January 30, 2014

Beer Spotlight: Vino's Pulaski Pilsner

OK, let's start at the basics. Pilsner (also pilsener or simply pils) is a type of pale lager. It took its name from the city of Pilsen (Plzeň, Bohemia, Czech Republic, where it was first produced in 1842). In my opinion it's a delicious style of beer that doesn't get the respect they deserve. Personally I love them more so during the hot Arkansas summer months, but drink them year-round. It seems lately in this world of big imperial IPAs and super-hopped this-and-thats it's a style that's definitely becoming harder to find. A few of my favorites include Victory Prima Pils, Boulevard KC Pils, Marshall Old Pavillion, Oskar Blues Mama's Little Yella Pils and North Coast Scrimshaw Pils.

Locally a new one made it's way into the market in the last few weeks, and that's Vino's Brewpub's Pulaski Pilsner, a flavorful, golden-yellow, refreshing beer thats a nice representation of the style. I talked to Vino's head brewer for the last 3 years, Josiah Moody, about the beer and thought I'd share some insight. Obviously, this interview is much more enjoyable over a pilsner too, so pour one up and read on.

ArkBeerScene (ABS): So what made you decide to make a pilsner?

Josiah: It's the wrong time of year really as we're sitting here in January of an especially cold Winter this year. It's just that I had been brewing stouts, porters, a swartzbier, which is a dark lager, and an imperial dark IPA. So all of these dark beers and I just said "let's do something classic and refreshing" which is really why a pilsner came out in sort of a weird time of the year. I usually keep that to the Summer.

ABS: Really there aren't a lot of pilsners coming out at all lately.

Josiah: Ya know pilsners are also harder to do, to do true pilsner styles. They require more time to ferment, you can't turn it out as quick, but you're still producing a session beer. So in a lot of ways it doesn't make the most economic sense to do... same price as ales but take twice as long to make. You could make blonde ales or American wheats much faster and they have similar light notes. They won't have the crispness though, a trademark of the pils. And again, as simple as they are, I think they're hard to pull off. It shows your technique in making a clean beer, there's no way to cover mistakes up say with caramel malts or something.

ABS: So was this a new recipe or were you tweaking on some older one? Did you have some other pils in mind as you were coming up with this?

Josiah: I slightly tweaked an older Vino's recipe. Sure though, their style isn't open to loads of interpretation. Pilsner Urquell is the gold standard. I am an unabashed hop head, I just love it, and that's one of the fun things about a good pils, fun to brew, is that you can actually make it really hoppy. You are limited to the style of hop you want to use, that being noble hops, I used Hallertau, so you can still make it hoppy but in a very "European" way, very different than the American pungent hops. They're more refined, earthy and grassy. It's a fun way to slide in that hop fix I have to have.

ABS: OK, let's say it's Super Bowl Sunday and you're not drinking your pilsner, what are the top pilsners you'd have in the fridge?

Josiah: Well, the Reverb Imperial Pilsner from Boulevard, the KC Pils from Boulevard is delicious. Pilsner Urquell is certainly there, I mean how do you overlook that? Hmmm. Man there are not just loads of pilsners to choose from. North Coast Scrimshaw is another great one.

ABS: Last question I have for you, are you going to be making this one again soon as the temps warm up?

Josiah: Oh yea, well I don't have a time frame, I've made myself 5 new brews that I want to do before it gets too crazy in the Summer, but I still want to do the pils again before the Summer.

Vino's Pulaski Pilsner 

IBU: 37.1
ABV: 5.39%
Malts: Pilsner malts, Vienna for body
Hops: Noble Hops (Hallertau)
Gravity: 1054



Stones Throw Debuts 2 New Beers

One thing I really like about local brewery and self-professed Taproom Trailblazers Stone's Throw is that they're not shy about putting out new beers. Almost every weekend when I visit there is something different on the wall and they often have as many as 7 of their own brews out of the 8 tap handles now. It's an ever-changing taste bonanza.

So today they posted that they had a couple of new ones set to flow this weekend:
So direct from their website, here's a bit more about these 2 new brews set to debut this weekend:

Waterloo Witbier 

Witbier is a 400-year-old Belgian style wheat ale. The grist is simple: typically 50% raw wheat and 50% pilsner malt give it a very pale straw color; almost white in appearance. Some spices, such as coriander and curacao add to the complexity. The Belgian yeast layer in a peppery spice flavor that blends well with the pleasant sweetness of this wheat based ale. Waterloo is a refreshing Belgian ale, perfect for celebrating a French defeat. 

