Sunday, September 9, 2012

042. Alamo Golden Ale

Since I'm heading up north next weekend to drink beer with my brother-in-law in Dallas, this week I decided it would be appropriate for me to imbibe of a local brew. Fortunately, there are a lot of mighty fine beers to be had here in Texas. This week I chose an ale from someone I've never heard of before: The Alamo Beer Company from San Antonio. Now, if you follow that link you won't find much of a Website: just a single page with some info that leads me to believe that this is their first beer released to the general public, which could explain why it's being distributed by the fine folks the Real Ale Brewing Co. in Blanco, Texas (that's kinda Central Texas, sorta betwixt San Antonio and Austin -- if you hit Kerrville you've gone too far west). My ale of choice was Alamo Golden Ale.

I picked it up earlier today whilst shopping up north (not as far north as Dallas is from Houston, but still a fair drive up to The Woodlands) and I mosied into the HEB at Kukendahl and Lake Woodlands Pkwy to take another stroll through their outstanding beer department. I do not know who runs that department (maybe I should try to get an interview with him... something to think about), but he is obviously a beer enthusiast. He keeps the common stuff along the back wall (Coors, Bud, Miller -- and this being Texas, 12-packs of Shiner), but there is an entire long cooler dedicated to cold goodness of local beers (Saint Arnold, Karbach, No Label, Southern Star and more) and a wide assortment of other goodies (including the German Konig Pilsner that I reviewed a few weeks back). Outside of a Spec's Liquor Store, it has one the best selection of bottle beers that I've found in the Houston area. Other contenders would include Central Market and Whole Foods.

I paid about $7.50 for the six-pack, which is about right for a craft beer in The Woodlands. I suspect you may be able to find it for a little less depending on where you buy it.

At First It Left Me Cold...
I loved the "frontier-style" packaging: simple & effective.
First, a note about the packaging. I really liked the simple brown cardboard six-pack case. It was appropriate for a beer bearing the name of our state shrine, The Alamo. I also appreciated its tagline: "Brewed with a Fiercely Independent Spirit." I also like the simple label: red & black on a basic orange background. Simple but stylish.

Popping the top I was met with an aroma that was nothing much to write about, to be honest. I detected a hint of yeast and some hops, but not much more. The pour was equally lackluster. I poured two bottles into my big mug (it's purely for artistic reasons -- a half-full mug just doesn't look impressive. That's my main motivation for pouring two beers... oh, the things I sacrifice for the sake of my art. Sigh, my wife doesn't believe me, either). I was rewarded with almost no aroma and had to pour aggressively to get even a one-finger head sitting atop a cloudy yellow ale. Honestly, it looked more like pee than "golden ale." I was not very impressed, as you can probably tell.

I then took the beer's temperature and it was 51 degrees Fahrenheit. Considering the beer had only been in the refrigerator for about two hours, that wasn't too bad. I took my first sip and got a good mouthful feeling -- it seemed heartier than I had expected -- but the flavors just weren't there. And there was no lace at all, either.

This seemed odd to me because I've enjoyed beers by Real Brewing Co. before. I can't swear they make any of my favorites, but they've never given me a dud, either. So I took a few sips as the beer warmed up, and then Alamo Golden Ale mustered up and delivered a good flavor and a pleasant drinking experience.

But Now I Will Remember THIS Alamo!
This is not a beer to be served cold (I bought a six-pack -- if the "ice cold" beer delivers a different experience, I'll report it later:  LATER: Had the last one "ice cold on Sunday night -- don't bother; it's much better at my Temperature Sweet Spot described below). The cold beer was uninteresting and did not deserve to be remembered.

But as it warmed up to around 60 - 64 degrees (which is still nice and cool), it came alive. The hops became apparent, providing a nice bitterness on my tongue with a hint of mountain aromatics (some might call it grassiness, but I don't). The hops were pleasantly counterbalanced by the malt (the label immodestly calls it an "Almost velvety finish," and they're right). And that yeasty taste I'd mentioned transformed into a medium to support the other complex flavors.

At this warmer temperature, this is a completely different ale. I even poured a third bottle (again, only as a sacrifice to my art and not a commentary on a long work week). This bottle was about 59 degrees when I popped the top and it delivered a nice aroma of aromatic hops, smooth malt and pleasant bready yeast. The head was also more impressive: two fingers of white, but it still faded quickly leaving behind a faint lace that also faded quickly. But quick is better than none.

Summing It Up
This is a great golden ale, and as you know, I don't love golden ales. This is smooth, aromatic with a strong carbonation that delivers a nice mouthfeel and is one of the highest-rated beers I've tried in ages. By most reckoning it should be a solid contender for being one of my favorites, but there's just a little something off with it that keeps it from achieving the hallowed ranks of my Favorites List (that thing in the upper-right-corner). Perhaps it's the narrow Temperature Sweet Spot (get it up to 68 and I don't much care for the bitterness that takes over the other flavors), or perhaps it's just that it's lighter than my usual fare (which ain't too bad for these dog days of summer). Nevertheless, this is a great beer and I will definitely remember THIS Alamo and I might even pick up a six-pack to share with my brother-in-law next weekend.

From the label:
Brewed with a fiercely independent spirit. Alamo golden ale, the brain child of Eugene Simor, is a full-bodied, refreshingly lither style ale with a smooth velvety finish.

Thoughts from the bottom of the glass:

Type: Golden Ale
Color: Cloudy Yellow
Aroma: Simple, yeasty, clear
Hops: Understated
Malt: Smooth and balanced
Head: One or two fingers white, faded quickly
Lace: None to speak of
Carbonation: Medium/Heavy
Mouthfeel:  One of the best things about this beer. heartier than expected.
Temprature Sweet Spot: 60 - 64 degrees
ABV: 5.1%
My Rating: 8 out of 10

NOTE 9/11/2012: The Alcohol content wasn't available online, so I sent Eugene an email and he reports that the ABV is 5.1%. 

Other Reviews Worth a Sip:
The Beer Advocate guys were somewhat impressed with this Golden Ale. Check it out:

A bit of fun with Eugene
I decided to look into the company a little more and a few minutes of google searching found this fun little video:


  1. Mitchell,

    We noticed that you have blogged about our brand. We thank you very much for that.

    We wanted to inform you that Alamo Beer will be having an event this Saturday in Backstage Live to honor the return of the Travis Letter. You can go to our Facebook Event Page to find out more about it:

    We are hoping that you will attend as you are a valuable part of our community. Tell your friends and family cause the more there is of you, the merrier. We would also be honored if you could promote the event through your site.

    We will stay in touch and hoping to see you at the event!

    Alamo Beer

  2. Sorry I wasn't able to attend that event. But I did want to add that I've since picked up Alamo beer on a few occasions (including last week) and my first impressions more than held up. It's a solid beer that I can enjoy year round. I plan to bring it to some barbecues later this year to spread the word about your great beer.