Saturday, July 30, 2011

Review: Boulevard The Sixth Glass Quad

Time for another review of a Boulevard Brewing (@boulevard_beer) Smokestack Series beer... I promise it'll be my last for a while as I'm sure you're sick of reading about beers you can't get in Baton Rouge.  That might be one of my biggest problems with this blog is that I've been doing a LOT of beer drinking in Houston and beer shopping in Houston, so BR Beer Scene is getting a little hazy.  I promise that I'll try to get better about this and hit up Calandro's and other local places to see what's new.
So far I've loved the Smokestack Series... I've covered the Double-Wide IPA, Long Strange Tripel, Chocolate Ale, Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale, Two Jokers Double-Wit, and the Seeyoulator Doppelbock and none received less than an A score from me.  I'm getting more and more picky so that's a pretty impressive track record. This Sixth Glass Quad has a lot to live up to, and quads are one of my favorite styles.
I poured the brew from a 750 ml bottle into a Chimay goblet. It's a hazy deep amber-red color with a small head and good lacing.  Definitely a good looking beer!

It has an alcoholic bubblegum smell to it. Pretty good but the other flavors don't come through as well. The more I stick my nose in it there is a little caramel in there but it's still pretty weak on the nose. 

The taste is better, sweet fruit flavors with a little hop spice. It's very bubbly with a strong alcohol flavor.
My Rating: B
BeerAdvocate: A-

What we have here is a pretty good beer but not my favorite of the Smokestack series.  This one had a lot to live up to and it fell a little short.  I'll swear by some of the other beers in this series but for quads you can probably find better and cheaper sticking to some of the Belgians.

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Picture Hint From NOLA Brewing - Smoky Mary

I was browsing the NOLA Brewing website the other day when I noticed the following picture under their "Brews" section:

So... it looks like the next upcoming NOLA brew is going to be a Smoky Mary smoked ale, which is labeled on their site as a seasonal brew.  This will be their 4th seasonal beer, following the Irish Channel Stout (winter), Hurricane Saison (spring), and Flambeau Red (summer).  So, here's hoping this one is out on tap this fall when the weather starts to cool down.  It won't be the first smoked beer to come out of Louisiana, Bayou Teche already beat them to that with their Boucanee' which smokes the malts over cherry wood.  Even still, it's always good to know another local beer is coming out, and so far nothing from NOLA has disappointed.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Build Your Own 6-Packs At Albertsons

I was in the College Drive Albertsons yesterday buying some groceries when I noticed that they had re-done their main store beer section... okay, I'll check it out.  The first thing I noticed was a respectable selection of bombers and 6-packs. 

The problem is, they only carry 3 or 4 beers from each brewery.  If they even have that many... there's a Brooklyn Local 1, but no other bombers from them.  And Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye, but no Racer 5?  For shame!  They have 4 or 5 different Stone beers but there are so many more good ones they are missing.  They also had a handful of Belgian ales down on the end, most noticeably the Chimay line.  Like I said, it's a respectable lineup... if I was stopping here to grab some food to cook for dinner and wanted a few beers to quench my thirst while I cooked, I'd easily be able to find something good.  Just not necessarily something new and exciting.

Then I noticed the "Build Your Own Mix & Match 6-Pack Display" and had to check it out.  The custom 6-pack is a pretty standard concept but I haven't seen it too often around Baton Rouge.  Most places are either 6-packs only, or price everything by the single like Calandro's does.  Anyway, it's a cool idea and I'm really glad Albertsons is giving it a try... here's the lineup as best as I could photograph in the store at least.

Like the rest of the selection, it's respectable but nothing special.  The highlight (for me at least) is probably the Stone Levitation Ale up on the top shelf... the Sierra Nevada, Sam Adams, and Boulder Beer offerings aren't bad either.  This idea would really be cool for someone trying to sample some of the Louisiana brews, with Bayou Teche, Heinerbrau / Covington, and Abita all represented.

Hey, it's not the Baton Rouge beer revolution quite yet, but it's still a step in the right direction.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Review: Left Hand Stranger American Pale Ale

First off, I love the name.  Someone over at Left Hand Brewing (@lefthandbrewing) has a great sense of humor with this one... very subtle.  My good friend Danielle Wheeler brought me this bottle from either the Atlanta area or Nashville... I really can't remember but I know she was up that way!  The closest places to find Left Hand to Baton Rouge are Texas, Alabama, or the Florida panhandle.

I've tried and written about several Left Hand beers before, notably a post earlier this year about the Warrior IPA, Wake Up Dead Imperial Stout, and the Chainsaw Strong Ale.   I enjoyed all of those and I've enjoyed previous beers from Left Hand that I never got around to writing about.  This one, though... I did not enjoy.  
As I typically do, I poured from the 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.  The beer is a hazy deep golden color, which is much lighter than expected for an APA. Not much head and there's really not much retention either.  So far, this one is weak.

This beer smells a little off... it's grassy and not much malt to it. The hops aren't even too strong. It's very odd for an APA, and not tasty at all.  

This must be misbottled or gone bad, the taste is nothing like an APA at all. Tastes a little skunked, and more like a light lager than anything else. Bizarre, I have to assume this one is bad, because Left Hand is better than this.

