Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Irish Channel Stout by NOLA Brewing Company

Well, it’s the last day in August, and tomorrow this blogger will begin a series of Texas craft and micro brew reviews.  Right now I have the products of 3 different breweries, and about 7 different varieties. That number should begin to increase steadily since I have been working diligently to empty as much beer as possible from the chill chest every night.

Tonight though, I have opened a bomber of NOLA Brewing Company’s Irish Channel Stout. Being brewed in New Orleans, and less than a day’s travels from brewery to my lips, I would consider this beer to be somewhat local. But as it is still not a beer brewed in the state, it must be consumed before I put my head to a pillow this evening.

Poured out into an imperial pint glass, no subtle brown hues are to be seen at the elixirs edges, which are truly black as should be expected from a stout. A nice, thick cappuccino head forms without much work, and exhibited a moderate amount of staying power before dissolving to a penny’s width.

The nose was full of malt breadiness with a strong coffee presence and slight hints of nutmeg.

This coffee essence was carried on the tongue as the initial sip was made, bringing a profusion of dark, burnt coffee flavor that was a tad overbearing in its bitterness during the first several sips. This java overload was somewhat tempered and given more depth on the backend by a nice chocolaty warmth, but was not quite balanced enough with the forward flavors of the beer to elevate my impression of it.

With the beer’s flavor profile, all of the ingredients come together to produce what could be a much better if more balance could be found between the bitter and sweet contents of the bottle.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dale's Pale Ale by Oskar Blues Brewery

There always seems to be those beers that I regret not trying earlier. Recently, it was Ugly Pug by Rahr and Sons Brewery, a beer that was becoming available just as I was leaving the Dallas/Forth Worth Metroplex, as I began my trip East to Atlanta, ultimately a move that would turn my focus from imports to American craft brews, and fostered a new love of “local” flavor.

Another neglected beer is Oskar Blues’ Dale’s Pale Ale. Now I will admit that one reason I stayed away from this brewery’s fare for quite a while was my snobbery towards drinking beer from a can. I am not opposed to it, but at a certain price point, I wanted to have a glass bottle. Once I got over that prejudice I still had the tyranny of choice to overcome before selecting this particular ale.

A few weeks ago though, after a shopping trip with my brother in which we divvied up several six packs of this and that, I ended up with this beer.

Emptying the can’s contents into a pint glass exposed the slightly cloudy, orange hued beverage. A decent off-white head formed about a finger and a half thick, and swiftly dissipated to about just half of its initial size.

The aroma of the freshly poured beer was forward with the scent of grapefruit wafting over a slight grain sugariness.

A bright, dry, grapefruit flavor is the first recognized taste, the bitterness is medium bodied, and nicely tempered by malts that draw out some interesting spice and perhaps clove notes on the backend.

With such a nice depth and balance of flavors, I am regretting every outdoor function where I settled for less of a canned beer when I could have been enjoying Dale’s Pale Ale or another canned craft beer.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Stone Smoked Porter by Stone Brewing Company

If not having a job has any benefits, it's that it gives me oodles of time to pursue my obsession of intoxication.

Sporting my mighty unemployment beard, I spent a majority of the day today applying for a few jobs, visiting the bank, tweaking my blog and shooting out emails, but mostly watching a travel and drinking show on, “Three Sheets.” Feeling better about not popping a cap at lunchtime, I feel that 4 p.m. is a fine time to start drinking.

Getting ready for a big push of reviews on craft beers brewed in Texas in September, I decided it was time to clear the fridge of any beer brewed outside of the Lone Star State. While making my selection, I found it an easy choice to start with the Stone Smoked Porter, the last of three bombers that were recently obtained from San Diego based Stone Brewing Company.

The beer poured out as dark as the heart of Dick Cheney, with a tan, assertive, head that quickly retreated into the black brew.

The essence of the beer’s aroma was chocolaty with bready warmth that invited this drinker in with the promise of good things.

As the beer hit my tongue a bouquet with a wealth and depth of coffee and chocolate flavors attacked the palate in full force. As my mouth acclimates to the full body character of chocolate and coffee malts, subtle notes of oak and smokiness develop, adding to the already delicious complexity of the beer.

As I finish the rich and dry Stone Smoked Porter, I am left with not just an empty pint glass, but also a palate full of desire for more of Stone Brewing Companies craft beer selections.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Rahr and Sons Brewery Tour

Happy Sunday morning you wonderful people!

Hope everyone is making the most of their weekend as August comes to a close. This weekend I found myself at the Rahr and Sons Brewery for their weekly exhibition of fine beer and brewery.

