Archive for the Beer Tasting Category

Tasting Texas’ Craft Brewing Culture

Posted in Beer Tasting, Features, Pubs on December 7, 2009 by James

Hi Austin Brew Readers. Over the past month I have been compiling interviews with Texas craft brewers. These interviews have taught me a lot about the past, present and future of brewing in the lone star state. I’ve created a small web-story to give beer lovers an idea of how Texas craft brewing operates, and it can be viewed by clicking on the photo below. This project has led me to consider putting together a full documentary about the subject and I encourage anyone who has any ideas on how to make this documentary successful to comment below.

Click to view

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.

Credit:

Thanksgiving photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/notionscapital/3063466292/sizes/m/

Lindeman’s Dual: Peaches or Apples?

Posted in Beer Reviews, Beer Tasting, Grudge Match with tags , , , on November 21, 2009 by Adam Aldrete

Hey Beer lovers,

Today, I’m getting back to the basics with a good ol’ fashioned beer rating. However, unlike previous posts, the ratings have been determined by four of my friends. Using the brew guys 5 mug scale, they rated each beer and provided commentary on each.

Tim’s post about Cider got me wondering about what other alternative beers exist and if they are any good. As you may have read in my Houston post, I have tried Lindeman’s Framboise and found it to be pretty good. My friends and I are going to try two other of Lindeman’s fruity creations. If you do not like the taste of the average beer, this post is just for you!

Now for beer number one: Lindemans Pomme Beer

Pomme, which is French for Apple, described perfectly the smell of this beer. Although perhaps the french word for sour, “aigrir,” should have been use as well.

Here are some of the descriptions:

“Smells like sour apple juice mixed with beer…tastes very sour.”

“This one smells a lot more like beer…the taste is very sour, almost like a sour candy.”

“Bubbly.”

Bottle Opening – when beer bottlers go mad

One thing I should note about these beers is that they were packaged more like wine bottles than beers. As such, here is a quick video of how to pop the top if you run into this problem with one of these crazy beers. Also, I apologize for my friends in the background, they will likely be at Chuck E. Cheese tomorrow trying to relive those grade school days.

And now for beer number two: Lindemans Peche Beer

Peche, also a French word, means Peach. Like the Pomme, this beer is brewed (malt based), after which fruit is added to create a second fermentation and add the taste of fruit.

Here is the commentary on this beer:

“This beer is like Welch’s juice”

“I can smell the hops but it tastes sweet and the residual taste is bubbly, almost like flavored sparkling water or wine.”

“Reminds me of a sparkling Cider, maybe a champagne.”

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Overall, my friends enjoyed both drinks, but only requested a second serving of today’s winner…

Peche!

Here are the ratings from today’s tasters:

Pomme: 2, 2.5, 3, 3 (all out of five)

Peche: 4, 4, 4, 4.5 (all out of five)

Thanks again for reading and be sure to come back for our posts on Monday!

Visting Real Ale Brewery

Posted in Beer Tasting, Events with tags , , on November 19, 2009 by James

Last Friday I set off to Blanco, TX to tour the Real Ale brewery. The town of Blanco is about 50 miles south-west of Austin, but seeing the brewery is well worth the hour drive in my opinion. When I first got there I was kind of surprised to see about 20 people already sampling beers and waiting for the first tour to begin. Below are some of the photos  I took while at the brewery, and for a review of some of these beers check out Bill’s Real Ale post.

This tank was the first sign that I had arrived.

These were the beers being sampled that day. My favorite was the Oktoberfest.

Special Delivery!

Head Brewer Erik Ogershok in tour mode.

The Real Ale brewery has recently expanded their operation. This is some of their new brewing equipment.

Erik demonstrating a mechanical arm used to move kegs after they have been filled.

These oak barrels are used to age beer and create unique flavors.

Trip to Houston, where beer culture is alive and well!

