Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Truck, The Brewer, And The Blogger II

A couple of weeks ago I was invited by Jay Ducote of to attend his second dinner at the Tin Roof Brewery.  Called "The Truck The Brewer And The Blogger II" the event was promoted as "Louisiana Re-Imagined" and featured Jay's cooking talents, the Taco de Paco Food Truck, and the beers of the Tin Roof Brewing Company.  Mandi and I arrived a few minutes early to find Jay and the crew working hard on their dishes.  

Several friends from Brasseurs A La Maison were also attending the dinner so we picked out some seats with them and started on the first few beers.  The first appetizer to come out was the Red Beans and Smoked Sausage Spring Roll... now I'll admit I really get put off by the texture of red beans so I passed on this one, but Mandi and the others seemed to really enjoy it.  

Appetizer (er, hors do'oeuvres) number two was a fried Louisiana oyster served on a bed of wilted spinach with absinthe butter sauce.  Now this was more my speed as I really enjoy fried oysters.  The absinthe butter sauce really added a nice kick of flavor to the perfectly fried oyster.  Very well done dish, and since Mandi doesn't eat seafood, I enjoyed a pair!

Up next was the soup course, a cream of corn soup topped with crumbled bacon.  It was served piping hot along with a nice cool pitcher of Tin Roof Blonde, so once we had passed the beer around the table and all topped off it was time to try the soup.  And we were not disappointed, as both Mandi and I both thought it was the best dish yet.  Rich, hearty, and I loved the bit of flavor the bacon imparted while still leaving it as a corn soup.  Jay even said that he used the Tin Roof Blonde in making the soup... it didn't leave a major beer flavor, but I applaud the effort to get the beer involved in the dishes.

The first dinner course came courtesy of Taco de Paco, their herb roasted quail with an andouille risoto and a drizzle of gumbo sauce.  I really enjoyed the quail, and Mandi said that the risoto was quite nice as well.  A few people had undercooked quail, but mine was just about right and seasoned perfectly.  This course was paired with the Tin Roof Perfect Tin Amber Ale, a hoppier amber ale but it went well with the spices in the quail.

Our second dinner course was also a Taco de Paco creation. For this course we were brought out turtle meat over smothered potatoes and onions, with pickled shallots.  I hate being critical at these sort of events, but the turtle was extremely tough and really hard to eat.  Some people at the table enjoyed it a lot, but I only ate a few pieces and wasn't sad to see the rest go.  I guess not all dishes are a hit, but I do admire the gusto to serve a turtle dish. 

We were also treated to a sneak preview of the Tin Roof Voodoo Bengal Pale Ale cans with the turtle dish!  These guys should be in stores now, so if you're looking for a solid canned pale ale, drink local.

Finally, the dessert course!  And I was excited to try the rum-soaked banana cupcake with a bananas foster icing created by Christina Stevens.  This did not disappoint at all, leaving a lasting impression on all the diners.  The sauce was really killer, I could have eaten a cup of that along and been satisfied, but the cupcake was phenomenal as well.  Really a well done dessert, and a great compliment to the Tin Roof Parade Ground Coffee Porter, their latest seasonal and probably their best brew yet.  

All in all it was an enjoyable evening.  Not all dishes were hits, but I think the corn soup and cupcake dessert were two of the better food items I've eaten recently.  And the beers worked well to compliment the various courses, especially the coffee porter.

Be on the lookout for another one of these events before too long, and don't hesitate to check it out! The best way to stay up to date about the next one is to go to and sign up for Jay's e-mail list.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Feature Beer Friday! - Anchor Christmas Ale 2012

It might be after Christmas, but it's still December, so it's still cool if I feature a Christmas ale, right?  RIGHT?  I thought so.  Rounding out 2012 is another of the classic Christmas Ales, the Anchor Brewing Our Special Ale 2012. Yeah, that's the legit name, but everyone just refers to it as Anchor Christmas, so I will as well.  Anchor is one of the originators of the craft brewing movement in the USA, tracing their roots all the way back to 1849.  