My Rating: D
BeerAdvocate: B (More evidence I got a bad one...)
I need to find another one of these in Houston so I can compare... some things in life get three strikes, but for me, beer gets two.  If I grab a second bottle and it's like this first one, then I'll never need to pick up a Stranger APA again.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Shoutout To Samuel Adams!

I really feel like Samuel Adams (AKA Boston Beer Company) is a brewery I tend to overlook.  Whether it's because I'm looking for something new, looking for something local, or just sticking to a few of my go-to beers I rarely seem to order up or pick up a Sam Adams.  When I reviewed the Winter Classics pack about 6 months ago I noted that the Boston Lager was an underrated beer and I stand by that.  This 365 in 2011 quest has led me to new beers but I'm going to remember to order some more Boston Lagers when there's nothing new on tap. 

Fortunately, my drinking adventures have recently led me to a few new Sam Adams beers... first was the Rustic Saison on tap at The Chimes.  It's a pretty light in alcohol (4.35%) Belgian saison style ale with a respectable B- score on BeerAdvocate.  I didn't have the chance to write out a review (I rarely do when I'm not reviewing properly at home) but I can say that I'd try this one again if I had the chance.  And definitely props to The Chimes for having something new on draft!  It seems like that's getting more and more rare these days.  Or maybe it's just me?

Shortly after checking out the Rustic Saison at the Chimes I found myself at The Bulldog with some friends, where they also had the Rustic Saison on tap.  After drinking another one of them I noticed that they also had the Sam Adams Wee Heavy in house.  Well... I knew what I was getting next!  The Wee Heavy is of course the same style it's named after... a 10% brew that the bartender rightfully warned me about.  He even asked me if I wanted a room temperature glass!  Um, of course I do... really unless it's a BMC product the room temperature glass should be standard and the frosted glass should be the special request, but at least he asked.  The 10% alcohol was noticeable, but I still really enjoyed this one... if I saw one in bottles I'd definitely pick it up to age.  

Then, on a trip to the beach house, I noticed a couple of Sam Adams Brewmaster's Series beers in the back of the fridge.  Hmmm... no telling how old they were but they were new ones to me, so I enjoyed a Blackberry Witbier and a Hefeweizen out of a wine glass.  Yeah, a wine glass... what can I say it was that or plastic cups, and a large wine glass really is a decent way to drink a beer.  I'll also have to make a mental note to take a few stacks of pint glasses with me the next time I head down there... I certainly have enough to spare.  

Okay... that's all the Sam Adams love for now... I'm sure I'll try another few before this year is up, but I'm going to be sure to keep them in mind whenever I'm looking at a bunch of taps I've already tried and just want a tasty brew.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Abita Beer Announces Plans To Can Flagship Beers.

Hey everyone, just passing on a press release though I'm sure most beer fans out there have probably already heard the news... Abita is going to start canning several of their flagship beers, including Amber, Jockamo IPA, and Purple Haze.  They are expected to be on shelves in early 2012, and will be offered in addition to glass bottles and draft.  Here is a link to the full press release for anyone interested!

As for my thoughts on this... canning is a craft beer trend that is gaining a lot of steam nationwide.  I think canning makes a lot of sense in Louisiana where there are plenty of events that forbid glass bottles, like Mardi Gras, tailgating, and other outdoor events.  In addition to this news from Abita I know that NOLA Brewing and Tin Roof Brewing both previously decided to skip the bottling line and go straight to canning their beer.  (I know NOLA did the Irish Channel Stout in bottles, but that was a very small scale bottling and wasn't done with a full-scale commercial line.)  Honestly I'm surprised it took Abita this long to jump on board with the trend.

As far as canned craft beer is concerned, glassware is still the key to a proper taste and proper review.  It's impossible to pick up the colors of a beer and very difficult to pick up any aroma when drinking straight from the can.  The problems with aluminum flavors are largely gone now, and cans do provide a great light-free package that helps maintain the beers' integrity, but it doesn't do beer any justice if you're drinking it straight.  That being said, if I can bring a 12-pack of Abita or Tin Roof or NOLA on a canoe trip with me instead of a BMC product, you bet your ass I'll bring one of the local guys. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Coming Soon: LSU Beer!

Well, kind of... it's actually going to be Tin Roof Beer in a partnership with LSU.  I had heard some talk about this for a while, but it seems that with Tin Roof and LSU joining forces this is finally going to be a reality.  The full article can be found here on The Advocate website, but here are a few highlights:
In addition, the university is getting creative in generating its own revenues, including getting into the business of brewing its own LSU brand beer, Martin said.

“We are in the brewing business,” he said. “Our students are working on that.”

The project that Martin has long discussed as a possibility is a partnership with the Tin Roof Brewing Co. and Mockler Beverage and could begin distributing later this year, according to LSU.

The article doesn't mention anything about a possible brewing program academically, but students were apparently involved in the development of the beers.  There are plenty of universities and colleges out there with a brewing curriculum and I'd love to see LSU join that club.  A brewery just a few blocks away can make for a great learning tool, the university could see additional revenue and exposure, and the local guys at Tin Roof certainly stand to benefit from LSU branding on their products. 

