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Archive for December, 2009

Raw tasting notes – Beer Camp!

Posted by beer_chris on 16-December-2009

Just wanting to get my raw notes into the blog from Beer Camp. The Barley Vine blog did a great job of writing this up, as did Ronnie Crocker over at Beer, TX – and I am in agreement with both of them.

Note, I didn’t start categorizing my notes into the normal BJCP style until a few beers in – hence the different approach:

Ommegang Hennepin

Saison. Kevin’s favorite, given high price of import saison. Very dry, a slightly wheatey finish. Some serious astringency at the front of the palate. I can see how this would be refreshing on a hot day, but I like my saison a bit grainer.

Lost Abbey Red Barn

Another Saison at 6.7%. Nice rich, full aroma of grains. Slightly off golden (a little orange) Get coriander in the nose and some citrus in the palate. Really liked this beer, one of my favorites of the tasting.

Lost Abbey Devotion

Belgian style golden ale. Aroma is funky and slightly cheesy. Flavor has an odd bitterness. Not a fan of this beer.

Southampton Grand Cru

Aroma: Molasses & brown sugar. Didn’t notice too much spice. A little bit of hop aroma perceptible.

Appearance: Orange tinted golden color. Low apparent carbonation.

Flavor/Mouthfeel: Big and sweet. Very little hop bitterness/flavor. Deep, sweet aftertaste. Candy sugar? Adjuncts? Syrupy in the mouth.

Overall: OK beer. Very intense.

Ommegang 3 Philosophers

Been a long time since I had this beer. A blend of cherry, Belgian blonde and belgian dark.

Aroma: A lot of raisin. Some hint of acetone (nail polish remover)

Appearance: Nutty orange. Low apparent carbonation.

Flavor/Mouthfeel: Some cherry, some raisin. All kinds of caramel flavors, lots of caramel malt/crystal malt sweetness.

Overall: Reasonable. A more flavorful Maredsous.

Ithaca Excelsior Brut

American sour ale finished with champagne yeast. Has corn in the mash (!)

Aroma: Leather, anise, sour aromas.

App: Cloudy, sandy/straw colored

Fl/MF: Apple flavors. Malt late in the palate, followed by a quick transition to sour and then dry.

Overall: Yum. Quite tasty, but lacks the complexity of a true lambic. Lotsa lactic acid! Champagne yeast really drys out the finish.

Weyerbacher Riserva

Raspberry sour beer

Aroma: Very fruity. Caramel aromas prevalent

Appearence: Cloudy brown. Low carbonation

Flavor/Mouthfeel: Amazingly barnyard-y. Nice complexity in malt profile. Hate the fruit.

Overall: Meh. A little thin. Makes me want a Flemish Red Ale.

Ommegang Rare VOS

Aroma: Cidery, some botanical aromas. A little sweet. Do I get cinnamon?

Appearance: Cloudy golden color.

Flavor/Mouthfeel: A little thin. Some nice earthy hop flavors.

Overall: Not bad. I might drink this again, but a little thin.

Stone 09.09.09

Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Aroma: Chocolate, berries, cloves and banana

Appearance: Mahogany

Flavor/Mouthfeel: Very dark and roasty flavors. Disparate hop bitterness – some at beginning, some at end, none in middle of flavor profile. Some chocolate. No banana or clove flavors.

Overall: Would love to have in 3 years time!

Three Floyds/DogfishHead Popskull

Aroma: Some florals, very mellow

Appearance: Deep brown. Low apparent carbonation.

Flavor/Mouthfeel: Tastes like Palo Santo Marron. Nice roasted malt flavors. Dangerous – easy drinking. Thinner than I would have thought

Overall: Yum, but wouldn’t pay a lot for it.

DogfishHead Burton Baton

Foamed at open. Blend of oak aged IPA and 90″ IPA

Aroma: Dry. Floral hop

Appearance: Rose/orange colors

Flavor: Nice and floral hop flavors. Don’t get much oakiness

Overall: One of the better beers DFH makes. I dig this – a lot.

Stone 13th Anniversary

Aroma: Hoppy, nice malt aroma

Appearance: Orange, low head

Flavor/Mouthfeel: Very hoppy. Nice balance. This would age well.

Overall: Really like it. Have had on draft before, would like to have some to hold on to.

AleSmith Old Numbskull (2004)

Aroma: Alcoholic and only slightly hoppy

Appearance: Cloudy orange. Nice head retention for such an aged beer. Major yeast in suspension!

