Tuesday, December 25, 2007

White Ale Check and Current Inventory

Here's a follow up from last week's check on the Girls' Night Out White Ale.  It's pretty cloudy, as you can see in the photo.  Lotsa floaties in it as well, although the beer tastes pretty great.  Almost overpowering with the cloves.  I only put an ounce in, so I didn't think that would be too much.  I will probably drop it down to like 8-10 cloves next time.  Probably won't add the vanilla, and maybe not use the fine orange peel.  Go for something more coarse.

But like I said, it tastes good, but those floaties leave something to be desired.  This is before we charged it with CO2 as well, so there wasn't really much of a head on this.  Had one on Thursday of last week.  John poured the second one and he had way more of a head on his than mine, and also appeared to have less floaties.

The porter has officially been kegged as well.  We had a taste prior to kegging, and it was damn good.  Even without carbonation.  Not as dark as I would have liked, but we only used a 70*Lovibond crystal malt when the recipe called for a 120, which was not available.

Christmas Fridge

In the fridge this Christmas is the following:
22 oz Three Floyds Behemoth barleywine
4 12 oz bottles of Three Floyds Alpha King
5 12 oz bottles of Bell's Two-Hearted Ale
1 12 oz bottle of Bell's Winter White Ale
8 12 oz bottles of Blue Moon

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Homebrew Update - December '07

I got one of my Christmas gifts early.  A plastic, 6.5 gallon conical fermenter.  The great thing about conical fermenters is that you don't have to move the beer to a second fermenter because all the trub (yeast and other "floaties" - excuse my non-professional terminology) can be removed from the valve located at the bottom on a daily basis, instead of being left in the primary fermenter.

The upper valve on the cone can be used to get samples to check the gravity of the beer.  This also allows you to keep more beer in the fermenter, instead of excess beer for gravity tests through siphon hoses.  It also prevents infection from siphon hoses.

Meanwhile, over at John the Brewmeister's house, we've got two more beers fermenting the old fashioned way, in glass carboys:  A White Ale and a Porter.  Here's the White Ale recipe.

Girls’ Night Out White Ale 

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

Thanksgiving Beerfest

On Thanksgiving, we invited a family over that we knew when we lived in Florida, who now live in the Chicago area. I guess we sort of live in the Chicago area, too, only we're in Indiana. They live in the suburbs, we live in "the Region."

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

Guest Blager #1: P-Mart

P-Mart is one of two best friends from college. We attended school at Iowa State University, and discovered the world of microbrewing there. Paul even made at least one batch of homebrew, if I remember correctly, and shared some just before U2's stadium concert there on the Achtung Baby tour. I don't remember it all that well. And the U2 show was just okay. The TV part of it wasn't working.

P-Mart sent me a link to the Boulevard website last week and said he had picked up two of these sumbitches. Check out the first review:

Boulevard Double-Wide IPA
750 ml $7.99

Boulevard brewery out of Kansas City has been making great beers since their initial pale ale was released in 1989. they have just recently release what they are calling their "smokestack series" of beers. these are specialty craft brews made in limited releases. they are distributed in 750 ml wine bottles, with a champagne style cork. it's immediately apparent from the packaging that these are intended to be special brews. there are three other releases besides the IPA; a tripel, a quadrupel, and a saison. find out more info here.

The color of the IPA is an extraordinarily deep amber-copper. it's got a solid, stable head. the aromatics give a hint of the hoppiness inside, but are not overwhelming. In fact, I would not have identified this as an IPA at first taste. The hops are definitely in there, but this beer has a full, more complex taste than the IPA's that I'm used to (some of my favorites are red hook and sierra nevada). As dense, complex, and rich as it is, it's eminently drinkable. it has a completely full mouth feel without being overly heavy. Balance is the key, this beer is loaded with hops (5 different types) but they are countered by the right amount of malt to bring everything together. The alcohol by volume is at an appropriate 8.5%, you'll be feeling fine after settling in with that big bottle. At 8 dollars, I consider this a good value as well, given everything that goes into this beer.

I can't say enough good things about this beer, in all honesty I think it's one of the finest I have ever tasted. The quality, care, respect and passion this beer conveys represents the ideal of craft brewing. I agree completely with Jez on the merits of supporting your local brewery, but I have to tell you to search this beer out. Boulevard has just recently undergone a big expansion and is growing it's distribution network, so look for it in your area.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Hops Crisis

Just recently, a friend sent me this article on the hops shortage coming from 2008. I knew this was coming because when looking online for homebrew products, there were many statements referring to the shortage.
The article doesn't really say why there is a hops shortage, just bad weather. I asked a couple of local brewers, Sam, at Shoreline, and Nick, at Three Floyds, how the shortage was going to affect them. I even sent a message to the regional rep at Bell's, but didn't get a reply.