The brewery was bought and re-named to Anchor in 1896, closed during prohibition and then eventually succumbed to emergence of the mass-produced lagers and closed again in 1959.  The brewery re-opened for a brief period in the 1960s, then was on the verge of closing down again when Fritz Maytag bought a majority ownership and transformed Anchor in to what it is today, the grandfather of the modern craft beer renaissance in the United States.

Reviewers: Eric Ducote (BR Beer Scene), Jay Ducote (Bite And Booze), Jeremy Spikes  and James Lawson ( 

Serving: 12 oz. glass bottle.

Appearance: "Dark red hue, tan head, nice body," was Jay's impression, and I agreed.  All of us scored the appearance 12/15 or better. 

Aroma: I found that it had a strong aroma of nutmeg, and was very cake-like. Jay also described it more as a toasted cake, with spices.  I think it's a fantastic holiday spice aroma.

Taste: Christmas cake.  This beer's aroma and flavor really evoke the season and the spices of the season.  Very well done.

Mouthfeel: A little roasted but easy drinking.  Jeremy described it as, "smooth & drinkable."

Overall: Pretty much universaly enjoyed with three of the four of us scoring this one at 80 or above.  I find it to be a classic Christmas ale, and as of this posting there was still more to be found in Baton Rouge at places like Whole Foods, Calandro's and The Beverage Store.
Overall Rating: 79.75

My Rating:84

Friday, December 21, 2012

Feature Beer Friday! - Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale 2012

Up now is one of the classic holiday beers from Sierra Nevada, the 2012 Celebration Ale.  This beer comes out every year and it's a much anticipated release for many beer nerds out there.  The main difference between the Celebration Ale and traditional holiday beers, is that Celebration is a fresh hop IPA, and it's not shy about it.  It marks the beginning of the hop harvesting season, and is brewed with fresh hops typically less than a week from picking.
Reviewers: Eric Ducote (BR Beer Scene), Jay Ducote (Bite And Booze), Jeremy Spikes  and James Lawson ( 

Serving: 12 oz. glass bottle. 

Appearance: Red-orange color, small head.  Jay said it was "cloudy with a chance of ale."  Ha. 

Aroma: Hoppy, Jay described it as evergreen sap, I picked up some spices, but I think that's my mind playing tricks on me. 

Taste: Very piney flavor to the hops in this one... I still think I'm getting some holiday spice feel from the placebo effect, but it's a tasty beer.  As expected, Jeremy didn't care for the taste too much... we'll convert him to an IPA drinker one day. 

Mouthfeel: Very bitter, a "hop sting" as Jeremy said

Overall: This one split our panel, with Jay and I liking the beer and scoring it in the 70s, while Jeremy and James weren't big fans and both scored it in the low 60s.  It's not my favorite IPA, probably not my favorite holiday beer, but I do enjoy it.   

Overall Rating: 67.25

My Rating:76

Friday, December 14, 2012

Feature Beer Friday! - Innis & Gunn Winter Beer 2012

Have you never heard of Innis & Gunn before?  All I can say about that is don't feel bad... neither had I.  Jay brought this beer to the Raise A Glass table so naturally we all had some beer and had ourselves a good old beer review.  It turns out Innis & Gunn is a brewery from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, and they started out as part of an experiment to create an ale-finished scotch, not the other way around.  After realizing how delicious the beer was after oak aging, they decided to brew the beer full time, focusing exclusively (it appears) on wood aged brews.  This beer is an oak-aged porter checking in at 7.4% abv. 
Reviewers: Eric Ducote (BR Beer Scene), Jay Ducote (Bite And Booze), Jeremy Spikes  and James Lawson (, and Brenton Day (

Serving: 12 oz. clear-glass bottle.

Appearance: Reddish, decent head.  Not a Porter!  I think we all agreed that while the beer had a decent look to it, it didn't look at all like a porter. 

Aroma: Rich, oaky, and caramel were three of my notes for the aroma.  Jay picked up notes of candy, oak, and fruit, and Brenton really caught on to the molasses that this is supposedly brewed with.

