Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007
5 gallons, extract/specialty grains
1 tsp Gypsum
½ lb Pilsner Malt
¼ lb Munich Type 1 Malt
¼ lb Caramunich Type 1 Malt
¼ lb cracked Wheat
4 lb Alexander’s Pale Malt Extract
1.4 lb Alexander’s Pale Malt Extract Kicker
1 oz Northern Brewer hops (60 min)
½ oz Saaz hops (30 min)
½ oz Saaz hops (15 min)
1 tsp Irish Moss
1 oz orange peel
1 oz cloves
0.5 oz Coriander seeds, whole
1 tsp Trader Joe's Vanilla bean mash
White Labs WLP400 Belgian Wit Ale Yeast
Step by Step:
Put grains in grain bag or muslin bag. Add gypsum to 2 gallons of distilled water and heat to 165*F. Add grain bag, remembering not to add grains to water above 165*F. Hold temperature at 155*F, stirring grain bag gently from time to time. Leave pot uncovered during this time, allow grains to steep for 25 minutes. Remove grain bag and let drain. Don’t squeeze grain bag! Rinse grains by slowly pouring 1 cup of HOT tap water over top of grain bag. Discard grains. Add 3.5 gallons of of water, malt extract and kicker, and bring to a boil. When boiling starts, add Northern Brewer hops. Calm boil. After 30 minutes of boil, add ½ oz of Saaz hops and Irish Moss. Boil 20 more minutes and add the other ½ oz of Saaz hops along with the spices, ground course.
Original Gravity = 1.040
Final Gravity = 1.010 – 1.012
I'll post the Porter recipe in a later post. Hopefully there will be more photos of the actual beers and how they've turned out soon. John said the Porter tastes great and is close to final gravity.
Friday, November 30, 2007
My friend has access to Binny's Beverage Mart, and luckily, they have a pretty nice website so I made a "wish list" for him, since he tends more towards wine. I also had a few bombers left over from my birthday, so we figured we would have a tasting, of sorts.
What you see pictured from left to right are an Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Weizen, a Koestritzer Schwarzbier, Moylan's Hopsickle Imperial Ale, Three Floyd's Dreadnaught Imperial IPA, Rogue Morimoto Soba Ale, and a bottle of the Chimay Grande Reserve. Not pictured is the Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock, and a bottle of the La Fin Du Monde.
Most of these were very nice. Of course, some were better than others. Some notes:
The Hopsickle and Dreadnaught were both Imperial IPAs. On ratebeer.com, the users rated the dreadnaught (100) just slightly better than the Hopsickle (99). How fortunate to live so close to a brewery that has the #1 imperial IPA in the world. However, my friend, Gumbo, and myself both felt that the Hopsickle was better. You could taste and smell the hops much better on the Hopsickle.
I'm glad I tried the Rauchbiers. Translated, this means "Smoke" beer. While they were interesting, the overpowering smell of smoked ham coming off each one was a bit of a drawback. Not that it was hard to drink them or anything...
Shoreline makes a better schwarzbier (or black lager) than Koestritzer. Sorry, Germany, you're now the second best country at making beer on my list.
I really liked the Chimay. You can see in this photo our glasses of this stuff. Sweet, malty, lots of flavors. I thought this is what a true "Dubbel" was, but I see that this is not a Dubbel but a Belgian Strong Ale. The other Belgian Strong Ale was the La Fin Du Monde ("End of the World" - It's made in Quebec province), which was more golden in color. It was also very nice.
Overall, it was a decent tasting event. Next time, I'd like to have more people to share it with. That's the great thing about beer, there are so many to try, but it's way more fun to share the trials with others.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
What this means is that if you normally stock the fridge with Bud, Miller, Coors, or other Macro beers, it is time to stop. Take this time of year to celebrate the "little guy", the microbrewer, by buying craft beers or stopping in and having a freshly brewed beer at a local brewery.
I know it might be a bit of a challenge. I know you might be worried about getting the Bitter Beer face.
The stuff in the beer that makes it bitter is called hops, and macrobrewers use less "hops-per-beer" than your craft brewer does. So, yeah, it's going to have some flavor, and character. You're going to get used to it. Because right now, America has some of the best beer in the world, and for the most part, you're not going to find it in your local grocery store (unless, of course, you live in northwest Indiana, then you're in luck), or should I say, Wal-Mart.
