Friday, March 29, 2013

Feature Beer Friday! - Karbach Weisse Versa Wheat

So it's only been a few weeks since our last feature from Karbach Brewing, but we are getting into Spring time and that means it's about to be time for some more season appropriate beers!  Karbach is of course out of Houston, and the Weisse Versa Wheat is one of their year-round flagship releases.

The Weisse Versa Wheat is a hybrid wheat beer, their motto for the brew being "Both. At The Same Time." because it's a combination of a German hefewiezen and a Belgian white ale.  Both styles are wheat-based of course, but the German beer style gets its distinct flavors from the yeast strain primarily and the Belgian style uses a lot of spices such as coriander and orange peel.    The WeisseVersa Wheat combines the two and uses the Belgian spices with the German yeast strain.  The goal being to pack as much flavor and intrigue as possible into a pretty standard beer style.  Let's see how they did...

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

Serving: 12 oz. blue & yellow can.

Appearance: Hazy orange, with a smallish head... I love the color though.

Aroma: Jay was picking up all sorts of fruits, he wrote down, "grapefruit, banana, tangerine, satsuma."  The banana I got for sure, but the spices are there as well.  

Taste: Same basic flavor profile as the aroma... lots of fruit flavors with a little spice.  Banana is the dominant fruit flavor, which is both expected and delicious.

Mouthfeel: Easy drinking, Jay said it seems like there should be pulp due to the all the fruit flavors

Overall: This was a winner amongst the four of us, with James being the low score but still a respectable 64, and Jay coming in high with an 84. In my opinion this is an excellent example of an easy drinking warm weather wheat beer.  Very well done.

Overall Rating: 75
My Rating: 76

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Sneak Peek At Pelican House!

Hey everyone, I'm sure that anyone following my blog or my facebook page knows about the Pelican House Tap Room & Whiskey Bar, a bar / restaurant in the works with a focus on draft beer.  You've probably seen them off of Corporate Drive when you're cruising down I-10... it's pretty hard to miss really.  Well a few days ago Brenton Day of The Ale Runner and I went over there to check it out and meet with co-owners Chris Juge and Garrett Morgan, and here's what you're in store for!

First off, the building itself was already in place... it was a former Macaroni Grill, and tearing it down or redoing the entire facade would be a waste of time and money, so the guys over at Pelican House opted for just a simple makeover... white paint with blue trim.  They also commissioned a hand-carved wood sign to go over the door, but it's not ready just yet.  Their sign on the back of the building is up though, giving a good hello to everyone driving down the interstate and announcing to them all the Pelican House is coming soon.  There are also plans for a large patio on the left (East) side of the building, but it's still under construction and probably won't be ready for a few weeks after the main space.  

Upon entering the building the first thing to strike me was how open it was.  And I want to say bright, but it's not really overly bright, it's just not a dark dull space like a lot of bars tend to be.  The rafters are all open above and painted a blue to match the exterior, with all the ductwork and such also painted to fade into the background.  It's actually called a "dirt dobber blue" because it was theoretically supposed to dissuade the insects from building nests nearby.  As you can see, there was definitely some thought and attention to detail put into the design of the new space.

