Search This Blog


Wednesday, December 18

Pour Me: Cigar City Brewing + New Belgium

Sometimes it is tough being a wannabe beer connoisseur in central Texas. There are beers from both coasts that simply do not make it to the middle of the country where I live. Loads of breweries on the left coast come to mind, but the only east coast brewery that comes to the top of my head is Cigar City. I have heard so many glowing reviews of their offerings, I knew I had to try something, anything from them.

Well, to my surprise, I was cruising the beer isle, and spot this mash up. New Belgium AND Cigar City made a beer together?! I must try, like, now, I thought to myself. 

This ale is reportedly brewed with anaheim and marash chilies. I loves me some anaheim chiles. I have never heard of marash, though, but, in general, I have enjoyed the chile beers I have had before. This one would have to be decent, if not excellent. 

NB+CC pours a beautiful copper color, and has a creamy head. There is a lot of citrus pouring out from the head, though the chile smell, if there is one, is quite muted. Sipping this beer is an exercise in patience: there is a lot going on, and it is really dry. Citrus pops straight out of the gate, then is blunted by the chile kinda chalkiness. It is a process. I hate to use mouthfeel and mouth coating, but this beer qualifies for both, being heavy on the mouth coating, and packing quite a bit if mouthfeel. There are nice floral notes, but the chile used is really odd, and like I said, chalky. It is not really that great. 

I do not regret picking up this beer, and if I ever see anything else from Cigar City at my local beer isle, I will not hesitate to pick it up. It is just that this beer is not my cup of tea. Er, beer.  

Pour Me: Austin Beerworks Heavy Machinery

You know how on beer bottles and Rx meds they have a list of things to avoid doing, such as driving an automobile and such? Well, the most elaborate case of this is on a can of Austin Beerworks Heavy Machinery.

Let me highlight a few of the warnings:

"*austin beerworks suggest staying away from: aceteline torches, Godaddy, hydraulics, ice picks, KFC, Micro-Gravity, Oklahoma, Sing-a-longs, Teddy Ruxpin, Waffles, Zambones.

Also do not operate: one armed bandits, 2 live crew, three-legged races, four-man bobsleds

Best to avoid: Novelty condoms, The machine that makes lines down the center of the highway, bras, the flute, animated gifs, Speed-dial, Drill presses, bench presses, and Panini presses, time travel, dressage, bro-tazing, and we cannot be more serious about this one: twitter"

Yeah, probably all things best avoided whilst drinking this English IPA/Imperial IPA. It comes in a 4-pack of tallboy cans, one of my favorite packages. Sure, a sixer of beer is cool, but it is fun to haul home a 4-pack of tallboys. Add to that, it is from a local brewery, and it has to be a recipe for success, right?

Once you open up the heavy duty box, the next step is to check out the hilarious can. This is on par with Stone's comic wit. It makes drinking a Heavy Machinery pretty damn enjoyable. That's good because HM is just a so-so beer.

HM pours in a dark amber, which is in strange contrast to getting a copper color from a tap. The nose is a bit funky, like the beer picked up some odors from the fridge or something. Hops and malt are balanced to my nose, but there is a grassy note of hops. Maybe "musty" is the best word to describe the smell. Heavy Machinery hits the top of the tongue aggressively with hops and resin, then settles towards a general hop flavor. It is tangy, and is quite drinkable. The finish is bitter, to be sure, but a mild amount of malt follows, lending more of a balance than you may find in other imperial IPAs.

All that said, I prefer other IPAs when I am in IPA mode. Heavy Machinery is a solid beer, and at $8.99 for 4, it seems like a good deal, considering the amount of coin Deviant Daves costs. Not that you can really compare the two.

Monday, September 23

Pour Me: Ballast Point Sculpin IPA

For the most part, I do not put a whole lot of faith in beers that win awards. I like what I like, and while I respect my friends opinions on most beers, I find that trusting an expert panel to give you guidance is usually an exercise in futility. Sure, the judges pallets are far more sophisticated than mine, and that they know their stuff, for sure, but my tastes are mine, and I likes what I likes. So, with that in mind, I was somewhat surprised I enjoyed Sculpin IPA so, so much.

Sculpin IPA from Ballast point was the winner of "the World Beer Cup 2010 in the International Pale Ale category."I would have voted for it to win too. Alas, I will never be a judge because... Wait, what's stopping me? I could judge beers professionally! That would be the dream job...

