Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ommegang Coming Soon - Release Party Sep. 7th!

Hey everyone, it's been in the works for a while, but it seems the date is official, the Ommegang Louisiana release party will be Sep. 7th at The Avenue Pub in New Orleans.  Here's the word from the owner, Polly:
Wed Sept 7 th Ommegang La release party!
Beers will be tapped upstairs and down.
Yea...the much anticipated Ommegang is in stock and will be released Wed night! We will have the following beers on draft: Abbey, Hennepin, Rare Vos, BP Ale, Witte and 2 kegs that only the Pub is getting Aphrodite & Duvel Single Belgian. three Philosophers will be poured from bottles by the 10 and four ounce sizes that night also! We will have limited free glassware for those that show up early! The Balcony for this event will be non smoking until 11pm.

What's really exciting about this is that it should mean we can find some Ommegang in bottles in stores and places like The Cove around BR before too long.  And hopefully on tap at the usual places like The Bulldog and The Chimes.  Ommegang is a craft brewery out of Cooperstown, NY that specializes in Belgian-style ales.  I've reviewed a few of theirs before and tried several others including the Chocolate Indulgence Ale, the Rare VOS, and the flagship Abbey Ale and I can say that I'm happy to have their beers here.  I'm a fan of good American brewers who can do a fine Belgian ale and these guys can.  So check them out once they're on the shelves, and enjoy!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Tin Roof Brewing - Pefect Tin Amber cans to be out this week!

Check out the press release below from Tin Roof Brewing:

BATON ROUGE, LA (August 29, 2011) - Tin Roof Brewing Co. is pleased to announce the launch of their canning line and the release of their flagship brew, Perfect Tin Amber Ale, in 12-ounce aluminum cans.  Tin Roof, Baton Rouge's only microbrewery, will be the first Louisiana brewery to launch a full scale canning line.  Perfect Tin Amber Ale will begin being distributed this week in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and select stores on the Northshore.*

"Cans were the obvious choice for our first packaged product," said Charles Caldwell, Tin Roof co-founder.  "With all of the activities we love in Louisiana, such as parades, tailgating, festivals, and being outdoors in general, cans can go where bottles can't."

But that's not the only reason for cans.  "Cans are lighter than bottles, chill faster, require less fuel to transport, are more readily recyclable and protect beer from the degrading effects of exposure to light," Caldwell said.  "Extremely low oxygen pickup during the canning process helps extend shelf-life and ensures your beer is as tasty and fresh as the way it was intended."  

More and more microbreweries are turning to cans, threatening to break the reputation of glass as the only worthy container for a quality brew.  Adding all of the environmentally friendly aspects to the quality beer they keep, all we can say is "YES we CAN." 

Tin Roof Brewing Company was founded in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and began operations in November 2010.  Tin Roof currently offers two flagship brands, Perfect Tin Amber Ale and Voodoo Bengal Pale Ale.  Both brands are available on draft, and while Perfect Tin will be available in cans this week, Voodoo Bengal should follow in the coming months.  Tin Roof plans statewide distribution by the end of 2011.  Brewery tours are every Friday from 5:30-7:30.  For more information, follow Tin Roof on twitter or facebook, or please visit www.tinroofbeer.com.
Perfect Tin cans waiting to be filled.*

So... the cans are almost here.  Look for the Perfect Tin Amber to be out on shelves around Baton Rouge this week.  It makes a lot of sense to start with the amber as it is more suited to hot weather and tailgating than Voodoo Bengal Pale Ale.  Hopefully the new Bandit Blonde Ale will be along in cans shortly too!

*Picture credit: Jay D's Bite and Booze Blog.

Friday, August 26, 2011

NOLA Brewing's "Smoky Mary" Release Date Set - Sep. 6th.

About a month ago I had a post about the "Smoky Mary" picture on NOLA Brewing's website (@nolabrewing) indicating a new seasonal was on the way.  They confirmed that and told me they were expecting an October release date, but it looks like the schedule has been moved up!  The Avenue Pub should have it on tap starting September 6th, and according to them, "NOLA smoked their hops with local pecan wood and add them to a " fest" style beer."  So... it sounds like we're in for an Oktoberfest style beer with smoked hops?  Nah, it's actually smoked malts, Polly corrected that later. 

