Thursday, August 30, 2007

Thoughts on Michael Jackson

As mentioned yesterday, the Father of Beer Writing Michael Jackson has passed on. Like most lovers of beer, I have never had the pleasure of meeting him, but I consider him a great influence. However, there are many who have met him, some of there stories and thoughts are below:

Thoughts from Stan at Appellation Beer.
A great article and post from Lew Bryson
Another good article from the folks at Realbeer.
All About Beer has posted his last article where he talks a little bit about his illness.
A post from Rick Lyke and his experiences with Mr. Jackson.
The brewers over at Lost Abbey take their turn expressing their sadness at the loss of the Leader of the Pack

A Sad Day......

If any day was one, today is it for the beer world. News from Brookston Beer Bulletin brings that the great Beer author and more Michael Jackson has passed. Mr. Jackson known as the Beer Hunter among other things, introduced many a novice beer drinker to craft beer with the World Guide to Beer among many other books. He will be missed. Other much more eloquent will be posting their thoughts throughout the next couple of days. I'll try to gather as many as I can and post links to them this weekend.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Under 21 Debate

Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably noticed that there has been an increase in the debate on whether or not to lower the legal drinking age. I have spoken about it before, and even link to a site, whose goal it is to educate others about drinking responsibly. Earlier this week Jay over at Brookston Blog had a very well written article on the subject. However it wasn't until I read an article by Fred Eckhardt in the most recent magazine of All About beer that I decided to post a few of my thoughts no the issue.
I'll go ahead and state my position at the top so you understand where I'm coming from, I am for lowering the age to 18. There was one paragraph in particular from AAB that really raised my eyebrows: Of all the countries in the world, the US is one of only FOUR that restrict the drinking age to 21, the others being South Korea, Malaysia and the Ukraine. In fact three are only 7 total countries that don't use 18 as the age (the additional three being New Zealand, Iceland, and Japan). Now is it just me or is there something really wrong here. To help furthermake Jay's point, but does MADD really think that every other country in the world is ready to damage the mental development of their youth? I don't hink so.
Having lived in Germany for a few months I know first hand that there view of alcohol is VERY different. They don't have the issues that we have with drunk driving, alcoholism, and frankly just regular instances of public intoxication. Neo-prohibitionists can scream and yell until they are red in the face, but the above are all true statements. We have made alcohol this mysterious stigma due to our outlook on it, shrouding it misconception that creates an atmosphere that once a person leaves the protected embrace of home and heads to college, binge drinking rises to incredible rates. Our youth are not raised to respect alcohol, understanding that it is something to be enjoyed with dinner and friends, vs getting drunk off the cheapest swill possible. The youth of this great country face immense pressure to drink, while in Europe that pressure just doesn't exist. Why is that?
The legal age of adult hood as set by many precedences is 18. It is the age in which we can choose the leader of our great country. It is the age in which we are considered adults in the eyes of the courts. It is the age in which we can die for our country. We can be police officers, and firemen at 18. We drive cars, we can fly airplanes at 18. However we can not have a beer. If everyone looks at this from a logical (I know this may be a difficult request for some) they can not honestly say that keeping the age at 21 is the right thing to do. As prohibition was a failed culteral experiment, so was raising the legal drinking age to 21.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A tale of two magazines

A couple of days ago I was all set to write a post about what I thought was a pretty good magazine on beer, Draft. Of course some bloggers have pointed out that this isn't all that good of a magazine and sure it has its short comings, but I thought it was pretty good. My attitude changed this past weekend when my eyes caught hold of the newly renovated All About Beer Magazine. Now most beer aficionados know of this magazine, however, it was the first time I have seen it in my area. Having heard so much about it, I picked it up and couldn't be happier.
Here are just a few of the things I liked about it:
  • The in depth articles were very informative and well written. The article on the history of IPA, while not covering a whole lot of new ground it was still a good article that would give a new comer a greater understanding of what has become an American Craft brewer's standard. The other was the article on the Publican. The intent of the story was celebrating Washington D.C.'s Brickseller, a taphouse that has been around for 50 years. However the article spread to many more taphouses around the country including the local favorite Gingerman's and Flying Saucer.
  • A great guide to Beer Books. Covering everything from beer history to beer memorabilia, this was a great guide for book lovers.
  • The tastings were very informative broken down into two distinct formats. The first is the traditional ratings of beer, the theme this month being Continental Ales, the second is called "Beer talk" and is a panel of beer experts each extolling on a specific selection of beers. The panel included such luminaries as Michael Jackson and Garret Oliver, among others.
All in all, I felt this was an incredibly easy read, good interviews with brewers and a fun look at news bits. They ave a great selection of writers, from Rick Lyke to Charlie Papazian and many others.
My nits are minor and consistent with my gripes for other magazines. The Activity Calendar is already out of date by the time the magazine comes to print. If magazines are going to put these things out, they need to do a better job of making them relevant. This magazine has now become a monthly pick up for me as its one of the few beer mag's that I have access to down in Houston. Unfortunately no Beer Advocate. I am thinking of writing another post on why Draft is no longer my favorite, maybe later this week.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Ommegang Three Philosophers

