Google+ Followers

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

From Texas to Yonkers (Brewing)

This month we start out in the Lone Star State then come on back to our Home State as we check out some Texas beers and then review some brews from Yonkers Brewing Company. Join us, there's some tasty beer ahead.


This month, BOTB member, Gerry, had the opportunity to spend some time in Abilene,Texas for a lovely meet-n-greet with his first grandchild. While there he dutifully checked out the Texas craft beer scene (and just as dutifully returned with a treasure-trove of Texas beers for us to review this month). He also filed the following report on his take on the state of craft beer in Texas along with a shout out to one of the first craft breweries in Abilene. Below is Gerry's musings on Texas craft beer and Pappy Slokum.

Once known as a craft beer dust bowl, the appreciation and production of fine craft beer has skyrocketed in the past 5-6 years in Texas. Mainly due to the original and huge German influence in beer making in the state, German lagers ruled the state. The market, and consequently the local tastes, were all geared toward Shiner Bock or Lone Star (a lager now owned and brewed by Pabst). When I first visited 4 years ago that’s about all you could find on tap anywhere in the greater Abilene area. I am pleased to report that Texas has swiftly jumped into the craft beer scene. With the relatively recent (ten years or less) birth of such craft beer makers as Jester King, Community Beer Company, Karbach Brewing, Deep Ellum, Real Ale, Revolver Brewing, and Rahr & Sons Brewing I had a delightful stay in Abilene with great beers available to me on tap and in grocery stores.

Always the curious type on the lookout for new and different beers and breweries, I snooped around and found,tucked away in the older north industrial side of Abilene, a small brewery that I fell in love with. Pappy Slokum Brewing Company is the exact tiny brewery you would want in your town. Started by 3 dedicated and experienced homebrewers with nothing on their minds but making really
good beer. With a previous poor taste in my mouth (pun intended) for Texas beer in general, I visited Pappy Slokum early on in my visit – fully prepared not to like anything. I bought a flight in a tasting room packed full of weekly loyal patrons, many with their own mugs, and began taking brief notes in my trusty leather beer journal. I try to never judge a beer by a 4 ounce sample. My purpose in ordering flights is to sort out the offerings I will take note of and enjoy in greater quantity. When, what to my wondering palette should appear? Why, nothing short of great tasting beer; and on top of that it was all so near.

My ordering and note-taking apparently was taken note of because the next thing I knew one of the 3 owners/brewers, Jeff Bell, appeared and we chatted up a storm. Long story short and lots of beer later I know I’ve discovered an absolute gem of a small brewery. After traveling and tasting up and down Vermont, much of New Hampshire, across New York, and tasting craft beer in the BOTB club for the past several years I must say that Pappy Slokum Brewing Company is up there with the best of them. Any of our readership knows that we are really big on India Pale Ales, so believe me when I say a Mac Pappy’s 80 Shilling Scottish Ale was simply fantastic and floated right to the top of my notebook. No wonder it is available on tap at The Taylor County Tap House (a very popular watering hole downtown).  However, (and this will surprise anyone the least bit familiar with my beer drinking tastes) the one that won me, the one I’d actually get back on a plane and fly down for was their Stripper Dust Vanilla Porter. That’s right a porter, me, loving a porter – who knew? Sure I was intrigued by the name
(crafters really enjoy naming their beers) but the full vanilla aroma and the smooth creamy texture with a gently roasted vanilla taste just screamed for me to have another.
“non-IPA” beer has to be pretty darn good to turn my head. Pappy Slokum did it, not once, but twice! Their

But wait folks, that’s not all. Jeff kept bringing me beer “from the back room”. A Douchbag (yep), and Imperial Red, and an altbier. That’s correct, this tiny brewery in Abilene, Texas brews that German-style brown ale (having originated in Düsseldorf) that is quite complex to do, and they nailed it. Needless to say I returned to Pappy Slokum’s and enjoyed more of their beer as well as “talking them up” to a couple of taverns in town and with guys on the golf courses I played. When you find a gem you need to polish it and wear it. Pappy Slokum Brewing Company is one of those gems. So here’s to Jeff, Brian, and Richard – long may you brew. You’ve made a northern New York craft beer lover very happy.

