Boffo Beer Blog #17 : King Grackle Has Surely Come

I’m back with a new beer to take out for a flight…Texas Beer’s King Grackle Stout. As I’ve noted before, I like birds and so this one was a “must try” for me. And decidedly Texan!

For those who aren’t familiar, grackles are blackbirds, long, slender, social and shiny. where I came from (as well as much of North America) there’s the Common Grackle, a noisy bird a bit bigger than a robin and a sure sign of spring when they return in March. As they say though, “everything’s bigger in Texas” and here we host the Great-tailed Grackle, a much larger version of the regular ones and one of the biggest songbirds on the continent. And boy do we have them! They nest around the cities but in winter, they’re joined by their friends and cousins from the colder states and congregate in flocks that can number in the thousands, often in trees around shopping areas. They’re bold and eat almost anything and are thus successful…and like most animals that thrive in urban areas, the locals by and large hate them. But I always find them colorful, enjoy watching them fly out of nowhere to chase a passing hornet and am in awe of their synchronized twists and turns as the flocks get ready to settle for the night. Cities like Dallas, Austin and Waco have the biggest numbers of them anywhere.

So we have a bold, quintessentially Texan bird which is mostly black in color. Fittingly, the beer named after it is dark and bold as well. The brewery describe it as “a full bodied stout that flies boldly above the flock.” They note that it’s “bold and flavorful” with “notes of coffee and chocolate.” Which might sound unusual but actually is typical of European stouts and could pretty well describe Guinness too.

The Texas Beer Co. is a relatively new addition to the roster of craft brewers around the state, starting up in 2015 with the help of a Kickstarter fund as well as private investments. They built their brewery in an old brick building in Taylor, not far from Austin, and like many others, have a Taproom on site which offers trivia nights and live music in non-pandemic times! Among their popular brews are a blonde ale, a Hoppy Duck IPA and Pecos Amber, a beer which took a gold medal at the 2018 Great American Beer Festival.

For my try, I popped open a 12-ounce can (suitably dark and adorned with a picture of a Grackle) and poured it, noting its similarity to Guinness in appearance. It was almost black in color and produced a tall, creamy caramel-colored frothy head which lasted some time. I had it with a toasted ham and tomato sandwich lunch with some cut-up green tomato (unfried) on the side.

My first impression was that this is a strong drink. Strongly-flavored with a foamy head that actually retains a bit of texture when drunk. It is bitter, but not displeasingly so and rather hoppy. I could detect just a hint of chocolate in the mix (they actually use some cocoa brewing it) and although it didn’t taste precisely like coffee, it did evoke a bit of a feeling of a cold, strong black coffee. Thankfully, I like black coffee.

As it might be assumed, it held its own with the meat sandwich and the tomato (green tomatoes , by the way are quite meaty and less “sweet” than most typical ones). It actually created an odd little “zing” when washing down the sandwich and had a nice silky, creamy kind of feel. Substantial was a word which came to mind. The chocolate hints and strength of it make me think it would go well with a real coffee over a sweet pie or ice cream dessert as well. But at over 7% alcohol (the can says 7.5% but their website claims 9%) it is a brew for enjoying when the day is done. You’re probably not going to be flying energetically after downing one.

Overall, I like it for times when a drink with a bit of kick and intensity feel right. It might not be my everyday choice for cooling off with or having while watching a couple of innings of baseball, but it’s one I might just keep on hand. I rate it 7 out of 10 for strength, 7 out of 10 for flavor and

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3.5 out of 5 king grackles!

Boffo Beer Blog #16 – Baseball Edition

Well baseball’s back, or will be soon, so after a few weeks absence, so too is the Boffo Beer Blog. And with a suitably baseball-themed return. In time for Spring Training, the Sequel, we take a swing at Texas Leaguer Brewery’s Two Hopper Ale.

Texas Leaguer is a new (started in just 2017) brewery in Astro-land, a town actually called Missouri City but located just outside of Houston. Their motto is “like America’s pastime, Texas Leaguer helps people enjoy life and good times.” Under normal conditions, of which the summer of 2020 certainly is not, you can enjoy their beers at “The Beerpark”, a taphouse and restaurant they have at their Missouri City brewery, which invites you to watch the game on big screens, even play a game or two outside … and bring the kids so they can enjoy Little Leaguer root beer and root, root for the hometeam. They also have live music periodically…all of which is moot this month with the pandemic raging and Texas (wisely) just ordering bars shut once more because of it. 

