Saturday, December 31, 2011

The BR Beer Scene 2012 Resolutions

2011 was a great year, as I talked a bit about yesterday, and along with all that drinking came a lot of hits, website success, and also a little weight gain.

In 2012 I know I'm not going to stop drinking... it's just not going to happen even without the 365 new beers goal or trying to visit different breweries.  I just enjoy beer (and whiskey) too much to quit.  I am, however going to try to limit my drinking by imposing a new "rule" upon myself that I have to walk a mile for every "drink" I consume.  

That's right, I have a pedometer on order and once I figure out my stride length and how many steps are in a mile I can start counting it up and seeing where I'm at.  The average person walks about a mile a day naturally, but I have a pretty sedentary day job so I might not ever be at that number.  So the goal will be, of course, to monitor my miles walked, and always keep ahead of the curve as I also track all of my drinks consumed.  

As far as "drinks" go, here are my guidelines to follow:
  • One normal beer (7% or less) in a pint or less quantity is equal to one drink.  I know there's a lot of variation between a 12 oz. Michelob Ultra and a pint of Stone IPA but it would be a real pain to count all those calories so one beer = one mile for this one.
  • One normal beer (7% or less) in a bomber or 750ml is equal to two drinks.  I drink plenty of bombers so this will likely come into play. 
  • One strong beer (over 7%) in a pint or less quantity is equal to two drinks. 
  • One strong beer (over 7%) in a bomber or 750ml is equal to four drinks.
  • Any beer over 12% is triple in value to a normal beer.
  • Two tastes of whiskey (as in, the Raise A Glass tourney) will be equal to one drink.
  • One pour of whiskey (or other liquor) will be equal to one drink.
  • A double pour is of course equal to two drinks.
  • Any whiskey mixed with a sugar-filled beverage will be doubled in value.  (Diet drinks or water do not double the value.)
  • A glass of wine (approximately 5 ounces) constitutes one drink. 
  • A full bottle of wine equals 5 drinks.
  • Each size up on a daiquiri/margarita will be one drink.  Small = 1, medium =2, large = 3, extra large = 4, etc... unless they are the sugar-free variety, then cut it in half.
Sharing is allowed.  If I split a bomber with a friend it only counts as half that bomber's worth.  Sharing of any other beverages can be distributed appropriately, as it pertains to bottles of wine especially. For beer tastings, the standard pour will determine the amount of drinks.  A 4 ounce pour is 1/4 of a pint and 1/4 of a beer if it's standard.  And so on...

So, that's the plan... a mile per drink all year long.  I might get a little behind at first with New Year's day football and all the bowl games on Jan. 2nd, and then the BCSCG on Jan. 9th, but I'll catch up on the miles.  I promise!

Cheers, and here's hoping you all have a fantastic 2012!

Friday, December 30, 2011

The BR Beer Scene Year In Review - 2011 Version!

Hey everyone!  

I must say it has been a fantastic year for my blogging and beer drinking habits, as I look back on all of the "resolutions" I set for myself at the beginning of 2011.  Did I accomplish all of them?  Honestly, no, I didn't.  Let's take a quick look though before I get into some goals for 2012.
  1. Visit at least 6 breweries.  I accomplished this one, visiting the Tin Roof Brewery in Baton Rouge, Parish Brewery in Broussard/Lafayette, Freetail Brewery in San Antonio, Saint Arnold Brewery in Houston, No Label Brewery in Katy, and the Bozeman Brewery in Bozeman.  Each of them presented a unique experience and I would (and almost certainly will) visit them all again!
  2. Get published somewhere other than my blog.  Hmmm, in a way I did accomplish this as the Raise A Glass radio show featuring myself and Jay Ducote of is on the air and published on iTunes.  It wasn't really the point of the goal, but I suppose it does meet the letter of the law. 
  3. Keep Homebrewing.  Mission accomplished here, I brewed several beers throughout 2011 and also a mead.  I plan on doing even more homebrewing in the future now that I'm done with resolution #7 which you'll see later! 
  4. Enter a Homebrew contest.  I never really did this, but I did serve some homebrews at the Tin Roof Homebrew Appreciation Night.  Still though, I can't say that counts because it wasn't a contest, just an open house/tasting.  Strike 1. 
  5. Drink a beer stronger than I ever have before.  This was accomplished twice over... once with the Brewdog Tokio* Imperial Stout and also with the Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA.  Check!
  6. Continue to get in better shape and lose weight as I simultaneously continue to enjoy beer and write about it.  Well, I can't honestly say that I accomplished this one.  I didn't gain much, but I am up about 5 pounds from the start of the year.  So crap... strike 2. 
  7. There are 365 days in 2011... I think I should try 365 new beers.  This was the big one, and I accomplished it with flying colors, drinking around 460 (and counting for another day) new beers this year.  I finished it off with a Westvleteren 12 as number 365 back in October.  I did fall behind in blogging about all the beers, but can you really blame me? That's a lot of brew! 
So there you have it... 7 resolutions, 5 success stories and 2 strikes.  I guess it takes 3 strikes to be out, so I'll keep on blogging about beer! 

My goals for 2012 will be a lot simpler and mostly focus on that Resolution #6 that I failed to accomplish but also some aspects of the rest.  Check back tomorrow for that post! 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Authentic Beverages vs. the Texas ABC - ruling announced!

Earlier this year Authentic Beverages (not sure exactly who they consist of but I think Freetail Brewing, Jester King, and a few others were part of the lawsuit) put forth a lawsuit against the Texas ABC declaring portions of their Alcoholic Beverages Code to be unconstitutional.  Earlier today the judge in the case sided with Authentic Beverages regarding half of the lawsuit, and with the Texas ABC on the other half.

