Archive for March, 2008

Beers from WA

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

So my friend Robert just went out to WA state for a week and I asked him to bring me back some beers, and some beers I do have!

 WA Beers

Originally I was just gonna give him like $40 bucks and say do the best you can, but then I was contacted by a fellow BA in WA who was willing to set-up a trade for some MId-Atlantic beers for some North-West beers. So essentially Robert became my beer mule, who was of course paid in beer up front and the promise to sample beers from WA in the future. This is what I sent out:  (2) 22oz. Legacy – Hoptimus Prime, (1) 22oz. Weyerbacher – Insanity, (4) 12oz. Troegs – Nugget Nectar, (1) 12oz. Weyerbacher – Double Simcoe IPA. This was partially based on what the other BA was interested in, what I had time to accumulate, and what Robert was able to actually carry volume-wise in his suitcase. In return I receive: (2) 12oz. Mad River Brewing Co. – John Barley Corn Barleywine 2007, (1) 22oz. Big Time Brewing Co. – Old Wooly Barleywine Ale, (1) 22oz. Full Sail – Top Sail Imperial Porter Bourbon Barrel Aged, (1) 22oz. Fish Brewing Co. – Old Woody English Old Ale, and (1) 22oz. Deschutes Brewery – The Abyss 2006 Reserve – Aged in Oak Barrels. – WOW!

I feel like we both received beers we may have never had, but I KNOW I received some gems from this guy. According to Robert, the guy basically walked him down into his cellar and was like “what do you want?” Of course he wasn’t ready for that, and didn’t know what half of these North-West beers were, so the other BA basically over compensated and threw a bunch of great beers at him. The only beer we really had set up as part of the deal was The Abyss, but it was suppose to be a 2007 and he accidentally gave me a 2006 – pretty cool as long as it has been cellared properly. I’ve already been back in contact with the guy thanking him, and got his address. I hope to be able to consistently set-up trades with him, say every other month, that would be sweet.

Also, Robert brought back (2) jellies for Karen and me to try, a Cabernet wine jelly and a Beer jelly from a company called Mick’s. I went to there website and it looks like they make a bunch of crazy jellies. Both the wine and beer jelly are dope. They used a stout (surprise to me) for the beer jelly, and it adds much more diversity to it. I would say check these guys out if you want to try something different and good.

Fool’s Gold

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

So I brewed in the first time in like two months yesterday, and you know what, it felt pretty damn good!

Fool’s Gold

So I took off from work yesterday for two reasons; (1) we don’t get a break from New Year’s Day to Memorial Day so I wanted to take a break, and (2) I wanted to brew, – bad. I’ve been digging around in my older grains and hops trying to take inventory of what I have so that I can use it up before I buy new stuff. Looks like what I dug up was enough to do six scheduled batches so far! I’m going to be working with two different yeast strains and running three beers consecutively off of each strain. First strain is White Labs WLP060 American Ale Yeast Blend, which I have never used, and second is WLP001 California Yeast, my fail-safe.

The WLP060 is supposed to celebrate the strengths of California – clean, neutral fermentation, versatile usage and adds two other strains that belong in the same  clean/neutral” flavor category. Homebrewers have speculated that it may be a blend of the WLP001, WLP051 Cal IV, and WLP810 San Francisco Lager but this blend has never been proven. The additional strains create complexity to the finished beer, and will taste more lager like than just WLP001. Hop flavors and bitterness are accentuated, but not to the extreme of WLP001 by itself. While the WLP001 is the most popular strain, famous for clean flavors, balance, and the ability to be used in almost any style Ale. It ferments dry and has a very nice, soft malt flavor.

So with the WLP060 I have lined up a Gold > Amber > Porter combo and with the WLP001 I have lined up a Pale Ale > American Wheat > ABA combo. Yesterday I brewed the Gold. It is really an American Pale Ale in style brewed with just a touch (1 to 232 ratio) of extra specialty malt to lend toward a more golden color, plus it was brewed with all Brewer’s Gold hops (which I have never used before), so naturally I had to try to accentuate the hop profile plus lend a gold characteristic, thus Fool’s Gold. This beer is very different from Pyrite for all you old schoolers. The Amber will be reminiscent of the Angler Amber Ale, but is not a reproduction with just about all aspects of that original recipe changing. And the Porter that will follow is very kitchen-sinky, a nice way to eat up some specialty malts.

With the WLP001 combo, which I’ll start with my second attempt at an all whole hop pale ale. The first was the Homegrown Mild about a year ago, and that turned into a hot mess. But now I have a Bazooka screen in the kettle I can use, so I have higher hopes. And with these higher hopes I am hoping that because of using all whole hops plus a “strainer” I will pull clearer wort because this pale ale will essentially be a five gallon starter batch for a twenty gallon batch of American Wheat that Garrett and I are planning. Then to finish the yeast off I am making a second attempt at our ABA we brewed in the past, not quite the same recipe but similar enough that it should be familiar.