They brew up a variety of drinks, with names like Chin Music (a strong rye beer),Czech swing (what else – a Czech-style pilsner) and Knuckle Bock (a bock, as you might expect) besides the Two Hopper. You might detect a theme there perhaps!

Two Hopper is an IPA and comes in a bit stronger than most beers (6.4% alcohol) and also boasts the highest IBU of their offerings, at 67. IBU is a measure of the bitterness of flavor, with most American mass market lite lagers coming in at under 10, many ales being in the 20 to 40 range but the real strong Euro stouts approaching 100. The makers describe it as a beer that “looks like an easy play but turns into trouble…just enough hops for an IPA but still has an easy finish to make the out.”

I put on the cleats (well, not really) and had one yesterday with a pretty typical lunch of a nice salami on whole wheat with a bit of a simple side salad. Cracking open the 12 ounce can, with a nice ball-on-ash crack, I was surprised to see how strong and thick a head it created. The foam was of a shaving cream texture and long lasting above the cloudy but bright yellow drink.

It had a good creamy “mouth feel” and my first impression was a little strong and bitter, but not displeasingly so. It seemed to have a bit of a bittersweet aftertaste, with a hint of citrus (perhaps grapefruit) buried in it somewhere. It certainly held its own with the sandwich, and actually seemed to compliment the slightly spicy meat very nicely. I have a six-pack and have noticed that it’s one beer which really seems to benefit from being served very cold. Near room temperature is decidedly less flavorful and pleasing than icy ones.

When all is said and done, it’s a little like a 5-4 Marlins-Pirates game. Not half bad and a pleasant little diversion but not overly memorable in the grand scheme of things. Take away the baseball gimmicks and you’re left with a thoroughly adequate, drinkable but not very remarkable ale. All in all, I give it 7 out of 10 for strength, 6 out of 10 for flavor and…

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three Charlies out of Five!

Boffo Beer Blog #15 – Toadies Rock The Bock

Make up your mind… and crack open a fine Texas beer from a fine Texas… rock band? This week for Boffo, we try Toadies Backslider. The gold and black can with the dinosaur skeleton design caught my attention due to the Toadies reference. Did the Metroplex grunge band have a job moonlighting as brewers?

Turns out they do, and like their ’95 hit “Possum Kingdom”, it’s quite good… but not quite a household name.

Backslider is one of three beers Martin House Brewery in Fort Worth put out in conjunction with The Toadies. “Music and beer made in Texas by Texans” as they put it. The brewery, complete with a taproom was established in 2012 and although it seems small in nature, it is prolific. They have put out a wide range of beers, including Friday IPA, a raspberry ale, Daybreak “Four Grain Breakfast Beer” and perhaps most distinctively, Best Maid Sour Pickle Ale, which they say is an ale… that tastes like pickles. Their website seemed just a wee bit glitchy and short on details, but they describe Toadies Backslider as “the official beer of Fort Worth’s own Toadies…easy-drinking, copper-colored, lightly hoppy and perfect for on stage, backstage or where-ever.” The Dallas Morning News suggested that this replaced a previous drink the band had worked up with Martin House. “The guys wanted something a little less hoppy and more easy-drinking”, according to the brewery’s David Wedemeier. Seemed like they succeeded.

Cracking open the 12-ounce can and pouring it, I found a dark, nearly black brew – typical of most bocks. In good light, I could see it was a deep red color, and it foamed up to a decent but under-stated beige foamy head. There seemed to be little carbonation.

Giving it a taste, I was quite surprised. While it was moderately strong and hoppy tasting, it wasn’t nearly as bitter as many bocks. In fact it had a hint of a caramelly sweetness to it, which was unexpected. The band got their easy-drinking dark beer. All things considered, it seemed very smooth, if thick. I had it with a ham, turkey and Swiss cheese on a bun for lunch and it coupled very nicely with the savory flavors, not overpowering the sandwich but holding its own well. There was only a little aftertaste, and not a bad one at all. It seemed like a beer that might be a wee bit heavy for everyday pool party or summer picnic drinking but a thoroughly pleasant drink for dinners or a winter night… maybe spent listening to retro-’90s rock!

