Thursday, December 24, 2009

Bashah me mate

bashah is another in what seems to be becoming a line of great collaborative beers betwixt Stone and Brew Dog. Similar to the Black Pilsner, this one is a black Belgian Double IPA. This is quite a cross of styles and is befitting the efforts of two very good breweries.

On the pour, bashah is dark, dark brown with a medium brown head. A deep breath brings an assault to the nose; a mixture of hops and what seems to be whiskey. There is also the scent of Carafa malt, as is fitting a beer with Belgian influence.

The tip of the tongue is meet with the bitterness the nose portrays. As the beer washes to mid-tongue, the bitterness is a blend of hops and roasted malt. The feel is more like an extra stout, but with hops. The hop bitterness gives play to its double IPA roots, while the roasted flavor comes from the generous chocolate malt on the grain bill. There are no discernible yeast esters, so I am not sure where the Belgian portion is, apart from the Carafa malt.

The finish is like a stout, with hints of whiskey. Not sure if this beer was aged in whiskey barrels, but it sure seems to be. The 8.6% ABV gives a nice warm feeling, but not too much. This is no session beer, but would be nice with a cleansing cheese.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Of beer and blogging

Finally, I am back to a blog entry after far too long an absence. I am finding that Twitter consumes my ideas on a far quicker basis and leaves me not wishing to type at the end of the day. I would write that I resolve to do better, but I know such a declaration will not be long met. I will strive to do better though.

As I sit in my kitchen awaiting the boil, I am reminded that the last time I made this beer, I blogged during the boil, though it was a bit into it before I started. This is a recipe I've made before, though I am trying to make only one change. Until such time as my regular tasters have had their guess, I will not reveal here what I have made. It is enough, perhaps too much, to state that it is a crowd favorite and one long overdue for a revisit.

The one change, however, is something I do care to discuss. When I racked the Black Abbey to secondary, I took some of the yeast dregs and placed them in a sanitized mason jar. This was placed into the fridge awaiting a vessel to house a starter. I have never used a yeast starter, so I consulted multiple sources before pursuing. I would like to thank @derekclayton for allowing me to use his half-gallon growler. We had met at @rockbottomcincy to try their beers, but he was not able to get them to fill his growler with their Barley wine. All was not a total loss though was we were able to speak to their header brewer Mitch for a good length of time.

Boil nearly ready to start.

The hops scheduled to go the full 75 minute boil are in a bag that I hope is large enough. Paradise did not have any of the smaller hop bags, so I cut larger one that I tend to use for grains into three sections. Time will tell how well this will work.

Boil has started and so has timer. Hot break starting to form on the top. I will start scooping it out soon. The next hops do not go in for about 35 minutes. I have noticed that I get more foam when using grains from Paradise. I am beginning to wonder if they are perhaps cracking the grains too well and I'm getting more grain dust than I do when I crack the grains at Listermann's. One of these days, I'll get my own grain mill and have no one to blame save myself.

One of my nephews spent the night and today he and my son wanted some of the Root Beer we made several months ago with their lunch. When we made it, somewhere we goofed and the bottles do not tend to have carbonation (natural, of course). The bottle my son had, however, did have fizz. Hey, made it does work??!?! We will have to try some again later.

I am still in extract mode, though I am getting closer to at least trying a partial mash. Currently, I do not have a large enough pot in which to boil 6 gallons of water down to 5.5. I am wondering if perhaps I use 6-7 pounds of malt to get 3-3.5 gallons of water if that will be partial enough. I have begun the practice of boiling the fill water before pitching. I know that is not the same, but at least the water is boiled of its city water chemicals.

The first hop bag is floating well. It is 25 minutes till the next ounce.

Now more about the change. Technically, there are a few others, though they should have limited affect on the outcome. One being that the extract is different, though about the same SRM, but it is not made from a different grain. Another is that the alphas of the hops do not match. Again, I am not too bothered by that. One of these days though, I will need to decide on the IBU and adjust my hops and boils accordingly. The most significant difference is the yeast. Instead of an American ale yeast like last time, this one will have the White Labs WLP570. This will give a Belgian twist and it should be interesting.

I have some cleanup to do and the fill water needs to get boiled. Tomorrow will be a busy day with bottling the Black Abbey and I am sure my wife will want to start decorating the Christmas tree. I don't tend to get into the right mood for such until about the 20th of December, so I just smile and help.

Until then.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Belgian Barley Mead

My latest hair-brained idea of a recipe. I want to make this next, if I can keep the wort warm enough to ferment at 70-75F.


5# light/amber malt extract
4# buckwheat honey
1# Crystal 80L
1.5# Munich
.25# Carafa III
.5# Chocolate Malt
2oz Warrior or Simcoe hops (maybe 1 each??) 60 min
1oz Simcoe (1/3 @ 30, 1/3 @ 15, 1/3 @ off)
1oz Sterling (½ @ 10, ½ @ off)
1 tsp. Gypsum
1 tsp. Irish moss (15 min)
Belgian Strong ale yeast


Put 2 gallons of water and Gypsum in a pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool to 170F. Add grains and steep grains at 155F for 20 minutes. Remove grains, add extract and bring to boil. Hops as scheduled.

For honey, bring 1 quart of water to a boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in honey. Cover and let set at least 20 minutes. Add to boil at heat off.

Cool to 70F, rack, fill to 5.5 gallons and pitch yeast. Would be best with a big starter. After 2 weeks, rack to secondary for at least 2 more.

For a twist, secondary for at least 4 weeks over 1 pound of medium oak chips.

Friday, October 30, 2009

In the dark (series, beer #2)

Next up in my In the dark series of beer styles not normally dark is Black Abbey Ale. This is an adaptation of my In the Abbey, but is not a straight conversion. The crystal malt is swapped for Aromatic malt and Dark Candi sugar replaces the light brown sugar. The yeast is also different with White Labs WLP570 being used. As Listermann's was out of Hallertauer hops, Spalt is being used instead.

As promised, here is the recipe:


10 lbs Canadian Pale Malt Extract (est. 8 SRM)
1.5 lbs Carafa III malt (500 L)
2 lbs Aromatic Malt (26 SRM)
1 oz Sterling hop pellets (5 min)
1 oz Spalt hop pellets (60 min)
1 oz Kent Goldings hop pellets (60 min)
1 vile of White Lab's Belgian Golden yeast (WLP570)
2 tsb Gypsum
2 tsb Irish Moss
Priming Sugar for bottling


Place 2.5 gallons of cold water in the kettle with the Gypsum and stir. Place cracked grains in a grain bag and bring water to a boil. Heat off, remove bag and allow to drain. Stir in extract and candi sugar. Be sure they are well dissolved before adding heat. Bring to a boil and skim off heat break. Put Spalt and Goldings in a hop bag and place in the kettle. Boil for 1 hour. At 15 minutes to go, put in Irish Moss. At 5 minutes to go, put in Sterling hops (hop bag is optional here, I prefer not).

Turn heat off and cool. Rack to fermentor and fill to 5 gallons. Aerate and pitch yeast.

Primary fermentation: 2 weeks
Secondary (if desired): 2 weeks

Bottle or keg when fermentation complete.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Your Scotch is me beer!

Tonight is a review of Mikkeller/BrewDog's Devine Rebel. This one is a collaboration between two of Europe's best extreme brewers. It is somewhere amongst a barley wine and a strong ale and has noticeable influences from both sides of the North Sea.

Upon opening the bottle, it is immediately apparent that something is different. The fill level is nearly to the top! Most interesting. This one is bottle aged, so pour to leave the yeast in the bottom. The coloring is a deep caramel and the head is the color light brown sugar (ok, perhaps lighter than that). Not bad, let's see where this goes.

Cold, the Scotch flavourings from the barrels smacks your nose. There are hints of barley malts and some hops in there, but the Scotch is quite forward. The tip of the tongue is greeted with Scotch bitterness and alcohol. It has the smooth feel of beer aged in old whiskey barrels.

Mid-mouth, the malt sweetness blends with the Scotch tones. As it gets warmer, the sweetness becomes easier to detect. Hold it in your mouth and the sweetness increases. It is one to savor the moment and close your eyes. The finish is quite pronounced with Scotch and hop bitterness. It very eagerly removes the sweetness from the tongue leaving Scotch flavors.

A few swirls of the glass and all these aromas and flavors intensify a bit. This is one to hold and breathe through your teeth. The Scotch flavor really picks up.

This one is quite interesting. I'm no fan of Scotch, but I do like this mixture. It is not one for the timid, but it doesn't require a strong hop palette to enjoy. At 12%, it pretty much is a "one and done." Just be sure to find your feet before you stand up.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Rogue among men

Last Friday, Jim Cline from the Rogue Brewery was at Jungle Jim's for a tasting. It was quite nice for the brewery to finally send him out this way. On the taste list were 11 beers, but one more was added as a surprise.

As is customary when the brewery sends a representative, the telling of the back stories of the beers is one of the main reasons I like the tastings at Jungle Jim's. It would be quite easy for me and a group of friends to buy the beers to taste, but the stories of how and why help round out the picture. One of these days I might actually take notes of the stories instead of just the beers.

Anyway, on to the beers.

Maierfest Lager
This one seems to want to be a mix of an Oktoberfest and a Maibock. It is orange in color and the Munich malts are pronounced on the nose and tongue. Mid-mouth there is good malt sweetness with some hops on the finish. Very nice. Where's the Rotwurst und Senf?

