Nat’l Homebrew Day @ SoCo Homebrew & Tons of New Beers.

 Want to drink some free beer while watching someone homebrew in celebration of National Homebrew Day on May 2nd? Join the South Austin Homebrew Association at SoCo Homebrew for free beers from local breweries and some homebrew demos for anyone and everyone interested in homebrewing! We’ll be at SoCo Homebrew from 10am – 6pm. Bring something for the grill, bring some more beer, and if you want to brew, contact SoCo Homebrew and sign up. We’ll see you on Saturday 5/2 with beers, BBQ, and friends on SoCo. Cheers! 

Sahara’s latest blog post (#3 in the series if you’re counting) is all about saisons, a perfect springtime beer as the temperature outside steadily climbs upward. Read more here and pick up your curated 6 pack in the shop during the month of May!

Free In-Store Tastings 6-8pm

Thursday, April 30th – TONIGHT!

Believe it or not we’ve never had a Rogness tasting, so we decided to fix that by having Jon from the brewery into our tasting bar to pour free samples of Joie D’ete saison, Gigantophis triple IPA, Beardy Guard, Hefeweizen and Rook scotch ale. Join us!

Tuesday, May 5th

We helped launch Mexican craft brewery Calavera a couple weeks back with their two releases: an American-style pale ale and an imperial stout with four different chili peppers. Taste both for free!

Wednesday, May 6th

The always entertaining Matt Hogue will be in the house sampling out a combo of Ommegang and Boulevard beers, including the latest Game of Thrones dark saison, The Calling IPA, Spring Belle saison & one or two other random ones too.

New Beers This Week

Back in stock: Oasis Meta Modern (arriving Friday), Stone Delicious IPA, 5 Stones Camo, Odell St Lupulin (6 packs), Thirsty Planet Thirsty Goat Amber. Also, Community’s Mosaic IPA, and it was bottled literally 24 hours ago!

Clown Shoes A Fistful of Unidragon – Last fall Clown Shoes brewery out of Massachusetts used all malts from Blacklands Maltsters right here in Leander, TX to release a Texas-only imperial stout called the Good, the Bad & the Unidragon. They figured why not take this immensely popular stout and age it in bourbon barrels? 14% ABV/Ipswich, MA/No ratings yet/Availability: limited

Nebraska Apricot au Poivre Saison – An artful interpretation of a Belgian-style Saison created with Apricot Puree and Black Pepper. Aged for 6 months in third-use French Oak Chardonnay barrels. Delicate flavors and aromas of oak, apricot, chardonnay, and pepper intertwined in the barrel to achieve a flavor profile that is simultaneously complex and delightful. 6.8% ABV/Papillion, NE/Ratebeer 98/Availabilty: limited 

Hops & Grain Greenhouse Batch 19 – Calypso hops! Batch #19 is an ode to the calypso hop and its pleasantly fruity aroma of apple, pear and citrus. Tons of tropical fruit aroma & flavor. 7.7% ABV/Austin, TX/No ratings/Availability: plenty

Prairie Somewhere* – Prairie Somewhere is a blend of golden farmhouse ale and a sour ale. Citrus fruit is used in the kettle to add intense orange and lime notes. Citrusy, tart & delicious. 7% ABV/Krebs, OK/Ratebeer 97/Availability: plenty/*Arriving Friday

Elevation Raspberry Gulch* – Raspberry Gulch is a fruited saison brewed with a traditional yeast strain from Belgium and brewed with nearly 18 pounds of raspberries per barrel. With notes of hay, spice, and raspberry, this beer is a perfect way to celebrate the end of winter and the start of your spring adventures. 8.25% ABV/Poncha Springs, CO/No ratings yet/Availability: decent/*Arriving Friday

Urban Family Death to Cereal* – A new one from the Urban Family brewery in Seattle, this one is a coffee stout with milk sugar and sterling hops. A smooth mouth feel and slightly sweet meshes with the roasted malt flavors. 6.64% ABV/Seattle, WA/No ratings yet/Availability: decent/*Arriving Friday

Urban Family Hoppy Magnolia* – A dry hopped farmhouse ale, this is quite lush with fruit and the yeasty Belgian tang. Wonderful spicy aroma. Flavors of pear and a hint of dried apricot along with the light malt. 7% ABV/Seattle, WA/No ratings yet/Availability: decent/*Arriving Friday