All in all, I give it a 8 out of 10 for strength (it comes in at 5.6% alcohol, by the way), 7 out of 10 for flavor and

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Four “possums” out of five.

Boffo Beer Blog, Week 14: Ain’t This One Sumpin’

Well, isn’t this “sumpin”. This time out I tried Lagunitas Breweries feisty little offering they call Little Sumpin. And she is that.

The brewery is based in Petaluma, a city of around 60 000 located just north of San Francisco, but they also have a brewery in Chicago to deliver fresher beer to eastern locales, as well as a third taproom in Seattle. The company which boasts the slogan “life is uncertain, don’t sip” was started, more or less, in 1993 in Tony Magee’s kitchen. After an incident involving a burnt turkey dinner, “Tony’s wife Carissa kindly asked him to move his new hobby elsewhere.” After a stop at a garden shed, he eventually set up shop in town and has grown from there to a pretty big little sumpin’ of a brewery, selling in over 20 countries apparently.

Tony’s apparently nearly as big a fan of music as he is of beer, and the brewery offers live music at all three taprooms (which are currently closed due to the corona virus) and frequent stage shows in their hometown at the Petaluma Ampitheatre. While you’re in the taprooms, you can enjoy a menu ranging from Cobb salads and pretzels to mussels and burgers. They’ve even curated Spotify playlists on their website, tailored to each of their beers. Speaking of which, they have a fairly decent range of them, perhaps ten or so regular offerings plus sporadic seasonals like a red ale.

I did find the website was a bit lagging in the beer page – maybe the webmaster had enjoyed one too many – but among the regulars from Lagunitas are an IPA, a Czech-style pilsener and a lite beer plus more off-the-wall like a cannabis-infused one and “Hoppy Refresher”, a zero calorie, no-alcohol, clear sparkling hop drink. And of course, Little Sumpin.

They call Little Sumpin’ (the most readily available of theirs in Texas at least) a “truly unique style featuring a strong hop finish and a silky body. Filtered wheat ale that is good for both IPA and wheat beer fans.”

That’s a pretty good sounding choice, and well, Lagunitas didn’t lie. I cracked open a 12-ounce, rather stubby bottle with the “little sumpin’ “ lady they call Millie on the label, with her raven hair, bustiere, shorts and bobby sox. Pouring it, I found a nice amber-colored beer with decent effervescence and a thick, foamy head. My first impression was a strong, but pleasing taste. Definitely hoppy but not overly bitter and with just a hint of fruitiness that sometime does come along with wheat beers (usually because they have orange or at times grapefruit added in.) The aftertaste was a tiny bit tangy in the mouth.

I had it with a spicy beef taco and some cut up bell peppers and tomatoes, and found it a nice companion. The drink held its own and cut the spiciness of the beef pretty well. It had a good “mouth feel” as some brewers like to call it.

Overall, I liked it. A bit of the best of both worlds, the worlds being IPAs and wheat beers. At 7% alcohol she’s no dainty lass; I rate it 8 out of 10 for strength, 8 out of 10 for flavor and overall

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Four Betty Boops out of five.

Boffo Beer Blog : Week 13 (?) A Texmex Quaff Enters The Ring

In honor of cinco de Mayo, this week I went extravagante and tried out some “south of the border” flavor to go with a bit of a Tex/Mex lunch. I tried out Deep Ellum’s Neato Bandito “Czech-inspired Mexican lager” to go with some Fideo… vermicelli with beef and a few spices to the rest of us.

Deep Ellum is apparently a trendy neighborhood in Dallas, one which came from an industrial beginning and now is a place of cool shops and brick lofts. Deep Ellum Brewing set up shop there fairly recently, in 2011. It now has its brewery there, along with a taproom/restaurant. It also has one of those in Fort Worth. The website shows a rather nice looking brick-walled bar with an outdoor patio as well, but not surprisingly, the taprooms are closed right now due to the pandemic. Maldito! They say they were inspired by a “healthy disdain for the status quo” and want drinkers to “help us annihilate bland corporate beers.” The brewery favors colorful and cartoonish cans, with some of its regular fare including the omni-present (in Texas) Dallas Blonde, Deep Ellum IPA and Blind Lemon, a lemonade spritzer.

