Archive for the ‘Tasting’ Category

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Day #355 – Eskes Brew Pub & Eatery

December 22, 2011

I’m still in Taos, NM and stumbled upon a nice little brewpub in town called Eskes Brewery & Eatery.

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This place is very small with all their brewing equipment in the basement. The night I was there a 2 man band was playing. Very folky. Here’s a few highlights of what I tried.

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Eskes Brew Pub & Eatery

Eskes Blonde Betty

Blonde Ale

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Tap at the pub. Pours a clear golden yellow color. Light white head. Aroma is crisp, grainy, light citrus. Bit of hop nose. Flavor is dry and grainy with a slight soapy flavor. Finishes dry and soapy.

Eskes Artist Ale

Bitter – 4%

(forgot the picture apparently!)

Tap at the pub. Pours a cloudy golden banana color with a light layer of bubbles. Aroma is fairly light. Some yeasty notes with berry fruit. Not much there. Flavor is light, semi sweet and watery. Hop bitterness comes through on the finish in a big way.

Eskes Mesa Pale Ale

American Pale Ale – 5.5%

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Tap at the pub. Pours a lightly hazy copper orange color. Light head. Aroma is light, some hops and bitterness on the nose. Flavor is dry hops, banana sweetness, and hop bitterness on the finish. Not bad.

Eskes Why Rye

Specialty Grain – 5%

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Tap at the pub. Pours a clear copper to amber color with a foamy white head. Aroma is light spicy hops and rye chips. Flavor is dry, bready and rye on the finish. Flavor has a pretty decent backbone with just the touch of sweetness.

Eskes Holiday Cheer

Spice Beer – 5.2%

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Tap at the pub. Pours a clear dark orange to ruddy color. Light ring of head. Aroma has a small bit of spice and ginger. Not overpowering. Flavor is a fair mix of spice, sweet notes, ginger and a bit of cinnamon. Easy finish. Yeah this is good.

Eskes Oat Cole Porter

Porter – 5%

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Tap at the pub. Pours a dark brown color that shows ruby hues when held to the light. Light ring of beige colored head. Aroma is very chocolatey, roasted malts and dark sweet sugar. Flavor is dark malts, big roast, light bakers chocolate and perhaps a hint of coffee? Has a pseudo sweetener finish. Still, the best beer from them I’ve had so far.

Eskes Taos Green Chile Beer

Vegetable Beer – 4%

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Tap at the pub. This beer pours a clear light yellow to straw color. Has a very small amount of white head. Very little. Aroma is sweet, grainy, with maybe a bit of spice. Hard to pick out on the aroma. Flavor is dry grains, a touch of popcorn with the chili spice and heat on the finish. I’m pretty sure there might be a touch of diacetyl in this but the spice covers up a lot.

Cheers!

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Day #347 – Saint Arnold Divine Reserve Vertical 8 – 11

December 14, 2011

Very special treat for you (and me) today. I’ve been hanging onto several beers in my cellar with the intent to drink them eventually. Well we are nearing the end of this year of beer project so there’s no time like the present! I’m also hanging out with some friends so I will be able to share.

Saint Arnold Divine Reserve Vertical 8 – 11

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I’ll be tasting beers number 8, 9, 10 and 11 tonight. 9 and 11 have already been featured on this blog at one point or another but 8 and 10 have not. I will give a brief overview of the beer, how old this particular bottle is, how it originally tasted and how it has changed over time.

Saint Arnold Divine Reserve #8

Scotch Ale
9.3% ABV
Released September 2009 (2 year 3 month old bottle)

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Original Review:
Clear orangish red pour. Lightly bubbly head. Interesting aroma. Some caramel malts with roasted coffee as well. Sweet candy and bubblegum. Slightly smoked but ever so slightly. Taste is kind of cheesy with hints of smoke and sweet caramel with molasses. A good scotch ale no doubt but worthy of a Divine Reserve? Not sure… Had a glass on tap at the saucer FW, and it was loads better than my first impression. Give this beer a chance, and try it on tap if given the opportunity. It’s the little beer that could.

Impressions now:
This beer has faded quite a bit from what it used to be. What has disappeared were the sweet candy/bubblegum type flavors. It is still fairly smoky and has a smooth finish. Not bad it just doesn’t have the character it used to.