So, if you can check it out at The Avenue Pub it looks like Sep. 6th is your date.  I'm sure it will find it's way to a few places in Baton Rouge like The Bulldog shortly afterward.  I'm a big fan of the Bouccanee' from Bayou Teche, which is also a smoked beer, so I'm definitely looking forward to this new NOLA offering.

Cheer everyone!

Review: New Belgium Somersault Ale

Alright, time for a quick review of a perfect hot-weather beer before it gets too cold to enjoy!  Yeah, here in Baton Rouge that's probably a few months off, so if you get a chance to find this offering from New Belgium (@newbelgium) - Mandi got some for me in Houston - then I'd highly recommend you do so.

As for the beer itself... this one is a Blonde Ale, so local examples of the style would be the NOLA Blonde (on tap only as of now) and the upcoming Bandit Blonde Ale from Tin Roof and LSU.
Poured into a pint glass, it's a hazy bubbly deep gold color with an inch or so of frothy white head.

The aroma is earthy with hints of citrus and honey.  The taste is mostly the same, grassy with honey and a slight bitter grapefruit hint at the end.

There is a slight hoppy grapefruit aftertaste, with a very nice body for a lighter beer.

This is a very well crafted blonde ale. A fantastic summer beer for when the heat index is 106, or even when it's a little cooler in the Louisiana early fall.  I can only hope the Tin Roof Blonde Ale compares favorably to this one, it would be awesome to have a beer like this in cans for football season.

My Rating: B+

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Photographing Beer, A Few Quick Pics...

As I'm sure you know by now, I photograph just about every beer I drink.  Lately almost all those pictures come straight from my iPhone4, but every now and then at an event or tasting I'll have my better cameras handy.  For the iPhone, I find that lighting is the key.  Really this is the key for most photography... but especially for the phone because the flash is pretty weak.  The 3G I had before though... well it had no flash and was a lot smaller picture size, so at least it has that going for it.  

I had a few pictures of some beers that I drank in Houston to demonstrate... first up is the Lagunitas Imperial Stout... this beer should appear extremely dark with an off-white head... here's the picture with no flash.

Without the flash it's a little blurry, but you can see the actual colors of the beer.  Here's is a Bridgeport Scotch Ale with the flash, the beer should be a reddish-brown color.

For some reason with the flash on, the iPhone4 gets a little better focus with cleaner lines, but it fades the color.  It's hard to even see the red hints in the beer with the flash on.  Now two pictures of the Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Fresh Hop Ale... one with the flash, and one without.

As you can tell, the flash really enhanced the contrast, to the point where the lighter beer was totally lost.  The non-flash picture come a lot closer to capturing the true color of the beer... so let this be a tip to all of you.  Flash = bad!  That being said, if I'm in a dark bar or dimly lit restaurant, I'd still rather use the flash and get a picture than forget all about that tasty brew.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

An IPA Day Celebration!

Alright, a few weeks ago we all celebrated International IPA Day.  Or at least I hope you did... you are reading a beer blog after all so I assume you like beer.  And if you like beer enough to read a beer blog, well then you probably at least have some appreciation for the IPA.  I know these hoppy beers aren't for everyone, but I sure like them.  So, I had originally planned to try a few IPAs and write about them for that special occasion, but a few friends got word and an IPA tasting developed and then it turned into a full-on shit-show of hoppiness.

To get the party started, Dustin came over a bit early and since we both had a Great Divide 17th Anniversary Wood Aged Double IPA on hand, that was the kick-off beer.  Poured from a bomber into a pint glass, it has a clear copper color with a finger or so of white head.

It has a very typical IPA aroma, caramel malt base with a strong blended hop aroma. It's tough to tell which typical hop note comes out the most. And there wasn't much wood on the nose.

The wood aging really comes out on the taste. It has some vanilla oak flavor and a caramel base like the aroma. The wood notes blend well with the hops but also masks the bitterness some.

