Monday, January 30, 2012

Review: Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA

I'm sure many of you have seen the Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA (@sierranevada)
around the stores locally, but it's time for a quick review in case anyone out there is debating buying a 6-pack.  Or just wants to know what I think.

I actually picked these up while at Spec's in Houston but it's all over Baton Rouge as well.  I've seen it recently at Calandro's and Matherne's and I have no doubt that other go-to beer places (or even the bigger grocery stores) will also have some 6-packs on the shelf.  This is one of Sierra Nevada's four seasonal ales to go with the Summerfest, Tumbler, and Celebration Ale.  It's a bit early for a Spring beer, but as they say, it's meant to "create a complex ale for the tumultuous transition to spring."  And so far in 2011-12 we have barely had a winter anyway!
Back to the beer... I poured into a Karbach Brewing pint glass, it's a dark amber color, clear with a white head. Not bad looking, but nothing absolutely amazing.

The aroma is really strong with rye and not surprising from Sierra Nevada a good many hops. There is a faint caramel malt balance underneath as well.  The flavor profile is quite similar to the aroma except the hops are more pronounced while the malts fade. The rye adds a nice spice to the beer similar to a rye whiskey.

The mouthfeel is very medium bodied beer with a strong rye aftertaste.  Another good beer from Sierra Nevada.  Obviously if you aren't a hops fan this is one to avoid, but if you like the hops this one is worth buying a 6-pack or sharing with some friends.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Attend a "Raise A Glass" recording 1/24 at Roux Wine & Spirits!

Hello everyone!

Tomorrow night, January 24th, we will be having our first ever on location recording of the Raise A Glass radio show.  The recording will be at Roux Wine & Spirits, on Airline Hwy. in Prairieville in the same shopping center as the Rotolo's.  If you want to google maps it, the address is 17540 Airline Hwy, Ste E, Prairieville, LA 70769.  The party starts at 7, with the Final Four episode being aired, and then we will tape out finals episode where we name the Raise A Glass whiskey tournament champion! The owner will have all of the Final Four whiskeys on hand to try and if there is a tie among the four panelists, the crowd is the tiebreaker!  It won't be aired live, but we will be recording as if it was. 
It would be fantastic to have a good turnout, so please come out and bring some friends.  There will be good booze, good people, and good fun!  If you haven't been following the whiskey tournament you can always catch up on iTunes here!
And always, Raise A Glass. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Review: Big Flats Beer

Yeah, I had to try it.  

Big Flats 1901 Lager Beer, for those blissfully unaware, is the new-ish lager from Walgreens that sells for a whopping $2.99 per 6-pack.  It's contract brewed (of course) through World Brews which does contract brews for other stores like Trader Joe's and Costco.  

The real question is... just how bad is this beer?  Is it so terrible that even the 50c per can price tag is too high or is it drinkable enough to where I might pick up a few for a canoe trip if the money is tight?  Surprisingly I think the answer is the latter... this beer is by NO means good, it's a pretty mediocre beer at best, but it's cheaper than the big boys and in situations where quantity is valued over quality there's not reason not to grab a few packs.  It's not like I'm looking for a quality beer when I do reach for the Bud Light or Miller anyway right?

So, in short, I think this beer accomplished its goal, which is to be a cheap as hell minimal flavored lager.  The 4.5% abv is coming in between the light beers and the mainstream adjunct lagers and the flavor is about on par, as in minimal.  So, the next time I feel like bringing some cheap cans of alcoholic water canoeing, this might be the ticket.  

Unless of course the bank account says I can afford some cans Tin Roof Amber or NOLA Blonde... then the Big Flats is off the list.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Coming in February - Stone / NOLA Collaboration Beer!

I'm sure that any of you who read any beer forums or have Facebook and follow the local breweries/bars already know this, but get ready for some Stone Brewing / NOLA Brewing collaboration beer!  It's going to be an Imperial Porter that is brewed with satsuma orange peels and Steen's molasses.  The name will appropriately be "Pour Me Something Mistah" which I think is great despite the length.  

Look for a release party on Feb. 11th (if all goes to plan, and that's my birthday, so thanks Stone and NOLA for that awesome present!) at Avenue Pub, then hopefully the beer will make its way to local tap lines.  It will only be available on draft it seems, so that limits the options for drinking some, but I'm going to make damn sure to try it.

Stone has been one of the best craft beers in our market since they entered a couple of years ago so it's extremely exciting to see them teaming up with one of the best local breweries.  This is nothing but a good thing for Louisiana craft beer.  Cheers!

Draft Magazine's 100 Best Beer Bars in America - 2012

And it's back, Draft Magazine's list of America's 100 Best Beer Bars!  The 2011 version featured a couple of New Orleans beer bars... Avenue Pub (duh) and Cooter Brown's.  This year, however, Cooter Brown's failed to make the cut, so Louisiana is down to one of the top 100 beer bars in the country, as Avenue Pub is on the list yet again.  So congrats to Polly and everyone at the Avenue Pub for some much deserved recognition!  