Taste: Sweet, very oaky again which makes a lot of sense for an oak-aged beer.  There were definitely notes of vanilla as well from the oak aging, which most likely took place in an old bourbon barrel.  

Mouthfeel: I thought this one was easy to drink, and the 7.4% abv was a perfect midrange strength for the beer.
  It definitely could have stood to have some more body to it though, as Brenton and Jeremy both found it to be on the thin side.

Overall: This one was a surprise to me, especially after seeing it show up in a clear glass bottle and look nothing like a porter.  In the end, you can't really say that this is a porter in anything but the name, I think, but it was still a very nice beer and very enjoyable.  I'll be looking for more from Innis & Gunn, especially some of the specialty whiskey-aged beers.

Overall Rating: 79.4

My Rating:82

Monday, December 10, 2012

Westveletern XII Is Coming On 12/12/12

It's been a long while in the making, but the much anticipated release of the Westy XII is finally near.  It is slated to hit the shelves on this Wednesday, 12/12/12. I've heard conflicting information about the retail price, with the sets being anywhere from $90 to $125, but I do know that the big places in town like Calandro's and Whole Foods will be carrying it.  I also know that a few bars, including Cove, will be selling the individual bottles for consumption. 

I've had a couple of opportunities to try the Westvleteren XII over the last few years and I must say it does not disappoint.  It has lofty expectations for a beer that is in the debate for the best in the world, but I thought that it really followed through on the expectations.  Of course "best in the world" is subject to debate for eternity, but I think it's safe to say this one is in the discussion.  It's typically only available in Belgium at the monastery, so take advantage of this chance to try some stateside without resorting to the black market! 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Feature Beer Friday! - Lazy Magnolia Timber Beast

And we're back with some more Feature Beer Friday!  On tap (er, in bottle) today is the Lazy Magnolia Timber Beast, their Rye IPA and their first "big beer" after the abv laws in Mississippi were amended to allow up to about 10% alcohol as opposed to the previous 6%.  unfortunately this one hasn't made its way to Baton Rouge just yet, but I have to imagine it won't be TOO long.  We get Lazy Magnolia's other beers, and it's as close as New Orleans, so if you're that way you might see some bottles, or even find it on tap.  
As mentioned, this beer is their Rye IPA, coming in at 9% abv!  This is quite a step up for Lazy Magnolia, and I'm glad they went with something like this as soon as the laws changed instead of easing into the world of higher abv beers.  Judging by the fact that we still can't find it on the shelves in Baton Rouge, there must be a market for the beer.  Now, on to the review...
Reviewers: Eric Ducote (BR Beer Scene), Jay Ducote (Bite And Booze), Jeremy Spikes  and James Lawson (, and Brenton Day (

Serving: 12 oz. standard bottle.

Appearance: "Hazy, deep gold, frothy white head." "Great lacing," was Brenton's comment.  This one received a 12 or 13 from everyone at the table, out of 15 possibly points.

Aroma: A good hop aroma of pine and grapefruit, but also some rye spice.
  Jay also picked up some citrus and lemon zest in the hop profile, while Brenton described it as peppery.

Taste: Hops, lots of hops, and Jay found that the pine, or Douglas fir, hops came through more on the taste.  

Mouthfeel: Lingering bitter with a big finish, a lot to take in, but enjoyable.

Overall: Jeremy, our resident hop hater, described it as a "hop monster," but still found enough redeeming qualities to score it a 68... maybe we're converting him yet.  James described it as "not quite Christmas tree... but close."  In my opinion this is Lazy Magnolia's best beer yet, and one to definitely pick up when you get the chance!

Overall Rating: 74.2
My Rating: 77

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Homebrewing With Midwest Supplies

Not too long ago I was contacted by Midwest Supplies about trying out one of their brewing kits and writing about it, so needless to say I took them up on the offer.  I don't write about as much as I do commercial beer, but I've been homebrewing for about two years now.  I enjoy the art of it, the creativity of creating your own beer, and I don't really mind the consumption of the finished product either.  So far, all I had done were my own recipes, but I know there are plenty of fantastic kits out there, so when the offer arose I knew Mandi had been really wanting to brew a pumpkin beer, so it was the perfect choice.