Here's what I want you to do:
1) Find something you've maybe seen but never tried. Sam Adams is okay, if you can find it. And you can. I would probably avoid the Winter Sampler, as these are darker, higher gravity beers, and they can take some getting used to. Avoid Heineken. If you can find a place that will allow you to make your own six pack, that is the best way to go. Write down the good ones and go back for more of these later.
2) Here's a basic breakdown:
A) Lagers and pilsners are lighter. These are typically what American macrobeers are modeled after. Bud is a lager, and Lite is a pilsner.
B) Try a pale ale. These generally have more of a hoppy taste and can get you interested in other styles. Bass is pretty common, and is pretty much the standard of pale ales. Been around for years. Harp is good, too.
C) Now that you've got a baseline pale ale, try a Sierra-Nevada pale ale. This thing borders on the edge of India Pale Ales, which I'll get to next. A bit more hoppy than a Bass or Harp.
D) India Pale Ale. If you get to this point, you're starting to improve your palate. You're getting used to the hops.
I'll cover more styles as the days go by. Remember, to really enjoy beer, pour it from the bottle into the middle of the glass. Don't try to avoid building a nice, foamy head. Look at the beer. How's the color? Darker than a macrobrew? Probably. Because it's got body, baby! Smell the beer. What do you smell? Hops? Flowers? Pine cones? That's good stuff! As you drink the beer, notice if there is any lacing (that's where the foam sort of sticks to the side of the glass and leaves a residue as you drink the beer). Have a good one!
Recommendations: Sierra-Nevada Pale Ale, Harp, Dogfish Head 60-minute and 90-minute IPA, Highland IPA, Harpoon IPA, Three Floyd's Dreadnaught IPA
Sunday, November 11, 2007
But boy is this Cherry Stout nice. Pours like motor oil left in your car for 3 years. Pretty, red-brown head, and as you drink it, the lacing on the glass slowly disappears. Tastes of chocolate, coffee and cherries. It's very nice. Photo courtesy of this guy. That's not my Pac Man glass. Although, it is sort of cool.
It's not like you're gonna drink more than two of these in one session, and even then, two may be too many. But still, it's a nice little treat, especially during the winter season. You can actually buy a keg of this stuff. Definitely something to consider if I owned my own brewpub...
Friday, November 2, 2007
Got about 7 Spaten Oktoberfest in there, a New Holland Dragon's Milk bomber, a bomber of Three Floyd's Munsterfest, Dreadnaught, and Behemoth, and a bomber of the Stone Arrogant Bastard. What you can't see are two Magic Hat Fall Mystery Beers, and a big bottle of Dogfish Head Black and Blue in the door.
Over on the other side of the "cellar" I got 4 bottles of 2007 vintage Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout, a bottle of Stone Imperial Stout, and two bottles of Goose Island Pere Jacques. I doubt the Stone lasts much longer. I want to do a side-by-side comparison of it to a bottle of the Dark Lord. Maybe in December?
So whaddaya got in your fridge?
Thursday, October 25, 2007
No worries, once we got there everyone was drinking out of pint-sized white plastic cups. Made sense. They had a four keg set up with the Beltaine (Scottish Ale), Li-Ko-Ki-We (Kolsch), Queen Mum (Double IPA), and the Dim-Wit (Uh, Wit Ale).
Plus, they had all you can eat ribs and chicken, as well as a really good crab dip with some sweet crackers, and some pasta salad. I think there was some smoked salmon and chocolates for desert. My wife, at one point, asked Sam, the proprietor, what was for desert, and he said, "Beer."
There were two sets of bags (or for you rural Indianans, "cornhole") games set up, but other than that, it was set up for people to meet and talk to each other. It was a nice day, as well.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Saturday, October 20, 2007
There was a lot of good beer at the P&C Grocery near where Aunt Helen lives. However, it was only scratching the service, once I discovered Wegman's. Anyhow, I just wanted to get a sixer, and there it was, Magic Hat #9. I couldn't remember where I read about this beer, only a statement like, "and up in Vermont, they like their beer with a little bit of apricot, such as the Magic Hat #9." So I was pretty excited about being able to try this beer. Only thing is I hate getting six of something I've never tried. I thought maybe I should get the Saranac sample, but I really wanted to try the #9, so I got it instead.When I tried it, I was a little disappointed. It was neat, but I didn't think it was really anything that special.
