The Legend

Beer Review: Saison Dupont

Style: Saison/Farmhouse

ABV: 6.5%

Drink if you like: Clean flavors, Belgian farm hands, Boston Celtics, grass, summer.
Although we’ve mentioned this glorious beer in previous articles, such as here, here, here, here, and here…it only recently came to our attention that in three years of beer blogging and many, many bottles of this wonderful liquid flowing through our livers, we’ve never formally reviewed Saison Dupont. Please forgive us for this egregious error which we will correct….NOW!

Saison Dupont“The Legend” as Saison Dupont is often referred to in beer geek circles around the world, didn’t earn this moniker with a quirky label, clever name, or mass marketing. This industry classic has survived years of imitation and still remains the glittering benchmark of the Saison style.

I didn’t have to go far to get my hands on this beer. This has been a staple in my cellar for quite some time. A glance at the yellow and white checkered label warms my soul. I slowly remove the cage and loosen the cork. POP! The complex aroma instantly fills the room.

Saison Dupont pours golden yellow with residual haze. Yeast sediment clings to the bottom of the bottle. A hard pour reveals a frothy white head, reminiscent of a healthy Belgian design. Beautiful lacing forms between sips. The nose blends notes of bread, citrus, great sour funk, coriander, and faint earthy hops.

The taste requires some time to process. “Complex” is an understatement. At first gulp, sweet fruit flavors lightly coat the tongue. Think peach and orange peel. This initial welcome is immediately followed by an onslaught of chewy bread, pepper, bananas, grass, and dank barnyard notes. Belgian funk is generously intertwined into these flavor layers as this clean and crisp beer plays out. The thin body, dryness, and high carbonation combine to play a significant role in the enjoyment of this beer.

Larry Bird

“If I sink this three pointer, I could celebrate with a Saison Dupont!”

I thoroughly enjoy the Saison style and have many favorites. In the end, I can’t help but compare each one of them to The Legend, Saison Dupont (not Larry Bird…but similarly awesome).

We gave this beer a rare rating of 5 Diamonds. You can find this beer all over our great state.
5diamonds

 

Ashland Amber…Will You Marry Me?

Beer Review: Caldera Ashland Amber

Style: Amber Ale

ABV: 5.4%

Drink if you like: Balanced flavors, caramel, trophies, ninjas, and aluminum.

Much to the delight of craft beer enthusiasts, great beers are rolling into our state at a frequency we’ve never before seen. Brewers have taken notice of the evolving palates in Arkansas and they’re happy to oblige us.

From the Pacific Northwest, we’re proud to welcome Caldera Brewing Company and one of their flagship beers, Ashland Amber. While the Amber style may not sound as sexy as a DIPA or a Sour, this is a beer you would take home to meet your parents. The marrying type. Ashland Amber has made quite a name for itself over the past few years on the competition circuit. In 2014 alone, Caldera Ashland Amber has racked up the following prestigious awards:

Gold Award – Category: Amber Ale – Competition: North American Beer Awards
Silver Award – Category: Amber Ale – Competition: Los Angeles Beer Awards
Silver Award – Category: British Style Pale Ale – Competition: Australian International Beer Awards
Silver Award – Category: Amber Ale – Competition – Beverage Testing Institute, Chicago, IL

4 awards in 8 months is quite impressive. Before the can is even opened, we know this is something special. We’ll be the judge of that…

Ashland Amber pours clear dark amber brown with great head retention that laces the glass. A quick sniff reveals a biscuity malt with a good dose of caramel. An earthy hop presence is subtle with a detectable scent of pine. The taste of Ashland Amber follows closely to the aroma with an initial greeting of sweet caramel malt, which is the star of the show, but does not overshadow a great balance of floral and citrus hops that add the perfect amount of bitterness. A faint pine flavor resides like a ninja in a dark corner. The medium body and carbonation enhance the drinkability of this beer.

Validated by the many awards it has received over the past year, this Amber is on-point for the style. Caldera has successfully produced a highly drinkable, extremely enjoyable, and well-balanced beer, perfect for any setting. This daily drinker definitely just made our tailgate selection.

This beer is just a few weeks old here in Arkansas and is making its way to stores near you. If you can’t find this beer at your local establishment…ask for it!

