Karbach Rodeo Clown IPA Review

Hello again, fellow beer-radasses! After sampling a smattering of Houston-brewed beers, thanks to a trade with a new buddy down that way, I figured I’d put my palate to the test against one of Karbach Brewings’ year-round offerings. This year I’ve had the privilege of trying almost all of them, thanks to some awesome folks, and I’m happy to report that I’ve loved pretty much everyone. (Weisse Versa is a huge win in my book, so if any of ya’ll are down that way… HINT HINT.) Anyhow, I’ll dispense with the witty banter, sit back down on my ever-expanding-slightly-fat ass, and get this show on the road. (I’m modest, ain’t I?)

Karbach Brewing's Rodeo Clown pic courtesy of 5MTKO.com

Karbach Brewing’s Rodeo Clown pic courtesy of 5MTKO.com

Rodeo Clown pours a clear, copper-orange, kicking up a fluffy one-finger head, which lingers around for quite a while. The lacing left behind on the glass as it slowly recedes is fairly thick, and coats the glass heavily on the side if you tilt it, or take a sip. (There might be a formula or use for this as a way to gauge intoxication. Further study is needed, and will be done.) The carbonation is abundant, and serves to hold up the head that remains after a few minutes of sitting untouched.

Loads of dank and citrusy hops leap out of the glass, like a punch thrown by Chuck Norris, and assault your nose. But in a good way. Light hints of bready malt-sweetness help balance out this hop-bomb, and a nip of alcohol and cracker make an appearance as well. The nose on this beer just goes to show the good folks at Karbach know their hops, and aren’t afraid to use them in ridiculous quantities!

On the palate, sweet tropical fruits reign supreme, showing mango, white peach, and plumcot (plum apricot hybrid), all held together by sweet yeast roll bread flavors. The mouthfeel is slick and oily, as Rodeo Clown coats the tongue like cement shoes on a snitche’s feet, and the higher ABV becomes more apparent as it warms. The carbonation is wonderfully light, and only serves to make this monster even easier to drink than it should be, so assuming you don’t have any plans to use your higher brain-functions for the rest of the evening, after two of these, you should be feeling right as rain.

As I previously mentioned, I love me some Karbach beer, and highly recommend you try any and all of it that you come across. This little number is no exception, earning itself a place in my bacon-clogged little heart, as it will yours, if you give it a chance.

Keep your eyes open for my next review, and beer-blogs, as well as some new event reviews from my pal and fellow contributor, Danielle! Also, if you have any questions, beer-drinking, beer-brewing, or anything else beer related, feel free to reach out to me at Mattdabeerguy01@gmail.com and I’ll be happy to talk to you. Have a “Hoppy” day Friends!


Check out the new label art for Founders Brewing's Dark Penance IPA

Check out the new label art for Founders Brewing’s Dark Penance IPA

Founders Brewing Co. announced today that it will introduce Dark Penance, an Imperial Black IPA, as a specialty release this October 2014 with availability through the end of the year. Dark Penance will be on draft and in 4 pack bottles.


Dark Penance is the newest addition to the brewery’s lineup of world class IPAs, which includes Centennial IPA, Red’s Rye IPA, Double Trouble, Devil Dancer and All Day IPA, a session IPA.


“We don’t just add beers to our lineup to have something new on the shelves,” said Dave Engbers, co-founder and vice president of brand and education at Founders Brewing Co. “Our Backstage Series is for experimentation and keeping things fresh, and we still only put those out a few times a year. Dark Penance, on the other hand, went through many recipe iterations before we were willing to put it up there with the other beers that we release again and again, year after year.”

All Day IPA was the last beer added to Founders' regular lineup.

All Day IPA was the last beer added to Founders’ regular lineup.

The recipe for Dark Penance took about a year to develop. That year was mostly spent perfecting the beer’s balance and hop profile. It’s the

first new beer to be added to Founders’ lineup since All Day IPA, which was released in spring 2012 following three years of development.