For a 7-dollar donation to an always-changing charity, visitors get a branded pint glass, three tickets for beer, and a live band.  Not a bad deal at all.

As far as “brewery tours” go, unless you’re visiting a Miller, InBev, or Coors set up, it will generally be a very informal event. The purpose of the tour is really to market and connect with your customers, and small craft breweries, such as Rahr and Sons, exceed the macrobrewers in that regards.  Being so small in scope they can create a niche for themselves in a local market, and foster a true relationship with their drinkers.

Rahr and Sons brewery tour does this in a number of ways. True to any brewery worth its salt, they had high quality, cold beer. To foster a communal atmosphere they put down large picnic tables, brought in GOOD music to attract as large a crowd as possible in their limited space, and didn’t really bother worrying about a lack of air conditioning, despite the heat generated by the Texas sun and large gathering of beer drinkers. Texans understand heat and will not let it get in their way of a good time. Get us together in mixed company of other Texans, and few will complain about the heat. (Any individual who does is likely to end up tarred and feathered for the suspicion of being a Yankee.)

The beers on tap (which I was largely unfamiliar with) and some informal tasting notes are as followed (more formal reviews will come at a later date):

Typically I prefer brunettes,
but this blonde was great company.
Rahr’s Blond: A Munich Helles, light in body with a light, crisp maltiness and wet mouthfeel was the most refreshing in the heat of the day. This is a beer to be enjoyed poolside. Of course, my Cajun wife pointed out what a great pairing this would be with boiled crawfish, a marked improvement over her family's stock choice of light macro lagers. 

Texas Red: An Amber Ale, medium bodied, and with well balanced malts and hops that make this a wonderful, versatile beer to be enjoyed in most situations. Caramel flavors are the most predominant with just enough hops to keep it interesting.

I don't see anything ugly about this Ugly Pug.
Ugly Pug: A black lager with full-bodied flavor and more of a medium full mouthfeel than a typical stout, which brings strong coffee flavor and bitterness in a refreshing package.

This doofus is drinking Stormcloud IPA

Stormcloud IPA: The only ale at the tasting, and the only Rahr and Sons' offering I have previously had  surprisingly had more depth and was less sharp with bitterness than I had noted with my experience with the bottled version.

Also, to note the specifics of this “tour,” the band who provided the afternoon’s entertainment was Shinyribs, fronted by former front man of Austin's The Gourds', Kevin Russell. As well as their own alt country fare, they included a cover of T-Pain’s “Buy U a Drank” that was reminiscent of Russell's wildly popular cover of Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice" (linked below!)

Bonus, my dainty wife found this nugget of joy, Shinyribs performing "Buy U a Drank."

After having an awesome post lunch beer or three, my “crew” made it back to the house for more craft beer and some tequila to round out a perfectly wasted Saturday.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Summer Pils By Saint Arnold Brewing Company

I really dislike two things above most others, those things being drama and waiting, and right now I am knee deep in both. While the drama is not so conductive to producing content for this blog, having a lot of time means I have more time to drink beer, smoke cigars, and ingest more food and fiction than is probably healthy.

I’ll avoid specifics, but today has been a day of watching the phone and multiple email accounts. With 5 o’clock bearing down on this Friday, I have resolved to stop checking my phone for missed calls, and checking my inbox for signs of life every five minutes. To facilitate this decision I have decided to twist off the red cap of another Summer Pils, from Saint Arnold Brewing Company in Houston, TX.

As the beer meets the pint glass a lot of active carbonation is witnessed. As the volume of the crystal clear, straw colored beverage increases a frothy, stark white head begins to form.  When the pour is completed the body of the pilsner is full of tiny bubbles that would give Don Ho a reason to sing. While the head attains a good two fingers, the froth’s staying power is short lived and diminishes to about the width of a couple nickels.

The aroma is malt forward with the smells of bread and grain with a slight hop backend slightly more reminiscent of lemon than other common citrus odors.  

Flavors of grain carry across the tongue as the beer is consumed, with a nice generic citrus and grassy backend that leaves the palate wet and clean. This medium to light bodied pilsner, while ultimately very drinkable, does leave a very slight acrid aftertaste that I could do without, but this beer is a wonderful way to pass time as the sun and the end to the work week bares down on innocent Texans.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ruination IPA by Stone Brewing Company

Hola people!

Today has been a fairly even keeled day for Pope Crisco, filled with an early outing to have his mother’s car detailed, an early afternoon of getting a few loose ends tied up, and a fairly pleasant interview this afternoon, that hopefully will turn into a job that pays well and appears to be a fun place to work.

