Thursday, November 13, 2014

Been Away But Not Gone

Sorry I have been away from this Blog for way to long, but no I have not stopped my pursuit of that perfect pint of beer.  But I will be back blogging about my adventures searching for that perfect beer, that perfect food pairing and any new a exciting news in out "Beerverse"  .

The world of craft beer here in South Louisiana is still as exciting as ever.  There are many more beers and brewers that will be starting distribution in the area during 2015.  I am optimistic that the variety and quality of the beers will continue to excel.  

One of the most impressive and enjoyable beers I have had in quite awhile, has come from Louisiana's biggest Craft Brewer - Abita.   Anita Brewery was founded in 1986 in Abita, LA, which is about 30 miles north of New Orleans, across Lake Pontchartrain.  They have since had to expand due to great demand for quality beer.  The old brewery is now the site of the 100 seat tap room.   

I was fortunately lucky enough to have been gifted a 22 ounce bottle of the Bourbon Street Imperial Stout.  I must disclose that I am a fan of Porters and Stouts, especially those that have been bourbon  barrel aged.    This beer is made with combination of pale, caramel, chocolate and roasted malts.  First it is aged for 6 weeks then transferred to the bourbon barrels and aged for another 8 weeks.  It is an Imperial Stout so the ABV is 10% with a low IBU (international battering units) of 20.  This is the first beer from the Bourbon Street series.    I am curious to learn of the beers panned next in this series.   After this one the bar has been set high!

This was a very good Imperial Stout.  The 10%ABV was well hidden which is a good thing, but be careful it can sneak up on ya!!  The Stout poured a nice dark black color with a small bubble creamy colored head.  The aroma was roasted malts and mild vanilla notes.  I did not get a strong bourbon aroma like some barrel aged beers.  The taste was great,  heavy roasted, chocolate and coffee flavors, with a lil sweetness.   Subtle notes of the oak, vanilla and bourbon was present.  Again not as prominent as some, but is a good way.  This beer I am sure was made better with the aging and it added complexity to the beer without overpowering it.    I enjoy beer aged in bourbon barrels vs. ones that remind me more of bourbon aged in beer barrels.   The IBU of 20 definitely left you with that sweet roasted flavor and little hops bitterness.   It was moderately carbonated.

As you can tell I am a fan of this beer! In my opinion a great beer for those cold winter nights to enjoy around a fire.  It is worth a try if you enjoy stouts or want to expand your palate into bourbon barrel aged beers.   I am considering picking up a few bottles to see how this beer holds up to aging.   I think as a 10% ABV beer the flavors may mature well over time.   The question will be if I can sit there and let it age, being that I did enjoy it so much.

And Once again   I am Back!!!    More blog post to come.  I hope you enjoy!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Cinco de Mayo --- the real reason for beer and nachos

I am one American who often does not need much of a reason to raise a glass and make a toast, hell sometimes any day that ends in "Y" will work!  Today is the 5th of May, Cinco de Mayo as my friends South of the border call it.  But no it is not the Mexican Independence day -- That is Sept 16, the date that Father Hidalgo issued the "Grito de Dolores" a call to arms to overthrow the Spanish in 1810.

Cinco de Mayo is not a nation wide holiday in Mexico no matter what Kenny Chesney or the Most Interesting Man in the word would like you to believe.  It is a date that is special to the Mexican State Puebla.  In May of 1862 the French army, who was at that time still a kick ass military forces was marching towards Mexico City to collect unpaid debt that Mexico owed to France.   Mexico was essentially broke.  Along the way to Mexico City, the French Army passed the state of Puebla where a group of approximately 3000 farmers, armed with old rifles and machetes defeated the "superior" French Army of over 8000 troops and drove them back toward the coast.  Unfortunately the French returned about a year later with 30,000 troops and captured Mexico City. The French maintained rule for 3 years.  The Mexican people then were able to overthrow the French with aid from the USA now that our Civil War was over in 1866.

The Battle Puebla is remembered each May 5th, mainly in the State of Puebla.  But it commemorates an event that served to bolster the Mexican resistant movement and became Mexico's David vs Goliath story.  Ironically it is their "Remember the Alamo"  It also served as the launch point for a young officer who was an excellent leader during the battle named Porfiro Diaz.  Diaz became president of Mexico in 1876 and ruled for 35 years, till 1911.

So now that you know the real reason behind  CINCO DE MAYO.... Enjoy a few cervezas (although in my opinion Mexican beer, especially the imported one here is the USA are average at best) I would suggest Modelo,  Tecate. Corona or Dos Equis.  Also no lime...but that is a post for later.

