Thursday, October 8, 2015

From Shiner, something Wicked this way comes

Image credit: Spoetzl Brewery.

I'm always curious to find out what's in a certain little white box that shows up on my doorstep every now and again. It's always the same size and shape, and it always has a Shiner stamp of approval somewhere on the outside. The curiosity is natural, I suppose, since I know there's some sort of beer inside, but given the brewery's history and how they've taken a few steps outside the "bocks" over the past few years, lately when I see the package I start to ask myself, "What have they gone and done this time?"

In this case, at least, it turns out that the "little brewery" has gone and done something wicked. It's a new year-round offering called Wicked Ram IPA, and it's the first India pale ale Shiner has brewed in its 106-year history.

Wicked Ram arrived at my door packaged in box full
of hop cones (click to enlarge, © Brian Brown/Beer In Big D)

Now, first off, I think it's important to note that "wicked" is a relative term. Remember, Shiner has focused on lagers for most of its 106 years, and only over the past few has the brewery tried to do some things differently. Even then, Wicked Ram represents a departure compared to other recent releases, in that it's probably the first relatively hop-forward beer in Shiner's portfolio and it's got the highest ABV (6.0%) of any beer the brewery is currently producing.

What I'm getting at here is that Wicked Ram probably isn't going to have you putting aside your favorite West Coast IPA. Shiner's IPA may be hop-forward, but there's nothing tongue-buckling about it in terms of either the overall intensity or bitterness. The hop character in Wicked Ram is mild-to-moderate (at best), with the hop additions geared towards flavor and aroma much more so than bitterness. As far as the flavors go, Wicked Ram is grassy and floral on the nose, with a bready feel and a touch of caramel malt forming the beer's foundation. There's also some citrus in the finish, though it's more lightly lemony in nature and not like the orange or grapefruit notes that are typical in many American IPAs.

Something else worth mentioning, in case the thought crossed your mind, is that Wicked Ram doesn't really fit the mold of a session IPA. For one thing, the beer's ABV puts it firmly outside the sessionable range. Beyond that, though, Wicked Ram just has more body than I've come to expect from that particular (made-up) craft beer category. In fact, I would argue it has more body than a lot of Shiner beers. That said, we're talking "medium" in that respect, as opposed to something lighter.

So, what's the verdict? I'd say the above more or less speaks for itself. Wicked Ram is an easy-drinking, milder version of an IPA. There's not a lot of bitterness to it, which may appeal to someone looking for an introduction to the style, but there is a reasonable amount of flavor. It's just that it's a little atypical in being florally-based and not having the citrus or pine elements more often associated with today's most popular IPAs. Some will enjoy it...others won't. Like anything else, it all comes down to personal taste.

Wicked Ram
Style: India Pale Ale
Malts: 2-Row Pale, Caramel, Wheat
Hops: Bravo and Crystal in the boil, with Centennial used for dry-hopping.
ABV: 6.0%
IBU: 55
Availability: Year-round in 12-ounce bottles and cans, as well as in 24-ounce bottles and on tap.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Bird Café to host The Avery Experience

Image credit: Bird Café.

You may or may not remember, but back in 2011 the Meddlesome Moth put on The Avery Experience, a five-course dinner led by Adam Avery himself. Well, here we are four years later and it seems that the Moth's sister restaurant in Fort Worth is looking to do that event one better.

Coming up Wednesday, November 11 at 6:30 p.m., Bird Café will host a new incarnation of The Avery Experience, once again led by Avery, but this time with an even more impressive lineup of rare brews paired with courses crafted by Chef David McMillan. Cost is set at $85 per person, an amount which includes tax and gratuity. For more information or to make reservations, visit or call 817-332-2471.

Meet the Brewer

Liliko'i Kepolo (Belgian witbier with passion fruit and spices added - 5.6% ABV).

First Course

Insula Multos Collibus (sour ale aged in bourbon barrels with cherries added - 9.7% ABV).

Roast antelope toast, fig preserves, Boursin and onion pickle on Boston brown bread.

Second Course

Fortuna (sour ale aged in tequila barrels with lime zest and salt added - 8.1% ABV).

Hamachi crudo, yuzi ice, bourbon barrel soy, charred shishito and taro chips.

Third Course

Tectum et Elix (sour ale aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels - 6.5% ABV) and
Raspberry Sour (sour ale aged in oak barrels with raspberries added - 5.5% ABV).

Savory latte de goat cheese, beet and raspberry panna cotta and Thai basil.

