Christmas Guide For The Beer Lover

My family always says I'm the hardest person to buy gifts for which is ridiculous. A Specs gift card is all I need for happiness... which sounds concerning when you really think about it. Do you have someone in your life that loves beer and the like and you just don't know what to get them? I've got you covered. Below you'll find some gems that anyone that enjoys the pint.

For the Beer Lover

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This might be the best book out there to start diving deeper into beer. It's great for beginners and experts. Everyone knows how to drink beer, but few know how to really taste it with an understanding of the finer points of brewing, serving, and food pairing. Discover the ingredients and brewing methods that make each variety unique and learn to identify the scents, colors, flavors, and mouthfeel of all the major beer styles. Recommendations for more than 50 types of beer from around the world encourage you to expand your horizons. Uncap the secrets in every bottle of the world’s greatest drink! 

His/Hers Baldy's Glasses

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We're rolling out some limited Lady Baldy glasses for Christmas and when they're gone they're gone. $10 for the set and a something that we would definitely classify as a need and not a want.

Ukeg Growler

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Growlers are a great tool. You head over to your favorite brewery or growler fill station and fill up with 64 ounces of your favorite brew. The only problem is that once the beer goes into an unpressurized container it starts to go flat and it will only last a few days at most. With the Ukeg growler you pressurize it with a CO2 cartridge and you can hold your precious brew for much longer. They're expensive but if you love growlers then it's a must have. You can also save a good amount of money by just getting a standard growler at your favorite fill station.

Teku Glass

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This is the ultimate beer glass. The Teku was designed to accentuate the flavor and aroma of beer to maximize your experience. No glass collection is complete without one.

Beer

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The Best Gift my wife ever got me was going to a great bottle shop and picking out a few bottles of hard to find beers for my collection. If you really love your spouse, buy them beer.

What We're Drinking Right Now

We periodically like to pretend that you guys care what we're drinking. So here we go.

Kevin

The Bitter Old Kevin - Most of the time I spend at the bar is also during office hours so I try to stick to Non-Alcoholic stuff. It doesn't really have a name so they started calling it the Bitter Old Kevin, presumably after my sunny disposition. It's Diet Coke with Angostura Bitters and Lime. If it sounds like something your Grandpa would drink, it's because I have the lifestyle habits of your Grandpa. 

Harry

Wisconsin Old Fashioned and Pumpkinator (not together) - My wife and I might be most of the reason that we did a post on the Wisconsin Old Fashioned. If you haven't tried one you need to. Whiskey, Sour is the how I do it, but lately I've been leaning towards Pumpkinator. I don't normally go after the Pumpkin-y beers but with the cooler weather it's what I find in my glass more often than not. 

Joey

Hazy IPA's and Daiquiri's - When I'm at the bar I usually mix it up a lot but lately I've been joining the cool kids on the Hazy IPA bandwagon. B-52 Wheez the Juice and Ze Hazy, and Copperhead Citraddicted tend to be the one most common. At home I've basically been mainlining daiquiri's because I bought WAY too many limes and a handle of good rum last week. Here's how I make mine: 2 oz of a nice aged rum, 1 oz of Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, and .75 oz lime juice. Shake and serve up. Maybe don't drink more than 2 in a night; these aren't your usual frozen nonsense, these are drinks that would make Hemingway proud. 

The Wisconsin Old Fashioned

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I'm a big fan of the Old Fashioned. I make them at home all the time, we always have them at the bar and like to play around with different variations; so I was thrilled when my friend Ashlie asked me to make her one at her house. So I get out the Bourbon (because there was no rye), put in a couple shakes of bitters, add some simple syrup, twist of orange, etc. And as I'm finishing the drink I look up and she has a look of absolute disgust on her face. I believe her actual response was, "What in the hell is that?"

As it turns out, in Wisconsin, the Old Fashioned is it's own thing. About 10 years ago or so when craft cocktails really started to catch on, people got really, really militant with the Old Fashioned, myself included. Wisconsin though has their own thing going and truth be told, it deserves some recognition. 