This evening my wife made a wonderful salmon with barbeque rub and a quinoa salad, and now I have what promises to be a quality beer in Stone Brewing Company’s Ruination IPA that boasts on the bottle that it is “a liquid poem to the glory of hops.” Given the brewery in question I have little doubt that it wont live up to the claim, but the proof is in the beer.

The beer pours a wonderful straw color, with a healthy amount of stark white head formation, only slightly less aggressive than the last beer I had from this brewery.  Lacing is equally impressive.

Scents of grapefruit dances with a nice bready smell, both balanced against each other on the nose. 

With the first rush of beer on the tongue the grapefruit flavor of the hops are on the forefront, bringing a nice dry, citrus bitterness. As a crescendo of bitterness builds, just before the point of sharpness becoming overwhelming, a nice malt backend subverts the creation of acridity and brings out a nice warm sweetness and additional orange zest essence.

I do have to say that Stone’s Ruination is perhaps one of the best American IPAs that I’ve had to date, finding a means to create a super hoppy beer, but reigning it back just before it leaps off the cliff of drinkability and enjoyability.  


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Brewhouse Brown by Real Ale Brewing Co

Well, Sunday is coming to a close, and I am finishing out a week of ups and downs with another beer. Keeping it local this time, I am drinking a Brewhouse Brown, by the Real Ale Brewing Co out of Blanco, TX.

The beer pours a deep and dark reddish brown hue and while it has a clarity showing lots of active CO2, it is really own discernable when put next to a desk lamp. The head is lacking in height, but the dimes worth of head that remains after the initial pour is hardy and creates a wonderful lacing as the beverage disappears.

The aroma of the ale is warm and bready with a slight caramel note.

As the first mouthful of the Brewhouse Brown Ale is consumed, there is a nice medium full flavor of roasted nuts and burnt caramel. No substantial hop or citrus flavors are present, but a coffee bitterness does develop, adding depth to the malty goodness on the front end.

This sampling of Real Ale’s brown ale is what I would define as a quintessential Texas beer, exhibiting the best attributes of German and Czech brewers. In contrast with the English influence on beer seen in hop forward brews from the West and East Coasts, Texas breweries, and this beer in particular, work with malt as their medium of choice, giving grain instead of botanicals their opportunity to put their best foot forward.


Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale by Stone Brewing Company

Hope everyone is having a relaxing Sunday, I definitely made sure to enjoy this last day of the weekend.

After having a bit of lunch, a cheap but still tasty cigar, and worked on tweaking the layout on this blog, I picked out a bomber of Stone Brewing Company’s Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale and geared up for a good beer.

Pouring the ale a bit too vigorously a gargantuan, hazel hued head formed. Aside from forming easily, the head was also hearty in that it took quite a while for the frothy peak to subside to a manageable height.

The beverage itself was also visually stark. Being for the most part black with brown accents around the edges, the ale’s body obstructed the path of any traveling light.

Taking the frothy head to my nose, the aroma of hops rushed aggressively with strong pine and grapefruit scents.

The hop forward aroma prepares the palate for a similar experience, with a wonderful an upfront pine bitterness, As the full bodied flavor rushes across the palate coffee notes and likewise bitterness develop as an aftertaste. Furthermore, a nice toffee flavor develops as the tongue acclimates to the sharpness of the hop profile.

While I have had Arrogant Bastard Ale before, and recognize its quality, this wonderful beer is in fact sublime, and justifiably self-righteous!


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Brickhouse Toro

Well boys and girls the weekend is upon us.

After a week of internal family drama, and a handful of some promising and other not so promising job interviews this week, I am ready to enjoy some quiet time with a cigar and a brew or two. Because of scheduling conflicts I will have to miss out on the planned brewery tour at Rahr and Sons in Fort Worth, but due to heat and laziness on my part, sitting in front of the computer with the newest issue of Brew Your Own Magazine and a Brickhouse Toro suits me just fine.

The Brickhouse line of cigars is rolled by JC Newman Company, producers of a number of brands that dominate the super premium cigar market, including the likes of Arturo Fuente and Cuesta-Rey among others. The blend is Nicaraguan binder and fillers wrapped with a Havana Subido wrapper.

After the initial light of the stick is a natural tobacco sweetness that is accented by slight spice and woodiness when smoke is exhaled through the nose.

By the time the first third is burned through, the spiciness of this medium bodied cigar has picked up a lot of steam and sings with the suggestion of hints of nutmeg and coco.