After walking in it's hard to say what will catch the eye first when it's all completed... either the panoramic windows and wrought-iron work along the back of the room, or the massive wall of taps to your right.  I'm going to go with the taps, but the rear space is pretty nice itself.  It's a raised platform designed to be used as either casual seating with couches and coffee tables, or to be cleared off and used as a stage for live music.  The iron work completes the required railing height, while allowing the light from the windows to penetrate into the main bar and also adds a nice little Louisiana detail.  The space even has a conference table that can be rented out for large groups in the evening or maybe a business lunch & pint?
Immediately to the left when you walk in is a satellite bar, featuring 6 taps that can be changed out for renting out that corner, for private parties, or just to keep some of the best sellers flowing when the place is busy.  6 taps is cool, but what's REALLY cool, is 136 taps.  And that's what the main bar features, 136 taps of beer goodness, and not a single one devoted to Bud, Miller, or Coors.  Yeah, there are a few BMC products on tap like Blue Moon, but avoiding the main brands altogether is impressive and something I'm extremely happy to see.  If you want a Bud Light, they'll have a bottle for you, but it's not going to take up tap space.  Not at Pelican House.
And as impressive as the tap wall is, the walk-in cooler used to house and dispense all these beers blows it away.  At least for a beer nerd and homebrewer like myself... I run a 4-tap system at home, these guys have 136 different beers going to 142 taps!  (That's counting the 6 in the satellite bar, but they are fed off the same system.)  Draft beer guru at the Pelican House Phil Beard is going to have plenty of fun with this system.  The inside of the cooler is just crazy... rack shelving all around, with each keg being fed from its own regulator so that the pressures can be dialed in exact for each beer style.  Belgian ales are usually better with a little more carbonation, while bigger stouts don't need as much... with this system each one can be placed at the ideal pressure for the style.  They also feature a FOB unit for each keg which senses when the foam from an empty keg comes though and keeps the beer in the line, which minimizes the waste from each keg and lets the bar send those savings on to the customer.  All in all, a state of the art system, and one of the 20 largest tap systems in the country. 

So much cool stuff going on... the plan is to feature local artwork throughout, and have a "blow the keg" night on Tuesdays, where kegs that are almost out will be discounted to clear the beer lines for cleaning.  One of the most overlooked aspects of a draft beer bar is beer line maintenance... I clean mine at home fairly regularly and leave them filled with sanitizer when they aren't in use.  Obviously there won't be lines not in use very often at a place like Pelican House, so they want to take advantage when kegs empty in order to clean the lines, at least every two weeks.  Just as important as beer being fresh, is beer being clean, so I love that they want to take extra care here.

Now I guess I've been teasing enough... and everyone wants to know one thing, when will Pelican House open?  The answer is really that there is no answer yet.  The place is still under construction, although it's getting closer and closer to completion.  They are still waiting on a lot of their kitchen equipment, and the majority of the behind-the-bar equipment other than the main walk-in beer cooler.  There is still bartops to finish, tables to set up, wood to finish, TVs to install, and so on... but it's getting there.  Their hope when I asked was that it would be a mid to late April opening date.  If everything goes right with their equipment orders, I could see this happening for sure.  And of course, as soon as I know, I'll let everyone else know!   

I could go on about all the exciting things at Pelican House... but let me leave you with one final cool piece of info regarding Pelican House... they want to devote a tap entirely to homebrews.  Obviously thos will be a little different in that they aren't legally allowed to charge for homebrews, but I would definitely donate a keg a time or two to see it on tap at a legit bar, and talk to the customers about a beer that I created.  Pretty fucking cool, if you ask me.  Now for some bonus pictures!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Review: Tin Roof Juke Joint IPA

This past Wednesday at The Bulldog Tin Roof Brewing Company rolled out their latest brew, the Juke Joint IPA.  First off, I'm thrilled that Tin Roof is going the IPA route now, as it's one style severely lacking from Louisiana craft breweries.  We have the abysmal Jockamo IPA from Abita as well as their new Spring IPA, then the very solid NOLA Hopitoulas to choose from... and that's it as far as regulars go.  Parish will be releasing their Farmhouse IPA before too long, and a Double IPA to follow... NOLA has their Mechahopzilla DIPA, and one of Chafunkta's two first beers will be their Voo Ka Ray Imperial IPA... but we really only have the three basic American-style IPAs to choose from locally.  

Fortunately, that number is now at four, with Tin Roof's Juke Joint, a 7.2% (so still below the Imperial/Double IPA threshold) dry-hopped IPA that should be on tap around town by the time this blog post hits!  So, if you missed it Wednesday, don't worry, there will be plenty more... although you might have missed one of the best weather days this Spring.  I got there a little early and started out with a Bo & Luke from Against The Grain Brewery out of Louisville, Kentucky.  Bo & Luke is a collaboration between Against The Grain and Brouwerij De Molen, a 13% Pappy Van Winkle barrel aged imperial stout that was fantastic.  This post is about the Juke Joint IPA, but if you go to the Bulldog and check that out, this one is worth a pour too!

