Friday, January 30, 2009

Schafly American Pale Ale

My dad was harping on how good he thought Schlafly's American Pale Ale was. I actually had a Schlafly Pale Ale shirt one time. I bought it when I visited their brew pub in St. Louis years ago.
The pale ale I had at his house had a different label, and I didn't remember their pale ale tasting like this. I thought it was more of an "English" style of pale ale. This one had a better hop profile than say, the Sierra Nevada, which I refer to as the American pale ale standard. It was good. I do still like pale ales, but I think I'm going to put them on the backburner as anything I buy anymore, unless it's one of Shoreline Brewery's pale ales, which are just awesome.
Dad also had some of Schlafly Christmas Ale, which appeared to be a brown ale with spices in it. I thought that it was an excellent beer, although I was drinking it out of a stein mug, and therefore didn't get to see what it looked like except from the pour.
Schlafly only distributes to a 300-mile radius, so I don't get their stuff up here in NW Indiana. I used to be able to get a few varieties when I lived in Mattoon, Illinois, which I thought was pretty great for a town that size.
On the way back, we passed a Schlafly truck. I think a trip to St. Louis in the late spring/early summer would be in order to maybe go see the Cubs play down there and visit Schlafly.

Friday, January 23, 2009

What Does This Tell You?

So, is Miller admitting what I've said all along about Miller Lite? There's seriously an underlying theme here that is pretty obvious: It's piss!

Friday, January 16, 2009

My First All Grain: Esseola 181 Pale Ale

We were finally able to get John's new mash tun and boiling kettle up and running (okay, so really, John did his own work on both of these things). He ordered a Roggenbier kit from Northern Brewer, also All Grain, and I made up a pale ale recipe, loosely based on Three Floyd's Alpha King, but also just on the American Pale Ale style I had seen somewhere else, as well as an early recipe I had made up based on what I thought was the hop profile of Shoreline's SumNug IPA. Top that all off with a song by Jolene called "Esseola 181" which reminded me of Asheville, North Carolina with the chorus, "This town in Blue Ridge..." and there you have the basics.

So after fucking up a few recipes, I've sort of learned some things (I would say for the most part, the beers we've made have been good, but there have been shortfalls: I don't know what happened with the Tongue Splitter kit. I think the yeast didn't have enough healthy food. The first Witbier had like a quarter pound of cloves in it, and was definitely overwhelming on that front, and the Pilsner, which actually was pretty excellent, came out about 0.010 lower in the original gravity than I wanted due to me shoving about 5 pounds of grain into one bag instead of 4, for better utilization of the sugars...pretty much everything else except the Jinx clone which turned out not to be a Jinx clone has been very good), including dry-hopping, using yeast starters, oxygenating the beer with a tank of oxygen, etc.

I have also been screwing around with Promash, which is a software for homebrewing. I think it can be set up for businesses, but then those guys know way more than me, so I'm not sure how they do it. I finally bought the whole version instead of messing around with the sample, and life is good. I totally recommend it.

I was also able to use an 1.25 oz of Zeus hops that I grew in my back yard for this. I opted to use these primarily as the boiling hop, but next time might use the Nugget instead, and use the Zeus for flavoring hops. I put 1 oz in at 60 minutes, and used the remainder of Nugget and Zeus in the secondary. I also got an ounce of Amarillo hops for the end of the boil, because I really like Amarillo hops.

So we made the beer, and after about a week in the bottle, John and his family were over for Christmas Eve dinner and he says, "That beer should be ready by now." I'm skeptical. I always like it to be bottled/kegged for at least 3 weeks, and then wait another week for good measure. I'm patient that way. Plus, I was giving my dad a case at first, for Christmas, but then I ended up only giving him 12 plus 6 Tad, 2 Ciders, and 4 beers he can't get in Missouri.

So we try the beer, and there's definitely not enough head on it for me, but it smells good, tastes good, and it's carbonated. Of course, I figured I would wait and see what happened, and sure enough, on January 11, I tried it, and it's awesome. The hop profile is great, plus, there's this underlying caramel taste that I haven't picked up in a pale ale before. It's very nice.

Esseola 181
5 gallon batch - All Grain

11.0 lbs U.S. 2-row Pale Malt
1.0 lb Crystal Malt 60*L
0.5 lb Caramunich
Steep at 155*F for 45 minutes
1.0 oz Zeus @ 60 min.
0.25 oz Nugget @ 30 min.
1.0 oz Amarillo @ 5 min.
0.75 oz Nugget - Dry Hop
0.25 oz Zeus - Dry Hop
Wyeast American Ale II Yeast

Friday, January 9, 2009

Boulevard Smokestack Seiries - Saison

My friend, P-Mart, guest-wrote a blog on this site about Boulevard's Doublewide IPA, which is another of the Smokestack Series. While in Missouri over the holidays, I got to try the above-mentioned beer for myself, as well as try two of the other four in the series. The only one I didn't try was the Long Strange Tripel, mostly because my dad opted for a bottle of this Saison, again, after we had one the first night I showed up. I've been a little tripeled-out, lately, so I wasn't too disappointed. Since it looks like they're going to brew this style year after year, I can probably try that one at a later time.
The Saison pours and appears like you would expect a Saison to pour and appear - golden and cloudy with a nice, white, fluffy head. There is a smell there that somehow reminds me of when I first smelled beer in Germany. I know it's the yeast, but it's not necessarily the entire smell you get from the yeast. You get a distinct sharpness in the nose that tells you this isn't any normal ale or American lager. It's a stinkiness that I enjoyed.
The beer has a smooth flavor with a slight hop bite at the end. It's a very good example of the style, maybe even better than the bottle of Saison DuPont I shared with my dad over Thanksgiving.
This was my Dad's third beer of the first night we were there, and I think he was full. He said, "We should have started off with this one," and left half his glass full. After about 10 hours in the car, which was a longer trip than I expected, due to a driving delay on the ice-rink that I-94 became the day after Christmas, I just wanted to go to bed as well.