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.

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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.

 


Great Divide Eighteenth Anniversary Oak Aged Double India Pale Ale

May 30, 2012

It is remarkable the extent to which craft beers have become mainstreamed. Even just a few years ago, I would have looked at a barrel aged beer as akin to Sasquatch or the Loch Ness Monster: I had heard of them, and would have been open to their actual existence, but I would have demanded strict proof before being convinced. Now, they are so normal, that if a bar does not have at least one barrel aged beer on the menu, I scoff at their puny selection, and when my brother in law showed me this bottle, I shrugged and said “looks good, let’s give it a try”.

I should not be so blasé about these beers. The Great Divide Eighteenth Anniversary Oak Aged Double India Pale Ale might be a mouthful to say, but it also has a mouthful of flavor. Lots of caramel malts, with woody vanilla flavors from the oak, and tons of floral and orange peel hops, all of which are needed to stand up to the 10% ABV. This is a remarkably smooth beer considering how much is going on the flavor profile. It is a sipping beer, and a fine one at that, 7.5/10.


Boulevard Rye on Rye

May 14, 2012

This is a tasty mo’fo’.

The Boulevard Rye on Rye is part of Boulevard’s Smokestack Series. The ale is brewed with rye, and then partially aged in rye whiskey barrels, giving rise to the name, but I bet you all figured that out already. This poured a beautiful ruby color with amber highlights with a nice tannish head. The aroma was lovely, with spiciness from the rye offset by the vanilla from the barrel aging. Those aromas carried over to the flavor, along with some dark dried fruit notes, oak, dark malts and a nice boozy quality that to me tasted more like bourbon than rye whiskey. The Rye on Rye is a whopping 11% ABV, so this is a sipping beer, and a fine one at that, 8.5/10.


Brooklyn Black Ops

April 26, 2012

I’d make some ‘Black Ops’ crack about securing this bottle in a Mission Impossible style raid, complete with scuba diving, spelunking, skydiving, and jaywalking, but the truth is that GEB called me a few weeks before Christmas to say she was in a beer store and they had some Brooklyn Black Ops and should she get some for her Dad for Christmas and I shouted “YES! OH! GOD! FOR THE LOVE ALL THAT IS HOLY! GOD! YES!” She somehow got the impression that I was a tad excited that Black Ops had made it down to Texas so she grabbed me a bottle as well.

According to the label, this is a Russian Imperial Stout which was aged in bourbon barrels for several months. It was bottled flat and refermented in the bottle using champagne yeast. The vanilla and oak aroma from the bourbon barrel is immediately apparent. The aroma is almost overwhelming, but the flavors are surprisingly muted, with some chocolate and coffee as well. It has a light and crisp mouthfeel which I attribute to the champagne yeast refermentation. This has over 11% ABV but there is no alcohol burn at all. The Black Ops is what a Black Velvet should taste like. The only downside to this beer is that GEB did not get me more than one bottle, but  I am glad she got me the one, 9/10.


Big Texas Beer Festival, Dallas, April 14

April 16, 2012

Beer Festival Rules:

1. Pace yourself so that you can enjoy all the beers that you will be sampling.

2. Drink plenty of water.

3. Take regular food breaks. Read the rest of this entry »


Special Post-Boxing Day Edition of the Twelve Days of Christmas: Jester King Black Metal Stout Aged in an Oak Whiskey Barrel

December 27, 2011

Mr. JK is quite the generous soul. Mr. JK was being his usual generous and jolly self during Christmas 2010 when he gave Tilting Suds an oak whiskey barrel and some ‘raw’ spirits to age in the barrel. I barreled the whiskey just before Christmas, 2010. The liquor was clear when I poured it in the barrel; It was also as smooth as jet fuel. On New Year’s Eve, 2010, I poured off a bit to sample it. It had taken on some color but was still harsh firewater, nearly undrinkable. I sampled it again on Saint Patrick’s Day and Independence Day. Each successive sample took on more color and flavor, but the firewater aspect hardly mellowed at all. I decided that I would leave the whiskey in the barrel until after Thanksgiving to give it time to cool off, so to speak. This was a tactical error on my part. While my plan to mellow the whiskey was a sound one, what I did not count on was the Angels being so parched that their share would drain nearly the entire barrel.  After just under a year in the barrel, between evaporation and the oak absorbing the liquid, what started as 1500 ml of whiskey* was reduced to this: Read the rest of this entry »


Cryptozoology: The Yeti and The Swamp Ape

December 10, 2011

There are great beasts wandering the wilderness, not all of whom have been photographed, catalogued, vivisected, dissected, DNA mapped and whatever else it is that scientists do with animals.  There is so much we do not know.  Oh, sure, the aliens who visit regularly have probably gleaned all sorts of information from the anal probes performed on these undiscovered creatures (Do you really believe that the aliens only perform anal probes on Harvard Professors? I think not) but the aliens rarely, if ever, share the results of their experiments with us.  We have much to learn.