Well, back to my actual job: Pour Me. I had never heard of Ballast Point before I tried this beer. While perusing the "beer cave" at my local five-and-dime, I saw a sixer of cans for Sculpin, and decided to pull the trigger. I was glad I did. This is probably the best beer that I have found at the corner store.

Sculpin is so good, in fact, that I neglected pouring it into a glass, and just shotgunned them. Well, not really, but it is good enough to just pop the tab, and take a long pull. Especially on a toasty day.

This IPA pours golden, with a significant amount of haze. There is a bit of head, that doesn't linger for long. Citrus fruits assault the nose, with a bit of alcohol on the end, the results of a nice and hoppy IPA. Taking a pull from the can means you are treated to a bit of the traditional can flavor: if you drank enough sodas as a kid, you know what I am talking about. It does not bother me in the least, but it can be off-putting to certain folks. There is a surprising amount of malts on the tongue, but it is quickly balanced with hops. The hops really bounce, and that is what I find makes Sculpin interesting. A nicely balanced beer, yet unique in its flavor profile. This is an IPA that most others should aspire to be.

At 7% ABV, Sculpin is really quite drinkable. That said, this is a bit on the higher end of the price scale for me, at close to $11USD. So, it is more of a treat than, say, a six pack of Fat Tire. There are some beers that just get drank, and beers like Sculpin, where it is a joy to savor ever last drop.

Tuesday, September 17

Pour Me: Stone's Götterdämmerung IPA

"The term Götterdämmerung is occasionally used in English to refer to a disastrous conclusion of events."

Stone Brewing is known for their constantly evolving beer styles. While I do enjoy the bizarre offerings from Dogfish Head, Stone's efforts seem to me to be more rewarding. Effectively, Stone makes beers that I am way more likely to pick up than an IPA with concord grape musk, or what have you. Still, I do enjoy Dogfish, but find Stone entices me much more. 

The last Stone brew that I tried was really fantastic, but that was quite a while back. Perhaps I have not have paid as much attention to the bomber isle at the store as I should. Well, when I saw this beer, I knew I must have it. The IPA's that I have been drinking lately have been canned, and have not varied much, so it was a treat to see this one.

Götterdämmerung IPA is quite tasty. Well, what did you expect from a hop-head who loves Stone's big, west coast beers? Well, I really enjoyed this IPA, and if you like bigger IPA's, you should give it a try. The nose on this one is very hoppy, and has some herbal notes that feign malt. It is an interesting combination. Citrus fruits and malts is odd, for sure, but in a good way. Götterdämmerung looks like any other IPA. I recently read about how to properly pour a beer, and totally forgot everything that the article suggested, as I was so eager to crack open this bad boy. It pours nicely, and has a deep golden color. The head vanished quick, probably because of my poor pour. The first thing that struck when I took a pull was pepper.

Seriously? Seriously, I noticed light heat from pepper. Perhaps there was something in my teeth? Could be. Anyway, aside from the pepper, it is very hop-forward, with the fruits that go along for the ride. There is a nice balance between the hops and malts, but this beer is dominated by fruit and floral flavors. At 9.5%ABV, you might expect it to be quite boozy, but it is not. That makes it quite drinkable, for what that is worth. 

Götterdämmerung IPA is a great beer, and I sincerely hope that it will be around at the liquor store for a while. I do believe I have found a beer that has broken me out of my Deviant Daves IPA rut. 

Tuesday, July 9

Pour Me: Stone's RuinTen IPA

Ruination, loosely defined, is total loss. Destruction. Wrack.* Stone's Ruination IPAs are all pretty destructive on the palate, but in a delightful way.** Stone has a nice reputation for being not so nice, and that is why I love their beers.

The very first time I had an Arrogant Bastard, I knew that something inside me had broken, and that I was better for it. What Fat Tire did for my drift into craft beer, Arrogant Bastard did for my full-tilt into crazy, nonsense beers. So, I will try any Stone beer, without any hesitation.

That is why I decided to pick up a bomber of RuinTen IPA. To quote the bottle, RuinTen is "A stage-dive into the mosh pit of hops." Sounds fun, right?! RuinTen is a tribute to the decade of Ruination that proceeded, and lives up, and surpasses the legacy of its IPA forefather. I think a quote from the Stone website sets the tone to expect from RuinTen:

"We packed a whopping five pounds of hops into each barrel, and cranked up the ABV to stand up to the hop onslaught. The results are glorious, and we know you'll rejoice in tasting this audacious gem of hoppy splendor once again. You're welcome."