So, what does this mean to consumers like me who might be in Texas looking to buy/drink some beer?  Honestly, not much yet.  It does allow the breweries to properly name their beers with regards to style, as well as display the alcohol content.  They are also allowed to direct customers to locations that carry their beer which was previously illegal.  

The lawsuit was hoping to also do away with restrictions preventing the breweries from selling directly to the consumers but this part was unfortunately the part that was not ruled unconstitutional.  It's a step in the right direction though, and look for more legislation in the future regarding this part of the issue.  All in all, although it might not affect us over here too much, it's still a good step and proof that the small breweries CAN indeed get things done legally to help the world of craft beer.

For more reading on the subject:'s post about the case.
Jester King's blog post/press release.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Stone Brewing 2012 Special Release Dates!

Hey everyone, I was just browsing, because I'm a masochistic SOB and I enjoy reading about all the beers we can't get in Baton Rouge.  Seriously, the first page of news includes beers from Goose Island, Russian River, Summit, Victory, and Lost Abbey.  We can't get any of those in Louisiana and only Victory (and maybe Summit?) over in Texas.  There was one item of interest to those of us down here, the Stone Brewing 2012 Special Release Dates!  I don't know that all of them will find their ways to our shelves, but in 2011 the Anniversary Ale and Vertical Epic did for sure. Here you go:

Stone Old Guardian Barleywine – Feb 13th
Stone Imperial Russian Stout – April 16th
Stone 16th Anniversary Ale – August 13th
Double Bastard Ale – October 29th
Stone Vertical Epic – 12.10.12
So, be on the lookout for any of those on the shelves around those dates, and drink up!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

New Breweries Every Day! (well... almost...)

Much thanks to Dustin Davis for bringing this article to my attention via his blog, Sports on Tap!  Apparently there have been 50 new breweries opened up in the last two months across the United States.  FIFTY!  That seems like an awful lot for just two months, but I'm not going to complain.  Unfortunately none of them are in Louisiana, but there are a couple in Texas so maybe I'll get a chance to try their beers or check them out soon?  

First up is a nano-brewery out of Beaumont called Cornel's Brewing Company.  Apparently they debuted with a Mexican-style lager but have some much more interesting beers in the works such as a Pecan Pie scottish-style ale, a vanilla porter aged in bourbon barrels, a rye pale ale and a "Smokin' Hot Blonde" that will be aged with roasted poblano peppers.  Now some of those really sound intriguing and I'm going to have to make a pit stop in Beaumont on one of my future Houston trips and see what I can find!  (Yes, the articles say they released their first beer in July, so I'm not sure why they would count as opening in the last two months... but they are on the list?)

Also new in Texas is a brewery called Wicked Beaver Brewing in the town of Wolfforth.  Just where the fuck is Wolfforth you ask?  Well, a google map search (yeah, I had no clue either) shows that Wolfforth is in the middle of nowhere.  Zoom out a few times and it turns out the Wolfforth is not too far from Lubbock in the Texas panhandle.  They take pride in brewing their beers with no automation (so really a commercial scale homebrewer, awesome!) and they started off strong with a Black Ale as their first beer.  Very nice!
I know there are a few coming closer to home as well... I haven't heard much news about the Pelican Brewing Company or Iron Rail, but they've got to be getting closer to being on the market.  Add in new brewing facilities for Bayou Teche and Parish Brewing and it's still an exciting time for craft beer drinkers in Louisiana as well.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Brewery Review: Left Coast Brewing Company

Alright, time to talk about a brewery instead of a specific beer!  Left Coast Brewing started distributing to Texas back in August, so if you're ever at Spec's over there look for a few of their regular lineup plus maybe a seasonal or two!  The first one I tried was the Hop Juice Double IPA, probably their signature beer, and it was well received among all of the IPAs we had lined up at the IPA Day tasting!  I need to try it again in a more isolated setting and really appreciate a good beer.

Since then I've also had the chance to try the seasonal Una Mas Amber Lager and the year-round Voo Doo Stout.  Both beers also impressed, but especially the Una Mas which really had a lot of flavor for the typically less than powerful style.  The Board Walk Saison, a summer seasonal was also a pretty solid beer and the year-round Trestles IPA was good but not quite as impressive as the Hop Juice Double IPA.


The next chance I get I'd like to try their year-round Asylum Tripel and the other two seasonals, the Wedge Black IPA and Ale Epeteios Imperial Stout really look appealing to me.  Maybe one day these guys will be in Louisiana.  Expansion from California to Texas is a step in the right direction.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Cooking With Cholula Hot Sauce - Part 2

Alright, a couple of posts ago I made some spicy fajitas with some Cholula chili garlic hot sauce and washed that down with a Nogne O Imperial IPA.  I was itching to try another one of these Cholula flavors so it was time for some chili lime pork!  This really was a pretty simple dish... pork tenderloin filets, with some olive oil, Slap Ya Mama cajun seasoning, one lime juiced up, and then the chili lime hot sauce! 
While the pork was cooking (about 45 minutes in the oven on 375) it was time for a side, dish, so I whipped up some lentils real quick and boiled them in a little crab boil for an extra kick.  With about five minutes left for the pork I added some shredded cheese because who doesn't like cheese?  Shortly after that, a quick spicy dinner was served.
 I'd recommend another IPA with this dish, something fresh and hoppy to work well with the spices and the lime.  And just because this dish has some lime, don't just grab a cheap Mexican import and throw a lime in it.  Please!  Cheers!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Westvleteren 12 in the United States - Update!