The kit came with almost all the ingredients required for the beer, everything but the pumpkin really, but that was easy to find on our own, and cheap as well.  Since I wanted to see how well these kits could be used by a less experience brewer, Mandi was the head brewer for this round, and I just sat back as the assistant to take some pictures and drink some beers!

First up, the water... I've always had the habit of using bottled water when brewing extract beers... it's probably all in my head, but the few times I tried with tap water the beer tasted off and I've never had that problem with just some natural spring water... at $6 for a full batch it's worth the little extra money.  I'm sure if you are brewing at home the tap water would be acceptable, but it also can't hurt to take the extra step.

From there, it was time to get the water to steeping temperature (155) and steep the specialty grains.  The instructions said to steep them for 10-30 minutes, and that 10 minutes was fine if you are pressed for time.  I just have one word of advice here... if you are pressed for time, DO NOT start a batch of beer.  It's a long process, no matter how much you try to rush it.  We went for the full 30 minutes on the steep, in a muslin bag that I had already (equipment was not included in the kit, but Midwest does sell a wide range of kits) and got the grains to steeping.

Once the grains were steeped Mandi pulled the bag out and got the water to a boil, while adding the malt extract and brown sugar and stirring until they were dissolved.  Since this was an extract kit, the extra step of malting and sparging the grains to extract all the sugar was unnecessary, which saves some time and I've made several tasty beers this way.  Even the award winning Rosemary IPA (2012 gold medal at the Dixie Cup!) was an extract brew.  As soon as the boil hit, the first hops went in, and then it was just hanging out until the end of the boil, when the pumpkin, the spices, and last bit of hops went into the pot.

The second to last step of brew day, was to chill the wort down to fermentation temperature... I have a copper heat exchange coil which works pretty well but even that can take 30-45 minutes.  It's a lot to ask to bring 5.5 (after boil off) gallons of water from 212 degrees down to 68.  Eventually though, the beer was at the right temperature, and Mandi pitched the yeast, gave it a stir, and the carboy went into the fermentation fridge.

As you can see, there was a lot of pumpkin sediment in the bottom, but that's alright.  It'll settle out over the course of a few rackings and won't make it into the finished beer.  After letting the beer ferment for a few weeks it was racked into secondary, and then kegged.  A couple of days of carbonation later, and the beer was ready to drink!  I thought it turned out very nice... and easy-drinking pumpkin ale with good pumpkin flavor and still some hop bitterness.  This beer actually smelled a lot hoppier when it was fermenting, but it settled down to a nice level for the finished product.  The color is right on for a pumpkin ale, and I must say I was very pleased with the finished product.  Mandi did a fantastic time with her brew, and with the instructions provided it was pretty easy to get the job done. 

If I had any suggestions, it would be that the directions were a combination of too intense, or too simple.  There were a lot of 10-30 minutes, or 5-10 minutes in there that could have been done away with in favor of an exact number. There were also some quick instructions which would have been fine for an experienced brewer but way too simple for someone with little to no experience.  This kit isn't really made to be an introduction to brewing though, it's an ingredient kit and it put out a really nice pumpkin ale.  If you want to get into brewing but don't have the equipment, find a friend who does, buy a kit like this, and get them to help you through it.  Then relax and have a homebrew!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Feature Beer Friday! - Sierra Nevada / Russian River Brux

This weeks feature beer comes to us from a couple of highly regarded California breweries, Sierra Nevada and Russian River.  Sierra Nevada is one of the nation's largest craft breweries but still puts out excellent beers on a regular basis and some really fantastic seasonal and special release beers.  Russian River is unfortunately not available in Louisiana but they are best know for their Pliny IPAs and a remarkable lineup of sours.  
For this beer, the two breweries collaborated on their domesticated wild ale, using Belgian yeast strains for primary fermentation, but putting some brett years (gives off a characteristic sour flavor) into the bottles for secondary bottle fermentation.  There are still some of these available around BR, and after this review I think it ages well, so go get one!
Reviewers: Eric Ducote (BR Beer Scene), Jay Ducote (Bite And Booze), Jeremy Spikes  and James Lawson (, and Brenton Day (

Serving: 750ml bottle, corked & caged.

