Archive for January, 2011

Sour Beers and the POPE

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

Couple nice little beer side trips this weekend; an excessive amount of sour beers and a visit with the POPE.

On Friday Guy had invited a nice group of people, maybe 10 people, over to his house for a sour beer tasting. Now many moons ago Guy used to be a BMC kind of person, now he’s probably on of the biggest beer geeks in the area with a cellar and beer trading reputation that will put most peoples to shame. So when I got the invite I knew there was going to be a lot of gems available that night, very generous indeed. To contribute I brought a Bottleworks Deviation IX and an original batch or ’07 Ommegang Ommegeddon. On top of that, there were 30 other sour beers, 32 total, most in 750ml bottles. I’m still waiting for an official list from Guy, but just from the one picture above you can see what kind of stuff we were getting into: Mikkeller, ’03 Festina Lente, multiple Russian Rivers, ’07 Riserva … many a sick beers. I think overall my favorites were brewer by The Lost Abbey and Russian River, these guys crush some sour beer love. I didn’t take any notes because I just wanted to enjoy myself, and after I receive the official list from Guy I may add some mental notes on specific beers, but as of now hear are some of the comments I can remember (paraphrased): Smells like stinky feet, tastes like grand-mom, smells like olive brine, now this one is funky like Herbie Hancock funky, needs more barnyard to be rounded out, definite baby diaper in this beer, like chocolate soaked in sick, balls deep in this beer, it smells like fruity pussy (said by a female), I think this beer was strained through a used sweat sock … And yes, we liked all of these beers, even with those kind of descriptions. Big thanks to Guy for the generosity and hospitality!

Edit – Here’s the list of sour beers Guy sent over, very nice:

  • Temptation
    Sinner’s Blend
    Cuvee de Tomme
    Red Poppy
    Bullfrog Liquid Sunshine  Reserva
    Weyerbacher Riserva
    La Folie
    Mikkeller It’s Alive
    Panil Barriquee
    Upland Peach
    Ithaca Brute
    Bruery Oude Tart
    Avery Sui Generis
    DFH Festina Lente
    Drie Fonteinen Hommage
    Portsmouth Flanders Red
    Captain Lawrence Rosso e Marrone
    Captain Lawrence Cuvee de Castleton
    Cascade The Vine
    Cascade Kriek
    Iron Hill Frambroise de Hill
    New Belgium Lips of Faith Kriek

On Saturday I decided to drive up to Philly to pick up some concert tickets to avoid the wonderful Ticket Master / Live Nation “convenience” charges. So since I was in Philly I wanted to see if there was anything easy and cheap beer-centric going on so I could make the most of my time. I poked around quickly on line and saw the POPE (Pub On Passyunk East) was having their annual chili cook-off event. I have never been to the POPE before but they have a reputation of being a comfortable beer forward corner bar, plus a bunch of different chilies to taste, sign me up! So essentially it was $5 to sample twelve different chilies and then vote on your favorite. The chili was served in small sample cups, probably between two to four ounces each, so after all twelve it was a ton of chili. Most of the chilies were made in the traditional tomato base with beef, but there were of course a few twists. There was one chili that was a huge hit that was made with lamb that kicked very early in the tasting, there was another chili with breakfast sausage in it which was a really neat variation, some with more expensive cuts of meat like buffalo and pork loin, a south Philly pork variant with pork, broccoli rabe, and sharp provolone, and one veggie chili made with 60 Minute IPA. Overall I would say none of the chilies were duds, and a couple were exceptional. I did not stay long enough to see who won and I am not even sure if there was a criteria or not, but my two favorites were the breakfast sausage chili and the south Philly pork chili, both stood out above the others and were worth the risk of stepping outside of the chili box, good job. Along with the chili I enjoyed a Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA and a 21st Amendment Back in Black IPA. Overall it was a nice little pit stop in Philly and I would totally go back to the POPE again to check it out.

So, what’s on tap?

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

That’s pretty much the question whenever I have people over: So, what’s on tap?

Right now there is a nice variety on tap, the California Red, Chocolate American Brown Ale, and the Pepper Sage Saison. All three are pretty good to good, so I can live with that. Sometimes we need to take risks to find out where the world of good taste ends the world of homebrew adventure begins. I’ll go through each briefly.

The CA Red is a big hoppy yet malty beer. It is probably one of my top three favorite types of beers, the over the top hoppy IPAs that are dripping with malty stickiness. Arrogant Bastard from Stone Brewery is a prime example and Racer 5 from Bear Republic, a bomber of either of them and I am a happy guy. So this IPA is brewed in that style, an excessive amount of hops, but still plenty of Crystal malts that add that non-fermentable caramel sugar love to the brew. It’s like candied hops, similar to candied orange rind, but not really, know what I mean? You think it isn’t going to be good, but instead it is delicious. When this beer was fresh this summer it was spot on. This is the second keg with a good six months on it, the hops have definitely faded. The beer is still good, just not as good as it was fresh.

