Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Revolver Brewing Blood and Honey

Finding the right beer for the moment or meal can sometimes be a well-executed plan, or can come together as if by divine inspiration. While I would love to give credit to myself or a craft beer deity, chance likely had more to do with the combination of Revolver Brewing’s Blood and Honey with a late breakfast (that I refuse to call brunch.) As I enjoyed a mélange of sausage, egg, cheese, and salsa, nestled in a tortilla on my mid-week day off, I thirsted for fermentables, and rummaged my decimated beer stores for a suitable ale. Hiding behind a carton of soy milk sat a lone bottle of the first brew bottled by the Granbury, TX  brewery, once lost, but not forgotten.

The beer pours out a light straw hued color, cloudy and bursting with carbonation. A resilient, puffy, white head forms, adhering to the side of the pint with each tip of the vessel.

The essence of the aroma stands true to the ingredients of the brew. Sweet tones of honey, floral citrus, and malt are prominent, and are augmented with clove, and a slight spiciness.

When consumed, the ale imparts a light bodied, full flavored sweetness ranging from honey to a deeper brown sugar, while a refreshing tartness and bitterness added by hops and citrus zest balances the profile. On its own, the beer is really good, but the savoryness of the eggs, cheese, and sausage accentuated a wonderful mimosa like essence of this beer.

The closest beer I’ve had to this ale is Shiner’s Ruby Redbird. While it has its fans, I have to say that the execution of a unique citrus element in the brewing of the beer does not strike better  a balance, and isn’t nearly as enjoyable as Revolver’s Blood and Honey. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Ranger Creek’s Mesquite Smoked Porter

Well it’s Tuesday, and being the predictable, domesticated man boy that I am, I spent  my mid-week day off with some light cleaning, and heavy duty Sid Meyer’s Civilization playing, peppered with a craft beer or two. Today’s review will look at bottle of Ranger Creek’s Mesquite Smoked Porter that’s been sitting in a cool dark place for the last twelve months. 

 Decanting a beer shouldn’t be too hard for me, being a seasoned veteran of the sobriety wars, however this black as night ale created copious amount of cappuccino colored carbonation (alliteration, motherfuckers!) While in most beers I would give this a few jeers, this  ale is bottle conditioned, and I think helps  give a beer a better mouth feel than the standard forced carbonation most commercially produced beer goes through, craft or not. A somewhat more difficult pour is an easy trade-off for a better beer drinking experience.

On the nose there is a nice roasted coffee and dark chocolate essence accentuated with a slight leather and floral aspect. Now, I first had this beer at the first annual Dallas Winter Warmer (you might have seen me use the taster in prior reviews), where I felt the smokiness was just too much. Now I had it at the end of a brewfest, so suffice to say my taste buds and level of inebriation might have caused an overworked palate, or perhaps the year of bottle conditioning has tamed that tiger. But from this bottle, while the smokiness is still upfront, it seems more in balance with the dark roasted malt and subtle hoppiness. While I have had a few smoked porters, this one has a unique, but not unpleasant, light sourness.

 The finish of the Mesquite Smoked Porter is dry and leaves a somewhat floral, dark roasted coffee aftertaste. These flavors seem to concentrate the more this beer is consumed.

This beer would be perfect with a nice plate of chopped brisket, as its smokiness would obviously pair well with the smoked meat, while also standing up to the sweetness and tang of a good barbeque sauce. 
Without the glory that is barbeque, it still holds its own as an enjoyable ale. I would highly suggest this to the Texas craft beer consumer.   

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tramp Stamp by Clown Shoes

Howdy strangers.

Life continues on for Pope Crisco de Llamas. Personal tragedy has kept me from turning attention to the blog, for I had to trade the time spent in contemplation of consumables to my mother’s failing health. I don’t know if I will go into more detail here, for the specifics can be found as drunken ramblings on twitter (follow @theIntoxico). The good news is that now I have time to give the attention it and you deserve. 

With the wife getting ready for a new school year guiding young Catholics in writing and literature, I have this Tuesday afternoon free, and a thirst only quenched by popping a top off of a craft beer or two.
Brewed under contract by the Mercury Brewing Company out of Massachusetts, today’s brew du jour is Clown Shoes’ Tramp Stamp, a Belgian style India Pale Ale boasting Chambly yeast, Amarillo and Centennial hops, and a bit of sweet orange peel. 

Decanting the 24 ounce bomber into my 4 ounce tulip glass, a burnt orange body appears, capped by a nice, just every so slightly off-white head.  Tiny, delicate bubbles of carbon dioxide swim in a semi cloudy body of beer, a cloudiness that gets murkier the more the bottle is emptied, and the yeast bed formed on the bottom of the bottle is agitated.  While already visually enticing, the icing on the proverbial cake is a wonderful, tacky lacing. 

The nose on the beer is more IPA than Belgian. While there is a definite fruitiness on the back end, front and center is a nice, sap-like, pine essence. 
This pine essence, paired with an aggressive bitterness, is most apparent on the palate on the first wash of suds over my taste buds. Initially, from this, I was expecting more IPA than Belgian, which isn’t in itself a bad thing, for I love a great hoppy beer, and my track record enjoying the esters of Belgian and Belgian style beers has historically been hit and miss. 

Luckily for me, my taste buds, and those of anyone blessed with a bottle of this beer, the hoppiness was not so extreme as I finished the first snifter of ale. As my mouth acclimates to the tacky brew and hops, the beer’s Belgian aspects really develop to a wonderfully complex play between the citrus and pine aspects of the rhizomes and a nice apple and pear like fruitiness of the yeast.  

