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Samuel Adams Winter Classics Beer Reviews

Posted in Beer Reviews with tags , , , , , , on December 21, 2009 by Bill Bowman

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season. I have enjoyed some free time since school has let out. Last weekend, I picked up the Samuel Adams Winter Classics variety pack and decided to share my findings. The case cost around 12 dollars at Specs and even came with a bow on top!

Six varieties of beers and a bow on top!

Now, on to the beers. I review the Old Fezziwig Ale, Cranberry Lambic, Holiday Porter and Coastal Wheat. The 12 pack also came with the standard Sam Adams Ale and the Winter Lager, which I have had before and is high quality.

Old Fezziwig is the best named Holiday Beer.

Old Fezziwig is the best named Holiday Beer.

The Old Fezziwig ale, named after the festive character in the Christmas Carol will be first up. It pours dark brown, with a medium head. It smells like spices and fruit. It had a very caramel, fruity, full taste. A very good beer. I give it 3.75 out of 5.

The Holiday Porter

The Holiday Porter, named after the variety of beers popular with old porters in England is next up. It pours thin and dark. The taste is chocolaty and mildly bitter. Not as good as the Fezziwig, but still tasty. I give it a 3 out of 5.

Cranberry Good Times!

Cranberry Good Times!

The Cranberry Lambic is the most unique beer out of the bunch. It pours a reddish orange with a medium hear. It has a cranberry (obviously) smell. The taste is overwhelmingly fruity with some syrup hints. Very good beer, but I imagine not everyone has the pallete for it. I give it a 3.5 out of 5.

Coastal Wheat

Coastal Wheat

The Coastal Wheat is an interesting beer out of the pack. I wasn’t really sure how it related to Christmas. Nevertheless, it poured kind of yellowish with a slight head. Smelled kind of citrusy. It tasted lemony and little bit wheaty (is that a word?). Going from the darker beers to the Coastal Wheat was not the best idea. I give it a 2.5 out of 5.

Well, I would recommend picking up the Samuel Adams Winter Classic variety pack this Holiday Season, if you want a little variety and great brews.

Bill Bowman


MGD 64 versus Bud Select 55 – The Ultra Light Battle

Posted in Beer Reviews with tags , , , , , , on December 1, 2009 by Bill Bowman

This past weekend, I decided to determine what the best ultra light beer was. Miller Genuine Draft 64, with a puny 65 calories and Bud Select 55, with a minuscule 55 calories. I will not delve into how they got the calorie content so low, but I will comment on the effect of these low calories. And it is not a good affect.

MGD 64 and Bud Select 55 ready to duel.

I picked up the beer at Wal-Mart for around five or six dollars for a six pack. Took it home, flipped on the TV to watch a little football, threw the sixers in fridge. About an hour later, I popped the top on the MGD 64, and poured it into my mug. It poured with a slight head, a pea color and a water consistency. I would describe the smell as that of a sink that has not been cleaned in recent days.

When I started drinking, I realized it needed to be a lot colder, so I threw one in the freezer to help out. The taste is unremarkable. It had almost no taste at all. It was like drinking water and about as alcoholic. The alcohol content is just 2.8 percent. Compared to around 4.5 percent for a typically light beer, 6 percent for a darker beer, 12-15 percent for wine and 40 percent for liquor.

I started double fisting the twang into the beer to elicit some flavor. That helped somewhat, but there is no way I would buy this beer again. I give MGD 64 a 1 out of 5.

Twang adds some flavor to MGD 64.

After the MGD 64, I was curious to see how the Bud Select 55 stacked up. I grabbed a bottle from the freezer and poured it out. Immediately, I knew this could be rough. It poured a little darker than MGD 64 and had no head. I would describe the smell as “rubberish”. Not the best adjective when describing beer, but this was not a good beer.

Bud Select 55 had a similarly low alcohol content, with 2.4 percent, but actually had flavor. Now, this was not to say the flavor was good. I would describe the flavor somewhat skunky and reminiscent of trashcans. Drinking it made me feel like I was jogging behind a garbage truck. Not a good time. I could barely finish one of these lightweight beasts. After finishing it, I still had a lingering aftertaste in my mouth. Not a good beer. I give Bud Select 55 a .5 out of 5.