For Neato Bandito, they suggest it’s a “high-flying lager brewed with corn, light in color but big in flavor.” They suggest it goes well with chili-topped potato skins.

I cracked open one of the big 19-ounce cans, bright yellow and adorned with cartoons of Mexican wrestlers. Pouring it, I was surprised at how thick and foamy a head it created. It seemed like a beer designed to be kegged at a bar. The color was a deep yellow, with very little carbonization. The head was rather long-lasting and had a nice foamy consistency.

The flavor though, was underwhelming. It came across as a little bitter and strong-ish and watery at the same time, which is a bit of a feat to pull off. As I drank more of it, I thought I could discern a little bit of a chemically flavor that you sometimes find in really cheap lagers. Mind you, it didn’t do badly when consumed with the somewhat spicy pasta-and-meat.

It put me in mind of something like Pabst with a bit more hoppiness or someone trying to make Corona in a mass-market mega-brewery. This might have to do with the corn in it. Most beers typically use barley as the grain, but The Spruce Eats note that rice and corn are cheaper grains and often used in place of the barley (or wheat which is also used in some of the better Euro-beers). Budweiser for instance, uses rice, while some mass market offerings like Busch Lite opt for corn. To be fair, other references suggest that many Mexican beers have used corn all along, so it may be Neato Bandito is a good attempt at being authentically Mexican.

Be that as it may, Neato Bandito was one of the rare beers where I found that the single serving was a bit much, and didn’t even empty the can. There was something mildly disquieting about the corn-based flavor and hoppiness. All in all, I rate it 7 out of 10 for strength (it comes in at a hearty 6.0% alcohol) but only 4 out of 10 for flavor, so overall

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Just 2.5 sombreros out of 5.

Boffo Beer Blog : Week 12 (or so) Vanilla And Beer Together Again

Week 12…or so. I think we missed a week or two in there. Anyhow, I hope you’re all keeping well and safe out there. And treating yourself to a nice meal and bevvie from time to time.

This week I taste tested something that sounded a bit different – Breckenridge Brewery’s Vanilla Porter. If it sounds like a drinkable candy for adults… well, it’s not quite. But it isn’t far off either.

Breckenridge is a Colorado brewery begun in 1990 in the town it was named after. Apparently the little craft brewery and restaurant/tasting room is still there, but they quickly outgrew that spot’s output capability so they moved. They built a large brewery in downtown Denver in 1992, right across the road from the Rockies’ baseball stadium, but in time that too became too crowded to meet demand so they relocated to 12 acres in nearby Littleton where they now have their main brewery and a farmhouse restaurant featuring “dining …indoors or a leisurely outdoor experience around fire pits, playing bocce ball” and enjoying their majestic views of the Rocky Mountains.

The company is, like many smaller craft breweries, altruistic and donate to any number of local charities including a local conservation group, Metro State University and food banks, of which they proudly have donated over 100 000 meals to. Most unusually, they also say they last year donated over 500 cases of their beer to non-profits! And why not? After a hard day volunteering handing out some boxes of food, or planting trees, why not reward the folks with a cold one?

Breckenridge seems to specialize in darker, heavier or more unusually-flavored beers than many of the larger competitors or even than some of the IPA-focused other microbrews of the Great Plains. The vanilla porter is one of their regular mainstay brews, along with Hop Peak IPA, an oatmeal stout and Agave wheat beer as well as “nitro” nitrogen-charged cans which just about explode the beer out with “velvety cascading heads.” Among the flavors that come nitro-blasted are the vanilla, Chocolate orange stout and an Irish stout.

Speaking of which… porter? Stout? Draft mag says they are very similar but porters are a little less bitter than stouts, both are “well-hopped and dark” due to their use of unusually brown malts. Guinness is probably the quintessential stout.

So that leads to my Vanilla Porter. I would have liked to pop open one of those nitrogen-exploding cans but settled happily for a conventional 12 ounce bottle. I had it with a mighty fine jalapeno-topped cheeseburger and a few finger-food veggies on the side.

