Friday, April 28, 2006

Alamo Drafthouse Amber Ale

I could write volumes on the entirety of the Alamo Drafthouse experience – getting to enjoy good food and fine beer while you watch a movie is the apex of civilization, in my opinion. In fact, Entertainment Weekly rated it as the best movie theatre in America. However, I'll limit this post to my great new discovery there. I don't know if it's new, or if I've just managed to overlook it on my many visits, but they have their own Alamo Drafthouse Amber Ale, which is brewed for them by Austin's Independence Brewing. It was a winner. In fact, I like it better than the other beers I've tried by Independence. A strong hop presence but not overwhelming. I was a bit nervous at trying this sight unseen – a night at Alamo can be pretty pricey, so you don't want it dragged down by a mediocre beer – but this was spot-on. Very comparable to Live Oak's Big Bark. I followed it up with one of my favorites, Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, and actually regretted it – the pleasant subtlety of of the Alamo beer should have simply been followed by another. The DFH just seemed overpowering after the more balanced character of the first beer.

Oh, and the movie? The Notorious Bettie Page. Excellent. Gretchen Mol has great tits. :-)

Thursday, April 27, 2006

More politics and beer

I think every citizen should be politically engaged … and preferably, they should drink good beer at the same time. Democracy for Texas (a Democrat activism organization) holds meetings the first Wednesday of every month at Mother Egan's, a fine Irish pub in downtown Austin. Next week, they are going to hold a debate on Propositions 1 and 2 on the May 13 municipal ballot, the so-called "clean government" and "clean water" charter amendments. If you aren't up to speed on Props 1 and 2, you should be – if passed, they will make profound changes to our city government – so I encourage you to go. Just be careful not to drink so much that you can't remember the discussion afterward.

(My two cents: I think both props are bad ideas, and I will be voting against them. My argument against them is here, after the city council endorsements. But you should listen to the debate and make up your own mind.)

Info on the meetup:

DFT Meetup Focuses on City Charter Amendments
See what's happening this month...


May 13, Election Day for municipal races, is rapidly approaching. In addition to all of the candidates on the ballot, there are a number of charter amendments for consideration.

The two propositions generating the most discussion are Proposition 1 (open access to city government) and Proposition 2 (the Save Our Springs amendment). We'll hear from proponents — Kathy Mitchell of the ACLU and Colin Clark of the SOS Alliance — and opponents from EDUCATEPAC on both amendments. Questions from the audience are welcome. If you haven't made up your mind yet, this is a great way to learn about the pros and cons.

We'll also hear from Marti Bier of Atticus Circle on Proposition 6 (extension of health benefits to domestic partners) and choose an upcoming community service project. Bring your ideas! We'll wind up with a DVD on the history of the dispute about development over the aquifer.

WHEN: Wednesday, May 3, 7:00 p.m.

WHERE: Mother Egan's, 715 West 6th Street

See you there.

Your DFT Steering Committee: Marla Camp, Nick Lawrie, Glen Maxey, Mark McCulloch, Teri Sperry, and Fran Vincent


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Young's Special London Ale

Yes folks, it's time for the weekly edition of … Wednesday Night Drinking at Work! With your host, Lee Roy. (That's was Bill C.'s old nickname for me.)

Actually, not much time to write tonight — for once, I actually have some work to do. But that's being made bearable by a pint of Young's Special London Ale, which is just about as classic an English beer as they come. I've raved a lot on this blog about Samuel Smith's; well, Young's is right up there with them. As I said about SS, if Young's has made something I don't like, I haven't tried it yet. God, the moment I opened the bottle I could smell the hops wafting across my desk. The temperature was perfect – mildly chilled in H.E.B.'s beer section, but not truly cold. Perfect London pub temp. An absolutely perfect balance of hops and malt, with an undertone of fruit. Oranges, maybe? Anyhoo, I don't have time to play full-fledged beer reviewer tonight; sorry, that's the best I can do. Let's just make the review a quickie: I took a sip, and briefly flashed on a hallucination that I was just a block down from Buckingham Palace watching a soccer (excuse me, football) game on the telly in a place named the Rat & Dog or somesuch. Now do you understand?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Travis County Sheriff Wants You ... to Get Drunk!

