Monday, November 28, 2011

Jester King Brewery's Commercial Suicide

You know what I like less than a beer that foams out? Nothing. Not a damn thing. It ruins the beer, strips the body, and in a beer already listed as mild there;s simply no room for this sort of thing.

Poured about 1/8 of an inch of beer, and several inches of foam. When that settled down, the beer was a coppery brown like a bock, with a head that would never go away. Which is usually a good thing, but not now.

Smells like a light Belgian beer. Like I could like it, if not for the weird yeast esters that Belgians put off.

There's something wrong with this beer. The empty taste and feel have to be because it foamed out. The cardboard bitterness, however, is most likely where it should be. But it really shouldn't be here. And it's awful bitter for a dark mild, or any mild. Like they're monkeying with the style as much as someone monkeyed with their stupid labels.

I'll probably try it again sometime just because I question whether or not something happened to this batch or this bottle. I think it was stored ok for the small amount fo time it was out of the store, but it cannot be this way on purpose.

Despite the stupid brewery name, label art and dumb beer names I've always wanted to like this brewery. They make it hard.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bell's Brewery's Oktoberfest

I'm not real sure why I've been holding on to this one, but I'm sitting across from a plate full of sausage from Taylor Cafe, so I'm glad I did.

Pours a clear golden amber with a nice light tan, pillowy head. Sweet malty smell, with a slight spicy zip to it.

A bit more bitterness in the taste than I expected based on the smell. It's actually fairly bitter for the style. Still malty, but it tastes like a fall pale, as opposed to a marzen.

I don't know. I really like the brewery, but this beer seems off type enough for me to not like it too much.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Taylor Cafe

This is Vencil Mares:

I didn't know it when I first walked in. I even took the photo before I knew it. I just liked being back in a small town where you can go to a place like this and see regulars and locals, which I thought he was. And the conversation started up easily enough--we were the only two people in the place except for two waitresses and from the sounds in the back one person cutting the meat with an electric knife. He asked where I was from, and I told him. Asked what I was doing in town, and I told him. I asked if he'd always been from Taylor, and he said just since '46, when he moved from Cistern, Texas. Turns out he left out a few things that the conversation turned up, like being a medic in WWII. If you're not familiar with medics, especially back then, they're the ones who go into combat without guns. They're there to pull people out, and can't fire back, thought they were frequent and favorite targets of the other side. Shooting a medic meant wounded soldiers would continue to draw resources in order to get them off the field, or even more frequently, die before another medic could get to them. So if anyone has earned the right to have a long life in a quiet sleepy town doing what he loves in a way that makes him a legend at it, it's Vencil. And it's a bit funny that one of the best BBQ places in town is hidden damn near under a bridge behind this door:

But if you're coming from the north, be careful to divert to the right just before the bridge (you'll know it when you see it), or else this is all you'll see:

I guess he's content to be hidden, seeing as how people seek his BBQ out without so much as a website, although others put his store on theirs. Vencil's been doing it his own way for a while--he's 87, you see, and has an air of being proud of what he does without the need to glorify it. Although if you ask him about being one of the best BBQ joints in Texas he'll probably get up and walk behind the counter to get you an autographed copy of the September 26, 2010 Taylor Daily Press, in which he was featured.

I noticed the banner and asked when his birthday was, thinking I'd missed it by a day or so because the banner was still up. "Back in November." I guess if I live that long and anyone prints me a banner, I'll leave it up and slap a new number over the old one every year, too.

As for the food, well, I reached a sort of an epiphany. Not because of the food, but because of the man. I've tried, and think I have largely succeeded, in being constructive on this blog. Except where those have billed themselves as something they're not, I've gone fairly easy. And most of those are brewers, especially those who brew something ridiculous or make claims like being a craft brewer when they are clearly not. And even those guys won't see so much as a blip because of something I've written. Nobody reads this and nothing results from it. It truly is more of a journal, intended to suffice where my memory cannot, I've just left it public.

But it has become so easy to criticize the life's work of another person. To sit back and take shots at certain things that you presume to know more about. Vencil has been doing it for decades, and no criticism of mine will compare to his life's work. 64 years in Taylor, and someone who hasn't been alive hardly half that time can criticize him? No way.

But these are my notes, and I will make them.