Appearance: "Deep gold, hazy, white head." "Pale & foggy," was Jay's comment.  No bad scores, but nothing amazing either.

Aroma: Spicy but still sour... it really reminded me of a fireball candy wrapped in a sour skittle.

Taste: This really smoothed out the aroma, blending the flavors nicely into an easy drinking but still sour package.  Jay picked up notes of clove and allspice, while Brenton also found some banana.  

Mouthfeel: A very flavorful finish, and I loved the funk.

Overall: This one scored very well, James said that he would highly recommend it and I agree.  This is a really pleasing sour that aged very well and should continue to do so.  

Overall Rating: 84
My Rating: 88

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Get Ready For New Belgium In Louisiana!

Hey everyone, exciting new beer news today from as it was announced that New Belgium Brewing (facebook - twitter) out of Fort Collins, Colorado is looking to make their way to the Louisiana market in April of 2013.  They will of course bring with them their popular Fat Tire Amber Ale, but more exciting to me is their Lips Of Faith series.  This is their select series including collaborations with other breweries and often showcasing some of the sour or wild styles.  This is pretty exciting for beer drinkers in and around Baton Rouge, and it's always great to get a new brewery in town.    

Full press release:

(Fort Collins, CO) – New Belgium is headed to Louisiana and Alaska in 2013 and has a lot of new beers coming in the pipeline for next year, according to the company’s spokesman. BeerPulse caught up with Bryan Simpson last week to get the skinny on future plans.

"Both of those states are ones that we’ve been looking at for a long time,” says Simpson. “Certainly Louisana being contiguous to Texas makes a lot of sense where we have trucks already heading down there. We think Alaska is an interesting place. A lot of us just have an affinity for it and we have a couple folks who have lived up there.”

The company is in the midst of building distributor profiles and timing is expected to be by early fall, similar to when the company entered Michigan. Correction: New Belgium says on Twitter that Louisiana will be “mid-April-ish.”

Simpson explains that the company is in a holding pattern of sorts when it comes to capacity so in order to add more-densely populated areas, they’d have to add more capacity than what they’re currently in the midst of adding.
New Belgium is on pace to brew 775,000 barrels this year, up nearly 9% from last year’s mark of 713,000 barrels. With the addition of new tanks, annual capacity grows from 800,000 barrels to 925,000 barrels.
As for the beer lineup…
Shift Pale Lager is coming to 12 oz. cans and draft with a national rollout slated for February.
Belgo IPA will be replaced by Rampant Imperial IPA at the end of the first quarter and will be a first Imperial IPA for them in the core lineup.
Rolle Bolle Belgian Golden Ale will replace Somersault as the summer seasonal and Accumulation White IPA will replace Snow Day as the winter seasonal.
Red Hoptober and Dig will return again as seasonals.
New to the Lips of Faith Series in Q1 will be Sultana Cascara Quad. Cascara is the husk of a coffee bean and adds an earthy and leathery tone to the beer. Other Lips of Faith beers to come include: Pluot (Q2), Coconut Curry Hefeweizen and a new wild ale (Q3), Yuzu Berlinerweiss (Q4).
New Belgium also has some collaborations in the works, each to be released as part of the Lips of Faith Series.
They will brew with Dieu de Ciel on a Q1 beer called Feijoa. Another will be a dandelion beer with Red Rock out of Utah called Paardebloem. That will come out in Q2. There is currently no collaboration partner lined up for the fall. The brewers will team up with De Dolle on a release next winter.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Feature Beer Friday! - Parish Grand Reserve

Alright, time for a special Feature Beer Friday treat, a sneak preview of the upcoming Parish Grand Reserve!  This barleywine styled beer is set to hit shelves in Baton Rouge at the end of November, and there should be enough to go around.  Parish Brewing (facebook - twitter) is also making a second appearance on Feature Beer Friday with the Canebrake being previously spotlighted

Reviewers: Eric Ducote (BR Beer Scene), Jay Ducote (Bite And Booze), Jeremy Spikes  and James Lawson (, and Brenton Day (

Serving: 750ml bottle, the commercial release will be waxed.