On to the feature beer... it's hoppy, duh, with a very nice citrus dominated aroma with just a hint of pine.  They used primarily Warrior hops for the bittering (the hops in for the full boil) and then some Cascade, Centennial, Columbus, and Simcoe added in as well.  Simcoe is one of the "golden boy" hops for brewers these days thanks to it's pine-dominated flavor profile and I can tell it's in here but probably not in as much amount as the Cascade and Centennial which give the citrus flavor.  Columbus is known for an herbal character and between the citrus, herbs, and pine there is a very nice hop profile that balances well with the malts used.  

According to Brenton over at The Ale Runner they used 5 different types of malts in this one and it shows on the taste.  They used 2-row pale malt, pilsen, munich, caramel 60, and carapils to create a biscuity sweetness to support the hop flavors.  And indeed there is some of that biscuit feel on the first sip and a malt sweetness at the finish which really works well with the hops and balances out the citrus and pine.  An IPA should always be out of balance toward the hop side, but TOO far and it just turns into a bitter mess... this one definitely is not too far. 

The real question is... would I drink this one again?  And the answer is absolutely yes.  If I'm out around town looking to get a pint and I see the Juke Joint IPA on tap, I would happily order another.  And judging from the reaction of friends at The Bulldog Wednesday night, they all would as well.  Well done, Tin Roof, well done indeed.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Feature Beer Friday! - Schlafly A IPA

Alright, this one isn't available in Baton Rouge... or even all that close to here, but if you're ever traveling up to St. Louis you'll find Schlafly to be plentiful, and since we had a few we decided to give it a try and feature it as one of our feature beers.  Schlafly is the largest craft brewery in AB dominated St. Louis, and all that I've had from them before has been very good, so I had hopes for this one too. 

This beer is their "A IPA" which stands for American IPA and it's their Spring special release.  It comes in at 7.2% abv and 65 IBU, so it's approaching the line between an IPA and an Imperial IPA, which is generally considered to be 7.5%.  In keeping with the "American" name the beer uses three American hops, Amarillo, Simcoe, and Centennial in both the boil and in dry-hopping.  Simcoe is one of my favorite hops to brew with, so that already has me excited! 

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

Serving: 12 oz. brown bottle.

Appearance: Deep gold, white head, a bit hazy.

Aroma: Nice hop aroma, citrus and a little pine.  Charles thought it has a very pleasing citrus aroma, and Jay picked up some grapefruit.

Taste: Jay described it as "fruity and balanced" and I think it really had a great hop profile without getting overpowering.

Mouthfeel: Slightly bitter aftertaste... but it is an IPA after all. 

Overall: We all enjoyed this example of the American IPA style, with Jay even proclaiming that he could drink a keg. Keep him away from backwards bead-toss bets!  In my opinion this is one of the better examples of an American IPA out there, and if I'm ever in St. Louis and I see it on tap, I know what my first order will be.

Overall Rating: 75
My Rating: 76

Monday, March 18, 2013

Review: Saint Arnold Divine Reserve #13

Alright, time for a quick review that's not part of the "Feature Beer Friday!" series, the Saint Arnold Divine Reserve #13, which officially releases TODAY, March 18th.  Due to distributor and/or retailer miscommunication some of this was released in Baton Rouge a week or so ago, and I was able to get my hands on a 6-pack.

Lately Saint Arnold has done a great job turning their Divine Reserve series into full release or seasonal beers, as the Pumpkinator and Endeavour both started off as a Divine Reserve recipe.  Last year's release, the #12, was an old ale, and I enjoyed it but really need to revisit a few that I have aging to see how it aged and developed.  It was definitely one that was meant to be cellared for a while.  

This year's release is a Belgian Quad, coming in strong at 11% abv with ample amounts of Belgian candi sugar to boost the alcohol and give it a rich dark color.  The dark fruit flavors that are characteristic of the style come through extremely well, and the strong alcohol content is barely present.  There are also no metallic off flavors that I find in a lot of poorly done Belgian ales, which allows the malt backbone and yeasty esters to come through and flourish.  Another fine well-crafted offering from Saint Arnold, and one that should age extremely well.