Yesterday, I was at Shoreline picking up ingredients to brew a Porter and a White Ale this weekend. I'm pretty new to all this brewing, so as I was looking at the grains and hops, I asked Sam if the hops were plugs or pellets. He smiled and said, "Those are pellets. And you're lucky to be getting them. I may not even have enough hops to brew beer next year." He continued by saying that 1 ounce of hops wasn't going to set him back. He uses around 30 pounds of hops in a batch of beer. That's totally amazing to me, because the kettle behind the glass is obviously bigger than our 5-gallon kettle, but 30 pounds? Amazing.

Nick over at Three Floyds answered my email with this:

"The hop shortage will greatly effect every small brewer in the world. It will not change our production or style of beer we producebut will cost us alot more to move forward and keep expanding production."

I saw on Three Floyds website that three of the brewers there were out west scouting their hops options for 2008, or something like that.

It almost makes a person want to go buy some farmland and start growing hops. Initially, I thought about doing this, but one of my brew-partners, John, said you need to have more of an arid environment, like the Pacific northwest. Sam at Shoreline countered that thought by stating, "Before prohibition, Indiana was only second to the state of New York in hop production."

Now who knows how the climate has changed between the early 1930's and now. I would guess not much, but with that whole global warming thing, there might be some issues with growing hops in Indiana. What's more, it doesn't appear to be a lucrative business, but it would be good to have a plot of land for personal use and maybe to sell to local breweries so they could save on transportation costs. Also, it takes 3 years for the hop plants to really start blooming, so by that time this whole shortage issue could be history.

But for now, it means basically that for good beer, you're going to pay a higher price. I'll bet that Budweiser increases the price of their brews and blames it on the hop shortage, even though they appear to be in pretty good hands. This is even more of a reason to stop buying macrobrews and focus on the microbrews that are out there.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I Declare "Build Your Beer Palate" Season

If you're lucky enough to live in a place where there are plenty of brewpubs or a liquor store with a good selection of craft brews, then are you in luck. I've declared it to be "Build Your Beer Palate" season. It is now open as of today, November 15, and will run through January 2, 2008.

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

Bell's Cherry Stout

Hello! It's the time of year for the high gravity beers and darker seasonals to start rearing their heads (nothing wrong with a big head on a beer - gets the gas out of the bottle, so it doesn't settle in your belly). I went to pick up some beer on Saturday, and I found a six pack of Bell's Winter White Ale. Only it had a Bell's Brown Ale and a single Cherry Stout in it. The Cherry Stout, I could keep, but I opted for a Two-Hearted Ale instead of keeping the Brown Ale.

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

And There's Beer...In the Fridge

Got a new small standard fridge for the basement. Primary purpose is for storing beer, and also allows a nice little annex to the freezer upstairs.

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

Shoreline Mug Club Party

On Sunday, Shoreline Brewery held a party for the mug club members at Washington Park in Michigan City. We were wondering how they were going to get all the mugs over to the park without breaking them, because that would be unfortunate if someone's mug got broken. Sure, you could always get another mug, but since the mugs are so unique, it would be kind of sad if one did break.

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.

On a Busman's Holiday

Sporting New T-Shirts

The Gathering

Close Up


Sam The Brewer in Shades and Visor

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Beer #1

My friend John has been talking about brewing beer for a while now. We got together about three weeks ago, and when I say we I mean my friend Adam, John, me, and the kids. The kids didn't really help out except for playing in the backyard and letting the process happen. And, of course, taking off all their clothes and running around naked.
We've tried the beer in all of its stages. On Saturday night, we loaded it up with CO2 and put the keg in the fridge. So it should be good to go any day now.

It's a pale ale, but not so pale. Smells very hoppy and kind of musty in a good beer way. The taste is smooth, just a tiny bitterness. Pretty good for a first beer, I think.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Magic Hat

They have a brewery in South Burlington, Vermont called Magic Hat. I haven't gone to the brewery, but on a recent vacation to Syracuse, New York, I discovered a few of their beers.

Whenever I go to a new region, the first thing I do, beerwise, is find out where they sell beer. Not all states sell beer in liquor stores. Some only sell wine and liquor, as is the case in New York. Beer is thus considered a "grocery" if you live in New York. The second thing I do is go to where the beer is and see what is there.

