craft beer

Texas Chapter CATS Fest Meet Up

img_0032Heck yeah! If your in Texas or even close to the state you won’t want to miss this one. Texas is having their official annual meet up this year at CATS Fest V in Bulvetde, TX (that’s basically San Antonio). Will be kicking things off Friday May 26th in the evening at the CATS pre-party and of course we’ll really be getting things going on Saturday May 27th at the event.

As usual the La Quinta is home base for everything and where the majority of us will be staying. Information on tickets and booking a hotel are available at the CATS Fest website: Catsfestival.com

For specific information contact your chapter officers and they will give you all the details on when and where we will all be meeting. Hope to see a ton of us out there this year!

The address for the event is:

401 Obst Road Bulverde, Texas 78163

Goose Island IPA

goose-islandDebuting back in 1988 that sexy goose of a logo made its way to its home town of Chicago bringing more then just an idea. Inspired by the European craft market john hall, C.E.O of Goose Island felt Americans deserved at least a little of what Europe had to offer.

John hall opened a small brewery and began to create magic, allowing his consumers to get a behind the scenes look of every step in the process. The fascination of brewing a craft beer like no other was propelled by the demand of beer loving pallets. 1995 was the year john pretty much out grew his humble facility and decided a larger brewery was the next move. That same year john opened a bottling plant and by 1999 a brewpub was already established.

The Goose Island IPA smells of lemonade and orange peels a bold citrus aroma with color resembling the golden gates of heaven what more could you ask from a proper brewed IPA? It’s one of those “grab a couple with some buds at a BBQ” beer. Carbonation is on the medium, almost light side but then again we’re talking about an IPA so its definitely hop driven with a bitter after taste. For those of you who’ve never given the goose a try I’d recommend requesting it at your local bar because something about this brew on draft takes it to a whole different level.

Style: American IPA

ABV: 5.9%

Website: GooseIsland.com

Rating: 4 out of 5 pints

Review by guest writer Andy Melo.

Leaf by Oscar: Island Jim #2

IMG_2679Until recently, in my area of Florida, it was difficult to find anything from Leaf by Oscar which of course included the Island Jim. Thanks to the cigar bombing list I’ve been lucky enough to try a few and this time when I was sent an Island Jim #2 I knew I needed to write about it for a couple of reasons. First, they are difficult to get around here, next they look amazing, and third I knew exactly which prop I was going to use, (come on you know my love of toys…excuse me deluxe action figures) and so the photos began. After the “photo shoot” with the cigar and its model it was time to smoke it. Luckily Distinguished Ruffian_Juice was free to go grab some drinks at one of our local hang outs, The House of Brews.

The initial look of this stick is delightful. The wrapper is smooth with light veining and none of it heavy. Its shape is that of almost a torpedo with an unfinished foot and an open head. The construction feels solid with no dead or open spots to be found. The smell from the body was not overbearing and gave off notes of leather, wet grass, and a bit of nuttiness. From the foot these odors were more prominent and gained slight spice and coffee notes.

Lighting is easy thanks to the “shaggy” foot that everyone seems to be referring to it as. I chose not to cut the head since it was already open. The draw offered little resistance and it was easy to get a nice, full mouthful of medium weighted smoke that delivered all the flavors this cigar had to offer.

From the first draw I immediately picked up the peppery taste that I noticed from smelling the foot. That flavor was well complemented by the taste of nuts and a distant flavor of hay. As I continued to smoke, the construction of this cigar held up to its looks. There was a consistent even burn with no runs and a tight greyish ash that held for 1.5” to 2” before falling off each time. I made it through the first half with virtually no change in flavor, which was fine by me since it was fantastic.

As I neared the second third of the cigar the spicy flavor started to take a back seat to new heavily roasted coffee tones and a bready taste becoming more prominent. While the change this late in the cigar was unexpected it was not detrimental to the smoke. It didn’t change my over all opinion of the stick rather it added a new dynamic to it that made me more interested. With this new flavor I smoked this cigar down to the nub until it began to burn my fingers and then used my knife to hold it until I could smoke no more of it.

In total this is a great cigar. Aesthetically it is a great looking cigar, the construction is phenomenal, the lighting is easy, the draw is comfortable, it provides plenty of medium weighted smoke and the flavor is well balanced and more than enjoyable. I would recommend this to anyone who likes a cigar in the medium to not quite heavy range and it is great for either daytime or a nighttime smoke.

 

Wrapper: Nicaragua Jalapa

Binder: Honduran

Filler: Unreleased

Honduras
Size: 6.5 x 52

Taste: Medium body.

Website: Leafbyoscarcigar.com

Price: Around $10.00 a stick depending on location.

Rating: 4.4 out of 5 pints.

Swallowed by the Sea Monster

Ballast photoFolks, put on your sea legs! This week I am reviewing Sea Monster Imperial Stout by Ballast Point Brewing of San Diego.

While fishing around for a dark beer, I was lured in by the bright color of an anglerfish. At that moment, I wasn’t sure if I was hunter or the hunted. So I defaulted in confidence that I was the hunter, reeled in a bottle of this Sea Monster, and hurried home to give it a shot.