Saint Arnold Divine Reserve #9

Pumpkin Spice Beer
11% ABV
Released December 2009 (2 year old bottle)

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This beer was re-released as Pumpkinator a few months ago. This particular bottle is from the original batch. Here are my original thoughts:

On tap at G man FW. I brought my sorry butt outside in the cold and rain just to get the full experience of this gem. As I’m typing my intro I can already smell a glorious candy corn aroma wafting from the glass. Lots of bazooka Joe sweetness too. Black in the middle with a lighter brown touch near the edges. Wheat brown head. Caramel notes on the nose with the aforementioned notes as well. A sense of alcohol is also felt. Winter spice begins to emerge as the beer begins to warm. Interesting that the pumpkin smell shows up later in the sniff. Winter spices bring cinnamon and nutmeg to the table. Very creamy mouthfeel with an immediate tingle on the tip of the tongue. Abv is felt and warms up the tongue. Warm gingerbread taste and caramel malts. Pumpkin taste is much less perverse than I was anticipating after watching the video of how much they put in it. It doesn’t show up till near the aftertaste and sits fantastically. Tastes like a warm Christmas cookie that was given to me by a pixie in an elf costume. My faith is totally restored in the Divine Reserve series. Fantastic.

New Impressions:
Bottle from my cellar. Been sitting on this guy for awhile. Dark dark brown color with a rich brown head. Aroma is still fantastic. Lovely cinnamon and hot spice. Some alcohol can still be smelled. Tastes like a wonderful Christmas cookie. Well balanced and still fantastic.

Saint Arnold Divine Reserve #10

Barley Wine
11% ABV
Released November 2010 (1 year 1 month old bottle)

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This was a big barley wine that came out last year. I remember it being incredibly hot and green (young) when fresh and I was looking forward to it aging.

Original Impressions:
Tap at Ginger Man FW. Let me preface this by saying I fully intend on rerating this several months from now after I’ve cellared some bottles. It’s pretty cool that I am in the exact same seat to rate this guy as I was a year ago for the 9. Pours a fairly clear ruby red appearance with a small white head. Aroma is fairly hoppy with lots of sugary malts. Woody in only the slightest bit. Flavor is all kinds of sweetness. Sugar, bubble gum, candied apple. Wow nice. Hops play a large part in the flavor as well. Moreso than i would expect in a barley wine to style. Big alcohol kick towards the end as it melds into the finish. Semi-sweet to dry finish. Hot feeling left on the back of the throat after the swallow. I envision this improving greatly after the mellowing of age.

New Impressions:
This beer has certainly changed since my first time tasting it. The alcohol burn has mellowed out big time! It still has a woody flavor with some touches of sweet malt and candy. The sweet notes are starting to disappear from the aroma but are still present. This is getting better!

Saint Arnold Divine Reserve #11

Imperial India Pale Ale
8.9% ABV
Released March 2011 (9 month old bottle)

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This was an Imperial IPA which was left unfiltered. I reviewed it on tap earlier this year but I was amazed that Saint Arnold actually told people to tuck some bottles away for aging. Usually hoppy beers do not age well as the hop character is typically the first thing to disappear. But, like a good beer nerd I tucked away a bottle (or 6-pack) for me to try now.

Original Impression:
Special cask at Flying Saucer FW. Even for it being filtered, it still maintains a fair bit of haziness. It pours a bright reddish/orange color with a foamy beige head. Looks quite elegant.

The aroma is RIDICULOUSLY hoppy. I mean, one sniff and I feel like I’m walking through a Christmas tree lot while bathing in sap and sweet grapefruit juice. Holy crap! Loads of sweet aromas pack this beer. Very fresh smelling indeed.

Smooth mouthfeel with a load of hops in the flavor as well. Lots of pine needles, tree sap, candied sugar, bitter touches that fades into a very wet, hoppy, bitter finish. Wow one for the hopheads for sure. The cask gives it a smoother mouthfeel than in the bottle, and also allows for a more even balance of flavors.

This is fantastic and certainly well worth the trouble to come about it. The cask version is definitely better than bottle.

New Impression:
Not surprisingly this beer has lost A LOT of it’s original hop character. The fat resiny, sappy aroma it used to have turned into a faint memory. It has a bitter finish with very little sweetness. Time is not good to this beer, which was fantastic fresh.