Pappy slokum himself - Bootlegger

Want to learn more about Pappy Slokum Brewing Company? Visit here:  Also learn the story of the real life Pappy Slokum.

For more beer-related facts, alternate facts and opinions from Gerry check out Gerry's Beer Book


A quick note in case you're new to the BOTB blog:We are 7 guys with a penchant for hoppy beers (ergo you will note there are a disproportionate number of IPAs) but we also appreciate and enjoy other styles as well. Our reviews are completely non-scientific and totally subjective. We do begin each with "The Beer Facts" followed by a fairly objective appaisal of the beer's color, pour, aroma, body and taste. We then offer up our "Overall Impression" of the beer based on the collective opinions of the seven of us. We place the beer on a sliding scale from "Leave It On The Shelf" to "I Could Drink That!" to "Can't Get Enough!." The final section is "Comments." These range from on-the-nose to off-the-wall stream of consciousness remarks as we sniff, swish and swallow. 


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Cedar Creek Brewing, Seven Points, TX; STYLE: Cream Ale; ABV: 5.0%; IBUs: 17; SRM: 3.4;  MALTS: US 2-Row, Rye, Malt, Flaked Oats; HOPS: Apollo, Bravo

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "Cream Ale is a style that is under-appreciated by most of the craft beer world, and we want to change that. Lawn Ranger is a session ale with a solid malt character from the US 2-Row, Rye, and flaked Oats. Rye and Oats are not typical ingredients for cream ale but they allow us to keep the alcohol low and still provide a body to the beer. We use a minimal blend of Apollo and Bravo hops to balance the malts and German Alt yeast. This is the one to drink during the Texas summers or when you want to have more than a couple."

COLOR: Unfiltered wheat

POUR: Medium, white head that dissipates quickly

AROMA: grassy

BODY: light

TASTE: Toward the sweet end with light malt and bread notes as well as hints of clove

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Between "leave it on the shelf" and "I Could Drink This"

COMMENTS: "Reminds me a bit of Magic Hat #9; I could drink it in the summer on my patio - after doing some lawn work; Drinkable, but I'm not sure I'd buy it; I get a little ripe banana taste along with some mild spiciness; Pretty light-bodied with a bready taste and not much from the hops."

[In case you were wondering: A cream ale is basically a pale ale, often brewed with adjuncts such as corn and rice to lighten the body, which may undergo a period of lagering after the initial top fermentation. Or it may be combined with a lager. Generally lightly hopped with a pretty subdued hop and malt presence. Like most styles since the inception of the Craft Beer Revolution, however, various brewers may tweak the style with a stronger hop influence. Broadly speaking it is a light bodied, well carbonated beer with a dry finish.]


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Spoetzl Brewery, Shiner, TX; STYLE: IPA; ABV: 6.0%; IBUs: 55; HOPS: Crystal, Bravo, Centennial

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "The first India Pale Ale in our 106-year history, Wicked Ram IPA combines perfectly balanced floral and citrus flavors with a bold aroma and a crisp, refreshing finish...You'll want to grab this beer by the horns."

COLOR: Cloudy, unfiltered golden wheat

POUR: Little less that Decent head

AROMA: Not a big aroma, a bit of grass or hay

BODY: Medium

TASTE: Citrus, grapefruit and piney. Little bit of caramel on the backend


COMMENTS: "Pretty good - I could definitely drink this; Definitely not a Shiner Bock; Tastes like an IPA; Very acceptable; Nice little malt backbone to it; A light IPA; Interesting to see Shiner go with an IPA since they tend to stick to more mainstream beers; Kind of a session IPA really."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Ranger Creek Brewing and Distillery, San Antonio, TX; STYLE: Red IPA; ABV: 6.3%; IBUs: 65; HOPS: Nugget, Zeus, Chinook, Cascade.