Appearance: "Ruby red." "nice tan head on a red beer, residual foam." We all scored it 13 or 14 out of 15 possibly points.

Aroma: Caramel malt, rich, Brenton thought it found a nice hoppy-malt balance, and Jay picked up notes of apricot on the nose.

Taste: Sweet, a little hoppy, rich with caramel malts.  Brenton, Jay, and James all commented on fruit flavors coming through as well.  

Mouthfeel: "Creamy, smooth finish." This one really had a nice finish and the alcohol content really balanced well with the flavors.

Overall: This was the first beer to receive scores at 90, from two of us. It was very well received and will be up there as one of the best locally produced beers.  If you do get a chance to get your hands on some, be sure to age one and see how this one tastes in a year when the 2013 batch comes out!

Overall Rating: 86.66
My Rating: 90

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Review: Saint Arnold Bishop's Barrel No. 1

A while back I mentioned this upcoming brew from Saint Arnold Brewing Company (facebook - twitter), their first barrel-aged release under the new Bishop's Barrel series.  It's only available in a handful of bars/retaurants around town, but last I checked they still had some in stock.  Check The Bulldog, The Cove, and The Chimes for sure if you want to grab one before they are gone!  

This first release is a Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, and they knocked this one out of the park.  I was a little concerned at first that not being able to buy it retail and age the beer would leave it a little too "hot" and boozy, but I think Saint Arnold did a nice job of aging this one for us to let it mellow out before it hit the market.  The reportedly aged it for a whopping 10 months in Knob Creek barrels and the bourbon influence is astounding.  The vanilla and oak bourbon notes play right into the rich malt character of the stout base.  The beer isn't one to be chugged down, but rather sipped, and can easily be shared with a friend if you don't want to take down one by yourself. 

It's not a cheap beer, but this is definitely one that deserves to be tried if you are a fan of top notch craft beer offerings.  I'm thrilled that this beer found its way to Louisiana and that we were able to get a decent supply at the local bars.  Try it before it's too late, you won't regret it at all!  Well done Saint Arnold, well done indeed.  

Monday, November 12, 2012

Celebrate Tin Roof's 2nd Anniversary This Friday!

Hey everyone, the local brewery Tin Roof will be turning 2 years old this Friday and they are planning a party to benefit Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge.  They have definitely come a long way over those two years with their third full-release beer, a canning line, and now two different seasonal offerings.  The food trucks will be there as well, so if you can make, it it's good food and beer for a good cause.  Here's the full press release:

Tin Roof Brewing Company’s 2nd Anniversary benefitting Cancer Services

A special ‘Food Truck Friday’ will help improve life for those living with cancer.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Baton Rouge, La. - November 2, 2012 – Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge will be
helping Tin Roof Brewing Co. celebrate their 2nd anniversary with a special Food Truck

This free event will take place on Friday, November 16th from 5-8 p.m. at the
brewery’s location off Nicholson (1624 Wyoming Street). Food and beer will be
available for purchase and proceeds from Tin Roof beer sold at the event will benefit
Cancer Services’ mission to improve life for those living with cancer.

Tin Roof is no stranger to hosting Baton Rouge’s food trucks, but this event is unique.
John Peak, Marketing Director for Tin Roof Brewing Co., explains, “We love being
a part of this community. The opportunity to raise money for Cancer Services while
celebrating our 2 year anniversary is really something special.” In addition to their
attendance and support, the Baton Rouge Mobile Food Vendors Association will honor
the local brewery’s success; each of the food trucks will feature a menu item cooked
with one of Tin Roof’s five brews. Participating Food Trucks include Taco de Paco,
CURBSIDE, Dolce de Vita Pizza, FRESH, Three Bones and Pullin’ Pork. A family-
friendly event, all ages may attend, though only those 21 years or older can receive a
wristband to purchase beer. Live music will be provided by local musician Blake Breaux.