Smuttynose Really Old Brown Dog – Smuttynose’s new year round offering, this old ale or stock ale is rich & malty. The color varies from rich, dark amber to a very dark brown. This style features fruity, vinuous & deep, malty flavors, giving it an almost port-like qualities. 11% ABV/Hampton, NH/Ratebeer 95/Availability: decent

Green Flash Road Warrior – Green Flash’s summer seasonal imperial rye IPA combines Columbus and Mosaic hops, rich crystal and spicy rye malts pave the way for Mosaic and Amarillo dry hopping to boldly shine through in the finish. 9% ABV/San Diego, CA/Ratebeer 98/Availabilty: decent

Deep Ellum Wealth & Taste – Deep Ellum’s latest barrel aged bomber is a strong, golden Belgian-style Ale brewed with Muscat grape juice, Grapefruit peel, rose hips and chamomile flowers and partially aged in Missouri White Oak barrels that spent the last seven to eight years housing Chardonnay in Napa. 9.4% ABV/Dallas, TX/Ratebeer 93/Availability: limited

Ballast Point Piper Down Scotch Ale – Using UK Maris Otter malt, roasted barley, UK hops and low fermentation temperatures, Ballast Point then let the brew’s sweet complexity build over a three-hour boil. Full of roasted caramel flavor. 5.8% ABV/San Diego, CA/Ratebeer 83/Availabilty: limited

Ballast Point Tongue Buckler Imperial Red – A gigantic hoppy & malty imperial red ale from the hop-czars that are Ballast Point. Comes in bombers. 10% ABV/San Diego, CA/Ratebeer 98/Availability: limited

Free Weekend Tastings, 6-8pm

Friday

 Boulevard The Calling IPA

Epic Lil Brainless Raspberries

Founders Black Rye

Urban Family Citron Noir

Saturday

Hops & Grain Greenhouse #19

Real Ale Red King Imperial Red

Thirsty Planet Thirsty Goat Amber

One more random thing we’ll open up

Sahara’s Blog #3: ‘Tis the Saison

Beer has long been heralded as the beverage of choice among members of the working class, and with good reason. Beer is rich in nutrients and high in calories, making it a perfect source of sustenance for the laborer.

It can be argued (and believe me, it has) that beer provided a resource essential to the development of civilization. Ancient peoples all over the world were consuming beer from dawn to dusk, as they labored in the fields under the hot sun. In Scandinavia, the Old Norse farmers were sustained by drinking ӧl, a gruit brewed with bitter herbs and malted barley. Egyptian pyramid builders lived on a diet of bread, butter, and a thick, sweet beer called Hqt (“heket”).

Over the centuries, people began to dissect and elucidate the mystical science behind the brewing process, gradually refining their techniques, and leading to the development of specific regional styles.

As cities grew and sanitation became more and more of a concern, beer provided an elegant solution to the problem of unpotable drinking water, and in the 1700s, low-alcohol “session” beers that could be consumed all day began to sprout up all over Europe. These beers took on a wide variety of forms. In London markets, the Porter became the token drink of the working man, as was evidenced by the popularity of specialty taverns called Porterhouses. In the mines of Dortmund in Western Germany, the Dortmunder Export evolved to fill a similar niche.

In the French-speaking farming villages of Southern Belgium, in a region known as Wallonia, the Saison was born, out of this same necessity.

The word “Saison” means “season” in French. This is reflective of the seasonal nature of these first rustic “farmhouse” beers, as they were brewed from materials harvested in the fall, allowed to ferment throughout the winter, and were consumed by farmers in the summer (in the days before refrigeration, airlocks, and sanitizer, beer was ideally fermented in colder months, as the low temperatures suppressed bacterial infections and insect infestations).

Saisons once varied enormously from town-to-town and farm-to-farm. While the majority of modern commercial Saisons contain an all-malt grain bill, original variations included anything from spelt to rye to wheat, to whatever else was leftover from that year’s harvest.

Most of these early Saisons were extensively hopped, since hops act as a natural preservative, and these beers were meant to keep all summer long, and into the following harvest. They were also typically flavored with an array of botanicals from the surrounding area.