It's a good beer and a good one to get started, but I had a feeling there would be more to come.
My Rating: B+

After that warm-up everyone else started trickling in and the real fun began.  Following the 17th Anniversary DIPA, the IPA list kept growing... Left Coast Hop Juice, Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel Corne De Diable, Squatters IPA, Mikkeller Stateside IPA, Dogfish Head 60 Minute, Red Brick Double IPA, Saint Arnold Divine Reserve 11, Bridgeport IPA, Dogfish Head Squall IPA, Bell's Two-Hearted Ale, Moylans Moylander DIPA, Moylans Hopsicle TIPA, Full Sail Hop Pursuit, Maui Big Swell, BrewDog Mashah Belgian Dark IPA, Boulevard Double-Wide, Cigar City Jai Alai, Breckenridge Lucky U, Sweetwater IPA, He'Brew Lenny's Rye IPA, Avery DuganA, Lagunitas Hop Stoopid, Bear Republic Racer 5, and an Eel River IPA to finish it off.


Yeah, quite the lineup!  About half of them were new to me... I think the highlights of the tasting were the Left Coast Hop Juice, Full Sail Hop Pursuit, Boulevard Double-Wide, and of course the Bell's Two-Hearted.  Everyone had their favorite though, and all of our taste buds were shot by the end of the night. Thanks to everyone who came by and brought beers, and I hope everyone out there enjoyed a fantastic IPA Day!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rice University, Joining The College Beer Licensing Trend!

Alright, by now you probably all know about Tin Roof partnering with LSU to create an LSU licensed beer and potentially partner on educational opportunities in the future.  This is a great idea in my opinion if done properly, and it makes sense with the proximity to one another and the fact that the owners of Tin Roof have ties to LSU.  

Well, over in Houston you have Rice University, and the widely popular Saint Arnold Brewery, which just happens to have been founded by a couple of Rice grads.  To celebrate Rice's 100th birthday Saint Arnold is releasing two beers specially licensed by Rice to feature unique labels.

They will be the Centenni-Ale Blonde Ale and Centenni-Ale Dark Ale.  Now, sorry for anyone expecting new beers... the Blonde Ale is just going to be a new label on their relatively new Weedwacker beer, and the Dark Ale is going to be a new label on their extremely new Santo beer, which I haven't had a chance to try yet.  The Santo is described as a "black Kölsch" and I'm interested to check it out at the least.

So... there's really nothing new here.  No crazy brewing collaboration or classes or experimental beers created by current students.  It's still pretty cool though, in my opinion, that the Saint Arnold guys can celebrate their alma mater this way.  Plus it lends even more credibility to LSU for getting into the beer partnership business when you see other universities and breweries trying similar things.

So, drink up Owl fans! 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Help My Brother Win A Draft Magazine Recipe Contest!

Hey everyone, my brother Jay Ducote, the author of Bite And Booze.com is a finalist for Draft Magazine's Annual Great Grill-out Recipe Contest.  His submission, the "Grilled Pork Chop with Spicy Peach Chutney" was selected out of numerous entries to make the online voting.

Please help by voting.  This contest has a 1 vote per IP address per day limit and only lasts until September 9th.  Give it all you've got and help me Jay another grilling contest!!  Share this link of Facebook, Twitter, message boards, etc. or email it to all your buddies!  Thanks so much everybody, and feel free to vote from multiple computers daily.
You'll have to click on his recipe, the "Grilled Pork Chop with Spicy Peach Chutney" and then click on the link that pops up below the list of recipes to cast your vote.  It's a little tricky, but a few clicks is hardly any time.