Upon opening the beer I got hit with pleasant scents of coffee and light chocolate. When I poured the beer into my glass, I wished I had my eyes shined like Riddick, because this monster poured pitch black. At the top of the glass, caramel brown foam formed, giving it a very attractive dual tone appearance.

When this beer first hit my lips, I was immediately taken aback. The scent definitely matched the flavor. Coffee and chocolate were the first things I recognized followed by a slight bitter finish. I relaxed and enjoyed it to the very last drop. That was until I noticed I was a little too relaxed. I ran back to the bottle and looked for the ABV. That’s when I knew, I was the hunted. At a healthy 10% ABV, this Sea Monster had me right where it wanted me. Yet, I had no regrets.

Overall this is a good beer for all of us dark beer lovers out there. Proceed with caution on this one. It will not be an all-night beer but, it is definitely a good beer to have 1-2 of without over doing it.

Ruffians I recommend you go pull this Sea Monster from the “drink”. Just don’t let it drink you. Cheers

 

Rating: 4 ½ / 5  Pints

ABV: 10%

Brewery: Ballast Point Brewery

Website: http://www.ballastpoint.com

Flying Dog Brewery’s Pearl Necklace

IMG_0282Pearl Necklace is an American stout brewed with local Rappahannock River Oysters. Flying Dog originally started Pearl Necklace as a seasonal brew but launched it into the market year round in May of 2012. In the production of this beer Flying Dog has partnered with Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) and proceeds from this beer are donated to them to help restore oysters in the Chesapeake Bay. In addition to helping the ORP in their mission they also managed to make a great tasting stout.

The color of this beer was as dark as expected, close to that of cola or mud. It left a nice dingy colored head about 1.5 fingers think that lingered for a respectable amount of time. The smell of malt was clearly present along with that of coffee and a hint of sea air in the background.

The flavor was full and complex but not heavy. It started with a rich dark chocolate flavor that shifted to coffee and nut flavors with a hint of honey. Only at the end was there a small amount of brine flavor. The carbonation was what I would consider to be average, which kept the feeling of the beer light on the tongue giving a good balance from the full flavor. A good amount of lacing could be noticed on the glass while drinking as well.

As stouts go this is a well crafted beer. Not only is it pleasing to the nose, but also has a drinkability that won’t limit you to just one or two beers. In addition to it being a good beer it is actually doing something good in their community by helping the ORP. It would be hard to find a reason to not recommend this beer.

 

Brewer: Flying Dog Brewery

Website: flyingdogbrewery.com

ABV: 5.5%

Rating: 4.7 out of 5 pints.

Photo by @syndie_marie

Left Hand Brewing’s Good Juju

IMG_0294Good Juju is one of Left Hand’s seasonal brews. It’s based of off a standard pale ale but has organic ginger added to it. I’ve enjoyed most of the beers by Left hand and happen to really enjoy ginger so I decided to give it a try and I wasn’t disappointed.

The over all look of this beer was a clear but dark copper. There was an average amount of carbonation, which gave the beer about a finger high head that quickly subsided. Minimal lacing could be noted on the glass during drinking. On the nose it had a full scent of hops with a rich amount of ginger.

I took the first sip reluctantly not knowing what to expect and was pleasantly surprised by the flavor. It was full but not heavy, with sweetness from the malt and touch of bitterness. The ginger allowed for a crisp and clean finish and made this an easy beer to drink.

For a spiced beer this was very enjoyable. It was easy to drink multiples of this beer and they consistently tasted great. The aroma given off provides for a greater drinking experience and enhances the beers flavor. If you’re in the mood for a light but flavorful beer this is the direction you should head.

 

Company: Left Hand Brewing

Website: lefthandbrewing.com 

ABV: 4.5%

Rating: 4.3 out of 5 pints

Sweet Water’s 420 Extra Pale Ale

IMG_0290While Sweet Water’s 420 Extra Pale Ale’s name first conjures images of those like Jay and Silent Bob, it gets its name from the day it was brewed. Originally created on April 20th 1997 it gets it’s amusing title.

Since 420 Extra Pale Ale is part of Sweet Water’s year round selection and their most popular so I picked up a sixer at the local liquor store and give it a try. It poured nicely with about two fingers worth of head at the end. There was an average amount of carbonation so the head vanished rather quickly. Do to the average carbonation the lacing on the glass was apparent but still minimal.

The color was a light gold to strawberry blonde. It has a full aroma of hops with hints of jasmine and a light citrus odor. The taste is light and clean, with the hops at the front and a bitter finish. Hidden in the mix is a light floral flavor, citrus and the taste of cut grass. Sweet Water describes it as “A tasty West Coast Style Pale Ale with a stimulating hop character and a crisp finish.”

There’s no shortage of Pale Ales out there and with most of them having no noticeable difference between them, it is nice to find one that has a fuller flavor to it. 420 would go nicely with most any activity and most foods. If you haven’t tried this beer yet I recommend giving it a try.

 

Brewer: Sweet Water Brewing Company

ABV: 5.4%

Rating: 4.1 pints out of 5