I ordered my standard three meat plate of sausage, ribs, and brisket, with a half chicken as well. There were only two sides--potato salad and pinto beans, so that's what I had. The potato salad was pretty good. I'm not a huge potato salad fan, but it wasn't mushy and gooey like many are, and was a little zippy. The beans seemed a little ranchy at first, but settled down and were well-cooked and got more peppery the more I had. I was a bit surprised to see the meat come out with sauce on it. The sauce was a little tomatoey, with a slight vinegar zip. Not too spicy, but otherwise a good compliment to the food.

The brisket was good, but had a ton of fat on it. It trimmed easily, but if you're buying something by the pound it would be better of it was leaner. Otherwise, it was well smoked and tender. The ribs were outstanding. Again, I wish they had been leaner, but the rub was great and they pulled away from the bone nicely. The chicken was also outstanding, well smoked by not dry. And the sausage was probably my favorite of the Hill Country sausages. All beef and lean but not dry, and also not chunky like summer sausage, it was nice and peppery and as good as everything else was, this was far better.

There are very few days where you go to eat and feel like you can come away with a sense of what Texas and BBQ should be all about, but go early and sit by Vencil. You'll get that feeling too.

Billy Joe Shaver

If you're a country music fan, and I mean real country music and not that faggotty long-haired untucked-shirt boy band fake country bullshit like half the crap on the country stations today, you need to catch Billy Joe Shaver at one of his current concerts. Or even if you're not.

He's written songs that have been sung by Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Willie Nelson, among others, and continues to write songs that tell great stories.

In addition to some of his standards, he tells stories that are rambling accounts of dead wives and a dead son, religion, a struggle to live, addiction, and salvation. Some are clearly better than others, but all are good and all can cause some serious introspection if you're listening to the words.

My particular favorite--his new song about shooting a man in the head when a bar fight got out of hand. When you look at this guy, you have to wonder with as frail as he looks (he may not be around too much longer folks, so go see him while you can), why in the hell was he fighting anyone at all? When he was asked by the prosecutor--on the stand--why he didn't retreat when the fight escalated, he responded "Ma'am, if I was chickenshit I would have. But this is Texas. And I'm not." And he was acquitted anyway.

One of the strangest things about the night was that I counted at least four songs with strong allusions to God, or Jesus, if not being completely about Christianity, and sandwiched right in the middle of them was the song about shooting a man in the head. And he sang every one of them without a hint of irony. Without a single inclination that the songs might be the least bit conflicting. God bless Texas, I guess.

Go see this guy.

...But I do no like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.

...but he doesn't want the poor to be able to see a doctor.

It's funny, to me, that those who throw the name of God around the most are also the most likely to argue against things like social services for the poor, universal health care, and such.

I'll just leave this here for you to think about.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Saint Arnold Brewing Company's Divine Reserve No. 11

Hey--y'all wouldn't happen to know where there's a local beer store that has a few bottles of DR 11 squirreled away for sale, would you?

I do. Suck it.

I'm glad to buy a few singles of this, since the DR 6 was a complete disaster in my opinion. I know it wasn't in your opinion. Feel free to write your opinions down somewhere. And yes, I know 6 was a barley wine and 11 is an imperial IPA. But you'll be hard pressed to point out any substantive differences in the two styles.

This one, however, is sitting next to me in a glass smelling much better than DR 6. It seems to be malt-forward so far, with a bigger, sweeter malt profile in the smell than you could ever get through the pine sap in a glass that they called DR 6. Big body with a nice solid bitterness that doesn't drown out everything else. Great malt backbone in what I would call a malt-forward barleywine or IIPA.

Probably the best beer St. A's has ever made. Much better than their standards, and with increased capacity I look forward to bigger batches and maybe even bombers of their bigger beers like this.


Friday, April 29, 2011

San Miguel Brewery's Red Horse Beer

In searching my past beers, I see I've already had one from the Philippines, which surprises the hell out of me.

This one pours a very clear yellow with a pretty nice white head. I'm going to call it a pilsner already, because the head is throwing off that pilsner funk. Seems kind of sweet, so I'm going with German.

No, it's too crisp for a German. So I'm switching to Czech. It's not as crisp as a Czechvar or something similar, but it's not nearly malty enough for a German. If not for a fairly strong adjunct grain harshness, it would be a very nice beer. As it is, it's just middle of the road. Better than an American macro, but that's not saying too much.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Diamond Bear Brewing Company's Paradise Porter

Pours an opaque blackish brown. Nice tan head to it. Smells great, but a bit more like a stout than a porter at first, but it does have a few tannins in there if you really try.

Still more of a stout in the taste, and feels a bit like a milk stout. Only in the aftertaste does it taste like a porter. Until then, it seems like a standard stout. A good one, but not really a porter. More heavily carbonated than I like porters to be, too.