So there we have it. So glad I saved some of these and have a 6-pack of beer I wish I drank months ago. Oh well. Only a few weeks left on this blog!

Cheers!

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Day #320 – Mikkeller Beer Dinner

November 17, 2011

Today will be just a little bit different from my regular format. All this week, Dallas Beer Week has been going on which is basically an ongoing celebration of craft beer with daily activities at Dallas’ best craft bars and restaurants. On Saturday I went to the grand opening launch party for Deep Ellum Brewing Company at the Common Table.

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Today I return here again for a different reason, and boy is it a good reason. The Common Table is hosting a beer dinner featuring a world-renown Danish brewery Mikkeller. Recently several beers from Mikkeller have made their way into the North Texas market and are available at your high end beer stores. However, tonight is a special treat as the owner, Mikkel himself will be in attendance and he’s bringing with him several fantastic goodies that are not sold here! Each of these beers will be paired with a different course of the dinner. I will be posting a feature on each of the courses, beginning with the Pre-dinner tapping.

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Pre-Dinner Tapping

Jester King Berliner Weisse (Berliner Weisse, ABV unknown).

This beer was a complete shock to me, and it was a complete shock to everyone I think as this beer officially has not even been released yet. Jester King brewed this beer from the beginning of their existence and it has been quietly fermenting the whole time. Every now and then they will brew another batch and blend the two together to change the qualities and characteristics of the beer. This is a common practice amongst beers that are fermented with wild yeast. They do not have a release date on this either, as they were quoted as saying “it’ll be ready when it’s ready.”

The picture shows this beer accompanying the 1st course, however the following beer was the one paired with that course.

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Unmarked bottle at the Common Table. pours a cloudy lemondrop yellow with lots of sediment in it. Light bubbles on top. Definite funk on the nose. Some light fruit with a bit of tartness. Flavor is slightly bready, yeasty and tart, but not overly so. A small fresh fruit flavor on the finish.

1st Course/Beer Pairing

Artisinal Cheeses & Jester King/Mikkeller Drink’in The Sunbelt (Wheat Ale).

This was the first collaboration that Jester King did with Mikkeller. It is an American style wheat ale that is highly hopped.

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Pours a slightly hazy golden orange color with a light foamy white head. Aroma is sweet hops, floral and fruity. Dry notes on the nose as well. Flavor is light fruit, dry hops with floral notes and a large dry finish. Not as overly dry as the first few times I tried it.

2nd Course/Beer Pairing

House Smoked Bandera Semi-Boneless Quail w/ Cranberry Bacon and White Cheddar Grits & Mikkeller Texas Ranger (Chipotle Porter)

This beer was brewed specifically for Texas (well, this alias is. Outside of Texas it is known as the Chipotle Porter), and it was brewed in the Texas spirit. It is a dark porter brewed with chipotle chiles.

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Pours a dark dark brown with a wicked tan head. Aroma is a chocolaty roast with some beef and pepper notes. Heavy on the nose. Flavor is beefy with lots of pepper. The finish has a wonderful beef rib finish. Not too spicy. Has some kick at the front but fades away. Wow this is actually pretty good.

3rd Course/Beer Pairing

Mesclun Salad w/Pomegranta Habanera Viniagrette & Jester King Farmhouse Wytchmaker (Rye India Pale Ale)

When Jester King first opened, they used 2 strains of yeast, and English Ale yeast as well as a Farmhouse strain. They liked the results from the Farmhouse strain so much, they returned to previous beers they did and rebrewed them using it. This is their Wytchmaker which is a Rye IPA brewed using this Farmhouse strain of yeast.

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Bottle from the Common Table. Pours a very slightly dark orange color with a light amount of carbonation. Gentle ring of bubbles. Aroma is sweet hops, floral in nature with a touch of rye notes. Aroma also has a sweet/sour quality with a bit of the farmhouse scent. Flavor is sweet, floral notes, candy sugar, and a bit of wildflower finish. Pretty nice.

4th Course/Beer Pairing

Grilled Oysters/Purple Potatoes & Melted Leeks in a Cilantro-Champagne Lemongrass Broth & Jester King Das Wunderkind (Saison).

