July 30, 2013

IPA Day, August 1st, 2013

Thursday August 1st is IPA Day so get ready.  

Here are a few suggestions from craftbeer.com on how to participate in IPA Day:
On August 1, share your photos, videos, blog posts, tasting notes, recipes and thoughts on IPA with the world. Be sure to tag your posts on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and other social media platforms with the #IPAday hashtag. Please note that this year we are using a lower case “d” in the hashtag to reduce confusion.
See what other people are saying on Twitter by searching #IPAday. Follow the conversation closely by adding an #IPAday search column on your Tweetdeck.
Become a craft beer steward in your community. Encourage non-craft beer drinkers to take a break from their normal beverage routine and join the collective toast on IPA Day. Set the goal of converting at least one person, if not the whole world of drinkers, to IPA lovers!
What are you planning to drink on IPA Day?
A few brews to consider on your hoppy day:
Brü Revü Belgian IPAs

July 25, 2013

The Brü Revü – New Belgium Rampant Imperial IPA

Rampant is New Belgium’s take on the ever popular Imperial IPA.  I had high hopes for this beer after having their impressive Super IPA collaboration with Alpine.  While Rampant didn’t completely blow my doors off, I thought it was a very impressive and solid Double IPA.  I did detect some similarities to the Super IPA, but not quite as bold and well-rounded.  The light copper color immediately gave off a wonderful aroma of sweet tropical fruits with only slight hints of citrus.  This was really a great smelling IPA.  The flavor doesn’t overwhelm you with a face melting hop overload but rather an enjoyable tropical fruit and slight dank bitterness with a peak of resinous pine on it’s dry finish. A good dose of sweet malt held all the flavors together into what I thought was a very tasty and dangerously drinkable brew.  Rampant is definitely a slightly different take on your typical Imperial IPA, with more ripe fruit flavors and dank hops than pine or citrus, but another well done beer from New Belgium.

New Belgium Rampant Imperial IPA

July 23, 2013

The Brü Revü – New Belgium Lips of Faith Imperial Coffee Chocolate Stout

I love a good coffee stout.  Add some chocolate and you will suck me right in.  This is how I found myself with New Belgium’s Lips of Faith Imperial Coffee Chocolate Stout.  Why I neglected this decadent delight for 7 months I have no idea but enjoy I did.  This sucker poured a pitch black with a decent tan head that immediately exuded coffee, chocolate and roasted malt aromas.  The taste was very rich and deep with dark chocolate and a roasted malt that had a slight hint of bitterness on the tail.  The coffee flavors may have faded a bit over the months, but they were still present with a good dark roast kick that really balanced this deep dark and rich brew.  The coffee aromas and flavors asserted themselves as it warmed and made for a complete coffee confection.  Is this for breakfast or dessert?  It’s hard to tell, either way you will be happy.

New Belgium Lips of Faith Imperial Coffee Chocolate Stout

July 18, 2013

The Brü Revü – Real Ale Hans’ Pils

The Real Ale Hans’ Pils was one of two beach beers I brought with me on a recent vacation to Galveston.  I bought it for two reasons: First, I haven’t had it and heard its an amazing pilsner. Second, it’s in a can which makes beach drinking much easier.  Real Ale is one of the larger and older craft breweries in Texas and has been consistently churning out great to exceptional brews, and the Hans’ Pils is no exception.  It poured a clear gold with a substantial white head and with an aroma of spicy hops.  The taste was light, crisp and refreshing with a smooth body and surprisingly full mouthfeel for a lighter brew.  The Hans’ Pils was a full flavored pilsner with just the right amount of hops to give it a good bitterness without going over the top.  Real Ale really dialed this one in and created an excellent Pilsner and great beach beer.

Real Ale Hans’ Pils

July 15, 2013

Beer Bums Meeting – July 2013 – Hops & Grain

On our extended quest to visit all the local breweries we opted to hit Hops & Grain for our July meeting.  Hops & Grain have had their Alt-eration Ale and their Pale Dog Ale available around Austin on draft and in cans for a while now.  They recently introduced The One They Call Zoe in cans and it has quickly become a favorite around Austin as its a thirst quenching and refreshing beer and just plain kicks ass. 