Popping open the bottle,and pouring it, I was reminded very much of Guinness. Why not – remember, stout, porter, tomatOH, tomAHtoe. It was very dark, and produced a thick, caramel-colored head that filled half the glass. Swigging the remaining ounce or two from the bottle, it came across as intriguing. Definitely a strong flavor, but with a hint of sweetness and a remarkably smooth, creamy feel to it. It rates at 5.4% alcohol, about average to a Canadian like me but just a bit stronger than norm in the U.S. Kicking into the burger, the beer really ramped it up a notch … while still strong enough to taste, it blended wonderfully and cut the heat of the jalapeno which had a lot more character than I expected! Somehow, it added an unexpected layer of flavor to both the food and the drink and left a decent feel to the mouth. It did still have a bit of an aftertaste, not unpleasant but odd , both bitter and a wee bit vanilla at the same time. And to note, while there is a definite vanilla hint to the flavor, this is not like a dark, melted ice cream.

All things considered, a nice drink that seems to do well with a strongly flavored meal. I give it 8 out of 10 for strength and 7 out of 10 for flavor and

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four out of five mountain goats for the Colorado brew.

Boffo Beer Blog, Week 11 : I Voted For 903’s Brew

What could be more American that having a cold beer while watching a baseball game? Well, of course right now staying at home and not watching baseball – there is none after all – would be, but we can still enjoy the cold beer part. So for the new brew this week, I voted for an odd-sounding Texan beer with a patriotic-looking can. I Voted is an unusual fruity beer offered by the 903 Brewery in Sherman, Texas, a small city near the Oklahoma border. They describe it as “a straight-forward cream ale we’ve added raspberry and blueberry to” , resulting in a “fruity aroma” and “coating feel”.

Somehow, I expected a relatively light beer, but when I popped open the 12-ounce can and poured it, I found a dark, effervescent beer that looked reminiscent of a root beer soft drink, with a little less frothy head. The flavor was fairly strong, and definitely fruity. I could detect a decidedly fruity flavor, although pinning down which fruit was more difficult. Rather than raspberry and blueberry, it seemed almost like grapes and the drink seemed reminiscent of a sparkling red wine.

I’d just had a taco lunch, but actually had this afterwards with a tangelo orange ( a very fine specialty fruit I must say in both taste and ease of peeling!). Drinking it with the orange created a very nice fruit salad sort of effect, although there was still a bit of a bitter aftertaste. I would’ve been curious to taste it with the spicy taco; it seems like it might go fine with anything a wine connoisseur would enjoy a red with. But it seems like a decent choice for a dessert drink. The brewer simply suggest pairing it with “rock, flag and eagle.” They by the way describe it as purple in color.

The website for 903 needs a little work but does tell us a little about themselves. Like some of the other microbrews I’ve highlighted, it seems to be a small business started by a couple, and they have a taproom and restaurant (currently closed due to the virus)which hosts trivia nights and features well-reviewed grilled cheese sandwiches. 903 definitely isn’t the typical lager-lugger brewer. they seem to specialize in odd, unexpected flavors for their roster including a French toast stout, Sasquatch chocolate milk stout and a coconut-pineapple ale.

As for this raspberry-blueberry offering, they suggest “we don’t care if you’re blue or red, or purple like this beer, as long as you make yourself heard.” I vote for following that advice. As for the beer, it might be like a lot of candidates on the ballot – not ideal but better than some alternatives. I give it a 7 out of 10 for strength (the flavor is quite strong; the “kick” is quite average … the website give it a strong 6.5% alcohol rating but the can I had read a more typical 5%) , 6 out of 10 for flavor and all-in-all

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Three Uncle Sams out of five.

Boffo Beer Blog, Week 10 : Walking On The (Virus-free) Moon

Walking on the Moon” was a minor hit record for The Police. Was never their favorite song for most, but with all this Corona virus news, I bet it might be soon. Feels like the moon might be the only place we are safe these days – and if someone gets within six feet of us, we will have those heavy helmets with glass shields in front of us to block those nasty germs!

In keeping with that , this week I popped open a Moonwalk Brut IPA from Texas’ Real Ale Brewing. Like several of the other microbrews I’ve savored so far, Real Ale began out of a couple’s love of good beer and relative lack of it in their stores. This drove them to make their own in their kitchen… or in this particular case, the basement of a small store in Blanco, Texas. That was 1996.

