Archive for February, 2010

Iron Hill Mug Club

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

So the other night it was time to re-up on my Iron Hill Mug Club renewal, and I gladly paid the annual fee to take advantage of this great Mug Club.

This is my sixth year as a member of the Iron Hill Mug Club I believe and every year I feel it is a great opportunity for anyone who goes to any of the Iron Hill locations even on a semi-regular basis. Here’s the basics: you pay a $35 annual fee to be a member, with said membership you get to take home a lovely 24oz ceramic mug (each year it’s different), you get any Iron Hill beer poured in your 24oz mug for the same price as a 16oz beer (quick math, every two mugs = 1 free pint), they have Mug Club only promos throughout the year, there’s an easy points system to acquire gift certificates, and all of this can be used at any of their eight locations! Jebus, enough of my jibber-jabber, here’s the straight dope from the horse’s mouth:

Mug Club Loyalty Card Perks

  • Drink from an exclusive 24 ounce signature handmade beer mug
  • Any-time filling of the mug for the same price as the 16 ounce pint
  • Use of your mug during any Iron Hill pint promotion
  • Invitations to exclusive mug club events throughout the year
  • Direct contact via email with the head brewer regarding upcoming releases and events
  • Earn a $25 credit reward for every 300 points accrued
  • 200 free points credited at time of sign-up
  • Take home collectible mug at time of sign-up or renewal
  • Mug design changes each year

Mug Club Loyalty Card Rules

  • Cost of membership is $35 per year
  • Mug club memberships expire yearly and must be renewed each year during the month specified on the back of your membership card
  • Unused points roll over at time of renewal
  • If you choose not to renew, unused points will be forfeited
  • Membership and card are non-transferable
  • Points are accrued for each dollar spent, excluding tax and tip and the purchase of gift cards

Pretty freakin’ dope, I know. So come on out and support you local brew pub(s). Bring a friend, join together, now the two of you have something else in common and something else to do to keep yourselves occupied.

Who’s got my JACKET, brah!?

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

“Who’s got my JACKET, brah!?”

Bad picture of said missing jacket above.

I’m not 100% sure on what went down, but let’s just say I left the Bob Carpenter Center into the cold February rain one jacket less then when I entered the building last night. I am assuming someone acquired a new jacket last night, MY jacket. Please keep your eyes open for a black Dickie’s work jacket, XL-Long, with a YARDS Brewing Company logo embroidered on the front left breast pocket and a YARDS swirly-thing logo on the upper back. Honestly, this is the only one of these jackets I have seen locally (Northern Delaware), so if you see someone wearing one of these that hasn’t been before, that’s the guy I’m looking for.

I was at the Bob last night to see Further and got very lucky and scored an extra the day of the show and it turned out to be a first row center stage floor ticket (!!!), talk about awesome. Regardless, I took off my jacket and piled it onto the chairs with several other jackets, like I have several times in the past, not really thinking anything of it. After the show, it was a different story, there was no jacket to be found. I looked for quite a while, kept my eyes open for anyone wearing it, talked to security, and even checked with the Bob’s lost-and-found today, all to no avail.

I know it’s not the end of the world to loose a jacket, I get it, but I’d still like it back, and anyone can contact me anonymously through this website up at the little Contact button at the top if they may have information for the return of the jacket. The jacket was actually a gift/reward from April of 2004. I had entered the HOPS BOPS XXI homebrew competition and had won Best of Show for a California Common, and the jacket was the reward. So, besides being just a jacket, a thing to keep you warm, it had some meaning to me.

I appreciate any help in advance.

War of the Worts XV

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

The War of the Worts (WOTW) XV homebrew competition was yesterday, Saturday 02.20.10, and it was good times indeed.

With 816 entries in this years WOTW competition this was big! You can check out all the results here – RESULTS. It had been quite a while since I judged at a competition, maybe 6-8 months, but I was hyped to get into it. In the morning I was able to judge the Specialty Beer category with 44 entries and 8 judges, so about 11 entries per pair. The Specialty Beer category is kind of the catch-all for beers that don’t fall into other categories: experimental techniques, historical, style-bending, and total odd-balls. I actually really enjoy judging this category, there are a lot of mediocre beers that wind up here, but there are some that are kind of inspirational that help you formulate your own ideas. I believe the top three that moved on were an American Wild Ale (spontaneously fermented in the LeHigh Valley, haha), a Gruit (beer made without hops but with herbs to supply the bitterness), and an Imperial Pilsner. We probably started around 9:00 and wrapped the first round at a little after 12:00, not too bad.