It looks like the talk of Westvleteren 12 making it's way to the United States is more than just talk.  Recently they have submitted (and had approved) the labeling for the bottles in our market.  They can get away with just a custom bottle and a cap in Belgium but the rules here are a lot more strict and bottles have to contain certain information about the beer.  The craft beer guys over at are all over this Westvletern 12 stuff.  Or, Westvleteren XII as it turns out.

Here's a look at a possible front label for the bottles which are expected out in Spring 2012:

And here's the possible back label:

Now the real question is, how much will these gift packs cost?  The rumors have them wholesaling for $50 to $60, so I think a $100 price tag for the pack of 6 bottles and two glasses is what we should expect.  Will I still buy one?  Absolutely... but probably just one at that cost.  How about you?  Post a comment and let me know if you'd be in the market for $100 per gift pack.

Friday, December 2, 2011

New BR Beer Scene Logo!

Hey everyone, just a quick post to show off the new BR Beer Scene logo.  It's about time I put one together and now it'll represent Baton Rouge while the previous title logo on the site was a bar in Seattle!  A very awesome bar for the beer drinkers among us, but still in Seattle.

The title version is up above, but here's the regular version as well:

Let me know what you think about it!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cholula Hot Sauce & Nogne O Imperial IPA

A few weeks ago I received a set of four hot sauces from Cholula, a Mexican company claiming to be the "flavorful fire" so I figured it was time for a little cooking and beer pairing.  The 4-pack of sauces came with the original flavor, chili lime, chipotle, and chili garlic.  I had some fajita beef on hand, so I figured a garlic and jalapeno beef fajita with some chili garlic hot sauce would be pretty tasty... especially paired with the right beer!

The recipe itself was pretty simple, diced up pieces of beef with some olive oil, minced jalapenos and garlic, Cholula chili garlic sauce, and a little Slap Ya Mama cajun seasoning.  I blackened the beef in a cast iron skillet while I debated which beer would be good with some fajitas.  With the hot sauce, another round of hot sauce coming, and the cajun seasoning, I anticipated a bit of a spicy fajita, so I opted to go for a Nogne O Imperial IPA (@nogneo).  I figured a big hoppy beer would counter the spice well and help quench a little bit of burning between bites.

 After the meat was done cooking it was fajita time... a few black olive slices, a generous helping of shredded cheese (4 cheese Mexican blend!) and a little more garlic chili Cholula hot sauce completed each one.  They ended up really nice, spicy and flavorful which was complimented well by the extra hoppy Nogne O beer.  

Cheers, and always remember to drink well when you eat well!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Review: Stone Vertical Epic 11/11/11

I'm rushing this review out because it's a beer from Stone Brewing (@stonebrewingco) still on the shelves at a few local places like Calandro's (@calandrosmkt for you twitter people, where I bought a bottle) and probably a few other usual suspects when it comes to more limited beer releases. 

This is the tenth release of the Stone Vertical Epic series, starting on 02/02/02 and culminating next year on 12/12/12.  I guess they thought of the idea a year too late to start in 01/01/01, but oh well, still plenty of beer to enjoy!  The main point of "Vertical Epic" is the idea of a vertical tasting.  In beer terms, and probably wine as well, a vertical tasting is going through and tasting many successive years of the same beer release.  This of course requires the patience and storage to age beers for years and the money up front to buy beers that you might not drink for, in this case, a decade.  Recently I've been working on increasing my beer cellar so of course another one of these will be added for aging, and to be drank when the 12/12/12 Vertical Epic from Stone is released!

Now on to the beer itself... of course I had to buy one for immediate consumption!  This one is a "chile beer" which just means that it has some chile peppers in there but doesn't really describe the base of the brew.  For this one I poured into an imperial pint, but I think a snifter would be even better for next time, or for anyone who tries one after reading this. 

It's a ruby red color, clear with a couple of fingers of off white head. There isn't much lacing but some good looking pooling on the surface of the beer.  I let it warm a few degrees before drinking because the fridge is at 37 and that's just too cold for a good beer like this.  Once the beer fridge / kegerator is up and running I'm going to be keeping it right around 45 degrees, which is much better for a tasty beer.

The smell is rather malty with some strong cinnamon notes. There's a little Belgian floral hop note in there as well. Pretty appetizing. The taste is a lot more chile in there with a flavor that closely resembles a Belgian dubbel. I'm a big fan of the interaction. It's very easy to drink with a minimal alcohol note despite a strong 9.4% abv and the chile flavors really enhance the rest of the taste.

Another winner from Stone, grab one of these if you can, the price was very reasonable (I think $7 or $8 if I remember right.) I felt higher about it than the BeerAdvocate community, but at a decent price it's absolutely something worth trying.  If you really aren't sure about a chile beer, buy one to try and if you like it find another one to age.

My Rating: A

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Full Whiskey Tournament Field!

For those who missed out on the Raise A Glass Whiskey Tournament selection show on the radio over the weekend, here if the full field of 68, er, 64 whiskeys that are still alive! 
Click on the bracket for a full-sized version.

Please write in the comments, tweet me at @BRBeerScene, tweet the show at @RaiseAGlass, or post comments on my facebook page and let me know what you think about any of the match-ups.  In the event that the judging panel of myself, Jay Ducote, James Lawson, and Jeremy Spikes (with possible other guest panelists) are split on a vote, then the reader/listener participation is the tiebreaker. 

