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.


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.


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.

DSCN6489

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.


Just Brutal: Jester King Gotlandsdricka

December 5, 2012

I am a Jester King fanboy, but I have my limits, and Gotlandsdricka is well beyond those.  Allegedly the beer of the Vikings, you’d have to be a Viking to enjoy this stuff. This was astringent and bitter and overly fizzy with an assortment of odd burnt wood flavors that were completely unpleasant. I choked it down, but I did not enjoy it in the least, and while I understand what Jester King is trying to do with all of these styles, this one is a huge swing and a miss, 3/10.

At least the label is cool

At least the label is cool


My Scorecard Says ‘Home Run’: Deep Ellum Double Brown Stout

November 24, 2012

Ca$h Money should be kept in your shoes, or better yet, your socks

Dallas’ Deep Ellum Brewing Co. is a relative newcomer to the craft beer scene, but they have impressed Tilting Suds in the past, and their Double Brown Stout continues that streak of good beer. Pouring a deep rich brown, this has a light and airy mouthfeel, creamy and smooth. The initial flavors and aromas are vanilla and toffee, with a nutty aftertaste, and some dried fruits as well. Stouts can be heavy and ponderous, like a Black Sabbath bass line, but not this one. It is easily drinkable, and even at 7% ABV, I could see myself having several over the course of an evening. It is the ‘lightest’ stout I have ever had, and that is meant as a compliment. According to the Deep Ellum website, they use lager yeast instead of ale yeast, so it is technically not a stout or a porter, and they classify it as a Baltic Porter on the website, as opposed to the ‘stout’ classification on the label. That is all a bit confusing, as if they are not totally sure what they have on their hands here, and frankly, I am not sure how to classify it either, except it is a home run, not a double, 8.5/10, just an excellent beer.


Black Friday Beer: Samuel Smith’s Winter Warmer

November 23, 2012

The day after Thanksgiving (AKA ‘Black Friday’) is the opening day of the Christmas Shopping season, and it is marked by midnight openings of Big Box Retail Stores, One Day ONLY! sales, people camping out days in advance to take advantage of those sales, and in particularly spectacular years, riots at stores to get at the merchandise. This year there were supposed to be various union organized protests at Walmart stores across the country, although if there were any they seemed to be largely ignored by the bargain seeking public.

For me, Black Friday has nothing to do with shopping. It is a day in which I sleep in a bit after eating too much on Thanksgiving, a day in which I sleep off yet another disappointing Cowboys’ Thanksgiving Day Loss, this year to the hated Redskins (and Good God, the idea of my favorite team facing Robert Griffin III twice a year for the next decade fills me with dread, as he is the quarterback that Michael Vick was supposed to be, except he is serious about the QB craft, actually working at it by watching film and studying and doing drills and having his receivers practice endlessly to get their timing down instead of relying solely on his physical talent as Vick did; RGIII is, if anything, a better natural athlete than Vick; and something else, something else…oh yeah, he is not a fucking dumbass like Vick was), and it is the first day on which I will drink a Christmas Beer.

American Football is Mutant Rugby played in protective pads

The initial Christmas Beer of 2012 is an old favorite, Samuel Smith’s Winter Warmer. Seeing the ever changing yet still familiar label* with the Bill Shakespeare quote is the first harbinger that my favorite time of year is coming soon. I will not drink this before Black Friday, nor will I drink any after Twelfth Night, but I am hardcore like that. Like Omar Little, I have a code.

At this stage, with the proliferation of seasonal brews, this barely qualifies as a ‘Christmas Beer’ as it is not spicy nor especially in high in alcohol nor amped up in any way, but I do not really care. It is smooth and good and only comes out at the end of the year, and that is enough for me, 7.5/10.

*The 2012 label is a bit of a letdown. Usually it depicts Dickensian or Elizabethan or Edwardian revelers in a Christmas scene. This year it depicts two rugby players in action. I suppose rugby has some winter/Christmas connotations, but damn it, I am American, and I demand that Samuel Smith confine themselves to my predisposed notions of an English Yuletide!


Great Divide Rumble IPA

October 18, 2012

I spent a few years out in Denver in the early nineties. I learned to love mexican food, did some mountain biking, honed my appreciation of good beer, and dug through the racks of the used record stores in between going to class.* I cannot say for certain whether I had any Great Divide Beers while I was living there. I sort of recall the name from that time, but the mind plays tricks on you, and memories, especially those centered around and/or fueled by the consumption of alcohol, are unreliable.

You can’t hit what you can’t see

I have certainly had Great Divide Beers in the intervening years, and while I would not put them in the upper echelon of American brewers, they are certainly good enough to take a flyer on when I see something I have not tried before, like the Rumble India Pale Ale. Aged in oak barrels (like all IPAs should be!), and that aging shows in the subtle vanilla aroma and flavor behind the heavy dose of piney hops and caramel malts, this beer clocks in at 7.1 % ABV. Did I mention there was some sediment floating around in my beer? There was, and I love when my beer has flotsam and jetsam** in it, 7/10.

*No, I never went skiing.

**As the sediment is neither cargo dumped overboard nor wreckage from a ship, it is technically neither flotsam nor jetsam, but those terms sound better than detritus so I am going to roll with them.


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