Friday, February 29, 2008

Saint Arnold Fancy Lawnmower Review

Brewery: Saint Arnold Brewing Co. | Beer: Fancy Lawnmower
Style: Kölsch | ABV: 4.9%
Serving Method: 12 oz. bottle poured into pint glass

Saint Arnold Fancy LawnmowerThis is the second Saint Arnold offering in a series featuring my local microbrewery. Buying local beer both greatly reduces the carbon footprint of your pint and puts your dollar in the pocket of a local company. For the next beer I decided to jump to the opposite end of the spectrum. The Lovibond spectrum that is, har har.

Launched in 2000, Fancy Lawnmower quickly became one of Saint Arnold's signature beers. The beer is an award-winning Kölsch, having racked up one gold and two bronze medals in the Great American Beer Festival. The ingredient list reads pale malted barley, pale wheat, German Hallertauer hops and a type of top fermenting ale yeast that happens to ferment at lager temperatures. I have to admit, even though this beer is a Houston icon, I've never tried it. Let's see how it stands up.

Appearance
: Golden, cloudy and effervescent with a thin head that dissipates quickly

Aroma: Floral and bitter, almost reminds me of sparkling apple cider

Taste: Crisp and bitter with citrus hints

Mouthfeel: Not as fizzy as its appearance led me to believe, cuts nicely

Drinkability: Somewhat bitter, but would be perfect for a hot Texas afternoon

Verdict: While Kölsch is not one of the styles of beer I usually reach for, this is certainly a beer I can enjoy. If I was outside in the heat at a ballgame, this would be an almost perfect choice.

Grade: B-

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Saint Arnold Winter Stout Review

Brewery: Saint Arnold Brewing Co. | Beer: Winter Stout
Style: American Stout | ABV: 5.6%
Serving Method: 12 oz. bottle poured into pint glass

Saint Arnold Winter StoutReading Fermenting Revolution by Christopher O'Brien (book review to follow) really drove home how beneficial to the environment drinking local beer can be. With this in mind I decided to review some beers from my local Houston area.

Unfortunately, there aren't the number of craft-brewed offerings flowing from the Bayou City one would hope for. But fear not fellow Houstonians, I've sourced some great beers from a magnificent craft-brewer located right here in Houston, Saint Arnold Brewing Company.

Founded in 1994, Saint Arnold is the oldest microbrewery in the city. In neat a coincidence with my decision to pick this brewer, the company is run with sustainability in mind and
even has a six-pack holder recycling program. Their lineup is made up of five regulars and five seasonal brews. The beer I've chosen to showcase here is one of those seasonal specials, their Winter Stout.

Launched in 1997, Winter Stout is the second winter seasonal from Saint Arnold, accompanying their Christmas Ale.
The beer has been quite popular amongst SA customers and has even won a silver medal for sweet stout in the 2000 Great American Beer Festival. Using a blend of four kinds of malted barley and two varieties of hop, this beer should have some serious complexity and body.

Appearance
: Pours a very dark red-brown (almost black) body with a healthy butterscotch head that settles into a small and almost Guinness-like cream

Aroma: Sweet and malty, almost reminds me of soured Guinness (and not in a bad way)

Taste: Absolutely bursting with flavor! Rich roasted malt body with definite dark chocolate, coffee and caramel notes

Mouthfeel: Feels cold, coats well and is not too fizzy

Drinkability: Initially it seems quite rich, but after a few sips it's a very sessionable beer (providing you like stouts)

Verdict: This a truly a brilliant example of an American Stout with the added bonus of being local. I really wish Saint Arnold would brew this year-round, but they say the demand is not there. What a shame. Looks like I'm going to have to find a case to stash for the summer.

Grade: A

Monday, February 25, 2008

Producers of Samuel Adams to Share Hops With Craft-Brewers in Need

Over the past few months, the ongoing worldwide hop shortage has affected all brewers, with craft-brewers feeling more of a crunch than the macros. To help ease the pain of its peers in the craft-brew world, Boston Beer Company (makers of Samuel Adams beers) has started a hop sharing program.

Up for grabs are 20,000 pounds of premium hops, half East Kent Goldings grown by Tony Redsell and half German Noble Tettnang Tettnangers from various German growers. This is no quick grab for easy cash from the hard-up brewers without good reserves, BBC will be selling these items at their cost. That's right, they are passing these hops on to those brewers that truly need them just because it's the right thing to do.