The real key, of course, is to brew some good beer with LSU's name on it.  I'm sure some adjunct swill with an LSU logo would sell like crazy, but I sure hope this project is about more than the bottom line.  Knowing the guys at Tin Roof, this is going to be something that holds itself to a higher standard, but also a beer that will be enjoyable out of the can on a hot South Louisiana game day. 

Now next time you see me out tailgating, pass me one of those LSU beers!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Reviews: Lexington Brewery Kentucky Ale & Bourbon Barrel Ale

Many thanks to Jeremy Wells of for bringing me a couple of beer back from his home state of Kentucky.  I'll be honest, when I think Kentucky beer I think first of Founder's Kentucky Breakfast Stout, but it turns out Founder's isn't even in Kentucky.  They are actually in Michigan, so where does that leave Kentucky?  Uh... honestly I didn't know.  Until Jeremy brought me a couple of beers from the Lexington Brewery (@kentuckyale) I don't think I could have named a single Kentucky brewery, and that's a shame. 

First up was the Kentucky Ale, which is labeled as an English Pale Ale, definitely not the style I was expecting from the official beer of the World Equestrian Games, but hey... that's what they wanted to brew!  
Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into an imperial pint glass, it's a pale amber color with a small white head. This one comes in a respectable 5.3% alcohol, which is probably right on for the style.

The aroma is definitely hoppy with a lot of sweet notes to it.  The taste has a stronger malt base, and not as much hops as were on the nose.  I was expecting a little more hops here, but that's alright, English Pale Ales are usually a little more mild than the American versions. 

Easy to drink, medium body, it's a decent beer but nothing crazy here. 
My Rating: B
Up next was the Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, which I incorrectly assumed was a bourbon barrel aged version of their Kentucky Ale.  Nope, it's actually a different style altogether, an 8% alcohol American Strong Ale that was aged in bourbon barrels. Well okay then... they fooled me but I guess they are marketing to people in Kentucky who want to know they are drinking a local product.  Can't say I blame anyone for that.

For this one, I went with an imperial pint glass... the brew is a deep yellow color with a small white head. It really was lighter and less bubbly than expected from such a strong beer. 

The aroma is more like bourbon than beer to me. Strong alcohol notes with caramel and vanilla. There's a little bitter hop in there but not a crazy amount. The flavor is more of the same, strong bourbon flavors and not a lot of beer. It's obviously a beer because it's just not burning down the throat but it's hard to pick up specific beer characteristics.

It's a good beer if you like bourbon, which I do. Just be warned that the bourbon dominates, not compliments.  This is pretty similar to the Lazy Magnolia Southern Gentleman in that regard, as these are two of the more bourbon-heavy barrel-aged beers I've tried.

My Rating: B-

Thanks again to Jeremy for bringing these down for me to try!  I can't say that either blew me away, but neither were disappointing either.  Cheers!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Lazy Magnolia Getting Crazy At The Londoner!

I know they aren't a Louisiana brewery, but I still consider Lazy Magnolia (@lazymagnolia) out of Kiln, Mississippi to be a regional brewery.  They've been in our market since their early days, and the Southern Pecan is widely considered to be one of the better nut brown ales out there.  One of the problems Lazy Magnolia faces, though, is that they are in Mississippi and Mississippi's laws regarding alcohol production/sales are pretty ruthless.  They aren't allowed any beer greater than 6% abv, so Lazy Magnolia's options are limited when it comes to brewing bolder and bigger beers.  One way to create new and interesting beers that they have been able to use, is aging and spicing processes on their existing favorites.

Not too long ago I met up with Jay and Al Manint over at The Londoner to do some work on our potential radio show, and to try some of these Lazy Magnolia varieties.  First up was a beer they call the "Southern Gentleman," which is a bourbon-barrel aged version of their Southern Pecan.

It was a deep amber color, not hazy, and aroma was very spicy and boozy... the bourbon aging really came through in this style.  The taste was even more bourbon heavy, easily one of the most bourbon-dominant examples of aging I've tried. The nutty pecan flavors are there as well but the bourbon vanilla and spice notes dominate the palate.

The mouthfeel is interesting because it tastes like a stronger beer than it actually is. The alcohol notes from the bourbon really fool you, but it's not a strong beer alcohol-wise at all. Overall, I'm glad I got the chance to try this, hopefully it's more than a one-time release.  It might be bourbon-dominant, but fortunately I like bourbon, and I'm fan of the Southern Pecan either way.

After a few of those they tapped a cask of chamomile infused Indian Summer, Lazy Magnolia's light wheat ale.  Unfortunately this was a cask that had been tapped the night before for a tasting, and casks aren't meant to hold carbonation for long.  As a result, we had a bit of a flat beer on our hands, but I could see the promise in the way the flavors combined.  I wish I had a better example to properly review, but I think this spiced beer had a lot of promise and I commend Lazy Magnolia for giving these a try.  I do hope both end up in a regular (or at least special release) rotation so I can try them again.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Gulf Brew Beer Lineup Announced! July 23, 2011 in Lafayette

