Craft Beer 101: Light Ales

This week we're back to going over some of the more common styles in the beer lexicon and this week we're starting, what I'm sure will be several weeks, on ales. There's a lot of confusion when people use the word Ale. About once a week someone asks me if I have any "ales on draft", which is a little like going to a wine bar and asking if I have any reds. Of course I do, I have dozens. Ales are an enormous family of beers, which like lagers, goes from light to dark, but have significantly more variance in flavor profiles. Ale yeast likes it warm, which means they're going to release more aromatic and flavorful compounds. The ones were going to to talk about today though are on the lighter side.

Blonde Ales

Without a doubt the most popular style at Deacon Baldy's, Blonde ales are light and ultra-approachable. They don't have a large hop or malt profile. Sometimes you see them with fruit or spices added, and sometimes even lager yeast... which is confusing when it's still called an ale. Looking to branch out from the normal American domestic light beers, this is the one you want to try,

  • Malt: Light Malt flavor like bread, toast, or biscuits
  • Hops: Low to medium hop flavors and aroma but it's becoming more common to dry hop this style.
  • ABV: 4.1-5.1%
  • Pair With: Spaghetti, Sugar Cookies, Pepper Jack Cheese

Kolsch

The Kolsch is a beer that hails from Cologne, and in fact, in Europe, in order to legally be called a Kolsch it has to be made within 50km of Cologne. The style was derived from the hefeweisen style but never quite got as popular. These beers can be subtly complex... if that's even a sentence that makes sense. They can have fruity, almost wine like flavors when made well, and drank fresh. They're dry, crisp, and great on a hot day.

  • Malt: Very low with a little sweetness
  • Hops: Low Noble Hops
  • ABV: 4.8-5.3%
  • Pair With: Bratwurst, Nutty Cheese, or double fist with a nice Reisling if you're feeling aggressive. 

Cream Ale

So this beer is kind of a hybrid between Lager and Ale. They spawned from American Light Beer but they're brewed like an Ale and can be finished with lager yeast. Heavily carbonated, very light, and refreshing. 

  • Malt: Low, will often have corn or rice added to lighten the body
  • Hops: Low to non-existent
  • ABV: 4.3-5.7%
  • Pair With: Salads, Oaxaca Cheese, Lemon Cream Pie

Hefeweisen

Hefeweisen came from southern Germany and have at least 50% wheat. Most of the flavor comes from the wheat and hefeweisen yeast which throws a lot of banana and clove flavor. There are several different styles of this beer in fact. If they're filtered, they're known as Krystal Weisse, darker they're known as Dunkels. Also, if you find yourself in a part of the country and can't seem to find one, look for Weissebier. Same style, the name just changes regionally. 

  • Malt: Wheaty with low malt profile and sweetness
  • Hops: Low to non-existent
  • ABV: 4.9-5.6%
  • Pair With: Seafood, Chevre, Key Lime Pie

Coming Next Week... Pale Ales and IPA's, where nobody has any hard opinions right? Right?

Summer Cocktails

We're taking a break from our Craft Beer 101 Series to discuss our Summer Cocktail list that will be dropping next week. Normally here there would be a nice paragraph of exposition leading into the cocktails, but we figure it's easier to just... not do that. Summer is hot. These drinks are refreshing and delicious. End of opening paragraph. TO THE DRINKS!

Negroni Training Wheels

The Negroni is a classic summertime cocktail but the potent bitterness of Campari can be off-putting to many people. The classic mix is Gin, Sweet Vermouth, and Campari in equal parts. We've stripped out some of the more harsh ingredients of the Negroni and substituted them with some things we think you'll love. Instead of the Campari we sub in the brighter and less bitter Aperol. In the place of Sweet Vermouth we use a fortified Rose called Cocchi Rosa. We mix those with Hendricks Gin and serve it over ice with an orange twist. It's bright, refreshing, a little bitter, and absolutely incredible. 

Spicy Paloma

What if I told you that the Margarita wasn't the most popular cocktail in Mexico? While the Margarita is a classic, and I think that we have a great one, the king of the cocktails in Mexico is the Paloma. The Paloma in Mexico is simply Tequila, Lime Juice, and Grapefruit Soda (Squirt). It's awesome. We do it a little differently with fresh grapefruit juice and fresh jalapenos to add a little kick.

Mai Tai

The Mai Tai is a classic. Created at Trader Vic's in the Tiki-crazed 50's. We'll be going for as close to authentic as possible. Two types of Rum, Gran Marnier, Lime Juice, and Orgeat. If you aren't familiar with Orgeat, it's a sweetened almond syrup that is the cornerstone of many tiki drinks. Our Orgeat uses organic almonds and sugar.

The Mint Julep

Born from hot summers and huge blocks of ice shipped down from up north and stored in storerooms, the Mint Julep is a cornerstone of summer cocktails. Bourbon, Mint, Sugar, Ice. When in doubt, keep it simple stupid. Which helps because we aren't always the brightest bulbs in the cookie jar. 