The field after the #1 seeds was set randomly, so there are some interesting first-round match-ups and some big-time upsets in the making.  Tell me what you think and who you think should win!

Here are the four sections of the bracket broken apart:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Raise A Glass - Season 2: The Whiskey Tournament

Hello everyone!  

I'm excited to announce that Season 2 of Raise A Glass will be premiering on Friday, Nov. 11th, at 6PM on WHYR radio 96.9, Baton Rouge.  For those that can't catch it on the radio, the show will also be up on iTunes shortly after appearing on the airwaves, and you can find the Raise A Glass iTunes page here!

In season 1, we developed some ideas for the radio show where we stuck to a topic every week and gave bits of info about the topic such as 'How It's Made' and 'Drinking In Time' and 'Liquor in Foreign Places' but we decided to try something a little different for season 2.  Instead of focusing on a new topic each week, we are going to have an overriding theme for the season, and in this case it's going to be whiskey!  

A few days ago it was time to record the first episode, so I got together with Jay Ducote, my co-host, brother, and the author of Bite And Booze, our producer James Lawson, and our good friend Jeremy Spikes to set the field of 64 whiskeys in our season-long whiskey tournament.  We had representatives from all over the world, although mostly from the United States, Scotland, and Ireland.  I cant reveal the entire brackets yet, you'll have to listen for yourself or check my blog out later, but I did want to get some feedback on a few first round matchups!

So, who do you have in the following preview matchups:
Lagavulin scotch vs. Cragganmore scotch?
Baker's bourbon vs. Booker's bourbon?
Black Bush Irish whiskey vs. Millar's Irish whiskey?

Reader/listener input through the season will help us determine the matchup winners, so let me know what you think, tell me what your favorite whiskey is, and what you would want as your top seeds, and those will get consideration for advancing.

All in all, I'm looking forward to this season, it should be a lot of fun discussing and comparing all the different whiskeys.  And maybe season 3 will be a beer tournament instead?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Could It Be? Westvleteren 12 in the Unites States?

Apparently unbeknownst to most people outside of Belgium, Westveletern had a crazy one-day large-scale release of Westvleteren 12 gift packs.  They released 98,000 "boxes" as they called them in an effort to raise money to restore parts of their abbey.  The one-day release apparently rivaled large release parties in the USA like Dark Lord Day and the Pliny the Younger release, except it was at a chain of stores across Belgium instead of just in one location!

What's of most importance to us, though, is the last tidbit... where this article is translated as saying, "Almost all revenue, 2.3 million will be devoted to the renovation. A similar formula should also be born abroad in 2012. Some 70,000 boxes should be sent beyond our borders."  Whoa... 70,000 gift packs of Westvleteren 12 leaving Belgium?  You have to assume that at least part of that will be coming to the United States, so keep tuned and keep on the lookout for this next year.  I'm sure it'll be a crazy event, I know I'll grab as much as I can even if it's $30 or so per pack, or whatever 25 Euros is exchanging to these days... probably more.  I paid $20 per bottle just to try it so a 6 bottle and 2 glass pack, hell yeah.  

Here's hoping this is true, I'd love to have a few of these in the fridge waiting for me when I get home.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Beer Travels: Bozeman Brewing Company in Bozeman, Montana.

Alright, time to finish off one of my New Year's resolutions with brewery trip #6 on the year, a visit to the Bozeman Brewing Company up in Montana!  After flying in, and a quick rest stop for lunch at Mandi's aunt's place, we headed to the brewery for their nightly open house.

 Apparently law in Montana allows the brewery to sell three pints per person (or one growler refill) per night directly, but only between the hours of 4 to 8.  I guess that's an interesting way to allow breweries to sell direct, but only in smaller quantities, or give daily growler fills to the locals.  So,  we picked out a table in their tasting room, and headed to the bar for the first round, the Amber Ale and Belgian Dubbel.

The space was a little small but it is a small town, and they had 8 of their beers on tap, some of the regulars it seemed plus a few special releases. I did like the atmosphere of the bar area / tasting room a lot and they had a handful of tables with barstools plus some popcorn available.

The beers were outstanding, and cheap! The regular pints were $3.50 and snifters of some of the special releases like their Imperial IPA and Barrel Aged Imperial Stout were only $5. I really liked the Imperial IPA a lot, and Mandi loved the Barrel Aged Imperial Stout which was aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels for a very different and interesting flavor.

The standards were quite good as well, and one of the real highlights was the fresh hop ale made from local hop varieties. It was a real treat and the epitome of drinking local.  Apparently Montana is a real hotbed for hops farms... I did not know that.

All in all a great experience and if I'm ever back in Bozeman I'll be stopping in to see what's new on tap. A must-try for any beer lover stopping through. And with that, I'm am done with another New Year's resolution!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Latest on Bandit Blonde from Tin Roof Brewing!