The Das Wunderkind is a French inspired saison that is aged in white oak wine barrels.

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Bottle from Common Table. Pours a cloudy yellow orange with a light ring of white head. Aroma is super funky, sour, fruit, spice and good notes. Flavor is sour, tart farmhouse notes, lots of funk, sour fruit with an easy finish. Smooth on the end.

5th Course/Beer Pairing

Broken Arrow Ranch Wild Boar Osso Bucco, Gorgonzola/Walnut Risotto & Cabernet-Whiskey Apples & Mikkeller Barrel-Aged Black Hole (Red) (Imperial Stout)

This is the beer I was looking forward to, absolutely. Black Hole is an Imperial Stout, and it’s one of the best beers they make. They took this beer beer and aged it in many different types of barrels, all resulting in a different product. This iteration was the version aged in red wine barrels.

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Bottle from Common Table. Pours a very dark brown to black color. Ring of heavy tan head surround the glass. Aroma is wonderful. Dark chocolate, wood and sweet wine, roasted notes and sweet cream. Flavor is dark malts, cocoa, sweet flavors, cream, a touch of wine. This this fantastic! I am very impressed with this.

6th Course/Beer Pairing

Triple Chocolate Browine & Pistacio Terrine w/ Mikkeller Frelser Triple Bock (Doppelbock)

This beer is a doppelbock and a strong one at that. (11%) The style was brewed as a beer the monks could drink for sustenance during Lent. However Mikkeller does not recommend drinking this in place of a meal as it would probably tear you up!

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Bottle from Common Table. Pours a deep reddish orange color with a ring of beige head. Aroma is super sticky malts. Like straight up liquid malt extract. Sweet candy notes on the nose as well. Flavor is sweet malts, sticky flavors, candied sugar and caramel out the butt. Very sweet.

Post-Dinner Tapping(s)

Jester King Farmhouse Black Metal Imperial Stout

This was the second version of the Black Metal Imperial Stout, which I was very much looking forward to trying. It received a very good response when they released this beer using it’s original English Ale yeast, so I am interested to see if it is still just as good with the Farmhouse Yeast.

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Well there you have it folks.  What a great dinner, spent with great friends and I even got to meet the owners of both breweries.  I would certainly recommend any beer on this list.  Cheers!

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Day #315 – Deep Ellum Brewing II

November 12, 2011

Today is a great day for Dallas-Fort Worth craft beer and Texas beer in general. Texas has another brewery! Deep Ellum Brewing had their official launch party on Saturday and I was in attendance. They are a new brewery that is located in Dallas-proper. Dallas has not had an operating brewery since Great Grains shut down many years ago. You might remember this brewery from a previous blog post I had over summer, which can be found HERE. Their official launch party was held at a craft beer bar in Dallas, the Common Table. It was my first trip to this pub but I was definitely impressed with the atmosphere and beer selection. I will be returning to the pub. But enough about the location and on to the brewery of the night, Deep Ellum Brewing!

Deep Ellum Brewing

They had 3 beers available for purchase at the release party, but only 2 of them were being advertised. I tried all 3 and thought I’d put my thoughts here in this blog. Only picked up 1 picture from the entire day as I was too busy chatting with folks. The beers I tried were: Backslider Blonde, Double Brown Stout, Double Rye IPA.

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Deep Ellum Backslider Blonde

Blonde Ale – 4.8% ABV

Tap at the DEBC release party at Common Table. Pours a hazy orangish gold with a foamy white head. Aroma is citrus, lemony and orange with a grainy nose and yeast. Flavor is light and bitter, grainy with a yeasty note. Finishes a bit dry. Not bad.

Deep Ellum Double Brown Stout

Oatmeal Baltic Porter – 7% ABV

Tap at the DEBC release party at Common Table. Pours a dark brown color that edges on black. Tab foamy head. Aroma is roasted malts, some nuts and chocolate. Coffee nose as well. Heavy roast and chocolate. Flavor is certainly chocolatey and roasty with some dark malts and grains near the finish. Rye flakes can be tasted on the finish. Flavor is very tasty. Congrats DEBC!