Maybe it's because I've had this one sitting around for a while, but it seems just a bit off style.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Snake River Brewing Company's Pale Ale

I remember liking this brewery, but I don't remember why. I can't remember where I got this beer or how long ago, but I'm hoping it has held up over however long.

Pours an unfiltered deep amber with a nice light tan head. Holy Hell, I've heard and even described some beers as being floral, but this one is nuts. The head throws off a huge lavender smell. It had me wondering if there was some dish soap in the glass, but I've just been rinsing it out after every use. So it has to be coming from the beer, and I mean it is big. It smells like I'm about to drink a girl with too much perfume. I don't mind that, though. Been a while...

Odd. Smell is so attached to taste, and this smell is so big, that you can't drink this beer without smelling it and that smell is still overpowering. It has fairly strong carbonation and because the taste is so weak compared to the smell, it sort of comes across as a bland soda. Empty.

Disappointing beer, although interesting because of that smell.

Disappointing beer. Interesting though, because of that smell.

Sweet Water Brewing Company's IPA

Pours a nice amber, with a decent sized light tan head. Both good, grassy hops and a nice sweet malt. Well balanced and promising so far.

I don;t want to say it's light in the body. It's more that it's more crisp than many IPA's, and it's nice and drinkable. It has a nice bitterness to it that comes out more than the malt, which is surprising based on the smell. Still, if it was weaker in taste I would have hammered it for the lighter than usual feel. But instead, it's an all around nice, even if light, IPA.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Primo Brewing and Malting Company's Bombucha

Not so sure about Hawaiian beers.

This one pours a medium amber, but has a great light tan head. Man, the head throws off a great crisp pilsner smell. And I mean, huge. It's crisp and not very sweet, so it must be more of a Czech than a German.

Very nice. Spot on for a Czech, and a very light and drinkable beer. Every time I run across one of these I'm reminded that you don't have to be one of those asshats at Stone or Victory to make great beers. And although this is an unlikely one, it's still very good.

Blue Moon Brewing Company's Full Moon Winter Ale

An abbey ale... brewed with Belgian sugar... by a macro brewer. What the Hell, I like Budweiser, we'll see if this is any good.

Pours a nice, fairly opaque amber with a very nice head--although I poured it fast, so we'll see if there's any taste left once the head is gone. Blue Moon Brewing Company's Full Moon Winter. Pretty nice smell to it. Fairly malty and slightly peppery, like a winter (warmer?) ale should be.

Meh. Very weak in the feel compared to the appearance. Empty cardboard bitterness that fades almost immediately and leaves you with a feeling like you're missing something. Or maybe that something has even been taken from you. Or like you've been fondled by a stranger, or something.

If it was a movie, I'd want my two hours back. Instead, I'm just going to pour it out and be glad I didn't have to buy more than one of them, and them I'm going to go take a shower. Although I don't know if I'll ever feel clean again.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Live Oak Brewing Company's Primus Weizenbock

Had to google this to make sure the bartender gave me the correct style, and she was off by a touch. She said it was an eisbock, which probably would have made it a bit stronger. No big deal, and the only thing I''m a little pissed about is the "banana and cloves" description on the website. That is the faggiest beer description ever, and I hate it every time I see it.

Pours a loosely or even unfiltered brownish red, with a nice dark-ish tan head. Nice bready smell with floral hops.

It's a bit yeasty, which is where they get their banana and cloves BS. Seems almost more like a Belgian strong ale than a weisbock, because it has more body and is much smoother in the feel than any type of bock. It has the Belgian flavors in the yeast that I mostly don't like, but Live Oak makes easy to drink by making it subordinate to the malt.

Very nice beer. One of the few that I like that is this yeasty.

Descheutes Brewery's Jubelale Winter Ale

This is another one I had out of the bottle.

Nice slightly peppery zip in addition to a fair amount of bitterness in the smell. The way a warmer should be. It has a bit of an alcohol smell, but it's minor.

Tastes about the same. Not as much alcohol, but it's still there. Right on type for a warmer, but nothing terribly spectacular.

Harpoon Brewery's Leviathan Barleywine

Had this one out of the bottle, so I'm fairly clueless as to the appearance.

It has a solid, sweet, bready malt-forward smell. Big and smooth in the feel, with a good grassy bitter kick to it, but still feels maltier than most barleywines. Glad to see it, too. Most breweries think they have to hop the style up beyond recognition, so a maltier version is a good find.