After two amazing beer nights in New Orleans, my traveling companion (Shana) and I decided to “take a break” from beer for a night of vino with the authors of Another Wine Blog in Houston, TX. Another Wine Blog is the brainchild of Amy and Joe, a husband-wife team dedicated to wine, food and home-brewing. They currently reside next to NASA right outside of Houston, TX — but something tells me that may change in the very near future (wine country or bust).
The night began at a fun little pub called Boondoggles. Poor Shana. Just when she thought she was finally getting an evening of wine — we ended up at a pub. The beer menu was decent (a mix of corporate, craft, local craft & German imports). The food menu was your classic fried pub fare and pizza goodness.
Prior to that night, I had never tasted a beer from Texas. Joe steered me towards Saint Arnold, a local Houston brewery. Naturally, I went with the IPA. The Saint Arnold IPA was relatively light in body (for an IPA) and it had a very mild sweet grass hop and hay aroma. The taste was clean with very low malt flavors and a mild hop bitterness. Overall, it reminded me more of a pale ale than an IPA — but it was good. It went very well with the spicy, fried appetizers we ordered as well as the “Tejas” pizza (chorizo, andouille sausage, onions, jalapenos, Texas goat cheese, romano and provolone cheese).
From there, we went to a wine bar for some vino and dessert. I also got an opportunity to play chess — which I got my ass kicked in by Joe. Nonetheless, my brain appreciated the stimulation.
The next morning, Amy took me and Shana to see some of the rockets at Nasa. I assume that at some point or another everyone dreams of being an astronaut — well, I did at least. Unfortunately, I never visited the Kennedy Space Center when I lived in Orlando, FL. Luckily, I got the opportunity to check out Rocket Park at NASA.
After the brief stop at NASA, Shana and I found ourselves back on the road headed towards Austin, TX. Lucky for us, this leg of the road trip was the shortest.
For some time now, I have been wanting to visit Austin. After all, it is a college town — young, hip, progressive and unique. And on top of that, it is also the “Live Music Capital of The World.”
Being the bacon and pork obsessed human that I have become in the past year, it was only natural that I visit my good twitter friend — the one, the only, the most infamous — BACONATOR. Luckily, he turned out to be of the non-serial killer type and was willing to put us up for 2 … errrr 3 … nights.
Unfortunately for me, but fortunate for Shana and Baconator, we only had one night of beer consumption in Austin. BUT OHhhh what a glorious night it was …
Prior to arriving in Austin, I had already setup a night of beer debauchery and fun with Chris Troutman from a local Austin beer blog called “Beer Town Austin.” And from there it spiraled into a super awesome Austin tweetup (aka organization of people who interact via twitter) involving local beer geeks drinking local beers in local beer bars and noshing on local food.
The first establishment we visited was The Draught House Pub & Brewery.
Much to my surprise and UTTER delight, The Draught House had New Belgium’s La Folie on tap. Now for those of your who live in states where New Belgium is distributed, this might not sound like a big deal. But, for me, it is. La Folie is New Belgium’s original wood-conditioned beer that rests in French Oak barrels between one and three years before being hand bottled, numbered and corked. It is deep crimson brown in color with a pungent apple cider vinegar and wild yeast aroma. The taste is smack you in the face, pucker-up the lips, destroy the sides of your cheeks sour. Think sour cherries and tart vinegar with a slight hint of old wet wood.
Starting off with La Folie definitely set the mood right. Austin food blogger Jenny Chen took the whole mood to another level when she showed up with two coolers full of boozy confections. In addition to authoring the blog “MisoHungry Makes It With Moonshine“, Jenny is also the local founder of the Cupcake Smack-down. In honor of our visit to Austin, she whipped up 3 out of this world recipes made with local Austin beer.
1. Drunken German Chocolate Cupcakes – 512 Cask Pecan Porter Cake filled with coconut, almonds, and Irish Cream topped with chocolate pecan praline liquor butter cream and a maple bourbon pecan
2. Drunken Lamingtons – twist on the traditional Lamingtons recipe adding beer (Shiner Bock for this particular batch) to the cake batter, and 512 Pecan Porter to the chocolate syrup.
3. Uncle Billy’s Coffee Porter Cupcakes – Uncle Billy’s Coffee Porter Chocolate cake filled with kahlua and nutella, topped with a Irish Cream Cream Cheese frosting and cocoa roasted almond.
The boys from Beer Town Austin also met us up at The Draught House. They organized a tasting of all the Texas beers on tap with the owner and brewmaster. Chris and I filmed our tasting and the footage will be released in the near future after it is edited. We tasted several beers and, instead of listing them now, I will wait to reveal them when the video is ready.
The highlight of the entire Texas beer tasting was The Draught House’s very own Jakima Saison. This was one of the most cloudy beers that I have ever seen. And the color was a really unique bright orange. Normally, the saison style has an aroma of Belgian yeast and a bit of barnyard funk. The Jakima Saison aroma was pure hops — and Simcoe was definitely on the nose (this was later confirmed). It was definitely the most interesting saison-style beer that I have ever tasted — everything about it was crazy (color, aroma & taste). BUT regardless of its weirdness, it was damn tasty.
The next stop of the night was Uncle Billy’s Brew & Que. Almost immediately after arriving, the GM Ryan took a few of us on a tour of Uncle Billy’s brewing facility. I captured the tour on video and the footage will be released after minor edits. Following the brewery tour, we were given a few sample flights of Uncle Billy’s beer. Ryan led us through an official tasting of each beer — which was also captured in soon-to-be-released video footage.
My favorite Uncle Billy’s beer was definitely the Double IPA. SHOCKING, I know. It has a nice balance of malt and hops — with the 3 C’s being the main hops used.
The beer tasting was followed by more of MisoHungry’s amazing cupcakes as well as a burger run.
Unfortunately for the sake of the blog, the Texas beer experience ended here. The remainder of time spent in Austin involved a few cocktails, lots of wine, BBQ, ice cream, endless amounts of hot sauce, amazing food and a crazy night of rock band.
Stay tuned for more information on my cross country road trip!!! Next stop — Los Angeles, California.