Juniper Pale Ale
What an interesting one this is. Made with Juniper berries, it is clean on the nose with hints of yeast and juniper. The juniper adds to the bitterness and blends with the hops mid-mouth and on the finish. It is a nice blend and doesn't swerve into tasting like Gin.

American Amber
A bit of a low gravity beer, it has a malty nose and hops are mid-mouth to finish. Some lingering malty sweetness.

Dead Guy Ale
Now we are starting to talk here. Malt on start with caramel start to finish. There is a slight hop presence mid-mouth. This one reminds me of the Alt Biers I had in Germany. It is a lager recipe made with ale yeast. Quite homebrewish.

Double Dead Guy
Dead Guy kicked up a few notches, this is the kind of beer I like buying. It is a bit of a sweet beer as malt is noticeable from start to finish. There is some hops in there and the finish has a slight presence of alcohol. Would be quite easy to drink too much of this one.

Hazelnut Brown Nectar
If you like hazelnuts, this is your beer. They are present from start to finish. They give the beer a bit of sweetness, but it is not syrupy. Would go well with breakfast.

Captain Sig's Northwestern Ale
A good ale with nice hop presence. There are hops on the nose with Munich again noticeable (yeah, I'm starting to detect a pattern). Cascade and Willimette hops dance from mid-mouth to the finish. Pass me another.

Yellow Snow IPA
In typical American IPA style, this one has citrus and grapefruit on the nose. Mid-mouth, the malt and citrus tone together nicely. The grapefruit taste continues all the way to the end. The use of Amarillo hops is quite noticeable. It is 70 IBU, but it doesn't feel that high thanks to the generous malts. If the 5L kegs get sold around here, I'm buying one.

Mocha Porter
The first of the dark beers, this one has a coffee presence, but it is not overpowering. There is coffee and chocolate on the nose. Mid-mouth it is a bit malty and the finish is smooth.

Shakespeare Stout
There is malt bitterness on the nose. Mid-mouth is clean with notes of oats (yeah, I know). There is some malt bitterness on the finish.

Santa's Private Reserve
The truck from the brewery to the local distributor was held up one day just for this beer. It has malt on the nose and is sweet in the start. Mid-mouth, the Chinook hops come up and say hello. Not nearly as fruity or spicy as other Christmas beers, it is more a red ale than a holiday one. Quite good.

Smoke Ale
When Jim said it was a smoked beer, there are certain expectations that enter your mind, but on the pour you realize they are not correct. This one pours orange and there is smoke from the nose all the way to the finish. There is malt presence mid-mouth. Typically, I'm not a fan of smoked beers, but I do like this one. Would go well with a double bacon cheeseburger.

At the end of the tasting, we stood up and took the Rogue Nation oath. I did this previously via the website while I was drinking a Northwestern Ale, but it was nice to do it in a crowd. Rogue, thanks again for sending Jim all this way and I do hope you make to next year's Spring Beer fest at Jungle Jim's. Also thanks for having a nice, clean website that makes deep linking easy.

And to that table that was too loud and made it hard to hear, a pox on your house. Talk about the beers guys.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Next up

I finalized the recipe for the next beer this past Saturday, but I've yet to buy the supplies. I do hope to do that this week and get Brainmuffin's Beer Kitchen going before the trick-or-treaters start showing up on Saturday. Not sure if I will go to Listermann's or Paradise.

The Rogue beer tasting at Jungle Jim's last Friday night was quite good, with the only exception being the loud talkers at a table near us. It would not have been too bad had they been talking about the beers, but they were not. I'll get my review of the beers in later this week. I was surprised how many of them had a Maibock base.

I did deliver some of the one hop ale - Cascade to some of the usual suspects, as well as a homebrewer I met. He also gave me a bottle of his latest. Not bad for a basic ale and considering that it is his second ever batch. He wants to learn more and made do this professionally. Here's to his conquest. I look forward to trading beers and ideas with him.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Trying One Hop Ale - Cascade

I bottled this version of the one hop ale on the 17th, so it has been in the bottle about 5 days. Time to see how it is doing. This morning I put a test bottle in the fridge to enjoy in the evening. I set the bottle out on the counter for a bit to allow it to warm.

The particulars as calculated by BeerSmith:
34 IBU
4.9% ABV

It pours nice and golden, with a thick, foamy, white head. Not as clear as I had hoped, but clearer than the Crystal Ale. On the nose, the one ounce of dry hop Cascade in the secondary is quite noticeable. There are also slight hints of Crystal malt.

The drink starts with a little bit of sweetness and some hop bitterness. The bittering hops here were one ounce of Cascade, so not too much bitterness. Mid-mouth the feel is quite light and thin. Perhaps I should have used a little dextrin malt in this one. The fruitiness of the Cascade is present and so is some malt. Pause for a moment, and the hop bitterness can be detected.

The finish is a clean mix of the hop flavor and its bitterness. There is a lingering bitterness, which seems surprisingly high for this variety. The lingering does make one search for another sip.

All in all, not bad for this experiment. This is a nice session ale that is easy to drink, yet has good flavor. As would be expected with a one hopper, there does seem to be something missing, but it isn't enough to detract from the beer. I can't wait to do this same recipe with another hop. Perhaps Northern Brewery or Warrior???

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Making one hop - Cascade

While I am waiting for the water to come to a boil from the crystal malt, here's an update on equipment. Yesterday at Listermann's, I not only purchased the supplies I needed for today's batch, I also bought a false bottom for the 10 gallon cooler and a sparger. Next I will need a sparging bucket and a 10 gallon boil kettle. An instant read thermometer would be nice too. Hopefully I will be able to acquire these over the next few months. I look forward to doing a partial mash before going all grain.

Today's recipe is quite simple, though the idea came from Mikkeller. This is the first in a series of ales using only one hop throughout. I also see it as a way to better learn what each hop does. Yes, I realize with all the varieties, this will take years, but I'm still heading down that road anyway.

With each batch, the recipe is 1 lbs of Crystal (10 L), 6.5 pounds of pale malt extract and 4 ounces of hops. Bittering will be for 60 minutes and flavor for 15. One ounce at heat off and one in the secondary. Some will be good, some not, but each will teach.

So, let's get to today's activities. I will update the blog at each stage.
  • Placed 2.5 gallons of cold water into the brew pot with 1 tsp of Gypsum. Crystal malt into a grain bag and placed in the water. Heat on and wait for water to start to boil. I placed my sanitized thermometer in to make sure I get to boiling temps before I turn the heat off.
  • Water has now started to boil. Heat off and holding bag over pot until drained. I do not squeeze the bag and will toss once drained. I have an electric stove, so waiting for the bag to drain also allows the element to cool a bit before I add the extract. Nothing like burning the extract on the bottom of the brew kettle.
  • Extract added and pot well stirred to mix the extract. Temperature dropped to 165 when I added the extract. Heat is back on and waiting for boiling to start. Will add boiling hops soon.
  • While I am waiting for the kettle to boil again, I get another pot out to sanitize the immersion chiller by boiling. This pot will hold a couple of gallons and will take quite awhile for it to start boiling. I boil the chiller for ten minutes.
  • Timer set to 60 minutes and will be started when boiling does. The timer on the stove will be used to time when the flavor hops and Irish moss go in.
  • Just dawned on me that I should perhaps be putting times on this updates. Ok, will from now on. Time are in 24 hour, Easter Daylight Time for the US.
  • 1328 - temps in the kettle are now at 180 F. Hot break is starting to form. It too much starts to foam, I will skim some off.
  • 1330 - pot with water for sanitizing the immersion chiller is on the back burner. I have an old (ok, very old) Caloric brand oven/stove. There are two large burners and two small ones and it is very inefficient. One of these days it will get updated.
  • 1333 - temp at 190 F and kettle starting to show signs of boiling. I put the bittering hops in a hop back and placed then in. Timer not started yet. I tend to use the disposable bags as the vinyl ones I cannot seem to get cleaned well enough to not retain odors. If anyone has tips, please let me know.
  • 1336 - temp now at 200 F and boiling will start soon. Water in the sanitizing pot is barely warm to the touch. Both burners are on high.
  • 1341 - boiling has started. Started timer and skimmed off hot break with a sanitized slotted spoon. Thermometer shows temp of 208 F. This is an old candy thermometer that I've had since I first started brewing, not sure how accurate it is. Water in pot for chiller is started to steam a bit. This was filled with cold tap water and I need to boil off the various chemicals in the water before I put the chiller in.
  • 1350 - boiling is really going well now and the temp is up to 210 F. While it is boiling, I will be getting the sink faucet converted so that the water line feed on the chiller can be connected. Have to keep on eye on the brew kettle though, as a boil over would be a mess.
  • 1404 - just under 20 minutes to go till the Irish moss and flavor hops go in. Water in the sanitizing hot is steaming, but not yet boiling. This is why I start it the same time I crank the brew kettle up. Sometimes, I use the same pot to steep the specialty grains.
  • 1409 - while I'm waiting for things to get to the next step, I'm gonna open a mystery bottle of my homebrew that's been in the fridge for quite some time.
  • 1410 - ugh, it was one of my attempts at a stout, more than likely Crystal My Oats v2, and it has gone B.A.D. bad. Out it went.
  • 1412 - the water for sanitizing the chiller is now boiling, so I've placed the chiller in. I'll let it boil for at least 10 minutes before turning off the heat. I will leave the chiller in the water until I need it. I also fetched a cooling rack/large trivet that my wife bought at Ikea. It is large enough to place the hot boil kettle on, without harming the kitchen counter top. This puts it closer to the sink for cooling.
  • 1425 - Irish moss and flavor hops are now in. Had to put some more water in the pot with the chiller. Will boil it a few minutes more. Next will be heat off and aroma hops in, then hook up the chiller.
  • 1433 - Six minutes to go in the boil. I have to take my daughter to a birthday party that starts at 1500. Not sure if chilling will be finished before then or not. Fortunately, the house is only about 5 minutes away.
  • 1439 - heat off, aroma hops in. Those did not go in a bag and will stay with beer through primary. Now to hook up chiller and get cooling started. One thing to remember about the chiller, any water that was still in the copper coil when boiled will be very hot once the water flow starts. Keep hands away from the end till flushed.
  • 1445 - chiller hooked up and running. To flush, I have the cold on high, but I turn it to barely a trickle afterward. This way, the water will come out the nose very hot, sometimes steaming, which is exactly what is wanted. Copper is a very good conductor of heat and the hot water testifies to that. While it is cooling, I'll run Keleigh to the party and then rack to fermentor and pitch when I get back. The cooling will take about 15-20 minutes.
  • 1512 - cooling done and disconnected chiller. Now to rinse the fermentor, rack off and fill with cold water to 5 gallons. Then aerate and pitch.
  • 1553 - yeast finally pitched and fermentor placed downstairs where it is currently 68 F. Pitch Munton's Premium Gold dry yeast. Have fun little ones. SG is 1.050.
I hope this gives everyone what it is like to brew, albeit with extract. I know I didn't put all the times on here, but the fun and games started around noon. The volume after racking to the fermentor was about 2 gallons, so half was lost in the malt and boil. Filling from my fridge's filtered and cool line takes time and I should have been filling one gallon junks during the boil. This helps to cut down on the time the wort is exposed to the air for filling and before the yeast is pitched. We shall see if all goes well.

