Ranger Creek Small Batch #3 and #4 and #5

June 4, 2013

Who is Number One?

I am Number Two. You are Number Six.

I AM NOT A NUMBER! I AM A FREE MAN!

San Antonio’s Ranger Creek Brewing Company is a new to me brewery, but I have been impressed with their offerings so far. I have not found any of their beers on tap in the Dallas area yet, but their bottles are carried in the finer local beer emporiums. They also distill whiskey, but I have not tried that yet.

DSCN0011

Small Batch #3 is a barleywine aged for six months in oak barrels to let it mellow a bit. At least that is what the Ranger Creek website says, but the beer I had was funky and sour and unlike any barleywine I have ever tried. To my tastebuds, it tasted more like a Belgian wild ale. That is not a bad thing, 6.5/10, but it was not as advertised.

Davy Crockett's Favorite Barrel Aged Porter

Davy Crockett’s Favorite Barrel Aged Porter

Next is Small Batch #4, a mesquite smoked porter aged for ten months in Ranger Creek’s own bourbon barrels. There is ton of vanilla and oak in the flavor, backed up by some earthy malts and just a hint of spiciness from the hops. I did not pick up much mesquite smoke, but there was so much going with this beer that it was not missed. This was remarkably smooth for a beer with a 10% ABV. I wish I had grabbed a second bottle of this to age, but such is life, 8/10.

This was Jim Bowie's favorite

This was Jim Bowie’s favorite

Small Batch #5 is an entirely different creature. It is a pecan smoked doppelbock aged in bourbon barrels for two months. There is a bit of smoke, and some vanilla and oak from the barrel aging, but there is an unexpected touch of funkiness to this beer that was quite nice. I did not enjoy this as much #4, but it was a fine drink, 7/10.

 


Big Texas Beer Fest II: The Revenge!

April 7, 2013

When: April 6, 2013

Where: Texas State Fairgrounds

Who: Mr. Tilting Suds, Bro-In-Law Jeff, Brief Appearance by GEB and Crew, and a Cast of Thousands

Why: Really? Seriously? There was lots and lots of beer

Outfit: I decided to pay homage to Mr. JK by wearing the Abbey T-Shirt (Front Side: FUCKING RELAX YOU ARE AT THE ABBEY; Back Side: WHEN THE GATES OF HELL ARE CLOSED, THE ABBEY WILL STILL BE ROCKING!)  he got me the last time he was in New Orleans, and the Led Zeppelin ‘Stairway to Heaven’ fleece pants that he got me at the Dollar Store in Vermont. Much hilarity ensued.*

What the well dressed man about town wears these days

What the well dressed man about town wears these days

Improvements: Last year’s festival was awesome as noted here, but this year’s was better due to the addition of food trucks and live bands outside, and a few seats in which we could rest our weary bones.

Also, neither Bro-In-Law Jeff nor myself projectile vomited after the festival, so that is an improvement.

My only complaint, and one I cannot lay at the feet of the festival organizers as they had not control over it, was the number of spaghetti armed hipsters with tattoos. I am old enough to remember when only ex-military or ex-cons or current badasses (or some combination thereof) had tattoos, and now every bearded and bespectacled dipshit has several tattoos prominently displayed on their muscle-less arms. When I am appointed Lord Protector of the Anglosphere (and that day is coming, my friends, so best get on my good side now), my first order of business will be to require that every tattoo parlor install a 150 pound barbell and a bench. If you cannot rip off ten reps, no ink for you.

The Beer: (Note: I did not have a pen, so my note taking was spotty at best. These beers are the highlights as I remember them)

Victory Brewing Scarlet Fire: This rauchbier from the always excellent Victory Brewing was outstanding. The aroma was smoky, and the taste was the same without being overwhelming. It had a creamy mouthfeel, with just the right carbonation. This beer would be great with a huge plate of charcuterie and cheese.

La Socarrada Artisanal Beer with Rosemary and Honey: From Spain, this golden ale was excellent. The rosemary is prominent in the aroma, and the honey kicks in on the tongue. Grill some lamb, and sit outside with this beer, for a perfect spring afternoon.

