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Beer Review #89 Stoudt’s Winter Ale

Stoudt’s Brewing Company is one of my local favorites. I reviewed their Oktoberfest last last year and enjoyed it a good bit. Their Winter Ale is another beer that has a different recipe each year, much like Anchor Brewing’s Christmas Ale. I’ve had the 2008 and 2009 versions of this ale and enjoyed them very much. This year’s version comes in a little lighter in ABV, sitting at 6.0%.

Amber is the color that this ale pours. It is perfectly clear and has a nice off-white head that goes along with it. The nose is nice and complex. It is hoppy with some slight heat, which is surprising for a 6.0% beer. I got a lot of dried fruit with some hidden caramel notes. There is also a nice roasty aroma that sits in the background. The more this beer warms up the more complex it gets.

The taste is very malty upfront, which is something that Stoudt’s does with all of their winter beers. There is some heat in the flavor as well. The end was hoppy and spicy. I’m not sure if the spice came from the hops or if it was added in from a third party source. The malty flavor is pretty close to what the nose has to offer. This beer is pretty thick as well. I found it pretty drinkable and it serves as a good example of a Stoudt’s beer. I might be a bit biased, but I haven’t had a bad beer from this brewery, ever. (more…)

Beer Review #71 Brooklyn Brewery Oktoberfest

I’m sorry I’m getting to these so review so late, but here they are non-the-less. I am dubbing this week as the “Week of Oktoberfest Beers.” I have five of these beers that I have not had the chance to post yet, so they will be coming out each day this week until I run out. Then it will be onto pumpkin beers, where reviews for that style are sadly behind as well. Anyway, onto the review of Brooklyn Brewery’s Oktoberfest.

This Oktoberfest pours an amber color and comes with a slightly off-white head. It is perfectly clear, and that should be 100% expected for the style. On the nose you get your typical Oktoberfest smells; caramel, sweetness, little to no hops. I did not detect any heat in the nose. Brooklyn’s also seemed to be a bit more sweet smelling than others that I have tried.

On the first taste the sweetness jumped out at me. It was pretty maltly, but not done out of the style. There are some nice bread notes in there which I love as well. The beer has a very nice, smooth finish which made it very drinkable. I could easily see myself putting away a few of these beers.

On a lot of Oktoberfest beers the maltness of the beer eventually turns me off from drinking too many of them. Out of all of the styles of beer I have drank, I find Oktoberfest beers to be the most filling. They are even more filling than imperial stouts or barelywines in my book. I’m not sure why that is, but that is how my stomach handles them. Brooklyn’s beer comes in at 5.5% which seems to be on par with other Oktoberfest beers. At this point in the season it might be tough to find, but it is a solid, drinkable Oktoberfest that I think most would enjoy.


San Antonio Breweries: Blue Star Brewery

This is my first full day back from my trip to San Antonio. I really enjoyed the city, did not enjoy the heat or the humidity. As with any new place I go, I look to see what breweries are around so that I can visit them and taste what they have to offer. The first stop on San Antonio’s brewery list (of 2) was Blue Star Brewery. The brewery opened in 1996 and is located in the Blue Star Arts complex, which is essentially converted factories.

The general vibe of the place is pretty simple. There is a simple menu, none of the decorations are super complex, and the staff’s attire isn’t fancy. It is the kind of place I dig. My wife and I walked there as it was only 3/4 of a mile away from our hotel but my wife swears it was over a mile. All I have to say is that the GPS doesn’t lie. Win! When you walk into the place you are greeted by a line of stainless steel tanks and a seating area to the right. Behind a glass wall at the back of the building is the actual kettle and all of the “hot” parts of the brewery. The bar is backed with the stainless steel tanks.

The had eight different beers on tap when we were there, including one on cask. They had everything from a pilsner to a stout to an English IPA (cask and keg versions). Each sample glass we had came in at about $1.25 with a few of the higher ABV beers costing up to $1.99. Pretty standard prices from my experience.