Now the cleanup begins. If I am lucky, I'll be done with that in about an hour. I've already cleaned the chiller and boiled in for about 10 minutes to make sure all the nasties are off of it. The brew pot is always the fun one to clean and I usually let it soak for awhile. I did get some water on the floor while rinsing various equipment, so I'll have a stick floor to clean. All in all, this is about typical for me. I long for the day when I can do this all in my garage.

Happy brewing.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

First check of crystal

My Crystal Ale APA was bottled on Saturday and this is the first sampling since then. I chilled a bottle down in the freezer for about 20 minutes and then let it sit out for 10 before opening.

It pours a nice golden color with a little of haze. I don't think this is a chill haze as the unchilled bottle has the same. In time, it will be seen if this beer clears with more settling. There is a nice while head, though it is a bit thin.

The nose is full of the citrus of Cascade with a hint of the Challenger. There is also something else in the nose, not quite sure what it is. The blend of other aroma hops perhaps.

The tip of the tongue is hit with the 110 IBUs squarely, though it is not unpleasant. Mid-mouth there is mostly hops with a hint of the Crystal malt sweetness. The feel is a bit thin. The finish is unbalanced with hops and not much else. Again there is the presence of something not known.

Overall, this is an ok APA. Will see how it ages. It does show that I am in need of something other than a plastic bucket for primary. I also need to learn a bit more about hop schedules and balancing the dry hops. The mouth feel is fine and there is no balance in either the hop mixture nor the malt.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My APA and Samuel Smith's Old Brewery

My APA with it's 5.2% ABV and 110 IBU goodness was bottled last Saturday. It is starting to clear nicely, though some bottles have bits of hop floating in them. I will give it a few more days before trying a bottle. So far, looks good.

Sunday, a co-patroller gave me a bottle of Samuel Smith's Old Brewery Pale Ale. The color is a bit dark brown for a modern pale, but for the time, it was called a pale to distinguish it from a porter. The swell is a bit malty, but it is sour on the tongue and quite bitter after.

The characteristics get a bit more intense as it warms. The balance seems off and I don't like the effects. Perhaps I am too used to modern brews, but this is not one I'd have again. 6

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Founders Day

Before I forget yet again, I am finally getting to my notes from the Founders tasting at Jungle Jim's. And what better way to write about Founders beer than with 12 ounces of Double Trouble.

Dry Hopped Pale Ale
This one is quite clean at the start and through mid-mouth. The hop presence is light throughout with hops most notable at the end. It is a good pale ale. 6

Typically, I am no fan of fruity beers and this one is no exception. Not nearly as sweet as most cherry beers, but it is sweet. Cherries are present from the nose to finish. It is also sweet from start to finish, but not syrupy. 4

Roasted malt and alcohol are noticeable on the nose. From the tip of the mouth through mid, there is some hop bitterness. There is also some malt bitterness from mid to finish. All in all, a good porter, but not great. 7

Dirty Bastard
A Scottish ale, but which kind? It is ok cold, but like many Scottish ales, it gets better as it gets warmer. Malty sweetness on the nose and some smokey notes. This makes it more of the American variety. Mid-mouth there is smokiness and alcohol. The finish is a good blend of hops and malt. 8

Centennial IPA
One of two IPAs for the evening. This one is hoppy and floral on the nose. Malt and hops dance mid-mouth. The finish is well balanced with little hop bitterness. 8

Red's Rye
Grapefruit and malt on the nose. There is a rye presence mid-mouth, with hops and grapefruit. The finish is similar and there is rye in the drinker's nose afterward. 9

Breakfast Stout
I've had the KBS, which is a different recipe, but I find the ideals of the breakfast stouts. There is coffee and chocolate on the nose. The mid-mouth is smooth. Very nice. There is a presence of coffee beans and chocolate throughout. 10

Double Trouble
The second IPA of the night. Hops are on the nose, as well as, yeast and citrus notes. The malt and hops are high, but well balanced mid-mouth. The finish is hoppy. 10

Old Curmudgeon
The first of the two growlers for the night's tasting. Pour from the taps of the brewery restaurant. The nose is malty and vanilla. Mid-mouth is sweet, with molasses is noticeable. The finish has an alcohol warmth. Awesome. 10+

Hand of Doom
This is a bourbon barrel aged version of Double Trouble and was the second growler. Hops are on the nose. Mid-mouth is sweetness and bourbon. The finish is bourbon. Most excellent. 10++

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Left hand with the right hand

Today I'm trying Left Hand Brewer's Oktoberfest. This bottle was given to me by a friend of mine to try. I like Oktoberfest beer, especially with nice Oktoberfest food.

On the pour, the color is a nice orange with a yellowish head. Cold, the bitterness is high, from malt and hops. At temperature, there is nice sweetness on the nose. On the tip of the tongue, there is a nice mix of sweet and hop bitterness. The two swirl around the tongue mid-mouth to give a delightful dance and good mouth feel. The finish is clean, with the same dance of sweet and bitter. It leaves one wanting another sip or another bit of wurst. Very nice.

The American Pale ale is going along nicely. Perhaps three ounces of hop pellets was too much in the secondary as quite a bit of it is around the top of the carboy. Next time I might try hydrating the hops with the water that I will need to top off after racking. This should help it settle more quickly. It has about 10 days to go before bottling. I have confirmed that its IBU is 110.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Go Northwest, young man

I am not sure this is my first Rogue ale, but I do not recall any others. As Rogue is coming next month to Jungle Jim's for a tasting, I picked up a bottle of Northwestern Ale after the Two Brothers brewing tasting. Put away and nearly forgotten, I put it in the fridge last night to try tonight.

It pours a bit fizzy. It is a deep red with a creme color head. When gold, the Cascade hops are quite noticeable in the nose. As it warms a bit, the Munich malt comes up to blend with the hops. The nose is very nice and inviting.

The drink starts with some hop bitterness and crystal malt sweetness. The 80 IBUs make their presence quite known. Mid-mouth is a swirl of cascade spiciness, malt sweetness, Much malt mouth feel and Willamette bitterness. The finish is all hops and mostly the bitterness of the Willamette.

During consumption, the head stays as a thin layer of creme and clings to the sides of the glass. The crystal malt (or Carastan as the label says) has a stronger presence as it warms up, but it never gets close to the hops. There is the slightest hint of chocolate malt, but the beer needs to get quite warm to detect it. Had I not read the label, I am doubtful I would have noticed. The label also lists "Free range coastal water" as an ingredient. Ok, what does that mean? No city water? They have to herd the water from a local field and get it into the brewery?

It is nice and hoppy. A definite keeper.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Crystal Ale goes live

What an interesting and long day this has been. Looks like we will be calling Roto-rooter sometime soon. Yippie. But that's a different topic.

My latest recipe is a push back into pale ales like I did years ago, this time with a bigger hops bill. In fact, the hops costs me more than the extract and the specialty grains. This one should be fairly pale, with 8 pounds of extract (5 @ 2L and 3 @ 4L) and nine ounces of hops. Yeah, that's right, nine ounces. I will use three of them to dry hop when it goes to the secondary.

The hops

Simcoe - 90 minutes, 12.7%
Warrior - 60 minutes, alpha 15.8%
Sterling - 20 minutes, 10 minutes and 1 minute, alpha 6%
Kent Goldings - 12 minutes, alpha 4.5%
Cascade - dry hop, alpha 7.5%
Challenger - dry hop, alpha 7.0%

Only the Simcoe and Warrior went into hop bags, so the Sterling and Goldings should also impart some flavor during fermentation. I used a dry yeast, but hopefully it will not get overly excited like what happened on the black ale. I do long for cooler temperatures so that the fermentation will be better controlled.

As for the total IBUs, I really need someone to help me with BeerSmith to make sure I am setting then in properly. I put all but the drop hops to boiling with their times and it shows an IBU of 110. If that is correct, this will really be bitter. Sure there are 3 pounds of crystal in there, but that may not be enough. We shall see in a few weeks.