Hey everyone, just received this press release from the guys at Tin Roof Brewing.  It appears that the Bandit Blonde is about to roll out on tap in the area.  Here are the details:


BATON ROUGE, LA (November 3, 2011) - Tin Roof Brewing Co. is pleased to announce the launch of the highly anticipated Bandit Blonde Ale on draft in the  Baton Rouge area market.  Bandit Blonde Ale will be available at many local bars and restaurants starting Wednesday, November 9th…just in time for homecoming.
"We’re extremely excited to be rolling out this third brand," said William McGehee, Tin Roof co-founder.  "With all of the media attention Bandit Blonde received earlier this fall, we’re just glad to be able to finally offer it to our customers.”
The name Bandit Blonde pays homage to the famous defensive unit responsible for helping LSU bring home the 1958 National Championship.  The beer will be a light-bodied, crisp American blonde ale, perfectly suited for Tiger tailgating.
Official collegiate licensing for the beer is still in the works. However, Tin Roof has been working closely with LSU, and students have already been attending regular brewing sessions at Tin Roof throughout the semester as part of a new, brewing-based food science course.   The Louisiana Business and Technology Center, the LSU business incubator, has been assisting in business planning and marketing with its counselors and MBA graduate students.  The brewery also provides the LSU AgCenter with cattle feed.  Thousands of pounds of spent grain from the brewing process are sent to the dairy on a weekly basis. 

Tin Roof has pledged 10% of their Bandit Blonde sales to the LSU Foundation until the licensing reaches final approval. "This beer has been tied up in the licensing process for quite a while," McGehee said.  "We really wanted to get Bandit Blonde to fans this football season, and a draft launch was the only way to accomplish that goal as the official cans will take time to produce."
Tin Roof Brewing Company was founded in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and began operations in November 2010.  Tin Roof will now offer three flagship brands:  Bandit Blonde Ale, Perfect Tin Amber Ale, and Voodoo Bengal Pale Ale.   Perfect Tin is also available in cans.  Brewery tours are every Friday from 5:30-7:30.  For more information, follow Tin Roof on twitter or facebook, or please visit
So... less than a week away Tiger fans!  It's good to see the local guys adding a third beer to the lineup, and I hear they have some more extreme styles up their sleeves as well.  Now we just need to convince the NCAA to get their shit together and allow LSU to license the beer!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

"Raise A Glass" is now on iTunes!

Hey everyone!

"Raise A Glass" is radio program and iTunes podcast hosted by Eric Ducote, author of the Baton Rouge Beer Scene, and Jay Ducote, author of Bite and Booze, and produced by James Lawson.  Each episode the "Booze Brothers" from Baton Rouge, Louisiana discuss history, traditions, culture, production and consumption of different alcoholic beverages from around the world.  "Raise a Glass" is meant to educate the listener as well as entertain them and make them thirsty!  We hope you enjoy!

Show show currently airs on Fridays at 6 PM and replays on Sunday at 4 PM on Baton Rouge's Community Radio Station, WHYR 96.9 FM.

You can follow "Raise a Glass" on Twitter!

Your hosts, Eric & Jay Ducote.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Review: Full Sail Bump In The Night

It's been a while since I threw anything up here... almost two weeks and I'm sorry about that!  I just have time for a quick review before I head out to watch some Monday Night Football and the World Series Game 5, so here's the Full Sail Bump in the Night, one of their Brewmaster's Reserve series.

I know I've seen Full Sail Brewery (@fullsailbrewing) beers in Baton Rouge before, but I think it's been a while so I guess I wouldn't be surprised if they pulled out of our market.  I picked up this bomber from Spec's in Houston, so if I hear any news on their presence in Louisiana I'll pass on the word!

I poured from a bomber into a goblet, it has a dark brown appearance that shines a deep red when held up to the light. The head is pretty small but that's alright.

The aroma is malty with a little hop flavor to it. I catch more bitter hops at the beginning before the malts take over.  The flavor is a little more hoppy than the aroma, warm though and the bitter flavor lingers. It's good but not great, and it's tasty but not mind-blowing.  It's not too hoppy for an "American Dark Ale" or "Black IPA" or "Cascadian Dark Ale" or whatever this style is going by these days, but it's still very tasty.

Another solid beer from Full Sail.  A bunch of friends and I tried their Brewmaster's Reserve Hop Pursuit Pale Ale on IPA day a while back and really enjoyed it.

My Rating: B-
BeerAdvocate: B-

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

NOLA Can Release & Tin Roof Home Brew Appreciation Night!

Just a quick heads up about a couple of upcoming events in the Louisiana beer world! 

Thursday, October 27th - NOLA Brewing will be releasing their cans at a party at Tipitina's in New Orleans of course.  There will be live music, canned NOLA beer, and free limited edition NOLA coozies.  Check out The Beer Buddha's blog for a little more info.

Thursday, November 10th - Tin Roof Brewing will be hosting a Home Brew Appreciation Night at their brewery starting at 6 PM.  It's described as, "An evening celebrating our local craft beer culture and our appreciation for our Louisiana Homebrewers. All are invited to come out and sample a variety of home brewed beers, as well as your favorites from Baton Rouge’s very own Tin Roof Brewing Company." If anyone out there is a homebrewer and wants to contribute to the homebrew tasting, please email name, beer name, and style to by Nov 1. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Review: Dogfish Head Namaste

Time for a quick review of the Dogfish Head Namaste, a witbier originally brewed as a tribute to the 3 Fonteinen Brewery in Belgium in 2009.  As with pretty much all the Dogfish Head (@dogfishbeer) beer I've reviewed, I found this one at Spec's in Houston.  Maybe one day they will find their way into the Louisiana market, but I believe they are struggling to keep up with their current market after the publicity from the Brewmasters TV show.  Can't blame them for their success, though!

For this beer, I poured from a 750 ml bottle into a goblet, it's a gold color with a finger or so of white head. The aroma is a typical wheat beer with hints of wheat and coriander. The taste is a lot more spiced than the aroma, with strong notes of citrus and coriander. Very light and refreshing. It's a good beer, but it's nothing amazing and probably not worth the price tag or the search.
For locally available options that might be most similar to this one, I'd try the St. Bernardus Witbier, Hitachino Nest White Ale, and of course Hoegaarden.

