Sunday, March 17, 2013

Beering in Austin, TX: Bangers

Figured we could clear out the ol' Ipad of beer notes
So back in November I was asked to do some interviews for the company.  The beauty is that after the convention I had a little down time and the family came up. 

 As I was in Austin, TX, good beer is pretty much EVERYWHERE.  The 7-11 has a killer craft beer selection.  So we needed some food in someplace new, so I found this German beer garden that specialized in wild game.  Winning!

State: At Bangers Sausage House and Beer Garden. 

First off my daughter was not having ANYTHING to do with what they called Hot Dog at Bangers, so I had to walk to IHOP to get Bella a waffle.  It was either that or leave all together.  Boy I was upset and thirsty as hell. Ordered the flight of hops and grain and local stuff

Thirsty Planet Yellow Armadillo
Very clear with a banana light nose. The beer has a great banana and some poofy ester character.  The beer is incredibly lit and refreshing. Just a little watery for a hot second but gives to a light lemony bitterness. Low 3 stars

Hops and Grain Alt-eration
Very lacy head with ruby brown color with cinnamon caramel nose. The taste has a nice cookie caramel thing going on. Great bitterness throughout probably making it a little more American. The hops are a pinch harsher than I expected for an alt, but this can work. 3 stars.

Oh good the venison and antelope with cinnamon and clove sausage showed up.  That's right, Venison and Antelope with Cinnamon and Clove.

Hops and Grain Pale Dog
Great hoppy nose, almost piney and malty. Damn that's good. Perfectly balanced malt and hops. Maybe the best pale ale I've ever had. Can I call it 5 stars with that simple perfection?

Pedernales Lobo Negro
What you call me? Great light body with a fantastic dark malt character. High 3 stars. Could become my new go to beer when I'm in the Hill Country.

Hops and Grain Belgian Pale Ale
Oh yeah, that nose has the same pale ale but with some Belgian esters. Fantastic beer with a mod piney hops, caramel malt, and the yeasty notes for the Belgian side. 3 stars.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Beering In China: Shanghai Nights

Day two and we roamed the streets of Shanghai looking at the fantastic scenery, an interesting mixture of western shopping and eastern shopping and Cuban cigars.  Lots of fun around The Bund.

The one thing I'm not sure about is who took more pictures.  Me of the amazing Chinese modern and colonial architecture, or the Chinese people of me.  It was like I was a part of the damn tour!  It was not so the personnel that were local citizens.  It seemed like it was more of the tourists groups from other Asian countries.

"And over on the left we have the American Negro. You typically will only see them on television rapping and this one may 'bust a rhyme' for you if you ask politely.  Feel free to use flash photography."

Before Obama I imagine all they saw of us was 50 Cent and P. Diddy, fantastic.  We all just went along with it after a while.  I can only imagine what it's like if some these guys when they come to and they find themselves surrounding by blackfolk on like the MARTA.

But I digress.
So we hit the tour bus and make our way to Suzhou.  After hitting some tourist destinations we hit the Brussels Beer and Wine Bar on our own.  How we got there was I looked it up on Google Maps and go the walking directions, however they called a cab for us at the hotel.  It was located on the Jinji Lake with one road in and one road out, the Li Gong Di baby!!


Around 9PM the area was bouncing with a series of western style bars  We figured we would start at Brussels and then waltz over to the German beer house across the street after some cigars and beer for starters.  The cafe was supposed to have live music, however it had the male DJ singing Mary J. Blige on Karaoke. Otherwise this place was huge and it was empty.

The place however was FULL of cigars, Huka, and beer.  SCORE!!

Beer Log: October 14, 2012
State: At the Brussels Beer and Wine in Suzhou

Chimay White
Came in the bottle but had the proper goblet.  The bar was very comfortable by the way with the dark red decor.  Not bad.  It was three of us so we just hung out in the back  Beer was a dark amber color with a big white lacy head.  Light estery banana, caramel, and cherry nose.  Moderate bitterness with a strong caramel and plum flavor.  It's kinda off though and a pinch cardboardy.  I think it may have been there a while actually.  No rating.

While we were just shooting the breeze, the bartender came up and said "We are going home".  So we packed up and made our way outside to hit that German place.  When we walked outside the Li Gong Di was a GHOST TOWN.  All the bars and restaurants were dead.  Lights off.  No people.  Minimal street lights in comparison to the LED and Neon wonderland we walked into just 2 hours prior.

And it was only 11PM.  We saw one taxi driving into the peninsula, and I told our folks we are walking 2.5km through the city or getting this taxi when he comes back, as there is only one road.  We did flag the taxi however the dude did not speak or read mandarin as far as we could tell.  Luckily I had a little charge on my phone and still had the directions on them.  I just pointed our way around town and we made it back to the hotel.