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.

click for larger image 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

Shoreline Brewery

I work in Michigan City, Indiana. When I first moved here, I was told that a new brewery had just opened in Michigan City called Shoreline Brewery. The guy I replaced, who moved on to a corporate job in Houston, Texas, told me about it. He appreciates good beer. Luckily, for me, my family was still living three hours away in Illinois, so I was able to partake in the goodness of this locale for about a week.

I highly recommend Shoreline. During that first week, I met Sam, the owner and brewer. He's a good guy, and definitely a businessman. He's not interested in putting out an inferior product and cruising under the craft beer name. Motherfucker won the Silver Medal at the 2006 World Beer Cup for Best Scottish Ale. And the Beltaine, as it's called, my friends, is well worth the visit to this fine establishment.
On my first visit to this place, I was sitting at the bar next to the head food guy of the restaurant. He gave me the menu, and I was impressed with his concoctions. He told me I was sitting at the most interesting spot at the bar, the "cut". They actually pulled the bar out of an old speakeasy that was made during prohibition, but had to cut the bar to get it out of the basement where it was located.

The beer just seems to get better at this place. I seem to only visit on average once every 3 months, but when I do, I'm never disappointed. Sam made a beer called the Drunken Toad once. It was a total experiment in hop-headiness. I could barely get through a 5 oz sample before moving on. It was that hoppy.

There is also the Singing Sands Oatmeal Stout. A very nice, dark, brown beer that has an awesome palate and is beautiful to look at in the glass. This year, Sam took some of the Drunken Toad, mixed it with the Singing Sands, and put it in a bourbon barrel. For at least 5 months, if not 6. Served in a 10 oz glass, this will rock your world. This may not be Three Floyd's Dark Lord, but it is soooo nice. I don't know if it was the Singing Sands or the bourbon barrel, but the mixture mellows the Toad out very swell-ly.

This very evening, I was dining there with my family, mother-in-law, and wife's aunt when my wife asked if I would like a Shoreline Brewery t-shirt for my birthday. I told her that would be nice, but I would really like to become a member of the mug club, which costs $100 cash. To make a long story short, both the wife and myself are now mug club members. Check out the sweet mugs we got:

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.

My mug was a little larger at 22 oz. That means I should be able to pour a whole bomber into the thing. Unfortunately, they don't pour bombers at Shoreline. Oh well, looks like I'll just have to drink more beer from the tap! I got a real cool swirly bottom on mine that I forgot to photograph. The bottom of the mug is the killer part. You think you're almost done with it, and then you hit the well at the bottom, which is like a whole 'nother 6 ounces. It's creeper!

This was the sweetest gift I think I ever got from my wife, and I am so glad she went in on the deal as well. She really is my best friend and we both love drinking beer.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

My Beer Philosophy

My Beer Manifesto. My Beer Goals. My Beer Philosophy. Beer, beer, beer. Other than my family, a few sports, and music, beer is my favorite thing to talk about, study, and admire.

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.

My Philosophy

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.

So my goals on this blog are to share my feelings on the beers I drink and brew, but to also discuss how I came by the beers.  I will discuss my favorite kinds and the merits of each.  I will try new kinds and suggest that you also expand your palate and try different kinds of beer.  Because, although its okay to drink Miller Lite all the time, it's not very interesting.  Or original.  That would be like listening to AC/DC all the time.  AC/DC is not a bad band, in fact, I quite enjoy all the stuff Bon Scott did with them.  However, AC/DC was a good starting point for me to jump off into the world of music.

I used to say I only had three beers I liked:

1. Free
2. Cold
3. Everything Else

While in theory, this remains true, the fact is that over the past year I've sort of tried to get away from drinking typical beers (those that are easily available from any small town grocer), and try to drink something different every week, while falling back on the really good stuff I've found.

Every time I travel somewhere, I will seek out and bring back beer from the region I visit, if possible.  With restrictions on liquid in airplanes, this may be a bit more difficult.

I also hope to invite other bloggers (or could we call them, "bLAGERS?") to post here every once in awhile.  Hopefully, this will be people in regions I can't quite get to.  

I want to develop a network of people who appreciate good beer in the NW Indiana region.  Hopefully people who have families and are at the same place in their lives as I am.  Not that I have anything against single people or people without kids.  It's just that family is priority to me, not going out on the night on the town.

So like Jeff Tweedy said in Hell is Chrome:  "Come with me."