The Wisconsin Old Fashioned goes like this: You muddle a sugar cube with a slice of orange and a cherry. Normally we call this "heresy". When you have a nice sugar/fruit sludge going you add a few dashes of aromatic bitters and fill with ice. The base of this drink is either Blended Whiskey or Brandy. Not really nice brandy though, don't whip out some XO Cognac or anything crazy. Truth be told I use Korbel. Finish the drink by topping it with "Sweet OR Sour". My friends from Wisconsin insist this means Sprite or Squirt. Take a moment if you need.

This drink goes against tradition, God, and nature. That being said, if someone from Wisconsin tells you that a drink is good, you should listen. It's absolutely delicious, but I'll never admit that to Ashlie. This November we'll be offering a Wisconsin Old Fashioned with Whiskey or Brandy, Sweet or Sour. I don't think you'll regret it. Unless you do, in which case blame Wisconsin. 

A Big Thanks To All of You

Two years ago Deacon Baldy's was just an idea. A combination of wanting to create a place where our family and friends can come and enjoy each other's company without destroying someone's home (There are a lot of kids), wanting to build a place that honored the late Deacon Baldy, and some old friend's who had always wanted to open a bar.

I don't think any of us had any idea what this dream would become, and we certainly had no idea what we were doing when we started, which is of course always a good idea when starting a small business. Slowly things started to come together, evolve, and shape what would be this place would become. We opened one year ago to mass chaos. It was a blast. We've had hiccups, meltdowns, and we made more than our share of mistakes along the way, but before we knew it we'd been open a year. 

When people ask me why Deacon Baldy's works I tell them it isn't the 40 taps, the cocktails, the Food Trucks, or even the fact there was a massive hole in the market for something like this, it's our customers, our community. We have what might be the most random collection of regulars of any bar I've ever seen. Families with young children, retirees, young professionals, biker clubs, teachers, and a surprising amount of clergy. We almost never have problems with out customers or people causing a stir. Almost everyone is happy to come and drink with their friends while other people's kids (or mine) run around. I've met so many people from all over the world and it's been the best year of my life doing it. 

Making it one year in this industry is no small accomplishment, and while I'd be lying if I said we aren't proud of what we built, the job we've done, and of course our incredible staff, none of it would be possible without all of you. So from the bottom of our hearts thank you for making our little patio bar a part of your life. It means the world to us. 

With Love and Beer,

Deacon Baldy's

New Fall Cocktails

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With Fall here it's time to change up our cocktail menu again and like the last few season's we're trying to bring you a few that you've seen before, a couple that you haven't, and maybe one or two twists on the classics. This fall we're focusing on brown liquid and now that we think about it, a lot of ginger, to make the most of the nice weather. We're keeping the margarita of course and the Juice is too nostalgic to ever take off, but the rest will be all new. These will be dropping next week by the way...

Apple Pie Old Fashioned

We love a good Old Fashioned but every now and again it's good to throw it for a loop and try a new take. We stripped it down and we're making this one with Applejack (similar to Apple Brandy), Maple Syrup, and Barrel Aged Bitters.

Fall Sangria

We're still using our traditional Spanish base wine, Grenache, but everything else is different. We're upping some spices, taking out some things, adding some others, and garnishing it with cinnamon, cranberries, and an orange peel. This will be a great one to sip all season until we figure out what the heck a winter sangria looks like. 

The Czech Whiskey Sour

We take a traditional whiskey sour of Bourbon, lemon, and simple syrup and we spike it with an addition of Jelinek Fernet, a check Fernet (that tastes nothing like it's angry cousin Fernet Branca), and shake it with some egg white for added body. If you haven't had an egg white in a whiskey sour you just haven't had it the way it's supposed to be had. Trust us, it's not gross. 

Pear & Elderflower Colins

This, I'm certain, will be our most popular Fall offering. We make an ultra refreshing collins with Vodka, St. Germain, Pear Liqueur, Pear Puree, Honey Ginger Syrup, and some soda. The whole thing is very light and delicate and since it comes by the pint, you won't HAVE to rush back and forth to get more, but you will. 