At first they brewed a couple of a couple of ales, Brewhouse Brown and Full Moon Pale, and sold the limited quantities in 22-ounce bottles. By 2000 they’d begun adding varieties and putting out their brew in six packs of more conventional 12-ounce bottles; by 2006 they’d opened up a new large brewery in town and soon after, a taproom to enjoy it in (now closed due to the virus, of course.)

Their popularity, and product line kept increasing and by 2013 they were producing 50 000 barrels of their 14 regular varieties per year. In 2017, they expanded to open a distillery which produces gin and whiskey. Their current line is highlighted by the big-selling Fireman’s #4 Blonde but includes such quirky offerings as Pin-setter Amber Lager, a tribute to bowling (beer and bowling go together but how a beer can reflect the sport, you’d have to ask them!) and Commissar, a Russian stout still put out in hardy 22-ounce bombers, comrade.

One thing all the drinks have in common is a minimum of ingredients, which are all GMO-free and a manufacturing which reflects their philosophy of “minimal processing produces maximum flavor.” Unfortunately, as of right now, Real Ale only sell in their homestate of Texas, saying their production isn’t even enough right now to satisfy thirsty Texans and they don’t think their beer will stay fresh enough to meet their own standards if transported a long distance.

Moonwalk is described by them as an “extra dry, ultra crisp, out of this world IPA” with a flavor of “ripe berries and soft fruit, with a champagne like finish.” The brew comes in at a slightly strong 6.0% alcohol.

I popped open the bottle to enjoy with a big ol’ cold cut sub. The beer was surprisingly frothy when poured, making an extensive and thick white head over its effervescent, hazy golden liquid. As beers go, this was a nice-looking one. But the visuals matter little if the drink isn’t good. Thankfully, Moonwalk is good… maybe not quite “out of this world” good, but pretty darn good anyway.

At first chug, the impression was quite strong, and the word “Aromatic” came to mind. A little bitter, but pleasantly so. The bubbles and fizz felt nice. there was a subtle, but definite layer of mild fruitiness underneath, although I couldn’t really narrow down what fruit. I would have guessed something citrus, rather than the berries they mention. Anyway, it was a good taste.

With the sub sandwich, the hint of sweetness seemed to disappear and the flavor was rather dimmed, although not erased…this is a flavorful drink, but not a wildly strong one.

Bottom line – a good, pleasing drink that might be a good compromise for people wanting a beer with more kick and “oomph” than say, Bud or Miller but not as bold as a locomotive in a glass. I give it an 8 out of 10 for strength, 7 out of 10 for flavor and overall…

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four out of five Clorox-wiped rockets.

Boffo Beer Blog, Week 9 : Weisse N Easy

Well for this week’s new adventure on the beer frontier, I made a return visit to that brewery as close to the hearts of many a Texan as bluebonnets and bucking broncos – Shiner. You might recall I looked at one of their winter drinks, Frost, and mentioned how the little Spoetzl Brewery from the town of Shiner has a big footprint in the Texas market. And funny commercials. Well, this time around the curiosity got the better of me and I tried their new Weisse & Easy.

By “new” I do mean new; it appeared on local shelves just last month and somehow hasn’t been added to their website yet. As an interesting promo, Shiner (typically a glass-only company) offered it in specially-priced, one-gulp mini-cans, but I rolled the dice and went for a normal 12-ounce bottle.

Shiner describe the drink as having “all the flavor of a wheat beer but with only 95 calories. Unfiltered and brewed with native Texas dewberries…perfect for kickin’ back and taking it weisse and easy.” For those unfamiliar with “Dewberries” (like me for example), they’re apparently a small shrub-grown berry much akin to blackberries. So it was try a new beer and expand my vocabulary all in one! The drink seems a natural for Shiner since they also famously brew “Ruby Redbird”, a light beer with Texas grapefruit added.

I had it with a late lunch of a robust garden salad and a turkey sandwich. Pouring it into the glass, it was quite fizzy (“highly effervescent” as Beer Advocate correctly pegged it as) and built quite a solid head. The color was nice, but unusual, rather an almost rosy shade of gold; mainly clear and quite “effervescent.”