Today, we think of a Saison as a very spicy beer. I don’t mean spicy in the way we Texans usually do. I mean it has a clove-like, peppery quality to it. This can come from the addition of adjuncts like coriander, orange peel, grains of paradise, etc., but it can also come from—and indeed it can be argued that it should primarily come from—the yeast. This kind of spice is called a “phenol”. Phenols are also responsible for the “barnyard” funkiness often associated with Saisons.

Saison yeast developed as a matter of economy. Farmers, to save time and money, would re-pitch the healthiest yeast from previous batches of beer for decades-on-end. This led to the evolution of some very complex and unique attributes.

Because Saisons were first brewed with a variety of grains, some with less readily-fermentable sugars than malted barley, Saison yeast developed the ability to devour any and all sugars present in the beer, leading to the characteristic dryness of the style.

Originally, Saisons were rarely brewed above 5%, and generally hovered between 3% and 4%, so that they could be consumed throughout the course of an entire day. Stronger versions branched off and became the French style known as Bière de Garde (literally, beer for keeping). Modern Saisons are higher in alcohol than their predecessors, generally clocking in around 5-7%.

Today, it is not uncommon to see Saisons packaged in champagne bottles, with a cork and cage. This elegant presentation is a hold-over from the old days, when poor farmers would salvage discarded champagne bottles and use them to house their homebrew. Over time, they realized that they could pitch a small amount of yeast and sugar (a process referred to as “priming”) into the bottom of a bottle before filling and corking it. This would cause the beer to undergo what is referred to a secondary fermentation—or a re-fermentation in the bottle—and the resultant beer would be crisper and more effervescent, a quintessential attribute of the modern Saison.

With industrialization came a move away from the agricultural lifestyle that had made Saisons so common in the Belgian countryside. By the 1950s, the style was almost obsolete, produced only by a smattering of boutique brewers. In the 1990s, famed beer writer Michael Jackson wrote that Saisons would likely wink out of existence entirely. However, this style has recently seen a resurgence, and with its resurgence, guidelines for brewing Saisons have become somewhat calcified. While still less rigid than many other styles, there are now loose rules in place for how a Saison ought to taste, smell, look, and feel on the palate.

In this six-pack, we will be exploring two Belgian Saisons, and four from the US, including one from here in Texas.

Let’s begin with the king of the modern Saison:

Saison Dupont

6.5%

Brassiere Dupont

Tourpes, Belgium

The Dupont Brewery is located in Tourpes in the Walloon region of Belgium, on the site of a farm that has been brewing beer since 1759. The brewery itself has been in operation since 1950, with equipment dating from the 20s. Their Saison is considered the industry standard. It is brewed with the British hop variety East Kent Golding, and a Slavic varietal called Styrian Golding. Its fermentable sugars come from Pilsner malt, which is typical of most modern Saisons. Dupont has developed its own house yeast strain that many speculate was cultivated from red wine yeast, due to the high temperatures at which it is able to ferment. Those higher temperatures allow the top-fermenting ale yeast to flourish, producing a vast array of esters and phenols—those wonderful, lively, fruity and spicy notes that make this beer so complex and unique. Saison Dupont undergoes secondary fermentation in the bottle. It has been brewed at the Dupont farm since 1844 for the “saisoniers”—the seasonal workers.

 

Hennepin

7.7%

Ommegang

Cooperstown, NY

Located in Cooperstown, NY, once the center of hop production in the US, Ommegang was built in 1997 on the site of a former hop farm, with help from the makers of Duvel and Scaldis. Hennepin derives its spiciness from Saison yeast, in conjunction with the addition of grains of paradise, coriander, ginger, and sweet orange peel. Hennepin achieves its high attenuation by adding cane sugar, that greedy Saison yeast is quick to gobble up and convert into alcohol and carbonation. The yeast strain used by Ommegang to produce Hennepin ferments at a lower temperature than Saison Dupont, and does not produce the same amount of esters and phenols, hence the extra spice additions.