The Yes-Man

The Yes-Man started as a basic stonewall and quickly spiraled out of control into something completely different. We take our Applejack and mix it with Dry Apple Cider and Ginger Beer for a simple, no frills, classic

The Spiced Dark & Stormy

We've wanted to do a Dark & Stormy for a while but we wanted to do something fun with it so we took a page our of Jeffrey Morgenthler's book and we made our own House Spiced Rum. We spice the rum in house and mix it with Gosling Ginger beer because if you don't Gosling will sue you. Seriously, they own the name Dark & Stormy. 

Manhattan

One of the giants of the cocktail world, the Manhattan is Bourbon, Sweet Vermouth, Angotura Bitters, and a Cherry served up. Some things just shouldn't be messed with.

Penicillin (See Image above)

Definitely our most aggressive cocktail on the list, I won't say this is going to cure your cold... but it won't not cure your cold. The Penicillin is built on a base of Monkey Shoulder blended Scotch with Lemon, House Made Honey Ginger Syrup, and has a floater of Smoaky Islay Scotch. 

Confession: I Hate Making Martinis

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The Martini is is not only a classic it's iconic. It is delicate and assertive, simple but elegant. It's also by far my least favorite thing to make when I am behind the bar. Do not misunderstand, I love a good martini when I'm at home or if I'm ordering it at a place I'm confident can make one, but all that love and admiration goes out the window when someone orders a Martini from me. But why? Simply speaking? Everyone likes theirs differently.

There are hundreds of ways to make a martini, and frankly, many people haven't got the faintest idea what they want when they say Martini. Let's go through some words that you can use when ordering a martini: vodka, gin, wet, dry, dirty, bone dry, sweet, with olives, with lemon, with onion (Techically a Gibson), up, rocks, perfect, burnt, shaken, stirred, and the list goes on. Every one of those words changes the drink. So, what is a Martini?

The Spirit

The substitution of Vodka for Gin is common and it's still a martini, any other spirit though and you're just making a different drink. London Dry Gin is typical but with so many different types of Gins on the market today you should play the field. My favorite is Death's Door. If you're using Vodka, buy whatever you like, it's basically all the same anyways. If I had to suggest one, I recommend Aylesbury Duck.

Vermouth

This is the part where I tend to ruffle some feathers. Martini's have vermouth. If you order a Vodka Martini with no Vermouth, you're just drinking cold Vodka, not there is anything wrong with that. The Addition of Vermouth is critical to making the drink what it is. Now I don't begrudge people who shy away from Vermouth; for a long time there weren't any Vermouths worth buying. But with the cocktail resurgence there are a bevy of good options. Here are three to look out for: Vya, Noilly Prat, and Dolin. Some of these you can find at a well stocked grocery store.

Vermouth is a fortified and aromatized wine. Basically: wine spiked with brandy, infused with herbs and spices, and sweetened. There are two types: dry and sweet. For the Martini we'll be using dry, or white vermouth. I recommend starting with a 5:1 ratio of Spirit to Vermouth. Also, the reason that Vodka Martini's caught on, is that Vermouth doesn't really play well with Vodka, because there's nothing really to pair with. It's SUPPOSED to be tasteless. Just try it with a really good Gin. The botanicals compliment each other incredibly well and I promise you'll see why this drink caught on. Or maybe not, who knows.

Shaken or Stirred

Both of these things serve to cool the drink and dilute it. Stirring however will do two things: It will keep the drink crystal clear and it will not chill it so much that you can't taste the subtleties. Shaking, however, will cause the drink to take on tiny bubbles that cloud the drink and it will chill it so much that you'll be hard pressed to taste much of the drink. Why? Because cold kills smell and smell is critical for taste.

Get your Martini's stirred kids, not only will it taste better (or at all) but it will be clear. Plus, shaking waters down drinks far more than stirring. James Bond is ordering a watered down, flavorless Martini and it's offensive. 

Optional Modifiers:

If you're using London Dry Gin, it's traditional to add a couple dashes of Orange Bitters. Trust me it's worth it. 

