Thursday, November 30, 2006

'Beerfest' the movie returns to Alamo Drafthouse

As I noted in a previous post, Beerfest didn't do to well with the critics, but hell, with this menu of German beer & food that the Alamo will include with the ticket price, I could even sit through Showgirls again. M'Lady bought me a ticket for Christmas. Anyone want to join me? I'll be at the Thursday (Dec. 28) showing.

Well of course I speak German — this blog is about beer

Okay, no I don't. But I noticed that somebody from Germany used Google's translator service to look at my blog, which I think is pretty cool. Here's what it looks like, but don't blame me if it's grammatically incorrect.

EDIT: WTF? The German equivalent of "Lee" is "Schutze"?

Thanks Cristen!

I was just complaining on another blog about how my Blogger profile photo has me wearing a Texas Tech shirt borrowed from my dad, which just ain't right. But I loved the photo too much to give it up – it has me hugging a beer (necessary for this blog) and my beautiful wife (necessary for other reasons). So Cristen (aka Mrs. Noxious), who has much more computer savvy than I, helped me out with this nice job of Photoshopping. Awesome!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Superstitious beer drinking

I have to be careful which beers I drink while I'm watching UT football. Earlier this year, grabbing beer to take to our Glorious Victory in the National Championship, I almost reflexively grabbed some Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, which I love, but then I realized: It would be really bad karma to be drinking California beer while we play USC. Especially a Cali beer with a red and yellow label.

Today, I was digging through some holiday beers in the fridge while preparing for the A&M game, and almost reached for a Samuel Adams Cranberry Lambic. Now, aside from the rather obvious point that it is just not appropriately manly to drink any kind of fruit beer while watching football – I really don't need to reinforce UT stereotypes to Aggie Dave any more than necessary (especially after the baked brie incident earlier this year) – I realized that it really wouldn't do to be drinking any @#$%! maroon beer.

Alas, dammit, the result of the game made my beer taste bad regardless. Maybe I should have bought some orange pumpkin beer?

Fine Dining

So, many posts ago, I thanked Mick and Adam for giving this book titled Beers of the World, which reviews over 350 "classic" beers, as the book calls them. And most of them are really interesting, and the book even makes some culinary recommendations to accompany each beer. Most of the recommendations are rather noble-sounding suggestions like "grilled salmon," "barbecued meats," or even "serve as an aperitif."

But for some inexplicable reason, it also reviews all the major American breweries – as if anyone who is going to purchase this would be seeking a review of Bud or Coors. So Todd P. was perusing the book before M'Lady's drunken karaoke birthday brawl, and he got a laugh out of the Miller High Life food pairing: "ham sandwiches." Yeah, that sounds about right. ("Champagne of Beers"? Well, you can get really cheap-ass crappy champagne.)

The one that really befuddled us, though, was Milwaukee's Best: "curries."

Curries?!? You know, when I sit down for a nice Indian meal, even a lowbrow buffet like Star of India, I can't say I've ever asked the waiter for a Milwaukee's Best. I've never even contemplated it. I suggested to Todd that the best thing to pair up with Milwaukee's Best is "more Milwaukee's Best." Clark T looked over Todd's shoulder at that moment and commented, "That should say 'Tums.' "

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Strange Ways People Find Me

Most of the hits I get that aren't from friends come from search engines; people looking for info on Shiner 97 and Oklahoma Suks beer have been my biggest traffic-getters. But the strangest search I've seen so far has been a Google on the phrase "how to annoy Lee." I was quite certain this must have come from Bob Noxious, as this is a favorite pastime of his, but in fact it came from Southampton, England. I'm pretty sure I don't know anyone there, but I do know I'd like to drink beer with them.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Winter beers to warm me up

The Christmas beers are hitting the shelves, and I've already been sampling a few. Of course the first one I got was the Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, which is not only my favorite winter brew, but maybe my favorite beer, period. No need to rave on too much about it – anybody who likes seasonal beers has had it by now, and if not, go get some immediately.

I also grabbed a 12-pack of Red Hook Winter Hook because it was on sale at HEB. I really don't understand why Red Hook went with this particular recipe. It's a particularly unexceptional beer. Which isn't to say it isn't good, just not spectacular. Most breweries like to really whip out Da Bomb for a special release, and this just isn't it. That said, you can rest assured I'll finish the 12.