Hello beer loving friend and readers! I just wanted to pass on this press release from the organizers of the Gulf Brew Beer Tasting Festival, which will take place July 23rd in Lafayette.  It promises to be one of the biggest beer festivals in the area and is certain to be a good time.  Unfortunately I will not be able to attend, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't!  There looks to be a really good beer lineup, including one of my favorites, Parish Brewing, and also be sure not to miss out on the homebrewers!  They are likely to be the quickest to go.  Cheers!
Gulf Brew 2011 Beer Tasting Festival
Beer & Band Announcement
Lafayette, LA - Lafayette’s original beer festival is back and better than ever! Gulf Brew 2011 gives you the best specialty and craft brews around—Beer is King at this year’s most anticipated summer event. This beer-tasting festival is a fundraiser for the Acadiana Center for the Arts.
Gulf Brew 2011 will be held at Parc International in downtown Lafayette on Saturday, July 23, 2011 from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. A special pre-taster event will take place from 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. Only 300 pre-taster tickets are available, allowing participants a full hour of tasting and the opportunity to talk one-on-one with brewers without the crowds or long lines.

Band Schedule
5:00 - 5:45 The Von Dukes
With driving beats and timeless rifts, it’s a 21st century spin on the 50’s. From the ashes of Sun Record Artists Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, the Stray Cats, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams and Chet Atkins, the Von Dukes throw it together with some Ventures and the Clash and make it their own.

6:00 - 7:00 Rex Moroux
Rex Moroux is an Americana singer/songwriter. His style is influenced by artists such as Townes Van Zandt, Leonard Cohen, Hank Williams, Tammy Wynette and Levon Helm.

7:15 - 8:30 Soul Express Brass Band
The Soul Express Brass Band is Opelousas’s very own jazz brass band.

8:30 - 9:00 DJ Miyagi

Volunteers are needed!
Volunteers receive a free Gulf Brew t-shirt and complimentary taster ticket! Contact the AcA Box Office or visit our website at to become a Gulf Brew volunteer.

$25 Taster Tickets, $50 Pre-Taster Tickets as well as Non-Taster Tickets for $15 are available online at, at 337.233.7060 or the AcA Box Office at 101 W Vermilion St., open Tues. – Sat. 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

No one under the age of 21 will be allowed to enter the festival premises.
Ticketing fees may apply.
This year BikeLafayette, a Lafayette-based bicycle safety and awareness advocacy group, will provide a bicycle corral just outside the gates of Gulf Brew. Bicycle corrals work like a coat check for bicycles. Patrons are issued a claim check in exchange for their bike and BikeLafayette attendants will watch over your bicycle while you are attending Gulf Brew. There is no charge to check your bike; BikeLafayette is providing the bicycle corral as a public service. Riding your bicycle is a great way to get to and from Gulf Brew while helping keep traffic to a minimum and enjoying wonderful downtown Lafayette.

Beer Listing
Homebrews Clubs:

Lafayette Homebrew Club
Dead Yeast Society
DYS Hefeweizen
Imperial Stout
Smoked Rye
Belgian Wit
Irish Red
American Wheat
Tabasco Pepper Ale
Cascadian Dark Ale
American Pale Ale
Honey Amber
DYS Brown Ale
Dusseldork Alt
DYS Kolsch
Imperial Bourbon Vanilla Porter
American Barley Wine
Flanders Brown

Baton Rouge Homebrew Club
Brasseurs a la Maison
Vanilla Porter
Panola Pale Ale
Blueberry Wheat
Mango Passion Fruit Wheat
Pineapple Pale Ale
Calypso SMASH
Styrian Goldings Pale Ale

New Orleans Homebrew Club
Mystic Krewe of Brew
Brewsard's Black/White/Red/Brown India Style Ale
Breakfast Stout
Hotcho Momma
Heavenly Heffe
Pete's Pleasant Porter

Beer provided by Glazer’s, Shilling and Crescent Crown Distributing:
Abita Abbey Ale
Abita Andygator
Abita Satsuma
Abita Jockamo
Abita Wheat
Abita Light
Anchor Liberty Ale
Anchor Porter
Ayinger Brau-Weisse
Ayinger Ur-Weisse
Bass Ale
Blue Moon Belgian White
Blue Moon Summer
Brooklyn Lager
Brooklyn Summer
Brother Theolnious Abby
Chimay Blue Label Ale
Chimay White Label
Coney Island Python
Covington Brewhouse Bayou Bock
Covington Brewhouse Pontchartrain Pilsner
Grimbergen Blond
Grimbergen Dubbel
Hacker Pschorr Original
Hacker Pschorr Weisse
Harpoon Summer
He'Brew Messiah Bold
Heiner Brau Kolsch
Heiner Brau Märzen
Heiner Brau Strawberry
Kalik Gold
LA-31 Grenade
LA-31 Boucanne
La Chouffe Belgian Golden
La Goudale
Laughing Skull
Lazy Magnolia Jefferson Stout
Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan
Leinenkugal Sunset Wheat
Lindemans Cassis
Lindemans Peche Lambic  Magic Hat #9
Mendocino Brew Blu Heron
Mendocino Brew White Hawk
Monks’ Ale
Monks’ Wit
Murphy’s Irish Stout
Parish Amber
Parish Canebrake
Paulaner Hefe-Weizen
Paulaner Munich Lager
Red Hook ESB
Red Hook IPA
Rogue American Amber Ale
Rogue Hazelnut Brown Ale
Salva Vida
St. Arnold’s Fancy Lawnmower
St. Arnold’s Seasonal
Sam Adams Blackberry
Sam Adams Cherry Wheat
Sam Adams Latitude 48
Sam Adams Summer
Samuel Smith Nut Brown
Samuel Smith Oatmeal
Samuel Smith Organic (cherry/strawberry)
Schneider Ale Aventinus
Schneider Ale Weisse
Schneider Edel Weisse
Shock Top Raspberry
Sierra Bianca Rio Grand Desert
Sierra Bianca Rio Grand IPA
Sierra Bianca Outlaw Lager
Sierra Bianca Rio Grand Chile Cerveza
Spaten W Franz Hefe Weis
Spaten W Optimator
Stone Arrogant Bastard
Stone Old Guardian
Stone Ruination IPA
Tin Roof Brewery (2)
Unibroue Blanche Chambly
Unibroue La Fin du Monde
Woodchuck Cider Pear
Woodchuck Cider Raspberry
Zea beers (4)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Beer Travels: The Petrol Station in Houston, TX

