Saturday, December 24, 2011

Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer by Rahr and Sons Brewing

Among the things I’ve asked Santa for, there is a tin Rahr and Sons sign that I've had my eye on, but alas, my wife will not let me spend money on making her space look like a bar. The only good thing that this restriction has created is offering more money to spend on the wonderful beers this company produces. While I have not always been so kind to some of their normal production line, this company produces some of the most exceptional one offs and seasonal brews this drinker has experienced.

The newest, and perhaps my favorite of these beers I’ve experienced and loved from first sip is their recently released Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer Dark Winter Ale.

While I liked the chocolate notes that predominated the non-aged varietal, the addition of the bourbon flavors from the aging process has given the beer a range of complexity that eclipses the regular production Winter Warmer. The richness and spiciness of the bourbon accentuates the sweet cocoa aspect of the beer, making consumption a very decadent experience.

I am a bit frugal, so it takes a fair amount of internal debate for me to drop 8-9 bucks on a bomber, but the consistency and quality of Rahr and Sons special brews make it easy for me to outlay the cash.

If there was a beer that saved Christmas, this would be my contender to one up the Snow Miser.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Winter Warmer by Rahr and Sons Brewing Co

Howdy folks, I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season thus far. Christmas day is a week away, presents have been bought and wrapped, and now it’s time for the part of the holidays that I enjoy the most: inebriation. 

To begin the much needed greasing of the holiday spirit, I made a trip to Central Market, a kind of epicurean grocery market that offers some of the best variety of craft beers in the Texas market. There I picked out a few tasty beverages, including a six-pack of Rahr and Sons’ Winter Warmer, and a bomber of the same brew that has been aged in bourbon barrels.

Tonight I have selected the 12-ounce offering, and will likely compare it to the premium variation tomorrow evening.

Pouring out the contents of the bottle with an aggressive tilt, the beer settles without generating much of a head. What does form is less than a dimes thickness, and is a nice tan color.

An aroma of deep chocolate and cinnamon speaks volumes, generously suggesting the malt bomb that is about to hit the drinker’s lips. With a syrupy and velvety mouthfeel, the very pronounced flavor of cocoa indulges the taste buds. Rounding out the malt forward front end of the beverage, a nice warm, slight coffee flavor and medium full bitterness give complexity and round out a wonderful winter seasonal craft beer.

Any hard working elf would be happy to find this in their pint glass at the end of a day in drudgery under the oversight of St. Nick.


Full Moon Rye Pale Ale by Real Ale Brewing Company

Life is good knowing that I will have a job soon, and with another project making steady progress, I am not wanting for purpose and focus.  For the most part, I have decided to take this weekend easier than most, as I do not have the burdens of no employment or tile to move for a sibling, but instead a fridge full of beer that needs to be logged. 

To begin this weekend’s leisure, with a stomach full of carnitas and al pastor street tacos, it’s time for a post lunch, pre-siesta cerveza.  And what, pray tell, is on the beer menu today? It’s Real Ale Brewing Company’s Full Moon Rye Pale Ale.

As I tip the bottle over into a pint glass, a cloudy, honey colored ale with loads of active carbon dioxide pours out and forms a pretty, fluffy, and thin off-white head.

The aroma is slightly sweet and malt forward with hints of a warm, orange citrus mingled in the mix.

On the front end, there is a nice medium malt body, with the sweetness tempered by generic spice notes provided by the rye malt.  Following the balanced malt body, a slight, non-specific citrus-flavored bitterness adds additional depth to an already nuanced beverage.

Of the Real Ale Brewing Company’s selections that I’ve tried, this is the most solid and enjoyable that I have had to date, and that is saying something when all of the selections have been solid, straightforward examples of what locally produced craft beer can be.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Ale from St Arnold Brewing Co.

Well guys, with just 10 days left in the holiday season, I find myself with most of my Christmas presents purchased, several reviews still pending editing before uploading (my editor is a college professor, and is too busy correcting her students grammatical errors to address those of her husband), and a few beers to chill, consume, and review.

For the second winter/Christmas beer of the season for Intoxico to review, I have the Christmas Ale from Houston’s St Arnold Brewing Co.

The beer poured out a rich, deep, and true umber hue, with a good amount of floating sediment in the brew. I am not sure if there was an issue with the capping of this bottle, but the head formation was very minimal, in contrast to the healthy head that I recall from a bottle enjoyed earlier in the week.

An aroma of pine hops was foremost on the nose, with just a slight malt backend.