Next I went to another special fave, Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome. Now this is a glorious winter brew – the alcohol level and malt combine for a nice warming effect that sits in your belly like a nice glass of hot chocolate. And it's even better when you get a fresh bottle, not the two-year-old bottles I've been drinking (see earlier posts).

And then today, I completely chanced upon another one. I noticed a guy in HEB carrying a six-pack that was clearly a New Belgium product, but not one I had ever seen before. And as I've noted before, just seeing that familiar red label on that peculiar brown bottle with the ring around the neck is all the recommendation I need. And sure enough, it's a winner. It's called 2 Below Ale (actually, it's 2 [degrees] Below Ale, but blogger won't allow me to make that little superscript circle), and it has a rich, warming flavor. Hints of orange, drizzled in brown sugar and butter, and heavy on the roasted malts. Mmmm.

But I'm confused. New Belgium, like the Belgian breweries it imitates, always makes a serving temperature recommendation on the bottle. The 2 Below bottle recommends that it be drunk very cold — 37 degrees. (Most of their beers come with recommendations of 45 or 55.) This is strange for two reasons: First, excessive cold numbs your tastebuds and kills the taste of beer. Second, why in the hell would you want an almost-freezing beer in winter? To get even colder?
All the great winter beers are best drunk after letting them warm ever so slightly out of the fridge – "chilled, but not cold" as I believe the Chimay bottles always say. I took a sip of 2 Below straight out of the fridge, and it didn't do much for me. After letting it warm, the flavors came out so much more. So I say ignore the brewmaster's recommendation and drink this like any sensible winter beer lover would.

Other winter brews I've spotted but haven't had a chance to grab yet this season: St. Arnold's Christmas Ale, and a longtime favorite, Young's Winter Warmer. And all this made me remember: We're only about a month away from Bobnoxious' Winter Beer Tasting Party! I finally got to attend my first last year, and it was a gloriously good time. I can't wait for the 2006 edition. I already feel warm and fuzzy just thinking about it.

EDIT: Others I just noticed: Samuel Adams Winter Lager, and the Samuel Adams Winter Classics Mix Pack, a 12-pack containing two bottles each of: Boston Lager, Old Fezziwig Ale, Winter Lager, Holiday Porter, Black Lager, and Cranberry Lambic. I was hoping to make it out of the Hancock HEB without spending any money, but I fell for the mix pack.

EDIT2: Well, so far I've tried the Old Fezziwig, Winter Lager, and the Lambic, and was only marginally impressed. The Old Fezziwig had a subtle taste of cinnamon, which was nice; the Lambic was actually too subtle, as I couldn't taste the cranberry at all.

Oh, and another I just thought of, but I can't get here in Texas (I have to grab it when I visit my in-laws in Kansas City every year): Boulevard Nutcracker Ale. Boulevard is a kick-ass brewery in K.C. that only distributes to the Midwest; thus, I and my across-the-street neighbor (who also has K.C. family) are probably the leading Texas distributors of their product, usually bringing home a case at Christmas and another in summer. It's pretty much the only beer I drink when I'm K.C.

What other special holiday brews do you know of? (And just as importantly, where can I find them?)

Event for you brew-your-own types

[Note: This is presented by the Black Star Co-op Brewpub, not me. Questions should be directed to the address at the bottom of this post, not to me.]

Black Star Co-op Presents:
Brewing & Flavor Analysis Class
Sunday, December 10th

The first portion of the class will take the participants through the brewing process and discuss the various techniques to control the final flavor before it hits the pint glass. Although brewing techniques and process will be discussed, the main focus will be on giving the attendee the necessary knowledge and skills to analyze beer flavors and learn how to control them in the brew house and during fermentation. This requires
some knowledge already about the brewing process, so first-time home brewers may not get as much out of the class as home brewers who have gone through the process a couple times. During the class, a barrel of wort will be brewed and a few of the participants can each take home a full carboy (first come, first served). This will also illustrate the process of brewing and allow the attendees to ask questions about the process as we are doing it.