 

St. Feuillien Saison

6.5%

Brassiere St. Feuillien

Le Rœulx, Belgium

Again hailing from Wallonia, the St. Feuillien Brewery was established in 1873, and, with the exception of an 11-year stretch the late 20th Century, it has been operated by the Friart family the entire time. In 2009, St. Feuillien developed its hoppy Saison in response to the growing popularity the style in the United States. When it was released in New York City, it was instantly so popular that the brewery had to delay the release of their Saison in Belgium to meet overseas demand. In 2009 and 2010, it was named the World’s Best Saison Ale, and has since gone on to win myriad awards.

 

Till & Toil

7.1%

Lakewood

Dallas, TX

Wim Bens, owner and founder of Lakewood, was born in Belgium and made the move to the United States when he was seven years old. He founded Lakewood brewing in 2011, and has already achieved a great deal of respect in the beer community. He has always been inspired by the brewing traditions of Belgium, and this Saison is a perfect manifestation of New World meets Old World. Using Citra and Mosaic hops, this Saison has a particularly fruit-forward flavor. The name is, of course, an homage to the history of the style.

 

Le Merle

7.9%

North Coast

Fort Bragg, CA

Named after the wife of North Coast’s brewmaster Mark Ruedrich, this Saison uses “abundant hops” and a Belgian yeast strain to achieve its token tropical fruit flavor and aroma. North Coast was established in 1988, and in 2006, Le Merle won a gold medal at the World Beer Championships.

 

Sofie

6.5%

Goose Island

Chicago, IL

Goose Island began in Chicago as a brewpub called Clybourn after founder John Hall took a trip across Europe and was inspired by the variety of outstanding beer he encountered there. In 1995, they brewpub was transformed into Goose Island. Recently, Goose Island forged a deal with Anheuser Busch, giving them a 58% stake in the company. Despite the tears of sadness shed by beer nerds everywhere, the brewery is still producing the same amazing products that have brought it so much esteem over the years. Sofie, named after Hall’s granddaughter, is brewed with a base of 2-Row and Pilsner malts, and wheat. It is aged in wine barrels with hand-zested orange peel, and hopped with Amarillo hops.

Happy King’s Day! Anniversary Party is on Sunday! New Beers from Founders, Adelbert’s, and brand new brewery Destihl.

Want to drink some free beer while watching someone homebrew in celebration of National Homebrew Day on May 2nd? Join the South Austin Homebrew Association at SoCo Homebrew for free beers from local breweries and some homebrew demos for anyone and everyone interested in homebrewing! We’ll be at SoCo Homebrew from 10am – 6pm. Bring something for the grill, bring some more beer, and if you want to brew, contact SoCo Homebrew and sign up. We’ll see you on Saturday 5/2 with beers, BBQ, and friends on SoCo. Cheers! 

 

PLEASE NOTE: We will be CLOSED this Sunday 4/26 as we celebrate our first anniversary at Hops & Grain. Pre-purchase tickets (which guarantee you one of our first anniversary glasses) are almost sold out. You can still come to the party, you just won’t be getting a fancy anniversary glass. Stock up on beer on Saturday instead!

 

Sahara’s latest blog post & corresponding curated 6 pack features an insider look at what it takes to study for and pass the Certified Cicerone tasting exam. For those that don’t know, the Cicerone program is the beer equivalent of Sommelier, and the exam features a blind taste test in which the user tastes a beer and has to choose which of two styles it is. Read more here and purchase the blind 6 pack in store today!

Free In-Store Tastings 6-8pm

Thursday, April 23rd – TONIGHT!

Upslope Brewing has a brand new rep based in Austin and we’ll be breaking him in with a tasting event featuring their IPA, Brown Ale, Craft Lager and the Belgian Pale Ale.

Friday, April 24th

Happy King’s Day! This Dutch holiday is essentially a gigantic country-wide street party. We currently sell two Dutch breweries in the shop: Urthel & La Trappe. We’ll be sampling at least one of each on Friday and will have glassware and swag (some free and some free with purchase). Happy King’s day!

Thursday, April 30th

Believe it or not we’ve never had a Rogness tasting, so we decided to fix that by having Jon from the brewery into our tasting bar to pour free samples of Joie D’ete saison, Gigantophis triple IPA, Hefeweizen and Rook scotch ale. Join us!