Press release from the sheriff's office. A chance for you to give back to your community. (No, this isn't a joke):

Hello All,

I have received a request from Bryan Haun, Instructor/Course Manager for a Alcohol Detection (DWI) Training class. We need 5-8 volunteer drinkers for each of the following dates (Alcohol Workshops):

Wednesday, April 26, 2006 @ 4:30 pm
Tuesday, May 02, 2006 @ 4:30 pm

Volunteers need to have a "Designated Driver" to take them home after the workshop ends at about 9:00 pm.

We will furnish the liquor, mixers and snacks. Be at the Academy as close to 4:30 pm as possible and get in touch with the class coordinator via email, at or cell phone at (627-2361) so he can compile a list of the people that will be able to assist. You will also be given directions to the academy if you need them.

Please leave the electronic recording devices at home, and eat lunch that day, but DO NOT eat right before coming to the Academy.

This is a VERY IMPORTANT portion of the training for our local law enforcement officers and we need to have a good showing of volunteers. So far we only have 3. If you can help please contact Bryan right away.

Thanks for your help,

Roger Wade
Travis County Sheriff's Office
Public Information Officer
Office: (512) 854-4986
Pager: (512) 935-1162

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Drinking with Dad

My Dad became a beer snob about the same time I did. I'm visiting him this weekend (the picture shows Me and M'Lady on my parents' back porch), and we're enjoying being beer snobs together.

I went into Beer Basket yesterday and intentionally went seeking something I've never had before. (Okay, the name of our corner store is actually Bread Basket, but they in fact do not carry any variety of bread, and have a shocking variety of beer and wine for a tiny neighborhood Stop 'n' Rob, hence the nickname.) I grabbed a Texas beer -- Rahr & Sons Ugly Pug Black Lager -- and brought it up to Salado. (Rahr & Sons brews in Fort Worth.) Not bad, but my main problem is that I've had New Belgium's 1554 Black Ale, which does this style a bit better. The "black" style is not stout, not porter; it is a slightly coffeeish beer with notes of burnt toast. I've really fallen in love with New Belgium's version; this isn't bad, but if the choice is available, I think I'll grab the 1554 instead. Of course, I've noticed that the farther I get into a glass of most decent beers, the better they start tasting by the end. I'm liking this more as I go along. At the least, I applaud this obscure brewery for taking on an equally obscure style -- it's a bold effort.

The real highlight of my day has been my dad's offer of Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale. Now this is a real world-class beer. I'll rave about it more when I have more time to type, but see some of my earlier posts about how Samuel Smith's just never does anything less than sublime. Dad says he is not familiar with Young's Brewery yet, which I hold in equal regard to Sam Smith's, so I'll have to come back with an armload of their selections.

I started the day with Hidden River Pale Ale, another completely new beer to me. Not bad, but just a run-of-the mill pale ale, really. My dad said he bought it north of Dallas when he was desperate for some good beer, and thought he'd try it. And that makes a good description of this beer -- not spectacular, but serviceable if it's all you can find.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Pierre Celis returns to Texas

And he'll be brewing, says the Statesman.

Maybe this is a good time to start acquiring a taste for Belgian beers.

In the unlikely event that anyone reading this doesn't know about Celis, he made some very popular beers here in Austin over a decade ago. I was particularly a fan of his Pale Bock. Others were more enamored of his White Beer and Grand Cru.

Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA, take 2

Okay, I have a few minutes before work, let's see if I can remember the verbiage I lost last night. It certainly won't be as inspired as it was with the beer in my hand (and mouth). For my putting-the-paper-to-bed Wednesday night beer, this week I'm trying Belhaven Twisted Thistle India Pale Ale, a beer that oddly enough is not featured on their website. Drinking actual British IPAs always throws me off a bit, since I was introduced to the style (first brewed for shipping to Her Majesty's soldiers in India) by American brewers, who tend to be really heavy-handed with the hops. Amusingly, the bottle says I will experience "a bitter-dry taste explosion" that "will have your taste buds tingling," but after falling in love with IPAs like Dogfish Head 60 Minute and Stone, this doesn't exactly slap me in the face. However, I am finding that the pleasure comes in the aftertaste – the hoppiness finally kicks in late, and then once your tastebuds know what to look for, it starts finding it from the get-go. In fact, with every sip I'm liking this more and more. Okay, it gets my recommendation, but go into it with different expectations that what you usually might have for IPAs.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


They let me get all the way through several paragraphs of scintillating prose before telling me that they were down for maintenance, so none of my work was saved. Dammit. I'll post again on Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA when I'm not so mad and when I can remember most of what I wrote.

Monday, April 17, 2006

I really ought to be drinking Sam Adams tonight

because I'll be watching a tape of today's Boston Marathon. Harpoon would be an even better choice — Nosregref turned me on to this little brewery from his many Boston trips — but I don't think they're available here. Mighty tasty IPA — I got to try it when we visited my brother in law last summer. (Thanks Gref!)

In any case, I'll be settling for the Sierra Nevada that's already in my fridge instead, because I'm dirt broke and won't be buying anything until payday. Life is just getting too damned expensive.

Friday, April 14, 2006


Update on that Winter Warmer: It called Winter Warmer for a reason. Squid Boy warned me not to drink it during warm weather or it would taste nasty. I knew this, but nonetheless, I was working out in the garage today, getting sweaty, and the Sam Smith's was mere inches away in the beer fridge. What the hell, I thought -- it's refrigerated. It will be nice and cool. It will hit the spot.

Nope. Chilled or not, it's just too heavy for a sweaty day. I had to stick it back in the fridge and save it for later this evening in the air conditioning.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Good joke

And before any of you ladies call me a pig, bear in mind this came from my wife:

A man came home from work, sat down in his favorite chair, turned on the TV, and said to his wife, "Quick, bring me a beer before it starts." She looked a little puzzled, but brought him a beer.

When he finished it, he said, "Quick, bring me another beer. It's gonna start." This time, she looked a little angry, but brought him a beer.

When it was gone, he said, "Quick, another beer before it starts."

"That's it!" She blows her top, "You bastard! You waltz in here, flop your fat ass down, don't even say hello to me and then expect me to run around like your slave. Don't you realize that I cook and clean and wash and iron all day long?"

The husband sighed. "Oh shit, it started."

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Belgian/Trappist beers - help me out here

I just never have acquired a taste for Belgian and Trappist beers (is there a difference; I'm pretty ignorant about them). It's a real hole in my beer snobbery. Perhaps some of you guys out there could make a recommendation on where I should start.

Grapevine Market currently has this on sale; perhaps I should go try it:


Rochefort 8 & 10 Trappist Ales

Rochefort ales are finally available here in Central Texas! These two beers are still brewed by monks at the Abbey of St. Remy in Belgium. They are one of the six remaining Trappist breweries in the world. Amongst Trappist ales, they are also some of the most sought after beers in the world.

Rochefort 8 $4.99/11.02 oz bottle

is a deep brown color. It's aroma has notes of fruit and spice. At just over 9% alcohol this beer qualifies as a Belgian strong ale. Don't be scared away, because it's rich, smooth flavor makes it easy to enjoy this beer.

Rochefort 10 $5.79/11.02 oz bottle

is also a dark brown Belgian ale. At just over 11% alcohol, the strength of this beer is balanced by a smooth complex flavor. The aroma has hints of port wine, apricots and oak. This beer is widely regarded as one of the top 5 beers in the world, and it deserves that recognition.