Beer Journal

A quasi-daily examination of beer and things related to beer.

Monday, February 11, 2008

We're number 14!

Thanks to the wonderful folks at Wikipedia (That's you!), here is a list of countries of the world, ranked by per capita beer consumption.

I've always kind assumed it, but I never realized to the extent of the matter: I drink a lot more beer than the average American.

[Thanks, also, to Deadspin and Dave Barry]

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Review: Hallertau Imperial Pilsner

Style: American Double / Imperial Pilsner
Brewer: Boston Beer Company
Location: Boston, MA
Alcohol: 8.8%

First, a little back story. My wife and I were driving all over McAllen looking for a place to eat; a quick place that we hadn't eaten at, or at least in a while. As typically happens, we were at that point where hunger overcomes the rational ability to make a decision. We narrowed it down to two places: Fresco's and Mama Mia's. The former was packed to the brim so we headed down Tenth Street towards Mama's. And then without more warning than a billboard I happened to spy, we noticed, on the corner of Tenth and Business 83, the new Feldman's Market Center. We stopped in for a quick look-see before dinner.

There are a number of Feldman's in the RGV each with your typical frat-house liquor selection. The beer selection varies from store to store, as does the quality of the wine. Some stores carry cigars. Market Center, however, strives to be one of those high end imbibers that you tend to only find in more forward-thinking cities, like Austin, New York or San Fransisco. With that in mind, Market Center is exactly what you'd expect a Valley interpretation of that sort of store to be. Very good, but still with flaws.

The wine selection is impressive, as is the cigar room. The beer selection is already the best in the RGV, and the short deli menu offers a wonderful selection of cheeses, meats and expensive appetizers. We had a couple of the sandwiches (sorry, Mama's), "the Man" (a stacked, high end chicken, ham and cheese) and a tuna sandwich made with (gasp!) fresh tuna meat (or, at least, not canned). There is also a quaint foodstuffs section (to cover the "Market" part, I suppose). And oh yeah, the liquor selection is ridiculous. Not for variety, but for volume; it seems like most of the store. Of course, all this adds up to many potential return trips for yours truly, and many new possibilities for the Beer Journal.

The first pack I pulled out of the cooler, the first time I'd ever seen this beer in person in fact, was Samuel Adams Hallertau Imperial Pilsner. The label also read, "An Intense Hop Experience", which regular readers of this site know all but sealed the deal. This Imperial Pilsner is listed under Sam Adams's "extreme beers" classification. The name Hallertau refers to the type of hops used, Hallertau Mittletruck from Bavaria, Germany.

True to it's label, the copper-colored HIP is absolutely loaded with hops. I expected this to mean a sharp, biting bitterness, but that is not the case. Instead, that beer and bouquet alike have a flowing taste, taking some off of the top but remaining pungent and (let's face it, repulsive) to those not accustomed to hoppy beers. This all combines to make HIP a vary drinkable beer, even for more than one per sitting. (The 8.8 would have different ideas, though.)

The Stats:

Food: 8.4
Beer: 9.1
Atmosphere: 7.6

Rating: 8.9

Other Reviews:
The Monitor (store)
Boston Geek (beer)

Thursday, February 07, 2008

I did Dallas

Long over due, for sure. I'll catch you up as best I can.

A little over a month ago David, a coworker/drinking buddy of mine, took a weekend trip to Dallas to catch a Mavericks game and enjoy some fine food and drink. While there, we met up with another good friend and Fort Worth resident, Siraham, who served as our de facto concierge. Over the course of three days, we were lucky enough to visit three not-too-different fine eateries. Well, four if you count the HEB Central Market on Lover's Lane, which I do, so let's start there.

Unlike the generic, poor people HEB's that we've got in the RGV, Central Market puts its emphasis on better, higher quality foods and drinks. Organic foods, specialty meats, fresh breads, exotic fruits and rare cheeses surround extensive wine and beer selections. Sure, the whole swath is certainly more expensive than your typical grocer, but that's to be expected. You get quality for the extra cost. The coup de grace of the Market is their deli counter, replete with specialty dishes ranging from pan seared tuna to cranberry couscous. For under $10 you can get a delicious and filling meal; so long as you don't mind eating in a supermarket.

Next on the list is the Flying Saucer Draught Emporium in nearby Addison. The Saucer is a German styled beer garden with an extensive drink selection. Almost as impressive was the meat and cheese platter; I chose the pairing of Black Pepper Salami and Comte Gruyere. The tray was decorated with olives, grapes and almonds, all to help create a variety of flavor combinations. My only problem with the Saucer is that it's certainly more "bar" than pub, and by ten o'clock it was over-flowing with a meat-market type crowd.

Providing a similar selection (right down to the meat and cheese plate), was the Idle Rich Pub, and Irish pub McKinney Ave. For those unfamiliar with Dallas, McKinney is the yuppie corner of the city. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of wonderful places to eat and see in that part of town, but make no mistake, money does all the talking. The scenery inside the bar, however, was much better. Idle's appetizers were delicious and the knowledgeable staff helped us maneuver our way around the very impressive menu. Something about staring at a
list twelve pages long really takes the ambition out of even the most condescending of pallets. Remember: it's always ok to ask for help.

With a taste for Ireland on our minds, we jaunted over to Trinity Hall Irish Pub, where we ordered pint after pint of the Isle's favorite son, Guinness. As luck would have it, or not surprisingly at all depending on how you look at it, the gentleman lofting the traditional Irish folk songs hailed from Taunton, Massachusetts, nearby the original hometown of the Beer Journal. Further, another of the pub's patron's had just moved down from Quincy (MA), and was more than willing to sling the stouts with the singer, your's truly and my traveling party. To be honest, I was a little past the point of objectivity by the time I got there. Still, it's hard to screw it up when you start with the perfect formula.

The bad news? Dallas is some eight and a half hours from the Rio Grande Valley. The good news? the next trip to Dallas comes in June.

The stats:
HEB Central Market
Food: 9.8
Beer: 9.0
Atmosphere: 7.0

The Flying Saucer
Food: 8.1
Beer: 9.2
Atmosphere: 7.5

Idle Rich
Food: 7.4
Beer: 9.6
Atmosphere: 8.7

Trinity Hall
Food: N/A
Beer: 9.0
Atmosphere: 9.9