Oh, FYI for anyone that is still interested, the Bazooka screen in the kettle with pellet hops DOES NOT WORK. It clogged solid in less then one gallon of extraction. Wasn’t sure how I was going to handle the problem so I went with my gut, sanitized my hand and arm for two minutes, reached into the kettle (cooled wort) and unscrewed the Bazooka and ran things as before. Sure I had other options, but that’s what I did, deal with it.

BeerAdvocate Magazine Volume II Issue II

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008

Beer Advocate is still putting out a top rate magazine, but the format is starting to feel more than predictable.

BeerAdvocate Magazine Volume II Issue II

One of the first pieces to grab my attention this time through was again the 9 Steps to Beerdom, this time about Geoff Larson Brewmaster at Alaskan Brewing Company. To me Alaskan Brewing Company had all the potential in the world to be successful with their remoteness to everything else, or fall flat on their face. They say in the article that where they are located in Juneau that there are no roads in or out that they joke they are the “only American import”, nice.

They wrap up the issue (where did the rest of the magazine go?) with their Last Call article, this time written by Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head. The article is called “Valuable beer” and it is written from the perspective of how the public needs to be educated about craft beer. The differences between craft and mass produced, the differences in procedure and ingredients, and the differences in time and quality. It’s all there, I’ve heard it a 100 times, often from Sam, but the public still needs to here it. I don’t know if in the back of a beer enthusiast magazine he’s going to be reaching any new audiences, but it does present the opportunity for fresher better phrased information to get into the hands on the disciples. I’ve heard the message, I understand the message, I am the message, and now it is my responsibility to educate others.

Some New Beers to Try

Saturday, March 22nd, 2008

So my brother and his wife went on a surprise trip to a B&B last weekend and they brought mw back some new beers to try.

 Some New Beers to Try

I’ve only tried one of the four beers and only one of the four beers isn’t from Maryland, any guesses which beer I had already tried? Yup, the one from California, the Bear Republic Red Rocket Ale. So these aren’t real reviews (which I need to be inspired to enjoy writing) just glimpses of my opinion.

  • Clipper City – McHenry – Old Baltimore Style Ale – If I was a betting man I’d bet that this beer is reproduction of National Bohemian (Natty Boh) the unofficial beer of Baltimore in the past. This is an easy drinking BMC-style lager. I think my dad might like this.
  • Wild Goose – Nut Brown Ale – This was a really non-descript brown ale, very clean, very plain, easily drinkable. It reminded me of something I would order at a mediocre brewpub.
  • Bear Republic – Red Rocket Ale – This is an American Red Ale for lack of a better term, which to me is basically a darker (redder) more hoppy amber ale. This was a nice treat but the beer was way chuncky which through me off, and it wasn’t just normal bottle-conditioned sediment either.
  • Thirsty Dog – Old Leghumper Robust Porter – This was a nice porter with plenty of flavor that wasn’t trying to be a dumbed-down stout, would go well with a plain creamy white cheddar or may be a nice treat after shoveling the driveway.
  • Baltimore-Washington Beer Works – The Raven Special Lager – This is a real simple easy drinking lager-type beer that would be fine for after yard work or paired with BBQ or pizza, but nothing really stand-out-ish.

Thanks for thinking of me and bringing back these beers, always a treat to try new beers.

St. Patrick’s Day

Monday, March 17th, 2008

So today is St. Patrick’s Day and I decided to let my Irish hang out a little, can you see it?

St Patrick’s Day

I went traditional with dinner with corned beef, boiled cabbage, mixed root vegetable medley (potatoes, carrots, garlic, turnips, parsnips), and soda bread. Karen actually made the corned beef and root vegetable medley on Sunday, I made the cabbage, and Sweeney’s bakery made the bread. For libations we enjoyed Irish whiskey from Jameson, Irish Cream from Bailey, and a stout from Fool Circle that pretended to be Irish today dressed-up in a Guinness glass. All was quite delicious.

So today was supposed to be the “official” release date of the new Honey Oatmeal Stout (HOS) that my brother and I brewed together. With the timing of it being ready just in time for St. Paddy’s we figured what better date then on the day. Well, we each got a case and I finished my last one tonight, I guess I wasn’t very good at waiting. At least I saved one for tonight. In all honesty, my friend had us over on Saturday for Irish supper and we drank over half of them that night, so at least it was in the right thread. Anyway, I thought the HOS we brewed turned out pretty good. It was about 6.5% alcohol, a little sweet, and a little roasty. The carbonation came up on it nicely, the honey was present in the aroma and apparently in the taste, though it could have just finished a little high. The roast, toast, and chocolate biscuits were all held back but available to add flavor. There could have possibly been more oatmeal to make it even creamier, though it was creamy regardless. It reminded me slightly of Garrett’s Black Honey Ale, and you all know I love me some black honeys. I’d say this beer was pretty good, but I bet we could brew it better.