I think this program illustrates some of the underlying principles of the craft-brew mindset: brotherhood, sharing for the greater-good and the golden rule. BBC is probably the largest craft-brewer in America and they're showing they still care about great beer and those who brew it, not just their bottom line. Kudos.

Get more details from Boston Brewing Company's site

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout Review

Brewery: Lagunitas Brewing Co. | Beer: Cappuccino Stout
Style: American Stout | ABV: 8.0%
Serving Method: 1 Pint, 6 oz. bottle poured into pint glass

Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout
I picked this bottle up a while ago and it has been languishing in my beer fridge ever since (as you can tell by the discoloration on the label). Coffee, stouts and dogs all rate quite high on my "favorite things" list, so I'm hoping this beer lives up to my expectations.

Appearance: Dark almost impenetrable red-black body with a tall, brown and fizzy head that settles quickly

Aroma: Nutty, hoppy, sweet, tones of roasted malt and a slight hint of coffee at the end

Taste: Surprisingly bitter with roasted malt and hints of coffee, you can certainly detect that 7.99% ABV lurking beneath

Mouthfeel: Velvety and smooth with mild carbonation

Drinkability: The pint goes down slowly and smoothly, but I might just leave it at one (especially with the alcohol content)

Verdict: I didn't pick up the coffee I was hoping to, but this is a fine bitter stout. A good beer to throw into the rotation every now and then, but not something I'd buy regularly.

Grade: C+

Friday, February 15, 2008

Young's Double Chocolate Stout Review

Brewery: Young & Co's Brewery PLC | Beer: Young's Double Chocolate Stout
Style: Milk/Sweet Stout | ABV: 5.2%
Serving Method: 1 Pint, 0.9 oz. bottle poured into pint glass

Young's Double Chocolate StoutMy dad has always been a fan of Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, so I’ve been familiar with it for quite a while now. Back when I was in college, I bought a four pack of this beer and promptly drank the first three, keeping the fourth because I'm a notorious beer hoarder (just ask my fiancee) While in my fridge, the can caused quite a stir at parties. I'd say a third of the people found the concept of “chocolate beer” disgusting, but the rest all found it intriguing. I can see why, chocolate and beer are two of the greatest things in this world, so think how great they could be combined!

For Valentine’s Day, my fiancee bought me a few pints of this, some new pint glasses and the tripod used in the picture above. Thanks Jamie!

Appearance: Impenetrable black body with thick, caramel brown head that lingers

Aroma: Has the creamy, sweet and malty aroma common to stouts with toffee and chocolate tones

Taste: Roasted malty body with coffee, toffee and (of course) chocolate, somewhat bitter hoppy aftertaste

Mouthfeel: Thick, smooth and creamy with a rich finish

Drinkability: If you like stouts, you can easily drink this for a session, even if it is slightly heavy

Verdict: A brilliant and interesting and a great alternative to my usual stout. Out of the bottle it's not as creamy as the nitro-can version, but still great. Take a trip away from the normal, you'll find it's well worth it.

Grade: A

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Firestone Walker Releases Union Jack IPA

Friday, Firestone Walker announced their first India Pale Ale, Union Jack IPA. The beer is available on tap and in bottles in California and Nevada now and clocks in at 7.5% ABV, 72 IBUs and 10 Lovibond units. The brewery describes Union Jack as "citrus, pineapple, and a full chewy malt profile finish clean on your palate."

The India Pale Ale style originated during the 1700s when British brewers learned that adding large amounts of hops helped protect beer on its long journey to far away colonies. Union Jack has been double dry hopped and fermented in the brewery's oak barrel brewing system, imparting a unique character and body.

Visit Firestone Walker

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Newcastle Brown Ale Review

Brewery: Newcastle Breweries Ltd. | Beer: Newcastle Brown Ale
Style: English Brown Ale | ABV: 4.7%
Serving Method: 12oz. bottle poured into pint glass

Newcastle Brown AleOne of the world's classic beers and the standard Brown Ale, Newcastle has been brewed in England since 1927. Known in it's home town as "Dog" (as in "I have to see a man about a dog"), this beer is an absolute icon and I've been a huge fan since I started drinking beer.

Appearance: Medium to dark brown, clear with an almost non-existent fizzy head (tips for pouring a proper head with this beer, anyone?)

