Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Beer Travels: O'Bannon's Taphouse - College Station, TX

Written by special guest writer Dustin Davis, thanks Dustin for your contribution!

A couple of weeks ago I hit the road to follow the LSU Tigers to College Station for their matchup with the Texas A&M Aggies.  Having never been to College Station, I decided to do a little research on the best place for craft beer in the area.  The results were clear.  O’Bannon’s Taphouse (facebook) was the place to go.

I arrived at O’Bannon’s on Friday afternoon and met with owner, Chris Steele, who was nice enough to stick around and let me bug him with some questions.  O’Bannon’s has a great Irish pub look and atmosphere, but it was apparent that the beer selection was far greater than that of your average Irish pub.  With 50 beers on tap and around 80 beers total, there were the Irish pub musts, Guinness, Harp, and Smithwick’s, but what set O’Bannon’s apart was their American craft beer selection, specifically Texas craft beer.

 Chris had a sampler of Texas beers brought over with beers from Rahr & Sons Brewing Co., Live Oak Brewing Co., Karbach Brewing Co., and Saint Arnold Brewing Co.  Some of the highlights of the sampler were the Karbach Rodeo Clown Imperial IPA, Saint Arnold Oktoberfest and Live Oak HefeWeizen.  The Live Oak HefeWeizen is an exceptionally good beer and is currently the 2nd highest reviewed hefeweizen on BeerAdvocate.

A sign of a bar owner who really cares about a beer is a number of seasonal offerings.  This shows me that I’m drinking fresh beer and attention is paid to beer selection and tap rotation.  This was all evident at O’Bannon’s, with many fall selections, from Oktoberfest beers to pumpkin beers.   I was also impressed when Chris told me they regularly host cask nights, though I was saddened to discover that I would be missing a Saint Arnold Pumpkinator cask night by just a few days.

 After some friendly conversation with some Aggies and a couple more pints of beer it was time to say “Slán go foil” (goodbye for now) to O’Bannon’s Taphouse, with plans in the works for a return in the spring for the LSU vs. Texas A&M baseball series and many football games in the future.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Feature Beer Friday! - Clown Shoes Clementine 1.5

Welcome back to another Feature Beer Friday, and today we feature our first repeat (kind of) brewery!  This offering is from Clown Shoes (facebook - twitter) out of Massachusetts and they were part of the Pimp, a collaboration effort with Brash Brewing.  

Clown Shoes is relatively new to the Baton Rouge market, but they have been making a big splash on the shelves and there will be an upcoming beer dinner at Juban's featuring the lineup.  And speaking of beer dinners, tomorrow night there will be one at Fleming's that I helped pick beers out for... and this Clementine 1.5 is featured, so check it out!  And if you think I'm shamelessly using this beer to plug a beer dinner, you're sort of right.  I chose this day to feature it for that reason, but it was brought to the Raise A Glass radio program by friend and frequent guest Dustin Davis, so blame him!  

On to the review?  I think it's that time.

Reviewers: Eric Ducote (BR Beer Scene), James Lawson (, Jeremy Spikes (, and Dustin Davis.
Serving: 22 ounce bottle.

Appearance: "hazy unfiltered orange w/ nice white head" was Dustin's comment, and the appearance scored three 13s and one strong 14.  Off to a great start, but we've seen more than one beer start strong and fizzle...

Aroma: "Orange, wheat, a little spicy," was my comment, and Dustin noted that he picked up the characteristic Belgian yeast

Taste:  Good citrus & spicy notes, a little bitter with the orange rind but then it finished a little back toward sweet.  All of us rated it above a 30 here so this beer is headed for a solid score!

Mouthfeel: Jeremy described it as a "good oily mouthfeel" and this one was certainly easy to drink despite being an imperial witbier. I really enjoyed the sweet finish of each sip.

Overall: Excellent beer, one of the strongest offerings yet on Feature Beer Friday.  James summed up his review by saying, "better than clown shoes under the bed... scary good."  I think we all agree that this is a keeper.

Overall Rating:84
My Rating: 82

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

504 Brewing Cooperative!

It appears that Aaron Hyde, the owned of Brewstock (facebook page) in New Orleans is looking to get a Brewing Cooperative together in the 504!  This would be an ambitious project where the community comes together to create a variety of commercial beers.  His plan is to start on a 3-barrel, or 100 gallon system and incorporate homebrewers and college students looking into the beer business.  It might be a pipe dream, but it's still fantastic to see an idea like this out on the table here in South Louisiana.  For anyone looking to be a part of this project or to donate, here's the indiegogo fundraising link

Good luck Aaron!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fleming's Beer Dinner - This Saturday, Oct. 27th!

Hey everyone, just wanted to announce a beer dinner this Saturday at Fleming's.  I helped Chef Gongora pick out some fantastic beers from the International Wine & Spirits and he did the rest with the appetizing food pairings. 

The beers feature a lineup of really nice brews starting with the Southampton Double White, which is considered the 6th best Witbier in the world according to BeerAdvocate!  From there the Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge, a deliciously tart sour beer out of Belgium and then the Clown Shoes Clementine 1.5, which you can expect to see on an upcoming Feature Beer Friday post... spoilers, it scored in the 80s from all four reviewers!   The main course features a signature Barleywine from Maine's Shipyard Brewing, and then an Imperial Porter from Beer Olympics standout Brouwerij De Molen.  Finishing it all off is the world class Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast.  If you're interested, definitely check it out, I know the food will be just as good (if not better) than the beer!  Check out the details below, and contact Fleming's for reservations.