By the midpoint of the cigar the spice subsides and develops a nice earthy and oak body, and stays pretty constant through the end of the smoking pleasure.

Never throughout any point in the cigar does any metallic or bitterness notes develop, making this medium strong and flavored cigar an excellent value at a little more than the five and change spent on it.

Happy smoking,
Pope Crisco

Friday, August 19, 2011

Saint Arnold's Weedwacker

Happy Friday congregation of the Intoxico, the defacto church of intoxicants,

Despite some setbacks earlier in the week, things are looking good for yours truly. Tomorrow I will have my fourth interview in 8 days, and if all things going according to plan, my brother, sister in law, wife, and I will be going to a local brewery’s tour of their facilities and enjoy a tasting of their offerings. Obviously if that works out, there will be a supporting post.

Tonight I decided to pop the cap off a bottle of a different Texas brewery’s beer, the beer from Houston’s Saint Arnold’s Brewery, one of Texas’ oldest craft breweries.

The beer is St. Arnold’s Weedwacker, a variation on their staple Lawnmower. Where both beers have the same ratio and types of malts and hops, Weedwacker replaces the Kolsch yeast from a hefeweizen strain. For what its worth, this is a favorite beer of my sister in law, and always on hand in my brothers fridge along side other local and national craft beers.

True to form, the beer pours out a pale yellow hue with a lot of sediment, making the brew cloudy.  The head that was formed with an aggressive pour quickly died down to one that was nonexistent in the glass.

Taking a healthy whiff off the top of the freshly poured beer there was a lot of generic citrus notes with a very slight, banana maltiness.

The citrus notes carried on the palate with a medium bodied tasty orange and lemon peel zest flavors that match an equally medium bodied bitterness that was quite refreshing. Once the upfront citrus subsided, a nice, mild banana, a milder clove essence gave a roundness and slight backbone to the beverage.

With the combination of an overall, well balance brew, dry mouthfeel, and mild to medium flavor profile this beer is a wonderful summer brew that can stand on its own, and cleanse the palate when enjoying a fine meal.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Stormcloud IPA by Rahr & Sons

Well, I hope everyone is doing well, and drinking quality libations this afternoon. Today I am gearing up for the short drive to Rahr & Sons Brewery, located in Fort Worth, TX for a tasting and tour of their brewery this weekend by enjoying the first taste of their offerings via a six-pack of their Stormcloud IPA.

With an aggressive dispensing a wonderful amount of head was created. While this frothy cloud of a head is impressive, it dies down significantly, but in its wake leaves a thin head with lots of robust lacing.  Tucked under this head is a crystal clear light copper hued beverage with oodles of active carbonation.

The aroma coming off the beer is forward with generic citrus accented by a sweet matiness. 

Once consumed, the flavor of lemon zest flavor is prominent, but slightly tempered by a malt body. Unfortunately after the extreme hop bitterness, neither the citrus notes nor the light caramel flavors from the malt are as vigorous, creating what I feel is an unevenness that is ultimately detracting from full enjoyment of the beer. 

Ultimately I think there is more potential with the quality of the ingredients than is being realized, and would probably suggest that the (512) IPA, the only other IPA from Texas that I’ve had before, is a much better example of an American version of this style of beer.


La Bestia Aimable by Ranger Creek Brewing and Distilling

When I started drinking beer, I knew off the bat that I would be avoiding the mass produced pilsners that my peers where drinking, but I didn’t really have American craft beers on my radar. For the most part, if I was going to invest in a 9-10 dollar six pack, I was going to get a beer from the Untied Kingdom Germany, with the few exceptions from a few select breweries such as Anchor Steam or New Belgium.  Not really until I moved to Atlanta, did I begin to understand the wonderful opportunities that are available from local breweries, thanks primarily to the Terrapin Brewing Company. Now that I have returned to Texas, not only do I bring a affinity for locally produced ale, but the state has exploded with a much broader selection available. When I left I knew of three breweries in the state, Spoetzl, Saint Arnolds, and a very young Rahr and Sons. Today I can’t count the number of emerging breweries on the total of my toes and fingers.

It excites me to begin a Texas craft beer appreciation on with a beer that was gifted to me by Ranger Creek Brewing and Distilling, a 750 ml bottle of their Belgian Strong Ale, La Bestia Aimable, which I shared with my brother and fellow home brewer.

This is the most my brother would allow of him to be seen on the internet.
Ladybird though, in the background had no such problem. 