We give this beer 4 diamonds:

4diamonds

Arkansas Spotlight: Fayetteville Ale Trail (continued)

We shall continue this week with Chris Butler’s account of beer exploration!   In case you missed last week, click here and delight in joy of a beer blogger’s tour…..or sit there and steam with jealousy.  Either one calls for a beer!

saddlebock-barn

Yes! That’s a brewery!

Next up, set apart from the others for many reasons, but most of all distance, we hit Saddlebock Brewing Company. While it’s not a long way off, just 15 minutes off of Highway 71 Business, it still seems you are in a different world while you enjoy views of the White River. The vision of Steve Rehbock (Chicago transplant, Brewmaster and owner) is one of green and sustainable. He gave us the tour of his gravity fed process, starting on the top of three floors in his barn-designed brewery. The largest in scope with 20 beers being produced, he distributes pressure-capped growlers and 22 ounce bombers throughout Arkansas. He is very engaging and driven; you can feel his passion when he talks about the brews. He talks about hard work and the future of his business, which include plans for a bed and breakfast across the street. Stay tuned for big ideas from Saddlebock

*PROTIP: The scenery and location are unparalleled by the region’s breweries. Go with the refreshing Helles Lager

People love good beer and good beer loves good people.

People love good beer and good beer loves good people.

Onward we traveled, towards Core Brewing Company. Located in Springdale, Core has the edge so far in distribution and in operation. Unfortunately, Brewmaster Jesse Core had a previous engagement on this day. Luckily there was plenty of beer to comfort us, so we each grabbed a pint and began the tour of the impressive facility. Starting with a system that Jesse wrote the code for himself, to the on-site chemistry lab, to the fledgling distillery, and a canning line which is helping with distribution production, you can tell this is a well-conceived operation. There is a visible charm around the brewery and tasting room, which adds to the experience of drinking with a local rising brewery star. They’ll soon be expanding to other states, Mexico, and will be opening a brewpub in Rogers in the coming weeks.

*PROTIP: Strong vision, distribution edge, and plenty of money backing. These guys will be big. Go with Black Lightning Black IPA

Second to last, we hit the newest and northern-most kid on the block, Ozark Beer Company. Brewmaster Andy Coates wasn’t in, but Lacie Bray gave us the lowdown on their concept and the background. Andy has previously worked at Great Divide and Goose Island, pre-ABInBev (think Biff Light), so the chops are there and the beer proves it. Having previously worked at West Mountain, Andy and Lacie came back due to Arkansas passing new liquor and beer laws that are favorable to brewers. They are a great example of a fertile beer-friendly Arkansas brining in serious beer talent. It feels nice to know such great people have chosen your state to make their home. They’ve just begun canning, much to the delight of all in the Northwest Arkansas region. They only make five beers, but they are all SPOT ON. Most are low ABV session beers which certainly showcase living the “Hard Work, Honest Beer” motto they advertise.

*PROTIP: Choose anything: you seriously cannot go wrong

This beer makes us so damn excited.

This beer makes us so damn excited.

fossil-cove-logoAnd finally, our motley crew found our way to Fossil Cove Brewing Co, thanks to our driver, obviously. Greeted immediately by dinosaur bike racks, dogs and a food truck before we even see a menu, this place screams “local.” With Wednesday quiz nights and Friday “Randall Nights” brew master Ben Mills is capitalizing on proximity to the university, the highway, and the Northern Fayetteville shopping traffic. The small brewery, which is maxed out in capacity already, is looking for expansion alternatives as demand continues to grow. Excellent food trucks such as Tyler’s House BBQ service the customer’s needs for food, games, outdoor seating, and TVs for entertainment.

*PROTIP: Try the small-batch SMASH beers

And thus ends the adventures of our merry band of beer bloggers. At least all that is fit to print. Massive thanks again to the Fayettevile Visitors Bureau, Jessica Leonard (our intrepid leader from the Bureau), all of the breweries, the brewers, their staff and of course all the other participants.

You can read Chris’s blog here:  http://astonesthrowandacenturyago.blogspot.com/

Arkansas Spotlight: Fayetteville Ale Trail

Arkansas Beer Blog was recently invited by the Fayetteville Visitors Bureau to a special Fayetteville Ale Trail weekend blogger get-away. We decided to send our intrepid blogger Chris Butler, who is the top gun in our Arkansas Spotlight Series. Let’s give Chris a sad, sad nod at his horrible duty to travel, drink beer, eat food, and recount his experiences.  

passport

A couple weekends ago I enjoyed a special invitation to experience The Fayetteville Ale Trail with several other writers from Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma.  In addition to getting to tour the numerous breweries in the region, we were able to take in a couple more of Northwest Arkansas’ sights. It was a great group of beer lovers touring breweries, drinking beer, talking beer, and sharing beer…..