Saturday October 27, 2012

6:30pm Start Time

$70 per guest (not including tax & gratuity)

Roast Duck Sliders
 Pickled Vegetables, Fresh Herbs, Crispy Skin
Southampton Double White

Mixed Greens Salad
Pork belly, Fresh Fruit, Blackberry Vinaigrette
Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge

Seafood Course
Grilled Shrimp Tacos
Roasted pineapple salsa, Black beans and rice
Clown Shoes Clementine 1.5

Meat Course
Pepper Crusted N.Y. Strip
“Loaded” potato skins, Coffee and peppercorn sauce
Shipyard Pugsley’s Signature Series Barley Wine
Brouwerij de Molen Tsarina Esra Imperial Porter

Dark Chocolate Turtle Cake
Espresso Chocolate Ice cream
Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast

Friday, October 19, 2012

Feature Beer Friday! - Abita Amber

Time for another Louisiana brew after featuring the Parish Canebrake about a month ago, the flagship brew from Abita (facebook - twitter), their Amber.  For starters, the Abita Amber is a lager as opposed to an Amber Ale, and it's generally characterized as  Vienna-style lager, which is a German/Austrian style that would be considered very similar to an American Amber Lager except a tendency toward the noble hops of Europe.  This is without much doubt the best selling Louisiana beer and many many people's "gateway beer" as they move from the macrobrews into the infinite world of craft beer.  

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

Appearance: "Amber color, small head with no retention," is what I wrote down and there wasn't much else to say here.

  Straightforward with a single malt note, this one scored in the middle of the field for the aroma, not bad but nothing special either. 

Taste:  "Caramel, malts of biscuit," was Jay's comment on the taste, and it was also described as "clean and crisp but boring."

Mouthfeel: It's crisp, it's clean, but no real substance here... all mid-range scores.  

Overall: It's a gateway beer, and I think it does a good job of being a gateway beer and bringing more people into the world of craft beer.  It's inoffensive, no bold flavors or crazy experimentation, but it's a lot better than the BMC products of the world.  If the options are Abita Amber, Bud Light, Bud, and Michelob Ultra, give me an Abita Amber.

Overall Rating:56.67
My Rating:51

Monday, October 15, 2012

Saint Arnold Pumpkinator is in BR!

Hey groovy beer people, Saint Arnold's second annual Pumpkinator release is upon us.  The word around the campfire was that it was releasing in Houston today, but Baton Rouge wouldn't see any until tomorrow, but that's not the case!  Several stores have the Pumpkinator in stock now (Whole Foods, Calandro's, Matherne's), but it's going fast.  Last year's version was outstanding, one of the best pumpkin beers available, and I have high hopes for the 2012 version as well.  And as an added bonus they brewed twice as much as 2011, so the odds are even better that you'll get your hands on some! 

Also, it'll be on tap at a few places around South Louisiana, most notable for the BR Beer Scene, is at The Cove starting at 8 PM tomorrow, October 16th.  I imagine we'll see it on tap a few more places before the year is up, but there's your draft release date! 


Friday, October 12, 2012

Feature Beer Friday! - Samuel Smith Yorkshire Stingo

Welcome back to Feature Beer Friday!  Up today is a beer from England, the Samuel Smith Yorkshire Stingo!  This one is a barrel aged ale English Strong Ale checking in at 9% abv.  Samuel Smith has been around for decades but this was all of our first tries at the Yorkshire Stingo from them.  They have impressed us all before with their Oatmeal Stout, Nut Brown Ale, and others before, but how about the Stingo?

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

Serving: 550 ml bottle.

Appearance: "A nice cloudy look to it, beige head on the pour and a caramel color." Jay commented, and everyone agreed that it was impressive.

Aroma: "I like it a lot," was all the elaboration James could muster, but coming from him that's a ringing endorsement.  

Taste:  High scores all around for this one.  A delicious malty wood-aged beer. Fucking fantastic, this one had Jeremy cursing and needing the "ahoy" all over the broadcast.  Fortunately, I can curse on here!

Mouthfeel: "Easy to drink, creamy and smooth despite the 9% abv," and yet again the Yorkshire Stingo scores well.

Overall: There weren't any expectation going in to this one because we had never tried it, but it impressed all four of us.  An all around pleasant surprise for all of us involved, and probably the best Feature Beer Friday brew to date.

Overall Rating:83,5
My Rating:87

Friday, October 5, 2012

Feature Beer Friday! - Chimay Grande Reserve (Blue Label)

For the fifth installment of Feature Beer Friday it's time to head back across the pond to Europe, and try our first Belgian Trappist ale of the series, the Chimay Grande Reserve, popularly known as Chimay Blue.  Chimay is one of the seven (wait, make that eight!) licensed Trappist breweries, and is also the most readily available of them all.  Chimay beers can be found in just about any Baton Rouge area liquor store or grocery store with a good beer selection.  For that reason, it's the perfect beer to spotlight on this week's Feature Beer Friday!

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

Serving: 750 ml bottle.

Appearance: "Caramel color, nice head retention." Jay commented, and all scores were 12/15 or better for this brew, putting it solidly in the upper range on appearance.

Aroma: The aroma on this one could have been better, but it did open up as the beer warmed.  We didn't drink it ice cold by any means, but a beer like this needs to be around 50 degrees to be properly enjoyed.

Taste:  We all enjoyed the taste of this one, with one comment being, "way better than the aroma, dark fruits and sweet malts."  All scores here were 30+ out of 40, a sure sign of a good beer.

Mouthfeel: "Creamy, smooth, easy to drink despite the 9%" and another round of upper 25% scores for this one.

Overall: Everyone predictably enjoyed the Chimay Blue but I do think it fell a little short of the world class rankings it has one some sites.  This one warms up well and with it's global reach it's a no-brainer whenever you're staring at an aisle of beer and don't know what to reach for.

Overall Rating:80
My Rating:81