And here's what the properly prepared recipe would look like:

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Beer Travels: Back To The Petrol Station, Houston, TX

Alright, I know I wrote more in depth about this place a while back, but I'm still loving it.  I highly recommend any beer fan that might be reading this blog in Houston check out The Petrol Station if you haven't already.  As for the BR people, I know a lot of you visit from time to time, so if you want to experience one of the best beer bars I've been to, stop by this joint.
They routinely have a lot of Texas brews on tap, including Real Ale Brewing (tried their 15th Anniversary Stout there) and new Katy, TX brewery No Label Brewing (@nolabelbrewco).  They also have a good selection of all the microbrews you can get into Texas.  Recent trips have included Avery, Great Divide, Breckenridge, Stone, Lagunitas, and Ska brewing.  One of the most impressive things is how often they rotate their taps.  Every time a beer "floats" there is another craft brew waiting to take its place.  In my four trips now I've been able to find new beers to me every time, so that's a good thing!  In addition I've always had the pleasure of extremely knowledgeable bartenders.  It's obvious they are all into craft beer and they try the beers they serve.  They almost always know the details of the style and can recommend a good beer for you if you give them something to go on.

And if you're in the mood for some food, be sure to check out the burgers.  I'd also recommend the pub fries with feta and rosemary, can't go wrong there.  The only other appetizer I've tried so far is the spinach & artichoke dip, and it was pretty good as well.  I can't say I've ever been disappointed with this place... great beer, a good atmosphere, a knowledgeable staff, and even good food!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence & Lindemans Cassis Lambic

Alright, time for a look at a beer mix... yeah, it's okay to mix beers from time to time.  I don't do it often at all but sometimes it's an interesting way to come up with some new flavors.  I know there are a handful of popular Abita mixes like the "Turbo-gator" Turbodog & Andygator mix and the "Barney" which is an Andygator and Purple Haze blend.
A little while back I was at Mandi's place in Houston, and we decided to try mixing up some beers, in this case the Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence and the Brouwerij Lindemans Cassis Lambic.  Before mixing though, I had to try them individually! 
The Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence (@breweryommegang) is a modest 7% abv belgian dark ale.  It's a little crossed up in styles because it's labeled as a stout in some places and a belgian dark in others.  Either way, it's a chocolatey as fuck beer with a lot of dark fruit flavors.  Okay, seems like a perfect beer to go with the Lindemans Cassis Lambic, which is a fruit beer made from cassis, which is french for black currants.  Okay, so a sweet fruit lambic mixed with a bitter chocolate beer?  Sounds worth a try to me.

I think this mix is a winner... I'm a big fan of the idea of taking a good chocolate beer like Young's Double Chocolate Stout or this one and mixing with a lambic.  The chocolate beers usually taste quite delicious on their own but the lambics tend to be a little too tart for me on their own, but fantastic when mixed in a 1:2 or so ratio with one of these strong stouts or Belgian dark ales.  I know a lot of these lambics (and the Young's) can be found around BR, so give it a try!

Cheers, and enjoy.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Jolly Pumpkin Bombers @ The Beverage Store!

For anyone looking for something new, The Beverage Store on Florida Blvd. has 6 different styles of Jolly Pumpkin beers in bombers. They also have the new Stone 15th Anniversary Black IPA at a great price! I know it's off the beaten path but I'm glad I stopped in.

Craft Beer & Crabs In Slidell

Alright, this is going to be the sort of post where I don't go into crazy detail about each beer's flavor... because I don't really remember too much about them all!  That being said, if I'm going to go crazy with some crabs, why not pair them with some good beer?  Typically I would say that if you're going to eat local crabs you should drink local beer, but I had some more gifts from Danielle Wheeler on hand, plus a bonus beer from my Mom's trip to Key West!  I guess one perk of writing about beer is that people like to bring me interesting beers from their trips.  And I never mind doing the same and sharing when I have some good ones on hand.  Here was the lineup for the day:

The Key West Sunset Ale came courtesy of my Mom of course while Danielle supplied the other 5.  Of all 6 beers only the Bell's Pale Ale was one I had tried before, and I really wasn't impressed the first time around.  After drinking this one I can say for certain that the first must have been a bad bottle, because it was a pretty good beer!  Our appetizer for the afternoon was a plate of stuffed jalapenos... I'm not sure that spicy food is the best to mix with good beer, but hey, at least I'll have something tasty on hand when my tongue starts to burn!