Drinking Bud Select 55 is not an enjoyable experience.

In conclusion, I would not recommend any ultra low calorie beers. MGD 64 is my favorite of the two however, because no flavor is better than bad flavor.

Bill Bowman

Texas Tailgating Fun

Posted in Events with tags , , , on November 24, 2009 by Bill Bowman

This past weekend was Senior Day for Texas. It was the last home game for Jordan Shipley, Colt McCoy and many other Longhorns. I went out tailgating hard. I got to my tailgate at around noon and participated in all the typical tailgating activities – drinking beer, throwing the pig skin and eating great food. Then I headed to the stadium to see the Horns beat Kansas. Here is a look at the fun:

I also asked my friends what their favorite tailgate beer was. The best, most in-depth response came from my friend, Steven.

Well, see on tailgating day, it’s all about tradition. You’re not supposed to be fancy — it’s barbeque. Burgers and hot dogs, possibly sausages. You don’t want to be the guy who brings the super fancy, like delicatessen (sic) beer. For tailgating, I feel Miller Lite is the best beer. If I was going out, maybe I would try a new hefeweizen or some new dark ale. But for tailgating Miller Lite is the best.


The Cheap Beer Challenge

Posted in Beer Reviews, Events with tags , , , , , , on November 19, 2009 by Bill Bowman

The question as to what the best “Cheap Beer” is has raged for decades. Several months ago I decided to put the top cheap beers to the test. Working on behalf of Study Breaks Magazine, I conducted the Study Breaks Cheap Beer Challenge. I selected five thirsty beer enthusiasts to test out five popular low-cost beers – Pabst Blue Ribbon, Miller High Life, Lonestar, Keystone and Natural Light. The beers were poured into non-descript cups and the judges were asked to describe and rate each beer, from one to ten.

Bill Bowman and Jenny Baker find out what the best Cheap Beer is.

The Judges

Chef Coi

Chef Coi made a name for herself on the 5th season of the popular reality-cooking show, Hell’s Kitchen. Since then, she has continued to cook and keep her palette tuned. She enjoys good beer and relaxing with friends. Coi’s expert taste-buds and sensitive sense of smell will be put to good use.

Ivan Villareal

Ivan loves beer and having a good time. In his free time, Ivan enjoys fishing, going to the lake with his dog, working out and hanging out with friends.  Ivan also enjoys knocking back a couple Miller Lites after a tough day. Ivan claims that his love of beer more than qualifies him to judge this contest.

Brandy Brown

Brandy is an athletic, outgoing girl. She enjoys getting outdoors to swim, wakeboard and play rugby. Of course, drinking beer is also a favorite pastime. Brandy claims to have exquisite taste in beer and boasts more years of beer drinking experience than her fellow judges.

Adi “The 2nd Most Interesting Man in the World” Pavlovic

Adi is an interesting guy from across the Atlantic. He is a huge fan of all varieties of beer, with his favorite being Fireman #4. In his free time, he enjoys working out, doing pushups and partaking in his favorite drinking game, “Blackout!”

The judges taste the beers.

The Results

Layout by Kat Devers


Pabst Blue Ribbon bested our Texas favorites. The judges were shocked when they were told which beers they actually tasted. Brandy was stunned to find out her true desires. “What I thought I liked, I didn’t and what I thought I didn’t, I do. It’s kind of an identity crisis.” After the experience, Ivan was equally shaken. “I don’t think I like light beer as much anymore.” Hollis summed up the experience for everyone. “This was a great experience. Now I know what the best cheap beer truly is.”

Real Ale Beer on a Sunny Day

Posted in Beer Reviews with tags , , , , on November 17, 2009 by Bill Bowman

Today was a chilly day in Austin, but last Saturday the weather was Spring-like. I took advantage of that awesome weather and chilled by the pool, had a little barbecue and sampled the Real Ale Brewery’s sampler pack. Here is my take on the three beers in the pack, plus a bonus review by a guest beer aficionado.