So... this officially hits shelves today, go get some if you can, and don't be afraid to try one now and save the rest for a later date. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Feature Beer Friday! - Karbach Rodeo Clown DIPA

Time for only our second Feature Beer Friday! trip to Texas, where we have previously seen Shiner Bock put up a respectable 60.67 overall score.  Unlike Shiner, this feature beer from Karbach Brewing is not commercially available in Louisiana.  Karbach is a relatively new brewery in the Houston area located near 290 and 610 fairly close to the old Saint Arnold brewery.  Despite their relative youth, they have blown up in the region and have quickly moved to canning their normal releases and packaging their seasonal and special releases in 22 oz. bombers.

The featured beer is one of their year-round favorites, the Rodeo Clown Double IPA.  It's available throughout the Houston area in 4-packs of cans, so next time you're in Spec's or even the grocery stores over there, you'll be able to find some.  As stated it's a Double IPA in style, coming in at 9.5% alcohol and 85 IBU.  

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

Serving: 12 oz. red & blue can.   

Appearance: Caramel, a little on the dark side for the style. 

Aroma: Rich, hoppy but not overbearing, Jay picked out some molasses as well.  

Taste: I thought the taste was a little muted on the hops compared to the aroma, but still very nice.  Jay agreed as far as the hops go, but we both gave high scores for a well balanced taste. 

Mouthfeel: Creamy, no bad aftertaste.

Overall: Karbach impressed us all with this DIPA, giving us a very well balanced and tasty brew.  James, who isn't an IPA fan, thought it was a "tastier beer than it is hoppy" and I wrote that it was an excellent local-ish Double IPA. 
Overall Rating: 76.75
My Rating:80

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Strangest Beers In America

I just stumbled upon this Bon Appetit article and thought I'd share with everyone... The Strangest Beers In America.  To save some time, here's the list, but the article really goes into why each one of them is strange and weird, and has tasting notes, so it's worth a quick read.

Uncommon Brewers Bacon Brown Ale
Freetail Brewing Spirulina Wit
Short's Brewing Key Lime Pie
Wynkoop Brewing Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout
Flying Dog Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout
Dogfish Head Noble Rot
Yard's Brewing Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce
Twisted Pine Ghost Face Killah
Willoughby Brewing Peanut Butter Cup Coffee Porter

Of all these, I've actually tried two of them, the Dogfish Head Noble Rot (Yes!) and the Twisted Pine Ghost Face Killah (No!)  The Flying Dog beer seems innocent enough, a simple Oyster Stout which I've tried before... and despite the sexual Pearl Necklace name I'm led to believe it's really JUST oysters added to the stout.  I've heard of the Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout also, and I've never had the chance to try it, but I certainly would.  As for the Bacon Brown Ale... I'm not sure.  I'm still put off by the debacle that was Rogue's Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Beer.  

Which of these have you tried?  Which of these would you try? 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Feature Beer Friday! - Ommegang Scythe & Sickle

Alright, back to New York for a second straight week, but this time to Cooperstown as opposed to Brooklyn to check out our first Feature Beer from Brewery Ommegang! Brewery Ommegang is a traditional Belgian-styled brewery which is why they stick to the Belgian convention of putting the word "Brewery" before their actual name.  They are located in upstate New York just a few minutes from the baseball hall of fame, and yes, they are available in Louisiana!

The Scythe and Sickle, as the name suggests, is a tribute to the harvest season and uses fresh barley, oats, wheat, and rye in the grain bill.  It's not intended to be an overly hoppy beer, but more of a take on a Belgian farmhouse ale.  At only 5.8% abv, it's not overly strong at all as well.  This is typically a Fall seasonal, but I've still seen some on the shelves lately, at Calandro's on Government Street if I remember right!  

Reviewers: Eric Ducote (BR Beer Scene), Jay Ducote (, and James Lawson (, and Charles (

Serving: 12 ounce brown bottle, available in 4-packs.

