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.


Saint Arnold Homefront India Pale Ale

June 19, 2012

Beating the heat in Texas is a fool’s errand. It simply cannot be done. It is like trying to stop Michael Jordan in his prime. That is just not going to happen. But as the sportscasters used to say, “you cannot stop Michael Jordan, you can only hope to contain him” and that is the approach I take to summer in Texas.

I concede that I am going to be hot and miserable. There is no way around it, but I am not going to let the summer defeat me. I am going to ride my bike whenever I can, I am just going to be sure to stay well hydrated. I recognize that my car is going to be pizza oven hot when I get into it, I just park in the shade whenever possible and use the window screen religiously. I understand that every pool I jump into is going to feel like plunging into a bowl of warm spit, instead of the cold, bracing, damn near heart attack inducing sensation I am used to after growing up in the northeast. And I know that the heavy IPAs I usually prefer are going to go down like sludge, so I resign myself to drinking lighter bodied beers during the dog days of summer.

Although I resign myself to drinking lighter beers in the summer, Saint Arnold’s Homefront IPA* is a damn fine india pale ale for the Texas heat due to it’s light body. The aroma is sweet oranges and flowery hops. The taste has the floral hops right up front, with some orange marmalade bittersweetness in the background. The Homefront IPA clocks in at 6.5 % ABV, which is so well hidden that I would have guessed it would have been around 5%. This is another fine addition to Saint Arnold’s lineup of beers, 8/10.

*Saint Arnold brewed this in honor of Memorial Day, and Saint Arnold is donating the profits to Operation Homefront, and organization providing emergency financial and other assistance to the families of American service members and wounded warriors.


The Days Are Getting Longer and The Beers Are Getting Lighter

May 22, 2012

It gets hot in Texas. And once it gets hot in Texas, it stays hot. There is no break from the heat at night. It is as hot at midnight as it is at noon. And it stays hot for a long time, 10, 20, 30, even 40 days straight of over 100 degree temperatures is not unusual. Even now, in the middle of May, it will be over 90 degrees by the end of the week.

Fighting heat like this requires special beers. You want to drink something cold, so you need a beer that has the flavor profile to stand up in a chilled glass, but you don’t want something too heavy tasting or complex. You will want to drink a few beers over the course of the hot sumer afternoon, so you need a beer with a slightly lower ABV. There is nothing worse than passing out drunk and shirtless in the backyard and roasting in the summer sun, or so I have been told.

The Sierra Nevada Summerfest is a light and crisp pilsner. It pours clear and slightly fizzy. The taste is slightly sweet from the malts, with mildly herbal and lemony hops. It clocks in at 5.0 % ABV, so you can have a few while you laze around in the backyard.  It is good enough to drink, but nothing to rave about, 6/10.

The Saint Arnold Weedwacker is THE summer beer for me. This beer started out as part of Saint Arnold’s Movable Yeast experiment (SA would use different yeasts in their standard beers to see the difference that yeast plays in the flavor) that proved to be so popular that it has become a regular beer for them. Saint Arnold takes their Fancy Lawnmower, a German Kolsch, and uses hefeweizen yeast for the fermentation. It pours a nice cloudy orange yellow, with a slight head and vigorous lacing up the side of the glass. There are those banana and clove aroma and flavors you expect from a hefeweizen, along with a  touch of honey. It also has less than 5% ABV, so chug away.  This is the beer I reach for when the weather turns brutal, 7.5/10.

BONUS TEXAS WILDLIFE VIDEO:

This snake was in the backyard, and was probably there for awhile. It is a water moccasin, about two feet long, and approximately two years old. And the guy in the video with the bare feet kicking the pickle bucket containing the venomous and agitated snake? Yeah, that’d be me.

BONUS TEXAS WILDLIFE PHOTO:

Tarantula in a jar

That is a Tarantula in a jar. It was captured by a neighbor in his front yard. It is curled up in this photo, but when spread out, it was about six inches across.


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 »


Best Beers of 2011

December 31, 2011

I had a good 2011 when it came to beer. I probably drank less beer by volume than any year in recent memory, but the quality of the beer I did  drink was much better than in years past. I decided this year to not drink beer just for the sake of drinking beer, but to drink only if the choices were genuinely appealing. No more knocking back a Shiner Bock just because that was the best beer available at the taqueria; I went with water (or sometimes soda) if that was the case.

Drinking only good beer meant less time spent like this

My 2011 Best Beer list is Texas-centric. There are two reasons for that: First, I live here now, and these beers are readily available to me. Second, Texas is home to some damn fine brewers, although most are relatively unknown outside the state. Texas is the best kept secret of the craft brewing world, but the better brewers are starting to get some attention elsewhere.

Here are the best beers I had in 2011:

8.5 Scores:

1. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale

2. Deschuttes Black Butte XXIII

3. Super Des Fagnes Brune

4. Dogfish Head Burton Baton

9.0 Scores:

1. Real Ale 15th Anniversary Russian Imperial Stout

2. Ithaca Excelsior Thirteen Anniversary Ale

3. Saint Arnold Divine Reserve No. 11

4. Mikeller Chipotle Porter

9.5 Scores:

1. Jester King Wytchmaker Rye IPA

2. Real Ale Barrel Aged Empire IPA

3. Real Ale Sisyphus 2009

If forced to choose one beer as the best of 2011, I’d go with Jester King’s Wytchmaker Rye IPA. That is one tasty beer. Jester King has a busy and creative 2012 planned, so much so that it would not shock me if one of their new beers knocked out the Wytchmaker to take the title in 2012. On the other hand, at the beginning of 2011, I had not even heard of Jester King, so there may be some as yet unknown brewer who will take the crown. We will have to see how 2012 plays out.

*Photo courtesy of Aaron Goldfarb, Author of How To Fail


The Seventh Day of Christmas: Santo from Saint Arnold

December 20, 2011

Clearly not a Christmas beer, just based on the Day of the Dead label design, but I am including it here because I have only recently tried it, and if you look closely at the photo, there is a small Christmas tree visible in the background. The Santo is Saint Arnold’s version of a German Kolsch, and hews quite close to that traditional style. Saint Arnold says it is darker than a traditional kolsch and I suppose that is true, but the profile (malty, light bodied, mild floral hops) is 100% Kolsch. While I liked it, I am not a huge fan of German style beers, but if you are, you will probably enjoy it more than I did, 6.5/10.

The First Day of Christmas

The Second Day of Christmas

The Third Day of Christmas

The Fourth Day of Christmas


The First Day of Christmas: Saint Arnold Sailing Santa

December 14, 2011

Let’s get this out of the way first: Yes, I am well aware that the First Day of Christmas is December 25, and the Twelve Days culminate on January 4 on the Feast of the Epiphany.  I am starting the Twelve Days today because it is my blog and I set the rules around here.  So you pedants can just climb down from your high horses and cut me some slack.

Sailing Santa by Saint Arnold. Gingerbread House by my niece

Saint Arnold‘s Sailing Santa is a blend of their Elissa IPA and their Christmas Ale.  As both are fine beers in their own right, I expected this to be a good one, and it is a fine drink. It has some nice piney hops, and along with some dark fruit and brown sugar sweetness to it. It had a mild Christmas spiciness to it, with some nutmeg and cinnamon, but that was very muted. This was very smooth and drinkable considering the 8% ABV.  Sailing Santa was quite enjoyable and a worthy brew to kickoff the Twelve Days of Christmas, 7/10.


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