Eine gute dunkle Bier: Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel

On the docket:  1/2L bottle of Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel  5.3% abv.

Poured into:  Weizen glass courtesy of my ex-navy brother.

S:  Tawny, muddy brown body dwarfed by an immense column of tan, spongy, billowy head that lasts longer than a prog-rock guitar solo.  Lacing is delicate and even down the sides of the weizen glass.  Tiny bubbles shoot to the top to join their bandmates.

A:  Fruity esters of banana and bubblegum.  A subtle spice phenol, clove-like.  Malty sweetness with a very low hop presence.  Think banana runts candy, which I happen to like.  Inhale gently and you can also detect a little tang from the wheat.  One may also get a hint of brown bread and caramel.

T:  Much of the aroma is in the taste- notes of banana, malty sweetness, wheat-y tang.  There are also suggestions of caramel and brown bread.  Flavor wise, this beer boasts balance.  Nothing overpowers anything else, the elements work in harmony.  Hops take a back seat to the malt presence here, likely Vienna or Munich, or both.

F:  Quite enough tingle.  Overall, very smooth, rich, and coating.  Creamy, and yet fluffy.  Call it a medium-plus feel.

O:  A fantastic rendition of the style, one of those “go-tos” for artistically crafted dark German beer; always a pleasure to drink.

S:  4.25  A:  4.75  T:  4.5  F:  4.25  O:  4.25

Suggested food pairing:  braised venison, chocolate cake, banana bread, asiago cheese

A Tyrant of a Brew: Clown Shoes’ Rexx

On the docket:  22 oz.  Clown Shoes’ Rexx Imperial Red Ale aged in Bourbon Barrels

Poured into:  Libbey Belgian stemmed-tulip

S:  A bold and ferric red body supports a tightly clinging beige head of foam.  Opaque with an almost purple highlight at the bottom.  Bubbles soar to the top, and lacing already clings in regular but thin rings.

A:  This king of a brew roars with spice and vanilla at the forefront, plus a trickle of higher alcohols and wood.  The bourbon aroma is quite dominant.  The hops seem to have retreated into the underbrush.

T:  The barrels are certainly present (Heaven Hill and Four Roses) in the initial taste, but not so heavy that the beer is petrified.  Notes of molasses, caramel, tangy spice from the rye, plus balancing hop bitterness comprises the full experience.  The full clade of flavors and the IBU are more apparent as the beer warms up a bit.

F:  Thick (I’d say medium +), full, oily.  Decent carbonation, just enough to scrub your mouth and cause you to go back for more.

O:  Disclaimer-  I’m hit or miss with BBA style beers, regardless of base style.  However, I truly enjoyed this one, and come on- who doesn’t like dinosaurs?  Grab this one while it’s still around, lest it go extinct.  When it comes to Clown Shoes, I “spare no expense.”  Bonus points for recognizing that reference.

S:  3.75  A:  4  T:  4.25  F:  3.75  O:  4

Suggested food pairing:  by itself, gamey meat such as venison, smoked cold cuts, earthy cheese, red velvet cakes or cupcakes, carrot cake

Place Your Bets: Left Hand’s Black Jack Porter

On the docket:  Left Hand Brewing Co.’s Black Jack Porter

Poured into:  Innis & Gunn stemmed tulip

S:  Deep dark mahogany with orange and red highlights split the visual duty of the body, while a khaki colored head builds then recedes down to a small cap.  Tiny bubbles lazily make their way to the top.

A:  Rich, roasted dark malt doubled-down by subtle chocolate and coffee.  Faint herbal notes show up too, giving some insurance from the hops.  There’s also a small hit of heat from the alcohol, but nothing to get busted over.

T:  Washes of coffee and chocolate deal a one-two combination in the beginning.  Sweet malt and roast in the middle of the hand, with a small bite of astringency, alcohol and herbal hops round out this beauty.  The boozy quality is a bit more apparent as this one warms up.

F:  Smooth, velvety mouthfeel; likely due to the wheat used in this interpretation. Medium weight and a pleasant carbonation.  The bubbles are enough to allow the beer to stay refreshing and not flat.

O:  Pleasant, easy to drink American take on an English style.  I’d argue that this is more a robust porter than an actual brown due to the roasted qualities.  Regardless, it’s a delicious beer, one I’d bet on having again.