Hot Chicks

Friday, March 14th, 2008

Last Friday (03.07.08) was the fourth installment out of five for the ever so popular 128 “Whatever We Choose” of All Time Non-Seeded, Randomly Drawn Tournament. This time – – “Hot Chicks”!

128 Hot Chicks

Click on the image above for for a larger view.

So this was number four of five, what were all the rest? First was Front-Men, then there were Villains, followed by Heroes, and now Hot Chicks. Front-Men was first and was born by accident on the way to DFH one time. Hot Chicks was actually brought up at the same time as Front-Men but was put on the back burner. Then one day I was daydreaming about Venger from the D&D cartoon series and the Villains list began, and basically to “balance” the Villains list the Heroes list came to be. So that’s four, what’s the fifth tournament? Are you sure you want to know? Really?

The fifth is a monster, 512 of the Greatest of All Time Non-Seeded, Randomly Drawn Tournament. 512 greatest what? Well, all 512 players from the four tournaments are going to get thrown into one pot and we’re having the battle-royal-no-holds-barrel-tournament of the…day. When? Hell if I know, maybe Labor Day weekend and we can bring this one around full circle (Fool Circle!) to when it all began. A normal (128) one of these tournament take a long time, like six hours plus, so this jammy might take a full twenty-four hours…? Oh God I hope not, but I’d do it anyway!

Anyway, back to this tournament. We had a ton of names to start with this time and we had to wean them down to the top 128. Again the names were randomly drawn from a bowl to flush out the brackets, two at a time and then that was the match-up. After the initial 64 match-ups the tournament would run as a normal tournament would, well except for out “nah” rule. Here’s a re-cap of our “nah” rules in case you haven’t understood them yet; in the first round each of us were given two “power nahs” in which we were able to say “nah” to any match-up that was pulled out of the bowl. If we used a “power nah” then that match-up would be thrown back into the bowl to be re-pulled in a different combination later. This was typically used to keep heavy hitters from going up against each other too early. For example, if Superman and Optimus Prime went up against each other in the first round then someone might use a “power nah” to throw their names back into the bowl so a big decision like that wouldn’t have to be made too early in the game. After the first round each of us was also given two regular “nahs” that could be used in the second, third, and fourth rounds. What these “nahs” did was basically give the loser of a match-up a second chance. The winner of the match-up had to get a 2 out of 3 vote to stay in verses the normal 50/50 chance – make sense?

Now remember, none of us fully agree with this, this is just what happen when the three of us ran this tournament. It would probably be different with any three people and obviously with any random drawing. There were actually a couple really tough match-ups, a couple that some people totally disagreed with, and a couple that I looked at afterwards and thought ‘how did that happen?’ Regardless, I’m not going to argue with these results, but I am going to say there were a few surprises. If you don’t recognize some of the names go ahead and ask or look them up yourselves, you may be surprised who did and didn’t make the cut. Oh yeah, my spelling is extra extra bad this time. I’m horrible with spelling, horrible with names, and if I didn’t know there name (though I knew who they were) I was even worse with the spelling. Good luck, I’m sorry, enjoy!

BYO Magazine March-April Issue

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

Wow, one year of BYO/Magazine reviews. Good thing I have all the extra time to read the magazines, and then type up my opinion, sheesh…

BYO Magazine March-April Issue

Cool cover by the way. Anyway, I know this is a little weird, but the ad on page 7 – SOLD! It is for the new Blichmann BoilerMaker brew kettle/mash tun and it is sick, and sick expensive. New metal homebrew wet dream for me, – now get that imagery out of your head, gross. Mr. Wizard’s article touched on specific specialty grains and I thought it was cool, but I wanted more. It is one of those questions where I understand the descriptors used to explain what a certain grain will do to my brew but I’d rather understand the grain, not just the descriptors.

The article ‘Hop Survival Guide’ by Chris Colby (good job Chris on this one) was pretty good and covered a couple different aspects of our 2008 hop crunch. There was hop substitutions presented, hop charts, new hops, and growing hops – that’s a bunch! The Homebrew Hop Guide center-fold was pretty useful if your looking for a quick reference on hops, I believe BYO has it posted on their website. And the Hop Growing article was short and sweet, though reminded me I need to be on top of my stuff this year for planting hops (and thanks to Garrett for the reminder too).