To those who have samples of the black ale, please try them and let me know. I doubt it will keep well, so drink up now. When it gets a bit cooler, I will make the barley wine again and perhaps an Imperial version of the black. Both of these should store well.

Till next time.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A style and a review

In keeping with other styles of ale, I am proposing that the American Black Ale come in a standard, double, imperial, etc style. To that end, my proposal for the standard style is as follows:
  • OG: 1.040-1.055
  • FG: 1.010-1.020
  • IBU: 25-60
  • SRM (Lov): 45-65
  • ABV: 4.5%-6.5%
My "Kiss of Winter Black Ale" pushes this standard a bit, with its OG at 1.074 and estimated ABV of 6.9%. That's not too bad. Feel free to voice in and help shape this style. Why should the Belge have all the fun with a defined black ale?

Tonight I tried New Glarus Hop Hearty. I left the bottle out for 20 minutes before I poured to let it warm up and have the hops more alive. As is sometimes typical of a hoppy beer, the head poured nice and tall. The beer is a nice golden color and the head a bit like cream. On the nose there is noticeable Crystal malt and a hint of hops. For a beer that is labeled an IPA, it is a bit mild here. Swirling only seems to deliver more malt.

On the tongue, the malt sweetness is in the foreground, but there is a Cascade chaser. There's isn't much else there. The body is a bit thin and clean. The finish is a mild mix of hops and malt. There is a lingering aftertaste of hops. Just enough to make you wanting another, but not so much that all one tastes for the next hour is hops. A drink of water removes what is there. A hoppy beer I would label this one not.

The alcohol content is a bit high to call it a session beer, but it is definitely one to enjoy with food and friends. Enjoy this with well flavored food and there will be no worries of the beer overpowering what you are eating.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Bock me in the Double

Up today is Sprecher's Premium Double Bock. A beer given to me by a friend of mine to try to inspire better beers out of me. Thanks.

In their infinite wisdom, Sprecher produces 16 ounce bottles. Sure they are twist offs, but I'm willing to overlook it in favour of the full pint of goodness. From the pour, it is as expected, with a light brown head, but the carbonation seems to be artificial. I thought perhaps I had poured too cold, but the impression persisted as it warmed up.

On the nose, sweetness and alcohol are noticed. A quick swirl and there is a hint of bread from the Munich malt. Caramel and Vienna malts mix in the dance of sweetness. On the tip of the tongue is the malty sweetness expected from a bock. There is the slightest hint of hops. Mid tongue, the subtle balance of the hops and the malts dance around. This is a drink to be savored and enjoyed. The finish is clean with the flavor of the Saaz coming forward. There is just enough hop presence left on the palette to make the drinker want more.

A very nice bock indeed.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Das Bier ist alt

In December 1996 I was able to visit my parents in Germany. I was just into my quest for beer knowledge and did not fully realize the questions I should have been asking. One night in a restaurant, I ordered an Altbier. What came was a small glass containing a dark liquid. It was much sweeter than I anticipated and contained an unusual taste. If I did track down this style, I have long forgotten. Skip forward 13 years. A friend gave me a 12 pack sampler from New Glarus and inside was an Alt. I've been looking forward to review ever since.

The pour is what to be expected for the style: a dark caramel with a white head. The color is what I remember. On the nose, there is sweetness and vanilla. There are hints of crystal malt as well. On the tongue, the sweetness of the style is noticeable. Underneath the sweetness, there are hints of hops, but it is not too strong. Mid mouth it is still sweet and the Hallertau hops are a little noticeable. The finish continues the same theme of sweetness and some hop presence.

This is a style I need to investigate more. The style in an interesting mix of ale and lager brewing techniques. Top-fermenting yeast is used, but there is secondary lagering of the beer, just at the warmer ale temperatures. There is also very little presence of esters. Like an ale, the New Glarus Alt gets more flavorful as it gets warmer. Very nice.

I do like the New Glarus take on the Altbier. Too bad this is in their "we no longer make it" pile. I will need to visit my favorite old school recipe site Cats Meow 3 for ideas. I do need to make one of these.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Checking the black ale

Since it was in the secondary for so long, I thought I'd get a reality check on the Kiss of Winter Black Ale. I chilled a bottle for 3 hours in the fridge.

The pour is thick and the aroma is of the Belgian malts. The head is a nice medium brown and somewhat creamy. On the nose are the malts and some hints of pine from the Ahtanum hops. On the tongue there is some sweetness from the Crystal malt and bitterness from the Warrior. The hop flavor is a bit weak. Some reviews of Ahtanum I read stated this and it seems 1oz was not enough. The finish gives some bitterness from the malt (not much, I did use debittered) and bitterness from the Warrior. For a 50 IBU beer, it does not seem as bitter given to the balancing of the crystal.

Possible changes:
  • 3 total ounces of Ahtanum with 1 ounce put in the boil at 20, 10 and 2 minutes to go.
  • Replace Ahtanum with Centennial
  • Dry hop with Centennial in the secondary
  • An ounce of Cluster added at 12 minutes to go
  • lower black malt to 1.5 lbs
  • use 40L Crystal instead of 80L
I'll check this one again in a week and see where it is. It is very nice now, just needs some tweaking to remove any hint of malt bitterness and kick up the hops a bit.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Two brothers and a guy named Christian

Tonight at Jungle Jim's, Christian from Two Brothers Brewing was in town to let us taste the brews and give tales behind each (much of which I cannot quote). They are a growing brewery in the Chicago area and have a good line of well balanced beers. There's nothing really over the top here, just good, honest beer with loads of character and flavor.

This evening's tasting was a bit of an oddity. The turn out was light and it started a bit late, yet it was done early. Normally we then talk in the store until they are shooing us out and then talk some more in the parking lot. But tonight, we were all done and gone by 10, even after I gave some of my homebrew out. Some are blaming it on our missing comrades, but who knows. Even speculation, on to the beers.

Dog Days Dortmunder Lager - 4.9% ABV, 27 IBU

Normally, I don't really go for the Dortmunder style. To me, it seems like a style that doesn't know what it wants to be when it grows up. This one was a bit different. On the nose, it was slight hops with hints of honey. Mid-tongue the noble hops came out to play. The finish was clean and refreshing. It definitely had you wanting more and is a nice summer beer.

Prairie Path - 5.1%, 28 IBU

This is what Coor's Banquet beer wants to be in its dreams. The Saaz hops is noticeable on the nose and throughout. There is some hop bitterness on the start and hints of peppercorn mid-tongue and on the finish. It has some Pilsner characteristics due to the use of noble hops, but it is an ale. Would make a nice session beer without getting sloshed.

Domain DuPage - 5.9%, 24 IBU

If there was ever a beer that would go with just about any food, this would be it. Malty from nose to finish due to the Crystal malt, this French Amber ale is all about enjoyment. The are some earthy tones mid and on the finish from the hops and the bitterness comes from the yeast. What hop presence there is balances the sweetness very well. Great balance on this one. I rated this one third best.

Bitter End - 5.2%, 36 IBU

Just about every craft brewery has a pale ale and Two Brothers final gave in and made one. It's name comes from the fact that the brewery held out "until the bitter end" before making one. This classic American Pale is all crystal malt and Cascade and Centennial hops. There are some Mount Hood hops dancing around in there too. With grapefruit on the nose, this one starts Cascade and gives way to malt and pine mid-tongue. The hop finish is a bit more pine than anything. The balance of all the flavors is again noticed. Not too bad.

Cane & Ebel - 7.0%, 68 IBU

Ever wonder what it would be like to make a Red Rye beer and add Thai Palm Sugar? Well, wonder no more and get this beer. I'm not sure of the bittering hop, but Summit is used in the last 3-5 minutes of the boil and during the dry hop. The result is a beer with hop and palm sugar on the nose, pine and grapefruit mid and a hoppy finish. The rye malt goes along for the ride and sometimes plays referee amongst all the other flavors and tones. This one is a wild ride for the mouth. I rated this one second.

Hop Juice - 9.9%, 122 IBU

Yeah, you read that right, 122 IBU, but this one does not have the bitterness to punch you in the mouth and steal your lunch money like a DogFish Head 120 might. Simcoe hops are used in the bittering and Amarillo on the flavor, but the abundant use of Crystal malts brings a balance rarely seen in an Imperial IPA. Very smooth and enjoyable. This was my pick for best beer of the night.

Bare Tree Weiss - 10%

Unlike the others, this beer is brewed with the same recipe every year. That means, no tweaking based on the current year's hop alphas and barley starch yields. This particular one was 10%, but no idea on IBU. Made with a wheat base (57%) and German hops, this barley wine is like none other I've ever had. Close your eyes and sniff and one would swear there was white wine in the glass. Grape and rye flavors dance around the tongue while sampling. Let it warm a bit and other spices start to come alive. Not a fan, but very unique.

Bonfire - 6.2%, 15 IBU

This aged Dunkel Weiss pours dark and fizzy. Meant to warm your backside when you are sitting in front of a bonfire, this beer starts with bananas and gives chocolate mid. Hop presence is very slight and no bitterness. A smooth dark beer for those who are afraid of the dark.

Red Eye - 9.3%

Ethiopian coffee beans are roasted and used in fermentation of this beer. The result is a strong coffee aroma and taste, without the caffeine. One would need to drink several bottles of this to get to a single cup of coffee. Mid-tongue, the malts become noticeable. The finish is clean. This one is for the coffee lover. This one I put fourth, just behind Domain DuPage.

