Bayou City Beer Club

City Orchard Is Here to Help Boost Houston's Cider Game

Plus, we review Saint Arnold Double Art Car and, oh wow, a Golden Girls beer is coming.

By Timothy Malcolm January 10, 2020

From a new cidery to beers paying homage to Nickelodeon game shows and everyone's favorite resident from St. Olaf, there's a lot going on in the beer (and cider) world this week. Catch up below.

News & Events

Welcome the newest cidery to take shape in Houston: City Orchard. Founded by Mat Smith, Patrick Kwiatkowski, and Clay Watson, the production facility and taproom at 1201 Oliver St. in Sawyer Yards sources apples from Smith's family farm and neighboring orchards in Western New York, plus from other areas surrounding the Great Lakes.

You'll find five ciders on tap, though City Orchard's partners are planning to serve at least a dozen at a time when fully operational. The flagship beverage is Silver Tip, a semi-dry cider with light sweetness and a four-apple base. And you can already find its bone-dry cider King Blossom in bottles at grocery stores around Houston. 

The taproom is bright inside with natural-wood and juicy red tones. Like at Politan Row, a "tree" sprouts from the bar with branches that fan out at the ceiling. There's additional space outside, where you'll find an expansive lawn and patio seating for about 100-120. City Orchard will open Wednesday.

Beer Releases

Back in St. Olaf, Eureka Heights made this beer for Betty White's 98th birthday. The beer is called Rose Nylund, of course, and it's a white IPA brewed with Galaxy, Citra, and Mosaic hops and aged on rose hips. It comes out Jan. 17 at the brewery's annual Betty White birthday bash.

8th Wonder is now canning its New England-ish IPA Cloud 8. The 6.1 percent ABV beer that started as a collaboration with iconic brewery Mikkeller and was born in August 2019 is available in can at Krogers across the area.

Karbach has announced the soon-to-be-released Southern Wheat, a Belgian-style white ale brewed with citrus sourced from the Rio Grande Valley. [Link]

Last week, Spindletap feted the greatest babyface of the Golden Age of Pro Wrestling; next up is arguably the greatest heel: Sleeper Hold DIPA honors "Rowdy" Roddy Piper with an 8 percent ABV blitz of Galaxy, Simcoe, and Wai-ti hops. Coming soon. [Link]

This week, Ingenious had a can release that was also soaking in real nostalgia for millennial beer drinkers. If you can find them still, the beers include Double Splat DIPA, a double IPA dry-hopped with Citra, Mosaic, and El Dorado hops that pays homage to classic Nickelodeon game-show Double Dare. Another beer that was part of the release, Bring Coffee, nods to Friends culture—well, at least the logo is designed like Central Perk's. [Link]

At Astral, check out the newbie Psychonaut, a New England IPA with Strata and Citra hops. [Link]

B-52 has two cans coming out on Saturday. The beers are A-Frame, a Citra and Simcoe West Coast-style IPA, and Ink Blots, a Citra and Mosaic double-dry-hopped New England. [Link]

Saint Arnold Double Art Car: Potentially a new Houston classic.

Beer Reviews

Saint Arnold Double Art Car: This is a big move by Saint Arnold, taking arguably its most popular beer and offering a new expression (aka more malts and a Citra punch to match). Art Car is a fantastic beer, and Double amps up the tropical notes with a heavier smack of bitterness. Citra obviously is overdone to this point, but Saint Arnold wisely keeps its impact low enough; moreover, I'm so glad the brewery declined to go hazy here—no need to be cute. While drinking Double Art Car, I couldn't help but think about Sixpoint Resin, an everyday double IPA if there ever was. Sadly Double won't be around all the time, but if Saint Arnold changes its mind, it could have a Texas version of Resin on its hands, an everyday DIPA fit for any beer fridge. Rating: 9.5

Saint Arnold Texas Winter IPA: Let's visit the second Saint Arnold wintertime IPA to come out this year, this one loaded with Texas-sourced grapefruit. Also here: a dry-hopping of Galaxy and a pile-up of tropical and citrusy hops in the boil: Columbus, Simcoe, Cascade, and more Galaxy. That hop profile really shines here, with a big, bitter punch at the top and a nice grapefruit flavor lingering on the way out. It's seriously enjoyable, bigger than I expected, and a perfect foil for your sweeter, more fruit-forward grapefruit IPAs of summer. Another big win for Saint Arnold. Rating: 8.7

Platypus Kiss My Piney: Let's finish with our third winter IPA, this limited West-Coast-inspired concoction from Platypus. At 7.6 percent ABV, it's arguably a double, and it certainly tastes like it, with a big blitz of resin and pine. That's thanks to generous amounts of Simcoe (which can bring out a smoky grass flavor) and Denali and Zythos (both have pine flavors deep in the mix). What's unfortunate is it's too strong, and I can't quite get a handle on sweetness. I imagine that Kiss My Piney would make a great pairing for spicy foods, so keep that in mind when you're at Platypus, which has a full kitchen. Rating: 6.6

Explanation of ratings: 9.5-10: as good as the best beer in America; 9-9.4: the best beer in Houston; 8-8.9: among the better beers in Houston; 7-7.9: really good beer; 6-6.9: try this beer at least once; 5-5.9: if you’re stuck, this won’t hurt; 3-4.9: among the lowest-quality beers in Houston; 0-2.9: as bad as the worst beer in America.

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