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

Categories: Brew Blog

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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

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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

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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, Brew Blog

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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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A Tale of Two Bottles: Saint Arnold Pumpkinator 2013 Vs. 2014

Categories: Brew Blog

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Nicholas L. Hall
It was the best of beers, it was the blurst of beers? Stupid monkeys!
I have a habit of accidentally cellaring beer. I see something interesting, bring it home, and forget about it amid all the other interesting things I bring home. Sometimes, I just keep "waiting to drink it," looking for some nebulous "right time" that doesn't really exist.

Sometimes, it doesn't work out particularly well. I'm pretty sure, for example, that the bottle of Karbach El Hopadillo Negro I just found behind a stash of FUN Series bottles hasn't improved with age. Then again, I'm not even entirely sure how much age it has. Part and parcel with the notion of accidental cellaring is the fact that nothing is labeled. That's why I love dated releases, which at least allow me to determine exactly how long I've been ignoring a bottle.

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Saint Arnold Brewing Company Celebrates Oktoberfest

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Photos courtesy of Saint Arnold Brewing Company
Get your tickets to Saint Arnold Oktoberfest before they sell out.
Looking for another Oktoberfest celebration in Houston? Saint Arnold Brewing Company will host its annual Oktoberfest party at the brewery for two nights, Friday, October 10, and Saturday, October 11. Both nights are separate events, so you can choose the night you'd prefer to attend. But, don't hesitate making that decision; Saint Arnold's Oktoberfest celebrations always sell out and each night the brewery holds approximately 350 guests.

The Oktoberfest parties will be held from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Tickets to each night cost $45 per person (all guests must be 21 years or older) and include food, beer, a mug and entertainment from a live band. Lennie Ambrose, marketing and events director of Saint Arnold, says the feast includes an array of German specialties: weiner schnitzel, sauerkraut and sausages.

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7 Seasonal Brews to Kick Off the Fall Season in Houston

Categories: Brew Blog

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Photos by Molly Dunn
Try these seven fall brews to welcome the fall season.
You know fall is almost here when Starbucks starts selling Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Oktoberfest beers start popping up all over the place. Too bad it's still hot as ever outside. We're almost halfway through September and the grocery store beer aisles are already filled with a multitude of fall brews. So, which ones should you buy?

We scoured the beer aisle at the H-E-B on the corner of West Alabama and Dunlavy, and found seven seasonal brews you are sure to love. Plus, we've got the scoop on the next wave of seasonal beverages coming from these breweries.

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Mexican Golden Lager, Montejo, Debuts in Houston

Categories: Brew Blog

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Photo by Molly Dunn
Montejo is a light Mexican beer imported from Mexico by Anheuser-Busch.
Consider yourself lucky, Houston. We're one of 11 cities to receive Montejo, the first Mexican beer imported from Mexico. The golden lager is available at a variety of bars, restaurants and grocery stores in the Houston area, starting today, September 1.

Anheuser-Busch decided to launch the release of Montejo in the southwest region because of the heavy concentration of Hispanic consumers and because Mexican beers already account for approximately 60 percent of all imported beers into the United States.

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Five Burger and Local Craft Beer Pairings for Labor Day

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Photo by Carla Soriano
Which No Label brew did we choose to pair with a turkey burger?
Most of us will spend our Labor Day outside by the pool (weather permitting) and will likely use the grill to make our lunch or dinner. Barbecue ribs and steaks are great Labor Day meals, but so are burgers. And what goes best with burgers? Well, fries, of course, but the other major accompaniment is beer.

When pairing burgers with beer, it's more than just matching the type of meat to the brew; you also have to consider the other components. We're talking about the cheese, sauce, bread and condiments.

Local grocery stores have a wide assortment of local craft beers, so you don't have to visit a restaurant or bar in the city to sip on one of those fine selections. Check out these five burger and local craft beer pairings to enjoy this holiday.

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Tickets on Sale Now for July 20 Sassafras Beer Dinner to Benefit Oak Forest Animal Advocates

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Oak Forest has a stray animal problem, and neighborhood residents are rallying to do something about it.

It's not an original problem; the entire city of Houston shares it. Our streets are home to about one million stray animals, and BARC has neither the money nor the manpower to handle these staggering numbers. Rescue organizations turn away calls and emails for help on a daily basis with the refrain, "No money, no fosters. We're full, and we're broke."

On Sunday, July 20, the Oak Forest neighborhood is taking action to raise awareness--and funds--for the newly-formed Oak Forest Animal Advocates organization in an effort to take control of the stray population in their own backyards. So much the better for us, that action is a three-course dinner with beer pairings for $40 a person at neighborhood bar Sassafras.

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