My alma mater isn’t known for winning football and at homecoming this weekend, I decided I was done with the football game when we were down 42-0 at the half.I decided to pack it in and head for the best little bar on campus, a hole in the wall (actually under the stairs to the chemistry lecture hall) called Valhalla.Originally it was the graduate students’ bar and was once the single largest Shiner Bock account in the city of Houston.These days, while they still have some taps devoted to cheap swill, they are actually a great place to get twelve ounces of craft beer at a really good price.
I had visited earlier in the week for a tap takeover by Brash Brewing, a relative newcomer to Houston’s craft beer scene.Some of you may have had some Brash beers before, as they were being brewed in Massachusetts since Texas beer laws are nothing if not archaic and the brand owner couldn’t own a bar (The Petrol Station) and a brewery.However, with a change in the laws, they’ve built a small brewery here in Houston and are now running a taproom on weekends and selling their beer in the local market.Their product lineup is pretty simple.
EZ-7 is a strong American Pale Ale, checking in at 7% ABV with some up front dank hops and hints of tropical fruit.It’s the “baby” of their beer portfolio, which is saying something, as it only gets better from there.
The baseline IPA is Cali Green, a 9% abv dank bomb, which actually runs a little bitter for my tastes, with some lingering harshness in the finish. Pussy Wagon (which I can barely bring myself to ask for in public) is their double IPA, which has the required bitterness and alcohol bite couched in a blend of juicy fruit fermentation and tropical fruit hops. It’s a favorite of mine.Then things start to get dark.
Cortado is a coffee stout that packs about 10% ABV and an intense coffee aroma.It screams: “Wake up!Time to get drunk!”You can follow that with Abide, which is a similarly profiled imperial milk stout that also features a hint of vanilla. It’s not quite The Dude’s White Russian, but it’s close!Finally there’s Vulgar Display of Power, a massive 14% imperial stout that amazingly manages to not be too alcoholic, too roasty or too sweet.Being a big fan of imperial stouts, I was impressed. This is hard to do well.While I haven’t visited the brewery yet, one of my Saint Arnold co-workers, Vince Mandeville, is the head brewer there and he’s done a great job of getting them off on the right foot.I’ll be interested in seeing how the market adapts to a brewery whose basic offerings start at 7% ABV. One thing I’ll say for sure is that it made my team’s 65-10 homecoming shellacking a heck of a lot easier to endure!
Bev Blackwood II is the Southwest Brewing News Contributing Editor for Texas and has been covering Texas beers for 17 years An award winning home brewer, Bev has also brewed professionally at St. Arnold Brewing Company and was part of the team that brought home Saint Arnold’s first Great American Beer Festival gold medal in 2007. A long time member of Houston’s premiere homebrew club, the Foam Rangers, Bev teaches their Beer Judge Certification Program course and has also taught at Rice University’s Glasscock School of Continuing Studies.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC, its affiliates, or its employees.