Saint Arnold Premieres Its New Canned Line With an Event at Historic Beer Can House

Categories: Booze

Photo by Joey McKeel
The historic Beer Can House sits at 222 Malone.

On March 2, Saint Arnold released the results of the first canning in the brewery's history; the Fancy Lawnmower kolsch and Santo "black kolsch" ("which technically doesn't exist as a style," according to the website) are now available in six-packs of aluminum cans at your local grocery and liquor stores. In April, the brewery will release the Summer Pils seasonal pilsner in cans as well.

To help get the word out, the brewery held an event at the historic Beer Can House (222 Malone) on Sunday, with proceeds going to benefit the Orange Show. We were there to try the beer, and, since I'd never seen it before, explore the house.

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Flying Saucer Brings Alpine Beer Company to Texas, and More

Categories: Bar Beat, Booze

Photo courtesy Chelsey Ross of Obsidian Public Relations
Since 2000, the Flying Saucer has been Downtown's go-to hub for craft beer.

This week, the Flying Saucer (705 Main St., 713-228-9472), a rare downtown institution amidst the construction and revitalization, became the first bar in Houston to have Alpine Beer Company on tap. The San Diego-based microbrewery has been partnered with Green Flash Brewing for some time, and although Green Flash has been in Houston for a while, Alpine is just arriving for the first time.

The brewery is best known for its selection of IPAs, and that was reflected in the lineup, largely IPAs and pale ales. The Flying Saucer tapped a different beer each day Monday through Friday, and I got to sample each on Thursday while speaking to Asa Hanrahan, the bar's General Manager, and Joshua Justice, the manager.

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Crabbie's Alcoholic Ginger Beer Marks Its Introduction in Houston

Categories: Bar Beat, Booze

Photo courtesy Jennie Hatton of Crabbie's
The Crabbie's original, here served as recommended over ice with a slice of lime, is a refreshing alternative to a cider or shandy.

Last week was Crabbie's Week in Houston. I'd never heard of Crabbie's Alcoholic Ginger Beer until recently, but I was invited to the media event recently at the Railyard (4206 San Felipe; 713-621-4000) and thought I'd try it out and report back what I found.

First, some background info:

Crabbie's traces its lineage back nearly two hundred years, to John Crabbie's original spiced ginger wine. The recipe currently used calls for cold steeping ginger for six weeks before adding a proprietary spice blend to the malted beverage.

Right now, Crabbie's comes in two flavors, original and spiced orange. (A third flavor, Scottish raspberry, is currently available in the UK and will hopefully be available here for the star of summer.

The recommended way to drink it-- Crabbie's calls it the "Perfect Serve"-- is over ice, usually with a lime wedge, and after trying it neat, I have to agree. (It's bottled at 4.8 percent ABV, certainly low enough to drink neat were it best served that way.) There's just too much spice in the flavor neat; adding ice dilutes and balances the drink more. Alone over ice, it could make a nice substitute for a shandy. It remains spicy yet is now cool and refreshing, without being too sweet.

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Glenmorangie Unveils Its Newest Limited Release With a Tasting at Reserve 101

Categories: Booze

Photo by Joey McKeel
Is there a prettier sight than all of these glasses of Scotch, waiting to be tasted?

Last week, , Reserve 101 held a special tasting with guest of honor Dr. Bill Lumsden, Glenmorangie's Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation & Whisky Stocks. At the tasting, Dr. Bill, regarded as perhaps the foremost expert on whiskey creation and barrel aging in the world, introduced six Scotches from Glenmorangie by discussing their creation and his tasting notes. The event was used to roll out the sixth release in Glenmorangie's limited-release Private Edition line, the Tusail. A $20 ticket got patrons a tasting of it and five others, as well as a raffle to enter a drawing for a pour of the Pride 1978, to taste and discuss with Dr. Bill.

At the tasting, I got to try the new Tùsail, as well as five other staples of the Glenmorangie line. Each one was a reminder of why Glenmorangie is one of my favorite distilleries; they rarely, if ever, go wrong with a release they put to market, and still manage to make most of their offerings remarkably affordable.

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The American Homebrewers Association Rally at Saint Arnold Had Something for Everyone (Who Loves Beer)

Categories: Booze

Photo by Joey McKeel
The dining hall at Saint Arnold filled with homebrewers, right now mostly sitting down to enjoy a beer.

Founded in 1978, the American Homebrewers Association is a national organization founded to promote homebrewing and to help homebrewers connect with one another. According to Gary Glass, Director of the AHA, total membership is more than 46,000, spurred on in part by the rise in craft breweries but also by the increased ease in homebrewing. If you want to try homebrewing, but find it intimidating, Glass says not to worry: "If you can make a concentrated soup with water and boil it on a stove, you can make beer." Of course, more advanced homebrewers know it can be more complicated than that, but again, part of homebrewing's popularity is that, at all difficulty levels, it's still possible to brew a good batch of beer you'll want to drink.