Pouring the bottle conditioned brew (or in other words it was bottled with active yeast cultures, which adds additional aging and carbonation after bottling) into two pint glasses, no real head formed, and exhibited only a very slight carbonation. The ale itself was a deep brown and cloudy with sediment.

I love to see a born on date on my beer. 

The nose was malt forward with coffee undertones.

On the palate, the forward essence was that of toffee with a nice sharp bitterness and sweetness. Once mellowed, the flavor profile becomes very wine like with spice, fruit and woodnotes, exciting my taste buds with a variety of flavor.

Combined with a syrupy mouthfeel, the full bodied beverage perhaps would have been best when paired with some red meat or bold cheese to help cleanse the palate after each sip, but was very enjoyable on its own.


Four Fantastic Things #4: My Last Week As Illustrated By Monty Python Clips

So far this week has done its fair share of beating me into the ground, and while I have the desire to share this with the world, I will pass. No one wants to hear someone bitch and moan. We all have problems, we don’t need those of others.

So instead of going into details, I will just post four Monty Python clips that address my major complaints without additional commentary. Enjoy! 

Monday, August 15, 2011

5000 Reasons To Be Thankful, Regretful

Well, despite my best efforts to create a dull, poorly written, barley comprehendible blog, people have continued to read it.

Today Intoxico hit the 5000 mark on page visits. Just a drop in the bucket for a blog or website, but I am proud of it none the less.


Pope Crisco

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ode to Mercy by Wild Heaven Craft Beers

After thoroughly enjoying Invocation, I am finding it impossible to not open up a bottle of Wild Heaven’s Ode to Mercy, an imperial brown ale, while relaxing and listening to John Coltrane this Sunday afternoon.

The beer pours a semi clear nut brown color, with a head that quickly dissipates from a strong crown to slight tiara atop the beverage.

The nose is malt forward with the aroma of dark chocolate and a slight bread or yeast twang. 

The dark, chocolate notes carry forward into the flavor with a  full bodied, warm nuttyness and oak notes. As the upfront malt subsides on the palate, a nice, understated hop spiciness becomes apparent, giving the malt nature of the beverage wonderful depth.

Everything about this beer works in creating a complex drinking experience, merging Old World malt centric ale with the hop hungry desires of the New World.
This beer has the profile of say, a Newcastle Brown Ale that has been tweaked for the palate of the American craft beer drinker.

I cannot recommend this beer enough.


Invocation by Wild Heaven

When I was on my way out of Atlanta I had picked up a sample of beers that where getting a lot of good press, tell she who must be obeyed that I just wanted to have some craft beer to drink in Texas indicative of my home in Georgia.  As well, on the trip west I picked up a few more local brews to critique, leaving me with a fair amount and good variety of brews to drink. I made a resolve to purchase no more beer till a serious dent was made in the recent acquisitions.

Somehow though, I got distracted and ended up procuring more beer from breweries, these in the lone star state this weekend, earning me a number of looks from my wife who continues to see beer pile up in the fridge and in various boxes around the house. To gain good karma from my better half, I have promised to get through the transported bottle before cracking a “longhorn bottle,” the moniker which the Rahr and Sons Brewery refers to longnecks.

To begin my dissemination of the remaining maltose mixtures, I will start with the Belgian golden ale Invocation from Wild Haven Craft Beers

The beer pours out a nice, stark white and frothy head atop a light orange hued, slightly cloudy beverage. While the head is substantial when first poured, it does die down to a hardy layer about dime’s width.

Taking in the aroma of the freshly poured beer there is a fair amount of clove notes with a warm citrus accent.

Contrary to the smell of the spirit though, the front end of the brew is an orange peel bitterness rounded out with clove on the backend. Once the bitter citrus flavor subsides, a nice cinnamon like spiciness develops, as well a very mild pineapple like characteristic. There is a very slight alcohol hotness that is likely a result of the high 8.5% ABV, but I feel it would be overlooked if not being aggressively reviewed by the drinker.

After drinking a pair of these beers, I can say that the quality of the ingredients and the skill that crafted this beer to be excellent and on par with that of Terrapin’s, another local Georgian beer. Where Wild Heaven sets themselves apart is the ability to be full flavored with a medium bodied beer, which is more trying than simply turning up every aspect of a beers flavor up to 11.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Shiner Kosmos Reserve by the Spoetzl Brewery

To quote the immortal words of the artist Ice Cube, despite that this mornings breakfast had hog, “it was a good day.”

I started off the day after a long, uninterrupted night of sleep, followed by my favorite meal of breakfast burritos, and a deluge of phone calls from prospective employers.  At 5 I have a total of 3 in person interviews, an in depth phone interview, and pending to schedule another interview based off a phone interview completed today.