I think by now I've established that The Avenue Pub in New Orleans is my favorite beer bar in Louisiana.  Polly does an awesome job getting the best new and rare beers and keeping her customers up to date on what's new on tap.  Lately though, I've been spending a lot more time in Houston, so I was on the lookout for a similar type of beer bar when I was recommended a place called The Petrol Station.  So, after checking out The Ginger Man Pub one Friday night, we decided to check this place out Saturday afternoon.  I noticed it was a little out of the way, just north of 610 on the of the city, but not too far from where Mandi lives, so we plugged it in to the GPS and headed that direction.

If you do the same, don't be alarmed when you take a few turns onto some residential streets!  The Petrol Station is tucked away on a side street in a mostly residential area, but fortunately there is a large open lot across the street that serves as ample parking.  As the name would indicate, the building used to be a gas station before becoming the Petrol Station coffee shop, and eventually evolving into a craft beer paradise. 

The first thing I noticed on the first visit was that almost everyone there was chowing down on a nice looking burger.  Okay, so that's noted for later, but I wasn't terribly hungry yet and neither was Mandi so we settled down at the bar and ordered up a few beers, starting with the first two new ones I noticed, a Rood Red Ale from Independence Brewing out of Austin and a Southern Star Walloon, a couple of beers from Texas craft breweries. 

From there the local brews kept flowing, with a Real Ale Real Heavy, Saint Arnold Weedwacker, and an Independence Stoned Crow Imperial Porter on tap.  we moved from there to a Palo Santo Marron, the 12% alcohol barrel-aged brown ale from Dogfish Head (@dogfishbeer).  A fantastic brew and one I'd yet to spot in bottles so I was thrilled to see it on tap!  With all that beer flowing it was time for a little food so we went the appetizer route with an order of spinach & artichoke dip.  It wasn't the best I've ever had but it was still a great compliment to a few more beers. 

After a Brookyln (@brooklynbrewery) Main Engine Start Belgian Pale Ale it was time for a couple more Texas brews.  This time the (512) Altbier (@512brewing) and the Real Ale Lost Gold IPA.  This place was quickly turning into a goldmine for new beers when I noticed a label that I'd never seen before.  A quick inquiry and I was told it was a Pale Horse Pale Ale from No Label Brewing (@nolabelbrewco) out of Katy, Texas.  Whoa... now I'm going from new beers to new breweries.  And not only that, but it was a really tasty pale ale.  I definitely want to check these guys out at some point soon and learn more about them.

 Man... so many good beers at this place.  I'm pretty sure there were 35 taps going with mostly American craft beers but a few Belgian ales mixed in, and the most impressive thing was that they were constantly rotating new beers on them whenever one would "float" so to speak.  They must have changed out at least 4 beers in the few hours we were enjoying ourselves at the bad, and most new taps were something new that I just had to try.  Before we left we also had the chance to try the Breckenridge (@breckbrew) Regal Pilsner, Independence Stash IPA, and the Ska Brewing Decadent IIPA.  All great beers but by this point they were getting hazy.


In summary, great beer bar, and I've made two trips back since then.  I'll be writing about them before long, but I had to go back just to try the burger!  The bartenders really know their beer, there is new stuff on tap every time, and I think I've found my new favorite Houston watering hole.

Petrol Station on Urbanspoon
*Exterior photo taken by Chris N. on Yelp.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Beer Travels: The Ginger Man Pub in Houston, TX