As suggested by the nose, a wonderful depth of hop bitterness was on the front of the palate, exhibiting pine notes accented with a lemon zest essence. Rounding out this medium bodied beer was a malt backend that carried some slight brown sugar flavor, cutting the hop forward bitterness.

All in all, this was a decent, well-produced ale that I will always keep an eye out for on the shelves when the holidays start to invade daily life. 

Shiner Holiday Cheer by the Spoetzl Brewery

Well guys, Thanksgiving has come and gone, and with the holidays coming at us like a shotgun of dread and disappointment, I felt it was a good time to get back into the swing of things on Intoxico. As the days get longer, and the nights colder, intoxication is a much needed facilitator to spending more time with extended family, and thus more time with everybody’s friend, alcohol. You can’t have the Christmas Spirit without the Spirit!

To begin the season, and to get back into the habit of review intoxicants, I will begin with one of the first seasonal beers to hit the shelves here in Texas since Oktoberfest left town, Shiner’s Holiday Cheer by our friends at the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, TX.

This beer, augmented with pecans and peaches during the brewing process per its label, pours out a clear, light amber color that seems tinted towards the red side of the spectrum. The light brown head starts out frothy and impressive, but quickly dissipates to only the faint memory of co2 buildup.

The aroma of the freshly poured beer is more fruit forward than of any malts or hops, reminiscent of strawberry soda or syrup.

As the nose suggested, the first sip is very sweet, with aggressive peach and strawberry like flavoring overpowering any generic beer or ale flavors. On the backend a not very pleasant nuttiness develops on the back of an acrid bitterness that leaves a bit much to be desired.

While I do like the brewers in Shiner to explore new brewing frontiers, I feel they have some issues with taking this enthusiasm and turning it into an enjoyable, well crafted beer.  They seem more interested in generating a marketing tool than brewing a good and unique, well-crafted product.


Texas Red Amber Lager by Rahr and Sons

Hello boys and girls.

Sorry for the prolonged hiatus from reviewing intoxicants, but given the schedule I have been carrying since October, the distraction of hockey and life, and a funk that has had a hold of me for the past several months, addressing the website has been put on the backburners. Consider this post the application of the pot on the mid range.  Down the pipe we have a few winter beers, and maybe the start of some whiskey reviews.

For the time being, seeing as I have my first Saturday in a while without the wife in tow, I have decided to take the free time to enjoy a beer or two, starting with Rahr and Sons’ Texas Red Amber Lager.

The beer pours out a nice, rich amber hue, and forms a quite impressive and hearty off white head. Despite an almost erotic beginning, the crown dies from about the width of a finger to that of a dime.

I am not sure why this is, but the regular production line from this brewery always has an odor that I would describe as wet or green grain, and this amber beer is no exception. In addition to this Rahr calling card, there is a nice malt forward nose, greeted and balance with a slight hop backend. 

As to be expected by the nose, the malt profile of the beer is upfront on the palate, but is followed by a sourness and bitterness that is not a favorite of this beer drinker. By about midway through the beer, this tang does subside to reveal a middle of the road amber beer that displays some decent caramel and cinnamon notes, but fails to hit the mark of the great or exceptional beer that this brewery produces in a number of seasonal and bomber offerings.

In short, while I believe in the products that this brewery releases, this offering feels forced onto the shelves next to much better representations of the brown and amber ale/lager style. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

St Arnold Brewing Co Elissa IPA

Well, another day is in the can, and another beer is needed to wash away the fatigue of a day spent in toil.

As my mother prepares one of my favorite meals, chicken fried steak, I have decided to pop the cap of another Texas brewed beer, Elissa IPA from our friends at the Saint Arnold Brewery, located in the parking lot known as Houston, TX.

The cap, while a twist off, wins at a feat of strength, and I must either give the beer up to the ages, or pull out a bottle opener to get at its contents. Once freed from its container, the beer displays its burnt-orange body, and slightly off-white head that dissipates without much fight.

Intermingled with the smell of hot grease from the kitchen, the nose is nice and hoppy, with a subtle floral presence.

The light mouth feel of the beer carries a less pronounced bitterness than the nose lead me to believe, but is still floral on the front end of this medium-bodied ale. On the backend, a nice honey like maltiness develops, as well as an orange essence that adds a delightful finish to the beer.

Overall this is a nice IPA that offers more to the malt-centric than to hop heads, bringing a strong and rich sweetness to a style of beer currently being pushed to the extremes of palatability in bitterness by other brewers. This beer is easy for me to suggest to the hop weary macro beer drinker.

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