My Rating: B+

Friday, October 7, 2011

Pumpkin Beer Time! - Wasatch & Dogfish Head

Alright alright, it's time for some pumpkin beers!  The first two I've tried this season have both been quite impressive, the Wasatch Pumpkin Ale and the Dogfish Head Punkin Ale.  

The good news for all of you local readers is that the Wasatch Pumpkin Ale can be found in stores around Baton Rouge.  Wasatch is part of the Utah Brewing Cooperative along with Squatters and both are relatively new to the Baton Rouge market. 
Poured into a pint glass, it's a slightly hazy orange-amber color with a finger or so of white head. It dissipated quick with no lacing. 

The smell is where this beer impresses me the most so far. It has a rich pumpkin flavor with delicious spices reminiscent of a holiday pie. Awesome. The flavor is very much like the aroma, a thick pumpkin pie flavor ripe with spice. It's not terribly complex but it's tasty.

It's light to medium bodied which fits the session nature of this one. Actually pretty impressive considering the low 4% abv. All in all, this is very well done, one of my favorite pumpkin beers despite the low alcohol content which usually translates to low flavor, but not in this case.

My Rating: A-

Also on the list this fall, the Dogfish Head Punkin Ale... unfortunately this one can't be found in Baton Rouge, but if you're making a trip to Houston or know someone there have them stop at Spec's and pick up some 4-packs.  That's where I found a few and they should still be available.

Poured into a pint glass from a 12 oz bottle, it's a clear amber color with a small white head. Not much retention or lacing to it but the color is spot on for what I would want out of a pumpkin beer.

The aroma is malty with a good compliment of pumpkin spice. It's not overly sweet and not overpowering, which works pretty well. It smells quite rich overall. The taste is a lot more sweet up front than the aroma, then fades to the pumpkin spice flavor I picked up earlier. You can definitely tell that this beer has a brown ale base and the cinnamon and nutmeg come through as well.

It's a medium bodied beer that's super easy to drink with a well masked alcohol content. Contrasting with the 4% alcohol in the Wasatch, this one is a pretty robust 7% alcohol.  

My Rating: B+

There are two other pumpkin beers I'm really excited to try as well... Brooklyn's Post Road Pumpkin Ale which should be available in Baton Rouge, and Saint Arnold's Pumpkinator which might or might not make it our way.  This one is based on the Divine Reserve #9, and will be released soon in bombers.  We got a handful of the last Divine Reserve so maybe this beer will see our shelves as well?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mission Accomplished - 365 with Westvleteren 12!

Alright, as I'm sure anyone who follows this blog knows I set out at the beginning of the year to drink 365 new beers (to me) in 2011.  As I started closing in and it became apparent that I was going to reach this goal I started thinking about what I should finish with.  Naturally I wanted to finish with one of the best beers available so I took a look at BeerAdvocate's top 100 list and #1 is still the Westvleteren 12.  Number two, Pliny the Younger, is only available on tap at the Russian River brewpub so I guess that's out.  Number three... eh, screw it, I'm going for number 1!

After a quick look at e-bay I saw that prices on the Westvleteren mixed 6-packs were about $120 with free shipping.  That looked like a good deal so I pulled the trigger and after the arrived invited some friends over to partake in three of the best beers in the world.  Wesvleteren beers come from the Westvleteren Brewery (or Brouweirj Westvleteren) which was founded in 1838 at the St. Sixtus abbey in Belgium.  Of course Westvleteren is one of the seven Trappist breweries that exist as non-profits to fund the Abbey and it's philanthropic causes.  I know buying them second-hand like this does nothing to help their cause... but still, not much other choice if I want to try this one soon.

So, armed with a set of Trappist glassware thanks to Blake of Brasseurs A La Maison we started out with the Westvleteren Blonde Ale.  This one comes in an unmarked bottle (as they all do) with green labeled caps.  It's a Belgian Pale Ale, and as you can see on the caps, clocks in at 5.8% abv.  (Get ready for some "beer porn" in this post...)

Alright, now we're talking... this one pours a hazy golden yellow with a small amount of head and decent lacing.

The smell definitely has a little bit of a Belgian characteristic funk to it. Very earthy and grassy with some slight hop tones and spice. The taste has some good citric notes to it that compliment the earthy body very well. Other spices come through in a smaller way as well as a pretty heavy hop bitterness at the end.

A very nice mouthfeel might even be the standout characteristic of this beer. The body and carbonation are perfect for the style and it's a real pleasure to drink. This beer wasn't the best I've ever tried, but we had the 8 and 12 waiting so it's a great first taste of Westvleteren.

Trappist Westvleteren Blonde:
My Rating: A-
BeerAdvocate: A-

Up next, the Westvleteren 8, an 8% abv Belgian Dubbel that I was really excited to try.  This is their blue capped beer and I poured my taste into a Rochefort goblet.  It's a murky brown color with a finger or so of head that dissipated pretty quickly. The color is exactly what you'd want from the style.

The nose is great, caramel and dark fruits with a sweet inviting tone to them. Very little hops and no alcohol presence at all. The yeast funk present from the blonde ale is still here but the sweeter notes push it to the background.

The taste is a great carry-over from the aroma, rich and sweet with contrarian sour notes that balance perfectly. There is still a noticeable funk from the yeast strains and a slight hop flavor but they are both minimized by the excellent taste up front.