Alright, time for some more beer travels!  I've been going mostly to Houston lately, and that includes a couple of trips to The Ginger Man Pub in Rice Village.  This place has a reputation for being one of Houston's top beer bars, so I had to check it out!  It turns out the reputation is well earned.  There is a large bar with a great assortment of taps, and plenty of seating inside and outside.  The Ginger Man Pub concept has multiple locations now, but Houston was the original, so it was definitely the best one to check out first, right? 
The first trip was around 7 on a Friday night... and I expected the bar to be a little more crowded but Mandi and I met up with my old roommate Chris and his wife Emily and grabbed a table near the back of the bar with no problems.  They had a cask of Dogma on hand from BrewDog especially for American Craft Beer Week, but unfortunately I had tried that one before!  That didn't stop me from trying it again later, but I started off with a new beer to me, the Live Oak (@liveoakbrewing) Liberation IPA out of Austin, TX.  While I was trying that one out Mandi went for a Shiner 102 Double Wheat from the Spoetzl Brewery (@shinerbeer) and we switched out... always nice to have a drinking buddy to help me try all of these new beers! 
From there I tried a (512) IPA and then the Dogfish Head Brown Ale, both very solid beers.  (512) Brewing (@512brewing) is out of Austin, hence the area code, and Dogfish Head (@dogfishbeer) is of course the super popular craft brewery out of Delaware.  After those two I went for a canned craft beer because I was all out of new draft beer options.  That meant it was time for Ska Brewing Modus Hoperandi IPA.  Ska is a brewery out of Durango, Colorado that has embraced the movement to canned craft beer.  I've had their beer in bottles before, and on tap since, but it's still nice to see more breweries go towards cans as an option. 

Eventually the place filled up and started to really get loud, but it was never jam-packed like some bars get.  We also tried the "Beer Companion" meat & cheese & fruit plate which really hit the spot to add a little food to the stomach along with all the liquid bread.

More recently I went back with the same group on a Sunday afternoon... it was mostly empty but still was open after lunch on a Sunday, so props for that!  This trip was just for a pint each after lunch, but Emily was kind enough to let me try her Ommegang (@breweryommegang) Rare Vos ale so I could count it on the list!  I went with a Brooklyn (@brooklynbrewery) Blast Pale Ale, Brooklyn Brewing's double IPA which I absolutely loved.  This was definitely one of the best DIPAs I've tried recently and would highly recommend it to anyone who likes their beers hoppy.  

And now, after two trips to The Ginger Man Pub in Houston, I can say that I'll be back. It's a perfectly sized beer bar with the right ambiance and character to add to the beer drinking experience rather than take away like some places tend to do. I've experienced really good service both at the tables and at the bar on both trips, so I look forward to even more pints (and cans) of good beer!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Two Beers I Barely Remember From Mikkeller & Ommegang!

In my quest to try 365 new beers this year, I wanted to write a little something about all of them.  Whether it's a review of the beer, a post about the event I tried them at, or even the place I tried them I wanted to mention every one.  Well, I tried two new ones that Dustin Davis brought over on National Homebrew Day and all I have to show for it is a blurry photograph.  Yes!  I rock!

Here's what I think I remember... the Mikkeller Black Hole Imperial Stout was awesome.  I say this mostly because I've never really had a beer from Mikkeller (@mikkellerbeer) that wasn't good.  I've also never tried a beer from Mikkeller that wasn't expensive.  That's to be expected though... craft beers and import tend to run a little higher than domestics and Mikkeller is both an import and a craft brewery. And I use craft brewery very vaguely here because they are actually something called a 'gypsy brewery' or 'phantom brewery' in that they don't have their own physical brewery.  They come up with the recipes, oftentimes in collaboration, and have other breweries brew the beer for them.  It's an interesting way to do things, and the beer is delicious, so they have that going for them!

I also tried the Ommegang Abbey Ale, I know this because I have a blurry picture on my phone.  You've probably heard of Brewery Ommegang's (@breweryommegang) hometown, but not because of the brewery.  They hail from Cooperstown, NY and specialize in Belgian-style ales.  See, they even put the 'brewery' in front like the Belgians so!  I've tried a few of their beers over the years, always impressed, but had never tried the regular Abbey Ale.  It's one of their flagship brews and is considered a dubbel in style. One day I'll have to try it again when I'm done with me 365 in 2011 quest!


Review: Avery White Rascal & Out Of Bounds Stout

Time for a couple of reviews on some Avery Brewing (@averybrewingco) beers that my friend Danielle Wheeler was nice enough to bring me from Tennessee!  These will be the third and fourth Avery brews on my 365 in 2011 mission, but the first two (Hog Heaven Barleywine and DuganA IPA) were part of the bigger series of beer, and these are both out of Avery's year-round lineup.  Let's see how they compare!

Up first was the White Rascal Witbier, which I poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a standard pint glass. It's a hazy yellow color with a really small head. Nothing really special to look at, but you can't always judge a book by its cover.

Now the aroma is more like what I was expecting out of Avery! Spicy and sweet with a large helping of coriander. The taste is more of the same, spicy, lots of coriander and hints of citrus.  The spices blend well together and compliment each other. It's pretty thin though, with not much body to it.

Decent beer, not the best ever but satisfying and refreshing.

My Rating: B-

Second up, the Out Of Bounds Stout, an Irish-style dry stout that is also one of Avery's year-round releases.  And... into an imperial pint glass it goes, it's a dark nearly black beer with a finger of off-white head.

The aroma is like dark roasted chocolate. It's not too strong with a bitter tinge to it. The taste is the same flavor, bitter and roasted. The taste is a little more crisp and clean than the aroma, with a smooth finish.

It's a little thin but that's typical for a dry stout. Another decent beer, but not one of my all-time favorites.

My Rating: B-

And with that done I can say that Avery makes some pretty solid year-round brews, but they don't quite stack up to the special releases.  This is pretty typical though, even the local guys, Abita, don't measure up to their select releases with their year-round beers.  Of course, the year-round beers are also usually cheaper!  So they have that going for them, which is nice.

