Archive for October, 2007

BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #9

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

The September 2007 issue of BeerAdvocate Magazine, or the “Beer Education Spectacular” was a decent issue of the magazine that keeps me boasting that this is the best beer rag out right now.


This magazine has been in and read for quite some time now so I am just going to go with the flow and hit the points I want to talk about. My favorite, ‘9 Steps to Beerdom’, featured one of my favorites Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing. The few bits of information I know about Vinnie makes me totally dig this dude, plus he makes way cool adventurous beers that are hard to get a hold of but totally bring the hop wallop and rock the funk. There was a neat article on “Open Source Beer” where breweries are posting there recipes on their websites and making them available for others to use, and tweaking them based on the consumers demands. It’s like open source software stuff where the main goal is really to just have a superior product for all in the long run. One of the breweries that is experimenting with this idea with one of their beers is Flying Dog which I think is totally cool.

The “main” article in the issue titled ‘Get Schooled’ which talked about all the different beer schools, the best beer bars on well known college campuses, the best beer books, and how not to be an idiot drunk fell kind of flat in my opinion. I really could have done without the sections on the pubs and the not being drunk, to me they were too localized and too obvious. The information on the schools were good but brief, I’ve read more on the school’s opening pages of their website for some of the schools, I wanted to learn something new. I won’t bitch about the beer reviews section this time, but I will say “hey look!” because one of Iron Hill’s beers got reviewed, the FE 10th Anniversary Ale. The Bros. gave it a B, I think that is fair. I remember the first time I tried the FE10 I wasn’t really into it and thought it was kind of hot and young, but it has gotten better in subsequent tastings. I should pick up a bottle of that stuff soon.

And finally towards the end of the magazine was a good piece on food and beer, their ‘Cuisine a la Biere’ article. This one was particularly good because it included variations on a base recipe for three different recipes: chili, sausages braised in onions and beer, and a beer float or beershake. They did a quite good job describing what additions or subtractions should be made with different pairings. So if you were interested in using a Wit, Tripe,l or Kriek for example in your chili they suggest pairing with duck, turkey, or chicken and go on to talk about different spice additions that would work. But lets look at it the other way and you knew you wanted to make a buffalo chili but didn’t know what kind of beer to use to cook with it they’d suggest a Brown Ale, Old Ale, or Flanders Red Ale. I dug this article a lot. I’m sure I’ll use it at least once to help me make something (boy that was a descriptive sentence).

Amarillo Bottling and Stuff

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

So I bottled the Amarillo Amber today, everything went as expected, so that is good. This beer was actually in its third carboy trying to clear, this was the beer that wouldn’t clear.


So I cleaned the bottles for this beer last Thursday and I finally got around to bottling it on Sunday. This beer was brewed almost a month ago, transfered and dry-hopped to secondary after about 10 days, and then transfered again to tetrary after about another 10 days in hopes that it would eventually clear. It has appeared to finally clear with a FG at 1.012. I used the Pro-Mash program again to see if that helps with carbonation. I bottled 4.5 gallons with 4.20 oz of corn sugar, more than I expected, but hopefully no carbonation issues.

I also checked the SG for the Imperial Stout and the “small beer”. The Imperial Stout clocked in at 1.036 right now and the small beer at 1.009. I’m hoping the IS comes down at least 0.006 more points and I’m happy with the “small beer”. Of course I tasted both; the IS was sweet yet it was also cut by the alcohol (like 8.5% already), it was thick yet not too thick and cloying, as of now it has potential, and the “small beer” was surprising in that there were notes of wood, and smoke, and leather, non of which were in the recipe, interesting.

I also sampled one of the IPA’s that were brewed with the dry yeast today to check on carbonation and I was pleasantly surprised to see it has reached the level of “creamy”. There is definitive carbonation, just not up to the level I was hoping for. Hopefully though this is a sign that it will continue to climb to the desired level.

I also drank the growler of ABA that was bottled in the growler instead of regular 12oz bottles. My main concern was carbonation, but it seemed to have carbonated just fine, maybe just a smidge less then the bottles. But there was a small problem. When bottled I assume some residual beer was left in between the threads, so when I uncapped the growler where the threads had been screwed to the bottle there was some mold. It appears as if no beer actually touched the mold, so I removed the cap, wiped down the neck of the bottle, and enjoyed the growler. No off taste or aroma as I could pick up. If I am dead tomorrow you know why, just kidding.