Apparently, after about 11PM you can forget it.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Beering in China: The Flight Out

So it turns out that our International vacation in 2012 found us going to China.  We were thinking Brazil... well honestly I was thinking Europe.  As far as I'm concerned, I can travel to Europe EVERY year.  First off it has incredible Continental infrastructure so I don't have to THINK about driving or getting on a stodgy bus to get around.  Great architecture, cooler weather than Houston (which isn't saying much)... and um LOTS of different types of beer.

The wife and I like to travel with other couples and some friends of our were going to Shanghai with their employee network and we were allowed to tag along.  So a few grand and some Mandarin food planning sessions later and off we go.

So I figured for this trip I'm going to throw out all my old assumptions and just blog up every beer I have on this trip if possible.  So let's get started.

Beer Log: October 11, 2012
State: Late Morning flight (just after Beer 30).  Flight is delayed to San Francisco.  Hanging out in the United Lounge

Besides the great networking opportunities, comfortable seating, and great wireless, the United Club also has free beer and spirits.  Each club around the world tends to have a local beer on tap as well as Heineken and a Bud Light.  However I am a Heineken guy ever since my last trip to Amsterdam, so let's go.

Clear and straw colored.  Head is thin and white with some decent lacing on the glass.  The nose has a little bit of fresh green beans.  Taste has a cracker thing to it, almost like sun chips or maybe a lowfat pita bread you can get from Kroger, not so much the pita bread at one of the good HEB's. 4 Stars for one of my go to beers.  The wife is chopping it up with George Foreman, who actually hangs out in this lounge all the time at Bush Airport.  I do have on my Precision MMA shirt on, so I could feel froggy.  But nevermind.

So the flight was so delayed that our pick up flight to San Francisco was going to be a photo finish.  Our trip coordinator left their thinking cap at home and did not bring her cellphone, so everyone was basically on their own.  The wife and I ended up getting on two seats to a flight going to LAX and then onward to Shanghai, getting us there about 30 minutes after the original flight.  Plus that flight to LAX and then to Shanghai had TV's with all the movies while the flight from SFO featured the sound of a jet engine as in-flight entertainment.  SCORE!

State: LAX was a new airport for both of us so we ended up not having time to hoof it to the United Club and found our way to a little Karl Strauss bar near the Baja Fresh.  Apparantly Baja Fresh is the best place known to man if you ask the folks out there.

Karl Strauss Amber Lager 
Amber color, good caramel and toasty nose to it.  Tastes fantastic after the flight for sure.  The flavor is a nice melange of toasted English muffin with a dusting of brown sugar.  High 3 stars.

They did not have anything else available so we hit the flight.  Luckily they had free drinks on the flight although we were in Economy Plus and I made it through all the Avenger series of movies.

After landing we caught up with our team, waited for a few folks, and made it late to the hotel.  We found our way to what they call the "American Embassy"... Kentucky Fried Chicken.  I was eating fried chicken like it was nectar and ambrosia.  We checked in to the Marriot (very American I know) and found the hotel bar.  Although I've had it very often, we got ourselves some...

State: Headache, been up 36 hours, late night in Shanghai.

They had it in a bottle instead of on tap.  Whatever's clever.  No nose and brilliantly clear.  Taste has a light sugar sweetness and moderate hops yielding some veggie flavor.  Refreshing after being up 36 hours.  High 2 Stars.

Tiger Draught
Green 22 oz bottle.  Clear again and very fizzy gold beer.  Not much to it in the taste.  Bud Light of Singapore if you ask me.  But that's all we go so I'll have another. 1 Star.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Shiner Farmhouse Ale

First Shiner makes a Pale Ale which turned into one of my favorite session beers in Texas, and these guys are making a Farmhouse Ale! In the words of Wally from Dilbert "that's crazy talk". Anyway I found a nice six pack of the FM966 at the Kroger by my house. That Kroger must know some beer nerds are near by, as they went from standard BMC fare to plenty of Saint Arnold, all three Karbach, and seasonals from Sam Adams and Shiner.

Beer log: Right now
state: relaxing at home watching A Football Life

Shiner FM 966
Poured this one into my Central Market Brewniveristy tulip glass. I forgot how badass Marcus Allen was... Pours orangish and clear with a lasting white head. Nose has a nice sourdough cracker and lit banana. The taste is a light lemon sourness and choppy carbonation. The beer has a flavor that's hard to nail, but its almost like a leathery saddle or something. I think that's perfect for the farmhouse style. Congrats to Shiner for making very clean beers with ever expanding styles. Low 3 stars for me, still not a huge sour man. I always wondered what would happen if the cleanliness, skill, and consistency of a 100 year old plus brewery put its food in craft beer.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Beering in Midtown Atlanta

As usual the early Fall season means you're going to find me doing some corporate travel, and that almost always means Atlanta and Georgia Tech.  I typically stay in Midtown near campus at the Georgia Tech Hotel and this time was no different.  Every year the only option I typically have is the Taco Mac at Metropolis and if I feel like not going local, the Gordon Biersch on Peachtree.  This time however, I was pleasantly surprised when setting up my itinerary I stumble upon Cypress Street Pint and Plate.