Unfortunately it's also time to talk about a few bars that I feel were snubbed... two from Houston, the Petrol Station and the Ginger Man Pub.  Neither made the list, and in fact only one beer bar from all of Texas made the cut this year, the Draught House Pub & Brewery in Austin which I have not had the pleasure of visiting.  I guess it's hard for me to REALLY be critical when I've only been to two beer bars on the list, Avenue Pub and Humpy's Great Alaskan Alehouse.  Despite that, I really feel like the Petrol Station especially is deserving of a spot as they were named the most bitter bar by Stone Brewing!  That's a pretty special accomplishment and it shows up in their tap list.

I guess there just isn't enough room for all the great beer bars out there, but maybe in 2013 I won't have to mention who I feel got snubbed!

Avenue Pub on UrbanspoonPetrol Station on UrbanspoonHumpy's on Urbanspoon

Friday, January 13, 2012

Raise A Glass - Whiskey Tournament Sweet 16!

Just an update on the Raise A Glass season 2 Whiskey tournament!  We are down to our final 16 whiskeys so things are really starting to get good!  Be sure to tune in Fridays at 6 or Sundays at 4 on WHYR 96.9 FM in Baton Rouge, or listen and catch up on iTunes!  It's also never a bad idea to follow the show (or myself) on twitter!

Click on the bracket to see an enlarged version!

Review: Epic Barrel Aged IPA

First off, thanks to Jay over at for hooking me up with this one as a Christmas present!  I've seen it at Calandro's lately and also at The Cove so here's a review while it's still on the shelves and available!  Epic is a brewery out of New Zealand that is fairly new to our market, but they have put out some really good beers.  For those that watched Brew Masters, the New Zealand collaboration beer was between Dogfish Head and Epic, so you might remember the brewery from there!
Now for this beer... I poured from a .5L bottle into an imperial pint... it's remarkably clear, with a frothy white head that takes up 1/4 or so of the glass on the pour. Really nice retention and some of the best lacing I've seen in a while. Good looking beer.

The aroma is expectedly hoppy with a hint of the barrel aging. The wood flavors come through more each time I stick my nose in but they still are the secondary flavor in this aroma.

The barrel aging comes through a lot stronger on the taste, but I'm not sure it's entirely a good thing. It's not bad but I sense a little confusion and competing rather than augmenting the natural style. It gives the beer too much going on rather than the right amount of flavor complexity in my opinion.

It's got good carbonation with a strong grapefruit hop finish.  I'm enjoying this one for sure but it's not 'world class' just a good beer.  This one, along with Epic's other brews, are definitely worth checking out if you want to try something different.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Looks Like The LSU / Tin Roof Beer Is Off.

This isn't a huge surprise due to the backlash from some people within the LSU community and the difficult licensing process, but it's still disappointing that the LSU / Tin Roof beer project is officially over.  Here's the article on WAFB, or on the Business Report if that's more your style, but basically LSU has decided not to continue to pursue licensing and has removed the beer from its agenda.

So what does that really mean to Baton Rouge beer drinkers?  Not a whole lot... the beer is already out as Bandit Blonde on tap around town and will continue to be produced as the Bandit Blonde as far as I know.  And I can't see any reason not to as the name alone presents no licensing or copyright problems.  All this really means is that the cans, when released, won't be adorned with any LSU logos.  

What I really want to know is what this might do (if anything) to the potential education tie-ins between LSU and Tin Roof?  It seemed to me that it would be a great opportunity for students to get hands on with the brewing process as part of LSU's Department of Food Science.  It would be a shame to miss out on that aspect of the partnership just because the beer licensing didn't work out.

Oh well... I guess we won't be seeing any of this on the shelves:

Dogfish Head's January 2012 Release Schedule

Yeah, I know, we don't get Dogfish Head here, but I know a lot of you make trips to Houston on occasion, or perhaps the Florida panhandle where the DFH beers can be found.  If you can't make a beer run, maybe you have a friend or family member that can. 

So, if you get the chance, here are some of the Dogfish Head upcoming special releases, via their facebook page.
January beer release updates for ya!
Tweason’ale – will begin shipping to wholesalers the week of 1/16 and should be hitting retail between 1/23 and into early Feb (depending on when your local wholesaler takes delivery).
Namaste – will begin shipping to wholesalers the week of 1/30 and should be hitting retail between in early Feb.
Noble Rot – will begin shipping to wholesalers the week of 1/23 and should begin hitting retail the week of 1/30.
2011 World Wide Stout – will begin shipping to wholesale the week of 1/23 and will begin hitting retail the week of 1/30.
Of all these, the one I want to try the most is the World Wide Stout, so I'll be on the lookout for that one, and I wouldn't pass up the other three!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Beer Business Daily - What's In Store For 2012?

