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+