The pilsner was solid with a nice light but flavorful body and a slight hop crispness at the end. The pale ale was on the more pine side of the hop flavors but it was solid. It also leaned a bit more towards the hop end of the balance. The amber was my wife’s favorite beer and was a solid amber with a nice malt component an a bready aftertaste. The stout was a real treat, very straightforward but balanced and a great, smooth roast flavor on the backend. The English IPA was more hoppy than what I was expecting. If was an American IPA it would of fit in better, but it did have a wonderful malt backbone that fully supported the hops. They also had a cask version of the beer which was excellent and really toned down the hops and brought out a nice malt complexity. The final beer was the King William Barley Wine which rocked in at 11% ABV. It was good, but I think there was too much heat in there to make it a smooth drinking barelywine.

Overall I really enjoyed the Blue Star Brewery. Since I have lived in Texas I have noticed that service at restaurants has been lackluster to say the least. The Blue Star staff was wonderful (our server was Allen) and always made sure that we had what we needed. My only real complaint was that their menu is very limited. We did commit one crime in ordering according to The Naked Pint, and that was that we ordered a pitcher of their amber. According to the book you should never order a pitcher. I don’t think it really matters and that’s why we did so. The beers were solid, the food was pretty good, and the service was outstanding.

What are you drinking for the SuperBowl?

It is the day of the big game and a crazy amount of beer commericals. While I really don’t care who wins this year I do care about the beer I am drinking and the quality of the commericals. Last year wasn’t a great year for commericals but the other PA team pulled out a win, so it wasn’t all bad. My beloved Eagles sucked it up again and came nowhere close to the big game. Anyway, the title of the post says it all.

My drink choice come to who I think the underdog is. The Saints are clearly the underdog in this game and I don’t think they stand a chance against the Colts, but that is why I am going to be supporting them with an Abita Amber. I first had the Abita Amber a few years ago when I couple of my meteorology buddies came back for New Orleans and suggested that I pick up some of the Abita beers since that is all they drink down there apparently. I grabbed a sampler case that had some pretty good beers in it. The most solid on was the Abita Amber. I also really enjoy their Turbodog and Christmas Ale.

My prediction for the final score of the game: Colts- 27 Saints- 17. What is your prediction and what will you be drinking for the game?

Beer Review #40 2 Below Ale

Yet another New Belgium seasonal beer. I can’t help it, I generally like everything that comes out of that brewery. I was also super excited to find a seasonal brew in Lubbock, Tx. If you have been reading this blog for any period of time, you should know my struggles with finding seasonal beer in Lubbock. And for those of you who are new, Lubbock, simply put, is a hole. There is a complete lack of beer culture, but oddly enough they enjoy expensive wine. Go figure.

Anyway, I grabbed up a sixer of 2 Below as soon as I saw it. As most New Belgium Brewing Company beers have, the label was interesting looking. A nice picture of some freezing pipes with icicles coming down off of the top. Now onto the important part, the beer. It pours a light amber in color with a nice white head. The aroma is nice and strong with tons of floral hops. There isn’t much else to be found on the smell, mostly just hops and maybe some malt if you are really looking hard.

The taste is an explosion of hops, in a good way. The malt and the hops are balanced perfectly. The hops are clean and crisp. On the back-end of the beer there is a slightly bready flavor. You can also expect to finds hints of pepper and other spice in there as well. Unlike some hoppy beers, the hops goes through the entire beer and not just at the back.

2 Below has a light to medium mouthfeel with great carbonation. It is very drinkable but I kind of wanted something darker and richer tasting for a winter beer. The beer comes in at 6.6% ABV so it is not a “weak” beer but I want some more alcohol in my winter beer. The whole warming idea of a winter beer doesn’t really happen at 6.6%. It really is a great beer and I would highly suggest it if you have the chance. Again it is not my favorite winter beer, but it is a solid beer for anytime of the year. (more…)