Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Great Raft Brewing - Coming Soon In Louisiana!

It's always exciting to hear about up and coming breweries in the Louisiana area, so I was thrilled to hear about plans for the first North Louisiana brewery, Great Raft Brewing!  A few weeks ago Jay brought me a couple of samples that he had received from Andrew Nations, one of the co-founders of Great Raft along with his wife Lindsay.  Both samples I tried were unique and had a little lagniappe, so to speak, which I think is exactly what Andrew and Lindsay are going for. Read more about their story here.

Andrew told me he was looking to focus more on Belgian brews (one of the first two I tried was a saison) but that they weren't going to be an exclusively Belgian brewery.  The one I tried was a saison with a little lemon zest and pine needles.  I really enjoyed the way the pine needles and citrus gave the beer a lot of hoppy feel without the actual hops, and the Belgian yeast gave it the right amount of funk as well.  According to Andrew this wasn't going to be one of the flagship brews, but he did expect it to be a seasonal at some point.

What most of you probably want to know, though, is an expected date.  Andrew told me that they were targeting late Summer 2013 for their launch, and it would start out just in the Shreveport area.  Their plan was to be in South LA by year two, but as we've seen with Parish Brewing, if the demand is there up north then it'll take it longer to reach us down here.  I'm hoping for another Louisiana brewery success story, so if he's selling all he can up in Shreveport, I won't be holding any grudges that we can't get it here.  As they say, a rising tide lifts all boats. 

All in all, more exciting brewery news for Louisiana.  If Great Raft can make a 2013 debut then that will likely be at least 3 new breweries this year, and maybe more if some of the NOLA area breweries in planning can get online.  Good times to be drinking local, and only getting better.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Feature Beer Friday! - Oscar Blues G'Knight

Alright, this next featured brew isn't available in Louisiana yet, but it's not a hard one to find for anyone doing some out of state traveling.  G'Knight is an Imperial Red Ale from Oskar Blues Brewing with locations in a few places in Colorado, but I think the brewery itself is in Lyons.  They also have a brewpub that I think is in Longmont, CO. 

The G'Knight is labeled as an Imperial red, which really just means a stronger, bolder version of a Red Ale.  In this case stronger means 8.7% alcohol and bolder means dry hopped and 60 IBU.  This one really borders on being a double IPA or some sort of imperial pale ale... so who says style guidelines aren't meant to be broken?  

Another note is that G'Knight, like all other Oskar Blues beers, comes in a can.  If you make your way over to Texas and hit up a store like Spec's you'll see several of their beers on the shelves, like the Dale's Pale Ale, Ten Fidy Stout, Mama's Yellow Pils, and most likely, this G'Knight. 

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

Serving: 12 oz. can.

Appearance: Clear amber color, decent off-white head. All above average scores here.

Aroma: I wrote down, "caramel, toffee, bready."  Jay thought it smelled like banana nut bread, so we were definitely getting some of that bready flavor out of this one. 

Taste: Hoppy!  I think the hoppiness of the taste overpowers the nice malts we picked up on the nose.  Jeremy described it as, "kiwi fruit with a hoppy ass finish."

Mouthfeel: Bitter, but that's to be expected.

Overall: This beer doesn't play by the rules, but that's just fine.  It has a unique blend of malts and hops that I thought worked well together at times and conflicted at times as well.  Absolutely worth a try, and worth having in the fridge as well.

Overall Rating: 71.25
My Rating: 78

Friday, January 18, 2013

Feature Beer Friday! - Fischer Amber

Coming to you all the way from France is this week's Feature Beer Friday!  Fischer Amber holds a bit of a nostalgic place in my beer heart, as it was one of my favorites in the early days of my "Around The World" journeys at the Chimes. It fell off the beer list there unfortunately and basically disappeared from the Baton Rouge market as far as I could tell for many years.  Not too long ago though, I found some on the shelf and had to grab a 6-pack for old time's sake.  And of course I was going to share one with my Raise A Glass co-hosts and with all the readers out there.