S:  4  A:  4.25  T:  4.25  F:  4  O:  4.25

Suggested food pairing:  low-and-slow barbecue ribs, earthy Havarti cheese, chocolate or coffee flavored desserts

Best. Beer. Books.

Early on I posted, then added to my pages a list of beer resources.  This list is similar, but different.  Below I’ve compiled a list  (all of which I own) of beer books, hyperlinked to Amazon, each with its own focus:

Tasting Beer:  An Insider’s Guide to the World’s Greatest Drink

How to Brew

The Audacity of Hops

The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food

1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die

If you think I’ve missed one, feel free to let me know.  Happy reading.

Best Little Farmhouse in Texas

On the docket:  22 oz. bottle of Jester King’s Snörkel, Farmhouse style ale brewed with Oyster mushrooms and smoked sea salt.  Bottle date:  6/17/2015.

Poured into:  Brand new Snörkel snifter, courtesy of my generous BA friend, Ozzylizard

S:  A golden-delicious apple gold body that supports a quickly dissipating thick, stark white head.  Tiny bubbles journey to the top like they mean business.  There’s a fair amount of haze in this one,

A:  Lemony citrus greet the senses, mixed with a gentle spice and a bit of barnyard funk, as most would term it.  No discernable hop aroma wafting off the head.

T:  Wow.  Lots of flavors working together in this beer.  An initial lemon zest gives way to tart, almost mouth-puckering acidity.  Tangy wheat and sour yeast.  It certainly took me by surprise.  There’s a bit of pale-malt doughy sweetness in there, but briefly.  The conclusion of my first sip yielded earthy, woody, umami richness.  It ends quite dry, and the mushroom presence lingers a few seconds after the liquid is on its way down.  One should also take note of the sea-salt, and a very maritime, mineral like flavor, plus a bit of smoke not unlike peaty scotch.  This would be an excellent addition to a plate of raw shellfish, especially the briny, salty varieties of oysters and mussels.  It’s sort of like getting the whole “raw bar” experience in one beer- perhaps minus the cocktail sauce.

F:  Light, well attenuated, and showcasing excellent effervescence for not being something like a Belgian tripel (my general benchmark for bubbles in beer).  Long finish, as evidenced in the paragraph above.

O:  Unusual but flavorful example of the farmhouse style.  The components play well with each other, especially the funk and salt and umami.  One of the best I’ve had, in part appealing to my love of mushrooms.

S:  3.75  A:  4  T:  4.5  F:  4  O:  4

Suggested food pairing:  Raw shellfish, salads with lemon based dressing, stir-fry with mushrooms, hummus and pita chips

Review #7: ein Fest Bier- Paulaner’s Oktoberfest Märzen

Though just a bit early, I thought it time to review an iconic seasonal beer style:  the German Märzen, or what Americans typically call Oktoberfest beer.  Consumed in great quantity commencing the middle of September until the first Sunday in Germany inside cities like München (Munich) under tents, and consumed with copious amounts of wursts and pretzels.  This is a cherished style for Bavarians.  These beers were originally brewed in the spring and lagered for months (translation:  stored) and signaled the traditional end of the brewing season.

On the docket:  Paulaner’s Oktoberfest Märzen, 11.2 oz. bottle, best-by date of 5/16

S:  Thick foamy off-white head crowns a burnished, crystal-clear amber body.  Tiny bubbles constantly journey up to replace the now-receded thin cap of head.

A:  A few sniffs reveal a bread-crust, malty sweetness, a touch of toffee, almost no hop presence, clean lager aroma, with no fruit but just a notion of alcohol.

T:  A sweet start, aided by toasted bread-crust, and malt.  It starts to dry out in the middle, ending with a crisp thirst-quenching smack.  Very subtle noble hops with tastes of hay and gentle spice.  Did I mention the dry finish?

F:  This one has a medium body, and nice carbonation.  Though it has a short finish, you go back for more.

O:  An excellent and typical example of this seasonal style, though the brewery produces this year-round.

Food pairing suggestions:  German, German, and perhaps German.  Great with authentic Bavarian pretzels, wursts, spätzel… and don’t forget the mustard.