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "This homage to one of the Lone Star State's most beloved songwriters is a Red IPA great for Texas weather. It has a strong malt backbone with an assertive bitterness of sticky sweet American hops. Red Headed Stranger pairs with tamales, Texas barbecue, rich blue cheese and poached pears...Hops are a cousin to one of this musicians's favorite plants, so we think he would approve of this delicious beer."

COLOR: Unfiltered red

POUR: Near Guinness Class head

AROMA: Bready, yeasty

BODY: Bit beyond Medium

TASTE: Bread up front then bitter on the end. Nice mesh of malt and hop flavors. While the malt dominates, nice hints of floral and piney hop come through.

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Between "I Could Drink This!" and "Can't Get Enough!"

COMMENTS: "This is great stuff; Nice red IPA; Nice and hoppy; Being a Red I'd expect it to be even more malt forward - yet it is surprisingly hoppy; A bit of sorghum up front, kind of molasses-like taste, very pleasant; There's a kind of warm bread dough aroma that is very appealing; I like this beer a lot."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Revolver Brewing Co., Granbury, TX; STYLE: American IPA; ABV: 6.5%; IBUs: 50; HOPS: Apollo, Citra, Centennial, Saphir

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "Persistently drinkable, this citrus-forward IPA is brewed with Apollo, Citra, Centennial, and Saphir hops. The beer is pale with enough malt body to support the hop and malt sweetness to bring a pleasant herbal finish."

COLOR: Unfiltered honey

POUR: Decent Head with small, tight bubbles and nice lacing.

AROMA: Strong pine scent

BODY: A bit more than medium

TASTE: Nice hop bitterness with solid citrus and pine notes dominant.

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Pretty close to full-blown "Can't Get Enough!"

COMMENTS: "Big citrus-y taste; Not in-your-face IPA, but a definite IPA; Hop forward, not a big malt taste; Body still seems a bit more than medium despite the lack of strong malt; I get a little bit of malt sweetness here, maybe caramel, but not real big; It's a very nice beer; The pine comes out in the aroma, the taste hits some nice tropical fruit notes, grapefruit, maybe a little earthiness there as well; Be nice to be able to get this in the Northeast."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Real Ale Brewing Co., Blanco, TX; STYLE: India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.60%; IBUs: 62; MALT: English Crystal; HOPS: blend of American hops.

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "Texas has more buried treasure than any other state. (Seriously, Google it.) That fact was the inspiration for Lost Gold. English Crystal malts give this IPA a rich golden-orange hue and a subtle, yet firm, malt background. Bright and citrusy with grapefruit notes, Lost Gold features an abundance of American hops that always mark the spot. Don't worry, however, you won't have to hunt for this treasured favorite. It's available year round all over Texas."

COLOR: Unfiltered honey-orange

POUR: Somewhat beyond Decent Head

AROMA: Somewhat of a butterscotch aroma

BODY: Medium

TASTE: Sweet up front with a butterscotch/toffee sweetness vibe. Somewhat unique flavor, bright, citrusy. Has a kind of session IPA feel to it

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Just below the "I Could Drink This" rating, though definitely drinkable.

COMMENTS: "A little too sweet for me; I don't really care for it, maybe a bit too fruity or something; I don't mind it, I'd drink it; Has a kind of a light vibe, I'd like a little more malt I guess to balance the hops; It's an okay beer but wouldn't be my first choice."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Karbach Brewing Co., Houston, TX; STYLE: India Pale Ale; ABV: 6,6%; IBUs: 70; MALTS: 2 Row Pale, Medium Crystal, Dark Crystal, Munich, Biscuit; HOPS: German Magnum, Cascade, Amarillo, Citra, Simcoe, East Kent Goldings

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "He lurks in the shadows, waiting in bold anticipation. He's surprisingly bitter. Bitter about something. Legend has it that he feasts on those with fresh hops coursing through their veins. This dry-hopped, Texas IPA has a flavor as defiant as the Hopadillo himself. It's packed with the bracing bitterness of hops from around the world that this creature craves. He's comin' to get ya. You've been warned..."