All around, the beers were very good and very well balanced. The only negative I have is that their website sucks. Come on guys, get off FrontPage and make a real site. If you need help, please let me know.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tasting notes from 21 Aug 2009 - Part I

Friday, the 21st of August, a few of us gathered at a friends' house to help them make a dent into their beer store. The list is long enough to break into parts. Just how many parts will depend of how I far I get and when I feel like stopping. My notes are not too detailed, so the reviews will be short. Two beers that will not be included are my Cluster-Fuggles ale and "It's the Abbey" Ale. I will also include my rating out of 10.

New Glarus - Organic Revolution

An interesting place to start. Starts with a yeast smell, much like fresh bread. Hops are also on the nose. It is an interesting combination. Mid-mouth, it turns a bit malty and this stays through the finish. Solid 7

Heavy Seas - Holy Sheet

Traces of alcohol and sweetness on the nose. Not too bad. Balance is ok through mid, while there is a slight alcohol burn on the finish. 7

Steinhaus - Frugal Joe's Ordinary Beer

Unless this one went really bad, from the pour, one has to wonder why Steinhaus bothered to bottle this. If you think Budweiser is great beer, you might like this, but I wrote one word for this: Ugh. 2

Schlafly - Export IPA

For an IPA, this one is quite malty. There is a hint of hops on the nose, but that's about it. Usually IPA's have a big punch from the hops, but this one doesn't. Perhaps this is what an IPA is like after it has spent 3 months at sea going from England to India. 8

This one starts with hops on the nose and clean on the front of the tongue. Mid-mouth is a little malty with no real surprises. 9

Boulevard Brewing - Double-Wide IPA

Hoppy nose on this one, more like an IPA should be. Mid-mouth is clean and the hops are noticed on the finish. 8

Stout aged in barrels that held 12 year old Scotch. Definite stout nose with nice aromas from the roasted malts. Slight Scotch aroma and flavor. 9

Stout aged in barrels that held 16 year old Scotch. Smooth feel and quite chocolaty. Scotch a bit more noticeable over the 12 year old. 9

Stout aged in barrels that held 30 year old Scotch. Stout side of nose nearly gone. Taste is a wonderful blend of Scotch and roasted malt. This is one you side for days. 9

Pearl Street Brewing - Dankenstein IPA

Hops hit the nose nicely like an IPA should. It starts hoppy and it stays there all the way to the finish. A decent IPA. 7

Boulevard Brewing - Single-Wide IPA

Hops are on the nose and there is slight bitterness mid-mouth. Actually has a bit more IPA character than the double-wide, but not enough for what is expected of an IPA. 7

That's enough for part I. All post the over 11 at some other time. Don't forget that Friday, the 28th is Two Brothers Brewery tasting at Jungle Jim's.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Black Attack - From ale to pilsner

The black ale is finally bottled. The name of this brew is "Kiss of Winter Black Ale" and it is in the American Black Ale style I am developing. It smelled great while bottling, we shall see how it conditions. This one was in the secondary for several weeks and here's to hoping it aged to beauty.

Out of respect to Stone Brewing, I have decided to finally try and review their black Pilsner. This is their Juxtaposition Black Pilsner. A collaboration amongst them, BrewDog (the brewery in Scotland that is kicking it and taking names) and Cambridge Brewing Company. I found the story of this brew quite interesting and knew I just had to try it. It was of very limited release, but I was able to get some at Jungle Jim's in Fairfield.

From the pour, you know this ain't no ordinary pilsner done in a weird, black style. This is Stone, they do things over the top and this one does not disappoint. The pour is a bit thick and the head stands up strong and light brown. This is going into a Stone branded glass, of course, and it holds all 12oz well.

The aroma gives hints of hops and Belgian debittered malts. It feels like it wants to impart roasted malt tones, but the dehusked nature does not allow such. The hit on the tongue is all hops and hints of the Pilsner style. The chemical composition of the water needed for the malts differs slightly from that needed for Pilsner and it does show a bit. After all, this is a style taken to a high extreme. The hops presence though feels like a Pilsner; there but not overly bitter.

Mid-tongue, the magic that is Stone starts to happen. The feels is quite full given to its malts and a bit less refreshing than a Pilsner. The malt sweetness comes out and says hello. This is the same sweetness noticed in the nose. Again slight hints of the roasted malts give the enjoyer a chance to imagine a Belgian ale influence.

The finish lingers around a Pilsner then moves to a more hoppy base. The double dry hopping really shows up here. The bitterness felt is mostly hop, but there still is that lingering influence of the debittered malt. The roasted malt still make their presence known, they just don't overpower the beer's Pilsner ancestry.

I am sure some might want to call this beer a hybrid, Pilsner mixed with a Belgian stout, but I think that does a great disservice to what the brewers are trying to do here. Sure, this might be a one-off, but it may also start a new fade amongst the homebrewing set. Perhaps someday we may reflect at where it all started and thank the visionaries of Stone, BrewDog and Cambridge.

Thank you gentlemen.

Friday, August 7, 2009

On the road again

We are mostly packed and ready to head to Richmond, Virginia in the morning. A week's vacation at the in-laws. I hope I can relax a bit.

The black ale will spend at least one more week in the secondary. The chance to bottle just didn't present itself this past week. I cleaned and sanitized the airlock yesterday. The ale seems to be progressing nicely. Hopefully it will not get too warm while we are gone.

Recently I had some of my Cluster-Fuggles out of reused Sam Adams bottles. Some are ok, but some have an awful smell and taste just as bad. Something may have been in them or I did not sanitize well enough. Hopefully samples I have given do not have this issue.

I have not decided on what I will brew next. The last month or so has been crazy, so trying to find time to do brewing has been difficult. I do have another idea for a recipe circulating in the back of my head. I'm not ready to fire up BeerSmith and get to work, so I'll let it sit and veg a bit. Also, if anyone knows how to better use that software, please let me know. The User Interface is quite odd and annoying most of the time. I know it will do far more than I use, so I don't want money to have been wasted.

I big hello @taptheory: two young guys vlogging about beer. These guys are a bit brash and raw, but that's part of the charm. No real scripts, just off the cuff and open. They've asked me for a possible interview and it sounds like it could be interesting. Now just to find the time to get up to Toledo. Maybe I can turn them on to hoppier beers.

At the end of the month is the beer tasting for Two Brothers Brewery at Jungle Jim's. This brewery sounds interesting, but its three long weeks away.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Raspberry, likes it not

I had meant to do a review of Sprecher's Generation Porter, but after I spat it out, I needed something else. Perhaps the one I had was bad, perhaps it was too old or perhaps it is not for me, at any rate it was VERY sour. Even after pouring and letting it sit a bit, it was still way too sour for me. I like raspberries, but this porter was just too much.

So, what to try in its place? I had a report of some bottles spewing on people from some of the beers I made a few months ago, so I tried another one of those. By the looks of it, this is the kit porter I purchased from Listermann's. It has a nice roasted barley bite, though the hops have toned down quite a bit. Not as sweet as my stout aged into, this beer presents the tongue will somewhat balanced stout bitterness and ale hoppiness. I like it much better than when I made it, but it still has the feel of a kit. A nice introduction to the style; not much more. And no, the bottle did not spew on me.

For the locals, remember that Two Brother's Brewery will be at Jungle Jim's on the 28th of August. Call and let Ed know you are coming. Yeah, I know the new website design blows, that's why I am deep linking.

I was finally able to provide some of my local tasters with bottles of the "It's the Abbey" ale. This one started as a whole grain recipe claiming to be a Chimay clone. I converted it to extract and made my own changes. They liked the results, but stated it needed to age more. Nice. I'll do just that.

The Cluster-Fuggles ale has been a big hit. I will make this again soon, with just minor tweaks to the hop schedule. I want to see if I can start to brew some consistency into my beers. The barley wine will also get a second running soon. I need to ferment it before it gets too cold, but not while it is so warm. September perhaps.

'Night all.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

What is it?

I have a few bottles left of beer I made a few months ago. Since I didn't label them and used the same tops for various recipes, I've no idea which is which, especially in regard to the oatmeal stout version 1 and the kit porter. So tonight, I poured one of them and am trying to figure out what it is.

The pour is dark with a creme colored head. The smell seems to be that of the stout and so is the color. This stout has oatmeal and crystal malt. The is very little hops anywhere in the beer. It is very malty and the crystal sweetness is very pronounced. The finish is clean with a malty taste lingering.

My guess is that this is the stout due to all the crystal sweetness. The kit porter did not contain much crystal. It is quite good, though not as a stout. It is best described as an ale version of a dark Vienna lager.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Phat Squirrel

If there was ever a nutter beer, perhaps New Glarus Fat Squirrel would be it. Its claim is that it is a nut brown ale, but the color is too pale. The label provides a nice story and I like the imagery.

It pours a deep orange with a cream colored head. On the nose, there is noticeable caramel malt and hazel nut tones. I would swear there is a hint of vanilla as well. The start is sweet and it quickly turns toward nutty. Mid is all hazel nut and caramel sweetness. Alcohol is barely noticeable, given to its 5.8%. The hops is quite unnoticeable. Perhaps my sample has toned down over the time since bottling. I've had this box for well over a month and this is the first time I've tried this one. The finish is hazel nut with the slightest hint of hops.

Overall, this an easy drinking beer. It is smooth and refreshing. Nothing overpowers anything else. It is on the sweet side, so a good pairing would be spicy food, perhaps even food with lots of garlic. A quick swirl reveals strong nutty flavors and to me what smells of Munich malt. The head fads and moves down with the beer; nothing sticks to the side. I will look forward to the other bottles.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Checking the abbey

It is past time for a check of the "It's the Abbey" ale. So, into the freezer a bottle went for 20 minutes.