Throw in a decent cigar, and the prospect of pasta for dinner, and I am a happy fellow. What could make this better? Well, a good beer, obviously.

Forgetting about this one in the back of the fridge at the beginning of July I pulled a bottle of Shiner Kosmos Reserve by the Spoetzl Brewery, which the bottle defined as a “hop-jacked lager.”

Pouring the beer, again in the Shiner pint glass described in my last beer review, it looks like a lager. There is deep straw color that struggles to retain a slight white head, but is about with a lot of active carbonation lifting from the bottom of the glassware.

The aroma is nice and warm with a lot of bread and yeast notes in a primarily malt forward nose. 

With a dry mouth feel the palate is greeted with a wonderfully complex mixture of fruit notes on the front end. Hints of generic citrus with what I can best describe as an apple or pear flavor make a light and varied flavor with a light malt backend.

I might question whether I would call Shiner a craft brewery, and I still am hesitant to try or promote some of their varietals, but they definitely can craft very good, approachable beer.

Well,  I wont be surprised if I see that the lights of the Goodyear Blimp reads that Pope Crisco is a pimp after such a good day, more beer is always on the horizon.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Shiner Oktoberfest By the Spoetzl Brewery

Howdy partners!

Well, I have been back in Texas for a little bit more than a week, and things are going dandy here. I have gotten into a new routine that includes thinking a lot about new content and trying to find more venues to increase readership, apply for jobs, helping my mother around the house, and getting a fair amount of Texas sun by the pool (also known as a cement pond). One thing that has been lacking though has been the presence of a Texas brewery’s product up for review on Intoxico! Luckily today I was in need for a beer that would act as a good base for cooking and enjoying bratwurst, and “needed” to buy a six-pack of something that wasn’t an American India Pale Ale or American style Belgian beer (I stocked up on favorites before leaving Georgia.)

While a lot of smaller Texas breweries were represented at the grocery store I found myself at this morning, I ultimately went with the larger Spoetzl brewery’s Shiner Oktoberfest. Really, when it’s August, and 107 degrees in the shade, who isn’t thinking about fall?

Pouring out into a favorite Shiner Bock pint glass that reminded me of home, specifically the home that I have returned to, the beer pours a wonderfully clear golden copper color. A nice white formed at a thickness of about half a finger, but quickly died down to about to that of a dime. The clarity helped accent a ton of active carbonation in the brew.

As consistent with the style, the nose is sweet and malty accented by slight hop bitterness.

An adherence to the facet of the marzen fashioned beer continues in the flavor of the beer. Being medium-to-medium full, caramel sweetness, likely produced with dark malt, is the principal flavor, with slight citrus undertones adding some complexity. A nice, also slight, hop bitterness remains on the palate as an aftertaste.

While there are a few Shiner varieties that I have been less than impressed with, the quality of this beer, and several others, bring a background of Czech and German brewing to American beer drinkers who are inundated with that of an English tradition from our craft breweries.

Variety is good, and quite often there is “nothing finer than a Shiner.”


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Lazy Magnolia’s Southern Pecan Nut-Brown Ale


Well, it has been a full week as a Texan again, and things are plodding along as best as to be expected in the current state of the economy. A few callbacks have been received from various employers, and with a little luck those will turn into a paycheck or two soon.

As a primer for a dinner with my brother and my sister in law, and, well, just to be lazy on a Sunday afternoon, I am enjoying a bottle of Lazy Magnolia’s Southern Pecan nut-brown ale, brewed in Kilh, Mississippi.

The color of the “smooth and sweet, English style ale” is a dark reddish brown hue. Although a significant head formed after an aggressive pour, any semblance of carbonation dissipated rather quickly.

Nose of this beer is sweet, syrupy, and somewhat reminiscent of cola.

The first sip opens with sweetness and a carbonation that, despite the lack of a visual indication of such, somewhat stings the palate. Bright citrus notes without bitterness open on the tongue, and then a very deep, sweet pecan flavor.  Unfortunately on the back end an unpleasant alcohol aftertaste develops quite quickly that destroys what limited enjoyment could be found in the beverage.

In my opinion I would pass on this beer. Abita Brewing out of Louisiana produces their own Pecan Ale that is much more rounded and available, not to mention I am sure other breweries also produce another variant that has the potential to be better than the offering from Lazy Magnolia.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Grand Marnier by Ted's Cigars

Hope everyone is having a great Friday evening. This evening I felt that after a nice large meal of Tex-Mex, and a margarita followed by a Mexican cervaza, the evening was primed for a nightcap of tobacco. Having a lot of citrus aspects of the meal beforehand, I felt it fitting to follow it up with a similar flavor profile, and went strait for the Grand Marnier cigar by Teds Cigars, the third in the sampler of cigars recently obtained.