Kennett Square Brewfest

Sunday, October 7th, 2007

Yesterday was this years Kennett Square (KSQ) Brewfest. Per usual it is an event that I highly anticipate. Also, as always, this events has its good points and bad points, none of them ever too horrible.

Kennett Square Brewfest 2007

This year I went up with Jody, Karen, and myself and we met up with Ann, Richard, and Cat. We got there basically right at 2:00 (when it started) and didn’t have any real problems finding parking or getting right in line and filing in. One of the six of us bought a designated driver ticket and was still given a cup for beer, go figure!

Initially I was on the hunt to try and find any of the beers from the connoisseurs tasting that the breweries may still have left over. I was lucky and got to try a few: Clipper City’s Weizen Dopplebock, Weyerbacher’s Quad (originally they were bringing their 12th Anniversary ale, drat!) Stewart’s 2005 Bourbon Barleywine, Iron Hill’s Russian Imperial Stout, Sprague Farm’s Effin’ Beer, and Southampton Brewey’s Grand Cru. So I guess I got to try maybe about a third of the beers from the connoisseurs tasting, which is about average with previous years, often if they have any left you have to know to ask for it though. This year the KSQ people in charge did a great job making sure there were plenty of port-a-potties, I don’t think I ever saw a line that was more than 5 people deep, versus last year where I’d have said 20+ people deep at some of them. They also did a bang-up job at bringing in more food, same stuff as last year plus I think two new BBQ pits were brought in, yummy! Two downsides that I noticed though (which happens all the time) were they supplied free bottles of water, very smart move, but they ran out of water with problably two hours still to go in the event, not good. Also, I’m not sure if the KSQ people in charge are getting greedy or what, but to me it felt way over sold this year. The lines were redunkulously long, especially on the far side where they had breweries lining both side of the aisle. Seriously it was a good ten minute wait to get from the back of the line to the front of the line for some of the breweries, maybe longer. Though I still got to sample my fair share of beers, I would have rather sampled them closer to my own pace. Favorite beers of the day I’d have to say were Arrogant Bastard from Stone brewery, Hoptimus Prime from Legacy (I think), and The 2005 Bourbon Barleywine from Stewart’s. Hands down least favorite beer, 60 Minute IPA from DFH. Typically one of my favorites, but that beer was infected with something nasty!

After the fest this year we went out to dinner again, but we totally avoided the Half Moon this time to hopefully avoid any fiascoes.  This time we went to a local place called El Ranchero which we discovered was one of two Mexican restaurants in Kennett Square. This was the more authentic restaurant (think menu written in Spanish first and English second) where the local Mexican population choose to eat versus the other is Mexican-style food served for everyone else (think La Tolteca probably). Some of the crew we were with seemed a little shady going in at first, but I think overall everyone really enjoyed their food. A little side note, Jody ordered this crazy torta (sandwich) that had everything on it; eggs, beef, ham, hotdogs, french fies, pickles, hot peppers – freakin’ everything.

After dinner things basically wrapped up and people went their own way. Overall I’d say it was a good time once again and am looking forward to next year already.


Friday, October 5th, 2007

Well, it’s a little dated material, but also some pretty cool homebrew stuff on the Fool Circle front. Last week I brewed my first Imperial Stout since the Enigma fiasco. A did a couple things unorthodox, but overall I think we’re going to be looking at a fine beer here.


Almost brimming 15 gallon mash-tun

Last Wednesday, September 26th, I mashed in and collected the wort for the kettle. And last Thursday, September 27th, I boiled and collected the wort for the fermenter. I had never done a brew day over two days, but I was determined to brew an Imperial Stout (IS) by the end of September (not really sure why) and I had basically run out of weekends. Plus, I wanted to see how good or bad a week-night brew day session would be. Of course I chose to do it with an IS which is a much more involved process than a regular beer. And just to keep things interesting, I also decided sort of on the fly to try and run-off a “small beer” from the left over sugars in the grains. So essentially I wound up with the potential for two beers to come from one mash, a high gravity Imperial Stout and a low gravity “small beer” or “table beer”.