Posted in Beer Reviews, Beer Tasting, Pubs with tags , , , , , , on November 14, 2009 by Adam Aldrete

Hey beer lovers,

On Friday, I was in Houston for a mini business trip. Once I was finished, I decided I would find a local brewpub to review and have a cold one. This may have the been on the best decisions I’ve made on a trip.

My friend Erin recommended that I try a place called Taps House of Beers, which is located just west of downtown Houston. Here is a video from just outside the bar:

Once in the bar, I was greeted by a laundry list of beers, a wide variety of games (billiards, shuffle board, washers, and fuzzball), and multiple big screen tvs. Taps also had very reasonably priced food items ($2 Pretzel, $7 pizza, FREE popcorn, and FREE hot dogs). I tried the pretzel and then enjoyed three of the complementary hot dogs and a little popcorn. Taps is definitely a great place to be, they have two outdoor ares and a very large, spacious indoor area.

In this video, the camera girl caught me enjoying a hot dog:

After this video was shot, Erin called and said she and her boyfriend were coming by, so I decided to order a third and final beer. Here is a quick review of the beers:

St. Arnold’s Lawnmower

Since I was in Houston, I had to drink local for the first pint, and I’m glad I did. The lawnmower was light, tasty, and well worth a try. Brewed in Houston at St. Arnold’s Brewing Company, this Kolsch-style beer exceeded my expectations.

My grade: 4.5 out of 5 mugs

Hacker Pschorr Hefe

This is a German beer! The Hacker Pschorr website doesn’t even have an English version. Nevertheless, this brew is up there with my favorite hefes. Served with a lemon slice, this wheat-beer complemented the lemon perfectly. It had a very balanced taste, very smooth, and also very light. This beer is definitely the lemonade of beers, cool and refreshing.

My grade: 4 out of 5 mugs

Lindemans Framboise

The beer, brewed by Brouwerij Lindemans, was basically juice. It was tart, with very few beer-qualities. However, if you have a friend who hates the taste of beer (the horror!), I highly recommend this for them. It is a bit low on alcohol content, something like 2.5, but that is the trade-off for drinking something that tastes like candy.

My grade: 3.5 out of 5 mugs (better than cranberry juice, not quite as good as OJ)

Since this blog is about what you, the beer enthusiasts think, I turned the camera on my trusty camera girl, Abbie, to get her take on the bar.

The last point I want to make before signing out is PLEASE don’t drink and drive. For that matter, try not to be that guy or girl puking at the beer tasting (which I’ve seen). Taps had a nifty device at the entrance that   amount of alcohol in your system. Be sure to read up on the law and above all, don’t be stupid, when you go out to enjoy a few beers. Always have a DD. Here is a video of me trying out the breathalyzor. Until next time, Cheers! -Adam

Uncle Billy’s Brew & Que

Posted in Beer Tasting with tags , , , on November 11, 2009 by Tim

Uncle Billy’s Brew and Que sits over on Barton Springs Rd., nestled between Zilker Park and the bustling intersection of Barton Springs and Lamar. The restaurant specializes in both quality barbecue and a generous menu of beers that they brew themselves. Brian Peters, one of the founders of the Live Oak Brewing Company, just so happens to be the man who creates the brews you’ll find at Uncle Billy’s.

I set out to try the “sample six” (consisting of four regular beers and two rotating brews) in order to contrast how their range of beers stack up against each other.

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The Brewery at Uncle Billy's*

Moving through the six beers that Uncle Billy’s currently brews in house, we decided to go from lightest to darkest starting with the Back 40 Blonde Ale.

Uncle Billy’s describes the Back 40 as an “Authentic Kölsch-style ale using German malt and hops-clean, crisp, and refreshing.”

Compared to the other beers on tap, the Back 40 definitely had the most carbonation. It had a slightly sweet aftertaste and was very fizzy on the tongue. I give it a solid 3 out of 5 mugs on the Austin Brew Scale.

Next up was the second lightest beer, the Agave Wit, which is a “Belgian-style wheat beer brewed with orange peel and coriander.”