After scorching my tongue with a few of those it was time for some crabs, and James's uncle Mark served them in one of the best ways I've seen, a miniature dugout canoe!  They were fantastic and spicy just like expected, so of course we dug in.

By the time the appetizers and crabs were gone I was done with my 6 craft beers... in all honesty, bringing some new ones was a mistake with such spicy food.  I really should have brought some Abita Strawberry or other less hoppy beer that I already knew I liked rather than some I wasn't sure about.  All the beers were tasty, but I just wasn't able to fully appreciate the subtle flavors with such spice from the food.  I even went through the effort to bring my own glass to catch as much as I could, but still, too much spice on the tongue!  On that note, it was fruity umbrella drinks to finish off the afternoon!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

"Bandit Blonde" Is Coming From LSU And Tin Roof Brewing!

It looks like the partnership between LSU and Tin Roof Brewing is moving along quickly!  The name of the collaboration brew, licensed by LSU but brewed and canned by Tin Roof in Baton Rouge, will officially be called "Bandit Blonde."  As that would indicate, it's going to be a Blonde Ale and of course will be in cans hopefully in time for tailgating!  

The label reads:
Tin Roof has partnered with LSU to bring you this refreshing blonde ale, brewed specifically with the tiger tailgater in mind.  With the help of LSU, we’ve created a truly unique “hands on” educational experience for students interested in the fermentation sciences.
I'm looking forward to this for sure... here's a look at what the cans should look like:

Click on the picture for the full-size view... and with all the recent developments from more local breweries to Parish Brewing's expansion to this, it's still a great time for craft beer in Louisiana. 

A Sneak Peek At The Parish Bottles

For those who don't follow Parish Brewing Company on Facebook, you probably missed the recent unveiling at a tease for the bottle artwork on their page.  It's only a tease, but they are looking great and I'm getting excited.  

The one on the right is obviously the Canebrake, but it looks like we're seeing some South Coast on the left?  Either Andrew is working on a new name for one of his recipes, or he's working on a new recipe to help kick off the new brewery?  Speaking of that new brewery, it's looking like 3 60-barrel fermenters to start out... that's a lot of brewing capacity so expect to see these bottles out shortly. I can't tell you all how thrilled I am at the prospect of Parish beer in Baton Rouge!

So much good Louisiana beer news lately... Raise A Glass everyone!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Two New Northshore Breweries On The Way!

It's always exciting to see new breweries popping up around Louisiana, and the Northshore of Lake Ponchartrain, already home to Abita and Heiner Brau / Covington is looking to add a couple more... 

The one with more info out there is the Pelican Brewing Company, which is aiming to start out small and release in kegs initially to a local market.  I can't say I blame them there, it's the traditional and respected approach to a start-up brewery taken by most of the other local guys like NOLA and Tin Roof and Parish!  There isn't a whole lot on their website yet, but check out their Facebook page for more updates, and hopefully we'll see their beer on tap handles soon.  (And while you're at it, why don't you like my facebook page already huh?) Word on the street (er, interwebs) is that they are aiming for the first quarter of 2012, so here's hoping!  And I hope they don't mind, but I stole their profile picture for this post...

Also coming soon, but with a little less information available, is the Old Rail Brewing Company, which according to what I've read aims to be a brewpub upon opening.  Drawings for the building can be found at the architect's website here, and it certainly looks like it's going to be nice!  No official website is out there, but their graphic designer has two possible logos up at her site.  One of them even says it's coming in 2011?  Well, that's fantastic if you ask me.  Word on the street is that this brewpub is coming from the same proprietors as the Barley Oak, so it sounds like just another reason why I need to plan a good Northshore drinking day in a few months!  Here's the logo... 

So there you go... two potential new Northshore breweries to add to the growing list of Louisiana breweries.  It really is starting to be an exciting time to be a craft beer fan in the Pelican state.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Review: Mendocino Eye Of The Hawk Strong Ale

Alright, another beer you can get in Baton Rouge!  This one was actually brought to me by Danielle Wheeler from out of state, but I know we can get some Mendocino Brewing brews around town, so look for this one at the usual suspects.  And thanks Danielle, you rock!  