Last weekend, the AHA held a rally at Saint Arnold Brewing Company, 2000 Lyons Avenue, a chance for local homebrewers to connect with one another, learn more about local resources for homebrewing, and take an expert's tour of the brewery. (Glass said Saint Arnold was particularly special because the AHA rally program was launched in concert with Saint Arnold; the brewery held the very first rally.) By our estimates, around 250-300 people attended the Rally, which had tables set up for local homebrewing clubs and supply stores, as well as Saint Arnold's usual fine selection of beers on tap.

I learned that the homebrewing scene in the greater Houston area was much bigger than I expected, as I got to meet with the local homebrewing clubs that had a table at the event, some of which have been around for decades. (According to Glass, the Houston area has eight homebrewing clubs in total.) If the rally was designed to help homebrewers connect and learn, it certainly seems to have succeeded: I don't homebrew, so I can't say for myself, but not only were many homebrew clubs represented, but our city has more brewing supply stores and educational offerings than I could have imagined. One attendee described it as "a boat show for homebrewers."

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Hay Merchant Third Anniversary Party Preview

Photo courtesy Lindsey Brown of Clumsy Butcher
The taps at Hay Merchant are being cleared this week-- no new kegs will be mounted-- in anticipation for the bar's third-anniversary party, on Thursday.

Three years ago, half of the location of the old Chances bar was converted into the Hay Merchant (1100 Westheimer Road, 713-528-9805), which quickly became the go-to spot in Montrose for craft beer. Once again, the Hay Merchant is clearing out its tap lines in preparation for an anniversary party, where co-owner and beer guru Kevin Floyd will roll out some of his favorite rare beers and special finds to be tapped on Thursday, February 12.

I attended last year's party, and if it was any indicator, this'll be a must-attend for Houston beer fanatics.

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Whole Foods Post Oak Kicks Off Its Beer Dinner Series in Style

Photo by Nath Pizzolatto
The barleywine, paired here with roasted bone marrow, was a highlight among the beers.

In November, Whole Foods Market opened a new location on Post Oak, and in this location also opened its first brewery, making and selling its own, original beers under the WFM Brewing label. You may recall that around this time, I attended a meet-and-greet beer pairing dinner with brewmaster Dave Ohmer. Fast-forward a few months later, and Whole Foods has decided to make the beer pairings a monthly event: On the first Thursday of each month, Whole Foods will host a dinner at the Post Oak location with a menu chosen and prepared in-house by Executive Chef Josh Shobe, paired with a series of beers from WFM Brewing or another local brewery. (With each course, Shobe and Ohmer explained their decision-making on each item and the process of cooking or brewing it.) I was able to attend the first such dinner on Thursday, and it was quite a treat, a five-course meal (not including the salad) with well-chosen pairings. More on the experience below.

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Review: Saint Arnold Divine Reserve 15 Is a Stout Rich in Flavor

Categories: Booze

Photo courtesy of Saint Arnold
A six-pack of Saint Arnold's Divine Reserve 15 might be difficult to find by now, but it's worth it.

On Monday, Saint Arnold released Divine Reserve 15, the latest in the single-batch series. It's a Russian Imperial Stout, brewed using a recipe originally released as DR5 back in August of 2007. The beer checks in at 10.1 percent ABV; I was able to obtain a bottle to sample this week.

Saint Arnold's website says the beer can be served "at 45°F or warmer"; for a dark, heavy beer such as this, something closer to room temperature than refrigerator temperature is better for tasting the full range of flavor. I took mine out of the refrigerator and left it at room temperature for a little over an hour before serving.

My first impressions:

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How to Support Small Batch Mexican Producers of Mezcal in Houston

Photo by Phaedra Cook
These gentlemen don't make it to Houston often because they're usually making mezcal. From left: Emilio Vieyra, Miguel Partida and Aquilino Garcia Lopez

Cuchara and The Pastry War collaborated on a dinner last week in honor of three very special guests who had never before all been in the same place at the same time in the United States. Many would not know them, but to those interested in agave spirits, these men are rock stars.

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Drink This: The Royal Flush

Categories: Booze, Recipes

Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Royal Flush Cocktail

Baby, it's (sort of) cold outside.

To warm your hands and your heart, mix up a Royal Flush. This boozy berry cocktail provides a latent soothing heat that softens the hard edges of a stressful day at the DMV and provides rejuvenation after that six-hour sober baby shower.

Perhaps as delightful as the stone-fruit flavors of the Royal Flush is the double entendre contained in its name. A royal flush denotes the highest hand in poker, thus suggesting the superiority of this cocktail to other whiskey drinks, and after two or three, you're likely to sport a "royal" flush. So don't drink more than one if you're actually in a high-stakes game of cards.

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