The place is within walking distance of my hotel and has a more Petrol Station feel to it.  Only a few beers on tap, all craft beer, that rotates throughout the day.  I actually missed their Beer Geek night and just had lunch there.

Beer Log: September 12, 2012
State: Chilling with one of the guys at Cypress Pint and Plate

I ordered the chicken since I was in Atlanta.

They were out of EasyRider so...

Sweetwater Lowryder
Light amber and clear wtih low head and not much of a scent.  The taste had a nice hop bite to it and a little bit of a light caramel malt.  A pinch of bread, pine cone, and a wet aftertaste (if that makes sense).  Low three stars.

Later on I had all the other beers they had there and ended up with some stuff we have not prayer of getting in Houston.

21st Amendment Back in Black
Just love the name of this beer.  Black color and whatnot.  Great chocolate and hops flavor.  I just went ahead and enjoyed this right out of the can... that's right cans.  4 stars for the San Franciscans.  

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Stone Beer Dinner at Central Market

So it turns out it was the wife's birthday on September 17th, and I was asking what she wanted to do.  As I have an amazing wife, one of the things she wanted was the Stone Beer Dinner at Central Market in Houston's Highland Village.  I got there a pinch early and just shot the shyte with the chefs until it was game time.

Beers we had a the time were Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale (which the wife almost got one the brewers to tell us the recipe), Sublimely Self Righteous, and Stone IPA.  One beer that was totally new to me I had to take notes with...

Beer Log: September 20th
State: At Central Market for the Stone Beer Dinner

Saison du Buff by Stone
Everyone knows I'm a big fan of saisons.  With this incredibly hot climate here in Houston these past few years, the saison style has really suited me well.  This one is yellowish with a great herbal nose.  I'm getting parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.  The beer has an excellent quadpack of herbs with a nice lemony zip (I know) and light banana.  Uber clean and drinkable with light hops.  Just fantastic collaboration for Dogfish Head, Stone, and Victory.  4 Stars.

And since we are talking collaborations...

And the day before

Beer Log: September 19th
State: Just hanging out with the crew

Mikkeller Not Just Another Wit
Has a brilliantly clear color and kind of a smoky lemony thing in the nose.  The beer istelf has a light lemony sourness with a great light bitter bite.  It think this may be a hefty amount of lemon zest in this beer.  I like the beer but only 3 stars, just too much zest or bitterness for me.

Terrapin Special Anniversary Ale
Clear with a slight straw tinge.  Nose is all funky.  Taste is like a steely malt and big ginger snap cookie.  Like those ginger snaps cookies that are in the brown bags with a clear plastic window we would OD on back in the day.  Nice big sweet flaovr that lasts on the tongue, though the beer is a pinch dry.  High 3 Stars.

What the heck is a Lime-A-Rita?

Beer Log: September 16, 2012
State: At a friend's house in Cyrpress, TX watching the Texans kill the Jaguars, having a BBQ

My highest viewed posts are the Budweiser and Miller posts, so why not blog up this one.  I'm at a friend's house kind of going between a Karbach and Saint Arnold beer.  I try to enjoy Houston area beer when the Texans or Dynamo are playing.  But they had a small slim can of Bud Light Lime-A-Rita, and I had my Ipad open watching my Fantasy Football scores.  So why not...

Bud Light Lime-A-Rita
Comes in a small can, kinda like a short Red Bull Can.  Pours incredibly clear with a clear yellowish green color.  Light white head with a very lime nose. Beer has a nice soft lemon lime flavor which reminds me of Sprite or 7UP.  Which is funny as I think the last time I had either one of those without Gin in them was 20 years ago.  And the last time I had either one of those with Gin was 10 years ago in college.  No real bitterness but a slight sweetness that was missing from the original Bud Light Lime.  Oh I know, this reminds me of Smirnoff Ice from my college days.  My beer geek evolution went from Smirnoff Ice (year 2000) to Miller Lite (Chicago White Sox game in 2002), to Shiner Bock (Lil Woodrows in 2005 at a training course), to Victory Golden Monkey (Flying Saucer in 2007), all Craft Beer.

It wasn't nasty or anything like that, just not what I reach for as a beer man.  2 stars.  Just give this to the sistas at the beach in Miami and call it good.