Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Saint Arnold: Winter Stout

Hubs came home from work tonight excited to show me a treat he found at the store: Saint Arnold Winter Stout. "I didn't even know they were making this!" He poured it and I kept hearing him say, "Oh yeah, look at this." I must admit, it is a thing of beauty. I don't generally like stouts, but things change, right? I decided to try a few sips.

This opaque, espresso colored beer has a toffee-colored head that leaves no lacing behind. The aroma floats coffee, burnt sugar and smoke under your nose (Hubs described it as charred, "like charcoal", and I kind of agree, though I smelled more wood smoke).

I always think a beer that looks like that will have a creamy mouth-feel, but it is light and smooth on the tongue. Something about the taste reminds me of the taste in my mouth after smoking a pipe, though I wouldn't compare the flavor to tobacco. There are definite notes of earthiness as well.

I don't love the stout palette, so I don't imagine this is one I will drink often; I'd want a few sips, max. I do feel confident recommending it to those who appreciate a rich stout.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Karbach Weisse Versa

At a recent visit to Flying Saucer I had the opportunity to sample Karbach Weisse Versa, "a cross between a Belgian-Style Wit and a German Hefeweizen". I enjoy wheat beers, and I respect complex beers, so I was looking forward to it. As I didn't care for Karbach's Sympathy for the Lager, I was really hoping to enjoy this next brew.

I definitely enjoyed it more, though I wouldn't say I loved it. The color, like most wheat beers, had a slight orange tint. The nose was a little sharper than I expected, though it didn't put me off. I smelled a little bit of citrus. The palate was like most wheat beers, though not as mellow as some. The blending of the Belgian style and the German style definitely kept this beer from being predictable or typical, which was fun.

I expect I will try this again (after Hunter comes along). I look forward to trying more from Karbach, especially the very popular "Yule Shoot Your Eye Out" Christmas brew.

Karbach Sympathy for the Lager

Hubby and I like to head to our local pizzeria (Locatelli's) on Sunday nights for amazing pizza and wonderful beer selections. It is a small beer menu but full of craft beers, especially locals. On our most recent visit we discovered a few beers from Karbach, Houston's newest craft brewery. We adore Saint Arnold, so we were thrilled to find a new local brew.

I ordered a sample of the Sympathy for the Lager. As I remember, the nose was very sharp with a hoppy aroma, which didn't bode well for me. The palate was equally sharp, slicing across my tongue with a clean finish. I often enjoy lagers, but this one overshot for me personally. Karbach blended "pale malts with a generous amount of German noble hops", which gave the brew a punch that hit me a bit too hard.

I left feeling eager to try Karbach's other offerings, but not likely to repeat this brew.

Liefmans Oud Bruin (I think)

Yeah, I know, starting out the blog with a beer I'm only 90% sure on the name; not a great start. But hey, it was only a 1 oz sample and it was three days ago. After scouring the beer list at Flying Saucer Sugarland, I'm pretty sure this was the one I tried.

I mentioned to the bartender that I'd never had a sour beer, but that I couldn't imagine liking one; it didn't sound like me. I tend to like rich beer, tending towards ambers, browns and seasonals. He walked off and returned with a sample, saying, "I don't care for it, but you may as well try."

The color was a rich, transparent burgundy with a slight off-white head which fizzled away leaving minimal lace. The nose was like sour cherry candy; very sweet and made me crinkle my nose. Surprisingly I enjoyed the aroma. The palate had a very clear cherry note, tickling my tongue like a sparkling wine. The finish was sweet, though not cloying. It actually reminded me quite a bit of a lambic, which I rarely enjoy.

All things considered I enjoyed it, but I can't imagine wanting an entire pint of it. I am now officially curious about the world of sour beers, where before I had not desire to even try. Thank you, bartender Joe, for insisting I taste before I judge.

Starting Line

Welcome to my Beer Journal!

I'm married to an amazing man who is incredibly passionate about wine. He has tons of books, loves to study it, analyze it and, of course, drink it. It is an activity we really enjoy sharing. I've noticed, though, that I don't have that kind f passion for wine. I find it interesting and I enjoy drinking it, but I don't CARE the way he cares.

My passion is for beer.

I didn't start to enjoy beer until the summer I was 21. I know that doesn't sound late in the game, but to be honest, I'd been tasting drinks for a while at that point. Sorry Mom. I was living in Kilgore, Texas for the summer interning with the Texas Shakespeare Festival. Every Sunday night (because in the theatre, your day off is typically Monday) we'd celebrate Beereoke at the local bar on campus. Lots of beer and other libations, plus lots of delightful and embarrassing karaoke. Well one night I was drinking water and I emptied my mug, so someone (not paying attention) filled it with beer. I thought, "What the heck, I don't want it to go to waste", so I tasted it.

Oh, the joy of first love.

It was Amber Bock, a favorite among the New Yorkers in the crowd who couldn't find it up North. And it was glorious to behold! So cold it nearly hurt my throat, and so rich and brimming with flavors. I never looked back.

Ever since I've been broadening my palate and learning everything I could. I love reading about the history of beer, and of alcohol in general. I love reading how alcohol has shaped certain cultures, and vice versa. I'd love to study beer the same way hubby studies wine - with an end goal in mind - but I'm not sure what jobs I would be working towards. He can focus on earning his sommelier certification, and having extensive wine knowledge makes him an excellent candidate for many jobs in upscale bars and restaurants, specifically steakhouses. What jobs can I look forward to that require an extensive knowledge of beer history and intricacies? I'd love to work somewhere like the Flying Saucer, but it isn't exactly a career worth leaving a job in oil and gas, financially speaking.

The culture of beer drinkers is definitely expanding in America, and perhaps in five years time there will be jobs equal in status (and salary) to a sommelier, but it is difficult to predict. For now I will have to think of it only as a hobby and a passion, all the while hoping that one day we'll get to open our wine and beer bar we dream about.

This journal is meant to be a place where I can catalog my tasting notes and opinions, as well as reviews and local events. It is a bit unfortunate that I waited until I was six months pregnant to start this journal, but you kind of have to start things when you feel the nudge. For now, my notes and reviews will be based on previous experiences or small tastes I get from trying hubby's drinks or sampling at the Saucer. Once little Hunter comes out to play I will be able to hit the ground running a bit more... in theory. ;-)