Collected wort from the mash: 6 gallons for the “small beer” and approximately 8 gallons for the Imperial Stout

After the grains were mashed in, all the water heated, and the mash sparged (twice) I had collected about 14 gallons of wort total. I collected the wort in my kettle then transfered it into sanitized carboys over night. One of my biggest concerns was that there would be some sort of thermal-shock problem with the glass of the carboys considering I was putting like 15o degree liquid into them. Fortunately (as far as I can tell) there was no major stress and the glass held up fine.

The following evening I was originally going to start my boil (135 minutes) with the Imperial Stout with the mind frame of if things ran too late I could always bag doing the small beer. Instead I switched things around and boiled (75 minutes) the “small beer” first thus forcing myself to complete both beers in one night. As the “small beer” was beginning to come to the end of its boil time and I was anticipating starting the Imperial Stout I came to the sudden conclusion that I was about to run into a problem. That problem was I had anticipated beginning the boil for the IS while the “small beer” was cooling, but I had forgotten that I only have one kettle thus eliminating the possibility of doing both at the same time and consequently possibly adding between 30-45 minutes to my night. I suddenly came up with the idea that I didn’t need a second kettle just a second vessel to collect the wort from the small beer and be able to use my wort chiller at the same time. I quickly sanitized my bottling bucket, measured the wort chiller in the bucket (great fit), and waited for the time to come.


Bringing the Imperial Stout up to boil while simultaneously  cooling the “small beer” down from boiling

I began to cool the “small beer” for about 5 minutes in the kettle initially dropping its temperature to below 150 then transfered it to the bucket. I then dumped the two carboys of liquid love for the IS into the kettle and got ready for a long boil. I think the total time the IS was in the kettle from bringing it up to temperature, boiling, and cooling was about 210 minutes, like three and a half hours (forever)! By the time I had things all cleaned up and pitching yeast it was a little after 1:30AM and I was whooped. For yeast I used the same for both beers, a 3rd generation yeast cake of WLP001. I was concerned about it’s viability even though I made a starter and it took off fine, but there didn’t seem to be any problems.


Imperial Stout chugging along the next morning 

So as of now I will say there didn’t seem to be any adverse side effects to splitting the brew day up over two evenings or from using a 3rd generation yeast cake, which should have been pretty darn potent actually. I will keep all posted with any interesting gravity readings or happenings that I notice with these beers. I will also say that a week night brew day is totally feasible in two days without a question, and still feasible in one day as long as things run smoothly with “regular” style beer. Oh, and a head-lamp-style flash light is your best friend while working outside in the dark, it gives you both hands, directional light, and keeps the bugs to a minimum. As you may have guessed from the title of this post I have dubbed the Imperial Stout “Vader”, anyone have any good suggestions for a name for the “small beer”?

Saison – Revisited

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007

I brewed my Saison back in the beginning of June and I now finally feel as though it has reached maturation. This been was giving me issues in the beginning, in particularly carbonation issues, but now I find it to be just a superb Belgian-style beer.


The beer pours a slightly hazy copper-amber color into my new tulip glass. The haze appears to be a chill haze after comparison to a room-temperature bottle which poured brilliantly clear. The beer now stands a good two fingers high with foam and leaves a light and slight Belgian-lace on the glass. Minus the haze, the appearance is beautiful.

The aroma is rather complex, which is good. First things that hit: spicy, peppery, rose-like, and alcohol notes. Next: Floral, a little solvent-esque, some rum, and some toffee aromas.  The aroma fills the nose and burns just a little, which could be a hint at fusel alcohols which are the kind you don’t want in the beer.

The taste matches the aroma, peppery, alcoholic, some rum. Not very Saison like, but not non-Saison like, but good, interesting, growing, and complex.

The mouthfeel is medium to medium light with springy carbonation but no where close to effervescent.  A little slick on the palate, a little smooth, a little hot, but complimentary to each other. The slickness reminds me of beers that are made with rye, yet this been contains no rye.

Overall I’d say this is a quite a delicious Belgian-style beer, but maybe not the best Saison. I thoroughly enjoy drinking this beer and could easily have another, but I think the drinkability range would stay near two for this beer.  It did turn out to be close to 8% alcohol by volume plus with the excess of spicy flavor, it is one to appreciate. I still have about a half of a case left if anyone is interested in trying it before it is gone.