world but not a world-class brew.  
Yuengling is America's oldest brewery, originating in 1829 in Pottsville, PA, surviving prohibition, and has expanded to become one of America's largest breweries.  They now produce over 2 million barrels of beer annually among their several breweries, and maybe one day soon we'll see Yuengling in the Baton Rouge market?

Landshark Lager, a Jimmy Buffett creation, is without a doubt the flagship beer of the Alabama Gulf Coast, and with good reason.  The beer is "produced" by Margaritaville Brewing Company, which is actually just a marketing company.  The reality is that Landshark Lager is an Anheuser-Busch product cleverly marketed using the Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville brand.  It's really a brilliant move, and the beer dominates the market in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.  It doesn't hurt that it's branded as a beach beer, and Jimmy Buffett and his family is closely associated with the region.
As for the beer itself... eh... skip it.  Nothing more than a macro lager with hints of 'cerveza' and marketed as an 'Island Lager.'  Trust me, there's nothing special about it.
And that concludes the quick beer tour of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach... some definite highs when Jay and I found some fantastic beer unavailable in Baton Rouge, but as a whole this isn't a beer nerd's dream destination.  Not that there's anything wrong with hitting the beach with a margarita in hand!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Gulf Shores / Orange Beach - Part 2

One of my favorite things to do when traveling is to hit up local beer & liquor stores and see what's available that I can't find in BR, or the semi-regular beer runs to Houston.  After breakfast Jay and I found one that was open in Gulf Shores, and decided to check out the selection.  

We knew we didn't have a whole lot of time to spend hanging out drinking at the suite, but still we figured a couple of six-packs was a good idea, right? 

Jay and I decided on some Tommyknocker Imperial Nut Brown Ale, and Bell's Two Hearted Ale.  We had both tried another Tommyknocker beer the day before and enjoyed it, and I've been hearing great things about the Bell's Two Hearted for years.  

First for the Tommyknocker Imperial Nut Brown Ale... I poured it from a 12 oz. bottle into a straight glass. Not ideal but it's the best option here! Has a cola appearance, small head but I'll give it some leeway.

I really like the smell. Delicious malt flavor and the alcohol is mild. The taste is good but a little thin on the mouth. Same malt flavors but nothing else happening. Again, can't pick up the high abv.

All in all I'm happy with this one. Definitely worth a try and better than the average nut brown ale.
My rating: B

Now for the Bell's Two Hearted Ale!  Just like the Tommyknocker brew, I had to use a straight glass, as that was the best option at the condo in Gulf Shores. Next time I'm bringing my own glassware, especially when I have all sorts of room to pack stuff and I know I'll be looking to try some different brews. 

The beer poured a deep yellow color with a big fizzy head... definitely a good looking beer!  There is a great nose to it, full of mild hoppiness with a malt balance. The taste is more of the same blend of hops and malt. I really like the balance this beer displays and would recommend it whole heartedly to anyone trying to get into hoppy beers.

If anything, it reminded me a lot of Parish Brewing's En Vie APA that I was able to taste a while back.  It's the same style, and really had the balance between hops and malts nailed.

My rating: A-

Two good choices, in my opinion, and next time I'm over there, I'm definitely going to try some other new ones, and stock up on some Bell's!