Each month, we list our favorite beers from the previous month. Because we focus on the Houston Beer Scene, we will always list our favorite from the Houston area/market, but will occasionally include beers from outside of Houston.
Follow us on our beer drinking adventure!
B-52 Brewing and SpindleTap Brewery – Two Sheets Shake
This month’s entry may seem a bit odd in terms of timing. Usually, you want to drink IPAs on the fresh side, but this one actually got better as it aged. If you had the beer really fresh, you may have noticed an abnormal bite or “greenness” to the beer. This “green” flavor is what many call hop burn. Don’t get me wrong, I agree that the beers were green when they were fresh. But since I had multiple 4-packs, I held on to some of these cans and had both Two Sheets and Two Sheets Shake about two weeks ago. With some time, as I expected, both versions were much better.
As you may know, a milkshake hazy IPA is a hazy IPA with lactose sugar added. Two Sheets Shake was conditioned on peach, pineapple, vanilla, chamomile flowers, and jasmine pearl tea. For me, the dominant flavors from the list above is the pineapple and the vanilla. The body and the appearance were also perfect to style.
Casey Brewing & Blending (Side Project Collab) – Leaner (10/13/2017)
On my recent trip to Colorado I had more good beer than I have had in a long time. I know I always say this was a hard decision, but this was really an extremely hard choice. I could have very easily picked two other beers I tried at Casey, two beers from Weldworks, or Smoeltrekker #31 from Purpose Brewing & Cellars.
Multiple blends of this beer have been brewed by both Casey Brewing and Side Project. Often they will put out versions on their collaboration beers, trying to out-fruit the version brewed by the other brewery. If you love peach beers, you, the beer drinker, are the beneficiary of the fruit duels.
Leaner pours a slightly hazy, dull yellow with a small amount of head. My pour of this beer was on tap, but when bottles were opened during the tour I was surprised at how the beers were poured. Much more notable than the appearance of the beer was the beautiful aroma. The aroma was full of peach, lemon peel, a nice yeasty funkiness, and oak. The flavor is exactly the same, with a high acidity. As with almost every Casey fruited beer, the fruit (peaches) used was fresh, local, and organic.
Holler Brewing Company – Mary Poppins’ Party Sauce
Looks like I’m in the minority on this one, as Mary Poppins’ Party Sauce has a relatively weak score of 3.28 on Untappd after 51 ratings, but I absolutely loved this beer and had to give it some respect on Houston Beer Scene. I consumed it on it’s release date at the brewery, which may make a difference. Holler brews fresh from their tank is something special. Holler describes this as “a super-Englishy English Ale”; I’m not exactly sure what that means, but the flavor is somewhere in the Extra Special Bitter, to English IPA range in my opinion. To paint the picture even further, Mary Poppins’ Party Sauce is brewed with Golden Promise Malt and, what tastes like a healthy dose of East Kent Golding hops.
I’ve always found Holler to do an excellent job with English Ale styles. Their Margaret Thatcher Naked On A Cold Day, an English Pale Ale, Pub Crusher, an English Dark Mild, and their simply named English Mild, a 3.2% Pale Mild, definitely show Holler’s ability to brew classic English styles. The GABF has also recognized Holler’s skill with English styles by awarding their ESB a bronze medal in last year’s competition. Party Sauce has a lot in common with these brews, most notably a great, complex malt flavor at a relatively low (5.7%) ABV. The earthy, somewhat fruity hop is prevalent, but doesn’t overwhelm the malt. An assertive bitterness provides a nice backbone to the brew. Holler nails another English style beer with Party Sauce, dare I ask for a cask version? Mary Poppins’ Party Sauce is currently available on-tap at the brewery and some Houston area beer bars.
Upland Brewing Company – Various Sours
I’m cheating a bit with my second pick for the month. I had three great sours from Upland this month that I felt deserved mention. My favorite was Galaxy Grove, a collaboration with Cigar City that’s complex, bursting with flavor, and almost too easy to drink. Galaxy Grove is an IPA that goes through primary fermentation with a blend of two different strains of Brettanomyces, transferred to wine barrels, then transferred again to referment with peaches and guava, finally dry-hopped with Centennial, Citra and Galaxy hops. The final product features flavors from all of these different elements with fruit, probably from the actual fruit, as well as the hops used, and Brett being most forward. There’s a lot going on here and if any of what I described sounds interesting to you, it’s worth seeking out as it looks to be a one-off release.
Iridescent is another barrel aged, sour winner. For this one, a Sour Blonde Ale is aged in wine barrels with dried apricot and ginger. The flavor is moderately tart and plenty fruity. It’s also another one that has that easy drinker, thirst quenching element that many sours have. Lastly, Oak & Rosé is yet another outstanding brew that spent time aging in wine barrels. For this one, Upland’s Sour Blonde Ale spends its time in the barrel with Chambourcin grapes, a variety that is used for- you guessed it- making Rosé wine. The grape provides a brilliant red color and plenty of flavor. It’s dry, sour, complex and something I think a wine drinker might appreciate. These are but a few of the sours produced by this Bloomington, Indiana based brewery of which quite a few can be found in bottles locally. Upland is also sporadically available on-tap in the Houston area. Since they’ve arrived in Houston, I’ve had a handful of their beers, in addition to these three, and find that they always do a great job with their sour ales.
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