Toast the brave fighters who fought and won (at least for a year) defending their Country against a superior invading force.

Now that we know the real story.   Happy Cinco De Mayo

Sunday, April 27, 2014

St Arnold Beers and Lacasa del Sol Beer Dinner April 2014

The last few months have been great for the food and beer lovers of the area.  Once again I was fortunate to be able to attend another Beer Dinner pairing at Lacasa Del Sol restaurant in Thibodaux.  The popularity of these events have been great and there is now a waiting list, even for the upcoming event that is months away.  The food was prepared by Chef Roy Gilbeau Jr and paired with beers from St Arnold Brewery ...Texas oldest craft brewery.

St Arnold, the patron Saint of Brewers
The first course was Jicama & Tangerine Salad with Grilled Shrimp paired with St. Arnold Summer Pils.  This was a great spring time appetizer that was tasty with the Jicama, tangerine and red apple slaw.  The Grilled Shrimp were excellent, fresh and full flavor.   If only there was sugarcane mature enough in April to add to the shrimp.  But the effort of the staff to secure some at 1 am in the morning is much appreciated.  The St Arnold Summer Pils is a classic Czech Pilsner with German Malts and nobel hops.   and IBU of 41 and ABV of 4.9%.
Jicama & Tangerine Grilled Shrimp
The next course was my favorite dish of the night.... Crema de Elote with Jumbo Lump Crabmeat and Queso Fresco paired with St Arnold Weedwacker.  The corn based soup was perfect and the fresh local lump crabmeat was perfectly executed.   (I was even lucky enough to score some the next day for lunch). The St Arnold  Weedwacker  is a unique beer that it is the same beer as the Lawnmower , but uses Bavarian Hefeweizen yeast instead of the Kolsch yeast.   It is unfiltered and the notes of clove and banana are present.  4.9%ABV and IBU of 15.   A nice comparison is to try the Lawnmower and a Weedwacker and notice the difference that just changing the yeast  used in the brewing process creates a different and distinct beer,
Crema de Elote with Jumbo Lump Crabmeat & Queso Fresco
The following course was a Brown Butter Poached Mahi-Mahi with potatoes & chorizo paired with St Arnold Lawnmower.   The Mahi-Mahi was prepared different than what I have had in the past and I found it very tasty, moist and remained the flavor of an already mild tasting fish.  It was poached in clarified butter at about 200 degrees for 25 mins.  It was lightly seasoned.  The fish was moist and flavorful.  The seasoned potatoes and chorizo complemented the fish well.   The pairing of the St Arnold Lawnmower worked well. It is a nice crisp classic Kolsch style beer with an IBU of 20 and ABV os 4.9.
Brown Butter Poached Mahi Mahi with Potatoes & Chorizo
The fourth course was Duck Confit Empanadas with Avocado Relish paired with St Arnold Endeavor.  The Duck Confit was excellent again.  in this meal it was used in an empanada vs. in a fresh salad.    another favorite dish of the beer dinners.  I am not much of an avocado fan, but based on the plates of the people near me it was well prepared because it was gone!   The St Arnold Endeavor is a double IPA that was initially brewed as the Devine Reserve #11.   I thought is was a very good IPA with an IBU of 76 and an ABV of 8.9%.   I see IPA's are slowly growing in popularity in this area as the palates of the beer drinkers are maturing.   What is nice to see is that after having the beer paired with the food some patrons said now that is much better.   It is art , it is science but when it works it is sure nice to witness.
Duck Confit Empanadas with Avocado Relish
The next to last course was Smoked Brisket with Charo Beans and Chimichurri pair with St Arnold Santo.  This was a good pairing,  the brisket to me was a bit bitter and maybe a bit over smoked. ( I tend to be picky with my smoked food being a proud Big Green Egg --Low and Slow cooker)   The meat was tender and Charo beans were excellent.  It also worked well with the St Arnold Santo.   This beer seem to be well received and many customers were commenting of how much they enjoyed this beer and pairing. Santo has an IBU of 17 and ABV of 4.7%. It is a hybrid style that they call a "Black Kolsch".  The addition of the black malt gives it a unique and pleasing flavor. 
Smoked Brisket with Charo Beans & Chimichurri
The final course was a Dark Chocolate & Chipotle Pecan encrusted Fried Ice Cream with Espresso Whipped Cream paired with St Arnold Bishop's Barrel No 4.   I was really excited about this course being a fan of chocolate and a Big fan of the St Arnold Bishop's Barrel series.    The slight disappointment, which is also a plus was the amount of food we received with the prior courses, I was getting a bit full.  But it did not stop me!!  The dessert was delicious, perhaps a little to much heat from the chipotle, I am more a sweet than savory dessert guy.  But with the St Arnold Bishop's Barrel no 4, it was a great way to end another very well done Beer Dinner.   The Bishop Barrel is Wiezenbock with cocoa nibs that is aged in Bourbon barrels.  It is blended with 10% fresh beer and has an ABV of 9.9%.   I had to grab a second glass to enjoy on the way out.  The beer alone would of been a perfect dessert in my book.
Pecan Encrusted Chocolate and Chipotle Fried Ice Cream