The area in which I am storing these bottles has been getting a bit warm these days. This is also where I ferment. The temperatures have been reaching 75 F, so the yeast esters are tending higher. The abbey will like that, but we will have to wait and see about the black ale. The latter has finally calmed down again. I hope to check the SG this weekend. I will also need more bottle caps before I tend to it.

Cold, the abbey ale has a nice smell. Hints of banana and clove are on the nose. The tip of the tongue receives the same, with a hint of hops. Mid-mouth, the sweetness kicks in, as does the alcohol bite, which is to be expected from the estimated 9.2% ABV. There seem to be traces of cinnamon in there too. The finish has a slight sour hint, but mostly it is esters and alcohol. There is some residual hop bitterness, but not much.

A few swirls and some warmth later, the experience becomes a bit more intense and alive. The finish adjusts to a bit more sweetness. The yeast esters are more enjoyable and smooth out the alcohol. I feel this beer is ready now, though squirreling some away in a cool, dark place would be a good idea too. Try it now and then again in October.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cincy Beer Fest - 2009

It would seem that Derek meeting Craig at the Jungle Jim's Spring Beer Fest was a most fortuitous event. This simple meeting lead me to be a photographer for the Cincy Beer Fest in Convington, Kentucky. The irony of the name and location are not lost on me, but is not something upon which I dwell.

Arriving at 1.30, it was a rainy start. The rain was off and on, but when it did, it poured. Those few who ventured out at that time were greeted by smiling volunteers. The visitor's delight was in the lack of lines. By about 3, however, the skies had cleared a bit and the crowd started to grow. Throughout the day, all it did was grow larger. There seemed to be very little limit to how large it would get, but it did finally stop. Turn out was great and everyone was very well behaved, despite the limitless nature of their tickets. Even the local constabulary hired to keep the peace remarked how well the drunks were behaving.

Most of the beers available were on tap, though some of the best were in half liter bottles. Though there was no Miller or Bud Lite on hand, there was Little Kings, PBR, Schlitz and PBR light. But there was also Guinness 250 and Stone Levitation. Over all, the beer selection was very good and only a few things ran out. Samuel Adams had two new beers for taste evaluation and voting, both were excellent. One was a pilsner, brewed by Jim for his daughter's wedding, and the other a basic American ale. It was difficult, but I chose the ale.

As the day worn on, taking pictures of people became easier. Many people asked if pictures could be purchased and more thought I was from a local paper. Even the photographers from the local papers thought I was from the other. Toward the end of the night, several, mostly women, insisted on taking my picture, so I am in several. The selling of my photos is new territory for me, so hopefully the site is set-up properly.

Overall, it was a long, tiring day, but great fun. Had it been typical July weather, I do think it would have been quite miserable. The cooler weather aided in getting people out in the late afternoon as opposed to mid-evening. The crowd was great and the attitudes better. The only negative I have is that there was very little representation from the breweries, so questions about some of the beers were not answered too insightfully.

Had a great time and met all manner of people. See you in February.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Русское пиво

Up tonight is Sprecher's Russian Imperial Stout. Typical of the style, the beer pours thick and the head is a medium color brown. Even a bit cold, it sits up nice.

On the nose is roasted barley, with nutty hints and alcohol looming in the background. At the start of tasting is all roasted barley, just like it should be. Mid-mouth, the beer balances to quite neutral with the malt sweetness toning out the roast. The alcohol is also less noticeable. Swishing it around show how fizzy this beer is. It finishes with roasted malt and alcohol.

I was quite disappointed with this beer, but I am more than willing to try it again. Perhaps my taste buds are off, but I've had better Russian Imperials.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Je suis belge

Due to the fires and meetings today, I had too much work leftover tonight to get to racking the black ale. Perhaps tomorrow.

I did get something constructive done during supper and that was a review of New Glarus Imperial Saison. Traditionally brewed as a seasonal refreshing beer, this version kicks up things a few notches. Should one have something sweet before trying this beer, one is best served by cleansing the palette first. The first hit of sourness has a good pucker factor which will be highly enhanced by starting with a sweet and non-neutral tongue.

At the start, sourness greats the nose and it doesn't disappoint. The tip of the tongue gets some of the sour, as well as the alcohol (8.7% ABV). Mid-mouth the malts, yeast and sourness do a nice dance around. There are some fruity flavors in there, especially the apricot. The finish is much like the start with sourness and alcohol. Both linger for quite some time afterward.

This one will have your mouth watering for more.

Monday, July 13, 2009

When the Piper plays...

Today Jungle Jim's finally had the Stone 13th Anniversary ale, so I picked up a couple of bottles. I'll let them sit for a bit and will review it later. Up tonight is Sprecher's Piper's Scotch Ale.

As there are two styles of Scotch Ale, I read the label to determine how to set my brain. This one belongs in the smoked malt category. Awesome, let's get started.

On the nose, there are hints of smoked peat and a smell that reminds me of biscuit malt. A peek at the website reveals Aromatic and Vienna, so perhaps that is what I am detecting. I will need to make something with these to better differentiate in the future. No hops or other malts on the nose. It has a nice light brown head, though not thick, and a red-brown color.

On the tip of the tongue is a bit of alcohol and smoked malt. As it continues to mid-mouth, the malt sweetness comes up to meet everything else. Crystal malt provides the sweetness and toasted malt aspects are well balanced. Nothing gets out of hand here. The delivery of a Scotch ale is excellent.

The finish is an interesting blend of smoked malt and Vienna malt sweetness. The alcohol presents a little stronger and lingers longer than anything else. A few swirls of the beer around the mouth will numb up the gums a little. Very nice.

The brew reminds me quit a bit of Highlander that used to be brewed by Henninger Bräu. Sadly, this beer is no longer available in favor of Radler. Papazian is right, the German beer culture is being lost. Highlander is a beer that was reported to be brewed with Whiskey Malt. I am not sure what Henninger Bräu meant by that, but it was a smoky flavored beer. Beer Advocate puts it in the Märzen/Oktoberfest category, but I'm not sure that is correct. At any rate, my mother really liked it and I've long been looking for a replacement for her to try. Perhaps now I've found one. I'll have to get more and see.

Overall, it is a nice Scotch Ale of the smokey variety and is one I would have again. I'd give it a B+.

A quick Google reveals that Henninger Bräu was purchased by Binding-Brauerei in 2001. Kind of a bummer for a brewery started in 1655.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Curious Case of a Beer Review

Ever wonder what a beer would be like if it was brewed it by mixing several styles at once? Say, mix malts that are used in ales and lagers, through in hops that run the gamut too and then top it all off with a Pilsner yeast. The result is eclectic blend of flavors, styles and expectations. The beer is quest is Shmaltz Brewing's Coney Island Lager. The weird clown face on the label is quite appropriate for this beer. Several of us tried it last Friday and there seemed to be very middle ground on this one. I was in the like it camp, while others disliked it out right. The very thing that makes it interesting is the very thing some dislike about it; it's blending of styles. One may either view this beer as a good attempt at blending or see it as a beer that has no identity. It is one I would drink again.

Tonight also marks a sanity check on the abbey ale. Based on a recipe from Cat's Meow 3 that claims to be a Chimay clone, I converted to extract and played with it a bit. The pour is a bit low in carbonation, but it has only been in the bottle a week. The smell is right on as well. Mid is good with a hint of an alcohol bite. At bottling, the gravity difference estimated the ABV to be 9.2%. As it ages, this might increase a bit. The weak part is the yeast esters. I used a Canadian/Belgian yeast. It has some Belgian character, but not quite enough. The finish has a hint of hops, but not much. That should tone down as the beer ages. This is one definitely goes in the "let's develop it a bit more" column.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Rating my own

I thought I would digress from my reviewing of Sprecher and New Glarus to review one of my own brews. It is unlabeled, but based on what poured, it is my Irish Red. The head is an off-white and looks thick enough to spoon out. As the drink draws down, it tightly clings to the sides of the glass.

The aroma reveals the hop bitterness and a hint of malt. As it warms, the malt becomes a bit better pronounced. On the tip of the tongue, the hop bitterness is about all there is. As it washes to mid-mouth, the bitterness is mixed with hops. The malto-dextrin gives the beer a full feel. Alcohol is noticeable, but not overwhelming.

The finish is hoppy with only the slightest hint of malt. The bitterness does linger in the mouth and the hops gives the beer a dry finish. The hop and malt mix is unbalanced and feels like a typical homebrew. I need to work on the recipe and hop schedule. The malt sweetness is good and the color is on the darker side, but in the red zone. The recipe holds promise.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Black Ale everywhere

What better way to blog about the black ale I am making than to include a review of Sprecher's Irish style Stout. I'll leave it to the reader to hold on and figure out which is which. My former boss didn't call me Mister Non Sequitur for nothing. I will try to leave Stacy Haiduk and Rosalind Allen out of it as this is no review of Sea Quest (or other odd movie).

Cold, it pours well with a light brown head. The aroma is of roasted barley and not much else. The tongue is meet with malt bitterness and a nice feel. The finish is clean with a bit of residual bitterness. Will let it warm up.

It took quite a long time for 4 gallons to start to boil, but the Munich malt provide a nice brown foam while waiting. Due to the nearly full nature of my 5 gallon pot, I put the Warrior hops in a bag to help prevent boil over. That is what is seen floating.