Thanks again, Danielle!  I owe you a few beers. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Shout-out To Slinky's!

Just a quick post to mention one of my favorite Baton Rouge hole-in-the-wall beer bars, Slinky's on Chimes St.  Located just down the street from The Chimes past Highland Coffees, don't expect to see a sign on the front advertising the name of the bar, but when you see the neon beer signs and the front porch, you're at the right place.  

Pam does a great job of keeping the place stocked with two coolers full of interesting beers, and on the second Tuesday of every month, starting at 9, they do a tasting of 6 different beers for $12.  A good price and you get to keep the glass!  A good many of the more strange and unusual beer glasses in my cabinet have come to me via a Slinky's tasting, and I plan on that trend continuing.  I even wrote about one tasting a good while ago... and have made two trips to Slinky's for some drinks since then.

A few months ago I found my way there for a few beers after happy hour at Fleming's (never a bad idea) and the beer drinking commenced.  It was a rare occasion for me, my phone died after taking one picture of beer I had been drinking... but I do remember a little about the 4 new beers I tried.  One was the "Before - After" triple bock from the Rinkuskiu Alaus Darykla brewery in Lithuania... gotta say this is probably my first ever Lithuanian beer and I didn't think it was too bad.  It was a super boozy 12% alcohol triple bock, so even maltier and stronger than a doppelbock.  I also tried the RJ Rockers (@rjrockers) Patriot Pale Ale, the Lobster Lovers Beer also from Rinkuskiu Alaus Darykla and a Rosee' D'Hibiscus from the fantastic Canadian brewery Dieu Du Ciel.  

More recently I found myself back at Slinky's for a beer tasting of Bavarian selections thanks to Clark Diehl at Uplifters Spirits.  Uplifters is a distributor out of California specializing in Bavarian breweries, and Clark is their local representative.  This tasting features two of the best sellers from three of their breweries, Hopf, Schönramer, and Reutberger.  While waiting on the tasting to start I tried an Old Jock scotch ale from Broughton Ales in England, and an Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche Doppelbock, a famous smoked beer from Germany. 

Then the tasting started... the Hopf Brewery calls themselves a weissbierbrauerie and they mean it, the only styles they offer are hefeweizens, dunkelweizens, and weizenbocks! This tasting feature their Dunkle Weisse, and their Helle Weisse beers, and as to be expected, they were both very thick with a wheat base.  The Dunkle was naturally a darker and maltier beer but both were very smooth and easy to drink. The two Reutberger offereing were the Export Hell and the Export Dunkel.  As opposed to Hopf, both of these beers were lagers, with the Dunkel of course being the darker and maltier beer, and the Hell being lighter and easier to drink.  Third up was the Schönramer brewery, with a Pils and Gold offering.  The Pils of course was a German-style pilsner, but the Gold was actually a malty Oktoberfest offering and maybe the best beer of the tasting.  Well, until Clark brought out a few specialty beers.  First up was one from Reutberger called the Josefi Bock, a malty beer with a good clean hop taste on the end as well.  Finally, the Schönramer Saphir, a bizarre beer that's labeled as a doppelbock, but pours like an adjunct lager.  Seriously, it was damn near clear, but the taste was anything but boring.  It was bold, fruity, spicy, and all around delicious.  Definitely the winner of the night.

After the tasting was over I saw one more new beer, the Sierra Nevada (@sierranevada) Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale, so I gave that a try and then it was on to Louie's for a big cheesy Lou and some pancakes! 

Cheers everyone, and don't forget about Slinky's when you feel like finding a new beer.  And for the tastings on the second Tuesday of every month.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Coming Soon: Bayou Teche Beer Noire

At least that's the rumor!  

The beer is listed on the Bayou Teche Brewing website with the following description:
On our grandparents’ farm, our grandmother would brew a grègue of café noir every morning for our grandfather’s pre-dawn breakfast.  At the end of each week, after the obligatory Sunday dinner, she would brew numerous pots of it.  Each and every one of the adults would then sip demitasses of the strong black coffee, laughing loudly and speaking French even louder.
We wanted to create a beer that paid homage to what café noir meant to our French speaking ancestors.  Café noir was more than a cup of coffee – its presence conveyed love and appreciation, and expressed a cheerful welcome.

We use specially roasted German malts and select American hops which provide our LA-31 Bière Noire a small bite of noble bitterness and a dry, French roasted coffee flavor.  It goes great with grilled steaks, hamburgers, or sausage po-boys, any spicy blackened Cajun dish, or a dinner table surrounded by those you most cherish.

À votre santé.
 I also saw a little more info on The Beer In Me forums with the following additional info:
Biere Noire is brewed loosely as a German Alt Schwarzbier - a style of beer not brewed anymore. I drank some while stationed in Germany, I believe the Brewery was Alt Marburger - and I think they stopped brewing in the 90s sometimes. The beer was like a traditional German black lager, brewed with the tastier Alt style ale yeast. We wanted to resurrect this wonderful style with our Biere Noire. We will release a limited number of bottles in July and early August, by the end of August you should be able to find bottles wherever Bayou Teche bieres are sold.
So... looks like it might be coming soon!  Very cool... I'm still not a big fan of the Biere Pale, but I've enjoyed the Grenada and Boucanee' and especially the XXX Grenade I was able to try at Avenue Pub.

