As I usually do when I travel, I stock up on beers I can't get in New Orleans. On a recent trip to Houston, I wanted to grab some local beer and I came across No Label Brewing based in Katy, TX. They had a few offerings at the Spec's I went to, but the one that caught my eye was the Mint IPA. I love mint and I love IPAs, so I bought a six pack.
Chafunkta Brewing Co.
No Label Brewing
We took a mini-vacation to the Northshore two weekends ago and explored some beer options up there. We also took the Saturday morning tour of Covington Brewhouse. The tour was great -- our guide, from sales, was informative and friendly. As with most brewery tours, you can pour yourself a glass of one of their beers. We noticed a beer from Covington we'd never seen before, marked simply as "IPA". We tasted it and oh man, it was good. After the tour was over, we hung back and talked to our guide about the brewery and homebrewing, but we kept going back to the IPA and how impressed with it were were. Our guide, being the nice guy he is, grabbed some bottles from his trunk that he's been using as samples on his sales calls. No label yet, but definitely still beer. So, as a disclaimer:
I'm shamelessly piggy-backing on The Beer Buddha's review of this beer and writing a companion piece. Mostly because his review was funny, but also because it just works.
Living in New Orleans has its perks, like a million festivals and amazing food, but when it comes to craft beer from outside of our Gulf South region, we get the short end of the stick. That's changing, of course, with a handful of high profile distribution agreements recently, but there are still some gaps on the shelves at our bottle stores, namely, Dogfish Head. So, I took to LetsPour and made an order of a few bottles of stuff we just can't get here. The first that we tried was Dogfish Head's 90-Minute IPA.
After a few years of preparing and teasing us with samples at beer festivals, Chafunkta Brewing has finally made their way into bars and restaurants in the area. Now, I've had their Old 504 Porter and their Voo Ka Ray IPA at New Orleans on Tap and some other festivals, but a 3oz sample -- while delicious -- just didn't do their beers justice.
Oooh boy! Russian Imperial Stouts are bad ass, plain and simple. Clown Shoes has never made a beer I didn’t like and their labels and names are as awesome as their beers. This is freaking unicorn dragon beast thing. Like, I can’t even comprehend the majesty and bad-assery of this creature.
Christmas is officially over, but my lights are still up so I can still post about Christmas beers. If the rain stops here, I’ll swap the Christmas lights out for the Mardi Gras lights. A weird thing I do is call all strands of lights Christmas lights, regardless of holiday, or even if they’re plain white ones that are up year-round on a patio or something. I’ll even call them things like “Mardi Gras Christmas lights” or “Halloween Christmas lights” as if “Christmas lights” are their actual name. Go figure, coming from a guy who lives in a part of the world that calls every soft drink “Coke” even if it’s Sprite or root beer.
Winter is a pretty great time of year. I prefer cold weather to hot weather. However, with the colder weather comes the need for warmth. Alcohol does a great job of tricking your body into thinking it’s warm, when really it isn’t. Remember in those old cartoons when the Saint Bernard would come bring whiskey or whatever to the hiker trapped in the snow on a mountain, and then the guy would stop shivering and sometimes the snow around him would melt? That guy should actually be dead. The alcohol just causes your capillaries to open up, allowing your blood to flow more freely near the surface of your skin, where most of your heat-sensing nerves live. So, if you’re trapped in the snow and a Saint Bernard offers you a drink, take it, but then grab on to that dog. He’ll keep you alive longer than the booze.
I’m usually pretty hard on Abita for their beers. I feel like I’m justified, though, because, honestly, most of their year-round beers are just kinda okay. Amber’s a pretty okay lager. Purple Haze is a pretty okay fruit/wheat beer. Jockamo is an okay IPA. Restoration Ale is a so-so pale ale. I do love Turbodog and generally speaking, Strawberry Harvest is usually pretty solid. And their Select Series generally churns out some interesting stuff (their Imperial Stout and their Black IPA stand out as really good ones to me). Their seasonals never really hit it out of the park, like their Pecan Harvest and Satsuma Wit. I’ve generally felt the same about their Christmas Ale. It’s different every year, so I try it every year, hoping it’ll be better. This year, I got a surprise.
Ah, Christmas. It is a rad time of year. A time for dudes and dudettes to enjoy their time together and sing and eat and, most of all, drink. Hot cocoa and eggnog are fine, sure, and pouring some peppermint schnapps into your coffee mug at work is a pretty sweet deal too, but for me, my holiday drink of choice is the plethora of Christmas ales that frolic into stores every year.
December 21st is today and if the interpretation of Mayan culture by a group of paranoid weirdos with no background in ancient civilizations studies is correct, the world’s going to end. If I walked into a Barnes & Noble right now and walked to the calendar section, I’d probably assume the world was going to end on December 31st, 2013 since that’s when all the calendars end, unless there’s some 15-month calendar in there. But hey, that won’t stop a bunch of people, likely beer companies, from capitalizing on the silliness of it all.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the houseNot a creature was stirring, not even a mouseThe Elissa IPA was brewed by the… chim…ney with… care?In hops (get it?!) that Saint Arnold would be there
Eleven years in the making, starting with February 2nd, 2002 (02.02.02), Stone Brewing’s Vertical Epic series has come to a close. For those not familiar, every year since 2002, Stone has released a special brew on the repetitive date of that year (02.02.02, 03.03.03, etc). The styles and flavors have varied over the years. Some, like the VE 08.08.08, have had fruity elements in a Belgian Pale Ale, and others, like the 06.06.06, have Stout-like qualities with spices.
Going to break up my Christmas beers with a He’Brew. I mean, sure, it’s not a (C)Hanukah seasonal, but it’s the closest thing I’ve got so deal with it!
It’s now December, which means it’s probably close to Christmas. The 70-degree temperatures here in New Orleans don’t exactly send any number of lords leaping or chestnuts roasting, but I’ve set my inner Clark Griswold free and blanketed our house with a few thousand watt-stealing bulbs and I couldn’t be more excited about the holidays. I think I enjoy the winter seasonals more than any other seasonals.
I’m a big fan of stouts, big beers, and chocolate plus spice, so this beer pretty much was made for me. This is another brewery that has only recently entered our market.
This was an absolute joy to be able to drink. Rogue’s brewmaster had just completed his 15,000th brew and to celebrate, he conjured up this beautiful stout. The beer was released in limited quantities — only 1,515 bottles were sold (we got #606) — and they were only sold through their website. Each bottle was made out of ceramic and featured a swing-top cap. Each bottle was also signed and numbered by John Maier, Rogue’s brewmaster. It also came with a certificate of authenticity!
As I’ve mentioned before, Green Flash is relatively new to our market, so it’s been a joy trying their brews. So far, they haven’t done poorly at all.
This was the first Slumbrew I had had. Rhea picked it up from the store one day while stocking up on beer.
Always a fan of Rogue’s work and they absolutely did not disappoint here. Red Ales are iffy territory for me, but this one is absolutely solid. One of the few 5 ★ ratings I’ve ever given a beer.