Dark Penance starts with a heavy malt foundation of Crystal malt for sweetness and just enough Midnight Wheat to push the color to black. The bitterness is huge (100 IBUs huge), but balanced by malt sweetness and alcohol burn. The hop flavors and aromas range from citrus to floral to pine—most everything that hops can be—thanks to a delicious blend of hand-selected Chinook and Centennial hops. The Imperial Black IPA is 8.9% ABV.


“Black IPAs are becoming more common, but Imperial Black IPAs aren’t, and imperializing things is what we do,” said Brewmaster Jeremy Kosmicki. “Plus, we thought this beer would fit in well with our specialty lineup alongside Imperial Stout, Curmudgeon Old Ale and Double Trouble.”


Dark Penance will be available as the follow up to Double Trouble in Founders’ specialty calendar, from roughly October to December, dependent on distributor shipments. It will be released in the on draft and in bottles as of October 2014.



About Founders Brewing Co.

Established in 1997 by two craft beer enthusiasts—Dave Engbers and Mike Stevens—with day jobs and a dream, Founders Brewing Co. brews complex, in-your-face ales, with huge aromatics and tons of flavor. Founders ranks among the top 30 largest craft breweries in the U.S. and is one of the fastest growing. The brewery has received numerous awards from the World Beer Cup and the Great American Beer Festival and RateBeer and BeerAdvocate users often rate its beers among the best in the world. Located in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. For more information read Ben Esely’s Beer Drinkers Society interview with Dave Engbers and visit foundersbrewing.com.
If some of this IPA lingo doesn’t quite make sense, read Matt Householder’s Beer Drinkers Society article on IPA or India Pale Ale.

Popular Local Brew Pub, Uncle Billy’s, Enlists Seasoned Consultants Hans Johnson and Brad Mortensen to Assist with Brewery Expansion

What we can expect to see inside the new Uncle Billy's.

What we can expect to see inside the new Uncle Billy’s.

Uncle Billy’s Brewery & Smokehouse, a popular local brewpub located in the heart of Austin’s restaurant row on Barton Springs Road, will more than double its current brewing system, effectively tripling its brewing capacity. One of the largest brew pubs in Texas, the expansion will accommodate a new 20 barrel Criveller system, providing an annual capacity of approximately 5,000 barrels of craft beer.

Prospective Mock-up of the finished exterior at Unlce Billy's.

Mock-up of what the finished exterior at Unlce Billy’s will look like.

In addition to the new 20 barrel brewery, expansion plans will include renovations to the restaurant, including a new indoor/outdoor island bar with 360 degree service and expanded seating. Uncle Billy’s is also introducing its new Smokehouse Menu featuring a variety of newly created smoked seafood options, in addition to offering a number of food and beer pairings.

After lobbying to pass a bill allowing brew pubs to distribute their own beers, signed by Texas governor Rick Perry last year, Uncle Billy’s began distributing a selection of their house brewed craft beer, including The Green Room IPA and Humbucker Helles, several months ago with overwhelmingly positive results.  We can’t find these and the other Uncle Billy’s brews in DFW yet, but management says, “come September it will definitely be in the realm of possibilities.” Uncle Billy’s has tapped brewery experts Hans Johnson and Brad Mortensen to lead the expansion project.

Hans Johnson has been brewing/commissioning and consulting with new and existing breweries for over 20 years. He has “brewed on everything from showroom breweries with all the bells and whistles to cobbled together dairy equipment held together with duct tape and desperation.”

Brad Mortensen has been brewing professionally since 1996. He served as brewmaster at Legend Brewing Company in Richmond, Virginia for over 7 years followed by brewing for the country’s largest brew pub group at Rock Bottom in Nashville, Tennessee. The duo formed Grain to Glass Consulting in 2014 to “help breweries take their businesses to the next level.”

“Hans and I are 2 long-time craft brewer’s who now consult with breweries all over. We’re really excited to be working with Uncle Billy’s in Austin. Rick and Rich from Uncle Billy’s gave us a call to help with their expansion. Soon we’ll be pulling out their existing 10 barrel brewery and putting in a brand new 20 barrel Criveller system with 6 fermentors and 8 serving tanks.” says Mortensen

Johnson and Mortensen with a client, Steve Scoville of Little Harpeth Brewing.

Johnson and Mortensen working with a client, Steve Scoville of Little Harpeth Brewing.