Still with me? Good.

RuinTen pours a nice amber color, with a creamy head that actually sticks around nicely. The nose is quite complex, but I could identify fruit. Yeah, I am a great beer reviewer. There is also some nice spice, and the fruit is subdued and mellow. Cantaloupe came to mind. This beer is quite crisp on the tongue, but not as brutal as I thought it was going to be. It is very hoppy, but not what I would expect from a huge, west coast IPA. RuinTen has a nice body, and is entirely too drinkable for its 10.8%ABV.

This is a great Stone beer. Like the rest. You're welcome.

*according to google
**if you enjoy bitterness and hops

Monday, July 8

On Radio Silence

Well, blogging silence really.

Almost a year ago, life changed for me pretty dramatically. A good kind of dramatic, to be sure, but having a little tiny person in your life is tough. Especially when said person depends on you for just about everything, at all times. So, it's been quite a journey so far, and now that my lovely assistant and I have a handle (more or less) on our lives, I figured I should spend a bit of time hacking on the blog.

Proof 'n' Pudding is a delightful outlet, and I just recently realized that I need to spend a bit of time blogging so I don't go insane. It is fun to write about food, and especially the beers. Oh, the beers.

The plan is to devote a bit of time each week to keep Proof looking like an actual blog. So, I think my aim will be to post once a week, and see where I go from there. Hopefully I can achieve my heyday postings of yore again, but that will take time. Thankfully, the little wee one is a bit more self sufficient  and can actually keep herself entertained for a few moments, so I can snap some picks of the Bombay Chicken Salad I made last night (it was damn tasty) and new and exciting beers like the RuinTen from Stone.

So, cheers to that, and the future!

The Doctor

Monday, April 22

Pour Me: New Belgium's Rampant

Sadly, all my tulip glasses have bought the farm
Has there ever been a time when you were cruising the beer coolers in your local convenience store, and stopped, shocked, and saw something you have never seen before? Sure, the first time was when I saw a 4-pack of Steel Reserve. More to the point, how about a nice craft beer that you have not seen at your fancy-pants grocery store or mega-liquor emporium?

I was shocked, SHOCKED I SAY, when I happened to be in, looking for something not terrible to drink, and happened across this New Belgium Explorer series, Rampant. Mixed in with Fat Tire and Trippel was this new box of beer.

Rampant is an Imperial IPA. This is a surprising addition to New Belgium's typically Belgium-rooted style beers. This is no Abbey or Trippel, but it is not a West Coast IPA either. It is a unique IPA that is surprisingly tasty.

Rampant pours a nice honey-amber-copper color, just like most IPAs. The head is frothy at the onset, but quickly fades into oblivion. The nose is quite hoppy, as the label intones. This is a hop-forward beer, to be sure, and is pretty bitter. My wife took a swig and made the face. You know the face when someone wants to try something, but really didn't expect it to be what it is? Yeah, that face. Anyway, I like it. Rampant packs a punch of alcohol, followed by crisp dryness. Rampant leaves you wanting another sip.

Rampant was my convenience store surprise for the year.

Wednesday, April 3

Cutting Class: Cuts of Beef Infographic

I love love love infographics. Check out this one about cuts of beef.

I never knew the difference between flank and skirt steaks. Interesting, right?

Tuesday, April 2

Pour Me: Peter's Brand (Trader Joe's)

Oh, Trader Joe's. The wait for your grand opening in Austin is still a ways off, but I can wait, knowing that everything in the store will be a fun adventure of trial and error. Sure, the closest location to me is currently 60ish miles away in San Antonio. Is it worth the drive, down I-35 just to shop there? Absolutely not. But, if you take a vacation day, and make a very pleasant day trip, why not stop by?

So that is what my faithful compatriots did for Good Friday. While the highlight was absolutely TJ's, the Blue Star Brewing Company did have some excellent fish and chips. Also, the not-so-touristy south end of the river walk is really cool, and a nice place to burn off the beers from Blue Star. Try it, sometime. If I would have had my wits about me, there would be a fish and chips review forthcoming, but I did not plan ahead. Damn.