Yeah, I think you can guess how that went.

Those of us from outside of Fayetteville were generously provided accommodation at The Chancellor hotel, just off the historic square downtown. The hotel has great views in all four directions from atop the hill, is well appointed, staff is helpful, and did I mention that location? It was exceptionally nice; I would certainly direct friends and family in the area here.

Tanglewood

Tanglewood 1420 and Wheat beers

Let’s get going, shall we?

We started Friday night off at Fayetteville’s answer to the corner pub, Tanglewood Branch Beer Company. The furthest south of all the breweries, it’s the place to go where everybody does know your name; cyclists get happy hour, any hour, games sit waiting to be played, and coffee is at the ready at a separate counter. They have a small number of taps divided between their own beers and other craft selections. We arrived and were greeted by the owner and brewmaster, JT Wampler, better known as Wamp. Sitting down with our group, he described his thought process, his philosophy and some great beer stories. Very engaging and likable, it’s easy to see why Fayetteville has rallied around his bar and helped maintain it through ups and downs. This magical place most likely has the best atmosphere of the bunch, and that is saying something. It was a great starting point for our weekend’s journey.
*PROTIP: Best corner bar atmosphere. Proper 1420 is a nice twist on an English Mild

 

abblogoOur second stop on the first night was Apple Blossom Brewing Company, whom I wrote about not long ago. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay long as I had a previous commitment with the wife and oldest two daughters. There are some things more important than craftbeer folks: prioritize! I made the most of my time by grabbing a newer offering, their Gose, while chatting with brewmaster/co-owner Nathan Traw. I was able to grab a quick word with Ching Mong, one of the owners and my interviewee not long ago as well. The Gose was light and refreshing, more salty than sour, but very nice. Sadly, I missed the brewer dinner and tour, which I heard from several other attendees was brilliant.
*PROTIP: Under a year old and full service with lots of promise. The Soulless Ginger is unique and tasty

I’ll skip the extra-curricular activities from the evening after I rejoined on Dickson Street and move right along to Saturday…another time, another post perhaps…

West-Mt

West Mountain Black IPA Nitro

Saturday morning after a stroll in a soft, misty rain through the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market on the square, we convened for lunch at West Mountain Brewing Company for some pizzas, beer and QA with brewmaster Will Gallaspy. They had five of their own offerings on, the Black IPA on nitro chief amongst them in my opinion. As a surprise treat, Will brought out some of his homebrew, a lambic from 2012. This beer proved very nice, and a good showcase of his talents. Buoyed with pizza and beer, we ventured on.
*PROTIP: Located on Fayetteville’s Square provides access to pre or post beer and meal activities. The Black IPA on nitro was the winner.

-To be continued!-

Sounds like Chris is having fun!  We shall continue his Fayetteville Ale Trail series next week.  In the meantime, we will point out that we aren’t jealous of him AT ALL.  Who would want to hop around a beautiful place like Fayetteville and drink beer anyhow? NOPE, NOT JEALOUS AT ALL. SHUT UP.

Special shout-out again to the Fayetteville Visitors Bureau

You can read Chris’s blog here:  http://astonesthrowandacenturyago.blogspot.com/

 

Festival Beers

It’s finally getting hot here in Arkansas. We can now look forward to sweltering heat until Halloween…. Then some wonderful cool air, followed by more sweltering heart.

Many of us beer geeks change our drinking preferences with the weather. Some nights may call for something special, while days may call for something more appropriate or thirst quenching. We are here to give you the down low on two of the newest beers to hit Arkansas, and we like to call them festival beers.

What’s a festival beer? These are the rules:  It must be delicious; you can’t go around and have amazing fun with boring and fizzy biff light. It must be thirst-quenching; you can’t really scratch that itch on a hot day with a stout aged in bourbon barrels with cocoa nibs, whale blubber, espresso and pig ears added.  It must look cool; you just don’t look cool with a biff heavy unless you have a mullet. It must be sessionable; you can’t crush those delicious Belgians without running the possibility of falling back into your festival tent or chairs and making a really funny scene.