Deep Ellum Double Rye IPA

Imperial Rye IPA – ? ABV

Tap at the DEBC release party at Common Table. Pours a very cloudy maroon with orange colorings. Foamy white head that fades to a ring quickly. Aroma is pretty hoppy, rye notes, and wood shavings. Flavor is very tasty, hoppy and rye notes towards the middle. Sweet flavors abound in this. Not very bitter at all. Sweet finish. This is very tasty!

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Day #232 – Peticolas Brewing Company pt. 2

August 21, 2011

Part 2 of my Peticolas review starts today. Very much looking forward to these last 2 beers! I am brewing my own beer today, so the Peticolas beers will make a fantastic partner to what I’m doing.

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Great Scot

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Alright, getting to a bigger beer now! This is the first beer of his that I have tried that has been named, meaning this beer will be placed into regular rotation once the brewery is up and running. I can only imagine that the reason this beer has a name is because it must be awesome. There’s no other way around it. 🙂 Here are the stats for this guy: Scottish Ale, 24 IBU, 6.8% ABV.

I poured this one into an English Pint glass as per the style.

This beer pours a fairly dark brown color that turns a rich shade of ruby when put to the light. A tall head of light tan forms atop the beer as well. Very pretty.

The aroma on this was a little weak. Grainy and dusty smelling with perhaps a latent sweetness.

The flavor however is much better than the aroma. Lots of lovely sweet notes and caramel malts come through. It is a smooth and slick sweetness that blends well with the surrounding grains and malts. Light bitterness on the finish with just the slightest amount of tingle over the palate.

While I’ll admit I wasn’t much into the aroma, the flavor really came through in a big way. Very tasty.

Velvet Hammer

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Last beer of the series. I am looking forward to this most of all because of the name. Velvet…Hammer. Just say it out loud. Velvet….Hammer. Makes you feel good doesn’t it? 🙂 Here’s the stats: Imperial Red Ale, 85 IBU, 9% ABV.

This beer went into my Rahr snifter, as any strong ale should.

It pours a very pretty dark reddish color. Velvet comes to mind but I can’t for the life of me figure out why? 🙂 Nice white head. Looks great.

I let this warm up a bit before trying it. Aroma is sweet malts, with a fair bit of hops on the nose. Caramel sweetness as well.

Flavor is sweet malts, some candied sugar and a touch of hopped bitterness. What is so surprising about this is that for 9%, I can’t taste it at all! Very smooth and easy drinking. Man I could see how this beer could easily fall into their regular line-up!

Big thanks to Michael Peticolas for allowing me to try his beers! I tried to give an honest opinion about what I tried, but Michael made it easy for me by making very good beer. I am very excited for Peticolas Brewing Company to open up, and I can see great things happening for them in the future!

Cheers!

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Day #230 – Peticolas Brewing Company pt. 1

August 19, 2011

I have a very special treat for you all today. Well, it’s more of a special treat for me as I get to drink the beers, but you can pretend you’re here enjoying them with me! Haha.

Peticolas Brewing Company

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I’ve mentioned this a few times before, but right now is a fantastic time for craft beer as the scene is rapidly growing and seeing many levels of success. Dallas in particular is also a part of this growth. You’ve read my reviews for Deep Ellum Brewing Company and Lakewood Brewing which are both breweries-in-the-works in Dallas proper. Well today I have 4 lovely samples in front of me courtesy of Michael Peticolas, owner of Peticolas Brewing Company. I had been in contact with him through Twitter (I’m Cavie06, he’s Peticolas. If you care to follow :)) I had put out an inquiry to him regarding acquiring a few samples of his brew for the purposes of this blog. He was quick to offer some to me; I get free beer, he gets free publicity…it’s win-win folks.

Anyways, I was going to be in Dallas over the weekend and we had planned to meet at one of the stops I was going to be at. However as I’m driving there he calls and asks me to meet him at his house! Haha so I got to chat with him about his beer and brewery as his kids ran through the house. It was pretty cool talking to him. He sounds very excited about the progress that has been made recently and is looking to open well before the end of the year. Not only did he provide 4 different samples of his beer but also some sweet swag! Very cool guy and I wish him all the best!

Belgian Wit

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The first beer I am going to try is a Belgian Wit. Only 2 of his beers had “official” names, and those are the ones he is certain to brew professionally. The other ones are more like experiments; things he brews to get feedback from other folks. I am very good at the “feedback” portion, as it involves drinking the beers! Here are the stats for this brew: 12 IBU, 4.5% ABV, Belgian Witbier.