A couple pages later there was a neat idea for an article that fell short with no real numbers. Normally I am not a numbers guy for homebrew stuff, but some numbers would have seriously helped this article on the differences between batch sparging and fly sparging and the benefits and down falls of each. He basically explained it in words, which is fine, but I can read books too. I would have rather he said something along the lines of I brewed 10 batches and this is what my results showed or something.

Other than that I kind of drifted through the rest of the mag falling to slow down only on the short article of a fun sounding homebrew club up in Oxford, PA, the LCD Brewing Co. Until next time.


Monday, March 10th, 2008

So I am now officially a Certified BJCP Judge.

BJCP Certified

I received notice the other day that as of February 25, 2008 I was considered a Certified BJCP Judge – cool! Next up the ladder is a National judge, which is a judge with four times the experience of a Certified judge. I’m sure I’ll get there, just not anytime soon. So, I’ll enjoy being beyond Recognized for now.

No Sleep Till

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

Sometimes things don’t make sense, or at least don’t add up, but they still have to happen.


What do the following have in common: Sixth Glass Quadrupel, Catherine Zeta Jones, Ninety-Nine card game, the Wa-Wa’s, Helen’s Sausage House, Tilcon, methane gas, “Cover It with Gas and Set It on Fire”, Theobroma, Surrender Monkey, 420, meatloaf, and “Deathtrap”? I don’t know either, but there is a common thread.

Yesterday I got to try two new Dogfish Head beers, Theobroma and Surrender Monkey. Theobroma is another “ancient” brew along the lines of Midas Touch and Chateau Jiahu. And Surrender Monkey is a Scottish-style session ale brewed with traditional gruit spices.

Here’s some information on the Theobroma from Dogfish Head; “This beer is based on chemical analysis of pottery fragments found in Honduras which revealed the earliest known alcoholic chocolate drink used by early civilizations to toast special occasions. The discovery of this beverage pushed back the earliest use of cocoa for human consumption more than 500 years to 1200 BC. As per the analysis, Dogfish Head’s Theobroma (translated into ‘food of the gods’) is brewed with Aztec cocoa powder and cocoa nibs, honey, chilies, and annatto (fragrant tree seeds). Theobroma is 10% abv and will be available in Champagne bottles for an August 2008 release.” Personally, I thought this beer was interesting. I did not pick up on any chocolate notes which was a little disappointing, but otherwise it was pretty effervescent, smelt slightly sweet and Belgian-esque, tasted different yet developed into a harmonious blend. Sorry, I didn’t take any notes while tasting it and that is all I have as a memory. Not something I would want to drink regularly, but I will definitely pick up a couple bottles when it comes out in August.

And here’s some information on Surrender Monkey from Dogfish Head; “Surrender Monkey is a Scottish-style Ale brewed by our brewer Brian Connery. The beer is brewed with four traditional Gruit spices; yarrow, mugwort, meadowsweet and camomile. The spices are steeped separately and the tea is then added to the beer pre-fermentation. Surrender Monkey is malty with a flowery nose displaying hints of honey and green apple. Brian fermented the beer with our proprietary Dogfish yeast. He chose this style to give a shout-out to his own Scottish heritage and named the beer in honor of Groundskeeper Willie of “The Simpsons” It is scheduled to go on tap Friday, February 15, 2008 – 4.1% abv.” So of course I didn’t get an obscure Simpson’s reference like that, so this is what Wiki has to say on the reference; “The phrase was first popularized in the Simpsons episode “‘Round Springfield” (first aired on April 30, 1995). Groundskeeper Willie, the school janitor, an unkempt immigrant from Scotland, is teaching French due to budget cuts, dressed in a striped jumper and a beret. He greets the class with ‘Bonjourrrrr, yah cheese-eatin’ surrender monkeys!'” There is more on the actual phrase on Wiki if you care to read. This beer was real mellow and real aromatic. It reminded me of beer iced-herbal-tea, not in a weird way. At the sessionable strength that it is it could easily be drand glass after glass, but with the unique flavor profile I think I would be done after two. This seems like an interesting beer to brew, but  I bet it was pseudo-brewed in response to the hop shortage. Either way another interesting one from DFH.

Use the Force

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

Sometimes, you’ve just got to use the force.

Use the Force

This was going to be titled “Keg Rebuilding, Pt.4″ but I decided against it. (1) Nothing got rebuilt, it got destroyed. (2) Nothing got rebuilt, it got destroyed. And (3) nothing got rebuilt, it got destroyed. Oh, besides demolishing a liquid quick disconnect, I broke my 1/2” ratchet too, it now swings both ways freely – great… Discuss amongst yourselves.