Johnson and Mortensen’s next task will be to identify a world class, award winning Head Brewer to take over the reins at the expanded Uncle Billy’s brewery. With construction underway thats planned for completion in mid-August and a high demand for Uncle Billy’s craft brewed beers, 2014 is a year of exciting changes for Uncle Billy’s Brewery & Smokehouse.

About Uncle Billy’s
Opened in 2007, Uncle Billy’s Brewery & Smokehouse is located in the heart of Austin’s funky restaurant row on Barton Springs Road. Named after William “Uncle Billy” Barton, whose 1830s tract included the renowned Barton Springs, Uncle Billy’s offers the perfect combination of award-winning, hand-crafted beers and delicious, slow-smoked Texas barbeque. Whether you’re catching a game, entertaining clients or kicking back and enjoying a band on the expansive, shaded outdoor patio, your stay at Uncle Billy’s will be as original as Austin itself.

Uncle Billy’s is located at 1530 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704. Telephone 512.476.0100. Website: http://unclebillys.com.

Best Little Brewfest in Texas: A Lesson in Growth

BLBFIT CrowdLast year, I had the distinct pleasure of attending the first ever Best Little Brewfest in Texas when it was just big enough for one building in the pit area of Texas Motor Speedway. This year, while much was different, the spirit of the festival remained the same and I think that’s what I love most about it. Brainchild of Kim Cloud and Daynor Stinson, it is the only brewfest that I know of where 100% of the proceeds go to charity. That’s right, 1-0-0%. The whole kit-and-caboodle goes to charities chosen by Cloud 9 to prevent teen suicide and assist with Alzheimer’s care. Amazing, I know. BLBFIT’s sophomore debut was situated more centrally in the metroplex this time around, with the City of Lewisville stepping up to the plate and offering Old Town Lewisville as home field. As if that wasn’t surprising enough in its own right, I ran into two councilmembers who were in attendance of the festival and loving it every bit as much as everyone else was. Kudos TJ Gilmore, Neil Ferguson, and City of Lewisville!

Aside from the location change, growth was evident in every aspect of the festival, with the classic car show being an excellent addition to the already varied offerings of entertainment. That alone brought out enough people to pack the tents as soon as 3PM rolled around, and that was only the VIP pour time. The festival was divided into two beer tents, a wine and spirits area, the stage area, and vendor/food area which sounds massive, but was pretty easy to navigate for those of us who spill if we try to drink and walk. My Hop-Headed Beardo/Sidekick-to-Everything-Beer-Related, Anthony, and I entered the North Tent first and wasted no time in starting to fill our sample cards. With new offerings from established local breweries as well as up-and-comers that brought their best to share, it was hard to pick a favorite. So I won’t. Instead, I’ll give you my top three. Drumroll please..

Shannon BrewingShannon Brewing Chocolate Stout – 4.5/5 This beer, to me, is everything a chocolate stout should be and I cannot be happier that they are opening in my backyard. Toasty and chocolaty with hints of coffee and what seemed like vanilla, it had all the flavor of some of its heavier competitors with a crisper finish which bodes well for the hotter months.

Revolver Brewing Fracker Barrel One – 4.5/5 I hate to say it, but I’m not a huge fan of wine.. or things that taste like wine. So when people started putting beer in wine casks, I wrinkled my nose at the thought. But part of my hobby is being a beer guinea pig so I sucked it up and handed over my sample card, and I’m damn glad I did. The tartness from the wine barrels really gives Mother’s Little Fracker some interesting depth and character, but the wine flavor isn’t overpowering.

Tx Ale ProjectTexas Ale Project The Caucasian – 5/5 I don’t even have words for this. It was like dessert in a glass. A ‘white Russian’ Imperial Stout, it tipped its hat to the Dude and presented itself as an insanely drinkable concoction. While probably not a hit with everyone (Anthony doesn’t like the sweet stuff. His loss, more for me!), I thought it was excellent and made me really anticipate what else Texas Ale Project has up their sleeves. Or lederhosen.