Popped this beer and poured it in the correct style glassware, a tumbler. This beer pours a very clear golden orange color with a nice foamy white head. This has obviously been filtered and was not bottle conditioned. Very nice.

The aroma is quite indicitive of the style; light wheat tones, coriander spice and just a bit of citrus fruit. It is certainly what I would expect to see from a beer of this style.

The flavor partners the aroma; light, refreshing and slightly dry. There is a bit of sweet fruit and citrus tang. This is about as textbook Belgian Witbier as it goes. Very solid!

Scottish Wit

20110819-111605.jpgNow the next beer is very interesting. It is the same recipe and grain bill as the Belgian Wit, but he changed up the yeast strain. It originally used a Belgian Wit yeast strain, but this time he decided to use a scottish yeast. I am very anxious to see how the different yeast strain will affect the flavor! Here are the stats: 12 IBU, 4.5% ABV, Belgian Witbier (loosely categorized).

This beer pours a clear golden orange color with a light white foamy head.

The aroma of this one has similarities to the original Belgian Witbier but also has a few notable differences. The aroma on this one has the same wheat notes, sweet fruit and coriander spice but also has a bit of grapefruit tartness. There is also a dry candied Belgian sugar sweetness which gives this beer an interesting difference. Sweet, and I like it.

I’ve decided to break this tasting up into 2 evenings in order to give the beers the proper attention they deserve. I shall finish up the remaining 2 beers in this series tomorrow evening. Stay tuned, it’s bound to be good!

Cheers!

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Day #216 – Black Star Co-op Pub & Brewery

August 5, 2011

I apologize for the lack of updates recently, but I was on vacation and was super busy, but fear not!  I had plenty of new beer to try and lots to write about!

Black Star Co-op Pub & Brewery

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Black Star is a fairly new brewpub to open up in Austin, TX.  They are a Co-Op, which I had no idea what it was when I got there.  Apparently it is a different form of business which in essence makes every employee a part owner.  This way the employees have a much bigger stake and feeling of ownership in the business, and in theory would be more apt to making it successful.  The employees are paid living wages and do not accept tips. Cool…I spent plenty of cash there anyway.  Here’s a rundown of the great beers I got to try!

Elba

Wheat Ale

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Served with a slice of cucumber. Pours a slightly hazy golden orange with a fizzy white head. Aroma is dry, wheaty, some lemon notes. The cucumber slice really comes through. Flavor is crisp, with a wheaty flavor, cucumber freshness, herbal and light. Different take but it works.

Waterloo

Fruit Beer(Sour)

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Pours a clear light yellow to gold color with light carbonation. Aroma is very subtle. Some tart notes and maybe fruit. Flavor is tart, dry with some flavors of wildflowers, and light peach. Has a very bready finish.Very tingly. Interesting but not my thing.

High Esteem

American Pale Ale

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Pours a clouded light orange color with a light ring of white head. Aroma is fresh hops, pine, grapefruit and sweetness. Flavor is spicy hops, pine, sweet resin and dry malts. Hoppy Finish. Good.

Double Dee

Belgian Ale

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Pours a very pretty amber orange, clear with a light white head. Aroma is malty sweet, some Belgian fruit and sugar. Flavor is roasted malts, sweet flavors and dark caramel chocolate. Sweet finish. Nice!

House Brown

Brown Ale

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House Brown 660 recipe with ramped up hops. Pours a light brown to dark amber color. Frothy off-white head. Aroma is dark malts, roasted notes, sweet chocolate and heavy grain. Flavor is roasted malts, dark chocolate, some sweetness, roasted finish. Nice hopped flavor.

Vector

Black IPA

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Pours a dark brown color with a red highlight. Foamy tan head. Aroma is hoppy and roasted, lots of malts. Flavor has lots of roasted notes with fresh hops and pine. This is probably more of a black IPA than a brown ale.

All in all this was a fantastic trip.  The brewpub is in good hands, and has been making excellent strides in the right direction.  In addition to the original beers the brewpub makes, they had several great Texas beers on tap.  I will be featuring a new one tomorrow as well!