Dirty: Add Olive Brine

The Traditional Garnishes for a Martini are olives or a Lemon Twist. I like mine with both, but hold the brine please

Sweet: Use Sweet Vermouth

Perfect: Use both Sweet and Dry Vermouth

Burnt: add a little Scotch in there

Rocks: There's nothing wrong with ordering a martini with ice

Recipe

This is the recipe I would recommend to anyone looking to try their first Martini. 

  • 2.5 oz London Dry Gin
  • .5 oz Dry Vermouth (Use Quality)
  • 2 dashes Orange Bitters
  • Lemon Peel

Add the liquids to a glass filled with Ice and then stir while doing your best to not let the ice chip. If you don't have a cocktail spoon it's easiest with a chopstick believe it or not. Stir it for a good 30 seconds. You want to dilute it a little. Then strain into a chilled glass. Squeeze the lemon peel over the drink to express the oils and then drop it in and enjoy. 

If you find you enjoy the vermouth more than you thought, try using more. Miss the olives? Add them. My problem with the Martini isn't that it's a bad drink, it's that despite it's incredibly small ingredients list, there's so many ways to enjoy it.  

Cheers

 

Enjoying Craft: 8 Tips

If you thought that enjoying craft beer was as simple as "drink the beer", you have dramatically underestimated how pretentious we are. But seriously, these are just a quick list of things to keep in mind when buying craft beer. They may help you to enjoy a beer more than you would have otherwise or maybe keep you from buying a beer that just needs to stay on the shelf. 

1. Buy Good Beer

          If you don't know a lot about craft beer, the beer aisle of a well stocked grocery store or bottle shop can be downright daunting. There are over 6,000 breweries in the United States and around 60 just in the Houston area. How do you choose? Well one way to branch out without going all in on a 6-pack is to utilize the build your own 6-pack that's found in pretty much every major grocery store nowadays. You'll pay a little bit more per bottle but it's a great way to try a bunch of new things without committing to a lot of it

          The best way however is to hit up your local Craft Beer watering hole, Deacon Baldy's for instance, and try stuff there. The bartenders can guide you to things you might like and you can get a flight and try 4 at once. Plus they're only $6 on Thursdays. (Last plug I promise)

2. Buy Fresh

          Beer has a shelf life believe it or not and that applies doubly to IPA's or anything that uses a good amount of hops. The flavor and aroma that hops lend to beer fade fairly quickly. The easiest way to check is just to look at the bottle or can for the date. That is NOT an expiration date, it's a born on date. You want to make sure that you aren't buying beer that's more than 6 months old at the latest, and as fresh a humanly possible for IPAs and Pale Ales.

          It should be noted that corner stores, slow liquor stores, etc who don't sell as much beer will be carrying older stock than busy grocery stores. You know those people who go through a dozen gallons of milk to find the best date? That's me doing that to beer.

3. To Age or Not to Age

          I know I just told you to drink beer fresh but some beers age well too. In general the higher the alcohol content the more likely it is to age well. There is risk though; the longer a beer sits the more likely it is to go bad. If you want to try aging a beer, stick to Stouts and Barleywine that are over 10% alcohol.

4. Proper Storage

          Regardless of what kind of beer you're buying you should keep it cold and keep it upright. Aging beers can be stored at room temp without and will age faster there, but if you have the fridge space you should keep the beer there. If you want to know why beer should be store upright and not on it's side check out this article

5. Serve At The Proper Temp

          Beer, like wine, should be served at the appropriate temperature. In general, the darker the beer the warmer it should be served. Crisp lagers like pilsners should be enjoyed as cold as your fridge can take them and stouts should be served at roughly the same temp as red wine.

          Why not serve beer as cold as humanly possible? Because our sense of smell is a huge part of how we experience taste, and cold kills aromatic compounds. Basically, cold makes things harder to smell, things you cant smell you can't taste. It's science.