Leonhard Euler Oktoberfest 

Who says Oktoberfest is a seasonal style? Leonhard Euler (pronounced ‘oiler’) is a medium-bodied German lager with a malty sweetness craved year-round. A “natural base” of many base malts give this lager a forceful malty backbone that is complex and delicious. A clean bitterness comes from the finest Noble hops. Unlike its namesake, there is nothing irrational about the exponential delight you will receive from this beer. 

So there you go, a Witbier and an Oktoberfest. They've recently had an imperial Oktoberfest called Big Damn Horn-O-Plenty that I really enjoyed so if that's any indication, I'm definitely looking forward to trying some pints of the "Leonhard Euler." If I'm not mistaken, this is the first Witbier I've seen show up there so that should be pretty interesting too.  As usual, this will keep a wide variety of styles on tap for them so there's something for everybody. Well, except maybe mass-produced light lager lovers.

So, see you there?

January 29, 2014

Next Week Is Summit Week In Central Arkansas

Not just a release day now, but there are some great events planned all next week for the Summit Brewing Company Launch. You can find a Summit-themed event every day except Monday, so make up your own for that day (it is pint night at the Flying Saucer though... hint, hint). 

Mark your calendars!

* Saturday, February 1st - the start of Stickyz Rock N' Roll Chicken Shack Beer of the Month with Sága IPA only $2.50 a pint ALL MONTH LONG! This is a usual feature for Stickyz and lately they've has some solid picks for BOTM, and it's damn tough to beat $2.50/pint anywhere. In warmer weather, their patio is just right too.

* Sunday, February 2nd - Summit Super Bowl Party at The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium with a different Fire Sale Beer each quarter of the game! I mean is there a better way to watch the game than getting to sample 5 of their new beers to the market, a pint at a time, a quarter at a time? For a good price? No I say.

1st Qtr: Horizon Red IPA
2nd Qtr: Great Norther Porter
3rd Qtr: Summit Oatmeal Stout
4th Qtr: Saga IPA
OT: Summit Extra Pale Ale

* Tuesday, February 4th - Summit Pint Glass Night at Old Chicago North Little Rock @ 6PM

* Wednesday, February 5th - Tap Takeover at Mellow Mushroom West Little Rock!

* Thursday, February 6th - Tap Takeover at Reno's Argenta Cafe!

* Friday, February 7th - Tap Takeover featuring FROST LINE RYE at BIG ORANGE :: Midtown ALL DAY LONG!

January 28, 2014

How To Pour A Can Of Guinness Draught

This is pretty fun. Guinness has always been one of my staples, like bread and water.

Guinness Master Brewer, Fergal Murray, shows how to pour a perfect Guinness from a can using our amazing widget technology.

"You've all enjoyed the crafted Guinness taste at pubs the world over. But now you can enjoy the great Guinness taste experience in your home, due to the unique widget technology. Each can of Draught Guinness contains a ball shaped widget. When the can is opened, the widget assists in creating the surge which brings the beer alive inside your can. When poured into a glass, that surge settles, to give you that creamy distinctive head of Draught Guinness."

Take a clean, dry, glass and a refrigerated can of Draught Guinness. Place the can on a flat surface. Then with care, crack open the can, releasing the freshness. And allow the widget to initiate and create that surge inside the can. Give it a little time, about 5 seconds.

Hold your glass at a 45 degree angle to the can, and begin pouring. Take your time and fill the glass smoothly. Straighten the glass, just as you near the top, to create that wonderful Guinness head. Place your glass on a flat surface and allow the surge to do its work.

When you're ready, take that freshly crafted pint and enjoy, and take pride in what you've created. Take that glass to your lips, and break through that creamy head, allowing enough velvety liquid to pass through and energise your taste buds. Notice the sweetness at the front of the tongue, the roasted flavours at the side, and that hint of bitterness that hits the back of the throat. This balance gives you a refreshing Guinness taste. A true Guinness experience.

Visit Ireland's no. 1 visitor attraction, the Guinness Storehouse: http://www.guinness-storehouse.com/ Facebook: http://facebook.com/Guinness

So What The Hell Is A Loup Garou?

I love beers with cool names and great stories, and Arnaudville, Lousiana's Bayou Teche Brewing does a great job at both. It's so cool how their names are always so regional and have such interesting links to the history of Cajuns and quite frankly I've learned a lot about their culture just from visiting with them and looking further into what some of their names mean.

Here's what they'll tell you about their Winter seasonal, Loup Garou, which should be popping up around central Arkansas this week (in pretty limited amounts apparently):

Available in December: Loup Garou - 8% ABV Belgian Stout aged in oak whiskey barrels. 

Loup Garou is the Cajun French phase for a werewolf and is also Bayou Teche Brewing’s limited edition, Belgian inspired Imperial Stout. Crafted with an insane amount of chocolate roasted Belgian malts, brown sugars and French hops, our stout is then aged on oak for several months. Loup Garou is just around 8% ABV and will be released in 22 oz. Belgian-style bottles and a very limited number of kegs. 