Appearance: Slightly hazy, deep amber with a nice head.

Aroma: My notes were, "malty, earthy, a little sweet, bready, no hops."  Charles picked up a slight perfume aroma, and Jay agreed with the "bready" comment.

Taste: A little hops here but still dominantly malty.  Jay described it as "sweet malty goodness with more going on."

Mouthfeel: Creamy, and easy to drink.  

Overall: We all liked this one, but no one was blown away. Jay enjoyed it the most with a very respectable score of 80, but James said that it was "generally pleasant, but lacks "wow" factor."  I guess James has been watching some Storage Wars. 

Overall Rating: 75.75
My Rating: 72

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Upcoming Louisiana Beer Events!

Hey everyone, just a few dates to mark down for upcoming beer events in the area!

Saturday, March 9th - New Orleans International Beer Festival - I wrote some about this before, and it's been mentioned by Nora over at the Nora's Beer Blog that Covington was going to have a cask and Abita was going to have a couple... definitely hit up the cask beer tent if you go! 

Thursday, March 21st - Abita beer dinner at Ruffino's - I'm not the biggest Abita fan in the world, but $70 (not including tax and tip) for a beer dinner at Ruffino's is a pretty solid deal.  It's one of the better restaurants in Baton Rouge in my opinion. 

Saturday, April 6th - Zapp's International Beer Festival - This is one of the biggest beer events of the year for me... not only is it the hometown beer festival, but it's open to homebrew clubs and I'll be there with Brasseurs A La Maison serving up some that I brewed myself!  This event is only $30, but it's limited to the first 1,500 people to buy a ticket to keep crowds under control.  Get yours early, try the homebrew, and also there's a good chance some of the "breweries in planning" like Gnarly Barley will be there. 

Thursday, April 11th - Chafunkta Release Party at The Barley Oak - The word on Facebook is that this will be the official commercial release of Chafunkta Brewing Company at The Barley Oak in Mandeville.  I've been looking forward to this one for a while, and it'll be fantastic to have another Louisiana brewery putting out some good beer.  They will also be at the New Orleans International Beer Festival mentioned up above as their first official event.  Look for the Voo Ka Ray IPA and the Old 504 Porter as their initial offerings. 

If I left anything out or you want to contract me to promote a certain event, feel free to click on the contact tab above and shoot me an e-mail! 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Feature Beer Friday! - Brooklyn Local 1

So by the time this post goes up on Friday I'm going to be in New York City, and that means it's time to feature a beer from the Brooklyn Brewery out of Brooklyn, NY.   This is the second feature for the Brooklyn Brewery going way back to the second ever featured beer, the Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout.  That one is one of their seasonal favorites, while the Brooklyn Local 1 is a big-bottle series beer that can typically be found in Baton Rouge year round.  It's not super easy to find, but the better beer stores will usually have some.  If they don't, ask. 

Brooklyn describes this beer as a Belgian-inspired Strong Golden Ale, and it's certainly not weak at 9.0% abv.  They use German malt and hops, sugar from the island nation of Mauritius, and yeast from Belgium to create the beer.  It's also completely bottle conditioned hence the fancy cork & cage on top.  Time to pop that cork and get to some reviewing!

Reviewers: Eric Ducote (BR Beer Scene), Dustin Davis, James Lawson (, and Jeremy Spikes (

Serving: 750ml corked & caged brown bottle.

Appearance: "Nice head w/ straw color; hazy, good head retention" were Dustin's notes... I think that sums it up well.

Aroma: Very "Belgian" aroma to it... floral hops, a little fruity, grassy.

Taste: Very floral as well with a bit of spice and earthy tones.  It had a little hint of Belgian funk to it from the yeast, but Jeremy thought it was a little too bitter.

Mouthfeel: Very well carbonated as expected from the bottle fermentation..

Overall: It wasn't the perfect beer, but we all en joyed this one a lot.  It's a great American example of a Belgian-styled ale and one of the best we can get in the Baton Rouge market.

Overall Rating: 74.25
My Rating: 77