Archive for the Beer Reviews Category

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


Pint Night with the Brew Guys

Posted in Beer Reviews, Events, Misc. with tags , on December 8, 2009 by Adam Aldrete

Hey Beer lovers,

As the semester comes to a close, the brew guys decided to meet up for Pint Night at the Flying Saucer to reflect on all of the beer knowledge we’ve gained over these past couple of months. BE sure to check out our video reviews and the “what I’ve learned” segment at the bottom of the page. We’d also like to send out a big Get Well Soon to brew guy James, who had to miss our night out due to food poisoning.

Here's to our loyal readers, especially Seth!! Cheers!

Tim like the rest of us, took a nice long look at the incredible variety offered at Flying Saucer.

Bill in deep thought, probably solving the world's problems

‘Tis The Season

Posted in Beer Reviews with tags , , , , , , on December 7, 2009 by Tim

Well, we’re a week into the month of December and it’s even started snowing (sort of) in Austin, so what better time to try out a little seasonal Christmas cheer in bottle form. I have selected a very diverse cast of beers from three very different breweries in order to see how different regions around the country sustain themselves over the cold winter months. (They were also the only ones that HEB had at the time.) Let’s get started!

The festive label screams, "Happy Holidays!"

First up, let’s check in with an old familiar favorite from the Lone Star State, the Shiner Holiday Cheer from the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas. The Shiner Holiday Cheer has been an annual tradition for a little while and is described as “an Old World Dunkelweizen brewed with Texas peaches and roasted pecans.”

The Cheer gave off a real strong flavor of berries, although that might be in keeping with the peach elements. It also had a delicately hoppy flavor with a light body and a smooth mouthfeel. This brew has an alcoholic content of 5.4 percent alcohol by volume, but doesn’t have an overwhelmingly alcoholic taste. On the Austin Brew Scale, I would give this beer 4 out of 5 mugs.

For my next seasonal beer, I went to the Pacific Northwest and the Widmer Brothers Brewing Company out of Portland, Oregon. Their current winter offering is the Brrr Seasonal Ale. The Brrr is available late October through early January and is recommended to be paired with “holiday favorites like ham and turkey.”

After an initial sweetness, the Brrr gives way to a much more bitter flavor than the Holiday Cheer. The Brrr also has a strong, hoppy aftertaste.

The Brrr has a smooth texture and a slightly thicker body.

After an initially smooth tasting,I definitely got more of a sense of the 7.2% alcohol by volume as I continued drinking. Finishing up became more difficult as the alcohol started to kick in.  I would give the Brrr a 3 out of 5 mugs on the Austin Brew Scale.

The final beer that I tried was completely different from the previous two, and provided something completely unexpected to the whole experience. The beer comes from the Magic Hat Brewing Company, located in South Burlington, Vermont. For the winter season, Magic Hat brews a beer that they accurately describe as a “Black-As-Night Winter Lager”. The beer, called Howl, is made with English ale yeast and a bitterness rating of 32 IBU.

The folks over at Magic Hat take this beer VERY seriously according to the description posted on its homepage: “Born of dark and cold and snow in the marrow of the northeast’s longest night, HOWL comes in on wailing winds with winter-weary eyes burning holes in sunless shadows. In its darkened depths out inner voids are warmed.” Okay, well now I’m a little scared. Not exactly the “holiday cheer” I was expecting. But it gets even crazier.


The website for Howl begins with a darkly lit flash animation accompanied by eerie music and a rather sinister voice in a British accent reciting an expanded version of the  poem above. In the less terrifying description of the beer, the company describes it as “A dark, medium-bodied beer with a rich roasted malt flavor and smooth hop bitterness.”

The thing that is the most shocking about Howl, however, is the 4.6% alcohol by volume. The reason it seems so shocking was evident from the first sip I took of Howl. Whereas the Shiner didn’t have much of an alcoholic taste or kick to it to begin with, and the Brrr gradually became more intense as you drank it, Howl immediately felt like a punch in the face. The overall taste of the alcohol gave me an extreme “whiskey face” that I could feel in the back of my throat and the sides of my mouth. This was quite surprising considering that Howl had the LEAST alcohol by volume of the three beers that I tried.

In terms of texture, Howl was surprisingly very thin and fizzy. It did not produce much of a head despite being an extremely dark and almost completely opaque beer.


Another facet of the taste that struck me as different about Howl was the overwhelming presence of malt flavor. The beer contained at least three kinds of malts, including pale, crystal, and carafa. This made for an interesting flavor and an even more curious look to the beer. As you can see, when held up to the light, you are able to see the hundreds of tiny malt crystals floating within the beer. While this might be perfectly normal for some of you, it kind of grossed me out a little. For being a little a too bitter and malty for my taste I give Howl a 2 out of 5 mugs.

Well that’s all I have for this time, I hope everyone has a safe and happy holidays (while sampling out new bears of course) and let us know in the comments what your favorite winter beverage is. Until next time, Cheers!

photos by Preston Edmands

Beck’s & Buckler: Non-alcoholic beer showdown

Posted in Beer Reviews, Grudge Match with tags , , , , , on December 4, 2009 by Adam Aldrete

Hey beer lovers,

Today I am coming to you from the Flying Saucer, home of countless beers and the always popular $2.75 fire sale. Tomorrow I will be taking the LSAT, as such, I am abstaining for alcohol and have decided to explore the oft-forgotten part of the menu…the non-alcoholic side.

The Saucer is sensitive to the wants of those seeking alcohol-free beer

Believe it or not, such beers exist! Truthfully, they do contain a small amount of alcohol, usually under 0.5% by volume. Neverthless, the amount of alcohol is so small, it would take ALOT to even sniff the buzzed state of mind. In order to make these creations, brewers will generally go through the process of vacuum evaporation.