Armadillo Aleworks Randallized Quakertown Stout: Denton’s own Armadillo Aleworks took their Quakertown Stout and ran it through a Randall stuffed with coffee beans, vanilla beans and cacao nibs. The result was a flavor explosion. The vanilla got a little lost in the mix, but I am not complaining at all, as this beer was really great.

Jester King Salt Lick: Brewed in collaboration with the famous Salt Lick BBQ restaurant, this had the lemon pepper attributes of a traditional saison, with some smoke and sour flavors throwing a change up. Another good one from Jester King.

Franconia Brewing Double IPA: My local brewery stepped out of their German style comfort zone, and came up with a pretty good double IPA. They are opening a new site, and will hopefully begin bottling their beers soon.

Martin House Brewing Saison: This Texas brewery is brand new. Their saison was the first beer I had, and it was a good way to start the festival. Light and refreshing, with pepper, lemon and a touch of funk to it, I can see myself drinking this all day sometime this summer.

Saint Arnold Bishop’s Barrel #2: Go to the link to read the interesting back story on this beer. My two cents is that with all of the flavor notes going on (sour cherry, wild yeast, chardonnay infused oak, sour bacteria, etc.), this beer was nicely balanced. I doubt I would want to drink more than one of these in an evening, but I would enjoy the hell out of the one I did drink.

Lazy Magnolia Jefferson Stout: This stout is brewed with sweet potatoes. I did not detect any distinct sweet potato flavor, but I did like this beer. The ‘Jefferson’ referenced in the name of the beer is neither Thomas nor George. It is Jefferson Davis. Just stop with this crap.

Hops & Grains: These guys were a revelation. I tried their Pale Mosaic IPA first, and it was wonderful. The piney hops aroma was so powerful that I thought I was back in New Jersey. I immediately got back on line to try their other beers. all of which were excellent. I spoke briefly with the brewery representative (I did not get his name, but he had a great set of mutton chop sideburns, and he complimented me on my Led Zeppelin pants, so he is obviously a man of refined taste), and he said the brewery was located near Austin, and that their beers are slowly making it to the DFW area. 

*Multiple people asked if I had the pants custom made. Many more commented on my Abbey shirt. Just as many said “Dude, those pants are awesome!” By the end of the day, if someone complimented on the pants, I made sure to point out how awesome the shirt was and vice versa. The whole was much greater than the sum of the parts.

My outfit led to the following exchange with GEB:

GEB: You wore pajama pants

Tilting Suds: No, these are Led Zep Pants

GEB: Pajama Pants

Tilting Suds: Led Zep Pants

GEB: Pajama Pants

Tilting Suds: Led Zep Pants

GEB: Pajama Pants

Tilting Suds: Led Zep Pants

GEB: Pajama Pants

Tilting Suds: Led Zep Pants

GEB: Pajama Pants

Tilting Suds: Led Zep Pants

GEB: Pajama Pants

Tilting Suds: Led Zep Pants

GEB: Pajama Pants

Tilting Suds: Led Zep Pants

GEB: Pajama Pants

Tilting Suds: Led Zep Pants…

This intellectual debate continued for upwards of thirty minutes, only to be ended when a random passerby said “It doesn’t matter if they are pajamas or Led Zep pants, they are just cool!”

Thank you, Kind Stranger, for recognising the awesomeness of the Led Zep Pants.


Moa Imperial Stout

March 6, 2013

I can never be certain about these things, because so much has been lost in the haze of alcohol, old age, bad TV and sleepless nights, but I believe that Moa Brewing Co.’s Imperial Stout is the first beer from New Zealand that I have drunk (Drank? Imbibed? Howzabout ‘knocked back’?). It is certainly the first beer from New Zealand that has been reviewed here at Tilting Suds. Of that, there is no question.