Steam starting to pick up now, bubbling is just at the start. The foam will be mostly gone when the hot break starts to happen. This is one of the main reasons to boil for so long. That, and to get the bittering hops to do their thing. One ounce of Warrior at 15.8% alpha for an hour is all it will take, though one ounce of Ahtanum (5.5% alpha) will go 20 minutes, so it will give a little bit to the bittering.

Now a bit warmer, the malt sweetness starts to become noticed. The bitterness is still there, but true to the Irish Stout, the drink is still quite smooth. Nod to the Green Isle.

Boiling really going now. Will have to put camera in a safe place in case it all breaks loose. The 3 ounces of Ahtanum will go in at 20 minutes to go, 10 to go and off. At 15 minutes to go will the Irish Moss and at 5 to go, 2 ounces of Malto-Dextrin. The ingredients list looks like so:
  • 8 pounds of LME (Pilsen Light 2-5 L)
  • 2 pounds De-Bittered Black (Dingemans 500 L)
  • 1.5 pounds Crystal Malt (120 L)
  • 1 pound Munich Malt (10.5 L)
  • 1 oz Warrior (15.8%)
  • 3 oz Ahtanum (5.5%)
  • 1 tsp Irish Moss
  • 2 oz Malto-Dextrine
  • 2 tsp Gypsum
Warmer still, head gone and stoutiness is thin. This does remind me of the 250 anniversary stout from Guinness. A bit thin, but good.

Now to today's mishap. Seems the airlock may have clogged, pressure built up and the boom! Two parts of the 3 part airlock went flying, complete with splatter on the ceiling and lots of overrun on the lid and around the bucket on the floor. It stinks that this closet has carpet. It will take some doing to get that out.

As for aroma, it didn't smell that bad, yet. I cleaned the bulk off the fermintor and moved it to the kitchen. Carefully removed the lid and inspected the contents. Nice bubble layer of CO2 and it smelled ok. Cleaned the lid and returned it to the basement, this time the laundry room since the sun was mostly down and no longer shining in the window. It is cooler in there too. A few minutes later, the airlock was bubbling away like it should be. Several paper towels, spayed cleaner and a purchased ShamWow later, all is quite. Still to come is clean the pots from last night and vacuuming the closet once it has fully dried. The stored bottles will also need to be returned to their resting place. On the fun of homebrewing!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

In defense of a (new) style

As I wait for the wort chiller to do its thing on the ale, I thought I give a few minutes to a post about this style. I did take some photos of things during the boil, I'll post them later.

The 1996 Samuel Adams Longshot bottle from which I poured some of my stout tells all about my confusion and incredulity of the black ale. One of the winning entries that year was for a black lager. This style is also know as Schwarzbier. I find it quite unbelievable that some homebrewer didn't take a version of this style and make it into an ale. Yet, search though I have, the only version I can find as an ale is Belgian.

This is a dark, yet not grain bitter beer. It is quite different from a porter or stout is this regard, little to no bitterness from the roasted grain. When I started to make some guidelines for my American ale version, I kept this requirement in mind. The bitterness would be all hops, with hop characteristics in the mid and after taste. I still submit this as a new style, though I am well aware that it may already exist, just be extinct in modern brewing. After all, it seems the going thing now is smoked ales, in particular a porter. Ok, Rauchbier, I've seen this before on the lager side.

So, I come to the end of the soapbox talk. I submit that the Schwarzbier and Belgian Black ales can be used as a guide to make a new American ale style. Dark and malty, with loads of hop character and no grain bitterness (unless one overcooks the grains and gets tannins). We shall see how it turns out and where it goes from here. It should be fun, none-the-less.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Jimmy Crack'd Wheat

While I wait for the next time to test my homebrew, it is time for another beer review. This time it s New Glarus Crack'd Wheat. The label promises something a bit out of the ordinary for a wheat beer. This is a mix of a true German Hefeweissen and an America Pale Ale. Not being a big fan of wheat beers, I like the idea. This also means I tend to pour it like homebrew, leaving most of the yeast sediment in the bottom.

The beer does pour fizzy and alert. The white head is a bit more energetic, perhaps from the bottle conditioning. The head does settle down rather nice and the color is a pale, cloudy yellow. On the nose is clove with just a slight touch of cinnamon. The fruity yeast esters are also quite noticeable while cold, but not overpowering. The nose presents the promise of a refreshing wheat.

The tip of the tongue gets some spice, but sweetness comes out as it roles over. Mid-mouth brings the taste of clove and cinnamon. The yeast and hops provide enough citrus for me, I would not add a lemon slice to this one.

It finishes with a bit of hop bitterness, quickly overshadowed by the sweeter wheat. Clove is still present afterward, as is the citrus. For a wheat, the finish is clear, but not light. It does refresh, but leaves on wanting "just one more sip".

As the beer warms, the various flavors become more alive, but still well balanced. The clove becomes more noticeable on the nose. A quick swirl returns a layer of the whitehead and releases more of the smells. Mid-mouth the flavors become more full and the finish becomes a bit less tart.

Overall, this is a nice wheat beer, but has enough ale like flavor to get the non-wheat drinker to try it again.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sprecher Mai Bock

Tonight is a review of Sprecher Mai Bock. This is a seasonal brew for the spring, hence the name Mai, which is German for May. True to the style, it has a nice orange-gold color and white head. At temperature, it has a nice sweet smell with a slight hint of hops. There are also hints of yeast esters. The tip of the tongue is met with this mixture as it washes over.

Mid-mouth, the beer remains a bit sweet and the alcohol makes itself present. Esters and malt sweetness swirl around with the very slightest of hop presence. The beer finishes with some hop bitterness and something that reminds me of vanilla.

Overall, this is a nice example of the Mai Bock style. Nothing really stands out. It is better than some, but not as good as others. Next time, I'd like to try this brew a bit fresher. It isn't really one that will keep for long past the season.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

American Black Ale

The next recipe I am working on is for a winterized version of an American Black Ale. Only one problem, that style doesn't seem to exist. Sure, I've been able to find recipes for Belgian Black Ale and there are several version of Black Lager, but no Black Ale. There are browns, but that's not black. So, what is a black ale? Think of a stout without the roasted malt bitterness and more hops.

"Isn't that a porter?", you may ask.

No, a porter is lighter than the needed color and still has too much malt bitterness. The target is little to no malt bitterness, only malt sweetness and really dark color. The hops and yeast are more of the ale style.

So, I will go about creating this style, if nothing else just to let me explore what I want. Maybe someday it will be a recognized style and no doubt some craft brewer will make a gold medal winning example. I have no delusion that I will get any credit. I will just smile and know I first push the rock.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sprecher Winter Brew Lager

Next up on the review parade is the Sprecher Winter Brew Lager. This is a seasonal beer and is a sampling from last season's run.

Like most Sprecher beers, this one pours up nice and foamy. The head is a light brown and the body of the beer is dark, very dark. This one falls into the dunkel (dark) bock style, with some added flavors for winter.

Due to the use of German dehusked dark malts, the beer is quite smooth for its dark character. The malty sweetness is noticeable with only a hint of bitterness. On the nose is a combination of malt and hops. The Cascade is the first hop that comes to mind. The crystal and Munich malts dance around the tongue while the carbonation dances. The finish is full with Chinook giving some bitterness. Looking at the website I see there are two other hops in use (Mt. Hood and Tettnanger) that add to the mix. I am not able to distinguish either of those, but I am still relearning to identify the hops by smell and taste.

Overall, this is a good beer and would probably be better enjoyed mid-Winter, as intended. This would go well with a nice Gulaschsuppe and Brotchen, especially after a good day on the slopes. Raise your glass and toast the winter snow.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Abbey Cometh

Today I was finally able to get to racking the Chimay clone to secondary. Before doing so, I took a gravity reading of 1.010. It's been in the primary for two weeks and it started with a gravity of 1.080. The yeast in question is Wyeast Labs #3864 Canadian/Belgian. This yeast tolerate to 12%, so there should be some left over for carbonation when I bottle it in a few weeks.

Yesterday, I tried Stone Soup by New Glarus. This is a nice take on an abbey ale, complete with a yeast cloud. For an abbey, it is quite light and fruity. Very nice beer to enjoy out on the front porch on a hot July evening.

Did another check of the Cluster-Fuggles ale. I like the maltiness, but there is too much of a bitterness bite from the chocolate malt. The hop bitterness is not bad, but conflicts. It has some nut brown qualities and seems to wonder between a porter and a brown ale. It was bottled on the 7th of June, so it has only been in 2 weeks. I have some ideas on changes, but will try again in another week.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Waiting for tomorrow

What a crazy week this was. Nearly a week since my last post and so much to write. I did find my Flying Dog notes, but have not posted them. I never did rack the Chimay clone to secondary, but I hope to do it Saturday. There are others things to discuss like the new gravity measuring tool I bought off e-bay. There's the AHA conference on the left coast. Papazian is traveling through Holland discussing all manner of interesting beers. But who cares about all that? Tomorrow is Friday.

I sure some are wondering, "Yeah, so what?" So what? Tomorrow is Friday, the 19th of June, 2009!

"Again, so what?"

It is time for the Spring Beer Fest at Jungle Jim's! I will be there, with camera in tow. Last Saturday I was over there buying priming sugar and looking for Gypsum (they didn't have any of the latter) and an employee in the beer/wine section asked if I was bringing my better camera equipment this time. Yes, I am. Ok, the better stuff is not mine, but I am borrowing it.