Midway through the day, we will stop for a beer tasting! This portion of the class will consist of an organized beer tasting. Representative beers will be selected to demonstrate certain off-flavors and characteristics that can be controlled by manipulating the process and/or ingredients. With a greater understanding and appreciation of the brewing process and beer flavors, the participant will leave the class with practical skills to transform basic ingredients of malt, hops, water, and yeast into what they envisioned. The trouble shooting skills learned in the class will allow home brewers to locate, analyze, and adjust the flavors (or off-flavors) in their beers (and commercial beers) more accurately and fluently.

Who should attend?:
People who are comfortable in the brewing process but would like to learn more, as well as people who wish to have a better understanding about what makes the flavors in beer and how they are controlled. There will be a decent amount of chemistry and bio-chemistry, but don’t let that scare anyone!

How long is the class?:
The class usually runs about 5 hours and light snacks and tasting samples of beer are provided.

What should you bring?:
For those who will be taking home some wort, bring a clean carboy and air-lock set-up. Any further food or drink should be supplied by you.

How many people can take the class?
Enrollment is limited to 10 participants. The option of taking home a carboy of wort is limited to 6 participants, and is avialable on a first come, first served basis.

How much?:
Class & Tasting: Members: $25, Non-members: $30
Class, Tasting, Carboy of wort: Members: $50, Non-members: $60

Note: Please RSVP as soon as possible to You can also email me with any questions. Hope to see you there!

Friday, November 10, 2006


We're going to Wurstfest tomorrow! Yea! It's drunken fun for the whole family. This awesome little Oktoberfest party down in New Braunfels, Texas, is billed as a "10-Day Salute to Sausage," but let's be honest: It's a 10-day salute to beer. And despite that, it's still a great family event. There's plenty of good food, ranging from brats and kraut to traditional carnival food for the kids, and even stuff like you'd expect at the state fair in Dallas, like fried Oreos.

Although most of those attending stick to their light beer, the organizers do have the good sense to make plenty of real German beer available, so I get to swill (if memory serves) lots of Paulaner and Spaten and maybe even Hacker-Pschorr. Mmmm. (I don't really comprehend drinking bland, watery American beer at a German festival, but to each his own.)

Plus, a continual parade of oompah music (which I love) in this really huge dancehall, and for the kids there are lots of carnival rides operated by stoned carneys (okay, that's a satirical comment, I have no actual proof, so don't anybody sue me, although I did have an almost deadly direct experience with less-than-sober carney in my youth. The guy was almost lynched right there on the spot by my father and my friend's father). God bless my wonderful wife, who promised to be our designated driver home, not a pleasant chore going up I-35 toward Austin on a Saturday night with likely drunken Oktoberfesters all around. Please folks, don't get behind the wheel until you're ready.

And despite this dispensation from M'Lady, I'll try to pace myself and not be too big of an ass. She said if I start vomiting she'll leave my ass there. Which is pretty good incentive. I don't particularly want to end up in the Comal County jail, as the whole county is run by Republicans.

And despite the way it sounds, no, I'm not going down there with the intention of getting blitzed (oops, poor choice of words for a German festival), but as we've learned, when you give me an endless supply of really yummy beer, I occasionally lose count of how many I've had. In fact, sometimes I completely lose my ability to count at all. But I'll try to be good.

EDIT: Heh-heh. So it ended up being the wife that puked, not me. Except she didn't puke until we got home. And it was pretty obviously some bad food, not alcohol, that caused it. But I'll still consider it a minor moral victory for me. (Kidding, honey!) Actually, I almost puked while listening to the Texas/Kansas State game on the way home.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Drinking two-year-old beer

Okay, I can finally start blogging about beer again, now that I no longer have to blog about the election.

Just a brief post tonight, because I'm still exhausted from Tuesday and Wednesday nights. You remember that case of year-old Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome that I bought earlier this year? Which is now two years old? Well, with great trepidation, I finally tried it, and the results are mixed. It's definitely gone off a bit – it's taken on a more bitter taste. I checked it against a fresh bottle, which was definitely mellower. On the up side, though, it was such a good beer to begin with that it's still drinkable. I'll take this over "brewery fresh" Budweiser any day. Nonetheless, I've learned a lesson – don't drink 2-year-old beer if you can help it.