Monday, September 19, 2016

Quick Sip 019. Shiner Strawberry Blonde

This beer tickled my nose with such a scent of strawberries that I was almost disappointed that it wasn't pink. But no, as the name declares, this is a blonde -- a strawberry blonde. It poured with a delightful, crisp golden wheat color and a generous head. I was surprised at how quickly it dissipated, leaving almost no lace behind.  I was also surprised that, ice cold, it actually didn't have a cloying strawberry sweetness that I was expecting from the strength of the aroma.

Shiner Strawberry Blonde is the seventh experiment to spring from their "Brewer's Pride" collection of small-run beers and ales. I paid about $4 for a 1 pint 8 fl oz (in other words, 24 oz) bottle at my local Randall's in NW Houston. I understand it is also available in 12 oz bottles in Shiner's Family Reunion Pack (their half-case sampler).

This strawberry is no cheesecake!

It has a 4.3% ABV and is crisp on the tongue with little aftertaste. The predominant notes were malt and strawberry, which coexisted in a sweet (but not too sweet) balance. The one thing I really did like about this was that it was clearly a beer, and not a wine cooler. The beer was forefront with the sweet malt carrying the strawberry flavor, and not the other way around. I'm usually not a big fan of fruit beers, but this one is definitely an exception.

My Score: 8 out of 10

Friday, August 26, 2016

Quick Sip 018. Wick for Brains Pumpkin Ale

here in Houston, even an unusually mild August doesn't really mean that Autumn is on the breeze. There will still probably be a lot of sweltering days and nights ahead before The Great Pumpkin rises out of his patch. That doesn't stop the brewers and distributors from jumping the gun and getting their October brews on the shelves.

The first one I tapped this year (and as you may have read, I'm not tapping nearly as many as I used to) is from the Nebraska Brewing Company: Wick for Brains. I have to admit, most of the reason I picked it up was the cool and fun can design. Something about that wicked Jack peering out at me was just too fun to resist. So I didn't.

How could I resist Jolly Jack on this can?
I bought a six-pack at a local Kroger for about $8.50. A bit pricey, but certainly not too pricey. I served it ice cold and, popping the top (it's hard to describe it, but the pop top is actually unusual, in that it doesn't pop a hole, but rather shoves down a flap) I was rewarded with one of the stronger pumpkin and spice smells I've encountered in a long time. It was so strong it almost evoked a sense memory of spice cookies baking in the oven. It was very pleasant.

Ichabod's horseman and this ale have a lot in common.
What was not so pleasant was the head -- or lack thereof -- when I poured it. In terms of headlessness, Ichabod Crane's nemesis and this aggressive pour had a lot in common: it was pretty much headless. I had to do a very aggressive pour to get any head at all, and then it faded leaving no lace at all.

Whereas the head was missing, aroma and taste were not. The first sip was a rewarding mix of malty ale and the expected pumpkin spices (allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon) -- but only more so. I've had a lot of pumpkin ales over the years, and some were quite good, but this is one of the best of its kind. The pumpkin takes front and center stage, but it's not pulling some gimmicky diva act. This is a star and knows how to work with the rest of the ensemble. In other words, the flavors are strong but balanced. And wonderfully so, especially in a beer this strong: It has an ABV of 6.1%.

Wick for Brains is our classic and painstakingly produced Fall Pumpkin Ale. Instead of simply using spice, we use real pumpkin which lends a sweetness and pumpkin flavor not found in many Pumpkin Ales. Wonderful pumpkin pie spice intertwined in an Amber Ale creates a pumpkin sensation which is elegantly crafted. Notes of Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Clove, Ginger and Allspice blend perfectly in this seasonal Ale. There are many Pumpkin Ales out there crafted by some wonderful breweries – we feel that ours stands among them and in some cases – stands apart.
-- From their Website
This is a seasonal, so if you spot a six-pack, I strongly suggest you grab one and head to the nearest, most-sincere pumpkin patch you can find. Play some haunting tunes by Midnight Syndicate and enjoy the night. You don't actually have to wait for The Great Pumpkin to arrive. He already has -- in this can or bottle.

My Score (as a pumpkin ale): 9 out of 10

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

This blog is not entirely dead...

This blog isn't exactly dead, but it may continue to be on hold for a while more.

In the past year, I've gone on a medication that requires I restrict my alcohol consumption. Until we know how it's working with my liver, I am not drinking.

And yes... that's about as horrible as it sounds.

If things change, I shall resume this blog. If not... well... it was a fun ride while it lasted.