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.
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I am breaking from my tradition of one Houston beer and one non-Houston beer. I had some great non-Texas beers, but when I looked at the Houston beers I had, I felt like there were a few of them that needed mentioning. So, here we go with my Beer’s of the Month.
Copperhead Brewery (Conroe, TX) – Cherry Medusa
Cherry Medusa by Copperhead Brewery is a classy beer! First, about the base beer: everything you’d expect from a Quad, nice malty, caramel, bready notes and lots of plum and raisin. Sweet but not overly sweet. Now, enter the tart cherry! The tart cherry cuts through some of the boozy sweetness of the base beer. The cherry notes were very strong at this point, I’d actually say stronger than when I had it at the brewery a few weeks ago. This bottle was from 2017, so it had plenty of time for all the flavors to blend together nicely. Wish I had more, because that was great. 4.5/5.
Great Heights Brewing Co (Houston, TX) – World of Pain
World of Pain is one of the beers that was released at the Great Heights Anniversary party in November. Because my brother-in-law took me to Austin to hit up some breweries there, I was not able to make it to the Anniversary Party. I settled for a crowler a few days later.
World of Pain is right up there with Sombre by Oak Cliff Brewing, one of my favorites from November, as one of the better base stouts I’ve had in a long time.
World of Pain is pitch black with a really nice dark tan head, super roasty, with notes of coffee, chocolate, and burnt sugar. The mouthfeel was exactly what you would expect from a massive 10.3 abv fully body stout, medium carbonation and slightly sticky/oily. I really hope some variants come from this in the future. A barrel aged version would be phenomenal, so, waiting I guess.
SpindleTap Brewery (Houston, TX) – Spruced Up DIPA
I decided to include Spruced Up for two reasons. First, it really is a good beer. Second, I have not liked a single spruce IPA, except for Spruced Up. I must admit, I was really surprised by this beer. I guess I should know better and have more faith in SpindleTap since they have never lead me astray before. Spruced Up is a Hazy DIPA with spruce tips, juniper, peaches, and tangerine. Nice hop bitterness with loads of spruce and juniper. The Tangerine is also well represented while the peach is definitely in the background. The mouthfeel is pillowy soft and the carbonation is perfect.
I would have been interested to know what it would have been like with pomegranate instead of peach, like one of the original Facebook posts advertised. Normally you’d expect a brewery to release some kind of stout for their Christmas beer, but that wouldn’t be a very SpindleTap move.
Saint Arnold Brewing Co (Houston, TX) – Bishop’s Barrel 22
Usually, around this time of year, it’s a lock for me to pick Imperial Stouts, Porters, or some other large malty brews as my favorites, but I’m going in a little bit of a different direction this month on my picks by going with a pair of fairly light, sour barrel-aged Belgian inspired beers. Before I go further with my picks, I would like to list a few awesome brews that are a bit more “Winter appropriate” and worth seeking out:
Brash Brewing Company – Nobility – Imperial Stout aged in brandy, apple brandy and peach brandy barrels
Brazos Valley Brewing Company – Slippin’ Into Darkness – Russian Imperial Stout with coffee and cocoa nibs
City Acre Brewing – Flannel Weather – Mocha Porter with mint and Ruta Maya coffee
Clown Shoes – Snow On the Maple Tree – Imperial Stout aged in maple bourbon barrels
Martin House Brewing Company – Erebus – Scotch barrel-aged Imperial Stout with coffee
Prairie Artisan Ales – Double Dunk – Imperial Stout brewed with Oreo cookies
Saint Arnold Brewing Company – French Press – Imperial Coffee Porter
Sigma Brewing Company – Murry Fuggin Chrimmus – Imperial Porter aged in rye and rum barrels
Even though I had quite a few large, winter brews this month, I found myself enjoying Bishop’s Barrel 22 more and more than these big brews with every sip in a way that stood out to me. It’s one of those brews that I can enjoy a different nuance with each sip and then suddenly realize my glass is empty and I just want more.
BB22 is their Icon Gold Honey Saison, aged in Chardonnay barrels with peaches, apricots, and Brettanomyces. I will warn you now, if you don’t like Chardonnay avoid this one like the plague. If you like Chardonnay, welcome aboard! The aroma is of wine with an edge of fruit, it’s pleasant and inviting enough. The flavor follows the same, with sweet Chardonnay, oak, and mild notes of apricot and peach. The Brett is in the mix, but it doesn’t dominate, and adds a mild tartness that complements the dry feel. The overall effect is a very complex, balanced, and somehow easy drinking brew. This is another Bishop’s Barrel winner from ever-reliable Saint Arnold.
Casey Brewing & Blending (Glenwood Springs, CO) – Oak Theory
Peter has been singing the praises of Casey and after trying this beer, my first to try from Casey, I have to wholeheartedly agree. Oak Theory is one of the best sours in recent memory. The beer itself is a blend of batches of ale aged in neutral oak puncheons for 9-24 months. It is fermented with their proprietary yeast culture that definitely involves Brettanomyces of some sort. I’d love to know their entire secret yeast recipe. The resulting brew is a complex and assertive concoction I quickly fell in love with. There’s so much going on here with layers of funk, lemon, and oak washing over the tongue in waves. It’s pretty bracingly tart and with a very active feel. This is just great stuff that’s pretty hard to describe. Since each blend can be a little bit unique, Casey made sure their bottles are labeled with a bottling date. I wish I had a few batches to compare. If you’re a sour fan and trade beer, this is worth seeking out. I know I plan to make Casey a priority during my next trip to Colorado.
Southern Yankee Been Co (Houston, TX) – Shrubbery Kiniggit
I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! December was full of beer and cheer; I had a lot of great wintertime Christmas blends and the classic cold weather porters and stouts.
However, this month I decided to highlight a light beer that I’ve enjoyed the last two months but haven’t properly sung its praises. My December beer pick is Southern Yankees Shrubbery Kiniggit. Southern Yankee describes the brew as “A marriage of Blackberries & our house Belgian Wit”… you can check out the beer ingredients and profile on their page https://southernyankeebeer.com/our-beers/. I want to highlight the craftsmanship of the blackberry flavor. Southern Yankee describes the flavored pairing as a marriage. This is one marriage that should never see a divorce.
Too often do I find beers so heavily flavored the base beer is completely unrecognizable. Southern Yankees’ Shrubbery Kiniggit is truly a recognizable wit featuring a perfect balanced hint of Blackberry. In a city where cold weather is a rarity, this is a refreshing beer that can be appreciated whether it’s 50 degrees or 90 degrees outside.
Honorable Mentions: Southern Yankees Tiny Tim’s Tea Chai Brown Ale.
Tupps Brewery (McKinney, TX) – Full Grown Man Child, Stout.
Hey, are you a coffee drinker? Yes? You need to try Tupp’s Full Grown Man Child. It’s not in cans, so you have to go up to McKinney (North of Dallas) to try it. But a visit to Tupps is well worth your time, you will thank me later. In addition to Man Child, Tupps is making some delicious hazy IPAs.
Man Child is a much lower ABV beer than its bigger brother, Full Grown Man (FGM). It’s a very easy drinking stout with coffee, chocolate, and oats. This fits squarely in the breakfast stout category. It is just as dark as FGM, with a lighter tan head. While the coffee is heavy, the beer is not. If you are not a fan of stouts traditionally because you think they are heavy on the stomach, try this and you may be very surprised.
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