We have two amazing beers for you to look for this summer – or at a festival like the Fort Smith Riverfront Blues Fest. (Yes! These beers WILL be there, and I WILL be crushing them!)

Evil Twin Bikini Beer

etbikini

Per Evil Twin’s Website: “Named after atom bomb test grounds, designed by a French car engineer – the bikini was to many a disturbing and degrading creation but fortunately for others a symbol of emancipation. This is attractively light bodied, seductively well balanced and very drinkable Bikini Beer is anything but a sissy beer.”  Those guys at Evil Twin know how to write a beer description, ya know?  This is a beer that was made for long weekends accompanied by lots of beer drinking.  It’s low ABV and low calorie – so you won’t add a gut to that bikini body you rock while dancing to yet another face-melting guitar solo.

Horny Goat Brewing Watermelon Wheat

waterwHorny Goat brewing is new to Arkansas, and we are happy they are starting out strong with what may be the beer of the summer.  With 100% natural watermelon juice added during fermentation, Vienna malt, and plenty of wheat, this beer goes down smooth and leaves your taste buds happy.  Since this canned beer is so new, we couldn’t find a good photo…. luckily I snapped this one just before I crushed it.  And if you find one of the ArkansasBeerBlog beer geeks at the Blues Fest this weekend in Fort Smith, expect to see this beer in-hand.

Pick up any of these beers and infuse flavor into your summer, fishing trip, festival weekend, camping trip, post-mow celebration, overtime office weekend, cookout or healthy jog.  These two beers seem to make everything better…and you can now find them in our beautiful state.

 

What do Cowboys drink for breakfast?

Beer Review: Evil Twin The Cowboy

Style: Smoked Pilsner

ABV: 5.5%

Drink if you like: Light lagers, horses, tumbleweed, American history, campfires, an honest living.

et-cowboy

So you want to be a cowboy…

Cowboys, as known in American history, have been around for hundreds of years. To this day, they are celebrated for being tough, rugged, and fearless.

Follow the steps below to become a real cowboy:

  1. Quit your current job – Being a real cowboy is a full-time position unless your part-time job is on the rodeo circuit. Also, don’t expect to receive a 401K match or stock purchase plan.
  2. Listen to Chris Ledoux 24/7 – His lyrics are basically a guide to becoming a bad ass cowboy. For street cred, you’ll need a hat band made from a skinned rattler, an eagle feather, and a hat pin…all irreplaceable and sourced from close friends that are no longer with us.
  3. Proper clothing – Hat, bandana, shirt, jeans, boots, leather gloves, etc. Be careful here. You don’t want to look like a “drugstore cowboy”. Don’t forget the stiff lasso and worn spurs.
  4. Thousand yard stare – You’ll need this to override the livestock’s senses in order to control them. Easily confused with a “crazy look”, this also helps out in bar-fight situations.
  5. Lever-action .30-30 – A real cowboy carries this gun for smokin’ ‘yotes on the prairie. You’ll also want a pistol for backup. Not too shiny or you’ll get called names.
  6. Leather skin – Literally, your skin needs to have the appearance and protective qualities of animal hide.
  7. Brute strength – Working cattle, throwing bales of alfalfa hay, and mending fences will require Cowboy muscles, not to be confused with Beach muscles.
  8. Work ethic – Work starts at sunrise and ends at sunset. Those cows you pushed 3 miles last week…they have to be pushed again. Also, there are no built-in sick days or vacation days. Toughen up.

dcb

 

…So you don’t want to be a cowboy anymore, but you want to feel like one for a few minutes? 

Follow this simple step to become a provisional cowboy:

  1. Plop down in front of a John Wayne flick and get yourself a cold Evil Twin-The Cowboy. This Smoked Pilsner is cowboy life in a bottle and starts out with a hazy Amarillo sunset golden orange pour. The aroma of pale malt combines with musty barn and campfire smoke. The taste follows with wood smoke, biscuits, sweet malts, and a touch of peppery hops to balance. This is a great Pilsner variant that will take the edge off as you bed down under the stars.

