108 Degrees In The Shade: Summer in Texas, Texas Summer Beers

August 7, 2012

Hans' Pils

Real Ale Hans’ Pils –  I do not know who Hans is, so I do not know why this beer is named for him, but he must be a good egg, as this is a fine beer, and I doubt Real Ale would name such a good beer after him if Hans were not a fine fellow. It is clean, crisp and dry, with some cracker like malts and mild lemon and black pepper hops for some balance, and a long lasting white head. I am generally not a fan of German style beers, but I do like this one, 7/10.

Rahr & Sons Summertime Wheat – I have not been impressed by Fort Worth’s Rahr & Sons in the past. Their beers have been spotty at best, and to my palate the problem seems to be quality control issues. They are inconsistent. As mentioned above, I am generally not a fan of German style beers, as I am an Anglophile to my core, and Rahr & Sons specializes in German style beers, which might be a contributing factor to my being less than impressed with their beers.

Rahr Summertime Wheat

On the other hand, I do love hefeweizens in the hot summer months, and Rahr has brewed themselves an excellent one with their Summertime Wheat. This has that nice wheat, yeast, banana, and clove flavors that is the hallmark of all hefeweizens, with just a touch of candy sweetness and orange peel bitterness. It pours golden blonde and cloudy with a fluffy head, and is subtly carbonated for a terrific mouthfeel. The carbonation also provides some terrific lacing which races up the side of the glass. If Rahr could maintain this standard of excellence across their beer roster, I would be a huge fan. Unfortunately, in my experience, this is a high point for them, 7.5/10.

Water Tower in Allen, Texas. This has nothing to do with beer. I just like the picture.


Real Ale Devil’s Backbone

May 15, 2012

That is my favorite scene from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I love Nicholson’s reaction when he realizes that Chief is not crazy, and that he has an ally in his war with Nurse Ratchet, or at least a non-insane ally. Nicholson has been in so many great movies, and has had great roles in some lesser films, but I maintain that Cuckoo’s Nest is his finest moment, when a great actor, one at the top of his game, found the right character, the right script, the right director, and  a brilliant supporting cast as well. Any one thing can go wrong to make a movie a failure, but Cuckoo’s Nest is just about perfect.

Real Ale takes a stab at brewing a Tripel, and do a fine job of it. The Devil’s Backbone pours a cloudy yellow with a meringue like head. This has a sweet banana and tangerine aroma, with some herbal notes in the background. The flavor is sweet and herbal, with some clove and cardamon, and the candy sugar gives it a juicy fruit gum flavor. This is a smooth drinking beer, and like most tripels it has a deceptively high ABV (8.1%), so you need to be careful or you will be D-R-U-N-K Drunk before you realize it. You cannot drink many of these in a session, but it is a nice treat, 7.5/10.


Real Ale Sisyphus 2011

February 28, 2012

This picture is as blurry as your eyesight will be if you drink more than one of these

I am a fan of Real Ale Brewing Co., and I am particularly a fan of their Sisyphus Barleywines. The 2011 vintage is hot off the bottling line, and is a tasty little treat. At over 11% ABV, it is a warming drink for a cold night, with plenty of toffee, dried fruit, and floral hops in the flavor profile. If anything, it may be a tad too hot, and will probably age nicely. It is not as good as the 2009 Vintage (one of my top beers of the past year), but it is still an excellent barley wine, 8/10.


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 »


Real Ale Sisyphus 2010

August 16, 2011

After enjoying the 2008 vintage, and being knocked out by the 2009 vintage, I was eager to try the 2010 Sisyphus Barleywine from the always stellar Real Ale Brewing Company.  Like the previous versions, this is a boozy barleywine.  It has a mild hop aroma that is amped up a bit in the taste, lots of caramel malts, and some orange peel and raisins and other dried fruit as well.  It is just a bit too fresh and hot tasting right now, and could stand another couple of months aging in the bottle.  Luckily, I have a bottle tucked away for just that purpose.  I am giving it 7/10 right now, and will revisit this again in a few months.


Real Ale Lost Gold IPA & Saint Arnold Weedwacker

July 4, 2011

Real Ale has become one of my favorite brewers and anyone who can get their hands on this beer will understand why: The Lost Gold is a damn fine IPA, pouring a cloudy orange with a nice head.  The hops smell and taste of grapefruit, and are balanced by the breadlike malts.  This is not a gamechanger IPA, not a hop bomb like some West Coast IPAs, not a classic that you should move heaven and earth to get, but it is a very drinkable example of the style, 7/10, and  another rock solid offering from Real Ale, and one which I will happily drink year round.

As the Saint Arnold website says, Saint Arnold’s Weedwacker is sort of a Hefeweizen, but not quite.  Saint Arnold takes their Fancy Lawnmower, which is a Kolsch, and pitches Hefeweizen yeast, rather than ale yeast.  The yeast gives it that distinctive banana and clove flavor that is the hallmark of the Hefeweizen, and it is cloudy too, but it is hoppier than any Hefeweizen I have had. It is crisp and refreshing, a great beer for a scorching summer day.  I am not really a fan of the Fancy Lawnmower, but I love the Weedwacker, 7.5/10.


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.


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