New Beers This Week

Back in stock: Prairie Bible Belt (arriving Friday), Lone Pint Yellow Rose (arriving Friday), Ommegang Game of Thrones Three-Eyed Raven, Left Hand Good Juju, Ballast Point Habanero & Grapefruit Sculpin, Real Ale Commissar, Maui Coconut Porter.

Adelbert’s Vintage Monks – Adelbert’s keeps up the frequent specialty barrel releases with their latest in the Vintage Monks series. This one is a blend of Flyin’ Monks Belgian quad and Dancin’ Monks dubbel. It’s then aged in red wine barrels for up to 2 years which enhance the tart dark fruit flavors from the Belgian yeasty esters. 9.1% ABV/Austin, TX/No ratings yet/Availability: decent

Founders Rubaeus Raspberry Ale – Not another boring summer wheat beer or lemonade shandy—Rübæus is Founders’ way to celebrate the season’s warmest months. Optimizing the flavor of fresh raspberries added at multiple stages during fermentation, this stunning berry red masterpiece is the perfect balance of sweet and tart. 5.7% ABV/Grand Rapids, MI/Ratebeer 92/Availability: plenty

Founders Old Curmudgeon – In traditional Old Ale style Curmudgeon is brewed with an intense focus on the malt bill creating a very strong, rich, malty characteristic and a sweetness indicative of its cousin the barleywine. Exceptional balance in this beer makes it deceptively smooth and drinkable at 9.8% alcohol by volume. 9.8% ABV/Grand Rapids, MI/Ratebeer 98/Availability: very limited

Crabbie’s Cloudy Alcoholic Lemonade* – Quite the interesting name on this new release from Crabbie’s, who currently makes a very popular ginger beer. This one contains no ginger, instead it’s an alcoholic lemonade with a dry, tart finish. 4.8% ABV/Glasgow, Scotland/No ratings yet/Availability: decent/*Arriving Friday

Tieton Rambling Route Cider* – Tieton Cider Works from the Yakima Valley of Washington just released a hard apple cider in 4 pack cans. Expect pineapple aromas and mineral qualities on the nose, snappy and racy acid levels on the palate, coupled by a deep full-bodied finish. 6.9% ABV/Yakima, WA/No ratings yet/Availability: decent/*Arriving Friday

Destihl Quadrupel – Destihl is an Illinois brewery which just launched in Texas. They have a strong lineup of sour beers which will slowly be arriving in the shop as they continue to send more to TX. This quad is a strong Belgian-style Abbey Ale ‘quad’ characterized by the immense presence of alcohol and balanced flavor, bitterness and aromas, with a color that is amber/rich chestnut/garnet brown, a complex fruity aroma & flavor reminiscent of raisins & dates. 11% ABV/Normal, IL/Beer Advocate 82/Availability: limited/*Arriving Friday

Destihl Excommunie Quatre* – The Saint Dekkera series takes existing base beers from Destihl and ages them in oak barrels with sour yeast. “Dekkera” is the genus name for Brettanomyces, a sour yeast strain responsible for many sour flavors in beer. The Excommunie Quatre is basically a sour version of the Quadrupel listed above. 11% ABV/Normal, IL/No Ratings yet/Availability: limited/*Arriving Friday

Destihl Pomme* – The base beer is Bela, an imperial pilsner. It’s then aged in oak barrels with sour apples. 5.5% ABV/Normal, IL/No ratings yet/Availability: limited/*Arriving Friday

Desithl Gertrude* – Again, the base here is the imperial pilsner Bela, which is then aged with brettanomyces in oak barrels. 10.8% ABV/Normal, IL/No ratings yet/Availability: limited/*Arriving Friday

Brewdog Dogma* – Dogma is an indulgent, decadent and encapsulating scotch ale brewed with 10 different types of malt all blended together with Scottish heather honey.  7.4% ABV/Scotland/Ratebeer 95/Availability: decent/*Arriving Friday

Weekend Tastings, 6-8pm

Friday

 Branchline 5 am to Midnight

La Trappe Tripel

La Trappe Quad

Urthel Hop-It

Saturday

Smuttynose Finestkind IPA

North Coast Le Merle Saison

Kostritzer Schwarzbier

No Label Ridgeback Amber