Interestingly enough, both of these beers were quite tasty…but only one can win today’s showdown.

First, I tried Beck’s non-alcoholic. According to their wesbite, the brewers “stop the fermentaion before the alcohol can form, but not before it achieves the distictive taste and aroma of a Beck’s.”

With hardly any alcohol, this beer packs a strong smell but not much of a taste.

Beck’s poured a golden yellow with no head and a pretty strong aroma. It doesn’t pack a huge punch as far as taste goes but does maintain a very soft, semi-sweet aftertaste.

My rating: 2.75 out of 5 mugs

(See our rating scale here)

After Beck’s, I tried Heinekin’s Buckler beer. Although beeradvocate didn’t think very highly, I found this beer to be pretty good.

Honey Smacks beer? Its not quite that sweet.

It was similar in color to Beck’s but seems to have less carbonation. After pouring it, no head appeared and the aroma was nonexistant. The taste was interesting, my first thought was “this beer tastes like Honey smacks without the sugar.” It left no aftertaste and was very easy to drink.

My rating: 3.25 out of 5 mugs (TODAYS WINNER!!!)

Thank you for reading today’s post. I hope ya’ll enjoy the big game tomorrow night! Hook’em and cheers!

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

Raison D’Etre and Woodchuck Draft Pear Cider

Posted in Beer Reviews with tags , , on November 29, 2009 by Tim

Hello again, everyone. I trust you all had a great Thanksgiving week and did plenty of beer research over the holidays. And since we have this here blog, I thought I would go ahead and share some of the “research” that I did over this past week.

First off, I tried the Raison D’Etre from the Dogfish Head Brewery.

As I said in the video, the Dogfish company describes the Raison D’Etre as “A deep, mahogany ale brewed with beet sugar, green raisins, and Belgian-style yeast.” And, in spite of my claims that it did not require food, the website recommends a pairing with “Steak, duck…blue cheese, goat cheese, (and) ham.” What I neglected to mention about this beer became evident as I continued drinking it.

The Raison D’Etre has an ABV of 8% and also packs quite a punch at the end. Drinking one bottle feels like two bottles of a typical beer. Towards the end, this beer was giving me a serious whiskey face. Not that I’m not a fan of whiskey or other hard liquors, but the unexpectedness of it was a little jarring.

For the next tasting, I decided to go with something a little smoother, the Woodchuck Draft Pear Cider from the Green Mountain Cidery in Springfield, Vermont.

Compared to my previous cider post, I definitely prefer the Woodchuck family of ciders over the Samuel Smith. In addition to the Pear cider, the Woodchuck brand also has multiple flavors of cider including Granny Smith, Amber, 802, and Raspberry depending on your preference. The website is also very helpful by providing food recipes that use their cider for added flavor in cooking. Another informative feature is the number of “drink mixables” that they offer to combine cider with hard liquor.

Once again, I hope everyone’s holiday was spectacular, and I will hopefully have another post for you very soon.

Thanksgiving beer selection

Posted in Beer Reviews, Beer Tasting, Misc. with tags , , , , , on November 26, 2009 by James

Indians and Pilgrims enjoying craft beer with their feast

Happy Thanksgiving Austin Brew readers! It’s about 1:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving day right now and I’m getting ready to head to the local Spec’s in search of some Thanksgiving beers. I’ve dwindled my choices down to five possible beers that I’m going in search of. Below I will list these beers and after dinner I will tell you which brews I was able to get a hold of and which one I thought was best.

Kerberos Tripel (Flying dog): According to serious eats dot com, this beer compliments ” the stuffing with its rich buttery flavor and hint of sweetness.” Also, check out beer dinners dot com’s post on pairing the Kerberos with turkey sandwiches.

Frambozen (New Belgium): Lunch dot com recommends this beer to go well with salads and other green dishes.  The beer is also said to be a combination of a fruit beer and a brown ale. I’m not very thrilled about fruity beers so it should be interesting to give this one a shot.

Mirror Pond Ale (Deschutes): The Deschutes website proclaims this beer, “The quintessential American pale ale, Mirror Pond elegantly blends the sweetness of malted barley with the bite of hops (which add bitterness and aroma).” For pairing purposes, grizzly growler dot com claims that the beer goes well with gravy dishes.

Prima Pills (Victory): I’ve tried this beer once and I really enjoyed its dry and clean flavor. This beer has been recommended by the dallas observer food blog to go well with potato dishes.

Levitation Ale (Stone Brewing): Stone is one of my all time favorite breweries and I’m really hoping to find this selection today. Serious eats dot com suggests this beer:

While we’re not sure we’d recommend it to non-beerdrinkers, we think the Levitation Ale from Stone Brewing also deserves a place at the Thanksgiving table. This intense brew has herbal, piney flavors and lingering toasted malt. A hint of cinnamon and peat make this earthy beer a good companion for turkey and stuffing.

And that’s the list folks, check back later to see which one tops the list, and in the meantime why not chime in on the comment section with your own “personal best Thanksgiving brew.” Until then, cheers!

Update: 10:08 p.m.

My search for the five Thanksgiving beers was partly unsuccessful. Spec’s was closed today and  by the time I was able to get to my local grocery store it had also closed. I didn’t give up though and luckily I was able to find the Victory Prima Pils and the Mirror Pond Ale at a well stocked local gas station. I liked both of these beers but I’m going to put the Prima Pils on top tonight with 4 out of 5 mugs, and the Mirror Pond in second place with 3.5 out of 5 mugs on the Austin Brew scale.


Thanksgiving photo: