Posts Tagged 'flying saucer'

A week of Stone at Flying Saucer & Petrol Station

By now you’ve probably heard. If you haven’t, you’re not reading the right blogs or following the right Twitter feeds.

For six straight nights starting tomorrow (Monday, Feb. 15), Houston beer nerds will be in for an awesome vertical tasting. Two of the city’s best beer bars (Flying Saucer and Petrol Station) have teamed up with Stone Brewing for an event they’ve dubbed “Stone’d for Six Days.”

Each night, one of the bars will tap a keg of Stone Imperial Russian Stout, beginning Monday at the Saucer and alternating locations until the finale on Saturday (Feb. 20) at Petrol.

Each night will feature a different vintage of the IRS, beginning with the 2009 and ending with the 2005. Wednesday night will feature a bonus: a bourbon-barrel-aged version of the 2008. Here’s the full lineup, courtesy of the preview post on Beer, TX:

-Monday, Feb. 15: 2009 IRS at the Flying Saucer
-Tuesday, Feb. 16: 2008 IRS at Petrol Station
-Wednesday, Feb. 17: bourbon-barrel-aged 2008 IRS at FS
-Thursday, Feb. 18: 2007 IRS at PS
-Friday, Feb. 19: 2006 IRS at FS
-Saturday, Feb. 20: 2005 IRS at PS

This is a big deal. Stone opened up their stash of aged and rare awesomeness for this event, and word is that Stone head honcho Greg Koch will be down here for at least part of the time.

One last note — Stone Imperial Russian Stout is damn good beer. I reviewed the 2007 IRS last December (when it was nearly three years old) and loved it. And just a few days ago, 29-95 posted a review of a vertical tasting of the IRS, with the 2009, 2007 and 2005 vintages.

I can’t wait to get this thing started tomorrow. I hope to see a lot of Houston beer lovers at some point during the week. And I’ll make sure to post updates on our Twitter feed, @beernerds.


The big 2-0-0

Sometime in the next couple of weeks, I’ll reach a major beer-nerd milestone — my second 200 at the Flying Saucer.

Quick background for those who may need it: the Flying Saucer’s UFO Club is like a frequent flyer program, except that instead of getting credit for miles flown, you get credit for beers sampled. Once you’ve had 200 different beers, you get inducted into the Ring of Honor, which means you get your name on a plate (saucer) on the wall.

I reached my first 200 early in 2009, and it looks like I’ll be reaching my second 200 early in 2010 — I’m at 192 as of Tuesday night (Dec. 29).

So here’s where I need help — what should I drink for my 200th (or, in a sense, 400th)? Hold on, hold on. Before you start suggesting anything, know that I already decided what I’m going to order: a Build Your Flight.

A flight at the Saucer is a tray with samples of five different beers. Some flights are educational (Hops 101, Malts 101), others are geographically themed (Europe Flight, Texas Flight). The Build Your Flight is the best — you pick any 5 draft or cask beers.

When I finished my first round, I built this flight for my 200th: Avery IPA (cask), St. Bernardus Abt 12, Dogfish Head 90-minute IPA, North Coast Old Rasputin Imperial Stout, and Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. It was stellar.

For my 400th, I want to do it again, except I don’t want to repeat any of the above beers. So I’ve narrowed the current selection of draft and cask beers down to 15. Here they are:

-Bear Republic Racer Five IPA
-Brooklyn Lager
-Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA
-La Trappe Isid’Or
-Maredsous Brune
-North Coast Red Seal (cask)
-Paulaner Salvator
-Saint Arnold Elissa IPA
-Schneider Aventinus
-Southern Star Buried Hatchet Stout
-Southern Star Pine Belt Pale Ale
-Stone Arrogant Bastard
-Stone IPA
-Victory Golden Monkey
-Wells Bombardier Bitter

That’s a pretty good list, right? Now I just need to narrow it down to five. I’d like to get a decent mix of styles, and preferably some geographical variety as well. So let me know if you have any suggestions. I’ll make sure to report back once I decide (and drink it).

Sierra Nevada/Dogfish Head Life & Limb

When two of the heavyweights in the US craft beer scene team up. interesting things are bound to happen. A few of us nerds luckily got our hands on one such collaboration: Life & Limb, from Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Head.

By now you’ve probably heard about this beer, but just in case, I’ll borrow directly from the description on DFH’s Web site:

“Life & Limb is a 10% ABV strong, dark beer that defies style characteristics- brewed with pure maple syrup from the Calagione family farm in Massachusetts and estate barley grown on the Grossman “farm” at the brewery in Chico, CA. The beer is alive with yeast-a blend of both breweries’ house strains-bottle conditioned for added complexity and shelf life, and naturally carbonated with birch syrup fresh from Alaska.”

So it’s clearly a big deal — not only is this a unique recipe made with “proprietary” ingredients, but it was a one-time brew. Word is that it sold out very quickly pretty much everywhere. I missed it at the downtown Spec’s, but still managed to snag three bottles — one at the Houston Flying Saucer, and two from a Spec’s in Austin (thanks to a priceless hook-up from a couple friends).

Tempting as it has been (and will be) to open one of the two bottles, I’m going to put them away for a while. In the meantime, here’s my review from the bottle I drank at the Saucer.

Sierra Nevada/Dogfish Head Life & Limb

Poured out of a 24oz bottle into a snifter. In a dark bar, it’s really dark brown, if not quite black, with the tiniest bit of dark red highlights. The first pour doesn’t yield much of a head, leaving just a bubbly ring and traces of some slick. The second pour (pictured) is much better — two fingers, thick and sticky, although it also ends up as just a ring. Lacing is non-existant on the first glass, but the second time around it leaves thick parallel lines.

The nose surprises me at first, simply because it’s so subtle. I get some sugary and syrupy sweet malt but not much else. After teasing a big head out of the second pour, the nose improves noticeably — the aforementioned sweet malt load is more defined, and there’s some dark fruit and even a touch of cocoa.

Right away, you taste the sugary and syrupy sweetness as expected. There’s plenty of alcohol flavor too, but it’s not harsh, just present. There’s maybe a touch of dark fruit (fig?) as well. I don’t get anything in the way of hops or bitterness, but I think there’s a tiny hint of spice in the back.

After the second pour, the taste opens up a bit more. I get all of the above (sugar, syrup, fruit, spice), plus some chocolate, and it all swirls together nicely. The alcohol I noticed early on has also faded somewhat, although it’s impossible to drink 24oz of this without feeling it.

The beer is decently thick, with some fine carbonation and a touch of chewiness. I’d call it a medium-to-full body, and it trends more to full as it warms.

The Sierra Nevada/Dogfish Head Life & Limb is good beer. It’s not great, not yet anyway, and all indications are that it should age spectacularly. In the meantime, it’s well worth seeking out. If you can only snag one bottle, I vote that you put it away. If you get more, go ahead and crack one open soon. You’ll enjoy it.

B+ (The nerds over at Beer Advocate give it a B+)

Stone Imperial Russian Stout 2007

I’m going to cut right to the chase here — the 2007 Stone Imperial Russian Stout is delicious. Absolutely delicious. Please understand that you’re going to see that word — delicious — over and over in this post. There’s no way around it.

I’ve had my fair share of good Russian imperial stouts — Brooklyn Black Chocolate, Oskar Blues Ten FIDY, North Coast Old Rasputin, Bear Republic Big Bear Black, Great Divide Yeti and Oak-Aged Yeti, Victory Storm King… the list goes on and on. I’m pretty sure that it’s my favorite style of beer.

Stone’s is among the best. I drank two bottles of the 2008 late last year, and at less than a year old it was very good. My notes finished with this: “Somewhat in your face but still awesome.” I could tell that it would only improve with age, and online reviews confirmed as much.

Last night, the Flying Saucer tapped a keg of the 2007 Stone IRS. Jake and Asa (two of the nerds that run the place) told us that it was brewed in February 2007, meaning it was 34 months old when we drank it.

As I’ve already said, it was delicious. I’m not quite ready to call it the best Russian imperial stout I’ve had. But it’s close, really close. On to my full review…

Stone Imperial Russian Stout 2007

It’s pitch black, plain and simple. I tried to get something else to come through with some backlighting, but it didn’t happen. It’s black. The head out of the tap is one-finger thick, bubbly, creamy and latte-colored. It slowly and stickily recedes to a splotchy cap and eventually nothing at all. Despite initial signs of stickiness, there’s not much lacing.

The nose is delicious. I smell all sorts of sweet, chocolatey, luscious malt. There’s also dark fruit and molasses and… I could go on, but I need to stop typing and start drinking.

It’s absofreakinglutely delicious. It’s no longer raw and in your face. Jake called the younger one “rough around the edges” — this is anything but. There’s bittersweet chocolate and a bit of coffee and just a touch of fruit, and it’s all melted together in one deliciously malty package.

I’m not really getting any hops. There’s a very small hint of bitterness in the finish, but I won’t call it outright hoppiness. There’s no doubt that the hops faded over time, but there is definitely something balancing the beer out — despite the huge and sweet malt load, it’s never overwhelming or one-sided.

There isn’t a hint of alcohol in the nose or taste, but it only takes a couple of sips for the alcohol to warm the belly. For a beer with an abv right around 10%, it’s remarkably subtle.

The mouthfeel is smooth and somewhat chewy and just a bit fizzy. It’s not extremely thick, but still quite nice. It’s a fitting part of the package.

The Stone 2007 Imperial Russian Stout is top notch, top drawer, elite, as good as it gets — you get the point. I’m so glad I’m aging a handful of 2008 bottles, but it’s going to be really hard to fight the temptation to crack one open soon.

A+ (The nerds over at BeerAdvocate give it an A)

Another night, another rare beer at the Saucer

Quick post/update tonight — headed to the Flying Saucer for a glass of 2007 Stone Imperial Russian Stout. I drank a couple bottles of the 2008 last fall and loved it, so I’m really looking forward to this. I’ve got a handful of bottles of the 2008 aging, too, so it’ll be nice to get a taste (ahem) of what’s in store for them.

For those who may not have had a Stone IRS or even heard of it — it’s awesome. The nerds at BeerAdvocate give it a strong A, which pretty much puts it in elite company.

OK, enough typing, I’m off to the Saucer.

Strong night at the Saucer

Those of you following our Twitter feed, @beernerds, already saw what went down — really good stuff at the Flying Saucer tonight. They hosted their annual Beer Knurd party, and tapped a handful of rare, strong and quality beers — Avery Czar, Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout, North Coast Old Stock 2008… and, of course the guest of honor, Saint Arnold Divine Reserve 9.

We’ll hopefully post full reviews for these beers soon. In the meantime, just know that it was a great night and a great lineup. Those of you following us on Twitter (@beernerds) already knew that…

Avery Out of Bounds Stout, Brooklyn Monster Ale, Real Ale Oktoberfest

The Saucer stepped up their usual Thursday “Tap Nite” this week, with two rare beers on offer instead of the usual one — Avery Out of Bounds Stout (firkin) and Brooklyn Monster Ale (draft).

That was as good an excuse as any to make a night of it, so we did. I drank the two Tap Nite selections, and then wrapped up the night with a Real Ale Oktoberfest (draft).

Avery Out of Bounds Stout


Dark brown with plenty of nutty brown highlights. The head out of the tap is decent — light latte color, 1-finger, fluffy and bubbly. Eventually ends up a thin cap. Despite some early signs of stickiness, there’s not much in the way of lacing by the time I’m done with the pint.

The nose is like a roasted smoky porter with a touch of hops, interesting and not exactly what I expected (maybe I didn’t do my research very well).

There isn’t much in the way of subtlety here (no surprise, given the brewery). It tastes like darkly roasted and maybe even burnt coffee, with a touch of smoke thrown in. It’s a bit bitter and hoppy, too, but that gets overwhelmed. I’m not getting much sweetness at all, and that’s a big disappointment — I like my stouts to have at least some chocolate or dark fruit or something along those lines. In that sense, it certainly stands out for a stout.

Big caveat on the mouthfeel — they served it out of a firkin. Unsurprisingly, it’s smooth and chewy, if not quite thick. This is the beer’s best attribute, by far.

As I drank the Avery Out of Bounds Stout, I kept thinking it was like a coffee porter with a stout body. I found it interesting and worthwhile for about the first half of the pint glass, but its appeal kinda faded the more I drank. It’s only 5.1% abv, so in that sense it’s quite drinkable. Still, I was pretty tired of it by the end of the glass. I can’t imagine seeking it out.

C+ (The nerds over at Beer Advocate give it a B+)

Brooklyn Monster Ale


Clearish and reddish caramel with some golden orange highlights. All four of us get slim caps for the head, mine has a thick white ring and some oily slick covering nearly the whole surface. Don’t expect any lacing whatsoever, and there isn’t.

The nose is both subtle and sweet for a barleywine. There are hints of a Belgian dubbel here, as I get a bit of dark fruit, some slight spiciness and even yeasty sweetness. But I’m also reaching — it was a bit of a struggle to smell much at all.

This tastes like no other barleywine I’ve ever had, and I can’t quite describe it. It’s sharply boozy and maybe a bit fruity, but I wouldn’t call it sugary sweet. Maybe berries? I’m looking for other stuff, but it’s hard to find much else. I still get mostly booze, and I mean that in a liquor-ish sense I think — whisky or scotch? And those dubbel characteristics I got in the nose are nowhere to be found here.

The mouthfeel doesn’t really live up to the style. It’s velvety and very slightly chewy, but not thick. There’s also some fizz that is subtle but noticeably sharp.

My main conclusion here is that Brooklyn Monster Ale desperately needs to be aged and tamed. There’s just way too much alcohol presence, and the rest of the package doesn’t have a chance. For now, it’s really hard to drink — I left a couple of sips at the bottom of the snifter. If I can get my hands on a bottle, I’ll definitely give it another chance in a year or three.

C- (The nerds over at Beer Advocate give it a B+)

Real Ale Oktoberfest

Light and bright orangeish brown. There’s a thin cap at first, but pretty soon it’s just some oily slick with a decent off-white ring around the edge of the glass. No lacing to speak of at any point.

Smells almost like nothing. I struggle to find some bready and musty malt, and that’s about it.

Let’s see….there’s plenty of bready or biscuity malt sweetness, and there’s a definite floral hoppiness to it as well. As I type that I think it sounds like a good starting point for a balanced Oktoberfest, but as I was drinking it I didn’t think it tasted all that great.

Oktoberfests rarely have much of a body, and this is no exception. It’s fizzy and watery and only just better than light-bodied.

Real Ale Oktoberfest is not awful or even close to that, but it’s certainly not special. My biggest mistake was having this as my last beer of the night. I could see starting the night with one, but after a bitter burnt-coffee stout and a harshly boozy barleywine, this just never had a chance. Still…considering it’s a style I don’t particularly like, I’ll try it again sometime.

B (The nerds over at Beer Advocate give it a B)

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