I hope that 2011 was a good year for everyone. For myself, it brought a lot of changes, including some for the better, and others not so much.
In celebration of change, and of my home state, I felt it would be interesting to look back at the new and unique beers that my relocation offered over the past year, and list some of my favorite Lone Star brews (which ironically does not include any beer from Lone Star Brewery).
For those unfamiliar with this series of posts, this is not a “best of,” but just a list of recommended consumables, and is not arranged in a particular order relative to my opinion of quality.
#1 Sailing Santa by Saint Arnold’s Brewery (Houston, TX)
This seasonal bomber from the “first Texas craft brewer” is probably a bit difficult, if not all together impossible, to obtain as I write this review in early February. Combining their also delicious Elisa IPA with their regular Christmas seasonal offering, St. Arnold has created a wonderful example of a complex hoppy beer without overpowering the beverage with hop bitterness.
I thought that I had previously reviewed this beer formally, but it appears I was mistaken. Perhaps, with a little luck, I will be able to get another bomber as 2012 comes to a close.
#2 (512) India Pale Ale (Austin, TX)
This was one of the first beers, upon my return to Texas, to really get me excited about the Texas Craft and Micro beer scene. First sampled at the Ft. Worth Gingerman, the beer is a wonder mélange of citrus hops with a nice, warm malt backend. Exhibiting a strong grapefruit body, it was love at first sip, and depressing to know I can’t find this in bottles as of yet.
#3 Pecker Wrecker by Rahr and Sons Brewery (Ft Worth, TX)
Although I feel that Rahr and Sons’ normal production line, while still quality beer, is not the most impressive to come out of the state, their big beers have been nothing but absolutely wonderful. Usually I bemoan spending 9 bucks on 22 ounces of beer, however Rahr’s offerings have always been worth the extra cost, and are examples of what joy and wonder can be created with excellent know how and quality ingredients. Pecker Wrecker, an imperial pilsner, has been my favorite of these commitments to fine brewing.
#4 Real Ale Brewing Company’s Coffee Porter (Blanco, TX)
Diverging from the hop-forward beers of the previous three recommendations in this list, Real Ale Brewing Company’s collaborative effort with Katz Coffee Roasters produces a wonderfully complex and full bodied explosion of chocolate malts, coffee, and slight floral hop flavors on the palate.
This is another beer which, while I loved the hell out of it like the above-mentioned Sailing Santa, was consumed during a time that I was neck deep in a wading pool of my own self-doubt and loathing. Expect to see this beer reviewed in greater depth later in 2012.