Technically this one is the Fischer Tradition Amber, from Brasserie Fischer in Schiltigheim, France.  BeerAdvocate considers it a Euro dark lager, so it's somewhere in the same range as an amber lager, or Vienna lager.  This makes it comparable to popular beers like Dos Equis Amber and Abita Amber, among others.

Reviewers: Eric Ducote (BR Beer Scene), Jay Ducote (Bite And Booze), and Jeremy Spikes  (Whiskeybomb.com). 

Serving: 12 oz. brown glass bottle. 

Appearance: I thought it was a little too light for an amber, but Jay and Jeremy both scored it higher than I did in this category. 

Aroma: We all thought it was a little faint, but there was nothing bad about it.  I just really wanted more and was a little let down.  

Taste: Surprisingly I found that there were some floral notes going on with the malt flavors... not bad at all.  

Mouthfeel: Again a surprise as this was a lot creamier than I expected from a lager. Very easy drinking beer. 

Overall: It's hard to say this lived up to what I remembered, but it didn't let me down either.  A nice easy drinking session lager if that's what you're looking for.

Overall Rating: 65.67
My Rating: 64

Friday, January 11, 2013

Feature Beer Friday! - Shiner Bock

Back to a classic, Shiner Bock used to be available at the Chimes for $8 per pitcher.  Faced with a fresh out of college salary and a few pitchers in my near future it always seemed like a great value and a decent step up from the BMC beers of the world.  (At the time, the BMC pitchers were generally also $8... go figure...)  Unfortunately Shiner pitchers don't go for $8 anymore, but they are still one of the cheaper "craft" beers out there, even if their inclusion in the world of craft beer is debatable. 

The Shiner Bock is the Spoetzl Brewery's flagship brand.  Yes, I'm sure most of you are aware that the brewery name is actually the Spoetzl Brewery, and Shiner is just their brand.  They're also located in Shiner, TX, hence the brand name.  Shiner Bock can be found throughout the country, but it does seem to have faded out a bit lately in Baton Rouge.  I know it's still out there, but it seems like at one point you could always count on a Shiner tap handle.  Maybe this is because of the emergence of local breweries like NOLA, Tin Roof, and Parish?  At any rate, it's still most certainly available on tap at many places, and in bottles at many more.

Reviewers: Eric Ducote (BR Beer Scene), Jay Ducote (Bite And Booze), and Jeremy Spikes  (Whiskeybomb.com). 

Serving: 12 oz. glass bottle. 

Appearance: Nice brown color, good head... nothing bad but nothing spectacular either. 

Aroma: Malty backbone, nice roasted notes.
Taste: Pleasant, malty, but nothing overwhelming.
Mouthfeel: Very thin, which makes the beer extremely drinkable, but lacks the pizazz you might want in a craft beer.
Overall: It's an easy to find and easy to drink gateway beer.  Jay described them as the "Abita of TX" and I can't disagree.  Jeremy really enjoyed the look and aroma, but thought the taste and mouthfeel was lacking.  I still think Shiner makes a good valued beer here, but it's nothing that really impresses.

Overall Rating: 60.67
My Rating: 60

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Best Craft Beer of 2012 Poll

The good people over at TheFullPint.com have put together themselves a "best craft beer of 2012" poll, and needless to say there are some good beers represented.  The rule was a beer had to be introduced in 2012 to be eligible... which is fine and good as there were plenty of top notch releases to choose from.  Of the 50 they put on the ballot I have tried 11 of them, and picking the best was pretty tough.  I narrowed it down to either the Russian River Row 2 Hill 56, or the Stone Ruination 10th Anniversary.  I was about to vote for the Stone when I realized that this poll allows for write-in votes!  My favorite new release of 2012 wasn't listed, the Parish Grand Reserve Barleywine!  So, I encourage all of you out there to go check out the poll and put in a write-in for the Parish Grand Reserve Barleywine.  Or vote for the one you like the best in the poll... or write something else in if you so choose, it's a free country after all.  