Trader Joe's is (in)famous for its Two-Buck Chuck, the finest of all dirt wines. TJ's also has it's own label beers, and when I walked past this six pack of tall-boys, I knew I had to pick it up. At only $6.99, I would have been a damn fool not to, right? Right. In addition to loads of other goodies we purchased, I was most excited about cracking one of these open. Most tall-boys I buy these days are more expensive, and have 2 fewer cans. Would Peter's Brand Imported Lager Beer be any good? Probably not! But it was my mission to find out.

Now, the thing about cheap tall-boys is this: they don't deserve a frosty glass. Straight outta the can is the name of the game with these beers. So, I have no idea what the color or clarity of Pete's Lager is. Judging by the lip, I would say straw color to near clear. Yum. Same with the nose. It smelled like a pasteurized can. Though, when I took that first big pull, I immediately thought Heineken. Yes, this is exactly how I remember Heineken tasting, I thought. Further examination confirmed this. It has been a long time since I had a Heineken, but Peter's Brand is damn near what I recall. Somewhat sweet notes of hops, with a smooth finish, and slightly bitter. This is probably the best discount beer I have had in a very, very long time.

Peter's Brand Imported Lager Beer is infinitely drinkable. I would pick up several of these for an outdoor summer party, with a kiddie pool filled with ice and beers. At $6.99, it is a smoking deal.

Tuesday, March 12

Pour Me: Real Ale's Mysterium Verum "Imperium"

It has been a really long time since I did a proper brewery visit. The local breweries in Austin have very limited public times, and the one time I tried to attend one, the line, well, it was literally around the block. I suppose that is because this brewery is only open once a month for a tour, for a limited time on a Saturday morning. That, combined with my then pregnant wife resulted in a pass on the brewery tour. It was then I decided that next time, we would go to one that was a bit of a trek away.

Real Ale is located in Blanco, about 50 miles, and 60 minutes away from Austin. Their brewery tours are also pretty limited: Friday afternoons from 2-5. Yeah, who has time to take off work early and drive out to the hill country? We do, apparently. Mostly because we decided to blow town regardless, and took the afternoon off. Not only did we get to go to the gym, we also got to eat lunch together. It is totally worth it to take an afternoon off, especially when it is on a Friday.

Blanco is a pretty small town, so it was surprising that the Real Ale was so damn difficult to find. Looking at Google Maps on the phone, we are almost there, almost there, oops, we passed it. Where was it?! Well, after a bit of forward and back tracking, we found it, and the place was hopping! I guess there are quite a few people that take Friday afternoon off (or are just, you know, unemployed). Well, thankfully it was just a weird packing situation, there was not a crush of people like the previous brewery trip in Austin. My clan strolled up, and we were told the tour would start in about 45 minutes, and to help ourselves to some beers. Gratis. Free. Samples. Yo. Oh, we tried one of each of the beers present on the tap, and while the sample cups were small, the tenders let us roll up as much as we pleased. It was a fast 45 minute wait.

Real Ale had just finished an expansion, and the tour was quite lengthy, though quite informative. It was really fun, and if you are in the Texas Hill Country on a Friday afternoon, I highly suggest checking it out. The brewmaster was very knowledgeable, and everyone on the tour really enjoyed him. The best part was seeing the nascent canning operation, and seeing in the corner of their huge expansion this stack of Fireman's 4. Well, that, and the other best part was seeing where they kept the casks of beer experiments.

Mysterium Verum is one of their experiments. Real Ale takes different beers, and puts them in different kinds of barrels, and ages them for a set period of time. It is an ongoing process, and the one that they happened to have on tap was Imperium.

Imperium is Real Ales Lost Gold IPA aged in American Oak barrels for a minimum of 6 months. In addition, it is treated with a wild yeast found "in the skies around the brewery." Sounds terrifying  right? Well, the brewmaster told us that it is all good, so we believed him. It is a really terrific beer. The color reminds me of an unfiltered amber beer with a thin wisp of head. The nose is loaded with booze and peaches. This beer is tart. It really reminded me of Tart Lychee, which happens to be a very good thing. Imperium is very strong, and crisp on the pallet. On a warm day, it is quite refreshing. There is a nice tinge of malts, and a generous helping of hops. This beer transformed from an IPA to something quite a bit different: a sour ale. It is reminiscent of a jammy wine, only a bit tarter.

With these Mysterium Verum series, they are released only in kegs, so the odds of finding one is limited to the Austin area bars like The Draught House. Although, we did go to dinner in Blanco, and happened across a decent restaurant that had it on tap, and also had an awesome french dip.

I cannot highly recommend a trip to Real Ale enough. If you can budget the time, do it.