I have been in Texas for a few weeks now, and the one thing I cannot adjust to is the heat. T.E. Lawrence and his band of Merry Arab Pranksters may have crossed the Sun’s Anvil to attack Aqaba by land, but the Mexicans who work construction here in the summer think A’Lawrence and those Arabs are a bunch of candy asses for hiding from the sun during the day. It is the end of September, shortly after 10 a.m., and it is over 90 degrees, and no one here thinks that is odd. It is just the way it is.
Luckily, Texas has some fine beers to help fight off the heat. Houston’s Saint Arnold Brewing is Texas’ oldest craft brewery, and the few beers that I have tried have all been quite good. I am generally not a fan of pilsners, but after twenty odd days over a hundred degrees, with night time temperatures above ninety, the Saint Arnolds’ Summer Pils was the perfect thirst quencher, dry, crisp and refreshing, 6.5/10.
Here is another whacky thing about Texas: The overt, and damn near aggressive, Christianity. I spoke to a woman on the phone a few weeks ago, making car pool arrangements for my youngest niece. As we wrapped up our conversation, she bid adieu by admonishing me to “Praise and Serve the Lord!” I stammered out a “Will Do!” before hanging up. It is striking how often I am preached to during the course of a day.
Saint Arnold’s Elissa IPA is less hoppy and a bit maltier than is the norm for India Pale Ales, but is a nice change of pace from the hop bombs that many American IPAs have become. This is a rich tasting beer, with a creamy mouth feel, 7/10. I paired it with some homemade fresh chorizo, and it was outstanding.
Football is second only to Christianity as an object of devotion among Texans, and and while they love the Longhorns and the Aggies and the Horned Frogs here, and to a lesser extent the
Cowboys and the Texans, High School football is the King of Kings. I went to the Lovejoy High School season opener a few weeks ago. Lovejoy is by far the smaller of the two high schools in Allen, Texas, and they still had nearly 10,000 people come out for the game. Friday nights are given over to high school football. Not much else happens in town, as everybody is at the game, and the town’s mood over the weekend is noticeably effected by the Leopards winning or losing.
Shiner Brewing is best known for their Bock Beer, which I would occasionally see in New Jersey. While the Bock is their flagship beer, it is not very good, and as Shiner seems to be the beer of choice among the classier rednecks down here, I was not expecting much from their other brews. I could not have been more wrong.
Shiner specializes in German and Czech style beers, and some of them are excellent. Their Hefeweizen is golden and cloudy, with some nice banana and clove flavors. It is an excellent example of the style, 7.5/10.
Shiner Kosmos is a specialty lager, much hoppier than Shiner’s other beers. Pale amber in color with a moderately fluffy head, the earthy hops aroma is immediately noticeable. The hops are balanced by some candy malts, making this beer just a little too drinkable, 6.5/10.
Shiner’s Bohemian Black Lager has a smoked malt flavor that is quite pleasant. It pours a deep amber, almost black, with ruby highlights. The aroma is caramel, with caramel and coffee coming through on the taste. This is a nice beer, and will be in the regular rotation if the weather ever cools, 7/10.
Texas has outlawed shotgun racks in motor vehicles, much to my disappointment. I have yet to see anyone walking around with a pistol strapped to their hip, nor have I heard any gunfire, but that does not mean that guns are not part of the culture here. Apparently shooting at street signs is still a recreational activity in this part of the country.
Austin’s Real Ale Company may have a boring name, but they make some damn good beers. The Full Moon Pale Rye Ale is a fantastic brew. The rye is subtle in the aroma, and slightly more pronounced in the taste. This beer has some herbal flavors, mainly coriander, with some caramel in the aftertaste. All in all, a fantastic beer, 8/10.