Archive for March, 2010

2010 Polar Bear Plunge

Monday, March 15th, 2010

So yesterday was the 2010 Lewes Polar Bear Plunge for Special Olympics Delaware.

Originally the Plunge was suppose to be the first Sunday in February (I think), but it was postponed because of one of the weekends of snow we had this year. The new date was yesterday and we were hoping for great weather. Well, instead of great weather we got a crazy-angry ocean. It was windy, and grey, and wanted to rain, and maybe 48’F. The water was wavy, and grey, and wanted to eat us, and maybe 42’F. Honestly the water was so rough that they had divers in the water standing at knee level advising people not to go in past their knees and to keep their eyes on children and the elderly, wtf!? So of course, I couldn’t just stop at my knees, I had to go all the way in, it is called a PLUNGE! The downside, wet hair for the rest of the day, poo biscuits and hair water …

Over all I’d say it was another successful Plunge, though I think the day before with the DFH Weekend of Compelling Ales and Whatnot kind of overrode the fun, or contributed, or amplified … Regardless, it was a fun eep-eep kind of weekend.

DFH Weekend of Compelling Ales & Whatnot

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

So this weekend was the Dogfish Head Weekend of Compelling Ales and Whatnot … and Whatnot 🙂

So, this weekend was the DFH Weekend of Compelling Ales & Whatnot, which basically boiled down to “two” new beer releases, a shit-ton of vintage DFH on tap, and good times all around :).

So here’s our adventure in a nut shell … So we left roughly 9AM on Saturday morning to try and run into the 11Am brewery tour with Sam at the DFH Weekend of Compelling Ales & Whatnot. We got down there about quarter to eleven and ran into some DFH familiar faces. I think because of the poor weather there were less people than originally anticipated, so we were able to jump onto the “special” 11AM tour with Sam, bonus.  During the tour, which was 1.5 hours long, one of the longest he has ever given …, we learned all sorts of fun facts about DFH; like about the Wrath of Pecan / Pecant name change, the reason why the lauter tun is so much larger than the rest of the brewing equipment, and where Sam keeps his private stash (sorry, dude, we may need to raid that :)). Anyway, overall it was a great time, we got to try and buy: the Wrath of Pecant, a  new limited edition beer at a very fair price, we tried the Aprihop, Black & Blue, and Burton Baton, yum and yum! And we ALMOST indulged in the 2006 4-Pack, a 2006 beer each of 120 Minute IPA, WWS, Old School Barleywine, and D’Extra (I think), for $60, yikes, and awesome! AND we got to pick up some Liquor de Malt, old school DFH throw back, swee!

After the brewery came the pub. We showed up later than expected around 2:30-3:00-ish for lunch. They seriously had like 20 beers on tap, an ass-ton of vintage, plus some in-house only, plus some specials like Randallized WWS through espresso beans, umm, yeah, yum! PLUS, it was the first of Randall 2.0 that I saw, a double chamber Randall, appearing to be one chamber for “flavoring” (hops, espresso, apricot) and one chamber for chilling, with the potential for the chilling chamber to have a second ingredient, ie I THINK the ApriHop was pushed through hops in the first chamber of the Randall and through apricots the second chamber, make sense?

After way too much (or just enough) lovely DFH beer we decided to part ways. But this of course, wasn’t before some very interesting conversations, which I won’t say too much here, but hopefully I will get to express fully later. Let’s just elude to the following: Short Film Competition, Bocce, Dogfish Dash, Hurt Locker (wtf??), Mastadon, and general wacky-bird-full-on-drater-ism!!

McKenzie’s Results

Monday, March 8th, 2010

So yesterday McKenzie’s Brew House announced the winner to their little homebrew competition they recently had.

The competition was pretty quiet from what I can tell, I can’t even remember where I heard about it. But the entry deadline was February 15th and the only real criteria was the beer had to be described as “Belgian”. “Out of style” Belgian Specialty ales were highly encouraged. From the impression I got there were maybe 20 entries, like I said pretty small.

I decided to enter my Chinese 5-Spice Infused Belgian-style Dubbel, AKA Chinese Dubbel, AKA Dubbel Dragon (thanks Erik). I figured the base beer was good enough to hang, the 5-Spice contribution was definitely “out of style”, and the beer itself is actually pretty good. Now that I’ve had a few to drink it reminds me of a cross between a Winter Warmer and a Belgian Dubbel, makes sense to me. The beer also starts off very well balance, yes spicy but not overwhelming, though as the beer warms the spices do come to the forefront.

So yesterday, Sunday 03.07.10, McKenzie’s had a small get together/thank you for the brewers that entered and they were going to announce the winners. It was suppose to start at 4 and started just after. They had all of the house beers, plus the regular seasonals, plus they had their award winning Saison available plus a barrel-fermented (not barrel aged) version of the Saison too, there had a little bit of Heywood-toe up in that beer ;). On top of that they also put out a spread with appetizers; wings, hummus, bbq beef – it was nice.

So, I’ll say I didn’t place now, though they did announce a top three winners, even though they had only mentioned there was going to be a first place. The winners were a Dubbel, a Tripel, and a Belgian Strong Ale which took first. Not that I’m complaining, I’m just pointing out the lack of “out of style”-ness of the winners. The very cool part was the winning brewer and recipe will get to be brewed on McKenzie’s system, nice.

I’ll wrap this up with some notes from the judges, honestly only pretty good stuff to say, but anyway here we go:

  • Judge 1 “Alcohol is well hidden and base beer seems beautifully executed, but it’s hard to tell with all of the spice character.”
  • Judge 2 “Great base beer, very well made. Yeast fruit and spice marry well with carmely vanilla like malt character. For me, the spices add great complexity, but tend to dominate a bit too much.”

Kegging & Brewing

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Sunday was productive enough in my little world of homebrewing; kegged the Pale Ales, did some house-keeping, and brewed an Amber Ale.

So of course the highlight is the Amber Ale. I jokingly called it the Anxious Amber because I am so concerned with running out of beer / not having three beers on tap. What’s the point of having three taps if they’re all not full, right? So this is a pretty straight forward Amber, sort of similar malt bill as my California Red but toned down a notch, and a little wacky-bird hop experiment using only traditional bittering hops throughout, Magnum and Chinook – I bet it’ll be great. The Magnums were some sticky fellows, even after washing my hands there was still some tackiness.

The brew day itself went pretty well, no major hic-cups. Still a little perturbed at the extended mashes and extended cool downs after jumping up to 10 gallon batches, thus extending my day over all. It takes me about 80-90 minutes to heat up all of my sparge and mash-out water, which is about 30 minutes longer than I would care to mash. Though, I must say, the last few batches have crushed the efficiencies, like by more than 0.010 points, so maybe there is at least some benefit to the extended mash. The cooling has and always will drive me nuts. I honestly believe a double cycle through a plate chiller would be the way to go. Maybe even whirlpool back into the kettle while pumping to help the trub collect in the middle, let it settle some, and the crack the valve and syphon clean cool wort … hmmm maybe after I have money to blow on homebrew crap again.

Other than that the day was pretty chilled. Transferred the two Pale Ales to kegs and did a bunch of house-keeping. Cleaned up my general work area, cleaned like five carboys, and like two kegs. Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do to keep the beer flowing for these knuckleheads. Speaking of beer flowing, the Chinese 5-Spice Belgian Dubbel-style beer (thus has been dubbed the Chinese Dubbel) has definitely been a crown-pleaser and I am totally down with that.