Image Credit: The Beer In Me

Reviews: More Boulevard Smokestack Series

Alright, time for a three-part Boulevard Brewing (@boulevard_beer) quickie to get some of these reviews out of the way!  They are stacking up on my big time.  Time for a three-part review of three more Boulevard Smokestack series beers... I hate to make it quick on three good ones, but I think by now I've established that I really like this series.  For past posts about them, check out the Double-Wide IPA, Long Strange Tripel, and Chocolate Ale. I grabbed all of these in 750ml bottle at Spec's in Houston.

Beer #1: Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale!   This one I poured into a Homer Brewing goblet. It's a pale yellow color, with an impressive head. It has great retention and lacing. Definitely a good looking beer.

The aroma is earthy and medicinal, with hints of honey and a slightly sour note. The flavor is very similar to the aroma except with a tasty bitter hop kick to it. I also really like the creamy mouthfeel and bubbly carbonation.

This is a very well done beer that I thoroughly enjoyed.  Another winner for the Smokestack Series!

My Rating: A
BeerAdvocate: A-

Saison Pale Ale on FoodistaSaison Pale Ale

Beer #2: Two Jokers Double-Wit! This beer called for my Abita cylindrical stange.  This beer is an orange-gold color with a huge white head. Great retention and lacing to the frothy head.

The aroma is very spicy, citric and strong coriander smells to it. There's a little ginger cinnamon smell to it as well. The flavor is a lot like the aroma. Spicy with a multitude of flavors coming through. The coriander is still the most dominant note.

Great mouthfeel, creamy and a perfect flavor blend throughout each sip. Great beer, one of the best yet from the Smokestack series, and that's saying a lot.

My Rating: A+
BeerAdvocate: A-

Witbier on FoodistaWitbier

Beer #3: Seeyoulator Doppelbock! For this one I went with a corsendonk goblet. It's a deep red cloudy beer with a small creamy head.

It has a really rich malty aroma as expected. Definite hints of toffee and caramel and very appetizing. The taste is very similar to the aroma with a boozy sting to it on the front and a roasted tone creeping through on the end. It's definitely more boozy than the aroma indicated, almost as if it was bourbon barrel aged but I don't think it was. Really really good flavor to it.

It's a little thin compared to the bold flavors. Really could use a little body to it but that probably helps the drinkability. Overall, a good beer. Not quite an A+ to me but I'd drink it again without thinking twice.

My Rating: A
BeerAdvocate: B+

Bock on FoodistaBock

And there you go... three more winners from the Boulevard Smokestack Series... I recently picked up a few more of these in smaller 4-packs, so here's hoping they keep impressing me just as much!


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Review: Boulevard Chocolate Ale

Alright, another Boulevard Brewing Company (@boulevard_beer) Smokestack Series beer, this time the Chocolate Ale.  I've previously written about the Double-Wide IPA and Long Strange Tripel and gave both of them an A+, so this one has a lot to live up to. I picked this one up at Spec's in Houston, the Smokestack series all come in 750ml bottles, so there's enough to share with a friend!

The first thing to note about this one is that it's an American Strong Ale in style, while the vast majority of chocolate beers I've tried before were porters or stouts. It's a hazy apricot color, with about two fingers of bubbly head. The head receded pretty quick without much lacing, and even knowing it wasn't a stout I expected a darker beer with a chocolate name!

It smells of spice and strong chocolate, with a little fruit sweetness in there as well. The taste starts out as an identical flavor profile to the aroma, but then some floral hops come in. That's a very nice addition to the overall flavor of the beer!

The mouthfeel is interesting. It's a little thin despite checking in at 9.1% alcohol, but there are so many flavors competing that it's not readily apparent. There is also a distracting lingering bitter chocolate aftertaste.

All in all, an interesting and good beer, but I was expecting a little more body.  Still, a very well crafted brew.

My Rating: A-

Friday, July 1, 2011

Review: Boulevard Brewing Long Strange Tripel

Time for another review, this one coming from the Boulevard Brewing Company (@boulevard_beer) in Kansas City, Missouri.  The "Long Strange Tripel" is of course a Belgian-style tripel ale and is part of Boulevard's specialty "Smokestack Series" of craft beers.  I previously tried and loved their "Double-Wide IPA" so on a recent trip to Spec's in Houston I picked up a handful of other Smokestack series beers.  The first one I broke open was this tripel... so let's see how it goes...

As expected for the style, I poured the beer from the 750 ml bottle into the St. Bernardus goblet that I picked up in a recent gift set. It's a beautiful hazy gold with a frothy white head. There is great retention and lacing to this beer.

This tripel has a very sweet and fruity aroma to it. There are a little floral hops in there but the flavors I'm picking up are primarily sweet.

The taste, fortunately, is not as sweet. Wow this is a good tripel! It has the perfect Belgian hop profile and the right hint of spice. If you're a fan of Belgian-style ales this is definitely one to check out in the future.  If I see some of these the next time I'm in Houston I'll definitely be adding a few to the "beer cellar" in the back of my fridge.

Well done, Boulevard. This smokestack series continues to impress me, and I can't wait to get into the rest of them.
My Rating: A+