Taking their core beers alone, Hops & Grain is one of the top breweries in Austin but where they really shine is in their Greenhouse Beers.  The Greenhouse beers are where they experiment one small batch at a time and includes Volumes of Oak and the Del Roble series beers that are fermented and aged in Oak barrels with some of those inoculated with wild yeast or bacteria cocktails (brettanomyces, lactobacillus, etc) called Volumes of Funk.  A few bars in town will have a Greenhouse beer on tap from time to time, but the best place to try several of these experiments is at their Tap Room.  

A brief aside about the Tap Room:  With the passing of the recent beer bills you can now purchase beer for on site consumption at a Texas brewery and Hops & Grain has taken advantage with extended tap room hours and the ability to purchase a $2 5 oz pour or $4 12 oz pour.  They are also in the process of converting to a Brewpub license so they will have the ability to sell you beer to go.  I opted for 5 oz pours as I wanted to sample several of the Greenhouse beers and still be able to function.

French Oak Aged Pale Dog - Just what it says, the Pale Dog Pale Ale aged in French Oak Barrels.  In the end I this was my favorite of the day.  Just enough barrel qualities added to the Pale Dog to mellow it out and not overwhelm the beer.  Fantastic.

Red Rye - A nicely hopped red ale that was a deep cloudy red-amber color. A good dose of hops like I like it and one of the better red ales I have had.  I would buy this one on a regular basis.

100% Munich vs 100% Vienna - The same base beer with two different malt varieties.  Most breweries try to highlight the hops, but this was a great comparison of malt qualities.  They both poured a light straw color with the Munich being slightly darker. I preferred the Munich, but they were both outstanding.

In A Land Far Farnesene - The last one for me and it was a great ending.  A clear golden brew that smelled like an amped up pilsner with a fuller malt profile.  Light on the palate but a good medium body which may sound conflicting but it makes sense when you try it.  Very good.

I also got a small taste of the Barleywine and it instantly jumped out at me.  It seemed very big and bold, but that was only from a very small taste.  

I have to add that their bartenders were outstanding.  They were friendly and very knowledgeable about the Hops and Grain beers and beer in general without putting on an air of beer snobbery.  They were also extremely passionate about their brews which was infectious.

Finally Hops & Grain practices sustainable brewing which they are as passionate about as their beer.  In addition to their sustainable brewing practices they are a member of 1% for the planet, make Brew Biscuits from their spent grain (which my dogs love BTW) and opted for aluminum cans as they are easily recyclable.  I highly recommend a visit to Hops & Grain.  Their beers are fantastic and they are absolutely killing it with their Greenhouse experiments.  Any craft beer lover will not be disappointed.  

July 10, 2013

The Brü Revü – Avery India Pale Ale

The Avery India Pale Ale was one of two beach beers I brought with me on a recent vacation to Galveston.  This was in a can which helps on the beach and was another IPA I have been wanting to try for a while.  The other beach beer was the Real Ale Hans’ Pils so I figured I needed one with more hop bite to keep me alert.  The Avery IPA poured a golden amber with tropical fruit and slight citrus hops on the nose.  There were floral and tropical fruit hops on the initial sip that faded to piney  and resinous hop flavors on the back end that coated my palate with a good hop bitterness.  The brew was very bright and clean with the fresh hop notes jumping off my tongue. The Avery IPA was a very well done classic IPA that was a refreshing treat on a hot day at the beach.