I give the Rio Blanco Pale Ale a 3.5 out of 5 mugs, the Brewhouse Brown Ale a 4 out of 5 mugs and the Rio Blanco Pale Rye Ale a 3 out of 5 mugs.

My esteemed beer tasting colleague, Andrew gave Natural Light a 4.25 out of 5. It should be stated that Austin Brew does not endorse his rating.

I will conclude with a quote from Frank Zappa, via Real Ale Brewing.

You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline – it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.

Dog and Duck Pub

Posted in Beer Reviews with tags , , , , on November 12, 2009 by Bill Bowman

Last night, after enjoying a free Applebees dinner for Veterans Day (which came with dollar draft beers of Fat Tire), I headed to the Dog and Duck Pub with a few friends. The Dog and Duck has a relaxed, old world feel and plenty of great beers on tap. I implored my friends to forgo their typical Bud Lights and try something new.


Joseph looking forward to tasting the Chimay Blue.

Joseph tried out the Chimay Blue. The Chimay brewery is actually in a  Belgium’s Trappist Monastery. And those monks sure know how to brew a beer. There are four varieties of Chimay. I think Joseph tried the Chimay Blue.

It is a stout beer, with %9 alcohol by volume. You pay for that stoutness and quality. It cost my friend $6.75. Note that he got it in a special beer goblet. I was taken aback by the price and appealing presentation. Joseph described the taste as sweet and very unique. He offered me a sip and it reminded me of Christmas. Overall, he gave the Chimay an impressive 4.25 out of 5 mugs on the Austin Brew Scale. Worth the price!


Sam is satisfied by his Summit Pale Ale.

Sam tried out the Summit Pale Ale after the recomendation of the bartender. He said the Summit hit the tongue hard and bit with strong hops. He said there was also a distinct aftertaste after setting the brew down. Overall, he enjoyed his departure from Bud Light and gave the beer 2.5 out of 5 mugs.


Enjoying the relaxed atmophere at the Dog and Duck and my 1554.

I tried the 1554 by New Belgium Brewery. The beer pours like a dark coffee with little head. The beer has a chocolaty malty flavor, but surprisingly isn’t overwhelmingly strong. Its mellow taste goes down smooth with a light body. I give the 1554 a 3.5 out of 5. A good cold weather beer.

The Dog and Duck is a good end to a hectic day!

Good Times at Wurstfest 09′

Posted in Beer Reviews, Events with tags , , , , on November 10, 2009 by Bill Bowman

Last Saturday, after the Texas game, I made the 45 minute trek to New Braunfels to experience the Wurstfest. This was a festival of German culture. Crucial to that culture would appear to be food and beer. And there were plenty of both at Wurstfest – along with some good times and great polka music. The festival was packed full of thirsty people looking for fun!


Drink tickets were worth their weight in gold.

The beer selection there was adequate, with I think around five or six different varieties of German beers, alongside the domestic standards. Getting your hands on these beers became quite a task as the night fell. You had to purchase beer tickets, for a dollar a ticket. Six tickets (dollars) got you a 12 ounce cup of imported beer and a whopping 25 tickets purchased a pitcher.


Learning the right phrases.

The place was packed so getting a new round was a guaranteed 25 or 30 minute wait to boot. After getting the beer or food and sitting down with friends, the good times could then roll. There were hundreds of tables inside tents with polka music jamming. Me and my friends could not find a table, so we relaxed on the hillside, by the river. It is there that I taste tested a couple beers:


Very fashionable.

Warsteiner Dunkel: This beer was pretty average, brewed by Warsteiner. It was was a little hoppy and somewhat flat. 2.5 out of 5 mugs on the Austin Brew Scale.

Warsteiner KL Weiss: This was my favorite beer from the Wurstfest. It was more aggressive and hoppy. I give it 3.5 out of 5 mugs.

Spaten Oktoberfest: This was another good beer, brewed by Spaten. For some reason it seemed a little lighter than the other two, but it was very crisp. 3 out of 5 mugs.

The most fun part of the festival for me wasn’t the ubiquitous beer, it was the fun and friendly atmosphere – everyone was smiling and for some reason, many people were wearing odd hats. So make sure to check out Wurstfest when it comes back in town next year!