While I could go on for days about the beer alone, I can’t neglect the other parts of the festival that made it as awesome as it was. I’m still not a fan of Anthony and Dark Hour Haunted Househaving the entertainment segregated from the rest of the festival, but it didn’t stop Rob Donnelly, Midnight Drive, Driftin Outlaw Band and From Then On from doing what they do best as people came looking for seating after grabbing grub from one of the multiple food vendors, such as; Rudy’s BBQ, Dough Boys Pizza, and YimYam Thai Fusion. There were also plenty of vendors out to peddle their wares to the masses, including Dark Hour Haunted House, Haus of Growlers, Stubby’s Texas Brewing supply, Origami Owl jewelry, and Craft Beer Bitch (Michelle) with her awesome beercan flowers and birdhouses. Special mention to her for the Deep Ellum IPA beercan flower she sent me home with, it’s so pretty!
Craft Beer Bitch
Really I could go on and on about this festival. Aside from the one mishap of not having enough VIP lanyards (sadface), everything went swimmingly…even if it was sometimes an upstream battle in one of the tents that were absolutely packed to capacity. Everyone was friendly, it was organized, there was beer and hometown support, and it was for charity! I can’t wait to see what next year holds once the plaza in Old Town Lewisville is complete. So here’s to Kim and Daynor on another year of a superb festival.

Danielle Goff

Best Little Brew Fest in Texas will combat teen suicide and Alzheimer’s with second year profits

By Ben Esely

Best Little Brew Fest is about to begin its 2014 run this Saturday at 3pm (for VIPs) and 4pm (for General Admission) and I thought it would be good to sit down with Kim and Daynor to talk beer and changing the world with events like Best Little Brew Fest in Texas. Last year Kim Cloud of Cloud 9 Charities and Daynor Stinson formed Best Little Brew Fest, not just for their love of craft beer, but also to bring support and awareness for a couple of causes that are close to their hearts.

BLBFIT’s Tx Motor Speedway location in 2013 (photo by Rasy Ran Photography)

This year’s fest has also moved to the streets of the historic Old Town Lewisville inside two 6,000-square-foot, air conditioned tents. Lewisville’s historic district is more centrally located than last year’s venue and will be able to better accommodate the expected 4,000 thirsty cerevisaphiles. Best Little Brew Fest will also be the first stop for many of the new and upcoming breweries. Plan to meet brewers like Doug Smith (formerly of Fort Collins Brewery) with Audacity Brew House, John Daylett of Frisco City Grainworks, Andrew Smeeton of Four Bullets Brewery, Ben Criksena of Little Elm Brewing Co. and Shannon Carter of Shannon Brewing Co.

Cloud 9 Charities is a 501c3 that holds events to raise money for charities in desperate need of funding. Like other Cloud 9 events, all profits from this fest go to support families and those affected by Alzheimer’s by providing respite care for patients so family members can take care of daily life.
Daynor knows the troubles of being the sole source of care for a family member with Alzheimer’s. “I had gotten my father out of ICU a month or two when, one night, he forgot where a light switch was and fell off a step-down. Luckily it was right outside my room and he only cracked a rib. Eventually he did go to full time nursing assistance.”
Kim’s mother has Alzheimer’s and lives in an amazing place. But she recognizes that many families can’t afford housing like this. “Most days she still knows me. She was only 70 when she was diagnosed and she was sharp. She is now 79. I had an amazing step dad that worked hard and put away for their long-term care. Because of his foresight, she is able to live in an Alzheimer’s care facility. Many afflicted with Alzheimer’s become mean or ornery, but she is full of light. She’s 100% healthy, but this disease is very slowly taking away everything and everyone she knows. My brothers and I are scared to death of Alzheimer’s affecting us. There’s no cure. There’s no prevention yet.”

The profits from this year’s fest will also go to teen suicide prevention that stems from bullying. Kim and Daynor became concerned with the issue of teen suicide after they met the folks behind Rachael’s Challenge during their Bullying Ride. Rachael’s Challenge is named for the first victim of the Columbine tragedy and teaches compassion and kindness to prevent bullying and encourage learning. Profits from the fest will go to Communities in Schools which is a local Denton focused organization that is creating a program to help combat teen suicide through student education and student support very similar to Rachael’s Challenge.