This beer is an American Strong Ale, which is as expected a stronger style in terms of alcohol content that encompasses a wide range of flavors.  Many of these are similar to old ales or barleywines while some are just extra-strong pale ales or maybe even amber ales.  For this one, I poured from a 12 ounce bottle into an imperial pint glass. It's a reddish orange color, clear with a couple fingers of slightly off-white head.

The aroma is a good blend of caramel malt and bitter hops. It's a well balanced nose that's very inviting. The taste is mostly hoppy up front then a more malty warmth later through on the sip. Definitely more bitter hop flavor than the smell indicates, with a mostly pine flavor and hints of grapefruit.

It's bitter on the end and full bodied.  A very nice beer with a good bit of flavor complexity and well controlled alcohol content.
My Rating: B+

Friday, August 12, 2011

Tune In To "Raise A Glass" Tonight Or Sunday At 6 PM!

Hello friends and readers! For those of you in Baton Rouge, be sure to tune in to Baton Rouge Community Radio WHYR 96.9 FM at 6 PM to catch the second ever episode of our show! Raise A Glass is a new show about South Louisiana drinking culture hosted by myself and Jay Ducote of Bite and Booze Internet fame. Tonight we talk all about Louisiana Craft Beer! If you miss it tonight the show will re-air Sunday at 6 and we will be releasing podcasts too. So tune in, enjoy, and let us know what you think! 
Yeah, the coverage area for WHYR is pretty small, but if you're driving around BR you should be able to pick it up and listen to us!  

Review: Real Ale 2010 Sisyphus Barleywine

Time for a quick review of the 2010 Sisyphus Barleywine from Real Ale Brewing out of Blanco, TX.  I found this one at Spec's in mid-2011 so it might still be available to anyone heading to Houston?  If not, this is their winter seasonal so the 2011 batch should be out around the end of the year.  

Now, on to this beer... I served it up from a 12 oz. bottle into a Chimay goblet. This vintage has a gold label with the 2010 clearly marked. It's a hazy deep orange color with hardly any head, but that's kind of typical to a strong barleywine and this one is listed at 11.5% alcohol, so it's definitely a strong beer.

The aroma is rich with malty toffee notes and very warm. There's a little hop presence there but not insane and overpowering on the nose.  The hops are much more strong on the tongue, very bitter with floral notes to start out the sip. The toffee malt is there but overpowered by the hops.  It's a bit of a role reversal from the nose.

The bitter aftertaste leaves a slightly less than ideal mouthfeel. This one is a good barleywine but not the best I've tried.  I'll still be more than eager to give the 2011 a try when I see it in store!  
My Rating: B

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Reviews: Sierra Nevada 2011 Beer Camp

Okay, time for some beer than you can find in Baton Rouge!  This is the "Beer Camp" series from Sierra Nevada that features the best of the beers created at their Beer Camp.  The Beer Camp is a special treat for contest winners where beer campers get the VIP treatment at Sierra Nevada complete with creating some beers for commercial production.  Sounds pretty awesome if you ask me!  Some of the best ones are bottled and sent out commercially in mixed 12-packs.  I found some at Calandro's and they can probably still be found at a few places around town.  I also some at Spec's in Houston this past weekend, so they are still out there!

Jay actually picked this pack up and shared with me, so I got two beers each from the 4 Beer Camp releases in the pack.  The one I had featured a Weizenbock, California Common, Juniper Black Ale, and Double IPA.  I was probably least excited about California Common and most excited about the Juniper Black Ale going into this... but hey, sometimes things don't turn out the way you think they will!

The first one I tried was the Weizenbock, a beer style that is intended to be an even stronger version of the dunkel weizen with more bold and complex malt flavors and a noticeably stronger alcohol presence. 
The first thing I noticed, of course, is that is was one great looking beer! It's an orange cloudy beer with a large white frothy head. Good retention and good lacing and everything you would want from the visual appeal of a beer.