Either way, let them know what you think.  As of now the Saint Arnold Endeavour is in the lead, and while I love the Endeavour, it's no Parish Grand Reserve.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

NOLA Irish Channel Stout Is Going Year-Round!

Good news from the NOLA Brewing facebook feed, Irish Channel Stout is going to be a year-round beer, with cans also expected sometime in 2013! I've always thought that Irish Channel Stout was one of the best Louisiana craft beers, so this is very exciting news.  It's been slow to make it into Baton Rouge this year, but I know it'll be popping up in some places around town soon.  Hopefully it will be here for good when it makes it!  I've also heard they are going to keep on putting out Mechahopzilla, plus NOLA is looking at a few more special beers this year.  I had a pint of Mechahopzilla last night at Bulldog, so I know it's still around.  

Irish Channel Stout year round, Irish Channel Stout in cans, more Mechahopzilla, and more to come.  Things are definitely looking up for NOLA, and this is very good for Louisiana beer drinkers.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Feature Beer Friday! - Great Divide Yeti

Welcome to 2013 folks!  I'm sure there will be a few new breweries entering our state this year, such as New Belgium, and if I had my pick Great Divide Brewing would be pretty high on the list.  Unfortunately for now we don't see Great Divide on the shelves, but I know plenty of readers travel to Texas, Alabama, Georgia, or Florida pretty regularly and Great Divide can be found pretty easily in any of those states. 

Yeti Imperial Stout is one of Great Divide's flagship brands and comes in several varieties (oak-aged, Belgian, etc...) in addition to the original stout.  The original recipe comes in bombers and in 4-packs, while the other varieties only come in bombers.  For this Feature Beer Friday we had a bottle of their basic Yeti, and I was excited to get started. 

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

Serving: 12 oz. glass bottle.

Appearance: Awesome dark beer with an off-white head
Aroma: Rich chocolate, Jay just wrote down "brilliant" in his description and gave the Yeti a whopping 24/25 on the aroma. 

Taste: Rich again, but a little roasted/burnt along with the sweetness. 

Mouthfeel: Easy to drink for such a strong beer, very nice.  

Overall: No one hated this one, but Jay and I scored it a grade better than James and Jeremy.  In fact, my 89 is the second-highest mark yet.  This is a winner of a stout, so if you're traveling and you see some, don't hesitate.  I recently also broke out a nearly two-year aged bottle and it was even better than when fresh.  If you have the cellar space, some Yeti is a nice addition.
Overall Rating: 79.5
My Rating: 89

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Big thanks to Jeremy (AKA The Beer Buddha) for bringing this to my attention!  It appears that Aaron over at Brewstock is organizing a large homebrew competition for Louisiana and neighboring states.  Awesome!  I'll be certain to enter a few of my beers and I'm sure most of the Brasseurs A La Maison club will as well.  

Here are the details:


We'll be organizing beer and brewing events including tastings, dinners, competitions and more!
Start planning or brewing your beers now. The competition and events will take place in New Orleans, though you will not need to be present to compete.
Some things we have in mind
-Commercial beer tastings
-Beer dinners and pairings
-Club competition with club booths (public event)
-Beer tour via street car or walking/boking
-Brewing and recipe design classes
-Brewery/Distillery bus tours
-Awards ceremony and dinner
-Big group brew
Please keep checking back for more details on events in the months to come! We will be posting more information soon!
All 23 BJCP beer categories will be allowed for entry, with ribbons going to the top three beers in each category.
Prizes from sponsors will also be awarded.
The competition will be open to residents of Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Arkansas only.
Judging will take place over the course of a weekend in November, to be determined.
Rules and regulations to be posted by the end of January 2013.
If you would like to be involved we are looking for BJCP certified judges and volunteers.
We are looking for sponsorship of events and awards. Please email Aaron at aaron@brewstock.com for more information!
Happy homebrewing and good luck!