Cancer Services Executive Director Mimi Riche shares the excitement, “Cancer Services is a local agency completely dependent on the generosity of this community. Partnering with local businesses means so much to us.”

For more information about the event, contact Cancer Services at 225-927-2273.

Since 1959, Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge has provided free of charge programs, services, assistance and support to meet the changing medical, financial, educational and emotional needs of cancer patients and their families within a 10-parish area. If you would like more information about Cancer Services, please visit

Friday, November 9, 2012

Feature Beer Friday! - NOLA Hopitoulas

Time to go local again, with the much anticipated canned release of the NOLA Hopitoulas IPA.  NOLA Brewing (facebook - twitter) is of course out of New Orleans, LA, and have a great regular lineup plus some awesome seasonals like the Irish Channel Stout.  This one has been a BR Beer Scene favorite on tap for a while now, but just recently started hitting the Baton Rouge market in 16-ounce cans, perfect for tailgating!

Reviewers: Eric Ducote (BR Beer Scene), Jay Ducote (, and James Lawson (, and Charles (
Serving: 16 ounce can.

Appearance: Deep gold, good head, good color, nothing to complain about here.

Aroma: The aroma wasn't as strong as expected, which was good for someone like Charles who isn't a huge IPA fan
.  I found it to be more reserved that the Schlafly A IPA that we tried earlier, look for it on a future Feature Beer Friday!

Taste:  Very smooth, still a little more reserved and less hop forward than expecting, especially out of a beer so fresh.  

Mouthfeel: I found it to be a little creamy, which is a good thing, and also with a slight lingering hop bitterness that didn't bother me at all.  Jay described it as a pretty standard IPA mouthfeel.

Overall: We all enjoyed the beer, but I feel like it loses something out of the can as opposed to on tap.  Charles, who isn't really an IPA gay said it was a "good starter beer for a non IPA drinker," and I agree.  I also feel like it's the best local example of the style, and there's nothing wrong with drinking local!  

Overall Rating: 72.5
My Rating:69

Friday, November 2, 2012

Feature Beer Friday! Newcastle Founder's Ale & Werewolf

Alright, time for a Feature Beer Friday double-dip, this time from Newcastle out of England!  Newcastle Brown Ale is the famous brand out of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, but these days Newcastle (now owned by Heineken) is no longer in the city of Newcastle and also has branched out into various other seasonal beers.  We had a few bottles on the Raise A Glass radio show, so I think it's time for a Newcastle double-dip!

First up, the Founder's Ale!  This is Newcastle's English Pale Ale offering, and their Spring seasonal.

Reviewers: Eric Ducote (BR Beer Scene), Jay Ducote (, and Jeremy Spikes ( 
Serving: 12 ounce bottle.

Appearance: "looks like Abita Amber" was one comment, and I'm sure almost all of my readers know exactly what that beer looks like.

Aroma: A little hops, mostly biscuity malts, you just don't expect and English Pale Ale to be as hoppy as the American version

Taste:  Poorly balanced, boring, not exciting at all.  Jeremy had this one scored at a 28/40 but Jay and I both put it below the 20 midpoint.  

Mouthfeel: I didn't like the mouthfeel at all, and thought it had a bad lingering aftertaste.

Overall: Jay and I really disliked this one, with scores below 50... Jeremy was a little more favorable but still noted that it wasn't as good as the regular Newcastle Brown Ale.

Overall Rating: 49.33
My Rating: 42
Second up, the Werewolf.  This is Newcastle's Irish Red Ale offering, and their Fall seasonal.

Reviewers: Eric Ducote (BR Beer Scene), Jay Ducote (, Jeremy Spikes (, and James Lawson (
Serving: 12 ounce bottle.