Also, when I got to the house where we were hanging out that evening, they also had a couple of bottles of the Circus Boy hefeweizen there. Usually, I am leary of American hefeweizens and wheat beers. Except for Three Floyd's Gumballhead Wheat, I've usually been less than impressed. So, overall, I wasn't too impressed with Magic Hat.
Not that I was willing to give up on them. While there, we went to Dinosaur Barbecue, which in itself is an experience. They had Magic Hat Jinx on tap there. Abbe had tasted both the #9 and Circus Boy, and enjoyed them. She ordered a Jinx while we were waiting for our table. I got it for her, and when they poured it, I thought, "It sure looks kind of dark." After I tasted it, though, I thought she would like it. Sort of smokey flavor with a little annis and fruit aftertaste. She did like it.
On the way out of town, we picked up 2 twelve-packs of their Night of the Living Dead samplers. The sampler contained 3 each of the Circus Boy, Jinx, #9, and a Mystery Beer. After we got back, I did some research and it appears that they were serving this Mystery Beer on tap at their brewery, and it was a Double Abbey. I tried it without knowing this, and thought that it was some kind of IPA with a sweeter aftertaste, like many of their beers.
Last night I had another Mystery Beer (still great) and a Circus Boy. I really wasn't looking forward to the Circus Boy, but this time I drank it slowly while editing the genres of the songs on iTunes. I really like it. It's got a nice, wheaty taste, with slight banana hints, and a smooth honey flavor, almost. I could really have gone for putting a lemon in the glass for a final enhancement.
It's funny, because Magic Hat appears to be very good at making light, drinkable ales. A lot of brewers are going for big beers these days. "This is a double imperial IPA that has 21% alcohol by volume (ABV)." Which, is nice, if you want to share it or just take a nap. But I really can appreciate what Magic Hat is doing, and I would totally recommend trying anything by these folks, especially if you want an enjoyable sipping beer. I'm glad Magic Hat isn't trying to bash me over the head with their product, but provide very tasty and flavorful beer.
Friday, October 12, 2007
This is Abbe's mug. I kind of think the bubbles in the bottom are sort of girly. It's a nice mug and I think it fits her personality well. All the mugs hold more than a pint, but you only paint the pint price when you are in the mug club. The actual cost of each mug is $65, so if you move away, the mug is yours. I should have taken a picture of the mug with the beer inside because it actually enhances the color of each mug. I got a wit beer in mine, and the bartender and waitresses were like, "You should get a darker beer, because that would really bring out the color in your mug." All I know is that these mugs are really awesome to drink from. Nice works of art, not heavy, and they fit your hand very nicely. The mug you see here is a 20 oz mug. Not bad.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
My first real beer experience came as a teenager living in Germany. I had swore as a youngster when my dad offered me a drink of his Coors that I would never touch beer. I thought, at the age of 8, that it tasted "gross." Fast forward to 1983. I was in 8th grade, hanging out with my friend, Robert DiNardo. We went to the movies with a bunch of 9th graders. I think it was "Zapped" with Scott Baio. After the movies, we went down to the American Arms hotel in Wiesbaden. Our friend, Lars, had a roll of quarters. In the basement of the American Arms there was a soda machine which also carried cans of BUDWEISER. One of the kids produced a white pillow case and went downstairs with Lars. Another couple of kids stood at the top of the staircase as "lookouts." Lars either used up the entire roll of quarters to buy 50 cent cans of Budweiser or pushed the button until no more Bud came out. There were about 30 of us, so I think I got a sip. It didn't do anything for me. Some kids were drinking it, closing their eyes and spinning. To this day, I'm not sure if that did anything except make them dizzy.
Eventually, we moved on to the bars about a year later (no drinking age in Germany. Well, there is, but at 10 p.m. the bartender comes around and asks, "Are you 18?" and you answer, "Ja." He brings you another beer.) and drank our fill of pils, export, and a few weizen beers.
I'm sure I'll continue with the history and development of my beer tastes in other posts, but I want to get down to the nitty gritty.
There are so many kinds of beer in the world today, that it's a shame that there isn't a beer store with every kind of beer in it, so you didn't have to search for it. But someone once said that "It's not getting there, it's the journey itself, that makes life worth living." Or something like that. Good philosophy to live by, good beer philosophy.