Pineapple Mojito

This one is admittedly not our most inventive work. We don't care; It's delicious. We use Cana Brava Rum, Lime Juice, Mint, Simple Syrup, and Fresh Pineaple Puree to make a drink literally anyone could love. Unless you don't like pineapple... which could create a problem. 

Sangria

We like our Spring Sangria so much we're keeping it on for the Summer. We make it in house from Grenache wine, and a bunch of stuff I'm not telling you. 

Craft Beer 101: The Dark Side of Lagers

We're in week 4 of our Craft Beer 101 series and this week we're covering Dark Lagers. We're just going to give a snapshot of some of the more iconic styles of the category. Again, this list is in no way comprehensive, just a good starting point

American Amber Lager

Amber Lagers are characterized by their balance between hops and malt. These beers tend to be a middle ground in every way. Roasty but not dark, refreshing but a little more body, hops presence but not "hoppy". Thought some are starting to lean that way. 

  • Malt: Low to medium-low caramel-type or toasted malt aromas are often present
  • Hops: Hop flavor and aroma are very low to medium-high. 
  • ABV: 4.8%-5.4%
  • Pair With: Grilled Meats/veggies, fruit desserts
American Amber Lager.jpg

Marzen/Oktoberfest

The Marzen style is a toast, malty heavy style with a light hop bitterness. Made famous for also being called "Okcoberfest" style, it's one of the most famous styles of dark lager in the world. The word Marzen actually means "March" in German as this beer has been traditionally brewed in March due to a very old German beer law outlawing brewing from April to September. The beer would be store over the spring and summer and consumed in late summer/early fall. 

  • Malt: Heavy, toasty malt goodness
  • low to medium hop bitterness and aroma
  • ABV: 5.1%-6%
  • Pair With: Kielbasa, Jalapeno Jack, Pizza (Seriously)

Dunkel

German style Dunkels, AKA Munich Dunkels, are a more balanced beer than the Oktoberfest with some darker, chocolate like malt with a biscuit like aroma. They are less sweet than they are balanced between the malt characteristics with a light hop bitterness. 

  • Malt: Malt aroma is low to medium, with chocolate-like, roasted malt, bread-like or biscuit-like notes
  • Hops: little to no hop aroma and flavor but a light hop bitterness
  • ABV: 4.8%-5.3%
  • Pair With: Sausages, Munster Cheese, Candied Ginger

Bock

Bock's are tricky thing in Texas, most of us have all had a Shiner Bock or a Ziegenbock, but the issue is, that those aren't actually Bock's at all, it's technically a "Dark American Lager" as it doesn't meet the guidelines to be a bock. If you want a real bock however, there are plenty to choose from. Bock's have a toasty, malty sweetness with very little hops and a fairly high ABV. 

  • Malt: High malt character with aromas of toasted or nut-like malt
  • Hops: Hop flavor nd aroma are low but can have some hop bitterness.
  • ABV: 6.3%-7.5%
  • Pair With: Steak, Chocolate, Aged Swiss

Some good Dark Lagers styles that aren't listed are Schwarzbier, Vienna Style Lagers, Dopplebocks, and Dortmunder (if you can find them). Try out some of the ones listed or seek out some new ones. Next week, we'll be taking a break from Beer 101 to talk about Deacon Baldy's Summer Cocktail List. 

Craft Beer 101: Ales Vs Lagers

 

 

Every so often, someone comes to the bar and says something like "Give me an ale" If you have done this, and I made a strange face, I meant no offense, it's just a really, really broad question. It's akin to walking into a nursery and saying, "I'll have one tree please". It's not a particularly helpful sentence. So what exactly is an ale? For that matter, what's a lager? Let's discuss.

Ale's: A History

Ale's came about most likely by accident. When you think about what beer actually is, a grain stew that has been strained and fermented, it's most likely that no one invented beer so much as it was a natural byproduct of leftovers. Boil some grains, it ferments, and beer. Beer caught on because before sanitation beer was simply safer than water. That old adage that "In Wine there's wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria." holds a lot of weight when you consider that no one knew 500 years ago much less 7000 knew what bacteria was or what caused illness. They did know however that people who drank more beer got sick less, so beer became a mainstay of the diet. Add in some time, new ingredients, and in a few millennia you have the craft beer industry.

What is an Ale?

The difference between Ale's and Lager's is actually pretty simple. The difference is yeast. Ale's are a top fermenting yeast which are uncreatively named so because they ferment on the top of the liquid. Let me know if you need me to slow down. 

Ale yeast likes it warm, around 75 degrees in fact, which is why they came about first. You can make a decent ale in a closet in your house. The yeast rises to the top and create more dense, pillow-y bubbles, or head. (giggle). 