Another successful beer dinner is in the books.  I am looking forward to the next one.  I really like the way they pair it with one brewery.  I find that format much more enjoyable than some presentations that I been to that are distributor pushed and almost feels like a sales pitch.  The feed back that I am receiving from other customers is that they are impressed with the quality of the food and the value.  60$/person which includes tax and is hard to beat!  If you get a chance to make the next early and get on the list.  I'll see ya there because i hope not to miss one!

I'll conclude this long post with a group photo of A few of the attendees, Chef Guilbeau, Halston - the St Arnaold rep( I may have to write a post just on her, she was a pleasure to meet and her passion was awesome)  & myself.   


Saturday, April 19, 2014

A Long Awaited Beer and Not Disappointed KBS - Kentucky Breakfast Stout

When I first heard that Founders Brewing was going to be distributed in Louisiana starting in April of 2014, the first thing I thought was

My hopes were that we, the beer lovers of the area, would be lucky enough to get some in the Houma Thibodaux area, but I had some doubt due to the fact that we were just bringing Founders in to Louisiana the month of the year, April that KBS is released.  KBS is a highly sort after beer with limited production that is only released once a year.  KBS is currently rated #5 of the Top 250 beers on Beer Advocate.

So as luck has it the Houma/Thibodaux area was able to get there hands on one keg of KBS.  It was tapped on 4-17-14 at Whch Craft? in Houma.  An old high school friend of mine sent me a message and out the door I went.  Both to my happiness and disappointment there was a good crowd of men and women sampling KBS, happy because it is great to see the passion for good beer grow in this area, but disappointed that it meant the KBS would not last as long on tap  :)

So after the many year wait I finally get my first pour of KBS... As some of my readers may know I am a fan of Imperial Stouts, but sometimes worry that the wait and the hype creates a certain picture and flavor in ones mind that can be hard for the beer to live up to the expectations.  But in this case I was not disappointed at all!

Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) is brewed once a year by Founders Brewing out of Grand Rapids, MI.  It is an imperial stout that is aged in bourbon barrels for over 1 year in a cave at 55 degrees.  Each April the relativity small amount of beer is released across the country.  

KBS poured from the tap a nice dark black color with some hints of dark brown highlights .  The head was a small bubble, tight tan color.  The aroma was roasted, coffee, chocolate with hints of the bourbon.  As the beer warmed I felt the roasted notes were accentuated and the bourbon tones faded a little.  The mouth feel was full and smooth with a bit of creaminess.  The carbonation was mild.  The that is where it gets really special....was very good, multi levels of flavors that compliment well.  Bold roasted coffee, chocolate , and vanilla flavors were present.  The  bourbon notes and flavor compliment well but not as bold and up front as some barrel aged beers I have had in the past. There was mild bitterness that seem to be more from the coffee and chocolate aspect as opposed to in your face hops.  The alcohol content was not present when the beer was first poured.  It left a great lace along the glass.  But be careful at 11.2%ABV it is a "big boy" beer, it will sneak up on you.  (to prove that taste is a subjective thing my wife drank a KBS and said it was ok, she was not  overly impressed with it.  she said there was "some" aftertaste that she picked up...but she did finish it)

Is this the #5 best beer in the world....well that is hard to decide, as taste is so subjective.   But I can tell you this is one very good beer.  So good the I returned to Which Craft the following day to have another before the tap runs dry.  I think the limited release of this beer adds to the desire of KBS, but again I do feel the hype is justified.  If you get a chance to try some KBS this year, do not pass up the opportunity.   So Far I have been impress with he Founders' Beers that have been released in Louisiana, also give their other beers a try.   I got a feeling you will enjoy them.