Just like the Blonde, this one is a real treat to drink, the carbonation and body are spot on and the alcohol is barely there. A fantastic dubbel, one of the best I've ever drank. If I lived in Belgium I'd have these in the fridge non-stop.

Trappist Westvleteren 8:
My Rating: A+
BeerAdvocate: A

Up next, the culmination of the Westvleteren line and of my 365 in 2011 quest... the Westy 12.  This one is a Belgian Quad in style, 10.2% alcohol and considered to be the best beer in the world... will it live up to the hype?

It's a cloudy brown color very similar to the 8, with a finger or so of off-white head. The aroma is heavenly, a blend of toffee, dark fruits, rich caramel, spices, a little floral hops, and just a slight tinge of alcohol. It's inviting, warm, and top notch.

The taste is more of the same, rich with flavors, each bursting through but none overpowering. It's like everything you would want in a good quad is there, toffee, dark fruit, floral hops, esters, a slight yeast funk, brewing spices... it's all there but nothing in so much quantity that it takes away from the rest.

A pure joy to drink, there's a reason this beer is considered by many to be the #1 beer in the world. I was worried it wouldn't live up to all the hype, but it absolutely did, and everyone else tasting it felt the same way.

Trappist Westvleteren 12:
My Rating: A+
BeerAdvocate: A+

And with that, 365 beers down.  I'm thrilled with the way the Westvleteren beer tasting turned out to end it.  I was legitimately concerned that they wouldn't live up to the hype but they absolutely did.  I would highly recommend finding some (I know it's not legit, but unless you're going to Belgium sometime soon trading or e-bay is the only way) and sharing with a few friends.  You can also check out Jay's post about the Westvleteren beers, complete with video, over at Bite and Booze.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Review: Rahr & Sons Snowmageddon Imperial Stout

Time for something other than an IPA as I had been going a little crazy with the ultra-hoppy reviews.  This one is from Rahr & Sons Brewing Company out of Fort Worth, TX.  Rahr & Sons is a relatively new brewery, opened in 2004, but with a lot of history.  The great great grandfather of the brewery's founder originally founded the Eagle Brewery in Wisconsin in the mid 1800s and eventually became the Rahr Malting company which claims to supply about 90% of the breweries in the United States.  Well, alright then... certainly a brewing lineage to live up to.

I've had Rahr & Sons beers before on previous trips to Houston, but always on draft at places like The Flying Saucer or The Petrol Station.  I found this Snowmageddon Imperial Stout in a bomber at Spec's, so bring it on! 
Poured into a pint glass, this brew is a deep brown color with a large off-white head. Very nice looking beer! The aroma is rich and chocolatey, malty and strong. Another high mark here.

The taste is more of the same, bitter rich chocolate. It's a very nice imperial stout and the alcohol is well masked.  There is nothing overly complex about this one, but it's a damn fine beer and if I see it on tap when I'm out I wouldn't hesitate to order one up and see how the draft compares with the bottle.

My Rating: B+

Review: Dogfish Head Squall IPA

Alright, another quick review, this time of the Squall IPA from the now-famous Dogfish Head Brewery (@dogfishbeer) up in Delaware.  Unfortunately these guys don't distribute to Louisiana yet but they can be found all over Texas, including Spec's where I found a bomber of this beer.

It's a hazy amber color with a finger and a half of bubbly white head. This beer is described as a unfiltered bottle-conditioned version of the 90 Minute IPA which is one of the standards for imperial IPAs everywhere. 

It has a nice grapefruit hoppy smell, with a little caramel malt base to it. The taste is more of the same, a well balanced hoppy IPA with a solid base and lots of flavor.

Another good one from Dogfish Head, although I really feel like I'd rather spend my money on a 4-pack of the 90 Minute IPA than a bomber of this one.  It's not remarkably better in my opinion, but I'll have to try them side by side sometime in the future to really make a final call.

My Rating: B+

Monday, October 3, 2011

Review: Thomas Creek Up The Creek Extreme IPA

Alright, thanks to Roy Bergeron for bringing one of these back from Florida for me.  I'm not sure I'd ever heard of Thomas Creek Brewery out of South Carolina before, but after a little research it seems they also contract brew the BottleTree Blonde Ale that I tried a while back and didn't really care for.  Interesting... hopefully that contract brew isn't indicative of their own beers!

For this one, I served it from a 12 oz. bottle into a Homer Brewing Company snifter.  It's a very deep red color with a small tan head. The retention on the head is great, though, and very nice pooling and lacing on top of the beer.

The nose is very alcoholic and warm, with hints of toffee and then bold hop flavors. This is almost a barleywine to my nose, but that's a good thing. It's fantastic.  It's 12.5% alcohol, so the alcohol notes don't surprise me, but the toffee flavors do.

The taste is also very barleywine-esque in nature with a little more hops but still a warm alcohol kick and definite toffee notes. I really like it, but this isn't quite spot on for the style.

Delicious, just a little misleading to me.  I'm okay with breweries experimenting and not brewing exactly to style but it also can be confusing when they try to label their beer something that it's really not.  At the same time though, many times styles can be blurred and it's not like this isn't plenty hoppy enough to be considered an IPA!  

I'd absolutely drink it again, is the main point.

My Rating: B+

Review: Squatters IPA

Alright, time for a quick review of the Squatters IPA.  I've talked about Squatters once before, on the first installment of the Las Vegas trip when we hit up the Squatters Pub in the Salt Lake City airport.  Since then, Squatters and fellow Utah brewery Wasatch have come into the Baton Rouge market together as part of the Utah Brewing Cooperative.  These two (or one) are a welcome addition to the Louisiana beer market, and I've been seeing them around a lot lately.  Not too long ago Eusebio picked up some of the Squatters IPA from Bet-R so I figured I'd give it a try.  I didn't have this one back in the Salt Lake City airport, so it's another step closer to 365 in 2011.