Here is what I will have with me on Friday. My trust Nikon D80, my dad's Nikkor 18-70mm AF-S 2.5-4.5 G ED lens and the Sigma EF-500DG Super flash (my dad and brother split this). Yeah, the lens is a heavy beast and the flash is really made for the D70s, but I could not swing the SB-900 AF yet (ok Waxie, get some good plays out there, 6 bad months is enough) and the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di LD is still out of reach. After a few samples it may feel like I have a bowling ball around my neck, but at least I'll "look" a bit more professional. So, if you are there and I stop to take your picture, smile and give me a good pose. I'm not just some wack-o looking to take pictures. I'm some wack-o looking to record great memories. As with the pictures from the Stone tasting, if you want a print of some of them, let me know and I'll send them to your nearest Wallgreens.

Time to pack it in and get some good sleep in prep for tomorrow. It is going to be one crazy evening.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Beer review and some sampling

Next up on beer reviewing is Sprecher Premium Reserve Abbey Tripple. I poured the beer cold on purpose. The beer is a nice yellow color with a bit of yeast cloud do to it's unfiltered nature. It starts sweet with hints of the wheat malt on the nose. The sweetness stays fairly constant as it warms up. The hop presence is very slight and not bitter due to an IBU value of 13. Mid-mouth and finish are quite fruity, with a hint of alcohol. As abbey ales go, I find it quite enjoyable and would put with Anderson Valley's tripple as a comparison.

If I get a chance to test my Cluster-Fuggles ale, I will update the blog.

The edit.

The Cluster-Fuggles was bottled on Sunday, so just 6 days in. There is the hiss of carbonation when opening and it pours to a deep brown color. It almost qualifies as a black ale, but not quite. The head is pronounced and a light brown. It stays with the drink the whole way. The aroma is that of Fuggles and malt. The Munich malt is noticed mid-mouth as is the Fuggles. The finish has hint of the chocolate malt and hops. Not quite a hop-heads delight, but is more than a typical ale. This mix holds much promise. There are many modifications I want to try with this recipe, but I will do one at a time. The first will be to increase the Munich malt to a pound, then I would like to try more hops and have a better blend from Cluster to Fuggles. Say, move some Cluster into the flavor and some Fuggles into the bittering. At some point I will try a darker Crystal malt (say 60-80L). I like the alcohol where it is at 5.2%.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Beer review: Sprecher Special Amber Lager

My friendly neighborhood Sprecher supplier wants me to review some beers given to me, so I am finally obliging. First up is their Special Amber Lager.

I first let it warm a bit from the fridge for about 10 minutes (ok, I had to get the kids in bed). It pours well with a nice white head. The beer is a bit of an orangy-gold color. On the nose are hints of malt and hops (my first guess being Hallertau). Already it is an interesting blend. Almost an Oktoberfest without the spiciness. The tip of the tongue delivers hops and mid mouth it gets sweet. An Oktoberfest with a hint of Vienna? Or is it the other way round? The finish is midly hop bitter.

As it warms some more, the hops become more pronounced on the nose and finish. It moves me to think of a hoppy Vienna style lager, but with lower alcohol. The blend of Cascade and Mount Hood hops is interesting. The latter showing its Hallertau roots, while the former pushes the idea of a lager around toward ales. I am not sure, but it seems the Cascade offer a bit more of the bitterness while the Mount Hood fill the nose and mouth.

A bit warmer still and the malt sweetness comes up more on the nose. Finish is now hoppier and more bitter. With IBU of only 22, it will not get too bitter and the Cascade has become more noticeable. All round, a well done lager that would go as well with corned beef and cabbage as it would a Rot Wurst mit Sauerkraut und Pomme Frits; perhaps a Goulash Suppe as well.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

New and old

What a crazy few days. Saturday I tried a different brew supply place: Paradise Brewing Supplies. It was a bit of a haul for me, but it was nearly all Interstate. The place is much smaller than Listermann's, but they do have a charm all their own. They have a better selection of equipment and a much better selection of bulk extracts, though they, like Listermann, do not know the SRM for any of them. I was there to get the supplies I needed for my next endeavor. I converted to 8 lbs of a light Pilsen liquid extract. I also picked up a wort chiller. It is the immersion type and worked great. With the cold on a slow trickle, it brought my wort down to pitching temperature in about 10 minutes.

The place has a feel of a real hobbist shop. Along one windowed wall are plastic garbage bags of various grains. In the back there seems to be a TV repair shop. On one shelf there was a hard cider in secondary and mead was also being conditioned. The staff was quite knowledgeable and personable. They were incredulous for how far I drove and I would like to thank the homebrewer I met at the last tasting who told me about the place.

Once home and brewing, I made a few modifications, mostly out of necessity. The first is that I neglected the half pound of 60L Crystal malt. Oooppss. The second was that we had light brown sugar, not dark. No worries. I also added about a cup of some dark honey we've had sitting around for months. It is from a local beekeeper on Blue Rock road. I need to get more. The ingredients were so:
  • 8 lbs light malt extract (liquid)
  • 1.5 lbs Munich malt (5L)
  • 2 ounces Chocolate malt (350L)
  • 2 lbs light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon gypsum
  • 1 teaspoon Irish Moss
  • 1 oz Kent Goldings (4.5%)
  • 1 oz Hallertau (3.7%)
  • Wyeast 3864 Can/Belg
Hops boiled as per recipe. The Munich and Chocolate malt I did old school by placing in a gallon of water, bring to a boil, drain through a metal colander over the boil pot and 1 gallon of 150 degree water sparged through. I added the brown sugar at the same time as the extract, though I added the honey just after the Irish Moss. The color was on target and it was a bit sweet when going into the fermentor. The OG was a bit high at 1.080. We shall see if the yeast can handle it.

My brother was over Sunday and after dealing with the pool, I asked if he wanted to help me bottle the Cluster-Fuggles Ale. The final gravity was 1.012 giving 5.2% ABV. It smelled very good and had a nice dark brown color. Bottles are capped, labeled and put away. I will visit it in a week.

I also tried the Oatmeal Stout, version 2, again today. It is getting MUCH better, but still needs to age a bit more. I have given a few of these out and I'd really like to know what others think. In a week or two, I need to take a bottle by Listermann's and get some more opinions.

Until next time, the kitchen is closed.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Vintage Beer Review

It has been nearly a week since the Stone Brewery Rare and Vintage beer tasting event on the 29th, so it is past time I give my impressions.

Russian Imperial Stout 2006 (10.8%)
Noticeable alcohol on the nose with a hint of roasted barley. Feel is very smooth with alcohol on the tongue. If velvet was a liquid, this would be it. Best of the night.

Russian Imperial Stout 2007 (10.8%)
Malty nose with a hoppy finish. Malty mid-mouth and less smooth than the 2006. Shows were the previous year's was. Nice example of the style.

Russian Imperial Stout 2009 (10.5%)
Nice comparison to the previous year's batches. Alcohol on nose and hoppy. Flavor is less organized and more intense than those that have aged a bit. Buy 6 bottles of this and enjoy one each year starting in 2010.

12th Anniversary - July 2008 (9.2%)
Contains Argentinian cocoa to give bitterness due to the hop shortage at the time of brewing. The cocoa provides no chocolate flavor. Hints of coffee and chocolate from the malted grains. Smooth finish. It is a Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout.

11th Anniversary - September 2007 (8.7%)
Hoppy nose and mid-mouth. Very interesting flavors with a stout-like finish. I need to have this again as my notes are too incomplete. I may have returned to taking some pictures at this time.

Sublimely Self Rigteous (8.7%)
Heavy grapefruit notes on the nose and taste. Mid-mouth is malty. A nice bow to the hophead, without overpowering everything else.

Cali Belgique (6.8%)
A very interesting blend of two styles: Belgian ale and IPA. Nice golden color with a hoppy start. Hints of grapefruit in the hops. Finish is sweet. Best described as having an IPA start and a Belgian finish. This was my pick of second best of the night.

Double Bastard 2006 (10%)
Has a malty start with a slight hint of hops in the nose. Gets more malty mid-mouth and finishes with a slight hint of hops. Could be described as a slightly hoppy barley wine.

Double Bastard 2007 (10%)
Malty start and nose. Seems less hoppy than the 2006, which seems backward. Very nice beer to sip on a warm night.

Old Guardian 2007 (11.26%)
Begins malty, turns sweet mid-mouth and has a hoppy finish. By this time in the night it is all I can do to determine what I am drinking and write some notes.

Old Guardian 2008 (11.26%)
As expected, is hoppier than the 2007, mixed with malt sweetness. Alcohol and hops are more noticeable mid-mouth. My pick of third best of the night.

Old Guardian 2009 (11.3%)
Hops and grapefruit start, nose, mid-mouth and finish. The hopheads barley wine this. Get a case and let it age two years before opening the first one. Then open one every year or two. Let this one age a bunch.

The 12 beers, in order, right to left (yeah, I know it is backward, but it was arranged by a bunch of lovers, what do you expect??).

Afterward, I was able to fill a case with our empty bottles (12 x 22oz). I will now use them to bottle my own homebrew; let it be worthy. Saturday afternoon they had the 9 vintage beers on-sale (what was left from the brewery shipment) for $15 a piece, limit one bottle per type per person. The other 3 (Cal Belgique, 2009 Stout and 2009 Old Guardian) were on sale on the normal shelves. The Cal Belgique was going fast, so I bought it along with 3 of the vintage: 2006 Stout, 2007 Double Bastard and 2007 Old Guardian). All four are aging under my steps, where the temperature is cool, but unfortunately not 55. I will get examples of the 2009 vintage later.

Once again I would like to thank Ed and his crew for an excellent job on this tasting and Jungle Jim for having the vision to hire such people. It was more than worth the price of admission.