6. Clean Glass

          There's clean and then there's beer clean. When a glass is "beer clean" it means ensuring a glass that is free of any impurities that would give CO2 a place to cling to, ensuring the beer’s best look and taste. Lot's of effort goes into making beer and when you use a dirty glass particulates left over give the CO2 a place to grab on to and CO2 on the glass means less CO2 where it should be, which is in the beer's head and in your mouth. Not sure how to make that last sentence better... ONWARD.

7. The Proper Pour

          Ever start something and then find something else that does the thing you were trying WAY better? Happened to me. Check out this video from SciShow about the best way to pour a beer and why.

 

8. Friends Make Beer Better

          Beer is always just a little bit better when you're enjoying it with good company and good conversation. Cheers!

Craft Beer 101: Old World Sours

Sours are a beer that blew up a few years ago and the popularity hasn't waned the way many thought it would. The thing is, sours have been around as long as beer has because sour beer is essentially beer gone bad... in a good way. Sour beer is beer that has been inoculated with bacteria that changes the flavor either subtly or dramatically. Most people either love them or hate them, but the truth is, that there are so many different styles happening right now that there is almost certainly a sour for everyone out there. There are, very broadly speaking, two ways to make a sour, wild fermentation and single culture. We're only going to be discussing styles here but if you want to learn more about the 3 types of souring bugs that are used and how they affect the beer, check out this article from Draft Magazine. 

Berliner Weisse

The Berliner is a lightly tart, ultra refreshing sour that, in Germany at least, you'll often see with Raspberry Syrup, which we highly recommend. In the US breweries skip the syrup step and throw fruit right the brew. With their low alcohol and high carbonation, there are few things better on a hot day.

  • Malt: What malt? Its there, you just won't really taste it. 
  • Hops: Very little hop bitterness or aroma
  • Sour: Traditionally brewed with Brett but you don't get as much of it as you do lactic sour which makes it fairly tart, but not aggressively so. Fruit notes are common, even without actual fruit
  • ABV: 2.8-4%
  • Pair With: Ham Sandwich on Pretzel Roll, Havarti, Raspberry Cheesecake
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Gose

This style came back out of nowhere a few year ago and it is my absolute favorite beer for hot weather. Gose's are a slightly soured wheat, like the Berliner. The main breakaway from the Berliner however is the use of salt and coriander in the beer. The coriander is light and the salt should be noticeable but not overwhelming. Gose, like Berliner Weisse, see a lot of fruit included in the beer as well which is usually a welcome addition when it's done well. This is the Gatorade of the beer world. 

  • Malt: Wheat, Light Pilsner Malt
  • Hops: Absent
  • Sour: Low to Medium Sourness with sometimes a funky horse blanket or earthy flavors from the Brett Yeast
  • ABV: 4.4-5.5%
  • Pair With: Watermelon Salad, Queso Fresco, Lemon Bars

 

Flanders Red Ale

A sour, fruity, red wine like ale from Belgium with balanced malt flavor and fruity complexity. It has a dry finish and tannins can be present, lending more to the red wine comparison. The red wine theme continues with flavors of cherry, plum, chocolate, and sometimes oak, even if it isn't aged in oak. Acetic sourness can be medium-low to high, with the malt character dissipating the more sour the beer. Be sure to tell wine loyalists that it's sour though because the acetic acid that makes it sour is the same acid that gets created in old wine. 

  • Malt: Balanced malt sweetness with notes of cocoa
  • Hops: No aroma, little bitterness
  • Sour: The Lactobaillus creates a acetic sourness that's medium to high
  • ABV: 4.8-6.6%
  • Pair With: Beef Burgundy
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Fruit Lambic

Often known as cassis, framboise, kriek, or peche, a fruit lambic takes on the color and flavor of the fruit it is brewed with. It can be dry or sweet, clear or cloudy, depending on the ingredients. Notes of Brettanomyces yeast (funkiness) are often presents. Sourness is an important part of the flavor profile, though sweetness may mute it.

  • Malt: Sweet malt character gets drowned out by stronger flavors
  • Hops: low if at all
  • Sour: A dry sourness that is complimented by the high level of fruit in the beer. 
  • 5-9%
  • Pair With: Fruit, Chevre, Creme de Caramel