Style: Stout 
ABV= 7.5 
IBU= 50 
Malt: Pale, Chocolate, Caramel, Rye 
Aged on Oak with Licorice root 

Sounds so kick-ass.

Here's the page on Mythical Creatures Guide on the legend of a certain wolfman: http://www.mythicalcreaturesguide.com/page/Loup+Garou

"The Loup Garou (also can be known as rougarou) is a French legend of a human who changes into a wolf at his/her own will. The word 'loup' is a French word that means wolf and 'garou' is an old Frankish word similar to 'werewolf'. The legend says that when a person comes into contact with a loup garou and sheds the blood of the beast, the Loup Garou will then changed to its human form and reveal their secret. The victim then becomes a Loup Garou for one hundred and one days. If the victim speak of the encounter to anyone, they become a loup garou themselves. But if they remain quiet about it, they will return to their human form and continue on with their lives. In the legends, the loup garou is said to be someone the victim knows, such as a jealous former lover." 

So there you go, a Loup Garou is a Cajun werewolf. Also, I'm hoping it's a very tasty beer that I get my paws on soon.

January 27, 2014

I Love That Firkin Beer

Yes, another firkin coming up. You won't hear me complaining though as I think they're pretty fun and can get sort of creative sometimes, although I've also had my share of boring ones. That's the fun in it I guess. The one above from Diamond Bear definitely has me intrigued though.

So what is a firkin and what makes is special? Well if you don't want to click that handy link there from Examiner.com then I've paraphrased a bit below:

"A firkin, which is derived from the Middle Dutch word vierdekijn (meaning fourth), is actually a small barrel of beer that is one-fourth the size of a regular barrel of beer. As opposed to a standard beer barrel, which contains 117.34 liters or roughly 30.96 gallons, a firkin full of cask ale will contain a volume of 40.91 liters or 10.79 gallons. These volume sizes are provided in U.S.-based gallons.

The firkin is typically dedicated to housing Real Ale (i.e., cask-conditioned ale), or beer that has not been cold-filtered, pasteurized and carbonated by outside equipment. The ale beer that is housed inside the firkin is naturally carbonated by its resident yeast and its ingredients have not been processed in any way outside of simple fermentation by the yeast. In essence, firkin-contained Real Ale is comparable to the ale beers that were produced hundreds of years ago, before industrialization subjected them to processes that removed and/or killed the yeast, stripping the beer of many of its inherent vitamins (especially the B vitamins), minerals, and perhaps most importantly, taste."

So now you know! It's really just another way to enjoy some beer, like I need any excuse to get out and drink a few.

Here's a video from a recent Diamond Bear firkin tapping at Andina Cafe here in Little Rock. For the record, that's me standing over Bonz' shoulder at the :25 second mark, looking thirsty (and shockingly sober).

Super Summit Sunday at the Saucer

If you're looking for something to do in central Arkansas on Super Bowl Sunday besides just the usual game watching, the latest brewery to get distribution in Arkansas, Summit Brewing, will be having a launch party at the Flying Saucer in the River Market, downtown Little Rock.

There will be fire sale prices on a new beer released every quarter, plus OT, so you can be the first to get your taste buds wrapped around these without dropping all your Super Bowl winnings.

Check out the list:

1st Qtr: Horizon Red IPA
2nd Qtr: Great Norther Porter
3rd Qtr: Summit Oatmeal Stout
4th Qtr: Saga IPA
OT: Summit Extra Pale Ale

Summit Brewing is based in St. Paul, MN and their output lands them in the top 50 in the US size-wise. They've been around since 1986 and are cranking out over 100,000 barrels per year. They've racked up 8 medals at The Great American Beer Festival, including a silver this year for their True Brit IPA and a silver in 2012 for their Summit Pilsener.

They'll be a welcome addition to our already hoppin' beer scene. (see what I did there?)

Saddlebock Brewery 22oz. Bombers Now Available

Here's a new video from Saddlebock on their bombers being available now:

"Saddlebock Brewery in Northwest Arkansas is now distributing 22 oz. bombers filled with 9 different beers throughout Arkansas. Look for Saddlebock beer in a liquor store, pub or restaurant near you. Or stop by the brewery for a pint or a bomber or two. 

Available in the bombers are Lost Bridge, Java Stout, Helles, Bock, Arkansas Farmhouse Ale, IPA, Hefeweizen, Dirty Blonde and Chocolate Stout. Give us a call at the brewery at 479.419.9969 if you would like to see our finely crafted brews in your local establishments."