I never liked Split Enz, but I like this beer. Might be a time for a critical reassessment of Split Enz

I never liked Split Enz, but I like this beer. Might be a time for a critical reassessment of Split Enz

And for a first beer from New Zealand, I picked a good one. The Moa Imperial Stout is aged in Pinot Noir barrels, and the oak from the barrels is the first thing I picked up in the aroma. The beer poured an inky black with ruby highlights, with a quickly dissipating head. Normally Imperial Stouts are heavy in taste and texture, but his beer had a delicate mouthfeel, and the flavors (oak, coffee, cocoa, vanilla) were also muted, as was the 10% ABV. I did not pick up any Pinot Noir notes, but then again, I am such a wine barbarian that I cannot tell a Pinot Noir from a fucking Merlot. Let’s just say that if there were any red wine notes here at all, I missed them. Let’s also say that my first Kiwi beer adventure was an enjoyable one, 7.5/10.


Armigideon Time

March 5, 2013

Noted Friend of Tilting Suds, Mr. JK, was his usual generous self recently, sending to Texas a package of smokes, charcuterie, and a curious bottle of beer called Armageddon from a Scottish brewer called Brewmeister. Billed as the “World’s Strongest Beer” it clocks in at 65% ABV. Mr. JK described it as a marketing ploy, and to a certain extent he is right. Brewmeister probably got more mileage out of brewing the world’s strongest beer when compared to breweries who win multiple gold medals at brewing competitions. On the other hand, this appeared to be a serious brewer who took the time and care to use quality ingredients in an attempt to make a good beer. Clearly, Brewmeister wanted the notoriety of brewing the “World’s Strongest Beer” but not at the expense of sacrificing their reputation as a brewer of good beers.

A lotta people won't get no supper tonight

A lotta people won’t get no supper tonight


Even though it was only a 12 ounce bottle, I was not going to tackle this myself, so I split it with Bro-In-Law Jeff.  He had been to Scotland recently and had visited one of the BrewDog pubs, so he had some experience with the Scottish propensity for brewing high alcohol beers.  This poured a somewhat cloudy caramel brown, with absolutely no carbonation whatsoever. The first thing I noticed is that there was very little in the way of  alcohol burn. If this beer is truly 65% ABV*, Brewmeister has done a remarkable job of making it a smooth drinking tipple. The other thing I noticed is that while it was different tasting, it still very much tasted like a beer. There was a caramel sweetness to the malts along with some mild hoppy bitterness. I am going to give it a 6.5/10.

*I had some doubts about that claim while I was drinking the beer, but when I stood up and had to immediately sit back down due to being a tad lightheaded after finishing my half glass, I had no further doubts.


Catch Up Post: Beers That I Have Been Drinking

February 7, 2013

Sorry about the absence. Events conspired against me to keep me from posting as regularly as I would have liked, but crap happens from time to time. To make up for some lost time, here are some quickie reviews:

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New Angles on Old Tricks: The Classic Pale Ale

December 20, 2012

With all of these funky new beers, many of which were unimaginable even a few short years ago (and I say that as a guy with a vivid imagination when it comes to beer), I often forget that a good pale ale is one of the true treats of the beer world: delicious; low enough in alcohol to drink several without causing the world to spin, yet flavorful enough to thoroughly enjoy; and strikes the right balance of bold flavors and drinkability for a craft beer neophyte to enjoy. Few things make me happier than seeing the inroads Sierra Nevada has made with marketing its flagship Pale Ale. No matter how lame the bar is (and I have been in plenty of lame ass bars), these places will usually now carry Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale as a sop to beer snobs like me. No matter how lame the pizzeria (or now that I am in Texas, a taqueria is more likely), they usually have a few bottles of it handy, or better yet, a tap devoted to it.

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Deep Ellum IPA

December 18, 2012

I am quietly (or maybe not so quietly) becoming a big fan of one of Dallas’ newer breweries, Deep Ellum. Their beers get consistent high grades from Tilting Suds, and their IPA is going to continue that hot streak.

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Deep Ellum has only recently started distribution of their beers in bottles, so I do not know how far beyond Dallas their beers have made it, but they will quickly develop a sterling reputation beyond the borders of this simple blog if they continue making beers as good as this IPA, their flagship beer. Their IPA pours a bright amber, with a strong hop citrus hop aroma. That aroma is complemented by floral hops in the taste, with a nice malt back bone to tie it all together. I do not know what the ABV % is, but there is a bit of an alcohol bite to this beer, which does nothing to detract from the overall flavor profile. Another oustanding beer from Deep Ellum, 7.5/10.


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