Aroma: Nutty and malty with a definite sweet hint

Taste: Deep body, medium malt character with no bitterness

Mouthfeel: Fizzy and crisp, nice aftertaste

Drinkability: Easy to drink and a perfect match with the traditional beer pairing: pizza

Verdict: Certainly no where near as good as from a tap, but still a great session beer from the bottle. If you're looking for something a little darker, this is a beer with a real bite you can drink all night long. Good dog.

Grade: A-

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Independence Austin Amber Ale Review

Brewery: Independence Brewing Co. | Beer: Austin Amber Ale
Style: American Amber Ale | ABV: 4.9% | IBUs: 14
Serving Method: 12oz. bottle poured into pint glass

Austin Amber AleThis is Independence Brewing Co.'s flagship beer: an Amber Ale that draws heavily on the company's Austin appeal. The label design is brilliant, basing itself on the city's famous Greetings From Austin mural on South First Street. I've seen Independence's offerings increasingly in my local shops over the last year and I could resist this beer (or is it the label?) no longer.

Or maybe I nicked a six-pack from the one of the brewery's high-ups at my dad's 50th birthday party a few months ago and I'm just getting around to trying it out—it's a mystery. I love both Amber Ales and Austin, so expectations are somewhat high for this beer.

Appearance: Huge foamy head on top of a thick golden-brown body.

Aroma: Citrusy and malty with hints of light hops.

Taste: Very much an Amber Ale with a malty taste with subtle hop undertone.

Mouthfeel: Moderately fizzy and sharp with a clean finish.

Drinkability: Very easy to drink, I can see drinking this beer outside throughout a long summer's day.

Verdict: Not a bad attempt—it's surely no Fat Tire, but a very tasty and drinkable Amber Ale none-the-less. I'm delighted that both this company and this beer hold up to the lofty expectations its brilliant design ignited in me.

Grade: B+

Brewery Index

Abita Brewing Company
Abita Strawberry Harvest Lager B-

Anchor Brewing Company
Anchor Christmas Ale 2008 B
Anchor Steam A

Anheuser-Busch, Incorporated
Bud Light D
Bud Light Golden Wheat D
Budweiser American Ale D

Avery Brewing Company
Avery Ale To The Chief A-

Bass Brewers Limited
Bass Pale Ale B

Boddingtons
Boddingtons Pub Ale B+

Boston Brewing Company
Samuel Adams Double Bock (Imperial Series) A
Samuel Adams Hallertau Imperial Pilsner A
Samuel Adams LongShot Double IPA A
Samuel Adams Longshot Grape Pale Ale B
Samuel Adams Longshot Weizenbock A
Samuel Adams Old Fezziwig Ale C+
Samuel Adams Winter Lager (AKA Winter Brew) B+

Breckenridge Brewery
Breckenridge Avalanche Ale D

Brooklyn Brewing
Brooklyn East India Pale Ale C
Brooklyn Summer Ale B

Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat NV
Duvel A+

Buffalo Bill's Brewery
Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale D

Coors Brewing Company
Coors Light D

Dogfish Head Brewery
Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA A
Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA A-
Dogfish Head Fort B+
Dogfish Head Midas Touch A
Dogfish Head Punkin Ale A
Dogfish Head Raison D'Etre A-

Flying Dog Brewery
Flying Dog Doggie Style Classic Pale Ale A-
Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA B
Flying Dog Dogtoberfest C

Fuller, Smith & Turner PLC
Fuller's London Porter A-

Greene King/Morland Brewery
Old Speckled Hen (Nitro-Can) B-

Guinness Limited
Guinness 250 Anniversary Stout B-
Guinness Draught (Nitro-Can) B

Harpoon Brewery
Harpoon Summer Beer B

Homebrew
Homebrewed Young At Heart Stout F

Independence Brewing Company
Independence Austin Amber Ale B+

Lagunitas Brewing Company
Lagunitas Brown Shugga' B
Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout C+
Lagunitas Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale B+

Miller Brewing Company
Miller Lite F

Mississippi Brewing Company
Mississippi Mud Black & Tan D

New Belgium Brewing
New Belgium 1554 B+
New Belgium Fat Tire A-
New Belgium Frambozen A-
New Belgium Hoptober Golden Ale A-
New Belgium Mothership Wit B

Newcastle Breweries
Newcastle Brown Ale A-

Oskar Blues Brewery
Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale A-
Oskar Blues Gordon A-
Oskar Blues Mama's Little Yella Pils A
Oskar Blues Old Chub >A
Oskar Blues Ten Fidy A+