Iron Hill Brewery then generously supplied us with lunch, two different tossed salads and a combo of sicilian-style pizza and wood-oven pizza. I think the IH crew wasn’t anticipating how much judges like to eat free food, they were having a hard time staying on top of our consumption of mass quantities, but it was all good an no one didn’t have enough to eat. After lunch I was able to judge Wood-Aged and Smoked Beers. Sounds like an interesting category, but I’ll tell you what, it is a palate destroyer, I’m not sure I’d want to judge that one again. This time there were 33 entries I think with 8 judges again, so it should have been about 8 beers per pair, my partner and I judge very similarly and we were able to do 13 beers in the afternoon. The best beer we had was a great IPA aged on cedar. I really wish I knew more of what the cedar was suppose to contribute because I’m afraid it didn’t fair as well as it could have if we had a descriptor to reference to see what cedar contributions were suppose to be like. It tasted like an awesome hoppy shortbread cookie or something, I really dug it. I think the top three were an Oaked Old Ale, a Smoked Porter, and a Smoked something-something. The Smoked Porter was bacon-esque while the Smoked something-something was more camp fire-esque, interesting.

I also had two beers entered in this competition, actually, I had the same beer entered twice, shotgun approach. This was the Fool Circle 10th Anniversary Beer, the Stick-Icky DIPA, which has recently been dubbed the FCX, got all that. Anyway, I entered it as an American IPA and as a Imperial IPA. The theory being I think it is better suited as a DIPA, but sometimes a “big beer” will fair better in a smaller category because it stands out against the other, so I was hoping for the extra pop in the AIPA category. Here’s some of what the judges had to say below:

  • American IPA – Judge 1: 33/50, Judge 2: 37/50, Average: 35 – Very Good
  • Judge 1: Almost flat, sticky resiny pungent hops with some caramel and alcohol, tasted like it really would have “popped” if not for lack of carbonation.
  • Judge 2: Low carbonation, very hoppy – nice balance of citrusy, piney, and grapefruit, good example of an Am IPA on the edge of a IIPA.
  • Imperial IPA – Judge 1: 34/50, Judge 2: 32/50, Average: 33 – Very Good
  • Judge 1: Good Imperial IPA, citrus and pine, almost grape like aroma, plum and stone-fruit in flavor, very good attempt at style.
  • Judge 2: May be too estery for style, hop flavor is definitely present, other flavors include watermelon, grape, and lemon from hops and esters.

So there you go, unbiased “professional” opinions of my beer. I really don’t like arguing with what the judges say because, well, I want to respect their opinions as much as I want mine respected, but I also know how the process works and sometimes a good beer can get brushed to the side just because the judge is trying to judge it <- I don’t even know if that made sense, haha. Looks like there were 41 AIPAs in the competition and 25 English/and Imperial IPAs. I think the one thing that bothers me most is the carbonation comments from the AIPA judges. I know the beer was well carbonated, I actually just had a bottle from the same batch the other day, so it makes me think they received a “bad bottle” for some reason, like perhaps the cap wasn’t set correctly when I bottled it and then through time and shipping the carbonation level dropped, dunno, but it tweaks me a little bit. Really would have liked to place, especially in such a big competition, but alas I didn’t, oh well. Good feedback is always good on it’s own.

Pushing Beer

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

So this evening was spent pushing beer from one container to another.

First, the Twenty Pound Pale Ale had to be moved from the primary fermenter to the secondary and get a dose of dry hops, 1 oz of Centennial to be exact. I also moved the beer from upstairs to downstairs where the warmer temp upstairs is preferable during this time of the year to help with primary fermentation, the cooler temperatures downstairs will benefit the beer clarifying. It weighed in at roughly 5.5% alcohol, and pretty balanced, yet slightly malty as of now, so the dry hops should move it towards very balanced. Most of my pale ales are aggressively hopped, this one, not so much.

Next the Dubbel and the Chinese 5-Spice Dubbel needed to be bottled. I pulled 5 bottles of the Dubbel and 9 bottles of the 5-Spice, kind of weird numbers now that I think of it. I’m going to leave one of these on tap for now, not sure which, but I am leaning toward the traditional Belgian-style Dubbel, and the other I am going to reserve. I was thinking about it earlier, it’s been since like Christmas since I have had 3 beers on tap at once, I need to remedy this. So I’ll reserve one of the Dubbels, then the Pale Ale will be ready to roll in like two weeks, but that’s it. So I guess I’ll need to brew again soon, and often. If things go right I’ll be re-upping on base malt shortly so it’ll be time to get my brew on, anyone have any suggestions, I’m open!

Hop Bomb

Monday, February 8th, 2010

Twelve ounces IPA plus one ounce Hop Vodka equals a HOP BOMB!