As a rugged outdoorsman*, extreme adventurer**, and acolyte of Teddy Roosevelt***, I have spent months at a time in the wild unmapped corners of the globe, and have had close encounters with a variety of cryptozoological phenomenon.  There was the time I was fly fishing on Lake Champlain and hooked Champ but was unable to land the beast.  Growing up in New Jersey, the Jersey Devil was a regular visitor to our backyard, stopping to swim in our pool, before taking off for the flight to the Pine Barrens. I have had several recent encounters with the Chupacabra while out walking my dogs, and the less said about my experience with the Mothman, the better.

It is in the field of Sasquatch studies that I have been most successful. On a recent trip to the Himalayas, I encountered the Yeti.  More importantly, I encountered two distinct kinds of Yeti. Read the rest of this entry »


Hey Porter! Hey Porter! Would you tell me the time?

November 23, 2011

How much longer will it be till we cross
that Mason Dixon Line?
At daylight would ya tell that engineer
to slow it down?
Or better still, just stop the train,
Cause I wanna look around.

Read the rest of this entry »


Dogfish Head Beer Tasting (and a Killer Beer from Real Ale!)

July 3, 2011

I went to the recent Dogfish Head Night at the Ginger Man in Plano.  I love Dogfish Head, and the beer lineup for the night was interesting, most of which were first timers for me.

First up was Aprihop, a beer previously reviewed on this very site.  Let me repeat what I wrote in that review:  I wish this beer was available the entire year.  It is damn fine hoppybeer, and the apricots complement the bitterness of the hops.  This is the beer that Magic Hat #9 aspires to be, yet does not come close to being.

The next beer was Burton Baton.  This beer is a blend of English Style Old Ale and an Imperial IPA, which is then aged in oak barrels. The vanilla from the oak muted the 10% ABV burn, making this a smooth drinking beer.  This was my favorite Dogfish Head beer of the night, 8.5/10.

Chateau Jiahu is another in Dogfish Head’s Ancient Ales series. Dogfish Head’s Ancient Ales are recreations/modernizations of beers based on findings from archeological digs.  The Chateau Jiahu is based on 9,000 year old residue from pottery found in Northern China.  This was my first time tasting this beer, and probably my last.  It was sweet and fruity, with some honey and sweet oranges noticeable in the taste, and some mango and banana as well.  It was more wine than beer, and just not my cup of tea, 5/10.  I like that Dogfish Head goes to the effort of recreating and updating these beers from the ancient world, I just don’t like the brews all that much.

Next up was the Red & White.  This is what Dogfish Head does best: Take a traditional style of beer and then ignore the rules, forging something brand new.  The Red & White is a witbier, brewed with orange peel, coriander and pinot noir juice, and then aged in oak barrels.  It is light on the palate, yet still complex, and very refreshing, 8/10.

The last Dogfish Head of the night was the Palo Santo Marron.  This a high alcohol (12% ABV!) brown ale which is aged in barrels made from Paraguayan Palo Santo wood, giving the beer a unique caramel-vanilla flavor.  Roasted malts are the dominant flavor here.  The Palo Santo Marron should be sipped slowly from a snifter, preferably while dining on a thick and perfectly grilled Ribeye Steak, 8/10.

As pleased as I was with the Dogfish Head beers, the beer of the night, and a contender for beer of the year, was Real Ale’s barrel-aged Empire IPA.  Cloudy and pale orange in color, with floral and citrus hops, and some oak from the barrel aging, this beer was fantastic, 9.5/10, and  unfortunately, exceedingly rare, as it has already disappeared from bars around town.


Winter Beers from Texas: Saint Arnold Winter Stout and Rahr & Sons Bourbon Barrel Winter Warmer Ale

February 18, 2011

It is Seventy-One Degrees here in the Sun’s Anvil, so naturally I am drinking the last of the winter beers.  One of the pleasant surprises of living in Texas is the vibrant and growing brewing industry, and Saint Arnold is certainly one of the better brewers here in Texas.  Their Winter Stout is a prime example of why Saint Arnold is held in such high esteem.  It pours black with some ruby highlights, and has a smokey coffee aroma.  There is smoke and chocolate when you first taste it, followed by some espresso in the aftertaste.  Nicely balanced, not heavy at all, and at 5.6% ABV, the Saint Arnold Winter Stout is an excellent session beer for a cold winter night, 8/10.  I enjoyed this beer on the three cold winter nights we had here in Texas this past winter.

I keep hearing good things about Rahr & Sons, a Fort Worth based brewer, and their beers keep disappointing me.  The Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer continues the disappointing trend.  It pours a dark brown with some chocolate malt, vanilla and oak in the aroma and the flavor, and some mild spiciness as well.  It is just a bit thin tasting, and the 8.5% ABV overwhelms any subtlety to the flavor profile.  Not a bad beer by any means, but I was hoping for something a little better, considering how much I usually enjoy barrel aged beers, 6/10.


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