Overall, this beer is just excellent. It’s complex, hoppy, and about as solid as a lead weight. The only way to improve this beer is to make it more sessionable, because despite my level of intoxication, my only desire is to have another. 



Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Real Ale Brewing Company’s Brewers’ Cut #1, Signature Hop Pale Ale

It’s been a nice, long, relaxing day here at Casa de Crisco. A power outage thwarted my plans for getting stuff done around the house, and I somehow took it easy despite having a few tasks on my plate.  To reward my day of sloth, I am having a pre-dinner cocktail and letting Pandora do its thing. 

The station, Vampire Weekend, the beer, Real Ale Brewing Company’s Brewers’ Cut #1, Signature Hop Pale Ale, featuring Hercules hops.

The American pale ale, when decanted into a pint glass, has a nice burnt orange color to it with a very slight tint showing up in the mostly white head. Carbonation is very active, and it takes an experienced hand not to pour too aggressively and end up with four inches of cloudy foam atop one’s beer. Once the beverage settles the head is about a finger thick, and as fluffy as a cirrocumulus cloud.

The olfactory glands engaged, the beer exhibits a bready aroma, accented by a fair amount of lemon zest.

With gusto I take my first sip of the ale, and I am greeted with the hop forward presence of citrus zest and a sticky sweet mouthfeel. Pondering and sipping further the flavors developing on my palate remind me of iced tea, over brewed and cut with water, lightly sweetened, and then being adulterated further with the lemon juice that comes from the plastic lemons in super market produce aisles.

Now, this might suggest that I think the beer bad or undrinkable, but that’s not the case. The beer is drinkable. More than anything though, this beer feels like it falls short of the quality that Real Ale brings out in their regular production, much less something labeled as their “Brewers’ Cut.”

Happy drinking!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Hops And Grain "The One They Call Zoe" Pale Lager

Days off for myself are usually distilled into a balance of work and play. I like to spend my mornings toiling with laundry, working on illustrations, and chipping away at whatever projects I might have had to put on the back burners. One crutch modern people have with doing most tasks though is that of electricity. 

While it is true humans have lived eons without the ease of electric living, currently we have built our domiciles on the assumption that it will always be available for us to consume. This hubris leads us into situations that once power is denied us, our ability to complete chores becomes quite limited. As inconvenient as this is, it does also allow an opportunity to sit back and reflect.

With a cold front moving across North Texas, I pulled a beer from the chill chest and walked out onto my apartment’s small patio. The beer du jour is a can of Austin’s Hops And Grain pale lager “The One They Call Zoe.”

Dispensing the ale from its aluminum vessel into my pint glass, a quite beautiful beer is exposed.  As the tangerine hued ale pours against the sides of the pint glass a plume of carbonation fervently builds. A perfect head forms, never appearing too weak or thin, and never builds too aggressively, building to at most a finger’s thickness, and during consumption never dissipating to anything less than half a finger.   It is a head with presence and fortitude, one that laces the sides of my glass with aggression.

As pretty a beer it is, its aroma is an enticing perfume for the craft beer drinker with a hop forward nose. Pine and grapefruit mingle atop a yeasty, bread-like foundation.

The first sip of Zoe, as best described by my wife, is like drinking a grapefruit soda. While offering a sweet body, a mildly bitter citrus and pine brightness and bitterness bring wonderful balance and ease of drinkability.

The brewer’s skill has created a “Goldilocks” ale, threading a needle of flavor. Sweet malts sing, but it’s not too sweet. Hops are unmistakable, but bitterness is restrained.  

The beer’s packaging describes itself as affable,  and given its insanely well balance flavor profile, and wet mouthfeel, it is undoubtedly so. This is a beer that can be enjoyed in quantity, on its own, or paired with just about any beer worthy meal.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Real Ale Brewing Company Brewer's Cut #2 Black Quadrupel

Hello Malt Mavens and Hop Heads. Life has been somewhat slow and repetitive in my corner of the world. My mother’s cancer is in remission, the daily grind that the Pope endures to put craft beer on the table continues without drama, and Spring in North Texas is showing its mild, albeit fleeting, head.

To welcome Spring, and clear out an ever growing reserve of craft beer, I will be focusing on beers of the Lone Star State from some of my favorite breweries since my move almost two years ago. I am also hoping to get back into regular publishing of reviews, shooting for one or two a week as opposed to the one post a month or less that has defined my recent attention to my beer duties.

To saddle up this focus on Texas craft beer, I have chosen the Real Ale Brewing Company’s second release under their “Brewer’s Cut” series, a Belgian style “Black Quadrupel“ brewed with Belgian black malt.
Pouring the chocolate hued ale, careful to not exceed the capacity of the sole chalice in my barware collection, I get a small amount of head and active carbonation from my pour. 

The aroma from the freshly decanted beer brings bold, but unsurprising notes. Chocolate and coffee play on the edge of roasted malts, as the Belgian yeast adds a slight fruitiness to the party. 

Now, to be honest, I was really looking forward to reviewing this beer since enjoying it last November on tap at the Dallas Winter Warmer, a local beer festival. I’m not one that usually identifies as a fan of beers brewed with Belgian yeast strains,  but this offering twirled my moustache from first sip. 

The roastiness of the malt, bringing a nice chocolate base, combined with the dark currant and fruit notes from the yeast strain, make an ale that offers the best flavor profiles from dark beer and red wine. Allowing the ale to warm up brings out more of the fruitiness, making it quite tasty at any range of temperatures.

My brother, who is bonkers for Belgian and Belgian style brews, often professes he would consume nothing but this brew if it were more than just a one shot from the Blanco, TX brewery. I cannot doubt nor blame my brother for his fanaticism for it is a beer that is making me take another, more open look at Belgian inspired intoxicants.

Happy Drinking!

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