Flavor: Hop balance weighted toward citrus and grapefruit flavors. Tastes very much like DR 1

Overall: Could age longer for sure. Yum! (Second favorite beer)

Mayflower Porter

Aroma: Roasted, sweet malt. Nice and chocolatey

Appearance: Dark, ruby, nice.

Flavor: I like Duckrabbit better. A little dry, but OK

Overall: I wouldn’t go to great lengths for this beer, but tasty. Is my favorite style after all.

Troeg’s Java Head

Aroma: No coffee aroma.

Appearance: Dark, dark, dark

Flavor: Tastes like a milk stout. Very roasty. Quite thin, getting very little coffee flavor.

Overall: Meh. Just OK.

Southern Tier Moka

Aroma: Caramel, Sugar, some…mint (!)

Appearance: Dark and a little thin. Very little head.

Flavor/Mouthfeel: Wow. Mint Chocolate chip ice cream comes to mind. Great balance … wow.

Overall: BEST BEER OF THE TASTING. CAN I GO TO THE BREWERY NOW PLEASE.

Southern Tier Iniquity

Aroma: A little nutmeg. Sweet. No hop aromas

Appearance: Deep nut brown. Decent head, carbonation normal for style

Flavor: I really dig this! Nice dark IPA. Good balance of roasted malt bitterness and simcoe (although this has debittered black malt, so I must be tasting some little bit of the black patent?)

Overall: Nice. An east coast dark IPA. Cool. @barleyvine will laugh at me for liking this beer 🙂

Smuttynose Imperial Stout

Aroma: Molasses. Malt syrup? Chocolate?

Appearance: Mahogany – deep dark color

Flavor/Mouthfeel: Nice hop bitterness, good balance of hopes in here. Moderate mouthefeel. Floral edge.

Overall: Tons of flavors. Love it.

Speedway Stout

Aroma: Roasty aromas. Some hop noticeable.

Appearance: Dark. Impenetrable.

Flavor/Mouthfeel: Amazingly bitter roast flavors. Decent hop balance. A little out of order.

Overall: OK, nothing to write home about.

Three Floyds Dark Lord (2008)

Aroma: Soy sauce, some hop aromas.

Appearance: Syrupy. Deep black, some brown on the margin of the head/beer interface

Flavor/Mouthfeel: Think, roasty and chocolaty. Lots of flavors – sweetness from caramel, sugar, malt and chocolate. Hop bitterness throughout. Nice explosion of all flavors on the back of the palate. A crazy good beer.

Overall: Very excited to taste this. Would like to try a vertical and see how this ages.

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Reconsidering the Flying Saucer

Posted by beer_chris on 16-December-2009

A few months ago I participated in a discussion attempting to name the most overrated places in Houston as a part of a rather infamous ‘Eating … Our Words’ post over at the Houston Press,

My comment included a statement about the Flying Saucer beer bar in downtown Houston – that it was easily the most overrated place to have a beer in town, and that I could think of 12 places I would rather have a pint than the Saucer. That led to this blog post.

Conincidentally, the very next  weekend I stopped by the Saucer just to try it again. It had been some years since my last visit, but I had a nice time. The staff were very knowledgeable; I witnessed them doing a good job of helping a few beer newbies pick out a tasty pint, and I had a nice pint of Steamworks Steam Engine on draft – my first since I was in southern Colorado a few summers ago.

Not a few days later I had an email from the GM at the Saucer, a Mr. Jake Rainey. He had stumbled on my original post, looked me up on Twitter and sent me a direct message asking for feedback. The ensuing email exchange has really convinced me that Mr. Rainey is committed to making the Saucer a nice place to have a beer – even for a picky beer geek like me.

The biggest problem for me was an issue with beer staling in the lines – with so many beers on tap its a huge challenge to keep everything fresh and tasty. Jake explained the process being used to keep beer fresh, which basically puts the kegs/lines/faucets on a strict rotational cleaning schedule.

After a few months and many visits, I think they have really improved what was a showstopper problem.

In addition, the bar staff really are quite knowledgeable – much more so than in the past. Every staff member I’ve come in contact with has worked hard to make recommendations, explain styles and stay informed about what is new on tap and in the bottle.

Although there are still some problems, the Saucer is back in my rotation of bars I regularly visit in Houston and I do now firmly believe that they care about the product they are serving.