Fourth Course

Tweak (stout aged in bourbon barrels with coffee added - 17.81% ABV) and
The Beast (grand cru - 15% ABV).

Whole roasted and carved smoked bacon slab, anadama pain perdue and warm "A" Vermont maple syrup.

Fifth Course

Rumpkin (ale brewed with pumpkin and spices aged in rum barrels - 16.73% ABV) and
Pump[Ky]n (porter brewed with pumpkin and spices aged in bourbon barrels - 17.22% ABV).

Malted pavlova, milk chocolate mousse, anglaise, pumpkin juice caramel and toasted pumpkin seed brittle and oil.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Ways North Texans can raise a pint in the fight against breast cancer

Image credits: Dallas Brew Scene/Uber, Susan G. Komen/Shannon Brewing Co.,
Oak Highlands Brewing Co., 903 Brewers (click to enlarge).

If you've seen the pink ribbons around town or on social media, or if you noticed the show of pink by the players during NFL games this past weekend, you know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month all across the country. Should you be looking for a way to help, the North Texas craft beer community is doing its part to help raise funds and awareness for this disease in the following ways:

Shannon Brewing Company - First Annual Susan G. Komen Happy Hour

Fresh off celebrating the brewery's first anniversary, Keller's Shannon Brewing Company will host its First Annual Susan G. Komen Happy Hour on Friday, October 9 from 4 to 9 p.m. Stop in for a pint of fire-brewed Irish ale and pick up one of the pink Shannon koozies the brewery will be selling all month long in an effort to raise funds for the cure.

Donate directly: Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Oak Highlands Brewery goes pink for Oktoberfest

Oak Highlands Brewery in Dallas will hold its inaugural Oktoberfest celebration on Saturday, October 10 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. In conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Oak Highlands will donate 10% of the sales from its seasonal Oktoberfest beer, as well as 10% of ticket sales to their Oktoberfest event to the North Texas Bridge Breast Network. Tickets are $20 online, or $25 at the door, with attendees receiving tokens for three beers and a commemorative Oktoberfest pint glass.


Donate directly: North Texas Bridge Breast Network

Dallas Brew Bus / Uber - Brew Crawl for Breast Cancer

The Dallas Brew Bus has teamed up with Uber to take riders on a trip to visit five local breweries on Saturday, October 17 from 12 to 5 p.m., with 100% of the net proceeds going to Bradie James' Foundation 56. Your ticket price of $50 gets you a pink brew crawl t-shirt, a branded sample glass and four 4-ounce samples at the following breweries: Community Beer Company, Deep Ellum Brewing Company, Four Corners Brewing Company, Noble Rey Brewing Company and Texas Ale Project.


Donate directly: Bradie James' Foundation 56

903 Brewers Blonde is now permanently pink

Hoping to inspire breast cancer awareness every day of the year, 903 Brewers in Sherman announced plans in July to offer the brewery's 903 Blonde Ale in year-round pink packaging. Now available at retail outlets around North Texas, a portion of the proceeds from each case sold goes to Women Rock, Inc.

Donate directly: Women Rock, Inc.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Twelve Beers to try at the 10th Annual Flying Saucer BeerFeast

Image credit: Flying Saucer Draught Emporium
Considering how the craft beer boom here in North Texas has been going on for only about four years, it may seem strange to think that BeerFeast is now in its tenth year at the Flying Saucer. Yet, in that time, what was once known as the Flying Saucer Fall Beer Festival in Fort Worth (the city where the first Flying Saucer was founded) has grown into one of the premier craft beer events in the South.

Nowadays, the BeerFeast experience is spread across the State of Texas with festivals happening in Sugar Land, Austin and Fort Worth. Regarding the latter, this year the North Texas stop on this craft beer tour is scheduled for October 10 in Sundance Square.

As in year's past, BeerFeast will feature some of the country's best craft beers, including upwards of 80 selections hand-picked from more than 50 breweries. A full beer list will be released closer to the event, but the Saucer has released a teaser list of a dozen brews expected to be tapped on the big day. The lineup includes (click the links attached to each beer to read full brewery descriptions):

Tickets for the Saucer's 10th Annual BeerFeast in Fort Worth are on sale now at the following link:

General admission is $35, which includes a BeerFeast glass and a tasting card good for twelve samples of festival beers. Advance-only VIP tickets are also available for $65, with the added benefits of early entry, a VIP commemorative taster glass, a food voucher and a 2015 BeerFeast T-shirt. In addition, VIP ticket holders will have access to a VIP-only line for rare beer tappings staged hourly throughout the day.