COLOR: Unfiltered amber

POUR: Big, bold near Guinness-class head


BODY: Between Medium and Full

TASTE: Grapefruit, pine, with a biscuit-y malt for balance - maybe a bit of caramel, but fruit-forward hops dominate at first then kind of balances out. Moderate bitterness.

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Very near "Can't Get Enough!"

COMMENTS: "Hop forward - balanced by the malt; Complex; My favorite so far; Tastes like another one; Interesting mix of hops flavors here - piney, citrus but maybe some floral; The aroma is faint, not the most pleasant, and doesn't really do the taste justice - by that I mean it tastes a lot better than it smells."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Deep Ellum Brewing Co., Dallas, TX; STYLE: American IPA; ABV: 7%; IBUs: 70; HOPS: American hops

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "For an IPA to bear our hometown name, it better be potent. So we loaded it with our favorite American hops for a bitter punch. And with some over-the-top tropical fruit, citrus, pine and floral aromas and flavors, you;ve got one big Texas IPA, deserving of the Deep Ellum name."

COLOR: Unfiltered amber

POUR: Near Guinness-class head, well carbonated with tight bubbles. Long lasting head.

AROMA: Not a strong aroma, a bit of pine and citrus

BODY:Close to full bodied

TASTE: Nice hop bitterness early on, tropical fruit, pine, bit of orange peel, grapefruit with a butterscotch sweetness for balance.


COMMENTS: "Butterscotch sweetness; Hits you hard on the front - mellows on the tail-end; Gets your attention right away; You get the bitterness of the hops early, then there's that sort of caramel malt sweetness that comes through; Nice IPA, kind of unique, not really West Coast nor East Coast; Interesting mix of flavors here, they work nicely."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Community Beer Company, Dallas, TX; STYLE: India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.6%; IBUs: 85; HOPS: Mosaic

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "This is not your average IPA. From the incredible nose, to the amazing finish, this IPA is one that both session drinkers and beer nerds alike will love...The beer gets its name from a new hop variety named 'Mosaic,' which is predominantly where the immense, raw hop aroma and flavor is derived...The word 'Mosaic' is also representative of the diverse range of individuals that make up our community."

COLOR: Copper

POUR: Approaching Guinness-Class head

AROMA: Dank - biggest nose of the day. The aroma bursts out with the pour.

BODY: Relatively full-bodied

TASTE: Big grapefruit/cirtus/tropical fruit flavors to start, then a pleasant caramel malt foundation comes through


COMMENTS: "A pretty darn good beer - I love it; Enough malt to give it some heft (depth of character); True to the style; Really nice hop/malt balance - neither overwhelms the other, they work in harmony to give the beer a nice complexity; Great beer."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Rahr and Sons Brewing, Fort Worth, TX; STYLE: Double IPA (Limited Release); ABV: 9.2%; IBUs: 85 

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "Named after Fritz' German Wire-hair Pointer, Schnapps, Drahthaar is a big, bold, assertive Double IPA. It is everything you would expect and unexpect. Hops dominate, but a sweet maltiness is there just enough to compliment and balance...A hop lover's dream. This puppy is double dry hopped to give an aroma that will linger with your taste buds until you open the next bottle. A dose of sugar is added to the alcohol, while letting the hops show their true potential."

COLOR: Unfiltered tangerine peel

POUR: Decent pour with good lacing

AROMA: Butterscotch mostly, kind of sweet aroma

BODY: Full bodied

TASTE: Sweet taste of butterscotch and tang (sort of artificial orange taste)

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Between "Leave it" and "I Could Drink This" - One of those we'd order in a bar if it was between this or a mega brew.