So for this example, the first example I am aware of anywhere, we used Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA and the Hop Vodka I created, which was Three Olives plain vodka infused with Cascade hops. Originally we were thinking of drinking it a la Car Bomb style, drop the shot and chug, but we thought otherwise, and probably for the better. So instead, Robert and I drank it more Boiler Maker style, pour the Hop Vodka into the IPA, thus a Hop Vodka Infused IPA. The Hop Vodka definitely brought a new level of hop “freshness” to the beer, slightly like when DFH pours there beer through a Randall but a little more grassy/green in flavor. Overall it was pretty good, and if I try to refine the Hop Vodka like I mentioned it may be really good. I’ll have to experiment with this. But remember, you heard it here first, it’s called a Hop Bomb!

Also, yesterday I transferred the Dubbel and the Chinese 5-Spice Dubbel to kegs and started carbonating them. The Dubbel tasted fine, which is good, but what I was really interested in was trying the 5-Spice Dubbel. You could definitely pick-up on the spice aspect in the nose, in particularly the cinnamon, which had me concerned. I’ve used cinnamon in batches before where it just blew out everything else. Also in the blend that I used was: cinnamon, anise, fennel, ginger, clove, and licorice root. Yes, I know there are six spices listed, my guess is the manufacturer used both anise and licorice root to compliment the same flavor and give it depth at the same time. Upon first taste I was pleasantly surprised; the spices weren’t too overwhelming, but you could tell they were there. It was sort of like a cross between a mellow not-to-boozy Winter Warmer and Belgian-style Dubbel. There was a cool dessert note to it too, I think accentuated by the ginger and clove, kind of like a ginger snap, made me wish I used molasses in the batch. So, first impressions I wasn’t disappointed at all, can’t wait to have a full glass of this puppy when it’s fully carbonated and chilled out.

Hop Vodka

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Sometimes things that seem like a good idea really aren’t, and sometimes things that seem like a bad idea really aren’t either. I haven’t decided if this is a good idea or a bad idea yet, or even if it was successful or unsuccessful.

So while creating the Chinese 5 Spice infused vodka for the Chinese 5 Spice Belgian Dubbel I decided I was going to mess around with making a Hop Vodka also. Originally I had contacted the distiller at Dogfish Head Brewery to get her advice on what kind of proportions were necessary, how to filter, and if they had ever tried it. She responded that they have never tried a Chinese 5 Spice vodka, but had tried a Hop Vodka without too much success. Her advice was two handfuls (she guessed 2oz) of whole leaf hops to 750ml of vodka. Let soak for 48 hours then strain, then filter through charcoal (like a Brita filter). She said with their experiment it was still too strong and they then cut the infused vodka with 750ml of plain vodka, so really 1oz to 750ml.

So for my experiment I used 1oz of Cascade whole leaf hops to 375ml of vodka. I let this soak for 48 hours giving it a shake whenever I happened to walk by. I then inverted the jar and strained the hops out through the vodka for 24 hours. After that time there was just over 200ml of hop infused vodka, where’d the other 150ml go, I’m not sure I guess the hops drank it. The Hop Vodka is a bizarre bright yellow/orange and smells very much of hops, but also with a grassy tone to it. The flavor is, … intense! It covers all aspects of the hop, bitterness, flavor, and aroma, plus the grassy/green/flowery type thing. And of course it’s vodka, so it’s hot, well, at least to me.

So far now I’m not sure if I like it, it’s big. I think if (when) I do it again I’ll use a higher vodka to hops ratio, like 1oz to 750ml, and/or let the hops sit on the vodka for a shorter time frame, like 24 hours instead. So what’s next? I think Hop Bombs are next, think a Boiler Maker but with Hop Vodka and DFH 60 Minute IPA! I think I just made myself a little excited 🙂

Twenty Pound Pale Ale

Monday, February 1st, 2010

I am in desperate need to buy more ingredients, so in the mean time, I’ll improvised!

So this is it … until I buy more ingredients no more beer will be made, it’s a sad day indeed. So basically I was down to twenty pounds of base malt, an ass ton of American hops, and some dry English yeast. So what did I make? Hell if I know, a Twenty Pound Pale Ale, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. It’ll be good, and you’ll like it, trust me. So basically I took all the base malt and mashed real low to make it nice and fermentable, dropped three hop additions with a fourth reserved for dry hopping, and set the little English buggers loose on it. That was yesterday. Cold as hell, but at least the snow had stopped. That was pretty much the second day in a row of spending too much time outside when it is way too cold, I couldn’t get warm last night, suckage.

Oh BTW, the last half a keg of the Fool Circle 10th Anniversary Ale is now on tap, ask nicely and I might share. Might.

Also, watch out for Hop Vodka. Yup.