While browsing I came across this article about one beer journalist/analyst's predictions for 2012 as it pertains to the beer industry.  It's a little lengthy, but here are some of the highlights plus my thoughts on how it might affect beer drinking down here in South Louisiana.  Well, if the predictions are correct of course.
We will see an unprecedented number of new packages and brands coming from the big brewers this year, as they seek ways to bring drinkers back into the fold. This will cause some complexity issues with wholesalers and the requisite griping as their numbers of SKUs increase and blended margins erode.
Hmmm, first off SKUs refers to Stock-Keeping Units... and basically what he thinks is that the big guys (Bud, Miller, Coors primarily) are going to try ever different ways to package their beer and come out with new similar brands.  In case you hadn't noticed, take a look at the BMC part of the beer cooler next time you're at a grocery store.  There are about 73 different ways to buy Bud Light.  You can probably buy 4 different 6-packs at most stores!  12 ounce bottles, 12 ounce cans, 10 ounce cans, 16 ounce cans!  WHICH ONE DO I WANT?? Do they really think that offering all the different packaging will influence other people to buy Bud Light instead of the next one?  Maybe a small amount of the time, but mostly it's because each different package takes up more shelf space until eventually just the Bud Light packaging options takes up a whole section of the cooler if not spilling over into the next one... which is where the Budweiser starts, or maybe the Natural Light, or perhaps the Michelob Ultra?  What this means for us though?  Not much I think... BMC will continue to dominate the shelf space but places like Calandro's and other stores that we go to for craft beer are going to keep their shelves full as long the market remains.
Craft beers will continue to driving beer growth and take share within the category, to the tune of maintaining double digit growth. However, 2012 will be the year that we see in bas relief that demand isn't the problem -- it's supply. We really are going to see capacity constraints create shortages. Sierra Nevada and New Belgium will break grounds on new eastern breweries, but they won't come online for some time. The winners will be those who can supply the beer. I suspect more breweries will withdraw from markets.
Hmmm, now this one I unfortunately agree with, although it might not really be unfortunate. Growth in the craft beer sector is a VERY good thing and all signs point to more growth but I really do think brewing companies withdrawing from markets because they are at capacity and can't even satisfy core markets is a strong possibility.  In fact it's already been happening around the country from time to time.  Some breweries are expanding, others are gaining drinkers and being forced to pull back.  In Louisiana though, what does this mean to us?  I don't see brands like Stone or Sierra Nevada going anywhere but could ones like Ommegang and Brooklyn and Jolly Pumpkin cut us out if they can't meet demand elsewhere?  It's certainly possible if the beers are sitting on shelves longer here than their other markets.
2012 will be the year of cider. As the larger craft players and even big brewers get into the cider game, and they will, not to mention current cider makers expanding and international cider makers entering the market, cider will start getting lots of press, industry attention, and a wider consumer base. I expect we'll see some regulatory issues in some states on whether cider is a wine or a beer.
Cider huh?  That would be fine by me, I enjoy a good cider from time to time and there are several brands available in Baton Rouge like Strongbow and Crispin.
We will see increased deregulation efforts at both the state and federal level. The fight to deregulate will intensify this year, with both privatization efforts, deregulation by defunding, turf wars between the FDA, FTC, and TTB, more deregulation lawsuits against states by winery interests. In addition, I think we will see a rash of new First Amendment challenges by craft brewers challenging state laws.
This has already started in Texas with the Jester King lawsuit I talked about recently.  Their success is only going to help motivate brewing groups in other states to do the same and open up the industry even further.  One of the next big hurdles is at least partially circumventing the three-tier system and allowing breweries to sell (in some fashion) directly to the public.
Craft brewers will experience more sharp elbows among each other as regional brewers expand into others' back yards, shelf space tap handles relative to the number of SKUs becomes more of an issue, and talent gets poached.
This is a big one... I can think of at least 4 new breweries on the way or in the works in South Louisiana, plus breweries like Parish, Bayou Teche, Tin Roof, and NOLA are still expanding their breweries and lineups.  So far there is far from an over-saturation of local beers and it seems like all the up and coming craft guys are more focused on a synergistic relationship than a cutthroat scenario.  Could this change as the local guys get even bigger and start fighting over tap handles and shelf space?  Absolutely, and I wouldn't be surprised if it happens in 2012 where bars in town can't carry all the local brands and have to make those choices.  Tap handles are the biggest concern, and are always at a premium. 

So there you go... the article covers many other topics if you want to read it, and I think some are very astute predictions and could hold true around us.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Bayou Teche Courir de Mardi Gras

It looks like Bayou Teche Brewing is about to (or maybe just did!) release their latest brew, a French farmhouse styled beer called Courir de Mardi Gras.  The full press release can be checked out on The Beer In Me forum, but I'm excited to find and try this latest release.  I've never been a big fan of the LA 31 Biere Pale but all the other Bayou Teche beers have been awesome and they have a knack for hitting on the local culture and ingredients.

If anyone sees the 6-pack around Baton Rouge, be sure to let me know... I'll do the same.