Ever since my first taste of Ommegang I have been a HUGE fan of their beers. Touted as one of the best brewers of Belgian ales in the US, they are located in Cooperstown, NY. They have an amazing farmhouse brewery located there that over looks the rolling hills and forests of the surrounding area. Originally an independent brewery they are now owned by Moortgart, makers of Duvel and Maredsous. This past week my local Flying Saucer, as it does every Wednesday had a Glassware night. I couldn't make it due to my work, but my wonderful and amazing fiance went because the glass was from Ommegang and I had to have one. This was a very special glass and it was for a very specific beer, their Three Philosophers. After my fiance picked up the glass I of course, went out and grabbed a Three Philosophers to try in its own glass. The glass is a small almost spherical goblet residing on a short stemmed base.
The Beer: The beer is a Quadrupel made with cherries and weighing in at 9.8% abv. Pouring into its unique glass the beer is a cloudy hazelnut color with a very nice tan colored head. the nose is sour, yeasty, malty, cherries, with some caramel notes. The mouth has a bit of cherry up front, but its not lambic-y at all. Thick and malty with malty notes, both caramel and a bit of chocolate notes come out. As the beer warms more cherry flavor pops up mixing with the caramel and chocolate more. At the very back is this warm sourdough bread flavor that comforts the should. Such an amazingly complex beer! As you can tell I thoroughly enjoyed it. A strong powerful A for this beer. Here's what the folks over at BA had to say.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Couple of Quick Hits

Just a couple of quick notes today.

First check out this article by one of my favorite Texas based Beer writers Barry Schlacter. Today in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram he has a good article on who owns what. Some of those independent breweries are not so independent after all.

Secondly Saint Arnold's has announced that Divine Reserve 5 a Russian Imperial Stout will be released in early September. In the meantime checkout their Octoberfest brew which was released this week.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Another Texas Craft Beer

Yes sir, may I have another!
Thanks to

Thursday, August 09, 2007

A Second Double Dose of Bear Republic

As mentioned a last week, the great Bear Republic has finally made its way to Houston and I couldn't be happier. This week I went out and I picked up two other big bottles to enjoy.
XP Pale Ale: This is Bear Republics Exceptional Pale Ale and its quite a good one. It weighs in at 5.4% abv and 55 IBU. It pours a nice bright orange color with a bright white foamy head. Notes of pine, grapefruit and citrus peel are all over the nose, with slight floral hints showing up. The mouth is effervescent, light body, with a slightly yeast note. Smooth and very well balanced, notes of pale malts show up as well. A little piney at times, but very nice. I'd give it an B+. As for the folks at BA, here's what they have to say.
Hop Rod Rye Ale: Made with 20% Rye Malt, weighing in at 7.5% abv and 90+IBU's this is a strong American Pale Ale. The beer pours a cloudy brown with a tan creamy head. Piney hops abound on the nose, malts, and bready notes show up as well. This beer has a really thick mouthfeel, with hoppy bitterness up front exploding into pine needles and flowing into a light sour bready note from the rye before finishing up in another strong wave of hop bitterness. I really enjoyed the ebbs and flows in the taste profile of this beer. Probably my favorite of the ones that I had, I'd give it a strong A-. The folks at BA tend to agree.
Well so far those are the 4 beers from BR that I have seen in my market. One thing is for sure, they do Pale Ales, and IPA's wonderfully well, but I'm eager to see what else they can do. Hopefully we'll get some more of their beers here, or else I may have to just travel to the West Coast (now that would be a shame).

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Session #7 Announcement

Its hard to believe that just 7 short months ago Stan over at Appellation Beer started up The Session. Its been a great time to try new and different beers and growing every time. Its amazing to see the amount of Beer Bloggers out there all over the world participating. For the uninitiated the Session is a virtual beer tasting hosted by a Blogger. Each Session has a theme that the beer tasting needs to fall into, and on the first Friday of the month everyone posts their tasting. A couple of days later the hosts posts a round-up with all of the tastings.
This month the host is Rick Lyke over at Lyke 2 Drink. The theme is Brew Zoo. The guidelines are simple, grab a beer that has an animal theme. From Rick's post:
We have lions and tigers and bears, plus various birds, reptiles, fish, assorted domesticated and wild animals, plus a few mythical creatures. For whatever reason brewers have a tradition of branding their beers using everything from pets to predators. The Brew Zoo will celebrate these lagers and ales.
So come one come all and join the Brew Zoo.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Session #6 Round-Up

A few short days after the 6th session was completed, Greg over at Beer, Beats, & Bites has posted the roundup. There were quite a few participants participating in this fruit beer tasting. As expected not all were lambic's, and most tried some really unique beer's. Overall I think this was a great tasting that I am sure opened many (including yours truly) onto a different style of beer. Next Month's host is Rick Lyke over at Lyke 2 Drink.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Worst Beer Ever?