 

Ale yeast coupled with the warmer brewing temperature creates more robust and diverse flavors. Ales tend to be more flavorful, fuller bodied (like myself), and more adaptable. 

 

Lagers: A History

The way I hear it, back in the Middle Ages, some German brewers discovered that after storing their ales in the cold, they noticed that it continued to ferment, but changed the flavor to being more crisp and refreshing. Lager in German roughly translates to "Warehouse". They're called this because lagers take considerably more time to brew than Ales. They would be brewed in the fall, covered in ice, and then drank in the spring. 

What is a Lager?

Lagers utilize bottom fermenting yeast for their goodness. The cold brewing process slows the rates with which the yeast do their thing which means that Lagers take considerably longer to make than ales. This process is shockingly called "lagering". The head on lagers tends to have larger bubbles and don't last as long.

See! Light and Refreshing. 

See! Light and Refreshing. 

Lagers, much like the German people, are crisp, bright, and refreshing (see image). They're light in body and best enjoyed when it's warm outside, which luckily for us in Houston is always. Lagers are the best selling style, broadly speaking, in the world, largely because Bud Light and it's ilk are lagers, but don't hold that against them. 

 

Next week we'll dive a little deeper into Lagers and talk about all the types. Please hold your excitement. 

 

 

Craft Beer 101: A History of Craft Beer

A Brief History on Beer

Beer is at least 7,000 years old, which totally makes sense if you think about what it actually is. Beer is really just a grain stew that's fermented with yeast... which when you put it that way makes it way more appetizing. Beer wasn't "invented" so much as it was an inevitability. Like Ross and Rachel ending up together in Friends. At some point however people started making it on purpose and playing around with what's in it. We know that beer was being made commercially by at least 2050 BC because of, what might be the coolest piece of history ever, the "Alulu Beer Reciept". Eventually regions adopted their own styles, developed new ones, and beer evolved into an industrial mainstay all over the world. Even in the US beer was a huge part of the local economy. in the late 19th century there were something like 4,000 breweries in the United States. Then prohibition happened and when the dust settles, the only ones left were the giants who had consolidated and could weather the storm. From there everything stayed pretty much the same for about 40 years. 

The Birth of the Craft Beer... Thing

If you went back in time to 1977 the beer aisle would look vastly different. Gone would be the hundreds of brewery options and the huge amounts of imports. There would be no ultra boozy stouts, no Farmhouse Ales, and, I shudder to think about it, no IPA's. You would see some imports, the ones that have been around forever, and you would see miles of huge brewery made light pilsners. Bud, Miller, Coors, Schlitz, Pabst... so hipster beer basically. If you were really lucky, and lived close to one of them, you might have gotten lucky enough to get some Anchor or one of the old guard in craft beer. 

That all changed in 1978 when President Gerald Ford passed a law allowing home brewing. Up until then it had been illegal to brew anything over something like 1% alcohol. From that point, things began to change. Breweries like Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada came up and started making things that just weren't seen from commercial breweries. Pale Ales, stouts, honest to God German style Pilsners, and more started popping up in markets across the country. Sierra Nevada created their Pale Ale, a beer which is the Grandfather of any IPA or American Pale ale you've ever had. In Texas Celis started making Belgian Style beers. And in Louisiana, Abita got to work trying to figure out which beer goes best with Crawfish. 

As more and more people learned to brew, the more people drank, the more people drank, the more breweries opened up. in just 40 short years the United States went from fewer than 50 breweries in 1978 to over 6,000 now.

So What is Craft Beer?

 According to the Craft Brewers Association, craft breweries are small, independent, and traditional breweries. Each of those words means something specific though. Small means they must brew a maximum of six million barrels of beer a year, though in the last few years it would be more accurate to say that you can't make more beer than Samuel Adams, who just happens to make around 6 million barrels a year. Independent means that less than 25% of the brewery is owned or controlled by another Alcoholic Beverage company that is itself not craft. And Traditional means that the beer they make is brewed with traditional styles or means. 

Want to get into craft beer but don't know what you'll like? No problem, go to a brewery! Here in the Conroe area we have several and they'd love to have you by for a taste. 

Next week we'll get into what the difference between Ales and Lagers is. Spoilers: It's Yeast.

Live Music is Finally Here

90%  of our phone calls are made up of only three questions:

  1. Do we allow dogs? (Yes)
  2. Is there Crawfish there today (Only on the Weekends) and
  3. Do we have live music? 

The answer for the last one has been a combination of "Unfortunately No" and some form of "We're working on it" for quite some time. Well the answer to that question is now "Hell Yes".

Start looking for live performances by talented local areal musician on the weekends here at Deacon Baldy's in Magnolia and North Houston. Have someone you just have to see? Let us know and we'll try to bring them out. 

This Saturday we're welcoming our guest, Sammy Hundley from 8-11PM. See you then!