Avery India Pale Ale

July 8, 2013

The Brü Revü – Stone Ruin Ten IPA

Stone’s Ruin Ten IPA is the re-release of their 10th Anniversary Ruination.  I missed out on that limited release so I am happy they brought it back with a much wider distribution to boot.  I don’t hide my Stone leanings so this beer along with their excellent EnjoyBy releases have come to define Stone’s prowess in IPAs. The Ruin Ten takes an already exceptional Ruination and cranks up every aspect to full hop overload.  There is nothing timid or meek about what this brew seeks: total palate domination.  Ruin Ten poured a deep orange amber with plenty of off white head and hop aromas exploded out of the bottle.  The taste grabbed my taste-buds with a full frontal assault of hops and took me for a ride through all the hop hues.  There was pine followed by bitter grapefruit and citrus with floral and tropical fruit notes underneath that all end in a fresh resinous bite.  The hops ride a subtle caramel tone that enhances the fruity undertones as it warms.  This is a truly exceptional beer and a welcome addition to Stone’s yearly rotation. My taste-buds have been officially ruined. 

Stone Ruin Ten IPA

July 3, 2013

Changes in Texas Beer Laws

With the recent signing into Law of the craft beer bills (HB 515-518) in Texas, there will be some big changes in how our local breweries and brewpubs are allowed to operate.  There have been several blog posts that expand on these better than I (and are listed below), but I will do my best to highlight the changes that affect the casual craft beer drinker.

First, Breweries will now be able to sell their beer at the brewery for on-site consumption (up to 5,000 barrels a year).  Instead of having to sell you a glass and giving you free samples of their brews, they will now be able to sell you an actual beer.  Imagine that!  BUT, you have to drink it at the brewery as it is for “on-site consumption” only.  Brewpubs have had the right to sell their beer for off-site consumption, but few have done so in large amount or with any regularity due to previous barrel limits, etc.

Second, the annual production limit for a Brewpub has been raised to 10,000 barrels. As an example, most craft breweries in Texas are under that 10,000 barrel limit, with the exception of Shiner, Saint Arnold, Real Ale, & Rahr and Sons.  Also Brewpubs were given a limited self-distribution permit, but allowed to sell all of their 10,000 barrels through a distributor.  There are several advantages to being a brewpub in Texas most importantly the ability to sell your beer for both on-site and off-site consumption.  Some disadvantages are if the brewery is growing fast they may soon exceed the 10,000 barrel limit and thus no longer be considered a brewpub under Texas law as well as some breweries never intend nor want to run a brewpub as its an added management and staffing issue.
A few local Austin breweries have already begun to embrace the new laws by changing their taprooms/tours.  Instead of selling you a glass they are selling you beer, which I think is great.  Although paying $10 for a glass and getting three beers was always a great deal, now the breweries will make money on their actual product: BEER.  In addition Hops and Grain as well as Jester King have filed to change their license to a Brewpub which would allow them to sell you beer to go. Jester King is already planning exclusive bottle releases of their Viking Metal and Atrial Rubicite in anticipation of the change.

Many are not completely happy with the group of bills as they make it illegal for breweries to sell their distribution rights and still do not allow breweries to sell beer for off-site consumption, I try to focus on the positive.  While still not on even footing with Texas Wineries, it’s a step in the right direction for Texas breweries and hopefully a sign of bigger and better changes to come.

Better and more informative blog posts:
Jester King http://www.hopsandgrain.com/2013/06/new-taproom-hours-beer-for-sale-at-brewery/

July 1, 2013

Pint Glass Nights - July 2013

Misc. pint glass nights around Austin for July.  Buy the beer, keep the glass.
Gingerman – Mondays, at 6 PM
July 01   Saint Arnold Summer Pils
July 08 Duvel Art Glass
July 15   Blanche de Bruxelles (Special Glass)
July 22 Ommegang BPA
July 29 Hoegaarden

Zax Pints and Plates – Wednesdays, at 6 PM
July 03   Breckenridge Agave Wheat
July 10 Zax 10 Year Anniversary Party
July 17   Sierra Nevada Summerfest
July 24 Harp
July 31 Firestone Walker Brewing
Flying Saucer  - Wednesdays, at 7 PM
July 03   Blanche de Bruxelles
July 10 Chimay
July 17   Duvel Art Glass
July 24 Gouden Carolus
July 31 Rahr & Sons
Draught House – Wednesdays
Check their twitter page for glass updates
Red's Porch – Thursdays, at 5 PM, Check their events page for glass updates
July 11   Ballast Point
July 25   Saint Arnold Icon Green