The aroma was bready with a large helping of citrus and banana.  It definitely had a lot of the hefeweizen characters while still being a stronger beer at 6.8% abv.  The taste is a lot of the same flavor, banana is pretty dominant again. I like this one a good bit overall, and it's a pleasant surprise from one of the beer camp beers that I wasn't as enthused about.

An easy drinker, very refreshing and delicious, highly recommended unless you don't like wheat beers!

My Rating:  A-

Up next... the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp California Common.  This is a traditional Californian style using a lager strain of yeast that ferments at warmer temperatures.
Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into an imperial pint glass, the beer is a clear deep gold with a couple inches of bubbly white head.  Nothing too special to look at, but appearance isn't everything.

It has a floral and honey aroma, a lot like a Belgian golden ale which is a pleasant surprise. There are also more hops than I was betting on, and an aroma that jumps more than the beer looks like it would.  

The taste is more of the same on this one, very crisp and delicious with an abundance if spicy hop notes.  Well done, these really are the best of the best and it shows.  This California Common was my least anticipated of the bunch but it surprised me.
My Rating: B+
BeerAdvocate: B+ (Hey, two in a row right on the popular opinion...)

Beer Camp #3, the one I was looking forward to the most, was the Juniper Black Ale.  I made sure I had things straight this time and this is indeed a Black IPA or Dark IPA or Cascadian Dark Ale or whatever you want to call this relatively new style of roasted but super hoppy IPA.  Recently I tried the New Belgium 1554 Enlightened Black Ale, but it's actually a Belgian Dark Ale!  This confusion will not stand, man. 
Anyway, getting the style right this time, I poured into an appropriate imperial pint glass. The beer is a dark brown color, clear around the edges with an inch-plus of creamy off-white head. Definitely a good looking beer!

The aroma is a lot of roasted chocolate with just a hint of juniper and a slight hop spice. If I didn't know to look for the juniper I'd probably miss it. The flavor is a lot of the same but the juniper is there a little more and the hops are a little less. It's definitely more roasted than expected.

It's a little thin too, the 8% abv is very well hidden but there is an awkward roasted bitter aftertaste.  I was expecting more, and I think this is lower on my list from the Beer Camp series.
My Rating: B-

And finally, the Double IPA.  This isn't really a new crazy style, so I wasn't as excited, but I do almost always like double IPAs.  Just like the Juniper Black Ale, I poured from a 12 oz. bottle into an imperial pint glass. It's a deep gold color with a large white bubbly head. decent look to it, great retention and lacing.

The aroma is strong with hops, piney, a little citrus and even a hint of caramel in the malt base. The flavor is fantastic, a little sweet malt at the front them big bold piney hops. It has a great blend and really well done.

It's a little bitter in the aftertaste but a good full body.  This is a really nice DIPA and my favorite among the Beer Camp brews.  Definitely a winner.

My Rating: A

In summary, four good beers, a definite winner of a 12-pack and one I'll be on the lookout in the future for their other Beer Camp brews!  Well done, Sierra Nevada, well done.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Review: Red Brick Laughing Skull Amber Ale

A while back I was at the Bulldog, browsing their beer list, when I came across something called a Laughing Skull Amber Ale.  It's a little unusual to find something on tap there that is new to me other than the occasional seasonal or Abita select, so an entirely new brewery was a pleasant surprise.  So, I quickly ordered one and then got on my phone to see what it was exactly that I was ordering.
It wasn't hard to find "Laughing Skull Amber Ale" in the BeerAdvocate directory and I noticed that it was from the Red Brick Brewing Company, formerly known as the Atlanta Brewing Company.    Apparently they always used to market their beers under the Red Brick name similarly to how the Boston Beer Company continues to market their beers under the Sam Adams name.  Unlike the Boston Beer Company, when the Atlanta Brewing Company made the move to more widespread distribution, they just adopted the more common name all around.  It makes sense to me in a world where branding is a big deal.
And, if they are on tap at the Bulldog, then there must be some places to get them in bottles as well.  I've seen a bottle of their Red Brick Double IPA around, so that's good news as far as availability. 