Appearance: "Clear amber color, decent head, but otherwise boring" was one comment, and we all agreed that there was nothing special to it0.

Aroma: Boring was the best adjective to describe the aroma... foul was one of the worst
.  A few of the others might require earmuffs if you're reading aloud near children.  "Smells like wolf shit or turdwolf," as Jeremy put it.

Taste:  "Tastes like shit."  Enough said. 

Mouthfeel: Watery and lame.

Overall: None of us liked this beer, at all.  It was just a terrible swing and a miss from Newcastle and I'm surprised it made it to the public.  

Overall Rating:27.25
My Rating:26
I hate really being mean to beers, but these both need some serious work.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Coming Soon: Saint Arnold Bishop's Barrel No. 1

Just saw this on Saint Arnold's facebook site and also on, but it appears Saint Arnold's barrel aging project is ready to release the first offering on November 5th, a bourbon barrel aged imperial stout that will be known as Bishop's Barrel No. 1.  Kudos to them for instituting a barrel aging program and really trying to put out some great beers beyond their main lineup.  I'll admit that a bourbon barrel imperial stout isn't really groundbreaking, but it's also a proven winning combination.  Their second Bishop's Barrel offering has already been announced as an old ale in chardonnay barrels with cherries... now that sounds interesting, and delicious.  This first release will only be available in bars and restaurants, not retail, but I'd bet that places like Avenue Pub and The Cove will be on the list to get a few.  Read the full press release below!

Press Release:
(Houston, TX) – Saint Arnold Brewing Co. (, the oldest craft brewery in Texas is preparing to launch the Bishop’s Barrel series next week. Saint Arnold Bishop’s Barrel, which will only be available in bars and restaurants, will feature small batches of a variety of barrel aged beers under the Saint Arnold Bishop’s Barrel label. As is the case with Saint Arnold’s highly regarded Divine Reserve series, each batch of Bishop’s Barrel will be distinguished by the number on the neck label.
Saint Arnold Bishop’s Barrel No. 1 is a Russian Imperial Stout aged for nearly 10 months in used oak bourbon barrels that the brewery acquired from Kentucky’s Woodford Reserve distillery. Saint Arnold emptied 48 barrels, which produced 948 cases of 12-ounce bottles. Bishop’s Barrel No. 1 will ship to bars and restaurants throughout Texas and Louisiana on Monday, November 5, 2012.
“We filled our first barrel in 2005, mainly for our own enjoyment,” said Saint Arnold founder/brewer Brock Wagner. “We slowly expanded our barrel program to a few barrels here and there before beginning our barrel program in earnest at the end of last year. The barrels essentially become one more ingredient in the beer recipe adding both the character of the beverage previously stored in the barrel as well as flavors extracted from the wood.”
Bishop’s Barrel No. 1 is a pleasant sipping beer with the bourbon both present but not overpowering. It pours a black color with a nose that is all bourbon and chocolate. The taste starts with a mix of spice with the bourbon and chocolate emerging and lingering through the finish. The warmer it gets, the better Bishop’s Barrel No. 1 tastes. The brewery recommends serving between 55 and 60 degrees.
Since moving into its downtown brewery more than three years ago, Saint Arnold has planned to expand its barrel aging. The brewery features a 2,000 square foot barrel room housing over 200 barrels acquired from California wineries and Kentucky distilleries. Saint Arnold uses the barrels one time before they are retired. They make lovely tables or flower pots after that.
Aging is currently underway for three future Bishop’s Barrel offerings, including Bishop’s Barrel No. 2, which will be an Old Ale in Chardonnay barrels with cherries. It has been aging for nearly a year and is scheduled for release in February 2013. The barrels came from a winery founded in 1981 by Wagner’s cousin.
“Our brewers are enjoying the challenge of deciding what to put into a barrel next,” said Wagner.
Barrel aging beer is a very small niche in the overall craft brewing industry, but it has gained in popularity as tastes evolve and appreciation for craft beer varieties has grown. The Great American Beer Festival has four categories devoted to wood- and barrel-aged beers that attracted more than 300 entries in 2011.