BLBFIT GLASSThis Saturday you can do more than just drinking great craft beer, but also help two very worthy causes. So go purchase your tickets now and have a great time. Check out The Best Little Brew Fest Facebook page for updates and details.

BIG Texas Beer Fest: Because Size DOES Matter

A Beer Event Adventure by Danielle Goff

Big Texas Beer Fest CrowdIt should come as no surprise tthat we Texans like to do things BIG – big trucks, big hats, big buildings, and the like. This frame of mind is spreading like a wildfire into the Dallas craft beer scene (and you will hear no complaints from me) already aware of this, I thought I had some idea of what to expect from my first experience with the Big Texas Beer Fest. While I am relatively new to the craft beer scene compared to a lot of the veterans in the area, I like to think I have a good idea of what’s going on in and around the metroplex. Boy, am I ashamed to have missed BTBF last year! It was hosted inside the Automotive Building at Fair Park and I can honestly say that, despite the gigantic crowd, I never felt like I might be crushed to death by a stampede of beer drinkers when a special tapping was announced. It’s times like these you learn to appreciate the small things.

Odell Taps at BTBF Photo by Brian Martin

Odell Taps at BTBF
Photo by Brian Martin

At last count, there were approximately 417 unique offerings from at least 106 different breweries (up from 350 beers from 90 breweries in 2013). If I wanted to try all of these and still remain conscious, I would have to clone myself about 20 times (I did the math).. and don’t think I didn’t consider it. Since that was, unfortunately, not a possibility, I decided to get to the venue early and stand in the VIP line like a good beer nerd and wait for my friend. The line organization was one of my few complaints (aside from WHY IS THE FEST ONLY 5 HOURS LONG?! ) because the people running the lines outside randomly decided to open three other lines for VIP entrance. So people who arrived later, after us early birds in the first line, were getting to the front of the new lines and therefore gaining access before people who had been waiting for at least an hour. (I swear that made sense in my head.) Anyhow, the line processed pretty quickly thanks, partly, to the volunteers who went out to hand over the swag bags to the people who were in line rather than waiting for them to get through the door. The swag bags had handy-dandy guides inside with a brewery/beer list and map. With this map, my friend and I were able to map out our plan of attack while we waited. Once inside, we headed straight to the merch tables because, inevitably, they always sell out of my size shirt if I wait. Purchase made, we finally made our way once more into the breach.

VIP Line Outside BTBF Photo by Brian Martin

VIP Line Outside BTBF
Photo by Brian Martin

It goes without saying that variety is the spice of life, especially for beer nerds like me who really enjoy the ‘weird’ brews. I’m not just talking sours – I’m talking adjuncts that make the beer sound more like potpourri than beer. So there should be no measure of shock when I say the stand out offerings for me at the festival were things like Elevation’s Señorita Horchata Imperial Porter, No Label’s Don Jalapeño Ale, Texian’s Charlie Foxtrot (with the tasty addition of a raspberry concoction at their suggestion), Armadillo Ale’s Brunch Money, and the much sought-after Founders KBS (which really isn’t all THAT weird, but still mighty delicious).

Beer aside, what I heard of the entertainment from Grand Ramble, The Beef, and Bravo Max was on point. Chad had this to say “We choose music that goes with drinking beer. And that music usually includes banjos, acoustic guitars and rowdy singers.” Despite how fantastic the bands sounded, the music was “out of sight, out of mind” for a lot of people because the stage was completely separate from the beer booths. Food and entertainment were in an outside courtyard. The courtyard was nice when you wanted a breath of fresh air and some elbow room to shovel food from the food trucks into your face, but otherwise the separation seemed to keep a lot of people from enjoying the bands. I finally decided that beer ice cream, while delicious (thanks LUCK), was not sustenance enough to continue drinking the way I was and got myself some sliders from Easy Slider. Good job, me! They were delicious and just what I needed to soak up the suds so I could continue with my second tasting card.
Food Trucks at Big Texas Beer Fest

The Chad and Nellie behind Big Texas Beer Fest Photo by Rasy Ran Photography

The Chad and Nellie behind Big Texas Beer Fest
Photo by Rasy Ran Photography

Chad and Nellie have created something wonderful in this festival and I can only see it getting bigger and better with each year as they work through the few kinks I saw this year. If, for some reason, you have been living in a cave (like I was before) and have not been out to experience this festival for yourself, start planning now to attend next year. You will not regret it.