As for the beer, it's a clear amber color with a small white head. There was a faint amber malt smell but really not much on the nose. The taste was much more robust than the aroma, bursting with sweet and malty notes with a really good caramel flavor.

Good beer, not great but easy to take some down. Well carbonated and easy to drink.  I think this is a good beer to split with some friends in a pitcher as it's not likely to be TOO much for anyone, but it's got some good qualities to appease the beer nerds too.
My Rating: B
BeerAdvocate: B-
*Picture from the Red Brick Brewing Company website.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Catch The "Raise A Glass" Radio Show Premiere Tonight!

Hello everyone! For those of you in Baton Rouge, be sure to tune in to Baton Rouge Community Radio WHYR 96.9 FM at 6 PM to catch the premiere! Raise A Glass is a new show about South Louisiana drinking culture hosted by myself and Jay Ducote of Bite and Booze Internet fame. Tonight we talk about one of our favorite drinks, bourbon! If you miss it tonight the show will re-air Sunday at 7 and we will be releasing podcasts too. So tune in, enjoy, and let us know what you think!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Happy International IPA Day Everyone!

Just wanted to say that real quick... it's International IPA Day for those who didn't know... this is a social media driven "holiday" to celebrate one of beers most widely spread and widely celebrated styles.  It apparently was created by another (and more successful I'm sure!) beer blogger called The Beer Wench and with the help of Twitter and some breweries, International IPA Day was born! 

Here's my lineup for tonight... I might get through them all with the help of a few friends...

Cheers, and enjoy International IPA Day!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Reviews: New Belgium Mothership Wit & 1554 Black Ale

Okay, time to get back on track with a few beer reviews for you all.  Both of these came to me courtesy of Danielle Wheeler, who along with being a pretty awesome kickball player loves her craft beer.  As I'm sure you all know, New Belgium Brewing (@newbelgium) is mostly known for their Fat Tire beer, but they also brew some fantastic other beers in their standard lineup and a long line of specialty beers.  I've been enjoying their Lips Of Faith series a lot lately but those will be for another blog post.  

First up, the Mothership Wit, an organic witbier in the Belgian tradition.  Never forget that glassware is important and that beer is always best tasted out of the proper glassware.  For a witbier a pint glass or pilsner glass is recommended but I went with a stange.  It's almost the same as a pilsner glass, so I guess it'll do.
It has a cloudy pale yellow color to it reminiscent of fresh squeezed lemonade. The head is bubbly and frothy and huge with great retention. The aroma is earthy and grassy with a hint of citrus.

The taste is more of the same with no real surprises. It's a good witbier but nothing revolutionary. Good mouthfeel, extremely drinkable, a really nice witbier.  
You can find better witbiers locally like the St. Bernardus Witbier or the Hitachino Nest White Ale, but they are both going to come in more expensive than this New Belgium offering.  For a cheaper version of the style locally, look for a 6-pack of Hoegaarden and enjoy!

My Rating: B+
BeerAdvocate: B

The second New Belgium beer Danielle brought me was the 1554 Enlightened Black Ale.  This one fooled me as based on the name I was expecting a Cascadian Dark Ale, AKA American Black Ale style, but this one is actually a Belgian Dark Ale.  Oops, I had poured it into a pint glass before catching that and this style should definitely go into a Belgian tulip glass.  Oh well, too late now and it's not a HUGE deal.  (Yeah, I know it's New Belgium, but they do other styles, including an IPA or two in there...)

As for the beer, it's a dark brown color with a creamy off-white head. Good retention and great lacing. Yup, the aroma is distinctively Belgian like I should have expected. Smells like dark fruit and chocolate, quite sweet and tasty.

The taste is more of the same, the roasted chocolate notes cone through a lot. It's a little thin, but not bad, and very drinkable.

Despite my glassware mistake, this one is a good beer, very well done, and I'd try it again.

My Rating: B+
BeerAdvocate: B+

So there you go, a couple of solid beers from New Belgium to check out when you get the chance.  I know Fat Tire is their flagship, but they really do some other good stuff too.