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, Week 5: A Christmas Story In Your Glass

December 25th may have come and gone, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to keep the Christmas spirit going. And in this week’s Boffo Beer Blog, we’ll have a Christmas “spirit”… Karbach Brewery’s Yule Shoot Your Eye Out Seasonal ale.

The Houston brewery offers up a few year-round favorites and a variety of seasonal offerings, available throughout Texas and the south-central States. “It’s all about the beer,” they say, suggesting “we don’t take ourselves seriously but you can be damn sure we take our beer seriously.” They use “classic German techniques to make beer for everyone to enjoy.”

Among their regular brews are Hopadillo, with its colorful armadillo-adorned can, and Crawford Bock, whose cans have the now questionable distinction of being dressed up like a Houston Astros jersey. (Tap your can once for fastball, twice for curve…)  You can try them out in the city at their brewery and restaurant, which offers a variety of dishes that pair well with beers of every stripe, including fish and chips, king-sized pretzels and of course, Texas chili. They periodically have special events, including a “Galentines day” later this week with a “market and movie night” showing ’90s cult fave The Craft.

Among their seasonal varieties are a chocolate stout and the one I tried, Yule Shoot Your Eye Out, for winter offerings. Of the Yule beer and its 5.6 % alcohol rating, they say it’s a “red ale brewed with orange peel (and) loaded with smooth caramel malt and a citrus twist. We triple dog dare you to find a better holiday ale.”

Cracking open the 12-ounce, leg-lamp adorned can is nearly as exciting as opening a wooden box to reveal a “major award.” Pouring it reveals it does indeed live upto its billing as a rather festive clear, reddish drink which produced a thick, bubbly head. The beer itself seemed a little more fizzy than some and had a decent aroma.

Now, this one is a bit different than the past three beers I sampled here in two ways. One is that it’s a yuletide offering, and I’m sampling it in February. This is about the end of the run for it this winter, as according to Karbach, “oh fuuddge! It’s only here for a limited time.” And I found I actually was consuming the first one on the very “best before” date printed on the bottom. So, while certainly not stale nor flat, it’s entirely possible “Yule” get a better feel for the drink if consumed closer to the production date, around the time Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick is bringing pink bunny pyjamas to good little boys far and wide. Secondly, this one I actually purchased a six-pack of rather than just one individual bottle or can.

I mention that because I actually cracked open the first at night, having it after dinner while watching some TV. I had another the following afternoon with a light dinner of some left-over roast ham in a kaiser and a jalapeno or two. I found the environment seemed to make a difference and it seemed slightly different between the two sittings.

Drinking it on its own, I found it a little unusual and not what I’d expected. Not a lump of coal in the stocking, but not a Red Rider winner either. It seemed a little watery and while it left a slight, not too unpleasant bitter aftertaste, I could really detect the caramel of the malts. It almost made me think of the effect one would have if downing a typical mainstream lager a few minutes after sucking on a Werthers candy.

Paired with the lunch, it fared a bit better, The sweetness was cut and the flavor seemed to hold its own nicely against the sandwich and cut the heat of the hot peppers a little. Perhaps that’s why Karbach recommend having it with stews or “game”. What it didn’t seem was a typical strong ale.

All in all, it won’t make you cuss like a faulty, smoking furnace would but it might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you have to write about what you want for Christmas! I give Yule Shoot Your Eye Out a 6 out of 10 for flavor, 7 out of 10 for strength and

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three leg-lamps out of five!