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 »


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.


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.


Unclassifiable, Yet Awesome: Ithaca Excelsior Thirteen Anniversary Ale

August 12, 2011

The label describes Ithaca Beer Company’s Excelsior Thirteen Anniversary Ale as a “Malt Beverage Brewed With Citrus Peel – Double Hoppy Wheat Ale” but that somewhat schizophrenic description does not come close to describing the awesomeness that is this beer.  It is boozy (8.9 % ABV) like a barleywine, chewy like an oatmeal stout, hoppy like an imperial IPA, and as refreshing on a hot summer day as any hefeweizen.  Did I mention that it has a nice orange and lemon peel flavor? No? Well, add those to the flavor profile.  I don’t know what to call this, other than great, and a contender for Best Beer of the Year, 9/10.  Big thanks to Aaron for getting this to me in a recent trade.


Random Musings on Beer and Other Topics

April 26, 2011

Santa Fe Brewing Company Chicken Killer Barleywine Ale: This is a boozy tasting barleywine with lots of malts, almost no hops, the odd dried fruit flavor popping up here and there, and a decent head. It had a slight metallic aftertaste that faded as the bottle was drained.  Give it a 5, and bump them up a half point for a cool name, so 5.5/10.

Titus Andronicus in Concert:  I saw these Jersey Guys at a club recently.  They are raw and powerful in concert and deadly earnest about what they are doing.  I’d call them “The Only Band That Matters” but I am too old to believe such nonsense, and more than a little embarrassed I was ever young enough to think that sounded cool.  I will say they are the “World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band Until the Next Guys Come Along” and advise anyone who is going to see them to bring earplugs.

Svetlana: Mark Cuban’s HDnet Television Network has many hours of programming to fill and while I cannot vouch for most of the programming, Svetlana is worth seeking out.  Filmed as an ‘Office’ style mockumentary, the show follows recent Russian immigrant Svetlana Maksimovskaya, the owner of the “respectable St. Petersburg House of Discreet Pleasure”, as she tries to maintain her business as she deals with immigration problems, unruly clients, and all the usual problems that arise when you try to run a brothel with your daughters as the prostitutes.  It is filmed in high definition video with harsh and unflattering light which gives it an eerie quality. I do not know if that was a conscious decision by the creators of the show, but it certainly looks different from any television show I have seen, and the cinema verite look gives it an edginess, that is softened by the humor.  Have I mentioned it is laugh out loud funny? No? Well, it is hilarious.  Check out a clip of the show here.

Deschutes Inversion IPA: This was a big winner at the 2010 Great American Beer Festival, so I was eager to try it.  Now that I have tried it, I won’t have to bother with this beer again.  The hops were muted, the malts were heavy for an IPA.  The best I can say for it is that it had a nice head to it.  I did not hate it, but it was disappointing after all of the hype, 5/10.


Real Ale Sisyphus 2008 & 2009

April 26, 2011

Texas’ Real Ale is becoming one of my favorite brewers.  With the sole exception of their Octoberfest, I have loved every one of their beers, and as I tend not to enjoy the Octoberfest style, Real Ale gets a pass for that one.

I recently stumbled upon these limited release barleywine style ales while I was wandering around my local beer emporium, and I am happy to report that Real Ale’s record of excellence continues.

The 2008 Vintage was smooth, with prominent dried fruit flavors and just a trace of hoppiness to it.  It had a mild green apple aftertaste that counterbalanced the alcohol burn.  The 2008 retained enough carbonation to make it a velvety smooth and highly enjoyable drink, 7.5/10.

As much as I enjoyed the 2008 Vintage, and I truly did, the 2009 Vintage moved on a higher plane.  This beer was damn near spiritual.  Smooth toffee and bread malts are up front, coupled with a butterscotch and hot caramel aftertaste.  This is the smoothest 11% ABV I have ever had, 9.5/10, and if I can track down any more bottles, I am going to lay them down to age.

I have a bottle of the 2010 edition that I will drink soon and report back to all of you.


Saint Arnold Divine Reserve No. 10

November 6, 2010

Each year, Houston’s outstanding brewery, the venerable Saint Arnold, produces a special limited edition beer called the Divine Reserve. The beer is a different brew every year, a barleywine this year, and I have been told that it sells out quickly.  The release date this year was November 2.  I have discovered a few good beer emporiums in the area, and I thought that as long as I got to at least one of them by the end of the 2nd, I would be able to snag myself at least a six pack.  No problem, right?

Problem.

I hit my favorite local beer emporium, and the Chinaman tells me that he closed his waiting list in September.  Fuck.  I go to my next favorite place, and they tell me that their three cases were gone by noon.  Double Fuck.

I hit supermarkets, convenience stores, gas stations.  Saint Arnold? Divine what? Beer?  Sounds sorta blasphemous to me, Sonny, and where yall from with that funny way of talking you got? Triple Fuck.

As I am swinging home, I pass the brand new Whole Foods that opened the day before.  I figure if I can’t get myself some Divine Reserve, I can at least get some goat cheese, olives and ciabatta and maybe some red wine to knock back as I watch the election returns, and as I am gathering my provisions, I stumble into their beer section.  Saint Arnold IPA? Check. Saint Arnold Brown? Check.  Saint Arnold Amber? Check. Saint Arnold Christmas Ale? Check. Saint Arnold Divine Reserve?  Nope. Quadruple Fuck.

As I am leaving the beer aisle, an older woman asks me if I have found everything I am looking for, because if I have not, her son, who is standing right over there, is the beer manager for this Whole Foods, and he can help me find it.

<play it cool, Mr. Tilting Suds, play it cool>

Her son comes over and says hello, and we chat a bit.  I tell Mom that while I am a man of limited means, I will do everything in my power to make her son the superstar of this store.  We all laugh at my charming witticism, and we talk about the fire at Rahr Brewing and how Austin’s Real Ale Brewing Company makes some excellent beers and you know, Shiner has some surprisingly good beers. I am doing a song and dance routine, showing the depth and breadth of my knowledge, such as it is, all the while buttering up Mom with the old Tilting Suds charm, and those of you who know me, know how effective that charm offensive can be.

“So,” I ask, “do you have any Divine Reserve?”

“No, I don’t.” Quintuple Fuck.

“Ah, too bad,” says I.

“But I am getting a case in tonight, come back tomorrow, I’ll set aside a six for you.”

I swear on the souls of my ancestors that I did not do my Victory Jig until I was out in the parking lot.

This is heavy on the booze.*  It is listed at just under 12% ABV, but my guess is that it is quite a bit higher considering the way my tongue was numb on my first sip.  It has some nice cherry and dried fruit flavors, some nutty hoppiness along with some caramel, smoke and spice, but the alcohol is dominant, especially as it warms a bit.  This is a good beer now, 7/10, but it is a bit too ‘hot,’ and if it ages a bit and mellows, it will probably be a great beer.  I have five bottles left.  One is earmarked for a beer blogging novelist in NYC, and my plan is to cellar the other four and come back to them in a year.

Ah, who the hell am I kidding? Six months at best.

I am so full of shit, it will all be gone by Thanksgiving.

*GEB sent me text the other night asking if the Divine Reserve was stronger than a regular beer because she had three of them and was “drunkity drunk drunk drunk.”


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