You can find The Cowboy at the following locations:

Colonial Wines & Spirits – Little Rock

The Vineyard – Fort Smith

Poinsett Package – Harrisburg

Professor Bowl – Little Rock

Sodie’s Liquor – Fort Smith

Grapevine Wine & Spirits – Little Rock

Judicious Spirits – Mountain Home

Macadoodles – Springdale

Markham Street Liquor – Little Rock

Midtowne Wine & Spirits – Little Rock

Doe’s Eat Place – Fort Smith

 

What you should be drinking: Prairie Artisan Ales

ABB’s latest great idea is a long and confusing acronym called “WYSBD:XYZ.” While you may think this is a clever and somewhat humorous acronym, the truth of the matter is that one morning we woke up hung over and this was tattooed on our friend Jack’s butt cheeks (insert colon joke here). We still have no idea what the true meaning is, or why Jack chose such a girly font for the tattoo, but we are guessing it’s an Arkansas spotlight feature for breweries– What You Should Be Drinking!

We are christening our first WYSBD article with America’s current dreamy crush for a brewery – Prairie Artisan Ales. Prairie Artisan Ales, or PAA in the spirit of acronyms, was founded by two brothers: Colin and Chase Healey. Chase is the brewer, and Colin is the artist. One makes artistic flavorful beer, and the other creates artistic and thought-provoking label art. From their website, the guys describe their company:

A company started by two brothers. We didn’t start it due to a lack of good beer, or whatever people like to say in this part of their website. We wanted to do something that was awesome. We have the talent, and most importantly the years of experience needed to get it done. So we did it. We have funded the company on our own, and only want to work with people that care about beer, super good beer. Our goal is to show people what is possible when you start with “step one.”

If Arkansas was your standard high school kid who dreams all day about being a star athlete, Prairie Artisan Ales would be the smoking hot girl next door. She has the goods. And we can’t help but questionably stalk her. To put it simply, they make amazing beer.

paalogo

PAA is located next door in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and has secured a new location for a larger brewery: Glenpool, OK. While the rest of ‘Merica tramples over everyone to get a hold of some PAA, we can walk into our best liquor stores and pick these beers off the shelves.  Yes, friends, we can go and grab our beautiful neighbor’s goods anytime we want.  You should be indulging in this wonderful opportunity every week.  Just in case you need it, here are just a few examples of their must-have beers:

Beer: PAA Bible Belt

Style: American Imperial Stout

ABV: 13%

paabb

This beer is a collaboration between PAA and the ever-so-popular brewery Evil Twin. They have taken core elements from Bomb! and Even More Jesus to combine and create a love child of huge imperial stout magnitude. You will find a symphony of flavor in this beer. Sort through the flavors to find espresso, bitter dark chocolate, slight heat and flavor from chilies, a vanilla like you’d find in whiskey, and a combination of roasted malts that leave you with a smooth and dry experience.

paawbnBeer: PAA Prairie Wine Barrel Noir

Style: American Imperial Stout

ABV: 11%

Wine Barrel Noir is more evidence that PAA can master barrel aging. They take their famous imperial oatmeal stout and age it in freshly dumped red wine barrels. This beer features a nose with wood, plum, sugar, and an interesting roast layer.  The mouth feel seems appropriately chewy for such a complex beer; with showcase flavors like barrel wood, red wine with tannic and tart notes, dark berries and so much more.  It finishes very smooth and dry – a wonderful taste note that Prairie is very good at crafting.  You may want to age this one and relive the fun over a few years!

paahopBeer: PAA Prairie Hop

Style: Saison

ABV: 7%

This was my first PAA beer, and to paraphrase what was said after the first glass: “This is gosh darn good stuff right here, gee willikers.” That’s paraphrasing, mind you. Prairie Hop features two of my favorite hops, simcoe and citra, with a masterfully crafted saison. You’ll find notes of peach, mango, apricot and pine, sitting on top of a classic dry finish featuring herbal hints, pepper and fresh grass.

In case you missed our previous review of Bomb! – click here.

In summary, Prairie Artisan Ales is a brewery that has set out to make a huge splash…. and they are doing so very successfully.  Their beers are not held back and aimed at the bud/miller/coors drinker, but rather someone who appreciates flavor.  They started from scratch, and are completely in control of what beer they make, and perhaps even who they make it for. So far, they have found great joy in their neighbors appreciation of good beer – so let’s keep this good thing going!  And remember – YOU should be drinking Prairie Artisan Ales!

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