The Chocolate American Brown Ale was the second keg of two. The first I left traditional style and is a beer I have brewed before, it turned out great, nice and malty yet hop forward enough to be balanced, and more flavorful than your typical american brown. This batch I added a pound (if I remember correctly) of powdered straight cocoa. It’s an OK way to add chocolate to your beer. This is the third variant of chocolate I have tried and I’d put it in the middle. The best was straight cocao nibs, though if I used them again I may grind them finer, straight cocoa powder being second, and chocolate syrup being third (not recommended). This beer is nice for one or two, but after that it seems to be a bit too much for real drinkability for my palate.

The Pepper Sage Saison was probably the most anticipated out of the three beers currently on tap and probably the one that fell the flattest. It’s OK, don’t get me wrong, just a little under-attenuated. It’s too sweet for a Saison which then masks too many of the other flavors. Saisons are suppose to be dry, crisp, kind of like a ray of sunshine, mine was definitely sweet, a little heavy, and more like a gray cloud. I think the peppercorn and sage is a GREAT idea for a Saison, but it was just to masked by the sweetness to really tell. The sage was more of an overall flavor, kind of the same from front to back, but the peppercorn had an initial taste on the front of the tongue, than gone, than a soft burn in the back of the throat. I think I used twice the amount of black peppercorn from the original time I used it and honestly I would double that again. Makes me wonder what a black peppercorn and rose petal Saison would taste like … hhmmm.

So anyway, that’s what’s on tap, hit me up if you want to try anything, the bar is always open :). Next lined up are a bunch of hoppy beers (yeah!), there is a simple pale ale brewed with Saison yeast, the SAW Pale ale, the January IPA (Sticky Jr), and I think maybe something else … can’t remember, 10 gallons of each, so plenty to go around. Until next time.

January IPA

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

It’s been a while, how have you been? Great, I’m glad you’re still thirsty for more homebrew.

Today I brewed what was originally labeled as FC Hoppy IPA, which I later mentally dubbed the Hailstorm IPA, but in all honesty it’s the Son of the Stick-Icky IPA. I had written this recipe back in May when I had ordered a bunch of ingredients. I like to write maybe six recipes at a time and then order ingredients accordingly versus ordering a bunch of random stuff and basing my recipes from what’s available. So, this one was just labeled as FC Hoppy IPA, it was roughly based off of the Fool Circle 10th Anniversary Ale Sticky-Icky DIPA. I say roughly because the base malt is slightly different and the hop additions are slightly different, same volume of base malt, and almost the same volume of hops, but with half the dry hops, which is still a half pound.

Anyway, the brew day went alright. It started a little slow, I had run out of coffee! So after a coffee run, I had to run back out to the grocery store to pick an additional ingredient up for the brew day. After the running around and getting the brew area cleaned up I probably started about 11:30AM. No major mishaps, which is great. It was the first brew day with the new basement door installed, which was nice, no more annoying screen door in the way. I did blow a hose on my water filter which was kind of crazy. In the middle of the hose it just blew apart, where there appeared to be no stress, no wear, no nothing, but the tubing was about twice as thin as it should have been, weird. It wasn’t a big deal, I had some extra tubing available and replaced it. About halfway through the brew day the sky started to get much darker, and knowing there was a 50% chance of rain I decided to put up my rain fly, which is essentially a blue tarp held up by bungee cords. It actually worked really well this time; no gaps, no puddles, no billowing. Though, it wasn’t just rain. Where I was we received rain, hail, and ice, it was quite loud but nice and dry and pretty warm from all the additional heat from the steam.

I also, finally worked on the SAW Pale Ale some. It really should have been transferred to kegs like, oh, say, a month or so ago. But, I’ve been slacking hard on the homebrew front, and today I actually transferred it to a third carboy. I was originally going to keg it today,  but forgot I wanted to try and fine the beer with gelatin which takes a couple days. I’ve never used it before, but it is what was available on the fly, so we’ll see. I followed some of the basic techniques on line: boil a cup of water, cool close to room temp, add a TBSP of gelatin, let it bloom, shake/stir, add to carboy, add beer, wait a few days to clear. Hopefully it’ll work. The beer was “clear enough”, but I was hoping it’d be clearer, plus I wanted to experiment with the technique anyway. If it really drops it clear I may use it more often, especially with heavily dry hopped beers which almost always seem to have more haze. After all the brew day action, and transfer fun, and clean up what nots the brew day wrapped a little after 8:00PM, a little long, but not too bad.

So as of now there is ten gallons of Sticky Jr waiting to begin fermentation in my upstairs, too cold during this time of the year in the basement. Hopefully by tomorrow morning it’ll be bubbling away and then ready to transfer in about two weeks, drop a quarter pound of dry hops in each carboy, and then keg (or possibly gelatin and then keg) shortly after. It really shouldn’t be up in the rotation to be put on tap, but I’m a sucker for fresh hoppy beers, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see this beer sooner than later. On tap now is the second keg of CA Red from this summer, mellowed out some in the hop realm but still tasty taste, the Chocolate American Brown, good but I now believe I’ll stick with Cocoa Nibs, and the Sage and Black Peppercorn Saison, tasty but sweeter than it should be. Theoretically more on those three later this week.