See you at the taps!

Event: Dank Dog Tasting by Danielle Goff

photo 5Anyone who knows me knows I love craft beer and the community that comes with it. So much so that I formed a group of like-minded folks that I can pitch beer events to and drag out on my occasional visits to World of Beer and various local breweries, et cetera. One of these events was the Love Runs Deep Homebrewing competition put on by Deep Ellum Brewing Company where I met Justin Krey of Dank Dog Brewing. After LRD, we kept in touch through Facebook and he bounced some ideas off of me that I was more than happy to share my opinion on, and I told him about the group of beer nerds I had assembled. Justin, knowing how very important word of mouth is, pitched the idea for having a beer tasting at one of our houses where he would bring some Dank Dog brews and munchies, let us sample them, tell us about them, and get our feedback. How could I say no?

Dank Dog Brewing, as I’ve come to find out, is very much a labor of love as all good craft breweries are. With a French Bulldog as their mascot, it is no surprise to learn that our canine counterparts are an integral part of Dank Dog’s mission in the craft scene. While he didn’t bring the actual mascot to the beer tasting, he did bring a great selection of homebrewed goodness and a willingness to listen and share his love for the craft. The plans were laid for March 1st, and I posted the event in my Facebook group to rally the troops. As we’d done in the past at bottle-shares, we brought food to share and open minds, as well as eager tastebuds. Justin did not disappoint.

Justin Krey of Dank Dog

Dog Lover and Brewer, Justin Krey

Of the four brews Justin brought to showcase, I would have to say that Little Man’s Complex was my favorite, but this is no surprise as stouts might as well run through my veins. As an oatmeal stout weighing in at 5.25% ABV and only 32.4 IBU, it’s not the most powerful I’ve ever had, but easily one of the best with hints of chocolate, coffee, and hazelnut. I’m no beer reviewer and you’ll never see me posting anything on RateBeer or BeerAdvocate, but I gave it a solid 4.5/5 on Untapped.

Next up was 10 Till Midnight, a Belgian Strong Dark Ale with 8.28% ABV and 20 IBU. It was lighter and less sweet than most Belgians I’ve had which probably appealed to me the most. I’m not a huge fan of the cloyingly sweet flavor that comes with some Belgians, so 10 Till Midnight was a refreshing change and seemed almost crisp in comparison.

Justin also treated us to Golden Dog, a refreshing Hefeweizen with 6% ABV and 13.8 IBU. This brew is crisp and pretty mild, a good crossover for people who adhere to the Big Three (or two, as it were) and a great option for Texas summer, whether you be lakeside or poolside.

Last on the list we have Vertigo, an Imperial IPA that I could actually stand. As all my beer friends will inform you, I hate IPAs. I don’t like the bitter, skunky flavor and there are very few I can stand enough to drink a whole pint of. This one is one of those few. With 9.6% ABV and 95.6 IBU, it is a bit of a powerhouse for us non-hopheads but it’s so much more than just a hoppy punch in the taste buds. It has a complex flavor that I really can’t describe, and a slight sweetness to the finish that evens out the usual bitter goodbye kiss most Imperial IPAs seem to have.

Overall, the selection was varied and delicious. While we sipped and munched, Justin gave us some Dank Dog swag as well as insight to where Dank Dog is headed and what they are hoping to achieve. Ultimately, Justin is planning on opening his brewery within the next six months here on the Fort Worth side of the metroplex and looking at a few different locations to figure out which best suits his needs. They are focusing on being a dog/pet-friendly environment and will be running water lines to troughs specifically for our four-legged friends, as well as hosting a variety of rescue foundations and charities during brewery tours and events. All in all, things seem to be looking bright for Justin and Dank Dog, and I am really excited to see where they end up in the next year. Keep an eye out for that little Frenchie in your neighborhood and give Dank Dog a shot!