It was served with an orange slice, but we decided to try it sans-orange on the first go around. This beer had a somewhat organic and slightly “chalky” aftertaste. It also had a definite citrus kick with an acidic bite to it, which was made even more prominent after adding the orange. I would give this one 3.5 mugs for its easy drinkability.

This was followed by the Hill Country Organic Amber, which was described as a “smooth amber ale made with organic barley-balanced maltiness with pleasant hop finish.” We instantly noticed the dramatic increase in bitterness with this one and its distinct barley flavor.

The body was thinner on this beer, and the aftertaste lingered longer than the previous two, with a slightly pungent aroma. It also produced a thicker and longer-lasting head. I give this one a rating of 2.5 mugs.

Next up was the Ax Handle Pale Ale which was “Generously hopped with simcoe hops during the boil and ‘dry hopped’ after fermentation.” This was hands down the best beer we tried; we had to buy a pint after the sample.

It had a slightly sweet and dry taste with a crisp, clean finish. There was also a slight hint grapefruit in the aftertaste. I give the Ax Handle a 4.5 out 5 mugs.

The Ax Handle was the last of the “Always on Tap” beers, so next we moved on to the “Rotating Tap”, which were both the darkest beers they were serving. First up was the Bitchin’ Camaro, the current selection for the Special Hop Tap, which was described as an “almost IPA”. This one had a slight tomato-ey flavor and was very bitter.

The aftertaste was slightly sour and metallic, similar to what you might taste in a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon or Miller High Life. I would only give this one 1.5 mugs.

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The "sampler six", from lightest to darkest.

Finally, we reached the Special Dark and Malty Tap. The current offering for this tap was the Coffee Stout. The first thing we noticed was the aroma of of chocolate-covered espresso beans that could be detected from the first sip.This brew offered a lighter body for a stout, with a real smokey, coffee flavor.

This beer was very good and went very well with a food pairing. I would give this a 4 out of 5 mugs.

Hopefully, in the future we will be able to sample all of the other offerings at Uncle Billy’s when they are in season. Until then, you should definitely check out what they have to offer while they’re on tap.

*photos by Preston Edmands

512 Brewery Tasting

Posted in Beer Tasting, Events with tags , , , , , on November 5, 2009 by Adam Aldrete

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend a beer tasting at 512 Brewing Company’s brewery. 512, a local microbrewery here in Austin, was very welcoming. And unlike a bar or restaurant, attendees at a tasting like this get the full beer experience. There is something to be said about drinking a beer, knowing it was made less than 50 feet away from the keg its was served from.

512 Brewery

I was surpirsed at the exterior, but the brew was top notch

Having only gone to a few small microbreweries with adjoining  was surprised to see that it was just a series of buildings that look like warehouses. However, I quickly realized to never judge a book by its cover. 512 provided guests with 3 tickets, each redeemable for a 4 oz sample of the many beers they offered. Guests also had the option of purchasing a 512 pint glass for $5 and having it filled three times. I couldn’t pass up the three pints for five dollars offer, so I went ahead and bought a glass.

512 Pouring real

It was hard to pick just three!

I won’t do an extensive beer review on the beers I tried (One, Bruin, and Pecan), but I will say that the Pecan Porter was my favorite brew of the day. Beer advocate also thinks pretty highly of this brew. Several of the folks I spoke with seemed to agree, one commenting that the pecan flavor is very pronounced and unique.

512 Cupcake

The beer was good, but this cupcake really hit the spot!

In addition to being an opputunity to try new beers and revisit old favorites, tastings at 512 are a very social experience. People bring chairs and sit around talking about all sorts of things. Although I ventured to the brewery alone, I was able to make friends and connect with fellow beer lovers in Austin. John Paul, found here on Twitter, introduced me to a couple of other folks working at the brewery. The first, an employee at the brewery, had made some delicious cupcakes (which she shared with me) using a variety of alcoholic drinks including Bailey’s Irish Cream and 512 Pecan Porter.