Having a swig to finish up the bottle, my first reaction was “Wow!” Not a “best thing I’ve ever tasted” kind of wow, but neither a “ooh! Spit it out!” kind either. Just a “Wow” of surprise, as it didn’t come across as a swig of beer. It seemed more like a red sparkling wine or perhaps a berry-flavored cooler. A little sweet, a bit tarty too but very fruity. The tartness seemed a bit more prominent in the relatively light aftertaste.

I found it rather “fresh” and that it paired really nicely with the salad veggies. I could imagine this one as a summer picnic refresher, and with the lite beer rating of just 4.0% alcohol, one which wouldn’t impair performance on any three-legged race or other funtime activity that could grow out of it. With the turkey, it seemed a little more bitter but kept its flavor, not getting over-ridden by the meaty flavor.

In short, a fairly pleasing and intense taste, but unlike the Ruby Redbird (which tastes beer-y but with a dash of citrus) this one comes across more like a spritzer of bubbly wine. So, a fine drink, but not exactly for someone wanting a conventional beer. Likewise, probably too hoppy still for a discerning wine-fancier.

Still, I rate it a 3 out of 5 for strength and 4 out of 5 for flavor and overall,

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3-and-a-half Crane brothers out of five.

Boffo Beer Blog, Week 8 : Drinking For God

I decided to do God’s work for the latest beer adventure. Because I savored a beer intriguingly, maybe a little pompously even, named Save The World Agnus Dei, or Witbier. With a name like that, it would be almost sinful not to give it a go, wouldn’t it?

Turns out there’s a good reason and interesting story behind the name. The little brewery from near Austin, TX, bills itself as “a philanthropic brewery” dedicated to “making the best Texas craft beer and giving back.” They work as a non-profit, with profits going to various charities including Meals on wheels, Habitat for Humanity and ones designed to get food to under-nourished children. It was begun around 2012 by a husband and wife team, Drs. Dave and Quynh Rathkamp. The pair were both pediatric doctors in the Dallas area before they decided they wanted to do something different.

Dave says he wanted to do good but also enjoy himself and that his passion for beer was the special gift from God. He’d been a homebrewing hobbyist for over a decade and had slowly converted his wife. She describes herself as a wine lover when they got together but had been won over to “the dark side” by him and his old recipe brews. they relocated to Marble Falls, about 20 miles outside of Austin, and built a small brewery and restaurant. The latter has a selection of board games and ring toss for people to have fun with while testing the selection of brews which tend to be European-styled ales like a Belgian pale ale, a Farmhouse ale and a Grisette, a light, lemony drink.

This one is a typical wheat beer, which they describe as a “thirst-quenching rendition of the classic Belgian wheat ale brewed with orange peel, coriander and a carefully sourced third spice.” Curiously, coriander is derived from the cilantro plant, but it is the seeds which taste quite sweet and fruity, a sharp difference from the bitterish leaves Mexicans love for their sauces.

Save the World suggest pairing it with fish dishes and cheeses, but as it turns out, I had a 12-ounce bottle with a takeout dinner of fried chicken, a couple of the restaurant’s surprisingly hot jalapenos and a roll. The beer showed a nice orangey-golden color and looked, as billed a little “hazy” when poured. It didn’t have a lot of fizz or head.

At first taste, it was very pleasing. I’m partial to wheat beers, their clean feeling and tendency to fall somewhere between the watery disappointment of big brewery lagers and weighty ales. Usually they are brewed with a bit of citrus which gives just a wee hint of sweetness. Which was exactly what this one was. Clean tasting but with a good amount of flavor, just a hint of sweetness which was more noticeable when had with the chicken. The brew did an admirable job of keeping its flavor even with the jalapeno and cutting the burn of that pleasantly. It went down easily and really seemed refreshing. It was rated at 5.7% alcohol, but left me with a tiny buzz characteristic of a stronger drink, making it seem like not a beer for lunchtime or before going out on a road trip, but a very good dinner accompaniment or watching a movie sipper.

All in all, I rate it 4 out of 5 for stength, 4 and a half out of 5 for flavor and

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Four and a half halos out of five! It makes me want to see how many other ways Dave and Quynh will let us “save the world.”