COMMENTS: "Hoppiness almost disguises the alcohol; Off the wall with the alcohol; I'd leave it over most of the ones we've tasted today; Leaves a kind of off-taste on the tongue; Too sweet for me; I know Rahr and Sons brew mostly German style beers so this is a bit out of their wheelhouse perhaps; Not really a fan." 


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Karbach Brewing Co., Houston, TX; STYLE: Double IPA; ABV: 9.5%; IBUs: 85; MALTS: 2 Row Pale, Medium and Dark Crystal, Munich, Biscuit; HOPS: German Magnum, Amarillo, Citra, Cascade, East Kent Goldings, Hallertau-Mittelfreuh, Sapphir.

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "It's a job! And a hazardous one at that. Benefits, you ask? I hardly think so. But the show must go on. So, it's with bravado that the Rodeo Clown takes his place in the arena lights. Whether or not he's insane is not important right now. It's with grit and intensity that the Clown steps in the path of almost certain destruction."

COLOR: Deep amber

POUR: Near Guinness Class Head with tight bubble

AROMA: Strong alcohol aroma dominates

BODY: Full

TASTE: Sweet candy flavor, horehound, and alcohol

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Like the last one, a bit beyond "Leave it" - we'd take it over anything Bud makes, but that sets the bar pretty low.

COMMENTS: "It's a strong one; Overpowering taste is alcohol; Sweet, overly so, big beer; Similar to the last one in that it has an almost cloying sweetness despite the abundance of hops used and the 85 IBUs; It's that kind of candy-like sweetness that I just don't care for."

That's it for the Texas beers. Some really terrific beers in this bunch. Below is a rough ranking of our favorites to our least favorite. 

1. Mosaic IPA - Community Beer Co., Dallas, TX - Great nose, great taste. Nice balance of hops and malt, the complexity of taste helped it win the day.
2. Deep Ellum IPA - Deep Ellum Brewing Co., Dallas, TX - Nice bitter bite with big hop up front followed by a pleasant butterscotch/toffee maltness.
3. Hopadillo IPA - Karbach Brewing Co., Houston, TX - Right up there with the first two, nicely balanced, very tasty IPA.
4. Ironhead IPA - Revolver Brewing Co., Granbury, TX - Another terrific IPA, this one not quite as balanced as the the others, more hop-dominant, but a very good beer.
5. Red Headed Stranger Red IPA - Ranger Creek Brewing and Distillery, San Antonio, TX - We really liked this a lot. Being a red it was a bit more malt forward, but it still brought a nice hop finish. A nice bready maltiness.
6. Shiner Wicked Ram IPA - Spoetzl Brewery, Shiner, TX - A very nice effort from a brewery known more for middle of the road lagers. A very acceptable IPA, though nothing that will blow your socks off.
7. Lost Gold IPA - Real Ale Brewing Co., Blanco, TX - We found this to be a bit too much on the fruity/sweet side. Just kind of okay.
8. The Lawn Ranger Cream Ale - Cedar Creek Brewery, Seven Points, TX - Gerry snagged this one primarily for the name. Since cream ales are not quite our thing, our evaluation might not be the most fair. Drinkable, but not our choice of styles.
9. Drahthaar Double IPA - Rahr and Sons, Fort Worth, TX - We found this to be too sweet and a bit overwhelmed by the alcohol.
10. Rodeo Clown Double IPA - Karbach Brewing Co., Houston, TX - See above.


This month we ended up with an embarrassment of riches. Not only did Gerry generously provide us with a bunch of Texas brews, Yonkers Brewery sent us a few beers to check out. Alas, how could we refuse? So without further ado, our thoughts on some Yonkers brew:


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Yonkers Brewing Co., Yonkers, NY; STYLE: Kolsch; ABV; 4.7%; IBUs: 23;

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "A clean, crisp, delicately-balanced beer usually with a very subtle fruit and hop character. Subdued maltiness throughout leads into a pleasantly well-attenuated and refreshing finish."