Having reviewed and enjoyed their Hopz cigar yesterday,  I was looking forward to being pleasantly surprised with a subtle infusion of the nontobacco flavoring, and prior to firing up the cigar, not detecting any real obvious casing, things were looking good.

The prelight draw brought some of the casing to light, with a bitter citrus note carried on the back of the flavor of raw tobacco.

Expecting good things based of impression from the bitter hops, hoping bitter orange liquor will add a similar dimension on flavor.  Exhibiting a tight draw, a clip cut slight up the belicoso’s head quickly cured the ailment.

Once the cigar was lit, the medium full body was of an earthy nature rounded out by a slight orange peel flavor that became more prominent throughout the cigar.  This impression of the cigar stayed strong throughout the first two thirds of the cigar. With about two inches remaining a generic spice develops and becomes progressively concentrated the longer the cigar was smoked.

In my opinion the cigar exhibited what any manufacture that decides to produce a flavored cigar should strive for, harmony between the flavoring and the natural product base. Far too often it seems casings are used to obstruct the flavors that make cigar smoking the enjoyable and refined hobby that it can be, and neither provide the tobacco flavor nor a good infused flavor balance.

The Hopz and Grand Marnier cigars should be the benchmarks for tobacco coupled with the flavors of food and spirits.

Happy smoking,
Pope Crisco

Monk's Revenge By Terrapin Brewing Co.

Kicking off with the very strait forward and benchmark style of the double IPA from Red Brick,  for IPA Day, another Georgia beer followed up with a bit of a curve ball on the India Pale Ale style.  Hailing from Athens, GA, Terrapin’s first showing of the night was Monk’s Revenge. Part of their “Monster Beer Tour,” the Belgian India Pale Ale is a high ABV beer that appears to have been brewed with Belgian yeast.

The body exhibiting a copper hue, the head was thin, but exhibited excellent lacing qualities as the beer was consumed.

An aroma of hops initially greets the olfactory glands, but is quickly inundated also with a banana and clove backend.

On the initial consumption in this beer there is the hop bitterness that one expects from an American India Pale Ale. As the sharp carbonated syrup like beverage washes over the tongue the banana and clove flavors one expects from in a Belgian triple becomes apparent. In the mix with the citrus, these fruit flavors develop a flavor reminiscent of natural cherries.

As the bitterness subsides, the beer developes into a more traditional Belgian banana and clove mélange with a touch of cloying sweetness.

As the night progressed I had a few more Terrapin bottles, uncapping several bottles of Hopsecutioner and Hop Karma Brown IPA, exploring the wonderful play that this brewery fills its dance card with different combinations hops, malts and yeasts.


Pope Crisco

Brick Mason Double India Pale Ale By Red Brick Brewing Company

Well, I hope every one of my readers had an enjoyable IPA day yesterday. Personally. I did, too bad I enjoyed it a bit too much before having an opportunity to write up the reviews of the two beers I enjoyed for the first time last night. Luckily though, I took notes with ink on paper to act as a placeholder for my thoughts on the two new brews as my wife occupied herself with our shared for computer for the moment (FYI, laptop keyboards and spaghetti sauce don’t mix).

The first bear of the night was a recent released from Red Brick Brewing Co, based just outside Atlanta, GA, their much-lauded Brick Mason Double IPA.

Pouring the ale into a pint glass obtained on one of the several tours of their shop, the beer was a rich orange color with amber notes, and sported an off white head with a light orange tint. The head was fluffy and sticky, creating gorgeous lacing as the beer was consumed.

The aroma of the beer was hop forward, with floral a leaning.

With the first sip the palate is hit with a deluge of floral hop bitterness. As the tongue begins to cope with the robust hoppiness bright flavors of orange peel become apparent as a light caramel backend develops.

Hands down this has to be the best beer to come from Red Brick since I’ve lived in Atlanta, and was an excellent beginning to National IPA Day.


Pope Crisco

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Hopz Craft Beer Cigar by Ted's Cigars

Happy (or should i say hoppy) IPA day, readers!

In the beer world, perhaps nothing has been more in vogue than the transition to hoppier, bitterer beers, benchmarked by the style of India Pale Ales, a style that originated as a means to preserve beer for British troops as they occupied India.