Pabst Brewing Company
Lone Star Light D-

Rahr & Sons Brewing Company
Rahr Blonde Lager B

Redhook Ale Brewery
Redhook ESB B

Rogue Ales Brewery
Rogue Somer Orange Honey Ale B

Saint Arnold Brewing Company
Saint Arnold Amber Ale A-
Saint Arnold Brown Ale B
Saint Arnold Christmas Ale B+
Saint Arnold Divine Reserve 8 A-
Saint Arnold Elissa IPA A-
Saint Arnold Fancy Lawnmower B-
Saint Arnold Oktoberfest B+
Saint Arnold Spring Bock A-
Saint Arnold Summer Pils A-
Saint Arnold Texas Wheat B+
Saint Arnold Winter Stout A

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale 2008 B
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale 2009 A
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale 2008 A+
Sierra Nevada ESB 2009 B+
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale A
Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA A-
Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale 2009 A
Sierra Nevada Stout A-
Sierra Nevada Summerfest Lager A-
Sierra Nevada Wheat Beer B+

Southern Star Brewing Company
Southern Star Bombshell Blonde Ale A-
Southern Star Pine Belt Pale Ale A

Spoetzl Brewery
Shiner 100 Commemorator B-
Shiner Bock B-
Shiner Bohemian Black Lager C+
Shiner Hefeweizen A
Shiner Holiday Cheer B-
Shiner Smokehaus B-

Stone Brewing Company
Stone 13th Anniversary Ale A
Stone Ruination IPA A+

Victory Brewing Company
Victory Hop Wallop A+
Victory HopDevil Ale A
Victory Prima Pils A-
Victory Storm King Imperial Stout A

Widmer Brothers Brewing Company
Widmer Brothers 84/09 Double Alt B+
Widmer Brothers W'09 Belgian Style Ale B+

Young & Co's Brewery PLC
Young's Double Chocolate Stout A
Young's Double Chocolate Stout (Nitro-Can) A-

Style Index

Altbier
Widmer Brothers 84/09 Double Alt B+


American Adjunct Light Lager
Bud Light D
Coors Light D
Lone Star Light D-
Miller Lite F

American Amber Ale
Budweiser American Ale
D
Independence Austin Amber Ale B+
Breckenridge Avalanche Ale D
New Belgium Fat Tire
A-
Saint Arnold Amber Ale A-

American Barleywine
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale 2009 A

American Blonde Ale

New Belgium Hoptober Golden Ale
 A-
Southern Star Bombshell Blonde Ale A-

American Imperial Pilsner
Samuel Adams Hallertau Imperial Pilsner A

American Double India Pale Ale
Avery Ale To The Chief A-
Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA A-
Oskar Blues Gordon A-
Samuel Adams LongShot Double IPA A
Stone Ruination IPA A+
Victory Hop Wallop A+

American India Pale Ale
Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA A
Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA B
Saint Arnold Elissa IPA A-
Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale 2008 B
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale 2008 A+
Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale 2009 A
Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA A-
Victory HopDevil Ale A

American Pale Ale
Flying Dog Doggie Style Classic Pale Ale
A-
Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale A-
Samuel Adams Longshot Grape Pale Ale B
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale A
Southern Star Pine Belt Pale Ale A

American Pale Wheat Ale
Rogue Somer Orange Honey Ale B
Sierra Nevada Wheat Beer B+


American Stout
Homebrewed Young At Heart Stout F
Saint Arnold Winter Stout A
Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout
C+
Sierra Nevada Stout A-

American Strong Ale
Lagunitas Brown Shugga' B
Lagunitas Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale B+
Stone 13th Anniversary Ale A

Beer Cocktail
Chocolate Truffle (Beer Cocktail) C+
Classic Black & Tan (Beer Cocktail) A-

Belgian Dark Ale

New Belgium 1554 B+

Belgian Golden Strong Ale
Duvel A+


Belgian Pale Ale

Widmer Brothers W'09 Belgian Style Ale B+

English India Pale Ale

Brooklyn East India Pale Ale C

English Pale Ale
Bass Pale Ale B

German Pilsener


Kristalweizen

Munich Helles Lager

Grade Index

A+
Duvel A+
Oskar Blues Ten Fidy
A+
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale 2008 A+
Stone Ruination IPA A+
Victory Hop Wallop A+