COLOR: Pale gold

POUR: Decent white head

AROMA: Faint aromas of grass and hay, maybe a bit sweet-smelling

BODY: Fairly light bodied

TASTE: Subtle fruit and malt characters. A bit bready with understated hops

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: In all honesty, this is not a style we would, as a group who prefer hoppier beers or big stouts and porters, seek out.

COMMENTS: "Not a fan of the style - having said that, this would make for a refreshing beer; If you are a fan of the Kolsch style, I suspect you would really like this; The flavors are subtle, but it's a pleasant beer."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Yonkers Brewing Co., Yonkers, NY; STYLE: Northeast IPA; ABV: 6.5%; IBUs: 55; MALT: Oats; HOPS: Simcoe, Nelson Sauvin, Belma, Eureka, Amarillo, Mosaic

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "Fruity and refreshing."

COLOR: Unfiltered wheat

POUR: Somewhat decent head with some lacing

AROMA: Floral with hints of citrus

BODY: Between Medium and Full

TASTE: Bright citrus, tropical fruit flavors dominate with a dry finish

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Pretty close to "Can't Get Enough!"

COMMENTS: "You can really taste the Mosaic hops; Delicious; Nice citrus/grapefruit/pine taste; Not much of a malt presence, but a real nice, refreshing beer; Crisp; I'm a fan, wish we could get this around here; One of those IPAs that are just plain pleasant, you could settle into a few of them; Good beer."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Yonkers Brewing Co., Yonkers, NY; STYLE: American IPA; ABV: 6.0%; IBUs: 60

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "A decidedly hoppy and bitter, moderately strong American pale ale, showcasing modern American or New World hop varieties. The balance is hop-forward, with a clean fermentation profile, dryish finish, and clean, supporting malt allowing a creative range of hop character to shine through."

COLOR: Hazy gold

POUR: Decent white head

AROMA: Citrus, grapefruit

BODY: Bit shy of Medium

TASTE: Big hop bitterness, juicy citrus and tropical fruits with mild malt backbone.

OVERALL IMPRESSION; Pretty close to "Can't Get Enough!

COMMENTS; "Kind of a lighter version of Sunbeam; I get a mix of citrus, grapefruit, maybe some pineapple in there with a bit of pine; Nice, solid IPA; Not a lot of malt, the hops definitely dominate; Another good one from Yonkers; Body's a bit light, makes it a pretty easy-drinker; I like it."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Yonkers Brewing Co., Yonkers, NY; STYLE: Double IPA; ABV: 8.5%; IBUs: 75; HOPS: NW Pacific hops

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "Intensely hoppy pale and drinkable strong pale ale, brewed with 25 pounds of Pacific NW hops."

COLOR: Sort of a gold/copper almost orange

POUR: Decent Head

AROMA: Grassy with a bit of grapefruit

BODY: Between Medium and Full

TASTE: Citrus, grapefruit, tropical fruit, with a kind of added spiciness, bit of pepper


COMMENTS; "More balanced than the previous two with a bit more malt; Not real sweet, though, like some of the Doubles out there; Hops still dominate, but there's some maltiness there as well; There's also a kind of peppery, spicy taste - subtle - but I like it, it works well with the intense hoppiness; Really tasty double."

Yonkers Brewing fared well with us. Three out of the four we sampled fit nicely into our particular taste wheelhouse. While we appreciated the Kolsch, that's just not a style we would seek out. But the three IPAs were fantastic. The Double IPA we liked much more than any of the Texas doubles we tried. It had a nice balance that made it very drinkable and the alcohol was not overpowering, but added some complexity to the overall taste. The two IPAs were also very good - much more hop-forward with lots of grapefruit/hoppy bite to them.

Wonder what we had to say about a particular beer? Check out our BOTB Tested Beers page for an extensive list of all the beers we've reviewed and a quick 4 star rating.

Next month - New York State Beers.


The BOTB Guys