Aside from allowing the Western oppressors a pint as they occupied the lands of a sovereign people, for beer it opened a new level of complexity and variety in their beverage of choice.

For the first installment of my hop forward day, because opening a beer at breakfast is frowned upon in my household, I decided today would be the most appropriate day to smoke the Hopz cigar recently provided to me by the manufacturer, Ted’s Cigars.

The toro, measuring 6 by 50, comes beautifully packaged in a plastic tube adorned with a beer label like graphics adorned with images of hop cones, and is likewise banded. The cigar itself is rolled impeccably in a nice dark, natural Cameroon wrapper, bound with a US Connecticut binder, and filled with tobacco from the Dominican Republic.  

The prelight aroma of the cigar was predominately that of tobacco, accented with the unquestionable air of the centennial hops coming strongest from the foot of the cigar.

Upon the initial light the cigar started off with a nice generic spice, but no real hop flavor, which I was expecting to be overwhelming, until the first half inch of the smoke. When the hop infusion became apparent however, it worked exceeding well in adding complexity to the flavor.

Where on the front end you had a good spicy base, the hops added a refreshing pine note that somewhat cleansed the palate to experience more tobacco goodness.

At about the cigar’s halfway point, the stick transitioned into more of an earthy base, overlaying the spice and pine notes enjoyed previously.

The cigar burnt evenly and slowly throughout my enjoyment of the cigar, and given the nice medium to medium full profile of the cigar was incredibly decent.

I cant say this cigar wowed me, or that this would be something I would keep in regular rotation, but it was very good, and worth the occasional indulgence. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Homebrew #5 Chocolate Goat Coffee Stout

A little more than a month ago I began brewing this chocolate stout with a recipe put together by the staff of Hop City, an Atlanta beer and wine purveyor that offers some of the best brewing equipment and ingredients in the I285 perimeter. Coffee from a local coffee shop called Dancing Goats was added prior to bottling, giving the beer its name, Chocolate Goat.

Overall I am pleased with the beer that is coffee forward with slight chocolate backend. Heavy on malts, almost no hop bitterness is present, however on all of my home brewed beer there is a slight aftertaste that I wish wasn’t there, despite it being very light. Perhaps this is a side effect of the use of malt extracts as opposed to all grain brewing? I don’t know.

Hopefully the beer will develop more, being only about 10 days old since bottling. Time will tell. For those who I have given samples, feel free to pop a top for a tasting. I am hopeful you’ll like my result.


Teche Brewing Co LA-31 and Convington's Bayou Bock (I Think These Beers Were Brewed With Swamp Water)

During my stop in Louisiana last week, as well as enjoying the locally crafted Abita beers, I picked up a couple six packs of locally produced brews not available to myself previously and likely not found out of the state, Bayou Teche Brewing company’s LA-31 Pale Ale, and Convington’s Bayou Bock. (Other than being somewhat limited in availability, also the prospect of being sober for a week while staying with in laws prompted me to sample these locally crafted beers.)

Most intrigued with the selection from Bayou Teche, based on the recent winning of sliver in the “World Beer Championship” (whatever or whoever that is) per the Advocate newspaper based out of Lafayette, LA It was the first of the two local beers to be popped. .

True to the style, the beer poured a clear, light amber color, and formed a light, white head that dissipated quickly after being poured.

The Aroma of the beer was malt forward with a slightly bitter backend that reminded me of a macro pilsner with a touch more depth.

Taking the first sips, the beverage was respectable, although not spectacular, with medium bodied caramel maltiness and a sharp bitterness that reminded me of a raw hop or pine flavors.  Once I stopped drinking for a moment, though, a pronounced acrid aftertaste developed that detracted from the drinking enjoyment.

If I had a choice between this or any other nationally available pale ale, this would be far from my second, third or even fourth choice. I guess there is no accounting for taste.

While the first beer of the trip was less than I had expected, the second, the Convington Bayou Bock, was well below my expectations of even a macro lager.

The beverage pours out a slightly cloudy, straw color, which is a bit light for a traditional bock, and fails to form any significant head.

Also at odds with a bock beer, the nose is very bitter and astringent in a manner of a lemon or grapefruit that has turned south of ripe. This lacking introduction is indicative of the beverage itself , failing to meet the malt forward criteria of the bock, and bock varients, style.

I rarely say to avoid a beer outright, but this is one of those beers that exceeds that distinction.  If you’re willing to pay to have it shipped to you, I am happy to mail you the last bottle. You can email me at to work out the logistics.

Happy Drinking,
Pope Crisco 
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