As for this IPA, I poured from a 12 ounce twist-off bottle into a pint glass. The brew is a slightly hazy orange-gold color with maybe half a finger of head. It did leave some nice lacing, though.

The aroma is pretty well balanced, a good caramel malt base with a layered citrus and pine hop aroma. I like the way it smells a lot. The taste is not quite as balanced, the piney hops really come to the forefront and dominate the rest of the flavors really drowning them out. It's quite bitter but it's still a tasty brew, and a good hop-forward IPA.

The bitterness of the hops really lingers a good bit. It's a good beer for sure, I've always enjoyed the Squatters lineup based on that previous experience so I'm thrilled to have Squatters and Wasatch available locally.

My Rating: B+

Friday, September 30, 2011

Beer Travels: No Label Brewing in Katy, TX

Alright folks, time for a new installment of "Beer Travels" which is all about the fun places to drink beer outside of Baton Rouge.  I'd say the majority of these lately have been from Houston, and this one is only technically an exception as the ironically named No Label Brewing is located in Katy, a western suburb of Houston.  Last Saturday Mandi and I decided to go take in their 1-3PM tour/tasting and were met there by my cousin Philip.  

The place is a little tough to find if don't have good directions, located in an old grain silo compound just on the north side of Hwy. 90 in old-town Katy.  After we figured it out, and parked in the large open lot the "brewery" was right there in front of us.  It was a beautiful day and I was excited to try some beers and make it 5 brewery visits on the year!

The tasting was free, so after showing some ID (yes, Mandi is over 21) we had to wait a few minutes for 1:00 to roll around.  They were selling shirts and pint glasses, so we each bought a No Label pint glass for the tasting.  Similar to other tastings if you purchase a pint glass they will fill that up instead of the 4 ounce or so standard tasting.  I'm not sure I saw a single person without a pint glass in hand!  At 1 PM the beer started to pour so I started out with the Ridgeback Amber Ale, one of the two No Label Brews I hadn't tried before.

Not a bad beer at all, a murky extremely sessionable tasty amber ale.  I'd go back for more of these without thinking twice... and in fact I did!  After that I went for the other beer that I hadn't tried before, the Black Wit-O, a dark wheat beer with a hint of anise for a bit of a licorice kick.  It's also a 7% alcohol beer so only one was enough of this guy.  

After that one I tried two that I've previously tasted at The Petrol Station... the El Hefe Hefeweizen and the Pale Horse Pale Ale.  Both are fine examples of the style and equally refreshing on a warm summer day depending on your tastes.  The really neat thing about the whole tasting/tour was the laid back tailgate atmosphere of it all.  People were showing up with pop-up tents and bag chairs and lawn games as they chilled and drank some brews.  And there were also a good many LSU fans present as is typical with the Houston area.  All in all it was a great time and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for something to do on a Saturday in the Houston area.

Thanks No Label for a great time at brewery visit #5 on the year, and I'll definitely be back.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Reviews: Twisted Pine Hoppy Boy IPA & Northstar Imperial Porter

Alright, a couple of beers from Twisted Pine Brewing.  I was hooked up with the Hoppy Boy IPA by Clark Diehl at Uplifters Spirits, who specializes in German (and specifically Bavarian) imports, but he threw one of these in along with some of the German beers he gave me.  Thanks for that!

Twisted Pine brewing is out of Boulder, Colorado and I'm pretty sure I've seen the Hoppy Boy around town, but I don't recall seeing any of their other beers locally.  The other one in this post, the Northstar Imperial Porter, was one I picked up in Spec's in Houston. 

For the Hoppy Boy I poured from a 12 ounce twist-off bottle into an imperial pint.

It's a hazy copper color with a small white head. Good pooling on the surface of the beer, an average look for an IPA in my opinion.

The aroma is expectedly hop forward, with piney notes dominating. There is a slight bit of caramel back there as well. The taste is more of the same, bitter hops, not as much malt as the aroma, and a lingering bitter aftertaste.

It's a little thin, overall an average IPA.  I scored it a C+ which is maybe even a little low with the standard beer advocate inflated ratings, but I feel like this could be a good barometer for IPAs.  If you find one worse than this one, it's not a good IPA.  That sounds worse than I intend, but life is too short to regularly drink bad beer.  Or maybe even average beer.

My Rating: C+
BeerAdvocate: B-

Now for the Northstar Imperial Porter... this one I picked up at Spec's in Houston on a whim.  Sometimes they have such a huge selection that it's hard to pick out just a few beers and not go crazy so I usually stick to breweries that I know consistently put out good products.

I poured this brew from the bomber bottle (22 oz. folks!) into an imperial pint glass. It's a deep rich dark brown color with about a finger worth of creamy tan head. This is a great looking beer in my opinion.

The aroma is a little weak but what I do pick up is some roasted bitter dark chocolate malt notes. Nothing too special here.

The taste is a lot more bold, those same roasted malt flavors burst through and are followed by a cool bitterness that really balances out each sip.

It's thick and full bodied, the flavors linger well together on the tongue. Other than the weak aroma this is a really good beer.

My Rating: B+
BeerAdvocate: B+

So I guess it's a little mixed reviews on Twisted Pine Brewing... I'd definitely check them out again if I saw a beer that looked particularly interesting.