So – I take (almost) all of it back. I now would most certainly include the Saucer in my list of Houston bars where I would choose to have a pint. However, getting Saint Arnold Brown Ale on tap would really take the cake!

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Tasting Notes – Anchor Xmas 2004-2006

Posted by beer_chris on 4-December-2009

So in preparation for a beer tasting shindig this weekend, Im cracking open the old beer cellar, and trying to put together a reco for one of my aged Anchors to pair up with a tasty main dish.

Unfortunately, the brew the last few years hasn’t been nearly as tasty as it was in the early ‘oughts (IMHO), so my later years are a little thin. However, I have a vertical selection of 2004-2006, and that’s what I’m cracking open tonight.

2004 Anchor Our Old Special Ale

Aroma: Still a good balance of roasted malt, nutmeg, a hint of juniper, and that locely sweet musty aroma (barn basement? hay loft in the winter?) that makes it so old-aleish. Some nice aroma of brown sugar and molasses as well as it warms.

Appearance: Poured to a small half finger head which dissipated quickly. Dark walnut brown – no real red hues at all.

Flavor: Malt sweetness coming out nicely. Oxidation slightly evident (some cidery, winey kind of flavors, but these are mellow). Hop bite still noticeable at the back of the palate, but just slightly. A nice balance of crystal malt sweetness at the front, fading to a light chocolate flavor at the back and finishing with the nice combo of hop, roasted malt bitterness/astringency and the same ‘hay loft’ flavors (sweet mustiness) that characterized the aroma. Alcoholic warmth not especially noticeable. Flavor is dominated by malt – and there is a lot going on there.

Mouthfeel: Moderate, very much like an English style session beer in terms of drinkability and mouthfeel. Carbonation a little out of balance – perhaps from the aging.

Overall: A fantastic example of how well this beer ages. Amazingly in balance – nothing has come too far out of balance to dominate the flavor profiles, except perhaps for the malt – and this has only gone to show how complex the grain bill must be for this brew. Surprised this does not have more piney/juniper type flavors, as this is usually a dominant spice in the beer. Perhaps this one was an ‘off’ year for that flavoring, or perhaps it has mellowed out and come down somewhat. I can’t wait to pour the 2005 now 🙂

2005 Merry Christmas Happy New Year

Aroma: Definitely a more dominant musty aroma. More barn than hay loft. Not getting any alcohol, malt, hops or other spices. Color has a red hue – a slightly dark mahogany.

Appearance: About the same as the 2004 – poured to a one finger head, which dissipated a little slower. Some large Co2 bubbles evident, probably from the extended aging. Beer did foam a bit into the neck when I opened it, but it has warmed as I left it out on the counter while I drank the 2004 🙂

Flavor: A much more straightforward malt profile. Malt hits the front of the tongue, fades slowly to a slight sweetness in the back of the palate. Some astringency late in the palate. Much lower perceived hop bitterness. Some chocolate and roasted malt flavors in the middle of the profile.

Mouthfeel: Light-moderate. A thin bodied beer, flavors are over fast, but are complex enough I don’t want to gulp it down.Carbonation a little over the top, but again I think this is mainly driven by the bottle conditioning.

Overall: Not as good as the 2004. Grain/malt flavors not nearly as dominant, and the flavorings used are not as in balance. An easier drinking beer, but probably isn’t going to get much better.

2006 Anchor Merry Christmas Happy New Year

Appearance: Very similar to 2005. A dark black with ruby/red undertones. Pours to a thinner head that dissipates quickly. Not as much evidence of large CO@ bubbles as in the earlier vintages.

Aroma: Watery. Smells kind of like washed apples/slightly cidery. Some cinnamon.

Flavor: A rich, nutty flavor on the front of the tongue. Some nice chocolate malt finishes. Slightly sour/astringent at first, but balances out quickly. Hop bitterness much less noticeable than the other vintages. Some ginger ‘fullness’ (buttery flavors?), but no ginger spice flavors. No alcoholic warmth noticeable. Definite toasty flavors, but not getting any juniper/piney flavors. here’s some nutmeg hiding in there in the middle of the taste profile, but the spices are really mellowed.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly moderate, especially given the aroma. Carbonation just right – better than the 2004 and 2005.

Overall: Not bad. The 2004 was definitely the best of the three. What’s impressive about this beer is not that it stands on its own today as a great beer, but that it has aged so well.

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