The worst beer ever? Thats and have I had it is the question? It all started innocently enough, with me and my fiance, meeting some friends at Flying Saucer, a family of bars with a huge selection of beers on tap and in the bottle. When I go to the Saucer my eyes are usually drawn to the chalkboard above the bar highlighting new offerings. It was there that it happened, I saw Sam Adams Triple Bock. I had heard of this Extreme beer from Jim Koch before. In fact it was Boston Beer Company's first Extreme beer, followed by the Chocolate Bock and Utopia among others. We sat down and I eagerly asked our waitress for the Sam Adams Triple Bock, it was a short time later that she came back with this small jet black bottle and a snifter. From this 8.45 oz bottle pours what I can only describe as black tar it was so thick. Thats ok I thought, I love thick beers. My anticipation crumbled at the first sniff. It was pure unadulterated soy sauce. Now I love soy sauce, with my sushi, but not as a beer. If I had known I was going to drink Sam Adams Kikkoman I would have passed.
Before I go further, lets take a step back and talk about the beer itself. The beer is an ale brewed with maple syrup and its aged in old whiskey barrels. This creates a beer that should be complex with flavors of oak and vanilla. Finally the beer weighs in at a robust 18% abv.
Ok, back to the nightmare that was this beer. This is coming from someone that is not faint at heart when it comes to strong beers, or even oak aged beers. I have had my share of Dogfish's 18%+ abv beers, and oak aged beers and have for the most part given them good ratings. Not this time, I can't do it, this was so bad I couldn't finish it. The nose of Soy sauce was so overpowering I couldn't enjoy the beer itself, which all I really got out of it, was some raisiny characteristics and lots of alcohol. While I appreciate what Mr. Koch is trying to do, this was definitely a big SWING and a miss in my book. Its important to point out that it was not just me that had these strong feelings for the beer, the three other people felt the same way. In fact I was SHOCKED to see that 63% of BAer's enjoyed this beer, I have no idea how anyone can truthfully say they enjoyed this beer.

Friday, August 03, 2007

The Session #6

Its that time of the month again, the 6th Session! This time hosted by Greg over at Beer beats and bites the theme is Fruit Beer. Lucky for me its not just lambic's we are talking about, but any beer brewed with fruit. Greg's talk of Strawberries at his local farmer's market is what led me in the direction of the ale I chose. While not quite fruit from my local market, it does have that type of quality to it. The beer is brewed with local fruit (local to the brewery that is). I found Atlantic Brewing's Bar Harbor Blueberry Ale at my local Central Market, and its something that I have wanted to try for a while, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to give it a taste.
The Brewery: Atlantic Brewing is based out of Bar Harbor Maine. It was found in 1991 and is still a fairly small brewery, only brewing 60 kegs a day according to their website. Another neat thing that they do is they try not to use big distributors instead choosing small local distributors. For instance in Texas the distributor is Spec's Warehouse and not a national company. The brewery makes a wide range of beers from a standard Pale Ale to a 6 month aged Porter and a year long aged Barley wine. Something tells me I was going to like this Blueberry beer.
The Beer: The beer pours a reddish amber with a quarter inch tan head. The nose is FULL of blueberries, maybe a bit of citrus from hops, but no noticeable maltiness, however it may have been hidden behind the blueberries. The mouth was surprising as it didn't have the sugary sweetness that I was afraid of. Instead there were notes of blueberries, some maltiness starts to show up, with minimal hop bitterness. A slight metallic tinge showed up at the end, maybe from the skins of blueberries and thats really the only fault I have with this beer. A very good solid fruit beer, that's not ruined by sugary sweetness. A beer that displays its fruit with out allowing it to take over the beer. I'd give it a good strong B+. What do the folks at BA have to Say?
Now head over to Beer, Beats, and Bites for more Fruit Beers

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A double dose of Bear Republic

Living in Texas has some benefits when it comes to beer distributorship since we are somewhat centrally located we get a good portion of beer from the east coast and west coast. Not that we get all that beer, especially with some of the archaic label laws that exist in this fine state, but we get our fair share. One of the ones that we haven't had distributed to Texas is the great Bear Republic Brewing Co. Well that has now changed. Walking through my local Whole Foods, I was SHOCKED, SHOCKED I saw to see big glorious bottles of Bear Republic. I quickly picked up two carried them home and got ready to see what all the fuss was about.
Racer 5 IPA: A 7% alcohol IPA containing Columbus and Cascade hops and an IBU of 69. The beer pours a hazy copper color with a nice creamy head. The nose was more grapefruit than pine, with some citrus and even lychee note. The mouth is vibrant, citrusy, refreshing, not nearly as strong as I would have expected. Some good bitterness but not all that strong, maybe even mildly weak. A very solid IPA, but not top tier as I was expecting. I'd give it a B+, here's what the folks at BA had to say.
Red Rocket Ale: A pretty interesting ale, called a Scottish Red Ale weighing in at 6.8% and 65+ IBU's. The beer pours a nice reddish color with a thick tan head. BIG hops on the nose more piney than grapefruity but there is some citrus here. The mouth is piney, citrus, undertones of malty sweetness, caramel specifically. A little bit of astringency. Very good sipping beer. I really liked this one, this is what I wanted when I popped open a Bear Republic. I'd give it an A-, and here's what the BA people said.
I will definitely be going back to that Whole Foods and give the XP Pale Ale and Hop Rod Rye a try.