A
Anchor Steam A
Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA A
Dogfish Head Midas Touch A
Dogfish Head Punkin Ale A
Oskar Blues Mama's Little Yella Pils A
Oskar Blues Old Chub A
Saint Arnold Winter Stout A
Samuel Adams Double Bock (Imperial Series Version) A
Samuel Adams Hallertau Imperial Pilsner A
Samuel Adams LongShot Double IPA A
Samuel Adams LongShot Weizenbock
A
Shiner Hefeweizen A
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale 2009 A
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale A
Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale 2009 A
Stone 13th Anniversary Ale A
Southern Star Pine Belt Pale Ale A
Victory HopDevil Ale A
Victory Storm King Imperial Stout A
Young's Double Chocolate Stout A

A-
Avery Ale To The Chief A-
Classic Black & Tan (Beer Cocktail) A-
Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA A-
Dogfish Head Raison D'Etre A-
Flying Dog Doggie Style Classic Pale Ale A-
Fuller's London Porter A-
New Belgium Fat Tire A-
New Belgium Frambozen A-
New Belgium Hoptober Golden Ale A-
Newcastle Brown Ale A-
Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale A-
Oskar Blues Gordon A-
Saint Arnold Amber Ale
A-
Saint Arnold Divine Reserve 8 A-
Saint Arnold Elissa IPA A-
Saint Arnold Spring Bock A-
Saint Arnold Summer Pils A-
Sierra Nevada Stout A-
Sierra Nevada Summerfest Lager A-
Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA A-
Southern Star Bombshell Blonde Ale A-
Victory Prima Pils A-
Young's Double Chocolate Stout (Nitro-Can) A-

B+

Boddingtons Pub Ale B+
Dogfish Head Fort B+
Independence Austin Amber Ale B+
Lagunitas Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale B+
New Belgium 1554 B+

Saint Arnold Christmas Ale B+
Saint Arnold Oktoberfest B+
Saint Arnold Texas Wheat B+
Samuel Adams Winter Lager (AKA Winter Brew) B+
Sierra Nevada ESB 2009 B+
Sierra Nevada Wheat Beer B+
Widmer Brothers 84/09 Double Alt B+
Widmer Brothers W'09 Belgian Style Ale B+

B

Anchor Christmas Ale 2008 B
Bass Pale Ale BBrooklyn Summer Ale B
Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA B
Harpoon Summer Beer B
Guinness Draught (Nitro-Can) B
Lagunitas Brown Shugga' B
New Belgium Mothership Wit B
Rahr Blonde Lager B
Redhook ESB B
Rogue Somer Orange Honey Ale B
Saint Arnold Brown Ale B
Samuel Adams Longshot Grape Pale Ale B
Shiner Smokehaus B
Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale 2008 B

B-

Abita Strawberry Harvest Lager B-
Guinness 250 Anniversary Stout B-
Old Speckled Hen (Nitro-Can) B-
Saint Arnold Fancy Lawnmower B-
Shiner 100 Commemorator B-
Shiner Bock B-
Shiner Holiday Cheer B-

C+

Chocolate Truffle (Beer Cocktail) C+
Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout C+
Samuel Adams Old Fezziwig Ale C+
Shiner Bohemian Black Lager C+

C
Brooklyn East India Pale Ale C
Flying Dog Dogtoberfest C

C-
None Yet

D+
None Yet

D

Breckenridge Avalanche Ale D
Bud Light D
Bud Light Golden Wheat D
Budweiser American Ale D
Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale D
Coors Light D
Mississippi Mud Black & Tan D

D-
Lone Star Light D-

F
Homebrewed Young At Heart Stout F
Miller Lite F

Genesis and Blueprint

It is my opinion that too much can never be written about beer. So, with that in mind, I have set out on this quest to document my journey through the beer world. This blog will serve as a place for me to post reviews of all the beers I try along with any other thoughts I have relating to the world of beer.

The review format will be simple and consistent: an image depicting the beer and its bottle, some basic data about the beer, a blurb about the brewery and beer, comments on the beer's appearance, aroma, taste, mouthfeel and drinkability, and after all of that an overall grade and review. If this sounds familiar, it should. Almost every other website containing beer reviews uses the same elements. And for good reason, they're the best elements to review a beer with.

It's worth noting that I am far from an expert. Sure, I've tried a lot of different beers, I've read a lot of beer books, I light my house with beer neons and I've even bought some brewing equipment. But, when it comes to high-end beer analysis, I'm the first to point out I don't really know what I'm talking about. Yet.

Anyway, enough of all that, on with the beer!